Text: John 5:39-54
Genuine faith (the faith that saves) can only be understood as a miraculous gift from a Sovereign God. Here are some reasons why.
Text: John 5:39-54
Genuine faith (the faith that saves) can only be understood as a miraculous gift from a Sovereign God. Here are some reasons why.
Article: “3 False Assumptions About Science” by Leah Baugh, staff writer at Core Christianity and Associate Editor of Bible Studies at White Horse Inn. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry before turning to theology and receiving a Master of Arts in Biblical Studies and a Master of Arts in Theological Studies. (original source here)
Our modern society celebrates reason and rationality as the pinnacle of man’s virtue and ability. Particularly the field of science has been influenced greatly by the idolization of reason and logic as the source of all meaningful and true knowledge. The scientific method in particular has claimed rational superiority to any other method of determining reality. It is this superiority that has been used to exclude religion or faith as a viable mode of knowledge. Science has often been used to push God out of the picture.
Part of the reason science and God seem incompatible is a misunderstanding of what exactly “science” means. Unless you’ve worked in a scientific field of study, it can be easy to simply trust the experts without knowing how to check their conclusions yourself. There are several things to note when evaluating science and what it claims to say about faith, God, and this world. Briefly, here are three false assumptions about science.
1. Scientific conclusions are made up completely of empirical facts.
The results of hypothesizing and experimenting do not just produce objective facts. The information gained through the scientific method must be interpreted and can be interpreted falsely. Physicist John Polkinghorne writes,
In the first case, the facts that concern scientists are already interpreted facts. Most of the time you can’t see directly what’s happening. You have to infer it from the things you can see, and that inference requires the use of theoretical interpretation. (Quarks, Chaos, and Christianity, 2-3)
He goes on to say that scientific conclusions are usually a mix of fact and opinion. Because of the interpretive element of the scientist, most scientific conclusions have a measure of uncertainty inherent in them.
2. The scientific method is the best method for gaining knowledge about everything.
Traditionally, science has made four claims about itself: rationality, truth, objectivity, and realism. However, these claims have been under attack, and the consensus about the ability of science to fulfill all four of these claims varies widely among scientists. The rationality of a scientific conclusion can be examined by looking at the presuppositions, evidence, and logic that went into reaching that conclusion. However, the bigger question to ask is what is the scientific method used for?
While this assumption is necessary for science to work, this presupposition itself both supports and limits science. Author Marilyn Robinson states the problem:
While the assumption of the intelligibility of the universe is still useful, it is not appropriately regarded as a statement of doctrine, and should never have been. Science of the kind I criticize tends to assert that everything is explicable, that whatever has not been explained will be explained—and, furthermore, by their methods” (The Givenness of Things, 14).
The mysteries of the human mind, the human self, history, and religion all operate outside of the basic assumption science makes in order to operate. The principle that everything is knowable only by this specific methodology is like assuming that everything can be measured by tablespoons. John Polkinghorne writes, “Science makes maps of the physical world that are reliable for some, but not every, purpose” (Quarks, Chaos, and Christianity, 7).
Limitations of science actually come from within science itself. The best example of this is Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle. Basically, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle says that you cannot simultaneously know where a particle is and what it is doing. This is just one example of the strange world we find ourselves in that sometimes is rational and predictable and other times completely bucks our theories.
3. Science determines what is possible and not possible in our world.
The other fundamental problem is that science of the kind I have been talking about captures the realm of possibility and severely restricts it. Marilyn Robinson writes, “Possibility has been captive to a narrow definition for a very long time, ourselves with it” (The Givenness of Things, 14). If we assume science is the only way to determine not only what does happen but what can happen, then our view of the world is extremely narrow. A purely naturalistic explanation of the world cannot satisfy every aspect of human life. The mind, consciousness, self-awareness, and human history refuse to be captured by a purely materialistic definition.
In many ways, the great success of science has expanded our models of reality to include multiple worlds, realms, and dimensions. This expansion only cements further the realization that our planet is radically exceptional and that “our capacity for awareness is therefore parochial in ways and degrees we cannot begin to estimate.” (The Givenness of Things, 14).
With these considerations in mind, science can be used and supported for what it is and for the good it can achieve in helping us understand our world. Trouble arises, however, when scientism exceeds the limits of its reference and purpose. We must be willing to lift our eyes above the horizon of purely naturalistic explanations as we seek to understand the complex and multidimensional world we find ourselves in.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormon Church, speaks often of Jesus Christ. To most people it would seem that Mormonism is just another Christian denomination that teaches Jesus Christ. Is that true? What do the Mormons really teach about Jesus? Following is a list of some of the major points about Jesus as taught by the LDS Church. The references to Mormon scriptures, Mormon apostles and prophets and their books will be found at the conclusion of this tract.
The Mormon Jesus –
* is God the Father’s firstborn spirit-child in heaven.
* Since, according to the LDS Church, each one of us was begotten in the same manner, the difference between us and Jesus is simply one of degree.1
* is the spirit brother of Lucifer, also known as Satan.2
* was begotten here on earth by God the Father by natural means – just like any other man – and not by the Holy Ghost.3
* “sweat” his blood for our sins in the Garden of Gethsemane,4 and his blood cannot cleanse from all sin.5
* is now one amongst many millions of other gods.6
You may be shocked at these things. We invite you to look these references up for yourself. A lot of Mormons may not be familiar with one or two of these points, but most will admit them to be true. The vital question, then, is this: is the Jesus of Mormonism the Jesus of the Bible? The answer to that is an emphatic, NO!
Here, briefly, is what the Bible says about Jesus:
The true Jesus of the Bible –
* is eternal.7 He never had a beginning, nor will He have an end. * He is one with the Father,8 the only true God.9
* created all things.10 Everything that exists Christ created, including Lucifer, who became Satan.11
* was begotten on earth by the Holy Ghost.12 His earthly mother was the Virgin Mary.
* is able to cleanse from all sin through the blood He shed on the cross of Calvary.13
* rose from the dead and has returned to heaven, from which He will return to judge the earth.14
Let’s ask a few questions:
1. Where does the Bible say that God has a wife, and that He begets children? The Bible says that God creates the spirits of men, not that He begets them.15
2. Since the Bible says Christ created all things, how can the Mormon Church teach that God the Father was once a man who lived on another planet?16 Who created that planet? Remember, Jesus created all things, which would include every single planet in existence anywhere in the universe. If Mormonism is right, how could Jesus create a planet before he was even begotten and before his father had become a god?
3. The Bible teaches the virgin birth of Christ. The miracle of the virgin birth is that Mary was a virgin at the time of the birth. The Mormon Church denies the virgin birth by saying that God the Father in a physical body begot Jesus in the same way we are begotten by our fathers.17 How can this blasphemous teaching be reconciled with the Bible?
4. The Mormon Church says Jesus is a god, one among many, and that we, too, can become gods, just like Jesus is.18 Why then does God say, “Before me there was no God formed, and neither shall there be after me.”? (Isaiah 43:10).19 Which would you rather believe – a man-made church or God Himself??
5. Why did Brigham Young, the second Prophet of the Mormon Church say, “It is true that the blood of the Son of God was shed for sins through the fall and those committed by men, yet men can commit sins which it can never remit…they must be atoned for by the blood of the man.”20 How can a sinful man’s blood be more effective than the precious blood of Christ? Listen to this recent Mormon teaching contained in a widely distributed pamphlet: “Christians speak often of the blood of Christ and its cleansing power. Much that is believed and taught on this subject, however, is such utter nonsense and so palpably false that to believe it is to lose one’s salvation. For instance, many believe or pretend to believe that if we confess with our lips and avow that we accept him as our personal Savior, we are thereby saved. They say that his blood, without any other act than mere belief, makes us clean.”21 Possibly, when this pamphlet referred to the “many” who believe this, it was referring to the Apostle Paul when he said, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” (Romans 10:9). Or when he said, “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” (Romans 4:5). Certainly, the Mormon teaching concerning the blood of Jesus is not Christian!
The Jesus of the Bible, the true, living Lord Christ, is like the Mormon Jesus in name only. Other than name, the Jesus of Mormonism is totally and completely different than the Christ who is worshiped by the Christian Church. As you can see, it was teaching like that of the Mormon Church that Paul warned the Corinthians about in 2 Corinthians 11:4 when he spoke about those who “preach another Jesus,” or when he warned the Galatians about those who would “preach another gospel.” (Galatians 1:8-9). Don’t be fooled! Some may try to tell you that these things are not pertinent to your salvation. Since salvation is only in and through Jesus Christ (John 14:6), isn’t it essential that we believe in the real Lord Jesus Christ? Can we be saved by a false Jesus?
The true Jesus wants to give you the free gift of eternal life if you will only turn your life over to Him (John 5:24). Read the following verses, and meet the real Jesus of the Bible, and make Him Lord of your life! John 3:16-18, 5:23-24, 14:6, Romans 3:23-28, 4:4-5, 5:1, 10:9-13, 11:6, Acts 16:31.
1) “What the Mormons Think of Christ,” 1982, pages 6-7, 22. (Hereafter referred to as WMTC). Mormon Doctrine by Bruce R. MConkie, page 281. Jesus the Christ by James Talmage, pages 8-9. Doctrines of Salvation, volume 1. by Joseph Fielding Smith, page 18. Doctrine and Covenants 93:21.
2) Moses 4:1-4, Mormon Doctrine, pages 192, 281,590. Gospel Through the Ages, by Milton Hunter, page 15.
3) WMTC, page 6. Doctrines of Salvation, volume 1, page 18. Mormon Doctrine, pages 546-547 Answers to Gospel Questions volume 5, by Joseph Fielding Smith, pages 126-127. Journal of Discourses volume 1, page 50 (1: 50) 4:218, 11:268. The Seer, by Orson Pratt, pages 158-159.
4) WMTC, page 20. Doctrine and Covenants 19:17-18. Jesus the Christ pages 613-614.
5) Mormon Doctrine, pages 92-93. Doctrines of Salvation, volume 1, pages 134-135. Journal of Discourses 3:247, 4:49-54, 4:219-220.
6) Journal of Discourses volume 2, page 345.
7) John 1:1, John 8:58, Hebrews 13:8.,Revelation 22:13, Micah 5:2.
8) John 10:30, John 17:5.
9) John 17:3, Titus 2:13, 2 Peter 1:1, Revelation 1:8.
10) John 1:3, Colossians 1:16-17, Hebrews 1:3.
11) Ezekiel 28:13-15, Isaiah 14:12-15.
12) Matthew 1:18-20, Luke 1:35.
13) Colossians 1:19-20, 2:13-14, 1 Peter 1:18-19, 1 John 1:7
14) Matthew chapter 25. Revelation 20:12-15.
15) Zechariah 12:1.
16) Joseph Smith “The King Follett Funeral Discourse,” quoted in Journal of Discourses volume 6, page 3, or
Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, by Joseph Fielding Smith, pages 345-346.
17) Journal of Discourses volume,. page 115 The Promised Messiah by Bruce R. McConkie, pages 467-468.
18) Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith pages 346-348. Articles of Faith by James Talmage, page 430.
19) See also Isaiah 44:6-8, 24, 45:5-6, 14, 18, 21-22. 46:9.
20) Journal of Discourses volume 4, page 54, from September 15. 1856.
21) WMTC, pages 19-20.
The Canon Is Closed: The Cessation of Special Revelation (here)
The Necessity of Scripture: Special Revelation Has Ceased (here)
Canonical Prophecy vs Congregational Prophecy: Wayne Grudem’s Argument (here)
OT Prophecy and NT Prophecy: Essential Continuity (here)
Covenant Theology: A Biblical, Theological, and Historical Study of God’s Covenants
By Dr. Ligon Duncan IN EPUB,.MOBI & .PDF FORMATS at this link.
It is grace, free, sovereign grace, which has made you to differ!
Should any here, supposing themselves to be the children of God, imagine that there is some reason “in them” why they should have been chosen, let them know, that as yet they are in the dark, concerning the first principles of grace, and have not yet learned the gospel.
If ever they had known the gospel, they would, on the other hand, confess that they were less than the least- the offscouring of all things- unworthy, ill-deserving, undeserving, and hell-deserving, and ascribe it all to distinguishing grace, which has made them to differ; and to discriminating love, which has chosen them out from the rest of the world. Great Christian, you would have been a great sinner if God had not made you to differ!
O! you who are valiant for truth, you would have been as valiant for the devil if grace had not laid hold of you! A seat in heaven shall one day be yours; but a chain in hell would have been yours if grace had not changed you! You can now sing his love; but a licentious song might have been on your lips, if grace had not washed you in the blood of Jesus! You are now sanctified, you are quickened, you are justified; but what would you have been today if it had not been for the interposition of the divine hand? There is not a crime you might not have committed; there is not a folly into which you might not have run.Even murder itself you might have committed if grace had not kept you.You shall be like the angels; but you would have been like the devil if you had not been changed by grace!
Article by Nicholas Davis, lead pastor of Redemption Church (PCA) in San Diego, California. Nick has worked for White Horse Inn for several years, has contributed to Modern Reformation and other places, and is a writer for Core Christianity.
Nick and his wife, Gina, have three sons. He blogs at nicholasmartindavis.com.
Are there any good reasons to believe the Bible is true? Can an old book like the Bible really be trusted? There are, of course, many good reasons to believe that the Bible is indeed a trustworthy document. Here are five reasons to trust the Bible.
1. The Bible is historically accurate.
The field of archaeology demonstrates that the Bible is historically accurate. Now, this does not mean that it is inherently “true.” It does mean that it is reliable in its historical details—which gives some pretty good credibility to what else it has to say. If we can trust that the Bible accurately records for us geographical places (Israel, Egypt, Babylon, etc.) and historical people (Herod or Pontius Pilate, for example), it’s very likely it has many other true things to say. One reason I could never trust the Book of Mormon, in contrast, is that most of the places listed in its geography are make-believe. It’s very difficult for me to trust a book that is claiming to be nonfiction when its geography is clearly fiction.
2. Compared to other ancient documents, there is no comparison!
The New Testament has been preserved more than any other ancient work. There are over 5,800 Greek manuscripts. The runner-up for ancient texts is Homer’s Iliad, with less than 2,000 copies. After that, the works of Aristotle, Herodotus, Tacitus, and others are even more poorly represented with only two handfuls (or less!) for each.
Now having an abundance of manuscripts doesn’t tell us whether or not the original text is true—it only tells us that we accurately have a handle on what that original text was. We have to read the New Testament itself if we want to find out how trustworthy it is. Still, we do have good reason to trust that the English printed edition we have on our bookshelf or next to our nightstand is, in fact, the very Bible that was completed in the first century. That’s another great place to start in being able to trust the Bible, and it’s more than we can say for any other ancient text in the world.
3. The New Testament manuscripts were written by eyewitnesses.
These eyewitnesses were real people who saw (and touched, see 1 John 1) firsthand the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Luke does mention that he did historical research before writing his Gospel (Luke 1:1–4), but he went straight to other eyewitnesses in order to write these things down. The whole New Testament claims that Jesus Christ died on a cross and rose from the dead three days after dying.
He was seen risen from the dead by all of the original apostles (except Judas who hung himself) and by over five hundred different people (1 Cor. 15:6). There was nothing to gain but death by asserting this claim, but many of these disciples chose to die as martyrs rather than deny the truth of Christ’s resurrection. The fact that so many early disciples died as martyrs based on what they personally witnessed only bolsters the reality that it was true.
4. The Bible cared about what women thought at a time when no one else did.
The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (Matt. 28:1; Mark 16:1–2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1) make it a point to tell us that the first people to report that the tomb of Jesus was empty were women. Not men. Women. In the first century, a woman’s opinion was not viewed as credible testimony in court. (Just read the Jewish historian, Josephus, or the Jewish Talmud to verify this fact.) A woman’s opinion didn’t matter. But the Bible says it does. The last group of people we would expect to find the empty tomb was the first group to whom God looked and used: women.
If first-century followers of Christ were going to fabricate a story about Jesus rising from the dead, they wouldn’t want to include this embarrassing detail about women finding the tomb first. They would have omitted it to make the strongest case possible for the resurrection. And yet, the Gospel writers did not omit this detail. They told the truth as it was. We can trust that the Bible is true because they included this small but magnificent detail. They recounted what happened truthfully, without bearing false witness. Other ancients might have pointed to its seeming absurdity: “You say women found the tomb? What a bunch of baloney! Never trust a woman’s testimony!” Yet, the Bible was way ahead of its time in giving honor and respect to women.
5. If Jesus Christ rose from the dead, then the Bible is true.
Christianity is the only religion founded by a leader who predicted his resurrection before he died, and whose earliest followers also died confessing and believing this fact. If the tomb was empty and the resurrection makes the most sense for why Jesus’ body went missing, then Jesus is still alive today. It means that Jesus is God and is Lord of the entire cosmos. He—God—Jesus—runs the show.
The Gospel accounts tell us that after his resurrection, Jesus spent some time with his disciples and then appeared to numerous others. Among those blessed ones to whom he appeared were two on the road to Emmaus. To these two, Jesus didn’t appeal to the fact that he was now resurrected. He appealed to the Bible as his source of authority. He didn’t say, “Hey, look at my glorious resurrection body!” but he directed their attention to the very Word of God (Luke 24:13–35). And then he proved he was not a ghost by eating bread and drinking wine with them—communing with them (v. 35).
If the risen Lord first appealed to the Bible to convince these disciples to believe in him, we also have a good incentive to trust the credibility of these manuscripts and scrolls that are now translated into what we know as the Bible. Jesus was willing to submit himself, even as the resurrected Lord of the universe, to the words that are revealed in this book. In doing so, he taught us something. He taught us that God’s Word is true and dependable. Again, if Jesus is God—if he is risen—that means something! It means that the Bible must be right. It must be trustworthy or else God himself is a liar. And we know that’s not true.
Article by Justin Peters (original source here)
Is God still in the miracle business? There is an entire swath of professing Christianity that would answer that question with a resounding and enthusiastic, “Yes.” The Word-Faith and New Apostolic Reformation movements (WF/NAR) are twin movements that, though there be a bit of distinction between them, have far more in common with one another and, in fact, they are today essentially melding into one. They both teach that there are modern day Apostles, that Christians are entitled to guaranteed physical healing and financial prosperity, and that signs and wonders are to be a normative part of the believer’s life. Though this author holds that these movements are doctrinally heretical and teach a different gospel,such serious concerns are beyond the scope of this article. We will focus here specifically on whether or not their claims of the continuance of modern day signs and wonders are valid.
What is a Miracle?
We should begin by defining exactly what a miracle is because this is a term that is often misunderstood and misused even by theologically conservative believers with a high view of Scripture. A miracle is “an observable phenomenon effected by the direct operation of God’s power, an arresting deviation from the ordinary sequence of nature, a deviation calculated to beget faith-begetting awe, a divine in-breaking which authenticates a revelational agent.”In other words, a miracle is an act performed by God that is an indisputable change in natural law that validates one of His revelatory messengers.
There is an important distinction we must make between a miracle and God’s providence. Floating ax heads, parting seas, talking donkeys, fire from Heaven, and resurrections from the deadare miracles. The Lord snatching Philip away (Acts 8: 39) is a miracle whereas fortuitously running into someone who lends us aid is not. A man lame for 38 years suddenly walking is a miracle (John 5:1-9), but slowly recovering from cancer is not. We should give thanks to God for sending us people to lend aid and we should give thanks when one recovers from a disease (even when one does not recover from a disease!), but such things are not to be called miracles. Rather, they are acts of God’s good Providence.
Were Miracles Common?
Many have this idea that God was performing miracles all the time throughout the Bible. We think that had we been living in biblical times we would be seeing God perform one miracle after another. Such is not the case, though. For one, if miracles were commonplace then they would cease to be, well, miraculous. More definitively, though, is that even in biblical days miracles were quite rare events. Consider this: Between Adam and Moses, about 2500 years passed with precisely zero miracles. Then Moses and Joshua arrived and performed a dozen or so miracles. After they passed from the scene another 500 years passed with no miracles until the arrival of Elijah and Elisha who performed another handful of miracles. There then commenced another multi-century long drought of the miraculous (and of God even speaking) until the ministries of Jesus and His discipleswho between them, for a few decades, performed many miracles. With the closing of the Apostolic age until now there has been no one who can credibly claim to perform miracles. So, for the 6000 year or so history of mankind less than 200 of those years saw any miracles performed and only by 100 or fewer individuals. Surprised?
The Purpose of Miracles
Many professing Christians today believe that God performs miracles for our own benefit. If someone is sick, God desires to heal that person and would gladly do so if that person only has enough faith. The clear teaching from Scripture, however, is that God does not primarily perform miracles for the benefit of a particular individual. Rather, when God performed miracles He did so with the primary purpose of authenticating one of His messengers. The miracles of the Old Testament authenticated Moses and the prophets as coming from Yahweh and also showed Him as the one true God over pagan deities. The miracles of the New Testament authenticated Jesus as the Messiah and the Apostles as His spokesmen.
Individuals certainly benefited from the healing miracles of Jesus, but these acts were always done to authenticate Who He was and to affirm His divine mission to atone for sins. Jesus certainly had compassion on the sick, but their physical comfort took a distant back seat to his concern for their spiritual well-being. He knew their greatest need was not healing from sickness and disease but from sin.
Are there Apostles Today?
Given that after Jesus was resurrected and ascended into Heaven it was primarily His Apostles who performed signs and wonders,a crucial question to ask regarding the continuance of the Apostolic gifts is, “Are there modern day Apostles?”
In order to be an Apostle a man had to meet three requirements:
1) He had to be an eye witness of the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ
2) He had to be directly appointed by Christ to be an Apostleand
3) He had to be able to perform the signs and wonders of an Apostle.
None of the men who saw Jesus raised from the dead are around anymore. They have all been in Heaven now for almost 2000 years. This takes care of the first two requirements. As for the third, no one can do what the Apostles did. No one. No one today can heal the sick and raise the dead as did the Apostles. A careful reading of Scripture shows that the ability to perform signs and wonders were unique to the Apostles even in the days of Acts.
Consider Acts 2:43, “Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place among the Apostles.” Notice that the signs and wonders were being done by the Apostles. Acts 5:12 is even more clear, “At the hands of the Apostles many signs and wonders were taking place among the people.” Notice the specificity and clarity of the Holy Spirit as He inspires God’s Word. The signs and wonders were being performed “at the hands of the Apostles” who were “among the people.” Signs and wonders were simply not being performed by Christians at large, but by the Apostles and there are no more Apostles today. Period. Continue reading
Article: At What Price Awakening? Examining the Theology and Practice of the Bethel Movement by Stephen Tan, pastor and church planter at Regeneration Church in Monash, Melbourne (regeneration.org.au).
Found at this link.
Today the issues of homosexuality, transgenderism and all of the other labels that accompany them are standing at the door of the church demanding to be heard. Drs. James White and Michael Brown confront these issues gently and with reverence as they debate Pastor Deweyne Robinson and Rev. Ruth Jensen-Forbell on the question of how a bible believing people is to give an answer. This debate took place at the Switzerland Community Church in St. Johns, Florida on September 8, 2018.