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Bible Christian

The inner witness of the Holy Spirit, what is it?


rosary

The inner witness of the holy spirit is something that a lot of proactive Christians talk about. A self validating faith which sits well with their intellectual and emotional wavelength.

In a recent discussion, this topic came up and I would like to share that discourse with you. A decent chap on the forum posted this and I took the opportunity to share my thoughts. Here is the original statement from him.

This might be a stupid question – but William Lance Craig talks about this a lot. He states that the inner witness of the Holy Spirit can be self warranting and greater than any apologetic argument for the existence of God and the truth of Christianity. What exactly does this feel like. Is it just a certainty or is a different feeling altogether? How do I know I have got it. I would say that I am a Christian and I do believe – but what really does it mean to have an inner witness of the Holy Spirit?

God Bless

My Reply: The thing is, a man in firm belief regardless of what that belief may be, can say the same. For example a suicide bomber who explodes on public has the same feeling of confirmation in him, that he actually takes his life along the others.

This kind of feeling of certainty is present in every belief system, not saying that in Christian faith this is meaningless. Just that because of nothing else to contradict it, this kind of becomes unfairly indisputable. He replied:

I agree with that – but my question is – how to I know it is the Spirit on a personal level – and not just my own convictions.

My Reply: You can’t. In the end it will be open to doubt on all levels. Because no outside party can determine this. You alone must feel either right or wrong.

Basically I have intellectually convinced myself that Christianity is correct – now I want to discover more of the real benefits of having a close and personal relationship with my savior – in other words more emotional experiences if you were. (I am not talking about Charismatic as I have major issues with that – although that may be part of the problem of course…..)

My Reply: To be honest, this conviction should be taken with the rest of the framework of theology. It should be taken with a testimony and works of God in your life, on your understanding of scriptures.

All meta physical claims are somewhere circular but this one is prone to be more on the side of error rather than true.

The holy spirit is not associated with feelings and neither should a believer be looking for those to validate his faith. I personally think that the inner witness of the holy spirit is:

1. The logical answer to where Intellectual reason and evidence has brought you.
2. The confirmation of the scriptures and Jesus’s words as well as the apostles that we are granted to be God’s children, the holy spirit being the inner witness in us.
3. An experience based in personal revelation, that be in prayer, healing, vow etc. (this again has to be corroborated from scriptures and teachings)

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Bible Christian

Speaking the truth in love…or is that really so?


Many people who believe that their calling in life is to “speak the truth in love” appear to believe that the speaking of any truth is by definition loving because they care enough about that person to give them the truth. However, by definition, if we are admonished to speak the truth in love that means that it is indeed possible to speak truth in a manner that is not loving and simply pointing to the truth is a not necessarily a defense for how we speak it.

I Cor 13 (the love chapter) makes it clear that there is truth that can be spoken without love and when it is done, the impact of those words or deeds are so empty and self-defeating as to have been better off not being spoken at all.

This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means, but these are some questions I ask myself when I’m tempted to speak “truth” to others which I believe they desperately need to hear and heed.

1. Are these words really true? It seems elementary that they would be if we’re speaking truth, but very often I have to confess that things I have said in passion toward someone else have been “true” but perhaps not the whole truth or perhaps the truth about something from my perspective that leaves some things out that might damage my point or make me personally look bad. When that’s the case, I may not really be speaking truth at all. I may be twisting or using the truth to win an argument or make myself look or feel better at somebody else’s expense.

2. Are these words really necessary? The speaking of truth, if it is done in love takes into account the state of the person it is directed toward and their ability or willingness to hear them. There can be a timely element to truth that makes it more likely to be received. When an alcoholic for example is laying drunk, it may seem a perfect time to tell them, “You’re an alcoholic and you need to sober up!” The very state of their drunkenness however, pretty much ensures that the message cannot be received. Perhaps the more loving thing to do might be to provide a bed and a room along with some oversight (and I’m not speaking about constant enabling here) to where the person is sober and then in that window of opportunity then take the time to speak the truth. There’s are some “truths” that in that context may never have an appropriate time to be spoken. Just because something is true doesn’t necessarily mean it’s always the right time to speak or even that those words should be spoken at all if the impact of them is not going to benefit a person or point them toward something better in their lives.

3. Are these words kind? Kindness can be tough at times and there are hard things to hear and to say that may in the long run be kind. Kindness in this regard however, elevates the needs of the person hearing over the wants and needs of the person speaking. There are things too that a person may need to say that is primarily for their own benefit, but that doesn’t minimize the need to say them in a way that takes into consideration the other person(s) in terms of their ability to hear what is being said.

Many people who hide behind the banner of “speaking the truth in love” seem to have convinced themselves that any truth is loving simply because it is truth. That type of view is toxic and often the people who espouse it are in fact defending their own egos, their own judgmental character, and equating themselves as the measure of truth in other people’s lives. Better perhaps to step back and think just a little bit and perhaps pass things through the 3 filters above and consider where the love it, before pushing such “truth” upon others.

***

By Bart Breen

Categories
Bible Christian God Inspirational

The Monk Who Stopped Studying


Knowing-the-WordIt is the story of a monk who was reading Scripture, when all of a sudden, he slammed the book shut, walked briskly out of the monastery with the Bible under his arm and took it to the nearest bookseller, where he sold it. On his way back to the monastery, he gave the money to a beggar on the street.

When he got back to the monastery, his fellow monks asked what he had read in Scripture which had offended him so much to cause him to sell his only Bible. “I was not offended,” he told them.

“I was obeying. I read where Jesus instructed a man to sell all he had and give it to the poor. So I obeyed.”

*********

I don’t believe Christians should go out and sell their Bibles. But what I do want to suggest is that before we attend another Bible study or listen to another sermon, we put into practice what we already know, and that we obey what we have already learned. I firmly believe that most Christians in the United States, despite the reports of our vast biblical illiteracy, know enough of the Bible and what it teaches that it would take at least a year to put into practice what we already know. We don’t need more sermons and studies. We need to put into practice what we already know.

Full article at Tillhecomes.com

Categories
Bible Christian Morality

Condemning Sin or Imparting Grace


Harold_Copping_The_Prodigal_Son_400On August 30th last year, I wrote somewhat of a controversial post titled “Love thy gay neighbor”. One of my friends, over the phone told me that I had gone overboard with it and that if someone was a liar or a thief would I love them too? He is not a bad person but he wanted to convey his point and so he did and I gently explained to him why I wrote what I wrote and that I stood by it. Yes I do support the gay cause, I say this at a risk of offending my close friends but I have good reasons to hold on to what I believe and I love my friends and hope that they see my reasons too. But back then when I told my friend this, he replied:

“But shouldn’t we condemn sin?”

And it caught my attention. Because I have was hoping he would say:

“But shouldn’t we love the sinner?” he didn’t say that.

This regrettably shows the attitude we Christians on the upfront have adapted. It is strictly not about the gay issue, it is about every issue that we take an offense to. Talking with my friend six months back, I realized this is what the church generally is teaching our congregations and our children, they teach them to condemn, we may not have been teaching them this aggressively but that scale tips because we teach them this attitude passively by playing it out in front of them. Through our actions we validate our error and pass it on.

Our focus has shifted. We are called the house of God, but we are moving towards the point where we are a house of legalistic people who pick out gnats but leave the greater truths of the gospel, love and mercy, aside. What difference is there among us and the pharisees of Christ’s time, if we are only looking to condemn, let that be people or sin, we don’t care; the whole point of Christ dying for sinners is lost when we engage in this behavior.

Categories
Bible Christian

Genesis global flood and the problems – part 2


CIMG7809Ok guys, Mike from godneighbor shared some really good points with me regarding the Genesis Global flood .

I will try to respond to them one by on here. Before I start, let me say that I enjoy Mike’s blog and I would recommend that if you are in apologetics, he has some good things to say on the subject over at his place so do check it out, I recommend it.

Mike’s post is in quotes.

Great analysis! I appreciate your desire read and not read into; that’s where true exegesis starts. I’ve looked at many of the issues with a global flood and have considered myself fairly convinced it was global in scale but I’ve been open to persuasion. Just a few points in response to the ones you make in your post.

Thank you for taking the time and effort for this discussion, Mike. I appreciate it. As you may have noticed in the previous post, I am not against the global flood just for the sake of it. I mean the earth literally was in water at some point in the last ice age so a global water scenario is not the problem, it is the timing of the whole thing as relative to the time of Noah is what makes me doubt it.

Erets is used in every book of the OT, first appearing in Genesis 1:1… “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth [erets],” where the meaning must be seen as the entire planet. This doesn’t mean that every occurrence of erets means the entire planet, but I don’t think we can look at tebel as the exclusively proper word for whole earth given it’s relative scarcity in scripture and it’s favored use as a synonym to erets in poetic writing. Your conclusions on the meaning of erets (that it means local area) in Gen. 6:11-12 and 11:1 seem to be driven by that assumption.

Without this assumption, taking into account the first 11 chapters of Genesis, erets occurs 96 times in the context of a global earth (i.e. “every creeping thing that creeps on the earth [erets]” in Gen. 1:26) and only 12 times in a localized “geographic area” context (i.e. “the land [erets] of Nod” in Gen. 4:16)

Well you are not necessarily wrong here. But I also think that Gen 1:1, never talks about the planet. It actually says what it means, land. In the beginning God made land, and the “tent” or covering to cover it. You can easily see that when you read that the word used for heavens in the original ancient Hebrew, means a tent, a cover, you begin to see that the Genesis account is highly symbolic in its choice of words. At least it is not making claims about the scientific nature of the truth.

Second I am sure you are aware that Genesis one is parallel poetry, close to psalms and the poetic expression there in, and was mostly intended to be sung via oral tradition too. And while this goes against my point for a literal meaning, I think it is fairly easy to conclude that the poetic expression does not mean the planet. They wrote what made sense to them and I can understand that. Even if earth in Genesis 1:1 means all the land, it still does not mean the planet. That is why we have, land (earth), tent (heaven), and face of the deep (sea). They divided the elements in the poetry.

When you use the word global, it means as in everywhere which was immediate.

For example, and you are going to smile on this but dont blame me, 🙂

  • Then it came about at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made; and he sent out a raven, and it flew here and there until the water was dried up from the earth. (Genesis 8:6-7,)
    After forty days Noah opened the window he had made in the ark and sent out a raven, and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth. (Genesis 8:6-7, NIV)
  • Now it came about in the six hundred and first year, in the first month, on the first of the month, the water was dried up from the earth. (Genesis 8:13a, NASB)
    By the first day of the first month of Noah’s six hundred and first year, the water had dried up from the earth. (Genesis 8:13a, NIV)
  • and in the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth was dry. (Genesis 8:14, NASB)
    By the twenty-seventh day of the second month the earth was completely dry. (Genesis 8:14, NIV)

Please see these verses. If I go by your theory here, the entire water on the face of the “planet” just dried up? No. Obviously, it is the local flood water. But notice how the scriptures put this. “The earth was completely dry”. Can the planet be completely dry? not planet earth. Only land can be completely dry and that is what the text is saying.

The flood could not have been global, it was not global.

First, the altitude/oxygen problem: We measure altitude as distance from sea level. Oxygen levels at sea level are dense. In a global flood scenario, where the “sea level” rose to the height of the highest hills/mountains, the dense oxygen level would be unchanged for the ark’s inhabitants since they would have technically been at sea level the entire time (Raised water level globally would have pushed the dense oxygen mixture up with it).

Fair enough. I think I would need to look into that but yeah I agree, this seems likely to have happened.

As for an accounting of the water necessary to cover the highest mountains, I think we have to consider that a global flood would have drastically reshaped the surface of the earth through plate tectonics and likely created mountain ranges during the flood and in the period of geologic instability that would have followed. It’s possible that the mountains we see now are newer or taller than what existed pre-flood, which would lessen the volume of water required.

Its possible, but not likely. The tectonic plates have their own mechanisms. The tibetian plate is being speared by the Asian plate which forms the Himaliyas, Floods dont do this, not in 40 days anyway.

Another consideration is the detection of vast reservoirs of water hundreds of miles below the surface of the earth that researchers estimate could add an ocean to what is currently on the surface (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/02/070227-ocean-asia.html).

We’d have to see how much is there for sure.

While “the English word mountain in the original language is can also means hill” is true, the vast majority of the occurrences of har/harim translate as mountain/mountains. Where the extent of the flood is described in Genesis 7:19-20, harim is accompanied by kol (all) and gavoah (high, exalted), as if to distinguish these from lesser hills.

It can, I never said it means only hills. but even if I take this as mountains  from where I look on the issue, this does not affect it either way.

Thank you anyway, I wanted to expound a bit further but things to do just keep coming so better post this now before I have to postpone publishing this post for one more day.

God bless you and good day.

 

 

 

 

 

Categories
Bible Christian

Genesis global flood and the problems that lie within


CIMG7809Was the flood of Noah, a true mega flood? A flood so big which happened to water the entire planet? That is certainly what many people hold to, not all though. Biblical scholarship has long been popular on the global flood and many evidences have been given along the centuries to further concrete the view that the waters, as described in the account of Genesis are the most accurate when they go for a universal flood theory.

However, closer inspections show a contrasting picture, and one certainly which catches the eye. There are odd questions and odd speculations abound the story of the flood and I believe as long as we have the book of Genesis, the consensus might be broken off. But true to the spirit of scholarship let us indeed look at what the text says and not read into the story what we might think may have had happened. That is certainly an error most scholars and non-scholars alike often find themselves in.

I believe that the flood makes more sense if its local and not global. This is actually, what I lean towards. Why? you ask. Well because to be honest that is what the scriptures in their most accurate form describe.

For those who do not know Hebrew and its use in the O.T, let me give a simple approach to this.

The word “earth” as is used in the account of Genesis’ flood and other parts of it, never actually means planet Earth. That is where most confusion lies. The Hebrew word used here is “Erets” (Strong’s Dictionary number H776) which means land, country, soil, ground. To my delight, there is indeed a word in Hebrew which when used means the whole world or inhabited world and that is tebel (Strong’s H8398). The important thing to note is that Tebel is never used once in the account of the Noah’s flood, not once. In-fact only Kol (meaning “all”)-Erets is used through out. Kol-Erets meaning “all land” or all ground. It is also treated a few times as ” specific number of people within a boundary”.

Here is how the account of the genesis flood starts:

Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence. (Genesis 6:11)

And God looked on the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth. (Genesis 6:12)

Now use the Hebrew word in it and you will see what it really means:

Now the land (erets) was corrupt in the sight of God, and the land (erets) was filled with violence. (Genesis 6:11)

And God looked on the land (erets), and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the land (erets). (Genesis 6:12)

Makes some sense, right? So you can immediately see the account of the flood does not even has to begin with the entire planet scenario. It simply is not there. What is there, is the land which makes up the Mesopotamian flood plain.

Still not satisfied?

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Bible Christian God Humor

Transubstantiation? You can’t just eat Jesus, man


 

So does the bread and wine become the body of Christ or is it just in remembrance and no transubstantiation occurs?

I’d be interested to know of your views about this.

Found this originally on Andrew Marburger tweets. 

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Bible Christian God

A question about being rich, and Christian salvation


A question I came across recently by an other Christian brother. Although not something new, I think its still an important one. Can a rich man go to heaven? What did Christ mean when he said, it is easier for the camel to pass through the needle’s eye than the rich to get into heaven? Have a look.

“Recently I had to endure a spew of interesting thoughts on my new career path and why i’m evil and going to hell because I hate the poor and love money. In YOUR opinion does making 6 figures make me a terrible person? I’ve always lived by ” If I love god more than my money and at all times Tithe I am not in danger”. But for about 3 hours I had pounded into my head that I need to make money save it, then give it all away and then “carry my cross” and live in poverty, so I can follow jesus correctly, or else I do not love jesus and I hate the poor. So obviously I’m a little distressed right now because I’ve just been told I cannot go to heaven If I make too much money, and also that working for an oil company is not serving god or carrying my cross and shows that it’s how I am not a true christian. So I guess my question is am a Evil person for seeking success?

I’m not going to lie I, chose the job for 4 reasons 1) I love The western states including north dakota 2) I love physical Labor 3) I like the Cold 4) The Pay
I’ve always wanted and felt called to make something of my self on my own and I feel like that’s what I’m doing, But am I denying jesus and not carrying my cross because I am making the choice to work hard and make living rather than live in poverty?”

Below is my response:

Categories
Atheism Bible Christian God Inspirational Suffering

The faith God looked for but did not find


This is an eight minute video of Krista Horning, sharing her testimony about how she lives with disability and her faith. But this post is not about her entirely rather it is more about me .

If you can take out the precious eight minutes out of your busy life, you will see the power of faith. Here is this lady, disable in many ways. Disability that has probably scarred her and ruined her life and yet her testimony rocked me to my core. I did not hear a complain, I did not here a doubt, I did not hear how she consoles herself, all I heard was faith, rock solid faith. The kind of faith God looks for inside us but seldom finds. After I watched her video, I asked myself about what would have I said if I had been through what she has been though and I will be honest here, I did not find much faith. I found doubts and complains, anger and hurt. And it ashamed me. Not because what will people say about me, but that how simple and easy we take the matter of faith at times. We treat it as the most casual thing in the world. The most stupid thing in the universe. And I can not begin to say how much strange I find the people who insist on “God is evil” mantra; would they stop for a minute and ponder upon the paradox? The person who goes through the pain, is not cursing God, and those who probably did not went through the same, feel the hatred. Intellectually it sounds fair but on a more basic logic, I find it astounding.

Categories
Atheism Bible Christian God Morality

Can opinions be wrong? Walking the thin line.


You should always believe in your self,…but not when you are wrong!

Every once in a while I get the chance to run into someone who thinks that they know the Bible. Atheists, Christians, Agnostics, it can be any individual from any group. And unfortunately they have read their bibles 10 times at least. I say at least because they haven’t read it in full. No, they just cherry pick stories and read it. The first three books of the Bible Genesis and Exodus and Leviticus, Joshua, Job, Kings, Chronicles, Jonah, the gospels, and revelation. Most people only read these 15 books out of the 66 which are in the standard protestant canon – and they think they understood the complicated history, the texture, the technicalities of the most widely read book in history. Atheists often do not read the Bible at all or read it selectively, they would prefer a “killer” book by some very outspoken atheist than read the Gospel.

So getting to know these 15 books out of the 66, makes an atheist comfortable, because he or she thinks they got it nailed down. I have rarely met an atheist who actually knows about Biblical scholarship without talking from both sides of his mouth. This is not a generalization, simply my experience.  And not to begrudge my good atheist friends, I admit it without any hesitation that the same goes for most Christians too, they do not have any idea about the intricacy of the Bible, they just love the Sunday school stories and that’s pretty much about it.

Anyone who wants to critically look at the Bible should know three things before they even think about establishing views about the Bible.

1. Hermeneutics

2. Exegesis

3. Context and historical background

If you do not know these principles do not bother wasting your time. It is like digging up a dinosaur fossil with your bare hands and no knowledge of placing it right in the tree of life, you will mess up big time and people do. Most people I have seen barely know the last point. And yet people are forming opinions as if their opinions are based on some scholarship, that scholarship usually means a few pages of some website which they skimmed through.