Friday, December 31, 2010

Weird and Holy

Friday, December 24, 2010

Mary and the Grace of God

December 24, 2010
 
"And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God." (Luke 1:30)
 
This announcement by the angel Gabriel to the virgin Mary, that she had been chosen as the mother of the coming Savior, contains the first mention in the New Testament of the Greek word for grace (charis). Mary was chosen, not for anything she had done, but because she had "found grace."
 
In a remarkable parallel, certainly implying divine inspiration, the first mention of "grace" in the Old Testament is also associated with the coming of a new dispensation in God's dealings with men. "But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD" (Genesis 6:8).
 
Just as Mary found grace, so Noah had found grace. Grace is not something one earns or purchases; grace is a treasure that is found! When a person--whether Noah or Mary or someone today--finally realizes that salvation is only by the grace of God, received through faith in the saving work of Christ, he or she has made the greatest discovery that could ever be made, for it brings eternal life.
 
But there is an even greater dimension to the grace of God. When we do "find" grace, it is actually because God in His infinitely precious grace has found us and revealed to us the Savior of our souls. Just as God found Moses in the desert and found Paul on the road to Damascus, then saved and called them to His service, so He finds us, and then we also find His saving grace.
 
Mary's discovery of God's grace in salvation, through the coming of the "seed of the woman" into the world, is revealed in her Magnificat: "My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour" (Luke 1:46-47). This could well have also been the testimony of Noah long ago, and it surely should be the testimony of each of us who has found grace today.

HT: icr.org

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Author: Most Evangelicals Believe Good People are Heaven-Bound

The majority of Protestants and evangelicals believe that good people and people of other religions can go to heaven, according to author David Campbell.

Campbell, who co-wrote American Grace, How Religion Divides and Unites Us, contends that surveys of 3,000 Americans, used to write the book, show that American people of faith, though devout, are very tolerant. So much so that most believers also believe that good people, despite their religious affiliation, can go to heaven.

Among the faiths, 83 percent of evangelical Protestants agreed that good people of other religions can go to heaven. Ninety percent of black Protestants also believe good people can go to heaven.

When prodded further, more than half – 54 percent – of evangelical Protestants said yes, people of religions other than Christianity can go to heaven. Sixty-two percent of black Protestants agreed with the statement.
Notably, the author mentioned that there may be some in the evangelical category that don't belong.

Campbell, an expert of religion, politics and public policy, explained at a Thursday discussion of his book that the numbers can be explained with the “Aunt Susan” theory. Aunt Susan, he said, is the nice family member who is well-loved and is an all around do-gooder.

“You know that if anyone is destined to go to heaven, it’s Aunt Susan,” described Campbell.
However, Aunt Susan is of another religion. Rather than condemn that person to a lost eternity, Campbell said, most American believers choose instead to believe that that person is heaven-bound.

He also shared that knowing an Aunt Susan opens believers up to other faiths.

“You become warmer not only to people of that group, but to people of other groups,” Campbell contended.
Simply put, interlocking social networks allows believers to accept tenants of other faiths.

Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, works with leaders of many faiths on issues such as stopping pornography, abortion and religious persecution.
“That doesn’t mean that I’m going to abandon the New Testament teaching,” he stated.

Those who do so to accommodate other beliefs “aren’t very good evangelicals,” in his view.

Land lamented that more evangelicals are being taught the doctrine of universalism. “It’s emphasized from the pulpit; it’s emphasized in the seminaries,” he decried.

Universalism is the theological doctrine that all people will eventually be saved despite a relationship with Christ.

He said this is especially true of youths because the messages from the pulpit have changed.
“I think the doctrine ‘In Christ alone’ … was emphasized more 25 years ago than it is today so young [people] are hearing about it less,” he revealed.

While Land said it is possible for Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans and even Catholics to follow the tenants of their faiths and have salvation in Jesus Christ, he stated that the same is not true for Buddhists, Muslims and Mormons.

“It is impossible to believe what Mormons believe and be a Christian. It is impossible to believe what Muslims believe and be a Christian,” he said.

Likewise, he acknowledged that there may be unsaved believers among Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans and Catholics. Salvation, the biblical requirement for heaven, is an individual and personal choice, he told The Christian Post.

Land said he quotes the Bible’s New Testament which states that there is one mediator between God and men and that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life to all those who ask about heaven. If missionary work and evangelism is to continue on into the future, other Protestants must do the same, he asserted.

“If the price of respecting your faith is to deny mine, then that price is too high,” declared Land.

Campbell’s discussion was held at the Pew Forum in Washington, D.C.

HT: The Christian Post

Monday, December 20, 2010

Theology Matters

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Is Faith the Gift of God? What Does Jesus Say?

I found this article and thought it would be a good response to a post by Jeremy Jernigan at his blog.  Too much talk over there about how much our personalities determine our faith in God. It's concerning that the subject of God's will and sovereignty never came up. This question has always been a controversial one, yet this is puzzling considering how plainly the answer to this question is granted to us in the Holy Scriptures. Some modern Evangelicals seem to think that faith is something that arises out of the fallen natures of some persons but not others ... and that this difference in response is not due to grace (for all had grace), but rather, some inherent difference in the persons themselves. But Jesus puts this kind of speculation to rest:

Jesus declares "no one can come to Me unless it is granted him by the Father." (John 6:65) In the same passage Jesus declares: " all that the Father gives to Me will come to Me." (John 6:37) In both verses the phrase "come to Me" simply means "believe in Me" and so taken together Jesus is stating that no one can believe in Him unless God grants it, and all to whom God grants it will believe". According to this passage, then, God grants faith, a faith that will infallibly arise in the heart of those He has given His Son...

Faith is not the product of an unregenerated human nature. If a person becomes humble enough to submit to God it is because the Holy Spirit has given that person a new, humble nature ... not because some men are more humble than others. It was not by chance that one person believed the gospel and not the other, nor was it because one had some innate virtue that the other lacked. It is grace and grace ALONE that makes men to differ, not the exertion of men's wills. While God requires faith of all men He promises to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal life his Holy Spirit (John 6:63-65), which quickens and disarms hostility so they are willing, and able to believe.

(Also see 2 Chronicles 30:11-12; Phil 1:29, 2 Tim 2:25, Acts 13:48, Rom 9:15-18; John 1:13; 1 John 5:1)

HT: Reformation Theology

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Churches Using Canal Means To Attract Carnal People

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Do the sons bare the sins of the father or not?

It would seem that this story is what bible epics are made of. The extreme in life being used as an example of biblical truth. How much more does this happen to in the families of Christians concerning the less sensational circumstances of life?  What price do we pay for weak parenting, compromised ethics and nominal Christian living?

(Dec. 11) – Exactly two years after his father's arrest, the eldest son of convicted Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff was found dead this morning, his body hanging from a dog leash in his living room as his own young son slept in the next room, according to reports.

Read the rest of the article here.


Then read this  from CARM.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Direct Access

"For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." (1 Timothy 2:5)

 
This is one of the key verses of Scripture for several reasons. In the first place, in the midst of a pantheistic and polytheistic society governed by the kings and rulers for whom Paul had just exhorted believers to pray, it was important to reemphasize that there was only one Creator God--the One to whom even kings must give account and the only One to whom we can rightfully pray.
 
Secondly, Christ Jesus, who was Himself "God . . . manifest in the flesh" and then "received up into glory" (1 Timothy 3:16), was nevertheless still "the man Christ Jesus." He is still a man, even though His human body has been resurrected and glorified. Therefore He can, indeed, "be touched with the feeling of our infirmities;" and we can "come boldly" to His "throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:15-16).
 
Then, because He is both omnipotent God and perfect man, "in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin" (v. 15), He is uniquely able to serve as the one and only "mediator between God and men." Furthermore, as the only God-man, fully and eternally both God and man, He is the only one through whom we can reach God’s throne in prayer. "I am the way, the truth, and the life," He said, "no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6).
 
No one else--man or woman, saint or priest, angel or demon--has direct access to God, for the Son is the one mediator between God and man. We can come to God, however, for "we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (1 John 2:1). "Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them" (Hebrews 7:25).

HT: Days of Praise