Truth of the gospel brings freedom

As Christians, we love our social freedoms–freedom of religion, of assembly, of the press, to name a few.  Freedom is a natural outcome of the Christian gospel. Back on February 1st, it was National Freedom Day in the USA, but many do not understand where these liberties in our free world came from.

I’m considered an early generation of millennials and attended several liberal arts universities. We, as others in the western world, have been subjected to an indoctrination and propaganda of untruths and lies in our education systems.  This flowed into how the mainstream mainstream media viewed the world.  The end result was a generation of socialists. I’m a fruit of this but thank God it was the Church that brought me back into a Christian worldview. As Christians, we have lost ground.  Socialism and other religious thought dominate this generation’s philosophical outlook on the world. This can only be countered when we teach the good news; otherwise, we might be in danger of losing our God-given freedoms.

In a democratic society, the conservatives and liberals ought to mutually respect the people’s decision of their elected national leader. In Jan. 2017, media attacks on President Trump incited riots and vandalism.  I was very much saddened to see how the left-wing media had created a division in America. Thank God Trump did not just “suck it up.” I think the left needs to own up to their divisiveness.

We need a correction in mainstream media and how universities teach our young people. This day will come one day, as the truth sets people free.  As Christians, God calls us to set the prisoners free and be salt and light in a dark world. Jesus said: “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32).  He was speaking in terms of salvation but the point here is that there is an inherent sense of freedom experienced when we share the truth of the good news of Christ.  Truth must be spoken by all as private citizens, as well as, by the media/press in the public sphere. We have a responsibility to convey the truth in whether it’s in the church, government, the courts, the media, in schools, in all places at all times.

givemefreedomFrom within God’s kingdom, God will be calling law-abiding, Christ-loving people who are truth-tellers to lead society in our classrooms, the courtrooms, and legislatures.  The church and the truth we hold dear in the Gospel of Jesus Christ need to intersect with society so that people can come out from under a veil of darkness.  The truth can and will set people free.

Is there other intelligent life out there?

This current generation will have the opportunity to dream about the possibility of new life and living on other planets.  In my growing-up years, this was only in the movies because earth was the only planet we knew of that was livable.  As many people learned this past week, NASA has just announced the new discovery of seven planets known as Trappist-1.

As a teenager, I was told “Aliens do not exist,” and that if a person thought they saw an alien, it was a demonic manifestation.  I had no problems with this according to my Christian culture because scriptures had nothing to say about other life other than earth’s human beings.  But if we were to actually discover intelligent life in outer space, would it contradict the bible?  I don’t see any contradiction.

Martin Luther’s Law and Gospel

Christianity Today’s, January/February 2017 edition, features Martin Luther, the 16th c. theologian/pastor who changed the church and the secular world 500 years ago by introducing a theological understanding that brought spiritual freedom through Law and Gospel. It’s a good article to read.  It’s one of my great life-altering theologies.

Mark 5:19 – Be a witness first to our family, friends, or people?

A continuation of a further look at Mark 5:19 on the man who was exercised of a legion of demons and had them cast into a heard of pigs (swine). Did Jesus tell the healed man to return and give witness of Jesus Christ to his family, friends, or to his own people?

Mark 5:19 says: “But Jesus would not let him. Instead, he told him, “Go back home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how kind he has been to you.” (Good News)

NLT, Amplified, Douay-Rheims:  uses “family
NIV, ESV/RSV/NRSV, N/KJV: uses “friends
CEB, CSB, NJB, NET: uses “your [own] people

Which is correct? One biblical commentary states: “Jesus refused the man permission to accompany him, but instructed him to return to the circle of family [Mark’s phrase τοὺς σούς may well include a circle wider than the man’s family, but there can be no doubt that the family was at the center of that circle.”  (William L. Lane, NICNT).

Another states: “To your people” (πρὸς τοὺς σούς), unique to the NT, has been taken narrowly by some to mean “your family” … But most take this to refer more broadly to “the people of your area” (R.A. Guelich, Word/ WBC).

In terms of biblical theology, either interpretation would not have any implications; but it would in terms of evangelism.  Do we go and bring our witness of Christ to our family first, or friends first, or our own ethnic people?  Obviously, we should evangelize everyone, but if I were this man healed of demon possession, I would want to tell my family first, then everyone else.

Broken relationships and demon possession

In Mark ch. 5, Jesus cast out a legion of demons and allowed them to enter violently into a heard of pigs.  After he was freed from demons, Jesus told him:

Go back home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how kind he has been to you (Mk. 5:19, GNT).

Some believe this man formerly had a broken relationship with his family, people, or friends and his bitterness, anger and brokenness became a key to an open doorway that led to demonic possession.  Can broken relationships cause a spiritual disorder in people?  Not necessarily, but I believe it potentially can.  When people experience deep distress and trauma due to broken relationships, bitterness, anger, depression, etc., can take over their lives. If they do not deal with their brokenness, it can become a doorway for the evil one to enter in, resulting in demonic depression, oppression or even eventually possession. We don’t talk much about demonic possession much in church today. As Christians, we desire God’s will for unity in the Church, in our communities, in our families, and in our relationships.  The devil aims to cause disruption, dissensions, disunity, and will go as far to cause hate, if possible.  We pray against this spiritual darkness pray for the peace of Christ to bring harmony and love.
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I recently watched this on YouTube: A Roman Catholic priest and an experienced and knowledgable exorcist, Fr. Vince Lampert, said the man in Mark 5:19 resulted because he had a broken family relationship that enabled the devil into his life.  It’s a very interesting and educational presentation on casting out demons. Stuff we rarely hear about in the Church today.

First Lady prays the Lord’s Prayer at Trump Rally

It was great to see First Lady, Melania Trump, pray the Lord’s Prayer at this Saturday’s huge rally in Melbourne, Florida. Good to see. Jesus said we ought to be salt and light and not let the light be hidden under a bushel basket.  May the light of Christ, and his good news, shine brightly and overcome darkness. [forward to 37min]

Eating the Bread of Life and drinking his blood

bread-cup What is “bread of life” and flesh and blood in John 6.  This can be confusing to many Christians.  It is why Christians have differences in understanding Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion or the Eucharist.  The theology of the Catholic and Orthodox churches take a literal understanding of “bread of life,” and eating and drinking Jesus’ flesh and blood.  The theology of most Protestant and Evangelical churches take a symbolic and metaphorical approach to understanding the eating and drinking Jesus’ flesh and blood.  As an Evangelical Protestant, I hold to it being symbolic.  Why? “Remain in me, and I in you” is referenced both in the contexts of Jesus being the “bread of life“, body and blood (Jn. 6:56), and also as the vine (Jn. 15:5). This commonality may be an indication that Jesus was speaking metaphorically in both instances because in the case of Jesus being the vine, there is no biblical linkage to a sacramental practice.

chalice-breadSome of my Christians friends believe the real presence of Christ is manifested in the Eucharist; and some friends see the Lord’s Supper as simply a memorial.  Struggling through this issue is not so simple.  In some cases, as a Christian, I read things literally, and in some cases, I like to read things metaphorically.  Let’s face it, we do pick and choose.

Note: Jesus claimed to be the bread of life four times in vv. 35, 48, 51, 58.
-ref. eating his flesh seven times in vv. 51, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58.
-ref. drinking his blood five times in vv. 53, 54, 55, 56, 57.

Purpose of the Law since Christ

Paul says in Romans 10:4, “For Christ is the end of the law, with the result that there is righteousness for everyone who believes.”  Since Christ has come, have the laws of Moses come to an end and considered useless?  On the other hand, Jesus and Paul speak of the law in very good terms. They even quote from the Laws of Moses. Some Christians also hold that the Laws of Moses are still today’s rule of life for the Christian.

So what is the law good for then if it is now abolished since the coming of Christ?  What aspects of the law are to remain, and what are to be abolished?  Does not following the law mean that we give license to sin and lawlessness?

Three-point sermons: proper or improper?

When preachers deliver a sermon and boil it down to three points, I sometimes question where they get the three-points from.  Sometimes, they draw them from a single passage of Scripture; and sometimes they get them from separate but related pieces of Scriptures.  If we try to squeeze three points from a passage it can probably be done but the question is: Is it proper to do so?  Can every sermon be boiled down to three points?  I’m not convinced it should be done or can be done.  Sometimes, a passage of Scripture only has one main point and no sub-points or no sub-points at all. But when preachers preach a three-point sermon, I think it might be for either our own benefit.  It also does make it easier to walk away from the pew remembering three simple points of a message.  Maybe listeners do prefer three-points in a sermon.