Is It A Sin To Worry?

Is it a sin to worry? Before we answer that question, we must ask ourselves another question. Is pride a sin? Most of us would answer in the affirmative. 1 Peter 5:6-7 says, 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.

The first thing we see in these verses is that we are to humble ourselves under the sovereign control of God. Throughout the Old Testament “the mighty hand of God” was synonymous for the sovereign power of God. However, God’s supreme sovereignty is hard for us as humans to swallow. Even believers struggle with true humility and total surrender to the sovereignty of God. We may say we believe God is sovereign, but we live as if we were in control.

“Most Christians salute the sovereignty of God but believe in the sovereignty of man.”                       -R.C. Sproul

Next, we see is that the way we humble ourselves under God’s authority is by not worrying. Therefore, to worry is a sin because to worry is to be proud, which is the opposite of being humble. Did you ever stop to think that the reason we worry is because we are struggling to control a problem or a situation in our lives? Worry is an outward manifestation that we are feeling overwhelmed in our efforts to control things. We must understand that we are not in control, and it is prideful to think we are.

“Worry is a form of pride because when believers are filled with anxiety, they are convinced that they must solve all the problems in their lives in their own strength. The only god they trust in is themselves. When believers throw their worries upon God, they express their trust in his mighty hand.” – Tom Schreiner

God is sovereign and He cares about you. There are no greater, more powerful, more comforting, more hopeful, more encouraging words in the entirety of the universe, than these words. These two simple phrases constitute the bedrock foundation upon which our entire faith rests. We can rest in the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:25-33, “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, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

We can rest in the promise that everything that happens in our lives is part of God’s plan (Romans 8:28).

That which should distinguish the suffering of believers from unbelievers is the confidence that our suffering is under the control of an all-powerful and all-loving God. Our suffering has meaning and purpose in God’s eternal plan, and He brings or allows to come into our lives only that which is for His glory and our good.                    – Jerry Bridges

We may not understand at the time why things are happening the way they are, but we can do nothing to change our situation by worrying. Instead, let us repent of sin of worry, and put our lives into the capable hands of our loving father, trusting Him in all things (Philippians 4:6). He is sovereign and He cares for you!

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What Should Christians Do About Trump?

 

TrunpBe sure to read the added postscript at the bottom of this article.

There is little doubt that Donald Trump has caused quite a stir among political enthusiasts and non enthusiasts alike. He has captured the hearts of a majority of people across the nation who are tired of politics as usual. Among those who appear to be enthralled by his campaign promises are many professing Evangelical Christians. Early vote tallies provided by the Nevada Republican Party showed that 41 percent of Caucus attendees, identifying as born-again evangelicals, voted for Trump. In addition to this, Jerry Falwell Jr., a well known name among evangelicals, gave Trump a glowing endorsement and even defended his christian status on a cable news channel.

Simply looking at the evidence, there are plenty of reasons to question wether or not Donald Trump has been genuinely regenerated by the Spirit of God. It is not, however, the purpose of this article to determine whether or not Trump is a genuine follower of Christ. Nor is it the intent of this article to encourage Christians to support Trump, or any other candidate. Rather, the purpose of this article is to ask the question…“What should a Christian do if Donald Trump wins the GOP nomination and becomes the Republican presidential candidate?”

“What should a Christian do if Donald Trump wins the GOP nomination and becomes the Republican presidential candidate?”

One response to this scenario, and one that many Christians are already suggesting, is to refuse to vote altogether. One day, this may be the only response true, Bible believing Christians have during an election. I believe the political system in America will become so corrupt and morally bankrupt that Christians can no longer, in good conscience, cast a vote for any candidate. As post-modern America continues down the path of “tolerance” and “no-absolutes”, it will become unheard of to have a single candidate, on either side, who has a pro-life stance, or believes that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. However, we are not there yet.

If (and I emphasize IF) Donald Trump becomes the Republican candidate in the 2016 Presidential election, I could, as a believer and in good conscience, vote for him, and here are three reasons why.

Trump is pro-traditional marriage. When asked by cable talk show hosts Trump has repeatedly stated that he holds a traditional view of marriage. Clinton and Sanders, on the other hand, not only support same-sex marriage, but aggressively promote it.

Trump is pro-life. Yes, he used to be pro choice, but so was Ronald Regan before changing his mind. In a recent town hall meeting in Nevada, Trump said that he would de-fund Planned Parenthood if they continued to perform abortions. Clinton and Sanders however, are not only pro-choice, but aggressively defend abortion as a vital part of women’s healthcare.

Trump would appoint conservative Justices. We must not forget that over the next several years at least three supreme court justices will be appointed to the highest court in the land. Donald Trump and the Republican platform are more likely to appointed conservative justices that would uphold the constitutional rights for all men and women, including those still in their mother’s womb.  The opposite would be true for Hillary Clinton, who has stated “The unborn person doesn’t have constitutional rights.”

I know many point out the immoral shortcomings of Donald Trump and say, “I would never vote for such a wretched sinner as Trump!” However, we must remember that every leader who has ever been elected to public office in the history of the whole wide world has been a wretched sinner. Yet, the sovereign God of the universe has chosen, at times, to use wicked men to achieve his purposes throughout history.

In my opinion, by not voting for the candidate who claims to support two foundational morals of evangelical Christianity, we are assisting the candidate who openly opposes those morals, get elected.

At the end of the day we must remember that Politics and Government were never intended to be our Savior. Therefore, let us cast a simple vote for the one candidate that best represents the morals that God has given to protect a society, and then, let us get back to the more important business of proclaiming the glorious gospel of Christ!

[POSTSCRIPT: October 13, 2016] Much has happened over the past several months that has caused me to exercise great caution in regards to considering a vote for Mr. Trump. Although I am an avid supporter of life, I find it difficult to endorse a man who repeatedly tramples the values of the Christian faith. I understand why some Christians will vote for Donald Trump. I also understand why many can’t. Therefore, let us be gracious to one another and Kingdom focused, for the glory of God.

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Who Decided Which Books Should Be In The Bible?

bibleThe Bible is not a single book, but is comprised of 66 different books. Why is that? Why are there not 67 or 65? After all, there were many other books such as the Epistle of Barnabas, and the Shepherd of Hermas, that did not make it into the Bible. Who decided which books were included? Ultimately, the answer is God. We believe that God not only inspired human authors to write down what He wanted them to write, but that he also preserved those writings for us today. Therefore, when a christian holds the bible in their hands they can say, with confidence, “I am holding God’s very words”.

when a christian holds the bible in their hands they can say, with confidence, “I am holding God’s very words”.

As centuries past, many epistles were written and it became necessary to determine which ones were inspired and which ones weren’t. Some letters and books were filled with false teachings about Jesus. Others were beneficial and provided accurate historic information, but were not considered to be inspired. So, how did the Bible come together to form the 66 books we know today?

The Old Testament

Let’s start with the 39 books of the Old Testament. Moses commanded that the books of the Law be placed in the Ark of the Covenant. This included Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. As time went by, the historical and prophetic books from Joshua to David’s time were placed in the Temple. After the days of Solomon, the books of Jonah, Amos, Isaiah, Hosea, Joel, Micah, Nahum, Zephaniah, Jeremiah, Obadiah, and Habakkuk were added to the sacred collection. About fifty years later, after the rebuilding of the temple, the writings of Nehemiah, Malachi, and Ezra were added. The final collection of books were added and the canon of the old testament was sealed by Ezra, Nehemiah, and 120 other scribes at the “Great Synagogue” about 200 years before the birth of Christ. Therefore, there is little doubt among scholars that the Old Testament is valid and authentic.

The New Testament

What about the New Testament? After the resurrection, and the church began to grow, the need arose to have a written account of the teachings of Jesus and his redemptive work. Therefore, some of the apostles, along with Mark and Luke, wrote down the events that they had seen unfold. These are known as The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. In addition to this, the apostles began to write letters to the young churches they had established to further instruct them and deal with issues that had arisen within the churches. These epistles were then circulated among all the churches. There is evidence that the early church accepted the 27 books we now acknowledge as the New Testament as early as 200 A.D.

Conclusion

Jesus and the apostles accepted the 39 books of the Old Testament as being inspired. And, by 200 A.D., the early church had accepted the 27 books of the New Testament to be the inspired Word of God. Therefore, it is important to note that the council of Carthage in 387A.D. did not decide which books should be included in the Canon of scripture, but rather simply affirmed, once and for all, the books that the early church had already recognized as inspired, nearly 200 years earlier.

For more information on the Canon of scripture, visit the following links.

http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/why-you-can-rely-on-the-canon

http://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/justintaylor/2013/07/22/10-basic-facts-about-the-nt-canon-that-every-christian-should-memorize/

 

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Can Same Sex Couples Join Churches?

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According to an article written by Jonathan Merrit, a senior columnist for Religion News Service, a gay couple was barred from leading worship at Hillsong Church in New York City.Josh Canfield and Reed Kelly, billed as the Broadway Boyfriends on the reality show “Survivor: San Juan del Sur — Blood vs. Water,” were involved in worship leadership roles at Hillsong Church NYC. After the couple was engaged at their Jan. 28 concert, From Broadway to Survivor, Hillsong Pastor Carl Lentz asked the couple to step down from leading. However, the couple was welcome to remain at Hillsong and continue singing on stage each week, just not in an official leadership capacity. Though Hillsong holds a traditional view of marriage, they also wish for gay couples to feel welcome. Pastor Carl Lentz stated, “We have a lot of gay men and women in our church and I pray we always do.”

My struggle with this situation is not the idea of loving homosexuals and welcoming them when they attend our church. All people are broken, and in need of the grace that only the gospel can provide. However, I take issue with the idea that you can accept gay couples into the membership of a church, condone or even embrace their sinful lifestyle, and go on as though nothing is out of order.

Before you accuse me of hating, please understand that I do not believe homosexuality is the only sin in the Bible and I am certainly not on a gay bashing mission. As I have already stated, we should be welcoming and loving to all who walk through our doors on any given Sunday. However, there is a difference between walking into a church and joining a church. For those who do not take church membership seriously, you may want to quit reading this article now. But, for those who do take church membership seriously, we must answer a very important question–is homosexuality a sin? I know that some will say, “Jesus never said anything about homosexuality”.
Yet, Jesus didn’t have to because He said everything we needed to hear about sex and marriage, thereby establishing the once for all standard to measure all sexual relationships as being either right or wrong, as recorded in Matthew 19:3-6;

And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

In this passage, Jesus not only defines what marriage is, he also reaffirms the gender differences and establishes, without question, that sex and marriage is between a man and a women. These words spoken by Jesus are the final verdict on the question of sexuality and marriage–Period. Therefore, any sexual relationship outside the confines of the standard given by Jesus is sin–Period.

We lovingly point all sinners to the cross that they may see the Holiness of God and the sinfulness of man. As the Spirit breaks open their hearts, they are broken about their sin and repent and rest in the work of Christ. This is the result of regeneration. As regenerated believers join the church they are no longer the same person they once were. They have been changed, made alive, by the transforming power of the gospel. This is what Paul was talking about in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 when he said:

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.

The glory of the gospel is that it changes us. No – we are not perfect, and yes, we will still struggle with our sinful desires. However, we will no longer embrace them or condone them, but rather we will confess them and strive to forsake them for the sake of the gospel.

The point of this article is not to lift up homosexuals as the greatest of all sinners. We are all great sinners. Rather, it is to remind us that the local church is a place for all sinners, transformed by the power of the gospel, to gather together, not for the purpose of condoning and accepting the sinful behavior of each other, but to confront and condemn the sin in each others lives so that we may be conformed into the image of Christ. The rise of homosexuality being championed in many churches today, begs the question; Do we believe the Bible is the source of moral truth? If so, then we are obligated to submit to it as the final authority concerning all matters of sin in our lives. Those who call themselves ‘Christians’ and join a church body, should be willing to be judged by the standard of God’s Word as Paul points out in 1 Corinthians 5:9-13.

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside.

The searching question for church leaders today is, are we willing to follow the principles of the New Testament church in a post-modern world?

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Is It Ever Okay To Lie?

The author of an article published in Time magazine made a very valid point concerning the ninth commandment when he said, “The injunction against bearing false witness, branded in stone and brought down by Moses from the mountaintop, has always provoked conflicting emotions. On the one hand, nearly everybody condemns lying. On the other, nearly everyone does it every day.”

Most people would say lying is wrong unless, of course, they are the ones telling the lie. However, is it ever right to tell a lie? Someone might say, “Of course it is, if it spares someones feelings.” What about when your wife asks, “Does this dress make me look fat?” Should you tell the truth in love, or bend the truth a little in order to avoid hurting her feelings? What about the age old argument of hiding Jews from the Nazis in Germany during WWII? The soldiers come to the door and demand to know if there are Jews in the house. The owner of the house says, “No sir, there is nobody here but us.” Some would contend that by lying the owner of the house achieved a higher moral purpose; saving the lives of their neighbors.

Many attempt to support this idea from passages like Exodus 1:15-21.
15Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, 16 “When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live.” 17 But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live. 18 So the king of Egypt called the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this, and let the male children live?” 19 The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.” 20 So God dealt well with the midwives. And the people multiplied and grew very strong. 21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families.

It appears that God blessed the Hebrew Midwives because they lied. However, does God’s morality change depending on the circumstances? Proverbs 12:22 says, “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord..” If this is true, then how can there ever be a situation in which lying lips are pleasing to the Lord?

One way to understand the story in Exodus is to remember that God accomplishes His plan in spite of our sin, not because of it. Just because the Bible records the unrighteous acts of people, doesn’t mean it condones those actions. The wonderful truth is that God uses fallen, sinful people to accomplish His will in the world.

“God accomplishes His plan in spite of our sin, not because of it.”

Even though we should not lie, that doesn’t mean we have to say everything we are thinking. There is a time to be prudent, wise, discerning, and silent. However, when the time comes for us to speak up, let us strive to be truthful, for the glory of God.

The Gospel Doesn’t Meet Every Need

 

The Gospel Doesn't Meet Every Need.

We have been indoctrinated with the idea that if a person just believes the gospel, all their needs will be met. This began innocently enough back in the 80’s and 90’s when well intentioned authors began writing books designed to help churches reach more people. The idea was simple enough. If we could survey people and determine their “felt needs”, we could re-package the gospel and market it as a “cure all” for their problems. An example of this is found in the following quote taken from the book, Inside the mind of unchurched Harry and Mary. “What Harry is interested in is feeling better about himself. He is asking, “What can help me deal with my pain”. He is interested in “his marriage, his friendships, his career, his recovery from past hurts, and so on” Harry is not interested in truth, therefore, he does not react well to “Thus sayeth the Lord.”

If the gospel is reduced to something that can meet a persons “felt needs”, then it becomes just one of many products a person can consume in order to make themselves feel better. But what happens when they find something else that makes them feel better, like a new girlfriend, or better job? Or, worse yet, what happens when they take the gospel “medicine”, and the pain and suffering of life collapse down on them? They no longer “feel” better? Their “felt needs” are not being met? They will abandon the phony gospel they were sold, and go in search of the next “cure all”.

The gospel is not meant to meet a persons “felt needs”, but rather, to meet a persons real need, which is to be reconciled with a holy God. The gospel message is intended to show a person they are a sinner, condemned by Holy God. Quit frankly, the gospel is designed to make a person uncomfortable with themselves, rather than feel good about themselves. Only when a person sees the hopelessness of their condition, can they gaze upon the glory of the cross and see it for what it really is. In the name of “reaching” more people, we have become nothing more than ear scratchers. (2 Timothy 4:2-4) In an article from The New Yorker magazine, we catch a glimpse of modern day preaching. “The preacher, instead of looking out upon the world, looks out upon public opinion, trying to find out what the public would like to hear. Then he tries his best to duplicate that.”

We must boldly proclaim the gospel, once for all delivered to the saints, and trust the Holy Spirit to make it effectual in the hearts of those who hear it. May the words of A.W. Tozer inspire us. “…the cross of popular evangelicalism is not the cross of the New Testament. It is, rather, a new bright ornament upon the bosom of a self-assured and carnal Christianity whose hands are indeed the hands of Abel, but whose voice is the voice of Cain. The old cross slew men; the new cross entertains them. The old cross condemned; the new cross amuses. The old cross destroyed confidence in the flesh; the new cross encourages it. The old cross brought tears and blood; the new cross brings laughter. The flesh, smiling and confident, preaches and sings about the cross; before the cross it bows and toward the cross it points with carefully staged histrionics—but upon that cross it will not die, and the reproach of that cross it stubbornly refuses to bear.”