Unforgivable Sin

August 26, 2012

(article from equip.org)

How can I be certain that I’ve not committed the unforgivable sin?


This is one of the most frequently asked questions on the Bible Answer Man broadcast and stems from the following words spoken by Christ: “I tell you the truth, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come” (Matthew 12:31–32). As a result of these words, Christians are often paralyzed by fear.

In response, let me first point out that from a historic perspective the Pharisees mentioned by Matthew militantly hated Christ and attributed his miracles to Beelzebub, the prince of demons. Unlike those who are afraid they have committed the unforgivable sin, the Pharisees were totally unconcerned about Christ’s forgiveness. Instead, with premeditation and persistence, they willfully blasphemed the Holy Spirit’s testimony that Christ was the Son of the living God. It is crucial to recognize that the unforgivable sin is not a single act but a continuous, ongoing rejection.

Furthermore, those who have committed the unpardonable sin have no godly regrets. As Paul emphasizes in the book of Romans, they not only continue in their evil ways but approve of others who do so as well (Romans 1:32). Conversely, “godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation” (2 Corinthians 7:10). Sorrow for sin and the desire for Christ’s forgiveness is proof positive that you have not rejected the Savior of your soul. Never forget that three times Peter denied his Lord with vile oaths. Yet, not only did Christ forgive him, but his confession, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16) became the cornerstone of the Christian church.

Finally, the Bible consistently teaches that those who spend eternity separated from God do so because they willingly, knowingly, and continuously reject the gospel. John refers to this as the “sin that leads to death” (1 John 5:16) in the sense that those who refuse forgiveness through Christ will spend eternity separated from his grace and love. Be assured that those who sincerely desire God’s forgiveness can be absolutely certain that they will never be turned away.

“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” 1 John 5:13

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The Quicksand Of Temptation

August 26, 2012

(Teacher: Stormie Omartian)

Read and Consider:
2 Samuel 11

One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. (2 Samuel 11:2-3)

King David was a good man. A man after God’s own heart. But one night he wasn’t where he was supposed to be, and he wasn’t doing what he was supposed to be doing. He was supposed to be fighting with his army. Instead, he was up on his roof watching the married lady next door take a bath. Then he sent for her to come to his palace. . .and the story goes downhill from there.

You’re probably familiar with it. The beautiful woman, Bathsheba, ended up pregnant, and her husband ended up conveniently dead on the front line of David’s battle, being sent there specifically for that purpose by David. The king married Bathsheba, but they lost their baby. And, amazingly, had it not been for a confrontation with the prophet Nathan, David may have come out of the situation thinking he had pulled one over on God just because he had covered his tracks. But that’s not how it works.

What could have saved David from the temptation to involve himself with another man’s wife? Instead of feasting his eyes on that naked woman, he should have turned his eyes away, admitted his temptation to God immediately, and gone right into the privacy of his own room. There he could have done what he had done in the midst of so many other battles or personal struggles—fallen on his face before God in prayer, praise, and worship. If he had stayed there before the Lord until the grip of temptation had released him, these tragedies would never have happened.

But he didn’t. David “sent someone to find out about her.” he stuck his toe into the quicksand of temptation, and before he knew it, he was in over his head.

All of us face temptation at one time or another. It may not be the same kind that David faced, but anything that draws us away from God and entices us to do what is against God’s laws is temptation. Whenever that happens to you, immediately get before God and confess it. Ask Him to set you free from it and help you do the right thing. Then worship God until you feel the temptation broken over you.

The ability to withstand temptation begins the moment you look to your Savior and Deliverer for help.

Stormie Omartian will now lead us in prayer:

Dear God,
I pray You will help me to always successfully resist temptation from the moment I am confronted with it. Help me to draw closer to You when anything tries to draw me away from You. Deliver me from the trap of temptation before I fall into it. Give me the strength, wisdom, and knowledge I need to fully resist temptation at all times.
Amen


Our Unbiblical View Of Heaven

August 25, 2012

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(excerpt from “Heaven” by Randy Alcorn)

OUR UNBIBLICAL VIEW OF HEAVEN

When an English vicar was asked by a colleague what he expected after death, he replied, “Well, if it comes to that, I suppose I shall enter into eternal bliss, but I really wish you wouldn’t bring up such depressing subjects.”

Over the past fifteen years, I’ve received thousands of letters and have had hundreds of conversations concerning Heaven. I’ve spoken about Heaven at churches and conferences. I’ve written about Heaven and taught a seminary course titled “A Theology of Heaven.” There’s a great deal I don’t know, but one thing I do know is what people think about Heaven. And frankly, I’m alarmed.

I agree with this statement by John Eldredge in The Journey of Desire: “Nearly every Christian I have spoken with has some idea that eternity is an unending church service. . . . We have settled on an image of the never-ending sing-along in the sky, one great hymn after another, forever and ever, amen. And our heart sinks. Forever and ever? That’s it? That’s the good news?. And then we sigh and feel guilty that we are not more ‘spiritual.’ We lose heart, and we turn once more to the present to find what life we can.”

Gary Larson captured a common misperception of Heaven in one of his Far Side cartoons. In it a man with angel wings and a halo sits on a cloud, doing nothing, with no one nearby. He has the expression of someone marooned on a desert island with absolutely nothing to do. A caption shows his inner thoughts: “Wish I’d brought a magazine.”

In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain portrays a similar view of Heaven. The Christian spinster Miss Watson takes a dim view of Huck’s fun-loving spirit. According to Huck, “She went on and told me all about the good place. She said all a body would have to do there was go around all day long with a harp and sing, forever and ever. So I didn’t think much of it. . . . I asked her if she reckoned Tom Sawyer would go there, and she said, not by a considerable sight. I was glad about that, because I wanted him and me to be together.

The pious Miss Watson had nothing to say about Heaven that appealed to Huck. (And nothing, if we’re honest, that appeals to us.) What would have attracted him was a place where he could do meaningful and pleasurable things with enjoyable people. In fact, there’s a far more accurate depiction of what Heaven will actually be ike. If Miss Watson had told Huck what the Bible says about living in a resurrected body and being with people we love on a resurrected Earth with gardens and rivers and mountains and untold adventures—now that would have gotten his attention!

When it came to Heaven and Hell, Mark Twan never quite got it. Under the weight of age, he said in his autobiography, “The burden of pain, care, misery grows heavier year by year. At length ambition is dead, pride is dead, vanity is dead, longing for release is in their place. It comes at last—the only unpoisoned gift earth ever had for them—and they vanish from a world where they were of no consequence; where they achieved nothing; where they were a mistake and a failure and a foolishness.”

What a contrast to the perspective that Charles Spurgeon, his contemporary, had on death: “To come to Thee is to come home from exile, to come to land out of the raging storm, to come to rest after long labour, to come to the goal of my desires and the summit of my wishes.”

We do not desire to eat gravel. Why? Because God did not design us to eat gravel. Trying to develop an appetite for a disembodied existence in a non-physical Heaven is like trying to develop an appetite for gravel. No matter how sincere we are, and no matter how hard we try, it’s not going to work. Nor should it.

What God made us to desire, and therefore what we do desire if we admit it, is exactly what he promises to those who follow Jesus Christ: a resurrected life in a resurrected body, with the resurrected Christ on a resurrected Earth. Our desires correspond precisely to God’s plans. It’s not that we want something, so we engage in wishful thinking that what we want exists. It’s the opposite—the reason we want it is precisely because God has planned for it to exist. As we’ll see, resurrected people living in a resurrected universe isn’t our idea—it’s God’s.

Nineteenth-century British theologian J.C. Ryle said, “I pity the man who never thinks about heaven.” We could also say, “I pity the man who never thinks accurately about Heaven.” It’s our inaccurate thinking, I believe, that causes us to choose to think so little about Heaven.


It’s Friday!

August 24, 2012

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My Shield

August 23, 2012

(image & devotional from jctrois.com)

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A rock provides firm footing and a solid foundation. When it’s easy to just give up and we face tough times, who or what do you turn to when you have a tough day? Seek shelter and put your feet on firm footing. Ask God to be the power that saves you.


History Of The Holy Land-Pre-Israelite Culture

August 22, 2012

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Chalcolithic Pottery Jar from Jericho, 3800-3350 B.C.
(image from BiblicalArtifacts.com)

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(article from the Archaeological Study Bible)

The Holy Land, at times variously called Canaan, Israel, the Levant or Palestine, has changed hands many times and has often been the center of conflict. The archaeology of Palestine is complex, in that it reflects all eras of the region’s long history.

PRE-ISRAELITE CULTURE
Prehistoric and Early Bronze Age

Canaan was inhabited from prehistoric times. The earliest Stone Age culture was discovered at Mount Carmel, and remains of a later Stone Age culture, called the Natufian, were unearthed at Jericho. Agriculture and the production of pottery began during the Neolithic period, which is divided into “pre-pottery” and “pottery” periods. During the late fifth and fourth millenniums B.C. a culture called “Ghassulian” emerged in the southern Jordan Valley. Along with a site in Beersheba, this marked the beginning of the Chalcolithic Age in the region. Ghassulian pottery is remarkably advanced and attests to the sophistication of these early people.

The beginning of the Early Bronze Age (3400-2000 B.C.) in the Levant corresponds with late predynastic and early dynastic Egypt, around 3400-3000 B.C. Important Early Bronze I sites include Megiddo, Jericho, Ai and Beth Shan, all in northern or central Palestine; a more advanced culture developed in the southern part of the region somewhat later. An important Early Bronze II site in the south is Arad. The Early Bronze Age saw the beginning of urban culture in the land, with more or less autonomous city-states developing around major walled cities.

Around 2650-2350 B.C. a breakdown of unspecified origin occured in urban culture, especially in the north. One suggested reason is that nomadic Amorites invaded the land and disrupted the culture. It is questionable, however, whether this change in culture can be attributed to an Amorite migration or invasion, and today many scholars reject this suggestion. Some believe that environmental problems were a more likely cause; Abraham is said to have gone down to Egypt because of famine (Gen. 12:10). The decline of Early Bronze culture in Canaan may be related to the end of the Old Kingdom in Egypt in the twenty-second century B.C., as “Asiatics” (Semitic peoples from Canaan and Syria) pushed their way into Egypt.

Middle Bronze and Late Bronze Ages

A new urban culture, contemporary with the beginning of the Middle Kingdom in Egypt, arose at the start of the Middle Bronze Age (c. 2000-1550 B.C.) prominent cities included Tel Aphek, Byblos, Acco, Megiddo, Jericho, and Beth Shan. The art of pottery-making advanced significantly as potters learned to use the fast wheel to fashion fine vessels. The Egyptian Tale of Sinuhe provides a portrait if Canaanite life at this time. The Middle Bronze Age in Canaan also spans the Hyksos era of the Second Intermediate period in Egypt; some have argued for a Hyksos presence in Canaan, but this is unlikely.

There was a decline in the quality of material culture (especially pottery) in Canaan at the beginning of the Late Bronze Age (c. 1550-1200 B.C.), and there appears to have been a great deal of destruction during Late Bronze I (c. 1550-1400 B.C.). Egyptian rulers. Especially Thutmose III (c. 1479-1425 B.C.), made forays into Canaan to keep the city-states there subservient to Egyptian demands, and Egyptian influence is evident at a number of sites (e,g., Megiddo). Many scholars, on the basis of destruction levels for various Late Bronze II sites, have argued that the Israelite invasion under Joshua occurred around 1250 B.C., but this argument has largely collapsed since in fact no cities, with the possible exception of Hazor, have destruction levels that fit this interpretation.

(Next: Israelite Culture)


Your Family

August 21, 2012

(Teacher: Charles Stanley)

Trust God To Do What Only God Can Do

When you have done everything you know to do to protect your family from evil . . . when you have put into place the very best defense and offense against the devil that you know to establish . . . it is time for you to trust God to act in the lives of your family members in the way only God can act.

Trust Him to convict your loved ones of sin.

Trust Him to save and heal your family members.

Trust Him to protect and provide for your children.

Trust Him to do what only God can do in any given circumstance.

You are not the “savior” of your family members, and neither are you their “lord.” Jesus alone is Savior and Lord. Ultimately, we each must submit our life to God and follow Him out of our own volition.

I believe, however, that as you act and pray with faith, God will protect and provide, now and forever!


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