12’s in the Bible

 

November 8, 2019 hepsibahgarden

 

1. The temple that king Solomon built had 12 oxen as base for the lavers.

2. The length and breadth of the Altar was 12 cubits.

3. The Holy City New Jerusalem had 12 gates and 12 Angels at each gate.

4. The disciples of Jesus were 12 in number.

5. There were 12 tribes of Israel — the 12 sons of Jacob.

6. Moses sent 12 men to spy the land of Canaan.

7. 12 baskets full of the fragments , and of the fishes remained after Jesus fed the five thousand.

8. Ishmael had 12 sons who were princes.

9. The wall of the city of New Jerusalem had 12 foundations.

10. The 1gates of New Jerusalem City were 12 pearls. Each gate was made of a single pearl.

11. The Tree of life brought forth 12 manner of fruits every month.

12. When the Israelites moved from Marah to Elim, they found 12 wells of water.

Be blessed 💕

Original here

Can A Born Again Christian Fall Away and Be Lost?

  by 

Christians have debated for centuries over whether a truly saved person can lose their salvation. Probably the strongest Biblical passage for that position is Hebrews 6:4-6. This is what the text says,

For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.

 Now, exactly what does this passage mean? It seems to indicate that a saved person who has experienced all the blessings in vs.4-5 can in the end fall away and be lost. In this blog I want to refer you to two principles of Biblical interpretation:

1) Remember that Scripture will never contradict Scripture; and

2) Remember that context rules

Scripture Will Never Contradict Scripture:

That first rule of interpretation about Scripture not contradicting Scripture comes into play because there are other passages in Hebrews which seem to teach the opposite position. Let’s take a look at a few other passages which seem to teach that a born again Christian can’t lose their salvation, because they will persevere in faith to the end.

 For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end (Heb. 3:14)

This text speaks about something that has already taken place (have become partakers of Christ) if the following condition is met (we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end). The text is not saying that we will become a partaker of Christ if we go on to hold fast the assurance of our faith until the end. Rather, we have already become partakers of Christ if we go on to persevere in faith. Thus, a person who does not hold fast their assurance firm until the end never became a partaker of Christ. Thus Hebrews 3:14 seems to be saying the exact opposite of Hebrews 6:4-6. Now, two mutually exclusive positions can not both be true. Either one of them is wrong, or both are wrong, but both can’t be true. Either it is possible for a true believer to fall away and lose their salvation, or it is not possible for a true believer to fall away and lose their salvation, but it is one or the other.

Furthermore, Hebrews 10:14 says, For by a single offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified (ESV).

If it is true that Jesus’ offering up of Himself on the cross has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified, then it is not possible for those same persons to fall away and lose their salvation. For those who are indwelt, regenerated and sanctified by the Spirit, they possess a perfect standing before God based on the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ, and it is “for all time”! They were not perfected until they fall away, but for all time.

Hebrews 13:20-21 tells us,

Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen

This text mentions the “eternal covenant.” Well, in Jeremiah 32:40 we also read of the “everlasting covenant”, which I would presume refers to the same thing. What is the nature of the everlasting covenant?

I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me.

This covenant includes two things:

1) God will not turn away from them to do them good; and

2) Those with whom this everlasting covenant is made will not turn away from God because God will put the fear of Him in their hearts.

Now, if God promises that He will never turn away from them, and that they will never turn away from Him, what is our only conclusion? That these people will never fall away and be lost.

I’ve said all of this to highlight our first principle of Biblical interpretation – “remember that Scripture will never contradict Scripture.” It appears that Scripture is contradicting Scripture. But that’s just it. It must be only an appearance of a contradiction. Our understanding of one or more of these texts must be wrong, because God who inspired all of these texts is a God of truth, and doesn’t contradict Himself. So what are we to do? We need to go back to the drawing room, and decide if we have understood Hebrews 6:4-6 correctly.

Context Rules:

In order to do that, let’s utilize our second rule of Biblical interpretation – “remember that context rules.” So, let’s go back and look at the context of this passage to see if we can uncover any clues as to its proper interpretation.

Hebrews 5:11-14 – in this section we discover several things about the recipients of this letter.

1) they were dull of hearing

2) they should have advanced to teachers by then

3) instead they needed someone to teach them the elementary principles of the Word of God

4) they were spiritual infants and unable to consume anything except for milk

5) they were spiritually immature.

Now, remember the whole situation in which this letter was written. The Letter to the Hebrews was written to Jewish believers who were being tempted to forsake Christ and go back to Judaism. That’s why all the way through the author keeps emphasizing the word “better.” Christ is better than the angels, better than Moses, better than the Aaronic priesthood, He brings in a better covenant, a better hope, better promises, and is a better sacrifice. The author of this letter is urging these new Jewish believers not to forsake Christ and go back to Judaism, for that would mean their spiritual destruction.

Hebrews 6:1-3 – Here the author exhorts his readers to press on to maturity (vs. 1). In other words, they must make progress in their faith. They should have been at the point where they could be teaching others, but were still spiritual babies. They needed to mature.

Hebrews 6:4-6 – Notice that vs. 4 begins with the word “for”, which tells us that the author is giving us a reason why the readers must press on to maturity. It is because if they have received great and precious privileges and blessings, and then have fallen away, they are lost forever. This is a very serious and solemn passage. The author of Hebrews is urgently exhorting his readers to mature in their faith and bear fruit of their salvation, because it is possible that some of them who do not do this may “fall away” and prove that they were never truly saved to begin with.

But you might be thinking, “Brian, how in the world can verses 4-5 be speaking of a person who is not truly saved? Well, let’s look at them. What are these great blessings they had experienced?

1) Enlightenment

2) Tasted of the heavenly gift (probably the gift of the Holy Spirit- Acts 2:38)

3) Partakers of the Holy Spirit

4) Tasted the good word of God

5) Tasted the powers of the age to come

Notice that these readers had “tasted” several of these blessings. Is it possible for someone to taste something, swish it around in their mouth for a while, and then spit it out? Of course it is. No doubt these readers were participating in a Christian church in which the gospel was preached (enlightened, tasted the good word of God), and the power of the Holy Spirit was manifest (tasted the heavenly gift, partakers of the Holy Spirit, tasted the powers of the age to come). So, if we were to boil down these blessings we could reduce them to two – the gospel was proclaimed and the Spirit was working. And these professing Christians had continually heard the Word and seen the Spirit work. Yet, there was still the possibility that they could “fall away” and find it impossible to be renewed again to repentance.

Many find the expression “it is impossible to renew them again to repentance” to be ironclad proof that these people were truly saved. After all, they had already repented. However, in 2 Cor. 7:10 Paul says, “For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.” Evidently there are two kinds of sorrow – one leading to salvation and the other leading to death. Just as there is a saving faith which ushers in a life of good works, and a non-saving faith which does not usher in good works, so there is a true repentance which leads to salvation and a worldly repentance which is merely regret for the misery their sin has caused them.

The author goes on to say, “since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.” Note the little word “and.” These people had once put the Son of God to open shame by valuing other things of the world more than Him. Then they professed faith in Christ and conversion. If they fell away after that, they would be doing the same thing they had done originally, by showing that they valued the rituals and laws of Judaism more than Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 6:7-8 – Notice again that vs. 7 begins with the word “for.” That tells us that he is going to explain what he meant in verses 4-6. Here he gives a little parable of two different kinds of fields. Both of these fields received abundant rains. However, only one field brought forth useful vegetation, while the other brought forth only worthless thorns and thistles. The first kind of field receives a blessing from God, while the latter is close to being cursed and ends up being burned. The author is explaining the person in vs. 4-6 who received the abundant rains of hearing the Word of God, and seeing the works of the Spirit. However, if he did not produce fruit in his life his end would be that of being “cursed” and “burned” (Mt.25:41). This brings us to the final piece of context which we need to examine.

Hebrews 6:9-12 – The author says in vs. 9, “But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way.” The author believed that his readers were the fruitful and blessed field, not the barren and cursed field. Notice how he puts it – “we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation.” Now, what are the “better things” he’s referring to? Fruitfulness and persevering faith! And, notice that these are the things that “accompany salvation.” When an individual receives salvation, he will produce fruit, and he will persevere to the end, which is exactly what Hebrews 3:14; 10:14; 13:20-21 and Jer. 32:40 all teach.

So, to sum up, I believe that Hebrews 6:4-6 is a strong, sobering, warning for any professing Christian who seems to remain in a spiritually immature condition, rather than pressing on to maturity, bearing the fruit of the Spirit, and persevering in faith to the end. To any professing Christian who has heard the Word of God continually, and seen the powers of the Holy Spirit, and then falls away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance. Why? Because they have already received all the light they can receive, and then they have turned their backs on it, and deserted Christ to go back from where they came. They have proven that the things of the world are more valuable to them than Jesus. Thus, repentance becomes impossible for them. [ The author seems to outline an unpardonable sin of falling away which seems to contradict the teaching of the Prodigal Son  Luke 15:11-31 ]

I hope this blog is more than an exercise in Biblical Hermeneutics for you. I hope it gives us all a needed and sobering reminder that true saving faith always results in a transformed life, and that we “must show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end (Heb.6:11).” None of us want to hear those terrifying words out of the mouth of our Lord, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness”!

Original here

MSNBC Calls Christians the American Taliban Because They’re Pro-Life on Abortion

|  Bill Donohue  |   Aug 18, 2021 

Twice in one week, senior pundits at MSNBC have compared Christians to the Taliban.

On August 14, MSNBC host Joy Reid, speaking of the Taliban, tweeted that “our own far religious right” is “dreaming of a theocracy that would impose a particular brand of Christianity” on American society.

On August 18, the lead story on MSNBC’s website, written by Dan Obeidallah, picks up on the comparison by criticizing Republicans who cling to “a narrow reading of their religious beliefs,” noting that they want to make their “religious beliefs into the law of the land.”

In both cases, the MSNBC pundits claimed that Christians are, just like the Taliban, against women’s rights. (They couldn’t have been thinking about Andrew Cuomo because the “former altar boy” is a Democrat.)

Reid accused Christians of wanting to “drive women from the workforce and solely into childbirth, and control all politics.” What a plainly stupid remark. Perhaps she can explain why a record number of Republican women—35 of them—were recently elected to the Congress. They are all Christians.

Obeidallah cites three issues to prove that Christians are Taliban-like creatures: their opposition to abortion; their opposition to the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act; and their opposition to the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Regarding abortion, Christians are committed to protecting the life of unborn babies. The Taliban are known to kill pregnant women such as Masooma, who was dragged out of her house in 2019, taken to a Taliban court, shot dead, and had her corpse, and that of her baby, thrown into an open field. Her crime? She criticized the Taliban for committing atrocities.

Christian Republicans opposed the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act because it redefined “domestic violence” to mean wholly non-violent acts such as “verbal” and “emotional” abuse. If that is the standard, then we will have to restock all the prisons recently emptied by Democrats.

Women earn less than men, in general, because they are more likely not to work in dangerous jobs, are more likely to work part-time, are more likely to turn down overtime, and are more likely to turn down promotions, all of which reflect women’s choices and have nothing to do with discrimination. Hence, new laws are window-dressing ploys.

Now how about the way the Taliban treat women? Here’s a quick sample.

  • Women are imprisoned in their home
  • Girls are beaten for wearing white shoes
  • Girls are not allowed to be educated after the age of eight
  • Girls are only allowed to read the Qur’an
  • Women are not allowed to speak loudly in public
  • Pictures of women are banned from all media outlets
  • Women are not allowed to appear on the balconies of their apartments

Last month, it was reported that the Taliban were ordering imams and mullahs in the Middle East to provide them with a list of girls above 15, and widows under 45, to be married to Taliban fighters. They are then treated as sex slaves.

Now there are reports that this is already happening in Afghanistan as the Taliban are going “door-to-door” looking for girls as young as 12 to become “sex slaves.”

Those who compare conservative Christians to the Taliban evince an extreme anti-Christian bigotry while denigrating the condition of women who are forced to live under Taliban rule. The comparison is obscene. So is MSNBC for giving these bigots a platform.


Related


https://pjmedia.com/vodkapundit/2021/08/19/biden-scrapped-trump-afghanistan-rescue-plan-n1470923?

https://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2021/08/19/report-state-department-memo-warned-of-afghanistan-collapse-back-in-july/

https://www.breitbart.com/clips/2021/08/19/deputy-nsa-finer-cable-warning-of-afghanistan-collapse-reflects-what-weve-said-that-nobody-got-it-exactly-right/

https://www.breitbart.com/asia/2021/08/18/martel-the-world-is-falling-talibans-inclusive-language-hoax/

https://www.breitbart.com/asia/2021/08/19/female-taliban-victim-bodies-dogs/

The Power of God in His People

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is ephesians-1-23-his-body-the-fulness-of-him-brown.jpg

ON  BY FRANCESROGERS

“That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory,
 may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation
 in the knowledge of him,
having the eyes of your hearts enlightened,
 that you may know what is the hope 
to which he has called you,
what are the riches 
of his glorious inheritance in the saints,” 
and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power
toward us who believe,
according to the working of his great might.
which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead 
and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, ”
 Ephesians 1:17-18

As with most of Paul’s phrasing in his letters, his prayers are long, also. He desires for the church the same revelation of Christ that has been given to him, and so he speaks of his prayers for them in the first and third chapters of Ephesians.

            He always gives thanks for the believers in the early churches and prays that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory would give them: 

“The spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him;”
Ephesians 1:17

Under this one heading, he explains how the Spirit by which the believers have been sealed (1:13) works wisdom and revelation in them. First, he prays that the eyes of understanding be enlightened so that they may know three things about God, the Father. 
            He builds on each one to bring the believer to see Christ in his glory and the church as the fullness of him here on earth. (1:23)

“The eyes of your hearts enlightened that ye may know (these things)”

1.  the hope to which He has called you.
2.  the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,
3.  the immeasurable greatness of his power toward those who believe

1. The hope to which He has called you.       
Paul has written earlier in this chapter of the dispensation of the fullness of time (1:10) when God shall gather together in one all things in Christ, “having chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world” (1:4). As new Christians, they were still learning what it meant to be adopted into God’s family (1:5). They did not yet know the wonder and glory of this supernatural birth through the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. They needed to know and grow in their new birth.

2. The riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.   
This adoption (1:5) that Paul speaks of, brings with it an eternal inheritance. As a recipient, he knows the riches of the glory that God the Father gives to His children. He has experienced this inheritance already. He has spoken of this inheritance in verses eleven and fourteen and is praying that they experience more and more the riches of this spiritual inheritance that they received when they heard the word of truth, and trusted in Christ. They needed to understand this inheritance that begins here in their own life.

3.  The immeasurable greatness of his power toward those who believe.
Now comes the crescendo of Paul’s prayer as he is explaining how revelation, faith and believing, the calling, and the inheritance, are by the greatness of God’s mighty power. This power he explains, ~ “that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places.” Verse 20.

  
It is a lengthy explanation that spreads over two chapters.  Paul’s prayer begins in verse fifteen to the end of the chapter, without a period.  
            The same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him at His right hand is the mighty power that quickens the sinner who is dead in trespasses and sin (2:1, 5). This is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward those who believe, our eyes enlightened by this power for salvation. 

Paul could have inserted a parenthesis in verses twenty to twenty-three in which the roles and purpose of Christ and the church are revealed, but it all fits together. It is a matter of wisdom and revelation, and requires study and meditation, for believers to understand how we are related to Christ and the church; and how we get there. 
            Christ having been raised and seated at the Father’s right hand, is far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. Verses 21-23         
            The God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, is the only one who can reveal Himself to us. He does this when he opens our eyes to see his Son, head over all things, and given to the church. His body of believers that He brings to life by the power of His Holy Spirit continues to experience His filling, the inheritance in the saints.

Dear Father, thank you for this prayer that you inspired Paul to write, not just to the early churches, but also for us. We pray this prayer for your people everywhere, that we will experience this filling, and together, this fullness of Christ. Pour out your Spirit upon us for new revelation, for we shall never have all the wisdom and knowledge here on this earth. Prepare us for your glory. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

(Excerpt from PRAYERS That Bring the House Down)

https://godsgracegodsglory.com/2021/04/14/the-power-of-god-in-his-people/

Don’t Get Onboard!

January 21, 2021 by Lisa Beth

Few people today remember or care to recall the sinking of luxury liner RMS Lusitania, destroyed by German submarine torpedoes in May 1915. It was a catalyst to USA entry into WWI. The 1,198 victims included millionaires and commoners and carried works of art by Monet, Rembrandt, and Rubens. But what may be lesser known is that all who boarded had been warned of enemy attacks on that specific ship. The warnings came from the Germans themselves, posted in major newspapers….

Lusitania_warning

Reporters investigating those who perished and the survivors found that all aboard had scoffed at these wartime warnings. They fully believed that the Lusitania was “too big and too strong” to destroy.

Why should we care about this demolished sinking ship today? It seems that many American Christians are investing emotional and spiritual time and resources into saving the luxurious traditions and lifestyle of the USA. Even though this country is sinking, many root their loyalties onboard a ship that God Himself declares destined to sink into darkness.

Increasingly worldliness – not gross sinfulness – stealthily contaminates our faith and deafens our ears to God’s call.

God warns and exhorts His people throughout scripture to separate themselves from unbelievers, living apart from mainstream world culture and values. We are not to get onboard with the world….

“…friendship with the world is hatred toward God…Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world is an enemy of God” James 4:4

In his book, Love Not The World, Watchman Nee expounds upon God’s ongoing cry for His people to separate from this world. I highly recommend this easy to read book as every line holds liberating truth for the believer…

“Separation to God, separation from the world, is the first principle of Christian living.”

“Do not let us think for a moment that Satan opposes God only be means of sin and carnality in men’s hearts; he opposes God by means of every worldly thing.”

“…everything belonging to the world is under the sentence of death. We still go on living in the world and using the things of the world, but we can build no future with them…”

“…there is a mind behind the system…an ordered system, ‘the world’ which is governed from behind the scenes by a ruler, Satan.”

“Indeed, unless we look at the unseen powers behind the material things we may be readily deceived.”

“How watchful we need to be lest at any time we be found helping Satan in the construction of (his) ill-fated kingdom.”

“The essential character of the world is Satanic; it is at enmity with God. To see this is to find deliverance.”

As Americans, we are at critical junctures in our country, much like watching a slow train crash with precious cargo. The greatest temptation for many of us is to join in the foray, fight for ‘upright morals’ and make a stand for…for what?

We are called to ‘stand’, steadfast in our faith, trusting in Jesus and His word, even upon loss of all and life itself. “He who stands firm to the end will be saved”.

Those souls boarding the Lusitania foolishly denied posted warnings of destruction. With God’s unchangeable and trustworthy ‘warnings of destruction’, we have no excuse to get onboard the world’s course. We cannot and are not called to change it nor can we delay the promised culmination of all nations under the rule of the antichrist.

I press these truths into my own heart, that I may not get onboard the wrong ship and later mourn a missed call, a neglected task or intended purpose for my life from our Heavenly Father.

As the Body of Christ in the world, our choices have eternal value and consequences.

Press on brothers and sisters!

Don’t Get Onboard!

Behold Two Paintings That Show A Miraculous Christmas Meeting

Two historic women, one old and one young, were the first to welcome and praise the Savior of the world. And two glorious paintings communicate the beauty of these wondrous events.

Behold Two Paintings That Show A Miraculous Christmas Meeting

Dec 23, 2019

If quizzed “Who was the first person to welcome Jesus and announce his lordship?” how would you answer? It’s an important question when we consider that this man from the nowhere town of Nazareth is the most consequential individual ever.

His teaching and followers across the globe radically transformed world culture, toppled great powers without ever firing a shot, established the world of humanitarianism and accessible medical care for commoners, inspired the scientific method, and enlivened the world movements for justice, human dignity, and individual freedom. He literally divides history and is responsible for the founding of the largest, most diverse collection of people around some basic ideals.

This all started with two women no one had ever heard of, whose life-altering experiences are now illustrated in two exquisite works of art. Mary, a humble, young virgin, by tradition about 14 years old at the time, is told by an angel she will give birth to the very Son of God. At this striking news, she “arose and went with haste” to see her cherished relative, Elizabeth, some 90 miles away.

Elizabeth was in the sixth month of her own miraculous pregnancy, for she was well past child-bearing years. Of course, her baby was Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist.

The beauty of this part of the Christmas story is the miracle that happens the moment Mary enters Elizabeth’s home. Christ is recognized, received, proclaimed, and worshiped, and Mary and Elizabeth are not the only two involved in the divine drama here. We read in Luke 1:41-44:

And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.

This is a major event in Jesus’ story and thus the Christian church, but we seldom appreciate it as such. It is the first time Jesus is both proclaimed and worshiped as God! This was done, we are told, “in a loud voice.” And Christ the Lord is worshiped by two people at the same time — one very old, one super young.

The First to Proclaim Jesus’ Lordship

Elizabeth proclaims the blessedness of Jesus and his mother. The simple but world-changing confession, “Jesus is Lord,” was the first and most basic way Christians began to proclaim their faith and greet one another in the church’s early years. It was the first Christian creed, and Elizabeth was the first to proclaim it, long before Christmas morning. Think on that for a moment.

The second greeting is even more incredible and speaks to an intimate relationship in the Savior’s life. Baby John leaps for joy, literally, at the coming of the Savior. He does so as a child in the darkness of his mother’s womb. (Yes, Christianity has profoundly strong words for the humanity and dignity of the unborn child in John and Jesus’ remarkable in utero contribution to the good news.)

John did not start serving as the forerunner of Christ when preaching about his coming in the desert. It was here, in the womb. And it was two very common mothers, Elizabeth and Mary, who experienced this remarkable, history-changing event. It happened in distinctly womanly interiors of their hearts and wombs, and in the humbleness of Elizabeth’s home. Humble motherhood and the intimate bond only mothers can share is the human font of the Christian story.

To be sure, the Christian church, which is often incorrectly charged with being sexist by people who know little of its actual story, is founded upon two women being the first to welcome and praise the Savior. (Remember as well, it was a small group of women who announced the “second birth” of the Savior, if you will, at his resurrection.) What other major faith or philosophy has women playing such a significant role in its founding? I cannot think of one.

Two famous paintings communicate the beauty of these wondrous events, “The Annunciation” and “The Visitation.” The first African-American painter to achieve significant critical acclaim, Henry Ossawa Tanner, created both. He is a remarkable man and one of my favorite artists.

Christmas paintings by Henry O. Tanner

‘The Annunciation’

One of the things I like best in Tanner’s two works here is that he shows us the simple humanness of Mary and Elizabeth. They are not supernatural, other-worldly, saintly subjects in the typical sense. Tanner’s images show us the regular, everyday women they were.

Christmas Painting The Annunciation

He will not allow us to miss the youth, innocence, and commonness of our Mary. Tanner doesn’t give her a facial expression communicating anything obvious. Is she scared? Stunned? Joyful? Solemn? His Mary is more complex than many artists’ as is undoubtably true of the actual event. Tanner has her communicating all these feelings and struggles at once.

When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary with this most startling news, he found a teenage girl living a typical teenage girl’s life. The greatest royal announcement in the history of the universe takes place in this teen girl’s humble bedroom, illuminated by the majesty of God’s oracle. That is precisely what Tanner gives us, and it’s just stunning. Also, his technique in presenting the folds and flow of her gown and bed coverings is nothing short of magnificent.

‘The Visitation’

As wonderful as Tanner’s “Annunciation” is, his “Visitation” is even more striking.

Just look at it and consider what’s happening here.

When Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leapt in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Christmas painting The Visitation

Tanner allows us personally to witness this event. Elizabeth most likely did not have any notice that Mary was coming or the grand news that prompted the visit. She sits at the table on an ordinary day, when she hears Mary possibly utter what any of us likely would as she comes to the door, “Liz, you home?”

Elizabeth’s divine surprise and wonder is dramatically communicated simply in her uplifted hands. It’s a glorious device. Are they hands of praise or surprise? Certainly both at the same time.

This simple scene of a surprise family visitation and domesticity is the first scene of Jesus being worshiped. Reflect on this a moment. The event we are witnessing right here in this kitchen is the initiation of what the rest of history and eternity will be about, the worship of the second person of the divine Trinity: Jesus, the Father’s beloved Son.

The interchange between these two women in this domestic setting is unspeakably profound. We typically move over it far too easily, wanting to get onto what we see as the center of the Christmas story, the manger.

This exchange is also vitally important because it is the first revelation of Christ beyond Mary’s heart and womb. It is the precise second and scene that commenced the worship of the Son of the God that will continue without end into eternity, the story that encapsulates a Christian’s whole reality.

P.S. Tanner Lived in Philadelphia

I knew Tanner lived in Philadelphia for some time, so on a business trip there some years ago, I wanted to see if his house was discoverable. It was, and I found it, right around the corner from John Coltrane’s home. How cool is that?

Henry O. Tanner house

Glenn T. Stanton is a Federalist senior contributor who writes and speaks about family, gender, and art, is the director of family formation studies at Focus on the Family, and is the author of the brand new “The Myth of the Dying Church” (Worthy, 2019). He blogs at glenntstanton.com.

https://thefederalist.com/2019/12/23/behold-two-paintings-that-show-a-miraculous-christmas-meeting/

117k people express need for Jesus after hearing Gospel through ministry’s virtual Easter events

By Leonardo Blair, Christian Post Reporter

Despite a global lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, some 117,000 people from around the world expressed an interest in committing their faith in Jesus after hearing the Gospel through virtual events hosted by evangelist Nick Hall and his young-adult ministry Pulse during the week of Easter.

Pulse led two major events during the week, namely, Leader Check-In and a Good Friday service that featured several high-profile Christian speakers, including Francis Chan, founder of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, California, who now lives in Hong Kong.

“I’m guessing this is the strangest Good Friday you’ve ever had,” Chan told viewers during his quarantined Good Friday presentation broadcast in nearly 100 countries, including Japan, China, Nepal, Thailand, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Ukraine, and Russia, and was translated into 40 different languages.

“You’re used to being in a church building with a crowd of people celebrating the cross of Jesus, but I actually think that there’s something fitting about you being alone because most of you are watching this by yourself or maybe with your family in just a small group,” he said, noting that being alone can be a golden opportunity to connect with God.

“That’s why there’s something good about you being alone right now. It’s one thing to yearn for Him and scream for Him when everyone else is there because the crowd may move you to that. But this Good Friday [it’s good] for you to have some quiet and some isolation so that the core of your being, not just your lips, the core of your being will connect with Him,” Chan said.

Other speakers featured during the Good Friday service were: renowned apologist Ravi Zacharias, bestselling author Max Lucado, NFL Super Bowl Champion and Hall of Fame Coach Tony Dungy, and the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez. Worship was courtesy of Christian singers Lauren Daigle, Michael W. Smith, Kari Jobe and Cody Carnes.

“We were literally getting smartphone photos from all over the world — from Nigeria to India and China — of families gathering in their living rooms, around 18-inch cathode-ray TVs, laptops and HD screens watching our services,” Hall said in a release shared with The Christian Post about the collective reaction to the event. “The doors to our church buildings may have been closed, but the church has not closed. We are living through a Great Quarantine Revival, and I think God is just getting started.”

At the Leader Check-In event hosted on April 8, ministry leaders and pastors were encouraged ahead of the Easter weekend. Bible teachers and bestselling authors such as Ann Voskamp, Beth Moore, Chan, David Platt, Rodriguez, Priscilla Shirer and Lecrae offered practical advice anchored in the Word of God.

“This Easter may have been the most significant in a century,” Hall said. “The fields have never been more ripe for harvest as people search for hope and meaning during this global pandemic. It may very well be the greatest opportunity we’ve had to share the Gospel — but we will miss it if we don’t care for our pastors and ministers now.”

https://www.christianpost.com/news/117k-people-express-need-for-jesus-after-hearing-gospel-through-ministrys-virtual-easter-events.html

Considering The Torn Temple Curtain

Dr. Fred Baltz | April 2, 2021 | Evidence

Model of Herod’s Temple in Jerusalem

Summary: The tearing of the Temple curtain when Jesus died holds positive meaning for Christians, the opening of access to God and his forgiveness through Jesus’ atoning death. But there is more significance to the sign than many realize. 

It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. – Luke 23:44-45 (ESV)

The Rending of the Temple Curtain at the Death of Jesus

Each Good Friday Christians remember the death of Jesus, with the accompanying darkness, earthquake, the rending of the Temple curtain from top to bottom, and more (Matthew 27:51-53; Mark 15:33-38; Luke 23:44-45). The darkness cannot have been a solar eclipse, because the full Passover moon is always on the wrong side of the earth for that to be possible. The darkness may have come from a khamsin dust storm. Both the darkness and the earthquake were widespread. The tearing of the curtain was localized at the holiest place on earth.

A khamsin dust storm over Kuwait.
A khamsin dust storm over Kuwait. These come up quickly, and can last from less than an hour to days in length. (credit: Surya Murali, licensed under CC BY-NC 3.0)

New Testament scholars point out that there were curtains in numerous places (18) in the Temple. But the Gospels surely mean the curtain most notable, most impressive, and most significant of them all. This was the curtain that separated the holiest place within the Temple proper (the naos) from the rest of the naos, and the surrounding structures of the Temple precincts. For it to be seen, the 30-foot–tall naos doors would have to be open, as we might expect them to be when the Passover lambs were being slaughtered in front of them, and the court of Israel was filled with men in three consecutive waves. These Israelites would have been able to look up and see that the Temple curtain toward the back of the naos had been torn.

And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. – Matthew 27:51 (ESV)

A model showing the different areas of Herod’s Temple in Jerusalem
The different areas of Herod’s Temple in Jerusalem. (credit: Fred Baltz)

The Magnificent Temple Tapestry

The curtain contributed to the splendor of the Temple. From Josephus and rabbinic texts we can gain some idea of its appearance. Within that central structure of the Temple, the curtain covered the entrance to the Holy of Holies which was 40 by 20 cubits, or 60’ high by 30’ feet wide.

The curtain is described in Mishnah Shekalim 8:3. (The Mishnah is the oral tradition of Jewish Law, first put in writing about the end of the Second Century AD. It is the foundation of the Talmud.) Some interpret this to mean the curtain had 72 squares joined together. Perhaps the tear happened at the central seam.

Josephus, who had seen the curtain, wrote:

“It was a Babylonian curtain, embroidered with blue, and fine linen, and scarlet, and purple, and of a contexture that was truly wonderful. Nor was this mixture of colors without its mystical interpretation, but was a kind of image of the universe; for by the scarlet there seemed to be enigmatically signified fire, by the fine flax the earth, by the blue the air, and by the purple the sea; two of them having their colors the foundation of this resemblance; but the fine flax and the purple have their own origin for that foundation, the earth producing the one, and the sea the other. This curtain had also embroidered upon it all that was mystical in the heavens, excepting that of the [twelve] signs, representing living creatures.” – The Jewish Wars 5:2, Whiston translation

The embroidered heavens on the curtain will surprise some, but this curtain represented the boundary between this world and the heavens. It was as though crossing that boundary brought the High Priest into the presence of God. It was “as though,” because the presence of God was never acknowledged to be in Herod’s Second Temple as it had been in Solomon’s Temple. The Holy of Holies no longer contained the Ark of the Covenant. Still, this was the holiest place from of old, and it was treated as such.

30’ by 60’ American flag
The dimensions of this American flag are 30’ by 60’, the same size as the Temple curtain. The Temple curtain was suspended vertically, not horizontally. (credit  giantamericanflag.com)

Aftermath of Destruction in Jerusalem, 70 A.D.

This magnificent Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D., some 40 years after the crucifixion of Jesus. That event brought changes to Israel of a magnitude unsurpassed in all its previous history. Before Jerusalem’s destruction the Temple had already become a place of murder, then hunger. When the Roman legions breached the city wall they slaughtered virtually everyone they saw, pretending not to hear calls for restraint from their commanders.

Fire consumed the Temple. Those left alive were made slaves and taken to other parts of the world. Judaism was necessarily re-invented by surviving rabbis at Tiberius. Another failed revolt followed sixty years later bringing more destruction. Not until 1948 would Israel again become a recognized nation living in its own land. (See the magnificent flooring used in the Second Temple.)

Present day area beneath Robinson’s Arch which was near the Temple in Jerusalem
The once-teeming area beneath Robinson’s Arch, adjacent to the Temple. The destruction was complete. (credit: Ethan Baltz.)

Searching for an Answer

The torn Temple curtain brings to our attention two parallel lines of thought, one from Judaism and one from Christianity, each interpreting the ruin of the nation and its Temple theologically. On this much both agree: God had brought about this devastation, not the Romans. Such a thing had already happened some six centuries earlier when Solomon’s Temple was razed by the Babylonians. The prophets said God had brought that about for the nation’s grievous, continuing sin, despite warnings.

But what were the reasons this current Temple had fallen?

From the rabbinic perspective:

“It was destroyed due to the fact that there was wanton hatred during that period. This comes to teach you that the sin of wanton hatred is equivalent to the three severe transgressions: Idol worship, forbidden sexual relations and bloodshed.” – Gemara to Yoma 9b

From the Christian perspective: Israel’s leaders had crucified the Messiah. Soon the people followed other leaders instead who incited a war that was not ordained by God. The consequence was this devastation they had brought upon themselves.

We Were Warned

Ancient people took their portents very seriously—Romans had their augurs, Mesopotamians had their sky omens, Greeks had their horoscopes.

Jewish people said God sent warnings about their Temple that went unheeded. Josephus wrote a fascinating passage about this, describing the divine portents that were witnessed at the Temple and in Jerusalem before the end (The Jewish Wars 6:5:3).

Here is a brief summary of Josephus’ Portents List:

  1. A new star and comet visible for a year
  2. Light shining around the Temple altar
  3. Heifer giving birth to lamb in Temple
  4. Massive eastern Temple door opens by itself
  5. Shining soldiers seen in the sky, moving through the clouds
  6. Priests hearing voices in the Temple, “Let us go away from here.”
  7. Jesus son of Ananus incessantly proclaiming the city’s approaching devastation

These seem to be fantastic legends without basis in fact. But a nova (new star) appears in Chinese lists for the year 70 A.D. That may be part of the explanation for the first portent.

Portent three may have involved a malformed, stillborn calf.

The fifth portent is the most incredible of the entire list. Josephus gives the calendar date for it, and the time of day, sunset. About a week away from Josephus’ calendar date a solar eclipse of 77% obscuration occurred at sunset in the year 67. Given the clouds present, and the phenomenon of shadow waves that accompany eclipses, plus the consequences of staring at the sun, the shining soldiers in the sky may be grounded in that eclipse.

Portent 6 brings to mind Ezekiel in the Old Testament. He beheld a vision of the Glory of the Lord departing the First Temple, leaving it desolate prior to its destruction (Ezekiel 10).

Portent four bears some similarity to the tearing of the Temple curtain. Both include a Temple doorway. No Jewish list includes the tearing of the curtain, but might that silence be explained by its coinciding with Jesus’ death? (Second Temple stones discovered beneath the Western Wall)

Giant American Flag suspended from the Mackinac Bridge in Michigan
This American Flag being suspended from the Mackinac Bridge is 30’ by 60’, also the size of the Temple curtain. (Credit: Michigan Department of Transportation)

More Portents from the Talmud

“Forty years before the Temple was destroyed the chosen lot was not picked with the right hand, nor did the crimson stripe turn white, nor did the westernmost light burn; and the doors of the Temple’s Holy Place swung open by themselves, until Rabbi Yochanon ben Zakkai spoke saying: ‘O most Holy Place, why have you become disturbed? I know full well that your destiny will be destruction, for the prophet Zechariah ben Iddo has already spoken regarding you saying: ‘Open thy doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may devour the cedars’ (Zech. 11:1).’ – Yoma 39b

The crimson stripe referred to above was tied to the scapegoat sent away into the wilderness on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:21–22). It now retained its red color and never faded as before, suggesting that the nation’s sin was no longer being atoned.

Painting: The Scapegoat by William Holman Hunt, 1908
The Scapegoat by William Holman Hunt, 1908. (public domain)

Jesus’ Own Warnings

Jesus himself had foretold Jerusalem’s destruction: “For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation (Luke 19:43-44).” He wept over the city saying, “Behold, your house is forsaken” (Luke 13:32-35). He warned, when you see soldiers coming, run (Luke 21:20-22)!

And Jesus did still more. In the biblical prophetic tradition he enacted a message in the Temple. Before the first Temple fell, Ezekiel had publicly displayed Jerusalem drawn on a brick, besieged by an army. Jeremiah had publicly smashed an earthen jar representing the future of the nation, the city, and the Temple. Now Jesus “cleansed” the Temple of money changers and sacrificial animals for sale (Matthew 21:12–17, Mark 11:15–19, Luke 19:45–48, John 2:13-16).

Many New Testament scholars understand this event to include a prophetic warning, a micro-destruction pointing to a macro-destruction if no repentance followed. While not a supernatural portent like those found in Josephus and the Talmud, Jesus’ Temple action included a warning of devastation to come.

Was the tearing of the Temple curtain a portent of coming, world-changing disaster upon a nation whose leaders had killed their Messiah? Those who experienced the events of Good Friday seem to have understood it just that way (Matthew 27:51-54, Mark 15:39, Luke 23:47-48).

Painting: Jesus Cleansing the Temple by Carl Bloch, 1874
From Jesus Cleansing the Temple by Carl Bloch, 1874. (public domain)

The tearing of the Temple curtain will remain for Christians a symbol of direct access to God, accomplished through Jesus’ death that takes away sin. But there is more to its message when placed in the context of portents. The torn curtain also tells us that failure to repent brings consequences. This is something that should prompt us to keep thinking.

TOP PHOTO: A model of Herod’s Temple in Jerusalem with curtain location inside the naos. (credit: Fred Baltz)

Komodo Dragon Genome Bites Evolution

BY JEFFREY P. TOMKINS, PH.D. * | SEPTEMBER 10, 2019

Komodo dragons are the largest lizards in the world and a top predator on the remote Indonesian islands they inhabit. Their sensory system allows them to detect large prey, such as deer, over seven miles away. Although Komodo dragons are cold-blooded reptiles, they can rapidly increase their metabolism to near-mammalian levels for amazing bursts of speed and even long strenuous runs. Because of their highly venomous bites, all they need is one good chomp on their victim’s leg or foot and the poisoned prey will soon be the lizard’s lunch.

The Komodo dragon’s unusual traits have made scientists eager to sequence its DNA to see what sorts of genes it contains and how it compares to other creatures. This sequencing was discussed in a recent scientific publication.1

When the researchers compared the newly sequenced Komodo dragon genes that were common among reptiles, they found many startling traits specific to the Komodo dragon and many of these genetic novelties were associated with its remarkable mammal-like ability to exhibit high levels of sustained physical activity. Because the gene variations are unique to the Komodo dragon and very different from other reptiles, the genes were deemed to be the result of “positive selection”—a magic evolutionary phrase.2

A creature’s environment has no God-like ability to create new useful genetic information for complex multi-genic traits like those associated with complex metabolic functions. Evolutionists basically substitute the magic words “positive selection” or “natural selection” for something only an omnipotent God can do.

The researchers also used other magic words to explain their non-evolutionary findings as noted in this comment from a press interview in which they stated, “Our analysis showed that in Komodo dragons, many of the genes involved in how cells make and use energy had changed rapidly in ways that increase the lizard’s aerobic capacity.”2 In this case, the term “changed rapidly” means the genes were so different and unique that the idea of random mutational processes combined with the mystical paradigm of nature supposedly “selecting” for them could not account for the great differences observed.

It’s also highly noteworthy that the researchers reported actually throwing out data in their selection analysis where the variation was deemed “unreasonably high.”The data was actually manipulated to show less variability and, therefore, more in line with the evolutionary model. The stark reality is that these genes—specific to the Komodo dragon—were engineered to produce their unique God-given traits. No sign of evolution existed in the data even though the researchers cherry-picked it to favor evolution.

The bigger evolutionary (phylogenetic) analysis the researchers did comparing the Komodo dragon DNA to other reptiles, birds, and mammals also made no evolutionary sense—the patterns and groupings were totally different than predicted by standard evolutionary models. By all accounts, the data showed that Komodo dragons were created uniquely with their own specific God-given engineering.

References
1. Lind, A. L. et al. 2019. Genome of the Komodo dragon reveals adaptations in the cardiovascular and chemosensory systems of monitor lizards. Nature Ecology & Evolution. 3: 1241-1252. DOI: 10.1038/s41559-019-0945-8.
2. Guliuzza, R. 2010. Unmasking Evolution’s Magic Words. Acts & Facts. 39 (3): 10-11.
3. Gladstone Institutes. 2019. Komodo dragon genome reveals clues about its evolution. Phys.org Posted July 29, 2019. Accessed August 15, 2019.

https://www.icr.org/article/komodo-dragon-genome-bites-evolution/

10 Things You Should Know About Anglicanism

By Gerald R McDermott -April 2, 2020

10 Things You Should Know About Anglicanism

1. It didn’t start with the divorce of Henry VIII.

Actually, it started in the very first centuries of Christianity when Romans settled Britain and Christians came as soldiers, administrators and traders. The first mention we have of English Christianity comes from Tertullian who wrote in 200 AD that “parts of England were conquered by Christ.”

Very soon, Christians in Britain developed their own way of worshiping the triune God, involving attention to the beauty of the created world and missions. The Celtic church in England differed with Rome over many points of worship, and in the fourteenth century Oxford priest, John Wycliffe, called the pope “a poisonous weed” and denied transubstantiation. All of these differences with the Roman church were centuries before Henry VIII.

2. By the fourteenth Century, England had developed a distinctive spirituality.

It was rooted in the synthesis of doctrine and prayer taught by two Christian greats: Augustine of Hippo—the great theologian whose Confessions are an extended prayer—and Benedict of Nursia, whose monasteries modeled the Christian life as work amidst liturgical prayer. By the fourteenth century, English Christianity had long been influenced by both Augustine’s “pessimistic” emphasis on sin and Benedict’s “optimistic” stress on joy in common life.

3. Anglicanism is not just for the English or for Americans.

Today the majority of Anglicans are in Africa and other regions of the Global South. Each province uses its own culture to worship God with the Book of Common Prayer and the orthodoxy of the Thirty-Nine Articles.

4. There are more Anglicans in church on Sunday morning in Nigeria than in all the British Isles and North America combined.

5. With a membership of about 85 million, Anglicanism is the third-largest Christian communion in the world, after the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church.

6. Anglicans consider their way to be a via media.

This means the “middle way” between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. They think they have the best of both—the worship of the catholic tradition of the undivided Church of the first millennium, plus the emphasis on preaching and justification by faith from the Reformation.

7. The Anglican Book of Common Prayer is widely regarded as the most beautiful worship in the English language.

The “sombrely magnificent prose” (Eamon Duffy) of the Book of Common Prayer has attracted legions of admirers all around the world. It reflects the liturgical genius of Thomas Cranmer, but it also provides moderns access to the worship of the early church. Cranmer, and the many other hands that produced the Book of Common Prayer, were adapting a basic catholic pattern of worship derived from the first few centuries of the Church that then developed over the course of the Middle Ages.

8. Anglicans worship not only with liturgy (ordered prayer that changes every Sunday of the seasons of the church year), but also with sacraments.

These are the two Dominical (commanded by the Dominus, or Lord, of the Church, Jesus) sacraments of baptism and Eucharist, and the five “sacraments of the church”—confirmation, Holy Orders, marriage, absolution, and healing of the sick.

9. Anglicans believe that in the Eucharist, they receive the real body and blood of the risen Christ.

This differs with the Catholic view of transubstantiation, which holds that the substance of the bread and wine are changed so that they are no longer bread and wine. Anglicans believe the bread and wine remain as bread and wine, but that in a mysterious way, the body and blood of Christ are also conveyed through the sacrament.

10. While Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556) was the English Reformation’s greatest liturgist, Richard Hooker (1554-1600) is widely regarded as its greatest theologian.

His Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity are a comprehensive treatment of life and worship on the via media.

Content adapted from The Future of Orthodox Anglicanism by Gerald R. McDermott. This article first appeared on Crossway.org; used with permission.

Original here