Endure Hardness as a Good Soldier by PASTOR ETHAN HANSEN

“Suffer hardship with me as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the One Who enlisted him as a soldier.” 2 Timothy 2:3-4

This Memorial Day had special significance for me. My son recently graduated from high school and joined the Army. He turns eighteen at the end of June. I can remember as a young boy my father telling me about his cousin. His cousin died on the USS Thresher- a Navy submarine. The Thresher left Portsmouth, New Hampshire in April 9, 1963 and never returned. Having a son in the military brings things even closer to home. My thoughts and prayers are for peace.

The Bible often compares the Christian life to a war. We are commanded to fight the good fight (1 Timothy 6:12). Jesus told His disciples to sell their coats and buy swords (Luke 23:36). Jesus often battled demons and even Satan himself (Matthew 4:1-11).

One of my favorite Books in the Bible is 2 Timothy. The apostle Paul found himself in the Mamertine Prison. This time there would be no mercy. Emperor Nero offered no clemency. Paul knew that his death was imminent. In 2 Timothy 2:3-4 Paul gives great counsel to every believer in Jesus Christ. Scripture says, “Suffer hardship with me as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the One Who enlisted him as a soldier.” 2 Timothy 2:3-4 teaches three keys for effective service.

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Four Dilemma for Mormons to Ponder by Damon Whitsell

Dilemma Definition; “a situation requiring a choice between equally undesirable alternatives” by Dictionary.com

Joe Smith said : “As man is God was,,, as God is man may become”

I see at least 3 logical dilemmas in this statement. Do you agree?
Logical Dilemma 1: As man is God was
If God was once a man,,, where did man come from? There is no way around the fact that this statement implies that man originated apart from a creator. From my understanding there are only three possibilities for the origin of man.

1. Man was created by God and each kind makes after it‘s own kind. Animals do not evolve from one species to another. This is the biblical model of creation.

2. God created the cosmos and the basic materials for life and set evolution into motion. This is theistic evolution.

3. There was nothing and it went bang and eventually evolved into everything. Over billions of years simple life (if ya can call it that) arose and evolved into what we now call mankind without the influence of a God. This is what most people call evolution. Most do not even realize that this implies that one day (probably through a quantum leap, as evolutionist have proposed) that mankind will evolve spiritually into gods.

4. It is not really a logical possibility but some people believe that life on our planet was planted or seeded by alien beings. This idea is called the starseed theory or panspermia. Most who hold this belief do not ask themselves where did the aliens come from? This idea does not circumvent the necessity of a creator and/or evolution with or without a God.

The logical absurdity of, As man is God was, is that it naturally requires pure evolution. It would require that nothing became everything all by itself and eventually became a God (all by itself).

Logical Dilemma 2: as God is man may become

If man became a God before there was a God,,, why do we need a God or the Mormon teaching about becoming Gods to actually become a God. Doesn’t that imply that eventually all men should have or will become Gods? Or is the Mormon position that only one man evolved into a God and then said no other man could become a God unless he followed his rules and then he started the Mormon church and laid out all the does’ and don’ts about how to become a God?
Logical Dilemma 3: The book of Mormon

The book of Mormon is in agreement with the Holy Bible that there is only one God (and there where none before and there will be none after him), he is a spirit and he does not change. The bible even says that God is not a man (Num23:19).

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How God Uses Problems in Your Life for Good (Romans 8:28)

Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

This little jem was posted in a forum and a friend pasted it to his facebook page, so I am sharing it here. The authors name is Amanda Hadaway.

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1. God uses problems to DIRECT you.
Sometimes God must light a fire under you to get you moving. Problems often point us in a new direction and motivate us to change. Is God trying to get your attention? “Sometimes it takes a painful situation to make us change our ways.” Proverbs 20:30

2. God uses problems to INSPECT you.
People are like tea bags . . . if you want to know what’s inside them, just drop them into hot water! Has God ever tested your faith with a problem? What do problems reveal about you? “When you have many kinds of troubles, you should be full of joy, because you know that these troubles test your faith, and this will give you patience.” James 1:2-3

3. God uses problems to CORRECT you.
Some lessons we learn only through pain and failure. It’s likely that as a child your parents told you not to touch a hot stove. But you probably learned by being burned. Sometimes we only learn the value of something … health, money, a relationship … by losing it. “It was the best thing that could have happened to me, for it taught me to pay attention to your laws.” Psalm 119:71-72

4. God uses problems to PROTECT you.
A problem can be a blessing in disguise if it prevents you from being harmed by something more serious. Last year a friend was fired for refusing to do something unethical that his boss had asked him to do. His unemployment was a problem – but it saved him from being convicted and sent to prison a year later when management’s actions were eventually discovered. “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good .” Genesis 50:20

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LISTEN: TWOTWOF RADIO Cessationism is a HISTORICAL FACT by Damon Whitsell

Back in 2009 I did this radio show when John Edwards and I started the groupblog The Word on The Word of Faith @ (https://thewordonthewordoffaith.wordpress.com/).

I had forgot that I had this radio show and several others at my old channel on SoundClick.com. Here I show that Cessationism is a historical fact.

I hope the radio show is helpful and edifying to you and others, Damon Whitsell

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Hear the Radio Show

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The “ONE TRUE CHURCH” by Damon Whitsell


Have you ever heard that phrase “The ONE TRUE CHURCH” before?

If You have, it is most likely that you heard it from a cult member or cult group. ALL cults say they are the “one true Church” (referred to as OTC hereafter). All cults have 3 things in common. 1. The all have distorted teachings about God, specifically Jesus and the Trinity. 2. They all employ a teaching and culture of legalism. And while they may give lip service to “salvation by grace”, they apply a system of salvation by works. 3. They all claim to be “The ONE TRUE CHURCH”

This idea of the OTC among cults is expressed in many ways, some of them very ambiguously and not always clearly understood by the folks that hear the assertions. The claim to be the OTC by cults, and the many different ways that say or imply it, is generally called Authoritarianism. Authoritarianism being defined as “Characterized by or favoring absolute obedience to authority, as against individual freedom”.

Lets understand how Cults practice authoritarianism by looking at the teachings of their leaders or books. We will see that indeed cults are sectarian and authoritarian in belief and practice, claiming that “only they have the ONE TRUE way” and that only through their group, church, or fellowship can anyone be saved. They say only they have authority and salvation is exclusive to, and dependent upon their teachings and membership in their group. They keep their members in bondage by saying that members that leave the OTC, will lose their salvation by doing so.

We will hear it in their own words. We’ll look at 3 or 4 of the more well known cults. Lets look at a couple of Mormon quotes first.

Mormons

Joseph Smith claimed that he had seen both God the Father and Jesus Christ and asked these personages which church he should join. He claimed he was told to join none of them, “for they were all wrong; and the “Personage” who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight” (Joseph Smith History 1:19).

“Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth” (Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 14:10).

Notice that the Book of Mormon is saying here that the Christian church is “the whore of all the earth”, “the church of the devil” and “the mother of abominations”.

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IS SALVATION SOMETHING WE DO, SOMETHING GOD DOES OR BOTH? by Damon Whitsell

I find that when many talk about salvation or being saved, they do not even use or have the correct definition of save, saved or salvation in mind.

The terms in Hebrew, Greek and English predominantly mean to deliver, to rescue from harm or danger, to deliver from sin, to preserve and protect. These actions come from outside of us. They are not something we do. We are merely recipients.

Webster’s defines salvation as “the act of saving someone from sin or evil : the state of being saved from sin or evil”, “something that saves someone or something from danger or a difficult situation” and “deliverance from the power and effects of sin”. Strong’s defines Salvation in the Greek as “G4991 sōtēria Feminine of a derivative of G4990 as (properly abstract) noun; rescue or safety (physically or morally): – deliver, health, salvation, save, saving”. And in Hebrew Strong’s defines Salvation as “H3444 yesh-oo’-aw Feminine passive participle of H3467; something saved, that is, (abstractly) deliverance; hence aid, victory, prosperity: – deliverance, health, help (-ing), salvation, save, saving (health), welfare”.

It was Christ “who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father” (Galatians 1:4). Before the foundation of the world “… God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:17). Salvation is simply not about what we do, but rather what God and Jesus Christ has done on our behalf, delivering us from the wages of our sin – death. There is a plan of salvation. And with any plan there is doing involved. But we are not the ones that do the doing.

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GREAT ARTICLE: What does the Bible say about Animal Abuse?

‘The Average Dog is a Nicer Person than the Average Person” – 60 Minutes contributor Andy Roony

SOURCE: Does God hear the cries of those who do not communicate in human language? Does His heart respond to the fearful mewing of a motherless kitten or the exhaustion of a donkey staggering under a load far too heavy for it? Does He care about the animals that are bred in cramped quarters and exploited for profit?

God was so interested in the welfare of the animal kingdom that He created, that He even commanded Noah, in the time of judgement on the earth, to make the ark big enough to hold two of every kind of animal that existed.

The Bible actually has much to say in regard to animal abuse. In the beginning, God created the earth and all the creatures on it to be under the authority of humanity. He entrusted these beautiful elements of His creation to our care (Genesis 1:26). Our sinful nature causes us to abuse these things, sometimes without even realizing it. Yet, God expects the Christian, above all others, to be sensitive to all of His creation, knowing that exploiting or abusing it shows a disrespect for God Himself. Abuse of anything that God made is not the character of God, but rather of the Evil One.

Domestic Animals: “A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel” (Proverbs 12:10). Throughout the Bible, God shows how He expects us to care for our animals in practical ways. In the Law of the Israelites, for example, one of the purposes of the Sabbath year of rest for the land, was to let the land lie fallow–and so that the poor as well as livestock and wild animals could eat from it (Exodus 23:11 and Leviticus 25:7). The Sabbath day itself was not only for humans to rest. God also commanded us to give our animals rest on the same day. (Exodus 20:10). He also commanded the Israelites to help both their friends and enemies when their ox or donkey had fallen over, or was carrying a burden too heavy for it to bear (Exodus 23:5 and Deuteronomy 22:4). In addition, livestock were also allowed to eat as they worked (Deuteronomy 25:4). Finally, God says to us in Proverbs 27:23: “Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds.”

Part of the reason that God anointed young David to be king over Israel, was that he was a good shepherd and could be trusted with the sheep under his care, even risking his life for them when they were attacked by lions or bears (1 Samuel 17:34). God knew that if David had this sort of heart for his sheep, he would be a faithful shepherd over an even greater treasure–the people of Israel.

Wild Animals: His eye is on the sparrow: In addition to domesticated animals, God also watches over wild animals and commands us to do the same. In Deuteronomy 22:6-7, God promises a long life to those who will watch over wild birds. If we rape the land or the creatures in it, what will sustain us in the future? He allows for the taking of eggs, but commands that we release the mother bird to continue living in the wild and reproducing as He intended. In Job 38:41, God says that He hears the cries of newborn ravens crying to Him for food. Jesus went on to say that God supplies food for the wild birds and that not one of them falls to the ground without Him knowing it (Matthew 6:26, 10:29).

These small, but kind and practical commands written throughout the Bible give us good insight into how God expects us to treat animals. Surely we will have to answer to Him for any abuse that we have committed against them. God created animals for us to love and to learn from. In them, we see our own dependance upon God illustrated in their dependance upon us. We can also see elements of our foolishness manifested in them (who has not seen a crowing rooster and laughed at the comic caricature of ourselves crowing to all the world in our foolish pride?) In addition, God also tells us to learn from their wisdom:

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34,000 Differing Denominations OR Unity Within Diversity by Damon Whitsell

This question was asked of me, “there are 34,000+ different Christian denominations today. Who is to say which churches constitute the congregations of ‘true Christians’?” My response was…

I saw someone else make a similar statement about two weeks ago and have not had time to comment but would like to do so now. The post I am commenting about used 19,000+ as the number of Christian Denominations.

I would like to postulate a question that I believe statements like this beg to ask. I believe this is what people mean when they make such comments, “With between 19 and 34 thousand different Christian denominations, is it not ludicrous to think there is anything but confusion among Christians as to what Christianity is? Why should I consider joining such a confused bunch? Is there really any logical reason to consider Jesus Christ?”

It is my belief that people who make such claims, as there being between 19 and 34 thousand denominations of Christianity, in the sense that there are that many different versions are really saying, “you guys are fools and can’t even figure out ya’lls own religion”. Some may actually believe that there are many different versions of Christianity, but I believe that most prop up such bogus ideas in their head to justify their denial of Jesus Christ.

FALSE TEACHERS, PROPHETS, GOSPELS AND A DIFFERENT JESUS

Every New Testament book except Philemon contains warnings against false teachings, false prophets and false gospels that teach a different Jesus and a different Spirit. Paul said there were false teachers among the Corinthians and Jesus said “beware for many come false teachers have come to lead you astray”. We are told that there are men who secretly introduce destructive heresies and that Satan and his ministers masquerade as Servants of Righteousness. We are even told that there are Doctrines of Demons.

To the church in Galatia Paul said “you are being thrown into confusion by people trying to pervert the gospel of Jesus Christ, I am astonished that you so quickly turn from the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel”. We are told not to accept any other gospels than the one preached by the Apostles, even if they come from Angels or the Apostles themselves.

Satan is rightfully descripted as “adversary”. But Christianity is not dualistic (there is not a bad god and a good god battling it out) and because God is sovereign, Satan cannot be rightfully viewed as an adversary to God. He is just a created fallen angel. Satan opposes God’s plan of redemption. He does this by perverting the simple Gospel of Grace and certain truths about the nature of God, Man, Angels and Salvation.

ORTHODOXY VERSES HETERODOXY

The New Testament and church history shows that Christianity has always made a valiant effort to keep the Gospel from being perverted in the midst of constant attempts to redefine the essence of Christianity. The book of Galatians notes that some were trying to lure the Christians in Galatia back into the legalistic systems of Judaism, and the epistles of John tell us that Gnostic Teachings where already on the rise.

Detractors always like to claim that Christianity was not a codified belief system until the creed producing church councils, which they wrongfully say was the beginning of what we call the Church. Dan Brown claims that it was at these councils that Christianity was invented. But anyone who knows church history will tell you that these councils where required because false teachings came to attention and had to be dealt with. The church councils where not held to establish real or essential Christian doctrine, but to refute false heretical teachings that had risen up in the church. Establishing Essential Doctrine was a byproduct of some of these councils, and as Gnostic writings continued to appear on the scene these councils also established what is the Cannon (measure of, or for, inspired scripture). Christians have always struggled to keep out the heterodox beliefs and to the keeping in of the orthodox.

SOLA SCRIPTURA

History shows that Christianity was institutionalized as the state religion of the Roman Empire by Constantine. The Christians had been persecuted, even to death, for their beliefs about Jesus for many years, and the reprieve was welcomed but wrought its own problems. The major problem was that religious belief cannot be mandated by a state since religious belief is soulish in nature, and law cannot dictate personal belief. You can make a pagan say he believes in Jesus but you can’t make him actually believe in Jesus through force. In the generations after Constantine people were said to be Christian by virtue of the place of their birth (i.e. in Rome) not by virtue of their beliefs. All roman citizens were decreed to be Christians because of their birthplace, but that did not make all Romans non-pagans or actual Christians. Christianity was temporarily redefined by some.

I am not at home so I don’t have the specifics handy, but at one point a Pope made a decree that church tradition would be given as much emphasis as scripture regarding Christian beliefs. By elevating church tradition to the level of scripture as the authority for defining and living the Christian faith, the Catholic Church perverted the gospel as it had never been perverted before. The deification and worship of Mary, salvation by penance and works, and many other heretical beliefs arose which required the protesting of the Protestant Movement. Once perverted the Catholic Church remained apostate and Christians required a separation and reformation. It was a return to the Essential Doctrines of Jesus and the apostles themselves.

UNITY WITHIN DIVERSITY

A few months ago, I was engaged in debates at Factnet (a cult watch ministry) with followers of Arnold Murray and the Shepard’s Chapel. They can be called a Christian Cult because they do not hold to Essential Doctrine. They cannot be called a denomination or a true church. They have nothing in common with others that call themselves Christian, except for the name Christian. They hold an unorthodox view concerning the nature of God, Man, Sin and Salvation. From non-essentials such as the heresy of pre-existence, to the heresy of anglo-israelism, to the essentials of God, Man and Salvation by grace, not works or genetics, they are unorthodox to the core. They are not Unified Within Diversity as real Christians are. They are isolated and don’t have unity with those who hold to Essential Doctrines. Let me explain what I mean by Unity Within Diversity.

My phone book list about 20 different local Christian Churches. Among them are denominations and non-denominations and Christian Cults. I can go to most of those churches and have much unity in beliefs with them, especially concerning Jesus. As many have said “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty and in all things love”. Some I could not attend at all because they are diametrically opposed to essential orthodox Christian beliefs, but we must remember that they are Cults by virtue of their unorthodox teachings.

Christians churches and denominations enjoy a shared Unity Within Diversity about beliefs concerning God, Man, Sin and Salvation amongst all non-cult denominations and non-denominational churches. But a follower of Arnold Murray and the Shepard’s Chapel cannot enjoy that same unity with other local churches. To fellowship they have to travel to Arkansas or do their fellowshipping online with other Shepard Chaplers. They are isolated, exclusive and authoritarianist because of their beliefs.

There are beliefs that are essential to Orthodox Christianity. There are beliefs that are important, but not essential. And there are beliefs that have no relevance at all concerning orthodoxy such as eschatology. Because most of these churches hold to Essential Doctrines, they could be called essentially Christian. But some would have to be called Christian Cults because they are not Christian by virtue of the essence of their beliefs about Jesus Christ, yet still apply the name Christian to themselves.

THE VISABLE AND INVISABLE CHURCH

Who is to say which churches constitute the congregations of ‘True Christians’?

I think it is fair and right to say that there are two real churches of Jesus Christ. The visible and the invisible. The cooperate and the spiritual. We must realize that the church is personal and spiritual, and it is not an institution. There is not one denomination that is totally doctrinally correct. Denominations arise out of non-essential matters such as which day is the Sabbath (SDA), and should we be baptized by immersion (Baptist) or sprinkling. If a denomination arises out of a misconstrued essential doctrine, it is not a denomination but a Christian Cult.

It is safe to say that no church organization has the corner on True Christianity. There are true Christians within all Christian denominations and non-denominations. There are false Christians within all denominations and non denominations. But there is exactly zero false Christians in the invisible church.

CONCLUSION

My conclusion is that it is not appropriate to say there are many Christian denominations and try to link any and all proclaimed denominations with true Christianity. The Bible is full of warnings about false teachings, prophets, gospels, spirits and even false Jesus’s. The Bible even claims that it is a fallen angel’s agenda to pervert the truths contained in the Bible. History shows the fight to keep Christianity from being redefined. It is absurd to say “I will not consider Jesus because there is no unity in his followers” because there is Unity Within Diversity among the people of Jesus.

There are many individuals and groups that call themselves Christians, but you don’t become a car by parking in a garage. You have to become a car to be a car by nature. A Christian is a Christian by virtue of what they believe about Jesus Christ. I have avoided defining what is Essential Christian Doctrine because I don’t have time, but I will say it is safe to say if you don’t think Jesus is The Way, The Truth and The Light, you’re not a real Christian. It is safe to say that not all, but close to all Christian churches listed in my phone book believe He is The Way, The Truth and The Light. It is safe to say that of 19-34 thousand alleged Christian denominations that there is only one true church, and it is called the Body of Christ, of which Jesus is the head. The True Church is not a denomination. The true church are people that hold to Essential Christian Doctrine.

It should be no surprise that there is Unity Within Diversity within true Christianity. To be otherwise would be authoritarianism.