Saturday, November 22, 2014

On being hospitable; Part 2

Yesterday I excerpted Jen Wilkin's essay on the difference between entertaining and being hospitable.Today I have a more personal take on being hospitable.

I envy people who can easily converse in a crowd. The art of conversation is one that, I believe, is a dying art.

Once we had a friend Mike, we called him Mikey. He was a huge man, 350 pounds, built like an aging football player, with an easy laugh. He lived next door and often, he would stop at our house on his way home. When we heard his truck we knew we were in for a few laughs and a good story. He was a true raconteur, regaling us loudly and always had us laughing in two minutes flat. Mikey was the kind of friend you were always glad to see coming. We were glad we were the kind of friends he felt comfortable stopping in to see.

Public Domain

Other people can converse on a more quiet and less showy way. My gal friend had a husky laugh and her eyes sparkled in delight when we talked. She didn’t say much, but her words were always insightful and full of love. Her style of conversation was more of the listening kind. She would listen with full attention, too. I’d storm in, say, “Guess what happened?!” and she would stop what she was doing, fold her hands across her Buddha belly, and look me full in the eye. She would laugh at all the right spots, and was entertained by the smallest incident. Often, she would add an insightful comment that left me pondering a new thought for the rest of the day.

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
(1 Thessalonians 5:11).
I think that the dubiously named skill of “multi-tasking” has had a negative effect on conversation. Have you noticed that people do a lot of things while they say they are listening to you? Cell phone message checking, taking notes, shuffling papers, glancing at the computer. I am a bad offender of that as well. I need to do better at my listening, I admit. What if we all stopped doing other things and really listened to each other? Gatherings at home would be more hospitable. Please turn your cell phone off.

Italians’ style of conversation is steeped in storytelling. We call it ‘l’historia.” Even the simplest query from a friend, the smallest question designed for a short answer of “fine”, to the Italian, is met with excitement. Immediately we launch into a long, lyrical story that has a beginning, middle, end, and ranges from laughter to tears and back again. Watch out if you ask me how I’m doing! You are likely to get a long, and to me, absolutely fascinating story.

Remember the movie Moonstruck with Cher? A Brooklyn Italian-American family and their trials and triumphs? The brother-in-law character was named Raymond Cappomaggi and it was he who saw the large moon years before. Around the dinner table he was urged to repeat the legendary incident, with the family exhorting, ‘Come on, Ray, tell about Cosmo’s moon!” he responded apologetically, “Well, it’s not a story…but…”

Moonstruck

I knew exactly what he meant. It’s almost genetically impossible for me converse without having a fully born story in my mind, accompanied by hand gestures that usually knock over the salt shaker.

Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:25)

There are many different styles of conversation, and the one I like best I had the good fortune to experience one long ago Thanksgiving. As a person with no family nearby I was invited to spend the day at a friends’ house. There were ten of us there, their family members and me. Even though I was meeting some of them for the first time, they included me in conversation that was flowing, relaxed, and easy. I was really touched by their hospitality. Ultimately, the best conversation style is not verbal, it’s one of the heart, one that includes, listens, and loves. I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and can be hospitable by being a good listener and a lover of people.

Public Domain

That is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine. (Romans 1:12)

Scripture photo: House on sand


EPrata photo. Lomo camera



Friday, November 21, 2014

Jen Wilkin explains the difference between entertaining and being hospitable

Part 2 here...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
Jen Wilkin wrote a great essay about the difference between entertaining and being hospitable. Please, PLEASE read it.

We are called to be hospitable. It is a biblical command.
  • Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. (Hebrews 13:2)
  • Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. (1 Peter 4:9)
  • Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. (Romans 12:13)
  • But hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. (Titus 1:8)
  • And having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work. (1 Timothy 5:10)
  • Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? (Isaiah 58:7)
  • Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, (1 Timothy 3:2)
  • And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, (Acts 2:46)
The Graphics Fairy
Did you know there were so many references to being hospitable? There are still others, about serving, and lodging with one another and in the OT about not suppressing the sojourner. Being hospitable is important.

I knew a woman who was the most hospitable person I'd ever met. Neither one of us was saved. I am now and she still isn't so we're not talking biblical standards here, but still, her loving kindness is ever an example to me. Her house was open to one and all. Jen Wilkin wrote,

Orderly house or not, hospitality throws wide the doors. It offers itself, expecting nothing in return. It keeps no record of its service, counts no cost, craves no thanks. It is nothing less than the joyous, habitual offering of those who recall a gracious table set before them in the presence of their enemies, of those who look forward to a glorious table yet to come. It is a means by which we imitate our infinitely hospitable God.
That was her. The piles of clutter tottered high and were thrown to this corner and that when more people piled in. The table was moved out from the wall, then moved again with a leaf added when more people stopped over. The larder was often bare-bones but the beans and bread was just as tasty as if it had been lobster and caviar. The tea kettle whistled when someone needed sympathy, guitars were broken out when we were joyful and wanted to sing, kids were always included, and there was always laughter. It was convivial and sweet there, always.

No one minded the towels on the bathroom floor, the crumbs on the table or the dishes in the sink. What I remember is the laughter, friendliness, warmth. It was a bright and safe place to berth when seeking refuge in a cold-cruel world.

Jen Wilkin again,
Hospitality involves setting a table that makes everyone feel comfortable. It chooses a menu that allows face time with guests instead of being chained to the cooktop. It picks up the house to make things pleasant but doesn’t feel the need to conceal evidences of everyday life. It sometimes sits down to dinner with flour in its hair. It allows the gathering to be shaped by the quality of the conversation rather than the cuisine. Hospitality shows interest in the thoughts, feelings, pursuits and preferences of its guests. It is good at asking questions and listening intently to answers. Hospitality focuses attention on others.

Pixabay free pics
And there is the Christ-likeness, service in humility and love. I can't wait for the day when I can be
perfectly hospitable in heaven, when others may come to my room Jesus had prepared for me and I can host them in the name of Jesus in perfect love.

Until that time, I'm not perfect, but as the hospitable season approaches I hope I can display the same loving openness that my friend did. Even more, I'm thankful for the example of generations of warm and loving Christians who have done for my ancestors in the faith. Peter stayed many days in Joppa with Simon the Tanner (nearly three years). (Acts 9:43). Saul/Paul stated with Judas in Damascus on Straight Street. (Acts 9:11). Lydia urged Paul and ensemble to stay at her house,

And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us. (Acts 16:15).

"her [Lydia's] faith soon worked by love; and by the fruits of righteousness which followed upon it" (Gill's Exposition).

Part 2 here...

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Billy Graham: a wolf who offers only dreams of meat to those who are starving

On the occasion of Billy Graham's 96th birthday on November 7, Orthodox bishop Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev of the Russian Orthodox church was ushered in to Billy Graham's living room at his home in North Carolina in order to offer the elder man well-wishes.
The Press Republican stated of the photo-op,
"The photo-op on Nov. 7 was symbolic and, for many, historic. The elder statesman was the Rev. Billy Graham, and rather than an evangelical superstar, the man who met with him at his North Carolina mountain home was Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev. This visit was linked to a Hilarion address to a Charlotte gathering of Protestant and Orthodox leaders, organized by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. (BGEA)
The Russian Orthodox Church is not a true church because it adheres to orthodoxy that is false. They were a schism church formed after splitting from Roman Catholicism. The Orthodox group of churches (Greek, Russian, etc.) do not believe in justification by faith. They believe in part:
  • The equal authority of church tradition and Scripture
  • Discouragement of individuals interpreting the Bible apart from tradition
  • The perpetual virginity of Mary
  • Prayer for the dead
  • Baptism of infants without reference to individual responsibility and faith
  • The possibility of receiving salvation after death
  • The possibility of losing salvation

Therefore it is unfortunate to read that the BGEA organized a conference this month and invited a mix of men who preach a different Gospel with Protestant leaders, for what has darkness to do with light, For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? (2 Corinthians 6:14)

From Twitter. Met. Hilarion Alfeyev visiting Billy Graham on his 96th birthday.

Though Billy Graham has for decades made public statements confirming his place in the pantheon of destructive wolves, there are many today who still don't believe that such a man could be a false Christian. To that end, here are some quotes from Billy Graham, from newspaper media, books, and transcripts from interviews, which show clearly that such a man is not of the faith. Graham said these things throughout his life, not simply in his advanced years. Some claim he was 'confused', but no such claim can be made of a man who has made assertions contrary to the bible in each decade of his life. Some of these things he said as far back as 1948, at the beginning of his television crusade career.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

On Evolution:
Graham: I personally believe that it’s just as easy to believe that God took some dust and blew on it and out came a man as it is to accept the fact that God breathed on a man and he became a living soul and it started with some protoplasm and went right up through the evolutionary process. Either way is by faith, and whichever way God did it makes no difference as to what man is and man’s relationship to God. (Billy Graham: Candid Conversations with a Public Man By David Frost)
Here we begin with a basic tenet: Hath God said? The original question in the Garden to Eve which she answered incorrectly and led to the Fall of man, is here again posed to Mr Graham. Hath God said he formed man from the dust of the ground? (Genesis 1:26-27, Genesis 2:7). Or not? Indeed, God hath said how He made man and it is only a man without the Spirit in Him who finds it easy to dismiss the plain words of God and accept "arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God," (2 Corinthians 10:5). "Either way" that man appeared on the earth, as Graham believes, is NOT by faith. One is by faith and the other is by satan.

Are you in favor of the ordination of women?
Graham: It would be according to the circle I was in, because I feel I belong to all the churches. I am equally at home in an Anglican church or a Baptist church or a Brethren Assembly or a Roman Catholic church and I would have to say that I would identify with the customs and the culture and the theology of that particular church.
But do you welcome that development? (ordination of women]
Yes. … from my study of the scriptures there were many women preachers in the bible. Candid Conversations with a Public Man, David Frost
Once a man accepts man-made opinions and not God's word, all else falls from there. Here we see Mr Graham accepting culture and bowing to tradition, the way reeds are swayed by the wind. (Matthew 11:7, Jude 1:12). Whatever the people around him believe, Graham believes. That is what he is saying here. The bible says pastoring is for men only. Finally, Christians belong to Jesus, not "all the churches." A man who "feels" he belongs to all the churches, including RCC, is not a man who has the Spirit in him.

On salvation
Free pics

Graham: I used to think that pagans in far-off countries were lost--were going to hell--if they did not have the Gospel of Jesus Christ preached to them. I no longer believe that. ... I believe there are other ways of recognizing the existence of God--through nature, for instance--and plenty of other opportunities, therefore, of saying yes to God. (James Michael Beam, article "I Can’t Play God Anymore," McCall’s Magazine, 1978)
Only a man without the Spirit could deny that Jesus is the only way, and to say that other opportunities exist for men to say yes to God. Additionally, many say yes to God but deny the Son. Mr Graham did not speak of Jesus as the exclusive way to Christ, but spoke only of a nebulous allusion to nature.

In fact, the method of recognizing God through nature which Mr Graham is alluding is a verse about the wrath of God upon those who plainly see the existence of God in nature but suppress this truth in their unrighteousness. (Romans 1:18-20).

It could not be clearer: a man who disbelieves that those in countries who do not hear the word are not going to hell is not in the Spirit. This means that Mr Graham disbelieves the first and last condition of man: sinner born from the womb and being condemned already. (John 3:18)

On follow up after the Crusades
Graham: Anyone who makes a decision at our meetings is seen later and referred to a local clergyman, Protestant, Catholic, or Jewish. -Billy Graham, San Francisco News interview on Sept 21, 1957.
Many of the people who reach a decision for Christ at our meetings have joined the Catholic Church and we have received commendations from Catholic publications for the revived interest in their Church following our campaigns. This happened both in Boston and Washington. After all, one of our prime purposes is to help the churches in a community. If after we move on, the local (sic) churches do not feel the efforts of these meetings in increased membership and attendance, then our crusade would have to be considered a failure. (Billy Graham, Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph, 1952)
No man in the Spirit would celebrate the consignment of a seeking soul to the church of the spirit of antichrist! The Roman Catholic Church is not a local church but a synagogue of satan. No one who seeks Jesus will find him in a Jewish synagogue either. If Mr Graham's "prime purpose" as he states, is to add souls to the number of those who are bound for hell, then Graham is of hell and making sons of hell twice as bad he is. (Matthew 23:15).

Free pics
On infant baptism
I do believe that something happens at the baptism of an infant, particularly if the parents are Christians and teach their children Christian truths from childhood. We cannot fully understand the mysteries of God. But I believe that a miracle can happen in these children so that they are regenerated, that is, made Christians through infant baptism. If you want to call that baptismal regeneration, that's all right with me. (Wilfred Bockelman, "A Lutheran Looks at Billy Graham," Lutheran Standard, 10 October 1961)

No person is made a Christian by having water sprinkled on their infant body. We are made Christians by the way God said we become Christians:

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17)

I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? (Galatians 3:2 )

Can an infant believe what he has heard?

Graham on hell being metaphorical and not real

The good folks at Answers in Genesis are right: once you chip away at the word in the first few chapters of the bible, all other doctrines crumble.
Graham: I think that hell essentially is separation from God forever. And that is the worst hell that I can think of. But I think people have a hard time believing God is going to allow people to burn in literal fire forever. I think the fire that is mentioned in the Bible is a burning thirst for God that can never be quenched. (Orlando Sentinel, Orlando, Florida, April 10, 1983)

You see the connection here: Graham says that "people have a hard time believing" about hell being eternal punishment. Rather than Mr Graham teach it clearly and scripturally, he bows to the wind of doctrine like a broken reed: therefore he says, "I think". Notice he does not use scripture to support his view. It's always, 'I think', or 'I feel'... However the bible is very clear on the fate of the unbeliever.

But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice
Pixabay free pics.
magic arts, the idolaters and all liars--their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death
. (Revelation 21:8)

Hell IS separation from God forever, though not separation from His wrath. However, the unbeliever was already separated from God before he went to hell. The fiery lake of burning sulfur is very specific about the hell the unbeliever will endure. Hell is not only separation from Jesus, but it is fire, sulfur, and physical torment (Luke 16:24; Jude 1:12-13, Revelation 14:11; 2 Thessalonians 1:9)

These are just a few, certainly not all, of the shockingly aberrant doctrines Graham has held during his life and has espoused publicly. We must not fail to mention the doctrines he does NOT preach about, either. When a person looks at the life of a man like Billy Graham, 60 years of seemingly tireless promotion of Jesus to the masses, they cannot believe that such a man would not be saved. They won't believe he is a wolf, one of the pack that was prophesied to come in after Paul left the earth. (Acts 20:29)

Yet Jesus said, "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves." (Matthew 7:15)

In sheep's clothing means that the exterior will be molded to look like a believer, but inwardly they are not. It takes time, prayer, maturity and skill given by the Spirit to detect the wolves. And yet, is it really so hard after all? A man who denies basic doctrines, diverts seekers from Christ, and partners with all religions as equal is not so hard to see is a wolf. Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary says,
Beware—But beware of false prophets—that is, of teachers coming as authorized expounders of the mind of God and guides to heaven. (See Ac 20:29, 30; 2Pe 2:1, 2) which come to you in sheep's clothing—with a bland, gentle, plausible exterior; persuading you that the gate is not strait nor the way narrow, and that to teach so is illiberal and bigoted—precisely what the old prophets did (Eze 13:1-10, 22) but inwardly they are ravening wolves—bent on devouring the flock for their own ends (2Co 11:2, 3, 13-15).

Gilbert Tennent (February 5, 1703 – July 23, 1764) was a religious leader, born in County Armagh, Ireland. Gilbert was one of the leaders of the Great Awakening of religious feeling in Colonial America, along with Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield. His most famous sermon, "On the Danger of an Unconverted Ministry" compared anti-revivalistic ministers to the Pharisees described in the gospels. (Wikipedia)

Gilbert Tennent, On the Danger of an Unconverted Ministry
I may add that sad experience verifies what has been now observed concerning the unprofitableness of the ministry of unconverted men. Look into the congregations of unconverted ministers, and see what a sad security reigns there; not a soul convinced that can be heard of for many years together, and yet the ministers are easy, for they say they do their duty! Aye, a small matter will satisfy us in the lack of that which we have no great desire after, but when persons have their eyes opened and their hearts set upon the work of God, they are not so soon satisfied with their doings, and with lack of success for a time. O! They mourn with Micah that they are as those that gather the summer-fruits, as the grape-gleaning of the vintage. Mr. (Richard) Baxter justly observes that those who speak about their doings in the aforesaid manner are likely to do little good to the Church of God. But many Ministers (as Mr. Bracel observes) think the gospel flourishes among them when the people are in peace, and many come to hear the Word and to the Sacrament. If, with the other, they get the salaries well-paid, then it is fine times indeed in their opinion! O sad! And they are full of hopes that they do good, though th ey know nothing about it. But what comfort can a conscientious man, who travails in birth that Christ may be formed in His hearer’s hearts, take from what he knows not? Will a hungry stomach be satisfied with dreams about meat? I believe not, though, I confess, a full one may.
That is what Mr Graham offers: dreams of meat, while they spiritually starve. Tennant again:
And more especially, my brethren, we should pray to the Lord of the harvest to send forth faithful laborers into His harvest, seeing that the harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few. And, O sirs, how humble, believing, and importunate should we be in this petition! O! Let u s follow the Lord day and night with cries, tears, pleadings, and groanings upon this account! For God knows there is great necessity of it. O! Thou Fountain of mercy and Father of pity, pour forth upon Thy poor children a Spirit of prayer for the obtaining of this important mercy! Help, help, O Eternal God and Father, for Christ’s sake!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Further Reading

Billy Graham's Legacy of Evangelism Continues Online; 5 Millionth Person Indicates Decision to Accept Jesus as Savior

Life, ministry of Billy Graham chronicled in special release

Billy Graham: 'His impact for good in the world is incalculable'

Billy Graham and the Catholics



Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Atheists, unbelievers, the foolish: Of pastafarianism, spaghetti monsters, and wearing a colander on one's head

I was once all of the above. Though I never went so far as to declare my godlessness to the world by wearing a colander on my head as a spaghetti monster statement, I very likely did just as many foolish things that blasphemed my God that were just as evidently foolish to the believers around me as wearing a strainer on my head.

Asia Lemmon, whose legal name appears on her driver’s license as Jessica Steinhauser, is shown wearing a metal colander on her head on her Utah driver's license in this undated photo. Lemmon says the pasta strainer represents her beliefs in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and says state employees took the photo after she presented them with documents on religious freedom. (AP Photo/Utah Department of Motor Vehicles via The Spectrum). Source

Woman wears colander for driver’s license photo
The Flying Spaghetti Monster movement, also known as “Pastafarianism,” started in 2005 as a protest against teaching intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in Kansas schools. ... Hats and headgear are not allowed for driver’s license photos unless they’re religious garments, Rolfe said. After the first few Pastafarians came in about two years ago, state officials determined the church is a recognized religion and its members don’t require any special paperwork, she said.

Wikipedia's write-up of the Flying Spaghetti Monster movement/religion/parody.

On the one hand, it is difficult to live in a time where God is maligned on every side and at every turn. It hurts to see and hear our precious Savior mocked so badly. It just hurts.

To the choirmaster. Of David. The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good. (Psalm 14:1)

On the other hand, it is wonderful to see people turn from their blaspheming ways, repent and be saved. We know those who are not saved are in darkness, and they are in despair. They would deny it, but they are. Being in Jesus is refreshing to the soul-

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, (Acts 3:19)

I often cry out to the Lord to come and get His Bride. It is hard to be around so much sin, and worse still, to sin myself. But then again, I am sure people were crying out to the Lord in 2003 for Him to return and I'm glad He didn't then because I wasn't saved until the end of that year. There are many we are praying for who aren't saved yet.

At some point though, He WILL return and leave behind many unsaved people, some of whom may be wearing a colander on their heads. Meanwhile, two things. First, let's be patient with them. They can't help wearing a colander on their head. They think they are doing something good and wise and funny.

For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? (1 Corinthians 5:12)

And second, witness with urgency. Jonah preached,

But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. (Jonah 3:8)

Yes, let everyone urgently call on God.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Israel in prophecy: Peace talks, Jerusalem divided? ISIS blows up pipeline, Synagogue attack

Israel and especially Jerusalem has been in the news a lot lately. Israel is the ground zero for prophecy. As Joel Rosenberg wrote in his non-fiction book Epicenter, that part of the world is prophetically known as the epicenter because "the eyes of the nations are riveted upon Israel and the Middle East, the epicenter of the momentous events shaking our world and shaping our future."

For thus says the Lord of host, After glory He has sent me against the nations which plunder you, for he who touches you-- that is Israel--touches the apple of His eye. (Zechariah 2:8)

He found him in a desert land, and in the howling waste of the wilderness; he encircled him, he cared for him, he kept him as the apple of his eye. (Deuteronomy 32:10)

Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings, (Psalm 17:8)
"Israel is very precious to God; and they who vex and harass him are as they who hurt that which God prizes inestimably, and which a mere touch offends and injures." (Pulpit Commentary)
And yet we know that in the end of time no one on earth will be Israel's friend. Zechariah 12:3 says that at the time of the very end, all nations will be gathered against her. This is to show that God alone is Israel's protector. All who try to move Jerusalem, the immovable rock, will injure themselves, the prophecy states.

By these verses and others we can see and know that the hatred against Israel and the Jews is irrational. This is because it is from satan. This rage and hatred of Israel will only become worse as time goes on and God executes His final plans for human history.

Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
2The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,
3“Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.”
(Psalm 2:1-3)

For the last few weeks tensions and violence in Jerusalem has inched up to the nearly unbearable zone. Fox News has a timeline. Here is an excerpt
Nov. 5: A Hamas militant slams a minivan into crowd waiting for a train in Jerusalem, killing two.

Nov. 8: Israeli police shoot and kill an Arab Israeli protester at a demonstration in northern Israel. Video indicates the man was walking away from the officer when shot.

Nov. 10: Palestinian attackers kill two Israelis in Tel Aviv and the West Bank in separate stabbing attacks.

Nov. 13: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jordan's King Abdullah II in Amman; the trio agrees on steps to defuse tensions at Jerusalem holy site.

Nov. 14: Israel lifts age restriction at holy site; Friday prayers go off without incident.

Nov. 16: Police say Israeli man stabbed in the back by an "Arab" attacker in Jerusalem and wounded. Assailant escapes.

Nov. 17: Israeli government says it will step up punitive demolitions, gives notices to families of Palestinian attackers

Nov. 18: Two Palestinians storm Jerusalem synagogue, kill four five and wound six.
November 7:
Call to Mobilize Reservists to Secure Jerusalem
Avi Naim, head of the Beit Aryeh council in western Samaria, called to mobilize reserve forces to stabilize the security situation in Jerusalem on Friday, in a special interview with Arutz Sheva. "The situation is explosive and sensitive," Naim stated. "There is the guiding hand of [Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud] Abbas there, who wants to burn the city [down], and the fact that there are no incidents in Judea-Samaria." "[Jerusalem] needs reinforcements, and we should call up the reserves, so the [IDF] is seen everywhere and so that we take a firm hand [against terrorists]," he added.
Remember, the end of November was supposed to be a drop-dead date for finalization of peace talks, long-stalled but supposedly resumed in October. The goal in early November was this:
The Palestinians are expected to submit a resolution to the UN Security Council by the end of November or early December that calls for an end to the occupation and the recognition of a Palestinian state along 1967 lines.
Joel 3:2 prophesies judgment upon the nations for the way they treated Israel, which the verses above show God considers His own, near to Him as the apple of His eye. Dividing His land is something He will render wrath for, and dividing Jerusalem is an even worse idea. Yet Luke 21:24 shows us that the Gentiles trample Jerusalem anyway.

They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

Revelation 11:2 says it will be for 42 months.

but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months.

November 8
EU urges two-state capital in Jerusalem as tensions soar
Europe's top diplomat on Saturday called for a Palestinian state sharing Jerusalem as its capital with Israel, hours after the police killing of an Arab-Israeli further fanned tensions. ... "I think Jerusalem can be and should be the capital of two states," the new EU foreign policy chief told reporters in the Israeli-occupied West Bank city of Ramallah. The status of Jerusalem is a sensitive issue that has blocked peace efforts for decades.

November 13
Martin Sherman wrote an opinion piece on the Jerusalem Post asking a terrible question,

Into the Fray: On the cusp of carnage?
A perfect storm brewing
A perfect storm is brewing for Israel. On virtually every front, ominous clouds are gathering, and should the menacing maelstroms they portend hit together, it is far from certain that the Jewish state will survive the destructiveness of their combined impact. Since I began writing this Into the Fray series in mid- 2011, I have warned repeatedly of the perils of the government’s policy of counterproductive compromises and concessions. I cautioned that this “cavalcade of capitulation” will elicit nothing from our adversaries other than demands for more – and more far-reaching – concessions, as indeed it has. In my column of December 2, 2011, I wrote: “By adopting a policy of continually trying to avoid confrontations in which it can prevail, Israel may eventually find itself forced to engage in a confrontation in which it cannot.”

Precisely such a perilous predicament is now beginning to develop before our eyes.

Across every border Israel shares with its Arab neighbors, within its own borders, and far removed from them, a formidable range of threats – from damaging economic sanctions and international isolation, through murderous terrorist attacks, jihadi insurgency and domestic insurrection, to the specter of weapons of mass destruction and a nuclear Iran – is coalescing with disturbing speed into a multi-faceted menace that jeopardizes the survival of the Jewish nation-state to a degree arguably unprecedented since its inception.

There is one yet-to-be fulfilled prophetic confrontation that Israel engages in which they cannot and do not win: The Gog-Magog battle of Ezekiel 38-39. In that confrontation, Israel is taken by surprise, and would lose, unless the LORD had directly intervened.

November 15
ISIS Blows Up Egypt-Jordan Gas Pipeline
The pipeline through Sinai exports Egypt's natural gas to Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. Jordan is in the anti-ISIS coalition.
The Islamic State's Sinai Peninsula terror organization, which was named Ansar Bayt al-Makdas until it swore allegiance to Islamic State (aka ISIS), has blown up the pipeline carrying gas from Egypt to Jordan. The pipeline, which is 1,200 km long, and was built at a cost of $1.2 billion, is used for exporting natural gas to Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. In the past, it was repeatedly attacked by Islamist terror groups, until Egypt's gas exports to Israel were halted. The Islamic State's Sinai Peninsula notified the press that it would not allow gas to be exported to Jordan unless ISIS head Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi allowed it. It said that the attack was a response to Jordan's participation in the military coalition against ISIS.
Speaking of being on the cusp of carnage, though in his opinion piece Mr Sherman was speaking of general war between nations, there was carnage today, sadly and mournfully.

Four Five killed in attack on Jerusalem synagogue
Four Israelis were killed and eight more wounded in a frenzied assault by two Palestinian men on Jewish worshippers praying at a Jerusalem synagogue in the most lethal incident in the city in years. The two assailants who launched their attack with meat cleavers and a gun during early morning prayers were then killed by police officers in the ensuing gun battle at the scene of the attack. The deaths occurred as the two men – identified by family members as cousins Ghassan and Uday Abu Jamal from the East Jerusalem district of Jabal Mukaber – burst into the Bnei Torah synagogue in Har Nof, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighbourhood of West Jerusalem.
Israel vows harsh response to synagogue attack
Israel vowed harsh retaliation Tuesday for a Palestinian attack that left four rabbis hacked or shot to death on the blood-smeared floor of a synagogue in Jerusalem, a major escalation of already-high tensions after weeks of religious violence. The attack during morning prayers in the west Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Nof was carried out by two Palestinian cousins wielding meat cleavers, knives and a handgun. They were shot to death by police after the deadliest assault in the holy city since 2008. Three of the dead were born in the United States and the fourth was born in England, although all held dual Israeli citizenship. Six others were wounded, including two police officers.

Tuesday's attack, however, appeared to mark a turning point, with the gruesome scene in a house of worship shocking a nation long accustomed to violence. The government released a photo of a bloody meat cleaver it said came from the crime scene. Government video showed blood-soaked prayer books and prayer shawls on the floor of the synagogue. A pair of glasses lay under a table dripping in blood, and thick streaks of blood lined the floor.
Source

Tears.

How Long, O Lord?
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

13 How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

3 Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
4 lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.

5 But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
6 I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.
(Psalm 13:1-6)



Monday, November 17, 2014

Doctrines of Grace: Explaining Limited Atonement

I was listening to RC Sproul on RefNet this weekend. He was preaching John 17, the High Priestly prayer where Jesus asks to be glorified.

I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. (John 17:6)

Pastor Sproul went backwards for a moment to relate another verse in John, No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:44)

free photos
Sproul briefly explained that their church (St. Andrews Chapel) was Reformed, noting the citation on the back of their church bulletin. He said that for those who were visiting or who had not gone to the new members class yet, he outlined the Reformation in a few sentences and quickly stated the five doctrines of grace that the Reformers (beginning with Martin Luther) had stood upon. It is widely known as an acrostic that spells the name of a familiar flower T - U - L - I - P.
T -- total depravity. This doesn't mean people are as bad as they can be. It means that sin is in every part of one's being, including the mind and will, so that a man cannot save himself.

U -- unconditional election. God chooses to save people unconditionally; that is, they are not chosen on the basis of their own merit.

L -- limited atonement. The sacrifice of Christ on the cross was for the purpose of saving the elect.

I -- irresistible grace. When God has chosen to save someone, He will.

P -- perseverance of the saints. Those people God chooses cannot lose their salvation; they will continue to believe. If they fall away, it will be only for a time. (source)
A fuller explanation of unconditional election from the same source is as follows:
The second point inescapably follows from the first: since one is born totally depraved and enslaved to sin, one's ELECTION cannot be dependent or CONTINGENT on any spiritually worthy actions one commits. According to this point, God predestines or chooses to soften the hard, sin-enslaved hearts of certain fallen individuals and liberate them from their death not because of any merit they have but despite their demerits--i.e., He ELECTS to change their hearts (and thereby join them to Christ and His saving work) DESPITE the fact that they hate God and oppose Him and have hard hearts, not soft hearts, and have sin-enslaved wills, not free wills. Thus, believers have no reason to boast about themselves or their own actions: the only thing that differentiates them from Judas, Esau, or others who never respond in faith is that God gave them grace that He withheld from such reprobates (Calvinists cite, e.g., Ezek. 11:19-20; 36:26-27; Rom. 9:11-18; 1 Cor. 4:7; Eph. 2:8-10; cf. Jn. 1:13; 15:16; Acts 13:48; 16:14; 18:27; Phil. 2:13).
In a Q&A on RefNet after the sermon, Pastor Sproul was asked if it was "fair" that God chooses to elect some to salvation and not all.

What is "fair" is that we all deserve hell for our sins against God. Fair (justice) would be that all sinners would go to hell.

Alternately, taking the "fairness" issue to the extreme other end of the spectrum, what if God chose to elect all human beings to heaven, and none to hell? Is it fair that all humans who sinned receive a pardon? Where is the display of His justice? His wrath? His hatred of sin?

The middle road is that He elects some to heaven and some He leaves in their state of sin. Sproul posed the following question back, and I'll paraphrase:

If God decided to save all people, pardoning all sins for all people for all time, and leaving the person himself to decide whether to 'accept Jesus' or not, would that include the sin of unbelief? Yes, it would. So if the sin of unbelief has been paid for by Jesus, and a person dies without having believed, is it fair to punish them in hell for their sin that Jesus paid for?

Robin Schumacher wrote an essay titled, "Unlimited or Limited Atonement?" Schumacher said, "John Owen wrote what is perhaps the most definitive work on Christ's atonement in "The Death of Death in the Death of Christ",
"God imposed his wrath due unto, and Christ underwent the pains of hell for, either all the sins of all men, or all the sins of some men, or some sins of all men. If the last, some sins of all men, then have all men some sins to answer for, and so shall no man be saved.
... If the second, that is it which we affirm, that Christ in their stead and room suffered for all the sins of all the elect in the world. If the first, why then are not all freed from the punishment of all their sins? You will say, 'Because of their unbelief; they will not believe.' But this unbelief, is it a sin, or not? If not, why should they be punished for it?
If it be, then Christ underwent the punishment due to it, or not. If so, then why must that hinder them more than their other sins for which he died from partaking of the fruit of his death? If he did not, then did he not die for all their sins. Let them choose which part they will." (page 61).
So once again, if God leaves salvation up to the individual's choice, and they do not choose Jesus, then Jesus paid for their sins for naught, and they are paid for twice. Yet...nothing God does is imprecise. Not a drop of blood that Jesus spilled is wasted. Not a moment of punishment in hell for the unbeliever is unwarranted. God is precise, fair, and just.

Not only is God fair, because God does it, it is fair. He is the very definition of fairness, the epitome of justice.

Schumacher concludes his essay this way,
>Dr. James White speaks to the simplicity and beauty of limited atonement when he says, "In its simplest terms the Reformed belief is this: Christ's death saves sinners. It does not make the salvation of sinners a mere possibility. It does not provide a theoretical atonement...Christ's death saves every single person that it was intended to save."
Calvin's doctrines of grace are in fact an answer to Jacobus Arminius, for whom the opposing viewpoint is named, Arminianism. In Arminianism, one can lose their salvation it is not secure.
Some Arminians, however, believe that mankind has so much influence in their own salvation that their actions can cause God to revoke it. They believe we must continually reject sin and live a godly life in order to maintain our position with God. (source)
Hence RC Sproul's wit regarding the daisy. He said,
"If you went to the new member class, you'll know the Reformed view. But if you don't, the acrostic flower stands for, Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible Grace, Perseverance of the saints". This flower differs from the Arminian flower, the DAISY. Which is, 'He loves me, He loves me not..."
free photos
Dear friends, if you are saved, it was not your choice, but Father God through Jesus. He saved you through no merit of your own, but to glorify Jesus. No one can snatch you from His hand, and your salvation is securely sealed within you, the Spirit being the deposit of this guarantee, until the Day. Our sovereign and merciful God is the author and finisher of our faith, and He keeps us in it until the time when all men are glorified in heaven. Then as Jesus prayed in His high priestly prayer,

Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. (John 17:24)

O, Jesus, we long to be with You, our High Priest, too!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Further reading:

FMI: Calvinist Corner

Why I am a Calvinist, Part 1 (of 5)

What is Calvinism? Is Calvinism biblical?