Through Good Works? (1)
This raises the question: did the Reformed teach that good works are co-instrumental in salvation in the fullest sense? Did they teach that it is partly through faith and partly through good works that we are delivered from the wrath to come and from the effects of sin? On its face it seems improbable that evangelical Protestants, who had just emerged from the medieval doctrine of justification through progressive sanctification (by grace and cooperation with grace) should turn around and posit that we are delivered from the wrath of God, even in part, by or through our cooperation with grace or good works.
What is the Earliest Complete List of the Canon of the New Testament?
In the end, we actually have very good historical reasons to accept Origen’s list as genuine. And if it is, then we have evidence that (a) Christians were making lists much earlier than we supposed (and thus cared about which books were “in” and which were “out”); and (b) that the boundaries of the New Testament canon were, at least for some people like Origen, more stable than typically supposed.
Why Theology Matters
Theology fuels our devotion to God and our passion for sharing the Gospel. A solid theological vision of God and the Christian life is a powerful tool for mission. Imagine if every Christian were a good theologian. Not just a good theologian, but a good theologian in the distinctively Christian sense. Theology matters for your church because theology is for everyone. Every Christian is a theologian.
Are There Degrees of Sin?
Why is it important for us to emphasize this point? Many times I’ve talked to men who struggle with lust and they say to themselves or to me, “I might as well go ahead and commit adultery because I’m already guilty of lust. I can’t be in any worse shape in the sight of God, so I might as well finish the deed.” I always answer, “Oh yes, you can be in much worse shape.” The judgment of actual adultery will be much more severe than the judgment upon lust.
How Not to Ask for Forgiveness
The truly amazing thing about being forgiven is that it is a liberating experience. As God in Christ has set us free from sin’s misery, power and curse, so too when we confess sin sincerely to others, an enormous burden is removed from our shoulders. Insincere repentance never removes that burden. In fact it adds to is.
15 Arguments in Favor of Covenant Child Baptism
Paul clearly makes a connection between circumcision and baptism. Be careful, though! These verses are not referring to either physical circumcision or water baptism, but rather to the spiritual reality to which these covenant signs point. Both circumcision and baptism are covenant signs that point to the regenerating and cleansing work of the Holy Spirit. However, circumcision was an Old Covenant sign, given only to boys and with the shedding of blood. Now that Christ has shed His blood, baptism is given to both male and female and with the washing of water, not the shedding of blood.
Did Jesus Have a “Gospel-Centered” Ministry?
This brings me back to the original question: did Jesus’ have a gospel-centered ministry? The answer, it turns out, depends on whether or not the trademark is applied. Under the “gospel-centered”TM rubric, a true ministry must constantly and almost exclusively hammer home the free offer of forgiveness through faith alone in Christ’s blood. Teaching theology is deemed irrelevant, instruction is legalistic, and confronting false teaching is ungracious. In this approach, the biblical evidence shows that Jesus did not have a “gospel-centered”TM ministry. In fact, most of what Jesus did in Mark’s Gospel involves messages that a “gospel-centered”TM ministry does not approve.
A Prayer for the Weeping Heart
Father, grant me gospel joy; help me to rejoice in Christ even as I grieve. Envelope me with the peace and comfort only you can provide. As the days move into months, may this burden lessen. As the months move to years, use me to encourage and bless someone else who must walk a similar path. Help me to point them to you as the God of all comfort.
Tennessee Parents Concerned Over the Teaching of Islam in Schools
Some parents in White County, Tennessee are fighting the public school board over the 7th grade curriculum that they believe promotes Islam. Teachers are using the textbook myWorldHistory and Geography: The Middle Ages to Exploration of the Americas in Social Studies classes. The book is published by Pearson Corporation, which is partially owned by the Libyan Investment Authority, which also has ties to CAIR – the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Other Libyan Investment Authority par
Franklin Graham Slams Oprah Winfrey’s ‘Belief’ Series for Claiming There are ‘A Million Paths’ to God
Prominent evangelist Franklin Graham has criticized Oprah Winfrey’s new documentary series, “Belief,” which suggests that one can reach God through a number of paths — not just through the blood of Jesus Christ.
Pop Singer Selena Gomez Opens Up About Her Christian Faith, Reveals Her Favorite CCM Artist
Pop singer Selena Gomez recently opened up about her Christian faith and revealed her favorite CCM artist to be an award-winning Hillsong worship leader
‘We cannot be silent,’ Mohler says in new book
R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, issues a call for faithful, biblical witness in his latest book, “We Cannot Be Silent,” that he says is ever more urgent in the wake of recent landmark events.
National Apologetics Conference Kicks Off Stressing Destructive Ideas, God’s Answers
Charlotte, N.C. -The National Christian Conference on Apologetics kicked off in Charlotte, North Carolina Friday, lifting its theme from Richard Weaver’s seminal book Ideas Have Consequences.
The American Christian Voting Guide Ranks Mike Huckabee #1 For President: ‘He Will Do God’s Will For The Nation’
The influential American Christian Voting Guide has found that out of the candidates currently seeking the presidential nomination, Mike Huckabee is the most likely to bring religious freedom, jobs, and national security from God blessing the United States.
Are We Ashamed of the Bible?
The reality is scripture contains many difficult texts that can make even the staunchest believer cringe. What should we do when confronted with such harsh words?
Why Churches Should Study Systematic Theology
&If our young people were taught systematic theology before going off to college, they would be equipped to answer the questions and challenges to their faith they’ll see and hear every day.&
Give Your Weakness to God
&Christian community should be one of the places where people can actually be vulnerable.&
Ken Ham Warns Parents About ‘The Good Dinosaur’ Movie
A well-known Christian apologist has spoken out about the “evolutionary indoctrination” in Disney-Pixar’s latest animated film, saying parents should be aware of the unbiblical presuppositions permeating the movie.
If I Deny Christ Can I Still Go to Heaven?
In light of the shooting in Oregon, where the gunman asked students if they were Christian, and if they said ‘yes’ the gunman shot the student in the head, what would happen if a Christian lied? What if it would have been me, and I would have said ‘no’? Would I still go to heaven when I die?
WVW-TV Presents: What Does The Koran Say Should Happen To “Moderate” Muslims & How Can You Identify a “Moderate” From a Radical Muslim? with Usama Dakdok
WVW-TV Presents: Understanding & Refuting The End Time Beliefs of The Church of Rome
Worldview Weekend Radio:
Topic: Did Pope Francis & Tim Keller encourage Fox News contributor Kirsten Powers to become a Catholic? Reports are that Powers has announced she has converted to Roman Catholicism. Powers attended the Presbyterian Church of Tim Keller in NewYork. Today Brannon plays an audio clip of Keller praising the writings of Catholic mystics and refers to their writings as great stuff. Perhaps Keller should also be credited, along with Pope Francis, for the conversion of Powers to Roman Catholicism. One would think that if Tim Keller was really teaching as a proper pastor should do that perhaps Powers would know understand and reject the false Christ, false gospel, and paganism of the Church of Rome? However, can Keller be critical of the Church of Rome while also praising as great stuff, the writings of it mystic writers? Topic: Brannon reveals why he believes that Christians that live in more liberal areas may actually be better at contending for the faith. Topic: Why is it that many once conservative parents are now embracing and defending the liberal Christianity and churches of their adult children? Topic: We take your calls.
Squashing Seven Excuses to Not Evangelize
All believers have the desire to be faithful ambassadors for Christ. We want to bring the message of salvation to those around us. But like a deer in headlights we tend to freeze up instead of joyfully sharing the lifesaving news we possess. Like a diabetic rationalizing himself into eating that piece of cheesecake, Christian’s justify their disobedience with some well-crafted excuses. I’d like to help squash some excuses so that when we have the opportunity nothing would come in the way of those around us hearing about the hope that’s only found in Christ.
Obama Plans Takedown of Another U.S. Ally
President Obama failed to take out Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu but now he’s going after Canada’s Conservative Party Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a big supporter of Israel and opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
It’s a story the U.S. media won’t cover. But Judi McLeod of the Canada Free Press has been documenting how Obama is planning the “fundamental transformation” of Canada by taking down Harper’s government and bringing to power a progressive majority assembled from Canada’s Liberal Party and New Democratic Party (NDP), an affiliate of the Socialist International.
No Compromise Radio with Mike Abendroth:
Jesus Meet Mr Self Righteous (Part 4) Mike continues to examines the most popular chapter in all the Bible: John 3Open in Logos Bible Software (if available). Listen to John’s description of Jesus preaching the truth to the teacher in Israel. A modern day way of think would go like this: what would Jesus say to the Pope of Roman. Tune in to learn some very important counter intuitive truths.
Noise of Thunder with Chris Pinto
SOCIALISM, SATANISM & GLOBALISM Chris continues his discussion on the progress of radical socialism in our country, and reviews parts of the book, “The New World Order” by A. Ralph Epperson. The author completed his book in 1989, but made a number of predictions (such as the legalization of gay marriage and the war on the family) which have clearly come to pass, along with the growing hostility towards Christianity. At the heart of his research is the acknowledgement of the spiritual forces at work, since those who have followed the Marxist agenda historically often proclaim praise for Lucifer and/or Satan. The devil, who rebelled against God, provides for them a model as they seek to resist all that is good, in their attempts to destroy Christianity.
Encounter God’s Truth with Dr. John Whitcomb:
This week on Encounter Gods Truth from Whitcomb Ministries, Bible teacher Dr. John Whitcomb presents part one of a message called The Necessity of Gods Power. We go to Appalachian Bible College in Mount Hope, West Virginia, along with host Wayne Shepherd, to learn how the Bible clearly explains that every person possesses a sin nature that renders us totally depraved. This desperate condition requires Gods perfect ability in order to make it possible for anyone to believe the gospel and be saved. This can never be accomplished by our feeble attempts to manipulate or trick people into accepting the gospel. In this lesson, Dr. Whitcomb unfolds the place that arguments and evidences for the Christian faith should have in our witness in light of both the total depravity of man and the inspiration and authority of the Scriptures. Gods Word is true from the beginning to the end! Thanks for listening to it today on Encounter Gods Truth.
Women with the Master with Susan Heck:
The Dangerous Sin of Anger! Passage: Matthew 5:21-26: Description: Recent statistics tell us that there are about 16,000 murders in the United States each year. That number does not include the 41,000 suicides which is murder by the way, as one is taking their own life. When you combine those numbers together you have about 60,000 murders in the United States each year. That might not seem like a huge number in comparison to the population of the United States which is roughly about 318 million. But I wonder how many of the 318 million people which live in this country would admit to ever being angry which includes being annoyed; being exasperated; being impatient; being irritated? I imagine most Americans, if they were honest, would at least admit to moments of anger. But few would admit their anger would qualify as being equal with the 60,000 murders which take place each year. But as kingdom citizens that belong to another country, we have a King that says something startling as He speaks on the mount regarding the dangerous sin of anger.
Steel on Steel with John Loeffler:
The silly season is heating up and this week we witnessed an early boil. Democrat party candidates held their first debate with a fireworks display of droll talking points. In this weeks boralogue, John looks at politicians promises of free stuff, despite economic problems on the horizon, a changing Middle East chessboard, impending terror attacks in America, and an out of control debt. Remember one thing: before Obamacare, before the housing crisis, before terrorists breached our borders, and with debate promises made this week, they lied to us. A recent report from Judicial Watch shows proof that ISIS has infiltrated our southern border. Irene Garcia, Investigative Reporter for Judicial Watch, joins us to discuss the failure of security on our porous border and a possible cover-up by Homeland Security officials who say they have no knowledge of any problems. Some ISIS members were caught, but many more have snuck through undetected. Wake up and smell the infiltration. Now that ISIS is here, what is the likelihood of terrorist attacks? Dan Perkins, bestselling author of The Brotherhood of the Red Nile trilogy, examines ISISs ability to obtain nuclear materials and reveals that terrorists may target Americas heartland rather than New York or Washington.
Jim began discussion of this topic by noting a story reporting that just 2 weeks after Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s Justice Department announced a plan to globalize local police departments through the Strong Cities Network, the Obama administration has added a new tool to its fight against violent extremism. The person who heads up this effort will target extremists who plan mass shootings, hold racist, bigoted or anti-government views or see themselves as sovereign citizens. Are these not some of the descriptions used against born-again believers? The Domestic Terrorism Council will serve as the main point of contact for this effort. Part of their responsibility will be to ‘analyze legal gaps that need to be closed’. That’s according to Assistant Attorney General John Carlin. It’s not clear what he meant by that statement. What’s unique about this effort is that the Justice Department sees Islamic jihadists as no more dangerous than mentally ill individuals such as Dylann Roof, the Charleston, South Carolina, church shooter who killed 9 Black Christians. In fact, Justice Department officials have indicated that these home-grown White ‘right wingers’ are possibly more numerous and dangerous than the jihadis.
Justin Peters Program:
Attributes of God – Omnipresence: This week we will discuss the incommunicable attribute of God’s Omnipresence. What exactly does omnipresence mean? Is God truly in all places at all times and, if so, how is this different from pantheism and even panentheism? In this program we will discuss the Scriptures which speak of God’s omnipresence and their rather surprising contexts. What are the practical implications of God’s Omnipresence for the lost and the believer? God’s Omnipresence should both instill fear and also provide great comfort and encouragement.
Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer:
Habakkuk the prophets complaints belong on todays front page. Evildoers are having a field day, and the foundations of the nation are being torn apart. Yet in the midst of turmoil, the prophet has a burst of faith that God is still in charge.
Truth About Islam with Usama Dakdok
Revealing The Deception of Islam: When Muslims Speak in Churches (Program #8)
Prophecy Today Radio with Dr. Jimmy DeYoung
Jimmy DeYoung has on PTIB, as his special guest today, Itamar Marcus, the director of Palestinian Media Watch. Itamar and his team monitor the Palestinian media, the print and the electronic media, and reveal what the Palestinian leaders are really saying. PMW has revealed that PA President Abbas lied about the IDF killing a 13 year old Palestinian terrorist, who is actually in the hospital recovering; Fatah is calling for attacks on Jews; and there are videos among the Palestinians that are teaching them how to kill Jews.
TV Review: Oprah Winfrey’s “Belief”
Brian Lowry of Variety reviews “Belief,” a seven-night miniseries Oprah produced that explores the origins and impacts of different world religions. Without getting too far afield, Oprah says she’s a Christian. However, when we examine the beliefs she holds it becomes clear that her religious views are more in line with New Age/New Thought.
Now to Lowry’s review:
Oprah Winfrey narrated Discovery’s splendid nature series “Life,” and seeks to bring similar production values — including sleek photography and a sweeping score — to OWN’s take on faith in “Belief.” Yet as earnest and human-interest oriented as this seven-part production is, it will play best among those who buy into the billionaire mogul/personality’s particular brand of “Live your best life” mumbo-jumbo, a mix of spirituality and self-help. The Oprah seal of approval should make this a winner by OWN’s standards, but for all its positive energy, “Belief” will likely wind up preaching to the choir.
“My confidence comes from knowing there is a force, a power, greater than myself, that I’m a part of, and that is also a part of me,” Winfrey says in voiceover at the outset of each installment, summing up where she stands on the belief continuum. After that, however, the program is — literally and by design — all over the map, flitting to different spots across the globe to explore manifestations of faith in all its varied forms.
Dalrock has a piece entitled “Never let a crisis go to waste.” He fills us in on what occurred on a recent Focus on the Family radio broadcast when the president of FOTF, Jim Daly, spoke with Christian relationship “expert” Dr. David Clarke. For those who read and study the Bible, it is evident that Dr. Clark’s view […]
45. Without a doubt, He has spoken this comforting word also for the fainthearted, who, though they are godly and prepared for the Last Day, are yet filled with great anxiety and [thus] hinder their desire for this coming, which is especially found at the end of the world; therefore, He calls it their redemption. […]
One thing we know for sure: The Word of God is eternal truth and teaches us everything we need to know about God, sinful man, and salvation and sanctification through Jesus Christ alone. But some of the particulars of the Word of God are not always easy to understand; and because we are still humans […]
Let’s try out a phrase: “spectator Christians.”
The trend toward spectatorship is a culture-wide phenomenon seeping into the church. Sports used to be something we did; now it’s something we watch. Music used to be a reason to get together with neighbors and have fun; now it’s something our headphones use to keep us separate from others. Christianity is, to my eyes, similarly and increasingly becoming a spectator event. Read more of this post
3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. 5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? 6 And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders,10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. – (2 Thessalonians 2:3-12)
Take heed, this is Paul’s warning to the Thessalonians, who were in serious error concerning the imminent return of our Lord Jesus. Many had either misunderstood him or purposely misrepresented his teachings on this. Paul admonishes the church to not be deceived by those spreading untruths, as there were many things that must happen before Christ’s return. But in his exhortation also comes a great prophetic warning–the coming of the lawless one, and what he will bring.
What we see in Paul’s warning is exactly what we see unfolding in front of our eyes in the Church today. During the Protestant Reformation, Christianity was salvaged by God after centuries of suppression by the hands of Rome. There were great men of faith that have been persecuted and even martyred countless times for defending what they so strongly believed in. In an extravagant display of hatred, John Wycliffe’s bones were dug up forty years after he died and burned for translating the Bible into English and speaking out against the Papacy. Martin Luther, a monk who nailed the 95 Theses to a church door in Wittenberg, was excommunicated from the church. William Tyndale, who also famously translated Bibles into English though it were illegal, remained faithful until his strangling death, and body burned by the King of England. Thousands upon thousands of Protestants gave their lives during the Reformation era, and against all odds, through all of the persecution, and against the evils of the Roman Catholic Church, Christianity prevailed.
For several centuries, Biblical Christianity’s influence grew enormously, while the influence of the Papacy dwindled. Though still a forceful presence throughout the world, Roman Catholicism stood in stark contrast to Protestantism, and the differences between them were clear. The reformation produced some of the greatest theologians and preachers of all time. John Calvin, best known for his theological works regarding the doctrines of grace, was very outspoken against the works-based doctrines of Rome. There was the Puritan, Thomas Watson and later there was George Whitefield, Charles Spurgeon, and so on. There was no confusing Catholicism with Protestant Biblical Christianity–the doctrinal divide was clear. The Roman Catholic Church, especially the Papacy, is anti-Christ–this is what the reformers believed.
We here are of the conviction that the papacy is the seat of the true and real Antichrist…personally I declare that I owe the Pope no other obedience than that to Antichrist. – Martin Luther
When the western church was divided for about 40 years between two rival popes, one in Rome and the other in Avigon, France, each pope called the other pope antichrist – and John Wycliffe is reputed to have regarded them as both being right – Wycliffe
[The pope] is in an emphatical sense, the Man of Sin, as he increases all manner of sin above measure. And he is, too, properly styled the Son of Perdition, as he has caused the death of numberless multitudes, both of his opposers and followers… He it is…that exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped…claiming the highest power, and highest honour…claiming the prerogatives which belong to God alone. – John Wesley
But what we see unfolding today is an unraveling of all the work the protest stood for, and a merging of ecumenical partnerships between the false church, and bible-believing evangelicalism. The flagship denomination of evangelicalism, the Southern Baptist Convention, is not only now succumbing to these antichrist forces, but leading the way. The Church that once stood strong and hard against the influences of the world and its false religion has now been diminished to another propaganda machine for the works of darkness. And sadly, there are those who will do anything–anything to defend it.
Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues; – Revelation 18:4
The Roman Catholic church is not the only false church we battle though it is the mother. Evangelicalism is loaded with its apostate ministers and business organizations masquerading as houses of God. No matter what your lifestyle is, homosexual, drug users, fornicators, idolators, “personally included and accepted in our community,” they say. Our preachers MUST preach in a manner that “leaves people feeling better about themselves than when they came in,” they write. Affirmation of sin is the new gospel. They water down the bible and hand people a Get-Out-Of-Hell-Free card with their easy altar-calls and sinner’s prayers, followed by baptisms and affirmations of being members of the body of Christ while practicing unrepentant sin.
But our leadership has long abandoned the defense of sound doctrine and have taken many aboard the anti-Christ train with them. Our influential evangelical organizations water down the lines between truth and apostasy and join hands with them any chance they get to promote a political agenda. The average evangelical, even a born-again bible-believing evangelical has no idea that the Roman Catholic church teaches a false Gospel, and that the pope, leading millions to hell, is anything but a good man. “If we are going to form opinions about important global leaders like Francis (and many of us will) we should do so based on factual information. It’s not enough to say Pope = Bad,” proclaims one influential Southern Baptist leader. In fact, promotion of the Papacy and Popery has become the norm at these so-called evangelical organizations. What do bible-believing Christians need to learn from a pope?
Doesn’t the pope need the Gospel? Shouldn’t the pope be called to repentance? Do we simply have “minor disagreements” with the pope? Of the 9 things an evangelical leader say we as Christians need to know about the pope, the most important thing about him wasn’t even mentioned–the fact that he is lost, and on his way to Hell.
How can a once-claimed born-again evangelical forsake her Protestant roots, and become a Roman Catholic while under the church leadership of one of the most widely promoted pastors in the evangelical church? Is it because this ecumenical promoter of Roman Catholicism has forsaken God’s Word himself? Is it because he allegorizes Scripture rather than stand on it and proclaim it as truth? This should be an embarrassment to the evangelical leadership, but there hasn’t been one word mentioned of it from him. How can pastors like this become so widely promoted by bible-believers? Isn’t this the deception of the elect? Isn’t this the forsaking of truth for unity?
But those who have boarded the train have lost all sight of this. The church, to them, is no longer about proclaiming God’s word boldly, risking your reputations, friendships, and even your life to speak truth and to do God’s will. No, the false gospel of prominence now is niceness, unity, and love. Men who once stood strong against the apostasy have now left and are full-steam ahead. People who once defended the faith mercilessly have now taken it upon themselves to join forces with the anti-Christ to oppose sound rebuke, and will grasp at every straw possible to discredit anyone who speaks against the agenda. Even the elect have been deceived to a certain level, and their pure, vile hatred of the few men who are left to stand against the invasion from Hell, has completely overcome them (Mark 13:22, Matthew 24:24).
Hell is real. The anti-Christ is real, and you are either with him, or against him, but “all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.” (Revelation 13:8) And the train is leaving the station.
Are you in spiritual danger? If you were, how would you know?
One key sign of spiritual danger is losing your joy. Don’t skim past what Paul says at the end of Philippians 3:1: “Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.” Paul reminds them to rejoice because it is safe.
Joy is one of the vital gauges on the dashboard of the Christian life. When the needle dips — when you lose your joy — you should take note. To stay safe, you need to pay attention to your joy.
How does this work? Here’s an illustration.
Coal miners know that dangerous gases can gather silently and secretly in the tunnels. Carbon monoxide will asphyxiate them. Methane explodes.
A methane explosion took the lives of 12 men in the 2006 Sago mine disaster in West Virginia. In 1906, almost 1,100 miners were killed in Courrières, France in one massive chain of explosions.
But in the early days of coal mining, they found an effective, low-tech solution: They brought canaries into the mines. A canary’s metabolism is very sensitive to air quality. As long as the bright yellow birds chirp and sing, miners know the air is safe. If gas levels rise, the canaries stop singing, wobble on their perch, and eventually fall to the floor of the cage.
Christian joy is like that singing, yellow bird. One of the first effects of sin or doctrinal error is that we lose our joy in Christ. When your heart stops singing, that is a warning to watch your life and doctrine closely.
Jesus’s Joy in You
Jesus himself connected our daily spiritual life with joy.
“If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love. . . . These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:10–11)
If your soul is satisfied in Christ, you will rejoice in Christ. Take your eyes off Christ, and you’ll lose your joy. Christian joy is a barometer of your spiritual life.
Don’t confuse this unique joy with other upbeat feelings. Genuine Christian joy is not the power of positive thinking. Joy is not a bubbly, optimistic personality. Joy is not being happy because life is going my way. Joy is not walking through life with a naïve, glass-half-full attitude.
Jesus says it is my joy . . . in you. And Paul says, Rejoice in the Lord. Joy is the emotion of salvation. It is the joy of seeing, knowing, loving, and trusting Jesus Christ. We cannot generate this true joy ourselves — it is the product of the Holy Spirit in us (Galatians 5:22). Joy is a glorious gladness and deep delight in the person of Jesus Christ.
Such joy cannot be extinguished by the circumstances of life. It is a God-given joy greater and stronger than any trouble that comes into my life. As the prophet Habakkuk says,
Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. (Habakkuk 3:17–18)
As a spiritual barometer, joy is not a slave to circumstances. The light of Jesus’s face shines in the darkest night. Jesus said, No one will take your joy from you (John 16:22).
Joy Protects from Religion
How does Christ-gazing, Spirit-given joy keep us safe? Here are two ways.
First, joy keeps you safe as you serve. If you lose your joy, that could be a sign that your work for the Lord is no longer worship. Joy protects you from serving God for the wrong reasons.
George Müller was an evangelist and orphanage director in Bristol, England. He is famous for his tremendous faith and amazingly effective ministry — he cared for over 10,000 orphans over the course of his life. And joy was Müller’s first priority each day.
I saw more clearly than ever that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was not how much I might serve the Lord but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how the inner life might be nourished.
Working hard for Jesus — even caring for thousands of orphans — is a cold and empty duty if we have lost the warmth of our love for Christ. Joy keeps you safe from serving as a religious duty.
Joy Protects from Temptation
Second, joy keeps you safe from temptation. Matthew Henry said, “Joy in the Lord will guard you from the empty pleasures the tempter uses to bait his hooks.”
Joy protects you because joy in Christ comes from being satisfied in Christ. I like what Jonathan Edwards says.
The enjoyment of (God) is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, children, or the company of earthly friends are but shadows, but God is the substance. These are but scattered beams, but God is the sun. These are but streams, but God is the ocean.
When I get up from the table after Thanksgiving, the last thing I want is more food. You can’t tempt me with another bite. In the same way, it’s hard for Satan to tempt a joyful believer with the empty pleasures of this world.
A joyful believer is already more than satisfied in Christ — what more could he possibly want? Make it a point to be satisfied in Christ so that you rejoice in the Lord, and you will find safety and strength in your fight against sin.
Coal miners know that if the canary is not singing, there is trouble on the way.
So rejoice in the Lord! To write the same things is safe for you.
- Why Are So Many Christians Unhappy?
- What Is the Secret of Joy in Suffering?
- Why God Is After Your Joy
Did a jumbo edition of the DL today reporting on my trip to South Africa along with my attendance at the Gagnon/Kirk debate on homosexuality. Spent nearly the first hour on the homosexuality topic (interspersed with comments about South African Rooibus Tea) and then moved on to the Muslim debates in the last half hour.
Here is the YouTube link:
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00:09:03 Prophecy Open Mic
00:18:58 Jentezen Franklin Botches Pharaohs’ Dreams
00:41:16 Hillsong Gay Couple Update
00:45:40 Steven Furtick: Chain Reaction
01:35:17 Sermon Review: The Power Of I Am – “Pastors” David & Nicole Crank with Joel Osteen
Passive sanctification is an error that has stalked and hurt the Christian church and many Christian lives through the years. The basic idea is that personal holiness is achieved without any personal activity, without any physical effort. Rather, holiness is received the more we are enabled to yield, to give up, or to believe.
The older form of this error has been summed up in the phrase, “Let go and let God.” We are passive and God is active. The more passive we become the more active God becomes. The less we try to succeed the more God will succeed in us.
The newest form of this error can be summed up in the phrase “Believe in your justification and you will be sanctified.” The idea is that the more you believe in your justification the more holy you will become. As faith receives and embraces justification, spiritual growth will happen. Faith simply receives, and this automatically produces godliness. There is no effort or activity on our part, apart from the effort of believing and receiving what Christ has already accomplished. Sanctification happens by believing in our justification.
There are a number of reasons (good and bad) why so many Christians are attracted to this modern version of passive sanctification.
1. Keeps justification central in the Christian life
Although we are only justified once, by our initial act of saving faith, yet we need to appropriate that justification time and time again. We do need to understand it more, believe it more, know it more, and experience it more. “Remember it, recognize it, realize it, relax in it, and rejoice in it. Yes!
2. Reduces the danger of legalism in the Christian life
Some Christians have the tendency to think “I’m saved by God’s sovereign grace, but now it’s over to me.” “I get in by Christ’s work but I go on by my work. I’m saved passively but I’m made holy by my activity.” The Christian life then becomes a ceaseless round of activity, service, obligation, targets, resolutions…and failures, disappointment, frustration, etc. By helping the Christian return again and again to their justified status, the danger of legalistic activism is avoided.
3. Re-connects justification and sanctification
The re-connection of justification with sanctification keeps obedience faith-fueled and love-driven. Sanctification does not begin with “I resolve…I will” but with “I believe.” As David Powlison said: “Don’t ever degenerate into giving advice unconnected to the good news of Jesus crucified, alive, present, at work and returning.”
4. Relieves exhausted Christians
Some Christians are on the sure road to spiritual burnout. Passive sanctification can sound extremely attractive to such activists. Stop your ceaseless round of doing, stop your works for justification and sanctification. You are saved by faith and sanctified by faith. Justified by receiving Christ in the Gospel, and sanctified similarly.
5. Offers silver bullet for sanctification
Christians are always looking for the quickest and easiest way to be holy. This sounds like a very plausible silver bullet for sanctification. It’s very attractive to those who feel their sense of failure and lack of progress and are anxious for a fast lane to spiritual success.
Tomorrow we’ll see that despite the attractions of this view, there are a number of serious spiritual dangers that accompany it.
It was a saying frequently heard in those days. As they would make their way up to the doors of the monastery, history records that those daring to enter the Augustinian ranks chanted the following: “In thy holy name we have clad in the habit of a monk, that he may continue with thy help faithful in thy Church and merit eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
With the hope of accumulating that merit, the monk candidate then stepped foot into a life of austere devotion to Roman Catholic tradition. It would not be easy, but with enough rigor and exertion, the candidate could move himself that much closer to the possibility of heaven.
There was one such man who dared enter the Augustinian ranks at the age of 22. After nearly being struck by lightning, Martin Luther vowed to abandon his secular studies to become a monk. Two weeks later, on July 17, 1505, Luther presented himself at the monastery of Erfurt.
No Assurance, Necessary Torment
As he read Scripture, Luther came to grasp God’s towering standards. He knew that man’s moral and spiritual condition was simply too depraved to satisfy God. Commenting on the Sermon on the Mount, Luther wrote, “This word is too high and too hard that anyone should fulfill it. This is proved, not merely by our Lord’s word, but by our own experience and feeling.” Thus, Luther was faced with the dilemma of the ages: how can sinful man be permanently in right standing with holy God?
So, Luther devoted himself to solving that dilemma. He gave himself fully to gaining the assurance of righteousness before God. For example, he would often fast for multiple consecutive days, supposing to inch himself closer to God’s favor. In an effort to cast off the guilt of sin, Luther would whip himself, cast off his blankets, sleep in the cold, and nearly freeze to death with the hope that the self-atonement would suffice. Moments when Luther supposed to have obeyed enough, his conscience would fire back: “But have you fasted enough? Prayed enough? Impoverished yourself enough?” He spent hours upon hours in confession, hoping to appease his conscience and God’s wrath that way. One of his mentors, Johann von Staupitz, once remarked, “If you expect Christ to forgive you, come in with something to forgive—parricide, blasphemy, adultery—instead of all these peccadilloes.” But Luther was bringing something in need of forgiveness: failures to perfectly love God from the heart at every moment. Under Rome, he had no assurance.
An Achieved Catholic
Yet, he far exceeded the monastery’s requirements of prayers, discipline, fasting, confession, and piety, for he knew full well that such rigor still landed him short of God’s requirements for righteousness. Neither was Luther indulging in secret, flagrant sin. He was a chaste man. Even so, he was tormented with the awareness of falling short of God’s requirements. Luther was not plagued with hallucinations of his sin, but a well-oiled conscience being made aware of his undealt-with sin. And his diligent attempts at killing his sin only kindled it. Luther, like so many under Rome, had no assurance that they could ever stand righteous before God.
Some scorn Luther for such behavior. But contrary to what some Romanist theologians claim, Martin Luther was not a psychopath engaged in self-abuse because he was deranged in the mind. Rather, he was of sound mind. Sound in the sense that he grasped his own sinfulness, and, consequently, his condemnation. In a system like Rome’s where eternal life must be earned, Luther was not a bad Catholic, but one of the best there ever was. Like a smoke alarm that fires off in response to smoke undetectable to the average human nose, so Luther’s conscience fired off in response to his violations of God’s law which were undetectable by most. Luther wrote:
I was a good monk, and I kept the rule of my order so strictly that I may say that if ever a monk got to heaven by his monkery it was I. All my brothers in the monastery who knew me will bear me out. If I had kept on any longer, I should have killed myself with vigils, prayers, reading, and other work.
Luther knew that such rigor was the only way make ground on the assurance of heaven under Rome. As Roland Bainton remarked of Luther: “The man who was later to revolt against monasticism became a monk for exactly the same reason as thousands of others, namely, in order to save his soul…Monasticism was the way par excellence to heaven.”
But Luther realized something profound in his Romanist devotion. One might work to merit righteousness by confessing all known sins, but that does not deal with man’s deeper problem. We are not condemned only by various sins we commit. We are condemned because of the sinful nature we possess. We sin because we are sinners. So, Catholic confession is merely clipping leaves on a bursting-forth willow tree. You cannot keep up with the leaf-clipping. Something more needs to be done for assurance.
And then, it happened. Luther writes:
My situation was that, although an impeccable monk, I stood before God as a sinner troubled in conscience, and I had no confidence that my merit would assuage him. Therefore I did not love a just and angry God, but rather hated and murmured against him…Night and day I pondered until I saw the connection between the justice of God and the statement that ‘the just shall live by his faith.’ Then I grasped that the justice of God is that righteousness by which through grace and sheer mercy God justifies us through faith. Thereupon I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise. The whole of Scripture took on a new meaning, and whereas before the ‘justice of God’ had filled me with hate, now it became to me inexpressibly sweet in greater love. This passage of Paul became to me a gate to heaven.
With that, the once tormented monk rested in the righteousness of Christ. Christian assurance had been rescued from the dark dungeon of Roman Catholicism. Luther realized that truth which every Christian has embraced and celebrated: the sinner’s assurance of right standing with God depends not on man’s moral proficiency before God, but on faith in the Person and finished work of Christ. Sinners do not progressively render themselves righteous before God through works, but are instantaneously declared righteous by faith in Jesus Christ. The penalty for our sin is not gradually purged through a mixture of man’s works, saintly merit, and time in Purgatory, but instantly forgiven through faith in Christ’s sin-bearing death on the cross. Righteousness sufficient for my assurance of heaven is not accumulated through careful keeping of the church’s sacraments, but is instantly credited by trusting in the righteous Christ alone as my mediator. Luther understood that justification is by faith alone in Christ alone. The result is that there is not one ounce of condemnation from God towards the sinner. And where there is an absence of condemnation, there is a presence of assurance.
But, the sad reality is that Roman Catholicism still plagues its adherents with the lack of assurance. The promise of heaven is something that Rome simply cannot give her devotees. Rome’s doctrine confirms this: “No one can know with a certainty of faith…that he has obtained the grace of God” (Council of Trent, 6th session, paragraph 9). Cardinal Robert Belarmine wrote, “The principle heresy of Protestants is that saints may obtain to a certain assurance of their gracious and pardoned state before God” (De justificatione 3.2.3). Christ’s sacrifice opens the possibility to heaven, but the sinner must rigorously work towards that possibility. And even then, the possibility remains only that.
Rome has many other teachings which demonstrate her heresy of jeopardizing assurance. Purgatory, for example, is a teaching that must exist in a system of progressively earned righteousness. Though heaven is possible for those who “die in God’s grace and friendship,” they must yet be purified, or purged, in Purgatory for an indefinite amount of time. Some learned Catholics you speak with today will portray a nervousness over that indefinite duration.
If you listen carefully to contemporary Roman Catholic theologians, you will hear of assurance only in relation to those who have been canonized as saints. For example, when pope John Paul II and John XXIII were declared saints in April of 2014, one Catholic official said that the declaration affirms that these men are in heaven. For Roman Catholicism, saints are individuals who have been canonized by Rome’s official declaration. They are said to have possessed heroic virtue, performed two miracles (one after their death, which is said to confirm their place in heaven), and are nominated by the church. The saints, then, are usually the only individuals who are said to be in heaven. “The title of saint tells us that the person lived a holy life, is in heaven, and is to be honored by the universal Church.”
Tragically, Roman Catholic teaching on assurance differs radically from that of Scripture. For example, the Apostle writes, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1). To be justified here refers to having been declared in an absolute, unalterable state of perfect righteousness by God through Jesus Christ. Faith alone accesses that sufficient righteousness. Peace with God, or Christian assurance, is the consequence. No wavering. No wondering. No purging needed. Justification by faith alone in Christ alone renders us in a state of assurance. Christ proclaimed, “It is finished” (John 19:30).
Later, Paul wrote, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). Notice something amazing here. The consequence of union with Christ (“in Christ Jesus”), is a state of no-condemnation. The instant a sinner enters into union with Christ by faith, at that moment, there is no guilt, no penalty, and no remaining sentence for sin. It’s over and done. If the Christian dies with unconfessed sin, not to worry. They will awake, and stand before Christ in complete righteousness. Christ’s atoning death on the cross absorbs all of the Christian’s condemnation with the result that not one ounce of sin remains for expunging. Christ’s death satisfies the wrath of God. And we would not dare suppose that our puny, imperfect human acts of righteousness could ever add to Christ’s one, colossal, perfect act at the cross. Simply put, Rome offers assurance as a mere possibility to the highest moral heroes. God offers assurance as an absolute certainty to the lowest moral failures.
Because Roman Catholicism maintains the heresy of a lack of assurance, its teaching must be vehemently opposed. The true gospel offers to sinners tormented with a guilty conscience the real peace through the assurance of Christ’s work, not theirs. Contrary to Rome, God offers sinners the free, instant gift of assurance through faith in Christ. That no-condemnation status can belong to any sinner because Christ took our condemned status on himself.
During this 498th official Reformation season, let us celebrate the rediscovery of Christian assurance: the certainty of right standing with God and entrance into heaven through faith alone in the Person and substitutionary atoning death of Jesus Christ.
If you want to make an immediate difference in your church, read these fourteen brief experiences. The readers at ThomRainer.com responded to an informal Twitter survey about their experiences as first-time guests in churches, both good and bad.
I chose seven from each of the good and bad experiences. My decision to choose those in this article was largely based on what I see and read on a regular basis. In other words, these “7 + 7” represent issues that are common in many churches. The good experiences, in particular, represent some of the best practices of healthy churches.
After each of the fourteen experiences, I cite a lesson to be learned. I hope these lessons can have specific application in your church. Most of the quotes are verbatim. Some have been slightly modified without changing the essence of the comment.
Seven Great Experiences
- “They went out of the way to make my children calm and happy.” Lesson: Many guests are looking for something in a church for their children. Go out of the way to make the children happy and safe.
- “A lady befriended us and took us to her small group.” Lesson: Assimilation and discipleship are highly effective in small groups. This church member was on target.
- “The pastor offered to take us to lunch.” Lesson: Connections with the pastor are highly effective in getting guests to return. Churches should consider including in the budget a meal fund for their pastor to take guests to lunch.
- “A church member wrote our children a letter after meeting us.” Lesson: Personal and individual attention can go a long way toward reaching guests.
- “The church was clean and had great signage.” Lesson: First impressions are very important to connect with first-time guests. Cleanliness and signage communicates: “We care.”
- “A church member invited us to lunch.” Lesson: Churches need to make certain their friendliness is more than a perfunctory greeting. This action by the church member was great.
- “We were greeted in the parking lot and walked to where we were supposed to go.” Lesson: Well-trained parking lot greeters can be a huge factor in guest retention. These greeters did it the right way.
Seven Bad Experiences
- “I didn’t know what they were talking about. It was a lot of internal language and acronyms.” Lesson: Don’t expect guests to speak your churchy language. Expect them not to return if you do.
- “No one spoke to us.” Lesson: Most churches perceive they are friendly, but they are not. Members only speak to those they know.
- “We were given ear plugs when we walked in.” Lesson: Know what you’re communicating by your actions. In this case, they were saying the guests were too old for the music, or the music was too loud for everyone.
- “My wife and I are a mixed race couple. The greeter suggested we might be at the wrong church.” Lesson: Don’t be stupid.
- “The friendliness seemed contrived and fake.” Lesson: If the members are only friendly during a time of greeting, it can actually be perceived more negatively than no friendliness at all.
- “They asked us to stand up and introduce ourselves.” Lesson: Such a request is terrifying to many people. Don’t do it.
- “The greeter gave me a children’s bulletin and told me I could color on it. I’m twenty years old.” Lesson: Some greeters have no business being greeters.
Share with me some of your experiences. Let me hear from you about your feelings about these fourteen experiences. Let us hear about the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The post Seven Great and Seven Bad Experiences of First-time Church Guests appeared first on ThomRainer.com.
The founder of a popular Singapore church was found guilty Wednesday of misappropriating more than $35.5 million in donations to support his wife’s singing career in Asia before helping her break into the U.S. market for evangelization purposes. Kong Hee, the founder and senior pastor of City Harvest Church, was found guilty with five other church leaders of stealing 24 million Singapore dollars ($17.3 million) designated for building and investment-related purposes through sham bond investments.
The State Court also found that they used another 26 million Singapore dollars to hide the first embezzlement from auditors. It is a rare case of corruption of such magnitude in the city-state, which has an image of being highly law-abiding and largely graft-free. “They were not genuine transactions because the accused persons controlled these transactions,” presiding judge See Kee Onn said in finding Mr. Kong guilty on three counts of criminal breach of trust.
No one anywhere should pastor any church that they don’t know the name of every person who is a member of the congregation. If your church has too many people for the pastor to know, send them off and start a new church in a different area.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the pastor and theologian who would eventually die at the hands of the Nazi regime, offered up one of the most sobering summaries of the Christian faith: “When Jesus bids a man to follow him, he bids him come and die.”
Jesus pointed out that to truly follow him, his disciples were to pick up a cross. We use crosses decoratively these days: we wear them as jewelry, put them on the walls in our houses, even have them tattooed on our bodies. But for those first disciples, the cross was anything but decorative. It was a symbol of torture. Wearing a cross as jewelry in the first century would have been as out of place as an African American wearing a decorative noose around his neck in the 19th century.
Bonhoeffer was right: the demands of Jesus are total. His call to follow isn’t an offer of a different way of life, but a call to give it all, even life itself. What kind of motive would make anyone follow a call like that? Mark 8:35–38 gives us three motivations:
1. God brings life through obedience.
Obedience to Jesus sometimes feels like death. But that feeling isn’t the end of the story. As Jesus put it, “Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it” (Mark 8:35). Obedience to God may feel like death, but the result is actually life.
The forgiveness you extend will come at a cost to you; it will feel like a death. But that “death” will restore a relationship and release you from the poison of bitterness.
The sinful relationship you walk away from will feel like a death. But that “death” will open up the possibility for a healthy, life-giving relationship for you and for that other person.
The financial sacrifice you make will force you to die to some of your comforts and your ambitions. But that “death” will yield life—not only through the ministries you support, but in your own heart as well.
Obedience to God is never easy. On many days, it will feel like the cost of the sacrifice is too great, that the only outcome is a kind of death. But if we could only see clearly, we’d realize that this is actually God’s instrument of life.
2. You can’t hold on to it anyway.
There’s a subtle logic behind Jesus’ words here: “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul?” (Mark 8:36–37). Whatever you’re holding onto now that keeps you from full surrender to Jesus—in the end, you simply can’t keep it.
Think about it: what would you hang onto now that would be worth your soul then? I know so many college students who won’t consider the lordship of Jesus because they want to keep their sexual freedom. Jesus is asking, “Is that really worth the trade?” Do you really think a few sexual escapades now are worth more than your eternal soul?
Or I think of the thousands upon thousands of people in our churches who simply won’t give Jesus control of their career or their finances. Sure, you can hang on to your money for a while in this life. But then what? When you die and the undertakers dress you up for your funeral, your death suit won’t have pockets—because you aren’t taking a dime of your life’s savings with you.
Whatever you’re holding onto now, you’re going to lose it eventually. So if you and I are both going to end up with empty pockets, why trade our soul away for those things now? As the missionary Jim Elliot once said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
3. Jesus was not ashamed of you.
“For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38). I’ve always read that verse as a warning for us to never deny Jesus. And that’s partially true. But we also need to read it in the context of Jesus’ life.
The irony of this verse is that Jesus, who should have been ashamed of us, wasn’t. The cross he picked up for us was voluntary. We have a lot to gain from picking up our crosses; he had nothing to gain, and everything to lose.
And yet. And yet, out of love for me, he identified with me and picked up a cross to save me. Jesus Christ is the only God who shows his greatness in this—by stooping down from heaven to take on hell. As the only perfect man in history, Jesus was the only one who had the right to avoid death. And yet, out of love for me, he endured death so that I might live. Is that not a God worth leaving everything for?
For more, be sure to listen to the entire message here.
I’ve had the privilege of taking a course on apologetics with Dr. Norman Geisler. He’s considered by many to be one of the foremost apologists alive today. I’ve certainly come to appreciate Dr. Geisler all the more since becoming one of his students.
In his lectures, he was adamant about driving home the twelve points that show Christianity is true. This is a logical case that starts by arguing for the existence of objective truth and concludes that the Bible is the Word of God. These twelve points have provided me with a strategy to keep in the back of my mind when asked about the veracity of the Christian faith. I hope this will be as helpful to you as it has been for me.
- Truth about reality is knowable.
- Opposites cannot both be true.
- The theistic God exists.
- If God exists, then miracles are possible.
- Miracles can be used to confirm a message from God.
- The New Testament is historically reliable.
- The New Testament says that Jesus claimed to be God.
- Jesus’ claim to be God is confirmed by miracles.
- Therefore, Jesus is God.
- Whatever Jesus (who is God) teaches is true.
- Jesus taught that the Bible is the Word of God.
- Therefore, it is true that the Bible is the Word of God (and anything opposed to it is false).
In episode 711, John Piper addresses Christians who are facing spiritual darkness, and calls them to sing and preach.
Do you want to know God’s will for your life — your job, your marriage, your ministry? In this sermon, John Piper helps us understand the will of God and how to know it. More than revealing his secret plans for tomorrow, God wants to make you new. That’s his good purpose for you in all things.
Women more than men adjust their careers for family life | Pew Research Center
“In a 2012 Pew Research survey, the vast majority of Americans (79%)rejected the notion that women should return to their traditional role in society. Yet when they were asked what is best for young children, very few adults (16%) said that having a mother who works full time is the “ideal situation.”
The Best Leaders Are Constant Learners| Harvard Business Review
“Leaders must scan the world for signals of change, and be able to react instantaneously. We live in a world that increasingly requires what psychologist Howard Gardner calls searchlight intelligence. That is, the ability to connect the dots between people and ideas, where others see no possible connection. An informed perspective is more important than ever in order to anticipate what comes next and succeed in emerging futures.”
A Wonderfully Helpful Piece of Advice in the Midst of Conflict | Borrowed Light
“It is a simple principle that every Christian knows—but for some reason we usually don’t apply it to conflict. Here it is: Our all-consuming aim is to please God. Whenever I make that my goal in relational conflict it changes things. It gives me something to hone my eyes and heart upon.”
Four Warning Signs You’re Approaching Burnout | Eric Geiger
Many leaders struggle with reading the signs that they are approaching burnout….Here are signs I look for and encourage other leaders to look for in their own lives.”
9 Things You Should Know About Global Persecution of Christians | TGC
Last week the State Department released its International Religious Freedom Report for 2014. Here’s Joe Carter’s commentary.
Single You Will Be the Married You | Desiring God
Marriage sanctifies but not immediately and not without pain.
What is the most common ministry priority neglected by pastors? | Practical Shepherding
Every pastor knows the answer to this without clicking.
I Want My Husband To Have A Gun On Campus | The Federalist
This is the most sensible suggestion that I’ve read recently.
Recommended New Book
The Meaning of Marriage Study Guide: A Vision for Married and Single People by Tim and Kathy Keller. So happy to see this companion study guide for The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God. It’s been the most influential marriage book I’ve read. Guess I can take down my “unofficial study guide” now that the real thing has arrived.
Mere Apologetics: How to Help Seekers and Skeptics Find Faith by Alister McGrath $3.99.
Faith Speaking Understanding: Performing the Drama of Doctrine by Kevin Vanhoozer $2.99.
Family Reunion after 40 Years
They were separated decades ago in South Korea only to have been reunited in Florida this year while working the same shift, on the same floor, in the same hospital.
Kindle deals for Christian readers
- The Atheist’s Fatal Flaw by Norman Geisler and Daniel McCoy—$1.99
- Help My Unbelief by Barnabas Piper—$3.99
- The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel—99¢
- Faith Speaking Understanding by Kevin J. Vanhoozer—$2.99
How do we engage the culture with convictional kindness? How do we remain compassionate and loving, even in the face of intense opposition and hostility? If we’re going to be obedient in this, we must have confidence.
To interpret Proverbs 22:6 as a promise without exceptions is to misread the genre. Sometimes, you’ll find children who are faithful to the Lord – more faithful than their parents. In these cases, the “good outcome” did not depend on their parents’ training.
Are you in spiritual danger? If you were, how would you know?
One key sign of spiritual danger is losing your joy. Don’t skim past what Paul says at the end of Philippians 3:1. “Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you” (Philippians 3:1). Paul reminds them to rejoice because it is safe.
Joy is one of the vital gauges on the dashboard of the Christian life. When the needle dips — when you lose your joy — you should take note. To stay safe, you need to pay attention to your joy.
The pressure, responsibilities, and pace placed on leaders can be immense. If leaders don’t care for themselves, burnout is inevitable. Sadly, many leaders struggle with reading the signs that they are approaching burnout. Despite all the advice, books, and sessions calling leaders to care for themselves, many leaders struggle with slowing down. Many fail to listen continually to their bodies, their friends, and their emotions.
Joe Carter offers an update on the plight of Christians around the globe:
Last week the State Department released its International Religious Freedom Report for 2014. A major concern addressed in this year’s report is the violent opposition to religious freedom, including the persecution of Christians. Here are nine things you should know about the persecution being faced by our brothers and sisters in Christ around the globe.
Today’s Kindle deals include Kindle devices: The base model is down to $59.99 and several others are discounted as well (including the Paperwhite). As for books, try Faith Speaking Understanding by Kevin Vanhoozer ($2.99) Religious Affections by Jonathan Edwards ($2.99), or Eight Twenty Eight by Ian & Larissa Murphy ($0.99).
The Ology is a neat new resource for kids from Marty Machowski. It is on sale this week at Westminster Books. It is also available at Amazon.
“Joining a gym won’t instantly transform your physique. Starting a blog won’t immediately make you a good writer. Purchasing a piano won’t make you a musician. The same principle is true for marriage. Getting married will not make you a good spouse or a better person.” Indeed.
Barry York wrote a sweet tribute to his mother.
“Passive sanctification is an error that has stalked and hurt the Christian church and many Christian lives through the years. The basic idea is that personal holiness is achieved without any personal activity, without any physical effort.” David Murray shows why this is attractive.
This Day in 1885. The martyrdom of two Christians in Africa inspired James Hannington to offer himself as a missionary 130 years ago today. *
Assurance is such a powerful and important doctrine.
“How do we engage the culture with convictional kindness? How do we remain compassionate and loving, even in the face of intense opposition and hostility? If we’re going to be obedient in this, we must have confidence.”
ARTICLES I LIKE FROM AROUND THE WEB:
(Click title to go to full article)
The Church is Not a Drive-Through Restaurant – “Paul describes the unity and diversity of gifts in the body of Christ by saying: ‘Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good’ (1 Cor. 12:4–7). All of us are gifted from the same Spirit; all of us are called to serve in the power of the same Lord; all of us are called to be active by the same God; all of us have gifts to serve the common good. As Paul goes on to say to the Corinthians, ‘all were made to drink of one Spirit’ (v. 13).”
Dawkins’ Mind Is Closed – “During the interview, Dawkins was asked ‘whether the atheist leader would ever change his mind about God, he said that he’s open to the idea. ‘Just show me some evidence and I’ll change,’ Dawkins said.’ Well, Dawkins has been shown overwhelming evidence by many people through books, discussions, a radio debate with my friend Dr. Andy McIntosh, and so on! In fact, God tells us that people like Richard Dawkins are without excuse (Romans 1:20). Dawkins reminds me of the Pharisees in John 9. After Jesus had healed the man blind from birth, the Pharisees questioned the man and his parents, and even with the evidence glaring at them, they refused to believe.”
Ben Carson and the Religious Test for Public Office – “Ben Carson doesn’t think a Muslim should be president and despite widespread criticism he hasn’t backed down. The controversy over Carson’s commentsencapsulates the ambiguity of our country’s relationship to religion — a relationship that goes back to the Founding Fathers and the writing of the Constitution. It’s clear that by not having an established national church, the earliest Americans did not want to impose a religious test for public office. No one would be automatically disqualified due to religious reasons.”
How to Know the Will of God – “We are going to look at the first two verses in Romans 12 and talk about the will of God, what it means, how to find it, and what it means to have your mind renewed to find it. As you know, chapter 12 follows the first eleven chapters. And it begins with a glorious ‘therefore’ (‘I appeal to you therefore’). The wonders that he is calling us into in walking with Christ in a renewed way are built on massive theology in chapters 1-11. It doesn’t get any bigger than Romans 1-11. It doesn’t get any deeper than Romans 1-11. And this is what it was all building towards: new minds discerning the will of God and lives of worship.”
14 Reasons to Memorize an Entire Book of the Bible – “I recently spent about 16 months memorizing 1 Corinthians and then recited it as a sermon to my church. I want that text in my blood. Here are some lessons I’ve learned along the way regarding both why and how to memorize an entire book of the Bible. Today I unpack the rationale for memorizing Scripture, and tomorrow I’ll provide a method I’ve found helpful for memorizing God’s Word. Here are 14 reasons to memorize a whole book of the Bible…”
John MacArthur – The First False Convert
Synergism: The Weak Jesus of Catholicism and Evangelicalism
“All death can do to the believer is deliver him to Jesus. It brings us into the eternal presence of our Savior.” – John MacArthur
Christian Headlines Daily – Wednesday, October 21, 2015
Church Attack Routs Thousands of Indonesian Christians
Family Uses Cancelled Wedding as Opportunity to Serve the Homeless
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How to Fail until You Succeed
By Chuck Lawless on Oct 21, 2015 01:00 am
READING: Matthew 17, Mark 9, Luke 9:28-62
TEXTS AND APPLICATION: They were Jesus’ disciples, but they could not cast out a demon. A hurting, desperate father brought his possessed son to the disciples, and the combined texts of the three gospel readings today speak of the tragedy: “I brought him to your disciples, but they couldn’t heal him” (Matt. 17:16); “so I asked your disciples to drive it out, but they couldn’t” (Mark 9:18); “I begged your disciples to drive it out, but they couldn’t” (Luke 9:40).
Both Matthew and Mark record Jesus’ words about why they could not cast out the demon. They had too little faith (Matt. 17:20), and they weren’t praying (Mark 9:29). Apparently, they had some faith they could cast out a demon, but that faith also apparently didn’t necessitate prayer. It’s quite likely they simply assumed that because they had previously been victorious in days gone by (Mark 6:12-13), they would necessarily be victorious this day, too. That is, they were banking on today’s victory on the basis of yesterday’s power.
And, as they learned, that’s a bad way to do ministry.
ACTION STEPS: Take up your cross today. Seek God today. Don’t assume victory this day just because you had victory yesterday.
PRAYER: “Father, thank You for a new day. Lead me in Your power today.”
Our Time is Short
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
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 is the Savior of the world. Discover who Jesus is today in this series.
Know Jesus Christ and your life will be transformed
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