September 29, 2015 Christian Briefing Report

September 28 Quotes


The Most Invisible Christians in Washington

“The world has watched and witnessed the targeted persecution of Christians, suffering violence, displacement, rape, enslavement, and even death,” said Kirsten Evans, executive director of IDC. “Do these crimes constitute genocide under international law, and if so, what the so what are the options the international community has in order to respond?”

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Postmodernism: A Cautionary Tale

“The challenge of a growing suspicion toward metanarratives is that Christianity is unavoidably a metanarrative. Christianity is the one story that rules them all. It is the one narrative that explains mankind’s origins, miseries, death and ultimate destiny. Our faith testifies to an ontological and metaphysical reality that applies to all men – past, present and future.”

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The Desire To Be Desired

“The only way out of this bondage is fairly well known: desire being desired less, and desire God more. To desire less is done through confession and repentance. What could you confess? Narcissism, self-worship, fear of aloneness, a conviction that God is not so good—when possible, reach for something that is ruthlessly accurate.”

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Is Capitalism UnChristian?

“The engine of capitalism is the God-given drive, ability, and responsibility to create, to innovate, to conquer and subdue. When humans make something out of nothing, or when we make the same something more efficiently, we show forth the image of God in us.”

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Germany’s Coming Demographic Revolution

Even as Germany has introduced “temporary” border controls in the past few days, the estimates for the actual number of migrants expected continues to grow. Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel now tells his party that, “There are many indications that in this year we will not see 800,000 refugees, as predicted, but a million.”

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Evangelicals Won’t Cave

The first stumbling block to any Evangelical cave-in is the Bible. Evangelicals are not “fundamentalists” in the way many have come to use the term—characterized by uniformity on secondary or tertiary doctrines along with a fighting sectarian spirit. But conservative Evangelicals are—and always have been—“fundamentalists” in the original meaning of the term, within the context of the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy of the early twentieth century.

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Why “Strategic Ministry” Makes Me Deeply Uncomfortable

“It is easy for Christians to find themselves thinking that if only we could get a sports star, or celebrity, or high-profile leader converted, then it would be a great coup for the gospel. Such people, by virtue of their position, are deemed to be more strategically valuable than others, and so resources are apportioned accordingly.”

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What Is a Christian’s Responsibility to Government?

“We are told to bend over backwards to honor the king or be obedient to the civil magistrates. That doesn’t mean a slavish obedience to the civil magistrates. There are occasions on which Christians not only may but must disobey the civil magistrates.”

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Victims Blow Whistle on US Religious Persecution

Victims Blow Whistle on US Religious Persecution

Posted on September 29, 2015 by CBN

This past weekend at the same hotel where the Values Voter Summit was happening, an alarm was sounding about the flood of attacks on religious liberty across the country.

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“YELLING IS EFFECTIVE!” Said No One Ever…

Posted on September 29, 2015 by Crosswalk

How should a follower of Christ engage in the political discourse?

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10 Steps to Immediate Church Renewal (That Most Churches Won't Take)

10 Steps to Immediate Church Renewal (That Most Churches Won’t Take)

Posted on September 29, 2015 by Crosswalk

What if I gave you a list of ten things that any church could do that would bring almost immediate renewal and growth. Would you be interested in the list? Most would be.

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#BadEvangelism: How not to do your Twitter bio

#BadEvangelism: How not to do your Twitter bio

Posted on September 29, 2015 by Christian Today

In a bid to prove we can be cool and #relevant, Christians are all over Twitter. The thing is, not everyone’s quite got the hang of it…

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John Piper Says Hollywood Makes Sex Sinful, but It Isn't

John Piper Says Hollywood Makes Sex Sinful, but It Isn’t

Posted on September 29, 2015 by Christian Post

The portrayal of sex by Hollywood might lead many to believe that sex is sinful and that it undermines the beauty of Christ’s holiness, but Christians should not think this way, says theologian John Piper in his latest blog post, which states that sex in marriage belongs to Believers.

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Thousands of Christian Counselors Gather in Nashville to Discuss 'Epidemic' of Suicide in Church, Race and Refugees

Thousands of Christian Counselors Gather in Nashville to Discuss ‘Epidemic’ of Suicide in Church, Race and Refugees

Posted on September 29, 2015 by Christian Post

Close to 7,000 Christian counselors and other mental health professionals have gathered for a three-day meeting in Nashville to discuss the &epidemic& of suicide in the church and other contentious issues, such as race and refugees.

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PCUSA Appoints First-Ever Openly Gay Executive Director to Legally Embattled Mission Agency

PCUSA Appoints First-Ever Openly Gay Executive Director to Legally Embattled Mission Agency

Posted on September 29, 2015 by Christian Post

The largest Presbyterian denomination in the United States has for the first time appointed an openly gay individual to serve as interim executive director for one of its agencies.

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How to deal with suffering when pat answers aren't enough

How to deal with suffering when pat answers aren’t enough

Posted on September 29, 2015 by Christian Today

Harry Farley tackles the question of suffering, and how to reconcile the existence of evil with an all-loving God.

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Brave new world: Obama says gay rights trump religious liberty

Brave new world: Obama says gay rights trump religious liberty

Christian Examiner reports:

Freedom of Thought Ben FranklinShould gay rights come into conflict with religious belief, religious liberty will lose, President Barack Obama told an audience of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender activists at the Democrat National Committees annual LGBT Gala in New York Sept. 27.

“We affirm that we cherish our religious freedom and are profoundly respectful of religious traditions,” Obama said. “But we also have to say clearly that our religious freedom doesn’t grant us the freedom to deny our fellow Americans their constitutional rights.”

http://www.christianexaminer.com/article/brave.new.world.obama.says.gay.rights.trump.religious.liberty/49582.htm


On Sunday Obama Warned Christians That LGBT Rights Will Triumph Over Religious Freedom

As Pope Francis flew back to Rome, President Obama issued a stern warning to Christians, warning them their attempts to assert their religious liberty to oppose gay rights would fail.

“And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the LORD will not hear you in that day.” 1 Samuel 8:18 (KJV)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Obama’s war on Christianity continues unabated and with a newly-discovered sense of purpose and fervor. That Obama is not a Christian is painfully obvious to even the most casual observer. At every possible turn, he supports, funds and fosters legislation that spits in the face of the God of Abraham and the Holy Bible. Never in the history of America has there ever a been a president who was as anti-Christian as this president. This man is the very judgement of God upon us for rejecting Him as a nation, and as such, God has given us the king that we deserve. 

“We affirm that we cherish our religious freedom and are profoundly respectful of religious traditions,” he insisted during a dramatic speech at a LGTB fundraiser in New York City on Sunday night, praising the progress made on gay rights under his administration. “But we also have to say clearly that our religious freedom doesn’t grant us the freedom to deny our fellow Americans their constitutional rights.”

The fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee was specifically billed as an “LGBT gala” held in New York City in coordination with Obama’s trip to the United Nations Assembly.

The fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee was specifically billed as an “LGBT gala” held in New York City in coordination with Obama’s trip to the United Nations Assembly.

During his speech, Obama asserted that his administration was respecting what he described as “genuine concerns” of religious institutions but suggested that Republicans were using the issue just to earn more votes, as they did in 2004.

“America has left the leaders of the Republican Party behind,” he declared proudly.

He ridiculed Ben Carson for suggesting that “prison turns you gay” and added that another Republican candidate had boasted of his introduction of a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, likely referring to Sen.

Alluding to Gov. Mike Huckabee, Obama mocked a candidate who said that “Americans should just disobey the Supreme Court’s ruling entirely.”

“I’m sure he loves the Constitution — except for Article III,” Obama said mockingly. “And maybe the Equal Protection Amendment. And 14th Amendment, generally.”

Debbie Wasserman Shultz was in attendance at the fundraiser, and Star Trek’s George Takei also was expected to attend.

Obama proudly told the audience that he would not back down in his efforts to make progress for the LGBT community, and called for all of them to remain vigilant to hold the line on important legal gains in the country.

“What makes America special is, is that though sometimes we zig and zag, eventually hope wins out,” he said. “But it only wins out because folks like you put your shoulder behind the wheel and push it in that direction.” source


From Antichrist to Brother in Christ: How Protestant Pastors View the Pope

This is stunning news in light of the fact that the apostate Roman Catholic Church teaches that Salvation is found in the Roman Catholic Church alone.  Any person who’s not a Catholic is considered anathema — condemned to hell.  Here is the RCC’s official stance: OUTSIDE THE CHURCH THERE IS NO SALVATION, – …it means that […]

The post From Antichrist to Brother in Christ: How Protestant Pastors View the Pope appeared first on Berean Research.


Why Evangelicals and Catholics Cannot be “Together”

Jordan Standridge of The Cripplegate covers the many reasons evangelicals must not unit with the apostate Roman Catholic Church (RCC) even though some of our leaders are doing everything in their power to bring evangelicals and Catholics together under one big tent. Think: Rick Warren, who seems to have forgotten about the Protestant Reformation. But, thankfully, […]

The post Why Evangelicals and Catholics Cannot be “Together” appeared first on Berean Research.


Pope’s speech troubling, Southern Baptists say

Some high profile Baptists, including Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Russell Moore of  the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, had a lot to say about a Roman Catholic pope’s address to Congress….as a pastor, by the way, not as a political leader.   Mohler makes an excellent point: “Well, let’s just state […]

The post Pope’s speech troubling, Southern Baptists say appeared first on Berean Research.


Pope praises contemplative pioneer Thomas Merton before Congress

For those who missed it, Pope Francis gave high praise to a Trappist Monk who had an affinity for unbiblical contemplative prayer. John Lanagan of My Word Like Fire has the report: This is how it seems to be going: People are being encouraged into contemplative prayer by men and women such as Rick Warren, […]

The post Pope praises contemplative pioneer Thomas Merton before Congress appeared first on Berean Research.


Tim Challies reviews “Eve” written by the author of “The Shack”

On the positive side, I think [William] Paul Young has become a markedly better writer since The Shack. On the negative side, he continues to use his writing to undermine and redefine Christian theology. By my reckoning, that’s a net loss. Where The Shack was meant to revolutionize our understanding of God, his new novel […]

The post Tim Challies reviews “Eve” written by the author of “The Shack” appeared first on Berean Research.


Climate Change, Planned Parenthood and Witch Doctors

Lee Duigon, contributing editor with the Chalcedon Foundation, draws some apt comparisons between liberals and witch doctors. Here’s Lee’s piece: If someone has to die, in order for you to get what you want, are you okay with that? If that someone is only “fetal tissue,” well, that’s how progress is made in medicine, as […]

The post Climate Change, Planned Parenthood and Witch Doctors appeared first on Berean Research.


Phyllis Tickle, who championed a church paradigm shift, is dead

It was lung cancer.  Sadly, the emergent-New Ager clung to her teachings that Christendom must evolve. She frequently appeared with Brian McLaren, Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt and those of other faiths to ring in a new era in the modern Church.  (See “Emerging Towards Convergence”) Tickle believed that throughout history, the Christian Church evolves every […]

The post Phyllis Tickle, who championed a church paradigm shift, is dead appeared first on Berean Research.


Transgendered Catholic meets Pope at the White House

Did you ever imagine a headline like this? The celebration of sin at our own White House, with our president and the so-called “Holy Father” is stunning to those of us who know what the Bible teaches. See Marsha West’s article, “GLAAD-handing: Obama invites gay rights activists to meet Pope Francis“. With that as the […]

The post Transgendered Catholic meets Pope at the White House appeared first on Berean Research.


ISIS is planning to target Europe, intelligence officials say

Christian Today reports:

ISIS is developing a foreign policy to strengthen its influence abroad, including carefully planned attacks in Europe, intelligence officials have said.

Islamic State has, until now, focused on perpetuating sectarian violence on its neighbours and minority groups such as Christians, Yazidis and Shia Muslims. The new assessment suggests the organisation is looking beyond its borders, in keeping with its pretension of being a state according to the Financial Times.

http://www.christiantoday.com/article/isis.is.planning.to.target.europe.intelligence.officials.say/65992.htm


When Will the Gospel Be Preached in All the World?

Therefore, we must ask the question, “When will the gospel be preached to all the world?” We ask because those of us who hold to the pre-mil, pre-trib position of the end times routinely preach that there are no prophecies yet to be fulfilled before Jesus comes to take His church out of the world. Since He said the gospel would be preached to the world before He comes, how does that fit?

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The Church Christ Loved

I realize that this is a bold claim here, but it is this writer’s belief, that Dispensationalism saved Evangelical Christianity and extended its stay for another 185 years in the West. Dispensational thought opened up for the first time in millennia, an explosion of new understanding by reconciling all of God’s word in perfect harmony. This wasn’t new revelation as many critics charge Dispensationalism with (i.e…the old and debunked Margaret MacDonald accusation), but by new illumination, by way of rightly dividing the Word that has always been there.

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Attempts to Blend Christianity with Other Religions

by Maria Kneas, 9/13/15 LT Publishing

Numerous attempts have been made to blend Christianity with other religions on a world-wide scale. You can read about them in Carl Teichrib’s article “Unveiling the Global Interfaith Agenda.” There are also other attempts to merge Christianity with different religions. For example, Chrislam tries to combine Christianity with Islam. There are people who call themselves Christian witches (i.e., combining Christianity with Wicca). There are attempts to mix Christianity with Hinduism, and with Buddhism, and with Shamanism. (A shaman is a Native American medicine man.) Some people claim to be Christian witch doctors or Christian sorcerers. You can even buy a book about Christian Voodoo. Nominal Christians are people who are Christians in name only. They call themselves Christians, but they really aren’t. They don’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ, they ignore or deny foundational Christian doctrines, and they don’t try to live the way God has instructed us as described in the Bible. Such people can fit in with other religions. However, born-again Christians aren’t able to do that because they have God’s Spirit living inside them Who convicts them of sin and enables them to trust and obey the Lord. And because God is living inside them, He gives them the grace and strength to abide in Him. Simply put, biblical Christianity cannot mix with other religions.

Click here to read this article! 

 

The New Age Desire versus God’s Desire
by Ray Yungen, 9/14/15 LT Publishing

What it comes down to is the preaching of the higher self versus the preaching of the Cross. The New Age is saying that God is the higher self in man-that God is just a meditation away.
 

Click here to read this article!

The political author, Joel Rosenberg, said on his blog on August 27, 2015, the following: “From mass shooters… to the genocidal acts of the Islamic State… to the unchallenged rise of a nuclear Iran… to the Planned Parenthood videos about the selling of baby hearts and lungs and livers over a salad and Chardonnay… to corrupt governments and corrupt leaders… to rampant marital unfaithfulness… to an epidemic of suicide and drug use… to the persecution and slavery of people all over the world… to so many other horrifying acts, it is easy these days to feel deeply discouraged and even depressed.”…
 

WVW-TV Presents: How Muslims Forced The Pact of Omar on Jews & Christians in Egypt & What That Means For Religious Liberty

WVW-TV Presents: How Muslims Forced The Pact of Omar on Jews & Christians in Egypt & What That Means For Religious Liberty. Watch this program now before it rolls into the Situation Room for members only.
 


The Principal Acts Of Saving Faith

the principal acts of saving faith are accepting, receiving, and resting upon Christ alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the covenant of grace. —Westminster Confession of Faith 14.2

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Machen: Salvation Through Faith vs. Salvation Through Love

To say that our faith saves us means that we do not save ourselves even in the slightest measure. Very different would be the case if our salvation was said to be through love…. J. Gresham Machen, What Is Faith? (1946), 173–4.

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Heidelcast 97: A Secular Faith With Darryl Hart

Evangelical involvement in politics has perhaps never been more intense. The George W. Bush administration had an office of faith-based initiatives. The Obama administration continues to hold prayer breakfasts and regularly invokes the Christian faith when it serves favored policy goals. The national media cover the scandals of evangelical leaders because those evangelicals have political […]

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Deceptive Advertising in Christianity

Every church and ministry has one; but it may not be what it seems to be.  We’re talking about “Statements of Faith” or “What We Believe” professions for organizations professing Christianity. Virtually every Christian church or ministry will state “We believe the Word of God is eternal truth”…yet some of these organizations approve of homosexuality, […]

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From Antichrist to Brother in Christ: How Protestant Pastors View the Pope

From Berean Research:

Galatians 1:8-9This is stunning news in light of the fact that the apostate Roman Catholic Church teaches that Salvation is found in the Roman Catholic Church alone. Any person who’s not a Catholic is considered anathema — condemned to hell. Here is the RCC’s official stance:

OUTSIDE THE CHURCH THERE IS NO SALVATION, – …it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body: – Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation. C of the C C 846

It is in the Church that the fullness of the means of salvation has been deposited. C of the C C 824

(Hat tip Jason Standridge/Why Evangelicals and Catholics Cannot be “Together”)

Obviously the pastors who believe the Pope is their brother in Christ have no clue what the head of the RCC believes about them — unless they join the RCC, they’ll spend eternity in hell. And this includes high profile evangelical pastors, including Rick Warren, T.D. Jakes and Joel Osteen, who “expressed their excitement and support for the papal pomp and circumstance.” Many pastors, including our so-called leaders, seem to have forgotten that the Protestant Reformation was named for protesting Roman Catholicism!

What the survey reveals is that a substantial number of the pastors who took the time to respond were unaware of the pope’s 2014 proclamation in which he stated…

From Antichrist to Brother in Christ: How Protestant Pastors View the Pope


Equipping Eve: Interview with Phil Johnson (Part 1)

In this episode of Equipping Eve, Erin talks to Phil Johnson, Executive Director of Grace to You. It’s a potpourri discussion, covering topics such as women’s ministries, Bible study, and the apparent doctrinal downgrade within the visible church. Click here to listen to this latest episode of Equipping Eve. Click here for a list of articles referenced in this episode of Equipping Eve.


Another Jesus: Cults and Religious Liberals

Over the years we have observed a wide variety of groups who outright reject the Jesus of Scripture but somehow feel the need to attach His name to their group or cause in order to give them an air of legitimacy. It happens with world religions, cults, social causes and politics. Some years ago we […]

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Advice From Our Friend Jerome

jerome

The burning lust for women is a passion bordering on insanity. To gratify this sense we languish, grow angry, throw ourselves about with joy, indulge envy, engage in rivalry, are filled with anxiety, and when we have terminated the pleasure with more or less repentance, we once more take fire, and want to do that which we again regret doing.

Take heed, single males!  [NB- I suppose in these times of ours I should add the word ‘heterosexual’ but I’m not going to.  Just out of principle].


Is Hell Eternal Separation From God?

Many Christians define Hell as eternal separation from God. However, I wonder if this is born out by Scripture. It seems that a lot of people go to Jesus Christ’s cry on the cross to prove this point: “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” If Christ experienced Hell on the cross, as most Reformed believers rightly believe, then Hell seems to be defined here as being forsaken by God.

Another argument that seems to point in this direction is the relationship of Revelation 20 to Revelation 21. In Revelation 20, the dragon and the two beasts are thrown into the lake of fire, along with Death, Hades, and everyone whose name is not written in the Lamb’s book of life (Revelation 20:15). When one reads on into Revelation 21, it says that God will dwell with His people, which seems to suggest that He is not dwelling with those who are in the lake of fire.

To answer the first argument, it is not true that God the Father abandoned God the Son at the cross. The cross did not result in a rift in the Trinity. The abandonment consists of the God-man suffering the full wrath of God the Father. It is a giving up of Jesus to the judicial wrath, not an ontological abandonment. This becomes clear when the judgment context of Psalm 22 is taken into account, from which Jesus’ cry comes.

To answer the second argument, I wonder Who keeps the lake of fire hot? Who throws Satan into it? Who torments Satan day and night forever? Are these not divine passive constructions? Who can administer the justice but God alone? How would we ever trust that the punishment fits the crime perfectly unless it is God who punishes?

A passage that gives a bit more light on this is Revelation 14:6-13. In this passage, those who worship the beast, and receive the mark of the beast will drink the cup of the wrath of God, poured full strength (verse 10). This torment is eternal (verse 11). Therefore, John is talking about eternal punishment in Hell in these verses, not a temporal punishment. The key phrase, then, for our purposes, is the last part of verse 10: “in the presence of the holy angels and the presence of the Lamb.” It is the torment that will happen in the presence of the Lamb and of the angels, a torment that lasts forever. It is, therefore, true that the torment will last eternally in the presence of the angels and of the Lamb.

Another argument can be deduced from the principle of God’s omnipresence. If God is everywhere (see Psalm 139 for an extensive proof of God’s omnipresence), then God is present in Hell as well. Some of us might be uncomfortable saying that, as if God shouldn’t be involved in the punishment of Hell, as if it would dirty His holy hands. I would counter by saying that I wouldn’t want anyone BUT an omniscient God administering punishment for eternity! How else could permanent justice be assured?

I conclude that the formulation of Hell being eternal separation from God needs a bit of tweaking. Hell is eternal separation from the grace and mercy of God. It is not eternal separation from God entirely. I believe that people will fervently wish that they could escape the judging presence of God! Hell is a place where God is present only to judge and punish. Heaven is the place where God is present only to love and cherish.


Fact-checkers claim Planned Parenthood video doesn’t exist

Carly Fiorina’s big moment at the last Republican debate occurred when she described one of the videos exposing Planned Parenthood’s sale of baby parts. Since the debate, critics have claimed that the video she describes doesn’t exist. Fiorina’s campaign responded with the ad above showing that the video does in fact exist (WARNING: The video is graphic).

Still, the critics have been piling-on as if Fiorina’s claims are completely fabricated. Just yesterday I saw Chuck Todd rake her over the coals about it on “Meet the Press.” Fiorina stood by her guns. So who’s telling the truth here? Fiorina or the fact-checkers?

The best article I’ve seen on this so far is the one published today by Ross Douthat. He shows that the video obviously does exist, even if Fiorina conflated and jumbled some details in her description of it. Douthat also shows that the fact-checkers have yet to undermine her underlying claim–that Planned Parenthood sometimes delivers live babies in an effort to harvest organs to sell to third-party buyers.

Bottom line: The fact-checking boils down to parsing Fiorina’s words while ignoring the bone-chilling inhumanity of Planned Parenthood. And so the fact-checking turns out to be just one more piece of the propaganda propping-up the tax-payer funded butchery of our nation’s leading abortion provider.

If Americans are so indifferent that they can’t see through this cynical distraction from the main issue, God help us. Fiorina is right. This is about the character of our nation.


News you can use

And now for an important public service announcement:


Bill Nye, science awry

Back to Science Class for the Science Guy” by Robert P. George and Patrick Lee.

Evangelicals hate Jesus?

https://calvindude.org/dude/2015/09/24/evangelicals-hate-jesus/

How Were Old Testament Believers Saved?

Listen to this short 5-minute podcast for my answer. Agree or disagree?


You don’t really love the god you control

One of my favorite things is to hear my kids tell me they love me. Hannah, my middle girl, always wants me to be home. Always. In fact, after coming home from one trip, she told me in tears that I should never go away again. I should just stay home, and go to work, and then come back home again at night. When I get home from work, Hudson excitedly shouts, “Hey guys! Dad’s home!” and then rams his head into my pelvis while giving me a hug. Abigail loves nothing more than to cuddle, whether it’s convenient or not.

I am indeed, a much loved and very blessed man, friends. I try to do lots of fun things with the kids whenever possible, but they don’t love me because I’m the “fun” dad. They love me because, along with their mom, I help provide stability to their world. That’s what we do with schedules, routines and even discipline. And because they have a stable home, they are free to be themselves.

Strangely, we don’t seem to look at God the same way. While it’s understandable for the non-Christian, sure, but even many believers struggle to be thankful that God is on his throne. Many seem to want him to be anywhere but. Many would prefer a god of love—a god who is love, but who wields no authority. What they want, though, is god they can control. And when they’re reminded that this god doesn’t exist, they lash out.

Spurgeon reminded his hearers—and us today—of this truth when he preached,

 

Men will allow God to be everywhere except on his throne. They will allow him to be in his workshop to fashion worlds and to make stars. They will allow him to be in his almonry to dispense his alms and bestow his bounties. They will allow him to sustain the earth and bear up the pillars thereof, or light the lamps of heaven, or rule the waves of the ever-moving ocean; but when God ascends his throne, his creatures then gnash their teeth; and when we proclaim an enthroned God, and his right to do as he wills with his own, to dispose of his creatures as he thinks well, without consulting them in the matter, then it is that we are hissed and execrated, and then it is that men turn a deaf ear to us, for God on his throne is not the God they love. They love him anywhere better than they do when he sits with his sceptre in his hand and his crown upon his head. But it is God upon the throne that we love to preach. It is God upon his throne whom we trust.

We don’t want a God who has authority in our lives. We want one we can control. We think it’s easier. We think it’s even possible. But it’s not. Even if we believe in a toothless god, we don’t really love it, because we know in our hearts it doesn’t exist. And we don’t have any confidence in such a god anyway, because we’re left without any real sense of stability. We merely have what seems right in our own eyes. And that is an unstable foundation for even the most consistent person.

But we do have something, or rather, someone, better: the true God—the maker of the heavens and the earth, and Father of our Lord Jesus. The one does sit on his throne, and who does what is right and just, whether we like it or not. This is the God we ought to run to because he is the only one worthy of love.


God Gives Us Joy in Grief

God Gives Us Joy in GriefWhat role do trials play in the Christian life? In this lab, John Piper explains a hard, but beautiful truth. God writes hardship and suffering into every believer’s story for the sake of their faith. He wants to secure and deepen our joy in himself, and so he carries us through various trials.

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Popular Popes and Priestly Pretenders

Papacy02Anyone paying attention to the news last week could not have missed Pope Francis’s historic visit to the United States. Perhaps the most alarming aspect of his visit was the way in which some evangelical leaders enthusiastically embraced him. Today’s article addresses one of the many reasons why evangelicals should neither endorse nor applaud the office of the papacy.

The Popularity of the Papacy

Francis is unarguably one of the most popular popes in recent memory. That popularity has been fueled, largely, by his unexpected message of tolerance toward those who have historically been condemned by the Catholic Church.

In last few months, Francis has even shocked many Catholics with statements he has made about homosexuality, divorce, abortion, capitalism, climate change, and how he views of people in non-Catholic religions. Some of his comments have been so surprising, in fact, that it leads one to wonder about the continuing validity of the rhetorical question: “Is the Pope Catholic?” With Francis, it’s getting harder and harder to say for sure.

In spite of all of that, the pope has never been more popular. Type the words “pope Francis souvenirs” into Google and over 1.8 million results show up. There are Pope Francis bobble heads, coffee mugs, commemorative buttons, key chains, wall art, collectible stamps, prayer cards, throw pillows, and a whole lot more.

Incredibly, the pope’s popularity has even spilled over into some Protestant circlesenticing a number of evangelical leaders to embrace him as a brother in Christ, rather than to reject him as a false teacher. In the words of one well-known television preacher, regarding Francis: “I love the fact that’s he’s made the Church more inclusive. Not trying to make it smaller, but to try to make it larger—to take everybody in. So, that just resonates with me.”

But the fact of the matter is that the popularity of this pope or any other pope represents the tragic reality that there are more than a billion people today caught in the clutches of a false religious system. The Roman Catholic church is not the true church. It is an apostate movement that has undermined the gospel by elevating the traditions of men above the Word of God.

[Note: This article continues on the Preachers and Preaching blog.] Click here to Continue reading . . . 


“I AM” Gives Us the Ground Rule for Knowing God

This is the second of a three-part series on God’s name, I AM.” Be sure to read Part One (“‘I AM’ shows us how we encounter God”), and to check back tomorrow for Part Three (“‘I AM’ transforms our identities”).

When God appears to Moses at the burning bush and says, “I am who I am,” that implies, “I am not who you define me to be.” Obvious enough, right? Yet one of the consistent blunders of our generation is that we’d rather remake God into our image than accept him as he is. But he won’t have it. God is not the result of democratic processes. He’s not the puppet of our polls. God is. And in saying, “I am,” God gives us the ground rule for knowing him at all.

Theologians talk about two types of theology—the “theology from above” and the “theology from below.” Theology from below is the result of philosophical speculation. We get together, share ideas about what we think God is like, and after a spirited debate, we make our conclusions. This is, after all, the ideal for how we should make decisions in our contemporary pluralistic society, so it’s natural to think that we can do the same with religion. Let’s bring all of our ideas to the public square and see which God-ideas are best.

Theology from above, on the other hand, isn’t the result of philosophy. It’s not a matter of debate. It’s revealed, and we only have two options—accept it or reject it. The analogy that Plato uses of the cave is a helpful one here. In Plato’s Republic, he uses the image of a cave to describe our pursuit of truth. All of us are in a cave, and as light comes in from outside, we can’t see what’s going on outside, but we can see shadows. So we guess at what the shadows represent. The point, as Plato explains, is that our pursuit of God is largely fruitless…unless someone from outside could come in and tell us what life is like out there. That’s precisely what Christians believe about Jesus.

Which type of theology do you believe in? Is it a theology that arises from below, one that you can modify and adjust as you see fit? Or is it theology from above, a revelation of who God truly is? Most of us Christians would like to say that we believe in a theology from above. But here’s a trick to let you know if you actually believe in it: when theology comes from above, you don’t argue with it.

Do you edit God’s word when it bothers you? Do you ignore the ethical parts that seem too restrictive? Is there any room in your life for God to actually contradict you? If God can never contradict you, then whatever else you say, you’re constructing theology from below. Real people surprise us. They challenge us. They often offend us. God is (in this way) no different. If you believe in a God who never surprises you, challenges you, or offends you, that’s not a real person. That’s a figment of your imagination.

God’s revelation comes down from above. It begins not with us putting our heads together, but with his flat assertion: I am. That’s a revelation that we can receive. It’s a revelation we can reject. But if God is truly alive, then that’s not a revelation we can debate, edit, reshape, or refashion. God is. Receive him for who he is, or just be honest about it and reject him wholesale. There isn’t a third option.


The Difficulty of Prayer (and a solution) (Mark Jones)

Prayer is not easy. I find that true myself, but others whom I respect have also given testimony to the difficulty of prayer. Some chaps make it sound easy; if they spend hours a day in the tent of meeting, they probably have their computer in the tent with them.
Consider the following testimonies, which are filled with thoughts that one ordinarily doesn’t hear when people give their public testimonies, oddly enough:
“Everything we do in the Christian life is easier than prayer.” Martyn Lloyd-Jones
“There is nothing that we are so bad at all our days as prayer.” Alexander Whyte
“There are times in my life when I would rather die than pray.” Thomas Shepard
Imagine Thomas Shepard saying those words as he is brought to the front of the church to “speak about the wonderful things God has done in his life.” Whatever the case, I find those words from the aforementioned men somewhat comforting. In fact, read this from John Bunyan:
“May I but speak my own Experience, and from that tell you the difficulty of Praying to God as I ought; it is enough to make you poor, blind, carnal men, to entertain strange thoughts of me. For, as for my heart, when I go to pray, I find it so reluctant to go to God, and when it is with him, so reluctant to stay with him, that many times I am forced in my Prayers; first to beg God that he would take mine heart, and set it on himself in Christ, and when it is there, that he would keep it there. In fact, many times I know not what to pray for, I am so blind, nor how to pray I am so ignorant; only (blessed be Grace) the Spirit helps our infirmities [Rom. 8:26].”
That’s a Puritan – ahem – who obviously struggles, as most of us do, with prayer.
Sometimes Christians get in a “prayer rut” and find it difficult to break out of that rut. It isn’t that they give up praying altogether, but they do seem to give up spending time alone with the Lord in what the Puritans called “private, fervent prayer” (see Heb. 5:7).
Of course, there is no rule set down how often and how long we should pray. Yet, we pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17); we are to pray at all times (Eph. 6:18); and we pray suddenly based on need and occasion (Neh. 2:4).
The Bible also gives us examples of those who seemed to have set times or specific times where they devoted themselves to prayer (Matt. 6:6). Consider Daniel, who prayed three times daily, “as he had done previously” (Dan. 6:10). “Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray” (Acts 10:9). And our Lord Jesus “would withdraw to desolate places and pray” (Lk. 5:16).
Given that prayer is difficult, how does Christ motivate us to pray? In Matthew 6:6 he promises his disciples their Father will reward them for what they do (i.e., pray) in secret. Notice how often the word “reward” appears in that chapter alone.
We do have to ask ourselves whether we adequately believe the words in Matthew 6:6. Do we really believe, as we should, that God will reward us? If we did, we would indeed spend a lot more time in secret prayer than we do. We do not have because we do not ask! We do not ask because we lack faith (Matt. 21:22).
Faith is the hand that begs from God: “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Heb. 11:6).
Christ, the man of faith par excellence, certainly grasped this concept in his own prayer life. In fact, he prayed for his reward: “And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed” (Jn. 17:5).
I don’t know precisely how the Lord will reward us for what we do in secret. Sometimes the answers to prayer are either obvious or immediate. Sometimes he rewards us by not giving us what we (sometimes wrongly) ask for. And there are prayers which may not even be answered in our own lifetime (see Stephen’s prayer in Acts 7:59-60, which may have resulted in the conversion of Saul of Tarsus; or notice how Moses’ prayer to see God’s glory in Ex. 33:18 was answered at the Transfiguration).
But I do know this:
The rewards from our Father are of grace:  “It is called a reward, but it is of grace, not of debt; what merit can there be in begging?” (Matthew Henry)
And, he has promised to reward his children when they pray in secret, and that motivation alone should be enough to get us into our “prayer closets” where we ask in order to receive.

Reformation or Revolution? A Review of God and the Gay Christian

Note: A PDF of this review is available here.

Click the link below to go directly to the named section:

Introduction
Summary
Interaction
Conclusion
Pastoral Considerations
Resources for Review

Matthew Vines, God and the Gay Christian, New York: Convergent, 2014. 213 pages


Three Ways to Help Bible Beginners

Three Ways to Help Bible BeginnersLots of people, probably many in your own life, are curious about the Bible or maybe even want to read it, but don’t know where to start. Many of us woke up this morning ourselves wanting to start reading the Bible again, but not sure where to turn today. In two minutes, Ben Stuart gives us a few places to turn when we’ve never read the Bible before or when we don’t know where to turn.

Related Resources


Check out

Blogs

6 Reasons Why Anxiety, Worry, & Fear are Particular Problems for Christians | Ron Edmondson
Can you “over-spiritualize” fear and anxiety?

The Dominant Medium We Neglect | Bob Allen, The Gospel Coalition
In short: Television. Bob examines the current state of Christian television.

James Is, You Know, in the Bible | Rick Phillips, Reformation21
Rick wrestles with Faith and Works.

How An Affair Really Begins | Tim Challies
It’s not with sex.

Reaching a Boiling Point | Barry York, Gentle Reformation
What Deuteronomy 14:21 (“You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk”) has to do with us today.

I Went To Planned Parenthood For Birth Control, But They Pushed Abortion | Sarah Owens, The Federalist
Sarah outlines her personal experience with Planned Parenthood as a teenager and her changing views on a woman’s “right to choose.”

Recommended New Book

Happiness by Randy Alcorn. Although I have a couple of reservations about this book, which I’ll explain in my upcoming review, on the whole I am very positive about it.

Kindle Books

God’s Design for Man and Woman: A Biblical-Theological Survey by Andreas and Margaret Kostenberger $2.99.

Truth in a Culture of Doubt: Engaging Skeptical Challenges to the Bible by Andreas Kostenberger $2.99.

How Do Preaching and Corporate Prayer Work Together? by Ryan McGraw

Video

God in Our Midst: A New Teaching Series from Daniel Hyde | Ligonier
Exciting series from Ligonier and Danny Hyde centering on understanding Jesus through understanding of the Old Testament tabernacle.


Links I like

Kindle deals for Christian readers

Westminster Bookstore’s also got a very good sale going on right now on Crossway’s ESV Thinline series of Bibles. If you’re in the market, I really like this one.

Brothers, Our Daggers Won’t Do

Mike Leake:

If the Spirit does not come in power then not even the best of preacher is strong enough to wield the sword—we are but children playing with daddy’s weapons. But when God uses His Word through us—He can wield it and accomplish the purpose He has set for it.

The Fourth Person of the Trinity?

Nick Batzig:

When I was an intern preparing for ministry at Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, I asked Dr. Paul Tripp, “If you could give any one piece of advice to young men preparing for ministry, what would it be?” Speaking from years of pastoral experience, Paul responded, “Don’t become the fourth person of the Trinity for people.” What he obviously meant was, “Don’t try to stand in the place of God and do what only God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit can do in someone’s life.” You can’t effect the change that you labor so diligently to help bring about in the lives of those entrusted to your care–only the Lord can produce real and lasting change (1 Cor. 3:6-8). There are real dangers that pastors face when they function as if they are the fourth person in the Trinity.

How An Affair Really Begins

Tim Challies:

At some point, we have all witnessed the devastation of an affair. On the one hand, it is shocking just how much can be destroyed by the act of one person sharing sexual intimacy with another. But on the other hand, it is not shocking at all when we consider how much meaning God has packed into marriage and into the sexual relationship within marriage.

Wisdom in Contextualization: How Far Is Too Far?

Ed Stetzer:

I am all for innovation. But it should be used as means to better contextualize the gospel, not simply for its own sake. We need to evaluate where that line is, so that we do not cross it and lose the very reason God has placed us here.

Thoughts on note-taking during sermons

Jared Wilson:

Ditching the note-taking preaching ethos both elevates sermons and properly diminishes them. It treats a sermon as proclamation aided by the Spirit, which gives the sermon a supernatural weight. On the other hand, by treating all words in a sermon as expendable to memory, it puts the preacher’s words in the right place compared to the Scripture’s words. It diminishes the impact of a well-turned phrase and magnifies real revelation.


A La Carte (September 29)

There are lots of Kindle deals today. Defending Inerrancy by Norm Geisler ($2.99); Handbook to Scripture by Kenneth Boa ($0.99). The New American Commentary series is also on sale with each volume just $2.99. I have marked with an askterisk the volumes that are considered top-5 on that book of the Bible. New Testament: Matthew*, Mark, Luke*, John 1-11, John 12:21, Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians*, Galatians*, Philippians/Colossians/Philemon, 1&2 Thessalonians, 1&2 Timothy/Titus, James, 1&2 Peter/Jude*, 1&2&3 John, Revelation. Old Testament: Genesis 1-11, Exodus, Leviticus*, Numbers*, Deuteronomy, Joshua*, Judges/Ruth*, 1&2 Kings*, 1&2 Chronicles, Ezra/Nehemiah/Esther*, Job, Proverbs/Ecclesiastes/Song of Songs, Isaiah 1-39, Jeremiah/Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea/Joel, Amos/Obadiah/Jonah, Micah-Zephaniah, Zechariah, Haggai/Malachi.

What Pastors Wish Their Worship Leaders Knew

Bob Kauflin offers quite a good list of things pastors wish their worship leaders knew.

Advice for a Young Man Dating a Young Woman

I think this is a tremendously helpful collection of wisdom for the young man pursuing the young lady. My favorite line: “Whether she’s your future wife, or someone else’s, her body is not for your touch and your touch is not ready for her body.”

McDonald’s All-Day Breakfast

McDonald’s all-day breakfast is pretty much the best thing ever. Except for the part about it not being available in Canada! Anyway, this article explains how it came to be.

Step Into the Page

I enjoyed this video of Glen Keane (who animated many of Disney’s best-loved characters) doing what he lives to do, but in virtual reality.

This Day in 1770. George Whitefield preaches his last sermon—the day before he died. He said, “Lord Jesus, I am weary in thy work, but not of it.” *

ESV Thinline

Westminster Books has cut the prices on the Thinline edition of the ESV. It’s cheap enough that you can buy it in quantities and give it away!

The Puritan Influence on the Press

Marvin Olasky: “Publications in the 17th century usually put out only news that would make the king or his officials look good, but New England Puritans encouraged the reporting of bad news because they saw everything, good and bad, as a message from God.”


The Daily Discovery (September 29, 2015)

ARTICLES I LIKE FROM AROUND THE WEB:
(Click title to go to full article)

Accidental Saints – “I read it because it was on the New York Times list of bestsellers. That is not only a significant accomplishment for an author but an indication that her work resonates with a wide audience. So I read the book. And, oh my.”

Making Money From End of the World Fears – “I was going to write a book about ‘Why Unbelievers Hate Us’, but not only was I busy with my creation science ministry, but so many examples would make the book so huge, it would fill up a saddlebag and make your horse list to one side.”

Evolution and Original Sin – “The BioLogos website has continued its series on a variety of views of the atonement in light of their belief in molecules-to-man evolution. Previously, we critiqued two posts written by Dr. Joseph Bankard, who argued that the atonement had far more to do with Christ’s life than with His sacrificial death. In this article we will examine two posts on the topic written by George Murphy, a retired Lutheran pastor with a PhD in theoretical physics.”

By What Standard? – The idol of the American state…

A Tale of Two Churches – For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.


SERMON:

The Gay Revolution – Durbin, White, & Brown


VIDEOS:

Life Begins At Conception?

The Atheist Double Standard


“All death can do to the believer is deliver him to Jesus.  It brings us into the eternal presence of our Savior.” – John MacArthur


Featured Blogs


Christian Headlines Daily – Tuesday, September 29, 2015

http://www.christianheadlines.com/

Top Headlines

Anna Duggar Busies Herself with Homeschooling Her Children While Husband is in Rehab

Muslim-Jewish Clashes Escalate at Temple Mount

Pope Skirts Abortion in Speech to Congress

Imprisoned Pastor Worse Off Since Iran Deal

Three Church Buildings Torched in Tanzania

Charity Seeking to Aid Thousands of Christians Suffering Brutal ISIS Violence

Franklin Graham Accuses Senate of Hypocrisy

Hungary’s “Ordinary Heroes” See Mission Opportunity in Migrant Crisis

Argentinian Pastor’s Fight for Religious Freedom Goes on

‘God Weeps,’ Says Pope Francis, Calling for Accountability on Sex Abuse Crimes

Opinion

Do We Have Soul Mates?

Our Gifts Used for God’s Glory

The Power of a Poem: Hannah More and the Abolition of the Slave Trade

Shout Your Abortion or Share Your Faith?

Cherry-Picking Pope Francis


READING: Nehemiah 11-13, Psalm 126

TEXTS AND APPLICATION:  The book of Nehemiah begins with Nehemiah’s extended prayer of brokenness over Jerusalem (Neh. 1:2-11), and it ends with a simple prayer of blessing: “Remember me, my God, with favor” (Neh. 13:31). In between are the several prayers we noted in the devotion, “Praying on the Way,” plus additional prayers in chapter 13. Without question, prayer was in Nehemiah’s DNA.

Nehemiah shows us so much about doing God’s work. He began his work in prayer, grieving over the condition of the fallen holy city. He prayed to God before he asked the king’s assistance (Neh. 2:5). He prayed spontaneously whenever petition and intercession were in order. He worked hard and challenged the people to work hard, asking God to remember his “deeds of faithful love” (Neh. 13:14, 22). In the end, he knew he still needed God to remember him with favor.

So, when should we pray? At the beginning of a task, during the task, and when the task is finished. Nehemiah the leader modeled that pattern, and through him we learn that, “A man who approaches God on his knees will stand tall in any generation.”*

PRAYER: “Father, let me not start a project without praying. Let me not take a step without praying. Let me not end a task without praying. If I stand tall, let it be on my knees.”

TOMORROW’S READING: Malachi 1-4

*Smith, J. E. (1995). The Books of History (Ne 13:30–31). Joplin, MO: College Press.


Our Time is Short

Read: Recommitting Your Life To God and Jesus Christ – Restoration and Forgiveness With God and Jesus Christ (Updated Version)


What is The Gospel?

God made everything out of nothing, including you and me. His main purpose in creation was to bring him pleasure.

The chief way in which we as humanity do this is through loving, obeying, and enjoying him perfectly.

Instead of this, we have sinned against our loving Creator and acted in high-handed rebellion.

God has vowed that he will righteously and lovingly judge sinners with eternal death.

But God, being merciful, loving, gracious, and just, sent his own son, Jesus Christ, in the likeness of man to live as a man; fulfilling his perfect requirements in the place of sinners; loving, obeying, and enjoying him perfectly.

And further, his son bore the eternal judgment of God upon the cross of Calvary, as he satisfied the eternal anger of God, standing in the place of sinners. God treated Jesus as a sinner, though he was perfectly sinless, that he might declare sinners as perfect.

This glorious transaction occurs as the sinner puts their faith (dependence, trust) in the Lord Jesus Christ as their substitute. God then charges Christ’s perfection to the sinner, and no longer views him as an enemy but instead an adopted son covered in the perfect righteousness of his son.

God furnished proof that this sacrifice was accepted by raising Jesus from the dead.

God will judge the world in righteousness and all of those who are not covered in the righteousness of Christ, depending on him for forgiveness, will be forced to stand on their own to bear the eternal anger of God.

Therefore, all must turn from sin and receive Christ Jesus as Lord.


Ready to start your new life with God?

Who do you think that I am?

With that brief question Jesus Christ confronted His followers with the most important issue they would ever face. He had spent much time with them and made some bold claims about His identity and authority. Now the time had come for them either to believe or deny His teachings.

Who do you say Jesus is? Your response to Him will determine not only your values and lifestyle, but your eternal destiny as well.

Consider what the Bible says about Him: Read more


Resource Links

CanIKnowGod.com is a website inspired by LifesGreatestQuestion.com, with new content, images, audio and video that will help you understand more about who God is and how to know Him. The site is mobile responsive and has an infinite scroll which makes for a very user-friendly experience. After you indicate a decision on CanIKnowGod.com, you are directed to a page that details what it means to have a new and transformed life through Jesus Christ. There’s even a Facebook page for daily updates, encouragement and scripture sharing.

Look to Jesus
Have you ever felt a little lost and wished there was a quick-start guide to your relationship with God? This is it!

30 Day Next Steps
John Beckett, a leading Christian businessman, has written a series to read over 30 days for new believers.

New Believers Guide
The New Believer’s Guide is a series of articles designed to show you how to walk in the new life Christ has given you— a life of faith and freedom.

Jesus Booklet
Jesus is the Savior of the world. Discover who Jesus is today in this series.

About Christianity
Know Jesus Christ and your life will be transformed


Truth2Freedom Blog Disclaimer

This post was originally posted on:

https://truth4freedom.wordpress.com

(Alternative News, Apologetics, Current Events, Commentary, Opinion, Theology, Discernment Blog, Devotionals, Christian Internet Evangelism & Missions Activist).

“A simple layman armed with Scripture is to be believed above a pope or a council without it…” – Martin Luther

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