Monthly Archives: July 2014

This is a time for Christians to show solidarity with Israel as she faces an onslaught of terrorism. It’s also a time to show compassion towards Palestinians who are being crushed by Hamas. A few thoughts to consider.

Joel C. Rosenberg's Blog

HolyBible(Denver, Colorado) — This is Day #24 of the Gaza war. Is the Church doing enough to love the people who are suffering in the epicenter, in obedience to the Scriptures?

Now more than ever, is it vital for Christian leaders and lay people to speak out in solidarity with Israel — and even go visit Israel soon — as Jews and Arabs defend themselves against Radical Islam. Day after day, Israel is facing not only an onslaught of terrorism but an evil double-standard. Israeli citizens have absorbed more than 2,800 rocket attacks and numerous terror squads who have come from the Gaza Strip to murder innocent men, women and children. Yet rather than receive encouragement from world democracies who see a fellow democracy under attack, much of the world is turning against Israel. Anti-Semitic attacks are skyrocketing, especially in Europe. Israel is being condemned at the U.N., blasted by world leaders, and even pressured by our President and…

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Questions about False Doctrine: What Is the Bridal Paradigm, and Is It Biblical?

 

The bridal paradigm is a teaching that emphasizes the Church as the Bride of Christ and the Kingdom of God as a love affair between Jesus and His Bride. A paradigm is a perspective or framework; the bridal paradigm is an eschatological framework that stresses loyal love for the Savior in the end times, soul-winning, a special anointing of the Spirit, and an emotional, “intimate” attachment to Christ. The bridal paradigm is taught by the International House of Prayer (IHOP) and similar groups in the Charismatic movement.

According to bridal paradigm doctrine, the whole Bible is the story of God’s seeking a suitable mate for His Son. Jesus is pictured as a lovesick suitor who is passionately awaiting the time when He will be reunited with His beloved Bride. While the New Testament does use the metaphor of the Bride of Christ, the bridal paradigm takes the metaphor to an extreme, teaching that it is the primary picture of the Church and that each individual believer is the Bride.

In the bridal paradigm, people are taught to see themselves as “married” to Christ. In some meetings “wedding ceremonies” are held in which individuals speak marriage vows to Jesus and walk under a huppah, a Jewish marriage canopy. They are encouraged to participate in a “bridal fast” and are often told to allow themselves to be “ravished” by Jesus. Words such as intimacy, passion, and lovesick are part of the standard vocabulary.

Teachers of the bridal paradigm place a heavy emphasis on their highly allegorized interpretation of the Song of Solomon. In their view, the book is more than a depiction of sensual love between a husband and wife; it is a metaphor of Jesus and the individual believer.

Concerning the end times, the bridal paradigm teaches that the Church will go through the Tribulation. During that time, the Church becomes a sort of “super church” as it finally recognizes its calling as the Bride of Christ. When the Church awakens to its true nature, it will experience a special anointing from the Holy Spirit; unite in intercessory prayer; call down judgment, Moses-like, upon the Antichrist; lead an unprecedented global revival; and, in the end, welcome Christ to the earth as a zealous Lover.

According to bridal paradigm doctrine, the problem with the Church today is that it is unenlightened and defeated. It does not see Christ as the Bridegroom and is not “intimate” with Him. Mike Bickle, the founder of IHOP, claims that, due to the “revelations” given to him, we can finally see our true purpose. Bickle has said that the end times are the “only. time in all of human history where the people of God universally, worldwide will see Jesus as a Bridegroom King” (from a message recorded March 6, 2008).

Bickle also teaches that Jesus will not return to the earth until His Bride really wants Him to come. He is being held back right now by our own lack of knowledge: “Jesus is not coming until the Body of Christ globally is crying out ‘Come Lord Jesus, Come Lord Jesus, Come Lord Jesus,’ and they don’t just say, ‘Come and forgive me,’ they are crying out in the understanding of who they are as the one that is cherished by Jesus in the bridal identity” (op. cit.). He uses Revelation 22:17 as a “proof text” for this teaching.

Is the bridal paradigm biblical? No, it is not. This is not to say that there is not some truth being presented in the movement. Jesus does love His Church (Ephesians 5:25), and the picture of the Church as a Bride is biblically supported (Revelation 19:7). But the bridal paradigm is an unbalanced approach to Scripture. Other problems include the teachings that the Church will experience the Tribulation; that everything God does is centered on a passion for us, rather than on His own glory; that the primary meaning of the Song of Solomon is a mystical one; and that all previous generations of Christians have failed to understand what Bickle now knows.

Second Timothy 4:3–4 warns that “the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” One such myth is the romantic, sensual Jesus of the bridal paradigm.[1]

 

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

Questions about Family / Parenting: How Should Christian Parents Respond If a Child Has a Learning Disability?

 

It seems that today more and more parents in the western world are saying “My child has a learning disability!” In western society more and more children are being identified as having ADD, ADHD or being diagnosed as afflicted with autism or some sort of mental condition that makes them unable to relate to others or develop “normally.” This is a scary reality and believers are not exempt from these things. How should believers respond when faced with these issues?

The only lasting formula for responding to the issues of living in our fallen world is to choose to walk by faith. That sounds very trite and over-simplified for parents who are desperately searching for answers, but for the believer, it is the only answer. In fact, for the believer the hope of God’s grace through faith is the one true foundation we can stand on when our child is in crisis and we cannot fix things with a kiss and a band aid.

If a child breaks a leg or an arm, a trip to the hospital corrects the break. It is not left to heal on its own and be a lifelong issue that the child must deal with. It is our calling as parents to nurture our children in the Lord in every aspect of their lives, not for our convenience, but for their spiritual good. So if a child has a learning disability or has trouble maintaining attention or behaving appropriately due to being autistic or to having some mental disability, we do not leave that child to flounder. Rather, we do as much as we can with as much love as we can for as long as we can without regard to the cost. There are resources available through organizations dedicated to research and support for each disability. A great deal more is known about how children learn than ever before, and much more help is available now than ever before. For some there is only the help and comfort of church and family to come alongside with resources and practical help. That means we reach out and do not isolate ourselves from God’s people. The “one another” commands are a great resource in time of need (1 Corinthians 12:25; Galatians 6:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; 1 Peter 3:8).

Conditions such as autism are not a reflection on us as parents or the result of something we did or did not do, nor are they something we somehow deserve. Just as no one “deserves” cancer, no child or parent deserves autism or mental retardation. The child with a disability is just as precious to the Lord as any other child (Matthew 19:14). In this world, there is no rhyme or reason why one child is afflicted and another is not. We live in a fallen world and the infirmity of the flesh can manifest itself in devastating ways. It is God’s amazing grace alone that overcomes the sad realities of a world tainted by sin. Indeed, one wonders how those who are not believers cope with these issues without the grace of God in their lives.

So the believer responds to their child’s learning disability with faith and puts that faith into action, bathing that child with love and acceptance at every opportunity. We enlist family, the church family, and every other resource available to help. We ask others to pray for us and help us through this time, all the while understanding that none of this is out of God’s control.

We can ask, “Why my child, Lord?” and “Why would a loving God allow this?” That is normal and natural and the answer is that God uses the details of this earthly life to demonstrate His provisions and grace and, ultimately, to glorify Himself. As believers, we are given a higher calling and a greater resource (1 Corinthians 1:26–30). The Apostle Paul declares that God displays His might and power through men and there is no unrighteousness in His purpose (Romans 9:14–23). We may not understand, but He will use the details of our lives to build in us His good and His glory. Therefore, when undeserved suffering comes to our children, the correct response of believing parents is to use God’s resources to stand by faith and leave the rest in His hands.[1]

 

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

Questions about Theology: What Is the Dispensation of Law?

 

While the Abrahamic Covenant continues and has not yet been completely fulfilled (even to this day), God changed course with His chosen people Israel at Mt. Sinai. God added the Law, and with it a new dispensation, which had a beginning and an ending (Romans 10:4).

The fifth dispensation is that of Law—Exodus 19:5 to John 19:30.

Stewards: Moses and the children of Israel as a nation at Mt. Sinai The Period: from Mt. Sinai until Christ Jesus fulfilled the Law with His death Responsibility: Keep the whole Law (Exodus 19:3–8) Failure: The Law was broken (2 Kings 17:7–20) Judgment: Worldwide dispersion (Deuteronomy 28:63–66; Luke 21:20–24) Grace: The promised Savior is sent (Isaiah 9:6–7; Galatians 4:4–5)

Israel was never to be saved by keeping the Law (Romans 3:20). The Law was meant to govern their earthly lives, to define sin, and to point to the coming Savior. Neither did the Law change the provisions of the Abrahamic Covenant.

The dispensation of Law is named after the Mosaic Law, called a “covenant” in Exodus 24:7–8; Deuteronomy 4:13; and Galatians 3:19. It was God’s only conditional covenant with Israel in that blessing and success depended upon the people’s obedience to the Law (Exodus 19:5). It did not take long for the Law to be broken, as proved by the golden calf in Exodus 32.

The Law was also a temporary covenant to be made null and void by the institution of the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:32; Hebrews 8:13; 10:9). The Law was added “because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come” (Galatians 3:19).

It is important to note that the Law of Moses was given only for the nation of Israel (Exodus 19:3–8; Deuteronomy 5:1–3; 4:8). Jesus made it clear that it was given to Israel and not the Gentiles (Mark 12:29–30). The apostle Paul said the Law was given to Israel and not the Church (Romans 2:14; 9:4–5; Ephesians 2:11–12). The dispensation of Law is over.

How unfortunate that Israel misinterpreted the purpose of the Law and sought a righteousness by good deeds and ceremonial ordinances rather than by God’s grace (Romans 9:31–10:3; Acts 15:1)! Because they were focused on attaining their own holiness, they rejected their Messiah (John 1:11).

Israel’s history from Mt. Sinai to the destruction of the temple in AD 70 was one long record of violating God’s Law. However, the Law was still fulfilled, as Jesus states, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17). Because of Jesus’ perfect fulfillment of the Law, we are saved through Him: “A man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified” (Galatians 2:16).[1]

 

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

Documentaries in understanding ISIS and Al Nusra (AL QAEDA)

The Domain for Truth

It is unfortunate that Al Qaeda affiliates in Syria and Iraq has achieved great strides pushing forth an imperalistic Islam upon other Muslims and Christians.  Its also unfortunate that many in the West don’t understand much of these two organizations, Al Nusra and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or better known as ISIS).  Apparently these two organizations aren’t getting along.

Here are two documentaries from earlier this year that gives a bit of perspective of  Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

The first is an incredible documentary by Vice who embedded with Al Nusra.

The second is the perspective of some who have quit the Free Syria Army and their encounter with ISIS.

It is frightening.  We need to be praying.

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Too many Christians are dismissing all Palestinians as terrorists. This is unfair & unbiblical. Meet a true Palestinian moderate: Salam Fayyad.

Joel C. Rosenberg's Blog

aspen-friedmanFayyadNOTE: I originally posted this column on July 9th, but I am reposting it because I am hoping more Christians will read and consider it. I’m concerned that far too many Christians who love Israel and the Jewish people are dismissing all Palestinians as terrorists and radicals and extremists. This is unfair and unbiblical. Indeed, there are true moderates among the Palestinians we need to get to know and appreciate and hear their perspective on what is happening.

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As I watch the on-going current crisis, I am deeply concerned for Israeli civilians, especially those who live in the south. But my also heart breaks for the Palestinians, especially those who live in Gaza.

Both sides are suffering. Both sides are feeling pain. And as a follower of Jesus Christ, I want to find ways that Christians can bless and care for and show compassion to both sides.

At the same time I admit I find myself asking…

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True Joy

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

21 “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. 22 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? ’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness. ’ 24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. (Matthew 7:21-25 ESV)

Genuine Christians should be seeking the joy…

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GRACE AND SIN

Samuel at Gilgal

sinnerFor all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23 ESV).

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:8-9 ESV)

We are all in need of forgiveness from God. We have all sinned. The just penalty for our sins is death. However, 1 John 1:9 holds forth the comforting promise of forgiveness and cleansing for all of us who have struggled with sin. Blessed is the man whose sins have been forgiven. He has received the foundation of all happiness. This is a gift from God. “Blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” (Romans 4:8 ESV)

You may hide your sins from others, but God sees…

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Miscellaneous Bible Questions: Was It Unfair for God to Allow Job to Suffer over What Was Basically an Argument between God and Satan?

 

A surface reading of the book of Job usually evokes a reaction such as “Why is God making a ‘bet’ with the devil? God is being unfair to Job!” If we are honest and not just trying to defend God, He seems at first like some kind of cosmic ogre. God not only wagered Satan over the outcome of Job’s trials, but He actually provoked the bet (Job 1–2). To make matters worse, Job never finds out why he was afflicted in the first place. This is very disturbing for those who hope to see God as just, gracious and loving and not just “playing” with us as if we were pawns on a chessboard. So, in a way, the story of Job puts God on trial. To really understand what is going on in Job, we need to evaluate how this “trial” is litigated in the book’s argument.

On the surface, when God finally “testifies” in Job 38–42, the way He “grills” Job may seem to suggest that God is “against” Job rather than “for” him. The God-speeches are notable for their deep sarcasm, as if God were simply highlighting Job’s cluelessness (Job 38–39). However, a deeper look reveals a more redemptive dynamic in this trial: first, Job’s friend Elihu actually serves under the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, both as Job’s advocate before God and God’s advocate before Job (Job 32–37); second, we find that God indeed did express His love to Job, both in His speeches (Job 38–41) and in finally vindicating Job. God confirms that Job had spoken “what was right” about Him, whereas his first three friends had not (42:7).

As Job and his friends debate God’s fairness, it becomes apparent that all of them basically believe in the doctrine of “retribution theology”—every act receives just punishment or reward in this present life, so we should be able to tell who is righteous or wicked by whether they are visibly blessed or cursed on earth. This is a false doctrine, but Job thought it should be true and went on the offensive, charging God with injustice and calling for a trial (Job 29–31). Surprisingly, God condescends and agrees to be put on trial. The speeches in Job 38–41 actually consist of God’s testimony in His own defense. In the “trial” we see that Job has no legal standing to convict God. Job cannot demonstrate how God runs the universe, so he cannot present any evidence of injustice (chapters 38–39). Also, God establishes His absolute right to act as He sees fit. As proof, He points to two creatures—behemoth and leviathan—that mankind has no control over whatsoever and that answer only to God.

Even before God shows up, Elihu makes the same points and argues that God is deeply redemptive in His dealings with man in spite of man’s notorious tendency toward self-destruction (32–37). Since God validates Elihu’s points (38–41), the adversarial tone in God’s answer to Job makes even more sense: throughout Job’s dialogue with his friends (4–27) and in his formal complaint to God (29–31), Job had assumed that God was unaware of what happened to him or that He was deliberately persecuting him or that Job had inadvertently sinned and God was not willing to tell him what the problem was. Job thought he was being punished entirely out of proportion to any conceivable offense he may have committed. In fact, Job questions God incessantly throughout the dialogue. His protest climaxes in a direct indictment of God on the charge of injustice (29–31).

So what did Job “get right” (42:7)? The upshot of the trial is that Job finally sees that God’s governance of the universe is much more wonderful than he could have imagined, and he openly concedes this (42:2–5); so this is what Job spoke about God that was “right” (42:7). Now, it is absolutely crucial to note the sequence of events at this point: it is only when Job obeys God and intercedes on behalf of his three friends—who had now become his enemies—that God actually blesses Job with a twofold inheritance (42:8–17). This “reward” was not at all some kind of “consolation prize” for Job’s unfair treatment; rather, it was the inheritance God promises to all who serve faithfully as redemptive agents of the Creator (cf. Daniel 12:3). Job obeyed God and was rewarded for his obedience.

In the end, God’s wager with Satan actually achieved an incredible coup: He harnessed evil and turned it to good (cf. Genesis 50:20), and He transformed Job into the most effective servant of all, one who took on God’s own redemptive character and loved his enemies. And this, in fact, is our take-home lesson from Job.[1]

 

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

Questions about the Holy Spirit: What Is the Spiritual Gift of Discerning Spirits?

 

The gift of discerning spirits, or “distinguishing” spirits, is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit described in 1 Corinthians 12:4–11. Like all these gifts, the gift of discerning spirits is one of the gifts believers are given by the Holy Spirit, who disperses these gifts to individuals for service in the body of Christ. Every believer has spiritual enablement and capacity for a specific service, but there is no room for self-choosing. The Spirit distributes spiritual gifts according to the sovereignty of God and in accordance with His plan to edify the body of Christ.

When it comes to the gift of discerning spirits, every born again believer has a certain amount of discernment which increases as the believer matures in the Spirit. In Hebrews 5:13–14 we read that a believer who has matured beyond using the milk of the Word as a babe in Christ is able to discern both good and evil. Not only is the maturing believer empowered by the Spirit of God through the Scriptures to tell the difference between good and evil, but also between what is good and what is better. In other words, any born again believer who chooses to focus upon the Word of God may be enabled to be spiritually discerning.

There are certain individuals, however, who have the God-given ability to distinguish between the truth of the Scriptures and erroneous and deceptive doctrines propagated by demons. Although we are all exhorted to be spiritually discerning (Acts 17:11; 1 John 4:1), some in the body of Christ have been given the unique ability to “spot” the forgeries in doctrine that have plagued the church since the first century. But this does not involve a mystical, extra-biblical revelation or a voice from God. Rather, the spiritually discerning among us are so familiar with the Word of God that they instantly recognize what is contrary to it. They do not receive special messages from God; they use the Word of God to “test the spirits” to see which line up with God and which are in opposition to Him. The spiritually discerning are those who “rightly divide” (2 Timothy 2:15) the Word of God in a thoughtful and diligent manner.

As the Apostle Paul writes, there may be diversities of equipping in the body of Christ, but those diversities are meant for the edification and building of that body as a whole. And the success of that body is dependent upon all parts of the body faithfully fulfilling their place in the body as God has enabled them. No spiritual gift should be used to “lord it over” others or claim for oneself a special anointing from God. Rather, the love of God is to be the basis of how we use our spiritual gifts to edify or build up each other in the Lord.[1]

 

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