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Thousands of Muslims reportedly turning to Christ in Middle East

Scores of Muslims Turning to Christ in Middle East; Churches Expecting ‘Millions’ of Converts

Thousands of Muslims are turning to Jesus Christ and what they view as the “religion of freedom” amid ongoing bloodshed in the Middle East, reports indicate. Some churches hope that millions of people will accept Christ amid a “spiritual hunger” that is forming in the wake of persecution.

Voice Of the Martyrs Canada, which supports Christian radio broadcasts in the region, told BosNewsLife that despite the mass exodus of Christians from Iraq and Syria due to terrorism, persecution, and war, scores of Muslims are making the decision to embrace Christianity.

“There are thousands upon thousands coming to Christ,” VOMC revealed. “We are in regular contact with our FM stations in Iraq and have talked with many people who have family in the Middle East.”

“Some of our Middle Eastern broadcasters have shared testimonies [about many turning to Christ] with us, which they hear directly from listeners when visiting there …”

In Iran, Christian house churches are regularly targeted and shut down by the nation’s Islamic government. Despite this persecution, mission group Elam Ministries revealed that Christians have been growing in terms of numbers, and today estimates suggest there are 360,000 believers in Iran – up from only 500 in 1979.

“Church leaders believe that millions can be added to the church in the next few years — such is the spiritual hunger that exists and the disillusionment with the Islamic regime,” Elam Ministries stated.

“If we remain faithful to our calling, our conviction is that it is possible to see the nation transformed within our lifetime. Because Iran is a strategic gateway nation, the growing church in Iran will impact Muslim nations across the Islamic world.”

Muslim refugees in Europe have also reportedly been undergoing mass conversions of faith. A June 2016 article from The Guardian noted anecdotal data of rising Christian church attendance in Europe by Muslims.

Trinity church in the Berlin suburb of Steglitz, for instance, saw its congregation rise from 150 to 700 due to new Muslim converts, while the Austrian Catholic Church saw its applications for adult baptism swell by nearly 70 percent in the first three months of 2016.

“I found that the history of Islam was completely different from what we were taught at school. Maybe, I thought, it was a religion that began with violence,” an Iranian convert, 32-year-old Johannes, said.

“A religion that began with violence cannot lead people to freedom and love. Jesus Christ said ‘those who use the sword will die by the sword.’ This really changed my mind,” he added.

Iraqi Christians attend a mass on Christmas at St. Joseph Chaldean church in Baghdad, Iraq December 25, 2016

Iraqi Christians attend a mass on Christmas at St. Joseph Chaldean church in Baghdad, Iraq December 25, 2016

More churches in Germany reported this growing phenomena in December 2016, with The Independent noting that Muslims, especially Iranians, are seeing Christianity as a new chance at freedom.

“A lot of them come to Germany and think, here I can choose my religion and I want to choose a religion of freedom,” said Matthias Linke, a priest from the Evangelical-Freikirchlichen Gemeinde in Berlin.

“For many Iranians that I’ve baptized, Christianity is the religion of freedom.”

If your reading this you can find Christ right now as well, Salvation is waiting for you too, in the arms of Christ you can find freedom!

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HERE IT COMES: Republican Senators Launch Bill To Move US Embassy To Jerusalem As Trump Promised

Senate Republicans introduced a bill Tuesday to recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel and move the United States embassy to Jerusalem.

“Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.”Zechariah 9:2,3 (KJV)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Over a year ago, I wrote an article explaining why a Bible believer would vote for Donald Trump for president. I told you all back then that the number one reason he got my vote was so the US Embassy would be moved to Jerusalem, thus recognizing the Old City as Israel’s capital. I also told you that it could very well trigger the Psalm 83 War. We are about to witness the single, largest advancement of the end times prophecy timeline since May 14, 1948. I’m so happy and excited I could literally cry. Jerusalem is the capital city of God’s holy land of Israel, and always will be.

The controversial plan, which President-elect Donald Trump repeatedly voiced support for on the campaign trail, is almost certain to further inflame tensions between Palestinians and Israelis. The bill was introduced on the first day of the new US Congress by Nevada Sen. Dean Heller, along with Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas — two senators who lost out to Trump in the primary race for the Republican nomination last year.

“Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish state of Israel, and that’s where America’s embassy belongs,” Rubio said in a joint statement announcing the bill.

“It’s time for Congress and the President-elect to eliminate the loophole that has allowed presidents in both parties to ignore US law and delay our embassy’s rightful relocation to Jerusalem for over two decades.”

Cruz added: “Unfortunately, the Obama administration’s vendetta against the Jewish state has been so vicious that to even utter this simple truth — let alone the reality that Jerusalem is the appropriate venue for the American embassy in Israel — is shocking in some circles.”

Bible study on Donald Trump and the final status of Jerusalem:

The bill, called the “Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act,” requires the US to act on a 1995 proposal calling on the US to relocate the diplomatic mission from Tel Aviv.

Since the 1995 bill’s passage, every president — both Republican and Democrat — has waived the requirement of the move, citing national security considerations.

Jerusalem has always been among the most difficult questions in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Even after the world recognized the State of Israel in 1948, it left the final status of Jerusalem — home to some of the most sacred sites in Judaism, Islam, and Christianity — open to future negotiations.

David Friedman US ambassador to IsraelIsraelis see Jerusalem as their united capital. Palestinians see East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. Trump has said he’d like to try making peace between Israelis and Palestinians, but he’s also vowed to relocate the embassy and recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s official capital — moves Palestinian leaders have denounced as the death of the “two-state” solution.

Trump’s pick for ambassador to Israel — David Friedman, a New York lawyer and Orthodox Jew — is another signal the President-elect is willing to upend decades of US policy in the Middle East.

Friedman, known for his hardline views, has called the effort to find a two-state solution an “illusion” and said he welcomed moving the embassy. Friedman has also argued that Israeli settlement construction in Palestinian areas shouldn’t be illegal — a position that puts him at odds with the outgoing Obama administration and much of the international community.

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Christians Need To Stop Being So Naive About Muslim Immigration

We don’t normally do this, but I was reading a well written piece from a woman that is very relevant for today and we wanted to share it with you! 

Here it is;

Many Christians have been lulled into a childish view of the world and think that deep down Muslims are not too different from them.

Wendy Wilson

By Wendy Wilson

Soon after the November attack at Ohio State University, we learned the Somali Muslim perpetrator had been welcomed to the United States as a refugee by Catholic Charities of Dallas. This bit of news caught my attention because years ago I worked there for a brief time.

In the early 1990s after graduating from college, I served there for a year as part of a volunteer stipend program, helping immigrants caught here illegally prepare their cases for immigration court. My roommates worked on the refugee resettlement side, helping newly arrived families with refugee status.

I’ve continued to be fascinated with immigration and looked for ways to be helpful. It’s what drew me to teaching English to immigrant students. But my perspective widened and concerns grew as I learned more about our porous borders and problems throughout the West with assimilation, and as I witnessed the growing influence of a warped multiculturalism that convinces many to quash any uneasiness about newcomers, no matter how reasonable. In voicing my concerns, I’ve been slammed by other Christians who’ve called me ignorant and uncaring.

Although I worked for Catholic Charities, I’m a lifelong Protestant. I was raised Lutheran and for many years now have attended conservative Presbyterian churches. Multiculturalism long ago began to muscle its way into mainline Protestant churches but is now running amok in conservative churches, too, with many Christians fearful of being called a bigot for criticizing other traditions and beliefs.

While those in mainline churches tout diversity in a way that differs little from those outside the church, more devout Christians have adopted multiculturalism as a way to better evangelize. Emotion and sentiment have taken over reason, leaving people without the resources to sufficiently analyze threats to our culture and safety, and in some cases, even a diminished interest in doing so. The more pious shame others for their concerns, saying sacrifice and saving souls should come way before worries about ensuring America’s survival as a strong nation.

Many Evangelicals Don’t Seem to Get It

Trump did well among evangelicals in winning the presidency. Many conservative Christians cited Supreme Court picks as the top reason they were voting for him despite his personal moral failings. It’s far from clear that Christians en masse would fully support proposals to seriously restrict Muslim immigration, especially once they face the wrath of activists and journalists more determined than ever to smear them as racists. Also, there’s a strong movement among intellectual evangelicals to embrace Muslim immigration.

In December 2015, more than 100 evangelical leaders met at Wheaton College to discuss how Christians should respond to the migrant crisis that began early that year. They released a statement that gave only passing mention to security concerns while focusing primarily on telling Christians not to be fearful.

“We will not be motivated by fear but by love for God and others…We cannot allow voices of fear to dominate,” the statement read. But rational fear is a healthy thing. It serves to protect, and in protecting, shows love. The Bible has plenty of examples of God’s people taking measures to protect their communities. There’s no reason to fear every single Muslim we meet, but in looking at the bigger picture, there are perfectly valid reasons to fear the violence and political and cultural change a growing Muslim population can bring.

Some of my devout Christian friends insist we shouldn’t speak out much about atrocities Muslims have committed because if we do, Muslims won’t be open to hearing the gospel from us. Neither, they say, should we voice too many criticisms about religious differences that might upset them. But how can there be any hope of having a functioning multicultural society if there are taboos against criticizing traditions that aren’t your own? This misguided quest to be nice and welcoming creates space for the strong-armed to run over the weak, the very type of scenario you would think Christians concerned about justice would care about.

Muslims Aren’t Just Another Denomination

I’ve also heard Christians point to successful assimilation of immigrants in years past as proof that waves of Muslim immigration will work out just fine, too. When migrants began pouring into Europe, my friends shared stories of their ancestors arriving at Ellis Island, as if there are few differences between what happened then and what’s happening now. I recently got into a discussion with a Baptist pastor who says we shouldn’t worry since competing Protestant sects as well as Catholics were eventually accepted into the mainstream of American life.

It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around how my educated friends and educated church leaders can’t see that differences between Islam and Christianity are profoundly greater than differences between various Christian groups. Have they not read the history of Islamic conquest? Can they not observe the differences in today’s world between countries dominated by Islam and Western countries founded on Christian and Enlightenment values? Are they not aware of the widespread problems with migrants assaulting women in Germany, one of the latest victims being the daughter of a European official, who was raped and drowned? Have they not heard about the sharia law courts Muslim immigrants have created in England and the schools where Muslim children are taught barbaric practices?

Last year, I joined a class at my church sponsored by the Crescent Project, a Christian ministry founded to share the gospel with Muslims globally. In some respects, it’s an organization I’m happy to support. Their efforts seem sincere and helpful in prodding Christians with little previous intercultural experience to step outside their comfort zones. Yet it’s also one of those programs that leads to some Christians becoming so filled with zeal, they develop tunnel vision.

One woman in my class said she used to be afraid when she saw a Muslim at the grocery store, but now, thanks to the class, believes it’s God’s will for Muslims to come to the United States so we can witness to them. I’ve heard this idea expressed elsewhere as well, sometimes with great enthusiasm. God is blessing us, the thinking goes, by bringing Muslims here so we don’t have to travel abroad to reach them.

However, this turns previous concepts of missionary work on their heads. Missions used to be primarily about assuming risks for yourself and perhaps your family as you ventured into unsafe terrain. By endorsing growing rates of Muslim immigration into the United States, Christians are insisting that their neighbors here assume the risks too, all for the convenience of their evangelism programs.

Such rosy pictures can likely be traced partly to the fact that even in many conservative churches today, pastors shy away from discussing evil and the reality that there are people in this world seeking to deceive and destroy. We’ve been marinating in a theology that focuses excessively on grace and inner peace to the exclusion of other parts of the Bible that tell us evil is always on the march.

Both the Old and New Testaments make frequent use of words such as battle, soldier, and warfare in both the literal sense and in a metaphorical spiritual sense. But you will be hard-pressed to hear those words in sermons today. Many Christians have been lulled into a childish view of the world and think that deep down everyone is not too different from them. But history and the contemporary world should show us that fundamentalist Islam is radically different from the beliefs of Christians and other Americans. If we don’t fully wake up to this reality, we will pay a heavier price for our delusions than we already have. source

About Wendy: Wendy Wilson is a teacher and writer in Nashville. She has taught in public schools for more than 10 years. From August 2013 to May 2016, she worked at a high school in Nashville that’s one of the most diverse in the South with hundreds of immigrant and refugee students. Before becoming a teacher, she was a newspaper reporter. She has a master’s degree in intercultural studies from Union University in Jackson, Tennessee.
IMMIGRATIONWe’re sharing one reply to her post: Before Islam, the Middle East was the center of civilization and learning. It was renown for literature, science, technology, and so forth. Since Islam became a prominent religion of the area, the Middle East has remained stuck in the 7th century and if it wasn’t for the discovery of oil there then the Middle East would have remained that way to this day.
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Apologists can talk all they want about how great and peaceful Islam is, but history shows us how Islam has not allowed their societies to progress past the 7th century. Islam is a primary reason why there are few, if any, democratic governments in the Middle East with almost all being autocratically ruled. Likewise, history shows us how Islam has been at war with the rest of the world since Muhammad created Islam (with two lulls – one being the Crusades and the other being the early to mid 20th century). If you want further evidence than simply look at Islam’s holy books and you discover that the only true way to attain paradise is to die fighting against the infidels. You also learn the rules for who you can rape after conquering a village, how to treat your captives, how to treat your slaves, and so forth. In fact, Islam is the only religion where if you try to convert from it to any other religion then it is deemed that you need to die, period. Likewise, of you are conquered by Muslims, then you are given a choice (once again characteristic of only Islam) of either converting to Islam, living as a second class citizen (complete with paying protection money, living by special dehumanizing law, and so forth), or dying.
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We are currently facing two enormous difficulties in the West. The first is that we cannot seem to fathom what Islam is really all about. Somehow many in the West want to believe it is some sort of peaceful, beautiful religion when it is not. The other difficulty is that Westerners cannot seem to understand that Muslims think differently than Westerners and have a completely different set of values (with many of those values being the antithesis of those we have in the West). The greatest folly of all is being committed by those who viewed immigration of Europeans into America as being the model we should use for allowing Muslims to immigrate into Western countries. The reason this is folly is that it is believed that these Muslim immigrants will become Westernized, obtain jobs, and seek the good life when it is abundantly clear that a huge number will not preferring instead to try and force Middle Eastern thinking, values, laws, and even government onto those living where the Muslims have immigrated to. What is so astounding about all of this is how so many of our “leaders” cannot see the obvious and even resort to trying to hide the failures of Muslim immigration thinking that if we do not talk about it then the problems associated with it will go away. These “leaders” cannot see how the chaos that has stopped the civilizations of the Middle East is being imported and that once it gains a toehold here, then civilization advances here will also cease and we shall decline as has the Middle East. We are doing nothing less than importing our own demise.

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Are There Modern Day Apostles

The incredible diversity of viewpoint that exists in religion today is startling and disconcerting. We are witnessing a breakdown of respect for authority in American culture, as well as a tremendous increase in personal opinion and feelings as the standard of authority. Consequently, we now have a veritable smorgasbord of doctrinal variety in religion. Such is the nature of pluralism. One is likely to see anything and everything perpetrated in the name of religion and/or Christianity. The only solution to such a situation is to reaffirm the inspiration and authority of the Bible. The Bible is the only written document on this planet that is the standard of authority in life and in religion (see Miller, 1996, pp. 430-446,462-471).

THE DEFINITION OF AN APOSTLE

Such being the case, we must go to the Bible to determine God’s will with regard to modern-day apostles. When we do so, we first learn that the word “apostle” comes from the Greek word apostolos, which means “one sent from or forth, a messenger, delegate” (Arndt and Gingrich, 1957, p. 99; Thayer, 1901, p. 68). The term is used in the New Testament in two distinct senses. It can refer to an individual who is sent by other humans to accomplish a particular mission or task. The term is so used to refer, for example, to Barnabas (Acts 14:14). He was an “apostle” in the sense that he accompanied Paul on an evangelistic trip. Jesus is said to be our “Apostle” in the sense that He was sent to atone for our sins (Hebrews 3:1).

The term “apostle” also is used in a second sense—what we might call an official sense. That is, “apostle” can refer to individuals who were officially and divinely selected to serve as Jesus’ original representatives—“ambassadors” (2 Corinthians 5:20). Jesus handpicked the original twelve apostles (Matthew 10:1-5; Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:12-16; 9:1-2). Of these original twelve, Judas betrayed the Lord as predicted by the Old Testament (Psalm 41:9; John 13:18-19; 18:1-5). Instead of repenting, he cinched his apostasy by committing suicide (Matthew 27:3-5; John 17:12). Consequently, a successor to Judas was selected by divine decree (Acts 1:16-26).

Only one other apostle in the official sense is alluded to in the New Testament—Paul. His appointment to apostleship was unique and unparalleled in that he was chosen for a specific first century task (Acts 9:15; 22:14-15; 26:16-18; 1 Corinthians 15:8-9; Galatians 1:11-12,15-16). Christ selected him to introduce the message of Christianity to the Gentile world (Romans 11:13; 15:16; Galatians 2:8; Ephesians 3:8). Paul was careful to document the fact that his apostleship was by divine appointment (e.g., Romans 1:5; 1 Corinthians 1:1; Galatians 1:1,16).

THE QUALIFICATIONS OF AN APOSTLE

When one assembles all the relevant New Testament data, at least three qualifications emerge as prerequisite to one becoming an apostle in the official sense (Hayden, 1894, p. 33, expands these credentials to seven in number). First, an apostle had to have seen the Lord and been an eyewitness of Christ’s resurrection (Acts 1:22; 22:14; 1 Corinthians 9:1). Second, an apostle had to be specifically selected by the Lord or the Holy Spirit (Matthew 10:5; Mark 3:13-14; Luke 6:13; Acts 1:26; 9:15; 22:14-15,21; 26:16). Third, an apostle was invested with miraculous power to the extent that he could perform miracles. The power to perform miracles included the capability to confer the ability to work miracles to other individuals through the laying on of his hands (Mark 3:15; 16:17-20; Luke 9:1-2; John 14:12,26; 15:24-27; 16:13; Acts 2:43; 4:29-31,33; 5:12,15-16; 6:6; 8:14-18; 19:6; 2 Timothy 1:6; Romans 1:11; Hebrews 2:3-4). Jesus referred to His bestowal of miraculous capability upon the apostles when He promised they would be “endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49).

THE WORK OF AN APOSTLE

The apostolic office was unquestionably a temporary office for the early church (though apostolic appointment was for life). Its essential purpose was twofold. First, apostles were commissioned by Jesus to launch the Christian religion (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:46-48). This purpose was achieved by means of the initial presentation of the Gospel to the whole world (Colossians 1:23), and the establishment of the church of Christ (Acts 2). Second, apostles were largely responsible for making the New Testament available—first in oral form and, more specifically, in written form (1 Corinthians 14:37; Galatians 1:12; Ephesians 3:3-4; 1 Thessalonians 5:27; 2 Thessalonians 2:15; 3:14; 1 Peter 1:12; 2 Peter 1:12-21; 3:15-16).

These two central tasks are set forth clearly in the New Testament. In Matthew 16, Jesus declared that He would build His church after His resurrection from hades (vs. 18). He then explained that it would be the apostles who would instigate initial entrance into Christ’s church (hence the significance of “keys”—vs. 19). This commencement of the Christian religion and the church of Christ would be achieved by means of the apostles “binding” and “loosing” the doctrinal tenets and principles of Christianity that Heaven had previously bound or loosed [the Greek uses the perfect passive and should be translated “will have been bound/loosed in Heaven” as in the NASB (cf. Matthew 18:18-20; John 20:22-23)]. Peter and the apostles articulated the terms of entrance into the kingdom of Christ for the first time on the Pentecost that followed Christ’s resurrection (Acts 2:14ff.).

In Ephesians 4, after summarizing Christianity in terms of seven core concepts (vss. 1-6), Paul described the initial sequence of events that recounted the advent of Christianity (vss. 7-16). Paul noted that: (1) after His crucifixion, Jesus descended into the Hadean realm; (2) He then was resurrected; (3) He ascended back to Heaven; (4) upon His ascension, He dispensed gifts; (5) the apostolic office was included in the reception of these miraculous capabilities; (6) the purpose of these gifts was to equip and edify the church; (7) the preparation provided to the infant church by these gifts was temporary (“till” is an adverb of time connoting when the miraculous gifts were to terminate), in that the same preparation soon would be available through the completed revelation, i.e., “the faith.” [By “completed revelation” we do not mean completed canon. We mean that all of God’s communication to humanity would have been revealed. See the New Testament discussion contrasting “mystery” with “made known” (Romans 16:25-26; 1 Corinthians 2:7-10; Ephesians 3:1-11). In the meantime, the process of producing copies of the various New Testament documents and circulating them far and wide would have been occurring rapidly and extensively from the very moment of their production by the inspired writers (cf. Colossians 4:16, 1 Timothy 5:18, where Luke 10:7 is already known and classified as “Scripture,” and 2 Peter 3:15-16, where Paul’s epistles are already circulated and recognized as “Scriptures”). Further, the reference to “the faith” in Ephesians 4:13 cannot refer to a time when all people or all Christians will achieve unity in faith. Such a circumstance will never occur. Paul was referring to the time when all people would have access to all of God’s communication to man, thus giving them the potential for attaining spiritual maturity (“a perfect man” vs. “children“). SeeMiller, 2003].

Once all of the information necessary to the promotion of the Christian religion was revealed to the early church (through oral means made possible by the distribution of the gifts), the church would have the means available to grow and mature in Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:8-13). While prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers [the words “pastors and teachers” share the same article in the Greek, and so should likely be construed to mean “pastor-teachers,” i.e., a single function in which pastors (those selected by the local congregation to serve as elders or shepherds) were endowed with the miraculous ability to teach inspired information not yet made available in written form] were part of this early development of Christianity (Ephesians 4:11), the office of an apostle was the primary means by which Christ accomplished the inauguration of His religion.

The apostles had the sole responsibility of executing the will of the Son of God in founding, organizing, and fully equipping the church of Christ on Earth, that she might fulfill her heaven-borne mission, until Jesus comes again (Hayden, p. 22). That is why Paul could say two chapters earlier that the household of God (i.e., the church) was built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets (Ephesians 2:20; cf. 3:5; Revelation 21:14). That is why he informed the Corinthian Christians:

God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? (1 Corinthians 12:28-30).

The apostles are said to be “first” in the significance and criticality of their divinely appointed role. The apostles specifically described their unique role in the early church as entailing giving themselves to “the word of God” and “the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:2,4).

THE DURATION OF AN APOSTLE

Once the church of Christ was established and Christianity was given its initial presentation (cf. Colossians 1:23), the apostolic office faded from the scene along with the age of miracles. As an eyewitness of Christ’s resurrection, Paul referred to himself in relation to the other apostles as “last of all” (1 Corinthians 15:8). Neither apostles nor miraculous gifts was needed any longer. They had served their temporary purpose (Mark 16:20; Acts 4:29-31; 13:12; 14:3; Romans 15:18-19; Hebrews 2:3-4; cf. Exodus 4:30). Miraculous gifts functioned as scaffolding while the church was under initial construction, and were removed once the structure had been completed (1 Corinthians 3:10; 13:11; Ephesians 4:13-14). The book we call the Bible is the totality of God’s written revelation to the human race. Consequently, people now have access to everything they need (2 Peter 1:3) to enter into a right relationship with God via Christianity and the church of Christ. The apostles “had no official successors. From the nature of their duties, there could be no succession” (Hayden, pp. 20-21). Apostles, quite simply, are no longer needed!

NO APOSTLES TODAY

Unfortunately, several groups that claim affiliation with the Christian religion allege to have apostles among them, including Catholicism, Mormonism, and some pentecostal groups. This claim is unbiblical. No person living today can meet the qualifications given in Scripture for being an apostle. No one living today has been an eyewitness of Christ’s resurrection. Christ has selected no one living today for the apostolic role. No one living today possesses the miraculous capabilities of an apostle. We should not be surprised that people would falsely claim to be apostles. Jesus warned that false prophets would come in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they would be ravening wolves (Matthew 7:15). Paul described some of his opponents in these words:

For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).

Further warning was issued to the Galatian churches: “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8). Anyone claiming to be an apostle today who teaches anything in addition to the New Testament is clearly not an apostle of Christ!

Peter added his voice on the same subject: “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction” (2 Peter 2:1). No wonder John admonished: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1; cf. Matthew 24:11,24). In the Revelation, the church at Ephesus was commended because they “tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars” (Revelation 2:2).

Catholicism maintains that Peter was the supreme bishop, even over the other apostles, and that every pope since Peter is an apostolic successor to Peter. The pope is selected after literally hours and days of deliberation by cardinals in the Vatican. The only apostle in the Bible that was not handpicked by Christ in person was Matthias. Yet he was not selected by mere men deliberating and debating his potential. He was selected by the casting of lots—which was simply another way for Jesus to do the selecting (Acts 1:26; cf. Proverbs 16:33).

It is incredible to think that any human beings living today would presume to appoint apostles. In pinpointing the credentials of an apostle, Luke (Acts 1) made it abundantly evident that to qualify as an apostle a person would have to have seen the Lord and been aneyewitness of His resurrection. That is why Paul was careful to state: “Am I not an apostle? …Have I not seen the Lord?” (1 Corinthians 9:1, emp. added). In recounting his conversion, he quoted Ananias as having said, “The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth. For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard” (Acts 22:14-15, emp. added). What alleged modern-day apostle could make such a claim?

The New Testament also makes clear the fact that an essential characteristic of an apostle was that he had been selected by Deity. When Jesus was on Earth, He handpicked the first twelve apostles. After His departure from Earth, the disciples cast lots to select a successor to Judas. Their method allowed no input from mere humans—except in the recognition that two men possessed all the qualifications necessary to be an apostle. Casting lots allowedGod to do the selecting. Divine control in the selection process by casting lots was common in Old Testament history (see Leviticus 16:8; Numbers 26:55; 33:54; 34:13; Joshua 14:2; 18:6,10; 19:51; cf. Acts 13:19; 1 Samuel 14:42; Nehemiah 10:34; Psalm 16:5). Solomon claimed: “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord” (Proverbs 16:33). Indeed, Peter’s prayer on the occasion shows that the decision already had been made by the Lord before the actual casting of lots: “…show which of these two You have chosen” (Acts 1:24, emp. added). The summary statement regarding Matthias—“he was numbered with the eleven apostles” (Acts 1:26; cf. Matthew 28:16; Mark 16:14; Luke 24:33)—gives way to a return to the expression “the twelve” (Acts 6:2; cf. Acts 2:14). The text states: “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen to take part in this ministry and apostleship” (Acts 1:24-25). Paul also was handpicked by Jesus—to be a “chosen vessel” (Acts 9:15). No human being on Earth today can claim he has been personally singled out and chosen by Jesus to be an apostle.

A third proof that no apostles exist on Earth today is the fact that New Testament apostles were empowered by God—not only to perform miracles—but also to convey miraculous power to other people who then could work miracles themselves. This characteristic is demonstrated in detailed fashion in Acts: “Now when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money” (Acts 8:18). The issue of modern-day apostles may be settled very quickly! To authenticate their claim to be apostles, they must be able both to perform miracles as well as confer miraculous power to others. The apostles of Jesus in the New Testament demonstrated their apostolic status without hesitation. Anyone today who claims to be an apostle should be willing to do the same. No such ability exists today.

ORIGINAL APOSTLES WERE SUFFICIENT

A fascinating passage in the New Testament sheds further light upon this notion of modern-day apostles. That passage is Matthew 19:28. There Jesus informed Peter and the other apostles: “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” A related passage is Luke 22:29-30 which says, “And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as my Father bestowed one upon Me, that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

These verses are Christ’s figurative declarations describing the role of the twelve apostles in the establishment of the church and the dissemination of the gospel proclamation (cf. Bales, 1957, pp. 187-223). The “regeneration” refers to the Christian era, which began at Pentecost, during which time spiritual regeneration became possible through the blood of Christ (Titus 3:5). It is an equivalent expression with the “time of reformation” (Hebrews 9:10). The throne of Christ’s glory refers to His present location at the right hand of God (Acts 2:34-36; Ephesians 1:20; 1 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 1:13; 8:1; 10:12-13). The “judging” done by the apostles refers to the rule that the apostles exerted while they were on Earth, setting in place the features of New Testament Christianity (Matthew 16:19; John 20:22-23). The “twelve thrones” refers to their complete authority from Christ to implement Christ’s will until the end of time—which they presently do today through their authoritative writings—found only in the New Testament. The “twelve tribes” is a figurative way to refer to the church—the spiritual Israel (Galatians 6:16; James 1:1; cf. Romans 2:28-30; Galatians 3:29).

You Make All Things NewNeither Christ nor the original apostles needs successors or representatives on Earth today. They continue to rule and reign over the kingdom through the work that they achieved in the first century, and that is preserved for all in the New Testament. Christ is now on His throne ruling and reigning. The apostles also are on the thrones assigned to them by Christ. To suggest that the apostles have modern-day successors is to discount and discredit the current rule of the apostles. Neither Christ nor the apostles has abdicated their authority or their current rule to any humans on Earth.

Additionally, the fact that Jesus declared that all twelve apostles would occupy thrones in the kingdom proves that Peter had no greater authority than the other apostles. The apostles were equal in their reception and wielding of the authority delegated to them by Christ. Yet the Catholic Church claims that the immediate successors to Peter were Linus (from A.D. 67 to 79), Cletus (from A.D. 79 to 91) and Clement (from A.D. 91 to 100). They agree that the apostle John would have still been alive throughout this period (see G.C. Brewer’s discussion as quoted in Bales, pp. 208-210). The doctrine of the primacy of Peter means that the first three of the alleged successors of Peter would have exercised authority over the still-living apostle John—who had been handpicked by Christ Himself! The very John whom Jesus placed on one of the twelve thrones would have been under the authority, knowledge, and power of three popes who had not been selected to be among the original Twelve! (see also Hayden, pp. 22-33). Hayden aptly summarized the New Testament position regarding modern-day apostles:

The thirteen apostles chosen, ordained and endowed by the newly crowned Messiah faithfully and fully executed their commission. When they entered into everlasting rest, the church was established, with all needful ministries to edify, extend and perpetuate it throughout all coming centuries. Then the extraordinary, which was necessary to found a new institution, was succeeded by the ordinary, which is sufficient to teach, regulate and govern the subjects of Christ’s kingdom according to the laws that went forth from Jerusalem. The revelation of God was completed. The word of faith is henceforth nigh every believer, even in his mouth and in his heart. The apostolic office ceased, and evangelists and pastors became the permanent teachers and superintendents of the church (pp. 33-34).

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Christianity a White Man’s Religion or Colorless Family

In the past 2,000 years, the vast majority of Christians have been white/European. While Christianity had its beginnings in the Middle East, it spread rapidly to Europe and parts of Asia where Caucasians were the predominant race. The history of Christianity is filled with expansions, but mostly throughout Europe and Asia, then on to the West in the 15th century. Christianity has not had nearly the same success spreading among Middle Easterners, Africans, and Asians, and this has led many to declare that Christianity is a religion for white people.

Christianity was never intended for white people only. The first Christians were all Semitic in ethnicity and likely had light to dark brown skin. Christianity having been predominantly a white religion in past centuries has nothing to do with the message of Christianity. Rather, it is due to the failure of Christians to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the world (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:8). The apostle John declared that Jesus Christ is the propitiation for the sins of the entire world [all races and nationalities] (see 1 John 2:2). Spiritually, men of all races are one due to the presence of a common sickness/sin. Sin entered the human race at the Fall, and because of Adam and Eve’s disobedience, sin has been an inheritance for all of their descendants. Romans 5:12 tells us that, through Adam, sin entered the world and so death was passed on to all men because all have sinned.

But just as sin entered the human race by one man, so does redemption come by one Man, Jesus Christ. Forgiveness of sin, the essence of Christianity, is offered to all races, colors, creeds, and genders, to all “those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness” through Him (Romans 5:18). In giving His life as a substitute for sin, Jesus Christ purchased for God with His blood “men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9). No, Christianity is not a white man’s religion. Christianity is not a black, brown, red, or yellow religion either. The truth of the Christian faith is universally applicable to all people.

Let’s look at the question and answer it from another perspective. Skin and it’s color only pertains to these earth suits (Tents as Paul put it.) God gave us so we could function on this earth. All of us are really a spirit being. We possess a soul (mind, will and intellect), and we live in a body. The flesh is not who we are at all. When we die the spirit (who we really are) will live on forever either in Heaven or hell according to our choice while we’re here on earth. Our spirit has no color, race or ethnicity. Our spirit was created in the image and likeness of God. God is a SPIRIT, and they that seek to worship Him must do it in spirit and in truth.

Christianity is a religion for all humanity. God is not prejudice. Who ever is prejudice is mocking God for He created and loves all people. Prejudice and hate is sin and we have to confess it as such. I don’t understand prejudice in people that God has blessed with abundance and intelligence. Don’t we have better things to do than mock almighty God?

Jesus Christ Himself was neither white neither black but born in Semitic Ethnicity. Christ and His free gift of salvation are beyond ethnicity, creed, language etc., i.e., The Government of Heaven has no political boundaries!

There are many myths about Christianity but what you need personally is to believe and follow Jesus Christ as The Saviour and Lord for the human race. Jesus Christ came to get back the authority and dominion Adam, the first man had lost in the garden of Eden. He gives this victory to whoever believes in Him and serves Him till His return whereby this actual earth and heaven will be destroyed and His righteous Kingdom established forever and ever.

Jesus King of KingsGod is Spirit whom we worship in truth and Spirit. Why do some humans make such a big deal about the color of your skin? I an sure that Satan uses this weakness of some people for his own glory. Give God the glory for creating you in His image and believe His Word that whoso ever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

God is not a specific race or color. The Bible says that God is a SPIRIT and they that worship Him must do it in spirit and truth. Christianity is NOT A RELIGION. IT is a relationship with the only true and LIVING GOD. Man is also not a race or color. Know it or not, man is also a SPIRIT who possess a soul and lives in a body.
When we die in that body, no matter what color, goes back to the dirt from which it was made, So all of us, our color is really the color of dirt! Our spirits were created in the image and likeness of God. Amen. Christianity is NOT A RELIGION.

I think differently than the world does about what defines Christianity. “Christian” derives from the Koine Greek word Christ, The Greek word Christianos meaning “follower of Christ” comes from Christos meaning “anointed one. I dont really even pay attention to any history of a race or ethnic orgin. It all points back to Jesus as he is the one who made Christianity no other man did that. It has nothing to do with race. Jesus had so many followers when he was alive and blacks and other ethnicities were among them. Really they were called “followers of the way” before the word Christian was even used. Christianity is not to be a religion. When people ask me what religion I am, I say non-denominational! I just follow the Word of God and Jesus His son, as the first Christians were.

We are spirits, not flesh and blood. Skin and color is just the earth suit God gave us to help us function on the earth. God is a SPIRIT and so are we. When the earth suit gives way one day, the spirit and soul will vacate and go to Heaven with God or hell. It all depends on the choice we make now on this side of the grave. Will you choose Jesus today, whatever color God chose for you, so you can live with Him forever when you cross to the other side? Amen!

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China’s Cult Crackdown: What Is The Church Of Almighty God?

In China’s latest attempt to crack down on religious cults, 21 members of the banned Church of Almighty God were given jail terms, state media said Wednesday. The group was blamed for the death of a 37-year-old woman who was beaten to death at a McDonald’s after she refused to give her phone number to members who tried to recruit her.

Two of the four members in that case were sentenced to death in October. Two of the individuals sentenced on Wednesday have been given seven- and four-year prison terms for “organizing and using the cult to damage law enforcement,” Shanghai Daily reports. The men, identified as Zhang Shuzhi and Geng Yuqin, were sentenced at a court in China’s northeastern Liaoning province.

Police arrested them in July after reportedly finding memory cards and books that contained information on the cult’s teachings. The court also found the two men recruited new members as well.

The remaining 19 members received prison sentences between two and six years in neighboring Jilin province. The city of Yanji has reportedly been cracking down on the cult, Xinhua reports.

Religion in China

While the Chinese government allows Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, and Catholic and Protestant Christianity to be practiced, the groups must be affiliated with a government organization called the State Administration for Religious Affairs. However, millions attend “house churches” and follow other unsanctioned religious organizations.

The Church of Almighty God (also known as Eastern Lightning) is among the 14 religious groups the Chinese government has labeled an “evil cult.” These organizations face strict scrutiny since some have been known to cause unrest. For instance, the Taiping Rebellion of the mid-19th century that resulted in 20 million deaths, was started by a man who believed he was the younger brother of Jesus.

Church of Almighty God

Up to a million members across China follow the Church of Almighty God since its founding in 1989. Most are in rural areas. Its members believe that God has returned to Earth as a woman named Yang Xiangbin, who will guide mankind for the third and last time. China’s Communist Party is called “the Great Red Dragon,” whose growth triggers the end of the world. Previously, the cult pushed the doomsday belief that the apocalypse would take place on Dec. 21, 2012. At the time nearly 1,000 members were arrested for handing out apocalyptic pamphlets.

According to a 2014 report by China’s People Daily, members who attract more converts gain a higher status within the cult. Tactics include missionary work where nonmembers are enticed with money, gifts and sexual favors. A member receives 20,000 yuan ($3,237) for every new person they convert. New members are encouraged to purchase religious materials and pay 2,000 yuan ($323) in membership fees. They are told they will be punished if they leave the faith.

Latest Crackdown

To date, the group has been associated with several crimes. In 1998, eight violent riots have taken place in Henan province. In 2010, an elementary school student was murdered after his uncle tried to leave the cult. In 2012, a 36-year-old man went on a stabbing spree in Chenpeng village where 22 students and one elderly woman were injured.

Liu Ling is a Peking University graduate student who has been studying the Church of Almighty God for two years as part of her thesis work. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times in June, she explained that while she has read media reports about the group’s violent attacks, she has been unable to verify they took place. She has interviewed relatives of cult members who say they have had their windows smashed and fires set in their yards as an effort to force them to join the group — but nothing as violent as the McDonald’s murder that took place in May.

In wake of that incident, Chinese authorities have intensified efforts to find Almighty God members and arrest them. So far, about 1,500 members have been arrested. Some have been in custody since 2012, the New York Times reports. For some, the crackdown is reminiscent of what took place in 1999 when members of the quasi-spiritual movement known as Falun Gong were jailed after 10,000 members peacefully demonstrated outside the government’s central compound.

Today, banners are seen in public spaces across China urging people to, “Believe in science, create culture, make great efforts against evil cults.”

Propaganda material against the Church of Almighty God fills a public bulletin board in a residential neighborhood to east of Guozijian, Beijing, 2014

Propaganda material against the Church of Almighty God fills a public bulletin board in a residential neighborhood to east of Guozijian, Beijing, 2014

“I think it’s more visible. After the Falun Gong, there was a wave of this kind of propaganda,” Nanlai Cao, associate professor in religious studies at the People’s University of China in Beijing, told the Los Angeles Times. “The past five years, I don’t think it was very visible, but now I think it’s a big issue and has become a top priority for government officials.”

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12 Lies American Evangelicals Believe

Evangelical Christians are supposedly united in their belief that only those who believe the gospel — that Jesus Christ died on the cross for humanity’s sins and rose from the dead three days later — will be saved, or The Salvation Gospel. But not all who identify as evangelicals even believe this.

According to a September study by LifeWay Research, Americans don’t know much about theology. While most Americans identify as Christians, they seem confused about the details of their faith.

“Contradictory and incompatible beliefs are OK for most people,” explained Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. Even those who identify as evangelicals often fell into some of the worst theological errors.

Here are twelve lies about God, morality, and salvation which Christians in the study believed, and why they are wrong.

1. Personal salvation depends on good works.

Three quarters of Americans (77 percent) agreed that people must contribute to their own effort for personal salvation, according to the survey. A full half (52 percent) said good deeds help them earn a spot in heaven.

At the same time, 60 percent said Jesus Christ’s death on the cross is the only sacrifice that could remove the penalty of their sin. This is much closer to the biblical position: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not the result of works, so that no one may boast,” St. Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:8-9.

While James 2 declares that “faith without deeds is dead,” that does not mean that good deeds are what earns salvation. Romans 10:9 promises “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” It is faith, not works, that earns salvation.

2. Everyone goes to heaven.

The study found that almost two thirds of evangelicals (64 percent), and nearly as many Americans (60 percent) described heaven as a place where “all people will ultimately be reunited with their loved ones.” Overall, just over half of Americans (54 percent) agreed with the biblical view that only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone receive eternal salvation.

Americans seem unable to grasp the contradiction: either everyone goes to heaven or only those who believe in Jesus Christ will go to heaven.

At least a vast majority of evangelicals (84 percent) held the biblical view that hell is a place of eternal judgment, where God sends all people who do not personally trust in Jesus Christ. Even so, this means that 16 percent of evangelicals either disagreed or were unsure. Only 40 percent of all Americans believed this.

3. Sin isn’t important.

Original sin seems anathema to most Americans. Almost two thirds (65 percent) said that most people are good by nature, even though everyone sins a little. Three quarters (74 percent) of Americans disagreed that the smallest sin deserves eternal damnation — and 62 percent strongly disagreed!

Romans 3:22-23 explicitly declares that “there is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Orthodox Christianity holds that only the perfect may enter heaven, and that even the slightest sin separates a person from God. Only the death and resurrection of Jesus can restore the relationship between the believer and God.

Seen as an eternal punishment for temporary sins, hell seems unfair. But orthodox Christianity holds that hell is the state of separation from God. Seen in terms of a relationship with a perfect God, even a little sin prevents the reuniting of man with God that is heaven.

While most Americans said sin does not deserve eternal damnation, more than half (57 percent) agreed it would be fair for God to show His wrath against sin. Perhaps pastors can open their congregation’s eyes by emphasizing the fairness of God’s wrath, rather than the eternal damnation meted out for every sin.

4. God accepts worship of all religions.

64 percent of Americans said God accepts the worship of all religions, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Indeed, this belief united all kinds of Americans: 62 percent of those 18 to 34 years old believed it, as did 67 percent of those 50 and older. African Americans (69 percent), Hispanics (65 percent), whites (63 percent) and Asian-Americans (57 percent) also agreed that God accepts at least these three types of worship.

Even 48 percent of evangelicals agreed that God accepts all kinds of worship. The difficulty with this view is that these religions disagree on the nature of God. Christianity (and some forms of Judaism) sees God as one being with multiple persons: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Islam, by contrast, says that Allah is a monad — He is not multiple persons and He does not have a son.

Throughout the Old Testament, God showed Himself as a jealous God — ordering the destruction of idols and praising the kings who defiled pagan temples. While Jesus did liberalize worship to some extent, he also emphasized that worship must be rooted in the reality of God and man: He said it mattered less where people worship than that they worship God “in spirit and in truth.”

5. Jesus was created by God.

While a vast majority of Americans (69 percent) agreed in the idea of the Trinity — that there is one true God in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — more than half (52 percent) said that Jesus is the “first and greatest being created by God.”

This is incompatible with the Nicene Creed, which declares that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, “begotten of the Father, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father.” Small-o orthodox Christianity insists that Jesus was not made by God, but begotten of Him, being the same nature as God the Father.

A majority of Americans (61 percent) agreed with the orthodox view of the dual nature of Christ: that He is both divine and human. This is an important doctrine, because Jesus is the bridge to reunite God with mankind. If He is not fully human, He could not die for the sins of man. If He is not fully divine, he could not unite them with God Himself.

6. The Holy Spirit is a force.

56 percent of Americans said that the Holy Spirit is not a person but a force. More than a quarter (28 percent) described the Spirit as a divine being but not equal to God the Father and Jesus.

A full half (51 percent) disagreed, standing by the orthodox position that the Holy Spirit is one of the three equal persons of God. He may come from the Father and the Son, but that does not make Him any less God.

7. The Bible was written to be interpreted as each person chooses.

According to the study, 51 percent of Americans said the Bible was written for each person to interpret as he or she chooses. This nonsense does not fit with what the Bible actually says.

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work,” St. Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:16-17. If the Bible were written to be interpreted as each person wants, it could not teach, rebuke, correct, or train in righteousness.

Interestingly, while many Americans believed the Bible is meant to be interpreted personally, 64 percent said the accounts of Jesus’ bodily resurrection are completely accurate. Only 23 percent disagreed. Not surprisingly, 98 percent of evangelicals agreed in the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection, while even a majority of non-evangelical Americans (56 percent) also did.

Nevertheless, only 47 percent of Americans said the Bible is 100 percent accurate in all it teaches, while 43 percent disagreed. This might be due to the various scientific approaches to Genesis 1. 44 percent said the Bible contains helpful myths but isn’t literally true.

8. Extramarital sex is not a sin.

Only about half of Americans (49 percent) said that sex outside of traditional marriage is a sin, while 44 percent said it isn’t one. Women (53 percent) are more likely than men (45 percent) to call extramarital sex sinful, while people with bachelor’s degrees (44 percent) and graduate degrees (40 percent) were less likely than those with high school diplomas or less (56 percent) to do so.

Jesus Himself explained that sex is reserved for marriage, and He even went so far as to say that lusting after someone is a form of fornication. Perhaps due to these clear doctrines, a full 91 percent of evangelicals agreed that sex outside of marriage is a sin, compared to only 40 percent of non-evangelicals. Still, it might be concerning that 9 percent did not believe so.

9. Abortion is not a sin.

49 percent of Americans in the survey said that abortion is a sin, while 40 percent said it is not. 87 percent of evangelicals agreed that abortion is a sin, while only 41 percent of non-evangelicals said so.

Abortion is less clear directly from the Bible, but the text describes fetuses in the womb as though they were human. Genesis 25:22 describes Jacob and Esau “struggling together” inside Rebekah’s womb. Luke 1:44 describes John the Baptist inside his mother Elizabeth’s womb leaping for joy when Jesus, who was inside Mary’s womb at the time, was near. Exodus 21:22-25 is arguably the world’s first fetal homicide law, and Psalm 139 describes God’s personal knowledge of the author in his mother’s womb.

Early Christians opposed the practice, which was in vogue across the Roman Empire, and most Christians today oppose it. Modern DNA science testifies that at conception, a new being is created with the entire genetic code of a human being.

If a fetus is a human being, then the practice of abortion can be considered homicide, and the Ten Commandments clearly condemn murder.

10. Gender identity is a matter of choice.

38 percent of Americans in the survey said that gender identity is a matter of choice, while 51 percent disagreed. Only 32 percent of evangelicals said gender identity is a choice, while 40 percent of non-evangelicals said so.

Scripture does not speak specifically to the sense that a person was born in the wrong body (gender dysphoria), but it does emphasize two basic ideas on sexuality: humans were made male and female, and sexuality is a good gift of God. While people who struggle with gender dysphoria should be treated with love and respect, Christians cannot believe that their birth sex is a mistake.

The idea of original sin — that people are born into a fallen world with sinful desires, diseases, and other weaknesses — explains where gender dysphoria comes from, and the idea of God’s ultimate redemption of humanity promises an answer that does not require “gender-affirming” surgery. (Indeed, such surgery mutilates the human body as God designed it, and there are real victims of transgenderism.) Christians should sympathize with those struggling with dysphoria, and offer them the ultimate hope in Jesus Christ that motivates our faith.

11. Homosexual behavior is no longer a sin.

42 percent of Americans in the survey said that the Bible’s condemnation of homosexual behavior does not apply today, while 44 percent disagreed.

Small-o orthodox Christianity holds that homosexual practice is a sin, because sex is reserved for marriage between one man and one woman. Romans 1 makes clear that homosexual acts are sinful — a penalty for separation from God and a sin with its own consequences. (An aside, this passage does not call for the execution of homosexuals, as The New York Times ignorantly reported.)

That emphatically does not mean that people with same-sex attraction cannot be saved or are more sinful than others. Christians all acknowledge their sinfulness and accept forgiveness only through the death and resurrection of Jesus. No Christian should pretend to be “holier-than-thou,” but no Christian can support homosexual behavior either. It is a hard thing for Christians with same-sex attraction to be abstinent, but they are held to the same standard as unmarried straight people.

12. The prosperity gospel.

37 percent of American evangelicals agreed that God will always reward true faith with material blessings. 63 percent of Americans in general disagreed with this notion, and only 23 percent of non-evangelicals agreed with this “prosperity gospel.”

Perhaps ironically, poorer Americans, those with incomes under $25,000, were more likely (28 percent) to agree with the prosperity gospel than wealthier Americans. Only 20 percent of those making $100,000 or more bought this notion.

The prosperity gospel flies in the face of orthodox Christianity and the plain text of the Bible. While the New Testament promises heaven for those who believe in Jesus, it does not promise riches in this life. Rather, Saint Paul, the author of most of the letters in the New Testament, himself faced penury, prison, and even death for the gospel he preached. The apostles all faced gruesome deaths, with the one exception of Saint John, and thousands of martyrs laid the foundation for the church.

This does not mean that every believer is called to give his or her life to preach the gospel, but it should emphatically disprove the message of preachers like Joel Osteen, who proclaim that faith can bring riches.

Sayings

Americans with more education are less likely to believe this prosperity gospel (18 percent of those with graduate degrees said they believed it, while 33 percent of those with high school degrees or less did so).

Believe what the Bible says. Not what you want it to say.

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The Greatest Event In The Entire Bible Just Might Surprise You

In that day, God will be glorified in all the earth, and it will usher in 1,000 years of perfect peace and perfect rule on our earth.

“Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.” Daniel 7:22 (KJV)

Just for fun, I decided to Google the phrase “greatest event in the Bible”, and got some interesting results. John MacArthur says that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the greatest event in the Bible, and he makes a compelling case. For the Christian, this is certainly true. But the Bible deals with a whole lot more than just Christians and Christianity. The Catholics say, predictably, that the ‘annunciation of Mary’ is the greatest event. (rolling my eyes). If you were Jewish, you might say the greatest event in the Bible was the giving of the Law to Moses, or maybe the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt at Passover. The Bible is a big Book with lots of big events.

Now if we could ask God what He viewed as the ‘greatest event in the Bible’, what do you think He would say?

For starters, since God wrote the Bible, we might want to look and see if there is a single event mentioned more times than any other. If God did have a ‘greatest event’ would it be possible to figure it out by the sheer number of times it was mentioned? As it turns out, there is a single event in the Bible mentioned more times, by more people, than any other event from cover to cover. Care to take a wild guess at what it might be?

“Thus saith the LORD; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the LORD of hosts the holy mountain.” Zechariah 8:3 (KJV)

The greatest event in the entire Bible is the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. All through the Bible, in book after book, there is a Day and an event that happens on that Day so important that it is referred to as “in that day”112 times. The prophet Zechariah mentions the phrase 20 times, and is one of the most descriptive and informative books in the Bible on the Second Coming.

“And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.” Zechariah 14:4 (KJV)

Christians look at Jesus on the cross, and His rising from the dead 3 days later, as the greatest event because that is where we “get in”. But look at it from God’s perspective, it was the day His only begotten Son was executed between common criminals. Why would that be God’s favorite day? But at the Second Coming, God’s Son will receive the Kingdom He rightly deserves, and will reign from Jerusalem as the King over the whole world. That’s the Day that interests God the most.

Turning CrossIn that day, God will be glorified in all the earth, and it will usher in 1,000 years of perfect peace and perfect rule on our earth. The Devil will be bound in chains, and the curse will be removed from off the earth and all it’s inhabitants. The Lord Jesus Christ will rule with “a rod of iron” in perfect righteousness.

“For thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream: then shall ye suck, ye shall be borne upon her sides, and be dandled upon her knees. As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem. And when ye see this, your heart shall rejoice, and your bones shall flourish like an herb: and the hand of the LORD shall be known toward his servants, and his indignation toward his enemies. For, behold, the LORD will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by his sword will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many. For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain. And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD.” Isaiah 66:12-16,22,23 (KJV)

For born again Christians, the Bible says that after we are taken out in the Rapture of the Church, we will return again with the Lord on white horses at the Battle of Armageddon that takes place at the Second Coming. It’s the greatest day in human history, and we get better than a ringside seat. We get to be part of it.

“And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” Revelation 19:11-16 (KJV)

Now you know what the greatest day in the Bible is, and why God looks forward to it so much. This could be your Greatest day, the day You find Salvation!

Even so, Come Lord Jesus!

Are you ready for what comes next?

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Introduction and Background to 1 Corinthians

Introduction

A number of years ago, one of the seminary students in our congregation left for a summer ministry in the South. During that week, we received word that his car had broken down on the way and that he was stranded. It was reported as a matter for prayer, but in jest, someone suggested the church send “Bob” to fix the car. My response was that, while I may be able to “heal the sick” (automotively speaking), I am not able to “raise the dead!”

While a student in seminary, I became friends with a student who was a veterinarian. I always teased him by telling him his ministry could be preaching in a church that was going to the dogs. I wonder just how one would feel about being sent to a church like the one in Corinth, as described in the two epistles of Paul to the Corinthians. Frankly, from a purely human point of view, the situation in Corinth appears to be hopeless.

And yet when we read these introductory verses to this epistle, Paul is positive, upbeat, and optimistic. His prayers concerning this church are filled with expressions of thanksgiving. How can this be? How can Paul be so positive and optimistic as he communicates with this church? One thing is certain—it is not because of the godly conduct of many of its members.

Paul’s first words to the Corinthians are not just a repetition of a standard form, a kind of “boiler plate” greeting, as though he were using a pre-packaged computer program which needed nothing else but to fill in the name of the church. The salutation of this epistle provides us not only with a demonstration of Paul’s optimism and enthusiasm in writing to these saints, it also indicates how he can be so positive about this troubled body of believers. More than this, it begins to lay a theological foundation for Paul’s ministry and teaching as it will be given throughout the epistle. This salutation tells us not only how Paul feels about this church, but why he feels as he does. Gordon Fee has this to say about the importance of these first nine verses of 1 Corinthians:

With the elaborations of this letter Paul begins a habit that will carry through to the end. In each case the elaborations reflect, either directly or subtly, many of the concerns about to be raised in the letter itself. Even as he formally addresses the church in the salutation, Paul’s mind is already at work on the critical behavioral and theological issues at hand.

The Founding of the Church at Corinth

At the end of Paul’s so-called first missionary journey with Barnabas, the Jerusalem Council met to decide just what should be required of Gentile converts (Acts 15:1-29). When Paul and Barnabas went their separate ways, Paul took Silas with him and set out on what was to be called the second missionary journey of Paul (Acts 15:36-41). They began by revisiting some of the churches that had been founded on the first journey, delivering to them the decision of the Jerusalem Council (16:4-5).

After being divinely prohibited from preaching in Asia (Acts 16:6) and Bithynia, Paul, Silas, and Timothy ended up at Troas, where Paul received the “Macedonian vision” (16:9-10), which brought them to Philippi where a number were saved and a church was established. From Philippi, Paul and his party went to Thessalonica, then to Berea, and finally to Athens (Acts 17). From Athens, Paul went to Corinth, an ancient city of Greece, the seat of government of the Roman province of Achaia. It was in Corinth that Paul first crossed paths with a Jew named Aquila and his wife Priscilla. Like Paul, this man was a tent-maker. He and his wife had fled from Italy because of a command from Claudius that all Jews must leave Rome (Acts 18:1-3). Every Sabbath, Paul went to the synagogue, where he sought to evangelize Jews and Greeks (18:4). Eventually he was joined by Silas and Timothy, who had just arrived from Macedonia. Apparently they brought a gift from the Macedonians which enabled Paul to fully devote himself to the Word, so that he gave all of his efforts to preaching Christ (18:5).

As usual, Paul’s preaching prompted a reaction from the unbelieving Jews, so that he left the synagogue and began to concentrate on evangelizing Gentiles (18:6-7). Paul moved his headquarters to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a Gentile God-fearer who lived next door to the synagogue (18:5-7). Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, became a believer along with the rest of his household. Many other Corinthians were also being saved as well and were submitting to baptism (18:8). The Lord appeared to Paul in a vision, assuring him that there were many more souls to be saved in that city and that he was not to fear. He was to speak out boldly, rather than to hold back for fear of trouble (18:9-10). As a result, Paul extended his ministry in Corinth, staying a total of 18 months, a considerably longer period of ministry than usual.

Paul’s lengthy ministry was facilitated, in part, by Jewish litigation and by the precedent-setting ruling of Gallio, the proconsul of Achaia (18:12-17). The Jews seized Paul and brought him up on charges before Gallio. They accused him of being neither a faithful Jew nor a good citizen. They accused him of speaking and acting against the law. Paul did not even get the opportunity to speak in his own defense. Before he could open his mouth, Gallio gave his ruling. This strife between Paul and the Jews was but another instance of the in-fighting which was so typical of the Jews. Gallio was fed up with it and with them and was not about to be used by these Jewish zealots to prevail over their Jewish rivals. This was not a matter for his judgment. He threw them and their case out of court.

From all we are told of him, Gallio was a pagan who cared nothing for the Jews, the gospel, or Paul. And yet his ruling was a landmark decision, officially legitimizing and protecting those who preached the gospel throughout the entire Roman Empire. Judaism was an official religion, recognized and sanctioned by the Roman government. The Jews were seeking to convince Gallio that Paul was really no Jew and that the preaching of the gospel was not the practice of Judaism. Thus, they inferred, Paul was a threat to the stability of Roman rule. They argued that neither Paul nor any other Christian should be allowed to preach the gospel under the permission and protection of the Roman law. When Gallio refused to rule on this matter, calling it a Jewish squabble, he was declaring Paul’s preaching of the gospel to be the practice of Judaism. Christianity, Gallio’s ruling indicated, was Jewish and thus protected by Roman law. Thus, Paul’s ministry was legal, and any Jewish opposition could not claim Rome as their ally.

Gallio drove them away from his judgment seat. The Jews were furious, and in retaliation they seized Sosthenes, the leader of the synagogue, and began to beat him in front of the proconsul. He looked on with disdain, not at all impressed or concerned. This Sosthenes seems to be the same person who is with Paul as he writes to the Corinthians (1:1).

City of CorinthThe City of Corinth

Secular history only verifies and clarifies the impression of the city of Corinth which we gain from the pens of Luke (Acts) and Paul (1 and 2 Corinthians). It was a great city in many ways. Politically, Corinth was the capital city of the Roman province of Achaia, a territory including nearly all of Greece. That is why Gallio, the proconsul of Achaia, was in Corinth and heard the charge against Paul. Geographically, Corinth was so strategically located it could hardly do other than prosper. The city was situated on a plateau overlooking the Isthmus of Corinth, two miles distant from the Gulf. Nearby was the Acrocorinth, a 1900-foot mountain that was perfectly suited as a citadel for the city. This fortress was so secure it was never taken by force until the invention of gun-powder. It also contained an inexhaustible water supply in the fountain of Peirene. At the summit of Acrocorinth was the temple of Aphrodite, the goddess of love. At the base of the citadel stood the temple of Melicertes, the patron of seafarers.

Located on an isthmus, Corinth became a crossroads for both land and sea trade. By looking at a map, one can quickly see that Corinth is situated between two large bodies of water and two land areas, and these are virtually surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea. Were it not for the isthmus on which Corinth was founded, the southern part of Greece would be an island in the Mediterranean Sea. Goods exchanged between the north and south would normally be shipped by land through Corinth.

Much of the sea trade of the Mediterranean from east to west also passed through Corinth. To the west of Corinth was the port city of Lechaeum on the Gulf of Corinth. On her east was the port of Cenchrae on the Saronic Gulf. These were ports of call for ships that sailed the seas. Travel across the isthmus and through Corinth was generally considered safer than the 200-mile voyage around Cape Malea, the most dangerous cape in the Mediterranean. So dangerous was this journey by sea that the Greeks had two sayings well known to sailors in those days: “Let him who sails round Malea forget his home,” and, “Let him who sails round Malea first make his will.

To avoid the distance and danger of the journey around the Cape of Malea (now called Cape Matapan), goods would be unloaded at one port, transported across the four-mile strip of land (through Corinth), and reloaded on the other side. Smaller ships were actually transported with their cargo over the isthmus by means of rollers. Consequently, the isthmus was named the Diolkos, “the place of dragging across.” Nero had planned a canal to join the Aegean and Ionian seas, and he even began construction in A.D. 66. The three and one-half mile canal was finished in 1893.

Corinth thus became a great commercial center. Luxuries from all over the world were available, and the vices of the world were also to be found there. These evils did not all have to be imported, however, for the temple of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, was nearby with 1,000 cult prostitutes who sold themselves in the name of religion. The Greeks had a proverb about the city which tells a great deal about its moral decay: “It is not every man who can afford a journey to Corinth.” Those who were worldly wise used the verb “corinthianize” to describe an act of immorality. “Corinthian girl” was known to be a synonym for prostitute.

Estimates of the population of Corinth range from 100,000 to 600,000. The diversity of peoples who lived in this city is explained by her history. In Paul’s day, Corinth was a very old and yet a very new city. “Signs of habitation date back to the fourth millennium B.C.” Alexander made Corinth the center of a new Hellenic League as he prepared for war with Persia. In 146 B.C., the city was destroyed by Roman soldiers because it led the Greek resistance to Roman rule. All the males of the city were exterminated, and the women and children were sold for slaves. The city was rebuilt by Julius Caesar 100 years later, and it eventually became the capital of the province of Achaia. Many of those who settled in Corinth were not Greeks. A large number of Roman soldiers settled there after retiring, having received their freedom and Roman citizenship in addition to grants of land. A variety of nationalities settled in Corinth, enticed by the prospects of economic prosperity. A good number of the immigrants were Jews.

Being a relatively recent city with newly acquired wealth brought problems, for there was the absence of an established aristocracy which would have provided a much more stable society. Farrar spoke of Corinth in this way:

… this mongrel and heterogeneous population of Greek adventurers and Roman bourgeois, with a tainting infusion of Phoenicians; this mass of Jews, ex-soldiers, philosophers, merchants, sailors, freedmen, slaves, trades-people, hucksters and agents of every form of vice … without aristocracy, without traditions and without well-established citizens.

Every two years Corinth presided over the Isthmian Games, a contest in which all the Greek city-states took part. At these games, the sea-god Poseidon was specially honored.

The Occasion for Writing 1 Corinthians

After Paul had completed his 18-month ministry in Corinth, he set out for Syria with Priscilla and Aquila. On reaching Ephesus, Paul ministered for a short time, promising to return if the Lord willed (18:19-21). He left Priscilla and Aquila there and journeyed on to Caesarea, Jerusalem and Antioch (Acts 18:18-22). After strengthening the churches in Asia Minor, Paul returned to Ephesus for a much more extensive ministry. He stayed in Ephesus, teaching in the school of Tyrannus for two years. While in Ephesus, he seems to have received unfavorable reports about the Corinthian church which prompted him to write his first letter to this church, a letter which was not preserved as a part of the New Testament canon (1 Corinthians 5:9-11).

Later, while Paul was still ministering the Word in Ephesus, he heard from some of “Chloe’s people” that divisions were beginning to emerge among the Corinthian saints. In addition, Paul was informed of a case of gross immorality in the church, one with which the church had not dealt. Instead of feeling shame and sorrow over this sin, at least some of the saints were proud of their tolerance (chapter 5). He heard also of Christians taking their fellow-believers to court, seeking to have pagans pass judgment on spiritual matters (chapter 6). Paul was also told of unbecoming conduct at the Lord’s Supper (chapter 11) and of doctrinal error concerning the resurrection (chapter 15). A three-man delegation consisting of Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus also arrived from Corinth (16:17) bringing a letter which inquired of Paul about marriage (7:1), virgins (7:25), food sacrificed to idols (8:1), spiritual gifts (12:1), the collection for the saints (16:1), and Apollos (16:12). It was while he was in Ephesus that Paul wrote 1 Corinthians in response to the reports and questions he received there.

Paul’s Preamble
(1:1-3)

1 Paul, called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, 2 to the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

That Paul should write such a letter as this should come as no surprise to us and certainly not to the Corinthians. After all, Paul had already written one epistle which was not preserved for us. Paul was the one who first came to Corinth with the gospel. Many of the members of the church in Corinth were the fruit of his ministry (1 Corinthians 9:2; 2 Corinthians 3:1-4). Paul wrote with apostolic authority. By the will of God, he was chosen and called as an apostle. He wrote with full authority. His words were not to be ignored.

Paul addresses his epistle to the church at Corinth and then proceeds to define the church. This is a very important definition to which we should give our full attention. First, Paul wants us to be assured that the church belongs to God. How often we hear churches identified in terms of who the pastor is. That is ______’s church, and we fill in the blank with the pastor’s name. When we do so, we indicate our deep and fundamental difference with Paul who believed that the church belongs to God. God is the One who brought the church into existence through the shed blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. God is the One who sustains His church. It is God’s church.

Generally speaking, the term “church” is defined in terms of two categories: (a) the local church and (b) the church universal. The local church is understood as that body of believers who gather regularly in one place. The “universal church” consists of all believers in every place and in the whole course of church history.

I do not wish to differ with these two definitions of the church. They are probably useful ways of considering groups of believers. But the “local church” and the “universal church” are not entirely consistent with Paul’s use of the term as he employs it in the New Testament. Here, the church is defined as (a) “those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling,” and (b) “all who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (verse 2).

We might be inclined to think of this first category as “the local church.” In a sense, it is. But when Paul speaks of the church, he simply refers to a group of believers. Sometimes this group is a “house church,” a group of believers meeting in a certain person’s home (Romans 16:5, 19; Colossians 4:15; Philemon 1:2). These “house churches” may have met in a larger gathering, as did the saints in Jerusalem (see Acts 2:46). Then, Paul referred to the “city church,” that is, the group of all believers in a particular city (see Revelation 2 and 3), or the church at a particular city (Acts 11:22; 13:1; 18:22; Romans 16:1). This is the way Paul referred to the Corinthian church, the “church of God which is at Corinth” (1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 1:1). Finally, Paul speaks of the church as all those living at one time, who have trusted in Jesus Christ for salvation.

I fear our view of the church is either too narrow (the local church—our church) or too broad (all those who have ever lived and trusted in Christ for salvation). We pray for our missionaries, the missionaries we have sent out from our local church, or more broadly, from our denominational group. A few churches share with those in need within their own fellowship or local church. When the new believers (the church) at Antioch heard a famine was coming upon the world, they enthusiastically began to prepare to give to their brethren in Judea. They understood, even at this early stage in their growth and maturity, that the church is bigger than the local church.

When we hear of disasters taking place around the world, do we immediately begin to consider the impact on our brethren, our fellow members of the world-wide church, and act accordingly? I fear we do not, at least to the degree we should. With such rapid communications in our time, we could easily and quickly learn of the trials and tribulations of fellow believers, no matter where they are in the world. And our ability to respond is also significantly easier than it was for the saints of Antioch. Let us begin to think of the church in Paul’s terms, rather than in the narrower terms to which we are accustomed.

In this broader sense of the church, we see that Paul’s epistle, though addressed to the saints at Corinth, was also written to the church at large. Look once again at the first two verses of Paul’s salutation: “Paul, called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, to the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.”

This broader element in Paul’s salutation is important because it reminds us that “church truth” is “church truth.” That is, Paul’s teaching to the saints at Corinth is just as applicable and just as authoritative for the church at Philippi, or Ephesus, or Dallas. Too many have tried to avoid Paul’s teaching in his Corinthians Epistles by insisting he is speaking to a very special and unique problem found only in Corinth. This simply does not square with Paul’s words. His instructions to the Corinthians apply to every other saint:

16 I exhort you therefore, be imitators of me. 17 For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, and he will remind you of my ways which are in Christ, just as I teach everywhere in every church (1 Corinthians 4:16-17).

33 for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. 34 Let the women keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but let them subject themselves, just as the Law also says (1 Corinthians 14:33-34).

It has also been pointed out that in addressing the church at Corinth, Paul does not distinguish any one believer or group of believers from any other. We shall soon see that the Corinthian church was plagued with the dilemma of divisions. Here, Paul does not address the church other than as one group of believers, equally lost as unbelievers, and now equally saved through the person and work of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, Paul is careful to emphasize that the standing of the saints in Corinth and elsewhere is solely the result of the grace of God manifested through the Lord Jesus Christ. There are no grounds for boasting, except in the person and work of Christ.

Paul’s Thanksgiving
(1:4-9)

4 I thank my God always concerning you, for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, 6 even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, 7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who shall also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Somehow, an expression of thanksgiving is not what I would have expected from Paul at this point in time. Here is a church that has begun to listen to false teachers and who is challenging Paul’s authority. Here is a church which condones immorality and “unconditionally accepts” a man whose sin shocks the unbelieving pagans of that city. Here is a church whose personal conflicts are being aired out before unbelieving eyes in secular courts. How can Paul possibly give thanks?

Paul does not give thanks for the sins and failures of these saints. Paul gives thanks to God for what He has done and for what He will ultimately do for His children. Paul first gives thanks for the “grace of God,” which He has given the saints in Christ Jesus (verse 4). Grace is unmerited favor, and we must surely agree that these saints—not to mention ourselves—are unworthy. The good things which have already been accomplished, and all those good things yet to be accomplished, are manifestations of God’s infinite grace, bestowed upon those who are unworthy.

Paul gives thanks for the sufficiency of God’s grace to the saints as articulated in verses 5-7.

5 That in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, 6 even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, 7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

God’s grace to the saints in Corinth and everywhere was boundless. He enriched them in everything. They were enriched in all speech and all knowledge. This was achieved through the preaching of the “testimony of Christ,” as it was confirmed in each and every believer. The Corinthians had no critical need for which God had not made provision through the apostolic preaching of Christ. Were there false teachers who indicated the Corinthians were lacking and that they needed more of something? They were liars! God had already provided all that was necessary for “life and godliness” in Christ (see 2 Peter 1:2-4). No gift was lacking in the church. God had provided just the right gifts for the growth and maturity and ministry of the saints in Corinth. If the church at Corinth was failing, it was not due to any failure on God’s part to provide for their needs, but rather a failure on their part to appropriate these means.

Finally, Paul expressed his thanksgiving for the faithfulness of God and the resulting assurance that He would complete that which He had begun in the Corinthian saints (verses 7-9). Elsewhere, Paul put it this way:

6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6).

12 For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day (2 Timothy 1:12).

These saints were eagerly awaiting the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ (7a). Their salvation had not only the past and present benefits, referred to earlier, but a future hope. As motley a crew as this Corinthian church proved to be, their salvation and security were God’s doing. Consequently, Paul had great confidence concerning this church and the future of each saint. Paul thanked God because He would confirm these saints to the end. What God had started, He would finish. They were secure, and their hope was certain, just as Peter also writes:

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:3-5).

While these Corinthian saints may not consistently be faithful, God is faithful. It is through His faithfulness that each believer has been called to salvation. It is because of His faithfulness that we will persevere and enter into His kingdom, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

No wonder Paul is thankful. In spite of the stumbling and sin which is evident in the Corinthian church, God has saved the saints there. He has sufficiently provided for their every spiritual need. He has purposed to present them faultless when He establishes His kingdom. Paul therefore is assured that his ministry is not in vain, because the salvation and sanctification of the saints in Corinth and elsewhere are the work of God. The God who called these saints and destined them for glory is the God who called Paul to be an apostle and to minister to these saints. Paul’s work is not in vain, for his work is ultimately God’s work.

1 CorinthiansConclusion

Paul is writing to a very troubled church, a church which exists in the midst of a very corrupt city and culture. In spite of this, Paul has a very confident mood as he addresses the saints at Corinth and around the world of his day and ours. I notice that in spite of the weaknesses and willful sins of these saints, Paul does not begin by questioning the reality of their conversion, but by affirming the present and future benefits. There are texts which do question the reality of the faith of persistently wayward professing believers, but this is not one of them. These saints need to be reminded of the certainty of their salvation. The certainty of their salvation rests not within themselves, but in the One who called them and the One who will complete all that He has begun. This certainty also assures Paul that his continued ministry to this church is not in vain.

This book of 1 Corinthians should cause us to reject the myth of the perfect New Testament church. We often refer to ourselves at The House of The Nazarene as a “New Testament church.” We are that in the sense that our church is patterned after the principles set down in the New Testament. We have no one “pastor,” who is the head of the church, but we recognize that Christ is the only Head of the church. We are governed by a plurality of elders. We have a weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper, and we encourage believers to exercise their spiritual gifts in a way that edifies the whole body. We do not wish to imply by the expression “New Testament church” that we are a perfect church or even that we are a good church at all times.

So often Christians look back to the New Testament times as though the church in those days was nearly perfect. If you read the Book of Acts the way I do, there is a wonderful period of bliss in the infancy of the church, but this lasts only from late in chapter 2 to the end of chapter 4. In chapter 5, a couple is struck dead for lying to the Holy Spirit. In chapter 6, there is strife between two groups of Jews over the care of their widows. And by the time we get to the Corinthian church, it is far from perfect and hardly what could be called good. The final words of our Lord to the seven churches of Asia in Revelation 2 and 3 are not complimentary either. The church was not perfect in New Testament times, and neither is it perfect today. The same sins which Paul exposes in 1 and 2 Corinthians are present and evident in evangelical churches today. And so Paul’s words of admonition and correction are just as applicable to us today as they were to the saints of his day.

We deceive ourselves if we think we can retreat within the church walls to escape the evils of the world. The Corinthians Epistles inform us that the world too easily and quickly finds its way into the church. The church is not the place where we go to escape from sin; it is the place where we go to confront our sin and to stimulate each other to love and good deeds. The church is not a Christian “clean room” where we can get away from sin; it is a hospital, where we can find help and healing through the ministry of the Word and prayer.

The church is not the place which is kept holy by keeping sinners away. It is the place where newly born sinners are brought, so that they can learn the Scriptures and grow in their faith. All too often, new believers feel unwelcomed by the church. The church is afraid of newly saved sinners because they do not really understand holiness or sanctification. Let us not strive to preserve the purity of the church by keeping out the newly saved pagans. Let us strive to preserve the purity of the church by throwing out some of the professing saints who boast only of the time they have put in at the church but whose profession of faith is hypocritical (see 1 Corinthians 5).

If there was hope for the Corinthians, then there is hope for anyone. The first nine verses of this epistle are saturated with reason for hope. Do you know someone who is hopelessly lost, who is not just disinterested in the gospel but adamantly opposed to it? Then take hope from the two men from whom this letter is sent. The apostle Paul was once Saul, the Saul who stood by and held the garments for those who stoned Stephen, the Paul who went from city to city seeking to find Christians whom he could arrest and even put to death. This man is now willing to give his life for the sake of the gospel.

If I understand the text correctly, Sosthenes is another Saul. In Acts 18, we are told that Crispus, the synagogue leader in Corinth, came to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It appears that Sosthenes is his replacement. I understand him to be the leader of the opposition to Paul and the church in Corinth. At his instigation, it would seem, charges were brought against Christianity before Gallio, the proconsul of Achaia (Acts 18:12-17). When Gallio refuses to hear this case, it is clear that Paul and the church have won. In frustration and anger, the unbelieving Jews turn on Sosthenes, their leader, beating him as Gallio watched, unmoved. Now, Sosthenes is a traveling companion of Paul’s, a brother in the Lord. Two of the most hostile unbelievers are now brothers in the Lord. Is there hope for the lost? There most certainly is!

If there is hope for the lost, there is also hope for those who are saved but whose life falls far short of the standard set by the Scriptures. Here is a church that seems almost beyond hope. There are divisions, immorality, and opposition to the apostle Paul and to apostolic teaching. Is Paul discouraged? Does Paul give up hope? No! Paul’s first words to this church are those of hope and confidence. Paul’s confidence and hope are not in the Corinthians, in their good intentions, or in their diligent efforts. His hope is in the One who called him and who called the Corinthian saints as well. His hope is in the fact that God has abundantly provided for every spiritual need in that church. His hope is in the faithfulness of the God who started the good work in these believers and who is committed to bring it to completion.

Have you ever felt that a loved one or a friend were hopeless? They may be a believer, but their life is a mess. This epistle reminds us that there is hope for such a saint. Have you ever felt that you were beyond help, beyond hope? This epistle is for you. Its first words to you remind you of the character and the work of God in the saints, through the work of His Son, Jesus Christ. Cease trusting in yourself, in your good intentions, in your efforts, and once again place your trust in the One who alone can save and sanctify. Heed Paul’s words of warning and of instruction. If there is hope for Saul and Sosthenes and for saints at Corinth, there is hope for anyone.

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Filed under Daily Biblical Studies for the Soul Text, Studies in The Book of 1 Corinthians

Is Jesus The First Transgender Man

Huffington Post Blasphemously Declares That Jesus Christ Is The ‘First Transgender Man’

How wicked and lost has society become that the idea of a transgender Jesus could even be discussed?

“Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core. These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.” Jude 1:11-13 (KJV)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Below you will see the Huffington Post article claiming that the sinless Son of God, Jesus Christ, is the world’s ‘first transgender man’. We have published it in it’s entirety unedited so you can get the full scope of the blasphemy it contains. But know this, in these last days in which we live, this is what the Church will become. A lukewarm, clueless, blessings centered, self focused group of people who have no knowledge of Bible doctrine and have put Jesus Himself on the outside of His own church, knocking to be let back in. All manner of perversion has begin to creep into it unchecked as the great ‘falling away’ continues at full speed. The woman who wrote this article, if she is saved at all, is the perfect picture of the Laodicean Christian. Her erroneous supposition that Jesus was born ‘genetically female’ fails to take into consideration that the Holy Spirit, who conceived Jesus in Mary, is male.

REPRINTED FROM THE HUFFINGTON POST:

Suzanne DeWitt Hall“The current flap in conservative Christian circles about bathroom access is a bit baffling. They shout about God not making mistakes, as if God only works in binaries and anything falling outside of black and white cannot be from him. But we don’t have a black and white God; creation is so full of color and variation that it’s incomprehensible how we Christians struggle to pare him down to the limited palette of our individual expectations.

The worst offenders are the Christian’s who claim to take the Bible literally. Of course they don’t actually do that; they impose their own filters on stories and phrases to fit their particular ideology. If they really did as they claim to do, they would quickly see that Jesus must be, by their own exegetical rules, the first transgender male.

Let’s take a look at what the Bible and Christianity tell us.

The teaching of the church from ancient days through today is that Jesus received his fleshly self from Mary. The church also teaches that Jesus is the new Adam, born of the new Eve.

Now Eve is a fascinating creature for many reasons. The Bible tells us she is the first example of human cloning, which I touched on in this post. But the fun doesn’t stop there. If we take the Genesis account in it’s literal meaning, as conservative Christians demand that we do, she is also the first case of a transgender woman. God reached into Adam, pulled out a bit of rib bone, and grew Eve from that XY DNA into Adam’s companion. She was created genetically male, and yet trans-formed into woman.

Then along comes Jesus and the whole pattern is both repeated and reversed. The first couple’s refusal to cooperate is turned around by Mary’s yes, and the second act of cloning occurs. The Holy Spirit comes upon the second Eve, and the child takes flesh from her and is born. Born of her flesh. Born with XX chromosome pairing. Born genetically female, and yet trans-formed into man.

States that do not support trans persons’ right to choose the restroom that fits their identity demand that bathroom usage be based on a person’s “biological sex.” One can imagine a future in which state licences require not only a vision test, but also a genetic test so that bouncers proofing at bathroom doors have something tangible to review. And that means that if Jesus and Eve were walking around today, perhaps shopping at the mall for a Father’s Day gift, they’d have to swap restrooms. Now Jesus could surely manage to finesse his way around a woman’s room, but poor Eve…

A quick look at the dictionary for the prefix “trans” tells us that it means “across,” “beyond,” “through,” and “changing thoroughly,” all of which are great terms for the person of Christ. He cuts across all boundaries. He is beyond our understanding. He isthrough all and in all. He changes us thoroughly into new creations.

In his person, and in his salvific actions, Jesus is truly the first and forever trans man.”  source

Is the author Warped? Yes I agree! But there is more! I have included some replies the author of the post and others have replied:

Michael Angelo ·

Owner-Operator at Independent Computer Consultant
This is nothing more than a perversion of theology and of the scripture that people read every day. There is zero evidence presented and no facts available to back up any statement or claim made. The “article” really should be removed for that alone. The writer may want to reconsider a career change as a science fiction writer. I believe that would suit him or her better.
Like · Reply · 83 · May 19, 2016 2:47pm
Suzanne Marie DeWitt Hall

I wrote the piece at the prompting of the Holy Spirit and assumed that the Spirit’s purpose was simply to provoke thought about the creation process and the complexity of gender. Surprisingly, a number of people have commented in various places around the interweb that there is genetic precedence for XX males. Interesting stuff!
Like · Reply · 3 · May 19, 2016 3:18pm
Godsent Gideon ·

NEW YORK THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY
Suzanne Marie DeWitt Hall
Now you are just adding insult to injury by blasphemous the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit would NOT contradict the word of God. There just to many scripture that forecasts the coming of Jesus and refer to Him as a man, male.
Like · Reply · 52 · May 19, 2016 4:09pm
D.c. Welker ·

Elizabethtown High School, Etown, KY
Suzanne Marie DeWitt Hall This is Not the work of the Holy Spirit, beloved. I am sorry, but, this goes way overboard into the realm of blasphemy and disrespect. Talk about intolerance. it Is ok to disparage Christianity, but we must be tolerant of everything else in this society?
Like · Reply · 42 · May 19, 2016 4:23pm · Edited
Robert Heller ·

Minnesota State University, Mankato
Suzanne Marie DeWitt Hall Yeah, you wrote it from the prompting of “a” spirit, but not the one I’m associated with. First point, God created the human brain. According to most scientific evidence, the brightest ones among us use no more than 10% of our “capability.” So you want to me to listen to you, who uses 10% of your brain (I’m being generous!) instead of listening to the inspired word of God. That isn’t even logical! We (and you) cannot even comprehend the capability and immense power of God. You might think you’re that smart, but it’s time to wake up! By the way, as an educator with 5 See More
Like · Reply · 13 · May 19, 2016 4:44pm
Terri Patillo

Suzanne Marie DeWitt Hall You are not influenced by the Holy Spirit. False gospels are a blasphemy.
Like · Reply · 11 · May 19, 2016 5:22pm
Fidencio Ruiz ·

Henderson, Nevada
Suzanne Marie DeWitt Hall Prompting of “a” spirit, definitely, the Holy Spirit, not. The bible says “test the spirits” your test kit is askew. Which bible by the way? You need to get your head examined.
Like · Reply · 12 · May 19, 2016 6:09pm
Ubong Sampson ·

University of Leeds
Suzanne Marie DeWitt Hall such ignorance! the bible talks about blaspheming against the Holy Spirit, there is no forgiveness for that.
Like · Reply · 7 · May 19, 2016 7:02pm
Karen Sena ·

Eastern New Mexico University
Suzanne Marie DeWitt Hall you are speaking blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is what you are doing not provoking a thought.
Like · Reply · 3 · May 19, 2016 7:26pm
David G. Reich ·

Biola University
Suzanne Marie DeWitt Hall Your comment is just as absurd as the article. There is not one thing you stated that is consistent with the ministry and work of the Holy Spirit as described in the Word.
Like · Reply · 8 · May 19, 2016 9:22pm
Diane DeWitt Hall ·

Works at I Promote Books
Who of any of you can honestly say whether ir not someone has heard from the Holy Spirit. Many have and what they heard could have shocked you. Be careful lest ye be judged???
Like · Reply · May 19, 2016 10:01pm
Suzanne Marie DeWitt Hall

Godsent Gideon How does what I wrote contradict the word of God?
Like · Reply · May 19, 2016 10:04pm
Suzanne Marie DeWitt Hall

D.c. Welker Why is it blasphemous? The scriptures don’t tell us HOW Eve went from Adam’s rib to woman, or how Jesus went from Mary’s flesh to God/Man. Why is it blasphemous to pose questions about that wondrous how?
Like · Reply · 1 · May 19, 2016 10:05pm
Sabrina Ferriera ·

Freelance Artist at Dog Star Studio
Megan Harlan AMEN AMEN!!!
Now I would like to know what you think of this, Please comment below, Thank you!

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