2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2 (NASB)
Despite the fact that the unregenerate refuse to accept what I am about to say as being true, it does not change the fact that it is the truth. The true Christian walk is one of faith that results in faithfulness while the counterfeit or false Christian walk is one of works righteousness that results in a pragmatic form of religious works meant to counter failures of the flesh. The true Christian will be on a path of continual, progressive transformation unto personal holiness and Christlikeness that will result in God using him or her in doing His good works (Ephesians 2:10). On the other hand, the false Christian, not being regenerate, may still be fooled by their religiosity into believing that he or she is on that narrow path. They may even zealously do good works and call that a transformed life, but it is still nothing more than works righteousness. The enemy of men’s souls has produced a counterfeit version of Christian transformation, but it is totally different and only produces temporal fruit while genuine Christian transformation produces fruit that is eternal.
Johnathan Leeman of Ligonier Ministries suggests seven reasons the Christian’s growth should be centered on listening to God’s Word in the context of the local church. He writes:
If spiritual life comes through the Word of God (Isa. 55:10–11; Rom. 10:17; James 1:21; 1 Peter 1:23), why not skip church with all its hassles and just devote yourself to studying the Bible? Think of the time you would save, not to mention the relational trouble.
Or, better, why not download the three best podcast preachers every week and listen to them? Chances are that they are better preachers than old Pastor Bob down the street anyway. Can I get an “Amen”?
I suspect most Christians would have a vague sense that there is something wrong with this counsel. But the fact that we expect so little from our preachers in terms of biblical exposition, the fact that precious few seconds are devoted to actually reading the Bible in our weekly gatherings, the fact that we give scarcely a thought to not staying up late Saturday night so that we’re not drifting off in the middle of Sunday’s sermon all suggest that we don’t really apprehend the tight link between listening to the Word in church and our individual and corporate growth as Christians.
Your wrath lies hard upon me, and You have afflicted me with all Your waves. (Psalm 88:7)
I have often marveled at the strange comfort persons offer you when they say, “Ah, there are others who suffer more than you do.” Am I a demon, then? Am I expected to rejoice at the news of other people’s miseries? Far otherwise! I am pained to think there should be sharper smarts than mine, and my sympathy increases my own woe! I can conceive of a fiend in torment finding solace in the belief that others are tortured with a yet fiercer flame, but surely such diabolical comfort should not be offered to Christians!
It shows our deep depravity of heart, that we can extract comfort out of the miseries of others, and yet I am afraid we rightly judge human nature when we offer it water from that putrid well! There is, however, a form of comfort akin to it, but of far more legitimate origin—a consolation honorable and Divine. There was ONE upon whom God’s Wrath pressed very sorely. There was ONE who was, in truth, afflicted with all God’s waves! That One is our Brother, a Man like ourselves, the dearest lover of our souls, and because He has known and suffered all this, He can sympathize with us this morning, in whatever tribulation may beat upon us!
Bible study author, speaker and blogger Michelle Lesley weighs in on the recent controversy that arose when the announcement came that the president of evangelical apologetics ministry Christian Research Institute (CRI), founded by the late Dr. Walter Martin, had been chrismated into the apostate Greek Orthodox Church. Lesley writes:
Hank Hanegraaff, the Bible Answer Man. If you hadn’t heard of him before, you probably have by now. President of the Christian Research Institute, author of over twenty books, and host of the popular Bible Answer Man radio call in show, Hanegraaff has been highly regarded in the field of apologetics for years.
Until recently, that is, when he publicly announced that he had been chrismated into the Greek Orthodox church he had been attending for about two years.
Why? Because the Greek Orthodox church holds many beliefs which conflict with Scripture in much the same way, and on some of the same issues, the Roman Catholic church’s beliefs conflict with Scripture.
Researcher Barry Bowen informs us that the Federal Government is showing a new willingness to investigate religious fraud, starting with Word of Faith prosperity preacher Benny Hinn. Here’s Bowen’s report:
For two straight days IRS investigators and postal inspectors have been carting away boxes of possible evidence of fraud from televangelist Benny Hinn’s headquarters in Grapevine, Texas.
Local Dallas media have pounced on the news story with reporters tweeting the latest sparse details.
Dallas Morning News: IRS investigators search televangelist Benny Hinn’s offices in Grapevine
WFAA: IRS raids televangelist Benny Hinn’s office in Grapevine
Here are five points worth thinking about regarding the Hinn story.
The IRS is showing a new willingness to investigate religious financial fraud.
The IRS and other federal agencies rarely investigated religious fraud during the Obama administration. In fact, the last time a televangelist was prosecuted by the IRS occurred during George W. Bush’s presidency. Mac Hammond’s case was thrown out by the courts in November 2008 and the Obama administration failed to adopt new guidelines for church audits or to investigate numerous allegations of fraud uncovered by religious watchdog Trinity Foundation.
1 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:1-3 (NASB)
While the most common accusation against my friends at CRN is that their expositions cause disunity amongst the brethren, the call from the Word of God is not unity at all costs, but unity within the Body of Christ in the Spirit in the bond of peace. The key to having unity among Christians is not that all claim to be Christians, but that the Holy Spirit bestows oneness within all true believers through which He creates a bond of peace that is godly love for one another.
Dr. Manny Alvarez warns that going without dairy is a really big deal. “According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation,” says Dr. Manny, “osteoporosis affects over 200 million women across the globe, and the foundation expects this number to increase over 200 percent during the next 30 years. LifeZette has the story:
Women are expert multi-taskers, so it should come as no surprise that some manage to squeeze the latest health craze into their daily routine. However, not having time to carefully research the pros and cons of these trends could be dangerous. Take, for example, the decision to live dairy-free.
Dairy-free diets have turned into a familiar fad in the United States. One survey by the National Osteoporosis Society found that one-fifth of young adults under age 25 have removed or trimmed their dairy intake. Over half of these young adults claim to have a dairy intolerance, but only 24 percent have actually confirmed it with a doctor.
According to Steve McConkey, president of 4 Winds Christian Athletics, Bruce “Caitlyn” Jenner neglected to tell Fox News host Tucker Carlson during an interview that hormones do not reverse the size of bone and muscles which gives male athletes a clear advantage over female athletes. “So a retired 6-10 NBA male player can play women’s basketball at the Olympics without a reduction in size, only a year of hormone therapy,” says McConkey. Following is an excerpt of the interview from a piece he penned for Canada Free Press:
Carlson: “A transgender woman just won a major weightlifting title. Some people said, well, this is someone who has a massive physical advantage over the other entrants in that contest. It seemed like a real thing to me.”
Jenner: “The Olympic Committee is way ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to dealing with identifying transgender issues in competing. Back when I was competing in the 70s, all the women had saliva tests to make sure their in their DNA they were female. We had the East German women and the Soviet women and all that kind of stuff. Well, since then, there has been a lot of gender non-conforming. We don’t quite know where they fit into the athletic world. And the Olympic Committee has done 20 years of studies on issues of hormone levels of whether you need gender confirmation surgery, what can you do as a trans person to be able to compete as your authentic self. And they’ve come up with guidelines. If you meet those guidelines, you can compete. And obviously this woman did.”
Carlson: “Do you think it’s fair?”
Jenner: “Yes, I think it’s totally fair. If the Olympic Committee thinks it’s fair, I’m fine with it. Yes, because there’s no big advantage.”
4 “I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. 5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him! 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God. 7 Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows. Luke 12:4-7 (NASB)
We are told not to fear earthly things or other people no matter how evil or violent they are. However, we are told to fear God. Much of the fear Christians have, however, is not based in their fear of God, but in the fear of their own failures being exposed or their own spiritual deficiencies being exploited by the devil’s seed. Of course some of that fear comes from the spirit of fear that dominates some Christians. When we are obedient in telling the truth in the face of those who hate the truth and love the darkness, our enemy attacks us with things like fear. God creates these points of contention and everyone who reads what we write or hears what we preach or teach are brought to that point. How they respond to these truths is of eternal consequence. Many respond in anger and unbelief. Many respond in repentance and faith by obeying the truth. How should we respond when the fear grows and we see that our obedience will certainly bring conflict?
Byron York of Washington Examiner evaluates Donald Trump’s successes and failures in his first 100 days in office:
Of course Donald Trump over-promised for his first 100 days. What presidential candidate hasn’t?
During last year’s campaign, Trump spoke frequently of all the things he would do almost immediately upon entering the Oval Office. He’d repeal Obamacare, reform the tax code, destroy ISIS, build a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border, fix the nation’s roads and bridges, take care of veterans, deport criminal illegal immigrants, and much, much more.
By the last weeks of the campaign, Trump actually dialed back some of his promises. On October 22, he traveled to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to announce his “Contract with the American Voter,” which formalized his pledges for the first 100 days.
“Technocrats build because they can, not because it is wise to do so.” — Technocracy News
According to TechCrunch:
Today at F8, Facebook revealed it has a team of 60 engineers working on building a brain-computer interface that will let you type with just your mind without invasive implants. The team plans to use optical imaging to scan your brain a hundred times per second to detect you speaking silently in your head, and translate it into text.
Regina Dugan, the head of Facebook’s R&D division Building 8, explained to conference attendees that the goal is to eventually allow people to type at 100 words per minute, 5X faster than typing on a phone, with just your mind.
14 Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14 (NASB)
Are we to accept the profession of faith from everyone who claims to be a Christian? This is a hot button issue in our time. I know of several people who once fellowshipped here at Possessing The Treasure who no longer do because they are convinced that it is wrong to rebuke and contend with those who profess faith in Christ, but whose fruit shows otherwise. What about this fruit? Is it an indication of the veracity of one’s faith? According to Hebrews 12:14 we see that only those who possess holiness will see the Lord. This is a way of saying that those who will see the Lord, those who are truly saved, will possess some degree of personal holiness.
According to a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints governing body, baptizing the dead “saves not just the dead; it saves all of us.” These are “proxy baptisms” and Mormons do them on behalf of the dead. In The Briefing, Albert Mohler points out that “No historic Christian church has ever observed the baptism on behalf of the dead. But it does make perfect sense in Mormonism, where spirits are created beings, God himself is a created being, where God is, spirit beings may one day be, and where very clearly there is the opportunity for those on the other side of death to embrace their own Mormon baptism and thus to receive the blessings the church teaches come along with that baptism.”
Now to TIME magazine’s report:
Mormon leaders reminded church members Saturday about the importance of performing ceremonial baptisms on dead ancestors who didn’t receive the ordinance while alive.
Henry Eyring told a worldwide audience during a twice-yearly Mormon conference that God wants all his children to come “home again.” He encouraged listeners to use the religion’s massive genealogical database to trace their roots.
Ceremonial baptisms occur when a member brings an ancestor’s name to a temple. Mormons believe the ritual allows deceased people a way to the afterlife if they choose to accept it. The belief that families are sealed for eternity is one of the faith’s core tenets.
See our Research Paper on Mormonism
14 Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? 2 Corinthians 6:14-15 (NASB)
Contrary to what most believe about Christianity, what one’s own framework is of their conception of salvation and having fellowship with Jesus Christ is irrelevant. Unless this ‘understanding’ is totally submitted to the Word of God and the authority of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit then it will be according to the counsel of the individual’s own conscience. This counsel is according to the value system of the individual not according to what God has revealed. It creates its own image of God and holds that image accountable to the individual’s value system.
According to the University Herald:
The rapid growth of technology has transformed many aspects of day-to-day life, including social behavior. Liberty University launched the nation’s first Center for Digital Wellness to promote a healthy use and biblical view of technology.
Dr. Sylvia Hart Frejd, founder of the Center for Digital Wellness, housed in a Wi-Fi-proof room at Liberty University. It is part of her mission to help students balance tech time and face time, to train their eye on fellow humans instead of smart screens.
Dr. Frejd promotes 24-hour digital fasting and counseling for students and how to thrive in real life, not just in their digital lives. She said students would first need to overcome the fear of a real conversation.
Does the Christian need additional revelations, visions, words of prophecy, or insights from modern psychology? Some people think so. No, says Amy Spreeman of Berean Research. Scripture is sufficient. She explains why:
Did you know that the Bible is all we need to equip us for a life of faith and service? It’s true! And in fact the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture is a fundamental tenet of the Christian faith. Sadly, it’s a tenet that has long been under viscous attack from within our own visible, modern churches.
But be assured that no other writings are needed for the Gospel to be understood, nor are any other writings required to equip us for a life of faith. Everything else – entertainment, extra-biblical revelations, mysticism, spiritual deliverance ministries and some forms of psychological counseling all declare that the Bible and its precepts are not enough. But Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me” (John 10:27). His voice is found in every word of the Word; the Scriptures are His voice, completely and utterly sufficient.
Consider 2 Timothy 3:15–17:
The bastion of liberalism, Harvard University, wants students to believe that a person’s gender is “fluid.” Fox News Insider has the story:
The office of BGLTQ Student Life at Harvard University has released a guide that says for some people, gender identity can “change from day to day.”
The school-sponsored flier, which was distributed to students on the elite Ivy League campus, said for some “gender is fluid and changing,” and it “can be affirmed and/or expressed in many ways.”
What R.C. Sproul discusses in the following video has been heavy on my heart over that last several months. I have Facebook friends who really need to grasp what he says here. For the rest of us, rejoice!
Soli Deo Gloria!