Hot Button Issues of Faith

I’m just going to put out where I stand on this page. It will be clear, but not necessarily very popular. I’m not trying to win followers or make a name for myself. Glory goes to God and where I stand on these things is clearly what the Bible says. Truth divides. The Bible is offensive to many people. If you don’t agree or get angry, that’s okay. I won’t debate. You can privately email me to have a civilized discussion, or you can just unsubscribe/unfriend/unfollow.


Abortion

I believe that life begins at the point of conception. Therefore, I believe abortion at any stage, once conception has occurred, is the murder of a human life. I do not think it should be used as birth control or in cases of rape. If the mother’s life is at stake or a reduction in the number of fetuses (in cases of multiples) is proposed, I cannot say. Those are very hard situations. Nevertheless, even if it saves a mother or other fetuses, there is still a loss of life. There is still forgiveness through Jesus’ atonement. If you’ve had an abortion, I want to say I’m sorry. You can be forgiven. I believe it is likely that your baby is in heaven with God. I have lost three babies by early miscarriage.


Baptism

A big debate is credobaptist or paedobaptist. I was baptized as an infant in the Methodist church. But then I was baptized as an adult believer later on. Aside from that Methodist church, the other churches I’ve attended have all taught and held to believer’s baptism, meaning an outward confession of your faith. I am currently on the fence about this, but seeing how infant baptism fits into Covenant Theology, and instances when households were baptized in the Bible, modeling infant baptism.


Creation

I believe God created the entire universe in six literal days. (See Answers in Genesis for more creation science.)


Election

God has chosen ones, His elect, that He has predestined and preordained as His people from before the foundations of the world were laid. Through the course of human history, He has gathered them up unto Himself and will continue until He comes again.


Eschatology

My view of the end times is Amillennial. (Below is an excerpt from an article at Theopedia: Amillennialism)

Amillennialism (Greek: a- “no” + millennialism) is the view in Christian eschatology which states that Christ is presently reigning through the Church, and that the “1000 years” of Revelation 20:1-6 is a metaphorical reference to the present church age which will culminate in Christ’s return. It stands in contrast to premillennialism, which states that Christ will return prior to a literal 1000 year earthly reign; and postmillennialism, which states that Christ’s return will follow a 1000 year golden age ushered in by the church.

Terminology

Although the term amillennialism is widely used, some prefer the term realized millennialism, saying it describes the position more accurately than the former, which emphasizes what they do not believe about the millennium, rather than what they do believe.

Overview

Amillennialism teaches that the thousand year reign of Christ mentioned in Revelation 20:1-6 is symbolic of the current church age, rather than a literal future 1000 year reign. It contends that the period described in Revelation 20 was inaugurated (i.e. began) at Christ’s resurrection and will continue until His Second Coming. Amillennialism holds that while Christ’s reign during the millennium is spiritual in nature, at the end of the church age Christ will return in final judgment and establish a permanent physical reign. Also taught by amillennialism is that the binding of Satan in Revelation 20:1-3 has already occurred, and means that “he might not deceive the nations any longer” (Revelation 20:3) by preventing the spread of the gospel.


Extra-Terrestrials and UFO’s

I believe the life on earth, plus God (the Trinity), angels, Satan, and demons are the only life forms in the entire universe. I believe people have had actual experiences where they believe they’ve seen an ET or UFO, but in reality, they are demons.


The Gospel

There are a lot of ways that the understanding of the gospel or what it is has been lost or misrepresented over the years. Here is a great sermon by Dr. R.C. Sproul “What Is the Gospel?” that explains very well. Based on some observations I’ve made, though, it seems that evangelical Christians have in some instances, gotten carried away, hyper-focusing on elements of the Bible or gospel to the detriment of other elements that are essential. Here are some examples that I’ve seen.

First, we see “the social gospel” everywhere today. This is where churches or professing Christians decide to go out and do good deeds. It may be random acts of kindness or planned events to go out and help people. While this is good and we are called to love others, if the gospel message (Christ’s birth, death, resurrection, atonement, and imputation) are not clearly shared with others, it misses the point. Sharing the gospel message needs to be the number one priority. It would be better to preach on the street corner or pass out tracts than to rake someone’s leaves. Sure, rake the leaves, but share the gospel, too! The eternity of someone’s soul is by far more important than some temporary chore. Eternity is a long time! So when someone talks of the gospel in terms of going out to do a good deed, be sure they’re clear on what the gospel really is. Do the good deed, but also share the greatest news ever – that’s the greatest act of love you could do for someone!

Second, we see certain people thinking that modeling how Jesus lived is the gospel. I’ve heard them referred to as “red letter Christians,” meaning that they mainly only read, study, and focus on the words Jesus said when He was on earth. They might try to live simple lives, being good people, helping others, and denying themselves certain things. But no one can live like Jesus lived – He was perfect and is part of the Trinity. And no one can die like Jesus died – as an atonement for sins. Some of them might even attempt to do miracles like Jesus did, again, that we can’t do because we do not have that power. But striving to live as a “good person,” live simply, help others, and possibly do miracles are all works, which isn’t the gospel.

Third, there is asceticism. This has been seen more among the “mystics,” monks, or even in religions such as the Amish. But there are some mainstream examples of complete self-denial. Part of the gospel does call for self-denial of our sinful desires, but these people take it too far. They deny themselves many earthly pleasures or conveniences, thinking it makes them “more spiritual,” “more holy,” or “more faithful.” In all these examples, the “mystics” who live in the woods, the monks who live in a monastery, and the Amish who live in remote communities, they isolate themselves from the world for the same reasons. Well, denying yourself things seen as indulgences and living isolated lives is not the gospel.

Fourth, is the largest, most rampant group right now, the prosperity gospel. These people are focused on health, wealth, and happiness. They think if they can muster up enough faith, God will hear their prayers and answer them, blessing them with the aforementioned things. They go so far as to make people feel like if they aren’t healthy, wealthy, and happy, then they don’t have enough faith. They believe in powerful prayers and declarations of healing. They get caught up in the mystical practice of only uttering positive, self-affirming phrases, as if they can speak thing into existence. All their hope seems placed on our physical earthly comfort and happiness. Joel Osteen wrote a book, “Your Best Life Now,” which I read years ago. It’s a bunch of bologna. I love what someone said, “I hope my best life isn’t now, because if it is, that means I’m going to hell when I die!” I have news for the Word of Faith and prosperity people: the gospel is not health, wealth, and happiness. That’s totally self-centered, temporary hope, misguided faith, short-sighted, emotional, and using God as a “genie in a bottle” mentality. It’s wrong. Stop it!

So to wrap up, the gospel is NOT simply going around doing good deeds; the gospel is NOT focusing on Jesus’ life and trying to literally model it; the gospel is NOT going around doing supernatural miracles and healing; the gospel is NOT denying yourself indulgences and living isolated from the world; the gospel is NOT health, wealth, and happiness.

The true gospel message – that Jesus is the only way to salvation and denying your sinful desires is offensive to many people. I get that it’s so much easier to do the things listed here, to spread a message related to these things, to do good works over the hard parts of the heart. But no one is saved by these means. The true gospel message always has to be shared to have any hope in having any truly converted Christians. Then our good works flow out of our love for God and others that we get as God’s children.


Hearing God Speak

The best quote I’ve heard on this is, “If you want to hear God speak, read your Bible out loud!” Amen! I do not believe that God audibly speaks to us today. (Nor do I believe that God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit ever shows Himself to us. People who claim that Jesus has visited them are full of hogwash. It’s either a fake claim or it was demonic. I believe the same for the claims of trips to heaven or hell.) The Bible is God’s Word – literally. If you read the Word every day, then God is “speaking” to you every day. The words in that book is what He wants us to know. Anything extra is just adding to the Word, which is a sin.

God used the prophets in the Old Testament (they didn’t have the Bible yet). In the New Testament, He used Jesus Christ. Since Jesus is also God, (part of the trinity of the Godhead), Jesus’ words are directly from God. (Jesus is our Prophet, Priest, and King.) After Jesus died and then ascended to heaven to sit at the right hand of God the Father, the apostles were next to carry God’s Word into the world. Through their divinely inspired writing and work, the canons of the Bible were compiled. God’s Word carries on in the Bible.

The Holy Spirit living in believers will help to guide us to do God’s will, but it won’t be in the form of hearing a voice or a whisper. It likely won’t even be in the form of a conscious “thought” that suddenly invades our brains, although perhaps in some cases it is. God can use other believers to say something to you that helps your situation or gives a solution or idea you can use. (But they shouldn’t be doing it in a way that they claim it as a “Word from God,” as a prophet. It would just be in random conversation.) More often, I think God works by changing and molding our hearts and controlling situations and opportunities causing His will to be done. God is sovereign and in control of absolutely everything and His will is going to be done. I think we need to trust God and rest in His sovereignty more and strive to hear about answers to our own problems and will for our lives less. Not as easily done as said, but something I’ve learned in my own life.

Here are two quick minute and a half videos on this: Visions and Voices From God? (A Still Small Voice?) and God Told Me…?


Homosexuality

I believe it is a sin. It is an abomination to God and continuously living an unrepentant homosexual lifestyle (or any sexual sin) will not lead to eternity in heaven with God. If someone confesses to be a believer, but is not convicted of their actions by the Holy Spirit and not willing to repent and turn from it, willing to live a holy life as God has commanded, their heart has not changed and true salvation should be questioned. I do not believe gay marriage is right, and just because it is legal, it is not okay with God and I do not acknowledge it. Marriage is for one man and one woman. Here is one beautiful testimony, how forgiveness and reconciliation is possible with God: Homosexuality Was My Identity.


Irresistible Grace

God in His grace, gives the gift of faith to His elect when they hear the gospel message. It may be immediate or it may take a period of time, but an act of God has to happen in the person’s heart before they believe and repent and become regenerate.


Judging Others

I do not think that true Christians should “judge” non-Christians. If someone is living in sin with no profession of having faith in God, then they are living as should be expected – they don’t know better, and they have no obligation to obey God or live a holy life. But we can judge other fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. We are told to confess our sins to one another – we can pray for and encourage one another, acting as accountability for each other. Further, if we see a professing Christian living in sin, we are to approach them in LOVE, and point it out, discuss the situation, and find solutions. If someone who professes faith in Jesus is living in unrepentant sin, not changing, church discipline actions should be employed. However, I know many churches today don’t do that, which is unfortunate. But regardless, it really needs to be examined and considered that maybe that person was never truly regenerated to begin with. True children of God will be learning, growing, practicing the Christian disciplines (have a hunger for it – prayer, obedience, reading the Word), and will display (in their actions, attitudes, personality, and choices) the fruit of the Spirit.

So yes, we are to judge. We need to do so to protect ourselves from false teaching, unbiblical practices, and other things that can creep into churches from our culture. There are many wolves in sheeps clothing – the tares among the wheat – inside and outside our churches. Sometimes it’s subtle, so we need to be discerning and alert, weighing everything against what the Bible says. Here’s a quick 1:33 minute video about it: Thou Shalt Not Judge?


Kingdom Now / Dominionism

This belief is that Christians are called to have dominion over the world, as if we’re supposed to “take over the world.” It takes the command in Genesis for man to have dominion over the earth and caring for the animals too far. Dominionism talks about the “7 Mountain Mandate,” which are areas of society that they think we’re supposed to infiltrate and take over: Family, Religion, Education, Media, Entertainment, Business and Government. The Kingdom Now theology is related. My understanding of these ideas is that once we take over all these areas of society, it will usher in the coming of Jesus, and the setting up of His earthly kingdom.  These ideas are also part of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) movement. The Bible never tells us any of this. It is bologna. God’s Kingdom is now, but it’s on the earth as the Holy Spirit within believers. As we spread the true gospel message and the elect are saved, the Kingdom is spreading. The physical Kingdom will be consummated when Jesus comes back and takes His people with Him. Then the new heavens and new earth will be made (this old one destroyed), and we will physically live with Him forever.


Limited Atonement

Jesus’ blood shed on the cross for forgiveness of our sins, imputing His righteousness to us, and giving us eternal life with God is sufficient for the whole world, but is only applicable to His elect.


Perseverance of the Saints

In other words, once saved, always saved. God will hold us in His hands and nothing can snatch us away. If someone falls away from God, the conclusion is that they were never truly saved to begin with. No one looses their salvation.


Prayer

I want to highlight first what prayer is NOT.

Prayer is NOT subjective and emotional. Yes, we can express emotions to God, weeping or in anger or joy and worship. What I mean is when it is self-centered instead of God-centered, it is wrong.

Prayer is NOT mystical. By this I mean that it doesn’t manifest certain feelings in our body, doesn’t give us more faith because we pray, and doesn’t elevate us spiritually.

Prayer is NOT to be contemplative. We are not to empty our minds, sit in silence, strain to hear a voice, or repeat verses/phrases/mantras over and over.

Prayer is NOT to give us power or spiritual gifts. Yes, there is power in prayer, but it is in the asking God to do something and seeing Him work it out. It is not for us to get the power to do it ourselves. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit gives gifts to certain people and in certain situations as He wills, and then it would only be for the carrying on of the Gospel. In other words, the gifts are not for our own benefit and gain.

Prayer is NOT for spiritual warfare, to speak to, rebuke, or bind or loose the devil or demons. Rather, we take our concerns to God in prayer and trust Him to work it out according to His will. The devil cannot do anything without permission from God. It is only God Who has the power to restrain the enemy. Believe in His power, not in some imagined power of our own.

(Besides, I think sometimes people blame too much of the world’s evil on the devil, when on our own, unregenerate people are evil, sinful, and fallen. We all are – no one achieves perfection this side of heaven, but unbelievers do not have the Holy Spirit to convict their conscious and they do not regard God’s morality and living holy. So evil is done and carried out by unbelievers in the world. Because we ALL have a sin nature, believers can make bad choices and sin, too. Many of our problems in this world stem from people’s sins, bad choices, things breaking down, misunderstandings, etc. Everything bad isn’t from the devil.)

And finally, prayer is NOT to use God as a “genie in a bottle,” asking, begging, or bargaining with God for something that YOU want. It is not to be self-centered, focused on me, myself, and I…what I want or desire. Yes, we can talk to God about our needs, concerns, problems, and stresses, but that should only be a small portion of our prayers.

There are many other aspects to prayer. When the disciples asked Jesus how to pray, He told them the prayer that we now call “The Lord’s Prayer.” (Matthew 6:9-15) We don’t need to repeat it word-for-word, but rather use it as a model for our own prayers.

There should be time for thanksgiving – for what He’s given you and things He’s done.

Time for praise – which is honoring and exulting Him for Who He is – praise for His attributes.

Time for lifting up other people and their concerns to God.

We pray for God’s will to be done, which includes trust in His sovereignty and love for us.

We can ask for the Holy Spirit’s clear guidance, but we don’t need to ask for a greater filling or fresh filling of the Holy Spirit. He lives in us from the time of conversion – He doesn’t come and go or fill us more or less. We can grieve the Holy Spirit, in which case, we need to ask forgiveness. But a true child of God has the Holy Spirit indwelling them at the same amount at all times.

This point is not as popular to talk about, but there needs to be a time of examining our hearts for sin and confessing, asking forgiveness, and repentance of those sins. Jesus dying for our sins is the core of our very salvation, so we can’t neglect that. Our salvation depends on putting our faith in Jesus’ atonement for our sins. We are sinful people who are commanded to live holy lives. We can’t possibly do that without facing our sins, admitting them, asking forgiveness, and with help from the Holy Spirit to turn from them.

The gospel isn’t easy – it requires a daily turning from that sin nature (selfishness and pleasure and doing what you want) and living a set-apart life that glorifies God.


Spiritual Gifts

I’m a cessationist. I have come to this conclusion from Bible study and having been involved in charismatic churches and seeing things with my own eyes. (I’ve also read several books arguing FOR these gifts.) I do not believe that the gifts of tongues, interpretation of tongues, healing, miracles, prophecy, or the office of “apostle” are still in effect or to be expected as we see in the Old Testament and the book of Acts. I believe in still praying for healing if someone is sick, but if it comes, it will come by the power of God Himself, not through some person who claims to have a “gift of healing.” All this “charismania” is so man-cenetered that it makes me sick. Likewise, the babbling of “tongues” these people say they do today is just mumbo-jumbo. And in fact, I believe can be demonic. I believe the tongues of the Bible were actual known languages that the Holy Spirit gave someone to speak to share the gospel. Therefore, there could be an interpretation given. I have only read about one possibly true claim of tongues in the modern world, when a missionary woman was suddenly able to speak the fluent language of where she was ministering in Haiti. So it’s not that I believe God can’t do these things anymore or totally doesn’t use them. But it is in special situations…not to be expected as normal, and not to give someone the label and “power” to do these things whenever they want. All these “faith healers” make me sick, as they make false claims and exploit the Holy Spirit’s gifts (which they don’t even have) and take advantage of desperate people. Anyway, I do still believe the Holy Spirit gives believers gifts of pastor, teacher, administration, etc. to serve the Church.


Spiritual Warfare

I believe we are to put on the armor of God, as outlined in Ephesians 6. I believe we can take things to God in prayer. But no where in Scripture are we told to speak to the devil or demons. We are not more powerful then them – only God is. Even though we have the Holy Spirit living in us, it doesn’t make us all powerful over them. We let God take care of it. We aren’t to “bind and loose” things, we don’t have dominion over them, we can’t control things, we aren’t “little gods.” This is very dangerous ground. What I see is that many of the charismatic and Word of Faith people focus way too much on the devil and spiritual attacks, while at the same time, are trying to invoke “spiritual gifts,” which I think are crossing into demonic territory. To me, it’s no wonder that all of it is wrapped up in the dark side. None of it is from God or what the Bible says. All we have to do is stay plugged into God’s Word, praying to God alone, and resist the devil and he will flee from you. Resist doesn’t mean yell or speak to the devil…it means actively ignoring him by focusing on God and reading the Bible.


Total Depravity

Humans are all sinful and fallen. Through Adam’s sin, we all inherited a sin nature. Even babies in the womb have a sinful nature. No one is “essentially good” anywhere in their core. Given the choice, as we have (freewill), we will always choose sin over God, unless God has intervened with grace and the gift of faith.


Women’s Role in the Church

I do not believe women should be Senior Pastors of a church. I do not believe women should be an elder in the church. Furthermore, I do not think women should preach to a mixed congregation of men and women. This pertains to things of God and the Bible. Simply, women should not lead men in the church.  That’s not to say they can’t talk or say a prayer in a church class or something, just not be an authority over men in the church. I don’t like the word, due to other debates and issues surrounding it, but in the sense defined below, I’d identify as a  complementarian. (See below explanation taken from carm.org)

Complementarianism is the view that males and females complement each other in their different roles and duties. In the context of Christianity, men are to be leaders in the church and the home, where women are not. Likewise, women are to assist the husband in raising children and expanding the kingdom of God.

Christian complementarianism does not see women as inferior or men as superior. Instead, it sees them as being identical in nature but different in function and role. For example, women are to bear children, where men are not. This obvious biological difference is a complementarian necessity within the family. Likewise, men are to lead their families with Godly direction, and the women are to support their husbands in their leadership.

Therefore, in complementarianism, when we look at what the Bible says about the difference of roles in leadership in the church, we find that women are not to teach or exercise authority over men (1 Tim. 2:12) based upon the created order (1 Tim. 2:13). Likewise, elders are to be male (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:6). This difference of authoritative structure is not based on culture, but on the fact that Adam was created first.

Therefore, complementarianism is the biblical position.

The debate with complementairanism has to do with a wrong view of the trinity and ESS (Eternal Subordination of the Son).

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