Death

Death

Death is a normal part of life. Each day thousands of people die. What are some theories about what happens after death? [heaven or hell, reincarnation, cease to exist, purgatory, ghosts/poltergeists, limbo, etc]

THE BIBLE MENTIONS AT LEAST

FOUR TYPES OF DEATH:

I. PHYSICAL DEATH: The end of physical life.

  1. Caused by sin . Rom. 5:12

  2. Controlled by God. 1 Sam 2:6 “The Lord kills and makes alive.”

  3. Does not end one’s existence. Mt 22:32 “[God] is not the God of the dead but of the living.” [The intermediate state: conscious, corporal, rest or torment.]

  4. Is inevitable. Ecc. 9:5 “For the living know that they will die.”

  5. Happens only once, followed by judgment . Heb 9:27-28 [no 2nd chance, no reincarnation]

  6. Is an enemy. 1 Cor 15:26 “The last enemy that will be abolished is death.”

  7. Expressions:

  8. Departed from this world 2 Tim 4.6

  9. Going the way of all the earth Jos 23:14

  10. Gathered to one’s fathers or people Jud 2:10; Deut 32:50

  11. Dissolving the earthly house of this tabernacle 2 Cor 5:1

  12. Kicked the bucket Hezekiah 1:23-4:56 [just kidding]

II. SPIRITUAL DEATH: Lack of spiritual life. Gen. 2:17; Eph 2:1

    1. The Cause: lack of regeneration . This is the natural state for mankind. [The Bible refers to those in this condition as “natural” men. 1 Cor 2:14]

    2. The Cure: regeneration: the impartation of spiritual life. Eph 2:4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions– it is by grace you have been saved.”

      III. THE SECOND DEATH: The eternal state of the unsaved. Rev. 21:8

        1. After the GREAT WHITE THRONE judgment. Rev. 20:11, 15

        2. For all the unsaved. Rev. 21:8 “But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars– their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

        3. Other terms for this: eternal fire, outer darkness, eternal punishment or destruction, the lake of fire and brimstone.

          IV. FIGURATIVE DEATH: Using death as a descriptive term.

            1. Death to self . 1 Cor. 15:31 “I die daily.”

            2. Death to sin . Rom. 6:11 “Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

            3. Being “dead” to something implies being unresponsive to it, or that the thing has lost its power.

              Conclusion:

              Death will overtake all of us (unless the rapture happens first). We must be ready when the time comes by making sure that we are saved and by making our lives count while we are still alive.

              Capital Punishment

              Capital Punishment

              The issue of capital punishment has recently been a topic of discussion because of the trial of Timothy McVeigh, the convicted bomber of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Some say that McVeigh should be put to death for his crime; others suggest that he should spend the rest of his life in prison so he can think about and agonize over what he has done. Some see capital punishment as barbaric and even anti-Christian. Others see it as the only way to preserve justice and social order. What does the Bible have to say about the issue?

              The Biblical Basis for Capital Punishment

              1. OT passages clearly command it.

                1. Gen 9:6 “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man.” Murder is wrong because it is destroying one made in God’s image. Capital punishment is based on the Genesis account of creation. Note that this verse is pre-Law. It is a universal principle, not part of the Mosaic legislation. Thus it still applies.
                2. Ex 21:24f “But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.” Under the Mosaic Law, many offenses besides murder were to be punished by death of the criminal: rape, adultery, fornication, disrespecting one’s parents, witchcraft, cursing God, leading others to worship false gods, and giving false testimony, to name a few. Note that in a capital case, two or three eye witnesses of the crime were required for conviction (Deut 19:15). Circumstantial evidence was not sufficient grounds for death.
              2. NT passages clearly expect it. NT authors presuppose the same basic view on capital punishment as the OT presents.

                1. Rom 13:1f: “He is a servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrong doer.” Rulers are ordained by God to carry out justice. At the time Paul wrote this, capital punishment was a common practice.

                2. Jesus reaffirmed the principle in the Sermon on the Mount. Matt 5:21f: “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.” The judgment he refers to is capital punishment. Jesus also recognized the power of governmental authorities over the lives of citizens. John 19:10-11: “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.”

                3. The ruling Jews believed they had the authority to implement capital punishment. They killed Stephen (Acts 7:59), James (Acts 12:1-2) and Jesus because they had the authority to carry out capital punishment.

              Thus we see that God’s system of moral justice is the same in both testaments. While the Mosaic Law is no longer in force, the mandate given to Noah is, and requires capital punishment for murder. The NT, including the teaching of Jesus, does not overturn this mandate, but presupposes its continuing validity for all societies.

              Note: Justice is the primary reason for capital punishment. A just order is disturbed by murder and only the death of the murderer can restore that justice. Restitution is not possible for murder, and reformation can at best only guarantee that the same act by the same man will not occur again. But nothing can satisfy justice in regard to murder except the death of the murderer (Gen 9:6). Whether or not capital punishment deters crime is really not the issue.

              Some Objections to Capital Punishment

              1. Jesus and the case of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:11f): The OT stipulations for adultery is death for both parties involved. Yet it seems that in this case Jesus did not enforce the punishment that was proper. Hence, some argue that Christians should be more interested in forgiveness and mercy than in a just punishment for crime. [See example #1] But note the following facts:

                1. According to the Law, the death sentence could be carried out only if two or three witnesses testified to the crime. In this case, no one brought any charge against the woman (.10-11). Jesus said in Matt 5:17 that he did not come to abolish the Law of Moses but to fulfill it. He followed it quite strictly. If the witnesses would have testified against the woman, the people would have had every right to stone her (and her partner).

                2. This scenario was a trap the Jews set up, hoping that Jesus would upset either the Romans or the Jewish people. If he insisted on the death penalty as required by the Law, he would be ignoring Rome’s authority, which reserved the right of execution for itself. If he waived the death penalty, he would be breaking the Mosaic requirements. Jesus’ actions in this case avoided both potential problems.
              2. Forgiveness and Grace: Some argue that capital punishment is unchristian because it ignores God’s forgiveness through Christ’s death. Christ fulfilled the Law for all men, and He died on the cross for all sin. Thus, men are no longer punishable for their sins or crimes. [See examples #2-6] This objection is evidence of a misunderstanding of grace and forgiveness. Forgiveness does remove the penalty of sin, but not always the consequences of sin. God may forgive a drunk driver for his sin, but He won’t necessarily give him back his driver’s license or heal an injury that resulted from his drunkenness. Thus God may forgive a murderer (as He did in David’s case), but the consequences of the sin remain (as they did in that case).
              3. Capital punishment is prone to abuse: Some say that it’s inevitable that innocent people will be put to death. While the above argument is true, the fact that mistakes will be made is not a good argument for doing away with it completely. Doctors, airline pilots, army generals, and presidents all make mistakes, often with fatal results. Yet no one suggests getting rid of these professions. Fallible judgment does not eliminate the need for men to exercise good judgment in applying moral and social justice.

              1. Capital punishment is barbaric, inhuman, and has no place in civilized society. We should be more interested in rehabilitation than in vengeance. Such a sentiment is simply a rejection of biblical morality and justice. The person who committed the crime was inhuman, not the society that makes the criminal pay for his crime. In fact, the death of the criminal is good for society. If nothing else, at least the criminal won’t commit any more crimes.

              Conclusion: Capital punishment implies a very high regard for individual human life. Man is so valuable as an individual that anyone who tampers with his sacred right to live must face the consequences of losing his own life.

              The death penalty protects society from the hardened murderer and is an appropriate and fitting punishment for the most heinous of crimes. As we’ve seen, the Bible as a whole supports the practice. Any argument brought forward to end capital punishment either rejects or ignores biblical truth.

              Anger: Be Angry and Do Not Sin

              Be Angry and Do Not Sin Eph. 4:26

              Describe below the worst trouble anger ever got you into.

              What does the Bible say about ANGER ?

              • Anger itself is not sinful. Like any emotion, anger can become destructive if we do not express it biblically.
                • God gets angry. Ex 22:24; Ps 7:11
                • Jesus got angry. Mt 21:12; Mk 3:5; Jn 2:13-17
                • Believers may get angry. Eph 4:26 [righteous indignation: anger against sin, evil, immorality, injustice, blasphemy, etc.]
                • The energy of anger can be beneficial. 1 Sam 11:6 7, 17:26, 50
              • Anger becomes sinful in two ways: [sinful anger is self-centered, concerned with what happened to me. Based on pride and self-pity. ]
                • By venting it    “blowing up,” rage, tantrum. The energies of anger are vented on others. [This is how murder happens. Mt 5:21-22 ]
                • By keeping it – holding on to the emotion, allowing it to linger, not dealing with it correctly. Anger kept inside leads to bitterness, hatred and a negative attitude.
              • Common results of Anger:
                • Hatred and Murder Gen. 4:5 8
                • Bad attitude
                • Assault Num 22:27
                • Pouting 1 Kings 21:4
                • Stupidity Prov 14:17; Ecc 7:9
              • What to do about Anger:
                • Deal with it correctly.
                  • Recognize the emotion and the potential for damage.
                  • Try to discern the cause of your anger. It is legitimate? If not, simply refuse to be angry. Let it slide. Don’t worry about it.
                  • Do not let it simmer. This leads to bitterness and hatred. [Our text indicates that we should deal with it quickly. Anger tends to grow and fester. Even righteous anger can lead to sinful anger and acts. Get rid of it. ]
                  • Do not let it explode. This hurts others and yourself.
                  • Confess your sin and make restitution (if you need to).
                  • THERE IS NO NEED TO LET EVERYONE ELSE KNOW THAT YOU ARE ANGRY.
                  • Re direct it. Channel the power of the emotion into a solution of the problem.
                  •    Be solution oriented. Can you solve the problem? Maybe there is nothing you can do. If you have no power to solve the problem, it does no good to be angry. [E.g., you had your heart set on going to a friend’s house, but at the last minute your folks plan something else. ]
                  •    Direct the energy into solving the problem. [Anger is powerful. Perhaps you can come up with a solution that would please all parties involved.]
                  • Focus on the problem, not on people . [Don’t jump on others just because you didn’t get your way. ] .
                  • Don’t try to pay back the one who caused the problem. God is the judge; He will repay. [ Read Rom 12:17-21 This is very difficult. E.g., playing basketball and a player keeps riding you, giving you a hard time. Easy to vent your anger on the guy. Problem is that you will get called for the penalty, which makes you even more angry. ]

              Conclusion: Anger is a natural emotion. How we handle our anger may be sinful or proper. Next time you get angry, think about what we studied today and try to respond biblically.

              Am I My Brother’s Keeper: Social Responsibilities of Christians to Each Other

              Am I My Brother’s Keeper?

              Spiritual Responsibilities of Christians to each other

              1 Cor 12:14-26 teaches that each member in a church fulfills a certain responsibility in the “body.” Notice several responsibilities Christians have toward one another.

              1. Love one another.

              1. Definition: Not a romantic feeling, but a decision to do what’s best for another. agape` — Godly, sacrificial, giving kind of love (c.f., John 3:16).
              2. Love is:
                1. a commandment John 15:12, Rom 12:10, 1 John 3:11
                2. an evidence of being saved 1 John 3:14, 4:7
                3. an evidence of being a disciple John 13:35
                4. the proper response to God’s love for us. 1 John 4:11

              Q.– can you love somebody without liking him? [Yes, because love is not a feeling.]

              2. Pray for one another. [how many have a prayer list?]

              Pray for:

              1. effective evangelism 2 Thes 3:1 [make most of opportunities]
              2. bold testimony Eph 6:19 [We need boldness. Easy to be timid. ]
              3. physical healing James 5:16
              4. maturity Col 1:9-10 [i.e., spiritual growth]

              3. Serve one another. Gal 5:13

              1. True leaders are servants. Matt 20:25-28
              2. Spiritual gifts are to be used to serve. 1 Pet 4:10

              4. General responsibilities:

              1. Do good to one another. Gal 6:10
              2. Be kind to one another. Eph 4:32
              3. Forgive one another. Col 3:13
              4. Edify one another. Rom 14:19; Eph 5:19

              Application: Our youth ministry participants should love, pray for, serve, forgive, edify, and be good and kind to each other. It should be sheltered from insults, name-calling, ridicule, sarcasm, and any other action that could hurt another person.

              Same-Sex Marriage

              Same-Sex Marriage

              On May 15, 2008, the California Supreme Court decided that the State of California must allow homosexuals to marry. It determined that the State must begin offering marriage ceremonies and certificates to such couples, which it began doing at 5:01 PM on June 16, 2008. California has become the second state in the US to offer recognition of same-sex marriage. Massachusetts began recognizing same-sex marriage in May of 2004. The governor of the State of New York plans to allow same-sex marriage there as well in the near future.

              Christians, Jews, Muslims, and others who value traditional morality have been critical of same-sex marriage and have attempted to prevent the practice. Forty-four states have adopted constitutional amendments and/or statutory language preventing the recognition of gay marriage. Efforts are under way in California to overturn the Court’s ruling and enact a constitutional ban on homosexual marriage there.

              This current political and social issue reflects the nation’s basic moral commitments. Should people simply be allowed to do whatever they please, or are there moral considerations that limit behavior? What guidelines do we use to determine what kind of behavior is “good” for society?

              This issue also points out the stark contrast in the conflicting worldviews driving today’s culture wars. On one side are those who endorse a traditional view of morality. These people typically are connected in some way to a transcendent (God-given) form of morality found in sacred Scripture (the Bible, the Koran, etc.). On the other hand are those who hold that morality is simply a human idea, and that each individual must determine his own moral standards. Since morality has no permanent basis, rules of conduct must be flexible and conform to the times.

              Let’s examine the underlying moral motivations of the two sides of this issue.

              1. Same-sex moral values
                1. Human love is a wonderful thing, even when it exists between those of the same sex. Love should be tolerated and celebrated. Love will always win over hate.
                2. God made people as they are. God loves everyone equally. Nature (or God) is responsible for a person’s sexual orientation. A loving God would never condemn someone for loving another person.
                3. Equality is a basic human right that should not be denied to any particular group. Equality demands that all people be given the same rights.
                4. People should be allowed to do whatever they want, as long as it doesn’t hurt others. Marriage between consenting adults is their own business. Same-sex marriage affects only those being married and no one else. Only individuals have the right to determine who will be part of their family. The government should not force adherence to any particular moral standard.
                5. Religions critical of homosexuality are merely folklore, mythology, and outdated superstition. No one should take moral standards from so-called sacred texts seriously. The Bible has nothing of value to say on the topic. Only uneducated idiots believe that stuff. Leave the Dark Ages and adopt modern values.
                6. Cultural traditions don’t matter. Many traditions have been wrong and evil, e.g., slavery, racism, sexism. The fact that something is traditional doesn’t make it right. Who says that marriage has to be defined as existing only between a man and a woman? Marriage began as a purely human invention and was co-opted by religion as a way of gaining control over people. There is nothing particularly sacred or special about any human relationship. People should be able to define marriage however they want.
                7. No one can judge anyone else for their moral choices.
              2. Christian moral values
                1. Human love is a wonderful thing. However, like all good things, human love can be corrupted and degraded. The proper expression of marital love is between one man and one woman only. Any other expression is wicked.
                2. God makes people and God loves people, even desperately sinful people. However, God never causes anyone to sin. Man is sinful by birth and by choice. Those who follow their sinful bent in their interpersonal relationships will suffer God’s displeasure now and merit eternal punishment in the future. Those indulging in perverse practices have no right to claim a positive relationship with God.
                3. Equality as a basic human right is rooted in biblical morality. Nothing in nature suggests equality of species or of individuals. It seems hypocritical to affirm this moral value while denying other biblical moral values. Further, homosexuality should not be afforded the same recognition as equality in race or gender, which are biological realities, not simple behavior choices.
                4. Individualized morality is a recipe for chaos and disaster. Without some kind of recognized rules for behavior, civilization is not possible. Other people’s behavior is a matter of public concern. Further, intimate contact between consenting adults is one thing; marriage is something else. Marriage has the status of public affirmation and recognition. By definition, same-sex union is not marriage. American society as a whole is not ready to re-define marriage.
                5. The critics’ assertion that the Bible is obsolete and irrelevant is purely a matter of opinion. Christians (and other advocates of traditional values) have the same right to promote and defend their viewpoint as anyone else. The Christian worldview has been dominant in western culture for many centuries, although its dominance is now beginning to wane, which is the only reason same-sex marriage has become legal.
                6. Traditions are not valuable simply because they are traditions; no one is arguing that. The debate concerns the value and definition of marriage. Is the traditional understanding of marriage to prevail in our culture, or should the concept of marriage be re-defined, or perhaps dropped all together? Recognizing same-sex marriage will inevitably lead to validating other perverse relationships and behaviors.
                7. Morality is by nature subject to judgment. Even the statement “no one can judge my moral choices” is a judgment. Any time someone alleges that something is good or bad, he is making a moral judgment. Frankly, those who deny morality have no basis to complain when their “rights” are violated.

              Note the Quote: The heterosexual marital relationship, even with all its imperfections, constitutes the bedrock of civilization. Marriage — female wife and mother, male husband and father — is the basic social unit. Redefining marriage, given its integral design, is like tampering with root arithmetic: no court, retaining any semblance of respect for the concept of jurisprudence, would do so.

              1. What God Says About Marriage
                1. Marriage is a partnership of opposite sexes, in kind, with full compatibility. (Gen 2:18-24)
                  1. Opposite sexes: God did not make another man for Adam; He made a woman, a human of the opposite sex.
                  2. In kind: Nothing in the animal kingdom corresponded to man; nothing was a suitable companion for Adam. Adam was human, not animal. God supplied Adam with another human—a woman—of the same “kind,” but a different type of human.
                  3. Full compatibility: a “help meet”
                    1. Help: the word often speaks of God supplying something people are unable to supply for themselves.
                    2. Meet: fit, suitable, corresponding to. God created Eve to correspond to Adam. She was a perfect match for him. What he lacked she supplied. Only man and woman can procreate. The natural design of the human body (male and female) implies that they go together.
                2. Marriage involves commitment based on a covenant. (Gen 2:23-25; Mal 2:14)
                  1. Commitment is key to marriage. God expects spouses to hold fast (KJV “cleave”) to one another. God designed marriage to be a permanent union held together by mutual commitment.
                  2. Marriage is a form of contract or covenant, an agreement with certain stipulations. The spouses agree to “leave” their original families and “cleave” to one another for life. Only in certain limited cases can this contract/covenant be invalidated or dissolved.
                3. Marriage involves a sacrificial, mutual love and respect. (Eph 5:33; 1 Pet 3:7)

              Marriage is more about giving than receiving. Mutual, sacrificial love and respect is necessary in a marriage.

                1. Marriage is best when the husband and wife accept their God-given roles.
                  1. The husband: lead, love, protect, provide
                  2. The wife: assist, complement, submit, encourage

              Conclusion: The nature and definition of marriage are issues of basic morality. As western culture continues to deny its Christian heritage, it will adopt increasingly immoral standards of behavior. All manner of perversion will first be tolerated, then recognized as normal, protected as a right, and finally celebrated as good. American society must decide if it will retain its association with biblical morality or turn its back on that tradition and embrace moral chaos.

              “Same-Sex Marriage in Perspective” Christian Research Journal, volume 27, number 2 (2004). Article: DH260 www.equip.org.

              This material condensed from Barry Pendley’s article “The Problem of LGBTs and Their Marriages.”

              Aliens

              Aliens

              People have always been fascinated with the “above and beyond.” Remember Orson Well’s radio program, “War of the Worlds?” It was a broadcast about an alien attack on the world. Some people who tuned into the radio late, thought it was real life. They became hysterical.

              In the 80’s a movie called E.T. portrayed an ugly, but lovable alien befriended by a young boy. Later the same decade, a television series about a short, furry, sarcastic alien named ALF made it’s debut.

              The popular, entertaining StarTrek television program still has a “cultic” following. Now, Stephen Hawking dons his StarTrek gear and “boldly goes only where New Mexico trailer park residents have gone before.”

              Why? Why is there a fascination of life on other planets, especially human-like life? Have you ever wondered about these questions?

              Are there more intelligent life forms in the universe?

              Will they ever come into contact with man?

              Many people are consumed with the thought of being the next person abducted. Rational, bible-soaked Christians should dismiss extra-terrestrial aliens as myths. These myths are an attack on God’s character.

              Alien Myths are an Attack on God’s Image.

              Throughout man’s history, God’s focus has been on establishing His Kingdom on earth (Daniel 7:14, 27; Micah 4:7). This means that God is earth-oriented. Why? Because in the final analysis, this brings Him glory. To accomplish His plan, God made Adam in His own image (Gen. 1:27). What does it mean that “man is made in the image of God?” It basically means that man is “like God and represents God.” (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, pg. 442.) That is, man is the height of all creation because he is like God.

              Man shares with God His ability to think, feel, and make decisions. Though man is finite and God is infinite, man is the best representation of God next to Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:3).

              Since God designed man in His image, and since His plan is Kingdom-oriented, it logically follows that God has not divided His interests in beings on other planets. Though God certainly could have created aliens, this logic would be strikingly similar to the philosophical question, “Can God create a rock bigger than He can handle?” He can, but this is contrary to His desires and plan.

              Alien Myths are an Attack on God’s Plan of Salvation.

              Since Adam fell, all of creation suffers from his sinful choice. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected [the same] in hope . . . For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. (Romans 8:20-22)

              Man is only saved through a committed faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 10:9,17). God planned that Jesus Christ would be the way of salvation for everyone (Hebrews 2:10). Jesus Christ humbled himself and became a man, not an alien. No one else, including aliens, are God’s object of redemption. Jesus Christ died for man, appeared to men after His resurrection and is now at the right hand of God praying for believers (Romans 8:34).

              Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation. If aliens exist, then it logically follows that God has doomed them to destruction, unless Jesus Christ is going from planet to planet, becoming an alien, and dying for aliens. The result is absurd, unbiblical logic. We do know what Christ is doing,

              Alien Myths are an Attack on God’s Word.

              God has revealed to us everything that He wants us to know for life. God gave us information that enables us to know Him, to relate with others, and to live God-honoring lives. Though He did not tell us about every molecule, plant, or animal that exists, He did make Scripture complete enough so that we can respond appropriately to anything that happens in life.

              His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. (2 Peter 1:3)

              God’s Word gives us many instructions about how to relate to others. Note the following groups:

              • God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit
              • Angels
              • Satan
              • Other Believers
              • Non-believers
              • Other nations
              • Government
              • Family
              • Employers/Employees
              • Husband/Wife
              • Ourselves
              • and the list goes on.

              The Bible never gives us any instruction on how to relate to aliens. The reason is simple: We will never have to relate to aliens. This could be for two reasons: 1) God planned it so we will never come into contact with them; or more simply, 2) they do not exist.

              Alien Myths are an Attack on the Bible’s account of our true enemy — Satan.

              We live in a day when people, including Christians, are more interested in the creature than the Creator. They chase after talk shows instead of Bible studies. They regurgitate speculations rather than ministering the Word. They mull over the concept of aliens rather than meditating on Scripture. These people illustrate the depravity of man by seeking man’s glorification, rather than God.

              The folly of alien myths has diverted people’s attention away from the real nemesis — Satan.

              Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:11-12)

              God has already unequivocally listed who our enemies are—Satan and his forces. This is extraterrestrial enough. We are in a battle with demons and Satan. Let’s not seek to advance our technology and spend our time worrying about alien abductions. Our enemy is real and God has given us the prescription needed to deal with him — “put on the whole armor of God!”

              In the final analysis, what can be said about the testimonies of people who have been abducted by aliens? They are either lying or have duped themselves. Solomon wrote, He who works his land will have abundant food, but he [the fool] who chases fantasies lacks judgment. (Proverb 12:11) Don’t be duped, be equipped!

              In conclusion, don’t chase after fantasies. Think objectively, biblically, and doctrinally. Hollywood’s genre of alien pix is creating a pseudo-anthropology based on fantasy, rather than objective, biblical proof.

              For God Has Not Given Us a Spirit of Fear

              For God Has Not Given Us a Spirit of Fear

              by Barry Pendley

              One may ask, “If God wants us to fear Him, then how does this concept correlate with the Scripture passages that state ‘God has not given us a spirit of fear . . . (Ro 8:15)’ and ‘Perfect love casts out fear. (1Jn 4:18)?’”

              For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. (Ro 8:15)

              The Apostle Paul weaves many great doctrines together in this  passage – the doctrines of assurance, eternal security, and adoption. We do not know the exact situation of the Roman believers, but we do know that they are like the rest of us. At different times we wonder “Am I really saved?” “Will God allow me to be doomed to Hell?”

              Paul states that we do not need to fear. Literally, as believers, we do not need to be terrified of eternal damnation because we are members of God’s family. The fear spoken of in this passage is the fear of eternal damnation. As believers, we fear God’s discipline and disappointment, not eternal damnation.

              There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. no fear of judgment. (1Jn 4:18)

              Again, this passage speaks of having “no fear of judgment.” This is akin to the Romans 8:15 passage. Why does John say that there is no fear in love?

              John states that “fear has to do with punishment.” The word punishment is only used here and in Matthew 25:46 where it speaks of eternal damnation. Therefore, what is in view is God’s punishment that is reserved for unbelievers. John’s point is that when the believer stands before the judgment seat of Christ, he will not fear this eternal damnation in hell.

              When we, as believers, sin against God, we bring Him displeasure and become subjects of His wrath. But this wrath is loving and fearful discipline. He treats us as part of His family and disciplines us so that we will confess our sins and experience the joy that comes from obedience. For an extended description of God’s discipline on the believer see Hebrews 12:5–11.

              Do You Fear Man Too Much and God Too Little Part 1

              If Everyone Else Jumped Off a Cliff . . .

              Do you fear man too much and God too little? Part 1 of 4

              by Barry Pendley

              There was a test conducted by a university where 10 students were placed in a room. Three lines of varying length were drawn on a card. The students were told to raise their hands when the instructor pointed to the longest line. But 9 of the students had been instructed beforehand to raise their hands when the instructor pointed to the second longest line. One student was the stooge. The usual reaction of the stooge was to put his hand up, look around, and realizing he was all alone, pull it back down. This happened 75% of the time, with students from grade school through high school. The researchers concluded that many would rather be popular than be right.

              We all, to one degree or another, long to be accepted, loved, and esteemed by others. However, this longing often supplants biblical thinking, which in turn, leads to disobedience. Society calls this “peer pressure;” God calls it a “fear of man.”

              What is the difference between peer pressure and a fear of man? Peer pressure and the “fear of man” are not synonymous. Peer pressure has a good side. It can be that which causes you to do what is right. For instance, a godly friend may encourage you toward Christlikeness.

              As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another (Pr 27:17).

              Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up (Ecc 4:9–10).

              Therefore, peer pressure has a good side. Yet, peer pressure has a dark side. It is a “fear of man” which leads one to ungodly behavior. Throughout this series of articles, we will focus on this side of peer pressure and refer to it as God does – the “fear of man.”

              Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe (Pr 29.25).

              Everyone has a “fear of man.” As one writer puts it, “if one denies that he has a ‘fear of man’ you had better check his pulse.” Before you reject this premise, consider the following questions:

              • Are you a teen who keeps his room locked and does not want his parents to come in – Do you have a fear of what they will find?
              • Have you ever abandoned verbalizing a good thought for fear that others may think you are unintelligent?
              • Have you ever failed to stand for truth because you knew the overwhelming (or maybe a simple) majority went against you?
              • Do you seek the attention of others?
              • Do you ask others for their comments knowing that they will applaud you for something you did?
              • Have you ever done something moronic so as to attract the attention of others?
              • Do you ever exaggerate about your experiences?
              • Have you ever lied, fearing that someone would know the truth?

              Would you have been among the 75% of students in the illustration at the beginning of this article?

              If you answered “yes” to any of the above, I rest my case. The “fear of man” permeates society to such a degree that it is no secret. Interestingly enough, many psychologists have “discovered” this problem, labeling people who succumb to a “fear of man” as those who have “low self-esteem,” are “co-dependent,” or have “histrionic personality disorder.” Some, labeled “agoraphobics,” are so fearful of people that they will not go to a mall, store, or in some cases, never leave their homes.

              As you can see, psychologists have not uncovered a new problem, they merely gave an old problem a new name. Not only has psychology given the “fear of man” a new label, it posits new techniques to rid people of “low self-esteem” and a variety of other mental problems. This article will expose certain myths associated with a “fear of man.”

              Myth 1: “Ignore the pressure and it will go away!”

              Should you ignore the pressure hoping it will go away? This seems to be the sentiment of the world’s counsel. They say things like:

              “If you have a problem, avoid it, pretend it doesn’t exist.

              “If it is in your power, do away with those things (people) that bring your pressure.”

              According to a Christian psychologist, Clyde Narramore, the way to handle peer pressure is to get rid of the pressure altogether. In his book, How to Handle Pressure, he illustrates his point by describing the “no grade” system.

              Shortly after graduating from college, I taught in an elementary school which experimented with a number of innovative ideas. One of these was the issuing of report cards without precise grades.

              The principle, herself, was a relaxed, thoughtful person. She wanted each child to do his best without undue pressure from competition. Teaching in this school was a rewarding experience for me. Each month when the report cards were issued, teachers wrote a brief description of the child’s activities and progress. But no grades were assigned. Frankly, I felt a little uncomfortable at first, not giving “A’s” and “C’s” or “1s” or “4s” or something in between. But as time went on I saw many advantages in this procedure. I soon learned, too, that the kids liked it very much. Some of the children who had grown up in that school had never received a “mark” and they didn’t know the difference between an “A” and a “D.” But they were happy, and relaxed, and they did excellent work.

              What are the problems with this view? Narramore’s popular concept is more fantasy than reality for at least two reasons

              It is impossible to get rid of pressure. We will always have a “fear of man.” The problem is not fearing man, but succumbing to it.

              Getting rid of the pressure should not be one’s focus. What should be the Christian focus? A Christian can effectively battle against peer pressure (fear of man) by developing a fear of the Lord.

              Myth 2: “You need other people for selfish reasons!”

              The world doesn’t like to put it so bluntly, but this is exactly what it teaches. You will find this teaching floating in pop songs like “People Who Need People” and the pop psych literature.

              The basic personal need of each personal being is to regard himself as a worthwhile human being . . . . In order to do so, we must not only be significant but also be secure in the unconditional love of another person. Larry Crabb in Basic Principles of Biblical Counseling, pp 53, 63

              If the need for love is not met in a person’s life, he may develop attitudes and tendencies . . . that will shape his whole life in a distorted pattern. Clyde Narramore in This Way to Happiness, p 16.

              If I could write a prescription for the women of the world, I would provide each one of them with a healthy dose of self-esteem and personal worth . . . . I have no doubt that this is their greatest need. James Dobson in What Wives Wish Their Husbands Knew About Women, p 35.

              Psychologists use the “empty love cup” to illustrate this teaching. They believe that man has an internal void that needs to be filled with love, acceptance, affirmation, and recognition. According to the world, man is empty if he does not have these things. You may have heard this philosophy in the following statements:

              I need to be affirmed by my friends.

              I need acceptance.

              If you haven’t noticed these statements, listen for them. They are commonly used on Christian radio, self-help books, and in the conversations of many Christians. What are the problems with this view?

              According to psychology, one of your greatest problems is a lack of love. The Bible teaches differently. Man’s greatest problem is sin.

              According to psychology, your focus must be to receive love (affirmation) from others. The Bible teaches that your focus must be to show love to God and others, not get love from others.

              What is the result of this teaching? This view actually causes and promotes a “fear of man.” According to these teachers, you must focus on receiving love and affirmation from others. If you don’t receive this affirmation, then you are lacking. Your friends, then, become a selfish means to this acceptance. So, if your life focus is to serve yourself, you will be pressured to be accepted by your peers! You will do whatever you can to receive acceptance, affirmation, and love from your peers. If that isn’t a “fear of man” what is?

              Myth 3: “Cast aside all guilty feelings!”

              This may be the most prominent way the world has replaced a fear of God with the fear of man. Psychologists no longer talk of guilt in a biblical sense. They have taken a biblical word and stripped it of all meaning. Psychology redefines “guilt” in such a way that it is now considered a mere feeling. Today, people talk not of guilt, but of “guilt feelings.” They say things like:

              “Don’t feel guilty, you need to feel good about yourself!”

              “Don’t feel guilty, ignore those feelings! They don’t exist! They are a product of your imagination!”

              “Don’t feel guilty, do what you want to do!”

              “Don’t feel guilty, stay busy!”

              What are the problems with this view?

              Guilt is not a feeling, it is a legal fact. Psychology has confused the fact of guilt with the feelings of shame. Guilt is not a feeling, shame is a feeling. Guilt may or may not be followed by shame. For instance, have you ever run a stop sign without realizing it? You don’t feel shamed because you were not aware of your transgression. Yet, if you were pulled over by a police officer, he would consider you guilty. Consider how ridiculous you would sound explaining your innocence to a police officer:

              Sir, you know I can’t be given a ticket for running that stop sign back there. I had no guilt feelings. Also, guilt is so bad, that I have cast aside all guilt feelings.

              The Bible records an instance where the spiritual leaders in Jerusalem were so full of greed that they were thieves. Though the priests were guilty of thievery, they had no feelings of shame. Notice how the Bible emphasizes the point:

              Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. So they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when I punish them,” says the LORD. (Jer 6.15 repeated in 8.12)

              Were these people guilty of sin? Yes. Did they feel the impact of their guilt? No. They were not at all ashamed; they didn’t even know how to blush.

              Guilt is only cast away by obedient living. One cannot play mind games by “casting aside feelings.” The only way one can gain a “guilt-free conscience” is by living obediently. Since one becomes guilty by sinful living, one also maintains innocency by living obediently. Notice how David dealt with his guilt before God:

              Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. (Ps 51.1–2)

              Conclusion The “fear of man” is ripping apart the moral fabric of our society. It is found among all people, children through adults. It rears its ugly head in many different ways. Psychologists proffer their counsel, but they have had more success in identifying it than eradicating it. Therefore, one must give full attention to the Scriptures and consider how to do battle with the “fear of man.”

              Think what would have happened during the Revolutionary war if the soldiers fell prey to a “fear of man.” Imagine if Wycliffe and the translators of Scripture succumbed to a “fear of man;” we would not have God’s Word in the English language. Consider what example you would leave your children if you allowed a “fear of man” to dominate your life. Imagine standing before God, your sovereign Creator, and saying to Him, “I feared man more than you.”

              Consider the words of John Flavel, a nonconformist who lived in the 1600s:

              The unsaved man fears man and not God; the strong Christian fears God and not man; the weak Christian fears man too much and God too little.

              This four-part series was developed shortly after the author read the book, When People are Big and God is Small.

              Bible Boot Camp: Lesson 15: How to Get the Most from a Sermon

              Bible Boot Camp: Lesson 15: How to Get the Most from a Sermon

              Mortimer Adler wrote an influential book called “How to Read a Book.” Odd title—how could one read that book if he didn’t know how to read a book? Adler’s book focuses on what questions to ask and what to look for as you read, how to analyze the author’s arguments, how to mark up the book for later use. Millions have found Adler’s book very helpful.

              Just like people don’t know how to read a book, they don’t know how to listen to a sermon. Millions every week find the messages they hear dull, boring and irrelevant simply because they have not learned how to enjoy and profit from a message.

              What can you do to make a sermon more personally meaningful?1

              1. Prior to the sermon: prepare yourself.

              Most people think that a sermon begins when the speaker opens his mouth to start preaching. But getting the most out of a sermon starts prior to the message.

                1. During the week: The more we personally worship the Lord during the week (in Bible study, prayer, song, righteous living, etc.), the more prepared we will be to corporately worship him come Sunday. If church services are the only time you spend in worship, you’ll likely not get much from the message.

              Pray for the speaker throughout the week, asking for God to help him prepare and preach the appropriate messages. When we pray thus, it creates within us an expectancy and anticipation that God may use the message to directly minister to us. Congregations often get what they pray for in this regard.

                1. Saturday night: Don’t stay out so late on Saturday night that you can’t function on Sunday morning. Get to bed early enough to get a good night’s sleep. Have Sunday morning planned out beforehand (clothing, breakfast, travel plans, etc.). Begin thinking about and planning for the Lord’s Day the night before.

              Here’s an Idea: Plan a special “Lord’s Day Eve” meal and family time on Saturday night to prepare for Sunday. Include Scripture reading and prayer after the meal with a focus on teaching the children different aspects of church life. Take time to get everything ready to go for Sunday morning. Create anticipation and excitement within your family for the Lord’s Day.

                1. Sunday morning:

                  1. Spend time in personal worship at home (Bible reading and prayer) before leaving for church. Ask God to prepare your own heart for worship and to bless the worship service, especially the preaching.

                  2. It may be wise to eat only a light breakfast to prevent lethargy.

                  3. Allow plenty of time to get ready and get to church early. Plan to arrive at least 10 minutes prior to the beginning of the service.

                  4. At church, prior to the service:

              • Greet others warmly. Look for visitors or new people to meet and greet.

              • Look over the bulletin. Read through the Scripture text and/or outline if given.

              • Think about the purpose of the service–to bring honor and glory to God, to worship, to receive encouragement, to be challenged and to be taught.

              • Think about God’s perfect character and attributes – wisdom, power, glory, grace, mercy, etc.

              • Spend time in silent contemplation. Prepare your heart for the service to follow.

              • Try to anticipate and eliminate distractions both with yourself and with your family members. Prepare yourself to pay attention.

              • Humble yourself before the Lord by confessing sin. Thank God for his mercy toward you and his invitation for you to come boldly before the throne of grace. Ask God to help the speaker communicate clearly and to help you understand and apply the message.

              • Think about how God might use you to encourage or challenge someone else.

              Remember that the speaker has put a lot of time and effort into his message with the express purpose of helping and exhorting the audience. Show that you appreciate and value his efforts by remaining alert and showing that you are interested.

              1. During the sermon:

                1. Try to listen carefully. Good preaching appeals first to the mind, so your mind must be fully engaged. Being attentive requires self-discipline. Our minds tend to wander and daydream. But listening to the message is a part of the worship we offer to God. It’s a prime opportunity for us to hear what God is teaching us. Don’t insult the speaker (or God) by daydreaming, tuning out, horsing around or snoozing during the message.

                2. Maintain eye contact with the speaker. This gives you something to focus on and gives the speaker the impression that you are listening.

                3. Turn to the appropriate passages in the Bible and read along silently. It’s beneficial to see the biblical text the message is coming from so you can evaluate what the speaker is saying (C.f., Acts 17:11). The rustling of pages is one extra sound most pastors enjoy hearing during their messages.

                4. Respond positively with nonverbal cues – smile, laugh, nod your head, say “Amen.”

                5. Take notes or follow the outline if one is provided. Write your own outline and see how it compares to the published one. Taking notes is an excellent way to stay focussed during the message.

                6. Think about how to respond personally to the message (c.f., James 1:22). Good preaching always applies the Bible to daily life.

              • What sins must I confess and forsake?

              • What duties must I fulfill? What commands must I obey?

              • What comforts and promises can I count on?

              • How does this message encourage or challenge me?

              • How must I change my attitudes and/or behaviors?

              From the Westminster Confession:

              It is required of these that hear the Word preached that they attend upon it with diligence, preparation and prayer; examine what they hear by the Scriptures; receive the truth with faith, love, meekness and readiness of mind; meditate upon it; hide it in their hearts; and bring forth the fruit of it in their lives.

              1. Review after the service.

              • Talk to the speaker about your impression of the sermon, either good or bad.

              • Quiz family members or friends about the main points of the sermon.

              • Discuss the purpose of the sermon and how one should respond to it.

              • Discuss anything about the sermon that was confusing or hard to understand.

              • Discuss the other parts of the service–music, prayer, etc.

              • Avoid being overly critical of the “performance” of the preacher. Focus instead on the content of the message.

              Note the quote: “Something important happens when we hear a good sermon: God speaks to us. Through the inward ministry of the Holy Spirit, He uses His Word to calm our fears, comfort our sorrows, disturb our consciences, expose our sins, proclaim His grace, and reassure us in the faith. But these are all affairs of the heart, not just matters of the mind, so listening to a sermon can never be a merely intellectual exercise. We need to receive Biblical truth in our hearts, allowing what God says to influence what we love, what we desire and what we praise.”2

              Listening to a sermon requires a prepared soul, an alert mind, and open Bible and a receptive heart. But the best way to tell whether we are listening is by the way we live.

              1 Some of this material from “Prepare and Participate: Practical Suggestions on Your Role in Worship at North City Presbyterian Church” in Power Preaching for Church Growth by David Eby (Mentor Press,1996)

              2 Philip G. Ryken, “Tuning In” TableTalk (Ligonier Ministries), Mar 2003, pp. 14-16.

              Bible Boot Camp: Lesson 14: Christian Growth

              Bible Boot Camp: Lesson 14: Christian Growth

              When a person gets saved, he begins a new life. According to 2 Corinthians 5:17, old things have passed away and all things have become new. At this stage, the new believer is much like an infant; in fact, Bible refers to a new believer as a baby. Like physical babies, new believers need to grow, develop, and become strong and mature. This lesson will explore the process of Christian growth.

              1. Read 2 Peter 3:18. Is growth a biblical idea? yes

              What are two areas Christians are to grow in? grace and knowledge

              By “grace” Peter is speaking of the Christian life in general. “Grow as a Christian” is the idea. Many aspects of the Christian life are capable of growth—faith may grow exceedingly, hope abound, love increase, and patience have its perfect work, and saints may grow more humble, holy, and self-denying.

              Paul said (Phil 3.10) “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings.” He’s talking about an increased understanding of and walk with Christ. That should be our goal as well.

              How can one grow in his/her knowledge of Christ? Read the Bible, read theology, talk to mature believers, formal study–Christian college, seminary. There’s also a more subjective/personal knowledge that one acquires as he experiences the Christian life.

              1. Read 2 Peter 1:5-8. What does this passage suggest about Christian growth? We are continually adding, building, getting more mature. There is no plateau, no end of the growth process.

              2. Read Ephesians 4:11-13. What goals does the author write about here? Being prepared for works of service, reaching the unity of faith and knowledge, becoming mature, attaining the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

              3. Read 2 Timothy 3:16-17. How can one become “thoroughly equipped for every good work”? thru the Word

              4. Read Hebrews 10:23-25. What is one of the benefits of church attendance? Others provoke us to love and good works.

              5. Read Ephesians 4:22-24. This passage gives us a good outline of how Christian growth takes place. Notice the three steps involved:

              • Put off the old man. The “old man” is the previous, unsaved lifestyle. Paul is telling us to put away the former sinful way of life. The first step toward Christian growth is quitting the sinful habits and behaviors that you indulged in prior to salvation. This may require that you stop going to the places and/or being with the people associated with former sinful behavior patterns. A clean break with the old unsaved life is required.

              • Be renewed in the spirit of your mind. We renew our minds through exposure to the Word of God. As we read, listen to, think about, and memorize Scripture, we come to a new way of thinking, which influences our way of living. Faithful attendance at church and participation in Bible studies can greatly help the renewal process.

              • Put on the new man. The new man is the lifestyle appropriate for Christians, the new way of life that accompanies new spiritual life. We must adopt those behavior patterns that the Bible commands us to pursue.

              Remember that the believer has two natures, that is, two sets of characteristics: the old and the new. The old nature is that set of characteristics that is hostile to godliness and influences one toward sin. One receives a new nature, a new set of characteristics, at the point of salvation. This nature longs for the things of God–holiness, righteousness, purity, etc. The old, sinful nature still exists, but it need no longer control the believer. Believers are free from the power of sin to control their lives.

              That doesn’t mean that we no longer struggle with sin. The Christian must continually strive to undercut, uproot and disable the old nature so that it has less influence, while feeding the new nature so that it has more control. Sin still dwells within the believer. He is a new creation, but not a perfect creation. He is no longer a slave to sin. With God’s help, he can overcome sin and live a righteous, although not perfect, life.

              1. Read Luke 22:40. Prayer is another key element of Christian growth. Prayer shows that we are relying upon God’s strength for the ability to make progress in the Christian life. Ask for God’s help in turning from sin and toward holiness.

              2. Read Philippians 2:12-13. The power for growth in holiness rests entirely with God. Nevertheless, the writers of the NT constantly exhort believers to work and strive toward spiritual growth. We are responsible to put to death the deeds of the flesh and to present our bodies a living sacrifice. So while sanctification is clearly God’s work, the believer must expend effort and discipline himself if he wants to grow.

              What disciplines will help the believer grow? Bible reading and prayer (daily devotions), church participation, giving

              Conclusion: Christian growth is a gradual process whereby believers become more and more Christlike. As a person obeys the Bible and submits himself to its principles, he will become a stronger and more mature Christian. Keys to growth include Bible intake, church participation, a clean break with past sinful patterns of life and a commitment to adopting biblical behaviors.


              Discussion:

              1. What does Peter mean by “grow in grace”? Grow in Christian graces such as kindness, humility, mercy, love, etc. General growth.

              2. Why is church attendance so important for growth? It’s where you hear the Word taught and preached, where others encourage and even rebuke you, and where you fellowship with other believers.

              3. What is the “old man”? The sinful, pre-conversion lifestyle.

              4. How does one renew his mind? Thru exposure to the Bible

              5. Is growth primarily God’s work or man’s? God motivates it and man works toward it.