Why should I be baptized?

Do it because it is in the Bible.

The Scriptures have multiple examples of people who were baptized (immersed in water), and the first example is Jesus himself.

Do it because Jesus did it.

Jesus was not baptized to wash away His sins. Jesus had no sins. Jesus was baptized to identify with God. In the historical record, God spoke from heaven when Jesus was baptized. The Holy Spirit descended on Him like a dove.

Do it as a confession of faith in the person of Jesus.

Be baptized because you want to identify with Jesus.

Baptism is a physical way to proclaim your spiritual identification with Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Do it as a proclamation of faith in the death of Jesus.

Do it as a proclamation of faith in the resurrection of Jesus.

Actually, Jesus set in place two important rituals that point toward his death and resurrection.

  • At the start of His earthly ministry, Jesus went to John at the Jordan River and demonstrated water baptism.
  • Near the end of His earthly ministry, on the night that He was betrayed, Jesus met with the Twelve and shared communion.

Jesus’ baptism also foreshadowed His own death, burial, and resurrection.

Do it as an affirmation of your own spiritual renewal.

The Scriptures associate baptism with faith, repentance, forgiveness, the Presence of the Holy Spirit, transformation, and a good conscience.

Baptism is a proclamation of transformation. “Look how Jesus changed me. I was dead in sin. I believe that Jesus died to remove my sin and give me a new life. Since Jesus resurrected from the dead, He enables me to have a new life in Christ.”

Do it as an act of obedience to Jesus.

Jesus commissioned his disciples to baptize people in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Peter exhorted people to be baptized in the Name of Jesus.

Do it to honor God in a tangible way.

Do it because you want people to see it.

Baptism is a picture of God’s grace in your life.

Do it because you want people to know that you are a changed person ready to live a new life.


Did you know…

Jesus routinely practiced the Jewish ritual immersion in water in a mikveh?

Mikva’ot are stepped baths filled with water large enough to fully immerse an adult. They were built to fulfill the requirement in the Law for ritual purity. See Leviticus chapters 11-15 and Numbers chapter 19. There have been almost 900 ancient mikva’ot dating to the Second Temple period (the time of Christ) discovered by archaeologists in almost every location in Israel. The Pool of Siloam was a stepped pool that would have qualified as a mikveh large enough to accomodate large numbers of individuals who were in Jerusalem to visit the holy Temple. Jesus and his disciples would have used the Pool of Siloam before ascending to the Temple Mount. On the Day of Pentecost, the Pool of Siloam is the likely site of the baptisms of Acts 2:41.

So those who accepted his message were baptized, and on that day about three thousand souls were added.

 

 

 

The Apostolic Prayers of the New Testament

What is an apostolic prayer?

An apostolic prayer is a type of prayer found in the New Testament that was either prayed or written by an apostle. These prayers typically express the apostles’ desire for believers to grow in their faith and knowledge of God, as well as their desire for God to work in and through the believers to accomplish His purposes. Examples of apostolic prayers in the New Testament include Paul’s prayers in Ephesians 1:15-23 and 3:14-21, as well as his prayer in Colossians 1:9-14.

Here are a few examples of apostolic prayers found in the New Testament:

  1. Ephesians 1:15-23 – Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians, asking God to give them wisdom and revelation in knowing Him better and the hope to which He has called them, and that they may know the greatness of God’s power toward those who believe.
  2. Colossians 1:9-14 – Paul’s prayer for the Colossians, asking God to fill them with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, that they may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way.
  3. Philippians 1:9-11 – Paul’s prayer for the Philippians, asking that their love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that they may be able to discern what is best and be pure and blameless until the day of Christ.
  4. 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 – Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonians, asking God to fulfill their every good purpose and faith by His power, so that the name of Jesus may be glorified in them and them in Him.
  5. 1 Corinthians 1:4-9 – Paul’s thanksgiving and prayer for the Corinthians, giving thanks for the grace of God given to them in Christ Jesus, and asking that they may be strengthened in every way, so that they may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
  6. Romans 15:5-6 – Paul’s prayer for unity among the believers, asking God to grant them to live in harmony with one another, according to Christ Jesus, so that together they may with one voice glorify the God and Father of their Lord Jesus Christ.

[a]This article was created using ChatGPT.

Notes[+]

Rhema vs. Logos

I was disappointed.

I was disappointed to read a post on the social media page of a popular Christian author. He wrote on January 9.

For logos to be effective in your life, you must intentionally mix it with faith (Heb 4:2). Rhema, in contrast, comes with such vibrancy that it often releases faith with its delivery.

He refers to Hebrews 4:2. This verse contains a word that is translated from the Greek text. The Greek word is logos (λόγος). It can be translated as either “message” or “word.” However, Hebrews 4:2 does not say that a logos lacks vibrancy, nor does it say that a rhema (ῥῆμα) has vibrancy. Hebrews 4:2 doesn’t mention any vibrancy.

Just what does Hebrews 4:2 say?

(ESV) For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.

(NASB) For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also did; but the word they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united with those who listened with faith.

If such a thing as vibrancy exists, it would seem that the listeners of Hebrews 4:2 lacked that mysterious element. The word wasn’t inferior in any way, which is what the author is saying that the Scripture says.

The Scripture doesn’t agree with the author’s assessment of logos. The author is not in alignment with the Word of God.

There are two words for “word.”

The writer is pointing at two Bible words that are translated into English as “word.”

  • In Hebrews 4:2, the word used is λόγος (logos).
  • In some other passages, ῥῆμα (rhema) is translated as “word.”

The writer contrasts LOGOS with RHEMA, indicating that a LOGOS word is ineffective at first, but a RHEMA word is immediately effective to “release” faith. He cites Hebrews 4:2 as a source of this explanation.

There are multiple examples from Scripture.

Ephesians 6:17

…and receive the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word (RHEMA) of God

  • This RHEMA refers to the “Gospel of peace” in 6:15 which Paul introduced in Ephesians 1:13 as the “gospel of your salvation.” Paul writes, “…when you heard the word (LOGOS) of truth, the gospel of your salvation.” A written word cannot be heard unless it is a spoken word. Paul treats LOGOS and RHEMA as practical synonyms in this letter.

John 6:63

The Spirit is the one who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words (RHEMATA) that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. [a]RHEMATA is plural of RHEMA.

  • Jesus helps us understand that he is talking about the spoken RHEMATA by adding “that I have spoken.” If RHEMA is restricted to a spoken word, then Jesus was being redundant. His statement shows that we need clarification in this instance.

1 Peter 1:22-25

Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for sincere brotherly love, love one another fervently from the heart, because you have been born again, not from perishable seed but imperishable, through the living and enduring word (LOGOS) of God. For “all flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of the grass. The grass withers and the flower falls off, but the word (RHEMA) of the Lord endures forever.” And this is the word (RHEMA) that has been proclaimed to you.

  • Peter uses LOGOS and RHEMA interchangeably. When the LOGOS was proclaimed to Peter’s audience, he called it RHEMA, not because Peter was using the power of confession to release the creative power of God, but because LOGOS was the message that was spoken.
  • Peter cites from Isaiah 40:6-8. “Grass withers; the flower withers, but the word of our God will stand forever.” In the time of Christ and Peter, the Scriptures, including Isaiah, had been translated from Hebrew into Greek. This “word” (Hebrew: DABAR) from Isaiah is translated into the Greek LOGOS, but Peter substitutes RHEMA for LOGOS. This translation is not a contradiction for Peter if he sees the two words as near-synonyms. If RHEMA and LOGOS are so distinct as suggested, then Peter was making a huge mistake. If RHEMA and LOGOS are as similar as they appear in the other Scriptures, then Peter is justified when he uses RHEMA in place of LOGOS for Isaiah 40:8.
  • RHEMA means a message or a proclamation. When the LOGOS is preached, it can be called RHEMA or LOGOS.

John 18:31,32

So Pilate said to them, “You take him and judge him according to your law!” The Jews said to him, “It is not permitted for us to kill anyone,” in order that the word (LOGOS) of Jesus would be fulfilled that he had spoken, indicating by what sort of death he was going to die.

  • These words of Jesus had not been written down at the time that he spoke them. LOGOS is not always a written word.
  • In the same way as John 6:63, a phrase is employed to clarify that RHEMA is speech in this incidence, “that he had spoken.”

Maybe the mix-up started with someone else.

Kenneth E. Hagin said,

“Faith is always expressed in words. Faith must be released in words through your mouth. We can see that in all of these Scriptures we have read. When you speak something, that is action.”

The truth is that faith is expressed in obedient works and not by confession. The Book of James contradicts the idea that speaking words is action.

Word of Faith authors appear to agree with the author, saying that LOGOS is the written word and that RHEMA words are faith-filled spoken words that release the creative power of God when spoken.

When the Holy Spirit speaks to you, He quickens a Scripture verse or specific direction to you—a specific word for a specific time and purpose. [b]https://www.rhema.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2679:what-is-rhema

There is no great distinction between the two words.

The truth is that the New Testament does not demonstrate this distinction. Jesus is called the LOGOS, and he is not the written word. The creative power of RHEMA is a concept that comes from outside the Scriptures and has been substituted for the direct teaching of Scripture.

Consider this official position stated by the Assemblies of God:

There are two major problems with this distinction. First, the distinction is not justified by usage either in the Greek New Testament or in the Septuagint (Greek version of the Old Testament). The words are used synonymously in both. [c]The General Council of the Assemblies of God, Assemblies of God: Position Papers (Springfield, MO: The General Council of the Assemblies of God, 1972–2017).

Consider the full definition found in Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words.

Proponents of the LOGOS/RHEMA distinction depend upon a partial quotation from W. E. Vine.

rhḗma (ῥῆμα in Greek); that which is spoken, what is uttered in speech or writing;1 an utterance (individually, collectively, or specifically);2 the word by which something is commanded, directed, or enjoined;3 something that is spoken clearly and vividly, in unmistakable terms and in an undeniable language. In the New Testament, the word rhema carries the idea of a quickened word.[d]https://www.rhema.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2679:what-is-rhema

Vine includes more information that may be intentionally left out since it does not reinforce the strong distinction needed by RHEMA teachers. Vine tells us that RHEMA is not a completely different concept from LOGOS.

The significance of rhema (as distinct from logos) is exemplified in the injunction to take “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,” Eph. 6:17; here the reference is not to the whole Bible as such, but to the individual scripture which the Spirit brings to our remembrance for use in time of need, a prerequisite being the regular storing of the mind with Scripture. [e]W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, and William White Jr., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1996), 683.

On the same page, Vine also gives a definition of LOGOS that includes spoken words.

logos (λόγος) denotes (I) “the expression of thought”… (a) as embodying a conception or idea… (b) a saying or statement…  (c) discourse, speech, of instruction. [f]W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, and William White Jr., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1996), 683.

Stay Alert

If you care about the authentic Word of God, don’t fall for tricksters that use the RHEMA/LOGOS false distinction that is contrary to the teachings of Scripture. They will want you to believe that this doctrine is original from the Bible, and it is not.

Stop living out of alignment with the Word of God.

Notes[+]

Why do Christians sing?

Christians sing for several reasons, including:

  1. Worship and adoration: Christians believe that singing is a form of worship and a way to express their love and adoration for God.
  2. Proclamation of truth: Christians sing to proclaim the truth of the gospel and share the good news with others.
  3. Unity: Singing together can create a sense of unity and community among believers.
  4. Encouragement and comfort: Singing can be a source of encouragement and comfort in difficult times, reminding believers of God’s love and faithfulness.
  5. Instruction: Hymns and worship songs often contain biblical teachings and can serve as a way to teach and reinforce important theological concepts.
  6. Response: Singing can be a response to God’s goodness and grace, as well as a way to express repentance and seek forgiveness.

The oldest song that Christians still sing today is believed to be the “Phos Hilaron” or “Hail Gladdening Light,” a hymn of evening light that is traditionally sung at sunset. This song dates back to at least the 3rd century AD and is still sung by many Christians, especially in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Other early Christian hymns and songs include the “Gloria in Excelsis Deo” and the “Te Deum Laudamus,” both of which date back to the 4th century AD.

This ancient hymn actually uses “hymn” in verb form. The noun is ὕμνος (humnos), and the verb is ὑμνέω (humneo). In Φῶς ἱλαρὸν (Phos Hilaron). the verb takes the form ὑμνεῖσθαι (humneisthai). The ending indicates the infinitive verb is middle voice aorist whatever that means.

Phos Hilaron

Φῶς ἱλαρὸν ἁγίας δόξης, ἀθανάτου Πατρός, οὐρανίου, ἁγίου, μάκαρος, Ἰησοῦ Χριστέ, ἐλθόντες ἐπὶ τὴν ἡλίου δύσιν, ἰδόντες φῶς ἑσπερινόν, ὑμνοῦμεν Πατέρα, Υἱόν, καὶ ἅγιον Πνεῦμα Θεόν. Ἄξιόν σε ἐν πᾶσι καιροῖς, ὑμνεῖσθαι φωναῖς αἰσίαις, Υἱὲ Θεοῦ, ζωὴν ὁ διδούς, Διὸ ὁ κόσμος σὲ δοξάζει.

Hail, gladdening Light, of His pure glory poured
Who is the immortal Father, heavenly, blest,
Holiest of holies, Jesus Christ our Lord!

Now we are come to the sun’s hour of rest;
The lights of evening round us shine;
We hymn the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit divine!

Worthiest art thou at all times to be sung
With undefiled tongue, Son of our God, giver of life, alone;
Therefore in all the world thy glories, Lord, they own.

[Source]

Basil of Caesarea

Phos Hilaron (Φῶς ἱλαρὸν) is an ancient Christian hymn originally written in Koine Greek. The hymn is known in English as ‘Hail Gladdening Light,’ or ‘O Gladsome Light.’ It is the earliest known Christian hymn, recorded outside of the Bible, that is still being used today. The hymn is featured in the Vespers of the Orthodox Church.

The song is first recorded by an unknown author in the Constitutiones Apostolicae which was written in the late 3rd or early 4th century A.D. It is found in a collection of songs to be sung in the morning, in the evening, before meals, and at candle lighting. Phos Hilaron is to be sung at the lighting of candles in the evening and so is sometimes known as the ‘Candle-light Hymn’. Despite some of the words to the other three songs being from Scripture or in one case dated to around 150 AD, Phos Hilaron is the first to be considered an actual hymn in the modern sense. It is certainly the first complete example. It is far more rhythmic than the others and is divided into twelve verses varying between five, six, eight, nine, ten and eleven syllables a verse. Basil the Great (ca. 330 – January 1, 379) spoke of the singing of the Phos Hilaron as a cherished tradition of the church, the hymn being already considered old in his day (though some attribute the composition of the song to St Basil himself).

At that time in Jerusalem a candle was kept perpetually burning in the empty tomb of Christ, its glow a symbol of the living light of Jesus. As Christians gathered to worship the hymn was sung and, in a tradition known as the lighting of the lamps, the candle was brought forth from the tomb, its bright, solitary flame calling the church to celebrate the risen Lord.

Athenogenes, a saint of unknown date but is commemorated 16th July, is believed by some to have composed this hymn on the way to being martyred. He is often depicted as an elderly bishop with the executioner’s arm paralyzed until the saint has completed his song. The Roman Martyrology states: “In Pontus, the birthday of Saint Athenogenes, [is celebrated, he was] an aged theologian, who, when about to consummate his martyrdom by fire, sang a hymn of joy, which he left in writing to his disciples.” He is probably identical to the bishop who suffered at Sebaste, Armenia, with ten disciples under Diocletian on July 16; therefore estimating his death as around 305 A.D. However, Basil the Great notes the “ancient form” of this hymn, states it comes from antiquity, and states that it is of unknown origin immediately prior to mentioning the story of “the Hymn of Athenogenes, which, as he was hurrying on to his perfecting by fire, he left as a kind of farewell gift to his friends.” Basil the Great is clearly stating that Athenogenes wrote a different hymn, which scholars believe to be “Δόξα ἐν ὑψίστοις” (Glory to God in the highest), a.k.a. the Great Doxology. [a]https://orthodoxwiki.org/Phos_Hilaron

Basil wrote:

I will now adduce another piece of evidence which might perhaps seem insignificant, but because of its antiquity must in nowise be omitted by a defendant who is indicted on a charge of innovation. It seemed fitting to our fathers not to receive the gift of the light at eventide in silence, but, on its appearing, immediately to give thanks. Who was the author of these words of thanksgiving at the lighting of the lamps, we are not able to say. The people, however, utter the ancient form, and no one has ever reckoned guilty of impiety those who say “We praise Father, Son, and God’s Holy Spirit.”

(Ps. 141. was called ὁ ἐπιλύχνιος ψαλμός (Ap. Const. viii. 35). In the Vespers of the Eastern Church an evening hymn is sung, translated in D.C.A. i. 634, “Joyful Light of the holy glory of the immortal Father, the heavenly, the holy, the blessed Jesus Christ, we having come to the setting of the sun and beholding the evening light, praise God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. It is meet at all times that thou shouldest be hymned with auspicious voices, Son of God, Giver of Life: wherefore the world glorifieth thee.”)

And if any one knows the Hymn of Athenogenes, (identified by some with two early hymns, Δόξα ἐν ὑψίστοις, and φῶς ἱλαρόν) which, as he was hurrying on to his perfecting by fire, he left as a kind of farewell gift (The MSS. vary between ἐξιτήριον and ἀλεξιτήριον, farewell gift and amulet or charm. In Ep. cciii. 229 Basil says that our Lord gave His disciples peace as an ἐξιτήριον δῶρον, using the word, but in conjunction with δῶρον. Greg. Naz., Orat. xiv. 223 speaks of our Lord leaving peace “ὥσπερ ἄλλο τι ἐξιτήριον.”) to his friends, he knows the mind of the martyrs as to the Spirit. On this head I shall say no more. [b]Basil of Caesarea, “The Book of Saint Basil on the Spirit,” in St. Basil: Letters and Select Works, ed. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, trans. Blomfield Jackson, vol. 8, A Select Library of the … Continue reading

 

[c]This article includes some content created using OpenAI’s ChatGPT

Notes[+]

How to Find Bible Contradictions in Jesus’ Birth Story

Why does the account of Jesus’ birth in the Gospel of Luke contradict the account in the Gospel of Matthew?

Compare the two passages to see this irreconcilable contradiction.

BOTH: Nazareth → Bethlehem

Both passages agree that Mary and Joseph traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem where Jesus was born. They don’t agree on where the Holy Family went after Bethlehem.

LUKE: Bethlehem → Nazareth

Click image for larger map.

 

Luke chapter 2 says that they made a brief trip from their home in Bethlehem to the Temple in Jerusalem to fulfill the law of Moses, then returned immediately back to Nazareth from Bethlehem.

22 And when the days of their purification were completed according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (just as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male that opens the womb will be called holy to the Lord”) 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what was stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

39 And when they had completed everything according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth.

 

MATTHEW: Bethlehem → Egypt → Nazareth

Click image for larger map.

 

Matthew chapter 2 says the Mary, Joseph, and Jesus left Bethlehem and went to Egypt until Herod was dead, then the Holy Family returned to Nazareth.

1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem,

13 Now after they had gone away, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph, saying, “Get up, take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. For Herod is about to seek the child to destroy him.” 14 So he got up and took the child and his mother during the night and went away to Egypt. 15 And he was there until the death of Herod…

19 Now after Herod had died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 saying, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the life of the child are dead.” 21 So he got up and took the child and his mother and entered the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream, he took refuge in the regions of Galilee. 23 And he came and lived in a town called Nazareth, in order that what was said by the prophets would be fulfilled: “He will be called a Nazarene.”

The previous summary is inaccurate.

The differences between Matthew and Luke are not irreconcilable differences. They are actually complementary passages.

The Truth About Matthew’s Account

Actually, the Gospel of Matthew does not contain any mention of Joseph and Mary coming from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Matthew is silent on Nazareth until 2:23. However this is not a problem since Luke’s account includes the section.

Matthew does not say that Mary and Joseph did not come from Nazareth. If Matthew had said that Mary and Joseph came from their home in Jericho or some other city, there would be a real contradiction. Or if Matthew had said that Mary and Joseph had never been to Nazareth before, there would be a real contradiction. However, there is not a contradiction about something that was not said. Matthew simply doesn’t mention the location of Nazareth until after Egypt in 2:23.

Matthew’s silence on the Nazareth section does not prevent us from accepting the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem found in Luke.

Furthermore, Matthew does not contain the section about the shepherds and angels. There are no problems with this since the shepherds come from the Luke passage. Both accounts are needed to get the complete story.

Not documenting an event is not a denial of that event when it is documented by another historian.

The Truth About Luke’s Account

Actually, the Gospel of Luke does not contain any mention of Joseph and Mary returning from Jerusalem to Bethlehem before moving back home to Nazareth. However, we know that Bethlehem was their home away from home for the time while Mary was pregnant and when Jesus was delivered (Luke 2:4-6), and possibly up to two years after his birth (Matthew 2:16). So, we can be sure that they left the Temple in Jerusalem and returned to their house in Bethlehem before the journey back to Nazareth in Galilee. There is not a contradiction about something that was not said.

Furthermore, Luke does not mention the visit of the wise men and the slaughter of the children by angry king Herod. But, there are no problems since Matthew covers this section very well.

Another inaccuracy from the opening account is very subtle. I claim that Luke says the Holy Family returned immediately to Nazareth after fulfilling the legal rituals in Jerusalem. The Scripture says “they returned” not “they returned immediately without any trips to Egypt.” When we insert an extra word, we create a contradiction that isn’t really there.

But doesn’t Luke use chronological language here? Yes. He indicates that the move back to Galilee did not take place before the rituals in Jerusalem. We accept that the family did not go straight from Jerusalem to Nazareth even though Luke doesn’t include a section about Bethlehem between Jerusalem and Nazareth. We can’t know why. And therefore, we can’t know why Luke doesn’t tell us how long, days or years, between Jerusalem and Nazareth. If we accept Matthew’s account of Egypt, there was a pretty good gap of time not mentioned by Luke.

Luke’s silence on the Egypt passage isn’t proof that Egypt never happened. We accept Matthew’s account of the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem even though Luke is silent. We accept Matthew’s account of the wise men even though Luke is silent. We accept Matthew’s account of angry king Herod ordering the massacre of children even though Luke is silent. We accept Luke’s account of shepherds even though Matthew is silent. We accept Luke’s account of the Jerusalem visit even though Matthew is silent.

We need both Matthew’s account and Luke’s account to see a more complete history.

Each of these two historians had a perspective on the birth of Christ. We need to read both accounts. There is no contradiction if we don’t create one by adding phrases or presumptions that are not in the historical text.

COMBINED ACCOUNTS: Nazareth → Bethlehem → Jerusalem → Bethlehem → Egypt → Nazareth

 

There is No Joy in the Decision to Strike Down Roe vs. Wade

  1. This ruling cannot erase the death of over 60 million innocent citizens.
  2. The persons responsible for the murder of innocent children are still free to murder more.
  3. This ruling has no power to change the heart of responsible adults.
  4. This ruling does not address the root problem of devaluation of human life, does not recognize that a human death for the sake of the convenience is always murder.
  5. This ruling does not address the root problem of sexual promiscuity and behavioral irresponsibility.

How to Answer Accusations of Hypocrisy Against Christians

Forgive.

If you have been falsely accused of something that you did not do, forgive the accuser. Drop the offense. Refuse to be personally offended by personal remarks. If you are emotionally hurting or angry, you may not be listening, you may not be able to identify the hypocrisy that has been exposed (because exposing hypocrisy is a good thing), you may be tempted to respond in kind (to attack the person that attacked you)

Proverbs 19:11. Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.

It is not necessary to say aloud to your accuser that you forgive them unless you hope to prolong a meaningless argument.

Agree.

Tell the accuser that they are right. The behavior was sinful and “unChristlike.”

Apologize.

If the accusation of hypocrisy is true about you, apologize for disobeying Jesus and for

misrepresenting the true message of Christ. Then go, and sin no more.

If the accusation of hypocrisy is about someone else, apologize on behalf of the other person. Tell the accuser that Jesus has been misrepresented. You will not be apologizing for Jesus or for behavior approved by Jesus. You will be apologizing on behalf of a person that claimed to be a Christian while they behaved in a way that was contrary to the teachings of Jesus.

Do not make excuses for disobedience to Jesus. Just admit that it was wrong and should never have been done by a follower of Jesus.

Thank.

Thank the accuser for their help to identify bad behavior by Christians. The greater picture will show that this will help reduce hypocrisy and Jesus will be glorified in better ways.

It makes no difference if your accuser was trying to harm you or help you, if the accusation is true, sin was called out, and Christlike behavior was encouraged. The goal of life is to live like Jesus.

Why are accusations of hypocrisy good for Christianity?

Hypocrisy is pretending to possess specific virtues that are contradicted by your behavior. For example, if I preach that extramarital relationships are sinful while I am unfaithful to my wife, I am a hypocrite. If I expect people to listen to my preaching but to ignore my bad behavior, I am a hypocrite.

This week, I listened to a program featuring a celebrity transgender person named Trystan Reese. The turning point of the story is when six-month-pregnant Reese reads a message from a woman that says, “As a Christian, I hope that you give birth to a dead baby because that baby would be better off than a baby that has to born to someone like you.” In the narrative, after reading the message, Reese loses hope and has a horrible nightmare about the baby. Reese says that before the death-wish message “I didn’t know that people hate us.”

The “Christian” death-wish woman in the story is a hypocrite.

A hypocrite is a fake. A hypocrite is a person that behaves in a manner that is incongruous with their professed values or principles. For example, a woman who professes to value love and kindness and grace (Christian core values) while she writes a death wish to another person is a hypocrite, a fake.

Hypocrisy is not a Christian trait. Accusations of hypocrisy should not be limited to Christians. A secular person practices hypocrisy when she states that her core beliefs are social justice, tolerance and inclusivity while she condemns and excludes all Christians.

I have heard, more than once, that all Christians are hypocrites so going to church is a bad idea. This ignores glaring truth that hypocrites thrive in “non-Christian” environments of bars, theaters, clubs, gambling establishments, social groups, and other organizations, but we don’t cry so loudly for everyone to abandon those groups of hypocrites. We target Christians.

We target Christians because their stated purpose is to be faithful and truthful and loving and gracious and forgiving and holy and peaceful and kind and self-controlled. Christians claim to follow Jesus. Christians claim that they want to be like Jesus and to be transformed into the character of Jesus just like the Bible says. Therefore, when someone who takes the name of Christian behaves in a way that contradicts the behavior prescribed in Scripture, they should be called out for that hypocrisy. On the other hand, there is no apparent contradiction when sinners behave like sinners or when pagans behave like pagans. But when Christians behave like heathens, someone ought to say something.

Christian core values like faith, truth, love, grace, forgiveness, salvation, righteousness, holiness, spiritual fruit, and Spirit-empowerment make it so easy to identify someone who is in violation of those values that even a heathen can accurately call out a hypocrite. Calling someone a hypocrite validates Christian values.

If Christian values have no merit, then the accusation of hypocrisy is pointless. On the other hand, accusations of hypocrisy rise from the foundation of Christian values. Truth and righteousness are actually excellent qualities for establishing social relationships. Love and forgiveness, also Christian values, are vital to human relationships. Therefore, accusations of hypocrisy do not call for the abandonment of love and faithfulness, and grace, but rather, accusations of hypocrisy ask us to return to Christian core values because those values are important. Christian values are good for society.

Christians should behave like followers of Jesus Christ. When our behavior contradicts Jesus, we need a call to repentance. When a heathen points out your un-Christlike behavior, you should feel called to repentance. If you have ever sent hate mail to another person, you need to repent and send an apology to ask for forgiveness. If you are not living like Jesus, you are a hypocrite and a fake, and you need to change.


1 John 4:20
If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.

James 1:26
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.

Romans 2:3
Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God?1 John 2:9 ESV / 464 helpful votes Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.

2 Timothy 3:5
Having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

Titus 1:16
They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.

Matthew 7:15
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

1 John 2:4
Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him,

James 2:14-26
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. …

Matthew 6:5
“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.

Romans 2:1-5
Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

How to Ruin Christmas

Strip the nativity Bible narratives of all human traditions that have been added to the birth of Jesus.

  • Luke 2:4-7. Mary did not ride a donkey to Bethlehem.
  • Luke 2:9-15. There is no “innkeeper[a]However, if the house belonged to Joseph, and the guest chamber/κατάλυμα was already full, then Joseph clearly had a host who managed the house and residents while he was away in Nazareth. … Continue reading(and “inn” is a poor translation of the word for an “upper room”).
  • Matthew 2:9-11. The star was capable of standing still above a single house as a supernatural guiding light, not a giant incandescent body like our sun.
  • Matthew 2:9-11. We don’t know how many wise men. Three types of gifts are given.
  • Matthew 2:9-11. The wise men were not at the manger with the shepherds.
  • Matthew 2:11. The wise men visited a house, not a barn or stable.
  • Luke 2:9-15. There was no angel at the manger.
  • Luke 2:9-15. There was no angelic choir or singing to the shepherds.
  • Luke 2:16. There is no mention of a stable or barn. (Mangers were common features found inside houses.)
  • Luke 2:9-15. There were no animals at the birth of Jesus.
  • Luke 2:9-15. There was no drummer boy… or even a shepherd “boy.”
  • Luke 2:9-15. There were no talking animals not even at midnight.
  • There is no Santa Claus, Rudolph, or Frosty. No Christmas tree or Christmas stockings. There is no gift exchange.

Be divisive and argumentative about Christmas traditions.

…if you have no interest in bringing others to Christ, no interest in being a peacemaker, but only want to prove your own arrogance.

Here is advice from 2 Timothy 2:

Make every effort to present yourself approved to God, a worker having no need to be ashamed, guiding the word of truth along a straight path. But avoid pointless chatter, for it will progress to greater ungodliness…

Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness.

God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. [b]2 Timothy 2:15,16,23-26

We have many extra-biblical traditions every day of the year, not just at Christmas. We have birthday traditions, graduation traditions, sports traditions, family traditions, wedding traditions, and so on. Perhaps a person can consider human traditions as decorations or adornments that are useful for celebration without elevating those traditions as if they were the central truth.

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How to Pray

Prayer is talking to God. Someone told me that they did not pray because they did not know how. If you can talk to me, you can talk to God.

Jesus taught how to pray and started by telling his disciples how NOT to pray.

Don’t pray because you want to impress other people.

And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. [a] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Mt 6:5,6.

Prayer is not a talent show. Prayer is not a competition for best prayer. You have an audience of one, God. It is senseless to try to impress Him. He knows who you really are. He is far more intelligent than you will ever be.

Save your fancy words with ornaments and decorations for someone else. Prayer works best with plain and simple words.

Don’t criticize the simple prayer.

Don’t fill your prayer with empty phrases.

Don’t think that God will hear your prayer because of how many words that you use.

Not too many words:

And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. [b]The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Mt 6:7,8.

The demonstration of God’s spiritual power does not require lofty speech at any time.

And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. [c]The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), 1 Co 2:1–5.

Look at the example of prayer that Jesus provided to his disciples.

Prayer is not a shopping list for God.

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
 Give us this day our daily bread,
 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. [d]The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Mt 6:9–15.

If the Model Prayer were a list:

  • Review the divine attribute of holiness
  • Request that God’s will be accomplished
  • Give us a piece of bread for today
  • Our need to forgive and be forgiven
  • Resistance to temptation to evil

Only one item is a personal request, asking God to give us something: daily bread.

The first item on the list is reviewing the truth about God’s nature prior to asking for anything else. The prayer in Acts 1 reads, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” Peter and company begin by describing the attribute of God that applies to their request for guidance while choosing a replacement for Judas. In their prayer, the attributes are related to God’s omniscience and ability to see into the human heart. It reminds me of the Lord’s instruction to the prophet Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” It makes me think that the church leaders were also remembering the attributes of God that are recorded in Holy Scripture and including them in this prayer.

The remaining items on the Model Prayer list could be categorized as asking God to work through us. May your heavenly kingdom come to earth through me. Accomplish Your will on earth through me. May I forgive others. May I be forgiven. May I resist temptation and be spared from sin.

I would propose that we accept this pattern in our own prayers. 1. Begin by reviewing who God is, ascribing glory to His Name, looking into the Scriptures to reveal His nature as relates to our prayer. 2. Simply ask God to provide what you need. 3. Spend more time asking God to work through you than asking Him to work for you. Focus upon God accomplishing His will and bringing Kingdom practices into your earthly life and relationships with others.

 

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