Bible Study & Religious Studies

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How Did You Become a Christian?

When and how did you become a “Christian”?

Was it when you repented of your sins? Was it when you believed? Was it when you confessed with your mouth? Was it when you were born again? Or was it when you were baptized?

Continuing my studies on the Kingdom of God and Water Baptism, I was reading a paper by Robert Stein titled ‘Baptism and Becoming a Christian in the New Testament’. The questions presented above were presented in this paper… and I found them quite thought provoking.

You can download a copy here: Baptism and Becoming a Christian (Right click this link and choose “save target as” to save a copy of the PDF file on your computer. Or click once on the link to open the document in a new window)

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Speaking in Tongues

Speaking in Tongues, a Controversial Topic Among the Churches

Speaking in Tongues is something we hear more controversy (and misquoted or misinterpreted scripture) over than any other thing mentioned in the bible. What is the cause for that… and why are the churches so divided on this topic?

The main question tends to be: Was it (speaking in tongues) a ’sign of the times’, or is it a spiritual gift of prayer language that is evidence of baptism of the Holy Ghost? The answer to this question seems to be what divides the churches, and many believers.

In this study I will compare common beliefs, available resources and Scripture in an attempt to share a full understanding of the gift of speaking in tongues…

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An Appeal to the SBC Policy

Dr Sam Storms of Enjoying God Ministries writes a two-part appeal to the International Mission Board (IMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), which is quite interesting. His appeal is in response to their decision to forbid people who “speak in tongues” or use a “private prayer language” to serve as missionaries.

In his appeal, Storms states:

What concerned me most, as I read this report, was the apparent basis on which the decision was made. Aside from appealing to the “fact” (?) that the majority of Southern Baptists don’t believe praying in tongues is a valid exercise in the church today, the policy “interprets New Testament passages dealing with glossolalia – the Greek word for speaking in tongues – as talking about a spiritual gift enabling the bearer to speak a language that ‘generally is considered to be a legitimate language of some people group,’ and adds that a ‘prayer language as commonly expressed by those practitioners is not the same as the biblical use of glossolalia.’ It also notes that the Apostle Paul’s ‘clear teaching is that prayer should be made with understanding.’”

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Doctrine

What is Christian Doctrine… and what does the bible say about it?

Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. 2 John 1:8-9 KJV

The NIV translation reads:

Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.

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Water Baptism

The question is: Is Water Baptism a Commandment or Requirement…
or is it a Show of Faith or ‘Symbolic Gesture’?

This question came up between two friends of mine - one a Baptist, the other Pentecostal. For reference, this is a description of what the Baptist believe in regards to Water Baptism:

Baptism, commonly referred to as believer’s baptism among Baptists, is an ordinance that according to Baptist doctrine plays no role in salvation, being properly performed only after salvation, and is performed after a person professes Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. It is an outward expression that is symbolic of the inward cleansing or remission of their sins that has already taken place. It is also a public identification of that person with Christianity and with that particular local church. Most Baptist churches consider baptism by full immersion, subsequent to salvation, a criterion for membership. (source)

Does water baptism play a role in salvation… or not?

While they each felt very strong about their individual beliefs, I honestly wasnt sure which (if either) were correct. Being confused on the matter, I decided to study it for myself. Below are the Scriptures that reference water baptism in the bible…

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The Kingdom of God

What is “The Kingdom of God”?

Most people will answer this question by saying that it is heaven. And up until yesterday, that is probably the answer that I would have given myself. But yesterday during bible study, a friend and I came across a scripture that intrigued us:

And Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power.” Mark 9:1 NIV

The people that were ’standing there’ that Jesus was referring to was the crowd that had gathered and also his disciples. There are many other Scriptures in the new testament that speak about the kingdom of God as well. And before I began this recent study of the new testament… I recall reading those same scriptures and thinking that Jesus was referring to his ’second coming’ and the judgement when Christ returns.

In fact, many of those Scriptures are preached or taught in that context! However, careful study will tell us what the kingdom of God really is.

I found one Scripture in particular that really put it in perspective:

“But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” Matthew 12:28 (NIV)

This helped me to see and understand that the kingdom of God has already come, and that it resides within us. This quote is from Jesus’ response to the Pharisees when they accused him of being under Satan’s power. Jesus was speaking in the present tense about His power to drive out demons, which he had just done in front of the people (Mark 12:22). As I continued to study, it became even more clear…

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Unequally Yoked? Christian Marriage Study

Is it Unequally Yoked or Unequally Yolked?

It’s Unequally Yoked, thought it is often said or mispelled as ‘yolked’. To give you some context, a ‘yoke’ is a heavy wooden harness that fits over the shoulders of an ox. Jesus used this word in the book of Matthew to describe the burdens that we carry in our life, or the things that are upon us - each of us individually. (See Matthew 11:28-30)

In 2 Corinthians 6:14, Paul tells us “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” (NIV)

Paul urges believers not to form binding relationships with nonbelievers, because this might weaken their Christian commitment or standards. It would be a mismatch. This is where the term “unequally yoked” came from in regards to marriage.

This is sound advice to Christians who are considering marriage…

But what about those people who are already married and find themselves “unequally yoked”?

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Bearing Fruit

Bearing Fruit means showing qualities of Christian character… 

True Christians are known by their fruit. As are false prophets. In Matthew 8:15-20, Jesus teaches us how to recognize each:

(NIV) Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

Just being ’saved’ or being ‘a believer’ is not enough (James 2:19). In Luke 3:8, John the Baptist told the people to ‘produce fruit in keeping with repentance’. Repentance means to confess and also to change your ways.

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America, Wake Up!

Like most Americans, I live a very busy life and have enough on my mind any given day to keep me from thinking very much about what is going on outside the walls of my own home.

Even the world news, which is piped into my home through television and internet, I rarely watch anymore… because its sad or scary or negative. Not to mention that the media doesnt always tell the whole story and so we cant take everything that they say to heart.

But lately the world news and current events have been on my mind quite a bit. During my bible studies I began to realize more about the things going on around me, and how they ultimately have an affect on us all.

I think the thing that concerns me the most is the complacency about war and the events going on in our world - and even in our own country. People seem (for the most part) disinterested in the (real) reasons we are at war, or even that we are at war at all. Unless it affects them personally - like at the gas pump.

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The Tree of McDonalds

Super Size Me!

I was watching Super Size Me with Morgan Spurlock the other day, a documentary about the health effects of a ‘McDonalds diet’. Following the lawsuits against McDonads where two teens sued them for their obesity, Morgan sets out to conduct a personal investigation of his own into the health hazards of fast food.

This was not the usual type of movie for me, but I found myself ‘addicted’ after the first few minutes and decided to watch it. It’s an extreme investigation obviously, but the results were still eye-opening to say the least.

Morgan gained 25 pounds in 30 days, felt sluggish and miserable, lost his sex drive and his cholesterol levels increased dramatically.

The film gave a sobering look into the effects that fast food has on our health - and on our childrens health. I walked away from this with the realization of my own ‘junk intake’… and I wondered to myself:

If there were a Tree of McDonalds in the Garden of Eden, what instructions would God have given to Adam and Eve regarding this tree?

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