Daily Archives: November 12, 2015

November 12, 2015 Christian Briefing Report

Nov 9 quotes


Concerning Red Cups, Coffee Companies, and Pseudo-Christian Things

Please don’t buy into this pseudo-Christian bologna. Perhaps instead of being phony, tell the barista that you hope they have a nice day. Get to know their names. (Your local barista does not make company policy.) Frequent there, and eventually, you might get to do real gospel work–sharing who Jesus is and what He has done for sinners (sinners who have done far worse things than not say, “Merry Christmas”).

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The New Intolerance of Student Activism

It ought to be disputed rather than indulged for the sake of these students, who need someone to teach them how empowered they are by virtue of their mere enrollment; that no one is capable of invalidating their existence, full stop; that their worth is inherent, not contingent; that everyone is offended by things around them; that they are capable of tremendous resilience; and that most possess it now despite the disempowering ideology foisted on them by well-intentioned, wrongheaded ideologues encouraging them to imagine that they are not privileged.

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How Arminian Has The Sanctification Debate Become?

Canons thoroughly demonstrate that when God elects someone to salvation, he will give them a living faith, assured confidence, peace of conscience, and every other saving good, including holiness. This makes the doctrine of election a sweet encouragement to the believer’s conscience, as God intended it to be. Maybe what this sanctification debate needs to recover is a robust understanding again of the Reformed doctrine of predestination.

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Study: Thankfulness still priority at Thanksgiving

Study: Thankfulness still priority at Thanksgiving

Posted on November 12, 2015 by Baptist Press

For Americans, Thanksgiving is about faith and family, and not much else, a new LifeWay Research study shows. More than half (56 percent) tell LifeWay Research the most important part of the annual holiday is ‘being thankful to God for my blessings.’

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Six signs of a dysfunctional home group

Six signs of a dysfunctional home group

Posted on November 12, 2015 by Christian Today

Most of us will have been part of a slightly dodgy one at some point, and here’s a few signs that yours might be one of them…

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3 Online Trends Parents Need to Warn Their Kids About

3 Online Trends Parents Need to Warn Their Kids About

Posted on November 11, 2015 by Crosswalk

Did you know that 70% of teens hide their online activity, 59% interact online with strangers, and one in twelve will meet that stranger in real life?

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Tell Us How to Help You Stand

by Erin Davis

How can we help you stand for truth? Weigh in.

This Changes Everything

by Samantha Nieves

Gospel focus cultivates gratitude in ways we’d never expect.

The Secret That Diamonds Tell

by Bethany Baird

We’re like diamonds in the rough. Unless we’re willing to endure the hard stuff, we’ll never fully develop into the gems God created us to be.

An Unexpected Prescription for Panic

by Erin Davis

I wish I was always cool as a cucumber, but the reality is that sometimes life makes me anxious. What should we do when anxiety hits? The Bible offers a surprising prescription.


Common Core and Eroding Education

It would appear our power grabbing U.S. government survived the backlash against the controversial implementation of Common Core State Standards in our education system. Sadly, many citizens have no idea what this is all about. The stage had to be set years ago and the players had to be in place in order for such […]

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Coming Together as “One”

There is a unity of true believers Jesus prayed for in John Chapter 17–where the apostles would be one in belief, purpose and love of and commitment to God and His Word. Then there is the counterfeit “unity” that Satan has been orchestrating in the darkness, convincing men that if we just come together and […]

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Cheapening Grace, Part Three – Church & Culture Blog

So what does it mean practically when we cheapen grace? There is an interesting case study in the New Testament in one of the letters written by the Apostle Paul to the church at Corinth related to an incident of cheap grace.
 
I can hardly believe the report about the sexual immorality going on among you — something that even pagans don’t do. I am told that a man in your church is living in sin with his stepmother. You are so proud of yourselves, but you should be mourning in sorrow and shame. And you should remove this man from your fellowship.
 
Even though I am not with you in person, I am with you in the Spirit. And as though I were there, I have already passed judgment on this man in the name of the Lord Jesus… you must throw this man out…. Don’t you realize that this sin is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough?
 
When I wrote to you before, I told you not to associate with people who indulge in sexual sin. But I wasn’t talking about unbelievers who indulge in sexual sin, or are greedy, or cheat people, or worship idols. You would have to leave this world to avoid people like that. I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in [such sins]…. Don’t even eat with such people.
 
It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning. God will judge those on the outside; but as the Scriptures say, “You must remove the evil person from among you.” (I Cor. 5:1-13, NLT)
 
Someone in the church was engaging in a sexual sin. He was unwilling to repent, unwilling to say it was wrong, and he even flaunted it. In my time as a pastor, sadly I’ve seen this happen first-hand. And when you see people make a choice against the moral will of God, they tend to go in one of three directions: repent, flee or harden.
 
Those who repent have their heart break over what they’ve done, they seek forgiveness and reconciliation and do whatever it takes to get back on track.
 
Those who flee do so because they don’t want to stop what they’re doing, and they don’t want to have to face the consequences of what they have done. So they flee the church, the people in the church or those that represent their faith, and sometimes, even their closest friends and family. They run away from responsibility and accountability and they have too much pride to come clean about their sin or failure or weakness.
 
Those who harden themselves, however, are the ones who put their souls in the most danger. They make a choice for sin and disobedience, which they know is wrong, but instead of repenting, or even running away, their hearts turn hard and they say, “Who are you to tell me what’s wrong?  Don’t judge me!”
 
Then they get militant, mean-spirited, hardened, resolved, defiant and rebellious about their choice. It’s frighteningly dark. They shut down their hearts and turn cold and rebellious. Morality is flipped on its head as bad becomes good, wrong becomes right, and some even become almost boastful about their choice.
 
Paul felt it important to write to the Corinthians about this because the church had so screwed up grace that they thought the only thing real grace called for was acceptance, affirmation, and continuing on as if nothing was happening! Paul’s response to this was swift and to the point:
 
… you should be mourning in sorrow and shame. And you should remove this man from your fellowship. (I Cor. 5:2, NLT)
 
Now we don’t like words like that, but the alternative is to make the church’s reputation a joke. And even worse, to fail to act would be to trample on the cross of Christ and make a mockery of it.
 
We are not to judge others in the world, but we are to make honest assessments of ourselves as Christ followers. And if someone claims to be a Christ follower and flagrantly parades a life that dishonors Christ, then we are to stand up for the reputation of Christ and His Church.
 
Paul says we should not even eat with them – meaning, socialize with them – while they are in that state, because it sends out the signal we are affirming their choices. They must know that no one associated with Christ feels anything but disdain for those actions.
 
Grace is meant to be applied to something. But make sure you understand it is not to be applied to sin. Grace is applied to repentance and to remorse. Grace is applied to someone who screws up, but admits they have screwed up.
 
For someone who refuses to do that, who flagrantly flaunts their sin, grace doesn’t apply to that. Grace is not about an easy “off the hook” for whatever you want to do, and it’s not about affirmation. Grace isn’t about accepting someone who says they are in Christ when they are living in a way that shames Christ – and they know it, and don’t care.
 
So be careful when you say, “Well, I sin, too, so who am I to judge?”
 
That’s not what this is about. There are things we are supposed to be discerning about. There are things that no matter how sin-stained we are, the church is to look at and take a stand against for the sake of Christ such as the wholesale embrace of sin without remorse, without blushing, flagrantly flaunting it before the world as if it’s honoring Christ.
 
That is beyond heinous, beyond shameful and beyond repugnant. That’s cheap grace, which is no grace at all. And you have to get this right or you screw up the entire Christian faith.
 
So has Meck ever removed people from membership for this? Sadly, yes. Not often – in fact I can’t even count it on one hand. But we’ve done this because the church is to be protected. The church has a collective witness; it stands for something, and membership should stand for something.
 
Because Christ stands for something.
 
If there is a habit or pattern or act of sin that brings reproach upon the church and its mission and ministry, a member who refuses to turn away from a life that brings shame on the reputation of Jesus, it must be dealt with by the leaders of the church  lovingly, and as privately as possible, with the goal of repentance and restoration. But it must not be avoided.
 
Grace is to flow freely toward our sin. We are all sinners – weak, frail and fragile. And we screw up a thousand times a day. The grace that was gifted to us through Christ not only saved us from our sin, but continually washes over us every day of our life. And we are to make sure we let it wash over others in Christ. No one was more of a champion for that grace than the Apostle Paul.
 
But when someone wants to take that amazing grace and cheapen it, distort it, reconfigure and redefine it for the purpose of pursuing sin, to use grace to say that their sin is good, acceptable, or not sin at all…
 
That cannot be allowed.
 
And the church, and those in it, must be clear about this. Or else the world will believe that we approve of such behavior, and thus dishonor the name of Christ. And we cannot, must not, dishonor the name of Christ.
 
So where are you with cheap grace? C.S. Lewis once wrote that God gives when He finds empty hands. Are your hands empty? Empty through remorse or repentance? Or are they full because you are clinging to your sin? Defiant?
 
Grace must be received. You empty your hands by admitting guilt. If you admit no guilt, there can be no forgiveness. That’s why cheap grace is no grace at all.
 
But real grace?
 
Nothing is more amazing.
 
James Emery White
 
 
Sources
 
C.S. Lewis, Letters to an American Lady.
 
Adapted from the third installment of “Getting Grace Right,” a series at Mecklenburg Community Church, Charlotte, North Carolina. If you would like to listen to this address as originally delivered, as well as the series of which it was a part, click here. To read the first two installments of this blog series, click here.
 

About the Author
 
James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. His latest book, The Rise of the Nones: Understanding and Reaching the Religiously Unaffiliated, is available on Amazon. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church and Culture blog, visit ChurchAndCulture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.

What Seems Right May Be Wrong

Every Christian wants to see the church grow. Jesus made it clear before He ascended to the Father that His followers are to be His witnesses. Believers are called to share the good news of the gospel until He returns. We want to see our churches filled to overflowing. This is right. But what happens when the Christian church, in its zeal to reach the unconverted, begins to embrace methods to attract the lost that are extra-biblical?

We must always remember that a zealous Christian leader, who has the ability to communicate, can be a subtle deceiver if he or she mixes truth with error. That is why everyone needs to be open to correction from God’s Word. Further, it is a fact that when those who are deceived (yet convinced they are standing on the truth) are confronted with biblical truth, they simply cannot see their error.

In the book of Proverbs, we are told why. Solomon wrote, “All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits.” [1] Then to make the point even more evident, a few verses later we are admonished, “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” [2]

The Bible clearly warns us that we are to be cautious about following the ideas of men, when the men who are promoting the ideas may be ignoring what God has said in His Word. In other words, there is a danger when we pay attention to what men are saying if what they are saying does not line up with what God has already said in His Word.

At the present time, there is a trend well underway that is enticing many Christians. They perceive that this present generation is attracted to experience and not impressed by biblical exegesis. If a church can provide the “Christian experiences” that attract their attention, Christianity can be expanded. Sensory, experiential, liturgical, and sacramental encounters, they say, can be effective.

However, based on church history, such methodology has been around for a while. While it may attract those who are looking for a spiritual experience, experience without a biblical basis can be very deceptive. What’s more, if that experience has an occultic premise, it is downright dangerous.

Once more, the Scriptures shed light on what happens when human ways are promoted without God’s endorsement. Jesus said:

This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. And he called the multitude, and said unto them, hear, and understand.[3]

It’s as simple as this: Methods based on man’s views can be right in the eyes of men but in opposition with Jesus and His Word. That is why we must be like the Bereans who “searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” [4]

Remember – the last days will be days when deception will grow stronger and stronger. Deception means that truth can be compromised. Let us thank God we have His Word to keep us on track.

[1] Proverbs 16: 2

[2] Proverbs 16: 25

[3]  Matthew 15: 9-11

[4]  Acts 17:11


 

Spiritual Growth Is Not Optional

Spiritual Growth Is Not OptionalGod is not done with his work when we first believe and are saved. He intends day by day to make us into what we already are in Christ. Spiritual growth is not optional or marginal in the Christian life. Every person that truly believes in Christ is being increasingly transformed into his likeness.

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Theological Quizzes in PDF Format

Theology QuizzesA few weeks ago I began to share theological quizzes. These were created using software that allows them to be completed and graded interactively. Since I began sharing these quizzes, many people have requested versions they could download and print. I went ahead and created those versions as well, and you can now download them in PDF format. Each quiz contains a question sheet followed by an answer key. You are free to copy, share, and print them as you see fit.

As I complete new quizzes, I will add them to this page.


Check Out

Blogs

Are You a Proficiently Reliant Pastor? | Jason Helopolous, The Gospel Coalition
Jason speaks to the importance of a pastor’s personal relationship with God and how it relates to his ability to pastor.

Do men need sex? Wants vs. needs and the making of weak men | Musings of a Christian Psychologist
“…when we see [sex] as a need, we are encouraging men to see themselves as weak and incapable of living without sex.”

Marriage is Not the Most Sanctifying Agent | Sayable
Great thoughts by Lore not only on sanctification but also on checking our clichéd phrases by the Word of God.

Christian toyshop owner puts Sunday over sales | Aaron James, Premier

How To Get Students To Stop Using Their Cellphones In Class | NPR
Should college classrooms be no-phone zones? An innovative solution.

New Book

Awe: Why It Matters for Everything We Think, Say, and Do by Paul David Tripp ($9.59 Kindle, $14.49 Hardcover)]

Kindle Deals

Special pricing on three of my eBooks.

The Christian Ministry by David Murray ($0.99)

The Christian Life by David Murray ($0.99)

The Christian Faith: Teaching Outlines from the Westminster Standards by David Murray ($0.99)

And here’s one that came highly recommended to me. It’s about the construction and destruction of the railroad to the Florida Keys.

Last Train to Paradise: Henry Flagler and the Spectacular Rise and Fall of the Railroad that Crossed an Ocean $1.99.

Video

Chris Christie’s Plea To Change How America Handles Drug Addicts
Moving words from this politician about how our society views life from beginning to end.


Help For Hurting Churches Dealing With Apostacy

What would you say to a church where two of its most promising young “Christians” had not only left the faith but had turned against it with mockery and hostility? That’s the very real scenario I was asked to address a while ago at a small gathering of pastors and elders. It is undoubtedly one of the most agonizing and disturbing experiences in the Christian life when a dear friend or family member, abandons his/her profession of faith. I’ve known this very personally and painfully, both among my relations and in my pastoral ministry.

I was asked to give some guidance to these pastors and elders on how to deal with such situations in their own congregations. I assumed that every attempt had been made to recover the lost “sheep,” and that the members had been excommunicated. So my advice was really limited to how to minister to the hurting and puzzled sheep who remain. Leaning heavily on John Owen’s epic work on apostasy, I suggested a series of sermons on the following themes (the same subjects should also be emphasized in pastoral visitation).

1. The perseverance of the saints

Some Christians will be shaken by the apostasy of another professing Christian. “If he can fall then what hope is there for me?” So, preach God’s great promises of eternal security to His true people (John 6:394010:28,29).

2. Apostasy is to be expected

This should really be preached before apostasy occurs, to prevent people being taken by surprise when it does happen. The whole Old Testament is a story of Israel’s apostasy. In the New Testament, we have individual apostates such as Judas and Demas. Some in Corinth denied the resurrection, and some in Galatia went back to the law as a way of salvation. No wonder the Apostles urged the churches to expect apostasy (Acts 20:29-30; 1 Cor. 11:19; 1 Tim. 4:1; 5:8; Jude; 1 John 2:19).

3. The danger areas of apostasy

John Owen highlighted three areas in which apostasy usually begins: doctrine, lifestyle, and worship.

Owen traced doctrinal apostasy to a lack of Christian experience. He said that when someone has no experience of personal need, no sense of God’s righteousness, no spiritual sight of Christ’s glory, no submission to the sovereignty of God, and no trembling at God’s Word, then doctrinal apostasy is just around the corner.

Owen actually regarded an unholy lifestyle as more likely to produce apostasy than abandoning some Christian doctrines. He saw both legalism and lawlessness as leading eventually to apostasy.

Owen also argued that if we neglect, refuse to observe, or add to God’s instructions for worship, apostasy will not be far behind.

Pastors should highlight these three danger areas of doctrine, lifestyle, and worship, and urge watchfulness upon the flock.

4. The causes of apostasy

Owen went on to list particular causes of apostasy, so that pastors and their congregations will “watch and pray.”

  • Deeply-rooted and unremoved enmity in the minds of many against spiritual things
  • Pride and vanity of the mind which refuses to bow before the authority of Scripture
  • Sloth and negligence
  • False assurance and groundless self-confidence
  • False sense of security due to neglect of the Spirit’s warnings about apostasy
  • Love of the world and its passing pleasures (Demas in 2 Tim. 4:10)
  • As the first “apostate” Satan draws many into apostasy and forces others to apostatize through persecution
  • Persons in high positions in the church leading evil lives (Jer. 23:15; 1 Sam. 2:12-17)
  • Unrepented national sins that influence the people
  • Divisions in the church
  • The uselessness of many Christians

5. The distinction between a stumble (Peter) and a fall (Judas)

Pastors need to skillfully distinguish between a Christian’s stumble and an apostate’s fall. Every Christian errs in doctrine, falls into sin, and offers faulty worship from time to time. That does not make them an apostate. Owen defined apostasy as “continued persistent rebellion and disobedience to God and his word,” or “total and final and public renunciation of all the chief principles and doctrines of Christianity.”

6. The abomination of apostasy

Hebrews 6 describes apostasy as “crucifying again the Son of God and putting him to an open shame.” By declaring they have tried Christ and His Gospel and found no truth or goodness in them, apostates do exactly what the Jews did. In fact, Owen says Christian apostasy is worse because the Jews did it in “ignorance.”

7. God’s judgment on apostasy

In addition to reminding the professing Christians in the congregation of how abominable apostasy is in God’s sight, they also need to be shown from Scripture the temporal, spiritual, and eternal judgments that fall on apostates. God uses His descriptions of how he abominates and judges apostasy as a means of grace to keep people from apostasy.

8. The need for perseverance

God’s great promises of the perseverance of the saints are given to those who persevere in the means of preservation that God has provided. Christians need to be reminded of the incalculable need and value of the Church, the Word, the sacraments, and fellowship.

9. How to avoid apostasy

John Owen wanted Christians to know that apostasy could be avoided by heart-cure and heart-care (Prov. 4:23). Keep the Gospel at the very center of our hearts; love its truth and experience its power there. Keep sin out of our hearts, especially the highly-dangerous sins of spiritual pride and a censorious, judgmental spirit.

Conclusion

When apostasy occurs in a congregation, it is often tempting to ignore it and put up the “business as usual” sign. However, this does not address the deep needs of Christians and non-Christians who are hurt and perplexed by such events. It also misses the opportunity to prepare the church for future disappointments. So, I would encourage pastors and elders to focus on these nine themes, both in public and in private.


Looking Death in the Face

Birth and death are the brackets of life which enclose us in the present. They are, however, quite different — birth exudes potential; death offends it, bringing life to a bitter and abrupt conclusion. Try as we may, even the best embalmers fail to restore the beauty of life.

It is taboo to talk about death, that is, until it is foisted upon us. Having looked into the face of death three times in the recent past, I have a few observations. The first instance was a stillborn child. I met baby Iris in an isolette beside her sleeping Mother, wrapped in a blanket with a cute little hat on her head. Looking down upon this precious baby, now dead, I was struck by death’s irreversibility. It destroys our hopes, dreams, and longings. Unnatural and grotesque, death — especially this sort — is a nightmare.

Through his death and resurr­ection­, Jesus conquered death’s claim, robbing it of its sting.

TWEET

Much different by comparison, the second encounter with death struck a 94-year-old woman who happened to be my beloved Grandmother. She died with peace and dignity, surrounded by family and friends. I am told that before her final breath, Grandma was talking to deceased relatives as though they were at the foot of her bed. Perhaps the most poignant moment occurred at the funeral when my five cousins and I carried her casket into the church. Six Italian boys, whom Grandma once carried into their little sleeping bags after a long night of dancing the tarantella, now carefully bore her body to its final resting place.

The third instance of death happened closer to home when I learned that my wife had experienced a miscarriage. The words of Job 1:21 welled up within me, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Death, even when it is in utero, is a wound to the living.

Responding to Death

When I visited baby Iris, I was greeted by her Daddy, a young man whose wedding I officiated. He escorted me to the isolette and asked, “Would you like to see our beautiful. daughter?” I must confess, even though I have sat beside several dying congregants as a pastor, this was too much to bear. After a deep breath I silently prayed, “God, please give me a timely word for this Dad.” I then looked him in the eye and stated, “One day, when Jesus returns with healing in his wings, the light of his presence will illumine the face of dear Iris. On that day she will look at you with a smile as wide as the horizon and call you ‘Daddy.’ Now is the time for grief, tears, and indescribable loss, but the day is coming when God will wipe away our tears and make all things new.”

Does theology matter? You’d better believe it. In such moments it means everything. Such was also evident at Grandma’s wake service. The associate pastor from her Catholic parish offered a homily: “Because Grandma was a good person, we can be sure that she is in heaven. And since she is now in heaven with Jesus, she serves as our connection to God. Therefore, we ought to pray to Grandma and let her bring us to Jesus.” It was a theological (and pastoral) train wreck.

Thankfully, I had been asked to conclude the service. It turned out to be the longest benediction I’ve ever given in my life: “Dear family and friends, there is one name under heaven by which we are saved, Jesus Christ. There is one Mediator between God and man, Christ Jesus. And let us be clear, there is one name in which we dare to approach Almighty God in prayer; it is the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.” The relevance of theology is most evident when we find ourselves before a loved one staring at her coffin.

The Opportunity of Death

When the friends of Job visited him after his children’s death, they missed an opportunity. They started well by joining their tears with his and then sitting on the ground for seven days and nights without speaking. Such empathy and economy of words is always appropriate in the midst suffering. “I am sorry,” is usually the best response. “I know how you feel,” is typically not. An arm on the shoulder, a kiss on the cheek, these are the gestures that comfort. To simply be present, sitting quietly and available to listen, is perhaps the greatest gift that we can offer. Job’s friends managed to do this for a week. If only they had continued.

After an appropriate period of quietness in which the grieving person overcomes the initial shock of death, we ought to offer an expression of hope. It may sound cliché to unbelieving ears, perhaps even presumptuous; but the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the antidote to grief. In Job’s words:

For I know that my Redeemer lives,

and at last he will stand upon the earth,

and after my skin has been thus destroyed,

yet in my flesh I shall see God,

whom I shall see for myself,

and my eyes shall behold, and not another. (Job 19:25-27)

When death — the intrusive stranger — steps into our world to claim its due, we have no human recourse, no defense. The Grim Reaper’s sickle, however, only reaches so far. Yes, all of humanity is exposed to his blade, but there is One who has overcome the sickle. Through his death and resurrection, Jesus conquered the Reaper’s claim, robbing death of its sting. Now, through his shed blood and resurrection, men and women in Christ have the audacity to look upon caskets with hearts that are simultaneously aching and full of hope, knowing that today’s grief will eventually recede before the realization of eternal life.

RELATED POSTS:

Looking Death in the Face

The post Looking Death in the Face appeared first on Unlocking the Bible.


Why We Know the New Testament Gospels Were Written Early (Cold Case Christianity Broadcast #51)

In this episode of the Cold-Case Christianity Broadcast, J. Warner Wallace describes the evidence for the early dating of the Gospels. Why is this issue important to those who are examining the claims of Christianity? How does early dating contribute to the reliability of the Gospel authors as eyewitnesses? What other problem does early dating resolve? (For more information, visit http://www.ColdCaseChristianity.com)

Here is the audio podcast (the Cold-Case Christianity Weekly Podcast is located on iTunes or our RSS Feed):

https://html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/3939904/height/50/width/580/theme/standard/direction/no/autoplay/no/autonext/no/thumbnail/yes/preload/no/no_addthis/no/


Links I like

 

Christ in the Old Testament Infographics

David Murray and Cameron Morgan teamed up on a series of Christ in the Old Testament infographics. Be sure to grab these.

Patience is Not Optional for the Christian

Albert Mohler:

Most of us recognize that patience is one of the cardinal Christian virtues—we’re just in no hurry to obtain it. Others just define patience as a delay in getting what we want. As Margaret Thatcher once famously remarked: “I am extraordinarily patient, provided I get my own way in the end.” In today’s fast-paced society and self-centered culture, patience is quickly disappearing, even among Christians.

We All Got What We Wanted From the Red Cup

A thoughtful word from Aaron Earls:

Yes, we’re all tired of talking about it. The color of coffee cups has dominated social media feeds and water cooler discussions for the past few days.

But whether we care to admit it or not, everybody involved got what they wanted out of the Starbucks red cup controversy.

While you may have lost track of who exactly is outraged at whom, the winners in this latest cultural kerfuffle are obvious.

10 Serious Problems with Jesus Calling

If someone in your life has been reading this book, this is worth reading. It’ll help you with figuring out the right questions to ask.

Debunking Stupid Statements about the Bible

Greg Gilbert:

Is having The Original Piece of Paper really the only way we can have any confidence that what we do have is in fact what was written? Are we forever doomed to saying that we don’t really have any idea what Homer or Plato wrote because we don’t have the pieces of paper on which they wrote The Odyssey or The Republic? Certainly not, and to say so would be ridiculously pedantic. So what about the documents of the Bible? Are we really left simply to give up and admit that all we have are a bunch of useless copies of copies of copies of copies, and that we’ll never have any confidence that what we have is what the authors actually wrote?

Well, no. In fact, even though we don’t have the Bible’s Original Pieces of Paper, we can in fact be highly confident that we know what those original pieces of paper said. Now how can that be?


A La Carte (November 12)

I managed to dig up only a couple of new Kindle deals today: The Archaeology Book by David Down ($2.99) and What Do You Think of Me? Why Do I Care? by Ed Welch ($0.99). You might also enjoy God’s Crime Scene by J. Warner Wallace ($5.38).

Ten Diagnostic Questions for Your Marriage

Kevin DeYoung has some good, simple diagnostic questions for your marriage.

Patience is Not Optional for the Christian

Al Mohler: “Most of us recognize that patience is one of the cardinal Christian virtues—we’re just in no hurry to obtain it.”

By His Grace God Wounded Me

Darryl Dash: “I’m much weaker than I like to admit, and I carry more than I should. It’s good that I want to work hard and get things done; it’s bad that I forget that I’m weak, and that I carry anxieties I should have handed over to him a long time ago.”

Getting a Job in Publishing

Andy Le Peau offers some useful counsel on finding a job in the publishing field.

To Moms of One or Two Children

A mother of five children writes to mothers of one or two children.

This Day in 1950. Paul Tripp turns 65 today. You can wish him a happy birthday!

Evaluating Seventh-day Adventism

Nathan Busenitz provides a brief video introduction to Seventh Day Adventism. He also provides some analysis of what they believe and what areas are problematic.

We’re Moving to Greenland

I enjoyed this little photo essay on people who are moving to Greenland, of all places. And it made me wonder if there are sound, Evangelical churches in Greenland.


Featured Blogs

Christian Top Headlines

 Family Receives Unexpected Blessing after Dining at Oklahoma Restaurant
 Divorced Individuals: ‘Staying in Less Than Perfect Marriage is Infinitely Preferable’
 Highlights from the Fourth Republican Debate
 University of Missouri President Cites Scripture in Resignation Speech
 Daycare Manager Fired for Refusing to Call Girl a Boy
 Denzel Washington Says He Wants to ‘Speak about What God Has Done for Me’
 Is Interest in Christian Community Fading?
 Christianity is Not Declining in America, Baylor Professors Say
 5 Things to Know about Veterans Day
 Taiwanese Pastor Detained in China after Visiting Unauthorized Christian Church

Opinion

 Bad Blood: Why is Pop Music So Angry?
 What Happened When a Family Prayed at a Restaurant
 Mizzou and a More Excellent Way
 Surviving Hitler’s ‘Hell-Hole’: Remembering Frank Kravetz
 The Story Behind the Navy Hymn: in Honor of Veterans Day 2015

The Daily Discovery (November 12, 2015)

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

10 Serious Problems with Jesus Calling – “Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling is a phenomenon that shows no signs of slowing down. According to publisher Thomas Nelson, it ‘continues to grow in units sold each year since it was released [and] has surpassed 15 million copies sold.’ Nelson is involved in an expansive new marketing campaign that involves a new web site and daily radio devotionals. ECPA reports that ‘Thomas Nelson began its partnership with the Salem Media group to provide 60-second daily messages on Eric Metaxas’ show, which is carried on more than 100 stations nationwide and worldwide on SiriusXM Radio. The Jesus Calling radio devotional reaches more than 500,000 people each day through these segments.’ With 15 million copies sold, it has marched its way into rare company.”

Scarlett Johansson, Sexing Up The Bible Won’t Defeat Christianity – “As a Christian, I don’t know if it’s good form to give tactical advice to those on the other side of the spiritual warfare battlefield. Since I don’t desire Christianity’s destruction, I probably shouldn’t offer any pointers for how to accomplish this to those want to raze the world’s sanctuaries and tango atop the rubble.
On the other hand, Jesus did promise that the gates of hell will not prevail against his church, so giving despisers of the faith a more effective strategy to accomplish a goal they’ll never accomplish is a bit of a sanctified brag, a holy boast in the Savior whose supposed weakness is infinitely stronger than the strength of his enemies. So, in response to Scarlett Johansson reading sections of the Bible in a ‘porn voice’ on ‘Saturday Night Live’ writer Mike O’Brien’s upcoming comedy album, let’s go with the other hand.”

Heck: It’s not civil rights — it’s a revolution – “At the outset of the modern gay rights movement in 1989, homosexual activists Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen authored a text called ‘After the Ball,’ in which they laid out a comprehensive strategy to revolutionize American society in favor of homosexualism. Eschewing mere tolerance or acceptance, Kirk and Madsen made clear the objective of the movement would be complete conversion of American society, affirming that it was their ‘highest goal.’”

3 Ways Women in Ministry Can Humbly Submit to Church Leaders – “In the course of ministry and editing Word-Filled Women’s Ministry, co-editor Kathleen Nielson and I heard many women grieve over their pastors’ lack of support for women’s ministry. But we’ve also heard many cheerfully report ministry among women is thriving because of their pastors’ involvement.”

Patience is Not Optional for the Christian – “Most of us recognize that patience is one of the cardinal Christian virtues—we’re just in no hurry to obtain it. Others just define patience as a delay in getting what we want. As Margaret Thatcher once famously remarked: ‘I am extraordinarily patient, provided I get my own way in the end.’ In today’s fast-paced society and self-centered culture, patience is quickly disappearing, even among Christians.”


SERMON:

John MacArthur – The Lord’s Word to His Church: Laodicea


VIDEOS:

Confess With Your Mouth and You Will Be Saved?

Beware Of The False Conversion


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


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.


What Is the Gospel?

There is no greater message to be heard than that which we call the gospel. But as important as that is, it is often given to massive distortions or over simplifications. People think they’re preaching the gospel to you when they tell you, ‘you can have a purpose to your life’, or that ‘you can have meaning to your life’, or that ‘you can have a personal relationship with Jesus.’ All of those things are true, and they’re all important, but they don’t get to the heart of the gospel.

The gospel is called the ‘good news’ because it addresses the most serious problem that you and I have as human beings, and that problem is simply this: God is holy and He is just, and I’m not. And at the end of my life, I’m going to stand before a just and holy God, and I’ll be judged. And I’ll be judged either on the basis of my own righteousness–or lack of it –or the righteousness of another. The good news of the gospel is that Jesus lived a life of perfect righteousness, of perfect obedience to God, not for His own well being but for His people. He has done for me what I couldn’t possibly do for myself. But not only has He lived that life of perfect obedience, He offered Himself as a perfect sacrifice to satisfy the justice and the righteousness of God.

The great misconception in our day is this: that God isn’t concerned to protect His own integrity. He’s a kind of wishy-washy deity, who just waves a wand of forgiveness over everybody. No. For God to forgive you is a very costly matter. It cost the sacrifice of His own Son. So valuable was that sacrifice that God pronounced it valuable by raising Him from the dead – so that Christ died for us, He was raised for our justification. So the gospel is something objective. It is the message of who Jesus is and what He did. And it also has a subjective dimension. How are the benefits of Jesus subjectively appropriated to us? How do I get it? The Bible makes it clear that we are justified not by our works, not by our efforts, not by our deeds, but by faith–and by faith alone. The only way you can receive the benefit of Christ’s life and death is by putting your trust in Him–and in Him alone. You do that, you’re declared just by God, you’re adopted into His family, you’re forgiven of all of your sins, and you have begun your pilgrimage for eternity.


The Gospel on 5 Fingers

If you picked up a hitchhiker (not that I recommend doing that) and he saw a Bible on your car seat and said, “I’ve heard about this thing called the Gospel – can you explain it to me before you drop me off in one minute up the street?” What would you say?

Can you explain the gospel in 30 seconds? In one minute? In five minutes?

Here’s one way I have found helpful. The five main components of the gospel can be remembered on 5 fingers of one hand. Here they are:

1) Jesus’ birth
2) Jesus’ life
3) Jesus’ death
4) Jesus’ resurrection
5) Jesus’ ascension

Obviously each point can be elaborated on depending on how much time you have. Here’s the short version:

1) Jesus’ birth – Jesus, God himself, the creator of the universe, the Messiah, became a human being – took on flesh, and was born of a virgin.

2) Jesus’ life – Jesus lived a life of perfect obedience to his Father. Though he was tempted in every way as we are, he never once sinned.

3) Jesus’ death – on the cross, Jesus himself took all our sins and paid for them. God the father counted all our sins to Jesus as if he himself had personally committed them. Then Jesus bore God’s wrath towards sin – the punishment we deserved – as a substitute for us.

4) Jesus’ resurrection – within 3 days, Jesus rose physically from the dead, proving that his sacrifice for sins have been accepted by God, since the punishment for sin was death. Jesus was seen by numerous people after he rose including 500 at one time (1 Corinthians 15).

5) Jesus’ ascension – Jesus ascended physically into heaven where he reigns as King of kings and Lord of lords. And someday he will return to the earth.

That’s the gospel, the good news, and if we believe in Jesus Christ and this good news and call upon him he will save us from our sins and give us eternal life.

That’s a simple way to remember the gospel – five fingers. Even a child can do it. So ask God to give you opportunities to share his good news today.


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

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(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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Brainwashed by secular left radicals, college students reject freedom of speech

WINTERY KNIGHT

No media allowed, because it's a "safe space" No media allowed, because it’s a “safe space”

I can’t link to every article I’ve read about this topic in the last few days, but I thought that I’d better put up something about what is happening on university campuses, now that Judeo-Christian values have been driven out.

Moderate conservative David French posts this message from the University of Missouri in National Review:

The secular left's fascism on university campuses The secular left’s fascism on university campuses

So, if you feel offended by someone else’s free speech, the laws of the United States do not allow you to punish them. But university campuses are their own little fascist societies, run by secular leftist tyrants. They have ways of getting around the laws of the United States, even as they grow fat from taxpayer subsidies. It’s just disgusting. This is why we need to either scale back non-STEM departments in universities. Indoctrination programs will stop when we remove all…

View original post 918 more words

Dealing the Problem “Why Aren’t More Intellectuals Believers?”

November 12, 2015 US and World Briefing Report

IMG_2832


Nov. 12, 2015

BLOOMBERG

Newly elected House Speaker Paul Ryan warned President Barack Obama on Tuesday against attempting to use an executive order to close the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The world’s six largest publicly traded oil producers have more than a half-trillion dollars in stock and cash to snap up rival explorers. Exxon Mobil Corp. tops the list with a total of $320 billion for potential acquisitions. Chevron is next with $65 billion in cash and its own shares tucked away, followed by BP Plc with $53 billion.

Consumer confidence steadied after declining for the previous three weeks as Americans’ views toward spending improved by the most in five months.

Applications for unemployment benefits were unchanged in the first week of November, signaling employers with a healthier appetite for hiring are also holding the line on firings. Jobless claims held at 276,000 in the week ended Nov. 7.

Glencore dropped below a pound for the first time in a month as a six-day selloff in the stock accelerated and metal prices showed no signs of recovery.

Mario Draghi signaled that the European Central Bank is ready to boost its stimulus programs next month as inflation wanes and economic prospects worsen.

AP Top Stories

The Obama administration is moving to designate the Islamic State’s murderous attacks on the Yazidi in Iraq an act of “genocide,” an extremely rare move intended to ratchet up international pressure against the terror organization.

At least 100 soldiers and fighters were killed in northern Syria in just over 24 hours of fierce fighting earlier this week as pro-government forces reached an airbase that had long been besieged by Islamic State.

Islamic State has released a video threatening attacks in Russia “very soon”, the SITE monitoring group said on Thursday.

A drone crashed into the Seattle Great Wheel, an enormous attraction on the Pacific Northwest city’s waterfront, on Wednesday night, but no injuries or damage were immediately reported.

A Hong Kong billionaire spent a record $48.4 million buying a 12.03-carat diamond dubbed “Blue Moon” for his daughter in an auction in Geneva.

In the month since the Umpqua Community College shooting in Oregon – in which a 26-year-old man killed eight students and a professor – Congress has turned not to gun control, but mental health.

The nuclear deal reached between world powers and Iran could lead to better relations between Tehran and Washington if the United States apologized for past behavior.

It may look little more than blackboard scrawls to the untrained eye, but a Cy Twombly work fetched $70.53 million in New York on Wednesday, setting a new auction record for the painter.

Students were set to walk out of classrooms across the United States on Thursday to protest ballooning student loan debt for higher education and rally for tuition-free public colleges and a minimum wage hike for campus workers.

Wal-Mart is pulling back on the Black Friday frenzy this year. Instead of stretching the event over about five days as the retailer did last year, Wal-Mart will offer deep discounts on gift items like TVs, DVDs and pajamas starting at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving at its stores until they are gone. The retailer plans to offer longer term, though less drastic, discounts through the holiday season.

BBC

Police have targeted 17 people in raids in several European countries connected to a suspected jihadist network. Among those arrested were six suspects in Italy, four in Britain, and three in Norway. Police say some of the suspects may have travelled to Syria or Iraq.

The Kremlin says secret plans for a Russian long-range nuclear torpedo – called “Status-6” – should not have appeared on Russian TV news. The leak happened during a report on state-run Channel One about President Vladimir Putin meeting military chiefs in the city of Sochi. One general was seen studying a diagram of the “devastating” torpedo system. Launched by a submarine, it would create “wide areas of radioactive contamination”, the document says.

Sweden has brought in temporary border checks to control the flow of migrants into the country. It said it took the step because a surge in new arrivals had resulted in a threat to public order.

Protests against racial injustice have spread beyond the University of Missouri as students on at least two other US campuses have walked out of classes.

Montreal has begun a dump of 1.75bn gallons of raw sewage into the St Lawrence River.

Ukraine’s parliament has passed a law banning discrimination in the workplace, including that based on sexual orientation.

Kurdish forces say they are making progress in a major offensive they have launched against Islamic State (IS) militants in Sinjar in northern Iraq.

WND

A judge in Utah ordered a foster child removed from the home of two lesbians, citing research to say heterosexuals provide a healthier environment.

A third South Carolina county has barred the door to any Third World refugees being resettled in their community, and at least two others are considering the same move.

Changes to federal sentencing rules by the U.S. Sentencing Commission allowed 6,112 felons to be released Nov. 1. The Wall Street Journal estimated Oct. 6 that as many 46,000 inmates may be freed in total.

A number of homeschool parents in Florida have been ordered by a public school district to register their children in classes within three days or face “criminal prosecution” under state law.


 

Top News – 11/12/2015

Do-it-yourself CRISPR genome editing kits bring genetic engineering to your kitchen bench
If you’re not up to date with how CRISPR gene editing works, take a quick look at this excellent MIT video. In short, CRISPR/Cas9 is a radically fast and easy way to precisely cut and replace DNA sections in a living organism. It has revolutionised biomedical research and opens up all kinds of opportunities for gene therapy and genetic engineering.

EU flag burned as thousands join anti-Brussels march in Poland
In a show of defiance against EU lawmakers, an estimated 25,000 people joined a march to commemorate the anniversary of Poland’s return to independence after Nazi occupation during the Second World War. Poland only joined the EU in 2004, however, many in Warsaw used the event to express rising anger with Brussels amid Europe’s ongoing migrant crisis.

German Ministers Preparing ‘Putsch’ Against Merkel – German Magazine
Merkel’s former friends are gradually becoming her major opponents. The German Chancellor is not only losing power over the refugee crisis in Europe, but she is also unable to manage her own government, German magazine Der Spiegel wrote.

Kurds launch offensive in Iraq, Turks consider ground operation in Syria
Kurdish forces lave launched an offensive to retake northern Iraq’s city of Sinjar, controlled by Islamic State for over a year. The Turkish government has announced plans to send 10,700 soldiers to Syria in mid-December to make a buffer zone for refugees.

Guatemala issues alert over erupting Fuego Volcano
Emergency service officials in Guatemala issued an orange alert over increasing eruptions from the country’s southeastern Fuego volcano.

GLANCING-BLOW CME EXPECTED SOON
A CME (movie) hurled into space by sunspot AR2449 on Nov. 9th is expected to deliver a glancing blow to Earth’s magnetic field on Nov. 12th. NOAA forecasters estimate a 60% chance of geomagnetic storms when the CME arrives.

Mexico: Colima volcano has another double eruption
Officially known as the Colima Volcano, it was previously active in January and February and is part of the Pacifics Ring of Fire. Mexico contains over 3,000 volcanoes but only 14 are considered active.

5.6 magnitude quake hits Bantul
A moderate earthquake measuring 5.6 on the Richter scale struck Bantul regency in Yogyakarta on Wednesday night, the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) reports.

Strong 6.9-magnitude quake hits Chile: USGS
A strong 6.9-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of central Chile late yesterday but there was no immediate tsunami alert or reports of injuries or damage, US seismologists said.

West Sumatra on tsunami alert: Geologist
Five years after the deadly Mentawai tsunami, geologists have called on local administrations and residents in West Sumatra to anticipate another possible tsunami following the increasing earthquake intensity on the province’s Siberut Island and the Batu Islands.

Violent Shaking Along the Ring of Fire Continues a Progression of Disasters That Began in September
Have you noticed that seismic activity along the Ring of Fire appears to be dramatically increasing? According to Volcano Discovery, 39 volcanoes around the world have recently erupted, and 32 of them are associated with the Ring of Fire. This includes Mt. Popocatepetl which sits only about 50 miles away from Mexico City’s 18 million inhabitants.

Apple boss: Next generation of children ‘will not know what money is’
The next generation of children born in Britain “will not know what money is”, the boss of Apple has predicted. Tim Cook, the chief executive of technology giant, forecast the death of cash by the time current university students have a family. Cash is still used…but its popularity is falling as people switch to cards and smartphone apps such as Apple Pay and Google Wallet.

Sinjar battle: Kurds in offensive to retake Iraq town from IS
Kurdish forces in northern Iraq have launched an offensive to retake Sinjar, a strategic town near the Syrian border, from Islamic State militants. The campaign is supported by air strikes by the US-led coalition. Recapturing Sinjar would effectively cut off the supply line between the IS strongholds of Raqqa and Mosul.

Greek debt crisis: Unions in first big strike against Tsipras
Greek workers are staging their first general strike against austerity since Alexis Tsipras’s left-wing Syriza government came to power in January. As protesters gathered in Athens, public services were hit and some transport services ground to a halt. The main unions appealed for members to walk out against the terms of Greece’s third eurozone bailout.

Migrant crisis: Swedish border checks introduced
Sweden has announced the introduction of temporary border checks to control the flow of migrants into the country. It said it took the step because a surge in new arrivals had resulted in a threat to public order. The controls will come into effect from midday local time on Thursday and will last initially for 10 days.

Chinese scientists found a literal goldmine undersea
Scientists in China have identified a huge goldmine that is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, 2000 metres under the sea in the waters of the Sanshan Island. The goldmine is the first to be discovered in the ocean surrounding China, east of the Bohai Sea.

Social Security: The Long Slow Default
When a United States taxpayer is forced to pay for a government backed retirement system such as the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance program (OASDI) – also known as Social Security – the “contract” can be, and is, changed on a regular basis by the United States government, and those changes are generally not to the benefit of the taxpayer.

ISIS branch on Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula reportedly threatens to attack Israel in new video
A branch of ISIS on Egypt’s volatile Sinai Peninsula has reportedly threatened to attack Israel in a video released Wednesday. The 14-minute video titled, “And Then They Will Be Vanquished,” features a masked gunman urging Egyptian soldiers to repent or be killed for attacking jihadis in Sinai while claiming the army is trying to push out the local population in order to defend Israel, The Jerusalem Post reported.


Top Headlines – 11/12/2015

Syrian media reports Israeli airstrike near Damascus airport

Saudi Arabia risks destroying Opec and feeding the Isil monster

UN warns against cuts in development aid due to refugee crisis

Hungary Against Taking Even a ‘Single Syrian’ from Germany

Slovenia putting up fence along border with Croatia to control migrant flow

Protesters angry about ISIS beheadings storm Afghan presidential palace

US Holocaust Memorial Museum: ISIS committed genocide in Iraq against Yazidis

Kurds Launch Offensive to Retake ISIS-Held Iraqi Town of Sinjar

Kurds and U.S. Open Offensive to Cut ISIS Supply Route

Russia and Iran-backed offensive helps regime break Isil’s two-year siege on Syrian airbase

Syria conflict: Russia ‘peace plan’ revealed ahead of key summit

Egypt says to lose 2.2 bln pounds a month due UK, Russian flight suspensions

Intel on ‘two-hour timer’ uncovered in Russian jet crash investigation

‘Root out ISIS ideology in Beduin schools in Negev’

ISIS branch on Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula reportedly threatens to attack Israel in new video

Nasrallah ‘proud’ that Netanyahu and Obama discussed Hezbollah in White House meeting

Rouhani: Israel is ‘illegitimate’

Netanyahu winds up fence-mending US visit with little to show

Netanyahu Comes To CAP, Lays Out His Conditions For Future Palestinian State

Netanyahu: ‘Jerusalem and Temple Mount problem is insoluble’

We won’t give up Temple Mount, Israeli rabbis tell Obama

‘Palestinian recognition of Jewish state needed for peace’

Kerry urges world to fight against rising anti-Semitism, bigotry

Future of ‘Zionist dream’ predicated on peace, Kerry says

Two-state solution ‘not impossible dream,’ Kerry says at UN

Netanyahu clarifies he does not support unilateral withdrawal from land

Bloody October: 11 killed in 609 attacks

With woman in labor as disguise, Israeli forces arrest terrorist in Hebron hospital

Terrorist arrested in Hebron hospital bed, cousin killed in raid

EU sets guidelines on labeling settlement goods, drawing Israeli anger

Lawmakers blast ‘anti-Semitic’ EU over settlement labeling

Israel briefly suspends diplomatic dialogue with the EU to protest labeling

Meretz MK: Settlement labeling allows Europeans to buy Israeli products without funding occupation

European Jewish Congress: EU singling out Israel, profits from Turkey’s occupation of Cyprus

Jordan Valley farmers unperturbed by EU labels – Palestinians will suffer most from a boycott

Prehistoric ‘Stonehenge’ monument in Golan Heights fuels mystery

Ukrainian Jewish leader accuses Kiev of ‘flirting with radicals’

Putin says Russia will not be drawn into new arms race

Russia Reveals Secret Nuclear-Armed Drone Sub

Revealed: Saudi Arabia’s manifesto for change in the face of rumours of coup plots

Troops could be sent to Burundi if violence worsens: diplomats

Obama expresses ‘deep concern’ over situation in Burundi, White House says

Racial Discrimination Protests Ignite at Colleges Across the U.S.

‘The biggest sham’: Sheriffs fume at mass release of 6,000 federal inmates

U.S. Urges Bodycams for Local Police, but Nixes Them on Federal Teams

Nano-scale ‘fingerprint’ could boost security

A new cyborg implant may give users the power to control devices with their gestures

Apple boss: Next generation of children ‘will not know what money is’

Social Security: The Long Slow Default

Violent Shaking Along the Ring of Fire Continues a Progression of Disasters That Began in September

5.7 magnitude earthquake hits near Saumlaki, Indonesia

5.6 magnitude earthquake hits near Bambanglipuro, Indonesia

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Ternate, Indonesia

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Farallon de Pajaros, Northern Mariana Islands

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Samara, Costa Rica

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Yonakuni, Japan

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Vostok, Russia

Tungurahua volcano in Ecuador erupts to 30,000ft

Cotopaxi volcano in Ecuador erupts to 24,000ft

Popocateptl volcano in Mexico erupts to 23,000ft

Colima volcano in Mexico erupts to 20,000ft

Rinjani volcano in Indonesia erupts to 14,000ft

Copahue volcano in Argentina-Chile erupts to 12,000ft

Cyclone killed 14 on Yemeni island, officials say

Hurricane Kate is the Atlantic’s fourth hurricane of the season as it moves northeast of Bermuda

Rare November storms wreak havoc across Iowa

Multiple Tornadoes Reported in Iowa as Severe Weather Sweeps Midwest

Reno, Nevada plastered by freak heavy snow event

Shipping fears as Rhine River falls to lowest level in 40 years

Permanent flu vaccine in the works

NYC parents sue to stop required flu shots for tots

First VA transgender clinic opens in Cleveland

Vatileaks scandal: Vatican properties ‘used as brothels and massage parlours where priests pay for sex,’ claims report

Pope Urges Catholic Church To Disavow Conservatism And Fundamentalism

How Indonesia’s ‘Religious Harmony’ Law Has Closed 1,000 Churches

Frank Fisher – Laughter and Diamonds

Larry Huch’s New Beginnings Church Loses $825K in Ponzi Scheme

Faith Healer Sues Blogger Alleging Defamation

How Indonesia’s ‘Religious Harmony’ Law Has Closed 1,000 Churches


Frontrunning: November 12

  • Stock futures little changed as Yellen comments awaited (Read More)
  • Draghi stimulus hint underpins stocks, knocks euro (Read More)
  • Black Friday’s Losing Its Mojo and Retailers Might Be Relieved (Read More)
  • Macy’s Fights Downward Spiral With Bet on Off-Price Backstage Stores (Read More)
  • Greece Comes to a Standstill as Unions Turn Against Tsipras (Read More)
  • Euro zone production falls more than expected in September (Read More)
  • Valeant played a key role in building, operating Philidor RX (Read More)
  • Valeant’s Favorite Pharmacy Made Life Easy for Doctors, at a Price (Read More)
  • China warns WTO its cheap exports will soon be harder to resist (Read More)
  • China Credit Growth Falls as Tepid Economy Dents Loan Demand (Read More)
  • China Freezes More Shares Tied to Fund Manager (Read More)
  • Apple, Banks in Talks on Mobile Person-to-Person Payment Service (Read More)
  • Suspicion Rises of a North Korean Purge (Read More)
  • Russia’s Oil Rivalry With Saudis Masks the Bigger Iranian Threat (Read More)
  • Morgan Stanley turns to stodgy bank accounts to boost profit (Read More)
  • Global Banks Rewrite Contracts in Bid to Avert Lehman Repeat (Read More)
  • Kurdish forces launch battle to retake Iraq’s Sinjar town (Read More)
  • Indonesia Invokes International Tribunal in South China Sea Dispute (Read More)
  • Puerto Rico Is Running Out of Options (Read More)
  • Russia says convicts former Moscow policeman of spying for CIA (Read More)
  • CICC Keeps It `Conservative’ With 300% China IPO Return Forecast (Read More)
  • Shanghai rebar sinks to record low, pressures iron ore (Read More)

 

The Briefing

1) Mexico Supreme Court strikes down marijuana laws on basis of individualism

Is Smoking Weed a Human Right?, The Atlantic (Edward Delman)

2) Marijuana start-up companies aim to profit off of expansion of weed market

The Next Internet? Marijuana Delivered as Easy as Pizza, New York Times (Farhad Manjoo)

3) Russian athlete doping scandal reminder sin prevents humans from ever policing self

Anti-Doping Commission Finds Russia Engaged in State-Sponsored Doping, Wall Street Journal (Mattew Futterman, Sara Germano, and Paul Sonne)

Why the Anti-Doping Effort Needs an Overhaul, Wall Street Journal (Matthew Futterman)

A dark day for Russia and for world athletics, Financial Times (Editorial Board)

4) Helmut Schmidt, significant leader of 20th century, dead after seeing rise and fall of Nazism and Soviet Union

Helmut Schmidt, Assertive West German Chancellor, Dies at 96, New York Times (Jonathan Kendall)

5) Diplomatic impasse over wine at dinner between France and Iran exposes incapability of theology

France won’t dine without wine, cancels dinner with Iran over menu dispute, Washington Times (Kellan Howell)

In other news…

Meditation Reduces Emotional Pain by 44%: Study, TIME Magazine (Mandy Oaklander)
Restoring honor to gay, lesbian and bisexual veterans: Column, USA Today (Brian Schatz, Kirsten Gillibrand, Mark Pocan and Charles Rangel)
Ben Carson promises law to protect religious objectors to same-sex marriage, Guardian (Tom McCarthy)

University of Missouri Professor Who Confronted Photographer Quits Journalism Post New York Times (Richard Perez-Pena and Christine Hauser)
Even as House Speaker, Paul Ryan Sleeps in His Office New York Times (Jennifer Steinhaurer)
Fact Check: The Fourth Republican Debate New York Times (Editorial Board)
Insiders: Rubio wins, Kasich bombs Politico (Katie Glueck)
5 takeaways from the GOP debate Politico (Glenn Thrush)

Why women who think they ‘have it all’ are now at breaking point, The Telegraph (Allison Pearson)

Poll: Most Tennesseans oppose same-sex marriage, USA Today (Stacey Barchenger, The Tennessean)
The New Intolerance of Student Activism, The Atlantic (Conor Friedersdorf)


4 Harbingers Of Stock Market Doom That Foreshadowed The 2008 Crash Are Flashing Red Again

Hourglass - Public DomainSo many of the exact same patterns that we witnessed just before the stock market crash of 2008 are playing out once again right before our eyes.  Most of the time, a stock market crash doesn’t just come out of nowhere.  Normally there are specific leading indicators that we can look for that will tell us if major trouble is on the horizon.  One of these leading indicators is the junk bond market.  Right now, a closely watched high yield bond ETF known as JNK is sitting at 35.77.  If it falls below 35, that will be a major red flag, and it will be the first time that it has done so since 2009.  As you can see from this chart, JNK started crashing in June and July of 2008 – well before equities started crashing later that year.  A crash in junk bonds almost always precedes a major crash in stocks, and so this is something that I am watching carefully. (Read More….)


Earth Changes Accelerate As 12 Major Earthquakes Hit Chile Within The Last 24 Hours

Earth Globe Water Fire - Public DomainSomething strange is happening to our planet.  Over the past 30 days, there seems to have been much more “shaking” than normal, and this is particularly true along the Ring of Fire.  This afternoon I visited the official website of the U.S. Geological Survey, and I discovered that Chile had been hit with 12 major earthquakes within the last 24 hours alone.  The smallest was of magnitude 4.4, and the two largest both measured magnitude 6.9.  We have also seen dozens of volcanoes erupt recently, including the incredibly dangerous Mt. Popocatepetl in Mexico.  Fortunately we have not seen a major disaster that kills thousands of people yet, but many believe that all of this shaking is leading up to one.  In addition, the weather all over the world continues to get freakier and freakier.  Just today, Yemen was hit by a second major tropical cyclone in less than a week.  Any one of these strange disasters in isolation may not seem like that big of a deal, but when you start putting all of the pieces together it starts to become clear that something really significant is taking place. (Read More…)


Uh-Oh! Your Fancy, New Smart TV Is A Lot Smarter Than You Think It Is

When you watch your Smart TV, it could also be watching you.

A new report from Julia Angwin at ProPublica reveals that Vizio, a top television maker, automatically tracks the viewing habits of Smart TV owners and shares that information with advertisers in a way that could connect those preferences to what those customers do on their phones or other mobile devices.

Vizio’s “Smart Interactivity Program” is turned on by default for its 10 million Smart TV customers, ProPublica reported, and works like this: The company analyzes snippets of what you watch, be it on Netflix or traditional television, and connects patterns in your viewing behavior with your Internet Protocol address — an online identifier that can be used to pinpoint every device connected from your home. That includes everything from your laptop and phone to your smart thermostat. That information is then shared with Vizio’s partners, who in turn could use that data to help to target advertisements.

In an e-mailed response to a Washington Post inquiry, a Vizio spokesperson said the company’s data mining programs are part of a “revolutionary shift across all screens that brings measurability, relevancy and personalization to the consumer like never before.” Vizio said it shares “aggregate, anonymized data” with media and data companies so they can “make better-informed decisions” about content and advertising strategies.

The spokesperson did not dispute the underlying facts in ProPublica’s report, but said the company believes the article “reflects a filtered opinion of our recently updated VIZIO Privacy Policy.”

The company’s privacy policy says it will share viewing data “together with the IP address associated with the corresponding VIZIO television” with third-party partners. “These third parties may combine this information with other information about devices associated with that IP address, in order to customize the advertisements displayed on those other devices,” it says. The company “imposes strict conditions of confidentiality” when sharing IP addresses with third parties, according to the policy. Customers can opt-out of the program from their television’s settings menu.

Is Your Samsung Smart TV Spying on You?

There are laws that limit how companies share information about video watching habits, including the Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA). However, Vizio says that those laws do not apply to its tracking service because the company associates IP addresses with the data rather than a person’s name or other “personally identifiable information.”

It’s true that some U.S. courts have held that IP addresses do not constitute personally identifiable information. However, privacy regulators in the European Union disagree. And IP addresses are increasingly used by data brokers to paint detailed portraits of who people are.

Vizio isn’t the first television maker to face scrutiny over the privacy of Smart TV technology. Earlier this year, Samsung appeared in a flurry of headlines about eavesdropping televisions and changed its privacy policy over a section that seemed to imply it was constantly listening in and sending data off to a third party. (The third party, Samsung clarified, was a voice recognition company whose services helped make the television’s voice audio features work.)

Samsung and fellow Vizio rival LG Electronics have similar programs that track Smart TV customers’ viewing habits, but only if customers turn on the feature, according to ProPublica. source


Saudi Prince Al Waleed Bin Talal Makes Jaw-Dropping Statement About Israel

In a startling statement, Saudi prince al Waleed bin Talal has said that he would side with Israel in case of a Palestinian uprising and that he would attempt to break any Arab initiatives set to condemn the Jewish nation.

“I will side with the Jewish nation and its democratic aspirations in case of outbreak of a Palestinian Intifada (uprising),” bin Talal was quoted as saying by Kuwaiti Al Qabas daily.

“I shall exert all my influence to break any ominous Arab initiatives set to condemn Tel Aviv, because I deem the Arab-Israeli entente and future friendship necessary to impede the Iranian dangerous encroachment,” he added.

According to the Kuwaiti daily, the prince and entrepreneur urged the Saudi Kingdom to devise a new strategy to combat Iran’s increasing influence in Gulf States by forging a defense pact with Tel Aviv to deter any possible Iranian moves in the light of unfolding developments in Syria and Moscow’s military intervention. The Saudi prince is on a regional tour, visiting the other Gulf Arab littoral states–Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman–to muster support for Saudi-backed rebels in Syria, reported the daily.

“The whole Middle East dispute is tantamount to matter of life and death for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from my vantage point, and I know that Iranians seek to unseat the Saudi regime by playing the Palestinian card, hence to foil their plots Saudi Arabia and Israel must bolster their relations and form a united front to stymie Tehran’s ambitious agenda,” Kuwaiti News Agency (KUNA) reported him as saying on Tuesday.

The Saudi prince maintained that Iran sought to bolster its presence in the Mediterranean by supporting the Assad regime in Syria. He added that Russia had become a real co-belligerent force in Syria’s four-year-old civil war by attacking CIA-trained rebels which was why there was a need for a Saudi-Israeli nexus to frustrate Russia-Iran-Hezbollah axis.

Further, he said that Riyadh and Tel Aviv must achieve a modus vivendi, for Saudi policy in regard to Arab-Israeli crisis was no longer tenable.

Bin Talal also spoke about Saudi Arabia’s military presence in Bahrain to stifle the 2011 pro-deaconry movement.

Further, he said that Riyadh and Tel Aviv must achieve a modus vivendi, for Saudi policy in regard to Arab-Israeli crisis was no longer tenable.

Bin Talal also spoke about Saudi Arabia’s military presence in Bahrain to stifle the 2011 pro-deaconry movement.

“…You know the union with Bahrain doesn’t explicitly mean to annex our dear neighbours, but in fact we are wary about the future of Bahrain, its people security and well-being. Bahrain is the home to US fifth fleet which its presence is of vital interest for Saudi Arabia, thus we cannot permit Iran to wreak havoc in our back yard.” source


Iranian President Hassan Rouhani Today Demands US ‘Apologize’ For Past Behavior

The nuclear deal reached between world powers and Iran could lead to better relations between Tehran and Washington if the United States apologized for past behavior, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was quoted as saying on Thursday.

The pragmatist Iranian president, who championed the July 14 deal, has pushed for closer engagement with the West since his 2013 landslide election win. But Iran’s top authority, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has continued to rule out normalizing ties with the “Great Satan”, as he routinely calls the United States.

In an interview with Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper, Rouhani suggested that the United States and Iran could open embassies in each other’s capitals after decades of mutual hostility, but said Washington should apologize, without going into further detail.

“One day these embassies will re-open but what counts is behavior and the Americans hold the key to this,” Rouhani told the newspaper ahead of a trip to Italy this weekend, his first to a European capital.

If they modify their policies, correct errors committed in these 37 years and apologize to the Iranian people, the situation will change and good things can happen.” Iran and Washington severed ties shortly after the 1979 Islamic revolution when radical students seized the U.S. embassy in Tehran and held 52 Americans hostage for over a year.

Relations came under further pressure in the last decade over Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Under the nuclear deal reached in July, Iran will curb its nuclear program in exchange for an easing of sanctions on its economy. Tehran denied Western suspicions it wanted to develop an atomic bomb.

Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters, gave his conditional approval to the deal with six world powers including the United States, but has warned against allowing any U.S. political or economic influence on Iran.

Rouhani said Washington would have to fulfill its part in the nuclear accord for relations to improve. The United States approved conditional sanctions waivers for Iran, though these will not take effect until Tehran has complied with the nuclear accord.

“The way this agreement is applied can have an impact on the future,” Rouhani said in the interview.

“If it is well applied it can lay the foundation for fewer tensions with the United States, creating the conditions to open a new era. But if the Americans don’t respect their part of the nuclear accord, then surely our relationship will remain as it has been in the past,” he said.

Rouhani is due to see the Italian prime minister and business leaders during his Nov. 14-15 visit to Rome and will also hold talks with Pope Francis.

He will then fly to Paris for talks on Nov. 16-17. source


Vatileaks Reports That Vatican-Owned Properties Are Operating As Brothels For Priests

Vatican-owned properties are being used by priests as brothels and massage parlours, according to the latest claims to emerge from the Vatileaks scandal.

The properties implicated in a report, leaked by a Vatican mole, include premises close to the Italian Parliament and a solarium near Piazza Barberini. A Vatican department, the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, owns hundreds of exclusive properties in central Rome, was also singled out in the document.

It claimed that Vatican officials were allowing buildings to be leased out at peppercorn rents as favours to powerful colleagues. The document also alleged that they would allow dodgy property deals that would see addresses being used as brothels and illicit saunas, it was reported by The Independent.

The claims come two years after the Church was embarrassed by revelations that several priests shared an apartment block with Europe’s largest homosexual sauna.

It was reported that the Holy See owned 19 apartments in the block in Rome after buying a £21million share of the building in 2008. Several of the flats house priests, notably Cardinal Ivan Dias, the so-called ‘prince of the church’ whose 12-room apartment at 2 Via Carducci is located just yards from the Europa Multiclub.

The facility, billed as ‘Italy’s best-known gay sauna‘, boasts a Turkish bath, Finnish sauna, whirlpools and massages. Its website ironically touts one of its ‘bear nights’ with a video of a hairy man stripping down and changing into a priest’s outfit.

It says Bruno is ‘free to the music of his clergyman, remaining in a thong, because he wants to expose body and soul’. The purchase was apparently the brainchild of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Pope Benedict’s much-disliked right-hand man who held the Vatican’s purse strings during the last pontificate.

The latest Vatileaks claims emerged as Pope Francis insisted the Church shun all temptations of power, prestige and money as he pressed his reform agenda amid a new scandal at the Vatican.

Francis outlined his vision of the church in a lengthy speech to Italian bishops gathered in Florence, leaving behind a Vatican reeling from revelations of internal resistance to his reform agenda.

The Argentine Jesuit told the bishops he wanted a church that was humble and poor and not obsessed with preaching doctrine or acquiring power.

His visit comes after two new books laid bare the Pope’s uphill battle to reform the Italian-dominated Vatican bureaucracy and get a handle on its finances.

Citing leaked confidential documents, the books exposed the greed of cardinals and monsignors, mismanagement of Vatican assets and the resistance to change from the Holy See’s old guard.

A high-ranking Vatican monsignor and a laywoman have been arrested in the probe into the leaked documents.

Francis has denounced the leaks as a crime but vowed to press ahead with his reform agenda. Francis began his day-long visit to Tuscany with a stop in the industrial city of Prato, where a 2013 garment factory fire killed seven Chinese workers.

In off-the-cuff comments to Prato residents gathered in the piazza outside the city’s cathedral, Francis decried the ‘inhuman’ conditions the illegal workers were forced to endure.

‘The life of every community requires that we fight the cancer of corruption, the cancer of human and labor exploitation and the poison of illegality,’ he said to applause from the crowd.

The Argentine Jesuit pope has frequently spoken out about the scourge of human trafficking and the need for dignified work for all. source


VIZIO Smart TVs Automatically ‘Watch’ Owners, Report Data To Advertisers

Posted: 12 Nov 2015 07:34 AM PST

When choosing a smart television, buyers are often presented with a variety of features. One they may not be aware of: that TV could be watching you. Vizio Smart TVs, one of the most popular manufacturers, can track your viewing tendencies and report them to advertisers, as reported by ProPublica. The feature, “Smart Interactivity,” is already turned on as a default setting for millions of people who have purchased the device. Viewers are able to turn off the setting, that is, if they know it even exists.

“Non-personal identifiable information may be shared with select partners… to permit these companies to make, for example, better-informed decisions regarding content production, programming and advertising,” Vizio said in a statement. Vizio seems to be taking a new approach by tracking viewers by default, while competitors like San Jose-based Samsung or LG Electronics leave it to customers to turn the setting on. Vizio’s sharing with advertisers also reportedly lets them target devices like your phone, which other companies do not. FULL REPORT

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6 Wrong Ways to Leave a Church

Posted: 12 Nov 2015 07:30 AM PST

( J.Lee Grady) My friend “Stewart” (not his real name) is one of the friendliest pastors I know—and his wife is also an exemplary leader. But a few years ago, they began getting emails from an anonymous church member. The messages were severely critical and laced with threats. Then a small package arrived at the church. It was filled with a white powder.

Stewart called the police to be on the safe side—and the powder turned out to be yeast. The pastor and his wife learned firsthand that the ominous messages and the package came from a former member who was upset. The person’s odd behavior proved that some Christians don’t act like Christians when they decide to leave a church. Many of my pastor friends have similar stories of people who leave churches in dramatic and inappropriate ways. They all recognize that this is one of the most serious occupational hazards of ministry. Pastors are going to feel rejected when people leave, even when God is leading those people to make an exit. But if you are directed by the Holy Spirit to leave a church, please do it the right way. FULL REPORT

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7 Ways to Discern Subtle False Theologies

Posted: 12 Nov 2015 07:27 AM PST

(Joseph Mattera) One of the most important lessons I have learned, from years as a pastor and leader who works with other leaders, is to have a robust, full-orbed theological foundation that is practical enough to meet the challenges of ministry, cultural engagement and life. By “theology” I am referring to the study of God, the Scriptures and their application to every aspect of life.

Jesus tells us in John 8:31-32 that we need to continue in His word in order to know the truth. Thus in this passage Jesus connects obedience, action, and doing to epistemology. Or, to say it simpler, Jesus connects doing and practical experience with the ability to understand and discern the truth. James says that faith without works is dead (James 2). Hence, there is an inescapable connection between theology and practical experience! The following are things I base my theological grid upon, based upon my own opinion, research and experience: FULL REPORT

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First Transgender VA Clinic opens in Cleveland

Posted: 12 Nov 2015 05:34 AM PST

The Cleveland VA Medical Center will open the first VA clinic specifically dedicated to the healthcare needs of transgender veterans. It will provide transgender veterans with primary care, hormonal therapy, mental health care and social work services. All of the providers in the clinic have a special interest in transgender care and will create an environment that celebrates and welcomes these veterans.

Transgender patients are an important, but frequently overlooked, VA says in a news release. The Cleveland VA currently treats about 20 transgender veterans. Each year more than 200 patients are newly diagnosed with gender dysphoria across the country, which puts them at a higher risk for tobacco abuse, mental health disorders, and suicide according to Dr. Megan McNamara, who is the clinical lead for the transgender clinic. A ceremony will begin Thursday at 12:30 p.m. on the second level of the main atrium at the Wade Park facility. FULL REPORT

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ISIS in Sinai threatens to attack Israel

Posted: 12 Nov 2015 05:27 AM PST

Islamic State released a new video Tuesday threatening to attack Israel, but did not reveal when the attack would take place.  “The video is focused on the war against the Egyptian military. The threat to Israel comes at the end, where it says that they will reach the Jews,” Rafael Green, director of the Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor of MEMRI (the Middle East Media Research Institute), told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.

Expressing the terrorist group’s intention to attack Israel at an unspecified time, the speaker quoted the well-known hadith: “Judgment Day will not come until you fight the Jews and kill them. The Jews will hide behind stones and trees, and the stones and trees will call, ‘O Muslim, o servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him – except for the gharqad tree, which is the tree of the Jews.’” The 14-minute video “And Then They Will Be Vanquished,” a response to the Egyptian army’s recently launched Operation Martyr’s Right, should be taken seriously, but needs to be put into proportion, said Green. FULL REPORT

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6 US fighter jets deployed to Turkey to ‘defeat ISIS’ & deter ‘Russian aggression’

Posted: 12 Nov 2015 05:23 AM PST

The first six of 12 US fighter jets have arrived in Turkey at Ankara’s request, according to the Pentagon. It says the deployment is aimed at protecting slow-flying US planes hitting Islamic State targets in Syria, and deterring Russian aggression. The arrival of the F-15-C Eagle jet fighters to Incirlik Air Base represents “both our commitment to ensure the safety of our NATO ally and our commitment to degrade and ultimately defeat the [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] in Iraq and Syria,” Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said on Tuesday. In addition to the F-15Cs, the US Air Force will also soon deploy F-15E Strike Eagle jets to Incirlik as part of the US-led coalition’s operations against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL). However, their number and date of arrival have yet to be determined, according to Cook.

The first six of 12 US fighter jets have arrived in Turkey at Ankara’s request, according to the Pentagon. It says the deployment is aimed at protecting slow-flying US planes hitting Islamic State targets in Syria, and deterring Russian aggression. The arrival of the F-15-C Eagle jet fighters to Incirlik Air Base represents “both our commitment to ensure the safety of our NATO ally and our commitment to degrade and ultimately defeat the [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] in Iraq and Syria,” Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said on Tuesday. FULL REPORT

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China Discovers Huge Undersea Gold Deposit

Posted: 12 Nov 2015 05:09 AM PST

The first undersea gold reserves and the largest gold deposit found in China was discovered after three years of investigations near Sanshan Island in east China’s Shandong province, 1.2 miles below sea level, the South China Morning Post newspaper reported Tuesday.

The new-found deposit is currently valued at over $16.4 billion and is estimated to hold at least 1,600 tons of gold, according to the newspaper. The gold mine is located near the city of Laizhou, which is home to the largest gold deposits in the country. In May, China proposed to India that the two countries start several joint mining projects to explore the Southern Indian Ocean’s seabeds for precious metals, including gold and silver. FULL REPORT

 

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Wells Fargo Wants to Let You Make Million-Dollar Wire Transactions With Your Face and Voice

Posted: 11 Nov 2015 07:33 PM PST

“My voice gives me access to proceed, please verify me,” I announced to the phone in my hand. It scanned my face to see if my lips were moving. I then read aloud series of numbers. The voiceprint was a match, and the app unlocked itself — the demonstration was a success. The members of Wells Fargo’s Wholesale and Payments team around me let out a sigh of relief. They then proceeded to show me the features of their new, experimental, biometric-based commercial banking app, CEO. By making transactions faster and reducing friction, the company hoped it would make life easier for their customers. It would also make it possible for them to “make a $10 million wire transaction” on the go.

More than software, it was the company’s best attempt at solving one of their most persistent problems with transitioning to the digital age: getting customers to feel safe doing serious banking online. The potential of mobile transactions has thus far been constrained by the security options available on our devices. There’s certain types of transactions that can’t reasonably be done with just a password or PIN code. While there are dozens of possible alternatives, the challenge has always been finding a method that is actually usable for most people. FULL REPORT

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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.


What Is the Gospel?

There is no greater message to be heard than that which we call the gospel. But as important as that is, it is often given to massive distortions or over simplifications. People think they’re preaching the gospel to you when they tell you, ‘you can have a purpose to your life’, or that ‘you can have meaning to your life’, or that ‘you can have a personal relationship with Jesus.’ All of those things are true, and they’re all important, but they don’t get to the heart of the gospel.

The gospel is called the ‘good news’ because it addresses the most serious problem that you and I have as human beings, and that problem is simply this: God is holy and He is just, and I’m not. And at the end of my life, I’m going to stand before a just and holy God, and I’ll be judged. And I’ll be judged either on the basis of my own righteousness–or lack of it –or the righteousness of another. The good news of the gospel is that Jesus lived a life of perfect righteousness, of perfect obedience to God, not for His own well being but for His people. He has done for me what I couldn’t possibly do for myself. But not only has He lived that life of perfect obedience, He offered Himself as a perfect sacrifice to satisfy the justice and the righteousness of God.

The great misconception in our day is this: that God isn’t concerned to protect His own integrity. He’s a kind of wishy-washy deity, who just waves a wand of forgiveness over everybody. No. For God to forgive you is a very costly matter. It cost the sacrifice of His own Son. So valuable was that sacrifice that God pronounced it valuable by raising Him from the dead – so that Christ died for us, He was raised for our justification. So the gospel is something objective. It is the message of who Jesus is and what He did. And it also has a subjective dimension. How are the benefits of Jesus subjectively appropriated to us? How do I get it? The Bible makes it clear that we are justified not by our works, not by our efforts, not by our deeds, but by faith–and by faith alone. The only way you can receive the benefit of Christ’s life and death is by putting your trust in Him–and in Him alone. You do that, you’re declared just by God, you’re adopted into His family, you’re forgiven of all of your sins, and you have begun your pilgrimage for eternity.


The Gospel on 5 Fingers

If you picked up a hitchhiker (not that I recommend doing that) and he saw a Bible on your car seat and said, “I’ve heard about this thing called the Gospel – can you explain it to me before you drop me off in one minute up the street?” What would you say?

Can you explain the gospel in 30 seconds? In one minute? In five minutes?

Here’s one way I have found helpful. The five main components of the gospel can be remembered on 5 fingers of one hand. Here they are:

1) Jesus’ birth
2) Jesus’ life
3) Jesus’ death
4) Jesus’ resurrection
5) Jesus’ ascension

Obviously each point can be elaborated on depending on how much time you have. Here’s the short version:

1) Jesus’ birth – Jesus, God himself, the creator of the universe, the Messiah, became a human being – took on flesh, and was born of a virgin.

2) Jesus’ life – Jesus lived a life of perfect obedience to his Father. Though he was tempted in every way as we are, he never once sinned.

3) Jesus’ death – on the cross, Jesus himself took all our sins and paid for them. God the father counted all our sins to Jesus as if he himself had personally committed them. Then Jesus bore God’s wrath towards sin – the punishment we deserved – as a substitute for us.

4) Jesus’ resurrection – within 3 days, Jesus rose physically from the dead, proving that his sacrifice for sins have been accepted by God, since the punishment for sin was death. Jesus was seen by numerous people after he rose including 500 at one time (1 Corinthians 15).

5) Jesus’ ascension – Jesus ascended physically into heaven where he reigns as King of kings and Lord of lords. And someday he will return to the earth.

That’s the gospel, the good news, and if we believe in Jesus Christ and this good news and call upon him he will save us from our sins and give us eternal life.

That’s a simple way to remember the gospel – five fingers. Even a child can do it. So ask God to give you opportunities to share his good news today.


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


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True and Counterfeit Assurances of Salvation

Regeneration, Repentance and Reformation

Taken and adapted from the writings of Thomas Brooks.

light-a-fire-blank-16-9

He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. –Romans 8:32-34

Showing the difference between a true and a counterfeit assurance, that is, between sound assurance and a presumption.

The first difference.

A sound and well-grounded assurance is attended with a deep admiration of God‘s transcendent love and favor to the soul in the Lord Jesus. The assured soul is often a-breathing it out thus: Ah, Lord! Who am I, what am I, that you should give into my bosom, the white stone of absolution, when the world bath…

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TMS: Evaluating Seventh-day Adventism

This article is not about politics. But Dr. Ben Carson’s involvement in the Republican primaries has raised questions in the minds of many evangelicals about his religious affiliation as a Seventh-day Adventist. Those questions include things like, “What is Seventh-day Adventism?” and “How should evangelicals evaluate the SDA movement?”

Watch Jamie Jackson’s interview with
Dr. Nathan Busenitz on how evangelicals should view Seventh-day Adventism.

A seminary student recently asked me to address those questions. Today’s post gives me an opportunity to do just that.

What Is Seventh-day Adventism?

The Seventh-day Adventist church began as a distinctive movement with the teachings of a lay preacher named William Miller (1782–1849). Miller embarked on a personal study of Scripture (and particularly Daniel 8:14) which convinced him that Christ would return between March 21, 1843 and March 21, 1844. When that prediction failed, Miller and his followers adjusted the date, determining that October 22, 1844 would be the day of Jesus’ second advent.

But the Lord did not return on October 22, 1844, and Miller’s followers (known as Millerites) experienced what they called ‘the Great Disappointment.’ Most of Miller’s followers realized his predictions had been wholly mistaken. But a small group of Millerites (from whom the Seventh-day Adventists emerged) insisted that the date he identified could not have been wrong. They claimed Miller’s error was not in his mathematical calculations, but rather in what he expected to take place on that date. Consequently, they concluded something significant occurred in 1844, even if it was not Christ’s second coming.

Phil Johnson points out the irony of establishing a religious movement on the basis of a failed prophetic prediction:

By the early 1840s, the Millerite movement had expanded into a huge international phenomenon. In one five-month span in 1843, 600,000 copies of Millerite literature were distributed in New York alone. People sold their homes, gave away their possessions, and gave up their livelihoods in order to demonstrate their faith in William Miller’s predictions.

Of course, Christ did not return—not in Miller’s lifetime; not even in that century. Miller tried adjusting his dates a time or two, but he himself gave up hope of finding a way to adjust his calculations to keep the expectation alive. He died baffled and disillusioned. He never joined the Seventh-day Adventists himself.

To this day, Adventists refer to Miller’s failed prediction of the second coming as “The Great Disappointment.” That would seem a pretty shaky foundation on which to found [a new religious movement]—a false prophecy that culminated in disappointment and worldwide embarrassment. (Online source)

But out of ‘the Great Disappointment,’ the Seventh-day Adventist movement was born.

So, what do Adventists believe occurred on October 22, 1844?

According to SDA teaching, Christ is currently performing a final work of atonement and investigative judgment in heaven as the church’s great High Priest. On October 22, 1844, He moved from the heavenly Holy Place into the Holy of Holies to complete that atoning work.

The official SDA doctrinal statement explains it this way:

There is a sanctuary in heaven, the true tabernacle which the Lord set up and not man. In it Christ ministers on our behalf, making available to believers the benefits of His atoning sacrifice offered once for all on the cross. He was inaugurated as our great High Priest and began His intercessory ministry at the time of His ascension. In 1844, at the end of the prophetic period of 2300 days, He entered the second and last phase of His atoning ministry. It is a work of investigative judgment which is part of the ultimate disposition of all sin, typified by the cleansing of the ancient Hebrew sanctuary on the Day of Atonement. (Fundamental belief #24. Online source)

This creative explanation for Miller’s failed prediction was bolstered by the teachings of a young woman named Ellen Harmon (1827–1915), who reportedly began experiencing visions in 1844, shortly after the Great Disappointment. Regarded as a prophetess, Harmon (known by her married name, Ellen G. White) embarked on a prolific teaching and writing career. Her biblical interpretations and supposed revelations became the primary basis for the SDA movement.

Today there are some 18 million Seventh-day Adventists worldwide.

How Should Evangelicals Evaluate the SDA Movement?

Some evangelicals believe Seventh-day Adventism ought to be openly embraced as simply another denomination. I disagree.

Historically, evangelicals and fundamentalists regarded the Seventh-day Adventist movement as a cult. And in spite of the ecumenical spirit that has pervaded evangelicalism over the last few decades, there are still major deficiencies within official SDA theology that ought to give evangelical Christians serious pause.

Here are my three biggest concerns about SDA doctrine:

1. An Unbiblical Understanding of Christ’s Work of Atonement.

The New Testament teaches that Christ’s work of atonement was fully completed at the cross (John 19:30). After fulfilling His earthly mission, the Lord Jesus sat down victoriously at the right hand of the Father. The author of Hebrews is clear:

Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet. For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. (Heb. 10:11–14)

Any notion that Christ needed to perform an additional work of atonement in heaven (as SDA theology teaches) runs contrary to those verses, and mitigates against the once-for-all nature of His finished work on Calvary.

There are major deficiencies within Seventh-day Adventist theology that ought to give evangelical Christians sErious pause.In the Old Testament, when the high priest went into the Holy of Holies (on the Day of Atonement), he entered into the presence of God’s shekinah glory (Lev. 16:2). The SDA teaching that Christ did not enter the heavenly Holy of Holies until October 22, 1844, inaccurately implies that the Lord Jesus did not enter the glorious presence of God until that date. But that is clearly not what Scripture teaches (Acts 7:55–56; Rom. 8:34; Eph. 1:20; Col. 3:1; 1 Pet. 3:22).

Once inside the Holy of Holies, the high priests of Israel were instructed to perform their duties quickly and leave. As sinners, they were not permitted to tarry in God’s presence. But when the Lord Jesus entered His Father’s presence, He sat down (Mark 16:19; Luke 22:69; Heb. 1:3; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2)—not only because He was perfect, but also because His atoning work was fully accomplished.

Through His redemptive work at Calvary, Christ provided access into the presence of God for all who belong to Him (Heb. 4:14–16; 10:19–20). The veil that separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place was torn in two at the moment of His death (Mark 15:38), not eighteen centuries later. To claim that Jesus waited until 1844 to enter a heavenly Holy of Holies undermines the full and final work of atonement He accomplished at the cross.

It should also be noted that this SDA doctrine, in which Jesus began a work of “investigative judgment” as part of His final atoning work, runs contrary to the biblical doctrine of justification by faith. Because this investigative judgment focuses on the works that Christians perform, it mitigates against the truth that believers are saved by grace alone through faith alone on account of Christ alone.

2. An Improper Elevation of Ellen G. White as an Authoritative Prophetess.

As evangelical Christians, we look to Scripture alone as our ultimate authority. We understand that God’s Word is inspired, inerrant, authoritative, and sufficient (cf. 2 Tim. 3:16–17). Consequently, we reject any other would-be spiritual authorities that might place themselves in a position above or equal to the Bible.

Seventh-day Adventists similarly insist that the Bible is their only creed. But that assertion is called into question by their simultaneous commitment to the prophecies of Ellen G. White, which they view as authoritative for the church.

That adherence to White’s prophecies is expressed in SDA Fundamental Belief #18:

The Scriptures testify that one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is prophecy. This gift is an identifying mark of the remnant church and we believe it was manifested in the ministry of Ellen G. White. Her writings speak with prophetic authority and provide comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction to the church. (Online source)

By viewing the writings of Ellen G. White as inspired and authoritative, the SDA movement bases its doctrines on something more than Scripture alone. In practice, White’s teachings are actually placed over the Scripture because they become the lens through which the Bible is interpreted. As Geoffrey Paxton explains:

I fear very deeply that the use of Mrs. White in Seventh-day Adventism is testimony to an un-Protestant attitude toward the Bible. I fear that many Adventists have a Roman Catholic[-like] belief that the Bible is too difficult for rank-and-file Christians to understand. In place of the Bible, they turn to Mrs. White to tell them what God says. (The Shaking of Adventism, 156)

Phil Johnson states the problem even more directly:

Although most Seventh-Day Adventists will try to downplay the stress they place on Ellen White’s writings, they do in fact believe Mrs. White was divinely inspired and her books are revelations superior to every other resource and every other truth claim outside the Bible.

And since they read and interpret the Bible through the lens of Mrs. White’s supposedly inspired works, her writings in practice have a higher authority than Scripture. Scripture simply cannot be used to correct Mrs. White’s errors, because Scripture is interpreted by what she wrote. (Online source)

Such constitutes an obvious problem. It is clearly less than an evangelical affirmation of the authority and sufficiency of Scripture.

3. A Legalistic Emphasis on the Sabbath and Dietary Laws as Binding for Christians.

The New Testament teaches that the Mosaic Law is fulfilled in Jesus Christ (Matt. 5:17), and that Christians are no longer under the Old Covenant (Luke 22:20; Rom. 6:14; 2 Cor. 3:3–6; Gal. 3:24–25; Heb. 8:6, 13; Heb. 10:17–18, 29). Old Testament restrictions regarding dietary laws (Mark 7:19; Acts 10:9–16) and the observance of the Sabbath (Col. 2:16) are not binding on believers in the church age. To insist that they are, and that Christians must observe them, constitutes legalism.

The apostle Paul states this principle clearly in Colossians 2:16–17:

Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day—things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.

In spite of clear New Testament teaching to the contrary, Seventh-day Adventists insist on both the observance of the Sabbath (worship on Saturday) and the keeping of certain dietary laws.

Regarding the Sabbath, Fundamental Belief #20 states:

The fourth commandment of God’s unchangeable law requires the observance of this seventh-day Sabbath as the day of rest, worship, and ministry in harmony with the teaching and practice of Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath. (Online source)

For her part, Ellen G. White taught that Christians who meet on Sunday, rather than on the Sabbath, receive the mark of the beast and therefore cannot be saved. As one SDA publication explains, the Sabbath “lies at the very foundation of divine worship,” and “the Bible reveals that the observance of Sunday as a Christian institution had its origin in ‘the mystery of lawlessness’ (2 Thess. 2:7)” (Seventh-day Adventists Believe…, 249, 260). But this runs contrary to the New Testament pattern of meeting on the first day of the week, the day on which the Lord Jesus rose from the dead (Matt. 28:1; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:1–2; Rev. 1:10).

Regarding dietary laws, Fundamental Belief #22 asserts: “Along with adequate exercise and rest, we are to adopt the most healthful diet possible and abstain from the unclean foods identified in the Scriptures” (Online source). The statement goes on to cite Leviticus 11 as part of its Scriptural support for this doctrinal distinctive. This is why Seventh-day Adventists are largely vegetarian.

But an insistence on Sabbath days and dietary laws smacks of the same kind of legalism that characterized false teachers in the New Testament period (cf. Col. 2:8–19;  1 Tim. 4:3–5). The Judaizers similarly insisted that Christians observe certain external aspects of the Mosaic Law (Acts 15:1, 5; Gal. 2:2–9). Paul’s response to such legalists is stated directly in Galatians 1:8–9:

But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!

Those are strong words. But they are not mine. They are Scripture’s assessment of any group that would add legalistic works to the gospel of grace.

Conclusion

It should be noted that Seventh-day Adventists espouse a number of other unorthodox theological distinctives (such as soul sleep [Fundamental Belief #26], the annihilation of the wicked [Fundamental Belief #27]), and (at least historically) the insistence that they are the only true church).

However, the primary issues that separate Seventh-day Adventists from biblical Christianity are (1) their unorthodox view of Christ’s work of atonement; (2) their illegitimate elevation of Ellen G. White’s prophecies; and (3) their legalistic insistence that believers are bound to observe the Sabbath and Mosaic dietary laws.

All three of these issues touch fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith. It is for that reason that evangelicals ought to view SDA theology with caution. Upon examination, its doctrinal distinctives fall short of biblical orthodoxy.

The post Evaluating Seventh-day Adventism appeared first on The Master’s Seminary.

Perhaps the Best Contemporary Worship Song Ever Written

Unfathomable Grace

In a day and age when most traditional churches exclusively sang psalms, Isaac Watts (1647-1748) became a fervent contemporary writer of hymns. As the story goes, when as a young man he complained to his father about the monotonous way Christians sung in worship, his father, a leading deacon in the congregation, retorted, “Well then young man, why don’t you give us something better?” Thus, a lion was uncaged. While Watts maintained a great love and dedication for the sacred text, church tradition, order and excellence, he was internally driven to assist the traditional church in singing newer songs of worship. HIs passion was to explicitly address the person, work, passion, beauty, sufficiency and loving care of Jesus Christ in his own modern language and style. Ultimately, by the time of his death in 1748, Watts had become the most prolific writer of contemporary hymns (more than 750). Due to his faithful and zealous efforts, this…

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