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1  Theology / Bible Study / Re: Question of the Week... on: July 22, 2011, 01:45:26 PM

Question: "What are the lost books of the Bible?"

Answer:
There are no “lost books” of the Bible, or books that were taken out of the Bible, or books missing from the Bible. Every book that God intended and inspired to be in the Bible is in the Bible. There are many legends and rumors of lost books, but there is no truth whatsoever to these stories. There are literally hundreds of religious books that were written in the same time period as the books of the Bible. Some of these books contain true accounts of things that actually occurred (1 Maccabees, for example). Some contain good spiritual teaching (the Wisdom of Solomon, for example). However, these books are not inspired by God. If we read any of these books, the Apocrypha as an example, we have to treat them as fallible historical books, not as the inspired, inerrant Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

The gospel of Thomas, for example, was a forgery written in the 3rd or 4th century A.D., claiming to have been written by the apostle Thomas. It was not written by Thomas. The early church fathers almost universally rejected the gospel of Thomas as heretical. It contains many false and heretical things that Jesus supposedly said and did. None of it (or at best very little of it) is true. The epistle of Barnabas was not written by the biblical Barnabas, but by an imposter. The same can be said of the gospel of Philip, the apocalypse of Peter, etc.

There is one God. The Bible has one Creator. It is one book. It has one plan of grace, recorded from initiation, through execution, to consummation. From predestination to glorification, the Bible is the story of God redeeming His chosen people for the praise of His glory. As God’s redemptive purposes and plan unfold in Scripture, the recurring themes constantly emphasized are the character of God, the judgment for sin and disobedience, the blessing for faith and obedience, the Lord Savior and sacrifice for sin, and the coming kingdom and glory. It is God’s intention that we know and understand these five themes because our lives and eternal destinies depend upon them. It is therefore unthinkable that God would allow some of this vital information to be “lost” in any way. The Bible is complete, in order that we who read and understand it might also be “complete, and equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

2  Theology / Prophecy - Current Events / Re: Israel - God's Timepiece on: July 11, 2011, 02:15:49 PM
Israel eyeing reoccupation of Sinai
WND

Regional analysts say Israeli officials are thinking about reoccupying the Sinai Peninsula because of the growing prospect of infiltration by al-Qaida and other militants such as Hamas, the inability of the Egyptian military to guarantee security and the prospect of a cut-off of vital natural gas supplies flowing through a repeatedly sabotaged pipeline, according to a report in Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin.

Israeli officials already have warned of a heightened terrorist threat from the Sinai. In April, Israeli aircraft attacked a car said to be carrying three Hamas operatives allegedly planning to abduct Israelis there.

In response, Israel's counter-terrorism bureau issued an instruction that told of "updated information that terrorist organizations are continuing their efforts to abduct Israeli tourists in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula for bargaining purposes" and that "terror agents that are residing in Sinai are coordinating plans for such attacks with local Bedouin collaborators."

Since the fall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in January, Israel has become increasingly concerned with the security of the Sinai, a stretch of land that is three times the size of Israel's pre-1967 border area, or some 23,000 square miles.

As G2Bulletin recently reported, some 400 al-Qaida militants are known to have infiltrated into the Sinai with the help of Hamas Palestinians from bordering Gaza. There also is Israeli concern that Hamas could bring in rockets from the Gaza Strip and shoot them into Israel along the 140-mile border between Israel and the Sinai.

Egyptian authorities also claim they no longer can maintain security in the region.

Egyptian police are abandoning their remote stations and checkpoints, which are coming under increased attacks from Bedouin tribesmen in the region. Bedouin tribesmen ransacked numerous abandoned government facilities and have threatened to attack South Sinai oil installations and tourist resorts.

"The Sinai is already known as a lawless land," according to a senior Israeli official. "There is real concern that if the Egyptians don't get the Sinai back under their control, it could develop into a major threat to Israel."
3  Theology / Prophecy - Current Events / Re: The Rise of Islam on: July 11, 2011, 02:12:30 PM
Canadian School Hosting Muslim Prayer Time
onenewsnow.com

According to one activist, a Canadian middle school's decision to allow Muslim prayers during school hours is an Islamic "encroachment" on Western civilization.

Every Friday, the cafeteria at Valley Park Middle School in Toronto is transformed into a prayer room for Muslim students. According to Jihad Watch, local imams come to lead Muslim boys in Islamic prayers, and staff members assist in setting up the event.

Brigitte Gabriel is the founder of ACT! for America and author of They Must Be Stopped: Why We Must Defeat Radical Islam and How We Can Do It. She says the prayers are unnecessary because Islamic prayers can actually accumulate.

"When they cannot pray, they can gather all the prayer times and do them all at once," she explains. "If they can do that in Islamic countries, how come they cannot do it in Western countries?"

The school claims the Muslim students used to sign out of school early to attend Friday prayers at a local mosque. So to accommodate them, the prayers were brought to the school. Gabriel reports that ACT! for America has exposed a similar incident that took place at Tiza Academy in Minnesota, which is a taxpayer-funded charter school that also held Islamic prayers in the cafeteria and allowed students to participate in the ritual washing of hands and feet before prayer. When her organization sounded the alarm, al-Qaeda issued an urgent press release that called for ACT! for America to be stopped.

"Why would an organization like al-Qaeda be so concerned about what's happening at a little, small academy called Tiza Academy in Minnesota?" she wonders. "But what we are seeing right now is basically an encroachment of Islamic practices and sharia Islam encroaching in North America and in all Western nations. And it is all by design; this is not independent incidences."

The prayers begin after lunch on Fridays, when all non-Muslim students have returned to class.
4  Theology / Prophecy - Current Events / Re: Apostate Christianity on: July 11, 2011, 02:07:33 PM
The Fruits Of Replacement Theology - A Church Against Israel
frontpagemag.com

A few days ago UK researchers announced that 17 skeletons belonging to Jews were found at the bottom of a medieval well in Norwich, England. The Jews were murdered in a pogrom or had been forced to commit suicide rather than submit to demands for conversion to Christianity.

The bodies date back to the 12th or 13th Centuries, at a time when Jewish people faced killings, banishment and persecution throughout all Europe. Those 17 Jews were killed because of “replacement theology,” the most ancient Christian calumny arguing that because of their denial of the divinity of Christ, the Jews have forfeited God’s promises to them which have been transferred to the Church.

Some 10 centuries later, global Christian forums are reviving this theological demonology against the heirs of those 17 Jews: the Jews of the State of Israel. The World Council of Churches, an ecumenical Christian body based in Genève and boasting 590 million worshipers, just ended a four-day conference in the Greek city of Volos. Not a single word of criticism was uttered there against the Islamists who are persecuting Arabs who believe in Jesus.

Lutherans arrived to Volos from the United States, Catholics and Protestants from Bethlehem and Nazareth, Orthodox Christians from Greece and Russia, lecturers from Beirut and Copts from Egypt. The conference declared the Jewish State “a sin” and “occupying power,” accused Israelis of “dehumanizing” the Palestinians, theologically dismantled the “choseness” of the Jewish people and called for “resistance” as a Christian duty.

The conference denied 3,000 years of Jewish life in the land stretching between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River, took sides against the very presence of Israel, likened the defensive barrier that has blocked terrorism to “apartheid,” attacked Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria invoking the name of God and conceptually dismissed the Jewish state, imagining it to be a mixture – Islamic, Christian and perhaps a bit Jewish. It even legitimized terrorism when it talked about the “thousands of prisoners who languish in Israeli jails,” proclaiming that “resistance to the evil of occupation is a Christian’s right and duty.”

In the last few months we have seen a radical and dangerous increase of attacks on Israel by the Protestant and Catholic churches. While the US is home to many Christian supporters of Israel, the groups more closely linked to global public opinion, European bureaucracy, the media industry, the United Nations and various legal forums are all violently anti-Israel and anti-Jewish. They are paving the way for a new Jewish bloodbath by the theological exclusion of Israel’s Jews from the family of nations.

The patriarch of the Antioch Church, the Catholic Melkite Gregory III Laham, proclaimed that there is a “Zionist conspiracy against Islam,” reviving old conspiracy theories that led to infamous pogroms. In Antwerp, once called “the Belgian Jerusalem,” a highly respected and government-funded Catholic school, the College of the Sacred Heart, just hosted a “Palestine Day” replete with anti-Semitic references and activities for youngsters. One stall at the event was titled “Throw the soldiers into the sea,” allowing children to throw replicas of Jewish and Israeli soldiers into two large tanks.

The most influential international Catholic peace movement, Pax Christi, just promoted a boycott of Israel’s goods “in the name of love.” The most hated Israeli product includes Ahava, the famous Israeli cosmetics company, whose shop in Covent Garden, London, has just been closed by the company after years of demonstrations. Strangely, Ahava body lotion tubes have been chosen as a satanic symbol of Jewish colonialism.

Today, most of the divestment campaign against Israel is driven by Christian groups such as the Dutch Interchurch Organization and the Irish Catholic group Troicaré, both funded by the EU. The United Church of Canada, a very popular and mainstream Christian denomination, just voted to boycott six companies (Caterpillar, Motorola, Ahava, Veolia, Elbit Systems and Chapters/Indigo) and South African bishop Desmond Tutu convinced the University of Johannesburg to severe all its links with Israeli fellows.

Last year the Methodist Church of Britain voted to boycott Israeli-produced goods and services from Judea and Samaria. The catholic Pax Christi is also leading the campaign glorifying Mordechai Vanunu, Israel’s nuclear whistleblower who had converted to Christianity. La Civiltà Cattolica, the Vatican magazine reviewed by the Holy See secretary of state before publication, in January opened with a shocking editorial on Palestinian refugees. Adopting the Islamist propagandist word “Nakba,” just recently invoked by Arab mobs to breach Israel’s borders, the paper declared that the refugees are a consequence of “ethnic cleansing” by Israel and that “the Zionists were cleverly able to exploit the Western sense of guilt for the Shoah to lay the foundations of their own state.” Indeed, Ahmadinejad’s rhetoric is alarmingly similar.

Israel’s relationship with the Vatican is different from Jerusalem’s relationship with Albania or Luxembourg for example, because the Catholic Church has more than one billion adherents and a global moral authority. At the Rome synod, Archbishop Cyrille Salim Bustros, a cleric chosen by Pope Ratzinger to draft the synod’s 44 final propositions, denied the Jewish people’s biblical right to the Promised Land. “We Christians cannot speak about the Promised Land for the Jewish people. There is no longer a chosen people”, Bustros said, reviving the “replacement theology.”

Edmond Farhat, a Maronite Apostolic Nuncio, who is a sort of Vatican’s ambassador, described Israel’s place in the Middle East in terms of a rejected “foreign implant” that which has no specialists “capable of healing it.” Elsewhere, the current Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, named by Pope Ratzinger to represent the Catholic community in Israel and the West Bank, is sponsoring an appeal against the “Judaization of Jerusalem.” Indeed, at this time, new anti-Israel policies by the most powerful Christian groups are breathing new life into Medieval doctrine that demonized Jews for hundreds of years.

The latest excavations in England suggest the Jews were thrown down the well together, head first, the kids after the parents. Five of them had a DNA sequence suggesting they were likely to be members of a single Jewish family. Some 10 centuries later, five Jews from the same Israeli family, the Fogels of Itamar, were slaughtered in their own beds. A famous Italian priest, Mario Cornioli, wrote immediately after the massacre in a subliminal justification of the killings: “What is Itamar? An illegal Israeli colony built on stolen land.”The replacement calumny has changed its language, yet it still marks a death sentence for the Jewish people: Israelis, like Lucifer, were God’s chosen but were cast out for their rebellious and evil ways, and now deserve to be obliterated from the so-called “Holy Land,” the argument goes. From Norwich to Itamar, the Jewish martyrs are an everlasting and heroic stain in this horrible, theological blood libel.
5  Theology / Prophecy - Current Events / Re: Apostate Christianity on: July 11, 2011, 02:05:23 PM
'God the Father' banished by mainline denomination
israelnationalnews.com

The United Church of Christ, the denomination whose Chicago pastor Jeremiah Wright blasted the United States and white people for years from the pulpit while Barack Obama sat in his pews, has decided to banish God "the Father" from its organizational documents.

A report from Eric Anderson on the denomination's website confirmed that delegates to the UCC's "General Synod 28" agreed late Monday to a series of proposed amendments to the constitution and bylaws. The vote was 613 in favor of the changes, 171 against and 10 abstaining.

The changes include a pointed deletion of a reference to God "as heavenly Father," which has been part of Christendom's description of the Trinity for millennia – the three persons of God being the heavenly Father, Christ the Son and Savior, and the Holy Ghost, the counselor and comforter.

It was cited by Shakespeare, John Bunyan, John Milton, Oliver Cromwell and William Bradford, and now you, too, have the opportunity to own the "1599 Geneva Bible"

In Article V, referencing local churches, the constitution previously said, "A Local Church is composed of persons who, believing in God as heavenly Father and accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and depending on the guidance of the Holy Spirit, are organized for Christian worship, for the furtherance of Christian fellowship, and for the ongoing work of Christian witness."

The new language, which still must be reviewed by the denomination's conferences, would be changed to say, "A Local Church is composed of persons who, believing in the triune God, accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and depending on the guidance of the Holy Spirit."

Other constitutional changes in the package approved by delegates meeting in Tampa, Fla., over the holiday weekend dealt with issues such as modifications in the church structure, the responsibilities of boards and committees.

Denomination spokeswoman Barb Powell told WND today that the change was made because the reference to "heavenly Father" was too restrictive.

"In the UCC, our language for God, Christ and the Holy Spirit … is preferred to be more open for different expressions of the Trinity," she said. "Heavenly Father is just one vision."

She told WND the denomination seeks to be "inclusive" in its language, "so therefore we will tend to change language that is more traditional to be more inclusive."

She said some of the denomination's pastors refer to God with terms such as "Creator" and "Father and Mother."

"There are a lot of people who decided, if God still is speaking to us, there is more light and truth to break forth," she said.

However, a group within the denomination, the Biblical Witness Fellowship, was critical of the editing.

"Rejecting God as Father in an age of fatherlessness is unthinkable," said David Runnion-Bareford, a leader of the fellowship organization. "God acted toward us in amazing grace when He offered to be our Father through the sacrifice of his Son, Jesus Christ who offers us life in his name.

"This is not something we as humans made up in some other time. Rejecting our Father is [an] act of arrogant rebellion in the name of cultural conformity that only further alienates members, churches, but more importantly God himself."

He noted the constitution had contained the reference since its founding in 1957, and said it "remains the covenant connection with the basic truths of Christianity that keeps many churches affiliated who are otherwise alienated by the denomination's very liberal agenda."

The organization, a group inside the denomination, warned that the UCC is "the leader among Protestant denominations in member loss."

"This is indeed a powerful confession by the Synod of the UCC that, having rebelled against the word of God, is on sinking sand – with our members, churches, historic witness, and identity in Christ washing away before our eyes," Runnion-Bareford said.

The organization explains on its website that it was "formed in alarmed response to decades of continued denominational decline that has resulted from the UCC's theological surrender to the moral and spiritual confusion of contemporary culture."

"The BWF attempts to network with renewal movements in other 'mainline' denominations as well as to expose churches to the rich diversity of resources available in the wider fellowship of the evangelical mainstream of the American church. In doing so, we hope to spark new vitality and faithfulness in the life of a denomination which seems to have strayed from its first love," the organization explains.

"We are deeply concerned about the alarming rate at which the UCC is encouraging the ordination of those who choose 'alternative' lifestyles (i.e., homosexuality, bisexuality and sexual activity outside of marriage), embrace moral relativism, seek authority in human experience, or are ambivalent about such basic beliefs as the Lordship of Jesus Christ, the reality of the Resurrection and other doctrines of the church which are the foundation of our faith. Continued ordination of ministers who cannot accept even the simplest truths of the Christian faith will only contribute to the further collapse of our church to the prevailing mythologies of the culture."

Anderson's report from the Florida meetings said delegate Robb Kojina of Hawaii urged adoption of the changes. According to Anderson, Kojina said, "This structure of governance is a missional model for us to do ministry in a post-modern world, that makes us responsible to discern God's voice in our settings."

The UCC and its prominent Chicago pastor Wright made headlines during the 2008 presidential election because of Obama's 20-year membership in the church.

Wright famously condemned America in God's name and blamed the U.S. for provoking the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks by dropping nuclear weapons on Japan in World War II and supporting Israel since 1947.

ABC News reviewed dozens of Wright's sermons, finding repeated denunciations of the U.S., based on what he described as his reading of the Gospels and the treatment of black Americans.

"The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing 'God Bless America.' No, no, no, God d--- America, that's in the Bible for killing innocent people," he said in a 2003 sermon. "God d--- America for treating our citizens as less than human. God d--- America for as long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme."

In addition to damning America, he told his congregation on the Sunday after Sept. 11, 2001 that the U.S. had brought on al-Qaida's attacks because of its own terrorism, ABC News reported.

"We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye," Wright said in a sermon Sept. 16, 2001. "We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back to our own front yards. America's chickens are coming home to roost."

WND has reported the church itself has been revealed to have a strong African-centered and race-based philosophy.

Wright's Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago is where Obama was baptized as a Christian two decades ago. Obama even borrowing the title for one of his books, "The Audacity of Hope," from a sermon by Wright.

During the campaign, the first paragraph of the "About Us" section of the church's website mentioned the word "black" or "Africa" five times:

We are a congregation which is Unashamedly Black and Unapologetically Christian. ... Our roots in the Black religious experience and tradition are deep, lasting and permanent. We are an African people, and remain "true to our native land," the mother continent, the cradle of civilization. God has superintended our pilgrimage through the days of slavery, the days of segregation, and the long night of racism. It is God who gives us the strength and courage to continuously address injustice as a people, and as a congregation. We constantly affirm our trust in God through cultural expression of a Black worship service and ministries which address the Black Community.

On another page on the website, Wright explained that his theology was "based upon the systematized liberation theology that started in 1969 with the publication of Dr. James Cone's book, 'Black Power and Black Theology.'"
6  Theology / Prophecy - Current Events / Re: Keeping An Eye On Turkey on: July 11, 2011, 02:02:52 PM
Preparing The Hordes of Magog - Why Is The Largest Army In The Middle East About To Double Its Size?
prophecynewswatch

With Prime Minister Erdogan's Islamist AK party having seized its third landslide election victory in Turkey, many throughout the international community have been watching to see what will be next on the Turkish agenda.

Now there are strong indicators in the Turkish media that Turkey is planning on literally doubling the size of its army – this coming from the nation that already has the largest army in Middle East and the second-largest army in NATO, second only to the United States. Presently, Turkey's army has over 500,000 troops. Its army is larger than France, Germany and England combined. And now Turkish media are reporting that they are planning on adding another 500,000 paid soldiers.

According to Egemen Bağış, a state minister and Turkey's chief EU negotiator, the purpose of the army is to kill two birds with one stone, overcoming two of Turkey's biggest challenges: terrorism and unemployment. This move would create half a million new jobs for Turkey while answering once and for all Turkey's problem with Kurdish separatist terrorists in the southeast.

Bağış spoke to journalists at the Turkish ambassador's office in Brussels. "The government is prepared to hire 500,000 people. ... This structural change will also contribute to our struggle with unemployment," he said.

Turkey's nation defense minister, Vedci Gonul, stated that the new army is "the future of Turkey." But he also said that the actual number of paid soldiers is yet to be determined pending a government study. According to Gonul, the creation of such a large army could take several years to complete.

A poll conducted shows that 80 percent of Turks support the idea while only 9 percent are opposed.

Despite the government's claims that the purpose of the army would be to address terrorism, skepticism concerning such a massive force is well-deserved. First of all, creating an army this size merely to address Turkey's terrorism problem, primarily from the PKK, a Kurdish separatist group in the southeast, would be like trying to kill an ant using a nuclear warhead. Secondly, such a move certainly will only reinforce the concerns of those who believe that Turkey has broad-ranging neo-Ottoman regional aspirations.

The silence of the Western media has been surprising. Imagine Israel announcing an expansion of its forces by 500,000 men to address its Palestinian terrorism problem. Yet the Western media has yet to comment regarding Turkey's grandiose plans.

Such an expansion would be particularly concerning in light of the Turkish government's recent swing toward Islamist political alliances. They have worked to significantly reinforce strategic alliances with both Iran and Syria, two of the most well-established state sponsors of terrorism globally, while significantly cooling its relationship with Israel and the United States. Despite this, the Obama administration this past January, sold the Turkish Air Force 100 F-35 Lightning II fighter jets. Turkey already manufactures it's own F-16s.

It is also essential to once again remind ourselves of the recent accomplishments of the Islamist AK party under Prime Minister Erdogan's leadership. In just the past several years, the AK party has edged ever closer to establishing a full-blown dictatorship, all in the name of democracy. Since 2002, they have managed to accomplish the following:

•occupy the presidency;
•occupy the seat of prime minister;
•gain a large majority of seats in the parliament;
•fill the judiciary with Islamist-leaning judges;
•behead the top echelons of the military;
•infiltrate the police force (over 70 percent of officers are members the Islamist Gulen movement);
•intimidate and imprison Turkish journalists (there are more Turkish journalists in prison than any other nation in the world – more than China or Iran).

The nation's leadership is now working toward a bill authorizing them to rewrite the Turkish Constitution, giving them far more sweeping powers over the military and judiciary.

In last month's victory speech, Prime Minister Erdogan couldn't have made his regional ambitions any clearer:

"Believe me, Sarajevo won today as much as Istanbul, Beirut won as much as Izmir, Damascus won as much as Ankara, Ramallah, Nablus, Jenin, the West Bank, Jerusalem won as much as Diyarbakir."

In a follow up commentary piece, J.E. Dyer, a retired U.S. Naval intelligence officer asked how the world would take it if Nicolas Sarkozy had proclaimed that a victory for him was a victory for Moscow as much as Paris, for Washington as much as Lyon, for Ankara as much as Marseilles. Dyer then very appropriately reminded us that such comments are, "imperialist at worst, absurdly arrogant at best – to speak of your electoral victories as conferring benefits on foreign humanity – especially on those once occupied by your nation in its days of empire."

For years, several others and I have been warning of Turkey's neo-Ottoman dreams and regional ambitions. And for just as many years, the compliant left-wing media has mocked the notion. Within the next several years, with doubling of the Turkish army, it appears as though there will be 500,000 more reasons to worry about Turkey's regional ascension.
7  Theology / Bible Study / Re: Question of the Week... on: July 09, 2011, 09:17:42 AM

Question: "Is a believer supposed to be able to feel the Holy Spirit?"

Answer:
While certain ministries of the Holy Spirit may involve a feeling, such as conviction of sin, comfort, and empowerment, Scripture does not instruct us to base our relationship with the Holy Spirit on how or what we feel. Every born-again believer has the indwelling Holy Spirit. Jesus told us that when the Comforter has come He will be with us and in us. “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you” (John 14:16-17). In other words, Jesus is sending one like Himself to be with us and in us.

We know the Holy Spirit is with us because God's Word tells us that it is so. Every born-again believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, but not every believer is controlled by the Holy Spirit, and there is a distinct difference. When we step out in our flesh, we are not under the control of the Holy Spirit even though we are still indwelt by Him. The apostle Paul comments on this truth, and he uses an illustration that helps us to understand. “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). Many people read this verse and interpret it to mean that the apostle Paul is speaking against wine. However, the context of this passage is the walk and the warfare of the Spirit-filled believer. Therefore, there is something more here than just a warning about drinking too much wine.

When people are drunk with too much wine, they exhibit certain characteristics: they become clumsy, their speech is slurred, and their judgment is impaired. The apostle Paul sets up a comparison here. Just as there are certain characteristics that identify someone who is controlled by too much wine, there should also be certain characteristics that identify someone who is controlled by the Holy Spirit. We read in Galatians 5:22-24 about the “fruit” of the Spirit. This is the Holy Spirit’s fruit, and it is exhibited by the born-again believer who is under His control.

The verb tense in Ephesians 5:18 indicates a continual process of “being filled” by the Holy Spirit. Since it is an exhortation, it follows that it is also possible to not be filled or controlled by the Spirit. The rest of Ephesians 5 gives us the characteristics of a Spirit-filled believer. “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:19-21).

We are not filled with the Spirit because we feel we are, but because this is the privilege and possession of the Christian. Being filled or controlled by the Spirit is the result of walking in obedience to the Lord. This is a gift of grace and not an emotional feeling. Emotions can and will deceive us, and we can work ourselves up into an emotional frenzy that is purely from the flesh and not of the Holy Spirit. “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature … Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16, 25).

Having said that, we cannot deny that there are times when we can be overwhelmed by the presence and the power of the Spirit, and this is often an emotional experience. When that happens, it is a joy like no other. King David “danced with all his might” (2 Samuel 6:14) when they brought up the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. Experiencing joy by the Spirit is the understanding that as children of God we are being blessed by His grace. So, absolutely, the ministries of the Holy Spirit can involve our feelings and emotions. At the same time, we are not to base the assurance of our possession of the Holy Spirit on how we feel.


8  Theology / Bible Study / Re: Question of the Week... on: July 04, 2011, 02:22:36 PM

Question: "What is the gift of speaking in tongues?"

Answer:
The first occurrence of speaking in tongues occurred on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:1-4. The apostles went out and shared the gospel with the crowds, speaking to them in their own languages: “We hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” (Acts 2:11). The Greek word translated tongues literally means “languages.” Therefore, the gift of tongues is speaking in a language a person does not know in order to minister to someone who does speak that language. In 1 Corinthians chapters 12–14, Paul discusses miraculous gifts, saying, “Now, brothers, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction?” (1 Corinthians 14:6). According to the apostle Paul, and in agreement with the tongues described in Acts, speaking in tongues is valuable to the one hearing God’s message in his or her own language, but it is useless to everyone else unless it is interpreted/translated.

A person with the gift of interpreting tongues (1 Corinthians 12:30) could understand what a tongues-speaker was saying even though he did not know the language that was being spoken. The tongues interpreter would then communicate the message of the tongues speaker to everyone else, so all could understand. “For this reason anyone who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret what he says” (1 Corinthians 14:13). Paul’s conclusion regarding tongues that were not interpreted is powerful: “But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue” (1 Corinthians 14:19).

Is the gift of tongues for today? First Corinthians 13:8 mentions the gift of tongues ceasing, although it connects the ceasing with the arrival of the “perfect” in 1 Corinthians 13:10. Some point to a difference in the tense of the Greek verbs referring to prophecy and knowledge “ceasing” and that of tongues “being ceased” as evidence for tongues ceasing before the arrival of the “perfect.” While possible, this is not explicitly clear from the text. Some also point to passages such as Isaiah 28:11 and Joel 2:28-29 as evidence that speaking in tongues was a sign of God's oncoming judgment. First Corinthians 14:22 describes tongues as a “sign to unbelievers.” According to this argument, the gift of tongues was a warning to the Jews that God was going to judge Israel for rejecting Jesus Christ as Messiah. Therefore, when God did in fact judge Israel (with the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D. 70), the gift of tongues would no longer serve its intended purpose. While this view is possible, the primary purpose of tongues being fulfilled does not necessarily demand its cessation. Scripture does not conclusively assert that the gift of speaking in tongues has ceased.

At the same time, if the gift of speaking in tongues were active in the church today, it would be performed in agreement with Scripture. It would be a real and intelligible language (1 Corinthians 14:10). It would be for the purpose of communicating God's Word with a person of another language (Acts 2:6-12). It would be in agreement with the command God gave through the apostle Paul, “If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God” (1 Corinthians 14:27-28). It would also be in accordance with 1 Corinthians 14:33, “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.”

God most definitely can give a person the gift of speaking in tongues to enable him or her to communicate with a person who speaks another language. The Holy Spirit is sovereign in the dispersion of the spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:11). Just imagine how much more productive missionaries could be if they did not have to go to language school, and were instantly able to speak to people in their own language. However, God does not seem to be doing this. Tongues does not seem to occur today in the manner it did in the New Testament, despite the fact that it would be immensely useful. The vast majority of believers who claim to practice the gift of speaking in tongues do not do so in agreement with the Scriptures mentioned above. These facts lead to the conclusion that the gift of tongues has ceased or is at least a rarity in God's plan for the church today.
9  Theology / Bible Study / Re: Question of the Week... on: July 02, 2011, 09:47:06 AM
Question of the Week cont.....

The Afterlife - Two Eternal Destinies
Jesus also speaks authoritatively about what types of destinies await every person that dies: one with God and one without God. In Luke’s account of the rich man and Lazarus, Jesus says, “Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom" (Luke 16:22–23). One aspect of the story worth noting is that there is no intermediate state for those who die; they go directly to their eternal destiny. As the writer of Hebrews says, “It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment" (Hebrews 9:27).

Jesus speaks about the two final destinies again when He is confronted by the religious leaders in John: “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment” (John 5:25-29). Christ restates the matter very plainly in Matthew when He says, “These [unbelievers] will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matthew 25:46).

The Afterlife - What Determines Our Eternal Destination?
Jesus also is clear on what determines each person’s eternal destination—whether they have faith in God and what they do with respect to Christ. The book of John contains many statements made by Jesus on this subject, with perhaps the most famous being these: “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God" (John 3:14-18).

For those who repent and receive Christ as their Savior and Lord, the afterlife will consist of an eternity spent with God. But for those who reject Christ, their destiny will be spent away from God’s presence. Jesus contrasts these two destinies in the end of the Sermon on the Mount: “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).

The Afterlife - Conclusions
Speaking about life after death, G. B. Hardy, a Canadian Scientist, once said, "I have only two questions to ask. One, has anyone ever defeated death? Two, did he make a way for me to do it also?" The answer to both of Hardy’s questions is “yes.” One Person has both defeated death and provided a way for everyone who puts their trust in Him to overcome it as well. Epicurus may have believed that everyone fears death, but the truth is no one who trusts in Christ needs to be afraid. Rejoicing in this fact, the Apostle Paul wrote, “When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory.’ ‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’" (1 Corinthians 15:54–55).

10  Theology / Bible Study / Re: Question of the Week... on: July 02, 2011, 09:44:04 AM
A very long one today, but a very good one!


Question: "Is there an afterlife?"

Answer:
The book of Job asks the question about an afterlife very simply: “If a man dies, will he live again?” (Job 14:14). Asking the question is easy, but the difficult part is finding someone to answer the question with authority and experience. “Death and taxes” have said to be the two universals that everyone living can expect to deal with. But while everyone is handled somewhat differently by government taxation, death is the great equalizer that treats everyone the same.

Because of this, it’s not uncommon for people to be afraid of death. The ancient philosopher Epicurus (341–270 BC) recognized that the fear of death was present in everybody and therefore he sought a way to remove that fear. Epicurus taught that humanity not need fear death because human beings are nothing more than a composition of atoms which at death simply disperse and that is the end of things. Epicurus didn’t believe there were any gods to fear or anything to face once a person breathed their last. His teaching of maximum pleasure in this life with minimum pain and suffering dictated that everything ends when death occurred.

One of the groups the Apostle Paul encountered in his trip to Athens were the Epicureans, who listened to Paul’s Mars Hill address up until he mentioned the resurrection of Jesus and then abruptly ended the discussion (Acts 17:32). They had been bathed in their teacher’s philosophy and likely knew well the statement made by Apollos the Epicurean who said during the founding of the Areopagus where Paul was speaking, “When the dust has soaked up a person’s blood, once he is dead, there is no resurrection."

But after thousands of years since that time, the fear of death remains fixed in many people. The book of Job describes death as the “king of terrors” (Job 18:14). This fact is visible in the movie “The Bucket List” where the character played by Jack Nicholson, trying to come to grips with dying, says: “We all want to go on forever, don’t we? We fear the unknown. Everybody goes to that wall, yet nobody knows what’s on the other side. That’s why we fear death.”
But one person has gone to that wall, gone through to the other side, and come back to tell us what to expect. He alone possesses the authority and knowledge to tell everyone the truth about the afterlife.

The Expert on the Afterlife
From a historical perspective, no historical scholar disputes the life of Jesus of Nazareth. There is no debate about His teachings or the fact that He reportedly did miraculous things, and there is universal agreement that He was put to death by crucifixion under the Roman prefect Pontius Pilate. Jesus went to the wall of death and through to the other side.

The resurrection puts Jesus in a place of being the sole authority and witness able to answer the question, “Is there an afterlife?” And what does He have to say? Christ makes three basic statements about the subject of life after death:

1. There is an afterlife.
2. When a person dies, there are two different eternities to which he/she will go.
3. There is a way to ensure a positive experience after death.

First, Christ most certainly affirms there is an afterlife in a number of biblical passages. For example, in an encounter with the Sadducees who denied the teaching of resurrection, Christ rebuked them by saying, “Regarding the fact that the dead rise again, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the burning bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living; you are greatly mistaken" (Mark 12:26-27). Jesus clearly told them that those who have died centuries before are very much alive with God at that moment.

In another passage, Jesus comforts His disciples (and us) by telling them specifically that they can look forward to being with Him in Heaven: “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way where I am going” (John 14:1-4).

cont.....
11  Theology / Bible Study / Re: Daily Bible Reading on: July 02, 2011, 09:26:15 AM
Hosea 5:5-15
                               
5 Israel's arrogance testifies against them; the Israelites, even Ephraim, stumble in their sin; Judah also stumbles with them. 6 When they go with their flocks and herds to seek the LORD, they will not find him; he has withdrawn himself from them. 7 They are unfaithful to the LORD; they give birth to illegitimate children. Now their New Moon festivals will devour them and their fields. 8 "Sound the trumpet in Gibeah, the horn in Ramah. Raise the battle cry in Beth Aven; lead on, O Benjamin. 9 Ephraim will be laid waste on the day of reckoning. Among the tribes of Israel I proclaim what is certain. 10 Judah's leaders are like those who move boundary stones. I will pour out my wrath on them like a flood of water. 11 Ephraim is oppressed, trampled in judgment, intent on pursuing idols. 12 I am like a moth to Ephraim, like rot to the people of Judah. 13 "When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah his sores, then Ephraim turned to Assyria, and sent to the great king for help. But he is not able to cure you, not able to heal your sores. 14 For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, like a great lion to Judah. I will tear them to pieces and go away; I will carry them off, with no one to rescue them. 15 Then I will go back to my place until they admit their guilt. And they will seek my face; in their misery they will earnestly seek me."

 
12  Theology / General Theology / Re: Day by Day on: July 02, 2011, 09:20:29 AM
A Shepherd's Heart

by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Numbers 27:12–23

Moses asks for a man "who will go out and come in before them, and who will lead them out and bring them in, so that the congregation of the LORD will not be like sheep which have no shepherd" (v. 17). In other words, "Lord, we need a man who realizes he must be in touch with the people before he can minister to them. He needs to be a people person."

Moses was saying, "These people don't need a mystic. They don't need a man preoccupied by his love for research, as important as that may be. These folks don't really need a super-efficient CEO or a brilliant organizational genius. They need a shepherd. They need a man who knows people, who will minister to people, understand people, and know how to guide people."

In whatever capacity you might minister—as a Bible teacher, as a student preparing for the ministry, as a woman of God ministering in your area of giftedness—your ministry is primarily people, not shuffling papers, not crunching numbers, not making phone calls, not writing letters, not planning programs, or noodling over strategies for the next decade. Of course, all of those things must be done. I must sign and/or write an average of forty to fifty letters a week and get involved in planning sessions too. Administrative details need to be handled. (As few as I can get by with!)

Do you know the most common thing I hear from individuals just beginning to come to our church? They want very much to get to know some of us on staff, and they'll say, "You don't know me, but I come on Sunday to hear you preach." And they almost apologize, as if to say, "Hey, I'm sorry to take your time, but I just want to shake your hand." I go out of my way to say to each one, "You are as important as anybody else in this entire church. There is no insignificant member of the family of God." I don't say this to make a good public relations statement or to make a good impression. I say it because I believe it—because it's true. Whoever you are, whatever you do, you are special before the God who has chosen you.

13  Fellowship / Just For Women / Re: Chicken Soup on: July 02, 2011, 09:15:53 AM
Thought for the Day:


If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it.

If He had a wallet, your photo would be in it.

He sends you flowers every spring.

He sends you a sunrise every morning.

Face it, friend - He is crazy about you!


14  Theology / General Theology / Re: Zvi: brief history on: July 01, 2011, 08:38:07 AM
To GOD be the Glory!
15  Theology / Bible Study / Re: Verse of the day on: July 01, 2011, 07:02:32 AM
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” Romans 12:3 NIV
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