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Knowledge of Bible ‘in decline’

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from: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/wear/8146460.stm

Knowledge of the Bible is declining among people in the UK, according to academics from Durham University.

The National Biblical Literacy Survey found that young people believe the Bible is old-fashioned and for people like EastEnders’ character Dot Cotton. More than 900 people from faith and non-faith backgrounds were surveyed, with fewer than one in 20 able to name all of the Ten Commandments.

But the study showed many still turn to the Bible at times of emotional stress. The researchers said their findings showed the Church and politicians could no longer make assumptions about people’s knowledge of the Bible, which in under 45s is in decline.

No assumptions

The study revealed that 62% of respondents did not know the parable of the Prodigal Son and 60% could not name anything about the story of the Good Samaritan. One respondent said David and Goliath was the name of a ship, while another thought Daniel – who survived being thrown into the lions’ den – was the Lion King.

The study was funded by a consortium of national churches, charitable trusts and Bible agencies. Younger interviewees told researchers that the Bible was “old-fashioned”, “irrelevant” and “for Dot Cottons” – in reference to the churchgoing character in the BBC One soap. The Rev Brian Brown, a Methodist minister and visiting fellow in media and communication at St John’s College, Durham University, said: “The Church and political leaders should take serious note of the findings and recognise that we cannot make the assumptions we used to make about the Bible and its place in contemporary people’s lives and culture.” But he added: “Many respondents said they still turn to the Bible for support and guidance at key moments.”

Bible Increasingly “Irrelevant” in UK Study (Ingrid Schleuter)

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by Ingrid Schlueter

It should come as no surprise to those who read the British papers that a new study claims that only one in twenty Brits can name the Ten Commandments. The same study shows that 16% can’t name one. The moral anarchy in the West as a whole can be directly traced to the abandonment of the truths of God’s Word and its substitution with the lies of evolution and humanism. Moral rot and societal carnage are the natural result of man’s rebellion.

Recently, UK citizens were in an uproar over the abuse of the expenses system in Parliament. Both dominant political parties were shamed as MP’s were exposed for having lied or covered up their dishonest cashing in on a system designed to reimburse politicians for legitimate expenses. The Telegraph was filled for weeks with outrageous examples of greed and lies and profit taking at the public expense. But when a society as a whole can’t even name God’s command that stealing is sin, what do you expect? So exactly what moral code produces the public outrage? It’s the Law of God, written on the hearts of men, but deeply suppressed in unrighteousness, the Scripture tells us. God has given us all we need for life and godliness in His Word. Individuals and governments reject that at their own peril.

(Here’s an example of what’s going on: Britain’s National Health Service is handing out pamphlets letting students know about their right to a good sex life. This is in a country with the highest number of teen pregnancies in Europe.)

Run Through Romans (ch 5.18-21)

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18Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

 19For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

This is a wonderful continuation of what the word taught us in Romans 5.17: through Adam we were all made sinners, but through Christ’s life of perfect obedience that was offered up to the Lord for us, many people shall be made righteousness.  On the cross, Jesus was made sin so that we could be made righteous (2 Cor. 5.21) – to make it more real, I like to say it like this: Jesus who knew no sin became sin with our sin so that we who knew no righteousness could be made righteous with our righteousness.

That is one powerful realization: Jesus took our sin and became our sin on the cross.  Everything you have ever done wrong, every impure thought you have ever had, every lie you have ever told, every sin you have ever committed, every time you crossed the line, every time you acted like there was no line but you knew there was a line – every sin was placed on Him and He became sin with your sin.

No wonder He told the Father: if it is possible, let this cup pass from me.  No wonder as He died He yelled “My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?”  No wonder the sky was black and the earth was shaking.  He took your sin.  He took my sin.  He took the sin of the world.

Adam disobeyed and his nature became the nature of wrath, he was a child of satan and therefore took after his father, satan (read John 8 – I will post some articles expanding this at some point).  Adam’s whole nature changed – he was spiritually alive created with the spirit and breath of God inside him (Genesis 2.7) , and on the day he sinned he spiritually died losing his communion and love and life, and becoming bound with fear and guilt and shame and blame.

Since then every child of Adam (that is, every single human) has been born dead in their sins and trespasses, unable to please God, unable to serve God, unable to live in victory.  The only solution for this sin issue was if someone completely righteous, someone who never sinned, someone who was born differently so they were born spiritually alive.  Someone who lived their entire life without ever sinning and therefore never dying spiritually. 

And then that someone would have to offer up their life on our behalf, to take all of our sin, to carry it all into their body, and pay the total penalty for all of our sin.  And that is what Jesus did.  Because all the price has been paid for our sin, then we can be made righteous – not by doing anything right – but by believing in Jesus and realizing what He did and then receiving His righteous and His life which then transforms our spirit.   This experience is so life shattering it is called in the Bible being born again (John 3.3,5) – your whole inner nature changes from being dead to being alive, you stop having the nature of death and satan; and start enjoying the nature of God – being a partaker of the divine nature.

 20Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:

This is Paul re-iterating that this salvation, this life of abundance, this partaking of the divine nature, this being born again, this being made totally righteous and being able to stand before God without sin, without fear, without a sense of judgment or sense of inferiority – being able to come boldly to the throne of grace has NOTHING TO DO WITH OUR MERIT.  The purpose of the law is not to make righteousness abound, but to make offence abound.

The rules and regulations that were in the Old Testament were not to make the people good, but to show them how bad they were.  The Ten Commandments are not to make you good, they cannot make you good, they just make you want to disobey them, they just show you that you fail.  They have no power to change your heart and your attitude.

What is wonderful about this verse is that the more you sin, the more grace there is.  The more you have disobeyed, the more goodness God extends to you.  It is not your goodness that causes God to move towards you and bless you, it is His grace.  Even if you have broken all 10 commandments, and sinned in huge massive ways: God’s grace is more massive.  It is greater.

If you go back to the law and try and obey God and try and be good and try and obey God, the more you do that the more you will fail, the more you will mess up, the more you will offend against God’s holy law.  However, if you come to God and just accept that He is good, that He loves you, that He blesses you – not because you have been good but because He is good and He is kind and He is lovely, you will find that His grace is greater than your sin.  As soon as you stop trying to be good and start to trust in the fact that God is good, then you will be more holy and more loving by accident than you have ever been on purpose.  Say it outloud until you believe it from the core of your being: “God’s grace abounds more than my sin.”

 21That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

You see sin rules over your life before you are a Christian.  You are dead spiritually and sin is your master.  Because sin is your master, satan can come into your life whenever he wants.  You were the tail and not the head – just following around the circumstances of life.  Whenever you managed to succeed in one area of your life, you started to fail in another. 

But when grace entered your life because you heard and believed your entire nature changed, your entire life changed.  You stopped being spiritually dead and started being spiritually alive, you stopped being a sinner and started being righteous.  You started enjoying eternal life, you started enjoying a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

You stopped being the tail and started being the head – you can speak to mountains and they move, you can walk in victory, you can rule and reign and love life.  That is the joy of being born again, that is the fun of being a Christian: being in right relationship with God (His Son), being in right relationship with the world (it’s dominator) and being in right relationship with satan (your foot on his head, not the other way around).

Now you might read this and say: hold on Ben – I am not experiencing this.  This does not describe my life.  Well it should.  It is what you are in the spirit.  If that is not manifesting and not flooding out of you then you need to do three things:

1. Think it.  Spend time in the Bible reading Scriptures about you reigning in life. 

2. Believe it.  Let your mind paint pictures of you reigning, of you enjoying a great relationship with God, about you walking in health and wealth and victory and joy.

3. Say it.  Mark 11.23: For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. 

You need to speak to everything in your life that is in your way, and you shall have what you say.

Next time we will begin to answer one of the most important questions that a study of Romans 5 brings up: if we have peace with God because of what Jesus did, and no matter how much we sin, God’s goodness and graciousness is more than our sin, can we live however we want and sin as much as we want?  The answer will probably not surprise you, but the Biblical reasons for the answer probably will.

If this has blessed you or if you have any questions, please comment on the post and I will respond to all comments.

Blessings and love,

Benjamin

What’s Wrong with a Bit of Cussing (Ray Comfort)?

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“Ray, what is wrong with using ‘filthy language’? Biblically or otherwise? Words are words, and it is you who projects meaning onto them. ‘Filthiness’ is a category that certain words are intentionally used to carry, meaning that if (for example) the entire human race forgot the filthy words of today, new ones would pop up to take their place in the semantic vacuum. But I ask again, what’s wrong with using the f-word (filthy word)?” Lurker

If you are an atheist, you can’t say anything is morally “wrong.” Is rape wrong? If you answer “Yes,” I ask you “Who says?” If you say “Society,” then if society deemed rape morally okay, does it become right? What about murder? Is that right or wrong? What say society says it’s right, just for getting rid of Jews and blacks? Is it then right? Is it morally okay to kill children in the womb? You say again, “If society says so.” How about men marrying men? If society says so. Is pedophilia wrong? Same scenario.

You have no rock to stand on. We do. The rock upon which the Christian stands is immovable, and it will judge all of humanity (including you) on the Day of Judgment (see Romans 2:12). We have the solid rock of the Law of God. The Commandments were written in stone and they are unchanging. They tell us that murder is morally wrong, so is adultery, fornication, lust, greed, envy, and pride. Everything that violates the spirit of God’s Law is morally wrong (see Romans 7:14). That includes what the Bible calls “filthy language” (see Colossians 3:8).

A recent study found that the use of filthy language tends to help certain people deal with pain:

“The researchers enlisted 64 undergraduate volunteers and had them submerge their hand in a tub of ice water for as long as possible while repeating a swear word of their choice. The experiment was then repeated with the volunteer repeating a more common word that they would use to describe a table. Contrary to what the researcher expected, the volunteers kept their hands submerged longer while repeating the swear word.”

All these researchers found was that certain human beings with a filthy mouth (subconsciously) place value on filthy talk. No doubt blasphemy was included in their language:

“But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies”(Matthew 15:18-19).

Getting Along with People (Andrew Wommack)

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Did you know that the greatest commandments of all are not part of the Ten Commandments? In fact, all of the commandments and laws are an outgrowth of just two. Jesus said this in answer to the lawyer’s question in Matthew 22:36-40.

“Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

Many of us are praying for healing, deliverance, and prosperity. We want joy, peace, and happiness in our homes. We want better relationships with family and friends, especially during the Christmas season. However, the answer to seeing these needs and desires met is all wrapped up in receiving God’s love and then walking in that love toward others.

In September I wrote to you about God’s love toward you in the article, “Look Who Jesus Loves.” Once you understand just how much He loves you, it’s not hard to love Him with all your heart, soul, and mind and to love others as yourself. Yet, many claim to love God and still don’t walk in love toward others.

1 John 4:19-21 says,

“We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.”

That is a strong, strong passage of Scripture. Most of us want to interpret that some other way to take the bite out of it, but I just can’t see any way around this. If someone says they love God but harbor hate and resentment toward others, they are lying. We need to understand that this is the truth and begin to allow God’s love to flow through us to others, including those we don’t like and those who have hurt us.

In James 2:8 it is called the Royal Law:

“If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well.”

This means that it is the highest of all the laws, which is the same point that Jesus made in Matthew 22. The greatest thing any of us can do is to love God and to love people. That is the number one thing that God has given us to do. Until this becomes the focus of our lives, we are not going to benefit from His love working in us, and we will give Satan a tremendous inroad.

The Bible says that offenses will come. If you live on this earth among people, someone is going to rub you the wrong way sooner or later. And, according to 2 Timothy 3:12, just because you are a Christian and identify with Jesus, some are going to hate you:

“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”

Most of the problems we have with people are the result of envy and strife. It might be our fault, their fault, or both, but strife is still the result. James 3:16 states:

“For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.”

People often think of jealousy and envy as the same thing, but they are not. Jealousy desires what someone else has. But envy, according to the dictionary, is not just jealousy. It is jealousy with malice, with intent to hurt or bring another person down. Envy means you are bitter and angry; strife is when you vent that bitterness and anger.

James continues by saying that with those two things come confusion and every evil work. If God is not the author of confusion that means Satan is. So you could say that where envy and strife are found, you will also find Satan and all his evil works. Not some, but every evil work.

So, how do you deal with strife or other problems in relationships? First, evaluate the source. It is always one of four: It could be your fault, the other person’s fault, or both of you may be at fault. The fourth source occurs less often and is not the result of strife: God may want you to end a relationship that is hindering your future.

Most people do not want to accept personal responsibility. It’s much easier just to point a finger at someone else. The danger with this is that you can develop a victim mentality. You begin to believe that the reason you act the way you do is because of what other people have done to you. You don’t believe it is ever your fault. Always begin by looking at yourself first.

Often the problem is only in your mind and doesn’t actually exist. It is the result of judging the motives behind the actions of others. You jump to conclusions and take offense based on speculations. One of the qualifications of a minister is that he is sober minded. That means he is void of speculative imaginations. By assuming people’s motives are good, most offenses will never develop.

There is a time and place to discern and judge the motives of others, but it must be done properly. I don’t have the space in this letter to teach on this, so I recommend you get my new series, God’s Kind of Love Through You, which discusses speculative imaginations and godly judgment.

But, what if it’s the other person’s fault? No matter what they have done, you have a choice in your response. You have 100 percent authority over yourself. You can start walking in love toward another person anytime you decide to. Paul said, “I die daily.” And, in 2 Corinthians 4:17, he stated:

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”

I won’t list them here, but Paul’s light afflictions weren’t exactly light. They were just light in comparison to the glory he would experience in eternity. If we compared all the hurtful things people have done to us to what Jesus suffered for our sake, our suffering becomes insignificant. It’s all a matter of perspective; Paul understood that.

Most of the time broken relationships are the fault of both the people involved. That is especially true in marriage. No man has ever loved his wife the way Christ loves the church, and no woman has ever honored her husband the way the church is to honor God. The key to resolving problems in all relationships begins with forgiveness.

“Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” (Matt. 18:21-22)

“Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.” (Luke 17:3-4)

No one is going to sin against you 490 times in one day! What Jesus is saying is that if a person humbles himself and asks for forgiveness, then forgive him. Forgiveness is the most powerful weapon of all in ending strife and restoring relationships.

If this does not resolve the problem, God has a plan in His Word to help you. Again, I do not have space here to teach on this subject, but it is very important that you know what to do next. In my series, God’s Kind of Love Through You, one of the messages is titled, “Dealing with Offenses When All Else Fails.” In it, I talk about confronting the person with two or three witnesses present, taking the issue before the church, and turning someone over to Satan for the destruction of their flesh and the salvation of their soul.

In some instances, it might actually be God causing a relationship to break up. There are some relationships that God just doesn’t want you to have. For example, He doesn’t want you to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. He also doesn’t want you to have relationships that might keep you from your destiny. However, this should not be misused as an excuse to end a relationship because you’re unhappy.

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