Daily Archives: August 22, 2014

Monergism opens free Reformed Christian ebook store!

A Twisted Crown of Thorns ®

For some this may not be new but I just want to repost this bit of information. The website Monergism is a good site to get free ebooks of invaluable wealth especially if you would like books on evangelism, basic Christianity, biographies and Reformed Theology. Check the link here.

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Questions about Eternity: What Is the Worm that Will Not Die in Mark 9:48?

 

Jerusalem’s ancient garbage dump—a place called Gehenna—was illustrative of the ceaseless agonies of hell. This dump was on the south side of Jerusalem. In Old Testament times, children had been sacrificed to idols there (2 Kings 23:10); in Jesus’ day, it was a place burning with constant fires to consume the waste that was thrown there. The material burned there included everything from household trash to animal carcasses to convicted criminals (Jeremiah 7:31–33). Needless to say, the Jews considered Gehenna a cursed place of impurity and uncleanness.

The word translated “hell” in Mark 9:43 is the Greek word Gehenna, which comes from the Hebrew name for a place called the “Valley of Hinnom.” Jesus uses this place to paint a vivid image of what hell is like. The Jewish people often associated the Valley of Hinnom with spiritual death.

In Mark 9:48, when Jesus says, “Where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched” (ESV), He is quoting from Isaiah 66:24: “They will go out and look on the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; the worms that eat them will not die, the fire that burns them will not be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.” In both texts the word translated as “worm” literally means “grub” or “maggot.” A maggot would have an obvious association with a dump like Gehenna where dead bodies are thrown; however, the maggot Christ speaks of “will not die.”

Taken at face value, this text is one of the most horrific descriptions of what hell is like. The thought of eternal torment, likened to maggots eating away at a rotting corpse, is undoubtedly ghastly. Hell is so awful that Christ said, figuratively speaking, it’s better to cut off the hand that causes you to sin than to end up in hell (Matthew 5:30).

Mark 9:48 does not mean that there are literal worms in hell or that there are worms that live forever; rather, Jesus is teaching the fact of unending suffering in hell—the “worm” never stops causing torment. Notice that the worm is personal. Both Isaiah 66:24 and Mark 9:48 use the word their to identify the worm’s owner. The sources of torment are attached each to its own host.

Some Bible scholars believe the “worm” refers to a man’s conscience. Those in hell, being completely cut off from God, exist with a nagging, guilty conscience that, like a persistent worm, gnaws away at its victim with a remorse that can never be mitigated. No matter what the word worm refers to, the most important thing to be gained from these words of Christ is that we should do everything in our power to escape the horrors of hell, and there is only one thing to that end—receiving Jesus as the Lord of our lives (John 3:16).[1]

 

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

Questions about Christianity: What Is the International Church of Christ (ICOC), and What Do They Believe?

 

The International Churches of Christ (ICOC) is a spin-off from the Churches of Christ; both groups are non-denominational, worldwide associations of churches and part of the Restoration Movement. The ICOC has a network of over 600 non-denominational churches in about 160 countries. The International Churches of Christ was formerly referred to as the ICC.

The International Churches of Christ has a number of distinctives. One is a strong emphasis on discipleship; however, “discipleship” in the ICOC looks very different from what most other churches practice. The ICOC consistently uses high-pressure manipulation to bring new disciples into their fellowship. Once a member is acquired, he is set up in a “buddy system” of discipleship. The neophyte is indoctrinated to believe that only the International Churches of Christ has a true understanding of the Bible and the gospel. The “disciple” is encouraged to imitate the whole life of his “discipler.” The disciple must meet with the discipler at least weekly, have daily contact, and make no major decision without checking with him or her. Disciples are told where to live, whom to date, what courses to take in school, how often to have sex with their spouses, and so on. Individuals must not question their leaders. Such requirements are often made by those who practice heavy shepherding.

Another distinctive is that the International Churches of Christ focuses its evangelism almost exclusively on college students. This fits well with the ICOC’s preferred method of “love-bombing”—suddenly and purposefully surrounding a person with high amounts of friendly contact, various forms of aid, and an overall sense of being immersed in a community—something first-year college students especially crave. While none of these things are unbiblical (indeed, community, service, and friendliness are all excellent aims for Christians), the International Churches of Christ uses these virtues as a façade and manipulative tool to increase membership.

Theologically, the International Church of Christ holds to the basic tenets of Protestant evangelicalism, but with two very important exceptions. First, the group is exclusivist, claiming that the church is meant to be united in one association, divided only by geography. It teaches that any church that remains outside of this unified system, i.e., not under the ICOC’s leadership, is not a part of the “true church.” Such claims of exclusivity should raise a red flag. Any church or denomination that claims to be the “one true church” and that all others are false churches is itself teaching falsehood.

The International Churches of Christ also departs from biblical teaching in its teaching of baptismal regeneration, the belief that baptism is required for salvation. The ICOC believes that anyone who is not baptized is not saved and must be “evangelized” and brought into the church. Further, the ICOC teaches that baptism under the auspices of the ICOC is the only baptism that can save. No other baptism will do. The Bible, on the other hand, teaches that salvation is by grace through faith, apart from works (Ephesians 2:8–9)—including the work of baptism.

Other problems with ICOC theology include their rejection of eternal security and their amillennial perspective of the end times.

The International Churches of Christ has a strict and invasive power structure that uses manipulation and indoctrination to control its membership. Many people have been hurt by this group emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. Because of its manipulative practices and errant view of salvation, we must caution against becoming involved in the International Churches of Christ.

If you have been negatively affected by the International Churches of Christ or another manipulative group claiming to be Christian, we encourage you to seek healing, firm in the knowledge that, even though God’s name may have been used to hurt you, God Himself is loving and able heal those who have been spiritually abused.[1]

 

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

Counseling Related Questions: Is Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) Compatible with the Christian Faith?

 

Neuro-linguistic programming is most often characterized as a form of psychotherapy that can be used to modify behavior patterns and treat problems such as phobias, depression, learning disorders, and the like. It has also been classified as a quasi-religion belonging to the New Age or Human Potential Movements. However, NLP can also be covert, and it is the hidden nature of this technique that leads to disquieting applications.

Specifically, NLP is a form of vocal and gestural hypnotism that is used by some public speakers—politicians, for example. In such a context, NLP is used to psychologically manipulate the listener without his or her knowledge. Most likely, some form of neuro-linguistic programming has been used on people throughout history. NLP leverages factors such as tone of voice, vocal modulation, pacing, leading, and anchoring to implant a suggestion directly into the subconscious, bypassing the critical thinking factors of the conscious mind. Some speakers use a teleprompter rather than written notes or memorization, because such technology can help cue the user’s speech patterns, timing, hand gestures, etc., in addition to the content.

The “effectiveness” and “success” of NLP comes from the practitioner’s ability to implant suggestions directly into the recipient’s subconscious mind. The subconscious does not make value or truth-claim judgments on its own; it relies upon the critical and logical thought of the conscious mind to reject false or inappropriate ideas or suggestions. A person will believe the ideas thus passed into the subconscious so strongly that he or she will experience cognitive dissonance if the ideas are questioned, causing anger, fear, or even violence.

This type of hypnosis, covert or not, is incompatible with the Christian faith. We don’t need hypnosis or any kind of pseudoscientific behavioral modifications. Our behavior is modified progressively as we become sanctified in Christ. In addition, Christians ought to carefully compare the things we hear and see with the truth of God’s Word. We are told in 2 Corinthians 10:4–5, “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Our thoughts are thus seen as something we need to conquer with spiritual weapons.

At all times, Christians ought to protect themselves by thinking about “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable …” (Philippians 4:8). Believers are to rely upon God for all things, including behavioral modification.[1]

 

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

Not just aborting babies with Down’s syndrome – Dawkins supports infanticide

WINTERY KNIGHT

Listen up you atheists, the Pope has spoken Listen up you atheists, the Pope has spoken

The UK Telegraph reports on the latest Dawkins blunder.

Excerpt:

Richard Dawkins, the atheist writer, has claimed it is “immoral” to allow unborn babies with Down’s syndrome to live.

The Oxford professor posted a message on Twitter saying would-be parents who learn their child has the condition have an ethical responsibility to “abort it and try again”.

His comments were dismissed by charities and prompted fury online from opponents but he insisted his stance was “very civilised” because foetuses do not have “human feelings”.

He claimed that the important question in the abortion debate is not “is it ‘human’?” but “can it suffer?” and insisted that people have no right to object to abortion if they eat meat.

[…]Anti-abortion campaigners describe the practice of aborting foetuses on physical grounds as a form of “eugenics”.

But Prof Dawkins strongly defended its as simply…

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109,631,000 Americans collect welfare, more than full-time year-round workers

WINTERY KNIGHT

From CNS News.

Excerpt:

109,631,000 Americans lived in households that received benefits from one or more federally funded “means-tested programs” — also known as welfare — as of the fourth quarter of 2012, according to data released Tuesday by the Census Bureau.

The Census Bureau has not yet reported how many were on welfare in 2013 or the first two quarters of 2014.

But the 109,631,000 living in households taking federal welfare benefits as of the end of 2012, according to the Census Bureau, equaled 35.4 percent of all 309,467,000 people living in the United States at that time.

[…]What did taxpayers give to the 109,631,000 — the 35.4 percent of the nation — getting welfare benefits at the end of 2012?

82,679,000 of the welfare-takers lived in households where people were on Medicaid, said the Census Bureau. 51,471,000 were in households on food stamps. 22,526,000 were in the…

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