Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Best Safeguard Against False Doctrine

"If anyone asks me, “What is the best safeguard against false doctrine?” I answer in one word: “The Bible—the Bible regularly read, regularly prayed over, regularly studied.” We must go back to the old prescription of our Master: “Search the Scriptures” (John 5:39, AV). If we want a weapon to wield against the devious schemes of Satan, there is nothing like “the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.” But to wield it successfully, we must read it habitually, diligently, intelligently, and prayerfully. This is a point on which, I fear, many fail. In an age of hurry and frenzied activity, few read their Bibles as much as they should. More books perhaps are read than ever, but less of the one book which makes men wise to salvation. Roman Catholicism and liberal theology could never have made such havoc in the church if there had not been a most superficial knowledge of the Scriptures throughout the land. A Bible-reading congregation is the strength of a church."

J.C. Ryle, Churches Beware!, p. 84-85

Friday, May 18, 2018

The Blasphemy Of Roman Catholic Marian Apparitions

        The Roman Catholic Church is known for its reports concerning alleged appearances of Mary and angels claiming to deliver important messages from God. What should also warrant our attention is the fact that some of these supernatural phenomena do indeed seem real. Consider, for example, the visions of Fatima. In 1917, three Portuguese shepherd children began experiencing visions for a period of six months from an entity claiming to be Mary, with the final occasion taking place in the sky with the guise of a trembling, dancing sun within the vicinity of 70,000 people.

        The best method of determining the validity of these so-called miracles is to compare the substances of those messages to the inspired pages of Scripture. We have been called to test and prove all things (1 Thessalonians 5:21). We have been called to test the spirits to see whether they originated from God (1 John 4:1-4). The Bible is to function as our final spiritual standard of authority (1 Corinthians 4:6; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). No professed prophet is to be embraced at face value, even if he or she is performing seemingly wonderful signs and wonders (Deuteronomy 13:1-5). Scripture also speaks of false miracles that are only intended to deceive (2 Thessalonians 2:7-12; Revelation 13:11-17). Multitudes can be deceived by these.

        Unfortunately, such is the case with the Church of Rome welcoming and encouraging its members to unquestioningly accept the veracity of these so-called Marian apparitions. The Fatima episodes serve as a great illustration as to why these visions should categorically be rejected on the grounds of being blasphemous. In other words, they are blatantly unscriptural and unchristian. Consider the implications of this message attributed to the Lady of Fatima:

        "Our Lady said that many souls would be saved from Hell and the annihilation of nations averted if, in time, devotion to Her Immaculate Heart were established..." (Fatima.org)

        Nowhere does the gospel mention anything about devotion to the heart of Mary. Nowhere does the New Testament ascribe supernatural powers and roles to the mother of Jesus Christ. Mary is not venerated by anyone in Scripture. Never do we see prayers dedicated to beings other than God in Scripture, nor does He ever grant us permission to partake in such activity. God is our strength and refuge (Psalm 46:1). He is our help and deliverer (Psalm 40:17). We should trust only in God (Psalm 62:1-8; 73:24-26). The Scriptures testify to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (John 5:39-40). In fact, not even the Holy Spirit points to Himself. He points to Christ (John 16:13). Consider further explanation of the messages announced by the visions at Fatima:

        "He also explained to them the great importance of praying and making sacrifices in reparation for the offenses committed against God. He told them: 'Make of everything you can a sacrifice and offer it to God as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and in supplication, for the conversion of sinners." (Fatima.org)

       
"The children were also told to pray and sacrifice themselves for sinners, in order to save them from hell." (Fatima.org)


        "Our Lady said it was necessary for those persons to say the Rosary in order to obtain..reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary."

        On the contrary, the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ was already full atonement for all our sins (Hebrews 10:10-18). He is our High Priest who continually makes intercession for us (Hebrews 7:24-28). He is able to completely save all of those who come to Him by faith. We can approach God with confidence because of what His Son accomplished on our behalf (Hebrews 4:14-16). We cannot establish our own righteousness (Romans 9:30-10:4). We cannot simply merit God's grace and good favor. The notion that we must atone for sin should be offensive to us in the highest degree. It certainly is to Christ. Thus, the messages proclaimed by the visions of Fatima are totally heretical.

        "She showed Her Heart, surrounded by piercing thorns (which represented the sins against Her Immaculate Heart), to the children, who understood that their sacrifices could help to console Her." (Fatima.org)

        The biblical problem of sin is defined as the threat of mankind suffering eternal condemnation as a consequence for breaking the commandments of God. This stuff regarding sins being committed against the "immaculate heart" of Mary is simply made up. It is entirely fictional. Mary has clearly been elevated to the level of deity, conflating her will with the will of God. It needs to be understood that God was not by any means obligated to save us. He could have refused, if He so wanted to. He did not have to choose Mary. God could have found another faithful Jewish woman, if He so desired.

        Notice also that these Roman Catholic apparitions commonly advise the faithful to feverishly meditate on the Rosary, which is just another way to glorify Mary. If these were at all given by God, then they would directly point us to Him, considering that God is a jealous God (Exodus 20:4-5). Instead, they exalt themselves. At best, these so-called Marian apparitions are spurious messages infested with half-truths. At worst, they are demonic utterances used to deceive the public and provoke God to wrath. This is merely another episode of Satan being caught masquerading as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). Consider the words spoken by the mother of Jesus during the wedding feast at Cana:

        "His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” (John 2:5)

        In other words, the biblical Mary pointed to Jesus Christ Himself. Thus, these Marian apparitions could not possibly be the real mother of Jesus.

        One of the Fatima apparitions is reputed to have said the following:

        "In the end, My Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me and she will be converted and a period of peace will be granted to the world. Only I can help you. My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God."

        But the truth of the matter is that the Lord Jesus Christ is the only One who can offer us assistance (John 14:6; Acts 4:10-12; 1 Timothy 2:5-6). He came to save His people (Matthew 1:21). He does not need anybody's help. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). He is our righteousness. He is our salvation (Hebrews 5:9). Furthermore, the final restoration of the world to its original state of perfection cannot and will not happen until the second coming of Christ. Yet, Catholics boldly display this mindset in regards to Mary.

        In short, the point of this article is to demonstrate why all of these Roman Catholic apparitions should be rejected. They distract the attention of millions to Christ. This is clearly the promotion of a false gospel, which is no small deal (Galatians 1:6-12). These visions are sheer blasphemy. We would do well to adhere to the words of the Apostle Paul:

        "Let no one disqualify you, delighting in self-abasement and worship of angels, taking his stand on visions, inflated without reason by his fleshly mind." (Colossians 2:18)

In The Beginning Was Information

"When a message is composed, it involves the coding of its mental content, but the message itself is not concerned about whether the contents are important or unimportant, valuable, useful, or meaningless. Only the recipient can evaluate the message after decoding it." (Hans-Joachim Flechtner (cyberneticist), cited by Werner Gitt, p.47)

"It should be emphasized that matter as such is unable to generate any code. All experiences indicate that a thinking being voluntarily exercising his own free will, cognition, and creativity, is required." (p. 65, note 13.)

"When its progress along the chain of transmission events is traced backwards, every piece of information leads to a mental source, the mind of the sender." (p.70)

"There is no known natural law through which matter can give rise to information, neither is any physical process or material phenomenon known that can do this." (p.79)

"The information present in living beings must have had a mental source…Any model for the origin of life (and of information) based solely on physical and/or chemical processes, is inherently false."(p.98, 99)

"Since the findings of James D. Watson (*1928) and Francis H.C. Crick (*1916), it was increasingly realized by contemporary researchers that the information residing in the cells is of crucial importance for the existence of life. Anybody who wants to make meaningful statements about the origin of life, would be forced to explain how the information originated. All evolutionary views are fundamentally unable to answer this crucial question." (p.99)

"Since science does not have the faintest idea how life on earth originated,… it would only be honest to confess this to other scientists, to grantors, and to the public at large. Prominent scientists speaking ex cathedra, should refrain from polarising the minds of students and young productive scientists with statements that are based solely on beliefs." (Hubert P. Jockey, Journal of Theoretical Biology [Vol 91, 1981, p13], cited by Werner Gitt, p.101)

"The final result of all my researches and discussions is that the theory of evolution should be discarded in its entirety, because it always leads to extreme contradictions and confusing consequences when tested against the empirical results of research on the formation of different kinds of living forms and related fields. This assertion would agitate many people. Moreover: my next conclusion is that, far from being a benign natural-philosophical school of thought, the theory of evolution is a severe obstacle for biological research. As many examples show, it actually prevents the drawing of logical conclusions from even one set of experimental material. Because everything must be bent to fit this speculative theory, an exact biology cannot develop." (Professor Dr. Heribert Nilsson, “Synthetische Artbildung,” cited by Werner Gitt, p.106)

"There is no known law of nature, no known process and no known sequence of events which can cause information to originate by itself in matter." (p.107)

"The basic flaw of all evolutionary views is the origin of the information in living beings. It has never been shown that a coding system and semantic information could originate by itself in a material medium, and the information theorems predict that this will never be possible. A purely material origin of life is thus precluded." (p.124)

"Mutations can only cause changes in existing information. There can be no increase in information, and in general the results are injurious. New blueprints for new functions or new organs cannot arise; mutations cannot be the source of new (creative) information." (p.127)

Werner Gitt, In The Beginning Was Information

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

John Chrysostom And Justification By Faith Alone

  • The Armchair Theologian Published An Excellent Article With Several Excerpts From Various Church Fathers Proving That They Believed In Justification By Faith Apart From The Merit Of Works. Following Are Excerpts From John Chrysostom:
          “Let us see, however, whether the brigand gave evidence of effort and upright deeds and a good yield. Far from his being able to claim even this, he made his way into paradise before the apostles with a mere word, on the basis of faith alone, the intention being for you to learn that it was not so much a case of his sound values prevailing as the Lord’s lovingkindness being completely responsible. What, in fact, did the brigand say? What did he do? Did he fast? Did he weep? Did he tear his garments? Did he display repentance in good time? Not at all: on the cross itself after his utterance he won salvation. Note the rapidity: from cross to heaven, from condemnation to salvation. What were those wonderful words, then? What great power did they have that they brought him such marvelous good things? “Remember me in your kingdom.” What sort of word is that? He asked to receive good things, he showed no concern for them in action; but the one who knew his heart paid attention not to the words but to the attitude of mind.” —John Chrysostom, (347 – 407 AD), Sermon 7 on Genesis, in St. John Chrysostom, Eight Sermons on the Book of Genesis, pp. 123-24 (2004), Robert C. Hill translator.

          “They said that he who adhered to faith alone was cursed; but he, Paul, shows that he who adhered to faith alone is blessed.”- St. John Chrysostom (347 – 407 AD) (Homily on Galatians 3)

          “But he calls it their ‘own righteousness,’ either because the Law was no longer of force, or because it was one of trouble and toil. But this he calls God’s righteousness, that from faith, because it comes entirely from the grace from above, and because men are justified in this case, not by labors, but by the gift of God.”- St. John Chrysostom (347 – 407 AD) (Homily 17 on Romans 10:3)

          “Here he shows God’s power, in that He has not only saved, but has even justified, and led them to boasting, and this too without needing works, but looking for faith only.” Homily 7 on Romans- St. John Chrysostom (347 – 407 AD)

          “For you believe the faith; why then do you add other things, as if faith were not sufficient to justify? You make yourselves captive, and you subject yourself to the law.”- St. John Chrysostom (347 – 407 AD) (Epistle to Titus, Homily 3, PG 62.651)

           "But what is the ‘law of faith?’ It is, being saved by grace. Here he shows God’s power, in that He has not only saved, but has even justified, and led them to boasting, and this too without needing works, but looking for faith only.” St. John Chrysostom, (347 – 407 AD), Homilies on Romans 3

           “We need none of those legal observances, he says; faith suffices to obtain for us the Spirit, and by Him righteousness, and many and great benefits.”- Chrysostom (347 – 407 AD), Homilies on Galatians 4

            “And he well said, “a righteousness of mine own,” not that which I gained by labor and toil, but that which I found from grace. If then he who was so excellent is saved by grace, much more are you. For since it was likely they would say that the righteousness which comes from toil is the greater, he shows that it is dung in comparison with the other. For otherwise I, who was so excellent in it, would not have cast it away, and run to the other. But what is that other? That which is from the faith of God, i.e. it too is given by God. This is the righteousness of God; this is altogether a gift. And the gifts of God far exceed those worthless good deeds, which are due to our own diligence.” Chrysostom, (347 – 407 AD) Homily on Philippians 3

            “God does not wait for time to elapse after repentance. You state your sin, you are justified. You repented, you have been shown mercy.”- St. John Chrysostom, (347 – 407 AD), Homily 7 On Repentance and Compunction, p. 95 in FOTC, vol. 96.

Homosexuality Destroys Culture

"A study of rise and fall of ancient history shows that the extent of homosexual practice affects the general corruption of a society. Richard Lovelace says, “Homosexual expression endangers the formation of sexual identity in boys and girls, the integrity of the family, and therefore the stability of the whole society.” He goes on to say that a degenerative process is set in motion when a people, a society, and a nation endorses the practice of homosexuality."

Hope MacDonald, The Flip Side of Liberation: A Call to Traditional Values, pg.135-136

Homosexuality is Against God

"At the time of the Fall (Gen. 3:6), all of creation fell. Nature and the human race fell. We became separated from God, and our fellowship with one another was marred. Even sexual relationships were affected by the Fall. Instead of man and woman becoming one, as ordained by God, we now have adultery, practicing homosexual and lesbian relationships, prostitution, incest, rape, and bestiality. All of these are distortions of the wholeness and oneness that God originally intended.

They go against the purpose of God’s plan for marriage and family life. Homosexuality is a perversion of the law of nature and violates the law of God. It is a distortion of the beauty of God’s pattern for man and woman…

God created humans as two distinct creations, male and female. From Genesis to Revelation, sexuality is always in this context. The practicing homosexual lifestyle is not an alternative lifestyle, it is a departure from God’s plan. God did not create man to use one another in this unnatural way. Thomas Aquinas called it the “sin against nature and an injury against our Creator.” God intended sexual intercourse to take place between man and woman. It is obvious that the male and female bodies were designed in this way. The Bible condemns every form of sexual expression outside of heterosexual marriage."

Hope MacDonald, The Flip Side of Liberation: A Call to Traditional Values, p. 134

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Was King Saul "Born Again?"

  • Discussion:
         -"Then it happened when he turned his back to leave Samuel, God changed his heart; and all those signs came about on that day." (1 Samuel 10:9)

         The context of this passage is about the conversion of Saul and him being anointed by God's Prophet Samuel as king over Israel. Prior to him being appointed by God through His chosen vessel, a group of prophets informed him that the Lord was going to give him a new heart (1 Samuel 10:5-7). This passage of Scripture is most certainly intriguing, seeing how the language seems to correspond to New Testament text such as 2 Corinthians 5:17.

         Even though Scripture records King Saul as being a poor moral example, we can nevertheless learn from his life experience the inevitable, devastating consequences of living according to the flesh. His life was characterized as being envious, vengeful, and murderous. He even committed suicide. But nobody can say with absolute authority what Saul's eternal destiny was, for only God knows the hearts of man (1 Samuel 16:7). We are not in a place to pronounce definitive judgments on the salvation of other people. It is possible that he could have earnestly pleaded from the heart that God be merciful to him in his last breath.

          My personal opinion on the matter is that he was once born again but walked away from his salvation. If that is the case, then we see evidence of the Holy Spirit's regenerating work in the Old Testament. Maybe King Saul came to a point of having saving faith, but chose not to continue in that pursuit. God can use anybody or anything to accomplish His will. This exercise is only meant to provide some food for thought.

Monday, May 14, 2018

The Self-Sufficiency Of Scripture Entails That Sign Gifts Have Ceased

           There is much heated debate among professing Christians and their respective denominations regarding whether or not certain gifts of the Holy Spirit have come to an end. The brimming controversy centers around the specific areas of speaking in tongues, prophecy, and miraculous powers to heal. The question that has aroused much fascination is whether or not the ability to exercise these spiritual gifts was terminated by the end of the apostolic age. In fact, there are folks on both sides (cessationism vs continuationism) who uphold rather extreme positions. While there are people who accuse those who claim to speak in tongues as being demon possessed, there are others who argue that those who have never encountered such moments have not really been born again. But we need not be up in arms on this matter, for it is not an issue directly related to the gospel.

          Nevertheless, both sides cannot be correct at the same time because that would constitute embracing a logical contradiction. Moreover, a study on the sufficiency of written revelation and purposes of the spiritual gifts in question should spell out quite plainly that they were meant to cease after the apostolic era.

           First and foremost, the Scriptures reveal to us that they are to be the final, sufficient standard of spiritual authority for the Christian church. They are to serve as our guide in our walk with God. They are to function as the measuring stick in the process of discernment. Scripture contains the instructions necessary for salvation (2 Timothy 3:15). Scripture enables the one who serves God to be "adequate" (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Note that Paul goes on to define that thought as, "equipped for every good work." Scripture was written to make our joy complete (1 John 1:4). Scripture gives us assurance of salvation (1 John 5:13). It addresses everything, at least in principle, that we need to know pertaining to faith and holiness. Our Lord Jesus Christ promised the twelve apostles that the Holy Spirit would teach them all things God intended to make known (John 14:26; 16:13). The faith has been delivered once for all to the saints (Jude 3). Therefore, there can be no new revelations. He has communicated all that we need to know concerning the will of God through written revelation. God has given us (in the past tense) everything pertaining to a life of godliness (2 Peter 1:3-4). Not everything is about the individual. We are not to rely on our emotions and personal experiences in discerning truth from error, but rather are to read Scripture with a humble and prayerful heart. The testimonial of the apostles and prophets is a part of the church's foundation (Ephesians 2:19-20), which logically suggests cessation.

           Anything that contradicts the commandments of God should be rejected immediately at all costs. If a so-called revelatory experience confirms completely to the message of the Bible, then it becomes redundant. One should be adhering incessantly to the voice of Christ as proclaimed throughout its pages. Scripture is the only known, safe road map for traveling the route of Christianity. Once a person departs from the formal sufficiency of written revelation, multitudinous opportunities for propagating heresy arise, which is a springboard for another objection to continuationism. False Christs and teachers can arise that perform counterfeit miracles (Ezekiel 13:9; Matthew 24:24; Acts 20:28-30; 1 John 4:1-4). How then can we distinguish truth from error? What standard exists to judge the validity of wolves in sheep's clothing? Tongues were needed to preach the gospel in other languages. Prophets uttered prophecies to give us a fuller picture of God's plan of redemption. He has now spoken fully in His Son (Hebrews 1:1-3). People can now "prophecy" only in the sense of edifying other people in the faith. We have the more sure word of prophecy recorded in Scripture (2 Peter 1:16-21). The apostles originally worked miracles for the purpose of establishing the Christian church (2 Corinthians 12:12). Scripture speaks of the performance of miracles in the past tense (Hebrews 2:3-4).

           Now, none of the materials presented within this article is meant to suggest that God does not work miracles or cannot work today. The Holy Spirit is still at work in our midst. God still intervenes with His creation. Spiritual gifts need not be communicated through human instruments today because they have fulfilled their designated purposes and we now possess Scripture. The objective of this paper is not to imply that all charismatic types are unsaved, but rather that that they have taken matters too far. In other words, continuationist beliefs are misguided. The grace of God is sufficient for all Christians. His strength is made perfect during the times of our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). God uses times of suffering to conform us to the image of His Son Jesus Christ.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Does Ephesians 2:8-9 Say That Faith Is A Gift Of God?

  • Following Are A Handful Of Excerpts From An Apologetics Pamphlet Published By Middletown (Connecticut) Bible Church:
         "If faith in Christ itself is God’s gift, then how do I receive this faith? Instead of asking, “What must I do to be saved?”, I must now focus on the question “What must I do to believe?” If faith is God’s gift, then how do I get this gift? Do I pray to God and ask for the gift of faith? Do I sit back and do nothing and hope that I am one of the chosen ones who will be given this gift? How do I get the gift of saving faith? It is all confusing and it takes away from where the focus of the sinner ought to be, which is upon Jesus Christ and Him crucified."

         "Some might argue that “faith is the nearest antecedent: For by grace are ye saved through faith and that not of yourselves.” It is certainly true that “faith is the nearest antecedent, but since there are a great number of cases in the New Testament where the nearest antecedent is not the correct one, we should be very careful before applying this “rule.” There are other far more important considerations.

         Here is the correct rule that Greek grammar demands to be followed: PRONOUNS AGREE WITH THEIR ANTECEDENT IN GENDER AND NUMBER. THEIR CASE IS DETERMINED BY THEIR USE IN THEIR OWN CLAUSE.

         This rule argues forcefully against the identification of “faith” as the antecedent does not agree with the pronoun in gender. The pronoun “that” (verse 8) is NEUTER, and the word “faith” (verse 8) is FEMININE. IF Paul wanted his readers to understand the pronoun as referring to “faith,” then there is no reason why he could not have used the feminine form of the pronoun [here the author gives the Greek, but I don’t have that font]. This would have settled it. If Paul had used the feminine pronoun then it would be very clear and obvious that FAITH is the gift of God. Paul did not use the feminine pronoun.

         Why then did Paul used the neuter pronoun? What is the antecedent? If Paul had wanted to refer to the idea contained in the main verb (the idea of being SAVED), then it would have been perfectly normal and appropriate for him to use the neuter gender. It would have been very natural for Paul to say, “For by grace ARE YE SAVED through faith and this thing that I’m talking about, namely salvation, is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God…” If Paul had wanted the pronoun to refer to the idea contained in the verb, the neuter form would be the one to use.

          We need to carefully think through Ephesians 2:8-9 in order to correctly identify the antecedent. We must ask, “What is Paul talking about in Ephesians 2:8-9? What is his main point?” It is obvious that Paul is talking about HOW A PERSON IS SAVED. The main idea of the sentence is found in the verb “ARE YE SAVED” [or “YE ARE SAVED”]. How is a person saved? Ephesians 2:8-9 answers this key question. Salvation is by grace. Salvation through faith. Salvation is not of yourselves. Salvation is the GIFT OF GOD.Salvation is not of works. Paul is not giving a dissertation on faith, but he is giving a brief dissertation on salvation. SALVATION is his main subject. Faith is mentioned because you cannot answer the question “HOW IS A PERSON SAVED?” without mentioning faith. A person is saved by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31). God’s gracious gift of salvation must be personally received, and it is received by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ."

           "The question the Philippian jailer asked was this: “What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30). Some would answer in this way: “Nothing! You can’t do anything! You are dead and totally unable to respond to God until you are regenerated. You have no part is salvation. God must do it all. You cannot exercise saving faith.” This answer might harmonize with one’s theological system, but there is only one problem. This is not how Paul and Silas answered the question! Paul and Silas told the jailer that there was something that he could do and was responsible to do: “BELIEVE on the Lord Jesus Christ!” (Acts 16:31 and compare how Peter answered a similar question in Acts 13:37-38)."

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Dietary Restrictions In The New Testament?

  • Defining The Issues:
         -Professing Christian groups such as the Seventh-Day Adventists and Hebrew Roots Movement maintain that the New Testament does not abolish the Mosaic distinction of eating clean meats verses eating unclean meats, which are discussed comprehensively in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14. What needs to be understood, however, is that these dietary laws were strictly applicable to Israel. These food laws served as a means to make the Jews a different people from neighboring countries.

         Notice especially the language found in Scripture passages discussing Jesus Christ's fulfillment of the Old Covenant such as Romans 10:4, Galatians 3:24-26, Ephesians 2:14-15, and Colossians 2:13-16. He very clearly terminated mandatory observance of Mosaic customs by His crucifixion at Calvary, which therefore eliminates any possibility of us being under compulsion of adhering to dietary regulations. Moreover, the Scripture is abundantly clear that our Lord Jesus Christ declared all foods, including meats, clean:

         "because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?” (Thus He declared all foods clean.) And He was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man." (Mark 7:19-20)

         The Scripture teaches that no man may deem unclean anything that God has declared to be clean:

         "But he became hungry and was desiring to eat; but while they were making preparations, he fell into a trance; and he saw the sky opened up, and an object like a great sheet coming down, lowered by four corners to the ground, and there were in it all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air. A voice came to him, “Get up, Peter, kill and eat!” But Peter said, “By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean.” Again a voice came to him a second time, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy. This happened three times, and immediately the object was taken up into the sky.” (Acts 10:10-16)

         We have freedom in Christ to eat anything of our choosing:

         "Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him." (Romans 14:1-3)

          "I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died." (Romans 14:14-15)
       
          "Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense." (Romans 14:20)

          "The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin." (Romans 14:22-23)

           "But food will not commend us to God; we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat." (1 Corinthians 8:8)

           In fact, the New Testament labels doctrines such as mandating that others abstain from eating various meats as being signs of apostasy. Why? Because everything created by God is good and is to be received with thanksgiving:

           "But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer." (1 Timothy 4:1-5)

           Moreover, those who wish to reinstate customs of the Old Testament are failing to recognize that they are in actuality threatening to undermine the biblical gospel. If we are going to adhere to dietary laws, then why not also revert to performing animal sacrifices, as well? After all, the Law demands perfect obedience (Deuteronomy 27:26; 32:45-47; Galatians 3:10-11), which is why it condemns us. The point being made here is that we are not under law, but under grace. The Mosaic covenant has been done away with by the one perfect sacrifice of Christ. Nowhere do any of the New Testament books warn us against eating certain kinds of food. We should be much more concerned with managing our appetites, for that is an indicator of how well we practice self-control.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Identifying The Underlying Causes Of Emotional Pain Is Important

"Rather than seeking to deaden, ignore, or elevate the importance of our emotions, we should allow them to speak to us about our hearts. Because God gave us the ability to experience emotions, we want to be very cautious about ignoring what they may be telling us. We want to carefully consider whether dampening the awareness of our feelings through the use of medication (or alcohol) is the best road for us to take to better health. Medicines or alcohol may make us feel better for a time, even if our "heart problem" is not addressed. For example, we know that morphine dulls the pain of a broken arm. It does not heal or reset the bone, and it does not fix the root cause of the pain. The same is true about medicines and emotional pain. In order to resolve such pain, we need to deal not with the symptoms, but the root cause of the pain."

Elyse Fitzpatrick and Laura Hendrickson, M.D., "Will Medicine Stop the Pain?," p. 32

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The Facts About American Slavery

"Politically correct media and school textbooks give the impression that slavery has primarily been a sin committed by white people who enslaved blacks. The fact that only about 25 percent of the Americans in the South had slaves before the Civil War is commonly not mentioned, nor is the fact that (according to the United States census of 1830), for example, 407 black Americans in Charleston, South Carolina, alone owned black slaves."

Alvin J. Schmidt, Under the Influence: How Christianity Transformed Civilization, p. 273

Monday, May 7, 2018

Christians And Demon Possession

          We know from Scripture that it is impossible for genuine Christians to be possessed by demons because they are owned by God (1 Corinthians 7:23). He has redeemed us with the shed blood of His Son Jesus Christ (Acts 20:28).

          The God who indwells Himself in us is greater than the things of this world (1 John 4:4). The Holy Spirit has no fellowship with demons, and therefore cannot be present in the body of a person who is possessed by them (2 Corinthians 6:14-16).

          The only types of people that we see as being possessed by demons in Scripture are those who do not believe. The epistles record no examples of or instructions as to how to even cast evil spirits out of Christians.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Does Mark 1:2 Contain An Inaccurate Quotation?

tc Grk “in Isaiah the prophet.” Instead of “in Isaiah the prophet” the majority of mss read “in the prophets” (A W Γ ƒ 28 579 1424 M Ir). Except for Irenaeus (2nd century), the earliest evidence for this is from the 5th (or possibly late 4th) century (Washingtonianus and Alexandrinus). The difficulty of Irenaeus is that he wrote in Greek but has been preserved largely in Latin. His Greek remains have “in Isaiah the prophet.” Only the later Latin translation has “in the prophets” (yet in one of the three citations of Mark 1:2 Irenaeus’s Latin has “in Isaiah the prophet”). The KJV reading is thus in harmony with the majority of late mss. On the other hand, the witnesses for “in Isaiah the prophet” (either with the article before Isaiah or not) are early and geographically widespread: א B D L Δ Θ ƒ 33 565 700 892 1241 al sy co Ir Or Epiph. This evidence runs deep into the 2nd century, is widespread, and is found in the most significant Alexandrian, Western, and so-called Caesarean witnesses. The “Isaiah” reading has a better external pedigree in almost every way. It has the support of the earliest and best witnesses from most of the text-forms. Moreover it is most likely the harder reading, since the quotation in the first part of the verse appears to be from Exod 23:20 and Mal 3:1, with the quotation from Isa 40:3 coming in the next verse. Although the reading of the later mss seems motivated by a desire to resolve this difficulty, Robinson has made a good case for “in the prophets” as the original wording (Maurice Robinson, “Two Passages in Mark: A Critical Test for the Byzantine-Priority Hypothesis,” Faith & Mission 13.2 [1996]: 68-80). Part of his argument is that א Θ ƒ 33 erroneously have “Isaiah” in Matt 13:35, and these same mss read “Isaiah the prophet” in Mark 1:2. Consequently, he suggests that their testimony in the Marcan text should be discounted. This may be true but it ignores the rest of the witnesses for the “Isaiah” reading here. All things considered, “Isaiah the prophet” has better credentials for authenticity in Mark 1:2.

Excerpt taken from the New English Translation

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Does God Hate Sinners?

         "The boastful shall not stand before Your eyes; You hate all who do iniquity." (Psalm 5:5)

          
"All their evil is at Gilgal; Indeed, I came to hate them there Because of the wickedness of their deeds I will drive them out of My house! I will love them no more; All their princes are rebels." (Hosea 9:15)

         God's Law is perfect. It is a reflection of His character and nature. He cannot allow sin and rebellion into His kingdom. He absolutely despises iniquity. He judges sinners. He punishes sinners. Sin stems forth from the human heart. His wrath is a reality. God cannot simply leave sin unaccounted for. This biblical truth should induce much uncomfortability to our souls. These truths should be sobering. But, there is good news.

         God is loving. He is gracious. He is kind. He is merciful. He is compassionate. He is patient. He is slow to anger. At the same time, our Creator is holy and just. He is righteous. He can be provoked to wrath. God's love and hatred are perfect. He hates without sinful intent. To be hated of God means to be under His wrath and judgement. Those whom He loves are those who have found favor in His sight. It was out of His unfathomable love for us that He sent His only begotten Son into this world to make atonement for our sins:

         “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)

          
"but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life." (Romans 5:8-10)

          
"Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." (1 John 4:8-10)

         Therefore, those who desire to have fellowship with God must be reconciled to Him by faith through Jesus Christ. We must have our sins forgiven. We must have our sins taken away from us. One may ask, "But how can a God of love hate at the same time?" Well, there are many aspects of His character. His love is more than simply warm feelings.

          His provisional love for sinners is not incompatible with His righteous judgement. If we are Christians, then God is not only our King but also our Father. We cannot simply water down His character. We must consider His character in its entirety, lest we create for ourselves an idol because of a defective view of God.

         God does indeed have love for us. He has provided a means for us to escape divine condemnation. The richness of His mercy is unsearchable. He does desire reconciliation, especially with those who believe on Him for salvation. Nevertheless, we should not take these truths lightly. We should abhor sin. We should reject it at all costs. The command for us to love our enemies is rooted in God's provisional love for sinners.

         We are justified by God's grace through our faith in the work of His Son Jesus Christ. We cannot merit our salvation. God desires that all men come to salvation (Acts 17:26-31). He wants all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). He has no desire in punishing the wicked (Ezekiel 18:23; 33:10-11). It is not God who sends people to hell. People end up there because that is the eternal destiny they chose. There is a day coming in which every man will give account of himself to God.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

How Miracles Illustrate The Foolishness Of Atheism

        Atheists quickly rule out the possibility of miracles because a consistent naturalistic worldview does not allow them to embrace the validity of supernatural realities. In other words, these people automatically deem false anything that is not observable to the five human senses. This is done by atheists in their attempts to eliminate God from the equation of life. Following is a handful of basic talking points to keep in mind within the context of atheism and the miraculous.

        There are indeed rare, extraordinary phenomena, whether they be recovery from near impossible medical emergencies or survival without injury from natural disasters. There has even been drastic character transformation in formally malicious people who converted to Christianity. Consider the example of the Apostle Paul who was a murderer prior to his conversion. It would be more reasonable to attribute such to supernatural intervention than to mere chance.

        We should not make the hasty generalization of dismissing authentic miracles alongside the counterfeits. The authentic experiences serve as evidences for God being very much alive throughout His creation. The real issue is that we lack faith in Him. That is a tendency of our fallen nature.

        Empirical evidence is not the only form of available evidence. We also have experiential knowledge and eyewitness testimony. One need not assume without proof that the New Testament writings are historically fraudulent, especially when it has so much manuscript evidence favoring its veracity.

        Scientific experiments tell us how nature regularly operates under certain conditions, not that miracles are an impossibility. Thus, there are both natural and supernatural explanations. It is because of our scientific knowledge that we can discern whether an occurrence is a miracle. Miracles do not contradict natural laws, but rather transcend them.

        Furthermore, it is a highly unscientific to assume that God does not exist because such a colossal argument requires that one obtain infinite knowledge about everything. This cannot be done by beings who are finite by design. He is beyond the limited scope of nature. A test-tube will never be capable of coherently explaining the fullness of reality.

        If the God of the Bible does exist (which we maintain that He does), then the case is closed. He can indeed work miracles, and does. Whether one believes in the possibility of miracles is ultimately a matter of underlying philosophical presuppositions about this world.

        Even if there were no supreme deity governing the universe, atheism would still have no reason to exist or proclaim itself to be true. Atheism is inherently self-contradictory because it appeals to universal laws which cannot exist if everything arose by blind, mindless chance. The concept of moral truths would be no different than our personal appetites. Even our own existence could not be objectively true.

Human Love Can Become Corrupt

"We may give our human loves the unconditional allegiance which we owe only to God. Then they become gods: then they become demons. Then they will destroy us, and also destroy themselves. For natural loves that are allowed to become gods do not remain loves. They are still called so, but can become in fact complicated forms of hatred."

C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves, p. 8

True Love Entails Self-Sacrifice

"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket - safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell."

C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves, p. 121