John 13 1 ESV

John 13:1 Jesus Washes the Disciples’ Feet 13 Now n before o the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that p his hour had come q to depart out of this world to the Father, r having loved s his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. John 13:1 English Standard Version (ESV) Jesus Washes the Disciples' Feet. 13 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. John 13 English Standard Version Jesus Washes the Disciples’ Feet 1 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. (Joh 1:11; Joh 6:4; Joh 12:1; Joh 12:23; Joh 13:3; Joh 13:34; Joh 16:28; Joh 17:6; Joh 17:9). 2 During supper, when the devil had ... John 13 English Standard Version (ESV) Jesus Washes the Disciples' Feet. 13 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him, 3 Jesus, knowing ... John 13 - Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. ... John 13 :: English Standard Version (ESV) Strong's. Red Letter. Verse. Paragraph. John 13:1 - ESV: Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 1 Now # ch. 12:1 before # See ch. 6:4 the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that # See ch. 12:23 his hour had come # ver. 3; ch. 16:28 to depart out of this world to the Father, # ver. 34 having loved # ch. 1:11; 17:6, 9-11 his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 During supper, when # ver. 11, 27; [Acts 5:3]; See ch. 6:70, 71 the devil had already put it into the heart ... Jesus Washes the Disciples’ Feet. 1 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things ... John 13 The Death of Lazarus 11 Now a certain man was ill , Lazarus of Bethany , the village of l Mary and her sister Martha . 2 m It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair , whose brother Lazarus was ill . 3 So the sisters sent to him , saying , “ Lord , n he whom you love is ill . ” 4 But when Jesus ... John 13:1–38 Jesus Washes the Disciples’ Feet 13 Now n before o the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that p his hour had come q to depart out of this world to the Father, r having loved s his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

Dispensational Truth

2018.10.16 16:23 jalvarez4Jesus Dispensational Truth

A subreddit dedicated to discussing all things dispensational. All brands and branches of dispensationalism are welcome, whether Classical, Revised, Progressive, Hyper, or Bible-Believing.
[link]


2020.09.26 19:10 JpBlez5 God’s power to forgive

This morning I had messed up, so I was listening to Revelation, and a certain lyric came up that interested me. “Holy Holy, Holy, is the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY”.
Almighty is the word that stuck out the most. It reminded me of Gods all powerful ability’s to split the seas, help us in our battles, and most of all his power forgive us of our sins and cleanse us of unrighteousness.
So many of us allow guilt and shame to consume us, thinking or even feeling that God doesn’t want us, or won’t forgive us. But God doesn’t want this. He wants to forgive you, and for you to return to him, and confess our sins to him, so he can forgive us. Not only doesn’t he forgive you, but he wants to cleanse you of all guilt and unrighteousness.
We believe that God is almighty correct. This means he’s also strong enough to forgive our sins, clean us of unrighteousness, and help us fight our battles.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” ‭‭1 John‬ ‭1:9‬ ‭ESV‬‬
God even promises that he will do this, and when God makes a promise, he’s faithful to keep it.
God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?” ‭‭Numbers‬ ‭23:19‬ ‭NLT‬‬
If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is.”‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭2:13‬ ‭NLT‬‬
Remember that by the power of the blood of Jesus, you are forgiven, and you are washed clean. Keep fighting brothers, God bless you and I love you.
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2020.09.26 19:09 JpBlez5 God’s power to forgive

This morning I was listening to Revelation, and a certain lyric came up that interested me. “Holy Holy, Holy, is the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY”.
Almighty is the word that stuck out the most. It reminded me of Gods all powerful ability’s to split the seas, help us in our battles, and most of all his power forgive us of our sins and cleanse us of unrighteousness.
So many of us allow guilt and shame to consume us, thinking or even feeling that God doesn’t want us, or won’t forgive us. But God doesn’t want this. He wants to forgive you, and for you to return to him, and confess our sins to him, so he can forgive us. Not only doesn’t he forgive you, but he wants to cleanse you of all guilt and unrighteousness.
We believe that God is almighty correct. This means he’s also strong enough to forgive our sins, clean us of unrighteousness, and help us fight our battles.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” ‭‭1 John‬ ‭1:9‬ ‭ESV‬‬
God even promises that he will do this, and when God makes a promise, he’s faithful to keep it.
God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?” ‭‭Numbers‬ ‭23:19‬ ‭NLT‬‬
If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is.”‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭2:13‬ ‭NLT‬‬
Remember that by the power of the blood of Jesus, you are forgiven, and you are washed clean. Keep fighting brothers, God bless you and I love you.
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2020.09.22 04:28 MelodicEarth2 According to the Bible, all of you were predestined either to heaven or hell before you were even born.

The Bible says before the creation of the world, all those that would go to heaven and all those who would eternally suffer in hell were already predestined, and nothing can be done to change this predestination.
First we see men wanting to ask God why he wickedly predestines people to heaven and hell before they are even born, before they have done any good or evil,
"You will say to me then, “Why does he [God] still find fault? For who can resist his will?” (Romans 9:19)
Commentary:
"You will say to me then", etc. Here indeed the flesh especially storms, that is, when it hears that they who perish have been destined by the will of God to destruction. Hence the Apostle adopts again the words of an opponent; for he saw that the mouths of the ungodly could not be restrained from boldly clamouring against God: and he very fitly expresses their mind... they in a manner charge him with tyranny. Thus then speak the ungodly in this passage, — “What cause has he to be angry with us? Since he has formed us such as we are, since he leads us at his will where he pleases, what else does he in destroying us but punish his own work in us? For it is not in our power to contend with him; how much soever we may resist, he will yet have the upper hand. Then unjust will be his judgment, if he condemns us; and unrestrainable is the power which he now employs towards us.” How does God answer this through Paul?
We are told that this is the answer:
"But who are you, a mere human being, to talk back to God? Will what is created say to its creator 'why have you made me like this'. When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn’t he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath destined for destruction in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory" (Romans 9:22-23)
To understand Paul, almost every word must be examined. He argues thus, — There are vessels destined for destruction, that is, given up and appointed to destruction: they are also vessels of wrath, that is, made and formed for this end, that they may be examples of God’s vengeance and displeasure. If the Lord bears patiently for a time with these, not destroying them at the first moment, but deferring the judgment prepared for them, and this in order to set forth the decisions of his severity, that others may be terrified by so dreadful examples, and also to make known his power, to exhibit which he makes them in various ways to serve; and, further, that the amplitude of his mercy towards the elect may hence be more fully known and more brightly shine forth.

"Objects of his wrath [speaking of human beings that are not elect, the reprobate] destined for destruction."
Those who are not elect themselves have been created for this very end — that they may perish.
We see the same thing elsewhere in the scripture, for instance,
"The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of evil." (Proverbs 16:4)
The Bible says God elected all those whom he would save and bring to heaven before he even created the world.
"Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. He predestined us to adoption." (Ephesians 1:4-5)
So the opposite is also true. This is known as double predestination. If he predestines one part of the race to heaven, he by default must have destined the other half to hell.
Before human beings are born they are destined to their lot in Hell fire.
"Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy and he hardens the hearts of other so they refuse to listen." (Romans 9:18)
Since he is God and God does what he pleases, he shows mercy to some and not to others.
God creates the reprobates (which means those whom Christ rejected before the foundation of the world) for the specific purpose of burning them in Hell.
In the words of one theologian, "There are those who are born doomed before the womb to certain death, and are to glorify God by their destruction."
"For this reason they were unable to believe. For again, Isaiah says: “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, so that they cannot see with their eyes, and understand with their hearts, and turn, and I would heal them.” (John 12:39-40)
This would be Romans 9:18 in action.
Again another instance of God hardening peoples hearts so that they cannot believe and so be "saved".
The reason He does not elect people is because he hates them. Look at the example of Jacob and Esau,
"Before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad, in order that God's purpose in election might stand, as it is written: Jacob I loved but Esau I hated."
He hates certain people before they are even born -- well the majority of the world, that's why the Bible says most are going to burn in hell (Mat. 7:14).
Why does God create "vessels destined for destruction" yet at the same time "commands all people everywhere to repent" knowing full well that he created them in such a way that they never would? Why does God command people like Pharoah to obey him, yet harden his heart so that he doesn't? The answer is that God is wicked. God places full responsibility of believing on man, yet fully determined before the creation of the world whether he would be saved or not.
Why does Jesus say, speaking of Judas' future in hell, "It would have been better for that man to never have been born", yet there are prophecies in the Old Testament hundreds of years prior which already told us that Judas would betray Jesus and would be eternally damned.
Do you think God along with the angels of heaven laughed and spit as Judas was born into the world, as the reprobate was brought forth into existence by God? It's a dark thing, Christians don't see it. They just see the surface level of things, they read things for face value in the Bible, "Oh see Judas is the bad guy! Satan evil!" But the Bible already prophesied the betrayal and even eternal damnation of Judas before he was born, he had no other choice but to obey the will of God, unless God's plans can be thwarted (they can’t), Judas could only have done what he did because God specifically planned he would. And before anyone says God merely foresaw that Judas would betray Jesus, that is not how God's foreknowledge operates Biblically.
"Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure." (Isaiah 46:10)
Read this verse slowly. All. Not some. God doesn't look into the future and get surprised. Everything he planned from eternity past comes to pass, which included the fall in the garden.
"None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled." (John 17, speaking of Judas)
God knows the future because he himself brings that future to come to pass, the same logic applies for those who are elect and reprobate, he does not merely look into the corridors of the future seeing who will choose him and who will not. He knows the future because he himself creates it, and chose who would be saved and who would not be saved before the creation of the world, in eternity past.
Like how God hardened Pharaoh's heart and made him do things which he otherwise would not have done. And yet Jesus Christ says of this reprobate Judas, one of billions upon this earth according to the Bible, "It would have been better for you to not have been born (obviously because of what would happen to him if he were to die)." Yet the Bible says the only reason we are born is because God wills it, that all the days of our life were written down before we even existed. And the reason he brings us into existence is to ultimately burn us forever when we die.
It's a sick world, Christians only seem to look at the surface level. "Jesus is love! Jesus is life. God is the gospel, he died for sinners and loves us so much! He wept for sinners!
To go even deeper,
Revelation talks about God's book of life where he has the names of everyone that will go to heaven already.
"And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire." (Revelation 20:15)
And as you read prior, God already chose who he would bring to heaven "Even before the creation of the world". He also chose who would be destined for damnation in the same manner. So he is not learning new information and writing down who gets in or not based on this or that. This was all done before the foundation of the world.
In Luke, Jesus talks about this book, "Rejoice because your names are written in heaven", while Jesus talks about the positive predestination here, in Revelation we see the negative predestination -- the predestination of the reprobate by having their names not written in the book of life.
And even at the judgement day, God will send the angels to gather his elect,
"At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And He will send out the angels to gather His elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven" (Mark 13).

Now let's give more examples in the Bible of what these verses are talking about, we've already seen it in Jacob and Esau, but let's go deeper into Judas and Pharaoh:

Let's first look at Judas, the betrayer.
God predestined it, Judas's eternal destiny, his betrayal, and ultimately eternal death in hell.
"None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled."(John 17, speaking of Judas).
SO THAT THE SCRIPTURE WOULD BE FULFILLED, JUDAS HAS BEEN LOST, THE ONE DOOMED TO DESTRUCTION.
Of course this passage is referencing those passages in the Old Testament which turns out to be speaking of Judas's betrayal, hundreds of years before Judas even existed.
"There are those who are born doomed before the womb to certain death, and are to glorify God by their destruction", one writes.
Judas was one of the many reprobates who before time, before having done anything good or evil, in order that God's purpose in election might stand, was destined for eternal misery along with Pharaoh (Rom. 9:11-13, 17-18, 21-23), he is one of the billions upon billions of reprobates that inhabit this earth, "Few there be that find eternal life" (Mat. 7:14).
So that Judas's life would fit with the prophecy written down, Judas behaved in the way he did, it does not say he used his free will to do this or that, to bring himself to heaven or hell, but rather, his life was a plaything of God's whim, it was brought into existence for the sole purpose of betraying Jesus.
"When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn’t he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into?" (Rom. 9:21).
Judas was one of those trash clay pots you read about in Romans. A vessel made unto a dishonorable end.
God predestined his fate from eternity past.
God knows the future because he himself creates that future, he is the one that brings it to pass, and again this is how we know that God did not merely foresee a "free will choice of betrayal", but planned it according to his will so that Judas would act in accordance with it,
"Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure." (Isaiah 46:10)
He declares the end from the beginning. This is how God's foreknowledge works, he does not look into the future and gets surprised at this or that, he knows the future because he actively caused that future to come to pass in accordance with his will.
Another example of these verses is displayed clearly in Pharaoh
Most versions of the Passover story depict Pharaoh as an archetypal villain, an arrogant tyrant who gets his just deserts for challenging God and stubbornly refusing to let the Hebrew people leave Egypt. Indeed, there is no denying that the Pharaoh of the Exodus story is a murderous, slave holding despot. But a close reading of the text—particularly the climactic episode in which Pharaoh “hardens his heart” and repeatedly refuses to let the Hebrew people go—reveals a more complex character, a more subtle interplay between the forces of good and evil, and raises many thorny questions about the nature of biblical justice and free will.

Before we get into how these verses apply to Pharaoh, we ought to know this.
God tells Moses beforehand that he is going to have their first born slaughtered.
Exodus Chapter 4:21-23
21The LORD instructed Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders that I have put within your power. But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go. 22 Then tell Pharaoh that this is what the LORD says: ‘Israel is My firstborn son, 23 and I told you to let My son go so that he may worship Me. But since you have refused to let him go, behold, I will kill your firstborn son!’”
So according to the text, that means the part where pharaoh hardens his own heart is just merely his heart being hardened in the passive sense by God. God planned it all, start to finish.
So god killed a bunch of children because pharaoh did exactly what god himself made him do.
A quick refresher, as per God’s instructions, Moses and his brother Aaron go to Pharaoh’s court and ask him to free the enslaved Hebrew people. Tyrant that he is, Pharaoh rejects the brothers’ request outright. In turn, God brings down the first of 10 plagues, the transformation of water to blood. On seeing the effects of this plague, Pharaoh seems to reconsider. But his wavering is short-lived. As the King James Bible puts it, “Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, neither did he hearken unto them; as the Lord had said. And Pharaoh turned and went into his house.” Pharaoh’s hard-hearted refusal brings on the next plague, frogs. After seeing the frogs hopping around his bedchamber, Pharaoh calls to Moses and asks him to “intreat the Lord, that he may take away the frogs from me, and from my people; and I will let the people go.” God obliges, calling the plague off, but “when Pharaoh saw that there was respite, he hardened his heart, and hearkened not unto them.” And so the pattern continues.
Towards the beginning of the story, Pharaoh hardens his own heart (or it “is hardened” in the passive voice). Following the sixth plague, however, Pharaoh seems to lose his nerve and God steps in, hardening his heart for him. “And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh,” Exodus 9:12 reads. “And he hearkened not unto them; as the Lord had spoken unto Moses.”
According to UC-San Diego history professor William Propp, there are many similarities between Pharaoh’s hardened heart and “what we find in the Homeric epic. The gods breathe cowardice or courage into mortals who are already brave or fearful; they punish humans for sins that ultimately should be blamed upon the gods themselves.
Perhaps because it’s such a troubling episode, much of the literature on Pharaoh’s heart simply sidesteps the question of God’s culpability. In a speech delivered to commemorate the second anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, for example, Martin Luther King Jr. said Pharaoh’s hard heart “tells us … that evil is recalcitrant and determined, and never voluntarily relinquishes its hold short of a persistent, almost fanatical resistance.” What of the fact that Pharaoh does waver, and that God steps in to make certain he doesn’t relinquish power?(Michael D. Lukas)
Ultimately the Bible tells us why God brought pharaoh into existence, and why God hardened pharaoh's heart.
Romans 9:17, ESV: "For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”
It was for God to show off. Numerous innocent human lives are murdered and toyed with in the process, as we see in every other part of scripture. Perhaps you are familiar with the story of Job, in order to win a bet God has Job's servants, sons and daughters and animals molested.
In other words, God raised up/preserved Pharaoh and brought Pharaoh down for the sake of His own sick and twisted pride and boasting (Love does not boast?)
This is the modern day equivalent of God raising up and keeping alive one such as Hitler, all in order so that once he finishes committing his atrocities (though it is God that is making him do it), God would smite him and earn the glory of the kill so that he gets the bragging rights.
Moral of the story: Pharaoh had no chance, he was a plaything in God's hands as Judas was. A vessel of wrath destined for destruction, brought forth for God's purpose -- so that his end may be "The day of evil", many innocent human lives are killed as a result -- all in order so that God may brag about it.
Surely it is a cheerful, joyous thing, to one who is laboring, struggling, and suffering in this weary world, to think that before he existed; before the earth was; before a star had glittered in the heavens; before a ray of light had left the quiver of the sun, his destiny had been irrevocably fixed, and that for an eternity before his birth he had been doomed to bear eternal pain.
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2020.09.18 03:45 JpBlez5 Escape from sin

“When many days had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him, but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night in order to kill him, but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket.” ‭‭Acts‬ ‭9:23-25‬ ‭ESV‬‬
These events happened after Saul was visited by Jesus. Saul began testifying the good news to the Jewish people. After Saul proved Jesus was the messiah, the Jews planned to kill him. But alas the lord helps save him.
This story represents how God helps us escape temptation. Saul’s enemies plotted to kill him. Likewise, our enemy the devil is a murder(John 10:10) who attempts to kill us spiritually through sin. As the word say the wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23).
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” ‭‭John‬ ‭10:10‬ ‭ESV‬‬
But Saul was aware of the plot of his killers, and likewise we must be aware of the devil.
“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.” 1 Peter‬ ‭5:8-9‬ ‭NLT‬‬
So as Saul’s enemies stalked the gates day and night in order to kill him, the devil will also tempt us night and day, and wait for the correct time to strike. A lion never attacks strong prey, but aims for the weak and vulnerable. So let us not let our guards down, leaving us vulnerable to temptation, but let us always be prepared, covered in the armor of God.
So Saul’s disciples got him passed his enemies through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket. Saul escaped his killers, but he needed help to do so. Saul ran away from those trying to kill him, so likewise, we must run from sexual sin.
Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.” ‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭2:22‬ ‭NLT‬‬
Likewise in order to escape the plots and temptation of the devil, which leads to death, we need help as well. This help could come from others(Proverbs 27:17), but are the help comes from Jesus, who helps us escape temptation.
The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” 1 Corinthians‬ ‭10:13‬ ‭NLT‬‬
Refer back to John 10:10 and Romans 6:23. While the first half of those verses talks about the devil, the second half of them talks about Jesus. As it says in John 10:10 and Romans 6:23, Jesus is the giver of true life and eternal life. Let us run to him to obtain this life, and have it to the full.
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2020.09.17 05:03 Ez3k1el Dark Night of the Soul

Greetings brothers and sisters, I pray that the Lord is with you all and He is helping you in your trials, your rests, and your studies and work.
I am writing this to allow for discussion and perhaps confession as well of a well-known thing that Christians often go through. The Dark Night of the Soul, a poem written by a Carmelite Monk known as St. John of the Cross. It is intimated that he wrote the poem while inside a prison, but here is the poem in general:
"One dark night, fired with love's urgent longings--ah, the sheer grace! -- I went out unseen, my house being now all stilled. In darkness, and secure, by the secret ladder, disguised, --ah, the sheer grace!-- in darkness and concealment, my house being now stilled. On that glad night, in secret, for no one saw me, nor did I look at anything with no other light or guide than the one that burned in my heart. This guided me more surely than the light of noon to where he was awaiting me -- him I knew so well -- there in a place where no one appeared. O guiding night! O night more lovely than the dawn! O night that has united the Lover with his beloved, transforming the beloved in her Lover. Upon my flowering breast which I kept wholly for him alone, there he lay sleeping, and I caressing him there in a breeze from the fanning cedars. When the breeze blew from the turret, as I parted his hair, it wounded my neck with its gentle hand, suspending all my senses. I abandoned and forgot myself, laying my face on my Beloved; all things ceased, I went out from myself, leaving my cares forgotten among the lilies."
The poem itself is interesting, but according to John of the Cross, it resembles our varying stages of spiritual maturity in Christ.
However, a question arises, is this really real? I can assure you that it is. The dark night of the soul, I believe, is God's tool for removing His presence for periods of time to test us and to shape us, and to remove incorrect understandings of Him and to pursue a deeper relationship with Him. Much like how God withdrew from Hezekiah to test Him (2 Chronicles 32:31), the tribulation of Job, Jesus being wracked with trembling before His death on the Cross (Luke 22:39-46), Jesus in the desert being tempted by the devil (Luke 4, Mark 1:12-13, Matthew 4), and many other instances that the Apostles no doubt went through, especially Paul.
I think at its base, the dark night of the soul is God's way of showing us to trust Him and His word even when feelings or thoughts or perceptions in regards to His presence, peace, and wisdom are not immediately felt or are seemingly at odds with our faith. In short, it is a letting go of our own self-sufficiency and trusting in His sufficiency, which is what Paul was talking about in Galatians in regards to no longer being under the law of sin and death, but in the new law of Christ. The old law is a mirror, showing us where we are dirty, but cannot save us and does not give us the power to be godly, for that we need Christ. I can tell you that going through this can strike at the very heart of salvation itself: are we trusting in ourselves or in Christ? Where does the "buck" stop so to speak? Are we relying on our feelings of acting in God's will and foregoing our minds, even withholding our minds from Christ? Are we relying on our own intellect and foregoing our hearts and learning how to love as He loves us, even withholding our hearts from Christ out of fear? All the while the devil seeks us out in these times of spiritual dryness to try and devour us (1 Peter 5:8) throwing our sins in our faces, causing all manner of chaos in our minds, and even causing dissonance in our assurance of faith in Christ. And this seems to be what God intends, our assurance of faith in Christ and His work on the Cross, that there is no work, no thought, no feeling, that ever makes us justified before Him. It is purely by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and His work on the cross plus nothing (Ephesians 2:8, ESV) For those of us who have studied the interplay between law and grace, we can understand this feeling of incompleteness, for if we measure the assurance of our faith by the works we do... We realize that our works are never enough and never will be enough, which will always cause us to doubt. The flip side is that those who understand God's love, but have a hard time understanding His holiness, this will cause a feeling of incompleteness too because we are measuring by our feelings and not seeing the fruit that God indicated through Paul (Galatians 5:22-26), which comes through the Holy Spirit through His teaching us the knowledge of the truth of God's wisdom as we read both the Old Testament and the New Testament (the interplay between the over-reliance of the mind and the heart is something that is on display throughout the book of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes).
In short, God pulls us through this kind of situation to divest ourselves of reliance upon our own cleverness (even if we have His wisdom in our minds) and our own perceptions of feelings (even if we feel love for Him), and to rest ourselves in Christ Jesus by way of His grace through faith in Him. Don't get me wrong, we need His wisdom and to listen to the Spirit to be prudent in applying it in our decisions, corrections, and our writings, and we certainly need to have the experiential joy of salvation and loving God so that we may love others as we love ourselves, but neither of these come from ourselves, but from, ultimately, to God who teaches us, loves us, and guides us through His Son in the power of the Holy Spirit, yet loves us enough to let us choose His way over our own way. In this way, we will love God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and love our neighbors as ourselves by His strength and His empowerment, rather than our own finite strength. In the words of a favorite Pastor of mine, "Your arms are too short to box with God."
One last thing, don't give up. Yeah, it's hard being in a spiritually dry state, but think of the alternative if you walk away. Do you remember the movie The Matrix? Think of the scene where Neo is in the car with Trinity and the other two, he's about to step out because he has fallen into disbelief and despair at what they were telling him. Remember what Trinity said? "You've been down that road before. You know exactly where it ends." You know where the road of unbelief and walking away leads, and I know I've no need to tell you. Cling to Christ, stay in the car, and He will get you through this.
Now I want to open the floor to you guys. Take this as an opportunity to confess and be open and honest about your struggles, "Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are." (1 Peter 5:9, NLT), to realize that Christ suffered the same thing, "This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin." (Hebrews 4:15, NLT), and that we ought to encourage one another, be encouraged by each other, and ultimately place the source of our comfort and encouragement in Jesus our Lord through such a time as this, "All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer." (2 Corinthians 1:3-6, NLT)

Two resources:
https://cprc.co.uk/quotes/lutherassurance/
https://www.soulshepherding.org/growing-through-a-dark-night-of-the-soul/
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2020.09.13 15:27 deverbovitae Abortion

Abortion has become the “issue of all issues” in the “culture wars” in America today; it is one of the most polarizing and contentious matters in modern political and cultural discourse. Over the past fifty years abortion has been a major battleground regarding views of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, in terms of both the child in the womb as well as its mother. The issue of abortion, by its very nature, attracts powerful emotions and energy on all sides; a dispassionate examination of the subject is nearly impossible. In truth the matter of abortion, how it is viewed, how it is justified or condemned, and how the women in the middle are treated, indict our culture as a culture of death, with very few truly interested in cultivating a true culture of life which honors God and all of His children. Let us explore the matter of abortion according to God’s purposes made known in Christ and in the Scriptures.

What Is Abortion?

Since so much rhetoric regarding abortion is layered with euphemism, we do well to forthrightly set forth what abortion is and what it involves. Abortion is the termination of a pregnancy by the removal of an embryo or fetus from a woman’s uterus. In many situations an abortion is unintentional; we consider these situations to be miscarriages. Any time a woman intentionally has an embryo or fetus removed is called an induced abortion. Induced abortions themselves can be delineated between “therapeutic,” on account of health conditions of the woman or the child, or “elective,” when chosen by the woman for other reasons. In modern discourse, elective induced abortions prove most contentious and are generally what people refer to when speaking about abortion, although many aspects of therapeutic induced abortions prove controversial as well.
Abortion can be induced by different methods. Medical abortion involves taking pills increasing levels of hormones which produce a hostile environment for the child, leading to the death of the child and the woman expelling the child and related tissue. Surgical abortion might involve suction or vacuum aspiration, which involves sucking the child out of the uterus; dilation and curettage (D&C), involving the opening of the cervix and scraping out of everything along the walls of the uterus with a curette; dilation and evacuation (D&E), which involves opening the cervix and cutting out or vacuuming out the child and the related tissue matter; or intact dilation and extraction (IDX), which involves opening the cervix and physically removing the child from the uterus (IDX is banned in the United States). Sometimes labor is induced and the child is killed; this method is very rarely used in the United States but is more prevalent in some European countries.
We can see that a range of actions and methods are in view when we discuss abortion.

Primary Arguments Regarding Abortion

Arguments regarding abortion fall primarily into two camps: those against abortion speak of themselves as “pro-life”; those who wish for abortion to remain legal speak of themselves as “pro-choice.”
Arguments against abortion focus on the life of the child. Most people who are against abortion believe that life begins at conception or implantation; therefore, any elective choice to end a pregnancy after conception or implantation is the act of taking the life of the child, and thus equated with murder. In the pro-life view, since the child is a living being, the government should consider its right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and therefore has a compelling interest to defend the life of the child through legislation making elective induced abortion illegal. Some would go further and make illegal many forms of therapeutic induced abortion.
Arguments for the legality of abortion focus on the choice of the mother. Some people who advance a pro-choice view are truly pro-abortion and have few if any qualms about the procedure; in such a view the life of the child is entirely in the control of the mother, and the mother’s right to decide whether to carry the baby to term or not is absolute. Others who have a pro-choice view do maintain qualms about abortion to some degree or another, wishing it did not have to be, or even being personally pro-life, but do not wish for the government to impose legislation against the procedure, instead relying on individual conscience on the matter.

The Scriptures on Abortion

In the Old Testament the Law made provision in one specific case of abortion:
And if men strive together, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart, and yet no harm follow; he shall be surely fined, according as the woman’s husband shall lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if any harm follow, then thou shalt give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe (Exodus 21:22-25).
We would generally classify any such abortion as a miscarriage since it was not at all the woman’s desire or intent to end the pregnancy. We do see that the Law considers the offender guilty of harming life, and ought to pay at least a financial penalty, and perhaps even death.
This is the only passage which explicitly and directly relates to any kind of abortion.
Murder is condemned as sinful in both Old and New Testaments:
Thou shalt not kill (Exodus 20:13). And because they had not the mind to keep God in their knowledge, God gave them up to an evil mind, to do those things which are not right; Being full of all wrongdoing, evil, desire for the goods of others, hate, envy, putting to death, fighting, deceit, cruel ways, evil talk, and false statements about others; Hated by God, full of pride, without respect, full of loud talk, given to evil inventions, not honouring father or mother, Without knowledge, not true to their undertakings, unkind, having no mercy (Romans 1:28-31).
The word translated “unkind” in Romans 1:31, astorgos, has the meaning of “without natural affection,” and a good argument can be made to relate it, at least in part, to Roman birth customs in which any child who was not accepted by the head of the household (paterfamilias) for whatever reason was taken out and exposed to die.
Furthermore, the logic behind the commandment against murder is based on life as being a gift of God, and something which is not to be taken lightly:
Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man (Genesis 9:6). Anyone who has hate for his brother is a taker of life, and you may be certain that no taker of life has eternal life in him (1 John 3:15).
Early Christians did explicitly condemn abortion and infanticide, and did so under condemnation of murder:
“Thou shalt do no murder; thou shalt not commit adultery”; thou shalt not commit sodomy; thou shalt not commit fornication; thou shalt not steal; thou shalt not use magic; thou shalt not use philtres; thou shalt not procure abortion, nor commit infanticide; “thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods” (The Didache, 2.2).
Whereas no passage in the Bible explicitly identifies the moment at which life begins, many passages in the Old and New Testaments speak of life beginning in the womb:
For thou didst form my inward parts / Thou didst cover me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks unto thee / for I am fearfully and wonderfully made / Wonderful are thy works; And that my soul knoweth right well. My frame was not hidden from thee / When I was made in secret / and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see mine unformed substance / and in thy book they were all written / even the days that were ordained for me / when as yet there was none of them (Psalm 139:13-16). Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee, and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee; I have appointed thee a prophet unto the nations (Jeremiah 1:5). And it came to pass, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit…For behold, when the voice of thy salutation came into mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy (Luke 1:41, 44).
Therefore, it must be recognized that the Scriptures do not have much to say explicitly about abortion. Nevertheless, there is nothing within the pages of Scripture which give any reason to conclude that elective induced abortion is acceptable to God, and much to cast aspersions against it. Early Christians recognized elective induced abortions to be a form of murder, and we do well as Christians today to maintain the same conclusion.

The Challenges of “Choice”

In light of the Scriptures it is impossible to Biblically sustain the full-throated argument of the pro-choice movement regarding the absolute right of choice of the mother. God has made the mother and has given life to the mother, and the life of the mother is to be valued and respected as equal to the life of any other human being (Genesis 9:6, Galatians 3:28, 1 Timothy 2:4). Yet, as David proclaimed, God is also giving life to the child in her womb, and the life of that child is to be valued and respected as equal to the life of its mother and to the life of any other human being (Psalm 139:13-16).
The moral force of this argument is strong, and recognized as much by its opponents, who seek to dehumanize the child as an “embryo” or “fetus,” “protoplasm” entirely dependent on its mother for life, and therefore hers to decide whether it ought to continue or not. Furthermore, throughout time, the argument has hinged upon when life begins: it is recognized that if it is not yet life, no fault can be found in terms of what happens to it.
It is recognized that the life of the child in the womb is dependent on its mother; such is why abortion remains a special case with distinctions which are not maintained for those who take lives outside of the womb. And yet the child is more than just protoplasm or a bunch of dependent cells; by implantation the child has everything it needs within itself to be alive, and with continued maternal sustenance will grow and flourish. It is increasingly difficult to argue against life starting at any point after implantation.
Attitudes toward children in the womb often manifest the culture of death in which we live. Life ought to be worth more than money or time. Even in the heartbreaking cases of impregnation from rape, should not life have some value? The woman will be traumatized by the abortion or by having the child; is the means of conception at all the fault of the child, and yet, in abortion, who would bear the brunt of the suffering?
Our culture of death is also manifest in the valuation of life according to utilitarian measures. Untold thousands of children are being aborted because they are female, and therefore considered of less value to the family than a male child would be. We are beginning to see selective abortions of children who are found to be at risk of Down syndrome and many other genetic conditions, with parents choosing to end those lives because they will not be fully “normal”. In such decisions life is not being honored as a gift; it is being seen as a burden.
The absolute right to choice is a very American and modern individualist idea, but it is not a Biblical one. In Christ life is about glorifying God through whatever we experience, for God has given us life and all things. In all things we ought to uphold and honor the value of life, even at the expense of choice.

Pro-Life or Just Anti-Abortion?

As Christians we do well to uphold a consistently pro-life outlook, for God has given life as a gift, and we ought to hesitate to take it or devalue it. The temptation to devalue life is not restricted to the pro-choice movement.
We must be careful about how thoroughly we identify abortion as murder. As noted above, the definition of abortion is expansive. It technically contains every form of miscarriage. Therefore, unintentional abortions, known as miscarriages, are not only not sinful, but extremely traumatic experiences for women who ought never be shamed or condemned for what they have suffered.
Some aspects of therapeutic induced abortions prove problematic, as noted above, since “therapeutic” is now including selective abortions for “genetic abnormalities.” And yet there remain instances, such as with ectopic pregnancies, in which the child will never successfully be brought to term and the life of the mother is in great peril. Other similar conditions may come about. If we are truly pro-life, then the life of the mother is as valuable as the life of the child, and it is not for us or the government or any other institution to impose upon that mother the demand for her to sacrifice her life on account of the child.
Thus there will be times when abortion will have to be induced in order to preserve life. Women who undergo such experiences ought not be shamed or condemned but fully supported, encouraged, and comforted on account of the traumatic experiences they have endured.
Great care ought to be exercised in regards to the legislative goals of the pro-life movement. If abortion were outlawed in America, it would not end abortion; it would be made illegal. Making abortion illegal would most likely reduce the number of abortions that take place; this is a worthy goal. Yet how will abortion be made illegal? Will the women who search out abortions be the ones punished, or just the providers? Will there be a blanket condemnation, which may lead to the death of women who need therapeutic induced abortion to survive, and if so, is that really honoring life? In some countries in which abortion is banned many women who miscarry are accused of abortion and forced to suffer further humiliation and punishment, adding trauma on top of trauma. And, ultimately, will there still be concern about abortion and the lives of women and children if abortion is made illegal? There is not unanimous agreement on these matters among the various parts of the pro-life constituency. We must never forget that it is the Gospel, not legislation, which provides salvation (Romans 1:16); life will not be honored merely because it is illegal to do otherwise, and our government does not have the greatest track record when it comes to respecting life anyway.
If Christians would not be hypocrites they must give some thought to the condition of women and their children. Many women who consider abortion do so out of desperation; they need support and care, and we ought to search them out and provide it (Galatians 6:10). If the concerns are economic, we ought to meet them. If the concern is an inability to raise the child, we ought to adopt them, or better yet, empower and encourage the women to be able to raise their own children (James 1:27). If the child is born with medical conditions, we must rally around the family and comfort, strengthen, and sustain them through the trials they endure, and celebrate their sacrifices to honor life.
We must also give consideration for how we speak of and treat those who are guilty of sexually deviant behavior, especially those who practice sex before marriage. Many who profess Christ have undergone abortions so as to eliminate the source of shame which would come upon them from the disapprobation and shaming they would experience from fellow professors of Christ. Such does not excuse adding sin upon sin; nevertheless, if we truly wish to honor life and reduce abortions, we must avoid shaming or marginalizing women who are pregnant out of wedlock and find ways to encourage them to choose life and incorporate them into the community of the people of God.

Conclusion

Abortion is a complex and contentious topic, and has bearing on many others; we have only begun to scratch the surface on these matters, and have left many more aside.
As we have seen, God gives life and loves life, and as people made in the image of God, we ought to honor life. Elective induced abortions disregard the honor of life, valuing choice, personal autonomy, economic conditions, etc., over the value of life. Elective induced abortions are more like murder than they are akin to anything else.
Yet, to truly honor life, we must recognize the equal value of the life of the mother, and be careful lest opposition to abortion trump our concern for the lives of women. Women suffer terribly from miscarriages; some will have to endure therapeutically induced abortions to survive. For that matter, many women who have undergone elective induced abortions live with great trauma and guilt over their decision and come to regret it and repent of it. As Christians we must value and honor women as we value and honor children.
As of now, abortion is legal in America. We must be careful in our rhetoric against abortion lest we are found to have misrepresented the situation. There is a difference between abortion being an option but not mandated, and mandated abortion, such as in China’s previous one child policy. If the government mandates abortion, it has blood on its hands; if a government allows abortion, it may be guilty of upholding a culture of death, but the blood is on the hands of those who shed it.
As Christians we must honor the government and its rulers despite disagreement with its policies (Romans 13:1-7, 1 Peter 2:11-18). We ought to uphold a culture of life and thus condemn elective induced abortion, and forms of therapeutic induced abortions which do not honor life. We can, and should, make good, strong arguments upholding a culture of life; it would be even better if we modeled and embodied those arguments. Yet, in all things, we must manifest the fruit of the Spirit, not the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:17-24). The anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God (James 1:20); righteous indignation about the fate of so many aborted children must be tempered with this wisdom from the Lord’s brother. We must remember that the Devil and the powers and principalities over this present darkness are our true foes; those who advocate for abortion are deceived by these forces (Ephesians 6:12). And we must never forget those who find themselves in the middle of this great controversy: the women who contemplate abortion. We do well to find them, encourage them, and show them the value of life in a community which honors life, and all to the end of encouraging all such people to find what is truly life in Jesus (John 10:10, 1 Timothy 6:19). May we uphold the Gospel and its culture of life, and obtain the resurrection of life in Jesus!
Ethan
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2020.09.06 15:23 thetranquillife1 Personal Salvation in Christ - A Spiritual Birth from Above

. Has sin and lusts left a stain on and guilt in your life? Do you feel distant from God or aware that you are lost, that you have drifted away from Him? Have you had your sins forgiven and felt anew and clean again? Are you unsure of your destiny after death?
Despite many people's familiarity with Christianity, few outside the faith understand the Gospel and mankind's need for salvation. I don't know who you are, or your background; maybe you don't have a Church background and have been sceptical of religion your entire life but you are searching to see if there is more to life. You may have even left the mainstream Churches and lived life your own way because of Churchianity, disagreements, a lack of spirituality or perhaps burdensome legalism. Whatever your reason(s), I believe that God brought you here to draw you to Himself and Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit.
We are in an age of confusion. We have more knowledge than ever but despite our knowledge, many are missing something in their lives. Outside of our relationships, life at times seems somewhat meaningless and cold, especially as we age and draw closer to death. Those that have taken an interest in religion in the past, may have found confusion, unable to ascertain who is right. Instead, I would like to contend that one can know if Christianity is true, if the Holy Spirit, a person of the Trinity, opens their eyes and heart by removing the blindfold of deception that has been wrapped around our eyes as a result of living in this world and in sin.
Millions of people down the centuries have come to believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God, who really did die for our sins. If I can, I would like to offer you the chance to hear the 'old story', of Jesus and His love.
By way of personal testimony, I too was lost in sin and under guilt. Because of my deeds, I felt real emptiness inside and didn't really feel like I had any reason to be happy or joyful. This guilt I carried around with me for many months before I finally realised that God had made a way for me, a sinner, to be at peace with Him, and this was through what Christ achieved on the cross. In the moment of realisation, I felt the guilt lift instantly, and happiness like no other, filled me inside. Since then I have been able to make the changes that I needed and wanted to make, but never could because I was a slave to my desires and unbelief. This experiential knowledge, the revelation of Jesus Christ in scripture, archaeological evidence and reason all compel me to communicate the same message to you so that you can come to believe that Jesus Christ died even for your sins.

Christ

Today in the West, despite many centuries of Christian influence, little is actually known about Jesus, who He was and what he taught, even in mainstream Christianity. Jesus taught that he was the embodiment of all truth (John 14:6), that He was the predicted Messiah (not just of Israel but of the whole world) and that He was God in the 'flesh'. Jesus revealed the truth of God often in short stories (parables) to the crowds and to His disciples. However, despite the brilliance of His parables, His primary objective was to come to Earth to save sinners: save them from their sins and eternal punishment.
Jesus is what the Bible is all pointing to, Old Testament (sometimes called 'the Law') and New Testament. Roughly two thousand years ago, Christ came to us, mankind. God in human form.

Mankind

Mankind (every human) has a spiritual infection. We intuitively know that there is something within all of us that compels us to rebel against the commands of God: to hate, to quarrel, to lie, to steal, to engage in sexual immorality. We sin against God, all of us (Rom. 3:23). We justify it to ourselves: "its only a white lie", "they deserved it" or "I just couldn't help myself." Everyday we trade the glory of God and the result is spiritual dissatisfaction. We can act as if we are complete, but we know we aren't, we know we are restless and we feel alone.
Our dissatisfaction is troubling, but our destiny confounds us. Everyone asks what the future may hold for them, but often we neglect the possibility of future beyond the grave. According to Christ, the soul within us continues beyond the grave, and since God exists and is holy, we have a dilemma; will God accept us and show forgiveness? Where we might stand before Him should press our consciences. This meeting we will have is inevitable and cannot be missed.
The truth is, God created man perfect. Man enjoyed peace, joy, love and wholeness. He was lacking in nothing. He walked with God and was at peace with God. Yet man in his foolishness rebelled against God. Adam chose to break the commandment of God ("thou shalt not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil"), and sin and death entered the human race (Rom. 5:12), and everyone born after is guilty, not because of Adam's deed, but because of each person's individual rebellion. We all have all broken the commandments of God, and the Law which He gave us through Moses, is mocked and ridiculed.
But "God is not mocked." God must expel and punish lawbreakers unless He compromise His own holiness. This is the most awful prospect, to be cast out of the presence of God for our deeds and actions because we failed to live up to His expectations. Every verdict will be just and there will be no repeal. Who can stand before Him and remain? (Psa. 76)
In ourselves, this judgement is unavoidable. We cannot undo our sins. The solution must come from outside, eternal help from without. Yet, there needs to be signs of repentance (attempts to stop practices of sin). Truly, unless repentance comes first, one cannot inherit God's eternal life.

Nicodemus - Born Again of the Spirit

Before moving onto the scriptural text in question, let us have some background information.
Nicodemus was a Jew who studied the Scriptures and strived to be good. He was a Pharisee (a dominant religious sect of Judaism), fasted twice a week, gave money to the synagogue (Jewish place of worship) and studied and followed the Torah (the first five books of the Bible). Yet, despite all this, he visited Jesus one night, unsure of his eternal destiny, spiritual understanding and very conscious of his shortcomings.
We read about this meeting in John 3:1-21. Let us read reverently for "faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God" (Rom. 10:17)
John 3:1-15 (ESV)
3 Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.
10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”

Even Nicodemus, a humanly-speaking good man, was told to be born anew. He was told that his deeds were not enough to appease God. He could not work his way to Heaven.
Jesus says that to be cleansed from sin and unrighteousness, one must be born again. This doesn't refer to a second physical birth ('born of water', the rupture of the amniotic membrane) but rather to a unique spiritual birth: a Divine act of God, a miraculous intervention.

A Description of the New Birth

How does one experience such a birth? What does it look and feel like?
The second birth is NOT:
The second birth IS:
In light of all this, let us pay careful attention to the following.

The Gospel

As stated above, we were created perfect. But because of man's rebellious condition (Mark 7:21-23), we sin consciously and sometimes with pleasure. It is this that separates us from God and invites His righteous displeasure.
However, because God loves mankind, He devised a plan (even before Adam and Eve), to restore you and me to a right relationship with Him (proving His might and power beyond all doubt). God the Father sent God the Son, Jesus Christ (the 'Word'), down to Earth, to live as a man (John 1:14). He grew up in Nazareth in Israel and trained as a carpenter before starting his mission.
During His ministry, He performed miracles, such as turning water into wine (John 2:1-11), healing the crippled and blind (Matthew 21:14), raising the dead (John 11:38-44) and calming the stormy seas (Mark 4:35-41). He taught man how to live a life that God had originally intended for man. All that Jesus did, fulfilled the ancient prophecies found in the Old Testament.
However, despite the many miracles Jesus did, His own people, the Jews, rejected Him and plotted to have Him killed. They falsely accused Him and by the help of the Romans, Jesus was crucified on a cross publicly. Despite being innocent and having never sinned, He was executed like a common criminal (Matthew 27:32-56)
But it was when He was on the cross that Jesus bore our sins, in other words, He took our wicked deeds and sin upon himself (2 Cor. 5:21), and became despised so that all those that believed in Him would not have to suffer punishment for their sins, but rather would be forgiven and accepted by God. Jesus took upon Himself the wrath of God in our place. "Whilst we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8) and shed His blood.
Jesus was then buried, as the prophets foretold, and for 3 days His body lay in a tomb. But on the third day, He was resurrected back to life (Luke 24). He appeared to hundreds of people and His disciples. The transformation in the disposition of His disciples was so radical that all but John were martyred for refusing to deny that Jesus was the Son of God and had risen from the grave. Previously they had been downcast and depressed, but by the truth of Christ, they were transformed.
Jesus kept the Law perfectly, and by faith in Him, His righteousness through perfect obedience to the Law (that we could not keep), is accredited to us, meaning God no longer looks at us as lawbreakers but as His children (Rom. 5:1)
Jesus is the only way to God the Father (John 14:6). He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. The Law makes us "conscious of our sin" (Rom. 3:20) and our conscience "bears witness" to this Law (Rom. 2:15), yet the Law brings us no life but "kills" but the "Spirit gives life."
If you will repent of your wrongdoing, confess your sins to God and accept the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, a payment of a debt that you could not pay yourself, then you will be saved. Call upon the name of the Lord Jesus, confess Him with your mouth, for today is the day of your salvation (Rom. 10:9-10, Rom. 10:13).

John 3:16-17 - 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
Ephesians 2:8-9 - 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works , so that no one can boast.
Romans 3:21-26 - 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

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2020.09.02 09:26 SARS_CoV_2020 A letter to Creation Ministries International

Recently sent this letter to a major Christian organization, CMI, working hard to promote creationism and biblical inerrancy in public mindset. They seem to be dead serious about both, and I wondered how do they, in their conscience, go about the fact that God appears to be completely absent from this world, – despite their alleged 100% proof of creation. In other words, why did creator God apparently left this place and even forsook his most faithful believers (whoever that might be)?
There likely wasn’t enough time for them to respond, but since I can hardly expect a response anyway (Why I’m not surprised at this? Bitter irony.), I’ll just leave it here for search engines to pick up. I reasoned that instead of being purged from their mail servers into oblivion, it might be interesting or even useful to someone dealing with religious questions, oppression, or indoctrination.
Your God doesn’t answer prayers: there is no feedback
For some divine being to be effectively true, especially for someone authoritatively claiming to be “the existing one” [1] or even more so “the living one” [2], he is supposed at minimum {A} to be continually present in this world [3] and {B} at least somehow to be communicating with his genuine followers [4].
His presence must be tangible: not imaginary, wished for, or blindly assumed [5]. Otherwise your God is as good as a dead idol [6], and your beliefs in him are in vain and dead as well [7], and you yourselves are nothing more than a walking cemetery [8].
When Daniel recorded his famous excourse into the lion’s den [9], where God miraculously preserved him due to his faith, he probably didn’t envision that roughly 500 years later pragmatic Romans would put some of his claims to the test in the most peculiar way: by evaluating faith of his apparent successors, Christians, in a similar fashion. I’m afraid the results were more than just embarrassing: not a single lion choked or remained hungry this time around. God’s holy people were chewed in a manner no different from transgressors [10] or usual Rome’s convicts: multiple times, and in front of everyone [11]. And it’s not like Darius kept his cats on some special diet, – as the rest of the account faithfully attests.
But it doesn’t just stop there. We also have another wonderful account of three individuals surviving unharmed in what appears to be a prehistoric blast furnace [12] heated to such a degree that whoever was handling it died of thermal shock. History, being a mischievous pickle it is, doesn’t deprive us of numerous re-enactments of this miraculous story either: throughout middle ages (when Christianity was at its apex in Europe) burning churches together with sheltered civilians was a common method of punishment for a town which authorities refused to surrender in warfare. Sadly, the results were always the same and whatever was left of poor innocent (?) folks hardly resembled miraculously preserved human beings.
Can faith measured as much as mustard seed (1..2 mm) move mountains [13]? Considering how many Christians out there tried to bring this bold statement into reality (literally or figuratively), I’d say either there was never a genuine Christian at all, or the estimates turned to be quite a bit off. (It’s not clear how faith is packaged or measured anyway.) Meanwhile, SARS-CoV-2 (0.00008..0.00022 mm) proved to be quite a mover: not only it caused virtually all world governments to be upheaved (both literally and figuratively), it did so without paying slightest respect towards faithful saints of the most high. In fact, it didn’t pay any attention to religion at all: like a gospel it came to Asian first, then to Roman, Jew, and also to Greek (and many-many others on its voyage to USA, Australia, and New Zealand ;-). And whatever clown representatives of God each of these nations had, all more or less ended up on a faithful quarantine under iron heels of COVID-19, significantly crippling their highly important, God-ordained [14] witnessing activities.
Is creator God on running errands of coronaviridae? Was it the same with pasteurella pestis back in the day? And who could’ve thought that lions and viruses might have anything in common at all? But I digress.
Imagine if the ministry of Jesus occurred right in the midst of black plague outbreak. (I’m sorry, but I simply couldn’t resist.) I wonder, what would it looked like? It is very hard to imagine Lion of the tribe of Judah cowering in a corner of some Nazareth shack with a look on his face, or for Holy Spirit to be in any way hindered.
You knock [15], but the door doesn’t open: it is closed shut. You ask, and it’s not given: are you even sure you are asking for the right thing of the Lord? How can you be so certain? You stand on your knees, tears running down your cheeks, and you literally cry to your savior to deliver you from destruction [16], heal your severe condition [17], or bring back a close family member that suddenly suffered an untimely and unexpected demise right before your eyes [18]; and what do you get for an answer? Is it an echo of your cries? Is it a graceful “yes”? Maybe it is at least (at least!) a compassionate “no”? Or maybe it’s rather just cold... dead... empty silence? Silence in your ears. And most importantly, silence in your soul.
But these were all rhetorical questions. The real, hard question of operational science is this: how accurately do words like “O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.” [19] reflect the presently observed reality?
I wonder if by any chance Holy Spirit has a very specific radio frequency range [20]? Why then, you and your God just cannot get on the same wave? Is Holy Spirit a musical note that you utterly cannot carry in tune? Does Holy spirit have an expiration date? Wasn’t Jesus the last Adam after all? Is hiding behind the veil and ludicrous iron-age ceremonies still a thing? Did your savior at least warn you that tuning in might not be as easy as everyone would expect? Or maybe there’s some bizarre horrible problem that goes unnoticed for two millennia and your God really just doesn’t want to hear from you, much less so respond?
Holy Scriptures define Holy Spirit as guide, comforter, teacher, and healer. They actually talk a lot about receiving him [21], and him being a vitally important part of Christian being [22]. These statements make much sense. Holy Spirit is supposed to be this tangible presence of God, – and have a very dramatic impact on mind and life of a genuine Christian believer. He would also provide them with everything necessary to preach the kingdom of God, saving lost, and opposing works of darkness here on Earth: much like it was with Jesus before his ascension. Why would God make his believers so much dependent upon heathen in their work for the kingdom of God? It just doesn’t make any sense. Why would anyone listen to such believers, whose God apparently left them? Is there any point in witnessing without Holy Spirit at all? It’s like being holy historians.
So the second hard question(s) is this: where is this presence and evidence of Holy Spirit? And where are his promises? Did he abandon us?
Can’t you see how the whole debate of creation versus evolution is thus simply rendered irrelevant? It would have mattered if your alleged God was still with us (just as he promised: by the presence of his Holy Spirit), but seeing as he apparently decided to vanish completely (for whatever reason), your quarrel with compromisers and secularists makes about as much sense as Roman Catholic jerks digging up corpses to perform court trials on them.
P.s.
Oh, and by the way, saying that you are only a creation ministry and everything else pertaining to Christian faith matters is considered off-topic in correspondence is like saying that on a journey it is the starting point, rather than the destination, that matters the most.
It is the same hypocrisy (just backwards) that evolutionists commit by claiming that chemical evolution (their starting point: origin of the first self-reproducing cell) is a wholly separate matter and is of no importance to the rest of evolutionary story and its alleged explanation of origin of species, – as if the rest of evolutionary hallucinations don’t vitally depend on it.
So you can’t simply hide behind Noah’s Ark and avoid dealing with raptures, armageddons, cube cities made of transparent gold, giant scorpions with human faces, antichrists, supposedly god-ordained governments, heavenly tongues, thorns in flesh left by messengers of Satan, water baptisms, infant baptisms, acid-inspired prophecies that even their writers couldn’t decipher, lakes of fire, bottomless pits, poisoned comets, drunk stars, pious lies, rivers of blood, mountains of corpses, trinities, – and multitudes upon multitudes of other schizophrenic insanities. And did I mention there are at least couple dozen of major Christian denominations out there? Each insisting on their own interpretation of a particular delusion mentioned?
But I’ll make it easier for you: they all are wrong.
  1. Exodus 3:15, John 8:58.
  2. Joshua 3:10, John 6:57, Matthew 16:16.
  3. Deuteronomy 31:6, Matthew 28:20.
  4. Jeremiah 33:3, John 14:26.
  5. Ezekiel 22:28.
  6. Isaiah 44:9.
  7. Isaiah 44:17.
  8. Isaiah 28:18, Matthew 8:22.
  9. Daniel 6.
  10. 1st Kings 13:24, 2nd Kings 2:24.
  11. Daniel 9:8.
  12. Daniel 3:8.
  13. Matthew 17:20.
  14. John 20:21.
  15. Matthew 7:7-8.
  16. Psalms 107:20.
  17. Numbers 12:13, 2nd Kings 5:14, Luke 4:27.
  18. 1st Kings 17:17-18, John 11:21.
  19. Psalms 9:13, Psalms 30:2, Psalms 107:20, 2nd Kings 20:5, John 5:9, John 9:7, Matthew 10:31.
  20. John 3:8.
  21. John 3:34, John 4:23-24, John 7:39, John 14:26, John 15:26, John 20:22, Luke 11:13, etc.
  22. John 3:5-6, John 6:63, John 14:17, John 16:13.
(ESV has been consulted to collect all references.)
Bottom line?
Next time a proselyte (of any religion) approaches you or presses on you, don’t take their bait: no one is supposed to debate their holy books, philosophies, or read their pamphlets, – simply ask them for evidence of their God being present with them. You aren’t going to look silly: extraordinary claims require evidence of the same merit.
This line of reasoning is bulletproof: if their God is not with them, or they can’t prove it, then they act solely of their own accord and on their own behalf. I.e. no God has actually sent them. Because why would God want to make his faithful servants look so stupid?
And if they continue to insist that their holy book is true, then just say that you are going to read it and form your own opinion about it yourself. Anyone can sit down at their own leisure, open the bible, read Numbers 5:11-31 or the book of Revelation, and thoroughly satisfy their religious appetite.
It’s not like Jesus in gospels was waving fossils in his hands, screaming “See? Told ya Noah’s flood was for real! Ugh... wait! Where are you all going?..”
It’s tangible presence that matters.
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2020.09.01 06:04 OnshorePlaysYT So I have been trying to collect Bible verses that mean a lot to me.

I will continue to update it as time goes on, but here they are:
“that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,” ‭‭Philippians‬ ‭2:15‬ ‭ESV‬‬
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” ‭‭John‬ ‭3:16-17‬ ‭ESV‬‬
“In the past you were spiritually dead because of your sins and the things you did against God. Yes, in the past your lives were full of those sins. You lived the way the world lives, following the ruler of the evil powers that are above the earth. That same spirit is now working in those who refuse to obey God. In the past all of us lived like that, trying to please our sinful selves. We did all the things our bodies and minds wanted. Like everyone else in the world, we deserved to suffer God’s anger just because of the way we were. But God is rich in mercy, and he loved us very much. We were spiritually dead because of all we had done against him. But he gave us new life together with Christ. (You have been saved by God’s grace.) Yes, it is because we are a part of Christ Jesus that God raised us from death and seated us together with him in the heavenly places. God did this so that his kindness to us who belong to Christ Jesus would clearly show for all time to come the amazing richness of his grace. I mean that you have been saved by grace because you believed. You did not save yourselves; it was a gift from God. You are not saved by the things you have done, so there is nothing to boast about. God has made us what we are. In Christ Jesus, God made us new people so that we would spend our lives doing the good things he had already planned for us to do.” ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭2:1-10‬ ‭ERV‬‬
““Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭23:15‬ ‭NKJV‬‬
“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” ‭‭Galatians‬ ‭3:28‬ ‭NIV‬‬
“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” ‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭4:17-18‬ ‭ESV‬
“For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” ‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:1‬ ‭ESV‬‬
“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” ‭‭James‬ ‭4:7‬ ‭NKJV‬‬
“But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” ‭‭I Timothy‬ ‭5:8‬ ‭NKJV‬‬
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” ‭‭I John‬ ‭4:7-8‬ ‭NKJV‬‬
“For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” ‭‭Galatians‬ ‭5:13‬ ‭NKJV‬‬
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” ‭‭James‬ ‭1:17‬ ‭ESV‬‬
““Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:3-11‬ ‭ESV‬‬
““Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:25-28‬ ‭ESV‬‬
“Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭9:13‬ ‭ESV‬‬
“but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭10:33‬ ‭ESV‬‬
““You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:43-44‬ ‭ESV‬‬
““But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭24:36‬ ‭ESV‬‬
“Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” ‭‭1 John‬ ‭3:15‬ ‭ESV‬‬
“Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” ‭‭Galatians‬ ‭5:19-21‬ ‭NKJV‬‬
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:4-7‬ ‭ESV‬‬
“fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭41:10‬ ‭ESV‬‬
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.” ‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭5:6-9‬ ‭ESV‬‬
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” ‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭3:5-6‬ ‭ESV‬‬
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”” ‭‭Joshua‬ ‭1:9‬ ‭ESV‬‬
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭23:1-6‬ ‭ESV‬‬
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭6:9-11‬ ‭ESV‬‬
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2020.08.30 15:54 deverbovitae Babylon

From its beginning Babylon represented human arrogance and rebellion; it would enjoy fleeting moments of glamour and glory on a global stage. Babylon the city, on the Great River Euphrates in Mesopotamia, modern-day Iraq, would fade into oblivion, fulfilling the prophecies of the prophets. Babylon as metaphor endures.
In Genesis 10:10-11 Babel is reckoned as the beginning of Nimrod’s kingdom. Its better known origin story can be found in Genesis 11:1-9: the Tower of Babel, built by all humanity on the Plain of Shinar to stay together and to make a name for themselves in direct rebellion against God’s commands. The place is named “Babel,” Hebrew for confusion, because God confused human language there. In Akkadian the city was known as Babilim, the meaning of which is highly contested; it was rendered as Babulon in Greek, from which we derive “Babylon”; in the Hebrew Bible, the city is called “Babel” throughout.
Both archaeology and written texts attest to Babylon’s relatively late beginnings in Mesopotamia, established sometime in the 2300s to 2200s BCE, allegedly by Sargon of Akkad himself. The Hebrew Bible did well at speaking of Egyptians and Assyrians but not “Babylonians,” for Babylon was at least ruled over if not also inhabited by a series of different groups of people over its two thousand years in existence. Its original inhabitants were likely Akkadians; by the 1800s BCE the Amorites of the northwestern Levant had invaded and occupied much of southern Mesopotamia and inaugurated the Amorite, or Old Babylonian, period (ca. 1800s-1500s BCE; in Israel, the days of Egyptian sojourn). Babylon remained smaller and more obscure until Hammurabi built an empire dominating southern Mesopotamia and the Euphrates region northwest to Mari (ca. 1792-1750 BCE). Hammurabi became famous for the law code established in his name; it has served as a helpful tool as both to contextualize the Law of Moses and to prove a foil for it. After Hammurabi all of southern Mesopotamia would become known as “Babylonia,” just as northern Mesopotamia had become known as “Assyria.”
Amorite Babylon was overthrown by the Hittites around 1595 BCE; soon afterward it was overrun by a group of people known as the Kassites, likely from the Zagros Mountains area of Iran, inaugurating the Kassite, or Middle Babylonian, period (ca. 1595-1155 BCE; in Israel, the time of the Exodus and the Judges). Toward the end of this period the Assyrians and Elamites dominated the city. More “native” Akkadians overthrew the Kassites in 1155 and ruled for a short time before the city was overrun by Arameans from the west.
From 911 to 609 BCE Babylon was continually under Assyrian control. In the 700s BCE the Chaldeans, people who lived in the marshes of southern Mesopotamia, began to continually harass the Assyrian authorities, taking over in Babylon when Assyria was otherwise distracted and fleeing into the safety of the marshlands when the Assyrians returned with an army. So it went with Merodach-Baladan (Marduk-apla-iddina II) who sent envoys to Hezekiah king of Judah (722-710, 703-702 BCE; 2 Kings 20:12-19, Isaiah 39:1-8). In response Sennacherib king of Assyria leveled Babylon to the ground; and yet his son Esarhaddon would dedicate many resources to rebuilding the city.
In the period of 612-605 BCE Nabopolassar (Nabû-apla-uṣur), a Chaldean Babylonian ruler, allied with the Medes, overthrew the Assyrian yoke, and destroyed the cities and empire of the Assyrians. It would fall to his son Nebuchadnezzar II (Nabû-kudurri-uṣur; ca. 634-562 BCE) to fill the void in Mesopotamia and establish what is now known as the Neo-Babylonian Empire (605-539 BCE). Nebuchadnezzar defeated Pharaoh Neko of Egypt (cf. 2 Kings 23:28-30); he would besiege Jerusalem and exile Jehoiachin and the upper class of Judah in 597 BCE, and after another rebellion in the days of Zedekiah, again besiege and then completely destroy Jerusalem, ending the Kingdom of Judah as a going concern in 586 BCE (2 Kings 24:1-25:21). Nebuchadnezzar would besiege Tyre unsuccessfully for 13 years; attack Egypt; and also exile the Philistines (Ezekiel 29:17-21). Babylon reached the peak of its prominence and power in the days of Nebuchadnezzar (cf. Daniel 4:1-37).
We make much of the Neo-Babylonian Empire because of its role in destroying Jerusalem and exiling the Judahites to Babylon; in historical terms it was short-lived, a quick transition between the days of the Assyrians and the Persians. The genius of the Babylonian Empire died with Nebuchadnezzar; a few short-lived kings reigned after him, including Evil-Merodach (Amēl-Marduk), who elevated Jehoiachin according to 2 Kings 27:27-30). The longest reigning king was Nabonidus (Nabû-naʾid), the last official king of the Chaldeans, along with his son Belshazzar, famously condemned in Daniel 5:1-31 (ca. 556-539 BCE). In their day Cyrus king of Persia conquered Babylon at the Battle of Opis and established the Achaemenid Persian Empire.
Despite a couple of insurrections the Persians maintained generally and strong consistent rule over Babylon until the defeat of Darius III by Alexander, king of Macedon, at the Battle of Gaugamela in 331 BCE. Babylon flourished under Alexander; under the continual conflict of his successors Babylon began to depopulate. In 275 BCE its inhabitants and the Esagila temple were moved to Seleucia on the Tigris, which itself would later be swallowed up by Ctesiphon, which was made the metropolis of southern Mesopotamia throughout the Roman/Parthian/Sassanian period (ca. 120 BCE-700s CE). In the 700s Ctesiphon faded after the establishment of Baghdad by the Abbasid Muslims, which remains the prominent city to this day. By the time of Jesus Babylon was a small village; Christianity spread in the area, but by the second millennium CE Babylon was a ruin.
The Bible well recognizes the prominence of Babylon in Mesopotamian civilization. The city and its gates were most impressive; its wealth was immense; its temples were legendary, exemplified in the story of the Tower of Babel. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon was reckoned as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Their astrological and astronomical observations formed the basis of many scientific endeavors. Many of the mythological stories which were excavated in Mesopotamia are told in their Babylonian versions, especially the highly influential creation narrative known as Enuma elish.
And yet the words of the prophets were fulfilled (cf. Isaiah 13:1-14:23, 40:1-55:13, Jeremiah 50:1-51:64): Babylon, master of a mighty empire, vaunting over defeated Israel, tempting exiled Israelites to turn away from YHWH their God to Marduk and the Mesopotamian pantheon, faded into oblivion. Its location would be lost, rediscovered in modern times by western archaeologists confessing the God of Israel and looking to illuminate the narratives of the Hebrew Scriptures. The story remains poignant for all who have ears to hear.
Even as Babylon in Mesopotamia faded, what Babylon represented for Israelites, the pagan human earthly power arrogating itself against God and His people, would endure. Peter and John both spoke regarding Rome and its Empire in terms of Babylon (1 Peter 5:13, Revelation 17:1-18:24). If Babylon’s heritage could be seen in Rome, we can see similar evidence of its heritage in every major human power since. Civilization may have developed along the shores of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and magnified itself in the form of Babylon; God’s people have been called at times to seek the welfare of Babylon and to flee Babylon and its idolatry. To this day the people of God ought to live in unease in the “Babylon” of its day, seeking to embody the Christ to the lost and dying while not falling prey to the temptations “Babylon” would offer. May we faithfully serve God in Christ and obtain eternal life in Him!
Ethan
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2020.08.28 20:34 JpBlez5 “Jesus wept.” ‭‭

“Jesus wept.” ‭‭John‬ ‭11:35‬ ‭ESV‬‬
This is what Jesus does every time we sin.
You see the Bible has compared our relationship to Christ like a bride and a groom getting married, with the lord as a groom, and us a bride. ( Matthew 25:1-13, revelation 19:7,)
When a person makes vows in marriage, they make a life long commitment to their partner. They commit to love them above others people, and to always be with them.
Likewise when we confess Christ our savior, we being a relationship with him, and we commit ourselves to him forever, and to put him above all other things.
Now imagine the groom’s sorrow when the bride cheats on him, sleeping with another man, getting pleasure from outside the relationship . They chase pleasure and love from another man, breaking the vow they placed on the alter, and placing her heart in another man.
When we sin, we turn our backs on God, and chase our sinful pleasures instead of him. When we sin against him, we place our heart more in something else than him( an idol or sin). Because of this, as a husbands heart would break after being cheated on, Christ’s heart breaks when we sin against him, finding pleasure in sin rather than him.
submitted by JpBlez5 to NoFapChristians [link] [comments]


2020.08.27 04:48 OrmanRedwood Are we saved by Faith+Works? A Sola Deo perspective on salvation.

If your wondering what "Sola Deo" is, it is a formula to respond to the five Solas of Protestantism that was developed during my prayer time. The three questions the 5 Solas answer are "what is our authority", "what saves us", and "what is our purpose". By switching the "what" to "who" I hope to get back to the fundemental about what is really going on. Who is our authority? God alone (Sola Deo (I don't know Latin but I know that is improper)). Who is our salvation? God alone. Who is our purpose? God alone. Now that I got that out the way, here is the rest of the article.
I think this is a different way of expressing the same Catholic doctrine, but I am coming here to confirm it.
"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." Ephesians 2:8‭-‬10 ESV
Why does Paul include works in this passage twice? He says that salvation is not a result of works, but he clearly says salvation is for works, clearly showing the works are a apart of the equation. But what is going on here? I used to think that works were somehow a part of Faith, and this makes sense, but I don't think I caught it right. Look at James 2:17
"So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead." James 2:17 ESV
My thought process was that faith that is dead is not real faith, so if faith without works is dead, then faith without works must not be faith, so works must be a part of faith... I think I was wrong. Because, here is the thing, there is another thing that, if you lack it, everything in your life will be dead. Go to 1st Corinthians 13.
"and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing."
1 Corinthians 13:2b
You see, Paul says that Faith without Love is nothing. But here's another question, what is Love?
"God is Love" 1 John 4:8bb
But what are the good works James is talking about?
"If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well." James 2:8 ESV
James is talking about the greatest commandment throughout his entire book, to Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself. So the works that James is talking about, that he is saying Faith is dead without, are works of Love. But if God is Love, does that mean that the works James is saying save us are works of God?
So now you see.
Faith without works is dead because the works that enliven Faith are the works of Love, Love, the Lord of Love. The works that save us are works of God, and God works through us. Did Moses part the Red Sea? Yes, but no. God did. Did you give money to the poor? Yes, but no. God did. The thing that saves us is not the fact that we have done good works that increase our Faith, but that we have let the Spirit of God work through us in our life through our Faith, giving ourselves totally into his hands, and surrendering all of us, heart, soul, mind, and body, to him. It is not that we have done, but that God has done through us great things that we can hope in salvation. It is not the work of our bodies that saves us, but the works of Love, the Spirit of God. Before you respond, please read Aquinas on Merit in the Summa. It is the last question in the prima secundae. I think this is perfectly in line with Aquinas's teaching on merit.
submitted by OrmanRedwood to Catholicism [link] [comments]


2020.08.23 19:05 pjsans Some reasons I believe that Annihilationism is a More Biblically and Philosophically Accurate View of the Judgment of the Lost.

[Initially, this document was a google doc, but I found myself referencing a lot. To limit potential doxing, I've decided to just make a version here to reference it through Reddit, and not my personal Gdrive account]

Biblical Reasons

1) Only God’s people will receive immortality.
In and of himself, only God is immortal:
I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen. -1 Timothy 6:13-16
Mankind is not inherently immortal and if man is to receive immortality, it must be gifted to him. We are told that only God’s people receive immortality:
So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. -1 Corinthians 15:42-43
Here, Paul is discussing the nature of the resurrected righteous. He tells us that the bodies we have now are perishable but the bodies we will receive are imperishable. He tells us what he means by perishable, what your body does when you die in this life is perishing. When you are raised, it will not do what it did when you died, because it is imperishable. This means that the wicked will not receive bodies that do not perish - biologically, they will die. Regardless of spiritual conscious existence, the physical bodies of the wicked will perish, just as they do now.
I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. -1 Corinthians 15:50-53
Naturally, we are perishable, we will have incorruptible bodies, however, the wicked will be raised to corruptible bodies. If ECT is true, then a body must be made for the wicked to be able to continue in the fire (or darkness, or whatever) forever. Regardless of the degree of joy or gladness found in that existence, that body is technically imperishable.
It is possible that God gives continuation of existence to the wicked, however, I think these verses contradict that notion and instead imply that continuation of existence is for the people of God only. An animal does not have immortality, it is mortal it dies and is no longer. It seems as though it will be the same for the wicked (see point 4).
For the ECT position, we must accept one of two things:
  1. God has created us with souls that are inherently immortal and he is unable to destroy them.
  2. God has created us with souls that are not inherently immortal, but God gives each soul continuation.
I think both of these are unbiblical. One limits God’s omnipotence and for the other, it must be said that God grants immortality to all, which runs counter to the proper understanding of who receives immortality.
2) Death is destroyed.
Scripture says that death will be destroyed.
Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. -Revelation 20:14

Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. -1 Corinthians 15:24-26

He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,
and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the Lord has spoken. -Isaiah 25:8
Death is destroyed. It is no more and it is the last enemy that will be destroyed. In these verses, death cannot mean “separation.” If ECT is true, then “separation” is not destroyed (as 1 Corinthians says), it is permanently strengthened.
3) The Biblical picture of eternity is one where there is no more death, pain, or sorrow.
Revelation 21:3-4 says:
And I heard a loudly voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
In this part of the vision, judgement has already taken place (in ch. 20) and we are given a scene of the new heavens and the new earth. This passage immediately follows the death of death; it has just been thrown in the Lake of Fire. Here, there is no more crying and no more pain; no more death and no more mourning; why? For the former things have passed away. They are gone, not moved. Death has been thrown in the Lake of Fire and has been destroyed and therefore, there is no more death at all, anywhere. It has passed away.
4) The wicked will be destroyed
There is a lot of definitional problems with phrases like “death,” “destroy,” “perish,” etc. because these words have multiple meanings. The traditional ECT position is that “death” means “separation” and “destroy/ perish” means “ruin/ degradation.” For the most part, we have to assume our definitions because the verses they appear in could go either way. However, there many places where I think it seems clear, for example:
But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. -2 Peter 3:5-13
Here, we get constant references of destruction. The world, previously, was “destroyed” by water, but we now await a destruction of fire for the destruction of the ungodly. The heavens and the earth will be destroyed by this fire as well. In discussing the destruction of the fire (that will occur for heaven/ earth and the ungodly) he says that the fire will make the heavens disappear and that the elements will melt in the heat. These are terms of final destruction.
Some other verses where I think the natural reading is ultimate destruction:
If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. -Hebrews 10:26-27

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; … But these people blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like unreasoning animals, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like animals they too will perish. -2 Peter 2:4-6;12
In this second section, Peter gives two examples of what will happen to the wicked:
  1. Sodom and Gomorrah: burned to ash
  2. Animals: caught and destroyed like animals
When animals die, they die. There is no separation between soul and body, it is cessation of existence.
Mark the blameless and behold the upright,
for there is a future for the man of peace.
But transgressors shall be altogether destroyed;
the future of the wicked shall be cut off. -Psalm 37:37-38
Honestly, all of Psalm 37 indicates Annihilationism (see. V. 2; 9; 10; 14; 20; 22; 28; 34; 38). I just don’t want to take up two pages with a quotation.
“I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” -Matthew 3:11-12
The chaff is burned; katakaio, burned up or consumed entirely (septugaint reads that the burning bush burned but was not “katakaio”). The fire (regardless of what “unquenchable” means here) burns the chaff completely. When chaff burns, it does not continue forever but perishes.
“Now I will arise,” says the Lord,
“now I will lift myself up;
now I will be exalted.
You conceive chaff; you give birth to stubble;
your breath is a fire that will consume you.
And the peoples will be as if burned to lime,
like thorns cut down, that are burned in the fire.”
Hear, you who are far off, what I have done;
and you who are near, acknowledge my might.
The sinners in Zion are afraid;
trembling has seized the godless:
“Who among us can dwell with the consuming fire?
Who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings?”
He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly,
who despises the gain of oppressions,
who shakes his hands, lest they hold a bribe,
who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed
and shuts his eyes from looking on evil,
he will dwell on the heights;
his place of defense will be the fortresses of rocks;
his bread will be given him; his water will be sure. -Isaiah 33:10-16
Here, Isaiah asks us “who can dwell with the all-consuming fire?” The answer he gives is the righteous, the people who look to God as their defense. Those who trust the all-consuming fire (God) will withstand it. However, if ECT is true, we must also say that the wicked are able to dwell with the all-consuming fire as they dwell in fire continually forever and ever.
“For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble*.* The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch*. But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.* And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the Lord of hosts. “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules[b] that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel. “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.” -Malachi 4

What the wicked dreads will come upon him,
but the desire of the righteous will be granted.
When the tempest passes, the wicked is no more,
but the righteous is established forever. -Proverbs 10:24-25

And this shall be the plague with which the Lord will strike all the peoples that wage war against Jerusalem: their flesh will rot while they are still standing on their feet, their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths. -Zechariah 14:12

For the day of the Lord is near upon all the nations.
As you have done, it shall be done to you;
your deeds shall return on your own head.
For as you have drunk on my holy mountain,
so all the nations shall drink continually;
they shall drink and swallow,
and shall be as though they had never been*. -*Obadiah 15-16
As an aside, just as “death” or “destruction” are seen as ruin, as opposed to mortal death or cessation of existence, life is viewed as, not continuation of existence but a quality of existence. Life and death, in the ECT position, are not words that have bearing on continuation, rather continuation is presupposed and the words deal with quality. I believe that John 10:10 implies otherwise. In the passage (discussing the eternal life of the righteous) he says:
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. -John 10:10
Here, Jesus says that he came to give life, and then he tells us that those that have that life will have it abundantly, this means that one could have life, but not an abundant one. It seems clear here that “life” is meant as continuation of existence with no regard to quality and then Jesus tells what the quality of that life is abundance.
In John 6 (four chapters prior), Jesus tells us who will have life forever:
I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” -John 6:51
This is discussing continuation. You will have life, but for how long? Forever. Then, in ch. 10, Jesus tells us what kind of life he intends to give us.

Philosophical Reasons

1) In the ECT position, God’s wrath is never satisfied.
Forever, God is is angry. God’s wrath is an outflowing of his divine and perfect justice, but I reject that wrath is an attribute in and of itself. If ECT is true, then God’s wrath is forever poured out, but never satisfied. This despite passages like Psalm 30:5 & Psalm 103:8-9.
2) In the ECT position, sin continues and increases throughout all of eternity.
Despite the fact that all things are made new, all of creation has been refined by fire, we still will have sin within the creation. Forever and ever, many people (quite possibly more than are saved) will sin against God, will be averse to God, will grow in their hatred against God. No matter how great one part of creation will be, there will forever be a pocket (a rather large pocket) of creation that is in continual and unrepentant rebellion against the sovereign Lord and God.
3) Arguments that the wicked cannot repay their debt for sins against an infinite God limit the omnipotence of God.
If the reason that the wicked must suffer for eternity is because man is unable to fully repay his debt to God through his suffering, this limits God’s power. This argument then necessitates that God is unable to exact all due justice. The payment for sins (death) is not something that is simply given up by the offending party, it is something (life) taken by the judge/ offended party. If God is omnipotent, then he is able to exact proper judgment and take what is owed, despite any limitations on man’s part.
Furthermore, the axiom that “any sin against an infinite God requires infinite punishment” is not a justice axiom found in Scripture and it feels an awful lot like it is used by Traditionalists as a mere ad hoc justification for how God can maintain justice while people suffer forever.
With that said, the idea that any sin against an infinite God requires an infinite punishment is not only not negated, but strengthened by Annihilationism because with Annihilationism, infinite punishment still happens and just is completely served; God is satisfied.
submitted by pjsans to Conditionalism [link] [comments]


2020.08.16 22:11 thetranquillife1 Salvation by Grace through Faith in Christ

. Has sin left a mark on your life? Do you feel distant from God or aware that you have drifted away from Him? Have you had your sins forgiven and felt anew and clean again? Or are you unsure of your destiny after death?
Despite many people's familiarity with Christianity, few outside the faith understand the Gospel and mankind's need for salvation. I don't know who you are, or your background; maybe you don't have a Church background and have been sceptical of religion your entire life but you are searching to see if there is more to life. You may have even left the mainstream Churches and lived life your own way because of Churchianity, disagreements, a lack of spirituality or perhaps burdensome legalism. Whatever your reason(s), I believe that God brought you here to draw you to Himself and Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit.
We are in an age of confusion. We have more knowledge than ever but despite our knowledge, many are missing something in their lives. Outside of our relationships, life at times seems somewhat meaningless and cold, especially as we age and draw closer to death. Those that have taken an interest in religion in the past, may have found confusion, unable to ascertain who is right. Instead, I would like to contend that one can know if Christianity is true, if the Holy Spirit, a person of the Trinity, opens their eyes and heart by removing the blindfold of deception that has been wrapped around our eyes as a result of living in this world and in sin.
Millions of people down the centuries have come to believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God, who really did die for our sins. If I can, I would like to offer you the chance to hear the 'old story', of Jesus and His love.
By way of personal testimony, I too was lost in sin and under guilt. Because of my deeds, I felt real emptiness inside and didn't really feel like I had any reason to be happy or joyful. This guilt I carried around with me for many months before I finally realised that God had made a way for me, a sinner, to be at peace with Him, and this was through what Christ achieved on the cross. In the moment of realisation, I felt the guilt lift instantly, and happiness like no other, filled me inside. Since then I have been able to make the changes that I needed and wanted to make, but never could because I was a slave to my desires and unbelief. This experiential knowledge, the revelation of Jesus Christ in scripture, archaeological evidence and reason all compel me to communicate the same message to you so that you can come to believe that Jesus Christ died even for your sins.

Christ

Today in the West, despite many centuries of Christian influence, little is actually known about Jesus, who He was and what he taught, even in mainstream Christianity. Jesus taught that he was the embodiment of all truth (John 14:6), that He was the predicted Messiah (not just of Israel but of the whole world) and that He was God in the 'flesh'. Jesus revealed the truth of God often in short stories (parables) to the crowds and to His disciples. However, despite the brilliance of His parables, His primary objective was to come to Earth to save sinners: save them from their sins and eternal punishment.
Jesus is what the Bible is all pointing to, Old Testament (sometimes called 'the Law') and New Testament. Roughly two thousand years ago, Christ came to us, mankind. God in human form.

Mankind

Mankind (every human) has a spiritual infection. We intuitively know that there is something within all of us that compels us to rebel against the commands of God: to hate, to quarrel, to lie, to steal, to engage in sexual immorality. We sin against God, all of us (Rom. 3:23). We justify it to ourselves: "its only a white lie", "they deserved it", "I just couldn't help myself." We do it every day, we justify it every day. Despite our self-justifications, we aren't truly satisfied. We act like we are complete, yet we know we aren't. We hide it. There is no-one that is righteous (Rom. 3:10)
And there is coming a day when we shall all individually die. One day we shall not be here. No more life. No-one will escape it. What will happen then? "The books will be opened." and all will be revealed. Every thought and action you ever committed will be exposed and obvious. There will be no getaway or supporters. You and your record before Holy God.
God created man perfect. Man enjoyed peace, joy, love and wholeness. He was lacking in nothing. He walked with God and was at peace with God. Yet man in his foolishness rebelled against God. Adam chose to break the commandment of God ("thou shalt not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil"), and sin and death entered the human race (Rom. 5:12), and everyone born after is guilty, not because of Adam's deed, but because of each person's individual rebellion. We all have all broken the commandments of God, and the Law which He gave us through Moses, is mocked and ridiculed.
Yet "God is not mocked." God must punish lawbreakers unless He compromise His own holiness. When the celestial court convenes, every verdict will be just and there will be no repeal. The lawbreakers will be found guilty, and will depart from the presence of God forever into darkness and wrath. "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." "The wages of sin are death" (Rom. 6:23).
Is judgement avoidable? Is there a way to get right with God? Can one be forgiven for any sin? The answer is yes, but only if one is willing and is trying to turn one's back on foul deeds, thoughts and practices, or in other words, repent. People who love evil more than God will be lost. The insanity of putting your eternal destiny in peril just for sin and a few pleasures, yet many do. Truly, unless repentance comes first, one cannot inherit God's eternal life.

Nicodemus - Born Again of the Spirit

Before moving onto the scriptural text in question, let us have some background information.
Nicodemus was a Jew who studied the Scriptures and strived to be good. He was a Pharisee (a dominant religious sect of Judaism), fasted twice a week, gave money to the synagogue (Jewish place of worship) and studied and followed the Torah (the first five books of the Bible). Yet, despite all this, he visited Jesus one night, unsure of his eternal destiny, spiritual understanding and very conscious of his shortcomings.
We read about this meeting in John 3:1-21. Let us read reverently for "faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God" (Rom. 10:17)
John 3:1-15 (ESV)
3 Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.
10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”

Even Nicodemus, a humanly-speaking good man, was told to be born anew. He was told that his deeds were not enough to appease God. He could not work his way to Heaven.
Jesus says that to be cleansed from sin and unrighteousness, one must be born again. This doesn't refer to a second physical birth ('born of water', the rupture of the amniotic membrane) but rather to a unique spiritual birth: a Divine act of God, a miraculous intervention.

A Description of the New Birth

How does one experience such a birth? What does it look and feel like?
The second birth is NOT:
The second birth IS:
In light of all this, let us pay careful attention to the following.

The Gospel

As stated above, we were created perfect. But because of man's rebellious condition (Mark 7:21-23), we sin consciously and sometimes with pleasure. It is this that separates us from God and invites His righteous displeasure.
However, because God loves mankind, He devised a plan (even before Adam and Eve), to restore you and me to a right relationship with Him (proving His might and power beyond all doubt). God the Father sent God the Son, Jesus Christ (the 'Word'), down to Earth, to live as a man (John 1:14). He grew up in Nazareth in Israel and trained as a carpenter before starting his mission.
During His ministry, He performed miracles, such as turning water into wine (John 2:1-11), healing the crippled and blind (Matthew 21:14), raising the dead (John 11:38-44) and calming the stormy seas (Mark 4:35-41). He taught man how to live a life that God had originally intended for man. All that Jesus did, fulfilled the ancient prophecies found in the Old Testament.
However, despite the many miracles Jesus did, His own people, the Jews, rejected Him and plotted to have Him killed. They falsely accused Him and by the help of the Romans, Jesus was crucified on a cross publicly. Despite being innocent and having never sinned, He was executed like a common criminal (Matthew 27:32-56)
But it was when He was on the cross that Jesus bore our sins, in other words, He took our wicked deeds and sin upon himself (2 Cor. 5:21), and became despised so that all those that believed in Him would not have to suffer punishment for their sins, but rather would be forgiven and accepted by God. Jesus took upon Himself the wrath of God in our place. "Whilst we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8) and shed His blood.
Jesus was then buried, as the prophets foretold, and for 3 days His body lay in a tomb. But on the third day, He was resurrected back to life (Luke 24). He appeared to hundreds of people and His disciples. The transformation in the disposition of His disciples was so radical that all but John were martyred for refusing to deny that Jesus was the Son of God and had risen from the grave. Previously they had been downcast and depressed, but by the truth of Christ, they were transformed.
Jesus kept the Law perfectly, and by faith in Him, His righteousness through perfect obedience to the Law (that we could not keep), is accredited to us, meaning God no longer looks at us as lawbreakers but as His children (Rom. 5:1)
Jesus is the only way to God the Father (John 14:6). He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. The Law makes us "conscious of our sin" (Rom. 3:20) and our conscience "bears witness" to this Law (Rom. 2:15), yet the Law brings us no life but "kills" but the "Spirit gives life."
If you will repent of your wrongdoing, confess your sins to God and accept the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, a payment of a debt that you could not pay yourself, then you will be saved. Call upon the name of the Lord Jesus, confess Him with your mouth, for today is the day of your salvation (Rom. 10:9-10, Rom. 10:13).

John 3:16-17 - 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
Ephesians 2:8-9 - 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works , so that no one can boast.
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2020.08.16 15:57 deverbovitae Works of the Flesh: Drunkenness

The Apostle Paul understood the conflict between the desires of the flesh and the ways of God in the Spirit, and exhorted the Galatian Christians to manifest the fruit of the Spirit and resist the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-24). He listed these “works of the flesh” in Galatians 5:19-21:
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousies, wraths, factions, divisions, parties, envyings, drunkenness, revellings, and such like; of which I forewarn you, even as I did forewarn you, that they who practise such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Many of the first “works of the flesh” centered on challenges and temptations which would prove especially acute for Christians who had recently come out of the Greco-Roman pagan milieu: sexual temptations like sexually deviant behavior, uncleanness, and lasciviousness; idolatry; and sorcery. Paul then established the “works of the flesh” which prove especially pernicious in relationships: enmities, strife, jealousy, wrath, rivalries, divisions, sects, and envy. Paul concluded the “works of the flesh” with sins of excess, beginning with drunkenness.
The word here translated as “drunkenness” is the Greek word methe, defined by Thayer as “intoxication, drunkenness.” In theory, a person can become intoxicated or made drunk by all sorts of substances and desires; to this end John is told the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk by the “wine” of the “sexually deviant behavior” of “whore Babylon” in Revelation 17:1-2, an indictment of the idolatry of the age. Yet we notice how the drunkenness is spoken of in terms of “wine,” for the core concept of drunkenness remains “to be made intoxicated by alcoholic substances.” Thus Jesus warned His disciples to not be overcharged with drunkenness and to be found unprepared for the day of His return (Luke 21:34); Paul likewise warned the Roman Christians to walk as if in the day, not in drunkenness in Romans 13:12-13, since those who get drunk tend to do so at night (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:7).
Wine and beer were very common beverages in the Greco-Roman world. Most sources of water were polluted and infested with parasites, and the alcoholic content in wine would help reduce some of these challenges; wine and beer were also a means by which to obtain some calories for survival. Knowledge of distillation was unknown in the ancient world; “strong drink” (Hebrew shekar) in the Old Testament referred to “beer,” not the distilled spirits of much higher alcoholic content now known to man. By the time of the New Testament it was considered barbaric and uncultured to drink “unmixed” wine which maintained its full ~12% alcoholic strength (thus the indictment and the strength of judgment found in the unmixed cup of the wrath of God in Revelation 14:10); wine was cut with water, three or four parts water to one part wine, reducing alcoholic content to around 3-4%. Paul commended such wine for Timothy on account of his stomach ailments (1 Timothy 5:23). Almost everyone in the ancient world, the poor or enslaved as well as the rich, would drink some kind of this mixed wine with their meals.
And yet Paul’s warning against drunkenness remained appropriate: many would drink themselves to drunkenness, even with unmixed wine. In this way human nature has changed little over the centuries: then, as now, many consumed a lot of alcohol at parties or in other social settings as a “social lubricant,” to loosen inhibitions and revel with one’s fellow man: to “make merry,” according to the Hebrew idiom (e.g. Ruth 3:7, 1 Samuel 25:36, 2 Kings 4:20, Ecclesiastes 9:7, Isaiah 24:7, Jeremiah 15:17). Drunkenness, then as now, would often lead to unwise sexual liaisons or arguments and fights (cf. Proverbs 20:1, 23:31-35). For many drunkenness represented a coping mechanism for the distress and pain of life, a tranquilizer to numb from the misery of life (cf. Proverbs 31:6-7). Drunkenness, therefore, represents the attempt to escape from reality to pursue greater social acceptance, the loosening of inhibitions, the warmth and the “buzz,” and/or the numbness from pain. Christians are called upon to clearly recognize reality and to find hope and confidence in Jesus, giving no quarter to the passions of the flesh but in sober-mindedness fully devoted to the purposes of God in Christ until He returns (cf. Colossians 3:1-10). Thus, any who would profess Jesus yet prove to be an unrepentant drunkard must be cast out from among the people of God, for no drunkard will inherit the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 5:11, 6:10).
The culture of alcohol in America today gravitates toward the extremes: excessive consumption of alcohol in revelry and/or addiction, or teetotaling abstinence. Christians do well to condemn the culture of excessive consumption of alcohol and to resist any form of participation in it. Few sins prove as self-defeating as drunkenness: much of it is consumed without regard to taste; all kinds of bad decisions are made while drunk; excessive consumption all too easily leads to a hangover; and despite it all people will return and do it over and over again. Such is the definition of folly, and we do well to observe the lessons of Proverbs 23:31-35. In truth no one is at their best or healthiest while drinking unto drunkenness. Nothing good comes from it.
We can see that Christians must condemn the excessive consumption of alcohol and firmly resist participation in drunkenness and revelry. Yet we must also make sure we do not go beyond what is written in our condemnations and denunciations. There are some who would suggest any kind of alcoholic consumption is sinful and condemned. Many such persons attempt to argue for a “non-alcoholic” definition of Greek oinos as used in the New Testament; some suggest the condemnation of drunkenness in Ephesians 5:18 is not just the end result but the entire process based upon the form of the verb (methuskesthe, argued to be an inchoate/inceptive form), and thus to drink one alcoholic drink is in the process of getting drunk, and thus is as drunkenness. Neither argument can be sustained in light of what is made known in the New Testament. Greek oinos, by definition, is alcoholic wine; contextual evidence would be necessary to suggest anything to the contrary. It would be odd for the Jewish people to condemn Jesus as one who drank a lot of grape juice in Matthew 11:19; Paul’s exhortation for deacons to “not be given to much wine” makes no sense if the “wine” involved was really only grape juice (1 Timothy 3:8). In terms of Ephesians 5:18, not every verb with the inchoate/inceptive form -sk- is necessarily inchoate/inceptive; by the first century, methuskesthe just meant to get drunk, not the whole process. One could argue that the sin of drunkenness includes drinking with the intent to get drunk, and thus with the very first drink; yet even then, if there were no intention to get drunk, and one did not get drunk, there is no means by which to condemn such a one as a drunkard.
What shall we say to such things? No excuse or quarter is to be given for drunkenness: all Christians must condemn excessive consumption of alcohol as dangerous and sinful, a “work of the flesh” (1 Corinthians 5:11, 6:10, Galatians 5:22). The Bible does not condemn all forms of alcoholic consumption, however: the condemnation is in excess consumption, and the Scriptures testify to the people of God drinking wine and beer in Old and New Testament times (Deuteronomy 7:3, 14:26, Proverbs 31:6, Ecclesiastes 9:7, 10:19, Matthew 11:19, 1 Timothy 5:23). The Apostle Paul declared it was good to not drink wine if it caused a fellow Christian to stumble, and that remains excellent counsel (Romans 14:21). And yet the Kingdom is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit according to Romans 14:17: there is no ground to condemn consumption of alcohol that does not lead to excess. Thus, Christians do well to avoid sin in terms of alcohol and drinking: none should get drunk. Those who elect to avoid all alcoholic beverages ought to be respected for that decision, and none should seek to cause them to stumble. Yet those who abstain have no ground or right to judge or condemn those who would consume alcohol but not to excess (Romans 14:3-22). May we glorify God in all we do, avoid drunkenness, and strive to live in peace to edify one another in Christ!
Ethan
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2020.08.16 15:06 Dave-The-Brave-01 Heidelberg Catechism Lord's Day 1

Q.What is your only comfort in life and in death?
A.That I am not my own,1 but belong— body and soul, in life and in death 2 — to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. 3 He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, 4 and has delivered me from the tyranny of the devil. 5 He also watches over me in such a way 6 that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven; 7 in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. 8 Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, also assures me of eternal life 9 and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.10
1 1 Cor. 6:19–20📷 2 Rom. 14:7–9📷 3 1 Cor. 3:23📷; Titus 2:14📷 4 1 Pet. 1:18–19📷; 1 John 1:7–9📷; 2:2📷 5 John 8:34–36📷; Heb. 2:14–15📷; 1 John 3:1–11📷 6 John 6:39–40📷; 10:27–30📷; 2 Thess. 3:3📷; 1 Pet. 1:5📷 7 Matt. 10:29–31📷; Luke 21:16–18📷 8 Rom. 8:28📷 9 Rom. 8:15–16📷; 2 Cor. 1:21–22📷; 5:5📷; Eph. 1:13–14📷 10 Rom. 8:1–17📷
Q.How many things must you know to live and die in the joy of this comfort?
A.Three: first, how great my sin and misery are; 1 second, how I am delivered from all my sins and misery; 2 third, how I am to thank God for such deliverance.3
1 Rom. 3:9–10📷; 1 John 1:10📷 2 John 17:3📷; Acts 4:12📷; 10:43📷 3 Matt. 5:16📷; Rom. 6:13📷; Eph. 5:8–10📷; 2 Tim. 2:15📷; 1 Pet. 2:9–10📷
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2020.08.15 18:16 DJ_Pace How Far Is Too Far Before Marriage?

I've quoted an article below that offers a very thoughtful explanation on why God gives us these "grey areas".

"The Bible is very clear in both Testaments that sexual immorality profanes God’s holiness and therefore is prohibited (1 Corinthians 10:8; Numbers 25:1–9). Intercourse is clearly forbidden outside of marriage between a man and woman, but what else? For a dating or courting couple, how far is too far? The Bible isn’t highly detailed in its description of where the line of immorality is crossed. Is any kind of touching allowed? What about kissing? What about embraces and hand holding and intimate conversation?
Why didn’t God say more? One reason is because God’s will for us is our sanctification (1 Thessalonians 4:3), which means God wants hearts, not just behavior. And what our hearts really want can be revealed as much in how we respond to moral ambiguity as to how we respond to moral clarity. God wants us to wrestle with the grey areas in light of knowing there’s a “holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). How will we seek to love Christ by obeying his commandment to love each other (John 13:34; 14:15), and help one another pursue a “pure heart and good conscience” (1 Timothy 1:5), when we must discern what purity means for us in our place in the world and in history?
To encourage Christians to pursue holiness and make this pursuit most adaptable to culture, time periods, and individuals, God wisely determined we should not be governed by detailed rules of sexual purity, but by the principles that “whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23) and that we must “love one another earnestly from a pure heart” (1 Peter 1:22)."

Taken from: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-wisdom-in-what-god-doesnt-say
What are your thoughts?

Blessings,
Pace
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2020.08.15 06:35 JpBlez5 How badly do you want this? Are you ready to make the choice to be well? Everyone here needs freedom, but freedom is for those who wants it, not for those who need it.

Here’s a story from John 5: 1-11
“Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.” ‭‭John‬ ‭5:1-3‬ ‭NIV‬‬
( when we’re lustful, not only are we sick( , our vision of God is clouded or blinded, and we’re paralyzed or unable to do the right thing).
“One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?””‭‭John‬ ‭5:5-6‬ ‭NIV‬‬
Like the invalid man, some of us have been fighting this sin for a long time. Jesus could’ve looked at him and focused on someone else, maybe someone younger, thinking they’re a lost cause. But no matter how long we’ve been like this, no matter how much we screw up, Jesus still offers us help and forgive us. Jesus still wants to love you and help you through this sin. Remember he will never abandon you, nor forsake you( Joshua 1:9)
Notice how Jesus asked him “do you want to get well”, he didn’t cure him automatically.
This is something Jesus asks us not only when we sin, but every day, “do you want to get well”? We many show him this with our actions, for faith is shown with good works( James 2:17)
““Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath,”‭‭John‬ ‭5:7-9‬ ‭NIV‬‬
This is the day we dream for, when we’re cured of our lustful desires. But as I said before, why didn’t Jesus just automatically heal the man, and likewise why doesn’t he just heal us?
  1. Do you remember how Jesus tells us “ in order to enter our hearts, we must open them to him. Jesus isn’t rude and breaks down the door, forcing you to salvation, he gives you a choice. Likewise Jesus won’t take away something we love, like how we must surrender our hearts in order for Jesus to come in, we must surrender the desires of our sins to God. He won’t just take it away. We have to choose to love God over this sin.
  2. You can’t just magically make porn addiction or lust go away. You have to work towards it. Because the man worked towards it, he was healed. The good news is like the man Jesus will help us through our trails. So how do we work towards freedom like him?
He did 3 things we must do as well.
  1. He listened to Jesus’ directions: when Jesus told him to get up and walk, he did just that. Likewise Jesus is telling us to pick up our cross and walk with him, and obey his word about this sin, etc. So let us listen and obey Jesus’ directions in order to evade this sin.
    1. Didn’t give an excuse to why he couldn’t do it: The man was paralyzed for years, and could’ve used that as an excuse to say” I can’t do this” or” this is just who I am”. But instead he had faith in God and put his excuses away. Sometimes we make an excuse and justify why we watch porn,” oh it’s just who I am, or my friends do it or...” “ I’m not strong enough”No! There are no excuses. God always provides us a way out of this sin, so it’s not that we’re force to sin, but we desire to sin.
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians‬ ‭10:13‬ ‭ESV‬‬
In order to stop this, ask God to change your heart.
  1. He drew strength from God to do the hard work: Because he depended on Gods strength, he walked again. It would be impossible for him to walk on his own, but when he invited Jesus to help, the impossible became possible.
Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.”” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭19:26‬ ‭NLT‬‬
We can’t beat this sin on our own, we must draw from Gods strength in order to help us.
But there’s also another factor to account for, when we’re tempted:
“At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”” ‭‭John‬ ‭5:9-10‬ ‭NIV‬‬
The religious leaders were asking the man why he was living his mat up, and if you could imagine, being questioned by the religious teachers had to be hard. The man was probably extremely tempted to lay back down on the ground, and go back to what Jesus had healed him from.
Sometimes whether it’s because we know others would do it, or because the devil is tempting us hard, we may feel like giving into sin, even when Jesus has already healed us. but...
“But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ ”” ‭‭John‬ ‭5:11‬ ‭NIV‬‬
In response to the teachers, the paralyzed man stood his ground, and reaffirmed that Jesus had told him to walk.
Likewise when we are tempted to give in, we must stand firm in our faith, and use the word of God to counter the temptations of the devil.
Even when it feels like we have to sin, even when the devil comes to us and tempts is, like how the man said Jesus told him to pick up his mat, Jesus instructs us to carry our cross daily So let us obey the lord and fight this sin daily, even when we don’t feel like it.
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2020.08.14 15:41 AsianAmerican97 Who is God in the Old Testament?

Hello, First time posting on this subreddit - so apologies for any errors.
I had always thought the Entity of the Trinity that appears in the Old Testament was God the Father. However, upon re-reading several passages, I am beginning to think it might be Jesus Christ.
The Referenced Verses, John 6:46 and John 14:6 - Which say 'Not that anyone has seen the father, except he who is from God (Jesus Christ)' and 'Nobody can come to the father except through me(Jesus Christ)' (ESV)
From these Statements from Christ, I am inclined to believe the 'LORD' in the old testament was actually Jesus Christ, and not the Father - as I've always assumed. For if Nobody has ever come to the Father, or see the Father except through Christ - in order for Christ's words to be true, Moses must not have been interacting with the Father.
Additionally, it is said of Christ that John 1:11 ESV "He came to his own,[a] and his own people[b] did not receive him." Originally I wrote this off by referencing the Trinity, since Christ said he and the Father are One, but if Christ was the one who gave the Law, and led the Israelites out of Egypt, this passage makes much more sense.
Please let me know what you think of this. Did the Old Testament ever make specific reference that God was God the Father?
Thank you
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2020.08.13 21:43 thetranquillife1 Salvation by Grace through Faith in Christ

. Has sin and lusts left a stain on and guilt in your life? Do you feel distant from God or aware that you are lost, that you have drifted away from Him? Have you had your sins forgiven and felt anew and clean again? Are you unsure of your destiny after death?
Despite many people's familiarity with Christianity, few outside the faith understand the Gospel and mankind's need for salvation. I don't know who you are, or your background; maybe you don't have a Church background and have been sceptical of religion your entire life but you are searching to see if there is more to life. You may have even left the mainstream Churches and lived life your own way because of Churchianity, disagreements, a lack of spirituality or perhaps burdensome legalism. Whatever your reason(s), I believe that God brought you here to draw you to Himself and Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit.
We are in an age of confusion. We have more knowledge than ever but despite our knowledge, many are missing something in their lives. Outside of our relationships, life at times seems somewhat meaningless and cold, especially as we age and draw closer to death. Those that have taken an interest in religion in the past, may have found confusion, unable to ascertain who is right. Instead, I would like to contend that one can know if Christianity is true, if the Holy Spirit, a person of the Trinity, opens their eyes and heart by removing the blindfold of deception that has been wrapped around our eyes as a result of living in this world and in sin.
Millions of people down the centuries have come to believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God, who really did die for our sins. If I can, I would like to offer you the chance to hear the 'old story', of Jesus and His love.
By way of personal testimony, I too was lost in sin and under guilt. Because of my deeds, I felt real emptiness inside and didn't really feel like I had any reason to be happy or joyful. This guilt I carried around with me for many months before I finally realised that God had made a way for me, a sinner, to be at peace with Him, and this was through what Christ achieved on the cross. In the moment of realisation, I felt the guilt lift instantly, and happiness like no other, filled me inside. Since then I have been able to make the changes that I needed and wanted to make, but never could because I was a slave to my desires and unbelief. This experiential knowledge, the revelation of Jesus Christ in scripture, archaeological evidence and reason all compel me to communicate the same message to you so that you can come to believe that Jesus Christ died even for your sins.

Christ

Today in the West, despite many centuries of Christian influence, little is actually known about Jesus, who He was and what he taught, even in mainstream Christianity. Jesus taught that he was the embodiment of all truth (John 14:6), that He was the predicted Messiah (not just of Israel but of the whole world) and that He was God in the 'flesh'. Jesus revealed the truth of God often in short stories (parables) to the crowds and to His disciples. However, despite the brilliance of His parables, His primary objective was to come to Earth to save sinners: save them from their sins and eternal punishment.
Jesus is what the Bible is all pointing to, Old Testament (sometimes called 'the Law') and New Testament. Roughly two thousand years ago, Christ came to us, mankind. God in human form.

Mankind

Mankind (every human) has a spiritual infection. We intuitively know that there is something within all of us that compels us to rebel against the commands of God: to hate, to quarrel, to lie, to steal, to engage in sexual immorality. We sin against God, all of us (Rom. 3:23). We justify it to ourselves: "its only a white lie", "they deserved it" or "I just couldn't help myself." Everyday we trade the glory of God and the result is spiritual dissatisfaction. We can act as if we are complete, but we know we aren't, we know we are restless and we feel alone.
Our dissatisfaction is troubling, but our destiny confounds us. Everyone asks what the future may hold for them, but often we neglect the possibility of future beyond the grave. According to Christ, the soul within us continues beyond the grave, and since God exists and is holy, we have a dilemma; will God accept us and show forgiveness? Where we might stand before Him should press our consciences. This meeting we will have is inevitable and cannot be missed.
The truth is, God created man perfect. Man enjoyed peace, joy, love and wholeness. He was lacking in nothing. He walked with God and was at peace with God. Yet man in his foolishness rebelled against God. Adam chose to break the commandment of God ("thou shalt not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil"), and sin and death entered the human race (Rom. 5:12), and everyone born after is guilty, not because of Adam's deed, but because of each person's individual rebellion. We all have all broken the commandments of God, and the Law which He gave us through Moses, is mocked and ridiculed.
But "God is not mocked." God must expel and punish lawbreakers unless He compromise His own holiness. This is the most awful prospect, to be cast out of the presence of God for our deeds and actions because we failed to live up to His expectations. Every verdict will be just and there will be no repeal. Who can stand before Him and remain? (Psa. 76)
In ourselves, this judgement is unavoidable. We cannot undo our sins. The solution must come from outside, eternal help from without. Yet, there needs to be signs of repentance (attempts to stop practices of sin). Truly, unless repentance comes first, one cannot inherit God's eternal life.

Nicodemus - Born Again of the Spirit

Before moving onto the scriptural text in question, let us have some background information.
Nicodemus was a Jew who studied the Scriptures and strived to be good. He was a Pharisee (a dominant religious sect of Judaism), fasted twice a week, gave money to the synagogue (Jewish place of worship) and studied and followed the Torah (the first five books of the Bible). Yet, despite all this, he visited Jesus one night, unsure of his eternal destiny, spiritual understanding and very conscious of his shortcomings.
We read about this meeting in John 3:1-21. Let us read reverently for "faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God" (Rom. 10:17)
John 3:1-15 (ESV)
3 Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.
10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”

Even Nicodemus, a humanly-speaking good man, was told to be born anew. He was told that his deeds were not enough to appease God. He could not work his way to Heaven.
Jesus says that to be cleansed from sin and unrighteousness, one must be born again. This doesn't refer to a second physical birth ('born of water', the rupture of the amniotic membrane) but rather to a unique spiritual birth: a Divine act of God, a miraculous intervention.

A Description of the New Birth

How does one experience such a birth? What does it look and feel like?
The second birth is NOT:
The second birth IS:
In light of all this, let us pay careful attention to the following.

The Gospel

As stated above, we were created perfect. But because of man's rebellious condition (Mark 7:21-23), we sin consciously and sometimes with pleasure. It is this that separates us from God and invites His righteous displeasure.
However, because God loves mankind, He devised a plan (even before Adam and Eve), to restore you and me to a right relationship with Him (proving His might and power beyond all doubt). God the Father sent God the Son, Jesus Christ (the 'Word'), down to Earth, to live as a man (John 1:14). He grew up in Nazareth in Israel and trained as a carpenter before starting his mission.
During His ministry, He performed miracles, such as turning water into wine (John 2:1-11), healing the crippled and blind (Matthew 21:14), raising the dead (John 11:38-44) and calming the stormy seas (Mark 4:35-41). He taught man how to live a life that God had originally intended for man. All that Jesus did, fulfilled the ancient prophecies found in the Old Testament.
However, despite the many miracles Jesus did, His own people, the Jews, rejected Him and plotted to have Him killed. They falsely accused Him and by the help of the Romans, Jesus was crucified on a cross publicly. Despite being innocent and having never sinned, He was executed like a common criminal (Matthew 27:32-56)
But it was when He was on the cross that Jesus bore our sins, in other words, He took our wicked deeds and sin upon himself (2 Cor. 5:21), and became despised so that all those that believed in Him would not have to suffer punishment for their sins, but rather would be forgiven and accepted by God. Jesus took upon Himself the wrath of God in our place. "Whilst we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8) and shed His blood.
Jesus was then buried, as the prophets foretold, and for 3 days His body lay in a tomb. But on the third day, He was resurrected back to life (Luke 24). He appeared to hundreds of people and His disciples. The transformation in the disposition of His disciples was so radical that all but John were martyred for refusing to deny that Jesus was the Son of God and had risen from the grave. Previously they had been downcast and depressed, but by the truth of Christ, they were transformed.
Jesus kept the Law perfectly, and by faith in Him, His righteousness through perfect obedience to the Law (that we could not keep), is accredited to us, meaning God no longer looks at us as lawbreakers but as His children (Rom. 5:1)
Jesus is the only way to God the Father (John 14:6). He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. The Law makes us "conscious of our sin" (Rom. 3:20) and our conscience "bears witness" to this Law (Rom. 2:15), yet the Law brings us no life but "kills" but the "Spirit gives life."
If you will repent of your wrongdoing, confess your sins to God and accept the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, a payment of a debt that you could not pay yourself, then you will be saved. Call upon the name of the Lord Jesus, confess Him with your mouth, for today is the day of your salvation (Rom. 10:9-10, Rom. 10:13).

John 3:16-17 - 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
Ephesians 2:8-9 - 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works , so that no one can boast.
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2020.08.09 15:58 deverbovitae Freedom in Christ Jesus

For ye, brethren, were called for freedom; only use not your freedom for an occasion to the flesh, but through love be servants one to another (Galatians 5:13).
Few principles receive greater esteem and worship in America than freedom or liberty. Many believe the emphasis and value of freedom is what makes America distinct and exceptional among the nations. Freedom is often viewed as an essential right, if not the essential right, of all Americans: the armed forces are hallowed as those who have sacrificed much in order to maintain freedom and liberty, and so all are expected to highly esteem it. One of the quickest and most effective ways of demonizing a given idea or practice is to say it would inhibit and suppress the freedom of Americans to live as they desire.
In modern America, however, freedom is generally understood in its most libertarian sense: freedom demands license, or “freedom to”: I am free to do as I wish. You do not have the right to tell me what to do or to demand anything of me, because I have freedom and liberty by right as an American citizen, and I will do what I want to do. In America far more sensitivity is shown to the prospect of what is deemed tyranny, the restriction of liberty, than towards a concern for the consequences of disobedience toward or active rebellion against authority, or even on many of the restrictions on individual conduct which work toward the common good; not a few lives have been sacrificed on the altar to preserving the “freedom” of others, and many terrible and unjust policies have been defended as having preserved “freedom” or “liberty.”
Christians indeed have freedom in Christ: the Apostle Paul insisted that Christ set Christians free for freedom (Galatians 5:1). Yet the Apostles envisioned the freedom Christians enjoy in Christ very differently from the libertarian cast of freedom imagined in modern America. In Christ freedom is primarily liberation: “freedom from.”
According to Paul all people are caught up under sin: death entered the world because of sin, and all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23, 5:12-21). The Hebrews author proposed how all people are enslaved by their fear of death to do the will of the Evil One who has the power of death (Hebrews 2:14-15); Paul spoke similarly of people living under the power of the Evil One, of “sin” in terms of a “power” to which people find themselves enslaved to do what they would not and to not do what they would desire to do, and of “powers and principalities” who maintain control over the world in its present darkness (Romans 7:7-23, Ephesians 2:1-3, 6:12). On their own humans find themselves thus lost in condemnation: their good works cannot undo their evil deeds, having been judged by law as transgressors deserving due penalty (Romans 3:20-28, James 2:8-13). Indeed, the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).
By dying to atone for sin, Jesus defeated the forces of sin and the powers and principalities over this present darkness (Romans 8:1-3, Colossians 2:15). In His resurrection from the dead, Jesus overcame the power and sting of death (Romans 6:1-11, 1 Corinthians 15:1-28). This is the freedom Christians have in Christ: liberation from enslavement to sin and death. In Christ Christians are set free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2). Christians are no longer in debt to live according to the ways of the world in its vanity and lusts, for they have received the Spirit of adoption into the household of God (Romans 8:12-15). The powers and principalities of the world have been soundly defeated; Christians can look to Jesus and trust in Him and do not have to give their power over to the forces which would enslave them to sin and death (cf. Colossians 2:11-15).
Freedom as liberation from the forces of sin and death is far greater and more powerful than any freedom which the United States of America might presume to bestow upon its citizens. Yet to what end are Christians expected to exercise their freedom and liberty in Christ?
So many in America and the world might look at “freedom to” as license, to do as they wish; Paul and Peter warn Christians against such a definition. According to Paul, liberation in Christ means to put to death the works of the flesh which enslaved us unto death so we can walk in newness of life in righteousness according to the way of Jesus (Romans 6:1-14, Galatians 5:13, 17-24). Peter stated the matter succinctly in 1 Peter 2:15-16:
For so is the will of God, that by well-doing ye should put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: as free, and not using your freedom for a cloak of wickedness, but as bondservants of God.
The Apostles provide this consistent witness throughout the New Testament: Christians are set free in Christ from enslavement to sin and death in order to freely submit to the will of God in Christ Jesus. In a figure Paul spoke of Christian conversion as having been set free from enslavement to sin to become slaves of righteousness (Romans 6:14-23). The Galatian Christians were in danger of submitting themselves to the yoke of the Law of Moses; Paul insisted how Jesus had called them to freedom from that Law, not to pursue the selfish passions of the flesh, but to serve one another (Galatians 5:1, 13).
Freedom and liberty therefore mean very different things for Christians than they do for Americans. For Americans, freedom is a fundamental right for which many have died so we can maintain and obtain it; to Christians, freedom is the gift of God which comes from Jesus willingly sacrificing Himself for us and for sin. To Americans, freedom is a given, a part of what it means to be an American; Christians understand they have never deserved or merited the freedom they have obtained in Christ, for it was given freely by grace (Ephesians 2:1-10). Far too many Americans presume freedom means they can do whatever they want; Christians must use their freedom to submit themselves to the will of God in Christ, or their “freedom” is merely a cloak and a pretext for evil, and has been emptied of its power. Americans will die for liberty; in Christ, liberty is the first thing to be renounced in order to live in the unity of the Spirit (cf. Romans 14:1-23, 1 Corinthians 8:1-13). Americans constantly fret about the danger of someone infringing on their liberty; Christians maintain confidence in the inability of any external agent to separate them from the love of God in Christ Jesus their Lord yet expect to suffer harassment, loss, and/or persecution for their confession that Jesus is Lord (Romans 8:31-39, 1 Peter 4:12-19).
As Christians we can appreciate the benefits and blessings that come from being citizens of the United States of America; we can celebrate our freedom of religion and freedom of assembly, and even remain in the right to exhort and remind governing authorities regarding these values which the nation-state would presume to uphold (cf. Acts 16:35-40). For Christians, however, freedom looks like a cross. If we allow American conceptions of freedom and liberty to inform our faith in Christ, we will invariably insist on our own ways to the detriment and harm of others, cast aspersions and perhaps even prove rebellious against lawful authorities, and be condemned for having used our freedom as a cloak for wickedness. We cannot follow in humiliation, degradation, and suffering according to the way of the Christ while doggedly insisting on our freedoms and rights. We cannot demand our way or the highway and yet share in relational unity with God and with His people as God shares relational unity within Himself (John 17:20-23, Ephesians 4:1-4). Instead, as Christians, we must continually resist understanding freedom in Christ Jesus as so many understand freedom in America; we must root and ground ourselves in Jesus as Lord, confess Him in word and deed, and use the freedom we have obtained in Christ to submit to Him in all things and serve one another. May we find what is truly life in Christ and confess Jesus, not American ideals, as Lord!
Ethan
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2020.08.07 21:16 jmscwss The Practical Importance of Understanding

Understanding the gift of tongues as the gift of “glossary,” or the gift of “hard words that require explanation,” allows us to see a straight line of relation between the final four gifts that St. Paul lists in 1 Co. 12:8-10. Simply put, that line is comprehended as the increasing understanding of Christ’s teaching. As we advance in our understanding of Christ’s teachings, we will progressively attain greater spiritual gifts, for the gifts are needed to continue advancing in our understanding. Because they are needed, they are given; Christ will not leave us without guidance (John 14:18).
The sort of understanding which leads to the manifestation of spiritual power (“efficacious understanding”) is not a guaranteed result of any human activity. A man can spend years in seminarian training, or even memorize the whole Bible, and yet fail to understand its meaning. The kind of understanding which leads to spiritual power comes only from the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Now, the Holy Spirit can certainly make use of seminarian training and Bible memorization. We can think of our understanding as a bonfire. The Holy Spirit provides the flame, but we must lay down the kindling. While formal, seminarian training may be used by the Holy Spirit, daily reading and persistent prayer are perfectly sufficient ways to lay your kindling. The point is, the Holy Spirit does not simply drop efficacious understanding in believers’ laps. Even if we could never do it by ourselves, God wants to work with us.
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Efficacious understanding is “in a field,” rather than in the comfort of your home. If a believer desires to find the kingdom, he will need to get out of his comfort zone. He will have to challenge himself with ideas which are repugnant to his pride and sense of self-sufficiency. He will often have to entertain the idea that “I have been looking at this all wrong, my entire life.”
[7] Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice,
[8] do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness,
The command to soft-heartedness is perpetually present. Today. Every time you go before the Lord, if you are truly standing in expectation of hearing His voice, then you need to understand what the Holy Spirit says here. God will never contradict God, but the understanding that He gives deepens, broadens, and may radically change your perspective of every idea in your mind. The old understanding, the old way of looking at things: it’s still there. But sometimes you find that your old perspective was just a small portion of a small, blue speck, which is part of a much larger picture.
That can be uncomfortable. Things which we have regarded as highly important, are revealed to be childish precursors to the real thing (or, at least, the new perspective of the real thing). Surrendering false notions of self-importance is part of the spiritual “death to self,” that is a part of the Christian walk with Christ.
[24] Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
[25] Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
So, efficacious understanding is in a field, meaning it requires you to get out of your comfort zone. Furthermore, efficacious understanding does not jump out at you, when you get into the field; instead, the kingdom is “hidden.” If a believer desires to find the kingdom, he will need to search and dig for it.
Efficacious understanding is not something that can be brought home, and placed on the mantle alongside other so-called “treasures.” In order to take possession of the kingdom, the believer will need to forsake everything else which he holds dear, and make his new home where the treasure is found.
Christ’s teaching in Matthew 13:44 is one of many that indicate the need for our participation with the Holy Spirit. Progressive sanctification is not something which is simply going to be done to us. If we do nothing to advance in understanding, then understanding will not be given to us.
You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
Now, let us distinguish between spirits: There is a difference between salvation and sanctification. The bar for salvation is set as low as possible, because God is not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9). To be saved, it is sufficient to believe the mere historical facts that Jesus Christ lived, died, and yet lives (1 Co. 2:2, 15:14).
The building up of our understanding is not something that is required for salvation. Furthermore, an incorrect understanding of these facts will not nullify a believer’s salvation (1 Co. 3:15). Nevertheless, “If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives [the trial of fire], he will receive a reward.”
Thus far, we have established these important points:
In the next posts, I will take a closer look at the spiritual gifts, so we can see how they are related as lesser and greater exhibitions of understanding.
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