Friday, September 21, 2018

PANTHEISM / Advocates-AWANA teaching notes for Doulos Flock

Summarize the three main worldview categories. 
Naturalism is the worldview that the physical universe alone exists with no supernatural influences. 
Pantheism is the worldview that everything is divine with no creator distinct from creation.
Theism is the worldview that one, personal God created everything.
is the view that many gods and/or goddesses exist.)
BIG IDEA: According to pantheism, god refers to the impersonal, divine essence that permeates the entire universe.
Panentheism: Everything is God.
Panentheism comes from three Greek terms: “pan” meaning “all,” “en” meaning “in,” and “theos” meaning “God.” Therefore, panentheism is literally defined as “all in God.” Panentheists hold that God penetrates everything. While the Christian may initially be inclined to agree, one must understand that panentheists believe that everything is God. Thus, the panentheist would agree that Jesus of Nazareth is God. But, the panentheist would also agree that you are God, he is God, everyone is God, and even your kitchen sink is God. The panentheist does not distinguish between the personal God and the physical creation. Hinduism is the greatest example of panentheism.
Panentheism, however, holds issues as it pertains to the world. If the world is God, then why is there so much evil? God is certainly good. So, if everyone is God, then wouldn’t everything be perfect? To accept such a claim, one must have a flawed idea of God’s nature. With the panentheist, the Christian apologist will need to begin by teaching the distinction between the personal divine being of God and the physical, material creation that is the world.
“Eight Major World Views” by Brian Chilton (

How does Pantheism answer four

What is real?— God is like a cosmic energy that pervades all things.  This is like the force in Star Wars.
Who is man?— pantheists see human beings as essentially good and divine.
After death?— we achieve enlightenment and become absorbed into the oneness of the universe.
Right & wrong (Purpose)?— Morality is an illusion.  Since good and evil don’t exist, ultimately, morality is relative. 

Misconception: Everybody holds something divine within it / has a divine spark within it. 
“There is no truth superior to Me.  Everything rests upon Me, as pearls are strung on a thread.”
Bhagavad-Gita: Song of God
“All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts it is made up of our thoughts.”  Dhammapada
Illumination: With God is a personal being distinct from creation.   
Psalm 119:73; Isaiah 64:8; Ephesians 2:10
Psalm 119:73-74
73 Your hands have made me and fashioned me;
Give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments.
74 Those who fear You will be glad when they see me,
Because I have hoped in Your word.
Isaiah 64:8
But now, O Lord,
You are our Father;
We are the clay, and You our potter;
And all we are the work of Your hand.
Comment from the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of Transcendental Meditation:  
“Christ said, ‘Be still and know that I am God.’  Be still and know that you are God and when you know that you are God you will begin to live Godhood, and living Godhood there is no need to suffer.”[1]
The immediate context of Psalm 46.
10 Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

“Of course, more than misquoting is involved.  Maharishi also ignores the immediate context of the words themselves.  With the Maharishi’s reading the sense of the original is not only lost but reversed.  With the Maharishi’s reading, the sense of the original is not only lost but reversed.  The Maharishi is, of course, writing from a pantheistic frame of reference.  All of reality—including every person—is ultimately divine.  It is quite consistent, therefore, for the Maharishi to advise his readers to be still (meditate) and know that they are God.”

To the Hebrew Psalmist, however, and indeed to every Bible writer, every orthodox Jew and every Christian, such a thought is not only wrong but blasphemous.  “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might” (Deut. 6:4).  This is the first and greatest Commandment (Mk 12:29-30) requires a distinction between Good and man, between Creator and created, between the Origin of all reality and any person (man, woman, or child) made in God’s image.  To set oneself up as God, to pretend even for a moment it might be so, is to comment the most basic of all sins: the primal sin, the original sin committed by Adam and Eve at the beginning of human history (Gen. 3:5-6).[2]  

[1] Meditations of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, p. 178 The only scriptural source for his quotation is Psalm 46:10.
[2] Sire JW. Scripture Twisting, 20 Ways the Cults Misread the Bible. IVP Books; 1980.

Thursday, September 20, 2018


A man’s wisdom gives him patience;
It is to his glory to overlook an offense.   Proverbs 19:11

When someone has offended you, a wonderful question to ask is, “Can I overlook this?”  Many conflicts can be quickly resolved if we are willing to overlook.  It is an act of love to extinguish a fire before it ever starts.

Put your conflict in context.  Is it a big deal in the bigger context of your life?  Will it matter five years, two months, one week from now?  “We take offense so easily over things that won’t matter in the morning.” –Tim Pollard

We are “thin-skinned” with how others treat us (i.e., we take offense easily while we are “thick-skinned” in how we treat them (i.e., we want them to “toughen up”). A sign of maturity is to flip that around.

Caution: Be careful to not mistake an escape from or unhealthy avoidance of conflict for overlooking a fault.  How do we know whether we are in an unhealthy escape mode or genuinely overlooking a fault?

Overlooking offenses is appropriate under three conditions.
1.    The offense should not have created a wall between you and the other person or cause you to feel differently toward him or her for more than a short period of time.
2.    The offense should not be causing serious harm (to God’s reputation, to others, or to the offender)
3.     The offense is not a part of a destructive pattern.

There is a bit from the little book Abraham Lincoln: Wisdom and Wit that fits well here.  “If you call a tail a leg, how many legs has a dog?  Five?  No; calling a tail a leg don’t make it a leg.”

Our capacity to overlook things grows and varies over a lifetime.  Ideally, as we gain experience and wisdom, develop more relational and emotional maturity, and internalize the Gospel, we will have a greater capacity to overlook the faults and offenses of others.  However, we need to be honest with ourselves about where we are currently in our relationships and ability to overlook offenses.
Adapted from Session Two of the excellent and highly recommended DVD series Resolving Everyday Conflict by Tim Pollard

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Writing a Christian Testimony

I. Writing your personal testimony
A.     A personal testimony is a carefully worded verbalization of what God has done in your life. It should be your desire to present Christ in such a clear, attractive, Spirit-filled, and simple, way that those who hear will not only want to know Him, too, but they will know “how to” know Him personally.
B.     One onfe the requirements for membership at Tulsa Bible church is to share your personal testimony regarding your coming to a saving knowledge of Christ.  However, the long-term value of developing your testimony is so you can use it to share Christ with unbelievers, which is part of the responsibility of every disciple.  The Apostle Peter puts it this way in 1 Peter 3:15  but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,
There can be no mistake so bad…as the greatest mistake of saying nothing for Christ.”   -   Henry Clay Turnbull

II. Testimony OUTLINE:
Paul’s testimony in Acts 26 is a biblical model or outline to follow when writing your own personal testimony.  Paul’s format in Acts 26 is:
LEAD-IN:          Acts 26:2-3
BEFORE:          Acts 26:4-11
HOW:              Acts 26:12-20
AFTER:             Acts 26:21-23
CLOSE:             Acts 26:24-29
Paul had a theme of opposing Christ and persecuting Christians before his salvation and sharing the Gospel with the Gentiles after his salvation.  If you can identify a similar theme, like Strife to love, guilt to freedom from guilt, rebellion to obedience, emptiness to purpose, etc. it can be helpful.
The LEAD-IN and CLOSE will vary with each person and situation.  The BEFORE, HOW and AFTER will be similar in each situation.
A.     Life BEFORE Knowing Christ:
Identify one key problem and illustrate how this problem affected your life. Write in such a way that others will identify with you in past and present experiences, giving enough detail to identify with others.  Emphasize point C below if you became a Christian as a small child.
B.     HOW I Came to Know Christ Personally:
Be Specific!  This part requires the most detail.  Christ’s death for your sins and His resurrection must be interwoven into your story.  Include a few verses of scripture to illustrate how this happened.
C.     My Life AFTER Receiving Christ as My Lord and Savior:
Mention changes in your life for good.  Illustrate how Christ dealt with problems in your life but don’t imply that Christ eliminates them all.  Rather explain how Jesus enables you to work them out in His peace and confidence.  Be sure to include the assurance of salvation you have in your life.

III. Testimony Do’s and Don’ts
“The Do’s”
·       Ask God for wisdom as you write. 
·       Keep Christ central.  Highlight what He has done.
·       Make it sound conversational.

·       Don’t mention denominations, organization and comments about people in a negative or derogatory manner.
·       Don’t use terms that are meaningless to non Christians. Jettison the jargon.
·       Don’t be too wordy, beat around the bush, or dramatically emphasize how bad you used to be.  Keep it concise and simple.

IV. Testimony for Membership or Baptism

  1. Write the first draft of your 3 to 5 minute personal testimony.  Let your membership or baptism partner look at it and work with you individually.  One page of typed, single-spaced text will usually produce a 4-minute testimony.
  2. For purposes of sharing your testimony before the membership class please read it rather than trying to memorize it.  Of course, when sharing your testimony with an individual, it is better to have it memorized so you share naturally, emphasizing or deemphasizing certain points as the situation requires

A similar, but helpful, longer article.

Should Mark 16:9-20 be in the Bible?

Bible Knowledge Commentary

  X.      Disputed Epilogue (16:9–20)

The last 12 verses of Mark (16:9–20) known as “the longer ending of Mark” constitute one of the most difficult and most disputed textual problems in the New Testament. Were these verses included or omitted in Mark’s original text? Most modern English translations call attention to the problem in some way such as adding an explanatory footnote at verse 9 (NASB), setting this section apart from verse 8 with an explanatory note (NIV), or printing the whole section in the margin (RSV).
The external evidence includes the following:
(1) The two earliest (fourth century) uncial manuscripts (Sinaiticus and Vaticanus) omit the verses though their respective scribes left some blank space after verse 8, suggesting that they knew of a longer ending but did not have it in the manuscript they were copying.
(2) Most all other manuscripts (fifth century on) as well as early versions support the inclusion of verses 9–20.
(3) Several later manuscripts (seventh century on) and versions supply a “shorter ending” after verse 8 which is clearly not genuine but all these manuscripts (except one) continue on with verses 9–20.
(4) Early patristic writers—such as Justin Martyr (Apology 1. 45, ca. A.D. 148), Tatian (Diatessaron, ca. A.D. 170), and Irenaeus who quoted verse 19 (Against Heresies 3. 10. 5)—support the inclusion of these verses. However, Eusebius (Questions to Marinus 1, ca. A.D. 325) and Jerome (Epistle 120. 3; ad Hedibiam, ca. A.D. 407) said verses 9–20 were missing from Greek manuscripts known to them.
(5) An Armenian manuscript of the 10th century attributed verses 9–20 to “the presbyter Ariston,” probably Aristion, a contemporary of Papias (A.D. 60–130) who was purportedly a disciple of the Apostle John.
(6) If Mark ended abruptly at verse 8, then it is easy to see why some early copyist(s) wanted to provide a “suitable” ending for the Gospel from other authoritative sources. However, if verses 9–20 were part of the original, it is difficult to see why the early copyists would have omitted it.

Internal evidence includes this data:
(1) The transition from verse 8 to verse 9 involves an abrupt change of subject from “women” to the presumed subject “Jesus” since His name is not stated in verse 9 of the Greek text.
(2) Mary Magdalene is introduced with a descriptive clause in verse 9 as though she had not been mentioned already in 15:40, 47 and 16:1.
(3) About 1/3 of the significant Greek words in verses 9–20 are “non-Marcan,” that is, they do not appear elsewhere in Mark or they are used differently from Mark’s usage prior to verse 9.
(4) The Greek literary style lacks the vivid, lifelike detail so characteristic of Mark’s historical narrative.
(5) Mark would have been expected to include a Resurrection appearance to the disciples in Galilee (14:28; 16:7), but the appearances in verses 9–20 are in or near Jerusalem.
(6) Matthew and Luke parallel Mark until verse 8 and then diverge noticeably, suggesting that Mark began its literary existence without verses 9–20.

Equally astute and conscientious interpreters differ widely in their evaluations of this data and reach opposing conclusions. Those who include these verses in light of the preponderance of early and widespread external support must still account satisfactorily for the internal evidence which appears to distinguish these verses from the rest of the Gospel. And those who omit these verses must still account for their early and widespread attestation externally and give a suitable reason for Mark’s seemingly abrupt conclusion at verse 8.

Four possible solutions for this have been suggested:
(1) Mark finished his Gospel but the original ending was lost or destroyed in some way now unknown before it was copied.
(2) Mark finished his Gospel but the original ending was deliberately suppressed or removed for some reason now unknown.
(3) Mark was unable to finish his Gospel for some reason now unknown—possibly sudden death.
(4) Mark purposely intended to end his Gospel at verse 8.
Of these options, numbers 1 and 2 are unlikely even though the view that the original ending was accidentally lost is widely accepted. If Mark’s Gospel was a scroll manuscript rather than a codex (leaf form of book) the ending would normally be on the inside of the scroll and less likely to be damaged or lost than the beginning of the scroll. If the incompleteness of Mark is assumed, number 3 is the most probable option but due to its very nature it cannot be confirmed. In light of Mark’s use of the theme “fear” in relation to Jesus’ followers (cf. v. 8), many modern interpreters incline toward option 4.

A final conclusion to the problem probably cannot be reached on the basis of presently known data.

A view which seems to account for the relevant evidence and to raise the least number of objections is that (a) Mark purposely ended his Gospel with verse 8 and (b) verses 9–20, though written or compiled by an anonymous Christian writer, are historically authentic and are part of the New Testament canon (cf. similarly the last chapter of Deut.). In this view, very early in the transmission of Mark’s Gospel (perhaps shortly after A.D. 100) verses 9–20 were added to verse 8 without any attempt to match Mark’s vocabulary and style. Possibly these verses were brief extracts from the post-Resurrection accounts found in the other three Gospels and were known through oral tradition to have the approval of the Apostle John who lived till near the end of the first century. Thus the material was included early enough in the transmission process to gain recognition and acceptance by the church as part of canonical Scripture. These verses are consistent with the rest of Scripture. The development of the theme of belief and unbelief unifies the passage.

John D. Grassmick, “Mark,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 193–194.

Another article on the subject that favors including the longer ending.

Another article that favors the shorter reading with a section on doctrinal issues to be considered.  The article is more advocacy than evaluation but worth considering.

Argues for the shorter ending.

A Commitment to Biblical Conflict Resolution

As people reconciled to God by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we believe that we are called to respond to conflict in a way that is remarkably different from the way the world deals with conflict. [1]  We also believe that conflict provides opportunities to glorify God, serve other people, and grow to be like Christ.2[2]  Therefore, in response to God's love and in reliance on his grace, we commit ourselves to respond to conflict according to the following principles:
Glorify God
Instead of focusing on our own desires or dwelling on what others may do, we will rejoice in the Lord and bring him praise by depending on his forgiveness, wisdom, power, and love, as we seek to faithfully obey his commands and maintain a loving, merciful, and forgiving attitude.3[3]
Get the Log out of Your Eye
Instead of blaming others for a conflict or resisting correction, we will trust in God's mercy and take responsibility for our own contribution to conflicts—confessing our sins to those we have wronged, asking God to help us change any attitudes and habits that lead to conflict, and seeking to repair any harm we have caused.4[4]
Go and Show Your Brother His Fault
Instead of pretending that conflict doesn't exist or talking about others behind their backs, we will overlook minor offenses or we will talk personally and graciously with those whose offenses seem too serious to overlook, seeking to restore them rather than condemn them. When a conflict with a Christian brother or sister cannot be resolved in private, we will ask others in the body of Christ to help us settle the matter in a biblical manner.[5]
Go and be reconciled
Instead of accepting premature compromise or allowing relationships to wither, we will actively pursue genuine peace and reconciliation—forgiving others as God, for Christ's sake, has forgiven us, and seeking just and mutually beneficial solutions to our differences.[6]
By God's grace, we will apply these principles as a matter of stewardship, realizing that conflict is an assignment, not an accident. We will remember that success in God's eyes is not a matter of specific results, but of faithful, dependent obedience. And we will pray that our service as peacemakers will bring praise to our Lord and lead others to know His infinite love.[7]
Adapted from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict. © 1997, 2003 by Ken Sande. All Rights Reserved.
For more resources to help deal with conflict resolution go to Berean Bible Church - New Orleans,

[1] Matt. 5:9; Luke 6:27-36; Gal. 5:19-26.
[2] Rom. 8:28-29; 1 Cor. 10:31-11:1; James 1:2-4.
[3] Ps. 37:1-6; Mark 11:25; John 14:15; Rom. 12:17-21; 1 Cor. 10:31; Phil. 4:2-9; Col. 3:1-4; James 3:17-18; 4:1-3; 1 Peter 2:12.
[4] Prov. 28:13; Matt. 7:3-5; Luke 19:8; Col. 3:5-14; 1 John 1:8-9.
[5] Prov. 19:11; Matt. 18:15-20; 1 Cor. 6:1-8; Gal. 6:1-2; Eph. 4:29; 2 Tim. 2:24-26; James 5:9.
[6] Matt. 5:23-24; 6:12; 7:12; Eph. 4:1-3, 32; Phil. 2:3-4.
[7] Matt. 25:14-21; John 13:34-35; Rom. 12:18; 1 Peter 2:19; 4:19.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Forgiveness quote by HB Charles Jr

You like the servant are a guilty sinner. You have an incalculable debt of sin that you could never repay if you had a thousand chances to do it. You go before the king. You deserve judgment, punishment, condemnation. You ask for mercy because that is all you can ask for, and you receive mercy and grace. By the blood of Jesus Christ God gives you the best He has to pay the penalty of your sin at the cross and by faith instead of being a guilty sinner on your way to Hell, you are a born again child of God on your way to Heaven.

Do you mean to tell me you believe all of that and you got a list of people that you ain't talkin' to? What? How does that work? How every day are you going to thank God for mercy and grace and be mad at people at the same time!?              

Monday, September 17, 2018

Sean McDowell on PANTHEISM / AWANAYM Advocates

Star Wars is one of the most successful film series in history.  As a kid, I remember the epic battles between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader.  In fact today I enjoy bringing my own kids to the most recent Star Wars films.  The cinematography, the special effects, and storyline have captured generations.  Star Wars also introduced the West to the worldview known as pantheism. 
As we have seen naturalism is the worldview that says only physical things exist and there are no supernatural forces.  By contrast, pantheism is the worldview that says all is divine and there is no distinction between creator and creation.  Like naturalism, pantheism offers answers to our four big worldview questions. 
The first questions is, “What is real?”  In pantheism all is divine.  God is not a personal being who we know but is inseparable from the universe.  God is more like a cosmic energy that pervades all things.  This is like the force in Star Wars.  In essence, all is one. 
Our second questions is, “What is man?”  If god is one with the universe and all is divine then by necessity man is divine.  Man is god.  Pantheists will sometime refer to human beings as gods or goddesses in embryo.  So rather than see human beings as uniquely created in the image of God, but broken by sin, pantheists see human beings as essentially good and divine.
Our third worldview question is, “What happens at death?”  The goal in pantheism is to achieve enlightenment and to escape the cycle of reincarnation and this is accomplished through practices such as channeling, meditation, and yoga.  And then like a drop falling into a river, we achieve enlightenment and become absorbed into the oneness of the universe.
The fourth worldview question is “What is the basis for right and wrong?  Since on pantheism all is one, distinctions are ultimately artificial.  There is no distinction between creator and creation, between god and man, between right and wrong.  Morality is an illusion.  Since good and evil don’t exist, ultimately, morality is relative. 

Like naturalism, pantheism is nothing new. Some of the ideas we see in the Star Wars films have their roots in ancient eastern religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism.  In fact, Paul likely addressed some pantheists in his speech at Mars Hill as recorded in Acts chapter seventeen.  Pantheism is not new, but it is direct conflict and contrast with the Christian worldview.  The biggest question is can it adequately capture reality as we know it and experience it.