Greg Koukl – Tactics for Discussing Christian Convictions
Tim Keesee – Therefore, Go
John MacArthur – What Is Sin?
Where our Lord deems it necessary, He accomplishes great good in our souls through trials of various kinds (1 Peter 1:6). But wherever great good is in the works, we can be sure that evil is lurking nearby (Romans 7:21). This is why Peter warns us to “Be sober-minded; be watchful.” The reason is clear: …View full post
The Word of God must ever be transcendently precious to the believer. The Bible is, from its commencement to its close, a record of the Lord Jesus. Around Him the divine and glorious Word centers; all its wondrous types, prophecies, and facts gather. His Promise and Foreshadowing, His holy Incarnation, Nativity, and Baptism, His Obedience …View full post
Where our Lord deems it necessary, He accomplishes great good in our souls through trials of various kinds (1 Peter 1:6). But wherever great good is in the works, we can be sure that evil is lurking nearby (Romans 7:21). This is why Peter warns us to “Be sober-minded; be watchful.” The reason is clear: “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). Like a cunning lion, he targets those who struggle at the back of the herd.
We may feel as if fighting the temptation to sin is the last thing that we can handle while weak in our suffering. However, we must always remember that the Tempter of Old doesn’t fight fair. Sin is not a polite guest. It doesn’t notice suffering and say, “Terribly sorry! You look busy right now. I’ll come back another time that’s more convenient for you.” No. Sin is scheming, crouching at our door, desiring to have us when our guard is down. Sin has no rules of war, no code of honor. It stabs a man in the back, raids the infirmary, and makes off with the women and children. Against such an enemy, we cannot afford to ignore Peter’s command to be watchful.
Though the trials we face will vary greatly from person to person and season to season, we must learn to recognize those that are common to all people in order to withstand them. Here are a few of the temptations that suffering believers commonly face:
1. Self-pity. The “I don’t deserve this,” voice is familiar to many of us. Sometimes, it may even be true in a creature to creature sense. Injustice is real- we are not always treated fairly by others or our hard work is not always fittingly acknowledged. Other times, self-pity rears up when suffering exceeds our determined limit- we want to say “when.” Or self-pity may functionally believe, “God exists to serve me, and he’s not doing a very good job.” In some cases, lament is very appropriate, but sulking in self-pity only keeps us from true comfort. It twists our reason into believing that our misery is the cause not the result of our problems. Without defining our own sin as the source of our cursed state, we will not be able to see and be thankful for mercy. In reality, we deserve death (Rom 6:23), but “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom 5:8) Self-pity is driven off by thanksgiving for mercy.
The Word of God must ever be transcendently precious to the believer. The Bible is, from its commencement to its close, a record of the Lord Jesus. Around Him the divine and glorious Word centers; all its wondrous types, prophecies, and facts gather. His Promise and Foreshadowing, His holy Incarnation, Nativity, and Baptism, His Obedience and Passion, His Death, Burial, and Resurrection, His Ascension to heaven, His Second Coming to judge the world, are the grand and touching, the sublime and tender, the priceless and precious truths interwoven with the whole texture of the Bible, to which the Two Witnesses of Revelation, the Old and the New Testaments bear their harmonious and solemn testimony.
Beloved, let this be the one and chief object in your study of the Bible- the knowledge of Jesus.
The Bible is not a history, a book of science, or a poem; it is a record of Christ. Study it to know more of Him, His nature, His love, His work. With the magnanimous Paul, “count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus your Lord.”
Then will God’s Word become increasingly precious to your soul, and its truths unfold.
In every page you will, trace the history of Jesus, see the glory of Jesus, admire the work of Jesus, learn the love of Jesus, and hear the voice of Jesus.
The whole volume will be redolent of His name, and luminous with His beauty.
For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light. (Luke 8:17)
I love a good conspiracy documentary, book, conversation, or movie. There is something about trying to uncover that secret government or worldwide plot to take over the world that is appealing to me. Be it the Illuminati, the Bilderberg Meetings, what takes place at those Bohemian Grove gatherings, or what exactly Area 51 is or isn’t all about makes for some great reading and television programming – at least in my humble opinion.
As I spent some idle time recently while on vacation watching episodes from The History Channel’s series “America’s Book of Secrets”, I was reminded of the words of Jesus in Luke 8:17. Regardless of what may at the time seem like a giant secret being kept from the unwashed masses, there is one day when everything will be made manifest. All those secrets people thought they had kept perfectly hidden from peering eyes will be made known and will come to light.
Now think about that for a moment. While most of us I would submit are not involved in any secret governmental conspiracies to take over the world, every one of us harbors areas of our lives we think can be kept from being discovered – those pet sins and things we hold dear that have not been given up to God. There was a man named Achan way back in the book of Joshua who thought he could hide some of the spoils of war from God; however, his sin was found out. In fact, his private sinful act became exposed to the entire people of Israel with disastrous consequences.
There very well may be a group or groups of people trying to maneuver world events in their favor. Quite frankly, I would not be surprised as there has always been individuals who have thought they could thwart the divine plans of almighty God. For a time, it may even seem like their plans are coming to fruition. Many times in the Psalms we read of the Psalmist asking God why the plans of the wicked seem to prosper. However, the Psalmist always recognized that God is fully in control and what may appear as successful posturing against God by the wicked is nothing more than chaff which in God’s perfect timing will be blown away, proving their plans to be nothing.
If we bring this home a bit to our personal lives, all those parts of our life we like to keep hid will one day be revealed under the microscope of God’s scrutiny. As believers, those sinful patterns are covered by the shed blood of Christ. With that said, we need to remind ourselves that nothing is hidden from the eyes of God. If there are areas of your life you are hiding from others, be mindful you are not fooling God one bit. It is high time we quit the conspiracy, thinking we can out maneuver God and is it past time to be giving those areas of our lives up to God. Dig deep into the Word of God and the Holy Spirit will root out those hidden areas of your life.
While I love a good conspiracy, there is nothing hidden from God. He will reveal and make manifest all those things everyone throughout history thought they had nailed shut. We all have areas that we like to keep quiet about and if that is you today (and it is), go to God in prayer. He already knows those parts of your life and He is looking forward to having a conversation with you about those areas because He loves you, He wants to rid you of those issues as He guides and molds you through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.
Do you ever struggle with doubt? You do if you’re honest.
Doubt affects the lives of many believers. The reality is that no one’s faith is ever perfect in this life. That includes you. And if your faith is not perfect, then it can grow and become stronger today than it was yesterday.
I like to think of doubt as the gap between our current faith and perfect faith. If this is the case, we all doubt.
Not only this, but there is nothing Christians cannot doubt. Sometimes we doubt our salvation; other times we doubt God’s love. Many times we will even doubt the reliability of Scripture, the existence of God, or the identity of Christ. Even John the Baptist, whom Christ called the greatest man ever born (Matt. 11:11), once expressed doubt about the very identity of Christ (Matt. 11:3).
Here are seven principles to consider when dealing with doubt.
1. Have mercy on those who doubt.
Jude 22 tells us to “have mercy on those who doubt.” It is easy to judge, condemn, and look down on doubters as if they are second-rate Christians. But to have mercy on those who doubt is to be there for them, comforting and building them up.
Many times, this isn’t just an overnight bout with doubt that ends after a good night’s sleep. Some are doubters for a lifetime. It’s just in their nature. You need to learn to have mercy on them (and on yourself). You may have to answer the same questions over and over again. That’s all right. And it’s an opportunity for you to learn patience.
It’s easy to feel pressure to make the Bible seem cool and relevant to teenagers. What Christian doesn’t want young people to see the importance of God’s Word?
In my years in youth ministry, though, I’ve seen unhelpful and even harmful methods of trying to make Scripture relevant. Book publishers make Bibles look like magazines, youth workers preach a hipster Jesus, and parents confuse their child’s involvement in a fun youth group for a growing relationship with God.
Yet in our efforts to make Scripture more entertaining, we actually confirm suspicions that it is in fact boring and irrelevant. And when youth workers aren’t as cool as they think they are, their efforts end up looking cheesy, which is the last thing that will help a teenager see the Bible’s importance.
So how do you break through to a young person so they see Scripture’s significance? How do you impress the Bible’s relevance on a teenager who gauges importance by whatever’s atop her social media stream?
It’s Already Relevant
If you want teens — whether in your home or youth group — to appreciate the Bible, the first thing you must do is trust its relevance in your own heart. That trust should come across in how you talk about what the Bible says and why it matters. Scripture testifies to its own importance for God’s people, sometimes even pointing to young people in particular (Prov. 2:1–15; Eph. 6:1–3; 2 Tim. 3:16).
Atlantis is one of those stories that seems to perpetually captivate the imagination. From movies made by Disney to books that attempt to find support for civilization actually existing, say the word Atlantis and all manner of ideas come to mind. But did Atlantis really exist in some for or fashion or was it merely the imagination of Plato? Can any valid support, specifically historical or geological, be presented that proves such a place existed? In the interesting book Atlantis: Fact or Fiction edited by Edwin Ramage, six scholars contribute their perspective from the approach of literature, mythological studies, history, and geology.
The overarching belief by the contributors to this book is Atlantis is nothing more than the imagination of Plato. Little if any proof can be discovered in their estimation to support Atlantis as being real. Despite the efforts of authors such as Ignatius Donnelly and others to carry on the fascination with Atlantis, the contributors to this particular work reject outright Atlantis as being real. If anything, it is nothing more than an attempt by Plato to describe the state of affairs in his lifetime.
I have long found the idea of Atlantis to be fascinating. Could Atlantis have been a place that existed for instance before the Noahic flood? Given the catastrophic events described by Plato that led to the demise of this supposedly advanced civilization, could there be some method to connect the global deluge described in Scripture with the destruction of Atlantis? I went into reading this book hoping such an approach would be alluded to with some level of series thought given to that idea. While the biblical flood narrative was mentioned by contributor S. Casey Fredericks, it was in the context of Noah’s flood being just another in a long line of ancient flood legends. In fact, Fredericks clearly states his belief that the story of Atlantis as told by Plato is rooted in same foundation as all the other mythological flood stories in the various Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) cultures. The biblical account is simply just another ANE story or perhaps a legend.
Ultimately, it seems clear, at least from the perspective of the various scholars who contributed to this book, that the story of Atlantis belongs squarely in the realm of myth. I found it interesting; however, that the basis for that belief to some degree is founded on the rejection of a global catastrophe as being valid. One contributor in particular discussed the lack of geological evidence for the destruction of Atlantis. She referenced the slow and methodical movement of continents with another contributor noting the millions of years of the geologic scale. The millions of years statement of course is in keeping with the theory of evolution which rejects any sort of perspective taken from a source such as the Bible and more specifically, the notion of a global catastrophic flood as being a major factor for consideration.
It would be interesting to read what a creation scientist might have to say about the geological factors that might have an impact on the validity of the Atlantean myth. In the end, the story of Atlantis might be just that, a fun story told by Plato that has no verifiable historical roots. The contributors to Atlantis: Fact or Fiction definitely sit on the side of Atlantis being fiction. The evidence they presented is compelling and thus I would consider this a worthwhile read if you are interested in the veracity of Plato’s story of Atlantis. If nothing else, it will provide you with some food for thought and it might, as it has done for me, drive you to study this topic a bit further to see if there is a possibility of connection the global catastrophe of Noah’s flood to something such as the destruction of Atlantis. It may be just rabbit hole, but sometimes rabbit holes are a fun journey to take.
Outside of the rejection of the biblical account of Noah’s flood as mere myth and the embracing of evolution’s millions of years mantra to discussion matters of geology, I found this book to be quite interesting. It does not fully solve for me the mystery of Atlantis nor do the arguments presented create a full doubt in my mind of the existence of Atlantis, but after reading this book, I definitely am more informed of the various pro and con arguments, and I realize even more the need to support the biblical account of something like Noah’s flood as being actual history even when engaging what may prove to be the story of Atlantis being just a story/myth.
The prophet Habakkuk was sorely distressed. His misery was provoked by the spectacle of the threat of the pagan nation of Babylon against Judah. To this prophet it was unthinkable that God would use an evil nation against His own people; after all, Habakkuk mused, “God is too holy even to look upon evil.” So the prophet protested by mounting his watchtower and demanding an answer from God: “And the LORD answered me: ‘Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith’” (Hab. 2:2–4).
The final words of this utterance, “the righteous shall live by faith,” are cited three times in the New Testament by the familiar words, “the just shall live by faith.” In this phrase, “faith” refers to “trust in God.” It involves trusting in the future promises of God and waiting for their fulfillment. The promise to Habakkuk is one of just thousands given by God in Scripture to His people. Such promises characteristically come with the admonition that though they tarry, we must wait for them.
Waiting for God is at the heart of living by faith. The Christian does not share the cynical skepticism dramatized by the theatrical production “Waiting for Godot.” The end of Christian hope is never shame or embarrassment, because we have a hope that is a sure anchor for our souls. It is this hope in the trustworthy promises of God that is the ground of the Christian’s virtue of patience.
Christian, consider the freeness and wonderfulness of the grace of God towards yourself. You had such a wicked heart, you lived such a wicked life, and it would have been most just with God to have cast you off forever. But he has had mercy upon you; he has made his glorious grace appear in your eternal salvation.
You had no love to God; but yet he has exercised unspeakable love to you.
You have despised God, and set light by him; but so great a value has God’s grace set on you and your happiness, that you have been redeemed at the price of the blood of his own Son.
You chose to be with Satan in his service; but yet God has made you a joint heir with Christ of his glory.
You were ungrateful for past mercies; yet God not only continued those mercies, but bestowed unspeakably greater mercies upon you.
You refused to hear when God called; yet God heard you when you called.
You abused the infiniteness of God’s mercy to encourage yourself in sin against him; yet God has manifested the infiniteness of that mercy, in the exercises of it towards you.
You have rejected Christ, and set him at nothing; and yet he is become your Savior.
You have neglected your own salvation; but God has not neglected it.
You would have destroyed yourself; but yet in God has been your help.
God has magnified his free grace towards you, and not to others; because he has chosen you, and it has pleased him to set his love upon you.