Daily Archives: June 20, 2014

Catholic Questions: Witnessing to Catholics—What Is the Key?

 

To know best how to witness to Catholics, it is good to know some of the things that make Catholics resistant to the idea of being “born again.”

Catholics are indoctrinated from an early age, and a barrier to biblical truth is carefully erected in their minds. Catholics are taught that everything that comes from Rome takes precedence over the Bible. “If the Pope says it, it must be true” is a cultivated mindset. Unfortunately, Catholics are not taught to think for themselves, and many do not know why they believe what they do. Many Catholics have no concept of what is written in the Bible, other than the two or three passages that are read during Mass.

Also, human nature being what it is, any threat to one’s belief system is automatically resisted. Apologetic confrontation tends to make Catholics defensive and to put up walls. To directly attack the apostasy of Catholic teaching is the wrong way; Catholics have been told to expect this from “Protestants,” so most of them are prepared for confrontation or simply cut off communication. Therefore, generally speaking, confronting a Catholic friend with the unbiblical doctrines of his church is self-defeating. It is usually better to gently point him to Scripture and its authority as God’s Word. Never underestimate the power of God’s Word to change a person’s heart (Hebrews 4:12).

The simplicity of the gospel is what will speak to Catholics the most. That’s the “key” in witnessing to them. In many ways, the Catholic Church insulates people from God, who can only be approached through priests and saints, and then only with the proper prayers, penance, and piety. The Bible teaches us “the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3, NASB). Jesus extends the invitation to all: “Let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life” (Revelation 22:17). “Whoever has the Son has life” (1 John 5:12). Such simplicity appeals to those laboring under a merit-based system of religious works.

Reaching the heart of a Catholic is a gradual process. The armor he wears must be chinked, piece by piece, as doubts arise in his mind about what he has been taught. The idea is to “draw him out” and cause him to ask questions about his own faith. Catholics have to be “spiritually thirsty” in order to search for valid answers. When their questions arise, we want to be in a position to answer them from the Bible. It’s easy to simply condemn what someone believes, but that can easily lead to a lost opportunity for further witness. A Catholic must see the truth for himself.

Of course, it goes without saying that we who witness to Catholics must be in the Word and “prayed up.” We must be compassionate, not antagonistic, and we must let the Holy Spirit guide us. Our prayer should be along these lines: “Lord, You know the heart and the motives of this person. Give me the words she needs to hear.”

As an encouragement, here is a testimony from a former Catholic: “I recall what ministered to me was first hearing the Word several times and then the awesome realization that I could know the Lord personally. For me, all the other Catholic doctrines that were wrong fell away gradually after I was born again and continued to read the Word.”[1]

 

 

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

Questions about Sin: Why Is Every Sin Ultimately a Sin against God?

 

Sin often harms another person, but, ultimately, all sin is against God. The Bible is contains many references to people admitting, “I have sinned against God” (Exodus 10:16; Joshua 7:20; Judges 10:10). Genesis 39:9 gives us a closer look at this. Joseph was being tempted to commit adultery with Potiphar’s wife. In resisting her, he said, “My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” It is interesting that Joseph did not say that his sin would be against Potiphar. This isn’t to say that Potiphar would be unaffected. But Joseph’s greater loyalty was to God and His laws. It was God he did not want to offend.

David said something similar after he had sinned with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11). When confronted with his sin, David repented in great sorrow, saying to God, “Against You and You only have I sinned” (Psalm 51:4). He had clearly sinned against Bathsheba and her husband, too, but it was the violation of God’s law that grieved David the most. God hates sin because it is the antithesis of His nature and because it harms us or someone else. By sinning against God, David had also hurt other people.

When someone commits a crime, the person who was harmed by the crime is not the one who punishes the criminal. Only the state can legally mete out punishment. It is the law that judges a person guilty or innocent, not the victim. It is the law that was violated. Regardless of the worthiness or innocence of the victim, all crimes are ultimately committed against the established law. If you rob your neighbor’s house, you have obviously wronged your neighbor, but it is not he who holds you accountable. It is the higher law you have violated. The state bears the responsibility to convict and punish you; your neighbor, although affected by your crime, defers to the state.

In the same way, all moral law begins with God. Because we were created in the image of God, we have His moral law written within our hearts (Genesis 1:27). When Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden, God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:22). At that time, no written law had been given. Yet Adam and Eve knew intuitively that they had sinned and ran to hide from God (Genesis 3:10).

We also know intuitively when we have sinned. Sin is a perversion of God’s perfect design. We all bear the very image of God Himself, and when we sin, we mar that likeness. We were created to be mirrors of the glory of God (Ephesians 2:10; 4:24; Hebrews 2:7). Sin is a big smudge on the mirror, and it diminishes the beauty and holiness we were designed to reflect. When we sin, we step outside the purpose for which we were created, thus violating God’s moral law, and we are accountable to Him for the trespass. Romans 3:23 says, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Sin is anything that falls short of God’s plan. So, whether it harms us or someone else, every sin is ultimately against a holy God.[1]

 

 

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

Questions about Life Decisions: Should a Christian Play Multi-player Fantasy Games like Dungeons and Dragons?

 

Multi-player role-playing games (RPGs) can be played with pens and paper around a table with a group of friends or in an online world that exists 24/7, involving hundreds to thousands of other players around the globe. The goal is for each player to control a character that represents himself, interact with other players, and complete quests, missions, or tasks to gain various attributes, experience, or treasure.

Fantasy games in particular often include magic, murder, and general mayhem. In online games, female avatars (representations of characters) are often scantily dressed. Some RPGs allow players to flirt with each other or have sexual encounters. In general, many video games are structured in such a way that encourages obsessive or addictive behaviors as players attempt to reach certain levels. Of course, the same can be said of many other types of entertainment.

As the Bible was written before the internet or RPGs were even a twinkle on the horizon, there is nothing specific in Scripture that refers to playing RPGs or even engaging in the fantasy worlds presented today. However, there are plenty of principles God has laid out in the Bible for godly living. These principles can guide us in how to live our lives as believers—including how we occupy our minds for fun.

Games of any kind are a form of entertainment, whether you’re talking about Angry Birds and Farmville or Monopoly and Candy Land or World of Warcraft and Dungeons and Dragons. Biblically, we have freedom to enjoy entertainment. God never says, “Thou shalt not have fun, nor shalt thou smile in all thy days.”

Enjoying a game with friends is not a sin. Games themselves, even RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons, are not sin. Sin is an action or thought performed by a human being. What we do with what we have constitutes whether or not we have sinned. But how do we know if any given choice is a sin or not?

We must weigh our choices against biblical principles. Possibly the most important one to remember in regards to entertainment is stated in Colossians 3:17: “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” When we are engaged in fun activities, we should always make sure those activities are pleasing God and that we are representing Christ well in our behavior toward other players.

RPGs like Dungeon and Dragons have an element of fantasy and magic about which it may be well to be wary. But we can still apply the same principles to determine if these games will or will not detract from your relationship with God or with others.

Is the theme appropriate?

Are you able to distinguish between reality and fantasy, right and wrong, or good and evil? Would exposure to the game’s themes and ideas leave you confused about God’s views on the occult or desensitize your mind to occult lifestyles? A mature Christian may not have any issues with separating a game from life, but someone who is already wrestling with his or her faith may find the messages confusing (Romans 12:2).

Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean that even a mature Christian should be exposed to a game that may cause him or the ones he loves to stumble or struggle in their faith (1 Corinthians 8:9). First Peter 5:8 says, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

Is evil encouraged?

In some games, evil is the goal, or characters can take on malicious or licentious characteristics that allow players to do things that would not be allowed in real life; thus, an unhealthy fantasy unfolds in the players’ minds. First Thessalonians 5:21–22 says to “hold fast to what is good” and “abstain from every form of evil”—even in how we represent ourselves in game play.

Philippians 4:8 says to dwell only on “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

How does this game affect my life and relationships?

If game play becomes more important than God, family, or work or school responsibilities, then it has become an idol or an obsession. Idols take our focus off of what is most important in life. The Bible instructs us to flee from anything on this earth that we might idolize (1 Corinthians 10:14).

Additionally, if interacting with online players begins to replace, damage, or hinder the relationships we have with other people, then the game is replacing our healthier communities. It would then be wise to draw back from these false friendships and cling to those which will be most beneficial. However, playing a game in person with close friends as a way to enjoy each other’s company can be a valuable and positive experience (Proverbs 18:24).

Whether or not you can personally, in good conscience, participate in a multi-player fantasy role-playing game is a matter to discuss between you and God. Philippians 4:6–7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

God is concerned about every aspect of our lives, including the ways we allow ourselves to be entertained, so we should give all of our worries and concerns to Him (1 Peter 5:7). After all, He knows what is best for you, and He knows exactly how a fantasy-based RPG will affect you and the people around you.[1]

 

 

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

End Times Prophecy Headlines: June 20, 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
June 20, 2014

CommentaryAnd OPINION

===INTERNATIONAL

UKRAINE: (Video) Ukraine signs a deal with the devil

IRAQ: ISIS jihadists seize Saddam’s chemical weapons stockpile – Who knew that after 10+ years of occupation by the good old USA, there would still be a “Saddam’s chemical weapons stockpile” just sitting around, minding its own business, waiting to be seized?

IRAQ: Obama sending Special Forces as “advisers” – How’d that work out in Vietnam?  Just exactly as it was supposed to work out–just like it will in Iraq.

IRAQ: The case for the partition of Iraq – It’s hard for this writer to get worked up over this. Iraq basically was a made-up country when it was created by the British about 95 years ago.  It was basically a made-up country when the USA went to war against it 11 years…

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Enter through the narrow gate

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

13 Εἰσέλθατε διὰ τῆς στενῆς πύλης· ὅτι πλατεῖα ἡ πύλη καὶ εὐρύχωρος ἡ ὁδὸς ἡ ἀπάγουσα εἰς τὴν ἀπώλειαν καὶ πολλοί εἰσιν οἱ εἰσερχόμενοι διʼ αὐτῆς· 14 τί στενὴ ἡ πύλη καὶ τεθλιμμένη ἡ ὁδὸς ἡ ἀπάγουσα εἰς τὴν ζωὴν καὶ ὀλίγοι εἰσὶν οἱ εὑρίσκοντες αὐτήν. (Matthew 7:13-14 NA28)

13 “Enter through the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way leading to destruction and many are the ones entering through it. 14 How narrow is the gate and constricted the road leading to life and few are the ones finding it.” (Matthew 7:13-14 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

It has been said that no prophet preached about Hell as much as our Lord Jesus Christ. It is also true that His preaching would be considered “divisive” and “offensive” in today’s politically correct culture. However, I seriously doubt that if preaching the truth…

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