ABC–Always Be Closing?

Lately during really good witnessing encounters the question about what to do with someone who appears really remorseful over his or her sin has resurfaced for me. The other person who was witnessing with me took this as an opportunity to try to close the deal. Though this individual thankfully doesn’t subscribe to the sinner’s prayer nonsense, she wanted the person to pray a prayer of salvation from the heart. If the individual hesitated, she attempted to push him or her a little bit to go ahead and make a decision for Christ.

I’ve had trouble putting my finger on why this bothered me. Everything she was saying was technically true. Today is the day of salvation, and anyone can die at any time. However, it seemed she was coming off as a salesperson trying to convince a reluctant prospect.

As always the question to ask in evangelism is: “What did Jesus and the apostles do?”

It seems Jesus never tried to close the deal. He would command people to repent and believe the gospel, or believe in Him, or come to Him, or eat His flesh and drink His blood. He never asked anyone to repeat a prayer after Him. When the rich young ruler walked away (Luke 18), he didn’t chase after Him. He trusted the message to do its work, along with the Holy Spirit, even if it meant he would never repent.

Maybe the clearest example is Acts 10 when Peter went to Cornelius and his family to give them the gospel: “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message” (Acts 10:44).  He never had to close the deal or get them to make a commitment of some sort. God saved them while he was busy talking.

So what should we do when someone appears broken by the message? Exactly what Jesus and the apostles did. Deliver the message faithfully, and trust the Holy Spirit. We don’t have to push the individual for a decision or commitment of any kind. Maybe God is saving the person as we speak.

Seeing the handwriting on the wall.

Two years ago I published a post about a CCM entertainer’s comments that he gave to a Roman Catholic organization in which the entertainer, David Crowder, admitted:

“Much of the Catholic traditions and writings have been influential in my formation of faith and to be quite contradictory of what was stated earlier, I’ve found much inspiration there.”

Of course, my pointing this out went over like a lead balloon with many professing Christians. Daring to bring to light (or even make mention of) the biblically antithetical theology, leanings, and/or admitted influences of any of their beloved entertainers will always incur the wrath of the American evangelical. (That same post also spoke of David Crowder’s ties to contemplatives too, but for some reason that has never been much of a point of contention with Crowder’s defenders.)

I received numerous responses of defense for Crowder from tons of professing Christians telling me how stupid I was for pointing out Crowder’s obvious Roman Catholic leanings. In the estimation of his defenders, I was just jumping to conclusions, making mountains out of mole hills, and seeing things that were simply not there.

But was I?

(I still wonder how Crowder defenders would have reacted if he had said “Much of the Mormon traditions and writings have been influential in my formation of faith . . .“.) 

Apparently I have to venture outside the whitewashed, happy, clappy realm of Americanized Christianity to find someone else who can add 2 plus 2 and come up with 4. 

Marc, a Roman Catholic who blogs at Bad Catholic, is one of those out there who also read Crowder’s interview and saw the same handwriting on the wall. On his latest post praising David Crowder, Marc writes what’s so obvious as the noon-day sun to him (and me) but seems to escape the comprehension of so many professing Christians:

“So, remember that time I invited David Crowder to become Catholic? Yeah, that might have been redundant. . . .  I’m happy as can be, and praying for Mr. Crowder, hoping he comes into full communion soon, though it seems his heart is already there.”

Although Marc and I will disagree on many (many) things regarding theology, we can at least both agree on what we’re seeing coming from the “evangelical” entertainer, David Crowder.

Marc also wrote an open letter (an open invitation) to David Crowder to invite hm to finally “enter into full communion with the Holy Catholic Church.”

Because of Crowder’s most recent album, Marc has said that he finds himself “in one of the most incredible moments of my music-loving, Christ-worshipping, Roman Catholic existence” and that “To the Christian, this is awesome. To the Catholic, well, this is freaking fantastic.”

Here is an excerpt from Marc’s article regarding Crowder’s latest album, an album that has at least one Roman Catholic all abuzz:

“So when your album started with a man walking into a Church, and the voice of a priest saying ‘Grant them eternal rest, Lord, and let perpetual light shine on them…’ (in Latin!) I fairly well freaked out. That prayer is not merely a memory of the dead, it is a prayer for the dead, that they might be granted to enter into Heaven.”

Here is Marc’s invitation to “evangelical” entertainer, David Crowder: 

“Though I’m sure you’ve been invited before — and if not, I take this opportunity to apologize for it — I’d like to invite you to enter into full communion with the Holy Catholic Church. You’ve been in my prayers and the prayers of my friends for some time now. We heard when you said that many ‘of the Catholic traditions and writings have been influential in [your] formation of faith,’ and about your love for St. Francis when you granted LifeTeen an interview, and we got pretty pumped.”

So, I guess I wasn’t alone with what I concluded in that interview David Crowder gave to LifeTeen; even Marc and some of his Roman Catholic friends understood it and have not only been praying for Crowder, but were “pretty pumped” by what Crowder said. It’s the cultural Christians who have their fingers in their ears and their eyes slammed shut refusing to examine whether or not the CCM emperor is wearing clothes.

I also find it ironic that the very first comment Marc received on his open invitation to David Crowder came from a Roman Catholic who claims to have actually worked with David Crowder and his band, and knows them on a personal level. This commenter scolded Marc, informing him that he’s not giving David Crowder enough credit for his Romainst leanings:

“I’m a Catholic who’s worked with the Crowder band up until their recent retirement. I was standing there when they walked off stage for the last time in Atlanta two weeks ago, and I know all the guys on a personal level. . . . [Y]ou have absolutely no idea what Dave does or does not know about the Catholic faith. Without that knowledge, I’m finding it hard to understand why you chose to write a manifesto about our faith as if you were telling him things he doesn’t already know. It sounds to me you’ve made an awful lot of assumptions here. Dave has a very healthy knowledge of the Catholic faith. He knows much more than you and others are giving him credit for. When the idea of this album came up, Dave sought out Catholic musician Matt Maher and asked for his input and in depth perspective regarding the Catholic funeral liturgy.”

I’ll conclude with a short video posted on Marc’s blog of David Crowder talking about his latest album, “Give Us Rest or (A Requiem Mass in C [The Happiest of All Keys]),” a video in which the first commenter on Marc’s post wrote:

“Did David Crowder, the renowned Protestant musician, just use the words ‘Liturgy’ ‘Latin’ ‘Mass’ and ‘Eucharist’ in that video??! I’m failing to see how this could lead anywhere other than into the welcoming arms of Holy Mother Church.”


Sermon of the Week: “What’s a Thousand Years Among Friends?” by Kim Riddlebarger

Dispensationalism? Premillennialism? The Rapture? A 1000 year reign on earth? Amillennialism? The kingdom is now? This age and the age to come?

What is this all about. Controversy and serious disagreements swirl endlessly around the study and beliefs of the End Times. In this lecture, Dr. Kim Riddlebarger poses a logical, Biblical, and literal argument for the Amillennial Two Age Model. With an honest listen, this should give all dispensational/premil folks reason to pause and examine their view a little closer. The Two Age Model is a LITERAL and BIBLICAL doctrine related to the End Times that overwhelmingly supports the Amillennial position and leaves dispensationalism looking for proof texts. Dr. Riddlebarger delivers this lecture in an enjoyable and understandable way with great respect and honor towards the Dispy brothers that he disagrees with. Enjoy!

Sermon Audio Link for Lecture here: What’s a Thousand Years Among Friends?

Dr. Kim Riddlebarger is pastor of Christ Reformed Church in Anaheim, California. He is visiting professor of systematic theology at Westminster Seminary California and a frequent contributor to Tabletalk and Modern Reformation. Among his publications are A Case for Amillenialism: Understanding the End Times, and The Man of Sin. Kim also edits the Riddleblog devoted to Reformed theology and eschatology. Kim is also one of the hosts of the White Horse Inn Radio Program with Michael Horton, Rod Rosenbladt, and Ken Jones.

Kim’s blog:    www.riddleblog.com

White Horse Inn

Kim’s book

Pagan Christianity?

I was given the task of reading and reviewing this book as part of a project at my church. Frank Viola is aggressive in defending his perspective; if you want his view you can easily find one or more of his blogs. With that short introduction, here’s my lengthy review.

Pagan Christianty?

By Frank Viola and George Barna

Reviewed by Stuart L. Brogden

The thesis statement of this book is found in the Preface, written by Viola, on page xix: “we intend to show how that organism (the first century church) was devoid of so many things we embrace today” and on page xx: “We are seeking to remove a great deal of debris in order to make room for the Lord Jesus Christ to be the fully functioning head of His church.”

In the Preface, he repeatedly refers to “the contemporary church” as their foil – no doubt most reformed Christians would also take issue with many things done in that name. Reinforcing what I infer as a mystical view of God and Truth revealed in the thesis, Viola tells us, “the New Testament vision of church best represents the dream of God.” and “The normative practices of the first-century church were the natural and spontaneous expression of the divine life that indwelt the early Christians.” (page xix) Their mystical view of the body of Christ is fully spelled out later in the book. Also on page xix, the author’s beloved “organic church” is described thusly: “An organic church is simply a church that is born out of spiritual life instead of constructed by human institutions and held together by religious programs. Organic churches are characterized by Spirit-led, open-participatory meetings and nonhierarchical leadership.” We will see that “Spirit-led” means “everyone doing what seems right in their own eyes”. In the delving Deeper section on page xxxi we are told that their “goal is not to develop a full description of the organic church but only touch on it when necessary.” See – we get explicit wrong-doings by the contemporary and institutional church but only vague and partial descriptions of the proposed answer to those evils.

Viola shows his misunderstanding of the work of the Holy Spirit of God, ascribing (page xix) His actions as “the natural and spontaneous expression of the divine life that indwelt the early Christians”. The Bible is clear that God is a God of order, not chaos; He is not a natural expression of what is in man (Psalms 50:21). He is not “spontaneous” – acting on whimsy; He has planned and has ordered all things to the fulfillment of His plans (Psalms 135:6 and Ephesians 1:11).

In Barna’s Introduction, we discover the authors see themselves – and the Lord Jesus – as Revolutionaries, working to correct the centuries-long trial of errors foisted upon us by religious men. He rightly identifies legitimate problems in many churches (mega-churches, satellite campuses, affinity and age segregated groups, etc.) on page xxvii – and then reveals that this book is our trustworthy guide to find out God’s will for the church. He concludes by telling us that he wants the reader “to think carefully and biblically about how you practice your faith with other Christians.” Barna concludes with, “We pray that this book will help you to do your part in straightening out the crooked path of the contemporary church.” We shall see.

The “Jesus” of the OC is manifested by “open sharing” in all church meetings – this is the normative method that “is completely scriptural”, especially if the only scripture one reads is 1 Corinthians 14:26 – 29. They have an unbiblical view of Jesus Christ and an unbiblical view of the church – which they consider (page xxviii) to be “Himself in a different form. This is the meaning of the phrase “the body of Christ”.” Deep in the appendix, on page 268, we read, “When each member of His body shares his or her portion of Christ, then Christ is assembled.”

Wayne Grudem sheds a better light on this concept on page 858 of his Systematic Theology: “In 1 Corinthians 12 the whole body is taken as a metaphor for the church, because Paul speaks of the “ear” and the “eye” and the “sense of smell” (1 Cor 12:16 – 17). In this metaphor, Christ is not viewed as the head joined to the body, because the individual members are themselves the individual parts of the head. Christ is in the metaphor the Lord who is “outside” of that body that represents the church and is the one whom the church serves and worships.” There are, as Grudem goes to point out, different uses of the word “body” as a metaphor for the church – the context in which each metaphor is used reveals its meaning. Barna and Viola appear to hold to the Roman Catholic view of the church as the “continuing incarnation” of Christ rather than properly viewing Christ as reigning in heaven in addition to dwelling among us. As for the biblical view of the church, one cannot comprehend that unless one studies the Pastoral Epistles – and there’s no indication the authors have even read them.

Consistently in this book, the method of “proving” their case builds on setting up a straw man they call the “institutional church” (IC) – a seemingly equivalent term for the “contemporary church” – and presenting an ill-defined “organic church” (OC) as the only Christ-honoring alternative. This IC straw man is constructed from mostly undocumented sources of history, which reflect the main line record of the Roman Catholic Church. There is no evidence that the remnant of God which did not follow Rome (as in Andrew Miller’s Church History) was ever considered by the authors – for therein one would find local churches without many of the errors that have crept into most churches since ~ 400AD. Too many reformed churches have forgotten “Semper Reformda!”, stagnating in partial reform that still has a lot in common with Rome. These present day vestiges of Rome ought to be critiqued and Protestants should repent and reform to the Biblical model. Some of this book’s critique rightly applies to some churches, but does not warrant the radical, semi-biblical approach advocated.

Continue reading

The more things change, the more they stay the same at the Crystal Cathedral.

From the Christian Post:

The Rev. Robert H. Schuller, founder of the historic Crystal Cathedral Ministries in Garden Grove, Calif., has spoken out about the sale of the church to a Roman Catholic diocese, reassuring concerned observers that the church’s beliefs are not going to suddenly change.

“The Roman Catholic Church isn’t going to change its theologies,” Schuller said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times published Sunday. “I trust them.”

The ministry’s decision to sell the famous building to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange County raised some controversy at first. In the Sunday interview, the 85-year-old minister said he has always respected the Roman Catholic faith and considers it the “mother church.”

Read the rest of the article, Robert Schuller Trusts Catholic Church With Crystal Cathedral, here.

What’s in a list of names?

If you are like me, you tend to not pay close attention to lists of names when you come across them in your Bible reading. Yes, those people are important to God, some lists demonstrate important lineages. There is a list which is not an important lineage – in Romans 16. This was the text for the sermon in my church yesterday, and I was (and still am) amazed at the richness of the Bible and the amazing grace and love Christ poured out for His people. May the Word of God dwell richly in you and may you love His people – because of His great love for you. That is the message of Romans 16:3-16.

For the glory of God and the good of His people.

 

 

It’s a Girl – Kill It!

While doing some research on a completely different subject, I found a site that was and continues to be overwhelming to the senses. It advertises a new documentary coming out entitled, “It’s a Girl!”

Baby Clip Art

I have never personally met a parent that did not wait with joy to hear those words, or words equally as poignant, “It’s a Boy!” All the parents I have met have been thankful that a safe delivery has been made and they will now begin the transition of raising that little one whether it is a boy or a girl.

This documentary begins with a culture that in many ways I cannot fathom, yet, I should because it is not really that far removed from the culture in which we live here in the West. The first words heard in short trailer for the documentary notes, “Today, India and China eliminate more girls than the number of girls born in America every year!”

One interviewee notes, “But what this is, is an entire system, a social machinery that says, ‘We don’t want females.’”

A distraught couple are shown speaking about the birth of their new baby and the father describing the marks around the little girl’s neck. She had been strangled!

Continue reading

What if…?

What if life really evolved over millions and billions of years? If it did, then the Word of God is not actually infallible and inerrant. If it did, then God Himself is proclaimed to be a liar, and further, a god who is a liar would be a non-existent entity.

What if humans are merely another species of animal that has evolved? If we are, again, God’s Word could no longer be trusted. If we are, then we should have no reason to fear death and “the great circle of life.” If we are, then Charles Darwin should be feted with great honor and even worshipped for revealing the truth of who we are to a poor world who for millennium had the audacity to believe God’s Word was true.

What if the Great Flood was actually only something copied from the myths and fables already found in other ancient cultures? If it was, then again, God’s Word is with error for it could not have come from the Holy Spirit. If it was, then mankind need have no fear of the judgment of a God who cannot keep His promise to destroy the wicked. If it was, then the rainbow is merely a quirk of nature, not something given by God as a promise.

What if the children of Israel really are not a people sovereignly protected by the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? If they are not, they have to be some of the luckiest people in the world. If they are not, their should not be any real outcry if a more highly evolved society determines that a lower society in the chain should be exterminated. After all, isn’t the reality of life that is should be based on the survival of the fittest? If they are not, then the promises and covenants established by an everlasting God hold no value, and if they hold no value, then NO promise and NO covenant is to be held in reverence.

What if the Ten Commandments are merely suggestions dreamed up as society has evolved? If they are, the Ten Commandments would have no true value because they define a morality that did not come from a just and holy God. Killing, stealing, and adultery merely become defined by what each society considers them to be for their people. If they are, then there are no absolutes to control the world in which we live.

What if the Word of God really is just a book compiled by men through the ages instead of a book divinely inspired by a holy and righteous God? If it is, then centuries have been wasted studying a book that should hold no more value than the works of Plato, Homer, or Shakespeare. If it is, then it is full of lies that drive men to worship what they cannot see, to believe what they can never truly know, and to trust in a God that is untrustable.

What if Jesus Christ was merely a good man as taught by many religions?

What if Jesus Christ was merely a good teacher and prophet as taught by the Muslims?

What if Jesus Christ did not provide full atonement on the Cross as taught by the Mormons?

What if Jesus Christ was not the Saviour of mankind?

What if Jesus Christ is not coming again one day in the clouds of glory?

What if Jesus Christ is not the eternal, only begotten Son of God as taught by the JW’s?

What if Jesus Christ must be sacrificed over and over again as taught by the Catholics?

What if Jesus Christ is not the ONLY Way, the ONLY Truth, and the ONLY Life?

What if Jesus Christ never really died and rose again on the third day?

If He did not do these things, if He was not all these things, if He will not perform what the Word of God promises He will, if He is not the ONLY Way to heaven, if He really did not die and rise again the third day, if we truly can have no hope in Christ….

Then…

“WE ARE OF ALL MEN MOST MISERABLE!” – 1 Cor. 15:19


1 Cor. 1:18, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”

Top 10 reasons to reject the cult of Word of Faith.

I found the following article at Beyond Grace:

Word-Faith (WOF) teaching, identified with Ken Copeland and Ken Hagin, is the foundation for today’s prophetic/apostolic movement. Several years ago Tricia Tillin wrote an article on the Top Ten Reasons for rejecting Word-of-Faith doctrine.

REASON ONE:
It requires ‘revelation knowledge’.

REASON TWO:
It makes the Almighty God and Creator a weak ‘faith-being’ who is at the mercy of His own universal laws.

REASON THREE:
It makes the Divine Son of God into a born-again man who had to die in Hell to pay the price for our treason.

REASON FOUR:
It elevates man to equality with Jesus.

REASON FIVE:
It makes man a god.

REASON SIX:
It makes the redemption into a restoration of dominion for mankind.

REASON SEVEN:
Its goal is the transformation of the earth by spiritual dominion.

REASON EIGHT:
It replaces prayer with confession, and God’s will with the manipulation of ‘forces’.

REASON NINE:
It denies the reality of sin and sickness.

REASON TEN:
It focuses on self and the world instead of God and Heaven.

 

Quotes (923).

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that infants are forgiven of original sin when a priest pours water over the baby in the sacrament of baptism. There are two serious problems with this practice. First, there is no occurrence of infant baptism in the New Testament, and second, one must believe in Jesus in order to be forgiven. Clearly a baby cannot respond in faith to the Gospel and thus be forgiven.

–          Mike Gendron

Sermon of the Week: “The Centrality of the Cross” by Alistair Begg.

As you browse the sermons available online, on the television, or on the radio, have you grown tired of the drivel that passes itself off for ministry of God’s holy, infallible, inerrant Word? Far too many so-called preachers of today are nothing more than wolves in sheep’s clothing, and they are seeking only to tickle the ears of men.

In my own ministry of the Word, I have appreciated what I have learned from Alistair Begg. This message is part of his available series entitled, “The Pastor’s Study, Volume 2.” While it is labeled as part of a series for pastors, this message is convicting and challenging for all true believers. Your sermon of the week for January 15th is The Centrality of the Cross.

A gospel test for Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The following five questions for Jehovah’s Witnesses, from a tract sold by Personal Freedom Outreach, is a perfect companion to Paul Washer’s witnessing technique to Jehovah’s Witnesses (found here).

Edging even closer to Revelation 13.

My Amillennial friends may not be interested in this, but for the rest of you I thought you’d like to see how much closer we’ve come to Revelation 13.

In his article, Cashless Society: India Implements First Biometric ID Program for all of its 1.2 Billion Residents, Alex Jones writes:

“Over the past few months, I have written several articles dealing with the coming cashless society and the developing technological control grid. I also have written about the surge of government attempts to gain access to and force the use of biometric data for the purposes of identification, tracking, tracing, and surveillance. Unfortunately, the reactions I receive from the general public are almost always the same. While some recognize the danger, most simply deny that governments have the capability or even the desire to create a system in which the population is constantly monitored by virtue of their most private and even biological information. Others, either gripped by apathy or ignorance, cannot believe that the gadgets given to them from the massive tech corporations are designed for anything other than their entertainment and enjoyment.”

Continue reading Jones’ article here.


“And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name.  Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six.”

– Revelation 13:16-18

Walter Martin vs Van Hale debate: “Is Mormonism Christian?”

walter-martin

vs

van-hale

Christian apologist Walter Martin takes on Mormon apologist Van Hale in a debate entitled Is Mormonism Christian? It is another fine job by Walter Martin in defending the faith from those who would seek to pervert it.

Years after this debate, Van Hale publicly announced (in 2005) that he cannot accept the Book of Mormon as real history about real people (see here). I’m not sure if his debate with Dr. Martin helped bring him to that point, but it is an interesting piece of history.

You can download all three parts of this debate here:

Is Mormonism Christian? (Part One)

Is Mormonism Christian? (Part Two)

Is Mormonism Christian? (Part Three)

______________________________________

Check out another great debate between Walter Martin and anti-theist Madalyn Murray O’Hair here.

Atheist hypocrisy (Part 1)

I often hear the lament from anti-theists about Christian hypocrisy as the impetus behind their rejection of God, but rarely is atheist hypocrisy ever mentioned. So let’s look at two glaring hypocrisies of atheism, part one today, and part two coming soon.

________________________________

I recall a time a few years ago when I posted a gospel tract on the community bulletin board of a local coffee shop.

Shortly thereafter, as I sat sipping my hot beverage, a woman in her thirties entered the shop and made her way over to the bulletin board. Upon seeing the tract, she quickly removed it and promptly found a table where she sat and thumbed through the little booklet. Her behavior led me to speculate that she was familiar with what she held in her hands, and I watched from a distance. 

Then this woman took out a pen and began to write on the tract (both the front and rear covers). This greatly piqued my interest of course, and I continued to observe.

A short while later another woman entered the establishment and approached the table where the first woman sat. The second woman greeted the first and the first woman gleefully showed the second woman the cover of the tract. The second woman gave a smirk while the first had a grin ear to ear. She then promptly returned the tract to the bulletin board.

My party and I left at the same time as the two women did but my curiosity got the best of me so I returned to the bulletin board inside the business and retrieved the tract. And there I read what the woman in all her giddy-like-a-school-girl excitement had written on the tract.

On the front:

“There is no God!”

On the back:

“Shame on God!”

There you have it . . . classic anti-theist hypocrisy: “Shame on the very thing I believe doesn’t exist.”

How can someone say on one hand, “There is no God!” then on the other hand say, “Shame on God!”? That is either blatant hypocrisy or a mild case of schizophrenia.

You can’t claim that someone or something doesn’t exist, then offer an opinion on that someone or something. Let me offer an example.

If I said that the Loch Ness Monster does not exist, but then warned you that you should be careful while swimming in Loch Ness because the Monster might get you, would you not be justified in questioning the truthfulness of my original claim that Nessie doesn’t exist?

So I came to the realization that most self-proclaimed atheists aren’t atheists because they disbelieve the existence of God, but it’s simply because they hate Him. They don’t want to be limited or prohibited in their lifestyle choices, nor be confronted with their sin, so they self-inflict a seared conscience upon themselves.

I would prefer if these professing atheists would be upfront and honest about their beliefs and come to terms with the fact that they simply hate God and His laws, instead of hiding behind a pretentious facade of pseudo-intellectualism in their declaration that the very thing they hate does not exist.

A little honesty and candor is all I’m seeking. Is that too much to ask for?


Sermon of the week: “Audacious Grace” by Akash Sant Singh.

Does God’s lavish, unexplainable grace offend you? Does it bother you that His grace can be extended to a wretch such as a serial killer, or is it only good for you?

I am happy to present another powerful and convicting message by Akash Sant Singh as your sermon of the week: God’s Audacious Grace.

BETH MOORE AND JOHN PIPER LEAD LECTIO DIVINA-LITE AT PASSION 2012

BETH MOORE AND JOHN PIPER LEAD LECTIO DIVINA-LITE AT PASSION 2012

By on Jan 6, 2012 in AM Missives, Current Issues, Features, Southern Baptist Convention Note: videos that should make you weep are on Ken’s web site at the link above.

Apprising Ministries has been warning for years concerning the evil effects of the neo-liberal in the Emerging Church aka the Emergent Church.

It’s an incontrovertible fact that right from its hatching in hell corrupt Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM), such as that taught by Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mystic Richard Foster along with his spiritual twin and Southern Baptist minister Dallas Willard, was a core doctrine.

Spreading as a spiritual cancer throughout apostatizing evangelicalism, we even see that it’s slithered all the way into the New Calvinst neo-reformed camp e.g. as in Acts 29 Network And Reformed Counter Reformation Spirituality? One of the fruits of CSM is a blurring of doctrinal lines, which is particularly dangerous in this time of postmodernism and growing spiritual blindness.

It’s also giving rise to a rebirth of Pietism; this isn’t surprising when you consider that CSM flowered in the antibiblical monastic traditions of apostate Roman Catholicism. As the evangelical fad of CSM expands there’s a decided charismania also developing, which is producing a syncretism where Word Faith heretics like Joel Osteen and T.D. Jakes are essentially considered mainstream now. With all of this has come more and more people claiming to have direct experience with God.

The end result is making the climate more condusive for things like Beth Moore Recommending “Jesus Calling” Book Claiming Direct Divine Revelation. This is the backdrop upon which to better see what’s happening as you watch the video clips to follow below from the Passion 2012 Conference. This conference has been going on in Atlanta, and was largely aimed at young adults and students.

Hosted by Louis Giglio, pastor of Passion City Church in Atlanta, Passion featured an interesting lineup of speakers such Francis Chan, Beth Moore and New Calvinist mentor John Piper. Not surpisingly the conference had a distinctive charismatic and even contemplative flair; e.g. prayer walking. After one session the crowd was urged to break into “love groups” and go out to pray and “take back the city of Atlanta.”

Years of emerging bombardment of pro-CSM propaganda aimed at younger sectors of the Christian community fired right out of evangelical publishing houses has also had much effect upon the broader culture of the more charismatic/emotion-driven side of the church visible as well. To serve as an illustration, below we have SBC Lifeway-sponsored Beth Moore praising an apostate (at best) Roman Catholic mystic and the crown jewel of CSM.

If you didn’t know, this is a form of meditation in an altered state of consciousness commonly known as Contemplative/Centering Prayer (CCP):

Moore’s admitted practice of some form of CCP, which is actually divination, has opened her up to even receive direct revelation and visions from God. Below from a 2002 series called Believing God, available right now at Lifeway’s website, Moore describes a vision God gave her concerning His Church.

Sounding not too unlike Word Faith wingnuts she tells us God took her into some kind of dimension where she was able to see the Body of Christ as Jesus sees it:

Apparently the Protestant Reformation was really some sort of horrible mistake because Moore’s Jesus sees the Roman Catholic Church as another Christian denomination. This becomes clear below as Moore demonstrates what she saw in her vision from God:

Yet despite this obviously false vision ten years ago, there was Beth Moore preaching to thousands alongside New Calvinists John Piper and Francis Chan. I guess we really should expect this because Piper has told us before: “I’m Happy To Learn From Beth Moore.”

Who knows, perhaps he even shares Moore’s view that men like John MacArthur are guilty of teaching extreme error in the Body of Christ:

By the way, the other extreme teaching in the Body of Christ that Beth Moore sees is what she calls “sensationalism.” Something I personally think she’s now become involved in. The CSM being dabbled with now in mainstream evangelicalism is producing a rebirth of Pietism; an emotional, sentimental, emotion-driven form of worship. What you saw at Passion 2012.

Christian apologist Bob DeWaay is dead-on-target as he explains:

Pietism is difficult to define because it can be taught and practiced in an unlimited number of ways. Some versions appear to be innocuous while others are so radical that most people would see that something is wrong. I now know that no version of pietism is actually innocuous. If a teaching is called pietism but teaches no more than what God has always used to sanctify Christians, then it is not really pietism. Real pietism always harms those who embrace it.

The essence of pietism is this: It is a practice designed to lead to an experience that purports to give one an elite or special status compared to ordinary Christians. The Bible addresses this error in the book of Colossians. The false teachers in Colossae claimed to have the secret to a superior Christian experience that would cause people to rise above the bad “fate” they feared. Paul went on to explain that they already had everything they needed through Christ and His work on the cross. Another way of stating this is: If after having fully trusted Christ’s finished work on the cross, you are told that you are still lacking something, you are being taught pietism.

Church history is littered with misguided pietistic movements. Many of them are linked with mysticism… Pietism can be practiced many ways including enforced solitude, asceticism of various forms, man made religious practices, legalism, submission to human authorities who claim special status, and many other practices and teachings.
(Online source)

In closing this, for now, I’ll show you something that gives us real cause for concern in the seeming dangerous drift of Beth Moore and John Piper. Following are clips from Session 5 of Passion 2012 where we were to enter into the silence to let God speak to us, not only through Scripture, but directly inside of us as well. However, this is language actually straight out of CSM and can also refer to the TM-lite of CCP.

Beth Moore, John Piper et al each took turns reading from the Book of Ephesians; then they each would ask for silence and say something along the lines of: “Be still and let Jesus speak to you.” This is Beth Moore:

Now John Piper:

Finally, here’s Louis Giglio closing out Session 5. Any doubt about what’s been going on in the silence is dispelled at :20 below. To all but the most naive it will become clear to you that, contra the proper Christian spirituality of sola Scriptura, Giglio is talking about direct encounters with God in addition to Holy Scriptura:

“How many of you heard the voice of God speak specifically, clearly, directly, and personally, to you? Can you just put a hand up? I’d like you to share it. Can you put a hand up for a minute?

Just want you to look around; that’s people saying, “God Almighty (pause) the Maker of heaven (pause) the one Who’s sitting on the only throne (pause) that’s not under threat (long pause, audience cheers)—He spoke to me. He spoke to me.”

“God spoke to me.” (long pause) Don’t let the voice of the darkness, tell you that you are not (pause) worth (pause) that God would not speak to you. (pause) Don’t let him tell you, you don’t matter. (pause) God spoke to you.

Perhaps this is why more and more in the charismatic camp have been embracing the Roman Catholic Church as another Christian denomination; like Rome, they now also have the Bible…plus…

 

See also:

THE PUSH FOR A ROMAN CATHOLIC DENOMINATION AND THE SBC’S RUSSELL MOORE

CHARLES SPURGEON: THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH IS THE MASTERPIECE OF SATAN AND THE QUEEN OF INIQUITY

LET’S LOOK AT THE GOSPEL

Film Recommendation: “Courageous”

A few months ago I had the opportunity to be part of an effort to extend invitations of a free viewing of the movie “Courageous” to local law enforcement agencies in my area. As a result, over a hundred individuals were able to watch the gospel centered film by Sherwood Pictures and Tristar. Once again, on New Years Eve, my church opened its doors to the public to show this film for free. I must say that these efforts were well worth it and I highly recommend this film to everyone.

“Courageous” is a film which centers primarily around four law enforcement officers who must deal with a tragedy in their lives. The synopsis provided by the Sherwood Pictures website states:

Four men, one calling: To serve and protect. As law enforcement officers, Adam Mitchell, Nathan Hayes, David Thomson, and Shane Fuller are confident and focused. Yet at the end of the day, they face a challenge that none of them are truly prepared to tackle: fatherhood.

While they consistently give their best on the job, good enough seems to be all they can muster as dads. But they’re quickly discovering that their standard is missing the mark.

When tragedy hits home, these men are left wrestling with their hopes, their fears, their faith, and their fathering. Can a newfound urgency help these dads draw closer to God … and to their children?

Filled with action-packed police drama, COURAGEOUS is the fourth film from Sherwood Pictures, the moviemaking ministry of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia. Viewers will once again find themselves laughing, crying, and cheering as they are challenged and inspired by everyday heroes who long to be the kinds of dads that make a lifelong impact on their children.

Protecting the streets is second nature to these men. Raising their children in a God-honoring way? That’s courageous.”

As a law enforcement officer of thirteen years, I can attest to the strain and stress the job brings into our lives, and the effect it has on our families. “Courageous” addresses how fathers in this field can be in the home, yet fail to in our children’s lives. Additionally, it brings a Christ centered answer to what it means to be a father, not just spending time with our children, but raising them to be then men and women God has called them to be.

While this film addresses the issue of biblical fatherhood from a law enforcement perspective, it’s message transcends that arena and addresses fathers in all walks of life. I recommend that Christians watch this film for the very fact that it addresses something our modern day cultures loathes to admit, that fathers are needed in the home, that children need to learn under their tutelage and that God has called men everywhere to raise up the next generation to love and honor the Lord.

This film releases to DVD and Blu-ray on January 17, 2012. Please take the time to purchase, rent or borrow this film and watch it. It is most definitely worth it.

A Case for the Pre-Existence of the Son of God

A Case for the Pre-Existence of the Son of God

Defining Who is the Son of God and Proving His Eternal Existence

INTRODUCTION

            Over two-thousand years ago in the small village of Bethlehem, made famous as the boyhood home of King David (1 Sam 16:1, 17:12, Luke 2:4), a baby was born. Only a few miles from Jerusalem, the epicenter of the Jewish religious culture of the time, this baby would grow up amidst swirling controversy regarding who he was. Who is this child? He would be called many things, however, one title condemned him for blasphemy by the High Priest Caiaphas and the Council of scribes and elders who arrested and tried him and led to his execution (Mt 26:37, Mt 26:62-66, Jn 19:7). The question came from Caiaphas, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus answered directly, “You have said so.”You have stated the truth. Caiaphas tore his clothes[1] – a forbidden act by the High Priest – as a display of extreme grief for blasphemy.[2] Jesus claimed to be the Son of God and he was executed for it.

            We have the advantage on this side of the cross, two-thousand years later, with the aid of Holy Scripture to see that Jesus was in fact the Son of God (Jn 1:1-14) and was wrongly executed by the council in a purely legal point of view. However, Jesus is God and his mission was to come to earth and be executed as a sacrifice for the sins of the children of God (Ephesians 1-2, Phil 2:5-8, Col 1:11-22, 1 Pet 1:2). Although we now have great hope in Christ, the Son of God, controversy still swirls around who he is. Several religions that claim the name of Jesus do not consider him to be God, such as the LDS and Jehovah Witnesses, but they consider Him to be a created being. Within the orthodox Christian circles Jesus is known to be God, but there is disagreement on whether or not he has been God for all eternity. Did the Son of God exist eternally, outside time and space, as the Son before he was born in the form of man before born as the baby Jesus, born of Mary? Or was it at the incarnation that Jesus came into being by becoming man generated by the Father?

            I propose that the evidence proving the Son of God’s pre-existence before the incarnation is overwhelming and inarguable for not only LDS and Jehovah Witnesses[3], but also for all within the Christian faith. Before proposing the evidence supporting the pre-existence of the Son of God, a brief description of the opposition is in order.

 

OPPOSITION TO THE PRE-EXISTENCE OF THE SON OF GOD

            The opposition to who Jesus is and what it means for Him to be the Son of God has been argued since Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Many false doctrines were found in the early church, towards which Jesus’ beloved disciple John wrote his entire Gospel and epistles to refute (John 20:31), the Apostle Paul worked diligently to correct through his many epistles and missionary journeys (Rom 8:1-4, Col 1:15-20), as well as Peter and the writer of Hebrews (1 Peter 1:20, 2 Peter 1:16-21, Heb 1:1-3). The eternality of the Son, as the second person of the Trinity was so hotly contested a few hundred years after the incarnation that the Nicene Council developed the Nicene Creed to establish a proper view on the Son and to distance themselves from the modalistic theology of Sabellianism[4] and the argument by the Arians[5] of the day that insisted that the Son of God was a created being.

            Centuries later new religions arose which claimed the name of Jesus Christ, yet they did not attribute deity or pre-existence to him. In the early 1800’s, Joseph Smith founded the Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints, claiming that the Son of God was merely a created being and Lucifer’s brother.[6] In the 1870’s Jehovah Witnesses arose who teach Jesus is no more than the archangel Michael[7], another created being. The LDS and the Jehovah Witness religions are rightly consider by professing Christians to be cultic and not a denomination within the protestant faith.

Another high profile stream of incorrect teaching regarding the Son of God has invaded the charismatic denominations. In particular, the televangelist T.D. Jakes with his “oneness” Pentecostal faith, author of over 30 books many of which have been on the NY Times Bestseller List, has had a worldwide stage for many years and teaches that Jesus is the Father, Jesus is the Son, and Jesus is the Holy Spirit and that the doctrine of the Trinity is in fact a polytheistic heresy[8]. Although no credible theologian would give Jakes theology thirty seconds of consideration, the average Christian is easily fooled by the TV shows, bestselling books, and charismatic personality. These fallacies are as important to refute as what the Fathers of the Nicene Creed were fighting against 1700 years ago.

            More interesting even yet, and much closer to home, is the change that John MacArthur has transitioned through only a decade ago. MacArthur, one of America’s greatest teachers and preachers, released an article in 2001 stating:

“…I want to state publicly that I have abandoned the doctrine of ‘incarnational sonship.’ Careful study and reflection have brought me to understand that Scripture does indeed present the relationship between God the Father and Christ the Son as an eternal Father-Son Relationship. I know longer regard Christ’s sonship as a role He assumed in His incarnation.”[9]

MacArthur’s abandonment of this doctrine through careful study of the Scriptures signals to us that there is a vital need for careful study and reflection on the Scriptures by every believer, even for every respected teacher, preacher, and theologian. Let us now turn to carefully considering what the Bible says about the relationship between God the Father and God the Son.

EVIDENCE OF THE PRE-EXISTENCE OF THE SON OF GOD

            Ten proofs regarding the pre-existence of Jesus Christ as the Son of God and second person in the Trinity need careful consideration.

Proof (1): I Am. The most basic proof of Jesus Christ’s pre-existence as the Son of God, and an assumption that must be made at the outset, is his divinity. Jesus being fully God implies his eternality. We see from the “I am” (egō eimi) statements found in Jesus’ own words, that He is claiming to be equal to God, the Father. In chapter 8 of John’s gospel, Jesus provides a direct claim to deity and pre-existence through the most notable “I am” statement.  Jesus tells the Jews, “If anyone who keeps my word, he will never taste death,” (Jn 8:52, ESV). The Jews fire back at Jesus by asking if he is greater than Abraham. After all, Abraham died and so did all the other prophets of God. So how can this man claim to have power over death? How can he speak with authority regarding Abraham as if he knows him? Jesus, they argue isn’t even fifty years old, how can he have seen Abraham?[10] Jesus then makes the claim to deity and pre-existence: “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am,” (Jn 8:58, ESV). Continue reading