Drama in the SBC over Calvinism.

john-calvin-speaking-at-the-councilThis article is worth the time to read. We find a great internal battle brewing in the Southern Baptist Convention over the Doctrines of Grace, Calvinism, and Reformed thought. This is a debate that needs to occur from a Biblical perspective and not from a tradition or opinion perspective. This open letter calls for the resignation of Dr. Albert Mohler and others. Here is a quote to give you a taste of the tone:

“Those responsible for these self-produced changes need to go. Make no mistake about it, the change that has been brought on the SBC by the efforts of a few Calvinists is what is causing the divisiveness in the convention today.

Once these individuals have stepped aside, the divisiveness could begin to subside and hope for cooperation could begin once again between Calvinists and non-calvinists in the SBC. One thing is clear; if these individuals are allowed to maintain the status quo, the divisiveness will only get worse as non-calvinists are made aware of what has actually taken place and what will no doubt continue to transpire until the goal of a Reformed SBC is indeed a reality.”

These are bold assertions. We know that revival and reformation come with pain and, yes, with division. I look forward to the response from Mohler, Dever, Ascol, and the others. Stand firm in the Lord, Gentleman.

READ THE WHOLE ARTICLE HERE

 

 

Is it Time for Christians to Abandon the Republican Party?

Following the re-election of Barack Obama, many people have speculated as to what the Republican Party did wrong and what needs to change for them to win in the next election. While many people, including those of us who are Christians, would point to the fact that nominating a moderate candidate, one who did not hold to consitutional and yes, even biblical principles, when it comes to issues of life and marraige, would account for the loss, many are arguing just the opposite. In the last few weeks, some startling claims have been made by those with whom we Christians have been enamored. In fact, those claims are leveled specifically at those of us who hold to a truly biblical mindset, and they are holding us at fault. As those of the “conservative” political movement seek to distance themselves from biblical Christianity, the question becomes, should Christians continue to blindly support the Republican Party, or is it time to abandon this sinking ship altogether?

If you think I am being a bit melodramatic, let me cite a few examples. On November 21, 2012, Ann Coulter wrote an opininion piece in the Daily Caller in which she blasted those of a conservative mindset for blaming the loss of the election on Mitt Romney not being conservative enough. Among the comments she made, she took the stance that those who hold to the “insane postition” of rape not being an exception for abortion were “moron showoffs.” Likewise, everyone’s favorite liberal media personality turned “conservative,” Bernie Goldberg made similar statements in his November 18, 2012 article. He makes the statement that Republicans “…need to make clear that they are not the party of religious zealots who take their marching orders from the Bible.” Additionally, on a recent appearance on Bill O’Reilly’s program, he said that Republicans need to “stop this Bible-based gay bashing.”

These two political spokepersons hold the attention of quite a few people. They did not get to their current state of popularity simply by chance. They have found that there are many folks who are willing to listen to their political advise and have used that voice to influence many a mind. So much so that Arizona Senator John McCain openly stated on Fox News that Republicans need to have a “bigger tent” regarding various political views and should “leave the issue alone,” when it comes to abortion. Now, it is well known that Senator McCain is a moderate politician, but his willingness to make these statements openly is indicative of the change we are seeing within the Republican party.

The reason I am writing this article is to once again challenge our readers, as we have done on more than one occasion here, to stop viewing the political process as the means by which we are to “save” this country. There have been many Christians who have sounded the trumpet warning the church that an alliance to a specific political party was unwise, especially as more and more compromises were made. Yet, those of us who have made such proclamations have been met with intense opposition, insisting that such alliance were absolutely necessary. We have heard such claims as “You might as well vote for the other guy,” “You’re throwing your vote away,” “If you don’t vote for ‘our guy’ you are paving the way for evil to flourish,” “Don’t you want to guarantee you religious liberties?” and so forth. Each argument was designed to justify the continued support of the Republican party in what is believed to be the only “valid option” in a two party system.

Yet, the sampling of articles listed above indicates that such loyalty is not reciprocative. In fact, the Republican party is little more than a political entity looking to obtain, and maintain, power. If the party heads sense that the political winds have changed in our country, and that holding to conservative (and especially biblical) principles will prevent them from getting power, they will change their stance post haste. We are seeing that effect now, and Christians are squarely in the crosshairs of those who are faulting Republican failures on holding to these moral issues. They are demonstrating that if Christians are seen as a liability, then the Church’s vote will no longer be courted.

This should be a wake up call to the Church. It should cause us to realize that this nation cannot, and will not be won through politics. As I have argued before, I am not saying that Christians should not vote. I believe we have the unique opportunity to be a part of the governmental process in our country. As such, Christians should vote responsibly and be well informed on the issues. That being said, we should no longer align ourselves with a specific party, especially one that has demonstrated it sees us as the problem. We have given ourselves to this political machine for years, yet precious little has been accomplished. And along the way, we stopped being about the work of the kingdom of God and became serfs in the kingdom of politics.

Christians need to re-evaluate their stance in politics and this recent election is the proof we never should have needed. I pray that Christians wake up to this now and start changing their attitude about who their allegiance belongs to.

Christmas Parade Witnessing

I was able to go witnessing at the Pueblo, Colorado Christmas parade on Saturday, an event that attracted thousands of people. A friend and I passed out 500 tracts in about 30 minutes, covering only a portion of the parade route and one side of the street.

Among the few conversations I had, one was particularly alarming.

I asked a group of teens what they think happens when they die, and the young lady who spoke up said she would be going to heaven. I asked why she thought that, and she said she was going to heaven because she’s a good person. I specifically asked if we have to be good to go to heaven, and she responded in the affirmative.

This is a pretty typical beginning to a conversation. Most people think they’ll go to heaven because they’re good people. After that, I discussed a few of the Ten Commandments; she admitted to breaking them, and she seemed humbled by the law.
I asked her if she knew what God did so she could have her sins forgiven; she said Jesus died on the cross.

I elaborated on the gospel a little bit. She seemed to agree with everything I said. At the end of the conversation, her brother, who was listening to our conversation, said they were Christians—and that their dad is a pastor.

I didn’t ask what kind of pastor, but I was shocked that the teenage daughter of a pastor could think of herself as a Christian, and still be so confused about why she’s going to heaven.

The sad part is that this conversation, while alarming, isn’t all that abnormal. Many people claim to be Christians, but do not give a proper reason for why they’re going to heaven. It is pretty rare to catch someone who can correctly explain why his or her sins are forgiven.

If there is one thing I want to drum into my little boys, it is what the Bible says about how to get to heaven. It is by the cross of Christ alone, and not by any of our own good deeds.

How many of the people sharing our pews don’t have a proper understanding of why they can go to heaven? It seems to me that pastors aren’t doing a good job of explaining this fundamental truth.

It used to frustrate me that I would discuss the law and the gospel, and at the end of the conversation, find out that this “good” person I had been talking to was a Christian.
I used to think that I should get in the habit of asking people more about their beliefs so that I wouldn’t inadvertently witness to a Christian. But if someone who claims to be a Christian thinks he or she is getting to heaven by being good—even if that individual is genuinely saved—that person needs to hear the law and the gospel.

***

NOTE: Witnessing at the parade was a great experience. People are happy, friendly and open to talking or accepting tracts. It is a privilege to be able to proclaim the gospel at a Christmas parade where most people are thinking about Santa Claus and decorating their house for the season. It’s a privilege to remind them of the real reason for Christmas.

Feel free to download the Christmas tract I wrote a few years ago (here), and hit your local parade. The tract was inspired in part by “It’s About the Cross,” a song by Go Fish.

Happy Thanksgiving

“Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. – Psalm 100″

As we begin this day of Thanksgiving, as we prepare meals for our friends and loved ones, as we speak of how thankful we are for the things, events and people in our lives, let us not forget to give thanks to God. Let us praise His holy name as our Creator and Sustainer. Let us be thankful for His giving us life and breath, for even allowing the very molecules that make us up to be held together. Let us praise God as the eternal Lawgiver and Judge. May we thank Him for being the very definition of righteousness, for instilling in us the conscience which holds us accountable before Him. And may we thank Him for His justice, that no deed done in darkness will ever go unpunished.

As we enjoy this Thanksgiving day, let us proclaim the goodness of God and His sovereignty. That God is in complete control of all circumstances, good and bad, righteous and evil, and is using them according to His good purposes and for His glory. May we bow in humble adoration that, in that sovereignty, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, born of a virgin, to take on humanity, live a life of moral perfection in thought, word and deed, and to die a propitiatory death on the cross so that sinners might be saved. May we thank God that, despite there being no good thing in us, He reached down out of eternity, regenerated our hearts through the preaching of the gospel, and caused us to repent and place our faith in the Savior. May we thank God alone for giving us a new birth and making us a new creation.

As we speak to others about this Thanksgiving holiday, let us proclaim to them the true source of our thanks. May we share with them the glorious gospel of grace so that they too may repent and trust in Christ and that they may give thanks to God alone for their salvation. May we give them real reason to be thankful.

On this day of November 22, 2012, we the writers of Defending Contending wish you a Happy Thanksgiving and ask you to thank the Lord for all He has done for you and to praise His holy name.

We Are Justified by Faith

“Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from the works of the law,” (Romans 3: 27, 28)

As I began my morning devotions today, this passage in the book of Romans jumped out at me. Have you ever really stopped to consider it’s meaning? We are justified, not by our works, but by faith. Faith in what? In the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. It is this very principle that is the heart and soul of the Christian faith. Where every other man-made religious system determines your justification on what you can do, Christianity bases it solely on what has been done by God. This is where out assurance lies, it is where our guarantee of salvation lies. The shed blood of Christ on the cross, His work on our behalf. Christ gave everything, we can contribute nothing. And it is the faith that Christ has completed that work on our behalf through which God justifies us. Our complete and total trust that Christ’s work is sufficient to satisfy the righteous wrath of God. Our surrender to His transforming our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh. That alone makes us right before God and nothing else.

I believe that one of the most challenging walks of the Christians life is struggling with the assurance that we are saved. We so often look at our lives, the constant struggle that we have with our sinful flesh, and we are tempted to believe that we cannot possibly be saved because of those sins. We see that we are supposed to be new creations, yet we continually fall into sin. As a result, we cannot believe we really are new creations because we are not doing what we are supposed to be doing. In the end, we actually evaluate our new birth in the same way that the false religions of this world do, through our works.

Yet, as we read the passage penned by Paul to the Romans, what is he challenging them with? He asks “what becomes of our boasting?” Think about that for a moment. When we actually accomplish something in our lives, what is inevitable result? We are proud of what we have accomplished. Pride swells up in our hearts and we can’t wait to tell someone all about it. But through the law of faith, such prideful boasting is “excluded.” Why? Because our faith is in the accomplished work of someone else! We cannot tell people how we did something great because the things we have done sent Christ to the cross! Jesus alone accomplished salvation through His death and resurrection. Jesus alone was completely obedient to His Father and fulfilled all the righteous requirements of the law. The only boasting we can do is to say we were so wicked and vile that He had to save us through His work. We can rejoice because we don’t have to boast! We don’t have to rely on our sinful works to accomplish righteousness! We can rest because all the work of justification was accomplished at the cross!

If you struggle with your assurance in your faith, look to this passage and remember that it is God who alone is the just and the justifier. It is He who has made you a new creation and it is His work that is progessively sanctifying you. If you are one who has truly repented and placed their faith in Christ, then God’s work in your life will reveal itself in your hatred for your sin, your desire to walk and grow in faith, in your love for God’s Word, and in your desire to be more like your Savior. But these are the result of your justification, not the cause of it. You are justified by the One who said “It is finished.” Look to His finished work and rest.

What’s Wrong with being “Seeker Sensitve”?

Seeker Sensitive

The Greek word (ekklesia) we interpret as “church” means “the called out ones”. Those who are not redeemed are not part of the church.  

Isaiah 43:1 But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.

2 Cor 4:1 – 5 Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.

1 Cor 1:1 – 2 Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours

The mission of the church is more accurately found in Ephesians 4:12 & 13 – “the church exists For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Titus chapter 2 seems to sum up the mission of the church very nicely.

There is no place in scripture where saints are told to bring lost souls to the gathering nor is this portrayed in any scriptural narratives. The only place I know where scripture comments on lost people being in church is 1 Corinthians chapter 14. Paul is wrapping up his comments on the lust for gifts exhibited by the church in Corinth. “In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord. Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe. If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad? But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.” It’s clear in this passage that the priority is on the clear proclamation of God’s Word – not on being mindful of making lost folks feel comfortable.

When church leaders focus on lost people, they disobey scripture (Colossians 3:1 – 3, 2 Corinthians 4:18, etc.) and they will be distracted from the right focus on God. Seeking to be appealing to men, elders must turn from seeking to please the Lord – this is disobedience as well. And no man can do both (Galatians 1:10). Furthermore, such a focus on man inevitably leads to the practice of teaching men they can choose Christ – as the natural man wants to be in control of his life. The lost man is dead in his sin (Ephesians 2:1 – 5) and cannot seek God lest he be drawn to Him by Him (Romans 3:10 – 11, John 6:43 – 44, John 1:12 – 13) nor can he comprehend the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:12 – 14, Ephesians 4:17 – 19). It is demeaning to God to pretend man can have a hand in saving himself, giving himself spiritual birth (1 Peter 1:2 – 5, John 15:16). Those who teach and preach are held to a higher standard by God (James 3:1) because they represent God to people. They, therefore, ought to be very careful to only speak for God what He has declared in His Word.

These men pleasers tend to teach people that evangelism consists of inviting lost neighbors to church, so they can hear the preacher. The Bible knows of no such evangelism, telling us to go and preach Christ to the world (Matthew 28:19, Mark 16:14 – 15, Col 1:23). It’s the work of the church to disciple babes in Christ, to bring them to a full understanding of our glorious Lord (1 Corinthians 4:17, 1 Timothy 1:1 – 4, 1 Timothy 4:6 – 11, Titus chapter 2, 2 Peter 3:17 – 18, Ephesians 4:11 – 16).

Our audience – as regards any Christian ministry – is God, not man. His Word – alone – tells us how He wants to be represented to His creature. Our job is not be creative in finding ways to make heathens like the church – the cross is an offense to them (1 Corinthians 1:26 – 29, 1 Peter 2:7 – 8, Galatians 5:11). Our job is to proclaim Christ crucified, trusting God to call to new life those He predestined to be His children (Ephesians 1:3 – 6, Romans 8:32 – 34, John 1:13, Romans 9:6 – 11, Romans 11:5 – 6, 2 Peter 1:2 – 11), making disciples of those are redeemed by Christ. Anything that glorifies man – his status, position, abilities – is sin (Isaiah 48:9 – 11). The aim of each child of God is glorify Him – this is the foundation of everything we do. We cannot love one another properly without God’s glory being the basis. We cannot love lost folks properly if our reason for doing so is anything other than bringing God glory. Any other reason will lead us astray, into doing things for pragmatic reasons, mindful of results and numbers instead of God and His glory.

Soli Deo Gloria”Glory To God Alone

Solus Christus”Christ Alone

Sola Scriptura”Scripture Alone

Sola Fide”Faith Alone

Sola Gratia”Grace Alone

May we serve the lord with joy and seek to be forgotten, that those we speak to will remember the Christ of Whom we spoke.

Stuart L. Brogden

Nov 2008.

Where is the Anguish?

I just listened to this sermon segment from David Wilkerson on anguish. I wholeheartedly agree and have to ask, where is the anguish in the church today? We weep and wail over an election, but where is the weeping and wailing over the sins of the people in our nation, our communities or even in our local churches? We should be driven by anguish to deep prayer and an unquenchable desire to share the gospel, yet the Church is more consumed with making friends with the world. Please watch this video and ask yourself, where is the anguish today?