QUESTION: What do we have to believe about the traits of Jesus Himself (God, sinless, etc.) for our belief and trust in his atonement to be valid. For example, how could His death on the cross pay for our sins if He was not the perfect Son of God?
ANSWER: At the dawn of history, when God wanted the perfect symbol of the Redeemer who would come to die for the sins of the people, He chose a lamb without any blemish or defect to be the sin offering. A little lamb is the picture of innocence and a lamb without defect is the perfect picture. It was no accident that when John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him he said, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
From a theological standpoint if Jesus was not a perfect, sinless man then He could not have qualified to be our redeemer. That means He had to be God in human form because there are no sinless men. In my opinion, those who don’t believe in His deity are at the very least on shaky ground, even if they believe He died for their sins, because if He isn’t God He not only couldn’t die for our sins, someone would have to have died for His.
For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God (1 Peter 1:18-21).
QUESTION: I am taking a study on the book of John. In our current session a discussion came up on John 14:6. The leader of the group had a reference from a preacher who stated there are many ways to get to heaven and that accepting Jesus as our savior was just one. I tried to point out that the passage of John 14:6 was Jesus telling us that the only way to God and heaven is by believing in him and accepting him as our savior. Surprisingly I found myself in the minority. Please give me your thoughts on John14:6.
ANSWER: To me it’s pretty clear. In John 14:6 Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Only by accepting His death as payment in full for our sins can we stand in the presence of the Father.
One of the primary principles of Biblical understanding, sometimes called the “Golden Rule of Interpretation” says,
“When the plain sense of scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense; therefore, take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths indicate clearly otherwise.”
What explanation did they give you for not interpreting John 14:6 according to this standard?
Yochanan Visser is an independent journalist/analyst who worked for many years as Middle East correspondent for Western Journalism.com in Arizona and was a frequent publicist for the main Dutch paper De Volkskrant. He authoreda book in the Dutch language about the cognitive war against Israel and now lives in Gush Etzion. He writes a twice weekly analysis of current issues for Arutz Sheva
On April 22, for the first time in six months, the Islamic State group issued an official statement detailing the next stage of the organization’s global jihad.
ISIS spokesman Abu Hassan al-Muhajir said that Jihad is the only way forward and vowed to battle apostate governments in the Middle East. This includes the Hamas government in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority, according to al-Muhajir.
Other ‘takfiri’ governments listed by the ISIS spokesman were the Saudi government, the government of President el-Sisi in Egypt, the Assad regime and its allies in Syria, the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Iraqi government of prime minister Haider al-Abadi.
Al-Muhajir called the Saudi King Salman “taghut”, an apostate tyrant, and his son Mohammed, the de-facto ruler of the Kingdom, “an idiot,” while he accused the Taliban and Hamas of collaboration with the “crusader allies,” meaning Israel and the West.
In his 49-minutes audio message, al-Muhajir said ISIS has entered “a new phase and seeks to inherit what’s left behind by the United States”.
He claimed the Islamic State “mujahedeen” had “exhausted” the U.S. army, an apparent reference to President Trump’s repeated vow to bring the U.S. special forces in Syria home.
The ISIS spokesman spoke at length about the need to focus on the Middle East now and indicated that the group’s post-caliphate insurgency will first focus on overthrowing the Iraqi government.
Al-Muhajir called for attacks against “every pillar” of the Iraqi government and said ISIS members should kill everyone affiliated with the Shiite dominated government in Baghdad.
On March 29, ISIS newsletter al-Naba ran an oversight article detailing operations in Iraq where the barbaric Jihadist group’s new insurgency is gaining steam.
Al-Naba described numerous raids in the oil-rich Kirkuk area in northern Iraq which was previously part of the autonomous Kurdish Regional Government in the warn-torn country.
The focus of ISIS operations in northern Iraq is first and foremost on the Hash al-Shaabi, the Iranian-backed umbrella organization of predominantly Shiite militias which became an integral part of the Iraqi army at the end of 2016.
The Jihadist group operates from bases in the Jalam Desert and the Hamrin Mountains in north eastern Iraq a situation which is a cause for real concern, the Pentagon reported on March 27.
Colonel Ryan Dillan, the spokesman for the U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition in Iraq and Syria said this week that ISIS has established a new off-shoot in Iraq under the name “The White Banner” or the “White Flags”.
“Whether they or not they call themselves by a different name, they still have ISIS elements and they are still targets for the coalition and for the Iraqi security forces,” Dillon told reporters on Tuesday.
Efforts to eliminate this new threat have failed up to now, however.
Experts blame the Iraqi government for the rise of the new ISIS affiliate because it never addressed the grievances of the large Sunni population in Iraq.
The White Banner is led by former Al Qaeda and ISIS commander Hiwa Chor who was against establishing a new caliphate at this point in time.
The White Banner has already begun a campaign of kidnappings and road terror similar to what Islamic State used to do before it embarked on offensives to ‘liberate’ parts of Syria and Iraq.
The Jihadists also target candidates who participate in the election campaign in Iraq and justify these attacks by calling Iraq a “polytheistic democracy”.
On Tuesday, ISIS killed six fighters of the Hash al-Shaabi militia near Kirkuk, while Iraqi forces eliminated six ISIS terrorists in an operation near the town of al-Dibs in northern Iraq.
ISIS terrorists also detonated a bomb in Kirkuk’s Tiseini neighborhood, while others attacked Iraqi forces near the town of Gulale.
The Iraqi government, meanwhile, expanded its anti-ISIS operations to eastern Syria where ISIS bases were attacked in the area of Deir ez-Zur by the Iraqi air force earlier this week.
PM al-Abadi later vowed Iraq would continue to launch airstrikes on Islamic State positions in Syria and “would even go further than that” in order to annihilate the threat the organization poses to his country. He didn’t elaborate.
ISIS is trying to get a foothold in the border town al-Bukamal on the Syrian Iraqi border once again, and calls the area Waliyat al-Furat (Euphrates Province).
Elsewhere in the Middle East and beyond, ISIS has begun executing its new post-caliphate insurgency, as became apparent from various news reports this week.
In Egypt, the army is still struggling to achieve victory over ISIS branch Wilayat Sinai despite killing scores of ISIS terrorists over the past three months.
President el-Sisi last week extended the state of emergency in Egypt for another three months, but ISIS nevertheless expanded its operations to other parts of Egypt.
In Afghanistan, ISIS branch Wilayat Korosan attacked a Shiite neighborhood of the capital Kabul last Sunday, killing at least 57 people and wounding 119 others.
As in Iraq, the local ISIS branch is trying to disrupt democratic elections which are scheduled for October.
Wilayat Korosan has also obtained artillery, and trains its members in using surface-to-air missiles.
Then there are the Philippines where Islamic State affiliates are roaring their ugly heads again after suffering defeat in Marawi City last year.
Unnamed intelligence sources told Benar News in the Philippines there are now 23 ISIS branches operating in the country.
“They are now aggressively reorganizing, recruiting and retraining to re-establish their desire to have a foothold in Southeast Asian region,” according to the source.
What about Israel? you might ask.
Al-Muhajir mentioned the Jewish state during his audio address. He said ISIS would evict the Jews “in time” but only after his organization abolishes the current borders in the Middle East.
Islamic State believes Muslims must first return to the roots of Islam, meaning their interpretation of the Quran and the Haddith, before the battle for the liberation of al-Quds (Jerusalem) can begin.
CALIFORNIA TO BAN BOOKS? AB 2943 AN ASSAULT ON THE FIRST AMENDMENT
Once again in California, we see that the new sexual orthodoxy trumps the Constitution.
All Americans should be alarmed, and I mean increasingly so, about the California Assembly’s increasing disregard for the First Amendment.
After all, it’s the California Assembly that attempted to require pro-life pregnancy centers to advertise the state’s “free or low-cost” abortion services, the subject of a recent Supreme Court oral argument.
Even liberal Justice Sotomayor called that law “burdensome and wrong.”
But now, the California Assembly has voted to add what it calls “conversion therapy” to the list of “deceptive business practices” prohibited by state law. California already banned “conversion therapy,” at least for minors, in 2012.
This new bill, AB 2943, not only extends that ban to adults, it also makes the sale of all goods and services involving “sexual orientation change efforts” an “unlawful business practice.”
Thus, according to this bill, you can talk to a psychotherapist about your same-sex attraction as long as the goal is “acceptance, support, and understanding” and avoiding “unlawful conduct or unsafe sexual practices.”
But if the goal is to somehow to alter or even rein in those attractions or associated behaviors, it’s against the law.
Now by itself, this level of state interference with patient-doctor relationships raises significant constitutional issues. It’s forgotten that an important part of the rationale behind Roe v. Wade was that the right to privacy included doctors and patients being able to decide on a course of treatment without undue government interference.
But what makes matters worse is that AB 2943 is so broadly and vaguely worded. It’s hard to predict where this thing will reach. Words like “goods,” “acceptance,” “support” and “understanding” are the legal equivalent of minefields waiting to blow up.
For example, if a psychotherapist doesn’t try to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity but is, in the patients’ eyes, insufficiently accepting, supportive, and understanding, has he run afoul of AB 2943?
And what constitutes a “good?” Does an academic field of study count as a “good” or “service?” The implications for Christian colleges and universities are dire. Will a Summit Ministries conference, which teaches students they don’t need to act on same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria, be illegal in California?
What about books, particularly those that endorse historic Christian teaching on sexuality and marriage, like my book with Sean McDowell? Would it be banned under this law?
It’s absurd that under AB 2943, a California bookstore could sell “Mein Kampf” without legal repercussion, but not a book on changing, or even curbing the acting upon, sexual orientation. Nor is it clear which books would run afoul of AB 2943.
There’s no spelled-out difference between a “how to” manual for conversion therapy and a legal and cultural analysis of the issues, like, for example, “When Harry Became Sally” by Ryan Anderson.
David French of National Review is right when he calls the bill “extraordinarily radical.” It should alarm us all that the obvious constitutional problems weren’t obvious to the sponsors and supporting legislators.
The California Senate will now take up the bill. If you live in California, you need to let your senator know that stifling free speech under the guise of consumer protection is beyond unacceptable.
If you don’t live in California but have friends and relatives who do, send them this commentary and urge them to contact their state senator.
And for all of us: We need to pray that they will find wisdom and courage to do the right thing.
“Most people catch their presuppositions from their family and surrounding society, the way that a child catches the measles. But people with understanding realize that their presuppositions should be ‘chosen’ after a careful consideration of which worldview is true.” – Francis A. Schaeffer
A few years ago, I taught some courses on Christian Worldview. Since not everyone in the class was a Christian, this made for an interesting experience. First, I had to address the somewhat understandable confusion from my non-Christian students as to why they had to learn all this “religious” stuff. They weren’t interested in all that. Religion was all about power, money, and sex, and they wanted to set people free through “Science.”
Then, I had to contend with the Christian students who wondered why they had to learn about worldview. Their problem wasn’t that they didn’t want to get into the religious stuff; they just didn’t want to get into the thinking stuff. They, like many Americans, didn’t think they even had a worldview. They just took things as they were, loved Jesus, and tried to do right by their neighbors. That was what mattered in life, right?
Of course, the delightful irony was that they were expressing their worldviews to tell me why they didn’t need to learn about worldviews. Their vocab might have differed from what you’d hear at a Worldview conference, but the elements were there.
Both the non-Christian “setting people free through Science” and the oh-so American “taking things as they are” assume that we have the ability to know reality without our understanding being warped by our human limitations. Just “loving Jesus” assumes that the picture in our heads which we love as Christ bears more than a passing resemblance to the Jesus of the Bible. “Doing right by neighbors” assumes that our desires for them are what they truly need.
I say this not to belittle them but to highlight a reality of our lives. For a lot of us today, there is the expectation that things like worldviews are bad, unneeded and even unhelpful barriers in life. We have the presumption that we can live without presumptions, or at least that we ought to live without them. We think that we ought to come to every moment in life with an open mind, having no preconceptions to guide or to prejudge.
We’d all like to think that we are objective about life, and that bias never impinges on our decision-making. We may give a token allowance that this is a struggle, and that our circumstances have affected us, but we then quickly follow this up by saying that we are now awakened to our prejudice and are moving beyond it. That’s what being “enlightened” is all about, right? That sounds all well and good, but is it truly possible? Is it even desirable?
Consider it this way. How unbiased are you with sports? Have you ever watched a game with rabid fans of one team when you don’t care who wins? How objective were your friends? When it’s your team playing and the refs rule against you, do you think to yourself, “Ah, yes, my guys violated the rules and should be penalized accordingly,” or do you moan that the refs are obviously against you? When it’s your child on the soccer field, do you approach their game time with equanimity, or do you think the coach is wasting the wonderful talent your little Suzy possesses?
Yet, perhaps you will say, “Oh, but that’s just sports! We’d never bring preconceptions into more serious things of life!” Really? Let’s think about politics for a moment. How open-minded are you when it comes to that sort of thing? We’re not too balanced there, either. We’ve all seen those “gotcha” interviews where a comedian or political agitator gets one side or the other to be “honest” about their opponents.
While these can be written off fairly easily, it’s not so easy to dismiss more scholarly presentations. One such study noted that people’s support of a given policy had far more to do with party labels than the supposed merits of the proposal. We’re just not as objective as we’d like to think we are.
We’re ensnared by our upbringing, our nationality, and our historical moment, but we’re not trapped. In one of my favorite books, a character says something to the effect of, “The first step in avoiding a trap is knowing of its existence.” We cannot help living out the imprint of our culture in some way, but we can work, as Francis Schaeffer suggested, to see that our worldview is founded on biblical truth and not the passing fancy of our cultural moment. The first thing we have to do is understand our culture, the water we all swim in unknowingly.
So, what is our culture’s worldview? Start with Disney movies. They’re not just a lot of fun to watch, but they epitomize our culture’s worldview like little else. In nearly every Disney feature cartoon, the protagonist feels hemmed in by societal constraints, longs for salvation over the horizon, and finds release by following her heart.
Cinderella, Ariel, Pocahontas, Belle, and Mulan: They all seek and find truth and peace by their inner voice. I’m not being conspiratorial and suggesting that Disney made us think in this way, but, rather that Disney articulates and amplifies what it is that we already believe.
Now, I for one don’t normally think of myself as a Disney princess, but the point still stands. Our culture tells us that we are all trapped in some way and that the path of salvation comes through following the call our inmost selves towards freedom. Freedom to do what is less clear, but freedom comes only from absolute obedience to our hearts. Whether we like it or not, that is a worldview statement. It deals with the problems of our world, who we are as humans, how to know what is true, and what to do to fix things.
This sort of thinking is fine, for a cartoon, but it runs into problems when we absorb this cultural worldview and try to live out our Christianity accordingly. Too many of us float along with prevailing stream, unaware that we’re operating on the same impulsive pattern as the watching world.
Like the proverbial frog in the kettle, we’ve abandoned the biblical understanding of the world because we’ve stopped looking to the Bible for truth and now only search our own hearts.
The cultural commandments to “look within” and “follow your heart” is nearly as antithetical to biblical revelation as can be imagined. Instead, we find in the Bible the admonition to trust in God’s revealed Word for our knowledge of the world, of ourselves, of Him, and for our salvation. The truth will indeed set you free, but it is the truth of His Word, and not our own understanding.
Our hearts do matter. We are not purely cognitive entities. Nor are we computers on legs but personal beings whose affections are wrapped up in our choices. As image bearers of God Himself, we share His person-hood. Things don’t matter to rocks; they matter to people. We’re shaped by what we believe and what we love, but it’s important that we believe and love the right things.
Ask yourselves this: When you face an ethical question -homosexuality, abortion, war – where do you look for guidance? When you come against a doctrinal question -the nature of God, salvation, human dignity – what is the source of your insight? Will you follow the culture’s explanations, or will you seek after God’s?
You are going to have a worldview. Try as you may, you can’t avoid that. The question is only whether your worldview will be driven only by the prevailing winds of culture or will you look to revelation of the Spirit of God?
To quote Schaeffer once more, “He is there, and He is not silent.” Listen to Him.
The French acronym of Belgium’s ISLAM Party stands for “Integrity, Solidarity, Liberty, Authenticity, Morality”. The leaders of the ISLAM Party apparently want to turn Belgium into an Islamic State. They call it “Islamist democracy” and have set a target date: 2030.
According to the French magazine Causeur, “the program is confusingly simple: replace all the civil and penal codes with sharia law. Period”. Created on the eve of the 2012 municipal ballot, the ISLAM Party immediately received impressive results. Its numbers are alarming.
The effect of this new party, according to Michaël Privot, an expert on Islam, and Sebastien Boussois, a political scientist, could be the “implosion of the social body”. Some Belgian politicians, such as Richard Miller, are now advocating banning the ISLAM Party.
The French weekly magazine Le Point details the plans of the ISLAM Party: It would like to “prevent vice by banning gaming establishments (casinos, gaming halls and betting agencies) and the lottery”. Along with authorizing the wearing the Muslim headscarf at school and an agreement about the Islamic religious holidays, the party wants all schools in Belgium to offer halal meat on their school menus.
Redouane Ahrouch, one of the party’s three founders, also proposed segregating men and women on public transport. Ahrouch belonged in the 1990s to the Belgian Islamic Center, a nest of Islamic fundamentalism where candidates for jihad in Afghanistan and Iraq were recruited.
The ISLAM Party knows that demography is on its side. Ahrouch has said, “in 12 years, Brussels will principally be composed of Muslims”. In the upcoming Belgian elections, the ISLAM Party is now set to run candidates in 28 municipalities.
On first glance, that looks like a derisory proportion compared to 589 Belgian municipalities, but it demonstrates the progress and ambitions of this new party. In Brussels, the party will be represented on 14 lists out of a possible 19.
That is most likely why the Socialist Party now fears the rise of the ISLAM Party. In 2012, the party succeeded, when running in just three Brussels districts, in obtaining an elected representative in two of them (Molenbeek and Anderlecht), and failing only narrowly in Brussels-City.
Two years later, during the 2014 parliamentary elections, the ISLAM Party tried to expand its base in two constituencies, Brussels-City and Liège. Once again, the results were impressive for a party that favors the introduction of sharia, Islamic law, into Belgium. In Brussels, they won 9,421 votes (almost 2%).
This political movement apparently started in Molenbeek, “the Belgian radicals’ den”, a “hotbed of recruiters for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant”. Jihadists there were apparently plotting terror attacks all over Europe and even in Afghanistan.
The French author Éric Zemmour, facetiously suggested that instead of bombing Raqqa, Syria, France should “bomb Molenbeek”. At the moment in Molenbeek, 21 municipal officials out of 46 are Muslim.
“The European capital,” wrote Le Figaro, “will be Muslim in twenty years”.
“Nearly a third of the population of Brussels already is Muslim, indicated Olivier Servais, a sociologist at the Catholic University of Louvain. “The practitioners of Islam, due to their high birth rate, should be the majority ‘in fifteen or twenty years’. Since 2001… Mohamed is the most common name given to boys born in Brussels”.
The ISLAM Party is working in a favorable environment. According to the mayor of Brussels, Yvan Mayeur, all the mosques in the European capital are now “in the hands of the Salafists”.
A few weeks ago, the Belgian government terminated the long-term lease of the country’s largest and oldest mosque, the Grand Mosque of Brussels, to the Saudi royal family, “as part of what officials say is an effort to combat radicalization”. Officials said that the mosque, was a “hotbed for extremism”.
A confidential report last year revealed that the police had uncovered 51 organizations in Molenbeek with suspected ties to jihadism.
Perhaps it is time for sleepy Belgium to begin to wake up?