BELIEVE AND OBEY, BOTH NECESSARY

There is no doubt Jesus accomplished all we need to be righteous before God our Father. Salvation is available for all those that repent of their sins and believe in Jesus as both our Saviour and Lord.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes,” Romans 1:16

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.Romans 3:21-22

We are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,” Romans 3:24

And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Luke 7:50

It is a done deal, however the following verses also indicate that Jesus calls us to action.

And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him.” Matthew 4:19-20

As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.And he rose and followed him.

To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:59-60

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.Matthew 16:24

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.Ephesians 2:10

Jesus has put us in right standing with our Heavenly Father and made it possible for our Father to send the Holy Spirit to enable us to live the Christian life, to be our Counsellor, our Comforter and Teacher so the question now is are we truly obeying His call to follow Him and to do the good works He has prepared for us?

More on CHRISTIANS: The Urgent Case for Jesus in our World

In this Direct interview, John Anderson (former Deputy Prime Minister of Australia) is joined by Greg Sheridan, widely-respected foreign editor for The Australian. . They discuss the Christian foundations of Western civilisation and the profound importance of religion at a societal, cultural and individual level. They delve into the deep rationality that often undergirds Christian faith, and question the capacity of atheistic philosophies to truly nourish the human soul. Greg Sheridan is one of Australia’s most influential national security commentators, who is active across print media, television and radio and also writes extensively on culture. He has written eight books. His latest, Christians: The Urgent Case for Jesus in Our World is a compelling argument for the modern relevance and importance of the New Testament. As foreign editor of The Australian, he specialises in Asia. He has interviewed Presidents and Prime Ministers across the world.

LIVING THE CHRISTIAN LIFE

Until we have received the Holy Spirit, we cannot possibly bear righteous fruit like “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal 5:22-23). Unless a person has died to self (water baptism is the sign to the world we have died to self) and received the Holy Spirit, literally born again of the Spirit, they are not able to live the Christian life.

Take captive every thought

The Apostle Paul said “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor 10:5). So how do we demolish such thoughts when they enter our mind? Again, without God’s Spirit, we have no hope of reforming our own thoughts. Paul has said that “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor 4:4), so until we’re set free from the clutch of Satan and his minions, we remain blind, even though we think we can see. Only trusting in Christ allows us to resist the Devil, and only then will he flee from us. David had a way of resisting evil thoughts. He wrote, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11), so along with the Spirit of God, we have the Word of God to help us avoid such evil thoughts, and only then are we able to “not sin against” God.

Be transformed

One way to eliminate something is to replace it with something, and in the case of our thoughts, replace them with something much better. For example, we can dwell on “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Phil 4:8), instead of dwelling on whatever is sinful, lustful, or pleases the flesh. By allowing the Spirit of God to renew our minds, we will “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom 12:2). With the Spirit of God and the Word of God, we can renew our minds. The Word of God allows us to walk in safety since the “word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). His Word shows me the path in order that I might stay on the path and avoid leaving the path. That’s the power of God’s Word.

Sanctification

Before conversion, our thoughts gravitate toward whatever pleases us, with little or no regard for those around us. If we are fulfilling the desires of the flesh, we could care less about the fruits of the Spirit. Our minds will be held captive until we repent of our sins and put our trust in Christ. Only then can we have God’s supernatural power; the power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God takes the Word of God and changes the child of God into being more like the Son of God. I don’t mean we’ll be sinless, but we should sin less over time. Sanctification takes time…in fact, it takes a lifetime, and only until we enter the kingdom will our minds be completely free of evil thoughts, desires, and intentions.

Conclusion

You cannot take captive any thoughts you have but only for a moment or only temporarily. Eventually, our minds will gravitate to unholy things, that is unless we are in the Word of God daily and have the Spirit of God in us. When we’re saved, we receive a new nature…the nature of God, and even though it falls infinitely short of God’s mind, we strive to have it renewed daily by prayer, by the Word, and by His Spirit, so we can receive help from God in overcoming our thought life, particularly our thoughts on things of the world and of the flesh. Paul asked the Corinthians, “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor 2:16). Paul admonishes us to “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Phil 2:5-7). When we focus on serving others in humility, there is no room for selfish thoughts to satisfy the flesh. Instead of it being all about us, the mind of Christ makes it all about others. We cannot control our thoughts but the Spirit of God can. The Spirit of God allows us to “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Phil 2:3).

AS MANY AS I LOVE, I REBUKE AND CHASTEN

Yes, this quote is by Jesus. We don’t like to think of God’s discipline, chastening and judgement but it is essential we do.

As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Revelation 3:19
Christ_in_the_house_of_Martha_and_Mary_1654

As you read the Gospels, notice that some of Jesus’ sharpest rebukes were directed to those He loved the most.

To Martha, Jesus said, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part” (Luke 10:41-42).

Jesus told Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan!” (Matthew 16:23)

Jesus told His disciples, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith” (Matthew 8:26).

Jesus rebuked James and John, telling them, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of.” (Luke 9:55)

Jesus never rebukes us to tear us down but to build us up. When He reproves us, it’s to prove His love. Sometimes He uses our conscience to rebuke us. Sometimes it’s a sermon, book, or article. Occasionally, He will send another person to admonish us. As you read the Bible, sometimes a verse will strike you with conviction.

Don’t shrug off the chastening word. As many as He loves, He rebukes and chastens. But it’s always out of love and designed to help us, to make us pleasing to Him and more effective in our service for the kingdom.

Chastening is not God getting even—it is preparing that person for something better, more valuable, and worthwhile.
R. T. Kendal

Extract from Dr David Jeremiah’s article “The Lord’s Rebuking Ministry”

 

Another great testimony from an indigenous brother and his granddaughter.

Let us declare with Pastor Anthony: “Today, I stand for righteousness. Righteousness will exalt a nation. We proclaim that this nation will have righteousness. We will go back to the cornerstone, which is the Lord Jesus Christ, and build our foundation on truth (God’s Word). Truth will build our family house. Trust in the word of God will establish and confirm our house.”

Watch Ps Anthony Edwards Snr. and Tilly Fejo’s story below:

Compelling Historical Evidence for the Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ

Here is some compelling evidence of Christ's birth.

  1. Documented by a physician & world-class historian.

The virgin birth of Jesus Christ was documented by a physician and world-class historian who interviewed eyewitnesses, probably including Mary herself, for his account of this world-changing event. Luke gives the most detailed account of the Nativity and mentions Mary 12 times, more than any other biblical writer.

The accuracy of Luke as a historian was confirmed by the famous historian, A.N. Sherwin-White, who carefully examined his references in Luke/Acts to 32 countries, 54 cities, and nine islands, finding not a single mistake. Sir William Ramsay, who spent years in Asia Minor following and examining Luke’s account of Paul’s travels, wrote in The Bearing of Recent Discovery on the Trustworthiness of the New Testament, “You may press the words of Luke in a degree beyond any other historian’s and they stand the keenest scrutiny and the hardest treatment.”

  1. Affirmed by modern archaeology.

Luke’s status as a world-class historian, accurate in even the smallest details, was brought to light by modern archaeology. For example, Sir William Ramsay, considered one of the greatest archaeologists of all time, originally thought he would scientifically discredit Luke’s accounts by visiting and examining the places mentioned in his Gospel and Acts.

Ramsay was a student of the sceptical, German higher criticism of the 19th century and was taught that the New Testament was an unreliable religious treatise written in the mid-second century by individuals far removed from the events described. But after years of retracing Luke’s account of Paul’s travels and doing archaeological digs along the way, Ramsay completely reversed his view of the Bible and first-century history.

Ramsay became convinced that Acts was written in the first century by the traditional author, and he acquired a very high regard for Luke as a historian. He wrote, “Luke is a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements of fact trustworthy, he is possessed of the true historic sense; in short, this author should be placed along with the greatest of historians.”

William F. Albright, archaeologist and late professor of Semitic languages at John Hopkins University, is considered by many to be the greatest of archaeologists. Like Ramsay, he began as an agnostic, sceptical of the Bible as a reliable book of history. But, like Ramsay, his views were also completely changed by doing the hard work of an archaeologist in the field.

Albright discovered that not only was Luke reliable, but that the entire Bible was a reliable source of history. According to The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict, Albright wrote, “Discovery after discovery has established the accuracy of innumerable details, and brought increased recognition to the Bible as a source of history.”

   3.  An agnostic professor of mythology is convinced. 

C S Lewis was the agnostic professor of Renaissance literature at Oxford University, a prolific author and a recognized expert of mythological texts. He too had bought into the idea that the Bible was not a book of reliable history and that the New Testament was filled with all sorts of mythical stories, created by individuals far removed from the events described.

But through the influence of his childhood and friends who challenged his atheism, Lewis began to read the Bible. He was astounded at what he encountered in the Gospels, for it was obviously a different genre from the ancient mythologies with which he was so familiar. His surprised response was, “This is not myth!” Lewis went on to become a dedicated follower of Christ and perhaps the most significant Christian apologist of the 20th century.

  1. Predicted centuries in advance by OT prophets.

Genesis 3:15 said, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he will bruise your head, and you will bruise his heel.”

These words were spoken by God to the serpent after the fall of our first parents. The “seed of the woman” in this passage is an allusion to a future descendant of Eve who will defeat the serpent and reverse the curse brought on by his deception.

The Bible normally speaks of the seed of men, but in this case it is the “seed of the woman.” This is a prophecy that clearly anticipates the future virgin birth of Christ—a birth in which the seed of a man is not involved. The beloved Methodist theologian, Adam Clarke, wrote in The Holy Bible Containing the Old and New Testaments with a Commentary and Critical Notes, “The seed of the woman is to come by the woman, and her alone without the concurrence of man.”

According to this prophecy, the “seed of the woman” will receive a temporary wound from Satan—”you will bruise His heel”—but the “seed of woman” shall inflict on Satan a final and mortal wound—”He will bruise your head.” This Messianic promise was fulfilled through the virgin birth of Jesus and through His death and resurrection.

Isaiah 7:14 said, “Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign: The virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

The Hebrew word translated “virgin” in this passage is almah and refers to a young woman of marriageable age, but would usually include the idea of virginity, since that was expected of a young Jewish woman being married for the first time.

That “virgin” is an accurate English translation is confirmed by the Septuagint, which uses the Greek word parthinos to translate almahParthinos specifically means a young woman who has never had sex with a man. Parthinos is the word used by both Matthew and Luke in their description of Mary, affirming that she was a young woman who had never had sex with a man when Jesus was born.

Further evidence that this Son born of a virgin is a Messianic prophecy referring to Jesus is indicated by Isaiah’s statement that he shall be called Immanuel, which means “God with us.” This is a clear statement concerning the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ, and reminds us of the words of Gabriel to Mary that the Son she will bear “will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest” (Luke 1:32).

  1. Believed universally by the earliest Christians.

That the virgin birth was universally believed by the earliest Christians is verified by “The Apostle’s Creed,” an early confession of faith that dates from the second century and was used throughout the church. By including the virgin birth in their creedal statement, these early believers made clear that they considered it an essential doctrine of the Faith. The Creed reads in part:

“I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth; And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord: Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary” (emphasis added).

This belief in the virgin birth was confirmed by the Nicene Creed of A.D. 325 and has continued to be the belief of Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Protestant Christians.

Note the words of the 18th century hymn, “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” written by Charles Wesley, an Oxford graduate and Anglican minister, and with his brother John, the leader of the great Methodist revival. Because of the references to the virgin birth, this hymn became a popular carol sung at Christmas:

“Christ by highest heaven adored/Christ the everlasting Lord! /Late in time behold Him come/Offspring of a Virgin’s womb! /Veiled in flesh the Godhead see/Hail the incarnate Deity! /Pleased as man with man to dwell/Jesus, our Emanuel/Hark the herald angels sing/Glory to the newborn king!”

Extract from article by Dr. Eddie L. Hyatt. He is an author, historian and biblical scholar.

LOVE ONE ANOTHER AS I HAVE LOVED YOU

Consider how easy it is to tell the religious faith of many people in the world by their dress or actions. One religion’s members shave their heads, wear saffron-colored robes, play musical instruments, and chant and sing in public. The faithful of another religion stop and kneel for prayers, wherever they are, five times a day. Another religion’s orthodox members wear black coats and hats, white shirts, and have long, curly locks of hair or beards.

hindusburqa image

There is only one mark Jesus asked His followers to display to the world: the mark of love. He told His disciples,

“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35)

It is not if we dress or speak a certain way or act religious in a certain way, but if we have love for others. Loving people the way Jesus loves people is the true mark of His followers. Love is the highest kingdom value (see Romans 14:17; 1 Corinthians 13:13).

Let our love and service for Christ be translated today into love and service for others.

Answering an atheist on meaning and purpose of life

I hope this article “Answering a reasonable atheist on deep philosophical questions” from Creation Ministries International (CMI) 30th September, 2012 provides helpful answers for Christians and unbelievers as well.

To demonstrate that not all of CMI’s opponents are hostile and unreasonable, we publish feedback by Tim W. of the USA to our article – Answering the ‘new atheists’ (interview with Doug Wilson). In this, Tim W. sought to defend the proposition that atheism can provide meaning and purpose. Tim W.’s email is printed in its entirety  (red), and then followed by point-by-point responses by Dr Jonathan Sarfati.

This is an interesting article. I think you are on the right track when you suggest that modern atheists are worried at the resurgence of conservative Christianity in the United States. Frankly, it concerns me that so many politicians have anti-abortion views with which I strongly disagree. Part of my moral beliefs value limited rights of women to choose the fate of their unfertilized eggs, embryos and their own bodies. Similarly, I understand that Christians have legitimate reason to be concerned that unbelievers will influence a policy or social climate that permits the destruction of actual or potential human organisms. The stakes are high so it should be no surprise that the voices of atheism rise to compete with the voices of religion.

I also agree with the author, and with Hume, that one cannot infer what ought to be, in a normative sense, from what is, was or will be the case. In this way, it is reasonable to say that naturalism or ‘scientism’ cannot suggest a specific theory or morality. However, that does not mean that morality is not compatible with materialism, naturalism or atheism. It only means that morality must come from philosophy (ethics) rather than from theology. There is no reason why an atheist cannot have a more sophisticated ‘sense’ or theory of morality than someone who bases their beliefs of right and wrong conduct (or thoughts) on the teachings of a formal religion. My own beliefs are more consistent with a general sense of basic ‘fairness,’ than obedience to the demands of a deity.

Lastly, I don’t understand the basis of a statement such as “The atheist cannot put forward, within his own framework, a justification for why reasoning is trustworthy, or even worthwhile,” or “the atheist can’t account for reason if there is no God.” These are philosophical questions that do not seem to be contingent on the existence of a God. Is reasoning trustworthy or meaningful? Those are matters of epistemology, not theology. Moreover, I think it is far from obvious that neither life, nor anything else for that matter, can have meaning unless one believes in God. God may give your life meaning, but that does not mean that nothing can provide meaning for an atheist’s life. I can imagine an atheist saying that her daughter, for example, gives her life meaning. Would you call her a liar?

Response

Dr Jonathan Sarfati replies: Thanks (on behalf of CMI and the article author).

TW: I think you are on the right track when you suggest that modern atheists are worried at the resurgence of conservative Christianity in the United States.

JS: What is really striking is how many modern atheists have become such delicate little flowers. They are hurt and offended by plastic baby Jesuses at Nativity scenes and are in danger of having a stroke if they hear a student-led prayer at a football game. (But of course, anyone objecting to obscenity or porn should just look the other way or change channels.) Even leading atheist Richard Dawkins is not such a wimp; he joins in Christmas celebrations. What a contrast the modern activists are with the far more robust atheists of yesteryear who vigorously debated the formidable G.K. Chesterton, and remained good friends even after finishing second.

TW: Frankly, it concerns me that so many politicians have anti-abortion views with which I strongly disagree.

JS: It would concern me if we didn’t have that many. Once we dehumanize one class of humanity, there is no limit. See for example article – Unborn babies may “be planning their future”: What now for the abortion lobby?

TW: Part of my moral beliefs value limited rights of women to choose the fate of their unfertilized eggs, embryos and their own bodies.

JS: Well, there’s the problem: the unborn is not part of a woman’s body. A reductio   ad absurdum I’ve explained is: this would entail that a mother carrying a son must have a penis.

TW: Similarly, I understand that Christians have legitimate reason to be concerned that unbelievers will influence a policy or social climate that permits the destruction of actual or potential human organisms.

JS: Yes, that’s exactly the issue. Without the protection of life, no other right, real or assumed, has any meaning. ‘Rights’ to private property, housing, employment, medical care, or anything else, mean nothing if one is not alive to exercise them.

TW: The stakes are high so it should be no surprise that the voices of atheism rise to compete with the voices of religion.

JS: The problem arises when voices of atheism try to silence the voices of Christianity. This includes university ‘speech codes’, ‘hate speech’, the persecution of Christians in atheistic communist regimes, and the GayStapo attacks on the Church and family. See Gay marriage, politicians, and the rights of Christians.

TW: I also agree with the author, and with Hume, that one cannot infer what ought to be, in a normative sense, from what is, was or will be the case.

JS: A key point.

TW: In this way, it is reasonable to say that naturalism or ‘scientism’ cannot suggest a specific theory or morality. However, that does not mean that morality is not compatible with materialism, naturalism or atheism. It only means that morality must come from philosophy (ethics) rather than from theology.

JS: It certainly can’t come from the axiom ‘God does not exist.’

TW: There is no reason why an atheist cannot have a more sophisticated ‘sense’ or theory of morality than someone who bases their beliefs of right and wrong conduct (or thoughts) on the teachings of a formal religion. My own beliefs are more consistent with a general sense of basic ‘fairness’, than obedience to the demands of a deity.

JS: But where does the notion of ‘fairness’ come from in an evolutionary world? Surely it’s just a delusion caused by certain neurochemical activity that happened to be useful for our ancestors to survive. Just like rape was useful to spread our genes, as two evolutionists seriously argued in a book (look how one squirmed to justify why rape should be considered ‘wrong’). Similarly, the article Bomb-building vs. the biblical foundation documents how leading atheistic philosopher/logician Bertrand Russell could not explain why right vs. wrong was any different from choosing one’s favourite colours.

Think of consistent evolutionist and atheistic philosopher Peter Singer, who justifies infanticide, euthanasia, and bestiality. It’s also notable that some critics of my article Abortion ‘after birth’? Medical ‘ethicists’ promote infanticide claimed that Singer was an anomaly among atheists. Yet I showed that his pro-infanticide views were shared by the Journal of Medical Ethics and the vocal antitheist P.Z. Myers. See also Bioethicists and Obama agree: infanticide should be legal. He also wrote the major Encyclopaedia Britannica article on Ethics (1992), and earlier this year, the Australian Government gave him Australia’s highest honour, Companion of the Order of Australia.

TW: Lastly, I don’t understand the basis of a statement such as “The atheist cannot put forward, within his own framework, a justification for why reasoning is trustworthy, or even worthwhile,” or “the atheist can’t account for reason if there is no God.” These are philosophical questions that do not seem to be contingent on the existence of a God.

JS: I would say they are, as natural selection explains only survival value, not truth and logic. In Canada, one atheistic philosophy professor argued that these things would have selective value. I responded that this is not necessarily so under his belief system. After all, he must regard theistic religion as one thing that evolved for survival value, yet he would regard this as false and illogical. Thus survival, under his perspective, can be enhanced by the false as well as the true.

TW: Is reasoning trustworthy or meaningful? Those are matters of epistemology, not theology. Moreover, I think it is far from obvious that neither life, nor anything else for that matter, can have meaning unless one believes in God. God may give your life meaning, but that does not mean that nothing can provide meaning for an atheist’s life.

JS: One of my colleagues wrote in Answering life’s big questions: Only the Bible provides the answers:

Today we are effectively told, in the evolutionary story, that life is a fluke, a cosmic accident. In this case our existence lacks any purpose, so life is a farce. And where are we going, in this view? Fertilizer! In short, life is: Fluke … farce … fertilizer.

Evolutionist Richard Dawkins said that we live in a universe that has “no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference”. The evolutionists’ universe has no purpose because it is an accident; a cosmic accident. With evolution so widely taught in schools and universities, is it any wonder that so many lack any purpose or meaning to their lives?

As Susan Blackmore, psychologist and disciple of Richard Dawkins said, “If you really think about evolution and why we human beings are here, you have to come to the conclusion that we are here for absolutely no reason at all.”

TW: I can imagine an atheist saying that her daughter, for example, gives her life meaning.

JS: But hardly ultimate meaning, since both mother’s and daughter’s entire lives are just a blink of an eye in the uniformitarian cosmic scheme. Bertrand Russell said in his anti-Christian book Religion and Science:

Man, as a curious accident in a backwater, is intelligible: his mixture of virtues and vices is such as might be expected to result from fortuitous origin.

TW: Would you call her a liar?

JS: Not at all. A lie implies intentional deception, not just falsehood. As you could see from searching our site, we are very sparing with accusations of ‘lying’ (although some evolutionists justify deception and are just being consistent), as opposed to having a faulty interpretive framework. (However, we won’t deny that this prior adoption of this faulty framework is culpable according to Romans 1:20 and 2 Peter 3:3–7 and foolish (Psalm 14:1). But the point remains that a valid deduction from a faulty framework is not a lie.)