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Dr. Rick Shrader is the editor of Aletheia a monthly publication which helps meet the need for a balanced conservative voice among Baptists.
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Catholic Inquisition and The Torture Tools Most people have some knowledge of the holocaust. The 6 years of torture and atrocities that the Jews suffered under Hitler and the Nazis during the Second World War. While in no way downplaying the terrible events of the holocaust, such a massacre does
BUT FOR THE BLOOD by David Koster The blood of the Lord Jesus Christ is the most precious thing known to mankind. It is sinless. It is Holy. It alone has the power to wash away sin. Many pastors in America no longer preach sermons about blood atonement of Jesus Christ. David Koster, a
Jack Hyles - The Peace That The World Gives (Preached in 1975) (Pt. 4 of 4) Jack Frasure Hyles (September 25, 1926 -- February 6, 2001) was a leading figure in the Independent Baptist movement, having pastored the First Baptist Church of Hammond in Hammond, Indiana, from 1959 until his death. He was also well-known for being
Jack Hyles - The Peace That The World Gives (Preached in 1975) (Pt. 1 of 4) Jack Frasure Hyles (September 25, 1926 -- February 6, 2001) was a leading figure in the Independent Baptist movement, having pastored the First Baptist Church of Hammond in Hammond, Indiana, from 1959 until his death. He was also well-known for being
Jack Hyles - The Peace That The World Gives (Preached in 1975) (Pt. 2 of 4) Jack Frasure Hyles (September 25, 1926 -- February 6, 2001) was a leading figure in the Independent Baptist movement, having pastored the First Baptist Church of Hammond in Hammond, Indiana, from 1959 until his death. He was also well-known for being
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Followers of Islam admire the mother of Jesus. But can she be a bridge to Christianity?Mohammed, a pious PhD student from Egypt, sat guardedly in the “Community of Reconciliation.” Invited by David Vidmar, director of coaching for Peace Catalysts International, the middle-aged Muslim seemed soured on the idea of interfaith exchange at his northern California university.Vidmar suspected Mohammed came to the jointly led Muslim-Christian dinners because he felt obligated to do da’wah, the Arabic word for spreading Islam. But over a shared meal and discussion about Mary, the Egyptian’s attitude shifted. “The deeper we got into the life of Mary and how Christians understand the virgin birth of Jesus, he became very enthused,” Vidmar said. “There are so many misunderstandings . . . it was wonderful to observe him see the similarities and be able to relax.”Peace Catalysts is a Jesus-centered peacemaking effort, focused primarily on Christians and Muslims. Vidmar and his family worked for eight years with Uighurs in Kazakhstan and still wish Muslims would experience the love and forgiveness God reveals through Jesus. But now he works to help both sides experience heart transformation through deep and genuine friendship—and Mary proved a fruitful bridge.“Since so many Muslims use the term ‘Jesus, Son of Mary,’ it would be helpful for evangelicals to think more deeply about this,” Vidmar said. “Muslims often excitedly tell me their favorite chapter in the Qur’an is Maryam, and women especially express appreciation for it.”Mary is mentioned 34 times in the Qur’an—more than in the New Testament—and its only named woman. Islam upholds the virgin birth, the annunciation by Gabriel, and—mirroring the Ave ...Continue reading...
Two horrifying mass shootings over the weekend in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio shocked the nation and renewed an ongoing discussion about domestic terrorism, mental health, violent video games, and gun control. While details are still emerging about what motivated the Dayton shooter, a manifesto posted online by the El Paso shooter lists a litany of grievances and conspiratorial ideas underlined by white supremacist ideology.Addressing the attacks in a speech to the nation on Monday, President Trump directly repudiated white supremacist ideology which has been linked to other domestic terrorist attacks around the world including Quebec (2017), Charlottesville (2017), Pittsburgh (2018), and Christchurch, New Zealand (2019).The president explained, “In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry, and white supremacy. These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America. Hatred warps the mind, ravages the heart, and devours the soul.”In the wake of such tragedy, many are asking why mass shootings keep happening in America. Since Sunday, political leaders, pundits, and commentators have taken turns focusing on video games, congressional inaction, political rhetoric, the deinstitutionalization of mental health, gun laws, and the breakdown of the family.While some of these factors may help create a toxic environment, none of them explain why mass shootings and other violent attacks occur. This is because these explanations overlook the underlying spiritual reality of human sin.Objective Hatred Is at the Root of Ethnic AnimusIntuitively, something is clearly not right in the world; the reality of evil is evident and confronts us daily. In fact, evil is so pervasive that it is tempting to despair and become numb to the pain around us. However, the Bible explains that the intractable evil in society and our own disordered desires and corrupt wills are the result of the fall and humanity’s rebellion against God (Gen. 3). Sin separates us from God and each other.Jesus warned about the evil that would spring from within us and be directed at fellow human beings: “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander” (Matt. 15:19). He warns even against anger with one another: “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment” (Matt. 5:21-22).Tragically, one of the manifestations of sin is hatred directed toward others based on our perception that they are from a different ethnic background from us. Referring to the El Paso shooting, Albert Mohler made the connection between the human heart and this type of animus, explaining, “Hatred has an object, in this case, a human object. It appears that Hispanic immigrants were at the center of that young man’s hatred.”The Christian worldview speaks directly to the issue of the walls our sinful hearts might erect based on skin color and ethnicity. The Bible teaches that everyone is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Additionally, the gospel is for all people; Christ died for everyone, and in him believers from every tongue, nation, and tribe are reconciled to God and each other in “one new man” (Eph. 2:14-16). In terms of access to God, the Bible is clear: distinctions based on background and ethnicity are abolished in the new covenant (Gal. 3:28-29, Col. 3:11). In heaven, people from “every nation, from all tribes and peoples and language” will praise God (Rev. 7:9). Consequently, any ideology that re-erects distinctions based on ethnicity are sinful, and most be strongly repudiated by the church.The president is right to point out that this type of hatred “warps the mind, ravages the heart, and devours the soul.” Christians, who worship Jesus, a Middle Eastern Jewish man, must be clear that white supremacy—the absurd belief that those of European descent with lighter skin pigment are superior to others—is antithetical to the gospel and has absolutely no place in the church.Social Isolation Dehumanizes UsAnother aspect of this story is the epidemic of young, white men who are increasingly disenchanted with society. This is clearly seen in the shooter’s manifesto where he reportedly talks of his fears that his dream job will be “automated” and that ethnic groups other than his own “will take control” of the government “to better suit their needs.”The Wall Street Journal’s Editorial Board noted this disturbing trend of young men who feel left out of society. They write, “This is the rant of someone angry about a society he doesn’t feel a part of and doesn’t comprehend. It is all-too-typical of most of these young male killers who tend to be loners and marinate in notions they absorb in the hours they spend online. They are usually disconnected to family, neighborhood, church, colleagues at work, or anything apart from their online universe.”This disenchantment with society, fueled by a lack of meaningful community, corrodes our ability to see dignity in other people. When we fail to appreciate the value of human life, it becomes easier to engage in dehumanizing behavior. Thus, at a time when the mediating institutions that formerly provided cultural and social cohesion are in fast decline, it is imperative for Christians to cultivate a culture in their churches that prioritizes relationships with those on the social periphery who feel alone, threatened, and upset.Welcoming All into the Family of GodAlong these lines, Andrew Walker issued a challenge to Christians:The local church must be a place where a culture of love for God’s authority, God’s creation of humanity, God’s plan for an individual’s industry, and God’s design for the family are heralded without embarrassment. The church must be a place that speaks to the patterns of American culture that are failing people. This means that the church must be a place that is less concerned with bourgeoisie sermons about coaching Americans into a happier American dream and more concerned with pulling a culture back from the cliffs of despair.Ultimately, human sin explains why mass shootings and other tragedies continue to occur in America and around the world. Moreover, human sin is responsible for the larger spiritual crisis that threatens to destroy unity in our nation and churches along ethnic, economic, and religious divides. In these defining moments, Christians must weep with those who weep and point to the hope of the gospel. Wicked acts of violence like the mass shootings over the weekend are the effect of a deep pathology that’s only cured by a relationship with Christ and inclusion in the family of God.
The Importance of Sunday School in the Local Church The goal of Sunday school is to accomplish one of the greatest needs in the 21st century– to provide Biblical education to individuals in a particular life stage.Sunday school, like many things in the church, is a tool, not a goal. It is a tool that God has used in amazing ways. It is a tool to systematically, comprehensively, and appropriately teach the Bible to a particular life stage. Sunday school exists to transform lives through effectively teaching God's Word.Sunday school lessons usually provide a format for discussion and interaction, while following a set curriculum that covers the Bible and applies it to a particular life stage, then cycles around every few years.If the only teaching your congregation receives in the course of the week is a forty-five minute sermon, they're not learning as much as they could. There is so much more that you could be teaching them, and Sunday school provides that opportunity.Sunday school should focus on providing age-appropriate instruction. It is a venue to teach biblical world views in everything from dating to evangelism, from knowing God's will to interacting with parents and coworkers, all while allowing time for questions and answers. It should provide Biblical education to a particular group of people at a particular life stage.One Bible college professor was asked by a college student what someone should do in order to become a theologian. He replied, “That's easy. Teach a third-grade Sunday school class.” Sunday school makes it possible to get age-appropriate biblical teaching into the life of the church.Sunday school is a valuable tool for discipling believers. It complements and supplements the sermon, gives age-appropriate knowledge needed for godly living. Accountability, fellowship, community, and mission—these things are all very important, but what gives them their power is the Word of God. Sunday school provides the biblical education necessary for discipleship.
This year’s Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom hosted by the U.S. State Department last week saw over 1,000 civil society and political leaders from around the world gather in Washington D.C. for a three-day summit to discuss religious freedom issues and solutions.The ministerial itself is encouraging. That leaders and advocates of all faiths from all corners of the world can unite on the common goal of promoting religious freedom and protecting religious minorities is a step in the right direction. However, the stories of survivors of religious persecution featured at the ministerial serve to remind us of the work that still needs to be done.Just last week, Pew Research Center released a new report which tracks government restrictions and social hostility to religion around the world over a 10-year period between 2007 and 2017. According to the report, “83 countries (42%) experienced high or very high levels of overall restrictions on religion from government actions or hostile acts by private individuals, organizations and social groups” in 2017. The enormity of this issue demonstrates the need for action both from U.S. and foreign leaders.Thankfully, several good initiatives were announced during the ministerial. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the creation of a new International Religious Freedom Alliance. This alliance will provide a way for like-minded countries to work together to advance religious freedom, circumventing international bodies like the U.N., which often gives countries with appalling human rights violations a seat at the table.Last year’s ministerial—the first event of its kind—inspired other countries to hold their own religious conferences. Albania, Colombia, and Morocco are planning to hold regional religious freedom conferences soon. This October, the State Department will partner with the Vatican to co-host a summit highlighting “the importance of working with faith-based organizations to support and protect religious freedom.”The new alliance and these subsequent regional conferences show the long-term impact of the ministerial.Yet, the U.S. can do more to advance religious freedom across the globe.The discussions on religious persecution featured at the ministerial must be integral to United States foreign policy and trade negotiations. Rather than an afterthought, a country’s treatment of their religious minorities should be the litmus test for whether the United States continues economic and military ties with them.News broke last week that the Trump administration imposed economic sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act against four high-profile Iraqis guilty of human rights abuses. The Global Magnitsky Act is a great tool the U.S. can use to expose the human rights/religious freedom abuses of individuals—because these sanctions are targeted, they often come without the political and diplomatic risks associated with placing sanctions on an entire country.The Global Magnitsky Act has already been proven effective. In 2018, the Trump administration relied on Executive Order 13818 (which builds on Global Magnitsky Act authority) to sanction two Turkish officials over the detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson due to his Christian faith. Less than three months later, Pastor Brunson was released. This was an important victory that demonstrated the power of the tools already at our disposal.Countries care how they are perceived on the world stage. Recent heated responses from world leaders following unfavorable assessments in the State Department’s latest Report on International Religious Freedom demonstrate that much. Events like the ministerial further emphasize the importance of being seen as a country that protects religious freedom on the world stage.For leaders of countries that live in the shadow of a regional power-house that fails to respect religious freedom such as China, it can take courage to travel to the U.S. to discuss religious liberty. In his address at the ministerial, Pompeo noted this, saying, “If you’re here today and you’re a country which has defied the Chinese pressure to come here, we salute you and we thank you. And if you have declined to attend for the same reason, we took note.” This type of pressure from U.S. leaders can be impactful in diplomacy, and the U.S. should make these public statements more often. Overall, the ministerial highlights several ways in which the United States and the international community can forward the cause of religious freedom. The ministerial was a great start, but it should only be the beginning. Arielle Del Turco is the Research Assistant for Family Research Council’s Center for Religious Liberty. Luke Isbell is an intern at FRC.
The study looks at delineations and definitions of יוֹם in Scripture, and in lexical and other sources.
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