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Archive for the ‘Prayer’ Category

How God Judges a Nation

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Saved, Sin, Trinity on August 6, 2016 at 3:29 pm

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What happens when nation sins against God as a people? When you see God act in time and realize he is a personal God we need to understand His acting on a people as a nation. What causes God to act? Then in His acting does he warn us to repent? Lastly once the rebellion continues and his demands for repentance are ignored how does He act in his sovereign justice towards that people or nation?

 

God’s Provision and plan

 

God at the beginning of creation had a plan and a purpose for man. God and God alone is a pure being. He is, was, and will always be, He describes himself as “I AM” we are dependent and contingent because our being is derived from Him. We are creatures by his design we owe our very existence to Him.

 

Gen 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

Gen 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Gen 1:28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Gen 1:29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.

Augusitnes

Something has been not only lost, but wholly lost. It has been lost totally and in its entirety. It is not a partial loss or diminution of power or ability. It is a radical and complete loss. Yet this does not mean that the will’s ability to choose has been lost completely. What has been lost is the ability to will “any good accompanying salvation.” We have already discussed the sinner’s ability to perform works of civil virtue. These deeds conform outwardly to the law of God, but they are not motivated by a love for God. The moral ability lost in original sin is therefore not the ability to be outwardly “moral,” but the ability to incline oneself to the things of God. In this spiritual dimension we are morally dead. The confession declares that the natural man is “altogether averse from that good, and [he is] dead in sin.” This summarizes the biblical description of fallen man. Paul describes the condition as follows: And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).-.-.-. Ephesians 2:1-5 In this passage Paul speaks of the Spirit’s work in “quickening” us or regenerating us from our fallen condition. He uses the image of being “made alive.” This is set in stark contrast to our former condition of being “dead” in trespasses and sins. The sinner is not biologically dead. Indeed the natural man is very much alive. Corpses do not sin. The death in view here is clearly spiritual death.[1]

 

Gen 8:21 And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done.

 

Starting with God’s law we have a standard we are required to meet not only as an individual but as a society. We are top teach these to our children and bind them on our hearts. That is to say we are to regard and remember them every day. To live and trust in the Lord and his commands. We are commanded to teach our children the truth of the law you speak of it when we rise, eat, and before we go to bed. Because God it lacks for himself a people who are obedient, we become a society that God can direct to honor himself. The subject we’re dealing with is how God judges and nation as a whole within his divine providence.

 

Deu 11:13 “And if you will indeed obey my commandments that I command you today, to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul,

Deu 11:18 “You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.

Deu 11:19  You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

 

He makes nations great, and he destroys them; he enlarges nations, and leads them away. He takes away understanding from the chiefs of the people of the earth and makes them wander in a trackless waste. They grope in the dark without light, and he makes them stagger like a drunken man.

(Job 12:23-25 ESV)

 

We see the next generation after Joshua has died and it didn’t take long for man’s sinful nature

to reveal itself. When man is left to his own natural will (probably described as the anarchy of

the free will) he will only always ever choose evil. Over and over we see in Scripture people

living out their natural will which always ends in enmity towards God and his commands.

 

Jdg 2:11 And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals.

 

Jdg 3:7 And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. They forgot the LORD their God and served the Baals and the Asheroth.

Psa 7:11 God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day.

 

In judges we are told the people of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord. From the time frame the last Judge Samuel was instrumental in God appointing a King over Israel. The people rejected God as their King and wanted like to be like the other nations with a visible ruler. God has told them the downfall of such an arrangement and how eventually that would lead to their destruction and slavery.

 

1Sa 12:13 And now behold the king whom you have chosen, for whom you have asked; behold, the LORD has set a king over you.

1Sa 12:14 If you will fear the LORD and serve him and obey his voice and not rebel against the commandment of the LORD, and if both you and the king who reigns over you will follow the LORD your God, it will be well.

1Sa 12:15  But if you will not obey the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then the hand of the LORD will be against you and your king.

1Sa 12:17 Is it not wheat harvest today? I will call upon the LORD, that he may send thunder and rain. And you shall know and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the LORD, in asking for yourselves a king.”

 

  1. Evil rulers

When a nation turns its heart and mind from the truth God judges that nation in several ways the first of which in my opinion is with evil rulers. As he appoints kings and rulers through His divine providence his first act against a nation is the appointing of an evil ruler. If the Word is to be believed we see that God operates from His divine will and decrees. The first step in judgment is an evil ruler as the scriptures below illustrate. From Pharaoh to the Pharisees to Caesar God has a ruler in place to act according to his divine prerogatives. It naturally flows from an evil ruler we will receive evil rules.

 

He looses the bonds of kings and binds a waistcloth on their hips.

(Job 12:18 ESV)

 

He makes nations great, and he destroys them; he enlarges nations, and leads them away. He takes away understanding from the chiefs of the people of the earth and makes them wander in a trackless waste. They grope in the dark without light, and he makes them stagger like a drunken man.

(Job 12:23-25)

 

 

The dogs have a mighty appetite; they never have enough. But they are shepherds who have no understanding; they have all turned to their own way, each to his own gain, one and all. “Come,” they say, “let me get wine; let us fill ourselves with strong drink; and tomorrow will be like this day, great beyond measure.”

(Isaiah 56:11-13 ESV)

 

 

He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him.

(Daniel 2:21-22 ESV)

 

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.

(Romans 13:1 ESV)

 

 

Exo 4:21 And the LORD said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in your power. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go.

Exo 7:2 You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall tell Pharaoh to let the people of Israel go out of his land.

Exo 7:3 But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt,

Exo 7:4 Pharaoh will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and bring my hosts, my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment.

Jdg 3:5 So the people of Israel lived among the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.

Jdg 3:6 And their daughters they took to themselves for wives, and their own daughters they gave to their sons, and they served their gods.

Jdg 3:7 And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. They forgot the LORD their God and served the Baals and the Asheroth.

Jdg 3:8 Therefore the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of Cushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia. And the people of Israel served Cushan-rishathaim eight years.

Jdg 3:12  And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done what was evil in the sight of the LORD.

Jdg 3:13 He gathered to himself the Ammonites and the Amalekites, and went and defeated Israel. And they took possession of the city of palms.

Jdg 3:14 And the people of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years.

Jdg 4:1 And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD after Ehud died.

Jdg 4:2 And the LORD sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. The commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth-hagoyim.

Jdg 6:1 The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD gave them into the hand of Midian seven years.

Jdg 6:2  And the hand of Midian overpowered Israel, and because of Midian the people of Israel made for themselves the dens that are in the mountains and the caves and the strongholds.

1Ki 13:33  After this thing Jeroboam did not turn from his evil way, but made priests for the high places again from among all the people. Any who would, he ordained to be priests of the high places.

Mat 12:13 Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other.

Mat 12:14 But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him.

Mat 14:6 But when Herod’s birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company and pleased Herod,

Mat 14:7 so that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask.

Mat 14:8 Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter.”

Mat 14:9 And the king was sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he commanded it to be given.

Mat 14:10 He sent and had John beheaded in the prison,

Mat 14:11 and his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother.

Mat 23:2 “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat,

Mat 23:3 so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice.

Mar 12:39 and have the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts,

Mar 12:40 who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

Luk 20:46 “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts,

Luk 20:47 who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

 

  1. Evil Laws

As a result of evil rulers the law that flows from a wicked mind will do its best to destroy the boundaries that God established for his people and their nation.  The further we move from obedience to God the more we need to remake laws and rules to keep that distance. This pattern of behavior repeats itself throughout history in sacred Scripture and in historical accounts, punishing the people who are obedient to God.

 

Exo 5:4 But the king of Egypt said to them, “Moses and Aaron, why do you take the people away from their work? Get back to your burdens.”

Exo 5:5 And Pharaoh said, “Behold, the people of the land are now many, and you make them rest from their burdens!”

Exo 5:6 The same day Pharaoh commanded the taskmasters of the people and their foremen,

Exo 5:7 “You shall no longer give the people straw to make bricks, as in the past; let them go and gather straw for themselves.

Exo 5:8 But the number of bricks that they made in the past you shall impose on them, you shall by no means reduce it, for they are idle. Therefore they cry, ‘Let us go and offer sacrifice to our God.’

Exo 5:9 Let heavier work be laid on the men that they may labor at it and pay no regard to lying words.”

Exo 5:10 So the taskmasters and the foremen of the people went out and said to the people, “Thus says Pharaoh, ‘I will not give you straw.

Exo 5:11 Go and get your straw yourselves wherever you can find it, but your work will not be reduced in the least.'”

 

1Ki 12:12 So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king said, “Come to me again the third day.”

1Ki 12:13  And the king answered the people harshly, and forsaking the counsel that the old men had given him,

1Ki 12:14  he spoke to them according to the counsel of the young men, saying, “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.”

1Ki 12:15  So the king did not listen to the people, for it was a turn of affairs brought about by the LORD that he might fulfill his word, which the LORD spoke by Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat.

1Ki 12:16  And when all Israel saw that the king did not listen to them, the people answered the king, “What portion do we have in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse. To your tents, O Israel! Look now to your own house, David.” So Israel went to their tents.

Est 3:8  Then Haman said to King Ahasuerus, “There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom. Their laws are different from those of every other people, and they do not keep the king’s laws, so that it is not to the king’s profit to tolerate them.

Est 3:9  If it please the king, let it be decreed that they be destroyed, and I will pay 10,000 talents of silver into the hands of those who have charge of the king’s business, that they may put it into the king’s treasuries.”

Dan 3:3  Then the satraps, the prefects, and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the justices, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces gathered for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. And they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

Dan 3:4  And the herald proclaimed aloud, “You are commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages,

Dan 3:5  that when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up.

Dan 3:6  And whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace.”

Dan 6:12  Then they came near and said before the king, concerning the injunction, “O king! Did you not sign an injunction, that anyone who makes petition to any god or man within thirty days except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions?” The king answered and said, “The thing stands fast, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be revoked.”

Dan 6:13  Then they answered and said before the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or the injunction you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day.”

 

1Ti 1:6  Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion,

1Ti 1:7  desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.

1Ti 1:8  Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully,

 

  1. Removal of discernment

One of the gifts of the Spirit is discernment

Deu 28:20  “The LORD will send on you curses, confusion, and frustration in all that you undertake to do, until you are destroyed and perish quickly on account of the evil of your deeds, because you have forsaken me.

 

Jdg 21:25  In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

He leads priests away stripped and overthrows the mighty. He deprives of speech those who are trusted and takes away the discernment of the elders.

(Job 12:19-20 ESV)

 

Pro 1:2  To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight,

Pro 1:3  to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity;

Pro 1:4  to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth—

Ecc 8:2  I say: Keep the king’s command, because of God’s oath to him.

Ecc 8:3  Be not hasty to go from his presence. Do not take your stand in an evil cause, for he does whatever he pleases.

Ecc 8:4  For the word of the king is supreme, and who may say to him, “What are you doing?”

Ecc 8:5  Whoever keeps a command will know no evil thing, and the wise heart will know the proper time and the just way.

Ecc 8:6  For there is a time and a way for everything, although man’s trouble lies heavy on him.

Ecc 8:7  For he does not know what is to be, for who can tell him how it will be?

Ecc 8:8  No man has power to retain the spirit, or power over the day of death. There is no discharge from war, nor will

wickedness deliver those who are given to it.

1Ki 3:9  Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?”

1Ki 3:10  It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this.

1Ki 3:11  And God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right,

1Ki 9:6  But if you turn aside from following me, you or your children, and do not keep my commandments and my statutes that I have set before you, but go and serve other gods and worship them,

1Ki 9:7  then I will cut off Israel from the land that I have given them, and the house that I have consecrated for my name I will cast out of my sight, and Israel will become a proverb and a byword among all peoples.

1Ki 9:8  And this house will become a heap of ruins. Everyone passing by it will be astonished and will hiss, and they will say, ‘Why has the LORD done thus to this land and to this house?’

1Ki 9:9  Then they will say, ‘Because they abandoned the LORD their God who brought their fathers out of the land of Egypt and laid hold on other gods and worshiped them and served them. Therefore the LORD has brought all this disaster on them.'”

1Ki 11:4  For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father.

1Ki 11:5  For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.

1Ki 11:6  So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and did not wholly follow the LORD, as David his father had done.

1Ki 11:11  Therefore the LORD said to Solomon, “Since this has been your practice and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes that I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant.

Isa 53:6  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Jer 7:26  Yet they did not listen to me or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck. They did worse than their fathers.

Jer 7:27  “So you shall speak all these words to them, but they will not listen to you. You shall call to them, but they will not answer you.

Jer 7:28  And you shall say to them, ‘This is the nation that did not obey the voice of the LORD their God, and did not accept discipline; truth has perished; it is cut off from their lips.

Eze 12:2  “Son of man, you dwell in the midst of a rebellious house, who have eyes to see, but see not, who have ears to hear, but hear not, for they are a rebellious house.

Mat 24:11  And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.

Luk 12:56  You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

Luk 12:57  “And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?

Joh 8:43  Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word.

Rom 3:10  as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one;

Rom 3:11  no one understands; no one seeks for God.

Rom 3:12  All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

1Co 2:14  The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

2Co 12:7  So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.

Heb 5:11  About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.

Heb 5:12  For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food,

 

 

  1. Removal of Common Grace (restraining of evil)

 

Gen 20:6  Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her.

Deu 9:4  “Do not say in your heart, after the LORD your God has thrust them out before you, ‘It is because of my righteousness that the LORD has brought me in to possess this land,’ whereas it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is driving them out before you.

Deu 9:5  Not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart are you going in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations the LORD your God is driving them out from before you, and that he may confirm the word that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.

Deu 31:18  And I will surely hide my face in that day because of all the evil that they have done, because they have turned to other gods.

Deu 28:28  The LORD will strike you with madness and blindness and confusion of mind,

Deu 28:29  and you shall grope at noonday, as the blind grope in darkness, and you shall not prosper in your ways. And you shall be only oppressed and robbed continually, and there shall be no one to help you.

 

2Ki 19:27  “But I know your sitting down and your going out and coming in, and your raging against me.

2Ki 19:28  Because you have raged against me and your complacency has come into my ears, I will put my hook in your nose and my bit in your mouth, and I will turn you back on the way by which you came.

Psa 32:8  I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.

Psa 32:9  Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you.

Psa 32:10  Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD.

Psa 76:10  Surely the wrath of man shall praise you; the remnant of wrath you will put on like a belt.

Psa 103:10  He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.

 

Psa 145:8  The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

Psa 145:9  The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.

1Sa 25:32  And David said to Abigail, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me!

1Sa 25:33  Blessed be your discretion, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodguilt and from working salvation with my own hand!

1Sa 25:34  For as surely as the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, who has restrained me from hurting you, unless you had hurried and come to meet me, truly by morning there had not been left to Nabal so much as one male.”

Isa 44:17  And the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. He prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god!”

Isa 44:18  They know not, nor do they discern, for he has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, and their hearts, so that they cannot understand.

Isa 44:19  No one considers, nor is there knowledge or discernment to say, “Half of it I burned in the fire; I also baked bread on its coals; I roasted meat and have eaten. And shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?”

Isa 44:20  He feeds on ashes; a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?”

 

Isa 63:17  O LORD, why do you make us wander from your ways and harden our heart, so that we fear you not? Return for the sake of your servants, the tribes of your heritage.

Psa 81:10  I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.

Psa 81:11  “But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would not submit to me.

Psa 81:12  So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels.

Jer 7:26  Yet they did not listen to me or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck. They did worse than their fathers.

Jer 7:27  “So you shall speak all these words to them, but they will not listen to you. You shall call to them, but they will not answer you.

Jer 7:28  And you shall say to them, ‘This is the nation that did not obey the voice of the LORD their God, and did not accept discipline; truth has perished; it is cut off from their lips.

 

Jer 46:28  Fear not, O Jacob my servant, declares the LORD, for I am with you. I will make a full end of all the nations to which I have driven you, but of you I will not make a full end. I will discipline you in just measure, and I will by no means leave you unpunished.”

Eze 20:44  And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I deal with you for my name’s sake, not according to your evil ways, nor according to your corrupt deeds, O house of Israel, declares the Lord GOD.”

 

Nah 1:3  The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, and the LORD will by no means clear the guilty. His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.

Dan 9:18  O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy.

 

Mat 5:45  so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

Mat 24:10  And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another.

Mat 24:12  And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.

Joh 7:43  So there was a division among the people over him.

Joh 7:44  Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.

Joh 7:45  The officers then came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why did you not bring him?”

Joh 19:11  Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.”

Rom 1:17  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

Rom 1:18  For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.

Rom 1:19  For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.

Rom 1:20  For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

Rom 4:16  That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all,

Rom 4:17  as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.

Rom 9:15  For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”

Rom 9:16  So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.

 

Tit 3:4  But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared,

Tit 3:5  he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,

 

  1. Destruction

Gen 6:5  The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

Gen 6:6  And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.

Gen 6:7  So the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.”

 

 

Exo 4:22  Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the LORD, Israel is my firstborn son,

Exo 4:23  and I say to you, “Let my son go that he may serve me.” If you refuse to let him go, behold, I will kill your firstborn son.'”

Num 32:13  And the LORD’s anger was kindled against Israel, and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation that had done evil in the sight of the LORD was gone.

Deu 1:35  ‘Not one of these men of this evil generation shall see the good land that I swore to give to your fathers,

Deu 30:15  “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil.

Deu 30:16  If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you today, by loving the LORD your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it.

Deu 30:17  But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them,

Deu 30:18  I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess.

 

Jos 11:18  Joshua made war a long time with all those kings.

Jos 11:19  There was not a city that made peace with the people of Israel except the Hivites, the inhabitants of Gibeon. They took them all in battle.

Jos 11:20  For it was the LORD’s doing to harden their hearts that they should come against Israel in battle, in order that they should be devoted to destruction and should receive no mercy but be destroyed, just as the LORD commanded Moses.

Jos 11:21  And Joshua came at that time and cut off the Anakim from the hill country, from Hebron, from Debir, from Anab, and from all the hill country of Judah, and from all the hill country of Israel. Joshua devoted them to destruction with their cities.

Jos 11:22  There was none of the Anakim left in the land of the people of Israel. Only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod did some remain.

1Ki 9:6  But if you turn aside from following me, you or your children, and do not keep my commandments and my statutes that I have set before you, but go and serve other gods and worship them,

1Ki 9:7  then I will cut off Israel from the land that I have given them, and the house that I have consecrated for my name I will cast out of my sight, and Israel will become a proverb and a byword among all peoples.

1Ki 9:8  And this house will become a heap of ruins. Everyone passing by it will be astonished and will hiss, and they will say, ‘Why has the LORD done thus to this land and to this house?’

1Ki 11:9  And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice

1Ki 11:10  and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods. But he did not keep what the LORD commanded.

1Ki 11:11  Therefore the LORD said to Solomon, “Since this has been your practice and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes that I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant.

Jer 5:3  O LORD, do not your eyes look for truth? You have struck them down, but they felt no anguish; you have consumed them, but they refused to take correction. They have made their faces harder than rock; they have refused to repent.

Eze 14:7  For any one of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who sojourn in Israel, who separates himself from me, taking his idols into his heart and putting the stumbling block of his iniquity before his face, and yet comes to a prophet to consult me through him, I the LORD will answer him myself.

Eze 14:8  And I will set my face against that man; I will make him a sign and a byword and cut him off from the midst of my people, and you shall know that I am the LORD.

 

Mat 24:1  Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple.

Mat 24:2  But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”

Mat 24:3  As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

Mat 24:4  And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray.

Mat 24:5  For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray.

Mat 24:6  And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet.

Mat 24:7  For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places.

at 24:15  “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand),

Mat 24:16  then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.

Mat 24:17  Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house,

Mat 24:18  and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak.

Mat 24:19  And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days!

Mat 24:20  Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath.

Mat 24:21  For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be.

Mat 24:22  And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.

Rev 2:20  But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.

Rev 2:21  I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality.

Rev 2:22  Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works,

Rev 2:23  and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works.

 

 

A proper response

 

Gen 8:21 And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done.

 

Job 42:6  therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

 

Psa 7:12  If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword; he has bent and readied his bow;

Eze 18:30  “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, declares the Lord GOD. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin.

 

Joe 2:11  The LORD utters his voice before his army, for his camp is exceedingly great; he who executes his word is powerful. For the day of the LORD is great and very awesome; who can endure it?

Joe 2:12  “Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;

Joe 2:13  and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.

Mat 3:2  “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Mat 4:17  From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Mar 1:15  and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Mar 6:12  So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent.

Luk 13:3  No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.

Luk 16:29  But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’

Luk 16:30  And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’

Luk 16:31  He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.

Act 2:37  Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

Act 2:38  And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Act 2:39  For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

Act 2:40  And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.”

Act 2:41  So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

Act 3:19  Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out,

Act 3:20  that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus,

Act 3:21  whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.

Act 17:30  The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,

Act 17:31  because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

Rev 2:5  Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.

Rev 2:16  Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth.

 

[1] Sproul, R. C. (2005-06-01). What is Reformed Theology?: Understanding the Basics (Kindle Locations 1756-1762). Baker Book Group – A. Kindle Edition.

 

 

Christians are not ??

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Saved on January 19, 2014 at 7:31 am

“Christians are not to destroy error by force, but should work the salvation of men by persuasion, instruction, and love” – St. Chrysostom
“If I had my way, I would declare a moratorium on public preaching of ‘the plan of salvation’ in America for one to two years. Then I would call on everyone who has use of the airwaves and the pulpits to preach the holiness of God, the righteousness of God, and the Law of God until sinners would cry out, ‘What must we do to be saved?” Then I would take them off in a corner and whisper the gospel to them. Don’t use John 3:16. Such drastic action is needed because we have a gospel hardened generation of sinners by telling them how to be saved before they have any understanding why they need to be saved.”
“A person repents when he comes to the place where he discovers that the will of God is the government of his life and the glory of God is the reason for his life. He only has repented who has changed his mind about his reason for being.”
― Paris Reidhead
“If you have no opposition in the place you serve, you’re serving in the wrong place.” – G. Campbell Morgan
“My soul! I beg you to pray for the men of God who are preaching a Christ Who is holy and is very offensive; instead of the nice Jesus that everybody loves today. God’s children need to pray for the men of God to have broken hearts and open doors.” – Rolfe Barnard
“If you feel that you can follow a few little rules or some clever gimmicks to make you a mature Christian, then you have fallen into a subtle trap of legalism.” – J. Vernon McGee
“Most church members live so far below the standard, you would have to backslide to be in fellowship with them.” – Vance Havner
“Now, mark this: by this shall you know whether you are a child of God, or not; by the respect that you have to your Father’s Word. If you have small respect for that Word, the evidences of a bastard are upon you.” – C.H. Spurgeon
“God forbid that I should travel with anybody a quarter of an hour without speaking of Christ to them.” – George Whitfield
“The way to Heaven is ascending; we must be content to travel uphill, though it be hard and tiresome, and contrary to the natural bias of our flesh.” – Jonathan Edwards
“Let us beware of loving the world more than Christ. Entreat people to repent and come to Christ; but bid them at the same time to count the cost.” – J.C. Ryle
“Vast multitudes of professing Christians fit into the category spoken of here. They call Jesus ‘Lord,’ but they practice lawlessness. They profess faith in Jesus, but have no regard for the divine law.” – Ray Comfort
“If we had more hell in the pulpit, we would have less hell in the pew. Suppose you could gain everything in the whole world, and lost your soul. Was it worth it?” – Billy Graham
“Why grow we weary when asked to watch with our Lord? Up, sluggish heart, Jesus calls thee! Rise and go forth to meet the Heavenly Friend in the place where He manifests Himself.” – E.M. Bounds
“A spiritual awakening is no more than God’s people seeing God in His holiness, turning from their wicked ways, and being transformed into His likeness.” – Lewis Drummond
“Nothing that is God’s is obtainable by money.” – Tertullian
“Satan tempts to sin under a pretence of religion. He is most to be feared when he transforms himself into an angel of light. He came to Christ with Scriptures in his mouth.” – Thomas Watson
“The Church is not a gallery for the exhibition of eminent Christians, but a school for the education of imperfect ones.” – Henry Ward Beecher
“God’s patience is infinite. Men, like small kettles, boil quickly with wrath at the least wrong. Not so God. If God were as wrathful, the world would have been a heap of ruins long ago.” – Sadhu Sundar Singh
“O, God of wonder, enlarge my capacity to be amazed at what is amazing, and end my attraction to the insignificant.” – John Piper
“Worry is a cycle of inefficient thoughts whirling around a center of fear.” – Corrie ten Boom
“It is scarcely possible in most places to get anyone to attend a meeting where the only attraction is God.” – A.W. Tozer
“Christian living is not a method or technique. It is the principle of an exchanged life.” – Major Ian Thomas
“The one thing we are missing is pentecost. how we have forgotten this in our churches.” – Bill McLeod
“I think we, every one of us, ought to be humiliated or humbled every time we pick up the book of Acts and read the glory that attended the life of that first church.” – Art Katz
“George Mueller, nothing. The Lord Jesus, everything. In himself worse than nothing. By grace, in Christ, the son of the King.” – George Mueller
To close these excerpts from those who God entrusted with the good news of the Gospel!
Borrowing from George Mueller: Dan nothing. The Lord Jesus everything. In myself worse than nothing! By grace, in Christ, the son of the King!!
The greatest way to express God’s love to a lost soul is to show how great the sin is using the Law!
Romans 7:12-13 ESV
(12) So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
(13) Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.
Galatians 3:24 ESV
(24) So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.

Jesus told Mary at the tomb Do not Cling

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Sunday School, Trinity on December 19, 2013 at 5:37 am

John 20:17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'”

I cannot add any insight better written or better understood! In the resurrection the Triune God reveals His glory!

I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God; God was his Father, not by creation, as he is to angels, and the souls of men, and therefore is called the Father of spirits; nor by adoption, as he is to the saints; nor with respect to the incarnation of Christ, for, as man, he had no father; or with regard to his office as Mediator, for as such he was a servant, and not a Son; but he was his Father by nature, or with regard to his divine person, being begotten of him, and so his own proper Son, and he his own proper Father; which hold forth the natural and eternal sonship of Christ, his equality with him, and distinction from him: and God was the Father of his disciples by adopting grace, in virtue of the covenant of grace made with Christ, and through their spiritual relation to him, as the natural and eternal Son of God: God the Father is the God of Christ as man, who prepared, formed, anointed, supported, and glorified his human nature; and in which nature, he prayed to him as his God, believed in him, loved and obeyed him as such; wherefore the Jew (o) very wrongly infers from hence, that he is not God, because the God of Israel was his God; since this is spoken of him as he is man: and he was the God of his disciples, in and by the covenant of grace made with Christ, as their head and representative; so that their interest in God, as their covenant God and Father, was founded upon his being the God and Father of Christ, and their relation to, and concern with him; and which therefore must be firm and lasting, and will hold as long as God is the God and Father of Christ: this was good news to be brought to his disciples; which, as it carried the strongest marks of affection, and expressions of nearness of relation; and implied, that he was now risen from the dead; so it signified, that he should ascend to God, who stood in the same relation to them, as to him; when he should use all his interest and influence on their behalf, whilst they were on earth; and when the proper time was come for a remove, that they might be with him, and with his God and Father and theirs, where they would be to all eternity.

(o) R. Isaac Chizzuk Emuna, par. 2. c. 58. p. 446.

I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God—words of incomparable glory! Jesus had called God habitually His Father, and on one occasion, in His darkest moment, His God. But both are here united, expressing that full-orbed relationship which embraces in its vast sweep at once Himself and His redeemed. Yet, note well, He says not, Our Father and our God. All the deepest of the Church fathers were wont to call attention to this, as expressly designed to distinguish between what God is to Him and to us—His Father essentially, ours not so: our God essentially, His not so: His God only in connection with us: our Father only in connection with Him.
Accordingly, either the words, “Touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to my Father,” had this meaning, that by this woman the Church of the Gentiles was symbolized, which did not believe on Christ till He had actually ascended to the Father, or that in this way Christ wished Himself to be believed on; in other words, to be touched spiritually, that He and the Father are one. For He has in a manner ascended to the Father, to the inward perception of him who has made such progress in the knowledge of Christ that he acknowledges Him as equal with the Father: in any other way He is not rightly touched, that is to say, in any other way He is not rightly believed on. But Mary might have still so believed as to account Him unequal with the Father, and this certainly is forbidden her by the words, “Touch me not;” that is, Believe not thus on me according to thy present notions; let not your thoughts stretch outwards to what I have been made in thy behalf, without passing beyond to that whereby thou hast thyself been made. For how could it be otherwise than carnally that she still believed on Him whom she was weeping over as a man? “For I am not yet ascended,” He says, “to my Father:” there shalt thou touch me, when thou believest me to be God, in no wise unequal with the Father. “But go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father.” He saith not, Our Father: in one sense, therefore, is He mine, in another sense, yours; by nature mine, by grace yours. “And my God, and your God.” Nor did He say here, Our God: here, therefore, also is He in one sense mine, in another sense yours: my God, under whom I also am as man; your God, between whom and you I am mediator
One at the head, and the other at the foot. The fact that Matthew mentions only one angel does not contradict John’s story. Both angels did not speak to Mary at once; this was done by the one who was commissioned for it. There is not much to Augustine’s allegory that the position of these angels indicates the course of the future preaching of the gospel, from the place where the sun rises to the place where it goes under. In this place, it is more worth-while to notice the auspices under which Christ ushered in the glory of his Kingdom. When the angels honored Christ’s grave [with their presence], they exhibited his celestial majesty. But they did so without abolishing the ignominy of the cross.
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Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997), Jn 20:17.
Augustine of Hippo, “Lectures or Tractates on the Gospel According to St. John,” in A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series: St. Augustin: Homilies on the Gospel of John, Homilies on the First Epistle of John, Soliloquies, ed. Philip Schaff, trans. John Gibb and James Innes, vol. 7 (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1888), 438.
Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. John 20:17.
This does not seem to agree with the account in Matthew (28:9): for he writes openly that the women embraced the feet of Christ. Now, since Christ allowed himself to be touched by his disciples, why did he forbid Mary? The answer is easy, if we only remember that Jesus did not repel them until they overdid their desire to touch him. When it was a matter of removing doubt, then surely he did not forbid them. But when he saw that they held on to his feet, he calmed their excessive zeal, and corrected it. They clung to his bodily presence, because they knew only an earthly way of enjoying him. The truth is that Jesus did not forbid them to touch him until he saw their stupid and excited desire to keep him here on earth. Let us note therefore the reason he gave for the prohibition: for I am not yet ascended to the Father. By these words, he commanded the women to control themselves until he was received into heavenly glory. Finally, in this way, he pointed out that the purpose of his resurrection was quite different from their fancy about it. He was come to life again not to triumph in the world, but rather to ascend to heaven and to take possession of the Kingdom which had been promised to him; to reign over the church at the right hand of God, by the power of his Spirit.…
I ascend unto my Father. With the word ascend, he confirms what I have said before. For certainly he rose from the dead not to linger awhile longer on earth, but so that, having entered the heavenly life, he might draw the faithful to him. In short, with this word the apostle forbids us merely to stop with resurrection. He bids us to go forward until we arrive at the spiritual Kingdom, at heavenly glory, at God himself. Therefore this word, ascend, is very emphatic; Christ stretches out his hand to his own, so that they may seek their happiness nowhere but in heaven. For where our treasure is, there also must our heart be (Matt. 6:21). Now, Christ declares that he is about to ascend on high; therefore, let us also rise with him, if we would not be separated from him. Furthermore, when he adds that he will ascend, he quickly dispels the sadness and anxiety of his disciples because he was to leave them behind. He wants them to know that by his divine power he will always be with them. Ascend indeed implies distant places; but even though Christ is absent bodily, because he is with God, his spiritual power, which works everywhere, shows clearly that he is present with us. Why indeed did he ascend to the Father, except, seated at his right hand, to reign in heaven and on earth? Finally, with this statement Jesus intended to commend the divine power of his reign, so that his bodily absence might not trouble his disciples.
And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. Rom. 1:4.
If you prefer, “designated” to be the Son, etc. (definitus). He means that the power of the resurrection, by which he was pronounced the Son of God, was as it were a decree; as in Ps. 2:7, I have this day begotten thee. “Begotten” in this verse means actually “made known.” Some find in this verse three evidences of the divinity of Christ: his power for working miracles, the witness of the Spirit, and his resurrection from the dead. I prefer to put the three together into one as follows: Christ was designated the Son of God when he rose from the dead, by an open exercise of true heavenly power, which was the power of the Spirit; but the knowledge of this power is sealed in our hearts by the same Spirit. The language of the apostle agrees well with this interpretation. The power with which he was declared, or the power which shone forth in Christ, that is, in his resurrection, was God’s own power; and this proves that he was God. The same point becomes clear in another place where Paul confesses that Christ’s death revealed him as subject to the infirmity of the flesh, and extols the power of the Spirit in his resurrection (2 Cor. 13:4). But this glorious work cannot be known by us unless the Spirit himself impresses it upon our hearts. The very fact that Paul calls the Spirit the Spirit of holiness, shows that in his mind the same wonderful efficacy of the Spirit revealed in the resurrection of Christ from the dead is to be seen in the witness which individual believers know in their hearts. He means that as the Spirit sanctifies, he shows and ratifies the power which he exercised once before in raising Christ from the dead. The various titles which Scripture gives to the Spirit fortify the present argument. For instance, our Lord calls him the Spirit of truth, because he effects truth in believers (John 14:17).
Besides, the power shown forth in Christ’s resurrection was his own as well as God’s; as is evident from the sayings: Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up (John 2:19); and, No one takes my life; of myself, etc. (John 10:18). For he did not beg his victory over death (to which he yielded by the infirmity of the flesh) from another, but achieved it by the working of his own Spirit.
________________________________________________________
Joseph Haroutunian and Louise Pettibone Smith, Calvin: Commentaries (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1958), 169–171.

John 20:18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.
John 20:19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
John 20:20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.

John 20:21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”
John 20:22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.

20:22 “He breathed on them” This is a word play on the term “breathed.” The Hebrew ruach and Greek pneuma can mean “breathe,” “wind,” or “spirit.” It was used in the OT of God’s creative activity in Gen. 2:7 and the revitalization of Israel in Ezek. 37:5, 9. The pronoun “them” refers to a wider group than just the Apostles (cf. Luke 24:33).
© “Receive the Holy Spirit” This is an AORIST ACTIVE IMPERATIVE. How this relates to the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost is uncertain. Jesus fulfilled everything that He promised the disciples at this first appearance. It is related to Jesus’ equipping them for their new ministry assignment as the Spirit equipped Him at His baptism.
This verse was used in the early church’s fight over the question of the Spirit proceeding from the Father or from the Father and the Son. In reality all three persons of the Trinity are involved in all the acts of redemption.
In A Theology of the New Testament, George Ladd summarizes the possible interpretations of this passage:
“This passage raises difficulties in the light of the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost, which may be solved in one of three ways. Either John did not know about Pentecost and substitutes this story so that it becomes in effect the Johannine Pentecost; or there were actually two gifts of the Spirit; or Jesus’ breathing on the disciples was an acted parable promissory and anticipatory to the actual coming of the Spirit at Pentecost” (p. 289).
___________________________________________________________________________
Robert James Utley, The Beloved Disciple’s Memoirs and Letters: The Gospel of John, I, II, and III John, vol. Volume 4, Study Guide Commentary Series (Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International, 1999), 179.

John 20:23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

20:23 “If you forgive the sins of any” These are two THIRD CLASS CONDITIONAL SENTENCES with an which is usually used with SECOND CLASS CONDITIONAL SENTENCES, not ean. This mixed condition heightens the contingency which relates both to those who share the Gospel and to those who respond by faith. Someone with the gospel knowledge chooses to share it and someone hears it and chooses to receive it. Both aspects are required. This verse does not give arbitrary authority to clergy, but wonderful life-giving power to believing witnesses! This authority was evidenced in the mission trip of the seventy during Jesus’ life.
© “their sins have been forgiven them” This grammatical construction is a PERFECT PASSIVE INDICATIVE. The PASSIVE VOICE implies God’s forgiveness, available completely through gospel proclamation. Believers have the keys of the kingdom (cf. Matt. 16:19) if they will only use them. This promise is to the Church, not individuals. This is theologically similar to “the bound and unbound” of Matt. 18:18.
_______________________________________________________
Robert James Utley, The Beloved Disciple’s Memoirs and Letters: The Gospel of John, I, II, and III John, vol. Volume 4, Study Guide Commentary Series (Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International, 1999), 179.
The resurrection of Jesus reveals to not only the disciples but to us as his followers what our mission is. This small section of Scripture contains so much in regards to our hope and our own resurrection to be with the Father because of the Son. Jesus introduces how the Holy Spirit will be joined to our lives. There is a lot of speculation concerning Jesus breathing on the disciples and the coming Pentecost 50 days later. This action suited the Father’s plan as the Son accomplishes the sending of the Spirit and gives us the application of the role of the Spirit. What hope! What victory! If we truly have received the Holy Spirit our only recourse is eternal gratitude by sharing with others this gift given us by our Heavenly Father. Our mission is to glorify the Father through the Son by the Spirit! The Spirit teaches us to glorify the Son because that is his role as well. Because of the gift of God his eternal Son whose death and resurrection honored the Father we join with the Spirit in giving glory to the Son. Praise! Glory! Honor! Hallelujah! Amen.

Prayer, Confusion, Silence, Contemplation, Convection, Connection, Answer!

In Apologetics, Prayer, Trinity on July 19, 2011 at 8:21 pm

Maybe I am the only one who gets the feeling my prayers are bouncing off the ceiling. Sometimes going through the motions and being obedient seems more labor than joy. Do I really know how and what to pray for? I read these wonderful prayers in Psalms, see answered prayers in the New Testament and then I am tempted to quit: why because I see prayer as a magic answer machine? Do I anticipate every prayer will end in the affirmative (yes to all I want)? Then there is the insufferable silence to the real issues I am concerned with, it seems I have shouted a whisper in the Grand Canyon. Is something missing am I doing it wrong? Is there a right way, a procedure that I got wrong? Then I become aware through the scripture of the sin in my life that is offensive to the very One I am praying to! A great example to illustrate this would be an odor that takes your breath and requires you to cover your mouth and nose in order to breath. That kind of offence (don’t push the metaphor too far) for the very Saviour who cleansed me from the very thing I try not to do but do it anyway. The apostle Paul was fighting this battle himself when he wrote this:

Romans 7:22 HCSB For in my inner self I joyfully agree with God’s law. But I see a different law in the parts of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I myself am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh, to the law of sin.

Then who do we pray too? If God is the uncaused cause the infinite personal we are separated from God on the side of His infinity. I am separated from God in the area of His being the Creator and the infinite. Christianity says man is now abnormal-he is separated from his creator, who is his only sufficient reference point-not by a metaphysical limitation, but by true moral guilt. As a result, he is now also separated from his fellowmen, and from himself. Therefore, when he is involved in cruelty, he is not being true to what he was initially created to be. Cruelty is a symptom of abnormality and a result of a moral, historic, space – time fall. When man sins, he brings forth what is contrary to the moral law of the universe, and as a result, he is morally and legally guilty. Because man is guilty before the Lawgiver of the universe, doing what is contrary to his character, His sin is significant and he is morally significant in a significant history. Man has true moral guilt.

In a quote from Andrew Murray’s book Holy in Christ, (p130-131) he asks the question “Can a merely Unitarian God answering prayer?” He poses some questions:

One of the secret difficulties with regard to prayer—one which, though not expressed, does often really hinder prayer—is derived from the perfection of God, in His absolute independence of all that is outside of Himself. Is He not the Infinite Being, who owes what He is to Himself alone, who determines Himself, and whose wise and holy will has determined all that is to be? How can prayer influence Him, or He be moved by prayer to do what otherwise would not be done? Is not the promise of an answer to prayer simply a condescension to our weakness? Is what is said of the power—the much-availing power—of prayer anything more than an accommodation to our mode of thought, because the Deity never can be dependent on any action from without for its doings? And is not the blessing of prayer simply the influence it exercises upon ourselves?

Murray continues with the answers:

In seeking an answer to such questions, we find the key in the very being of God, in the mystery of the Holy Trinity. If God was only one Person, shut up within Himself, there could be no thought of nearness to Him or influence on Him. But in God there are three Persons. In God we have Father and Son, who have in the Holy Spirit their living bond of unity and fellowship. When eternal Love begat the Son, and the Father gave the Son as the Second Person a place next Himself as His Equal and His Counsellor, there was a way opened for prayer and its influence in the very inmost life of Deity itself. Just as on earth, so in heaven the whole relation between Father and Son is that of giving and taking.10 So the fact that God eternally exists as Father and Son (in the unity of the Holy Spirit) means that there is an opening, a space prepared, for the structure of asking-and-granting that is prayer: Just as the Sonship of Jesus on earth may not be separated from His Sonship in heaven, even so with His prayer on earth, it is the continuation and the counterpart of His asking in heaven. The prayer of the man Christ Jesus is the link between the eternal asking of the only-begotten Son in the bosom of the Father and the prayer of men upon earth. Prayer has its rise and its deepest source in the very Being of God. In the bosom of Deity nothing is ever done without prayer—the asking of the Son and the giving of the Father.11 Crucial for Murray was to resist the urge to think of some will of God that is antecedent to the Son and the Father, or some decision that was made behind the back of the Trinity, in the oneness of God that is not already triune. There is no such God, so there is no such divine will. The divine will is Trinitarian and is worked out according to the asking-and-granting structure revealed in the Son: This may help us somewhat to understand how the prayer of man, coming through the Son, can have effect upon God. The decrees of God are not decisions made by Him without reference to the Son, or His petition, or the petition to be sent up through Him. By no means. The Lord Jesus is the first-begotten, the Head and Heir of all things: all things were created through Him and unto Him, and all things consist in Him. In the counsels of the Father, the Son, as Representative of all creation, had always a voice; in the decrees of the eternal purpose there was always room left for the liberty of the Son as Mediator and Intercessor, and so for the petitions of all who draw nigh to the Father in the Son.12 I do not know how unitarian theists pray or how they think the all-determining God can leave open a space in his eternal counsels to take their wills into account. Murray argued that this is a real problem for anyone who would approach such a God with petitions or intercessions. But he found the solution to the problem in the triunity of God, which, far from being the source of intellectual difficulties, is the solution to many problems: It is in the daybreak light of such thoughts that the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity no longer is an abstract speculation, but the living manifestation of the way in which it were possible for man to be taken up into the fellowship of God, and his prayer to become a real factor in God’s rule of this earth. And we can, as in the distance, catch glimpses of the light that from the eternal world shines out on words such as these: “Through Him, we have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” [1]

Who do I pray to? The Father? The Son? The Spirit? God? The Trinity? All of the above? Here is the theologically correct answer: pray to the Father, in the name of the Son, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Most New Testament prayers follow that pattern. There are a few prayers to Jesus in the New Testament and, as far as I know, no recorded prayers to the Holy Spirit. But the Son is a divine person, and the Spirit is a divine person, and you can pray to them. But don’t forget what we’ve seen in the logic of mediation about the way the Spirit and the Son occupy the offices of intercessor and mediator to bring us before the Father. There is a current that runs that direction, and when you know that, you can immerse yourself in that current. It is the logic of how prayer is actually working anyway. Think about it: if you are in the habit of praying to Jesus, are you approaching Jesus the eternal Son of God on the basis of your own merits and deserving? No. Then on what basis? On the basis of his propitiation and mediation. Even prayer to Jesus has to be prayer in Jesus’ name.

How do we pray? The question was framed by the Apostles when they walked with the Son of God and he taught them true prayer that was illustrated in the model prayer. But just reciting the words turn the illustration from a self-examination and reverent conversation to a magical incantation. Or worse some words we recite without taking into account all that is required when we approach the throne of Grace.

(Luke 11:1-4 HCSB) He was praying in a certain place, and when He finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John also taught his disciples.” He said to them, “Whenever you pray, say: Father, Your name be honored as holy. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone in debt to us. And do not bring us into temptation.”

God the Father is our Father in a complex saving sense.: Father of Jesus by nature, Father of sinners by grace and adoption.We are by example to pray like a son of God, being adopted through the Messiah, Jesus the Christ and sealed by the Holy Spirit sent from the Father to seal us until that day.

In Matthew the language is the same!

Matthew 6:9 HCSB “Therefore, you should pray like this: Our Father in heaven, Your name be honored as holy.

Is He really our Father with the distance so great from eternity to here and now? In the law we are told to have no idols, to keep the Sabbath and honor His name. Can we really relate to Him as Father based on the law that is written on our hearts? Keeping His name Holy is more than reframing from improper use but living like a son who wants to honor his Father.

(Malachi 1:6 ESV) “A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. But you say, ‘How have we despised your name?’

(Exodus 20:7 ESV) “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

Matthew 6:10 HCSB Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Kingdom living comes from Kingdom thinking and always seeking God’s will on this earth. We are told by the Son in the power of the Spirit to lay down our lives, take up our cross and follow him. God’s will is expressed through the giving of the Son and our obedience to Him.

2 Peter 3:13 HCSB But based on His promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness will dwell.

(Exodus 20:3 ESV) “You shall have no other gods before me.

(Exodus 20:4 ESV) “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

(Exodus 20:5 ESV) You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me,

Matthew 6:11 HCSB Give us today our daily bread.

The Scripture speaks of not having because we don’t ask and we ask for what we don’t need. Our ungratefulness of His supply makes us obese in material things. It has been said we tire of bounty long before we tire of need. Provision beyond the wildest dreams of most of the world, yet we have a society so full of food it starves itself for attention, so full of greed it steels its own wealth, so full of self it kills it’s young for convenience sake.

Philippians 4:19 HCSB And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Matthew 6:12 HCSB and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

Forgiving is not forgetting that is ignoring the wrong incurred, denying the justice due. Forgiving is acknowledging the pain, the loss, the suffering understanding the value of the justice demanded and presenting it as gift to God who can multiply its bounty while satisfying the justice due. God tell us that revenge is His expertise and if we give our rightful demand for revenge to Him. He will satisfy all the requirements of justice and relieve us of the burden of carrying this oppressive emotion around with us.

Luke 23:34 HCSB [Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.”] And they divided His clothes and cast lots.

Rom 12:19 Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for His wrath. For it is written: Vengeance belongs to Me; I will repay, says the Lord.

Hebrews 10:30 For we know the One who has said, Vengeance belongs to Me, I will repay, and again, The Lord will judge His people.

Matthew 6:13 HCSB And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.]

This request may appear to contradict Jam_1:13, which states that God would never tempt anyone. However, God does allow His people to be tested and tried. This petition expresses a healthy distrust of one’s own ability to resist temptations or to stand up under trial. It acknowledges complete dependence on the Lord for preservation. This phrase, then, must be used in the sense of “permitting.” Do not “suffer” us, or “permit” us, to be tempted to sin. In this it is implied that God has such control over the tempter as to save us from his power if we call upon him. The word “temptation,” however (Mat_4:1), means sometimes “trial, affliction,” anything that “tests” our virtue. If this is the meaning here, as it may be, then the prayer may be phrased, “Do not afflict or try us.” It is not wrong to pray that we may be saved from suffering if it is the will of God. See Luk_22:42.

James 1:3 HCSB knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.

James 1:13 HCSB No one undergoing a trial should say, “I am being tempted by God.” For God is not tempted by evil, and He Himself doesn’t tempt anyone.

Matthew 4:1 HCSB Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil.

Our friend and teacher is the law not because it can save us. Only repentance, confession and the gift of faith God’s grace can bring salvation through the shed blood of His son. But the law can illumine and be our map on the road of life. Keeping the law is impossible without the Holy Spirit and divine strength, even then our flesh wages war against us. The law ever vigilant the Spirit indwelling us we walk the pilgrim’s pathway to our destiny.

Exodus 20:1 HCSB Then God spoke all these words:

Exodus 20:2 HCSB I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery.

Exodus 20:3 HCSB Do not have other gods besides Me.

Exodus 20:4 HCSB Do not make an idol for yourself, whether in the shape of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth.

Exodus 20:5 HCSB You must not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the fathers’ sin, to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me,

Exodus 20:6 HCSB but showing faithful love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commands.

Exodus 20:7 HCSB Do not misuse the name of the LORD your God, because the LORD will punish anyone who misuses His name.

Exodus 20:8 HCSB Remember to dedicate the Sabbath day:

Exodus 20:9 HCSB You are to labor six days and do all your work,

Exodus 20:10 HCSB but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. You must not do any work–you, your son or daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the foreigner who is within your gates.

Exodus 20:11 HCSB For the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and everything in them in six days; then He rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and declared it holy.

Exodus 20:12 HCSB Honor your father and your mother so that you may have a long life in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.

Exodus 20:13 HCSB Do not murder.

Exodus 20:14 HCSB Do not commit adultery.

Exodus 20:15 HCSB Do not steal.

Exodus 20:16 HCSB Do not give false testimony against your neighbor.

Exodus 20:17 HCSB Do not covet your neighbor’s house. Do not covet your neighbor’s wife, his male or female slave, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

If we take the law and examine our lives against its teaching no one measures up not even for a day. If the law is weighing heavy on your heart, repent, confess and accept Jesus the Christ as your King and Ruler. Not bowing to the King has eternal consequences as well as earthly punishments.

“The Church used to be a lifeboat rescuing the perishing. Now she is a cruise ship recruiting the promising.”

Leonard Ravenhill


[1] [1] Sanders, Fred (2010). The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything (p. 223-224). Good News Publishers/Crossway Books. Kindle Edition.

What ?? too many questions maybe you can answer too!

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Satan, Saved, Sin, Sunday School, Trinity on July 4, 2011 at 9:53 am

What do I have now that I haven’t had before? How was I blind for so long and now see truth in such a different light than just a few years ago? Why does the Personal God who is there bother with someone as rebellious as an indifferent as me? Just how useful can I be for the kingdom now? Does God through Christ by the Spirit really make an impact in my life every day? The questions keep coming and God in his infinite wisdom has granted answers on some and has me digging deeper on others? Francis Shaffer philosopher and author had a great quote:

To eat, to breathe to beget Is this all there is Chance configuration of atom against atom of god against god I cannot believe it. Come, Christian Triune God who lives, Here am I Shake the world again. [i]

The “Christian Triune God who lives” did answer that prayer and shook the world through Schaeffer’s ministry.

The Holy Spirit indwelling the individual Christian is not only the agent of Christ, but he is also the agent of the Father. Consequently, when I accept Christ as my Savior, my guilt is gone, I am indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and I am in communication with the Father and the Son, as well as of the Holy Spirit—the entire Trinity. Thus now, in the present life, if I am justified, I am in a personal relationship with each of the members of the Trinity. God the Father is my Father; I am in union with the Son; and I am indwelt by the Holy Spirit. This is not just meant to be doctrine; it is what I have now.[ii]

This is in line with the personal God who is there and is on the high order of the Trinity. Since beginning a deeper richer study of the Trinity it has completely changed my faith making it strong and at the same time more difficult to tolerate me! The more I see the Trinity and the way God exists, the Trinity has taken over my thinking I am acutely aware of the sin in my own life. Understanding the Father desires relationship and sent his Son to pay my sin debt while the Spirit indwells me teaching me the truth of the cost I am overwhelmed.

The Old Testament teaches, and the New Testament reaffirms, that there is only one God (Deut. 6:4; James 2:19). “The Bible also teaches that this one God exists in three distinct persons.” The first line of evidence for this claim is the divine plurals used in the language of the Old Testament: “Who will go for us?” (Isa. 6:8); “Let us make man in our image” (Gen. 1:26); “Let us go down there and confuse their language” (Gen. 11:7). “In this verse, as in 1:26, the persons of the Trinity are in communication with each other.” These Old Testament plurals would not be enough to prove the triunity of the one God all alone. They are odd enough to require some explanation: Why would a consistently monotheistic revelation use words like we, us, and ours? The solid proof of this doctrine has to wait till Christ appears in human history and takes on flesh. Ours is a progressive revelation, From Adam, to Abraham, to David, to Jesus claiming to be God in flesh and the Son of the personal God who is there.

Now man has a new relationship with the creator, and the creator can now abide within us. The mystery I can’t reconcile is why the personal God who is there wants to have relationship with a dreadful, awful, terrible sinner like me. The law (10 commandments) illustrates the sinfulness of my sin! I can’t even keep one commandment for more than a day, and yet when I come to grips with the awful truth of my wretchedness and the hopelessness of my failure the Holy Spirit sent by the Father accompanied by the Son forgives me. Stated in Ephesians 2:18: “For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.” Christian prayer, as a subset of Christian communion with God, is an approach to God the Father, through God the Son, in the Holy Spirit. John Owen called this passage “a heavenly directory,” and Horatius Bonar teased out a theology of worship from it:

The whole Trinity has to do with our return and reception. The Father throws open His presence chamber, the Holy of Holies where He dwells; the Son provides the way for our restoration, by answering in His death all the ends that could have been served by our exclusion; and the Holy Spirit conducts us into the Father’s presence along the new and living way.

Now as new creature in Christ as applied by the Holy Spirit from the direction of the Father I am an adopted son, a brother to Christ, sealed by the Spirit. How is this supposed to affect us? Am I conforming to the image of his Son?

(Romans 8:29 HCSB)  For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers.

(Romans 8:14-17 HCSB)  All those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children, and if children, also heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ–seeing that we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.

When John Bunyan defined true prayer, he built his definition around this Trinitarian structure from Ephesians 2.

(Ephesians 2:18 HCSB)  For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.

 Bunyan’s complete definition runs: Prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God, through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit, for such things as God hath promised, or according to the Word, for the good of the church, with submission, in faith, to the will of God.

How does the Trinity make our prayer life more effective, and when we acknowledge how God exists does it complete us? If we don’t understand the Trinity or worse because we don’t understand try to find another mode of existence for God undermine the message of salvation? If the Trinity is salvation and salvation is the Trinity economically expressed why would we limit God’s existence to our understanding? If God is truly sovereign and has created all there is why couldn’t He be expressed in Trinity? Don’t we limit the limitless, build a box that has no room for its content; redefine in our terms the indefinable? Denying the Trinity is like gazing at the sun you can’t without severe consequences, ignoring the obvious to justify our inability to describe God. To use a saying my Dad used to use “I can’t see the forest for the trees.”


[i] Sanders, Fred (2010). The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything (p. 178). Good News Publishers/Crossway Books. Kindle Edition.

[ii] Sanders, Fred (2010).  (p.214)

 

 

The Dance of the low-sloping foreheads and Redefining Marriage

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Satan, Saved, Sin, Sunday School, Trinity on June 30, 2011 at 7:10 am

Many New Yorkers feel their city is more than just the (self-proclaimed) capital of the world. They think it actually is most of the world, the rest of the planet merely being the unavoidable orchard in which their Big Apple grows

New York Times columnist David Carr responds to Bill Maher implying Alabama and Kansas are not the “smart states.”

David Carr: “If it’s Kansas, Missouri, no big deal. You know, that’s the dance of the low-sloping foreheads. The middle places, right? [pause] Did I just say that aloud?”

CNN’s Jack Cafferty has advice for the GOP: Park your morality at the door.

On June 14, Mr. Cafferty expressed surprise that, in the previous night’s presidential debate, “social issues—like abortion, gay marriage, ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’—still manage to work their way into the conversation. And that may prove to be a problem for Republicans. . . . These are not the issues that middle America is worried about. They would like to be able to find a job.”
What Cafferty doesn’t understand is that every issue is a moral issue. The current bad economy didn’t just happen. It was the direct result of immoral choices made by our leaders.
The national debt, national security, taxation, the welfare state, border security—there’s not a single issue that doesn’t have a moral component. The government has a moral obligation to live within its means, to protect its citizens, to encourage industriousness and discourage indolence, and to secure our borders against terrorists and drug cartels.
When voters consider a candidate for public office, they should not just ask, “Can this person manage the economy?” They need to know, “Does this person have the values and character to hold public office?”
A candidate who doesn’t value innocent life shouldn’t be president. In 2002, Barack Obama voted to oppose the Induced Birth Infant Liability Act, outlawing infanticide of babies who survive late-term abortions. Mr. Obama didn’t merely vote in favor of abortion, but in favor of killing babies outside the womb. A man whose moral compass is this defective cannot make moral decisions.
He promised an end to earmarks, a secure border, no lobbyists in his administration, no recess appointments, airing the healthcare debate on C-SPAN, elimination of failed programs—and he didn’t keep even one of those promises. Candidate Obama opposed “same-sex marriage,” but as president he nullified the Defense of Marriage Act. A record of broken promises does not equal moral leadership.
GAY MARRIAGE is no longer a theoretical issue. Canada has it. Massachusetts is expected to get it any day. The Goodridge decision there could set off a legal, political, and cultural battle in the courts of 50 states and in the U.S. Congress. Every politician, every judge, every citizen has to decide:
Does same-sex marriage matter?
If so, how and why?
The timing could not be worse. Marriage is in crisis, as everyone knows: High rates of divorce and illegitimacy have eroded marriage norms and created millions of fatherless children, whole neighborhoods where lifelong marriage is no longer customary, driving up poverty, crime, teen pregnancy, welfare dependency, drug abuse, and mental and physical health problems. And yet, amid the broader negative trends, recent signs point to a modest but significant recovery.
Divorce rates appear to have declined a little from historic highs; illegitimacy rates, after doubling every decade from 1960 to 1990, appear to have leveled off, albeit at a high level (33 percent of American births are to unmarried women); teen pregnancy and sexual activity are down; the proportion of homemaking mothers is up; marital fertility appears to be on the rise. Research suggests that married adults are more committed to marital permanence than they were twenty years ago. A new generation of children of divorce appears on the brink of making a commitment to lifelong marriage. In 1977, 55 percent of American teenagers thought a divorce should be harder to get; in 2001, 75 percent did.
Cafferty says that middle America doesn’t care about “same-sex marriage.” But polls shows Americans overwhelmingly oppose it—not because they hate or feel morally superior to homosexual people. They simply want to preserve God’s plan for marriage. Marriage should remain what it has been throughout recorded history—a covenantal union between a man and a woman. Here are three reasons why Americans object to redefining marriage:
1. The best environment for children is a traditional family—one mom, one dad. Children from stable two-parent homes are significantly less prone to depression, addiction, and suicide than children from non-traditional families. A moral society should encourage the family structure that best nurtures children.
2. Marriage ideally brings together two people, one male, one female, who complement each other. Mothers are generally protective and nurturing while fathers tend to challenge children to confront risks and embrace opportunities. Children need both influences. Two “mothers” can’t teach boys to become men; two “fathers” can’t teach girls to become women.
3. Children need to feel connected to their biological origins whenever possible. Yale psychiatrist Kyle Pruett found that children “hunger for an abiding paternal presence.” They struggle with questions about their biological origins and identity.
Same-sex marriage, too, interferes with the core elements of wedlock in order to advance an unrelated goal — the dignity and equality of gays and lesbians. The fact that many decent people ardently embrace that goal doesn’t change reality: The essential, public purpose of marriage is to unite male and female — to bind men and women to each other and to the children that their sexual behavior may produce. It is rooted in the conviction that every child needs a mother and a father. Gay marriage, whether enacted by lawmakers or imposed by judges, disconnects marriage from its most basic idea. Ultimately, that isn’t tenable either.
Marriage — male-female marriage — is indispensable to human welfare. That is why it has existed in virtually every known human society. And why it cannot, and will not, be permanently redefined.
The scholarly consensus on the importance of marriage has broadened and deepened; it is now the conventional wisdom among child welfare organizations. As a Child Trends research brief summed up: “Research clearly demonstrates that family structure matters for children, and the family structure that helps children the most is a family headed by two biological parents in a low-conflict marriage. Children in single-parent families, children born to unmarried mothers, and children in stepfamilies or cohabiting relationships face higher risks of poor outcomes. . . . There is thus value for children in promoting strong, stable marriages between biological parents.”
The state has no basic benefit in marriage outside the traditional definition of the nuclear family. It is the most affordable, least costly way to have an ordered, society capable of earning revenue that it can tax. A properly functioning nuclear family reduces violence, provides protection, nurturing and feeding of its young without any monetary expenditure from the state. Beyond this it requires more than 2 to reproduce (not economically feasible) and as experience is teaching us more expense to the state to provide those necessities of protection, housing and food. Outside of its own self-interest why would the state regard marriage of any type? Marriage is typically promoted and supported in the religious community and for the life of me I can’t understand why a pluralistic society bent on self-aggrandizements and gentile fulfillment cares one way or the other!
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, which among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. — That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed …”
This declaration acknowledges that God grants individual people their human rights. People then loan power to our government. The government holds only as much power as we, the people, are willing to yield.
These “self-evident” truths seem simple, but are powerful. First, all men are created equal. We all have equal value at birth. It does not say that, regardless of whether people work, they shall end up equal. We are created equal and given equal rights by our Creator: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Not a guarantee of happiness. Happiness is up to every individual, not guaranteed by the government. We are a nation of believers in God. This provides us with optimism, a belief in the future, and solace and strength in times of crisis.

The SBC and it’s leadership

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Satan, Sin on June 22, 2011 at 7:30 am

Dever, Patterson share wide-ranging dialogue
By Gregory Tomlin
Jun 21, 2011

PHOENIX (BP)–Calling themselves “men of yesterday” in the Southern Baptist Convention, 9Marks founder Mark Dever and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson told younger pastors June 13 they should heed the wisdom of previous generations that upheld biblical authority and sound doctrine.

Speaking at a “9Marks at 9” gathering following the Monday evening session of the SBC Pastors’ Conference, Dever said: “I didn’t invent these things. These are the things our grandparents said. They are good things to keep saying.” The 9Marks group examines and promotes regenerate church membership, scriptural authority and elder-led church polity.

Patterson, who disagrees with Dever on the issue of church elders and Reformed theology (also known as “Calvinism”), said he had been on the earth long enough to “learn something about the ebb and flow of the Christian faith.”

“Every generation will be faced with a very significant decision and you are going to experience great sorrow because of it,” Patterson said. He told of how he learned this lesson from the Downgrade Controversy in England and Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s role in leading the Baptist churches of England to a firm, scriptural footing.

That controversy in 1887 centered on the authority and reliability of the Bible, which at the time was under attack from German theologians who applied an evolutionary framework to biblical studies.

“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty,” Patterson said, recalling the Conservative Resurgence among Southern Baptists during which the convention reclaimed its own heritage of biblical conservatism in the 1980s and ’90s.

DECLINE BEFORE RESURGENCE

Dever asked Patterson about the difference between legitimate vigilance and paranoia that sees theological enemies at every hand.

“Paranoia is a condition that exists when you are thinking about you and your pastorate,” Patterson said. Vigilance, he said, is when people think constantly about protecting the Kingdom and ensuring that the Christian faith is passed from generation to generation.

“A denomination is nothing more than a reflection of what is going on in the churches,” Patterson said, noting that churches must hold and teach sound doctrine.

Dever asked Patterson to diagnose how the Southern Baptist Convention had declined theologically prior to the Conservative Resurgence, indicating he believed a lack of expositional preaching caused the decline. Patterson agreed.

“There was not a lot of expositional preaching in the 1950s. In fact, W.A. Criswell experienced a fair amount of ridicule for his expositional preaching,” Patterson said. “Even though people found the Lord under topical preaching, churches became weaker and weaker in terms of knowing the content of Scripture and what the Christian faith was about.”

Patterson said this decline in doctrinal knowledge lead to “anemia” in the churches, which in turn led to a lack of discipline. Churches once published the number of instances of church discipline, he said, but after some churches abused the process of discipline, the practice fell out of favor.

“There is something to the separated, sanctified life for Christ,” Patterson said, adding that churches still need to invoke discipline when necessary. Patterson said he believes the best form of discipline is “withholding the table” from those disciplined — prohibiting them from partaking of the Lord’s Supper with the remainder of the congregation.

CHURCH MEMBERSHIP & LEADERSHIP

Dever said he thought church discipline is a less likely course of action if church members are truly regenerate. He asked Patterson if Southern Baptists had experienced problems in the past because they had not ensured those they baptized were actually born-again believers.

That was true then, Patterson said, but there are problems in modern churches as well. He noted the early church “did not baptize carelessly,” though they sometimes did baptize quickly. “I think we have done this sometimes carelessly.”

Patterson also said many churches almost could have been considered guilty of infant baptism, baptizing children as young as age 4. Many of these children grow up and leave the church or cannot remember their conversions, he said, emphasizing that churches must be sure that those who are baptized are regenerate.

“A lackadaisical policy toward baptism is a problem,” Patterson said. Without regenerate members, churches likely will have difficulty governing themselves.

That assertion prompted Dever to ask Patterson about a June 9 blog post in which James MacDonald, pastor of a nondenominational church and a voice in the Acts 29 church planting network, said congregational church government is not biblical. McDonald, who promotes an elder-led model, claimed pastors are “crushed” as the result of democratic voting and went on to call congregational church government “satanic.”

Dever asked Patterson if congregational government is, indeed, “satanic.” Patterson replied that this critique grows “out of a doctrine that has been abused in recent years — the priesthood of the believer.” Patterson said each believer is a priest, with the Holy Spirit indwelling the “temple” of his or her body. He noted the word used for “temple” by Paul was not a reference to the entire temple complex, but to the “Holy of Holies.” Believers must see themselves as part of the body, and not the whole or, worse, as individuals. And they must also submit themselves to the leadership of a shepherding pastor.

“Congregationalism of a sort, then,” based on a proper understanding of the priesthood of the believer, “is right theologically and it is the way God moves the people in a certain direction,” Patterson said. If the pastor is doing his job of listening to the Lord correctly, this movement should be in the direction the pastor desires based on his leading from the Lord,” Patterson added.

The pastor as a shepherd should be a “decisive leader,” Patterson said, noting that he is a servant but “rules” over his flock. “A shepherd doesn’t counsel with the sheep, asking, ‘Where would you guys like to graze today?'”

This, however, does not mean a pastor should be a chief executive officer (CEO), Patterson said. “The first responsibility a congregation has is to call a pastor,” he said. “Once they call the pastor, they need to follow the pastor.”

During his years as pastor, Patterson said he preferred not to have regular business meetings, which lead to “exercises in carnality” and “regular fights.”

GREAT COMMISSION RESURGENCE

Dever asked Patterson if the Great Commission Resurgence (GCR) was part of, or a continuation of, the Conservative Resurgence. Patterson said he personally was not involved in the GCR and that he was not consulted on the plans or the report that was presented to and adopted by the SBC in 2010.

“They wanted to see the Great Commission put back in the lead position of what we do in Southern Baptist life,” Patterson said. Dever asked Patterson if he was pleased with the fruit of the GCR.

“I can’t say I’m not pleased with it, but I can’t say that I am. I haven’t seen enough of it yet,” Patterson said.

Asked by a pastor in the audience about the future of the SBC as a “red-state denomination with red-state sensibilities in a blue-state world,” Patterson acknowledged that Southern Baptists had to change. He said the convention must focus on urban areas, focus on universities and assume a New Testament mentality.

“We have to move Southern Baptists from being an agrarian, suburban denomination and move toward being an urban missionary force.”

COOPERATION

Dever noted that Southern Baptists have been cooperating and should continue to cooperate on social issues and missions, but he asked Patterson to describe the positives and negatives of cooperation.

Cooperation is valuable, Patterson said, as long as it focuses on the proper subjects.

Southern Baptists need to realize the SBC doesn’t constitute the entirety of the work of God on earth, Patterson said. Other Christians are sharing the Gospel and though they may disagree on minor points, those who believe the Bible believe in preaching Christ. This should be supported, Patterson said, just as the Anabaptists thanked God for Martin Luther but thought him “inconsistent” on a number of points. Christians can unite in evangelism, such as when Southern Baptists have participated in Billy Graham crusades, he said.

“However, when it comes to church planting, I’m going to plant Baptist churches,” Patterson said. Baptist churches are the closest to New Testament churches, he said, and Baptists have always been a “people of the Book,” “hot-hearted with compassion for people,” and a people of evangelism.

Patterson said Southern Baptists must be aware, however, that “a careless sort of ecumenism is slipping in.” Baptist doctrine cannot be softened to appease or changed for the sake of unity.

“Don’t I epitomize that?” Dever asked.

“No, you don’t,” Patterson said. “You have not taken Baptist out of the title of your church, you practice only believer’s baptism and you are a believer’s church.”

Understanding he is able to better educate seminary students by exposing them to various points of view, Patterson said he has invited people of different denominations to speak at Southwestern. “We have to recognize that God is doing some great things among people who are not Baptists,” he said.

CALVINISM

Many who came to the 9Marks meeting likely expected the discussion of the Reformed influence of the movement to be a topic for discussion. In reality, little time was devoted to it and none of the questions from the audience addressed Calvinism.

“You Calvinists scare me,” Patterson said, adding that he can always “put up with” people who hold different theological opinions as long as they are evangelistic. Dever said likewise he was frightened when people claimed to be Calvinists but refused to evangelize.

Dever asked Patterson if he believed in the total depravity of man, the first point of Reformed theology. “If I can define it, I do,” Patterson replied.

Dever followed with a similar question about unconditional election. Again, Patterson answered that he did believe the teaching “if I can define it.”

“If you mean by unconditional election that God arbitrarily decided in eternity past to create some people to save and some people to condemn, no,” Patterson said, drawing a loud “amen” from one pastor in attendance. “See, at least one brother here agrees with me.”

Dever told the audience that Patterson indirectly “helped start” the 9Marks movement. While Dever was at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, he wanted to print a pamphlet at the seminary extolling the marks of true Baptist churches. Patterson, then president of the North Carolina seminary, at first refused because the pamphlet promoted the use of elders. Dever eventually convinced Patterson to write a letter commending the pamphlet but stating his disagreement with the use of elders.

Dever is senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., and chairman of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary board of trustees.
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Gregory Tomlin is a writer based in Dallas.

Copyright (c) 2011 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press
901 Commerce Street
Nashville, TN 37203
Tel: 615.244.2355
Fax: 615.782.8736
email: bpress@sbc.net

What Changed about Him

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Satan, Saved, Sin, Sunday School, Trinity on June 5, 2011 at 8:31 am

(John 1:1) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (2) He was with God in the beginning. (John 1:14) The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

First the question should give a sense of seeing not so much what changed as what didn’t change. The biggest thought that screams from scripture is “His divine nature didn’t change”! God remained God he didn’t stop being God besides being unbiblical, this would make Him a lesser God changing from divine nature to human nature. The scripture clearly states that God remained God and the Word remained God when He became flesh. Either this statement is nonsense or God has two natures? Neither! The possibility of seeing God as one being with two what’s, materializes and the best word we can find to describe this moment are persons.
A closer look at the word “became” needs to be addressed. In the incarnation (birth) became cannot mean “transformed into” or “underwent a change in which he stopped being one thing and turned into another thing”. At the incarnation the Word became flesh he took human nature as his own, he added human existence to his already existing eternal self (person).
Now to the heart of the secret that the prophets and gospel hid in plain sight: when the Word became flesh the Son was still Son the second person of the Trinity. He did not change either. Fred Sanders describes this in his book “The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity changes everything, page 152: It was the eternal Son, whose personal characteristic is to belong to the Father and receive his identity from the Father, who took on human nature and dwelled among us. His life as a human being was a new event in history, but he lived out his human life in the exact same son-ship that makes him who he is from all eternity as the second person of the Trinity. So as Jesus lived out his life on earth he behaved like the Son of God, he never changed who He was only how he existed. The only new thing here is taking up the flesh, not being the Son of God. Only the Son of God could accomplish the will of God set forth from all eternity.
(Rev 13:8) and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.

The story of His Glory the Gospel that God “sent His Son” to be His Son. When Jesus was in the flesh walking on this earth he behaved like the Son of God, the same way He has always been from eternity past. Quoting Austin Farrer (1904-1968) an Anglican theologian the gospels do not portray Jesus acting and behaving like God. Instead they portray him walking around and behaving like the Son of God. “We cannot understand Jesus as simply the God-who-was-man. We have left out an essential factor, the son-ship.” When we leave out that son-ship, we may think we are affirming the deity of Christ more clearly (“he is God” is a simpler statement to teach and defend than “he is the Son of God”), but in fact we are obscuring the Trinitarian revelation. The loss is too great; we will miss so much that is right there in Scripture. “What was expressed here below was not bare deity; it was divine son-ship,” said Farrer. The gospels clearly show Jesus was the Son: he lived, taught, acted, died, and rose again as the Son of God. The temptation to move past the son-ship to affirm His deity is ever present, but the scriptures clearly do the opposite acknowledging His deity in order to dwell on His Son-Ship! The early believers who saw, touched and ate with Jesus saw “the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” They know Him as the one who was “with the Father and was made manifest” 1 John 1:1-2. We must resist the temptation the rush past Jesus as the Son in order to express the fact He was God. “God” describes what Jesus is but the “Son” describes who He is!
If we understand the son ship of Jesus Christ it becomes foundational to the deity and Lordship of Jesus Christ. The risk we take in trying to make Jesus change or become something that he was not in heaven is making him the creature and not the creator. If we allow the idea that Jesus changed from something, or became something it actually reduces his deity instead of promoting it. In Scripture, we are taught The Father sent his son and unto us a child was given. We see by his behavior on earth Jesus always acknowledge he was about His Father’s business, he surrendered to doing the Fathers will, in his language and actions he confirms his son ship.
As Farrer said, is impossible to imagine how God would act if God were a creature. When we ask ourselves this particular question it forces us into a constant unresolved paradox. In looking at the miracles Jesus performed through the context of this question was he acting as the incarnate creator or a creature? Only in the context as the son of God the second person of the Trinity could these actions make sense. When reading the gospels the writers are very intent on expressing the son ship of Jesus Christ, he lived and died as the Son. At the heart of the Trinity is the son ship of Jesus.
If we are too quick to rush past Christ’s relationship to the Father, we miss what God has revealed about himself and we are settling for less than the full counsel of God. Quoting from Fred Sanders book “The deep things of God. How the Trinity changes everything:”
What is so wonderfully clear with regard to the Son-that he is himself here with us, just as he has eternally been himself in the happy land of the Trinity-it is also true of the Holy Spirit.

10 Signs a Church is in Trouble

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Satan, Saved, Sin, Sunday School, Trinity, Uncategorized on May 10, 2011 at 4:55 am

By Thom S. Rainer
May 9, 2011

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Prior to my present place of ministry, I spent more than 20 years consulting with churches across America. I have also had the wonderful opportunity to research churches primarily in the United States. Over time I began to notice certain patterns or signs that would indicate a congregation might be headed for trouble.

After reviewing my consultation notes and research, I found 10 warning signs for churches. If a church had four or more of these signs present, I would let the leadership know that remedial efforts were in order. If six or more signs were present, I was concerned that the congregation was in immediate trouble.

The warning signs below are not listed in any particular order. Nor are they the result of a scientifically accurate study. Though the information is both experiential and anecdotal, I found it immensely helpful in diagnosing the health of a church.

Church leaders should be concerned …

— If the pastor does not have adequate time to be in the Word or if he chooses not to do so.

— If the members are spending time arguing about how money should be spent.

— If none or only a few of the key leaders are actively sharing their faith.

— If there is no clear process of discipleship in place, just a plethora of programs and activities.

— If corporate prayer is not a major emphasis in the church.

— If church members are arguing about worship style or worship times.

— If church members expect the paid staff to do most of the ministry, instead of the staff equipping the members to do the work of ministry (“Why didn’t he visit me in the hospital?”)

— If there are ongoing disagreements about matters of the church facilities.

— If the church has more meetings than new disciples.

— If the leadership of the church does not have a coherent plan for what is taught in small groups and Sunday School classes.

There is a common pattern for most of the warning signs. Church members are more concerned about their preferences and desires. They are inwardly focused. They ask what the church can do for them, instead of asking how God can use them sacrificially and radically through the ministries of the local church.

True Christianity is a faith that always seeks to put others first. Sadly, in many of the churches across our land, members are more concerned about getting their own personal needs and preferences met.

I would love to hear from you about any of these signs in your church. I particularly would like to hear from some people how their churches address these matters positively and pro-actively.

Do some of the items on the warning list take place in your church? Are there others not on the list?

What is your story?

Thom S. Rainer is president of LifeWay Christian Resources. This column first appeared at his website, ThomRainer.com.

Copyright (c) 2011 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press
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Tel: 615.244.2355
Fax: 615.782.8736
email: bpress@sbc.net

fourth week in a row, a Chinese “illegal” church refused Sunday to follow government orders not to meet, and this time at least 31 of its members were arrested.

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Satan, Saved, Sin, Sunday School, Trinity, Uncategorized on May 3, 2011 at 6:55 am

BEIJING (BP)–For the fourth week in a row, a Chinese “illegal” church refused Sunday to follow government orders not to meet, and this time at least 31 of its members were arrested.

Once again, reporters were blocked from the site.

The arrests of the members of Beijing’s Shouwang Church in a public square came after church leaders made clear in the preceding days that they would not buckle to pressure from the Communist Party. More than 160 were arrested the first week they tried to meet outdoors, about 50 were arrested the second week and approximately 40 on the third week, Easter Sunday. The declining number of arrests likely is due to the government placing so many other members under house arrest, which prevents them from even leaving their homes. On Easter Sunday, more than 500 church members — including every church staff member, lay leader and choir member — were under house arrest.

The church is attempting to meet outdoors because the government has blocked all attempts by the church to rent or purchase a building. Members say failing to come together and worship would be an abandonment of biblical commands.

The May 1 Shouwang Church order of worship — given to church members and printed online at ChinaAid.org — was intended to include congregational singing of “Amazing Grace,” “Because He Lives” and “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus.” But the members were arrested before the services started. It is possible that smaller groups — particularly families — followed the order in worshipping in their homes.

Although a BBC camera crew recorded the arrests during the first week, the government has since tried to block media access, briefly detaining a CNN crew on Easter and preventing three Al-Jazeera reporters from accessing the site on May 1, Asia News reported.

The CNN crew was, though, able to set up an interview with one unidentified female church member away from the site, although the crew had to work to find a spot in the city where police would not interfere. At one point, authorities were following the CNN crew’s car.

“I am really afraid of torture … and I’ve heard many stories of that,” the woman told CNN, her face unseen.

CNN’s Stan Grant concluded his segment by saying, “In this spiritual war, the Communist Party has drawn its own battle lines, determined that the only worship here will be to the state.”

Churches in China must register with the government, and those that don’t are considered illegal. But registering brings restrictions on growth and evangelism — part of the reason the underground church movement has flourished in recent decades. The arrests of Shouwang members — closely watched worldwide — are part of a larger crackdown on what the government views as dissent. Communist Party members are apparently wanting to prevent an uprising in China similar to what has taken place in Egypt and elsewhere, and they see house churches as a threat.

Each week, the church has released a statement, explaining why it has chosen to confront the government. It has chosen to try to meet at the same location in the city each week.

“Some brothers and sisters have suggested that we might want to move our services to a new location so that we could gather together,” the church said in an April 29 statement. “However, at this stage of the development of the incident, it seems unlikely that we can gather together at all. Regardless of which location we choose, the result will be the same. What the relevant government agency is concerned about is not where we gather, but whether we are going to gather or not.”

Church members say they are being obedient to Christ. Some have lost their jobs and been evicted from their homes because of their stance, with the government pressuring employees and landlords.

“The Bible tells us, as Christians, we must not give up meeting together; furthermore, as the church of Jesus Christ, we should not change our mode of Sunday worship just because someone or some entity decides that we may or may not use a particular gathering place,” the church said in a statement Easter week. “Our attitude before God should be the same as Daniel’s, that is, despite the pressure and difficulties our circumstance presents, we should behave as we normally would, coming before our God weekly to worship Him and offer up our thanksgiving, praises and petitions.”
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Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press.

Copyright (c) 2011 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press. Visit http://www.bpnews.net. BP News — witness the difference! Covering the critical issues that shape your life, work and ministry. BP News is a ministry of Baptist Press, the daily news service of Southern Baptists.

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