I found a recent article at Persecution Blog, Do Americans Care About Persecuted Christians? both provocative and sadly accurate:

The Church is under fire. At that sentence, half the people who started reading this article just moved on to something more interesting. However, that response is troublesome. The plight of believers gets little attention on the global stage, leaving many Christians throughout North America unaware, and therefore, indifferent to what’s going on in the body of Christ. Mention persecution, and eyes glaze over.

The post quotes extensively from Todd Nettleton, a spokesman for The Voice of the Martyrs, who explained that the average American Christian replies to persecution with “Man, that’s too bad.” In my reading, he gives 4 reasonable explanations as to why this seems to be the case:   Continue Reading…

twitter iconSometimes when people are eagerly anticipating a time-sensitive opportunity, they tend to turn off their brains and reflex kicks in. Just think of a false start in the Olympic final freestyle event. When one swimmer dives early, three others end up wet. And what happened on Wall Street last week is a perfect example of a herd mentality spawning a reflex of lemming-ism.

To understand the context of the event, you need to bear in mind how prodigiously software and social media stock tends to perform. Investors who put up a modest angel injection into a nascent Facebook goldmine blossomed into billionaires in a matter of months. So when Twitter, the phenomenally successful social media giant, filed last Friday (Oct 4, 2013) to list as a public company, investors went moggy. Immediately some and then more and then many speculators started lapping up the unbelievably cheap stock.

Over 14 million trades occurred and the stock shot up over 1000% (prices briefly peaked at 1,400%).There is only one problem. Twitter’s stock has not yet been made available. They merely filed to go public. It was an announcement of sorts of what was imminent, but no timing was mentioned. So, you might be thinking, what were traders acquiring in droves if Twitter stock hadn’t yet arrived on the market? Good question.

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Reposted from September 2, 2011.

In 1 Samuel 8, Israel makes a most wicked demand of Samuel: “Behold, you have grown old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint a king for us to judge us like all the nations” (1Sam 8:5). Two verses later, Yahweh confirms that this is not a rejection of Samuel, but a rejection of God Himself as the King of Israel (1Sam 8:7; cf. 10:19). And though Samuel spends nine verses warning them that they’re replacing the Omnipotent God with a puny human (1Sam 8:10–18), they don’t back off. “No,” they shout, as defiantly as resolutely. “But there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles” (1Sam 8:19–20).

In chapter 12, Samuel demonstrates their wickedness to them by praying down a thunderstorm that destroys their wheat harvest (1Sam 12:16–18). Now, a thunderstorm at wheat harvest time in Israel is like getting six inches of snow in L.A. on the Fourth of July. And so Israel gets the picture, and they actually repent. They ask Samuel to intercede for them because they’ve acknowledged that they have “added to all our sins this evil by asking for ourselves a king” (12:19).   Continue Reading…

In light of the upcoming Strange Fire Conference, it seemed fitting to post something related to the charismatic-cessationist debate.

Charismatics generally define the gift of tongues as a devotional prayer language that is available to every believer. This prayer language, according to its proponents, is not bound to the linguistic structures of earthly, human languages. In other words, it is not a real language — but rather “angelic” speech which supposedly transcends human language.

But therein lies a problem. On the one hand, the charismatic version of tongues does not consist of real human languages. On the other hand, Acts 2 makes it clear that the tongues spoken at Pentecost were real human languages.

So how can modern charismatics justify a type of “tongues” that does not fit the biblical description in Acts 2?

Proponents of modern tongues usually answer that question by asserting that there are at least two types of tongues in the New Testament. Charismatic blogger Adrian Warnock summed up the charismatic position like this:

One thing that most of us agree on is that there are different kinds of tongues…. I think it is fair to say that the tongues of 1 Corinthians are different from those of Acts 2.  Paul himself speaks here of different kinds of tongues. It is at least possible that at different points in this passage [1 Cor. 12–14] Paul is talking about different forms of tongues.

In this post, I want to briefly respond to the idea that the gift of tongues in 1 Corinthians 14 is somehow qualitatively different than in Acts 2.

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end is near
Premillennialism is the belief that Jesus will physically return to earth before the future 1,000 year kingdom. The tribulation is final seven-year period of wrath inflicted on the planet before the kingdom begins. Meanwhile, the term rapture refers to the event that occurs before Jesus establishes his kingdom in a literal and physical sense, when he will descend from the heaven, and Christians who are still alive will be caught up together with Jesus in the clouds. At the rapture, will meet him in the air and then we will always be with the Lord.

There are essentially three possibilities about when this rapture will happen in relationship to the tribulation. Either the rapture will happen before the tribulation (the pre-trib view), during the tribulation (the mid-trib/pre-wrath view), or after the tribulation (the post-trib view).   Continue Reading…

Photo from Three Rivers Episcopal blog, used under fair use rulesIn paedobaptist teaching, baptism is seen as a mark of divine ownership, a sign and seal given to those who are God’s own possession. When an infant is baptized, not only does he enter God’s covenant family, but “his parents declare that their child belongs to God” (Daniel Doriani). In this way, baptism is considered a sign of initiation by which an infant is received into the church and “reckoned among God’s children” (John Calvin). As John Murray writes, infants who are baptized “are to be received as the children of God and treated accordingly.”

This idea that children of believers are automatically children of God provides part of the rationale for infant baptism. According to one paedobaptist, “The children of Christians are no less the sons of God than the parents, just as in the Old Testament,” and since “they are sons of God, who will forbid them baptism?” In this view, just as “the adoption of sons” belonged to infants in Old Testament Israel (Rom 9:4), it now belongs to infants in the New Testament Church, and therefore the latter should be baptized just as the former were circumcised.  Continue Reading…

Left GomezI love the whimsical sobriquets of erstwhile baseball legends. “Shoeless Joe” Jackson, Luke “Fumblefoot” Appling, “Eyechart” Gwasdz, “Piano Legs” Hickman, Squatty, Fatty, Lippy, the “Hebrew Hammer” Braun, and of course, the Bambino. One character was far more original and colorful than his nickname. Lefty Gomez, the Yankee southpaw in the 1930s was renowned for his quirky antics, especially eccentric reasons for calling a time-out.

He once called a time-out in a World Series game to watch a plane fly overhead. On a subsequent occasion, when a thick fog settled on the field, Lefty called a time-out to retrieve his box of matches. He then held the lit match up as if to help the other players see better. Once he was pitching a tense game, the bases were loaded, and the game hinged on his pitch. Unsurprisingly he called for a time-out and beckoned  the catcher to come to the mound. The catcher was delighted, assuming they were going to discuss a strategy for this important pitch. But Lefty, in all seriousness, asked him if he had any hunting dogs he wanted to sell. The flustered teammate burst out, “Why are you asking me about dogs while the bases are loaded?” Lefty explained, “A friend of mine knows you hunt, and he asked me to find out if you had any dogs for sale. I promised I’d ask you the next time I thought of it. And I just thought of it!”

Though the unpredictable timing of Lefty Gomez must have been a source of frustration for his teammates, as this vignette reveals, that to Lefty a promise was a promise.

Many Christians are irked by the lack of specificity in God’s promises to bring about His kingdom. The when, where, and how of the kingdom of God is a hotbed of friendly debate (and at times in history, violent Crusades) between Bible students of all stripes. But there is one aspect of God’s promises we should all agree on and take comfort in: the  certainty of their fulfillment.

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BaptismOne of the most common arguments for infant baptism is found in the climax of the apostle Peter’s sermon at Pentecost in Acts 2. Peter has just set forth the redemptive work of Jesus (vv. 22-35) and proclaimed that He is both Lord and Christ (v. 36), and his Jewish listeners are cut to the heart, asking, “What shall we do?” (v. 37). Peter responds in Acts 2:38-39:

Repent and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself (Acts 2:38-39).

The argument for infant baptism is found in Peter’s declaration that “the promise is for you and your children”—not just you, but you and your children. According to paedobaptists, the promise that Peter refers to in Acts 2:38-39 is the same promise that God made to Abraham and his descendants in Genesis 17:1-8. As Robert Booth explains:

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Who is church history’s most notorious false teacher?

It might not be possible to answer that question definitively. But if we were to create a top-ten “most wanted” list, the name Arius would undoubtedly be near the top.

In ancient times, Arius’s teachings presented the foremost threat to orthodox Christianity — which is why historians like Alexander Mackay have labeled him “the greatest heretic of antiquity.” None other than Martin Luther said this about Arius:

The heretic Arius [denied] that Christ is true God. He did much harm with his false doctrine throughout Christendom, and it took four hundred years after his death to combat its injurious influence, yea, it is not even yet fully eradicated. In the death of this man the Lord God exalted His honor in a marvelous manner.

In case his name doesn’t sound familiar, Arius was a famous fourth-century false teacher who taught that the Son of God was a created being. Consequently, Arius denied Christ’s equality with God the Father, and along with it, the doctrine of the Trinity. Essentially, he was the Continue Reading…

I was going to write today about why I believe in the pre-tribulational rapture, but as I began that, it occurred to me that something more basic often needs to be proved. I have talked to many amillennialists that find the way premillennialists describe the rapture to be unconvincing. So before getting to why I believe in the pre-trib rapture, I wanted to explain why I believe in a rapture at all.

Scripture describes the rapture as the physical removal of believers from the earth, where we are caught up into the air to meet the Lord, and then we will be with the Lord forever.The word rapture is a biblical word, the Latin translation of harpazo in 1 Thess 4:17, which in English gets translated as “caught up” or “suddenly caught up” (NET).

Some think this sounds fantastical, or that it is too extreme to be plausible. I remember reading a Nathan Wilson book that mocked the idea of a rapture (he joked that people must by necessity leave their clothes and appendixes behind, both being useless in our new bodies). But the fact is the Bible does describe this event in at least three places.  Continue Reading…