Posts Tagged ‘Jesus Christ’

Jesus, His Life

April 4, 2019

The History Channel has a series this Spring entitled, “Jesus, His Life.”  I was excited about it because I first heard about it on my favorite radio station, KLOVE.  The announcer stated that The History Channel financially supports (along with listeners who donate) KLOVE.

It was during the second episode where I found some assumptions made by the narrators that were not biblically accurate.  During Jesus’s baptism by John the Baptist, the claim was made that up until that time, Jesus didn’t really know who he was. Well, that is definitely not true!  Recall the account in the Bible when Jesus (age 12) was in the Temple (reading and commenting on the Torah – to the amazement of the listeners), and his parents were frantically looking for him?  What did Jesus say?

Luke 2:49 – And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me?  Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?

The historical information included in the series is interesting.  However, I wish that they had done more research in the Scriptures and/or gotten input from biblical scholars.

I recently ran across a new blog entitled Eye Of Prophecy…watch and wait.  Underneath, was a quote from Rev. 19:10 – For the essence of prophecy is to give a clear witness for Jesus.”

I found the post entitled, “Messiah’s Amazing Appearances Before He Was Born” quite fascinating and Biblically solid teaching!   I was reminded of my studies in Bible Study Fellowship years ago that covered Jesus’ pre-incarnate appearances in the Old Testament.  The post is very long, but worth reading!

Excerpt:

In one of several spectacular visions that John recorded in the book of Revelation, we read this bout Jesus Christ and his remarkable redemption for mankind that is truly universal in scope.

“…You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals and open it.  For you were slaughtered, and your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.  And you have caused them to become a Kingdom of priests for our God.  And they will reign on the earth.  Then I looked again, and I heard the voices of thousands and millions of angels…And they sang in a mighty chorus:

‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered–to receive  power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing'” (Revelation 5:9-12)

This powerful passage is looking back with deep indebtedness to Messiah’s First Advent (appearance); and looking forward triumphantly to his Second Advent (return appearance).  Both Advents are the heart and soul of the Christian faith — a New (and better) Covenant birthed from a Judaic Old Testament heritage which also experienced appearances of the Messiah.

(Jesus came first as the sacrificial Lamb of God for redemption.  He will return as the Lion from the Tribe of Judah to rule and reign on the earth)

Read more at link above!

 

 

 

 

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

Amidst A Hostile World

November 9, 2018

While scanning my reader feed this morning, the phrase “amidst a hostile world” jumped out at me.  It was mentioned in a post regarding the political, social, and even religious climate here in the United States.  There is no doubt about that fact.  There seems to be no end to the hostilities.

But before I get to that post, I wanted to share a text conversation with my daughter that includes sadness about one of the prevailing social ills that plagues us more and more as the years go on.

She wrote:

“I’m so sad today over this news (the killings at the CA country music club).  I’m so scared for my babies to grow up in this world.  It’s just so horrible.  You aren’t safe anywhere.”

My response:

I know, honey.  I’m sad too and I worry about our family – especially the children.

You are a wonderful mom!  You keep Lucy close and safe.  You never take chances and I’m so glad you are smart about that.  You all are always in my prayers for protection.

It’s especially unnerving because it happened so close to your home.

She wrote:

Thank you mama.  Being a mom is so wonderful but it also fills you with worry.  You just want to protect your little ones!  Thinking of all the moms who lost their college-aged children.  I can’t even imagine how they feel.

You’re right it is especially unnerving because it’s so close.  Tyler said he grew up going there all the time.

My response:

I know that kind of worry so well.  When you went off to college, it was really tough.  But I didn’t want to hover over you so you could grow.

So sorry to hear that Tyler knew the place and went there years ago.  Terribly sad!

I think there are too many people (ex military too) with mental disorders not getting treatment and help.

Too much killing and violence is glorified on TV, in movies, video games etc.

Personal relationships suffer because of devices and social media being substituted for genuine interaction.

Too much hate is being spewed at people who disagree politically and/or otherwise.

In my early years, there weren’t so many fears as today.  But I’ll never forget when it started – it was when President Kennedy was killed (I was 9 yrs. old), then Martin Luther King Jr., then Bobby Kennedy.  America went downhill from there, IMHO.

She wrote:

You’re so right!  It just continues to get worse.  I think it’s gotten much worse since I was a kid.  I remember Columbine but don’t remember any other school shootings when I was a child.  And then it seems like after 9/11 we just have tragedy after tragedy.  The last 5-7 years have been insane.  So much violence and hatred.  Everyone just needs love.  Love is the answer!  Love and God!

My response:

You’re attitude is wonderful!  God is love so keep believing and sharing your love.

It’s tough when we only see the here and now.  But in eternity, all will be made right and understood.  (Hope I’m not too preachy today.)

Here’s a quote I recently read:

“I have decided to stick with love.  Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

– Martin Luther King, Jr.

She wrote:

That’s one of my favorite quotes!

My response:

You gave me an instant smile!

She wrote:

Love you mama.

There is a bit more to add to that conversation, but I’m waiting until a proper time to share it.

*******

Lately, the political divide has been ratcheted up between the differing beliefs (mostly political) of leftist Christians vs. Christians on the right.

Here’s a good (but sad) example:

Religious Left Thinkers: “No Middle Ground” with Nationalists

I suggest reading it all.  These excerpts do give us an idea of why the “religious left thinkers”  think the way they do.

Snyder and Burton condemned a form of nationalism that Snyder in his book labeled “Christian Fascism.” Advocates claim their nation is part of Christendom, and then assert, “We just are a Christian country no matter what we do,” said Snyder. He said this ideology is used to justify attitudes and actions that are anti-Muslim, anti-Mexican, and anti-immigrant. Snyder warned that these ideas have become ascendant in Russia, Poland, and Hungary, but now, “there’s an awful lot of that going on in the U.S.”

While Snyder and Burton never precisely identified the agents of Christian Fascism in America, they referred to them variously as the Christian right, Christian nationalists, white nationalists, people who listen to Fox News, and “people like Mr. Trump.” They spent less time discussing the opponents of this group, but usually referred to them with the labels “we” and “us.”

So, those of us who believe in protecting our borders from illegal immigration should be accused as being “anti – (fill in the blank)”?

So, born-again Christians are now being re-labeled as “Christian Fascists?”

I think that what the “religious left thinkers” are missing are some very important facts!  The term “evangelicals” can (and does) include a myriad of people who profess to be Christians.  Some have very different political views.  Sadly, not all of them may hold to the truths of the Bible; especially those truths that have been taught to us by Jesus in God’s Word.

[For a good example, please read Evangelicals Earn “F” on Beliefs about the Trinity]

Excerpt:
In Hebrews 4:14 and 10:23, Christians are exhorted to “hold fast our confession” amidst a hostile world. Evangelicals across the U.S. need to engage more deeply with the theological truths of Christianity, so we will recognize false doctrines when they come.

The book of Jude warns us that the closer we get to the end times, the more that all different types of people will “have crept in unnoticed” in order to “turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God[fn] and our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Christianity Today shares even more from the survey. I appreciate this conclusion:

Snyder blamed the overall lack of orthodoxy on the fact that “most evangelicals churches have largely abandoned catechesis (or a functional equivalent). … Theologically informed discipleship is mostly absent from churches.”

“The survey underscores our desperate need for sound doctrinal teaching in the local church,” agreed Jones. “I fear that we’re spending too much time in cults of personality around charismatic superstar pastors, who often focus more on their personal theological idiosyncrasies and pet ideas than on basic Christian orthodoxy.”

She found the results of the survey to be a call to action: “People are hungry for orthodoxy. Church leaders need to feed them.”

I would add that the importance of studying the Bible will help Christians to discern truth from error.

Hat tips to all links.

How Do I Get to Heaven? Unlocking the Bible.

October 25, 2018

Graphic:  newriversinternational(dot)org

How do I get to heaven? The story of the thief on the cross makes the answers to this question crystal clear—this man had no works to offer, either before or after his salvation. His salvation was only by grace of God. A. W. Pink asks:

What could he do? [The thief] could not walk in the paths of righteousness for there was a nail through either foot. He could not perform any good works for there was a nail through either hand. He could not turn over a new leaf and live a better life for he was dying.[i]

Truth can always be twisted by perverse people. The wonderful truth that God saves by grace, through faith and without works is no exception. A man said to Spurgeon, “If I believed that, I would carry on in a life of sin,” to which he replied, “Yes, you would!”[ii]

But the redeemed heart loves Christ. The forgiven sinner has a desire to please his Lord.

If the thief had been rescued from the cross and lived another 30 years, he would have lived a new and different life, but he did not have that opportunity. The fact that he entered paradise shows us with great clarity where our salvation lies.

Our salvation in Christ involves three marvelous gifts—justification, sanctification and glorification. Justification is the gift by which our sins are forgiven, sanctification is the gift by which we grow in the likeness of Christ, and glorification is the gift by which we enter into the everlasting joy of heaven. If you get that, you get the Christian life.

Graphic:  wordblessings(dot)com

Christ Justified Us

Now think about what happened to this man. He was justified and glorified on the same day! He completely bypassed sanctification! This man missed out on the entire Christian life—no battles with temptation, no struggles with prayer. He was not baptized, he never received communion, and he did not become a member of any church.

Let’s return to our question: How do I get to heaven? Here’s what this story tells us: Entrance to heaven comes through justification, not through sanctification. You enter heaven by forgiveness and through the righteousness that Jesus gives you. You do not enter into heaven by the Christian life.

The New Testament repeats this theme again and again:

A man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. (Galatians 2:16)

He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. (Titus 3:5)

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

It’s always true that where faith is birthed, works will follow, but salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. This is the good news that your acceptance with God does not depend on your performance in the Christian life.

Where would you be if Christ said, “I forgive you, but I’ll be watching to see how you do from now on.” What kind of love is that? “I forgive you, but make sure you don’t mess up again.” When you read the words “not by works,” rejoice. If it wasn’t for this, you’d be sunk because your Christian life is not what you want it to be and neither is mine.

Christ Gives Complete Assurance

“Today, you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)

Don’t you just hate the business of waiting for exam results? You do the test, hand in your paper, and then you have to wait. Can you imagine living your whole life waiting for the results? Imagine praying every day, serving every week, and then wondering, “Will I make it into heaven? Or will I spend eternity in hell?”

When the man says, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom,” Christ does not say, “We’ll have to wait and see.” He doesn’t say, “It’s rather late in the day for you to think about repentance now. Look at all the years you’ve wasted!” No, Jesus says, “Today, you will be with me in paradise!”

The Son of God brings the declaration of the last day forward for all who put their trust in him. Do you see how the gift of assurance flows from Christ saving us by grace, through faith, and without works? If our works were in any way involved in our gaining entrance into heaven, assurance would be impossible.

If salvation rested on our works in any way, all assurance would be arrogance because it would be saying “I’ve done the necessary works.” Salvation depends not on your works for Christ, but on Christ’s work for you. His work is finished. It’s perfect and complete. You can rest your life, death, and eternity on him with complete confidence.

Heaven Is Nearer Than You Think

Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). Christ is the Lord of paradise. He holds its keys. There can be no higher assurance than his promise. That’s why the apostle Paul says, “It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns?” (Romans 8:33-34).

Graphic: pinterest(dot)com

Death does not lead to a long period of unconsciousness. Nor does it lead, for the believer, to a long process of being prepared. For a Christian believer, death is an immediate translation into the joys of life at the right hand of God. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.

Christian, heaven is much nearer than you think. “Today you will be with me in paradise.”

[This post was adapted from Pastor Colin’s sermon, “Breakfast with the Devil, Supper with the Savior,” the second sermon in his series, 7 Words from the Cross.][Photo Credit: Unplash]
_______
[i] A. W. Pink, “The Seven Sayings of the Savior from the Cross,” p. 34, Baker, 2005
http://www.amazon.com/Seven-Sayings-Saviour-Cross-Arthur/dp/0801065739/
[ii] C. H. Spurgeon sermon, “Election and Holiness” March 11, 1860
http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0303.htm

How Do I Get to Heaven? — Unlocking the Bible

Graphic:  thereshope(dot)org

Hat tip: Truth2Freedom’s Blog

Basic Training – Being Berean: 8 Steps for Comparing Teaching to Scripture by Michelle Lesley

September 14, 2018

In the past here at Talk Wisdom, I have often mentioned the need for Christians to be “Berean” in their beliefs regarding discernment while examining the Scriptures and also when sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  My previous posts are listed at this link.

Today, I found a great blog written by a Christian woman named Michelle Lesley.  Her recent post entitled Basic Training Being Berean: 8 Steps for Comparing Teaching to Scripture is one of the best I have ever found on this topic!

The post is excellent and very thorough in describing exactly why we, as Christians, need to follow the “Berean Way.” It is also a guideline on discernment when evaluating churches, the pastors that lead them, the teachings that are given at churches as well as the various teachings one may find through all of social media online.  The importance of utilizing  discernment and the “plumb line of Scripture” is that which establishes what we are to deem as truth vs. error by those who claim to be Christians.

Excerpt:

How do you know if what your pastor, you Sunday School teacher, your favorite podcast preacher, or your favorite Christian author is teaching you matches up with what the Bible actually says?

Did you know that you’re supposed to examine what you hear and read by the measuring stick of Scripture and reject anything that conflicts with it? Or do you just take for granted that if someone is a pastor, teacher, or Christian celebrity, he must know what he’s talking about, and what you’re hearing or reading must be biblical Christianity?

If you didn’t know you need to examine what you’re being taught, or you’ve always just assumed that if someone calls herself a Christian teacher what she’s saying must be biblical, sadly, you are not alone. In fact, you are in the overwhelming majority of the visible church. I’ve been a faithful church member all my life and, to this day, in the churches I’ve attended, I’ve never heard a pastor or teacher proactively preach or teach this biblical concept. I was nearly forty when I “stumbled across” the concept of being a good Berean – through a para-church ministry.

What does it mean to be a Berean, or discerning, or to “test the spirits”?

The term “Berean” comes from a little story in Acts:

The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men.
Acts 17:10-12

“Testing the spirits” comes from 1 John 4:1:

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

Some Christians have an extra measure of discernment – “distinguishing between spirits” – as a spiritual gift:

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit;…to another [is given] the ability to distinguish between spirits,
1 Corinthians 12:4,10b

But all of these passages have the same foundational concept. All Christians are to believe what rightly handled, in context Scripture teaches, and reject whatever contradicts it. Although it is the responsibility of our pastors and church leaders to teach and lead us to distinguish between true and false doctrine, we are not to depend solely on others to “do discernment” for us. We need to learn how to be good Bereans ourselves.

How do we go about that?

 

Read the rest HERE.

 

Hat tips to all links and graphic sites.

Jesus On The Problem of Evil – Stand To Reason

June 1, 2018

This morning, I read a very hard-hitting essay over at Truth 2 Freedom’s blog regarding the problem of evil in this world.

[Note: Scroll down past the long introduction to read the post]

This problem can often be used by those who don’t believe in Jesus as an excuse, or even the ultimate reason to be an atheist or agnostic in their individual personal beliefs regarding Jesus and God the Father.

Several months ago, a young man (who is not a Christian) attended church with our family.  The pastor had pointed out this portion of Scripture during the sermon:

Unchecked Copy BoxJer 17:9“The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked;
Who can know it?*

After the service, our guest complained that such a thing can’t be true of everyone, and he objected to the pastor using that Scripture to make his point.

Well, I sympathized with our guest over the harshness of that verse. No one wants to think of their own “heart as deceitful” or “desperately wicked.” To cool the fire of his objection, I shared the next verse with him:

Jer 17:10
I, the LORD, search the heart,
I test the mind,
Even to give every man according to his ways,
According to the fruit of his doings.**

The LORD searches our hearts!  So, it DOES MATTER what we hold in our hearts, what we think in our minds, and what we do during our lifetime on this earth!

From Truth 2 Freedom’s blog:

In Luke 13:1–5, we have Jesus’ clearest teaching on the problem of evil:[1]

Jesus’ answer to the problem of evil is that all fallen, unregenerate sinners born in Adam are worthy of death. Whether we die by murder, accident, or disease isn’t anything more than we deserve. It is only by God’s grace that anyone is saved, and it is only by God’s mercy that anyone is kept alive.

What implications does this have for Christian apologetics? At least three:

First, it means that Christian apologists need to take the consequences of sin and the reality of human depravity seriously when addressing the problem of evil.

Second, when addressing the problem of evil, Christian apologists need to present a theodicy that minimally includes the biblical teaching of original sin and human depravity. Why God allows evil won’t make sense unless we have the problem of sin clearly before us.

The subject of sin is vital knowledge…. If you have not learned about sin, you cannot understand yourself, or your fellow-men, or the world you live in, or the Christian faith. And you will not be able to make head or tail of the Bible. For the Bible is an exposition of God’s answer to the problem of human sin and unless you have that problem clearly before you, you will keep missing the point of what it says.

The same is true for the problem of evil. The subject of sin is essential because in raising the problem of evil, the skeptic must put forth an anthropodicy (justification of man) by arguing that man is “basically good” and God is unjust for allowing the suffering and evil He does. In response, the theist must show these assumptions to be false and, in their place, put forth a theodicy (justification of God) that includes evidencing the depths of human depravity and arguing that God has morally sufficient reasons for allowing the evil that He does. Until we clearly articulate and defend the gravity of sin as well as the universal corruption and guilt of humankind, many of our answers to the problem of evil will largely remain unpersuasive.[4]

Third, the present moral and natural evils we see are appropriate segues into our need to practice and preach repentance in light of the final eschatological judgment. Those who experience such evils are not any more deserving. Rather, these disasters serve as warnings to all of us that final disaster awaits everyone who remains hardhearted and unrepentant. Clay Jones concludes,

So when disaster strikes, let us not wring our hands over the mysterious ways of God but encourage everyone to reflect on their sinful and doomed state in hopes that some will escape the Final Disaster that awaits the ultimately unrepentant.

Hat tips to all links.

*******

* Portion of a Commentary by David Guzik

3. (Jer 17:9-10) The folly of trusting one’s own heart.

“The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked;
Who can know it?
I, the Lord, search the heart,
I test the mind,
Even to give every man according to his ways,
According to the fruit of his doings.

a. The heart is deceitful above all things: To this point the Prophet Jeremiah has given some reason to be cautious about the inclinations and direction of the heart. He noted how the evil heart of the people of Judah had led them astray.
· Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but everyone followed the dictates of his evil heart (Jeremiah 11:8) · They prophesy to you a false vision, divination, a worthless thing, and the deceit of their heart (Jeremiah 14:14) · Each one follows the dictates of his own evil heart, so that no one listens to Me (Jeremiah 16:12)
b. The heart is deceitful above all things: Our hearts often deceive us, presenting heart-fulfillment as the key to happiness. What we desire is often not what we need. The advice “be true to your heart” fails when the heart is deceitful above all things.

i. “In the OT usage the heart signifies the total inner being and includes reason. From the heart come action and will.” (Feinberg)

ii. “The pravity and perversity of the man’s heart, full of harlotry and creature confidence, deceiving and being deceived, is here plainly and plentifully described; and oh that it were duly and deeply considered.” (Trapp)

c. And desperately wicked: The heart is not only deceitful, but also wicked – and desperately so. Many have been led to rebellion, disobedience, and great sorrow by following their heart, without challenging their heart and judging it by the measure of God’s truth. “Follow your heart” is poor advice when the heart is desperately wicked.

i. The sense of the Hebrew for desperately wicked seems to have sickness more than depravity in mind. “Unregenerate human nature is in a desperate condition without divine grace, described by the term gravely ill in verse 9 (RSV desperately corrupt, NEB desperately sick).” (Harrison)

d. Who can know it? The heart’s deceit and wickedness are advanced enough that even the individual may not know or understand their own heart, and outsiders have even more difficulty in discerning the heart of others.

** Portion of a Commentary by David Guzik:

e. I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind: Though knowing the heart of one’s self or others is difficult and sometimes impossible, God searches, tests, and knows the heart and mind. It is wise to trust what God says about us more than what we think or feel about ourselves.

i. I test the mind: “A second word is here set in parallel to heart, literally, ‘kidneys’, hidden depths. These, Yahweh assays or ‘tests’…the two terms ‘heart’ and ‘kidneys’ cover the range of hidden elements in man’s character and personality. Nothing is hidden from Yahweh.” (Thomspon)

ii. “The Lord is called by his apostles, Acts 1:24, kardiognwsthv, the Knower of the heart. To him alone can this epithet be applied; and it is from him alone that we can derive that instruction by which we can in any measure know ourselves.” (Clarke)

f. Even to give to every man according to his ways: Because God perfectly knows the heart and mind of man His judgment is true. God knows to what extent the heart either justifies or condemns the doings of a man or woman.

In his commentary, Mr. Guzik includes:

1. 4. (Jer 17:11) The folly of trusting in riches.

2. 5. (Jer 17:12-13) The folly of failing to trust in the God of all glory.

3. 1. (Jer 17:14-17) A prayer for deliverance and defense.

Ultimately, we all need to pray a prayer for deliverance and defense!

David Guzik writes:

a. Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: In contrast to the foolish people of Judah who trusted in man, in their own heart, or in riches, Jeremiah looked to Yahweh, the covenant God of Israel. Jeremiah was confident that healing or salvation from the Lord would be true healing, true rescue.

i. It’s hard to say if the healing Jeremiah cried out for was literal or spiritual in nature, and in the bigger picture it doesn’t really matter. Either need is real, and God’s ability to heal both our physical and spiritual need is true and proven.

b. You are my praise: Even in his need of healing and salvation, Jeremiah could praise God, even making God Himself his praise. Though in pride others demanded an immediate revelation of God and His power, Jeremiah was willing to wait and trust in the Lord.

c. As for me: In a series of brief statements, Jeremiah defended and justified his ministry before God. He did this to contrast himself with those who demanded God bring immediate revelation and resolution.

· I have not hurried away from being a shepherd that follows You: Jeremiah was confident in his pursuit of God’s call on his life.

· Nor have I desired the woeful day: Jeremiah spoke much of the judgment to come, but he did not desire it. It was a painful message for him to deliver.

· You know what came out of my lips: Jeremiah could appeal to God as the One who heard and judged his message, seeing that it really was faithful to the voice and the heart of God.

· You are my hope in the day of doom: Jeremiah proclaimed his trust and hope in God alone, not in the folly of most of the people of Judah.

Discernment Through Christ, With Love Incorruptible

May 3, 2018

On Monday, May 2, 2018, I watched a Dr. Phil show about a young woman who was brought into a cult group known as “The Church of Wells.” Readers can see several videos about this cult at YouTube.

Here is one video describing the two-part broadcast on this cult:

I saw the second broadcast which was mostly about the tragic story of the Grove family whose daughter has been there since 2013. She tried to escape four times.

Parents:

A photo of their daughter before she was brainwashed and indoctrinated:

A photo after years with the cult:

It was truly heartbreaking and very sad to hear how desperately grieved the parents were over the mind control and indoctrination that made their daughter into a completely different person!  Apparently, she made it home one time but left and returned to the cult.  Sometimes, the mind control is so strong that it renders the victim helpless to break out of it.

The “church” building is creepy!

The “elders” are creepy!

 

 

*******

Can “love” be corrupted?  I think so.  It can be corrupted,  by unregenerate people who utilize obviously extremely wicked, heinous and vile techniques and ideas on others, as well as those who are more sneaky and subtle in their “counseling” approach.  “Discernment is not knowing the difference between right and wrong.  It is knowing the difference between right and almost right.”C.H. Spurgeon

 

You might think that Christians would know to avoid such obvious examples of cult behavior and severe indoctrination techniques (i.e. secretly drugging them through water given; plus food, bathroom and sleep deprivation, and the “deep dive” mind control methods) which were used on the victims at Wells.

Perhaps.

But how about the more subtle cases of pulling someone away from their family and friends?

How?

  1.  Through mind control
  2.  Anti-biblical indoctrination techniques (often disguised as “counseling”)
  3.  Making victims think that their previously good upbringing was somehow “bad” for them.
  4.  What about the churches who steer people away from the truth of the Bible?  There are so many of them!  And, the Bible warns us that the closer we get to the end times, many who aren’t discerning about such churches will be fooled.

That is where recognition of such errors is ESSENTIAL in order to avoid heresy and to utilize the discernment Scriptures in the Bible when any individual needs to, and should, evaluate what someone with possibly subtle nefarious intentions is doing to them!

Excerpt with some good advice and a warning:

Only the spiritual man (regenerate) possesses the knowledge of God’s will….because he has the mind of Christ.  Henry calls to our attention that it is through reading the scriptures that the spiritual man receives the knowledge of His will.

Before we move on we must add a word of caution from blogger and author Tim Challies.  Speaking on discernment in “How can I increase my spiritual discernment?” he wrote:

Some have mistakenly defined spiritual discernment as a God-given awareness of evil or good spiritual presences—the ability to tell if a demon is in the room. While some people may possess this capability, it is not the biblical meaning of discernment. Spiritual discernment ultimately has to do with wisdom and the ability to distinguish truth from error.

So – how do Christians grow in spiritual discernment?  Two ways.  By allowing the Holy Spirit to be their guiding light; likewise, thorough carefully studying the Bible.

What should we do to determine if a person’s teaching is unbiblical? We are commanded to test what’s being taught. In fact, Paul urges believers to “test everything; hold fast what is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21) Likewise, John encourages us to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God.” How does one test a spirit?  By reading the scriptures, in context, for that’s where Truth is found. Why is “testing” so important? “For many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1) False prophets/teachers distort the truth….which is why the Bible refers to them as false teachers and wolves in sheep’s clothing.  It’s no exaggeration to say that a large number of charlatans knowingly—and without a smidgeon of guilt–lie through their teeth. Admittedly, examining someone’s teaching is no easy task.  But nowhere in Scripture are we told that it should be left to “professionals”; it is clearly our responsibility.

We mustn’t ignore the fact that any teaching that fails to line up with what the scriptures say is not from God.  And if the Bible’s not the source of his/her teaching, most likely its source is the “spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places.”  Satan’s not called the father of lies because he’s a truth teller!

Far too many Christians rely on the discernment of other believers, like those of us involved in online discernment ministries. It’s okay to learn from each other (iron sharpens iron), but again, we must do as the Bereans did – test!  Regrettably, when it comes to testing for errors, a growing number of professing Christians deserve a failing grade.

Yes!   We must do as the Bereans did – test!

FYI, In a question and answer page at the Berean website, a pingback link to TalkWisdom’s post entitled “Syncretism Stew” is at the bottom of the page.

My prayer continues that through the leading of Jesus Christ in my life that I would be corrected when needed in my writings here and most of all, be led to write Biblically accurate and discerning posts for as long as I run this blog.

I also pray, dear readers, that you each would be led towards discovering the truth within God’s Word through diligent study of the Scriptures so that each of you can earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

In Jesus,
Christine

Hat tips to all links.

GQ says the Bible is one of the most overrated books

April 24, 2018

Before I get to the GQ article, I also wanted to share that while I was watching “Fox and Friends” this morning, there was a segment where Dr. Oz was interviewed because of his heroic effort when he stopped to help after seeing a bus on fire on the side of the road.   It wasn’t the first time he had done this.  In the past, he also stopped upon seeing other accidents that had happened; in an effort to help anyone who may have needed to be rescued.  His decision to help (while many cars just drove past the burning bus) is quite admirable.

However, during the Fox and Friends interview, he said something that I thought was very odd.  While discussing the concept of evil, he said,   “Evil is not when bad people do bad things.  That is going to happen.  Evil is when good people watch bad people do bad things.”

What???  Isn’t evil both of those things?  Dr. Oz only focused on just one concept (his own belief, apparently) of evil and that sounded very odd to me.

Dictionary.com attempts to explain the term “evil,” but noticeably avoids any reference to the Bible’s definitions/explanations about the term and the source of it.

The Blue Letter Bible search of the term “evil” shows that “evil”
occurs 485 times in 457 verses in the NKJV.
Page 1 / 10 exact matches
(Gen 2:9–Jdg 9:57)

So, why would Dictionary.com not include at least some reference to the Bible regarding that term?  Maybe even one like this verse:

Unchecked Copy BoxJhn 3:19“And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

Perhaps Todd Starnes latest article, The Bible gets a bad review from GQ Magazine — Although it’s the bestselling book in history helps explain not only why an online dictionary editor might make the choice to eliminate any reference of the term “evil” being discussed and defined by the Bible, but also why a magazine like “GQ” would choose to give a bad review about the best selling book in history!

Excerpt from the GQ article:

“The Holy Bible is rated very highly by all the people who supposedly live by it but who in actuality have not read it. Those who have read it know there are some good parts, but overall it is certainly not the finest thing that man has ever produced. It is repetitive, self-contradictory, sententious, foolish, and even at times ill-intentioned.”

Starne’s reply is quite humorous and shares the GQ editor’s foolishness as well:

As a longtime Southern Baptist, I’ve grown accustomed to such foolish declarations from the “enlightened” crowd. I suspect the highbrow editors at GQ Magazine would not know the difference between John the Baptist and Balaam’s Ass.

There are many Bible passages and verses that I could cite here. One of the best is John Chapter 8. Many people know one or two familiar verses from that chapter:

John 8:31
Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.
John 8:32
“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

But I suggest reading the entire chapter because it is one of many segments in the Bible that shares the Gospel of Truth; and yet, the ending verse of the chapter shows how easily unrepentant men will reject Jesus and the truth that He shares.

Todd Starnes writes:

The truth is the Bible documents the greatest story ever told – a story about agape love and sacrifice and redemption – everlasting life.

And it’s also the best-selling book of all time – more than 5 billion copies sold, according to Guinness World Records, which also reports that the whole Bible has been translated into 349 languages and says at least one book of the Bible has been translated into 2,123 languages. Statistics Brain estimates even more Bibles have been printed – just over 6 billion.

“The Holy Bible is God-breathed, it is living and active, and it is sharper than a double-edged sword,” the Rev. Franklin Graham wrote on Facebook. “There is nothing more powerful, and there’s nothing more needed by mankind than the Word of God.”

Graham, the president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, explained that the subject of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation is Jesus Christ.

“And one day soon, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord,” he declared.

Now far be it from me to tell the pompous, erudite, literary crowd at GQ Magazine what books they should and should not read, but they might want to glance at John 3:16 before they kick the bucket. It states “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Hat tip:  Todd Starnes article at Fox News.

March 15, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

March 15, 2018

Truth2Freedom blog’s author has put together a great essay that explains why, we as born again believers in Jesus, know that He is the Savior of the world. Great passages for the upcoming season of Passover, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday!

Truth2Freedom's Blog

Christ’s Impression on the Samaritans

From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all the things that I have done.” So when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they were asking Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. Many more believed because of His word; and they were saying to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.” (4:39–42)

Following the interlude of verses 31–38, the Samaritans reenter the narrative as the story builds to a powerful conclusion. Many of the villagers believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all the things that I have done.” Surely we can assume that…

View original post 3,309 more words


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