ENCOUNTERS 4 (CLEARVIEW FOLLOWUP)

ENCOUNTERS 4 (Clearview Followup) by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Here are some key points to remember from the message:

  1. A Historical Fact to Learn: For years archaeologists struggled with finding the location of a pool named Bethesda in Jerusalem. But recently a pool to the north of the Temple Mount was identified as this pool. It is near the Sheep Gate from which the sheep were brought in for the temple sacrifice. Maybe the pool was there for ritual cleansing for the people before they entered the temple. Some have even suggested that the pool was used to wash the sheep before they were taken into the temple.
  2. A Theological Truth to Believe: Many different views have been advanced for Jesus’s final words to the crippled man – John 5:14 “Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, ‘See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.’” I don’t think that Jesus was bringing up original sin or some generational sin. Instead, He was simply demonstrated that He knew the man’s past. Apparently, the crippled man had done something bad that caused his paralysis. Maybe he was doing something wrong and it hurt him. Maybe the authorities or the mob beat him up for his crime. Jesus was warning him not to return to his old lifestyle.
  3. A Biblical Principle to Apply: “…And that day was the Sabbath. 10 The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed.” Instead of rejoicing with this man over his healing, the religious leaders had a problem with the calendar! May it never be that at Clearview that we would lose sight of what God is doing because of something trivial – some tradition or opinion.

DIGGING DEEP 13 BY ABIDAN PAUL SHAH

DIGGING DEEP – 13 by Abidan Paul Shah

Digging Deep

Digging Deep

Tying it all together:

  1. Understand the Incarnational Model of Scripture: Just as Jesus was both divine and human but without sin, so also Scripture is both divine and human and yet without errors.

Hermeneutical Triangle

Literature:

  1. Understand where we are in the History of Biblical Interpretation: Early Jewish Interpretation Sadducees (Literal), Essenes and Qumran Community (Pesher = prophecy), Diaspora (Allegory), and Pharisaic or Rabbinic exegesis, especially Midrash.

 

  1. Understand how the New Testament used the Old Testament: Single Meaning, Unified Referents; Single Meaning, Multiple Contexts and Referents; and Fuller Meaning, Single Goal.

 

  1. Understand the 7 kinds of genre in the Bible: Narrative, Poetry, Wisdom, Prophecy, Parable, Epistle, and Apocalyptic.

 

  1. Understand how language works at a particular stage: Recognize language families for Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek; Break language down into word, sentence, and paragraph.

 

History:

  1. Understand the land of the Bible: between the Nile River and the Mediterranean Sea on the West and the Zagros Mountains and the Persian Gulf in the East and between the Amanus and Ararat Mountains in the North and the Nafud Desert and the southern tip of Sinai in the South. The New Testament expanded the region into what today are Turkey, Greece, Italy, and Spain.

 

  1. Understand the political background of the Old Testament: Ancient Mesopotamia (2500-1100BC) – Sumerian & Akkadian Eras and Amorite Dynasties; Ancient Egypt (2500-1100BC); Hebrews (1150-850BC); Assyrians (900-612BC); Neo-Babylonians (625-539BC); Medes and the Persians (850-331BC); Greeks (1500-165BC).

 

  1. Understand the political background of the New Testament: Roman Empire – The Emperor, the Provinces, Client Kingdoms, Colonies and Free Cities, Roman Citizenship, Roman Law, Roman Taxation, Benefits.

 

  1. Understand the religious background of the Bible: Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Canaanite, and Greco-Roman; Religion can come in many forms – animism (animals, plants, and inanimate objects have spiritual essence), henotheism (worshipping one but acknowledging others), polytheism (many gods), and monotheism (one god).

 

Theology:

  1. Understand the Biblical Theology of the Old Testament: It adds the necessary depth to the study and interpretation of each passage in its context. Based on where a person is studying in the OT, the key/center will help in shedding light on the text in a whole new way. It will open the understanding of the text in its proper larger context of God’s promise-plan (Walter Kaiser)

 

  1. Understand the Biblical Theology of the New Testament: It keeps us from focusing on smaller and smaller parts of the Bible and helps us to get the bigger picture. Again, the key is the promise-plan of God (Walter Kaiser). It also helps to make sense of the Unity and the Diversity of the New Testament and the relationship between the Old and the New Testament.

 

Application:

  1. Understand the Role of the Holy Spirit in Biblical Interpretation: No New Revelation; No Guarantee of Infallible Interpretation; No Deeper Truth; No substitute for diligent and proper study; No Guarantee of resolution of difficult passages; Only the saved can be enabled by the Holy Spirit to truly appreciate and apply the Word; All who are saved have access to the Holy Spirit; Those who truly seek Him find His help.

 

  1. Understand the limits of Application:
  • The Bible does not give specific instructions on all issues for Christians of every age.
  • In our constantly changing world, even if the Bible were to give specific instructions regarding a situation, it will require re-adaptation and re-application of the Bible to the changing world and situation.
  • The stronger the stance is on inerrancy, the greater will be the desire to seek and apply its truths.
  • The closer the interpretation is to the original meaning, the more accurate will be the application.
  • We need to show grace and humility in our application of the Bible.

DIGGING DEEP 7 BY ABIDAN PAUL SHAH

DIGGING DEEP – 7 by Abidan Paul Shah

Digging Deep

Digging Deep

Ancient Mesopotamia (2500-1100BC)

  1. Sumerian & Akkadian Eras:
  • Nimrod is known as the first ruler (Babel, Erech, Akkad, Calneh) – Genesis 10:10.
  • Sumerians in Southern Mesopotamia were the first literate civilization in the world. They wrote on cuneiform tablets.
  • Gilgamesh of Uruk is the most well known Sumerian king. He went to interview Utnapishtim, a survivor of the Flood.
  • Next, Akkadian (probably Northern Mesopotamia) rulers became dominant.
  • Founder of the first Mesopotamian kingdom was Sargon (The King is Legitimate).
  • He conquered as far as Anatolia (Turkey) and traded as far as modern day Bahrain, Southern Iran, and India.
  • The multilevel temple known as ziggurats were built.
  1. Amorite Dynasties:
  • Elamites sacked Ur and broke Sumerian control. (2000-1750BC)
  • Famous king Hammurabi (1792-1750BC) of Babylon gave law codes to his people.

 

Ancient Egypt (2500-1100BC)

  • Most of our information about the various Egyptian dynasties is coming from an Egyptian priest Manetho (3rd cent BC). Also from the Palermo Stone and Herodotus (5th cent BC).
  • It is complicated because Egyptian kings had 5 different names: Horus name, Nebty name, Golden Horus name, Prenomen, and Nomen.
  • In a 1992 article in the Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, famous Egyptologist William A Ward wrote an article on Egyptian chronology. Listen to the summary—The current debate on Egyptian chronology is characterized by divergent opinions on the value of the Manethonian tradition, the lengths of reigns of individual Egyptian kings, the existence of coregencies, and the astronomical evidence. In each of these categories, there is little consensus and a wide range of possible solutions; a precise Egyptian chronology is therefore not possible.”
  • Here’s a proposed chronology:
  • Pre-Dynastic and Old Kingdom – (Genesis 10:6, Genesis 12, 13)
  • Middle Kingdom – (Genesis 37:28, Exodus 1:8; 5:1)
  • New Kingdom – (I Kings 11:15-20; 3:1; 10:1; etc…)
  • Third Intermediate and Late Periods (II Kings 19:9, Jeremiah 44:30)

 

Hebrews (1150-850BC)

  • United Monarchy (11-10 century BC) – Saul, David, Solomon
  • Divided Kingdoms (from 931BC) into Northern (Israel) and Southern (Judah)

 

Assyrians (900-612BC)

  • Shalmanesser III invaded Israel (Hosea 10:14-15)
  • Tiglath-Pileser (745-727) first Assyrian king to rule over Babylonia.
  • Ahaz of Judah appealed to him for help against the King of Damascus and King of Israel and he came (2 Kings 16:7-9)
  • Shalmanesser V besieged Samaria for 3 years (II Kings 17:3-6)
  • Sargon II (721-705) deported the 10 northern tribes according to Assyrian policy of deportation and relocation.
  • Assyria fell to the Chaldeans of Southern Mesopotamia.

 

Neo-Babylonians (625-539BC)

  • Nebuchadnezzar was the greatest and most well known king.
  • Captured the Southern Kingdom of Judah. In 587 BC, Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon came and destroyed Jerusalem and destroyed the temple and destroyed the walls and drove the people of Judah out of their homes. He forced them to march 700 miles across the hot desert to a land they had never seen.
  • He later repented for his pride before God.

 

Medes and the Persians (850-331BC)

  • Captured Babylon in 539BC and issued the edict to let the Jewish people return (Ezra 1:1-4).
  • Esther queen of Xerxes (486-465BC)
  • Nehemiah returned under Araxerxes I to rebuild the walls. (444-445BC)

 

Greeks (1500-165BC)

  • Alexander the Great is prophesied of in Daniel 8:5-8.
  • The spread of Greek culture.

 

Test Passages:

  1. Jonah 3:1-3 & Genesis 10:9-11

 

  1. I Samuel 8:1-9

 

  1. 2 Kings 20:12-18; Isaiah 39:1-8

 

  1. Daniel 2

Hoi Polloi Episode 8 – History of Biblical Interpretation 1

In this episode of Hoi Polloi, Pastor Shah tackles the history of biblical interpretation. In this first part, he focuses on early Jewish interpretation and how it was influenced by various traditions and schools of thought.

For more information on Digging Deep, Clearview Church’s summer Bible study, check out the Facebook page at facebook.com/ClearviewDiggingDeep. You can also find the notes from each week on Pastor Shah’s blog.

OUTLINE OF NT STUDIES – UNIT 4

OUTLINE OF NT STUDIES – UNIT 4

The following is my outline of the critical study of the New Testament based upon the following works: Werner Georg Kümmel The New Testament: The History of the Investigation of Its Problems, William Baird, History of New Testament Research 3 volumes, Stephen Neill and Tom Wright, The Interpretation of the New Testament 1861-1986, and Scott McKnight and Grant Osborne, The Face of New Testament Studies: A Survey of Recent Research.

New Testament scholarship saw a radical shift with the coming of deism. Deism was the birth child of the cosmology of Newton (1642-1727) and the rationalism of the Enlightenment. For the deists God was not some orthodox creed or some authoritarian establishment but just a natural, universal religion.

The works of John Locke (1632-1704) were instrumental in creating the framework for the impact of deism on NT scholarship. Even though Locke himself was not a deist, he formulated the philosophy that was exploited by the deists against NT. Contrary to the notion of innate ideas, as proposed by Descartes (1596-1650), Locke advocated an empirical epistemology. According to this view, there are two kinds of knowledge: external sensation and internal sensation. The mind is a blank slate wherein all knowledge comes in via external sensation. This knowledge is then appropriated and arranged by the reflection of the human mind. What cannot be known by reason is revealed by God through supernatural revelation. This revelation will not contradict reason. To this the deists retorted – if the supernatural revelation does not contradict reason, what’s the use of revelation. After all, the ordered universe and the rational mind was enough. Hence, fulfilled prophecy and supernatural miracles were no longer viable or necessary.

Locke was considered to be a pious Christian but he rejected the doctrine of original sin and was not fully orthodox with regards to the doctrine of the Trinity. He also rejected the idea of propitiatory, substitutionary atonement. He considered faith to be simply an assent to doctrines. Although Locke laid down the famous dictum: “The most certain interpreter of Scripture is Scripture itself, and it alone is infallible,” his views on Scripture were far from orthodox. He held to the opinion that the Scripture has errors. He also argued that human beings did not inherit Adam’s guilt but only his mortality. Other divergent views of Locke were that speaking in tongues in Corinth was actually speaking in Hebrew.

The father of deism was Lord Edward Herbert of Cherbury (1583-1648) and the leader of the cause was Charles Blount (1654-1693). Deists claimed that God established a rational order at creation and then stepped away. Leading propagandists were John Toland (1699-1722) and Matthew Tindal (1657-1733). Toland’s basic thesis was that “there is nothing in the gospel contrary to reason, nor above it; and that no Christian doctrine can be properly call’d a mystery.” In other words, when the doctrine of the Gospels is exposed to reason, it is rational and free of any mystery. It is the clergy who have conspired to create the idea of the mysterious. He gave another important thesis: “Nor is there any different rule to be follow’d in the interpretation of Scripture from what is common to all other books.” Although, Toland allowed for miracles, he considered them compatible with reason.

Tindal, however, was sharper in his criticism of the Bible than Toland. He considered reason to be supreme and no scripture to be beyond the reach of reason. He further asked the question – how could anyone be certain of the text of the bible, if it has so many variants. He argued that Jesus simply revived the old religion and called people back to the religion of nature, the religion of reason.

Another deist, Anthony Collins (1676-1729) rejected fulfilled prophecy as legitimate to claim the authenticity of scripture or Christianity. He argued that since the Jewish people had manipulated the Jewish text to prevent the Christians from claiming the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecy in Jesus, there was no use in trying to advocate fulfilled prophecy as a viable defence. Using allegorical interpretation of prophetic passages does not prove the truth of Christianity.

The charge against miracles was taken up by the deist Thomas Woolston (1669-1733). He tried to make a fool out of the clergy about miracles. Much can be said against Woolston’s approach. One major counterpoint is that if scripture itself lends natural explanations that invalidate miracles, then why didn’t the writers and scribes remove the incriminatory details.

Deism continued to flourish in England in the eighteenth century. Notable mentions include Peter Annet (1693-1769), Thomas Morgan (d. 1743), and Thomas Chubb (1697-1747). Annet called Moses an impostor and pointed out the discrepancies between the Paul of the letters and the Paul of the Acts. So also Morgan who blamed Moses for introducing senseless rituals of the Egyptians in the place of the rational religion of nature of Abraham, Noah, and Enoch. Christ was not the Messiah but a restorer of the natural religion. His attack of the OT is reminiscent of Marcion. He also denied the substitutionary atonement of Christ. Finally, Chubb questioned the authenticity of the Gospels. He rejected the notion that the Gospel writers were supernaturally inspired. To this can be added the doctrine of atonement, original sin, and Trinity.

Even though the deists were not biblical scholars, they raised some very important questions for biblical research. Their attacks were usually marked with sarcasm and ridicule. This did two things: open the door for more moderate attacks and open the door for defense of the scripture and orthodox Christianity. The latter somewhat impeded serious study of scripture. The deists assumed that nothing would be left of Christianity by the end of the eighteenth century but they failed to expect the coming of the Wesleyan revival. Neither did they expect the coming of David Hume (1711-1776) who argued that deism was not skeptical enough. Deism did not survive long in England but was revived in Germany.

CHRISTMAS: CHRISTIANITY’S GREATEST PROOF – Part 1 (Virgin Birth)

CHRISTMAS: CHRISTIANITY’S GREATEST PROOF – Part 1 (Virgin Birth) by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

We’re in a new series for the next three-week called, “CHRISTMAS: CHRISTIANITY’S GREATEST PROOF.” This morning we are in part 1 of this series on the Virgin Birth.

Matthew 1:18-25 18Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” 22So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” 24Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, 25and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus.

Overall Background: LIFE magazine just came out with a special edition last month (Nov. 16, 2012), titled “Jesus: Who do you say that I am?” It’s on the shelves right now. The introduction is titled “The Carpenter’s Son Who Changed Everything.” Listen to the introduction:

“From the most modest of means in a volatile part of the world that people of varying faiths…would come to call the Holy Land, a Life Cover - Jesus 2012young man emerged whose radical, inspiring philosophy seemed not only a challenge to religious orthodoxy and political authority, but perhaps a course forward through life, which was so often a vale of tears. He developed a following, and after His martyrdom, when He was barely 30 years of age, a cult….Who was this man?…To some, Jesus is the Son of God, the anointed, the Christ—born to a virgin just more than 2,000 years ago…To others Jesus is just a man….And to still others He is little more than a myth. Maybe He lived, they say, but His stature as a great and transcendent human being is a novelistic interpretation of Paul….He is, say these naysayers, an idea. But… Whether idea or man, Jesus—in whose name, surely wars have been fought, and awful deeds done—is a model that, day-to-day, encourages much good, a mirror that reflects, for many of us, our hopes….

(And then it concludes with these words) …Whether Jesus was sent from Heaven or not, whether He died on the cross or not, and ascended or did not—Jesus is alive in our time. To believers and non believers alike, Jesus matters. Still matters. He long has. He always will.”

That for a lack of a better term is “baloney.” Is it true? Does it have any facts behind it? Have we been misled to believe in a myth or an idea? Absolutely Not! But that is what’s being fed through many of our colleges and universities. Our young people are being bombarded by such false claims. This is not just a laughing matter. This is not just an optional matter like “do you like Coke or Pepsi?” or “do you like Country music or Rock Music?” or “do you like the beach or the mountains?” What you believe about Jesus decides where you will spend eternity. AND ETERNITY IS TOO LONG TO BE WRONG.

Application: This morning the question for you is not what you believe about the church or the Bible. The question is “What do you believe about Christ?” When Jesus asked His disciples “Who do you say that I am?” He did not ask that because He was confused. He asked to see if they believed in Him.

Maybe your faith has been shaken; maybe you have doubts in your heart; maybe you have questions but you feel you cannot ask them. Let the Holy Spirit of God open your heart and your mind to the truth. Don’t look at this morning’s message as just some intellectual discussion. This is a message that will increase your faith. The more you know and understand, the stronger you can stand against the assault of the enemy.

I believe Christmas (the coming of Jesus Christ) is Christianity’s Greatest Proof. This morning we are talking about the Virgin Birth. Meaning: Jesus was not just some “Carpenter’s Son.” He was God’s Son. Everything about Him was different, especially how He came in this world.

Now some people have a tough time with that. They raise some questions against it that I want us to look at this morning.

I. HOW CAN IT BE POSSIBLE?

A Virgin having a child, how can that be? This was the same question that was running through Joseph’s mind – Listen to verse 19 “Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20But while he thought about these things,

Mary visited by angelWhat is Joseph thinking? I know that I can leave this girl and move on with my life. No one is going to blame me. But could it be that she is still a virgin and yet pregnant?

By the way, this was the same question that Mary had when the angel came and gave her the word that she has found favor with God and she will conceive in her womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. In Luke 1:34 she says to the angel “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”

Both Joseph and Mary were asking the age-old question: How can a virgin have a child? In other words, are miracles possible? Some people laugh at the idea of miracles. For example: Richard Dawkins, a self-proclaimed atheist, said sometime back, “The Virgin birth, the resurrection, the raising of Lazarus, even the Old Testament miracles, all are freely used for religious propaganda, and they are very effective with an audience of unsophisticates and children.”

So are miracles possible? In fact, that is the wrong question. The real question is “Is there a God?” If you can believe that there is a God, you can believe that miracles are possible.

Now some people don’t believe in God.

Let me prove to you that there is a God in less than 2 minutes.

For e.g. Here’s a watch in my hand. I have had it for the past three years. Just looking at it I can say that it is no more than maybe 5 years old. Prior to that, this watch did not exist. It had a beginning at some factory somewhere. Somebody had to make it. Since this watch had a beginning, somebody had to make it.

In the same way, this universe began to exist at some point. I believe that it is no more than 6,000 years old. Some people say more but either way, it had a beginning. For this universe to begin to exist, somebody had to make it – the sun, moon, stars, earth, oceans, grass, animals, human beings, etc. That someone is God. People throughout the history of the world have acknowledged that there is a God. Some of the greatest minds in the world—Socrates, Galileo, Newton, Einstein—have looked at creation and declared that they believed in God. David says in Psalms 19:1 “The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.”

Let me go one step further: If God made nature; Nature has to obey Him. Miracles are simply nature obeying its Creator.

The Virgin Birth was a miracle. Never had it happened before and never since. Science cannot explain it, medical field will deny it, and anyone with a normal intelligence will laugh at it. The only way it will happen is for the moment God will enter into the sphere of natural laws (the laws that He put in place). He is not going to break them or remake them or redefine them. He will prove to the world that they are His Laws – they are subject to Him. A child is not going to drop out of the sky, he is not going to appear out of thin air. No – a woman will conceive; she will carry him 9 months; she will feel the pain of child-birth; but it will not be humanly conceived. It will be a miracle!

If you believe in God, miracles are no problem! I have no problem with God so I have no problem with miracles.

Application: God is still in the miracle business. Do you believe that? He is still healing the sick, touching the brokenhearted, and changing a sinner.

Question 1. How can it be possible?

II. HOW ABOUT ALL THE OTHER MYTHOLOGIES?

The common ones that are mentioned are: Semiramis and Tammuz

  1. Assyrian mythology where Semiramis (the wife of Nimrod) gave birth to Tammuz. According to legend she was impregnated by a sunbeam.
  2. Egyptian mythology it was handed down as Isis and Osiris.
  3. Greek mythology about Dionysius, who was born from a human mother (Semele) and the god Zeus.
  4. Indian mythology – Buddha was conceived when an elephant entered his mother’s belly.

Indra and ChildWhat are these? They are simply counterfeits put forth by Satan to prevent the real virgin birth.

In the biblical virgin birth there are real people, places, and events. In pagan myths, gods actually mated with humans. In Christianity there is no such thing. It is simply God coming into this world. By the way – pagan myths were written over time (centuries); the Gospels were written while the eyewitnesses were still around.

If you want to understand the right basis for the virgin birth, you have to look to the Old Testament. Listen toIsis and Horus Matthew 1 verse 21-23 21And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” 22So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

The virgin birth was not just an accident or an afterthought. It had been promised. In fact, it was the very first promise given to humankind.

Genesis 3:15 “And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.”

In the OT, it is always the seed of a man. But here it is the seed of a woman. This was the first prophecy – the proto-evangelium given.

Ever since then Satan has been trying to counterfeit the virgin birth or try to destroy any chances of it. Even with the Sons of God, he tried it and God destroyed the world in a flood. Later with Pharaoh, who commanded the midwives to kill the newborn sons of the Hebrews and when it failed, he commanded them thrown into the Nile. When Jesus was born – Herod tried to kill all the Jewish boys who were two and under in Bethlehem and the surrounding districts.

Application: For everything good that God has for us, Satan always has a counterfeit. Not only that he will do everything to destroy God’s work in your life.

Question 1 – How can it be possible? Question 2 – How about the other mythologies?

III. WHY WAS IT NECESSARY?

Background: Why did Jesus have to be born of a virgin? One reason—to prove that He was sinless. Some people say that Jesus did not have to be born of a virgin to be sinless. He could have been born of the sexual intercourse of two human beings and still be sinless. But listen to how the Bible describes the birth of Jesus in Matthew 1:18, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.”

The focus is not on Mary. It is on the Holy Spirit.

Sadly the focus on Mary has led to some false beliefs in the church: Often people confuse Virgin Birth with the Immaculate Conception or the Perpetual Virginity. They are not the same. Immaculate Conception teaches that Mary herself was conceived in her mother’s womb as a sinless being. This is not a biblical idea. It was just an invention of the medieval church. Even the Catholic Church did not recognize this until 1854, when Pope Pius IX declared it. On the other hand, Perpetual Virginity teaches that Mary was a virgin before, during, and after giving birth to Jesus for the rest of her life. It is not a biblical idea either. It has been held by the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church since the seventh century.

Substitute and RepresentativeVirgin Birth sets the focus on the Holy Spirit bringing the Son of God into this world. The person coming into this world was a Divine Person who was already existing before He entered into this world. He was not tainted by the sin that affects all of us who are born of Adam. He was perfect and sinless.

24Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, 25and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus.

Application: Let me ask you – “Who is Jesus to you?” Just a good man, great man, great teacher or God’s Son. He came into this world through the Holy Spirit. Only that same Holy Spirit can open your eyes to see Jesus this morning.

WHILE THE CHURCH SLEEPS

WHILE THE CHURCH SLEEPS by Pastor Shah

(54th Annual 2012 Fall Session, Cullom Baptist Association, Henderson, NC)

To watch this message, please click here.

 “That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.”

Aldous Huxley (writer and thinker)

I want us to go back in time and look at what happens when the Church looses sight of the mission and the vision and gets caught up in the trivial. The results can be devastating.

THE RISE OF ISLAM & THE STATE OF CHRISTIANITY IN THE 7TH CENTURY

The year is 582 AD – a 12-year old boy is with his uncle on a business trip to Syria. While there he sees churches and even meets a monk but he never hears the true gospel.

The year is 589 AD – a council is held in Toledo, Spain, known as the “The Third Church Council of Toledo. Three reasons for this council – First, the conversion of the Gothic King to true Christianity;  Second, 23 condemnations against anybody who followed Arianism (an old heresy); and Third, restrictions on Jewish people.`
The year is 632 AD – that same 12-year-old boy is now 63 years old. He met many Christians and he saw many churches; but he   never heard the true gospel. What he did see was contention and division. Instead he began a religion called Islam. In the process he killed many and even executed 600-700 Jewish people and had an army of 10,000. His last words on his deathbed were “Allah destroy the Jews and the Christians.”
A year later in 633 AD – Fourth Church Council of Toledo. The reason to meet – “How can we punish the baptized Jewish people   who have gone back to Judaism.”
The year is 636 AD – Arab armies under the flag of Islam have captured the areas which are modern Iraq (Mesopotamia) and   modern Iran (Persia).
In the same year (636 AD) – Fifth Church Council of Toledo. One of the decrees at the council is that if anyone were to curse the king or plot against him, they would be excommunicated from the church.
The year is 638 AD – Arab armies under the banner of Islam have captured Syria, Jerusalem, and they are getting ready to capture Armenia
In the same year (638 AD) – the Sixth Church Council of Toledo meets. The reason to meet is to affirm the decrees of the Fifth Council and once again cursed anyone who would plot against the King. Also, some more restrictions against the Jewish people.
The year is 646 AD – A lot has happened. Arab armies have captured Egypt and Armenia and Asia Minor (Modern-day Turkey).   These were all Christian nations. Cosmas Indicopleustes (Alexandrian merchant and traveler) writes in his book that in the 6th century churches were scattered all over these areas.In the same year (646 AD) – the Seventh Church   Council of Toledo met. Once again treason was punishable by excommunication and if any pastor were to speak out – he would be disgraced and the only way he would get communion is if he were dying.
The year is 653 AD – Arab armies have entered North Africa (modern-day Libya, Tunisia, Algeria).
In the same year (653 AD) – the Eighth Church Council of Toledo met. Once again, the king wrote a book of all things he wanted the pastors to tell the people.
The year is 655 AD – Arab armies are busy capturing the Island of Cyprus.
In the same year (655 AD) – the Ninth Church Council of Toledo met. This was an interesting one – if any priest were to have a child by a woman (slave or free), that child would automatically be a slave of the church where his father served. Also, anybody who got converted had to pass the test of Christian festivals in the presence of the bishops to prove their faith. If they failed, they could be flogged or made to fast – depending on their age.
The year is 681 AD – Arab armies under the flag of Islam have captured most of North Africa, Island of Rhodes (near Turkey),   parts of modern-day Afghanistan, and even parts of modern-day Pakistan.
By now there have been 3 more Church Councils of Toledo – 10, 11, and 12. Tenth (656 AD) – cannot sell Christian slaves to the Jewish people and one pastor had freed his slaves and distributed his money to the poor in his will – that was unlawful. Eleventh (675 AD) – bishops cannot buy their positions. If they did, then 2 years exile but they can keep their position. Twelfth (681 AD) – Jewish people could be persecuted by confiscating their things and you could use violence against your slaves.
The year is 702 AD – the Muslim armies (mixture of Arabs and North Africans) have destroyed the North African church –   Christians have been killed or enslaved. The Arabs claimed that they had to fight 10 wars to eradicate Christianity among the Berbers. There were as many as 3 million Coptic Christians and 5 million Berber Christians. Now the Muslim population is now 1 percent of the total population of the world. Since the last Church Council, there have been 6 Church Councils of Toledo (13-18). Topics of discussion have included treason against the King, doctrinal matters need to be believed and not discussed, and whether Christ had one will or two. Oh yes – Jewish people – we still don’t like them.
The year is 711 AD– Would you like to guess where the Muslim armies are standing? At the gates of Toledo.If it were not for a man by the name of Charles Martel who stopped the Moors at the Battle of Tours in 732 AD, all of Western Europe would have fallen into Muslim hands.

Why did I give you this history lesson?

  • To tell you that Islam is a threat? Not really
  • To tell you that we shouldn’t have Church Meetings? Not really.

What is the lesson from history?

  • When the Church loses sight of its mission and its vision, the repercussion can be devastating.
  • When the Church gets involved in the trivial and the frivolous, the consequences can change the course of history.
  • When the Church gets stuck in a rut and becomes complacent, lives are sentenced to Hell forever.

Did you know that it took over 700 years to retrieve the portion of the Iberian peninsula (Spain and Portugal) back into Christian hands. Thousands upon thousands went to an eternity without Christ—to a place called Hell—because the Church failed to make a difference. Even after the Christians gained control back, it still does not mean that everyone was now saved.

We are standing at the place where the Church of Toledo stood 1400 years ago. We are at the same spot in history. Is Radical Islam the threat to our nation? I don’t think so. As long as we vote for a President who will build up our military and not cut it back, we will be fine.

What is the Biggest Threat to our Nation? LOSTNESS. Everyday men and women, boys and girls are driving past our churches and saying “Church is not for me.”

For e.g. At one time we used to hear – once young people go to college, they walk away from the church; then, we heard – once they become teenagers, they walk away from the church. Do you know the latest report? I was at an Apologetics conference and the latest statistic is that kids 9-12 years old are walking away from the church. Why? Because the church is no longer answering the questions they are asking. At school they deal with the real issues and, at church, they hear stories.

What is the Answer? Listen to what Paul said to the Church in Rome and to the Churches of all ages.

1. We need a sense of urgency.

Romans 13:11-14 11And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.

We do not have the time to waste on the trivial. Some of the things that church people fuss about—no wonder we haven’t seen any lost souls saved in months. Our children and our grandchildren deserve better. We should be doing whatever it takes to win the new generation to Jesus Christ. We cannot afford to sit back and criticize the culture; we cannot afford to sit back and reminisce about the past; we need to get busy reaching our neighbors in Christ-honoring and relevant ways to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

2. We need to walk in Holiness.

12The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. 13Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.

There is no substitute to a life of holiness before God. We have become so much like the world that there is no difference between the church and the world. By the way, it has nothing to do with your hairstyle or music style. It is about your lifestyle. We get caught in the superficial and fail to deal with the seriousness of sin. God demands “truth in the inward parts.” We need to deal harshly with sin in our own lives.

3. We need to put on Christ.

14But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.

Meaning: When we receive Christ as our Saviour, we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ; but daily we put on Christ. Daily we remember that we are dead to ourself; it’s no longer we who live but Christ lives in us.  Let the world see Christ in and through us. Only Christ has the power to change lives. Jesus said in John 12:32 “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.”

Application: People often say to me or ask me – “Do you think we are living in the last days?” Friends – I am not as concerned about whether we are living in the last days as I am about what if the world goes on! What if Christ does not return for another hundred or five hundred or a thousand years, what will our nation look like? Are we doing all we can to lead our children and grandchildren to face the challenges that our facing them? Are we leaving this world in a better state than we found it? Will our children and grandchildren thank us in heaven that we did all we could to help them come to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, to have the Bible and Church vibrant, to have Biblical values and ethics intact for years to come. Will they look back at us and praise God that we were not asleep in the face of rising godlessness in our nation.

God has a secret weapon to handle this rise of godlessness in our nation.  They are all around us – on every street corner. They are the medium – small churches of our nation. What if every one of these medium-small churches come alive with gospel of Jesus Christ. What if our pastors make a commitment to burn their ships and stop running to the “greener grass churches” and plant themselves into their communities! We will have revival!

We are afraid of “sleeper cells” in our country. The real “sleeper cells” are the medium to small churches all across our land. Can you imagine what will happen if they wake up!

WAS ‘MONUMENTAL’ MONUMENTAL?

“WAS ‘MONUMENTAL’ MONUMENTAL?”

A large group of us went to see Kirk Cameron’s “Monumental” on the opening night. We walked in the theater just as he was welcoming the cameras into his home. As he went from room to room in his house, I began to get a little apprehensive – Are we about to watch a home movie…some cut-rate documentary with Kirk chatting from his living room? Just then, Kirk announced that before the movie he wanted us to meet some special guests—among them were William Kappen (a young musician), Alveda King (Niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) and Kirk’s own grandfather who fought in WW2. To me, that was a monumental statement of how the movie crossed generational and racial lines. It was a great reminder that the message of ‘Monumental’ was for all Americans, regardless of age and race, who are concerned about the moral decline of our nation.

After a few introductory comments, Kirk announced that it was time for the movie. I looked around the theater; we were in the overflow auditorium and the place was almost packed. Later, I learned that it was “the largest one night event in NCM Fathom’s history.” That was monumental in itself! In fact, it is quite fascinating to me that movies like Fireproof and Courageous are scoring higher at Box Offices than all the big-budget flops. People assume that most Americans could care less about moral values. Nothing is further from the truth. Morality still matters in America. If anything, the success of ‘Monumental’ proves that the moral conscience of this nation is still alive.

The house lights went dim, the title faded on to the screen, the audio-video transitioned to HD standards—this  was Hollywood quality, needless to say. For the next 90 minutes, Kirk took the audience on a fascinating journey into our nation’s past. As a student of history, the information was not new for me, but what made it very interesting were the visits to the historical sites, and interviews with historians and experts in the field. Unlike documentaries that are dull and dry, the information was presented in a “National Treasure” like style that was appealing to the younger audience. This was important for me, as our two teenagers were with us. My wife and I looked over time-to-time to see their reaction and they were into it! That was monumental! Contrary to what is often claimed, our younger generation does care about issues facing our nation. Frankly, we have failed to teach them the truth and model it.

At the end of the movie, as we made our way out, someone asked me, “What did you think about the movie?” I knew their reason for asking. They wanted to know what does someone like me—who came to this country from a foreign land—think about the Christian origins of the United States. “To be honest,” I replied, “I didn’t know any different.” Growing up overseas, we were taught that America was a Christian nation with a Christian beginning. We learned the history that is now revised or eradicated from secular textbooks in the schools and colleges all across the United States. Imagine my shock when I came here over twenty years ago and heard the debates over the separation of church and state, prayer in public schools, definition of marriage, etc. In fact, I found it ironic how people in America have used the benefits of Judeo-Christian principles—freedom, equality, and prosperity—and denied the very principles that brought them those benefits! That is a recipe for a monumental disaster.

I hope Kirk would make a sequel and trace the true history of the Founding Fathers of our nation. It just gets better and better!

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