| By Alia Wong
Posted: 03/28/2014 12:32 am EDT Updated: 03/28/2014 12:59 am EDT
HONOLULU — The Hawaii Catholic schools office, which supervises three dozen Roman Catholic private schools in the state, has just approved a new contract that says teachers can be fired if they engage in homosexual activity or marry someone of the same sex. The contract goes on to list a wide array of actions and behaviors that would justify termination.
Among the other acts that could justify firing, according to the contract, are abortion, in vitro fertilization or “unmarried cohabitation.”
“The school expressly reserves the right to terminate the employment of any Teacher, who by word or example, denies the teachings or authority of the Church, or whose personal life or conduct is, based on Catholic teaching, immoral,” says a portion of the contract that was obtained by Honolulu Civil Beat.
The contract, which is called the “Standard Teacher Employment Agreement,” is for full- and part-time teachers who must sign it every year they work.
The contract explicitly says that “homosexual activity” and “same sex unions” are not permitted.
The contract is slated to go into effect for the 2014-15 school year.
Schools have not yet distributed the contracts to teachers, but the documents will apply to all teachers working in parochial schools operated by the Diocese of Honolulu, which covers the entire state. A few private Catholic schools are not parochial schools.
Michael Rockers, the superintendent of all Hawaii Roman Catholic schools, said the written provision is new but that the expectations outlined in it are not.
Rockers said Catholic schools are “ministries” where administrators have “the right and responsibility to … support our teachers in their ministerial responsibilities as defined by Catholic doctrine.”
The superintendent explained that teachers “don’t have a final say in what the contract’s exact wording is.”
He said the ultimate goal is to provide positive role models for students and that if a teacher’s homosexuality were made public it would negatively affect the children.
“We want to be authentic about what our moral teaching is,” he said. “We’re trying to be pastoral about this and centered on what’s best for the students.”
Rockers said the written provision was not a response to last year’s legalization of same-sex marriage in Hawaii.
The Legislature legalized same-sex marriage in Hawaii in a special session last November following weeks of heated testimony and passionate debates that exposed how divided the state was on the issue.
Honolulu Bishop Larry Silva has been vocal in his opposition to homosexuality, disseminating a three-page letter to Catholics last year that condoned discrimination against homosexuals who wanted to marry.
I really don’t know enough about him to say. Some people think he is a great pastor and then there are others who think he is not. Many believe that he is turning into an emergent church. Here are some articles that I have found :
I think I am going to post a few of these. His is not a church that I would go to any way. i like a smaller church where I can feel free to talk to my pastor and have really know him God bless you dear one!!! Maranatha!!! :):)
He is a heretic and a false teacher. You should have NOTHING to do with him.
The concept of ultimate reconciliation—the idea that God will ultimately reconcile every soul at some point so that they willingly spend eternity with Him—once again caused quite a stir in the theological world with the March 2010 release of Emergent Church leader Rob Bell’s book Love Wins. Decrying the historical theological position of a literal and eternal hell, Bell writes, “A staggering number of people have been taught that a select few Christians will spend forever in a peaceful, joyous place called heaven, while the rest of humanity spends forever in torment and punishment in hell with no chance for anything better. It’s been clearly communicated to many that this belief is a central truth of the Christian faith and to reject it is, in essence, to reject Jesus. This is misguided and toxic and ultimately subverts the contagious spread of Jesus’ message of love, peace, forgiveness, and joy that our world desperately needs to hear.”
What biblical support does Bell offer for ultimate reconciliation? Bell cites Matthew’s statement of Elijah coming who “will restore all things” (Matthew 17:11), Peter’s sermon in Acts 3 that states there will be a “period of restoration of all things” (Acts 3:21), and Paul’s statement about the Father using Christ to “reconcile all things to Himself” (Colossians 1:20). Bell also argues that God, being omnipotent, should be able to get what He wants, and the Bible clearly says that God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). Bell implies that God would not be loving and great if He was unable or unwilling to save everyone: “How great is God? Great enough to achieve what God sets out to do, or kind of great, great most of the time, but in this, the fate of billions of people, not totally great. Sort of great. A little great” (Love Wins, pp. 97–99).
Is God going to ultimately save everyone as Bell asserts? Does the Bible teach an ultimate reconciliation of all created beings at some point to the Creator? These questions can be answered by first examining the debate from a historical perspective, then understanding the concepts of mercy and justice in God, and finally making a tour through Scripture to see what the Bible has to say on the subject.
Ultimate Reconciliation – A Look Back at History
Although the doctrine of ultimate reconciliation has been championed by a variety of individuals down through history, there are two that stand out. The first is Origen of Alexandria (185-254 A.D.). The African theologian, who took an allegorical approach to Scripture and was heavily influenced by Greek philosophy, did not believe in the eternal suffering of sinners in hell. For Origen, all created beings, even demons and the devil, would eventually achieve salvation, no matter how long it took in the current life or in the life to come. He reasoned that because God’s love is so powerful, it will eventually soften even the hardest heart. This thought is echoed by Bell who says, “No one can resist God’s pursuit forever because God’s love will eventually melt even the hardest hearts” (p. 108).
Origen saw the church as the great “school of souls” in which erring pupils are instructed and disciplined, but for those who do not choose God in this life, they would continue their ‘tutelage’ in the next through an atoning and sanctifying process of purging fire. Origen believed that hell cannot be permanent for any soul because God could not abandon any creature. Since God respects human freedom, the process of winning over His created beings may take a long time in some cases, but God’s love, Origen believed, will ultimately triumph. Or as Rob Bell puts it, love wins.
Origen’s restoration of all beings, known as apokatastasis, is the Greek word used in Acts 3:21 for ‘restoration, and can be traced back to the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, who stated that “the beginning and end are common.” Origen’s belief in ultimate reconciliation was eventually refuted by Augustine and condemned in 543 A.D. in a council at Constantinople.
The second major personality in history contributing to the teaching of ultimate reconciliation was an Italian theologian named Laelius Socinus and his nephew Faustus, who lived in the 16th century. Together, they revived the fourth century heresy of Arianism—officially condemned at the council of Nicaea in 325 A.D.—and taught that the trinity was a false doctrine and that Christ was not God. In that sense, they were “Unitarian” in their teaching.
But Socinus went further and said that some of God’s attributes (e.g. His omniscience, immutability, etc.) were optional and not necessary, meaning He didn’t have to manifest them if He chose not to. Socinus claimed that God’s justice was optional, but His mercy is mandatory. In other words, God always had to be merciful, but He didn’t always have to be just toward offenses committed against Him. Therefore, the logic of Socinus progressed as follows: if God’s justice is optional, but His mercy is mandatory, and if God loves all the world and Christ died for everyone who would ever live, then all people will be saved by God. In this respect, Socinus and his nephew were Universalists.
Both Origen and Socinus’ teaching preceded Rob Bell by centuries, but the text contained in Love Wins echoes their conclusions perfectly. The question becomes, then, how can such a thing occur from a practical standpoint? How can all souls be reconciled to God? This is where Bell and his predecessors greatly err in their theology; they misunderstand and misconstrue the Scripture’s teachings on God’s mercy and His justice.
Ultimate Reconciliation – Understanding God’s Mercy and His Justice
It is important to understand that the concepts of mercy and justice are understood in a unique fashion in Christianity. In every other religion in the world that holds to the idea of a supreme deity, that deity’s mercy is always exercised at the expense of its justice. For example, in Islam, Allah may grant mercy to an individual, but it’s always done at the expense of his justice. In other words, the offender’s punishment that was properly due him/her is brushed aside so that mercy can be extended. Islam’s Allah, and every other deity in every other non-Christian religion of the world, lays aside the requirements of the moral law in order to be merciful. Most people would have a major complaint against any human judge who acted in such a fashion.
Christianity is different. In Christianity, God exercises His mercy through His justice. The Christian doctrine of penal substitution states that sin and injustice were punished at the cross of Christ, and only because the penalty of sin was satisfied through Christ’s sacrifice does God extend His mercy to undeserving sinners.
And while Christ did indeed die for sinners, He also died as a demonstration of God’s righteousness. The Apostle Paul makes this clear when he says, “being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:24-26). In other words, Paul says that although God didn’t immediately punish the sins of those who lived before Christ and extended mercy to them, He did not forget about justice. Instead, His righteousness (i.e. His justice) was demonstrated by Christ’s death on the cross. So God’s mercy was and is exercised through His justice.
While this teaching is beautiful and gives God glory, it can be misconstrued by some to mean that everyone will be saved through Christ’s death on the cross. In addition to the scriptures mentioned by Bell in his book, some Universalists point to verses such as: “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2), and: “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time” (1 Timothy 2:5-6).
The problem with such thinking is that there is enormous biblical evidence that leads in the opposite direction. Instead of echoing Origen, Socinus, and Bell’s conclusion that everyone will eventually turn their heart toward God and be reconciled to Him, the Bible states conclusively that most will experience eternal separation from God and only few will be saved because not all will believe and embrace Christ as their savior.
Ultimate Reconciliation – The Biblical Case for Hell
While some theologians may struggle to ascertain whether Jesus believed in a literal hell, a number of atheists experience no such difficulty. The skeptic Bertrand Russell wrote, “There is one very serious defect to my mind in Christ’s moral character, and it is that He believed in hell. I do not myself feel that any person who is really profoundly humane can believe in everlasting punishment… . one does find repeatedly a vindictive fury against those people who would not listen to His preaching… . I must say that I think all this doctrine, that hell-fire is a punishment for sin, is a doctrine of cruelty.”
A plain reading of the text shows that Russell is right in his conclusion that Christ believed in hell. Consider Jesus’ discourse found in Luke 16: “Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day. “And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores. Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us’” (Luke 16:19–26).
Bell believes that hell is a “period of pruning” and “an intense experience of correction” (pg. 91), and yet verse 26 of the passage above speaks of a chasm so great that none who are in hell may cross over. In other words, hell is permanent. Perhaps this is why Jesus spoke more about hell in the Gospel accounts than He did heaven.
Consider Jesus’ other statements about eternal punishment and how the unsaved will experience God’s wrath:
• “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13–14)
• “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’” (Matthew 7:22–23)
• “And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day” (Matthew 11:23)
• “So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. “The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness” (Matthew 13:40–41)
• “So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:49–50)
• “Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’” (Matthew 22:13)
• “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves” (Matthew 23:15)
• “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?” (Matthew 23:33)
• “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;” (Matthew 25:41)
• “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matthew 25:46)
• “If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire” (Mark 9:43)
• “But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!” (Luke 12:5)
• “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36)
• “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.” (John 5:28-29)
• “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death’” (Revelation 2:11)
Notice that Revelation 2:11 has Jesus speaking of a “second death”, which is important to remember. This term is used three other times in the book of Revelation to speak of the fate of those who are unbelievers:
• “Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years” (Revelation 20:6)
• “Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:14)
• “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).
In Scripture, death denotes separation, oftentimes referring to the passage of life from a human body or the division of spiritual life from the soul of a person. In these verses, the author speaks to the fact that unbelievers are born once, but die twice; first they lose their physical life and then they lose their hope for eternal life with God.
There is no second chance, no matter how much Origen or Rob Bell wish it were otherwise. The writer of Hebrews plainly states, “It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).
Reconciling God’s Mercy with the Biblical Case for Hell
In arguing for ultimate reconciliation, Rob Bell asserts that God would not be great, loving, or merciful if He assigned people to hell. But nowhere does God’s justice ever factor into Bell’s thinking. While God’s justice is portrayed and is present throughout the entire Old and New Testament, what is absent in the Bible is Bell’s belief in a post-mortem evangelistic campaign that eventually reconciles those dying without Christ in this life to God in the next life. This reversal of scriptural support proves to be Bell’s theological Achilles’ heel.
At the heart of ultimate reconciliation is the difficulty over reconciling God’s mercy and the reality of hell is a lack of understanding of God’s antecedent and consequent wills. God indeed antecedently desires all to be saved, but He consequently wills the sinner to experience His punishment. Or as Thomas Aquinas explained it: “Hence it may be said of a just judge, that antecedently he wills all men to live; but consequently wills the murderer to be hanged. In the same way God antecedently wills all men to be saved, but consequently wills some to be damned, as His justice exacts.”
Redefining hell as Origen and Bell do (a place of temporary correction before entering eternal life with God) does every person who hears and accepts their teaching an incalculable injustice, and in a very real sense makes them irrelevant as theologians and teachers. On an American troop ship, the soldiers crowded around their chaplain asking, “Do you believe in hell?” “I do not,” replied the chaplain. “Well, then, will you please resign, for if there is no hell, we do not need you, and if there is a hell, we do not wish to be led astray.”
Unlike false shepherds like Rob Bell, the Bible-believing Christian needs to heed the command given to Ezekiel, which applies to us today: “Son of man, I have appointed you a watchman to the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from My mouth, warn them from Me. When I say to the wicked, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to warn the wicked from his wicked way that he may live, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. Yet if you have warned the wicked and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered yourself” (Ezek. 3:17-19).
Charles Spurgeon paraphrased Ezekiel’s words this way: “If sinners be dammed, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies. If they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees. Let no one go there unwarned and unprayed for.”
Ultimate Reconciliation – Conclusion
It is sobering to remember that the first doctrine to be denied in Scripture is judgment. The Bible records Satan saying to Eve, “You surely will not die!” (Genesis 3:4). Unfortunately, many Universalists feel the same way and deny that an eternal separation from God is a reality for anyone who refuses Christ as their savior. But simply put, those who reject Jesus Christ in this life will have their request honored also in the next.
The doctrine of ultimate reconciliation or universalism may be appealing to human sensibilities, but it is simply wrong and unbiblical. Scripture teaches that beyond this life, there are no second chances. Instead, the Bible declares, “Today is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). Love does indeed win for those who turn by faith to Christ in this life and embrace Him as Savior. Those who don’t and dismiss the concept of hell will find out eternity is an awfully long time to be wrong. As writer Os Guinness puts it, “For some, hell is simply a truth realized too late.”
God bless you dear one!!! Maranatha!!! :):)
There is no doubt that the number of different religions in the world makes it a challenge to know which one is correct. First, let’s consider some thoughts on the overall subject and then look at how one might approach the topic in a manner that can actually get to a right conclusion about God. The challenge of different answers to a particular issue is not unique to the topic of religion. For example, you can sit 100 math students down, give them a complex problem to solve, and it is likely that many will get the answer wrong. But does this mean that a correct answer does not exist? Not at all. Those who get the answer wrong simply need to be shown their error and know the techniques necessary to arrive at the correct answer.
How do we arrive at the truth about God? We use a systematic methodology that is designed to separate truth from error by using various tests for truth, with the end result being a set of right conclusions. Can you imagine the end results a scientist would arrive at if he went into the lab and just started mixing things together with no rhyme or reason? Or if a physician just started treating a patient with random medicines in the hope of making him well? Neither the scientist nor the physician takes this approach; instead, they use systematic methods that are methodical, logical, evidential, and proven to yield the right end result.
This being the case, why should theology—the study of God—be any different? Why believe it can be approached in a haphazard and undisciplined way and still yield right conclusions? Unfortunately, this is the approach many take, and this is one of the reasons why so many religions exist. That said, we now return to the question of how to reach truthful conclusions about God. What systematic approach should be used? First, we need to establish a framework for testing various truth claims, and then we need a roadmap to follow to reach a right conclusion. Here is a good framework to use:
1. Logical consistency—the claims of a belief system must logically cohere to each other and not contradict in any way. As an example, the end goal of Buddhism is to rid oneself of all desires. Yet, one must have a desire to rid oneself of all desires, which is a contradictory and illogical principle.
2. Empirical adequacy—is there evidence to support the belief system (whether the evidence is rational, externally evidential, etc.)? Naturally, it is only right to want proof for important claims being made so the assertions can be verified. For example, Mormons teach that Jesus visited North America. Yet there is absolutely no proof, archaeological or otherwise, to support such a claim.
3. Existential relevancy—the belief system should address the big questions of life described below and the teachings should be accurately reflected in the world in which we live. Christianity, for example, provides good answers for the large questions of life, but is sometimes questioned because of its claim of an all-good and powerful God who exists alongside a world filled with very real evil. Critics charge that such a thing violates the criteria of existential relevancy, although many good answers have been given to address the issue.
The above framework, when applied to the topic of religion, will help lead one to a right view of God and will answer the four big questions of life:
1. Origin – where did we come from?
2. Ethics – how should we live?
3. Meaning – what is the purpose for life?
4. Destiny – where is mankind heading?
But how does one go about applying this framework in the pursuit of God? A step-by-step question/answer approach is one of the best tactics to employ. Narrowing the list of possible questions down produces the following:
1. Does absolute truth exist?
2. Do reason and religion mix?
3. Does God exist?
4. Can God be known?
5. Is Jesus God?
6. Does God care about me?
First we need to know if absolute truth exists. If it does not, then we really cannot be sure of anything (spiritual or not), and we end up either an agnostic, unsure if we can really know anything, or a pluralist, accepting every position because we are not sure which, if any, is right.
Absolute truth is defined as that which matches reality, that which corresponds to its object, telling it like it is. Some say there is no such thing as absolute truth, but taking such a position becomes self-defeating. For example, the relativist says, “All truth is relative,” yet one must ask: is that statement absolutely true? If so, then absolute truth exists; if not, then why consider it? Postmodernism affirms no truth, yet it affirms at least one absolute truth: postmodernism is true. In the end, absolute truth becomes undeniable.
Further, absolute truth is naturally narrow and excludes its opposite. Two plus two equals four, with no other answer being possible. This point becomes critical as different belief systems and worldviews are compared. If one belief system has components that are proven true, then any competing belief system with contrary claims must be false. Also, we must keep in mind that absolute truth is not impacted by sincerity and desire. No matter how sincerely someone embraces a lie, it is still a lie. And no desire in the world can make something true that is false.
The answer of question one is that absolute truth exists. This being the case, agnosticism, postmodernism, relativism, and skepticism are all false positions.
This leads us to the next question of whether reason/logic can be used in matters of religion. Some say this is not possible, but—why not? The truth is, logic is vital when examining spiritual claims because it helps us understand why some claims should be excluded and others embraced. Logic is absolutely critical in dismantling pluralism (which says that all truth claims, even those that oppose each other, are equal and valid).
For example, Islam and Judaism claim that Jesus is not God, whereas Christianity claims He is. One of the core laws of logic is the law of non-contradiction, which says something cannot be both “A” and “non-A” at the same time and in the same sense. Applying this law to the claims Judaism, Islam, and Christianity means that one is right and the other two are wrong. Jesus cannot be both God and not God. Used properly, logic is a potent weapon against pluralism because it clearly demonstrates that contrary truth claims cannot both be true. This understanding topples the whole “true for you but not for me” mindset.
Logic also dispels the whole “all roads lead to the top of the mountain” analogy that pluralists use. Logic shows that each belief system has its own set of signs that point to radically different locations in the end. Logic shows that the proper illustration of a search for spiritual truth is more like a maze—one path makes it through to truth, while all others arrive at dead ends. All faiths may have some surface similarities, but they differ in major ways in their core doctrines.
The conclusion is that you can use reason and logic in matters of religion. That being the case, pluralism (the belief that all truth claims are equally true and valid) is ruled out because it is illogical and contradictory to believe that diametrically opposing truth claims can both be right.
Next comes the big question: does God exist? Atheists and naturalists (who do not accept anything beyond this physical world and universe) say “no.” While volumes have been written and debates have raged throughout history on this question, it is actually not difficult to answer. To give it proper attention, you must first ask this question: Why do we have something rather than nothing at all? In other words, how did you and everything around you get here? The argument for God can be presented very simply:
You do not get something from nothing.
Therefore, a necessary and eternal Being exists.
You cannot deny you exist because you have to exist in order to deny your own existence (which is self-defeating), so the first premise above is true. No one has ever demonstrated that something can come from nothing unless they redefine what ‘nothing’ is, so the second premise rings true. Therefore, the conclusion naturally follows—an eternal Being is responsible for everything that exists.
This is a position no thinking atheist denies; they just claim that the universe is that eternal being. However, the problem with that stance is that all scientific evidence points to the fact that the universe had a beginning (the ‘big bang’). And everything that has a beginning must have a cause; therefore, the universe had a cause and is not eternal. Because the only two sources of eternality are an eternal universe (denied by all current empirical evidence) or an eternal Creator, the only logical conclusion is that God exists. Answering the question of God’s existence in the affirmative rules out atheism as a valid belief system.
Now, this conclusion says nothing about what kind of God exists, but amazingly enough, it does do one sweeping thing—it rules out all pantheistic religions. All pantheistic worldviews say that the universe is God and is eternal. And this assertion is false. So, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and all other pantheistic religions are ruled out as valid belief systems.
Further, we learn some interesting things about this God who created the universe. He is:
• Supernatural in nature (as He exists outside of His creation)
• Incredibly powerful (to have created all that is known)
• Eternal (self-existent, as He exists outside of time and space)
• Omnipresent (He created space and is not limited by it)
• Timeless and changeless (He created time)
• Immaterial (because He transcends space)
• Personal (the impersonal can’t create personality)
• Necessary (as everything else depends on Him)
• Infinite and singular (as you cannot have two infinites)
• Diverse yet has unity (as all multiplicity implies a prior singularity)
• Intelligent (supremely, to create everything)
• Purposeful (as He deliberately created everything)
• Moral (no moral law can exist without a lawgiver)
• Caring (or no moral laws would have been given)
This Being exhibits characteristics very similar to the God of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, which interestingly enough, are the only core faiths left standing after atheism and pantheism have been eliminated. Note also that one of the big questions in life (origins) is now answered: we know where we came from.
This leads to the next question: can we know God? At this point, the need for religion is replaced by something more important—the need for revelation. If mankind is to know this God well, it is up to God to reveal Himself to His creation. Judaism, Islam, and Christianity all claim to have a book that is God’s revelation to man, but the question is which (if any) is actually true? Pushing aside minor differences, the two core areas of dispute are 1) the New Testament of the Bible 2) the person of Jesus Christ. Islam and Judaism both claim the New Testament of the Bible is untrue in what it claims, and both deny that Jesus is God incarnate, while Christianity affirms both to be true.
There is no faith on the planet that can match the mountains of evidence that exist for Christianity. From the voluminous number of ancient manuscripts, to the very early dating of the documents written during the lifetime of the eyewitnesses (some only 15 years after Christ’s death), to the multiplicity of the accounts (nine authors in 27 books of the New Testament), to the archaeological evidence—none of which has ever contradicted a single claim the New Testament makes—to the fact that the apostles went to their deaths claiming they had seen Jesus in action and that He had come back from the dead, Christianity sets the bar in terms of providing the proof to back up its claims. The New Testament’s historical authenticity—that it conveys a truthful account of the actual events as they occurred—is the only right conclusion to reach once all the evidence has been examined.
When it comes to Jesus, one finds a very curious thing about Him—He claimed to be God in the flesh. Jesus own words (e.g., “Before Abraham was born I AM”), His actions (e.g., forgiving sins, accepting worship), His sinless and miraculous life (which He used to prove His truth claims over opposing claims), and His resurrection all support His claims to be God. The New Testament writers affirm this fact over and over again in their writings.
Now, if Jesus is God, then what He says must be true. And if Jesus said that the Bible is inerrant and true in everything it says (which He did), this must mean that the Bible is true in what it proclaims. As we have already learned, two competing truth claims cannot both be right. So anything in the Islamic Koran or writings of Judaism that contradict the Bible cannot be true. In fact, both Islam and Judaism fail since they both say that Jesus is not God incarnate, while the evidence says otherwise. And because we can indeed know God (because He has revealed Himself in His written Word and in Christ), all forms of agnosticism are refuted. Lastly, another big question of life is answered—that of ethics—as the Bible contains clear instructions on how mankind ought to live.
This same Bible proclaims that God cares deeply for mankind and wishes all to know Him intimately. In fact, He cares so much that He became a man to show His creation exactly what He is like. There are many men who have sought to be God, but only one God who sought to be man so He could save those He deeply loves from an eternity separated from Him. This fact demonstrates the existential relevancy of Christianity and also answers that last two big questions of life—meaning and destiny. Each person has been designed by God for a purpose, and each has a destiny that awaits him—one of eternal life with God or eternal separation from Him. This deduction (and the point of God becoming a man in Christ) also refutes Deism, which says God is not interested in the affairs of mankind.
In the end, we see that ultimate truth about God can be found and the worldview maze successfully navigated by testing various truth claims and systematically pushing aside falsehoods so that only the truth remains. Using the tests of logical consistency, empirical adequacy, and existential relevancy, coupled with asking the right questions, yields truthful and reasonable conclusions about religion and God. Everyone should agree that the only reason to believe something is that it is true—nothing more. Sadly, true belief is a matter of the will, and no matter how much logical evidence is presented, some will still choose to deny the God who is there and miss the one true path to harmony with Him.
The existence of so many religions and the claim that all religions lead to God without question confuses many who are earnestly seeking the truth about God, with the end result sometimes being that some despair of ever reaching the absolute truth on the subject. Or they end up embracing the universalist claim that all religions lead to God. Of course, skeptics also point to the existence of so many religions as proof that either you cannot know God or that God simply does not exist.
Romans 1:19-21 contains the biblical explanation for why there are so many religions. The truth of God is seen and known by every human being because God has made it so. Instead of accepting the truth about God and submitting to it, most human beings reject it and seek their own way to understand God. But this leads not to enlightenment regarding God, but to futility of thinking. Here is where we find the basis of the “many religions.”
Many people do not want to believe in a God who demands righteousness and morality, so they invent a God who makes no such requirements. Many people do not want to believe in a God who declares it impossible for people to earn their own way to heaven. So they invent a God who accepts people into heaven if they have completed certain steps, followed certain rules, and/or obeyed certain laws, at least to the best of their ability. Many people do not want a relationship with a God who is sovereign and omnipotent. So they imagine God as being more of a mystical force than a personal and sovereign ruler.
The existence of so many religions is not an argument against God’s existence or an argument that truth about God is not clear. Rather, the existence of so many religions is demonstration of humanity’s rejection of the one true God. Mankind has replaced Him with gods that are more to their liking. This is a dangerous enterprise. The desire to recreate God in our own image comes from the sin nature within us—a nature that will eventually “reap destruction” (Galatians 6:7-8).
Do all religions lead to God? Actually they do. All but one leads to His judgment. Only one—Christianity—leads to His forgiveness and eternal life. No matter what religion one embraces, everyone will meet God after death (Hebrews 9:27). All religions lead to God, but only one religion will result in God’s acceptance, because only through His salvation through faith in Jesus Christ can anyone approach Him with confidence. The decision to embrace the truth about God is important for a simple reason: eternity is an awfully long time to be wrong. This is why right thinking about God is so critical.
Choose Jesus. Eternity is an awful price to pay for being wrong. God bless you dear one!!! Maranatha!!!
They are a cult. Are Jehovah’s Witnesses Christians? According to the Watchtower’s website, “Jehovah’s Witnesses are Christians, but they are not Protestants for the same reason that they are not Catholics—they recognize certain teachings of those religions as unscriptural.” However, this claim is made based on how they define what a Christian is.
The Bible mentions in Acts that those who followed Jesus were first called Christians in Antioch (Acts 11:26). Why? Because they believed in the teaching of Jesus as taught by the apostles. What was their message? That the resurrected Jesus is God, a teaching rejected by Jehovah’s Witnesses who claim Jesus was a created being. Based on this biblical definition, official Watchtower teachings would not be defined as Christian.
In addition, Jehovah’s Witness teachings hold many other views regarding Jesus that are at odds with the New Testament. According to Watchtower teachings, in His pre-human state, Jesus was the archangel Michael, the first created being. He was also called the Logos, “the second greatest personage of the universe.” In His human state, they claim that Jesus was nothing more than a perfect human being. In His post-human state, they teach that He was recreated as a glorious immortal spirit creature, ascended into Heaven, and is now the head under Jehovah of God’s capital organization over the entire universe.
These beliefs stand in direct contrast with the Bible’s teachings that Christ is fully man and also fully God (John 1:1; 5:18; 10:30; 20:28; Titus 2:13; Colossians 2:9; Philippians 2:1-8). Further, the Bible is clear that as God, Christ is eternal, not created (Micah 5:2; John 1:1-3).
One concerning result of these teachings is that Jehovah’s Witnesses are taught not to pray to Jesus, only to Jehovah. Yet the first Christian martyr, Stephen, prayed directly to Jesus just before his death, stating, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit…Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (Acts 7:59-60). If Stephen could pray to Jesus, why shouldn’t other followers of Jesus? This passage has been a difficult one for the Watchtower to navigate, and also a passage used to help many former Jehovah’s Witnesses pray to Jesus and come to faith in Him as Christ.
Watchtower teachings alter the fundamental identity of Jesus, the very founder of Christianity. If Jesus was created, formerly existed as an angel, was not God on earth, did not die on a cross, did not physically resurrect from the dead, did not ascend to Heaven, and will not literally return as Lord, then the Jesus of the Watchtower is certainly not the Jesus presented in the Bible. As a result, we must conclude that the teachings of the Watchtower are not Christian as defined by the Bible itself. Jesus loves you!!! Maranatha!!! :):)
No they cannot. There is perhaps no more hotly debated issue in the church today than the issue of women serving as pastors. As a result, it is very important to not see this issue as men versus women. There are women who believe women should not serve as pastors and that the Bible places restrictions on the ministry of women, and there are men who believe women can serve as preachers and that there are no restrictions on women in ministry. This is not an issue of chauvinism or discrimination. It is an issue of biblical interpretation.
The Word of God proclaims, “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent” (1 Timothy 2:11-12). In the church, God assigns different roles to men and women. This is a result of the way mankind was created and the way in which sin entered the world (1 Timothy 2:13-14). God, through the apostle Paul, restricts women from serving in roles of teaching and/or having spiritual authority over men. This precludes women from serving as pastors over men, which definitely includes preaching to, teaching, and having spiritual authority.
There are many “objections” to this view of women in ministry. A common one is that Paul restricts women from teaching because in the first century, women were typically uneducated. However, 1 Timothy 2:11-14 nowhere mentions educational status. If education were a qualification for ministry, the majority of Jesus’ disciples would not have been qualified. A second common objection is that Paul only restricted the women of Ephesus from teaching (1 Timothy was written to Timothy, who was the pastor of the church in Ephesus). The city of Ephesus was known for its temple to Artemis, a false Greek/Roman goddess. Women were the authority in the worship of Artemis. However, the book of 1 Timothy nowhere mentions Artemis, nor does Paul mention Artemis worship as a reason for the restrictions in 1 Timothy 2:11-12.
A third common objection is that Paul is only referring to husbands and wives, not men and women in general. The Greek words in the passage could refer to husbands and wives; however, the basic meaning of the words refers to men and women. Further, the same Greek words are used in verses 8-10. Are only husbands to lift up holy hands in prayer without anger and disputing (verse 8)? Are only wives to dress modestly, have good deeds, and worship God (verses 9-10)? Of course not. Verses 8-10 clearly refer to all men and women, not only husbands and wives. There is nothing in the context that would indicate a switch to husbands and wives in verses 11-14.
Yet another frequent objection to this interpretation of women in ministry is in relation to women who held positions of leadership in the Bible, specifically Miriam, Deborah, and Huldah in the Old Testament. This objection fails to note some significant factors. First, Deborah was the only female judge among 13 male judges. Huldah was the only female prophet among dozens of male prophets mentioned in the Bible. Miriam’s only connection to leadership was being the sister of Moses and Aaron. The two most prominent women in the times of the Kings were Athaliah and Jezebel—hardly examples of godly female leadership. Most significantly, though, the authority of women in the Old Testament is not relevant to the issue. The book of 1 Timothy and the other Pastoral Epistles present a new paradigm for the church—the body of Christ—and that paradigm involves the authority structure for the church, not for the nation of Israel or any other Old Testament entity.
Similar arguments are made using Priscilla and Phoebe in the New Testament. In Acts 18, Priscilla and Aquila are presented as faithful ministers for Christ. Priscilla’s name is mentioned first, perhaps indicating that she was more “prominent” in ministry than her husband. However, Priscilla is nowhere described as participating in a ministry activity that is in contradiction to 1 Timothy 2:11-14. Priscilla and Aquila brought Apollos into their home and they both discipled him, explaining the Word of God to him more accurately (Acts 18:26).
In Romans 16:1, even if Phoebe is considered a “deaconess” instead of a “servant,” that does not indicate that Phoebe was a teacher in the church. “Able to teach” is given as a qualification for elders, but not deacons (1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:6-9). Elders/bishops/deacons are described as the “husband of one wife,” “a man whose children believe,” and “men worthy of respect.” Clearly the indication is that these qualifications refer to men. In addition, in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:6-9, masculine pronouns are used exclusively to refer to elders/bishops/deacons.
The structure of 1 Timothy 2:11-14 makes the “reason” perfectly clear. Verse 13 begins with “for” and gives the “cause” of Paul’s statement in verses 11-12. Why should women not teach or have authority over men? Because “Adam was created first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived.” God created Adam first and then created Eve to be a “helper” for Adam. This order of creation has universal application in the family (Ephesians 5:22-33) and the church. The fact that Eve was deceived is also given as a reason for women not serving as pastors or having spiritual authority over men. This leads some to believe that women should not teach because they are more easily deceived. That concept is debatable, but if women are more easily deceived, why should they be allowed to teach children (who are easily deceived) and other women (who are supposedly more easily deceived)? That is not what the text says. Women are not to teach men or have spiritual authority over men because Eve was deceived. As a result, God has given men the primary teaching authority in the church.
Many women excel in gifts of hospitality, mercy, teaching, evangelism, and helps. Much of the ministry of the local church depends on women. Women in the church are not restricted from public praying or prophesying (1 Corinthians 11:5), only from having spiritual teaching authority over men. The Bible nowhere restricts women from exercising the gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12). Women, just as much as men, are called to minister to others, to demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), and to proclaim the gospel to the lost (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; 1 Peter 3:15).
God has ordained that only men are to serve in positions Pastor in the church. This is not because men are necessarily better teachers, or because women are inferior or less intelligent (which is not the case). It is simply the way God designed the church to function. Men are to set the example in spiritual leadership—in their lives and through their words. Women are to take a less authoritative role. Women are encouraged to teach other women (Titus 2:3-5). The Bible also does not restrict women from teaching children. The only activity women are restricted from is teaching or having spiritual authority over men. This logically would preclude women from serving as pastors to men. This does not make women less important, by any means, but rather gives them a ministry focus more in agreement with God’s plan and His gifting of them. I believe that it has to do a lot with the duties of the wife in the home. She teaches the children and runs her household and I can tell you from personal experience to do the job you are on cal 24/7. That leaves little to no time to run a church. Remember that in the family of God there is no confusion and that is why I believe that the Lord set it up this way.
As a woman I believe that we have it much better than men do. We can travel the world as an evangelist preaching the Gospel, we can lead music and worship ministry and we can teach children and women. We have all of the best of ministry without all of the headaches. The Lord is not now nor has He ever claimed to be “Politically Correct” He is God. The bible tells us: “Do you still want to argue with the Almighty? You are God’s critic, but do you have the answers?” – Job 40:2
I always have people ask me about Beth Moore and Anne Graham Lotz and the many women who are out there preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.. They are not pastors they are evangelists. God bless you!!! God bless you and Maranatha!!! :):):)
Original article courtesy of the Ignorant Fisherman with some additions by SimplyHeavenlyFood.tumblr.com.
It seems like everywhere you look these days while driving on the road – especially on college campuses – an odd-phrased bumper sticker with religious symbols spelling “COEXIST” can be seen. This phrase contains the spiritual ideologies of the major world religions.
Every letter in the “COEXIST” phrase has a symbol representing a religious system or spiritual ideology: “C” for the crescent and star (representing Islam); “O” being dotted with the Karma Wheel (Buddhism) “E” as energy in the relativity equation (Science); “X”illustrating the star of David (Judaism); the “I” representing the pentagram (Wicca/Pagan); “S” for the Tao symbol; and “T” for the cross for Christianity.
— Note from Simply Heavenly Food—
There are other “COEXIST” symbols which are slightly different but mean the same thing. The one below is the most popularly used of the two and on any given day, you will see bumper stickers of this “COEXIST” movement on cars. It’s a fancy movement that is basically the same thing as the church of “okayness” and very similar to the “Chrislam” movement where other “religions” are trying to lead Christians astray into a false doctrine where everyone believes in all different paths to heaven when in fact, there is only 1 way to heaven!!
Jesus said “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through me” John 14:6
Do not be deceived into following this false doctrine just because celebrities and the world say to! Jesus is the ONLY way to heaven!
“Every letter in the “COEXIST” phrase has a symbol representing a religious system or spiritual ideology” The goal of this movement is the promotion of a pluralistic and universal utopian worldview. At the heart of this movement is the abandonment of core absolutes and values (moral and spiritual.) This movement seeks to undermine personal beliefs and practices for the supposed “betterment” of world unification. Its most damnable feature, however, is the staunch rejection of the sovereignty and reality of Almighty God, His authoritative Word (the Bible), and His Savior to all fallen men, the Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 John 2:22-23). The chief Promoter of this godless ecumenical movement is the godless music industry and the pop icon Bono from the band U2. Hollywood and the fashion industry also promote this movement with an array of clothing products, gear and bumper stickers.
A phrase from the Coexist website states, “Coexist is a concept brand for everyone, connecting people and planet, together we symbolize life, love and global harmony.”
The Coexist phenomenon is the product of the subjective secular Left. The majority of the Coexist followers are secular liberals. This ideology of religious pluralism actually intersects with all three political ideologies (liberal, moderate, and conservative), but it has its greatest hold in the secular liberal mind (Romans 1:18-32; 8:5-8).
The true core of the Left are secularists who wish to promote a delusional, pluralistic universe that combines all godless ideologies. However, their main goal and real agenda is to rid the world of all religious ideologies in favor of a secular, godless one.
“However, their main goal and real agenda is to rid the world of all religious ideologies in favor of a secular, godless one”.
Though at first glance the motivation behind this movement seems sincere, noble and virtuous, the very subtle hiss of Luciferian (Satanic) mass deception can be distinctly heard. This movement seeks to bring about a godless unification - while rejecting sound moral absolutes - of the scattered inhabitants of nations following the Tower of Babel rebellion ~4,300 years ago (Gen. 11:1-9; Dan. 2:31-35, 37-45; Rev. 13:12-14).
Lucifer is the Master Kool-aid maker and pourer when it comes to mass deception of unregenerate humanity. The taste of Lucifer’s Kool-Aid is sweet and satisfying to man’s fallen (i.e., unregenerate) humanity (John 3:19; Rom. 8:5-8; Gal. 5:17-21; 2 Cor. 2:14), while his poison brew of lies seeks to counteract the reality of the eternal and natural laws of Almighty God (Rev. 17:2-3). The final destiny of these Satanic Kool–Aid drinkers is physical and eternal death (Rom. 3:23; Rev. 20:12-15; 21:8). Lucifer’s master plan is the unification of all the scattered children of Babel (Gen 11:1-9; Rev. 13), and reigning over them as their fascist, despotic master (Isa. 14:12-17; Ezek. 28:13-19; John 8:44; Rev. 13:8, 16-18).
“The true core of the Left are secularists who wish to promote a delusional, pluralistic universe that combines all godless ideologies. However, their main goal and real agenda is to rid the world of all religious ideologies in favor of a single secular, godless one”
Prior to the creation of the 1st and 2nd heaven (the earth’s atmosphere and the stellar universe) and earth (Gen 1:1), the fallen Angelic realm rebelled against Almighty God in eternity past abandoning all absolute truth and reality(Isa. 14:12-17, Ezek. 13-19, John 8:44, Jude 6; Rev. 12:4), causing evil (spiritual darkness) to first appear in God’s perfect creation. Fallen Humanity also follows suit in attempting to replace the Reality (truth) of Almighty God and His Eternal Absolutes with that of a temporal earthly delusional (false) one. All that remains to those who reject God’s absolutes is a decadent, delusional state of “universal pluralism” that ends in darkness and eternal damnation (John 3:19; 2 Thess. 2:10-12; Rev. 20:12-15).
Pluralism and Universalism and The Whore
The philosophy of Pluralism stipulates that all religions or spiritual ideologiesexist on an equal footing.Universalism is the belief that any and all religions or philosophies lead to “God,” and everyone will be saved in the end regardless of what is practiced.Religion is the godless spiritual ideology of unregenerate (fallen) man.
The final outworking of the Coexistmovement of pluralism, tolerance and universalism will lead to a global unity of all “faiths” (the Whore of Rev. 17) after the Rapture of God’s Church, as God’s infallible Word declares. In the end this “godless morass” will be violently destroyed by the Anti-Christ (Lucifer’s secular servant) and his confederacy of 10 nations or global regions (Rev. 13:1; 17:12, 15-17). Following the destruction and removal of this Whore (the Coexist movement), the Anti-Christ will fill the global void with the worship of himself and Lucifer by way of a blasphemous, idolatrous Image (Dan. 11:37; Matt. 24:15; 2 Thess. 2:4; Rev. 13:4, 8, 12, 15, 18:2). This will be the fulfillment of Satan’s age-long plan to gain worship and sovereignty in his delusional reality without Almighty God and His Eternal Sovereignty.
“Lawlessness and absolute anarchy will be the fruit of his demonic agenda”
This short-lived reign will only last 3 1/2 years (Rev. 13:5), and his promise of “Peace and a Global Utopia” will be the furthest thing from the truth (Matt 24:21-22; 1 Thess. 5:3). Lawlessness and absolute anarchy will be the fruit of his demonic agenda until the God of Reality and Truth, the Son of Almighty God, comes to crush Lucifer’s godless rebellion and establish His Kingdom on earth in Reality and Truth for ever and ever! (Dan 2:44; 7:21-22; 2 Thess. 2:8; Rev. 19:11-21; 20:10)
True Coexistence is Only Possible through Jesus Christ
The Coexistence of fallen humanity can only come about through the Person and Work of Jesus Christ (John 17:20-23; Romans 10:4). He alone is Almighty God’s solution and remedy for His lost creation and the unregenerate state and condition of fallen man (Acts 4:12; John 14:6).
For any and all who place their trust in Him, Almighty God will deliver from the judgment, bondage and mortality of their fallen estate (Rom. 12:2; 1 Cor. 15: 42-44; Gal. 1:4; Heb. 2:14-15; 2 Peter 2:20).
Forevermore in the Kingdom age to come and in eternity future will they dwell in absolute righteousness to serve Almighty God in spirit and truth (John 4:23; Dan. 2:44; 7:13, 14, 18). They will be permanently delivered from the bondage and presence of a sinful nature and a cursed world (Rom. 7:24; 8:21-23; 1 Cor. 15:42-44; Rev. 21; 22:1-5).
To those who choose to Coexist in a state of spiritual delusion and rebellion against the eternal absolutes and natural laws of Almighty God, they will die (i.e., be separated) in their trespass and sin, and ultimately assigned to God’s Eternal prison called the Lake of Fire(John 8:24; Roms 3:23; Rev 21: 8, 27).
The Two Different Cohabitations of Forever
Note the vastly different eternal destinies of those who by faith receive Almighty God’s remedy (solution) for their fallen estate, and those who by unbelief reject it.
The Redeemed:(see Matt 5:6; 25: 34; 1 Cor. 2:9; 1 John 3:2; Rev 21:1-7; 22:1-5). (Click for Picture example)
The Unregenerate:(see Isa. 66:24; Matt. 3:12; 25:41, 46; Mark 9:48; John 8:24; 2 Thess. 2:12; Rev. 14:10-14; 21:8). (Click for Picture example)
Where do you want to go? Heaven or hell? The choice is YOURS alone!
My friend, Almighty God in His goodness wants to pardon you from your trespasses against His Perfect Person and Nature. He created you to know Him and to enjoy Him forever. He loves you and sent His Son to die in your place. He reaches out to you even now. Don’t turn your back on Him. Don’t deceive yourself or harden your heart, which may be heavy laden with sin, bitterness, and hate, and allow unbelief to deprive you of God’s great love and tranquility. Place your trust in Him and His never-changing Word. You will be so glad that you did. My friend, God’s love will transform you such that you will never be the same! Let it be so for you.
In the midst of a secular, “pluralistic universalism” global movement which will soon engulf the whole world, be not deceived! Turn your heart to the One who is “the Way, the Truth and the Life,” even the Lord Jesus Christ!
Jesus said, Enter ye in at the strait (narrow) gate: for wide is the gate, and broad (wide) is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat (Matt 7:13).
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me (John 14:6).
Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12).
The Kingdom of heaven is at hand!
David never ever danced naked. Here is what the Bible says:
The Ark Is Brought to Jerusalem
12 Now it was told King David, saying, “The Lord has blessed the house of Obed-edom and all that belongs to him, on account of the ark of God.” David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom into the city of David with gladness. 13 And so it was, that when the bearers of the ark of the Lord had gone six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fatling. 14 And David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, and David was wearing a linen ephod. 15 So David and all the house of Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouting and the sound of the trumpet. 2 Samuel 6:12-15
In the Old Testament, the ephod has two meanings. In one group of passages, it signifies a garment; in another, very probably an image. As a garment the ephod is referred to in the priestly ordinances as a part of the official dress of the high priest. It was to be made of threads “of blue and of purple, of scarlet, and fine twined linen” and embroidered in gold thread “with cunning work” (Exodus 28:4; 29:5; 39:2; Leviticus 8:7).
The ephod was held together by a girdle of similar workmanship sewed on to it. It had two shoulder pieces, which, as the name implies, crossed the shoulders, and were apparently fastened or sewed to the ephod in front. In dressing, the shoulder pieces were joined in the back to the two ends of the ephod. Nothing is said of the length of the garment. At the point where the shoulder pieces were joined together in the front “above the girdle,” two golden rings were sewed on, to which the breastplate was attached.
After His resurrection and before His ascension to heaven, Jesus promised the Spirit as a permanent guide, teacher, seal of salvation, and comforter for believers (John 14:16-18). He also promised that the Holy Spirit’s power would help them to spread the message of the gospel around the world: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The salvation of souls is a supernatural work only made possible by the Holy Spirit’s power at work in the world.
When the Holy Spirit descended upon believers at Pentecost, it was not a quiet event, but a powerful one. “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them” (Acts 2:1–4). Immediately afterward, the disciples spoke to the crowds gathered in Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost. These people hailed from a variety of nations, and therefore spoke many different languages. Imagine their surprise and wonder when the disciples spoke to them in their own tongues (verses 5–12)! Clearly, this was not something the disciples could have accomplished on their own without many months—or even years—of study. The Holy Spirit’s power was made manifest to a great number of people that day, resulting in the conversion of about 3,000 (verse 41).
During His earthly ministry, Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:15), led by the Spirit (Luke 4:1, 14), and empowered by the Spirit to perform miracles (Matthew 12:28). After Jesus had ascended to heaven, the Spirit also equipped the apostles to perform miracles (2 Corinthians 2:12; Acts 2:43; 3:1–7; 9:39–41). The power of the Holy Spirit was manifest among all the believers of the early church through the dispensation of spiritual gifts such as speaking in tongues, prophesying, teaching, wisdom, and more.
All those who put their faith in Jesus Christ are immediately and permanently indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:11)the Holy Spirit still works in and through believers to accomplish His will. His power leads us, convicts us, teaches us, and equips us to do His work and spread the gospel. The Holy Spirit’s powerful indwelling is an amazing gift we should never take lightly.
At the International House of Prayer, there is active prayer taking place, literally 24/7, without interruption, and this has been the case for many years. 24/7 prayer is a good thing. There is no such thing as “praying too much,” so, in this area, IHOP is to be commended. The problem arises, however, in the type of prayer that is taking place. The International House of Prayer has adopted many of the practices of the contemplative prayer movement, with much more focus on mysticism and contemplative spirituality than on worshipping the Lord in prayer and interceding for others through prayer. Some elements of the IHOP employ prayer in a Word-Faith manner, claiming things from God rather than submitting to God’s will in humility. There are also reports of prophetic prayer, praying in tongues, and other ecstatic practices. So, while 24/7 prayer is commendable, if the prayers being uttered are not biblical, there is no true value in them.
Another concern with the International House of Prayer is its connection with the prophetic movement in general, and the Kansas City Prophets specifically. Instead of a biblical understanding of prophecy, that is, declaring the truth that God has revealed, IHOP essentially views prophets as Christian psychics, with prophetic hotlines, prophetic readings, and an emphasis on personal prophecy. Many have been led astray by those claiming to be apostles and prophets with a “word from the Lord.” There have been many reports of spiritual abuse and prophetic manipulation within the International House of Prayer movement.
This misunderstanding of the gift of prophecy leads to another area of concern. The International House of Prayer has an extreme over-emphasis on the miraculous gifts of the Spirit. Much has already been written on the cessation of the miraculous gifts, but IHOP’s use of these gifts goes far beyond what most Charismatics and Pentecostals will accept. At IHOP, the miraculous gifts of the Spirit are expected to be commonplace. Miraculous healings, visions, dreams, prophecies, tongues, words of knowledge, signs, wonders, etc., are claimed to be constant within the ministries of IHOP. IHOP’s claims regarding the gifts of the Spirit do not at all agree with what the Bible presents. In the New Testament, the miraculous gifts of the Spirit authenticated the teachings of the apostles (2 Corinthians 12:12). If miracles are normal, they cannot have an authenticating quality to them. IHOP’s claims regarding miracles do not agree with what the Bible teaches about miracles, signs, and wonders. We would all be wise to remember Jesus’ warning in Matthew 24:24, “For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible.” With all of that said, clearly IHOP should not be considered a biblically-sound ministry/organization. The above concerns are only the “tip of the iceberg” in comparison to some of the things that have been reported by former IHOP members/participants.
The Lord Jesus Christ told the disciples and all who would believe upon Him through their testimony (John 17:20) that He had to go away to prepare a place for us but would not leave us comfortless or orphans but that the Father would send another Comforter. This Comforter is another of the same kind and quality as Christ Himself, and He would be with them and in them (John 14:17). Never is it said that He would come upon them and cause them to lose control of themselves. We are called to do “all things decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40). Nowhere in Scripture do we see the Lord Jesus ever laying His hands on the disciples and producing manifestations of uncontrollable laughter, shaking, animal noises, twitching, the need to be restrained to protect oneself from harm, or the loss of bodily control. Rather, Jesus rebuked the demons or devils that caused these manifestations and healed those that were possessed of them (Matthew 4:24; 8:16, 28; 9:32; 12:22; 15:22).
Peter warns us in 2 Peter 2:1 about false prophets and false teachers, who would “introduce destructive heresies and even deny the sovereign Lord.” The apostle Paul said, “a little leaven, leavens the whole lump” (1 Corinthians 5:6; Galatians 5:9). As believers, we are to test the spirits and to be informed and not deceived by the false teachers that abound today, whom the apostle Paul warned of in his day (2 Corinthians 11:13; 2 Timothy 3:1-7). And these valuable lessons are left for us to use and apply in every age.
PROPHECY BEFORE OUR EYES… IDF Soldiers Warned Against Contact with Messianic Jews….. OOOH Watch Out They May Find Yeshua HaMashiach!!!
The citizens of Israel woke up this week to a special early morning announcement by the Israeli Army on news broadcasts all across the country: The Ministry of Defense has ordered that all soldiers staying in Jerusalem over the Sabbath are not allowed to have any contact with members of the sect of Jews who preach faith in Yeshua (Jesus).
Is faith in Yeshua such a threat to our national security that one of the most effective military organizations in the world feels the need to “protect” its soldiers from this “sect of Jews”?
It all started when a small group of Messianic Jews visited a hostel for lone soldiers in Jerusalem over the Sabbath. The army provides the hostel for soldiers who have no family in Israel. On the weekends, when they are off base, they can stay at “Beit Hachayal,” or Soldiers’ House. A group of Messianic Israelis were visiting soldiers at this particular Beit Hachayal on the Sabbath and talking about their New Testament faith.
Many soldiers enjoyed these visits, and some began reading the New Testament and other Messianic literature regularly. Soldiers were invited to visit with Messianics in their homes, where they were introduced to Messianic faith during Sabbath meals and Bible teachings.
The Jewish believers had built up many friendships with management and staff of the hostel, who appreciated the positive impact the visits had on the lone soldiers. One of the soldiers even came to faith in the Yeshua. No one at the hostel, or in the IDF, were bothered one bit by this, not until an “anti-missionary” organization stirred up trouble.
The so-called “anti-missionaries” became aware that a soldier had come to faith in Yeshua most likely from reading one of the many Messianic or Christian newsletters and websites they follow. So they reported to the Ministry of Defense and IDF authorities that “the cult of Jews who preach Christianity are running missionary activities at Beit Hachayal.”
The ultra-Orthodox authorities to which the anti-missionaries are attached carry a lot of political weight and can cause a lot of problems. So, without investigating the facts on the ground, the Ministry of Defense and IDF immediately put out the public warning against association with Messianic.
Messianic Jews also received a letter from the Ministry of Defense forbidding them from entering “Beit Hachayal without explicit permission including a description of intended activities.”
Years ago, Messianic Jews were considered something of a security risk by the IDF. Many were not allowed to serve in elite or sensitive units. Today, however, Messianics are highly regarded by military authorities, and are even sought out to serve as commanders and officers in every branch of the Israeli military, including Military Intelligence, which requires the highest security clearance.
One Messianic Jewish Sabra (native-Israeli born), a sergeant in the Israel Air Force, recently asked his commander if he could include the New Testament together with the Hebrew Bible in his pledge of allegiance to the State of Israel. “Yes you may,” returned the officer without blinking an eye. And so this young man joined the growing numbers of hundreds of openly Messianic Jewish soldiers proudly serving in the IDF.
So why is the Ministry of Defense now publicly opposing Messianic activity in Jerusalem? According to one combat soldier, who is not Messianic, it all has to do with politics. “The government passed a law recently to recruit religious (ultra-Orthodox) Jews, but most refuse to serve,” he explained. “The army is trying to appease the Orthodox community in Jerusalem by making this absurd announcement against Messianic faith. We are all here to serve our country and the army should not be involved in telling people which path of faith to follow.”
No they were not. You have been deceived. read your Bible. he ability to trace one’s church back to the “first church” through apostolic succession is an argument used by a number of different churches to assert that their church is the “one true church.” The Roman Catholic Church makes this claim. The Greek Orthodox Church makes this claim. Some Protestant denominations make this claim. Some of the “Christian” cults make this claim. How do we know which church is correct? The biblical answer is – it does not matter!
The first church, its growth, doctrine, and practices, were recorded for us in the New Testament. Jesus, as well as His apostles, foretold that false teachers would arise, and indeed it is apparent from some of the New Testament epistles that these apostles had to fight against false teachers early on. Having a pedigree of apostolic succession or being able to trace a church’s roots back to the “first church” is nowhere in Scripture given as a test for being the true church. What is given is repeated comparisons between what false teachers teach and what the first church taught, as recorded in Scripture. Whether a church is the “true church” or not is determined by comparing its teachings and practices to that of the New Testament church, as recorded in Scripture.
For instance, in Acts 20:17-38, the Apostle Paul has an opportunity to talk to the church leaders in the large city of Ephesus one last time face to face. In that passage, he tells them that false teachers will not only come among them but will come FROM them (vv. 29-30). Paul does not set forth the teaching that they were to follow the “first” organized church as a safeguard for the truth. Rather, he commits them to the safekeeping of “God and to the word of His grace” (v. 32). Thus, truth could be determined by depending upon God and “the word of His grace” (i.e., Scripture, see John 10:35).
This dependence upon the Word of God, rather than following certain individual “founders” is seen again in Galatians 1:8-9, in which Paul states, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.” Thus, the basis for determining truth from error is not based upon even WHO it is that is teaching it, “we or an angel from heaven,” but whether it is the same gospel that they had already received – and this gospel is recorded in Scripture.
Another example of this dependence upon the Word of God is found in 2 Peter. In this epistle, the Apostle Peter is fighting against false teachers. In doing so, Peter begins by mentioning that we have a “more sure word” to depend upon than even hearing the voice of God from heaven as they did at Jesus’ transfiguration (2 Peter 1:16-21). This “more sure word” is the written Word of God. Peter later tells them again to be mindful of “the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets and the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Savior” (2 Peter 3:2). Both the words of the holy prophets and the commandments Jesus gave to the apostles are recorded in Scripture.
How do we determine whether a church is teaching correct doctrine or not? The only infallible standard that Scripture says that we have is the Bible (Isaiah 8:20; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; Matthew 5:18; John 10:35; Isaiah 40:8; 1 Peter 2:25; Galatians 1:6-9). Tradition is a part of every church, and that tradition must be compared to God’s Word, lest it go against what is true (Mark 7:1-13). It is true that the cults and sometimes orthodox churches twist the interpretation of Scripture to support their practices; nonetheless, Scripture, when taken in context and faithfully studied, is able to guide one to the truth.
The “first church” is the church that is recorded in the New Testament, especially in the Book of Acts and the Epistles of Paul. The New Testament church is the “original church” and the “one true church.” We can know this because it is described, in great detail, in Scripture. The church, as recorded in the New Testament, is God’s pattern and foundation for His church. On this basis, let’s examine the Roman Catholic claim that it is the “first church.” Nowhere in the New Testament will you find the “one true church” doing any of the following: praying to Mary, praying to the saints, venerating Mary, submitting to a pope, having a select priesthood, baptizing an infant, observing the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper as sacraments, or passing on apostolic authority to successors of the apostles. All of these are core elements of the Roman Catholic faith. If most of the core elements of the Roman Catholic Church were not practiced by the New Testament Church (the first church and one true church), how then can the Roman Catholic Church be the first church? A study of the New Testament will clearly reveal that the Roman Catholic Church is not the same church as the church that is described in the New Testament.
The New Testament records the history of the church from approximately A.D. 30 to approximately A.D. 90. In the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th centuries, history records several Roman Catholic doctrines and practices among early Christians. Is it not logical that the earliest Christians would be more likely to understand what the Apostles truly meant? Yes, it is logical, but there is one problem. Christians in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th centuries were not the earliest Christians. Again, the New Testament records the doctrine and practice of the earliest Christians…and, the New Testament does not teach Roman Catholicism. What is the explanation for why the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th century church began to exhibit signs of Roman Catholicism?
The answer is simple – the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th century (and following) church did not have the complete New Testament. Churches had portions of the New Testament, but the New Testament (and the full Bible) were not commonly available until after the invention of the printing press in A.D. 1440. The early church did its best in passing on the teachings of the apostles through oral tradition, and through extremely limited availability to the Word in written form. At the same time, it is easy to see how false doctrine could creep into a church that only had access to the Book of Galatians, for example. It is very interesting to note that the Protestant Reformation followed very closely after the invention of the printing press and the translation of the Bible into the common languages of the people. Once people began to study the Bible for themselves, it became very clear how far the Roman Catholic Church had departed from the church that is described in the New Testament.
Scripture never mentions using “which church came first” as the basis for determining which is the “true” church. What it does teach is that one is to use Scripture as the determining factor as to which church is preaching the truth and thus is true to the first church. It is especially important to compare Scripture with a church’s teaching on such core issues as the full deity and humanity of Christ, the atonement for sin through His blood on Calvary, salvation from sin by grace through faith, and the infallibility of the Scriptures. The “first church” and “one true church” is recorded in the New Testament. That is the church that all churches are to follow, emulate, and model themselves after.
The Roman Catholic Church sees Peter as the first pope upon whom God had chosen to build His church (Matthew 16:18). It holds that he had authority (primacy) over the other apostles. The Roman Catholic Church maintains that sometime after the recorded events of the book of Acts, the Apostle Peter became the first bishop of Rome, and that the Roman bishop was accepted by the early church as the central authority among all of the churches. It teaches that God passed Peter’s apostolic authority to those who later filled his seat as bishop of Rome. This teaching that God passed on Peter’s apostolic authority to the subsequent bishops is referred to as “apostolic succession.”
The Roman Catholic Church also holds that Peter and the subsequent popes were and are infallible when addressing issues “ex cathedra,” from their position and authority as pope. It teaches that this infallibility gives the pope the ability to guide the church without error. The Roman Catholic Church claims that it can trace an unbroken line of popes back to St. Peter, citing this as evidence that it is the true church, since, according to their interpretation of Matthew 16:18, Christ built His church upon Peter.
But while Peter was central in the early spread of the gospel (part of the meaning behind Matthew 16:18-19), the teaching of Scripture, taken in context, nowhere declares that he was in authority over the other apostles, or over the church (having primacy). See Acts 15:1-23; Galatians 2:1-14; and 1 Peter 5:1-5. Nor is it ever taught in Scripture that the bishop of Rome, or any other bishop, was to have primacy over the church. Scripture does not even explicitly record Peter even being in Rome. Rather there is only one reference in Scripture of Peter writing from “Babylon,” a name sometimes applied to Rome (1 Peter 5:13). Primarily upon this and the historical rise of the influence of the Bishop of Rome come the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching of the primacy of the bishop of Rome. However, Scripture shows that Peter’s authority was shared by the other apostles (Ephesians 2:19-20), and the “loosing and binding” authority attributed to him was likewise shared by the local churches, not just their church leaders (see Matthew 18:15-19; 1 Corinthians 5:1-13; 2 Corinthians 13:10; Titus 2:15; 3:10-11).
Also, nowhere does Scripture state that, in order to keep the church from error, the authority of the apostles was passed on to those they ordained (the idea behind apostolic succession). Apostolic succession is “read into” those verses that the Roman Catholic Church uses to support this doctrine (2 Timothy 2:2; 4:2-5; Titus 1:5; 2:1; 2:15; 1 Timothy 5:19-22). Paul does NOT call on believers in various churches to receive Titus, Timothy, and other church leaders based on their authority as bishops or their having apostolic authority, but rather based upon their being fellow laborers with him (1 Corinthians 16:10; 16:16; 2 Corinthians 8:23).
What Scripture DOES teach is that false teachings would arise even from among church leaders, and that Christians were to compare the teachings of these later church leaders with Scripture, which alone is infallible (Matthew 5:18; Psalm 19:7-8; 119:160; Proverbs 30:5; John 17:17; 2 Peter 1:19-21). The Bible does not teach that the apostles were infallible, apart from what was written by them and incorporated into Scripture. Paul, in talking to the church leaders in the large city of Ephesus, makes note of coming false teachers. To fight against their error does NOT commend them to “the apostles and those who would carry on their authority”; rather, Paul commends them to “God and to the word of His grace” (Acts 20:28-32). It is Scripture that was to be the infallible measuring stick for teaching and practice (2 Timothy 3:16-17), not apostolic successors. It is by examining the Scriptures that teachings are shown to be true or false (Acts 17:10-12).
Was Peter the first pope? The answer, according to Scripture, is a clear and emphatic “NO.” Peter nowhere claims supremacy over the other apostles. Nowhere in his writings (1 and 2 Peter) did the Apostle Peter claim any special role, authority, or power over the church. Nowhere in Scripture does Peter, or any other apostle, state that their apostolic authority would be passed on to successors. Yes, the Apostle Peter had a leadership role among the disciples. Yes, Peter played a crucial role in the early spread of the gospel (Acts chapters 1-10). Yes, Peter was the “rock” that Christ predicted he would be (Matthew 16:18). However, these truths about Peter in no way give support to the concept that Peter was the first pope, or that he was the “supreme leader” over the apostles, or that his authority would be passed on to the bishops of Rome. Peter himself points us all to the true Shepherd and Overseer of the church, the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:25). God bless you!!! :):)
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