The Biblical Congruency of Sin

Examination of Sin Through Scripture. In the last year, I have witnessed the confusion within the church to biblically address the issue of Sin. …

The Biblical Congruency of Sin

1 Thessalonians

Preparing believers to endure through difficult times.

The Letter of first Thessalonians was written to the young church so that they would be encouraged in their faith; to patiently endure. Paul was concerned about the church because they had endured so much affliction in such a short time. Christians are always promised persecution and suffering.

Romans 5:3-5 ESV More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

What caused these believers to stand out

So what was it that they understood? What was the message they had received that caused them to become new believers?

Please check out the following study guide to assist you as we move through 1 Thessalonians. Join us live on Instagram @proof_of_your_faith

Monday -Friday at 10 P.M. Pacific Standard Time and on Saturdays at 9P.M. PST.  Each Wednesday we will be going through the book of 1 Thessalonians.

Thessalonians Study Guide (Week 1)

Thessalonians  Study Guide (Week 2)

To Be A Witness

I do not know anything that would wake up Chicago better than for every man and woman here who loves Him to begin to talk about Him to their friends, and just to tell them what He has done for you.- Dwight L.

“For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How are they to call on one they have not believed in? And how are they to believe in one they have not heard of? And how are they to hear without someone preaching to them?”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭10:13-14‬ ‭NET‬‬

There is a lie that exists among people who claim to be Christians…

“I will let my actions demonstrate that I am a Christian, that will be my witness.”

That is not only a lie, but it is arrogant and cowardly. Was not Jesus perfect in all His ways? Did he not preach, share and testify?

“Consequently faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the preached word of Christ.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭10:17‬ ‭NET‬‬

Are any of us more perfect than Jesus? No, none of us are. Jesus is God. He is without sin. Since we are all sinners, then shouldn’t we all bear witness of what Jesus has done to free us from sin?

“For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel – and not with clever speech, so that the cross of Christ would not become useless. For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭1:17-18‬ ‭NET‬‬

Silence is the cowardly act of allowing evil to prevail. Silence allows the lies of misinformation to pervert the truth and change the narrative. Silence is the act of good people doing nothing, it grieves the Holy Spirit and prevents the changing of lives. Silence disengages you from relationships and enslaves you to a life of unfulfilling uselessness.

But to those who are witnesses, their lives are empowered by the Holy Spirit. Boldness embodies them. With boldness comes hope, the hope of God’s promises.

“because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel”
‭Colossians‬ ‭1:5‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Happy are those who share the good news. The Gospel is only about Jesus Christ. It is the story of God’s redemption of mankind from sin and the freedom Jesus provides from guilt, shame and condemnation. (Destroying the Message of Guilt and Shame) It is God’s love story for humanity.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
‭‭John‬ ‭3:16‬ ‭NASB‬‬

So if you love Jesus, share the good news of Jesus. If you really love your neighbor, share Jesus, because love is the proof of your faith.

Running Towards Wisdom

“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But a wise man is he who listens to counsel.” Proverbs‬ ‭12:15‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Like most teenagers, I had my rebellious moments with my parents. For some reason I earned a doctorate in pushing my dad’s buttons. It was not like I wanted to provoke my dad, I was just really good at it. One day after several months of tension and anxiety, my dad calmly sat me down and asked me if I wanted to be wise. “Of course, I want to be smart,” I blurted. My father smiled like a fox who was about to trap its prey.

He then replied, “I didn’t ask if you wanted to be smart, because I know you are. I asked, if you wanted to be wise. Do you want wisdom?”

“What is the difference,” I asked?

My dad then read this verse.

“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.” James‬ ‭3:17‬ ‭NASB‬‬

He then asked, “Does this represent you?”

That wise fox! He got me. My dad loves wisdom. He knew how to cherish it wisely. His questions were piercing my heart, leaving me with no ground to argue.

“How blessed is the man who finds wisdom And the man who gains understanding.” Proverbs‬ ‭3:13‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Our behavior towards others needs to contain the attributes of seeking righteousness, seeking peace, being gentle, and being reasonable, Christians need to show mercy. We also need to be unwavering in truth, without hypocrisy. Our truth is bound in the knowledge of scripture. In that knowledge we must live out our lives without the hypocrisy of indulging in worldly behavior. We don’t run from Godly wisdom, we run towards it.

“When pride comes, then comes dishonor, But with the humble is wisdom.” Proverbs‬ ‭11:2‬ ‭NASB‬‬

So often in life we don’t want to be corrected, we accuse people of judging us, rather than seeking the wisdom of Godly correction. The Christian, who seeks God, must run towards correction and wisdom. The foolish person hates correction and wisdom. They falsely reject it as judgmental harshness.

“Through insolence comes nothing but strife, But wisdom is with those who receive counsel.” Proverbs‬ ‭13:10‬ ‭NASB

There is a difference between judging and correcting. Correction is wisdom based on experiences or knowledge. It is done in the hope that positive change will be made. Correction is encouraging a change in behavior that is sinful in the eyes of God. A wise person will take correction, reflect on the council they received and go to God with a humble and repentant heart.

“Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.” James 1:21 NASB

As Christians we are not to judge the value of someone. We are never to judge someones salvation. For God values us all and He is the one who judges the heart. We judge behavior that goes against God, but we love the person. We do this in remembrance of our own sinful past. We are all sinners. It is only because of Jesus that a person is saved from their sins.

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans‬ ‭5:8‬ ‭NASB‬‬

So what is our role? Our role is to be an ambassador. We are ambassadors of reconciliation. Since we have been reconciled to God through Jesus, we have a duty to bring the ministry of reconciliation to the world. We are to appeal to the hearts of the lost with love and gentleness, as Christ did for us. We make this appeal using wisdom, mercy, grace, and peace. There is no room for harshness, only love.

“Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” 2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:18-20‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Be an ambassador, let the proof of your faith shine with Christ.

God Bless,

Stephan

 

When Prayer Becomes Authentic.

Do you speak to God with the clarity of speaking with a friend. Authentic prayer is empowered by the knowledge of scripture and guided by the understanding and wisdom of a loving Father.

“And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. “Give us this day our daily bread.”

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” Matthew‬ ‭6:7-13‬ ‭NASB‬‬

My earliest memories of my parents faith is their prayer life. Prayer was always at the top of their list of things to do. They would pray about everything and anything. It was such a normal activity, that even the family dog would act as if she were praying. She would sprawl close to my mom, with paws crossed during her prayer times.

My siblings and I were raised  on the numerous stories of answered prayer. These life changing accounts filled our minds with the belief that God answers prayer. It was not until I turned 12 that I saw with my own eyes the first of many miracles; my mother completely healed of the crippling disease, Myasthenia gravis. This forever doomed me to the knowledge that Christianity was real, Jesus was real and God answered prayers of righteous people. I could never deny that God was real, so I was left with no excuses. Although I rebelled often as a youth and young adult, I could not ignore where my selfish behavior was leading me. Sin can seem fun. It can also lead to destruction. We still have the free will to choose our path. I know that the tearful prayers of my parents worked.

Thank God, I finally straitened out.  Thankfully it was His goodness that allowed me to see sin as He does and bring me to repentance through Jesus Christ my Lord.

Now that I am older and wiser I return to those memories of my parents prayer life and the lessons I learned. Prayer should always be the first thing you do when facing a crisis or before making a decision. I wrote about this in a previous post: The Crazy Chaos of a Busy Life… It also needs to be persistent and enduring, which you can read in: Enduring and Persistent Communication…

Lately I have been asked, “How can my life change, so that I am really walking with Jesus?” “Why do I keep struggling with my faith?” These questions reflect a need in the church body to understand authentic prayer and Biblical based meditation on The scripture. Real changes come when people read the Bible consistently, meditate on what it says and add its understanding to their prayer life.

Isn’t it interesting that the Christian who prays every day, reads the Bible every day, memorizes scripture and shares his faith; never shows or expresses any doubts about his salvation. The knowledge of knowing the Father has given that Christian an assurance of salvation in Christ alone.

Do you want an authentic relationship with God?

So lets take a look at the example Jesus gave us on how to pray with authenticity.

“And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. So do not be like them;”

It is not the amount of words we use or the vocabulary, but the genuine heartfelt utterances that we speak to God. These are the words that matter to our Father. We do not pray mantras but sincerity from our heart and soul. We speak the languages of brokenness, honor, humility and we speak them with tears, thankfulness and praise.

“for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him”

We are to pray with the anticipation of knowing that God is paying attention to our lives, He knows every detail. We pray with the expectation that His will, will be done; because we know that He loves us. He is our Father, who is in Heaven.

“Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.

We surrender to His will, and offer thanksgiving and service to our Father’s Kingdom. We honor Him as our King, supreme in all authority, wisdom, knowledge and power. His understanding surpassing any situation we will face. We recognize that we are not alone, we belong to the Kingdom of God and are supported by the righteous right hand of God which is Jesus Christ our Lord.

“Give us this day our daily bread.”

God wants us to express our needs, concerns and fears. He want open and honest communication from us. He is never busy, always ready to listen. We remind him of the promises of Jesus.

“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”

We seek forgiveness for ourselves and for the grace to forgive and love others. Granted to us through the blood of Jesus.

“And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

We ask for deliverance from temptation and endurance to overcome the trials and tribulations of living in a sinful world. We pray for healing and for strength.

“For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”

We finish our prayer with praise, worship, and thankfulness, because God always wins. He is faithful and true, His love reigns supremely.

May your prayers be authentic and transforming. May people see Christ revealed in your life. May the proof of your faith be the Christ in you, the Hope of Glory.

God Bless,

Stephan

When God Grows Love…

The moment we respond in anger or hurt, we have dismissed love from our life. True love looks beyond the disagreement and builds a bridge that demonstrates the Christ with you.

One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; 30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 The scribe said to Him, “Right, Teacher; You have truly stated that He is One, and there is no one else besides Him; 33 and to love Him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as himself, is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” (Mark 12:28-33)

Two years ago I had the privilege of preaching through the Gospel of Mark in tandem with the senior pastor at the church where I was volunteering. It was a great experience for me. I was always a huge believer in expository preaching; but to actually explain the text verse by verse, was one of the most transforming experiences of my life.  My walk with Christ radically changed during this period. You may find this humorous, but most of the sermons I preached, affected me. It seemed that every sermon preached was at myself. I began to wonder if the passages assigned to me were done out of an intentional purpose. Did the senior pastor see something in my life that needed to be changed? I found out later that it was all the work of the Holy Spirit and the pastor was oblivious to what was happening to me. One of the passages that was life changing for me was Mark 12:28-33.

It has been over three years and that sermon still stirs within me. It convicts, encourages and transforms. This passage teaches us how to love. It gives us understanding of how to accept the love of God and where true love comes from. This may take a few posts to explain, so I plan on keeping each post easy to read. (Yes I am A.D.D. and feel your pain.) The subject of love is important for a number of reasons. Our society has forgotten how to really love one another and how to love God. It has forgotten that God loves us and what that love truly looks like.

Jesus breaks this passage down in two ways, surrendering to God and loving God. In this passage we learn that Jesus is making an absolute statement, that the greatest commandment is to live in total love and to live a completely surrendered life to God.

One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?”

For many, Christianity is a list of rules that no one one can live up to. Most people view us as hypocrites. They despise our hypocrisy because they view our moral code as changing in order to meet our own selfishness. This is not supposed to be the case. Some people try to live by a moral code. But even the best moral code fails when there is no love. The scribe was seeking righteousness through moral living. God wants us to seek righteousness through surrendered living.

And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. (Mark 8:34)

So what does this mean?

Simply put, Jesus is asking us to deny selfishness in any form or behavior, lay your life down for others and follow His example of unconditional love. Think about how contradictory that is to what the world is telling us through social media and Television. Is it loving to be on your phone texting, when you are with someone else? Of course not! We have become so self absorbed as a society that we cannot even see when others are hurting. Self love is being promoted in the absence of genuine compassionate love for others. This is denying otherness. Jesus is calling us to deny oneness, selfishness, pridefulness and our egos. Our world has become so self centered, that anyone who breathes, must conform to the collective mindset or be destroyed. Selflessness allows others to foster opinions different from our selves; yet embrace those individuals with unconditional love. Jesus demonstrated that love to us, by dying for us even though our sins were contradictory to the nature of God.

“Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” (‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭4:8-10‬ ‭NASB)

Recently, after an online Bible study, a young man asked the question, “Am I really saved?” After spending some time asking questions, it became clear that he was living with guilt and shame over his personal struggles with sin. The more we love God with our total being; heart, mind, soul and strength, the more God’s love, grace and forgiveness strengthens our resolve to follow Him in righteousness. We don’t have to worry about if we are saved, if we live in committed love towards God. We do not need to worry about our salvation, if others see the light and love of Christ in us. If our mind is dedicated to His word, and our soul to worshiping God, then our strength is in Jesus. When our heart belongs to Him, then our love will be pure and faultless. This is not earning salvation. This is living in the works of our faith out of gratitude for what Jesus did on the cross. Our salvation was earned by Jesus, as a free gift for us, but we must have the free will to receive it. The choice we make either brings us life or it leads to death.

“There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death. Even in laughter the heart may be in pain, And the end of joy may be grief. The backslider in heart will have his fill of his own ways, But a good man will be satisfied with his.” Proverbs‬ ‭14:12-14‬ ‭NASB‬‬

In the last eight years, the life I desire is to be a disciple of Jesus. I desire to be known by my love and not my anger, selfishness or tone. It is in my love for others that I demonstrate the reality of a fulfilled relationship with Jesus. My love is the proof of my faith.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” ‭‭John‬ ‭13:34-35‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Game of God’s, An Interview with Author Carl Teichrib.

Transgression through unity, a profound example of collective rebellion – and it remains a symbol of Man’s desire to collectively construct Heaven-on-Earth

A few months ago, a friend recommended a book to me that truly rocked my world. I believe this should be read by every pastor in America. I gave a quick review in the following blog post: Year End Review (Part

I was amazed to be granted an interview with the author, Carl Teichrib. The following is that interview. My questions are in bold. I did not edit any of his answers, I felt this would compromise or manipulate the interview process. I hope you enjoy, You may find his book, Game of Gods on Amazon. I have received no compensation for this interview, or for recommending his book; not even a signed copy of the book. 

 

Carl, thank you for joining us here on Proof of Your Faith. For the readers who don’t know, what is Game of Gods about?

There’s a line in the book’s Introduction that reads: “Humanity has three Great Desires: To be as God, to be Masters of Meaning and Destiny, to build Heaven on Earth – this is that story.”

Game of Gods is a sweeping survey unpacking those three interlocking subjects, the underlying worldviews tying each together  especially the spiritual-religious paradigms central to the discussion – and the implications, outcomes, and consequences. Along the way we explore the history of ideas and movements, investigating how and why the West has changed in terms of faith, purpose, and social understanding. We tackle heavy topics in the process, including the quest for global order, transhuman aspirations, the spiritual politics ofinterfaithism, and the transforming nature of cultural transgression.  

Numerous concepts and subthemes are encountered: The switchfrom Postmodernism to Re-enchantment, the role of myth in producing social vision and meaning, the shift from secularism to spirituality, the development of alternative salvation claims through political and cultural engineering, the tension between group dynamics and individual values, and the global-to-local challenges faced by the Christian community in an era of transformation. A key concern is the issue of Oneness and Otherness. 

 

For our readers, How do you define “Oneness and Otherness?

Both are ultimate views of reality.

Oneness – that God, Man, and Nature all share the same essence; that each of the three domains are fundamentally one. Interconnection, interdependence, and continuity are therefore expressed at the most meaningful level. Final distinctions are illusionary.

 Otherness – that God is utterly unique, being fundamentallyseparate (Holy and Exalted) from Man and Nature. Humanity is of a higher order than the animal and plant kingdoms, keeping in mind that the natural world has intrinsic value because of who created it.

Dr. Peter Jones from TruthXChange was helpful in fleshing out this understanding. He uses the terms One-ism and Two-ism. Consider this explanation from Dr. Jones: “Oneism is a form of spiritual holism where everything is considered good because it is an aspect of the whole – including God and Satan, virtue and vice. Twoism in its very essence contains holiness, where things are not confused but have their special, God-ordained places.”

 

What inspired you to write about this?

 It was simply time to do so. Allow me to explain. Since the early 1990s I’ve been wrestling with many of the core subjects found in Game of Gods. By the mid-1990s I was writing articles on those same topics, and in 1997 this hobby-of-sorts became a full-time endeavor as I was hired by a Christian author to be the lead researcher for a major project. After 2001 I took-up freelancing, providing research assistance for lecturers, media hosts, and other authors. Then, in 2007, I produced and edited a monthly publication titled Forcing Change, a technical magazine devoted to unpacking and understanding the spiritual, social, and political forces of change. Along the way I amassed a significant library of pertinent materials, and a repertoire of fieldwork experiences to draw from – first source information, personal interviews, and direct observations. 

With this back-story in mind, and with the advent of social media and the easy dissemination of misinformation, hype and sensationalism, I was compelled to write a book that did two things: First, rise above the noise and present an offering of practical and deep analysis – compelling us as Christians to seriously consider the subject. Second, to hopefully raise the bar in terms of Christian research and readership – to move away from memes and clickbait thinking. 

The following section of text is taken from the Scope/Structure page of my book, 

“Keep the cookies on the lower shelf,” I have heard it said, for reader’s attention spans have shortened in our age of information overload. Implied is a lower expectation, a sense that we are incapable of nuanced thought. Game of Gods, on the other hand, is written with the belief that we – author and reader – must reach for higher treasures of knowledge and understanding, that we are capable of wrestling with big ideas. With that in mind, Game of Gods is written as a robust work, treating topics with a serious tone and analytical style. Much of it is survey oriented, having a reference quality – a text you can return to in your our own studies. But it is more: Interspersed are excerpts of my own personal story, a journey of exploring and weighing world views, observing the interplay of global agendas, and being a witness to the tides of visionary ideas and grand movements. Game of Gods is meant to be a bulwark, an island fortress in a sea of chaotic information.

 

In chapter 3 of your book, you quote Francis A. Schaffer; “The church was under the teachings of the Bible – not above it and not equal to it.” Today this seems to be the opposite. Why is this dangerous for the church and Christians.

It assumes we take a position of revelator; we become the masters and dispensers of spiritual knowledge and meaning. Our focal point is no longer on God’s word and His position, but upon the power invested in ourselves. 

 

How does this impact the otherness view?

It risks blurring the distinction between God’s authority and our own. 

 

How does the “Temple of Man” differ from the biblical view that our body is a temple?

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

In this passage we recognize that, for believers in Jesus Christ, our very bodies are His own possession. 

The Temple of Man as found in Game of Gods has an entirely different context. Here, the meaning is closer to that found in Romans 1:25, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator…” It is Man’s vision of Heaven-on-Earth, a remake of Babel, humanity venerating itself; in other words, the desire to transform into something grander, a coalescence that elevates ourselves as the object of worship.

Vladimir Lenin, the Soviet visionary who believed in the Marxist engineering of a New Man, offers this chilling depiction: “Yes, we are going to destroy everything, and on the ruins we will build our temple!”

 

 How has the religion of “good works” infiltrated the church?

 Normally we think of this question from a personal perspective, that if I do the right things, then saving merit will be bestowed. In Game of Gods I push us to consider “good works” from another angle, the collective position, and give the example of the early Social Gospel movement with its version of Heaven-on-Earth. Their method of “good works” was “righteous internationalism,” world patriotism as a faith, reflected in political and economic restructuring. 

 Grand ideas of collective salvation remain in play. Going beyond the book, I witnessed this concept of collective “good works” and salvation during the fall of 2018 when attending the Parliament of the World’s Religions. The implied notion of salvation and works was evident in many of the talks and discussions, but the final remarks from the Executive Director of the Parliament hit this home: We are engaging in the salvation of the Earth, and therefore in the salvation of each other. 

 In the above examples, “good deeds” equals collective action to save humanity by transforming political, economic, and social structures. Similar thinking can be found in the teachings of contemporary Progressive Christians. Brian McLaren makes such a case in his book, Everything Must Change, downplaying traditional views of individual salvation while calling for collective restructuring to save humanity.  

 But let’s quickly return to the personal aspect, that of doing good as individuals. Yes, our faith is to be active, and good works are important in that such acts are a practical demonstration of our faith. The Book of James lays this outbeautifully and succinctly. At the same time, we need to guard ourselves against elevating good deeds as a method of redemption. Ephesians 2:8-10 is a necessary reminder of salvation by grace alone and the subsequent response of good works,

 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Why is free will pivotal to Christian theology?

 Can there be love without free will? How about rebellion? What about forgiveness? The very notion of disobedience signals the fact that we exist with free will, as does the ability to change one’s actions and heart attitudes. Can repentance exist without free will?  

 Without going into a discourse on theology, I think the above questions and their implications are important reminders of free will. Without the freedom to choose, sin and forgives, hate and compassion, love and repentance are but illusions; human relationships can be but nothing more than pre-set mechanical responses. 

 The alternative is a deterministic monism, which philosophically degrades God to an impersonal force of nature, and we are no longer responsible for our actions.  

  

Aren’t the arguments for the feelings of “Oneness” the same as the unity the body of Christ is supposed to have? The joy we have in Serving Christ?

No. The feelings of Oneness explained in the book are quite different, being experienced through a form of alternative spiritual practice (often connected to neurochemicalstimulation). This sense of Oneness is grounded in the mystical and/or ecstatic, and may be stimulated through psychedelic or entheogen substances. It is a feeling of boundary dissolving wholeness, timelessness and flow, blurring the lines between Divinity, Humanity, and Nature. Because of these features, it has immense influence upon the construction of worldviews related to the perceived “new reality.  

 I gently probe the reader to consider this question: Are we, during our church worship time, encountering the same Oneness sensation? And if so, how do we know it’s of God? Or have we inadvertently bought into the power of group flow – the energy of ecstasies – the gospel of experience? 

 

Why is Gnosticism dangerous to the body of Christ?

 Without going into the diverse believes and history of Gnosticism, a spiritual philosophy that challenged the early church, I would like to consider one part of its structure: Thatthrough the process of illumination – the unfolding, inner knowledge of self-realization – we gain access to the Kingdom of God, which is found within. It is essentially a path of self-redemption through personal experience, the discovery of the “divine spark” within the mystical heart of humanity. 

 This is a break from the moorings of Biblical doctrine, opening up a theology of self-liberation, the gospel of experiential knowledge. Gnosticism offers an alternative salvation, just as it assumes an alternative view of God.

 

Are some pastors selling positivity and Gnosticism in place of sound Biblical teachings?

 Oh yes! The Christian community has long bought into the gospel of human potential. And there is a Gnostic soft sell in much of this: of finding the secret in you, of connecting to your higher self, of contemplative practices to center yourself in the stillness of God’s quite voice. We are being asked, in so many ways, to “go within” and discover our divine union. 

 

Every chapter of your book seems to describe a new front in the war to destroy Christianity, scripture and morality. It seems overwhelming. What are Christians to do?

 I discuss a Christian response in chapter 15 – not a reaction, but a response. Basically, we have to learn what it means to be ambassadors for Christ in a pagan culture. 

 What is an ambassador? Let’s briefly explore this using Christian terminology: Someone who acts as the legal and official representative of a sending government – in our case, the King of Kings. An ambassador represents the values and interests of the King first, and then articulates the King’s message to that land, regardless if the place is hostile or accepting. An ambassador also studies the foreign culture he or she is sent into: Not to be of that world, for an ambassador is set apart, but to better understand the setting and how to effectively communicate within it.  

We have an ambassador model to work with. The Apostle Paul, while at Mars Hill (Acts 17), presents a remarkable illustrationof what this looks like. I unpack his approach on pages 533 and 534, followed by a Christian outreach example from Burning Man. 

 

In chapter 10 you describe the U.N. goal of Cosmopolis. How did the Tower of Babel let evil into the world? How does this affect us today?

 The Tower of Babel is a model of transgression through unity, a profound example of collective rebellion – and it remains a symbol of Man’s desire to collectively construct Heaven-on-Earth. It is the first recorded Temple of Man, a worship ofpower-in-unity.

 Chapter 10: Cosmopolis – the City of Man – demonstrates how this theme of power-in-unity is evident within the human landscape, from Hendrik Andersen’s dream of an International City to Stalin’s Palace of the Soviets, to more recent architectural examples. Babel, in this respect, serves as a model. More than that, it a foreshadowing of even greater expressions of collective unity.  

 

What is Transhumanism? Why should people be concerned?

 Transhumanism is an intellectual movement viewing science and technology as the means to overcome human limitations, to intervene in the evolutionary process, and thus self-create a new image of Man. 

 Here’s an explanation from Game of Gods, “Transhumanism is thus a changeover, a stepping-stone, but not the final stage; it is a transition to a post-human potential, moving beyond what we presently are. This is a future-oriented vision, one fueled by incredible scientific and technical advances, and the possibilities they portend: greatly magnifying cognitive abilities, enhancing sensory input, genetic restructuring to permanently eliminate disease and weakness, finding ways to move our consciousness into a non-corruptible body, the extension of human life – to the point of immortality – and even resurrecting the dead.”

 Ethical concerns and questions of social/cultural importance abound, but from a Christian criticism one glaring point needs to be acknowledged: At the core of Transhumanism is an alternative salvation message.

 

On your chapter “Magical Re-Enchantment,” you describe a diabolical plan that involves drugs, witchcraft, yoga, Satanism and environmentalism worship. Is this really a global initiative?

From the book’s point of view this is less of a diabolical plan and more of an historic movement, a discernable cultural shift from Postmodernism into another epoch. The examples givenreflect how Re-enchantment is structured by changing social values, presenting new myths as carriers of meaning, and how spirituality is re-packaged to fit the desired worldview. And yes, there are organizations and personalities that envision a global transformation – and they are not without influence, nor are they without some measure of success. This, too, is documented. 

 

How prevalent is the occult and satanism in our governments and the U.N.?

The United Nations abounds with people who adhere to an esoteric philosophy or mystical conception; of course, this can’t be said of everyone who works for the body – it’s an entity with an enormous range of agencies and personnel. However, many of the UN’s visionaries do lean toward esoteric and Theosophical belief systems. I witnessed this while attending the UN Millennium Forum, and to a lesser extent, the UN World Urban Forum in 2006. I’ve also observed an esoteric worldviewwithin some of the affiliated NGO community, such as LucisTrust. And in Game of Gods I quote UN personalities, like Robert Muller, who promoted a spiritual vision of Oneness within the world organization. Of course, the UN’s meditation room speaks to a level of spiritual interest. 

 As for the US government, I cannot say, as I have not studied this at a comparable level. There are, however, some indications in my text. That Washington DC does have esoteric symbolism is hinted at in chapter 7, and the ten-page discussion of the New Age exchanges in the late 1980s – a unique interlock between American and Soviet interests – is a peculiar piece of the spiritual back story I unpack in the book.

 

You made the statement, “Dear Christian, there is a danger in mistaking ecstasies for the Spirit, for in doing so, we risk exchanging Wisdom for feeling. God remains true no matter how I feel.” Why does our world crave feelings over wisdom and truth?

Feelings are compelling, affirming and gratifying, and none of this is inherently the problem. At a more base level, I think wegenerally crave to be the arbitrators of wisdom and truth – the god of our own lives – and we allow our feelings to reinforce this desire. I think we all have succumbed to this at some point in our lives. I have. 

 Another factor needs to be considered, especially for the Christian. In many cases we genuinely want to have a closer relationship with God, and we mistakenly use our feelings as the gauge to determine notions of intimacy. This is especially evident when it comes to feelings of ecstasies generated through corporate worship; it’s not theologically sound nor spiritually healthy. 

 

Why can’t Transhumanism and Christianity mix? How has it influenced the church already?

If we understand transhumanism in its fullness – to become god-like in our capability and capacity, to deify ourselves through technology and information  then the two are at odds with competing salvations claims.

 The weight of transhumanism is subtle in that it’s not the intellectual movement, so much, that exerts influence. Rather, it is the changing nature of technology that has been keenly felt in the church, especially the power of information technologies. The same problems, challenges, and complexities that the world is facing with information technologies are prevalent in the church. 

But more is at stake, and big questions loom. Allow me to include a section of text pulled from chapter 13, 

Tech-enterprises are likewise wrestling with ethical dilemmas, and governments will soon find themselves debating difficult boundaries. A few Christian ministries and institutions have also been discussing implications, but more review is necessary. Awareness within the Christian community is generally lacking; churches need to be informed and equipped to understand the worldviews behind the movement, bringing sober realism and wisdom to the conversation. Seminaries and apologetics ministries ought to formulate Biblical responses to the hope-in-technology, and search for opportunities to speak into the subject. Moreover, such an approach would be internally helpful as Christians navigate the maze of concerns and changing issues

As innovation pushes us closer to post-human promises, which way will the moral compass swing? When pragmatism clashes with ethical barriers, will transhumangoals be willingly tabled? How might the self-proclaimed “evolutionary imperative” configure in the post-human worldview? Will transhumanists claim a position of Darwinian authority; that evolution demands the strongest survive, damning those incapable of enhancement? Is the vision of techno-humanity sacrosanct? If so, then Comte’s Positivism and Darwinian pragmatism will be the guiding principles – science is all that matters, and evolutionary succession is the only measure of victory.

 If it can be done, or perceived so, will it be – no matter the cost? David Gelernter thinks so: “Everything is up for grabs. Everything will change. The Orwell law of the future: Any new technology that can be tried will be.”

 In our attempt to be a new species, will we act less than human?

 For Christians and conservative individuals, other questions need be asked: Will we shun technologies that are medically beneficial or otherwise valuable because of associations with transhumanism? I hope not. Augmentation itself is not wrong; it could be argued that eyeglasses and heart pacemakers are technological enhancements. BCI can be helpful to individuals who are physically immobilized, VR platforms are useful in communication and education, computers and internetconnectivity are important tools for business and personal use. We daily use technologies linked to transhumanvisions. Discernment is required to know the difference between the techno-faith that seeks to fundamentally transform mankind into an unknown quality, and the helpful uses of innovation for present-day humanity. Will we use innovation and technology in ways that are good and advantageous? We have in the past and I trust we will continue doing so, even being trailblazers in scientific discovery and innovative development.

Transhumanism is far more than a zeal for science and technology, a fascination with digital tools and manageable matter; it is a social pressure cooker, a container heated by the intellectual forces of Modernity.

It is also an attitude of religion.

 

Sci-Fi movies love exploring singularity, is this god like fascination to be taken seriously by Christians?

The idea of the singularity (its meaning and composition) is open to debate, even within the transhumanist community. Nevertheless, the god-fascination of transhumanism is a subject Christians need to be aware of – not because of rapid technological advances that give rise to the notion – but because of the tangible desire for ascension. In other words, it takes on a religious flavor, a saving faith in technology. And so the Christian community is faced with another redemption alternative within the marketplace of beliefs. 

 On another level, when Man plays God we tend to overstep boundaries and ethical lines, and even destroy others. This reality demands we take notice, and where possible inject a voice of caution and reason.  

  

Obviously the Oneness dogma is here to stay. How can Christianity survive in a world that celebrates it?

Arguably the Oneness dogma has been with us since Genesis 3. The Christian message of God’s truth, however, will survive because of whom it points to: Him who remains the same, yesterday and today and forever. I am reminded that the early church flourished in the midst of a pagan culture. May we, too, kindle a first-love for Jesus Christ in this present age of re-enchantment.  

 

You make it clear persecution will be the norm for Christians. Suffering will come daily, so how do we prepare? 

 The way all other Christians who have faced persecution have done it, or are now doing so. We become far more serious with our faith; we work to strengthen our families in God’s word and in love for one another; we build each other up, and the church family becomes a network of support and trust; we prepare ourselves spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and even physically if possible (can we provide for our families under the stress of suffering?); we remain active as ambassadors, changing tactics as necessary, but not losing sight of the calling; and we consciously place our hope in Christ and not Man – all easier said than done, but our strength ultimately comes from the Lord.

 Psalm 46:1-3 reminds us that,

God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling

 

How do we endure this onslaught without becoming angry, violent or loosing our love? Without compromising or denying Jesus, what methods can we use to influence change?

It’s easy to become angry, and we should be upset when we see the corruption of truth, the establishment of agendas for social control, the erosion of liberty, and the undermining of Biblical values. But there is a difference between righteous and unrighteous anger; moreover, we are to exhibit the fruits of the Spirit such as self-control. 

 Galatians 5:22-23 says, But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness,faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 

 Are there ways we can influence change? Absolutely! Without becoming a field manual with specific action points  I know that’s what many people want, but it’s not effective or healthy –my book, instead, encourages what should be self-evident approaches. Nuggets of thought, to that end, are scattered throughout the text, and pages 543 to 550 specifically engages the reader with options and examples and areas of concern. 

 I’ll end with one general but important consideration taken from page 545,

 

“We tend to think that large and organized movements are needed to effectively engage in worldview issues, that challenges to liberty and the Christian faith are best handled through agencies and groups dedicated to those causes. There is a place for such, but personal responses are needed. It is the teacher tactfully asking valid questions when the curriculum demands global citizenship; the healthcare worker who raises concerns when One-istspiritual practices are sold as medicine; the pastor challenging denominational leaders on interfaithism; the student offering alternatives to the professor’s leftist ideologies; the landowner standing up to the encroachment of overbearing green policies; the engineer and specialist reigning in technocratic tendencies in their chosen fields; the politician working on behalf of constituents while curbing the tide of statism. It is the parent showing love, and sharing in knowledge and wisdom. It is the friend who cares for a friend, and who extends a hand to the stranger.”

What we need are truth tellers who act in love, men and women who credibly stand in the gap.

Thank you so much Carl, for provoking thought and bringing awareness. It has been a pleasure having you here on Proof of Your Faith.

 

Enduring Suffering, Grieving In Tragedy.

Grief, depression and sadness are natural human responses to tragedy, trauma and suffering. We can not endure this on our own, God provides hope.

“Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. And He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept.” John‬ ‭11:32-35‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

It is never easy to lose a loved one, but for Mary this past December; she lost a daughter in a car accident and a husband to a heart attack. Her twenty year love affair with her husband, gone in a second. Her only child, cruelly ripped from her life. How do you even begin to console someone in this situation? The grief is overwhelming, nothing you say will comfort the pain. Mary was a good Christian woman, why should she suffer?

“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out of them all.” Psalms‬ ‭34:18-19‬ ‭NASB‬‬

My Aunt and Uncle, are two of the most compassionate individuals I’ve ever known. They have always demonstrated what it means to have a servant’s heart. Whomever  needed help they were there. Their help always came with joy, love and without condemnation. A few years ago my uncle was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Lately their lives have been devastated with sleepless nights, injuries and despair. My once strong Aunt, has become frail from the stress they face as a couple. Why would God allow this? Doesn’t God look out for Christians?

“Incline Your ear, O LORD, and answer me; For I am afflicted and needy. Preserve my soul, for I am a godly man; O You my God, save Your servant who trusts in You. Be gracious to me, O Lord, For to You I cry all day long. Make glad the soul of Your servant, For to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You. Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer; And give heed to the voice of my supplications! In the day of my trouble I shall call upon You, For You will answer me.” Psalms‬ ‭86:1-7‬ ‭NASB‬‬

One of the greatest lies told, is that if you become a Christian your life becomes easier and you will be happy. Trust me this is a lie.

Christians suffer. In some countries we are raped, tortured, burned alive and killed. The positivity preaching is a destructive lie. It deludes people into a false hope. Jesus said this, “”If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.” John‬ ‭15:18-19‬ ‭NASB‬‬

What happens to the new Christian when their life is thrown into tragic turmoil and they realize that being a Christian is hard and difficult? The happiness sermons and positivity preaching become cancer to a hurting soul. This is why the truth of God’s word is better than false teachings. God’s word deals with the truth! Peter warned Christians, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you;” 1 Peter‬ ‭4:12‬ ‭NASB‬‬

So is God playing games with us? Why does this happen?

Most people blame God. They become bitter and even denounce their faith. The problem is that we forget about our real enemy. We blame God for what Satan does. Satan hates us. Let’s get real for a moment, we all know there is evil in the world. We see cruelty, greed, hate and horrific acts done on our tv every day. So evil exists. So why do we blame God for what Satan is doing? Shouldn’t our anger be directed at him? Peter  warns us again,

“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.” 1 Peter‬ ‭5:8-9‬ ‭NASB‬‬

God’s word comforts us in knowing that other Christians are enduring the same trials. We are not alone, as Christians, we recognize that we are part of the body of Christ. We have each other and we have Jesus. This is why it is important for Christians to go to church, to share their burdens, to pray together and to pray for each other. United in Christ we can endure and stand against the schemings of Satan.

“After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter‬ ‭5:10-11‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Christians suffer; but God is our shield. He provides us with endurance and strength to cope through the grief, depression and the loss. Christ suffered on the cross and that becomes more meaningful, when we understand that we are sharing in His sufferings. Christ endured and persevered in His suffering for us, so that we can persevere and endure under trials of our own. We become mature as Christians complete in our faith, knowing that Christ is our shield, strength and salvation.

“Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, On those who hope for His lovingkindness, To deliver their soul from death And to keep them alive in famine.” Psalms‬ ‭33:18-19‬ ‭NASB‬‬

The attitude in which we suffer is what separates us from a world without hope. We know that this life is short in comparison to the eternal life, promised by God. This is not our kingdom, but our King is coming, we then must be prepared. God always comes through in the end.

“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” 1 Thessalonians‬ ‭4:16-18‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Don’t give up! Pray, read the Bible and pray some more. Be vigilant, be strong and love deeply. Encourage one another in love. Our time is short. Jesus is coming back!

God Bless,
Stephan

A special announcement: Next week’s blog will be special. I will have the privilege of interviewing Carl Teichrib the author of Game of Gods. Here is a link to his book and his site: gameofgods.ca 

Maintaining Your New Year Before It Breaks Down.

Wise people set goals for themselves in the New Year, areas they want to improve or even change. Some people sabotage their goals before they even begin. How will you maintain your growth? Setting positive habits builds a foundation of repeatable success.

“Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians‬ ‭3:13-14‬ ‭NASB‬‬

A new year is upon us. The old year is past. This is the time to put away bad habits and start better ones. A dear friend, Jim Hogan, once challenged the sales team that worked for him, “Don’t be afraid to form good habits, everyone has habits, the best of us work from the good habits we already formed. Good habits create repeatable success.” — Crevier Sales Meeting 2008

Jim has always lived by example, he taught me the important value of doing things right from the beginning and repeating your good habits until they become one with everything you do. The highest compliment to Jim’s success is the fierce loyalty that his sales people had for him. Past employees often speak of his integrity, his character and the way he changed their lives for the better.

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans‬ ‭12:2‬ ‭NASB‬‬

For the Christian, one who is committed to following Jesus, good habits are critical to your relationship with God and to your spiritual growth. In the passage above, Paul tells us that we can change our behavior through the renewing of our minds and that we can also know the will of God. So then how do we do this?

Like any good relationship, we need to spend time and make it a date. Yes, take the time to have a daily date with God. Read His love letter and talk to Him.

“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” Romans‬ ‭10:17‬ ‭NASB‬‬

David, the psalmist understood how to change his ways and to draw closer to God. He knew that it would require his whole heart. It requires a 100% commitment to daily listening, studying and communication with God.

“How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.” Psalms‬ ‭119:9-11‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Recently, I was asked, “What methodology do I incorporate when studying the Bible? What habits have I put in place?” So here is my list of things that I do to have an impacting experience with God.

1.) Get a Bible you want to read. Each year I get a new Bible and I switch translations from the NASB to the NKJV. My wife and kids like the NLT. The important thing is to read God’s word.

2.) Get a quality Bible. Take some pride in picking out your Bible. I prefer goat skin leather and a binding that is called smyth sewn. The binding is critical, a smyth sewn binding will last and hold up over time. (Smyth Sewn Bindings) The paper should be at a 28 gsm or greater. The best Bibles made are by Schuyler, R.L. Allan, and Cambridge. (Evangelical Bibles) This year my wife bought me my first Schuyler Bible. It is such a beautiful masterpiece of craftsmanship.

3.) Develop a system to take notes in your Bible. Don’t just write notes, write with a purpose. One day someone else will read my Bible, I wonder how will my notes inspire their relationship with Jesus. I have developed a color code system over the years that works for me. Below is an example of it.

4.) Pray before you start and after. I always ask God to give me understanding and wisdom in comprehending His word.

5.) Get a book that corresponds to what you are reading. Get some perspective. Share what you learned with a friend.

6.) Get cozy. Find a quiet place, with a comfortable chair. Make this a place that you want to go to.

7.) Make the time you spend with God, consistent. Set a time to read your Bible. Keep your date with Him

8.) Keep a journal of your growth. Write down what you learned. Look back at it and see how you have changed.

God views us as exceptional. He loves us and created us each in a unique way. The one consistent trait, is that anyone can change. God gave us free will, the ability to end mistakes and to create better attitudes and behaviors. The only way this can happen is with God’s help and through having a relationship with Him. This year choose to make your new year exceptional; by maintaining a deeper relationship with God through prayer and the reading of His word.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”‭‭”Romans‬ ‭1:16-17‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

God Bless and have a Happy New Year.

Stephan

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