Month: November 2014

What is the Spiritual State of the American Church?

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We are living in exciting times for the growth of the Church. There is no doubt about that. Large churches are growing all around the United States, adding 1,000s to worship Jesus on Sunday morning. In 2008, an American evangelical denomination reported that 2.5 million decisions were made for Christ. Yet, with all the excitement about the contemporary church in the United States, it seems that the statistics are revealing a darker side.

An American Barna group study found that 45 percent of those who profess to be born-again Christians believe that gambling  is morally acceptable. 41 percent also think the Bible, Koran, and the book of Mormon are all different interpretations of the same spiritual truth–despite the book’s vastly contradictory teachings on truth, salvation, the nature of God, and the afterlife. Is there something wrong with this picture? Jesus warned us that in the last days, many false prophets and religions will appear and deceive many people (Matt. 24:11).

The darker statistics continue. Almost half of professing U.S. Christians believe that living with someone of the opposite sex before marriage is morally permissible–despite the Bible’s prohibition against it. Promise Keepers, an organization for men and women devoted to maintaining sexual purity, found that 53 percent visit porn sites every week. More alarming, an internet survey of 6,000 Pastors conducted in 2002 found that 30 percent of pastors had viewed internet porn in the last 30 days.

The Bible says in 1 Corinthians, “No sexually immoral person will enter the Kingdom of Heaven?” Is that you today? Are you letting a harlot visit you through the television or computer screen? Are you flirting with a co-worker in the office who is not your spouse? Are you reading fictional Romance, even Christian ones, that are distracting you from your own husband? If so, remember Proverbs 5:

“For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave. She gives no thought to the way of life; her paths wander aimlessly, but she does not know it.”

Think for a moment about these sobering facts and figures. Here we have millions of “believers” who profess Jesus as Lord, and yet their theological understanding, ethical views, and daily lives are evidence they don’t know God. The shocking fact is that these statistics are not based on the unbelieving world–It’s not the culture outside of the walls of the church; it’s talking about the people sitting in the pews and at the pulpit. That means some people who are reading this message might possibly be the ones described in Matthew 7:21-22, who don’t enter Heaven, but are cast into Hell.

“Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord, will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but He who does the will of my Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to me on that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles? And Jesus will declare to them, “I never knew you, depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.”

Think about how seemingly spiritual people can be and still not make it to heaven. They called Jesus Lord, they weren’t ashamed to prophesy or cast out demons. These people seem to be more spiritual than the average churchgoer, and yet they will be rejected on the day of Judgment by the Lord Jesus Christ.

What is the solution? Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith ( 2 Cor. 13:5). Are you producing fruit or are you an empty branch? The fruits of the spirit are: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Do these virtues describe you? Are you trusting in Christ? If not, then critically analyze whether you have been born again.

You are not saved by doing good works, but your good works help you identify whether God’s spirit is in you. James said, “Faith without works is dead.” Let me make it clear that we are saved by grace through faith. It’s a free gift from God, not of works, lest any of us boast about our spiritual maturity. All of us have sinned and we fall short of the glory of God. With that all said, it’s still important to be honest about your relationship with God. If it’s not there, then you should repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand. Seek the Lord now, while He may be found.

What Does the Bible say about Satan and Demons?

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God originally created all things good (Gen. 1:31), but somewhere between the beginning of the world and the fall of man (Gen. 3), sin entered into the world. Where did this sin come from? It originated with that old Serpent, the devil.  He was once an angelic creature called Lucifer, until jealously raged in his heart, attempting to dethrone God. The bible speaks of this in Ezekiel 28:14

You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your covering: The ruby, the topaz and the diamond; The beryl, the onyx and the jasper; The lapis lazuli, the turquoise and the emerald; And the gold, the workmanship of your settings and sockets, Was in you. On the day that you were created They were prepared. “You were the anointed cherub who covers, and I played you there. You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked in the midst of the stones of fire. “You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created until unrighteousness was found in you.…”

Once unrighteousness was found in Lucifer, he was cast out of heaven and placed in the garden of Eden, where he tempted Eve to eat the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. When sin entered through the human race by Adam (Rom. 5:14), all of us were affected, but original sin didn’t come from us. It came from Satan.

Satan was the originator of sin. He was a murderer, a liar, all from the beginning (Jn. 8:44; 1 Jn. 3:8). His name comes from the Hebrew word that means adversary–arch enemy of God (Job. 1:6; 1 Chron. 21:1; Zech. 3:1). He has been called other names too–the devil (Matt. 4:1; Rev. 12:9), serpent (Gen. 3:1; 2 Cor. 11:3), Beelzebub (Matt. 10:25; Lk. 11:15), the ruler of this world (Jn. 12:31; 14:30), the prince of the power of the air (Eph. 2:2), and the evil one (1 Jn. 2:13). The term Beelzebub means “Prince of Demons.” So then, who are demons?

They were once angelic creatures with moral judgment and high intelligence, but they followed Satan–the anointed cherub, to their doom. Demons are evil angels who sinned against God and now ferociously work to bring defamation to God and His people. They connive to ruin God’s plan. Their methodology includes lying, cheating, hating, and slandering to hinder the truth of the gospel (2 Cor. 4:4; Gal. 4:8).

The good news is that Satan and demons are strictly limited by God’s authority. For instance, Satan had to ask permission from God before he could inflict any pain on Job’s family. When Jesus drove out the impure spirits throughout the gospels (Mk. 1:21-27), they were completely submissive, pleaded for mercy, and even cried out his proper title–The Son of God. That’s why the Bible informs us not to be afraid of limited creatures, but the one who has the power and authority to cast people into Hell, and that is Jesus Christ.

Throughout history, the people of Israel were confronted with false gods and demonic forces (Ps. 106:35-37). Worship involved wicked and self-destructive practices that were an abomination–cult prostitution, murder, and the magical arts (Deut. 23:17; 1 Kgs. 14:24; Hos. 4:14). In the New Testament, Jesus casted out demons. His Apostles after him had this same power too (Acts 8:7; James 4:7; 1 Pet. 5:8-9). In the future millennial reign, the activity of Satan and demons will be restricted by King Jesus (Rev. 20:1-3) until the thousand years are up. Finally, Satan and his demons will be destroyed in the lake of fire (Rev. 20:10). Christians will rejoice because evil will ultimately be vanquished and good will triumph forevermore.

5 Physical Realities that Teach Spiritual Truths

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Light – Light brings life and growth in the natural world. It’s contrasted with darkness. In Theology, light is a representative of God’s knowledge and presence, and is a helpful reminder of his goodness (John 1:4-5; 12:35-36) to His creation.

Physical Birth – Jesus compares physical birth with being born again. This doesn’t mean we reenter our mother’s womb, as Nicodemus wrongly suggested. Instead, Jesus is saying that a new life comes to us when we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior. The old person will pass and the new person will be born again ( 1 John 3:9; 4:7). Isn’t this great news?

Jerusalem Temple – The temple is where believers would come to worship God. Jesus is the living temple of God. He is the true tabernacle not made by human hands, but is the body of our Lord. Moreover, Jerusalem is a symbolic representation of the new heavens where Christ will physically dwell (John 2:19-22).

Food – Our Savior uses food to demonstrate that his mission is to accomplish the will of God, even more than physical sustenance. He also shows that our relationship with God trumps the most basic necessity of life (Deut. 8:3; Matt. 4:4; Mark 3:20-21). If Jesus had this same mindset, our view concerning life should reflect Hi

Door – The door in the sheepfold was the only way to enter, and it was commonly guarded at the entrance by a gatekeeper. Similarly, Jesus is the only way to the Father. Any other way leads to death and eternal separation from God. Jesus said that He is the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 10:1-9).

3 Areas of Systematic Theology that will Increase your Bible Knowledge

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Introduction

I remember my first seminary class. I had no idea what the professor was blathering about. Every theological term he used was a foreign concept; I thought I was abducted by an alien and sent to another universe.

By the end of the semester, I started to grasp half of what the theologian was communicating. Finally, by the third year of seminary, I was fluent in this esoteric language. My goal now is to help other average Joe Christians to comprehend the study of Systematic Theology by breaking down each term and simplifying it’s meaning. With that said, here are 3 general areas of doctrine that are important to discover from the Bible.

General Areas of Systematic Theology

1. Prolegomena – This word literally means pro-before + legein-to say–to say beforehand. In theology, it involves the study of how God reveals himself. For example, in the New Testament, Jesus claimed to be the Son of God.

This phrase doesn’t literally mean that Jesus is God’s biological son, but that He is co-equal in power as the Anointed Messiah. The Old Testament example of this phrase was a messianic title given to the one with all authority, glory, and sovereign power. Therefore, when you read the OT in light of the NT, your prolegomena interprets Son of God differently than your previous supposition.

2. Christology – This theological term means the study of Jesus. It raises many questions, such as: Who is Jesus? Is Jesus God? Did Jesus ever claim to be God? How can Jesus be both God and man at the same time? Was Jesus peccable (able to sin) or impeccable (not able to sin)?

A biblical understanding of Jesus Christ is crucial to our salvation because it helps us quantify grace and justification. For example, since Jesus was God in the flesh, He laid down his life for the human race. This is grace because we deserve to be punished for our sins, but Jesus took the bullet for us out of love.

Moreover, He lived a perfect life, obeying the 10 commandments and the whole law of God. You and I broke every single commandment. Let’s be honest. Have you ever lied? Stolen? Coveted your neighbors possessions? We are guilty by the law, but Christ imputes or gives us His righteousness when He died on the cross. Remember that justification by grace alone in Christ alone is an important doctrine–it influences our perception of how and why we are saved.

3. Pneumatology – This theological term comes from two Greek words, pneuma meaning “wind” and logos meaning “word.” It’s the study of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the name of the third person in the Trinity and Jesus promised the Apostles that he would send Him on the day of Pentecost, 50 days after the resurrection.

John 14:26 promises us that all Christians will receive Him: “But the helper, the Holy spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

Some view God’s spirit as a mystical or impersonal force, but this is not what the Bible teaches. The Holy Spirit teaches, convicts, empowers, and leads us to transform more into the image of Christ. He is a personal trainer and co-equal with God the Father and Jesus the Son.

Conclusion

If Systematic theology is studied with the right motive, then it can be a helpful conduit to plug into the majestic complexity of God. However, it is never intended to replace God’s Word. It is only a supplementary guide as you read through the Bible. For more information on other theological disciplines: Soteriology, Anthropology, Demonology, Angelology, Ecclesiology, Eschatology, Hamartiology, please visit here.

 

 

 

 

 

How to Share your Faith on Halloween

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“Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us (1 Pet. 2:12).” 

Halloween was originally called All Hallows’ Eve, a pagan holiday when dead ancestors were remembered. This tradition became a cultural phenomenon and is now celebrated in many different ways by people from all around the world.

Businesses see Halloween as an opportunity to grow in their revenue before the end of the year from the sale of candy and services to customers. Others view this holiday as a fun-filled sugar high for kids in cute costumes. Concerned parents perceive Halloween as an evil holiday that focuses on the occult, devils, and worship of all things dark and demonic. Whatever your position is, don’t let the opportunity for a conversation about the spiritual dimension and eternal life slip by.

Last week, the Secular Student Alliance–an educational non-profit organization for Atheists, planted tombstones in the lawn at our local college university. They called it Graveyard of the gods. It featured a number of ancient gods like Zeus, Osiris, and Saturn who are considered mythological today. It also raised an important question: What’s stopping Allah and Yahweh from joining the mix?

“The important thing to note here is that religions come and go like fads or trends. In another thousand years, the big three [Christianity, Judaism and Islam] could very well migrate onto this list of deceased gods and religions,” said Sam Thomas, president of the NGSS. “Who knows, they may even be taught as myth. Religions and their gods come and go, most of which are forgotten.”

This frightful display on campus ironically led to a constructive conversation between Atheists and Christians. For instance, one Atheist said it was only a matter of time before Jesus and other self-proclaiming gods will cease to exist. The Christian rebutted this false accusation with two points.

First, he demonstrated that Yahweh has existed much longer than the Egyptian, Roman and Greek gods, as well as Islam. Therefore, the notion that the God of the Bible will come and go like fads or trends is not a historically accurate statement.

Second, there is no debate in scholarship that Jesus of Nazareth historically existed in Palestine 2,000 years ago, unlike the mythological gods that were created by ancient civilizations. The more appropriate question would be, “Did Jesus really rise from the dead?”

The Christian contended 7 proofs for the resurrection: empty tomb of Jesus, eyewitness testimony from women, Jesus’ Apostles’ new found courage, changed lives of James and others, a large crowd of eyewitnesses, the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, and the disciples dying for Jesus.  Though the Atheist was not convinced, the discussion still led to a positive experience and there was a greater appreciation for belief in the Christian religion, spirituality, and the afterlife.

You have heard the saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” I see Halloween as an opportunity to speak to non-Christians about death, the afterlife, demons, and God because people are looking for more than just candy and a good time. They are on a quest to find answers to life’s most important questions, and as Christians, we have the hope they are looking for!

What did Jesus instruct us to do in Matthew 5:15?

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; or does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

Next year, I want to challenge you to share your faith in Jesus Christ to the outcasts, broken-hearted, pagans, common folk, and the sinners and tax collectors. Don’t turn your lights off and hide from the people. Instead, combat spiritual warfare and turn lemons into lemonade. Give candy and put a gospel tract in there. Preach the gospel on the public sidewalk. Challenge them to the “good person challenge if you want. Here is a video below that helps you to do that. Whatever you do, give a defense for the gospel, doing it with love and respect. God bless!