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Does the Bible prove pre-existence?

GhostOur Mormon friends teach the doctrine of eternal progression. Among other things, it means that all people were born into the spirit world – through sexual relations between God and one of his wives – prior to taking on earthly bodies.

As Mormon.org puts it: “Your life didn’t begin at birth and it won’t end at death. Before you came to earth, your spirit lived with Heavenly Father who created you. You knew Him, and He knew and loved you. It was a happy time during which you were taught God’s plan of happiness and the path to true joy. But just as most of us leave our home and parents when we grow up, God knew you needed to do the same. He knew you couldn’t progress unless you left for a while. So he allowed you to come to earth to experience the joy – as well as pain – of a physical body.”

While this is a troubling doctrine that departs from orthodox Christianity, it is even more disturbing to learn that Mormons claim the Bible supports this belief.

Before I formed you …

Specifically, Mormons cite two passages of scripture.

The first is Jeremiah 1:5, where the Lord declares, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Mormons believe this verse supports the doctrine of pre-mortal existence since God says He “knew” Jeremiah prior to the prophet’s conception.

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Posted by on April 15, 2014 in Columns, Mormonism

 

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A second angel followed – Revelation 14:8

Previously: I saw another angel – Revelation 14:6-7

BibleThe scripture

Rev. 14:8 – A second angel followed, saying: “It has fallen, Babylon the Great has fallen, who made all nations drink the wine of her sexual immorality, which brings wrath.” (HCSB)

A second angel followed

A second angel now appears, saying, “It has fallen, Babylon the Great has fallen, who made all nations drink the wine of her sexual immorality, which brings wrath.” The angel takes up the prophetic announcement of the fall of the city of Babylon in the Old Testament:

  • “Babylon has fallen, has fallen. All the images of her gods have been shattered on the ground.” (Isa. 21:9)
  • “Suddenly Babylon fell and was shattered.” (Jer. 51:8a)

God uses Babylon as an instrument of His judgment against Judah. This wicked nation to the east basks in idolatry and exports it to others. Proud, powerful, and ambitious, the Babylonians destroy the temple, sack Jerusalem, and carry the Jewish people into captivity. This is exactly what the prophets warned would happen, but the Babylonians are foolish to think they control the world’s destiny; they are, in fact, a tool in the hand of God. Years later, the Medes and Persians tunnel beneath Babylon’s seemingly impenetrable walls and take the city in a single night. Babylon the Great falls. This dark period in Judah’s history is well-known to John’s readers, and they may readily apply its message to the words of the second angel.

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Posted by on April 8, 2014 in End Times

 

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I saw another angel – Revelation 14:6-7

Previously: They were redeemed as the firstfruits — Revelation 14:4

The scripture

Rev. 14:6 – Then I saw another angel flying high overhead, having the eternal gospel to announce to the inhabitants of the earth — to every nation, tribe, language, and people. 7 He spoke with a loud voice: “Fear God and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come. Worship the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.” (HCSB)

AngelIn Revelation 14, John sees three angels and records their unique messages. The first angel flies high overhead and proclaims the “eternal gospel” to the earth’s inhabitants. The second angel announces the fall of Babylon the Great. The third angel warns that those who worship and beast and receive his mark on their foreheads or hands will be severely punished. Finally, John hears a voice from heaven promising comfort to those who “die in the Lord from now on.”

 

This passage raises many challenging questions:

  • What is the “eternal gospel?”
  • Who or what is “Babylon the Great?”
  • What does it mean to “drink the wine of God’s wrath?”
  • Do verses 10-11 speak of temporal punishment on earth, or of everlasting torment in hell?
  • What does the third angel mean when he says, “This demands the perseverance of the saints?”
  • And who are the “dead who die in the Lord from now on?”

Let’s take a closer look.

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Posted by on April 1, 2014 in End Times

 

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Will a man rob God?

Untitled copyDoes the Bible command tithing?

If we don’t tithe, are we robbing God?

Doesn’t the Old Testament teach tithing, while the New Testament stresses giving?

These are important questions, and every sincere Christian wants to get the answers right.

The Bible is our authority – and the last word on this issue. While it isn’t possible in this article to conduct an exhaustive study, we may highlight what the Old and New Testaments have to say.

 

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Posted by on March 26, 2014 in Columns

 

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There’s death in that box

200352554-001When the Rev. Jamie Coots died recently, it made national news.

The co-star of National Geographic Channel’s reality TV show, “Snake Salvation,” was bitten on the hand by a rattlesnake as he led services at the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus’ Name in Middlesboro, Ky. He died less than two hours later after refusing medical treatment.

Coots and his followers represent a sect of Christianity that incorporates snake handling into worship, relying heavily on Mark 16:17-18 for support. The beloved pastor, having survived numerous snakebites in the past, is not the first to die in this manner since George Went Hensley introduced snake handling to Appalachian churches in 1910. Coots died the way he lived, faithful to his beliefs.

Some people classify snake handlers like Coots as cultists, but that is neither fair nor gracious. In defending the Christian faith we need to draw a distinction between cults and sects.

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Posted by on March 18, 2014 in Columns

 

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They were redeemed as the firstfruits – Revelation 14:4

Previously: They have kept their virginity – Revelation 14:4-5

The scripture

Rev. 14:4 – These are the ones not defiled with women, for they have kept their virginity. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. They were redeemed from the human race as the firstfruits for God and the Lamb. (HCSB)

They were redeemed … as the firstfruits

We should note that John refers to the 144,000 as people “redeemed from the human race as the firstfruits for God and the Lamb.” In what way are they firstfruits?

WheatIn the Old Testament, the first sheaf of ripe grain is to be offered to the Lord, and is waved before Him by the priest, expressing gratitude to God and acknowledging that He – the Owner and Giver of all things – will grant a bountiful harvest. A lamb also is sacrificed as a burnt offering (see Lev. 23:10-14). In addition, the Lord requires the first of the Israelites’ flocks, and even their first-born children, although a redemption price is accepted in their stead. All of this is designed to teach God’s people that He is their sovereign Lord who demands their first and best, yet who watches over them as a gracious landowner, husbandman and shepherd.

In this respect, the word “firstfruits” involves two ideas: 1) that which is first, the beginning, or that which has the priority of time; and 2) that which is part of the whole to follow, and which is the earnest or pledge of the whole. The first sheaf of ripe grain therefore is not only the first in order of time, but is the earnest or pledge of the entire harvest that surely will come in.

Consider the feast of firstfruits, one of seven major Jewish festivals. The first and best of the barley crop is offered to the Lord in thankfulness and in faith that He will grant the rest of the harvest to be bountifully reaped. More importantly, it is a shadow of the coming Messiah.

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Posted by on March 11, 2014 in End Times

 

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What good is Christian apologetics?

Traffic signsApologetics simply is a reasonable defense of the Christian faith. The word is derived from the Greek noun apologia and means “a defense.” Apologia and its verb form apologeomai are used nearly 20 times in the New Testament, often in the classic legal sense, but more importantly to describe the call of God to all believers to defend the Christian faith with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15-16).

But how is sound doctrine applied practically? Put another way, what good is Christian apologetics?

Apologetics has at least four practical applications. We may use apologetics to:

Build. There is a positive case to be made for Christianity, and apologetics helps us get there.

The Bible, history, archaeology, and other sources help establish that a real person named Jesus burst onto the scene 2,000 years ago. He claimed deity, performed miracles, spoke the truth, modeled compassion, died on a Roman cross, was buried and rose physically on the third day. His coming to earth was the most important event in human history.

Further, apologetics helps us know who God is; who we are; why there is purpose in life; how we can be restored to a right relationship with our Creator; why we can face death without fear; and what God is doing about evil in the world.

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Posted by on March 4, 2014 in Apologetics, Columns

 

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