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Sharing The Christian Faith

Always be ready to give a logical defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope that is in you, but do it courteously and respectfully. - 1 Peter 3:15


 

Introduction

Source www.basicsofchristianity.com

What is the basic message of Christianity? Finding the answer to this question is often obscured by impressions that people have. Because of people we know, experiences we have, or information we have already received, many of us bring assumptions to the table when seeking answers to this question.

Regardless of whether these assumptions are accurate or not, it's important to come to the source text of Christianity, the Bible, to find our answers. While it can be helpful to hear what others say about Christianity, ultimately we have to find out what Christianity says about itself.

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First Things First

 

“He [Jesus] replied, It has been written, Man shall not live and be upheld and sustained by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

“Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (1 Peter 1:23).

 

www.understandingprayerandfaith.com

Excerpts from, The Spirit of Wisdom in Understanding Prayer and Faith - The Bible is the record of God's revelation to man. The authors were inspired by God to write down the things He was revealing to them. Peter wrote: "But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God" (2 Peter 1:20). Paul wrote: "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

The Bible when properly understood is wisdom; the Words, “are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63). Studying the Holy Bible with reverence, understanding, and revelation is required to bridge the gap between the earthly and the divine...

The growth, development and stabilization of anything is based on how deep and how healthy its root system is, and the quality and quantity of its nutrient or information source.

A healthy root system is essential for optimum growth. This is why we are instructed, “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).

The First Steps: The Word of God is the foundation and the root system. “For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:6). The Bible was not merely written for our information, but for our transformation. The discipline of studying the Holy Bible is vital to the process of “renewing the mind” and fostering an intimate relationship with the Lord. The study of Scripture involves not only reading, but also interpreting, understanding, revelation and active involvement in applying the wisdom of its contents in our daily life.

King Solomon said in Proverbs 25:2, “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.” God has graciously chosen to reveal Himself to those who seek Him.

Without an ability to understand, trust, apply, and walk in the truths of Scripture in a practical, and meaningful way in our everyday life, believers miss the benefits, the  anointing, the power and the manifestation of the divine life God has ascribed for us. “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:6-7)...

“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:3-5)...

Scripture is indeed, “profitable for reproof, for correction, and for instruction.” However, its profit does not stop on the level of doctrine. Scripture must move from the head to the heart to accomplish the purpose for which it is intended…

Relationship with God imparts wisdom. Similarly, one must grow in this relationship with God to increase their capacity to understand Scripture, as well as apply and execute the principles. You cannot have a relationship with anyone if you do not know him or her. This is why we are instructed, “”But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).

The Kingdom of God is living by God’s way; His love, principles, order, wisdom, commandments, and code of ethics.

God’s love and commands can be compared to parents’ rules for their children. Parents guide their children not only, so they can be good, but also for their own good for the benefit of their well being because they love them. Just as loving parents, God has instituted certain rules, commands and principles for the benefit of our well being, our protection, and our “wholeness.”  “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

As humbling as it may seem, we cannot run this race in our own merits. Eventually our human fragility will reveal our dependence for our Maker. In the Book of Micah 6:8 the prophet said, “What doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”

Admitting you can’t do it all yourself is not a weakness, it is a strength! Tragedy, desperation, loss, brokenness, depression, hopelessness, and fear, these too, can serve a purpose, because they have a tendency to direct our attention and draw us closer to God. The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 119:71, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.”…

Agape love, defined in Greek as “brotherly love, affection, good will, love, benevolence and charity” is exemplified in Christ’s sacrificial love on the Cross of Calvary. Christianity is a personal and intimate love relationship with God. Christians should be characterized by love not only in words, but also in deeds. Love is what love does.

As followers of Christ, we should be accountable when we hear the Word of God, accountable to share the Word of God, and accountable to obey the Word of God. Our accountability is to God and to each other. “…Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples” (John 15:8).

The absolutes of God’s Word provide spiritual wisdom for a sure foundation that promotes right thinking and right attitudes, right direction and right choices, core values and ethical priorities, power and freedom.

Christ calls for us to, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly [humble] in heart” and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matthew 11:29, emphasis added). “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32, emphasis added). The word disciple means “a pupil, a learner,” which is a continual discipline and process of “renewing the mind” in transforming from the inside, out.

To learn, obviously, requires knowledge and pristine knowledge requires disciplined study. Studying the Bible helps us to know the truth. As students of the Bible, we must search the Scriptures personally, first hand, to see what God says. Pastoral ministry is important; however, our due diligence is of equal importance. We see the practice in Acts 17:11, “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”

Many Christians have only a secondhand knowledge of the Bible and rely almost exclusively on the input of pastoral ministry.  While this may be the norm; however, there should be a responsibility to, individually, study the Bible with diligence, prayer, commitment, and spiritual discernment. Truth is paramount; Scripture calls for the believer to “worship God in spirit and in truth.” When we study God’s Word, we will know His truth and we will be able to recognize a lie or a half-truth when we hear one, as well as worship God effectively….

Jesus commanded the Apostles and believers to,

"Go then and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you, and behold, I am with you all the days (perpetually, uniformly, and on every occasion), to the [very] close and  consummation of the age. Amen (so let it be)" (Matthew 28:19-24 – AMP).

…as you go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand! Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, drive out demons. Freely (without pay) you have received, freely (without charge) give. Matthew 10:7 –AMP, emphasis added

"Go into all the world and preach and publish openly the good news (the Gospel) to every creature [of the whole human race]. He who believes [who adheres to and trusts in and relies on the Gospel and Him Whom it sets forth] and is baptized will be saved [from the penalty of eternal death]; but he who does not believe [who does not adhere to and trust in and rely on the Gospel and Him Whom it sets forth] will be condemned.

And these attesting signs will accompany those who believe: in My name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new languages [tongues];

They will pick up serpents; and [even] if they drink anything deadly, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will get well" ( Mark 16:15-18, emphasis added). - Divine Healing

(Serpent, Greek translation - Ophis ) - with the ancients, the serpent was an emblem of cunning and wisdom. The serpent who deceived Eve was regarded by the Jews as the devil.

“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14 NKJV). - End of Age Prophecies

The faith of Christianity is taught by Jesus Christ in reference to the Good News of the Kingdom of God. The Christian faith is faith and relationship with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, not a religion. God has revealed Himself in history through Jesus Christ, His Son. God calls upon all people to turn to Jesus and accept Him as their Lord and Savior. Why Jesus?

Christians believe in the act of salvation, where God saves and forgives all who call upon Him and trust in His Son. In doing so they are adopted into His kingdom as children of God, and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, eternal life, AND Jesus as their mediator and intercessor. A true Christian worldview holds Jesus as the center of all things. Christians are to live their lives each day under Christ’s loving Lordship and His grace in the principle of love.

As Christians we are instructed, “that men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1). Prayer not only establishes a relationship with God, it is vital to maintain our relationship with God. A meaningful relationship is dependent on intimacy and quality two-way communication. Therefore, your relationship with the Lord will never grow and develop without communication... - The Power of Prayer and Faith...Learn How to Pray Effectively

Once we make our petitions, we should then listen to what the Holy Spirit has to say to us. – Rebirth Spirit Filled and Spirit Led…Spiritual Resources Understanding the Holy Spirit

In the act of prayer God chooses to work through us, so that that when we pray God’s will is accomplished through us. God chooses to use us as His vessels, as representatives of Christ, in accomplishing His purposes and allows us to participate in the execution of His power through our prayers. - Christ in You and You in Christ

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Statement of Christian Faith

www.globalmediaoutreach.com

"Copyright Global Media Outreach. All rights reserved. Used by permission"

  • There is one true God, eternally existing in three persons -- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit -- each of whom possesses equally all the attributes of Deity and the characteristics of personality.

  • Jesus Christ is God, the living Word, who became flesh through His miraculous conception by the Holy Spirit and His virgin birth. Hence, He is perfect Deity and true humanity united in one person forever.

  • Jesus lived a sinless life and voluntarily atoned for the sins of men by dying on the cross as their substitute, thus satisfying divine justice and accomplishing salvation for all who trust in Him alone.

  • Jesus rose from the dead in the same body, though glorified, in which He lived and died.

  • Jesus ascended bodily into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God the Father, where He, the only mediator between God and man, continually makes intercession for His own.

  • Man was originally created in the image of God. He sinned by disobeying God; thus, he was alienated from his Creator. That historic fall brought all mankind under divine condemnation.

  • Man's nature is corrupted, and he is thus totally unable to please God. Every man is in need of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit.

  • The salvation of man is wholly a work of God's free grace and is not the work, in whole or in part, of human works or goodness or religious ceremony. God imputes His righteousness to those who put their faith in Christ alone for their salvation, and thereby justified them in His sight.

  • It is the privilege of all who are born again of the Spirit to be assured of their salvation from the very moment in which they trust Christ as their Savior. This assurance is not based upon any kind of human merit, but is produced by the witness of the Holy Spirit, who confirms in the believer the testimony of God in His written word.

  • The Holy Spirit has come into the world to reveal and glorify Christ and to apply the saving work of Christ to men. He convicts and draws sinners to Christ, imparts new life to them, continually indwells them from the moment of spiritual birth and seals them until the day of redemption. His fullness, power and control are appropriated in the believer's life by faith.

  • Every believer is called to live so in the power of the indwelling Spirit that he will not fulfill the lust of the flesh but will bear fruit to the glory of God.

  • Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church, His Body, which is composed of all men, living and dead, who have been joined to Him through saving faith.

  • God admonishes His people to assemble together regularly for worship,  for edification through the Scriptures and for mutual encouragement.

  • At physical death the believer enters immediately into eternal, conscious fellowship with the Lord and awaits the resurrection of his body to everlasting glory and blessing.

  • At physical death the unbeliever enters immediately into eternal, conscious separation from the Lord and awaits the resurrection of his body to everlasting judgment and condemnation.

  • Jesus Christ will come again to the earth -- personally, visibly and bodily -- to consummate history and the eternal plan of God.

  • The Lord Jesus Christ commanded all believers to proclaim the Gospel throughout the world and to disciple men of every nation. The fulfillment of that Great Commission requires that all worldly and personal ambitions be subordinated to a total commitment to "Him who loved us and gave Himself for us."

www.christianitytoday.org

Copyright   Christianity Today International. Used by permission.

  • The sixty-six canonical books of the Bible as originally written were inspired of God, hence free from error. They constitute the only infallible guide in faith and practice.

  • There is one God, the Creator and Preserver of all things, infinite in being and perfection. He exists eternally in three Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, who are of one substance and equal in power and glory.

  • God created Adam and Eve in his own image. By disobedience, they fell from their sinless state through the temptation by Satan. This fall plunged humanity into a state of sin and spiritual death, and brought upon the entire race the sentence of eternal death. From this condition we can be saved only by the grace of God, through faith, on the basis of the work of Christ, and by the agency of the Holy Spirit.

  • The eternally pre-existent Son became incarnate without human father, by being born of the Virgin Mary. Thus, in the Lord Jesus Christ, divine and human natures were united in one Person, both natures being whole, perfect, and distinct. To effect salvation, he lived a sinless life and died on the cross as the sinner's substitute, shedding his blood for the remission of sins. On the third day he rose from the dead in the body which had been laid in the tomb. He ascended to the right hand of the Father, where he performs the ministry of intercession. He shall come again, personally and visibly, to complete his saving work and to consummate the eternal plan of God.

  • The Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Triune God. He applies to man the work of Christ. By justification and adoption we are given a right standing before God; by regeneration, sanctification, and glorification our nature is renewed.

  • At the end of the age, the bodies of the dead shall be raised. The righteous shall enter into full possession of eternal bliss in the presence of God, and the wicked shall be condemned to eternal death.

  • When we have turned to God in penitent faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, we are accountable to God for living a life separated from sin and characterized by the fruit of the Spirit. It is our responsibility to contribute by word and deed to the universal spread of the Gospel.

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The Cross of Calvary

www.christinyou.net by James A. Fowler. All rights reserved.

Excerpts - The death of Jesus Christ on a cross is an important truth of the Christian gospel. In fact, it is crucial to the gospel, the crux of the message, if we might employ additional English words derived from the Latin word crux, from which we also derive the English word "cross."..

There are abundant examples in history where most of the ancient cultures utilized the cross as an execution instrument. The Phoenicians, Egyptians, Persians, Carthaginians, Greeks and Romans all employed this death device. Although the Jews employed stoning as their primary method of execution, they were well acquainted with the use of the cross by other cultures to execute to their own people.

Death by crucifixion was an especially cruel and agonizing way to die. The Romans employed this form of execution primarily for slaves, although it was also used for foreigners, traitors and the most despicable of criminals. It was generally regarded as too degrading to be utilized for Roman citizens.

Execution on a cross was a public display of capital punishment. Crosses were quite visible on the hills surrounding major towns and alongside the Roman roads. The visibility of these executions was considered to be a deterrent to further crime in the society. The condemned criminal was often forced to carry the wooden timber, or at least the cross-beam, the patibulum, to the site of his own execution, thus exposing himself as an object of public reproach…

The Material Object -- The Cross - On one of the many timber stakes affixed in the ground outside of Jerusalem, Jesus was suspended in order to be executed. It was no doubt a stake that had been used many times previously to execute others. The material object itself was no different than thousands of other such instruments constructed by the Romans. But the One who was to be affixed to that specific execution instrument was unique among men; He was the Son of God. Henceforth that specific cross would be referred to as "the" cross on which Jesus Christ died…

Other biblical references to the material cross on which Jesus died may include Phil. 2:8 where Paul writes of Jesus being "obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross," and Col. 2:14 where it is recorded that God has taken "the certificate of debt...out of the way, having nailed it to the cross." Hebrews 12:2 also refers to Jesus enduring "the cross, despising the shame." By their context these references carry with them additional historical and theological implications, as we will continue to explore…

The Theological Significance of the Cross - The historical event of Christ's death by crucifixion has eternal theological significance because of the identity of the One who was crucified. Jesus Christ, God's Son, had become incarnated as a man, and "came to give His life a ransom for many" (Matt. 20:28; Mark 10:45; I Tim. 2:6).

In His death on the cross Jesus was taking the death consequence of sin for all mankind. This He could do in that He was the sinless Savior enacting a consequential spiritual solidarity with the whole human race. The first man, Adam, had enacted a consequential spiritual solidarity, when by his sin all men died spiritually (Rom. 5:12), were constituted "sinners" spiritually (Roman. 5:19), and were condemned (Rom. 5:18) to everlasting death. God had originally told Adam in the garden, "In the day that you eat thereof" from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, "dying you shall die" (Genesis 2:17). The consequence of sin was death in its various spiritual, psychological and physical forms.

Jesus, the Son of God, was incarnated as the God-man, who as man could experience the death consequences of sin, who as sinless man could take those death consequences vicariously and substitutionally for all man, and who as God could restore divine life to man spiritually in order to restore functional humanity. As a man Jesus incurred all the death consequences that had occurred in Adam. As a sinless man death had no right to Him personally and could not hold Him. As God He could thus save us from the consequences of sin and further expression of sin by becoming life within us. Jesus "came to give His life a ransom for many" (Matt. 20:28). Jesus "came that we might have life" (John 10:10). The death of Jesus on a cross is the remedial action precedent to the restorative action of God's indwelling life in man. The remedial purpose of death and the restorative purpose of life are inseparable in the consideration of the theological significance of the death of Jesus Christ on a cross.

While still suspended from the cross and facing imminent physical death, Jesus exclaimed, "Tetelestai!" The word is translated into English as, "It is finished!" (John 19:30) (The perfect tense is used, indicating completed action in the past, the consequences of which remain unto the present). To amplify the meaning, it could be translated "completed," "accomplished," "fulfilled," "brought to its intended end." Evidence exists that in first century times this word, "tetelestai," was inscribed on certificates of indebtedness when they were paid-off.4 The meaning would thus be, "Completed," "Fulfilled," "It is finished," "Paid in full." This is enlightening when we consider Paul's comment in Col. 2:14 about the "certificate of debt" having been taken out of the way, having been "nailed to the cross." Sin presented an indebtedness of condemnation; the Law presented an impossible indebtedness of performance, a big "IOU" before God. In the death of Jesus Christ this has been "Paid in full," "It is finished." There is no more death sentence. There is no more condemnation. There is no more indebtedness. There are no more performance requirements. Such is the "finished work" of Jesus Christ.

When Jesus cried, "It is finished," from the cross as He was dying, He knew He had set in motion the complete enactment of the finished work of God's intent for the restoration of mankind and creation. Redemption, whereby we are "bought with a price" (I Cor. 6:20; 7:23) which has been "paid in full" by the death of Jesus, is the remedial aspect, whereas regeneration is the restorative factor wherein the life of God once again indwells the spirit of a man who is receptive to such in faith.

Thus we see that reference to the "cross" on which Jesus died necessarily conveys the theological significance of the "finished work" of God for and in man by His Son, Jesus Christ, inclusive of the death, burial, resurrection, ascension, Pentecostal outpouring and complete eschatalogical expectations. Though the material cross was specifically but the instrument of physical death, mention of the "cross" throughout the rest of the New Testament will always encompass that great cry from the cross, "It is finished," and the consequent restoration of God's life to His creation.

W. Ian Thomas writes,
"...it is essential that you should realize that His cross was the means to an end; for to confuse the means for the end is to rob the Lord Jesus of that for which He came.

He came that you might have life! His life -- imparted to you by the renewing of the Holy Spirit on the grounds of redemption... He came to restore to you all that makes the mystery of godliness an open secret -- the presence of the Living God within a human soul."5

"The word of the cross...to us who are being saved, it is the power of God." (I Cor. 1:18) The comprehensive theological significance of the death of Jesus comprises the divine dynamic of the life of Christ in the Christian. Christians who are "being saved" from the dysfunction of fallen humanity receive that divine dynamic in order to function as God intended.

Religion and all its "works" programs have been exposed as frauds by the "finished work" of Christ. Consequently they are quick to denigrate and persecute those who teach and live by the grace-work of God in Christ. Paul explains that the religionists "try to compel you to be circumcised, that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ" (Gal. 6:12). They do not want to be persecuted and mocked by other religionists for preaching the grace of God in the activity of Jesus Christ alone. Paul then declares, "may it never be that I should boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Gal. 6:14). Paul never wants to boast in what he has done by self-effort or performance, only in what Christ has done and continues to do -- the "finished work."

Christ's "finished work" reconciles both Jew and Gentile into one new creation, new humanity, new body, "through the cross" (Eph. 2:16). The remedial action of Christ's death and the restorative action of Christ's life is for all men universally, and is the means whereby they are restored to functional humanity, functional society and community by the functional life of God in man.

Likewise, "all things" are reconciled to God by His "having made peace through the blood of the cross" (Col. 1:20). The alienation of the whole creation was due to sin, the consequence of sin was death, and death has been taken by Jesus Christ. Reconciliation, peace, the restoration of all things, the restoration of creation has been effected by the "finished work" of Jesus.

Secondly, Paul writes that our "old man" has been crucified together with Christ. The designation "old man" signifies our spiritual identity when we were a "man of old" in our old spiritual condition of unregeneracy. Our pre-Christian identity was that of a "natural man" (I Cor. 2:14), a "child of wrath" (Eph. 2:3), an "old man." That "old man" identity was "laid aside" (Eph. 4:22; Col. 3:9 - both aorist tense verbs) when we became Christians and received a "new man" identity (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10). The old spiritual identity of the unregenerate Jim Fowler is forever dead, having died with Jesus. I now have a new spiritual identity as a "new creature" (II Cor. 5:17) in Christ, a "child of God" (John 1:12), a "spiritual" man (I Cor. 2:15; Gal. 6:1), a Christ-one - "Christian." This was made effective for me, in me, spiritually when I received Jesus Christ by faith at conversion and regeneration. The "old man" is not synonymous with the "flesh" or "indwelling sin" that remains residually in the soul of the Christian, nor is it to be equated with the unbiblical phrases such as "old nature," "sin-nature," "Adam-nature," "self," "sin-principle," etc.

Thirdly, Paul explains that when this exchange of spiritual identity has taken place, our "old man" identity having been terminated and put to death and our "new man" identity established in identification with the indwelling life of Jesus Christ, this spiritual exchange has practical implications for our behavioral expression. We are no longer "slaves to sin" inevitably expressing the character of our old spiritual identification. Our physical bodies are no longer to be employed as the vehicle of sin expression, for such is misrepresentative of our new identity and the character of Christ who now lives in us as Christians. Our behavior is intended to be a consistent expression of our new identity -- of the life of Christ. When writing to the Ephesians and Colossians, Paul also explains that the "new man" identity is to issue forth in consistent behavior (Eph. 4:25-32; Col. 3:12-17). We are to behave as who we have become "in Christ."

The important observation which must now be made is that all of this action has been completed, accomplished and fulfilled in the "finished work" of Jesus Christ exclaimed from the cross. There is no on-going, continuous process of enacting, engaging, applying or appropriating the crucifixion of Jesus in the life of a Christian. The effects of the crucifixion of Jesus were a completed objective reality at the time of Jesus' death, burial, resurrection, ascension and Pentecostal outpouring and were subjectively realized individually at the Christian's conversion. "If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature, the old things passed away (aorist tense); behold, new things have come (perfect tense)" (II Cor. 5:17). Every Christian has accepted spiritual solidarity with all that Christ has done and spiritual identification with the death and life of Christ.

The Message of the Cross -- The Gospel - In exposing the unBiblical mystic applications of the cross, we must not over-react by failing to proclaim the eternal efficacy of Christ's death on the cross and all the implications thereof. The death of Jesus on the cross is indeed a central factor in the whole redemptive and restorative action of God's grace. By His death Jesus took our deserved death in order that we might have His life. He did not take our death that we might have His death, as the inner-crucifixionists indicate.

The message of the cross is the message of the completed, finished work of God in Christ. The message of the cross is the message of an empty cross whereupon all crucifixion activity has ceased, for Jesus Christ has risen from the dead and come to live within the Christian. The message of the cross is the message of liberating freedom to be all that God intends us to be by His grace in the out-living of His character.

Such a message is the only "good news" available to mankind -- the grace of God in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Paul refers to "preaching the gospel" in I Cor. 1:17, and then in the next verse refers to the content of that gospel as "the word of the cross," which he continues to explain is "to us who are being saved, the power of God" (I Cor. 1:18). The "good news" of the gospel is not the "power of the cross," but the "power of God," as Paul also wrote in Romans 1:16.

Anything other than recognition of God's power of grace in the "finished work" of Jesus Christ, will inevitably be some kind of self-effort that makes void the cross of Christ (I Cor. 1:17). Paul continues in his correspondence with the Corinthians to declare that "we preach Christ crucified" (I Cor. 1:23), and are "determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified" (I Cor. 2:2). Later, to the Galatians he explains that he will boast in nothing "except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Gal. 6:14). Eschewing all boasting in personal performance, Paul would boast and proclaim only that Jesus Christ had performed everything necessary for our redemption on the cross and continues to perform everything necessary in the Christian life by His grace. Whenever we read of the "cross" or "Christ crucified" in the Pauline epistles, we should always think of the "finished work" of Christ, the completion of which He exclaimed during that historical event on that material cross. Therein is the "good news" of the cross, which would otherwise be "bad news" indeed.

The proclamation of the "finished work" of God in Christ, whereby God has done and is doing everything necessary for man's salvation, including sanctification, will always be regarded as scandalous by natural man. It is contrary to all the conventional wisdom of the world which believes that we must be the cause of our own effects and that which is worth having should be worked for. Proclaiming the "finished work" of God in Christ deals a "death-blow" to the human pride of personal performance. That "death-blow" was dealt when Jesus died on the cross and exclaimed just prior to His imminent death, "It is finished!" (John 19:30).

Read in entirety...www.christinyou.net

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The Kingdom of God

Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. - Matthew 4:23

This gospel of the kingdom of God will be preached in throughout the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then will come the end. - Matthew 24:14

The gospel of the kingdom of God is the person of Jesus, the Christ. It is the viewpoint, reality and truth that Jesus, the Son of God is the sovereign Creator, ruler, Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End; and King of kings and Lord of lords of both heaven (the invisible domain-physical heaven) and earth, its (visible manifestation). Jesus is the only way to God: John 14.6 – Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

The kingdom of God is the governing sovereignty of God’s will, purpose, order, authority, power and intent; and the citizens who reflect His culture and express His nature.

The word “kingdom” is an old English term meaning government. In other words, Christ preached “the good news of the government of God.”

There are four necessary components of any kingdom: (1) Land, property or territory. In other words, one must have a specific and definite set of boundaries establishing the size of the kingdom, (2) a ruler, king, monarch or governor leading the government, (3) people or subjects living within the territory governed, and (4) a system of laws and commands and a basic structure of government. See The Two Kingdoms

There is both a physical kingdom, the one that we see; and a spiritual kingdom, "And that the kingdom of God does not come with observation, for the kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:20-21).

The Greek translation for kingdom is basileia meaning, “royal power, kingship, dominion, and rule.” Basileia “is not to be confused with an actual kingdom but rather the right or authority to rule over kingdom-of the royal power of Jesus as the triumphant Messiah-and of the royal power and dignity conferred on Christians in the Messiah’s kingdom.” - Christ in You and You in Christ

The central truth of the gospel is that God has provided a way of salvation for men through the gift of His Son to the world. Jesus, the Son of God, suffered an horrific death as a sacrifice for mankind's sin, overcame death, resurrected and ascended to heaven, seated on the right hand of God, and now offers a share in His triumph to all who will accept it.

What is the Gospel?

Gospel translated means "good news". The gospel is good news because it is a gift of God, not something that must be earned by works or good deeds, penance or by self-improvement. (Romans 5:8-11, John 3:16, Titus 3:5-7, 2 Corinthians 5:14-19). A right relationship with God is achieved through faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and not by our works, or combination of our works and God's grace.  "But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace." (Romans 11:6 - NASB).

The gospel is the message of the good news of salvation, the Word of truth offered to mankind by grace (unmerited favor) through faith in the finished work of Christ on the Cross. It is a message not only of eternal life, but one that encompasses the total plan of God to redeem people from the ravages of sin, death, Satan, sickness, poverty and the curse that now covers the earth.

In the New Testament, the various messages of the good news of what God offers us are:

WE ARE LOVED - God loves us, and created us to be in a personal relationship with Himself. This relationship is not about rituals or regulations, but God wants to walk and talk with us.

"A time will come, however, indeed it is already here, when the true (genuine) worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth (reality); for the Father is seeking just such people as these as His worshipers" (John 4:23).

"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).

"But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).

WE ARE FORGIVEN - In Christ, God no longer remembers our sins:

"And their sins and their lawbreaking I will remember no more. Now where there is absolute remission (forgiveness and cancellation of the penalty) of these [sins and lawbreaking], there is no longer any offering made to atone for sin" (Hebrews 10:17-18).

Mankind is born into sin, with a  sinful nature; "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). And because of this sin, we are separated from God and cannot know Him personally, apart from Jesus, the Christ. 

"If we say we have no sin [refusing to admit that we are sinners], we delude and lead ourselves astray, and the Truth [which the Gospel presents] is not in us [does not dwell in our hearts]" (1 John 1:8).

The punishment for sin is death: Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. "Now this is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent" (John 17:3).

God wants to be in a relationship with us, but our sin, which can be anything from active rebellion against God to passive indifference towards God, makes it impossible for us to have fellowship with God. Our own efforts to reach God, like trying to live a good life or pursuing philosophy/religion, will always fail. But, in Christ:

WE ARE RECONCILED - Jesus Christ paid the penalty for our sin on the Cross, so that we can be reconciled to God. Through Him alone, we can enter into a personal relationship with God.

Romans 5:10 - For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, it is much more [certain], now that we are reconciled, that we shall be saved (daily delivered from sin’s dominion) through His [resurrection] life.

2 Corinthians 5:18-21 - But all things are from God, Who through Jesus Christ reconciled us to Himself [received us into favor, brought us into harmony with Himself] and gave to us the ministry of reconciliation [that by word and deed we might aim to bring others into harmony with Him].

It was God [personally present] in Christ, reconciling and restoring the world to favor with Himself, not counting up and holding against [men] their trespasses [but cancelling them], and committing to us the message of reconciliation (of the restoration to favor).

So we are Christ’s ambassadors, God making His appeal as it were through us. We [as Christ’s personal representatives] beg you for His sake to lay hold of the divine favor [now offered you] and be reconciled to God.

For our sake He made Christ [virtually] to be sin Who knew no sin, so that in and through Him we might become [endued with, viewed as being in, and examples of] the righteousness of God [what we ought to be, approved and acceptable and in right relationship with Him, by His goodness].

WE ARE REDEEMED - Christ purchased our freedom [redeeming us] from the curse (doom) of the Law [and its condemnation] by [Himself] becoming a curse for us, for it is written [in the Scriptures], Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree (is crucified); 14 To the end that through [their receiving] Christ Jesus, the blessing [promised] to Abraham might come upon the Gentiles, so that we through faith might [all] receive [the realization of] the promise of the [Holy] Spirit. - Galatians 3:13-14

In Him [Jesus] we have redemption (deliverance and salvation) through His blood, the remission (forgiveness) of our offenses (shortcomings and trespasses), in accordance with the riches and the generosity of His gracious favor. - Ephesians 1:7

But it is from Him that you have your life in Christ Jesus, Whom God made our Wisdom from God, [revealed to us a knowledge of the divine plan of salvation previously hidden, manifesting itself as] our Righteousness [thus making us upright and putting us in right standing with God], and our Consecration [making us pure and holy], and our Redemption [providing our ransom from eternal penalty for sin]. - 1 Corinthians 1:30

WE ARE JUSTIFIED - Justification is a legal declaration of a sinner being righteous; although, it does not make us righteous. Justification is a pronouncement to clear the guilty. When one is justified, he is declared right before the Lord; he is pardoned and cleared of any violation. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him” (Romans 5:9).

WE ARE RESURRECTED - from the dead at Christ's second coming to either eternal condemnation to those who have rejected Jesus as  their personal Savior - or eternal life to those who have accepted Jesus as their Savior, to reign with God. “Having [the same] hope in God which these themselves hold and look for, that there is to be a resurrection both of the righteous and the unrighteous (the just and the unjust)” (Acts 24:15). - AMP

"And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is mere delusion [futile, fruitless], and you are still in your sins [under the control and penalty of sin]; And further, those who have died in [spiritual fellowship and union with] Christ have perished (are lost)!

If we who are [abiding] in Christ have hope only in this life and that is all, then we are of all people most miserable and to be pitied. But the fact is that Christ (the Messiah) has been raised from the dead, and He became the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep [in death]” (1 Corinthians 15:17-20).

WE ARE PARTAKERS OF THE GIFTS AND POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT - The resurrection validates the doorway and access to the person of the Holy Spirit. In other words, the resurrection which resulted in the glorified Savior is the means for the Lord’s ascension and exaltation to the right hand of God, and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit within the Christian.

Jesus declares, "I am telling you nothing but the truth when I say it is profitable (good, expedient, advantageous) for you that I go away. Because if I do not go away, the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Advocate, Intercessor, Strengthener, Standby) will not come to you [into close fellowship with you]; but if I go away, I will send Him to you [to be in close fellowship with you]…" (John 16:7-16).

“But you shall receive power (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends (the very bounds) of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

“For His divine power has bestowed upon us all things that [are requisite and suited] to life and godliness, through the [full, personal] knowledge of Him Who called us by and to His own glory and excellence (virtue).

By means of these He has bestowed on us His precious and exceedingly great promises, so that through them you may escape [by flight] from the moral decay (rottenness and corruption) that is in the world because of covetousness (lust and greed), and become sharers (partakers) of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:3-4).

WE ARE GIVEN ACCESS OF JESUS' SPIRITUAL AUTHORITY - To those who are in Christ,  are also empowered to walk as representatives of Christ in His resurrected life.

"The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you" (Romans 8:11) - NLT.

Behold! I have given you authority and power to trample upon serpents and scorpions, and [physical and mental strength and ability] over all the power that the enemy [possesses]; and nothing shall in any way harm you. - Luke 10:19

The same power that resurrected Jesus from death to life is available to you for healing, transformation, and empowerment, to walk in God’s supernatural power. The resurrection is - the foundation of Christianity.

The gospel (good news) is to, “know the truth, and the truth shall make you free… If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:32, 36).

The gospel of Jesus Christ in 2 Corinthians 4:4 and Romans 1:16 speaks of the good news of salvation that comes through the person and work of Jesus Christ. Again, this is good news of deliverance from sin’s penalty, power and presence through the two advents of Christ. “And the Word (Christ) became flesh (human, incarnate) and tabernacled (fixed His tent of flesh, lived awhile) among us; and we [actually] saw His glory (His honor, His majesty), such glory as an only begotten son receives from his father, full of grace (favor, loving-kindness) and truth” (John 1:14).

The gospel of the grace of God in Ephesians 2:8-9 emphasizes,  "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast."

Salvation in all of its aspects is on the basis of grace rather than on some merit based on a person’s system of works and their attempts for self-righteousness. John 3:17 - For while the Law was given through Moses, grace (unearned, undeserved favor and spiritual blessing) and truth came through Jesus Christ. 

The Broader Meaning of the Gospel - Popular notions about the term ‘gospel’ tend to limit it to the message of how one may receive eternal life through faith in Christ, but it is much broader than that. For instance, Paul says in Romans 1:16-17, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For the righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel from faith to faith, just as it is written, the righteous shall live by faith.”

In fact, the gospel gathers together all the truths that are found in the book of Romans. Therefore, we can conclude that Paul is expressing his confidence that the truths of justification, sanctification, and even glorification provide God’s power to deliver us from enslavement and bondage to sin. “But where sin increased and abounded, grace (God’s unmerited favor) has surpassed it and increased the more and super abounded” (Romans 5:20).

The gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15) describes how this good news of salvation in Christ is part of the believer’s armor in spiritual warfare through the victory accomplished by the Savior.

The eternal or everlasting gospel (Revelation 14:6-7)  - is the final, climactic, reference to the gospel in the Bible. It is called “everlasting,” so it can be no different from the gospel preached by Paul. In fact, it will be proclaimed by an angel from heaven, and Paul had specifically warned against any gospel preached by an angel if it was different from the gospel he preached (Galatians 1:8 - But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.)

This gospel as proclaimed by the angel has several key elements of gloriously good news that are in three commands:

Command #1: “Fear God.” This refers to a holy reverence that recognizes the sovereign authority and power of God to deal with man in His holy wrath and thus, to bring an end to the world of sin as we now know it. To fear God is to recognize Him as the true God who can destroy the soul and not just the body as God will do with the beast, anti-Christ and false prophet and their followers. - See End of Age Prophecies

Command #2: “Give Him glory.” This refers to the praise and honor that should accrue to God from mankind due to our recognition and high adoration of God as the sovereign majestic Creator of the universe.

Command #3: “...and worship Him who created heaven and earth... ” The word “worship” means to show reverence, honor and respect. This word emphasizes the external display as seen in our love, obedience, honor, prayer, humility, singing, and formal worship. The word “fear” emphasizes the reverential mental attitude behind the worship.

In the Tribulation people will be forced to fear and formally acknowledge and worship the beast and his image. In this message the angel is demanding that mankind reject the beast and formally turn to God to worship Him (Revelation 14:11-12).

Warnings about Another Gospel - One of the beautiful and joyful aspects of the message of salvation in Christ that makes it over the top good news is the element of grace and love (Acts 20:24). Salvation is the free gift of God to be received by faith alone in Christ alone (Revelation 22:17; Romans 4:4-5; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:4-5). But the message of grace goes contrary to the heart and thinking of man who intuitively thinks in terms of merit.

The apostle warned of those who offer a gospel of works for salvation rather than grace. We should remember, as Paul teaches if it is by grace, it is no longer by works and if by works, it is no longer by grace (see Romans 11:6). So in reality, any time someone teaches a gospel of works, it is not the gospel—a message of good news.

Experiencing God’s GRACE begins with trust in Christ, and that begins when we stop trusting in other sources and ourselves. God’s grace is exemplified when we look to Him as our source, provider, sustainer and healer.

WE RESPOND, SURRENDER and COMMIT - We respond by believing with our heart, repenting [changing one’s mind for better and to amend with abhorrence of one’s past sins] to conform to Jesus' image. And confessing Jesus as Lord and Savior of our life: "That if you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved" (Romans 10:9-10).

We surrender to His will. We surrender our lives, our families, our businesses, everything; it is then God can direct and lead us by His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, fellowship. We live for Him and through Him. "And He died for all, so that all those who live might live no longer to and for themselves, but to and for Him Who died and was raised again for their sake" (2 Corinthians 5:15).

We commit to Him by not worrying or not believing that what He has promised and conveyed in His Word will come to pass. We commit by obedience to His Word.

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   How Do You Receive the Gospel?

www.icr.org -   Institute for Creation Research. All Rights Reserved

“For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it” (Hebrews 4:2).

Throughout the earlier chapters of this book, the author compares Christ and His finished work (which brings salvation by grace through faith) to Moses and the Old Testament legal code, and details the catastrophic results of unbelief. The Jewish people of the day had, of course, rejected this message of faith in Christ and reaped the consequences.

But, the gospel had been preached both to the Jew and the Gentile, as our text teaches, with great results among the Gentiles. Evidently the hearing of the preached word (logos) had been “mixed with faith” among the Gentiles, but not among most of the Jews.

The Greek word from which “mixed” is translated is only used twice in the New Testament, the other used to describe the necessary amalgamation of various members of the body in making up the whole. “But God hath tempered [same word] the body together” (I Corinthians 12:24).

Outside of the New Testament the word refers primarily to the process by which an animal utilizes food for nutritive purposes. Through the chewing in the mouth, digestion in the stomach, and absorption in the bowels, the food is not only thoroughly “mixed,” but to the mixture are added many bodily fluids and functions which extract nutrition from the food and apply it to bodily health and growth.

What an analogy! The message of the gospel can be acknowledged and agreed to, but unless the hearer mixes the hearing of truth with believing faith, integrating heart and head, praying over, meditating on, and incorporating into practice these vital truths, they will “not profit them.” Spiritual health and growth will not result. JDM

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      Salvation [Saving Grace]

God’s love for us encompasses both mercy and grace. Mercy is the kindness and compassion in excess that goes beyond what is deserved. And grace is the recompense or reward of the favor, and the benefits, extended from mercy.

Grace is a constant theme in the Bible, and it culminates in the New Testament with the coming of, “grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).

The word translated "grace" in the New Testament comes from the Greek word charis, which means the following:

       I.          Grace

a.      That which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech

     II.          Good will, loving-kindness, favour

a.      of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues

    III.          What is due to grace

a.      the spiritual condition of one governed by the power of divine grace

b.      the token or proof of grace, benefit

c.      a gift of grace

d.      benefit, bounty

   IV.          Thanks, (for benefits, services, favours), recompense, reward

Grace can also be defined as God's sufficiency, or God's EMPOWERMENT in the life of the believer. God told Paul, "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness…" (2 Corinthians 12:9). That is, the grace of God in Paul enabled him and empowered him in his weakness. Another verse states, "And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work" (2 Corinthians 9:8).

Mercy withholds a punishment we deserve; grace gives a blessing we don't deserve.

 

www.understandingprayerandfaith.com

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name [Jesus] under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” - Acts 4:12

Jesus declared in John 10:10, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (John 6:51).

The plan of salvation would be incomplete without the blood of Jesus' sacrifice, His intercession on our behalf, authority in His name, and fellowship with Him as our divine Mediator. Through His name, by and through His blood, and by the Holy Spirit, we have authority and power in the spiritual realm. All of our spiritual blessings are obtained and made possible through the precious blood of Christ. “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power” (Colossians 2:9-10). The Holy Spirit intercedes through us, and Jesus intercedes for us.

The word for salvation in the Greek language is soteria, meaning “cure, recovery, and remedy.” Salvation saves us from the wrath of God. The Greek root word of salvation is sozo meaning, “to save, deliver or protect; heal, preserve, be (or make) whole.” The word salvation in the Bible is used in many different ways. The basic meaning is “deliverance from danger.”

Through the death, burial, Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus Christ, Jesus has brought about our salvation from the wrath of God, from sin, and from death. There are three kinds of death: physical death, spiritual death that is separation from God in this life; and eternal death that is separation from God forever.

Sin was disobedience to God and salvation brings about our obedience to God. The overall concept of salvation, virtually synonymous with redemption, includes a past, present, and future sense. As Christians, we were saved from the penalty of sin when God brought us to faith in Christ. We are presently being saved from the power of sin as the Holy Spirit sanctifies us, and we will someday be saved from the presence of sin when we meet Christ face-to-face in glory. This salvation, however, is not merely salvation from all these things; it is salvation to something. We are saved to worship, glorify, serve God and execute His will; by a Rebirth - Spirit Led

 

Source www.basicsofchristianity.com

Salvation is not an end in itself; rather, salvation is the first step of an exciting, challenging journey. When we accept Christ’s forgiveness and repent of our sin, we open the door to that relationship with God that He has created us for. Just because we’ve taken that first step, however, doesn’t mean the rest of the journey will be easy. The Bible never promises an easy, happy life for those who follow God. It DOES promise that God will be with us along the way and that He will provide for every need:

  • The LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. - Deuteronomy 31:8 

  • And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. -  2 Corinthians 9:8 

  • And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:19 

  • His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him…- 2 Peter 1:3 

There are certain principles, or foundational truths, that the Bible gives us to help us along in our walk. We won’t be able to prevent storms that shake us, but by building a strong foundation for our faith with these basic truths, we WILL be able to make it through the storms and grow from those experiences. (See Luke 6:46-49, “The Wise and Foolish Builders”). If we can understand and apply these principles, our journey with God will be off on a good start!

These truths are more than just theory: what we believe dramatically impacts how we live. When we believe lies, we live in defeat and wonder why our walk with God isn’t working. In fact, most spiritual problems and many psychological problems in our life are the result of lies we believe. An incorrect view of God or belief about how He views us is detrimental to our faith and will negatively impact our walk with Him. In contrast, those with healthy spiritual and emotional lives are usually that way because they are living in the light of the truth given us in God’s Word.

How do you receive salvation, and make Jesus your Lord and Savior?

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God the Source of All Things

Source www.created4health.org

The Heart of Idolatry: So why did people create idols, and what did they trust them for? Idols were looked to for guidance, power, and healing. It seems strange to us today that people would create idols out of man-made objects created by their own hands. But the reason it seems strange to us today is because the people trusted in the spirits or spirit world represented by the idols, or in some cases they may have believed that the idol itself was inhabited by spirit beings. Our materialistic culture, by contrast, believes primarily only in the physical world.

The heart of idolatry is looking to sources outside of God for our basic needs and desires in life. The idols that are erected flow out of our experiences in life, and the idol is an attempt to explain life apart from the Creator. Hence, when the Israelites were miraculously delivered from slavery to the Egyptians under the leadership of Moses, and when Moses went up on the mountain to receive the laws that were to govern them and did not return for 40 days, they assumed he was dead and they reinterpreted their experiences in life to find meaning apart from God. They assumed God had abandoned them and was no longer involved with their lives. Their experiences taught them that they had indeed been miraculously delivered from the powerful Egyptian army which was destroyed, so they had to attribute this reality in their life to something. Drawing upon their religious experience in Egypt, they decided to make an idol out of gold and use that image as a symbol of great power. (Read the story in Exodus 32)

The Function of Idols: The typical things people have historically looked to idols to provide for them are: guidance, wealth, fertility, and health. God, the Creator of heaven and earth, presents himself to his people as the sole source of these things we need and desire. God does not act like a “magician” by providing these things for us out of thin air, but most of the time he works through his natural order of creation which is upheld by his power.

The creation, however, is not a closed system, and God is not bound to its laws. He operates outside of it also, and in the person of Jesus, especially, we saw the power of the Creator in human form interact and overcome the limitations of the physical creation in many instances. Jesus walked on water, turned water into wine, immediately healed people’s diseases, and even raised people from physical death back to life.

But the decision as to when supernatural events happen always originates with God, and not the created beings. The prophets and other leaders at times were used by God to perform miracles, but the miracles were performed by God through them. “Magicians” on the other hand, those who truly perform magic (not just illusions), are interacting with the spiritual world being controlled by their own thoughts and desires, or those of the spirits who are also created beings.

Idolatry Today in the 21st Century - Are things any different today in terms of idolatry? It has taken on a different form, but it is in essence the same thing it has always been – trust in idols rather than God to supply our needs and desires. Modern-day culture has changed dramatically since the theory of Darwinian evolution came on the scene and dominated academics in western culture, so that today the physical world is exalted above all other realities. The spiritual world is either denied or ignored. Hence, creation of physical idols is very uncommon, because current culture ignores the unseen world that could be represented by such physical manifestations.


Spiritual Beliefs & Healing

www.understandingprayerandfaith.com

A person’s mindset is based on what they believe, what they have been taught, their culture and their experiences. And based on these things determines how they see life, and how they see God.

Knowledge, understanding of knowledge and the application of knowledge is power. A lack of knowledge and misunderstanding of knowledge produces wrong thinking. Wrong thinking produces wrong believing, and wrong believing produces wrong actions. Your belief system is fundamental, and it governs your life. Therefore, it is important to know why you believe what you believe. So how does that affect our prayers? If what you believe when you pray or what you believe about prayer is untrue, or principles you should know, but don’t know about prayer, then your prayers will be ineffective or not as effective as they could be. - Learn how to pray effectively...

Source www.created4health.org

What has replaced those idols, however, are beliefs in new ones. The most common idol in western culture today, by far, is medicine – the new “magic.” Modern day medicine has existed for a relatively short period of human history, and the creation of a body of licensed “physicians” can be traced back to the start of the vaccine movement in Europe in the 1800's, when health officials wanted more control over the population and what they perceived as threatening diseases like small pox.

Today, medicine is seen as the solution to almost all of life’s problems. A pill or vaccine exists now for just about every ailment or problem in life, and for those problems that don’t have a medical solution yet, billions of dollars are spent on research to find one. The belief system currently in place is that physical science and medicine can solve all problems in life.

The people who control the medical system are trained and licensed and given great authority to control our lives. Currently they have the authority to take children away from their parents, to declare someone “insane” or mentally disturbed and have them committed to an institution, force people (especially children) to use their products via vaccinations, and make sweeping laws and regulations that affect the lives of everyone. It is believed that life itself is dependent on medicine, and this belief system is used to justify the authority and power the medical system has in our culture.

How have we allowed this to happen? How does the population for the most part willingly believe in the medical system and give up so many of their freedoms and so much of their wealth to this system? There’s only one rational explanation: idolatry. We are simply repeating the same mistakes that have been made throughout history, when God is removed from our belief system and replaced with a belief in something else. We learn to trust in our idols instead.

If history lasts long enough, I predict that a day will come many years in the future that will look back at our current day and culture and have the same feelings of repulsion and disgust that those of us feel today when we look at ancient cultures that trusted in graven images and spirits in their idolatrous practice. “How could they be so foolish to trust in those things”, we think today, and in the future I suspect the same thoughts and questions will be pondered about our medical practices today.

The Weakness of the Medical Paradigm - The winds of change are blowing already; however, as many are beginning to see just how far we have come in this blind trust we have in medicine. Some are stepping back to try and take an objective look at the effectiveness of our drugs, and what is being seen are some very troubling facts that can no longer be denied.

First, depending on which set of statistics you look at, deaths from legally prescribed medicines and the administration of the medical system is seen as either the number one cause of death in the US today1, or the number three cause of death just behind cancer and heart disease2. This would include deaths from prescription drugs and hospital mistakes that are preventable. All of the statistics used to reach a conclusion like this are from standard published reports that come out of the medical system itself. Yet this is not widely reported in mainstream media, because of the belief that medicine and the medical system is necessary for life, and that therefore we have no choice but to put up with these mistakes and accidental deaths that are a direct cause of medicine.

Anything that is put forward as an alternative to the medical system for health is generally attacked and declared illegal, and if those from within the medical system decide to become “whistle-blowers” to speak up and try to reveal the failures of the medical system, they are usually attacked and they often lose their careers.

This is especially true in the vaccine movement right now, which seeks to greatly increase the number of vaccines required to immunize children and now even teenagers and adults. Hundreds of thousands of parents know first-hand that vaccines have either killed or permanently damaged their children (and this is even backed up by statistics in the VAERS - Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System – government database), and yet the medical establishment continues to deny there are any problems in the face of overwhelming evidence.

While great wealth and profits are definitely tied into the vaccine and medical industry as a whole, I believe that the overriding motivation is a belief system, and not necessarily strictly a profit motive (although the profit motive is also a huge factor!) For vaccines, the belief is that if everyone is not vaccinated, dangerous viruses and diseases will spread through society and threaten life itself – the very existence of the human race. That belief, however, is not backed by objective science. It is simply a belief system, based on historical plagues and what future plagues could potentially do. It is a belief system that feeds on fear and makes no consideration that there is a God who has ultimate control over his creation.

Secondly, people are now starting to look objectively at the effectiveness of medicines, and what they are finding is very disturbing. This is especially true when it comes to psychotropic drugs within the field of psychiatry. Psychiatry is presented as a part of medical practice that supposedly has its basis in biological science, but it just simply is not true. There are currently no biological tests that can diagnose mental illness. None. Drugs are prescribed simply on symptoms. It is a $330 billion industry, and the number of antidepressant drugs prescribed has doubled in less than one decade.

Most people don’t realize that the diseases these psychotropic drugs are supposed to treat are diseases that psychiatrists vote on to include in their “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders” (DSM)3. There are no objective tests to detect these “diseases,” and the numbers of defined diseases that go into the DSM are increasing at an alarming rate, and now include such things that in the past were considered within the realm of normal behavior. One of the largest and most controversial ones is “attention deficit disorder” which is increasingly being used to prescribe strong drugs for children that are “over active” and have “behavior problems.” Even unhappiness is now considered a disease, and drugs can be prescribed for that too. Critics point out that the DSM is so large now, that it can now cover the behavior patterns of the entire human population, and effectively label everyone now as having a mental illness. What a huge market for their drugs!

As editor of Health Impact News, seldom does a week day go by where I don’t see at least one story, and many now from mainstream media sources, questioning the validity of this increase in antidepressant drugs and their dangers4. These drugs are now being implicated in the increasing school shootings we are seeing so frequently in the news5, and to an alarming increase in suicide among our youth6. They are also being increasingly used with the elderly population who are often defenseless to defend themselves and stand up for their rights7.

Idolatry is the reason we have allowed this medical system, which is so wrongly labeled as “healthcare”, to become as powerful as it is today. Some may think after reading this that I am opposed to all drugs and anything involved with the medical system. That is not the case. There are real drugs that are based on real science that obviously have great benefit, and can save lives. Antibiotics are a case in point. But our blind trust in antibiotics has led to such an abuse and overuse that they are losing their effectiveness. This is because over 80% of all antibiotics are used on animals8 in our industrial agricultural system, and it is estimated that of the other 20% or so used to treat human illnesses, about 90% of those cases antibiotics are used unnecessarily. If we continue to follow the current path we are taking, some feel that antibiotics will completely lose their effectiveness, making it impossible to perform life-saving procedures like surgeries or emergency room trauma9.

Many today are recognizing the faults of the medical system, and they are seeing that what is labeled as “science” to justify this system of treating diseases is in fact primarily a belief system and not really science at all10. “Scientific” studies that are published in peer-reviewed journals regarding new drugs or vaccines are almost exclusively funded by the drug companies themselves, with tremendous conflicts of interest.11 Researchers are now looking into the published studies used to approve drugs, and they are finding that many of these studies are fraudulent and need to be retracted.12

The Solution to Idolatry

There is a solution to this mess we have created:

This is what the LORD says— your Redeemer, the Holy One… "I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea. Your descendants would have been like the sand, your children like its numberless grains; their name would never be cut off nor destroyed from before me." (Isaiah 48:17-19)

The cure for idolatry is belief and trust in God our Creator and Redeemer. The Redeemer Messiah had not yet been born during the days of the prophet Isaiah, but we live in a day and age after He has been born, and His name is Jesus Christ. Faith in God our Creator and the Redeemer Jesus, is the opposite of idolatry, and recognizes that life depends on God the Creator, and that redemption, the forgiveness of sins and spiritual rebirth, comes from a relationship with Jesus. When we trust in God, we trust in his word, and this is his word to us:I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.

Don’t put your trust in the medical system! If you need to use it, make sure you have sought the Lord first, and that he is the one leading you to the right people and the right solutions. The prescription for dealing with sickness in biblical times was to seek counsel from spiritual leaders, not doctors. Life is not dependent on the medical system, as we are led to believe. Often there are natural solutions that are more effective without the toxic side effects, and even supernatural ones if your belief system does not exclude belief in the supernatural. God is the author of all life, and he is the one who upholds it. Seek him first, and depend only on him!

I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. "You shall have no other gods before me, "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. (Exodus 20:2-6 – the first of the 10 commandments)

Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. (James 5:14-16)

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Where to Find Answers to Your Questions

Online Resources to Help You Defend Your Faith

There is a wealth of resources and organizations whose sole mission is to help the believer become better equipped to answer those tough questions in defense of their faith. Below is a list of just a few websites that provide a variety of tools to help with apologetics. They all have a wealth of information you can access for free as well as many books, videos, and other resources available to order.

www.reasons.org

Reasons to Believe An organization dedicated to scientific apologetics with chapters all over the country who seek to effectively integrate science and faith with an emphasis on equipping believers to engage unbelievers more effectively

www.discovery.org

The Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture is a Discovery Institute program which:  

  • supports research by scientists and other scholars challenging various aspects of neo-Darwinian theory;

  • supports research by scientists and other scholars developing the scientific theory known as intelligent design;

  • supports research by scientists and scholars in the social sciences and humanities exploring the impact of scientific materialism on culture.

  • encourages schools to improve science education by teaching students more fully about the theory of evolution, including the theory’s scientific weaknesses as well is its strengths. 

www.answersingenesis.org

Answers in Genesis focuses particularly on providing answers to questions surrounding the book of Genesis, as it is the most-attacked book of the Bible. They also desire to train others to develop a biblical worldview, and seek to expose the bankruptcy of evolutionary ideas, and its bedfellow, a “millions of years old” earth (and even older universe).  Believing It – Defending it – Proclaiming it!

www.icr.org

Institute for Creation - ICR exists to conduct scientific research within the realms of origins and earth history, and then to educate the public both formally and informally through graduate and professional training programs, through conferences and seminars around the country, and through books, magazines, and media presentations. 

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Bible On-line

www.biblegateway.com

The Bible Gateway is a tool for reading and researching scripture online -- all in the language or translation of your choice! It provides advanced searching capabilities, which allow readers to find and compare particular passages in scripture based on keywords, phrases, or scripture reference.

Audio Bibles, Many Scriptures are available in audio form allowing you to hear the richness and power of the texts.

Biblical commentaries, written by some of the brightest theologians in the church, provide a systematic series of explanations and interpretations of Scripture. They are intended to provide additional insight into the Bible, not to replace it, and can be valuable tools to assist both casual reading and serious study.

www.blueletterbible.org

A tool to retrieve verses from the KJV Bible  - Word and Phrase Search - Searches a Hebrew/Greek concordance plus a lexicon and the BLB Thematic Subject Guide) - Browse through the answers to some of our most frequently asked questions.

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  Online Audible Bible

www.faithcomesbyhearing.com

Are you looking for a fresh and exciting way to experience the Bible? Listen to God’s Word everyday and encounter the drama and the passion of God interacting with His people. Experience Faith Comes By Hearing. This daily Audio Bible program is sponsored by FaithComesByHearing.com, reaching the nations with the largest collection of Audio Bibles in the world.

Receive a Free Bible

biblesforamerica.org

Grow in your faith with a free study Bible and free Christian books. Order yours today!

www.e-sword.net - Free downloadable Bible software for the serious Bible student.



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On-line Ministry Broadcasts

Link to Self Help Resources

 

That's My King by S.M. Lockridge

The late S.M. Lockridge once presented an incredible message describing our Jesus.  Please view this awesome message played out on DVD until the last quote of ‘AMEN.’

That's-My-King-dvd

To God Be The Glory!

 

With Love, Live Healthy Naturally

 

 

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