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Why Mormons Leave: by Sandra Tanner

From a training session for Christians at the first week of 2009 Manti Pageant.

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Spiritual Abuse Survey: Is YOUR church a safe place?

Take the survey from wickedshepherds.com and see!

cauction-when-awesome

Here is a questionnaire to determine just how healthy your church really is. To find out how well it ranks, answer “yes” or “no” to the following questions:

•Does your church tightly control the flow of information within its ranks?

•Does the head of your church, along with the other “leaders”, use public shaming as a method to gain the compliance of followers?

•Does the head of your church and his “fellow elders” appear to be intolerant or consider it evil persecution when criticized or questioned?

•Are you discouraged to associate with former members, being warned that they are “evil” or “defiling”; a “danger to your spiritual welfare”?

•Is leaving your church to join another church that “is not approved by the elders” equal to leaving God?

•Do you fear being rebuked, shunned, or ignored for expressing a different opinion?

•At church, is there a sense of control, rather than support?

•Is there a relentless obsession of reminding the sheep of “who’s in authority”?

•Are you told not to ask questions as to why others have left? Are you told to accept the statements that the “elders” give you?

•Are books, tapes and CD’s, speakers, music, etc., carefully controlled to keep only the belief structure of your church before your mind?

•Is there is a relentless campaign to keep you around the activities of your church, expecting you to be at all the stated meetings, except if providentially hindered? And if you are absent, is your spirituality and dedication sometimes questioned?

•Is the concept ever so subtly present that, “when you please the “pastor”, God is pleased and when your “pastor” is not pleased with you, God is not pleased with you?

•Is there present, the breaking of even the closest family ties, to “guard” the flock?

•Is there the constant using of guilt and shame as tools of control?

•Is there present at your church the encouragement of the members to spy and report on each other, lest sin be found in the midst?

•Is there present at your church the dominant climate of fear in the group – fear of failing to keep one of the rules, and fear of being held up to public humiliation and rejection?

•At church, are the normal lines between what is private and what is public knowledge broken, and members confess the most personal, and the most minor sins, as the conscience is being surrendered to the “leadership”?

•Are many (if not all) of the results from voting at “congregational business meetings” announced as….. “it is unanimous!”?

•Is questioning condemned as “whispering, back- biting, vicious slander, gossip, nit picking, signs of a proud rebellious spirit, being disaffected and divisive?

•Are those who dissent publicly punished? Are their reputations murdered by veiled, or not so veiled “revelations” of “sins”; past and present, as confidentiality is broken for the benefit of the leaders?

•Is there a misplaced loyalty from Jesus and God onto the leadership, which is idolatry?

•Is there harsh preaching and full of condemnation for your failures and are you deliberately being kept wounded and off balance by the haranguing and condemnation from the pulpit?

•Is “Persevere or be damned” and “listen to YOUR elders; obey YOUR elders”; “submit to YOUR elders” preached over and over again?

•Is paranoia the “very air you breathe”? Paranoia of falling from grace; thinking for yourselves; breaking the many unspoken rules as well as the clearly spelled out expectations of the leader?

•Are you becoming paranoid – carefully watching your every word and even gesture, lest someone report your faults?

•Does a code of silence reign at your church? Is no one to divulge the business of the church, or the faults of the leadership?

•Do the spiritual leaders at your church seem to give you the impression that either covertly or overtly, they have the right to tell you how you should manage your own family; presuming that they know your own family better than you know yourself?

RESULTS

If you answered “no” to all of the above questions, your church is relatively healthy. If you answered “yes” to a quarter or more, your church is showing signs of being unhealthy. If you answered “yes” to half or more, your church is very, very unhealthy. If you answered “yes” to three-quarters or more, your church is an authoritarian cult. 

http://endtimesdeception.com/?p=681

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Coming to THIS BLOG and

//www.blogtalkradio.com/How2BecomeAChristian

Tuesday nights @ 10pm Central

STARTING JANUARY 6

The How2BecomeAChristian.info RADIO SHOW will begin to air on BlogTalkRadio on January 6 at 10pm central. The show will be a mix of pre-recorded live shows and live call in shows. The show will feature interviews with well known Theologians and other professionals in various fields of Study. First up will be Ex-Word of Faith Preacher John Edwards from FaithPreacher.blogspot.com AND Christian Ufologist Guy Malone from alienresistance.org The shows will also do other things besides interviews. I will schedule ONE SHOW a month for people to air their grievances in a live format.

There is NOW a rough draft of a preview show with Pastor John in which I use audio from his video on his site, available for your listening (click the LOGO above). To let you know what to expect. The full and finished show will be finished and released in a few days. I will have MY INTERVIEW with pastor John coming in 1-2 weeks.

There will be 3 points of distribution for the How2BecomeAChristian.info RADIO SHOW and it’s Sister show OccultAgendaExposure.Info RADIO which will start sometimes in February.

1. BlogTalkRadio. The shows can be viewed and participated in at this URL http://www.blogtalkradio.com/How2BecomeAChristian The shows will also be available for download and listening there.

2. There will be shows that WILL NOT air at BTR. Those shows will be distributed at SoundClick.com at this URL http://www.soundclick.com/how2becomeachristian and the BLOGs

3. ALL shows will be broadcast from a respective BLOGPOST for that show episode.

http://how2becomeachristianinfoblog.com/

AND

http://OccultAgendaExposure.Wordpress.Com

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GUEST WISHLIST:

Scheduled: Guy Malone, John Edwards

Almost Scheduled: Peter Goodgame, Stan Deyo, Patrick Hering, David lowe, john Edwards, Michael heiser, Bill scnoebelen, Dave Ruffino, Jim Wilhelson, Joe Jordan, David Flynn
Wishful yet hopeful: Justin peters, Sandy Simpson, Rick Ross, biblical truth for Mormons, Mormon curtain, 20 truths about Mormonism, Keith and Lorrie Macgragor, and their Trinitarian friend, Ed Decker, Sharon and Derrick Gilbert at peering into the darkness, PID RADIO, Russ Disdar at shatter the darkness, Christ White No Where to Run from Revere Radio Network and Revelation Radio, Ron Rhodes: Reasoning from the Scriptures ministries, Sharon and Derrick Gilbert at Peering into the Darkness PID RADIO, Russ Disdar at Shatter the Darkness, Chris , James Spencer at Maze Ministry, Matt Slick at carm, Kirby Anderson Probe Ministries.

MORE TO ADD SOON. If you would like to submit a name or ministry to this list. Please leave the name or ministry name in the comment field below.

How2BecomeAChristian (with a numeral 2) ministries is a Christian Apologetics Ministry primarily devoted to answering the question “How to become a Christian?” The ministry focuses on Christian essentials but also covers all non essential doctrines and issues concerning Christianity and religion in general. Including all non/Christian religions, aberrant Christian cults, the Occult, the New Age Movement and much more.

All material produced by How2BecomeAChristian (with a numeral 2) ministries IS LICENSED for your FREE USE under Commons Copyright Licensing.

//www.blogtalkradio.com/How2BecomeAChristian

Laina Farhat-Holzman: Closed societies conceal abuse of power

Posted: 12/13/2008 01:36:56 AM PST

We have had a splendid election and see how governmental power works in this country. There are many power centers, much citizen participation, and a snoopy press to investigate abuse of power — essential in preserving democracy.

However, there are groups around the world that believe in variations of “the philosopher king” or even more frightening: “the great and good leader” Fuhrer. Any time you feel like complaining about our system of government, take a look at how absolute power works — and how secrecy protects it.

• The Catholic Pedophile Priest problem: Secrecy in an organization as large, respected and ancient as the Catholic Church hid for decades a problem that needed publicity. Celibacy played a role in attracting young men into a priesthood — respected by parishioners — where some found their power over children both sexual and irresistible. The issue was finally forced into the public, and the Church has apologized and paid for its bad oversight and has apparently cleaned up the problem.

• Renegade Mormons: The secretive fundamentalist Mormon cults that keep to themselves, defy the laws against polygamy, and have benefited from the benign neglect of state authorities Utah, Arizona, Montana. “Elders” abuse not only grown women, but young girls and some boys as well. The courage of a handful of former victims opened up this scandal and some of the cult leaders are in prison.

• Messianic Cults: Jim Jones, founder of Jonestown in Guyana, began as a much-admired social activist who appeared to believe in a color-blind community. When authorities looked harder at his activities, he took his congregation to a “paradise” in the tropics. There they found equality all right: equal sexual abuse men, women, children and equality to work as slaves. Publicity and a fact-finding visit of a California congressman opened up the horrors and Jones ended his life as a mass murderer cyanide drinks or bullets for all.

Another crackpot cult was that of David Koresh in Texas, which went down in flames when finally taken on by the authorities. For years, nobody knew what horrors were going on there. He was a sexual bully who inflicted equal opportunity rape on all ages and both sexes. How he convinced them that he was a messiah is still a mystery or a tribute to their credulity.

• Orthodox Jewish Utopian Communities: A New York assemblyman exposed rampant child molestation among members of the insular world of Orthodox Jews in a radio broadcast last summer. Since then, dozens of people came forward with stories about being molested as children. In such closed communities a very small percentage of American Jews, sex abuse cases have been handled quietly in Orthodox rabbinical courts. They did not want publicity or the authorities to be involved. Well, now they are.

• A serious Muslim Family Problem: Cults such as al-Qaida and their ilk always have sexual problems. Societies that isolate women from men breed sexual obsession. Muslim boys have often been victims of sexual abuse by grown men — amplified in military situations where recruits are victims of their officers. But abuse is most horrible against girls, many of whom are married off at puberty. Wife and child beating have only begun to go public in such emancipated societies as modern Europe, where village Muslims have migrated from Pakistan, Iraq, Turkey, and North Africa. Politically correct officials have finally recognized that they have a problem.

Another serious Muslim problem not just militant cults is willingness to demonstrate and riot over the Danish cartoons, but not over the thugs who attacked Mumbai in the name of Islam. Where is the “religion of peace?”

• Animal Liberation Front: This particularly terrorist cult destroyed two vehicles they thought belonged to a medical researcher at UCLA. They had the wrong cars. They have also threatened medical researchers’ homes. Secrecy protects them.

Happily, we live in a society that is almost embarrassingly open. Nobody should have total control over others because power can abuse and absolute power is a blueprint for horror.

Laina Farhat-Holzman is a historian, lecturer, and author. Contact her at Lfarhat102@aol.com or www.globalthink.net.

http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/opinion/ci_11225128

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Legislators’ anti-gay sentiments come back to haunt Mormons
Paul Rolly

The Salt Lake Tribune

Updated: 12/05/2008 10:13:14 PM MST

Had the Utah Legislature not balked so vehemently at any hate-crime legislation that included protections for gays and lesbians, the state might now have better tools to prosecute those committing hate crimes against members and property of the LDS Church.

That’s the irony emerging from the ugly aftermath of California’s Proposition 8 vote banning gay marriage in that state. Because members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, at the urging of their ecclesiastical leaders, played such a prominent role with their money and time in the passing of the proposition, their church is now a target.

Church services have been disrupted by protesters, members have been blocked from entering churches, glue has been poured into the locks of church buildings, glass doors of churches have been shattered by BB guns, LDS temples have received packages containing mysterious white powder that proved harmless, and church buildings and signs have been spray-painted.

But the perpetrators, if caught and charged in Utah, don’t face penalty enhancements for targeting a specific group for harassment. That is because a majority of Utah legislators, not wanting to appear to be coddling people who are gay, refused to include them in hate-crime legislation as a special class.

The best that LDS victims of hate crimes can hope for in Utah is that their suffering be considered an aggravating factor when judges sentence a perpetrator and parole boards determine how much of the guilty party’s sentence must be served before granting parole.

Legislators could have included a penalty enhancement for a hate crime. If, for example, a crime normally would be charged as a third-degree felony, it could be bumped to a second-degree felony if committed against a protected class.

Indeed, that was the model of hate-crimes legislation that proponents tried for a decade to pass. But in order to constitutionally justify a penalty enhancement, which most states include in such laws, protected groups must be defined.

That was always the stumbling block on Capitol Hill. For a hate-crime enhancement, it had to be shown the victim was targeted because of race, religion, ethnicity, gender, age, disability or — the bill killer — sexual preference.

Rep. David Litvak, D-Salt Lake City, sponsored the bill that finally passed in 2007. He acknowledges it is not as tough as it could have been, but the compromise was necessary to get it through the Legislature. There are no protected groups defined in the marshmallow law and prosecutors must show the crime had a negative effect on a whole class of people before it can be considered an aggravating factor.

Many of the legislators who fought against the hate-crimes bills expressed concern about discrimination against Mormons.

A few years ago, Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Provo, led the move to force a legislative audit of the University of Utah’s medical school because of speculation that male Mormon applicants were being discriminated against. So now, because of the anti-gay sentiments expressed at the Mormon-majority Legislature, when LDS Church members actually are singled out for harassment or discrimination, their tormentors get a pass, pretty much, even if their actions can be proven to be hate crimes.

LDS Church leaders did not oppose including sexual orientation in the earlier versions of the bill. When the church issued a statement to that effect, Gayle Ruzicka, head of the right-wing Eagle Forum, said the church was implicitly opposing the legislation because its statement did not say it supported the language.

That prompted a church spokesman to say that the Eagle Forum does not speak for the LDS Church.

http://www.sltrib.com/opinion/ci_11149778

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Debate Topic: Is water baptism necessary for salvation?

On Tuesday, May 13, 2008 I debated a Mr. Roger Perkins on “Is water baptism necessary for salvation?”. Mr. Perkins is a oneness believer and an ex-pastor in the oneness movement. Mr. Perkins holds the position that water baptism is necessary for salvation. I deny that assertion and maintain that justification is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

Mr. Perkins opened with a 15 minute speech. I followed with the text below, which I read word for word – except in a few places where I ventured away from the text for a brief moment.

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The topic tonight is “Is water baptism necessary for salvation?”. Notice that when we say “necessary” we mean that there is no exception to the requirement – otherwise the word “necessary” is inappropriate. So, if there is an exception, if someone can be saved without baptism, then water baptism is not necessary.

Has as Mr. Perkins that it water baptism is an absolute necessity? No. He can certainly cite examples of people being baptized after they believe, but citing examples does not prove that water baptism is necessary in order to be saved.

If we can find anyone who is saved without being baptized then we have proved that baptism is not necessary for salvation. This is very easy to do because we find the Old Testament saints who died in the faith and the expectation of the Messiah who were not baptized in water, yet they were saved. Paul brings the Old Testament context into the new. In Romans 4:3, he says, “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” Paul refers to Abraham to say that his faith was reckoned as righteousness. Since only the saved are righteous in God’s site, Abraham’s salvation (though ultimately future as it waited for the sacrifice of Christ) was received by faith – before any rituals were instituted, including the ritual of circumcision.

Two verses later in Romans 4:5, Paul speaks to us today by saying, “But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness.” Notice that the same phrases used: Faith is reckoned as righteousness. Again in Rom. 5:1, he says “therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

So, faith is reckoned as righteousness back in Abraham’s time as well as ours today. Abraham was saved without a ritual and so are we. This is why we are justified by faith. It is not faith in the ritual of water baptism that results in righteousness nor is it faith and water baptism that brings us justification; otherwise, we are not justified by faith but by faith and water baptism, by faith and a ritual.

The ritual of circumcision is condemned by Paul in Galatians 5 as having no part of salvation. He condemns the Judaizers for their desire to participate in a ritual and add it to their faith in Christ.

A ritual is a ceremony that is done by one or more persons. Circumcision involves two parties: the one performing the action and the one receiving the action. Likewise, baptism involves two parties: the one performing the action and the one receiving the action. Both are rituals. Both are religious procedures. Both are religious ceremonies. My opponent is requiring a ritual, a ceremony in order to be saved.

I’ve proven that baptism is not necessary for salvation by citing Abraham. But Mr. Perkins might say that my approach is misguided and that the Old Testament saints were under a different “dispensation” or “requirement” than we are today and that we could not require that they be held to Christian baptism since Christian baptism had not yet been instituted. If that is so, then water baptism is not necessary for salvation. It is simple logic.

Nevertheless, for the sake of continuing our debate, let’s limit our discussion to whether or not water baptism is necessary for us now. Do we need to be baptized in water in order to be justified by faith?

The answer is no because if it were necessary then it would violate the Scriptures’ clear teaching that justification is by grace through faith. It is never said that we are justified by faith and something whether it be law, ceremony, or sincerity of heart.  

Now, my opponent has turned to Scripture and quoted various verses about water baptism and said the Scriptures teach it is necessary. But this has not been established. He has inferred that it is necessary by citing the pattern of baptism after belief. In fact, there is no scripture that says “baptism is necessary for salvation”. We see no verses that say we are condemned if we don’t get baptized, but we do see scripture that says we are condemned if we don’t believe. Mark 16:16 says “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” John 3:18 says, “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already.” If baptism is necessary for salvation then we should find verses that say “and he who is not baptized will be condemned.” But no such verse exists.

Now Paul preached the gospel and he said in 1 Cor. 1:15-17, “I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 that no man should say you were baptized in my name. 16 Now I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized any other. 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel….” If baptism is necessary for salvation, why is Paul saying he came to preach the gospel and not to baptize? Why is Paul saying he’s glad he did not baptize except a very few people? Paul is too smart to make the mistake of not baptizing people if people are erringly claiming to be baptized into his name. It would be like me saying, “I’m not going to preach salvation in Christ by faith because someone might say they received it in the name of Matt Slick.” I am obligated to preach the gospel that saves regardless of whether or not someone mistakenly points to me or to God in the process. I’ll point to God. I’ll point to justification by faith alone in Christ alone… not to justification by faith and water baptism, not to justification by faith and circumcision, not to justification by faith and going to church, not to justification by faith and any other human ritual that would add to the finished work of Christ and, thereby, insult the cross.

Again, Paul said he came to preach the gospel not to baptize. In fact, Paul tells us that it is the gospel that saves, and baptism is excluded from what he says the gospel is. He says in 1 Cor. 15:1-4, “Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel … by which also you are saved…that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” Baptism is not mentioned as part of that which saves us.

In Acts 16:27-34 when the jailer had been awakened by an earthquake and he saw that the prisoners under his charge did not escape he asked Paul “what must I do to be saved?” The answer was simple, “believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved, you and your household.” He was then immediately baptized. Notice that Paul did not say that you must believe the Lord Jesus Christ and be baptized in order to be saved. He left baptism out. He said believe. If baptism is necessary for salvation, then why did Paul exclude it?

In Acts 10:44-47 it says, “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. 45 And all the circumcised believers who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out upon the Gentiles also. 46 For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answered, 47 “Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?”. These people were saved. The gift of the Holy Spirit was on the Gentiles and they were speaking in tongues. Tongues is a gift given to the members of the Christian Church, as 1 Cor. 14:1-5 shows us. Also, unbelievers don’t praise God. They can’t because praise to the true God is a deep spiritual matter that is foreign to the unsaved. 1 Cor. 2:14 says the unbeliever does not receive or understand spiritual things and Rom. 3:10-12 says the unbeliever does not seek for God and is a hater of God. Therefore, the ones in Acts 10:44-47 who are speaking in tongues and praising God are definitely saved and they are saved before they are baptized. This simply isn’t an exception. It is a reality. 

Another way of dealing with the baptism issue is with a brief discussion about someone on her deathbed in a hospital. And let me tell you, I have spoken with at least two to hospital chaplains who told me that this happens.

Let’s say there is a person who is dying and the Chaplain comes in and gives him the gospel. Then under the conviction of the Holy Spirit which is in accordance with John 16:8, the person believes that Jesus died for his sins, was buried, and rose from the dead according to the Scriptures. This person confesses with his mouth that Jesus is Lord (Rom. 10:9-10), prays to Christ (1 Cor. 1:2; John 14:14), and receives Christ (John 1:12), by faith but dies before water baptism is administered, is that person saved or damned?

If water baptism is necessary, then that person is damned to hell even though he trusted in Christ, even though he trusted in the sacrifice of Christ, even though he by faith receive Christ. He would be damned to hell because he did not participate in the human ritual. He would be damned to hell because, he would not be justified by faith, but by faith and the ritual of water baptism.

If Mr. Perkins says he does not know if the person goes to heaven or hell, and water baptism is not necessary because if it were, he would be in hell.

Paul tells us in Romans 4:5, “But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness,” and again in Romans 5:1, “therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

We are justified by faith, not by faith and baptism, not by faith and a ritual. Christ’s work is sufficient in itself for his complete and finished and there is nothing we could add to it. This is why we receive our salvation by faith. This is why we are justified by faith, this is why baptism is not necessary for salvation, because otherwise, it is not justification by faith.

http://www.carm.org/oneness/debate_baptism.htm

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Baptism Verses with responses

On May 13, 2008 I was in a formal debate with a oneness believer who said baptism was necessary for salvation. Following are my notes I prepared for that debate.  I put htem here as an additional help to readers.

If you would like to read the opening paper I read at the debate, please see Matt Slick’s Opening Statement on Baptism.

  1. Matthew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
    1. This verse does not to say that baptism is necessary for salvation. It says that baptism is part of making disciples.
    2. If baptism is necessary for salvation then it must also be true that teaching disciples to observe all that Jesus commanded is necessary as well. But this would be salvation by works. Instead, Jesus is explicitly declaring how to make disciples – by baptizing them and teaching them to observe what Christ and commanded.
  2. Mark 16:16, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.”
    1. I could easily say that he who believes and goes to church will be saved. That is true.  But it is belief that saves, not belief and going to church.  Likewise, if you believe and read your Bible, you’ll be saved.  But it isn’t reading your Bible that saves you.
    2. Likewise, those who believe and are baptized will be saved. But the emphasis is on faith not on baptism. Notice that Mark 16:16 says that he does not believe will be condemned. It does not say that he who is not baptized will not be condemned. If baptism is necessary for salvation, then we should find somewhere in Scripture where it says something to the effect of if you’re not baptized, you’re not saved. But we find no such statement.
  3. Luke 7:30, “But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God’s purpose for themselves, not having been baptized by John.”
    1. This is not a Christian baptism that is referenced here. It is the baptism of John so this cannot be used to demonstrate baptism is necessary for salvation.
  4. John 3:1-5, “Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; 2 this man came to Him by night, and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
    1. Christian baptism had not yet been instituted when Jesus spoke these words. So how could it be Christian baptism that was being referred to? Nicodemus most probably would have been thinking of John’s baptism of repentance, and certainly not Christian baptism since it had not yet been instituted by Christ.
           I would like to point out that when Jesus says we must be born again, what it actually says in the Greek is we must be born from above. The words “born again” are not there. The words are “born from above.”
    2. There are five different Interpretations to these verses.
      1. The water refers to the natural birth.
        1. The first option looks to the context of Jesus’ words dealing with being born “again” (3:3). Nicodemus responds by mentioning the experience of being born from the womb (v. 4). Jesus then speaks of water and the Spirit and then says, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (3:6).  The implication is that the first birth is the natural birth and the second birth is the spiritual birth.  In other words, the water refers to the water of the womb — the first birth.  This seems to have support in the understanding of Nicodemus about entering into the womb to be born a second time.  However, this view is not the most commonly held view.
      2. The water refers to the Word of God.
        1. The verses that seem to suggest this are Eph. 5:26 says, “that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word.” Some believe that the washing of water is done by means of the Word of God.
        2. John 7:37-38, “If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. 38 “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.’”
      3. The water refers to the Holy Spirit.
        1. The third view says that the water refers to the Holy Spirit. Perhaps Nicodemus was reminded of Ezek. 36:25-27, “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26″Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27″And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.” Certainly, Jesus’ own words are applicable here when He says in John 7:37-39, “If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. 38″He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.'” 39But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”
      4. The water refers to the ministry of John the Baptist.
        1. This view says the water is in reference to the water baptism of repentance taught by John the Baptist. Matt. 3:1-6 describes John’s ministry in the desert, his teaching about repentance, and baptizing people into that repentance. Contextually, the first chapter of John mentions John the Baptist in verses 6-8 and 19-36. If John’s ministry is in view here, then Jesus would have been speaking of the “baptism” (the initiatory ordinance) of repentance preached by John the Baptist.
        2. The water refers to the water of baptism as a requirement for salvation.
          1. But this would mean we were not justified by faith.
          2. It would be adding a ritualistic requirement to salvation.
  5. John 19:34, “but one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately there came out blood and water.”
    1. This has nothing to do with water baptism. When someone dies from crucifixion, the heart ruptures, the elements of the blood separate, and water seeps into the chest cavity. This is why the soldier pierced his side because when one looks like water comes out, it means death has occurred.  
  6. Acts 2:38, “And Peter said to them, “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
    1. What is going on here is that repentance and forgiveness of sins are connected. In the Greek, “repent” is in the plural and so is “your” of “your sins.” They are meant to be understood as being related to each other. It is like saying, “All of you repent, each of you get baptized, and all of you will receive forgiveness.” It isn’t baptism that gets forgiveness of sins, but repentance. You see, repentance is a mark of salvation because it is granted by God (2 Tim. 2:25) and is given to believers only. In this context, only the regenerated, repentant person is to be baptized. Baptism is the manifestation of the repentance, that gift from God that is the sign of the circumcised heart. That is why it says, repent and get baptized.
    2. The Oneness argument says that the word “for” means that you are getting baptized in order to receive forgiveness of sins. Again, if this is what is meant, then we are not receiving the forgiveness of sins when we believe, but after we have performed a ritual. There’s no way around this. Is a ritual also required for our salvation? Is there a work we must perform in order to be saved?
    3. Biblically, a work is a ritual, a law that must be followed. Circumcision was just such a ritual, a ceremony. Paul condemns the Judaizers for adding that ritual, that ceremony to the grace of God. He condemns them because they added a ceremonial requirement to salvation. This is heresy and Paul rightly condemned it.
    4. Baptism is a ritual. It is a ceremony. If it is necessary for salvation, then a ritual must be observed in order to obtain Christ’s forgiveness. This is salvation by grace and ritual, not salvation by grace through faith.
    5. Faith occurs when you believe. You are justified by faith when you believe, otherwise you’re not justified by faith. So, this verse cannot mean that we have to be baptized in water in order to have our sins forgiven.
    6. It means that we are baptized to indentify with the forgiveness of sins.
    7. Mark 1:4, “John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”
    8. Also, if we are to understand this verse to mean that baptism is necessary for salvation, then we must also understand that repentance is necessary. But this is a problem because it would require that we be good in order to be saved – but this amounts to justification by works. Of course, we are supposed to repent of our sins, but it is not the repentance of sins that brings us salvation; rather, it is salvation that brings us repentance because unbelievers don’t turn from their sins, only believers do only the saved seek to honor God.
  7. Acts 8:35-38, “And Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. 36 And as they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 37 [And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”] 38 And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch; and he baptized him.”
    1. There’s nothing in these verses to show that baptism is necessary for salvation. It only says that the Eunuch was baptized after he believed. It shows that a person should be baptized right away after receiving believing in Christ.  
  8. Acts 22:16, ‘And now why do you delay? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.’
    1. What washes away their sins not water, but calling on the name of Jesus.
    2. The verse does not say be baptized washing away your sins. It says be baptized and wash away your sins calling on his name. What washes away our sins is calling on his name — which would mean we are saved by grace through faith, not grace through faith in water.
  9. Rom. 6:3-5, “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection.”
    1.  The phrase “baptized into” means here “to identify with.” It cannot mean that baptism is the means by which we enter into union with Christ. This would be ritualistic communion and Paul in no way ever talked in you ritual was necessary in order to be saved.
    2. Instead, Paul taught that baptism represented identification with Christ. Consider 1 Cor. 10:1-4, “For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 and all ate the same spiritual food; 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ.” Therefore we can see it to be baptized into his refrained identification not the means by which were saved.
  10. 1 Cor. 12:13, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.”
    1. Which baptism is this speaking of, the baptism of water or the baptism of the Spirit.
    2. Eph. 4:5 tells us that there is “one faith, one Lord, one baptism.”
    3. If this means that we get into the church by being baptized in water, and no one is in the Christian church unless he or she has gone through the ritual. This would mean that salvation is not by grace through faith, but by faith and ritual.
    4. The very verse here tells us about being made to drink of the one Spirit. This is an obvious figurative usage but it tells us two things. First, it alludes to the baptism of the spirit, not of water. Second, if we must require that the baptism spoken of here means water, but why not require the literalness also of drinking the Spirit? It it makes no sense composes upon the text. Therefore, this verse is not dealing with water baptism but Spirit baptism.
    5. Acts 11:16, ‘John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’
    6. John 7:38, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.’ 39 But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”  
  11. Gal. 3:27, “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”
    1. A. Water baptism is not mentioned here. This is probably a reference to baptism of the Holy Spirit. 1 Cor. 12:13 says, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.”
    2.  Paul taught that baptism represented identification with Christ. Consider 1 Cor. 10:1-4, “For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 and all ate the same spiritual food; 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ.” Therefore we can see it to be baptized into his refrained identification not the means by which were saved.
    3. This might be a reference to the Roman garment of the full-grown man, assumed when ceasing to be a child.
    4.  Baptism is the identification with Christ, signifying having come to the faith, having died to sin, and risen with the Lord Jesus Christ.
  12. Eph. 5:25-26, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; 26 that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word.”
    1. There is no mention and baptism at all. Paul associates the washing of water with the word.
    2. If this is referring to water baptism, then it must mean that Christ is the one actually performing the act of baptism on the entire church because it says “just as Christ also loved the church and gave him self up for her that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water…” which would mean baptism.
    3. The reality is that when I lead my wife in devotions with the word, I’m washing her in the word of God. That is how I love her and wash her.
  13. Col. 2:12, “having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.”
    1. This verse does not show the necessity of being baptized in order to be saved. It simply speaks about our identification with Christ and are baptism. And nowhere here says baptism is necessary for salvation.
    2. If anything, this verse in its context equates baptism and circumcision: Col. 2:11-12, “in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; 12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.” Paul is relating the ritual of circumcision with the ritual of baptism, both are covenant signs.
      1. Still, this verse in no way says that water baptism is necessary for salvation. But it does equate circumcision and baptism together. We must be reminded of how Paul condemned the Judaizers for requiring the ritual of circumcision to be saved. We can make a strong case here at requiring the ritual of baptism would likewise be condemned.
  14. Titus 3:5, “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,”
    1. This verse is telling us that regeneration is the washing, not the regeneration of baptism. There is no mention of water baptism here and there certainly is no mention of water baptism being necessary for salvation.  
  15. Heb. 10:22, “let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”
    1. Heb. 9:14, “how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
    2. 1 Peter 1:2, “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood…” This is all reference to the Old Testament ceremonies of sprinkling blood in order to cleanse the temple (Heb. 9). This is what the high priest did and Jesus, who is our high priest according to the order of Melchizedek, likewise cleanses us with his blood. This is how our hearts are cleaned, but the sprinkling of the blood of Christ, not by our bodies getting dunked in water.
  16. 1 Pet. 3:21, “And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,”
    1. This verse negates water baptism by saying the baptism that saves is not the kind that deals with the removal of dirt in the flesh. That is, it is not the issue of water which washes the body, but that baptism of the heart which is an appeal for a good conscience to God.
    2. Some think that the baptism corresponds to the Ark because it was the Ark that saved them, not the floodwaters. this is a possibility but one of the problems with it is that this interpretation does not seem to stand grammatically since the antecedent of Baptism is most probably in reference to the water, not the Ark.      But, water did not save Noah.  This is why Peter excludes the issue of water baptism being the thing that saves us because he says, “not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God”.  Peter says that is not the application of water that saves us but a pledge of the good conscience. Therefore, baptism here most probably represents the breaking away of the old sinful life and entrance into the new life the same way that the flood waters in Noah’s time was the destruction of the sinful way and once through it known entered into his new life.
    3. Peter’s explanatory comment shows us that the act of physical baptism is not what saves, but the “baptism of appeal to God.”  This appeal to God is by faith the same as Noah’s faith in God led him to build the Ark, enter it, and remain in it.

 

http://www.carm.org/baptism/baptism_verses.htm

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What is a Cult and the Occult? by Jim Bramlett

(The information below is summarized from numerous expert sources on cults and the occult)

The two words, “cult and occult,” sound similar. But while different, they both pose a similar spiritual threat to people by appearing to be something they are not. Both can cause its victims to miss God’s loving and free provision for their lives through Christ, and cause them to face a tragic, Christless eternity. There are many nice, friendly and caring people in the cults and the occult. God loves them, so much that Christ died for them. They are not our enemy. Our enemy is Satan and his deceiving spirits.

Cults

In popular usage, “cults” are religious groups predicted by the Bible (2 Peter 2:1) that deviate from the central, historic truths of biblical Christianity and God’s revelation in Christ. Some cults are offshoots of ancient pagan religions, have no similarity to Christianity, and are easy to identify. Others falsely try to imitate Christianity, often using the Bible and Christian terminology, and are more difficult to distinguish. These latter cults typically exhibit one or more of the following traits:

1. They may consider Jesus Christ as not equal to God the Father, but something less. But Jesus said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9), and Paul said that Christ is the “image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15) The Bible is repeatedly clear that Jesus is deity, and when on the earth, He was God in human form. We can be redeemed from our sins only because God’s own perfect blood (in Christ) was shed for our perfect cleansing.

2. They may typically reject the clear biblical revelation of a triune God, sometimes called the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit — one God, not three, but manifest in three Persons. The Bible refers to all three as Persons, yet One. A mystery, but truth.

3. They may have their own “sacred” book in addition to the Bible. And although they usually deny it, these books conflict with and are given precedence over the Bible.

4. They typically reject the wonderful biblical truth that salvation is a “free gift” from God by grace through faith alone (this truth glorifies God and not man). Instead, cults and all other “religions” falsely say that people must “earn” their salvation by certain works and deeds, often works that will perpetuate the cult (this glorifies man rather than God).

5. Cults are often exclusive, centering around a strong leader (or late founder) who has the only “true” interpretation of Scripture. Whereas Christ came to give us freedom, (Galatians 5:1), cult members are in bondage to that cult or leader, with the threat that leaving the cult will cause a loss of salvation.

Thousands of these cults exist, but here are some major ones listed in most cult reference books: Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Science, The Unity School of Christianity, The Way International, The Children of God, Scientology, The Unification Church, Unitarianism and the New Age Movement (which is also occult).

If involved in any cult, run — don’t walk — to the nearest exit, and find a Christ-centered, Bible- believing church. Also, apply the four-step process below.

References. There are many excellent books available on cults. Four are: The Kingdom of the Cults, by Dr. Walter R. Martin; The Deceivers, by Josh McDowell and Don Stewart; Cult Watch, by Dr. John Ankerberg and John Weldon; and Larson’s New Book of Cults, by Bob Larson.

The Occult

The word “occult” refers to what is hidden, concealed, or secret. The occult involves the spirit world, but the spirit world of darkness. The occult is particularly deceptive because the spirit world is very real. Practitioners are dealing with reality — but dark, forbidden, and evil reality.

There are two kinds of spiritual reality. The first is God’s spiritual Kingdom of truth and light, where Christ is King, the nature of which is “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17), and where God’s holy angels dwell, worship and serve Him. The second is the world of Satan (a fallen angel), a world of darkness and hopelessness, void of God, and where other fallen angels (called demons) who hate God work to advance this evil kingdom under their leader, Satan. This latter world of spiritual darkness is that which is experienced through the sinister practices of the occult.

The Bible does not reveal a “dualism,” or co-equal forces of good (represented by God) and evil (represented by Satan). Satan is totally subject to the sovereign, omnipotent Creator. But God has given Satan certain authority to operate in the earth as a result of man’s sinful fall. He operates through the minds and wills of fallen humanity, and he has constructed a complex web of many evil schemes, including occult practices, even religions, to deceive and snare people by appearing to offer them access to supernatural power and knowledge. The Bible says that such deception will increase in “the last days” before Christ returns (1 Timothy 4:1). But the Bible also says, “The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that He might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). Those who trust and obey Jesus Christ have protection and victory through Him.

Any degree of occult involvement can produce problems of oppression, depression, despair, hopelessness, and many physical problems, sometimes bringing death, even self-destruction. Demonic influence can produce obsessions, phobias, bizarre behavior, violence, homicide and sexual perversion in its victims. Worse, it can deceive a person into eternal darkness. The occult is a form of idolatry and a sin expressly forbidden by God (Deuteronomy 18:9-12). In the New Testament when the gospel was proclaimed and received, the liberated people gladly burned all their occult materials (see Acts 19:19).

Here are just a few of the many occult practices: astrology, various kinds of “fortune telling,” witchcraft, satanism, ESP, telepathy, clairvoyance, seances, spiritism meetings, use of mediums or “channeling,” automatic writing, ouija boards, hypnosis, parapsychology, psychic surgery, eastern religions, reincarnation, voodoo, magic charming, yoga; involvement with psychics such as Jeane Dixon, Edgar Cayce; the Rosicrucians, and the New Age Movement. The New Age Movement is a catchall term embracing many modern occult beliefs and practices. There is even compelling evidence that UFOs are real, but supernatural and often occult manifestations of fallen angels whose ultimate purpose is to deceive humanity into thinking super-intelligent extraterrestrials will help usher the earth into a golden “New Age” of happiness without God. But with God rejected and without His blessings, occult-practicing, lost and depraved humanity will soon bring upon itself the end-time global holocaust prophesied by the Bible.

If you are now or have ever been, anytime in your life, involved with any cult or occult practice, you can be set free of it and any symptoms it may have brought by doing the following: (1) Confess sincere faith in and commitment to Christ; (2) confess the cult and occult sins to God, naming and forsaking each one; (3) renounce Satan, in Jesus’ name, and commanding him and his demons to depart; and (4), receive and claim your liberation by faith, without doubting, trusting in the authority and total faithfulness of God and His Word. If you do this, Satan must obey and release you, by the authority of Jesus’ Name and God’s Word, and any symptoms that Satan put on you must disappear.

References. There are many books available in Christian bookstores on the occult and the New Age Movement, including The Coming Darkness, by John Ankerberg and John Weldon; Inside the New Age Nightmare, by Randall N. Baer; Understanding the Occult, by Josh McDowell and Don Stewart. For information on UFOs: The Omega Conspiracy, by Dr. I.D.E. Thomas; Planet Earth–2000 A.D., by Hal Lindsey; and the outstanding documentary video, UFOs: The Hidden Truth (the video is available by calling 1-800-475-1111).

http://www.choicesforliving.com/spirit/cults.htm

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HERESIES: THEN AND NOW
By Jason Barker

In 2 Peter 2:1–2, the apostle states, “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.”

The apostle accurately observed the spread of heresy in the first–century church, and his warning that false teachers would continue to arise can easily be seen in the growth of cults and pseudo–Christian religions in our time. Interestingly, the heresies that are popular today are simply variations of the same heresies that have arisen throughout the history of the Church. This article will briefly examine some of the most influential of these heresies, will list scriptures that refute the heresy, and will list some of the modern groups that continue to promote the heresies.

Judaizers — 1st Century Judaizers, or the Judaizing movements, is not a condemnation of Judaism or ethnic Jews. Instead, it has historically been the label for those who attempt to make observing the Mosaic Law a requirement for Christianity and salvation. The book of Acts refers to such people as “they of the circumcision” (Acts 10:45; 11:2), and the council at Jerusalem decisively ruled against them (Acts 15:23–29).

Despite this biblical ruling, Judaizing movements continue to grow in our time. These movements require such things as strict observance of the Sabbath on Saturday, mandatory tithing, observance of the Jewish feasts, and other regulations in order for a Christian to earn salvation.

Scriptural Refutation: Romans 3:24–28.

Modern Groups: Seventh-Day Adventists; followers of Herbert W. Armstrong.

Gnosticism — 1st and 2nd Centuries The Gnostics promoted three basic teachings: 1) matter is evil, and thus Jesus only appeared to be a man; 2) because the Bible teaches that God created matter, the God of the Old Testament Jews is an evil deity who is distinct from the New Testament God, Jesus Christ; and 3) ultimate Truth is a mystery that is available only to those who are initiated into the secret teachings and practices of the Gnostic groups.

Gnosticism has become popular in the latter half of the 20th century with the 1945 Egyptian discovery of the Nag Hammadi library, a collection of Gnostic writings. One of the most influential books in modern Gnosticism has been Elaine Pagel’s The Gnostic Gospels, an analysis of the Nag Hammadi documents. Modern Gnosticism is commonly found in syncretistic groups, which teach that Truth can be found by combining the beliefs and practices of numerous religions.

Scriptural Refutation: Genesis 1:4, 10, 18, 21, 25, 27; John 10:30; 2 Timothy 3:16–17; 1 John 1:1.

Modern Groups: Primarily found in the New Age Movement.

Docetism — 1st – 4th Centuries The name is taken from the Greek word dokein = to seem. The docetics believed that the seeming humanity of Christ, particularly his suffering, were imaginary. They taught that the divine God cannot suffer, and thus, since Christ is divine, his suffering was an illusion to teach humans a valuable lesson about the illusion of matter. Docetism was an integral part of Gnosticism. The heresy was a major impetus for the Chalcedonian Definition of 451, which describes that Christ is one person with two natures: human and divine.

The heresy continues among modern groups that deny the reality of suffering.

Scriptural Refutation: John 1:1–3, 14; Philippians 2:6–8.

Modern Groups: Christian Science, Mind Sciences, the New Age Movement.

Origenism — 3rd Century The career of Origen is one of the more unusual in Christian history. He dedicated himself to defending attacks on Christianity from paganism, Judaism, and Christian heresies. His apologetic book, Against Celsus, remains a classic piece of Christian literature.

Despite his defense of orthodoxy, Origen developed several heretical doctrines that were eventually condemned in 553. His most notable deviant teachings involve the preexistence of human souls, the subordination of the Son to the Father, and universalism. Few groups currently adopt all of Origen’s teachings. Nonetheless, groups influenced by Joseph Smith believe in both the preexistence of souls and the essential subordination of the Son to the Father, and many other groups believe in both the preexistence of souls (usually in the form of reincarnation) and universalism.

Scriptural Refutation: Hebrews 9:27; John 10:30; Matthew 7:13–23; 8:11–12.

Modern Groups: Mormons, Liberal Christianity.

Dynamic Monarchianism / Sabellianism — 3rd Century Although the heresy was first taught in 190 by Theodotus of Byzantium, monarchianism was most notably promoted by Sabellius in the third century. Monarchianism denies the Trinity by teaching that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not separate persons. Instead, the monotheistic God (called a monad) progressively revealed Himself as the creator and lawgiver through the “office” of Father, as the redeemer through the office of Son, and as the source of grace through the office of Spirit.

Scriptural Refutation: John 3:16; 17:22–23; 1 John 5:7–14.

Modern Groups: Oneness Pentecostals.

Arianism — 4th Century Perhaps the most significant heresy faced by the Church, Arianism (named after Arius) taught that, as the Son of God, Christ was created by God the Father. Arius thus denied the Trinity by teaching that Jesus is less than fully divine. This heresy became extremely widespread, even being promoted by many bishops. It was condemned at the First Council of Nicaea in 325 (which proclaimed that Christ is fully divine), and at the First Council of Constantinople in 381 (which proclaimed that the Holy Spirit is divine). Arianism remains one of the most common heresies to afflict the Church. Almost all pseudo–Christian groups deny the full deity of Christ.

Scriptural Refutation: John 10:30; 1 John 5:7.

Modern Groups: Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, the Unification Church.

Pelagianism — 5th Century Pelagius, a Welsh monk, taught that humanity does not inherit original sin, and that salvation is earned by following the example of Christ. Grace is not necessary; instead, humans overcome the sin they gradually develop by using God’s grace to assist them in perfecting themselves and thus earning salvation.

This heresy, along with Arianism, is endemic to almost all modern pseudo–Christian groups.

Scriptural Refutation: Romans 3:24–26; 5:11–21.

Modern Groups: Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, followers of Herbert W. Armstrong.

Nestorianism and Mono-physitism — 5th Century Nestorius, bishop of Constantinople, taught that Mary bore only Jesus’ human nature in her womb, thus implicitly teaching that Christ was not divine while on earth. In an overreaction to Nestorius, the Monophysites taught that Christ was one person with his humanity and divinity fused into a single nature (the Greek roots of the word monophysite are mono = one, and physis = nature), thus implicitly teaching that Christ was neither fully human nor fully divine.

Nestorianism is implicit in those groups who deny the reality of matter. One of the most common forms of the monophysite heresy can be found in the New Age Movement, where many believe that Jesus was a man who developed his “Christ consciousness” and thus fully achieved his divinity.

Scriptural Refutation: Colossians 2:9; Philippians 2:6–8.

Modern Groups: the New Age Movement, Christian Science.

Conclusion

Heresy is not new to the Church. The book of Colossians is Paul’s response to the syncretistic heresies present in the 1st century church in Colossae. Colossians 1:15–20, known as the “Christ Hymn,” is one of the best responses to the heresies that attack the deity and work of Christ.

Christians are commanded by God to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3). One of the most effective ways to contend for the faith is to know the various ways in which the faith is attacked, and to know the biblical response to these attacks.

http://www.watchman.org/reltop/heresiesthenandnow.htm

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There are several steps to becoming Born Again, listed below:

1. Understand that ALL men ever born are sinners. Romans 3:23, says, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” This message that all men are sinners is amply repeated through Scripture . This means you are a sinner in the eyes of an angry God, Who must punish all sin. Do you believe you are a sinner?

2. Since man is an imperfect sinner, and God is a perfect God, no man can save himself. Jesus made this fact very plain in Matthew 5:48, when He said, “Be ye, therefore, perfect, even as your Heavenly Father is perfect.”!!!
If we all have to be perfect in God’s eyes, how can there be anyone in Heaven, especially since the Bible declares, repeatedly, that ALL people are sinners? Obviously, no one is going to get to Heaven this way, by trying to be ‘good enough’ to merit Heaven. Since the Bible says there are going to be untold millions of people in Heaven, there must be some other way to get there, other than by trying to be ‘good enough’.

You must also be very sorry for your sins, and want to have them forgiven. This is known as Repentance. The word Repent means to both be very sorry for your sins, and to want to not sin anymore. Repentance means the desire to turn your life around 180 degrees. This does not mean you will never sin again, but it does mean that sin will become the exception in your life, not the rule.

3. When the sinless Son of God, Jesus Christ, shed His precious blood on the cross at Calvary, He died for the sins of His people in their place as a sacrificial substitute. And in doing so, He suffered the wrath of God the Father upon their sin. He paid the penalty for that sin in His own body and purchased their eternal redemption. This enables Him to give as a free gift His own holiness and righteousness to those who believe in Him and trust Him for salvation. making them absolutely perfect in God. s sight! Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” None of us deserve to be saved; in His love and mercy God extends grace to those who will believe. Grace is defined as “undeserved favor” and perhaps this little acrostic will help you to remember its meaning: G od. s Riches At Christ. s Expense. [The true meaning of GRACE]

4. In Ephesians 2:8-9, the Apostle Paul reiterates this teaching that eternal life with God is a free gift. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God; Not of works, lest any man should boast.” No man can stand before God in eternity, and boast that they ‘earned’ their way to Heaven. All people in Heaven will be there only because of Jesus’ FREE Gift, which He obtained from God because of His substitutionary death sacrifice on the Cross. Rather than punishing each person’s individual sins, God heaped all those sins on Jesus on the Cross Isaiah 53:2-12]

Now, you are probably thinking, ‘How can I obtain this free gift of eternal life’? Again, the Bible is not silent. In Acts 16:25-33, the jailer anxiously asked Paul, “What must I do to be saved”? Paul answered “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved …” verse 31″. You must BELIEVE on Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. To truly believe, you must place your complete faith and trust in Christ and rely upon Him as your only hope of salvation and eternal life. This is a matter of the heart and you cannot hope to deceive God by putting on an act because He knows everything about you. Many people mistakenly think that by merely believing the facts concerning Jesus Christ. s death, burial, and resurrection, they will be automatically be given the gift of eternal life. But such is not the case. Preachers call that a “head knowledge and not a heart knowledge.” Salvation is freely given, but only to those who are genuine believers.

5. In John 1:1, 14, we see that Jesus Christ is God, equal with God, present with God from before the beginning of time, and the actual Creator of the Universe. He is 100% God and 100% human at the same time, which is why He used both titles during His ministry, Son of God and Son of Man. To become Born Again, you must believe this doctrine about Jesus Christ.

Verse 14 is most important, the teaching that Jesus God became man. This teaching becomes a point of separation between the followers of Christ and Antichrist. In 1 John 4:1-3, we see that anyone who denies that Jesus has come in the flesh is the spirit of antichrist. That is just what the Gnostics of that day were saying, i.e., that Jesus the human was not God Messiah come in the flesh; rather, the ‘Christ Consciousness’ the ‘Messiah’ Consciousness, came on Jesus at His baptism and left Him on the Cross; they believe Jesus was not God and Man. The New Age Movement and Freemasonry have resurrected this blasphemy with a vengeance.

6. Isaiah 53:6 foretells exactly what Jesus Christ did for us on the Cross; “the Lord [God the Father] has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Praise God!! Only the Wisdom, Grace, and Power of God Almighty could conceive of such a gracious Plan of Salvation!! God’s Nature is such that sin must be punished. Period! But, God set up a Plan whereby an innocent substitute was to be punished instead of the guilty person. In the Old Testament, God allowed the lamb to be the substitute sacrifice for sin; Jesus then became the ultimate substitute sacrifice, for all the sins of the world. His was the Perfect sacrifice, that never needs to be repeated, and that saves all people forever more.

You must believe in, and understand, this principle of Substitute Punishment, before you can become Born Again. And, you must believe that Jesus Christ became the Perfect Substitute Punishment for YOU, before you can become Born Again.

Now that you understand these Truths, and believe them for your life, you now need to understand how you can obtain this FREE Gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ. After all, if I were to attempt to give you a FREE gift, that gift would not become yours if you were to refuse to reach out and take that gift from my hand. So it is here. You must reach out and take this FREE Gift of Eternal Life from the hand of Jesus Christ. How is this done?

Through Saving Faith .

Notice I said Saving Faith . There are types of faith that will not get you saved. You may have ‘head knowledge’ faith that merely intellectually assents to the facts of Jesus Christ’s person, but that is not Saving Faith. You may be in a ‘church’ or a cult that teaches many truths about Jesus Christ, but who teach that you must do many things to earn your way to Heaven. This is not Saving Faith.

Saving Faith is trusting in Jesus Christ, and Him alone, for your Salvation.

If you think you need to do anything for Salvation except trust in Jesus work on the cross, you are guilty of violating Ephesians 2:8-9 and Isaiah 53:6b. Most cults and false Christian religions err at this point; they add things that are “necessary” for Salvation, or they offer a counterfeit way to Heaven, i.e., Salvation by Baptism.

Do you want this Gift of Eternal Life that Jesus left Heaven and died on a cross to give you? If your answer is, ‘Yes’, you can immediately have Eternal Life.

Let me clarify exactly what this involves. First, you are going to transfer your trust, your hope of eternal life from what you have been doing to what Jesus Christ has done for you on the cross. Jesus will take your sin and transfer TO YOU His right standing with God the Father, what we call His righteousness . This means that though we have failed repeatedly to keep God’s commandments, Christ perfectly obeyed all the laws of God. He lived the perfect life, so He could be the perfect, innocent substitutionary sacrifice that God would accept for your sins, and the sin of the entire world, for all who will believe.

http://www.cuttingedge.org/news/salvation.html !!!!!!!!

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