Friday, July 27, 2007

Is It Okay For Christians To Vote?

Thanks for the question Paige B.

This question can bring up some very strong political feelings, so rather than cover the political aspects of this question, we'll stick to the Christian principles. And to extend the question beyond just voting, let's also consider the question of running for political office.

Some Christians feel that there are specific lines that should not be crossed, specifically Christianity crossing into politics. However, no area of life should be regarded as secular, that is, divorced from God. The government is not a secular island that is free from the claims of Christ. Governments as well as all other institutions in the world are responsible to God. Some Christians believe that to be pure in spirit they must withdraw into their "private world," free of any political or social involvement.

What does God's Holy Bible teach us about being involved politically and socially? There are five* Biblical principles that clearly teach that a faithful Christian must be involved.

1) Rule the Earth for the Glory of God
"God blessed them and said to them, 'Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."
Genesis 1:28

This mandate extends to all functions of government.

2) God Demands an Accounting
"And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man. 'Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man.'"
Genesis 9:5-6

This accounting is the beginning of a capital punishment system put in place to curb the violence. From this establishment, all other powers of government flow.

3) Godly Rulers Reigned and Prophets Warned the Government/Nation to Repent
Most every Old Testament saint was politically involved in the government. Moses was raised in Pharaoh's palace. Joseph, son of Jacob (Israel), became second in command behind Pharaoh. King Saul was continuously warned by Samuel about his unrighteous deeds. David was a King after God's own heart. Daniel counseled Nebuchadnezzar and interpreted two of his dreams. There are many examples in the Bible of Godly rulers and prophets that influenced political leaders.

4) Jesus Did Not Demand Men to Leave Military and Political Activity
"Tax collectors also came to be baptized. 'Teacher,' they asked, 'what should we do?' 'Don't collect any more than you are required to,' he told them. Then some soldiers asked him, 'And what should we do?' He replied, 'Don't extort money and don't accuse people falsely -- be content with your pay.'"
Luke 3:12-14

While these activities are necessary, those in charge of the activities should conduct themselves in a just and righteous manner. Be honest!

5) Governments are Established by God
"Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. . . ."
Romans 13:1-7

Based on the above passage, we conclude that government cannot be considered inherently evil since God has established them. We should consider voting and/or political involvement as required service to God. In the United States, we have been enabled to control and direct our nation through the ballot and/or running for political office. We should do all we can to have our nation ruled by Christian principles.

A final note to consider is that if every American were a Christian, we would have no choice but to have Christians involved in every aspect of the political spectrum, from city and county governments, state governments, federal governments, and even international governmental bodies such as the United Nations. Otherwise, our system would fall apart. With the majority of Americans identifying themselves as Christians, being silent is really not an option.

* Ideas from Dr. James Kennedy's The Gates of Hell Shall Not Prevail.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

What Are Some of the Old Testament Prophecies That Jesus Fulfilled?

Jesus lived on this earth from about 4 B.C. until about 30 A.D. according to most Biblical scholars. The Gospel of Jesus as recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John as well as the rest of the New Testament were all written in the first century A.D. This timeframe is important because the Old Testament Prophets scribed the prophecies hundreds of years before the events. They could not have predicted all the events about Jesus to any degree of certainty unless they were speaking God's Words about God Himself in the flesh (Jesus). Only God knows the future, and He is never wrong. The odds of Jesus not being God's Messiah are billions upon billions to one (statistically proves Jesus was the Messiah). The last statistic I read was 10 to the 57th power (that's 1 with 57 zeros). No other religion in the world has one verifiable, believable prophecy. Praise God, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus, the Son of the Living God!
Here is a partial listing of fulfilled prophecies of Jesus, the only begotten Son of God. I pray the following 20 prophesies will help you realize the Bible holds the perfect truth of God's Word. The italicized references are not quoted, but supplied for further evidence. Some of the quotes shown are incomplete for brevity purposes here; however, the full quotes are in context. OT = Old Testament, NT = New Testament.
1) Messiah Was to be Born of a Virgin and Called Immanuel (God With Us)
"Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel."
OT: Isaiah 7:14 (750 B.C.)
"This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, 'Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save this people from their sins.' All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 'The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel' -- which means, 'God with us.' When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus."
NT: Matthew 1:18-25, Luke 1:26-38
2) Messiah Was to be Born in Bethlehem
"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times."
OT: Micah 5:2 (432 B.C.)
"After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea . . . ."
NT: Matthew 2:1-6, Luke 2:1-20
3) Messiah Was to be a Prophet Like Moses
"The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me [Moses] from among your own brothers. You must listen to him."
OT: Deuteronomy 18:15,18,19 (1402 B.C.)
"On hearing his [Jesus'] words, some of the people said, 'Surely this man is the Prophet.' Others said, 'He is the Christ.'"
NT: John 7:40-41, Acts 3:22, 7:37
4) Messiah Was to Enter Jerusalem in Triumph
"Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king come to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey."
OT: Zechariah 9:9 (520 B.C.)
". . . the great crowd . . . heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him shouting, 'Hosanna! Blessed if he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the King of Israel!' Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written . . . ."
NT: Matthew 21:1-9, John 12:12-16
5) Messiah Was to be Rejected By His Own People
"He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not."
OT: Isaiah 53:1,3 (750 B.C.), Psalm 118:22 (965 B.C.)
"Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they plotted to arrest Jesus in some sly way and kill him."
NT: Matthew 26:3-4, John 12:37-43, Acts 4:1-12
6) Messiah Was to be Betrayed By One of His Followers
"Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me."
OT: Psalm 41:9 (965 B.C.)
"Then one of the Twelve -- the one called Judas Iscariot -- went to the chief priests and asked, 'What are you willing to give me if I hand him [Jesus] over to you?' So they counted out for him thirty silver coins. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over."
NT: Matthew 26:14-16, 47-50, Luke 22:19-23
7) Messiah Was to be Tried and Condemned
"By oppression and judgment he was taken away, And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken."
OT: Isaiah 53:8 (750 B.C.)
"Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people came to the decision to put Jesus to death. They bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate, the governor."
NT: Matthew 27:1-2, Luke 23:1-25
8) Messiah Was to be Silent Before His Accusers
"He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth."
OT: Isaiah 53:7 (750 B.C.)
"When he [Jesus] was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. Then Pilate asked him, 'Don't you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?' But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge -- to the great amazement of the governor."
NT: Matthew 27:12-14, Mark 15:3-4, Luke 23:8-10
9) Messiah Was to be Struck and Spat on By His Enemies
"I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting."
OT: Isaiah 50:6 (750 B.C.)
"Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him and said, 'Prophesy to us, Christ. Who hit you?'"
NT: Matthew 26:67, 27:30, Mark 14:65
10) Messiah Was to be Mocked and Insulted
"All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads."
OT: Psalm 22:7, 109:25 (965 B.C.)
"Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads . . . ."
NT: Matthew 27:39-44, Luke 23:11,35
11) Messiah Was to Die By Crucifixion
"Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me."
OT: Psalm 22:14,16-17 (965 B.C.)
"And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him."
"It was the third hour when they crucified him."
NT: Matthew 27:33, Mark 15:20,25
12) Messiah Was to Suffer With Criminals and Pray For His Enemies
"Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors."
OT: Isaiah 53:12 (750 B.C.)
"Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the placed called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals -- one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.' And they divided up his clothes by casting lots."
NT: Matthew 27:38, Mark 15:27-28, Luke 23:32-34
13) Messiah Was to be Given Vinegar and Gall
"They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst."
OT: Psalm 69:21 (965 B.C.)
"There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it."
"Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, 'I am thirsty.' A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus' lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, 'It is finished.' With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit."
NT: Matthew 27:34, John 19:28-30
14) Others Were to Cast Lots For Messiah's Clothes
"They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing."
OT: Psalm 22:18 (965 B.C.)
"When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots."
NT: Matthew 27:35, John 19:23-24
15) Messiah's Bones Were Not to be Broken
"He protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken."
OT: Psalm 34:20 (965 B.C.)
"The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs."
NT: John 19:32-33
16) Messiah Was to be Pierced
". . . They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child."
OT: Zechariah 12:10 (520 B.C.)
"Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water."
NT: John 19:34,37
17) Messiah Was to Die As a Sacrifice For Sin
"We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all."
OT: Isaiah 53:6,8,10-12 (750 B.C.)
"The next day John [the Baptist] saw Jesus coming toward him and said, 'Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!'"
NT: John 1:29,11:49-52, Acts 10:43,13:38-39
18) Darkness Over the Land
"'In that day,' declared the Sovereign LORD, 'I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight.'"
OT: Amos 8:9 (765 B.C.)
"From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over the land."
NT: Matthew 27:45
19) Messiah Was to be Raised From the Dead
"Because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay."
OT: Psalm 16:10 (965 B.C.)
". . . This man [Jesus] was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. . . ."
NT: Matthew 28:1-10, Acts 2:22-32
20) Messiah Is Now at God's Right Hand
"The LORD says to my Lord: 'Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.'"
OT: Psalm 110:1 (965 B.C.)
"After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God."
NT: Mark 16:19, Luke 24:50-51

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Is Muhammad of Islam Like Jesus of Christianity?

Muslims claim Muhammad is a prophet. Christians claim Jesus Christ is the Son of God, God's Messiah, and the only way to heaven.
Salvation In No One Else
Speaking of Jesus, Luke states, "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
Christians do not recognize Muhammad. Muslims acknowledge Jesus as a good teacher.
The following link provides a great comparison between Muhammad and Jesus.
As shown in the link above, there really is no comparison between Jesus and Muhammad.
Eternal Life Only Possible Because of Jesus
"For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect."
1 Peter 1:18-19
Confess Jesus And Believe
"That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him for the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved."
Romans 10:9-10
Put your faith in Jesus Christ today!

Friday, July 20, 2007

What Should I Look For in a Church?

My pastor put together this great outline for finding a church home. I hope you find it helpful.

Non-negotiable: Some traits you will look for are optional, but here are a few that aren't.

(1) Biblically-based. This is a must. A church can do a lot of things right, but if she doesn't stand on the Word of God, the other 'right' things pale in comparison. Does the church teach the Bible and practice it? Is the Bible the final authority?

(2) Loving/Friendly. A church that has the love of God in them will be friendly. Most churches think they are friendly. They usually are friendly to one another but what about toward the first-time guest? Jesus gave us the Great Commandment - we are to love one another as He has loved us.

(3) Evangelistic. The Great Commission is our Commander's marching orders to us. In order for a church to be obedient in the key areas, she must begin here.

(4) Full of Grace and Truth. The perfect Lord demonstrated the perfect balance between Grace and Truth (see John 1:14). If we lean too far toward grace at the expense of truth, the result is liberalism - anything and everything goes (thus the state of our Nation). If we lean too far toward truth at the expense of grace, the result is legalism - rules and regulations dominate everything. We must avoid the extremes. By the way, if you are looking for the perfect church, it does not exist. You may have additional "non-negotiable" traits, but this is my 'short' list.

Negotiable. If a church meets all the essentials, then you have a green light for some important personal concerns. That might include the style of music, the quality of the senior adult ministry or the student ministry, the preschool security, the educational ministry. Our stage of life often determines our personal concerns.

Begin with the essentials and then move on to the non-essentials. If a church doesn't pass the first test, move on. I'm confident that if you will depend on the guidance of the Holy Spirit, He will lead you to a church. I'm also convinced that God calls people to a church. You need to find the place that He has chosen for you to 'fit'.

There are many great churches around. If you are currently looking for a church, ask the Lord for wisdom and He will guide you.

Why Should I Be a Member of a Church?

Many people today question whether church membership is of any value. I have heard people even declare that "I can be a Christian without being a member of a church." This position is growing and even becoming common among believers. Statistics show that less than 20% of American adults believe participation in a congregation is critical to spiritual growth. Moreover, 81% of Americans say they can arrive at their own religious views without regard to a body of believers. With the various broadcasts and web casts providing Biblical teaching, such as Joel Osteen, the Trinity Network, the 700 Club, and others, many believers feel that they get fed by simply watching the show. While these wonderful broadcasts and web casts might offer some supplemental food of nourishment for the spirit, let's explore what God's Holy Bible reveals about the role of the church and its importance.
The purpose of the Church is as follows:
1) Reach the Lost
2) Teach and Equip the Saved
3) Glorify Jesus Christ in all we do!
The Church Is Born-Again People
Paul states, "Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house."
Colossians 4:15
Paul states, "To Apphia our sister, to Archippus our fellow solder and to the church that meets in your home."
Philemon 1:2
"Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons."
Philippians 1:1
The Church Is the Body of Christ
"Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's affliction, for the sake of his body, which is the church."
Colossians 1:24
Jesus Appoints Officers in the Church
"And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues."
1 Corinthians 12:28
Jesus Builds the Church
Jesus states, "And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it."
Matthew 16:18
Jesus Communicates With the Church
"After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea."
Colossians 4:6
Jesus Commissioned the Church
"Then Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.'"
Matthew 28:18-20
Jesus Glorifies God Through the Church
"To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."
Ephesians 3:21
Jesus Heads the Church
"And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy."
Colossians 1:18
Jesus Loves the Church
"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her."
Ephesians 5:25
Jesus Purchased the Church
"Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood."
Acts 20:28
Jesus Will Return For the Church
"For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air."
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
Jesus Reveals Himself Through the Church
"His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms."
Ephesians 3:10
Jesus Views an Attack on the Church As an Attack on Him
Saul/Paul stated, "I too was convinced that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth."
"We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, 'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.'"
Acts 26:9,14
The Church Is the Pillar And Support of the Truth
"If I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God's household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth."
1 Timothy 3:15
It's also imperative to join a small group bible study, such as a Sunday School class. With the smaller group, you will find that you can learn the Bible more intimately, interact and exchange ideas, question the lessons or teachings to get truthful answers, pray for each other, and meet physical needs of others who might be struggling. These small groups can also meet your needs if you have issues. Small group studies also help to encourage one another to do good deeds.
Motivate One Another to Do Good Deeds
"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds."
Hebrews 10:24
Also, if you do not belong to a church, you are not afforded the opportunity to tithe, that is to give 10% of your gross income. Any other charity you might give to should be secondary to your church tithe.
Don't Rob God
"'Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,' says the LORD Almighty. But you ask, 'How are we to return?' Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, 'How do we rob you?' In tithes and offerings."
Malachi 3:7-8
Give a Tenth
"'And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.' Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything."
Genesis 14:20
Set Aside a Tenth
"Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year." {Today's version, 10% of your gross income.}
Deuteronomy 14:22
Please don't remain an island. Find a local church today and fellowship with your Christian brethren. You need to continue to grow and be nurtured, as well as share your testimony with others.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

What Is the Difference Between Hades and Hell?

There are those that believe there is no Hell. Some believe that there is a mental Hell, but not a real Hell. Others believe that Hell is real, and that the Devil himself is enjoying the blaze and sticking people with his pitchfork. Some people believe that Hades and Hell are synonymous and can be used interchangeably. Let's look at how God's Holy Bible answers this question.
Unbelievers Are Called "The Dead"
"Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books."
Revelation 20:11-12
Believers will not be at the Great White Throne judgment. Believers will be at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
The Judgment Seat of Christ
"For we [believers] must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad."
2 Corinthians 5:10
The Judgment Seat of Christ will be like a rewards banquet. The word "bad" as used in the above passage really means "worthless" because the believers' sins were already washed away by the blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Entry into heaven has already been sealed. There are no losers at the Judgment Seat of Christ, only winners. Each believer will be given rewards and/or crowns in accordance with the good deeds done while in the body.
Hades Gave Up The Dead
"The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them; and each person was judged according to what he had done."
Revelation 20:13
Hades is clearly a temporary residence for unbelievers. At the Great White Throne judgment, all unbelievers will be lifted from Hades and judged according to their deeds.
Death And Hades Thrown Into Hell
"Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire [Hell]. The lake of fire [Hell] is the second death. If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire [Hell]."
Revelation 20:14-15
Hades has to be different than Hell in order for Hades to be "thrown into the lake of fire [Hell]." While Hades is the temporary storage for unbelievers, Hell is the final destination.
Hell Is A Real Place
"But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell."
Matthew 5:22
Hell Is Eternal
"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.'"
Matthew 25:41
Even some Christians have a hard time understanding how such a loving God could throw unbelievers into an eternal fire. The formula is very simplistic.
God Is Just
"Because judgment without mercy will be shown . . . ."
James 2:13
Man Is Sinful
"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
Romans 3:23
God Is Love And Gave His Only Son
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
John 3:16
Christ Died For Our Sins
"That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures . . . ."
1 Corinthians 15:3-4
God's plan is for us to repent and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. God restored the relationship with man by becoming a man (in Jesus) and being the perfect blood sacrifice for sin. It was the only way that the righteous God could save us and still be just. He created the fire of Hell for the devil and his angels. So you are either righteous (through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ) and belong to God, or you are still stained with your sin and belong to the devil. Sin is not allowed in heaven.
Hades is the temporary holding area for unbelievers that have died. All unbelievers will be called to judgment before the Great White Throne. Each unbeliever will have to account for his/her deeds to see if they are good enough for entry into heaven. Sadly, no one will achieve God's perfect standard for entry into heaven. Each unbeliever will be thrown into Hell.
Please repent and accept Jesus today. Your eternity will depend on whether you accept God's free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. He is the only way. Amen!
Jesus Is The Answer
"Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'"
John 14:6

Monday, July 16, 2007

Why Should I Only Use the Holy Bible As God's Word?

I had a discussion online with a lady recently that claimed that she had faith, but felt that the Bible is overused. She clearly felt that other sources should be considered. When I pressed for these other sources, she mentioned that life's experiences were a good teacher. While life's experiences can be a good teacher, none of us has the exact same life experiences; therefore, we will not always come to the same conclusion using life's experiences as our guide. We have to plant our faith on the Rock of the Holy Bible. If there is ever a question, we should always seek God's Word.
Scripture Is God-Breathed
"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correction and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."
2 Timothy 3:16-17
The above verses say that ALL Scripture is God-breathed. So who are we to pick apart the Word of God? All means all.
Furthermore, we are not to add anything to the Scriptures.
Do Not Add Anything Nor Take Anything Away
"I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book."
Revelation 22:18-19
I beseech you to accept the Word of God for what it is. If God's Word declares a certain behavior sin, then accept it as sin. We humans tend to rationalize (rational lies) our particular situation as if somehow we are exempt and do not have to follow God's Word. God's Word is authoritative and final.
Jesus Is Coming Soon
"He who testifies to these things says, 'Yes, I am coming soon.' Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God's people. Amen."
Revelation 22:20-21
Be ready when the trumpet calls. May God Bless you.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

What Happened Between the Time of Malachi and the New Testament?

Almost 500 years exist between the time of the recorded book of the prophet Malachi (432 B.C., the last book of the Old Testament) and the first recorded book of the New Testament, which is the book of James (A.D. 49). The periods from Malachi to Christ are as follows:

The Persian Period (450-330 B.C.)
For about 200 years, after Nehemiah's time the Persians controlled Judah, but the Jews were allowed to carry on their religious observances and were not interfered with. During this time, Judah was ruled by high priests who were responsible to the Jewish government.

The Hellenistic Period (330-166 B.C.)
In 333 B.C. the Persian armies stationed in Macedonia were defeated by Alexander the Great. He was convinced that Greek culture was the one force that could unify the world. Alexander permitted the Jews to observe their laws and even granted them exemption from tribute or tax during their Sabbath years. The Greek conquest prepared the way for the translation of the Old Testament into Greek (Septuagint version) in 250 B.C.

The Hasmonean Period (166-63 B.C.)
When this historical period began, the Jews were being greatly oppressed. The Ptolemies had been tolerant of the Jews and their religious practices but the Seleucid rulers were determined to force Hellenism on them. Copies of the Scriptures were ordered destroyed and laws were enforced with extreme cruelty. The oppressed Jews revolted, led by Judas the Maccabee.

The Roman Period (63 B.C. through Christ's life)
In the year 63 B.C. Pompey, the Roman general, captured Jerusalem, and the provinces of Palestine became subject to Rome. The local government was entrusted part of the time to princes and the rest of the time to procurators who were appointed by the emperors. Herod the Great was ruler of all Palestine at the time of Christ's birth.

Why Is Mary So Revered in the Roman Catholic Church?

There are three Mary's that are described in the Bible.

Mary Magdalene = Follower of Jesus. First to see Jesus after His resurrection. Jesus drove 7 demons out of her according to Mark 16:9.

Mary, Lazarus' Sister = Typically known alongside her sister Martha, Mary knew when to listen. She poured perfume on Jesus' body according to Matthew 26:12-13.

Mary, Mother of Jesus = This Mary is the Mother of Jesus, and she is the Mary revered in the Roman Catholic Church.

In a recent conversation with a troubled Catholic, I found myself challenged when attempting to understand how she felt that "Mary had been watching over her." I asked her if she had a Bible reference to describe this ability of Mary to watch over her. She did not. Anytime something "new" comes to you in the form of doctrine, always ask for a Biblical reference. If there is no Biblical reference, you should treat the information as suspect until you can confirm or deny it according to the Word of God. Of course, Mary did play a very important part of God's plan of salvation. But she was a mere mortal, like you and me. God used her as His vessel. She was blessed among women for being chosen to birth the Savior of mankind into the world. As Elizabeth stated to Mary:

Blessed Among Women
"In a loud voice she [Elizabeth] exclaimed: 'Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear.'"
Luke 1:42

Please see this link to learn the many ways that Roman Catholics revere Mary:

I would challenge you to allow God to use you as His vessel. Ask God to fill you with His Holy Spirit and live in you. You will be amazed at the transformation in your life. Jesus Christ was born of Mary. He was God in the flesh and was crucified and died a horrible death for your salvation. Put your trust in Him today.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Why Does the Christian Church Seem To Be Split Over Homosexuality?

There is an enormous effort underway in the media to create an image of homosexuality as merely an alternate lifestyle. Homosexuality is portrayed as a perfectly normal and natural expression of human sexuality. People who view homosexuality as abnormal/sinful are portrayed as being homophobic or extremists of some sort.
God's Holy Bible explicitly condemns and prohibits homosexuality. Let's review God's Word as presented in His Holy Scriptures.
Do Not Defile Yourselves
"Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable . . . Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways . . . ."
Leviticus 18:22,24
Homosexuality Is Detestable
"If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable."
Leviticus 20:13
God Destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah
"Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom -- both young and old -- surrounded the house. They called to Lot, 'Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.' . . . Then the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah -- from the LORD out of the heavens. Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, including all those living in the cities -- and also the vegetation in the land."
Genesis 19:4-5,24-25
God Gave Them Over To Shameful Lusts
"Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator -- who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion."
Romans 1:24-27
Marriage Is Between a Man And a Woman
"Now for the matter you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry. But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband."
1 Corinthians 7:1-2
All human beings are born with a sinful nature that results in sinful thoughts, words, and deeds. Homosexuality is but one of the many sins that humans can commit. From the moment we are born, all human beings stand under God's perfect judgment. All of us, by nature, are lost and condemned sinners.
Man Is Sinful
"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
Romans 3:23
We all need God's mercy in Christ for our salvation.
If you are in a homosexual relationship today, you must first acknowledge homosexuality as sin. Do not go on arguing that it's not sin. It is.
As a matter of fact, any sexual activity outside of marriage is sinful.
Marriage Should Be Honored
"Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral."
Hebrews 13:4
Jesus Extends the Definition of Adultery
Jesus said, "But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart."
Matthew 5:28
After you have acknowledged homosexuality as sin, repent of your sin (repent means to change direction). Ask God to forgive you.
"But unless you repent, you too will all perish."
Luke 13:3
End your homosexual relationship immediately (part of repentance). Do not wait one more minute. Turn away from the sin and those chains that bind you. God loves you and cares about you so much that He gave Jesus, His only Son, to die on the cross for your sins. All you have to do is repent, and ask Jesus to come into your heart.
Confess Jesus and Believe
"That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."
Romans 10:9
The True Christian Church is not split over homosexuality. Satan is crafty is his attempts to destroy the Church from the outside via persecution but also from the inside via corruption, confusion, and distortion. Remember that 99% truth is still a lie. Because some members and even entire churches have deemed homosexuality an acceptable lifestyle and not sin does not make it so to God. If there is ever a dispute over God's Word and a preacher's word, you should ALWAYS let God's Word be your final authority. I would challenge you to look at any other profession. There are always a few "bad apples" that will cause problems for the vast majority of honest workers. The same is true for the Church.
If you need prayer in any situation, please feel free to email me.

Friday, July 6, 2007

How Can I Get To Heaven?

I dearly love my brethren of various "religious" faiths: Scientologists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Christian Scientists, Hindus, Muslims, Jews, Mormons, New Age followers, Buddhists, and many others. My intent here is to describe these various religions and how Christianity differs. I respect each individual regardless of religious stance and will continue to love unbelievers regardless of religious preference. However, I challenge these unbelievers to read this information with open minds and hearts. So let's get started.

Religion literally means for man to "reconnect to the divine." So each of these aforementioned non-Christian religions has a set of tasks that must be performed to achieve entrance into heaven (or other stage of being).

Scientologists must work with an "auditor" on his/her hang-ups to achieve a state of "clear." Then progress can be made up the "bridge to total freedom." Salvation to a Scientologist is freedom from reincarnation.

Jehovah's Witnesses must be baptized as a Jehovah's Witness. Eternal life must be earned by walking door-to-door recruiting. However, the number admitted to heaven is limited to 144,000.

Christian Scientists believe humanity is already eternally saved, and that sin, evil, sickness, and death are not real. The expression "mind over matter" comes to mind.

Hindus must be released from the cycle of reincarnation. Yoga and meditation help achieve this release; however, some people take many lifetimes to accomplish this release. Final salvation is the unification with Brahman.

Muslims believe people are basically good, but are fallible and need guidance. Eternal destiny of heaven or hell are determined by balancing good and bad deeds. God's mercy might play into the ultimate destiny, but the final destination is arbitrary and uncertain.

Jews. Praise God for the Jewish people. Jesus was a Jew, descendant of King David. Some Jews believe that prayer, repentance, and obeying the Law are necessary for salvation. Other Jews believe that salvation is the improvement of society. Messianic Jews are Christians that practice Jewish customs and are Christian believers. References to Jews in this discussion do not include Messianic Jews.

Mormons are resurrected by grace, but exalted to godhood by works. Eternal life is not possible without Mormon membership.

New Age followers need to offset bad karma with good karma. Meditation and self-awareness can help tap into supernatural power.

Buddhists' goal in life is the state of nirvana, achieved by eliminating all desires and cravings.

Each of the above systems are "works systems." Christianity is a "faith system." Christianity is actually an Anti-Religion, meaning that man cannot reconnect to the divine, but God reconnected with us through the blood of His only Son Jesus Christ. In the works systems mentioned above, each were founded by one person (with the exception of the Jewish faith, which includes Books of the Old Testament). No scripture ever prophesied that these people were coming onto the scene. Their graves are occupied today. They will never come back to earth.

Jesus was foretold by the prophets. Every Old Testament prophecy about Jesus' birth, life, death, and resurrection came true. The odds of Jesus not being God's Messiah are billions upon billions to one (statistically proves Jesus was the Messiah). The last statistic I read was 10 to the 57th power (that's 1 with 57 zeros). No other religion in the world has one verifiable, believable prophecy. The reason is that man does not know the future. God spoke the prophecies through the prophets. Only He knows the future and is why the prophecies have come true.

Some of the Christian beliefs are as follows:

Man Is Spiritually Sick
"Why should you be beaten anymore? Why do you persist in rebellion? Your whole head is injured, your whole heart afflicted. From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness -- only wounds and welts and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with oil."
Isaiah 1:5-6

None Are Righteous
"As it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God."
Romans 3:10-11

Man Is Sinful
"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
Romans 3:23

Eternal Life Only Possible Because of Jesus
"For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect."
1 Peter 1:18-19

Christ Died For Us
"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
Romans 5:8

Salvation In No One Else
Speaking of Jesus, Luke states, "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

Confess Jesus And Believe
"That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him for the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved."
Romans 10:9-10

God cannot allow sin into heaven. This means that if you have ever committed the slightest of sins, you will be disqualified from entering heaven. As stated in Romans 3:23, we have all sinned. Satan, the devil, is accusing you day and night to God the Father of your sins.

". . . For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before God day and night . . . ."
Revelation 12:10

You will have to make a plea to God for your sins. There is no such thing as a not guilty plea. You are either guilty or innocent. For those unbelievers, you will be found guilty even if you attempt to plea innocent because the books of your life will be opened for all to see. Your life events cannot be denied and when you are found guilty, you will be cast away from God forever. Believers will plea innocent by the Blood of Jesus Christ, and that my friends will be the only way to enter heaven.

Repent and ask Jesus to be your personal Savior and Redeemer today. While you have the breath of life in you, there is still time to accept Jesus Christ, who is your only ticket to heaven. I pray you make the choice of life. We are not guaranteed another second on this earth. After you breathe your last breath, your time is up.