Jason Todd – The Socially Acceptable Sin

Most Christians today like to say that all sins are “equal” in the eyes of God, that there is no scale of less or worse sins, that a white lie or a homicide alike would have been enough to require Christ to die on the cross. We say this in theory, but in practice, we know that a white lie won’t get you kicked off the church leadership team. And a homicide likely will.

In practice, there are some sins that are socially acceptable, even in the Church. There’s one sin in particular that has pervaded our society and churches so silently we hardly give it a second thought, and that is the constant hunt for more over what is enough. Or, in an uglier terminology, what is known as gluttony.

When I think about gluttony, I think about my desire to shove a dozen donuts into my mouth and wash them down with chocolate milk. Or perhaps it’s my tendency to mindlessly feed chips to a stomach that’s no longer hungry. Many of us can look at the sin of gluttony and think, “That’s not really my struggle.” Or, we think, “What’s the big deal?” After all, most congregations have compulsive over-eaters among them, and they’re not considered “less spiritual” or “backslidden” for it.

But gluttony has never been merely an addiction to food. And if we look at it in its original definition and context, gluttony becomes far closer to home than we’d like to admit.

At its simplest, gluttony is the soul’s addiction to excess.

At its simplest, gluttony is the soul’s addiction to excess. It occurs when taste overrules hunger, when want outweighs need. And in America, where upsizing has always been part of the American dream, it’s often difficult to distinguish what is hard-earned achievement and what is indulgent excess. In this sense, even the most athletic and toned among us can be gluttons. Any of us can be.

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Alexander Hislop – The Two Babylons

“And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.”–Revelation 17:5

There is this great difference between the works of men and the works of God, that the same minute and searching investigation, which displays the defects and imperfections of the one, brings out also the beauties of the other. If the most finely polished needle on which the art of man has been expended be subjected to a microscope, many inequalities, much roughness and clumsiness, will be seen. But if the microscope be brought to bear on the flowers of the field, no such result appears. Instead of their beauty diminishing, new beauties and still more delicate, that have escaped the naked eye, are forthwith discovered; beauties that make us appreciate, in a way which otherwise we could have had little conception of, the full force of the Lord’s saying, “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, That even Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these.” The same law appears also in comparing the Word of God and the most finished productions of men. There are spots and blemishes in the most admired productions of human genius. But the more the Scriptures are searched, the more minutely they are studied, the more their perfection appears; new beauties are brought into light every day; and the discoveries of science, the researches of the learned, and the labours of infidels, all alike conspire to illustrate the wonderful harmony of all the parts, and the Divine beauty that clothes the whole.

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Dr. Albert Mohler – The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife? When Sensationalism Masquerades as Scholarship

The whole world changed on Tuesday. At least, that is what many would have us to believe. Smithsonian magazine, published by no less than the Smithsonian Institution, declared that the news released Tuesday was “apt to send jolts through the world of biblical scholarship–and beyond.” Really?

What was this news? Professor Karen King of the Harvard Divinity School announced at a conference in Rome that she had identified an ancient papyrus fragment that includes the phrase, “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife.’” Within hours, headlines around the world advertised the announcement with headlines like “Ancient Papyrus Could Be Evidence that Jesus Had a Wife” (The Telegraph).

The Smithsonian article stated that “the announcement at an academic conference in Rome is sure to send shock waves through the Christian world.” The magazine’s breathless enthusiasm for the news about the papyrus probably has more to do with advertising its upcoming television documentary than anything else, but the nation’s most prestigious museum can only injure its reputation with this kind of sensationalism.

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William Gurnall – Sincerity & Hypocrisy

We come now to the second kind of truth—commended to the Christian under the notion of the soldier’s girdle—and that is, truth of heart. Where it would be known, First. What I mean by truth of heart. Second. Why truth of heart is compared to a girdle.

First. What I mean by truth of heart. By truth of heart, I understand sincerity, so taken in Scripture, ‘Let us draw near with a true heart,’ that is, with a sincere heart, Heb. 10.22. We have them oft con­joined, the one explaining the other: ‘Fear the Lord, and serve him with sincerity and truth,’ Joshua 24:14. We read of ‘the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth,’ I Cor. 5:8. Hypocrisy is a lie with a fair cover over it. An insincere heart is a half heart. The in­ward frame and motion of the heart comports not with the profession and behaviour of the outward man, like a clock, whose wheels within go not as the hand points without.

Second. Why truth of heart is compared to a girdle. Sincerity, or truth of heart, may fitly be com­pared to a girdle, in regard of the twofold use and end for which a girdle, especially a soldier’s belt, is worn.

First. The girdle is used as an ornament put on uppermost, to cover the joints of the armour, which would, if seen, cause some uncomeliness. Here—at the loins I mean—those pieces of armour for the defence of the lower parts of the body are fastened to the upper. Now because they cannot be so closely knit and clasped, but there will be some little gaping betwixt piece and piece, therefore they used to put over those parts a broad girdle, that covered all that uncomeliness. Now, sincerity doth the same for the Christian, that the girdle doth for the soldier. The saint’s graces are not so close, nor his life so exact, but in the best there are found infirmities and defects, which are as so many gapings and clefts in his ar­mour, but sincerity covers all, that he is neither put to shame for them, nor exposed to danger by them.

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Jon Morrison – Zeitgeist

“Oh man. If this is true, I’m a total moron.”

I stayed up late one night watching an online documentary known as Zeitgeist. This Youtube sensation highlights three major frauds hoisted on mankind: the hoax of historic Christianity, 9-11 as an inside job by the US government, and a conspiracy involving the international banking system.

Zeitgeist was originally released in June 2007 and got 50 million viewers in first couple weeks. Since then its makers have released sequels that have been viewed by countless others. I encounter many guys in their twenties and thirties who consider this film the death blow to Christianity.

In this post I will focus on the part of the documentary that relates to Christianity for that is the area I am most concerned with. It is my hope that no reader will abandon their trust in Christian truth claims over some convincingly illustrated, yet poorly argued documentary such as Zeitgeist.

When I first watched Zeitgeist, I confess that I was unqualified to refute any of its claims (if only my Bible College offered classes in Christian apologetics!). The documentary claimed that Christianity is just a collection of pagan myths that predate the first century, the era that supposedly birthed the Christian movement. The producers of Zeitgeist also claim that Jesus Christ never existed; that the one Christians worship as God is actually just an expression of a movement known as Astro-theology or Sun worship that transcends many cultures, religions and ages in history.

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Michael Licona – Behold, I Stand at the Door and Knock: What to say to Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses When They Knock on Your Door

Someday it will happen to you. You are about to sit down for a late breakfast on a Saturday morning. The french toast smells delicious! A glass of orange juice and a cup of coffee will make the start of a great day. You pour the syrup and prepare to take that tasty first bite, when there is a knock
on your door. Perhaps it’s the neighbor’s child asking for your daughter. Maybe it’s the guy next door who would like to borrow your Craftsman Tools — again. You open the door and . . . oh! . . . it’s the Mormons or the Jehovah’s Witnesses!

Sharply dressed and very friendly, they ask if they can come in and tell you about God’s good news. But you are unsure. You remember your Sunday School teacher talking about these visitors who claim they are Christians. Some of the points the teacher made are vague in your mind and many are forgotten. You desire to share with them and feel that you should — but — you do not want to get into a conversation unprepared. So you politely say, “I’m too busy” and close the door.

Ah, yes. Where were you? That’s right, back to your breakfast. You slice off a piece of French toast with syrup and take a bite. Mmmm! However, while sipping your coffee you feel a sense of disappointment. You know that you just passed up a valuable opportunity to share your faith because you
were unprepared. You say to yourself, “If Jesus were here he would have spoken to them.” If you want to be ready the next time they come, this book is for you. Its purpose is to provide the knowledge you need to see why these groups do not represent God’s truth and to share this information effectively with Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses the next time they knock on your door!

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F.F. Bruce – The Book of Zechariah and the Passion Narrative

It is widely recognized that the narrative of the last few days of the life of Jesus was the earliest part of the Gospel story to take shape as a connected whole. There were many reasons why this should be so. For one thing, the events of those days must have been indelibly impressed on the memory of those men and women who spent them in Jesus’ company. When they came together for fellowship and worship they would recall the days that led up to the crucifixion, and the days that followed it; and others who had not been present at the time would be eager to hear the details. This was especially true of those occasions when Christians took the bread and wine of thanksgiving as their Master’s memorial: “as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup”, said Paul, “you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Cor. xi. 26)―words which appear to mean not simply that participation in the Lord’s Supper was in itself an acted proclamation of His death, but that every such participation was regularly accompanied by a repetition of the passion narrative. In this way even recent converts to the new faith must soon have become tolerably word-perfect in their ability to tell the story.

Nor was it only at Christian meetings for worship that the story was repeated; it was told time and again as an essential part of the apostles’ preaching. Paul reminds his Galatian converts how before their very eyes “Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified” (Gal. iii. 1)―so vividly, we may gather, did he describe the crucifixion as he preached the gospel to them. In like vein he reminds the Corinthian Christians how, when first he visited their city with the gospel, he “decided to know nothing” among them “except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor. ii. 2). And when, later in the same epistle, he reminds them of the terms in which he preached the Gospel to them, he says that he delivered to them “as of first importance” what he himself had received―to begin with, “that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures” (1 Cor. xv. 3).

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Mark Bowron – Satan’s Ten Commandments: The Georgia Guidestones

The Georgia Guidestones is a large granite monument in Elbert County, Georgia (USA). A message comprising ten guides is inscribed on the structure in eight modern languages, and a shorter message is inscribed at the top of the structure in four ancient languages’ scripts: Babylonian Cuneiform, Classical Greek, Sanskrit, and Egyptian Hieroglyphs.

The structure is sometimes referred to as an “American Stonehenge.” The monument is made from six granite slabs weighing more than 240,000 pounds combined. One slab stands in the center, with four arranged around it. A capstone lies on top of the five slabs, which are astronomically aligned. An additional stone tablet, which is set in the ground a short distance to the west of the structure, provides some notes on the history and purpose of the Guidestones.

In June 1979, an unknown person or persons under the pseudonym R. C. Christian hired Elberton Granite Finishing Company to build the structure. R. C. Christian (Christian Rosenkreuz) is the semi-legendary, perhaps allegorical, founder of the Rosicrucian Order (Order of the Rose Cross), presented in the three Manifestos published in the early 17th century.

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Daniel Darling – How God Uses Relationships to Make You Better

Everyone wants to be better. Self-improvement gurus call it, well, self-improvement. Wise people and many in the church call it growth. The Bible calls this process sanctification. And for the Christian, sanctification is not merely the process by which you become a nice, better person. Pretty much all religions and even quasi-non religions do that. Even Richard Dawkins, I’m thinking, is okay with growth.

Sanctification is something deeper, better, richer. The Bible asserts a bold idea that Christians–those who believe, know and follow Jesus Christ–have something deeper going onside them. They have God in them through the presence of the Holy Spirit. Christianity, at it’s truest form, is not really about getting better by self-improvement, but about dying to your old self and seeing the life of Christ form in you. It’s a spiritual thing. It’s a supernatural thing. But how does God accomplish this? Or, perhaps a better question, what tools does God use?

Well, we know first of all that the agent of change is the Holy Spirit. And we know that He uses the Word of God to penetrate our hearts, cut us deep, and bring about change. The Word delivered, both in private reading and corporate preaching, brings about renewed thinking and renewed thinking brings about new behaviors, new loves, new affections.

But there is another tool that we often overlook, a powerful factor in sanctification. We change through God-ordained, dynamic relationships. In fact, I might argue that relationships, outside of the Word itself, are the primary instrument by which God changes us. This is why the New Testament is pretty clear that faith in Christ is best lived out in community.

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Jonathan Dodson – Why the Missional Church Isn’t Enough

The missional church in the United States is not missional enough. The local focus of mission is shortsighted. If we only make disciples who make disciples in our cities, thousands of unengaged, un-discipled peoples of the earth will not hear the gospel. To be sure, many ethnic groups are migrating to cities, which brings some of the nations right into the neighborhood. However, there remain many ethnic groups that do not migrate to Western cities. Western churches must send missionaries, not only across the street, but also across the world.

The State of Global Mission

Shockingly, 80 percent of deployed missionaries go to already evangelized areas. Consider these staggering statistics:

  • Roughly 30 percent of the global population is unevangelized and largely untargeted by so-called missional churches.
  • This amounts to about 1.6 billion people not hearing the gospel in 38 different nations.
  • There are still at least 13,000 unreached people groups and millions of people who have not heard a first proclamation of the gospel.
  • Thousands more do not have the Scriptures in their language. Add to that the incalculable corruption in many nations that fosters poverty, disease, crime, sex trafficking, and so on. Other frontiers of mission must not be lost in the missional movement of the West. We need churches that will be missional both locally and globally.
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