Recalling Liberia

Long time readers will know that I have had a love for the people of Liberia for many years. In fact, I have been involved with Liberia longer than I have been writing for Defending Contending. The older I become, it seems the faster the years go.

Nine years ago, I was recovering from a debilitating illness while pastoring in England. I was contacted by a man who later proved to be a scammer. However, it was not until I had flown from England to the steaming jungles of West Africa that I realized that I was in a very dangerous situation. Still, the Lord showed His grace and love and protection. During that trip, I was brought to love these Africans who were, and still are, in need of a Savior.

Many of you also know that our family moved to Liberia in 2012 only to have to return six months later. It was supposed to be a permanent trip, but one of my daughters and I contracted a severe case of malaria. I actually contracted malaria and typhoid two different times in less than three months.

During the intervening years since our return, I often wonder what our lives would be like had we been able to remain. We could have been there during the outbreak of Ebola which claimed the lives of several thousand including some Christian brothers and sisters that we personally knew. We could have been there for the first baptisms that took place in the villages of Foloblai and Tamayta where we started two mission works. We could have been there when Cyrus Smith began his first work in the village of Dentaa. We could have been there when the first Biblical marriages took place. There are many things we could have seen and been involved with.

However, today the work that God graciously, and in His sovereignty, only allowed us to plant seeds for continues to flourish and grow without the white missionary. The Bible Institute of Church Ministries still continues to train jungle pastors to teach the people of their village churches. Baptisms continue to take place as testimony is shared of the saving grace of God. Lives are still being changed. Another church plant is getting ready to take place under the guidance of Cyrus Smith.

The short time in Liberia still makes a difference in our lives today. We are thankful for every experience — the dangers, the lack of food and provisions at times, the fellowship of fellow missionaries who had no idea what we had or didn’t have, the prayers of family and friends through the dark nights when death was so close at hand, the village chief (Cyrus Smith) who surrendered all and became my Timothy, but most of all, the privilege of having served the Lord in a country where so many still need the Lord.

My prayer is that you will enjoy these pictures. They are not the best quality, but they represent a work that grows despite all the opposition. They represent part of my heart, but more importantly, these pictures show a Church and Bible Institute growing to the glory of God.

The Pastor – Chapter 6, The Use of Titles

How men love titles! Does your “pastor” like to be called “doctor” or even “pastor”? Are such titles biblical for the gathered people of God? The Solaauthor gives this peek into today’s message:

Now to grasp another nettle. Titles. The New Testament never uses any title for any man in the church. What is more, it categorically forbids it. Nowadays, however, most Christians do use titles – or one in particular – and do so without turning a hair, even though it contradicts Christ’s plain command. Complaining of the scribes and Pharisees who loved ‘to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them “Rabbi”’, Christ said: But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi’, for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call any one on earth ‘father’, for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called ‘teacher’, for you have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted (Matt. 23:1-12). But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for one is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. Do not call any one on earth your father… And do not be called teachers… But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted (NKJV).

Chapter 6 can be found here.

Chapter 5 is here.

Tattoos of Faith?

And you thought the last one was bad? Laodicea would be a strong, vibrant, Christ-honoring body of believers today compared to what we are seeing taking place throughout so-called evangelicalism.

While this short post is not about whether it is sinful for a Christian to get a tattoo, there is certainly some consideration that must be given to when and why this is done. Take for example the link below that shows a church social club that decided to incorporate the stunt of getting a tattoo into the Sunday morning series of sermons entertainment modules.

http://www.kmbc.com/news/Church-offers-tattoos-during-Sunday-services/20035454

tattoo

The standout quotes by the professional tattoo artist who set up shop right on the platform, and the pastor, shows the results of what happens when you divorce the truth of the gospel from your messages.

MANY PEOPLE WANT TO USE A FORM A FORM OF FAITH THEY CAN ONLY USE SUNDAY..AND NOT USE MONDAY THROUGH SATURDAY. WHERE AS YOU GET INKED BY GOD ITS PERMANENT IT AIN’T COMING OFF…[TATTOOS ARE] FAITH IN THE FORM OF AN UNWASHABLE DEDICATION AND COMMITMENT TO JESUS.

Give me four years to teach the children…

Vladimir Lenin infamously declared, “Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.” The national indoctrinationgovernment of this country, formerly known as these United States of America, wants our children from age 5 – 18, 22 if they can get it. Do we think this education is morally neutral? Or is there a system within and of the world that works iniquity and never sleeps?

Colin Gunn has published a movie that aims to educate Americans about the dangers of government education. Parents are not to be condemned but educated about this arena. To that end, Gunn offers this movie for free viewing from 22 – 31 December.

Here’s a note from Colin:

This season, as people spend time at home together, we hope that families will take the time to watch and share our movie with loved ones, especially those that need to hear the truth about the American public school system and decide whether they should continue using them.

Even in the last few years we have seen a dramatic decline in the school system making our message all the more urgent. We’ve recently seen astonishing moves by the educational establishment, with the Department of Education’s full-on support of the Supreme Court ruling on homosexual marriage, and in recent months, a significant campaign to normalize transgender lifestyles to our youth. The public schools have gone from bad to worse, and there are no excuses left.

Now is the time to act.Please take the time to share our message through your emails and social networks. Go here: www.watchindoctrination.com/free

I pray you take the time to watch the movie. Don’t allow the prince of the air to rule your children. Be informed and prepared.

Preparing for Jesus’ Coming

I wonder what it was like to live before Jesus was born. The prophets had foretold His birth and encouraged people to be ready, but I wonder how many took the prophecy seriously. Maybe it seemed like one of those tales they had heard their whole lives so, even if it would become true some day, it most likely wouldn’t be in their lifetime.

 

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I expect that people then were very much like they are today. The difference is that, today, we know He came. He lived, He died, He rose. But He also promised to come again! Are we watching, making sure that we are ready for His return? Or we are going through life with a vague recollection that He said He would return, but it probably won’t be for a long time yet?

Although that may be true, we need to live as if He were coming today. So many missed His first coming. I do not want to be among those who are not ready for Jesus’ second coming.

As you celebrate this week, think about how much we truly have to celebrate. God so loved you that He gave His Son, and one day, we will get to see Him face to face. Lord, hasten that day!

The Farce is Strong With This One

No, the title is NOT a misprint or a misspelling. The below link is from The Guardian newspaper.

Star Wars Sunday

A church social club in Berlin, Germany has decided that the truth is irrelevant. However, I have to assume that it is a sign of the times. If you have no desire to draw anything but goats to a service, then you have to use what goats like. After all, using the unadulterated truth of the Scriptures just doesn’t draw crowds these days.

lukewarmpicTwo quotes in the article stood out to me. The first from one of the pastors hirelings. “They trust us to make them part of the church service without making it too Christian or too Star Wars, but to find a good compromise.” (emphasis is mine)

The second from an attender.

Scott McGuire, sporting a Chewbacca costume, said he planned to see the movie later. “I think the whole question of God is very interesting, but getting up early on a Sunday is one of those things. But for something like this, I’ll go,” he said.

However, is it really any different than Hillsong Church that decided to produce the blasphemous 1920 flapper style version of “Silent Night”?

WARNING — This version of Silent Night from Hillsong may require much eyewash, but the damage to your eyesight and brain may be permanent.

 

Peace That Passes All Understanding

As we grow older, life does not get any easier. Not only do we find ourselves concerned about the regular cares of the world, but now we have children and grandchildren that must be taken into account. In the midst of a world that is rocked with scandal, pain, wars, and turmoil, it is so easy to find ourselves distracted and overwhelmed by the world. It seems that our little lives can also be torn apart with strife in our families. These times simply show that we are fallen creatures of clay who have been saved by grace.

Our desires should not be for this world but to realize we are just passing through. Soon enough will come a day where like Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress, we will dip our feet in the waters of death as we prepare to go to the other side where we will be forever with our Lord and those saints who have gone before. What a glorious day that will be.

Although the pain in our hearts is very real, there are many who have suffered much more than most of us will ever experience. Such a person was Horatio Spafford, who wrote the words to a well-loved hymn called, “It is Well With My Soul.” This man suffered greatly with the loss of four children at once through the sinking of a ship that was enroute across the Atlantic Ocean. This beautiful hymn was written by Spafford as he journeyed to meet his wife in Europe on the next ship. Crossing over the spot where the ship entombing his daughters was, Spafford, with the strength of the Lord, wrote with full assurance in the God of his salvation that “It was well with his soul.”

No matter what struggles or pain you and I may endure today, there will always be a peace that passes all understanding. Only those who rejoice in Jesus Christ and know Him as personal Savior can reiterate with Paul that there is nothing in life or death that can separate us from the love of God.

Family and friends may forsake us and foes may assail us, but His love will endure forever. I am thankful that today I can ask with the Psalmist in 116:15, “What shall I render to the LORD for all His benefits towards me? I will take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the LORD.”

For those who remain friends, you are a blessing and an encouragement. May you be encouraged with the words of these two hymns today.

 

A napkin, a pen, and a Bible verse to prove the deity of Christ.

image“Years ago I read the following simple but effective illustration from Greg Koukl on how to use a napkin, a pen, and a Bible verse to show a Jehovah’s Witness that Scripture teaches (even in their own translation) that Jesus must be God. Greg, who is the president of Stand to Reason and the author of one of my favorite books on reasoning with unbelievers, kindly granted permission to reprint the explanation below. I hope you find it helpful.”

Read the entire article here

Sorry, Still Wrong

Yes, just as Todd Bentley who showed up again, so also, it has not taken long for Mark Driscoll to jump back into the limelight again. We knew this would take place sooner rather than later.  Sadly, far too many who claim the name of Christ are willing to show a gross lack of discernment by following the ministries of people like Bentley and Driscoll.

Less than one year after his fall from Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Mark has decided that he needed to move to a warmer climate in Phoenix, Arizona where he has filed papers to start a new religious establishment called “The Trinity Church.” In case, you may have missed all the kerfuffle in recent times, this is the same Mark, who reveled in being known as the cussing pastor. This is the same man who was obsessed with pornographic visions of people in his “church” that supposedly came from God. Yes, this is the same man who plagiarized and bought his own books with funds not his own in order to push up his book sales on the best-seller lists.

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A website detailing far too much to reiterate at DefCon can be found here at The Mark Driscoll Controversy website.  We have repeatedly sought to give warning about Driscoll and will continue to do so as we feel that it is necessary.

For the record, here at DefCon, we do not now, nor have we in the past, nor will we in the future endorse or support any aspect of a man who has repeatedly chosen to mock the God of the Bible. My recommendation to those reading who think that Driscoll is a man of God is to pray for much discernment so you will quickly be able to see what this man was all about, and still is.

This is a man that needs much prayer. Prayer that he will truly repent of what he has said and done in the past. Prayer that people will not blindly follow him as they did under the Mars Hill Empire. Prayer that God will continue to raise up godly men to proclaim the truth of God’s Word whether it is liked or not.

The Importance of Communicating Well

Communication. Everyone knows that this is important in relationships, but many don’t seem to know how to communicate well. Or maybe they just don’t want to take the time to do so. Communication is more than just talking; it’s also important that you weigh your words and deliver them in such a way that the hearer will not only hear, but will also understand what is being said and will receive it with thanksgiving that you had the conversation.

The way you say things can make a person smile, or it can make them defensive and angry. It can let them know you love them, or they may feel like you don’t.

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Because this can be hard to accomplish, some give up and decide to let a lot slide, regardless of how they feel, but this is not the answer. Instead, you need to ask God to help you to “let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt” (Colossians 4:6). Be willing to admit when you are wrong and, if you are confronting someone about something they are doing wrong, do it humbly, realizing that you are not always right either.

I think true humility is one of the hardest things for humans to achieve, including Christians. Everyone wants to be liked and thought well of. When someone tears us down and, in our mind, makes us look bad in front of others, our flesh rises to the surface. This is one reason we must not do this to others.

Maybe you were hurt recently by something someone said or did. Or maybe you see someone making a major mistake and you feel you need to talk to them. Take time to pray until God’s love fills your heart for that other person. This can make all the difference. Without love, you are like a “sounding brass or tinkling cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1). In other words, you are easier to ignore.

Relationships are important. They are the only thing we will take to Heaven with us (assuming they are in Christ). Do not take them for granted. Do not let pride cause them to disintegrate. A good friend (or spouse) is hard to find. When you find them, you must fight for (not with) them! The enemy wants to do everything he can to tear God’s people apart but, if you are faithful to fight against his tactics, you will find overcoming victory, and God will perform an even greater work in and through you, as well as give you stronger relationships that will last through the fiercest storms.

The Pastor – Chapter 5, Four NT Words Misused

Note from the author:  Sola

I closed the previous chapter by saying that the widespread corruption of the New Testament system of church care and government has come about, in part at least, because believers have taken four New Testament words and changed – warped – their meaning. The words in question are pastor, minister, clergy and ordain. I realise several other words have been contaminated beyond recognition – ‘bishop’ among them – but I am trying to get to the root of the problem as it exists among Reformed and evangelical churches – dissenters in the main; in other words, nonepiscopalians. ‘Bishop’ does not seem to be a problem in such churches. But ‘pastor’, ‘minister’, ‘clergy ’ and ‘ordain’ are.

Chapter 5 is found here: http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=11614140241

Chapter 4 is here: http://defendingcontending.com/2015/12/06/the-pastor-chapter-4-attempted-recovery/

The Pastor – Chapter 4, Attempted Recovery

From the author:

We take up the story at the start of the 16th century with Martin Luther. But before we do, let us remember that protest against the mutilation of Christ’s church was not unknown during the dark ages. Men and, no doubt, women – men like Claude of Turin (died 827), Tanchelm (died 1115), Peter of Bruy s (flourished c1117- c1131), Henry of Lausanne (flourished c1116-1148), Arnold of Brescia (1110-1155), John Tauler (c1300-1361), John Wycliffe (c1328-1384), John Hus(c1369-1415), the Lollards and their like, should never be forgotten.

They all made their protest against Rome, and in one way or another called for a return to the New Testament. I am not pretending that they had full gospel light. But, in their various way s, they all prepared the ground for the approaching Reformation.

This chapter is here: http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=116141234374

Chapter 3 is here: http://defendingcontending.com/2015/11/27/the-pastor-chapter-3-the-system-corrupted/

The Dangers of Drifting

A review by Stuart Brogden   Evangelicals-Adrift-94x150

We must, therefore, pay even more attention to what we have heard, so that we will not drift away. – Hebrews 2:1 (HCSB)

Matthew E. Ferris’ book, Evangelicals Adrift – Supplanting Scripture with Sacramentalism, is a fairly comprehensive examination of the differences between biblical Christianity and that which is based on sacramental rituals. He also provides examples of people who have crossed the Tiber River from both sides. For the evangelical who drifts into sacramentalism, the dangers are pointed out with the concern of one manning a lighthouse in treacherous waters, where sailing vessels are bound to be broken on the rocks if they drift away from the narrow channel.

In ten concise chapters, our author covers the theological crises in evangelicalism, the nature and authority of the church and Scripture, and the various departures from biblical truth posed by sacramentalism. In the first chapter, Ferris tells us, “My task is to the show that the definition of the bride of Christ put forth by sacramentalism is an erroneous one, and that Scripture is the only sure guide for the way forward in the Christian life. … I am not writing as “anti-Catholic” or “anti-Orthodox”, but rather as pro-Scripture.” (page 25) This is an important point that evangelicals need to keep in mind, as it is far too easy to drift into being against error instead of in favor of truth; and our mission is to be ambassadors of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:20).

In his discussion about the nature of the church, Ferris contrasts the Apostles’ teaching found in God’s Word with the progressively developed extra-biblical traditions of the sacramental church, concluding, “The final arbiter for sacramentalism returns once more, not to the Scriptures, but to the church.” (page 35), giving us quotes from Roman Catholics that explicitly confirm this. He then asks, “in what sense can the Church be apostolic if it runs counter to the model the apostles themselves left us?” (page 37) Ferris supports the plurality and equality of elders and the priesthood of all believers in the local church, pointing out the word “clergy” is applied in Scripture to the entire church, not only the elders (page 42). Anticipating the claim that there is unanimity amongst the Church Fathers, our author provides a few quotes to show they had as much variation on issues as do any group of Christians, observing that anyone who wants a clean and supporting historical record to support their view must pick and choose which bits of history to rest on, ignoring those which do not line up with their case. “The Church is the pillar and ground of the truth only in that she upholds and defends it; she does not originate truth.” (page 74)

One way that Christians fail to stay on the narrow road is to neglect church history and conclude that their traditions are biblical. Ferris bemoans the fact that many research or know church history only as far back as the Reformation (page 84), leaving them adrift in the historical influences left unexamined. In commenting on how tradition overshadows Scripture in sacramental churches, he sums up a good quote from Oscar Cullman by saying, “there is no need for a canon at all if the ultimate arbiter of truth is the Church and its magisterium.” (page 86) “Roman Catholic doctrine claims to affirm the inspiration of Scripture and that the Bible is authored by God, yet in practice it severely undermines both of these positions.” (page 102) The Roman Catholic Church demands its dogma be accepted as authoritative, while denying the self-attestation of Scripture. Rather than holding to a proper understanding of Sola Scriptura, the Roman Catholic Church is shown to truly hold to sola ecclesia (page 103). This is compounded by the long-standing position of Rome that only its select clergy can interpret the Scripture, which undermines the authority of the Bible. If the Bible is God’s Word to His people, all of whom are indwelt by His Spirit, does it make sense that only a small number of people selected by a small number of religious leaders would be able to rightly comprehend the essentials of the Christian faith? History records that these select leaders, charged with interpreting the Scriptures for the common folk often disagreed with one another and many changed their minds on topics over time. Heretics and false sons have been in the temporal church since the apostolic era and it flies in the face of history, human nature, and the Bible for Rome to claim immunity from the frailties that each son of Adam faces.

Ferris also discusses how the various sacraments within many churches claim to impart grace, robbing the gift YHWH gives of its meaning. Baptism is one of these, with infant “baptism” having its basis in the false belief that it is needed for salvation. “Sacramentalism practices infant baptism as both an entrance into the new covenant with God and as that which cleanses from sin.” (page 160). If this were true, why was the Apostle Paul’s priority on gospel proclamation (1 Cor 1:14 – 17 & 9:22)? Further, he asks, “If baptism is indeed effective in imparting new life, in washing away sin, in putting one into the church, how is it that so many people who have undergone infant baptism manifest no signs of divine life whatsoever?” (page 166)

Chapters 7 and 8 are excellent reviews of the unbiblical view that sacraments convey grace and that mystical doctrine of Mary worship and veneration. Chapter 9 explores the spurious notion that there is theological and doctrinal unity within the Roman Catholic Church – pointing out there is as much variety within that religion as they claim there is amongst evangelicals.

The final chapter asks, “To Whom Shall We Go?” – and points out that “By insisting on the mediation of the Church in every aspect of the believer’s interaction with God, sacramentalism replaces the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of a Christian.” (page 223) Ferris gives the reader an excellent, concise review of the difference between the Roman view of infused grace and the biblical view of imputed grace as the means of saving sinners. The catechism of the Roman Catholic Church declares that the sacraments are necessary for salvation. Our author observes, “There is no experience of God, no conversion, and indeed no final salvation apart from engaging in the ritual acts defined by the Church. This is diametrically opposed to justification by faith in Christ alone. It is the system, rather than the Savior that assumes the importance in sacramentalism.” (page 225) In light of these dangers that we can drift into, to whom shall we go? As Peter rightly understood, we must flee to Christ Jesus – He has the words of eternal life (John 6:68). And so our faithful author points us to the Word Himself. “Every problem, every shortcoming, every doctrinal aberration with evangelicalism, and indeed with any branch of the church, is solved only by an intentional and sustained engagement with scripture. … Embracing sacramentalism will only lead believers further away from the truth that a relationship, not a ritual, is the scripturally ordained way of growth in Christ. Those who drift away can only regain their moorings by once again submitting to the Bible for everything in their Christian live.” (pages 228 & 229)

This book is a most excellent encouragement to the saints of God and, I pray, a wakeup call to those who are drifting into dangerous waters in the Tiber River. To God alone be the glory and honor and dominion and power – now and forever!