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What The Bible Says Good Samaritan's Penny Pulpit by Pastor Ed Rice
What The Bible Says Good Samaritan's Penny Pulpit by Pastor Ed Rice
What The Bible Says Good Samaritan's Penny Pulpit by Pastor Ed Rice
What The Bible Says Good Samaritan's Penny Pulpit by Pastor Ed Rice
What The Bible Says Good Samaritan's Penny Pulpit by Pastor Ed Rice
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The complexity of the situation even presents a challenge to Jewish Christian unity.Among Christians in America, Israel can be viewed as a fulfillment of prophecy, a democratic ally in a region of chaos, or an occupier oppressing stateless Palestinians. How to choose?Given that 2 out of 3 US evangelicals have a positive perception of Israel, according to LifeWay Research, perhaps a better question is: How should evangelicals identify with the issues Israel faces?Fortunately, there is a useful interpreter. “If the Christian community wants to understand Israel from a believing perspective,” said Jamie Cowen, an Israeli lawyer and a believer in Jesus, “going through Messianic Jews is best.”However, the complexity of Israel divides even Messianic Jews in attitude toward Palestine, as illustrated by debate this year over an interview provocatively summarized as supporting ethnic cleansing.“The only rights the Palestinians have are squatter’s rights,” Paul Liberman, executive director of the Alliance for Israel Advocacy (AIA), toldThe Intercept. He described how the lobbying arm of the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America (MJAA) was pushing for a shift of US funding from UN–administered Palestinian aid ($364 million in 2017) to an Israeli-led effort offering money to relocate from the West Bank. The goal: eventual annexation of the territory in a one-state solution with fewer Palestinian citizens, maintaining Israel as a Jewish state.First adopted by the MJAA in 2015, the idea reverberated within Messianic Jewish circles once TheIntercept highlighted efforts to harness evangelical influence in Congress and the White House.“It is not a removal. It is an opportunity for a much better life,” said Joel Chernoff, CEO of the MJAA. “But the demographic ...Continue reading...
The complexity of the situation even presents a challenge to Jewish Christian unity.Among Christians in America, Israel can be viewed as a fulfillment of prophecy, a democratic ally in a region of chaos, or an occupier oppressing stateless Palestinians. How to choose?Given that 2 out of 3 US evangelicals have a positive perception of Israel, according to LifeWay Research, perhaps a better question is: How should evangelicals identify with the issues Israel faces?Fortunately, there is a useful interpreter. “If the Christian community wants to understand Israel from a believing perspective,” said Jamie Cowen, an Israeli lawyer and a believer in Jesus, “going through Messianic Jews is best.”However, the complexity of Israel divides even Messianic Jews in attitude toward Palestine, as illustrated by debate this year over an interview provocatively summarized as supporting ethnic cleansing.“The only rights the Palestinians have are squatter’s rights,” Paul Liberman, executive director of the Alliance for Israel Advocacy (AIA), toldThe Intercept. He described how the lobbying arm of the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America (MJAA) was pushing for a shift of US funding from UN–administered Palestinian aid ($364 million in 2017) to an Israeli-led effort offering money to relocate from the West Bank. The goal: eventual annexation of the territory in a one-state solution with fewer Palestinian citizens, maintaining Israel as a Jewish state.First adopted by the MJAA in 2015, the idea reverberated within Messianic Jewish circles once TheIntercept highlighted efforts to harness evangelical influence in Congress and the White House.“It is not a removal. It is an opportunity for a much better life,” said Joel Chernoff, CEO of the MJAA. “But the demographic ...Continue reading...
“The liberty to worship our Creator in the way we think most agreeable to His will is a liberty deemed in other countries incompatible with good government and yet proved by our experience to be its best support.” - Thomas JeffersonOften called America’s “first freedom,” religious freedom was key to our founding. In fact, it’s no accident that the Founders listed it as the first freedom in the Bill of Rights. It was the reason the Pilgrims made the treacherous journey across the Atlantic—to escape persecution and establish a haven of religious freedom.In both their public and private lives, the American Founders were not shy about expressing their faith. But today, there is a growing movement to silence the religious expression of public officials, particularly Christians. On Easter Sunday, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, a born-again Christian, posted John 11:25 on his government social media accounts. The verse reads, “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he may die, he shall live.’” Next to the picture was the caption “He is risen! Have a happy and blessed Easter!” The Arizona Republic quickly denounced the post as a violation of the separation of church and state, arguing that Gov. Ducey cannot use his government social media accounts to promote a particular religion. Yet when former President Obama wished everyone a “Happy Ramadan” in 2013 and 2015 from his official White House account, he was never criticized for endorsing Islam.But Gov. Ducey isn’t the only public official who has faced such unfair scrutiny. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine was attacked a few days prior for his comments about a Christian ministry. At a fundraiser for Capitol Ministries, an organization whose sole mission is to reach every public servant with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Bridenstine gave a few words of praise for the ministry: “I love what Ralph said earlier: We’re not trying to Christianize the US government. We believe in an institutional separation, but we also believe in influence. And that’s a big distinction and an important distinction, and that’s why I love this ministry.” Once again, leftist groups were quick to denounce Bridenstine’s comments, claiming that he used his government position to endorse a religion and violated the Establishment Clause. Yet these groups were strangely silent when former President Obama spoke at fundraisers for Planned Parenthood and even called for God’s blessing on the abortion giant.The Left won’t even leave the Second Lady alone. In January, Karen Pence was lambasted for teaching at a Christian school that holds to a biblical view of sexuality, meaning that individuals who identify as LGBT are prohibited from working at the school. Apparently, the Left believes any association with Christianity by a public official is tantamount to violating the Establishment Clause.It seems the Left is intent on silencing Christians who hold public office from expressing their faith. However, they seem to conveniently forget that our nation was founded on freedom of religious expression and that our Founding Fathers actively exercised that freedom while holding public office. In fact, as President, George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson all called for national days of prayer. In the states, many governors including Samuel Adams, Elbridge Gerry, John Hancock, Caleb Strong, and Jonathan Trumbull all called for days of prayer and repentance.Furthermore, the First Amendment is clear that there should be “no law respecting an establishment of religion.” This was directly in reference to the Church of England, which the former British colonies were required to support and attend. Under the new Constitution, Americans were free to support or not support the religion of their choice without any fear of government repercussion—and they don’t forfeit this right just because they serve in public office. It is just silly to claim that the comments and actions of Gov. Ducey, Jim Bridenstine, and the Second Lady “established” a religion.One doesn’t leave their religion behind when they are elected or appointed to a government office. Yes, public officials are rightfully held to a higher standard. But one’s faith remains just as much a part of him or her as it was before, and we remain free to express it while holding public office. Gov. Ducey was quick to respond to his critics and showed no intentions of backing down: “We won’t be removing this post. Ever. Nor will we be removing our posts for Christmas, Hanukkah, Rosh Hashanah, Palm Sunday, Passover, or any other religious holiday. We support the First Amendment and are happy to provide copies of the Constitution to anyone who hasn’t read it.” Responding to The Arizona Republic, Ducey said: “With respect to your ‘experts,’ people don’t lose the right to free speech when they run for office. So, no, we STILL won’t be taking the post down. Not now, not ever.”Gov. Ducey is right—it might do the Left some good to read the Constitution. They’ll be surprised to find that “separation of church and state,” which they are so quick to espouse, is found nowhere in the Constitution. In fact, it is from a letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1801 to a Baptist church congregation from Danbury, Connecticut—and the letter states just the opposite of what the Left calls for today. A committee from the church had written a letter to President-elect Jefferson, congratulating him on his election and urging him to protect religious freedom. President Jefferson wrote “that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God.” Jefferson assured the Danbury Baptists of his commitment to protecting the freedom of religion. He went on to quote the establishment clause and that it had built “a wall of separation between church and state.” Jefferson still made public expressions of faith as president but never came close to establishing a religion as defined by the First Amendment.The Left’s double standard is unbelievable. While advocating for tolerance, they demand that every public official submit to their agenda. Those that do not face a complete sabotage of their career. Because of this, attacks like the ones on Gov. Ducey, Jim Bridenstine, and Karen Pence will continue to escalate on Christians in public office. Like Gov. Ducey, we must be ready with swift responses. The key to preserving our freedoms—including religious freedom for public officials—lies in exercising them. If we don’t exercise those rights, we will lose them. But as long as we keep fighting, religious liberty will remain alive and well.
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash Isaiah 55:11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: It shall not return unto me void, But it shall accomplish that which I please, And it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. God’s Word works. It accomplishes His purposes. There are […]
by Colin EakinMatt. 23:27: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness."In 1942, Englishman C.S. Lewis published a book entitled The Screwtape Letters. In it, a senior devil named Screwtape details to his nephew and underling Wormwood methods for waylaying and ultimately damning his intended victim. The book is a clever and revealing look at how the actual devil, Satan, goes about perpetrating his odious work in the world. One overarching theme behind Screwtape's instruction to Wormwood is how the subtle provocation away from truth is usually more helpful in bringing souls to hell than blatant exposures to deplorable sins. Writes Screwtape to his young apprentice, "Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts . . . ."One glance across the landscape of professing Christianity since the book's publication shows how Satan has capitalized mightily on Screwtape's insight, using incremental apostasy to poison the well of doctrinal truth and undermine the Church's message. Incremental nudges away from biblical fidelity are the hallmark of the false church, and the chief exponents Satan has employed for this task have been the contemporary equivalents of the "scribes and Pharisees" of Jesus' day, those tasked with overseeing Scriptural instruction. Christ's no-holds-barred denunciation of such false teachers was designed to expose these counterfeit religious leaders for who they really are—walking sepulchers housing spiritual cadavers.Why "whitewashed"? Because Jesus knew what His Spirit would later inspire the Apostle Paul to write (2 Cor. 11:13-15): "For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness." The "wolf in sheep's clothing" (cf. Matt. 7:13-14; Acts 20:28) has been Satan's chief ploy for deceiving the unsuspecting since the early days of the Church. Christ's diatribe in Matt. 23:27 is meant to warn of the spiritual leader housed in a sincere, winsome, wholesome-appearing, religiously adorned exterior, all the while concealing a spiritual corpse. And what was true then holds true today: nothing infuriates God more than a theologian or spiritual teacher whose noxious instruction is hidden by a veneer of respectability and charm, with just enough feints towards orthodoxy to beguile the naive. Moreover, knowing that students ultimately become like their masters (cf. Luke 6:40), Christ wanted all to know what was at stake given continued exposure to such impostors and their fetid deceit.But despite the myriad of Scriptural warnings to be on guard against such impostors, the sad reality is that the Church has never been so awash in falsehood as it is today. It is as if Satan has hit upon the "whitewashed tomb" as the principal means for furthering his deception and is doubling down on their production. So if a new edition of The Screwtape Letters were to be published today, we might imagine it would contain an addendum entitled, "How to Build a Whitewashed Tomb." If artifice and apostasy is to continue infiltrating the Church, then Wormwood must be updated on the furtherance of this chief armament of Satan. With this in mind, let us imagine how Screwtape might write to Wormwood today:My Dear Wormwood,It being some time since our last correspondence, with developments both favorable and troubling, I feel compelled to write and bring you up to date on the latest directives from our Ruler. You will recall in prior posts I emphasized to you the value of incremental apostasy in undermining our Enemy's work. And no factor over the last two millennia has been more integral to this stratagem than the ongoing reproduction of (to use our Enemy's censorious term) "whitewashed tombs." As you know, these clandestine operatives appear to be working for Him, when in reality they are working for us.That such a strategy has succeeded through the years, and even works today, is quite remarkable. For when our Enemy walked the earth, He plainly exposed our agents then for what they are—"whitewashed tombs"—and warned in great detail how they were to be identified (Matt. 7:13-14; 23:1-36; John 10:7-13). Not only that, His inspired scribes revealed us—the instigators and motivators behind these agents—in our true form, as "servants of righteousness" (2 Cor. 11:13-15). Such disclosures might have spelled disaster, as the impact of our counterfeit work lies in its spiritual camouflage, and here the Holy One of Israel was drawing back the curtain for all to see. Fortunately, time, vanity and spiritual lethargy have combined to dull the discernment of mankind to His warnings, to a degree that never before have our agents been so ubiquitous, and are finding greener pastures with every passing decade.But we cannot become complacent. Remember how five centuries ago, the tide turned against us most dramatically and severely, and many souls were lost to the Enemy forever. It is uncertain we will ever fully recover from this calamity, as even now vestiges of that so-called "Reformation" continue to befuddle and undermine our labors. Therefore, you must understand our Ruler's prioritization of false teaching as our foremost task at hand, which in turn is predicated upon the replication of our prized "whitewashed tombs," that the unsuspecting might be permanently waylaid from the Truth. So without further ado, I pass along to you our Ruler's formula for how to build a "whitewashed tomb." If you can deceive the would-be teacher of the Word with these three simple measures, you will ensure their continued reproduction for the foreseeable future:The "whitewashed tomb" will downplay the biblical description of spiritual death.The first task in creating a whitewashed tomb is to obscure the biblical description of all mankind as being spiritually dead. As you know, the Enemy's Word is not ambiguous in declaring this as the true spiritual condition of all people prior to conversion. Fortunately, the world finds this doctrine especially scandalous, so we must naturally exploit their sense of insult. You will find your "tombs" will readily stray from teaching truth when it is offensive to their listeners. They will be loath to inform them that all humans are born into this world as spiritually deceased "children of wrath" (Eph. 2:1-3), that they live under the contemporaneous judgment of God (John 3:18; 36), and that—apart from salvation via repentance and faith—they are headed to eternal torment in hell (Matt. 25:41, 46). Let your would-be instructor teach that humans are broken, hurt, needful, insufficient, helpless, or any other distressed condition, but never spiritually deceased. If your tomb or his audience were to learn this truth of their condition (Ps. 51:5; Mt. 8:21-22; Luke 15:24; Eph. 2:1, 5), they would then be far likelier to yearn for the new life the Enemy offers through repentance and faith. Biblical terms and phrases we have sought to quash—such as "born again"—might reemerge and wreak havoc with our plans.Critical to this, of course, is that our Enemy's Word must remain unopened, or if opened, then ignored. Have your minions quote mystics and spiritual sages in lieu of the Truth. And when the Word must be quoted (as you will find at times is necessary to satisfy some), the text must serve the doctrinal presuppositions of our teachers, and not vice-versa. Your tombs should offer competing understandings of straightforward but culturally unpopular passages, and disdain polemical and apologetic use of the Word as illegitimate "proof-texting." Whenever possible, have your tombs offer solace to those who find it hard to spend time in the Word, as though such activity is incidental for the "Jesus-follower" (a nice substitute for "Christian"). Favor small groups simply gathering to share their lives and offer each other support over any formal "Bible study." Above all, our subjects must remain ignorant of the Enemy's clear tactic, which He openly declared in John 5:25: "Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live." We must do all we can to thwart such a development, and the key is to mislead the masses away our Enemy's Word and its unambiguous truth—that all humanity is spiritually dead until some hear His voice and become alive.The "whitewashed tomb" will invert the biblical order of spiritual regenerationUnfortunately, my dear Nephew, it is inevitable that the sinner's need for rebirth by our Enemy will surface. Sooner or later, the guilt and shame of sin will weigh on some, and they will long for spiritual regeneration which only our Enemy can provide. When that happens, it is imperative for you to invert the order of spiritual transformation. What do I mean? Simply this: humans must be encouraged to believe what they do for God makes them acceptable before God. They must be taught that one's performance for God determines their position with God, that they can belong to Him before they believe in Him.This is, of course, baldly refuted throughout Scripture. You know, dear Wormwood, that the prayers and other acts of service done by those who have not yet been redeemed by our Enemy through repentance and faith are an abomination to Him (Prov. 15:8; 28:9; Isa. 64:6). In fact, this is nothing other than legalism, that old tried and true tactic perfected by the Pharisees, yet still a compelling vice all these years later. This falsehood remains enticing because sinners warm to the idea that they might offer works to be approved by our Enemy, and recoil at being told they can do nothing to merit His acceptance. The endurance and flourishing of legalism explains how much of the professing Church today is bursting with spiritual activity and service rendered to our Enemy with absolutely no clue how to be truly reconciled to Him (2 Cor. 5:18-21).You might think the biblical evidence opposing this legalistic heresy is too overwhelming for our ploy to work, but think again. Just last month, a well-known megachurch pastor and popular author bemoaned to his congregation that, ". . . people are drawn to Buddhism rather than Christianity because they understand Buddhism to be a religion of practice, but Christianity to be a religion of beliefs. I don't know who defined Christianity that way, but it was not Jesus." (As you know, dear Wormwood, it certainly was. The Gospel of John is a veritable treasure trove of quotes by our Enemy refuting this teacher's statement and proving that salvation comes not from doing, but from believing; this is, again, why we must do everything possible to distract people from the Word). As you know, the world of religions that we have spawned and even now sustain are all based upon the pretense that human effort can win the Almighty's approval. As long as sinners can be deceived away from the truth that right belief must precede right practice, we will ensure their spiritual confusion and, ultimately, their damnation.The "whitewashed tomb" will ignore the biblical gospel of spiritual substitutionOnce your teacher ignores or, better yet, denies spiritual death as the default condition of all, then inverts the biblical order of spiritual regeneration by placing right practice ahead of right belief, your task is almost complete. The final nail in your whitewashed coffin is this: corruption of the true gospel through denial of penal substitutionary atonement. As you know, the Enemy has clearly stated that salvation comes from believing the gospel (cf. Rom. 1:16; 1 Cor. 15:2-3), and that the gospel basics—involving the death and resurrection of His Son—must be accepted according to the Scriptures (1 Cor. 15:2-4). This means that those who would be saved through repentance and belief in the gospel (Mark 1:15) must understand that gospel as the Bible has described it: a gospel borne out of sacrifice by One Man to save the many through His satisfaction of His Father's just wrath against sin (Isa. 53:4-12; 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 John 2:2; 4:10). By bearing the punishment of those who would ever believe, the Son has forever redeemed them from the penalty their sin deserved.Because faith in this reality is what permanently severs our link with the vulnerable soul, we must obscure with full exertion the truth spelled out above. Jesus' death must be presented in nebulous terms, as the ultimate example of self-sacrifice, or as some vague and complicated form of victory over evil. Once sinners realize every sin must be punished by death, either through their own suffering for eternity or by Christ upon the cross, then the floodgates to salvation will be plain for all to see and our cause will be doomed. Fortunately, our Ruler's rebranding of the gospel around "social justice" has been a most propitious development, as it reverses the sinner's orientation from abject petitioner for mercy from God into entitled protester for recompense from man. A large swath of professing believers is now so centered on earthly indemnification that they have complete ignorance of, and (even better) disinterest in, spiritual rebirth. May such a damning perspective checkmate indefinitely the Enemy's desire to bring sons and daughters to His glory (cf. Heb. 2:10).There you have it, dear Nephew. Use this letter to redouble your efforts in perpetuating falsehood via the development of respectable crypts. Through denial of the sinner's default condition as spiritually dead, reversal of the manner of spiritual regeneration, and repudiation of the need for spiritual substitution, you will become a master craftsman in your bid to transform today's spiritual teachers in "whitewashed tombs."Your affectionate uncle,ScrewtapeDr. Colin L. EakinPyroManiacDr. Eakin is a sports medicine orthopædic surgeon in the Bay Area and part time teacher at Grace Bible Fellowship Church's Stanford campus ministry. He is the author of God's Glorious Story.
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