Friday, February 29, 2008
And they are "struttin' their stuff", acting all intellectual about how God doesn't exist. They give out challenge after challenge and never seem happy with what you, or anyone else, may have to offer as "evidence" or "proof" to the contrary. What 'cha gonna do?
Well, you don't panic, that's for sure. There is no need to. First, remember that some people, regardless of how they challenge you, won't accept anything as a valid answer. It's a control issue.
However, it's not even about providing proof! Yes, you heard me right. I'm saying you don't have to prove anything! (Well, save that they don't know it all...)
Let's step away from this big ornery atheist bit for a second and rethink the issue. And maybe this will help you if and (more likely) when you find yourself with someone who proudly says "there is no God".
What would you think if I told you "there is no gold on Mars"? What if I told you "there is no gold in China" for that matter? Or how about if I told you "I want to move to Australia because I know there are absolutely no rats in Australia"?
Well, if you think this through much at all, you should notice a flag going up that says "Hey, you can't say that! How do you know that!". Why? Because claims like I have mentioned assume knowledge. And the bigger the claim, the more knowledge is presumed by the one who makes the claim.
So, I say "There is no gold on Mars! I know that. There is no proof that there is no gold on Mars." "Yes, there is", "No, there isn't", "Yes, there is!", "No, there isn't".
When you get in a position like this, just remember your pie!
Let me illustrate:
Let's say the pie below represents the sum total of all knowledge. Everything. How many molecules and atoms there are in the whole universe. How many hairs are on every head in the world, including the astronauts in space. Everything. No exceptions! That even includes knowing how many dust molecules are on the smallest particle that landed three years ago on a planet in the furthest galaxy from Earth! Wow. That's a whole lot of knowledge, isn't it? Sure!
And guess what? No one has it! So let's say that the pie represents the sum total of all knowledge and the blue slice represents what the atheist knows. Let's give him, what is it, a 16th of the whole knowledge pie? Wow, that is a lot! But that leaves a whole lot of stuff that is outside one's knowledge, doesn't it? Sure it does!
So, ask them "Do you possess the sum total of all knowledge?" If they are being honest at all, they will have to admit they don't know everything. The point is "Let's assume you only know 1/16th of everything there is to know. Do you think it is possible that in the remaining 15/16ths that there is the evidence you are looking for?" You are forcing them to admit that they, after all, do not know for sure that there is no God.
Now, does this always work? Of course not. Some are so set in their unbelief that nothing will move them save a sovereign act of God. But that is not your problem. All you are doing is planting a seed to help them understand that they cannot honestly say "there is no God" with certainty, any more than I can say that "there is no gold on Mars", although there probably is (we sent electronic gear there...and if it wasn't there before, there is now because gold is often used in electronics).
So, next time, don't fear those who put on the appearance of intellectualism by expressing their strident atheism. "Remember your pie" and watch them backslide to "agnosticism", which is a more accurate term, which means "I don't know".
From there, you can give them evidences and by God's grace, they will listen.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
"Apprising Ministries would like you to know that Roger Oakland of Understanding the Times files a personal report on his trip to the Rethink Conference. This event was put on by Robert Schuller, a major figure in the Church Growth Movement which has severely retarded the advance of the genuine Gospel of Jesus Christ, along with cultural architect Erwin McManus of the emerging church.
McManus, like Schuller, is also a human potential advocate; their flawed view of the state of unregenerate mankind summed up in the following statement from Robert Schuller in his travesty of a book Self-Esteem: The New Reformation:
The core of original sin, then is LOT—Lack of Trust. Or, it could be considered an innate inability to adequately value ourselves. Label it a “negative self-image,” but do not say that the central core of the human soul is wickedness. If this were so, then truly, the human being is totally depraved. But positive Christianity does not hold to human depravity, but to human inability (67).
Oakland begins his commentary on Rethink by telling us:
Over the 30 years I have traveled the road of life as a born-again, Bible-believing Christian, I have experienced a number of significant events that have provided inspiration and direction for the ministry God has given me. The Rethink Conference held at Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral, January 17-19, 2008 can now be listed as one of those watershed events.
While I was not able to attend the entire conference because of a missionary trip scheduled to the Philippines, the opening day of Rethink: new perspectives from global influences provided ample evidence to evaluate the significance of the event. For nearly two thousand years, most professing Christians have seen the Bible as the foundation for the Christian faith. The overall view at the Rethink Conference, however, is that Christianity, as we have known it, has run its course and must be replaced.
Co-hosted by Erwin McManus and Robert Schuller, the conference declared that a paradigm shift is now underway. Speakers insisted that Christianity must be re-thought and re-invented if the name of Jesus Christ is going to survive here on planet earth now that we are in the twenty-first century.
With the risk of being labeled a negative divisive critic who is against everything, I am compelled to tell you what I witnessed at this conference. This commentary will paraphrase the actual statements made by the speakers as I took extensive notes...
Schuller gave a brief overview of his accomplishments through his many years of ministry. He explained how pleased he was to be able to look back at the tremendous leaders he had mentored over the years, which include Willow Creek’s seeker-friendly pioneer pastor Bill Hybels, the six million member Church of God in Christ’s Bishop Charles Blake, and Rick Warren who has pioneered the purpose driven church and the purpose driven life."
Recently, I began sharing the Gospel in a blog thread. This blog thread began with a report of a person who had come out of a life of sin and met Jesus. This is always wonderful to hear, especially to me because of my own background, which sometimes causes me to struggle in my own faith. Seeing someone else who was, in the practical sense, further "down the road of sin" than I was helps me remember that, yes, God can save someone like me, too! Well, in any case, someone came along ridiculing the Christian faith. And when I see something like that, it is an evangelistic opportunity. But it wasn't always that way.
For the first 8 years of my Christian life, I knew I was supposed to do evangelism. Yet, I was very confused about precisely what evangelism is and how it is to be done. Little did I know that the answer was right in front of my face, in the Scriptures.
For years, I was confused. I had heard so many talk of "a hole in the heart", or "loving them to Jesus" or "Letting them ask what is so different about me". Well, none of these things made sense to me, for various reasons.
Then in 2004, I would begin to see and hear something that made complete Biblical sense, and I am more convinced now than ever, that it still makes complete sense
It began when I saw Kirk Cameron present Biblical evangelism in one of the "Left Behind" movies. I didn't agree with everything in the movie, but I was simply overtaken with what I heard, beginning with Kirk's line "Oh, so you think you're a good person? By who's standard?" At that second, I knew this was what I was missing those 8 years.
It wasn't till August 7th of 2004, in a motel room that I would again be pressed into the truth that I had encountered months before.
My wife and I occasionally take a weekend "R&R" at the local Holiday Inn Express here in town. It is our "Arizona" trip; a way to mentally revisit our honeymoon in Phoenix almost ten years ago. We stayed at a Holiday Inn Express there. The first time I sprung it on her, I told her I was "Taking her to Arizona". Of course, she thought I was nuts. But when she saw what was going on, she understood.
This trip (August of 2004) I was about to find out "what was going on" in the spiritual sense.
I had brought my Bible and was drawn to 1 Timothy chapter 1. I read the following:
"1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ according to the command of God our Savior, and of the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope,
2 to Timothy, my own son in the faith. Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.
3 Even as I begged you to remain at Ephesus, when I was going to Macedonia, that you might charge some that they teach no other doctrine,
4 nor to give heed to fables and endless genealogies (which provide doubts rather than a stewardship of God in faith).
5 But the end of the commandment is love out of a pure heart, and a good conscience, and faith unfeigned,
6 from which some, having swerved, have turned aside to foolish talking,
7 desiring to be teachers of the law, neither understanding what they say nor that which they affirm.
8 But we know that the law is good if a man uses it lawfully,
9 knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous one, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,
10 for fornicators, for homosexuals, for slave-traders, for liars, for perjurers, and anything else that is contrary to sound doctrine,
11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust."
This somehow hit me as significant. I couldn't shake it. I embraced it! It was the part about the law being good if it is used lawfully...and the context tells us it is for sinners.
All the sudden, James made sense when it talks about "looking into the mirror". Psalm 19 made sense when it talks about the law, saying it can "convert the soul".
The lights had come on. I was starting to get it! I meditated on this for a while, then decided to spend time with my wife and see if there was something decent on T.V...
I noticed a program with two guys on there who were talking about evangelism. They were talking about the very subject I had just been reading about! Turns out it was the Way of the Master Episode titled "The Motive of the Sinner". At this point, I realized that the Lord was helping me understand how to do the very thing I had struggled with for so many years.
The law of God was given to us to show us how we fall short of God's Standard. It is the definition of what "good" is. It is an absolute standard. It is unchanging and unmoving. For the proud, it shows the sinner that their pride is misplaced. For those whom God has not already humbled, it breaks their pride, shuts their mouth and prepares the way for the Gospel.
I read on one blog that those of us who follow this method "use the law to convince people they are sinners". No, that's not entirely accurate. We present the law and the Holy Spirit uses it to convict the sinner that they are indeed sinful. The former would seem to imply that we use the law to manipulate. That isn't the case. God uses the law to convict. That's what He gave the law for in the first place! Even Paul said he wouldn't have known he was a sinner unless he heard "Thou shalt not kill". And, as we know, he was a Christian killer before his conversion.
I've heard, "Hey, just love 'em to Christ". The problem is, without repentance there is no salvation. And trying to "love them to Christ" bypasses the law, which God gave to convict sinners. Now, does that mean we are just cold automatons, presenting facts? Of course not! But we still have to give them the biblical facts so they can get a grasp on their true condition.
The most recent thing I've heard is "I believe in doing it like it was done with the Ethiopian eunuch". That's where you wait for God to show you someone whom "God has prepared".
Friends, God prepares people for the Gospel by the use of the law. We don't know what the Ethiopian eunuch had gone through, or what God had specifically done. All we know is that he wanted help understanding the scriptures. We don't know if someone had earlier shared the law with him. All we know is that Peter was there for the harvest! His heart had been humbled and Peter was there as the link in the chain God used to bring him to Christ!
Our job, more often than not, is not to wait until there is someone to "harvest", but rather to plant seeds. Law to the proud, grace to the humble. For those who would say "Yes, I think I'm a good person!", we present the Gospel to help them understand that, compared to God's standard, they are not good. And yes, we occasionally run across those who say "I know I'm a sinner, I just don't know what to do about it!". To those, we present the Gospel. The message of repentance and faith. Those who know they have broken God's law are ready for the cure.
It's what Jesus did on a regular basis. Law to the proud, grace to the humble. He didn't just look for people who were ready to be harvested.
And what of Paul who said "I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase", in 1 Corinthians 3.
We plant seeds. Just like in the parable of the sower, we plant seeds. We don't look for a tomato to be picked, although once in a while we may run into one. We plant seeds. And the wonderful thing with planting seeds is you never know who is the fertile soil. It could be the person you are talking to, it may be the person next to that person who is there listening. It may be the person on that blog thread you are trying to help see the truth, or it may be someone else four months from now who reads it. I've seen this work. You never know who it is.
So, I would encourage you to keep it up. Stay in the race. Don't give up but rather keep presenting the Gospel the way Jesus did.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
"It was about five or six years ago when I first heard that word. Somehow, a recording is stuck in my head of our pastor walking around on the stage repeating the terms… Christ-followers, Christ consciousness…while I heard the faint tinkling of tiny warning bells in the background. But this was my pastor. My shepherd. It must be okay. So I put the warning bells away. But soon there were other leaders in our church using the vocabulary. We were Christ-followers, the lost were the pre-saved or seekers…it just sounded nicer. I often wondered why we weren’t supposed to call ourselves Christians anymore."
Monday, February 25, 2008
Sunday, February 24, 2008
The point was that such people may well have been handed over to the Zeitgeist, the "spirit of the age". (The "spirit of the age" morphs over time. Currently, the spirit of the age is tolerance and commercialism. Rick Warren and others have mastered this.) If you say "no" to the truth long enough, the Lord will send a deluding spirit which will harden you. It is a judgment from God.
No, I'm not saying that if someone disagrees with me that they are in this position. Not at all. But I'm not talking about those rational conversations where there can be a valid difference of opinion. I'm talking about those who follow error even though the Scriptures clearly teach something contrary to what someone believes.
Ever notice that so often, comments tend to be hot or cold. In other words, either they are in total agreement or someone has to argue? It's not because I censor anything. It's because that is how it is! To date, no one has ever come around and said "Hey, I see what you mean but can you explain this to me?" It's either an agreement or a fight. Nothing in the middle.
I think it is because of the effect of the zeitgeist, the spirit of the age. The division between the two camps is becoming clearer and there is much less honest discussion. If someone disagrees, they must do it violently. Civility is gone. It's "Troll's Day Out". And even when someone asks for an explanation, you often find they really aren't interested in Biblical truth, but just a fight.
Not long ago, I got a comment here from a pastor. He told me that he didn't expect me to post it (it was off-topic). But he wanted me to review some material on Rick Warren, stating that maybe I could find something redeeming in him. This person has been a problem on this blog (and others). He causes problems then when his comments get rejected, it's the old "no one is allowed to disagree with you" bit.
Well, that's ok. I can read most of what people send me. But when I saw this, I couldn't believe it. Could someone really take what they had sent me seriously? Here is what they wanted met to evaluate in an effort to redeem Rick Warren, in my eyes. The following is from a web site. He copied it from there. I'll leave the "zinger" for last. My comments will be in blue...:
According to the commenter, Rick Warren allegedly said:
1. "Saddleback may be the most spiritual[sic] mature church in the nation… we have more people in small groups than we have in Sunday morning worship… we have 13842 tithers… over 14,000 people having a daily quiet time… the over 15,000 people who are serving in ministry…"
Now, I say "wow"! This is supposed to be partial evidence of Orthodoxy on the part of Rick Warren? The fact that he has so many people in his church? Where in the Bible do you find numerical growth as a sign of spiritual maturity? To be specific, check the seven letters to the churches in Revelation. There were lots of rebukes there. None were about a lack of numerical growth! No where in the New Testament will you find anyone saying that numerical growth is a sign of the maturity of a church!
If numerical growth demonstrates spiritual maturity, what do we make of Islam?
2. "Teaching a sermon will not disciple people… it is not enough."
Say What? I think I have a problem with this! 2 Peter tells us to desire the "sincere milk" that we may grow! In order to have proper practice, you must have proper teaching...and proper preaching from the pulpit will provide the proper teaching! You feed garbage in? You will put out garbage. It is the exposition of God's Word that helps us understand what God has said. And when what God has said is properly preached, it will cut and sting and cause growth! Now, are there other things too? Sure! Those other things include accountability from other believers. Someone coming to you when you are wrong and correcting you. Doing church discipline when there is no repentance. But taken on its face, this would appear to be an assault on Biblical preaching!
3. "Prosperity gospel: don’t ever put an adjective in front of gospel: Prosperity gospel, social gospel. The gospel is good news: Christ died and resurrected for our sins."
What is being done here is putting all the errant gospels in one basket with the true one! There is only one "real" gospel as Paul said in Galatians 1. What Rick Warren is allegedly doing here is asking us to accept anything that claims to be the Gospel as valid! It would appear to be an appeal to stop distinguishing between the false and true. "If it mentions Jesus, it is the gospel". No thanks.
4. "[Referring to the temptation of Jesus] The plan was that Jesus would be worship[sic] because he died on a cross not because he jumped off the temple."
No, the point of the temptation was to show that He couldn't be broken down. He will be worshiped because He is Lord of all. Everything He did in His life demonstrates that by His Character we know He is God, the rightful Master over all His creation.Rick Warren's alleged statement is shallow, at best.
5. "Spiritual growth is incarnational… it’s Christ in you… it is helping people let Christ live through them… Christ in you the hope of Glory."
Progressive sanctification is realized through death to self. It's not just "letting Jesus" do anything. Our Lord demands anyone who would follow Him die to self. The statement sounds good, but it's watered down.
6. "There are three dangers: hedonism, materialism, and secularism-- the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. If you have been in the minsitry 10 to 20 years and kept your pants on, I honor you."
This is plain sick. Paul had a much higher standard. See Titus and Timothy. It was much more than “Keeping your pants on for 10 or 20 years”. Someone should try reading the two epistles.
7. "Jesus led people from "come and see" to "deny yourself and take up the cross" to "eat my body and drink my blood." That takes a while and it takes a plan.Some of you are “come and see preachers” and your people need you to lead people to “eat my body and drink my blood.” They need you to lead them to harder truths. You need a plan to move people to high commitment of "denying yourself" and “eat my body and drink my blood.” Some of you are “eat my body and drink my blood preachers” and you need a plan to help people “come and see.” Church is all about bringing people closer and closer to Christ."
How many times in the Gospels did Jesus lay out the cost of following Him in very stark terms at the outset...and let people walk away? Where is Warren getting this from? On one site (which I'd have to find and link to) Warren tries to use this to demonstrate that salvation can precede recognizing Christ as Lord by three years. What Warren is doing is justifying easy believe-ism. You don't "need a plan", all you have to do is preach about sin, the law, and the need for repentance! Of course, your numbers may go down if you have been "purpose driven". . .
-------- End of the list ---------
Now, I know that my responses here can be fuller. I'm not trying to give a comprehensive response to this. Besides, that isn't my point. Which brings me to the "zinger" that I told you I'd save for the end. We're coming to it.
Again, this is from a pastor who has been known to defend Warren "tooth and nail" according to another blogger. This is in spite of the fact that Rick Warren's ecumenical escapades are well documented. This is in spite of the fact that Rick Warren's position on Rupert Murdock (a high profile pornographer who attends Rick Warren's church) is well known. Murdoch apparently can sell as much filth as he wants and Warren doesn't see a problem with it. Click here for a list of articles about Rick Warren which are at this blog.
No, no. None of that matters to some because Rick Warren Said Some Things That Sound Good!
Wanna know the zinger? The list is a cut and paste job from a person's site. The person's site says this about the quotes I just responded to:
"Here are a few quotes (written on the fly, but I think they are pretty accurate) from when Rick spoke. "
Oh. Ok. I see. We have something here..."written on the fly", which someone "thinks" are "pretty accurate" from some talk Rick Warren gave. "Quotes on the fly". Nothing authoritative. Nothing known to be true. Maybe in the ballpark, maybe not. But we'll buy into it.
And someone wants me to take this as evidence that there is "something redeemable about Warren's theology"? Statements about still having your pants up after years in the ministry? Discounting discernment regarding the true gospel and the false ones?
After all the teaching on Purpose Driven from Bob DeWaay on this site, (which the person, to my knowledge, has never listened to, even after being challenged to do so) after all the clear reporting on this blog about what Warren has been teaching and doing, this is somehow supposed to speak for him?
Well, welcome to another chapter in the Zeitgeist Follies!
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Keep it up, Carla!
Friday, February 22, 2008
Thursday, February 21, 2008
However, if you just want an overview, here's episode 8, "What Did Jesus Do". It will give you the gist of what it is all about.
In either case, 150,000 people die every day. The Lord has commissioned us to spread the gospel. We are to be sowing seeds for a harvest.
Don't know about you, but the following bears out my own experience, specifically beginning at 7:55 minutes into the video.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Get the final segment here...
We get comments submitted at the 'fly. We get all kinds of comments. Many of them don't get posted because they are of the baited "Let me ask you a question, you know it all..." type. Yeah, that'll get your comment posted in a hurry! In any event, we get comments and links to our articles that end up in the trash heap. One such submission today included a statement such as "I know that 99.9% of the emergents I know would tell someone in that position (the E.R. clip) that they need to trust in Jesus!"
My response? "Is that what it would take? -- Knowing that someone is about to die?"
See, the presumption continues. It goes on and on. And evangelism gets blown off in the name of "friendship".
Sorry, we don't have that luxury. See, the date on the right side of the grave marker is empty because we don't know when someone will die . . . do we?
But they never get it. All I'm hearing is "Well. . .this isn't fair because...well, if I knew someone was about to die, I'd tell them about trusting Jesus!". Trusting Jesus? (Side point, that's only half the gospel).
So, if you knew someone was about to die, you'd give them the gospel? Maybe the better question to ask is, "What if you don't know when any lost person you know will die?" And none of us know, do we?
Yup, the video was pretty pointed about those who can't present a clear message about a real hell and a real God who will bring down real judgment. And that describes much of the "Christian" landscape. And from the comments and other discussion out there, where people are saying "I'd tell 'em to trust Jesus", they never mention repentance, without which no one can be saved.
Let's imagine another scenario. Let's imagine you took days, months or years to do "Friendship Evangelism". Let's say you knew this guy in the E.R. clip. Let's say you weren't there in that room when his life ended. But you had the answer! Here he is, yelling at someone because they can't or won't give the answer, but you know it, have known it and didn't share it! Can't you hear him yelling at you from Hell?
How lame! You call that "being a friend"???
See? It's not just about the bankruptcy of Emergent, Purpose Driven or the "Seeker" movement. It is about doing what God told us to do, and that is spread the pure Gospel because God said to spread the Gospel. To keep people out of hell? That's a good reason. But our real reason, first and foremost, is because it brings glory to God.
My friends, we walk alongside people everyday who are walking toward a cliff. They are going to fall off. The error is thinking we know where the edge of the cliff is for any individual. We don't! We do not have any luxury whatsoever to say "Hey, we've got time to build a friendship. . .I'll give the Gospel to you in a few years when I think you're ready for it".
Part of my work is in the health care profession. I help the elderly. Therefore, I sometimes have a general idea how long someone may have to live, and many is the time I've shared the Gospel with someone in such a scenario because that was the only chance I got. But even then, I never know. I'm telling you that you, my friend, do not know if that lost person next to you has five seconds, five minutes, five hours or five years to live!
So, if you saw someone on their deathbed you'd share the gospel with them then? Big Deal! I daresay you will rarely then, if ever, share the gospel with anyone! My challenge to you is to consider that the chair your friend is sitting in now may be their death chair!
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Maybe tell him about his "Purpose"?
Take a few months to become "buds"?
Didn't think so.
Ok, so you may ask "what brought this on"? Well, we've had some visitors here that would promote this book. It's been out for four years that I am aware of, but it was news to these guys. And they have bought the lie even though it started right on the front cover.
As soon as I read the "review" quoted from Christianity Today, I knew something was up. As it turns out, I was right. Either CT had gone further 'round the bend or the cover was wrong.
See, this book is one of Satan's attempts to say "Jesus didn't die for our sin", "Everyone ends up in heaven in the end", and all manner of deception. In short, it makes wonderful material to start a fire to warm one's self on a cold winter's day. Other than that. . ..
Anyway, you don't even need to open the book to catch a lie, even if masked as a half truth. If you click on the picture, you will be able to read the "quote" from CT. If you will, notice the arrow points to a period at the end of the "quote". If you don't care to do so, I will quote what it says here:
"Gulley and Mulholland have done what many evangelicals and orthodox Christians more generally have failed to do: they have honestly faced the church's traditional doctrines of salvation and eternal justice." Period.
Sounds rather authoritative and scholarly, doesn't it? Sure! Sounds objective as well doesn't it? Absolutely!
Hold it a second. That's a period at the end of that though! Perhaps one would be wise to read the actual review from Christianity Today, wouldn't ya think? I'd hope so.
Well, if you click here, you'll get to the (rather milquetoast) review. In fact, you'll link to the second of two pages. Look for this at the beginning of the second paragraph:
"But [a connective which means something to the contrary was left out on the front of the book...tb] Gulley and Mulholland have done what many evangelicals and orthodox Christians more generally have failed to do: they have honestly faced the church's traditional doctrines of salvation and eternal justice, even if only to reject them." (Emphasis and italics mine)
Hold it! They replaced a comma with a period! And thus, they have distorted the review and made their theological poison more appealing by leaving off the words that would reveal the snare: "...even if only to reject them." (the traditional doctrines of salvation and eternal justice). And, as I've already embedded as a comment in the quote from the review, they blew off the word "but" which connects it to anything contrary to what they quoted. How convenient! This is the very definition of taking something out of context!
So, the net result is that the perspective reader/buyer is led to think that this book represents something objective and (implied) uniquely correct -- namely the thesis that God will save every person, and that CT concurs!
Did the authors know about this? How could they not? And the editors certainly did! But, don't ya know my silly ones. . .if you come out in the open and admit what you are teaching up front, you can't sucker 'em in!
Then of course, one must also wonder if Christianity Today had a problem with the selective quote of their review. . .
The book is rife with heresy. It is written by two Quaker pastors who want to teach, and have us accept, universalism. The CT today review, although anemic at best, at least admits that "two pastors make a case for universalism, and end up trivializing human freedom" and call it "a distorted predestination". See, according to these guys, you don't even have the freedom to refuse to go to heaven! Jesus said that "The gate is narrow and few will find it. . ." where these guys would say "The gate is so wide, you can't miss it even if you want to"! If these guys were to be right, it would mean that your local crooked judge would stand to be more just than God Himself! This is blasphemy!
The authors of the book were interviewed by a magazine which is online. I won't publish the link here because it is to a homosexual "magazine". Frankly, I don't care to provide easy access to that grade of material. However, if you really want to know what the link is, I will provide it to you via email. Just submit a comment to this post asking for it. It touts itself as "a magazine for GLBT Christians", which is an oxymoron. Be warned. I just happened to run across the article while I was doing research on the authors.
In the interview, Gulley states that "Jesus didn't die for our sins". Ok, Gulley, who did then? Mulholland states that "[the Church] did quite well" without a Bible for 300 years, even though the Church did have the scriptures from the beginning. . .they just weren't "ratified" as "the Bible" yet. That is a lie on the part of the magazine which was "confirmed" by co-author.
Hear the hiss?
The fact that Gulley and Mulholland are so far off is no surprise. Quakerism is into mysticism, experience and feelings over against objective truth. Feel a quiver in your liver? That's the Spirit of God!. . .or so they would have you believe. But how do you know? Answer: You don't. I can't stress this enough...There is no experience or feeling that is self-authenticating! All we have is God's Word to lean on.
No. I won't buy the lie. But apparently many (at least some who would comment on this site) are caught up in this. . . hook, line and sinker.
The only question I have is for Christianity Astray . . . sorry, Christianity Today, which would be "If a glbt oriented magazine can reveal what these guys do to substitutionary atonement and the character of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, why can't you?"
Which makes me wonder. Maybe this hiss-revealer was really a "two-fer"?
Gee, ya think?
I'm inclined to think so.
Monday, February 18, 2008
Just so this doesn't go unnoticed in the midst of the "Redefining Christianity" interviews between Brian Flynn and Bob DeWaay, I wanted to publish this link to the Sacred Sandwich which tracks the roots of Warren's "S.H.A.P.E." curriculum.
Additional questions include: "Is observing right doctrine antithetical to love?", "If PDL is aimed at non-believers, what is the message it sends about truth?"
We're almost done with the series but you can hear the next to last installment here...
"from chapter 12, "The Minister in These Times"
in An All-Round Ministry
Spurgeon responds to men in his day who thought the doctrine of penal substitution wasn't genteel or sophisticated enough.
Those who set aside the atonement as a satisfaction for sin also murder the doctrine of justification by faith. They must do so. There is a common element which is the essence of both doctrines; so that, if you deny the one, you destroy the other.
Modern thought is nothing but an attempt to bring back the legal system of salvation by works. Our battle is the same as that which Luther fought at the Reformation. If you go to the very ground and root of it, grace is taken away, and human merit is substituted. The gracious act of God in pardoning sin is excluded, and human effort is made all in all, both for past sin and future hope. Every man is now to set up as his own savior, and the atonement is shelved as a pious fraud.
I will not foul my mouth with the unworthy phrases which have been used in reference to the substitutionary work of our Lord Jesus Christ; but it is a sore grief of heart to note how these evil things are tolerated by men whom we respect.
We shall not cease, dear brethren, in our ministry, most definitely and decidedly to preach the atoning sacrifice; and I will tell you why I shall be sure to do so. I have not personally a shadow of a hope of salvation from any other quarter: I am lost if Jesus be not my Substitute. I have been driven up into a corner by a pressing sense of my own personal sin, and have been made to despair of ever doing or being such that God can accept me in myself.
I must have a righteousness, perfect and Divine; yet it is beyond my own power to create. I find it in Christ: I read that it will become mine by faith, and by faith I take it. My conscience tells me that I must render to God's justice a recompense for the dishonor that I have done to His law, and I cannot find anything which bears the semblance of such a recompense till I look to Christ Jesus. Do I not remember when I first looked to Him, and was lightened? Do I not remember how often I have gone as a sinner to my Savior's feet, and looked anew at His wounds, and believed over again unto eternal life, feeling the old joy repeated by the deed?
Brethren, I cannot preach anything else, for I know nothing else. New dogmas may or may not be true; but of the truth of this doctrine, I am sure.
If anybody here is preaching the atonement, but does not like it, I dare not advise him to cease preaching it, but the words tremble on my lips. I am firmly persuaded that the unwilling or cold-hearted preacher of any doctrine is its worst enemy. It comes to this, in the long run, that the wounds of truth in the house of its false friends are worse than those given it by foes. If you do not love the cross in your heart's core, you had better let it alone. I can truly say that I preach the atonement con amore, with all my heart.
Some seem to think that we poor souls, who are of the Puritanic school, are "cabin'd, cribb'd, confined" by harsh dogmas, from which we would gladly escape. They imagine that we have to check every rising aspiration of our nobler selves, so as to preserve the tyranny of a certain iron system. John Calvin is supposed to ride us like a nightmare, and we lead dogs' lives under his lash.
Brethren, it is far otherwise. Little do these slanderers know of our happiness and peace. If they feel more joy in preaching than we do, their felicity is great; but, from their tone and style, I should greatly question it. Observers will have noticed that the joyous element has gone out of many pulpits. The preacher does not enjoy his own subject, and seldom speaks of having been in the Spirit while he was discoursing. He likes twenty minutes' preaching a great deal better than forty; and he is peculiarly apt to merge his two week-night services into one.
Nobody enjoys modern doctrine, for there is nothing to enjoy. The people have to do their best with that soup of which our friend spoke last night so admirably,—the soup made from a borrowed bone, which had been lent out for a similar purpose on six previous days, so that the flavor of meat no longer remained upon it.
No, my brothers; let our opponents dismiss from their minds all pity for our enslaved condition under the old gospel. We are the free men, whom the Lord makes free, and all are slaves besides.
I would like to rise from my bed, during the last five minutes of my life, to bear witness to the Divine sacrifice and the sin-atoning blood. I would then repeat those words which speak the truth of substitution most positively, even should I shock my hearers; for how could I regret that, as in Heaven my first words would be to ascribe my salvation to my Master's blood, my last act on earth was to shock His enemies by a testimony to the same fact?"
Sunday, February 17, 2008
How is "Purpose Driven" a true franchise? What must you quit doing and start doing to make the franchise work? What role does a "purpose statement" play in a PDL church and what must it replace? How does Robert Schuller relate to this? What is wrong with the S.H.A.P.E. program? What is critically different about PDL worship styles and "ministry"?
Part 13 can be heard here. Hear Warren comparing his view of the church to McDonalds!...
Additional background on Warren's S.H.A.P.E. program can be found here...
Saturday, February 16, 2008
"Pastor John Chisham has a good exposition of Acts 17 where the great Apostle Paul was at Mars Hill. This is a pet text twisted by man-centered postevangelicalism and the emerging church. It truly is as Chisham asks:
When are the emergents going to understand the real message of Mars Hill? The message that God is a God that we can know, and even in knowing Him there is always more that we can know as we seek Him in truth? When will they understand that it is God who will bring His kingdom to this earth? When will they place a simple faith in His Word, and take His Word for what it clearly says? When will they stop with the conversation, and allow the conversation to lead them to Christ, and His truth? When will their leaders call for repentance and faith in Christ alone?"
Friday, February 15, 2008
Can you say "Church In a Box"? Click here.
"Brannon Howse: Global Tax Bill Passes House and Now in Senate. Senator Obama has sponsored the Global Poverty Act. If it becomes law it would require Americans to pay a global tax that would go to the United Nations. In addition, it would commit nations to banning "small arms and light weapons" and ratifying a series of treaties, including the International Criminal Court Treaty, the Kyoto Protocol (global warming treaty), the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Click here to listen now."
Do words like this bother you? Scare you a bit? That is understandable. The world is getting darker. But keep your eyes lifted up, because all it does is demonstrate the veracity of God's Word.
Nothing in that teaser from CWN is a surprise. God's Word has already told us that there is a coming one world government which will be controlled by the Antichrist. One government, one religion and one economy. It's coming. Believe it. Believe it, not because you see it coming but because God revealed it long ago when people scoffed at the idea...but now it is coming to pass before our eyes.
This should renew the shoe-leather on our evangelism. Think of those around you who deny Christ. They deny the need for repentance. They think that "praying a prayer" saves them regardless of how they are living today.
1 Corinthians 6:9,10 tells us "Do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor abusers, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God."
Revelation 21:8 puts it a bit differently: "But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death."
The cowardly? You mean someone will go to hell because they are cowardly? That is precisely what God's Word says. "Cowardly in what sense?" I think Jesus said it best in Mark 8:38:
"For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."
You say "So being unashamed saves you?" No. But if you really are born of God, you have a new nature and that new nature will show itself in your life. If it shows itself in your life, it will be in a love for God and an obedience to Him. This includes evangelism. Life produces life! If you have no care for the lost, then you are lost yourself! Be warned. It was Charles Spurgeon who said:
"Have you no desire to see others saved? Then you are not saved yourself, be sure of that!"
Read that last line a few more times. Are you convicted? Do you care? If not, then you are lost!
For the believer, the one who is born again, this life is the closest to Hell he or she will ever get. But for the unbeliever, the worldling, this is the closest to Heaven they will ever get!
Brethren, as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 7, the time is short and "...the fashion of this world is passing away". "The fashion of this world"? Yes. The way things are done here. The good things, the bad things. It's all coming to a close. You can see it transpiring. The world is coming unglued even as it tries to glue itself together in one big conglomerate apostasy. And it will do that. It is coming to pass as we speak.
You say there is no hell to shun? Then you are lost! One who is born of God is not so deceived because the testimony of God bears witness and compels us to reach out to others who are perishing! Such garbage makes a joke of the Cross! You say "God is love, therefore there is no judgment"? My lost friend, you worship an idol, a god of your own invention that can no more save you from condemnation than change the color of the sky. You are worshipping the devil himself!
You who profess Christ? Do you really know Him? Then dare ask yourself the hard questions. Am I willing to take the least bit of ridicule for the sake of the Gospel? I'm not asking if you would say "I would die for Jesus". The question is, are you willing to live for him now even if it means being unpopular? If you won't do that, what gives you the silly notion that you would die for Him? Talk is easy. What does your life routine tell you? Does it betray the words that come from your own mouth? Will you be counted as a coward? Will Jesus, as Paul said in 2 Timothy 2, deny you before the Father because you have denied Him before men? Think about this, long and hard.
It makes no difference what mere men think. Let the paper tigers roar. They have no teeth.
As our Lord said in Matthew 10: "28 And do not fear those who kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul. But rather fear Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for an assarion? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Therefore do not fear, you are of more value than many sparrows. 32 Then everyone who shall confess Me before men, I will confess him before My Father who is in Heaven. 33 But whoever shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father in Heaven."
So, who do you fear...God? Or mere men? Don't let the headlines rattle you. Let them help you focus, find hope in the trustworthiness of God's Word and new resolve to remain obedient to Him.
"Not sure how many times I've heard it said and/or preached that "God is the God of the second chance." But it's a number larger than one.
Usually the Biblical backdrop is Jonah, "the reluctant prophet." ("Reluctant" as in, "So, you say head East? Hm... where's the quickest boat heading West...?")
Now, strictly, I don't myself think of Jonah in "second chance" terms. He didn't try to serve God, fail miserably, and get a "second chance" at it. Rather, he tried to run away from the revealed, binding will of God; was arrested, swallowed, sunk, shaken, stirred, thoroughly marinated, then thrown back into service, indeed loving God, but not so much loving what he had to do.
But in a way, that is a second chance. "Do this." "No." "Here's a second chance: do this."
Other Bible characters do get multiple opportunities. Pharaoh certainly did, though the net effect of his hard-hearted response was to glorify Yahweh (Exodus 9:16; 14:4, 17-18). Nebuchadnezzar did (Daniel 2, 3, 4). Herod did (Mark 6:17-20). Felix did (Acts 24:24-26).
But not everybody did..."
Has it ever dawned on you that you are responsible for other souls spiritually before God? For instance, if I allow any private deflection from God in my life, everyone about me suffers. We "sit together in heavenly places." "Whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it." When once you allow physical selfishness, mental slovenliness, moral obtuseness, spiritual density, everyone belonging to your crowd will suffer. "But," you say, "who is sufficient for these things if you erect a standard like that?" "Our sufficiency is of God," and of Him alone.
"Ye shall be My witnesses." How many of us are willing to spend every ounce of nervous energy, of mental, moral and spiritual energy we have for Jesus Christ? That is the meaning of a witness in God's sense of the word. It takes time, be patient with yourself. God has left us on the earth - what for? To be saved and sanctified? No, to be at it for Him. Am I willing to be broken bread and poured out wine for Him? To be spoilt for this age, for this life, to be spoilt from every standpoint but one - saving as I can disciple men and women to the Lord Jesus Christ. My life as a worker is the way I say "thank you" to God for His unspeakable salvation. Remember it is quite possible for any one of us to be flung out as reprobate silver - ". . . lest that by any means when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway."
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Here's where to find the message...
"Speak; for Thy servant heareth." 1 Samuel 3:10Because I have listened definitely to one thing from God, it does not follow that I will listen to everything He says. The way in which I show God that I neither love nor respect Him is by the obtuseness of my heart and mind towards what He says. If I love my friend, I intuitively detect what he wants, and Jesus says, "Ye are My friends." Have I disobeyed some command of my Lord's this week? If I had realized that it was a command of Jesus, I would not consciously have disobeyed it; but most of us show such disrespect to God that we do not even hear what He says, He might never have spoken.
The destiny of my spiritual life is such identification with Jesus Christ that I always hear God, and I know that God always hears me (John 11:41). If I am united with Jesus Christ, I hear God, by the devotion of hearing all the time. A lily, or a tree, or a servant of God, may convey God's message to me. What hinders me from hearing is that I am taken up with other things. It is not that I will not hear God, but I am not devoted in the right place. I am devoted to things, to service, to convictions, and God may say what He likes but I do not hear Him. The child attitude is always, "Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth." If I have not cultivated this devotion of hearing, I can only hear God's voice at certain times; at other times I am taken up with things - things which I say I must do, and I become deaf to Him, I am not living the life of a child. Have I heard God's voice to-day?
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
The online world can be a tricky one. Blogging has its own traps which exist, all too often hidden, in comment threads. What should be very simple turns out, sometimes, to be very complex. Take sharing the Gospel, for example. As the Emergent Apostasy spreads like cancer along with Purpose Driven and other anti-Biblical movements, everything gets more and more "complex". We start having "conversations". Emergent has their own brand of conversation. . .the kind that goes nowhere. After all, it's not about the destination but the journey. As a matter of fact, in Emergent, humility is to be "seeking truth" and the height of arrogance is to say you have found it! One must ask, then why waste your time seeking what you are not allowed to find? But such a question, I think, would be lost on many emergent types I've encountered.
So, what of us who have been charged with the Gospel?
The strategy in such online conversations is very simple. Actually, there is no real strategy -- All you have to do is repeat the message of the Gospel. And remember, you aren't necessarily presenting it to the people you are conversing with. Your real audience may be the person who reads the thread next month or even next year. The Gospel will work on its own. The power of the Gospel is not in the person who is presenting it nor is it in the medium. It is the message itself, which is the biblical message of sin, repentance and faith.
I've seen this work. A number of years ago, I frequented a web site that allows artwork to be submitted. The art I did contained scriptural content. Of course, most of the year or more that I spent there was spent debating with atheists. Seems that they could put up with anything as long as it wasn't something from the Bible. There were lots of discussions about science and the Bible among other things. I developed deeper roots there. It was a great time of maturation as far as being able to defend my faith against the attacks of atheism. It really is a bankrupt religion. And atheism is a religion that has little or nothing to do with science. I learned that over and over again during my time there.
During that time though, I learned a more valuable lesson; the audience you are talking to may (most likely) not be the audience you reach. So, this atheist by the name of "Ed" asks some question, not really wanting an answer. You know it, or at least you perceive it that way. You can generally tell it although sometimes it's hard to decipher intent by reading the question on your screen.
Anyway, you answer Ed's question and Ed just wants to go on and on. It doesn't matter. You are presenting the truth, and you never know who will end up seeing it!
In one particular thread, I remember having a protracted discussion with some guy who said he had just gotten his Ph.D in Astronomy. Who knows? Maybe. He didn't like me submitting artwork that quoted Job 38:31 where God asked Job "Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades, or loose the cords of Orion?". This is a verse which we now know accurately refers to the bound and unbound status of those two constellations and points to the inspiration and scientific accuracy of the Scriptures! Well the guy I was having this discussion with ended up at odds with NASA, which bears up what the Scriptures accurately reported so very long ago. This guy just couldn't deal with it! He wanted to quibble over "how loosely bound" the constellation Orion is. The issue wasn't "how loosely bound" it may or may not be. The fact is, it is bound! He could not dispute that. But he couldn't accept the implications either.
But in the middle of all this, (and there were tons of hecklers there), here comes this one guy who left a few comments. His comment was a simple observation: "Hey, if Tim is right, what he's saying makes a whole lot of sense!" While it's not about me being right, it is about the Scriptures, and they are right!
And I was encouraged that, after all the "discussion", there was someone there who may well have finally "got it". And of course, I moved my focus to him, to affirm his observation. The guy I had been discussing things with? He gave up. But he was the tool that God used to get the message out that He wanted this other guy to hear. And He was glorified, even if it looked like I got nowhere and even if others thought I looked foolish.
So, the people you "think" you're talking to may well not be the ones the Lord has listening to you. And I have never forgotten that.
More recently, I recall one discussion in which the Gospel was clearly presented. The response I got was "Too Simple, Way Too Simple". Well, I take pride in having those words aimed at me. It is a badge of honor. If I'm in a group of religious people and don't hear that, I have to wonder if I'm messing things up!
See, as a matter of fact, the Gospel is simple. And it is the utter simplicity of the Gospel that will keep many people out of the Kingdom. Jesus said that the gate is narrow and few will find it.
What is the message of the Gospel? Man has fallen. We are all dead in sin. We cannot save ourselves. We cannot pay the debt we owe to God. We need someone to save us, but someone has to pay for our sin. No man can, because sin requires the death penalty but God sent His Son, Who lived a sinless life so He could die for us, bearing the penalty he didn't owe. God requires that we repent and trust in the One who can save us.
Simple? Way too simple? Yes. For those who will perish. It is simple. Yet it is difficult. It is difficult because it demands death to self. It demands admitting we can do nothing on our own. It demands picking up a cross and following Jesus by obeying Him and His will as revealed in his Word.
That is the message. Human pride can't deal with it. And the more "sophisticated" they get, the harder it is for them to apprehend the gospel and the more hardened against the truth they become.
So when you are out there and trying to get the Gospel across to someone who simply refuses to hear, remember your audience is likely not the person you had originally thought it was. It may be a person or group of people who haven't even seen or heard what you've been saying....yet.
I play trumpet and other brass wind instruments. I also enjoy doing brass wind repair work. It's one of a couple of side businesses that I operate. It's a great way to meet people and share the Gospel, and God has been faithful. But I recall there being a discussion on religion in general and Christianity in specific on this one trumpet oriented forum. I didn't spend a lot of time in that thread but I tried to be cogent and faithful to laying the gospel message out.
You know what? Months after that discussion, I received a private message from a person who saw that message thread, and he thanked me! He thanked me because he had been exposed to the Gospel! Contrary to what I may have been thinking when I posted what I posted, was the time I spent presenting the gospel wasted because it "didn't get results" on my schedule? No! No way! We don't work on our schedule, but God's!
I still hear some say that evangelism on websites doesn't work. There is no reason to think that because the message is the message is the message. It doesn't matter if it is read directly from the Bible, said out loud, written on paper, represented on a computer screen or scratched in mud. The power is in the message, not the medium!
Paul said in Romans 1:16 that "I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe, first for the Jew, then for the Greek". See it? What is the power of God unto salvation? The messenger? The medium? No! The "power of God unto salvation..." is the GOSPEL!
So, publish it! When someone somewhere is even feigning interest in the things of God, publish the Gospel! Don't expect that person to respond. We have no idea who God will call to repentance through the Gospel message you leave!
The statement that evangelism on a web page doesn't work is a lie straight from Hell. It's a lie because it places the power of the message away from God's Truth onto the method, the medium or the person. Again, the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe!
On the back of my car I have a sign. It's a simple thing, actually, it's a two line message I printed in large type. I folded it over so it's a little larger than the size of a bumper sticker and taped it to the inside of the rear window of my hatchback. The two line message is this:
Secondly, I've noticed more than one person walk by my car in a parking lot and they stand and look directly at that message, kind of like how I do when I'm trying to memorize something. But something is going on. And who knows that when they get a chance, they go to that website and get the gospel. On another occasion, I and another person were at a local McDonald's. We were doing Bible study and I was also working on evangelism materials with my laptop. A bus of school kids came in. Out of nowhere, the coach asked me if "that red Honda out there with the sign in the back" was mine. We were able to share the Gospel with him and the students!
A waste of time? No way! Even if it were, I'd much rather hear God say "Tim, I wish you wouldn't have tried so hard to get the Gospel out...you really did too much" than "Tim, while you were on Earth, you knew people were dying and going to hell. I gave you so many resources to use to get the message out. Why did you squander the resources I entrusted you with?"
Which would you rather hear?
The message is simple. In fact, Jesus said you must come to Him as a child. Not as a theologian. Not as a "Wise" person. Not as a good philosopher. But as a child. Why? Because it is a simple message meant for those who can accept God on His terms.
Some years ago I recall hearing John MacArthur discuss how he gets to share the gospel on TV so much. This wasn't about him being on Larry King Live, as he often is now, but rather about the times he'd be on TV being asked questions by someone on the street with a microphone. If I recall correctly, he said "I just say what I have to say and they change the questions to fit my answers!". That would be simple enough, as the interviewer had his or her back to the camera. See? He was publishing the message.
So broadcast the simplicity of the Gospel. And when the trolls and hecklers come, just keep proclaiming it because at the end of the day, only God knows who the real audience is. To us, it isn't about winning the immediate argument, it's about publishing the gospel for those who will later read it and respond. And if you simply get the gospel out, the battle is won. Simple? Absolutely. And sometimes it seems "way too simple." But it's the way God planned it. Simple message, simple method.
Only He knows who wears the mark "Elect". And the Elect ones will see and hear it as God wills.