Friday, November 30, 2007

Death of Discernment Pt. 3
Rick Warren’s Inquisition

From Christian Research Network:

"Excerpts from Joseph Farah’s excellent article at WorldNet Daily:

While mega-pastor Rick Warren has joined a group of 100 church leaders calling for interfaith dialogue and the building of "common ground" with Muslims, he has a slightly different outlook toward Christians with whom he disagrees.

In his latest missive to fellow pastors, he writes: "You’ve got to protect the unity of your church. If that means getting rid of troublemakers, do it."

"As pastors, as shepherds of God’s people, it’s our job to protect our congregations from Satan’s greatest weapon – disunity," he writes. "It’s not always easy, but it’s what we’ve been called to do…"

…Has it ever occurred to Rick Warren that pastors have been wrong? Has it ever occurred to Rick Warren that pastors might teach unbiblical principles? Has it ever occurred to Rick Warren no earthly pastor is the recipient of all Divine revelation? Has it ever occurred to Rick Warren that pastors have led entire flocks into grave error that may have eternal consequences?

Has it ever occurred to Rick Warren that he, too, might be capable of such mistakes?

Rick Warren makes a spiritually fatal error when he proclaims, without any biblical authority, that Satan’s greatest weapon is disunity. That is simply not true. The Bible reveals over and over again that even one spirit-filled believer can stand up against Satan. God is not impressed with numbers. He doesn’t need numbers for victory. He doesn’t care about big churches. He doesn’t care about the cathedrals of men. He wants numbers only because He is "not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9).No, Satan’s greatest weapon is hardly disunity. His greatest weapon since his fall and since the Garden of Eden has been deception. In fact, Satan loves unity – as long as those unified are knowingly or unknowingly serving him. He’d love for all of us to "go to hell in a handbasket."Read the rest of Joseph Farah’s commentary here…

See related articles Satan’s Greatest Weapon: Disunity? , SBC President Not Interested In the Victims of Purpose Driven, Unity In The Teaching of Apostolic Truth Yields Godly Love , Rick Warren, Evangelicals, Invite Muslims to Love God Together** , Begging forgiveness of Islam?"

Bullwhip Guy
A Parody

What follows is a parody of Rob Bell's "Bullhorn Guy" video. Presented for your consideration: Is Rob Bell's "Jesus" the Jesus of the Bible?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

How Rick Warren Evangelizes the Jewish

Paul told us that the purpose of the Body of Christ is to stir the Jews to jealousy. We are to share with them the Gospel and therefore the message that Messiah has come.

Here we have a series of videos from Synagogue 3000 which was held in 2005. I downloaded these directly from their website, which has since removed them (no conspiracy, they were simply old news).

Remember, these are not Christians. These are Jewish leaders Warren is talking to. They have no interest in Christ. Yet Rick Warren is more than happy to help them grow their synagogues and help them become "Purpose Driven".

Remember, I didn't say this...this is straight from the horse's mouth!


This would be a good place for a comment on missing his "purpose" as a Christian...but I'll resist the any case, what message is he sharing? "Grow your doesn't matter what you believe." Purpose Driven J.W. Kingdom Halls, anyone?

"...And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about. 13For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve." 2 Cor. 11:12-14

Rick Warren's Gospel of Works

"In this episode Chris Rosebrough interviews Pastor Brian Wolfmueller on Rick Warren's false teaching regarding sanctification and how it imposes strings and conditions on Christian salvation. This is a hard hitting episode that exposes Rick Warren's purpose driven religion of works and how its become a 'different and false gospel."

Listen closely here.

The Absoluteness of Jesus Christ
Oswald Chambers

"He shall glorify Me." John 16:14

The pietistic movements of to-day have none of the rugged reality of the New Testament about them; there is nothing about them that needs the Death of Jesus Christ; all that is required is a pious atmosphere, and prayer and devotion. This type of experience is not supernatural nor miraculous, it did not cost the passion of God, it is not dyed in the blood of the Lamb, not stamped with the hall-mark of the Holy Ghost; it has not that mark on it which makes men say, as they look with awe and wonder - "That is the work of God Almighty." That and nothing else is what the New Testament talks about.

The type of Christian experience in the New Testament is that of personal passionate devotion to the Person of Jesus Christ. Every other type of Christian experience, so called, is detached from the Person of Jesus. There is no regeneration, no being born again into the Kingdom in which Christ lives, but only the idea that He is our Pattern. In the New Testament Jesus Christ is Saviour long before He is Pattern. To-day He is being despatched as the Figurehead of a Religion, a mere Example. He is that, but He is infinitely more; He is salvation itself, He is the Gospel of God.

Jesus said, "When He the Spirit of truth is come . . . He shall glorify Me." When I commit myself to the revelation made in the New Testament, I receive from God the gift of the Holy Spirit Who begins to interpret to me what Jesus did and does in me subjectively all that Jesus Christ did for me objectively.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Death of Discernment
Pt. 2

Having your own blog can be very fulfilling. A while back, I was feeling guilty because I haven't done my traditional journaling for a while. But then I thought "Hey, in a way I'm doing that on my blog!" Certainly, posts like I did a few days ago on "Righteous Sinners" qualifies. It marks a point in my life where I can point and say "Hey, God is changing me. I'm recording what I am seeing." and although there are certainly some things I wouldn't put in my blog, there is much truth to that.

Blogging also helps you to become friends with others who share your burdens, beliefs and trials. And I'm thankful for the support I've received during the rough times, such as when my father passed away a year ago this month. I'm very thankful.

Blogging also has its downside. I don't mean the regular people who disagree. I mean those who, regardless of what you try to say or do, just never seem to "get it". Generally, this happens when you are critiquing someone's theology. But you learn about how people think. Lately I've been reminded of how much confusion there is about the issue of discernment and how the simple act of evaluating a person or movement is viewed as touching the third rail in a subway. The arguments never change, they are a constant. And you see just how open to any error they and others of their persuasion are.

I can't remember who said it, I've heard it so much. The statistic that says the most quoted verse used to be John 3:16. It has been replaced and I'd imagine that many of my regular readers will know what it is. It's the passage in Matthew 7, which is "Do not judge..."

With that statement, all discernment is disqualified because, of course, that means you are being judgmental. Of course, it never dawns on these people that if they apply it to another person, they are making a judgment. It's circular. What they are doing is applying the rule of discernment "in reverse" to invalidate discernment. Kind of like the new tolerance which says "You must be tolerant" all the while not tolerating another (generally Christian) point of view. Logic completely goes out the window. The reasoning is hopeless.

Furthermore, you find firsthand just how confused people are about being able to analyze and critique someone's theology or practice. Any judgement is viewed as a personal assault. Again, there is a secular comparison to be made. For example, if you make an open statement about homosexuality and give the Biblical teaching on this, people will say you are guilty of "hating". In other words, if you say something negative about homosexuality, "you are attacking the person" or something similar.

How much like the world the church is. The world buys whatever view comes down the pike and so do those who name the Name of Christ. The world says "Tolerate and don't judge" and that is what the church is doing.

Let me share with you a couple emails. Let's call these people "Jill" and "Edward". These are actual emails but I've modified them. Here's the first one:

Jill emails me and says something like:

"You called (so and so) an "apostate" (that was the first one I found while searching your blog). If that isn't judging, I have no idea what is. I would like you to apologize to him for that. You don't allow personal jabs on your blog from others, so you can't do it either"

Edward says something like:

I've read (some thread) and still don't understand why you have double standards while it comes to others apologize for their judgment, but you don't need to. Would you like to tell me your reason of not apologizing?"

So, Jill and Ed have a "problem" because I have brought to light something that reveals something questionable about someone in the Christian public and possibly about their ministry. There are two problems here with thinking such as this. They are:

1. Christians are not to evaluate the validity of a person's views or ministry.
2. If you make an evaluation and put a label on it, that is a personal jab.

Both views are wrong. Worse, these views will lead one to open themselves up to whatever error comes down the pike. There is nothing left to tell truth from error when it comes to what a pastor or teacher proclaims. Thus, Christians turn themselves into (and pressure others to become) blind mice!

Happily, the Bible is our plumb line, not the world and not others who profess Christ. The problem is that the very passage that tells us to use discernment is used to shut down that same discernment. Another problem with this is that the end of the very same passage (which they never seem to be aware of) tells us to discern. We are told "Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces."

Wow. If Matthew 7:1 is a universal command not to evaluate and discern, Jesus has just put us in an impossible situation. We aren't supposed to judge or make any evaluations, but we are also not to "cast our pearls to swine or give holy things to dogs". Oh. Ok. I guess he meant literal pigs and dogs.

Yeah, right.

In context, Jesus is talking about false prophets. Those who teach falsehoods and may even be unsaved. Just read the text. You'll even hear a chilling warning about those who think they are saved and really aren't. There will be those who say "Lord, Lord", thinking they are redeemed when they are false converts.

So, this "don't judge...that's a personal jab" mentality opens the gate to one following a false teacher. It is to play a deadly game of gullibility in the name of "humility" or "spirituality" when that isn't what Jesus is talking about at all.

So, what did Jesus mean? Well, because I don't like to reinvent the wheel, let me give you an excerpt from Bob DeWaay's "Critical Issues Commentary" from May and June of 2006, and an encouragement to read the entire article:

"Given this context, what is the meaning of Matthew 7:1-5? The answer is that we are warned against judging how righteous others are in comparison to ourselves. This passage is a warning against self righteousness. As sinners, we tend to minimize or rationalize our own transgressions and magnify what we see wrong in others. Jesus warns about this because self-righteousness like that of the hypocritical Pharisees will keep a person out of the kingdom of God. It is the poor in spirit and the persecuted who will “inherit the kingdom of God” (Matthew 5:3, 10). These humbled people know they need a savior.

So does Matthew 7:1-5 teach that Christians should accept all teachers and teachings without discrimination? No. This passage concerns peoples’ motivations and the degree of their internal righteousness. These matters we are not to judge. Other passages, which we will examine later, are concerned with judging the content of a person’s teaching. Before we study those
texts, let us examine other passages that are used to suggest that false teachers should not be corrected publicly."

To say "Pastor Hellfighter's gospel is heretical because he doesn't preach the Biblical Gospel" and then giving evidence for that from the Scriptures is not the kind of "Judgment" that Jesus is forbidding. It also isn't a personal jab. The standard that Pastor Hellfighter's theology is compared to is scripture, not "Well, I do it better". That is a tremendous difference!

What Jesus is forbidding reminds me of the "fence gossip" mentality. Let's say Ruth said the following to Nancy: "Well I know Judy is worldly because I saw her going to (such and such) and well, I 'd never do that". In this case she (Ruth) is making an internal evaluation of Judy based on her own standard, which isn't God's standard. Judy may have had very good reason (or not) to go where she went!

Clearly, gossip is condemned in the scriptures. No doubt about it. But stepping back and saying "Ok, how does Pastor Hellfighter's theology match with the Word of God" is not only not condemned or forbidden, it is encouraged!

How sad that so many have twisted this and consequently opened the door to false teaching. It is an epidemic. Worse, it is a needless one.

Warrenism and the Death of Discernment

It was a recent post of mine that triggered the ire of one of my readers. That's ok. I'm used to it. The person posted a comment which was loaded with sarcasm. It was obviously something written by someone who didn't share my convictions. Again, that is ok.

I write this because I think the time is right to review the issue of discernment. I'll let you read the thread, it is very tedious. But as it turns out, this person was, in fact, trying to defend Rick Warren. After I closed the thread, the commenter wrote a private email to me and informed me that Rick Warren is his pastor. He said he would have told me earlier, but then I hadn't asked. Oh well.

What really got up this guy's nose is that I said Rick Warren is an apostate. An apostate is someone who has fallen away from a former orthodox position. I will assume that Rick Warren was, at one time, orthodox in his beliefs regarding the basics of the Christian faith. As far as where he is now? Well, I'll let Rick state it for you. What follows are just a few links.

For all the "Joes" in this world who really believe in this guy, I'd ask you to carefully compare what you read and hear from Rick Warren in light of a decent Bible (for example, an NIV, KJV or NASB). Rick tends to pick modern paraphrases that feature a verse worded in a way that supports a given argument. So, instead of the Bible ruling over the content of his message, he finds the Scriptures a handy tool to subject to his own, uhm, "purposes".

Just a few cursory points first -- The true Gospel includes the message of repentance. I'd challenge anyone to examine Rick Warren's "Purpose Driven Life" and count how many times the word "Repentance" is used. Let me save you some time: Not Once. What the "Joes" of this world need to do is reexamine how they defend Pastor Warren, claiming he does preach repentance while you never hear him say it nor read it in his printed material.

Ok -- What about Warren on "The Essentials" or, as stated by Joe, "foundational doctrinal issues"? Warren thinks that Mormons, Christians and Jews are just different "Denominations"! Ready? Here is another one. And of course, how Muslims and Christians should just get together and worship God...

I recall a video from CNN where Larry King interviewed Warren. I'll have to look for that one. Until then, here's a post that links to a video where you can watch him lump cults and denominations all together. After all, doctrine isn't important!

Joe argued later in the thread that a pastor must be "engaging". I'd argue that while that is a nice "plus", it certainly isn't an essential. What is essential is substance. The apostle Paul, self-described in 1 Corinthians, was not eloquent. He repeated the "reviews" of those to whom he preached. But he had substance. And I'd argue that eloquence can lull you more deeply into error.

So here is my plea: Let's see the "Joes" of this world needing us to help them return to at least some minimial form of discernment. When those who profess Christ can honestly try to defend those who openly spread a false Gospel we have really failed to represent the Gospel entrusted to us.

For the Joes? Let this be a loud wake-up call.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Consecration of Spiritual Energy
Oswald Chambers

"By whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." Galatians 6:14

If I brood on the Cross of Christ, I do not become a subjective pietist, interested in my own whiteness; I become dominantly concentrated on Jesus Christ's interests. Our Lord was not a recluse nor an ascetic, He did not cut Himself off from society, but He was inwardly disconnected all the time. He was not aloof, but He lived in an other world. He was so much in the ordinary world that the religious people of His day called Him a glutton and a wine-bibber. Our Lord never allowed anything to interfere with His consecration of spiritual energy.

The counterfeit of consecration is the conscious cutting off of things with the idea of storing spiritual power for use later on, but that is a hopeless mistake. The Spirit of God has spoiled the sin of a great many, yet there is no emancipation, no fullness in their lives. The kind of religious life we see abroad to-day is entirely different from the robust holiness of the life of Jesus Christ. "I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil." We are to be in the world but not of it; to be disconnected fundamentally, not externally.

We must never allow anything to interfere with the consecration of our spiritual energy. Consecration is our part, sanctification is God's part; and we have deliberately to determine to be interested only in that in which God is interested. The way to solve perplexing problems is to ask - Is this the kind of thing in which Jesus Christ is interested, or the kind of thing in which the spirit that is the antipodes of Jesus is interested?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Adjusting to Being a "Righteous Sinner"

This post has been a long time coming. And I mean a long time. It is the culmination of a long walk down a long dark "tunnel" of sorts, trying to deal with a lack of perfection in my life and yet calling myself a Christian. It also ties in, somewhat, with my last post on seekerism.

There are many of us out there who struggle with perfectionistic tendencies and performance traps. I've been that way for a very long time. If you were to ask me to wash your car, I'd probably have it sandblasted, primed, repainted and detailed. Then I'd give it back to you, hoping you were happy that I had done what you asked. It's a hard place to be, especially as a Christian. You have a habit of not allowing yourself any room for error. You hate legalism but you also are afraid of falling into the trap of "easy believism" and antinomianism. You end up walking a tightrope and the fallout is you end up being a bit "touchy" because you still aren't sure if you're "ok" or not...which of course feeds back into the doubt trap.

Well, I've professed Christ now for almost 9.5 years now...and it has been a long haul. Lots of tough lessons. It hasn't been easy but the Lord has been there through it all.

You know from my previous post that I endured the lack of discernment of the seeker church (at least two, actually. I had been very troubled about my conversion. I had deceived myself before and, to put it plainly, I didn't want to deceive myself again.

Well, my faith has been growing over the years. God has allowed all manner of hardship to drive me to various points where I've had to make key decisions about in Whom I will put my trust. And I've been repeatedly confirmed, in my spirit via God's Word. God puts in you places and pulls out props. He gives you the opportunity to show yourself where you are putting your trust.

It's not about "praying a prayer then doing what you want". If you are really converted, you will grow. And growth comes through testing.

All this to say that a big "pay off" has come at this point in my life.

I love it when the Lord lets you go through so many things, and helps you understand what is happening. You see yourself making decisions over and over again to trust in the Lord. How many times I've echoed the words " whom else will I turn? You alone have the words of eternal life." When you get to a point like that, you know you are in good company.

Then after all that, the Lord brings a good book into your life. Actually, in this case it was a book I had owned since 1999. But I didn't read it then -- it scared me too much. I didn't have a "history" with the Lord yet. At least not one of any real longevity.

The book of which I speak is "Righteous Sinners" by Ron Julian. It is a great read. It is very well done. It is theologically sound, but not geared mainly as a theological work per se. I don't have it with me for a page count, but it's 150 or fewer pages are readily understood.

I picked the book up last week and had it read in three days. When I got done with it, I started reading it again. It's hard to put down. Ron wrote the book with a person like "Joe" in mind; someone who struggles with the reality of his faith because of the sin he sees in his own life. In other words, It was like I was reading about myself.

Let me say it was extremely rewarding and I believe it was put in my life for this precise moment to underscore what God has been doing in my life and convince me that, yes, I'm pointed in the right general direction.

We tend to wrongly define what it means to be "righteous". I can't do the book justice here but mainly what Ron had to say is that "being righteous" has more to do with a proper view of self in in light of God's holiness than always "doing right". We fail, we slip, we simply mess up. And if you are like me (and the "Joe" mentioned in the book) you sometimes say "Ok, this time I've just betrayed myself for what I really am...a phony". How strangely excited I was to read that paragraph -- which was almost an exact quote from my own mouth just a few days before.

Yet it's not about being perfect. It's about seeing your own inadequacies before God and knowing all the more that the Lord is your only hope.

It was late in the book that Ron summarized this so well. A true Christian walks that tightrope. See, a legalist can deny his sinfulness by keeping a list of rules. The other extreme is to be an antinomian. Yet God has called us to be "set apart". "Joe" (and myself as well) will not favor either. I cannot deny my own sinfulness -- keeping a list of rules won't comfort me because I know I fall short of God's law repeatedly. But I (just like "Joe") won't let myself (by God's Grace) to slip into a life of licentiousness because I know God wants me to obey Him. True faith obeys. Not perfectly, but that is the desire of a "righteous sinner".

So we walk a tightrope. I used to ask "How can I be a Christian and mess up so much?". Now I say "I realize I'm a sinner. I need a savior. I'm certainly not perfect, God understands that and while He wants me to grow He has helped me to see that, like Paul in Romans 7, I struggle with sin". Well, actually, I've been saying that for some time now but reading this book has helped me to see how scriptural things have been.

Yes, the book stresses the importance of perseverance. That, I'm sure, is what scared me so badly years ago. But that book has been sitting on my shelf, all while God has been working in me and bringing me through the very things Ron Julian wrote about. Now, instead of being horrified by my lack of a "track record" I rejoice by reading how closely my growth (as imperfect as it has been) has been Biblical and real.

If you are bothered with a lack of assurance, as I have had to deal with for so long, you'll get very frustrated with the "comfort" given by well meaning but very wrong "believers". They will say "Hey, you're just calling God a believed. I know you did because you prayed the prayer, so just believe God". They'll even get a tad angry or at least frustrated. Or, they will say something else just as shallow. If you point them to Romans 8:16 and ask them point blank what that means, they will sidestep your question altogether. Don't be surprised. I've been there countless times. They can't deal with it because syllogistic salvation and assurance can't account for the lack of an "inner witness". When this happens (not if), don't let them give you false comfort. Keep seeking God and obeying what you know to be true from Scripture...leaving those "brothers" alone regarding your struggle. God will give you subjective assurance when He is ready...and assurance is both objective (scriptures) and subjective as mentioned in Romans 8:16. You can't have true assurance without both. But you can obey God's revealed will without either. The Lord just may want you to learn (as He did me) that, yes, you are really pointed in the right direction. You won't be showing Him anything but you will value the assurance you get because of what you went through to get it. Your own life will end up preaching assurance to you to some extent. Don't let anyone short circuit that.

Will I struggle again? Yes. and in a way I certainly hope so because it is through those kind of trials that God helps us grow and clarify our priorities.

No way have I even begun to give this book a fair treatment. Too many details. I'll let you read it for yourself. And I'll be reading it again!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Subliminal Dangers in Seeker Churches

This is kind of a rant, but I think it is more of a "controlled rant". While my points are triggered by my own recollections and experiences, I will recount my points through the Scriptures. It is my hope that some of this will make sense and maybe even prove to be a source of encouragement to those who are where I have been. 2nd Corinthians 1 comes to mind -- and my hope is that I can comfort someone with the comfort I have received.

I have seen the dark side of the "seeker" movement. See, a "seeker" is supposed to be someone who is searching. And by definition, we are to be "sensitive" to seekers, according to this approach within contemporary Christianity (and I'm not sure of the precision of my use of the word "contemporary" in this case).

Others far more knowledgeable than me have written on the theological bankruptcy of the seeker movement. It presupposes that those who are outside Christ are not dead in their sin, but merely "really sick" or some such similar silliness. It caters to the notion that to win them, all we need to do is find the "key" to unlock their heart to Christ. That is a flat out fallacy. Those outside Christ are dead to God. They are therefore totally unable to do anything unless God acts, for "death" by definition is an inability to respond to an outside stimulus.

But the seeker movement is full of other hidden dangers. Ironically, it has to do with how the movement deals with the seeker who struggles in his or her faith. And this is where I come in.

See, it goes back to the superficial view of salvation. To the seeker movement, salvation is had by a human choice, which is expressed by praying a prayer, walking an isle, signing a card or otherwise "deciding for Christ". Once that is done, the grand assumption is that you are now a Christian. It doesn't matter about what your life is like, you've outwardly done what you have to do to be "saved" (Starting to sound like works salvation, isn't it???).

So, we start out with a faulty assumption which is "pray the prayer, make the choice, claim the prize". Well, I'll not write the book I could write on why this isn't Biblically correct. Let me say simply that this is "syllogistic salvation". Kind of like "You doubt your saved? The bible says "If you confess Jesus as Lord" you shall be saved". You've done that, I saw you do that, so, you are saved. Stop doubting! You are dishonoring God!" (Note: "Confession" there has to do with a pattern of life, not just reciting some words. It shows a change of life over a period of time).

No. What dishonors God is putting salvation in the domain of a human decision, not God's sovereignty. See John 1:12, we are not born of human decision, but of God. God's not waiting with His hat in His hand waiting for you or me to "decide for Him".

Consider with me John 6:44. Let me paraphrase it as "No one can come to Me unless the Father draws him." Ok, you say "Yes, God 'woos' the unbeliever". Well, that word "draw" doesn't mean to "woo". It doesn't mean anything such as "God really, really wants you to choose Him and so He's doing the best He can". No. The word there in the Greek is "helkuo". It is a violent term, not some soft experience where God does the spiritual equivalent of sending you flowers and candy. It's not a reference to God "courting" you. It is a term that is more akin to what Saul experienced on the way to Damascus. Saul had no choice. It wasn't his decision and he had no say in the matter. He simply knew what he had to do and that was the end of it. If you have read my tesitmony, you know I can relate to Paul's experience.

You say "are you sure of this?" Well, let's try the concept of "wooing" in other places where "helkeuo" is used.

James 2 says that "Rich men oppress you and woo you into court"? No, they drag you into court, just as James said. Or how about Acts 16:18 where Paul and Silas were "wooed" into the marketplace to be made to suffer for ruining local commerce by delivering a woman who did divination from demonic spirits. Give me a break!

Silly, isn't it? Of course it is. And with this the absurdity of seeker soteriology becomes more obvious. You don't win them with carrot cake any more than God does.

But that still doesn't get to the core of my message. See, you don't see it or experience it unless you just won't sit back and take your "salvation" for granted, which seekerism really wants you to do. If you struggle, if you battle with doubt, if you otherwise won't "come along" in their time, you'll see the less "sensitive" side to seekerism. If you don't just toe the line and "rest in Jesus" (in other words, don't go along to get along and cement yourself into an assumption that self-examination is unecessary regardless of what Paul said in II Corinthians), you'll be stepping all over the protocol and you'll find yourself out of favor. See, you just gotta make your choice and wear your "happy mask".

I clearly remember, and do have documentation for, an incident where a pastor said (after a protracted battle with introspection and doubt), "What will it take to get you to trust Jesus".

Try "an act of God", sir. That's the Biblical answer. It is an act of God that makes us exercise faith. It is all of God and "sweet talk" doesn't make converts. It is the message of repentance and faith. And even then, you never tell someone you know they are saved. You have no way of knowing the state of someone else's heart. You "know" Sally or George is saved? How? You saw the Spirit of God descend on them when they prayed a prayer? You saw a green light go off when they said " Jesus' Name, Amen?" I hope you don't answer that in the affirmative. But in a way I dare you to because when you trivialize the doubts of another who desires certainty of salvation you may as well say those kind of things. Yet it was the Puritans who had it right..."First tested, then trusted".

See, I had been in a time of deep conviction of sin. It was obvious that the Spirit of God was working deeply in me. However, contemporary Christianity makes the assumption that where this is happening, salvation is present. At least that is what I have seen, many times. Indeed, any time someone saw evidence of God's Spirit at work in my life, it was because I was "already saved"...and that isn't necessarily the case. It is possible to "taste" and not yet have "consumed" according to Hebrews 6. You can harden your heart against conviction before you are converted.

Don't think I'm right? Ok, just try voicing your doubts sometime. If you are strugging with doubts, just try to bring them out in the open. The happy faces around you won't be smiling long in a seeker church. See, "you've walked an isle, quit insulting God". That seems to be the only fruit necessary for proof of conversion. If you doubt your salvation, silly boy, just look at the floor for your nike prints leading down to the altar! "You did your bit, and God has to do His!" (Again, notice salvation by works).

The seeker church will not and cannot allow for biblical self-examination. That is, at least in part, because you have to show results. And we have to be sure our numbers our up. That can't happen if you are doubting. You're just being a burden to those who want to claim a higher tally and move on.

I would also ask professing Christianity to stop telling people "if you are saved, God will give you a passion for..." this or that. No, He may or may not. In any case, those words imply some sort of feeling. You say "what's the problem with this?". The problem becomes obvious when someone who has "prayed the prayer" then has doubts, which may be legitimate doubts. What happens is the person says "...but I don't have that feeling of passion you mention". The response? "Quit living by your feelings". Excuse me, but you said if I'm really saved, I'll have this feeling....

If you do that kind of thing to those who are doubting, kindly shut up. All it does is lead to increased frustration and exacerbated doubts. If it isn't about feelings, quit implying that salvation will produce a "feeling", no matter how you describe it...a passion, or whatever. If you say that salvation will produce a "passion" (a feeling which can ebb or become obscure) to see others saved, then you must deal with the fact that the person may be a false convert. But don't even dare say "stop living by your feelings" if someone says they don't have a passion that you say they should have. It is patently wrong, stupid and unloving in the extreme for it minimizes the peril that that soul may very well be in. Again, if you are guilty of doing this, please shut up until you can get it right and, no, I won't apologize for using the language I've used.

For someone who is doubting it is far better to look at their life and ask them to tell you if they are now pursuing godly things. Things that demonstrate repentance and obedience. Before I was converted (whenever that was), I led a life of filth. As a "seeker" (their term, not mine), I was a real "problem child" because I had difficulty leaving my past behind me. I was perceived as a curse, like an amputee at a Benny Hinn revival who refused to grow legs on command. I saw my past as a great ocean of mud and slime, with some certain sins standing as skyscrapers, hundreds of stories high. There were times when I was convinced I was hopeless. The only cure was time and growth. I see now where there were times when I'd started to veer off course only to realize that somehow, in some way, God was tapping me back to the center of the road. Isaiah said "Whether you turn to the left or the right, I will tell you 'this is the way, go in it" (my paraphrase).

It may be months. It may be years. But what God wants from those who would follow Him is obedience. And he will drag ("helkuo") you through whatever is necessary to get you to trust in Him and obey Him. He'll kick out props. Anything that holds you up other than Himself, He will remove. But eventually you will get to the point where you see what He is doing and you will have a choice of "Will I Really Trust Him or Will I Not". And that, my friend, may be your point of conversion, regardless of what anyone in your church says.

That is a personal history that helps one overcome the doubts. It's a faith builder that defies the laws of the seeker movement which demands a decision and a settled contentment with that decision, regardless of doubts which may even be legitimate.

You say "wow, you really seem passionate about this!" You better believe I am. I've had a decade of this kind of thing and it is simply wrong headed.

Is it possible to be in a mental state where you lose track of a passion you'd otherwise be aware of? Sure! It's been a real problem for me. I tend to be very cerebral. My mind tends to be very busy. What makes it even worse is a tendency to be introspective and analytical. Sometimes I think I have an attention deficit. But when I can get myself to a point where my mind is calmed, I tend to be more aware of my concern for ministering to others, sharing the Gospel, or whatever else God wants me to do.

If you are struggling in your faith, don't let the appeals of the "Seeker Sensitive" people stop you from coming to a point of assurance when God wants you to have it. You may be looked down on as I was. You may be chastised for not becoming "stable" on command. But refuse to be another notch in the "seeker" tally. If you doubt, don't hesitate to do what I have done, which is to simply say "Lord, I am not sure of where I am. You know my feelings, I trust You. Only You can sort this mess out, I don't know the end from the beginning. You do even if I don't". Use the trial as a reason to trust in God. Use it as a stepping stone instead of letting it be a stumbling block.

Are you saved? I can't tell you. Only God knows who belongs to Him. I still remember the cold, hard statement of Rick Holland back in 1998 when I was in the depths of doubt. I had attended Logos Bible Institute (at John MacArthur's church) with Rick in 1982 and '83. He is now an elder at the church there. He told me, quite simply, that if my faith was real, "it'll last". And that is the ultimate test. "Those who endure to the end will be saved". Or, "the ones who are saved will endure". It's called "the perseverance of the saints". If your conversion is real, it will show itself in continuance, for "He Who began a good work in you will continue to perform it..." according to Paul in Philippians.

The seeker movement is a death trap for true conversion. It truncates true conversion. It discourages those who need to doubt from doubting. All it does is encourage everyone to wear a "happy mask" which allows Satan to convince the one who struggles that he or she is all alone when, truth be told, most everyone is probably struggling. . . needlessly or not.

Thus, seekerism kills true body life. It does it by discouraging the very thing that God may be doing in someone's life. It does it when it falsely assumes conversion when it shouldn't be assumed. It does it when it discourages those who doubt from investigating the reason for their doubts, as legitimate as they may be. It does it by keeping others from being truthful about their doubts, which allows Satan to 'divide and conquer'. And it displays itself as an overall lie when it claims concern for others when it simultaneously shows lack of regard and patience with those who struggle.

It is a damnable heresy.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Jesus' Messiahship

Prepare for the battle!

If someone came up to you and said Jesus did not come as Messiah, rejected Messiahship by word and deed, what would be your response?

Get ready, because no doubt your local "Christian" bookstore will be stocking books that make this very claim.

What tells me all this? Here's my response, courtesy of Mike Corley.

Friday, November 16, 2007

(Not So) Strange Ideas
Part 2

Just because I can...

Thought I'd demonstrate how easy it would be to start a new church. Here's your sign, over to the left. Hey, we even have a chorus for it, all ready for you:

"Hello, world, here's the song that we’re singin’
C’mon get happy!
A whole lot of lovin’ is what we’ll be bringin’
We’ll make you happy!

We had a dream, we’d go travelin’ together,
We’d spread a little lovin’ then we’d keep movin’ on.
Somethin’ always happens whenever we’re together
We get a happy feelin’ when we’re singing a song.

Trav’lin’ along there’s a song that we’re singin’
C’mon get happy!
A Whole lot of lovin’ is what we’ll be bringin’
We’ll make you happy! (3X)"

On second thought, this is so far within the realm of possibility, it's scary...never mind....

Theology 101-Sola Fide

"Mike and Scott Reiber continue their discussion on the Five Solas. Today, they examine Sola Fide, or justification by faith alone."

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Giveaway Gospel

Pastor Ray Baumann over at Christian Worldview Network has posted a great article which is well worth your time.

What a Great Witnessing Opportunity!

Just wanted to publicly give thanks to God for what He has done. You may remember a post from a week ago regarding an opinion piece that a local pastor submitted to our local paper. Well, as it turns out, I did write a response to that article and it has been published as of today. I'm very thankful that the Lord has chosen to use me to get a message out to the public that the area pastors seem determined to suppress.

The paper's circulation is about 14,000 which translates to 42,000 readers assuming 3 people per family. That is a milestone for me! My prayer is that it will be used of God to bring the lost to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

To God be the Glory.

Paul Washer - Some Missions Conferences Literally Make Me Sick

In light of the last post on Sola Scriptura, maybe this could be called "By God Alone".

"Paul Washer shows how much humanism has created a false Jesus as opposed to the real Jesus who is in Heaven now and is revealed in Scripture. He brings to light how much man has deemed himself higher and more important than God and how man must be humbled."

From Truth Matters

Monday, November 12, 2007

'Self-Deceit' Sermons & Heart vs Head Knowledge

From Old Truth:

Quoting Joel Beeke . . .

Self-esteem messages that do not center upon a triune God would have been viewed by the Puritans as "self-deceit" messages. We have nothing to esteem in ourselves apart from God, the Puritans said. Apart from His grace, we are fallen, wretched, unworthy, and hell-bound. The Puritans were very aware of the deceitfulness of the human heart. Consequently, Puritan evangelists took great pains to identify the marks of grace that distinguish the church from the world, true believers from imposters and merely professing believers, and saving faith from temporary faith. This kind of discriminatory preaching is extremely rare today.

Even in conservative evangelical churches, head knowledge of scriptural truth is often a substitute for heart experience; or, what is equally unscriptural, heart experience is substituted for head knowledge. [Right] preaching calls for both head knowledge and heart experience; its goal, according to John Murray, is "intelligent piety."

Sunday, November 11, 2007

What If You Weren't an American Christian?

Here are two clips from "Way of the Master Radio" that are extremely worthy of careful consideration. This is a recount of Todd Friel in Ukraine. Typical living and worshiping. Compare and contrast this with what we "think" is Christianity here in America.

Here's the first hour.
Here's the second hour.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Rice Cake or Meat?

Here's a clip from today's "Way Of The Master Radio" broadcast. It is 9 or 10 minutes long, tops. But in that short time you'll hear the night and day difference between what passes for "the gospel" today and what the Bible says it is.

To your health.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

How Not To Change a Culture

You will please excuse me for being so "parochial" in this post, but I think what we have here is just an example of what is wrong in evangelicalism in general. Maybe some of you can and will identify with this any way.

The following appeared today in our local paper.
Pastor Lee Johnson and Bethel Baptist (the town's largest church, at least as far as I am aware) are affiliated with the Baptist General Conference, and he had written a "guest opinion" piece for our local paper. Yes, I am familiar with Bethel; I attended the church for over two years and am actually still a member there (though I have since left for various reasons).

I will let Pastor Johnson explain the context of what he wrote. Let me say that I do agree with much of what he says but that he doesn't take it far enough. Like so many contemporary pastors, he runs the ball to the goal but then stops short of a touchdown. Specifically, near the end of this article he calls for believers to "to get our act together and become part of the solution and not part of the problem!" but he fails to tell anyone just how to do this. That is a fumble and a failure to score. What this amounts to is similar to a doctor saying "you need to get well" but not telling you how to do so. The missing part of the message, of course, is repentance and obedience toward God. But then the church he is pastor of has been "seeker oriented" for some time.

I am not saying that what he said here is wrong, even though I don't think I would have necessarily said what he said in the column. What I am saying, however, is that what he said is no "touchdown". He walked it up to the goal, stopped, and put the ball on the ground. No, it isn't sufficient to remind people that "God made us and has a standard". That doesn't save anyone. That will only leave them just as lost. More outwardly moral perhaps, but just as lost.

To Pastor Lee Johnson and others who would say something similar, I would simply ask "...and just how do we get our act together, sir? By defining what we believe?" (which I think he gets to at then end of the article). Head knowledge alone won't do it sir, but the things God demands from us, repentance from sin and faith toward God, will. This is sanctification for the believer and salvation for the non-believer. It is called the Gospel.

The article follows:

Consequences of leaving Christian world view
Guest Opinion

Sunday, November 4, 2007

By Rev. Lee Johnson

Bethel Baptist Church

Editor's Note: As with all guest opinions, I welcome a guest opinion offering an opposing view.

"Currently there is a good deal of public concern over the horrendous amount of sexually transmitted disease in our community. Those public officials who feel some need to respond have called meetings and the newspaper has reported the sorry state of the situation on the front page. It is a real problem and we should all be concerned.

Of course, as Christians we understand that the root of the matter lies in the fact that our culture has left the Judeo-Christian world view. As the Apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 6:6-7, we reap what we sow. So why should we be surprised or expect anything other than what has now happened?

By this I mean that over the past 20 or 30 years we have ever more emphatically told our young people in virtually every public forum the following three things. First, that God did not make us - rather we are here as the result of an accident, the mindless functioning of blind time and chance. Second, that religion is very much optional - in fact we really know that all religions are essentially the same and are fundamentally false. And third, that sexual morality is up for grabs and no one should dare to say that anything someone may do is wrong, especially if we throw in the word love.

With these three false beliefs imposed on society why should we be surprised that the young people of our community have thrown off all moral bonds and we have rampant STDs and far too many single parents? Why shouldn't kids roll their eyes when they are told in class that they really ought to be celibate until marriage?

When the self-declared smartest people in our culture, those who run the courts and the schools, forbid any church to have even the most limited involvement in the public schools, what message does that send to students about the importance of the Christian faith that played such a powerful influence in shaping the old American culture? And when we allow groups into the school that promote things we used to say were wrong, why shouldn't the next generation laugh it off when someone (who likely doesn't believe it anyway) tells them that they really should practice sexual abstinence?

The good news is that the Christian church was born in a culture that was quite a bit more licentious than we have yet become. So there is hope! But until every Christian and every church in Galesburg gets on board with the message that God made us, that God has communicated to us through the Bible, and that there are standards of sexual morality that come from God for us to live by, I personally don't see that things are going to get better any time soon. I do believe it is time for all Christians of Galesburg to get our act together and become part of the solution and not part of the problem! That will only happen when we clearly define what we believe and then we both practice and preach it."

End of article.

You see, the only way the world will change it through heart change. And that happens through regeneration by the power of the Spirit of God. This only comes through conviction of personal sin and resulting repentance toward God (vertical, not horizontal, repentance) and faith in the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ. The unredeemed love sin, like fish love water. They thrive in it. They can't imagine life without it.

Again, the message isn't "God Made Us and Has a Higher Standard". It starts there, but that isn't all of it and that is where he falls short. As it is, the message becomes "we can do better" (implied 'on our own'). No, we can't. It takes transformation.

Yes, Pastor Johnson, we do need to get "our act together". And the way to do that is through Biblical Evangelism. Learn to do it and then just do it!

Anything less is a fumble.

Friday, November 02, 2007

(Not So) Strange Ideas...

Hybels on Biblical Starvation
Or, "Hybels on Bibles"

For those of you who haven't the time or the strong stomach to listen to Bill Hybels' clip from yesterday's entry, here's what I see as the most sickening part of what this "pastor" had to say.

He said that the "dedicated Christians" (Uhm, those would be real converts, Bill), are "complaining" that they aren't "being fed". His argument had been that they should be "self feeders" (true, but then the job of a "real" pastor is, in part, to feed the sheep under him, right Bill?).

Anyway, listen to this clip to hear a focused statement by Bill Hybels', showing his attitude toward believers who want to "be fed" (not to mention his attitude toward the Scriptures). Was he using humor? Yes, sick humor. But if he really didn't think this way, would he be using it as material for laughs?

Uhmmm, pastors who follow this guy? Do You Finally Get It?

Hand me the barf bag. Please!

For those of you who know pastors and other leaders who don't "get it", please send them here. I think my shoulders are broad enough and I'll take the flack. But this message has got to get out.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

More On Willow Creek Silliness

Want a clear understanding of how silly man centered "ministry" can be? Todd Friel at Way Of The Master Radio offered this analysis on the recent "revelation" of Bill Hybels who has been championing the "Church Growth" movement.

My recommendation? Download the clip, burn cds and give them to your church leaders. Tackle them if you have to (kidding! . . . well, kind of). Or send them a link via email. Just get the word out!

Hour two of the podcast is here. Click here for their archives.