GCP030: Jesus = 100% God + 100% Man
On the Growing in Christ Podcast today Ken and Mike talk about: Conscience of Faith, Bible Readers, Rick Warren, and we beginning a study in 1John.
This Week in Church History
Fear of Conscience in the USSR – Dan Graves, MSL
Tyrants fear faith. Their greatest hatred is reserved for those forms of Christianity which teach people to obey conscience. With reason. Few world systems can stand the scrutiny of Biblical faith. Wherever scripture liberates minds, laws are transformed and governments forced to yield or fall. For example, in early centuries Christian tenacity compelled Galerius to issue his edict of tolerance ending the Diocletian persecutions. Quaker determination moved England to allow individuals to practice conscientious objection to war. Baptist die-hards are largely responsible for the adding of the Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution.
Of all world systems, perhaps Communism has most reason to fear Christianity. Its atheism is diametrically opposed to faith, and Marxist tenets are in large measure nothing but pale imitations of Christian doctrine and eschatology.
In Russia on the 23rd of January, 1918 the Bolsheviks issued a decree separating church and state. This was welcomed by evangelical Christians, who had suffered terribly under Orthodox persecution. Under Lenin, a certain amount of freedom was allotted to Christians. That changed after his death.
Teaching of religion in schools, private or public, was prohibited. The Soviet constitution favored atheism. “Freedom of religious worship and freedom of anti-religious propaganda are recognized for all citizens.” Church buildings were confiscated by the state and rented back for sums beyond the ability of congregations to pay. House churches were outlawed. Bible printing became illegal. Preachers were denied ration cards. “You are nonproductive citizens,” they were told. If congregations wished to support their pastors, they first had to pay an exorbitant tax, greater than the minister’s salary. Poor people could not do this. Christians who refused to obey these laws were sent to labor camps where many died. Every impediment to worship which could be contrived was introduced. In spite of this, pockets of faith survived. “Suffering is testimony to Jesus,” said Christians. And rather than pray that their sufferings be relieved, they prayed for strength to bear up under them.
On this day, April 8, 1929, a terrible new regulation came into force. It was aimed directly at activities and beliefs which give evangelicals their edge: love and outreach. The new regulation stated: “Religious associations may not (a) create mutual credit societies, cooperative or commercial undertakings, or in general, use property at their disposal for other than religious purposes; (b) give material help to their members; (c) organize for children, young people and women special prayer or other meetings, circles, groups, departments for biblical or literary study, sewing, working or the teaching of religion, etc., excursions, children’s playgrounds, libraries, reading rooms, sanatoria, or medical care. Only books necessary for the cult may be kept in the prayer buildings and premises.” So much did the Communists fear Christianity that they tried to strip them of the common expressions of humanity.
Poll: Many own a Bible, but not many read it – Compiled by Matthew Brown
Americans have a high interest and awareness of the Bible, but not many read the scripture regularly, and one-third say that’s the reason society’s morals are in decline, according to a recent poll for the American Bible Society.
The survey conducted by the Barna Group found nearly nine out of 10 (88 percent) of Americans own a Bible, and those same people own an average of 4.4 copies of the book.
“And while it might not be surprising that religiously devoted Christians own Bibles, the study finds that six out of 10 Americans (59 percent) who have no faith or who identify as atheists own a Bible,” researchers said. “Despite many aspects of society that are secularizing, penetration of scripture remains high in 2013.”
The survey noted that 20 years ago, 92 percent of Americans said they owned a Bible.
But few of those who own a Bible read it regularly, according to the 2013 survey. While 61 percent said they wish they read the Bible more, just 13 percent said they read the Bible daily. More than half (57 percent) read their Bible at least four times a year.
The Bible can be intimidating, the Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and author of “The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything,” told Religion News Service.
“There’s a tendency to think that if you read the Bible, you have to read it from start to finish. But when people do read the Bible, they don’t know where to begin,” he said.
Four-in-10 adults said they simply don’t have enough time to read the Bible, according to the survey. But when they do find the time, the main reason for 53 percent of Bible readers to engage with scripture was to be closer to God.
Barna found that more than one-third (32 percent) of those surveyed said a lack of reading the Bible is the main reason for what they see is a decline in the morals and values of America. Another 29 percent blame the negative influence of media and 25 percent blame corporate greed for the decline in morals and values.
Although nearly half (49 percent) believe the Bible doesn’t have much impact on American youth, it is the 18-28-year-old age group that showed more interest than older adults in what the Bible had to say on certain issues.
“Four out of 10 (millennials) say they are interested in the Bible’s wisdom on dealing with illness and death, compared with about one-quarter of all adults (28 percent) who say the same,” Barna researchers wrote. “More than one-third (35 percent) of (millennials) are interested in the Bible’s perspective on dating and relationships, and four out of 10 (42 percent) want to know what scripture says about parenting — both of those percentages are much higher than the norms.”
The survey didn’t just consider the written word. Barna also took a separate poll of 615 adults and found 42 percent watched at least a portion of the History Channel’s miniseries “The Bible,” which aired on consecutive Sundays in March.
More than 10 million viewers tuned in each week, with the highest viewership (13.1 million) on the opening Sunday and on Easter Sunday (11.7 million).
“Overall, seven out of 10 viewers (69 percent) say the miniseries gave them a ‘surprise or new discovery’ about the Bible that they didn’t know before watching,” Barna researchers said. “Among those segments most likely to report such insights are … young adult viewers.”
Other findings in the survey:
• 80 percent believe the Bible to be sacred literature.
• 47 percent believe the Bible, Quran and Book of Mormon are all different expressions of the same truth.
• While the percentage of those who read the Bible regularly and believe it to be inspired has remained at about 20 percent from 2011 to 2013, the percent of those who believe the Bible to be inspired but who don’t read it often has dropped from 45 percent to 39 percent in the same time period.
• The percentage of those who are antagonistic toward the Bible and rarely read it increased from 10 percent in 2011 to 17 percent in 2013.
Vitriol infests Rick Warren family’s grief – Cathy Lynn Grossman / USA Today | Apr 8, 2013 |
(RNS) Pastor Rick Warren, the best-known name in American evangelism after Rev. Billy Graham, lost his 27-year-old son, Matthew, to suicide on Friday (April 5).
In the days since, uncounted strangers have joined the 20,000 congregants who worship at the megachurch network “Pastor Rick” built in Southern California, Warren’s nearly 1 million Twitter followers and hundreds of thousands of Facebook followers in flooding social media with consolation and prayer.
“Kay and I are overwhelmed by your love, prayers, and kind words,” Warren tweeted on Sunday. “You are all encouraging our #brokenhearts.”
But a shocking number are taking the moment of media attention to lash out at Warren on their digital tom-toms. The attacks are aimed both at him personally and at his Christian message.
Some unbelievers want to assure Rick and Kay Warren, his wife and Matthew’s bereaved mother, that there’s no heaven where they’ll meet their son again.
“Either there is no God, or God doesn’t listen to Rick Warren, despite all the money Rick has made off of selling false hope to desperate people,” one poster from Cincinnati wrote in to USA Today.
In another comment, the same poster counsels Warren to “abandon primitive superstitions and accept the universe for what it is — a place that is utterly indifferent to us.”
Some rush to add pain to the Warrens’ world because, in their view, he did not show sufficient compassion for the unremitting pain suffered by gay youths rejected by parents and peers. They were outraged when Warren took a political stand for Proposition 8, which overturned legal same-sex marriage in California in 2008 and is now before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Others have appointed themselves 140-character theologians in a debate over whether someone once saved can lose his or her salvation if suicide is against God’s law. These posters, rather than waiting for Judgment Day, have ruled for hell.
But Bruce Kwiatkowski of the University of Toledo posted on Facebook: “I appreciate what Pastor Ronald Cole said about the subject of Christian suicide. He said the Lord will say, ‘We weren’t expecting you yet…’ ”
John Schuurman observed on Facebook that celebrity culture makes everyone “fair game” and the anonymity afforded by social media allows people to “send out hate flames without any consequence.”
There are, however, people who won’t let the vitriol unleashed on social media infect the little corners of the world under their own name.
Facebook user John H. Armstrong fought back, saying, “I just blocked someone that I do not know from my wall for saying that Rick Warren’s son went to hell. What is it with people being so sure that they know God’s final judgment? I fear for people like this. This man added that Rick Warren was being judged for being a ‘false prophet.’ Pathetic, cruel and reckless all come to mind. If I’ve seen the evidence of a false prophet this comes close.”
The day after his son died, Warren tweeted to his more than 943,000 followers: “We pray ‘Thy WILL be done on earth AS IT IS IN HEAVEN’ since in heaven God’s Will is done #always. On earth, it’s done rarely.”
BIBLE STUDY – Fellowship with Jesus
JESUS IS REAL AND ALIVE/LIFE
1John 1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—
John 20:26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
JESUS IS REAL AND HE IS ETERNAL LIFE
2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father
JESUS IS REAL AND WE CAN HAVE A RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM
and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.
JESUS IS REAL AND THIS IS THE BASIS FOR OUR JOY
4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.