What the Bible says about light and seed

The True Light "In him, (the Lord Jesus) was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world,…the world didn’t recognize him." John 1:4,9.

The Good Seed and the Weeds “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seeds in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. Matthew 13:24,25.

Friday, July 7, 2017

"DEAD" DOESN'T MEAN INNATE MORAL INABILITY - Dr. Leighton Flowers

 Reposted from Soteriology101 FB page

Let's look at the uses of the term "DEAD" in the scripture for you to decide:

1) Jesus called the church in Sardis "DEAD" and called them to wake up.

2) The Prodigal was "DEAD/lost" then "alive/found" demonstrating that the term "DEAD" is idiomatic for "separated by rebellion" not "innate moral inability"

3) “When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”
‭‭James‬ ‭1:13-15‬ ‭
Are we born "DEAD" according to James? Or is DEATH birthed in those who sin after its full grown? 

4) “What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting. For apart from the law, sin was dead. Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭7:7-11‬ ‭

Are we born "DEAD" according to Paul? Or was it through the commandment, after "sin sprang to life" that DEATH came?

5) “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭2:1-3, 6‬ 


This passage says nothing about how or when they died, nor does it relate their condition to any type of innate moral inability. It does say God raised them up with Christ. Is this meant to represent the special inner work of regeneration which effectually causes them to believe after they are raised up? Let's observe what else Paul says about being raised up in Christ.
“In Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which *you were also raised up with Him through faith* in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions” (Col. 2:11-13).

They were raised up THROUGH FAITH, not unto faith according to Paul.
Calvinists have the burden to produce just one clear biblical example of the term "DEAD" meaning "the moral incapacity to respond willingly to God from birth."
The strongest rebuttal I've heard to this argument thus far is "Leighton, you just don't think dead means dead!"

In reality, I'm looking for the actual biblical meaning of this term while Calvinists seem to be presuming theirs.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

No Other Way - Pr. Ray Stedman

Reposted from Daily Devotions - raystedman.org
But this is to fulfill the scripture: He who shares my bread has lifted up his heel against me. I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am He. I tell you the truth, . . . whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me (John 13:18b-20).
The contrast here is between the knowledge of Jesus and the ignorant unbelief of Judas. Jesus knew from the Scriptures that one among those close to Him would betray Him, and He knew from the beginning which one it would be. But Judas didn't know that. Judas was ignorantly following the greed of his own heart, and he was resisting every effort Jesus made to reach him. Now he was on the verge of that final act of rejection that would plunge him over the precipice into utter and complete disaster.

In the next paragraph you see that described--how he took the sop from Jesus' hand, and that was the final chance he had. When he did, Satan entered into him, and Judas was no longer his own master. But Jesus indicates that He understands what will happen. He says, I'm telling you this before it happens, so when it does, you will know I am the one this Scripture describes. Judas, on the other hand, didn't know what was happening to him or how he had fallen into Satan's snare and now was at the brink of disaster. You can see how these two stand opposed one to another. Jesus sacrificed Himself in order to save His disciples; Judas sacrificed Jesus in order to save himself. Those two philosophies dominate the world today.

In this final appeal. Jesus is directing a word to the holders of these two basic attitudes, Truly, truly, I say to you, he who receives any one whom I send receives me. That is a word to us, that when someone comes to wash our feet, to help us with some problem of sin in our life, we are to remember that this person is sent by Jesus. Therefore, it is He who is offering to wash our feet. And we are not to resent this ministry from others. But we are to remember what Jesus says, He who receives any one whom I send, receives me.
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Pastor Lauds Liberation Theology by Bashing Atonement

Reposted from juicyecumenism.com

The Middle East has always been an excellent place to examine the explosive relationship of competing political interests and religious identities. Specifically, it makes an excellent case study in examining how competing convictions influence or interfere with one’s interpretation of Scripture.

On April 21, 2017, Pastor Mitri Raheb, the Palestinian Senior Pastor of a Lutheran church in Bethlehem, spoke at St. Olaf College on the relationship between religion and politics in the Middle East. His comments indicate the growing danger of letting identity politics (manifest under the guise of liberation theology) determine one’s interpretation of Scripture.

During his talk, Raheb primarily focused on interpreting recent Israeli/Palestinian events and Bible passages through the Liberation Theology point of view. Liberation theology misconstrues Scripture and the surrounding world by emphasizing the pursuit of political ends and means to achieve complete social equity.

Contextualizing his lecture, Pastor Raheb began by comparing the Jewish government to Saddam Hussein’s authoritarian dictatorship in Iraq. He accused Israel of using religious texts to secure domestic sovereignty and feign legitimacy in the international community. He then proceeded to label fellow Christians as “Zionists” who were “sent” by the Jews to defend their state under the pretext of horrifically misguided eschatology while they callously ignore the plight of the Palestinian people.

Turning then to Scripture, Raheb offered his own interpretation of Jesus’ death on the cross (emphasis added):
“We have for too long tried to spiritualize the notion of liberation in the Bible. We’ve replaced liberation with salvation and the cross became nothing but atonement. I think we have to put the cross in its original context of political and religious violence…. The cross is a permanent reminder of the millions of people who are persecuted either by the state or by the religious establishment because they raise their prophetic critique to an unjust ruler or to a corrupt form of religion.”
It’s not often that a self-proclaimed Christian uses the phrase “nothing but atonement” with a pejorative connotation. Atonement by Jesus Christ was the single greatest act of self-sacrificial love the world has ever known. It satisfied around four thousand years of prophecy and a covenant made by the living infinite God who chose to make Himself known to a fallen, finite creation. Thinkers, writers, and philosophers alike have pontificated on atonement for hundreds of years. Jesus died a humiliating, excruciating death on the cross at the hands of both Jewish and Roman people because that was how it was prophesied in the Old Testament (e.g., Psalm 22:16-18, Isaiah 53).

Paul was very clear in Romans 6:3-7 when he stated that the cross was meant to liberate God’s people from the tyranny of sin and death. Or again in Romans 8:3, “By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and concerning sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,” implying that the cross was the ultimate defeat of eternal slavery to sin.

Raheb concluded his defense of liberation theology by interpreting the Pentecost story in Acts 2 as a celebration of diversity because the disciples were able to speak in visitors’ native tongues. A simple glance over this passage shows that this assertion is simply not true. The disciples were given the ability to speak in many different languages (in the first case of multilingual evangelism) to the Jews who had not yet heard the good news. The Jewish people with their different languages and nationalities were united under their common ethnic and religious background. There is no normative indication anywhere in the passage that would indicate that “diversity is strength,” as Rahab argues.

I agree with Mitri Raheb’s approach to observe modern conflict in a political and religious light. One cannot and should not separate the two for fear of oversimplifying, misunderstanding, and misdiagnosing one of the longest running conflicts in human history. But Mr. Raheb’s identity politics and liberation theology have done just that.

Raheb wove an implicit line of logic throughout the whole lecture: because modern Jewish people are not the ancient Israelites of the Bible, they have no “spiritual” claim over contested Palestinian land. And since ancient Israel’s only purpose was to prepare for the Messiah, there is no need for a Jewish state anymore. Any argument to preserve a physical Jewish state would, therefore, be a Zionist misinterpretation of prophecy and an act of oppression to the Palestinian people.

Pastor Raheb has allowed his political identity as a Palestinian to precede and outweigh his identity as a Christian. This became evident in how he blatantly ignores huge portions of Scripture and facts to support his case for liberation theology.

I will not waste the readers’ time in recounting the “New Zionist” position, but rather direct them to a better defense of it than I could provide in this limited space (or a fascinating read if they so desire). Without dissecting the details, Israel, and more importantly, the Jewish people remain an integral part of God’s redeeming plan for the world, but without implying that the Lord is waiting on us to immanentize the eschaton.
Several facts stand in defiance of Pastor Raheb’s assertions. First, geneticists have revealed evidence that modern Jewish people are in fact descendants of the ancient Israelites of the Bible. Distinct Jewish people groups from all over the world share genetic legacy (not just cultural or religious identity) originating in the Middle East dating back 2,000 years.

And if one believes in the inerrancy and timelessness of Scripture, it would be hard to ignore the numerous passages that indicate that the second coming of Christ will involve a unified Jewish state (Zech. 12:5-9, Luke 13:34-35, and Romans 9 & 11 to name a few).

It is only through God’s outpouring and overflowing of grace onto the Jewish people that Gentiles are also given grace by extension (Romans 1:16). The same grace available to the Jews is available to the Palestinians. Yet Pastor Raheb seems to be so caught up in idolizing his own primary identity as a Palestinian that his view and reception of grace have been warped.

That is the greatest danger of identity politics. Though identities are personally meaningful and powerful in shaping worldviews, they are immaterial in the eternal light of salvation. Liberation theology, specifically, seeks to undermine salvation and spiritual needs by replacing them with material needs and social vendetta.

The relationship between religion and politics is a tangled one. It is often hard to define where one stops and the other starts (or whether the two ought to be mixed at all). But what is undeniable is that if you’re going to claim Christianity as your religion, it must be your first and most important identity. Any party identity, political belief, or doctrinal interpretation must always be filtered through the ultimate and omniscient authority found in the Holy Bible. There will never be a characteristic that can outshine the salvation bestowed by grace alone.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Peace of Mind in Perilous Times - Pete Garcia

Reposted from omegaletter.com 
Prophecy - Signs
Monday, September 15, 2014
Pete Garcia

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!  ~ Isaiah 5:20

It used to be, that people didn’t need to lock their doors at night, or worry about someone stealing a bike from their front yard.  You didn’t use to need to worry about your kids walking to the store by themselves, or just being out all day playing until dinner time.  You didn’t need to worry about whether your government was spying on you.  You trusted the banks to do with your money, what they said they would.  If bad guys did bad things, they were caught and went to jail (and for a long time).  You had a national border that actually stopped, or at least, limited the amount of unknowns coming into your country.  At one point in your life, you had faith in the system. 

But what we’ve seen in the last 25 years in the United States, is a rapid and aggressive acceleration into a national decline in almost every sector.  We have effectively transitioned from a producer-nation, to a service based nation.  We have rapidly transitioned from a creditor nation, to a debtor nation.  We have justified to ourselves (vis-à-vis an ever rising debt ceiling), the current level of sky rocketing debt we currently find ourselves in.  Time honored cultural and religious institutions are being turned on their head.  Marriage is no longer just between a man and a woman.  Children don’t necessarily need to come from only two parents.   Science is quickly outpacing the ethical boundaries that prevent the abuse of those technologies. 

Globally…Ebola, Bird Flu, Swine Flu, and a half dozen other diseases are but hairbreadth away from becoming pandemic.  Strange animal die-offs are occurring at alarming rates.  The radioactive fallout from Fukushima pollution of the Pacific has begun to change the face of life in the world’s largest ocean.  ISIS, Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Boko Haram, and many other Islamic terror groups are rampaging across the 10/40 window, leaving a trail of carnage in their wake.  Crime and murder have all but seized our city centers, which in turn has driven the law abiding citizen, further and further out of it. 
But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good  2 Timothy 3:1-3
The norms and basic civil decencies are being turned on their head.  Ethnic tensions are on the rise globally, but none so alarmingly as they are right here in the US, where black inner-city mobs ‘knocking-out’ or beating up non-black persons, is seemingly becoming common place.  The media are reluctant or outright afraid to call things what they are, and ‘hate crime’ is seemingly only reserved for those ‘dangerous’ Tea Party types.  Right is wrong, up is down, black is white, and evil is good…and it’s only getting worse.  Notice how the Apostle Paul’s words are ringing truer and truer by the day.  Things are not getting better, but are getting progressively worse.  And now that we find ourselves in these very times he spoke of, are we surprised that they are anything less than what the Bible said they would be? 

Assessment
Not many years ago, it was really hard to find things to dig up to prove that we are in fact, in the last moments of the last days.  Such is not the case in 2014, where so much is happening, on so many fronts, that it makes your head hurt just thinking about it.  It would be really easy to get discouraged with all that’s transpired since 9/11/01 and conclude we must already be in the Tribulation in some form or fashion.  Maybe that is why positions like Pre-Wrath and Post-Tribulation positions seem to be growing at more rapid rates within Eschatological circles.  It is natural to assume, that when things take a turn for the worse, we must be in one or more of the judgments.  For instance…

The other day I was scanning the news when I came across an article talking about the pros and cons of the new RFID technology.  It had a long laundry list of potential benefits that it could have constructive impacts to many of the aforementioned problems we are currently experiencing in this nation.  For instance, it could help prevent crime, track predators, protect property, and prevent identity theft.  But at the end of the article, it asks the question of whether or not it’s ethical, and whether it has the potential for abuse.  I thought that was a rather silly question, considering all we know now about the abuses of government thus far, over privacy and what not.  But I liken it to the pre and post mindset people had before and after 9/11. 

Before 9/11, Americans would have never allowed the Patriot Acts to pass through the halls of Congress.  But afterwards, because of fear, it seemed like a very logical thing to do and it was pushed through at break-neck speed.  Now that it is in force, its tentacles of intrusion have only ever grown in its scope and depth as it reaches into the lives of average Americans.  All it took for the American people to hand over personal liberty was the right threat.  Each new potential threat is used to justify a continued and ever more pervasive reach into the lives of the public…and again, that too is by design. 

Fear drives our daily lives now.  Fear feeds into our belief systems, and into what we are willing to accept as normal.  Fear is ingratiating itself into our eschatology, which is why positions like Pre-Wrath and Post-Trib are on the rise in Evangelical churches.  Fear is an insatiable monster in and of itself, and it feeds on hope, and devours peace, crushes action, and delivers you into a cradle of bondage.

Conclusion
Being grounded in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture as THE Blessed Hope, is more than just lip service.  It is more than just head knowledge.  It’s more than just having the correct, chronological understand of end time’s events.  It was designed by God, to give us, a light of hope, in an increasingly darkened world.  Whether we want to accept it or not, we are that generation that will see the Lord return.  We are the generation with Israel back in her land.  We are the generation with Israel in control of Jerusalem.  We are the generation that has the technological and economic means to control all buying and selling in the world.  We are that generation that have all the signs converging at break neck speed.  And yes, doom and gloom is big business…just turn on your local or national news.  Fear sells, but we, are not called to live in a spirit of fear.  Peter says…
And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 2 Peter 1:19
We are not only to have the proper understanding of Scripture, to include how things end (eschatology), but we are also supposed to apply that knowledge to our daily lives.  If you notice in the New Testament, almost every passage referencing the Lord’s coming at the Rapture, is preceded or surrounded by passages that promote holy living.  We are to live out our beliefs, by being grounded in the reality, that Christ will return, and that His return, will be before the world enters into that final seven years.   We are not called ‘overcomers’ for nothing…

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
It’s knowing, believing, and sharing that belief through our word and deed that will draw people to Christ, because we have this hope, in an increasingly hopeless world.  We belong to Christ, Christ is in us, and we make up the body of Christ…and Christ is God.  If Christ existed before all things, and by all things were created through Him, and Christ conquered death and hell at the Cross…what have we to fear?  What is in this life that poses a greater threat than that?  Nothing.  We are not called to have a spirit of fear.  The Pre-Tribulation Rapture (or catching up) is just hope realized and codified in Scripture for our benefit.  It was God’s plan, hidden before the foundation of the world, revealed through Paul and John to us, that we should live boldly and confidently, in a world that is passing away. (Eph. 3:1-7; 1 Thess 4:13-5:9; 1 John 2:17)

A world passing away, is juxtaposed with the peace that passes understanding.  Yes, these are dark times, and they are growing darker by the day.  But the worse it gets, the closer it is to Christ’s return.  We simply need to keep all that in perspective. 

So beloved, don’t get sucked into false beliefs that promote fear, and rob you of hope.  Don’t be drawn to teachers that feed doom and gloom, and promote their own ministries or eschatological beliefs, over what Scripture actually teaches.  Don’t let their confusion over the Rapture, with the Second Coming, lead you down a path which has you prepping for Armageddon, when we are called to live boldly and confidently in this time so soon near our Lord’s coming.  (See Matt. 6:25-33
Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory  2 Cor. 4:16-17
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