Ransom

Matthew 20:28 [fullscreen]

..Ransom..

transitive verb:

  1. to deliver especially from sin or its penalty
  2. to free from captivity or punishment by paying a price

Noun:

  1. a consideration paid or demanded for the release of someone or something from captivity
  2. the act of ransoming In the biblical example:

28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” ~ Matthew 20:28 (ESV) . Our captive souls were redeemed by at a cost beyond compare, hence our debt is not “cancelled, but paid. . .

Creation & Science with Dr. David Bonner

Slide1Please consider the evidence David M. Bonner presents to establish the existence of God, the Bible as the Word of God, and to expose the numerous scientific and Biblical problems with the popular theory of macro evolution. Dr. Bonner is  a graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University with a double major in chemistry and biology, with a special emphasis in evolutionary biology studies. In addition, Dr. Bonner holds a doctorate degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, Texas, as well as two post doctorate degrees. Please join us as this man of faith reveals and refutes the errors of evolutionary science, and shares the positive evidence for God and the Bible.

Acts 2:38 [mobile-1262x1262].png

38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. ~Acts 2:38 (ESV)

The preaching of Peter is the fulfillment of the expectation of Jesus. He was told to baptize in the Jesus’ name and his exhortation closes down with that same refrain!

 

#bible #Christian #faith #timelesstruth #Jesus #transformation

Eyes of your Heart

Ephesians 1:18 [mobile-1262x1262]

18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, ~ Ephesians 1:18 (ESV)

One of Paul’s prayers for the believers in Ephesus should be our own. The ability to see with genuine spiritual discernment is a window to great spiritual success. How we see what surrounds up will always drive us to the choices we make on our journey to be evermore like Christ. When we begin to value our spiritual blessings beyond our temporal surroundings hope will abound beyond compare.

Should God have made us, knowing many will be lost?, by Doy Moyer

One of the more difficult questions asked about God is this: why would God create people whom He knew would reject Him and, therefore, be forever lost?

First, while the following may not typically satisfy the unbeliever who asks the question, we need to consider this:

“Who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, ‘Why did you make me like this,’ will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.” (Rom. 9:20-24)

This gets into the nature of God, who is all-knowing, all-wise, and sovereign over life and death. Do we really have a right to question God on the way we are made? Even so, there is an important idea stated in this passage that helps inform us about the issue: God has shown His patience and wrath toward those who perish so that He can show forth His grace and glorify His people. The wicked do perish, and while God would rather that they all come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9), He will not allow that fact to keep Him from being able to glorify His own. He is a God who glorifies. He took the risk, at least in part, because glorifying people is worth it to Him.

God created humankind with free will and the capacity to choose love. He did this so that He can glorify, but we make a mess through our abuse of the freedom and choice to hate God and others. Should that fact have kept God from creating those whom He can glorify? Not at all.

Why should those who freely choose to love God be prevented from being blessed, saved, and glorified just because there will be those who choose not to love God? If people choosing not to love God should have prevented God from making the human race with free will and the capacity to love, then the idea of the negative, obstinate, hard-hearted who would have had no desire for God would have wielded more influence over God’s decisions and will than the fact that it is in God’s nature to bless and glorify free will creatures. Evil should not be allowed to suppress the good. For God to keep from doing good because He knows there will be evil would be to let the concept of evil have the final say in what ought to happen. This is not God’s mode of operation.

I can only conclude that the provision to bless and glorify His image-bearers is extremely important to God in the scheme of things — more important than letting the fact that many will perish stop Him from doing what He loves and wills to do. Allowing the knowledge of unbelief to keep Him from creating those whom He can glorify together with Him would be giving too much credence to rejection. Is Yahweh a God who allows the negative to trump the positive, the evil to overcome the good? Apparently not. Let’s not forget, either, that God has made this salvation and glory available to all by His grace.

Every parent knows that bringing a child into the world runs a risk. The child can bring great joy and happiness, or the child can bring much sorrow and pain. Parents desire to have children that they can bless and care for. They know they will have times of great difficulty. They know there will be growing pains. They patiently work with their children through the hardships to bring them up. Parental desire to bless their children doesn’t change even as they grow up and move out. Yet that risk is there that the children will finally rebel, reject parental love, and turn their backs on the blessings and love that come through the family. Even so, knowing this risk and possibility, people keep having children and holding on to the desire to have a family they can bless and keep in close fellowship. The potential for the love and joy is great enough to take that risk. There is goodness in being able to bless someone. That goodness and love is in the nature of God, and this motivates God to bless and glorify a special people, even though others will have turned their backs on Him to be lost.

Likewise, every potential friendship runs the risk of causing great pain and heart-ache. Yet, we believe strongly enough in the love, the fellowship, and the joy that comes from it that we are willing to run that risk of loss. Should we let the fact that some may betray us cause us never to seek out friendship, fellowship, or love? Should we let the fear of loss keep us from the potential of love and joy?

Why would God create people whom he knew would reject Him and therefore be forever lost? It would seem, at least in part, that the answer lies in the fact that God, in His goodness, love, and grace, has strong motivation to bless and glorify free will creatures made in His image. Yet to make free will creatures He can glorify also meant making free will creatures who would choose to reject and hate Him, which puts them in a very bad position. Bear in mind, also, that even if we never fully understand this, that does not put us in a position to deny God.

God’s offer and desire is to glorify us, but He won’t force us to accept. Will we be vessels of wrath prepared for destruction or vessels of mercy prepared for glory? As Moses told the people of his day, “So choose life in order that you may live” (Deut. 30:19).

Doy Moyer

find this and more thought provoking articles here: http://www.mindyourfaith.com/

Gay Practice and that Pagan Context, By Doy Moyer

As the case for gay marriage continues to ramp up, we may wonder how those who are claiming to be Christians, but who also are advocating gay marriage, can actually believe that the Bible supports their views. We often hear that Jesus never said anything to condemn it. They seem to miss the fact that Jesus argued for marriage “from the beginning,” and that this was rooted in the creation of male and female (Matt. 19:4-6). He didn’t have to specifically condemn what the Law had clearly condemned in no uncertain terms.

However, the argument we are hearing even more is that the those passages that unequivocally condemn gay practice are in a pagan context and associated with the ancient idolatrous culture. These weren’t God-fearing gays who were in a loving and committed relationship, you see. These were pagans involved in ritualistic prostitution, and that, they would agree, is wrong.

We seem to argue, “that was just their culture,” for just about everything these days. The problem with this argument, though, connected to the passages that condemn the behavior, is that, as the saying goes, it proves too much. If it’s all based on a pagan context, then what about the other items condemned in the very same context?

In Romans 1, for example, Paul not only condemns “men with men” and “women with women,” he also condemns unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil, envy, slander, haters of God, the insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, being disobedient to parents, without understanding, the untrustworthy, unloving, and unmerciful.

Why isn’t anyone arguing that these are also in a pagan context, so as long as we take it out of that context, it is perfectly fine to be greedy, envious, and slanderous? As long as it’s not in a pagan cultural context, we can be insolent, boastful, arrogant, and disobedient to parents? In a different culture, it’s okay to be untrustworthy and unmerciful.

It’s the same context, and honesty demands consistency.

Further, the way Paul makes his argument is not just grounded in a pagan context, but it is grounded in creation. Paganism is a sign that people have forgotten the Creator, so they worship the creature. The reason they are doing what is indecent is because they have lost sight of God as the Creator, who alone has the right to determine proper relationships. Marriage doesn’t change the condemnation of “men with men” or “women with women” doing what is unnatural.

Let’s take 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. While pagan practices were certainly a part of the culture, bear in mind that in the very same context that gay practice is condemned, so is the practice of fornication, idolatry, adultery, thievery, covetousness, drunkenness, reviling, and swindling. Would anyone care to argue that as long as it is removed from the pagan context, it would be okay to practice adultery, thievery, and drunkenness? Why do they only pick out what has to do with gay practice to say these are just based in culture, while ignoring the rest?

One could just as well argue that Paul’s argument against fornication in the same chapter (1 Cor. 6:14-20) is based on ritualistic prostitution, so once we get away from that kind of context, it would be okay to practice fornication.

The same can be said for 1 Timothy 1:8-11. Those who practice homosexuality are right there in the middle of the unholy, profane, those who kill their fathers and mothers, kidnappers, liars, and perjurers. Who looks at that context and says, “Well, that’s just pagan culture, so in a different culture being a kidnapper would be okay”?

Taking any of these things out of a pagan cultural context doesn’t change the nature of the sin, nor does it change the consequences.

Let’s also recall that pagan practices are rooted in forgetting God as the Creator to worship the creature, as Romans 1 makes clear. When we understand that marriage is founded upon God as the Creator, and we see how God established marriage from the beginning, then we cannot argue that God ever intended anything other than male and female cleaving to each other, suitable to each other, becoming one flesh with each other.

When we ignore what is rooted in creation, with God as Creator, and begin to change the fundamental nature of God’s expressed intentions, then we have indeed become worshipers of the creature rather than the Creator.

Perhaps we are still in that pagan culture after all.

Note: I know that just as sure I post this, we will hear, “but we have to hate the sin and love the sinner.” Indeed, and loving the sinner includes a call to repentance for all of us. Notice, also, that I’m talking about the practice, not an identity. We cannot ignore what practicing any of these things in these contexts, pagan or otherwise, will do to our souls.

 

What shall we teach about Jesus’ birth? by Doy Moyer

PictureAt this time of year, some people, who may rarely otherwise do so, will think a little bit about Jesus. There are many errors that float around concerning Jesus at this time, but Christians should seize upon the opportunities to teach the truth. If people take this time to think a little about Jesus’ birth, then let’s teach the truth about it. While it is unlikely that Jesus was born on December 25th, the truth is that He was born at some time, and the implications of His birth are far greater than any particular time of the year. If they are willing to do so during this season, why not take people to the Scriptures and let them see the truth of what His birth means? Truth in its purest form will always debunk the errors that find their way into culture.

Yet our goal is not just to debunk errors. Our goal is to get people to understand what really happened so that they can appreciate what it means for their salvation. Here are some biblical points we need to be reminded of:
1. The birth of Jesus was the fruition of God’s plan from the beginning. Isaiah prophesied His birth (7:14; 9:6), and Micah named the place (5:2). The Chief Priests and Scribes understood that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem (Matt 2:4-5). This was no accident. Paul said it all happened “when the fullness of the time came” (Gal 4:4).

2. The birth of Jesus was necessary as God carried out His plan for redemption. Paul wrote that Jesus was born “so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (Gal 4:5). He was born in order to redeem. Joseph was told not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife because the Holy Spirit had caused her to conceive. She would bear a Son, “and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matt 1:21). God’s actions were planned and deliberate, and this plan included entering this world so that He might redeem and save the lost.

A few days after the birth, when presented at the Temple, Simeon held Jesus, and he recognized what this meant: “For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a Light of revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel” (Luke 2:30-32). Then Anna, a prophetess, “came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38).

If we speak of Jesus’ birth, we ought to think of redemption, salvation, and glory. These are continual themes of the Christian regardless of the season.

3. The birth of Jesus created very different reactions. Simeon told Mary, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed—and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:34-35).

To the shepherds, angels spoke of glory to God and peace among men (Luke 2:14). The shepherds made their way to where Jesus was born. Their reaction was to praise and glorify God (vs. 20). The magi, who came from the east a bit later, sought for the Messiah, the King of the Jews (think about the implications of gentile wise men doing this). Their reaction was one of great joy, and they worshiped Him and presented gifts (Matt 2:10-11). Herod, on the other hand, sought to kill Him, initiating a terrible slaughter.

The reactions toward Jesus are similar today. People love Him or hate Him, but they cannot be neutral about Him. We can choose to glorify God, praise Him, and worship, or we can seek to destroy His influence. People still fall and rise because of Jesus. What shall it be for us?

Now here is what people need to know at this time of year: Jesus is not seasonal. Once done, we cannot pack Him back away in a box until next year. If we seek Him now, we must seek Him always. If we worship Him now, we must continue our worship through every season.

Salvation is not seasonal. Jesus was born to redeem us from sin. This is not about a cute little baby. This is about the God of heaven and earth becoming flesh so that we might be saved from our sins. Unless that message is stressed, we have merely turned Jesus into a seasonal commodity.

Let us never forget these true messages of the incarnation: “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

Doy Moyer

via: http://www.mindyourfaith.com/doys-blog/what-shall-we-teach-about-jesus-birth

Husbands and Wives Reflecting the Bride of Christ, by Steve Wolfgang

Over at the website for the Dowlen Road church of Christ, you can find another much needed lesson by Steve Wolfgang. If you have time, spend it meditating on your connection to Christ as seen in your marriage.

Husbands and Wives Reflecting the Bride of Christ: