Sunday Meditation – Trust in His Blood

Sunday Meditation – Trust in His Blood

“Ah! Poor sinner, what do you say? Are you offended with the cross? No, you are not, for it is there that you wish to lose your sins. Do you desire this moment to come to Christ? You say, ‘I have no offense against Christ. Oh, that I knew where I might find Him! I would come even, to His seat.’ Well, if you want Christ, Christ wants you; if you desire Christ, Christ desires you. Yes, more; if you have one spark of desire after Christ, Christ has a whole burning mountain of desire after you. He loves you more than you can ever love Him. Rest assured that you are not first with God. If you are seeking Jesus, He has first sought you. Come, then, you destitute, weary, lost, helpless, ruined, chief of sinners; come, put your trust in His blood and His perfect righteousness, and you will go on your way rejoicing in Christ, set free from sin, delivered from iniquity, rendered as safe, though not as happy, as the very angels that now sing high hosannas before the throne of the Most High!”

Charles Spurgeon

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Hail Mary, Full of Grace?

Hail Mary, Full of Grace?

Every day, Catholics around the world pray to Mary saying, “Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.” The problem with this prayer is that not only is there no biblical warrant for offering prayers to anyone besides God, but this common Marian prayer is based on a mistranslation of Luke 1:28. The reason Catholics proclaim Mary to be full of grace in this prayer is because the Catholic Douay-Rheims Bible mistranslated the Greek verb kecharitōmenē as “full of grace.” It is then argued that Mary was free from all sin because only one who is sinless could be full of grace.

But no modern translation translates the verse as “full of grace.” Even the Catholic NAB translation translates the verse as “Hail, favored one!” instead of “full of grace.” The same word is used to describe all Christians in Ephesians 1:6 who are “blessed” by God. But we do not conclude from this that all Christians are sinless. An even closer parallel is found in Sirach 18:17 which uses the same verb in its perfect passive participial form just as Luke 1:28 does to describe a “gracious man.” The text reads: “Indeed, does not a word surpass a good gift? Both are to be found in a gracious man.” Does that mean this man is sinless and immaculately conceived as well? In Luke 1:28, the greeting Mary receives does not mean that she is sinless, but that she has been favored or blessed by God to become the mother of the Messiah. She has been favored by God because of his choice of her, not because she is without sin.

It was not necessary for Mary to be sinless in order to conceive Christ because his conception was different from all other conceptions. His virginal conception took place in a different manner than all other conceptions which ensured that he would be born without any desire to sin. The work of the Holy Spirit ensured that he would be born without the guilt and depravity which come from original sin. “Therefore the child to be born will be called holy” in Luke 1:35 is connected to the Spirit’s work, not because of something in Mary preventing him from becoming a sinner.

If Mary had to be sinless in order for Christ to be conceived without sin, then it would follow that Mary’s mother had to be sinless as well in order for Mary to be conceived without sin, thus creating an endless chain of regression. If Mary was conceived without original sin even though her mother was a sinner, then Christ too can be conceived without original sin even though his mother was a sinner because of the work of the Holy Spirit.

Sunday Meditation – Believers in Their Last Hours

Sunday Meditation – Believers in Their Last Hours

“For I am not yet called to die; yet my experience and observation of others lead me to believe that very remarkable grace is often given to believers in their last hours. I have seen the timid become more strong than the brave, I have seen the retiring become more bold than the courageous; and I have known some, who seemed to be almost dumb before, speak with matchless utterance; and some, whose faces have been lit up with supernatural joy who before appeared to be amongst the doubting and the trembling ones of Christ’s family. There are choice revelations, special manifestations, nearer approaches to Christ, wider outlets of love from him, and greater inlets into the soul of the brightness of his presence, in those times, than ever before. When the body is strong, it often seems like a thick wall that shuts out the light; but when disease comes and shakes the tenement, it makes great rifts in wall and roof, and through those rifts the light comes streaming in as it had never come in before. I never can doubt the truth of our holy faith, or the reality of religion, after what I have witnessed at the deathbeds of the Lord’s people.”

Charles Spurgeon

The Slavery Objection to Christianity

The Slavery Objection to Christianity

One of the more popular objections to Christianity is that the Bible is immoral because it gives approval to the practice of slavery. Many Christians living in the nineteenth century used the Bible’s statements that slaves should obey their masters to justify the practice of Southern slavery where black people were kidnapped and forced into slavery against their will.

The first truth that must be established when talking about slavery in the Bible is that the Scriptures never give approval to kidnapping and selling people into slavery. Exodus 21:16 condemns both the person who kidnaps another human being and sells him into slavery and the person who buys the kidnapped slave:

“Whoever steals a man and sells him, and anyone found in possession of him, shall be put to death.”

This condemnation is repeated in Deuteronomy 24:7:

“If a man is found stealing one of his brothers, the people of Israel, and if he treats him as a slave or sells him, then that thief shall die. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.”

The Old Testament laws on slavery were designed by God to regulate and bring compassion to a pre-existing practice that is the result of the fall of man into sin. Unlike marriage, slavery was created by man, not God. Exodus 21:2 placed a time limit on how long a person could own a slave, Exodus 21:26-27 forbids cruelty to slaves, Deuteronomy 15:12-15 says that slaves are to be treated well, Deuteronomy 23:15-16 says that slaves who run away from their masters must not be handed back to them, and Leviticus 25:39-40 reminds us that slavery was often a means out of poverty and starvation as many slaves sold themselves into slavery to avoid starving to death.

Paul in 1 Timothy 1:8-10 lists enslaving humans among the horrible sins of this vice list:

“Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine.”

The term translated as enslavers literally means “man-stealers” to describe people who kidnap other human beings.

But why didn’t Paul advise Christian slaves to run away from their masters but instead to submit to them in Colossians 3:22? The reason is rather simple: the gospel. Paul wanted Christian slaves to win their masters and fellow slaves or servants to Christ. But why doesn’t Paul advocate abolishing slavery altogether in the Roman Empire? The reason for this should also be obvious: the New Testament Church had no ability to change the law because Christians were a small minority in the Roman Empire. But they did have the power to create a new community where they did not treat each other as slaves, but as brothers and sisters in Christ. Paul says in Philemon 1:15-16 that Christian slaves are not to be treated as slaves:

“For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a slave but more than a slave, as a beloved brother – especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.”

The church is a society where there are no slaves because they have all been adopted into God’s family: no longer as slaves, but as sons and daughters:

Galatians 4:7: “So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”

Because Christ has set us free from our sins, we should not sell ourselves into slavery (1 Cor 7:21), but glory in the truth that we have been liberated from the just sentence of death and hell we deserved.

Sunday Meditation – Simple Faith

Sunday Meditation – Simple Faith

“Moreover, simple faith is always the work of the Spirit. No man did ever believe in Jesus Christ for righteousness, except the Spirit of God led him to it. He can never be brought to it, except the Holy Ghost shall lead him fliers. Faith is as much the gift of God as Jesus Christ himself. Nature never did produce a grain of saving faith, and it never will. When a man has believed, he obtains a great increase to his faith in Jesus by the work of the Spirit. The Spirit never takes a man off from Jesus Christ as he grows in grace, but it establishes him in his confidence in the righteousness of Christ. The witness of the Spirit in us is a testimony to the faith that Jesus is the propitiation for sin. He never leads us to rest upon the work within, but points us still to Jesus. When he works in us mightily our faith becomes even more simple and childlike; we sink in our own esteem, and rise higher in confidence in Jesus.”

Charles Spurgeon

The Shared Cultic Beliefs of Mormonism and the Jehovah’s Witnesses

The Shared Cultic Beliefs of Mormonism and the Jehovah’s Witnesses

It’s easy to confuse Mormonism with the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. They are both non-Christian cults who send out tie-wearing evangelists door to door to convince people that they alone are the one true church on earth. But there are three beliefs they share in common which distinguish them from biblical Christianity that you can remember the next time some of them come to your door: polytheism, Jesus has not eternally existed as God, and the denial of God’s omnipresence.

1. Polytheism

Mormonism explicitly teaches that there exists a plurality of gods and that we can become gods one day. But the Jehovah’s Witnesses likewise believe in a particular kind of polytheism called henotheism. In henotheism, you have one chief God with several lesser gods below him. The Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus is a god, but not Jehovah God. But if Jesus is a god, that implies he is one god among many. They also call angels gods as well and Jesus is their view is the Archangel Michael. They mistranslate John 1:1 in their New World Translation to say that Jesus is “a god” rather than “God” which creates a plurality of gods. They will call Jesus a mighty god since Isaiah 9:6 calls him this, but not the almighty God whom they believe is Jehovah alone.

2. Jesus has not eternally existed as God

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe in Arianism which denies the deity of Christ. But Mormons likewise believe that Jesus has not eternally existed as God. From their perspective, Jesus is a pre-existent soul who became human in the incarnation and then was exalted to godhood by his Father as his Father was exalted to godhood by his Father before him. Jesus is not eternally God in Mormonism, but became a god through obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel as his Father did. He was a man who became a god as they believe we can become gods one day as well.

3. The denial of God’s omnipresence

Mormonism teaches that God the Father is not omnipresent because he has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s (D&C 130:22). But the Jehovah’s Witnesses likewise teach that Jehovah is not omnipresent. They instead teach that Jehovah can only be in one place at one time.

Hence, when you compare Mormonism and the Watchtower Society side by side, you see that they both teach that God is one god among many, a finite being, and that Jesus is not God’s eternal Son. In contrast, the Bible teaches that there is only one God, infinite in every way, who exists eternally as a Trinity of persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Sunday Meditation – O for a Closer Walk with God

Sunday Meditation – O for a Closer Walk with God

O for a closer walk with God,
A calm and heavenly frame,
A light to shine upon the road
That leads me to the Lamb!

Where is the blessedness I knew,
When first I saw the Lord?
Where is the soul refreshing view
Of Jesus, and His Word?

What peaceful hours I once enjoyed!
How sweet their memory still!
But they have left an aching void
The world can never fill.

Return, O holy Dove, return,
Sweet messenger of rest;
I hate the sins that made Thee mourn
And drove Thee from my breast.

The dearest idol I have known,
Whate’er that idol be
Help me to tear it from Thy throne,
And worship only Thee.

So shall my walk be close with God,
Calm and serene my frame;
So purer light shall mark the road
That leads me to the Lamb.

William Cowper