Sunday, April 30, 2017

Biblical Standards To Use In Testing Ministers

  • Examining Ourselves To See Whether We Are In The Realm Of Faith:
          -If we who desire to preach and defend Christianity stand in error on fundamental articles of the faith, then we are really in no place to speak because we are only deceiving ourselves and other people. That would make us hypocrites and blind guides. We must know whether we ourselves are upholding the biblical gospel (Galatians 1:8-9). We must examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5).
  • A Different Source Of Revelation:
          -False teachers generally rely on sources of revelation outside the Bible. For example, Mormons carry around the Book of Mormon and Jehovah's Witnesses appeal to the Watchtower. They base their doctrines off their own puffed up fleshy minds. Deceivers formulate their own inspired revelation and act as though it originated from God. Christians appeal to Scripture as their authoritative source of doctrine (2 Timothy 3:15-17).
  • Examining The Substance Of The Message:
          -Almost every person who claims to be a Christian insists that the central message of his or her teaching is Jesus Christ. It is rare to find groups that openly deny that Christ is Lord and Savior. Hence, heretics introduce their heretical ideas in a "secret" or deceptive manner (2 Peter 2:1). We must listen carefully to how each preacher phrases and articulates his or her teachings. For example, people could preach for the sake of earning money. They could only be concentrated on exalting themselves. False teachers can occupy Christian terminology to describe completely different concepts that actually blaspheme God. We must examine the central message of each professing Christian teacher. If Jesus Christ is not quint-essential to the message of a preacher, then he is to automatically be deemed an untrustworthy steward.
  • The Influence That A Message Has:
          -While false teachers promise true spiritual freedom, they are in reality slaves to sin (2 Peter 2:19). They have been enslaved to any form of sin that they have chosen to continually partake of (for example, greed). A true Christian is able to escape selfish lusts because he or she has been indwelt by the Spirit of God (2 Peter 1:3-4). Jesus Christ is truth and life to us (John 14:6). False teachers point to themselves in their teaching. They do not glorify God. The validity of a person's ministry is not so much based on whether he or she can perform miracles but proclaims Jesus Christ as God come in the flesh (1 John 4:1-4).
  • The Impact A Message Has On Its Hearers:
          -Another way to evaluate the truthfulness of a message to see how it alters people's lives. The true, biblical gospel will always influence converts to serve the Lord faithfully. On the contrary, a false gospel will lead people in the opposite direction of godliness. Those who are influenced by a false gospel will also be inclined to participate in sin. False converts are prideful, disrespectful toward other people, greedy, lustful, and rebellious in nature (2 Peter 2:10-20). They will be legalistic, having developed an outward appearance of righteousness due to obeying extra-biblical rules. They will be ensnared in deception. The true gospel involves a person placing his or her trust in Christ's work and His work alone for salvation (1 Corinthians 15:1-6).

    Saturday, April 29, 2017

    A Discussion On The Morality Of Homosexuality

    • There Is No Such Thing As Gay Christianity: 
              -The Levitical Law, which functioned as the governing law code for Israel, expressly forbade homosexual acts, and prescribed the sentence of death to those who dared to partake in same-sex actions (Leviticus 18:22-25; 20:13). In fact, God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of sexual immorality, which included homosexuality (Genesis 19:4-13). Interestingly, the New Testament writer Jude describes this destructive situation happening as a result of being rebellious against God's divine authority through the partaking of "strange flesh" (Jude 5-8)! The Apostle Peter described these men as "lawless" (2 Peter 2:7-10). The New Testament warns that any person who practices in homosexuality is committing sin against God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 1 Timothy 1:9-11). He allows the hearts of those who exchange natural relations for unnatural to become darkened against the truth of the gospel (Romans 1:25-27). The pattern of marriage found in Scripture is always described as a physical union between man and woman (Genesis 1:18-25; Matthew 19:4-6).
    • Our Bodily Design Refutes Homosexuality:
              -Homosexuality is contrary to human nature. In other words, all people are born heterosexual by design. Homosexuality is contrary to human nature in that it does not produce life.
    • What About Equal Rights?:
              -If the legalization of same-sex marriage means equal rights for members of the LGBT community, then why cannot there be equal rights for the people who want more than one partner in marriage? If we have to redefine the concept of marriage to include two homosexual people, then why would it be wrong for us to also redefine marriage to include more than one person, or even children?
    • Refuting The "Born Gay" Argument: 
              -The testimonials presented by the increasing number of former homosexuals, who now happily have marital partners of the opposite sex, are solid evidence that homosexuality is a choice. In fact, a small, but recognizable, percentage of homosexuals openly admit that they chose to adopt the homosexual lifestyle.
              -Homosexuality is a behavior, or an action, in the same sense that heterosexual behavior is. Actions are things that we choose to do. Homosexuality is not in any way analogous to our skin color, height, or gender, which are genetic conditions. Science has confirmed that the primary causes of homosexuality are environment, culture, and freewill (genetic identity disorder, women getting abused by men, children getting abused by homosexuals, etc.).
              -Twins are proof against the "born gay" argument because they always have identical genes or DNA. If genetics can cause homosexuality, then both babies must have the same condition. But this is hardly ever the case with twins. Only one in the pair of children tends to have a same-sex attraction. "Gay babies" are simply a preposterous and fictitious idea.
              -Even assuming that the born gay argument is valid, being born with the potential to act in a certain manner in no way provides justification for behavioral patterns. There is no genetic excuse for homosexuality, anymore than there is a genetic excuse for theft or lying. Note that the Apostle Paul himself placed all these acts in the category of sin. These tendencies, whether they are genetic or not, cannot be justified on the grounds of "being born that way." Behaviors are learned and chosen.
    • Addressing The Claim That Homosexuality Occurs In Nature: 
              -Just because animals do irrational things to each other does not mean that humans should be engaging in them same activities. The following behaviors can also be found among animal species:
               *Raping other animals
               *Eating their young when threatened
               *Eating their sex partner
               *Injuring sexual partners
               *Have intercourse with their own children

    Friday, April 28, 2017

    Demonstrating His Love For Sinners

                                       Christ died on the cross because of His love,

                                       He ascended into heaven above.

                                       We spread His love by the words we preach,

                                       So others know it is not out of reach.

                                       We demonstrate God’s love through our good action,

                                        So more join Love’s magnetic attraction.

                                        We show love though generous deed,

                                         So that putrid sin will therefore impede.

    Is Faith Irrational? (Refutation Of Scientism)

    • Introduction:
             -Atheists commonly portray Christians as establishing their beliefs on an empty shell of faith. It is claimed that Christians uphold their beliefs on completely biased and irrational grounds, which means that they are allegedly based on personal feelings and so-called revelations. Many atheists reject the validity of anything that cannot be proven or tested in a laboratory. The people who subscribe to this view, known as scientism, automatically deem the supernatural realm to be nonexistent because it transcends the scope of the natural world. A great deal of atheists are quick to rule out the possibility of truth in anything miraculous because they subscribe to naturalism.
    • Inconsistent Thinking:
             -It is quite unreasonable to dismiss any given idea (the concept of religion or the miraculous) as being false when there is no "scientific evidence" for establishing such a denial. The people who subscribe to scientism (including famous proponents such as Richard Dawkins) are being utterly inconsistent with their own ideological framework (that everything must be proven or disproved in a laboratory) because they are not making a verdict in accordance with known facts. What atheists term as "no evidence" (for the existence of God) cannot simply be regarded as "evidence against" the existence of God. It is not reasonable to suggest that faith is inherently superstitious, since there are many things that we know to be real but cannot prove in a laboratory.
    • Misrepresenting Biblical Faith:
             -Biblical faith in itself is not merely a mental conviction that is founded without evidence. It is not equivalent to blind submission. It is not simply an irrational whim or a form of wishful thinking. There is a relationship between the notions of faith and certainty. We must have certainty beyond a shadow of a doubt in order to truly believe in anything. Our faith must be tested or proven (1 Thessalonians 5:21). It must be based on reason. Our faith is based on evidence. It is based on what we know to be true. This is what constitutes true, biblical faith in the fundamental tenants of the Christian religion. Faith and reason do not contradict, but rather compliment each other.
    • Boundaries Of Scientific Investigation:
             -It is impossible to examine the truth of everything that we have seen or heard every day. Our lives are simply too short to test the validity of everything that we may have learned, whether we obtained knowledge from experience or education. To doubt the truth behind everything would inevitably result in infinite regression. Such would undermine the concept of certainty, as well as trust. It would corrode the objectivity of education and court rulings. Human beings inevitably have faith, which includes atheists because they claim to have reasons for rejecting the God of the Bible. Faith is necessary for the establishment of relationships. We can know things beyond a reasonable doubt. Hence, it is wrong for atheists to charge that any degree of faith is irrational. They inevitably have a degree of faith because the existence of God cannot be disproven. Do atheists have faith in their own existence? The real problem is that skeptics are refusing to accept the evidence that Christians present in favor of a theistic worldview and the Bible.
    • Understanding That Scientific Inquiry Has Limitations (And Thereby Refutes Scientism):
             -Let us consider for a moment some of the essential features of human life. We have free will. We have conscience. We have rationality. We have intellect. We acknowledge the existence of moral truths. We know that human life has intrinsic value. We yearn for an ultimate purpose in life. Mathematics consists of several infallible formulas, proofs, and theorems. Universals, propositions, and possible worlds are examples of abstract realities. There are principles of beauty and artistic innovation, which are known as aesthetics. The universe came into being for a reason. Physical constants have a fine-tuning. Scientific laws themselves are based on major (empirically unverifiable) assumptions. If scientism is true, then all of the aforementioned ideas must be rejected as false because they cannot be verified by the scientific method. In fact, science itself would be self-refuting. None of the previously mentioned notions would be true, let alone applicable to our lives. Truths do exist beyond the scope of the scientific laboratory. It does not contain all the answers to the questions of life. What we are arguing against is a "science only" worldview, not science itself.

    Tuesday, April 25, 2017

    The Wisdom of The Words of God

         The Word of God is the key and foundation for all wisdom in life. The Bible is the infallible compass to all divine truths pertaining to salvation and godliness. It is nourishment for the minds of those who hunger and thirst for the righteousness of God. The words of the Creator impart wisdom to the simple. "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes" [Psalm 19:7-8]. If the precepts of the Lord are perfect, then continually studying His words will enrich the mind with valuable lessons about life and morality. Life is like a book; God is the author and we are all the main characters. The Word of God covers several aspects of life such as gratitude, honesty, self-control, and generosity.

          People learn many great lessons about wisdom when Scripture is closely examined. One of its most important teachings is to have gratitude for everything we receive on a daily basis. People should be grateful and remember the magnificent works of the Lord such as the creation of life and the materials that we occupy each day. "Give thanks to the God of heaven, For His loving kindness (graciousness, mercy, compassion) endures forever" [Psalm 136:26]. We should reveal much gratitude because of what He has done for us. "You are the God who does wonders; among the peoples you have revealed your might" [Psalm 77:15]. We have emphatically been taught to view the glass of life as being at least half full, rather than as being half empty. Otherwise, human life becomes joyless. We must give the Lord praise for everything that He has provided us.

          We have instruction from the Word of God to continually be cautious of our own words. We must always remain truthful. We must exercise caution as to what we say and how we say things. “A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends” [Proverbs 16:28]. How would a person feel if his or her reputation was ruined as a result of slander and libel? People who never think before they speak are foolish. A person who has wisdom has control over their words. Unwise speech is like a virus, pass it around and the minds of other people will be infected with the stain of meaningless thoughts. Those who wish to be wise with their mouths will also to the Proverbs.

          Another moral lesson that we can learn by studying the inspired words of God is the necessity of remaining honest. We can never trust a person who spreads falsehood. Lying can severely damage a person's reputation for a very lengthy period of time, if not permanently. "An honest witness does not deceive; but a false witness pours out lies" [Proverbs 14:5]. The only reason that a person spreads lies about others is for selfish motives. People talk behind other's backs because they want to inflict physical or mental harm. Gossip is like a double-edge sword; when it cuts, it harms the confidence of others and slashes the armor of the perpetrator's conscience. A lie leaves an everlasting slash on the person who tells it. Dishonesty is only the springboard for more dishonesty, whether it is about oneself or other people.

          The Word of God repeatedly reinforces our obligation to love and honor other people. "Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one above yourselves" [Romans 12:10]. Care is what keeps the world turning. It is the underlying basis for all relationships. It is necessary for human communication. Love is the foundational virtue for the development of all other virtues. We must choose to help those who are less fortunate than we are. "Love your neighbor as yourself..." [Leviticus 9:18]. All other moral imperatives issued in the Old Testament follow from this single commandment. It is reiterated in the New Testament [Matthew 5:43-48]. This is true wisdom. Hatred is like a raging fire; let it burn and the house of companionship will be incinerated entirely.

          People can learn the virtue of self-control by observing the words of God. We need an infallible guide in our lives because conscience alone is not an infallible guide. All learning must originate from an outside source, which eventually points to an ultimate standard that governs every aspect of our lives. That final court of authority is God Himself. We must place our trust in God, rather than the vain imaginations of our hearts. "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" [Jeremiah 17:9]. Only through Him can we find complete satisfaction in life. The way of sin is finite and therefore will never satisfy the human heart that desires lasting meaning and fulfillment. We must reject our foolish lusts. We learn self-control by observing the commandments of God.

          The Holy Scriptures are the cornerstone to all wisdom because they are an inspired record of the words of God. They were recorded on scrolls by faithful prophets and apostles. Those who truly hunger and thirst for righteousness will immediately find satisfaction when they enter into His presence. People gain wisdom when they meditate on His statutes. The words of the Lord are pure. The words of the Lord are flawless. The words of the Lord impart understanding to the simple. There is therefore no valid reason for us to object in imitating His ways. God is our Rock and Salvation. Deuteronomy 8:3 says, "...man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord."

    Sunday, April 23, 2017

    A Refutation Of Moral Relativism

    • Introduction:
              -Moral Relativism is the philosophical stance that no existing moral standard or belief system is better than ones found in different societies. In other words, relativism is the belief that all points of view are equally correct or valid. According to this philosophical perspective, the acceptance of all aspects pertinent to knowledge, truth, and morality are governed by individual, separate societies, civilizations, and different periods of time. Moral relativism teaches that truth is changeable and is determined by each person. This viewpoint denies the existence of a universal standard of morality that dictates all of our moral thoughts and behaviors. It teaches that truth is relative to the individual.
    • Moral Relativism Is Self-Refuting:
              -If all moral perspectives are of equal validity, then that means that the rejection of moral relativism is also valid. Moral relativists must accept the belief that moral relativism is false.
              -To say that all truths are relative is to either make a relative or absolute proposition. If relative, then one cannot simply deny the existence of absolutes. If the statement is meant to be an absolute, then absolute statements must exist. This would testify to the existence of objective truths! In this case, not all truths would be relative to the individual.
              -Those who claim that no absolute truths exist have subscribed to a completely untenable position, for it is self-contradictory. While denying the existence of absolute truths, moral relativists make an absolute statement: "There are no absolute truths." Can moral relativists be absolutely sure that no absolute standards exist? How do they know that they are not simply deceiving themselves?
              -If two (or more) perceptions of truth contradict each other, then how can we know which view is correct? Which perception of truth is more trustworthy? Can truth be self-contradictory? No, such a proposition would be self-refuting. This would mean that either one or both perceptions of reality are in error.
              -If moral relativists want to claim that moral relativism cannot be critiqued by any form of logic to search for fallacies within the boundaries of such a mindset, then by what standard or final court of authority can they exclude moral relativism from being critiqued by logic? What criteria was used to exclude moral relativism from being evaluated by logic?
              -If moral relativism is true, then how can we judge the actions of people living in different societies? How could we condemn murder, theft, or rape? Is there anything that is morally wrong? If so, then why? How can we know? Should we silence math instructors who could possibly offend students when they teach that 1+1=2 in an objective manner?

    Friday, April 21, 2017

    Men Of Faith Who Were Also Men Of Science

    "We, the undersigned students of the Natural Sciences, desire to express our sincere regret that researchers into scientific truth are prevented by some in our own times into occasions for casting doubt into occasions for casting doubt upon the truth and authenticity of the Holy Scriptures.

    We conceive that it is impossible for the Word of God, as written in the book of nature, and God’s Word written in Holy Scripture, to contradict one another, however much they may appear to differ.

    We are not forgetful that physical science is not complete, but is only in a condition of progress, and that at present our finite reason enables us only to see as through a glass darkly, and we confidently believe, that a time will come when the two records will be seen to agree in every particular.

    We cannot but deplore that Natural Science should be looked upon with suspicion by many who do not make a study of it, merely on account of the unadvised manner in which some are placing it in opposition to Holy Writ.

    We believe that it is the duty of every scientific student to investigate nature simply for the purpose of elucidating truth, and that if he finds that some of his results appear to be in contradiction to the Written Word, or rather to his own interpretations of it, which may be erroneous, he should not presumptuously affirm that his own conclusions must be right, and the statements of Scripture wrong.

    Rather, leave the two side by side till it shall please God to allow us to see the manner in which they may be reconciled; and, instead of insisting upon the seeming differences between Science and the Scriptures, it would be as well to rest in faith upon the points in which they agree."

    A manifesto signed by 617 men of science at the British Association of Scientists in 1865; cited by Alfred M. Rehwinkel in The Flood, p. XVIII-XIX

      Wednesday, April 19, 2017

      A Scriptural Refutation Of Antinomianism

              Antinomianism is the belief that Christians are not obligated to obey any moral laws that were established by God. In other words, this theology teaches that God has no moral standards for His followers to heed to. It teaches that our faith "frees" us from the obligation of choosing to act in accordance to the moral principles of God. The word "antinomianism" is derived from two Greek words, which are "anti" (against) and "nomos" (law). Antinomianism argues that since Christians are not saved by the keeping of the Law (which is true), God has no moral laws that He expects us to obey (which is not true). In summary, this doctrine distorts a biblically grounded teaching by formulating an unbiblical conclusion.

              We know that God has moral commandments for us to obey because He inspired the Apostle Paul to write that the unrighteous will not inherit His kingdom which is in heaven (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 5:5-7). We must get our sins forgiven and removed by God. True Christians will choose to glorify God for the free gift of salvation that He has given through good works. The New Testament operates on the Law of Christ (1 Corinthians 9:21; Galatians 6:2), which is a law of unmerited grace. This "law" instructs us to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40). Thus, the law of Christ is simply the moral law of God that the Mosaic Law confirms. It reflects His character and His nature.

              The "Law of Christ" is not a comprehensive list of legal codes, as was the case with the Levitical Law. The Law of the New Covenant stands on love of God and love of neighbor, just as did the Mosaic Law. True Christians desire to keep their thoughts and actions in harmony with His will. They will be filled with the Holy Spirit. True Christians will obey God (John 14:15-24; 1 Corinthians 7:19; 1 John 2:3-4). We do not obey the "Law of Christ" to earn eternal salvation in heaven (nor was that the purpose of the Mosaic Law). Rather, we obey out of gratitude for the sacrificial work of His Son. We obey because our hearts have been changed by His grace. The Apostle Paul describes the direction of sanctification as growing in holiness (Romans 6:1-2).

              We shall know people by their fruits (Matthew 7:15-23). We will be judged according to our conduct in this life (Romans 2:6-13; 2 Corinthians 5:10). We demonstrate the reality of our faith by our deeds (James 2:14-26). God is the Author of Eternal Salvation to those who obey Him (Hebrews 5:9). Grace and faith do not nullify but fulfill the Law (Romans 3:31). The two are not to be treated as a smokescreen against holiness in the Christian life. Believers are called to set good moral examples. Every nation needs to submit to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior through conversion of heart (Romans 1:5; Jude 4). Also, Scripture repeatedly attributes both titles to Him. Salvation, broadly speaking, is a moral transformation.

      Tuesday, April 18, 2017

      The Intercession Of The Holy Spirit

                 "Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:26-28)

                 The Lord Jesus Christ told the twelve apostles that He needed to depart from the world so that the Advocate could come, who is the Holy Spirit (John 16:6-8). If Jesus never left this earth physically, then the Spirit could not come to fulfill His designated purposes on earth.

                 What did the Holy Spirit do for the apostles? He guided the twelve disciples to all Truth (John 16:13). The Spirit of God give the first century Christians all of the necessary revelation for learning about God's divine character and His will for us (John 14:16; 26). He is a source spiritual nourishment and comfort.

                 Today, He continues to fulfill the same tasks that He was originally appointed for. The Holy Spirit works by helping true members of the church persevere daily through all sorts of sinful temptations. He leads searching people to truth. The Spirit combats evil through the spread of the Gospel Message, which is His fighting gear (Ephesians 6:10-18; Hebrews 4:12).

                 The Lord Jesus Christ is eternally present in His divinity along with the Holy Spirit. Both members of the Holy Trinity intercede on our behalf in prayer. They know us and what we need even better than we ourselves. Jesus and the Father come to and dwell with believers in the Holy Spirit. Christ ascended into heaven to pour out the Spirit on the body of the redeemed.

        Monday, April 17, 2017

        The Intercession Of Jesus Christ

                "But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever." (Hebrews 7:24-28)

                Appointed members of the Old Testament Levitical priesthood were finite creations of God who continually needed to be replaced because of physical death. The High Priests of the Jewish community needed to repeatedly offer the blood from sacrificed animals to temporarily satisfy the wrath of God. However, the customs of the Law were only a shadow of the greater things to come. They prefigured the coming of the newer and better Covenant, which is the fulfillment of the Old Covenant. In other words, the entire Old Testament sacrificial system pointed directly to the perfect, single atonement sacrifice performed by the Lord Jesus Christ at Calvary.

                While the Old Testament priests were sinners who were in need of a Savior, Jesus is the pure, unblemished High Priest who has made the once-for-all perfect sacrifice on the cross. He is the Source of everlasting life (Hebrews 5:9). Because of what He has done for us, we are able to approach God with confidence in His promises (Hebrews 4:14-16). Jesus Christ will always be there for us. We will always have access to the grace of God because of what He has done on our behalf. He is our direct channel to God. As Hebrews 7:25 says, Christ forever lives to make intercession on behalf of repentant sinners

          Friday, April 14, 2017

          The Biblical Basis For The Trinity

          • Defining The Trinity: 
                    1.) God is three persons (The Father, The Son, And the Holy Spirit).
                    2.) Each person is divine.
                    3.) There is only one God (Deuteronomy 32:39; Isaiah 43:10-11; 44:6-8).
          • Further Explanation Of The Trinity: 
                    -Each of these Persons are completely divine in nature, but one figure does not equal the entire Godhead.
                    -Each person is distinct at the same time.
                    -The three persons are related to each other but are distinct at the same time.
                    -The Doctrine of the Trinity is known as one of the "mysteries" of the Christian religion.
          • Biblical Texts Demonstrate The Unity Among The Three Divine Persons Of The Trinity (John 10:30; Matthew 28:18-21; 1 Corinthians 8:6-8; 12:4-6; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Isaiah 42:1; Isaiah 48:16; Ephesians 4:4-6).
          • Jesus Christ Is Co-Eternal With The Father (John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:15-17; 2:9; Isaiah 9:6; John 8:56-59; 17:5; 2 Timothy 1:9; Hebrews 1:1-3; 7:3).
          • Jesus Is Called Emmanuel, Which Is Translated To Mean "God Is With Us" (Matthew 1:23).
          • Jesus Christ Has Two Wills---Human And Divine; He Is Both Fully God And Fully Human (Philippians 2:5-11).
          • Jesus Is Called The Son Of God (John 5:18; 19:7).
          • Only God Can Forgive Sins, But Jesus Christ Also Has The Power To Forgive Our Sins (Mark 2:5-7). 
          • The Only Way That You Can Honor The Father Is If You Honor The Son (John 5:23).
          • Thomas Called Jesus Christ "God" (John 20:28): 
                    -The Greek of John 20:28 literally reads, "The Lord of me and the God of me."
                    -If Thomas was speaking blasphemy, then why did Jesus Christ not rebuke him for making such a statement? Instead, Thomas' profession of Jesus' identity as God was accepted (John 20:29).
          • A Case For The Deity Of The Holy Spirit:
                    -The Holy Spirit is present everywhere (Psalm 139:7-9), is all-knowing (1 Corinthians 2:10-11), is all-powerful (Romans 15:19), eternal (Hebrews 9:14), a source of life (John 6:63; 2 Corinthians 3:6), and inspires revelation (2 Peter 1:19-21).
                    -Lying to the Holy Spirit is lying to God Himself (Acts 5:3-5).
                    -Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit make intercession before God the Father on our behalf (Romans 8:26-28; Hebrews 7:25).
          • Titles Shared By The Father And The Son Jesus Christ: 
                    -King of Kings (Deuteronomy 10:17; Daniel 2:47; Revelation 17:14), Lord of Lords (Deuteronomy 10:17; Psalm 136:3; Revelation 19:16), the only Savior (Isaiah 43:10-11; Acts 4:12; Titus 2:13; 3:4-7), The First and The Last (Isaiah 44:6; Revelation 22:13), I Am (Exodus 3:13-14; John 8:58), The Alpha and The Omega (Revelation 1:8; 22:13-16), Rock (Isaiah 8:14; 1 Peter 2:7-8), Shepherd (Psalm 23; Hebrews 13:20-21), and Lord (Psalm 110:1; 1 Corinthians 12:3; 2 Peter 1:1; Jude 4).
          • Identical Functions Of God The Father And God The Son: 
                    -Both are worshiped by angels (Nehemiah 9:6; Hebrews 1:6); both are unchanging (Psalm 102:27; Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8); both created everything (Nehemiah 9:6; Hebrews 1:10); both can answer prayers (Matthew 6:6-14; John 14:13-14; Acts 7:59); both give eternal life (John 10:28; 1 John 5:11); both judge the world (Psalm 96:13; John 5:22). The Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit sanctify Christians (1 Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 13:12; 1 Peter 1:2).

          Why Do We Hope?

          The purpose of this reflection paper is to provide a concrete answer to the question of why human beings possess hope. In other words, this article is being written to demonstrate how hope is a quint-essential facet to our daily lives. Without it, we would have no inner source of strength to persevere through every dark corner of our physical, psychological, and spiritual struggles. We would have no ultimate sense of fulfillment. So it is vital to raise and ponder the following questions. Why does society need hope in order to continue functioning? What would life be like, if the concept of hope did not exist? Is such a longing of the human heart of major significance? What is hope, anyway?  How can we obtain an ultimate sense of fulfillment in our lives?

          In short, to hope means to have a strong desire for a specific cause, effect, or condition in life. This emotion is the yearning or aspiration for the best results or an ultimate purpose in life. It is not simply a form of wishful thinking, but rather, a component of our faith. Hope is a part of faith. Both realities are interrelated, which means that hope is faith that looks beyond the view of the present. Hope looks into the future. In Christian theology, to hope means to have trust in God because of His divine promises. For example, we trust in God for salvation because that is what He has promised to those who have believed from the heart that His Son Jesus Christ is the risen Messiah.But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it” (Romans 8:25).

          Without hope, all things, whether they are perceptible or imperceptible, would appear remarkably meaningless, pointless, and dull. In other words, our portrait of life would have no color without hope. Everything would appear as either black or white to our minds. If the idea of hope was only a practical illusion created by the mentally deranged, then there would be no sense in accepting cultural diversity or striving to accomplish goals because we would have no internal sense of ongoing inspiration. Neither would we be able to describe any degrees of perfection. It would be impossible to formulate distinctions among the categories of good, better, or best. It would be highly illogical to make comparisons or even create analogies to simplify sophisticated concepts because the explicit boundaries of concrete and abstract would be blurred. 

          If no standard of perfection exists to govern every lifetime aspect, which can range from the recognition of objective truth to the formation of fallible, subjective opinions of the human mind, then how could we possibly describe things as being imperfect or incomplete? How would spiritual discernment even be possible? If the concept of hope is not an independent reality of our lives, then life itself would not make any sense. In fact, everything would be self-defeating. In order for rational creatures to continue thriving in a peaceful order, they need an ultimate source of fulfillment, which can only be found in the gospel.

          Our purpose in this life is to know, love, and serve God in this world so that we may be with Him eternally in the afterlife. Because of our longing to be in complete unity with God the Father in the heavenly sanctuary, we are able to strive through every sort of dilemma that the world throws at us. By the power of God's sufficient grace, we are able to overthrow the sinful distractions prompted by the devil. We may even defeat the snares of spiritual desolation by learning how to identify its causes, reflecting on past experiences for the sake of learning, and by steadily acting contrary to sources of struggle. 

          But hope is the spiritual soil in which the fruits of Christian self-sacrificing love grow. If we trust in God to care for us daily, then we will not be focused so much on ourselves. Instead of us focusing on our own needs daily, we need to give all of our troubles to God. In that case, we will be enabled to act selflessly because we know that God is ultimately in control of things. Only through our hope in God can we discover our ultimate purpose in life. Only then can we begin to possess hope, and make any sense out of life.

          Wednesday, April 12, 2017

          The Deception Of Universalism

          • Defining The Issues:
                    -Universalism is an apostate doctrinal philosophy which teaches that all people will ultimately be saved. It therefore denies the existence of an eternal hellfire.
                    -Other deceiving titles used to make reference to this doctrine of demons would include ultimate reconciliation, universal salvation, universal restitution, universal restoration, and the doctrine of inclusion.
          • Biblical Refutation Of Universalism: 
                    1.) Scripture passages discussing the nature of hell and fear of final judgment deliver a sound refutation to this heresy. Consider, for example, example of the parable of the sheep and goats (Matthew 25:31-46).
                    2.) A theme throughout the Bible is that sin will ultimately lead up to spiritual death, if not repented of and forgiven by God (Genesis 2:17; Ezekiel 18:1-5; 9; 20-24; Matthew 10:28; 13:49-50; 25:31-46; Mark 9:43-48; Luke 8:10-18; John 3:15-21; 36; Romans 1:18-32; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Ephesians 5:5-7; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Thessalonians 1:8-10; Revelation 20:4-21:5; 22:14-15).
                    3.) Few people are doing God's will, and those who are not remain unsaved (Matthew 7:15-23). The wages of sin is death; eternal life is a gift from God (Romans 6:23).
                    4.) Any different gospel message, which includes that of universalism, is to automatically be condemned (Galatians 1:8-9).
                    5.) While it is true that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, the Kingdom of God was only prepared for the people who love, know, and serve Him in this life (1 Corinthians 2:9; Revelation 20:12-15).
                    6.) If universalism is true, then what would be the purpose of the Final Judgement? How could the Lord Jesus Christ be the only way to salvation, as the New Testament Scriptures abundantly affirm (John 14:6; Acts 4:10-12; 1 Timothy 2:4-6)? If Jesus is not the only way to heaven, then He must be a liar and Christianity is false. Whatever happened to following the "narrow gate" (Matthew 7:13-14)?

          Tuesday, April 11, 2017

          Jesus' Disciples Did Not Hallucinate

          • Defining The Issues:
                    -Opponents of the Christian religion oftentimes attempt to dismiss the biblical resurrection narratives of Jesus Christ by laying the charge that the apostles merely had visions of Him rising from the grave. In other words, atheists and members of different religions object to Jesus' resurrection by stating that the apostles simply had seen hallucinations, rather than actually seeing the body of the risen Christ.
          • Refuting The "Hallucination Theory:"
                    -If "hallucinations" could provide a plausible argument for denying the biblical resurrection accounts, then they could only provide a possible justification for rejecting post-resurrection appearances. If one decides to go with this theory, then how does he or she offer an explanation for the empty tomb, the removal of the huge bolder, and the mysterious disappearance of the dead body?
                    -It would be extremely improbable for several hundred people to experience the same hallucination for a period of forty days, especially at the same time and location (1 Corinthians 15:1-8; Acts 1:3). In fact, most hallucinations are not repetitive in nature or able to converse with people. Neither can one simply accuse the disciples of Jesus Christ of experiencing illusions because these resurrection appearances originated from outside sources, not from within.
                    -How can hallucinations eat or be physically touched (Matthew 28:9; Luke 24:42-43; John 20:27-28)?

          Refuting The Swoon Theory

          • Defining The Issues:
                    -The "Swoon Theory" was originally proposed by opponents of the resurrection during the nineteenth century. It is built off the unproven assumption that the Lord Jesus Christ never really died on a cross, but rather, came near to facing death due to being crucified. This theory is further elaborated on by the postulate that Jesus was simply removed from the cross and that He reappeared after three days to His disciples by escaping from His tomb. The Swoon Theory claims that such an occurrence was made possible as a result of alleged recuperation in the coolness of a tomb for a period of three days. In summary, this theory states that Jesus Christ only appeared to have died on a cross and thus deceived His disciples into believing in His resurrection.
          • The Swoon Theory Has Many Fatal Dilemmas:
                    -Jesus Christ was beaten on the face and mocked during six trials among Jewish and Roman authorities (Matthew 26-27; Luke 23; John 18). He even suffered from thirty-mine lashes on His back.
                    -His scalp was severely torn by the crown of thorns (Matthew 27:29).
                    -Jesus' heart stopped pumping due to nails being driven through His wrists onto a wooden crossbeam, which was raised directly into the air. Not only did Jesus asphyxiate from His chest cavity being filled with liquid, but He also became extremely dehydrated while He was suffering on the cross for our sins. Jesus' side was pierced with a spear (John 19:34-35).
                    -The body of Jesus Christ was tightly encased in linen (John  19:38-42).
                    -Jesus' body would have gone without any sort of medical attention or be given a source of bodily nourishment during the three days of being buried in the tomb.
                      *If He was alive during that period of three days, then He would have had insufficient strength to remove the bulky stone from the cave, to put up a fight with the Roman soldiers, or to even have accomplished both tasks (if any of the two at all).
                    -The Roman guards who were appointed to surround the tomb of the Lord Jesus Christ were very meticulous in their work because if He had successfully escaped the secured tomb, then the Roman government would have executed them for their failure to keep the tomb sealed tightly.

          Monday, April 10, 2017

          Why The Virgin Birth Matters

          • Introduction:
                    -Many of us are familiar with the biblical narrative of the miraculous conception of the Lord Jesus Christ in Mary's womb by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is prophesied in the Old Testament (Isaiah 7:14) and attested to in the New Testament (Matthew 1:18-23; Luke 1:27-36).
                    -Scripture records events which took place within that same time period such as the Angel Gabriel's appearance to Mary, the baby needing to be taken out of Israel due to King Herod wanting to exterminate Him, the visit from shepherds, and the gifts of the Magi (which were gold, frankincense, and myrrh).
          • Acceptance Of The Virgin Birth Is Ultimately A Matter Of Underlying Philosophical Presuppositions:
                    -The doctrine of the virgin birth can be deemed absurd if, and only if, an individual rejects the existence of the supernatural realm. A supreme deity (God) can make anything happen.
          • Did The Apostle Paul Affirm The Virgin Birth?:
                    -It can be argued Paul implicitly believed in the virgin birth on the grounds that he cited Luke 10:7 as Scripture in 1 Timothy 5:18. If he believed the gospel of Luke to be divinely inspired revelation, then that would mean he upheld the virgin birth because that event is recorded in the narrative from which he quoted.
          • Was The Virgin Birth A Later Invention?:
                    -"Some have argued that the Virgin Birth is a later mythical addition since it is mentioned only in two Gospels and is not spoken of by any other New Testament authors. Over a century ago one biblical scholar answered this objection with a very practical observation: If the Virgin Birth was common knowledge among the apostolic community, the New Testament authors "would have abstained from mentioning it for prudential reasons, lest they should expose the mother of our Lord to scandal during her lifetime—such scandals did in fact arise as soon as the virgin birth was declared." Hence the apostles may have kept silent concerning the doctrine until after the death of Mary." (J. Ed Komoszewski, M. James Sawyer, Daniel B. Wallace, Reinventing Jesus: What the Da Vinci Code and Other Novel Speculations Don't Tell You, p. 245)
          • Why The Virgin Birth Is An Essential Article Of The Christian Faith:
                    -The Heavenly "Origin" Of Jesus Christ:
                      *Jesus Christ is eternal (John 1:1-3). He has no beginning or end. If Joseph, Mary's husband, was Jesus Christ's biological father, then He could not possess any divine attributes that Scripture ascribes to Him. He most certainly could not be God, as He oftentimes asserted. If Christ is not God, then He could not save us from the eternal consequences of sin. If He could not atone four our sins, then we could never receive forgiveness from God. And if we cannot be forgiven for sin, then we are destined for eternal condemnation in hell.
                    -The Sinless Nature Of Jesus Christ:
                      * If Jesus had a biological father, then He would in reality be just like everybody else. He would not in any way be different than we are. He would have our same inherent sinful nature that we inherited from Adam (Romans 5). However, the Scriptures enforce the sinlessness of the Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 3:5). If Jesus was the son of Joseph, meaning of his seed, then His sinlessness would simply be a myth.
                    -The Perfect Sacrifice Of Jesus Christ:
                       *If Jesus Christ is not sinless, then it would have been impossible for Him to make the necessary atonement sacrifice for the redemption of mankind. Jesus needed to be sinless for our justification because only a perfect sacrifice for sin will satisfy the wrath of God (Exodus 12:5; Hebrews 10:1-18). Atonement for sin requires a perfect substitute. If He was a sinner like everybody else, then He could not save us from our sins. The purpose of Jesus Christ coming down from heaven to earth was for the redemption of sinners (Galatians 4:4-5). The doctrine of the virgin birth is a fundamental doctrine of Christianity because it directly relates to the salvation of our souls.
                    -The Uniqueness Of Jesus Christ:
                      *Just as nobody is able to resurrect and depart from this world in the manner that Christ did, nobody other than Him can be born in the same manner (without the need of sexual intercourse). He was conceived into Mary's body through the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit. Consequently, the earthly life of Jesus Christ is a miracle in itself.

          Sunday, April 9, 2017

          An Answer For Catholic Nick On How The Bible Defines Righteousness

          • Discussion:
                    -A blogger who goes by the name of Catholic Nick wrote an article on the meaning of the word righteousness as it relates to salvation and the gospel. Following are his remarks alongside with a critique:

                    "The Greek words for "righteous" ("just") and "righteousness" are used a few hundred times in the Bible, so if the Protestant thesis is true, there should be some clear evidence for it. Most of the occurrences uses the terms "righteous" and "righteousness" in passing, so not much can be gleaned from the bulk of the texts. That said, I did not find a single instance where "righteous" or "righteousness" was tied to perfectly keeping the law or commandments. This means that the Protestant definition does not come from the Bible, and rather from traditions of men. Instead, the notion of being righteous, according to Scripture, simply refers to doing good actions (e.g. Mt 6:1; Acts 10:35; Eph 6:1; 1 Th 2:10; 1 Jn 3:7,12) or having an upright quality about your character (e.g. Mt 1:19; Lk 1:6; 1 Tim 1:9; 1 Pt 3:14). Nothing is ever implied about perfect or flawless obedience."

                    It should be emphasized that the idea of "perfect obedience" encompasses both obedience to God's commandments and reflecting His upright character. This obedience is inextricably connected with good character and conduct. If something is good by its very nature, then that means it reflects the goodness of God. There exists no type of goodness that does not reflect God's character. He requires that His creatures represent or embody His righteousness, which is perfect. Any standard lower than that is sin and falls short of God's glory (Ezekiel 18:4; Romans 3:23; 1 John 3:4). The following excerpt contains these insightful comments:

                    "All that He is and all that he does is right and unlike humans, He is righteous in all He says as that is one of His attributes. The Old Testament says that God is righteous. In Psalm 7:11a we read “God is a righteous judge.” The word righteous in the Hebrew is “tsaddiy” which means just, lawful, and correct. The word righteous in the New Testament comes from the Greek word “dikaios” which means observing divine laws or upright, faultless, innocent, and guiltless. These are all descriptive of God Himself and no human has any of these attributes inherent in themselves even though we can do things that are upright and observe the divine laws like the Ten Commandments while not being able to obey them all..."

                    "In Matthew 3:15, Jesus says He is going to "fulfill all righteousness," which Protestants have long pointed to as proof that Jesus came to perfectly keep the law in our place. But the fact is, the text doesn't say this is about perfectly keeping the Law, especially since the term "fulfill" does not mean "keep perfectly". This ties into another Protestant error, which is assuming the phrase "righteousness of God" refers to Jesus' perfect obedience to the Law. But the problem with that is this is referring to the "righteousness of God the Father," and we know the Father didn't have to keep the law perfectly to have this righteousness (Jn 17:25). Instead, this "righteousness of God" refers principally to God's faithfulness, which is why Scripture contrasts it to our unfaithfulness (Rom 3:3-8). So that approach is clearly a dead-end."

                    The simple answer to Nick's argument here is that words have meaning and connotations which are dictated by their respective contexts. This commentary expounds rather eloquently on the text of Matthew 13:17:

                    "Jesus came into the world to identify with men; and to identify with men is to identify with sin. He could not purchase righteousness for mankind if He did not identify with mankind’s sin. Hundreds of years before Christ’s coming, Isaiah had declared that the Messiah “was numbered with the transgressors; yet He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors” (Isa. 53:12). Jesus’ baptism also represented the willing identification of the sinless Son of God with the sinful people He came to save. That was the first act of His ministry, the first step in the redemptive plan that He came to fulfill. He who had no sin took His place among those who had no righteousness. He who was without sin submitted to a baptism for sinners. In this act the Savior of the world took His place among the sinners of the world."

                    "Paul is saying the righteousness that the law gives is a non-saving righteousness (it only gives one earthly blessings like long life, wealth, big family, etc). The righteousness that does save and bring about forgiveness of sins comes from God through faith. This is why Paul can say: "I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness came through the law, then Christ died for no purpose" and "not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God" (Gal 2:21; Phil 3:9; cf Rom 10:5-6). Paul is saying there are two types of righteousness - a saving righteousness and a non-saving righteousness - where as Protestants mistakenly think there is only one type of righteousness. Thus, the door is slammed again in attempting to identify (saving) "righteousness" with perfect/sinless commandment keeping."

                   We can agree with Nick that the Mosaic system was never a means of salvation. We can even  agree with him that it is impossible for us in our fallen condition to obey it perfectly. However, that is precisely why the Law condemns us. We are all sinners in need of a Savior. The Apostle Paul spoke of the true righteousness that originates in Christ in contrast with a law righteousness that is not pleasing in God's sight due to it falling short and resulting in fleshly boasting.

                    It is the righteousness of Christ alone by which we are justified before God. It is only by means of being accepted in Christ that any works that we perform are acceptable to God. A man must first be recognized as a member of God's kingdom. Only then can his works be of any value.

          Catholic Nick's Contorted Reading Of Galatians 3:13

          • Discussion:
                    -Catholic Nick wrote an article where he attempts to show that Galatians 3:13 does not support penal substitutionary atonement, calling that view a Protestant "heresy." Following are a few quotations from the author alongside with a critique:

                    "...the Church Fathers maintained that the 'curse' here was the curse of a humiliating death, and that's where the Biblical data points to also. This is plainly what Deuteronomy 21:22-23 is talking about, a capital punishment for grave sinners. And this makes perfect sense in light of the fact this style of execution took place a few times in the OT (Josh 8:28-29; 10:26-27), and the lesson is that crucifixion is a humiliating way to die. The implication is that anyone who suffers that way must be under God's displeasure. Thus, in short, Jesus 'became a curse' in that He endured a humiliating death by crucifixion. But there's more."

                    The meaning of the "curse" was explained in Genesis 3. It is the wrath of God manifested against those who reject Him. Furthermore, pitting humiliation and penal substitution against each other is a false dilemma because both concepts can exist simultaneously.

                    "Now we can turn back to Galatians 3:13-14 and draw out a few key details. First note that Paul says Jesus "redeemed" us from the curse of the Law, meaning His work functioned as a redemption, a pay-off price, and not a transfer of punishment. This is crucial and not an irrelevant detail. So, reading the grammar properly, Jesus endured the curse of crucifixion, and this functioned as a redemption price that offset/paid the price of another curse, the curse of the Law."

                    This is another false dilemma. Paying off a price and transferring a payment are not mutually exclusive ideas.

                     "Next notice why Jesus redeemed us from the curse of the Law: so that the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles. This indicates that the real problem at hand was that the Law was preventing salvation from reaching the Gentiles, and thus the Law had to be addressed. And thus Christ's death functioned as a way of breaking down the Mosaic Law, and not about some generic taking of the Father's Wrath for mankind's sins."

                     In Galatians 3:10, the Apostle Paul is clearly referring to those who break God's Law. Deuteronomy 27, the context from which Paul quotes in that verse, prescribes the death penalty. In Galatians 3:13, we are told that Jesus Christ saved us from the punishment we deserve as a result of violating the Law by suffering in our place. He is our innocent substitute. He paid off our debt of sin. The text mentions the curse of the Law.

                     "Notice the three-fold theme in each text: redemption, the Mosaic Law being removed, so that adoption can result. Basically, the Mosaic Law (Covenant) was violated by Israel's unfaithfulness, and as a result this was stalling God's plan to fulfill His promise to Abraham, namely that he would be spiritual father of the Jews and Gentiles. Since the Law was violated, it had to be atoned for, and that's what Christ's death accomplished as far as being "under the Law" was concerned."

                     It should be noted that the Law served as a means to make us conscious of our own sin and so lead us to Christ through conviction.

                     "Not to mention, the statute is not saying that a person hung on a tree has the Father pouring out His wrath on their soul, suffering hellfire at that moment. And surely this law was not originally written and understood to mean some day the Messiah would be murdered by Crucifixion by a foreign army. Thus, there is good reason to see Jesus being 'cursed' as sort of unjust curse or anti-curse, since the whole point of this penalty was for the State to condemn truly guilty people, and Jesus should never have had to endure this. And this anti-type lens is further proven by the fact that every time the Apostles publicly preached on the subject of the Crucifixion in Acts, they always made a sharp distinction between Jesus being unjustly killed and hung on a tree by the Jews, versus God's vindication in rescuing and resurrecting Jesus for the injustice (Acts 2:23-24; 3:15; 3:10; 5:30-31; 10:39-40; 13:28-30)."

                     First of all, it should be noted that the idea of Jesus Christ being punished in hell is outright heretical. That is by no means a requirement for believing in Sola Fide. Everything Christ did was righteous. Moreover, God using human beings as instruments to bring about our redemption does not rule out penal substitution. The crucifixion of Christ was indeed a part of God's plan for us (Romans 11:25-32).

          Saturday, April 8, 2017

          Does The Bible Permit Women To Be Pastors?

          • Defining The Issues: 
                     -For decades, churches have been divided over the issue of the functions of women in ministry. In other words, there are varying points of view as to whether Scripture permits woman to serve in ordained, authoritative positions of the church or not. For example, some congregations have all male deacons while others allow for deaconesses. Therefore, the specific purpose of this article is to provide a biblical answer to this important question. Although Christians will not be disqualified by God from going to heaven because of attending a church with female pastors, they should either be on guard for heretical ideas or completely separate themselves from that congregation to find a different one because an entrance for liberal theology has been created. Having female pastors in a church is a sign of poor spiritual health because adhering to such a pattern of ministers violates the pattern of ministers presented within the pages of the New Testament. The truth of the matter is that ordained pastors are supposed to be men.
          • Husband Of One Wife: 
                    -The New Testament Scriptures plainly tell us that appointed ministers of the church are to be the husband of a wife (1 Timothy 3:1-13; 5:1; Titus 1:5-9). These passages discuss other characteristics of appointed men such as not being alcoholics, greedy, selfish, foul-mouthed, and being responsible. In summary, Scripture gives us a comprehensive list of stipulations for men who desire to take on the obligations of a bishop or deacon. We are told what morals these individuals must uphold and how they must conduct themselves in order to obtain and maintain being a spiritual leader of the local congregation. These men are to set the primary example of holiness for other members to see. However, we have no Scripture passages offering any sort of descriptions of or necessary qualifications for any female ministers. We know that these passages address men because they read, "the husband of one wife." Scripture affirms heterosexual marriage. These passages are silent about female bishops, elders, or pastors (these terms have a synonymous meaning in biblical usage).
          • The Apostle Paul Forbade Women From Possessing Authority Over Adult Men In The Church (1 Corinthians 14:33-35; 1 Timothy 2:10-15):
                    -The church authority structure pointedly rules out women from exercising spiritual authority over men. This scriptural principle does not in any way pertain to the political, social, or economic categories of the secular sphere, but to the context of church leadership. Male leadership in the church is grounded on the order in the creation of human beings and how sin entered the world, as recorded within the Book of Genesis. The reasons for woman not being allowed to be ordained ministers in church are that 1.) Adam was created first and 2.) Eve was deceived by Satan. Adam is the federal representative of mankind. Therefore, all humanity falls in Adam (Romans 5). The grounding in creation gives Paul's reasoning a universal application. He affirms that what he is writing is the "Lord's commandment" (1 Corinthians 14:37). When the apostle says that women should remain silent in churches, he means they should not be interruptive but peaceful and orderly. If he advocated for silence of women at all times, then he would be contradicting himself as he mentioned them praying and prophesying in the church (1 Corinthians 11:5).
          • Woman Do Have Dignity And Purpose:
                    -Generally speaking, women excel in areas pertaining to hospitality, instruction, and support. They are not restricted from occupying gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12). Women are neither forbidden from educating children nor from exhorting other women to remain in the truth (Titus 2:3-4). They, just like men, have been called to demonstrate the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), contend for the faith (1 Peter 3:15), and to proclaim the Gospel of Salvation to the lost world (Matthew 28:18-20). Women are not inferior to men. Men and women are equal in essence, being created in the image and likeness of God. It is just that men and women have different purposes at home and in the church. Some women were direct witnesses to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, even when most of the other disciples went into hiding (Matthew 27:55; John 19:25). Moreover, the Apostle Paul acknowledged individual women for their work in ministry and even addressed some as "co-workers" (Romans 16:1; 6-7; Colossians 4:15; Philippians 4:2-3). Scripture is not in any way sexist, biased in favor of one specific gender over the other. The accomplishments of women ought to be acknowledged accordingly.

          Friday, April 7, 2017

          Do We Need The Catholic Church In Order To Recognize The Canon Of Scripture?

          • Defining The Issues:
                    -Roman Catholic apologists commonly argue that we absolutely must embrace the allegedly infallible Traditions of their Church in order to know with certainty the correct books that belong in the Bible. In other words, they argue against Sola Scriptura by claiming that without the Roman Catholic Church's supposedly infallible declarations regarding the canon of Scripture, we Protestants would have no certainty of which books belong in the Bible. In summary, the claim to possessing "infallible certainty" in all doctrinal matters is just another one of Rome's arrogant, circular claims to exalt itself above the authority of the written Word of God. In the end, however Roman Catholic claims to authority are self-defeating because our fallibility at some point has to come in contact with the Church's alleged infallibility.
          • Objection: "The Bible does not contain an inspired table of contents. So how do you know which person wrote which books(s) of the Bible? How do you know that Matthew wrote Matthew?":
                    -This argument misrepresents the doctrine of Sola Scriptura. It does not teach that everything is written in the Bible. In other words, Sola Scriptura does not mean that the Bible provides us with an exhaustive list on anything. Rather, it gives us everything that we need to know regarding salvation and godliness. Every necessary thing that we need to know about the faith recorded in the Scriptures.
                    -How do Roman Catholics know which oral traditions are inspired? Do they have an inspired table of contents identifying which specific oral traditions that we are supposed to heed to?
                    -Canonical writings such as Job and Hebrews have unknown authors, yet the Church of Rome has never identified who wrote those books. If "not knowing the author" automatically means a denial of the inspiration of a religious text, then would Roman Catholics be willing to reject the inspiration of such books of the Bible, since their authors are unknown?
                    -We can and must be dependent on outside sources of information in order to gather information regarding the canon of Scripture. No figure from the early church can directly tell us which books of the New Testament are canonical because they are now deceased. So we must resort to the extant extra-biblical writings of the early church. We must draw some of our conclusions from the early church fathers.
          • Objection: "Who determined the canon of Scripture?":
                    -How did the Jewish people, who lived prior to the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, know how to identify inspired Old Testament books such as 2 Chronicles and Isaiah? How did the Jews know that such books were inspired, without the assistance of a divinely appointed, infallible hierarchy? How come God did not simply give His chosen nation an inspired table of contents specifically identifying which Old Testament books were inspired?
                     *The Roman Catholic Magisterium could not have identified the inspired books of the Old Testament for the Jews because it did not exist before the birth of Christ.
                     *There is no historical evidence pointing to any sort of belief in the infallibility of the Jewish religious leaders. In fact, Jesus Christ rebuked the Scribes and Pharisees for doctrinal errors (Matthew 15; Mark 7).
          • Is There Any Need For Infallible Certainty On The Books Of The Bible, As Roman Catholic Apologists Claim?:
                   -If infallible certainty of the canon is a really big deal, then why did it take the Roman Catholic Church over 1,500 years to finally settle the issue at the Council of Trent? Why would a supposedly infallible organization need to wait so long to give its members infallible certainty on the canon of Scripture?
                     *“According to Catholic doctrine, the proximate criterion of the Biblical canon is the infallible decision of the Church. This decision was not given until rather late in the history of the Church (at the Council of Trent). Before that time there was some doubt about the canonicity of certain Biblical books, i.e., about their belonging to the canon.” (The New Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 3, page 29, Copyright 1967; Under “Canon, Biblical”)
                     *“The Tridentine decrees from which the above list is extracted was the first infallible and effectually promulgated pronouncement on the Canon, addressed to the Church Universal.” (New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia, under the category titled "Canon of The Old Testament)

          Thursday, April 6, 2017

          Five Reasons To Believe In The Resurrection

                  It is a known historical fact that Jesus Christ was crucified on a cross. The Jewish authorities and the Roman executioners would have known with certainty if He was plotting to escape or was playing head games to deceive them. This fact alone provides us with the foundational grounds to embrace the biblical story of the resurrection.

                  We have biblical testimony of the resurrection from female disciples. This is significant because the Greco-Roman world viewed woman as having a lower social status and thus considered less credible in presenting testimonials. This made the male disciples of Jesus Christ look foolish.

                  The New Testament tells us that there were several hundred direct eye-witnesses to the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. Surely, at least a handful of the people would have been conscious enough to expose the story as being a complete fraud, if it was one in reality. Note how much impact that witnesses have in trials which are held in court systems.

                  Another evidence for the resurrection is the incredible life transformation of the disciples of Jesus Christ. The Bible records the disciples as being cowards who did not want to suffer any persecution to later becoming bold speakers who were even willing to die for the gospel. Why would somebody die for something that he or she knows is a lie?

                  The empty tomb of Jesus Christ is a powerful proof of His resurrection because the Roman and Jewish authorities failed to produce a corpse, which would have permanently terminated the Christian Movement. All that the authoritative figures on the enemy side of the church had to do was to produce a corpse. However, they were incapable of producing the dead body of Jesus because they did not have it. Moreover, the tomb was tightly secured with a huge rock blocking the entrance and was constantly guarded by Roman soldiers, which would have made it virtually impossible for Jesus Christ to escape. Thus, we have clear evidence for His resurrection.

          Wednesday, April 5, 2017

          Water Baptism According To The Bible

          • Defining The Purpose Of Water Baptism:
                    -The purpose of baptism is to make a public profession of faith and discipleship. In other words, water baptism is the sign of dedication to serving Christ. It is symbolic for the Lord's burial, death, and resurrection (Romans 6:3-5). In this ritual, we are identifying ourselves with our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, which also means that we already had faith in Him. People who got baptized were putting their very livelihood, every cherished thing, at stake in serving Jesus Christ. In getting baptized, one places Him above all else in this life. This is the reason for baptism being so closely associated with salvation in the New Testament. It is evidence of a heart having been regenerated by the Spirit of God. Baptism is not a mere formality. It serves as a reminder of our new identity in Jesus Christ. It is a picture of our salvation. We ought to reflect on our baptism with the intent of building up our faith.
          • Infant Baptism:
                    -The Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and various Protestant churches advocate the practice of baptizing babies. Many professing Christians baptize infants because they believe that the ritual itself removes the stain of original sin.
                     *There is no command or example of infant baptism found in the Bible.
                     *Babies cannot be baptized because they are unable to believe in the gospel for salvation and repent (Mark 1:15; 16:15-16; Acts 2:37-41; 8:12; 36-37; 16:14-15; 30-33; 18:8).
          • Baptismal Regeneration:
                    -Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and various sects within Protestantism maintain that people must be baptized in order to get saved. They believe this because they uphold the false belief that baptism removes original sin.
                     *Jesus Christ did not baptize anybody (John 4:2). If baptism was essential for salvation, then baptizing people would have been His top priority.
                     *The concept of baptism is not mentioned in several Scripture passages regarding how one is justified before God (John 1:12; 5:24; 20:30-31; Romans 1:16-17; 3:20-28; 4:2-8; 5:1; 10:9-13; 1 Corinthians 1:21; Galatians 2:16; 21; 3:1-3; 5:4-5; Ephesians 2:4-9; 2 Timothy 1:9; 3:15; Titus 3:5). Scripture is abundantly clear that justification is by faith apart from the merit of all works. They have no bearing on our justification before God. To add baptism (or any other ritual) as an additional stipulation to believing on Jesus Christ for salvation is equivalent to saying that we must be circumcised to get saved. Thus, the "baptismal regeneration" teaching falls into the same category as the Judaizing heresy (Acts 15:1; 23-24).
                     *Baptism is the New Testament parallel (though not its equivalent) to circumcision in the Old Testament (Colossians 2:11-12). But circumcision did not save anyone (Romans 4:9-12), even though it was commanded by God (Genesis 17:10-14). This also indicates that we are not saved by water baptism. We are not saved by these rituals because they are works.
                     *We even have biblical examples of people who were justified before they were baptized in water: 1.) the Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:35-38); 2.) the Apostle Paul (Acts 9:17-18); 3.) Cornelius (Acts 10:42-48); 4.) The Philippian jailer and his family (Acts 16:25-33). Having heard the message of the gospel, these people had received the Spirit of God prior to getting baptized. They placed their trust in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
          • Baptism By Sprinkling Water:
                    -The Roman Catholic Church, along with Protestant churches, baptize by sprinkling a little water on people, rather than fully immersing converts into water.
                     *The Greek word for baptism ("baptismo") literally means immersion. There are separate words in the Greek language for sprinkling, pouring, and immersion. But only the Greek word for immersion is used for baptism in the New Testament (although there may be rare situations in which baptism by sprinkling water may be permissible).
                     *The New Testament describes the ceremony of baptism as being a "burial" into water (Mark 1:5; 9-10; John 3:23; Romans 6:3-5).

            Tuesday, April 4, 2017

            The Philosophical Incoherence Of The Islamic God

            “In Islam, there is no fatherhood of God and no purpose of redemption to soften the doctrine of the decrees.” Samuel Zwemer, The Moslem Doctrine of God, page 100. (see link to Zwemer’s book)

            * by “decrees”, Zwemer is meaning Allah’s decrees of Sovereignty and Predestination ( قدر – Qadr = power, sovereignty; جبر – Jabr = force, destiny ) in that Allah causes some to be guided to the true path and paradise and the rest to be guided to hell.

            * there is “no purpose of redemption” in Islam – This is why Muslims see no need for the atonement and so in Islam, there is no purpose in God redeeming some from all nations (Rev. 5:9) by His own grace in the incarnation and work on the cross for His own glory. So Muslims don’t see the need for atonement or redemption or the incarnation, because they don’t see that people are sinners by nature and cannot earn their salvation by doing good deeds. They think they can earn paradise by believing in the doctrines of Islam and by doing good deeds.

            ” The attribute of love is absent from Allah.” Zwemer, ibid, p. 100

            Here he means that there is nothing in Islam or the Qur’an like there is in the Bible that God’s nature is love – as in 1 John 4:8-19 – “God is love.”

            The Qur’an says “Allah is loving or friendly” or “congenial”. = wadood ودود (other native Arabic speakers have told me that is the difference between wadood – ودود and Mohabbat محبت / محبه . Wadood is more like “friendly” whereas Mohabbat conveys the Greek word “agape”. One of the 99 names of Allah is “wodood” ودود , but not “Mohabat” محبت / محبه or “hobb” حب in essence. The Qur’an says “Allah does not love sinners”, but only loves those who love Allah first. They don’t have anything like Romans 5:8 – “God demonstrates His love toward us even while we were still sinners, that Christ died for us.” Allah is compassionate ( رحمان = Rahmon) (the one who does actions of compassion) and merciful (رحیم = Rahim ) (the one who does actions of mercy); but the Islamic theologicans have debated for centuries over if one can say “Allah is . . . ” It seems that many Muslims theologians have even said, “We cannot say “Allah is ….. (something)”; ” we cannot say what Allah’s nature/substance ( ذات = dhat / zat ) or essence ( جوهر = johar) is.

            “The mystic love of the Sufis (widespread and weighty though it be in its influence) is not a characteristic of orthodox Islam, but arose in rebellion to it.

            The Fatherhood of God and the repeated declarations of Scripture that God loves the world, loves the sinner, loves mankind – that God is love – all this has had its influence on Christian speculation regarding the problem of God’s decrees. In like manner the character of Allah has been the key to the same problem among Moslems. Islam, as we have seen, reduces God to the category of the will. He is at heart a despot, an Oriental despot. He stands at abysmal heights above humanity. He cares nothing for character, but only for submission. The only affair of men is to obey His decrees.

            2. The Moslem doctrine of hell is in accordance with their coarse beliefs regarding Predestination and Mohammed’s utter want of conception of the spiritual. According to the Koran and Tradition, Hell must be filled, and so God creates infidels.2 Of all religions in the world, Islam is the most severe in its conception of the capacity and the torments of hell. “On that day We will say to hell, Art thou full? and it will say, Are there any more?” (Surah 50:30.) The conception of hell is brutal, cruel and to the last degree barbarous. The whole picture, as given in the Koran and commented on by Tradition, is horribly revolting. “Hell shall be a place of snares, the home of transgressors, to abide therein for ages. No coolness shall they taste nor any drink, save boiling water and liquid pus. Meet recompense!” (Surahs 88:1-7; 2:38; 3:197; 14:20, 43:71-78, etc., etc.) The word Jehannum [ جهنم ] occurs thirty times; fire (nar= نار ) – is still more frequently used; there are six other words used for the place of torment. One cannot read the traditions which give what Mohammed said on this subject without feeling how heartless and loveless is the creed of Islam. Yet it is in connection with such ideas of God that the Moslems believe in Predestination.

            It is not difficult to surmise whence Mohammed got his ideas of a Predestination after the pattern of fatalism.” (Zwemer, The Moslem Doctrine of God, p. 102-103; with my comments in brackets)

            —————

            1Theol. Studien, 14 Jahrgang, p. 240.

            2 Surahs 32:13; 97:5; 4:11; 9:69. Cf. Commentaries.

            Muslims as people have great capacities for loving each other and others, and their culture of hospitality is really great, but this is because they are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-28) and they retain those good qualities because of that. But the doctrines and the religion itself, with its principles of controlling external society in Sharia, the Khaliphate (historically up until 1924; and the desire for the restoration of the Khalifate), Jihad with Qatal (fighting, killing, slaying) and Harb (war) (struggle against the unbelievers and commands to fight and kill the Christians and Jews (Surah 9:5; 9:29; 8:39), Dhimmitude (subjugation of Christians and Jews and not allowing freedom for evangelism and debate and disagreement); no assurance of salvation, and fatalism, and laws of apostasy (death for Muslims who turn from Islam), result in a harsh life and seem to be the reasons for the lack of freedom and harshness and war and violence in Islamic history, and we are seeing the results of this today in many places all over the world.

            https://apologeticsandagape.wordpress.com/2013/09/23/the-result-of-a-man-made-religion-with-no-love-no-atonement-no-concept-of-the-fatherhood-of-god/

            Monday, April 3, 2017

            Justification By Faith Alone And The Old Testament

            • Introduction:
                      -Contrary to what some might believe or might expect, the Jews were never saved by keeping the Law and performing animal sacrifices. In other words, the basis of justification before God has always been by the grace of God through trust in Him, even prior to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price" (Isaiah 55:1). "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away" (Isaiah 64:6). Justification has always been completely dependent on God; not man himself.
                      -It would be very inconsistent to uphold the view that justification during the Old Covenant was on the basis of keeping the Law and that the basis of salvation in the New Testament is by the grace of God apart from the merit of all works, since both Testaments proclaim the message of mankind's universal depravity (1 Kings 8:46; Psalm 14; Romans 3:9-23). If we had to earn a right standing before God by performing good deeds, then nobody on earth would be going to heaven because God requires perfect obedience to the Law (Deuteronomy 27:26; Galatians 3:10; James 2:10). There is no transition of justification by works to grace through faith recorded in the Scriptures.
            • The Example Of Abraham:
                      -In Genesis chapters 12 and 15, Abraham believed God according to the promises and new revelation pertaining to the message of the gospel (descendants as numerous as the stars). This man's FAITH was the instrument of his justification before God (Genesis 15:6). But how could Abraham be justified by keeping the Law when he lived approximately 500 years before it was given to the Jews?
            • Abraham And King David In Romans Chapter Four:
                      -In his epistle to the Romans, the Apostle Paul uses Abraham and David as examples of people who were saved by faith in God apart from the merit of works (Romans 4:2-8). The Old Testament also tells us that the just shall live by faith (Habakkuk 2:4), which is a theme echoed in the New Testament Scriptures (Romans 1:16-17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38). We are all justified in the same manner: by the grace of God through faith in His work. It is not by works of righteousness that we have done.
            • Abraham And Galatians Chapter Three:
                      -Galatians chapter three also occupies Abraham as an example of justification apart from the merit of works.
            • The Purpose Of The Mosaic Law Was Never To Save Anyone:
                      -Although the Law functioned as the blueprint for the overall function of Israel, its designated purpose was never to save anyone (Acts 13:38-39; Romans 3:20). It was to make us conscious of our sinful nature (Galatians 3:22-26; Romans 10:4). The Law points us to Christ. The Law is a direct reflection of God's divine character. If the Law was meant to serve as the means of our salvation from sin, then the entire Nation of Israel would have suffered eternal condemnation because it repeatedly fell into a state of rebellion against God! The Law was "weak" because of man's sinful nature (Romans 8:3).
            • What About The Animal Sacrifices Performed In The Old Testament?:
                      -The Old Testament sacrificial system never really took away sin, for the priests who performed the sacrifices were in themselves finite beings who could only perform finite sacrifices for something (sin) that required an infinite payment (Hebrews 10:10-18). In other words, the animal sacrifices were only temporary "coverings" for sin. These multiple sacrifices prefigured the once-for-all sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ (Hebrews 10:1). He is the fulfillment of the Old Covenant (Matthew 5:17-18).
            • The Gospel And The Old Testament:
                      -Right after the fall of Adam and Eve, we see the promise of a coming Savior (Genesis 3:15). In fact, the Old Testament describes this Person in many different ways. Examples would include "Ruler" (Micah 5:2), "Counselor" (Isaiah 9:6), "Suffering Servant" (Isaiah 53), and "THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS" (Jeremiah 23:6).
                      -The Old Testament contains the basic message of the gospel: "And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed" (Galatians 3:8-9).
                      -Old Testament saints knew about the coming of a promised Redeemer (Job 19:25). They were saved in the same way as we are today: by grace through faith in God.
            • Progressive Revelation:
                      -This is the teaching that God did not reveal His entire salvation plan to mankind at one specific point in time. In other words, the clarity concerning God's plan of salvation increased as more scriptural revelation was being produced (Psalm 78:1-4; Romans 16:25-26; 1 Corinthians 2:7-8; Hebrews 1:1-2; 1 Peter 1:10-12; Ephesians 3:1-6).
                      -Examples of progressive revelation would include the Trinity and the acceptance of the Gentiles into the gospel.
                      -Both Testaments are equally inspired and important (Psalm 119:89; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; 1 Peter 1:23-25). The clarity of God's will increased over time as more Scripture was written.
                      -The requirement for salvation has always been trusting in God. Jesus Christ has always been the object of salvation.
                      -Groups such as the Mormons (Book of Mormon, etc.), Jehovah's Witnesses (Watchtower Society Magazine Publications), Seventh-Day Adventists (Prophet Ellen G. White), and various Oneness Pentecostal churches (occasions of speaking in tongues) hold to a perverted concept of progressive revelation. These groups continually add their own "revelations" to the Bible.