Tag Archive: The Berean Call


Rugged Cross“The choice we face is not, as many imagine, between heaven and hell. Rather, the choice is between heaven and this world. Even a fool would exchange hell for heaven; but only the wise will exchange this world for heaven.” -Dave Hunt, An Urgent Call to a Serious Faith

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

eagle-nebula[1]The closer we get to Jesus’ return, the more the discussion continues migrating to outer space. The more errors that continue being exposed from evolutionary philosophies focused on planet earth, i.e. geology, genetics, etc., the more the argument gets launched deep into space.

In all the arguments and discussions involving the so-called final frontier, aliens seem to be the new missing link. The problem, however, is that even if aliens were real, they could never bring salvation to the sinful soul. They could never solve the issue of evil. They would simply serve as one more missionary field to be evangelized.

“You are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and My servant whom I have chosen: that you may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He: before Me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after Me. I, even I, am the LORD; and beside Me there is no Savior.” Isaiah 43:10-11

Below is an insightful and biblical Q&A regarding extraterrestrials from Dave Hunt (The Berean Call).
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Question: What’s your view of extraterrestrials?

Answer: “There are many biblical reasons for not accepting the idea of intelligent life beyond earth other than angels and demons.”

“First of all, it would be impossible for morally responsible humanoids anywhere in the universe to keep from sin. If they had the genuine right of choice, it must inevitably have been used to disobey God. Thus they would require salvation.”

“Secondly, Jesus Christ is the only Savior, and His death is the one and only perfect sacrifice for sins ever offered in the universe (Hb 9:23-28;10:12-14). If there are morally free agents on other planets, they would have to believe in Christ for salvation.”

“Thirdly, God has gone to great lengths to give us an historically verifiable record of His Son’s death and resurrection at the hands of eyewitnesses and this message is contained in a Bible which can be verified in many ways by the inhabitants of earth (geographically, archaeologically, etc.) and which would not be available to ETIs. It would seem both unfair and a violation of God’s way of dealing with mankind for beings elsewhere in space to be required to believe in a Savior who was crucified on a distant planet.”

“Fourthly, the Bible seems to indicate that this earth is the only such place in the universe. When Satan is cast out of heaven, he comes to earth; it is on this planet that the battle will be fought resulting in Satan’s defeat and imprisonment in the abyss; it is on this earth that Christ will reign for 1,000 years while Satan is locked up; it is to this planet that Satan will return when he is released; and it is on this planet that Satan will meet his final defeat and his eternal doom will be sealed.”

“Finally, if life happened by chance on this earth and evolved upward, then it could seemingly happen elsewhere in the universe. But if, as we believe, human life resulted from a purposeful act of God, and if sin is inevitable for such beings, and if the human soul is the prize for which Satan and God do battle, then it hardly makes sense to have this same process repeated on countless other planets throughout the cosmos.” ~Dave Hunt

 

Additional Resources: 

Son of God ImageUnfortunately two of its most popular producers, Roma Downey and Mark Burnett are practicing new age /Catholic mystics. May those planning on seeing this movie prayerfully consider researching it more before going.

More food for thought from The Berean Call,

“Astonishingly, the evangelical church is progressively sliding into idolatry as it turns from the Word of God to visual imagery. A goal of the American Bible Society is to put the entire Bible on video to accommodate our visually oriented generation (which has little interest in reading). The Jesus Film, a dramatic representation of the Gospel of Luke, has been the staple of Campus Crusade’s overseas evangelical efforts. The very Catholic movie The Passion of the Christ became a runaway box-office hit, largely due to the overwhelming support it received from evangelicals. Biblically conservative mission organizations such as Gospel for Asia are using Mel Gibson’s Hollywood production as part of its outreach program. Millions of The Passion of the Christ DVDs were purchased by evangelical churches for their Sunday schools, Bible studies, and small group meetings.

“Religious movies are on the rise (e.g., The Nativity Story, One Night with the King) as evangelicals “partner” with Hollywood and demonstrate that they are an eager and profitable market. One pastor, whose church bought out theaters for private showings of The Passion (which produced only “one conversion”) repented. He came under the conviction that rather than partnering with, his church was, in fact, “pimping for Hollywood.” As true as that may be, and as praiseworthy as his repentance was, if he doesn’t understand the serious nature (as explained above) of attempting to represent God’s Word in dramatic visual form, he is vulnerable to repeating the same error with visual idolatry.

“This is not a blanket condemnation of the film/video medium, but films cannot be used to present the Scriptures visually without becoming idolatrous. Not only are the images historically false (they are conjured up from the imagination of a screenwriter or director) but they must also conform to the mechanics of the medium (acting, cinematography, art direction, lighting, music, sound effects, etc.), which are designed to manipulate the senses and the emotions for dramatic purposes (see Showtime for the Sheep?, www.thebereancall.org a more detailed explanation).

“Biblical movies are just one trend among dozens that are contributing to weaning evangelicals off the Word of God and producing biblically illiterate Christians. This is especially true regarding our visually oriented youth. In the final part of this series, we want to give more extensive examples of movements within evangelical Christianity that are aggressively turning our next generation away from the Scriptures and toward an idolatry of experientialism.

“We serve a merciful God who can rescue a soul out of the darkest of circumstances but who will not support by His grace man’s religious ways and means in their attempts to serve Him. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD” (Isaiah:55:8). To the degree that we deviate from His way, we are lapsing into idolatry. As Jesus explained, “God is a Spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth” (John:4:24).”

Follow Up Article: The “Son of God” Movie is NOT What We Think by Blogger- The Last Hiker

When driving through a big city, it’s easy to get distracted, redirected, and even lost.  We can find our eyes quickly wandering from the road, pulled away by the bright lights and tall buildings.  Street signs are literally piled one upon another with arrows pointing in every direction, not to mention all the chaos of car horns and sirens.  Sometimes the same thing can be said when trying to navigate our Christian walk.

Truth-vs-lie 2It’s easy to get pulled in a lot of different doctrinal directions, misled by the opinions of men, especially as a young believer. God’s Word instructs us to “Be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive…” Ephesians 4:14.  Sadly, there are too many teachers willing to offer their confusing and often times contaminated philosophies to unsuspecting seekers stopping to ask directions, sending them the wrong way down bumpy avenues and dark alleys.

As a born again believer in Jesus Christ, it’s essential to diligently navigate using God’s Word, not man’s opinions or doctrines of devils. One thing that seems to get many Christians misguided in their doctrinal direction is the false notion of evolution.  If a young believer begins reading Genesis at face value it won’t be long before it occurs to him that the Genesis account of creation is in direct contrast to evolutionary teachings.  Now this young believer has a choice.  He can either ignore the first several chapters of Genesis, assuming they are mythological, he can read it as it’s written, or try to blend the evolution and literal creation accounts together.

The goal for the rest of this blog is to provide the first two of five key “sign posts” to help navigate through the concerns and confusion of the evolution vs. creation debate in hopes of keeping born again believers headed in the right direction.

signpost 5Sign Post 1:  The literal intent of Genesis.  Too often people decide to deal with the creation/evolution debate by categorizing Genesis as allegory or mythology.  The problem with this is threefold.  First, the text itself is written as a historical not an allegorical account.  Most Hebrew scholars agree that the Genesis creation account is meant to be understood historically, not simply as some metaphoric storyline. (Note: Mentioning scholars here isn’t to lift up men, but rather to make the simple point that those studying the Hebrew text as a career do have sound input for this point of the argument.)  Of course this doesn’t mean these same scholars have chosen to believe the creation account, but they do at least agree that the text itself is intended to be taken literally, not allegorically.

Dr. James Barr (Regius Professor of Hebrew at Oxford University), who himself does not believe Genesis is true history, nonetheless admitted as far as the language of Genesis is concerned that-

“So far as I know, there is no professor of Hebrew or Old Testament at any world-class university who does not believe that the writer(s) of Gen. 1–11 intended to convey to their readers the ideas that (a) creation took place in a series of six days which were the same as the days of 24 hours we now experience (b) the figures contained in the Genesis genealogies provided by simple addition a chronology from the beginning of the world up to later stages in the biblical story (c) Noah’s Flood was understood to be worldwide and extinguish all human and animal life except for those in the ark.” 1.

Making the Genesis creation account allegorical would be akin to believing your car’s navigation system was not meant to be taken literally.  This would not only add confusion, but would inevitably and continually get everyone in the car lost, rendering the navigation device useless.

Secondly, Jesus Himself quoted from Genesis as a literal text.  For example, when asked about divorce, referring to Genesis 1 and 2, He said, Have ye not read, that He which made them at the beginning made them male and female? And said, For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Matthew 19:4.  Also consider that every writer from the Bible referencing people from Genesis 1-11, i.e. Satan, Adam, Eve, Enoch, Noah, etc. always did so in a literal way. None of the men moved by the Holy Spirit to pen God’s Word ever gave even a slight indication that Genesis was anything but a true historical record.

The third issue with allegorizing the beginning chapters of Genesis is simply this: If the beginning is not historical, then where does the allegory end?  Genesis means book of beginnings.  It’s the record of the how the universe, earth, and mankind began. It’s also the account of the origin of God’s appointed nation, Israel.  There are no grammatical differences indicating chapters 12-50 are to be understood any differently than the first eleven chapters.  Therefore if the first eleven are intended to be allegorical, then why wouldn’t the rest of the book follow suit?  Ironically, those professing Christians claiming the beginning of Genesis is mythological usually don’t ascribe the same interpretive philosophy for the remainder of the book.  This is inconsistent and contradictory at best.  Genesis is meant to be read as the text is written.  Just as it is in any other book, if there are analogies or allegories, it will be clear from the text.

signpost 7Sign Post 2:  Evolution is not a science, but a religion.  Although we exist in a post-modern society, we are still heavily influenced by the philosophies of the early to mid 20th Century.  That is to say we are still quickly beguiled by whatever calls itself science.  There was a time when men believed science was going to be the answer to all the world’s problems.  The issue here is most of mankind’s real problems are caused from his own corrupted, sinful heart and science has no ability to reach the spirit of man.  So in order to supplement the innate lack within science itself and in hopes of making a total departure from the True God of the Bible, men have chosen to ascribe scientific terminology and credentials to spiritual notions.  If you put a robe on a man and place him behind a pulpit he appears religious, however if you put a lab coat on the same man and place him behind a lectern, he appears knowledgeable and scientific regardless of how existential his teachings are.   This is probably the most important sign post of all.  So many people have been duped into believing that evolution is scientific when in fact nothing could be further from the truth. (Note: Due to the overview nature of this article, I will not delve too deeply into this sign post, but because of its importance, several links are provided below for further study.)  Considering the following quotes by two non-Christians:

“In fact, evolution became in a sense a scientific religion; almost all scientists have accepted it and many are prepared to ‘bend’ their observations to fit in with it.” (British physicist, H.S. Lipson)2.

“Evolution is promoted by its practitioners as more than mere science. Evolution is promulgated as an ideology, a secular religion—a full-fledged alternative to Christianity, with meaning and morality. I am an ardent evolutionist and an ex-Christian, but I must admit in this one complaint. . . the literalists [i.e., creationists] are absolutely right. Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today.” (Michael Ruse, History and Philosophy Professor, Author of The Darwinian Revolution (1979),Darwinism Defended (1982), and Taking Darwin Seriously (1986). 3.

Real science, the science that builds rocket ships, makes satellites, etc. is not the same as “molecules to man” evolution.  Operational science cares nothing about the meaning of life. If interviewed, most would readily admit that the meaning of life is a spiritual, not scientific pursuit. Yet, in the ultimate sense, evolution attempts to serve as a framework with which all knowledge must be weighed against; a framework that is supposed to explain what life really is all about. Evolution is, in fact, not just a story about where all things originated from, but a story about where we are and where we’re headed.  It actually serves as the overarching historical record of everything related to this universe and mankind. The big picture of evolution really does attempt to be the answer for the origin and meaning of all life.  When all its scientific garb is stripped away, evolution is a spiritual philosophy attempting to replace God’s Word and sadly even God Himself! 

Many may also not realize that evolution, the idea that one creature has the ability to shift into a totally separate and distinct creature, is the basis for every occultic, shamanistic, and polytheistic belief system.  Consider the following quote from occult researcher and Bible apologist, Dave Hunt:

“Evolution plays a key role in the occult.  Theodore Roszak pointed out that mysticism is ‘the parent stock from which the theory of biological evolution springs.’  Anthropologist Michael Harner reminds us that ‘millennia before Charles Darwin, people in shamanic cultures were convinced that humans and animals were related.’  Evolution, as the core belief of Hinduism and witchcraft,is at least as old as the theories of reincarnation and karma, in which it is a key element.” (Dave Hunt, Occult Invasion, p. 20.)

In fact, the natural (or better stated, spiritual) progression of evolution follows that man only has one final step in his ascension.  That step — godhood.  Sadly, this is the very lie that Satan himself was self-deceived by and later fed to the entire human race. (Genesis 3:5Isaiah 14:14.)  Robert Jastrow, the founder and director for many years of the Goddard Space Institute that sent Pioneer and Voyager said, “Evolution could have been going on in some planets 10 billion years longer than on this planet, and those beings would be as far beyond man on the evolutionary scale as man is beyond a worm. And when we see them, they would seem like gods to us.” 4.

W. L. Wilmer is one of the leading authorities on masonry. In his book, The Meaning of Masonry,   he says:   “The evolution of man into superman—(see, we’re not just talking about evolving in the human beings, but evolving upward to godhood.)—the evolution of man into superman was always the purpose of the ancient mysteries. Man who has sprung from the earth and developed through the lower kingdoms of nature to his present rational state has yet to complete his evolution by becoming a godlike being, and unifying his conscience with the omniscient.” 5.

It is this writer’s biblical conviction that the philosophy of evolution will never be abandoned in the minds and hearts of men, not because it’s so essential for scientific advancement, but because evolution is utterly crucial as THE framework for spiritual deception.  Evolution is, in reality, the ultimate framework deluding billions of hearts and minds into believing they might actually have a chance to become their own gods.  Evolution is as the Bible calls it, a “science falsely so called” (1 Timothy 6:20) and stands in direct and complete opposition to God’s Word. It leads many to destruction and many believers into an ineffective walk, doubting their faith in God’s Word, fearing men instead of God.

As we choose to faithfully follow God’s Word, may we carefully consider the sign posts placed along the way.  God has lovingly given us His true and perfect Word to keep us from getting lost and from misdirecting others from the truth that is found in Jesus Christ alone.  

“Evolution is really at the heart of [the occult].   This is how we become gods, and evolution of course, causes you to believe in some kind of a force innate within the universe that is moving us in the direction of godhood.   Therefore, if you can tap into this force through yoga or some other spiritual technique, and you can accelerate your progress towards godhood and gain this power.   So evolution plays a really important role and also plays an important role, it has cost an awful young people their faith.   Of course you can’t destroy real faith, but an awful lot of young people who were in Christian homes, who believed in God, who believed in the Bible, when they are confronted by some bright professor in a university or even in high school who says, look, Genesis is a myth, that’s not the way it happened, it happened through evolution.   And because this is science speaking they believe it, well then they’ve had the rug pulled out from under them, and an awful lot of young people have turned away from God from Christianity because of evolution.” ~Dave Hunt, Audio Discussion of The Occult Invasion, Pt. 3)

“Your Word is true from the beginning.” Psalm 119:160a (KJV)

“Every word of God is pure: He is a shield unto them that put their trust in Him.” Proverbs 30:5

“Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.” Psalm 40:4

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” 2 Timothy 3:16

(Part 2: Posted Soon)

Helpful Articles for Further Study: (Please note that although all the articles below provide excellent insight to the necessity of believing a literal, 6 day creation as taught plainly in God’s Word, this blog does not necessarily support every teaching found on other websites, especially those dealing with the promotion of Calvinistic doctrines, i.e. T.U.L.I.P. and Replacement Theology.)

Footnotes:

  1. J. Barr, personal letter to David Watson, April 23, 1984.
  2. H.S. Lipson, “A Physicist Looks at Evolution”, Physics Bulletin (V. 31, n.d. 1980).
  3. Michael Ruse, “Saving Darwinism from the Darwinians,” National Post (May 13, 2000), B3.
  4. http://www.thebereancall.org/content/world-getting-ready-son-perdition
  5. http://www.thebereancall.org/content/occult-invasion-revisit-part-three-evolution-demonic

This video, courtesy of  Once Lost Ministries, is based on a previous post entitled “Christ Esteem or Esteeming Christ“.  

 

Jesus said, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” Luke 14:26-27

 

OTHER HELPFUL RESOURCES: 

Bible Light Bulb ImageLovers of Self- A Sign of the End: We live in an era that is literally saturated with pop-psychological jargon.  From the news stands to the TV to America’s school curricula, Freudian, Jungian, Adlerian, etc. philosophies have inundated the human perspective at every turn. Although men have always been lovers of self, there has never been a time in history where the solution for all men’s ills has been so falsely sold as simply having high self-esteem.

Yes, worldly thinking will continue to get worse and worse, but having it flow so pervasively throughout the body of Christ is truly a sign of the last days!  “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves… Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” 2 Timothy 3:1-2a. 3, 7

The Holy Spirit’s warning here isn’t for the world, but for the church and one of the men who has arguably most  infected the body of Christ with the false doctrine of self-esteem is Dr. James Dobson. Dobson has authored or coauthored 36 books and sold hundreds of millions of copies worldwide. The Focus on the Family radio broadcast reportedly reaches 200 millions listeners in 164 countries each day.  His grandfatherly demeanor perhaps gives the impression that his advice can only bring healing, but sadly the seeds of deceit planted by his worldly philosophies will continue producing unrighteous fruit until the Lord returns with His saints.

Dr. Dobson has unashamedly expressed innumerable times that the biggest problem in all humanity is low self-esteem. Therefore it would stand to reason that his number one solution for mankind is not the Gospel, but a good self-esteem.  In his book Hide or Seek he says,

  • “… whenever the keys to self-esteem are seemingly out of reach for a large percentage of the people, as in twentieth-century America, then widespread ‘mental illness,’ neuroticism, hatred, alcoholism, drug abuse, violence, and social disorder will certainly occur. Personal worth is not something human beings are free to take or leave. We must have it, and when it is unattainable, everybody suffers. … a sizable proportion of all human activity is devoted to the task of shielding us from the inner pain of inferiority. I believe this is to be the most dominant force in life” (Hide or Seek, pp. 20-21, 152). (Emphasis added.)

There are several excellent resources (posted below) on the subject of James Dobson and the problems with self-esteem.  The purpose of this post, however, is to expose a layer beneath this, examining a repackaged version of self-esteem that may be less easily detected.

Two Techniques: In every industry there are those talented enough to sell.  Whether it’s an idea or product, to get ahead in the business world, it is important that one understands the nature of sales. For some this comes quite naturally and for others it takes study and practice.  Two basic techniques of selling might be called “Problem/Solution” and “Repackaging”.  The first is what Dr. Dobson is famous for.  He presents the problem as being low self-esteem.  He does this by telling many stories, the kind that tug on your heart strings and before you know it your feelings end up trumping your intellect. You begin developing an emotional connection with the misinformation.  Given enough time, the listener also develops an atrophied ability to reason.  Then, after you are so emotionally invested, Dr. Dobson triumphantly declares the sole solution being a healthy self-esteem. Although this technique is worth an in depth examination, the second sales technique will be the focus for the remainder of this post.

“Repackaging” has been around since almost the beginning of time.  Satan repackaged the fruit of knowledge of good and evil as a product that would bring wisdom, not death.  After all, wisdom is a good, godly thing, right?  Yes, if it’s from the Creator.  Creation, however,can never bring men true, everlasting, and godly wisdom!  “Repackaging” can also be thought of as the Trojan Horse approach.  The whole purpose to this technique, of course, is to make whatever you’re selling seem more appealing to the person you’re selling it to.

When it comes to the idea of self-esteem, there’s most assuredly been a “repackaging” over the last several decades in hopes of making it more palatable, even to  many fundamental Christians.  The history of this modern day “repackaging” really goes back to Norman Vincent Peale and Robert Schuller. (For more, see The Berean Call’s newsletter articles “Toward the Prize” and “Psychology in Prophecy”)

Too many of today’s professing Bible teachers have continued offering millions of followers this destructive fruit as the ultimate form of wisdom, carefully keeping their teachings hidden in biblical jargon.  They talk of Jesus and godliness, yet carefully woven into their messages is the idea that Christ has come to heal us of all our negative self-concepts, that Christ has come to bring about a “healthy” self-esteem within us.  They say, “Let’s focus on Jesus”, but too often Jesus is not their ultimate goal. What many of them really mean to say is, “Let’s focus on Jesus so we can finally feel good about ourselves.”  To illustrate this better, consider this brief illustration.

  • A boy goes to school sad because he’s picked on every day and never first in line.  He’s never chosen first to be on anyone’s team at recess and at lunch he has trouble finding a place to sit.  He comes home every day feeling bad because he just isn’t popular at school.  Then one day the boy discovers a beautiful rock as he explores his backyard, a rock like no other.  It’s full of colors. Parts are shiny while other sections are clear.  When held up to the light the rock shimmers and glistens, sending the sun’s rays bouncing in every direction.  He decides to bring it to school for show and tell and immediately everyone wants to see the rock.  Suddenly the boy is the most popular kid in school.  Everyone wants to be his friend.  Then one day he loses the rock.  He looks everywhere, but can’t find it.  He reluctantly goes to school, but once the other kids find out he no longer has the rock, the boy goes back to being ordinary and quickly loses his popularity.  His sadness comes knocking and he’s quick to let it in.  A few weeks later, the boy begins digging, but this time not in the dirt, but in his Bible.  He finds another Rock, but this time it is Christ.  He finds the Savior and calls out to Jesus, asking Him to forgive his selfishness, to forgive his sinfulness against the Creator.  The boy gladly receives God’s full and free pardon and adoption into God’s family.  As the boy begins searching and studying the Word, he quickly realizes that his selfish pursuits were simply that, selfish.  He finds Galatians 2:20, Luke 9:23, and Luke 14:26 and soon begins to understand that life is not about feeling good about himself, but simply turning from self to God, serving Jesus, not the flesh.

In this little story, the boy first used a rock to make him feel good about himself. Then he found the true Rock, Jesus Christ, who taught him that Jesus isn’t here to make him feel good about himself, rather to free him from self so that he could finally begin learning about the God who is eternally good.  This story sums up what much of Christianity has become.

You see, too often the popular teachings of self-esteem have been carefully repacked to appear biblical so they will more readily be acceptable to those in the church.  For example, people will say that Jesus came to make us feel good about ourselves.  Another goes something like this, “Once Jesus is in your life, you can now have a healthy self-image, realizing how worth it you are. After all Jesus died for you.  He paid the ultimate price proving how valuable you are.”

On her website, in a section entitled Everyday Answers, Joyce Meyer says, “We all need to accept ourselves, embrace our personalities and even our imperfections, knowing that although we are not where we need to be, we are making progress. Jesus died for us because we have weaknesses and imperfections, and we don’t have to reject ourselves because of them. God wants us to love ourselves and enjoy how He’s made us!” (Emphasis added.)

Rick Warren, arguably today’s most popular teacher of self wrapped in Christian garb, has for years focused on having a good self image.  An interesting side note: Rick Warren was trained for years at Robert Schuller’s Institute at The Crystal Cathedral.  A quote from Pastor Warren’s Daily Hope devotional posted May 12, 2013, says,  “For years psychologists have told us that our self-esteem comes from what you think the most important person in your life thinks about you. Make Jesus the most important person in your life, and it’ll change everything. God’s Word says you’re lovable (John 3:16), capable (2 Peter 1:3), valuable (Luke 12:6), forgivable (Psalm 103:12), and usable (Ephesians 4:12). Let that tape become the soundtrack of your life, and you will never be the same.”

Jesus dying on the cross doesn’t prove my worth, rather the price of my sin.  Yes, He paid it all, but it’s not like Jesus went to Jostens Jewelry to buy a diamond ring.  It’s more suitable and biblical to say He went to the judge to pay off in full mankind’s penalty, a fine that was infinite in cost.  Such a high-priced penalty doesn’t denote value, but the extent and severity of my crime.  His death reveals the extent of my sinfulness and the depth of His love.  Jesus didn’t die for creatures that were worth something, but for creatures that were so not worth it!  I don’t deserve His forgiveness, nor does God somehow see a diamond in the rough, some glimmer of hope.  I am hopeless and rebellious to the core.  God’s love  is not based on me, rather solely upon His own infinite character!  After all God is love.  In other words, it is the love God is that motivates His actions, not my loveliness!

Christ-Esteem: In recent years, the phrase “Christ-esteem” has begun circulating the pulpit as a way of replacing self-esteem.  And while I agree that our focus must be on Christ, it seems to this believer that the phrase “Christ-Esteem” still lends a bit of credibility to today’s psychologized Christianity, saying we must focus on Christ in hopes of realizing how lovely we really are.  Loved, yes!  Lovely, no!   Paul said it this way, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwells no good thing…” Romans 7:18.  The only good in me is Christ!  He is my hope of glory.  Being that we’re in such a psychologically defined society, it’s every believer’s responsibility to be extra cautious in the language chosen when teaching the truth of Jesus Christ and His Gospel.

Esteeming Christ:  Instead of saying I have Christ-esteem, I’d rather declare that I esteem Christ.  Webster’s online dictionary defines Esteem as “to set a high value on : regard highly and prize accordingly.”  Jesus is not simply in my life. He is my Life!  Jesus does not simply enter my heart and mind to make me a better man.  He comes to transform and renew me into His image, living His Life in me and through me.  John the baptist said it best, “[Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease.John 3:30.  He should be my all in all! Clearly, my highest aim is not to esteem self, but to esteem Christ and Christ alone.  My pursuit to do so should be pure and careful.  It should be thoughtful and bold.

Our love for Christ should go beyond all men’s opinions and teaching, no matter how popular and kind the man may be.  God is not a respecter of persons, nor should His children.  Using the phrase “Christ-esteem” might be a little thing, but again, due to the psychologically redefined language flooding our world today, I choose to speak clearly and carefully, not desiring to confuse the Gospel to its hearers.  Reflecting the heart of every sinner, Isaiah wrote, “He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.”  Isaiah 53:3.  As an enemy of God, I esteemed Him not.  As a blood-bought sinner, I can truly and whole heartily declare my sole desire is to esteem Jesus Christ above all!

“[May] the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” Ephesians 1:17-23

For the You Tube video discussing this article, go to: “Christ Esteem or Esteeming Christ”.

HELPFUL RESOURCES: 

star-wars-logoAs a child I was literally mesmerized by the Star Wars movie series (IV, V, and VI).  I had watched them so often, I could literally quote almost every line from all three movies from memory.  My parents did not raise me in the New Age (New Spirituality) or any formal religion for that matter.  My temple was the theater and doctrine formed from the movie mysticism I chose to feed on.  I can say without equivocation that Star Wars was one of the greatest influences on my false understanding of myself and of God.

Sadly, the lies fed through the pop/entertainment culture today are even more seductive and influential in shaping the hearts and minds of this generation.  Watching movies is not like going on a roller coaster ride.  We should never, NEVER allow our children to be taken on a “ride” that will, in the end, lead them far away from Jesus.  I would never allow a child to get into a car with someone he didn’t know, so why would I allow him to take a mental-heartfelt journey with some godless movie, TV show, video game, toy, or book?

We are called to be active, not passive viewers, guarding our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, carefully discerning every message by weighing everything against the Word of God.  Tragically, too many  authors  intentionally design entertainment in such a way as to grow the old, selfish man, leaving viewers more satisfied by the world than with the God who loved them and died for them.  Then we wonder why our children have no interest in the True God and His Word.  

For a few of the many unbiblical concerns with Star Wars, I’ve included a Q&A from The Berean Call below.

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” 3 John 4

Related Articles:

God is not the God of the Force ~Dave Hunt

Is Jesus or the Force with You? ~Unity in the Truth Blog

Can You Believe in the Bible and Evolution (Audio Link) ~The Berean Call

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The Berean Call Newsletter 

Question: Our grandson and some of his friends from church seem to be obsessed with the Star Wars film series. They trade Star Wars cards and play Star Wars games. I don’t feel good about it but don’t know why. Can you give me some information?

Answer: I remember when the film Star Wars first appeared. Rabi Maharaj (the ex-guru whose story is told in Death of a Guru) and I went to check it out together. We sat there poking one another in astonishment as evidence piled upon evidence that this was pure witchcraft and Eastern mysticism and that its creator, George Lucas, knew exactly what he was doing.

The Force is obviously the “god” of Star Wars. One thought remained after the action had faded from the screen: “May the Force be with you.”  We saw that on T-shirts and bumper stickers. A whole generation began to believe in this impersonal Force that can be used to empower one to do magic feats but holds no one accountable, as does the personal God of the Bible.

This is the Force of witchcraft with a dark and light side: black magic and which magic. Darth Vader and Obi Wan Kenobi were the followers of the “the old religion,” as one of Vader’s soldiers reminded him. The “old religion,” of course is “wicca,” or witchcraft. The Force with its Dark and Light side is amoral. There is no right or wrong, just alternative sides of the Force.

The “laser sword” which Luke Skywalker learned to use is a divination device (forbidden in Deuteronomy 18 and elsewhere.) which only a Jedi Knight can wield. To become a Jedi Knight one must be initiated into that altered state of consciousness through which one enters the occult world.

Luke tried unsuccessfully to use the “laser sword” with his own intellect and skills. So Obi Wan covered Luke’s eyes with a visor. Unable to see, Luke could instantly deflect the laser emanating from the little ball dancing about in mid-air because he “let the Force take over.” This is the altered state of consciousness which opens one to possession by evil spirits.

Obi Wan is a false “Christ.” After he gave his life to save his companions, he became Luke’s spirit guide, speaking to and guiding him from the spirit world of demonic power.

Luke could not destroy the Death Star with his high-tech spaceship and weapons. But hearing the voice of his spirit guide, Obi Wan whispering, “Luke, let the Force take over,” he went into his altered state of consciousness, the Force possessed and worked through him, and he destroyed the Death Star — which meant nothing because the Force was still in place with both its Dark and Light sides.

In The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda was a yogi. He taught Luke that his mind was actually the channel of this power, and that he could do whatever he believed he could do — which Yoda demonstrated by raising Luke’s spacecraft out of the swamp with his mind. This is, of course, the witchcraft power of positive/possibility thinking and positive confession.

Luke went into the cave to do battle with Darth Vader. When he cut off Vader’s head the audience cheered. Then came a perfect Zen Buddhist twist: When the severed head was exposed, it was Luke’s own head. As the popular song goes, “I am you, and you are me, and his she, and all is on.” This is the pantheistic lie of Hinduism, that in fact you are God, you are the universe.  That has been experienced on drugs, in yoga or in hypnotic trance by millions, the state of so-called cosmic or unity consciousness.

Throughout the film, a large serpent was frequently seen giving its blessing by moving in and out of the frame, again a very subtle message.

Amazingly, when Vader was finally vanquished, he joined Obi Wan and Yoda in the spirit world of Ascended Masters. Such was his reward for playing the Dark side of the Force! These three comprise the unholy trinity that would continue to guide Luke!

There is much more, but hopefully this will convince your grandson and his friends that they are being led into the occult.

~Dave Hunt, The Berean Call Newsletter, May, 1998

Related Articles:

God is not the God of the Force ~Dave Hunt

Is Jesus or the Force with You? ~Unity in the Truth Blog

Can You Believe in the Bible and Evolution (Audio Link) ~The Berean Call

OldRuggedCross_B&WQuestion: You claim that the payment for sins was not through the physical sufferings of Christ inflicted by man, but spiritual sufferings endured at the hands of God. Yet Isaiah 53:5 says “…and by his stripes we are healed.” The NASB has, “…and by his scourging we are healed.” Please admit your error!

 

Answer: The NASB is wrong. The Hebrew chabburah translated “stripes” occurs six other times (Gn 4:23; Ex 21:25; Ps 38:5; Prv 20:30; Is 1:6) and it and it never means Roman scourging. Do you really think (as Mel ibson’s film erroneously attempts to show that Roman soldiers’ torture of Christ paid the eternal penalty for all of the murders, rapes, wars, hatred, jealousy, and unimaginable evil committed by billions of people during the history of mankind? Sinful soldiers can’t mete out to the Holy Son of God the righteous punishment for the sins of the world!

 Peter specifically says Christ paid for our sins on the cross (1 Pt 2:24), not when scourged. It was during those 3 hours of darkness on the Cross that God laid on Christ the infinite penalty for the sins of the world—and only when He had paid for our sins in full did He cry in triumph, “It is finished!” Not because of His scourging, but as a result of what Christ accomplished on the Cross, the rocks were split, the earth quaked and the veil of the temple was ripped open (Mt 27:51). First Peter 2:24 indicates that the healing by “stripes” is not from disease (as some teach) but from sin: “Who his own self bare our sins….” That this refers to spiritual punishment is clear: “thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin” (Is 53:10). Like the soul, sin itself, though expressed in physical acts, is spiritual: “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness…” (Mk 7:21, 22).

Salvation is spiritual and can only be by faith. To receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life as a gift from God is the greatest spiritual good conceivable. Physical punishment executed by sinful men could never make that gift possible. Thus the physical stripes Christ received in fulfillment of prophecy could not pay the penalty for sin; only God’s spiritual punishment could do that. Healing from sin and its penalty is what the gospel is all about: “How that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3) —not that “Christ died for our physical ailments.” The promise, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31) clearly pertains to salvation from sin, not from disease. Christians in general are neither healthier nor live longer in this life than unbelievers —but we have eternal life.

 The Hebrew noun chabburah translated “stripes” is singular in Isaiah 53:5, indicating one blow from God one blow from God wounding Christ “for wounding Christ “for our transgressions,” bruising Him “for our iniquities”—not the many stripes of scourging that were a major focus of Mel Gibson’s attempt to show that Christ’s physical sufferings paid for the sins of all mankind. Do you really believe that what Christ physically endured in the scourging and crucifixion was equal to what sinners will endure for all eternity in the lake of fire?

 There is nothing in any of the four gospels (other than crowning Him with thorns and mocking Him as a king) to indicate that Christ’s scourging and crucifixion were any worse physically than that suffered by thousands of others. That “Pilate marveled if he were already dead” (Mk 15:44) contradicts the idea that Christ was scourged and tortured within an inch of His life. Thus the statement that “his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men” (Is 52:14) could not be due to unusual physical beating, but to such intense spiritual agony that His features were so distorted that it was awesome to behold.

 The idea that the physical suffering Christ endured at the hands of men paid for the sins of the world is neither biblical nor rational for at least four reasons:

 1) Christ didn’t come even close to suffering more physically than any other person. Some men hung in agony for days on crosses, the Assyrians flayed their enemies alive, some victims of the Inquisition were roasted for hours over a slow fire, and the Inquisitors competing to develop the most excruciating torture—sometimes even bringing victims back from the brink of death, letting them heal, and then torturing them again;

 

2) if the physical “stripes” paid the penalty for sin, Christ’s physical tormenters would have played a vital role in our redemption and would in a sense be our co-redeemers (and what if they failed to torment Him enough to save us?!);

 

3) the punishment for those who reject Christ is eternal, but those who scourged and crucified Christ were incapable of inflicting eternal punishment; and

 

4) physical suffering could never adequately cause the moral and spiritual pain which must be involved in the just punishment of sin—in fact, it would obliterate it. The error that physical scourging paid for our sins is also refuted by Scripture’s declaration that Christ “made peace through the blood of his cross” (Col 1:20), not “the blood of his scourging,” which took place before He was led to Golgotha. We are “justified through his blood” (Rom 5:9), which includes His death. Had he merely bled but not died, we could not be saved. The phrase “shedding of blood” (Lv 17:11; 2 Chr 29:24, etc.) always means death, not wounding as in scourging—and this is the only means of atonement: “without shedding of blood is no remission” (Heb 9:22). Christ “by himself purged our sins” (Heb 1:3). While this could not be without the shedding of His blood at the hands of others, there was something which He alone had to do to purge us from our sins. That could only have been to endure eternal punishment at the hands of God which no man could exact from Him—something far worse than the “stripes” of scourging. Christ’s spiritual sufferings for sin are beyond our understanding and Scripture only hints at them:

 “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me…? smitten of God, and afflicted…wounded for our transgressions…bruised for our iniquities…the chastisement of our peace was upon him…the Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all…for the transgression of my people was he stricken…it pleased the Lord to bruise him…thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin…the travail of his soul…poured out his soul unto death…he bare the sin of many…he hath made him to be sin for us, [he] who knew no sin…” (Ps 22:1; Is 53:4-6,8,10-12; 2 Cor 5:21), etc.

Christ’s sweating in spiritual agony “as it were great drops of blood” (Lk 22:44) and pleading with His Father in the Garden to be spared “this cup” (Mt 26:39,42) could not have been in dread of the scourging and crucifixion (as implied in the film) which thousands of others also endured. “This cup” from which He shrank could only have been that He would be “made sin for us”—that He would “bear our sins in His own body” and be punished by God to the full extent demanded by His justice for the sins of the entire world. During those three hours of darkness on the Cross, all the “waves and billows” of God’s wrath against the sins of all mankind rolled over Him (Ps 42:7; 88:7; Jon 2:3).

Isaiah declares that Yahweh “bruised [Him] for our iniquities.” It is unbiblical and irrational to suggest that the Roman soldiers were guided by God in each blow as God’s means of punishing Christ for sin. Christ said, “No man taketh it [my life] from me, but I lay it down of myself” (Jn 10:18). It is God’s law which men have broken, He pronounced the penalty and He alone can execute it in righteousness. Therefore, the payment for our sins could only have been through the punishment Christ endured at the hands of God, not men. Christ had to be more than mere man: He had to be God manifest in the flesh to endure the eternal punishment due for the sins of all mankind in the three hours of darkness.

 We are told that He “by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Heb 2:9). That had to include the “second death”—eternity of punishment in the lake of fire which is yet future for the lost. This could not have been at the hands of the Roman soldiers who scourged and mocked Him, but only at the hands of God.”  ~Dave Hunt

Q&A from The Berean Call Newsletter, May 2004, http://www.thebereancall.org/sites/2011.thebereancall.org/files/may04.pdf

Understanding Grace

1. We must be absolutely clear that these two can never mix. Paul declares, “…if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work” (Rom 11:6). Salvation cannot be partly by works and partly by grace.

2. We must be absolutely certain that works have nothing to do with salvation. Period. The Bible clearly states, “For by grace are ye saved…not of works” (Eph 2:8-10). True to such Scriptures, evangelicals firmly declare that we cannot earn or merit salvation in any way.  Eternal life must be received as a free gift of God’s grace, or we cannot have it.

3. Salvation cannot be purchased even in part by us, because it requires payment of the penalty for sin—a payment we can’t make. If one were to receive a speeding ticket, it wouldn’t help to say to the judge, “I’ve driven many times within the 55 mph limit. Surely my many good deeds will make up for the one bad deed.” Nor would it do to say, “If you let me off this time, I promise never to break the law again.” The judge would reply, “To never break the law again is only to do what the law demands.  You get no extra credit for that. The penalty for breaking the law is a separate matter and must be paid.”  Thus Paul writes,“…by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight…” (Rom 3:20).

4. If salvation from the penalty of breaking God’s laws cannot be earned by good deeds, then it cannot be lost by bad deeds. Our works play no part in either earning or keeping salvation. If it could, then those who reach heaven could boast that while Christ saved them they, by their good lives, kept their salvation. Thus God would be robbed of having all the glory in eternity.

5. Salvation can be given to us as a free gift only if the penalty has been fully paid. We have violated infinite Justice, requiring an infinite penalty. We are finite beings and could not pay it: we would be separated from God for eternity. God is infinite and could pay an infinite penalty, but it wouldn’t be just because He is not a member of our race. Therefore God, in love and grace, through the virgin birth, became a man so that He could pay the debt of sin for the entire human race! It is finished!”

Originally from the “Once Saved, Always Saved?” tract written by Dave Hunt  (http://www.thebereancall.org/sites/2011.thebereancall.org/files/Once%20Saved%20Always%20Saved_0.pdf)

The question of the “eternal security of the believer” has been the cause of much controversy in the church for centuries—and still creates confusion and distress for many Christians. It is too much to expect to dispel this problem completely for everyone in a brief tract, but perhaps we can at least help in that direction. Those who believe in “falling away” accuse those who believe in “eternal security” of promoting “cheap grace.”

“While it may be a convenient expression, the latter phrase is of course unbiblical. To call it “cheap” is really a denial of grace, since it implies that too small a price has been paid. Grace, however, must be absolutely free and without any price at all on man’s part; while on God’s part the price He paid was infinite. Thus for man to think that his works can play any part in either earning or keeping his salvation is what cheapens grace, devaluing this infinite gift to the level of human effort.”

“To speak of “falling from grace” involves the same error.  Since our works had nothing to do with meriting grace in the first place, there is nothing we could do that would cause us no longer to merit it and thus “fall” from it. Works determine reward or punishment—not one’s salvation, which comes by God’s grace. The crux of the problem is a confusion about grace and works.”

Originally from the “Once Saved, Always Saved?” tract written by Dave Hunt  (http://www.thebereancall.org/sites/2011.thebereancall.org/files/Once%20Saved%20Always%20Saved_0.pdf)

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