Archive for the ‘Discipleship’ Category

(A series of scripted correspondences from a ‘Heavenly helper’ to a Christian Soldier)

[Letter 1:  An Answer to Prayer]

Greetings Soldier,

I am delighted to inform you that your prayer for wisdom has been heard and gladly granted by God the Father! As representative of His heavenly host and a ministering spirit on your behalf, He has sent me as His ambassador and Angelic Agent (or ‘Angent’, if you prefer) to communicate unto you the truth you need to overcome the daily opposition and deception you are encountering (and which you earnestly desire to both expose and refute). Nothing pleases the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ more than a genuine desire from the Redeemed to grow in wisdom and knowledge so that they might engage in ‘Casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ’ as prescribed in 2 Corinthians 10:5.

Indeed, this is but one aspect of ‘Seeking first the Kingdom of God’ as commanded by our Lord Jesus and is always commended and cheerfully aided by the Father—after all, remember His great delight in a certain King Solomon who, in deference to the will of God, declined to ask for worldly riches and honor but, instead, prayed earnestly for Godly wisdom in His endeavors as ruler over Israel. Needless to say, his place in history as the wisest natural born man ever to live requires no further commentary as to God’s abundant provision in response to his prayers. I find great joy in letting you know that the same God who was rich towards Solomon will not disappoint any who call upon Him with the same petition and in the same earnestness of spirit! Indeed, Almighty God will not withhold any good thing from those who walk uprightly, as promised in the 84th Psalm of His Book—the Bible.

Therefore, in response to your unbelieving uncle’s attack on faith in general—and the Christian faith specifically—it is important for you to first understand the distinction between that of ‘justified faith’ and ‘blind faith’. The difference is, the first is rational and good, while the second is not. As a rational, logical Being Himself, God does not (and will not) ask anyone to come to Him through blind, irrational faith–something which carries connotations of, and actually is, but a form of ‘darkness’ (since it alludes to ignorance and superstition) as opposed to the ‘light’ of knowledge and truth. Of course, God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. Perhaps the following simple illustration will help convey the difference. Please consider these two scenarios:

Scenario 1:  A young boy wakes up on a cold winter morning in a small South Dakota town.  Excitedly, he pulls back the curtains of his bedroom window to reveal a winter wonderland outside, with the first snowfall of the year having blanketed everything in sight.  He throws on his boots, trousers, coat, and scarf and then grabs his bobsled as he makes his way to the freshly frozen lake out behind his house.  He approaches the lake at a full sprint and, without a second thought, throws his sled down onto the ice and jumps, outstretched, on top of it with a squeal of delight.

Scenario 2:  The same young boy awakes on the same snowy morning.  He dons his winter wear, and grabs his sled.  As he approaches the freshly frozen lake behind his house, he notices the tire tracks from his dad’s 2.5 ton pickup truck stretching from the driveway of their home all the way out across the frozen lake to the other side, where his father is gathering a load of fresh firewood for their home.  With confidence, he gleefully runs out onto the ice and begins his fun-filled day of bobsledding.

Now, in both scenarios, the boy had faith in the ice on the lake and its ability to hold him and his sled.  The difference is, the faith exercised in the first scenario was an unjustified or blind faith, as there was no rational reason for the boy to trust that the ice could hold him.  Sure, he believed that it would, but there was no real justification for his belief. However, in the second scenario, the boy was exercising justifiable faith.  That is, he had a very good reason for believing that the ice would hold him and for subsequently acting upon that belief by stepping out onto it.  The tracks, indicating that his father’s much larger and heavier vehicle had successfully been supported by the ice, gave him a logical justification for his assumption that it would also hold him.  That is the same type of faith that God calls men to exercise with regards to trusting Him and His Word.  Consider Romans 1:18-20:

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

According to these verses, God has clearly revealed Himself to all mankind such that all are without excuse for denying Him. That is, the ‘tracks’ He has left via both His natural and special revelation, not only justify faith in Him, they demand it.  As such, Christianity is not a blind leap into the dark unknown, but rather, it is a confident step onto a sure foundation of Truth that has been established and revealed by God in such a way that mankind can know with certainty who He is and that His Word is true.  This is why the Apostle Paul could confidently declare in 2 Timothy 2:12

……nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

The foundation of God is indeed a sure one. It is not shameful to trust in Him—it is shameful not to. May God help people everywhere to trust Him more, building themselves up on their most holy faith (and may He do so through you as you put to use the wisdom He has granted). Here to serve,

Your Heavenly ‘Angent’

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(A series of scripted correspondences from a ‘Heavenly helper’ to a Christian Soldier)

[Letter 6]:

Greetings Soldier,

You do not have to apologize for the feeling of disappointment you are feeling now. After all, a sense of frustration is only natural when good evidence is given to support your case, but then dismissed out of hand due to the hostile bias of the one examining the evidence. It is very important to understand what is going on here with your brother and it is time that you were granted insight into the nature of ‘presuppositions’ and the effect they have on one’s reasoning and conclusions about the world around them. You see, everyone has a worldview—a view of the world founded upon certain tightly held beliefs that are assumed to be true and through which they interpret all of their observations and experiences (including any and all evidence presented to them for consideration). Because of this, it is impossible to convince someone of something they do not wish to be convinced of since they will interpret any evidence via the lens of those tightly held, most foundational assumptions that are already present. Confused yet? Perhaps this illustration might help:

Once upon a time, a young man believed he was dead. For months, his friends and family tried desperately to convince him that this was not the case, but to no avail. Finally, at their wits end, they decided to take him to see the family doctor in hopes that he could offer some sort of medical counsel to help the young man come to his senses. After two unproductive hours of talking with the young man and reasoning with him using the latest medical journals, charts, and photos, the good doctor had an idea! “Son, do dead men bleed?” He asked. The young man thought for a moment and then responded, “well, if a person is dead, there is no heartbeat to pump the blood and, therefore, no blood pressure to force the blood out of the body, so, no, dead men do not bleed.” Upon hearing this, the doctor took a needle and pricked the young man’s index finger. As the blood began to ooze from the small wound, the young man grabbed his finger and cried with great excitement, “well, what do you know! Dead men DO bleed after all!

See the point (pardon the pun)? The young man in the story had a predetermined belief which he was unwilling to surrender, despite being shown ample proof that it was false. The overwhelming evidence given to him did not change his mind, but, rather, his mind changed the interpretation of the evidence to make it agree with what he already assumed to be true (his ‘presuppositional bias’). Perhaps this makes it easier now to understand how and why many of the people who actually witnessed Jesus’ most notable miracles were the same ones who demanded His crucifixion. Why do you suppose they were not convinced of His Divinity by the marvelous feats of the dead being raised and the blinded eyes receiving sight in their presence? It was simply because they did not WANT to be. In fact, this is nothing new, as many today would simply rather be their own god instead of bowing the knee to God and surrendering to His authority. It has been rightly stated that the atheist cannot find God for the same reason a criminal can’t find a policeman—-they simply aren’t looking. The unbeliever chooses to live in willful denial of what they know to be true about God’s existence in order to avoid accountability to Him. You will do well to keep this in mind in your evangelism endeavors. At your service,

Your Heavenly ‘Angent’

(A series of scripted correspondences from a ‘Heavenly helper’ to a Christian Soldier)

[Letter 19]:

Greetings Soldier,

I am very pleased to hear about your face-to-face witnessing encounter with Mr. Reardon, the Jehovah’s Witness who came to your door today. As you have rightly guessed, this type of opportunity is never an accident, but is ordained and overseen directly by God the Father. No doubt you knew that something was amiss with Mr. Reardon’s point of view when your casual discussion about God, the Bible, and Jesus Christ became a means for him to insert strange ideas about Jesus being Michael the Archangel, the Bible being unreliable, and there being no such thing as eternal punishment, etc. As you know by now, these heresies are but a few of those taught by the Jehovah’s Witnesses–a counterfeit Christian cult very much like the Mormons.

You did the right thing by clearly stating and defending the Christian doctrine that Jesus Christ is, in fact, God (the Son) and showing him where this is plainly stated in John 1:1. Of course, the JW organization has altered this Scripture in their New World Translation (NWT) version of the Bible to read ‘the Word was a God’ instead of ‘the Word was God’ as plainly stated in the Biblical text (as confirmed by the thousands upon thousands of early New Testament manuscripts still in existence today). You also did the right thing in asking for his manuscript evidence for the changes made in the NWT and the many discrepancies between it and the early Biblical manuscripts. Of course, this is devastating to the JW position and teaching, since they have no manuscript evidence for their alterations of the orginal Biblical texts (demonstrating that these changes were made arbitrarily in order to support the corrupt teachings of the JW organization). The fact that the discussion ended in a friendly, amicable way is definitely a positive, as is the fact that you two have exchanged phone numbers.  This will keep the door open for future conversations and will hopefully provide the means for Mr. Reardon to at least be exposed to Biblical truth, which will challenge his current beliefs and, as a result, will hopefully bring him to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Indeed, there is much at stake here since the difference between the JW position and the Christian position is more than just a trifle, since this fundamental flaw in their view of who Jesus Christ is actually results in them preaching ‘another Jesus’ than the one revealed in the Bible and, subsequently, ‘another gospel‘. Needless to say, both of these heresies are expressly forbidden in Scripture and carry the severest penalty of rendering those who engage in them ‘accursed’ from God the Father. In light of the fact that Mr. Reardon has already texted you some Scriptures which he erroneously believes supports the JW doctrine that  Jesus is Michael the Archangel, here is my suggestion for a response to him:

~Mr. Reardon,

I reviewed the Scriptures you texted to me and they definitely confirm the existence of angels and even the archangel Michael, but none of them even so much as hints that Jesus Christ and Michael the archangel are one and the same. In fact, almost all of Hebrews Chapter 1 is devoted to making a clear, unmistakable distinction between Christ and the angels, telling us in v. 4 that He is ‘better’ than them and then in v. 5-6 it is revealed that He is far superior to them since none of the angels are the Son and ALL of them worship Him (this would necessarily include worship from the archangels, such as Michael, as well). Other Scriptures such as Isaiah 44:6 and Revelation 1:17-19 provide us with crystal clear instances of both God the Father (Jehovah) and Jesus Christ describing themselves as ‘the first and the last’ (a title that is only ascribed to God and no one else), clearly demonstrating that Christ is indeed God the Son and one person in the Holy Trinity.

The one Scripture that keeps coming to mind, though, is John 1:1. If that verse is not altered to include the indefinite article ‘a’ before the word ‘God’, then none of the doctrine of Jesus being Michael can be true (since that verse would be plainly stating that He is God as also confirmed in Isaiah 9:6, 1 John 5:7, Hebrews 1:3, John 10:30, John 20:28, Matthew 2:11, and Matthew 28:9). Therefore, my question to you, again, would be simply to ask what the manuscript evidence is for the inserstion of the indefinite article ‘a’ into John 1:1, as well as the other textual alterations made in the NWT? I know you would agree that folks should not arbitrarily alter God’s divinely revealed Truth–however, as it stands, one can make a rock-solid case against the NWT and the JW’s that these changes were made for the sole purpose of attempting to make the Bible support the specific theology of the JW organization rather than relying on the Biblical text alone as the basis for arriving at correct theology (via a natural, straightforward reading and understanding of it). Also, given that the NWT is a subsequent work produced by adding new information to the Bible (much the same as the Book of Mormon and the Muslim Koran), how does a JW explain the discrepencies between the Bible and the NWT given the presence of over 40,000 pre-NWT manuscripts of the Bible in existence today which do not contain the alterations found in the NWT? Thank you in advance for your consideration of these very important questions.

I think this adequately sums up the main objections to the JW viewpoint and also demonstrates that it is ultimately founded upon a non-Biblical foundation. As such, the JW’s are not relying upon God and His Word as their Ultimate Authority but, rather, they are holding their own ideas and reasoning above that of God and the Bible. In the end, this worldview has the same rational defects (and the same eternal consequences) as all other non-Christian ones. Pray earnestly for Mr. Reardon to come to his senses and repent before it is too late. Here to serve,

Your Heavenly ‘Angent’

uncommon faith

Antinomianism is alive and well in the professing church today.   It won’t take you long, or many Facebook conversations, to find out the reality of this statement. Many people desire to “be blessed”, many people desire a savior, and I’ve not met that many people that say they are unconcerned about an eternity in hell. But…they don’t mind going out and living like the devil.

So what is this word “Antinomianism”? And why is it such a big deal.

“Antinomianism teaches that “the believer was completely free from all obligation to the Law and any concession to legal duty was an infringement of free grace.” Roman Catholicism attacked Protestantism for allegedly granting a license to sin through its doctrine of justification by faith alone.   The council of Trent, in its decree on justification (1547) implicitly accused the Reformers of abolishing the law for the Christian.

In their view of the…

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…Or at least that’s what I’ve always heard about the value of a picture.  That being the case, I thought it would be worth sharing the story behind the photo that you see as my avatar and blog header here.

A few months ago, our Christian men’s group went on a camping trip to one of the national forests around our area and, as I was packing for the trip, I felt compelled to bring along a few gospel tracts as well (for a trip to the middle of the woods??)…..I soon found out why.

As we arrived at our campsite and began to set up camp, a young man from another site walked in carrying a large bottle of wine in one hand and a can of beer in the other. He asked one the guys in our group if anyone had a corkscrew he could use to open the wine. He was given a pocket knife and then knelt down on the ground, poking and prodding at the cork on the wine bottle, trying to open it. I went to my tent and grabbed a couple ‘million dollar’ tracts that I took over to him and used to strike up a conversation. The young man told me that he had been attending church for some time, but quickly confessed that he would go straight to hell if he died, because of his sinful lifestyle. I couldn’t believe it! I was able to share the Gospel with him and then asked if I could pray for him—he agreed.  While I was praying with the young man, one of the brethren captured a photo (unbeknownst to me at the time) of that moment.

After we prayed, he told me that his girlfriend was back at his camp at that she needed to hear this as well.

They returned a few minutes later and we were able to preach the Gospel to her also, using the 10 Commandments to convince her of her sin and that she too was in need of God’s forgiveness!! This was truly one of the most unique and encouraging witnessing encounters I have ever had. The way I see it, people have been wandering into the Enemy’s camp for ages—thank God that He saw fit to allow at least a couple to wander into His camp that day!  I hope that you are as encouraged and inspired by this as we have been here.  To God be the glory!!

MENTENTIONAL

Opinions are easy to come by.  Most people will have one on just about anything you ask.  The weather last weekend? Last night’s game?  The food at the new restaurant? Just ask and they’ll have their perspective ready for sharing.

Like our thoughts about our favorite football team, most of us also have an opinion on what it means to be a real man.  Strong? Courageous?  A great leader? Characteristics like these come to mind for some but something totally different for others. That’s the thing about opinions – there are plenty of them but most aren’t really based on hard facts.

The truth is, at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter what you or I think it means to be a man.  What matters is what God’s word defines a man to be.  Here’s a list of 20 biblical characteristics of a godly man that I’ve came across while studying. If…

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