Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Impotence of the False Church

From a blog post by Jeremiah Johnson, The Impotence of the False Church:


by Jeremiah Johnson

Imagine you see a drowning man, and the life preserver in your hand is all that stands between him and certain death. You wouldn’t disguise the flotation device to resemble the water in which he was drowning. You wouldn’t openly question the efficacy of the life-preserver, or debate the relative merits of other floating objects. And you certainly wouldn’t try to convince him that he could manipulate the power of the life-preserver if he simply had enough faith.
 

Sadly, too many in the church today treat the life preserver of the gospel in similar, wrong-headed ways.

Lost in a sea of self-deception, self-righteousness, rebellion, lust, and all sorts of depravity, the world’s only hope is the transforming work of the Lord through His Spirit and Word. The church exists as God’s witness on earth, testifying to His truth in word and deed, and doing what it can to rescue lost sinners before it is too late.

However, one of the greatest hindrances to the work of the church is often the church itself.
 

The reasons vary. Sometimes the church excuses and tolerates sin to the point it becomes a hypocritical laughingstock, rendering its testimony meaningless and its ministry impossible. It’s hard to overstate how dangerous the church’s dalliances with unchecked sin can be. We’ve already discussed depravity in detail, and if the church can’t or won’t set a moral and spiritual example, it effectively has nothing to offer the world.

But it’s not just sin that impedes the reach and the usefulness of the church. Today, the church’s effectiveness is often cut short by wrong priorities. By placing a high priority on things like numerical growth, worldly credibility, or extra-biblical authority, the church diminishes the value of biblical fidelity and cripples its ability to be salt and light in the world (Matthew 5:13-16). Let’s consider some prominent examples of that tragic pattern.

The Seeker-Sensitive Church
Seeker-sensitivity is not a new phenomenon, but its chameleonic qualities have kept it a driving force in church culture for several decades. And while the trends it imitates may change, the underlying priority—to make the church more attractive, entertaining, and agreeable to unsaved audiences—is still misleading congregations across the country and around the world.
 

If anything, the market-driven philosophy of ministry has become a much more pervasive problem in recent years. Whereas seeker-sensitivity once had a fairly consistent look and feel—primarily appealing to upper-middle class suburban sensibilities—today there is no end of sub-cultures and interest groups that churches cater to.
 

But all those variations come down to the same basic compromise, and, as John MacArthur explains in Ashamed of the Gospel, they all share the same fatal flaw.

Unfortunately, the market-driven ministry philosophy appeals to the very worst mood of our age. It caters to people whose first love is themselves and who care not for God—unless they can have Him without disrupting their selfish lifestyles. Promise such people a religion that will allow them to be comfortable in their materialism and self-love, and they will respond in droves. [1]
If the church is the only hope there is for the world, why would it spend so much time and effort trying to imitate the world? And if a sinner was convinced of his need for the Savior, why would he turn to a congregation that so closely resembled the world he needed to be saved out of?
If the church wants to confuse, weaken, or shroud the world’s only hope, seeker-sensitive methodology is the way to go.

The Postmodern Church
Vying for worldly acceptance and credibility isn’t solely the territory of seeker-sensitive churches. The postmodern church is a kind of seeker-sensitive model tuned specifically to cynics, skeptics, and anti-authority types.

The postmodern church embodies the world’s approach to truth—that it is relative and subjective. The result is that biblical doctrine—including fundamental and historical doctrine—is open for debate and deconstruction. They hold even their own convictions with an open hand, and rather than establishing and fighting for the truth, they reflect the attitude of the Athenian philosophers Paul encountered, always looking for something new and novel (Acts 17:21).
 

All of that is undergirded by a feigned humility—as though conviction could only be the product of close-minded arrogance. In that regard, the postmodern church reduces faith and Bible study to academic pursuits, and kicks open the door to any and all spurious doctrines. But that kind of doctrinal pluralism isn’t producing more refined theology or more confidence in the Word of God. Instead it’s propagating heresy, and, as John MacArthur explains in The Truth War, encouraging unbelief.

The idea that the Christian message should be kept pliable and ambiguous seems especially attractive to young people who are in tune with the culture and in love with the spirit of the age and can’t stand to have authoritative biblical truth applied with precision as a corrective to worldly lifestyles, unholy minds, and ungodly behavior. And the poison of this perspective is being increasingly injected into the evangelical church body.
But that is not authentic Christianity. Not knowing what you believe (especially on a matter as essential to Christianity as the gospel) is by definition a kind of unbelief. Refusing to acknowledge and defend the revealed truth of God is a particularly stubborn and pernicious kind of unbelief. Advocating ambiguity, exalting uncertainty, or otherwise deliberately clouding the truth is a sinful way of nurturing unbelief. [2]
There is no hope to offer the world if the church refuses to be clear about what it believes and steadfast in its commitment to God’s Word. God’s truth faces enough attacks from the outside world—we need not tear it down from the inside, too.

The Charismatic Church
Another way the church has fostered its own misdirection is exemplified in the charismatic church. By overemphasizing the apostolic gifts and taking an unbiblical view on the work of the Holy Spirit—not to mention the believer’s supposed ability to wield and direct the Spirit—the charismatic movement has largely derailed from biblical orthodoxy and plunged millions worldwide into blind idolatry.

Perhaps the most spiritually deadly aspect of the charismatic church is how it insulates its followers from biblical discernment. With miracles and messages from the Lord supposedly abounding, there is no consistency or continuity to the manifestations of the Spirit, and no fixed standard by which all miraculous claims are measured. In spite of the evidence of hoaxes and charlatans, the movement continues to suspend disbelief.

Moreover, any attempt to police the movement is met with accusations of trying to quench the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19-20) or charges of committing the unpardonable sin (Matthew 12:31-32).

Impervious to critique, charismatic leaders can do and say whatever they like, and their capacity for inventing new heresies knows no bounds. As John MacArthur describes in Strange Fire, the charismatic movement has funneled false teaching into the rest of the church.

In recent history, no other movement has done more to damage the cause of the gospel, to distort the truth, and to smother the articulation of sound doctrine. Charismatic theology has turned the evangelical church into a cesspool of error and a breeding ground for false teachers. It has warped genuine worship through unbridled emotionalism, polluted prayer with private gibberish, contaminated true spirituality with unbiblical mysticism, and corrupted faith by turning it into a creative force for speaking worldly desires into existence. By elevating the authority of experience over the authority of Scripture, the Charismatic Movement has destroyed the church’s immune system—uncritically granting free access to every imaginable form of heretical teaching and practice. [3]
Unsurprisingly, the world can see through the lies and the corruption of the charismatic church. So its continued dominance isn’t just a threat to the people caught under its influence—it also tarnishes the reputation of the rest of the church, as it turns the Lord, His miraculous power, and faith in Him into a pathetic joke for the watching world. And until the charismatic movement begins to police itself and ceases to be a breeding ground for heretics, charlatans, and con artists, it will continue to be a significant hindrance to the reach of the true gospel.

God’s people need to get serious about His truth—its sufficiency, its inerrancy, and its authority. We need to be clear about what it says, and what it means by what it says. And we need to be unhindered in our ability to bring that truth to a corrupt and dying world.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Boldly Speak Truth

"The Bible tells us to, boldly and humbly, and without fear or shame, proclaim the Word of Truth. The unchanging Word of God always overrules anything any man has ever said which contradicts it – no matter how brilliant it may sound. As 1 Peter 1:24-25 says, all men are like grass and their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and flowers fade…but the Word of the Lord endures forever. Every book we read, every sermon we hear, and every piece of advice we both give and receive must line up clearly and perfectly with the everlasting Word of God." (from a blog I read recently but I'm not sure who the author is)


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Sometimes Conflict is Necessary

From The Jesus You Can't Ignore by John MacArthur:

"Not every issue on which we might hold strong opinions and disagree is of primary importance. ...Anyone who is prepared to pick a fight over every minor difference of opinion is spiritually immature, sinfully belligerent - or worse. Scripture includes this clear command: "If it is possible, as much as depends onyou, live peaceably with all men" (Romans 12:18).

But sometimes - especially when a vitally important biblical truth is under assault; when the souls of people are at stake; or (above all) when the gospel message is being mangled by false teachers - sometimes, it is simply wrong to let a contrary opinion be aired without any challenge or correction.  One of the worst things a believer can do is show a kind of feigned academic respect or artificial cordiality to the purveyors of serious, soul-destroying error (Psalm 129:4-8; 1 Corinthians 16:22). The notion that an amiable conversation is always superior to open conflict is quite contrary to the example Christ Himself has given us."


Thursday, December 24, 2015

Immanuel: God With Us

"For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace." - Isaiah 9:6
"The prophetic message of Christmas is the good news of God’s answer to all the confusion, chaos, complexities, and conflicts of life. It is the gift of the newborn infant who is also the Father of all eternity. He is an innocent child, yet He is a wise Counselor and mighty King. He is God with us. Immanuel." - John MacArthur

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Character in Candidates

"Is there one candidate Christians must vote for? Surely not. But are there Christian graces, or at least common grace virtues, that we should pray for and look for in our leaders? Absolutely. Don’t ask “who would I like to have a beer with?” or “who sticks it to the people I’m most fed up with?” Ask: “Who would I trust to put the interests of others above his own? Who has the wisdom, the discernment, and the honesty to make the right decisions when no one is looking?” That’s not all that’s needed in a president. But it’s a start." - Kevin DeYoung

Friday, December 4, 2015

The Prophet Test


Many false teachers today claim to be prophets or apostles but there's a simple test to determine whether someone's claim of being a prophet is true or not:

If a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD and what he says does not come true, then it is not the LORD’s message. That prophet has spoken on his own authority, and you are not to fear him.
Deuteronomy 18:22 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Five Suggestions for Christians in the Midst of the Sexual Revolution by Kevin DeYoung



Five Suggestions for Christians in the Midst of the Sexual Revolution by Kevin DeYoung

DeYoung has good suggestions for the Christian's response to this issue including:

"Do Not Be Scared. God has seen tougher stuff than this. God has a plan. God will accomplish his purposes. No matter what the President or the Supreme Court or Apple or ESPN decide, Christ will keep building his church and the Spirit will keep doing his work through the Word. Turn every thought of panic into a commitment to plan and an attitude of prayer. Our God tends to do his best work when the odds are most stacked against him."



Christians Cannot Be Tolerant of All Things

"Christians cannot be tolerant of all things because God is not tolerant of all things. We can respect differing opinions and try to understand them, but we cannot give our unqualified, unconditional affirmation to every belief and behavior. Because God doesn’t." - Kevin DeYoung

Friday, October 16, 2015

Prosperity and "Positive Confessions"

Is the teaching prevalent in the Word of Faith movement concerning prosperity and so-called positive confessions Biblical? The short answer is "no". Here is an article that points out why this is false teaching.

http://www.gotquestions.org/prosperity-gospel.html

In the prosperity gospel, also known as the “Word of Faith,” the believer is told to use God, whereas the truth of biblical Christianity is just the opposite—God uses the believer. Word of Faith or prosperity theology sees the Holy Spirit as a power to be put to use for whatever the believer wills. The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit is a Person who enables the believer to do God's will. The prosperity gospel movement closely resembles some of the destructive greed sects that infiltrated the early church. Paul and the other apostles were not accommodating to or conciliatory with the false teachers who propagated such heresy. They identified them as dangerous false teachers and urged Christians to avoid them.

Paul warned Timothy about such men in 1 Timothy 6:5, 9-11. These men of “corrupt mind” supposed godliness was a means of gain and their desire for riches was a trap that brought them “into ruin and destruction” (v. 9). The pursuit of wealth is a dangerous path for Christians and one which God warns about: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (v. 10). If riches were a reasonable goal for the godly, Jesus would have pursued it. But He did not, preferring instead to have no place to lay His head (Matthew 8:20) and teaching His disciples to do the same. It should also be remembered that the only disciple concerned with wealth was Judas.

Paul said covetousness is idolatry (Ephesians 5:5) and instructed the Ephesians to avoid anyone who brought a message of immorality or covetousness (Ephesians 5:6-7). Prosperity teaching prohibits God from working on His own, meaning that God is not Lord of all because He cannot work until we release Him to do so. Faith, according to the Word of Faith doctrine, is not submissive trust in God; faith is a formula by which we manipulate the spiritual laws that prosperity teachers believe govern the universe. As the name “Word of Faith” implies, this movement teaches that faith is a matter of what we say more than whom we trust or what truths we embrace and affirm in our hearts.

A favorite term in the Word of Faith movement is “positive confession.” This refers to the teaching that words themselves have creative power. What you say, Word of Faith teachers claim, determines everything that happens to you. Your confessions, especially the favors you demand of God, must all be stated positively and without wavering. Then God is required to answer (as though man could require anything of God!). Thus, God's ability to bless us supposedly hangs on our faith. James 4:13-16clearly contradicts this teaching: “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” Far from speaking things into existence in the future, we do not even know what tomorrow will bring or even whether we will be alive. 

Instead of stressing the importance of wealth, the Bible warns against pursuing it. Believers, especially leaders in the church (1 Timothy 3:3), are to be free from the love of money (Hebrews 13:5). The love of money leads to all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:10). Jesus warned, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). In sharp contrast to the Word of Faith emphasis on gaining money and possessions in this life, Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19). The irreconcilable contradictions between prosperity teaching and the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is best summed up in the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:24, “You cannot serve both God and money.”

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Why Study the Old Testament?

This is a good article about why it is important to study the Old Testament and not just the New Testament.  I recently read through several Old Testament books and learned so much about the character of God and how He really is the same today as then.

Why Study the Old Testament? (from GotQuestions.org)

There are many reasons to study the Old Testament. For one, the Old Testament lays the foundation for the teachings and events found in the New Testament. The Bible is a progressive revelation. If you skip the first half of any good book and try to finish it, you will have a hard time understanding the characters, the plot, and the ending. In the same way, the New Testament is only completely understood when we see its foundation of the events, characters, laws, sacrificial system, covenants, and promises of the Old Testament.

If we only had the New Testament, we would come to the Gospels and not know why the Jews were looking for a Messiah (a Savior King). We would not understand why this Messiah was coming (see Isaiah 53), and we would not have been able to identify Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah through the many detailed prophecies that were given concerning Him [e.g., His birth place (Micah 5:2), His manner of death (Psalm 22, especially verses 1, 7–8, 14–18; 69:21), His resurrection (Psalm 16:10), and many more details of His ministry (Isaiah 9:2; 52:3)].

A study of the Old Testament is also important for understanding the Jewish customs mentioned in passing in the New Testament. We would not understand the way the Pharisees had perverted God’s law by adding their own traditions to it, or why Jesus was so upset as He cleansed the temple courtyard, or where Jesus got the words He used in His many replies to adversaries.

The Old Testament records numerous detailed prophecies that could only have come true if the Bible is God’s Word, not man’s (e.g., Daniel 7 and the following chapters). Daniel’s prophecies give specific details about the rise and fall of nations. These prophecies are so accurate, in fact, that skeptics choose to believe they were written after the fact.

We should study the Old Testament because of the countless lessons it contains for us. By observing the lives of the characters of the Old Testament, we find guidance for our own lives. We are exhorted to trust God no matter what (Daniel 3). We learn to stand firm in our convictions (Daniel 1) and to await the reward of faithfulness (Daniel 6). We learn it is best to confess sin early and sincerely instead of shifting blame (1 Samuel 15). We learn not to toy with sin, because it will find us out (Judges 13—16). We learn that our sin has consequences not only for ourselves but for our loved ones (Genesis 3) and, conversely, that our good behavior has rewards for us and those around us (Exodus 20:5–6).

A study of the Old Testament also helps us understand prophecy. The Old Testament contains many promises that God will yet fulfill for the Jewish nation. The Old Testament reveals such things as the length of the Tribulation, how Christ’s future 1,000-year reign fulfills His promises to the Jews, and how the conclusion of the Bible ties up the loose ends that were unraveled in the beginning of time.

In summary, the Old Testament allows us to learn how to love and serve God, and it reveals more about God’s character. It shows through repeatedly fulfilled prophecy why the Bible is unique among holy books—it alone is able to demonstrate that it is what it claims to be: the inspired Word of God. In short, if you have not yet ventured into the pages of the Old Testament, you are missing much that God has available for you.
 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

In Times of Darkness, Do Nothing

"What should you do in times of darkness? Actually, the first thing to do is nothing. This is a difficult thing for our lowly human nature to do. When you are confused and do not know what to do, do nothing. When you find yourself in a spiritual fog, do not run ahead, but slow the pace of your life. And if necessary, keep your life's ship anchored or tied to the dock.

The right thing is simply to trust God, for while we trust, He can work. ...Only the peace of God will quiet our minds and put our hearts at rest."

- L.B Cowman, Streams in the Desert


"Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God." - Isaiah 50:10

Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Word of God Will Defend Itself

"The Word of God is like a lion. You don't have to defend a lion. All you have to do is let the lion loose and the lion will defend itself." - Charles Spurgeon

Good reminder for me today. I tend to want to "prove" scripture with someone who disagrees but God doesn't need me to do that. It is not up to me to do the job of the Holy Spirit. The Lord only asks us to share the gospel and and He will do the rest. His Word alone is more powerful than anything we can say or do.

"For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." - Hebrews 4:12

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Holy Exchanges


From the book Choosing Joy by Angela Thomas:

"The heart falls into despair when we forget.  When we forget who we belong to and how very powerful God is.  When the ways of evil seem to be winning and we forget that the victory has already been won by the Son of God, Jesus Christ. 

In the book of Isaiah, the prophet says that God promises to make holy exchanges for those who belong to Him.  He takes mourning and gives comfort and gladness.  He exchanges a crown of beauty for ashes.  And for every one of us filled with a spirit of despair, God promises to exchange our despair for a garment of praise.  A garment is a whole new outfit, not just a tiny handkerchief or a new tie.  A garment is a complete covering.   Only God could replace despair with a praise that becomes our joy."

Friday, August 14, 2015

God Sees My Potential, Not My Past

"I realize that God is in control of the universe, that the mistakes in my past, while dramatic to me, did not ruin God's plan beyond repair. God is sovereign, and His plans cannot be thwarted by someone like me. He can fill in the blanks of my mistakes, teaching my children what I failed to teach, restoring what I destroyed, rebuilding what I tore down, redeeming what I sold away.

And He tells me to stop looking back, to press on toward the prize...He knew my mistakes before I ever made them, yet He still planned to use me anyway.  He didn't see me as The Great Loser, but as someone uniquely gifted with something to be used in His kingdom work. Where I see myself as a disappointment, He sees me as an asset. He already knows the fruit I will bear for Him, and my future is on His mind so much more than my past.

If He can see me that way, why wouldn't I want to press on toward that goal, and wave good-bye to my fragmented, imperfect past? The future is so much brighter in Christ, and I have so many sisters and brothers who need strengthening.

Thank you, Lord, for seeing my potential instead of my past."

- Terri Blackstock

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Things Worth Thinking About

"There is a living God; He has spoken in the Bible; He means what He says and will do all He has promised."
Hudson Taylor

"Beware of interpreting Scripture in order to make it suit a pre-arranged doctrine of your own." 
Oswald Chambers

"Make sure that the light you think you have is not actually darkness." 
Luke 11:35

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

How should Christians stand up for their faith in such an anti-Christian world?

From Got Questions.org:
How should Christians stand up for their faith in such an anti-Christian world?

As Christians, the two things we can do to stand up for Christ are to live according to His Word and grow our own knowledge of Him. Christ said, “Let your light shine before men…” (Matthew 5:16). This means that we should live and act in a way that supports the gospel. We should also arm ourselves with knowledge, both of the gospel (Ephesians 6:10-17) and of the world around us. First Peter 3:15 says, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” All we can do is live and teach as Christ would and let Him take care of the rest.

Critics of Christianity have become more vocal recently. This is partly because there are many people who do not believe in God or understand the truth about Him at all. Yet the apparent increase of anti-Christians is also due to perception. As with many topics, those who truly despise Christianity are the loudest and most vocal of the non-believers. The vast majority of those who do not believe don’t care enough to bother believers. The few angry, vocal, bitter unbelievers make enough noise to seem more numerous than they are.

The typical insult from the non-religious crowd is to refer to believers as “ignorant,” “stupid,” “brainwashed,” or to otherwise suggest that those who have faith are less intelligent than those who do not. When a Christian stands up intelligently for his faith, the terms change to “bigot,” “extremist,” or “zealot.” When people who know that the believer is kind and loving hear this, the atheist starts to look like the fool that he or she is (Psalm 53:1). Most non-believers have no personal reason to see Christians negatively, but they sometimes hear so much from the loud anti-Christians that they just assume it is so. They need examples of Christ-like living to see the truth.

Of course, when someone claiming to be a Christian says or does something that is not Christ-like, the angry, loud crowd is there to identify him as a typical religious hypocrite. This is something we have been warned to expect (Romans 1:28-30; Matthew 5:11). The best thing to do is to cite a passage of the Bible that speaks against what the person did. And remind the atheists that just because a person says he is a Christian, and even if he thinks he is a Christian, that does not mean that he is. Matthew 7:16,20 tell us that true Christians will be known by their actions, not merely by their profession. And remind critics that absolutely no one lives without sinning at all (Romans 3:23).

An important thing to remember is that no one, no matter how persuasive, can force anyone to believe anything he doesn’t want to believe. No matter what the evidence, no matter what the argument, people will believe what they want to believe (Luke 12:54-56). Conviction is not a Christian’s job. The Holy Spirit convicts people (John 14:16-17), and they choose whether or not to believe. What we can do is present ourselves in a way that is as Christ-like as possible. It is sad that there are many atheists who have read the entire Bible looking for ammunition against Christians, and that there are many Christians who have hardly read the Bible at all.

It’s hard for the angry crowd to accuse a Christian of being a hateful, cruel bigot when that person demonstrates a life of kindness, humility, and compassion. When a Christian can discuss, debate or debunk secular arguments accurately, the label of “ignorant” no longer fits. A Christian who has read the secular arguments and can politely expose their flaws helps to deflate the stereotypes advanced by atheists. Knowledge is the weapon, and it is invincible when we let Christ direct us in how to use it.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Way We Like it Doesn't Change the Truth

Retired Church of Uganda Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi said, "The moment you’re far away from your Bible and you are not making a difference with your Bible, then you are losing God’s wisdom to help you to walk righteously before Him." 

That is the source of the weakening of the church.  We rely less on personal study of scripture with the Holy Spirit guiding us to truth and more on questionable experiences and false signs and wonders, what the latest best-selling author or speaker is saying, or we rely on social media and form our opinions and even our theology based on what is going around on Twitter or Facebook.

As a result, we are lured into taking what God says is sin to not really mean that, and try to say scripture was misinterpreted, that it applied to a different people or time or circumstance and is irrelevant to us today, or that it isn't really what God meant.  We try to convince ourselves that if God really loves us that means he wants us to be happy even if it goes against his word. 

It sobers me because I know God is clear that not everyone who stands before him saying "Lord, Lord" will enter the kingdom of heaven.  He won't care what celebrity speakers on television told us, or what tens of thousands of people "tweeted".  He won't care what we read in best-selling books.  He won't care how human judges interpreted our rights in court. There will be no excuses, no debate we can give to convince him that we are the exception to what he told us in his word.

We can spin it any way we want but as Orombi says, "the way you like it doesn’t change the truth that is in the Scripture."

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

What's On Your Altar?

"Everybody has an altar. And every altar has a throne. So how do you know where and what you worship? It’s easy. You simply follow the trail of your time, your affection, your energy, your money, and your loyalty. At the end of that trail you’ll find a throne; and whatever, or whomever, is on that throne is what’s of highest value to you. On that throne is what you worship." - Louie Giglio

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Simple Truth

"It may sound boring or out-of-date, but it just happens to be true: the way to grow in your relationship with Jesus is to pray, read your Bible, and go to a church where you'll get good preaching, good fellowship, and receive the sacraments. I'm not suggesting Christianity can be boiled down to a few external requirements. I'm not saying that at all. I'm arguing that if you want to be Christlike you need to have communion with Christ, and if you want communion with Christ you need to do it on his terms with the channels of grace he's provided. And that means the only way to extraordinary holiness is through ordinary means."

- Kevin DeYoung, The Hole in Our Holiness

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Hard Path of Discernment



"If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder spoken of takes place, and the prophet says, “Let us follow other gods” (gods you have not known) “and let us worship them,” you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul." It is the LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. ...If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods that neither you nor your ancestors have known, gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other), do not yield to them or listen to them."  Deuteronomy 13:1-8

This scripture seems to warn against more than worshiping false gods or idols. Could it also be warning that the other "gods" we sometimes chase after come in the form of a popular book or teacher that seems sound on the surface but when tested against scripture reveals unbiblical teaching? Could the claim by some ministries that certain practices or supernatural experiences are from God actually have elements of the occult or other religions mixed in and we are to "turn away from them"?

I can't help but be reminded that the original temptation started with the serpent's words "didn't God say?" as he mixed in enough of God's exact words to make it sound credible so that the lie was hard to detect. Satan is crafty that way. He always wraps deception in enough truth to make it look and sound right so we won’t bother testing it, yet 1 John 4:1-6 instructs us to test everything to see whether it is from God and promises when we do so, we will be able to tell the difference.

It's hard to not follow the crowd - especially when other Christians are doing so - but as this scripture points out, even if our family and friends are inviting us to follow something that isn't biblical, we are to turn away from them. That is a hard thing to do. Choosing the narrow path is lonely and difficult, but it's the path we are told to follow and it’s the path that leads to life instead of destruction (Matthew 7:13, 14). God doesn't ask us to take the less chosen path or to question everything so we can become targets for those who think we're just being judgmental, close-minded, or intolerant. He simply wants to protect us from the lies that can derail our faith. 

Discernment isn't always a fun companion because she asks us to stop and seek truth when we don't want to. She sometimes asks us to confront the wolves in the flock (Matthew 7:15) when we'd rather just look the other way. We are always to test and listen with a discerning heart and true teachers of God's word will welcome that and not be offended, just as Paul commended the Bereans when they wanted to verify what he taught with the truth of scripture (Acts 17).

Part of discernment is to determine if it is really false teaching or simply needing to clarify whether differences in denominational wording of doctrine can sound different than our own yet remain truth. That is sometimes a tricky thing to do but seeking discernment from the Holy Spirit and checking everything against what scripture says helps us separate one from the other so that we can embrace truth and turn away from lies.


*****


 “Among the gifts of the Spirit scarcely one is of greater practical usefulness than the gift of discernment. This gift should be highly valued and frankly sought as being almost indispensable in these critical times. This gift will enable us to distinguish the chaff from the wheat and to divide the manifestations of the flesh from the operations of the Spirit.” - A.W. Tozer
"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him."  James 1:5
"Beware of interpreting Scripture in order to make it suit a pre-arranged doctrine of your own." - Oswald Chambers

"Make sure that the light you think you have is not actually darkness." - Luke 11:35

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Kind of Fear We Should Seek

From Note to Self by Joe Thorn:

"You don't need to be afraid of anything, but you do need to fear your God with a holy reverence. Such "fear" is an aspect of faith that responds to God's holiness, sovereignty, and transcendence. This higher form of fear is that which leads to awe, adoration, and carefulness of life because of the intimate knowledge of your Maker and Redeemer. What should you fear in life above a holy God who forgives the sins of unholy men like yourself? What can be taken from you? Your possessions can go up in flames, but you have treasure in heaven and stand to inherit the kingdom. Your reputation may be sullied, but you are justified in Jesus. You may be rejected by those you admire, but you are accepted by God. You may be hated, but your Father in heaven loves you with an undying love. What is there in this life to fear?

The fear you need to maintain and cultivate is a fear of God, for in it you will discover wisdom and develop strength that enables you to persevere in faith to the end."




The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!
Psalm 111:10



Sunday, February 8, 2015

Remember...

In my Bible study these days a thought keeps resonating: Remember.

It's a significant theme that appears many times in scripture as we are instructed to remember days, events, places, people, and teachings that speak to God's holiness, power, character, and sovereignty.

Without remembrance, we are in danger of listening to other voices that tickle our ears with promises of another Jesus who is more politically correct and gives us a pass on sin, a salvation where "love wins" and the cross doesn't matter, and special revelations and mystical experiences that aren't biblical no matter how spiritual they seem. Before we know it we have forgotten who God is, what He has done for us, and what He promises with protection and blessing when we obey...and dire consequences when we choose our own way over His.

He is a jealous God who will not share our affections for other things more than Him. He is a holy God who will not overlook our deciding to ride the fence on issues that He has declared sin. And He will not tolerate being mocked when we we ascribe to Him through the Holy Spirit words and manifestations He did not say or do.

But ultimately, I think what what we are in danger of forgetting is that the whole of scripture is one huge love story with the bright scarlet thread of redemption woven into the drab fabric of our fall from grace, leading to His perfect plan of salvation through Jesus Christ. I think that is what He wants us to remember most of all and it is the message being lost in the church.

Remember the cross and the empty tomb and why we need a Savior. Remember who you are in Christ. Remember what God has done and will do. Remember His holiness.

Remember.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Resting in God's Sovereignty

From When You Are Weak by Brian Cosby:

"The sovereignty of God is one of God's attributes that speaks of his complete control over all things, all people, and all time. Nothing happens apart from his providential governing, not even the death of a sparrow (Matt. 10:29).

Because God is sovereign, wise, and works all things for our good and his glory, and if he sees fit to give us many earthly possessions or very little earthly possessions, we can rest in the knowledge that he is in control. Whether we find ourselves in plenty or in want, the sovereignty of God should comfort us, humble us, and grant us a steady contentment in the outworking of his eternal plan." (p. 78)