October 13, 2015 Christian Briefing Report


When We Talk About Millennials, We’re Usually Talking About White People

First of all, the sociological category of “Millennials” is an American invention. So whenever you make generalizations about “Millennials,” you’re only talking about Americans. But it gets even more specific than that.

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Five Questions about Sanctification and Good Works: Are Good Works Necessary to Salvation?

“This question about the necessity of good works has often perplexed Christians. If, on the one hand, we say no, good works are not necessary, we can hardly make sense of the warnings and moral imperatives of the New Testament. But if we say good works are necessary to salvation, it can sound like we’ve suddenly made heaven the product of our effort and obedience.”

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To Women Who Feel Guilty About Their Abortions

“If you’re already a Christian, but struggle with the weight of guilt over your sin, remember what Christ has already done for you. Live in the freedom that he purchased for you. Remember that though your sins were like scarlet, Christ has made you white as snow. Pray on behalf of others who are considering the path you have walked. Pray they would run the other way, and trust in the Lord to care for them and their baby.”

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Carly Fiorina Q+A: ‘Whom Shall I Fear?’

“The sharp-spoken former executive has offered voters glimpses of her personal life, including her battle with breast cancer in 2009 and her stepdaughter’s tragic death after struggling with drug addiction. It was her Christian faith that sustained her.”

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The Coming Identity-Crisis

“The coming identity crisis for younger evangelicals (which I still consider myself to be one though I’m now climbing the northern slope of my fourth decade of life) is that we will have to come face to face with a label we’ve spent much of our ministry trying to avoid. For some time, however short of a time it might have been, we’ve relished the illusion that the term fundamentalist was meant for someone other than us.”

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Persecution and the Priorities of Preaching

“Do you not imagine that your preaching priorities would become clear under persecution? After all, if you are forced to meet with your congregation in a catacomb, and if you know that you might be arrested at any time, you are going to weigh every word.”

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Direct Revelation and Marriage Proposals

“Christians are not all mystics speaking to one another like mystics uttering often contradictory, well-God-told-me’s, while comparing the validity of their mystic experiences in which said revelation was received. Nonsense. Christians go to the word, together, to figure out, together, what God says about salvation and the life the saved live.”

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The Peter Principle and the Saul Syndrome

“Greater responsibility tends to expose cracks in one’s character. The cracks were already there, but the added burden or the additional ‘power’ made them more visible. If people are promoted based on their skill alone, they are promoted into a place where a lack of integrity will be more damaging to others.”

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10 Reasons Why It Will Be Okay

by Erin Davis

It’s going to be okay, friend. Here are ten reasons why.

Freebie Friday! In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day

by Erin Davis

Are you facing a big decision? We’ve got a freebie to help you make the right call.

When You’re Face to Face with a Lion

by Beecher Proch

When a decision you’re facing looks as scary as a lion, what next?

When God Cuts Your Idol’s Head Off

by Erin Davis

Our natural bent is to put something, anything, on the throne in our hearts other than God. When that happens, He may cut our idol’s head off.

The World is Coming to an End — Now!

“Well at least is was supposed to,” Bill Muehlenberg grumbles.  “But it seems another nut job Christian outfit was caught out with yet another false prediction of the end of the world. Will these folks never learn? Not only do they make a laughing stock out of the Christian faith, but they also cause many believers […]

The post The World is Coming to an End — Now! appeared first on Berean Research.

Binding and Loosing: A Biblical Perspective on a Popular Modern Practice

When we take verses out of context and apply a meaning that was not the intent of the author, it will result in unbiblical practices such as “binding and losing” Satan and his demons.  Context, context, context! By W.E. Nunnally This article discusses the popular Pentecostal/charismatic practice of binding and loosing certain attitudes or dispositions, […]

The post Binding and Loosing: A Biblical Perspective on a Popular Modern Practice appeared first on Berean Research.

Homosexuality “may be triggered by environment after birth”

(The Telegraph, by Sarah Knapton) Homosexuality may be triggered by environmental factors during childhood after scientists found that genetic changes which happen after birth can determine whether a man is straight or gay. The finding is highly controversial because it suggests that some men are not born gay, but are turned homosexual by their surroundings. It […]

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The occult practice of automatic writing and A.A.’s twelve steps

Most people are unaware that A.A.’s co-founder Bill Wilson received the details of the 12 Steps through spirit dictation.  John Lanagan of My Word Like Fire has taken the time to research A.A.’s beginnings. Following is only a smidgen of what he has uncovered over the years: It’s too late. Alcoholics Anonymous has served its purpose. […]

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Heartland fury as university renovates chapel to accommodate Muslims

On the heals of a report over at Breitbart, World’s First Lesbian Bishop Calls for Church to Remove Crosses, to Install Muslim Prayer Space, Todd Starnes, host of Fox News and Commentary, fills us in on the “Christian cleansing” going on at Wichita State: A decision to make a university’s chapel “faith neutral” to accommodate Muslim […]

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Dancing on Money [VIDEO]: Creflo Dollar’s Cash Foundation

If you’ve never seen this video of prosperity preachers Creflo Dollar and LeRoy Thompson dancing across their stage on the dollar bills of congregants, you’d best gird your loins first with truth: For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. […]

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Creflo Dollar removes posts claiming Jesus died to give us “financial prosperity”

I am a huge proponent of screencap. Capturing an image before a false teacher or wolf or talk show host or author realizes he’s been caught pedaling falsehoods is often the only way sheep will realize just how deceitful their beloved Christian celebrities really are.  So when I saw that someone had captured yet another […]

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Prophecy: “For men (and women) will be lovers of self…”

In this post Elizabeth Prata of The End Times deals with America’s love affair with “self.” We’ve become so enamored with self that our cellphones are used to take “selfies” that we post on Instagram, Facebook, send to friends, family and perfect strangers.  Even professing Christians, who should know better, are caught up in […]

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Benham Brothers on Oregon Shooting: Satan and Demons Manifesting Themselves in Our Nation

David and Jason Benham are real-estate entrepreneurs who were famously dropped from an HGTV reality show because of their belief in biblical marriage.  Because they stood their ground, their show was cancelled even before it was aired.  The brothers have spoken out about the Oregon massacre.  According to David Benham what happens when a nation […]

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WVW-TV Presents: When So-Called Christians Practice the New Age Doctrines of Oprah Winfrey It is White Magic
Oprah Winfrey promoted “The Secret,” but this New Age teaching is also embraced within evangelicalism. In this episode, Brannon explains the teaching of the “Law of Attraction” and how it is being promoted by so-called evangelicals. After the New Age book and DVD “The Secret” was a big seller, some evangelicals came out with the “Source of the Secret” that seeks to say the source is God. Brannon explains why this is wrong and why he believes this fits the definition of white magic. This is part four and the final part of the series: “The White Magic of Evangelicalism.” When so-called Christians Practice the New Age Doctrines of Oprah Winfrey It is White Magic. Click here to watch now before this program rolls into the Situation Room for members only:


Worldview Weekend Radio:
Hear Rick Warren discuss with a Catholic television network how the spiritual director at his church, Saddleback, was trained by Jean Vanier. Do you know who Jean Vanier is? Today Brannon will play 6 audio clips of Vanier being interviewed and you will quickly understand that he is a Catholic mystic and universalist that was friends with Mother Teresa. Hear the unbiblical worldview of Mr. Vanier flow forth from his own words and then ask yourself why is Rick Warren celebrating that he has a spiritual director trained by Jean Vanier? What does this tell us about Rick Warren? What is a spiritual director? Why should you run if the church you attend has a spiritual director? Topic: We take your calls.

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WVW-TV Presents: Mohammed, His Wives, His Visit From A Spirit, & The Rise of a False Prophet with Usama Dakdok

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Do You Know the Answers to These Questions? The Answers are Important and Will Impact You and Your Family.

“I’d Rather Go to Hell Than be With You!”

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No Compromise Radio with Mike Abendroth:
Jesus and Demons (Part 2): Pastor Mike recently preached this sermon at Bethlehem Bible Church in West Boylston, MA. Listen in to Jesus and Demons (Part 2)

Putin’s “Moral Clarity” Disguises Evil Intent

The Establishment Looks for a New Plan B

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Noise of Thunder with Chris Pinto
THE ANTICHRISTIAN MOVEMENT Chris discusses a series of stories, reflecting on the rising tide of hostility towards Christianity, in the United States and abroad. In Sweden, the world’s first lesbian bishop has called for the removal of the cross from a church in her diocese. She wants to replace it with markings to show the direction of Mecca for Muslim worshippers. Meanwhile, the Ten Commandments monument that stirred up so much controversy in Oklahoma has now been removed, having been ruled “unconstitutional” by the state’s Supreme Court. All this in the wake of the tragic murder of Christians in Oregon, specifically because of their faith. “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake …” (Mark 13:13)

Putin’s “Moral Clarity” Disguises Evil Intent

Reparative Therapy, Southern Baptists & Moving the Goalposts

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Encounter God’s Truth with Dr. John Whitcomb:
Thanks for listening to Encounter Gods Truth where we teach every week that Gods Word is true from the beginning to the end. Today Dr. John Whitcomb continues his series on Biblical Apologetics by concluding our consideration of Evolutionary Difficulties. We are going to look at some of the Scriptural imperatives that we must practice in order to be effective in sharing our faith with the unbelieving world also considering the powerful impact that our own lives have upon the effectiveness of our witness for the gospel. Guided by Wayne Shepherd, we travel together to Appalachian Bible College in Mount Hope, West Virginia, which has graciously allowed Whitcomb Ministries to distribute these messages to a wider audience by way of radio. We are glad that you have joined us for this program, and hope that the broadcast will challenge you to share the gospel with others now while there is still time.


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Search the Scriptures with T.A. McMahon:
This is part two  our topic has been Roman Catholicism, and in particular, the pope at this airing is visiting the United States, so we want to address that. In order to do that, I have Greg Durel, a good friend of mine, who’s the pastor of Heritage Bible Church in Gretna, Louisiana, and he has a weekday radio ministry that is devoted to educating Catholics in biblical doctrine.

Women with the Master with Susan Heck:
There is a new wave of thinking that is rapidly gripping the evangelical world today. The teaching is antinomianism which basically says that those who are redeemed are not under the moral law. After all, Christ came to fulfill the law, therefore there is no need for us to obey the law. Is the teaching of antinomianism biblical? What is our response to the law? Do we have any moral obligation to it? What did Jesus mean in the Sermon on the Mount when He said He came to fulfill the law? We will consider in these few verses, Matthew 5:17-20: Christ and His Followers Relationship to the Law.


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Steel on Steel with John Loeffler:
Don’t bring your politically correct narratives to a logic fight  youre not going to win. In this weeks boralogue, John shows that the differences between what some believe and what is actually reality have widened into chasms. He exposes the logical fallacies behind several PC narratives reheated this week following the tragic shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. On the other side of the divide, reality insists on being heard and will eventually win out. If we listen to these illogical narratives, we may find ourselves falling into the chasm. The Obama administration is bringing in hundreds of thousands of mostly Muslim refugees, but is deporting groups of Christians back to Iraq. Joining us to expand on this is author and Middle East expert Raymond Ibrahim who reveals the harsh political and religious climate for Christians in the Middle East, mainstream medias lack of coverage on the issue, and the now true story of ISIS operatives setting up shop in Western countries. The chasm is widening on many issues, including border security and immigration.

This edition of Crosstalk featured a recorded message by Shahram Hadian who was born in Iran, is a former Muslim, but now a Christian pastor and former candidate for governor of the State of Washington. This message was originally presented at a Steeling the Mind Conference put on by Compass International which brings top Christian speakers together to address timely spiritual issues. Shahram speaks on the critical issues facing this nation and has started the Truth in Love Project. He warns of the true goal of Islam and the threat of Shariah.

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Justin Peters Program:
Attributes of God – Spirituality: We have been discussing the incommunicable attributes of God in this series and this week we turn our attention to that attribute known as His Spirituality. To say that God is spiritual may sound so obvious as to be almost redundant. It is not, though. To say that God is spiritual is to identify Him as a Spirit. What does this really mean? How is this attribute of His spirituality related to His other attributes and what does it mean to worship God in “spirit and in truth?” There is more to God’s spirituality than may at first meet the eye!

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Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer:
When we pray, theres a bigger purpose at work than we realize. For us, getting the answer is all-consuming. For God, developing our characters is the real objective. God is at work even when our prayers seem to bounce off the ceiling.

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Truth About Islam with Usama Dakdok
Revealing The Deception of Islam: When Muslims Speak in Churches (Program #2)

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Prophecy Today Radio with Dr. Jimmy DeYoung
Today on PTIB Jimmy DeYoung will talk with Ken Timmerman , who is in the Washington area and has a report on geo-political events around our world. Jimmy and Ken will discuss Iranian missiles that are targeting American bases in the Middle East; Russia has violated Turkish airspace; Iraq wants Russian assistance instead of America’s; Putin is very popular in Iraq; test show that indeed, IS has used WMD; and IS is now in a battle with Al Qaeda for the leadership role in the terror world.

Ames On The State Of Believers In The Judgment

Lesson 4: In that judgment the condition of the pious and of the impious will be utterly dissimilar and opposed. This is taught in the text by the separation of the sheep and the goats, by the right hand and the left hand, and by “come, ye blessed” and “depart, ye cursed.” Reasons There is […]

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Caspar Olevianus On The State Of Believers In The Judgment

First of all, the reason for His coming to judge is a comfort to believers. The main purpose of Christ’s coming to judge is the glorification of the church. That means that when sin and death have been fully abolished, and the enemies of the kingdom of Christ have been assigned to eternal punishment by […]

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“Church of Lucifer” to Open in Texas

According to Christian News Network:

The first “Church of Lucifer” is set to open later this month in a small town outside of Houston, Texas.

“Never in history has anything like this has happened before: an open to the public home for the Left Hand Path, a church dedicated to the mental freedom of all mankind, a home for all those who are not conformists to the common way of thought, and a temple to the higher self!” the website for the organization reads. “This is the first steps to a new age.”

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Unrepentant Creflo Dollar still says Jesus died to make us rich

From Berean Research:

A couple of days ago Berean Research editor, Amy Spreeman, posted this story (here) and it went viral. Amy later posted a video of Creflo Dollar actually dancing around on dollars (here). She lamented that, “when I saw that someone captured yet another horrific, blasphemous lie on social media this morning, I just about fainted: ‘Jesus bled and died for us so that we can lay claim to the promise of financial prosperity.'” Amy was right in saying that this is a blasphemous lie.

Well, the prosperity preacher is digging in his heals, as you will see in this piece over at Christian Today. Mark Woods has the latest as well as Dollar’s theological position:


Pictet On The State Of Believers In The Judgment

The passing of sentence will take place after the trial of the cause; first, the sentence of acquittal, then that of condemnation; the Judge will begin with the former, to show that he is more willing to pardon than to punish; and to the greater joy of the faithful, and to the greater sorrow of […]

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Ussher On The State Of Believers In The Judgment

Shall there be no difference in the examination of the Elect and the Reprobate? Yes. For, 1. The Elect shall not have their sins, for which Christ satisfied, but only their good works, remembered. 2. Being in Christ, they and their works shall not undergo the strict trial of the Law simply in it self; […]

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Ursinus On The State Of Believers In The Final Judgment

He shall judge all men, the living as well as the dead, the righteous as well as the wicked. He shall also judge the bad angels. Men are called the living or dead in respect to the state which precedes the judgment. Those who remain and will be alive at the time of the judgment, […]

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Hodge: Christ Fulfilled The Conditions Of The Covenant Of Works For Believers

The second consequence attributed to the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, is a title to eternal life. This in the older writers is often expressed by the words “adoption and heirship.” Being made the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:26), they are heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ of […]

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A. A. Hodge On The State Of Believers In The Judgment

16. Upon what principles will his judgment be dispensed? The judge is figuratively represented (Rev. 20:12), after the analogy of human tribunals, as opening “books” in judgment, according to the things written in which the dead are to be judged, and also “another book,” “which is the book of life.” The books first mentioned doubtless […]

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Ridgely On The State Of Believers At The Judgment

The next thing to be considered, is the trial of the righteous, who are said to stand before Christ’s judgment-seat. Here it may be observed that no indictment shall be brought against them, at least, with the Judge’s approbation; for they were acquitted and discharged, when brought into a justified state; and as the consequence […]

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Witsius On The State Of Believers In The Judgment

XXXI. The sentence of absolution will be entirely gracious according to the Gospel strictly so called. “The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of p 289 the Lord in that day.” This is manifest, 1st, From the consideration of the works,—which, though stained by numerous blemishes, will receive so high a commendation […]

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What’s in Your Bible?

KJV; NKJV; NASB; ESV; NIV; and on and on.  We have dozens of Bible translations to choose from when we read the Word.  Some are “word for word”; some are “thought for thought”; and there are a growing number of paraphrase books like The Message and others that vie for our attention. How vital is […]

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Wollebius: The Salvation Of The Righteous Depends Not On Works

X. The making of the charge is described by the metaphor of books or records in which the actions of the person who are being judged are written down. Revelation 20:12 ‘And the books were opened.’ By the word ‘books’ is to be understood both God’s omniscience and man’s conscience. XI.The wicked will be judged […]

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“Contemplative Spirituality – the Source of the Catholic Church’s Expansion”

by Ray Yungen, 9/24/15 LT Publishing

I had always been confused as to the real nature of this advance in the Catholic church. Was this just the work of a few mavericks and renegades, or did the church hierarchy sanction this practice? My concerns were affirmed when I read in an interview that the mystical prayer movement not only had the approval of the highest echelons of Catholicism but also was, in fact, the source of its expansion.

Click here to read this article! 

Beth Moore & Priscilla Shirer’s History of Contemplative Prayer and Why War Room Should Not Have Used Them (Booklet)

by John Lanagan LT Publishing
and the Editors at Lighthouse Trails


Contemplative prayer, which Priscilla Shirer refers to as her “brand new way” and Beth Moore says is essential in really knowing God, is in reality an ancient prayer practice that is essentially the same as New Age or Eastern meditation though disguised with Christian terminology. Those who participate and enter the contemplative silence, as it is called, open themselves to great deception.

Click here to get this booklet!

Letter to the Editor: Pope Francis Points to the “Contemplative” “Thomas Merton” in Speech to Congress . . . And the Role This Could Play in a One-World Religion

at Lighthouse Trails, 9/25/15 LT Publishing

LTRP Note: On the morning of September 24th, Lighthouse Trails posted an article by Ray Yungen titled “Contemplative Spirituality – the Source of the Catholic Church’s Expansion”  “Coincidentally,” one hour later, Lighthouse Trails was contacted and told that the Catholic Church’s Jesuit Pope Francis  talked about Thomas Merton (using the term contemplative to describe him) when he addressed Congress. Shortly later, Lighthouse Trails received this letter to the editor below.


Click here to read this article!

‘Mindfulness’ meditation fad popular with celebrities can make you dream up false memories

at The Berean Call, 9/21/15 The Berean Call

[TBC: From the April 2006 newsletter: Psychotherapy is an exercise in futility unless innate goodness resides within man at his very core. Here’s why: if man has an evil nature, as the Bible teaches, then it’s impossible for him to change himself. In other words, if I’m innately evil, I will always be evil because there is nothing within me to enable me to change . But if I’m good within but am experiencing problems of living, then through various psychological methods or techniques, I should be able to tap into, utilize, or realize that goodness and thus remedy the adversities I experience. All the psychotherapeutic selfisms, from self-love to self-esteem to self-image to self-actualization to self-realization-and ultimately to self-deification-are predicated upon the innate goodness of one’s nature.]

Click here to read this article!

On The Road To Post-Christian America?

Across the United States, cities in every state are becoming more post-Christian, technically moving deeper into a backslidden state – some at a faster rate than others. In just two years, the percentage of Americans who qualify as “post-Christian” rose by 7 percentage points, from 37% in 2013 to 44% in 2015……….. Click here for full story

Ben Carson: Apocalyptic Beliefs Plus Nuclear Weapons Could Mean End Times Are Near

The end times could be near, and people with an apocalyptic worldview could cause the end times if they came into possession of nuclear weapons, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson said.

In a Sunday interview with Sharyl Attkisson, Ben Carson said events around the globe allows for one to speculate that we are closer to the end times.

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As the World Turns…

I think it’s fair to say, that the world we currently live in is coming apart at the seams rather suddenly. No reasonably sane person can look at our current situation and say with a straight face, that the things are getting better. Wars, economic turmoil, political corruption, earthquakes, pestilences, crime, and apostasy are part of everyday life here in the 21st century.

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Will the Biblical “War of Gog & Magog” bring about the end of Radical Islam as we have known it? – Joel Rosenberg

In our study today, let’s look at what the prophet Ezekiel says will happen to the enemies of Israel when the War of Gog and Magog concludes, and what happens with Israel and the Jewish people, as well.

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The King is Coming: Who Cares?

Jan Markell and Eric Barger talk eschatology with Dr. David Reagan for the hour. How can we live for Christ victoriously in these last days? Hardly anyone cares that the King is coming and yet that is today’s only good news. We have society decaying and the church riddled with apostasy. In light of this, how shall we then live?

Access Progamming Here or Here

Church of Lucifer set to open

More signs of the times — the rise of evil

In quaint Old Town Spring, a new church is truly the first of its kind.

The church that will soon be opening doors isn’t any old church — it’s the Greater Church of Lucifer.”

In about 3 1/2 weeks the Houston area will see the doors open on the first known home of the GCOL right down the street from Christian churches, antique stores and flower shops.

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The Charismatic Delusion and Discernment Dilemma

JD Hall

Jim Bakker. The name says it all.

The Background

Getting a start on Pat Robertson’s Trinity Broadcasting Network in 1966, Jim Bakker started hosting his own show with wife, Tammy. He showed promise as the producer of a religious variety show, and soon ran off to California to star on the Trinity Broadcasting Network, ran by his former youth “pastors,” Paul and Jan Crouch. They then started the Praise the Lord (PTL) Club and then their own network, the Praise the Lord Network. From the earliest of stages, Bakker’s PTL ministries gained notoriety for accepting and affirming anyone, regardless of their denomination or even their sexual orientation.

Success followed Bakker, as he and Tami started a Christian-themed theme park in South Carolina, Heritage Park USA. Their “ministry” was known for its opulence and high-spending attitudes, making Bakker and his wife glamorous and diamond-crusted. It turns out, some of that luxurious lifestyle was at the expense of integrity and the law. Bakker sold thousand dollar “lifetime memberships” to his “ministry club” which entitled members to time share properties. The problem was, the time shares were bogus, twice as much money was raised than was necessary to build an adequate hotel, but an adequate hotel was never built. The money went towards the PTL luxurious lifestyle and millions of dollars in “bonuses” to Bakker.

Eventually, Bakker would be prosecuted and convicted of eight counts of mail fraud, 15 counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy. He was then sentenced to 45 years in the pen, albeit through a series of legal maneuvers he was out in five.

The story is more tragic than financial mismanagement, in that investigations revealed PTL payed off a woman to the tune of 279k to keep quiet her accusations that Bakker and another evangelist had taken turns raping her. The Assemblies of God then defrocked him. The IRS still holds Bakker liable for personal income taxes for the period during which they revoked the PTL’s tax-exempt status, a total of 6 million dollars which Bakker still pays on. Bakker admits to having read the Bible for the first time through only while in prison; he claimed he only used “proof texts” for the prosperity gospel during his entire time at PTL prior to his incarceration (no kidding, you don’t say).

Bakker is now remarried (to a long-time televangelist) and broadcasts The Jim Bakker Show from Branson, Missouri.

The Present Scandal

What’s Jim Bakker been doing lately? Well, for the last few years Bakker has been fear mongering upon the good folks of the Ozarks, playing upon their fears of civil unrest and selling them “survival supplies.” Yes, that’s right. Bakker has turned in the prosperity gospel for the apocalypse gospel – and it’s just as lucrative.

Demonic Halloween Display Frightening Children In Parma, Ohio

“We just want to do the Halloween fun of it and, you know, but definitely no ill intent, no.”

“… but this is your hour, and the power of darkness.” Luke 23:53 (KJV)

EDITOR’S NOTE: The woman in this story says she had “no ill intent” and was just looking to create some “Halloween fun” when she filled her front yard with lifelike corpses decorated as though that had been gruesomely murdered. And just to let you know who the real “spirit” behind Halloween is, she felt led to display an upside crucifix holding a corpse that had heroin needles sticking out of the victim’s jugular veins. The Devil just couldn’t enjoy himself on his holiday without taking a slap at the Lord Jesus Christ. 

PARMA, Ohio — “I felt scared cause I thought they were real people,” said a young girl. At least one nine-year-old was frightened by a life-like Halloween display less than a block from Dentzler Elementary School she attends in Parma, Ohio. Jackie Anselmo is the child’s mother. She says they noticed the display on the way to school. “Shock. You take a double take because it is a very realistic display.

Almost horrified that somebody would think that it’s ok to put it that close to an elementary school,” Anselmo said. She says her daughter thought they were real bodies. The Parma resident said she and several other neighbors are bothered by how graphic the display is and that its so close to the elementary school. Anselmo was so troubled by it that she took a picture and emailed the city to try to get the display taken down. But, the city says there’s nothing they can do about it because it’s freedom of expression. Vicki Barrett says she and her husband haven’t had any complaints since they put up the display. “We don’t want to scare kids,” Barrett said. “We just want to do the Halloween fun of it and, you know, but definitely no ill intent, no.”


She says she even has a two-year-old and a teenager with special needs and would never do anything to purposely frighten children. “If it’s scaring some kids and we knew they’re having a hard time leaving school, yeah, we may have toned it down. We don’t want to scare kids,” Barrett said. Tone it down or take it down says Anselmo. Her daughter even offered up some suggestions of other Halloween displays. “Like fake plastic sculls or little tiny skeletons or blow up pumpkins.

ISIS Threatens to Execute 180 Syrian Christians

230 Syrian Christians have been held hostage by ISIS since February. They might be closer to their freedom, or they may not be.

“The Islamic State terror group claims it will be executing 180 Assyrian Christians who were kidnapped in mass raids in February, after negotiators failed to meet the jihadists’ high asking price to free the hostages,” the Christian Post reported.

ISIS threatened to execute the hostages if the ransom of $12 million dollars wasn’t received. Apparently, the terror group first demanded $23 million, but lowered the price which was impossible for the Syrian community.

According to Christian Post, “The negotiations, led by Bishop Ephrem Otnaial, head of the Church of the East in Syria, have been suspended due to the unbearable demands of the terror group,” shared the director of the Assyrian Human Rights Network, Osama Edward.

Syrian Catholic Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo said, “Therefore, now, the biggest obstacle regarding the release of our Assyrian brothers is no longer money, but the difficulty of how to organize the phase of liberation.”

The terror group has been consistently mass kidnapping, torturing and killing Syrian Christians including children.

Pray for the release of these hostages.

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Why the Appearance of Design in Biology is Best Explained by the Existence of God (Video)

This video, excerpted from J. Warner Wallace’s presentation of the evidence for God (from his book, God’s Crime Scene), summarizes the case for Gods existence from the appearance of design in biological organisms. What are the reasonable attributes of design we recognize in intelligently created objects? Do these attributes exist in biological organisms, and, if so, what intelligent source is most reasonable as an explanation? For a robust review of the collective case for God’s existence from eight pieces of evidence “inside the room” of the natural universe, please refer to God’s Crime Scene: A Cold-Case Homicide Detective Examines the Evidence for a Divinely Created Universe. (For more information, visit http://www.ColdCaseChristianity.com)

To see more training videos with J. Warner Wallace, visit the YouTube playlist.

How Do I Know I am Saved?

If you claim Christ is your king and you His subject, how is it that He came to occupy the highest place of your affections, that throne atop your heart?

Prior to your redemption, the flesh and Satan quietly possessed your greatest affections, and like the rest, you were Satan’s slave, his vassal.. And since he thus reigned over your heart (and was much stronger than you) how did this transformation to Christ take place? There is no doubt that Satan would have never willingly relinquished his reign of power over you. And you, being under the bondage of your own corrupt nature and Satan’s dominion over you, would not have been willing to simply renounce, nor able to resist the flesh or the Devil’s binding power, since he had taken you captive to do his will (2 Tim 2:26). For the flesh, the world and the Devil were enemies too powerful for you to disarm and had vast superiority in strength over your base affections. You were their plaything, and that, most willingly. You could not untangle yourself nor did you want to, for you loved darkness (John 3:19 ) and most willingly suppressed the truth in unrighteousness (Rom 1:18 ). Mere exterior persuasion did not scratch the surface of your heart.

Pew Forum: “Positive Impact of Pope Francis on Views of the Church, Especially Among Democrats and Liberals”

LTRP Note: The following article by an out of house news source is posted for informational and research purposes and not as a recommendation of the source or the content. by Pew Research Center In the wake of Pope Francis’ visit to the United States, a new Pew Research Center survey finds that the pope […]

A Prayer for Peace Within

Billy Huffman: Two Thieves, Two Ways to Approach God

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5 Things You Need to Know About 21st-Century Small Group Ministry

When we woke up this morning, we woke up to a very different world than our parents lived in. Truth be told, we actually woke up to a rapidly changing culture. As we step deeper into the 21st century, there are some things you need to know about how cultural changes impact small group ministry. Wise leaders will be paying attention as culture changes.

1. Biblical literacy is a distant memory in almost every setting. This reality must be anticipated in leader training, in the design or selection of curriculum, and in the development of the group experience. Continuing to operate as if everyone knows even the people, places and events of the Bible (let alone its meaning) is already the trademark of hopelessly out of touch ministries.

2. The expectation that the church provides something essential is rapidly decreasing. This is an important understanding. All of the research points to the changing belief about the church. Worse than disagreement with beliefs or practices is the sense that the church is irrelevant.

3. “I am a spiritual person” is growing; “I am a Christian” is declining. A correlation noted in The Rise of the Nones and the research that backs up the findings of Barna and many other organizations is that the increasing number of those who indicate no religious affiliation is primarily about the decrease in the number of nominal (or notional) Christians; Christians in name only. This actually may provide some direction for ministries nimble enough to adjust strategy to offer meaning to “spiritual people” (think about Paul’s approach in Acts 17).

4. A Christian worldview is not held by the majority. Beyond biblical illiteracy is the emergence of a competing worldview (or multiple worldviews). The worldview of secular humanism sees virtually everything through a completely different lens. The sanctity of human life, sexual orientation and a biblical understanding of marriage are just three front burner issues where profoundly different beliefs are the products of a vastly different worldview held by an increasing number of people. The practice of assuming “what we all believe” will require a major overhaul in order to reach friends, neighbors, co-workers and even family members who no longer believe what we believe.

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The Bible Is Alive and Active

Western society used to be basically divided between people who (1) respected the Bible as “the truth” but didn’t follow it, (2) believed and followed it devotedly, or (3) rejected it as simply a book of legends and myths. Things are changing.

To begin with, the first group is rapidly declining in size. And the relationship between the second and third group has become charged in a new way. In the past, if you believed in the full authority of the Bible, your skeptical neighbors would have disagreed and explained why they couldn’t accept the Bible, and maybe even laughed at you in private. But they would not have felt the need to examine your ways of understanding and regarding the Bible and loudly ridicule them and try to shame you for them.


Today, as never before, the character of the Bible is publicly attacked as cruel and oppressive and those who uphold the historic view of its truthfulness are seen in the same light. There’s enormous social pressure on Christians today to abandon the historic understanding of the inspiration and authority of the Scripture and the role it should play in our lives.

This is why in September, Redeemer will conduct a short, three-week sermon series on the Christian doctrine of the Word of God. On September 13, 20 and 27, we will consider the reliability, authority, sufficiency and finality of the Bible. Both believers and skeptics are unfamiliar with what the church has historically believed about the Scripture and what the Bible says about itself. Coming to grips with this is always crucial, but in our time it is more important than ever.

We must not, however, be so intent on getting our doctrine of Scripture right that we neglect its proper role in our lives. At Redeemer, we have no desire to swell the ranks of people who believe in the truth of the Bible in principle but do not know its power in our lives. Jesus told the elites of his day that they “understand neither the Scriptures nor the power of God” (Matthew 22:29). Hebrews 4:12 says that the Bible is “alive and active, sharper than any two-edged sword.” How is it alive and powerful? There are many ways, but here are two.

The Word of God is the primary way we come to understand the truth about God. The second of the Ten Commandments forbids the making of images—pictorial representations of the Triune God—for use in worship. Why, we might ask? If pictures and statues of God help you in prayer, why would the commandments forbid them? For centuries, the Protestant church (and especially the Presbyterian and Reformed churches) have argued that it is through the reading and teaching of the Word of God that the Holy Spirit is given free reign to illumine the mind and heart with the truth. Images hijack that truth, and present a pre-digested version of God’s character.

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10 Traits of Healthy Churches

Over the last 15+ years, our Lawless Group team has conducted hundreds of church surveys. Most of the time, the churches with whom we work characterize themselves as “marginally unhealthy” or worse. Occasionally, though, we work with a church that sees themselves as “marginally healthy” or stronger.

Here are some characteristics of those churches:

  1. The preaching is strong.  It’s clear. It’s biblical. The people leave the service knowing ways they can apply the Word to their life the rest of the week. Church members indicate that they learn a lot from the pastor’s preaching.
  2. The worship is God-centered and vibrant. The styles may differ, but the worship is well done. Excellence is an expectation. Connections between the music and the sermon are clear.
  3. Their small groups do outreach.  Every healthy church with whom we’ve worked has some type of small group whose focus is reaching unchurched people.  They choose their best teachers to lead the groups.
  4. They’ve dealt with cliques and divisions.  It’s not that these churches don’t have internal struggles; it’s that they don’t allow early sparks to grow into big fires. They address conflict early on in the process.
  5. They have a clear outward focus. Their members intentionally know non-believers. They provide evangelism training. Members aren’t concerned that there are too many churches in their area; in fact, they welcome new church plants. Their budget reflects dollars spent on others rather than themselves.
  6. They have a recognized strategy for producing disciples. The church has a membership class. They have a plan to disciple children, teens, and adults. Many of the members believe they’re ready to invest in someone else – and they know and understand the church’s disciplemaking strategy.
  7. Prayer is a big deal. These churches do more than have a perfunctory prayer meeting; they actually pray throughout the week. They know prayer needs, and the church keeps members informed about answered prayers. Praying for pastors and missionaries is central to what they do.
  8. They teach members about giving. They don’t assume that believers know about budgeting, giving, tithing, etc.  Instead, they intentionally build giving training into their overall strategy. Stewardship is thus a significant part of discipleship.  (And, by the way, these churches usually give at a higher rate than others).
  9. They have a strong core group, but they also equip and invite others to serve. Long-term members are still critical to the work of the church, but they open the door for new members to serve as well.  These churches genuinely work on setting up the next generation to lead the church into the future.
  10. They believe the Bible. Our survey asks some basic “agree/disagree” doctrinal questions (e.g., “The Bible is the Word of God”). It’s not a surprise to us that the more strongly the church affirms the Word, the closer the church will be to being healthy.

5 Surprising Characteristics of Churches That Are Actually Reaching the Next Generation

Everyone talks about reaching the next generation of young adults.

But what really makes a church effective in reaching the next generation?

I’ve visited a few churches this year that are doing a fantastic job at reaching 18-30 year olds—a vastly under-represented demographic in most churches.

I took notes at all the churches. They all shared surprising characteristics, even though they are incredibly diverse.

The surprise (at least for me)?

It wasn’t their model that made them effective. The churches I studied have different models.

It wasn’t their denomination. One was Roman Catholic and attracting tons of young families. Others were cutting edge conservative evangelical church plants.

It wasn’t their facility. Some were portable. Some were permanent.

In many ways, these churches are bending the rule book established by the megachurches of the ’90s and 2000s.

Here are five things I’ve seen in churches that are killing it with people in their 20s and 30s:

1. Passion over Polish

If you attend enough conferences, you can think that you need polish to pull off effective ministry. Another $50,000 in lights or sound and you’ll be good.

The effective churches I’ve visited and seen recently by no means had the best lights, stage or production. Some had almost no stage and no lights, while others had a pretty decent package, but not nearly the level you see at some churches.

What did they all have in common? Passion.

When it comes to reaching the next generation, passion beats polish.

It’s not that polish is bad, but I think it’s increasingly trumped by a raw authenticity that exudes from leaders who will do whatever it takes to reach people with the Gospel.

Smaller facilities and stage sets were more than compensated for by preachers, worship leaders and team members who exuded passion for the mission.

2. Jesus over God

This may seem either self-evident or trivial, but I believe it’s neither; the churches that were packed with young adults talk about Jesus more than they talk about God.

Of course, Jesus is God and God is Jesus.

But God can mean many things in our post-Christian culture. Jesus is far more specific.

I’ve noticed that churches that talk about Jesus and the Holy Spirit are having a greater impact on young adults than churches who talk about God.

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Entertainment Fatigue—Are People Tired of the Church’s Glitzy Stage?

When a local church creates a culture of entertainment in an attempt to build a congregation, it will only be a matter of time before they begin to experience the negative consequences that emphasis will bring.

Over the past number of years, I have observed that when a church centers their congregational structure on an entertainment model of ministry, where the Sunday morning service is organized in much the same way as a concert would be—including set lists, lighting design and stage presentation—the consistent result has been the creation of an ethos of entertainment that eventually permeates throughout the entire congregation.


The consequence of creating an entertainment-based church culture is that ministry practitioners are often seen to be the stars of the show, while those in the seats tend to view themselves as paying customers, waiting to be entertained. Yet, as Cheryl Bridges Johns said recently,“Those big stages and flashy lights have a way of honoring the wrong presence.”

An entertainment-based church culture sees its ministry practitioners as the stars of the show.

What will inevitably happen over time is that people will start to determine their attendance on the quality of the production, on what songs are chosen and how those in leadership make them feel, resulting in the cultivation of a consumerist-based mindset. However, as Alan Hirsch has so aptly observed, “you cannot build a church on consumers.”

The Effects of a Culture of Entertainment

When our church gatherings focus on how we can entertain the masses in order to create and maintain high attendance numbers, we know we have veered off course.

When a church’s operating budget is consumed with the costs associated with trying to entertain the masses, we can be confident in saying we have missed the mark.

Living on a diet of entertainment is like feeding on candy—it may satisfy our sweet tooth, but we will soon become hungry for something more. A consistent diet of candy may taste good for a while, but will quickly lead to malnourishment. Over time, we will become pale, weak and unable to contribute.

Likewise, when we feed the church a consistent diet of entertainment, those feasting on our Christianized-candy will eventually become malnourished, weak and unable to contribute to the life of the body. As a result, their presence will add pressure on the remaining parts of the body because sugar-fed Christians always require more time and resources than well-fed Christians ever will.

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There’s more to the doctrines of grace than THE doctrines of grace

Just as there’s more to Calvinism than the five points of Calvinism, so there’s more to the doctrines of grace than THE doctrines of grace.  Or, to put it another way, there are many more doctrines of grace than just the five associated with the five points of Calvinism.

In fact, I would argue that every doctrine is a doctrine of grace; every truth of God is an expression and demonstration of the grace of God.

The doctrine of creation is a doctrine of grace. That God created the world is an act of sheer grace. The Westminster Confession of Faith puts it simply: “It pleased God” to create the world and everything in it (WCF 4.1). He didn’t need the world, He didn’t need us, and yet He made a world and He made us. And what a world He made, and what a humanity He made. The whole earth is full of His glory. Yes, but it is also full of His grace.

The doctrine of providence is a doctrine of grace. God could have made everything and then walked away. But He didn’t, not even after sin entered into the world. God not only made the world but graciously sustains it, provides for it, and governs it, and all His creatures. He makes the sun to shine and the rain to fall on the righteous and the unrighteous. And He’s working all things together for the good of His people. Is that not a doctrine of grace?

The doctrine of revelation is a doctrine of grace. God has not only blessed us with general revelation but with special revelation. He could have hidden Himself and left us to grope in the dark. But, instead He has given us a full and sufficient a saving revelation of Himself in His inspired and inerrant Word. The Westminster Confession of Faith again traces it all back to “It pleased God…” (WCF 1.1).

I could go on and on: the grace of justification, the grace of adoption, the grace of sanctification, the grace of assurance, the grace of the sacraments, the grace of repentance, and so on. See how many doctrines of grace there are? And we haven’t yet touched the THE doctrines of grace. There are way more doctrines of grace than THE doctrines of grace.

Fall Wallpaper (Romans 8:31-32)

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:31-32)

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Did the Early Church Believe in Transubstantiation?

Today’s post is intended to answer an important question from a historical standpoint. However, it ought to be stated at the outset that Scripture must be our final authority in the determination of sound doctrine and right practice.last_supper

The word “eucharist” means “thanksgiving” and was an early Christian way of referring to the celebration of the Lord’s Table. Believers in the early centuries of church history regularly celebrated the Lord’s Table as a way to commemorate the death of Christ. The Lord Himself commanded this observance on the night before His death. As the apostle Paul recorded in 1 Corinthians 11:23–26:

For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.

In discussing the Lord’s Table from the perspective of church history, at least two important questions arise. First, did the early church believe that the elements (the bread and the cup) were actually and literally transformed into the physical body and blood of Christ? In other words, did they articulate the doctrine of transubstantiation as modern Roman Catholics do? Second, did early Christians view the eucharist as a propitiatory sacrifice? Or put another way, did they view it in the terms articulated by the sixteenth-century Council of Trent?

In today’s post, we will address the first of those two questions.

Did the Early Church Fathers Hold to Transubstantiation?

Transubstantiation is the Roman Catholic teaching that in the eucharist, the bread and the cup are transformed into the literal body and blood of Christ. Here are several quotes from the church fathers, often cited by Roman Catholics, in defense of their claim that the early church embraced transubstantiation.

Ignatius of Antioch (d. c. 110): “Take note of those who hold heterodox opinions on the grace of Jesus Christ which has come to us, and see how contrary their opinions are to the mind of God.   . . . They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins and which that Father, in his goodness, raised up again. They who deny the gift of God are perishing in their disputes” (Letter to the Smyrnaeans 6:2–7:1).

Irenaeus (d. 202): “He took from among creation that which is bread, and gave thanks, saying, ‘This is my body.’ The cup likewise, which is from among the creation to which we belong, he confessed to be his blood” (Against Heresies, 4:17:5).

Irenaeus again: “He has declared the cup, a part of creation, to be his own blood, from which he causes our blood to flow; and the bread, a part of creation, he has established as his own body, from which he gives increase unto our bodies. When, therefore, the mixed cup [wine and water] and the baked bread receives the Word of God and becomes the Eucharist, the body of Christ, and from these the substance of our flesh is increased and supported, how can they say that the flesh is not capable of receiving the gift of God, which is eternal life—flesh which is nourished by the body and blood of the Lord, and is in fact a member of him?” (Against Heresies, 5:2).

Tertullian (160–225): “[T]he flesh feeds on the body and blood of Christ, that the soul likewise may be filled with God” (The Resurrection of the Dead).

Origen (182–254): “Formerly, in an obscure way, there was manna for food; now, however, in full view, there is the true food, the flesh of the Word of God, as he himself says: ‘My flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink’” (Homilies on Numbers, 7:2).

Augustine (354–430): “I promised you [new Christians], who have now been baptized, a sermon in which I would explain the sacrament of the Lord’s Table. . . . That bread which you see on the altar, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the body of Christ. That chalice, or rather, what is in that chalice, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the blood of Christ” (Sermons 227).

How should we think about such statements?

Obviously, there is no disputing the fact that the patristic authors made statements like, “The bread is the body of Christ” and “The cup is the blood of Christ.” But there is a question of exactly what they meant when they used that language. After all, the Lord Himself said, “This is My body” and “This is My blood.” So it is not surprising that the early fathers echoed those very words.

But what did they mean when they used the language of Christ to describe the Lord’s Table? Did they intend the elements to be viewed as Christ’s literal flesh and blood? Or did they see the elements as symbols and figures of those physical realities?

In answering such questions, at least two things ought to be kept in mind:

* * * * *

1. We ought to interpret the church fathers’ statements within their historical context.

Such is especially true with regard to the quotes cited above from Ignatius and Irenaeus. During their ministries, both men found themselves contending against the theological error of docetism (a component of Gnostic teaching), which taught that all matter was evil. Consequently, docetism denied that Jesus possessed a real physical body. It was against this false teaching that the apostle John declared, “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist” (2 John 7).

In order to combat the false notions of docetism, Ignatius and Irenaeus echoed the language Christ used at the Last Supper (paraphrasing His words, “This is My body” and “This is My blood”). Such provided a highly effective argument against docetic heresies, since our Lord’s words underscore the fact that He possessed a real, physical body.

A generation after Irenaeus, Tertullian (160–225) used the same arguments against the Gnostic heretic Marcion. However, Tertullian provided more information into how the eucharistic elements ought to be understood. Tertullian wrote:

“Having taken the bread and given it to His disciples, Jesus made it His own body, by saying, ‘This is My body,’ that is, the symbol of My body. There could not have been a symbol, however, unless there was first a true body. An empty thing or phantom is incapable of a symbol. He likewise, when mentioning the cup and making the new covenant to be sealed ‘in His blood,’ affirms the reality of His body. For no blood can belong to a body that is not a body of flesh” (Against Marcion, 4.40).

Tertullian’s explanation could not be clearer. On the one hand, he based his argument against Gnostic docetism on the words of Christ, “This is My body.” On the other hand, Tertullian recognized that the elements themselves ought to be understood as symbols which represent the reality of Christ’s physical body. Because of the reality they represented, they provided a compelling refutation of docetic error.

Based on Tertullian’s explanation, we have good reason to view the words of Ignatius and Irenaeus in that same light.

* * * * *

2. We ought to allow the church fathers to clarify their understanding of the Lord’s Table.

We have already seen how Tertullian clarified his understanding of the Lord’s Table by noting that the bread and the cup were symbols of Christ’s body and blood. In that same vein, we find that many of the church fathers similarly clarified their understanding of the eucharist by describing it in symbolic and spiritual terms.

At times, they echoed the language of Christ (e.g. “This is My body” and “This is My blood”) when describing the Lord’s Table. Yet, in other places, it becomes clear that they intended this language to be ultimately understood in spiritual and symbolic terms. Here are a number of examples that demonstrate this point:

The Didache, written in the late-first or early-second century, referred to the elements of the Lord’s table as “spiritual food and drink” (The Didache, 9). The long passage detailing the Lord’s Table in this early Christian document gives no hint of transubstantiation whatsoever.

Justin Martyr (110–165) spoke of “the bread which our Christ gave us to offer in remembrance of the Body which He assumed for the sake of those who believe in Him, for whom He also suffered, and also to the cup which He taught us to offer in the Eucharist, in commemoration of His blood(Dialogue with Trypho, 70).

Clement of Alexandria explained that, “The Scripture, accordingly, has named wine the symbol of the sacred blood” (The Instructor, 2.2).

Origen similarly noted, “We have a symbol of gratitude to God in the bread which we call the Eucharist” (Against Celsus, 8.57).

Cyprian (200–258), who sometimes described the eucharist using very literal language, spoke against any who might use mere water for their celebration of the Lord’s Table. In condemning such practices, he explained that the cup of the Lord is a representation of the blood of Christ: “I marvel much whence this practice has arisen, that in some places, contrary to Evangelical and Apostolic discipline, water is offered in the Cup of the Lord, which alone cannot represent the Blood of Christ” (Epistle 63.7).

Eusebius of Caesarea (263–340) espoused a symbolic view in his Proof of the Gospel:

For with the wine which was indeed the symbol of His blood, He cleanses them that are baptized into His death, and believe on His blood, of their old sins, washing them away and purifying their old garments and vesture, so that they, ransomed by the precious blood of the divine spiritual grapes, and with the wine from this vine, “put off the old man with his deeds, and put on the new man which is renewed into knowledge in the image of Him that created him.” . . . He gave to His disciples, when He said, “Take, drink; this is my blood that is shed for you for the remission of sins: this do in remembrance of me.” And, “His teeth are white as milk,” show the brightness and purity of the sacramental food. For again, He gave Himself the symbols of His divine dispensation to His disciples, when He bade them make the likeness of His own Body. For since He no more was to take pleasure in bloody sacrifices, or those ordained by Moses in the slaughter of animals of various kinds, and was to give them bread to use as the symbol of His Body, He taught the purity and brightness of such food by saying, “And his teeth are white as milk” (Demonstratia Evangelica, 8.1.76–80).

Athanasius (296–373) similarly contended that the elements of the Eucharist are to be understood spiritually, not physically: “[W]hat He says is not fleshly but spiritual. For how many would the body suffice for eating, that it should become the food for the whole world? But for this reason He made mention of the ascension of the Son of Man into heaven, in order that He might draw them away from the bodily notion, and that from henceforth they might learn that the aforesaid flesh was heavenly eating from above and spiritual food given by Him.” (Festal Letter, 4.19)

Augustine (354–430), also, clarified that the Lord’s Table was to be understood in spiritual terms: “Understand spiritually what I said; you are not to eat this body which you see; nor to drink that blood which they who will crucify me shall pour forth. . . . Although it is needful that this be visibly celebrated, yet it must be spiritually understood” (Exposition of the Psalms, 99.8).

He also explained the eucharistic elements as symbols. Speaking of Christ, Augustine noted: “He committed and delivered to His disciples the figure [or symbol] of His Body and Blood.” (Exposition of the Psalms, 3.1).

And in another place, quoting the Lord Jesus, Augustine further explained: “‘Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man,’ says Christ, ‘and drink His blood, ye have no life in you.’ This seems to enjoin a crime or a vice; it is therefore a figure [or symbol], enjoining that we should have a share in the sufferings of our Lord, and that we should retain a sweet and profitable memory of the fact that His flesh was wounded and crucified for us (On Christian Doctrine, 3.16.24).

A number of similar quotations from the church fathers could be given to make the point that—at least for many of the fathers—the elements of the eucharist were ultimately understood in symbolic or spiritual terms. In other words, they did not hold to the Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation.

To be sure, they often reiterated the language of Christ when He said, “This is My body” and “This is My blood.” They especially used such language in defending the reality of His incarnation against Gnostic, docetic heretics who denied the reality of Christ’s physical body.

At the same time, however, they clarified their understanding of the Lord’s Table by further explaining that they ultimately recognized the elements of the Lord’s Table to be symbols—figures which represented and commemorated the physical reality of our Lord’s body and blood.

  • Those looking to read more on this subject might be interested in William Webster’s helpful treatment, which can be found here

A Renewed Mind, a Transformed Life

Here’s an excerpt from A Renewed Mind, a Transformed Life, Chris Larson’s contribution to the October issue of Tabletalk:

The renewed mind is marked by a reliance on the Bible, the only infallible rule for faith and practice. Through the light of Scripture, we begin to understand God’s holy character and realize our sinfulness. We begin to understand all that was lost in Eden, and discover why we long to return from exile to the Father’s fellowship. That leads us to look with joy to the redemption found only in the Lord Jesus Christ. Peace with God is now possible. Being found in Christ, living by His revealed Word, brings true human dignity and liberty. A renewed mind leads to a transformed life.

Continue reading A Renewed Mind, a Transformed Life, or begin receiving Tabletalk magazine by signing up for a free 3 month trial.

Overcoming Insecurity: God’s Surprising Solution

As a shy, awkward twelve-year-old, I took the brunt of jeers and insults from my peers nearly every day of the week. I dreaded the bus ride to school far more than getting shots at the doctor or having my braces tightened. Every day I was reminded that I didn’t have the right clothes, hair, or lingo. My peers noticed everything that wasn’t right about me and were constantly telling me how worthless I was. I was not attractive or confident like the popular girls. And every put-down that was hurled my direction only made me more withdrawn and insecure.

When we make feeling good about ourselves a focal point, we take our eyes off Christ and become wrapped up in self.

I often came home from school crying and miserable, convinced that my life was of very little value. My parents tried to comfort me and remind me of my value to God and my family, but my self-image was so low that I wasn’t able to receive their words of encouragement. I was riddled with self-doubt and insecurity.

Over the next few years, things began to change. Instead of being awkward and unpopular, I learned how to transform myself into the picture of female allure that the culture applauded. I observed the girls at school who seemed to get all the positive attention from boys, and I began to imitate them. I dressed and carried myself in a provocative way and gradually became skilled at flirting and sensuality.

But despite my veneer of confidence, I was no less insecure and miserable than I’d been during my younger years. My outward charm was merely a cover-up for my inner self-doubt. And no matter how much male attention or popularity I achieved, inwardly I never felt like I truly measured up. All I had to do was glance at the magazine covers in the grocery store check-out line to realize how far from the world’s standard for beauty I was.

Inner Beauty—a False Solution

It was around this time that I began to hear a message that promised to solve all my insecurity woes and finally give me the sense of confidence and purpose I craved—finding my own “inner beauty.” Teachers, Christian leaders, and commercials all exhorted me to “look inside and discover all the beauty you possess within!”

When we let self fade into the background and become consumed with Jesus Christ, our insecurities will melt away.

Yet no matter how hard I tried to “find my own inner beauty,” it just didn’t seem to work. When I looked at my life, I only saw my mistakes and shortcomings. Eventually I began to realize that if I was ever going to gain freedom over the compromise and insecurity that had been controlling my life, I needed something far more powerful than anything I possessed inside myself. Finding my own “inner beauty” wasn’t enough. I needed to look beyond myself for answers.

Then I discovered what it meant to completely surrender my life to Jesus Christ and let Him take over every aspect. And that was when I finally gained the freedom, hope, and confidence I had been desperately seeking. True freedom didn’t come through self-realization but through self-denial. Confidence and joy flowed into my life not when I learned to appreciate my own unique qualities but when I encountered the cross of Jesus Christ and let it transform every part of my existence.

Exchanging Self-Confidence for Christ-Confidence

Insecurity is a struggle that countless women today can relate to. Whether you were ridiculed in childhood by peers or family members, used and abused by men, or simply influenced by the impossible standards of Hollywood, you’ve probably been affected by the “you’re-not-good-enough” message in one way or another.

But contrary to what we often believe, learning how to feel good about ourselves is not the solution to overcoming insecurity.

Yes, it is important to understand how precious we are in God’s sight—so valuable, in fact, that He gave His only Son to rescue us. We should value our lives because we are made in the image of God; we are His creation. His love for us is truly unfathomable. And as Christian women, we are daughters of the King, redeemed and made into royalty through the work of the cross. Yet when we make feeling good about ourselves a focal point, we take our eyes off Christ and become wrapped up in self.

Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23), and “he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me” (Matt. 10:38).

To “deny ourselves” according to the biblical pattern literally means to lose sight of ourselves and our own interests. We will only gain lasting security when we look away from ourselves and toward Jesus Christ. The question “who am I?” is not nearly as important as the question “who is He?”

The only real beauty or merit we can ever have is Jesus Christ’s.

It may seem hard to believe that self-denial, rather than self-esteem, could be the solution to insecurity. But when we let self fade into the background and become consumed with Jesus Christ, our insecurities will melt away. We no longer look to ourselves—our own merit, talent, beauty, or uniqueness—to find confidence. Instead, we learn to find our confidence in who He is rather than in who we are.

Charles Spurgeon said, “If a soul has any beauty, it is because Christ has endowed that soul with His own, for in ourselves we are deformed and defiled! There is no beauty in any of us but what our Lord has worked in us.”

Many of us have been told that we all have beauty within us and that if we could only discover our own beauty we would be confident and happy. But the reality is, as Spurgeon so straightforwardly put it, we do not possess any beauty or goodness of our own accord (see Ps. 14:316:2; 53:3). The only real beauty or merit we can ever have is Jesus Christ’s.

Do you struggle with insecurity? Don’t become distracted with trying to build up your own self-confidence. Instead turn your life wholly and completely over to the only Author of all that is lovely and pure, and let His divine radiance come cascading through you. Then you will glow with a heavenly beauty that will never fade away and gain a Christ-centered confidence that cannot be shaken.

Nine Rapid Changes in Church Worship Services – Rainer on Leadership Classic Episode

Classic Episode

SUBSCRIBE: iTunes • RSS • Stitcher • TuneIn Radio

This week, Jonathan is on vacation, and I am in the Rocky Mountains at a speaking engagement. So we bring to you a classic episode of Rainer on Leadership on rapid changes in church worship services. We will be back with new episodes next week.

Some highlights from today’s episode include:

  • Hymnals are still alive, but screens are everywhere in churches.
  • Multi is now normal—multi-venue, multi-site, multi-service, multi-lingual, multi-campus, and more.
  • Our church services are more diverse because our neighborhoods and communities are more diverse.
  • Worship wars used to be the primary source of conflict in the church, but they have begun to subside.
  • People have a greater exposure to different types of worship styles now than in the past.

The nine rapid changes in church worship services we discuss today are:

  1. Choirs are disappearing. 
  2. Dress is more casual.
  3. Screens are pervasive.
  4. Preaching is longer.
  5. “Multi” is normative.
  6. Attendees are more diverse.
  7. Conflict is not increasing.
  8. More worship attendees are attending larger churches.
  9. Sunday evening services are disappearing.


The post Nine Rapid Changes in Church Worship Services – Rainer on Leadership Classic Episode appeared first on ThomRainer.com.

What We Mean by ‘Mine’

Is the mission of the Church dealing with culture, or saving souls? We’ll tackle this question head-on. Listen Now | Download

God meets you in the valley


I’ve never been a big believer in the idea that the Christian life is to be moving from one spiritual/emotional moment of joy and “feeling” of God’s presence to another, in ever increasing degrees. “Mountaintop” Christianity doesn’t really seem to work—if for no other reason than it doesn’t see the value of the valleys.

They’re something to be glossed over, or moved through quickly. We pretend they don’t exist, whenever possible. They’re the “rock bottom moment” in our testimonies, but after that, Christianity is all rise (like a good mixtape). And when we find someone who has been stuck in one for a significant period of time—and maybe that person is us—we don’t know what to do. So how about this?

While the mountaintops are nice, we need to remember that God meets us in the valley, too. He isn’t waiting for us to pick ourselves up by our spiritual bootstraps, dust ourselves off, and climb up to him. He comes down to us. Wherever we are, in whatever situation we find ourselves in, he is there. He is not absent, despite how we might feel.

Maybe you’re feeling this right now, dear reader. Maybe you’re in a season where you feel weary, despairing or simply stuck. If you are, I want you to know: you are not alone. Whether you feel like he is or not, God is there with you now. God is the comforter of the downcast (2 Corinthians 7:6). He hears the cry of the afflicted (Psalm 10:17). No matter what your heart tells you right now, he will never, ever abandon you (Hebrews 13:5). He will meet you in the valley, and someday the darkness will lift.

The 20 Most Important Quotes from “Help My Unbelief”

The following quotes are the ones I see as most indicative of the message and tone of my book, Help My Unbelief: Why Doubt is not The Enemy of FaithI hope some of them pique your interest, strike a nerve, or rattle your brain and heart a bit.

“I believe; help my unbelief. That simple sentence is the key to the struggles, the ups and downs, the winding road of belief. In a breath he expressed the highest of heights, the strength of virtue, the emptiness of doubt, and the yearning for something on to which he could hold.”

“Christians who don’t know the tension of “I believe; help my unbelief” might not be Christians at all, or at the least they might be very infantile ones. Our faith is one of brutal tensions. Not everyone can express this, but every Christian knows it. We feel it in our guts.”

“God does not fit the world as western thinkers have shaped it. He does not fit the processes and grids of theory, evidence, and proof. So He is relegated to those second tier statuses of religious tradition, personal values, and vague spirituality. The God of the Bible, though, will not be relegated to anything. He is the omnipotent creator of all, including all those who are doing the relegating.”

“What the Bible reveals of God is precisely what God wanted revealed of Himself, no more and no less. But it isn’t everything about Him. Scripture raises as many questions as it answers.”

“God is infinite, beyond our understanding, and He chose to reveal Himself to us in a way that sparks questions rather than settles all of them. God did not want us to have easy instructions and simple answers. He didn’t want us to be able to understand Him so well that we could package Him, wrap Him up, and put a bow on Him.”


“Much of belief is asking.”

“Questions indicate belief only if you actually want an answer.”

“Asking well also means knowing when to lay our questions down.”

“Jesus, more than anyone in history, knew God’s character and power and goodness. Yet still He asked. And Jesus, more than you, more than me, more than everyone, felt the weight of suffering and pain and doubt because He actually felt the weight of everyone’s suffering and pain and doubt. Yet still He believed. He is the perfect example of questioning in faith.”

“When our questions begin to undermine commitment to God, that is unbelief.”

“Often the intellectual obstacle to belief is a convenient excuse for rebellion.”

“If a demon can ‘believe’ in God, what does that mean for my belief?”

“I wasn’t trying to be hypocritical; I was blinded by the truth I knew. I had fooled myself into thinking I was living by faith in God, when instead I was living a life shaped by knowledge of Him. And those are very different things.”

“By all means, study God’s Word. But don’t do so to collect knowledge. Do so to know Him.”

“When we are in relationship with God, His Word becomes more than a book; it becomes alive. It becomes personal.”

“Like a bucket being filled by a dripping faucet, I found myself getting filled up with a real Jesus, one I hadn’t known before. I read the Word and met the Word. When something like this happens, no longer is the Bible just a lengthy book of many words; it is alive. It speaks. And it reads us as we read it.”

“The finite lives within the infinite and cannot grasp the extent of it because the infinite has no extent at all. We can grasp only those things that have limits. Trying to understand the infinite is like trying to reach the end of a road that has no end; it isn’t even logically feasible.”

“We forget God until we are at wit’s end, then we cry out for help. We don’t need Him at work. We don’t need Him at school. We don’t need Him anywhere. Until we do. Then we seek to summon Him from on high or wherever it is that He waits until we beckon.”

“Simply put, the church is not comfortable presenting an answer of ‘We don’t know.’”

“We cannot drive God’s love away with our badness. In fact, the greatest sign of His steadfast love is the very means of paying for our badness and doing away with it—Jesus Christ.”

Words of Comfort: Christ or the world.

“A whole new generation of Christians has come up believing that it is possible to ‘accept’ Christ without forsaking the world.” A.W. Tozer

I Need Thee Every Hour

I Need Thee Every HourOne of the sweetest refrains in English Christian hymnody is this:

I need Thee, O I need Thee; Every hour I need Thee; O bless me now, my Savior, I come to Thee.

Thank God for Annie S. Hawks who wrote these lyrics and her pastor, Robert Lowry, who composed the music. The lyrics could hardly be simpler, and yet they capture one of our heart’s most profound longings and can be prayed in the sweetest, most sorrowful, or most mundane moments in life. The prosody of the music, the way the melody and meter aligns with the wording, could hardly be more perfect.

But it is not the skill of the hymn’s construction that makes it so powerful. It is the colossal truth it so beautifully expresses.

O I Need Thee!

We need God.

It is not until we feel in the depths of our souls our utter poverty without Christ, our bankruptcy of any inherent righteousness, the impotence of our own strength and self-sufficient planning, our inconsolable loneliness when we are out of fellowship with God, the pathetic pretentiousness of our pathological pride, the hollow emptiness of all the godless gain of the world, our utter helplessness in the face of personal, institutional, cosmic, and molecular evil, that we know just how much we need God.

Every Hour I Need Thee!

Yes, we need to feel our need. Where real need is not felt, there is rarely any real praying. When Paul tells us to keep “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication . . . for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18), it’s in the context of grasping the nature of the war we’re in and our helplessness without God in the face of the overwhelming power of our enemy.

When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, Jesus gave them the Lord’s prayer as a sort of prayer template or structure (Luke 11:1–4). But in Acts 4:24–31, we see a prayerful exposition of “your kingdom come.” Those early Christians felt their desperate situation in the face of potentially lethal threats and cried out to God. And God answered, just as he promised:

“Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me” (Psalm 50:15).

Desperation drove our ancient brothers and sisters to prayer and it’s what drives us to prayer too. Our places of desperation are the places of God’s revelation of his power (2 Corinthians 12:8).

Need drives us to prayer, and our need is great. We need God every hour and we need him to show us this level of need. If we’re not really praying, we must plead with God to teach us. And his answer likely will not be a new method but a heightened awareness of our desperate need. And when he does this for us it is a priceless gift to us. It is key to not wasting our lives. An unceasing awareness of our need leads to unceasing prayer. And the constant practice of praying will teach us the methods of prayer most helpful to us. And constant prayer leads to new breakthroughs.

O Bless Me Now, My Savior

“Come to me,” Jesus says to us, “all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Jesus calls the desperate and burdened. He calls the sin-sick (Mark 2:17). These are the ones who know their need.

When we really come to Christ, we find in him all the rest and all the forgiveness for our sin-infected burdens that we need. In Christ is all our provision (Philippians 4:19). In Christ is all our wealth (Ephesians 3:8). In Christ is all our righteousness (Philippians 3:9). Through Christ comes the abounding grace (2 Corinthians 9:8), not of mere talk but of real power (1 Corinthians 4:20). Through Christ we draw near to God and he draws near to us and we are never alone (James 4:8; Hebrews 13:5). In Christ we discover the unexpected and exalted joy of loving, servant-hearted humility (Philippians 2:3–11), knowing Christ is our greatest gain (Philippians 3:7–8), and in the power of Christ all evil at every level will be overcome and destroyed (Romans 16:20; Hebrews 2:14; Philippians 2:11).

All the blessings of God the Father come through Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.

I Come to Thee

When we feel deeply our need, not merely know it abstractly, we come to Christ. We come asking, seeking, knocking (Luke 11:9). We come alone and we come together. And we come continually, because we know we must abide in Christ our Vine or we won’t be able to do anything (John 15:5).

So let us come to Christ. Let us cry out to show us our need. Let us go to him for all our needs. And let us allow Annie Hawks and Robert Lowry to lead us in singing before the throne of grace this prayer that glorifies our triune God:

         I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord;
         No tender voice like Thine can peace afford.

         I need Thee every hour, stay Thou nearby;
         Temptations lose their power when Thou art nigh.

         I need Thee every hour, in joy or pain;
         Come quickly and abide, or life is in vain.

         I need Thee every hour; teach me Thy will; 
         And Thy rich promises in me fulfill.

         I need Thee every hour, most Holy One; 
         O make me Thine indeed, Thou blessèd Son.

         I need Thee, O I need Thee; 
         Every hour I need Thee; 
         O bless me now, my Savior, 
         I come to Thee.

A modern version of the hymn is provided by Indelible Grace and lyrics by Annie S. Hawks.

Related Articles

Check out


Let the Children Come to Jesus | Credo Mag
The latest issue of online publication, Credo Mag, deals with children’s ministry.

What I learned from my gay co-worker | TGC
With so many Christians in similar positions every day, here’s an encouraging approach that has yielded positive results.

Books for Building Great Sentences | Tony Reinke
Advice for writers with some enticing book recommendations.

“So” is the new “Um” | Decker Communications
Find out what your fillers are. You can’t change a habit until you realize it’s there. Record a voicemail to yourself and then play it back. Take notes on what fillers you hear. Common fillers to watch for: “like,” “just,” “um,” “uh,” “actually,” “you know,” “honestly,” “literally,” and – of course – “so.”

America’s Growing Pessimism | The Atlantic
Americans are positive about the digital revolution and racial/ethnic diversity. But they’re negative about the education system, the rising number of seniors, big business, and political incompetence.

Biblical Counselors And State Regulations | BCC: Ed Welch

Recommended New Book

Transforming Homosexuality: What the Bible Says about Sexual Orientation and Change by Denny Burk and Heath Lambert. Such an important book for pastors.

Kindle Books

Keeping the Ten Commandments by J I Packer $2.99.

The Atonement by John Murray $0.99.

God’s Battalions by Rodney Stark $4.99. In God’s Battalions, distinguished scholar Rodney Stark argue that the Crusades were a justified war waged against Muslim terror and aggression.


J I Packer Interview
Here’s a good way to spend 15 minutes. Subjects covered include, cultivating Awe, Christian meditation and knowing Christ. See Mark’s new book, Knowing Christ.

Links I like

Kindle deals for Christian readers

Google’s craziest offices

Personally, I think the hammock office in Zurich could be pretty rad to work in.

What I Learned from My Gay Co-Worker

Gaye Clark:

One day, as several of us sat in the break room together, the television news blared out a story about a hate crime. The victim, a gay man, had been brutally beaten and murdered. Mark glanced around the room, then looked down and shook his head.

At that moment, a vague unease about my normal no-comment stance prompted me to pray, Lord, if you want me to speak, make it perfectly clear what I’m supposed to say. Amen.

One millisecond later, another co-worker, Emily pointed to the television and asked, What do you make of that, Gaye? Is that a hate crime?

Mark’s grin had vanished.

Emily pressed me for an answer.

Refuting 5 False Theories About Jesus

Kyle Dillon:

For the past few weeks I’ve been discussing this question with my high school theology class. Although most of my students have been brought up in the church, I know they’re going to face challenges to their faith when they go off to college. Many will hear jarring claims from classmates and professors about the “real” Jesus—claims contradictory to the church’s confession of Jesus as the risen Son of God.

So I want my students to be prepared. I want them to know these claims have been around for a long time, as have Christian responses. Despite what many critical scholars claim, there is no contradiction between the “Jesus of history” and the “Christ of faith.” In fact, studying Jesus as a historical figure can often strengthen faith. But that requires honestly engaging the critics and evaluating their claims.

The Value in Teaching the Bible in Prison

Jerome Copulsky:

I’m a professor of philosophy and religious studies, but on this night, my classroom sits behind the walls. I’m teaching at the Maryland Correctional Institution at Jessup as part of the Goucher Prison Education Partnership.

Back in August, the Department of Education announced the Second Chance Pell Pilot program, which provides a waver of the 20-year ban on providing federal funding to prisoners, and highlighted the Goucher Prison Education Partnership. The newly announced program is an “experiment,” as the department calls it, modestly seeks “to test whether participation in high-quality educational opportunities increases after access to financial aid for incarcerated adults is expanded.”

Being a multi-generational church

Won S. Kwak:

The Scriptures aptly describe the church as God’s family made up of members who fulfill roles within this family. Vital for a family’s health is a proper understanding of mutual submission and authority and responsibility and accountability, with sacrificial love as the relational bond-thread that weaves through and joins people together as family.

Such biblical principles are what provide the family with structure, order, and even an ethic. When the household of God actively repents of (turns from) the sins of selfish ambition and vain conceit and actively pursues love and care for one another cross-generationally, a beautiful gospel prism emerges that displays the broad and diverse spectrum of God’s people. This living, breathing amalgam of gender, class, generations, ethnicity, and affinities will not only reflect the unifying results of the gospel, it will also communicate the barrier-breaking power of the gospel.

A La Carte (October 13)

Today’s Kindle deals include Discovering the God Who Is by R.C. Sproul ($2.99); The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer ($1.99); A Portrait of Paul by Rob Ventura & Jeremy Walker ($3.99); Planting, Watering, Growing by Daniel Hyde ($2.99); What Is a Reformed Church? by Malcolm Watts ($1.99); Jesus in Trinitarian Perspective by Fred Sanders ($2.99); The 11 Secrets of Getting Published by Mary DeMuth ($2.99).

Five Strategies for Daily Bible Reading

It always surprises me that something so simple can be so difficult. Yet, in my experience, it really is. Here are some strategies to help with your daily Bible reading.

Accessing Maturity

Collin Marshall explains an important link: the link between spiritual maturity and spiritual discernment.

Idolatry: A Fatal Attraction

We all struggle with idolatry in one form or another. In this article, Brad Andrews helps you take the first step in diagnosing your idolatry.

Crisis for Pope Francis

The Spectator: “A group of cardinals – including some of the most powerful figures in the Catholic Church – have written to Pope Francis telling him that his Synod on the Family, now meeting in Rome, has gone badly off the rails and could cause the church to collapse.”

This Day in 1605. Theodore Beza died. Beza was a French-born theologian, who had been widely recognized as John Calvin’s successor. *

Using Technology Wisely

Facts and Trends asked me to write an article about using technology wisely. I wrote about the importance of technology in fulfilling God’s calling on our lives.

South Korea’s Rock Star Teachers

Why do South Korea’s teachers get treated like rock stars? WORLD looks at a new documentary and explains.

Evernote, the First Dead Unicorn

I’m a big fan of Evernote, so hope this article proves false. But it’s a good read nonetheless.

Christian Headlines Daily – Tuesday, October 13, 2015


Top Headlines

Amish Family Wins Court Battle over Daughter’s Cancer Treatment

New California Law: Pregnancy Centers Must Provide Abortion Information

The Islamic State Threatens to Execute 180 Assyrian Christians

State Department Demotes Religious Freedom Diplomats

Going to Pot?

Rick Warren’s Daughter on Family Struggles: ‘Pain Births Beauty’

Mother Teresa’s Catholic Charity in India Puts all Adoptions on Hold to Avoid Gay Parents

Debunking the Planned Parenthood Mammogram Myth

Madonna Says She and Pope Francis Send the Same Message after Using Cross as Stipper Pole

Pastor Attacked in Bangladesh by Muslims Who Claimed to be Interested in His Faith


The War against ISIS: a Spiritual Battle

Gaining Ground for Life: The Successes of the Pro-life Movement

Does Eating Bacon Ensure Long Life?

Be Cautious of Science Driven by Media Hype

Trusting God for Today in an Uncertain Time

10/13/15 Watch Your Mouth!

READING: Matthew 12:22-50, Luke 11

TEXTS AND APPLICATION:  I have two heroes of the faith, one who is now with the Lord and the other who is now in retirement. I met these men at least twenty years apart. They lived in two different sections of the country. One was known regionally, and the second was/is known nationally. One had a small family, and the other has a large one. Their stories were quite different even though both were pastors.

What I most admire about these men, though, marked both of them: they used their mouths for God’s glory and not for evil. In fact, here’s what most caught my attention about them:

  • Both always prayed with me, regardless of setting.
  • Both always told others about Jesus, again regardless of the setting.
  • I never heard either man ever say something negative about another person.

I suspect my faith heroes would not have been alarmed by Jesus’ words: “I tell you that on the day of judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matt. 12:36-37). I, on the other hand, get anxious when I read those words.

I know some of my words over the years have been careless. Some have been rude and impatient. Years ago, they would have been off-color and flippant.  Some have been laced with false humility (thus, with real pride). Others have been judgmental and condemning.

But, my ministry and witness are built upon my words. If my words on Monday are less than godly, why should anyone listen to me on Sunday?  Or, at a more corporate level, if our words are careless, why should a non-believing world listen to the gospel from us?

To be a faithful witness for Christ, I want to pray regularly, evangelize recurrently, and speak kindness always. I do not want to fall into the trap of condemning others when I should be praying and evangelizing. I long for my lips to be pure.

ACTION STEPS:  Live today like my heroes lived: pray throughout the day; tell somebody about Jesus; refrain from speaking negatively about others.

PRAYER: “God, I need your help to guard my every word. Use me as a pure, consistent, holy mouthpiece for the gospel.”

TOMORROW’S READING: Matthew 13, Luke 8

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:


(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

“In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”

— Augustine

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