Daily Archives: September 25, 2014

An open letter to every celebrity who becomes a Christian

Watch Your Life and Doctrine Closely...

MC-HAmmer

Dear Sir/Madam,

On behalf of your adopted family (namely all Christians worldwide), welcome to the family!  We rejoice, along with Heaven (Luke 15:7), that you’ve come to recognize the fact that you’ve previously lived a life of moral rebellion against God (i.e. “sin”) in thought and deed, renounced and turned from your previous life of sin, called out to Jesus to provide the righteousness you lack and save you from the coming and just wrath of God upon the sinful world, and are now trusting in the person and work of Christ to save you from your enslavement to sin, the coming consequences, impute his own righteousness to you and one day, raise you from the dead into a body fit to live forever more on paradise earth with the Trinity and all redeemed and resurrected believers.

We know you are excited about finding Jesus and coming to faith, and…

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Twenty Ways to Answer the Fool [6]

hipandthigh

I once again pay a visit to Chaz Bufe, the Christ-hating anarchist, and his 20 Reasons to Abandon Christianity.

This post brings us to Chaz’s 6th complaint against Christians, that Christianity breeds authoritarianism. I won’t provide his entire point because it is rather lengthy, but I will hit on some of the more salient thoughts Chaz provides:

6. Christianity breeds authoritarianism. Given that Christians claim to have the one true faith, to have a book that is the Word of God, and (in many cases) to receive guidance directly from God, they feel little or no compunction about using force and coercion to enforce “God’s Will” (which they, of course, interpret and understand). Given that they believe (or pretend) that they’re receiving orders from the Almighty (who would cast them into hell should they disobey), it’s little wonder that they feel no reluctance, and in fact are…

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Don’t Miss List: Meditation, Reformation and More

Steak and a Bible

How to Discern Between Biblical Meditation and the Unbiblical Kind

As new age meditation becomes commonplace in our culture it is imperative that we Christians understand the difference between what the Bible means when it says to meditate on God’s word and eastern and dangerous religious practices that are so popular today. Marsha West tackles meditation and what is biblical at Stand Up for the Truth.

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Thomas Schreiner on Theonomy

airō

theonomy

The last article on the subject of God’s Law served to be an introductory article to the series, providing a list of resources examining the manifestation of God’s Law under the Old and New Covenants. The primary purpose of this series is to study the definition and application of God’s Law for the Christian under the New Covenant. An important and controversial issue when addressing this topic is the Christian’s relationship to the Mosaic law. A subtopic of that issue is the discussion of theonomy, which suggests Gentile nations are required to pattern their governments after the civil aspects of the Mosaic law.

Obviously, this is a monster of a subject to be tackled in one or two articles, much less through endless and oftentimes futile discussions on social media. Massive volumes of books have been written on the subject. But as time allows, I will share my thoughts on…

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Questions about Apologetics and Worldview: Why Should I Believe in God?

 

Belief in God is the most basic of all human considerations. Acknowledgement of one’s Creator is foundational to learning any more about Him. Without believing in God, it is impossible to please Him or even come to Him (Hebrews 11:6). People are surrounded with proof of God’s existence, and it is only through the hardening of sin that men reject that proof (Romans 1:18–23). It is foolish to disbelieve in God (Psalm 14:1).

There are two choices in life. First, we have the choice to trust in man’s limited reason. Man’s reason has produced various philosophies, the many world religions and “isms,” different cults, and other ideas and worldviews. A key characteristic of man’s reason is that it does not last, for man himself is not lasting. It is also limited by man’s finite knowledge; we are not as wise as we think we are (1 Corinthians 1:20). Man’s reason starts with himself and ends with himself. Man lives in Time’s box with no way out. Man is born, grows to maturity, makes his impact on the world, and eventually dies. That is it for him, naturally speaking. The choice to live by reason leaves one weighed in the balance and found wanting. If a person objectively thinks about such a lifestyle, it should cause him to consider the second choice.

The second choice we have is to accept God’s revelation in the Bible. To “lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). Of course, to accept that the Bible is from God, one must acknowledge God. Belief in the God of the Bible does not negate the use of reason; rather, it is when we seek God that He opens our eyes (Psalm 119:18), enlightens our understanding (Ephesians 1:18), and grants us wisdom (Proverbs 8).

Belief in God is bolstered by the evidence of God’s existence that is readily available. All creation bears silent witness to the fact of a Creator (Psalm 19:1–4). God’s book, the Bible, establishes its own validity and historical accuracy. For example, consider one Old Testament prophecy concerning Christ’s first coming. Micah 5:2 states that Christ would be born in Bethlehem of Judea. Micah gave his prophecy around 700 BC. Where was Christ born seven centuries later? He was born in Bethlehem of Judea, just as Micah had predicted (Luke 2:1–20; Matthew 2:1–12).

Peter Stoner, in Science Speaks (p. 100–107), has shown that coincidence in prophetic Scripture is ruled out by the science of probability. By using the laws of probability in reference to eight prophecies concerning Christ, Stoner found that the chance that any man would fulfill all eight prophecies is 1 in 10 to the 17th power. That would be 1 chance in 100,000,000,000,000,000. And that is only considering eight prophecies; Jesus fulfilled many more. There is no doubt that the Bible’s accuracy and reliability are substantiated by prophecy.

Reading the Bible, we discover that God is eternal, holy, personal, gracious, and loving. God has broken open Time’s box through the Incarnation of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. God’s loving action does not impinge on man’s reason but provides enlightenment for man’s reason so he can begin to understand that he needs forgiveness and eternal life through the Son of God.

Sure, one can reject the God of the Bible, and many do. Men can reject what Jesus Christ has done for them. To reject Christ is to reject God (John 10:30). What will it be for you? Will you live by man’s limited, faulty reason? Or will you acknowledge your Creator and accept God’s revelation in the Bible? “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones” (Proverbs 3:7–8).[1]

 

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

Questions about Eternity: Is the Idea of Seven Heavens / the Seventh Heaven Biblical?

 

The phrase “in seventh heaven” means to experience great joy or contentment. The expression also implies that there are seven heavens to be had, which is a common teaching among several religions.

Two of the oldest religions that teach seven heavens are Hinduism and the ancient Babylonian cult. In Hinduism, there are seven higher worlds and seven lower worlds; the earth is the lowest higher world. The six higher worlds above us are places of increasing wonder and delight where people who have accumulated good karma go after they die. When the dead have spent all the time their good deeds have earned them, they are reincarnated and return to earth. Those who live extraordinarily pious lives can break out of this cycle and experience Nirvana, a state of eternal existence.

The ancient Babylonians did not teach that the seven heavens were for humans. Rather, they divided the different heavens into seven levels of space between the earth’s atmosphere and the spirit of the heavens; beyond was the Zodiac. Each of the seven heavens was associated with a particular god and a celestial body: the moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, the sun, Jupiter, and Saturn.

Historians aren’t sure when the Jews first learned of Babylon’s seven heavens; Abraham might have been exposed to such a belief before he left Ur, or Hebrew scholars may have learned of it while exiled to Babylon. Either way, rabbis adapted the myth, integrating it into the Talmud—their extra-scriptural writings. The Jewish “heavens,” associated with the same celestial bodies, contain a mix of people, angels, demons, Nephilim, and natural phenomenon, the specifics changing with the teacher. As the astronomical and meteorological sciences have advanced, Jews have rejected a literal seven heavens and now see them as metaphorical—there’s no way hail could come to earth from Jupiter, after all.

Islam combines the seven heavens of Judaism with a story from Zoroastrianism. Hadith literature tells how Muhammad was taken on a journey through all seven heavens. In each heaven he met a character from the Bible or another prophet of Islam. Centuries before, the Zoroastrian priest Arta Viraf supposedly made a similar trip to heaven. In Islam and Zoroastrianism both, the heavens are levels of paradise reserved for increasingly devout worshipers.

Dante Alighieri combined Babylonian mythology with Christian metaphor when he wrote The Divine Comedy. In Dante’s epic poem, the seven celestial bodies represent ever more virtuous natures. Above these heavens, in which the righteous are rewarded after death, are four more levels. The last is Empyrean, the immaterial dwelling place of God.

The Bible says nothing that would validate a belief in seven heavens, but the word heaven itself has several meanings. The Hebrew for “heaven,” shamayim, only appears in the plural form and can mean “sky” (Genesis 1:8–9), “outer space” (Genesis 22:17), or “the place where God dwells” (Joshua 2:11). In the New Testament, the Greek ouranos can mean “the dwelling place of God” (Matthew 12:50) or “the sky” (Acts 10:11). And paradeisos (“paradise” or “garden”) can refer to the place where dead believers await resurrection (Luke 23:43), to where God dwells now (2 Corinthians 12:4), or to our eternal home (Revelation 2:7).

In 2 Corinthians 12:2 Paul says he knew a man (assumed to be himself—he is speaking in the third person) who went to the “third heaven.” The “third heaven” here simply means the spiritual dwelling of God, as opposed to the other two “heavens,” the atmosphere and outer space. The three “heavens” implied in 2 Corinthians 12:2 would be the terrestrial, telestial, and celestial.

In our vernacular, “seventh heaven” means “the best, happiest place to be,” but the Bible doesn’t give any indication that a seventh heaven actually exists. God promises He will not always live above us, but He will live with us in the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21). And although we will receive rewards according to our works (Revelation 22:12), the Bible never suggests that we’ll be segregated from each other.[1]

 

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

Questions about Christianity: Who Are the Free Will Baptists, and What Do They Believe?

 

The Free Will Baptists are one of many denominations within the widely varied Baptist realm. They are organized under the National Association of Free Will Baptists, or NAFWB, an association of autonomous local churches in regional, state, and national fellowships. Each church is governed in a congregational style, meaning the entire membership votes democratically on nearly all decisions the church makes.

As their name indicates, Free Will Baptists teach a strong Arminian theology, which holds neither to predestination nor to an unconditional assurance of the perseverance of believers in their faith. As Baptists, they believe in believer’s baptism by immersion. Their understanding of God, the Trinity, salvation, and the Bible are all congruent with common Protestant teachings. One distinctive in the practice of all NAFWB churches is that they practice foot washing as a required ordinance of the church, alongside baptism and communion.

Aside from their practice of foot washing, Freewill Baptist churches represent fairly standard, conservative Baptist churches, with an Arminian point of view.[1]

 

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

Christian Authenticity – Fulfilling the Law Through Love

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

8 Μηδενὶ μηδὲν ὀφείλετε εἰ μὴ τὸ ἀλλήλους ἀγαπᾶν· ὁ γὰρ ἀγαπῶν τὸν ἕτερον νόμον πεπλήρωκεν. 9 τὸ γὰρ οὐ μοιχεύσεις, οὐ φονεύσεις, οὐ κλέψεις, οὐκ ἐπιθυμήσεις, καὶ εἴ τις ἑτέρα ἐντολή, ἐν τῷ λόγῳ τούτῳ ἀνακεφαλαιοῦται [ἐν τῷ] · ἀγαπήσεις τὸν πλησίον σου ὡς σεαυτόν. 10 ἡ ἀγάπη τῷ πλησίον κακὸν οὐκ ἐργάζεται· πλήρωμα οὖν νόμου ἡ ἀγάπη. 11 Καὶ τοῦτο εἰδότες τὸν καιρόν, ὅτι ὥρα ἤδη ὑμᾶς ἐξ ὕπνου ἐγερθῆναι, νῦν γὰρ ἐγγύτερον ἡμῶν ἡ σωτηρία ἢ ὅτε ἐπιστεύσαμεν. 12 ἡ νὺξ προέκοψεν, ἡ δὲ ἡμέρα ἤγγικεν. ἀποθώμεθα οὖν τὰ ἔργα τοῦ σκότους, ἐνδυσώμεθα [δὲ] τὰ ὅπλα τοῦ φωτός. 13 ὡς ἐν ἡμέρᾳ εὐσχημόνως περιπατήσωμεν, μὴ κώμοις καὶ μέθαις, μὴ κοίταις καὶ ἀσελγείαις, μὴ ἔριδι καὶ ζήλῳ, 14 ἀλλʼ ἐνδύσασθε τὸν κύριον Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν καὶ τῆς σαρκὸς πρόνοιαν μὴ ποιεῖσθε εἰς ἐπιθυμίας. (Romans 13:8-14 NA28)

8 Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another…

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