Saturday, November 10, 2018

Know What You Believe!

Photo by FatherRon2011

So now that we’ve examined the definition of an evangelical Christian, what do those who identify as evangelicals actually believe? Could it be that some nominal Christians differ from core doctrine not only in fine points over the meaning of a few controversial verses, but also in basic concepts about Jesus Christ, salvation, and God’s Word?

And does it really matter? As long as they prayed the “sinner’s prayer” and “asked Jesus into their heart,” isn’t that enough? Or does accepting heresy as truth really mean that the “Christian” doesn’t know Jesus at all, and therefore is not truly saved? Jesus Himself warned that not all who did good works in His Name or claimed to know Him belonged to Him, for He never knew them, and banished them as workers of evil (Luke 13:23-30).

To find out what those meeting their research definition of an evangelical Christian actually believe, Ligonier Ministries and LifeWay Research surveyed 3,002 Americans in 2018, including 518 identified as evangelicals. Their findings regarding agreement or disagreement with 34 core beliefs about God, salvation, ethics, and the Bible are published in the October 16, 2018 issue of Christianity Today.

Not surprisingly, the overall proportions of Americans disagreeing with Bible-based doctrine has continued to increase since previous surveys in 2014 and 2016. But more disheartening is the widespread, increasing, deep confusion about core Christian beliefs even among so-called evangelicals.

Among Americans with “evangelical beliefs,” nearly all (97%) endorsed the true statement that “there is one true God in three persons.” Yet 78% agreed with the statement that “Jesus was the first and greatest being created by God the Father,” attesting to their overall confusion. As Scripture clearly states, Jesus Christ is God, the Word Who was present with God the Father since the beginning of time (John 1:1). Not only was Jesus Christ not created, but He actually is the Creator of all that there is and ever was (John 1:1-3).

If our thinking relegates Jesus to the status of a mere created being, it not only strips Him of His divinity, but it invalidates the miracle of salvation. The mystery of salvation is that God Himself, the Creator of all, willingly left His throne in Heaven, took on human form (John 1:14), and suffered an agonizing death to pay our sin debt in full (Romans 3:25).  He then rose again on the third day, proving His divinity, so that all who believe this and trust Him have eternal life (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; John 3:16).

More than half (52%) of “evangelicals” agreed that “Most people are basically good,” which flies in the face of the curse of sin affecting every human since Adam disobeyed God (Genesis 3; Romans 5:12). Jesus in His earthly ministry reaffirmed that only God is good (Matthew 19:17), and the apostle Paul wrote that no person is righteous (Romans 3:10-12), for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). The prophet Isaiah wrote that our so-called righteousness as a claim to salvation is as offensive as filthy rags in God’s sight (Isaiah 64:6)

Even Paul, arguably the most devoted Christian ever to walk the earth, acknowledged that he had to die daily to his sin nature (1 Corinthians 15:31), which was constantly at war with the Holy Spirit  (Romans 7:4-25) living in His heart since the moment he was saved (John 14:16-17).

Perhaps even more shocking than their belief in man’s goodness is that 51% of “evangelical Christians” agreed that “God accepts the worship of all religions.” Yet all other religions deny the divinity of Jesus Christ, claiming instead that he was a good man, wise teacher, great prophet, or even the brother of Lucifer. Jesus Himself proclaimed that He is the only Way to the Father (John 14:6), and that the gate to salvation is narrow, whereas the gate to destruction is broad and captures the souls of many (Matthew 7:13-14).

Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

In keeping with this all-inclusive, yet tragically erroneous belief of many paths to Heaven, nearly one third (32%) of “evangelicals” agreed that “religious belief is a matter of personal opinion [and] not about objective truth,” as did 60% of all Americans surveyed.

But if evangelicals put no more stock in their religious belief than they do in any personal opinion, they slide down a slippery slope that ends in denying the absolute truth of the Bible.  We cannot “cherry-pick” verses to match our idiosyncratic beliefs or to justify “lifestyle choices” that are actually sins, for “no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation” but rather was inspired by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:20-21).

2 Timothy 3:16: All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.

If we give way to popular opinion rather than Bible truth, for example by endorsing evolution rather than a literal six-day creation by the Triune God (Genesis 1,2), then we are falling prey to “cunningly devised fables” (2 Peter 1: 16) that erode the very core of our faith. The theory of evolution calls for ongoing and repeated cycles of death to “improve” the gene pool, which in itself is ludicrous since observed mutations lead to disease rather than to better function.

More importantly, it denies the power of God to speak the worlds into existence, including mankind created in His image (Genesis 1:26). If we evolved from the animals, we are no better than the beasts, and there is no absolute standard for morality, and no rationale for or consequences of the construct of sin.

Even worse, striking at the heart of Christian faith is that if we are not all sinners through the disobedience of Adam and Eve, we have no need of a Savior. Christ’s death on the cross was therefore in vain, totally unnecessary, and irrelevant, because there is no God, no Heaven, and no meaning to our existence beyond the stark biological reality. Doubting portions of God’s Word ultimately leads to rejection of its saving power (Romans 1:16).

As we shall see next time, Americans as a whole are at even greater odds with Bible truths than are those who claim the Name of Jesus. So, born-again Christian, know what you believe, make sure it lines up with Bible truth, and be prepared to defend it to others!


© 2018 Laurie Collett


 



26 comments:

  1. Thank you Laurie. It was an eyeopener for me to read about it. Thank you so much.

    Let's read the Bible, hear His voice and pray: Lord, open my ears, that I may release what I have heard, and so hear You, become a listener, and truly hear others. (this prayer I read on the internet and I love it).

    Have a blessed Sunday.

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    1. Thank you, Aritha, for your encouragement and for the lovely prayer! May we be not only hearers, but doers of the Word. God bless,
      Laurie

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  2. Dear Laurie,
    Last week I was chatting to a Christian friend after the end of the service. He said to me that he does not talk about his Creationist convictions to an unbeliever in case the hearer is put off by the Gospel's apparent foolishness. I have found that the majority of graduates believe in Theistic Evolution, maybe as an attempt to compromise with the atheist's worldview.
    Along with this, any attempts to lower Jesus from his Triune place in the Godhead will always lead to salvation by works, as the soteriology of all other religions can attest.
    Thank you for your insight. God bless.

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    1. Dear Frank,
      It is sad that in this era of political correctness and not wishing to offend or to appear simple, many avoid speaking of Bible truth. God's plan of creation is spelled out so clearly in Genesis 1 and 2, at the very beginning of the Bible. If we reject this or are ashamed of it, what is to keep us from rejecting all of God's Word. Thank you for standing up for your convictions, which are thoroughly supported by Scripture. Thanks for sharing your experience and God bless,
      Laurie

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  3. Great post, Laurie.
    As you point out there is reason for concern even for those who purport to be Evangelical Christians, because so many no longrt believe even the most basic truths. It is essential we share those truths even with those who say they are Christians.

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    1. Amen, Donald! Thank you and may God bless you richly for all you do, not only as a pastor but also through your blog, to spread God's Word and His truth to your congregation and your readers.
      Laurie

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  4. I think what many people fail to see Laurie is the fact that God is Spirit. Jesus, the firstborn of all creation was the 'firstborn of the Spirit', being born more or less four thousand years after the first Adam. He was the way God communicated (through His Word made flesh) to fallen mankind. The scriptures say that the first man Adam who was formed from dust became a living soul, the second Adam (Jesus)was a life giving Spirit.
    I believe 'creation' began with Jesus, and that God said 'Let US make man (mankind already on the earth) in our image', and that the whole thing has been a six thousand year process - revealed in the overall view contained in Genesis ch. 1 (the scriptures being discerned spiritually.)
    As we are in the body of Christ when born of God's Spirit, that appears to be what Jesus means spiritually when He says 'Today and tomorrow I do cures, the third day I shall be perfected ', regarding reconciling mankind back to God over the two thousand years (two spiritual days) after His sacrifice. All who are saved are in the body of Christ, the second Adam.

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    1. Dear Brenda,
      Amen to God being Spirit, just as He is Love and Light. I believe that Genesis 1 should be interpreted literally, as a 6-day creation by Triune God. The constant repetition of "the evening and the morning were the [second or other] day supports a 24-hour day rather than a day as a thousand years. Praise God that He made man in His image and had a plan in place, since before the beginning of time, to save mankind once Adam chose disobedience and brought the curse of sin upon the earth.
      Thanks as always for your comment and God bless,
      Laurie

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  5. Hi Laurie,
    I believe it is both, the physical and the spiritual, depending on which mind we are understanding it with. In Genesis ch. 1 the plants were formed on the third day and mankind (plural, yet all joined as one in Christ) 'created' on the sixth day. In Genesis ch. 2 man(singular) was formed before there were plants on the earth, so that could not have bee on the sixth day. The fact that scripture says that there are two Adams, Christ being the second one, and that it says Jesus was the firstborn of all creation, shows to me that 'created' man came four thousand years after the first Adam.
    I always enjoy discussions, and even if we do not see things the same way we can return to scripture to check, or agree to disagree.
    God bless Laurie.

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    1. Hi Brenda,
      I believe that Gen. 2 is an expanded view of Gen. 1, giving more details. It begins with God resting on the seventh day, confirming the 6-day account of creation given in Gen. 1. Plants were created before man, as we know not only from Gen. 1, but also in v. 5, when there was as of yet no man to till the ground. God subsequently created Adam (v. 7) and placed him in the garden of Eden (v.8 and 15). To believe that the "man" referred to in Gen. 2 was Christ and not Adam would mean not only that Christ was a created being, which we know from John 1 is false, but also that He sinned, when we know that He never sinned and is the perfect Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world.
      Thanks as always for your thought-provoking comment, and God bless,
      Laurie

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  6. Hi Laurie, I want to first state that total reliance upon the Messiah's sacrificial act upon the cross, for our sins, which was perfectly orchestrated by God, is the litmus test for the Remnant, the truly saved.

    Secondly, discussing the scriptures with each other is a great way that the Spirit of God uses for us to grow intimate with our creator.

    Now, with that said, I challenge you to take a step back and look at the scriptures, without your contemporary Christian bias and address the following.

    1. You stated, "As Scripture clearly states, Jesus Christ is God..." Where does the scriptures state this "fact"?

    2. You also stated that the Word of God, in John 1:1-3, is Jesus. Where does it say that?

    3. Are you aware that John 1:14 says that the Word of God manifested the flesh and that flesh dwelled among us? Look it up for yourself. God has given us the tools. As a fellow believer, I challenge you to check it out for yourself.

    Combining #2 and #3, if you're honest with yourself, you'll be surprised that what you have been taught doesn't quite jive with what the original scriptures say.

    4. I totally agree with your statement that evolution is one of the “cunningly devised fables”. However, you went on to say that creation was done by a triune god. I challenge you to prove that statement with the original scripture.

    5. Addressing your comment to Brenda, that Genesis 2 is a expanded view of Genesis 1. Please look at the timeline, that God gives us, in Genesis 2:5. When is the genesis account of Genesis 2 occurring? I think that you'll find that Genesis 2 is an account, that exclusively occurred within the Genesis 1, but not mankind on the sixth day.

    Good post, not totally scriptural, but we need discussions like this, to discuss, in order to weed out what Satan has put in the church belief system. Your thoughts?

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    1. Hi Keith,
      Thank you for taking the time to comment and share your views on this blog. I will attempt to address the points you raised in the order that you raised them.

      Those who are truly saved are saved by faith (Eph. 2:8-9) in the Gospel, or good news that Jesus Christ died to pay for all our sins, was buried, and rose again the third day (1 Cor. 15:1-4).

      I agree that it is good to discuss the Scriptures with one another. as well as to search the Scriptures for ourselves as did the Bereans, to see if these things be so (Acts 17:10-11).

      Many Scriptures attest that Jesus Christ is God. For example:
      1 John 5:20 And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.

      John 10:30 I (Jesus speaking)and my Father are one.

      Matthew 1:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

      Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

      John 8:58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. (I AM is one of the Names of God).

      Rev. 19 describes Jesus Christ as the returning King of Kings and Lord of Lords. v. 13: And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. So John 1, referring to "the Word" refers to Jesus Christ.

      John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

      In other words, Jesus Christ (the Word) was present from the beginning of time and of all things. This is not possible for a created being; rather this means the Word is self-existent and not created. The Word was with God from the beginning. i.e., God the Son was present with God the Father and the Holy Spirit. The Word was God; i.e. Jesus Christ is God, just as the Father and the Spirit are God. He created everything and nothing was created that He did not create; hence, He is the Creator, not a created being (see also Eph. 3:9).

      John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

      Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. (The Hebrew word used here for "God" is "Elohim," a plural noun referring to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Similarly: v. 26: And God said, "Let us make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness.

      Gen. 2:5 must be interpreted in the context of Gen. 1 and Gen. 2:1-4:

      Genesis 2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. (i.e. as described in Gen. 1 over 6 literal days).

      2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.

      3 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

      4 These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens,

      5 And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.

      As I wrote to Brenda, Gen. 2 is to me an expansion of Gen. 1, filling in other details about the creation of Adam and his placement in the Garden of Eden.

      Hope and pray that this will be helpful to you. Thanks again and God bless,
      Laurie

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  7. Hi Laurie,
    I have not referred to the man in Genesis ch. 2 as Jesus, I think you have misunderstood me. I have said that 'created' man was Jesus, as the scripture says that Jesus was the firstborn of all 'created', and that He was the firstborn of many brethren. The first Adam was born of dust of the earth, the second Adam was born four thousand years later - of God's Spirit.
    I really do believe that Genesis ch. 1 is an overall view of the six thousand years of mankind on earth, and the change of man of dust to man of the Spirit through Jesus- according to one day being as a thousand years to God, as stated in 2 Peter ch. 3 v.8:-
    But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. We are told that the scriptures are discerned spiritually and that the things of God are foolishness to the carnal mind. 1 Corinthians ch. 2 v. 13 states:-
    And this is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom, but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.
    I hope I have fully explained what I am trying to say Laurie, God bless you.

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    1. Hi Brenda,
      Thank you for your further explanation. Please see my reply to Keith, above, regarding my thoughts for why Jesus is not a created being, and is in fact the Creator of all.

      Romans 8:29 "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." To me, this means that Jesus was the first to receive a glorified body. Born-again Christians will at the rapture also receive glorified bodies, in the image of His glorified body.
      I have read that the Hebrew word for "day" used in Gen. 1 means a literal 24-hr day, whereas the Greek word translated as "day" in 2 Pet. 3:8 is better translated as "age," referring to an undefined period of time, in this case a thousand years. To me, 2 Pet. 3:8 means that God's perception of time is very different from ours, for He is eternal, and all we have experienced at present is our temporal existence.
      I agree that if we pray to God for discernment, the Spirit will guide us to and instruct us in spiritual truth. However, as Paul wrote, we now see "as through a glass, darkly" and we will not be able to understand fully until we see Him face to face. Looking forward to that day! Come quickly, Lord Jesus!
      God bless you too,
      Laurie

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  9. Hi Laurie, I believe He is both because He was the Word of God made flesh. His name means 'Yahweh saves', The Spirit was the Word of God, the flesh was the man Jesus.He is the One mediator between man and God as 1 Timothy 2:5 states:-
    ' For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus' It is something the carnal mind does not and can not understand, and when we share things with one another we can only go back to scripture and test that word against scripture.
    Philippians ch. 2 vs. 5-8 read:-'Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.'
    As this states - we have to have the same mind in us, the mind of Christ, and by this we are all joined as one in the Spirit, as stated in Ephesians ch. 2 v. 18:- 'For through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.'
    Do not worry if we see things differently Laurie, it is good to share, but to remember also that we are all being taught by the Lord day by day.
    God bless.

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    1. Hi Brenda,
      I agree that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Word of God Who became flesh and entered this world as the infant Jesus, to be the perfect, sinless sacrifice to reconcile sinful man to Holy God. The Word, Jesus Christ, is the mediator between God and man because only His sacrifice could be the propitiation for our sins, i.e. the atoning sacrifice to satisfy the holy judgment of God the Father. Once His work on the cross was complete and He ascended into Heaven, He has been seated at the right hand of God the Father, where He is constantly interceding for us, hence He is mediator in that sense also.

      I believe that Phil. 2:5-8 is further evidence that Jesus Christ is God, saying that He was in the form of God initially (rather than of man, because that did not occur until He came to earth in the flesh) and did not consider it robbery to be equal with God (because He is God). In his incarnation, He took on the role of a humble servant, obedient to the Father's will even unto death. May we follow His example, through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
      God bless,
      Laurie

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  10. Hi Laurie,
    just to add:- to the carnal mind many scriptures appear to contradict one another, to the mind of Christ they do not, because just as we do not say 'yes' and 'no' at the same time, neither does God through that Word. It is vocabulary, and what He speaks to one person at a particular time, is not what He speaks to another at the same time. It depends upon what He wants to say to us daily, according to where we are in our growth, the milk being for babes in Christ, the strong meat being for us as we grow in Him.
    God bless Laurie.

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    1. Hey Brenda, May I also add that the scriptures do not contradict each other? Scriptures reconcile with scriptures, not doctrine.

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    2. Hi Brenda and Keith,
      I agree that Scripture reconciles with Scripture, and that the interpretation of any single verse must be taken in the context of all the weight of Scripture. If we pray for discernment and wisdom, the Holy Spirit will interpret Scripture for us and instruct and guide us to its meaning.
      God bless,
      Laurie

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    3. Hi Laurie,
      I love the way the Holy Spirit leads us into all truth, and when we seek we shall find. God's ways are not our ways, and wisdom and knowledge are the real silver and gold to the born again Christian eh?
      God bless.

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  11. Hi Laurie. I praise God that you understand what it means to be saved. Far too many Christians say, “I believe“ and don’t fully understand what that actually means. You'd be surprised at the percentage of Christians that fall into that category.

    In addition, unfortunately, far too many Christians don’t read the Bible for what it actually says, otherwise, taking in the full counsel of God. They read it but only hear what the preacher has been telling them. I feel this is an example of the supernatural blinders, that Satan has used against the church.

    Now, before going any further in this discussion, I have two quick questions for you.

    1. Can God and Sin cohabitate? Otherwise, can God coexist with sin?

    2. Have you looked at the timing and order of events of Gen 2 and compared it to Gen1?

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    1. Hi Keith,

      1 John 1:5: This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

      The only way sinful man can enter God's presence is through the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ, with which He clothes us at salvation. When God the Father looks at us, He no longer sees our sin, but only the righteousness of Christ.

      Please refer to my replies to your and Brenda's earlier comments about the timeline of creation.

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    2. Hey Laurie, Thanks again for taking time to comment on our Philippians study. I responded to your comment. I hope you continue to participate as I am with yours.

      Now, back to this comment. I'm sorry but somehow I missed your answer to my two questions.

      1. Can God and Sin cohabitate? Otherwise, can God coexist with sin?

      2. Have you looked at the timing and order of events of Gen 2 and compared it to Gen1?

      In Psalm 1:13, it is written:

      God takes pleasure in wickedness? No, nor does sin dwell within.

      Habakkuk 1:13 says:

      Your eyes are too pure to look or gaze upon evil or to look upon wickedness.

      Those verses are quite clear. Do you not agree?

      How do you reconcile those verses with 2 Cor 5:21?

      "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." KJV

      By the way, I want to reiterate what I said, on my blog. I agree with you that Y'shua/Jesus was 100% divine, for the fullness of God, his Father, dwelled within him. However, as Y'shua/Jesus said many times, he was also the Son of Man, 100% man. Is Jesus, God our Father? No.

      We can't read what is not there. The scriptures are quite clear that Y'shua/Jesus is one with the Father, in the same way that we are one with him. In that case, are we God? No. The example is quite clear that the man Y'shua/Jesus was a man, with the fulness of God dwelling within him. The does not imply whatsoever that Y'shua/Jesus is God. The Word of God manifested in the man Y'shua/Jesus and speaks through him. Let's read what there not what you have been taught.

      As for the timing of the Gen 1 account of the creation of mankind being the same as Gen 2's forming of Adam and the Messianic line, all I ask is that you follow Acts 17:11 and look into it yourself. I think you'll be surprise at what is really there. May I suggest that you seclude yourself in your prayer closet. Empty your mind and ask the Spirit of God to purge any Theological Conditioning you may have and yes, we all have been victims of Theological Conditioning.

      By the way, if I haven't said it, Great Discussion and Good Job on spreading the Good News of God's Grace through the Messiah, Y'hua/Jesus. So many times people get upset because they infer false feelings upon the written word. In my mind, we are just two believers that are attempting to sharpen each other.

      Proverbs 27:17

      Iron sharpens Iron. One sharpens a fellow citizen.

      May God Bless You and Your Family.

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  12. Hi Keith,
    Thank you for your encouragement. Regarding my thoughts on what seems to be the paradox in 2 Cor. 5:21, please read an earlier blog post of mine: http://savedbygracebiblestudy.blogspot.com/2013/03/paradox-of-cross.html

    Apparently we disagree on how Gen. 2 should be interpreted in the context of Gen. 1. I have stated my position as clearly as I can, and I assume you have, too, so it appears that we can agree to disagree.

    May God bless you and your family also,
    Laurie

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