THE POWER OF THE CHURCH

He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. (Hebrews 1:30000023

The true power of the church lies in Christ personally. You may have all the stars that ever made bright the Milky Way with their combined sheen, but there is no power in them to kill evil or conquer sin

The stars of the church shine because God makes them shine. Their shining is not their own: it is a borrowed light with which they are radiant. But the power that overcomes evil, wounds the heart, pierces the conscience, and kills reigning sin is of the Lord alone.

“Out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword” (Revelation 1:16). Glory not, therefore, in men; for power belongs unto God. The power lies in Christ’s Word. “Out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword.”

“He that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully…saith the LORD” (Jeremiah 23:28). People are disturbed and troubled by the real gospel: under the false gospel they can sleep unto destruction. Bring out the sword: it is made to wound; let it exercise its salutary sharpness.

The gospel has two edges so that none may play with it. When they think to run their fingers along the back of it, they will find themselves cut to the bone. Whether we regard its threats or its promises, it cuts at sin.

Let us therefore know that the power of the church does not lie anywhere but in the Word as Jesus himself speaks it. Let us keep to his own pure, unadulterated, unblunted Word, and let us pray him to send it forth with power out of his own mouth into the hearts and consciences of men.1

Charles Spurgeon

[1] Charles Spurgeon, At the Master’s Feet [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005], January 27.

Hat tip to http://apprising.org/

If God starts it–He WILL finish it!

road to nowhere 11

I have always heard that if you are going to teach something, you should teach what you are passionate about. I am passionate—more like adamant—about the eternal security of the believer. Or as Steve Lawson would say, “I’m not just dogmatic–I am bulldogmatic” about this subject. I am absolutely convinced that if a person is truly saved, they are saved forever. And today we’re going to see why.

Let me start with an illustration—and when I say “Let me” I’m not looking for your permission, I’m telling you in a nice way, “I’m doing this whether you like it or not.” Let me start with an illustration. Have you ever been to Bryson City, NC? It is a tourist town nestled in the Smoky Mountains. And in Bryson City there is an odd sort of tourist attraction. It’s a bit of an unintentional tourist attraction. If you take Everett Street out of the city, it eventually becomes Fontana Road. Go past Swain County High School about 6 miles, and you come to a tunnel. And on the other side of the tunnel is…wait for it…NOTHING!

Fontana Road has actually gained a more colorful nickname by the locals, many of whom call it, the Road to Nowhere. It stands as a monument to governmental efficiency. Actually, there’s a good reason they didn’t finish it. During the construction process they found rock that was highly acidic, and if they were to disturb it, the acid would cause severe environmental damage. For all you children of the ’70’s, I will leave off any references to “acid rock”.

tunnel

We have our own “Road to Nowhere” here in Knoxville, it is called the James White Parkway (named after the man who founded Knoxville, TN. Not the wonderful Christian apologist. But if I had my way…). Got started and has still not been finished, and it appears it never will be finished. The Foothills Parkway, which was originally supposed to be 72 miles long, running from Tennessee to North Carolina–how many miles are complete, anybody know? About 22.

So, my point is this: do men begin projects that they do not finish? Wives, please hold your comments about husbands until we are finished, OK? My dad was notorious for that. So many times we begin things we have every intention of finishing–but for whatever reason, those things remain unfinished.

On the other hand, if God starts something, will HE finish it? Oh, absolutely. And that is a truth we find in our text today. And that text is Philippians 1:6. No, I actually need to start at verse 3. Philippians 1:3-6 (NASB)3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, 5 in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Of all the verses that so clearly spell out the fact that a saved person is saved forever, this is one of the clearest. When I first got saved, I was like a lot of people probably are. I thought that, “Well, yeah, you can be wicked enough to lose your salvation!” But that’s because I was looking at it in the same way as anyone else who thinks you can lose your salvation—I was only looking at salvation from the human side, not taking into account that it is not that we save ourselves, but that God saves us, sets us apart as His own, and will do everything He has to do to keep the one He has adopted. I like what John Calvin said about this verse—

“Let believers exercise themselves in constant meditation upon the favors which God confers, that they may encourage and confirm hope as to the time to come, and always ponder this in their mind: God does not forsake the work which his own hands have begun, as the Prophet bears witness, (Psalm 138:8; Isaiah 64:8) we are the work of his hands; therefore he will complete what he has begun in us. When I say that we are the work of his hands, I do not refer to mere creation, but to the calling by which we are adopted into the number of his sons.”

And in that quote, he lists two Old Testament verses to support is argument, Isaiah 64:8But now, O LORD, You are our Father, we are the clay, and You our potter; and all of us are the work of Your hand. Psalm 138:8The LORD will accomplish what concerns me; Your lovingkindness, O LORD, is everlasting; do not forsake the works of Your hands. So in these three verses—Philippians 1:6, Psalm 138:8 and Isaiah 64:8—we see this most beautiful picture that God has taken us mere lumps of clay, and is shaping us, molding us, making of us a vessel of mercy to show His grace, and that He will not leave that good work undone.

OK, so let’s look at our text from Philippians. Let’s start off by talking about the good work. What is the good work? Salvation. Who began the good work? God did. Otherwise, Paul would have said, You who began the good work in you… Right? But he didn’t say that. He said He who began the good work. So obviously somebody other than you began the good work in you. Somebody not named “You” began the work of salvation in you. In fact, Paul uses the word ἐνάρχομαι (enarchomai). It means “to begin”. You hear the word “arch” in there, like archangel or archetype. It comes from the same Greek word as ἀρχή (arche). John 1:1 (Greek NT)ἐν ἀρχή (en arche) In the beginning. The word Paul uses refers to the very beginning of something. Not, “You had the idea, and God showed you the rest.” God started it. When Jesus asked His disciples “Whom do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” and Simon Peter said “Thou art the Christ”, Christ did not say, “Good job Peter! How did you ever figure that out? You’re one smart cookie” I don’t think the phrase “smart cookie” was part of the Greek or Hebrew lexicon at the time, but anyway. It was GOD who showed Simon that Jesus is the Christ. Simon didn’t have the idea in his head and God came along and said, “Yep, you got it!”

Titus 3:4-64 But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior. Did God look down on creation, and say, “Hey, ya know, that Donny guy, he’s a pretty good fellow. I think I’ll save him”? No, because there is no such thing as a “good person”. We are all wretched and wicked and we all deserve Hell. If you have a problem with that, then go to your Bible and rip the entire 3rd chapter out of the book of Romans. We are, as he would tell the Ephesians, dead in trespasses and sins. And by the word “dead” he means……DEAD! But God grants new life to us, washes us, puts His Holy Spirit in us, and opens our eyes to the truth. We have an example of this action by God in Acts 16:14A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul. When we send out missionaries, mission teams, when we commission them to the work, what do we often ask in prayer? We pray God would grant His missionaries mercy; that He would protect them, but what do we pray for the people they witness to? Do we say, “Lord, I hope the people are smart enough to believe us!” or “Give us eloquent speech so we can convince them to follow us!” No, we pray that God would open their hearts to believe the gospel. Because one cannot believe the gospel, cannot confess Jesus Christ as Lord unless the Holy Spirit acts on their heart (1st Corinthians 12:3).

Next let’s look at the word confident. When we think of confidence, what do we normally think of? Someone that can walk into any situation, and they are “confident” they can get the job done. The heart surgeon, or the brain surgeon. “I am Dr. Big Man, and I am going to save your life!” That is self-confidence. And in some circumstances that can be a good thing. I want the guy cracking my chest open and holding my still-beating heart in his hands to know what he’s doing. “Gee, I hope I can get this thingy back in there!” is not something I want to hear him say. But when it comes to salvation, is self-confidence a good thing? Absolutely not!! But the person who says you can lose your salvation is indeed basing your continuing in salvation on your confidence in yourself. When you boil it all down, that person is saying, “Great! God has saved you! Now, make sure you do enough good things, and you don’t do enough bad things so you lose that salvation!” That is basically what they are saying—that God started it, but now it’s up to you to keep it going. That was the whole problem with Galatia. The Judaizers were telling the new Christians in Galatia that yes, you may have been saved by grace, but you keep yourself saved by keeping the Law of Moses.

And that is basically what these people do—they set the person up to embrace a form of legalism. If you do this many of this sin and that many of that sin, and if you don’t do this or this then you’re lost again. Galatians 3:3Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Having been saved by the washing of regeneration by God, are you now kept by obeying a list of rules and regulations that if you don’t live up to them God will disown you? Paul put no confidence in his flesh. Paul is not confident in man’s ability to keep himself. Just the opposite—he knows than man’s flesh is weak and he cannot save himself. And he certainly cannot keep himself saved. In fact, if one says that a saved person can be wicked enough to lose their salvation they are, by default, saying that one can be righteous enough to keep it. Paul’s confidence is in God and in God’s ability to keep that person. Being confident of this. Confident that God began the work, and that if He has begun the work He will perfect it.

That word perfect. That is the key to this whole verse. The Greek is ἐπιτελέω (epiteleo). The root word is τελέω (teleo). Does anybody know what the 3rd person passive indicative of that word is? How can you not know the 3rd person passive indicative of τελέω (teleo)? What’s wrong with you people? The 3rd person passive indicative of τελέω (teleo) is τετέλεσται (tetelestai). Do you know where we find the word τετέλεσται (tetelestai) in the gospels?

John 19:30 (Greek NT)τετέλεσται (tetelestai) “It is finished.”

Did Jesus complete the work of redemption and salvation on the cross? If God begins a good work in you will He complete it? ἐπιτελέω (epiteleo). τετέλεσται (tetelestai). If you are saved, your salvation is every bit as complete as Christ’s work on the cross. He who began a good work…will complete it.

Unfinished bridge, discontinuity, interruption.

Let’s look at some other verses that say pretty much the same thing. Hebrews 10:14—and of course we can’t start with verse 14, let’s start with verse 11. Hebrews 10:11-1411 Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. Under the old covenant, if you sinned today, you bring an animal to the priest, he would kill it, cut it up, burn it. You sin tomorrow, does that animal you brought yesterday do you any good today? No. So what do you do? You bring another one. The priest kills it, cuts it up, burns it. You sin again the next day–you get the picture. The goat that was killed on the Day of Atonement one year—was it still good the next year? No. What did they have to do? Bring another animal. The year after that, are the two goats you brought the previous two years any good? No, you bring another one. 12 but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins fora little while—no? One sacrifice for how long? For all time. 12 but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God. Did the priests ever get to sit down? When you have 2 million plus people, you’ve got a whole lot of sin. And when you had a whole lot of sin you had a whole lot of animals that needed to be killed, cut up and burned. How many sacrifices did Christ offer? One When He finished that one sacrifice, how many more sacrifices did He have to make? NONE. So what did He do? He sat down. Why? Because He was done. τετέλεσται (tetelestai). 13 waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet. And here we go. 14 For by one offering He has perfected……for the time being those who are sanctified. Is that what that says? No. NKJV–He has perfected forever those who are sanctified. I mentioned before that when I first got saved I did not believe in eternal security. Wasn’t gonna have it; wasn’t even gonna hear it. But after a while I started reading more, and just when I was about to the point of accepting it, I read this verse. Game over. Period, paragraph. He has perfected forever those who are sanctified. And actually, the ESV describes us as those who are being sanctified—much closer to the Greek.

Listen to the tenses. He has perfected. And by the way, the word perfected in Hebrews 10:14? Guess what Greek word that comes from? τελέω (teleo). Who has been perfected? Those who are being sanctified. This verse cannot be talking about some future, possible, “do everything you can to get there, maybe you’ll get there and maybe you won’t” kind of idea. Those who are right now being sanctified have been already perfected.

Now, someone may ask, “Well, what about the one who believes for 20 years and turns his back on Christ? What do you say about that one?” I asked one of our pastors about that way back then. He said, “That person was never saved to begin with.” And I thought that was kind of a cop-out. But in reality, that’s the truth. If someone believes for a little while—goes to church and listens to Christian music and even teaches or sings in the choir—if they turn their back and walk away from Christ, that is one who went out from us but they were not of us—how do we know they were not of us? Because if they had been of us, they would have continued with us (1st John 2:19). That was a work that was not begun by God. That was a work begun by the flesh, and anytime a person seems to get saved, and seems to continue in the way for a little while, but they defect and return to their old ways, it is proof that they were never saved to begin with. God did not begin the work in them because if it was God who began that work in that person, would He complete it? Of course He would! He who began a good work…will complete it. But if the work is not completed, then it was never started by God.

“Many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord! We’ve done all these great things in Your Name!’” What will Jesus say? “I never knew you. I didn’t begin a work in you. Be gone!” Turn to 2nd Timothy 1:12For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am…pretty sure that He might keep what I have committed to Him for a little while. No, that’s not what it says. I know whom I have believed and am persuaded—same word he uses in Philippians 1:6 as confidentI am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day. What was Paul committing to Him until that Day? His eternal soul. Can we trust God with our eternal soul? If we cannot trust God with our eternal soul, then what kind of hope could we ever have? Read through all of Paul’s letters. See if you ever read where Paul uses words like ‘maybe’ or ‘perhaps’ or ‘he might’ or ‘it’s possible’ or ‘for the time being’. Paul does not use wishy-washy, milquetoast, equivocating language. When Paul writes he uses words like ‘confident’ and ‘able’ and ‘He will’ and ‘I believe’ and ‘until that Day’. What kind of hope could we ever have if we can’t even trust God to keep our eternal soul?

But I can lay my head on my pillow at night, knowing that I am trusting my eternal soul to a God who is not only able, but also faithful to keep that soul safe. Chris H, I love ya brother. You’re a fine pastor, I’m sure you are a good father, a decent man. But I’m not gonna trust you with my eternal soul. Because you’re human. And humans fail. Manfred, I’m not trusting you either. Jungle Missionary, sorry. My wife Laurie, I love you honey. But I’m not trusting you either. I’m not trusting anybody who contributes to this blog, or comments on it. I’m not trusting John MacArthur or RC Sproul or Ligon Duncan or Voddie Baucham. And in fact, out of all the 7 or so billion people on planet earth—out of all those 7 billion people, do you know who is the LAST person on earth I would trust with my eternal soul?

ME.

If it is up to me to keep my soul safe until the day of Christ—I might as well pack for an eternal marshmallow roast right now because I know me—I’m gonna screw it up!! And if it is up to me to keep myself saved I will more than surely lose it. And so will you if keeping your salvation were up to you.

But this is the good news–it’s not up to us!! God does not leave our eternal salvation in our hands because we would all surely be lost! I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day. And why can I trust Him with My soul? Because if He began the work, He will complete it. He did not leave it up to me to complete it. Let me show you another passage.

Ephesians 1:13-14. These are two verses in a long, long paragraph. But we’re just gonna take a look at one concept in this passage. And we are going to read it from the King James. Ephesians 1:13-14 (KJV)13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, 14 which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. OK, did you see that word in verse 14? Your translation may say ‘pledge’. ‘Guarantee’ is the most common rendering. I like earnest. I like the translation ‘earnest’ because it carries a certain meaning. Much like the word ‘betrothed’ in the gospels, Mary was betrothed to Joseph, that betrothal being more than simply an engagement. An earnest was a down payment, but it was more than that. By putting down an earnest, the buyer was pledging, as solemnly as possible, that he would pay the rest of the money and finalize the transaction. Now, who is the one paying the earnest? God. How? By sealing us with the Holy Spirit. Now listen carefully and if you remember nothing else that you have read, please remember this: If God puts down the down payment, who will complete the transaction? If God gives us the Holy Spirit now, promising that He will complete the transaction, will He complete that transaction? If God put down the down payment, then how in the world can yo ever hope to come up with enough to finish paying it off? That kind of thinking is nothing short of absurd. And it has led countless Christians into lives of legalism and Law-keeping trying to do what only God can do.

So, here are some questions you need to answer:

If God begins your salvation, will He finish it? YES.
Is He able to keep your soul until the day of Christ? YES.
If He put down the down payment, will He finish the transaction? YES.
Has He perfected forever those that He has set apart? YES.
Is He able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him? YES.
Does He ever live to make intercession for us? YES.
If the Father draws a person to Christ, will Christ lift him up on the last day? YES.
Is He the Good Shepherd who will not lose even one of His sheep? YES.
If one of His sheep wanders off, will He go bring them back? YES.
Do His sheep know His voice and will they follow Him? YES.
Will His sheep follow a stranger? NO.
Can anyone snatch His sheep from His hand? NO.
Can anything separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus? NO.

So to argue that one who is truly saved can be lost again, you would have to throw out all that Scripture. You would have to cut it out of your Bible, or use your Sharpie™ as a highlighter through those passages. The person might argue, “But doesn’t it say ‘He who endures to the end will be saved’?” Yes. And that person will endure who has been sanctified by God, who began the good work and will complete it.

One last verse. 1st John 5:4For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. Are you born of God? Will you overcome the world? I rest my case.

Connecting the Dots – Kundalini to New Evangelicalism

We have spent a great deal of time in the past addressing issues that are greatly affecting true, biblical Christianity. The problem today is that more and more people are being duped into believing that a myriad of wolves are preaching and teaching the truth.

Children love to play connect the dots. Connecting the dots allows them to see a picture take place by counting each number in sequence. If the numbers are not put together correctly, then the picture will be nothing more than a jumbled mess. In similar fashion, it is not hard to see the dots that are now connecting the false religions of the world with so-called Christianity. Let’s look at how these dots are not only connected, but still being connected on the stages of churches and church conferences.

Let’s look at the first dot on the page. Kundalini is a mystical power that has often been called the Hindu’s version of the Holy Spirit. Kundalini is purely demonic. There are many videos that can be found on the dangers of this system which also includes the use of yoga and the encouragement to followers to allow their minds to be emptied in order for peace to fill them.

Any true minister would point out the heresy of such a religious system!

The second dot makes a radical jump from the blatant heresy of Hinduism to charismatic churches. The connection of the second dot actually produces a sordid picture because it allowed the first vestiges of eastern religion into mainstream religious circles.

This second dot produced the same type of power and manifestations as found in Hinduism but was now connected with people like Rodney Howard Browne, Oral & Richard Roberts, the Toronto Movement, and the events from 2008 in Lakeland, Florida spearheaded by Todd Bentley and openly promoted by GodTV. Many others within the Word of Faith movement bought into the heresy in various ways which then opened up the door to further invasions of demonic activity. These individuals included Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyers, TD Jakes, Rick Joyner, John Crowder and others. In the meantime, people continue to be duped into believing that these crazy, demonic acts are somehow from God.

Any true minister would point out the heresy of such a religious system!

The third dot took things like Toronto Blessing and the Holy Laughter Movement and made slight and subtle changes so as to be included in a wider array of preachers and churches. This third dot saw a continuing growth of churches spring to life in a way that has been unparalleled in recent history. This growth produced a wide impact and sought to point out that these great visitations from God were also to be found outside of charismatic circles. This included groups like IHOP in Kansas City, Bethel Church in Redding, CA, Perry Noble of NewSpring Church, and Ed Young of Fellowship Church. Of course, experience became more valuable than doctrine and anybody that believed to the contrary was considered a judgmental evangelical.

Any true minister would point out the heresy of such a religious system!

The fourth dot that comes to light is that when doctrine is taken out of preaching, it is normally superseded not just by experiences but also by music which normally drives much of what is found in the vast majority of the mega-churches today. Because people are coming for the music or the experiences, they also want their ears to be tickled into believing that somehow they are “best buds” with God who will accept them the way they are and not demand any change. When experience becomes the vital entity in church, then churches will begin to hold hands with anybody else who holds to the same thing – all for the sake of the kingdom, of course! This then was further compounded by groups like Promise Keepers who held hands with ANYBODY. ALL were accepted in the name of love including Mormons, Roman Catholics, and all mainline denominations. And more swallowed the Kool-Aid. You see, this dot allows the inclusion of people like Louie Giglio and Mark Driscoll, and bands like Jesus Culture and David Crowder.

Any true minister would point out the heresy of such a religious system!

The fifth dot is the one that is probably the scariest. Discernment ministries have been pointing out the coming apostasy for a few decades and few took notice because they did not believe it would ever affect them. After all, that was only the kind of thing that happened in charismatic circles. The fifth dot made the connection to evangelical circles. The problem being that experience was becoming so important that even those within what would have been termed sound evangelicalism began jumping on board. Southern Baptists were soon swallowing the poison with ease by the likes of Beth Moore and Henry Blackaby, both of whom have crossed the line of sound doctrine into an acceptance of “whatever floats your boat works for me as well because we won’t judge what Jesus accepts or does not accept!”

People who just a few decades ago would never have listened or permitted a woman to speak have now crossed the line of full acceptance. These people who stand to preach now are pushing an agenda that comes right out of the pits of hell. Can we not see that the devil is not concerned about those who live a life of debauchery for he already has them in his grip? He is concerned with doctrine for this is what drives a church towards purity. If the devil can get the focus OFF of doctrine and onto music or experiences or unity in love, then he will see the vast introduction of further heresies into the church at large.

Experience is still driving the crayon across the page as the dots continue to be connected. This now brings us to the next connection which some may vehemently decry, but it is necessary to help in completing a picture for the true Berean Christian.

Any true minister would point out the heresy of such a religious system!

The sixth dot though helps us to see the truth of Paul’s writings when he tells us that in the last days, there will be a falling away. Those who are falling away are IN the church. They are not on the periphery, but are actually sitting in their cushioned chairs sipping their lattes listening with rapt attention to the drivel that falls from the lips of so-many so-called preachers of the gospel. The gospel being preached is devoid of truth, devoid of the biblical Jesus, is devoid of repentance, is devoid of the mention of sin, and is devoid of anything that would connect it with a Bride who is making herself ready for the return of the Bridegroom.

This dot, while scary, is actually the logical continuance of the fifth dot. What is scary though is those who have perpetuated the lie that there is no connection from themselves to the heresy that is damning the souls of millions to hell. Those in this dot are those who stand in front of tens of thousands and would openly endorse the teachings and heresies of those found under some of the other dots. A true minister continues to take a stand against heresy and will preach the truth no matter where he may be. He will not be concerned about book sales or larger followings for his megachurch. He will remain a SLAVE of Jesus Christ and will teach truth NO MATTER THE COST!

The problem we face with this sixth dot though is that there seem to be many who are jumping into this particular arena, and with a straight face, seek to convince their people that unity is vital and that “we will never compromise the truth.” However, when the error surfaces, the truth is spoken with a finely polished veneer that says “I will not condemn my brother or sister in the Lord!” Or, the truth will be spoken but with just enough double-speak to ensure that anybody in the audience can find approval with what is said. The hearer is given the opportunity to twist the Scriptures to mean whatever they want it to mean so that they can find endorsement for their sin before God.

This was recently seen at Passion 2013 when John Piper and Francis Chan refused to openly condemn heresy. This was seen by their sharing and enjoying the stage with those who preach a different gospel. Their message may have been truth at its core, but their refusal to take a stand poisoned the message to the point where any and all could come away feeling good about themselves or could come away thinking they had a good relationship with Jesus Christ.

Sadly, within the confines of the sixth dot are men who have been preaching the gospel and yet have failed miserably in standing for the truth. They willingly share the stage with proponents of everything ranging from those teaching slight error to heretics, who then share the stage with those who are openly heretics and opposed to Jesus Christ and biblical truth, who in turn then share the stage with the false religions of the world.

In this camp, the world sees John Piper preach one thing but live another. They see him holding hands with the Mark Driscolls and the Rick Warrens and the Louie Giglios and the Beth Moores of the church. They then see these people endorsing people even further afield to include Roman Catholicism and the New Age Mysticism that is so prevalent.

And the church wonders why we do not see true revival?????

The world connects the dots better than the church is doing. They see Roman Catholics holding hands with Presbyterians who are holding hands with Baptists who are holding hands with New Evangelicals who are holding hands with Word of Faith proponents who are holding hands with the demonic activities that are identical to what is found in Hinduism and who are in turn holding hands with Roman Catholicism. They see nothing different – just a different name.

The devil laughs while the church-at-large looks at the dots and thinks it portrays the kingdom of God. God looks at the dots and sees the rank apostasy that is being openly permitted – a rank apostasy that would never have been permitted just a handful of years ago.

So to summarize the picture that is appearing. It is not even subtle anymore, but is out in the open.

Dot 1 – Hinduism – Kundalini
Dot 2 – Charismania
Dot 3 – Church growth gurus promote numbers over truth
Dot 4 – Doctrine begins to disappear for the sake of “love”
Dot 5 – Experience trumps doctrine in new evangelical circles
Dot 6 – Evangelicals fall all over each other in order to line up with the wolves in the pulpits of the world.

Any true minister would point out the heresy of such a religious system!

A few final questions to ponder – Will Berean Christians swallow the bait? Will we allow ourselves to be duped into thinking that we can all just get along? Will we one day come to the point where the crucifixion cannot even be mentioned because that would be to condemn those who believe there are many roads to heaven? Will we continue to endorse those in Dot 6 because of who they are or will we refuse to follow their error knowing and realizing that the dots that connect one connect to each other and they all in turn – connect to hell from where the heresy all originally starts?

CONNECT THE DOTS!

Do you like the horror that is taking place on the page? Will you remain blind because you prefer the easy route? We do not need any more dots to see the dangers found in the picture. We need godly men and women who will stand for truth no matter what it takes or what it costs! The future of your church and mine depends on it.

CONNECT THE DOTS!

Is Jesus Culture Just Another Christian Band?

Following one of our recent posts on the Passion 2013 conference, one of the issues that came to light is the concern over the worship group “Jesus Culture.” This group has grown immensely in popularity among evangelical youth. Yet many are not aware of the fact that they originate out of the Bethel Church in Redding, California which is known for its false teachings about signs and wonders and is part of the heretical “New Apostolic Reformation” movement. The following video does a very good job exposing the background of Jesus Culture and why discerning Christians should be very concerned about them. Please take the time to watch and learn.

Made Sufficient: A Theology of Preaching

preachMade Sufficient: A Theology of Preaching

INTRODUCTION

Life in our culture today has one very common personal philosophy that will be heard anywhere you go: “You can be anything you set your mind to.” Our school systems, parental urgings, and media culture all cheer us on with shouts of “be all we can be, “just do it,” and “you can make friends and influence people!” We live in a world of driven and purposeful self-sufficiency. If you are a doctor and you find a new condition you are not familiar with, you study, research, prepare, and build the knowledge base and skill set within yourself to accomplish the task. You work hard to achieve the skills required for the task. If an engineer is faced with a new complicated project, they also turn to the books and the training. Study, prepare, practice, test, do all things to develop the personal skills to become competent and capable.

Coming to scripture with this worldview is dangerous enough for the average Christian, but it’s a death wish for those aspiring to the pulpit. In so many ways, our career success cultural handicap has created “you can achieve anything you set your mind to” preaching. Young men feeling the call to preaching start with the philosophy that hard work and personal development of precise skills is all that is needed to assume the pulpit and to receive the celebration and cheers of men. This is why Paul’s words to the Corinthians regarding the ministry of the New Covenant is so shocking.[1] You can just about hear the needle scratching across the record as our culture engages with Paul’s words from 2 Corinthians 2:16b-17,

…who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ[2]

and 2 Corinthians 3:5-6,

Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit.

The World’s response to Paul is: “Who is sufficient for these things? I am of course! I can do anything I set my mind to. I will work hard and become sufficient to preach.” This response, whether voiced or felt secretly deep in our heart is the issue at hand. The biblical act of preaching is not a calling that can be professionalized. Preaching is not something that can be undertaken or mastered by sheer personal will. Preaching is an act like no other. Preaching is not a career choice. Preaching is a supernatural calling to proclaim God’s Word as a reconciled ambassador for Christ. It is only through God that we are made sufficient to speak on His behalf.

MADE SUFFICIENT

Preaching the Word of God is every bit as challenging as walking a tightrope hundreds of feet above the ground. Lean too far in one direction and you fall to a certain death. Overcorrect and lean too far the other direction and you experience the same results. One missed step and you are in great danger. Preaching is similar, not in physical balance and concentration, but in spiritual balance and humility. On one side we can fall into the certain dangers of self-sufficiency and on the other, the certain peril of lazy unpreparedness. The rope itself, on which we safely traverse to the other side, is humility grounded in the knowledge that we are not sufficient to accomplish this task in our own strength and skills, but we are made sufficient by the power of the one of whom we speak. To make the point of how God accommodates our weakness by providing preachers to speak on His behalf, Peter Adam[3], in his little book, Speaking God’s Words, quotes John Calvin, from his Institutes, on the power of God in preaching through the man, rather than the power coming from the man himself:[4]

it forms a most excellent and useful training to humility, when he accustoms us to obey his word though preached by men like ourselves, or, it may be, our inferiors in worth. Did he himself speak from heaven, it were no wonder if his sacred oracles were received by all ears and minds reverently and without delay. For who would not dread his present power? Who would not fall prostrate at the first view of his great majesty? Who would not be overpowered by that immeasurable splendour? But when a feeble man, sprung from the dust, speaks in the name of God, we give the best proof of our piety and obedience, by listening with docility to his servant, though not in any respect our superior. [5]

All men would fall on their faces in reverence if God came down from Heaven and preached to us. However, God chose to use feeble broken men sprung up from the dust to deliver His message to the World (Ex 4:10-12, 1 Cor 1:17-21,1 Thes 2:1-4, 1 Tim 1:12-15). To understand how this feeble, unremarkable, inferior  man can faithfully represent the infinite, holy, omnipresent God of the universe, we must understand the theology of preaching.

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What was Mohler Thinking?

Nearly 4 years ago, Albert Mohler and Danny Akins co-authored an article that never should have 1614332826_Do_Babies_go_to_Heaven_300x245_xlargebeen written. The Bible does not give enough information to be dogmatic about the eternal destiny of infants. It’s bad enough that Doug Wilson (of Federal Vision infamy) believes that a trinitarian baptism make babies (including Roman Catholic babies) Christian, we have otherwise sober Calvinist Baptists telling us ALL babies are saved – if they die before they sin. The hinge pin of Scripture they base this upon is 2 Cor 5:10, which, if taken as a solitary proof text, says one is judged for the deeds he has done in the body, whether good or evil. Their argument is that a baby is unable to do any evil deeds – yet they do not tell concerned parents at what age a baby is able to sin.

God chose before the foundation of the world those whom He would save. It is possible that omniscient God knew/ordained the early death of each infant who dies and sovereignly elected each one. But the Bible must be tortured to pull this doctrine out of it.

Mohler and Akins admit that every infant has the stain of original sin. They spend a few short paragraphs explaining the wretched state of unredeemed humanity – which includes infants. Then they have this:

What, then is our basis for claiming that all those who die in infancy are among the elect? First, the Bible teaches that we are to be judged on the basis of our deeds committed “in the body.”(2) That is, we will face the judgment seat of Christ and be judged, not on the basis of original sin, but for our sins committed during our own lifetimes. Each will answer “according to what he has done,”(3) and not for the sin of Adam. The imputation of Adam’s sin and guilt explains our inability to respond to God without regeneration, but the Bible does not teach that we will answer for Adam’s sin. We will answer for our own. But what about infants? Have those who die in infancy committed such sins in the body? We believe not.

They claim that since the children of the Exodus were not killed, but allowed to go into the promised land – babies go to heaven. This interpretation is not found anywhere the Bible that I am aware of. They claim that since Jesus said “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these” that actual children go to heaven. Child-like faith is what the Lord was talking about – not having any guile. Yet though Mohler and Akins repeatedly state that infants go to heaven they do not address the question of age of accountability. For IF one teaches the salvation of infants who die, one MUST be able to tell parents how old the baby must be in order to be accountable – how else can this false comfort be provided? It is reasonable that man wants to comfort fellow man. Christian man must not make up doctrines to provide false comfort. The entire Bible tells us Christ is our refuge and in Him alone we are safe. He is our protector, provider, and shepherd. Tenuous “promises” taken from muddied waters into which Scripture was stirred is not how we are to seek understanding or comfort.

We must be content to trust God, rather than make up doctrines that our natural minds embrace. It is reasonable to infer than God puts children in Christian homes because children are a blessing from God and Christians will be able to train the children as God commands. It is a stretch beyond the snapping point to say that children of Christians are New Covenant members – yet this is what Mohler and Akins are saying, for none outside the New Covenant can be saved. But the authors go beyond that and claim that ALL infants who die as such (again – with no line drawn as to how old one can be and claim this promise) were elect.

I am not going to recap the entire article – please read it and decide for yourself. But it is not helpful at all, consisting of man’s reason in an area God has not spoken clearly on.