February 1, 2016

Sin By Any Other Name Is Still Sin

In light of what I view as a continued moral slide towards national ruin recently highlighted by court rulings in favor of homosexual marriage and a government’s refusal to defund Planned Parenthood, I felt like writing a social commentary on sin.

Some of these moral slips towards demise?

I see a data dumps from the “cheating dirtbag” site Ashley Madison and the sheer number of profiles involved is staggering: 32 million users; 90% of which are male. That means 28.8 million men are attempting to have immoral illicit sexual liaisons or are cheating spouses. You can be assured many are "Christians" too.

I see another financial collapse in the making too only seven years after the last one. We've debased the currency in a world economy worse than it was in 2008 and even China is struggling. In Isaiah 1:22, the prophet records that in Jerusalem, "Your silver has become dross." Though this speaks primarily of the people's spiritual condition, it applied literally too. The sign of Judah's [a nation's] decline was the devaluation of her currency; money would not buy what it used to be able to purchase. The illustration pictures what had once been pure silver and of full value is now so diluted by baser metals that it is essentially worthless.

Therefore rampant sexual immorality that becomes an acceptable norm and debasing of currency becomes a recognizable precursor of decline and eventual national collapse. Isaiah 3:16-23 describes the wealth, finery, and attitudes of Israelite women as the end nears, and it does not paint a pretty picture (also Amos 4:1-3). He depicts them as "haughty" and "wanton" with more clothes, jewelry, makeup, and accessories than they know what to do with. By chapter 5 judgments of woe are placed in the nation.

Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio nor Ben Carson will turn the trend around. We’re too far down the road to demise. Only God can turn the listing sinking ship around. The issue is not political although a decent Christian candidate might actually make a positive impact. No, what I see at the core of these issues is that there is nothing new under the sun as Qoheleth once said in Ecclesiastes. The only thing different between modern time and all the other eras in human history is we get the news instantly.

Adultery, Sexual Perversion, Murder, Denying God, Abortion, Corrupt Leadership, False Teachers, Haughtiness, Idolatry, Covetousness, Greed, Lust, Assault, Violence, False Accusations, False Witness, Extortion, Bribery, Blackmail, Arrogance, Sorcery, Hate, Cruelty, Hypocrisy, Disobedience, Conceit, Fraud.

These are the symptoms of a diseased and dying nation. The common denominator of all these aforementioned words is sin. Sin brought down Israel and Judah and every nation since. It will do the same to America and already is.

The word sin and the concept of sin has not only fallen off radar in our modern culture when it comes to fashionable terminologies it is denied outright by many because of its close association to Christianity. In the Universal Church’s battle over ambivalence with our postmodern culture it has become unfashionable to use words like sin, repent, apostasy, and in due course we see that even salvation is now out of fashion (as if it is an accessory or social accoutrement. The world doesn’t seem to care nor notice sin. Only backwoods “fundamentalists” use words like sin. We are sending a huge portion of our recent generations directly to Hell never having known better because many people that do know or should know do not correct misconceptions. It is all because certain words are not trendy and all because certain ideas are so “yesterday”.

People are too busy trying to make friends instead of trying to convert them and correct their misunderstandings. The churches that do bend to the trend end up first sacrificing the Inerrancy of Scripture and then all other biblical truths fall like unwanted dominoes shortly after. Most churches now merely cater to people that are indifferent to Biblical truth and are only looking for meaningless mystic emotive spirituality that has no god behind it. Some are even shallower than that, they want a god that fits their schedule and their needs so that it doesn't inconvenience them.

According to an unbelieving world, sin is no longer an issue of moral or spiritual bankruptcy, it is now a disease or a condition that is an outcropping of our ego, superego or our id (or whatever the shrinks are calling it this year). It is no longer a spiritual issue but it has been brought into the naturalistic realm and made into a medical/psychological issue. According to the medical experts it is a disorder that is not our own fault. We need not take accountability for this disorder because it was brought on by things like abusive parents or enabling environments that under indulged or overindulged us because they didn’t know any better. Good thing we do, right? Sin is now a medical condition treatable with antidepressants, psychotropic drugs or just plain narcotics to help you either forget all about it or dull your senses.

The human love affair with sin didn’t end, it just changed names. When it changed names it stopped having a relevance and connotation as something negative. It no longer required an atoning sacrifice as God has stated. No, instead we just needed to understand that we are a product of our environments or social constructs. It no longer required judgment from God to correct us. If an action really wasn’t a sin or wrong in the eyes of the people why would it need to be judged? Why would it require justice? Man defined the terms and thereby defined the meaning. If men said it was okay, then it was okay, wasn’t it? If its meaning was morally neutral who would care what you did. 

Does this sound familiar?

"It's a victimless crime. I'm not really hurting anyone"
"I'd never intentionally hurt someone so it’s not really my fault.”

Things have ceased to have any definitive meaning thereby not requiring a definitive and decisive reaction or a decisive punishment. If you haven't gotten punished then you're not wrong, right? We confuse God’s silence for acceptance. We should be realizing that the silence is in actuality forbearance and patience before a necessary punishment to level the scales of justice.

Instead our cultures twists philosophy and the perpetrators have all become victims. No one is at fault for anything anymore. Our disorders are not the by-product of our actions but rather a product of a society that neglected us or treated us unfairly. No one ever directly gets blamed at and individual level and held accountable for their actions. Only large nebulous generalized entities are blamed, "they", "them", "the right", "the left", "the fundamentalists"...and so it goes.

The terms change and out goes division and divisiveness, and in comes diversity. Out goes God’s grace and mercy and in comes man’s “rights” and boasting. Out goes love for your neighbor and in comes “every man for himself”. Out goes optimism and in comes cynicism and skepticism. Love is out, hate is in but hate is called tolerance. Tolerance is acceptable but only until you start infringing on my opinions, my life and my well-being. The "I" and "me" are more important than the "you" and the "we".

In our consumer society we must always have the “newest” everything even the newest terms, slang and jargon. The problem is that these new “buzzwords” are in actuality misnomers or deliberate misuse of terms to affect and desired end. Verbal propaganda so to speak. Unfortunately, along with these terms come ideas that are destroying us and doing it with a smile. Diversity, fairness, tolerance, rights, women’s choice and marriage equality are some of these new terms to name a few. These terms in many cases were originally created and used for good purposes but like everything else Satan has gotten a hold of they have become twisted and misused.

It is just like a consumer society to toss something in the garbage can after it has lost its appeal or perceived relevance. When something is worn out or deemed old it is thrown out and replaced. These current terms will change again in the near future. Evil never rests and continues to change and morph so to be unrecognizable except to an extremely discerning eye. We as believers must stay vigilant and call people out when we know what somethings is. This is especially true when our culture tries to call it something it is not and mislabel it purposely to serve their own end. Evil is still evil even when it wears a mask.

"Woe to those that call evil good and good evil" Isaiah 5:20

It may have a thousand other "nicer" and "trendier" names or technical diagnoses but a sin by any other name…is still sin. If it is sin and it is not repented of…it accumulates God’s wrath, therefore judgment against you.

It’s like the three monkeys holding their eyes, ears and mouth. You can pretend sin doesn't exist, you can pretend not to hear it, you may deny speaking it, or seeing it...but it is still there. We as humans must come to grips with the fact that wickedness dwells in the hearts of all people. What makes the difference is if we allow it to stay there or if it gets replaced. What we replace it with is crucial. If we replace it with more things of the world (therapy, psychoanalysis) we doom ourselves. If we replace it with the things of God, with Christ, with the holy things we are on our way to true recovery and true deliverance.

January 23, 2016

A Thief Breaking Into A Prison

I like paradoxes in the Scriptures. I like earth shattering paradigm shifts. If the Scriptures contain anything they are filled with beautiful twists of circumstance that could've only been God working behind them in His sovereign will. So when I read the Bible and see them it overjoys me and fills me with awe. It is one of the few joys I get in this life. When I see them where few have seen them before...I know it is the work of the Spirit revealing it to me.

So, let’s talk about The One. Let us talk about Jesus. The Monogenes/μονογενής. The Only Begotten Son of God. Let us look at His emotion. Let us look in particular, His indignation or disgust. Let us look closely at His humanity in all its variation while he was still an earthbound man and the Son of God. While he was in a human body and divine simultaneously.

Jesus is in Gethsemane; being God He knew of the crucifixion that loomed on His horizon so we have the incident recorded in John 12:27.

“Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.

“Now is my soul troubled,” he cries. It is a remarkable confession of what is transpiring emotionally inside of Jesus and it appears physically at least momentarily in His spoken words. For a second it looks as if Jesus is shrinking backward at the prospect of His death. In a closer examination of the event, in reality I believe he is shrinking back from something in revulsion the way a man would from a mutilated corpse. Something clearly draws Him forward to examine in morbidity but at the same time the corpse is an object that is off kilter from its surrounding. Death among life. A death that will become life. An oddity in all of time and Creation. It will only happen once and it will never be again. From the death of One and His Resurrection, life will come for all who accept it.

Jesus is not submitting to death here in an act of surrender. Instead we need to see this as a vigorous embracing of the Father’s will. Remember? Jesus is predicating His own death here. What did he say earlier in the passage? He emotionally shudders and steels Himself in fortitude for the ordeal He is about to face. Deep inside He is reconciling the absolute truth of why His death is necessary and frankly, it angers Him.

John 12:23-26 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

What immediately follows Jesus admission of His soul being troubled is a rhetorical question and then a profound statement of Jesus whole reason for coming as human in the first place. Please note the emphasis in the English with the exclamation point.

“…and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!”

He had come into the world to die and He knew it. As a human/divine  He vividly had to realize what death would entail and what it would be to die. For goodness sake, He created the physical body of man. He could be forgiven if the shrinking back had been because of the fear of the pain (the sting) of a torturous death. No, there is something more going on here. Something within Jesus rises to the surface that is in conflict with the death and what it represents. It surfaces momentary and it is again repressed by the will of God. It is a momentary state of mind best described as agitated, not so much troubled and this emotion is at odds with a God that is in control and is so even now.

It is disquiet of the soul of Jesus. It is only attributed to Jesus three times in Scripture and they are in sequential order in John. All related. All clearly put here for us to read for a reason. Firstly it is in John 12:27. It is in John 11:33 at the tomb of Lazarus…

“When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.

Finally in John 13:21 in Jesus pronouncement to the disciples that one would betray Him (Judas obviously):

“After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.”

Every single time Jesus experienced this disquiet of His soul it is when He is in a direct head-to-head confrontation with death/death personified. Is Jesus afraid of death or what is behind death at its source? No, of course not. I don’t believe for a second that God is shrinking from death or acting out in fear of death. Not a chance. This disquiet is not a distress, it is an agitation over the distress that death is causing in the world and the fact that it is negatively affecting His Creation. Why? One needs to ask themselves something about the Kingdom and God and about humanity. What constitutes the Kingdom? People. What is an attempt to destroy the Kingdom? Death. Until this time God’s plan to overcome death once and for all hadn’t taken place in Jesus’ death, burial and Resurrection.

It is quite clear from Scripture that Jesus did indeed die on the Cross and was Resurrected the third day in accordance with Scripture. I cannot help but feel though that during these three preliminary run-ins with death, the effects of sin and their inevitable consequence of death helped kill off a piece of the human side of Jesus. It is as if in these instances a little piece of Him chipped away and He figuratively died a little inside from the heartbreak of sin taking its toll on His beloved children.

Death appeared to have had an upper hand but it is all about to be inverted upon the death and Resurrection of The One that could do the inverting. In Jesus, after the Resurrection of Jesus, not even men would fully fear death because those that would see what Jesus was about to do would realize that death was all bluster and noise but little substance on the eternal scale. Therefore it behooves us to realize, that if we should not fear it as both Jesus and Paul told us, how much more would Jesus not have been phased by the specter of death? Death is temporary. No, the troubling here in the very core of Jesus is a troubling about what lies behind death and the effects it has on His beloved children He came to save.

He is unsettled because the state that death plunges other into that are left behind. As they say, the dead feel no pain, it is those the dead leave behind that suffer. This is why Jesus is “emotional” when he sees Mary and her companions lamenting Lazarus’ death. It is why he is “anxious” at the thought of the betrayal of Judas close to Him that would lead to His death. It is not so much His impending death that stirs Him up, it is the damaging irreversible effects sin that leads to death has on others as we saw at Lazarus’ tomb. It is the tremendous troubling of his children in the face of death that works under Jesus’ skin agitating the living daylights out of Him. 

I guess today we call it chomping at the bit. He knows His crucifixion is coming and He also knows the new day that His Resurrection heralds and it has almost come to fruition. It is agitation coupled with anticipation of an eternal plan that had long been in the works and the glory of it was about to burst forth like blinding white light in a pitch black world. It would bring glory to the Father. Jesus has said as much in the very same verse as His statement about His agitation.

“…it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!”

He was not recoiling from the prospect of death as a physical experience or the terror of dying. He was literally recoiling from the repugnance of the idea of death and its slithering debased corruption. A repugnance so profound that the closer he Himself would come to it, the more the reality of its evil would seize upon His chest in flesh. Hence His verbal lament recorded by Scripture.

Death…it wasn’t supposed to be here in this world. Death through sin, it wasn’t supposed to be here this way. It had intruded on reality. It was like an artist who had spent so much time on a beautiful sculpture only to have their child come over with a hammer in hand and smack the sculpture right in the middle cracking the surface. It was repairable but not without great time and expense from the artist…and discipline for the child.

The Curse caused by man’s sin is what brought "the crack" here to Earth in the first Adam and now the Second and final Adam would remove it. In death Jesus saw the thing that had control through fear over the minds of mankind and He loathed it with righteous abhorrence. Behind death Jesus saw right through to the very thing that gave it it’s power through fear over man. Evil masked behind Death's face. Jesus’ holy nature balked at it in disgust. It is exactly why he would allow Himself to be swallowed by it in the end at least temporarily. He would to literally go inside the belly of the beast to literally turn its guts inside-out rendering it powerless. For now though...it was turning Jesus' guts or turning His stomach.

He would allow the very powers of evil to inflict upon him the precise penalty of human sin...death. The penalty so greatly feared by man that it ruled men through fear. Jesus would bow his head to this enemy and suffer the greatest indignity and then would definitively show that it held no power over Him. To kill the very thing that has killed all, Jesus would first need to allow it to kill Him. Lowering to be raised. Humbling to be exalted. A divine paradox.

As Paul said: It would be like removing the sting from death. He would defang a serpent...by crushing its head completely. As we would better understand today Jesus took the bullets out of the gun so it could only fire blanks. The thief thought he broke into your house to steal you life but he fails in his effort. Why. It is because he wasn't breaking into your house...the thief broke into a prison of his own design. Jesus would by choice would bow his head in humility which is exactly why He came in the form of a servant. The role of a servant would be the best role to fulfill submission temporarily to death.

Philippians 2:8 …and being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death- even death on a cross!

John Calvin did not stammer in his writings of the Gethsemane incident in his writing. He said the powers and pains of Hell attacked Jesus previous to His death there. The Gospel writers spared no expense and nearly exhausted the resources of the Greek language to convey to us some conception of our Lord’s mental anguish and agony. The better understanding is the Greek words Mark used for it in Mark 14:33 when he said “overawed” and “despondent” in Gethsemane. Overawed despondency...it was a form of consternation. Death was closing in on Jesus’ physical being and there was clearly no escape. There is a mental pain that comes with being backed into a corner…even if you’ve allowed it. There would be no immediate physical defense against it. Would Jesus’ eventually overcome death? Yes. 

Would it be painless? No. 

He was human after all. Sometimes those tortured will reach a point of envying the dead to end the pain. I believe that was Jesus’ consternation…but not over His inevitable death. No, I believe Jesus looked forward to that hour and what it finally represented. It represented glory. Glory to the Father. Jesus knew it for a fact...and now we do too.

January 19, 2016

What's Expected of You If You Accept II: Abiding In Christ

Those that would chose to follow Christ should expect dogged resistance…even from right within their own family. Those that did not experience this or were not willing to experience this were either not Christian or were not worthy to be a Christian. The world hates Jesus. The world will absolutely hate His followers also. If you are not hated by the world, chances are you’re not His follower.

Matthew 10:34-37 ~ “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.

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Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62

We are called to complete devotion and all the requirements of this demand. We can give Jesus nothing less than everything we have to give. We are to make ourselves living sacrifices (Romans 12). Here Jesus speaks of the one that is willing to look back, the one that still has one foot in the past in their old life-a sinful life. Meanwhile, because they are not paying attention they could potentially be messing up the future life in the Kingdom. You cannot live in the past and in the present or future at the same time. It causes a conflict of interest. Jesus rejected none of them but did put stringent demands on them. We must never enter into something that requires everything we have without first measuring the cost.

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God’s true people will chose to walk in the light as opposed to darkness. Those that prefer the dark wicked things of this world and prefer to keep their deeds in darkness are not of God but rather of the Devil. Why does a believer need to walk in light? It is because the one we follow walks in light. If we walk in darkness, we’re following the wrong one, aren’t we? Our nature should align with Jesus.

1 John 1:7 ~ “…but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

Furthermore true fellowship with God comes through men. Love of the brethren is the end product of that love of God. Hence the next need in a disciple’s life.

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Disciples will show an obvious affection and concern for one another. This love and concern with exceed that of ordinary people towards one another. If not, what would distinguish Christians from non-Christians?

John 13:35 ~ “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

This is part of the new commandment Jesus gave to the disciples. If the Disciples’ motive following Jesus had been to obtain a high status in the kingdom. That misconception ended abruptly here. There would be no place for rivalry in fellowship before they could accomplish his commission to them. The attitude of love and unity would carry the day, every day for the remainder of their lives. Jesus had lived on the exact example for them, they only needed to emulate Him…just like we need to.

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Disciples will continue on in God’s word regardless of the cost to them. In God’s word disciples will find the truth and the truth of God will be an avenue away from spiritual slavery to sin.

John 8:31-32 ~ “So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

A freedom from sin and its effects. Nowhere else would this be found except in Jesus and following Him. Only in discipleship would the onus of sin be relieved.

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In our search for the truth we will eventually find Christ and we will realize once we find Him that there is no longer a reason to search further. At that point the search for the truth will be over and our duty then becomes a matter of study and relationship. We must study and understand the Lord and this understanding will allow us a proper relationship with Him. 

John 6:67-69 ~ “So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.”

Peter spoke as the representative of the Twelve (and therefore all disciples). He affirmed the obvious in light of the fact that the Son of God stood before him.  There was nobody else who had the life-giving message. Everything else was second fiddle. This statement from him showed something definitively. His faith as a disciple was genuine. Once we reach this stage, the same can be said of our faith also. If we believe that God is the truth, the way and the life…we can assure that our faith is true and so is our salvation.

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When we put the last few requirements together we arrive at this last one. We that are Christian and love Jesus will abide in Him. We will persevere in the faith as stated previous.

John 15:7 ~ “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”

The disciples had not followed Jesus on a whim or by some chance impulse; they had been chosen. Jesus had promised to reshape them to his requirements.

John 1:42 ~ “He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John; you shall be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).

Jesus had summoned them to follow him.

John 1:43 ~ “The next day He purposed to go into Galilee, and He found Philip. And Jesus *said to him, “Follow Me.”

Jesus  miracles had clinched the lock shut on their faith

John 2:11 ~ “This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him

Jesus had caringly pleaded with them not to forsake him even when many were departing from Him

John 6:66-67 ~ “As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?”

At that time he said that he had chosen them.

John 6:70 ~ “Jesus answered them, “Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil?”

It is genuinely obvious that Jesus expected that the Disciples would fulfill God’s purpose for them. It is also clear that Jesus expected that their work would endure. He expected that they would bear much fruit and it would glorify God. As a matter of fact Jesus expects all saints to endure and persevere in the faith (Romans 8:39, Revelation 14:12-13). In the time of the Apostles and now. It is because of the work disciples still need to do for the Kingdom that they would need to work in unity and love. Just like us. In that unity and love they would facilitate the plans of God. Just as we believers do today.

January 17, 2016

No Time

As some have noticed and mentioned to me, I haven't been posting much to my blog. I have just not had the time to take what I have been studying and put it to words. I am just glad I have had some time to study. I suppose I should probably dedicate time to putting it on paper and Word.doc but life is currently a treadmill and someone turned it up to heart attack speed. The last of my Islamic comparative religion stuff is complete just as I started a new job as a Quality Engineer in Allentown. All you good readers are just going to have to be content with a post once a week or so until things become more manageable. Work, family and study is all I have time for right now. Blessings. Andy.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 - There is a time for everything, 
and a season for every activity under the heavens...

January 15, 2016

What's Expected of You If You Accept I: Carry Your Cross

Nothing quite like starting a post that is titled like a Mission: Impossible lead-in.

[Tape hiss...ssssss..."Your mission should you accept it..."
[...ssssss..."This is what will be expected of you...if you don't do it...you'll be condemned"

Well, we are not dealing with an impossible mission here but we are going to talk about the "mission" of the Christian believer when it comes to discipleship. 

With discipleship comes some stringent demands made on a believer by God. They are not necessary but they are expected. I have felt the need to Biblically account for the requirements of discipleship in a person's salvation. I will now present to you as many of the criterion of Christian discipleship that I can. Wherever Scripture specifically cites the requirement is necessary to be considered a disciple of Christ, I will present it.

What Will Be Expected...If You Accept Your Mission

If we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it a million times. Our salvation is by faith not works. But as James said,

James 2: 14 -18 ~ “What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” 

Salvation will therefore have positive effects on a believer’s life and many if not most will be clearly visible. Endurance and perseverance in the Faith essentially requires one be a disciple or learner/follower of Christ or be “in Christ”. 

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You must be born again.

John 3:5-8 ~ “Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

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You must be born again because all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and because the wages of sin is death

Romans 3:23 ~ “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”

Romans 6:23 ~ “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

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If we confess our sins, God will forgive us.

1 John 1:9 ~ “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

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Our faith will come by hearing the word of God.

Romans 10:17 ~ “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.”

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Some of the characteristics of discipleship are people that confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and that God the Father raised Jesus from the dead on third day in accordance with Scripture.

Romans 10:9-10 ~ “…that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

1 Corinthians 15:3-4 ~ “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures”

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If a person has become Christian they are baptized into Christ by putting on the character of Christ and dying to self. This type of person dreads, loathes and repents of their sin. They are also given the Holy Spirit as a down payment on their salvation.

Galatians 3:27 ~ “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”

Acts 2:38 ~ “Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

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We are God’s workmanship or new creation and were made specifically for God’s work of spreading the Gospel. Work that is a product of the fact that we are Christian. Work does not secure our salvation but attests to it. The road has already been paved and lined with righteousness by Jesus, we need only walk it.

Ephesians 2:10 ~ “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

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For a person to take up Jesus’ cause and carry His cross requires that one leave their own life behind. The absolutism of the language drives this point home. Taking up one’s cross does not mean enduring some heinous torture but in reality dying to self. In this way every disciple of Jesus bears the same cross. The discipleship is not to pain but to dedication to Christ. Jesus already died for us. It isn't torture but no one said it was going to be easy either.

Matthew 10:38-39 ~ “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.

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In the Gospel of John, Christ said he gives his flesh “for the life of the world” (v. 51). Then he says whoever has not partaken of his flesh and blood has “no life” in him (v. 53). But then whoever eats his flesh and drinks his blood “has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day” (v. 54). The Lord again gives the promise of resurrection to those who are associated with Him. In other words, those that will follow Jesus and obey His teachings…Disciples.

 John 6:53 ~ “So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves.”

January 5, 2016

Radical Christianity?

We’ve all seen one of these. The anti-Christian memes that have stated that Islam isn’t the only religion to be filled with radical quacks that resort to violence to push their ideological religious agendas or their religion in general. This is then coupled with a picture of either the Salem Witch Trials or the latter Crusades with people being tortured or executed in cold-blood. True Christians are having their reputations unceremoniously dragged through the mud and are being murdered in character in these memes. I lament the deafening silence from an uncertain Christian section so I end it tonight. 

This meme is clearly a false representation and purposeful mischaracterization of Christianity. It is done to create a false image of Christianity that is subsequently easier to tear down and dismantle because it has obvious moral flaws. There is a name for this in logic (or lack thereof).

It is called a straw man fallacy.

I also see many who are not sure how to respond to this type of falsified attack on the Christian faith and belief system. I myself was guilty of this lack of reaction also when seeing these types of mischaracterizations. I was paralyzed in fear of being wrong. I was doing nothing (1) for fear of not knowing how to properly respond with a presuppositional Christian apologetic and (2) I lacked the true understanding of Islam not having studied it in detail. These two hurdles have been overcome and I now present a succinct response. I will back up everything I say about Christianity and validate my statements about Islam also if need be.

In short this attack on Christianity being compared to Islam by framing them both as violent is a “straw man” which is an informal fallacy based on giving the impression of refuting an opponent's argument (Christian's), while actually refuting an argument which was not advanced by that opponent (Christianity is unjustly violent). This argument creates the illusion of having completely refuted or defeated an opponent's proposition by covertly replacing it with a completely different proposition (i.e., Christianity is violent exactly like Islam, that's a bad thing) and then to refute or defeat that false argument or "knock down a straw man" instead of the original proposition.

This failure of logic in an argument needs to be recognized when it’s being put forth and refuted. It needs to be turned around on the constructor of the "straw man". To allow an argument like this to stand on its own flawed merit after having been put forth by an enemy of the cross of Jesus Christ is to allow a massacre of the truth. It allows the uneducated person the ability to tear down a false Christianity they think Christianity is and meanwhile real Christianity is wrongfully maligned. Worst of all is painting the Lord Jesus Christ in a bad light comparing murders and thieves to Jesus. It is incumbent upon Christians to frame the discussion / debate correctly and set detractors straight so they at least have a proper avenue to the truth uninhibited by anti-Christian prejudice and bias.

The bottom line is this. 

If the true tenets of Islam are followed in the Qur’an, Hadith and Sira…they unmistakably lead to violence. Case-in-point: Greater than 50% of the Hadith (Muhammad’s biography which Muslims imitate...is inclined towards violent behavior). Conversely, if the tenets of the Bible and the example of Jesus Christ are followed they lead to peace and kingdom. That is why anywhere Jesus went during His life, the Kingdom of God encroached in the form of truth, enlightenment and the reversal of the curse in things like healing of the sick and infirm and other miracles. 

There was virtually no implications of violence in Jesus earthly ministry other than passing references to the fact that a man is obliged to protect his family and an implication that there is a time to use a sword (Peter at Jesus' arrest). That is not to say violence will not be forthcoming in the Last Days or End Times. There will be a second coming and upon Jesus’ arrival there will be pronounced violence in the form of God’s judgment. 

Therein lies the dividing line.

Violence as spelled out in the Islamic holy writ is fundamental to Islamic doctrine and Islamic behavior when emulating Muhammad. The Muslims are encouraged to pursue Jihad until all are in submission to Allah…or those that do not covert are dead. Christianity requires that in nearly all circumstances Christians are to be non-violent except in areas of protection of self or family, in just war situations and/or serving as one who bears a sword for his nation (a soldier).

Christian judgment emanates from God and is earned. Judgment is not based on the indiscriminate whims of capricious beings like men but on the divine understanding and judgment of an omniscient Judge. As I said, violence in the form of God’s judgment is justice in action and is earned by the perpetrator of the wrong that incurred the judgment.  

So a true Christian is one who adheres to the true teachings of Jesus Christ in the Scripture, follow his perfect example and love God with all their heart. The end result of obeying and following Scriptural teaching is invariably to become peaceful and perpetuate the Kingdom in one's behaviors.

Conversely, this also means that Christians that indiscriminately killed during the Crusades and tortured women as witches in pre-Colonial America [feel free to quote me on this]…were not Christians regardless of what they chose to label themselves as or considered themselves. This includes the Popes in Europe and others in high ecclesiastic positions in early America.

Hence the intent captured in this statement often errantly attributed to Mahatma Gandhi:

“Oh, I don't reject Christ. I love Christ. It's just that so many of you Christians are so unlike Christ.”

Which is to say, to the observer of Christianity, men may call themselves Christian but they either poorly reflect the image of Christ or don’t reflect Him at all in their behaviors (they're not Christian).

As Jesus Himself said in Scriptures:

Matthew 7:16 ~ “By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?”

To group all self-proclaimed “Christians” into the category of “Christian” without actually observing their attributes and then making blanket or generalized fallacious statements is to make oneself publicly ignorant. It is the same as me saying that all anti-Christian zealots are militant hateful people. They’re not. They’re usually just misguided and uninformed, not hateful. By educating them we potentially allow them a path to our faith to make them our brethren.

December 31, 2015

A Commentary On Islamic Propoganda

My Muslim neighbours taught me the Great Big Muslim Lie

By Rich A Rosendahl -  December 19, 2015

Since 9/11 the world has changed and many of us along with it. Like most Americans I remember where I was, who I was with, and the raw emotions that seemed to pour from my soul as the towers fell. I also remember how those events gave birth to what may be the biggest and most dangerous lie of this generation and one that I once believed. The lie that says Muslims are our enemy. {Read Full Article Here}

I read this article given to me by a friend. Whether the author realizes it or not it is the product of an ecumenical push to see Islam accepted as peaceful and having studied Islam for the better part of a year I cannot let this post slide on this website without comment. You will need to go back and read the author's article first then read my commentary for my commentary to make sense. We need to determine what the enemy is before we can come to terms with it. This article is not helpful for doing that. 

Furthermore I have a 16 page paper concisely and accurately outlining what I learned from studying Islamic holy writing. The end result is damning for Islam. I'll give a copy to any that wish to read it via Facebook. Some people might need to friend me first to get it. I have no intent to publish it here because it will only solicit aggressive denunciations from those that have already bought into the deceptive ecumenicalism being propagated by not only an agenda driven media and al-Taqiyya influenced Islam but it is also being pushed by the non-discerning right within the Christian faith. Having said this...I present the commentary on the article.

A distinction needs to be made when we say Muslim just as we say Christian. There are self-described Christians/Muslims that often are not really Muslim based on the tenets of the true faith …and then there are true Muslims. As a true Christian will show the fruits of their faith in their actions, so too a Muslim. The former (self-described peaceful Muslims) are Kafir and considered infidel by true adherents of the true tenets outlined in the Qur’an, Hadith and Sira. The former are essentially Meccan Muslims and the latter Medinan (the inherently aggressive ones that adhere tightly to Islamic holy writ). The Medinan are closer and more accurate adherents to the Islamic holy writings and condescend all others. In theory Meccan Muslims are not Muslims. In terms of authority Meccan Muslims are essentially a caste below Medinan and are viewed as dogs and marginal Muslims at best.

The man/friend described as Mohamed in this article is either disillusioned by his religion, deceived by it or he is practicing al-Taqiyya until his belief system/political system (Sharia) gains equilibrium or trumps the socio-cultural norm he is living in. If he is not trying to convert all to Islam, and submitting to Sharia…he is not true Muslim based on the Qur'an and the Muhammadan example in the Hadith/Sira. There is no wiggle room in Islamic writing that I can find. The end result of one’s religious philosophy dictates one’s eventual actions. What we believe we think and what we think we act on. In Jesus' own words, it is not that which comes from without that corrupts a man, it is what comes from within. What we believe we act on and furthermore…what we believe we pass on to our children through our behaviors even if we don’t mean to. 

A peaceful disposition is not the end result of Sharia nor a mandate to convert all to Sharia which demands that people either convert, submit or be executed. So to say terrorism is the impact of a tiny majority is a misconstruction of the argument. Like Christians there are many that will walk the path to destruction and few who will find the gate. So too true Muslims. The principle behind this biblical statement holds true for Muslims. It’s telling us that the more demanding the tenets the fewer are those that can actually live up the demands of the true belief system. Christianity has Christ but Islam is a religion of works that is under-girded with pronounced violence. What options does a true Muslim have for salvation in their faith other than strict obedience or violence though jihad that litters their holy writ? I posit very little.

As for the Muslim’s prayers in this article…their prayers are tantamount to worthlessness for a Christian. A Christian realizes that a Muslim’s prayers are to an idol…probably a demon. There are no vacuums in the spiritual world. You either pray to the Lord or the demonic.

As for the visits to Muslim countries he does not state why he went other than missionary work. I suspect he might have been exposed to people predisposed to a friendliness to his faith and belief system to begin with. I also suspect (like Christians) many Muslims are fair-weather Muslims that are not commited to true Islam except for immediate political or economic gain. 

Please note I am always careful to denote and differentiate true adherents and fair-weather adherents. Once we enter into the "wishy-washy realm" or COEXIST and Interfaithism we enter a nebulous area of ecumenicalism that says all religions worship the same God under different names . We see this when we hear people say that Islam, Christianity and Judaism are all Abrahamic faiths. This is pure tripe and any Christian (or Jew) will tell you the same. It is New Age Interfaithism that believes we can all live under one universal religious spiritual umbrella. It is a philosophy that says we can massage core tenets and make them the same or compatible. Even many liberal Christians and politicians are starting to realize and understand this just isn’t true…it’s a pipe dream and pie-in-the-sky. Man is inherently depraved and incapable of good short of Christ. You cannot convert and acclimatize true Islam (or Judaism for the matter) without the Gospel itself. Islam is too confrontational and aggressive by its very nature otherwise.

Finally I state this…the propaganda has completely inverted the truth of the situation and the Christian author of this article has foolishly bought into the misinformation 100%. The violent aspects of Islam are not the “outliers” as he stated. They are the outcome of the true philosophies of the Qur’an, Hadith and Siran tenets. The “outliers”, religious anomalies or deviations from the “norm” of Islamic holy writing and a Muhammadian worldview are those that are peaceful. Violence is the pattern and norm of Islam and has been wherever Islam has been dominant since its inception in the 7th century under its Islamic warlord Muhammad. Islam’s historical precedent has seen its philosophy spread at the point of a sword through its political arm…not the religious arm. Never forget Islam is dualistic as are its motives.

The author states that he hopes all tune out the political rhetoric but in truth it is the political arm of Islam that is the violent arm and every time we see violence it is an arm on an Islamic body that is…still the same body. It is disingenuous and it is still Islam…just a different appendage of it. 

Sadly, mostly what I read in this article is how the author feels and very little about the truth of what Islam's own holy writings say (or the Christian Bible for that matter). There is a lot of room to wiggle in ecumenicalism in-between these two philosophical gaps. As a matter of fact there is so much room we could include a majority of the other world religions also. 

That my friends is Universalism. 

Trying to find the commonalities in a religion is useful when applying Christian apologetics but the goal of apologetics is to sway people though logic and truth to your belief not merge your faith with theirs.
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