Osteen Waffles on the Gospel!

Mark Anthony Escalera:

It is a beautiful day to remind all who proclaim the truth of God’s Word that we must have backbones to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Originally posted on Defending. Contending.:

It is a sad day when some within evangelicalism would classify Joel Osteen as an evangelical Christian. There is no room in Scripture for waffling on the gospel. A person who claims to be a minister of the gospel and yet claim that he doesn’t know whether Jews, Muslims, or Hindus would go to hell if they do not believe in Jesus Christ alone is not worthy to be a minister, and according to Scripture this man is not even a true believer himself. His teaching is nothing short of heresy. True believers, be warned of this wolf in sheep’s clothing. Dr. Steve Lawson does an excellent job addressing Osteen’s waffles.

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Evaluating the Strength of Arguments in the Sabbath/Lord’s Day Controversy, Part 1b: What are the Positions?

Manfred:

Here’s part 1 of what looks to be a thought-provoking examination of a controversial topic.

Originally posted on The Sabbath Complete:

With a wider view of the history of the controversy and the various expressions of belief, it is time to examine how each position develops its case. There are similarities among the three major positions and, of course, differences. Below, the three major positions will be briefly evaluated. While it is helpful to understand the basic positions as presented here, it becomes even more important to understand the terminology that allows discourse, the method each position uses to state their case, the relevance of cited materials, and finally, the rules of interpretation. These latter considerations will be discussed in following parts of this series.

A Concise Summary of Positions.[1]

The Lord’s Day (LD) position posits that the Sabbath is a ceremonial law that was fulfilled like other typological laws of the OT that pointed to Christ and His work of redemption. The Lord’s Day on Sunday memorializes the…

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What Is Shaping Your Worldview?

Last night, I was thinking about how easy it is to have one’s worldview shaped by society. As Christians, we may not go as far as some but we can still lose sight of right and wrong. The views we once held on abortion or adultery may become softened due to what we watch on TV, people we work with, etc. We may feel like we are living a Godly life because the life we live is better than our neighbor’s; however, we should only have one standard, and that is God’s Word.

Our society might be tolerant but God is not. He tells us very clearly how we are to live. First Corinthians 6:9-10, for example, gives a list of people who will not enter the Kingdom of God. We may not like this list but Paul was very clear in what he said.

I know that it is not always easy to live a Christian life. Temptation lurks on almost every television channel, every news stand, almost every corner (even at church sometimes) and, yet, in 1 Corinthians 10:13, Paul tells us that, with every temptation, God will make a way to escape. You just have to want it.

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Instead of letting the world shape your thinking, begin to study God’s Word to determine what is really right or wrong. It doesn’t matter if it makes sense to you or if you agree with it. This is the only standard acceptable for a child of God. If you are not walking according to its principles, you cannot be one of His children. It’s that simple. You cannot serve God and Satan.

I am currently going through a Bible study called The Walk of Repentance. I went through it years ago but it was time for a refresher course. I’m striving to get my thinking back in line with God’s Word. I truly want His Word hidden in my heart that I do not sin against Him. I want a heart that desires to follow Him, not get away with whatever pleasure I think I can get away with.

I would encourage you today to examine your heart. Are you still on fire for the Lord, wholeheartedly serving and obeying Him? Or have you become lukewarm in recent times, beginning to lose focus of truth vs. false, right vs. wrong? Is Jesus your Lord or just a sidebar to your life? Only you can answer these questions, and I pray you answer them honestly. If you have begun to allow society to shape your worldview, I hope you will turn today and begin again to follow the God who desires you to live a victorious life with Him.

Fruit of the Spirit 3: Peace

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27).

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Ultimate peace: fearing nothing. I doubt very many of us could say there is nothing that we fear but the truth is, for those who know the Lord, we never have a genuine reason to be afraid. Philippians 4:6-7 tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” That is the key: present your requests with thanksgiving, and trust God to take care of the situation. Once you hand it to Him, truly release it. He will carry your burden so that you don’t have to.

Like love and joy, peace is something others notice. In this world of constant change and turmoil, peace is a rare commodity but one that many would like to possess. You have the ability to do so.

I realize if you have walked in fear a long time, this may be difficult for you, but I encourage you to consciously work to get there. Start by thanking God that He is in control of a situation, even if you have no idea what in the world He’s doing. Thank Him for His love and His care. Ask Him to remove all fear and wariness from you and replace it with His peace. Do this as long as it takes until you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He is listening and has only good in store for you. His definition of “good” may be different than yours but it will be good in the end.

peace1Be encouraged, dear Brothers and Sisters. This world is not our final Home. One day all the things that trouble us here will be gone forever. I am looking forward to that day but, for now, let’s do our best to walk in the Spirit so that we do not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.

Man of Sorrows

Spurgeon’s Sorrows Sorrows

A review by Stuart Brogden

Zack Eswine has written an easy-to-grasp overview of a condition many Christians and pastors spend too little time understanding. Some because they’ve bought into the lie that being healed by the stripes of Christ is a temporal healing, and we should have no sickness if our faith is strong enough. Some because they do not understand mental problems and do not trust psychiatrists. Eswine studied Charles Spurgeon, who suffered with depression and wrote about it, and he brings the Word of God and the words of men to bear to clear the air and give us hope. My hope is to bring to light a few of the good insights this book has to offer and help my fellow Christians better understand this issue so that we might be used to do good to our brothers and sisters who are suffering with depression.

So let’s sample this book, see how Spurgeon dealt with it, and how our Creator advises us.

Chapter 3

Conversion to Jesus isn’t heaven, but its foretaste. This side of heaven, grace secures us but doesn’t cure us.

“Though substantial healing can come, Charles reminds us that often it waits till heaven to complete its full work.

“We do not profess that the religion of Christ will so thoroughly change a man as to take away from him all his natural tendencies; it will give the despairing something that will alleviate that despondency, but as long as that is caused by a low state of body, or a diseased mind, we do not profess that the religion of Christ will totally remove it. No, rather, we do see every day that amongst the best of God’s servants, there are those who are always doubting, always looking to the dark side of every providence, who look at the threatening more than at the promise, who are ready to write bitter things against themselves …

“Therefore we sufferers of depression in Christ may grow terribly weak, even in faith, but we are not lost to God.

“It is Christ and not the absence of depression that saves us. So, we declare this truth. Our sense of God’s absence does not mean that He is so.”

This is critical for us to grab hold of – our position as children of God, His redemption and righteousness is not based on or determined by how we feel. It is based on His work to earn His place as the Lamb of God, taking our sin upon Himself, and imputing His righteousness to us. These facts and the promises of God are what determine our standing before Him. Our emotions are given to us by God but we are prone to being dragged away from Truth by them.

Chapter 4

“Religion offers both a challenge and a help to those who suffer mental disorders. This challenge surfaces when preachers assume that depression is always and only a sin.”

The author goes on to identify the hope is, as studies which indicate people who are part of a religious community do better with mental health (citing Lauren Cahoon, “Will God Get You Out of Your Depression?” (ABC News, March 19, 2008))

Depression for the Christian is often based on the perception that God has abandoned him. This is a very tangible example of how our theology matters and how our faith must rest in Christ and not our perceptions of His love for us. No doubt, this is easy to say and terribly hard to find comfort in when one is captured by his emotions. Our author quotes saints of old often and here, he shows us they did not neglect Satan. The devil doesn’t cause depression but he certainly is eager to encourage it! At this point, the Christian must fight.

“We plead not ourselves, but the promises of Jesus; not our strengths but His; our weaknesses yes, but His mercies. Our way of fighting is to hide behind Jesus who fights for us. Our hope is not the absence of our regret, or misery or doubt or lament, but the presence of Jesus. “Doubting Castle may be very strong, but he who comes to fight with Giant Despair is stronger still!”” (a quote from Charles Spurgeon, “Christ Looseth From Infirmities,”)

He goes on to cite “three tough words” from Spurgeon. First, he defends those who suffer by pointing them to Christ. Secondly, he cautions them not to haunt themselves on purpose with the dreaded notion that somebody somewhere might be happy. Thirdly, Spurgeon would – when he thought it necessary, be direct with those who refused to fight their depression. His sermon, A Call to the Depressed, is cited as a prime example of this tactic. “Perhaps in this sermon, we see Charles the human being trying imperfectly to administer help to sorrows not easily diagnosed. In his earnest and fragile attempts to help, we see our own.”

Chapter 6

“Jane Kenyon’s remarkable poem, “Having it out with Melancholy,” poses two “God” problems associated with depression and our attempts at care. First, depression ruins our “manners toward God” because it teaches us “to exist without gratitude,” and tempts us to answer the purpose of our existence as “simply to wait for death,” since “the pleasures of earth are overrated.” Second, depression tempts our friends to offer the following advice: “You wouldn’t be so depressed if you really believed in God.””

This chapter provides the reader with biblical counsel for those who are depressed, who, our author points out, “lean on metaphors” to describe how they are feeling. Mental problems are hard to convey to those who have not experienced them, so abstract descriptions rarely suffice. The Bible communicates mental anguish via metaphor: Ps 88:3-7, 69:15, Job 13:25, Prov 18:14, et. al.

Three ways metaphors are sufficient to communicate to those in depression:

“(1) Metaphor leaves room. It does not propose to cover every angle, understand every possibility or to explain every detail. It does not require only one possible explanation. Language that proposes to do this with depression exposes its ignorance of the situation at hand.

“(2) Metaphor allows for nuance and difference. Since each person’s experience with depression differs, metaphor allows for diverse expression. Formulaic prose or platitudes immediately reveal their lack of realism regarding how depression damages someone.

“(3) Metaphor requires further thought and exploration. It is a word of invitation more than destination which, we observed earlier, is crucial for gathering up the debris of depression.”

The Bible communicates a creator God Who completely understands His creatures and the plights we face.

“A larger story about God exists that possesses within it a language of sorrows so that the gloomy, the anguished, the dark-pathed, and the inhabitants of deep night are given voice. Such a god-story is neither cruel nor trite. Such a story begins to reveal the sympathy of God.”

Divine sympathy is your teacher, dear caregiver; your ally and friend, dear sufferer. Let His sorrow’s language help you.

Chapter 7

Four ways we can make things worse:

“1. We judge others according to our circumstances rather than theirs. “There are a great many of you who appear to have a large stock of faith, but it is only because you are in very good health and your business is prospering. If you happened to get a disordered liver, or your business should fail, I should not be surprised if nine parts out of ten of your wonderful faith should evaporate.” Jesus teaches us about those who lay up heavy burdens on others but do not lift a finger to help (Matt. 23:4).

“2. We still think that trite sayings or a raised voice can heal deep wounds. A person “may have a great spiritual sorrow, and someone who does not at all understand his grief, may proffer to him a consolation which is far too slight.” Like a physician who offers a common ointment for a deep wound, we “say to a person in deep distress things which have really aggravated him and his malady too.” In this regard, Charles teaches us the Scriptures, “Whoever sings songs to a heavy heart is like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, and like vinegar on soda” (Prov. 25:20).

“3. We try to control what should be rather than surrender to what is. We must not “judge harshly, as if things were as we would theoretically arrange them, but we must deal with things as they are, and it cannot be questioned that some of the best believers are at times sorely put to it,” even “to know whether they are believers at all.” The Scriptures teach us about Job’s friends who struggled at this very point.

“4. We resist humility regarding our own lack of experience. “There are some people who cannot comfort others, even though they try to do so, because they never had any troubles themselves. It is a difficult thing for a man who has had a life of uninterrupted prosperity to sympathize with another whose path has been exceedingly rough.” The Apostle Paul teaches us to comfort others out of the comfort that we ourselves have needed and received (2 Cor. 1:4).

“According to the Bible, when we encounter someone who weeps, we too are meant to weep (Rom. 12:15). When someone encounters adversity they are meant to reflect and meditate, and we with them (Eccles. 7:14). Without this together-sympathy our attempts to help others can lose the sound of reality. The loss of this sound of reality forges the larger reason for our harshness.”

Chapter 8

I wrap up with the author’s review of how our Savior relates to us. The common passage, Hebrews 4:14-16 (Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.) emphatically tells us that Jesus has suffered temptation and is able to sympathize with us – and He bids us come to Him! He is the cure what ails our souls and minds. This is not, as we are told, only in the here-after – the Lord is our comfort in this age. For in this age we are hated by the world, attacked by our flesh, and wearied by all the effects of sin that inhabit us and our environment. Jesus is our ever present helper and that’s where I want to end.

We Are Christians First, Americans Second

There is a video floating around in social media where a preacher by the name of Tatsuo Akamine was arrested for “disturbing the peace.” The officer eventually arrested him and took him away. I am writing, not to give an exhaustive thought on the whole situation, but to present a lost theology that I think applies here and in many other contexts within our American culture.

First, it is best to watch the video to get some background.

Also, if you want to tap into my brain as to what sparked me to write about this, please read Tony Miano’s article about what both the preacher and the officer did wrong. It is very enlightening, and it will further assist where I am coming from in this article. (Tony Miano is a  preacher with 20 years of law enforcement experience as well as several run-ins with the law in other countries)

Let’s kick start this with a thought from Charles Spurgeon from “Lectures to my Students.”

I am somewhat pleased when I occasionally hear of a brother’s being locked up by the police, for it does him good, and it does the people good also. It is a fine sight to see the minister of the gospel marched off by the servant of the law! It excites sympathy for him, and the next step is sympathy for his message. Many who felt no interest in him before are eager to hear him when he is ordered to leave off, and still more so when he is taken to the station. The vilest of mankind respect a man who gets into trouble in order to do them good, and if they see unfair opposition excited they grow quite zealous in the man’s defense.

Obviously, this portion of LTMS would be fitting if the preacher, Tatsuo, was yielding to arrest without giving any resistance. But it is a great point to ponder should we have to be persecuted for righteousness sake.

I had a brother in Christ who came and helped us during an outreach for Cheyenne Frontier Days 2014 here in Cheyenne, Wyoming that talked about all the times he was arrested and set free. That’s right! He has been arrested multiple times, held in confinement, but no charges were ever made against him! Why? This is what he says (not exact words).

“Our law system, unfortunately, is designed for you to plead ‘not guilty’ so that you can pay court fees, lawyer fees, and so on. Although I could easily challenge the law, I don’t. Why? When I go to court, and they hear about what I did, when they ask me if I would like to plead guilty or not, I always say, ‘Guilty your honor.’ That shocks the judge and officer every time. They are expecting me to say ‘not guilty’ and evoke amendments and rights, but I don’t have time for that. When they ask me ‘why’, if I am allowed to give an explanation, I just kindly tell them,’If preaching the gospel is a crime, then I am guilty as charged.’ This way, they can see that I am being unlawfully held. But if they charge me with something, it actually has to be illegal, or they have to find some way to dig up a law that says it’s illegal. They haven’t done it yet, and I continue preaching and handing out tracts and talking to people until one day it actually becomes illegal.”

This is a great point to consider. I have often felt this way when discussing the subject of preaching the gospel. Sure, we don’t have any right to be dishonoring to the Lord and belligerent. And we do have rights as Americans. But we are Christians first, Americans second. We are to yield to detainment even if it is unjust at times, and we know it.

In my career, I have been brought to the law before, but not for preaching the gospel. But I still applied the same biblical principles of peace, yielding to those in authority, and cordial, Christian behavior. It really helped people to see that I wasn’t the monster they wanted me to be. It made the process much smoother, and in the end, God delivered me without conviction. If He didn’t, I was still prepared to endure what I felt would be God’s will for me at the time. That’s right. I was ready to go to jail for something I didn’t do. It is a different feeling. It is a different way of thinking, knowing that I would have to prepare to praise God for going to jail. Military jail at that. But God is faithful and sovereign.

The reason I felt this way is because whether it is for the gospel or not, I feel like we forget that God’s people have endured different kinds of suffering in the Bible. Also, there are multiple Scriptures that teach us something about yielding to authority without resistance, even if we know we are in the right. I pray these Scriptures would help us to have a right attitude about how we are to approach authorities.

Ecclesiastes 10:4 “If the spirit of the ruler rises against you, Do not leave your post; For conciliation pacifies great offenses.”

Titus 3:1-2 “Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.”

Romans 13:2 “Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.”

1 Peter 2:23 “…who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously…”

I know that each Scripture above has its individual contexts. I know that when it comes to the gospel, we are to obey God rather than men. I know that if the laws of the land are unjust, we are to take up the banner of Christ and speak up against it. However, don’t take what I am saying out of context. The Scriptures above indicate some kind of yielding and suffering under authority. If a ruler or authority comes against you, control your body and tongue, and yield to the authority that has been given to them. This doesn’t mean you always have to remain silent. It just means your attitude and motives need to be submissive to the authority that has been granted to them when the time comes for you to face arrest, detainment, or possibly death (if it ever comes to that). Also, another option, as Tony Miano points out in his article, is to actually stop doing whatever is causing the authority to come against you, and further inquire about the law or contact a law organization like Liberty Institute to find out more information.

One final thought. In presenting these texts, I am not saying you shouldn’t go to the law if you feel it is necessary. I am also not saying that you shouldn’t utilize some of the resources like Liberty Institute that help people who are unlawfully charged. What I am saying is that maybe it is time we start showing the world how sovereign God by showing some submission, and how we care more about souls being saved than our own rights. Some of us like to tell non-believers that we don’t have any other rights before God because we are sinners who have broken His law, and yet turn around and demanding “our rights” when law enforcement challenges us. This ought not to be so. We are to be Christians first, with the humility of Christ to guide us in our sufferings and persecutions. If we are to be hauled away by the law, go to with a humble heart that doesn’t resist. If it is not for the gospel, the same applies, because we are still ambassadors of the King.

I pray God prepare us all for the persecution that is on the horizon. I am also desperately praying for revival. Go into all the world. Preach the gospel to every creature.