integrity or ethics conceptIn 2 Corinthians 1, Paul is defending himself against the accusations of the false apostles, who were taking every possible opportunity to bring reproach upon Paul and his ministry in the eyes of the Corinthians. In what was actually a desire to be loving and considerate toward the Corinthians (cf. 2 Cor 1:23–2:4), Paul made a change in his travel plans in regards to his visits to Corinth. And like unscrupulous politicians running a smear campaign against their opponent, the false apostles seized upon this change of plans and blew it entirely out of proportion.

“The man talks out of both sides of his mouth! He’s undependable! Untrustworthy! He’s a fleshly man who goes back on his word because he’s guided by no higher principle than his own fallen nature! He doesn’t depend on the Spirit’s guidance, otherwise how do you explain the fickleness? And if you can’t trust him to get travel plans right, how are you going to trust his apostleship? How are you going to trust his gospel?”

Paul responds to these charges in 2 Corinthians 1:15–22. But as you read that passage, it doesn’t quite sound like a conventional defense of changing itinerary. Before he defends his conduct, Paul defends his integrity. And he does so by appealing to his theology. The reality of who God is, and what He has accomplished in Christ and in the Gospel, is the basis for all of his behavior. Paul’s conduct is rooted in his message. And for those of us who would claim to be ministers of that same Gospel (which is all of us!), the same must be true of us. I hope we’ll be instructed as we look into three of those arguments that appear in 2 Corinthians 1:18–20.

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January 29, 2015

Killing the King

by Jesse Johnson

crownGod made people for the purpose of delighting in his glory. We delight in his glory by rejoicing in his character, and believing by faith his promises. The nature of this faith results in both a hatred of sin, as well as an eager joy at learning more and more about God.

But because of sin, faith doesn’t come naturally. In fact, people rebel against God, and often reject him along with his promises. When that happens, sinful people are not content with a vacuum—instead they seek to replace the joy that can be found only in God with a quest for joy somewhere else.  Continue Reading…

pg44-boredom-gettyLet’s face it. Church is not always as exciting as we would like. Sometimes it’s boring and disappointing. It’s possible that there are good reasons for that. But it’s possible that there are not.

Being bored is not the worst thing that can happen to us in our churches. In fact, it may be the best thing since it can present opportunity for personal change. Though not always, our personal boredom can often be symptomatic of a needed soul adjustment.

Consider a few shifts before submitting to disappointment’s demands:

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Fulfilled prophecy is one of the strongest evidences for the truthfulness of the Bible and the authenticity of Jesus Christ.

Numerous Old Testament predictions were fulfilled perfectly in Christ. As the apostle Peter preached: “To Him all the prophets bear witness, that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name” (Acts 10:43).

Our Lord Himself, on the road to Emmaus, demonstrated how the Old Testament pointed to Him as the Messiah. “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27). Jesus’ life, which culminated in His death, burial, and resurrection, was the perfect fulfillment of God’s prior revelation (Matt. 5:17); everything took place “according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3–4).

Though the evidence is overwhelming, unbelieving critics and skeptics raise objections nonetheless. In their unwillingness to embrace the truth, they propose alleged “problems” with biblical prophecy. But how are Christians to answer those kind of critical attacks?

In this post, I’d like to briefly respond to five common objections to biblical prophecy: Continue Reading…

Claims of sight-seeing return trips to Heaven and Hell are still in vogue among publishers today. However, I swear A Visitor’s Guide to Hell (Sterling Ethos, NY, 2014) is not a book vying to join that growing club. Launching from Jesus’ teaching about the rich man in Hell and Lazarus in Heaven the book explores the biblical descriptions of the afterlife.VGTH

Frankly, I’m surprised that the claimants of these apparent short-term visits to Hell don’t bother conforming their descriptions to what we have revealed in the Bible. It would make their stories more credible. If you were going to lie about a trip to Paris surely you’d at least peruse a guidebook to check your details line up with reality? Anyway, here is a brief excerpt from the chapter on Heaven titled “Alternate destination.”

(The ellipses represent large chunks missing for the sake of brevity; and so you’ll buy the book!)

Been there done that

Unlike Hell, the road to Heaven is not strictly a one-way street. There have been three credible people in history who have seen glimpses of Heaven, and been allowed to talk about some of what they saw. In this chapter we will draw from what these eye-witnesses saw.

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January 23, 2015

Why church?

by Lyndon Unger

I’m not that old, but I remember a few decades ago when Canadian culture was far different.  I remember when most people described themselves as “Christian”, even though that meant “confused theist” at best.  I remember when almost all businesses were closed on Sunday because it was “the Lord’s day”.  I also remember when most people were at least affiliated with a church.  None of those things are true anymore but for the most part, that’s not because too much has actually changed.  The people who pretended to be Christians are no longer pretending, on multiple fronts.

mask

Still, a whole lot of my personal friends have abandoned the faith over the years and I’ve watched hundreds leave the church and several even go from “Bible geek” to “raging atheist”.  A while ago, I ran across an article that talked about the importance of Christians being part of a church and it brought this topic to mind.  The writer listed several reason why people might be part of a church and several reasons why people might remove themselves from a church, and didn’t cast any judgment on their biblical validity…but this was his comprehensive list. Continue Reading…

I’m just finishing preaching the first half of 1 Samuel (1-15), and I’ve been struck by this paradoxical truth: often it is God’s greatest gifts that become our greatest trials.

Why does this happen? There are a number of reasons, but perhaps one of the most common is that people are quick to confuse the means with the end.

God is a giver because he is a lover. He gives gifts because he loves the people to whom he gives them. The gifts are the means of expressing his love to his creation, but they are not the end. The appropriate response to a gift is to thank the giver, and when this thanks is rightly directed to God, it becomes worship. In other words, God gives gifts as the means to the end of worship.   Continue Reading…

The_Boy_Who_Came_Back_from_HeavenRecent days have seen a rise in controversy over supposed celestial journeys. Not surprisingly, they have proved to lack authenticity.

But there was one individual who did experience a trip to heaven that was authentic. Nearly 2000 years ago, the Apostle Paul wrote, speaking of himself:

“I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven. And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows—was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak” (2 Corinthians 12:2-4).

PrintWithout seeking it out, the Apostle saw the real heaven; the dwelling place of God, angels, the exalted Christ, and those who trust in him as Lord and Savior. This truly was a supernatural experience beyond imagination; something of the extraordinary. And it really happened.

Moreover, we find the description of the event recorded in Scripture. If nothing else, we can learn that Scripture is sufficient (as opposed to 6-year olds, for example) on matters of heaven, and the like. And, what else can we learn from the Apostle’s experience? How did he speak about it after it happened? What did he say? What can we learn from him?

From the Apostle’s genuine experience, we can learn several things on how to speak of a visit to heaven. Here are a few observations from the way in which Paul described his unmatched and unrepeatable visit:

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Picture a high school math teacher that casts doubt on the textbook he’s teaching from. How adept at mathematics do you think his students will be? Or imagine a quarterback that doesn’t have confidence in his coach’s playbook. How far can the team progress into the season?

Paul Washer TMAI

These scenarios illustrate the reality of much of the theological education on the mission field today. Liberal Christianity and skepticism regarding the truthfulness of the Bible have been exported from the shores of America, and flown throughout the globe into the remotest regions on the planet. The consequences of the aspersion cast upon the text of Scripture have been devastating to the mission field. Many well-intentioned church leaders taught by Western missionaries mimic the unbelief of their teachers and doubt the veracity of Scripture. As a result, they base their ministries on pragmatic strategies and human experience—everything but the Word of God. And why wouldn’t they, if Scripture is nothing more than just another voice in the conversation? As you can imagine, the spiritual health and vitality of these churches suffer for lack of being fed from the mouth of God (Matt 4:4). In fields where there was once an unwavering loyalty to God and His Word, missionaries—not pagans or atheists—are sowing the seeds of doubt and unbelief, rather than the seed of the Word of God which brings a true spiritual harvest.

The Master’s Academy International (TMAI) believes that as missionaries go into the field to bring new converts to a saving knowledge of Christ, it is of utmost importance that they instill in their young “Timothys” a lofty view of Scripture—reverence for God and His Word. It is TMAI’s conviction that if missionaries do not believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, they have no business being involved in disciple-making through theological education.

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Voltaire on free speechMy American friends who were born into a bastion of free speech sometimes take their First Amendment privilege for granted. But I was raised in South Africa under the Apartheid regime. We were taught brainwashed that freedom of speech was a destabilizing ideology held by Liberals, Communists (ironic!), and terrorists (more ironic in the shadow of the attacks on a French satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo). Banned books, censorship, and a regulated media were commonplace and seemed normal and necessary in order to provide order in our society.

“Yikes,” you say, “Orwell much?” But this was all we knew. We lived in the nescient pre-Internet world where information came from regulated news stations and government libraries.

Thankfully, under our new and improved constitution (est. 1996) freedom of expression and a free press are rights that have been granted and protected in perpetuity. But this newfound freedom ushered in a fresh set of ethical conundrums.

Should I, as a Christian, be politically in favor of the right Muslims have to denounce my faith? Am I to joyfully accept that public schools present teaching on various world religions to my children? May I justifiably be upset when a satirical cartoonist or movie maker ridicules Jesus?

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