The Real Meaning of Christmas | Stephen Nichols

from Ligonier.org

The birth of Jesus so many centuries ago might have been a slightly-out-of-the-ordinary birth. Even in ancient times, stalls didn’t typically double as birthing rooms and mangers didn’t typically double as cribs for new-born babies. And that newborn baby was very much out of the ordinary. Of course, in some respects, He was perfectly ordinary. He was a human being, a baby. He got hungry. He got thirsty. He got tired. When He was born, He was wrapped in swaddling clothes—the ancient equivalent of Pampers.

An infant. Helpless, hungry, cold, and tired.

Yet, this child was the Son of God incarnate. He was Immanuel, which translated means “God with us.” According to the Apostle Paul’s account, this infant created all things. This infant created His own manger. And this infant, this King, brings peace on earth, ultimate and permanent peace.

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John MacArthur: Christianity that’s inoffensive is not Christianity

from Christian Post.com

John MacArthur recently said that while his views on hot-button issues like homosexuality are controversial, his goal as a pastor is to “offend everyone” because any brand of Christianity that is “inoffensive” isn’t Christianity at all.

During an interview, author and conservative personality Ben Shapiro asked MacArthur how he addresses certain “difficult Scriptures,” pointing in particular to passages addressing homosexuality.

MacArthur, who is leader of Grace Community Church of Sun Valley, California, and president of The Master’s College and Seminary, said that while there’s “no getting around” the fact that the Bible clearly identifies homosexuality as a sin, it’s important to understand it’s “not some kind of sin that leads the parade and is separated by light years from all other sins.”

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The Very Heart of the Reformation | R.C. Sproul

from Ligonier Ministries

At the very heart of the controversy in the sixteenth century was the question of the ground by which God declares anyone righteous in His sight. The psalmist asked, “If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?” (Ps. 130:3). In other words, if we have to stand before God and face His perfect justice and perfect judgment of our performance, none of us would be able to pass review. We all would fall, because as Paul reiterates, all of us have fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). So, the pressing question of justification is how can an unjust person ever be justified in the presence of a righteous and holy God?

The Roman Catholic view is known as analytical justification. This means that God will declare a person just only when, under His perfect analysis, He finds that he is just, that righteousness is inherent in him. The person cannot have that righteousness without faith, without grace, and without the assistance of Christ. Nevertheless, in the final analysis, true righteousness must be present in the soul of a person before God will ever declare him just.

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What Is Reformation Day? | Stephen Nichols

from Ligonier Ministries

A single event on a single day changed the world. It was October 31, 1517. Brother Martin, a monk and a scholar, had struggled for years with his church, the church in Rome. He had been greatly disturbed by an unprecedented indulgence sale. The story has all the makings of a Hollywood blockbuster. Let’s meet the cast.

First, there is the young bishop—too young by church laws—Albert of Mainz. Not only was he bishop over two bishoprics, he desired an additional archbishopric over Mainz. This too was against church laws. So Albert appealed to the Pope in Rome, Leo X. From the De Medici family, Leo X greedily allowed his tastes to exceed his financial resources. Enter the artists and sculptors, Raphael and Michelangelo.

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What is the end times timeline? | GotQuestions.org

from GotQuestions.org

Question: “What is the end times timeline?”

Answer: Got Questions Ministries takes a pretribulational approach to eschatology. From that perspective, here is the order of end-times events that the Bible reveals:

1. The rapture of the church. Christ comes in the clouds to “snatch away” all those who trust in Him (1 Corinthians 15:52). At this same time, the “dead in Christ” will be resurrected and taken to heaven, too. From our perspective today, this is the next event in the eschatological timeline. The rapture is imminent; no other biblical prophecy needs to be fulfilled before the rapture happens.

2. The rise of the Antichrist. After the church is taken out of the way (2 Thessalonians 2:7–8), a satanically empowered man will gain worldwide control with promises of peace (Revelation 13:1; Daniel 9:27). He will be aided by another man, called the false prophet, who heads up a religious system that requires worship of the Antichrist (Revelation 19:20).

3. The tribulation. A period of seven years in which God’s judgment is poured out on sinful humanity (Revelation 6–16). The Antichrist’s rise to power is associated with this time period. During the tribulation on earth, the Church will be in heaven. It is thought that at this time the Judgment Seat of Christ and the Marriage Supper of the Lamb will occur in heaven (2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 19:6–10).

4. The Battle of Gog and Magog. In the first part of the tribulation, a great army from the north, in alliance with several other countries from the Middle East and Africa, attacks Israel and is defeated by God’s supernatural intervention (Ezekiel 38–39). (Some commentators place this battle just before the start of the tribulation.)

5. The abomination of desolation. At the midway point of the seven-year tribulation, the Antichrist breaks his covenant with Israel and shows his true colors. The Jews are scattered, and many of them turn to the Lord, realizing that Jesus is their Savior. A great persecution breaks out against all those who believe in Christ (Daniel 12:11; Mark 13:14; Revelation 12:17).

6. The Battle of Armageddon. At the end of the tribulation, Jesus returns with the armies of heaven (Mark 14:62). He saves Jerusalem from annihilation and defeats the armies of the nations fighting under the banner of the Antichrist (Revelation 19:11–21). The Antichrist and the false prophet are captured and thrown alive into the lake of fire (Revelation 19:20).

7. The judgment of the nations. Christ will judge the survivors of the tribulation, separating the righteous from the wicked as “sheep” and “goats” (Matthew 25:31–46). (It is thought that at this time the Old Testament saints will be raised from the dead.) The righteous will enter the Millennial Kingdom; the wicked will be cast into hell.

8. The binding of Satan. Satan will be bound and held in a bottomless pit for the next 1,000 years (Revelation 20:1–3).

9. The Millennial Kingdom. Jesus Himself will rule the world, and Jerusalem will be the capital. This will be a 1,000-year period of peace and prosperity on earth (Revelation 20; Isaiah 60–62). Memorial sacrifices will be offered in a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem (Ezekiel 40–48).

10. The last battle. At the end of the 1,000 years, Satan will be released from his prison for a short time. He will deceive the nations once again, and there will be a rebellion against the Lord that will be quickly defeated (Revelation 20:7–10). Satan will be cast into the lake of fire, never to reappear.

11. The Great White Throne Judgment. All those in hell will be brought forth, and all the wicked from all eras of history will be resurrected to stand before God in a final judgment (Revelation 20:11–15). The verdicts are read, and all of sinful humanity is cast into the lake of fire.

12. The new creation. God completely remakes the heavens and the earth. It is at this time that God wipes away all tears and there will be no more pain, death, or sorrow. The New Jerusalem descends from heaven, and the children of God will enjoy eternity with Him (Revelation 21–22).