Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The doctrine of the Trinity: origins

The word “Trinity” is used to explain the eternal relationship between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Theophilus, sixth bishop of Antioch, Syria, is the first person known to have used the word “Trinity” in his work, Refutation of Autolycus (A.D. 168).

The following early church leaders and/or writings all defended the doctrine of the Trinity (the following dates are approximate):

A.D. 96 Clement, the third bishop of Rome
A.D. 90-100 The Teachings of the Twelve Apostles, the “Didache”
A.D. 90? Ignatius, bishop of Antioch
A.D. 155 Justin Martyr, great Christian writer
A.D. 168 Theophilus, the sixth bishop of Antioch
A.D. 177 Athenagoras, theologian
A.D. 180 Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons
A.D. 197 Tertullian, early church leader
A.D. 264 Gregory Thaumaturgus, early church leader

More than 60 Bible passages mention the three Persons together.

“As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." (Matt. 3:16-17)

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matt. 28:19)

“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” (2 Cor. 13:14)

“There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Eph. 4:4-6)

“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior.” (Titus 3:4-6)

Some other verses:
John 3:34-35
John 14:26
John 15:26
John 16:13-15
Romans 14:17-18
Romans 15:13-17
Romans 15:30
1 Corinthians 6:11
1 Corinthians 6:17-19
1 Corinthians 12:4-6
2 Corinthians 1:21-22
2 Corinthians 3:4-6
Galatians 2:21-3:2
Galatians 4:6
Ephesians 2:18
Ephesians 3:11-17
Ephesians 5:18-20
Colossians 1:6-8
1 Thessalonians 1:1-5
1 Thessalonians 4:2, 8
1 Thessalonians 5:18-19
2 Thessalonians 3:5
Hebrews 9:14
1 Peter 1:2
1 John 3:23-24
1 John 4:13-14
Jude 20-21

Also see my past posts on the Trinity

Monday, December 29, 2008

What sort of New Year’s Resolution should a Christian make?

"The practice of making New Year’s resolutions goes back over 3000 years to the ancient Babylonians. There is just something about the start of a New Year that gives us the feeling of a fresh start and a new beginning. In reality, there is no difference between December 31st and January 1st. Nothing mystical occurs at midnight on December 31st. The Bible does not speak for or against the concept of New Year’s resolutions. However, if a Christian determines to make a New Year’s resolution, what kind of resolution should he or she make?

Common New Year’s resolutions are: to quit smoking, to stop drinking, to manage money better, and spend more time with family. By far the most common New Year’s resolution is to lose weight, in conjunction with exercising more and eating healthier. These are all good goals to set. However, 1 Timothy 4:8 instructs us to keep exercise in perspective: “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” The vast majority of New Year’s resolutions, even among Christians, are in relation to physical things. This should not be.

Many Christians make New Year’s resolutions to pray more, to read the Bible every day, and to attend church more regularly. These are fantastic goals. However, these New Year’s resolutions fail just as often as the non-spiritual resolutions, because there is no power in a New Year’s resolution. Resolving to start or stop doing a certain activity has no value unless you have the proper motivation for stopping or starting that activity. For example, why do you want to read the Bible every day? Is it to honor God and grow spiritually, or is it because you have just heard that it is a good thing to do? Why do you want to lose weight? Is it to honor God with your body, or is it for vanity, to honor yourself?

Philippians 4:13 tells us, “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” John 15:5 declares, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” If God is the center of your New Year’s resolution, it has chance for success, depending on your commitment to it. If it is God’s will for something to be fulfilled, He will enable you to fulfill it. If a resolution is not God honoring and/or is not in agreement in God’s Word, we will not receive God’s help in fulfilling the resolution.

So, what sort of New Year’s resolution should a Christian make? Here are some suggestions: (1) Pray to the Lord for wisdom (James 1:5) in regards to what resolutions, if any, He would have you make; (2) Pray for wisdom as to how to fulfill the goals God gives you; (3) Rely on God’s strength to help you; (4) Find an accountability partner who will help you and encourage you; (5) Don’t become discouraged with occasional failures; instead allow them to motivate you further; (6) Don’t become proud or vain, but give God the glory. Psalm 37:5-6, “Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.”

(the above is from GotQuestions.org)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Persecution Watch: from Voice of the Martyrs

INDONESIA - Riots Erupt in Indonesia over Christian Teacher's Alleged Blasphemy

On Dec. 9, riots broke out in Masohi, Central Maluku province, Indonesia, after Welhelmina Holle, a Christian elementary school teacher, allegedly made comments that insulted Islam while tutoring a Muslim student. News of the incident spread throughout the Muslim community, sparking the Indonesian Ulema Council to file a complaint with the police against Holle. Approximately 500 Muslims protested outside the Central Maluku Education Agency, accusing Holle of blasphemy and calling for his dismissal. The mob then gathered outside the Central Maluku Police headquarters and demanded to meet with the police chief, but when informed that he was not on the premises, the Muslims dispersed.

However, confrontations between some of the Muslims and police officials incited violence. Police and soldiers were eventually able to intervene but two churches, a health clinic, several vehicles and approximately 65 homes were burned. At the time of the report, Holle remained in detention. He is reportedly being charged with blasphemy, a charge that carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. Ask God to strengthen Holle. Pray for those who have lost property in the riots. Pray that Christ will equip Indonesian Christians to follow His example and remain faithful to Him.

PAKISTAN - Young Christian Woman and Her Father Imprisoned

Twenty- year-old Sandul Bibi and her father Gulsher are in prison in Pakistan, charged with violating section 295-B of the Pakistani legal code, the “blasphemy” law. Sandul is falsely accused of ripping pages from the Quran. On Oct. 9, a large crowd of Muslims attacked Christian families at a church, throwing stones and firing guns. They were shouting, “Kill Gulsher and his daughter Sandul.” Sandul and her father, Gulsher Masih, were arrested after a mob from the local mosque surrounded their house. Loudspeakers from different mosques broadcast accusations that Christians had disgraced the Quran, calling Muslims to attack and burn their homes. The angry crowd threw stones and set fire to Sandul’s home. Christians believe Sandul and her father were targeted and arrested because they were aggressively winning villagers to Christ.

Sandul has written several letters to her family from prison. In her latest letter she says, “I am praying a lot that God releases me from here and I can meet you, but I don’t know when. He will give answers for our prayers. Please pray for me.” If convicted, Sandul faces at least four years in prison. She and her family desperately need your prayers and encouragement.

The Voice of the Martyrs has supported Sandul and her family both financially and spiritually through this difficult time. VOM encourages you to lift this family up in prayer and ask God to encourage them.

(from PERSECUTION WATCH)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Statistics on Gays, AIDS and other STDs

In one study, 70% to 78% of gays reported having had a sexually transmitted disease. However, approximately 25% of people in the United States who are infected with HIV do not know they are infected. A new study in the United Kingdom has revealed that homosexuals are about 50% more likely to suffer from depression and engage in substance abuse than the rest of the population, reports Health24.com. Those who treat AIDS patients are at great risk, as are those who are housed with AIDS patients. That, combined with shared needle drug use with homosexuals who had AIDS, contribute to spreading AIDS to non-homosexuals. In addition, gays get other diseases and problems. The proportion with intestinal parasites (worms, flukes, amoeba) ranged from 25% to 39% to 59%. Dr. Max Essex, chair of the Harvard AIDS Institute, warned congress in 1992 that "AIDS has already led to other kinds of dangerous epidemics...If AIDS is not eliminated, other new lethal microbes will emerge, and neither safe sex nor drug free practices will prevent them."

(Note: MSM = gay)

In the United States, HIV infection and AIDS have had a tremendous effect on men who have sex with men (MSM). MSM accounted for 71% of all HIV infections among male adults and adolescents in 2005 (based on data from 33 states with long-term, confidential name-based HIV reporting), even though only about 5% to 7% of male adults and adolescents in the United States identify themselves as MSM.

In the 33 states with long-term, confidential name-based HIV reporting, an estimated 19,620 MSM (18,296 MSM and 1,324 MSM who inject drugs) received a diagnosis of HIV/AIDS, accounting for 71% of male adults and adolescents and 53% of all people receiving an HIV/AIDS diagnosis that year.

The number of HIV/AIDS diagnoses among MSM (including MSM who inject drugs) increased 11% from 2001 through 2005. It is not known whether this increase is due to an increase in the testing of persons with risk factors, which results in more HIV diagnoses, or due to an increase in cases of HIV infection.

An estimated 231,893 MSM (207,810 MSM and 24,083 MSM who inject drugs) were living with HIV/AIDS.

Transmission categories of male adults and adolescents with HIV/AIDS diagnosed during 2005:

- 67% had male-to-male sexual contact
- 5% had male-to-male sexual contact plus injection drug use (for a total of 72% being gay)
- 13% was merely from drug use (and, if needles were shared, some or all of that could have originated from gays using the needles)
- 15% was from high-risk heterosexual contact
- 1% was listed as "other" (could that include beastiality??)

Note: Based on data from 33 states with long-term, confidential name-based HIV reporting. Because of rounding, percentages may not equal 100.

Sexual risk factors account for most HIV infections in MSM. These factors include unprotected sex and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

* STDs, which increase the risk for HIV infection, remain an important health issue for MSM. According to the Gonococcal Isolate Surveillance Project, the proportion of gonorrhea-positive test results among MSM increased from 4% in 1988 to 20.2% in 2004. Rates of syphilis among MSM have increased in some urban areas, including Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle. In the 9 US cities participating in the MSM Prevalence Monitoring Project, the rates of STDs and HIV positivity varied by race and ethnicity but tended to be highest among black and Hispanic MSM. In addition to increasing susceptibility to HIV, STDs are markers for high-risk sexual practices, through which HIV infection can be transmitted.

Approximately 25% of people in the United States who are infected with HIV do not know they are infected.

Through its National HIV Behavioral Surveillance system, CDC found that 25% of the MSM surveyed in 5 large US cities were infected with HIV and 48% of those infected were unaware of their infections.

HAART has enabled HIV-infected MSM to live longer. However, HAART’s success means there are more MSM living with HIV who have the potential to transmit the virus to their sex partners. This emphasizes the importance of focusing prevention efforts on those who are living with HIV.

from:
http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/msm/resources/factsheets/msm.htm


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The vast majority of young gay and bisexual men in the United States who were found to have the AIDS virus in a new study were unaware of their infection, according to findings reported as the 14th International AIDS Conference opened here today.

The rates of unawareness among minority gay men ages 15 to 29 in the study were staggeringly high. Among those found to have H.I.V., the AIDS virus, 90 percent of blacks, 70 percent of Hispanics and 60 percent of whites said they did not know they were infected.

Most of these infected men perceived themselves to be at low risk of being infected, despite having engaged in frequent high-risk sex like unprotected anal intercourse, said Duncan MacKellar, an epidemiologist from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, which conducted the study.

'The study shows that the very men who are at greatest risk of H.I.V. infection are those who are least likely to think they are at risk,' Mr. Wilson said.

In presenting an overview of the AIDS epidemic in the United States at the conference, Dr. Ronald Valdiserri, an AIDS official at the disease centers, described what he said was a growing apathy about the H.I.V. epidemic in the country.

from:http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D02E2DE1630F93BA35754C0A9649C8B63

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Among men who have sex with men, there has been a steady rise in new infections since the early 1990s.

It is thought that more than one million people are living with HIV in the USA and that more than half a million have died after developing AIDS.

American HIV surveillance data are not comprehensive so many statistics must be based on reports of AIDS diagnoses. In interpreting such AIDS statistics, it is important to remember that they do not correspond to new HIV infections. Most people live with HIV for several years before developing AIDS.

At the end of 2006, the CDC estimates that 448,871 people were living with AIDS in America. This number includes all people who have ever been diagnosed with an AIDS-defining condition and are believed to be alive, including many people who have recovered their health by taking antiretroviral therapy.

Around 77% of adults and adolescents living with AIDS are men.

An estimated 3,775 children aged under 13 were living with AIDS at the end of 2006. The vast majority of these children acquired HIV from their mothers during pregnancy, labour, delivery or breastfeeding.

At the end of 2006, the CDC estimates that there were 509,681 people living with HIV/AIDS in the 38 areas that have a history of confidential name-based HIV reporting, based on reported diagnoses and deaths2. However, the total number of people living in the USA with HIV/AIDS is thought to be around 1.1 million3. The discrepancy between these figures is due to several factors including:

* confidential name-based reporting of HIV diagnoses has not yet been implemented in all states4
* anonymous tests, including home tests, are excluded from case reports
* one in every five people living with HIV has not even had their infection diagnosed, let alone reported.5

During 2006, an estimated 36,817 new diagnoses of HIV infection were reported from the 38 areas with a history of confidential name-based reporting, a number that has remained relatively stable since 2001. Of these cases, 73% were among adult or adolescent males, 26% were among adult or adolescent females, and less than 1% were among children under 13 years of age. Recent HIV reports represent a mixture of people with recent infection and others who may have been infected in the past but are only now being diagnosed.

It is estimated that around 56,300 Americans became newly infected with HIV in 2006.6 The number of new infections peaked in 1984-85 at around 130,000 per year, fell to a low of around 49,000 in the early 1990s, peaked again at around 58,000 in the late 1990s, and then declined slightly to its current level. This overall pattern masks variation between exposure groups.

from:
http://www.avert.org/statsum.htm

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25% of white gays admitted to sex with boys 16 or younger as adults. In a 9-state study, 33% of the 181 male, and 22% of the 18 female teachers caught molesting students did so homosexually (though less than 3% of men and 2% of women engage in homosexuality).

Fear of AIDS may have reduced the volume of gay sex partners, but the numbers are prodigious by any standard. Morin reported that 824 gays had lowered their sex-rate from 70 different partners/yr. in 1982 to 50/yr. by 1984. McKusick reported declines from 76/yr. to 47/yr. in 1985. In Spain the average was 42/yr. in 1989.

Death and disease accompany promiscuous and unsanitary sexual activity. 70% to 78% of gays reported having had a sexually transmitted disease. The proportion with intestinal parasites (worms, flukes, amoeba) ranged from 25% to 39% to 59%. As of 1992, 83% of U.S. AIDS in whites had occurred in gays.

Those who treat AIDS patients are at great risk, not only from HIV infection, which as of 1992 involved over 100 health care workers, but also from TB and new strains of other diseases. Those who are housed with AIDS patients are also at risk. Dr. Max Essex, chair of the Harvard AIDS Institute, warned congress in 1992 that "AIDS has already led to other kinds of dangerous epidemics...If AIDS is not eliminated, other new lethal microbes will emerge, and neither safe sex nor drug free practices will prevent them."

Unfortunately, the danger of these exchanges does not merely affect homosexuals. Travelers carried so many tropical diseases to New York City that it had to institute a tropical disease center, and gays carried HIV from New York City to the rest of the world. Most of the 6,349 Americans who got AIDS from contaminated blood as of 1992, received it from homosexuals and most of the women in California who got AIDS through heterosexual activity got it from men who engaged in homosexual behavior. The rare form of airborne scarlet fever that stalked San Francisco in 1976 also started among homosexuals.

from:
http://www.familyresearchinst.org/FRI_EduPamphlet3.html

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After analyzing 25 earlier studies on sexual orientation and mental health, researchers, in a study published in the medical journal BMC Psychiatry, also found that the risk of suicide jumped over 200% if an individual had engaged in a homosexual lifestyle.

These findings strongly support the results of similar studies conducted in the United States, which have unveiled the severe physical and psychological health risks associated with homosexual behavior. Drs. Paul and Kirk Cameron of the Family Research Institute revealed in 2007 that research shows that the lifespan of a homosexual is on average 24 years shorter than that of a heterosexual. As a health threat, even smoking pales in comparison, as studies show smoking can shorten one's life by only 1 to 7 years on average.

While the Health 24 article suggested that homosexuals may be pushed to substance abuse and suicide because of anti-homosexual cultural and family pressures, empirical tests have shown that there is no difference in homosexual health risk depending on the level of tolerance in a particular environment. Homosexuals in the United States and Denmark - the latter of which is acknowledged to be highly tolerant of homosexuality - both die on average in their early 50's, or in their 40's if AIDS is the cause of death. The average age for all residents in either country ranges from the mid-to-upper-70s.

from:
http://www.onenewsnow.com/Culture/Default.aspx?id=255614

Sunday, December 21, 2008

America as a Religious Refuge: The Seventeenth Century

"Many of the British North American colonies that eventually formed the United States of America were settled in the seventeenth century by men and women, who, in the face of European persecution, refused to compromise passionately held religious convictions and fled Europe. The New England colonies, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland were conceived and established "as plantations of religion." Some settlers who arrived in these areas came for secular motives--"to catch fish" as one New Englander put it--but the great majority left Europe to worship God in the way they believed to be correct. They enthusiastically supported the efforts of their leaders to create "a city on a hill" or a "holy experiment," whose success would prove that God's plan for his churches could be successfully realized in the American wilderness. Even colonies like Virginia, which were planned as commercial ventures, were led by entrepreneurs who considered themselves "militant Protestants" and who worked diligently to promote the prosperity of the church."

(from Religion and the Founding of the American Republic

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Religious Founding of America

"...Many of the colonies that in 1776 became the United States of America were settled by men and women of deep religious convictions who in the seventeenth century crossed the Atlantic Ocean to practice their faith freely. That the religious intensity of the original settlers would diminish to some extent over time was perhaps to be expected, but new waves of eighteenth century immigrants brought their own religious fervor across the Atlantic and the nation's first major religious revival in the middle of the eighteenth century injected new vigor into American religion. The result was that a religious people rose in rebellion against Great Britain in 1776, and that most American statesmen, when they began to form new governments at the state and national levels, shared the convictions of most of their constituents that religion was, to quote Alexis de Tocqueville's observation, indispensable to the maintenance of republican institutions."

(from Religion and the Founding of the American Republic

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Errors Concerning the Trinity

Jehovah's Witnesses believe that the Trinity is of the devil, and that Jesus is a 'lesser god' than Jehovah God (they also believe that Jesus is Michael the Archangel).

Mormons believe that God the Father is made up of flesh and bone, and is an evolved human being, and that a 'good Mormon' can someday become a god and create their own universe. If you accuse them of polytheism (worshiping many gods), they will deny it and say that they only worship one god, because they only worship the god of THIS universe. But in fact, they actually are taught that there are countless billions of gods. They believe that Jesus and Satan are brothers, and that Jesus was sexually conceived by Jehovah God having sex with one of his many wives. They believe that the Holy Spirit is merely a force.

Modalism

Although cults completely deny the Trinity, or change it into something completely different, many Christians get the Trinity wrong as well, and fall into error. There are various errors concerning the Trinity that Christians fall into. One such example is called Modalism.

Modalism is probably the most common theological error concerning the nature of God. It is a denial of the Trinity which states that God is a single person who, throughout biblical history, has revealed Himself in three modes, or forms. Thus, God is a single person who first manifested himself in the mode of the Father in Old Testament times. At the incarnation, the mode was the Son. After Jesus' ascension, the mode is the Holy Spirit. These modes are consecutive and never simultaneous. In other words, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit never all exist at the same time, only one after another. Modalism denies the distinctiveness of the three persons in the Trinity, even though it retains the divinity of Christ. Present day groups that hold to forms of this error are the United Pentecostal and United Apostolic Churches. They deny the Trinity, teach that the name of God is Jesus, and require baptism for salvation. These modalist churches often accuse Trinitarians of teaching three gods. This is not what the Trinity is. The correct teaching of the Trinity is one God in three eternal coexistent persons: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Did Jesus exist before his human birth? What or who was Jesus before his incarnation? Was he the God of the Old Testament?

In order to understand who Jesus was, we first should understand the basic doctrine of the Trinity. The Bible teaches us that God is one and only one being. This tells us that whoever or whatever Jesus was before his human incarnation, he could not have been a separate God from the Father.

While God is one being, he exists eternally as three coequal and coeternal Persons, whom we know as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. In order to understand how the Trinity doctrine describes the nature of God, we must keep in mind the difference between the words "Being" and "Person." This distinction has been put in the following terms: there is but one what of God (that is, his Being) but there are three whos within the one being of God, that is, the three divine Persons—Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The Being we call the one God has an eternal relationship within himself of Father to Son. The Father has always been the Father and the Son has always been the Son. And, of course, the Holy Spirit has always been the Holy Spirit. One Person in the Godhead has not preceded the other, and neither is one Person inferior to the other in his essence. All three divine Persons—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—share the one being of God. The Trinity doctrine explains that Jesus was not created sometime prior to his incarnation, but existed eternally as God.

There are, then, three pillars to the Trinitarian understanding of God’s nature. First, only one true God exists, who is Yahweh (YHWH) of the Old Testament or theos of the New Testament—the Creator of all that exists. The second pillar of this teaching is that God is made up of three divine Persons, who are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Father or Holy Spirit, and the Spirit is not the Father or the Son. The third pillar tells us that these three distinct (but not separate) persons equally share the one divine being, God, and that they are eternal, co-equal and co-essential. Thus, God is one in essence and one in being, but exists in three persons. (We must always be careful not to understand the "Persons" of the Godhead like persons in the human sphere, where one person is separate from another.)

It is acknowledged that there is something about God as Trinity that transcends our finite understanding. Scripture does not explain how it is that the one God can exist as the Trinity. It only affirms that this is so.

Granted, how the Father and the Son can be one being seems difficult for us humans to understand. That’s why it’s important to keep in mind the distinction between person and essence, which the doctrine of the Trinity makes. This distinction tells us that there is a difference between the way God is one and the way that he is three. Simply put, God is one in essence and three in persons. If we keep that distinction at the front of our discussion, we will avoid being confounded by the seeming (but not real) contradiction in the biblical truth that God is one being in three Persons—Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

A physical analogy, though an imperfect one, might help us understand. There is but one pure light, and that is white light. But white light can be broken down into three primary colors—red, green and blue. Each of the three primary colors does not exist apart from the other primary colors—they are included within the one light, which is white. There is but one complete light that we call white light, but this light contains three distinct but not separate primary colors.

The above explanation gives us the essential basis of the Trinity, which provides the perspective to understand who or what Jesus was before he became human flesh. Once we understand the relationship that has always existed within the one God, we can proceed to answer the question of who Jesus was before his incarnation and physical birth.

Jesus’ Eternality and Pre-Existence in John’s Gospel

The pre-existence of Christ is clearly stated in John 1:1-4: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life…" It is this Word or Logos in Greek who became incarnate in Jesus. "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us," John tells us (verse 14).

The eternal, uncreated Word who was God, and yet was with God as one of the Persons of the Godhead, became a human being. Note that the Word "was" God but "became" a human being. The Word never came into being, that is, he didn’t "become" the Word. He always was the Word, or God. The Word’s existence is open-ended. He has always existed.

As Donald Macleod points out in The Person of Christ: "He is sent forth as one who already has being, not as one who comes into being by being sent" (page 55). Macleod further states: "In the New Testament, Jesus’ existence as a man is a continuation of his previous or prior existence as a heavenly being. The Word who dwelt among us is the same as the Word who was with God. The Christ who is found in form as a man is the very one who previously existed in the form of God" (page 63). It is the Word or the Son of God who takes flesh, not the Father or the Holy Spirit.

Yahweh

In the Old Testament, the most common name for God is Yahweh, which comes from the Hebrew consonants YHWH (called a tetragrammaton). It was Israel’s national name for God, the ever-living, self-existent Creator. In time, the Jews began to consider the name of God, YHWH, as too sacred to be pronounced. The Hebrew word adonay ("my Lord") or Adonai was substituted. Hence, in English Bibles, we see the word "Lord" used where YHWH appears in the Hebrew Scriptures.

Yahweh is the most common name of God found in the Old Testament, being used over 6800 times in reference to him. Another name for God in the Old Testament is Elohim, which is used over 2500 times, as in the phrase "the Lord God" (YHWH Elohim).

In the New Testament, there are many scriptures where the writers apply to Jesus passages that were written in reference to Yahweh in the Old Testament. The practice of the New Testament writers is so common that its significance may escape us. By using Yahweh scriptures for Jesus, these writers are implying that Jesus was Yahweh, or God, made flesh. Of course, we shouldn’t be surprised that the writers make this comparison, because Jesus himself explained that Old Testament passages applied to him (Luke 24:25-27, 44-47; John 5:39-40, 45-46).

John makes a clear connection between Jesus and Yahweh, the name of God in the Old Testament. But John does not equate Jesus with the Father (and neither do the other Gospels). Jesus, for example, prays to the Father (John 17:1-15). John understands that the Son is distinct from the Father—and he also sees that both are distinct from the Holy Spirit (John 14:15, 17, 25; 15:26). Since that is so, John’s identification of Jesus as God, or Yahweh (if we think of his Hebrew, Old Testament name), is a Trinitarian explanation of God’s being.

"I Am"

In John’s Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples: "I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am He" (13:19). The phrase "I am He" is translated from the Greek ego eimi. The phrase occurs 24 times in John’s Gospel. At least seven of these are said to be "absolute" in that they are not followed by a predicate, such as in John 6:35, "I am the bread of life." In the seven absolute cases, no predicate follows, and the "I AM" phrase comes at the end of the clause. This indicates that Jesus is using this phrase as a name to identify who he is. The seven places are John 8:24, 28, 58; 13:19; 18:5, 6 and 8.

If we go back to Isaiah 41:4, 43:10 and 46:4, we can see the background for Jesus’ reference to himself in John’s Gospel as ego eimi ("I AM"). In Isaiah 41:4, God or Yahweh says: "I, the Lord…I am he." In Isaiah 43:10 he says "I am he," and later says, "‘You are my witnesses,’ declares the Lord, ‘that I am God’" (verse 12). In 46:4, God (Yahweh) again refers to himself as "I am he."

The Hebrew phrase "I am he" is translated in the Greek version of the Holy Scriptures, the Septuagint (which the apostles used), by the phrase ego eimi in Isaiah 41:4; 43:10; and 46:4. It seems clear that Jesus’ made the "I am he" statements as references to himself because they directly connected to God’s (Yahweh’s) statements about himself in Isaiah. John said, in effect, that Jesus was saying he was God in the flesh (John 1:1, 14, which introduces the Gospel and speaks of the Word’s divinity and incarnation, prepares us for this fact.)

John’s ego eimi ("I Am") identification of Jesus can also be carried back to Exodus 3, in which God identifies himself as the "I Am." Here we read: "God [Hebrew, elohim] said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: "I AM has sent me to you"’" (verse 14).

John repeats Jesus’ identification of himself as the "I AM" of the Old Testament. Since there is but one God, and John would have understood that, then we are left with the proposition that there must be two persons sharing the one nature that is God. With the Holy Spirit, also discussed by John in chapters 14-17, we have the basis of the Trinity.

To put aside all doubt about John’s identification of Jesus with Yahweh, we may quote John 12:37-41, which says:

Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet: "Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?" For this reason they could not believe, because as Isaiah says elsewhere: "He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn—and I would heal them." Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.

The quotes above that John used come from Isaiah 53:1 and 6:10. The prophet originally spoke his words in regards to Yahweh. John says that what Isaiah actually saw was "Jesus’ glory" and that he "spoke of him." For John the apostle, then, Jesus was Yahweh in the flesh; before his human birth he was known as Yahweh.

(Most of the above information is from: http://www.wcg.org/lit/jesus/whowas.htm)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Great White Throne Judgment vs. the Bema Seat

THE GREAT WHITE THRONE JUDGMENT

If a person is not saved and dies in their sin, they will be judged at the "Great White Throne judgment" following the Millennium.

"Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire." (Revelation 20:11-14)

Since all of us are sinners, if a person has not turned their life over to Jesus and accepted Him as their personal Savior and the Lord of their life, they will remain unforgiven, and will spend the rest of eternity paying a sin debt that they can never pay off (because a sinner cannot pay for sin, any more than a poor man can pay a steep fine). If a person does not have Jesus as their Defense Attorney, they will be found guilty and will be cast into Hell. No person stained with sin can enter Heaven; only those with pure white robes of righteousness, which can only come from Jesus Christ, can enter Heaven.

THE BEMA SEAT JUDGMENT

The "Bema seat" was an elevated seat located in Corinth. At this seat in the square, Roman magistrates would sit and administer justice. Athletes may also have appeared here and received rewards for having distinguished themselves.

In other words, the king sat in the Bema Seat at the stadium in Corinth to present the winning athletes their crowns, judging them victorious. So it is with the judgment of Christians. It’s more like an awards ceremony for the Christian. Since we aren’t saved by our works, but by our faith, this judgment is not related to salvation, but to the things the Christian has done since becoming saved that have furthered the work of the Kingdom. The “race we’ve run,” so to speak. Those things done solely out of gratitude for the free gift of salvation that the Christian has received, with no thought for personal gain, will earn the Christian various crowns. Those things the Christian has done for earthly credit or recognition or in an attempt to earn points with God, will be disqualified. In effect, 1 Cor. 3:15 states that even if all our earthly work for the Lord is disqualified for improper motives, we’ll still be saved and welcomed into the Kingdom.

"If his work is burned up, he will suffer loss. However, he himself will be saved, but it will be like going through fire." (1 Corinthians 3:15)

Some Christians may tend to think that, since they are saved, they can live as they please. However, via the Bema Seat judgment, there are rewards for the believer that can be lost if the believer is not living for Jesus.

At this Bema Seat judgment, the Christians must give an account of their life and what they did or did not do for the Lord. The believer's service to God will be reviewed and rewarded. For his lack of service or doing certain things, he will suffer loss. The Christian will be held responsible for how well they lived for Jesus. Every hidden thing will be made known. Every secret thing the Christian said will be proclaimed; nothing will be hid. All believers must appear before this Bema Seat judgment.

Many Christians today seem to think that doing this or that worldly thing is more important than spending time in God's Word, in prayer, in witnessing to others, and in dying to self and helping those (either physically or financially) who are more needy than you. At this judgment (the Bema Seat), we should indeed see how unimportant so many things we did really were. All of the time spent watching mindless TV programs or other pointless entertainment may cause us to lose rewards for eternity, because we squandered our time in non-productive or worldly activities, instead of spending our time accomplishing things that had eternal value. All of the extra time that we wasted and spent doing so many meaningless things, such as running after money, pleasures, cares of this life (those things that were not of Jesus), could have instead been spent storing up riches in Heaven. The Bema Seat judgment is a judgment of receiving rewards and suffering loss of rewards. A Christian's true desire should be to hear the words "WELL DONE, THOU GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT" (Matt. 25:21). Paul said, "...I COUNT ALL THINGS BUT LOSS FOR THE EXCELLENCY OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST JESUS MY LORD: FOR WHOM I HAVE SUFFERED THE LOSS OF ALL THINGS, AND DO COUNT THEM BUT DUNG, THAT I MAY WIN CHRIST" (Phil. 3:8). No matter how important some worldly things or pleasures seem to the Christian now, how worthless they will be at the Bema Seat judgment. As a Christian, we need to live to please Jesus and not ourselves. We need to ask ourselves concerning whatever we do, "What fruit for Jesus is in it? Is what I am doing pleasing to the Lord? Does this have eternal value?"

Saturday, December 13, 2008

America: 17th Century: the Spanish and French: A History Lesson

When Columbus discovered America in 1492, he was not just looking for a new route to the Indies, but he was also hoping to discover new sources of wealth to finance another Crusade against the Muslims and also to ally with leaders in the Far East to help against the Muslims in the Middle East. When he encountered the non-Christian natives of the New World, his religious inclinations predominated again, as he and Ferdinand put forth efforts to protect, convert and educate the Native American Indians.

Spanish priests began to accompany the explorers and conquerors. A bishopric was established at Santo Domingo in 1512 (now the capital and largest city in the Dominican Republic, and the second largest in the Caribbean). Bartholomew Columbus, brother of Christopher Columbus, founded the settlement and named it after Saint Dominic.

Another bishopric was established in Cuba in 1522, and then others followed in rapid succession. The University of Mexico and the University of San Marcos (in Lima, Peru) were both founded in 1551. Others were built in Latin America as well. When you consider that the Spanish usually sent their sons back to Europe for their education, you realize that these New World institutions were mainly for the training of the natives.

Although it is true that the Spanish also oppressed and mistreated the Indians over the centuries, it is also true that the church put forth sincere and expensive efforts to protect the natives in the early days. Shortly after the death of Martin Luther, the Spanish settled Florida (St. Augustine, 1565). From there, they went to New Mexico and Texas. In fact, they were establishing their missions in California while Jefferson was writing the Declaration of Independence. Portuguese settlement in Brazil began in 1532, so the Roman Catholic church was established there as well. All of Latin America and part of the U.S. responded to religious efforts of Spanish and Portuguese priests.

The French, on the other hand, were not able to establish a permanent colony until 1608, which was in Quebec, Canada. The scarcity of French settlers in the New World, inadequate colonial policies, and the defeat of French forces ultimately brought an end to the French Empire in North America in 1763, as well as the effects of French Jesuit work, except for Quebec and Louisiana.

(Information for this article is from “Exploring Church History,” by Howard F. Vos, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1994. Some information is from Wikepedia.)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

My ideal church

I just left a comment on the blog site "Redeeming the Time." I'm posting the same comment here as well, because it reflects a brief, summarized view of what I believe an ideal church would be like. Following is the comment that I posted over at "Redeeming the Time:"

Many churches in America seem to have an introverted, withdrawn perspective, where their focus and outlook is limited to the boundaries of their own four walls. More churches should become acutely involved in world missions, including sponsoring full-time missionaries, indigenous missionaries and short-term missions trips. Furthermore, too few churches reach out in regular, active service to their community (giving out food, visiting hospitals and nursing homes, fixing things for people who cannot afford to pay to have them fixed, doing yard work or house work for specific needy individuals in the community for free, etc.). And, most scarce of all I think, is the fact that very, very few churches walk the streets of their neighborhood and spread the gospel. If more churches would go door-to door in their neighborhood, hand out gospel tracts in malls or movie theaters or sporting events or Fairs or Carnivals, and/or have members go out and do some open-air preaching on the streets, then more people would get saved, the churches would grow more, and the church would have a greater positive effect on the community. And, though I feel like I'm almost getting too idealistic and less realistic here, I believe that a church should not just give out gospel tracts, but also have some sort of discipleship program for those new believers that the members have led to Christ. Such a thing, I fear, is pretty much non-existent in almost all churches, at least here in the U.S.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Worst of Sins

by Ray Comfort

"In December of 2008, a report which studied to conduct of 30,000 high school students found that 30 percent of students admitted to stealing from a store within the past year, a two percent rise from 2006. More than one third of boys (35 percent) said they had stolen goods, compared to 26 percent of girls. An overwhelming majority, 83 percent, of public school and private religious school students admitted to lying to their parents about something significant, compared to 78 percent for those attending independent non-religious schools. "Despite these high levels of dishonesty, these same kids have a high self-image when it comes to ethics." Some 93 percent of students indicated satisfaction with their own character and ethics, with 77 percent saying that "when it comes to doing what is right, I am better than most people I know."

These are violations of God’s Law--lying, stealing and dishonoring of parents. It’s significant that the religious schools had higher rates of Lawlessness and that self-righteousness was rampant. While experts and philosophers suggest a multitude of reasons as to why this is happening, it traces itself back to a lack of the fear of God. Their concept of God doesn’t include retribution for transgression of His Law. Idolatry is probably the hardest to detect, but it is undoubtedly the worst of sins, because of the door it opens."

(the above article by Ray Comfort can be found on the Christian Worldview Network website.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Getting a Handle on the OBAMA Birth Certificate “Conspiracy”

By Douglas J. Hagmann

"7 December 2008: Based on extensive research and review of nearly 1,100 pages of court documents filed within the last 60 days, the Northeast Intelligence Network has identified 19 lawsuits filed in various venues across the U.S. by a variety of Americans against Barack Hussein OBAMA, the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the Secretaries of State of several states, and other related parties.

The common issue of each lawsuit confronts the eligibility of Barack Hussein OBAMA to become America’s 44th President on January 20, 2009. Of the 19 lawsuits researched, thirteen-(13) remain active or somewhat active, meaning that the courts in the various venues in which they have been filed are considering the merits of the individual cases. At least six others have been dismissed or can otherwise be described as “dead-on-arrival” due to a number of different and wide ranging issues. Of the 13 remaining cases, however, three-(3) stand out from the rest based on the nature of their claims, each providing somewhat different perspectives relating to one core issue:

the constitutional eligibility of Barack Hussein OBAMA to take office as President of the United States
based on his citizenship status."

(You can read the rest of the article on the Northeast Intelligence Network website)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Attention Wal-Mart Shoppers

by Ken Connor

"If actions speak louder than words, what do recent events at a New York state Walmart say about the state of American culture? On "Black Friday," two thousand people burst through the doors of a Walmart store in Long Island at five a.m., trampling an employee to death in a mad dash to get to sale items before the person next to them. Signs of America's rampant consumerism have existed for decades, but this tragedy takes the cake.

With only minutes to spare before the discount store opened, the crazed crowd pushed through the doors, knocking Jdimytai Damour down and breaking the doors off their hinges. As the crowd surged, people stepped on Damour and knocked over other employees who struggled to help him. Two thousand ravenous shoppers, many of whom had no idea what was going on, shoved and pushed each other in a mad rush. The selfishness is clearly seen by one employee's experience: "When they were saying they had to leave, that an employee got killed, people were yelling 'I've been [in] line since yesterday morning'... They kept shopping."

This tragedy points to the selfishness of the human heart and demonstrates that greed is not confined to the scions of Wall Street. Quite the contrary, these Main Street shoppers pursued their own materialistic impulses at the expense of the needs of those around them. They were focused on themselves, intent on getting to the deals first. Their trampling of Mr. Damour, each other, and the employees who were trying to help him, exhibits hearts that care more about saving $50 on an HDTV than about the health and safety of their fellow man.

Sadly, this event is not unique. Just a couple of weeks ago, a number of people watched a teenager commit suicide live via webcam. Some, with ghoulish delight, goaded him on as he took a large dose of antidepressants, saying things like "Oh, that's not enough to kill you" and "Go ahead and do it." Only after the young man had been lying on his bed for hours did someone finally contact the police. The anonymity of the internet enabled many of these voyeurs to engage in a perverse form of entertainment. Their "fun" contributed to the death of a young man.

This self-centered disregard for human life reminds us of another episode of pathological neglect that occurred in 1964 in Queens, New York. Catherine Genovese was knifed in the alleyway leading up to her apartment. She screamed for help, but none was forthcoming. Several lights went on in the windows of the neighboring apartment complex. One man shouted from the safety of his apartment, "Let that girl alone!" But no one bothered to call the police until more than fifteen minutes after the attack. By the time the police arrived, it was too late.

Why wouldn't these neighbors place a simple phone call when they heard the young woman's screams? One man, who eventually called the police "after much deliberation," explained, "I didn't want to get involved." Another man saw the killer attack the woman again from a crack in his door, but didn't call the police. His reason? "I was tired.... I went back to bed."

There is a common thread that runs through this 1964 case of willful abandonment, the sordid online suicide, and the Walmart trampling: these tragedies occurred because individuals were looking out for their own interests rather than that of their fellow man. Their actions led to the deaths of their neighbors, and for what? A couple of hours of "fun" online voyeurism? A little extra sleep? $50 off of a tv?

How did we get to this point in "the home of the brave"? Why do so many Americans exhibit so little concern for their neighbor? Doubtless, there are many causes, but prominent among them is our willingness to sacrifice core principles of human dignity on the altar of convenience. We live in a culture that is so self-centered that we are no longer expected to deal with the "inconvenience" of an unwanted baby. Nor can we be bothered to care for our aging parents. Just stick them in a nursing home at government expense and forget about them—or better yet, encourage them to take the "dignified" way out. We selfishly maintain that our "progress" must continue through "scientific research" free of ethical restraints, notwithstanding that such "progress" kills or debases nascent human life. Our convenience, our comfort, our self-centeredness trumps the value of someone else's life.

Mother Teresa well understood the destructive impact of radical selfishness. Regarding abortion she declared, "[I]f we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? ... Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of peace and love is abortion." Mother Teresa rightly understood that when one form of killing is accepted on the basis of personal convenience, other forms of violence will inevitably follow.

The trampling of Jdimytai Damour should be a wake-up call to each one of us. It should cause us to pause and consider whether we place too high a value on our own convenience and our own possessions. We should examine our hearts and ask ourselves whether we any longer have the capacity to sacrifice our own desires for the good of another. We are missing the big picture if events like these capture our attentions just long enough for us all to gasp and say, "How awful!", then turn back to our shopping carts and our self-centered lives.

Jesus warned us, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:19-21 NIV) Jesus' words were a repudiation of materialism and an exhortation to value those things that endure throughout eternity. In our consumer-driven age, we would do well to heed his words."

This is from a post on Townhall.com

Friday, December 5, 2008

Taking a personal look at a few of the Early Church saints: continuing with Romans 16

”Salute Philologus, and Julia, Nereus, and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints which are with them.” (Romans 16:15)

In A.D. 95, some Roman aristocrats had become Christians, including Flavius Clemens and his wife Domitilla, a woman who gave her name to the earliest Christian graveyard in Rome. Flavius was executed after being charged with “atheism,” which was, interestingly, a common charge used in those days against Christians. Domitilla was not executed, but was merely banished to the island of Pontia, her 'lighter punishment' probably due to the fact that she was the niece of Domitian, the reigning emperor. But she was released the following year. Since the fourth century, the Church has associated Nereus of Romans 16:15 with this Domitilla, so it could even be that Nereus was the one who brought the gospel to this prominent household and eventually led to the many Christian martyrdoms in Rome.

When we examine Romans 16 closely (see my previous two posts), we begin to get a sense of how close these people were to Paul, even though they were many miles apart. We see how much Paul loved them, as he calls them “beloved” and praises them for their faithful service to one another and to him, and for their labors in the Lord. All born-again (regenerated) Christians, no matter whether they are Reformed Baptists or tongue-speaking Charismatics, or whether they are an all-black congregation or an all-white congregation, are all members of the one body of Jesus Christ, and should be loved and appreciated by all others who are true Christians.

”Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” (Romans 12:4-5)

“For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” (1 Corinthians 12:13)


Speaking of concern and love for other Christians, many Christians in the United States are often unaware of the Christians in other countries who suffer horribly on a daily basis because of their faith in Christ Jesus.

Christians in other countries, especially Muslim and Communist countries, have been persecuted, tortured, imprisoned, and martyred ever since the first century, and even much more so today (though it would go completely against the anti-Christian agenda of the liberal news media to report any of it). Even back in the 1980’s, I was keeping up with reports of some of the Christians in the former U.S.S.R. who were being attacked, poisoned, tortured by electrical shock treatments, imprisoned, etc. Following is one of the latest reports of Christian persecution, this one in China:


CHINA - House Church Leader Sentenced to "Re-education Through Labor"

On Oct. 30, house church leader Pastor Zhu Baoguo was sentenced to one year "re-education through labor" on charges of being an "evil cult" leader, China Aid Association reported. Pastor Zhu and four other leaders were detained by authorities during a church service in Dushu village, Henan province on Oct. 12. While the other four leaders were sentenced to five days of administrative detention, Pastor Zhu was sentenced to 15 days.
Two days after Pastor Zhu's release from detention, he was sentenced and taken to a labor camp in an unknown location. There is considerable concern for his health as he suffers from heart disease.

(the above report is from Voice of the Martyrs)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Rufus: Some speculation

Romans 16, which is basically Paul’s greetings to some of the members of the Early Church, may seem like a boring chapter to read. But there are some interesting tidbits we can pull from these seemingly boring verses.

“Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine.” (Romans 16:13)

Mark 15:21 mentions a Rufus. It says that a Cyrenian man named Simon was forced to carry Christ’s cross when Jesus was too weak to carry it. It also mentions that Simon was the father of Alexander and Rufus. Why would Mark mention the names of his parents? Likely because Alexander and Rufus were well-known, and also because Mark’s gospel was especially written for the church at Rome, which gives a probable identification for this Rufus mentioned by Paul in Romans. So, very likely, this Rufus that Paul mentions was the son of the man who carried Christ’s cross.

If so, then Rufus’ dad, Simon, was a Jew. To be forced by a Roman soldier to carry the cross of a condemned man would have been a bitter experience for him. But something may have happened to Simon during that experience. Instead of holding a grudge and hating this Roman soldier for forcing him to do a despicable job that was beneath him, he may possibly have been struck by the person of Jesus, and may even have (possibly out of awe or curiosity) remained to watch the crucifixion. And, just as one of the thieves on the cross next to Jesus accepted Jesus as Lord and God and Savior, Simon may also have done the same, as he watched Jesus being crucified. If this is true, he would likely have returned to Cyrene and told his family about his experience, which may have led to his family becoming Christians.

Acts 11:20 says that it was "men from Cyprus and Cyrene” who came to Antioch and first preached the gospel to the Gentiles. Could Simon have been one of these men from Cyrene? And was Rufus with him?

In Ephesus, people who served Diana of the Ephesians instigated a riot, and the crowd would have killed Paul if they could have gotten to him. But in Acts 19:33, a man by the name of Alexander is “pushed to the front.” Could this be the brother of Rufus mentioned in Romans 16:13? And is it the same Alexander mentioned in Mark 15:21? And if so, how did their mother be “as a mother” to Paul? Maybe she comforted or helped him in time of need when his own family was unable or unwilling to do so.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A glimpse of the early church


“Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them.” (Romans 16:3-4)


Priscilla and Aquila are mentioned six times in the New Testament (Acts 18:2, Acts 18:18, Acts 18:26, Romans 16:2, 1 Corinthians 16:19, 2 Timothy 4:19). Aquila was a Jew from Pontus who had settled in Rome, but was forced to leave the city, along with Priscilla, because Claudius expelled the Jews from there (Acts 18:2). Aquila was a tentmaker like Paul. In fact, this is likely how they came to know each other, when Paul had to work in Corinth to support himself during his missionary work. When Paul left Corinth to go to Ephesus, Priscilla and Aquila went with him. However, when Paul moved on, they stayed at Ephesus, and that was where God used them to explain the gospel to Apollos (Acts 18:24-26).

“Greet my dear friend Epenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in the province of Asia.” (Romans 16:5b)

Note that Epenetus was Paul’s “dear friend” and “was the first convert to Christ in the province of Asia.” Since Paul had evangelized Asia, it is likely that Paul had led Epenetus to Christ. This would explain their close relationship.

“Greet Mary, who worked very hard for you.” (Romans 16:6)

The ‘Mary’ mentioned here is likely a different Mary than the various other Marys mentioned in the New Testament. Since Paul tells the Romans that Mary “worked very hard for you,” Mary must have been from Rome. It could have very possibly been Priscilla and Aquila that told Paul about Mary when they came to Corinth about the time that Paul first arrived there.

“Greet Andronicus and Junias, my relatives who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.” (Romans 16:7)

Calling Andronicus and Junias his relatives could mean that they were members of his own extended family, but it probably only means that they were Jews. They became Christians before Paul did, so they must have been believers from the very earliest days of the church in Jerusalem.

“Greet Ampliatus, whom I love in the Lord.” (Romans 16:8)

Ampliatus was a common slave name. In Domatilla, the earliest of the Christian catacombs, there is an elaborate tomb with the word “Ampliatus” on it. Free men had more than one name, so this single name seems to imply that it was the tomb of a slave. However, since it is elaborate, it seems to be the tomb of an important person in the church, and in the Roman church, there were no distinctions based upon whether a person was a slave or free. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)

“Salute Apelles approved in Christ. Salute them which are of Aristobulus' household. Salute Herodion my kinsman. Greet them that be of the household of Narcissus, which are in the Lord.” (Romans 16:10-11)

Paul speaks only of the households of Aristobulus and Narcissus, implying that he did not know them personally. In Rome, the word ‘household’ not only described a man’s immediate family, but also included his household domestics or slaves as well. In Rome, there had lived a man named Aristobulus, who had been the grandson of the Jewish king Herod the Great. When he died, his slaves would have fallen under the ownership of the Emperor and would have been known as “the household of Aristobulus.” So, Paul’s greeting may have been to those Jewish slaves who belonged to this household, but who had become Christians and were members of the Roman church. This is especially likely because the name Herodion derives from Herod, so Herodion may have been one of the leading slaves of this household. Narcissus might possibly be the same person as a wealthy freedman by the same name, who had been prominent under Claudius, but had been put to death by Nero when he took the throne.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Celebrating Thanksgiving in America

David Barton - 11/2008

The tradition introduced by European Americans of Thanksgiving as a time to focus on God and His blessings dates back well over four centuries in America. For example, such thanksgivings occurred in 1541 at Palo Duro Canyon, Texas with Coronado and 1,500 of his men; 1 in 1564 at St. Augustine, Florida with French Huguenot (Protestant) colonists; 2 in 1598 at El Paso, Texas with Juan de OƱate and his expedition; 3 in 1607 at Cape Henry, Virginia with the landing of the Jamestown settlers; 4 in 1619 at Berkeley Plantation, Virginia; 5 (and many other such celebrations). But it is primarily from the Pilgrim’s Thanksgiving celebration of 1621 that we derive the current tradition of Thanksgiving Day.

The Pilgrims set sail for America on September 6, 1620, and for two months braved the harsh elements of a storm-tossed sea. Upon disembarking at Plymouth Rock, they held a prayer service and then hastily began building shelters; however, unprepared for such a harsh New England winter, nearly half of them died before spring. 6 Emerging from that grueling winter, the Pilgrims were surprised when an Indian named Samoset approached them and greeted them in their own language, explaining to them that he had learned English from fishermen and traders. A week later, Samoset returned with a friend named Squanto, who lived with the Pilgrims and accepted their Christian faith. Squanto taught the Pilgrims much about how to live in the New World, and he and Samoset helped forge a long-lasting peace treaty between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians. Pilgrim Governor William Bradford described Squanto as “a special instrument sent of God for [our] good . . . and never left [us] till he died.” 7

That summer, the Pilgrims, still persevering in prayer and assisted by helpful Indians, 8 reaped a bountiful harvest. 9 As Pilgrim Edward Winslow (later to become the Governor) affirmed, “God be praised, we had a good increase of corn”; “by the goodness of God, we are far from want.” 10 The grateful Pilgrims therefore declared a three-day feast in December 1621 to thank God and to celebrate with their Indian friends 11 – America’s first Thanksgiving Festival. Ninety Wampanoag Indians joined the fifty Pilgrims for three days of feasting (which included shellfish, lobsters, turkey, corn bread, berries, deer, and other foods), of play (the young Pilgrim and Wampanoag men engaged in races, wrestling matches, and athletic events), and of prayer. This celebration and its accompanying activities were the origin of the holiday that Americans now celebrate each November.

However, while the Pilgrims enjoyed times of prosperity for which they thanked God, they also suffered extreme hardships. In fact, in 1623 they experienced an extended and prolonged drought. Knowing that without a change in the weather there would be no harvest and the winter would be filled with death and starvation, Governor Bradford called the Pilgrims to a time of prayer and fasting to seek God’s direct intervention. Significantly, shortly after that time of prayer – and to the great amazement of the Indian who witnessed the scene – clouds appeared in the sky and a gentle and steady rain began to fall. As Governor Bradford explained:

It came without either wind or thunder or any violence, and by degrees in abundance, as that ye earth was thoroughly wet and soaked therewith, which did so apparently revive and quicken ye decayed corn and other fruits as was wonderful to see, and made ye Indians astonished to behold; and afterwards the Lord sent them such seasonable showers, with interchange of fair warm weather as, through His blessing, caused a fruitful and liberal harvest, to their no small comfort and rejoicing. 12

The drought had been broken; the fall therefore produced an abundant harvest; there was cause for another thanksgiving. The Pilgrim practice of designating an official time of Thanksgiving spread into neighboring colonies and became an annual tradition. 13 And just as those neighboring colonies followed the Pilgrims’ example of calling for days of thanksgiving, so, too, did they adopt their practice of calling for a time of prayer and fasting. The New England Colonies therefore developed a practice of calling for a day of prayer and fasting in the spring, and a day of prayer and thanksgiving in the fall.

The Thanksgiving celebrations so common throughout New England did not begin to spread southward until the American Revolution, when Congress issued eight separate national Thanksgiving Proclamations. (Congress also issued seven separate proclamations for times of fasting and prayer, for a total of 15 official prayer proclamations during the American Revolution. 14)

America’s first national Thanksgiving occurred in 1789 with the commencement of the federal government. According to the Congressional Record for September 25 of that year, the first act after the Framers completed the framing of the Bill of Rights was that:

Mr. [Elias] Boudinot said he could not think of letting the session pass without offering an opportunity to all the citizens of the United States of joining with one voice in returning to Almighty God their sincere thanks for the many blessings He had poured down upon them. With this view, therefore, he would move the following resolution:

Resolved, That a joint committee of both Houses be directed to wait upon the President of the United States to request that he would recommend to the people of the United States a Day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer. . . .

Mr. Roger Sherman justified the practice of thanksgiving on any single event not only as a laudable one in itself but also as warranted by a number of precedents in Holy Writ. . . . This example he thought worthy of a Christian imitation on the present occasion. 15

That congressional resolution was delivered to President George Washington, who heartily concurred with the request and issued the first federal Thanksgiving proclamation, declaring in part:

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor. . . . Now, therefore, I do appoint Thursday, the 26th day of November 1789 . . . that we may all unite to render unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection. 16

That same year, the Protestant Episcopal Church (of which President Washington was a member) announced that the first Thursday in November would become its regular day for giving thanks, “unless another day be appointed by the civil authorities.” 17 Following President Washington’s initial proclamation, national Thanksgiving Proclamations occurred only sporadically (another by President Washington in 1795, one by John Adams in 1799, one by James Madison in 1814 and again in 1815, etc.); 18 most official Thanksgiving observances occurred at the state level. In fact, by 1815, the various state governments had issued at least 1,400 official prayer proclamations, almost half for times of thanksgiving and prayer and the other half for times of fasting and prayer. 19

Much of the credit for the adoption of Thanksgiving as an annual national holiday may be attributed to Mrs. Sarah Josepha Hale, the editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book, a popular lady’s books containing poetry, art work, and articles by America’s leading authors. For nearly three decades, she promoted the idea of a national Thanksgiving Day, 20 contacting president after president until Abraham Lincoln responded in 1863 by setting aside the last Thursday of that November. The Thanksgiving proclamation issued by Lincoln was remarkable not only for its strong religious content but also for its timing, for it was delivered in the midst of the darkest days of the Civil War, with the Union having lost battle after battle throughout the first three years of that conflict. Yet, despite those dark circumstances, Lincoln nevertheless called Americans to prayer with an air of positive optimism and genuine thankfulness, noting that:

The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the Source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God. . . . No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, Who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. 21

That remarkable Thanksgiving Proclamation came at a pivotal point in Lincoln’s spiritual life. Three months earlier, the Battle of Gettysburg had occurred, resulting in the loss of some 60,000 American lives. It had been while Lincoln was walking among the thousands of graves there at Gettysburg that he first committed his life to Christ. As he later explained to a clergyman:

When I left Springfield [Illinois, to assume the Presidency], I asked the people to pray for me. I was not a Christian. When I buried my son, the severest trial of my life, I was not a Christian. But when I went to Gettysburg and saw the graves of thousands of our soldiers, I then and there consecrated myself to Christ. 22

The dramatic spiritual impact resulting from that experience was not only visible in Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Day proclamation (and also his 1864 call for a day of prayer and fasting) but especially in his 1865 Second Inaugural Address.

Over the seventy-five years following Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation, presidents faithfully followed Lincoln’s precedent, annually declaring a national Thanksgiving Day (but the date of the celebrations varied widely from proclamation to proclamation). In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt began celebrating Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of each November, and in 1941, Congress permanently established that day as the national Thanksgiving holiday. 23

As you celebrate Thanksgiving this year, remember to retain the original gratefulness to God that has always been the spirit of this – the oldest of all American holidays. (Below are representative examples of the scores of Thanksgiving proclamations penned by various Founding Fathers.)

[Congress] recommended [a day of] . . . thanksgiving and praise [so] that “the good people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts and join . . . their supplication that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, to forgive [our sins] and . . . to enlarge [His] kingdom which consisteth in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.” 24 Continental Congress, 1777 – written by SIGNERS OF THE DECLARATION SAMUEL ADAMS AND RICHARD HENRY LEE

[I] appoint . . . a day of public Thanksgiving to Almighty God . . . to [ask] Him that He would . . . pour out His Holy Spirit on all ministers of the Gospel; that He would . . . spread the light of Christian knowledge through the remotest corners of the earth; . . . and that He would establish these United States upon the basis of religion and virtue. 25 GOVERNOR THOMAS JEFFERSON, 1779

[I] appoint . . . a day of public thanksgiving and praise . . . to render to God the tribute of praise for His unmerited goodness towards us . . . [by giving to] us . . . the Holy Scriptures which are able to enlighten and make us wise to eternal salvation. And [to] present our supplications...that He would forgive our manifold sins and . . . cause the benign religion of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to be known, understood, and practiced among all the inhabitants of the earth. 26 GOVERNOR JOHN HANCOCK, 1790


Endnotes

1. Library of Congress, “Thanksgiving Timeline, 1541-2001” (at: http://lcweb2.loc.gov/learn/features/thanksgiving/timeline/1541.html).

2. Library of Congress, “Thanksgiving Timeline, 1541-2001” (at http://lcweb2.loc.gov/learn/features/thanksgiving/timeline/1564.html).

3. Texas Almanac, “The First Thanksgiving?” (at http://www.texasalmanac.com/history/highlights/thanksgiving).

4. Benson Lossing, Our Country. A Household History of the United States (New York: James A. Bailey, 1895), Vol. 1, pp. 181-182; see also National Park Service, “Robert Hunt: Jamestown’s First Chaplain” (at http://www.nps.gov/archive/colo/Jthanout/RHunt.html).

5. “Berkeley Plantation,” Berkeley Plantation.Com, (at: http://www.berkleyplantation.com/history_discovered.html). (accessed November 17, 2008).

6. William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston: Little, Brown & Co, 1856), pp. 74, 78, 80, 91.

7. William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston: Little, Brown & Co, 1856), p. 95.

8. William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston: Little, Brown & Co, 1856), p. 100.

9. William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston: Little, Brown & Co, 1856), p. 105.

10. William S. Russell, Guide to Plymouth and Recollections of the Pilgrims (Boston: George Coolidge, 1846), p. 95, quoting from a letter of Pilgrim Edward Winslow to George Morton of London, written on December 21, 1621.

11. Ashbel Steele, Chief of the Pilgrims: Or the Life and Time of William Brewster (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co, 1857), pp. 269-270.

12. William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston: Little, Brown & Co, 1856), p. 142.

13. DeLoss Love, Jr, The Fast and Thanksgiving Days of New England (Boston: Houghton,, Mifflin & Co, 1895), pp. 87-90.

14. See the Journals of the Continental Congress (1905) for June 12, 1775; March 16, 1776; December 11, 1776; November 1, 1777; March 7, 1778; November 17, 1778; March 20, 1779; October 20, 1779; March 11, 1780; October 18, 1780; March 20, 1781; October 26, 1781; March 19, 1782; October 11, 1782; October 18, 1783.

15. The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States (Washington: Gales & Seaton, 1834), Vol. I, pp. 949-950.

16. George Washington, Writings of George Washington, Jared Sparks, editor ((Boston: Russell, Odiorne and Metcalf, 1838), Vol. XII, p. 119, Proclamation for a National Thanksgiving on October 3, 1789.

17. The American Cyclopaedia, A Popular Dictionary of General Knowledge, George Ripley and Charles A. Dana, editors (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1883), Vol. XV, p. 684, s.v., “Thanksgiving Day.”

18. See, for example, H. S. J. Sickel, Thanksgiving: Its Source, Philosophy and History With All National Proclamations (Philadelphia: International Printing Co, 1940), pp. 154-155, “Thanksgiving Day- 1795” by George Washington, pp. 156-157, “Thanksgiving Day – 1798” by John Adams, pp. 158-159, “Thanksgiving Day – 1799” by John Adams, p. 160, “Thanksgiving Day – 1814” by James Madison, p. 161, “Thanksgiving Day – 1815” by James Madison, etc.

19. Deloss Love, in his work The Fast and Thanksgiving Days of New England, lists some 1,735 proclamations issued between 1620 and 1820, in a non-exclusive list. Of those, 284 were issued by churches and 1,451 by civil authorities. Of the civil proclamations, 1,028 were issued prior to July 4, 1776, and 413 from July 4, 1776 to 1820. Of the church issued proclamations, 278 were issued before July 4, 1776, and six afterwards. These, however, are only a portion of what were issued; for example, the author personally owns hundreds of additional proclamations not listed in Love’s work. While the exact number of government-issued prayer proclamations is unknown, it is certain that they certainly number in the thousands.

20. Appleton’s Cyclopedia of American Biography, James Grant Wilson & John Fiske, editors (New York: D. Appleton & Co, 1888), Vol. III, p. 35.

21. Abraham Lincoln, The Works of Abraham Lincoln, John H. Clifford & Marion M. Miller, editors (New York: University Society Inc, 1908), Vol. VI, pp. 160-161, Proclamation for Thanksgiving, October 3, 1863. See also, The American Presidency Project, “Abraham Lincoln: Proclamation – Thanksgiving Day, 1863” (at: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index/php?pid=69900&st=&stl=).

22. Abraham Lincoln, The Lincoln Memorial: Album-Immortelles. Osborn H. Oldroyd, editor (New York: G.W. Carleton & Co, 1882) p. 366, Reply to an Illinois Clergyman.

23. The National Archives, “Congress Establishes Thanksgiving” (at: http://www.archives.gov/legislative/features/thanksgiving/); see also Pilgrim Hall Museum, “Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamations 1940-1949: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman” (at: http://www.pilgrimhall.org/ThanxProc1940.htm), Proclamation 2571: Days of Prayer: Thanksgiving Day and New Year’s Day, November 11, 1942, referring to a “joint resolution of Congress approved December 26, 1941, which designates the fourth Thursday in November of each year as Thanksgiving Day.”

24. Journals of the Continental Congress (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1907), Vol. IX, p. 855, November 1, 1777.

25. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Julian P. Boyd, editor (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1951), Vol. 3, p. 178, Proclamation Appointing a Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer, November 11, 1779.

26. John Hancock, Proclamation for a Day of Public Thanksgiving (Boston, 1790), from an original broadside in possession of the author.


From: http://www.wallbuilders.com/LIBissuesArticles.asp?id=17984

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Paul: A people-person?

When you think of Paul in the Bible, what characteristics do you think of? Do you think of him as a missionary, as a writer, maybe as a scholar? Some non-Christians have even accused him of being a male chauvinist pig. But when you examine Romans 16, you see that Paul was intensely interested in people. In fact, judging by Romans 16, Paul might even be said to show more interest in people than anyone else in the Bible except Jesus!

“I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea: That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also.” (Romans 16:1-2)

Phoebe is a pagan name, a feminine form of Phoibos, which was a name given to the god Apollo. But she had become a Christian.

Since Phoebe is the only one commended to the church (the first time the word “church” appears in Romans), it seems likely that she was the bearer of the letter to the church at Rome. She probably had people traveling with her, since it was not safe for a woman to travel alone in the ancient world. She was probably single and a prominent, wealthy woman, since it took money to travel, especially with companions. She had been a servant to the church in Cenchrea (the eastern port of Corinth).

In Romans 16:3-16, Paul sends greetings to over 24 people in Rome, even though he had never been in Rome. When you think about the fact that there was no Internet back then, no TV, no radio, no phones, and not even a postal service as we have today, it is amazing that Paul knew all these people, and knew so much about them. Paul knew most of them personally, so they may have been people he had come to know in his travels and missionary work. As far as the others, possibly someone had come from that city (like Priscilla and Aquila, for example) and had told Paul about them. He may have led some of them to Christ, or maybe they worked with him, or they might have been with him in prison. In any case, Paul remembered them and had kept track of them.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

More on homosexuality

Evangelism and Two Homosexual Men



Gay activists threaten to kill Christians



CLICK THE FOLLOWING link to go to the WorldNetDaily website story:
Sparks fly as 'gay' activist mob swarms Christians


The Way of the Master: Part 1



Part 2



Part 3

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Is Gay the new Black?

by Dennis Prager
Nov. 18, 2008


"Gay is the new black is one of the mottos of the movement to redefine marriage to include two people of the same sex.

The likening of the movement for same-sex marriage to the black civil rights struggle is a primary argument of pro same-sex marriage groups. This comparison is a major part of the moral appeal of redefining marriage: Just as there were those who once believed that blacks and whites should not be allowed to be married, the argument goes, there are today equally bigoted individuals who believe that men should not be allowed to marry men and women should not be allowed to marry women.

It is worth noting that the people least impressed with the comparison of the gay struggle to redefine marriage with the black struggle for racial equality are blacks. They voted overwhelmingly for Californias Proposition 8 which amends the California Constitution to define marriage as being the union of a man and a woman.

One reason given is that blacks tend to be socially conservative. But another, less verbalized, reason may well be that blacks find the comparison demeaning and insulting. As well they should.

One has to either be ignorant of segregation laws and the routine humiliations experienced by blacks during the era of Jim Crow, or one has to be callous to black suffering, to equate that to a person not being allowed to marry a person of the same sex. They are not in the same moral universe.

There is in fact no comparison between the situation of gays in America in 2008 and the situation of most black Americans prior to the civil rights era. Gays are fully accepted, and as a group happen to constitute one of the wealthiest in American life. Moreover, not being allowed to marry a person of the same sex is not anti-gay; it is pro-marriage as every civilization has defined it. The fact is that states like California already grant people who wish to live and love a member of the same sex virtually every right that marriage bestows except the word married.

A certain number of gay men will feel better if they can call their partner husband and some lesbians will enjoy calling their partner wife, but society as a whole is not benefitted by such a redefinition of those words. Society as a whole does not benefit by removing, as California did, the words bride and groom from marriage licenses and substituting Partner A and Partner B.

But hoping that the more radical gays and straights of the gay rights movement will ask what benefits society? before what makes some gays feel better? is useless.

And so, the movement appropriates the symbols and rhetoric of the back civil rights struggle when that struggle and the movement to redefine marriage have next to nothing in common. How can a seriously moral individual compare forcing a black bus rider to sit in the back of a bus or to give up his seat to a white who demands it, or prohibiting a black human being from drinking from the same water fountain or eating at the same lunch counter as a white human being, or being denied the right to vote, or being prohibited from attending a school with whites, let alone being periodically lynched, to either the general gay condition today or specifically to being given the right to redefine marriage for society?

But radically redefining the most important institution in the life of a civilization; and routinely labeling as the moral equivalent of racists every individual who does not want children regularly asked whether they will marry a boy or a girl when grown up, and who rightly fears that every traditional religious community will be labeled as a hate group — these are not commensurate with civil rights.

Gay and straight activists who liken their demand to redefine marriage to black suffering under Jim Crow merely cheapen historic black suffering. Most blacks know this but for the sake of their political coalition wont say it. They should. Rosa Parks is in a different moral category than the protestors against Proposition 8."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Saudi Arabia Hosts Interfaith Meeting

CBN News
November 14, 2008


"CWN.org - Saudi Arabia's King Abdallah sponsored an interfaith meeting at the U.N. this week, in hopes, he said, of building bridges between people of different faiths and cultures.

Some say the idea of Saudi Arabia hosting a conference on religious tolerance is absurd, because it forbids the practice of any religion except Wahabbi Islam.

Carl Moeller is president of the religious freedom group, Open Doors USA.

"In Saudi Arabia itself there's absolutely no religious tolerance," he said. "It's the worst persecutor of Christians and other faiths of any country in the Muslim world."

World leaders, including President Bush and Israeli President Shimon peres attended the event.

In his address, Bush said freedom is crucial to fostering peace between faiths.

"People who are free to express their opinions can challenge the ideologies of hate," he said. "They can defend their religious beliefs and speak out against those seeking to twist them to evil ends."

But religious rights groups say the conference is hiding a grave threat to freedom of speech.

King Abdallah has been building support for a UN resolution called combating the defamation of religions.

Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice says that despite its name, the resolution is really designed to give Islam special status.

"The fact of the matter is that this defamation of religion has nothing to do with protecting religious freedom," he said. "What it does is isolate and protect Islam from criticism."

Moeller says the resolution is more like a global gag law that would give muslim countries legal cover to punish those who question Islam.

"You might remember the response of world nations that were particularly offended by the Danish cartoons, the riots in many Muslim countries because they considered those cartoons an offense to Islam," he began. "Well this resolution will institutionalize that perspective in many Muslim countries."

And he says it can have a harmful effect on Christians.

Simple Christian activities like praying worshipping and sharing one's belief in Jesus Christ with a neighbor can be interpreted as offensive and therefore restricted," he said.

At the U.N., the interfaith meeting did break some new ground.

When Israeli President Shimon Peres addressed the group, it was the first time that a Saudi Arabian official did not walk out when an Israeli spoke."
http://www.cbn.com/CBNnews/481557.aspx

Monday, November 17, 2008

Quotes regarding Creation

"I can see how it might be possible for a man to look down upon earth and be an atheist, but I cannot conceive how he could look up into the heavens and say there is no God.”
(Abraham Lincoln)

"The visible order of the universe proclaims a supreme intelligence."
(Jean-Jacques Rousseau)

"Science brings men nearer to God."
(Louis Pasteur)

"The visible marks of extraordinary wisdom and power appear so plainly in all the works of the creation that a rational creature, who will but seriously reflect on them, cannot miss the discovery of a Deity."
(John Locke)

"As a house implies a builder, and a garment a weaver, and a door a carpenter, so does the existence of the Universe imply a Creator."
(Marquis de Vauvenargues)

"It is impossible to account for the creation of the universe without the agency of a Supreme Being."
(George Washington)

"Of what I call God, And fools call Nature."
(Robert Browning)

"So irresistible are these evidences of an intelligent and powerful Agent that, of the infinite numbers of men who have exited thro' all the time, they have believed, in the proportion of a million at least to Unit, in the hypotheses of an eternal pre-existence of a creator, rather than in that of a self-existent Universe."
(Thomas Jefferson)

"Nature is the art of God."
(Dante Alighieri)

"The more I study nature, the more I stand amazed at the work of the Creator."
(Louis Pasteur)

(Also see my past blog articles on Creation)

Friday, November 14, 2008

God has a sense of humor

I just found a website called "Share Your Story Now.org"
One article there is called “Is There Humor in the Bible?”

I thought this person's comment there was quite humorous:

jennranwez says:
April 2nd, 2008 at 8:04 am
"My favorite–the one that cracks me up every time–is John 20:3-9. This is the most amazing moment in history for the disciples: they’re at Jesus’ tomb, and he’s *gone!* He has risen!
But notice the funny thing about this passage. The author, John (who was the youngest disciple and doesn’t ever refer to himself in the 1st person) points out that he got to the tomb first. Check it out:
vs. 3-4: So Peter and the other disciple [John] started for the tomb. Both were running, **but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.**
vs. 6: Then Simon Peter, **who was behind him,** arrived and went into the tomb.
vs. 8: Finally the other disciple, **who had reached the tomb first,** also went inside.
So John points out that he was faster than Peter. Not once, but THREE times!
Ha Ha! Who cares who got to the tomb first? That just cracks me up. It’s such a guy thing; even in the gospels, they’re competitive. :)"

So I decided I would add a couple examples of humor in the Bible myself:

The most hilarious verse in the Bible to me is in Proverbs, which was written by Solomon, who had a thousand wives. Just imagine a guy having all those wives around, and now listen to this verse:
“It is better to live in the corner of an attic than with a crabby woman in a lovely home.”
(Proverbs 21:9)

I also think God had a sense of humor when He sent the plagues against Egypt. Yahweh God (Jehovah) humiliated each of the Egyptian gods, one by one.

The Egyptians worshiped Hapi, the Egyptian god of the Nile. This Egyptian god was a water bearer: so Yahweh God turned the water to blood.

The Egyptians worshiped Heket, the Egyptian god of Fertility, Water and Renewal. Heket the Egyptian god had the head of a frog: so God had a plague of frogs come from the Nile River.

The Egyptians worshiped Geb, the Egyptian god of the Earth. The Egyptian god Geb was over the dust of the earth: so God caused a plague of lice to come from the dust of the earth.

The Egyptians worshiped Khepri, the Egyptian god of creation, movement of the Sun, and rebirth. Khepri the Egyptian god had the head of a fly:
so God sent swarms of flies.

The Egyptians worshiped Hathor, the Egyptian goddess of Love and Protection. Usually this Egyptian goddess was depicted with the head of a cow: so God caused the death of the cattle and livestock.

The Egyptians worshiped Isis, the Egyptian goddess of Medicine and Peace: so the ashes that Moses took from the furnace of affliction and threw into the air caused boils and sores on the Egyptians and their animals.

The Egyptians worshiped Nut, the Egyptian goddess of the Sky: so God caused fiery rain to hail down from the sky.

The Egyptians worshiped Seth, the Egyptian god of Storms and Disorder: so God sent locusts from the sky.

The Egyptians worshiped Ra, the Sun god: so God caused 3 days of complete darkness.

The Egyptians considered Pharaoh to be the Ultimate Power of Egypt. The king of Egypt was worshiped by the Egyptians because he was considered to be the greatest Egyptian god of all. It was believed that he was actually the son of Ra himself, manifest in the flesh: therefore, Yahweh God caused the death of the firstborn, including the death of Pharaoh’s firstborn.

One by one, Yahweh God showed Himself to be greater than each and every one of the Egyptian gods. It’s the kind of thing that makes me want to shout, “WOO-HOO!”