Daily Archives: February 4, 2014

Questions about Sin: Is Joking a Sin? What Does the Bible Say about Telling Jokes?

 

Joking is an interesting topic and difficult to paint with one broad brush. Biblically speaking, joking itself is not regarded as sin, although in some instances, it certainly can be. Proverbs 18:21 tells us that “the tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” James 3:3–12 compares the tongue to a bit in a horse’s mouth, a ship’s rudder and a fire. The tongue is a powerful thing and words can either bring great life or great hurt. There are ways to joke that edify. “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22). The Psalms are full of references to laughter, which is what good joking produces. But there is also a way to joke that is demeaning and harmful, and we are called to “not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29).

Our words should always honor God and communicate that we value that which He has made. The best way to know whether our joking is bordering on the sinful is to seek the Holy Spirit and ask for His conviction. He can make us sensitive to when a joke is appropriate and when it may not be. If there is any doubt in our minds, or if our consciences are being pricked by our joking, it is probably best to forego it. There is also the issue of making others stumble, which we can easily do with jokes that we may feel are perfectly innocent, but which others see as offensive or hurtful. Our liberty should never be exercised at the expense of another’s conscience (Romans 14:13–17).

Occasional jokes and jesting, if they are appropriate, are probably for the most part innocent. But there are those who make jokes so often that they can hardly say a sentence without it containing a joke of some sort. This is hardly the most appropriate lifestyle for a Christian, however, as we are told to “live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” (Titus 2:12). As with all “gray areas” in the Christian life, seeking God’s wisdom regarding our speech is the most profitable way to go (James 1:5).[1]

 


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

Catholic Questions: What Is Iconoclasm?

 

Iconoclasm literally means “icon-breaking,” which includes the religious as well as political destruction of images or monuments, usually—though not always—those of another religious group. Iconoclasm is frequently a component of major domestic political or religious changes. Iconoclasm is the belief that there should not be religious pictures or sacred images or religious monuments because they are seen as a form of idolatry. People who engage in or support iconoclasm are called “iconoclasts,” a term that has come to be applied figuratively to any person who breaks or disdains established dogma or conventions. Conversely, people who revere or venerate religious images are called “iconolaters.” In a Byzantine context they are known as “iconodules” or “iconophiles.”

Though iconoclasm may be carried out by people of different religions, it is often the result of sectarian disputes between factions of the same religion. For example, the making of portraits of Christ and the saints was opposed in the early Christian church, but icons had grown to become a very popular form of worship by the end of the 6th century. The defenders of icon worship emphasized the symbolic nature of the images. There was opposition to this worship which led to the “iconoclastic controversy” by the Byzantine emperor Leo II in A.D. 726. This controversy continued in the Eastern Church for more than a century before icons were once again accepted.

The iconoclastic controversy stimulated the Byzantine artists to strive for spiritual revelation in religious art rather than for naturalistic representation. The churches of the Eastern Orthodox Church are generally decorated only with flat pictures, bas-reliefs, and mosaics. Iconoclasm was also a feature of the Protestant Reformation. The Puritans were especially hostile to the use of religious images, and some Protestants still consider their use idolatrous.

In Christianity, iconoclasm has generally been motivated by a literal interpretation of the Ten Commandments, which forbid the making and worshipping of “graven images” (see Exodus 20:4). Statues and portraits of saints and religious figures were also common in the Western church, though some Protestant sects eventually rejected them. Islam still bans all icons, and iconoclasm has played a role in the conflicts between Muslims and Hindus in India.[1]

 


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

The Depressed Soul’s Cry to God

You’re reading the fourth in a five-part BCC Grace & Truth blog series on biblical counseling and depression. Few issues are more painful. God’s Word provides us with wisdom for addressing depression with compassion so we can care well and wisely. Today’s post is The Depressed Soul’s Cry to God by Paul Tautges.   Continue reading →

Short Videos: The Significance of the Dead Scrolls by Josh McDowell

Most of us have heard of the Dead Sea Scrolls and their discovery.  But why are they important?  You can find out more by clicking on the four videos below:
Old Testament: Dead Sea Scrolls Old Testament: Dead Sea Scroll Finding
Old Testament: Significance of Dead Sea Scrolls Old Testament: Dead Sea Scrolls Contribution
The videos are part of a series entitled “Is the Bible Reliable?”  Which can be found here on http://www.Josh.org.

Ligonier Ministries Blog links to several free columns and articles from this month

 

My Reality: Hating My Actions

“Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.  For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.” —Romans 7:17, 18 Here is a place where we must not forget from where we came, and with what we have been previously taught.  Though I am dead to the law and resurrected unto Christ, the law is unchanging as a standard of God, made even more visible and apparent through the perfect obedience and righteousness of Christ, wherein the law has been fulfilled.  As my saved soul has been declared justified, having my sins imputed to Christ as the perfect sacrifice for sins, and having Christ’s righteousness accounted to me, I still have mortal flesh because I am sold under sin (Romans 7:14).   Understanding this, the apostle reminds me, “Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.”

Confessions of a Former Charismatic, Part 2: Why I’m No Longer a Charismatic

In part one of this “confession,” I talked about some of my experiences as a Charismatic, including the time I encountered Benny Hinn. For the formative years of my Christian life, I fully embraced the Charismatic viewpoint. I spoke in tongues, believed that God raised up healers and prophets today, and considered churches that weren’t practicing “The Gifts” to be dead. In this second part, I want to talk briefly about why I changed my views.

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7 Mistakes Leaders Make

By Chuck Lawless

I love the Bible for its honesty. In fact, the Bible’s bluntness about even the leaders of God’s people is one argument for its Holy Spirit-led inspiration. Writers who determine on their own what to include in the story would likely have omitted stories that paint spiritual heroes in a negative light—but the Spirit would not allow such as He “carried along” the writers of the Bible (2 Peter 1:20-21). Indeed, the Bible stories warn us against making the same mistakes these leaders—most of them significant leaders for God’s people—made:

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An open letter to John MacArthur by Don Johnson

The following is an open letter to Dr. John MacArthur of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California as well as of the Grace to You radio program. Recently Dr. MacArthur hosted a conference exposing the many errors of Charismatism. I appreciate the work done in the conference and recommend the book and conference as a resource on Charismatism.

However, the conference leaves me with questions, some of which were raised in the discussion forums of the conference itself, and some that rise from the ongoing relationship between Dr. MacArthur and some who support the Charismatic Movement. Specifically, I wonder about the continuing cooperation with men like John Piper in ministry partnership, as seen in the speakers list for the upcoming Together for the Gospel conference.

While the letter that follows is my own work, many brethren in our Fellowship share these concerns. I do not speak for all, but I am sure that many would like clear answers to the questions I raise.

An attempt has been made to contact Dr. MacArthur through some of his representatives prior to publication, but no response has been forthcoming

— Don Johnson, editor, Proclaim & Defend

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The Dow Has Already Fallen More Than 1000 Points From The Peak Of The Market

That didn’t take long. On Monday, the Dow was down another 326 points. Overall, the Dow has now fallen more than 1000 points from the peak of the market (16,588.25) back in late December. This is the first time that we have seen the Dow drop below its 200-day moving average in more than a year, and there are many that believe that this is just the beginning of a major stock market decline. Meanwhile, things are even worse in other parts of the world. For example, the Nikkei is now down about 1700 points from its 2013 high. This is causing havoc all over Asia, and the sharp movement that we have been seeing in the USD/JPY is creating a tremendous amount of anxiety among Forex traders. For those that are not interested in the technical details, what all of this means is that global financial markets are starting to become extremely unstable.

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You Can Buy A House For One Dollar Or Less In Economically Depressed Cities All Over America

Would you like to buy a house for one dollar? If someone came up to you on the street and asked you that question, you would probably respond by saying that it sounds too good to be true. But this is actually happening in economically-depressed cities all over America. Of course there are a number of reasons why you might want to think twice before buying any of these homes, and I will get into those reasons in just a little bit. First, however, it is worth noting that many of the cities where these “free houses” are available were once some of the most prosperous cities in the entire country. In fact, the city of Detroit once had the highest per capita income in the entire nation. But as millions of good jobs have been shipped overseas, these once prosperous communities have degenerated into rotting, decaying hellholes. Now homes that once housed thriving middle class families cannot even be given away. This is happening all over America, and what we are witnessing right now is only just the beginning.

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Extortion 17: A Scandal Worse than Benghazi?

But just three months later on August 5th 2011, there was an incident that President Obama, and the media do not want the American people to know about. It is the story of the largest single loss of life in the Afghanistan combat theater of operations. As well, it is the largest ever loss of life for the Naval Special Warfare (NSW) community, our revered US Navy SEALS.

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Roman Catholics And Protestants in Dialogue

There’s a major misunderstanding within the evangelical community that talks between Roman Catholics and Protestants now reveal the Church of Rome is part of the Body of Christ.

In this new piece, Apprising Ministries presents you with materials which remind you that the Roman Catholic Church is not even a biblical church at all.

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Celente – No Way Out As Global Ponzi Scheme Collapse Begins

Today the man who remarkably predicted months ahead of time that the Fed would taper in December, then again in January, and who also predicted the global market plunge that we are now seeing, warned KWN that there is no way out this time for central planners as the global Ponzi scheme has now begun…
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Albert Mohler Blog: “The New American Religion: The Rise of Sports and the Decline of the Church”

In his latest Blog Essay, “The New American Religion: The Rise of Sports and the Decline of the Church,” Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. discusses the real sense in which “big-time sports represent America’s new civic religion, and football is its central sacrament.”

Click here to read why Dr. Mohler concludes, “Americans may not know who their god is, but you can be sure most know who their team is.”

“We must stand up for Middle East’s persecuted Christians.” A must-read column.

Joel C. Rosenberg's Blog

crossThis morning I want to encourage you to read a well-written and important column by Johnnie Moore, a professor of religion and Senior Vice President of Liberty University, on the plight of Christians in the Middle East today.

Also, here’s an interviewMoore did on Fox News discussing the issue, saying the “Arab Spring has become the Christian Winter.”

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We must stand up for Middle East’s persecuted Christians

By Johnnie Moore

(the following are excerpts — to read the full column, please click here.)

Christianity began in the East, not the West, yet today Christians in the East are enduring an all-out-assault by Islamic terrorists, while Christians in the West live their lives largely oblivious to it all. This has to change.

This is no imaginary persecution; in Syria alone there have been reports of kidnappings, Christian communities intentionally displaced by militants and, worst of all, shootings and…

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LOST – The Holiness of God in Churches

Truth in Grace

Preaching about the love of God as if He is like the friendly grandfather is a false gospel. God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life is a false gospel. The true gospel is one that exalts the holiness of God, the supremacy of Jesus Christ, and the total depravity of every person who has ever lived.

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