Daily Archives: May 29, 2014

Muslim Questions: Should Christians Be Concerned about the Idea of Sharia Law?

 

First, we should define Sharia Law. Sharia is, as expressed in the Qur’an and the Sunnah, divine law. The Sunnah is a record of the life and example of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. The Sunnah is primarily contained in the Hadith or reports of Muhammad’s sayings, his actions, his tacit approval of actions, and his demeanor. Where it has official status, sharia is interpreted by Islamic judges who may be influenced by the religious leaders, or imams.

In secular Muslim states (such as Mali, Kazakhstan and Turkey), sharia is limited to personal and family matters. Countries such as Pakistan, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Egypt, Sudan and Morocco are strongly influenced by sharia, but ultimate authority lies with their constitutions and the rule of law. Saudi Arabia and some Gulf States enforce classical sharia. Iran has a parliament that legislates in a manner consistent with sharia.

“Traditionally, the Islamic umma [community or nation] is divided into three regions: the territory of Islam (dar al-Islam) the territory of peace (dar al-sulh), and the territory of war (dar al-harb).… In regions such as Pakistan, Iran, and Libya, Islamic law is assumed to form the basis of government. The second territory represents regions such as India and Africa where Muslims are in the minority but are permitted for the most part to live in peace and to practise their religion freely. The rest of the world comprises the third territory, which is viewed more as an ideological battleground contested by groups with conflicting values than as a literal theatre of war. Within this territory holy war (jihad) is waged against all non-Muslims or infidels (kafir) in perpetuity until they too are absorbed into the world of Islam.… No systematic exposition of Muslim beliefs appears in either the Qur’an or the Hadith [traditions]. Instead, such exposition is found in the compilation of Islamic canon law (shar’ia), which is considered to be divinely established and enjoins on all adherents strict obedience in all aspects of life. The principal sources for Islamic law are: the Qur’an, Tradition, Consensus (ijma’), and Reason (qiyas). The Shi’ites reject the ‘consensus’ and substitute what is for them the divinely appointed, infallible spiritual guide (Imam)” (from Islam: The Way of Submission by Solomon Nigossian, Crucible, 1987).

Aspects of Sharia Law that concern Christians:

Jihad: Jihad is holy war against the infidels of the world. All Muslims are obliged to kill the infidel. An infidel (or kafir) is a non-Muslim. Many Muslims think that killing an infidel guarantees going straight to paradise.

Apostasy: All apostates are to be killed. An apostate is any person who renounces Islam and changes his religion. Christians are not allowed to convert Muslims to Christianity. Conversion is perceived as blasphemy and carries the death penalty. Distributing Christian literature can result in a five-year prison sentence under Sharia Law.

Criticism of Islam: The death penalty applies to Muslims who criticize Muhammad, the Qur’an or Sharia Law. Severe penalties also apply to Christians who speak out against Islam.

Freedom of Worship: Although Islam pays lip service to “people of the book” (other Abrahamic religions), and the Qur’an says to respect and honor all people irrespective of their religion, the reality is that some Islamic countries are persecuting Christians, targeting their places of worship, and killing and imprisoning believers. Persecution is intense in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Maldives, and other countries with a strong Islamic influence.

Female victims of rape: Sharia Law protects rapists. A woman making an accusation of rape has to provide four male witnesses. If she is unable to do so, she will be charged with zina, for which the prescribed punishment is flogging or stoning. Thousands of women are imprisoned as a result of unsuccessful charges of rape. Some are even stoned to death. On October 27, 2008, Aisha, a 13-year-old girl in Kisayu, Somalia, was stoned to death for adultery; later, her aunt told the British Broadcasting Corporation that Aisha had been raped by three armed men. Rapists are seldom brought to trial, let alone punished.

Miscellaneous crimes: Fornication and adultery: Unmarried fornicators are to be whipped, and adulterers are to be stoned to death. Homosexuality: Homosexuals must be executed. Theft: Any person found stealing is to have a hand cut off. Battery and assault: An injured plaintiff can extract legal revenge; lex talionis (“an eye for an eye”) is in effect.

Should Christians be concerned? Many people in Europe, North America and Australia are unaware of the influence of Sharia Law in Islamic countries and have never considered the possibility of Sharia Law being introduced in their country. In November 2011 the MacDonald-Laurier Institute poll of Canadian Muslims found that 75 percent of respondents want Sharia Law. In December 2012 the Sydney Morning Herald reported that the imam at Australia’s largest mosque had issued a fatwa (legal ruling) against Christmas. In July 2011 Islamic extremists called upon British Muslims to establish three independent states within the U.K. There are also Muslim groups in the United States calling for the implementation of Sharia Law in America.

Christianity and Islam have opposing beliefs. Jesus (Isa) is mentioned 25 times in the Qur’an, but the Jesus of the Qur’an bears no resemblance to the Jesus of the Bible. The Qur’an says Jesus was only a human prophet and was not killed; rather, Allah took him up to heaven (Surah 4:157–158). When Jesus returns, he will be a follower of Muhammad and will kill the Antichrist, break the cross and slay the pigs. Everyone who does not accept Islam will be slain (Hadith 656). After ruling on earth for about 40 years, Jesus will die.

The Bible says Jesus is the eternal Word who was with God and who is God. The Word dwelt with man (John 1). The Bible says Jesus was crucified then resurrected and ascended into heaven—in front of eyewitnesses. When He returns, it will be to judge the world in true righteousness.

Allah tells Muslims to kill anyone who rejects Islam, converts to Christianity, or becomes an atheist. Jesus tells Christians to love Muslims because He wants Muslims to join Christians in heaven. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:43–44). Christians bless those who curse them and do good to those who hate them. This is not the way of Islam.

Christians should be very concerned about the spread of Islam in general and the impact of Sharia Law in particular. And we should always be alert to opportunities to witness to Muslims about the love of God through Christ Jesus.[1]

 

 

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

Questions about Humanity: What Does the Bible Say about Aging/Growing Old?

 

The Bible presents growing old as a normal, natural part of life in this world. There is honor involved in the aging process, because growing old is normally accompanied by increased wisdom and experience. “Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life” (Proverbs 16:31; see also Proverbs 20:29). God wants us to remember that life is short (James 4:14) and that the beauty of youth is soon gone (Proverbs 31:30; 1 Peter 1:24).

Ultimately, the question of growing old cannot be separated from the question of the meaning of life and the concept of the legacy we leave. In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon provides a sagacious look at aging and the issues related to it.

We are born with a natural tendency to “live for the moment,” but the ultimate futility of that approach is the subject of Ecclesiastes 1–7. As people grow older and begin to feel the increasing impact of their mortality, they typically try to invest their waning resources in projects that to them seem to hold more promise of lasting meaning in life, especially the hope of perpetuating their “name” in a lasting legacy (Ecclesiastes 2). Unfortunately, no one can predict what projects will have lasting value and significance (Ecclesiastes 3:1–15), and this normally leads to varying levels of disillusionment and even despair over life’s brevity and apparent injustice “under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 3:16–7:29).

With the growing realization that satisfaction in such activities is invariably fleeting, Solomon’s hope is that people will grow wiser in the use of their God-given “portion” before they die (Ecclesiastes 8–12; see also Psalm 90:12). And this wisdom grows in relation to our awareness of “time and judgment”—this is God’s answer to life’s brevity and apparent injustice (Ecclesiastes 3:15c–17; 8:5b–8, 12b–15; 9:11–12; 11:9; 12:14). The Hebrew notion of “time” in these passages combines the concepts of “opportunity” (“just the right time” to act expediently when the occasion arises) and “limited lifespan” (“only so much time” before all opportunity is gone). The Hebrew notion of “judgment” in these same texts presupposes complete freedom in the use of our God-given “portion” in life as our desires lead us, yet with a concomitant accountability to the One who distributed our allotted portions. The New Testament counterpart to these concepts can be found portrayed vividly in Jesus’ parables of the ten virgins and the talents (Matthew 25), the two sons (Matthew 21:28–32), and the unjust steward (Luke 16:1–13).

Among the most disturbing aspects of growing old—especially in cultures that set a high value on rugged individualism—is the increasing frequency of senile dementia as human lifespan increases. It seems eminently unfair that people so afflicted should be robbed of their intellectual, emotional and social vitality while their physical bodies continue to survive. Alzheimer’s disease is a particularly difficult pill to swallow because the cause is unknown and it does not seem to be related to any particularly bad health habits. While progression of Alzheimer’s can be stalled, in part, by continued active involvement in mind-stimulating and physical activity, progression of the disease is nevertheless inexorable.

The author of Ecclesiastes acknowledges this vexing unfairness from a human perspective (Ecclesiastes 7:15–18; 8:14–9:3), yet he offers wisdom to help us deal with it from God’s perspective, entailing the notions of “time and judgment.” With our inevitable disillusionment over the human condition—our universal depravity, uncertainty, and mortality—it is wise to remember that “for all the living there is hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, their hatred, and their envy have now perished; nevermore will they have a share in anything done under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 9:4–6, NKJV). Knowing that they are accountable for their God-given “portion,” people should take joyful advantage of all their gifts, talents, wisdom, and opportunities in life sooner rather than later—before all opportunity to do so has ceased, before inevitable debilitation forecloses all opportunity (9:7–10; 11:9–12:7).

The thrust of this reflection from Ecclesiastes on growing old is that meaning in life is fulfilled in our God-given purpose, and our purpose is only fulfilled when we take advantage of our God-given portion in Christ, God’s promised Savior. While this portion may seem less fair for some than for others, life’s meaning will be consummated only at the final judgment when we receive our inheritance (Ecclesiastes 7:11) for the way we invest our portion, be it good or bad (Ecclesiastes 12:14; cp. 2 Corinthians 5:10). On that day, we will see God as eminently fair in His rewards, regardless of how unfair or unevenly distributed our portion may seem in this present life.[1]

 

 

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

Questions about Jesus Christ: Where Is Jesus Now? Is Jesus in Heaven?

 

According to Mark 16:19 and 1 Peter 3:22, Jesus is in heaven right now at the right hand of God the Father. Luke 24:51 and Acts 1:9–11 describe the bodily ascension of Jesus, which occurred 40 days after His resurrection. Jesus had told His disciples that He was going to prepare a place for them and for all believers (John 14:2–3).

It is plain from Scripture that Jesus’ ascension was a literal and bodily return to heaven. He rose up from the ground gradually and was received into a cloud while His disciples and other astonished onlookers gazed in wonder. Then two angels appeared and promised Christ’s return “in just the same way that you have watched Him go (Acts 1:11). This marked the end of the human limitations Jesus had during His earthly ministry. Some of the attributes He possessed as God had been temporarily suspended, but now the suspension was over. His heavenly glory returned—a glimpse of which was seen at the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1–9).

King David said in the Spirit, “The LORD says to my lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet’ ” (Psalm 110:1). This verse means literally “Jehovah says to Adonai.” This is a remarkable conversation between two Persons of the Godhead. In Matthew 22:43–45, Jesus applies this psalm to Himself, claiming that He is more than the son of David, but that He is David’s Lord. Jesus’ place is at the right hand of God, the place of divine honor.

Other passages that indicate Jesus’ presence in heaven are Matthew 26:64; Luke 22:69; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 12:2; and Revelation 5:7. Also Stephen, just before he died, had a vision in which he “looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55).

So, biblically, Jesus is in an actual place called heaven, a place of glory where God dwells with His angels and redeemed children. In another sense, Jesus is also with us here, in this world. Jesus, being God, has all of the attributes of God, including omnipresence. So, Jesus and the Father and the Holy Spirit are everywhere and not just “in heaven.” As Solomon said in 2 Chronicles 2:6, “The heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain him.”[1]

 

 

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

Joseph: His Role in a Bigger Story – John MacArthur

 

This is the third post in a short blog series on the life of Joseph. Click here to read part one, and here for part two.

Joseph’s sudden and shocking promotion to the right hand of Pharaoh was neither karma nor compensation. The betrayal of his brothers, the indignity of slavery, and the injustice of his imprisonment were all experiences ordained by God in preparation for a monumental rescue operation.

Abundant Blessing

During Egypt’s seven years of abundance, Joseph was busy organizing the collection and storage of grain in all the cities throughout Egypt. His efforts were so successful that it became impossible to keep an accurate count of the entire supply.

It was also during this time that Joseph got married and started a family. Joseph declared God’s goodness to him in the names of his two sons. He named his firstborn Manasseh, which means forgetful. Joseph explained that the name meant, “God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household” (Genesis 41:51). He named his younger son Ephraim, meaning fruitful. Again he explained, “God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction” (Genesis 41:52).

God at the Center

Despite all that Joseph endured, God was still at the center of his thinking. The Lord enabled him to put the pain of his past behind him and to enjoy blessings in the very place where he had endured so many trials. Though Egypt was about to experience a great famine, Joseph was enjoying great abundance.

When the good years of harvest ended and the famine began, Joseph’s diligent preparations paid off. Not only were the Egyptians spared from mass starvation, but multitudes of people suffering famine in the surrounding regions came to Egypt to buy food (Genesis 41:57)—including Joseph’s brothers. Twenty years after they sold their brother into slavery, Jacob’s ten oldest sons made the same trek to Egypt that Joseph had been forced to make long ago.

God had allowed Joseph to endure so much so that, through his efforts, Jacob’s family might be rescued from famine and brought to a place where they could grow into a large nation. It was all part of fulfilling the promise the Lord made with Abraham three generations earlier (cf. Genesis 15:13–14). In an ironic turn of divine providence, Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt in order to avoid death and would be rescued by the very person they sought to kill two decades earlier.

That irony was not lost on Joseph. He could see the Lord’s hand of providence in their earlier actions. He understood that God was using him to preserve his family and to bring them down to Egypt. Everything was according to the Lord’s will. Listen to the God-centered theology that undergirded Joseph’s thinking as he comforted his brothers with these words:

I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt. (Genesis 45:4–8)

Three times, Joseph emphasized that God’s hand was behind it all. Joseph was not excusing his brothers’ sin—he was emphasizing the fact that the Lord uses even the wicked choices of sinful people to accomplish His sovereign purposes. Because God sent Joseph to Egypt, Jacob and his entire family were saved from a famine that could have wiped out the budding nation of Israel.

The Move to Egypt

When Jacob heard the news that his beloved son Joseph was still alive, he initially did not believe it (Genesis 45:26). He was already 130 years old, but he eagerly readied himself for a journey to Egypt to see his long-lost son. As he travelled, God appeared to him in a vision and reiterated the fact that this was all part of His design to fulfill His covenant with Abraham. The Lord told Jacob, “I am God, the God of your father; do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you a great nation there” (Genesis 46:3; cf. Genesis 12:1–3).

Pharaoh gladly received Joseph’s father and brothers and offered them the best land in Egypt—a region called Goshen. There they were able to establish their families, raise their livestock, and thrive. Jacob lived another seventeen years in Egypt and died at the age of 147. Over the next four hundred and fifty years, Israel went from a family of seventy to a nation of nearly two million—large enough to take over the Promised Land. Looking back, we can see what Joseph couldn’t—through him, the Lord set in motion events that would shape the history of Israel, culminating in the sacrifice of His Son.

God is Still Sovereign

Although Joseph’s circumstances and his place in redemptive history were unique to him, his perspective is one that all believers ought to emulate. The God who superintended the events of Genesis 37–50 still sits on the throne of the universe. He was sovereign over the circumstances of Joseph’s life, and He is sovereign over our circumstances too. We may not always understand what is happening around us, but like Joseph, we can rest confidently in the fact that the Lord is not only in control, but using that control to further His plans.

Throughout Scripture, the theme of God’s sovereignty is repeatedly presented as a comfort to believers. We need be anxious for nothing because our heavenly Father reigns over all. He is all-powerful, all-wise, and all-present, and He has promised to work all things together for His glory and our good (Romans 8:28). We have nothing to fear because if God is for us, who can be against us (Romans 8:31)? No one can oppose His will, and nothing can thwart His plans (Isaiah 14:27).

As these verses—and a host of others—show, the Bible is explicit in its depiction of God’s sovereign control over all things. Joseph’s example reminds us that “our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases” (Psalm 115:3). That means we can trust Him and wholly rest in the reality that He is on His throne. Embracing that kind of perspective won’t take our trials away, but it will enable us to find joy and peace in the midst of them (James 1:2–4). Thus, even when others hurt us or life seems difficult and unfair, we can triumphantly declare with Joseph, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20).

 

(Adapted from Twelve Unlikely Heroes.)


Available online at: http://www.gty.org/resources/Blog/B140529
COPYRIGHT ©2014 Grace to You

Legalism is a Real Problem

 

Editors’ Note: In the coming weeks, Dr. Richard Phillips will be discussing the affirmations and denials of the Gospel Reformation Network. A full list is available at the conclusion of this article.
In order to assist the important discussions taking place concerning justification and sanctification, the Gospel Reformation Network has published 12 Affirmations & Denials on the Gospel and Sanctification.

Beholding Glory: The Dynamics of Sanctification

 

How Stuff Works - GearsOver the past few days, we have been examining some fundamental biblical truths about the doctrine of sanctification. On Tuesday, we considered three of those truths. First, we saw that sanctification is a fundamentally internal and supernatural work. Second, as a result of that, we considered how sanctification is a sovereign work of the Spirit of God. But then we quickly observed how the Spirit’s sovereign work doesn’t cancel our work, because the Spirit employs means in sanctifying the believer. And yesterday, we looked into five of those means which we are to avail ourselves of in order to grow in Christlikeness.

Today I want to focus on how it is that those means actually work. In other words, I want to look at the actual dynamics of sanctification. Why is it that the Word of God, and prayer, and fellowship with the saints, etc., sanctify us?

Read more

Martin Luther Reviews Joel Osteen’s ‘Your Best Life Now’

Zwinglius Redivivus

Luthers handschriftlicher Eintrag der Lebensdaten der Heiligen Elisabeth in dem Sammelband mit der Signatur 75.2 Quod. Luthers handschriftlicher Eintrag der Lebensdaten der Heiligen Elisabeth in dem Sammelband mit der Signatur 75.2 Quod.

May God punish you, I say, you shameless, barefaced liar, devil’s mouthpiece, who dares to spit out, before God, before all the angels, before the dear sun, before all the world, your devil’s filth. You are in all you do the very opposite of Christ as befits a true Antichrist. You are the devil’s most dangerous tool! Must we believe your nightmares? We leave you to your own devices, for nothing properly suits you except hypocrisy, flattery, and lies.– Martin Luther

View original post

Martin Luther’s View of Rick Warren’s ‘Purpose Driven Church’

Zwinglius Redivivus

Luthers handschriftlicher Eintrag der Lebensdaten der Heiligen Elisabeth in dem Sammelband mit der Signatur 75.2 Quod. Luthers handschriftlicher Eintrag der Lebensdaten der Heiligen Elisabeth in dem Sammelband mit der Signatur 75.2 Quod.

May God punish you, I say, you shameless, barefaced liar, devil’s mouthpiece, who dares to spit out, before God, before all the angels, before the dear sun, before all the world, your devil’s filth. You are in all you do the very opposite of Christ as befits a true Antichrist. You are the devil’s most dangerous tool! Must we believe your nightmares? We leave you to your own devices, for nothing properly suits you except hypocrisy, flattery, and lies.– Martin Luther

View original post

Mars Hill Is a Cult- Christians Need to Exit

Zwinglius Redivivus

There’s just no question about it.  Here’s an agreement (in part) which all must sign

As Pastors, we commit together that we will serve the best interests of our Savior Jesus Christ, and our church, Mars Hill Church. If and when any of us feel led to serve the Lord somewhere other than at one of the church locations of Mars Hill Church, we will submit our opportunity to one another and our Executive Elders first in accordance with Proverbs 11:14, “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”

Together this day, we commit that our next church ministry will not be within ten miles of any location of Mars Hill Church, except with the express consent of the local pastors of the nearest church, the sending church, if different, and the Executive Elders of Mars Hill Church . We are…

View original post 163 more words

Assurance of Salvation: Seated on a Three-Legged Stool

No doubt readers are aware of the recent controversy over the nature of sanctification and the relationship of sanctification to justification. Let us mark the fact that there is a right and wrong view of these matters. Justification is by faith alone in Christ alone by grace alone. There is no doubt about that fact. It is a glorious truth. But justification is not the whole of salvation.

Salvation embraces the benefits of justification, adoption, sanctification, and glorification among other things. Union with Christ, is, as a friend of mine frequently reminds me, the “central soteric blessing” that provides the context for enjoying all the benefits accruing to us by faith. We are justified by faith alone but not by a faith that is alone. True faith is always accompanied by other graces (WCF 11.2) though those other graces do not factor into our justification. Additionally, true faith produces good works (James 2:14-26). They are, to be technical, consequentially necessary. That is, good works do not merit justification, but the justified person quite (super) naturally does them. One who is justified (and therefore one who is also adopted and definitively and progressively sanctified and on the way to being glorified) will, to a lesser or greater extent, endeavor after new obedience and will desire to please the Lord.

The recent controversy surrounding sanctification seems to be releated, at least in part, to the matter of assurance. How, in fact, does one know that one is saved, that one is a true Christian? That is a good–and most important–question. Thankfully we do not have to reinvent the wheel. The Westminster Confession of Faith ch. 18 (“Of the Assurance of Grace and Salvation”) addresses this question in paragraph 2:

This certainty is not a bare conjectural and probable persuasion grounded upon a fallible hope; but an infallible assurance of faith founded upon the divine truth of the promises of salvation, the inward evidence of those graces unto which these promises are made, the testimony of the Spirit of adoption witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God, which Spirit is the earnest of our inheritance, whereby we are sealed to the day of redemption.

The Divines inform us that assurance is “infallible” and not just a “hope so” kind of hope. A Christian can know that he or she is saved and is united to Christ by that indissoluble bond of saving faith. The Divines go on to remind us that for various and sundry reasons this assurance may be waited on for a very long time and may be intermitted with periods of doubt (for instance, because of persistant sin), but that the true Christian never loses the seed of faith (WCF 18:3 & 4). Be this as it may, the Scripture references above remind us, one of the privileges of being a Christian is knowing that one is an accepted son (or daughter) of the Father, through faith in the Son, and by way of the witness of the Holy Spirit.

Christians often wrestle with the basis for assurance. What is the foundation for believing that one actually is accepted of the Father, through the Son, and by the Spirit? The answer lies in that second paragraph of chapter 18 of the Westminster Confession of Faith. There we find that the assurance of the faith is grounded in or founded upon or is firmly seated on a three-legged stool. You can be assured that you are saved, a recipient of divine grace, based upon (1) the objective promises of God in his Word, (2) the manifestation of the internal graces of redemption, and (3) the internal witness of the Holy Spirit.

Let’s consider each of these in turn. We can say this at the outset: there are objective and subjective elements involved in proper Christian assurance. The first leg is objective, the second is subjective, and the third partakes of both objective and subjective elements. We, more often than not, tend to emphasize one of these over the others and so end up skewing our enjoyment of assurance.

The first leg involves the objective promises of God in his Word. The passages I brought to the conversation with the elderly Roman Catholic woman nearly 30 years ago stress this aspect of the basis for assurance. The Scriptures reveal that we can know for certain that we are saved. These promises are squarely based upon the sure promises of a truth-telling and trustworthy God. He is not playing a cat and mouse game with us. Not at all.

The second leg is subjective. If we are true recipients of God’s saving grace in Christ, that will result in changed affections. That is, our desires, motivations, and inclinations will differ from the unbeliever. This is not to say that we will not struggle with sin. But as a Christian you have been brought out from under the dominion of Satan and sin. You have been transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of God’s dearly beloved Son (Colossians 1:13). You will be grateful for your salvation as over against unbelieving ingratitude. You will desire to please God as over against desiring your own gratification.

This inward change (what we call regeneration in the beginning, and progressive sanctification in the continuation of the Christian life) in your attitude toward God will more or less work itself out in your behavior. You will, to use the language of the Westminster Standards, “endeavor after new obedience;” and because you are indwelt by the same Spirit of holiness who raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 6:4) you will actually achieve obedience to some extent (i.e., you will perform good works as an evidence or manifestation of your justification, not as the meritorious cause of it). As Paul tells us in Romans 6:4, we will walk in newness of life. This subjective change and outward manifestation of grace will vary from person to person and from season to season within the same individual. One person starts at point A and another begins at point A-1. We must extend grace to each other in the Christian life.

The third and final leg is both objective and subjective. This third leg is the internal witness of the Holy Spirit that we are children of God. This is the declaration that we actually are children of the living and loving God. This third leg is objective in that it is the Holy Spirit (who is the third person the Triune Godhead and so is not to be confused with us or our inclinations). He witnesses with our spirit (Rom. 8:25). It is subjective because the Holy Spirit witnesses with our spirit that we are children of God. The Holy Spirit confirms the objective promises of God and the internal work he has worked in us that has resulted in changed affections. This is the Spirit of adoption that Paul tells us about in Romans 8.

Assurance of salvation is a gift of grace and it is a matter of fact that when we are robbed of this blessing we are not firmly grounded in our Christian experience. Instead, we end up being tossed to and fro on the raucous waves of ever-shifting experience. While our assurance can wax and wane, without it the Christian life would be reduced to a “hope so” faith rather than the certainty of faith that the apostle John tells us about. This is no theoretical chimera. I recently attended a graduation at a Christian college where a student stood up and in the midst of a testimonial to the benefit of a Christian education suggested faith and certainty were polar opposites. Really? Where did assurance evaporate to?

Beloved, you can know that you are saved. You can know that you are in a right relationship with the Father through the Son and by the Holy Spirit. Without this assurance you are robbed of your joy in the Holy Spirit; without it, it is doubtful whether you will make any progress in the Christian life. As John Calvin pointed out so many years ago, your relationship with God must be settled before you can grow in grace, before you can grow in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. In whatever ecclesiastical circle it surfaces, the idea that lack of assurance is a proper motivation for good works is erroneous too. Good works arise from changed affections which in turn arise from the work of the Holy Spirit. Our assurance rests firmly on the three-legged stool of the precious promises of God, the changed affections and their outward manifestation in the Christian life, and the internal witness of the Holy Spirit.

Read more

The False Teachers: Creflo Dollar

A few weeks ago I set out on a series of articles through which I am scanning the history of the church—from its earliest days all the way to the present time—to examine some of Christianity’s most notable false teachers and to examine the false doctrine each of them represents. Along the way we have visited such figures as Joseph Smith (Mormonism), Ellen G. White (Adventism), Norman Vincent Peale (Positive Thinking) and Benny Hinn (Faith Healing). Today we turn to one of the chief proponents of the popular but sinister prosperity gospel.

Creflo Dollar

Read more

More Unity as Pope Francis Calls Muslims “Dear-Brothers”

Apprising Ministries looks at this event in light of Beth Moore’s talk of a coming “outpouring” of the Spirit, Rick Warren’s advancing unity with the Church of Rome, and the pope’s friend Tony Palmer playing the pope’s message of unity at the ministry conference of charismaniac leader Kenneth Copeland.

You’ll see that we have good reason to wonder just how far-reaching this growing spiritual unity may eventually stretch.

Read more

End Times Prophecy Headlines: May 29, 2014

End Times Prophecy Report

End Times Prophecy Report Headlines: Bible prophecy in Today's headlines. Bible prophecy in Today’s headlines.

End Times Prophecy Report
HEADLINES
May 29, 2014

CommentaryAnd OPINION

===INTERNATIONAL

INDIA: Indian court asked to rule on whether Indian guru is dead or meditating – One suspects the ruling could be: spiritually dead.

SYRIA: Obama pushes war in Syria, extends war in Afghanistan to at least 2016

SYRIA: How to train (secretly) a rebel army in seven steps – If Americans weren’t meant to know this, the Corporate Media would never print a word of it.  So, this is something that readers are supposed to know; namely, that the USA is training the Syrian “rebels.”

<LIBYA:US warns all Americans to get out of Libya — and expands evac force

===NATIONAL

Do You Know this Guy? – (h/t:B) The rich, celebrated and politically-connected elite.

White House pushes Chinese-style Internet ID for web users (w/VIDEO)

First State has passed an Article V Convention of States…

View original post 2,670 more words

Has The Next Recession Already Begun For America’s Middle Class?

Has the next major economic downturn already started? The way that you would answer that question would probably depend on where you live. If you live in New York City, or the suburbs of Washington D.C., or you work for one of the big tech firms in the San Francisco area, you would probably respond to such a question by saying of course not. In those areas, the economy is doing great and prices for high end homes are still booming. But in most of the rest of the nation, evidence continues to mount that the next recession has already begun for the poor and the middle class. As you will read about below, major retailers had an absolutely dreadful start to 2014 and home sales are declining just as they did back in 2007 before the last financial crisis. Meanwhile, the U.S. economy continues to lose more good jobs and 20 percent of all U.S. families do not have a single member that is employed at this point. 2014 is turning out to be eerily similar to 2007 in so many ways, but most people are not paying attention. (Read More….)

Having been freed and from sin, you were enslaved to righteousness

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

17 χάρις δὲ τῷ θεῷ ὅτι ἦτε δοῦλοι τῆς ἁμαρτίας ὑπηκούσατε δὲ ἐκ καρδίας εἰς ὃν παρεδόθητε τύπον διδαχῆς, 18 ἐλευθερωθέντες δὲ ἀπὸ τῆς ἁμαρτίας ἐδουλώθητε τῇ δικαιοσύνῃ. (Romans 6:17-18 NA28)

17 But thanks be to God that you used to be slaves of sin, but you have become become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching; 18 having been freed from sin, you were enslaved to righteousness. (Romans 6:17-18 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. (Romans 6:17-18 ESV)

What does it mean that genuine Christians have been enslaved (ἐδουλώθητε) to righteousness (δικαιοσύνῃ)? So many professing Christians today have absolutely no concept of this…

View original post 1,401 more words

%d bloggers like this: