Daily Archives: June 24, 2014

Facebook and Counterfeit Faith: An Observation

Zwinglius Redivivus

Christianity in America has come to the point where many ‘believers’ think that if they post a few inspirational photos on facebook or talk about prayer a lot or mention God or such things that it makes it ok for them to live with someone they aren’t married to or commit adultery or steal from their job.

Little do they realize that God is not fooled by such false piety.

It is, nonetheless, terribly sad that what the Prophet said to Israel he would say to many now: God is close on their lips but far from their hearts.

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Questions about Theology: What Is the Dispensation of Human Government?

 

After God had worked face to face with the first humans, Adam and Eve (the dispensation of Innocence, Genesis 1:28–3:19), they sinned, and all mankind became a fallen race living on a cursed planet. Conditions changed, and all subsequent families on earth were to do good based on what they knew to be right (the dispensation of Conscience, Genesis 3:23–8:19). Mankind again failed to fulfill their responsibility. So God brought a worldwide Flood to wipe out all but eight people. In the next dispensation, God works in a new way with His creation via Human Government.

Human Government is the third dispensation (Genesis 8:20 to 11:9).

Stewards: Noah and his descendants The Period: From the Flood to the confusion of tongues at Babel, about 429 years Responsibility: To scatter and multiply (Genesis 9) Failure: Refusal to scatter and the building of the tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1–4) Judgment: Confusion of languages (Genesis 11:5–9) Grace: Abraham is chosen—the start of the Jewish race (Genesis 12:1–3)

After the Flood God stepped back from directly judging men until the Second Coming; thus, a human agency known as civil government was divinely appointed to restrain evil and protect man from his own sinful nature. Noah and his wife and his three sons and their wives began to repopulate the earth. Shem would become the father of the brown or Mediterranean region dwellers and eventually the Jews (Semitic comes from the Latin word for “Shem”). Ham fathered the black race, and Japheth fathered the Anglo or white race, which would become the Europeans.

Noah and his family had practical knowledge of the failure under the dispensation of Conscience, and God made them responsible to protect the sanctity of human life. “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed, for in the image of God He made man” (Genesis 9:6). In this way, God established the orderly rule of mankind for the good of society. Capital punishment is the most potent function of human government, and it presupposes all forms of legislation, organization, and enforcement. In the New Testament (Romans 13), man is still responsible to use this authority to enforce righteousness. In other words, God’s command in Genesis 9:6 has not been rescinded.

Sin (called “lawlessness” in 1 John 3:4) continued in the third dispensation. In fact, the time of Human Government was characterized by great idolatry and moral degradation. The height of disobedience was the rebellion against God at Babel—mankind built a tower to “make ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:4). Staying in one place was the one thing God told them not to do.

To enforce His command, God divided humanity into different language groups, and His sovereign will to populate the whole earth was accomplished. God also established a covenant with Noah that He would never again destroy the earth by water. His grace continued to be shown through His chosen people, beginning with Abraham.[1]

 

 

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

Miscellaneous Bible Questions: What Is the Definition of a Theocracy?

 

A theocracy is a form of government that is led by God or by a person or persons who claim to rule by divine authority. The word theocracy is a compound word using theos (Greek for “God”) and -cracy (“rule, strength or government”). The nation of Israel was to have been a theocracy, but they rejected God’s rule over them, and God gave them human kings instead (1 Samuel 8:4–9). God selected Saul to be the first king of Israel, and he was replaced by David. David ruled by divine authority and, in spite of his failure and sin, was accepted by God. David was promised that God would set up his “Seed” after him and that David’s house would be established for ever (2 Samuel 7:12–16). The Seed (or Son) of David refers to the Messiah, who is the LORD Jesus Christ (Mark 10:47).

We have seen the rise and fall of several so-called theocracies throughout history. One example is the Holy Roman Empire, which comprised German-speaking peoples and Northern Italy during the Middle Ages. The Holy Roman Empire began in AD 800 with the papal crowning of Charlemagne as emperor. The rulers of the Holy Roman Empire saw themselves as overseeing a theocracy in that the power of the government was melded to that of the Roman Catholic Church.

There will not be a true theocracy upon the earth until the thousand-year reign of Jesus Christ. During the Millennium, the Son of David will rule from Jerusalem in a just and righteous way (Psalm 72:1–11; Isaiah 11; Revelation 20:4–6). At that time, “the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God” (Revelation 21:3).[1]

 

 

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

Questions about Creation: What Was the Purpose of the Flood in the Time of Noah?

 

Genesis 6 gives the sad account of the state of humanity prior to the worldwide flood during the days of Noah. Genesis 6:5 states, “The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.” The level of sin and corruption among the human population was staggering: people thought about doing evil “all the time.” For the strong and healthy individual, an evil lifestyle would have ramifications evidenced by disease and death. But the weak or unhealthy (babies, children, women, and the disabled) would have been immediately put in harm’s way by the evil actions of others.

In addition, “The sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose” (Genesis 6:2). In the Hebrew language, these “sons of God” were “bene elohim.” This term is usually applied to angels (see Job 1:6). Genesis seems to be stating that, somehow, there was a physical union between angels and human women. The unnatural offspring of this union were the “Nephilim” (Genesis 6:4). The word Nephilim is directly transliterated from the Hebrew. The ancient root of the word implies a “fall.” Whatever the word actually means (in some versions of the Bible it is translated as “giants”), Scripture describes the Nephilim as “the heroes of old, men of renown.” Some theologians believe that God could simply not allow this corrupt offspring to exist on the earth, and that was part of the reason for the flood.

What can be understood without question is that the world that was then, the world of Noah, was incredibly corrupt and perverted. Genesis 6:6 tells us that “The LORD regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled.” The Lord’s “regret” is unlike ours. Creating mankind in the image of God was not a “mistake” on the part of the Lord. The Hebrew word nahem can also be translated “grieved.” The depraved actions of mankind grieved God in His most holy heart.

God responded to man’s sin in a holy and righteous manner, but also in a way that salvaged mankind. “So the LORD said, ‘I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.’ But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD” (Genesis 6:7, 8). Yes, all people on earth died except the eight people who were found righteous in the eyes of God: Noah, Noah’s wife, and Noah’s three sons and their wives. Scripture indicates that Noah testified to the world about the coming flood for 120 years. The people who perished in the flood died because they refused to acknowledge God or seek His forgiveness. Noah, on the other hand, is described as righteous, blameless, and obedient in that he “walked with God” (Genesis 6:9).

Noah and his family became our ancestors. None of us descend from the Nephilim or the unrighteous line of Cain (since Noah descended from Seth). The polluted, unrighteous population of the world of Noah disappeared from the earth. Mankind was salvaged, and from the line of righteous Noah came the Son of Man, Jesus Christ our Lord, who died to save those who call upon His name.[1]

 

 

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

Heartbreak and Hope

heartbreak and hope

As we see the ways of men being lifted up in their churches and God being diminished, our tendency as contenders for the faith is to be angry and forget that some of these celebrities were once serving God mightily. But the great deception many have now drifted into can also attract any one of us at any time.  We need to approach the growing darkness in the visible church firmly, but with great humility. Mike is going to share his thoughts, and we’ve published them separately.

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Contending with Humility

EgretI have been thinking and praying a lot about how things have gotten to where they are spiritually in America. There is no doubt we are rapidly becoming an apostate nation and “church”. When 55 million children are sacrificed to our personal god of wealth and convenience—and when we sit back and watch marriage be trampled under foot by both homosexual and heterosexual sin—while the church remains silent, even accepting, there can be little doubt we in America are those Paul talked about in Romans 1.

But as we stand up for the truth of God’s Word and point out the growing apostasy in the church, we must do so detached from self-righteousness and arrogance. All of us have contributed to the growing apostasy in this nation.

And as we critique and rebuke leaders who fancy themselves more as corporate CEOs instead of stewards of Jesus’ sheep, we must not be bitter or hateful toward them. And we must be willing to admit that some of these leaders started off doing great things for God.

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Willow Creek’s WCA president now heads Compassion International

Several concerned listeners have asked me in recent weeks to check out the newly-appointed president of Compassion International. After a year-long search, Compassion hired Santiago “Jim” Mellado as its head. As we read his bio, it turns out those concerns are valid red flags that perhaps this international agency may have compassion, but not much discernment. Mellado will formally take his new position in September.

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The War on Christians

 

The international persecution of Christians is growing at an alarming rate. In spite of the htousands of Christians displaced from their homes all over the world, the kidnappings, and the violence, only few get press coverage. These few cases are tragic, but only the surface. The Pew Forum has recently found that Christians have been specifically targeted in more than 150 countries.

06/24/14 Middle East (Weekly Standard) – For at least three reasons, the contemporary persecution of Christians demands attention: It is occurring on a massive scale, it is underreported, and in many parts of the world it is rapidly growing.

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life finds that Christians are suffering persecution in more places today than any other religious group; between 2006 and 2012, Pew says, they were targeted for harassment in 151 countries—three-quarters of the world’s states. Similar findings are reported by the Vatican, Newsweek, the Economist, and the 60-year-old Christian support group Open Doors. Most people in the West are unaware of these facts, though that may be changing.

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Let’s Be Watchful Out There: About Relational Heresy

It’s instructive that the Bible not only alerts us to watch out for doctrinal heresy, but also for relational heresy. 

The Bible commands us not only to be careful out there about people who are false teachers; we also must be careful out there about people who are false lovers—divisive, biting, devouring, overbearing, quarrelsome, and contentious people. 

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The Mars Hill Cult and Their Claim that Mental Illness Is Evidence of Demonic Involvement

Zwinglius Redivivus

Warren Throckmorton has the details (per usual) – so go there to read it all.  What caught my eye was this segment:

Mars Hill and Driscoll apparently consider depression and mental illness to be manifestations of the demonic. Consider the following aspects of the spiritual inventory a person who might go through a demon trial should consider:

  • Please consider the following list and list each thing that has been besetting and/or habitual for you: bestiality, habitual lying, physically unhealthy, masturbation, lying, pornography, ongoing depression, suicidal thoughts, alcohol abuse, drug use, anger, blasphemy, violence, self-inflicted injury, rape, incest, eating disorders, mental illness, pedophilia, and anything else that comes to mind.
  • Please consider the following list of sins that may have been committed against you or by you: rape, incest, molestation, other forms of abuse (e.g., physical, sexual, mental, emotional), as well as anything else that comes to mind.
  • Please briefly explain…

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Manipulation & Performance in Worship

No amount of performance or manipulation will raise the spiritually dead and neither will it cause the Spirit of God to move in our Worship services or Revive the Church. These activities solely belong to The Holy Spirit and to Him alone. If the Spirit of God is not manifesting himself in our services we must resist the temptation to ‘make up’ the difference as it were by doing what was forbidden in the Old Testament and seek to copy His peculiar presence.

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Dare Not Go Near the Border of Sin (lesson and prayer)

 

“Christ did sometimes go among the wicked; not that he approve of their sins, but as a physician goes among the diseased to heal them, so Christ intended to work a cure upon them (Mark 2:17). It was their conversion he aimed at.

“Though Jesus Christ did sometimes converse with sinners, yet he could receive no infection by them; his divine nature was a sufficient antidote against the contagion of sin. As the sun cannot be defiled with the thick vapours which are exhaled from the earth, and fly into the middle region, so the black vapours of sin could not defile the Sun of righteousness. Christ was of such spotless purity that he had no receptibility of evil. But the case is otherwise with us; we have a stock of corruption within. Therefore it is dangerous to incorporate with the wicked, lest we be defiled.

“Such as revere the divine majesty dare not go near the borders of sin. Those who went near the fiery furnace, though he did not go into it, were burned (Dan. 3:22)” (Thomas Watson, The Great Gain of Godliness, p.40).

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Lessons I’ve Learned From False Teachers

 

A few months ago I began a short series called “The False Teachers.” I wanted to look back through church history to meet some of the people who have undermined the church at various points. We looked at historical figures like Joseph Smith who founded Mormonism and Ellen G. White who led the Seventh Day Adventists into prominence, and we looked at contemporary figures like Benny Hinn, the prominent faith healer, and T.D. Jakes, who has tampered with the doctrine of the Trinity.

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10 Questions for a Six-Month Spiritual Checkup

 

By Chuck Lawless

It’s hard to believe that almost ½ of 2014 is now gone. Rather than worry about days past, though, let’s focus on preparing for the rest of the year. Use this list as a spiritual checkup to evaluate your walk, and then let us know how we might pray for you.

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Gospel Terminus

Gospel Terminus

BCC Staff Note: John Henderson first posted this article at the Association of Biblical Counselors site. The BCC is re-posting it with permission of John and the ABC. You can also read the original post here.

Our Final Destination

In 1 Timothy 1:15-17, the apostle Paul writes:

“It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”

Not too long ago I was traveling by train in a foreign country and disembarked several stops too soon. Not my first time. The doors opened, people started getting off, and I followed without giving a second thought. Took me a little while to notice. I wandered down a couple of avenues before realizing I had jumped off prematurely. Brutal! My mind had gone adrift into a wilderness of worries and projects. I had forgotten where I was supposed to be going. Just going with the flow, and lost. You may be able to relate.

Sometime in the seconds after the train or subway doors close behind you, present reality snaps back into focus. The surroundings make it clear you have not found your final destination. Besides the irritation of lost time, you have to face that little twinge of humiliation when you turn around in front of all those onlookers in order to wait for the next transport to arrive and carry you along the same course you just abandoned.

Of course, that’s assuming you notice. What if you don’t even realize you got off too soon? Now it gets really confusing and difficult. Who knows how long you could wander through a maze of roadways and alleyways before realizing something had gone awry!

I think we can do this with the gospel. The gospel tries to guide us somewhere in life with God and one another. There is a particular posture of the soul God has in mind for us—a certain end point to which He uses the gospel to lead. Sometimes we can stop short of this terminus. We might board the gospel train, ride it a while and enjoy a few of its stations, only to stop short of the destination to which His grace zealously drives us. Paul doesn’t want this to happen. Not in his life, not in ours. Nor does he want it to happen in the lives of those we counsel.

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Are You Good Enough to Go to Hell?

 

Are You Good Enough to Go to Hell?

I think these words of Jesus are the scariest I’ve ever heard:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

“On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’

“And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness'” (Matt. 7:21–23).

Check out the résumé of these people to whom Jesus will refuse entrance into heaven:

  1. They claim that Jesus is their Lord, the One who rules their lives.
  2. They publicly teach about Jesus with passion and authority.
  3. They cast out demons in Jesus’ name (something I definitely haven’t done!).
  4. They do miracles—actual miracles—all in Jesus’ name.

Jesus says people will be shocked when He’ll ask, “Who are you? I never knew you.”News flash: hell is for good people, too. People like you; people like me.

Tell me, do you:

  • Read your Bible?
  • Volunteer at the soup kitchen?
  • Tell people about Jesus?
  • Rescue helpless animals?
  • Go on mission trips?
  • Help in the church nursery?

If so, you’re good enough to go to hell.

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200 Words: Why I’m Not Roman Catholic

 

If someone were to ask me why I’m not Roman Catholic, this would be my answer in 200 words or less:

I believe the Roman Catholic church has seriously erred in three fundamental areas: in its approach to God, the Bible, and salvation.

1) In its approach to God, Roman Catholicism approves the veneration of (i.e. bowing down before) images and relics, encourages praying to the saints, and promotes Mary to a semi-divine status. All of these constitute varying forms of idolatry, which Scripture condemns (cf. Ex. 20:4–5; Lev. 26:1; Acts 10:25–26; Rev. 22:8–9).

2) In its approach to the Bible, Roman Catholicism elevates church tradition to a place of authority equal to (and in practice higher than) Scripture. The Lord Jesus condemned first-century Judaism as apostate because it likewise elevated the traditions of men above the Word of God (Mark 7:6–8).

3) In its approach to salvation, Roman Catholicism adds various sacramental works to the gospel of grace. In a similar way, the apostle Paul condemned the Judaizers because they added self-righteous works to the gospel (cf. Acts 15:1–11; Rom. 11:6; Gal. 1:6–9).

These fundamental issues, in addition to a host of other doctrinal problems (e.g. purgatory, the papacy, priestly celibacy, indulgences, the Apocrypha, etc.) lead me to reject Roman Catholicism.

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The Presbyterian Church USA turns against Israel. But they have already rejected Christ & His Word, so is this surprising? A brief analysis.

Joel C. Rosenberg's Blog

PCUSA-logoUPDATED:(Washington, D.C.) — The Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) General Assembly voted last week to divest from companies that operate in Israel.

I was deeply disappointed, but hardly surprised.

Let’s be clear: not all Presbyterians agree with this decision. There are orthodox evangelical Presbyterian churches, leaders, and individuals out there who truly love Christ, love His Word, and love both Israel and the Palestinians.

But PCUSA has completely lost its way. Many of its members are not only theologically liberal, they are engaged is full-blown apostasy. The majority PCUSA pastors and members, according to the denomination’s own data, completely deny the divinity of Jesus Christ. They completely reject the teachings of the Bible on numerous issues. Is it really surprising, then, that so many of its members do not have a Biblical understanding of how to love Israel and her Arab neighbors?

Let’s get back to the divestment issue in a moment. The apostasy issue is far more…

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