The Myth of Dying and Rising Gods

Jesus Is Not A Copy Of Pagan Gods

Reasons for Jesus: In this video we address the claim that the story of Jesus was a knock-off, plagiarism, or amalgamation of other ‘dying and rising gods’ of the pagan world. Zeitgeist, Religulous, and sensationalist blogs online often state that the person of Christ is just a mishmash of stories that came before him. Jesus is often compared to Horus, Mithra, Dionysus, and others, and it is said that the early Christians adopted these stories and incorporated them into their formulation of the story of Jesus Christ. This idea is not taken seriously by academic scholars.

“The alleged parallels between Jesus and the “pagan” savior-gods in most instances reside in the modern imagination: We do not have accounts of others who were born to virgin mothers and who died as an atonement for sin and then were raised from the dead (despite what the sensationalists claim ad nauseum in their propagandized versions).” – Bart Ehrman, Atheist Professor of Religious Studies at UNC

The Eclipse of God

In an eclipse, there is not an unveiling of something but the obscuring of reality. Isn’t that interesting? Many people right at this very moment are scrambling to look up into the heavens (with protective glasses on, because they cannot look directly) to actually see less than what is normally available to see.

An eclipse does not destroy anything, it merely hides it, covers it over, or puts a shadow on it. In the professing Church there has been a willful concealing of the true character of God and many turn out in their droves to hear of this lesser God. Unwilling to put up with sound doctrine, they heap up to themselves teachers who will tell them what their itching ears wish to hear (2 Tim. 4:3).

God has not been impacted at all, but we have cast a shadow over His character, so to speak. God is not a buffet line of options where we get to choose which attributes we wish to embrace and those we feel we can leave to the side. There’s a biblical word for that kind of exercise, “idolatry.”

May the falsehoods be put away and let us see Him as He really is, as He has revealed Himself through the word of God.

Isaiah 6:1 In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”
4 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”
6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”
8 And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”

Selah.

Illegitimate Reasons For Divorce

Article by Tim Challies, “10 Common but Illegitimate Reasons to Divorce” – original source here.

It is clear in the Bible that God’s intention for marriage is that it remain in effect until the death of one spouse. I believe it is also quite clear that God has provided a limited set of circumstances in which a marriage can legitimately be severed. However, many people—even Christians—offer reasons to divorce that are not sanctioned by God. Jim Newheiser helpfully outlines a number of these in his book Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage: Critical Questions and Answers.

Here are 10 common but illegitimate reasons to divorce.

1. “My spouse isn’t a Christian,” or “I wasn’t a Christian when I married my spouse.” Nowhere in the Bible is this seen as grounds for divorce. In 1 Corinthians 7:12-13 Paul very clearly urges men and women in such situations not to divorce their unbelieving spouse. In 1 Peter 3:1-2 women married to unbelievers are called to “be subject to their own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives.” Rather than seeking for an opportunity to get out of the relationship, Christians are told to seek for opportunities to share their faith with their unbelieving spouse.

2. “We weren’t married in a church.” Matthew 19:6 renders this an illegitimate excuse when it says, “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Marriage is sanctioned by God and is not dependent on the context in which those vows were made. Regardless of where you were married or who married you, if you have made a covenant of marriage, the Lord expects you to keep it.

3. “I need to get out of this marriage for the sake of my kids.” This is, of course, a justifiable concern, but one that Paul does not neglect to address. In 1 Corinthians 7:14 he says, “For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.” According to Paul, here is another opportunity to endure for the sake of the gospel, so that your children, too, may see your godly example of faith. However, in the case that your spouse poses a threat of danger, be it emotional or physical abuse, your children’s safety is a priority.

4. “My spouse is a huge disappointment.” “He is a loser (poor provider).” “She hasn’t taken care of herself physically.” “I would have never married this person if I had known what I was getting myself into.” “I deserve better.” Even the best of marriages may enter lulls where thoughts like these remain prevalent for periods of time. Marriage can be hard. Your spouse may grieve or disappoint you greatly. However, this is not a legitimate excuse to bolt, but an opportunity outdo him or her in love (Romans 12:10), to grow in trust in the God who ordained your marriage (Proverbs 3:5-6), and to reflect the faithfulness of God until the very end (Matthew 25:23).

5. “We are no longer in love.” If God commands us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44), we can love our spouse, even if we can’t muster those romantic feelings that once defined the dating or honeymoon phases. The marriage covenant is binding until death, not until one or both of you falls out of love. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “It is no longer your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love.” When you love your spouse out of obedience to Christ, trust that God can help it grow from the heart and restore the romance that’s been lost.

6. “I married the wrong person,” or “We were too young.” Perhaps your marriage was built on a foundation of sand. Maybe your spouse does not meet your present criteria for a godly husband or wife. That does not mean that your soul mate is still out there waiting for you. The idea of a soul mate is not rooted in anything scriptural. The person God intended for you is the person you are with now. If you are struggling with these thoughts, you would do well to confess any sin of disobedience or foolishness before God (1 John 1:8), receive God’s forgiveness, and continue in the assurance that God works all things together for our good (Romans 8:28).

7. “I owe it to myself to be happy. God wouldn’t want me to be unhappy.” There is a crucial difference between worldly happiness and godly happiness. The first is dependent on circumstance, the latter prevails in spite of circumstance. The Westminster Shorter Catechism states, “man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.” God cares deeply about our eternal happiness! The darkest seasons of marriage can tempt you to despair as the happiest and healthiest marriages around you shine even more brightly, but true happiness in God pushes through those seasons to thank God for any sufferings you may face for his glory (1 Peter 2:21).

8. My marriage is a constant struggle. In any of the above cases, believers can be faithful to the vows that they made even if their marriage is a struggle. If you believe that you can be happier outside of the will of God, then you are captive to a lie crafted by Satan. Do you really want to pit yourself against the sovereignty and wisdom of God? Galatians 6:7 says, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” It is better to struggle through marriage than to defy God by breaking the marriage covenant.

9. “All my friends say that I ought to leave him/her.” Even friends with the best of intentions can lead you astray. This is why it is important to commit yourself to the full counsel of God in his word, allowing that to become your ultimate counsellor, no matter what differing opinions you hear elsewhere. This is also why it is so important to choose your friends wisely and to stay away from bad company (Psalm 1:1, 1 Corinthians 15:33). Surround yourself with people whose wisdom is grounded in biblical truth.

10. “God will forgive me.” Apostle Paul directly addresses this in Romans 6:1-2: “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” Our God is full of grace, but that should not cause us to take advantage of it by being bound to sin. Instead, it should cause us to live in the freedom of his will, desirous of keeping his commands. Christ died so that we would no longer be slaves to sin but slaves to righteousness. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commands” (John 14:15). If you truly love Christ, you will not separate “what God has joined together” (Mark 10:9).

The Word is Alive!

Text: Hebrews 4:12,13

Contrary the claims of the charismatic movement that the Bible is just a dead book in desperate need of the Holy Spirit’s life, it is very much alive, powerful, energetic, dynamic and sharper than any human instrument ever made. It is always at work in human hearts whenever it is encountered.

Also discussed is a biblical understanding of “logos” and “rhema.”

Saints Preserved!

“Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” – 1 Thess. 5:23-24

These verses are regularly quoted and yet their meaning and ramifications are often times overlooked.

Here’s what the text teaches: The process of the complete sanctification of the elect is God’s work from start to finish and it will happen.

There is no doubt that Paul’s desire for God to preserve them (“kept blameless” ESV, “preserved complete” NASB, “kept sound and blameless” CSB) in sanctification at the coming of our Lord Jesus, speaks of the sanctification process resulting in the full glorification of the saint, which is the very end goal of salvation. The very opposite of this, in contrast, would be for this process to stop somewhere along the way somehow and a person to be ultimately lost forever.

Notice that Paul anchors this hope and desire, not in an appeal to the will and action of the saint but in the will and action of God Himself.

Then notice further that Paul is not merely hopeful of this end result, but he is certain of it. He grounds this future certainty not in the activity and performance of the saint, but in God’s faithfulness. The sure foundation of this hope is God’s commitment to fulfill His promises and to do all that is necessary for this to happen. The One who calls is faithful to complete the work. The saints persevere because God preserves and keeps His own.

He is faithful, and He will do it.

The Five Solas: Letters, Endorsements & Recommendations

THE FIVE SOLAS – Standing Together, Alone by John Samson

LETTERS TO JOHN:

Dr. R.C. Sproul, President of Ligonier Ministries recently wrote the following words: “You have succinctly distilled the essence of the ‘solas.’ May God mightily use your book for His glory. Thank you for the encouragement in the Gospel you have brought me.”

Pastor Tim Howard, Eastford Baptist Church, Eastford, Connecticut wrote: “Honestly, I cannot tell you how much I loved your book! As a pastor who is desperately trying to lead my people into a greater understanding of Scripture and how they relate to these glorious truths of the Reformation, this book is such a valuable tool. In New England pews, there is a strong sentiment even among Biblical evangelical churches towards Rome. Many fail to see the damaging effects of their theology, mostly out of ignorance of what separated Rome from true Biblical Christianity during the Reformation, summed up in the five solas. Therefore having a tool like this book that is clear, concise and most importantly, soaked with Scripture’s truth helps tremendously in teaching my people in a way that is not intimidating. I have found that laymen who are not accustomed to reading large, thick, old and difficult works will simply never read them, no matter how highly and passionately you encourage them. Your book however, provides something that a layman will not only be more inclined to read, but also understand. I can tell you purposely left out many of the Reformed “buzz words” that can turn off a layman who may not be as familiar with the terminology. As a pastor, my priority is shepherding and growing my people, but finding materials that are usable in the context of a reforming church is a very tough thing. This is why I am so thankful for your book and I am looking forward to seeing how God will utilize it in the lives of my people! I plan on buying a case of them to give away at my church and would highly recommend that any pastor who is seeking to lead their congregation into a greater understanding of these glorious truths do the same!”

ENDORSEMENTS:

“Get this book! Then get several more to share with your friends and family. John Samson has the remarkable ability to communicate essential truths with an undeniable passion and faithfulness that is winsome, clear, and devastating to the opposition. The people of God in this generation are in need of these old truths: the same truths that transformed the early church and led our heroes (throughout history) into living lives that changed the world. Go sell 100 of your vapid, modern Evangellyfish books and turn that money into getting this book into the hearts and minds of Christians everywhere.” – Jeff Durbin, Pastor, Apologia Church, Tempe, Arizona

“Some authors make you read three chapters before getting to the first point in their outline. If you wish to understand the foundation of the solas of the Reformation but would like to do so in under an hour, John Samson provides you with the basics right here.” – Dr. James White, Alpha & Omega Ministries, Phoenix, Arizona

“Recent years have seen a number of key anniversaries connected with events and people who were vital catalysts in the Protestant Reformation. Thankfully this has resulted in a renewed focus on the ‘five solas’–a convenient shorthand list of the Reformers’ key convictions. Throughout church history, wherever these principles have been stressed and adhered to, the church has always flourished. So it is a highly encouraging trend. I’m thankful for this excellent book by John Samson; a cogent, focused, and accessible study of the solas that not only reminds us what these principles mean, but also shows us why they are important–and why they must stand together.” – Phil Johnson, Executive Director, Grace to You

“This is such a crucial topic; and having read many pieces written on the five solas, this one stands out for not only being theologically sound, but also clear and concise. It is written in a way that just about anyone could pick up and understand. I am thankful that God has raised up his servant John Samson for this deeply needed work; a work we ought to get into the hands of as many people as possible.” – John Hendryx, monergism.com

“Part celebration and part exposition, Pastor John Samson has provided a brief and readable introduction to the grand framing truths of the Reformation. In this timely little work, Samson particularly emphasizes how the five “Onlies” magnify God’s complete and gracious work of salvation in Jesus Christ — of which we learn in Scripture alone, which we find in Christ alone and enjoy by grace alone, through faith alone, to the glory of God alone! As a bonus, Samson not only concisely shows the radiance of each, but also the interrelationship of the whole. Pastors will find this a very useful introductory work for use in ministry.” – Dan Phillips, Pastor, Copperfield Bible Church, Houston, Texas

“As a lover of the theology of the Reformation, I appreciate this introduction into its key themes. As a pastor who thinks practically, I appreciate the accessibility and brevity of this tool for getting this theology into the hands of the average person in the pew. I hope this resource is used to introduce many to the rich theological heritage of the Reformers and that it leads to them digging deeper into that heritage.” – Steve Weaver, Pastor, Farmdale Baptist Church, Frankfort, Kentucky

At Solid Ground Christian Books, the publisher writes:

John Samson begins this vitally important work with the following few paragraphs. These are provided to whet your appetite for more –

“Light dispels darkness. When the light of God’s Word shines into places of spiritual and cultural darkness, it transforms people, families and nations. It does not matter how long the darkness has persisted; when light appears, darkness, like a hostile, renegade, usurper to the throne, must submit, bow its head, and walk away in shame. Again, light dispels darkness. The entrance of God’s word brings light!

Darkness is the shared experience of a people without light. Such was the case before the Protestant Reformation. The Bible was not known. In its place, religious superstition, tradition and falsehood reigned. The Reformation brought God’s word and the Gospel back into the hands of the masses.

Man-made traditions that had kept the people in bondage for centuries were now exposed for what they really were. Entire nations, held captive by the powers of darkness, were now exposed to the truth. Dramatic change occurred. Outside the book of Acts in the New Testament, there has not been a greater move of the Holy Spirit in the history of the church. Our world would never be the same. A Latin phrase, ‘Post tenebras lux’ captured the enfolding, historical drama, meaning, ‘After darkness, light!’

As the Bible came to be read in the common language of the people, the great central truths the Bible proclaimed were recovered, often at great cost to those who came to embrace them.

The Reformation recovered and highlighted glorious Scriptural truths which have been expressed in five memorable phrases, now known as the Five Solas. Properly understood, these Five Solas bring us back to the very heart of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Available for purchase at this link.

The Continental Divide of Theology

This excerpt is adapted from Foundations of Grace by Steven J. Lawson.

Through the western regions of North America, there runs an imaginary geographic line that determines the flow of streams into oceans. It is known as the Continental Divide. Ultimately, precipitation falling on the east side of this great divide will flow into the Atlantic Ocean. Likewise, water falling on the western slopes of this line will surge in the opposite direction until it finally empties into the Pacific Ocean. Needless to say, a vast continent separates these immense bodies of water.

It is seemingly far-fetched to ponder that a raindrop falling atop a mountain in Colorado will flow to the Pacific, while another drop, falling but a short distance away, will flow into the Atlantic. Nevertheless, once the water pours down on a particular side of this great divide, its path is determined and its direction is unchangeable.

Geography is not the only place we find a great divide. There is a high ground that runs through church history as well—a Continental Divide of theology. This great divide of doctrine separates two distinctly different streams of thought that flow in opposite directions. To be specific, this determinative high ground is one’s theology of God, man, and salvation. This is the highest of all thought, and it divides all doctrine into two schools.

Historically, these two ways of thinking about God and His saving grace have been called by various names. Some have identified them as Augustinianism and Pelagianism. Others have named them Calvinism and Arminianism. Still others have defined them as Reformed and Catholic, while others have used the terms predestination and free will. But by whatever name, these streams are determined by the Continental Divide of theology.

This metaphorical divide differs from the geographical Continental Divide in one key respect. Whereas streams flowing west and east of the Rocky Mountains descend gradually to the plains and lowlands where they meet the oceans, the terrain on the two sides of the doctrinal divide is quite different. On one side we find solid highlands of truth. On the other side there are precipitous slopes of half-truths and full error.

Over the centuries, seasons of reformation and revival in the church have come when the sovereign grace of God has been openly proclaimed and clearly taught. When a high view of God has been infused into the hearts and minds of God’s people, the church has sat on the elevated plateaus of transcendent truth. This lofty ground is Calvinism—the high ground for the church. The lofty truths of divine sovereignty provide the greatest and grandest view of God. The doctrines of grace serve to elevate the entire life of the church.

The great Princeton theologian Benjamin Breckenridge Warfield, writing more than a century ago, perceptively noted, “The world should realize with increased clearness that Evangelicalism stands or falls with Calvinism.” At first glance, this stunning statement may appear to be an exaggeration, even hyperbole. But the more it is weighed, the more one discerns that evangelicalism—that part of the body of Christ that rightly adheres to the inerrancy of Scripture, the total depravity of man, and the sovereignty of God in all aspects of life—always needs the doctrines of sovereign grace to anchor it to the high ground. For without the theological teachings of Reformed truth concerning God’s sovereignty in man’s salvation, the church is weakened and made vulnerable, soon to begin an inevitable decline into baser beliefs, whether she realizes it or not.

Whenever the church becomes increasingly man-centered, she begins the downhill slide, often without recovery, and always to her detriment. Once yielding the high ground of Calvinism, a self-absorbed church puts its full weight onto the slippery slope of Arminianism, resulting in a loss of its foundational stability. Tragically, however, the descent rarely stops there. Historically, man-centered doctrine has served only as a catalyst for an even greater fall.

Rappelling down the slippery slopes of Arminianism, one is soon to find the church sinking deeper and deeper into a murky quagmire of heretical ideas. Such a descent inevitably gives way to liberalism, the utter rejection of the absolute authority of Scripture. From liberalism—given enough time— the church always plunges yet lower into ecumenism, that deadly philosophy that embraces all religions as having some part of the truth. Continuing this downward spiral, the church plummets into universalism, the damning belief that all men eventually will be saved. Yet worse, universalism gives way to agnosticism, a degenerate view that one cannot even know whether there is a God. Finally, the church falls into the deepest abyss—the hellish flames of atheism, the belief that there is no God.

Never has the need been greater for the truths of sovereign grace to be firmly established in the church. Her thinking about God desperately needs to be flowing in the right direction.

As the church thinks, so she worships; and, as the church worships, so she lives, serves, and evangelizes. The church’s right view of God and the outworking of His grace gives shape to everything that is vital and important. The church must recapture her lofty vision of God and, thereby, be anchored to the solid rock of His absolute supremacy in all things. Only then will the church have a God-centered orientation in all matters of ministry. This, I believe, is the desperate need of the hour.

The Other Side of the Rainbow

The other side of the rainbow – Millie Fontana’s story.

Millie is the daughter of lesbians and reveals here why she is against same-sex marriage.

Other than an assumption of evolution in the speech, this is a quite amazing and brave testimony of what it is like to be raised in a lesbian home. Her voice should not be silenced in our society.

The Test Of Our Profession

“If there was a drawn sword pointed to my breast and Christ at the other end of it, if I had no other way to be at Him and with Him, I would run myself upon it to be at Him and with Him forever: for He is my life, my heaven, and my all.” – Rev. Thomas Hog

(The test of our profession is the value, worth and preciousness of the Lord Jesus Christ to us. The mere professor would feel happy in heaven even if Christ is not there, whereas the true believer would rather suffer the torments of hell with Christ than be in heaven without Him. Christ is the greatest treasure of the true believer’s heart.)

“If anyone does not love the Lord, he is to be accursed. Maranatha.” – 1 Corinthians 16:22 (NASB)