Technology, Surveillance, and Eric Barger

Eric Barger delivered another eye opening report tonight about technology, surveillance, privacy, and how it connects to us today. There is much to consider here. Is the privacy sacrifice worth the dopamine rush provided by Facebook? Is the convenience of Google really worth the tracking and data mining? I have attached three articles from Eric’s website that deal with the issue of technology and our privacy. 
 
 
 


Special Guest, Eric Barger

Eric Barger joins us at GPEH, May 20th



Common Bonds Between Islam and Catholicism

Common Bonds Between Islam and Catholicism

by Mike Gendron
Will the world’s two largest religions converge and be the catalyst for the prophesied one-world religion?  At first glance, the two faiths appear to be vastly different but under close inspection, they have more common bonds than differences. In 1994 the Vatican issued a publication entitled: “Spiritual Bonds Which Unite Us: 16 Years of Christian-Muslim Dialogue.” After extensive study and research, I put forth 10 common bonds that will help unite these two religions.

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What is Textual Criticism?

Simply stated, textual criticism is a method used to determine what the original manuscripts of the Bible said. The original manuscripts of the Bible are either lost, hidden, or no longer in existence. What we do have is tens of thousands of copies of the original manuscripts dating from the 1st to the 15th centuries A.D. (for the New Testament) and dating from the 4th century B.C. to the 15th century A.D. (for the Old Testament). In these manuscripts, there are many minor and a few significant differences. Textual criticism is the study of these manuscripts in an attempt to determine what the original reading actually was.

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Praising God for Your Election

“Having been predestined according to [God’s] purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will” (Eph. 1:11).

God took the initiative in salvation by choosing you and granting you saving faith.

In Ephesians 1:4 Paul says that God “chose us in [Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him.” In verse 11 he reiterates that marvelous truth by affirming that believers have been predestined to salvation according to God’s own purpose and will.

Many reject the teaching that God chose (predestined) believers to salvation. They think believers chose God. In one sense they’re right: salvation involves an act of the will in turning from sin to embrace Christ. But the issue in predestination goes deeper than that. It’s a question of initiative. Did God choose you on the basis of your faith in Him or did He, by choosing you, enable you to respond in faith.

The answer is clear in Scripture.


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Resting in God’s Sovereignty

 

“[God] made known the mystery of His will according to His kind intention which He purposed in [Christ] with a view to an administration suitable to the fulness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things upon the earth” (Eph. 1:9-10).

God is intimately involved in the flow of human history and is directing its course toward a specific, predetermined climax.

For centuries men of various philosophical schools have debated the cause, course, and climax of human history. Some deny God and therefore deny any divine involvement in history. Others believe that God set everything in motion, then withdrew to let it progress on its own. Still others believe that God is intimately involved in the flow of human history and is directing its course toward a specific, predetermined climax.

In Ephesians 1:9-10 Paul settles that debate by reminding us that Jesus Himself is the goal of human history. In Him all things will be summed up—all human history will be resolved and united to the Father through the work of the Son.

As Paul said elsewhere, “It was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fulness [of deity] to dwell in [Christ], and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross” (Col. 1:19-20). The culmination of Christ’s reconciling work will come during His millennial kingdom (Rev. 20). Following that, He will usher in the eternal state with a new heaven and earth (Rev. 21).

Despite the political uncertainty and military unrest in the world today, be assured that God is in control. He governs the world (Isa. 40:22-24), the nations (Isa. 40:15- 17), and individuals as well (Prov. 16:9). God’s timetable is right on schedule. Nothing takes Him by surprise and nothing thwarts His purposes. Ultimately He will vanquish evil and make everything right in Christ.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for the wisdom and insight He gives you to see beyond your temporal circumstances to His eternal purposes.
  • Live today with that perspective in mind.

For Further Study

Read Revelation 20.

  • What happens to Satan prior to the millennial kingdom?
  • How does Satan meet his final doom?
  • What happens at the great white throne judgment?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.com.

Additional Resources



Living to the Glory of God by John MacArthur

Living to the Glory of God

God chose us “to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in [His beloved Son]” (Eph. 1:6).

You were created to glorify God.

Englishman Henry Martyn served as a missionary in India and Persia in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Upon his arrival in Calcutta, he cried out “Let me burn out for God.” As he watched the people prostrating themselves before their pagan idols and heard blasphemy uttered against Christ, he wrote, “This excited more horror in me than I can well express. . . . I could not endure existence if Jesus was not glorified; it would be hell to me, if He were to be always thus dishonored” (John Stott, Our Guilty Silence [InterVarsity, 1967], pp. 21-22).

Martyn had a passion for God’s glory—and he was in good company. Angels glorify God (Luke 2:14), as do the heavens (Ps. 19:1) and even animals (Isa. 43:20). But as a believer, you glorify God in a unique way because you are a testimony to His redeeming grace.

You were created for the purpose of glorifying God—even in the most mundane activities of life, such as eating and drinking (1 Cor. 10:31). You are to flee immorality so you can glorify God in your body (1 Cor. 6:19– 20). You are to walk worthy of your calling “that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified” (2 Thess. 1:12).

Glorifying God is an enormous privilege and an awesome responsibility. When others see His character on display in your life, it reminds them of His power, goodness, and grace. But when they don’t, it dishonors God and calls His character into question.

Aim your life at God’s glory and make it the standard by which you evaluate everything you do.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank the Lord for the privilege of glorifying Him.
  • Ask Him to show you any areas of your life that do not honor Him.
  • Find a trusted Christian friend who will pray with you and hold you accountable for the areas you know need to change.

For Further Study

Read Exodus 33:12-34:8.

  • What did Moses request?
  • What was God’s response and what does it teach us about His glory?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.com.  Find original post here: Living to the Glory of God

Additional Resources



Apostasy Warning: A Study of the Book of Jude

Apostasy Warning: A Study of the Book of Jude

 
On Wednesday evenings at GPEH (Grace Point at Eagle Heights Church) we are spending this year making our way through the book of Jude. This epistle is one of 5 Jewish epistles alongside Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, and 2 Peter. Though this is a short book, containing only 25 verses of text, it is nonetheless packed full of relevant, useful information.  This letter could have been written today, as we are struggling with the same problems, same heresies, same errors in the church.
 
In Luke 18:8, Jesus asks the question, “ When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”. Jesus was not speaking out of ignorance. Nor was He questioning whether all believers would be gone when He returns. Instead, He asked the question to spur the disciples on to faithfulness in prayer, to encourage them to keep on in their praying. The church today needs to pray.

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Matching Your Practice to Your Position

God chose us “that we should be holy and blameless before Him” (Eph. 1:4).

The challenge of Christian living is to increasingly match your practice to your position.

God chose you in Christ to make you holy and blameless in His sight. To be “holy” is to be separated from sin and devoted to righteousness. To be “blameless” is to be pure without spot or blemish—like Jesus, the Lamb of God (1 Pet. 1:19).

Ephesians 1:4 is a positional statement. That is, Paul describes how God views us “in Christ.” He sees us as holy and blameless because Christ our Savior is holy and blameless. His purity is credited to our spiritual bank account. That’s because God made Christ “who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21).


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Blessing the God of Blessings

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us” (Eph. 1:3).

When we bless God, it is with words of praise; when He blesses us, it is with deeds of kindness.

Paul’s brief doxology identifies God the Father as the ultimate recipient and source of blessing—the One to whom blessing is ascribed and the One who bestows blessings on those who love Him.

“Blessed” translates the Greek word eulogeō, from which we get eulogy. To bless or eulogize God is to praise Him for His mighty works and holy character.


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Bible Reading Plans for 2018

Bible Reading Plans for 2018

Here are some great reading plans from  Dec 26, 2017

Many Christians take the beginning of a new year to evaluate their Bible reading habits, and then change or begin a Bible reading plan.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105)

For your convenience, we’ve compiled a list of Bible reading plans for you to choose from. Maybe in 2018 you will read more of the Bible each day. Perhaps you’ll slow down your reading and instead spend more time considering what you read. Whatever it is you’re looking for in a reading plan, you should find it below:

5 Day Bible Reading Program

Read through the Bible in a year, with readings five days a week.

Duration: One Year | Download: PDF


52 Week Bible Reading Plan

Read through the Bible in a year, with each day of the week dedicated to a different genre: Epistles, The Law, History, Psalms, Poetry, Prophecy, and Gospels.

Duration: One year | Download: PDF


5x5x5 Bible Reading Plan

Read through the New Testament in a year, reading Monday to Friday. Weekends are set aside for reflection and other reading. Especially beneficial if you’re new to a daily discipline of Bible reading.

Duration: One year | Download: PDF


A Bible Reading Chart

Read through the Bible at your own pace. Use this minimalistic, yet beautifully designed, chart to track your reading throughout the year.

Duration: Flexible | Download: PDF


Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Read through the Bible in the order the events occurred chronologically.

Duration: One year | Download: PDF


The Discipleship Journal Bible Reading Plan

Four daily readings beginning in Genesis, Psalms, Matthew and Acts.

Duration: One year | Download: PDF


ESV Daily Bible Reading Plan

Four daily readings taken from four lists: Psalms and Wisdom Literature, Pentateuch and History of Israel, Chronicles and Prophets, and Gospels and Epistles.

Duration: One year | Download: PDF


Every Word in the Bible

Read through the Bible one chapter at a time. Readings alternate between the Old and New Testaments.

Duration: Three years | Download: PDF


Historical Bible Reading Plan

The Old Testament readings are similar to Israel’s Hebrew Bible, and the New Testament readings are an attempt to follow the order in which the books were authored.

Duration: One year | Download: PDF


An In Depth Study of Matthew

A year long study in the Gospel of Matthew from Tabletalk magazine and R.C. Sproul.

Duration: One year | App: Accessible on YouVersion. Download the app.


Professor Grant Horner’s Bible Reading System

Reading ten chapters a day, in the course of a year you’ll read the Gospels four times, the Pentateuch twice, Paul’s letters four to five times, the Old Testament wisdom literature six times, the Psalms at least twice, Proverbs and Acts a dozen times, and the OT History and Prophetic books about one and a half times.

Duration: Ongoing | Download: PDF


Robert Murray M’Cheyne Bible Reading Plan

Read the New Testament and Psalms twice and the Old Testament once.

Duration: One or two years | Download: Website


Straight Through the Bible Reading Plan

Read straight through the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation.

Duration: One year | Download: PDF


Tabletalk Bible Reading Plan

Two readings each day; one from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament.

Duration: One year | Download: PDF


The Legacy Reading Plan

This plan does not have set readings for each day. Instead, it has set books for each month, and set number of Proverbs and Psalms to read each week. It aims to give you more flexibility, while grounding you in specific books of the Bible each month.

Duration: One year | Download: PDF


Two-Year Bible Reading Plan

Read the Old and New Testaments once, and Psalms & Proverbs four times.

Duration: Two years | Download: PDF



Dealing with “Problem Passages”

Dealing with “Problem Passages”

Remember, our Lord Jesus Christ clearly stated that God’s Word is truth (John 17:17). 

There are no contradictions in the Bible, because God does not contradict Himself.  The problem is not with God and not with His Word, but with man and his faulty understanding.  Even when we do not have the answer, God does.

When there may seem to be contradictory statements and someone claims that the Bible contains errors, keep in mind that the burden of proof is on the critic.  Let the critic prove it. 

The Critic must:

  1. Show that the statement was in the original God-breathed text.
  2. Show that the translation he uses is absolutely correct.
  3. Show that his interpretation is the only possible one.
  4. Show that the present state of our knowledge, with respect to the passage, is final.
  5. Show that the task of reconciliation is impossible.

 

Remember, the words of our Lord, “The Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35) and “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35).



Paul and James: The Teaching of Both Compared on the Matters of Faith & Works

Paul and James

The Teaching of Both Compared

Paul and James did not contradict each other; but rather they complemented each other. What both men wrote was inspired by God (2 Tim. 3:16) and true. Paul’s focus was on the unsaved man and how he might get right with God. James’ focus was on the saved person and how he might show his faith and demonstrate the reality of his faith.

 

Paul’s Teaching James’ Teaching
You cannot be saved by works(Ephesians 2:8-9) You cannot show that you are saved without works (James 2:14,18)
How can a person be saved?By faith alone (Rom. 3:28) How can a person show that he is saved? How can he “show his faith”?Only by works (James 2:18)
Faith without works saves (Romans 3:28)This is a living faith (saving faith) Faith without works does not save (James 2:14)This is a dead faith (James 2:17,20,26)
Faith alone saves The faith that saves is not alone
A person is not saved by works(“works” are rejected by Paul as the means of salvation:it is wrong to say that a person must do good works in order to be saved)These are meritorious works, that is, works done to try to merit or earn salvation A saved person will perform good works(“works” are understood by James to be the result of salvation: a person does good works because he is saved)These are faith works, that is, works that spring from a faith that is real and living.
Paul agreed with JamesHe taught that good works must accompany saving faith (Eph. 2:10; Tit. 3:8; Gal. 5:6; Phil. 2:11-12). James agreed with PaulHe taught that a person inherits the kingdom only by faith (James 2:5) and that Abraham was justified by faith (James 2:23)
Paul used the example of Abraham when he first believed in God (Rom. 4:3 and compare Genesis 15:6). James used the example of Abraham when his faith was tested by God, about 40 years later (James 2:21 and compare Genesis 22)
The error Paul corrected:Salvation is by the works of the law (the error of legalism) The error that James corrected:Works are unnecessary after a person is saved (the error of antinomianism)
Paul wrote about how a guilty sinner may be justified before God. James wrote about how a believer can show that his faith is genuine (justification or vindication before men)
At the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 the key issue was that salvation is by grace through faith and not by the works of the law. See the error in Acts 15:1 and Peter’s conclusion in Acts 15:9,11. James, who took a lead role in this discussion never voiced any disagreement with Peter or Paul over this crucial matter.
Paul’s perspective: He was viewing the guilty sinner who needed to be right with God. (The sinner is in view) James’ perspective: He was viewing the believer (or professing believer) who needed to demonstrate that his faith was real. (The believer is in view)
 
 
THe above information may be downloaded in a single page chart here.


8 implications of calling Jesus “Lord”

Image result for Jesus as Lord

from the Jesse Johnson…I recently preached 2 Corinthians 4:5 (“We do not breach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord”), and in preparation I came across this powerful list of 8 implications of preaching Jesus as Lord. These are from Murray Harris’s New International Greek Testament Commentary (p 332), where he writes: 

Whenever worshiping Christians repeat the church’s confession “Jesus is Lord,” they are:

1. Implying that the Christ of faith was none other than the Jesus of history (Acts 2:34–36),

2. acknowledging the deity of Christ (John 20:28; Phil. 2:6, 9–11),

3. admitting the Lord’s personal rights to absolute supremacy in the universe, the church, and individual lives (Acts 10:36; Rom. 10:12; 14:8; 1 Cor. 8:6; Jas. 4:15),

4. affirming the triumph of Christ over death and hostile cosmic powers when God raised him from the dead (Rom. 10:9; 14:9; Eph. 1:20–22; Col. 2:10, 15) and therefore also the Christian’s hope of resurrection (1 Cor. 6:14; 2 Cor. 4:14),

5. epitomizing the Christian message (Rom. 10:8–9; 2 Cor. 4:5) and defining the basis of Christian teaching ( Col. 2:6–7),

6. declaring everyone’s accountability to the Lord, the righteous judge (1 Cor. 4:5; 2 Tim. 4:1, 8),

7. making a personal and public declaration of faith (Rom. 10:9), which testifies to their being led by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:3), and

8. repudiating their former allegiance to many pagan “lords” and reaffirming their loyalty to one Lord through and in whom they exist (1 Cor. 8:5–6; 1 Tim. 6:15).

It is good to be reminded that “Lord” is more than a title, and more than a name. It reveals the identity of Jesus, and compels a response from us that is more than simply a phrase we say–ie. there is more at stake here than saying “Jesus is Lord.” That phrase implies so much, that when rightly understood it alters our worldview.
 
Original post here.


What Does the X in Xmas Mean?

FROM  Dec 11, 2017 Category: Articles

The X in Christmas is used like the R inR.C.My given name at birth was Robert Charles, although before I was even taken home from the hospital my parents called me by my initials, R.C., and nobody seems to be too scandalized by that.

X can mean so many things. For example, when we want to denote an unknown quantity, we use the symbol X. It can refer to an obscene level of films, something that is X-rated. People seem to express chagrin about seeing Christ’s name dropped and replaced by this symbol for an unknown quantity X. Every year you see the signs and the bumper stickers saying, “Put Christ back into Christmas” as a response to this substitution of the letter X for the name of Christ.

There’s no X in Christmas

First of all, you have to understand that it is not the letter X that is put into Christmas. We see the English letter X there, but actually what it involves is the first letter of the Greek name for Christ.Christosis the New Testament Greek for Christ. The first letter of the Greek wordChristosis transliterated into our alphabet as an X. That X has come through church history to be a shorthand symbol for the name of Christ.

We don’t see people protesting the use of the Greek letter theta, which is an O with a line across the middle. We use that as a shorthand abbreviation for God because it is the first letter of the wordTheos, the Greek word for God.

X has a long and sacred history

The idea of X as an abbreviation for the name of Christ came into use in our culture with no intent to show any disrespect for Jesus. The church has used the symbol of the fish historically because it is an acronym. Fish in Greek (ichthus) involved the use of the first letters for the Greek phrase “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.” So the early Christians would take the first letter of those words and put those letters together to spell the Greek word for fish. That’s how the symbol of the fish became the universal symbol of Christendom. There’s a long and sacred history of the use of X to symbolize the name of Christ, and from its origin, it has meant no disrespect.
***
Quick thought from Pastor K…
When you see this written during this season, use it as a teaching moment. Talk to those around about the meaning of the “X”. Make the most of the opportunity to kindly educate people on the true meaning of Christmas.
 
The Word became Flesh…


THE FIVE SOLAS 

THE FIVE SOLAS 
 
 The five solas are five Latin phrases popularized during the Protestant Reformation that emphasized the distinctions between the early Reformers and the Roman Catholic Church. The word sola is the Latin word for “only” and was used in relation to five key teachings that defined the biblical pleas of Protestants.
 
 
They are:

1. Sola scriptura: “Scripture alone”
2. Sola fide: “faith alone”
3. Sola gratia: “grace alone”
4. Solo Christo: “Christ alone”
5. Soli Deo gloria: “to the glory of God alone”

Each of these solas can be seen both as a corrective to the excesses of the Roman Catholic Church at the start of the Reformation and as a positive biblical declaration.

Sola scriptura emphasizes the Bible alone as the source of authority for Christians. By saying, “Scripture alone,” the Reformers rejected both the divine authority of the Roman Catholic Pope and confidence in sacred tradition. Only the Bible was “inspired by God” (2 Peter 1:20-21) and “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Anything taught by the Pope or in tradition that contradicted the Bible was to be rejected. Sola scriptura also fueled the translation of the Bible into German, French, English, and other languages, and prompted Bible teaching in the common languages of the day, rather than in Latin.

Sola fide emphasizes salvation as a free gift. The Roman Catholic Church of the time emphasized the use of indulgences (donating money) to buy status with God. Good works, including baptism, were seen as required for salvation. Sola fide stated that salvation is a free gift to all who accept it by faith (John 3:16). Salvation is not based on human effort or good deeds (Ephesians 2:9).

Sola gratia emphasizes grace as the reason for our salvation. In other words, salvation comes from what God has done rather than what we do. Ephesians 2:8-9 teaches, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

Solo Christo (sometimes listed as Solus Christus, “through Christ alone”) emphasizes the role of Jesus in salvation. The Roman Catholic tradition had placed church leaders such as priests in the role of intercessor between the laity and God. Reformers emphasized Jesus’ role as our “high priest” who intercedes on our behalf before the Father. Hebrews 4:15 teaches, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Jesus is the One who offers access to God, not a human spiritual leader. 

Soli Deo gloria emphasizes the glory of God as the goal of life. Rather than striving to please church leaders, keep a list of rules, or guard our own interests, our goal is to glorify the Lord. The idea of soli Deo gloria is found in 1 Corinthians 10:31: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

The five solas of the Protestant Reformation offered a strong corrective to the faulty practices and beliefs of the time, and they remain relevant today. We are called to focus on Scripture, accept salvation by grace through faith, magnify Christ, and live for God’s glory.



10 Things You Should Know about the Reformation

10 Things You Should Know about the Reformation

1. The Pope started the Reformation.

The fourteenth century was a bad time for the papacy. For a period, there were two rival popes and the papacy was under pressure from the French monarchy. It wasn’t a good time for the city of Rome either—seven successive popes abandoned Rome in favor of Avignon in France. Rome was sidelined and Saint Peter’s Basilica fell into disrepair. The popes returned to Rome in 1377 and then sorted out their divisions in 1417.

A hundred years on, things were looking up: in 1505, Pope Julius II had decided to knock down the old St Peter’s and start again. He had big plans for his own tomb and wanted a basilica to match. It was time to make Rome magnificent once again. But that didn’t come cheap, so the church embarked on a fundraising campaign. It was this campaign that brought Johann Tetzel to Germany to sell indulgences, promises of time off purgatory in exchange for cash. And so it was that on October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his protest against indulgences to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg.

2. The Reformation was about sausages.

During Lent 1522, a group of students in Zurich held a sausage-themed party. Traditionally only vegetables and fish were eaten during Lent. But they wanted change and that meant hot dogs. The city council fined the host of the party, albeit only a nominal amount. A few days later, Huldrych Zwingli, the leader of the city’s church, produced a pamphlet in support of the students. The Bible, he argued, didn’t have much to say about sausages—there was certainly nothing about eating sausages during Lent.

The Council convened a debate to decide whether Zwingli’s views matched what was taught in the Bible. Zwingli won the day. But really, he’d won before it started because the terms of the discussion assumed the authority of Scripture. And that, rather than sausages, was the real issue—though it’s reassuring to know that bacon sandwiches get the thumbs up.

3. Luther’s marriage was a bit fishy.

Catholicism’s focus was on becoming right with God through the sacraments or monastic life, but the Reformers preached that being right with God is a gift. There’s no need to do works for God’s benefit. It’s already a done deal—achieved by Christ and received by faith. And that frees you up to serve your neighbour in love.

In 1523, a group of nuns contacted Luther. Convent life made no sense, so the nuns wanted Luther to help them escape their cloistered life. Luther enlisted a merchant who regularly delivered herring to the convent. On April 5, the nuns escaped by hiding among the empty fish barrels. Their families refused to take them back, perhaps because what had just happened was still a crime under Church law. So Luther set about marrying them off—no easy matter, perhaps, since they smelled of fish!

Gradually, he found husbands for them all—all except one. No husband could be found for the ringleader, Katharina von Bora. So, somewhat against his wishes, Luther himself married her. He was forty-one and she twenty-six. It turned out to be a good match.

4. There were 97 theses before there were 95 theses.

Luther’s famous ninety-five theses were not his first stab at provoking a debate. A few weeks before, he’d posted ninety-seven theses. They included an attack on the Greek philosopher Aristotle, who’d made something of a comeback in the Medieval period. As it happens, no one took much notice of Luther’s ninety-seven theses. Yet they were much more central to the thought of the Reformation.

So, when Luther was summoned to account for his actions before his Augustinian order, it was to the themes in the ninety-seven theses that he returned. Aristotle said we become righteous by doing right acts—your identity is the result of your actions. It’s something you achieve. Luther said this gets things the wrong way around. In the gospel, our identity is a gift from God. It’s something you receive. And then our actions flow from our new identity. Unbelievers can be constrained by laws and peer pressure, but a life of wholehearted righteous living is only possible if God makes us new people.

5. The Reformation involved a rediscovery of the work of the Spirit.

In 1524, Desiderius Erasmus published an attack on Luther. Erasmus was Europe’s leading celebrity academic. Erasmus thought people already had enough power in themselves to do good. He defined free choice as “a power of the human will by which a man can apply himself to the things which lead to eternal salvation, or turn away from them.” Luther replied, “You do not realize how much you attribute to it by this pronoun ‘itself’—its very own self!—when you say it can ‘apply itself’; for this means that you completely exclude the Holy Spirit with all his power, as superfluous and unnecessary.”

The church is always being reformed by God’s Word.

As far as Erasmus was concerned, we just need to try harder. But Luther realized our problem was much more fundamental than that. Our problem is not that we’re lazy or ignorant, but that we’re sinners deep down to the very core of our being. So, if we’re ever going to please God, we need a radical inner transformation. And that’s what the Holy Spirit does.

6. The Reformation wasn’t about salvation by works—at least not quite.

There’s a version of the Reformation which says Catholics believed in salvation by works and the Reformers believed in salvation by faith, but it’s more subtle than that. In fact, Catholics talked a lot about faith and grace. They would happily say we’re saved by grace. They would happily say that righteousness comes by faith.

But grace for the Catholic Church is like a shot of adrenaline that boosts your spiritual performance. And righteousness is a God-given ability to live a righteous life—if you work at it at. Baptism gives you a kick start and the mass gives you a boost along the way, but it’s up to you to live a righteous life that will win God’s approval. So the net result is grace plus works and faith plus works.

Just to be clear, the Council of Trent says, “If anyone says, that by faith alone the ungodly are justified in such a way as to mean that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to receive the grace of Justification and that it is not necessary for a man to be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema.” (Canon IX)

The Council of Trent was the Catholic Church’s response to the Reformation, a response it has never repudiated. The reason this subtlety matters is that it brings the issues closer to home. Evangelicals all know we begin the Christian life by faith. But we all too easily slip into thinking we need to win God’s approval through our activities. We become more Roman Catholic than we realize.

7. The Reformation wasn’t about the authority of Scripture—at least not quite.

In his attack on Luther, Erasmus begins by talking about Scripture. “I confess it is right,” he says, “that the sole authority of Holy Scripture should outweigh all the votes of all mortal men.” So far so good. But he continues, “The authority of the Scripture is not here in dispute. . . . Our battle is about the meaning of Scripture.” He goes on to say we need the authority of the Church to determine the true meaning of Scripture.

In other words, everyone agreed with the authority of Scripture. But the Catholic Church placed Church tradition alongside Scripture and claimed the exclusive right to interpret the Bible. The Reformers, however, rejected the notion that the church establishes the authenticity of the gospel. It’s the other way round: the gospel establishes the authenticity of the church. They were happy to learn from church tradition, but when push came to shove, Scripture alone is our ultimate authority.

Again, this brings the issues closer to home. Today no evangelical rejects the authority of Scripture. But all too often we place our experience alongside Scripture or use experience to interpret Scripture—rather than the other way round.

8. The Reformation is not over.

Earlier this year I stood in Piazza Martin Lutero in Rome. Yes, they’ve named a square after Luther. In Rome. With the Pope’s blessing. Proof surely that the Reformation is over? Sadly not. It’s true that the rise of secularism means Protestants and Catholics often find themselves standing together on issues of morality and religious freedom. It’s also true that many Catholics and Protestants hold similar theological views.

But that’s because many Catholics no longer follow the official Catholic teaching and many Protestants have lost touch with their Reformation roots. But the fault lines of the Reformation have not gone away. “The Pope’s a Catholic” is the epitome of a non-news story. But, despite the PR coming out of the Vatican, in a 1985 lecture, Pope Francis claimed the Reformation underlies all the problems of Western civilization, from secularism to totalitarianism. He labeled Luther and Calvin “heretics.” Lutheranism is “a good idea gone foolish” while the “schismatic” Calvin tore apart humanity, society and the church.

Why the Reformation Still Matters

Why the Reformation Still Matters, Michael Reeves, Tim Chester

This accessible introduction to the Protestant Reformation answers eleven key questions raised by the Reformers, arguing that the Reformation remains vitally important for the church and is still relevant to our lives today.

 

9. The Reformation still matters and not just when we’re talking to Catholics.

The Reformation was always intended to be an ongoing project. One of its slogans was semper reformanda. It’s usually translated as “always reforming,” but a better translation is “always being reformed.” The church is always being reformed by God’s Word. It doesn’t describe a movement forward to some uncharted horizon, but a continual movement back to God’s Word. On justification, Scripture, preaching, grace, the Holy Spirit, the sacraments, and everyday life, evangelicals have important lessons to learn from the Reformation.

10. The Reformation makes us small and Christ big.

Why was the Reformation controversial in the sixteenth century? Why does it remain controversial today? The answer, I believe, is that the Reformation (or rather the biblical gospel it rediscovered) makes us small and Christ big. At the heart of the Reformation was the realization that:

  • We are more helpless than we realize.
  • Christ is more sufficient than we realize.
  • God is more gracious than we realize.

This is what’s meant by soli Deo gloria, “to the glory of God alone.” There’s no room in Reformation theology for human boasting. No one can claim their salvation or their knowledge of God is down to their intellect, morality, or religion. It’s all of God from start and finish. That’s our great hope and confidence. Our salvation is founded on the certain promises of God and the finished work of Christ. And if it’s all of God from start to finish, then the glory goes to him alone.

 




Correct Ways to Correct: Addressing Sin in the Church

Here is a great, short article from Clint Archer at the Cripplegate.

Posted: 25 Sep 2017 01:01 AM PDT

Some believe he was the greatest tennis player of all time. He finished as the world’s top-seeded player four years in a row and spent a total of 170 weeks in that top spot. He won Wimbledon three times and the US Open four times, and finished his career with 77 singles titles and 78 doubles titles, which remains the highest men’s combined total of the Open Era.

But most of us probably don’t remember him for those stats.

We know him for his harsh words fired mercilessly at umpires in fits of outrage and unbridled temper tantrums. Who else could I be referring to other than John McEnroe?

McEnroe became notorious for questioning umpires with vociferous protestations and unrelenting verbal abuse, which garnered him thousands of dollars in fines.

His favorite phrase, which is now part of English vernacular, was: “You cannot be serious!”

In response to his behavior a rule was created that if a player exceeded $7,500 in fines in a season, he would be suspended for 21 days.

That trap was sprung at the Swedish Open in 1984.

A linesman called a serve as long, and McEnroe approached the chair umpire, Leif Nilsson, glared at him with his trademark scowl, and asked: “

Are all Swedish umpires as good as you?…No mistakes so far in this match, right? You haven’t overruled anything. No mistakes whatsoever! Answer my question! The question, jerk!” The stoic Nilsson replied with a deadpan, “Second serve please

.”

Nilsson had already issued McEnroe a warning in the second game of the match for firing a ball in anger at a spectator, so this second outburst cost him a point penalty. He stormed over to the sideline and smashed several glasses of ice water with a backhand drenching a spectator in the front row who just happened to be… the King of Sweden.

McEnroe got a $2,100 fine for his efforts, which exceeded the fine cap and thus resulted in an immediate 21-day suspension.

It should be noted that it is not against the rules of tennis to challenge a linesman’s call, but there are correct ways to address the umpire and there are rules about smacking glasses of water at the King of Sweden.

Three aspects of the correct way to correct people in the church…

1. The need for correction

1 Timothy 5:1-2 Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.

There are two commands here: do not rebuke – literally do not batter with blows – but rather encourage.

Timothy’s response to sin in the church could either be incorrect (rebuking) or correct (encouraging), but there is no option to ignore the sin.

Although the log must be removed from your own eye first….the speck in your brother’s eye must still be removed (Luke

6:42

).

But you might be asking: Why do Christians need to address sin, why can’t we just ignore it, like normal people do? It’s no wonder people say we are judgmental—we keep noticing each other’s sin and pointing it out to each other. Why?

2. The goal of correction

If the goal of correcting a person was just to point out their sin or to make the person feel bad, then it wouldn’t matter how we addressed the issue, as long as we did address it.

When a tennis player’s serve is out of bounds the linesman yells “Out!” He doesn’t say, “Hey brother may I have a quiet word with you in private? Let’s open in prayer. Now I just wanted to point out that the ball was an inch shy of the line…” No, he just shouts “Out!” in front of everyone—the umpire, the crowd, the opponent. Why? Because the goal is simply to make everyone aware that the ball was out.

But here Paul tells Timothy how to correctly point out sin (encourage) because pointing out the sin isn’t the goal…the goal is to restore the sinner.

Galatians 6:1 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. …

The goal is to put the person back to where they were before – to help them to be right with God and in fellowship with God’s people.

So how do we do this?

3. The method of correction

The method of your correction needs to reflect your love and respect for the person you are correcting. Paul describes believers as family – fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters.

If your dad’s hearing is going and you notice he’s talking a bit too loudly in a restaurant, you don’t yell “Hey old man quit your yelling, you’re a disgrace, keep it down!”

No, you lean over and gently say, “Hey Dad, you’re talking a bit loudly.”

In the church we love each other, we respect each other. And we sin against each other, but we are all on the same team.

If you notice a teammate is always getting close to the line and committing a foot fault, you pull them aside and say “Hey buddy, take a step back before you serve so you don’t cross that line, or you are going to lose a point.”

When it’s the opponent, you just yell “Hey ump, that was a foot fault!” Because you want them to lose the point.

As believers we aren’t opponents, we are on the same team, we are family, so being corrected needs to be done sensitively and gently.

Sometimes we may need to be firmer:

1 Thess 5:14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle [unruly NASB]. And sometimes correction is not even necessary— 1 Pet 4:8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.

McEnroe’s autobiography was titled: You cannot be serious!

That outburst of his, correcting the umpire, is what, by his own admission, characterized his whole career.

Christians are not to be characterized by their outbursts against sin. Rather we are to be characterized by love.

That is the correct way to correct.



Bearing Burdens

“Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).

Those who walk by the Spirit will lovingly bear one another’s burdens.

The Lord Jesus presents love for God and love for our neighbor as the great summary of the entire Law (Matt. 22:37-40).

It only makes sense, then, that love will characterize the life of any Christian who is walking by the Spirit. Love will also be an integral part of any Spirit-assisted ministry to others. Paul tells us in today’s verse that when we help other believers hold up their particular burdens, we are obeying “the law of Christ” or the law of love, which James calls “the royal law” (James 2:8).

But what exactly does Galatians 6:2 mean when it commands us to “bear one another’s burdens”? Commentator William Hendriksen gives us this general but helpful observation: “This does not merely mean ‘Tolerate each other,’ or ‘Put up with each other.’ It means: ‘Jointly shoulder each member’s burdens.’”

The actual word burden calls to mind a variety of possible sins, difficulties, and responsibilities; but Paul was using the Greek term that refers to an extremely heavy and unbearable load. It’s a load that one person alone can’t carry, which underscores again that Christians need each other. The Holy Spirit wants each member of the church involved in a ministry of mutual support.

The essence of burden-bearing is spiritual accountability and responsibility. One of the most practical ways we can bear someone else’s burden is to talk and pray regularly with him or her about spiritual issues and measure that person’s progress in overcoming a certain sin or temptation.

Bearing the burdens of another believer is a wonderful, reciprocal learning process in which both individuals can benefit from God’s truth and understand more about His will for their lives (see Gal. 6:6). As we become more sensitive and obedient to Him, the Holy Spirit orchestrates this ministry and gives us the privilege of instructing and upholding others as we continue to walk in Him day by day.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God that His Spirit is powerful enough to help us bear the heaviest burdens of fellow believers.

For Further Study

Read the Epistle to Philemon.

  • What things did Paul probably do to bear Onesimus’s burdens?
  • How was the entire letter a form of burden-bearing by Paul for Philemon?

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.com

.

 



Why do we speak of God in masculine terms?

Here is a good, quick overview of this important topic. In today’s politically correct, everything-is-ok-except-true-chritianity-world in which we live, this is a real hot topic. The author, Jason Carlson, is the son of the late, Dr. Ron Carlson.

Why do we speak of God in masculine terms?
  • The Bible teaches that God is spirit (John 4:24). Thus, He is not male or female in a physical sense. However, that doesn’t mean we should think of God in gender neutral terms.
  • The Bible, inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16), always refers to God using masculine pronouns (i.e. He, Him, His); and the imagery it uses in reference to God is also predominantly masculine (e.g. King, Father, Priest, Husband).
  • Jesus, the “Son” of God, taught us that God is our Heavenly “Father” (Matthew 6:9; Luke 10:22; John 17:1-5). Jesus also referred to the Holy Spirit as “He” (John 15:26). Thus, in the Trinitarian Godhead masculine imagery is intrinsic to God’s being.
  • The Church is referred to as the “bride” of Christ (Revelation 19:7-9; Ephesians 5:22-33; 2 Corinthians 11:2). The marriage relationship is always viewed in Scripture as the union of a woman to a man (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:4-6).
  • While God most consistently reveals Himself to us in masculine terms, we must also remember that both men and women are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). Thus, it is no surprise the Bible also occasionally uses feminine imagery in conveying God’s nature (Isaiah 49:15; 66:13; Matthew 23:27).
  • So, why do we speak of God in masculine terms? Because this is how God has revealed Himself. He is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. One God existing eternally in three persons. One God who loves us with an unfathomable, unstoppable, unbreakable, and unconditional love (John 3:16; Romans 8:35-39; 1 John 4:7-10). 

For more information on the nature and character of God please check out Dr. Carlson’s lecture, “What Is God Like?” available in CD or MP3 in our online store.

Follow CMI on Twitter at @jasoncarlsoncmi.



God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth

The following is an excerpt from The MacArthur New Testament Commentary on John 4.

 

God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (4:24)
 
The phrase God is spirit is the classic biblical definition of the nature of God. Despite the heretical teaching of false cults, God is not an exalted man (Num. 23:19), “for a spirit does not have flesh and bones” (Luke 24:39). He is “the invisible God” (Col. 1:15; cf. 1 Tim. 1:17; Heb. 11:27), who “dwells in unapproachable light [cf. Ps. 104:2], whom no man has seen or can see” (1 Tim. 6:16; cf. Ex. 33:20; John 1:18; 6:46). Had He not revealed Himself in Scripture and in Jesus Christ, God would be utterly incomprehensible.
 
Because God is spirit, those who would truly worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. True worship does not consist of mere outward conformity to religious standards and duties (Isa. 29:13; 48:1; Jer. 12:1–2; Matt. 15:7–9), but emanates from the inner spirit. It must also be consistent with the truth God has revealed about Himself in His Word. The extremes of dead orthodoxy (truth and no spirit) and zealous heterodoxy (spirit and no truth) must be avoided.


Who Does God Say We Are?

Who Does God Say We Are?
The New Testament describes the new identity of a disciple using a variety of word pictures. Here are a few…
Which of these new identities suits you best and why?
Disciples called / likened to:  

Scripture

 

Meaning

Fishers of men Matthew 4:19 We are called to “fish for people” with the net of the gospel.
Salt Matthew 5:13 We are to live in a way that makes people thirsty to know God; we are to act as a preservative in a corrupt society.
Light Matthew 5:14–16 In a dark world, we reflect God’s nature and shine for him.
Branches John 15:5 As branches connected to the Vine, Jesus, we bring his blessing/fruitfulness to the world.
Stewards/ Servants 1 Corinthians 4:1–2 We are managers of God’s good news, gifts, resources, and blessings—ultimately responsible and accountable to him.
Ambassadors 2 Corinthians 5:20 We are representatives of Christ’s kingdom to the lost people of this world.
Saints/Holy people Ephesians 1:1 We are God’s holy ones—by virtue of what Christ has done for us.
Citizens of heaven Philippians 3:20 Our allegiance is to God and his kingdom—not this world.
Soldiers 2 Timothy 2:3–4 We are engaged in a battle—not against people—but the spiritual forces of evil.
Athletes 2 Timothy 2:5 We are to live self-controlled lives and train ourselves to be godly.
Farmers 2 Timothy 2:6 We sow God’s word faithfully in order to reap an eternal harvest.
Living stones, a spiritual house 1 Peter 2:5 We are God’s dwelling place; his modern-day temple.
A priesthood 1 Peter 2:9–10 We may draw near to God—& we have the privilege of helping others do so.
Foreigners, exiles 1 Peter 2:11 This world is not our home. We are only passing through.


A Decreasing Frequency of Sin

A Decreasing Frequency of Sin

“No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God” (1 John 3:9).

A decreasing pattern of sin in a believer’s life means his faith is genuine.

A sinful life pattern is incompatible with salvation. If you could continue in the same sinful pattern after being saved from sin, that would mean salvation is ineffective. Therefore, 1 John 3 deals with the saving work of Christ and reveals just how effective it is.


Read more...