Saturday, November 28, 2015

Assurance of Salvation


One of the concepts that has plagued me the most in the past year is the idea of salvation. It was never that I was confused as to how someone way saved, Who saves, or who Jesus is, it was more that I was questioning whether or not I myself was saved. This is a hard thing for Christians to wrestle with for a few reasons. First off, pride is an issue here. We don't want to accept the possibility that we've been living a lie and that we may not actually be saved, thus needing to humble ourselves before the Lord. Another reason may be fear. "Well if I don't believe now, and I thought I did, then how can I actually believe?" And finally, you could be struggling with the concept of being saved by faith, by Christ alone, and not your works. There are many reasons people struggle with the concept of assurance, and as one that has struggled with all three of those reasons above, I understand how difficult it can be. In fact, it wasn't until a few weeks ago after meeting with my CrossLife pastor Tanner that I finally came out of this.

Tanner had taken me to 1 John. Now, for those who don't know anything about 1 John (first of all, read it), it was written by the Apostle of the same name (who also wrote the Gospel of John, 2 John, 3 John, and the Book of Revelation) to give Christians a way to "test their faith" to prove to themselves that they are in fact saved & in the faith. As Tanner began to read these verse, and then make me read them outloud myself, it was nothing that I hadn't heard before, read before, or had been told before, but the Spirit was certainly working through Tanner as this time it finally clicked! I was sure of who I was in Christ, not because of anything I did but because of Who I believed in! It was an amazing experience and after spending the next two weeks studying 1 John, I have just grown more assured of my faith.

I want to talk about how one can be assured of their faith in Jesus Christ and their place not only in His Book of Life but also His Kingdom, but before we can go there we must first discuss HOW one is saved in the first place, because some may be confused about this topic...

We were all born with sin. The Sin Nature resides in all of mankind and the Curse has affected every part of our world. That ship has sailed and there's nothing we can do about it (Romans 3:23, Psalm 51:5). As humans, we need to first be able to admit to the fact that we are indeed sinners. Sin is rebellion against God, breaking His holy Law (the 10 Commandments are a basic foundation of the law found in Exodus 20). We may not all have killed, raped, or fornicated, but we've all been prideful, we've all lied, and we've all coveted something (if you haven't then good for you, but according to Scripture you've done SOMETHING in rebellion to God). You see, the punishment for sin is death (Romans 6:23). This is something that is both physical through our death here on Earth and spiritual through our eternal destiny in Hell (Revelation 20:15), which must occur because God is a HOLY God, meaning "set apart", in this case from anything unclean (sin). The sad thing about this is, other than the whole idea that people DO in face go to Hell, that Hell was not created for humanity, it was something we chose when we rebelled against God at the beginning of time (Genesis 3)!

Admitting that you have a problem is always the first step in an addict's "road to freedom", and like an addict in order for us to be free from sin we need to understand and believe that we do in fact have a sin problem. 1 John 1:10 says that if we say we don't have sin, then we're lying and the Truth is not in us. That Truth is Jesus Christ. Jesus says in John 14:6 that He is "the Way, the Truth, and the Life". If He is Truth and, as sinners, we have no truth in us, then we are doomed because Jesus is also Life!

However, we know that because God loves us, He doesn't stop there. In fact, He sent His only Son to Earth, born as a man, born into sin, so that He could save us from death. Now, I could write a whole article on why Jesus' sacrifice is sufficient, but the main point is that because He lived a perfect life as a man and never sinned (2 Peter 2:22, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Hebrews 4:15), thus a Holy life as God (because Jesus is both fully man and fully God simultaneously), His death was able to cover humanity and be a sufficient atonement for the sins of all. You can't stop there however, because then He rose from the death and conquered death! You see, without the resurrection our faith is in vain (1 Corinthians 15:13-14)!

Now, just because Jesus died for everybody that doesn't mean that we can just say, "Sweet, well I'm covered then, I'm good, I'll just see Him when I die!" No, that's not how it works. Many know the story of Christ, and sadly many more are of the opinion that they're "good people" (no one is good according to Romans 3:10 and Ecclesiastes 7:20) and that when they die, if Jesus is on the other side that He'll let them in. Wrong. There is only one way to be saved, only one salvation, and that is by faith.

Faith is the only cure for sin. It may not cure the symptoms here on Earth, at least not completely, but in God's eyes we are no longer sinners but we are in fact God's righteousness! "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved." says Acts 16:31. John 3:16, the Bible's most famous verse, tells us that if you believe in the Son of God you will have eternal life. Romans 10:9-10 tell us that if you "confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart, you will be saved." Acts 2:21 says that "anyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved". Mark 16:16 talks about how one must believe to be saved (it also mentions baptism but that is not a requirement for salvation) and whoever doesn't believe will be condemned. Finally, and there are many many more verses on salvation out there, Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us that "it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, not of works so that no one may boast."



Repent. Believe. Faith. Grace.

We are not the one's who save ourselves, it's nothing that we could do, only Christ. We do however choose whether or not we'll let Him, and thus some go to Heaven and others to Hell. It's as simple as that, there is not grey, there is no inbetween, there is no Purgatory. Some would have you believe that you need to be circumcised, some baptized, others say you need to be doing good works, and some others believe that you can't actually know if you're saved or not! But this just isn't true.

The Apostle John tells us that we can know whether or not we are in the faith, whether or not we are saved in his epistle of 1 John. John MacArthur separates 1 John's "assurances of salvation" into four different "tests" in his study Bible. Let's briefly look into what each of them are...
  1. Jesus' Humanity as well as His Divinity - The first four/five verses in 1 John talk about how Jesus did in fact come in the flesh, that He was actually human. You see, there was gnostic teaching that had infiltrated the church that John was writing to. The gnostics believe that spirit is good and matter is evil and were then teaching that Jesus was just God, He was just spirit. While it's certainly true that Jesus is completely the Son of God, completely divine (although He gave up some of His divine attributes while on Earth), He is also, at least while on Earth, completely human. Acknowledging Jesus' humanity is one test in finding out whether or not you're in the faith, in the fellowship.
  2. The Reality of Sin - We talked about this one briefly before and it's talked about here in 1 John 1:5-2:2. We know what sin is, rebellion against God, and we know that it ultimately results in DEATH. John tells us here that God is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins IF we confess them to Him. He's not talking about confessing every sin you've committed to a pastor or priest, he's talking about confessing sin to God, something we can do through prayer. He also tells us that if we say that we no longer sin, even after being redeemed by Christ, that we are lying and that the Truth, Christ Himself, is not in us. Acknowledging the reality of sin, that we still do sin and must confess our sin to God, is another test to see if we're in the faith.
  3. Obedience to God - 1 John 2:3-6 is about keeping God's commandments. Yes, this certainly includes the Ten Commandments found in Exodus 20, but it's more than that. It's also loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and loving our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:36-40). It is also allowing the Spirit to work in and through you to exhibit the Fruits and Gifts of the Spirit. It's also preaching the Gospel to all nations, taking care of the orphans and widows, and casting out demons. Being obedient to God is doing what He asks of us or tells us to do. Now, we're not going to get it right 100% of the time, but it's the concept that we are trying to be obedient, that we are in general obedient to God. Sure we screw up, I do all the time, but are we fighting the good fight every day (1 Timothy 6:12)?
  4. Loving the Church/Not the World - John explains in 1 John 2:7-17 that it is vital that we be in harmony with our brothers and sisters in Christ, that we love the Church. We are told that if we hate our brother that Love is not in us and thus Christ is not in us. We are told not to love the world because nothing of God is in the world and that if we love the world we don't have the Father (verse 15). It's very important that we understand this and apply it to our lives.
These test are only the first two and a half chapters of John's 5 chapter letter, and the rest deals with similar themes. He tells us that whoever denies the Son also denies the Father and that whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also (2:23). We know that we must place our confidence in Christ so that when He returns we won't be ashamed (2:28). We know that whoever is born of God is no longer a sinner but instead a child of God made righteous (3:9). And so much more including confidence towards God (3:20-21), testing all spirits (4:1-3), no fear in love (3:18-21), overcoming the world (5:4-6), and keeping from idols (5:21) among much more. 

But how do we KNOW that we're saved?

Well, first I would read through 1 John and see how the Lord speaks to your heart, but I wouldn't stop there unless you definitely know. We know that if you're obedient to God, if you confess your sin, if you love the Church and not the world, and if you believe that Jesus was a man as well as God then you're on the right track, but how are we saved in the first place?
For by grace you have been saved, through faith. And this is not of your own doing, it is a gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. - Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV)
Faith, Belief, Grace, God. It's what we talked about earlier when we went over how salvation works. Sure, the tests in 1 John may help a struggling believer, in fact many passages of Scripture do that too, but at the end of the day it's all about just simply believing that Jesus is who He said He is. That Jesus died on the cross, rose again conquering death, and saved the world from sin, that He is the Son of God come in the flesh. That's all you need to do! The Spirit Himself testifies with our own that we are children of God (Romans 8:16) and that no one can say "Jesus is Lord" except through the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3)! Sure, "faith without works is dead" (James 2:17, 20), and that is absolutely true, 100%. However, works are not what saves you, works prove your faith, loving the church proves your faith, obedience proves your faith, confessing sin proves your faith, acknowledging Jesus as a man as well as God proves your faith, but faith, believing, is what saves you. That's how you can have full assurance of your faith!
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. - Hebrews 11:1 (KJV)
I hope that this long-winded article has helped some of you out. I know the assurance of my faith, knowing that my name is in the Book of Life, is something that can be trying at times and hard to grasp, understand, or even believe, but we see here, through Scripture that what you do reflects who you are and that at the end of the day it's Jesus who saves you, we just need to continue to believe that it's by Him that we're saved, not ourselves. Works can't saved us, only Jesus can. The Apostle Paul told Timothy that he had won the race and kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:7-8), our faith is ultimately proven true if we don't let go of God, if we continue to fight the good right (1 Timothy 6:12) no matter what. We know that He'll never let us go, but we better not give up ourselves.

Godspeed

Sunday, November 1, 2015

My Experience at 'One Life Tour'


I've been to many concerts throughout my life. I've seen Def Leppard, Foreigner, and Styx all twice, I've seen Journey, Bon Jovi, Night Ranger, Lita Ford, Heart, Imagine Dragons, Phillip Phillips, Halsey, Weird Al, Almost Queen, Poison, and I've seen KISS twice (I even met them one of those times)! Those are just the ones I can remember. However, let me say this, the One Life Tour that I went to the other night in Billings, MT was the most impactful concert I've ever been to. I didn't go with anybody, I didn't know anyone there, but I went looking forward to seeing Disciple and I came out the other end with so much more.

Normally at concerts I am somewhere near the front of the stage, that's just how I usually go (because my Dad buys the tickets not me...), but this time I sat in the back. It was held at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Billings and I had never actually been there before. Honestly, I felt very out of place, which was probably just due to the fact that I was there alone and drove two hours to get there after having been at work and in class earlier that day here in Bozeman; but let me say this, when the first band came on, man, I immediately felt a shift in the way that the night was going to go!


The Protest was awesome! I had never heard of them before and when I asked my brother (who is into heavier metal/rock) he didn't know of the either. But it didn't matter. They started playing and I was immediately hooked! They were only able to be on stage for a really short period of time (like a half hour or something crazy like that) so they only got to play three of their songs (I think it was three). "Welcome to the Freakshow" was the only song I 100% remember them playing and that's because they had us raise our hands if we felt like, or have ever felt like a, "freaks". So that was good!

Actually I've been listening to their "Great Lengths" album literally all weekend so I kinda forgot what songs they actually played and which ones I have just been constantly listening to... "Haunted" and "Rebel Static" are really good off of that album by the way if anyone is interested, though the first of those two is probably my favorite ("We Walk the Streets at Night" is also great).

But what really hit me during their performance was that they stopped at one point during the three songs they were actually able to play and shared the Gospel. SERIOUSLY! They not only talked about Jesus but they shared the Gospel in like 30 seconds! I've literally never seen a concert where that happens. Granted, I've never been to a "Christian concert", but even so! I actually got to meet these guys at the end of the concert, they were really awesome! I ended up with one of their "Great Lengths" album, which was sweet. I want to see them again really bad...


So then the next band came up after them named Loftland. Now, Loftland is not rock, metal, or anything like that. Their genre is pop, specifically EDM or CCM. It was a very abrupt transition, but certainly a welcomed one! They immediately got into their music (they got more time than The Protest did) and one of their first songs, if not their first I honestly don't remember it's been two days, has now become a prayer of mine... It's "Girl Like That" which is essentially saying, "this is the girl I'm looking for". It was awesome and I can't tell you how many times I've listened to it since... Like Proverbs 31, if other guys like me are looking for a specific prayer to the Lord about bringing you a wife, this is a good one!

But back to the concert, they were great, they really got everyone excited and into their sound! They even brought people up on stage for their "I Don't Want to Dance" song. But before they went off stage, they also made it a point to tell the audience that they loved us and that, more importantly, Jesus does as well. Again, how many concerts have you been to where they do that? Literally none besides this one in my case.

After Loftland, the concert stuff took a backseat. This is where it got really cool. There was actually a speaker, his name was Sean G. Park, who talked about what is wrong with the Church. Now, we know that there are a few big things, but the biggest thing he talked about was that Christians act like Christians, they're not being Christians. In layman's terms, what he was saying was that so many people "play church" or "play christian" but it's all surface! He referenced Luke 11:39 in which Jesus tells the Pharisees that they've cleaned the outside of their cup, but inside their wicked. Sean warned us of the dangers of playing Christian but not actually having a heart change for the Lord. It was extremely convicting and actually ended up bringing me to tears. He also talked about us being IN the world but NOT OF the world (John 17:16) and that those who love the world are not the Father's (1 John 2:15). But that's not all, Sean went on to give the Gospel message and 45 PEOPLE GOT SAVED!!! AT A ROCK CONCERT!!! HOW AWESOME IS THAT?!?!?!

Really I could end this post here and just leave you in awe of how GOOD God actually is, but there's actually more...


Finally, after waiting the whole night (not really that long though, it started at 7 and ended at 10, this was around 8:30 maybe...), Disciple got on stage and rocked the house! Playing a good amount of music from "Attack" (their latest album) and their latest "Vultures" EP (which they said was basically the songs that didn't make it onto "Attack") along with some of the old favorites. After "Radical", "Dead Militia", "Angels and Demons", and some others, the band played "The Name", and that's the song that really hit me. He was singing about Jesus, not being ashamed of Jesus, standing up against evil in the name of Jesus, and loving Jesus all at a rock concert. I had to send it to my Mother, so I took video of the last chorus. It's a fantastic song, check it out when you have the time!

As time, and a few more songs, went on though, Kevin Young, the lead singer of Disciple, just about stopped the concert to share a story about how he finally realized that he NEEDS God in order to learn, do, or overcome ANYTHING. He shared two more stories, one about a boy who was cutting himself and another about a girl who was going to commit suicide. The first story ended with them playing the song "Invisible" (which they wrote after meeting that boy) and the second ended with the girl telling Kevin that four weeks earlier she planned her suicide and in one last ditch effort called about to God and told Him that she would give her life to Him if He told her that He loved her. After turning on the radio, she heard the Disciple song "After the World" and then gave her life to Christ. They played that song too and then ended this portion of the concert with "Lay My Burdens Down" where everyone raised their hands and surrendered anything they were carrying to the Lord. I was once again in tears.

Then our victory song. Immediately after surrendering to the Lord, Disciple played their hit song "Dear X, You Don't Own Me", a declaration of our conquest over our demons, both literal and figuratively. It was awesome. The band played a few more songs, then left, and like every concert I've been to came back out for an encore of three songs, ending the night with "O God Save Us All". It was an amazing night!

Afterwards is when I met The Protest, got their CD, went to the Disciple booth, picked up a shirt and a vinyl copy of "Attack" (signed by the entire band!), then finished off at the Loftland booth and got their album "I Don't Want to Dance". I've been listening to these albums all weekend, along with Demon Hunter because the Deluxe Edition of "Extremist" came out yesterday and it's awesome.

Later, I talked with my brother for a couple hours on my way back home to Bozeman that night and besides having one of the best phone calls I've ever had, he reminded me that the way these bands make money and are supported is by the merchandise at the concerts. They don't make all that much on tickets, especially this one where tickets were only $15! So, I felt accomplished walking out of that concert with all that gear!

But in all seriousness, the One Life Tour was not only one of the best concerts I have ever been to, no actually, it probably was the best period, but it was also one of the best nights I've had with the Lord, just experiencing his presence and honestly just wanting to be with Him. The concert did that, the phone call with my brother did that, and at the end of the day the Holy Spirit did that through everyone involved. Thank you Jesus for this amazing experience! If One Life is coming to a city near you in the next month before the tour is over, THEN GO! Seriously, you won't regret it!

Also just a note, KJ-52 was not there despite him being on the banner up top... I have no idea why!

Godspeed

Friday, October 23, 2015

Top 10 Christian Albums of My Last Year


With the past year being so challenging for myself and many others I know and with the heaviness of spiritual warfare increasing as time goes on, I believe it's really important to be continually surrounded by godly music that ultimately glorifies and shares Christ. Now, I don't just mean worship music, because what is that really, I'm also talking about rock, folk, country, pop, metal, and many other styles of music that can still have the goal of honoring Jesus. These are my top ten favorite albums that I have discovered this past year, some of them are newer, some are older, but either way I believe they get that job done.

I did not include "Best of..." CD's because I would have included "7: Best of Stryper" and the "Best of Disciple 2005-2013" and I also didn't include albums that I had listened to in year's past such as "Awake" by Skillet or "To Hell with the Devil" by Stryper, otherwise those would've been high on this list as well. These are merely my discoveries in the past year...


1. Mirror of Souls - Theocracy
One of my best friends introduced me to this one around this time last year, if not a little bit later, during a time where I was overcome with fear. Fear of man, fear of death, fear of Hell, it wasn't looking good for me. But when I heard the titular track ("Mirror of Souls"), I was very encouraged by the good news presented in the 22 minute song. Not only is "Mirror of Souls" one of my favorite pieces of art (the song itself, not just the album), but this album is one of the most solid albums I have heard all the way through. "A Tower of Ashes", "Laying the Demon to Rest", and "Bethlehem" are probably my favorite tracks after the titular track itself and really the whole album is solid. Although I'm not a huge "power-metal" fan, Theocracy has not only grown on me but quickly become one of my favorites in the metal genre as well as the Christian music scene.


2. I Am They - I Am They
Vastly different from power-metal, I Am They takes Jesus' prayer from John 17, where He refers to His disciples as "they", and turns the saving power of the Gospel into catchy and joyful folk rock tunes for the whole family! I Am They is an extremely new band with their first album "I Am They" only having been released earlier this year. These guys can be fast-paced and catchy as in their #1 hit "From the Day" and "We Are Yours" but they can also slow down and just make you think about the words you're singing as in "Here's My Heart" and "Amen". "I Am They" is one of the most encouraging albums I've ever listened to and really helps you to be reassured in what, and who, Truth really is.


3. God - Johnny Cash
One of my personal favorites in all of the music industry, Johnny Cash does it again in "God". I had never heard this album until a few months ago, but these country, gospel, folk, worship, and just good ol' Cash-classics really bring out the good truths of Scripture. "Man in White" (in contrast to Cash's famous "Man in Black") is about Paul's journey to redemption where he meets Jesus on the road to Damascus, "Belshazzar" talks about Belshazzar's role in the Book of Daniel, "My God Is Real" - Cash's proclamation that the Lord is in fact real, and "The Old Account" which describes the transition from being under the Law to being under Grace. However, my favorite and the most powerful track is that of "Redemption" which pains a picture of the blood shed for us on Calvary by Christ Himself. This album is great for fans of hymns, gospel classics, and the Man in Black himself!


4. As the World Bleeds - Theocracy
Another Theocracy album, "As the World Bleeds" is not as good as "Mirror of Souls", but it certainly holds up as some great work by this Spirit-filled group! "I Am" is an 11 minute epic which declares the names, roles, and goodness of God; this is the song that makes this whole album worth a shot! Some other greats on this album include "Light of the World" which convicts believers for not sharing the Gospel, "30 Pieces of Silver", "Hide in the Fairytale", "The Master Storyteller", and "Drown", all powerful additions to the Theocracy library. Check this one out!


5. Attack - Disciple
I literally only discovered Disciple three weeks ago when I was hanging out with a friend of mine who is a big fan of them himself (we're actually potentially going to see them next week!). After listening to the "Best of Disciple" compilation album (which is great by the way, go get it!) I decided to try out their latest album from 2014 entitled "Attack", and boy is it great! "Radical", "The Name", "Unbroken", "Angels and Demons", "Attack", and "Yesterday Is Over" are all incredibly powerful tracks that shake you down the the core in truth. In fact, all twelve songs are worth a couple listens! Disciple is one of those Christian bands that you can just tell live for Christ both on and off the stage, and "Attack" inspires you to be like that too!


6. The Art of Celebration - Rend Collective
One of my favorite bands, Rend Collectives' "The Art of Celebration" has some of my all-time favorite songs, ever. "My Lighthouse" is a fantastic picture of how God will always be there, no matter what doubt, pain, or tribulations you're going through. "More than Conquerors" empowers us to live like Christ and gives us the "Resurrection power" we need to change the world, "Burn Like a Star" is a prayer asking for our hearts to be changed in order to fulfil the Lord's will, and "Joy" is just a simple encouraging song grafted into the hope of Jesus Christ. Rend Collective does it again here with "The Art of Celebration" and continues to be one of the most truthful and energetic Christian, worship, and folk bands out there!


7. Fallen - Stryper
Ah Stryper. You've got to love Stryper. From Michael Sweet's vocals to Oz Fox's guitar, Stryper just loves to "rock out for Jesus" and it's great! Having only released "No More Hell to Pay" two years or so ago, "Fallen" picks up right where this classic rock/metal group left off. "Yahweh" declares the glory of God and Jesus Christ through a powerful opening act that will blow you away, "Fallen" continues that tradition when talking about Satan's fall as well as that of humanity, "Pride" is all about our own sinful-pride, "Big Screen Lies" discusses the lies that Hollywood and the mainstream media puts out about Christians, and then you've got some other great songs like "After Forever", "King of Kings", "Let There Be Light", "The Calling", and "Heaven". "Fallen" is a great album that takes Stryper back to their glory days of "Soldiers Under Command" and "To Hell with the Devil". Plus, isn't that album cover super-cool!


8. of Beauty and Rage - RED
RED has always kinda tread the line when it comes to being a Christian band, but I believe that "of Beauty and Rage" should solidify their stance as being a believing band (if it wasn't already with "Release the Panic"...). This album has great tracks that really make you feel their words, such as "Darkest Part", "Of These Chains", and "Yours Again" (which is especially powerful and probably my favorite track). "Falling Sky", "The Ever", "Part That's Holding On" and "Shadow and Soul" stand out as great songs here as well. RED continues to deliver and improve each album! This is also one of the few albums on the list that actually came out this year after "I Am They" and "Fallen". 


9. Restart - Newsboys
At the end of my first semester in college, about a year ago, I really got into Newsboys. I really love the group now that Michael Tait is the lead singer (did not like that other guy's voice...) and I really do believe that their music is extremely beneficial to believers. For those struggling with faith, I recommend my favorite song on this album, "We Believe". It's essentially the "Christian manifesto" in terms of what the basic beliefs of believers are. "That's How You Change The World" is an encouragement that every little thing, little prayer, little action, matters. "Live with Abandon" is a prayer, declaring your desire to live for Christ alone. And "Fishers of Men" and "Restart" challenge you to to change your life for Christ and allow Him to flow through you.


10. Extremist/Extremist (Deluxe Edition) - Demon Hunter
Probably the most "sketchy" band I listen to. Demon Hunter is like hard core metal (a lot of "screamo"-type stuff, but I don't listen to those songs generally) and my buddy and I continue to wonder "is this even Christian?" Well, they are, and they're reaching a crowd that neither Newsboys or I Am They could ever reach through music. "Extremist" goes all out on this album. With their usual heavy music aside, tracks like "Last One Alive", "I Will Fail You", and "Hell Don't Need Me" are all songs that relate to the mentality of a believer with "Heart of a Graveyard" (probably my favorite one on this album) begging people not to put their hope in death, that there is something afterwards. "Artificial Light" is also a cool one. 

Honorable Mentions:
As Family We Go - Rend Collective
No More Hell to Pay - Stryper
Lead Us Back - Third Day
God's Not Dead - Newsboys
Time's End - Saint

Well, these are the songs and albums that have really been an encouragement to me the past year, I hope they all help you all to grow in Christ. I really believe that the music we listen to both helps reflect and shape who we are, and as believers we need to be intentionally listening to music that glorifies God. I find that when I'm out on my own, I'm generally listening to Christian music, whether something on this list or not, but when I'm around others I'm tempted not to because of "peer pressure". We need to remember who we live our lives for and that it's a 24/7 commitment. There are no breaks, no pauses, and no surrenders, we are His and He is ours. Live for the glory of Christ and continue to represent Him and obey Him daily!

Godspeed

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A Biblical look at Angel - The Old Man vs the New


For those who don't know, Angel is a character from Joss Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series from the mid-nineties who, due to his popularity, was given his own five season series cleverly entitled Angel. Angel, born human in 1727 in Ireland as Liam, was sired by the vampire Darla and became Angelus. For over 100 years, Angelus worked his way across Europe, eventually becoming one of the biggest mass-murderers in the world until 1898 when a gypsy's curse returned his soul. After that, Angelus renamed himself Angel and driven by his soul he turned from a life of pure evil and death to one of "helping the helpless" where he would try to preserve life at all costs.

Disclaimer: Before people go all off on this article and freak out, I want to make a few things clear... 

  1. Scripture is very clear that vampirism is wrong (Leviticus 17:10-14) and I in no way am going to condone or support vampires, vampirism, and/or that Christians and vampires (or just demons for that matter) are the same. 
  2. The comparisons here are made simply based on my experiences watching the character of Angel on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, nothing more or less. 
  3. I am in no way saying that either show mentioned above is good in a spiritual sense or even that I condone the actions that take place on the show (besides killing demons I don't condone much of the character's actions actually), but after watching the characters of Angel and Angelus for a while I have come to see him in a different light than I did before through the lens of Scripture (oddly enough), hence this article.
  4. The essential reason I'm writing this article is to give fans of these shows, believers or not, the chance to understand the regenerative nature of the Christian life from a perspective that makes sense to them.
All this to say, although there ARE similarities between Angel and a born again follower of Jesus Christ, they are NOT the same thing! On that note, let's look at how Angel and Angelus are able to represent the New and Old Man that we are made aware of in Romans 6:6 and Colossians 3:9-11...

"We know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin." - Romans 6:6 (ESV)
From what the Book of Romans tells us, we can assume that once we become born-again believers, we are in fact a whole new creation, a whole new person! As we can know from various passages of Scripture throughout the New Testament, Christians are supposed to continually be conformed to the image of Christ, to be "little Christs" as the actual word itself means.

So how does this relate to the character of Angel?

Well, it does in a few ways actually,...

As you read up above, Angel was once Angelus, a vampire/demon without a soul whose soul-purpose (ha ha...) was to "rape, pillage, and plunder". This is symbolic for us as Christians because before-Christ (B.C.), we actually were enemies of God (Romans 5:10)! But with a soul, Angel's life changed forever, just like ours is changed as believers! Here's how:


  1. "Helping the Helpless" - Angel's tagline for his solo-series, Angel, was "helping the helpless". As time went on, Angel looked out for the little guy. He didn't let evil demons, or evil men, determine what happened to others! In fact, he willingly went out and saved lives on a daily (or in his case, nightly) basis. As Angel continued on, he helped save the world many times, even saving Fred from a Hell-dimension (an allegory for him saving someone from Hell?). As we see by the fruits of the Spirit in Scripture (Galatians 5:22-23), we are to exhibit love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Throughout Buffy and Angel, the vampire with the soul often shows us these traits in his life. His love for his friends and family (and Buffy), peace when he is alone, kindness and goodness by saving people daily, faithfulness by (over-all) staying true to his mission and convictions, and self-control by often resisting the urge to turn back into his former self, usually through drinking blood.
  2. "Saving Souls" - Angel not only saves people physically though, he usually is out to save the souls of people as well, in terms of making them into "good people". Now, for Christians, we are working to lead people to Christ who will LITERALLY save their soul, but for Angel, he saves their souls in terms of redemption, much like his story. In the first season of his solo-outing, Angel works hard to show anti-Buffy, the Slayer named Faith, that her soul, no matter all the atrocities she's committed, he continues to love her and fight for her soul. He eventually helps Faith turn her life around and she goes off to save the world! But not just faith, there are others too, like Doyle, Gunn, Wesley to an extent, Connor, and even Darla who he fights for, not because he has to, but because that is who he is. I sometimes wonder why I don't have the same persistence and conviction about sharing the Gospel that Angel did with bringing people to redemption.
  3. "The Powers that Be" - In the Buffyverse, there are two different entities that represent good and evil. The Old Ones are the rulers of the Hell-dimensions, they are the original demons & are evil. However, on the Heaven-dimension side of things, we have the Powers that Be. Now, obviously these Powers aren't God, but in the Buffyverse they're the closest we've got. Angel is commissioned by the Powers to fight the evil, demonic forces threatening Earth, and they often give him help in the form of messengers (Cordelia). In Scripture, before Jesus ascends back into Heaven, He commissions His disciples, and in turn all Christians, to "go and make disciples among all nations" (Matthew 28:16-20). This is obviously different than Angel's mission from the Powers, but I think it's easy to see the connection between the two when looking at it from the perspective of the Powers commissioning Angel to go and help save souls like the Lord tells us to do as well.
  4. "Angelus" - We all have our dark side. The "Old Man", the sin nature, that creeps out from time to time to wreck havoc on our lives and our mission for God. For Angel, that "sin nature" is Angelus. When Angel loses his soul (which has happened twice in the Buffyverse officially, though unofficially a few more), he becomes the demon he was before he was "redeemed". He goes back to murder, kidnapping, siring, blood drinking, and many other things, usually including arson. Angel knows that Angelus is always lurking beneath his psyche, waiting to get free, and when he does he usually breaks whatever Angel has built. In the lives of Christians, how many times to we see this too? A loss of self-control means that a pastor could end up having extra-marital relations, or when we find ourselves in an "impossible" situation and lie, thinking it'll help but it only destroys any trust left in the situation. We see this all the time, whether in our own lives or others.
"Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in the knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all." - Colossians 3:9-11 (ESV)
Now I want everyone to remember that vampirism is wrong, and the drinking of blood is a sin like any other sin. But Angel being a vampire aside, I think for fans of Buffy or Angel, or really any TV series or film, it's important to look at the characters and situation of the show(s) in the context of a biblical worldview to see how we apply whatever we're watching to our Christian life. Obviously there are times where that's hard and even impossible, but I believe that we should all be striving for the goal that is Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:12).

Godspeed

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Can Satan use Scripture Against Us?


I think that when we are growing in the Word and in our relationship with Christ, that that is the time in our lives where Satan gets scared. If we go back to the Gospels at the beginning of the New Testament, specifically the Gospel of Matthew, we see that Satan isn't really present until Chapter 4. I think there's a serious reason for this. Sure, the former angel was almost certainly involved with Herod's plan to wipe out all the 2 year olds and under after Jesus was born to Mary in Bethlehem, but the Devil himself doesn't show up, at least in this Gospel account (or in any until this time I believe) until after Jesus begins His ministry. We sometimes forget that all we know for certain about Jesus' life takes place during His birth, a quick glimpse into His childhood, and the final three years of His time here on Earth. This being said, Lucifer waits until Jesus has been baptized, anointed with the Spirit, and announced by God (aka until He begins His ministry) to show up and personally do something about it. We'll come back to this.

Contrast this with the beginning of time in Genesis. Genesis 3 reveals that Satan tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, seemingly not long after Creation took place. Once Eve had been created and God had given them the Creation Mandate, Satan took it upon himself to tempt them out of eternal glory. Now, unfortunately for us this worked, but if we look at when he did this with the Son of God, we see that, thankfully for us, this failed! Jesus conquered the Devil, and would later conquer Death himself!

But I want to go back to what I said at the beginning, like with Adam & Eve and with Jesus, when we are growing or are doing the Lord's will (or about to) that's when the Devil and/or his demonic minions take opportunity to strike. They use whatever opening into your mind, your feelings, and your heart that they can find in order to deter you from your mission, stall your spiritual growth (or even back-track it), or make you doubt who you are in Christ. Over the past year, I've been struggling with all three of those issues, and the Lord has helped me to overcome them at different times. The last one however, doubting who I am in Christ, that one, for whatever reason, is the one that lingers.
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the Truth, and shall be turned unto fables. - 2 Timothy 4:3-4
Scripture is very clear here in 2 Timothy that there are false "truths" out there and false teachers to teach them. But there must be something true, something enticing about them. Think about Catholicism. They use the Bible. They pray the Lord's Prayer. They believe in Jesus. So what's the difference? Well, besides the fact that most of the "Christian" figures in Catholicism are actually Roman gods in disguise (Virgin Mary is actually Avalon), Catholics have to pay penance, and if you ask your priest if you're saved, they can't really give you an answer (they don't even know if they themselves are saved!). Now, I'm not saying that people can't be saved in the Catholic Church, one of my Dad's old friends was and is a true believer, but Catholicism as a whole has twisted parts of Scripture and ignored others. I smell a rat, or should I say a snake... I could go on and talk about Mormonism and Jehovah's Witnesses, but I think you guys get the idea. The point is, many read and believe in the Word of God, but as he does often, Satan LOVES to twist God's Word into what it is not.

I think the greatest example of this, besides the temptation of Adam and Eve in the Garden, "did God REALLY say?...", is the temptation of Christ. In Matthew 4, Satan tempts Jesus three times (at least that we know of). He tempts Jesus with food, to which He replies with Scripture (Deuteronomy 8:3 to be exact), but then Satan changes his tactic. He realizes that Jesus is the Word made flesh, so instead of tempting the human part of Jesus, he tries to reach the authoritative Word of God Himself by telling Him to call upon His angels to minister to Him, because they will (Psalm 91:11-12). Jesus then replies with another piece of Scripture that says, "Do not tempt the Lord your God" (Deuteronomy 6:16).

Here's what's crazy about this. Satan uses Scripture, even in context to a point, to get Jesus to do something He was not lead by the Spirit to do. Was Satan twisting Scripture? Well, yes and no. Satan was trying to use it to his advantage to get Jesus to do something He wasn't supposed to. So in that regard yes, but at the same time, Psalm 91, which is what he's quoting, is all about the Lord's protection over you and he was essentially asking Jesus to prove that Scripture. Unlike in the Garden of Eden, Satan didn't even need to twist a word or two, he quotes the passage almost word-for-word! But since Jesus is the Son of God, God Himself, He knows that you aren't supposed to tempt Him, and thus responds with Scripture correctly.

Now, I know what you may be thinking, doesn't this cancel out Scripture then? Doesn't this void out the passage in Psalm 91? Well, no, it doesn't. You see, the reason Jesus didn't throw Himself off a building to be caught by angels, because He could have easily and they would've caught Him, is because He understood what I just said above, that people, or in this case a fallen angel, are not supposed to tempt God. And the reason for that is because He is Holy, He's set apart, He doesn't need anything and there's no one more righteous or great than He. Satan understands this too, he just hates Jesus and wanted to see Him fail.

If you continue in Matthew 4, you see that the next temptation has nothing to do with Scripture, he realized that it doesn't work, that he can't phase Jesus because He knows Truth (and rebukes Him with it again for a third time)!
Submit yourselves, therefore, unto God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. - James 4:7
If we submit ourselves, our will, our pride, our sin, our everything to God and resist the Devil, then he's not going to stick around. As long as the Enemy has a foothold they'll continue to use it! It's simple battle strategy! This is a war after-all. Which, that being said, we do have a defense against the Enemy using Scripture against us, especially when it comes to us doubting our own salvation...


Faith. Matthew 19:26 tells us that, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." Faith is the lifeblood of a believer. It's what drives us, keeps us grounded and focused, and essentially is responsible for running our lives! We aren't saved by our works, as Ephesians 2:8-9 tell us, but by the grace of God, given to us freely if we have faith. John, Romans, and just about every book in the New Testament tells us that if we believe that Jesus is the Son of the Living God and that He was raised from the dead, that we will be saved. WOW. I know as Christians we hear this a lot, and I'd be lying if I said it didn't sound somewhat cliched at this point, but it's the truth! It's the Gospel! Without that fundamental belief, that foundation, we have nothing to stand on and the Enemies arrows will continue to penetrate us until we give up and die. I'm not saying it's easy, it's hard, and it takes a lot of prayer and determination and submission to God and His will, but it can be done! Jesus already won the war, but we still have to fight our daily battles.

Although Satan and the Enemy can, will, and do use Scripture to make us doubt, to tempt us, to hurt us in ways we didn't think the Bible could, we need to remember to stay faithful, to stay true to the Word and to combat the Enemy with Scripture that will help us secure our minds and hearts and win them back from their influence.


Godspeed

Thursday, August 20, 2015

What is the Opposite of Sin?


Sin. It's not just a "bad thing" that we each do every once-in-a-blue moon, it's actually the very thing, the very choice that separates us from the eternal, living God. Romans 6:23 reminds us that "the wages of sin is death,..." Behind sin is not just badness, or evil, it's Death itself, an entity that will eventually be thrown into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:14).

SIN = DEATH

Sin includes a multitude of things that result in death. Idolatry, greed, laziness, gossip, apathy, pride, adultery, lust, theft, and the list is practically endless. Ultimately, sin is direct rebellion against God, whether intentional or not.

Most of you already know this, in fact I'd wager that just about anyone reading this article here understands completely what I've just stated above, so this is where we switch gears.

The only thing that has conquered sin on this Earth is the person of Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the Living God (Matthew 16:16), but what was it that drove Him to do this? God didn't have to send His only Son to conquer sin. Jesus didn't have to choose to stand and oppose sin. And the Spirit certainly didn't/doesn't have to convict people of sin. The key word, the one thing that is opposite sin, that can conquer it, is actually found in the most quoted Bible verse of all time.

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life." - John 3:16

Did you catch it? If not read it again.

Love.

Love is the one thing that stands opposite sin. Just as Light is opposite dark, just as Good is opposite evil, Love is opposite sin. But why love? Of all things why love? Surely there's something else that is the OPPOSITE of sin, I mean come on. No, there's not, it's only love.

This entire article is based on a conversation I had with one of my closest friends and then again shortly after with another in which "what is the opposite of sin?" wasn't the question being asked or mentioned but it was actually "what is the opposite of love?" You see, when asked "what is the opposite of love?", most would answer something like "hate" or "apathy", and while I believe that these are valid responses to the question I don't, I can't, believe that they are the answer.

You can hate something out of love. Don't believe me? I promise it's true. Ask someone who hates cancer why they hate cancer, it's not because cancer did anything to them personally (provided you're asking someone who doesn't have cancer themselves), it's because they LOVE someone who has cancer. Let's try another one, is it wrong to hate death? Of course not! The reason we hate death is because it separates us from the people that we LOVE! Now look at apathy, by definition apathy is a "lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern." Besides the fact that nobody can be 100% apathetic (if they get out of bed in the morning or continue breathing then it means they have some concern for their own personal well being aka a love of themselves, if we follow the definition), apathy has roots in a deeper form of a sin that Scripture calls sloth but today we call laziness. Being apathetic isn't necessarily a sin like laziness that you can completely control, but it seems to be at least a side-effect of sin much like depression or mental illness. Thus, as a result of sin, a result of the Fall, apathy cannot be the opposite of love!

Look back at Romans 6:23 and then again at John 3:16, both sin and love have a result. We have seen from above that SIN = DEATH, but what does Love equal? I'll give you a hint, it's the opposite of what sin's result is.

LOVE = LIFE

If sin is rebellion against God, the opposite of His plan for us, then love (because we know that God is Love, see 1 John 4:8) has to be the opposite of that, love has to (at least in some small part) be obedience. If sin is essentially death, then love is essentially life. There's a reason why love is such a large part of our culture, our world. Everyone is looking for it, everyone want's to find it, and most will do everything in their power to attain it, but the majority miss it. Some will find lust, others will be lonely, and few will find what the world calls love, but what God calls Love is something else entirely, and very few find it. This is because God is Love, perfect Love, not worldly love or lust, but actual Love in the sense that He died so that we may experience that Love in Life. Because although the wages of sin is death...


I'm deeply sorry I haven't posted in a while, but I assure you that I plan to change that, and if the Lord will's I will have another good post up here sooner than later.

Godspeed.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Top 10 Church Traditions/Teachings NOT Found in the Bible


I want to ask you all something and I want you to think long and hard about it before you decide (if you decide) to answer. How many "biblical" teachings and church traditions have you been taught or participated in that are NOT in the Bible? Read it again one more time:

How many "biblical" teachings and church traditions have you been taught or participated in that are NOT in the Bible?

I'm sure that you, like me, were taught a number of non-biblical teachings growing up that don't actually have any biblical significance or truth to them at all. As I continue to grow in the Word through sermons, prayer, and reading Scripture, it has become clear to me that there are so many people, especially Christians themselves, who are taught many different things about the Bible and Christianity as a whole. Today I want to uncover some of these teachings that aren't actually biblical in nature and give my Scripture evidence for my views.

However before I start I want to put up a little DISCLAIMER saying this: If you can find me any evidence for any of these points below actually being biblical, then I will add that evidence to this article and will also look at the topic through that point of view. I want evidence from Scripture itself though, I don't care what biblical teachers or pastors are saying if it doesn't line-up with the Word of God. PLEASE check this all for yourself, don't take my word or opinions for it as truth, do your own research into these things as I have, pray and ask the Lord to reveal His truths to you. This being said, let's begin...

  1. Pre-Tribulation Rapture - Probably the biggest church deception of them all, the pre-tribulation rapture, believe it or not, is not actually supported in Scripture by Jesus or the Apostle/Prophet John. In fact, when His disciples ask Jesus about the "End Times" in Matthew 24, Jesus has a pretty different view of the church's role during the events of the Apocalypse... In His description of these times, Jesus says that there will be wars (and rumors of them), famines, pestilences, earthquakes, and then believers would be persecuted (Matthew 24:6-13). Later Jesus talks AGAIN about the tribulation saying that it will be worse than anything the world has ever seen but that for the sake of the elect (believers) the days will be shortened (Matt. 24:21-22), which clearly means that believers will be present. Notice throughout verses 1-22 which all talk about persecution and tribulation not once does Jesus mention an escape, rather He tells us the exact opposite! However, finally in verses 30-31, Jesus mentions His return after the Tribulation where He sends His angels to collect the believers still on the Earth. Many believe that these are Tribulation-saints, and that very well could be, but Jesus still doesn't tell us that pre-tribulation believers disappear before it all starts. Many will cite 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 when talking about the Rapture, that we will meet Jesus "in the clouds", but here's the thing, Jesus is only coming back to Earth once, He's not coming to get His people, leaving, and then coming back again to destroy the armies of darkness. It's called His Second Coming for a reason. So when this verse talks about believers who are going to be raised to Heaven when Christ returns, it's talking about those who have survived Tribulation as well as those who were martyred during that time. Revelation 6:9-11 actually talks about those martyrs whose blood is crying out to the Lord to take vengeance on the world for their deaths! Revelation talks once more about people living during the Tribulation who are spared from the plagues and different judgments on the Earth (not including persecution for Christ) because the Lord has marked their foreheads (Rev. 9:4)! As someone who has read through Revelation numerous times (as it is one of my favorite books), I have never understood or bought into the Pre-Tribulation Rapture, Jesus' own words in Matthew 24 are honestly enough for me not to believe it. You would think if His disciples asked Him about the End Times that He would say a sign of it is the Rapture or "people/believers will disappear", but that's not what He says, He says the elect will be persecuted. This is not to say that the Pre-Trib Rapture's impossible, in fact it would be great not to have to deal with persecution and tribulation, but this is not a biblical reality. We have to remember that as believers, Earth is the closest thing we get to Hell and that evil still rules over this place, at least for the moment.
  2. Spiritual Gifts Are No Longer in Use - This one is just ridiculous honestly... I don't really understand how people can believe this one other than because they're afraid of what they don't understand (hence why Scripture talks about having a healthy "fear of God"). Other sub-categories that could get roped into this one include "Acts is a transitional book", "prophets and prophecies have no place these days", "the spiritual gifts left with the Apostles", etc. Honestly, these are all bogus and seem to not have any actual scriptural foundation, but I'm going to try and find some anyway... I talked about this is greater detail in my last article (which I'll link to HERE), but since this is important I'm going to try and do my best to touch on this topic. For those who don't believe in prophecy, I want you to understand that my Dad had a heart attack back in March of this past year (if you would like to read the story of the miracle that was this event, please feel free to do so by clicking the like HERE). Now, in terms of proving the gift of prophecy this seems a bit off and unhelpful, however one of my closest friends was given a word from the Lord last July (eight months before the even) that my Dad was going to have a heart attack if he continued to be disobedient. Sure enough, when it happened I immediately knew it was fulfillment of that prophecy and immediately God worked in and through the situation and saved my Dad's life, completely restoring his body. Now, this is a personal example, but what about a biblical example of why spiritual gifts are still here... Well, to put it simply, THE BIBLE NEVER SAYS THAT THEY LEFT!!! 1 Corinthians 14 talks about how spiritual gifts should work in a church-setting and many other books in the New Testament spend a decent amount of time talking about the good uses and abuses of these gifts and how they should be handled. Now my question here is, since we are STILL in the New Covenant (which the early church was in also) and we have the complete New Testament, then should we just cut out all the information about gifts and label it "inapplicable"? ABSOLUTELY NOT! I don't believe that's what we're supposed to do at all! In Acts 2:17-19, Scripture tell us that in the Last Days (which most believe to be the time between Jesus' Ascension and Return) the Spirit would be poured out on all flesh and that people would have visions and dreams and would prophesy (not to mention that signs and wonders would take place on Earth)! Now, if we're going to believe Scripture when it says during the Last Days, we can't pick-and-choose when during the Last Days this takes place, we have to take it on faith that Scripture literally means the Last Days (as in all of it!). Jesus says in John 14:12 that we (as in believers) will do greater things here on Earth than He did, and seeing as how the greatest things Jesus did here were miracles, then what else could our "greater things" possibly be? Come on Church, let's go!
  3. All Believers Can Speak in Tongues - 1 Corinthians 12:30 dismisses this one pretty quick. I've heard this one before and quite frankly although I do believe that the more we ask from the Lord the more we'll receive, 1 Corinthians 12 makes it pretty clear that not everyone has the same spiritual gifts. This is a very short section because this one is pretty straight-forward and doesn't require a whole lot of extra thought. - Also side-note, many people believer that the gift of tongues HAS to be spoken in languages known to man but Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 13:1 that speaking in tongues of angels is possible... Just some food for thought.
  4. Believers are Sinners Like Everyone Else - Now, I want to be VERY careful with this one because it could be immediately taken the wrong way, but please bare with me here so I can explain. Everybody, believers included, sins. Sin is our curse, it is the Darkness that we chose over God, the Light, in the beginning. Although Jesus conquered Sin and Death on Calvary, Sin & Death still rule over and plague our world, in fact they still torment us as believers as well. However, throughout Romans, Paul makes a very clear distinction between the lost and the found, the sinners and the saints. Throughout the first seven chapters of Romans, Paul talks about the "wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:23) as well as other verses which discuss sin and it's role in our lives in greater detail. Then we get to Romans 8:1, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." Immediately the tone of Romans changes from depressing, hopeless, and bleak into something full of hope and love and peace (granted chapter seven does this too, but eight seems more upfront and powerful about it). It is here that we realize that our identity is no longer that of a sinner, but as 2 Corinthians 5:21 puts it, "the righteousness of God"! Starting with verse six, Romans 10 talks about confessing our righteousness through sharing the Gospel! Romans 14:23 also talks about those who are NOT in faith are sin, which means that through logic we can determine that those in faith are NOT sin but in fact righteousness which both Romans and 2 Corinthians (at least) support. Again, I'm not saying that as believers we never sin, we still do, but we are no longer condemned for our sin as we once were because of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. Yeah, we still mess up and we can still be in sin for a season (look at David, the man after God's own heart), but we cannot live a lifestyle of sin any longer, we must be living a life of righteousness so that we can proclaim righteousness. Christians sin yes, but our identity is no longer that of a sinner.
  5. Demons are just Fallen Angels/Angels Cannot Have Sex - These ones are interesting because most churches teach that demons are simply fallen angels that use astral projection from their prisons to possess people & that angels can't have sex because they're spiritual beings but this is also not something supported by Scripture. Let's first talk about why Angels and Demons are probably two separate entities (if you want to read about these topics in MUCH greater detail, read Minister Dante Fortson's book "Beyond Flesh and Blood" which I believe has very interesting and scripturally sound ideas on angels and demons, I don't agree with everything he says but he brings up many interesting topics in this book). Angels are shown in Scripture to be both good (like Michael and Gabriel) and evil (like Lucifer), they are able to appear as men (the two angels to Lot in Genesis 19, Gabriel to Mary in Luke 1, the sons of God in Genesis 6, the idea that we could be entertaining angels in Hebrews 13:2, Lucifer to Jesus in Matthew 4, etc.), and Angels are seen to have telekinetic power (Acts 12:7). Demons on the other hand are only ever shown to be evil, cannot appear as people but instead possess vessels (for example, Legion in Mark 5:1-20 and Luke 8:26-39), and they have been known to have an immunity to fire (Matt. 17:15). The passage most people use to suggest that demons are in fact fallen angels is Jude 1:6, but I would suggest that these angels which are bound in chains are the same angels found in Genesis 6 who had sexual relations with the human women in order to produce the Nephilim aka the giants. My reason for saying this is because we clearly see at the beginning of the Book of Job that Satan and his angels (who we also see fighting against Michael the Archangel in Revelation 12, which wouldn't make sense if they were already imprisoned for judgement) are able to enter into God's throne room (or at least Satan is). Is Satan not a fallen angel? Well actually, yeah, he definitely is! This all being said, I think based on these scriptures alone we can tell that Angels and Demons have different abilities and based on that are probably not the same thing, however that is not an idea I'm married to. Honestly, this one's tricky because although Scripture seems to show Angels and Demons as two different entities with two different power-sets and two different uses it's always possible that they are one-in-the-same, it is a question I have long pondered the answer to. But moving to the Angels cannot have sex bit, it's said in Matthew 22:30 that when believers enter Heaven, people won't marry or be given in marriage like the Holy Angels of Heaven, which is true! But there's one problem with this, clearly Genesis 6 tells us that the Sons of God (same phrase used to describe angels in the Book of Job) came down and married the daughters of men to produce the giants. "But angels can't marry, so these must not actually be angels!" That is a false statement, Angels in HEAVEN cannot/do not marry, but it says nothing about Fallen Angels, which could be why God was even more displeased with them after their initial rebellion with Satan and cast those angels into chains like Jude 1:6 talks about. The whole point of Fallen Angels is that they are sinful creatures and enjoy sin as mankind does, so of course they would do something to displease God! (Not to mention you don't physically have to be married to have sex and we already know that angels can turn themselves into physical beings if necessary as we read about angels touching people in Scripture all the time)
  6. Baby Baptisms - I don't know if this is a bad church tradition or not, but I do know that Scripture doesn't tell us to baptize our children as baptism is a sign of a new life in Christ, a born again believer. I don't have any direct scripture to show you about baby baptisms because Scripture doesn't talk about it at all, but I can direct you to Ephesians 4:5 which says, "One Lord, one faith, ONE baptism." Again, I don't know if there's anything necessarily wrong with wanting to baptize your newborn other than it not being an indication of their faith as that is still a choice they will have to make for themselves.
  7. Satan is just a Metaphor - Believe it or not I've heard this one in churches before where they use Satan as this bogeyman who isn't really real and is more taboo than anything else, but let me reassure you, Satan is indeed real and Earth is his domain. I shouldn't really have to prove that Satan is real to you, if you read Genesis 3 you know he tempted Eve, if you read Job 1-2 you know he began tormenting Job, if you read Matthew 4 you know he physically encountered and tempted Jesus, and if you've read Revelation you know how his story ends. The Devil isn't a mad-up story to scare kids or a short red guy with horns and a pitchfork, he's a fallen angel who was once Lucifer (Ezekiel 28, Isaiah 14), one of the greatest angels, who decided he didn't want to serve God but be him, or at least equal to him. So he rebelled and now he continues his rebellion here on Earth, but he won't be in power for very much longer because when Jesus returns he's going to throw Satan into the Lake of Fire, which was originally created as punishment for him and his fellow fallen angels.
  8. Apostles No Longer Exist - I want to clarify before I get into this too deep, the 12 Apostles (Peter, James, John, Andrew, Phillip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, Jude, Simon, and Paul) are long gone, they all (save John) were martyred for Christ and they themselves no longer exist. However, many would say that an apostle (not one of the 12) is someone who has witnessed the resurrected Jesus. This is the definition that I usually read the word by, especially when apostles are mentioned as part of the church body in 1 Corinthians 12! 1 Corinthians 12:28 says that, "And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues." I'm a strong believer in reading Scripture literally because honestly if we read it all as figurative or metaphor then we lose most of our practical application to it. In this verse, Paul makes it clear that everything and everyone has a place in the church and gives up a structure of how the church should look (take note, this is not a verse from Acts and therefore is not "transitional"), including apostles. Now why would he, in the current Bible we hold in our hands, talk about the role of apostles in the church if the 12 were to eventually die out as well as the others who saw Jesus after His resurrection? I think it's for the same reason that the Lord appeared to him, remember, Jesus only appeared to Paul-then-Saul AFTER He had already been taken back up into Heaven. This means that Paul was a witness of Christ after Jesus had already left Earth. So, when we hear the stories of fellow believers coming to Christ because they saw Him in a dream or He appeared to them to change their life & we hear these radical stories of redemption through a personal encounter with Jesus, why do most people mock, scoff, or disregard these testimonies? The Apostles didn't do that to Paul, he became the primary writer of the New Testament and didn't even spend three years with Christ!!! "Well he is an Apostle and he's important!" HE WAS A MAN LIKE YOU AND I WHO JUST SO HAPPENED TO ENCOUNTER JESUS, HE WAS NOTHING SPECIAL. I know a fellow believer who has personally seen the Lord and let me tell you his life is now fully dedicated to Him. If an apostle is someone who has seen Jesus first hand and their life has been radically changed, then they are still around. Sure, they may not be the Twelve, but believe me when I say that Jesus still does reveal Himself to people as He did to Paul and because of it people are radically changed from the inside-out.
  9. Peter's Death - Many people are taught and believe (myself included for the longest time until I read the Bible) that the Apostle Peter died hanging upside-down on a cross. This is something that really isn't all that significant when it comes down to it, but it is one of the biggest church teachings that isn't necessarily biblically accurate, though unlike most of the ones I've already highlighted above, this one could actually really be true. Although Scripture doesn't tell us HOW Peter died, Jesus did tell him in John 21:18-19, or at least hint, that he would die a martyr. Even though we don't have record of how exactly Peter died, in Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History 2.25.5-8, St. Jerome says that it was Peter's request to die upside-down on the cross because he didn't feel worthy to die as his Lord did. Now, this isn't Scripture, so we can't take this as gospel truth (and I wouldn't dream of it), but based on it being a more historical book it's entirely possible that this account of Peter's death could be true. Like I said, it's not in Scripture so I'm not immediately inclined to believe it, but I am also not going to rule it out either.
  10. If You Do Enough Good, You Can Get Into Heaven - This is by far the biggest and ugliest lie contrary to Scripture that the Western church has taught, and they've been doing it for around 100 years if not longer. Following the Ten Commandments, teachings of Jesus, and being a good person are all good things, but doing that and not believing in Jesus Christ as your LORD and SAVIOR, placing your faith and trust in Him for your salvation, means you're still going to Hell. You won't be in Heaven with the Father, you won't ever see Jesus, and you won't live forever in paradise. You see, according to Romans 3:10, there are none who are righteous/good, not one. That means for all the good you do, and you may be a good person by the world's standards, it doesn't mean anything, one sin makes you evil and you are not good. This is a choice and we continue to make it, even believers although no longer sinners by nature continue to sin because that is what our flesh is screaming for. Goodness doesn't get you into Heaven, rather goodness is a by-product of the Holy Spirit's work inside your heart, mind, and soul. Paul says later in Romans 10:9, after explaining the hope of Jesus, "that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God that raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." I'd say that's pretty straight forward. Romans 10:9 as well as John 3:16 and Ephesians 2:8-9 (among many others) really give us a clear picture of what salvation really is! It doesn't mean life is perfect, Jesus never once promised such a thing (we DON'T have our best life now!), but it does mean that He loves us and that in turn we are to love in order to share the Gospel. It's not about rules, principles, or religion, if it was Jesus would've hung out with the Pharisees and they would've been His disciples, no, it's about a relationship with Jesus Christ. What do you say, are you in?
I hope that this article has been helpful to you. I sometimes hesitate writing these articles because I don't want to be a negative person or negative towards the Church, but it's been on my heart lately to share with you all (whomever read this far anyway) and again I pray that you would take everything said here today to the Lord in prayer and fasting and do the research on your own to see what you believe about each of these topics. As a Body, the Bride of Christ, we need to stand united, not separated by personal opinions/beliefs or denominations but united in Christ (1 Corinthians 1:10), because honestly times are changing and major change is coming to our world and if we're to be the Light of the World then we need to get our act together and get ready, because the King is Coming Soon!

Monday, May 18, 2015

What Has Happened to the Spirit?


There are many teachers out there who either completely ignore the Holy Spirit and then there are others who solely teach on the Holy Spirit. Oftentimes these are called evangelicals and charismatics. I personally don't identify with either. As a BIBLE believing Christian who doesn't follow specific pastors, teachers, leaders, etc., I rely solely on what Scripture tells us about the Holy Spirit and what He brings to us/what comes with Him.

Now, there are churches like Bethel in Redding, California that seem to get into some weird things when it comes to the Spirit and spiritual gifts (including grave sucking/soaking aka necromancy... Read more on that one HERE), and whether or not these things are true about Bethel, if they are then they're not only going against what Scripture says, but they're also in sin while doing so! Here is what Bill Johnson has said regarding this subject,
"There are anointings, mantles, revelations and mysteries that have lain unclaimed, literally where they were left because the generation that walked in them never passed them on. I believe it's possible for us to recover realms of anointing, realms of insight, realms of God that have been untended for decades simply by choosing to reclaim them and perpetuate them for future generations." - Bill Johnson
Now, I believe in anointings sure, I believe that the Spirit anoints certain people for certain tasks, but grave sucking or taking someone else's anointing is not at all biblical. But I do want to be fair here, the brother of one of our fellow brothers in Christ goes to Bethel in order to be taught how to use spiritual gifts and one of my best friends is considering it as well, I don't think Bethel is evil but I also am personally very weary of them as they are dangerously close to being on the extremest side of the charismatic movement.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have people like John MacArthur who are convinced, and have convinced others who seem to follow him blind, that spiritual gifts aren't really a thing and that things like tongues, healings, and raising the dead are of the Devil (Read more on that one HERE)! Here's a quote from a sermon MacArthur did about how he really feels about the use of the Spirit,
"...visions, revelations, voices from heaven, messages from the Spirit through transcendental means, dreams, speaking in tongues, prophecies, out of body experiences, trips to heaven, anointings, miracles. All false, all lies, all deceptions attributed falsely to the Holy Spirit..." - John MacArthur
Now, not only does he not use any specific Scripture to back this statement up, but he also seems to be missing the point of the Holy Spirit and what SCRIPTURE actually says the Spirit will do in the Last Days (which most believe is the time between Jesus' return to Heaven and His Second Coming here on Earth). But before we get into that let me leave you with a question here, how is MacArthur, based on what we read here, any different than a Pharisee? They all believed in Scripture, they all believed the head-knowledge, they understood prophecy, miracles, etc., but they called Christ a devil simply because He did those things. Now, we know MacArthur believes in Christ, but if he's going to persecute his people for doing what Christ did then how is he any different than those who did it to Christ? Like most of the Church, MacArthur seems to have a religious spirit, the only "strange fire" that seems to be around him is his.

But that all being said, I don't want to pick on either Bethel OR MacArthur (I own a MacArthur study Bible for goodness sakes & the church I go to loves him) or anyone else on either side of the church spectrum, I think (and pray) they all have a heart for the Lord but I believe both are slightly misguided on the role of the Holy Spirit and how He relates to the Church. So let's talk about, based on Scripture, what the role of the Holy Ghost is in the Church and what we are to do with Him...

1. Teaching us about Jesus Christ: The Holy Spirit was sent to us because Jesus was to go back to Heaven to prepare for His Second Coming, to prepare for His final battle. But before He left He told His disciples that the Spirit would be who teaches to us about Christ. John 16:12-14 tells us that the Spirit WILL glorify Christ as Lord and that He would also take what is Christ's and declare it to us. This means all that is Jesus', all that He could do, we are given authority to do! John 14:26 also talks about this. We'll talk more on that later...

2. He is here to comfort us: As I said above, John 14:26 talks about the Spirit being sent to teach us, but it's also called the Comforter in this passage! Comfort us from what? Well, that's simple, persecution. You see, Matthew 10:22 and John 15:18 both specifically tell us that the world will HATE us because of Jesus. Not every single person, but the world as a whole. Think about being at a school where everyone hated you no matter what and there was nothing you could do to convince them otherwise! You would need someone to be with you, comfort you, and be a friend in your time of need. This is what the Spirit does, He helps us to press on no matter our circumstances.

3. He convicts us of our sin: Whether or not you want it, when we give our lives to the service or Christ, the Spirit is given full authority to convict us of sin, hidden or open, and He continues to until either we repent or numb Him away. John 16:8 is where we find this is Scripture.

4. Special gifts: Here is where some people begin to freak out but quite frankly if Scripture doesn't freak you out on some level then there's something wrong with you (go read Matthew 7, that'll make you faint...). But here's the deal, the Holy Spirit is also here to allow us believers to have spiritual gifts! I don't care if you believe in them or not, but this is what the Bible itself says! Any information I'm going to be giving now comes from direct Scripture, so watch out! According to 1 Corinthians 12:7, every believer has at least ONE gift from the Spirit. Earlier in the chapter, Paul tells us that it is only by the Spirit of God that someone can say "Jesus is Lord" and if someone is blaspheming Christ they don't have the Spirit. Romans 12:3-8 and 1 Corinthians 12 both tell us that spiritual gifts ARE given by the Spirit in order to allow the Church to work together, meet needs, and glorify God, specifically Jesus Christ!

This all being said, there are various different spiritual gifts! Speaking in tongues is one (Acts 2:1-4, and don't give me that "Acts is transitional" thing please, it is still applicable in terms of gifts as well), prophecy is one (look at the Apostle John's Revelation as well as Acts 2:17 which specifically tells us that DURING the Last Days people would have visions, dreams, and prophesy, and don't forget Romans 12:6), healings and miracles (1 Corinthians 12:29-31 tells us that not everyone has these gifts but that we are to desire more as we grow in Christ implying that they can be given to us), and of course interpreting tongues is also included in 1 Corinthians 12:30. There seem to be a lot of people in the Church today who believe that prophets are dead, apostles are dead (all apostle means is "one who is sent out" by the way, and if an apostle is someone who has seen Christ as some say than there are definitely still apostles today because He still reveals Himself to some in order that they believe), and that gifts aren't around anymore, that we can't apply what happened in Acts to our lives today because it's "transitional". No, those are lies from the pit of Hell, in fact Jesus said that we who believe will do greater things than He did (John 14:12)! If we can do greater miracles than Jesus and we're not then what are we doing Church?

5. Helps us achieve the Fruits of the Spirit: The final big point that the Holy Spirit is here to help us accomplish is that of the Fruits of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 tells us that included in the Spirits character/fruits are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (or in the KJV it reads, "...love, joy peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance..."). "Against such things there is no law." the verse goes on to say. You see, with the Spirit we are able to conform to the image of Christ, the image of God, imago dei, but without it we are simply in the image of Adam, the image of sin, we have no life or power without that of the Spirit!

Conclusion: I know at the beginning of this article I was a bit harsh on both Bethel and MacArthur and I only use those two specific examples because I know people who love both and even seem to be blinded by that love for both, but here's the deal the Spirit is real and powerful and knows wolves from sheep. Something we forget as believes is that we worship God the Father (as we should), we worship Jesus Christ, the source of our salvation, our Lord (as we should), but we either forget or ignore the Holy Spirit and what He can do through us if we actually believe He can! We forget that the Holy Spirit is as much God as the Father and Son! Matthew 12:32, Hebrews 9:14, and Psalm 139:7-8 each talk about the power, importance, and holiness of the Spirit, only things that are or can be attributed to God. We need to remember that the Spirit is just as important as the other two-thirds of the Holy Trinity, but we must also remember that we should not use His work as an excuse to cause division in the Church! We should remember that Jesus Christ is LORD, that He is the source of our salvation, and that He is who we believe in and put our faith and trust in to be SAVED! The Holy Spirit is who comes after, who arrives due to prayer (it took ten days for the Apostles in Acts 1-2...), and not only teaches and comforts us, but pushes us into the image of Christ and allows us to do the impossible through faith, if only we believe.

Godspeed

Michael J. Petty

P.S. For those wondering the image above is a picture of the Holy Spirit as drawn in the Archangels: The Saga comic book series (a Christian series obviously) that ran nine issues. It's a fantastic series and would highly recommend it for anyone interested.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Super Powers in the Bible


In my opinion, one of the coolest things about the Bible is the idea that people in both the Old and New Testament were given "super powers" by the Lord without them having to be bit by a radioactive spider, get bombarded with gamma rays, or come from a doomed planet. Obviously the coolest thing about the Bible is the fact that we are saved by grace through faith alone in Jesus Christ when we repent of our sins, believe in His sacrifice, and strive to do the will of the Father (and no, I'm not promoting a works-based salvation here guys...). What an amazing gift, am I right?

That being said, another really cool thing about the Bible, as I said before, is that some of the most famous biblical characters HAD SUPER POWERS! Maybe they didn't have them all the time, and technically they were called "miracles" or "signs and wonders", but in today's world where The Avengers, X-Men, and Superman are so popular we would know them as "super powers" or "abilities".

Let's start off with some of the most obvious...

Super Strength - This one is perhaps the most apparent as seen in Scripture and that is Samson's very own super strength. In Judges 14:5-6, we see that Samson actually kills a lion with his bear hands. Now, I don't know about you, but I'm not sure that I could ever do that! Later in verse 19 we find out that he kills 30 men down at Ashkelon! I mean, wow! Thirty men? All by himself? Yep, that's Samson! But it doesn't stop there... In Judges 15:14-17, not only does Samson break out of the bounds that he was entangled in, but after picking up a donkey's jawbone, he took out a thousand men. I don't know about you, but that's some strength! Now, unfortunately, Samson, much like Solomon, had a weakness: women. Because of Delilah, his hair (the source of his strength) was cut and he was tortured, blinded, afflicted, humiliated, and made into a slave by his enemies... A woman was a terrible trade-off Samson... However, in Judges 16:25-30, Samson realizes his mistakes and his rejection of the Lord and prays that one last time his strength would return so he could avenge his two eyes and fulfill the will of the Lord against the Philistines. God answered his prayer and as his hair returned, so did his strength and he brought down the building that he was imprisoned in, taking out more Philistines through his death than he did in his life. It's a shame Samson didn't live longer, he could have gone up against Goliath and his brothers (who very possibly had super strength of their own, especially since we know how much armor & weaponry Goliath carried)... That would have been an awesome fight!

Super Speed - The second super power I'm going to talk about that seen in Scripture is one that a lot of people read over and/or miss. In fact, I couldn't tell you how I originally heard of this passage (because I only heard about it originally, I did not read it myself at first), but that doesn't make it any less cool! In 1 Kings 18, at the end of the chapter (verses 40-46), Elijah has an encounter with King Ahab where he tells him to head back to Jezreel from Mount Carmel and to make sure that the rain doesn't stop him. Verse 46 says that the "hand of the LORD" was upon Elijah and that he ran before Ahab and his chariots, beating them to Jezreel. I don't know about you, but that sure sounds like super speed to me, and super speed that would make Quicksilver & The Flash jealous!

Healing Factor - Although many of you are probably thinking of the X-Men/Avengers character Wolverine's immediate self-healing factor, that's actually not what I'm talking about here. All throughout Scripture there are accounts of people being healed! Whether it's healing from disease, sickness, blindness, lameness, being risen from the dead, or healed from demons/possession, healing is actually a common theme throughout Scripture because, well, Jesus was the ultimate healer who died for our sins, healing us from the Curse, therefore allowing us into Heaven one day! How cool is that? Acts 5:15 tells us that Peter was so filled with the Spirit that his shadow could heal people! We know full well that Jesus raised Lazarus (and Himself) from the dead, but the Apostles brought people back too, like Tabitha (also known as Dorcas) in Acts 9:36-42. Not to mention, when Jesus came back to life, not only was He alive once again, but His wounds were healed, leaving only scars to prove that He was the Christ (In Luke 24:39, He tells his Disciples to look at His hands and feet as proof). Healing, in fact, still goes on today. We don't see it as much in America because we rely so much on medicine and science to help us, but in many countries around the world supernatural healings are still a common occurrence, and can be here too if we allow ourselves to see/believe in them.

Flight - Believe it or not, this one is actually in the Bible. More commonly known as the "Ascension of Jesus", Mark 16:19, Luke 24:50-52, and Acts 1:9-11 all talk about Jesus being "carried up to Heaven" and being "received by a cloud". I don't know about you, but that sounds to me like Jesus floated, of flew, back up to Heaven (though He may have just teleported between dimensions, Scripture isn't exact on the details), and that's really cool! Many people also believe that angels can fly as well, especially since in Isaiah 6:2 it's mentioned that the Seraphim class of angels had six wings (most likely used for flying, I mean come on, what else are wings used for?). Though no human in Scripture, at least to my knowledge and if I'm wrong let me know, has been given the ability to fly, with the exception of Jesus (who we have to remember was also FULLY GOD as well as fully man).

Invisibility/Teleportation - Now, let me be clear here, invisibility and teleportation are actually two entirely different abilities. Invisibility is simply the ability to make yourself appear as if you are not there at all, at least to the human eye, while teleportation is traveling from one place to another simultaneously. Invisibility is definitely something Scripture talks about in relation to God as Colossians 1:15 says, "The Son is the image of the Invisible God." Based on this Scripture, we know that God is invisible, or at the very least can make Himself be. Now, Acts 12:10, Luke 22:43, and Judges 6:21 (and many other places in the Bible) all talk about angels appearing and disappearing. Some instances, like the one from Judges 6, are clearly showing that the angels can make themselves visible to one person or animal and not the other, but the other passages are a little trickier when looked at closely leaving it up to interpretation whether or not angels can teleport or simply turn invisible. When watching A.D. The Bible Continues, the way they show Jesus' ascension, He kinda teleports up to Heaven, He doesn't actually float up into the air. I don't honestly know how it happened exactly, but in that instance, flight or teleportation make the most sense!

Shapeshifting - This ability we see very on in Scripture, in the third chapter of Genesis to be exact. If Genesis 3's reference to Satan as a serpent are meant to be taken literally (not to mention Revelation's reference to him as a dragon), then we must assume that the Devil can change his shape/appearance to look like whatever pleases him. In 2 Corinthians 11:14 we know that he can make himself look like an "angel of light", even when he clearly is not. On some level, the Word becoming flesh in Jesus Christ (John 1:14) is in and of itself a form of shapeshifting! We also know that in Scripture angels can make themselves appear as men. We don't know what angels look like in their natural spiritual form, but they can certainly take on physical form, often appearing as men to Abraham, Lot, Mary, Zechariah, and others.

Elemental Control - I know the immediate thought for most here is to Avatar: The Last Airbender, and honestly, that's kinda accurate. We of course know the story in Exodus about Israel crossing the Red Sea after God, through Moses, parted it (hydrokinesis aka water-bending), but that's not all. In the New Testament, Jesus actually uses the ability of hydrokinesis on two distinct occasions. The first is in Mark 4:35-41 where Jesus calms the raging storm on the Sea of Galilee with just his voice. Now, I know that Jesus is FULLY GOD, so this power is certainly part of His divine nature, but when He was on Earth He was also fully man, therefore making this ability still a miracle and, by my definition, a "super power". The second time He uses this ability is in Matthew 14:22-33 where He walks on water. I read a blog post somewhere about the "super powers" of the Bible, and they called this "Jesus, Like a Non-Useless Aquaman" (Aquaman is actually not useless, but it's still pretty funny). In fact, Peter also walked on the water in the same passage, until he took his eyes off the Lord. 2 Kings 2:11 tells us that the prophet Elijah was take to Heaven in a whirlwind (air-bending) not to mention the Lord leading Israel in the desert with a pillar of air during the day and one of fire (pryokinesis or fire-bending) during the night. We also know that as believers, our faith can move mountains (earth-bending) as told in Matthew 17:20. Revelation 7:1 also tells us that the angels have control over the winds across the four corners of the Earth.

Prophecy - Now, this may not be considered a "superpower" per se as much as it is a revelation from God, but all throughout Scripture the Lord has allowed his prophets (including His Son) to foretell future events, some of which have already come true and some which will still come to pass. Elijah, Daniel, Samuel, Elisha, John the Apostle, John the Baptist, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jesus, and many others throughout Scripture prophesied about what would happen to Israel and her enemies, the Church, Jesus' coming and death, His Second Coming, the events of the End Times and the rebuilding of the Temple. All this and more found all throughout the Word!

Telepathy - We know that God is omnipotent and omnipresent (and one more I'm forgetting), so clearly we know the Lord is able to read our minds! While on Earth, Jesus knew what was on people's minds often, to the point where He knew that Judas would betray Him long before he did. We also know that angels can enter dreams based on their interaction with Jacob and Joseph in Genesis 28 & 31 as well as Matthew 1-2.

Cross-Dimensional Travel - Genesis 28:12 (Jacob's Ladder) talks about angels moving in between Heaven and Earth, in 2 Kings 2 we see that Elijah traveled from Earth to Heaven, and of course Jesus went back to Heaven forty days after He conquered Death. Being able to enter dreams as talked about above may be considered part of this category as well though I'm not entirely sure.

Telekinesis - Acts 12:7 talks about how Peter's chains fell off his hands after an angel appeared to him. As said before, in Matthew 17:20 Jesus tells us that we have the power (through faith) to move mountains. Whether this is metaphorical or literal is up debate, but nevertheless.

Witchcraft - Now we're getting into the evil superpowers of the Bible... Witchcraft is condemned by God as sin Deuteronomy 18:9-12 tells us that omens, witchcraft, spells, divination, and consulting the dead is "detestable" (or in other translations, an abomination) to God. Saul consulted the witch from Endor and had her bring "Samuel" (actually conjuring a demon) up from the underworld to talk to him (1 Samuel 28) and Pharaoh's magicians created snakes to combat Moses' in Exodus 7. Witchcraft is definitely a "superpower" in the Bible, but unlike the abilities above is not one that could potentially be used by good AND evil, ONLY the Enemy. For more on why magic is evil, check out my article on it HERE.

Possession - Much like telepathy or "dream travel", possession involved invading someone's mind, though in this case here I am solely referring to demonic possession. Demonic possession is less a superpower and more an ability that demons can use to torture and destroy mankind. In fact, over 2,000 demons can even possess one body at a time as seen in the story about Legion in Matthew 8, Mark 5, and Luke 8. During possession, demons often physically harm the body they are "wearing" or those of others while being given enhanced super-strength as well as being able to survive drowning and falling into fire (Matthew 17:15). Possession is a scary ability that only demons have, though I supposed the Lord could if He wanted too, but there's not scriptural evidence that He does or has. This is strictly and evil ability used by demons.

So there you all have it! This is an extensive list of some (as I'm sure I've missed a few) of the superpowers and abilities found within both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible! I hope you've enjoyed this article and I hope it's made you even more excited about what Jesus can do and maybe do in your life in the future!

Godspeed

Michael J. Petty