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Bob Burney

“Bob Burney Live,” WRFD Columbus, Ohio

If you are older than 40 the name Benjamin Spock is more than familiar. It was Spock that told an entire generation of parents to take it easy, don’t discipline your children and allow them to express themselves. Discipline, he told us, would warp a child’s fragile ego. Millions followed this guru of child development and he remained unchallenged among child rearing professionals. However, before his death Dr. Spock made an amazing discovery: he was wrong. In fact, he said:  

 

We have reared a generation of brats. Parents aren’t firm enough with their children for fear of losing their love or incurring their resentment. This is a cruel deprivation that we professionals have imposed on mothers and fathers. Of course, we did it with the best of intentions. We didn’t realize until it was too late how our know-it-all attitude was undermining the self assurance of parents.

Oops.

Something just as momentous, in my opinion, just happened in the evangelical community. For most of a generation evangelicals have been romanced by the “seeker sensitive” movement spawned by Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago. The guru of this movement is Bill Hybels. He and others have been telling us for decades to throw out everything we have previously thought and been taught about church growth and replace it with a new paradigm, a new way to do ministry.

Perhaps inadvertently, with this “new wave” of ministry came a de-emphasis on taking personal responsibility for Bible study combined with an emphasis on felt-needs based “programs” and slick marketing.

The size of the crowd rather than the depth of the heart determined success. If the crowd was large then surely God was blessing the ministry. Churches were built by demographic studies, professional strategists, marketing research, meeting “felt needs” and sermons consistent with these techniques. We were told that preaching was out, relevance was in. Doctrine didn’t matter nearly as much as innovation. If it wasn’t “cutting edge” and consumer friendly it was doomed. The mention of sin, salvation and sanctification were taboo and replaced by Starbucks, strategy and sensitivity.

Thousands of pastors hung on every word that emanated from the lips of the church growth experts. Satellite seminars were packed with hungry church leaders learning the latest way to “do church.” The promise was clear: thousands of people and millions of dollars couldn’t be wrong. Forget what people need, give them what they want. How can you argue with the numbers? If you dared to challenge the “experts” you were immediately labeled as a “traditionalist,” a throwback to the 50s, a stubborn dinosaur unwilling to change with the times.

All that changed recently.

Willow Creek has released the results of a multi-year study on the effectiveness of their programs and philosophy of ministry. The study’s findings are in a new book titled Reveal: Where Are You?, co-authored by Cally Parkinson and Greg Hawkins, executive pastor of Willow Creek Community Church. Hybels himself called the findings “earth shaking,” “ground breaking” and “mind blowing.” And no wonder: it seems that the “experts” were wrong.

The report reveals that most of what they have been doing for these many years and what they have taught millions of others to do is not producing solid disciples of Jesus Christ. Numbers yes, but not disciples. It gets worse. Hybels laments:

Some of the stuff that we have put millions of dollars into thinking it would really help our people grow and develop spiritually, when the data actually came back it wasn’t helping people that much. Other things that we didn’t put that much money into and didn’t put much staff against is stuff our people are crying out for.

If you simply want a crowd, the “seeker sensitive” model produces results. If you want solid, sincere, mature followers of Christ, it’s a bust. In a shocking confession, Hybels states:

We made a mistake. What we should have done when people crossed the line of faith and become Christians, we should have started telling people and teaching people that they have to take responsibility to become ‘self feeders.’ We should have gotten people, taught people, how to read their bible between services, how to do the spiritual practices much more aggressively on their own.

Incredibly, the guru of church growth now tells us that people need to be reading their bibles and taking responsibility for their spiritual growth.

Just as Spock’s “mistake” was no minor error, so the error of the seeker sensitive movement is monumental in its scope. The foundation of thousands of American churches is now discovered to be mere sand. The one individual who has had perhaps the greatest influence on the American church in our generation has now admitted his philosophy of ministry, in large part, was a “mistake.” The extent of this error defies measurement.

Perhaps the most shocking thing of all in this revelation coming out of Willow Creek is in a summary statement by Greg Hawkins:

Our dream is that we fundamentally change the way we do church. That we take out a clean sheet of paper and we rethink all of our old assumptions. Replace it with new insights. Insights that are informed by research and rooted in Scripture. Our dream is really to discover what God is doing and how he’s asking us to transform this planet.

Isn’t that what we were told when this whole seeker-sensitive thing started? The church growth gurus again want to throw away their old assumptions and “take out a clean sheet of paper” and, presumably, come up with a new paradigm for ministry. 

Should this be encouraging?

Please note that “rooted in Scripture” still follows “rethink,” “new insights” and “informed research.” Someone, it appears, still might not get it. Unless there is a return to simple biblical (and relevant) principles, a new faulty scheme will replace the existing one and another generation will follow along as the latest piper plays.

What we should find encouraging, at least, in this “confession” coming from the highest ranks of the Willow Creek Association is that they are coming to realize that their existing “model” does not help people grow into mature followers of Jesus Christ. Given the massive influence this organization has on the American church today, let us pray that God would be pleased to put structures in place at Willow Creek that foster not mere numeric growth, but growth in grace.

Bob Burney is Salem Communications’ award-winning host of Bob Burney Live, heard weekday afternoons on WRFD-AM 880 in Columbus, Ohio. Contact Bob at bob@wrfd.com.

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By Jerry Rassamni

The following is a contrast between the diverse dogmas of Islam and Christianity. I will thus be following the maxim of TV’s Sergeant Friday effectively adopted by Ronald Reagan: “Just the facts, Ma’am”:

 

 

 

 

 

Category Jesus Muhammad
Birth Born of a virgin even according to Qur’an.Born around 4 BC in Bethlehem.

Jesus Christ’s (the Messiah’s) birth and coming were foretold in 333 prophecies in the Bible, hundreds of years prior to His birth. Of these prophecies, 456 specific details of His life are given. God gave the Old Testament to the Jews so they would recognize the coming of the Messiah, the Savior of the world. Jesus fulfilled all prophecies foretold of the Messiah in minute detail, during His birth, miracles, crucifixion, death, and resurrection.

The angels announced His birth to the shepherds. John the Baptist (the forerunner) announced His coming. The angel Gabriel announced His birth to Zechariah, Mary, and Joseph. The Magi came from the East with gifts to worship Him.

Born of AminahBorn around AD 570 in Mecca.

There are no prophecies concerning the coming of Islam’s prophet. 

 

Islam’s prophet did not have a forerunner. His coming was not anticipated. He simply claimed to be a messenger of God.

The Messiah “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel” [God with us] (Isa. 7:14, written around 700 years before Christ).“And the angel [Gabriel] said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.’  And Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’  And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God’ (Luke 1:30–33).

“For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him” (John 1:17, 18).

 

“And a voice came out of the heavens: ‘You are My beloved Son, in YOu I [God] am well-pleased” (Mark 1:11).

“You are My Son, Today I [God] have begotten You” (Ps. 2:7). “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

“I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed” (Dan. 7:13, 14, written centuries before Christ.

“I [God] will also make You a light of the nations so that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth” (Isa. 49:6), written centuries before Christ.

“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6, written around 700 years before Christ).

“For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5).

“Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).

“She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).

“My judgment is true; for I am not alone in it, but I and the Father who sent Me” (John 8:16).

“We gave Jesus the son of Mary clear (signs) and strengthened him with the holy spirit” (Surah 2:87).
“Behold! The angels said:  ‘O Mary! Allah gives you glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name is Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honor in this world and the Hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest to Allah; He shall speak to the people in childhood and in maturity. And he shall be (of the company) of the righteous” (Surah 3:45, 46).

“We (God) sent Jesus the son of Mary, confirming the Law that had come before him: We sent him the Gospel: therein was guidance and light, and confirmation of the Law that had come before him: a guidance and an admonition to those who fear Allah”  (Surah 5:46).

Allah did not confirm Muhammad’s ministry in a public manifestation.

“Christ the son of Mary was no more than a Messenger” (Surah 5:75a).

“(I have come to you), to attest the Law which was before me. And to make lawful to you part of what was (before) forbidden to you; I have come to you with a Sign from your Lord. So fear Allah and obey me” (Surah 3:50).

“To you, We (God) sent the Scripture in truth, confirming the Scripture that came before it” (Surah 5:48).


“And there is none of the People of the Book but must believe in Him before his death; and on the Day of Judgment He will be a witness against them” (Surah 4:159).

The Prophet
Muhammad
There is no mention of another prophet after the Messiah; on the contrary, the Bible concludes with these stern and uncompromising words: “I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophesy of this book: if any one adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book” (Rev. 22:18). “Allah and His Angels send blessings on the prophet: O you that believe! You send blessings on him, and salute him with all respect” (Surah 33:56).
Titles Door to heavenEternal life

Judge of the living and dead

Messiah (Savior)

Prince of Peace

Word of God

King Eternal

First and Last

Bread of Life

Immortal God

An ApostleA Messenger

Son of Abd Allah

A Preacher

Prophet with the Sword

A Warner

Evangelist

Seal of the Prophets

The Prophet of Islam

Mortal Man

Marriage Never married or had relations with any woman. Married 15 women, including the then seven-year-old Ayisha
Worldly desires and riches Jesus was not of this world nor did he have worldly desires or riches. He said in Matthew 8:20, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” The prophet Muhammad was poor but became well-to-do upon marrying Khadija, his first wife who was fifteen years his senior. He also profited from the booties of war. Ayisha, the youngest of the prophet’s wives, used to say that the prophet loved three things: women, scents, and foods. During his wars, the prophet claimed 15 percent of the booty. 
Great Prayers Jesus taught His followers to pray in this way:“Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed  be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever, Amen  (Matt. 6:9–13). This prayer is called the “Fatiha,” or the opening of the Qur’an, which is its first chapter:“In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

Praise be to Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the Worlds; Most Gracious, Most Merciful; Master of the Day of Judgment. You do we worship, and Your aid do we seek. Show us the straight way. The way of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace, those whose (portion) is not wrath, and who do not go astray” (Surah 1).

Miracles Miraculous birth of Jesus by a virgin as God promised (even acknowledged by the Qur’an). Jesus healed the sick, the blind, and the paralytic, walked on water, rebuked the storms, raised the dead, rose from the dead just as He promised, and as it was foretold by the prophets of old. He appeared to over 500 followers following the resurrection. He performed countless other miracles. Was lifted up into heaven in front of His disciples forty days after His resurrection. The prophet Muhammad claimed that the Qur’an is the Muslim miracle, and issued a challenge in Surah 2:23 for unbelievers to produce a similar Surah to what is in the Qur’an.
War & Peace Never lifted a sword.“Then Jesus said to him: ‘Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword’” (Matt. 26:52).

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God (Matt. 5:9).

“You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt. 5:43, 44).

“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the prophets” (Matt. 7:12).

“Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two” (Matt. 5:41).

“You have heard that it was said, ‘an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I [Jesus] say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also” (Matt. 5:39, 40).

“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you” (John 14:27).

“Behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves” (Luke 10:3).

“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits” (Matt. 7:15).     

                                                            

“You have heard that it was said, ‘you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:43–48).

Proselytized with the sword in sixty-six recorded battles.“Therefore, when you meet the unbelievers (in fight), smite at their necks; at length until you have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond firmly (on them)” (Surah 47:4).

“Fighting is prescribed for you, and you dislike it. But it is possible that you dislike a thing which is good for you, and that you love a thing which is bad for you. But  Allah knows and you know not”  (Surah 2:216).

“And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression” (Surah 2:193a).

“Allah only forbids you, with regard to those who fight you for (your) Faith, and drive you out of your homes, and support (others) in driving you out, from turning to them (for friendship and protection). It is such as turn to them (in those circumstances), that do wrong” (Surah 60:9).

“And slay them wherever you catch them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out” (Surah 2:191).

“We ordained therein for them: ‘Life for life, eye for eye, nose for nose, ear for ear, tooth for tooth, and wounds equal for equal.’  But if anyone remits the retaliation by way of charity, it is an act of atonement for himself. And if any fail to judge by (the light of) what Allah has revealed, they are (no better than) wrong-doers” (Surah 5:45).

 

“Let those fight in the cause of Allah who sell the life of this world for the Hereafter. To him who fights in the cause of Allah, whether slain or gets victory — soon shall We give him a reward of great (value)” (Surah 4:74).

“Fight and slay the Pagans wherever you find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war)” (Surah 9:5).

“Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah does not love transgressors” (Surah 2:190).

“The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter” (Surah 5:33).

Enemies Loved his enemies Killed his enemies
Kingdom Kingdom not of this world Established an earthly empire
Law vs. grace While Jesus was teaching at the temple, the Pharisees brought before Him a woman caught in adultery, and they inquired of Jesus what they should do in order to test Him and find grounds to accuse Him. They reminded Him that the Law of Moses calls for the stoning of such women. This was a classic trap. The Law is formal: it calls for stoning. Jesus did not contradict the law nor approve of the sin. On the one hand, He is scornful of the accusers, who are filled with pride, and says to them: “Let him who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”  And He watched them leave in silence. On the other hand, Jesus calls sin sin and evil evil when he told the woman to sin no more (John 8:1–11).Implication:  Mercy is dispensed resulting in grace, which forgives. Jesus taught His followers in Matthew 7:1 not to judge, lest they be judged. In the Muslim tradition, there is also an incident when an adulteress is brought before the prophet Muhammed as he was in the oasis of Khaybar. Sonic Jews brought before him a woman caught in the act of adultery. They asked him what they should do, so he called for a copy of the Torah. Since the Torah formally stated that the adulteress should be stoned, he ordered her to be stoned. In Islam, obedience to the Law comes before everything.Implication: Judgment is unre-lenting, resulting in the Law which stones.
Foremost Command-ment “One of the scribes came and . . . asked Him, ‘What commandment is the foremost of all?’ Jesus answered, ‘The foremost is, “Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is One Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.”  The second is this, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these’” (Mark 12:28–31). “Say: He is Allah, the One and Only; Allah, the Eternal, Absolute; He begets not, nor is He begotten; And there is none like unto Him” (Surah 112:1–4).
Salvation “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me’” (John 14:6). “Those who believe (in the Qur’an), and those who follow the Jewish (Scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians, and who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord: on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve” (Surah 2:62).
Death Condemned no one to deathDied in Jerusalem at age of 33 by crucifixion

Arose from the dead on the third day as prophesied and appeared to hundreds of witnesses

Condemned many to deathDied in Medina at age 62, due to pneumonia and poisoning

Lingers in his grave

Last words Jesus never asked for forgiveness for His sins for He was perfect. But one of His last statements on the cross was to forgive those who crucified Him: “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Jesus’ last words on the cross fulfilled a prophesy from Psalm 31:5 when He said: “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit” (Luke 23:46). The last words of the prophet Muhammad in a whisper were, “Lord grant me pardon; eternity, in Paradise! Pardon. The blessed companionship on high.”
Second coming Jesus’ second coming is revealed in both the Bible and the Qur’an. He will come to judge (John 5:25, 27).  “And (Jesus) shall be a Sign (for the coming of) the Hour (of Judgment); therefore have no doubt about the (Hour), but you follow Me: This is a straight Way.” (Surah 53:61)

 The Cycle of Life and Death

By sinning against God in the garden, something fundamental happened to people. They died spiritually as they lost their fellowship with their Maker, and they began to die physically. Both the Bible and the Qur’an agree that God created humans, and they enjoyed a special relationship with the Creator in the Garden, but that relationship was severed. As a result, the quest of religion is how to restore that broken relationship, but religion cannot restore it. Only God can. The Bible says that without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). We must place our faith in God’s righteousness and promises instead of trusting in our sin-stained hands to save us. 

The following paragraphs offer some insights concerning the creation, degeneration, and regeneration .  

Act I. The Generation of Humanity

Michelangelo’s famous fresco in the Sistine Chapel—known as the Finger of God—which depicts the creation of Adam is one of the most famous images in the world. This fresco can help enhance our understanding of the Christian view of man’s spiritual state.  God is shown as a bearded old man in a swirling cloak next to cherubims (type of angels). He stretches out his right arm to impart the spark of life from His finger into that of Adam, who is earthbound. Adam’s left arm is extended in a pose mirroring God’s to show that God created humans in His own image.

Man enjoyed perfect communion with God in the Garden before sin crept into the world.

This touch or communion between God and people continued until people disobeyed God in the Garden. As a result, they died spiritually since their fellowship with the Creator was severed. A great gulf grew between God and people.  The reason: God is eternally holy and will not allow un-holiness in His presence. However, God in the Garden spoke of a Savior who would bridge that great gulf. Since sinning against a just and holy God is an infinite crime against an infinite God, God said that a Savior would suffer to pay the price for sin. In essence, Michelangelo’s famous fresco of the creation of Adam is the first of three acts in the cycle of life and death. 

Act II. The Degeneration of Humanity

In order to understand the ensuing events after Adam’s creation, we must imagine a second fresco. We would see the same painting with the same set of players but with one stark difference. This time, the slight distance that separated God’s finger from Adam’s finger grew to infinity because God will not allow sin to go unpunished. I would title this the degeneration of humanity. Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden because of their sin, and a great gulf separated them from a holy God who hates sin. Therefore, it became impossible for them to bridge that gulf and renew fellowship with God.  It is interesting to note that man still has a finger pointed toward God trying to reach him on his own terms with his man-made efforts.  God also has a finger pointed toward man lovingly longing to reach Him in the appointed time, and in the only way possible that does not compromise the infinite holiness of God.  

The slight distance that separated God’s finger from Adam’s finger grew to infinity because God will not allow sin to go unpunished.

Act III. The Regeneration of Humanity

The regeneration of humanity is the third act that Michelangelo never drew. Once again, God reached down from heaven to Adam, and Adam reached out to God, but this time, two other personalities appear in the picture, the savior that God promised, and the Holy Spirit.  The savior is nailed to a cross, bridging the gap between man’s sinfulness and God’s holiness.  He is touching Adam’s finger with His human nature, and God’s finger with His divine nature. The great chasm between Adam (man) and God is now bridged by a Savior covered in blood and crowned with thorns. This Savior had to be one with God in order to be a savior for if you were dying of thirst and someone wanted to help you, they would have to have water. Likewise, if you need eternal life, the savior would have to have eternal life. Thus the Savior could not be a mere mortal prophet but he had to be divine. 

The Holy Spirit is also present in this fresco in the form of a dove (Luk 3:22).  The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sins and need for repentance.  The Bible tells us that no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:3).  The Holy Spirit helps us to see in the spiritual realm.  He helps us realize that our efforts at holiness are feeble.  He enables us to appreciate how holy God is and how sinful we are.  He assists us to grasp that there’s a great gap between us and God that only God can fill and that only God can cleanse us and renew us (Tit. 3:4-6).   He convicts us to humble ourselves before God and enthrone Him in our lives instead of magnifying ourselves.  The Holy Spirit is a gentleman.  He will not force Himself on us and reveal the truth to us against our will, but if we ask Him to reveal the truth to us (1 Pet 1:2), He will.  Hence, the concept of the Holy Trinity is fully manifested when our relationship with God is restored (2 Cor. 13:14, Mat 28:19, Rom 8:9).  The Holy Spirit draws us to the Father, through the Son who is our High Priest (Mat 3:16-17, Jud 1:20-21).          

The great chasm between Adam (man) and God is now bridged by a Savior covered in blood and crowned with thorns.

Judaism, Islam, and Christianity are monotheistic religions, as they believe that God is one.  Muslims however, erroneously denounce the Christian view of the Trinity (Trinitarianism) as polytheism (shirk – associating someone with God).  Trinitarianism is not the opposite of Unitarianism or Monotheism (belief that God is one), but polytheism is (belief that there is more than one God).  Trinitarianism does not contradict monotheism but it asserts it.  Trinitarianism is the belief that God is one what, but three whos – or said differently, one in being, but three in persons or expressions.  It is this concept of the Trinity that enables God to be self-sufficient.  God is not in need of anyone to commune with for He is able to commune with Himself. In the same way that man one, yet he is body, mind, and soul; so is God one, yet he is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God has the ability to have each member of the Holy Trinity or the Godhead or the being of God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) represent themselves distinctly.  Thus, Christians believe that God is one is essence, but He expresses Himself in three persons who share in the one divine being. 

In the same way, that man one, yet he is body, mind, and soul, so is God one, yet He is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.     

The Holy Spirit helps us to grasp spiritual truths that are beyond human understanding. He enables us to appreciate how holy God is and how sinful we are.  He reveals to us that there’s a great gap between us and God that only God can fill (Tit. 3:4-6). However, the Holy Spirit is a gentleman.  He will not force Himself on us and reveal the truth to us against our will, but if we ask Him to reveal the truth to us (1 Pet 1:2), He will. Hence, the concept of the Holy Trinity is fully manifested when our relationship with God is restored (2 Cor. 13:14, Mat 28:19, Rom 8:9).


To Choose or Not to Choose

God gives us a choice of whether to live in the second fresco—degeneration—with no hope of fellowshipping with God, or the third fresco—regeneration—where our fellowship with God is restored. If God did not allow us to choose for ourselves, we would be puppets. God does not want mere puppets to worship Him because they are forced to, but He wants free-will agents to worship Him from their hearts because they want to. If our worship did not come from the heart, it becomes a hollow expression that means nothing to God. “The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.”  (Isa 29:13)

If our worship did not come from the heart, it becomes a hollow expression that means nothing to God. 

In stark contrast to the above, in countries where the Shari’a (Muslim Jurisprudence) is the law of the land, Muslims are forced to worship during prayer time at the risk of being whipped by the muttawa [Islamic morality police]. Incidentally, the shari’a undermines most human rights, particularly freedom of religion, freedom of expression, political freedoms, and women’s rights. The shari’a crushes dissent. They don’t want people to choose for themselves, but they want religion to choose for them.  In essence, Islam emphasizes the external expression of worship instead of genuine heartfelt praise to the Almighty. 

In essence, Islam emphasizes the external expression of worship instead of genuine heartfelt praise to the Almighty. 

We do not serve a vengeful God, but a loving God who walked among us, who understands our tears, our sufferings, and our sorrows. He does not want us to serve Him because we have to but because we want to. “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). He does not force us to love Him, but He awaits us with nail-scarred hands, saying,

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28–30)

God tells us in His Word that we can try to reach Him with our human efforts and religions, but we will always end up in the second fresco—degeneration—with a great gulf separating us from God. We can never bridge the gap, only God can. Muslims say: “I don’t believe Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead.” Arnold Toynbee puts it best in his astute analysis: “Find the body of that Jew, and Christianity crumbles into ruins.”5 Muslims also say: “I have my own way, for the blood is offensive to me.” God says to them: “Good, now you know how I feel about your sin. Your sin is an offensive stench in My nostrils.” 


Was the Bible Corrupted?

According to the Qur’an itself, biblical sources are held in highest esteem and are the yardstick of veracity by which any other message is measured. “But if thou art in doubt (kunta) as to that which we have revealed to thee, ask those who read the Book before thee. Certainly the Truth has come to thee from thy Lord, so be not thou of the doubters” (Surah 10:94).

It is clear that the above verse was directed at Islam’s prophet, for the verb is in the masculine singular form kunta (you are), instead of its plural form kuntum.  However, if we use the biblical source as a yardstick to measure the Qur’anic scriptures, then simply put, the Qur’an flunks the acid test of veracity since it rejects the fundamental tenets of Christianity, such as the Trinity, the inerrancy of the biblical Scriptures, the deity of Christ, His death on the cross, and His subsequent resurrection.

In comparing the Qur’an and the Bible concerning inerrancy, we will consider the following:

1.     The Qur’an contradicts the Bible concerning fundamental issues. Since they cannot both be right, one of them must be in error.

2.     The Qur’an claims that the Bible is the barometer of truth.

3.     Therefore, the Qur’an must be in error.

1.     The Qur’an contradicts the Bible concerning fundamental issues. Since they can’t both be right, one must be in error:

a.   Regarding the identity of Jesus, the Qur’an says, “They indeed disbelieve who say: ‘Surely, Allah — He is the Messiah.’” (Surah 5:17, see also 5:72)

b.   Regarding the crucifixion of Jesus, the Qur’an says, “They killed him (Jesus) not, nor did they cause his death on the cross, but he was made to appear to them as such.” (Surah 4:157)

2.     The Qur’an claims that the Bible is the barometer of truth.

a.   “But if you are in doubt as to what We have revealed to you, ask those who read the Book [Bible before you.” (Surah 10.94a)

b.   “And that which We have revealed to you of the Book [Bible], that is the truth verifying that which is before it; most surely with respect to His servants Allah is Aware, Seeing.”  (Surah 35.31)

c.   “Say: Who revealed the Book which Moses brought, a light and a guidance to men?” (Surah 6:91b)

d.   “And do not dispute with the followers of the Book except by what is best, except those of them who act unjustly, and say: We believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you, and our God and your God is One, and to Him do we submit.” (Surah 29:46)

3.     Therefore, the Qur’an must be in error.

Since the Qur’an and the Bible disagree on fundamental issues, they cannot both be right. Logic demands that one has to be in error. Muslims claim that since the Bible does not match the Qur’an, the Bible must have been corrupted. However, since the Qur’an instructs us that the Bible is the barometer of truth, this leads us to the inevitable conclusion that whenever the Bible and the Qur’an disagree, the Qur’an must be in error. In other words, the Qur’an is in error concerning a myriad of theological issues such as the Holy Trinity, the identity of Jesus as the Son of God, the sacrificial atonement of Christ, the inerrancy of the Bible, etc. Let us examine some clues in the following vignette to explain why the Qur’an is so vastly different from the Bible.  

“A cartoon shows a line of pews and the same sentence is being passed verbally from one pew to the other: 

First pew:        ‘My ear kind of hurts.’

Second pew:   ‘The pastor has an earache.’

Third pew:      ‘The pastor got a hearing aid.’

Fourth pew:     ‘The pastor is having trouble hearing.’

Fifth pew:        ‘The pastor got a double earring.’

Last pew:        An old lady with a cane is walking out and says, ‘That does it, I’m outta here! The pastor’s got a double earring!’”  

Though it is intended to be satirical, the above vignette brilliantly describes how biblical stories could be altered in the Qur’an. The main reason behind the discrepancies between the Bible and the Qur’an is that Islam’s prophet had to rely on oral information from Christians and Jews concerning the Bible, because the Bible was not yet translated into the prophet’s language of Arabic until approximately three hundred years after his death (AD 900). This further proves that the Qur’an lacks divine origins; otherwise, biblical stories would have been preserved unchanged. Muslims need to make up their minds concerning whether Allah’s word can be altered. If it cannot be altered, then the Bible, which the Qur’an claims to be the word of God, could not have been altered. Muslims cannot vacillate on their beliefs concerning this issue to suit their purposes.  Therefore, if the Bible was corrupted, Muslims must be open to the possibility that the Qur’an itself was corrupted.     


Is Islam a Religion of Peace?

In Islam, the world is traditionally divided into two camps.  Those are Dar Al Islam (literally house of Islam or submission) meaning House of Peace, and Dar Al Harb (House of War).  Although the exact definitions of these terms vary widely, a traditional definition is as follows: Countries that are under Muslim rule are grouped in the House of Peace, whereas countries that are not are grouped under House of War.  Muslim fundamentalists have Islamic world domination in mind.  They are on a jihad until the whole world confesses the Islamic creed which is featured on the Saudi Arabian flag.  The Wahabis are the dominant Islamic sect in Saudi Arabia.  Their war cry was: “kill the infidels.”  The national flag of Saudi Arabia, the religious center of Islam has the words, “La Illaha Illa Allah” (There is no god by Allah).  Beneath those words, is the key to making that happen—a sword. 

About Jerry Rassamni

Jerry Rassamni grew up in Lebanon as a Muslim during its bloody Civil War and became a militia fighter at a young age.  Jerry’s heart burned with hatred against his enemies the Maronite (Catholic) militias.   

After immigrating to the States, Jerry began to study the bible in order to refute it.  Upon examining the scriptures, Jerry was captivated by the love of the God of the Bible who presented Himself not as a distant impersonal God, but as a personal heavenly Father.  Jerry’s heart was subsequently changed as he had a personal encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Jerry, who is fluent in four languages, is a frequent speaker on apologetics

Link:http://www.fromjihadtojesus.com

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Oprah Winfrey will be letting out all the stops on her XM Satellite Radio program this coming year. Beginning January 1, 2008, “Oprah & Friends” will offer a year-long course on the New Age teachings of A Course in Miracles.1 A lesson a day throughout the year will completely cover the 365 lessons from the Course in Miracles “Workbook.”

For example, Lesson #29 asks you to go through your day affirming that “God is in everything I see.”2 Lesson #61 tells each person to repeat the affirmation “I am the light of the world.”3 Lesson #70 teaches the student to say and believe “My salvation comes from me.”4By the end of the year, “Oprah & Friends” listeners will have completed all of the lessons laid out in the Course in Miracles Workbook. Those who finish the Course will have a wholly redefined spiritual mindset—a New Age worldview that includes the belief that there is no sin, no evil, no devil, and that God is “in” everyone and everything. A Course in Miracles teaches its students to rethink

everything they believe about God and life. The Course Workbook bluntly states: “This is a course in mind training”5 and is dedicated to “thought reversal.”6

Teaching A Course in Miracles will be Oprah’s longtime friend and special XM Satellite Radio reporter Marianne Williamson—who also happens to be one of today’s premier New Age leaders. She and Conversations with God author Neale Donald Walsch co-founded the American Renaissance Alliance in 1997, that later became the Global Renaissance Alliance of New Age leaders, that changed its name again in 2005 to the Peace Alliance

. This Peace Alliance seeks to usher in an era of global peace founded on the principles of a New Age/New Spirituality that they are now referring to as a “civil rights movement for the soul.”7 They all agree that the principles of this New Age/New Spirituality are clearly articulated in A Course in Miracles—which is fast becoming the New Age Bible. So what is A Course in Miracles and what does it teach?

A Course in Miracles is allegedly “new revelation” from “Jesus” to help humanity work through these troubled times. This “Jesus”—who bears no doctrinal resemblance to the Bible’s Jesus Christ—began delivering his channeled teachings in 1965 to a Columbia University Professor of Medical Psychology by the name of Helen Schucman.

One day Schucman heard an “inner voice” stating, “This is a course in miracles. Please take notes.”8 For seven years she diligently took spiritual dictation from this inner voice that described himself as “Jesus.” A Course in Miracles was quietly published in 1975 by the Foundation for Inner Peace. For many years “the Course” was an underground cult classic for New Age seekers who studied “the Course” individually, with friends, or in small study groups.

As a former New Age follower

and devoted student of A Course in Miracles, I eventually discovered that the Course in Miracles was—in reality—the truth of the Bible turned upside down. Not having a true understanding of the Bible at the time of my involvement, I was led to believe that A Course in Miracles was “a gift from God” to help everyone understand the “real” meaning of the Bible and to help bring peace to the world. Little did I know that the New Age “Christ” and the New Age teachings of A Course in Miracles were everything the real Jesus Christ warned us to watch out for. In Matthew 24 Jesus warned about false teachers, false teachings and the false “Christs” who would pretend to be He.

When I left the New Age “Christ” to follow the Bible’s Jesus Christ, I had come to understand that the “Jesus” of A Course in Miracles was a false “Christ,” and that his Course in Miracles was dangerously deceptive. Here are some quotes from the “Jesus” of A Course in Miracles:

  • “There is no sin. . . ” 9  [See note]

  •  A “slain Christ has no meaning.”10

  • “The journey to the cross should be the last ‘useless journey.”11

  • “Do not make the pathetic error of ‘clinging to the old rugged cross.’”12

  • “The Name of Jesus Christ as such is but a symbol… It is a symbol that is safely used as a replacement for the many names of all the gods to which you pray.”13

  • “God is in everything I see.”14

  • “The recognition of God is the recognition of yourself.”15

  • “The oneness of the Creator and the creation is your wholeness, your sanity and your limitless power.”16

  • “The Atonement is the final lesson he [man] need learn, for it teaches him that, never having sinned, he has no need of salvation.”17

Most Christians recognize that these teachings are the opposite of what the Bible teaches. In the Bible, Jesus Christ’s atoning death on the cross of Calvary was hardly a “useless journey.” His triumph on the cross provides salvation to all those who confess their sin, accept Him and follow Him as their Lord and Saviour. His victory on the cross rings throughout the New Testament. It has been gloriously sung about in beloved hymns through the ages and is at the heart of our Christian testimony.

I found the Jesus of the Bible to be wholly believable as He taught God’s truth and warned about the spiritual deception that would come in His name. The “Jesus” of A Course in Miracles reveals himself to be an imposter when he blasphemes the true Jesus Christ by saying that a “slain Christ has no meaning” and that we are all “God” and that we are all “Christ.” It was by reading the Bible’s true teachings of Jesus Christ that I came to understand how deceived I had been by A Course in Miracles and my other New Age teachings.

I was introduced to A Course in Miracles by Dr. Gerald Jampolsky’s book Love is Letting Go of Fear. Jampolsky declared in his easy-to-read book how the teachings of A Course in Miracles had changed his life. As an ambassador for A Course in Miracles over the years, Jampolsky has been featured not only in New Age circles but at least twice on Robert Schuller’s Hour of Power. While Schuller introduced Jampolsky and his “fabulous”

18 Course in Miracles-based books to his worldwide television audience, it was Marianne Williamson’s appearance on a 1992 Oprah Winfrey Show that really shook the rafters.

On that program, Oprah enthusiastically endorsed Williamson’s book, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles. Oprah told her television audience that Williamson’s book about A Course in Miracles was one of her favorite books, and that she had already bought a thousand copies and would be handing them out to everyone in her studio audience. Oprah’s endorsement skyrocketed Williamson’s book about A Course in Miracles to the top of the New York Times bestseller list. Ironically, all of this was happening after I had left the Course and the New Age. In fact, I was doing the final editing on my book The Light That Was Dark

that warned about the dangers of the New Age—and in particular A Course in Miracles.

After being introduced to the world on Oprah, Marianne Williamson has continued to grow in popularity and, as previously mentioned, has become one of today’s foremost New Age leaders. Williamson credits Winfrey for bringing her book about A Course in Miracles before the world: “For that, my deepest thanks to Oprah Winfrey. Her enthusiasm and generosity have given the book, and me, an audience we would never otherwise have had.”19 In her 2004 book, The Gift of Change, Williamson wrote:

“Twenty years ago, I saw the guidance of the Course as key to changing one’s personal life; today, I see its guidance as key to changing the world. More than anything else, I see how deeply the two are connected.”20

Thus the New Age teachings of A Course in Miracles are about to be taught by Marianne Williamson to millions of listeners on Oprah’s XM Satellite Radio program. Listeners are encouraged to buy A Course in Miracles for the year-long course. An audio version of A Course in Miracles recited by Richard (John Boy Walton) Thomas is also available on compact disc.

Popular author Wayne Dyer told his PBS television audience that the “brilliant writing” of A Course in Miracles would produce more peace in the world.21 Williamson’s New Age colleague, Neale Donald Walsch, said his “God” stated that “the era of the Single Saviour is over”22 and that he (“God”) was responsible for authoring the teachings of A Course in Miracles.23

Meanwhile, Gerald Jampolsky’s Course in Miracles-based book, Forgiveness, continues to be sold in Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral bookstore as Schuller prepares to host a January 17-19, 2008, “Rethink Conference” at his Crystal Cathedral.24

At this critical time in the history of the world, the New Gospel/New Spirituality is coming right at the world and the church with its New Age teachings and its New Age Peace Plan. But this New Age Peace Plan has at its deceptive core the bottom-line teaching from A Course in Miracles that “we are all one” because God is “in” everyone and everything. But the Bible is clear that we are not God (Ezekiel 28:2; Hosea 11:9). And per Galatians 3:26-28, our only oneness is in Jesus Christ—not in ourselves as “God” and “Christ.” What Oprah and Marianne Williamson and the world will learn one day is that humanity’s only real and lasting peace is with the true Jesus Christ who is described and quoted in the Holy Bible (Romans 5:1).

Oprah Winfrey’s misplaced faith in Marianne Williamson and the New Age teachings of A Course in Miracles is a sure sign of the times. But an even surer sign of the times is that most Christians are not taking heed to what is happening in the world and in the church. We are not contending for the faith as the Bible admonishes us to do (Jude 3).

It is time for all of our Purpose-Driven and Emerging church pastors to address the real issue of the day. Our true Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is being reinvented, redefined, and blasphemed right in front of our eyes and hardly anyone seems to notice or care. If we want the world to know who Jesus Christ is, we need to also warn them about who He is not. There is a false New Age “Christ” making huge inroads into the world and into the church. The Apostle Paul said that “it is a shame” we have to even talk about these things, but talk about them we must (Ephesians 5:12-16).

If people want to follow Oprah Winfrey and the New Age “Christ” of A Course in Miracles they certainly have that right. But let them be warned that the New Age “Christ” they are following is not the same Jesus Christ who is so clearly and authoritatively presented in the pages of the Bible.

 

 

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William MacDonald

 

There is a curious problem today in the evangelical [and fundamental] world — one that poses sobering questions for the church and for the individual believer. The problem in brief is this: a great army of personal soul-winners has been mobilized to reach the populace for Christ. They are earnest, zealous, enthusiastic, and persuasive. To their credit it must be said that they are on the job. And it is one of the phenomena of our times that they rack up an astounding number of conversions. Everything so far seems to be on the plus side.

But the problem is this: The conversions do not stick. The fruit does not remain. Six months later there is nothing to be seen for all the aggressive evangelism. The capsule technique of soul winning has produced stillbirths.

What lies at the back of all this malpractice in bringing souls to the birth? Strangely enough it begins with the valid determination to preach the pure gospel of the grace of God. We want to keep the message simple — uncluttered by any suggestion that man can ever earn or deserve eternal life. Justification is by faith alone, apart from the deeds of the law. Therefore, the message is “only believe.”

From there the message is reduced to a concise formula. For instance, the evangelistic process is cut down to a few basic questions and answers, as follows:

“Do you believe you are a sinner?”
“Yes.”
“Do you believe Christ died for sinners?”
“Yes.”
“Will you receive Him as your Savior?”
“Yes.”
“Then you are saved!”
“I am?”
“Yes, the Bible says you are saved.”

At first blush the method and the message might seem above criticism. But on closer study we are forced to have second thoughts and to conclude that the gospel has been over-simplified.

The first fatal flaw is the missing emphasis on repentance. There can be no true conversion without conviction of sin. It is one thing to agree that I am a sinner: it is quite another thing to experience the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit in my life. Unless I have a Spirit-wrought consciousness of my utterly lost condition, I can never exercise saving faith. It is useless to tell unconvicted sinners to believe on Jesus — that message is only for those who know they are lost. We sugar-coat the gospel when we de-emphasize man’s fallen condition. With that kind of watered-down message, people receive the Word with joy instead of with deep contrition. They do not have deep roots, and though they might endure for a while, they soon give up all profession when persecution or trouble comes (Matt. 13:21). Many have forgotten that the message is repentance toward God as well as faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

A second serious omission is a missing emphasis on the Lordship of Christ. A light, jovial mental assent that Jesus is Savior misses the point. Jesus is first Lord, then Savior. The New Testament always places His Lordship before His Saviorhood. Do we present the full implication of His Lordship to people? He always did.

A third defect in the message is the tendency to keep the terms of discipleship hidden until a decision has been made for Jesus. Our Lord never did this. The message He preached included the cross as well as the crown. “He never hid His scars to win disciples.” He revealed the worst along with the best, then told His listeners to count the cost. We popularize the message and promise fun.

The result of all this is that we have people believing without knowing what they believe. In many cases they have no doctrinal basis for their decision. They do not know the implication of commitment to Christ. They have never experienced the mysterious, miraculous work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration.

And of course there are others who are talked into a profession because of the slick salesmanship techniques of the soul winner. Or some who want to please the affable, personable young man with the winning smile. And some who only want to get rid of this religious interloper who has intruded into their privacy. Satan laughs when these conversions are triumphantly announced on earth.

I would like to raise several questions that might lead to some changes in the strategy of evangelism.

First of all, can we generally expect people to make an intelligent commitment to Christ the first time they hear the Gospel? Certainly, there is the exceptional case where a person has already been prepared by the Holy Spirit.

But generally speaking, the process involves sowing the seed, watering it, then sometime later reaping the harvest. In our mania for instant conversion, we have forgotten that conception, gestation, and birth do not occur on the same day.

A second question — can a capsule presentation of the gospel really do justice to so great a message? As one who has written several gospel tracts, I confess to a certain sense of misgivings in even attempting to condense the good news into four small pages. Would we not be wise to give people the full presentation as it is found in the Gospels, or in the New Testament?

Thirdly, is all this pressure for decisions really Scriptural? Where in the New Testament were people ever pressured into making a profession? The practice is justified by saying that if only one out of ten is genuine, it is worth it. But what about the other nine disillusioned, bitter, perhaps deceived; enroute to hell by a false profession?

And I must add this: Is all this boasting about conversions really accurate? You’ve met the man who solemnly tells you of ten people he contacted that day and all of them were saved. A young doctor testified that every time he goes to a new city, he looks in the phone book for people with his last name. Then he calls them one by one and leads them through the four steps of salvation. Amazing enough, every one of them opens the door of his heart to Jesus. I don’t want to doubt the honesty of people like this, but am I wrong in thinking that they are extremely naive? Where are all those people who are saved? They cannot be found.

What it all means is that we should seriously re-examine our streamlined capsule evangelism. We should be willing to spend time teaching the gospel, laying a solid doctrinal foundation for faith to rest on. We should stress the necessity for repentance — a complete about face with regard to sin. We should stress the full implication of the Lordship of Christ and the conditions of discipleship. We should explain what belief really involves. We should be willing to wait for the Holy Spirit to produce genuine conviction of sin.

If we do this, we’ll have less astronomical figures of so-called conversions, but more genuine cases of spiritual rebirth.

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By Ray Stedman

My home is on the Rogue River in southwestern Oregon. As the river flows by my door it is a quiet, happily murmuring stream. But ten miles downstream it turns into a raging torrent, sweeping through the walls of Hellgate Canyon with unbelievable power and white-capped display. The varied assortment of rafters, kayakers, and boatsmen who challenge its course through the Coast Range have but one thought in mind—survival! A few hardy, experienced souls dare it on their own, but most rely on river-wise guides who thoroughly know the dangers, can instruct in the techniques of survival, and are able to build implicit trust in their knowledge and leadership.

By now you have doubtless discovered that life is very much like that powerful and treacherous river. Who hasn’t felt at times that you are being carried along into unknown dangers quite beyond your control? Who hasn’t breathed a sigh of relief during quiet seasons, only to have sudden intrusions of tragic circumstances press faith to the breaking point? We’ve all known (and perhaps succumbed to) the allure of powerful temptations to wrong-doing that can leave us shattered and disillusioned when they are past. Or thought we were doing okay only to discover that we had badly misjudged our state and woke up too late to recover.

All these perils and more are charted for us in the seven letters to the churches of Asia, found in Revelation 2-3. The encouraging factor is that they come from the great River-Guide himself, Jesus our Lord, who thoroughly knows the dangers which confront us, can advise knowledgably and accurately of the correctives needed to survive, and, in addition, offers incredible rewards to those who make the trip successfully to the end.

Each of the seven letters confronts a different situation and teaches a different lesson. The first, to the church at Ephesus, describes the one absolutely essential motivation to survival. It is to preserve continuously the warm and intimate love for Jesus that we first felt when we learned of that agony of self-sacrifice on our behalf which made salvation possible and brought us out of darkness into his marvelous light. If we lose that love by being drawn into side currents of man-pleasing or self-gratification or personal ambition we are in deadly danger of finding ourselves washed up on the shoals of life with little to show for having lived at all. “Watch your motivation,” says Jesus, “there is only one that can see you safely through the perils of life—a genuine and often-renewed love for Me.”

The letter to Smyrna faces a quite different danger. Here it is the terrible pressure to give up faith because it will mean ridicule, ostracism, affliction and outright persecution even to the point of death. We hate the thought that difficulties and hard trials are to be part of our lot, but Jesus tells us that only these can build the moral strength and trust that is needed to get us through. Modern examples include Alexandr Solzhenitsyn who suffered for years in Russian prisons and detention camps but who was sustained by a deepening devotion to Christ. His sturdy declaration of unpalatable truth has become a model to many of how one man can influence a whole generation. We believe that strong military forces are needed to preserve Christian civilization but Smyrna teaches us that Jesus can keep his church alive and vigorous in the midst of social and political upheaval. “Don’t be intimidated by opposition,” cries Jesus, “just as I died and came to life again, so can you, for the cross always leads to a crown!”

Pergamum stresses the need for integrity. The perils are subtle. One of them is sexual seduction. A young business man once told me of being with associates in a city away from home. His two friends planned to go out and find girls for a sexual party, but being a Christian he demurred and stayed in the room to write letters. After going to bed he was awakened by his two friends returning, accompanied by three girls. One of them promptly climbed in bed with him, awakening strong physical response. But he reminded himself of all he had to lose, and what his Lord would think, and wisely dressed without a word of reproach and went down to get another room. The other peril at Pergamum was to seek for personal power at the price of integrity. This was the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. It is found in many offices today in the lure of The Inner Circle, entrance to which demands some surrender of moral principle.

“But,” says Jesus, “don’t forget that integrity maintained means greater intimacy with Me. Guard your morality with care!”

The letter to Thyatira develops the other side of the same problem. It teaches us that compromise destroys. Under the figure of the Old Testament queen, Jezebel, who introduced idolatry into Israel, a contemporary Jezebel teaches Christians that having another god is necessary to do business in the modern world. It pictures adopting the world’s value system in place of the personal honesty which Christ requires. To lie, to shade principle, to promise what can’t be delivered, is to begin a downward slide into moral disaster. The recent spate of indictments for inside trading on Wall Street is a case in point. Those indicted have testified to the way their moral perceptions were blunted by the lust for easy money–but now prison awaits! So a false god leads to certain destruction. “But remember,” Jesus urges, “faithfulness leads to greater authority. He who overcomes will reign with Me.”

Sardis is the church in deepest trouble. It started well but soon began to lean on a good reputation and that led to inner-coasting till before they knew it they were all but dead. The Lord’s staccato command to them is, “Wake up, strengthen what remains.” The lesson to each of us is clear: words are never enough. A reputation for past success will soon disappear if the deeds that built it are missing. It is a call for consistency. Begin again where you once were. Apathy and lethargy are deadly enemies so recognize them as such and come alive. “Those who do,” says Jesus, “will find security and honor. Limited success is far better than phony achievement.”

Alone among the churches, the church of Philadelphia merits the full approval of its Lord, without reproach of any kind. It is because its members are alert to their opportunities, compassionate to their enemies, and patiently aware that nothing will ever be fully set right till Jesus comes. Read the lives of the heroes and heroines of the Church and see how that pattern is repeated in each life. With the love of Jesus as a continuing motive, and a determination to faithfully reflect his character till he returns, men and women like Mother Theresa, Chuck Colson, Jim Elliott, Amy Carmichael, and thousands unnamed have earned the title, “of whom the world was not worthy.” “I will acknowledge them as my own,” Jesus declares, “in new ways they cannot now imagine!”

Laodicea is the church filled with self-sufficient members. They had two problems. One, there was a lack of full commitment; they were neither hot nor cold. And, two, there was an inaccurate self-image; they thought they were rich when they were really poor. They were both comfortable and complacent. But in the eyes of Jesus they were far from what he wanted his people to be. The church is not a country club, operated for the benefit of its members. It is not a performing arts center, offering high-quality entertainment. It is not a political action group, choosing up sides in the public arena. It is not a protest movement, radically seeking the overthrow of law and order. What it is intended to be is salt, and salty salt at that, flavoring life and arresting its corruption. And light, widely visible light, illuminating a dark and confused world. To be this, Jesus offers himself, in intimate and personal relationship, to be the source of all that’s needed for ministry in this present age. “Nothing else will suffice,” he says, “only my life lived through your life will do the trick. It will bring you through the shoals and rapids of life to share with me in the Final Triumph!”

So, can you make it through the dangers, toils and snares of this dangerous world? Of course you can—if you love your Leader, heed his warnings, and lay hold of his resources. Without him you cannot succeed; with him you cannot fail!

 

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By Dwight Knight 

Soteriology -The Greek word “soteria” means, the salvation of the soul.  Thus, we derive at the study of God’s plan to save man’s soul.  To outline our look into Soteriology we will focus our gaze into three areas.  They are: 

                              I.The Descriptions of Salvation

                          II.The Doctrine of Salvation

                       III.The Definitions of Salvation

 
 I. The Descriptions of Salvation

      a.) Salvation from the Penalty of Sin ~ Justification 
           1.) Redemption
           2.) Ransom
      b.) Salvation from the Power of Sin ~ Sanctification
           1.) Impartation
           2.) Holiness
           3.) Righteousness
      c.) Salvation from the Presence of Sin ~ Glorification
           1.) Expectation
           2.) Reward 

Salvation
is described as the process which a righteous, holy, loving God provides all the necessary components to redeem fallen humanity.  To accomplish this, the act of God on this matter must be comprehensive, complete and correct.

It must be comprehensive in its work so that there can never be claims of exception or exemption.  No one may ever say that salvation was not available when needed.   It must also be complete in its work, so as to satisfy all the requirements necessary to appease God’s wrath. If even one tenet of man’s fallen condition is not addressed, God would be compelled by the dictates of His own nature to banish mankind from His presence and exact on man the eternal punishment that man justly deserves.  And finally the work of salvation must be correct.  The process that would redeem the lost must be flawless in every component.  There is no luxury for error or fallibility.  Else, God’s holiness is a farce; man’s hope for eternal life is a fable and he (mankind) is still lost for eternity.  
Therefore, the work of salvation must deliver us from the penalty of sin, the power of sin, and the presence of sin. 

The penalty of sin is not just banishment to hell.  Because man comes to God with his need already in place, God must provide a means also that will deal with the corruption and contamination in man’s heart that already exists.  The process that God uses must provide a way to eliminate the sin of man’s past offenses.  This process is known as justification.

Justification is brought about through the resurrection of Jesus (See Rom. 4:24, 25). This act eliminates our past sins (See Rom. 3:24, 25), and allows us to appear before God as though the past sinful acts never existed.  This means that the issues surrounding man’s condition must be revealed and also remedied.  The forces of darkness hold mankind against his will in the slavery of a sinful world system (See Heb. 2:14, 15).  Therefore, to rescue man from slavery and pay the cost to release him from the one who imprisons him against his will, God must redeem and ransom him or as the words suggests “buy back” the hostage mankind by paying the acceptable price for his freedom.

Redemption

is the price one pays to release a person held in some form of slavery or prison.  Whereas, ransom is the price paid for someone held against their will.  By providing the Lord Jesus Christ to be the innocent blood payment for fallen man, God satisfies the requirements of His own holiness, while saving humanity from the penalty of sin. 
It is important to remember that while justification deals with sins that are past, i.e., the penalty of sin, there must be some type of salvation benefit that sees man’s present condition.  For, although mankind has been redeemed and ransomed; even though the sins of his past have been eliminated by the process of justification, man still has a soul that is in a fallen state, he lives in the immediate vicinity of a wicked world system, and there is a wicked despot, named Satan, who wants desperately to enslave him again. 

 

So, it becomes necessary that God provide a plan that will change the fallen nature to that which is eternally converted and thereby impervious to the contamination of future sinful acts, while also protecting man from the retribution that comes from living a sinful life before a righteous God.  This very necessary transaction would require that the perfect sacrificial body of Jesus (Heb. 10:4-10) offered would appease God’s wrath and provide man with sanctification.  That is, man can be made holy in his spirit (the part of his being that was made to be the dwelling place of God), and live holy by desire with his soul (that part of man the is his essence where volition of will is found) and choice without fear of death, proving in other words, that God has also saved us from the power of sin, upon which man can please God with the actions of his body (Romans 12:1). 

To bring about the work of sanctification, three very important works must be done at conversion.  First, there is the work of impartation. Impartation is the act where we are placed in Christ (II Cor. 5:17) and He in us (Gal. 2:20).  Because of the act of impartation, God now sees us in His Son; man is no longer forced to stand before God having his own merit or deeds to represent him (Phil. 3:9).  This process is also known as the baptism of the Spirit (I Cor. 12:13).   As a result of impartation God is can now declare righteousness on everyone who by faith receives Christ as their Savior.  Righteousness means, “To declare one in right standing before God”.  This declaration is solely a gift from God (Rom. 5:17b).  The righteousness of God is imputed, meaning it was given on the behalf of someone else.  God imputed His righteousness to us because of the love He has for His Son.  Everything God does for the believer is because of His love for His Son.  As a result of having God’s imputed righteousness and being placed in His Son, the Bible teaches that we are holy and we should live holy.  God decided in eternity past that everyone that comes to Him through His Son would be made holy (Eph.1:4).  That is, we are as holy as His Son Jesus because we are in Him.  This is known as positional holiness.  We are sanctified because of Jesus Christ alone, not by any accomplishments of our own (Heb.10:10).  But God also requires us to live in such a manner that does not follow after the world and its philosophies, but rather He expects us to live in a way that reveals a change in nature from our former lifestyle of sin.

This is known as practical holiness (I Peter 1:15, 16).  The statement of our individual lives should speak of the wonderful work of grace that God has accomplished in us.  To live contrary to this, would be stating that our God is not worthy of our commitment and that the death that Christ suffered was worthless and wasted. 
The final aspect in the work of Christ on our behalf would be salvation from the presence of sin.  The Bible makes it clear that this is not a temporary condition of salvation.  Instead as it was an eternal, infinite, and almighty God that conceived, completed and consummated this deed.  This work is called glorification and it is an eternal work that is impossible to reverse.  Glorification is the process where God takes mortal man, once a sinner now redeemed by His Son and elevates him to the highest position attainable, i.e., heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:17) Already our spirits are with Him, seated in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6), what we now await is His soon, sudden and sure return; just as He promised.  This return is referred to by His followers as the “rapture”.  Now, while the term “rapture” is never used in scripture, the Greek work parousia, meaning “catch away” or “to be caught away” (I Thes. 4:16, 17) is used to describe the Lord’s return.  The scriptures go on to teach that this is the blessed hope (Titus 2:13) and should be the expectation of every believer.

 

It is not an allegorical scheme or clever myth, this is the eternal plan of God which He planned for (Eph. 1:4-11) and what our Savior prayed for (John 17:24) actual and certain.  The Lord Jesus will take the saints of God, to be with Him forever in heaven and sit at the throne of His Heavenly Father, God and His earthly father, David.  Finally it will be at this time God will reward all those who have faithfully served and followed Him.  The reward that will be given the believers’ at this time will be conditional, based on deeds done on earth. 
We have just finished a brief look into the description of salvation.  Now we’ll turn our scrutiny toward the doctrine of salvation

II. The Doctrine of Salvation

 

a.     What Calvary Costs

1.     mercy

2.     grace

3.     propitiation

4.     justice

b.    What Confession Cancels

1.     forgiveness

2.     confession

c.     What Conversion Changes

1.     new nature

2.     newness of life

 

The vicarious death of the Lord Jesus Christ and the subsequent events around it comprise the must important acts of all time and eternity.  For it was at the cross, that a God who owed nothing to anyone, gave everything to anyone.  The giving of God’s only begotten son to die a sinner’s death was the greatest act of love ever displayed.  When one considers, that an infinite God, who is infinite in wisdom, power, understanding and genius, could have chosen from an infinite number of ways to save mankind, he chose only the one that would cost Him the most.  This begins to give us an understanding of what Calvary cost.

To display His mercy on humanity, a wholly just and righteous God must first appease His own standard of holiness.  In other words, God must somehow allow for the justice of His holiness to act and the mercy of His heart to act.  One does not cancel out the other.  Justice looks at a righteous standard and decides accordingly.  If there has been even one violation of His commands (James 2:10), God is forced by His own nature to judge and mete out the appropriate punishment.  Every man has violated God’s law.  Every man is worthy of God’s justice.  Every man is worthy of the appropriate punishment.  There are no exceptions to this reality. 

So, how does God bring about this very important transaction without invalidating His own moral code?  The answer is propitiationPropitiation is God’s determine process of changing justice to mercy without making a farce of justice, and without making a façade of mercy.  Propitiation says that if there is one who satisfies all of the essentials, i.e., (a) a sinless past, (b) a perfect flawless spirit, (c) maintain a perfect, law fulfilling life; this same person, if willing can pay the price for all.  This selfless act is the only way that the judgment seat becomes the mercy seat.   Jesus Christ did just that for all of lost humanity.  And because of His giving of Himself for us, God gives us not only His mercy, but also His grace.  Grace is the favor one shows on another, without the receiver deserving or asking for it.  God’s love gift to His Son for dying for us was that He would provide His limitless favor on sinners redeemed.  That is, God would treat the followers of Christ as He would his own Son, Jesus Christ.  Christ death on the cross was able to appease God’s justice without violating His holiness, while also giving to ruined creation God’s boundless favor.

God’s divine favor means that He does for His blood-bought children things that they do not deserve.  The on going process of living a holy life before Him is one that is fraught with fights, failures, and foes.  Often, however, the most difficult fight that the Christian faces is against his most dangerous adversary, the flesh.  The flesh provides enough conflict and confusion to the life of the believer as to make it seem that the devil is out of a job!  No matter the case, whether the sin in our lives is as a result of the devil’s schemes or the weaknesses of our flesh, the point remains; we sin.   Our sin is a result of the sinful desires we carried over from the former life.  It would be fair to say that God, having given us the grace and mercy that we do not deserve, would be justified in washing His hands of us.  But instead God reaches out yet another time and places his hand of grace out to rescue.  For, the scripture teaches us that the Lover of our souls has provided yet another benefit to our salvation that meets this reoccurring need.  That provision is called confession.  The act of telling God that what He sees us commit is in fact a violation of Him and His law and that we are aware of it (the Greek word for confession – “homologeo” means “to say the same as”).  What confession cancels is all sin that we commit after we have accepted Christ as our Savior.  Because the Father loves His Son, Jesus, He has so ordained that any child of God who confesses their sin, He will forgive (“aphiemi” – to put or send away) of all their wrongdoing.  We should also realize that the term confession brings with it the notion of a repented heart.  The act of confession is not a stand alone deed.  It is incumbent upon us to have sincere contrition when we come before the throne to discuss our wrong. 
Now the tendency is to say that with such a provision in place, it would seem we have the license to do whatever we want and expect God to remove our wickedness because of this provision.  This very same argument was addressed by the apostle Paul in Romans chapter 6.   He looked at the situation and brought into focus the balance between the problems of our faults and the promise of God’s forgiveness. 

 

He introduces for us in clear terms what every believer should study and adhere to.  This is a discussion about what conversion changes.

Every person, who has had a heart change, i.e., a new nature (II Cor. 5:17), by accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as their savior now can live in newness of life (Rom. 6:1-4).  The new nature removes the uncontrollable tendency to sin without choice.  This new nature provides us with the internal working of the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 6:17; Phil.2:13) as the new governing principle of control in our lives.  This simply means that because we have a new operating source in our hearts there should be a new behavior pattern in our everyday life (Phil.2:12).  Newness of life is the very least that God should expect from us (Rom. 12:1) if we are really His.   This new nature that God in His infinite love and grace has given us, demands a new life that is a living witness of the completed work of Calvary on our behalf.  Everyone who by faith has come to trust Him for eternal life should strive by the power of the Holy Spirit and the instruction from the word of God to honor our Lord by keeping His commandments.  This above all else proves if the love we say we have for Him is genuine.

These points that have been shared are the basic point of the doctrine of Soteriology.  For a more in depth study, read Romans chapters 5 and 6.  This will give you Paul’s presentation of the saving work of Calvary.  We recommend that these passages presented here and the Paul’s work in Romans be study over and over until there is no doubt of the completed work that God has done.  God’s love for the saint and His provision to rescue lost humanity from sin, Satan and eternal punishment is not transitory or temporary.  The work of Calvary fro everyone who by faith believes, is eternal.  Nothing can separate us from the love of God and His work in our lives.  We may sin and we are capable of imperfect acts, but, salvation was never based on our work but His. In return, our love gift to Him should be our lives lived for Him. 

 http://www.challenge-ministries.org

 

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The author     : Father Zakaria Boutros

The publisher: www.fatherzakaria.com

We have published before several books in this series, of them; God is one in holy trinity, the incarnation of Al-mighty God in the immaculate body of the Christ, the issue of crucifixion of the Christ, the issue of the veracity of the holy bible and its non falsification, in this book we will discuss with the grace of God the issue of: Is Barnabas’ Bible the true bible?  

Actually some Muslims are sticking to a book named Barnabas’ Bible, and saying that it is the true bible that was not forged, claiming that the holy bible, we the Christians are using now is a forged bible

This book in your hand we had published to rebut such accusations, strengthened by the definite proofs for its nullification

Asking God to use it for the benefit of many and to enlighten the mind of those who are reading it, Amen

To Read the Document Pl Click the following Link

Thanks.

barnabas___bible.doc

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