Saturday, February 18, 2017

God's Gift Of Free Will

  • "And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." (Joshua 24:15)

  • This text of Scripture is very plain. Who will you serve: God the Creator or the idols who can do nothing for you?

Amazing Grace Song

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.
  1. ’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
    And grace my fears relieved;
    How precious did that grace appear
    The hour I first believed.
  2. Through many dangers, toils and snares,
    I have already come;
    ’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
    And grace will lead me home.
  3. The Lord has promised good to me,
    His Word my hope secures;
    He will my Shield and Portion be,
    As long as life endures.
  4. Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
    And mortal life shall cease,
    I shall possess, within the veil,
    A life of joy and peace.
  5. The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
    The sun forbear to shine;
    But God, who called me here below,
    Will be forever mine.
  6. When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
    Bright shining as the sun,
    We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
    Than when we’d first begun.

Did The Roman Catholic Church Give Us The Bible?

  • The Problem:
             -The Church of Rome argues that if we did not have its "divinely inspired" oral traditions, we would not have the canon of Scripture. This claim is obviously one of the Church's attempts to exalt itself as an infallible authority in addition to the Bible.
              -It is claimed that the canon issue was settled at the Council of Hippo (393 AD) and the Council of Carthage (397 AD). Then, it was supposedly reaffirmed at the Council of Trent (1546 AD). As a result of this major accomplishment, the entire world is indebted to the Roman Catholic Church and is therefore obligated to give complete submission to her claims to infallible authority.

  • A Circular Appeal?:
             -When Roman Catholics claim that we can only accept the Bible on the basis of their "infallible" church councils assembling the canon of Scripture, they are guilty of using circular reasoning. We cannot blindly accept the books of the Bible only on the basis that the Roman Catholic Church says so. How can we even know if the Church's claims to infallibility are true or not?
           -The "we gave you the Bible" argument is simply another classic deviation of the following standard Catholic logic: "The Bible and Tradition are true because the infallible Church defined them as such. The Roman Catholic Church is true because the Bible and Tradition told us so."
          -The ultimate argument offered by Rome is that we must accept the canon of Scripture only on the basis that she says so.

  • Written By Roman Catholics?:
                -Romanism cannot claim to have written the Old Testament Scriptures because they were written by the Jews hundreds of years prior to the existence of this earthly organization. Neither can the Catholics claim to have produced the New Testament Scriptures, since these writings were authored by God through the apostles and their closest associates, who knew nothing about the uniquely Catholic teachings existing today. The claims that the first century Christians were Roman Catholics and that Roman Catholicism gave the world the canon of Scripture as we have it today is refuted by the fact that the Church of Rome upholds many doctrines that repeatedly contradict the Book that it claims to have established.
  • The Councils Of Hippo And Carthage Were Local Synods, Not Ecumenical: 
                  -The Councils of Hippo and Carthage were only provincial, that means, their rulings were not binding or irrevocable. They were nether authoritative on the entire church nor were they able to finally settle any issues occurring in the church during that specific time. This is very problematic for Roman Catholics because of their absolute dependence on "infallible certainty". How do they even know that the Pope and the Catholic Church are infallible, anyway?
  • The Scriptures Were Always Available To The Christian Church:
                 -The Apostle Peter recognized the Apostle Paul's writings and equated them with "the other Scriptures" (2 Peter 3:15-16). Furthermore, Jesus referred to the three-part division of the Jewish canon ("the Law of Moses...the prophets...the Psalms..." Luke 24:44). We can even infer that some individuals had Scriptures which were carried with them (i.e. Acts 8:27-36).
                -The Scriptures were read in the synagogues and churches (Luke 4:16-20; Acts 15:21; 17:1-2; 10-12; 1 Timothy 4:13) and were meant to be read by all (1 Corinthians 1:2; Ephesians 1:1; Revelation 1:3).
                -The Scriptures were being circulated to other churches even as the apostles lived (Colossians 4:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:27; Revelation 1:10-11).                                              
                 -The whole New Testament could be duplicated by the early church writings prior to the Council of Nicea which took place in 325 AD.

  • Historical Truth:
                  -The truth of the matter is that the canon of Scripture has been settled since the first century. In other words, there has always been a general consensus on the books that were later assembled into one volume, that is, the Bible as we have it today. Though a few of the canonical writings were called into question on the issue of divine or prophetic origin, they were still accepted as God-breathed by the vast majority back in the day. The issue was settled by examining the internal consistency of the documents with the other Scriptures and by appealing to outside traditions (none of which are infallible). The early church directly examined the source documents. While church councils may have helped to crystallize the already established collection of Scriptures, merely clearing up some doubts or confusion is not the same as determining whether a particular writing is inspired or not. 
  • Recognizing something (for example, the canon of Scripture) is not the same as being responsible for its existence:
                     -The Christian Church simply recognized and accepted the canon of Scripture for what it continues to be: the Word of God. It did not establish it, for God never gave any church councils the authority to determine which of His sacred books are inspired. The early Christians identified the inspired writings and affirmed them as such. In other words, the church found the books that were already authentic. It recognizes or discovers what is divinely inspired by God through external evidence which gives credit to manuscript reliability. The early church heeded to the voice of Christ, which means, His followers hear His voice and will thus follow Him (John 10:27). The Bible does not owe its existence to the Church of Rome any more than gravity owes its existence to Sir Isaac Newton.
  • Is Church Infallibility Necessary For The Church To Function Properly?:
                   -How can the Catholic Church claim to have given us the Bible when the Old Testament canon was settled prior to its existence? How did the Jews correctly assemble the Old Testament Scriptures? Just as the Jews recognized the Old Testament Scriptures without an infallible organization, the same is true with the early Christians and the New Testament Scriptures. God used fallible prophets to produce infallible Scriptures. He expects us fallible beings to make correct decisions in all aspects of life. This is simply how the world works. Therefore, an infallible church government is totally unnecessary for the right establishment of the canon of Scripture, along with daily gospel preaching, edification of the the faith, exhortation to maintain the correct doctrines, and overall worship.
  • Compulsory Submission Follows?:
                   -God can use anybody or anything as an instrument to complete His work. In other words, He can even use an evil individual or organization to accomplish His designated mission, and He certainly has done so before. Of course, we would not supposed to submit to figures who do not act in accordance with His divine will and salvation plan. Even if the Roman Catholic Church did indeed take the responsibility of assembling the canon at any period in history (which it clearly never did), this does not mean that we should follow the bishop of Rome. The Church's claim to have given us the Bible cannot be proven because it has not been the sole possessor of the Bible at any point in time. Furthermore, Roman Catholicism is not even faithful to the written Word of God on many doctrinal issues. 

Is Atheism Another Religion?

  • Although atheists attempt to remain separated from all world "religions", they have indeed established their own unique belief system. One has to wonder, "Is atheism just another religion?" This paper will demonstrate how this question turns into an interesting objection to such ideology.
  • In atheism, humans become their own god. They get to determine the principles of morality, which also includes that which is evil. People are in charge of how life should function. This type of mindset would eventually lead up to self-justification after the commitment of  a crime. In fact, there would really be no purpose for a court system, police officers, or even jail cells. Furthermore, we must ask, "What if people came across others who held radically different perspectives on significant issues such as when governments should be declaring wars on other countries or what constitutes human rights?" These major differences of opinion do exist. They are certainly not diminutive in nature. Without the existence of a god, life on earth could not thrive. Everything on earth would become so unbalanced that life would eventually collapse. Nobody is infallible. Does atheism really make any sense?  

Loving One's Neighbor

We all have the tendency to act selfishly toward others. In our world today, people are constantly thinking of themselves and fail to recognize that it is not rational for them to behave in such a manner. If we can support ourselves and focus on our own desires, then what barrier is preventing us from doing the same with everybody else? If we can love ourselves, then we can certainly love other people. We can provide assistance to others on the basis of love for all. Why would God create us if our purpose was to live in the dungeon of sin? Jesus Christ repeatedly commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Our purpose in life is to know, love, and serve God in this world so that we can be with Him in heaven eternally.

We learn more about God when we love our neighbors as ourselves. His Son gave Himself up on a cross for our sake so that we could be with our Father eternally in heaven. We as followers of God can give ourselves up by spreading the Gospel of Grace and by helping others see beyond the self-serving scope which is created by the lenses on the glasses of sin. We know God through His work. We can see t hings clearly when we put on the glasses of godliness. He expects us to make moral decisions. What is the right decision in life? The proper decision is to demonstrate our knowledge of God's will by loving our neighbor. We can do kind deeds for others such as raking lawns for the elderly, giving food and money to the poor, and forgiving the wrongful actions committed by others.

We learn to love the Father by loving our neighbors. If we do not love our neighbors, then we do not love God. Jesus said,"If you love Me, you will keep my commandments" (John 14:15). We are all God's creations regardless of our race, gender, or religion. Lift itself has infinite intrinsic value. We should give everyone else equal treatment and respect. Setting a good example for others helps them become better people. God judges all equally. We should mimic the ways of God. We should love our neighbors as we would love ourselves by acting in an unbiased manner and by making the right decisions in every corner of life.

We serve the Creator when we love our neighbors as we love ourselves. When we serve others, we are fulfilling His message of doing good for others. When we feed the hungry, we are serving God. When we cloth the naked and visit the prisoners, we are serving God.When we do any form of charity, we are serving the Father.

We live in a world that has become selfish. This is totally contrary to what God has commanded us when He instructed us to "love our neighbors as ourselves". If we can help and love ourselves, then we can certainly do the same with everybody else. We are fully capable of doing great works for other people. We are to learn more about God, love Him, and serve Him in this world so that we can be saved by the work of His Son, Jesus Christ.

A Reason To Believe

  • It is indeed sad that the great majority of the Jewish population deny that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, let alone a believe in the existence of God. All religions to the exclusion of biblical Christianity ignore this quint-essential Truth. But there is solid reason to accept Jesus as the Savior of the human race, which is the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies in the New Testament by Him. These miraculous events cannot be mere coincidences because of their  high frequency and by the fact that the futuristic prophecies were recorded hundreds or even thousands of years prior to Christ's birth. Furthermore, we should be inclined to ask, "Why would the apostles and hundreds of other direct eye-witnesses of the Lord Jesus be willing to suffer martyrdom for their beliefs if they knew that such was a hoax?" 

  • Fulfilled Old Testament Prophecies Confirm That Jesus Is The Messiah:
             -Born of a virgin (Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 7:14)---Matthew 1:18-23
             -From the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10)---Luke 3:23-33
             -Heir to David's throne (2 Samuel 7:8-11; 16)---Luke 1:30-33
             -Born to us (Isaiah 9:6-7)---Luke 2:11
             -Announced by a star (Numbers 24:17)---Matthew 2:1-11
             -Triumphant coming on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9)---Matthew 21:1-11
             -Betrayed by a disciple ( Psalm 41:9)---John 13:18-27; 18:2-5
             -Sold for thirty pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12-13)---Matthew 26:15; 27:3-7
             -Punished for our sins (Isaiah 53:4-6)---1 Peter 2:24-25
             -Sacrificed like a spotless lamb (Exodus 12:1-13; Isaiah 53:7)---John 1:29; 1 Corinthians 5:7
             -Lifted up on a cross to give life (Numbers 21:8-9)---John 3:14-16
             -Pierced in hands and feet (Psalm 22:16-18)---John 20:24-27
             -Given gull and vinegar (Psalm 69:21)---Matthew 27:34; 48
             -Mocked and insulted (Psalm 22:6-8)---Matthew 27:39-43
             -Rejected by God (Psalm 22:1)---Mark 15:33-34
             -Raised from the dead (Psalm 16:10; Isaiah 53:10-12)---Matthew 28:1-9; Acts 2:24-27
             -Ascended into heaven (Psalm 68:18)---Acts 1:1-11

Great Sermons

"Pillar And Ground of The Truth"

  • Scripture Passage In Question:
         -"These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly; but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." (1 Timothy 3:14-15)
  • Problem:
         -Members of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches attempt to refute Sola Scriptura by interpreting the phrase "...the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth..." to mean that the church has been given the authority to originate or develop truth in divine matters. On the contrary, such an idea is simply absent from the context.
  • Response:
         -The church that supports and upholds the truth is distinguished from the truth that she upholds. That "truth" is the gospel message that is contained within Scripture (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). God's Word is the "truth"  (Psalm 119:160; John 14:14-17). God's church is merely the instrument in which the true gospel is supported, defended, and announced. 
         -If the "church" is the source of truth, as the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox defenders claim, then which one is that "truth" when they contradict each other?
         -1 Timothy 3:14-15 actually supports the concept of Sola Scriptura. The Apostle Paul says that he is writing so that we may know how to conduct ourselves in the church. Furthermore, notice that he appeals to his own writing as the standard of authority. Paul is writing to Timothy and the church (Scripture) so that they would know how to behave in the household of God. In other words, the purpose of this letter was (and still is) to tell the church how to behave in his absence. "She" is therefore obligated to submit to the Scriptures.

Addressing The Unbiblical Clergy And Laity Distinction

  • Professing Christian groups such as the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Lutheran churches divide their members into two separate categories known as the "clergy" (ordained ministers) and "laity" (ordinary people). However, the New Testament makes no mention of dividing Christians into two different classes, that is, the minister and layman. 
  • Jesus Christ Himself admonished against the use of religious titles that would case divisions among Christians (Matthew 23:5-12).
  • Many Scripture passages emphasize the brotherhood of the disciples of Christ and humility required of every Christian as they occupy their spiritual blessing or vocations to enrich the health of the church (i.e. 1 Corinthians 12-14; Romans 12; much of Ephesians). Furthermore, all believers are "priests" according to the New Covenant (1 Peter 2:4-9; Revelation 1:5-6; 5:10). 
  • Jesus instructed us to not be like the rulers of the world (Matthew 20:25-27; Mark 10:42-45; Luke 22:24-26). This would also condemn lording it over God's heritage (1 Peter 5:1-5).

Religious Titles Of Honor

  •  Roman Catholics and certain Protestant denominations call their priests "Father" as a religious title of respect. Furthermore, the Pope holds the title "Holy Father".
  • Not only did Jesus Christ forbid the use of the title "Father", but He also condemned the entire concept of  religious titles of honor:
    "8 But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10 And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. 11 But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." (Matthew 23:-8-12)
  • The context of this passage is about the arrogance of religious elitism and forbids the use of religious titles of honor such as the ones listed in the passage above. Jesus plainly tells us who deserves the title "Father": no man on earth (v.9). It is reserved for God the Father alone. 
  • Verse nine is not talking about A.) biological fathers (i.e. Exodus 20:12; Matthew 15:4; Ephesians 6:1-3), B.) ancestral fathers, C.) founding fathers, or D.) fathers in the faith (i.e. Luke 16:31; 1 Corinthians 4:15).
  • We can refer to people as being a spiritual father, a spiritual leader or teacher, bishop, elder, overseer, pastor, or a deacon. But the New Testament never occupies titles such as "Father Jim", "Bishop Timothy", "Reverend John", "Elder David", or "Doctor Andrew". Such a use of titles is completely unscriptural. 
  • As for the Pope's usurpation of the title "Holy Father", it actually belongs to God (John 17:11). What Christian in his or her right mind would dare to occupy a title that is IDENTICAL to God's?
  • Matthew 23:5-13 specifically forbids the love of flattering religious titles and special attention. Only God is worthy of such titles of honor. We are all "brethren" in Christ (v. 8). Leaders of the church are not to function as "lords over God's heritage" (1 Peter 5:1-5).
  • Nothing in this article is suggesting that there are no godly leaders in the church who occupy religious titles of honor. But those who do such are simply being disobedient to the Lord's emphatic commandment. This prohibition of the use of religious titles is significant, especially when they usually go to a person's head.