“Brothers, if any one of you strays from the truth and someone corrects him, let him know that he who converts the sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”
Think about it.
You are a theist. You simply believe in a bad god.
This week, a fellow minister visited my church for a district ministers’ conference. He preached that:
When a person is born into a family where there are abnormalities, it is very easy to come into agreement with negative things.
He said that sickness is an abnormality and used the specific example of Alzheimer’s Disease. Furthermore, he indicated that Alzheimer’s is caused by a demonic spirit. The apparent cure for Alzheimer’s Disease is simply taking authority over it. Furthermore, you are sinning when you allow a family member to have Alzheimer’s disease because you are in agreement with a demonic spirit.
The preacher asked us to turn to Genesis chapter 3.
4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
The passage does not say that Adam attempted to “take authority” over the serpent, Satan. Therefore, the original sin was not disobedience to God’s command, it was actually Adam’s agreement with Satan and his failure to take authority over his wife.
At this point, the minister encouraged the audience to shout and praise the Lord in acclamation of his new teaching. It was incredible.
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
By faith, we identify with the death by crucifixion of Jesus. If we have faith in Christ, then we can consider that we have been crucified with Him. Consequently, we can also identify with his resurrection, that we walk in a new life. His death on the cross takes away our sins by way of substitution, that is, He died for my sins. Furthermore, His death gives power over sin.
For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
When we fully identify with Christ, we consider ourselves dead to carnal passions and sinful desires! If Jesus is your Lord, He should reign over your life. Sin should not control you.
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ provide a new life for an old sinner. There is no new life for us without crucifixion and death to the old life.
But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.
Dying is never much fun. Jesus did not call us to a life of comfort and pleasure. He called us to find something better.
And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.
The existence of the material universe and the existence of life on earth point toward a beginning. How did they begin?
The most plausible explanation would be the existence of an uncaused Creator.
An Alternative Explanation by a Former Christian
An ex-Christian once told me that she had figured out that primitive man needed answers for difficult questions about science, so they invented religion to fill in the things that they did not know yet. She implied that science now has all the answers, and there is no longer any need for religion or faith in gods.
What is an Atheist?
The Greek word for God in the Christian New Testament is “theos”. Therefore, a theist is one who believes in God. An atheist is one who denies a belief in any God or gods.
But which God… the gods of Mormonism, the gods of Hinduism, FSM, the gods of Baha’i, Allah, Jehovah, Christ?
Some people believe that early Christians were labeled atheists because they rejected the deity of the Roman emperors and other Roman gods.
I reject all other gods except the one true God. Therefore, I am predominantly an atheist. The same would be true for all good monotheists.
I first read this concept in an article on wikiHow. I rejected it entirely because it felt as if someone were trying to lump the one true God into the batch of man-made mythological deities, then make it appear as if I arbitrarily plucked one out of a hat, and placed my faith in that one.
I have many colors of paint. If I decide to paint a wooden chair only one color, red, it requires that I must not paint with blue, yellow, green, orange, purple, pink, gold, black or white. When the chair is finished, now a shiny red in place of the dull wood, it wouldn’t make much sense to say it was not painted because I used only one color. Yet, it is true that the chair is NOT painted… with pink. The chair is NOT painted with orange. There are many ways in which the chair is not painted.
If my wife cooks a large dinner, but I eat only one dish, you cannot say that I skipped dinner. I ate chicken and noodles. I did not eat spinach pie. I did not eat onions or cucumbers. You may say, “You did not eat,” but it would not be an accurate statement unless you specified what I did not eat. “You did not eat Brussels sprouts.”
As a monotheist, I do not believe in any and all gods. I reject all gods. I believe in one God and only one God.
If my rejection of false gods makes me an atheist, so be it.
There is only one true God. He is the Answer, the Source, the Author and Finisher.
God loves everyone. No exceptions.
However, I pulled up my copy of the Reformation Study Bible which pointed to an article “God Is Love: Divine Goodness and Faithfulness” that includes a CONDITION for 1 John 4:8-10*:
As always in the New Testament, “we” or “us” as the objects and beneficiaries of redeeming love means “us who believe.” “We” or “us” does not refer to every individual belonging to the human race.
*He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
Should we accept as true anything that we hear, see, or experience without some type of godly analysis or evaluation? How should we perform such an analysis?Are we using Scripture as God intended?
Some Words to Consider
Conjuration – the performance of a supernatural act by means of a magic incantation or spell.
Incantation – the chanting or utterance of words employed as a magic spell.
Spell – magical words, influence or powers.
Magic – the power to influence the course of events by using mysterious or supernatural forces
Stopping Blood by Incantation
Years ago, I knew a woman that had grown up in the hills of Kentucky. She knew that I was a Christian minister. One day, she asked me, “What is that scripture that can stop blood?” I had no idea what she was asking me. “My mother used to speak a Bible verse over us if we had a cut, and it would stop blood. I wondered if you knew which verse that is.”
Later on I learned that she may have been looking for Ezekiel 16:6, It is referenced in the 1997 movie “The Apostle”. Robert Duvall plays the Pentecostal self-proclaimed-apostle E. F. ‘Sonny’ Dewey. In the opening scene, Dewey comes upon a bloody automobile accident, grabs his well-used Bible, runs to the wreck ahead of the sheriff, lifts his hands over the vehicle, and speaks over the driver and passenger,
And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live; yea, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live.
Proof of God’s Approval
On a Christian forum, I found a statement that tells a lot about gullible Christians. The person posting the statement stated that she learned the incantation of Ezekiel 16:6 from her mother who learned it from her grandmother. The incantation supposedly must be made three times for it to work. The writer used the incantation to stop a nosebleed. She considered it a sign from God because it worked.
However, we need to pause and work out some critical thinking.
Magic or Miracles?
Christians must believe in supernatural events, also called miracles. A miracle is a divine preemptive action in the natural world. We believe in the existence of a supernatural Creator. We believe in the miraculous birth of Jesus Christ. We believe Jesus and the Apostles performed miraculous signs and wonders. We believe in the supernatural revelation of the 66 books of the Bible.
However, Christians should not unquestionably accept every mysterious event. Just because it sometimes comes up with an appropriate answer does not qualify Magic 8-ball as miraculous. Christians should also be skeptics, not dupable chumps. Christians should investigate the claims of a miracle.
Dr. Geisler, in his first volume of systematic theology, defines a miracle:
A miracle, then, is a divine intervention into, or an interruption of, the regular course of the world that produces a purposeful but unusual event that would not (or could not) have occurred otherwise.
Magic is the power to influence the events of life through mystical forces. Sometimes magic and illusion are the same thing, in which the illusion is just a natural deception, not a supernatural act.
However, the Bible teaches that there are demonic forces at work in the natural world as well.
The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
[Second Thessalonians 29-10]
A miracle accomplishes the purpose of God through the power of God. Magic is accomplished through either deception or a demonic power.
A miracle glorifies God. Magic is not limited to this scope. Magic may seem to credit God, but may also credit a fairy or a witch.
Since a miracle always brings glory to God, a miracle is always good. There is no such thing as an evil miracle or a black miracle. Magic does not have this limitation.
A miracle is always scriptural, always subject to the authority of Scripture, always reinforcing the truth of the Bible. Magic functions outside of the teaching of the Bible, sometimes in contradiction to the Bible.
The proof of God’s approval is not whether or not a miracle “worked”. The proof of God’s approval is that the miracle is scriptural.
Using Scripture as Intended by God
The Bible did not come from the will of man and therefore should not to be used as an incantation to perform the will of man.
And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
[2 Peter 1:19-21]
The power of God’s Word is that it can transform our lives and empower us to live according to God’s will. It is an act of heresy to twist God’s Word for our own purposes:
Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.
[2 Peter 3:14-16]
When we read God’s Word, it reveals the motives for our behavior.
For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Paul commands us to handle God’s Word responsibly, not as an ordinary book or some superstitious nonsense.
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness.
[2 Timothy 2:15]
Scripture was intended for us to read and hear what God says, so that we might respond with obedient actions.
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
[2 Timothy 3:16]
We are to memorize Scripture, apply it, and live it out.
Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
Using Scripture to Perform Magic
Scripture can be abused if it is used with false motives or selfish intent. Even Satan quoted the Bible. He quoted from Psalm 91 when he tempted Jesus Christ in Luke chapter four.
“If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. For it is written:
‘He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you,’
‘In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.’”
And Jesus answered and said to him, “It has been said, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’ ”
It does not sanctify a magical incantation when you use a Scripture to stop blood or for any other conjuration. The Bible is not a book of magic spells and good luck charms.
Incantation and conjuring are pagan practices associated with spell-casting and witchcraft. Sadly, some Christians have adopted pagan superstitious practices. Scripture is not for incantations, speaking words over objects or people to manipulate them.
Don’t have anything to do with pagan practices. Distance yourself from superstition and magic.
Instead, read God’s Word. Hear the Word. Memorize it. Preach it. Live it.
The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are inseparable from the promise of the Holy Spirit.
The Apostle Paul was transformed by both the cross and Pentecost together.
- Ananias was sent to Saul so he would be filled with the Holy Spirit.
- Ananias laid his hands upon Saul.
- Saul experienced something supernatural as Ananias touched him.
- Saul was healed, received his sight.
And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.
So when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus.
Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.
The evidence of the Holy Spirit’s power, the power that transformed Saul, the power that healed Saul, is entirely irrefutable. Saul’s doubts and prejudices were suddenly meaningless. He could not even argue with himself about the reality of who Jesus is.
God wants you to experience both the power of the cross and the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Hallowing of Hallowe’en
“In the carnival celebrations of All Hallows’ Eve our ancestors used the most powerful weapon in the human arsenal, the power of humor and ridicule to confront the power of death. The following day, in the commemoration of All Saints, we gave witness to the victory of incarnate goodness embodied in remarkable deeds and doers triumphing over the misanthropy of darkness and devils.” [Sam Portraro, Brightest and Best : A Companion to the Lesser Feasts and Fasts, 1998:Cowley Publications]
A martyr is a person who dies for his or her faith. A martyr chooses death rather than deny faith in Jesus Christ. (In recent years, there has been an increase of persecution and martyrdom of Christians. More Christians have died for their faith in the last century than in all previous centuries combined.) A large number of Christians were martyred in the first three centuries, especially under the Roman caesar/emperor, Diocletian.
At first, the anniversary of each martyr’s death was honored. Since there were so many Christians being murdered, it eventually became impractical to keep each of these holy days. A common day was selected to honor the deaths of all martyrs as well as the death of John the Baptist. The date was originally on the Sunday after Pentecost, later it was celebrated a week after Good Friday.
Later in Church history, the festival was changed to include all saints. In the late 700’s, Charlemagne adjusted the calendar and solemnized November 1 as a festival of all the saints.
“…but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” [First Peter 1:15,16]
The word “saint” is from Latin sanctus which means “holy” or “sanctified”. The New Testament teaches that all believers in Jesus Christ are made holy, or sanctified, and should live holy lives. Many modern churches honor All Saints Day as a day to reflect on those members, past or present, who have died and are with the Lord. It is similar to our American tradition of Decoration Day or Memorial Day.
The evening before the festival of all the saints was a time to prepare to honor the dead. The word “hallow” is from Middle English hallowen which means “to make holy” or “sanctify”. It became known as “All Hallows’ Eve” or “Hallow Even” or “Hallowe’en”. Halloween means Holy Evening. It is a time of merriment and joking before the solemn days to follow. When Christianity spread through Europe, the festival picked up some of the games and harvest festival traditions of those people.
It is significant that Martin Luther chose this day, All Hallows’ Eve, October 31, 1517, to post his 95 Theses against indulgences on the door of the Castle Church of Wittenberg. At that time, indulgences were being sold by the church to remove the punishment of sins from those that were dead.
As time has passed, All Hallows’ Eve has evolved to include some non-biblical traditions, such as the veneration of saints or the placation of demonic spirits. Some people go so far as to celebrate it in honor of the devil instead of memorializing the deaths of those who believe in Jesus Christ.