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Saturday, September 23, 2017

Why Discernment Matters

       In today's world, Christians can easily find themselves overwhelmed by a forest of different ideological mindsets that condemn biblical morals, values, and principles. As a matter of fact, we can readily see the uprising of perverse concepts through the television programs propagated by the media, the development of new world religions, and the moral relativism that has been introduced into our educational system. These things can all prove to be detrimental to the growth of Christianity, if nobody is willing or able to take a stand for the Cause of Christ. It is therefore vital for us to establish for ourselves a solidly biblical worldview so that we can correctly understand what is taking place around us. We need to learn discernment because this process is the foundation for all morality, and doing what is most pleasing to God. For the Scriptures declare, "let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance" (Proverbs 1:5). 

       What is discernment, and how can implementing this procedure affect our daily lives? First of all, it should be noted that discernment is not merely differentiating between the boundaries of right and wrong. It does not only involve contrasting between righteousness and unrighteousness. Though discernment involves reproving error, this process also formulates distinctions between right and almost right. Correct discernment helps us to recognize the distinctions among good, better, and best. These categories are clearly not the same, and we should thereby not be allowing ourselves to perceive them as being synonymous. The point is, being almost right is not good enough, for that still allows room for making improvements in our daily decisions. We should always strive to act in the godliest manner as possible in all situations. Ultimately, the scope of discernment is to glorify God through speaking, acting, and thinking in accordance to His will. It is about seeking God, rather than comparing ourselves to other fallible men who bear little or no resemblance of His character.

       Not only does discernment point us in the right direction in the maze of life, but the process also makes us view things for the way that they really are. Reality is not shaped in accordance to how we want it to be. Neither does discernment operate on blind trust, since it works to obtain certainty. And we need to doubt in order to obtain certainty. The process of discernment investigates all the presented options in any given scenario by eliminating all other possible choices to reach a final verdict on which choice is morally best for us to make. It points to what God wants for us. He is a God of love, hope, peace, mercy, and righteousness. He works in our best interests. Therefore, He gave us the gift of reason so that we could properly exercise discernment and recognize what paths we should choose to take in life. At this point, it needs to be said that the ability to discern increases as the Christian matures spiritually (Hebrews 5:13-14). Furthermore, we learn to discern God's will for us through continual biblical study and prayer. From the aforementioned statements, it follows that we should be using our available powers of discernment to assist those who are vulnerable, naive, or gullible. The process of discernment should be used to enrich the seeds of faith in the psychological soils of other people. It should be used to fulfill our obligation of knowing, loving, and serving God.  

       Now that the concept of making the most ethical judgments possible has been expounded in depth, it is appropriate to discuss how utilizing principles of discernment can positively impact our lives. In order to discern what God wills for us, we need to fully examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). We also need to reject all spirits that come to us that do not confess that our Lord Jesus Christ has come in the flesh (1 John 4:1-4). If we keep God's commandments through holding fast by faith in what He has accomplished for us, then we can rest assured that He will stand with us through our quandaries. He will build us up by indwelling in us the presence of the Holy Spirit. He will even use us as instruments to fulfill His goals here on earth. If we learn to discern correctly, then everything in life will fall into place. Everything will have a purpose. Everything will have light. Everything will have intrinsic value. But we need to turn from our earthly ways before we can even think of learning how to correctly discern, for discernment is a gift from God. Trusting in God is the key to unlocking the door of peace "that transcends all understanding" (Philippians 4:7). Discernment is a gift from God to aid us in sanctification, that is, in the lifelong process of us becoming more like our Lord Jesus Christ.   
 
       This essay has described in depth the importance of discernment, and the effects of adhering to a strictly biblical worldview. The ultimate aim of discernment is to glorify God through the transformation of our character to be holy as He is holy. Truth is like a ring; once we wield it, our paths will become illuminated by the Holy Spirit. We must learn to make the best moral choices as possible by weighing the holiness of our decisions to the clear and pure fountain of the Word which springs forth from the Holy Spirit of God. If there was no such thing as the application of ethical judgement of what takes place within our minds or anything externally, then the notion of a peaceful world would also be nonexistent. Discernment is the foundation for all virtue. Without it, everything would be in an incessant state of hopeless anarchy. Our purpose in this life is to know, love, and serve God with the intention of spending eternity with Him in the afterlife. We should be pleasing to Him. So Christians actually do need to make learning discernment a top priority in their lives.

Friday, September 22, 2017

The Bible Calls All Christians To Be Apologists

  • Defining Apologetics:
          -Many Christians seem to be under the impression that the task of defending the gospel against doctrinal corruption requires that one obtains a fancy college degree, but the truth of the matter is that all who rightly profess the name of Jesus Christ can and should be actively engaging somehow in apologetics. But what does it mean to be an apologist? The literal definition of the word "apologetics" means "to give an answer". The phrase "to give an answer" can either mean to refute arguments formulated by critics or provide reasons for embracing a particular worldview. Providing answers to arguments leveled against the Christian faith requires that adherents attain knowledge of their own belief system and investigate errors in the logical structures of objections. We educate ourselves in the field of apologetics through the study of the Bible, which can also be accompanied by study aids that agree with scriptural principles. In short, a Christian apologist is a person who defends the faith against common criticisms and provides answers to questions involving theology.
  • Why Apologetics Matters:
          -Christians need to be competently equipped with the knowledge of their religion through the processes of scriptural study so that they are able to articulate the reasons for accepting the Gospel of Salvation as it is being proclaimed. The core motive behind learning how to substantiate sound defenses of Christianity is to persuade other people to become like-minded, for it is with the heart that man believes unto salvation. A lost soul is too precious to lose to eternal condemnation in the flames of hell. Furthermore, we need to know how to conduct apologetics because we need to subscribe to a worldview, for that is the means by which we interpret everything surrounding us. And if professing Christians still want to insist that we do not need to be intellectually grounded in our faith for the purpose of defending it, then how can we claim to know that we are correct? Why should we even continue to believe what we profess to believe in? Thirdly, we need to contend for the faith because it is a commandment of God to love everybody else as we love ourselves. A refusal to tell other people about the truth denotes a lack care for them. It is thus an earmark of pride and selfishness. Quite simply, all Christians have been placed under the obligation of defending the faith because our Lord Jesus Christ has commissioned us all to serve as being His ambassadors through the preaching of the gospel to the world.
  • Presenting The Text Of 2 Corinthians 10:3-5:
          -"For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to diminish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)
  • Commentary On 2 Corinthians 10:3-5:
          -In defending his earthly ministry for the Lord Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul contrasted between spiritual and man-made weaponry. He did so because fighting spiritual battles requires the occupation of spiritual warfare, which can only be given to us by God through His divine grace. We continually need His divine assistance because He has absolute power and dominion over every stronghold of rebellion. It is through the Holy Spirit that the church has the ability to conquer the spiritual barriers that were erected by the devil to hinder spiritual growth toward God, which is done by preaching the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Gospel is the "armor of God" (Ephesians 6:10-17). It is sharper than any "double-edged" sword (Hebrews 4:12), and thereby pierces through all error. We, like Paul, must labor to convert the lost by giving an answer for why we believe that our Lord Jesus Christ died on a cross at Calvary to redeem us from the curse of sin. We, unlike the world, must strive to fight with love, mercy, and peace.
  • Presenting The Text Of 1 Peter 3:15-16:
          -"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander." (1 Peter 3:15-16)
  • Commentary On 1 Peter 3:15-16:
          -This passage from the Apostle Peter's first epistle is the clearest admonition found in the New Testament canon to defend the gospel. It explicitly instructs us to explain ourselves when challenged by outsiders, and to defend the faith in a state of good conduct. That way, nobody can justly lay accusations of cruelty or mistreatment against us. Instead, we shall maintain a guiltless conscience. Additionally, we could win people over to Christ by example of our holy conduct. If we keep an unblemished conscience, then people may be persuaded to become a member of the household of God because they will be able to see that Jesus Christ is indeed living through us by our good actions.  In short, 1 Peter 3:15-16 is a strong exhortation directed to all members of God's church to engage in apologetics, and to also remain holy as God is holy.
  • Presenting The Text Of Jude 3-4:
          -"Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord." (Jude 3-4)
  • Commentary On Jude 3-4:
          -From the quoted biblical text, we see that the inspired writer Jude's primary intention behind writing his letter to the church was to warn about false teachers usurping authority among the fellow brethren, namely people who perverted the doctrine of grace and rejected the Lordship of Jesus Christ. We are told not to believe the claims of these professing Christian teachers, for they are in reality godless men. Consequently, we are told to steadfastly remain on guard against these heretics who taught contradictory doctrine that was originally laid out by the apostles. We are to always maintain the purity of the gospel.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Proof That Roman Catholics Worship Mary

  • Introduction:
          -For centuries, there has been much debate between Catholics and Protestants on the issue of offering religious devotion to saints through prayer petitions, ceremonies, and iconography. As a matter of fact, Rome has made a reputation for itself with its obsession with the spirits who have departed into the supernatural realm. While critics lay the charge of idolatry on adherents to the Church of Rome, proponents vigorously defend themselves by claiming that they are merely giving honor to whom honor is due. On the contrary, the apologetical arguments advanced by Roman Catholics on "venerating" saintly figures in Christianity fail for the simple reason that their own words and actions testify against them. In other words, their behaviors toward Mary, saints, and angels so closely resemble worship that it is hard to believe that anybody would even try denying accusations of worshiping God's creations. Following are a few samples from Roman Catholic literature concerning devotion to Mary and a short biblical analysis of the presented materials.
  • Roman Catholics Do Ask Mary For The Forgiveness Of Their Sins In Their Prayer Petitions. Consider, For Example:
          -"Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful...but in thy mercy hear and answer me..." (Memorare)
          -"Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope! To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears! Turn, then, O most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us...." (Hail, Holy Queen Prayer)
  • May 7, 1997 (David W. Cloud, Fundamental Baptist News  Service, 1701 Harns Rd., Oak Harbor, WA 98277): 
          -On May 7 Pope John Paul II dedicated his general audience to "the Virgin Mary" and urged all Christians to accept Mary as their mother. He noted the words spoken by Jesus on the cross to Mary and to John--"Woman, behold thy son!" and "Behold thy  mother!" (John 19:26,27), and he claimed that in this statement "IT IS POSSIBLE TO UNDERSTAND THE AUTHENTIC  MEANING OF MARIAN WORSHIP in the ecclesial community ... which furthermore is based on the will of Christ" (Vatican Information Service, May 7, 1997)  
  • Pope John Paul II Underlined That: 
          -the history of Christian piety teaches that MARY IS THE PATH THAT LEADS TO CHRIST, and that filial devotion to her does not at all diminish intimacy with Jesus, but rather, it increases it and leads it to very high levels of perfection." He concluded by asking all Christians "to make room (for Mary) in their daily lives, ACKNOWLEDGING HER PROVIDENTIAL ROLE IN THE PATH OF SALVATION" (Ibid.)
  • Roman Catholic Doctrine Fails To Stand In Conformity To The Written Word Of God:
           -Despite the fact that advocates of Marian devotion emphatically deny that they worship Mary (and are usually sincere in their attempts to serve God), their own words and actions testify against them. They directly plea to Mary for the forgiveness of sins (along with ascribing completely unbiblical functions, titles, and traits) to her and thus place her in the same position as Jesus Christ. But the evidence does not point in favor of the Roman Catholic Church on this matter, for the Scriptures contradict the notion that Mary functions as a "co-mediator". Furthermore, sincerity does not guarantee accuracy. Only God has a role in the path of our eternal salvation: "I, even I, am the LORD; and BESIDE ME THERE IS NO SAVIOUR" (Isaiah 43:11). Elsewhere, the Scriptures declare, "Yet I am the LORD thy God...THERE IS NO SAVIOUR BESIDES ME" (Hosea 13:4). And again, "The GOD of my rock HE IS....MY SAVIOUR..." (2 Samuel 22:3). The New Testament affirms the same message regarding the exclusive role of the Lord in dispensing grace and allowing people to enter His kingdom. Consider the text of Acts 4:12, "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is NONE OTHER NAME under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved". Again, "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, BUT BY ME" (John 14:6). And again, "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus: who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time" (1 Timothy 2:5-6). "And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for HE SHALL SAVE HIS PEOPLE FROM THEIR SINS" (Matthew 1:21). "...through the righteousness of God and OUR SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST" (2 Peter 1:1). The constant theme of the Bible is that we can receive the gift of salvation ONLY through God. Therefore, Mary (and anybody else) cannot help us get to heaven. Roman Catholics could not be more wrong on this point in gospel teaching (a terrible misfortune).
  • Why Is Mary (the mother of Jesus Christ) Crucified On A Cross!?:

In the photo above, Mary is being displayed on the cross in place of the Lord Jesus Christ! This incident took place at the Chapel of the Conception, which is located in the City of Quito, Ecuador. May God bless the knees of those who have refused to bow to Baal!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Praying To Departed Saints Is Unbiblical

  • Introduction:
          -The Roman Catholic Church (and a few others) teach that we can pray to and receive help from certain saints (and even angels) in heaven. In other words, many professing Christians maintain that God has appointed an individual heavenly figure to offer assistance for pretty much every aspect of human life (one figure for each minuscule category).

  • The Bible Teaches That All Christians Are Saints:
          -The Church of Rome maintains that "saints" are a select group of deceased faithful Catholics whom it recognizes as worthy of "saintly veneration" through the processes of beatification and canonization. In other words, only a very small group of special, faithful, dead Roman Catholics qualify to be considered as "saints" by the approval of the pope.
            -On the contrary, the Bible clearly teaches that all Christians are saints. This includes every follower of God; the living and the dead. In fact, the New Testament occupies the term "saint" or "saints" over sixty-seven times in reference to all believers. Consider, for instance, that every living Christian at the Church of Corinth was called a saint (1 Corinthians 1:2). Every living Christian in Rome was called to be a saint (Romans 1:7). The average Christian in the Church of Philippi was called a saint, along with all of the bishops and deacons (Philippians 1:1). The Apostle Paul did not write an epistle to dead saints at Ephesus (Ephesians 1:1). The same is equally true with the epistle to the Colossians (Colossians 1:1-2).
  • A Practice That Is Not Consistent With The Biblical Pattern Of Prayer:
          -Throughout Scripture, there are literally dozens of references to prayer (i.e. Matthew 6:6-14; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 11:1-4; John 14:14; John 17; Psalm 25; 2 Samuel 7:18-29; 1 Kings 8; Philippians 4:6-7; Colossians 3:16-17; Acts 7:51-58; James 1:5-6; Romans 10:1; 15:30; etc.), and all were directed to Him alone. Furthermore, the theme of the Bible is trusting in God alone (i.e. Matthew 6:25-34; Jeremiah 33:3; Isaiah 48:17-18; Psalm 23; 50:15; 71:1; 91:15; Joshua 1:1-6; Ephesians 5:19-20; John 16:23; 1 Corinthians 10:31; etc.). We have no examples in the Bible of calling on entities other than God, with the exception being pagans. We never see God approving of the practice of praying to departed saints. Instead, we are told that God is a jealous God (Exodus 20:4-5; Deuteronomy 24:4; Nahum 1:2). He will therefore tolerate no idolatry. If we are going to be consistent with the principles of Scripture (which we need to be), then we are forced to conclude that all prayer and devotion belongs to God alone. The Scriptures declare, "Whom have I in heaven but You. And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever" (Psalm 73:25-26).
  • The Saints In Heaven Cannot Hear Us:
          -It is impossible for finite beings with inherently limited abilities to simultaneously hear the requests of every person around the world in different languages. Only deity can perform such tasks (more information on this coming up later in this article).
          -Notice that in Scripture, all occasions involving two-way communication between/among beings from heaven (with the exception, or course, being God the Creator) and earth required the creations to be in the same realm (earth on earth communication), rather than being in two separate realms (heaven to earth contact is never found in Scripture for mere finite beings). Consider the examples of the Announcement of the Birth of Jesus Christ and the Transfiguration. This is perhaps the clearest implication that saints who are in heaven are incapable of hearing prayer requests, let alone intercede on our behalf!      
  • Unnecessary Assistance:
          -We do not need any sort of spiritual or physical support from Mary or the saints in heaven because Jesus Christ always intercedes for our prayer requests and is therefore able capable of rescuing sinners from eternal condemnation (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25). Furthermore, the Holy Spirit gives us the strength that we need during our times of spiritual weakness and also prays on our behalf (Romans 8:26). We can approach God with "boldness" and "confidence" as a result of our trust and personal relationship with Christ (Ephesians 3:12; Hebrews 4:14-16). To ascribe such roles to beings other than the Lord is pure blasphemy.
  • Why The Charge That Roman Catholics Are Guilty Of Necromancy Is Correct: 
          -The Church of Rome is notorious for its continuous engagement with the souls of people who have died. Many Roman Catholic Churches across the globe boldly display dressed up corpses in clear glass or plastic cases. In fact, they even go as far as to publicly display organs in the same manner. This has been done with pride by the leaders of Roman Catholicism. Annually, millions of Catholics go to see and offer continuous religious devotion to these corpses, which have been called "incorruptible saints". In other words, the followers of the pope bow down before these cadavers, kiss on them, pray to them, and give them many different forms of adoration. Additionally, there are Catholic churches that display several thousand different pairs of bones, and some places are even MADE OUT OF BONES! Such activity clearly resembles worship and is often found in the occult. However, God expressly commanded the Jewish culture to not have any sort of contact with the spirits who have departed into the supernatural realm (i.e. Deuteronomy 18:9-14; Leviticus 19:31; 1 Samuel 28:6-11; 1 Chronicles 10:9-14; Isaiah 19:1-4). Furthermore, the Levitical Law expressly disapproved of tampering with dead carcasses (Numbers 19:16). As a matter of fact, our Lord Jesus Christ Himself likened the Scribes and Pharisees unto "whitewashed tombs" (Matthew 23:27). All of this clearly shows us that God views the notion of tampering with the deceased in any way as being abominable, but Roman Catholicism continues to actively engage and promote meddling with the souls of the deceased. This is the underlying reason that we correctly lay the charge that Roman Catholics are guilty of partaking in necromancy. In short, there are no prayers for, to, or through the souls of the deceased. Period.
  • Blasphemy Indeed:
          -Only God is omnipotent and omnipresent. Only He knows all of the thoughts and intentions of the human heart (1 Kings 8:37-39; 2 Chronicles 6:30). Only the Lord has unlimited powers. Therefore, praying to the saints in heaven to grant our prayer requests in pointless because they do not have the same attributes that God has. They are finite, whereas God is infinite.
          -How is depending on entities other than God for spiritual support not in some way suggesting that He is weak and powerless? How does such a practice not imply that God's work for us is not sufficient? How would such implications not be offensive to God? Why should we even pray to the saints, especially when we have access to One who can help us with all of our problems (instead of relying on many who can only help with the area of their own "specialty")? Why not make life easier and avoid going to hell after death? Why is it not idolatry to offer the same prayer, adoration, and honor to a bull, Bible, or a soldier, but it is not idolatry when such is offered to Mary and the saints?

  • Answering The Common Arguments That Professing Christians Have Raised In Defense Of Praying To The Souls Of Departed Saints And Angels In Heaven:
         -"We don't pray to...":
            ^Many advocates of praying to the saints argue that they do not pray directly to the saints, but rather, only "ask" them to intercede (intervene on behalf of another) for prayers. In other words, Mary and the saints are only "asked" to pray for those who request their spiritual support.
                *A person would have to pray "TO" the saints if he or she asks them for something because they are not physically present. Furthermore, it would be very illogical to ask somebody in heaven for support when they are in turn going to ask God.
                *The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that Roman Catholics do indeed pray TO the saints in heaven (CCC # 2679). Consider this, "One prays to the Blessed Virgin, to the angels and saints in heaven, but only in the sense that they intercede before God for us" (New Catholic Encyclopedia [1967], volume II, page 673). Thus, the above defensive argumentation is poor because it misrepresents the official teaching of the Roman Catholic Church.
            
            -"Prayer is not worship...It's just asking...":
              ^On the contrary, the biblical concept of prayer is always a form of worship. In Scripture, people always worshiped through prayer. And those petitions were always directed to God alone. We never see any followers of God praying to other entities for spiritual support (or for any other reason). Neither do we see Him approving of such activity.
              ^While it is true that asking is a component of prayer, the biblical concept of prayer cannot simply be watered down to "just asking somebody" because it also encompasses other factors such as praise, adoration, thanksgiving, and mediation (i.e. Psalm 25; Matthew 6:6-14; Luke 18:9-14).
             
            -"People are more lively in heaven than they are on earth...Angels rejoice over conversions from sin...":
              ^Just because a saint is very alive in the presence of God in the heavenly sanctuary does not mean that he or she is capable of answering or being a recipient of prayers. In other words, "being more alive" does not justify engaging in prayers to beings other than God.
              ^"Angels rejoicing over a conversion" cannot simply translate into evidence of "receiving a prayer request", for they most probably know when a soul is added to the Book of Life.
              ^Scriptural examples of angles coming down to earth to deliver messages to people or giving us assistance when needed cannot be used as proof of people praying to the saints because God sent them, which is completely different than humans directly petitioning them for support. 
What if saints and angels in heaven were indeed conscious of events on earth, could hear prayers, and even had the ability to pray for somebody on earth? These scenarios would still not grant biblical justification for people offering prayers petitions to entities other than God.
            -Does 2 Timothy 1:16-18 support praying to Mary and the saints?:
              ^It is assumed that Onesiphorus was dead when the Apostle Paul wrote this epistle.
                  *Such an interpretation is clearly read into the context. It is not logically necessary in order for the text to make sense.
                   *Even if he was dead at this time, the apostle simply asked God to show mercy to "the household of Onesiphorus", which would mean his family. After all, he was very beneficial to Paul during his ministry.
                   *The apostle was neither praying to Onesiphorus nor encouraging anybody to do so.                     
            -Does Revelation 5:8 and Revelation 8:3-4 support praying to the saints?:                                  ^It is argued from these texts that the saints in heaven offered prayers to God (they must therefore be aware of our prayers and are interceding for us).                                                              *This does not mean that people prayed to beings in heaven or that the saints were somehow capable of hearing our prayers. It simply means that God allowed them to "handle" the bowls of prayers. In fact, both texts describe the prayers as coming from saints who are alive on earth and were d These texts do not allow us to pray to saints. Neither do they say anything about prayers being directed to saints or angels in heaven. But if the fact that the saints in heaven got to carry some bowls of prayers proves that they were directed to them from people on earth to answer, then the bowls of wrath, which are mentioned in Revelation 16:1-12, must also be directed to the saints in heaven, since they also carried those. Appealing to the biblical texts of Revelation 5:8 and Revelation 8:3-4 is illogical.
            -Does Psalm 103:20-21 and Psalm 148:2 support praying to departed saints?:                                ^These Scripture passages are totally irrelevant to the debate on whether we should be praying to saints in heaven or not because they say nothing about petitioning saints or angels.
                 ^The Psalmists are simply telling all creations in all places to glorify God's name. They do not in any way exhort us to honor or pray to beings other than the Lord.
                 ^In Psalm 103:22, inanimate objects are told to praise God. In Psalm 148:3, the sun, moon, and the stars are also told to praise God. Should we pray to these things, as well? If not, then why?

Friday, September 15, 2017

Biblical Evidence For Substitutionary Atonement

  • Defining Vicarious Atonement:
          -Vicarious Atonement, which is also known as substitutionary atonement, means that Jesus Christ died in our place for sins. In other words, God imputed the guilt of our sins to His Son Jesus Christ when He suffered on the cross. He made our salvation possible by bearing the punishment that we deserve. He suffered for sins in our place. The one sacrifice of Christ was a perfect, eternal sacrifice which satisfied God's wrath and righteousness. As a result, we must choose the free gift of salvation that God has offered to us by trusting in Him and accepting what he has done for us (Romans 3:27-28).
  • The Righteousness Of Our Lord Jesus Christ Was Imputed To Us Through His Sacrificial Work On The Cross At Calvary:
          -"For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous." (Romans 5:19)
  • Jesus Christ Became Righteousness, Holiness, And Redemption On Our Behalf Through His Atonement Sacrifice:
          -"It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God-that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption." (1 Corinthians 1:30)
  • Our Lord Jesus Christ Took The Curse Of Sin On Our Behalf:
          -"Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: 'Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." (Galatians 3:13)
  • Our Righteousness Is Based On The Righteousness Of Christ:
          -"What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ-the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith." (Philippians 3:8-9)
  • Our Lord Jesus Christ Took Our Punishment On Our Behalf:
          -"And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy." (Hebrews 10:10-14)

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Presentation Of C.S. Lewis' Trilemma

  • Introduction:
          -This traditional argument which was originally developed and popularized by University of Oxford literary scholar C.S. Lewis has been used by apologists to demonstrate that the Lord Jesus Christ is in actuality the Son of God. In short, this logical proof aims to expose the absurdity of simultaneously upholding the position that Christ was a good moral teacher, yet not divine. It presents the man Jesus Christ as being one of three possible alternatives: 1.) liar, 2.) lunatic, or 3.) Lord. This argument developed by C.S. Lewis eliminates two of the possible character descriptions of Christ in order to obtain the conclusion that He is Lord. It has been labeled a "trilemma" because it presents us with three options, with one we must accept.
  • Formation Of C.S. Lewis' Trilemma:
          -"I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. . . . Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God." (Lewis, Mere Christianity, 55-56)
  • For Those Who Claim That The Gospel Accounts Were Legends, Consider The Following Excerpt From C.S. Lewis' Essay written in 1950 Titled "What Are We to Make of Jesus?":
         -"Now, as a literary historian, I am perfectly convinced that whatever else the Gospels are they are not legends. I have read a great deal of legend and I am quite clear that they are not the same sort of thing. They are not artistic enough to be legends. From an imaginative point of view they are clumsy, they don’t work up to things properly. Most of the life of Jesus is totally unknown to us, as is the life of anyone else who lived at that time, and no people building up a legend would allow that to be so. Apart from bits of the Platonic dialogues, there is no conversation that I know of in ancient literature like the Fourth Gospel. There is nothing, even in modern literature, until about a hundred years ago when the realistic novel came into existence."

God's Unfathomable Love For His Children

  • We Are More Than Conquerors Through God Who Loves Us:
          -"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:37-39)
  • Commentary On Romans 8:37-39:
          -This text of Scripture presents us with rather vivid, powerful imagery of the relationship between God and His people. It reveals to us that nothing in all creation can turn Him against us, if we stand for Him. The passage of Romans 8:37-39 contains the divine testimony of God's love overcoming the power of sin in this world through the expiatory work of His Son Jesus Christ. Nothing has the power of overthrowing God because His power is infinite. Furthermore, He is a God of love, mercy, and righteousness. He wants us to emulate His character. It is through His divine grace by which we Christians are enabled to surpass all worldly temptations that the devil strives to entrap us with. Only through the power of our Lord Jesus Christ can we triumphantly withstand all forms of evil. Without God, nothing is possible. But with God, anything is possible. So if God is for us, then what can stand against us?

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

God Loves The People Who Love Him

  • All Things Work For The People Who Love God:
          -"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be confirmed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:28-31)
  • Commentary On Romans 8:28-31:
          -In this passage of Scripture, the Apostle Paul is saying that God cares for all the people who love Him, and has always had a salvation plan for them. These verses are about God transforming our internal character to match that of His Son Jesus Christ so that we can also be called His children. Additionally, the context of Romans 8:28-30 gives important reasons for remaining faithful to Him when confronted by seemingly insuperable dilemmas in life: 
             1.) To be "called" means acceptance of God's divine providence and will. It thereby means the renunciation of sin and rebellion. Therefore, those who are "called by God" and are "predestined to be confirmed to the likeness of His Son" are the people who experience a supernatural transformation of heart from a previous state of transgression against God's Law upon embracing the message of salvation as revealed through the gospel. He has always wanted us to be like Him. We were brought into the world for the express "purpose" of knowing, loving, and serving the Creator. Those who have been called are the people who comprise the Household of God, which is the church. To be incorporated into the church means to become a part of God's family. That is how we rightly become children of God, and how Christ is glorified as being the firstborn among many brethren. 
             2.) First, God justifies us. This means that we are saved by His grace through our faith in His Son Jesus Christ. We no longer stand on the road to eternal condemnation in the literal flames of hell because God has declared us to be righteous through faith. Then, we experience the gradual, lifelong process called sanctification. This means that God has set us apart to be holy, as He is holy. Our thoughts, words, and deeds will become Christ-like. Good works are the product of a genuine salvation. And lastly, the people who were faithful to God's will while alive on earth will experience glorification. This takes place when we receive heavenly rewards for what we have done on earth and glorified bodies. 
             3.) Romans chapter eight contains valuable theological insights that we should continually bring into remembrance concerning the dark moments of earthly life. First, we are told to continually be hopeful despite our earthly sufferings because we will eventually be reunited with God in heaven with glorified bodies during the second coming of His Son Jesus Christ. Secondly, we need to keep in mind that God builds us up by indwelling in us the Holy Spirit. And thirdly, we are reminded that God is constantly working for the best in every aspect of our lives. He possessed foreknowledge of everything that would happen, and had a plan of redemption, even before He created the universe.

Why Doesn't God Answer Prayers?

  • Introduction:
          -God’s refusal to answer people’s prayer petitions has been a major source of discouragement in daily religious life, and has in fact destroyed the faith of some. All Christians have been disappointed from time to time with His answers to their supplications. On the contrary, that is by no means a valid reason for turning away from God, for we are not fully able to comprehend His will. It also needs to be noted that there exists no direct correspondence between what we want and what we need.
  • There are several biblical reasons for God not responding to our prayer requests: 
          -If we discover the reasons behind hindrances to answered prayer, then we need to take the necessary measures to address the problems at hand so that God will answer our future prayer petitions. Consider, for example, that:
                   
              1.) We are being tested.
              2.) It is not time for our prayers to be answered.
              3.) Maybe God said "no" to our requests.
              4.) We may not be praying persistently.
              5.) We may be asking for things with the wrong motives.
              6.) We may be doubting God in our hearts.
              7.) We may not be fulfilling our Christian obligations or have cherished sin in our hearts.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Translator Notes Of The Original King James Bible Refute "KJV Olyism"

  • Introduction:
          -Quite simply, the purpose of this article is to reveal that the original translators of the King James Bible in 1611 A.D. did not wield the same mindset as do the modern King James onlyites. In other words, we see that professing Christians have turned the King James translation of the Bible into an idol and have thus preached a "different" gospel from the one which is contained within the pages of the New Testament. Consider, for example, that:
  • The Original King James Bible Translators Believed That It Was Wise To Occupy A Variety Of Different Translations:
          -“For as it is a fault of incredulity, to doubt of those things that are evident: so to determine of such things as the Spirit of God hath left (even in the judgment of the judicious) questionable, can be no less than presumption. Therefore as S. Augustine saith, that variety of Translations is profitable for the finding out of the sense of the Scriptures: [S. Aug. 2. de doctr. Christian. cap. 14.] so diversity of signification and sense in the margin, where the text is no so clear, must needs do good, yea, is necessary, as we are persuaded.” (The Translators To The Reader, p. 10)
  • The King James Version Translators Only Believed In The Divine Inspiration Of The Original Biblical Manuscripts, Not In Their Own Work:
          -"The original there being from heaven, not from the earth, the author’s being God, not man, the editor, the Holy Spirit, not the wit of the apostles." (The Translators To The Reader, p. 3)
  • The King James Version Translators Did Not Condemn Having Other Bible Translations:
           -"Do we condemn the ancient?… We are so far from condemning any of their labors, that translated before us, either in this land or beyond the sea. We acknowledge them to have been raised up of God for the building and furnishing of His church." (The Translators To The Reader, p. 6)
  • The Original King James Version Translators Did Not Believe That Having Different Translations Of The Bible Negatively Impacted Doctrine:
           -"It hath pleased God in his divine providence, here and there to scatter words and sentences of that difficulty and doubtfulness, not in doctrinal points that concern salvation, (for in such it hath been vouched that the Scriptures are plain) but in matters of less moment." (The Translators To The Reader, p. 10)

Papal Infallibility Refuted

  • Defining Papal Infallibility:
          -The Church of Rome teaches that the Pope cannot pronounce doctrinal error when making official declarations from his chair in matters pertinent to faith and morals ("ex-cathedra"). In other words, Roman Catholicism maintains that the head Roman bishop cannot error when speaking in his fullest capacity and not as a mere private theologian. Also, it is believed that the entire body of legitimate Roman Catholic bishops, who constitute the teaching office commonly known as the "Magisterium", cannot error when they unanimously agree on a doctrine formally defined by the head bishop. This is what knowledgeable Roman Catholics mean when they speak of their church hierarchy as being infallible.
  • The Words Of Martin Luther At The Diet Of Worms, While Still A Roman Catholic Priest:
          -"Unless I am convinced by the testimonies of Scripture or evident reason for I do not believe either Pope or councils alone, since it is certain that they have both erred frequently and contradicted themselves...I neither can nor wish to revoke anything."
  • A Quotation From A Speech Written By Roman Catholic Bishop Strossmayer From Croatia In Opposition To The Recent Establishment Of The Papal Infallibility Doctrine In 1870 A.D. At The First Vatican Council:
          -“I conclude victoriously, with history, with reason, with logic, with good sense, and with Christian conscience, that Jesus Christ did not confer any supremacy on Peter, and that the bishops of Rome did not become sovereigns of the church, but only by confiscating one by one all the rights of the episcopate.” ("Against Papal Infallibility”, Wittenberg Publications, 136 Main Street, Toronto Canada M4E 2V8. ISBN 0-921716-12-5)
  • Testimonial From Roman Catholic Scholars Frank K. Flinn And J. Gordon Melton That Many In The Church Of Rome Stood In Opposition To The Notion Of Papal Infallibility During The Period Of The First Vatican Council:
          -"In protest, 55 council members left Rome the day before the final vote. Amid widespread disagreement and protest over the council, those now known as OLD CATHOLICS separated from communion with Rome." (Frank K. Flinn, J. Gordon Melton, Encyclopedia of Catholicism, [Infobase Publishing, 2007], p. 621)
  • Papal Infallibility Is A False Doctrine Of Roman Catholicism Because History Has Shown Us That Popes Can Officially Teach Heresy:
          -If the Roman Catholic doctrine of papal infallibility is true, then how could the Sixth Ecumenical Council officially anathematize Pope Honorius I (A.D. 625-638) for enforcing the heresy of Monotheletism on the entire Christian church?
  • Roman Catholic Tradition Cannot Simply Be Deemed Infallible Because It Continually Evolves:
          -Though Catholics do not want to hear this, it is a proven fact of history that the Church of Rome has placed into effect changeable, and even contradictory, church traditions. Examples would include, but are not limited to, Pope Gelasius denying the validity of the Mary's bodily assumption, upholding the notion that no one can be saved outside the Roman Catholic Church, and the denial of valid marriages to non-Catholics. In modern times, however, Rome has affirmed the exact opposite of the previously listed church traditions, and has in fact referred to Protestants as being "Separated Brethren". Many other examples could be provided of Roman Catholicism altering its traditions in accordance to the times.
  • There Inevitably Exists Circular Reasoning In The Operational Processes Of The Roman Catholic Hierarchy:
          -How can a Roman Catholic know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Roman bishop possesses the gift of infallibility in his teaching, and that the Church of Rome is the only true church which was originally established by our Lord Jesus Christ? How can one come to the conclusion that Rome's interpretation of Scripture is always correct? From the Catholic perspective, people must submit themselves to the authority claims of their church by resorting to the Catholic hierarchy's interpretations of Scripture and seeking its approval. In other words, the Church of Rome argues its validity by appealing to its own claims to having been sanctioned by God to govern Christianity. Thus, the pope wields the gift of infallibility through the power of the Holy Spirit "because he said so"As church historian Bruce Shelley once said, "Up to the time of Constantine history offers no conclusive evidence that the bishop of Rome exercised jurisdiction outside of Rome. Honor, yes; jurisdiction, no." (Bruce L. Shelley, Church History in Plain Language (Waco, TX: Word, 1982), p. 151)

Abominations In Roman Catholic History

  • Introduction:
          -Indeed, volumes could be written concerning the historical atrocities committed by the Roman Catholic Church. In other words, historians have confirmed the myriad of pernicious actions perpetrated by the Church of Rome such as crusades, inquisitions, schisms, the burning of Bibles, and even occurrences of religious persecution. All these things were done in contradiction to the commandments of love which were authored by our Lord Jesus Christ. However, this article will strictly be exposing the moral and political corruption that took place within the Catholic hierarchy during the Middle Ages. History reveals to us that the office of Pope was purchased, was forcefully revoked from predecessors by heathen kings, and even filled with prostitution.
  • Shocking Admissions From Roman Catholic Scholarship:
         -“The worst period was from the ninth to the eleventh century when simony pervaded the monasteries, the lower clergy, the episcopacy, and even the papacy.” (New Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. XIII, page 228)

         -"To uproot the evil of simony so prevalent during the Middle Ages, the Church decreed the severest penalties against its perpetrators. Pope Julius II declared simoniacal papal elections invalid, an enactment which has since been rescinded, however, by Pope Pius X." (New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia, online, under “Simony.”)
          
         -"In the beginning, the Bishop of Rome was elected by the local clergy and laity along with neighboring bishops. In time, this process came under the influence of secular leaders with negative results. Influencing papal elections, powerful lords and kings hoped to manipulate the office of the papacy in order to advance their temporal ambitions." (The Modern Catholic Encyclopedia, Liturgical Press, page 653)
          
         -“From the fourth to the eleventh century the influence of temporal rulers in papal elections reached its zenith… This civil intervention ranged from the approval of elected candidates to the actual nomination of candidates (with tremendous pressure exerted on the electors to secure their acceptance), and even to the extreme of forcible deposition and imposition.” (New Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. XI, page 572)
  • Ungodly Character Of Previous Popes In The Roman Catholic Church:
         -“Sergius III (A.D. 904-911). Said to have had a mistress, Marozia. She, her mother Theodora, and her sister, ‘filled the Papal chair with their paramours and bastard sons, and turned the Papal Palace into a den of robbers.’ Called in history The Rule of the Harlots (904-963).

         -“…John X (914-928) ‘was brought from Ravenna to Rome and made Pope by Theodora for the more convenient gratification of her passion.’ He was smothered to death by Marozia, who, then, in succession, raised to the Papacy Leo VI (928-929), and Stephen VII (929-931), and John XI (931-936), her own illegitimate son. Another of her sons appointed the four following Popes, Leo VII (936-939), Stephen VIII (939-942), Martin III (942-946), and Agapetus II (946-955). John XII (955-963), a grandson of Marozia, was ‘guilty of almost every crime; violated virgins and widows, high and low; lived with his father’s mistress; made the Papal Palace a brothel; was killed while in the act of adultery by the woman’s enraged husband.’

         -“...Boniface VII (984-985), murdered Pope John XIV, and ‘maintained himself on the throne…by a lavish distribution of stolen money.’…

         -“Benedict VIII (1012-1024), bought the Office of Pope with open bribery. …

         -“John XIX (1024-1033), Bought the Papacy. He passed through all the necessary clerical degrees in one day.

         -“Benedict IX (1033-1045), was made Pope as a boy 12 years old, through a money bargain with the powerful families that ruled Rome. ‘Surpassed John XII in wickedness; committed murders and adulteries in broad daylight; robbed pilgrims on the graves of martyrs; a hideous criminal, the people drove him out of Rome.’ …

        -“Gregory VI (1045-1046), Bought the Papacy. …

         -“The Inquisition, called the ‘Holy Office,’ was instituted by Innocent III [1198-1216]….

         -“John XXIII (1410-1415), called by some the most depraved criminal who ever sat on the Papal Throne; guilty of almost every crime; as cardinal in Bologna, 200 maidens, nuns and married women fell victims to his amours; as Pope he violated virgins and nuns; lived in adultery with his brother’s wife, was guilty of sodomy and other nameless vices; bought the Papal Office; sold Cardinalates to children of wealthy families; and openly denied the future life….

         -“Pius II (1458-1464), was said to have been the father of many illegitimate children, spoke openly of the methods he used to seduce women….

         -“Sixtus IV (1471-1484). Sanctioned the Spanish Inquisition…. Was implicated in a plot to murder Lorenzo de Medici, and others opposed to his policies. Used the Papacy to enrich himself and his relatives. Made eight of his nephews Cardinals, while as yet some of them were mere boys….

         -"Innocent VIII (1484-1492). Had 16 children by various married women. Multiplied Church Offices and sold them for vast sums of money. Decreed the extermination of the Waldenses….

         -“Alexander VI (1492-1503), called the most corrupt of the Renaissance Popes, licentious, avaricious, depraved; bought the Papacy; made many new cardinals for money; had a number of illegitimate children, whom he openly acknowledged and appointed to high church office while they were yet children, who, with their father, murdered cardinals and others who stood in their way. Had for a mistress a sister of a Cardinal, who became next Pope, Pius III (1503)….

         -“Julius II (1503-1513)…with vast income from numerous bishoprics and church estates, bought the Papacy…."

         -“Paul III (1534-1549). Had many illegitimate children… (Henry H. Halley, Halley’s Bible Handbook, 24th Edition, pp.774-780)

  • Perverse Decrees Enforced By Papal Predecessors:
         -Liberius (352-366) said Jesus was less than God - the Son was less than the Father.

         -Innocent I (401-417) taught that un-baptized babies went directly to Hell.

         -Gelasius (492 -496) taught that baptized babies went to Hell if they never had communion.

         -Urban II (1088-1099) decreed that heretics were to be tortured and killed. This became a dogma of the Roman Catholic Church.


         -Innocent III (1198-1216) stated that “Every cleric must obey the Pope, even if he commands what is evil; for no one may judge the Pope.” (Dave Hunt, A Woman Rides The Beast, p.86)

         -Boniface VIII (1294-1303) in his Bull Unam Sanctam in 1302,“claimed authority over all temporal powers, made absolute obedience to the pope a condition of salvation.” (Hunt, p.235)

         -Gregory XI (1370-1378) issued a decree in 1372 claiming “papal dominion over the entire Christian world, secular and religious, and excommunicated all who failed to obey the popes and to pay them taxes. [It] was confirmed by subsequent popes and in 1568 Pope Pius V swore that it was to remain an eternal law.” (Hunt, p.70)

         -Martin V (1417-1431) “commanded the King of Poland in 1429 to exterminate the Hussites” (Hunt, p.247) 

         -Innocent VIII (1484-1492) granted a 20-year indulgence for “purchasing the privilege of eating favorite dishes during Lent and at other times of fasting. It was a way to be credited with fasting while indulging oneself in the richest of foods.” (Hunt, p.185)

         -“Pope Alexander VI (1492-1503) claimed that all undiscovered lands belonged to the Roman Pontiff, for him to dispose of as he pleased in the name of Christ as His vicar.” (Hunt, p.70) This pope divided up most of the world between Spain and Portugal, except for North America, which was settled mostly by Protestants.

         -Clement XII (1730-1740) prescribed the death penalty for members of Freemasonry, as well as to those giving any sort of aid to them.

         -Pius IX (1846 -1878) in his 1864 Syllabus of Errors, decreed the union of Church and state, that Roman Catholicism must be the state religion everywhere, and that the Church may use force to compel obedience. He also reiterated that there was no salvation outside the Catholic church. It was he who declared the dogma of Papal Infallibility.

         -Pius X (1903-1914) said he could not sanction Jews going to Jerusalem because, “The Jews have not recognized our Lord; we cannot recognize the Jews.” (cited in Hunt, p.292)

         -Paul VI (1963-1978) told influential Hindu leader Sri Chinmoy, “The Hindu life and the Christian life shall go together. Your message and my message are the same.” (Hunt, p.417)

         -John Paul II (1978-2005) declared that images of saints have power: “A mysterious ‘presence’ of the transcendent Prototype seems as it were to be transferred to the sacred image…. The devout contemplation of such an image thus appears as a real and concrete path of purification of the soul of the believer…because the image itself, blessed by the priest…can in a certain sense, by analogy with the sacraments, actually be considered a channel of divine grace.”(Hunt, p.184)