YouTube: “We Will Not Bow” – John MacArthur

“God, and Christ, and the Holy Spirit, and the Bible, and the church, and truth are the enemies of Satan. And Satan rules the world. He rules the world of sinners. And he has his power in high places. He is the ruler of the kingdom of darkness, and he hates and seeks to destroy all that is light, all that is truth, all that is pure, all that is holy, all that is virtuous, and all that is good.

“I’m saying all of this to let you know that you don’t need to be surprised. I admit, that for a few hundred year America had a very rare reprieve from this normal kind of conflict that most of the world has always known. But that reprieve has come to a screeching halt. And I want to remind you that homosexuality, homosexual marriage, gender transition—these are not the real battlegrounds. The real battle ground is against God, and Christ, and the Holy Spirit, and the Bible, and the church, and the gospel. Any blasphemy against God comes from God haters, Christ haters, Bible haters, gospel haters. And they are fueled by the arch-hater, Satan himself.”

(John MacArthur, “We Will Not Bow”)

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News of Note: “New Biography on Jesus Written By Dr. Reza Aslan Causes Controversy”; UPDATED: New Testament Scholar Dr. Craig A. Evans Reviews Dr. Aslan’s book

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1. New Jesus biography by Reza Aslan causes controversy (UPDATED: 8/13)

“Reza Aslan Tells an Old Story about Jesus” – New Testament scholar, Dr. Craig A. Evans’ review of Aslan’s book (Christianity Today)

“There are numerous problems with Zealot, not least the fact that it heavily relies on an outdated and discredited thesis. But it also introduces a number of its own novel oddities and implausibilities. Aslan has canvassed much of the responsible scholarship in the field, but he does not always choose his options prudently. He often opts for extreme views and sometimes makes breathtaking assertions. I cannot help but wonder if Aslan’s penchant for creative writing is part of the explanation. Indeed, Zealot often reads more like a novel than a work of historical analysis.” – Dr. Craig A. Evans, Christianity Today

“A Response to Zealot by Reza Aslan” – Gary Manning Jr’s response to Reza’s Aslan’s book. (The Good Book Blog)

“Since (Dr. Reza) Aslan is a Muslim, some have responded to Zealot as if it is a Muslim look at Jesus. This is simply not the case; Zealot does not present traditional Muslim views of Jesus at all. Zealot is instead typical of other modern skeptical approaches to Jesus. Aslan is strongly influenced by (among others) John Dominic Crossan, the Jesus Seminar author who has written a number of books presenting Jesus as a peasant social revolutionary. The central argument of Zealot is this: Jesus, like other messianic figures of his day, called for the violent expulsion of Rome from Israel. Driven by religious zeal, Jesus believed that God would empower him to become the king of Israel and overturn the hierarchical social order. Jesus believed that God would honor the zeal of his lightly armed disciples and give them victory. Instead, Jesus was crucified as a revolutionary. Early Christians changed the story of Jesus to make him into a peaceful shepherd. They did this for two reasons: because Jesus’ actual prediction had failed, and because the Roman destruction of rebellious Jerusalem in AD 70 made Jesus’ real teachings both dangerous and unpopular. Paul radically changed the identity of Jesus from human rebel to divine Son of God, against the wishes of other leaders like Peter and James.” – Gary Manning Jr., “The Good Book Blog”

“Return of the Jesus Wars” – Ross Douthat reviews Dr. Reza Allan’s book “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth”. (New York Times)

“Instead, Aslan’s book offers a more engaging version of the argument Reimarus made 250 years ago. His Jesus is an essentially political figure, a revolutionary killed because he challenged Roman rule, who was then mysticized by his disciples and divinized by Paul of Tarsus. The fact that Aslan’s take on Jesus is not original doesn’t mean it’s necessarily wrong. But it has the same problem that bedevils most of his competitors in the “real Jesus” industry. In the quest to make Jesus more comprehensible, it makes Christianity’s origins more mysterious. Part of the lure of the New Testament is the complexity of its central character — the mix of gentleness and zeal, strident moralism and extraordinary compassion, the down-to-earth and the supernatural. Most “real Jesus” efforts, though, assume that these complexities are accretions, to be whittled away to reach the historical core. Thus instead of a Jesus who contains multitudes, we get Jesus the nationalist or Jesus the apocalyptic prophet or Jesus the sage or Jesus the philosopher and so on down the list.” Ross Douthat, New York Times

“Why I’m not reading Reza Aslan’s book” – Denny Burk explains why he is not reading Reza Aslan’s book. (DennyBurk.com)

“After listening to Aslan’s interview, it became very clear that his book was a retread of material that has appeared in numerous works over the last century. It would be a reconstructed Jesus that attempts to get behind the canonical accounts rather than listen to them. As I told the reporter, Aslan is selling a historically reconstructed Jesus, not the Jesus that appears on the pages of scripture. And that’s the bottom line here. The author doesn’t take the testimony of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John as reliable eyewitness testimony.” – Denny Burk, DennyBurk.com

“Controversy Erupts Over Best-Selling Muslim Book Claiming Jesus Was ‘Man of Profound Contradiction’” – Controversy is caused by new book written by Muslim, Dr. Reza Aslan who claims that Jesus is not God, but an illiterate, marginal Jew who fought for the rights of the poor. (Christian News)

“‘Zealot’ (Reza Aslan’s book: “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth”) is written with the self-assumed authority of groundbreaking revelation from a historian. In reality, it is a religious person’s opinion about Jesus—from an adherent to the religion that has been in violent opposition to Christ for 1,400 years,” wrote Pastor John S. Dickerson of Arizona in an op-ed entitled Liberal Media Love New Jesus Book ‘Zealot’, Fail to Mention Author is Muslim. “Aslan informs us that we cannot trust the Gospel of Mark–because it was written 40 years after Jesus’ death. He then chides us to trust his new book, written almost 2,000 years later.” “If apostles didn’t believe it to be so, they hardly would have let themselves become martyrs for a lie,” Dr. Dennis Burke, associate professor of Biblical Studies at Boyce College, told reporters. “To ignore the central claims of the eyewitnesses is to ignore the testimony of those closest to the historical Jesus.” – Heather Clark, Christian News

“Reza Aslan Misrepresents His Scholarly Credentials” – First Things reports that Reza Aslan has misrepresented his scholarly credentials. (First Things)

“None of these degrees is in history, so Aslan’s repeated claims that he has “a Ph.D. in the history of religions” and that he is “a historian” are false. Nor is “professor of religions” what he does “for a living.” He is an associate professor in the Creative Writing program at the University of California, Riverside, where his terminal MFA in fiction from Iowa is his relevant academic credential. It appears he has taught some courses on Islam in the past, and he may do so now, moonlighting from his creative writing duties at Riverside. Aslan has been a busy popular writer, and he is certainly a tireless self-promoter, but he is nowhere known in the academic world as a scholar of the history of religion. And a scholarly historian of early Christianity? Nope.” – Matthew J. Franck, First Things

2. “What are areas of common neglect in a pastor’s life?” – 3 common areas of neglect in a pastor’s life. (Practical Shepherding)

3. “I Am Not a Monster”— Ariel Castro as Sinner and Sociopath” – Al Mohler on the trial of Ariel Castro. (AlbertMohler.com)

4. “World leaders should unite to end anti-Christian persecution, Vladimir Putin says” – Russian President Putin states that he wants an end to anti-Christian persecution. (LifeSite News)

5. “Charismatic Ecumenism” – Fred Butler responds to Michael Brown’s criticisms of John MacArthur and the upcoming “Strange Fire Conference”. (Hip and Thigh)

Notable Quotable: “Ecumenism and the Charismatic Movement” – Fred Butler

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“What really troubles me is this confusing spirit of ecumenism winding itself through charismatic groups. As long as the person or persons name Jesus, can provide emotional stirring events, and draws large crowds, its all “of the Lord” and no one is to judge. We are to all get along without question. But that is a disastrous spirit to entertain in our churches.

“Dr. (Michael) Brown says we need to talk and not fight, but I believe the talk has been long over. We need to fight; he needs to fight. Our disagreement goes beyond an open discussion of continuationism vs. cessationism. There are vicious and cruel spiritual wolves at work in the midst of charismatic circles masquerading as spirit filled leaders that no one there wishes to confront and throw out. Why is that?

“When I confront them in that article, or John (MacArthur) does in his teaching, we’re branded haters. Everyone else turns a dismissive, blind eye toward them in the name of a phony tolerance and the “love” of the brethren. This cannot be. There are souls at stake here, and charismatic folks don’t seem to see that imminent danger in their own ranks and that worries me.”

(Fred Butler, “Charismatic Ecumenism”, Hip and Thigh)

News of Note: “Gay Couple Files Lawsuit Against Kentucky for Marriage Discrimination”

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1. “Kentucky Sued in Federal Court in Effort to Force State to Recognize Homosexual ‘Marriages’” – Gay couple files lawsuit against state of Kentucky for marriage discrimination. (Christian News)

“Two homosexual men from Kentucky have filed suit in an effort to challenge the state’s current ban on recognizing same-sex marriages performed both out of state and out of the country. Attorneys for Greg Bourke and Michael DeLeon, both 55, filed the legal challenge on Friday in federal court, contending that Kentucky’s statute violates the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the 14th Amendment.” – Heather Clark, Christian News

2. “The First Step of Leadership” – John MacArthur on the roles of men and women in the church, and the first steps of leadership. (Grace To You)

3. “‘Ex-gay is OK’” – Former homosexuals demand recognition and equal rights in Washington D.C. (World Magazine)

4. “10 Surprising Reasons Our Kids LEAVE Church” – Marc Yoder gives ten reasons why Christian kids are leaving church. (Church Leaders)

5. “Adoption’s quiet secret” – What is adoption’s quiet secret? Wretched’s Todd Friel gives us the answer. (YouTube)

News of Note: “Pope Open to Gay Priests?” (UPDATED: Commentary from Al Mohler; Fox News and Washington Times Commentaries on San Antonio’s Proposed Ordinance Punishing Citizens Who Oppose Homosexuality)

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1. “Pope Won’t Judge Gay Priests” (UPDATED August 1: Jesse Johnson and Al Mohler on Pope Francis’ comments and Fox News’Todd Starnes, the Washington Times, and Christian Institutes’ video report on San Antonio’s proposed ordinance)

“Breaking News: the Pope is still Catholic” – Jesse Johnon on Pope Francis’ comments regarding gay priests. (The Cripplegate)

“Who Am I to Judge? The Pope, the Press, and the Predicament” – Al Mohler on Pope Francis’ recent comments about gay priests. (AlbertMohler.com)

“Pope Francis on Homosexual Priests: ‘Who Am I to Judge?’” – Christian News reports on Pope Francis’ statement on gay priests. (Christian News)

“Pope Francis says he won’t judge gay priests” – Pope states that he won’t judge gay priests. (Fox News)

“Pope Signals Openness to Gay Priests” – Is the Pope now open to gay priests? – (Wall Street Journal)

2. “A Mess in the Maternity Ward?” – Fred Butler responds to Michael Brown’s critical comments about John MacArthur and the upcoming Strange Fire conference. (Grace To You)

3. “Some Mormons Search the Web and Find Doubt” – New York Times article on Mormons doubting their faith after doing research on the internet. (New York Times)

4. San Antonio’s prosposed ordinance that may punish citizens and City employees who oppose homosexuality

“Unprecedented’ Ordinances Could Prohibit Christians From Working in San Antonio City Government” – Revised City ordinances in San Antonio could punish City employees if they expresses their religious views against homosexuality. (Christian News)

“[T]he proposed ordinance includes ‘words’ against sexual orientation or gender identity as discriminatory acts,” the document explains. “It allows City Council to prohibit those that speak their religious beliefs regarding homosexuality from serving on city boards. This violates First Amendment freedom of speech and freedom of religion. … For example, if a person publically expresses their religious belief that homosexual behavior is a sin—even if this expression is at a church service—that person could be frozen out of involvement with city government.” – Garrett Haley, Christian News

“San Antonio Proposal Could Bar Christians From City Council” – Fox News’ Todd Starnes on San Antonio’s proposed ordinance. (Fox News)

“Churches across San Antonio are expressing outrage over a proposed anti-discrimination law that would protect LGBT workers but would not provide a religious exemption and would effectively prohibit anyone who opposes homosexuality from holding public office or getting a city contract. The proposed change would add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the city’s discrimination ordinance. It would protect gays, lesbians, transgender, and veterans – a move that had critics accusing the council of playing politics with the military.” – Todd Starnes, Fox News

“EDITORIAL: Tolerance in San Antonio” – Washington Times editorial of the proposed ordinance in San Antonio (Washington Times)

“Such bigots, for bigots is what they are, have no qualms about using such power as they have to bully anyone who holds views rooted in tradition or religion. The first draft of the San Antonio proposal would also have forbidden the city from doing business with anyone who fails to espouse politically correct views, and could, theoretically be used to remove anyone from office with a traditional view, or even a view not believed fervently enough, for “malfeasance.” Such discrimination is proposed under the cloak of a “non-discrimination” ordinance. George Orwell is alive and hiding in Texas.” – Washington Times

“San Antonio pastors oppose city’s proposed anti-discrimination law” (YouTube – The Christian Institute)

News of Note: “The Story of Ian and Larissa Murphy One Year Later”

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1.  “Ian and Larissa: One Year Later”  –  The story of Ian and Larrisa Murphy after their marrriage one year ago.  Ian and Larrisa Murphy decided to get married after Ian was in a traffic accident which left him a parapalegic and with limited speech communication.    (Desiring God)

2. “Worldliness, Entertainment, and the Lordship of Christ” –  John MacArthur on how Christians should be discenrning when choosing their entertainment.  (Grace To You)

3. “When John Stott Confronted Billy Graham” – Trevin Wax’s post about John Stott confronting Billy Graham at the Lausanne Conference. (Between Two Worlds)

4. “9 Things You Should Know About Pornography and the Brain” – Joe Carter gives us 9 things we should know about pornography and the brain. (The Gospel Coalition)

5. “Her Last Words: “Lord Jesus…..please come quickly!” – Touching last words from a saint anticipating going home to be with the Lord. The saint was the wife of Rev. Bartel Elshout, translator of Wilhelmus à Brakel’s The Christian’s Reasonable Service. (Biblical Spirituality)

6. “Missionary Footage Captures Emotion of Chinese Christians Receiving Bibles for the First Time” – Story on Chinese Christians receiving a Bible for the first time. (Christian News). Here is the YouTube footage:

“The Adoption of Maurice Griffin: A Picture of God’s Loving Relationship Toward His Elect” – Tony Zabala

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What a great story I recently read!   A CNN/KSAT.com article reports that a 32 year old man was adopted by his former foster mother.   Maurice Griffin of San Jose has been in search of his foster family, the Godbolds, since the State took him away from them nineteen years ago.   The reason they took him away from his foster family was that Griffin, believe it or not, wanted to be spanked like his foster parents’ natural children were spanked.   Griffin wanted to be treated the same way as the other children were being treated.   The problem is that the State does not allow foster parents to spank their foster children.

When Griffin expressed his desires to his social workers, they took Griffin away from the Godbolds a few days before they were to adopt Maurice.   Maurice told his social workers: “I wanted to be treated like a real son, . . .Their sons got spanked and I didn’t.”1   Moreover, the State also threatened to take the Godbold’s natural children away from them because of what Maurice revealed to his social workers.   Until that time, Griffin lived with the Godbolds for four years until the age of thirteen.

After Griffin was taken from the Godbolds, he went from foster family to foster family, but he never found the love, stability, and support that he had in the Godbolds’ household.   He described his relationships with other foster families “as never getting close to anyone again” and that “he hurt a lot of people”2.   In addition, Griffin described his time away from the Godbolds: “I couldn’t talk to anybody about it because nobody was there.   I couldn’t call somebody; there was just a void in me.”3

When Griffin was released from foster care, he started a search for the Godbold family. Finally, Griffin found his foster mother, Lisa Godbold, through social media six years ago.   Lisa Godbold had also been searching for Maurice as well.   Lisa’s husband, Charles, passed away in 1998, and she has since remarried.   Lisa adopted Maurice in front of a judge in San Diego on Friday.  Here is the CNN report on Maurice Griffin.

After reading and watching this story, it reminded me of God’s loving relationship toward His elect in that He adopted us into His family.   We were once lost, had no direction, and sometimes without a family.   However, God in his grace and mercy adopted us into His family because of no merit of our own (Eph. 2: 8-10, Gal. 2:16).   This is best described in the first chapter of Ephesians where the Apostle Paul stated:

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight 9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. 13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory. (Eph. 1: 3-14)

John MacArthur related a story about adult adoption during ancient Roman times. It was common practice for a wealthy family to adopt an adult male when there was no family heir. Here John MacArthur describes the four main consequences of a Roman adoption:

“Now there were four main consequences in a Roman adoption. The adopted person lost all rights in his own family and gained all rights in his new family. He gained all the rights of a fully legitimate son in his new family. Secondly he became full heir to his new father’s estate even if other sons, if there were no sons, if other sons were afterward born into the family who were real blood relations it did not affect his right of progenerate, his right to be the primary one. He was an inalienably identified heir. Thirdly, according to Roman law, the old life of the adopted person, this is interesting, was completely wiped out. If he had any debts they were cancelled, if he had any record of crime it was abolished. They wiped out all the records as if that person had never existed, as if they had never been born. And the adopted person was regarded as a new person entering a new life with no past. And fourthly in the eyes of the Roman law the adopted person was literally and absolutely the son of his new father in every sense.”4

Many Christians were adopted as adults into God’s family as well.   I know I was.   I was around the same age that Maurice was when God saved me and adopted me into His family.   Both the Ephesians passage and the account of adult adoption which John MacArthur describes give us a beautiful picture of how God has adopted us into His family.   According to the Ephesians passage, this is what we have gained through Christ: 1) blessed with every spiritual blessing (v.1), 2) holy and blameless before Him (v. 4), 3) adopted as sons thorough Jesus Christ (v. 5), 4) redeemed through His blood and forgiven of our sins (v. 7), 5) He (God) made known the mystery of His will (v. 9), 6) obtained an inheritance (v. 11), and 7) sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise (v. 13)

Maurice Griffin was adopted into the family he has always longed for, but as Christians we have been adopted into an even better family.   A family who’s head is a loving, gracious, and merciful Father, who has given us a rich inheritance which no earthly family can possibly give us.

(Tony Zabala is currently the Evangelism Coordinator for the Santa Monica Church)

1. Paul Vercammen and Lateef Mungin CNN, “32-year-old man to be adopted”, KSAT.com

2. Ibid

3. Ibid

4. John MacArthur, “Marks of a Child Adopted by God”, Grace To You.

News of Note

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1. “MacArthur’s He-man Warrior Children” – Fred Butler answers a group of bloggers comments about the odd, curious, and archaic tribe known as “MacArthurites”. (Hip and Thigh)

2. “California Woman Sues Christian College After Being Fired For Fornication” – Woman sues San Diego Christian College after being fired from college for fornication in violation of their community covenant. (Christian News)

The following is Teri James and her lawyer Gloria Allred’s news conference about the lawsuit:

3. “How Many Christians Really Want to Abolish Abortion?” – Do Christians really want to end abortion? Tony gives us reasons why abortion is murder, and why many Christians may not really want abortion abolished. (Cross Encounters)

“It’s much easier to be “pro-life” when one can keep himself from thinking about what the abolition of abortion will mean to those who insist on murdering their children once abortion is outlawed. It’s much easier, cleaner, tidier to be “pro-life” when one can keep herself from considering the cause-and-effect reality that the end of abortion will mean the beginning of real, penal consequences for the crime of abortion. But Christians cannot truly enjoy their sweet “pro-life” cake without the bitter frosting of the criminalization of abortion and the judicial punishment of those who commit the crime.” – Tony Miano

4. “Pope Benedict XVI’s leaked documents show fractured Vatican full of rivalries” – Pope Benedict XVI’s leaked documents reveal a fractured Vatican. (Washington Post)

5. “Libya Arrests Four Suspected Christian Missionaries” – Four Christian missionaries are arrested in Libya for distibuting Christian material and proselytizing in the eastern city of Benghazi. Libya has been under the increasing control of Muslim fundamentalists. (Christian Post); the Guardian also has a report on the four Christian missionaries.

6. A Girl’s Message To All Christians – Below are two YouTube videos of a sad and confusing message and the follow up response to that message from a young woman who wants to convey these messages to all Christians. Her messsages focus on love as an emotion rather than true Christ-like, sacrificial, agape love which is described in Scripture. Agape love which doesn’t forsake the truth of God’s Word. If you want to learn the true gospel message, please read “The Story”. A link to “The Story” is also provided below:

The true gospel message:

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Notable Quotable: “The Thing That We Should Most Look Foward To When Coming To Church Is The Offering” – John MacArthur

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“When you think about coming to church, what aspect do you look forward to the most? . . . Some people might say the teaching keeps them coming back each week. Others would say the music. For some believers, it might be the deep relationships with other Christians they find through their churches—relationships that they can’t cultivate elsewhere. Others might just appreciate the temporary relief from the pressures of life, work, and the world.

“But let me suggest something to you: If we really understand Scripture—particularly some specific promises from Jesus—the thing you should look forward to the most is the offering.

“God’s Word clearly teaches that our giving is actually a direct pipeline to His blessings. In fact, two simple statements from the Lord ought to make every Christian eager and thrilled for opportunities to give. If Scripture had nothing else to say about giving—if it was only these two promises from Christ—it should still be enough to compel us to line up and give generously, abundantly, and sacrificially.”

(John Mac Arthur, “The Abundance of Giving” , Grace To You)