Forgiveness

February 17, 2019

two women walking

I am continually amazed at the awesomeness of God!  He often leads me to an article or a blog post that I desperately needed to read.  Well, the following one SHOULD,  (IMHO) BE READ BY EVERY PERSON WHO CALLS THEMSELVES A CHRISTIAN!  Yes!  It is THAT GOOD and helpful!

The link is here: Standing in Grace: Forgiveness. The author has given permission to share the post with anyone, so here I am sharing it at my TalkWisdom blog. Please pass this along to others that may need to read this truth about forgiveness!

In Christ,
Christine

*******

Copy of post:

There’s nothing better than being forgiven – that sense of relief when someone overlooks your hurtful words, or covers the cost of a breakage themselves, or gives you a hug after you’ve been unkind. Forgiveness is like the sun coming out through the clouds after a dark storm. Forgiveness, though, is not just something to be enjoyed. For the Christian, forgiveness is something to be understood, appreciated and expressed. It is a significant biblical doctrine and an essential virtue with real warnings for us if it is absent from our lives. The chances are that this is an area you (and I) can grow in, so read on for more.

The Bible doesn’t give us a textbook definition and explanation of forgiveness. Instead, it teaches about it clearly through various prayers, psalms, historical events and parables. Essentially, forgiveness involves the cancelling of punishment and the expression of kindness. When Joseph forgave his brothers in Genesis he did not pay them back for all the wrongs they did to him (Gen 50:15); instead he provided for them, “reassured them and spoke kindly to them” (Gen 50:21). He cancelled their punishment and showed them (and their children) kindness.

In his prayer at the dedication of the temple, Solomon asked God to forgive the people when they sinned so that he might cancel their punishment and show them kindness in the form of rain, freedom or the restoration of land (1 Kings 8:22-52). The same aspects of the cancellation of punishment and the expression of kindness can be found in other parts of the Bible such as the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-31) or the testimony of Paul in 1 Timothy 1:12-17:

“Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.”

It’s important to grasp that forgiveness is costly to the forgiver. Offence and hurt is not simply shrugged off as if it is nothing. The aggrieved father in the Parable of the Prodigal Son gave up his rights, honour and pride to welcome back his son. God the Father gave up his son to secure our redemption and forgiveness of sin (Eph 1:7). Each of us, if facing the question of whether to forgive someone, instinctively feel what we might lose if we do so. Our loss could be things like pride, righteous indignation, relational superiority, or even something too hard to put into words, and thus we hesitate to forgive. There’s no doubt that forgiveness is costly.

That’s probably enough about the basics of forgiveness; let’s get into some points of application gathered under three headings: “We have been forgiven”, “We must forgive others” and “Forgiveness must shape our community”.

We have been forgiven

As Christians, a key part of our identity is that we have been forgiven. Psalm 32:1-2 says:

“Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the LORD does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit.”

This blessing is something we know and love as Christians. God has blessed us with “every spiritual blessing” (Eph 1:3) including the forgiveness of sins (Eph 1:7). Using the terms explained above, God has cancelled our punishment and now shows us kindness.

Forgiveness, though, is not a once off event like, say, regeneration. As we continue to sin we continue to ask God for forgiveness. There is a brilliant promise in 1 John 1:8-9:

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us all our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Confession and the receiving of forgiveness is best seen as a regular habit like brushing our teeth or washing our clothes. In fact, in my prayer diary I have a line on my daily page labelled ‘confession’. It’s there on the (safe) assumption that I have sinned in some way in the last 24 hours and should be coming to God about it. But also I should probably grow more in being quick to confess and ask for forgiveness at any hour of the day when I sin (and am aware of it).  So forgiveness is not a once off thing. Forgiveness is something we ask for and receive from God every day of our lives.

A final point under this heading of “We have been forgiven” is that our understanding of our own forgiveness has a direct relationship with our love for Jesus. If we doubt (consciously or subconsciously) whether we have much need of forgiveness our appreciation of Christ’s sacrifice will be small. Correspondingly, our love for Jesus will also be small. There will be little joy in our Christian life and things like Bible reading, giving, and singing in church will feel tiresome.

In contrast, when we grasp God’s forgiveness for us, we will have a great and growing love for Jesus. This is explained powerfully in Luke 7:36-50 in the account of Jesus being anointed by a woman in the home of a Pharisee (a passage worth meditating on deeply). Jesus concludes his rebuke of the Pharisee with these words in verse 47:

“Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven – as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little”.

The great love of the woman testifies to her appreciation of the forgiveness of her sins. Jesus challenges the Pharisee (and us) about our love for him and our grasp of our own forgiveness. To put it simply, the more we appreciate how much we’ve been forgiven, the more we will love Jesus.

We must forgive others

The second big application is that because of what God has done for us we must forgive others. There’s really no way around this. Although we are saved by God’s grace and mercy and not by our own good works (Titus 3:5) we must forgive others. It may not be easy or quick but God does call us to cancel punishment and show kindness to those who have offended us (not withstanding certain situations such as when it might be unsafe or the offender has died). Forgiveness is not optional for the Christian. In fact, withholding it from others puts our own status as forgiven children in danger.

We see this repeatedly in the teaching of Jesus, for example, in the Lord’s prayer:

“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12).

Two verses on, Jesus explains the connection very clearly:

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14-15).

He speaks about the urgency of forgiveness in reference to our prayer life in Mark 11:25:
“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive your sins.”
When Peter asked Jesus how many times he had to forgive people (thinking that seven times would likely impress him) Jesus replied with the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant (Matthew 18:21-35). The message is obvious: because of God’s great mercy towards us, we should have mercy towards others (verse 33). If we don’t, we will be judged and punished like the unmerciful servant. Jesus warns us:
“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart” (verse 35).
Being an unforgiving Christian is a terrible state to be in. In fact, “unforgiving” is one of the descriptors of ungodly people in the last days:
“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving…” (2 Tim 3:1-3a)

Now again it’s worth stressing that forgiveness of others is not a work that earns for us God’s forgiveness. God’s forgiveness is freely granted, and our forgiveness is nearly always partial, imperfect or ‘a work in progress’. But it does not make sense for us to be selective about forgiveness, i.e. “let it be for me but not others”. Being a Christian is about being a “forgiveness person”. Forgiveness is what we love. Therefore, withholding forgiveness from others puts our own forgiveness at risk.

In practice, how it looks to cancel punishment and show kindness will look different in case to case. It might mean stopping hating the person, not bringing up their fault ever again and no longer criticising them to others. Kindness might mean genuinely praying for their good and speaking gently and warmly with them. Perhaps our pastors can help if we’re not sure.

Now for some of us forgiveness might seem like an impossible task. As we saw before, forgiveness is costly. The world is a dark and evil place and humans have done unspeakable things to each other. So for some of us the cost might feel too great.

Yet the call for us to forgive remains in Scripture. On this point we must remind ourselves that God knows us and our stories better even than we do. We must remind ourselves that despite our suffering, God is a good God and his word (including his teaching on forgiveness) is good and what we need to hear. One of my Bible college lecturers, Mark Baddeley, has written an excellent series of posts on this topic called “Forgiveness and Repentance”.  These are well worth reading, especially in considering more complex issues.*

So forgiveness will not be easy, it might take time – even years, and it might require the help of many people. But the call remains. The next step for you after reading this post might be to talk and pray with someone so that they can help you. But we cannot do nothing. Jesus calls on us to forgive others.

Forgiveness must shape our community

Lastly, forgiveness must shape our community. Forgiveness is not just an individual activity that we pursue alone, it’s something that should be a feature of our whole church community. Our heavenly father is “forgiving and good” (Psalm 86:5) so it’s right that his people should be like him in this way.

When Paul gives a series of instructions to the church in Ephesus he says:

“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Eph 4:32).

And similarly, to the Colossians, he writes:

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (Col 3:12-14).

We see from these passages that forgiveness should shape our community. Forgiveness is the opposite of bitterness and is an expression of love. For the church community, forgiveness is a like the oil in a car’s engine – always necessary so that the whole thing keeps moving. If it leaks out everything seizes up and the car breaks down. If it’s kept topped up and fresh the car can go along fine.

This communal feature of forgiveness also has a missional aspect. Our forgiveness (as an expression of love) testifies to the world about our relationship with Jesus. Being a forgiving community makes us stand out in the world. Jesus told his disciples:

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35).

Being a forgiving church means that as unbelievers visit us and get to know us they will realise that something special is at work here. They will know that we are disciples of Jesus and sense that something supernatural is going on. For many, this will be a reason to investigate more and find out about Jesus.

Conclusion

We’ve covered a lot in this post about forgiveness! Forgiveness is about cancelling a punishment and showing kindness (at a cost). It is something that we have received from God because of Jesus and his sacrifice. It is something we need to pass on to others and it must shape our community.

This topic may be straightforward for you – perhaps you’ve got a few things to bring to God or you might need a small “course correction” in your Christian life. Or the topic might be very raw and painful. Either way it would be good to pray to God now: giving thanks for his forgiveness and asking for help in forgiving others. Please do speak with your Growth Group leader or pastors for help if this is a particularly tough area for you.

A good place to finish is another great verse from the Bible, this time from Micah:

“Who is a God like you, who pardons sins and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy” (Micah 7:18).

*I can’t find Mark’s posts on the internet right now but I have a copy or you can ask your own pastor.

Hat tip:

Standing In Grace.com

Your Soul Has Great Value

February 15, 2019

There are two really good posts that I wanted to share here today.  The first, from Truth 2 Freedom’s blog is entitled, Why So Many Religions and False Teachers?

There are a lot of false teachings in the world. Paganism, Gnosticism, Buddism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Taoism, Confucionism, Shaminism, even Judaism, Polytheism, Pantheism, Deism, Darwinism, Naturalism, Secular Humanism, Feminism, Agnosticism, Atheism, and Islam…ism.

All these different ways to get to God or be a god or deny God. But Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one gets to the Father but by me” (John 14:6).

Of course, not everything that claims to be of Christ is truly of Christ (Matthew 7:21). Like Catholicism, Mormonism, Unitarian Universalism, Oneness Pentecostalism, Heaven Tourism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Eastern Orthodoxy, Word of Faith, the New Apostolic Reformation, and Rob Bell.

So why all these false religions and teachers? Why would God allow there to be so many, many lies? Two reasons: Testing and judgment.

The Bible says of those who refused to love the truth and so be saved, God “sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in their unrighteousness” or their sin (2 Thessalonian 2:9-12).

InDeuteronomy 13:1-4we are told, “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ you shall not listen to that false prophet. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul.”

When it comes down to it, there are only two religions: you either worship the created or the Creator, when we understand the text.

The second one is Five Reasons Why Your Soul Matters.

When our children were very young, we spoke about the soul like this: “I have a soul. My soul is inside me. I can’t see it, but it lasts forever.”

Jim Packer says that your soul is your “conscious personal self,” the “I” that knows itself as “me.” Your soul is the identity that makes you who you really are. It is the seat of your memory, and your feelings, and your imagination, and your convictions, and your desires, and your affections.

In Mark 8:35-36, Jesus says our soul has great value. Do you know why this is? Here are five reasons why your soul matters more than anything else you have.

1.) Your soul is breathed into you by God.

The LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. (Genesis 2:7)

Grasping this is of huge importance in knowing who you are, and why your life is of such great value. Adam was created in two stages. There were two steps in the process by which God gave him life.

The first was that God, “formed the man of dust from the ground.” God formed a body. It was made from the dust of the ground. Now in this way, the man and the woman were similar to the animals: “Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens” (Genesis 2:19).

There is a second stage in the creation of Adam which shows why we are different from animals:

The LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. (Genesis 2:7)

God breathes life into this corpse, and this makes Adam different from the animals. He is more than a body. Adam is a living soul. This soul is capable of knowing God and enjoying God, and it is capable of sinning against God, something the animals cannot do.

This is at the heart of what God is saying when he says, “You are made in the image of God” (Genesis 1:26-27). God has breathed life into you and that life will never end.

2.) Your soul is the source of all your achievement.

The body apart from the spirit is dead. (James 2:26)

Think about everything that is important in your life, and you will say, “Yes, that came from my soul.” Think about this in relation to the world.

Think about music: The symphony, classic rock—where did these things come from? They came from the soul of the composer who wrote it.

Think about art: The ability to depict beauty came through the hands of the artist, but where did it come from? It came from the soul of the artist.

Then think about sports: You may say, “Surely sports depends on the body.” But James says, “the body without the spirit is dead” (James 2:26). Every great sports achievement has come through relentless commitment, disciplined desire, and the determination of the athlete, which is of course in the soul.

When I meet someone who is super fit, I want to say, “This has come from your soul. All the work you have put into sculpting your body came from a desire in your soul. Without that desire that was in your soul, you would be a couch potato!”

All that you achieve in life, everything that is achieved in the world, will arise from the life of the soul.

3.) Your soul is the cause of all your sin.

Each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. (James 1:14)

Where does sin come from? James 1:14 is a very important verse in the Bible because it tells us how temptation works.

Temptation comes to us through the world, the flesh, and the devil. The problem is that, wherever it comes from, it attaches itself to the soul. Our souls are sticky toward sin. Sin attaches itself to our souls.

If this was not the case, then temptation would not be a problem for any of us. If it was pure, then when you saw a house that you couldn’t afford, your soul would say, “I can’t afford that, and I don’t need it,” and you would move on. Because of our sinful desires. When temptation comes, the soul receives it, retains it, welcomes it, embraces it and holds on to it.

The problem is that our souls are not pure. So what happens is that you see something, whatever it is, that someone else has, and you say, “That’s what I want,” and it sticks.

4.) Your soul will last forever.

Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. (Matthew 10:28)

Your life had a beginning, but it does not have an end.

One day you will die and your body will be laid in the ground. But your soul will last forever. So, “Do not fear those who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul.” Your soul has an endless life. That’s why it’s so important. It’s immortal. It has a beginning, but it has no end.

I have a soul. It’s inside me. I can’t see it, but it lasts forever.

Some of you are actively trying to decide if you are going to follow Christ, knowing that it’s costly. You need to know what’s at stake. You try to save your life and you lose it. But Jesus says “If you lose your life to me, you will save it.”

5.) Your soul will experience everlasting joy or misery.

The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. (Luke 16:22-23)

Our Lord tells the story of two men who died. One of them was carried to Abraham’s side. Certainly not the poor man’s body. That would have remained on the earth. So what was carried to Abraham’s side? Not the poor man’s body—his soul!

Then we read: “The rich man also died and was buried,” so everyone knew where his grave was. His body was placed in a rich man’s tomb, with words and dates carved into it. What then was in hades? Not the rich man’s body. It was in the tomb. It was the rich man’s soul!

The point here is very simple: Death takes life from the body, but not from the soul. When you die, your soul goes on to one of two places: One is a place of great joy. The other, according to Jesus, is a place of great torment. And there is a great gulf fixed between them (16:26). You can’t get from the one to the other in either direction.

There is a heaven to pursue and a hell to avoid. You have a soul: Your soul can be saved and it can be lost. To lose your soul is the ultimate disaster, because it is the only loss from which you can never recover.

Do you see now why your soul is so valuable?

[This article was adapted from Pastor Colin’s sermon, “Valuing Your Soul,” from his series Soul Care, Part One]

Five Reasons Why Your Soul Matters — Unlocking the Bible

Hat tip: Truth 2 Freedom’s Blog

Hat tips to all links.

Prayer and Steadfast Truth

February 14, 2019

Read the Bible online, easy-to-read format for online Bible study ...

H/T:  sermoncentral(dot)com

I appreciated reading Michele Lesley’s post What is Contemplative Prayer?

One big reason I liked the post is because it led me to a comprehensive link on Contemplative prayer vs. Biblical prayer over at Berean Research.

Another reason, was because some individuals who adhere to other “paths,” so to speak, (like Buddhism) tried to convince me that transcendental meditation isn’t really the “emptying” of the mind (however, it really is) and is a healthy way to live. I can understand someone feeling that way. After all, if it calms the person down and helps him or her not to panic in a crisis situation, it is understandable that they would want to recommend what has worked for them.

However, at the Berean Research article (linked above), we are informed that this “emptying of the mind” is not wise and certainly not biblical!

From the site:

Definition of Contemplative Prayer:  A form of Christian mysticism that allegedly brings about a mystical union with God

The mystical “spirituality” that is so popular in evangelical and charismatic circles today is a yearning for an experiential relationship with God that downplays the role of faith and Scripture and that exalts “transcendental” experiences that lift the individual from the earthly mundane into a higher “spiritual” plane. Biblical prayer is talking with God; mystical spirituality prayer is meditation and “centering” and other such things. Biblical Christianity is a patient walk of faith; mystical spirituality is more a flight of fancy. Biblical study is analyzing and meditating upon the literal truth of the Scripture; mystical spirituality focuses on a “deeper meaning”; it is more allegorical and “transcendental” than literal. — David W. Cloud.

Contemplative prayer (also referred to as centering prayer, breath prayer, meditation or listening prayer) is one of the most esteemed spiritual disciplines taught in spiritual formation. In both practice and purpose, contemplative prayer stands in contrast with what Scripture teaches about prayer. Practitioners believe that one must clear the mind of outside concerns so that God’s voice may more easily be heard and that one may be united with the “divine spark” within.

Advocates of contemplative prayer believe and teach that it is a necessary practice if one desires to become more like Christ. In claiming this, however, they often appeal to the practices of ancient Roman Catholic mystic monks rather than the Word of God.

Therein lies the key within the argument!  “…they often appeal to the practices of ancient Roman Catholic mystic monks rather than the Word of God.”

If you read the entire article, you will see the difference between “contemplative prayer” vs. biblical prayer.

Here are a few important paragraphs (and Bible verse links) about biblical prayer and why Christians should adhere to them:

Biblical Prayer

Prays according to the Scriptures. Micah 7:7Ps. 4:31 John 5:1415

Prays with both spirit and mind, not one or the other. 1 Cor 14:15

Talks to God the Father (Phil. 4:6) through Jesus Christ (John 16:23) in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Understands that what God has revealed in His Word is sufficient; new revelation is unnecessary. 2 Tim. 3:16–17

Biblical Prayer

Understands that prayer is ultimately a form of worship. It should glorify God alone. John 14:1314

Understands that prayer is an act of reverence, approaching the very throne of God to receive mercy and find grace.Heb. 4:16

Acknowledges and humbles oneself before the holy God of the universe. Prayer should affirm God’s sovereignty and majesty. Matt. 6:9

“Everything in prayer revolves around who God is, what God wants, and how God is to be glorified. That is the sum and substance of proper praying. 10

The Lord’s Prayer (Luke 11:2–4) offers a model of how Christians ought to pray as it “emphasizes the glory and supremacy of God.”11

Purposes to confess sin and acknowledge our position before God as rebellious sinners (e.g., Dan. 9:5–11;Matt. 6:12): “We are neither worthy of the things for which we pray, nor have we deserved them, but we ask that He would give them all to us by grace, for we daily sin much and surely deserve nothing but punishment.”12

Desires to align and submit our will to God’s. Ps. 86:11Matt. 6:10John 15:7;John 16:231 John 5:14

“While God communicates to us through the Bible, we respond to Him in prayer.”13

Pin by James on Jesus | Prayers, Prayer for family, Prayer quotesHT:  Pinterest

I suggest that every born-again Christian bookmark that Berean Research page!  Lots of additional links that will help you to discern truth vs. error.

These days, there are many churches that are being led by those who choose to go in the direction of contemplative prayer (or even worse – into heresies) which can lead people astray.  It’s sad, but true.

Young Christians (or even older Christians who are sadly biblically illiterate) can be easily led away from the true Gospel of Christ.  The Bible tells us that the closer we get to the end times, the more this will happen.

I suggest reading and studying the book of Jude carefully! It is filled with warnings to believers back when it was written!  It is filled with warnings for all believers throughout the centuries up until this very day!

Jde 1:3
Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.

Hat tips to all links.

Prayer and Steadfast Truth

February 14, 2019

Read the Bible online, easy-to-read format for online Bible study ...

H/T:  sermoncentral(dot)com

I appreciated reading Michele Lesley’s post What is Contemplative Prayer?

One big reason I liked the post is because it led me to a comprehensive link on Contemplative prayer vs. Biblical prayer over at Berean Research.

Another reason, was because some individuals who adhere to other “paths,” so to speak, (like Buddhism) tried to convince me that transcendental meditation isn’t really the “emptying” of the mind (however, it really is) and is a healthy way to live. I can understand someone feeling that way. After all, if it calms the person down and helps him or her not to panic in a crisis situation, it is understandable that they would want to recommend what has worked for them.

However, at the Berean Research article (linked above), we are informed that this “emptying of the mind” is not wise and certainly not biblical!

From the site:

Definition of Contemplative Prayer:  A form of Christian mysticism that allegedly brings about a mystical union with God

The mystical “spirituality” that is so popular in evangelical and charismatic circles today is a yearning for an experiential relationship with God that downplays the role of faith and Scripture and that exalts “transcendental” experiences that lift the individual from the earthly mundane into a higher “spiritual” plane. Biblical prayer is talking with God; mystical spirituality prayer is meditation and “centering” and other such things. Biblical Christianity is a patient walk of faith; mystical spirituality is more a flight of fancy. Biblical study is analyzing and meditating upon the literal truth of the Scripture; mystical spirituality focuses on a “deeper meaning”; it is more allegorical and “transcendental” than literal. — David W. Cloud.

Contemplative prayer (also referred to as centering prayer, breath prayer, meditation or listening prayer) is one of the most esteemed spiritual disciplines taught in spiritual formation. In both practice and purpose, contemplative prayer stands in contrast with what Scripture teaches about prayer. Practitioners believe that one must clear the mind of outside concerns so that God’s voice may more easily be heard and that one may be united with the “divine spark” within.

Advocates of contemplative prayer believe and teach that it is a necessary practice if one desires to become more like Christ. In claiming this, however, they often appeal to the practices of ancient Roman Catholic mystic monks rather than the Word of God.

Therein lies the key within the argument!  “…they often appeal to the practices of ancient Roman Catholic mystic monks rather than the Word of God.”

If you read the entire article, you will see the difference between “contemplative prayer” vs. biblical prayer.

Here are a few important paragraphs (and Bible verse links) about biblical prayer and why Christians should adhere to them:

Biblical Prayer

Prays according to the Scriptures. Micah 7:7Ps. 4:31 John 5:1415

Prays with both spirit and mind, not one or the other. 1 Cor 14:15

Talks to God the Father (Phil. 4:6) through Jesus Christ (John 16:23) in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Understands that what God has revealed in His Word is sufficient; new revelation is unnecessary. 2 Tim. 3:16–17

Biblical Prayer

Understands that prayer is ultimately a form of worship. It should glorify God alone. John 14:1314

Understands that prayer is an act of reverence, approaching the very throne of God to receive mercy and find grace.Heb. 4:16

Acknowledges and humbles oneself before the holy God of the universe. Prayer should affirm God’s sovereignty and majesty. Matt. 6:9

“Everything in prayer revolves around who God is, what God wants, and how God is to be glorified. That is the sum and substance of proper praying. 10

The Lord’s Prayer (Luke 11:2–4) offers a model of how Christians ought to pray as it “emphasizes the glory and supremacy of God.”11

Purposes to confess sin and acknowledge our position before God as rebellious sinners (e.g., Dan. 9:5–11;Matt. 6:12): “We are neither worthy of the things for which we pray, nor have we deserved them, but we ask that He would give them all to us by grace, for we daily sin much and surely deserve nothing but punishment.”12

Desires to align and submit our will to God’s. Ps. 86:11Matt. 6:10John 15:7;John 16:231 John 5:14

“While God communicates to us through the Bible, we respond to Him in prayer.”13

Pin by James on Jesus | Prayers, Prayer for family, Prayer quotesHT:  Pinterest

I suggest that every born-again Christian bookmark that Berean Research page!  Lots of additional links that will help you to discern truth vs. error.

These days, there are many churches that are being led by those who choose to go in the direction of contemplative prayer (or even worse – into heresies) which can lead people astray.  It’s sad, but true.

Young Christians (or even older Christians who are sadly biblically illiterate) can be easily led away from the true Gospel of Christ.  The Bible tells us that the closer we get to the end times, the more this will happen.

I suggest reading and studying the book of Jude carefully! It is filled with warnings to believers back when it was written!  It is filled with warnings for all believers throughout the centuries up until this very day!

Jde 1:3
Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.

Hat tips to all links.

20 Passages from George Orwell’s “1984” Book That Have Become Reality

January 28, 2019

Most thinking people who aren’t victims of the “lying, pomposity, smugness and groupthink” crowd (hat tip: Tucker Carlson Tonight) realize the fact that we are living in an “age of animosity;”  not only politically, but also socially, morally, intellectually, and spiritually. This is mostly thanks to the media of mass deception (a.k.a. “Fake News”); as well as the deliberate and shameful censorship of previously successful conservative groups and websites by big tech companies; mostly because the far leftist execs don’t like their content and want to shut them up online. (Hat Tip: Wintery Knight)

Watch this brief video, then come back here.

Fox News: Could the real trouble for Democrats in 2020 be ex–Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz? (Hat tip: Fox News Channel)

I did not know much about the man until I watched the video and read the article. The comments from the Democrat during the interview were measured, but his comments sounded more reluctantly stated than anything else. The Republican, however, had a much better grasp upon the subject matter and didn’t hold back his thoughts regarding Mr. Schultz.

The Bible tells us through Solomon that “there isn’t anything new under the sun.” There has been, and always will be those who are flagrantly guilty of perpetuating “lying, pomposity, smugness and groupthink” (a.k.a. dangerous ideology). It seems to me that such activities are much more ratcheted up over the last 30 years or so; and even more “in your face” since Donald Trump was elected president.

Early this morning, I read a very interesting (and, quite frankly, frightening) post via Truth2Freedom’s blog.. The post originated over at Free Republic which is another website that has often been targeted for censorship.

This particular post, shares how 20 passages from George Orwell’s classic novel “1984” (written in 1949) has becomes a reality.

Here is a copy of the post:

20 passages from george orwell’s 1984 that have become reality

Posted on ‎1‎/‎27‎/‎2019‎ ‎10‎:‎15‎:‎54‎ ‎PM by vannrox

As the back cover of my cheap paperback copy of George Orwell’s masterpiece dictates…

1984 has come and gone, but George Orwell’s prophetic, nightmarish vision in 1949 of the world we were becoming is timelier than ever. 1984 is still the great modern classic of Negative Utopia.

I recently revisited this book after many years of absence, and while reading along I highlighted many quotes and passages which struck me as relevant to the “social justice” zeitgeist of the late 2010’s. To little surprise, I discovered that what the political left seeks in this day and age is well and truly like the negative utopia described in this classic story.

Here are twenty passages from the book which many of us have to live suffer through everyday in “it’s the current year!”

1. Telescreen

The instrument (the telescreen, it was called) could be dimmed, but there was no way of shutting it off completely.

Travelers in U.S. airports are tortured with CNN Fake News which they cannot escape. The numerous “telescreens” may not be shut off.

2. Thought police

The patrols did not matter, however. Only the Thought Police mattered.

3. Gullible women

It was always the women, and above all the young ones, who were the most bigoted adherents of the Party, the swallowers of slogans, the amateur spies and nosers-out of unorthodoxy.

A proud and “diverse” photo of a Huffington Post / Big Brother staff meeting. What can they do to blame white males again today?

4. Female useful idiots

The idea had even crossed his mind that she might be an agent of the Thought Police. That, it was true, was very unlikely. Still, he continued to feel a peculiar uneasiness, which had fear mixed up in it as well as hostility, whenever she was anywhere near him.

5. Monsters of hate

The next moment a hideous, grinding screech, as of some monstrous machine running without oil, burst from the big telescreen at the end of the room. It was a noise that set one’s teeth on edge and bristled the hair at the back of one’s neck. The Hate had started.

6. The opposition

The program of the Two Minutes Hate varied from day-to-day, but there was none in which Goldstein [Donald Trump] was not the principal figure. He was the primal traitor, the earliest defiler of the Party’s purity. All subsequent crimes against the Party, all treacheries, acts of sabotage, heresies, deviations, sprang directly out of his teaching.

7. Conformity

To dissemble your feelings, to control your face, to do what everyone else was doing, was an instinctive reaction.

Vagina-Hat Lemmings of “The Party” at the Women’s March

8. No escape

Thought-crime was not a thing that could be concealed forever. You might dodge successfully for a while, even for years, but sooner or later they were bound to get you.

According to the media, this man is a “pro-rape” advocate who harms women and lives in his mother’s basement

9. Erasing history

People simply disappeared, always during the night. Your name was removed from the registers, every record of everything you had ever done was wiped out, your one-time existence was denied and then forgotten. You were abolished, annihilated: vaporized was the usual word.

Confederate statues being removed in Baltimore, in the middle of the night, and with no public notice.

10. Male useful idiots

Parson’s [Tim Wise] was Winston’s fellow employee at the Ministry of Truth. He was a fattish but active man of paralyzing stupidity, a mass of imbecile enthusiasms–one of those completely unquestioning, devoted drudges on whom, more even than on the Thought Police, the stability of the Party depended.

“Yeah I live in an almost all-white neighborhood in Nashville, and I send my daughters to an almost all-white private school, but white folks are BAD M’kay?”

11. Indoctrinating children

It was almost normal for people over thirty to be frightened of their own children. And with good reason, for hardly a week passed in which the Times did not carry a paragraph describing how some eavesdropping little sneak–“child hero” was the phrase generally used–had overheard some compromising remark and denounced his parents to the Thought Police.

12. Literally Hitler

The enemy of the moment always represented absolute evil, and it followed that any past or future agreement with him was impossible.

Nazi’s are deemed to be the world’s biggest villain, so make sure to portray the enemy of the moment like he is (literally) Hitler

13. Rewriting history

Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. In this way every prediction made by the Party could be shown by documentary evidence to have been correct; nor was any item of news, or any expression of opinion, which conflicted with the needs of the moment, ever allowed to remain on record. All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary.

They wuz Kangz!

14. Fake news

Beyond, above, below, were other swarms of workers engaged in an unimaginable multitude of jobs. There were the huge printing shops with their sub-editors, their typography experts, and their elaborately equipped studios for the faking of photographs.

Fake News CNN up to their usual propaganda

15. Threats to state power

One of these days, thought Winston with sudden deep conviction, Syme [Jared Taylor] will be vaporized. He is too intelligent. He sees too clearly and speaks too plainly. The Party does not like such people. One day he will disappear. It is written in his face.

Some of Jared Taylor’s well researched and informative videos on ‘Race and Intelligence‘ have already been “vaporized” by Big Brother Youtube for failing to march lockstep with social justice.

16. Narrative zombies

As he watched the eyeless face with the jaw moving rapidly up and down, Winston had a curious feeling that this was not a real human being but some kind of dummy. It was not the man’s brain that was speaking; it was his larynx. The stuff that was coming out of him consisted of words, but it was not speech in the true sense: it was a noise uttered in unconsciousness, like the quacking of a duck.

Cenk Uygur: “Quack Quack Quack”

17. Shaping reality

In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality was tacitly denied by their philosophy. The heresy of heresies was common sense.

gender chart

Only “Female” and “Male” are true. But in ‘1984’ world you may identify as an Attack Helicopter. Common sense must be vaporized.

18. Lowest common denominator

There was a small bookcase in the other corner, and Winston had already gravitated toward it. It contained nothing but rubbish. The hunting-down and destruction of books had been done with the same thoroughness in the prole quarters as everywhere else.

social justice library

19. Changing the past

One could not learn history from architecture any more than one could learn it from books. Statues, inscriptions, memorial stones, the names of streets–anything that might throw light upon the past had been systematically altered.

20. Destruction of sex relations

He thought of her naked, youthful body, as he had seen it in his dream. He had imagined her a fool like all the rest of them, her head stuffed with lies and hatred, her belly full of ice. A kind of fever seized him at the thought he might lose her, the white youthful body might slip away from him!

feminism

Before feminism and after feminism

Truly captivating stuff from a literary classic. Also bear in mind that these passages were only taken out of the first 100 pages of the book. Such is the scope of modern-day social justice insanity that many great passages cannot fit in just one article.

Hat tips to all links.

 

Groupthink

GroupthinkHat tip for graphics:  slideshare(dot)net

From Risen movie: “What Are You Looking For?”

January 9, 2019

Risen: Movie Review

I finally got around to watching the 2016 movie, “Risen.”

In one positive review from the Christian Examiner,  Mr. Foust was quoted as writing:

“Michael Foust of the Christian Examiner gave it 4.5 out of 5 stars and called it “a detective-type story that is inspiring and moving.” “Yes, Risen is historical fiction, but it’s largely harmonious with the Gospel story, incredibly well-done, and not much different from those Sunday School discussions many of us take part in week to week,” Foust wrote.”

I did notice some re-arranged events (like healing the leper near the sea of Galilee), but overall I thought that the movie was well done.

Crosswalk’s review was OK. Wikipedia’s was more detailed.

For me, the final words of the risen Jesus that he asked of Clavius were quite riveting!

“What are you looking for?

Certainty?

A day without death?

Peace?”

Certainty.   Isn’t that something that most people look for in this life?

Clavius was a person who saw the resurrected Christ, witnessed the “place your fingers in the nail holes” by doubting Thomas, saw the enormous catch of fish that the disciple caught when they listened to Jesus (who was walking along the beach) when he said to throw their nets on the right side of the boat; and witnessed the healing of a leper. However, most impressive for Clavius was likely witnessing Jesus’ ascension back into heaven!

If Clavius didn’t become a believer through these experiences, then it was a refusal of proof of Jesus’ identity which was shown right before his very own eyes!

Thomas was a disciple who needed proof. When he got the physical proof of Jesus’ resurrection through placing his fingers in the nail holes, he said, “My Lord and my God!”

Jhn 20:29 Jesus said to him, “Thomas,[fn] because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

For me, the Bible provides plenty of proof to enable me to have certainty that Jesus Christ is who He says He is – our Savior, Son of the Living God!

Jesus asks each of us, “Who do you say that I am?” We all must answer that question.

Baubles? Or, Grace Gems!

December 30, 2018

I received several “bauble gifts” at Christmas.  Yes, I admit it.  The nice, pretty, shiny things that are offered in this world designed to make us happy.  And they do, for a time.  But then, I noticed that many baubles that I have received in the past are now sitting collecting dust, faded, broken, or even not usable anymore (like the first Mac computer that has been sitting on an extra desk which I have been dusting off for 20 years! LOL!)  But, when it was the “new” and “latest thing,” it brought happiness – for a time.

Baubles, Bangles n' Beads, Quezon City Cpo - P.o. Box Nos. 1100 To ...H/T:  hotfrog(dot)ph

But take the term “grace gems” which can only be received through God’s written Word, the Bible, and God’s Living Word, Jesus Christ! Twenty years later, the worth of His Grace in my life has exponentially grown in affection, love, and worth!

Embrace God's Grace Part 3: Fear—The Enemy of Grace – Strong Faith ...H/T:  strongfaithchurch(dot)com

These comparisons for me, at least, show the difference between happiness (which can be fleeting) and joy (which, through knowing Christ, is always there and eternal).  The grace of God which surpasses all understanding is the key!  “Religion” is man-made (which can also be fleeting for many).  Faith is God-centered and eternal!

After reading two articles at Truth 2 Freedom’s blog about “religion” and true faith this morning, I thought that I should share them both here at Talk Wisdom.

The first one is entitled, The Real Reason Why Fewer Americans Think Religion Matters — Townhall.

I have noticed as the years go by that not many people send Christmas cards that celebrate the birth of Christ, or share any Bible verses on them.   Most are photos of family (which is fine – don’t get me wrong about this) with secular type greetings like “Happy Holidays.” Actually, that isn’t really a secular greeting because the word “Holiday” is short for “Holy day.” Indeed, Christ’s birth in Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago was a Holy event!

When I read the above article, I thought about the fact that many people can celebrate Christmas without even being “religious” about it. Santa Claus, Christmas trees, gift-giving, parties etc. can all be done without even a thought about the Babe in the manger.

That’s OK, to each their own.

But for me, the biggest reason for the season is the Second Person of the Trinity coming down to be born of the virgin Mary in order to dwell with mankind and teach on this earth.  His sinless, earthly life’s goal was to do the will of the Father;  to suffer crucifixion for OUR sins (in our place), die and be buried; only to rise again on the third day to demonstrate that He is who He said He is – the Savior for all mankind! This tremendous gift of salvation is for all who place their belief, faith, and trust in Him.

The second blog post that I read was truly uplifting, faith-driven and wonderful!

Via Truth 2 Freedom’s blog (On a side note, does that guy ever sleep I wonder? He posts day and night!), I found a link to Grace Gems. I can’t wait to read more at that site, because the following post is awesome!

Here is a copy:

“For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” 1 John 5:4

One of the fruits of the new birth, is a faith which not only enables its possessor to overcome the sensual and sinful customs, and the carnal maxims and policies by which the profane world is regulated–but also the lying delusions and errors by which the professing world is fatally deceived.

The only thing which will or can “overcome the world” is a God-given–but self-exercised faith.

Faith overcomes the world firstly, by receiving into the heart God’s infallible testimony of the world. He declares that “the world” is a corrupt, evanescent, hostile thing, which shall soon be destroyed by Him. His Holy Word teaches that the world is “evil” (Galatians 1:4); that “all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father–but is of the world” (1 John 2:16); that “the whole world lies in wickedness” (1 John 5:19) and shall yet be “burned up” (2 Peter 3:10). As faith accepts God’s verdict of the world, the mind is spiritually enlightened; and its possessor views it as a worthless, dangerous, and detestable thing!

Faith overcomes the world secondly, by obeying the Divine commands concerning it. God has bidden us, “Do not be conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2); “Do not love the world, nor the things that are in the world” (1 John 2:15); and warns us that “Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world, becomes an enemy of God.” (James 4:4). By heeding the Divine precepts, its magic spell over the heart is broken.

Faith overcomes the world thirdly, by occupying the soul with more glorious, soul-delighting and satisfying objects. The more the substance of spiritual realities engages the heart–the less hold will the shadows of the world have upon it. “For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10).

Faith overcomes the world fourthly, by drawing out the heart unto Christ. As it was by fleeing to Him for refuge, that the soul was first delivered from the power and thralldom of this world–so it is throughout the Christian life. The more we cultivate real communion with Christ–the less attraction will the baubles* of this world have for us! The strength of temptation lies entirely in the bent of our affections, “for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21). While Christ is beheld as “the chief among ten thousand” (Song 5:10) and as “altogether lovely” (Song 5:16) –the things which charm the poor world-ling, will repel us.

The world gains the victory over the unregenerate by captivating their affections and capturing their wills. But the Christian overcomes the world, because his affections are set upon Christ and his will is yielded to Him. (my bold emphasis – Christine)

Here–then, we have a sure criterion by which we may determine our Christian progress or spiritual growth. If the things of this world have a decreasing power over me–then my faith is becoming stronger. If I am holding more lightly the things most prized by the ungodly–then I must be increasing in an experimental and soul-satisfying knowledge of Christ. If I am less cast down when some of the riches and comforts of this world are taken from me–then that is evidence they have less hold upon me.

Source: Grace Gems!
A treasury of ageless sovereign grace devotional writings

Grace Gems: Overcoming the world! — Morning Studies

 

Hat tips to all links.

*bauble [baw-buhl]

That word intrigued me a bit so I looked up the meaning of the word at Dictionary.com

noun
  1. a showy, usually cheap, ornament; trinket; gewgaw.
  2. a jester’s scepter.

Origin of bauble

First recorded in 1275–1325; Middle English babel, babulle, from Old French babel, baubel, derivatives of an expressive base with varying vocalisms; compare Old French baubelet “little trinket.”

Related Words for baubles

knickknack, trifle, doodad, novelty, gewgaw, gimcrack, curio, whatnot

*gem
noun
  1. a cut and polished precious stone or pearl fine enough for use in jewelry.
  2. something likened to or prized as such a stone because of its beauty or worth: His painting was the gem of the collection.
  3. a person held in great esteem or affection.
adjective
  1. Jewelry . noting perfection or very high quality:

10 Things You Should Know About Christmas

December 8, 2018

I saw the following post over at Truth2Freedom’s blog back on Dec. 1st (the day after my birthday!) and thought that I should share it here at Talk Wisdom.

The True Meaning of Christmas — Steemit

Christmas can mean many different things to different people.  That’s OK, I suppose, because there is a mix of pagan activities attached to the day, as well as the true meaning of Christmas.  The following list expresses what Christmas means to me, as well as many other born-again Christians.

 

Copy of post:

1. Jesus is the reason for the season.

The primary purpose for observing Christmas is remembering Jesus’s birth. At Christmas, we celebrate Jesus’s birthday, not the little drummer boy or Santa Claus!

2. Jesus preexisted with God in the beginning before the world began.

Jesus’s birth as a baby in a Bethlehem manger doesn’t mark the beginning of his existence. Rather, as John’s Gospel teaches explicitly (John 1:1, 14) and the other Gospels imply, Jesus took on human flesh in addition to existing eternally as part of the Godhead.

3. Jesus’s birth was the culmination of centuries of messianic expectations.

Jesus’s coming occurred in fulfillment of messianic expectations including his birthplace, virgin birth, and other details surrounding his advent. Later, during his earthly ministry and particularly in his death on the cross, Jesus fulfilled many more messianic patterns and predictions.

4. We should distinguish between cultural and biblical Christmas.

We must separate fact from fiction, and historic, biblical truths from mere Christmas traditions. This includes Santa Claus, presents, reindeer, Christmas trees, and other paraphernalia. Not that these customs are necessarily harmful or unhelpful but they are unhistorical. Jesus’s birth, however, isn’t a legend; it’s historical fact.

5. Jesus’s birth is part of a larger cluster of events that culminates in Jesus’s death for our sins as God’s suffering servant.

Jesus wasn’t only born as a baby, he grew up as a young man who knew the Scriptures. Then, when he was about thirty years old, he began his public ministry, healing many, exorcising demons, raising the dead, and commanding the forces of nature. In keeping with his own predictions, he died, was buried, and after three days rose from the dead. While at Christmas we celebrate Jesus’s birth, we should remember that it is part of a life unlike any other that brought us salvation and forgiveness from sins.

6. Jesus, the Son of God, was conceived by the Holy Spirit in his mother Mary’s womb.

At the heart of Christmas is a biological and theological miracle that requires supernatural faith. Skeptics scoff at the notion of God conceiving a child in a virgin’s womb, calling it a biological impossibility and dismissing it as mere legend. Believers will recognize that only a sinless human being could save humans by dying for them, and that such a sinless human being could only be conceived by God himself.

7. There is no incarnation without the virgin birth.

Andrew Lincoln, in his book Born of a Virgin?, has argued that the virgin birth is unhistorical while asserting that the incarnation could still be true in a spiritual sense. This, however, is contrary to scriptural teaching, which keeps the virgin birth and the incarnation together as two sides of one and the same coin. Only a virgin birth allows Jesus to be the God-man who combines two natures—human and divine—into one person as the early church councils went on record as affirming.

8. Jesus’s birth was accompanied by rejection.

Herod tried to kill Jesus (Matt. 2:16). There was no place for Jesus in the inn (Luke 2:7). Even though the world was made through Jesus, the world didn’t recognize him (John 1:11). Many didn’t welcome the birth of the Christ child. The reason for this was primarily that Jesus threatened people’s self-interest. Sinful people love sin more than God and refuse to come to the light lest their sin be exposed (John 3:19–21).

9. Jesus came to make a second, spiritual birth possible for those who believe in him.

As Charles Wesley affirms in “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” Jesus was “born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth.” John writes, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (1:12–13). Later, he tells the story of Nicodemus, whom Jesus told that he must be born again (3:3, 5). Anyone can be born again spiritually by repenting of his sin and placing his trust in Jesus. Those who don’t experience this second birth aren’t believers but Christians in name only (Rom. 8:9).

10. Jesus’s coming marks the ultimate sacrifice.

He left the glories of heaven to enter the world—a dark place—naked, vulnerable, and defenseless. He exposed himself to the human condition and took on “the likeness of sinful flesh” (Rom. 8:3). He became weak, humbled himself on a cross, and died for our sin (Phil. 2:5–8). That—not gaudy commercialism—is what Christmas is all about.

This is a guest article by Andreas Kostenberger, co-author of The First Days of Jesus: The Story of the Incarnation. This post originally appeared on crossway.org; used with permission.
— Read on servantsofgrace.org/10-things-you-should-know-about-christmas/

Hat tips to all links.

Why did Jesus speak in parables?

December 8, 2018

Parable of the Sower - Matthew 13 - Seed, Soil, wayside, stony ...HT graphic:  gbcdecatur.org

That’s a question that Ligonier.org – The teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul answers in a video presentation. There is also a transcript to read.

Excerpt:
He actually answers that question Himself, or gives one answer to it, when He tells the parable of the sower and the soils and His disciples don’t get it. They come to Him and say, “What was that all about?” and He explains it to them.

He says, “I’m giving these explanations to you because you’re my disciples. But one of the reasons I tell these parables is because when I tell the parables it actually makes clear whether people really grasp the meaning of the kingdom or not.” (See Matthew 13:11-17, Mark 4:10-12, or Luke 8:9-10.)

I don’t know if it’s said so often these days, but there was a time when people constantly said to ministers, “You should tell more stories like Jesus so that we can understand.” But Jesus didn’t tell these parables so much so that people would understand. They were really test cases of whether they understood the gospel that He preached in other words. When you think about it, that’s the case.

The Parable of the Sower is the gateway to all of the parables of Jesus.

Parable of the Sower | BibleOpia BlogThis explains why people can be at different levels of belief in their lifetimes.  It explains why people can “fall away” from faith in Jesus Christ.  The Bible is an honest book, telling us the truth about God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, while also informing us about the sins, errors and failings of mankind.

Personally, I have gone through several “crises of faith” in my 64 years on this earth.  A person who once loved (the agape kind in Christ, no less!) my husband and I made a sudden and devastating decision to abandon us.  Why?  Over a simple argument that could have easily been resolved.  In addition, he also rejected any family members, friends, acquaintances that he perceived as “siding” with us.  This occurred over a year ago, but when it first happened I cried day and night for three months.  I thought, how could this person do such a drastic, painful and heartless thing? Where is the forgiveness?  Where is the reconciliation?   I asked and prayed, “God?  Where are you in this?”  Now, I realize that it is a situation that needs to be resolved in the life of this person.  We are just the “collateral damage,” so to speak.  If this person is supposed to be a true Christian, then why this rejection, even after apologizing and asking for forgiveness?

Apparently, a person can reject those that he used to love unconditionally; and be totally indifferent about it.

Last Christmas, the pastor mentioned to pray for those who are in estrangement situations.  Much weeping and sniffling could be heard from the congregation.  I never knew how prevalent the act of disowning family members was until I did some research on it.  Rejection hurts – terribly!  But with faith and love in Jesus Christ, we can overcome.  Why?  Because He has “overcome the world” through His death and resurrection to life!  In eternity, there will be no tears, pain, hate, indifference, warfare, sin, or rejection.  Why?  Because the imperfect world we live in now will be gone, and a new life of love, peace, joy and worship of God will replace all of those negative and painful things that we endure while on this earth!  That is why the lovely list (love, joy, peace, kindness, faithfulness, goodness) in “the fruit of the Spirit” also contains the term longsuffering.

As Jesus told us in Scripture, there will be those who will reject Him – and the Gospel.  Then, why would we ever expect to never be rejected by people who have obviously been negatively convinced against us?  I really don’t know how this person can live with himself.  It’s very sad.  However, people make bad choices all the time and then need to live with possible regret and future consequences.

Moving on with this post.

One of the more popular posts here at this blog is entitled, The Importance of the Parable of the Wheat and Tares.

Within that post, we also read about the Parable of the Sower:

Jesus told us that there will be those who will reject the Gospel in the Parable of the Sower

Mat 13:18

“Therefore hear the parable of the sower:

Mat 13:19

“When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside.

Mat 13:20

“But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy;

Mat 13:21

“yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.

Mat 13:22

“Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.

Mat 13:23

“But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”

As Christian evangelists, we are to “plant the seed” through spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God does the rest! The verses in Matthew reveal the many ways that a person who hears the Gospel either “goes by the wayside,” or, “receives it with joy but only endures for while and then stumbles because of persecution,” or,  “allows the word to be choked out because of the cares of this world and deceitfulness of riches.” All of these can cause a person to become unfruitful.

We may inquire further to discover what Jesus meant when he stated (in Matthew 13:23) “But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it.”

David Guzik has a good commentary about that verse:

d. Good ground: As seed falling on good ground brings a good crop of grain (Matthew 13:8), so some respond rightly to the word and bear much fruit.

i. This soil represents those who receive the word, and it bears fruit in their soil – in differing proportions (some hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty), though each has a generous harvest.

e. Therefore, hear the parable of the sower: We benefit from seeing bits of ourselves in all four soils.
– Like the wayside, sometimes we allow the word no room at all in our lives. – Like the stony places, we sometimes have flashes of enthusiasm in receiving the word that quickly burn out. – Like the soil among thorns, the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches are constantly threatening to choke out God’s word and our fruitfulness. – Like the good ground, the word bears fruit in our lives.

i. We notice that the difference in each category was with the soil itself. The same seed was cast by the same sower. You could not blame the differences in results on the sower or on the seed, but only on the soil. “O my dear hearers, you undergo a test today! Peradventure you will be judging the preacher, but a greater than the preacher will be judging you, for the Word itself shall judge you.” (Spurgeon)

 

Guzik goes on to reveal another aspect of this parable, and it has to do with “good soil” and ultimately asking ourselves, “what kind of soil am I?”

ii. The parable was also an encouragement to the disciples. Even though it might seem that few respond, God is in control and the harvest will certainly come. This was especially meaningful in light of the rising opposition to Jesus. “Not all will respond, but there will be some who do, and the harvest will be rich.” (France)

iii. “Who knoweth, O teacher, when thou labourest even among the infants, what the result of thy teaching may be? Good corn may grow in very small fields.” (Spurgeon)

iv. Even more than describing the mixed progress of the gospel message, the parable of the sower compels the listener to ask, “What kind of soil am I?”

The Ligonier essay continues:

Think about the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14). We all know what the answer is to the question “Which man went down justified?” but that’s only because we don’t really grasp the parable. Nobody listening to Jesus thought it would be the tax collector who went away from the temple justified.

I sometimes say to people, “Just think about these two men. You’re an evangelical Christian. Which of these two are you more like? Don’t you say to God, ‘I thank you that I’m not like other men’; ‘I thank you that you’ve helped me to discipline my life’; ‘I thank you that you’ve helped me to give away money rather than hoard money’? When you begin to think of those things, actually you sound more like the Pharisee.” And that’s very, very uncomfortable: to discover that, even though you trust in Christ, there’s a Pharisee deep down inside you.

Jesus tells these parables to probe inside us to see whether we really understand the gospel and whether the gospel is really beginning to transform our lives.

They’re not just stories. They’re weapons in spiritual warfare.

Hat tip: Ligonier.org

Five Remarkable Things About the Ben Shapiro and John MacArthur Interview – Pulpit and Pen

December 3, 2018

The following discussion between John MacArthur and Ben Shapiro has to be one of the most important and wonderful, biblically-based discussions that I have ever heard in my life!

Take the time to view it!  You will not be disappointed!

Published on Dec 2, 2018

Pastor John MacArthur joins Ben to discuss the intersection of the Bible and politics, the proper role of government, and the similarities and differences between Judaism and Christianity.

Hat tip via: Truth 2 Freedom’s blog (where I discovered the interview).

Also read more at Pulpit and Pen: 5 Remarkable Things About the Ben Shapiro and John MacArthur Interview.

Excerpt:

5. MacArthur gave the clearest presentation of the Gospel imaginable to one of the largest broadcast audiences imaginable.

As Shapiro regularly says, “The Ben Shapiro Show is the largest and fastest-growing conservative podcast in America.” Fans of MacArthur already view him as a giant. Who doesn’t know John MacArthur, after all? He’s epic. He’s a legend in his own time. He’s Johnny Mac, JMAC, J MAC DADDY, the Fourteenth Apostle, the Sultan of Soteriology, the…okay, the last few I just made up. The point is, MacArthur is yuuuge.

But then we must stop to consider that the conservative evangelical world is really small. Mainstream evangelical figures like Greg Laurie, Ravi Zacharias, and Rick Warren (none of whom will be known one-hundred years from now; but future generations will know John MacArthur) no doubt have a bigger media footprint than MacArthur. By this, I mean by virtue of their self-promotion, publicity and appearances. Over the course of a lifetime, MacArthur still puts these men to shame, but my point is that the “typical” American either has a copy of The Purpose Driven Life or seen it on the shelf at Walmart. That’s not necessarily the case with MacArthur’s latest books.

But truth-be-told, MacArthur is not a household name among your typical Trumpkins, your average politicos, your regular owners of the Leftist Tears Tumbler. It is absolutely awesome that MacArthur got on the program to discuss the substance of the Gospel.

4. Shapiro knew exactly where to go to have an intelligent conversation about spiritual things.

This is as commendable to Shapiro as it is MacArthur. While Steven Furtick titled his book, Unqualified, as a “dig” toward John MacArthur, let’s face it… Nobody is going to call up Steven Furtick to have a serious conversation about Christianity and Judaism. Shapiro is known for his intellectualism, and there’s a reason he didn’t turn to any number of fancy-pants, skinny-jeans, steroid-ripped hipster pastors out there to discuss the issue. Could you imagine Shapiro trying to have a conversation on the Bible with Carl Lentz? That’s hilarious (I am actually laughing so hard right now, just thinking about Shapiro trying to have an intelligent conservation with Carl Lentz, I had to pause typing for about 5 minutes). I mean, to think of Shapiro trying to sit across from Andy “Unhitch the Old Testament from Christian Faith” Stanley like some kind of intellectual equal or cognitive peer is (hold on, laughter break…). Okay, I’m back.The thought of Shapiro even attempting a rational discourse with someone from the Passion Conference is hilarious.

No, when Shapiro and his staffers wanted to have an interesting, compelling conversation about faith and the Bible they knew where to go. It was straight to our elder statesman, who is considered far too serious-minded by the latte mafia, but who fit well with Shapiro’s giant brain.

Furthermore, could you imagine Ben Shapiro trying to have a conversation about such things with Tim Keller? Keller would be like nailing Jello to the wall on any given subject, speak in riddles, say some nonsensical rubbish that sounds like one of Jack Handy’s Deep Thoughts but without the humor and Shapiro would just shout, “Cut!” and walk off the stage disgusted.

No, JMAC was the man for this.

3. MacArthur shared the Gospel for a really long time, while Shapiro was mostly silent.

Yeah. Shapiro, silent. Who knew that was possible? I presume the reason for that is that MacArthur carries himself with gravitas. I mean, if John MacArthur is talking, why would anybody talk over him? That would seem dumb, and Shapiro’s not dumb.

Also, it’s likely that Shapiro was just trying to be a good podcast host. But my hope is that Shapiro found MacArthur’s commentary to be compelling, meaningful and thoughtful. I don’t just hope Shapiro was silent. I hope Shapiro was listening. May God give him ears to hear.

2. MacArthur clearly articulated the difference between Judaism and Christianity.

I didn’t really have “fear,” so to speak, but my first trepidation about MacArthur going on Shapiro’s program was that MacArthur wouldn’t spend time clarifying to Shapiro that Jews need Jesus too, or (more likely) it would be edited out of the final production. Instead, MacArthur spoke extensively about Shapiro’s (and everybody else’s) need for Jesus. MacArthur made some of the same points from the Old Testament that I’ve made in my one-sided fantasy conversations with Shapiro.

Furthermore, there wasn’t a hint of hesitation in MacArthur’s voice to confront Shapiro or the listening/viewing audience with their sin. There was absolutely no wishy-washiness with MacArthur whatsoever. And that, frankly, shouldn’t surprise any of us.

My favorite line of the night, by the way, was from MacArthur: “It’s my goal to offend everybody.” Classic. And you could hear Shapiro chuckling at that in the background. Double classic.

1. MacArthur kept pushing back to the Gospel.

I think virtually all of us thought that MacArthur would speak more about Social Justice and political conservatism. Shapiro certainly tried to steer it there. But every time the conversation drifted away from the Gospel, MacArthur would politely lend his opinion on the subject (from ungodly political leaders to the Enlightenment) and then **BAM** back to the Gospel again. Gospel. Gospel. Gospel.

MacArthur was absolutely relentless in turning it back to the Good News. And man, that’s why we love him.

Finally, what stood out to me is that Shapiro expressed genuine surprise and was impressed that so many people (ostensibly, his staffers) were waiting outside to meet him and shake his hand. Really? These are politicos. Here’s John MacArthur who wrote, Politics Can’t Save You, and has never been overtly political. And yet, these mostly young people had so much respect they wanted to shake his hand and meet him, even though they regularly see political celebrities come through those doors.

It kind of makes you wonder how much influence a pastor-preacher can have politically just by sticking to the Bible.


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The mindset in postmodernism is that objective truth does not exist. But in post-truth, the person believes that objective truth exists, but they subordinate truth to their preferences, or their comfort. In other words, one doesn’t care that truth exists or what the truth is if it doesn’t line up with one’s preferences. "There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily" - George Washington letter to Edmund Randolph — 1795. Faith in Jesus Christ is our response to God's elective purpose in our life. These two truths--God's initiative and man's response--co-exist throughout the Bible. The gospel is "the message of truth" because truth is its predominant characteristic. Salvation was conceived by the God of truth (Ps. 31:5); purchased by the Son, who is the truth (John 14:6); and is applied by the Spirit of truth (John 16:13). To know it is to know the truth that sets men free (John 8:32). Believers are people of the truth (John 18:37), who worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24), and who obey the Word of truth (John 17:17). People have rejected, neglected, redefined, and opposed God’s truth for centuries. Some cynically deny that truth even exists or that it can be known by men (John 18:38). Others foolishly think that denying truth will somehow make it go away. Truth determines the validity of one's belief. Believing a lie doesn't make it true. Conversely, failing to believe the truth doesn't make it a lie. The gospel is true because Jesus is true, not simply because Christians believe in Him. His resurrection proved the truth of His claims and constitutes the objective basis of our faith (Rom. 1:4; 1 Pet. 1:3). Truth is our protection and strength (Eph. 6:14). Throughout history, people have tried everything imaginable to gain favor with God. Most turn to religion, but religion apart from Christ is merely a satanic counterfeit of the truth. At the heart of every false religion is the notion that man can come to God by any means he chooses--by meditating, doing good deeds, and so on. But Scripture says, "There is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). That name is Jesus Christ, and we come to Him by confessing and repenting of our sin, trusting in His atoning death on the cross, and affirming His bodily resurrection from the grave (cf. Rom. 10:9-10). There is no other way to God. False religious leaders and teachers talk much about God’s love, but not His wrath and holiness; much about how deprived of good things people are, but not about their depravity; much about God’s universal fatherhood toward everyone, but not much about his unique fatherhood toward all who believe in His Son; much about what God wants to give to us, but nothing about the necessity of obedience to Him; much about health and happiness, but nothing about holiness and sacrifice. Their message is full of gaps, the greatest of which leaves out a biblical worldview of the saving gospel and replaces it with the worldview of postmodernism with its dominant ethical system of relativism. The Bible describes mankind in the end times: “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 3:7). Spiritual answers cannot be deduced by human reason alone (1 Cor. 2:14). It’s not that spiritual truth is irrational or illogical, but that human wisdom is defective, because it’s tainted by man’s sinfulness, and unable to perceive the things of God. That is why the Bible is so important. It gives us the answers we can’t find on our own. It is God’s Word to mankind. Scripture is divinely revealed truth that fills the vacuum of spiritual ignorance in all of us. Post-truth is the word of the year for 2016 and also the philosophy of the day, According to the dictionary, “post-truth” means, “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Simply put, we now live in a culture that seems to value experience and emotion more than truth. In a “post-truth” world, people make choices based on emotion and experience rather than objective fact. So in a post-truth world, truth is irrelevant. What exactly is a post-truth culture? It’s a culture where truth is no longer an objective reality. It has become subjective. It’s what’s true for me—my beliefs, my opinions, determine my truth. So in our post-truth culture, man determines truth. Man makes himself the ultimate authority. This starting point, which rejects God’s Word and the idea of moral absolutes, makes truth subjective. Truth will never go away no matter how hard one might wish. Christianity is grounded in objective truth. “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Objective truth exists because we have God’s Word. In the Gospel of John, Jesus says, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Thy word is truth” (John 17:17), and Paul and James describe the Bible as “the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15; James 1:18). The Psalmist says, “The entirety of your word is truth” (Psalm 119:160). Jesus Himself said, “For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (John 18:37). When Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except by me” (John 14:6), He wasn’t expressing His personal belief or opinion. He was speaking the truth, a fundamental reality that doesn’t change from person to person. It doesn’t matter if our culture thinks all roads lead to God. 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