Daily Archives: April 1, 2014

Questions about Christianity: What Is a Foursquare Church?

 

The Foursquare church, officially known as International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, is a Protestant denomination founded by Aimee Semple McPherson in the 1920’s. Foursquare derives its name from what McPherson called the “Foursquare Gospel: Jesus is the Savior, Jesus is the Healer, Jesus is the Baptizer with the Holy Spirit, and Jesus is the Soon-Coming King.”

Foursquare’s Declaration of Faith begins with “We believe that the Holy Bible is the Word of the living God; true, immutable, steadfast, unchangeable, as its author, the Lord Jehovah; that it was written by holy men of old as they were moved upon and inspired by the Holy Spirit …” This Declaration, penned by Aimee Semple McPherson, contains 22 sections including, to mention just a few, the Eternal Godhead, Salvation through Grace, Baptism of the Holy Spirit, Divine Healing, and Tithing and Offerings. Virtually every belief and statement on the church’s web site contains a scriptural reference supporting it.

However, there are concerns with some of the beliefs of the Foursquare Church that do not line up with Scripture. According to their Creedal Statements and Declaration of Faith, they believe in “the free moral will power of man, who can backslide, apostatize, and be lost” which is a rejection of the biblical doctrine of eternal security. The Bible clearly teaches that a true believer cannot lose his/her salvation or apostatize (John 10:28–29; Romans 8:30; 1 John 2:19).

They also believe in “Divine Healing through the atonement” which would disagree with the understanding that while spiritual healing is in the atonement, physical healing does not necessarily occur until the glorified state. Isaiah 53:5, which is then quoted in 1 Peter 2:24, is a key verse on healing, but it is often misunderstood and misapplied. The context of 1 Peter 2 makes it clear that Peter is speaking of spiritual healing. “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24). The verse is talking about sin and righteousness, not sickness and disease. Therefore, being “healed” in both these verses is speaking of being forgiven and saved, not physically healed.

Further, the Foursquare Church believes “in the personal Baptism of the Holy Ghost as received by the apostles” which, as explained elsewhere on their website, means that they believe the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a “second blessing” subsequent to salvation. Along with this, they believe that all of the miraculous gifts of the Spirit are active in the church today. The majority of biblical evidence supports the indwelling of the Holy Spirit upon salvation, and while there are subsequent “fillings” of the Spirit throughout a believer’s life, there is only one baptism of the Holy Spirit, and that occurs at salvation.

As for the miraculous gifts of the Spirit, the gifts of prophecy, knowledge, wisdom, healing, etc. verified those who were sent from God and were necessary for the early Christians to know God’s plan and purpose for them. The gift of prophecy, for instance, enabled believers to communicate new truth and revelation from God. Now that God’s revelation is complete in the Bible, the “revelatory” gifts are no longer needed, at least not in the same capacity as they were in the New Testament.

While the Foursquare Church definitely has some biblical stances on many doctrines, there are enough questionable beliefs to warrant caution and prayerfully seeking God’s will and discernment.[1]

 

 

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

Questions about Miracles Then and Now: Were the biblical miracles magic tricks which fooled the simple, primitive people?

 

It is often contended that people who lived during biblical times were more simple minded and superstitious than modern man, and could be tricked into believing the miraculous stories contained in the Bible.

Today it is claimed we live in a scientific age and have outgrown these superstitions, since we have developed the mental capacity to see these miracles as being superstitious myths rather than paranormal phenomena. A close study of the evidence will show that these accounts are not a superstitious reaction to some clever trickster. The response to the miraculous acts of God show the same surprise and anxiety that modern man would have if he were placed in the same situation.

The people living at the time of Jesus certainly knew that men born blind do not immediately receive their sight (John 9:32), that five loaves and a few fish would not feed 5,000 people (John 6:14), or that men do not walk on water (Matthew 14:26).

Doubting Thomas said, “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe” (John 20:25, RSV). He refused to accept the testimony of the unbelievable event of the resurrection, but changed his mind when confronted face-to-face with the resurrected Christ. Thus we are not expected to believe the ridiculous, and neither were the people of biblical times.

The people living in those times were no less skeptical than we are today. It was the unavoidable, the inescapable, the irrefutable fact that caused them to believe. The natural order was interfered with as a miracle occurred. It is only the skepticism of modern man that causes him to deny that miracles occurred.[1]

 

 

[1] McDowell, J., & Stewart, D. D. (1993). Answers to tough questions. Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

Counseling Related Questions: What Does the Bible Say about Controlling Your Temper?

 

Many people struggle with a quick or fiery temper. Although society often encourages people to express themselves and not hold back, God’s Word teaches that giving in to one’s temper is a sin.

The Bible has a lot to say about the importance of controlling one’s temper. It calls a person who easily loses his temper a “fool” (Proverbs 29:11; Ecclesiastes 7:9) and describes someone who cannot control himself as a “city whose walls are broken down” (Proverbs 25:28). A person with a hot temper is often at odds with those around him, becoming easily offended and lashing out in anger for even the smallest slight (Proverbs 15:18a). As children of God, we are called to love others (John 13:35; Ephesians 4:2, 31–32) and to be at peace (James 1:19; Proverbs 19:11; James 3:17–18). “Love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). A person who maintains a calm, even temper is quicker to forgive and better able to live peaceably with others (Proverbs 15:1, 8b; 12:16; 19:11).

With the Holy Spirit in our lives, we will show the fruit of His work inside us. Some of the fruits of the Spirit are peace, patience, and self-control (Galatians 5:22–23)—these are essential to controlling the tendency to lose our temper. In fact, the Greek word translated “patience” (“longsuffering” in the KJV) carries the idea of “long-burning,” as in having a long fuse. As we grow in Christ, we should continue to deal appropriately with anger (no short fuses!) and react with love and patience (Colossians 3:8).

We may often feel justified in losing our temper, particularly when someone has hurt or offended us. But we are instructed to forgive (Matthew 5:44; 6:12; 18:21–22), not yield to anger or seek vengeance. It is ultimately God’s prerogative to punish evildoers (Deuteronomy 32:35; Romans 12:19). For an example of this forgiveness, we need only look to Jesus. When He was hanging on the cross, crucified for sins He did not commit, He did not release His wrath on the perpetrators. Instead, He asked God the Father to forgive them (Luke 23:34).

It’s important to note that anger is a valid emotion and is not always sinful. God allows for “righteous anger,” which is anger with the proper focus, the proper motivation, the proper control, the proper duration, and the proper result. Our problem is that our temper is often motivated by selfishness and directed toward other people instead of toward sin. That’s why God tells us to “let all bitterness and indignation and wrath (passion, rage, bad temper) and resentment (anger, animosity) … be banished from you” (Ephesians 4:31, AMP). With God’s help, we can keep our temper in check.[1]

 

 

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

World Vision and religious freedom

Have you ever wondered why religious bookstores, Christian schools, and other religious organizations are allowed to discriminate based on religion in their hiring? Why is it legal for a radio station, or a charity, or a halal butcher to only employ those of like faith? The answer goes back to a legal right enshrined by World Vision, and a right that World Vision last week considered leveraging to advance the same-sex agenda in the United States.

World Vision is one of the world’s largest aide organizations, and annually distributes hundreds of millions of dollars worth of material support globally. Many believers know them through their Story Concert Tour, or through their child sponsorship programs. Last week World Vision made the news when they announced that they were changing their employment policy to declare that a person can be a committed evangelical Christian, and yet be involved in a homosexual relationship (they then reversed their decision 24 hours later).

This was more than simply a PR slight of hand—it would have impacted the very nature of religious freedom in the US. What you may not realize is how significant the change World Vision was proposing. If you thought this just reflected an HR move from an aide organization, you missed World Vision’s historical connection to religious freedom in the US.

Read more

The Tongues of Angels

angelThis post is part 5 in our series on the gift of tongues. (To access previous posts, please click here.)

In particular, we are considering the continuationist claim that tongues in the New Testament were not necessarily real human foreign languages. One leading evangelical proponent of this position is Sam Storms, who articulates his views in The Beginner’s Guide to Spiritual Gifts. In this series, we have been responding to the arguments presented by Storms in that book.

In today’s post, we will consider one of the most common arguments for a type of tongues-speech that is non-earthly and non-human in character.

Continuationist Argument 4: The reference to “tongues of angels” in 1 Cor. 13:1 demands the possibility of heavenly (non-earthly) languages.

Read more

GTY Blog: Faith Minus Reason Equals Irrational Unbelief – John MacArthur

 

Many people mistakenly think of faith as inherently noble. A once-popular song extols the virtue of faith, or believing: “I believe for every drop of rain that falls, a flower grows.”

No one really believes that, of course, but that is not the point. The song is a paean to faith—without regard to the content of that faith. The object of faith was of no concern to the songwriter. The sentiment that song expresses is by no means biblical. It is an echo of one of the worst lies of our age—the notion that it isn’t important what you believe as long as you believe passionately enough.

Did you know that faith can be seriously harmful? Some varieties of faith actually lead away from the true God—they substitute superstition, falsehood, or faith itself in place of truth. Such faith inevitably leads to spiritual disaster. It is reckless faith.

Reckless faith goes to two extremes. At one end of the spectrum it looks within—relying on feelings, inner voices, fantasy, or subjective sensations. At the other extreme it fixes its hope on some external human authority—the teachings of a supreme leader, religious tradition, magisterial dogma, or some other arbitrary canon.

An obvious non-Christian example of the first extreme is New Age mysticism. A similar example of the second is Islam. But even among groups that profess Christianity, both varieties of reckless faith are clearly seen. The charismatic movement, for example, tends toward the first extreme; Roman Catholicism epitomizes the second.

(Interestingly, there have been recent developments of a strong convergence occurring between the charismatic movement and Roman Catholicism. Such a bizarre unity reminds us that the vast spectrum of theological errors all flow out of one satanic origin. More on that in the coming weeks.)

Note that at both poles, reckless faith seeks spiritual truth apart from Scripture—and that is the very point at which it becomes reckless. Both kinds of reckless faith also have this in common: they are irrational and anti-intellectual. “Anti-intellectual” doesn’t mean they oppose intellectual snobbery. It means they spurn the intellect and encourage blind, uncritical trust. Anti-intellectuals often set faith against reason, as if the two were opposites. That kind of faith is gullibility. It is foolishness, and not biblical faith. Biblical faith is never irrational.

Authentic faith, in contrast, can never bypass the mind. It cannot be irrational. Faith, after all, deals with truth. Truth is objective data to be known, studied, contemplated, and understood. All those are activities that engage the intellect.

That means genuine Christianity cannot be anti-intellectual. The body of truth on which our faith is based has depths that are mysterious—unfathomable to the merely human mind, or inscrutable—but truth is never irrational. The difference is all-important. God cannot lie (Titus 1:2). Therefore what God says is true—and the antithesis of what He says must be false. Truth cannot be self-contradictory. Truth makes sense; nonsense cannot be true.

Moreover, the doctrine on which we base our faith must be sound—which is to say it must be biblical (1 Timothy 4:6; 2 Timothy 4:2–3; Titus 1:9; 2:1). “If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing” (1 Timothy 6:3–4, emphasis added). Sound, biblical doctrine therefore underlies all true wisdom and authentic faith. The attitude that scorns doctrine while elevating feelings or blind trust cannot legitimately be called faith, even if it masquerades as Christianity. It is actually an irrational form of unbelief.

God holds us accountable for what we believe as well as how we think about the truth He has revealed. All Scripture testifies to the fact that God wants us to know and understand the truth. He wants us to be wise. His will is that we use our minds. We are supposed to think, to meditate—to be discerning. And that is what we will continue to pursue as this series unfolds over the coming weeks.

Make your ear attentive to wisdom, incline your heart to understanding; for if you cry for discernment, lift your voice for understanding; if you seek her as silver and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will discern the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. (Proverbs 2:2–6)

 

(Adapted from Reckless Faith.)


Available online at: http://www.gty.org/resources/Blog/B140401
COPYRIGHT ©2014 Grace to You

What Would An Eruption Of The Yellowstone Supervolcano Look Like?

On Sunday, the worst earthquake in about 30 years rattled the Yellowstone supervolcano. Overall, there have been at least 25 significant earthquakes at Yellowstone National Park since Thursday, but it is the 4.8 earthquake that has many observers extremely worried. Could such a large earthquake be a sign that the Yellowstone supervolcano is starting to roar to life after all this time? And if it does erupt, what would that mean for the rest of the country? As you will see below, a full-blown eruption at Yellowstone would be absolutely catastrophic. It is estimated that such an eruption could dump a 10 foot deep layer of volcanic ash up to 1,000 miles away and render much of the nation uninhabitable for years to come. In essence, it would instantly bring the United States to its knees.

It is true that it is normal for Yellowstone to experience up to 3,000 earthquakes a year. But most of those earthquakes are extremely small (Read More...)

The Odds Are Never In Our Favor

How would you feel if you went to the store to buy something, and someone rushed ahead of you and purchased it first and then sold it to you at a higher price? Well, in the financial world this happens millions upon millions of times. In fact, this practice has become so popular that it has spawned an entire industry known as “high frequency trading”. At this point, high frequency trading makes up about half of all trading volume on Wall Street, and it is costing the rest of us billions of dollars a year. And the funny thing is that this is all perfectly legal. High frequency trading firms are exploiting a glitch in the system, and by allowing this to go on, the authorities have essentially given them a license to steal from the rest of us. Sadly, this is just another example that shows that the odds are never in our favor. The “little guy” never seems to be able to win, and those at the top of the food chain like it that way. (Read More….)

The Chinese Are Acquiring Large Chunks Of Land In Communities All Over America

Has the United States ever experienced a time when a foreign nation has attempted to buy up so much of our land all at once? As you will read about in this article, the Chinese are on a real estate buying spree all over America. In fact, in some cases large chunks of land are actually being given to them. Yes, you read that correctly. China is on the way to becoming the dominant land owner in the entire country, and that is starting to alarm a lot of people. Do we really want a foreign superpower to physically own so much of our territory? (Read More…..)

Judaism, Christianity, Environmentalism – In chronological order, these are the three main religions of the West.

Leftism has influenced the literary, academic, media, and, therefore, the political elite far more than any other religion has. It has taken over Western schools from elementary through graduate.

For most of that time, various incarnations of Marxism have been the dominant expressions, and motivators, of Leftism: specifically, income redistribution, material equality, and socialism. They are still powerful aspects of the Left, but with the downfall of most Communist regimes, other left-wing expressions have generated even more passion: first feminism and then environmentalism.

View Article

The Christian is a new creation

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has…

View original post 1,560 more words

%d bloggers like this: