There are good reasons to believe we are more than simple material beings. If we are living souls (as described in Christian Scripture), there’s no reason to think our true immaterial nature will be limited by the fate of our physical bodies. Our expectations of justice, satisfaction and joy (given God’s holy and perfect nature) provide us with good reasons to expect a life beyond this one. If God has infinite power, it’s reasonable to believe He has the power to eliminate imperfection. God’s perfection must certainly characterize the nature of Heaven, and the Bible describes how each of us, when united with God, will be transformed and made complete, in spite of our present earthly imperfections.
The doctrine of the Trinity is at the very center of the Christian faith. That God is triune in nature is affirmed not only in Scripture but also in the early ecumenical creeds of the church—specifically, Nicaea (A.D. 325) and Constantinople (A.D. 381). The doctrine is essentially that God is one in being while existing as three co-equal, co-eternal Persons, namely, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
One often-heard objection to the Trinity is that the doctrine logically entails tri-theism (a belief in three gods). But is this criticism valid? Is Trinitarian theology at odds with the clearly taught monotheism of the Hebrew Scriptures? Or did the early Christians get it right when they upheld the monotheism of the Old Testament while at the same time affirming the full deity of three distinct Persons? To answer this question, we need to look over the biblical data. The Bible clearly affirms that there is but one God (Isaiah 43:10; 1 Corinthians 8:4). In addition, the Bible teaches the deity of the Father (John 6:27; Romans 1:7; 1 Peter 1:2), the Son (John 1:1–3; Hebrews 1:2; Titus 2:13; Colossians 1:16–17), and the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3–4; 1 Corinthians 3:16). Moreover, the biblical writers go out of their way to affirm that all three Persons are distinct from each other (Matthew 28:19; Romans 15:30; 2 Corinthians 3:14). So, while it is true that the word trinity is not found in the Bible, the concept most certainly is.
Does the fact that there exist three divine Persons entail that there exist three separate gods? The answer is no. The same Scriptures that affirm that all three Persons of the Trinity are divine also unequivocally affirm monotheism (Deuteronomy 6:4; 1 Timothy 2:5). So, what are we to do with this tension between the idea of three divine Persons and monotheism? A helpful clarification involves what we mean by the word person.
Person can be defined as “a center of self-consciousness.” A person has a mind, emotions, and a will, can communicate with others, and is capable of performing actions. When we speak of the concept of personhood as it relates to the Trinity, we are describing self-distinctions in God. All three Persons of the one triune God possess the complete attributes of deity. All three Persons are truly divine, yet eternally distinct from one another. The divine Persons can and do communicate with each other (John 17:1–26; Hebrews 1:8–9). Essentially, God has three centers of self-consciousness. Yet this one Being (the triune God of Scripture) possesses one indivisible essence. There is only one Being that is God, and this one Being is tri-personal, with each of the three Persons having full possession of the divine nature.
The Tangible Kingdom movement is described in a book titled The Tangible Kingdom: Creating Incarnational Community, written by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay. Halter and Smay refer to themselves as “a somewhat jaded pastor” and mentors, consultants and church planters. There is no indication that the authors have any biblical or seminary training, nor is there any statement of faith, other than their being “missional.” From their website we read: “The Tangible Kingdom offers theological answers and real-life stories that demonstrate how the best ancient church practices can re-emerge in today’s culture, through any church of any size.”
However, the authors’ knowledge and understanding of the first century church is superficial and, in many cases, inaccurate. For example, in their book they suggest that the first-century Christians were “… spreading like a virus … and spilling out into the streets.” This is far rfrom the actual historical events recorded in the Bible, as well as in secular history. In actuality, they were intensely and routinely persecuted by both the Jews and the Romans (Acts 8:1, 11:19, 13:50) and spent many years in hiding.
What is misleading about this Tangible Kingdom movement is the word “incarnational.” This word is now becoming the buzz word of the postmodern, experiential method of practicing Christianity, a movement attempting to transform and unify the world under the guise of an evolving or emerging church. In such movements, the emphasis is no longer placed on the Bible or upon regeneration through the workings of the Holy Spirit. Rather, this movement emphasizes what is called a “collective experience and unifying community service.” As such, the gospel as taught in the Scriptures, including the “offense of the cross” (Galatians 5:11), is omitted along with other passages that are deemed “offensive.”
A major part of this movement is practicing “community service” in order to “demonstrate” Jesus’ love for mankind. The actual gospel message of salvation is rarely, if ever, taught. This movement teaches that those who purport to be Christians are those who serve “incarnationally” because Jesus lives in and through them. With its focal point chiefly on God’s love and quest for unity among His people, this movement fails to mention the true nature of the gospel message—repentance from sin, the blood of Christ shed on the cross, the Christian life of denying self and taking up the cross, and the promised persecution to come (Matthew 16:24; John 15:18). Naturally the idea of love and unity are appealing. Who doesn’t want to be loved and accepted? But the fact that Jesus was “despised and rejected by men” (Isaiah 53:3) doesn’t appear to be emphasized in Tangible Kingdom teachings.
The Tangible Kingdom movement is misleading in that it overlooks the Bible’s teachings about the coarse deceptions of the world, its disobedient attitudes and sordid lifestyles that quench the Spirit and closes the door on the triumphant life God promises to all those who:
—trust Him implicitly and are overflowing with His love,
—depend upon God’s Word,
—choose to enter the narrow gate and small road, and
—say “No!” to compromising their faith.
The authors claim that Christians are divided into two schools of thought—those who believe in and see Jesus through the “literal interpretation of doctrine” and those “who see the message of Christ through the personality of Jesus.” The Tangible Kingdom movement prefers to see the message of the gospel through the person of Jesus Himself, rather than what He actually taught, as though the two could be separated! Their argument is that what really drew people to Jesus Himself was not what He said because His message repelled people. They even go so far as to say that during his confrontation with the Pharisees with the woman caught in the act of adultery, that He was “… drawing a smiley face” in the sand (John 8:1–11). But Jesus never encouraged people to see His message through His personality. Rather, He challenged them to prove their love for Him by keeping His commandments (John 14:15).
There is no doubt that Jesus’ message repelled people, as it still does today. It repels those who wish to continue in a sinful lifestyle and still have the benefits of heaven when they die. It repels those who reject the Bible as the only standard of faith and practice and substitute emotional experience for holy living. It repels those who want to relegate Jesus to the status of a kindly, indulgent pal who winks at sin, rather than the holy, righteous Creator of the universe who hates and punishes sin. Jesus came to provide an alternative to eternal hell and damnation, from an everlasting separation from God Himself. He came offering an eternal and lasting sacrifice for our sins. Any message that leaves out these truths is not “tangible” at all. It is smoke and mirrors.
The Obama administration and the hotheads in Congress are threatening to hit Russia with “economic sanctions” for moving troops into Crimea. Yes, those sanctions would sting a little bit, but what our politicians should be made aware of is the fact that Russian officials are promising “to respond” if economic sanctions are imposed on them. As you will read about below, one top Kremlin adviser is even suggesting that Russia could abandon the U.S. dollar and start dumping U.S. debt. In addition, he is also suggesting that if sanctions are imposed that Russian companies would not repay the debts that they owe U.S. banks. Needless to say, Russia could do far more economic damage to the United States than the United States could do to Russia. The U.S. financial system relies on the fact that the rest of the planet is going to use our currency to trade with one another and lend gigantic piles of it back to us at super low interest rates. If the rest of the world starts changing their behavior, we are going to be in a massive amount of trouble. Those that believe that the United States is “economically independent” are being quite delusional. (Read More….)
Demographics can tell us a lot about the way a society is evolving. Demographics can change our culture. Demographics can re-shape the political profile of a region or a country. They obviously can turn any economy around. What might be less known but nonetheless as important to understand, is that the world is currently going through a demographic shift that is affecting anti-Semitism.
The onset of the great depression of the 1930’s brought a spike in banker suicides, Will Rogers noted of the time, “When Wall Street took that tail spin, you had to stand in line to get a window to jump out of, and speculators were selling space for bodies in the East River.” Winston Churchill – the day after Black Friday – observed, “Under my very window a gentleman cast himself down fifteen stories and was dashed to pieces, causing a wild commotion and the arrival of the fire brigade,” Nearly Eighty-five years later the phenomenon of banker suicides appears to have returned. In the last eight months there have been at least 12 reported deaths of bankers perishing under questionable circumstances. High stress banking careers are being blamed for the recent suicides. However, the answer may not be that simple. Returning to the program, to give us insight into these deaths is Gerald Celente.
A recent student demonstration over a Wheaton College chapel speaker’s testimony on her religious and sexual conversion is the latest marker in the long-running debate over the way evangelical colleges approach sexual identity.
Students Justin Massey and Jordan-Ashley Barney organized “More Than a Single Story,” the January 31 demonstration where Wheaton students sat on the steps of Edman Chapel and held signs that said “We’re all loved by God,” “This is not a protest,” and “I’m gay and a beloved child of God,” reports The Wheaton Record.
“First thing Obama does when he comes into office — the reset means the reversal of all the freezes all the sanctions,” he told host Bill O’Reilly. “That was a freebie, [Putin] didn’t give up anything. That’s the first signal the Europeans are getting from this new president.”
This devotional has been adapted from a 22-part marriage questionnaire on trust. I would encourage you to download this free resource and set aside quality time with your spouse to work through the material.
This is also a great resource for helping others. If you’re a pastor, counselor, ministry leader, or just a friend that wants to help a friend, this marriage questionnaire can help you be an instrument of grace.
What’s the foundation of a healthy relationship? I could start in a lot of places, and if you know me, I would typically start with a vertical relationship with God. But for the sake of today’s devotional, I want to focus on one area – keeping promises.
Like it or not, you must face the fact that the way you follow through with the promises you make will help or hurt your relationships. If you’re good for your word, the health of that relationship will increase. But if you consistently make promises that you can’t keep, the health of that relationship will decrease.
Now, you need to understand what I mean by promises. I’m not talking about three or four “big promises” you make in a lifetime – I’m talking about the 10,000 “little promises” you make every year.
Here’s the problem with these little promises – if you break one of them, you don’t think it’s a big deal. After all, it’s only one little promise, you tell yourself. But remember, the character of a relationship, especially marriage, is established in these little moments.
Healthy relationships are built promise by promise, day by day. The degree of your daily reliability almost always corresponds with the health of your relationship.
Now, if you’re anything like me, there’s no way that you will keep 100% of the little promises you make. Because of sin, you’ll make promises with the wrong motivation, ignore promises you’ve made, or simply forget. Even in your best moments of intention and effort, your sin will keep you short of God’s perfect standard.
So what happens when you fail? You can either make excuses for your failure, or you can humbly confess. Self-righteousness, defensiveness, and self-excusing are all toxic to relationships. On the contrary, humility, confession, and repentance lead to healthy relationships.
And what happens when someone fails you? You can either be law-keeper, holding the other to a standard that you cannot keep yourself, or be a grace-giver, freely forgiving like the Father. Legalism is deadly in relationships; grace is life-giving.
Be good for your word. Quickly confess when you fall short. Grant forgiveness when requested. Watch what God will do in your relationships!
Remember, if you want to use the entire 22-part marriage questionnaire, you can download it here!
Paul David Tripp
- What kind of “little promises” do you make each day?
- Do you make “little promises” without even being aware of what you’re committing to?
- How often do you justify and defend your failure to keep your “little promises”?
- How do you respond if someone fails to keep a “little promise” to you?
- What can you practically do to remind yourself of the “little promises” you make?
by Mike Ratliff
12 Οὐχ ὅτι ἤδη ἔλαβον ἢ ἤδη τετελείωμαι, διώκω δὲ εἰ καὶ καταλάβω, ἐφʼ ᾧ καὶ κατελήμφθην ὑπὸ Χριστοῦ [Ἰησοῦ]. (Philippians 3:12-13 NA28)
12 Not that I have already received or have been completed, I press on that, if possible, to apprehend it because Christ Jesus has apprehended me. (Philippians 3:12 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. (Philippians 3:12 ESV)
Biblical scholars consider Philippians 3:12 to be a very challenging verse. Here is a word-for-word translation, “Not that already I received or already I have been completed, I pursue but if also I might apprehend on which also I was apprehended by Christ Jesus.” What is Paul talking about?
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How can you build a stronger marriage that ultimately glorifies God? This week’s questions will guide you toward a stronger godly marriage. And as today’s scripture tells us, it all starts with living in the power of the Holy Spirit.
You know that God forgives us, and we must therefore forgive others; but do you know just how important forgiveness is in a healthy, godly marriage? Click to learn more in the Life Lessons with Joyce Bartholomew series.
Do you ever wonder about building a stronger marriage? We have trained followers of Jesus who can help you figure it out! Click here to share your story with us. You will hear from someone shortly.
Will you pray this week:
• To thank God for blessing us with His guidance in the Bible
• For God to help you build a strong marriage
• That God will help you forgive others
• That God will help you speak the truth in love
• To thank God for the gift of marriage
Where can you go online to get daily encouragement and inspiration, and to discuss godly marriage? Visit the GodLife Facebook Page where we can gather daily to share our stories, to express ourselves, and to pray for one another!
Do you have questions? Need prayer? Connect with someone who cares for you!