Often when we speak of spiritual threats, we’re mocked or ignored as alarmists. Yet, when someone of great importance and special insight speaks, we should certainly listen and heed their warnings. (More …)
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As time and technology progress, we need to abandon our naivete and realize the threats before us. Complaining about the rise of persecutions is normal, but not very productive.
In these times, courage is required to confront Satan and his forces. Yet, it’s worthless unless it’s combined with faith (Hebrews 11:6), perseverance (Romans 5:3) and the spiritual armament constructed by God (Ephesians 6:10-17). In addition, we must be wise, cautious and perceptive. (More …)
Karen, Richard Mansel, and Ron Mansel are discussing. Toggle Comments
In the excellent book, “Why? Explaining the Holocaust,” Peter Hayes examines the motivations behind the German brutality directed against innocent Jews.
How could they have been so barbarous? Were they just soulless monsters?
After a lengthy discussion of the history of antisemitism among the German people, Hayes considers other motivations. (More …)
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There is a very curious passage in two of the Gospels. It’s hard to initially see any point in them. Yet all of Scripture has a place and a purpose, so we have to study and find it.
When faced with a tough passage, you study what others have said and you are somewhat relieved when none of them know either. There are verses that are just perplexing. But we persevere, nonetheless. (More …)
by Richard Mansel
Shortly before Jesus was arrested, Jesus told Peter that he would deny Him that very day (Luke 22:31-34). That led to the following exchange:
“And He said to them, ‘When I sent you without money bag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything?’ So they said, ‘Nothing.’ Then He said to them, ‘But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one. For I say to you that this which is written must still be accomplished in Me: ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors. For the things concerning Me have an end.’ So they said, ‘Lord, look, here are two swords.’ And He said to them, “It is enough.” (Luke 22:35-38).
What does this mean? We must be careful and keep it within the context of Luke’s account. Some indisputable facts are in order.
- They were sent out in the limited commission and told not to take any possessions (Matthew 10:5-10).
- In terms of the apostles, Judas had the money box (John 13:29).
- Judas stole money from the money box (John 12:6).
- Judas took money to betray Jesus (Matthew 26:14-16).
- The Roman soldiers came with swords, clubs and violence (Luke 22:52-53).
- Peter took up a sword to defend Jesus (John 18:10).
- Peter cut off Malchus’ ear, and Jesus healed him (Luke 22:51).
When swords were used in His defense, what did Jesus say?
“But Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus? ‘” (Matthew 26:52-54).
Later, Jesus told Pilate:
“My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here” (John 18:36).
Concerning Luke 22:36-38, Brother McGarvey writes,
“In this passage our Lord draws a contrast between the favor with which his messengers had been received on their former mission and the trials and persecutions which awaited them in their future course. If they had prepared then to be received with joy, they were to prepare now to be opposed with bitterness; for the utter rejection of the Master would be followed by the violent persecution of the servants. The apostles took the words of Jesus literally, and showed two swords, and the Lord, for their future enlightenment, said, ‘It is enough,’ thus intimating that he did not mean a literal arming with carnal weapons, for had he done so, two swords would not have sufficed for twelve men” [J.W. McGarvey].
Brother Coffman adds these thoughts on Matthew 26:52.
“This place should not be taken as a rejection of the sword’s true place in society, but rather as a recognition on the part of Christ that an ordinary citizen should not resist lawful arrest by constituted authority. Christ did not command Peter to throw his sword away, but to put it in “its place.” In a word, that is Christ’s teaching on the entire subject. Paul described him that beareth the sword as a “minister of God unto thee for good” (Rom_13:4). In this scene there were two swords, that of the civil authority and that of Peter. Christ recognized both the legitimate authority of the first and the potential need and place for the second.”
Jesus was going to submit to His arrest and crucifixion to fulfill all righteousness. Jesus allowed them to bring swords but knew they were unnecessary. It’s clear that Christ’s kingdom is spiritual (Ephesians 6:10-12).
Scripture clearly allows the use of the sword by the proper authorities (Romans 13:4). We also know that God’s people used swords in war for thousands of years.
In Luke 22:36-38, Jesus is contrasting the peaceful success of the limited commission with the impending violence of the persecutions to come. When Jesus denounced the steel sword, it was a powerful moment showing that His mission was greater than they realized.
Following Jesus’ arrest, crucifixion and resurrection, He appeared to them and opened the Scriptures (Luke 24:44-49). Soon thereafter, Jesus ascended to the Father (Acts 1:9-11), and these apostles are changed men. Peter no longer carries a physical sword, but is fearless with the gospel (Acts 4:1-22). His faith is now more mature.
When the same Apostles carried out the Great Commission, they did so with the sword of the Word (Ephesians 6:17) rather than the sword of steel.
We would do well to remember that as we face physical persecutions in the future. God can accomplish all things and heaven is worth the sacrifice if we lose our lives in service to the Lord (Revelation 21:1-4). Taking up physical swords for the faith would be a renunciation of all that Jesus taught.
In R.C. Sproul’s book, Can I Trust the Bible? he discusses the issue of inspiration and whether it was dictation or whether each writer was allowed to express their own personality/writing style.
He summarizes with this:
“We do not know the process by which inspiration was given. But because of inspiration, no matter how God brought it about, every word of Scripture carries the weight of God’s authority.”
1. Do you agree with him?
2. Can we truly know how it was done?
3. What are your views on this issue?
“Progressives Christians love to talk about grace except when they have to extend it to someone who has offended their political reality.” [Maria Dixon].
Sadly, that is true. People on both ends of the political spectrum have their politics tied too closely to their Christianity. BTW, this quote comes from a thoughtful essay by a Southern Black woman on the Paula Deen situation.
America is buzzing over all the announcement that our government is spying on all of us under the guise of fighting terrorism. But that is little consolation to millions of Americans who have always feared this moment.
Anyone who has read George Orwell’s terrifying novel, “1984” has expected this to happen. However, that doesn’t make it any less chilling.
The main focus of this post is simple. For now, they are mining our data to look for terrorists. How long before this is used against Christians?
The government is already engaged as a propaganda machine for the promotion of homosexuality. Activists want to silence everyone who speaks against homosexuality and, if possible, send them to jail.
How long before the government realizes that the full-scale surveillance of Americans allows them to make that happen?
We live in frightening times. For decades, we have been asking when persecution will come to our shores. Well, that is no longer an academic question.
There are some sites that I want to let you know about. Since I have an interest in ancient history, I find these sites exciting. I just need to find the time to read these articles.
The sites are:
The more we learn about the ancient world, the better we will understand the world of the Bible. Here are some articles to be found at these sites:
The Bible is God’s Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17), and we must respect it with great reverence. Paul says that we should “not even think beyond what is written” (1 Corinthians 4:6). When we stand to preach and teach, we must never step outside of God’s Word (1 Peter 4:11).
“Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2).
We should not be afraid of the faces of the doubters and haters (Jeremiah 1:8). We should be fearless as we spread His Word because nothing can stop Christ’s mission (Matthew 16:18).
However, Paul followed up his admonition to “Preach the Word” with the following sobering reminder:
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires,because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
People find preachers who will tell them what they want to hear rather than how they can submit before God in humility. Thanks to the influx of versions of the Bible, people can do the same thing with Scripture. They can find whatever translation that suits them best. Activist groups even make their own Bibles to prove their ideas.
In future people will be able to create their own version of the Bible as multiple interpretations appear online, allowing a different view of the sacred text, according to the country’s leading Biblical scholar.
David Parker, Professor of Theology at the University of Birmingham, said different translations and readings of the Bible, from the 4th Century until now are already available online.
He predicted people will download the versions they like best, perhaps even mixing and matching different readings of the Gospels to suit their tastes and even making annotations.
“In the world we are entering, the concept of the Bible will be completely different,” he said. “It has become like an individual copy you have, you can annotate it and change it within the bounds of technological abilities.”
What will be the implications, both positive and negative, of these technologies?
They can be useful as they allow us to have more information in our hands. And when people have the Word of God, they are blessed. Yet, we cannot forget the warnings of Paul. Anything that can be used for good, will also be used for evil (Ephesians 6:12).
People with itching ears can also have itching eyes, seeking out “versions” that absolve them of sins. Only the blood of Christ can wash away sins (1 John 1:7), and compromise is not the way of God (John 8:44).
What are your thoughts?
When young men go into the ministry, they are ambitious and hopeful. They dream of saving countless souls and inspiring brethren immediately to become passionate and obedient.
However, reality soon sets in, and they learn that working with humans is more complicated than they realized. These aspiring preachers learn some harsh lessons in the meantime and struggle until they gain some experience.
When we embark into a new career, we need copious amounts of guidance, patience and grace until we know what we are doing. With that in mind, here are six lessons that young preachers may not be told in school or when they are in training.
One of our men was teaching Acts 15 on Wednesday night. I noticed something that I wanted to share with you, to get your feedback.
“And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved” (Acts 15:1, NKJV).
“But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved” (Acts 15:1, ESV).
“And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved” (Acts 15:1, KJV).
“And certain men came down from Judaea and taught the brethren, saying, Except ye be circumcised after the custom of Moses, ye cannot be saved” (Acts 15:1, ASV).
“While Paul and Barnabas were at Antioch of Syria, some men from Judea arrived and began to teach the believers[a]: “Unless you are circumcised as required by the law of Moses, you cannot be saved” (Acts 15:1, NLT).
Circumcision was more than custom under the Old Covenant (Genesis 17:7-14; Leviticus 12:3; Joshua 5:2-8; Romans 4:11). And we know that law is much stronger than custom.
To us, custom means something that became common over time like Sunday night worship or a family having pizza on Friday night. Law, however, is something commanded by God. In Acts 15:1, the Judaizing teachers were false teachers but they believed that circumcision was still law.
- Why do you think custom is used in this context?
- Do you see a difference between “law” and “custom.”
- If the word means “habit” or “law,” what clue would translators use to make the determination?