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  1. Mentioned that in the post. But let me ask you, what have you sold? You're claiming I'm a "Heathen Witch Doctor"? Really?
  2. The Parable of The Hidden Treasure Matt 13:44 Matt 13:44 "Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found, and hid. In his joy, he goes and sells all that he has, and buys that field." (web) Discussion Questions What is the treasure? What evidences are there that this man considered his discovery a rich treasure? If a person considers God's treasure as valuable, what evidences would you expect from their life? If we say that we believe God's treasure to be very valuable, but then don't treat it as such, would this indicate that we really believe it to be such? What price must we pay to get God's treasure? Comments Proverbs 25:2 indicates that it is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of man to reveal a matter God conceals the gift of eternal life, not in order that it may not be found, but that it may be found only by the seeking, as Jesus says: Then again there are many who come across this treasure, but not recognizing its value do not reap its benefits. There are those who say they consider it valuable, but are unwilling to pay the price to get it. The price to obtain this treasure is not equal to the value of the treasure itself, but rather so small in proportion as to be considered free. For the man, in selling one field and buying another, lost no money in the transaction. He simply changed allegiances. He transferred his account from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. And the benefit he reaped was the treasure in the kingdom of light. This was not something he did reluctantly, but with joy. Joy cannot be something forced or artificial, but rather a sincere expression of our faith that we have received the treasure of eternal life. Yes, though it be hidden, the treasure of eternal life is obtainable in this lifetime, as Jesus says, Once there was a man who found a treasure Hidden in a field, and he took pleasure In selling all he had to buy that field To gain the treasure it would yield God has a treasure, it's hidden away But seek and you shall find some day That treasure he offers which is life through the Son A life which will last after your life here is done The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources
  3. God is Holy To understand God's attitude of holiness one must first understand that there's a difference between what God likes and what God loves. God loves even His enemies, and commands us Christians to do likewise. But that's not to say that God likes his enemies. In their state of being His enemies He doesn't prefer having fellowship with them. There are things that God hates. That is to say there are things that God doesn't like, things He doesn't prefer. "The wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates." Ps 11:5b And "The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way And the perverse mouth I hate." Pr 8:13 And there are whole lists of things that God doesn't accept in His presence. "The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God." Gal 5:19-21 These are just a few of the many things that God hates. God will not have a relationship with the wicked. "Your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear." Is 59:2 Does people's wickedness interfere with you having a relationship with them? Does their wickedness bother you? It should. It bothers God. God refuses to have a friendship with the wicked. He knows nothing of "friendship evangelism". 1Cor 15:33 "Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character." While Jesus' enemies mischaracterize him saying, "Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!" Mt 11:19b, in fact Jesus was not that way. Rather he says, "You are My friends if you do whatever I command you." John 15:14 So don't claim to have a friendship with God if you're living a sinful lifestyle. "No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him." 1Jn 3:6 The Gospel Series
  4. bcbsr

    Apologetics Rap

    You miss the point. People have strife only if they have a basis for values. Without God there is no basis for values. Indeed no basis for meaning and purpose in life and thus nothing to argue about. The fact that even atheists argue values show that they are behaving as if God exists.
  5. Certainly. a great deal of Christianity almost from its inception has been infected with leaven. Even regarding the church at Jerusalem in which was most of the apostles, the group of the Circumcision operated of which Paul said, "This matter arose because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves." Gal 2:4 To this day such is the case where a great number of churches have corrupted the gospel of grace with leaven.
  6. The Lord God 163 times in the Bible God uses the phrase, "I am the Lord". God is Lord in that He defines our meaning and purpose and gives us written instructions in the Bible. Furthermore being Lord He also judges us with regards to our compliance to His instructions. And being Lord God there is no one of higher authority. God demands our obedience. Jesus said, "Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say?" Lk 6:46 To acknowledge one as Lord is to declare one's intention to comply with their instructions. And thus Jesus said, "Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven." Mt 7:21 Those who claim to believe in the Lord, but don't intend to do what He says, don't actually believe in the Lord. Along these lines many believe in a non-Lord God. They believe in a God who is Creator, but allows them to do whatever they want. He allows them to define their own meaning and purpose in life. And He doesn't speak. The non-Lord God that many believe is an idol. "They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but they cannot see; they have ears, but cannot hear, noses, but they cannot smell; they have hands, but cannot feel, feet, but they cannot walk; nor can they utter a sound with their throats. Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them." Ps 115:5-8 People are often reluctant to believe in the Lord God because they want to define their own meaning and purpose in life and do whatever they want, free from fear of judgment, and come to Him on their own terms. And authorities often reckon the concept of the Lord God a threat to their own authority. Many such people tend to view the grace of God as a license to sin. Such is the case not only in the world, but in the church where heresies are developed to make the Lord God into something more palatable to them. But to do so they have to keep their followers ignorant of the Bible, which is the case in much of the history of post-Biblical Christianity. "For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths." 2Tim 4:3.4 You may believe in "God", but do you believe in the Lord God The Gospel Series
  7. The Parable of The Leaven Matt 13:33; Lk 13:20,21 Luke 13:20,210 Again he said, "To what shall I compare the Kingdom of God? It is like yeast, which a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened." (web) Discussion Questions Why do people add yeast to dough, what effect does it have? Is more bread created? What does the yeast represent? The Dough? The Woman? How could you purge out the yeast? What is the application? Comments This is yet another parable dealing with nominalism in the visible Church, being composed of both false and true believers. "Yeast" or "Leaven" almost always has a negative connotation in the Bible. Jesus said, "Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees" Luke 12:1. And Paul writes: "Your boasting is not good. Don't you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast-- as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth." 1Cor 5:6-8 And he speaks similarly in the book of Galatians warning of the doctrine of the cult of the circumcision saying, "A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough." Gal 5:9 So from these passages we can clearly see the apostle's understanding of Jesus' parable. There are those who think and even preach that Jesus was using a positive connotation. They think that Jesus was saying that He is the yeast that makes the dough rise. But they are mistaken. The woman represents the devil. False teachings and false brethren (Gal 2:4) make for a bloated church full of hot air - a church with a yeast infection. There once was some dough without any leaven Just like the bread that came down from heaven But then a woman added yeast to the dough False teachings and malice made it grow Being bloated with pride and full of hot air So when you see such yeast, beware For sincerity and truth is the bread without yeast And so with such bread let us keep the feast The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources
  8. As I pointed out in John 5:24 Jesus indicates salvation, in terms of ones fate, has been finalized upon coming to faith in Christ. But unbelievers view what Jesus says in much different terms to justify their unbelief. They don't interpret what Jesus says in the Spirit in which he says it.
  9. The Gospel is Essential Is the hearing and believing of the gospel NECESSARY for a person to be save? That is the question I investigate here. Paul asks the rhetorical question in Romans chapter 10:13-17 For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved." How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? (As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!") But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our report?" So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. The fact he asks these things rhetorically indicates there should be no question that this is a fact. For one only uses rhetorical questions when what is stated is not in dispute. Thus it was a well excepted fact that a person could not call on the Lord to be saved or believe in Him without first hearing the gospel. But still this leaves the question as to whether one must believe in the Lord, and thus hear the gospel, to be saved. Or whether hearing and believing the gospel is just one other way to be saved. One example indicating the gospel is essential to salvation is what Paul said in 1Thess 2:14-16 For you, brothers, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own countrymen the same things those churches suffered from the Jews, who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to all men in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last. Here we note that Paul presumed that his preaching was essential for people to be saved. Furthermore even when asked the question, the only option he provides people is belief in the gospel. "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" So they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household." Acts 16:30,31 In fact how did Paul know that this man had not already been saved by some other means if indeed there were any other way to be saved? It is inherently implied throughout the New Testament, such as this example, that belief in the gospel is necessary for salvation. Another example is Cornelius. The angel told him, "Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. He will bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved." Acts 11:13,14 So it was necessary for Cornelius to hear the gospel to be saved. Note who Cornelius was, as an unsaved person: "At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly." Acts 10:1,2 So here's a man whom God claims is unsaved despite the fact that he was God fearing and generous and devout, praying regularly. Yet he was on his way to hell apart from hearing the gospel. So if Cornelius is not saved apart from the gospel, what kind of a person could hypothetically be saved apart from hearing and believing the gospel? The Bible simply doesn't provide an option for people to be saved apart from the faith that comes from hearing the gospel, no matter how "good" a person has been. In His parable of the sower Jesus portrays the seed as the gospel and the sower as the messenger. Of those seed which fell on the path Jesus said, "Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved." Luke 8:12 Here again Jesus implies that apart from believing the gospel a person cannot be saved. In conclusion, "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." Acts 4;12 What are the implications of the hearing of gospel being essential to salvation? The most significant implication is the urgency of propagating the gospel so that everyone may hear, seeing as salvation is only available to those who hear and believe the gospel. "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned." Mr 16:16 Belief in Jesus is necessary for salvation. "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."John 3:18 This being the case a question arises as to why God made salvation contingent upon faith in Christ, and thus contingent upon the preaching, hearing and believing of the gospel message. Justice being satisfied on the cross, why having any further conditions at all? Or if conditional, then why not make the condition equally accessible to all? For not all throughout history have had equal access to the gospel? The Bible doesn't explicitly deal with these questions. Though it does comment that faith was the sole condition so that all, having heard the gospel, may have equal access at that point to qualifying for salvation. But it doesn't deal with the fact that not all have equal access to the gospel, nor why any conditions (i.e. faith) were necessary. Thus answers to those issues are somewhat a matter of conjecture. Such conjectures are much like questions the disciples had about matters of eschatology. They asked Him, saying, "Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" And He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." Acts 1:6,7 The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources
  10. The Parable of The Mustard Seed Matt 13:31,32; Mk 4:30-32; Lk 13:18,19 He said, "What is the Kingdom of God like? To what shall I compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and put in his own garden. It grew, and became a large tree, and the birds of the sky lodged in its branches." (web) Discussion Questions Should we validate movements by their size or popularity? What kinds of dangers do large institutional churches face? What is the tree? Are the birds of the same nature as the tree? What do the birds represent? Comments 1. Size A mustard seed is in the category of the smallest of all seeds in the area. Jesus was most likely referring to the black mustard, which was grown for its production of oil. They may grow up to fifteen feet and have a thick main stem with branches strong enough to bear the weight of a bird. Jesus had elsewhere used the mustard seed in his parables for its small size. Therefore one inference one can make from this parable is that Christianity - the body of Christ - grew from a small size to large. The point being that one should not make too much of the size of a movement to validate it. For there are movements that are popular, but wrong. And there are movements which are unpopular which are correct. Also one of the themes of the Bible is that those who are truly God's people are often described as a "remnant". That is, they compose a minority of those who are nominally considered God's people. The apostle Paul even describes himself that way in Romans 11:1-5. We also notice that the Bible often focuses on individuals - Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, etc. In fact most of the books of the Bible are named after individuals. And God promises his people: 2. Birds This is another parable on nominalism - the fact that the visible Church is mixture of true and nominal Christians. When a movement becomes large and popular and institutionalized, it is inevitable to attract birds which will make nests in its branches. The birds are not part of the tree, but aliens to it. Jesus speaks of birds in the parable of the sower, equating them to the devil who takes away the word which is sown along the path. The birds often nest high in the branches, taking an exalted position in the visible church, yet being foreign to. And there are those who try to build a nest egg from their association with the visible church. Even in his farewell speech speaking to the Ephesian elders, Paul warns: These birds may also represent false ideas being integrated into Christian community. There are churches that think that there is safety in numbers. There isn't. Popular ideas are often contrary to the Biblical truth. And institutional philosophy has resulted in a great deal of corruption in the body of Christ. But this is generally true of any movement which becomes popular and institutionalized. Conclusion Therefore, let's not get too comfortable if Christianity is popular, or if our particular institutional church becomes large. For things which are large and popular are much more subject to birds and their corrupting influence. The kingdom is like a mustard seed Small at first but it did succeed To grow with branches far and wide Onto which birds did abide The visible church started quite small But popular today with buildings quite tall But beware of the birds that nest in its branches who take advantage of the circumstances The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources
  11. Actually it says "For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us" 1John 2:19b Apparently you overlooked that.
  12. Having a "taste" of Christianity is not the same as consuming it.
  13. Those who have been saved, and as such eternally secure, go on to do what is right, not in order to be saved (which would be salvation by works), nor in order to maintain their salvation status (which would be salvation by works), but simply because it's the right thing to do as comes naturally to them due to the regenerate nature. As it is written, "No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother." 1John 3:9,10 Thus behavior is an indicator rather than a cause of salvation. This as opposed to the vain postulations of salvation-by-works Christians who make salvation conditioned up one's performance. I contend that such people don't believe the gospel and so no surprise that they find it unnatural to do what is right and can't conceive of the experience those born of God have where doing what is right comes naturally.
  14. I think OSAS is an essential doctrine implied in the gospel. To reject OSAS is to reject the gospel and opt for salvation by works. You take Jesus' promise "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life." John 5:24 There he indicates salvation, in terms of ones fate, has been finalized upon coming to faith in Christ. Those who don't believe what Jesus said are by definition "unbelievers" regardless of what they call themselves.
  15. Intelligent Design, Science & Religion I recently attended an institutional wide meeting of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in which there was an open discussion of sponsorship of non-scientific talks by SAO. The main concern had to do with lectures which alluded to religious ideas. For being a government institution Smithsonian is not allowed to take official stands in the area of religion. Yet given the controversies we have today with the Intelligent Design vs Evolution, Young Earth Creationism vs the measurement of ages of the the universe, the earth, species and civilization which scientists have derived, it would seem desirable that there would be some public discussion between the two sides. For there seems to be generally a great deal of misunderstanding concerning these issues. For example many scientists are ignorant of the distinction between the Intelligent Design movement and that of Young Earth Creationism. So also many of those movements are ignorant of the facts constituting evolution as well as the facts concerning the issue of the age of things. For decades, long before the intelligent design movement, I've been using and continue to use what today is referred to as Intelligent Design in discussing evidence for God's existence. The Bible also advocates the idea of such evidence being available. "For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities— his eternal power and divine nature— have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." Rom 1:20 The Bible advocates the idea we should be able to infer God's existence from the evidence in nature. The idea is that scientific observations of nature would seem to suggest the existence of God. I found it interesting that at the SAO meeting many of the scientists in expressing their personal opinion were troubled by the idea advocated by the ID community - namely that the scientific evidence "seems to suggest" an intelligent designer. Yet the idea of some fact of science "seeming to suggest" another fact is part of the scientific process. For example SAO is involved in the search for extrasolar life - life outside our solar system. In the process of doing so they're looking for earth-like planets, and in analyzing the light reflected from its sun they're looking for spectra associated with organic processes. For such would "seem to suggest" the presence of life. So I don't see what their problem is with the Intelligent Design position. Intelligent Design in the Classroom? One of the objections to "Intelligent Design" being taught as science is that it purportedly adds nothing to science. In other words for them to infer that "God did it" ends the search for explanation and scientific inquiry. Yet by analogy consider the fact that through scientific means we are searching for extrasolar life - and ultimately even intelligent life. Now what if evidence of such intelligent life is discovered? Should we not teach that fact in the class rooms for fear that it would end all scientific inquiry into the question? And what if an intelligent designed is inferred? It still leaves open the question for scientific inquiry as to how God did it. Or if the religious implications are the concern then just leave the term "God" out of the discussion and speak simply of an intelligent designer and let people infer what they may. Young Earth Creationism But as for Young Earth Creationism, the YEC gang tends to have a much different perspective on science and on this idea of making inferences. The YEC position is much more an argument over the interpretation of Genesis than it is about the interpretation of scientific facts. Science is about what happens. It's inferences deal with what will happen in that it is predictive and what did happen in that it deals with the realm of history. But religion also deals with the realm of history, and in that realm there may be conflicts between science and religion. The facts of history and life inferred from indepth scientific investigations do not "seem to suggest" what is advocated by the YEC position. Much as with the Flat Earth position the YEC position is counter-intuitive to the known facts derived by scientific inquiry. Their only strength is in keeping people ignorant of the facts by misrepresenting and underrepresenting the facts while shielding themselves from skepticism under a cloak of religious zealotry. For more on YEC see http://www.bcbsr.com/topics/yec.html Intelligent Design vs. Evolution While the present movement which refers to itself as "Intelligent Design" or simply ID presents itself as if in conflict with "Evolution", the idea of an intelligent designed being inferred from the facts of nature does not necessarily conflict with evolution per se. It disturbs me that, due to indoctrination, most Christians have misconceptions as to what constitutes "evolution" and the facts of evolution, as if evolution implies atheism. First of all there's a difference between the fact of evolution and the theories as to how evolution occurred. I mention some of the facts of evolution at http://www.bcbsr.com/survey/genint.html#Evolution To bottom-line it the fact is that the evidence "seems to suggest" a common biological line of descent not only within species but between species. In other words if one were to study the scientific data objectively, one would would be led to infer the evolutionary theory of common origin. While many may argue that such a theory conflicts with the Bible, such arguments are not really about the facts of science but about interpretations of the Bible. As ID claims their arguments not to be based on what the Bible says, but rather upon inferences of science, they cannot argue against the theory of common origin other than in the realm of science. And why should they? There's nothing inherent in the idea of common origin contrary to intelligent design per se. In fact, is there any conflict between evolution and intelligent design to speak of? Not unless you make presumptions about the manner in which God chose to do things. At this point concerning the fact of evolution, science can only tell us that the evidence points to a series of events which led to life as we know it presently. It doesn't really say that such events were likely or unlikely or even the precise nature of those events. Evolutionary science does not take a stand as to whether God did it or did not do it. It only presents the facts. Were such events directed by God? I can only sit back and infer that given the results, the process was a series of unlikely - God-directed - events which led to life as we know it. Thus we can infer an intelligent designer. But such events are often associated with the word "chance". For whether its the issue of mutation or due to environmental cirucmstances one individual's DNA propagating to the next generation or not, "chance" is involved. It disturbs me when well-meaning Christians seem to think that "chance" is contrary to God's working as if "chance" were another God. Don't such Christians believe that God is involved in the outcome of such events? The God of the Bible is not one who just sits back and watches his creation as one watches a TV. God of the Bible is intimately involved in the outcomes of all things. Even toss a coin. Is the outcome a working of God? It certainly is. "The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD."Pr 16:33 Thus rather than a conflict, evolution may simply be a description of what the Intelligent Designer (God) did. But as for those who would argue that God didn't do it that way because an intelligent designed wouldn't do it that way, one is simply saying that the scientific evidence does not point to an intelligent designer. Furthermore the Bible shows that often even the godly underestimate God's workings, like Job 38:4+ the Lord says to Job, "Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand .... Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth? Tell me, if you know all this. What is the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside? Can you take them to their places? Do you know the paths to their dwellings? Surely you know, for you were already born! You have lived so many years!" It seems God is often bigger than many make Him out to be. Faith & Likelihood Now as I said science and religion - or the Bible in particular - may clash in the realm of history. Yet there is not necessarily a conflict between the two. For why should there be? The God of the Bible, the God of History, is also the God of science, as He is also the God of Chance events - and God of everything else as well. But while we may not be able to prove God's existence apart from faith, realize that intuition is part of what constitutes faith. The idea of something "seeming to suggest" another is part of the activity of faith. Such activities of faith we find not only in the realm of religion but even of science and history, though they may not refer to such as religious faith. But in all cases we would hope such faith not to be overly presumptuous, but rather have a firm basis in fact. Of the religious faiths, Biblical faith is arguably the most well founded. Getting back to the ID idea, what really leads us to conclude an intelligent designer is the issue of likelihood. But while it may be intuitively obvious, the unlikelihood for life occurring apart from intelligent intervention is very difficult to calculate in a mathematical sense. Furthermore consider stochastic events (those characterized by a probability curve) such as the tossing of a coin. While one could claim the probability curve is predictable, one can say nothing of the outcome of individual events. (That's how God really screws up gamblers) Thus one can never really disprove divine intervention into such events. Conclusion Given the present controversies it would be best if all parties were better informed on all these subjects For as Paul writes on a related issue, "They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm." 1Tim 1:7 The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources
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