Daily Archives: May 18, 2014

God Redeems His people through the blood of Christ

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

3 Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the rules. And all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words that the Lord has spoken we will do.” 4 And Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord. He rose early in the morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel. 5 And he sent young men of the people of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the Lord. 6 And Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he threw against the altar. 7 Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the Lord…

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Questions about Cults and Religions: What Is Odinism?

 

Odinism is a pre-Christian, pagan, polytheistic religion involving the worship of Norse and Germanic gods, especially Odin, the chief god. Odinism was the religion of the Vikings, who primarily lived in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Iceland, and whose influence was felt in other parts of Europe, including Scotland, Ireland and England. The Vikings are also said to have sailed to North America.

The oral traditions of the Odinists are recorded in a set of books called the Eddas. Followers of this religion regard nature as the true manifestation of the divine and believe that man is inherently good. Since 1973, Odinism has experienced a revival of sorts, with the governments of Iceland, Denmark and Norway having officially recognized Odinism. Groups of Odinists are also found throughout Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and North and South America.

Those who embrace this religion are generally referred to as followers of Ásatrú (Nordic neo-paganism), though there are several branches (some of them extremist), including Wotanism, Wodenism, the Odin Brotherhood, the Odinic Rite and the Odinist Fellowship. The chief deity is Odin/Woten/Woden, the god of war, wisdom and death (who, interestingly, does not eat, but only drinks wine). Odin is also called Alfadir (“All-father”) because he is the father of all gods. The pantheon of gods and goddesses in Odinism also includes Frigg, Odin’s wife and a goddess of marriage and fertility; Thor, the god of thunder; Loki, the unpredictable “trickster” god; Baldur, the god of light and purity; Tyr, the original god of war (later regarded as Odin’s son); and many others.

The abode of these gods is Asgard, one of the “nine homeworlds” in the cosmology of Nordic mythology. One “hall” in Asgard is known as Valhalla, a home to some of the warriors who died in combat in the human “homeworld,” called Midgard. The symbol of Odinism is the “World Ash” tree, called Yggdresil, which is thought to connect and unite all “nine worlds.” It is taught that Odin hung on this tree for nine days, pierced with a spear. We see a vestiges of Odinism every week—“Tuesday” is named for Tiu/Tyr; “Wednesday” was originally Wodnesdæg, or “Woden’s day”; “Thursday” is literally “Thor’s day”; and “Friday” is named after the fertility goddess Frigg.

Odinism is a false religion. The Bible tells us unequivocally that there is only one, true, living God. Jeremiah 10:10 says, “But the LORD is the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting King” (NKJV). John 17:3 states, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” Yahweh/Jehovah is the only God capable of proving that He is who He says He is; and He has, in fact, done so via hundreds of fulfilled prophecies. In contradistinction, there is no proof for the existence of the Odinist pantheon; they are mythological. It is futile to worship a god that does not exist. It is also fatal, inasmuch as the Bible tells us that the fate of idolaters is the lake of fire (Revelation 21:8).

Why not worship an actual, living God and thereby choose eternal life? Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25–26).[1]

 

 

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

Questions about the End Times: Does the Harbinger Really Predict America’s Future?

 

The book The Harbinger: the Ancient Mystery that holds the secret of America’s Future by Messianic Jewish Rabbi Jonathan Cahn has been a best-seller and has sparked controversy and much discussion. There is no question as to Cahn’s passion about alerting his fellow countrymen to the spiritual, economic, and moral dangers that the United States faces. But is Cahn’s interpretation of the book of Isaiah correct, and are those Old Testament prophecies applicable to modern-day America?

The back cover of the book clearly labels the book as “FICTION / Suspense,” and the line following the copyright page says, “What you are about to read is presented in the form of a story …” The rest of that sentence is ambiguous: “… but what is contained within the story is real.” If the author is saying that the book’s content is a real message from God to the USA, then it is important to examine his view of the meaning of biblical prophecy.

The story’s opening dialogue reads, “An ancient mystery that holds the secret to America’s future.” This attention-getting assertion is made by the story’s narrator and lead character, journalist Nouriel Kaplan. Kaplan is attempting to persuade Ana Goren, a media executive, to publish information that Kaplan believes will affect the economic, political, military, moral, and spiritual future of the United States. Even though Cahn presents this information in a fictional vehicle, he asserts that it is “real.” Is it?

In the story, a nameless prophet meets Kaplan on a number of occasions, giving him information about how recent events, including the World Trade Center terrorist attacks of 9/11, the housing boom, the war in Iraq, the 2008 collapse of Wall Street, etc., were predicted specifically by the Old Testament prophet Isaiah. The prophet leads Kaplan to understand that Isaiah not only warned his own nation (Israel) about the danger of abandoning God but, in a mysterious way, also predicted America’s contemporary events.

In drawing parallels between Israel and America, Cahn asserts several things: first, that America was founded on a covenant with God as much as Israel was. Second, that America is being released from God’s protection to suffer the consequences of having marginalized Him. Third, that Isaiah predicted all of this.

Cahn’s prophet in the book tells Kaplan that each of the key American events since September 11, 2001, is a harbinger of America’s coming fall; each disaster is another warning from God for America to return to Him. Cahn’s point, couched as it is in a fictional narrative, is that, unless the U.S. changes course, it will suffer the same fate as the ancient nations. That is, God will allow America’s enemies, external and internal, to bring it down. Cahn sees evidence for his claim in the words of Isaiah 9.

Cahn identifies Isaiah 9:8–10 as revealing the main harbinger of coming disaster: “The Lord has sent a message against Jacob; it will fall on Israel. All the people will know it—Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria—who say with pride and arrogance of heart, ‘The bricks have fallen down, but we will rebuild with dressed stone; the fig trees have been felled, but we will replace them with cedars.’ ” In the original context, God is expressing His anger at Israel over their refusal to repent from their idolatry. Even after receiving God’s discipline in the form of several disasters, the nation of Israel hurled their defiance at God Himself. To paraphrase Israel’s words, they said, “God, You may have allowed our enemies to damage our city, but we will rebuild it even stronger.” This was conscious and deliberate rebellion against God. The Israel of Isaiah’s day would not bow to God, not even under His rod.

Cahn’s prophet in The Harbinger quotes government leaders using similarly defiant words following the collapse of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Since U.S. leaders used the words, “We will rebuild” and expressed a “spirit of defiance,” Cahn applies God’s angry words in Isaiah 9 to America. The problem with this interpretation is that when America’s leaders vowed to rebuild the World Trade Center, they were not defying God but the terrorists who demolished it. Israel was defying both their human enemies and God. Cahn’s linking of the two nations with the same prophecy is unfair. The principle behind Isaiah’s prophecy—that judgment may befall any nation that forsakes God—could be applied to America. It may be a fascinating coincidence that Isaiah mentions fallen bricks. The book may be exciting to read. But it is faulty Bible interpretation to take a prophecy clearly meant for Israel and make the details pertain to modern-day America.

Cahn does not claim in his book to be a prophet. Neither does he claim to have received the message of his story directly from God. He writes as a teacher, putting into the mouth of Kaplan what he understands to be both the original and the contemporary meanings of Isaiah’s prophecy. Cahn does not claim that Isaiah uses the name America or the United States in his prophecies. He does not even claim that Isaiah had a dual fulfillment of his prophecies in mind. Cahn’s apparent purpose in his book is to spin a convincing yarn and persuade readers of a real danger America faces in light of Cahn’s understanding of how Israel’s situation in 600–500 BC applies to America’s current situation.

In the book, Cahn creates a fictional means of revealing prophecy from God—clay seals, such as were used to hold impressed signatures on official documents. In The Harbinger, the prophet gives Kaplan a set of nine such seals. Each seal supposedly represents a national event in Israel’s history—a harbinger that warned of final collapse and dispersion into the surrounding pagan nations—as well as a current event in America, heralding ultimate doom if America does not repent.

Cahn connects each seal with a serious American event in the decade following September 11, 2001, and with an object or an event in Israel’s history. Since Cahn is writing fiction, he is free to manufacture not only clay seals but coincidences. His creative way of identifying the coincidences is both fascinating and convincing, as far as the story goes. He sees in the coincidences a pattern of God’s warnings to both His chosen nation, Israel, and the U.S. Each seal and its related dire event are harbingers of ultimate doom. America is being warned to turn back to God.

Persuasive preaching about a real need, yes; accurate interpretation of a Bible text, no. The problem is that Israel is the only nation with whom God has made a covenant, through Abraham (Genesis 12:1–3). America is not Israel.

If you read The Harbinger, remember that only time can reveal the validity of what claims to be prophecy from God (Deuteronomy 18:21–22). And, even though the book may use some faulty interpretations, do not close your heart to Cahn’s essential message. He is right that America needs to repent. “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people” (Proverbs 14:34). The United States of America very likely will meet the same fate as ancient Israel if its people do not repent. Americans need to give their hearts to God and exercise faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. To that end we should pray.[1]

 

 

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

Questions about Bible Difficulties: How would you explain the inaccuracy between Judas hanging himself in Matthew 27:5 and “falling headlong he burst open” in Acts 1:18?

 

This question of the manner in which Judas died is one with which we are constantly confronted in our travels. Many people point to the apparent discrepancy in the two accounts as an obvious, irreconcilable error.

Some have gone so far as to say that the idea of an inerrant Bible is destroyed by these contradictory accounts. However, this is not the case at all.

Matthew relates that Judas hanged himself, while Peter tells us he fell and was crushed by the impact. The two statements are indeed different, but do they necessarily contradict each other?

Matthew does not say that Judas did not fall; neither does Peter say that Judas did not hang himself. This is not a matter of one person calling something black and the other person calling it white. Both accounts can be true and supplementary.

A possible reconstruction would be this: Judas hanged himself on a tree on the edge of a precipice that overlooked the valley of Hinnom. After he hung there for some time, the limb of the tree snapped or the rope gave way and Judas fell down the ledge, mangling his body in the process.

The fall could have been before or after death as either would fit this explanation. This possibility is entirely natural when the terrain of the valley of Hinnom is examined. From the bottom of the valley, you can see rocky terraces twenty-five to forty feet in height and almost perpendicular.

There are still trees that grow around the ledges and a rocky pavement at the bottom. Therefore, it is easy to conclude that Judas struck one of the jagged rocks on his way down, tearing his body open. It is important to remember that we are not told how long Judas remained hanging from the tree or how advanced was the decomposition of his body before his fall.

Louis Gaussen relates a story of a man who was determined to kill himself. This individual placed himself on the sill of a high window and pointed a pistol at his head. He then pulled the trigger and leaped from the window at the same time.

On the one hand, a person could say that this man took his life by shooting himself, while another could rightly contend he committed suicide by jumping from the tall building. In this case, both are true, as both are true in the case of Matthew’s and Peter’s accounts of the death of Judas. It is merely a situation of different perspectives of the same event.[1]

 

 

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

Do Not Be Surprised…This ‘n’ That (16 May 2014)

 

  • It’s no secret that I believe the Alpha Course to be a dangerous and deceptive tool. Nevertheless, please join me in praying for the family of Gerard Long, who is the Executive Director of Alpha USA, following the unexpected death of his daughter.
  • A little fact-checking on John Hagee’s blood moon ‘prophecies’.
  • Overheard at a recent brainstorming session at the Vatican: “You know, we need more demon-fighting priests.” Okay, maybe that’s not exactly how it happened, but it’s how I imagine it.
  • You know what else we need more of? Trendy clerical clothes for women ordained in the Church of England. Yes, it is taking every ounce of self-control not to type out my snarky thoughts right now.
  • The hymns of Isaac Watts are like theologically rich, mini sermons.
  • Here’s your weekly dose of adorable.
  • Pastor Jerry Wragg’s Grace & Granite blog may be the best blog that you’re not reading. So start reading it now with this post.
  • And now continue reading it with this post.
  • So, apparently one of the “four essential” things for a “healthy children’s ministry” is not sound teaching of the truth of God’s Word.
  • “In the end, an impatience with the Word of God can be explained only by an impatience with God.”
  • Michael Kruger reviews Bart Ehrman’s latest book, How Jesus Became God.
  • Discussing Martyn Lloyd-Jones:

Source

The history of the doctrine of justification

With all of the sinful ecumenicism going on with so much of the charismatic camp pushing for the Roman Catholic Church to be considered a Christian denomination, Apprising Ministries brings you this look at what Calvin said was the very “hinge” of the Protestant Reformation.

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Biblical Redemption

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

15 Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. (Hebrews 9:15 ESV)

The Gospel is explained very well in the New Testament. The role of the Church in the World from the time of Christ’s Ascension until His return is very well defined for us there as well (to go and make disciples from all the earth, teaching them to observe all that He taught…) This Great Commission is not to ‘be the Gospel’ nor is it to ‘redeem the earth’ nor is it to ‘make the world a better place.’ No, it is to go and tell the Good News that we have a mediator of a new covenant and those who are called may receive the…

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