Daily Archives: February 14, 2014

A Quick History of Valentine’s Day

Watch Your Life and Doctrine Closely...

1. Who was “Valentine”?

valentine

a. Nobody knows for sure (next to no accurate information remains about him), but Valentine is thought to be Valentinus, a third century Italian priest.

b. Hagiographies (biographies of someone that exclusively focus on the good) disagree on whether he was from Rome or Terni (both in Italy), but I suspect that they were the same person, since they apparently died on the same day and are buried in the same place according to the Nuremberg Chronicle, one of the earliest sources we have of their record.

c. Regardless of which one he was, he apparently died on Feb. 14, 269.

d. The Martyrologium Romanum (An early list of Christian Martyrs) records that on February 14th “At Rome, on the Flaminian road, in the time of the emperor Claudius, the birthday of blessed Valentine, priest and martyr, who after having cured and instructed many persons…

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Questions about Eternity: Who Are the Dead in Christ in 1 Thessalonians 4:16?

 

Before identifying the “dead in Christ,” we should note the context in which this phrase is found. The immediate context is 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18, which deals with the question of what will happen at the return of the Lord Jesus. Paul’s readers were concerned that when Christ returns, those who have died prior to then would somehow miss out. The primary purpose of this passage is to comfort those believers who have lost believing loved ones.

The message of this passage is a message of hope. Christians have hope that unbelievers do not have when they lose loved ones. There is hope beyond the grave for Christians, and part of that hope is at the return of Christ, those who have already died “will rise first.” After that, Christians who are still alive will be transformed. Both groups will be “caught up” and will meet the Lord in the air. Paul closes this section with an admonition to encourage others with this hope.

In this passage, Paul uses the common euphemism of sleep to refer to those who have died in Christ, i.e., believers. Paul wants to comfort his readers that those Christians who have died prior to the return of Christ will not miss out on anything. That is why he opens this section by saying, “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope” (v. 13).

So to answer the question, the dead in Christ are those believers who have died prior to the second coming of Christ. (Note, whether 1 Thessalonians 4 is referring to the second coming or the rapture is a matter of debate). Believers, whether dead or alive, belong to Christ. We get similar language from the Apostle in his first letter to the Corinthians when he writes, “But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:23). The dead in Christ applies not only to Paul’s original audience, but to all believers who have died in what can be termed the “inter-advental” period, or the time between the first and second comings of Christ.

Another question that may come up in this context is what happens to believers when they die? Certainly Paul uses sleep to refer to their state, but does this mean that believers experience (for lack of a better word) an unconscious sleep-like state until the future resurrection? Those who advocate this position, called soul sleep, base it on passages such as 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18. But it should be noted that “sleep” as used here is euphemistic. It is not meant to convey actual sleep. In fact, the experience of the believer after death and before the end of the age when Christ returns is conscious, blissful communion with the Lord. Paul hints at this in verses such as 2 Corinthians 5:6–8 and Philippians 1:23.

At death, the body lies in repose in the grave awaiting the resurrection of the last day, but the soul goes to be at home with the Lord. This is the doctrine of the intermediate state. Believers experience in a provisional sense the rewards that await them in heaven, while unbelievers experience a taste of their eternal torment in hell (Luke 16:19–31).[1]


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

Questions about Christianity: What Is the International House of Prayer (IHOP)?

 

The “International House of Prayer” (IHOP) is a para-church ministry located in south Kansas City, Missouri. IHOP was founded by Rev. Mike Bickle in 1999. Its primary purpose seems to be international prayer of intercession. Since 1999, the International House of Prayer has experienced explosive growth, with the group acquiring significant amounts of property in Grandview, Missouri, and opening up satellite branches in other cities. The rapid expansion, the unusual practices, the fierce loyalty of many IHOP members, and the relative newness of the ministry have led many to question whether the International House of Prayer is a biblically-solid ministry or a cult.

At the International House of Prayer, there is active prayer taking place, literally 24/7, without interruption, and this has been the case for many years. 24/7 prayer is a good thing. There is no such thing as “praying too much,” so, in this area, IHOP is to be commended. The problem arises, however, in the type of prayer that is taking place. The International House of Prayer has adopted many of the practices of the contemplative prayer movement, with much more focus on mysticism and contemplative spirituality than on worshipping the Lord in prayer and interceding for others through prayer. Some elements of the IHOP employ prayer in a Word-Faith manner, claiming things from God rather than submitting to God’s will in humility. There are also reports of prophetic prayer, praying in tongues, and other ecstatic practices. So, while 24/7 prayer is commendable, if the prayers being uttered are not biblical, there is no true value in them.

Another concern with the International House of Prayer is its connection with the prophetic movement in general, and the Kansas City Prophets specifically. Instead of a biblical understanding of prophecy, that is, declaring the truth that God has revealed, IHOP essentially views prophets as Christian psychics, with prophetic hotlines, prophetic readings, and an emphasis on personal prophecy. Many have been led astray by those claiming to be apostles and prophets with a “word from the Lord.” There have been many reports of spiritual abuse and prophetic manipulation within the International House of Prayer movement.

This misunderstanding of the gift of prophecy leads to another area of concern. The International House of Prayer has an extreme over-emphasis on the miraculous gifts of the Spirit. Much has already been written on the cessation of the miraculous gifts, but IHOP’s use of these gifts goes far beyond what most Charismatics and Pentecostals will accept. At IHOP, the miraculous gifts of the Spirit are expected to be commonplace. Miraculous healings, visions, dreams, prophecies, tongues, words of knowledge, signs, wonders, etc., are claimed to be constant within the ministries of IHOP. Whether full cessationism is accepted or not, IHOP’s claims regarding the gifts of the Spirit do not at all agree with what the Bible presents. In the New Testament, the miraculous gifts of the Spirit authenticated the teachings of the apostles (2 Corinthians 12:12). If miracles are normal, they cannot have an authenticating quality to them. IHOP’s claims regarding miracles do not agree with what the Bible teaches about miracles, signs, and wonders. We would all be wise to remember Jesus’ warning in Matthew 24:24, “For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible.”

With all of that said, clearly IHOP should not be considered a biblically-sound ministry/organization. The above concerns are only the “tip of the iceberg” in comparison to some of the things that have been reported by former IHOP members/participants. Should the International House of Prayer movement be considered a cult? That is more difficult to answer. Generally speaking, a cult is a group that has false teaching on one or more of the core truths of the Christian faith, such as the deity of Christ or salvation by faith alone. On these core truths, IHOP appears to be solid and biblical. However, other common identifying factors of a cult are present at IHOP, such as it being controlled primarily be one individual, fierce loyalty to the organization, communal living, and a feeling of superiority over the uninitiated. So, while the International House of Prayer should probably not be considered a cult, there are enough serious concerns about its beliefs and practices that should prevent Christians from getting involved in its ministries.[1]

 


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

Are You Seeking The Bread Or The One Who Breaks The Bread?

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” (John 6:28 ESV)

Genuine Christians will be very interested in getting the answer to the question posed to Jesus from John 6:28. If a professing Christian is not interested in that answer then there’s a problem. On the other hand, there are many professing Christians who have answered that question without reading Jesus’ response to it. Instead, they have jumped head foremost into “religous” work that they believe pleases God and is earning them bonus points in eternity. Their “works” may look good to most people, but are they what Jesus tells us are the genuine works of God? Let’s look at this passage in context.

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