What the Bible says about light and seed

The True Light "In him, (the Lord Jesus) was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world,…the world didn’t recognize him." John 1:4,9.

The Good Seed and the Weeds “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seeds in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. Matthew 13:24,25.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Rapture (Part 19)

Andy WoodsBy Dr. Andy Woods Sugar Land Bible Church
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My previous articles commenced a series on the rapture of the church. We began with the question, "What is the Rapture?" This question can best be answered by noting ten truths about the rapture from 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:50-58. In previous articles from 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, we saw that the rapture is an important doctrine and not something that can be marginalized or explained away as a secondary doctrine. We also noted that the rapture is an event that is distinct from the Second Advent of Christ. We further observed that the rapture will involve the catching up of every believer to meet the Lord in the air, and that the rapture will involve a reunion between living and deceased Church-Age believers. We then began to examine several more points from 1 Corinthians 15:50-58. We noted that the rapture will be a resurrection, will exempt an entire generation of believers from death, will be an instantaneous event, is a mystery, is an imminent event, and is also a traditional doctrine now being recovered
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Crowded Out - Greg Laurie

Reblogged from Prophecy update
The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity.
-Luke 8:14

I have always been amazed by weeds. You can take a little flower, plant it in the perfect location, water it, and make sure there are no pests to threaten it. You can do everything possible for that flower, and it will slowly grow. But then, in the same amount of time, some weed springs up from a little crack in the sidewalk and that weed chokes out the flower.

But the weed doesn't suddenly burst out of the ground, grab the flower, and start shaking it. The process is gradual. First, there is a flower growing, and then the weed appears. The next day, the weed is a little closer. And on it goes until the weed starts to wrap itself around the flower and choke out its growth.

That is what Jesus was describing in the parable of the sower when He spoke about those who are "choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity" (Luke 8:14). This isn't something that happens overnight; it happens over a period of time.

I also find it interesting that it is the "cares, riches, and pleasures of life" that prevent the seed of God's Word from maturing and producing fruit. These aren't necessarily bad things in and of themselves. But these are good things that become the most important things and choke out the spiritual things.

This is not a picture of someone who says they don't want to pray, read the Bible, or go to church. Rather, this represents someone who thinks those are good things to do. But over time, they start losing interest, and the things of this world become more important to them than the things of the next world. And that is what chokes them out spiritually.   

Friday, January 24, 2014

Palestinian leader turns to Putin for Palestinian state, dumps US and Israel as peace partners

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report January 24, 2014, 11:07 AM (IST)
Good friends once again
Good friends once again
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) launched his “diplomatic intifada” against Israel and exit from the Kerry peace initiative Thursday, Jan. 23, from Moscow. His meetings with President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev marked his breakaway from the US-led peace process with Israel, four months before it was due to expire, and signaled his bid for Russian backing for a Palestinian state.

The Palestinian leader’s defection caught both Secretary of State John Kerry and Prime Minister Binyamin unprepared – and surprised their intelligence agencies. Putin and Abbas almost certainly planned in advance to drop their bombshell on the day both Kerry and Netanyahu were otherwise engaged at two international events in Switzerland, Geneva 2 on Syria and the World Economic Forum.

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Monday, January 20, 2014

What Does The Bible Say?

A Bible Study by Jack Kelley

I appeal to you brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and in thought (1 Cor. 1:10).

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear (2 Tim 4:3).

I don’t believe there’s ever been a time in history when we’ve been subjected to a wider variety of opinions on what the Bible says.  Some of these opinions have actually been around for a long time, while others are new to the scene. But all are now gaining a wider audience due to the advent of mass communications, especially the internet.  And because today’s average Christian is woefully uninformed where the Bible is concerned, some of these opinions have gained a following that couldn’t have been possible in the past.

As as result it takes an above average level of Biblical knowledge and the full application of our spiritual discernment to figure out what is true and what is not.  Fortunately the Bible, being the word of God, only teaches one doctrinal position so the diligent student can wade through all the false teaching and find the truth. Unfortunately, the number of diligent students in the Christian world seems to be at an all time low, and many are being misled.  Most of this false teaching doesn’t impact a person’s salvation, it just sows confusion in the body. But some of it has resulted in a considerable number of people who think they are going to heaven because of what they’ve been taught, although according to what the Bible says they probably aren’t.

In preparing for this study, I began making a list of the various doctrinal positions now being taught, and I saw a pattern emerging. It looks to me like we’re being offered a selection of teachings which have the overall effect of fracturing the body of Christ in ways that defy coincidence. It’s almost as if some unseen force is applying the “divide and conquer” principle to deprive us of any chance we might have had to regain our lost unity in these last days.

This is in direct contrast to Paul’s teaching against allowing divisions to develop among us. The Greek word translated “divisions” in 1 Cor. 1:10 above is “schisma”. Its literal meaning is a rent or tear, but it’s also used metaphorically to speak of division or dissension. The root word is the verb “schizo” which means “to cleave asunder” or “split into factions.” The English word “schism” comes from here.

In Paul’s day these divisions were caused by believers preferring one teacher over another and allowing quarrels to erupt over which one was best (1 Cor. 1:11-12). Back then, there were only a few teachers involved, but because the Church didn’t heed Paul’s admonition there are now hundreds of major denominational and independent groups world wide, most of them begun because people either wouldn’t agree on what the Bible says, or willingly put their own opinions above God’s word.

So, as we begin this new year, I want to spend a few weeks reminding ourselves in the clearest possible terms what the Bible really says about the important beliefs of our faith. This is not meant to be an exhaustive study but a review of the clearest verses the Bible offers on the topics we’ll cover. In the first place exhaustive studies are often exhausting to read. Second, and more importantly, a basic rule of interpretation is to use the clearest verses on a topic to help us interpret those that aren’t as clear. (The Bible is not a book where you have to worry about the fine print or continually be on the lookout for exclusions and exceptions. It’s meant to be understood by ordinary people of average intelligence.) Finally, I’d like to keep this study simple enough so you can share it with a curious friend or loved one, or even your kids.

With that in mind let’s begin with the most critical and fundamental belief of all.

What Does It Take To Be Saved?

Understanding what the Bible says (and doesn’t say) about salvation is obviously our number one priority. Let’s begin by defining the term.
The Bible says we are all sinners (Romans 3:23). This means we’ve repeatedly violated God’s Law. How we got into this situation is a long story but the end result is that our sins have gotten us into big trouble with God. In fact the Bible says our sins are punishable by death (Romans 6:23). Being saved means to be rescued from the death penalty due us for the sins we’ve committed.

The Bible mentions two births and two deaths. The first birth and the first death are physical and relate to our physical body, which usually wears out and ceases to work after 70 or 80 years. The second birth and the second death are spiritual, and relate to our soul and spirit, which live forever.

Salvation was not intended to save people from their physical death, but from their spiritual death, which the Bible defines as being consigned to a lake of fire to be tormented forever. In Rev. 20:14 and Rev. 21:8 this lake of fire is called the second death. So in the most literal sense being saved means escaping the second death.

You Must Be Born Again

We are saved from the second death by experiencing our second birth. In some circles this is called being being born again and it’s absolutely necessary in order for us to be saved from the penalty due us for our sins.

Here’s how it works. Knowing it isn’t entirely our fault that we’re in this predicament, God promised to send His Son to pay the penalty for our sins by dying in our place. His name is Jesus, and in the eternal sense, His death has saved our lives, if we’ll let it.
In John 1:12-13 we read the following;
Yet to all who received Him (Jesus), to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision, nor of a husband’s will, but born of God.” 

Our first birth made us a child of our earthly parents, but our second birth makes us a child of God. It’s our second birth that qualifies us for entry into the Kingdom of God, for without it no one can enter therein (John 3:3). In John 3:6 Jesus said flesh gives birth to flesh (first birth) but the Spirit gives birth to spirit (second birth).

These verses tell us our second birth takes place when we receive Jesus and believe in His name. Receiving Him means taking Him to ourselves or making Him our own, and believing in His name means believing Jesus is the one through whom God brought our salvation. In Hebrew, the name of Jesus is Yeshua, a contraction of the phrase that means “God is salvation”. His name explains what He has done, so by believing in His name we are believing in what He has done for us.

To summarize, if we’re only born once we’ll die twice, but if we’re born twice we’ll only die once. (Some of us won’t die at all, but that’s a topic for another discussion.)

Who Can Be Saved?

The Bible tells us God wants everyone to be saved (1 Timothy 2:3-4, 2 Peter 3:9) and that whoever believes in Jesus will not perish but will have everlasting life (John 3:16). In fact it says believing that God sent Jesus to save us is the only thing God requires of us (John 6:28-29).

It also says the decision to be saved is ours to make. In Matt. 7:7-8 Jesus said everyone who asks will receive, everyone who seeks will find, and to whoever knocks the door will be opened. Paul said if we confess with our mouth, “Jesus is Lord” and believe in our heart that God raised Him from the dead we’ll be saved (Romans 10:9). He said everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:13). The only condition is that our decision has to be made during our lifetime (Hebrews 9:27). After we die our destiny is sealed for eternity.

Did God Say That?

Everything else you may have heard about salvation is man made, not God breathed. For example;

The Bible does not say we have to agree to stop sinning in order to be saved. It does say we have to change our mind and agree we are sinners, because people who don’t think they sin don’t ask for a Savior.

The Bible does not say that before He created any of us, God selected some of us to be saved, left the rest to suffer the second death, and there’s nothing any of us can do to change that. The clearest verses on the subject tell us that God doesn’t want any of us to perish (2 Peter 3:9) but instead wants everyone to be saved (1 Tim. 2:3-4). Both the Old Testament and the New Testament tell us that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved (Joel 2:32, Romans 10:13).

The Bible does not say we can only be saved if God deems us worthy of such a blessing. It says we aren’t saved because of righteous things we have done but because of His mercy (Titus 3:5).

The Bible does not say we have to contribute our own effort to the salvation process. Is says we are saved by grace through faith and not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9).

The Bible does not say we can be saved by simply joining a particular church or denomination. It says we have to be born again (John 3:3).

The Bible does not say we can be saved by obeying God’s Law. It says no one will be declared righteous by obeying the Law (Romans 3:20) but that we have a righteousness apart from the Law that comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe (Romans 3:21-24).

The Bible does not say we will get another chance to be saved after we die. It says we’re only given one life and when it ends we’ll face our judgment (Hebrews 9:27).

The Bible does not say we need to be baptized in order to be saved. While baptism is important, it serves as the public declaration of our private decision to join the family of God, not as a prerequisite for doing so. The Bible says we were included in Christ when we heard the word of truth, the gospel of our salvation. Having believed we were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance,until the redemption of those who are God’s possession-to the praise of His glory (Ephesians 1:13-14).

Next time we’ll look at the durability of our salvation. Did God go to the extreme lengths that were required to save us, only to leave the maintenance of our salvation in our provably incapable hands, knowing we couldn’t help but lose it? Let’s find out what the Bible says. See you then. 01-18-14

Sunday, January 19, 2014

A Softer Prosperity Gospel: More Common Than You Think | 9Marks


While evangelicals have traditionally decried the prosperity gospel in its “hard” form, there is a softer form of this teaching that is all too common among us.[1] Often undetected by Bible-believing Christians, it assumes the gospel and leads its adherents to focus on things like financial planning, diet and exercise, and strategies for self-improvement. In contrast to the hard prosperity gospel, which offers miraculous and immediate health and wealth, this softer, subtler variety challenges believers to break through to the blessed life by means of the latest pastor-prescribed technique.

Of course, matters of personal stewardship such as money, health, and leadership skills should be woven into a whole-Bible theology of Christian discipleship. The trouble comes when Christians, and especially pastors, place greater emphasis on these secondary matters. What we choose to preach or listen to says much about what we value. And what I see among some evangelicals is a willingness to prioritize the lesser matters of the law over the weightier mercies of the gospel.

This is not a new concern. Others have described facets of this prosperity gospel under names like moralistic, therapeutic deism, Christless Christianity, and the commodification of Christianity.[2] In truth, all three descriptors overlap to describe a prosperity gospel that is easily missed, because it is seems reasonable to Christians who love God and the American Dream.

For those with eyes to see, signs of soft prosperity are everywhere in evangelicalism. Christian radio offers a “positive, encouraging” experience, with innumerable songs beckoning listeners to be overcomers. Christian publishers market books that help Christians look better, feel more confident, and reach their maximum potential. Likewise, Jeremiah 29:11 and Philippians 4:13 continue to be championed as mantras by Christians who want to make an impact on the world.

But of course, these examples are only symptoms, and the solution is not to demonize Christian retailers. Rather, we all must learn to think more deeply about the content of our faith and to refute the errant teachings of the soft prosperity gospel (Titus 1:9).

To aid in that discernment, let me outline five trademarks of soft prosperity, particularly as they show up in sermons and books.
1. Soft prosperity elevates “blessings” over the blessed God.
First, soft prosperity elevates “blessings” over the blessed God. When blessings are divorced from the triune God, compromise ensues. True blessedness resides in God alone, “the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords” (1 Tim. 6:15). By consequence, to seek God’s blessing requires seeking him (Isa. 55:6-7; Matt. 6:33). Christ is the true treasure (Matt. 13:44-46), and any pursuit of blessing that makes God a means to another end is erroneous and idolatrous.

2. Soft prosperity detaches verses from the redemptive framework of the Bible.
Second, soft prosperity detaches verses from the redemptive framework of the Bible. When preachers present isolated verses as time-honored principles for claiming God’s blessings, a counterfeit gospel results. Instead of relating all blessings to Christ, they directly apply individual verses to people today.

Such a promise motivates the strong and extinguishes the weak. Unless a passage is rightly related to redemptive framework of the Bible, verses like Psalm 1:3 become treadmills on which earnest Christians tire themselves out. Genuine Christ-centered expositional preaching prevents this sort of textual manipulation, and guards against the gospel of soft prosperity.

More specifically, soft prosperity delights in the tangible promises of the Old Testament.[3] The error is often found in promising old covenant blessings to new covenant saints. Whenever we read the Old Testament, faithful interpreters must see how the promises first related to Israel in their historic and theocratic state; second, to Jesus who perfectly fulfilled the law (Matt. 5:17); and third, to us. Because we live under the new covenant, there will always be continuity and discontinuity between the Old Testament promise and its contemporary fulfillment. Preachers must learn how to interpret these ancient texts at the textual, epochal, and canonical levels.[4] Likewise, healthy churches must learn to see how every blessing is found in relationship to Jesus Christ, the mediator of the new covenant.

3. Soft prosperity diminishes the curse that Christ bore and the blessing of the Holy Spirit.
Third, soft prosperity diminishes the curse that Christ bore and the blessing of the Holy Spirit. In the Bible, blessedness is not an amorphous idea. Deuteronomy 27-28 specifies the content of the Mosaic covenant’s blessings and curses. Quoting these verses, soft prosperity preachers advertise divine blessings through greater obedience, but they ignore the fine print. Only one man has so perfectly obeyed God’s so as to merit God’s blessing (Heb. 10:5-10). And for Jesus’ covenantal obedience, he was sentenced to death on a Roman cross, accursed for the sins of his people (Gal. 3:10-13).

Perhaps the greatest problem with the soft prosperity is the way it assumes the cross of Christ, instead of adoring the Blessed One who bore the wrath of God in our place (Gal. 3:13). Soft prosperity preachers speak often about what you can do to experience God’s favor, but they rush past the cross, missing the fact that every spiritual gift has been secured for the believer by Jesus, who gives us his Spirit as the preeminent blessing (Gal. 3:14; Eph. 1:3). Although they don’t deny the Romans Road, they are driving on another highway.

4. Soft prosperity relies on pastor-prescribed therapeutic techniques.
Fourth, soft prosperity relies on pastor-prescribed therapeutic techniques. By assuming the gospel, soft prosperity preachers fill the vacuum with a full plate of therapeutic techniques. With the language of Zion, they emphasize the good works of the believer. Although not explicitly denying salvation by grace through faith, pastors who repeatedly insist on life tips, techniques, and strategies for saintly success undermine the faith once for all delivered to the saints.

5. Soft prosperity largely addresses first-world, middle-class problems. 
While the previous four trademarks could in many ways apply to hard or soft prosperity preaching, one striking difference remains. Whereas hard prosperity preaching invites followers to name it and claim it, soft prosperity preachers inspire the upwardly mobile to reach for their dreams. In the former good health and a strong portfolio prove God's tangible salvation; in the latter preachers proclaim a religion of therapeutic solutions. To quote only one of their teachers: "Do I believe in supernatural return on giving? Yes, sir! Do I believe God blesses tithes and offerings? Yes, I do. But why should we teach you to claim a car without teaching you about the car payment and interest rates on loans."[5]

In a nutshell, T. D. Jakes' message promises the same gold, through a different line of credit—superabundant faith mixed with well-ordered works. In short, this softer prosperity preaching appeals to first world, middle class people who are too busy living to examine a message that reaffirms their natural aspirations for success. Tragically, "believers" who buy into this false gospel may remain ignorant of their greatest need—atonement for sin before a holy God—unless confronted with true gospel of Jesus Christ. 

In the end, the tragedy of the soft prosperity gospel is the way it focuses so much on earthly improvements. By offering Christians their best life now, the eternal realities of heaven and hell are lost. This brings the very real possibility that many who hear the soft prosperity gospel are and will remain lost.

In response, Christians must learn to recognize the error of soft prosperity. And we—especially pastors—must prayerfully work to liberate others from it. First we must confess the ways that desires for earthly success have latched on to our own hearts. 

Second, we must present the biblical gospel, which far exceeds the offer of saintly success. We must extol the riches of the true gospel and trust that when God’s sheep hear his call to repent of their sin and cling to Christ, they too will sell their soft prosperity and receive as a free gift the only treasure that counts—Jesus Christ, the only blessed king.

David Schrock is the senior pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Seymour, Indiana.
[1] On the difference between hard and soft prosperity gospels, see Kate Bowler’s revealing study, Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), 78.
[2] In order, Christian Smith with Melinda Lundquist Denton, Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006); Michael Horton, Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2008), esp. 65-100; Stephen J. Nichols, Jesus Made in America: A Cultural History from the Puritans to The Passion of the Christ (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2008), esp. 173-97.
[3] See a list of such verses in Michael Schäfer’s article, “The Prosperity Gospel and Biblical Theology.”
[4] For a helpful treatment of this approach, see Edmund Clowney, Preaching and Biblical Theology (Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R, 1979).
[5] Cited in Bowler, Blessed, 119.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Caroline B. Glick: Obama/Kerry using limitless leverage to emasculate Israel

Caroline B. Glick: Obama/Kerry using limitless leverage to emasculate Israel

On Sunday, Issa Karaka, the Palestinian Authority's minister for jailed terrorists, announced that in the next round of terrorist releases, Israel will release not only Palestinian terrorist murderers, but Israeli Arabs who murdered Israeli Jews in terrorist attacks. 

As late as last week, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was said to have completely rejected the Palestinian demand. But in response to Karaka's statement, Netanyahu's spokesman said only that the release of Israeli Arab terrorists would be subject to the approval of the government. In other words, Karaka was probably telling the truth. 

The question is what has changed? What happened over the past week that forced Netanyahu to cave? The obvious answer is that US Secretary of State John Kerry came to Jerusalem, again. And he forced Netanyahu's hand, again. More

Trouble Brewing in the Canary Islands

Reblogged from http://www.raptureready.com/rap16.html    
Jan 6, 2014

The Canary Islands are a Spanish archipelago located just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa, 60 miles west of the border between Morocco and Western Sahara. There are 7 main islands in the chain with tall volcanoes and steep canyons. The Canary Islands have long been a major tourist destination with over 12 million visitors per year. 

Geological properties that make the Canary Islands popular with tourists also make them some of the most dangerous islands on the planet. Because these islands are made out of brittle basaltic lava and subject to collapse, they have the potential to generate very large landslides. Geologists have found evidence of at least 14 large landslides, which have occurred on the banks of the Canary Islands. Two of the islands are particularly prone to this type of event. 

El Hierro is the smallest and most volcanically active island of the Canary Islands. It is where the most recent landslide occurred—the El Golfo. It involved the collapse of the northern flank of the island. The landslide formed the El Golfo valley and created a debris avalanche with a volume of 111 cubic miles. 

La Palma doesn’t see as many earthquakes as El Hierro, but it has a feature that warrants watching. Following a volcanic eruption in 1949 nearly half of the island’s southern flank, moved westward by several feet. It now has a crack that runs 2.5 miles in the volcanic basalt. This sword of Damocles is waiting for the next seismic event to send it crashing into the sea. 

Energy released by such a large-volume landslide would create a mega-tsunami. Within minutes the coast of Africa would be hit by a deluge of water over 330 feet high. The city of Casablanca, Morocco would be wiped off the map, and almost the entire population of Western Sahara would be swallowed up by the Atlantic Ocean. 

Europe would be impacted within a couple of hours. Cities in Spain and Portugal would see wave heights reaching 120 feet. After four hours it would reach Britain sending water up the Thames River and flooding London with 20 feet of water. The low lying countries of the Netherlands and Belgium would see vast tracks of land swallowed up by the seismic waves.

The tsunami would lose much of its energy as it crossed the Atlantic ocean, but it would still generate a tsunami 80 feet high as it hit the U.S. coast. Only the tallest and sturdiest buildings in cities like New York, Washington and Boston would offer protection from the surge of water. To give you an idea of the power that the people on the American coast would have to deal with, during a previous mega-tsunami, boulders the size of houses were ripped from the shore and carried several hundred feet inland. 

South America would also be devastated. The northern shore of Brazil sticks out directly facing the Canary Islands, and it would experience wave heights of 140 feet.
There is no historic disaster to compare to a Canary Island tsunami. The most deadly tsunami was the one that struck the coast of Indonesia in 2004, killing 240,000 people. A repeat of El Golfo would be 30 times bigger, resulting in a death toll of tens of millions. 

Any one sounding the alarm bell over the chance of a mega tsunami needs to contend with the fact these events take place over large time scales—but recent events make the warning necessary. In the past few weeks, there have been a string of earthquakes around the island of El Hierro. On December 27th, El Hierro saw its largest earthquake ever—a 5.4 magnitude trembler that struck off the coast at a depth of about ten miles. In the week that followed, over 500 earthquakes rattled the island. 

There has been little coverage of the earthquake activity by the mainstream media. I’m sure it’s because the consequences are so horrible that ignorance is bliss. For someone living in Florida, which has an elevation of 14 feet above sea level, there is not much a southern resident of that state could do if they knew an 80 foot wall of water was headed their way at 500 mph. 

There is a positive side to the fact the world faces mega tsunamis and other disasters of equal intensity. Jesus said He would come back to save his church from what will be the darkest hour for mankind. The tremors in El Hierro may be one more warning sign to: Get Ready. 

“And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:8-11, 25-28).

Friday, January 3, 2014

Unity among the body, no divisions

Reblogged from the-end-time.blogspot.com

It is important to pursue unity. It is equally important to know exactly what unity you're pursuing. Paul said,

"I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment." (1 Corinthians 1:10).

Though the liberal, the post-modernist, emerging church would like it to, the verse does not stop here:

'I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united.'

No. Scriptures say we are to be united in the same mind and in the same judgment. Mindless unity among any person whether or not someone professes all the Gospel is not what is in view here. So what does 'the same mind' mean? Matthew Henry's Commentary says,

"In the great things of religion be of one mind; and where there is not unity of sentiment, still let there be union of affection. Agreement in the greater things should extinguish divisions about the lesser. There will be perfect union in heaven, and the nearer we approach it on earth, the nearer we come to perfection. Paul and Apollos both were faithful ministers of Jesus Christ, and helpers of their faith and joy; but those disposed to be contentious, broke into parties. So liable are the best things to be corrupted, and the gospel and its institutions made engines of discord and contention. Satan has always endeavoured to stir up strife among Christians, as one of his chief devices against the gospel.

You see his point. Satan even uses the Gospel to divide. We must agree on the greater things and to do that, we must know what they are.

Amos 3:3 says, "Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet?"

picture by Moyan Brenn on Flickr

Much happens before two people arrive somewhere and then go forth together. They individually and then together study on where they are to go, and what they are to do, how they will get there, and at what time. How will they know where they are going unless they consult and agree, and are friends? Of first importance is that the individual agrees with God in all His statutes, and then the two who are to go walking agree with the basis for their appointment. Then they walk. No one arrives at the designated place and one says to the other, "Ready to go get our haircut?" and the other says, "But I thought we were going to the movies?" They know why they are there and where they are to go.

It is this kind of agreement that Paul has in mind in instructing the Corinthians. He doesn't mean unite with all who profess Christ so that there will be no divisions. Divisions are inevitable and never let a post-modernist liberal tell you otherwise. The Gospel divides. (Matthew 10: 34-37; John 7: 5). Those who adhere to it are always offending those who don't, even within the church of Christ, for there are many tares.

A mindless unity would indicate Paul was saying the Corinthians should unite with Judaizers, Gnostics, and Nicolaitans, so that the body is not divided. But uniting with false professors always divides anyway, that's what Matthew Henry was saying when he explained that satan uses the Gospel to divide. Division is not the issue. If there are divisions over doctrine, that is good. If there is division among those who agree, it is bad. There's a huge difference.

Biblical unity is not nor should be mindless. It is a problem when it is not of same mind and not of same judgment, meaning of the same doctrine and same discipline.

In modern days, false teachers urge us to unite with Mormons, Catholics, Muslims, Jews, any and all people who speak the name God and mention Christ, but in fact there is NO agreement behind it. We hear people say "The three Abrahamic religions" and claim "we worship the same God." Therefore they are not of the same mind and the same judgment. They cannot go walking with a true Christian.

If those I mentioned above agree and then meet to go walking, they will find that they are in fact divided. "I thought we were going to Kolob?" The other one says, "But I thought we were headed to Purgatory?" while the third remarks, "No, I thought we were going to Mecca." And the fourth comments "But we should go to the Western Wall and then to synagogue..." You see? They do not agree after all and should not go walking. There is no unity there.

CC photo by supernovaK

Whenever someone tells you that we should unite in order to reduce division, refer them to Paul's full exhortation and ask what it means to be united in same mind and same judgment. And in case we ourselves are not sure, please listen to this fantastic sermon from Phil Johnson, who goes over exactly what the Gospel is, and the things of first importance that make up its necessary elements. After hearing this, you will know what it means to have same mind and same judgment with other Christians, united in His atoning, bloody death and glorious resurrection.

Things of First Importance (Phil Johnson)
1 Corinthians 15: 1-5

"Walking" by Katherine Johnson, CC photo

Thursday, January 2, 2014



 By Jim Fletcher Prophecy Matters
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The Warrior is about to go to his fathers.
If press reports are accurate, 85-year-old Israeli legend Ariel Sharon is near death. In a coma for almost eight years, "Arik" is slipping from life. Not wanting to falsely anticipate his demise (we still remember the early Titanic headlines: "All Saved!"), I do want to offer a tribute to the titanic personality.

Ariel Sharon
Doctors: former PM Sharon in 'life threatening' state Read more: http://www.bibleprophecyblog.com/2014/01/warrior.html

Have an Ordinary New Year!

Reblogged from www.bibleprophecyblog.com 
Christopher ConeBy Dr. Christopher Cone Tyndale Theological Seminary

Highlights. We are addicted to highlights. We subject ourselves to a continuous media stream telling us what is noteworthy and what isn't. Is it re-tweetworthy? Is it worth a share or a status update? We have come to value style over substance and flash over fundamentals. Of course, nothing is inherently wrong with highlights, style, or flash, but when these captivate our attention fully, we are in trouble. We can quickly lose our appreciation for and connection to ordinary. We have teachers and teachings advocating a kind of Christianity that is radical and a kind of love that is crazy. They tell us we should consider the status quo an enemy and fight to enjoy our best life now, and to make sure we are driven full throttle by purpose. We begin to place ourselves in bondage, wondering if what we are doing is significant enough. We feel guilted into wishing for bigger and better things—for more fulfilling roles and more substantial ministries. But in our zeal for a kind of Christianity that makes a difference or that matters, we have become focused on outcomes and mountaintop moments. In doing so we are prone to overlook something important.
2014 Happy New Year

Be Good at Ordinary

Hosting Jesus, Martha was so busy and distracted with preparations that she was missing out on the simplicity of fellowship with her Lord. Mary, on the other hand, sat down at His feet and listened to His word. When Martha expressed her frustration, Jesus said, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary" (Lk 10:41-42). A few years later, Paul spent time in Corinth making tents along with Aquilla and Priscilla (Acts 18:2-3). He then spent a year and a half teaching the word at Corinth (Acts 18:11). We seem to laud Paul for his apostolic ministry, but we sometimes forget that he often labored to earn an income so he wouldn't be a burden on those to whom he was ministering (e.g., 1 Thes 2:9). We recognize his teaching ministry as vitally important, but fail to consider the menial aspects of his life and ministry as equally important. Even Jesus, during His earthly ministry, spent three years with His disciples—most of that time traveling the countryside doing ordinary things, and having ordinary conversations. Of course, there were the miracles and signs. Of course, there were the great public teachings. But Jesus spent a good deal of His time teaching these disciples in simple ways.

Paul later tells the Thessalonian believers to "make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commended you, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need" (1 Thes 4:11-12). Paul was earnest in his exhortation that the Thessalonians be good at ordinary. In Romans 12:1, we discover something remarkable. Paul exhorts believers to act in light of the mercies of God (those mercies that Paul had spent the previous eleven chapters discussing). He urges believers to present our bodies a living and holy sacrifice. You can't get much more ordinary than that. God doesn't ask for only our best moments—He wants our every moment! He doesn't just want the very best we may think we have to offer—He wants all that we are! Everything we do in this life is done in our bodies. And He wants our bodies as a living and holy sacrifice. But this is a spiritual thing, right? After all, the verse says, "...acceptable to God, your spiritual service of worship." Right? Not exactly. The Greek word, translated "spiritual," is ten logiken (τὴν λογικὴν)—it is the rational, reasonable (or logical) service of worship. It is only reasonable. It is what makes sense. Presenting our bodies to Him is not intended to be some radical or revolutionary idea—it is ordinary! It is the basic expectation He has for every believer.

It is remarkable that we are never told to do great things for God. Instead, we are told to abide in Him (Jn 15), to let His word richly abide in us (Col 3:16), to walk in the Spirit (Gal 5), and to be constantly in prayer (1 Thes 5:17). We are reminded that we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them (Eph 2:10). If we will just walk with Him, we will be right where we need to be, doing what He wants us to do. We are not called to be super-Christians with impressive portfolios of highlights. In fact, the things we consider highlights are often the very things that appeal to our personal pride and not His glory. Further, when there is fruit, it isn't even us bearing that fruit—it is Him doing it in us (1 Cor 3:6; Gal 5:22).

It is sometimes said that Christianity is a relationship, not a religion. Perhaps that is even understating things a bit. Christianity is about ordinary people (1 Cor 1:26-29), who God has saved by extraordinary grace through belief in Christ (Eph 2:8-9), who are given the opportunity to spend their ordinary moments walking with the Creator of all things. To be able to talk to Him in prayer at every moment, to be able to meditate on His word, to be able to share His pleasure in expressing His love toward others, to express gratitude to Him, and to pursue His glory at every moment—there is nothing crazy or radical about these things. They are the ordinary expectation He has for His children. We don't need to worry about whether He will allow us to do great things. We don't need to worry about whether He will use us in big ways. Instead, lets consider what would happen if we just simply focused on Him and ran the race He put in front of us (Heb 12:1-2). Simple obedience, and simple fellowship. Perhaps the specific tasks are different for each one of us. Perhaps one plants and another waters (1 Cor 3:6). Perhaps one is a hand and another is a foot (1 Cor 12:12-27). Of course, there are many roles in the church, and different seasons within each individual life—some highlight moments, and some seemingly far less notable. But every moment spent with Him is the most beautiful kind of ordinary. With Him, every little moment, and every little task is a little taste of eternity and a little sampling of His glory. With Him, we have every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ. That's fantastic, right? Actually, that's ordinary.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

"If you cannot be positive, then at least be quiet"- Christian, before you press share on that Facebook quote...

"If you cannot be positive, then at least be quiet"- Christian, before you press share on that Facebook quote...

There is a quote going around among Facebook that I'd like to address. Here it is:

On the surface, it seems like a good goal, right? In the vein of making New Year resolutions, it seems like a pretty good thing to resolve. I'll press re-share! After all, Ephesians 4:29 says let no unwholesome talk come out of our mouths and speak only what builds up. I'm on board with this.

Wait just a second. I'd like to plea for Christians to stop and think for a moment before sharing or posting. Think of what the quote really says when you consider the source. It is actually a chocloate wrapped cockroach. This quote is exactly the kind of subtle lie that satan spoke in the garden.

When we first meet the devil, we are told off the bat that he is the most subtle creature of all. (Genesis 3:1). He is crafty. Shortly after we were introduced to satan, satan became the god of this world. (2 Corinthians 4:4). He is actually in charge of the world system (as far as God lets him). Since satan is a liar and the father of lies, (John 8:44), and he is in charge of the world system, then the world system is a lie. (HT to Todd Friel for that syllogism).

So what could be harmful or deceptive about such a positive statement as quoted above? It goes like this:

Joel Osteen says it is not positive to speak of sin or judgment- so he doesn't. Even though as a preacher he is supposed to give the whole counsel of God, he decided that speaking of the unsavory things in the bible is "not his calling." He would also disagree on marking and avoiding false teachers as Romans 16:17-18 says to do. Osteen starves his followers of the spiritual bread they need by refusing to speak what he defines as negative, and therefore unnecessary, and only speaks what he deems as positive.

In this subtle way, Osteen gets Christians to remain quiet about confronting sin.

Another way the quote is deceptively harmful to our witness is that Osteen is a Word-Faith preacher.
He says that what we proclaim can impact and even create our reality. Osteen really believes that saying positive declarations aloud will make them come true. This is a false doctrine called positive confession.

"Positive confession is the practice of saying aloud what you want to happen with the expectation that God will make it a reality." (source)

Osteen says negative speech demonstrates that we lack the kind of faith God requires us to show Him if He is going to fulfill the promises He is 'duty bound' to fulfill- but only if we stay positive. However,

"[T]the Bible is very clear that 'negative confession' does not negate God’s blessings." (source)

So in this vein I disagree with Osteen's statement "If you cannot be positive, then at least be quiet," because I know what he means by it- and it is not biblical. Alternately, if a person chooses to remain quiet according to the bible's definition (and the two are NOT the same) then I agree.
  • Ephesians 4:29 says let no unwholesome talk come out of our mouths and speak only what builds up.
  • Ecclesiastes 10:12 says words from the mouth of the wise are gracious, but fools are consumed by their own lips.
  • Colossians 3:8 says But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips,
  • Colossians 4:6 says in part, Let your speech be always with grace,

There is no such thing as a good statement from a false teacher. The bible says, "So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits." (Matthew 7:17-20.)

Even in a case where the statement seems good and wholesome, coming from an evil and devilish source, it means the quote is evil also. It's tainted by its unseen evil agenda. The bible says, “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.”(Romans 3:13).

Throat, tongue, lips; you see that no part of where an evil person speaks from is safe from the venom that permeates their speech before it escapes their body.

Because satan is so deceptive, he packages deception in pleasant-looking bundles. In this way, even a "positive" quote is poison.

The bible is full of admonitions regarding a Christian's speech. And, it has the ultimate advantage of being the most impeccable source. There are many good preachers of the past and present to quote, and it is good to do so. However, if you are unsure of a the quoted person's Christian credibility, you can't go wrong quoting the word of God.


Further Reading

Got Questions: Is there power in positive confession?

Al Mohler: ‘Staying in His Lane’ — Joel Osteen’s Gospel of Affirmation Without Salvation

Two-Minute Warning

Reblogged from http://www.hallindsey.com/
by Hal Lindsey

Sand falls through the hourglass, chimes ring out, a clock ticks, and an alarm sounds. We end 2013 as we began it — in a mad dash down a broad and slippery road running from the height of human ideals to the depth of human depravity.

Biblically, "the last days" began on the day of Pentecost following the ascension of Jesus. On that occasion, Simon Peter stood and addressed Jews who were present in Jerusalem, but who represented far-flung lands and nationalities — a mini-United Nations. He said, "This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel," [Acts 2:16] then went on to quote the prophet.

In our time, we see the fulfillment of the prophets’ words for the last of the last days. Who will stand before this generation and proclaim, "This is that which was spoken by the prophets"?

Jesus taught that only God the Father knows the exact moment of His coming, but that we should watch for the signs of the times. We are not to set dates, but to watch for certain indicators. We will not know the day, but we will know the season of His return. Hebrews 10:25 speaks of us seeing the day of the Lord approach. The way we see that day approach is by seeing the gathering and increasing signs of His coming. In Matthew 24:33, Jesus speaks of those signs, and then says, "When you shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors."

For 21st century football fans, the two-minute warning means a time to stop the game and show some ads on television. It’s a misnomer now to call it a "warning" because anyone in the stadium can look at the clock and know exactly how much time is left. In earlier days, one of the game officials kept the clock on the field. There might or might not have been a stadium clock, but if it was there, it was unofficial. It gave the fans and participants a general idea of the time remaining, but could be way off. So, with two minutes left, the officials stopped the game and notified both sides that there was only a little time left — what you’re going to do, you must do now.

In a long distance race, it’s called the "gun lap" or the "bell lap." With one lap to go, a race official fires a gun or rings a bell, indicating that the race is almost over. What you’re going to do, you must do now.

In the usual process of childbirth, no one knows the exact time of the child’s entry into the world. But as the day draws near, signs accumulate. The mother’s outward appearance reflects the child’s growth. She grows to a point that might have seemed impossible a few months before. Finally, labor begins. The mother’s contractions grow in frequency and in intensity until they are almost constant and usually more severe than first-time moms ever dreamed. Jesus said the signs of His coming would be like that.
We don’t know the day, but we have had the two minute warning; heard the gun and the bell. The birth pangs are extreme and almost non-stop. What we’re going to do, we must do now.

Who will stand before this generation and proclaim, "This is that which was spoken by the prophets"? You will and I will. But . . . what we’re going to do, we must do now.
Now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.
— Romans 13:11-12
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