William Ramsey – The Secret of the Smiley Face Serial Killer
Gary Wayne and David Carrico – The Mysterious Essene- From Ancient Times to Present Day
Richard Phillips – Biblical Parenting 3: Parenting for Middle Childhood
What is “sanctification”? Is it a quality or position? Is sanctification a legal thing or an experimental? That is to say, “Is it something the believer has in Christ or in himself? Is it absolute or relative?” By which we mean, “Does it admit of degree or no? Is it unchanging or progressive?” Are we sanctified at the time we are justified, or is sanctification a later blessing? How is this blessing obtained? By something that is done for us, or by us, or both? How may one be assured he has been sanctified: what are the characteristics, the evidences, the fruits?…Are sanctification and purification the same thing? Does sanctification relate to the soul, the body, or both? What position does sanctification occupy in the order of Divine blessings? What is the connection between regeneration and sanctification? What is the relation between justification and sanctification?…Exactly what is the place of sanctification regarding salvation: does it precede or follow, or is it an integral part of it? Why is there so much diversity of opinion upon these points, scarcely any two writers treating of this subject in the same manner? Our purpose here is not simply to multiply questions but to indicate the many-sidedness of our present theme.
The great importance of our present theme is evidenced by the prominence that is given to it in Scripture: the words holy, sanctified, etc., occurring therein hundreds of times. Its importance also appears from the high value ascribed to it: it is the supreme glory of God, of the unfallen angels, of the Church. In Exodus 15:11, we read that the Lord God is “glorious in holiness” —that is His crowning excellency. In Matthew 25:31, mention is made of the “holy angels,” for no higher honor can be ascribed them. In Ephesians 5:26-27, we learn that the Church’s glory lieth not in pomp and outward adornment, but in holiness. Its importance further appears in that this is the aim in all God’s dispensations.2 He elected His people that they should be “holy” (Eph. 1:4); Christ died that He might “sanctify” His people (Heb 13:12); chastisements3 are sent that we might be “partakers of God’s holiness” (Heb 12:10).
No practice in your home will prove more beneficial to your family than daily family worship.
Just as two bankers living together doesn’t make a bank, so two or more Christians living together doesn’t make a Christian home. The exchanges that happen in a bank, or in a home, define a place.
Christians worship; that is what we do. Worship defines our churches and our personal lives, and it should mark our homes. In fact, family worship has a long history in the Protestant church. Along with corporate and private worship, it has been considered one of the regular routines of the Christian life. And the benefits are eternal.
The Central Mark of the Christian Home
Of course, all kinds of activities occur in our homes. My family loves to play games, cook together, and watch funny videos. Though I love doing each of these activities with my wife and children, I hope none of these events occupies the center of our home and life together.
In the Great Commission outlined in Matthew 28:19, Jesus commanded his disciples and subsequent generations of believers to “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.” The phrase all nations or panta ta ethne in Greek has subsumed within it the concept of “ethnic (or ethnolinguistic) groups, and all the “nations” refers to all the ethnolinguistic groups in the world.” The Muslim Hui of China represent a clear example of an ethne that is in dire need of hearing the saving message of the gospel.
Despite encounters in the 7th century with Nestorian Christians and more recent missionary indigenous and Western missionary engagement, the Muslim Hui of China, a population of 10 million people, remains largely unevangelized. The Hui are deeply tied to Islamic faith and practices. Cross-cultural missionary efforts have been limited by past persecution of the Hui by the Han Chinese and foreigners. Efforts to reach the Hui have often focused on altering the Hui’s cultural identity into a more Westernized Christian construct rather than allowing the Hui to maintain their distinct cultural elements thereby utilizing those elements as a bridge of contextualization and evangelization. This forcing of Western ideals on the Hui as well as deeply engrained Muslim proclivities against Judeo-Christian beliefs are contributing factors to the current status of the Hui as an unreached people group.
This paper will examine the historico-cultural, economic, and religious background of the Muslim Hui of China, the missional methodologies utilized to reach them; meanwhile offering critical analysis of those methodologies, alternatively proposing an effective multi-faceted strategy to evangelize the Hui in a culturally relevant framework.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON THE MUSLIM HUI OF CHINA
The Hui have a population estimated to be around 10 million people scattered throughout the various provinces of China with the highest concentrations of Hui being in the Ningxia, Qinghai, and Gansu provinces. Nearly 20% of the Hui live in the Ningxia Autonomous Region resulting in this area being known as the “Hometown of the Huis.”
Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Luke 13:3
First of all, what is repentance? Let us see that we set down our feet firmly on this point. The importance of the inquiry cannot be overrated.
Repentance is one of the foundation stones of Christianity. Sixty times, at least, we find repentance spoken of in the New Testament. What was the first doctrine our Lord Jesus Christ reached? We are told that He said, “Repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mar 1:15). What did the apostles proclaim when the Lord sent them forth the first time? They “preached that men should repent” (Mar 6:12). What was the charge that Jesus gave His disciples when He left the world? That “repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations” (Luk 24:47). What was the concluding appeal of the first sermons that Peter preached? “Repent, and be baptized…Repent ye, and be converted” (Act 2:38; 3:19). What was the summary of doctrine that Paul gave to the Ephesian elders, when he parted from them? He told them that he had taught them publicly, and from house to house, “testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Act 20:21). What was the description that Paul gave of his own ministry, when he made his defense before Festus and Agrippa? He told them that he had showed all men that they should “repent, and do works meet for repentance” (Act 26:20). What was the account given by the believers at Jerusalem of the conversion of the Gentiles? When they heard of it, they said, “Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life” (Act 11:18)…Surely, we must all agree that these are serious considerations. They ought to show the importance of the inquiry I am now making. A mistake about repentance is a most dangerous mistake. An error about repentance is an error that lies at the very roots of our religion. What, then, is repentance? When can it be said of any man that he repents?
Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. Luke 23:34
First, my friends, it appears from the text that there are unknown depths in human iniquity: “They know not what they do.” You will tell me, perhaps, that Christ applied this remark to His murderers, who did not know that He was the Son of God; for, if they had known Him to be the Messiah, “They would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1Co 2:8); and it might have been said to them, “Ye did it ignorantly in unbelief” (1Ti 1:13). I grant you that this was the immediate meaning of Christ’s words; but, I think…this saying is true of the entire human family. Whenever any of us sin, we know not what we do.
Do not misunderstand me. There is no man in the world who has not enough perception left to teach him the difference between right and wrong…Yet I must admit at the outset that it is possible for the conscience to become so blind through prevailing customs, so seared through lengthened habit, and so perverted through absolute ignorance that men may sin and yet know not what they do…Let me show you, as briefly and forcibly as I can, how this is the fact.
Sin truly is, and God’s people apprehend it to be, the greatest evil in the world…If you compare the evil of sin with other evils, you shall see how short all other kinds of evils are to this evil of sin.
1. Most of all, other evils are only outward. They are only such as are on the body, the estate, the name; but sin is an inward evil, an evil upon the soul, which is the greatest of evils.
2. All other evils are only of a temporal nature. They have an end. Poverty, sickness, disgrace — all these are great evils; but these and all others have an end. Death puts a conclusion to them all. But this evil of sin is of an eternal nature that shall never have an end. Eternity itself shall have no period to this.
3. All other evils do not make a man the subject of God’s wrath and hatred. A man may have all other evils and yet be in the love of God. You may be poor and yet precious in God’s esteem. You may be under all kinds of miseries and yet dear in God’s thoughts. But sin is an evil that makes the soul the subject of God’s wrath and hatred. The absence of all other goods, the presence of all created evils, will not make you hateful to God if sin is not there, so the presence of all other goods and the absence of all other evils will not render you lovely if sin is there.
Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. (Psalm 34:13)
There is a term used by Jewish rabbinic tradition called lashon hara. I submit most have not heard of this term in the Hebrew parlance; however, it is a concept firmly rooted in Scripture. Lashon hara means “evil tongue” and is derived from passages such as Leviticus 19:16 and Proverbs 10:18. With that said, perhaps the most notable verse that speaks to the issue of lashon hara is Psalm 34:13.
What exactly then is meant by “evil tongue?” There is no shortage in Scripture of passages that speak of the tongue or how to define godly and ungodly verbal interaction with not just our fellow man, but also regarding how we speak of God. Notably as it relates to the tongue and God, we can point to Exodus 20:7 which declares, “You shall not take the name of the God in vain.” In other words, evil tongue as it relates to God involves but is not limited to trying to make the name above all names common. For more insight into what it means to take the name of God in vain, check out my post on this subject.
As lashon hara relates to our fellow man, there are all types of examples. Evil tongue involves things such as gossip, lying, bearing false witness, slander, malice, anger, bitterness, perversion, and honestly the list can go on and on.
It is no wonder the Apostle James saliently noted,
“Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water. (James 3:4-12)
I humbly admit that lashon hara is something for which I continually struggle. It is far too easy to gossip, lie, and slander another person. At the moment in which lashon hara occurs, there is a certain sense of evil satisfaction, a belief that somehow you have stuck it to another person. They deserved it after all right? After all, nothing wrong with a little water cooler gossip about that co-worker and nothing wrong with setting someone straight on social media to include a few choice words to boot, right?
The answer to those questions is a resounding no. Lashon hara (evil tongue) should never be part of the daily walk of a child of God. For starters, He commands us to never treat Him that way and furthermore, we are to love God and love others. Love can be stern and corrective; however, love never involves lashon hara. Evil tongue is a hallmark of the wicked. Tearing down and destroying one another with our tongue is the complete opposite of how the body of Messiah is to operate.
Why then do we fall prey so often to lashon hara? I firmly believe it is like a gateway drug if you will. It seems alluring at the time and we make believe words do not matter when in reality they do. If what we say to one another did not matter, God would not repeatedly outline what godly speech looks like. Since He does all throughout Scripture, what we say and how we say it is of the utmost importance.
If you struggle with evil tongue, I encourage you to pray to God for forgiveness and to seek forgiveness from those you may have hurt by engaging in lashon hara. This will likely take a great deal of humility, but it is a necessary first step in resisting and purging yourself of this pernicious behavior.
I also encourage you to do a biblical study on the tongue. Note how Scripture outlines the manner in which we should treat one another with our speech. This will involve noting both good examples of proper speech as well as bad examples given in Scripture of speech. The good, the bad, and the ugly are provided in Scripture for a reason.
Finally, realize that more often than not, silence is golden. Lashon hara often stems from immaturity in this area of our life, a desire to fly off the handle to satisfy self. As the old saying goes, “If you do not having anything nice to say, do not say anything at all.” Or as my mother used to remind me, “Zip your lip.”
I shall show what a heinous and execrable thing sin is. It is the complication of all evil; it is the spirits of mischief distilled. The Scripture calls it the “accursed thing” (Joshua 7:13); it is compared to the venom of serpents, the stench of sepulchers. The apostle useth this expression of sin, “Out of measure sinful” (Rom 7:13), or, as it is in the Greek, “Hyperbolically sinful.” The devil would paint over sin with the vermillion color of pleasure and profit that he may make it look fair; but I shall pull off the paint from sin that you may see the ugly face of it. We are apt to have slight thoughts of sin and say to it, as Lot of Zoar, “Is it not a little one?” (Gen 19:20). But that you may see how great an evil sin is, consider these four things:
1. The origin of sin from whence it comes: It fetcheth its pedigree from hell. Sin is of the devil: “He that committeth sin is of the devil” (1 John 3:8). Satan was the first actor of sin and the first tempter to sin: sin is the devil’s firstborn.
2. Sin is evil in the nature of it. (1) It is a defiling thing. Sin is not only a defection, but a pollution. It is to the soul as rust is to gold, as a stain is to beauty. It makes the soul red with guilt and black with filth. Sin in Scripture is compared to a “menstruous cloth” (Isaiah 30:22), to a plague-sore (1 Kings 8:38). Joshua’s filthy garments, in which he stood before the angel (Zec 3:3), were nothing but a type and hieroglyphic of sin. Sin hath blotted God’s image and stained the orient brightness of the soul. Sin makes God loathe a sinner (Zech 11:8); and when a sinner sees his sin, he loathes himself (Ezek 20:43). Sin drops poison on our holy things: it infects our prayers. The high priest was to make atonement for sin on the altar (Ex 29:36) to typify that our holiest services need Christ to make an atonement for them. Duties of religion in themselves are good, but sin corrupts them, as the purest water is polluted running through muddy ground. Under the law, if the leper had touched the altar, the altar had not cleansed him; but he had defiled the altar. The apostle calls sin, “Filthiness of the flesh and spirit” (2 Cor 7:1). Sin stamps the devil’s image on a man…It turns a man into a devil: “Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?” (John 6:70).
The problem of evil is an issue that has continually perplexed humanity. Philosophers such as David Hume, John Hume, J. L. Mackie, and Alvin Plantinga, along with theologians such as Augustine have developed theodices in an effort to provide an answer to not only the existence of evil, but also why an omnipotent God allows the existence of evil. Many, when attempting to postulate a solution to the problem of evil still ponder the ancient philosopher Epicurus’ age old question: “Is he [God] willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then is he impotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then is he malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?”
How one engages this complex issue greatly influences their perception of God as well as His interaction with humanity. One must broach the problem of evil through the lens of scriptural exposition. Given finite man is incapable of holistically understanding the actions of an omnipotent God, any theodicy will encounter difficulties explaining the existence and purpose of evil. This paper will outline four respected theodices arguing for a combination of the ideas presented by Augustine and Alvin Plantinga as the basis for both a biblically sound approach to an ultimate solution for the problem of evil based on the concomitant ideas of God’s goodness and man’s sinfulness.
THE NEED FOR A THEODICY
John Stott rightly commented, “the fact of suffering undoubtedly constitutes the single greatest challenge to the Christian faith.” In a world fraught with suffering, it is necessary for the believer to develop a cogent theodicy. The multifarious solutions presented by philosophers and theologians have only served to obfuscate the underlying issue that must be addressed, namely how an omnipotent God allows evil to exist. C. S. Lewis saliently explains the prospect of answering [the problem] depends on showing that the terms “good” and “almighty,” and perhaps also the term “happy” are equivocal: for it must be admitted from the outset that if the popular meanings attached to these words are the best, or the only possibly meanings, then the argument is unanswerable. But wait, there’s more!