Jeremiah’s Lament

Jeremiah’s Lament Jeremiah

What In The World Is Going On? – Reviewed by Stuart L. Brogden`

Once more, a “Christian” book touts its status on the New York Times and USA Today Best Seller’s list. Each time I read such a book, I try to find out why worldings would find the book so interesting. This book is a sensational fable presented as fact, based on a theology birthed by Roman Catholic Jesuit priests in the 16th century and a mystic young woman of the 19th century who belonged to the Plymouth Brethren. The priests developed the future-based Anti-Christ and Mary McDonald was given the pre-trib secret rapture in a dream, which she told to John Darby (details on this background here: http://www.dispensationalism.org.uk/). This is not the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. While some Christians have accepted premillenialism since the first century A.D., the dispensational twists (pre-trib rapture, fixation on the Anti-Christ, and focus on national Israel) are new fabrications. If dispensationalism is true, why would Sovereign God keep it a secret from His people for 1800 years?

David Jeremiah starts each chapter with a story from culture or history that sets the stage for his “prophetic clues”. None of these 10 prophetic clues make any sense unless one accepts the fable that dispensationalism is biblically sound. But there is not a single verse in the Bible that supports the pre-trib rapture, not one. Please watch this short video to gain a better understanding of this issue: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQgrJ-pYhCM

I will not comment on each chapter – to do justice on such an effort would take a book. One more preface to specific comments: Dispensationalists tend to be guilty of paying heed to current events and finding some prophetic Scriptures that can be wrapped around them, sounding biblical to those who are not disciplined in studying Scripture. To facilitate this, Jeremiah starts each chapter with a tale from recent history or current events. He claims (page xv) to be “viewing current events from the perspective of God’s wonderful Word” but a careful review of his book and of Scripture discloses that he is reading the Word of God through the lens of current events. This leads into his “prophetic clue” of each chapter, as he acts as a pied piper of dispensational error.

The dispensational error of being focused on Israel shows up in a classic way on page 3: “Apparently God finds Abraham and his descendants to be of enormous importance.” This tendency of assigning value to the creation rather than seeing God using sinful, rebellious people for His purposes is a common affliction. Further in this opening chapter, pages 4 & 5, the author brags on the Jews throughout history – as if they, rather than Almighty God were responsible for their success and influence. Yet he admits on page 7 that “The Bible tells us His choice of Israel had nothing to do with merit.” Back a page, Jeremiah proclaims his belief that God’s promise of land was the most important covenant promise made to Abraham and on pages 9 – 11 he tells us it is not yet fulfilled. Yet Hebrews 11:8-10 show that Abraham “was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.” In John 8:56, the Lord declared to the Jews, “Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” Abraham knew the terrestrial property which Israel fully claimed all that was promised by God (read Joshua 21:41 – 45), contrary to the dispensational claim that this promise is yet to be fulfilled. The promised land on Earth was a type and shadow of the Promised Land that Christ will bring all that the Father has given Him unto. Not some dusty bit of the mid-east. Still in the opening chapter, on page 18, we are told that the promise given in Jeremiah 32:37 – 38 is yet to be fulfilled. This promise, however, was fulfilled at Calvary, when Christ ended the Jewish religion and delivered on His promise to pay the debt for all God’s chosen people, giving each new-born Christian a safe refuge and identity as His people.

Chapter two shows a man who knows or cares so little about spiritual realities that he bases a sermon or two on crude oil (page 35), calling it “the stuff of life” (page 27) and a “sign” (the inference I drew is that he considers this a biblical sign). On page 30, the author reveals that he disbelieves the biblical account of creation, believing oil took “eons of time” to create. On page 38, Doctor Jeremiah tells us that Deuteronomy 33:24 (And of Asher he said, “Most blessed of sons be Asher; let him be the favorite of his brothers, and let him dip his foot in oil.) and Genesis 49:22 – 26 indicate there is oil beneath the dirt occupied by the modern nation of Israel. The oil mentioned in Deuteronomy is olive oil, used in medicine and religious anointing. The passage from Genesis simply refers to blessings directly from God in Heaven and indirectly from God here below. To derive a promise of crude oil from these passages is perhaps the worst example of eisegesis (reading assumptions into Scripture) that I’ve seen.

Let me say that I agree with parts of this book. The author’s warning (page 42) that we who profess Christ remain vigilant and focused on the Lord and his admonitions #2 –10 (pages 233 – 234) on how to live until the Lord returns are both spot-on. Likewise, chapter 4 – his warning about Islam – is a bold statement that many soft-hearted, fuzzy-thinking people need to read.

But the balance of the book is in the same vein as the first two – based on faulty presuppositions rather than on Scripture. On page 69, Doctor Jeremiah tells us that Romans 13:11 is a warning about the end of the age, but the context clearly is that of instructing Christians how to live in the world, in light of our firm hope of eternal life. On the same page, we see another common aspect of dispensational teaching – a works-based view of salvation, wherein one is told to “accept His offer of salvation”. The Bible tells us we are drawn to Christ and salvation is “not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12 & 13). This Arminian error shows up in a couple places throughout this book and is deceptive and man pleasing – but has more in common with heresy than with biblical truth.

Compounding his error in teaching a pre-trib rapture, Jeremiah devotes a chapter (#5) to digging a deeper hole. He claims 1 Thessalonians 4:13 – 18 describes the pre-trib rapture (page 102) and he calls this a “stealth event” (page 100) which only Christians are aware of (page 206). A stealth event which only Christians witness, characterized by “a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God”. Reads like something everybody will know about – like the resurrection of every soul on Judgment Day.

In chapter 6, we are told that the Bible prophecies a role in the end times for the United States of America and foretells Russia invading Israel. This is in your Bible to same degree as his crude oil find in chapter 2. He relies much on his country, calling our way of life “our lifeline” (page 129). Perhaps he ought to look unto Christ as his lifeline! On the next page, he quotes the “high priest” of pre-trib rapture, Tim LaHaye, who asks, “Why would the God of prophecy not refer to the supreme nation in the end times in preparation for the one-world government of the Antichrist?” I suggest LaHaye and Jeremiah reacquaint themselves with the lesson of Judges 7:2 and Psalms chapter 20. God does not need nor does He depend on horses, chariots, or superpowers.

Chapter 7 is devoted to propping up the fable from Rome that there is a future Antichrist who will rule the world. Remember – this doctrine did not exist until the 16th century and appears to be a Roman Catholic response to The Reformation, which taught that the office of pope was the AntiChrist. In this chapter, Jeremiah quotes A.W. Pink as a supporter of this view. This was true, but Pink later repented and had unkind things to say about dispensationalism, in the same way a former smoker hates cigarette smoke. Read Pink’s later statement, in four chapters, here: http://www.pbministries.org/books/pink/Dispensationalism/dispensationalism.htm

My suggestion to the reader who wants to know what will happen is to read the Gospel of John and cry out to God for repentance and faith. Christians do not fear tribulation, for our God is a strong tower and a secure refuge. Out God knows how to save His people from harm, in the midst of trouble. We are promised safety from the wrath of God’s judgment (Romans 8:1) but we are promised trouble and tribulation while we live on planet earth: Matthew 24 describes significant tribulation that His people will face; John 16:33 informs us we will have tribulation in this world; Romans 8:35 tells us tribulation will not separate us from Christ; Romans 12:12 tells us to rejoice in tribulation. Rather than being raptured before tribulation, the Bible tells us we will be preserved in and through tribulation! This is more to the glory of God – shielding and protecting His own – than a pre-trib rapture, where He snatches them up before trough times hit. It takes a mighty God to protect His people through the midst of tribulation. Have faith in God!

Rick Warren has a pope!

James White continues to stand firm, praise the Lord! I do wish, however, that he would not run to the Reformation as his first line of defense as he often does. While I agree with and thank God for the Reformation, our first line and only line of defense is the Bible – as White came back to later in the video. Also, nowhere in the Bible do we see or get instruction on “living out the gospel”. The gospel is a report of the news of Christ’s redemptive work – it’s not something we live out. Because of the work of the Holy Spirit in conjunction with the gospel, we are raised to new life and live for the glory of God, proclaiming the gospel to dead men everywhere. But we do not and cannot live the gospel

None the less, may the Lord protect and hold up our dear brother as he continues to press on!

Religion vs. God – LGBT issues

A recent article by the Huffington Post is doing its part to undermine the truth of Scripture. Entitled, “The Gender You Associate to God May Indicate How You Feel About Gay Marriage.”

The truth is that we have no right to assign a gender to God. He is God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who was equally God and equally man. If one wrongly assumes that God may be a woman to pacify the liberal and LGBT communities, then we have to wonder how long it will be before somebody rewrites the Bible to show that Jesus was actually a woman. You can take every page of Scripture and rewrite it to satisfy the lusts of the world, but it will never become truth. EVER!

LGBTBible

Read the differences between what leaders within major world religions have to say versus what God says.

Desmond Tutu, Anglican Archbishop Emeritus of South Africa – “I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this. I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven. No, I would say sorry, I mean I would much rather go to the other place.”

Francis, Pope of the Roman Catholic Church – “Who am I to judge a gay person of goodwill who seeks the Lord? You can’t marginalize these people.”

Laura Geller, Jewish Rabbi - “Now I can invoke the power vested in me by the State of California and declare them married in accordance with the laws of the State of California and our Jewish faith. Now we are so much closer to the truth of their experience: a gay or lesbian Jewish wedding, like a Jewish heterosexual wedding, is a Jewish wedding pure and simple, the inheritance of every loving Jewish couple.”

Dalai Lama – Head Monk of Tibetan Buddhism – “If someone comes to me and asks whether it is okay or not, I will first ask if you have some religious vows to uphold. Then my next question is, What is your companion’s opinion? If you both agree, then I think I would say, if two males or two females voluntarily agree to have mutual satisfaction without further implication of harming others, then it is okay.”

Rev. Jesse Jackson – Religion of Civil Rights – Supports gay marriage and would perform a marriage of gay couples “if I was asked to.”

Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Anglican Church – “I mean I know plenty of gay couples whose relationships are an example to plenty of other people and that’s something that’s very important, I’m not saying that gay relationships are in some way, you know that the love that there is less than the love there is between straight couples, that would be a completely absurd thing to say.”

Well, that should be enough to show the apostasy and the lack of Biblical truth within every one of these religions. Now, what does God say about LGBT issues. Here are a few thoughts from GotQuestions.org.

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9-10).

romans1

“In summary, Romans 1:18-31 deals with the fact that God has innately made Himself known to humanity, but He has been rejected and replaced by other objects of worship. Because of this, God has delivered two judgments: one of homosexual behavior and another of an immoral mind, each of which demonstrates His ‘abandonment’ wrath toward humanity’s rebellion.”

The truth is that ALL those who willfully remain in their sin stand condemned before God. It does not matter what kind of sin – homosexuality, lying, murder, lesbianism, cheating, pedophilia, hating, idolatry, bestiality. What matters is how far each person is from a holy, righteous God. When God saves the sinner, He CHANGES them and makes them a brand new creation in Christ. If you are a true believer, you will NOT go back with pleasure to your sin. To say God saved you to continue in your sin is to grossly misunderstand the Scriptures.

Final Score = God Wins, Religion Fails.

Persuasive Preaching

Persuasive Preaching Overstreet revised3 (7-19-14)

A review by Stuart Brogden

R. Larry Overstreet has subtitled this book, A Biblical and Practical Guide to the Effective Use of Persuasion, and in his prologue (page 4) makes the case that in order for preaching to be persuasive it must include a public invitation. We will see, in chapter 12, that Overstreet is not a disciple of Charles Finney – he warns about the abuse that has followed after Finney’s “new methods”, comparing persuasion with manipulation. What, then, does our author mean by the term “persuasive preaching?” He defines it at the end of chapter 1, page 14:

“(a) the process of preparing biblical, expository message using a persuasive pattern, and

(b) presenting them through verbal and nonverbal communication means

(c) to autonomous individuals who can be convicted and/or taught by God’s Holy Spirit,

(d) in order to alter or strengthen

(e) their attitudes and beliefs towards God, His Word, and other individuals,

(f) resulting in their lives being transformed into the image of Christ.”

While I would combine (c) with (b) and (e) with (d), the overall point he is making is one I think any pastor could embrace. What pastor would not want his people to be transformed by the renewing of their minds as a result of the Spirit working through his preaching?

The bulk of this book, chapters 3 – 11, is an extensive, technical argument in favor of persuasive speech, from the Bible and pagan perspectives – heavily footnoted. I found this part of the book ponderous and laborious; perhaps because I am already convinced that the Lord has shown us we are to be persuasive in our presentation of His Word, while not trusting in our ability to persuade men as an effective means of building His people up.

I think chapter 13, “The Holy Spirit in Preaching”, is the most important part of the book. Overstreet rightly points out that He is the originator of God’s Word (page 172), the revealer of God’s Word (page 172), the communicator (page 175), and the propagator of God’s Word (page 177). We are reminded that the Holy Spirit equips the preacher (180) and the listeners (181). These are excellent reminders and much needed in these days, as so many people have apparently latched on to the notion that preachers are the ones who do these things! Our author instructs us to not grieve or quench the Spirit, but walk in the Spirit, be filled with the Spirit, and in prayer to the Spirit (pages 184 – 191). If the book had ended here, it would have been fine. But Overstreet told us in the prologue that persuasive preaching must include an invitation – so the last chapter, 14, is on that topic.

Much of this last chapter presents the reader with the notion that chapter 13 was not for real – as men are presented as the change agents for “receiving Christ” and “committing themselves to full-time Christian service” (page 194). Overstreet acknowledges (195) that decisions are sometimes known only to God but tries to make the case for public invitations in order make them known to men. He quotes Faris D. Whitesell, who comes across as a Finney disciple: “Anything that helps us to carry out the principles and teaching of the Scriptures in a more effective and practical way is scriptural.” I cannot help but think of Eli’s children and wonder of Whitesell and Overstreet recall their doom.

As he pulls together his arguments in favor of public invitations within the local church, he draws on myriad passages of Scripture that show public invitations and exhortations being made without the local church. The invitations in the Bible are consistently “repent and believe!”, called out all men everywhere. Within the church, we see an intense struggle to stay faithful to the Word to equip the saints. Only once that I am aware of do we see unbelievers in the church – and they are not invited to the front. The focus from Paul is to be clear in the presentation of the Word of God, that the unbeliever might be convicted of truth (1 Cor 14:22 – 25).

While I am not in agreement with Overstreet’s premise – persuasive preaching does not have to end with a public invitation – I am encouraged by his counsel on the use and construction of the invitation:

Be Sensitive to Length

Be Clear in Appeal

Be Exact in Action

Be Loving in Presentation

Be Consistent with Message

Be Positive in Expectation

Be Earnest in Delivery

And he is wise in his warnings the problems one might face with the use of public invitations:

The Liability of Confusion

The Liability of Narrowness

The Liability of Weariness

The Liability of a “Canned” Invitation

The Liability of Unethical Behavior


The focus of this book is good – preachers ought to be persuasive in their preaching! Preachers ought to call men to repent and believe, to cast aside sin and press on with our eyes fixed on the Lord. But we find no biblical warrant for having a public invitation at the end of our sermons. I am thankful for men who understand the dangers of abusing the invitation system – though that abuse tends to be the model followed by most who use it. My prayer is that those who think it important would find in this book a sound argument for being sober and restrained in its practice, lest men think it’s the preacher upon whom all things depend.

Church Problems?

We occasionally repost articles by permission from other writers. Pastor Jon Gleason does an excellent job in this post addressing the issue of church problems being based on doctrine. I have chosen to highlight a few parts and added a picture.

Church Problems — They Are Always Doctrinal

Most pastors have heard it many times, especially if they are active on the Internet — it hits their email inbox all the time.  “Something has gone wrong in my church.”  Sometimes it is from another pastor, sometimes a member of the congregation, often from someone he doesn’t even know, who gets in touch online.

There’s an additional statement that often comes with it:  “It’s not doctrinal.  The church still teaches sound doctrine.”  That addendum is wrong.  It is always doctrinal.  Problems always are.

The most common errors are probably in Bibliology, the doctrine of what the Scriptures are, their inspiration, authority, and sufficiency.  Close behind, if not even more common, are errors in ecclesiology, the doctrine of the church of Jesus Christ, what it is, its purpose, and its leadership.  But perhaps underlying almost every problem is a failure to truly carry out what it means when we say God is great, holy, loving, and true.  If we didn’t diminish who God is, it would probably be impossible to have problems in the church.

Is the problem that the church has a pastor who won’t lead, or one that is dictatorial?  Those are doctrinal problems.  Whatever may be said from the pulpit or in Bible studies, the practice of the church in teaching the role of church leadership is not according to sound doctrine.  The ecclesiology is in disarray.  If the pastor is dictatorial, the Bibliology of the church is also likely in trouble — instead of the Bible being the authority, the pastor begins to become the authority in the church.  If the pastor is the authority, then we diminish God.

Doctrine

Is the church adopting new and questionable practices in an attempt to bring more people into the church?  Whatever the words of the doctrinal statement may say, the practice of the church is based on a flawed doctrine of salvation.  The pneumatology (the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, including His work in regenerating lost souls) has also probably gone astray, as that is effectively set aside for the view that the new practices are the key to evangelism.  We’ve replaced the work of the Spirit with our own ideas — and diminished God by saying our ideas can do what the Spirit does.

Has the church become emotionalistic, giving the emotions of an individual or the entire group a central focus?  This is doctrinal error on many levels, skewing the ecclesiological doctrine of the church’s worship so that it becomes more about human emotions than about honouring God — we reduce God to a reason for me to get excited or emotional.  It is flawed Bibliology, for the Scripture emphasises truth — the facts of what God has done (not “how I feel”).  It is often errant anthropology (the doctrine of what Bible says man is) by exalting human feelings to the most important part of who we are.

Is the church unfriendly and cold?  The church’s doctrinal practice, whatever is taught in words, denies the doctrines of regeneration and sanctification which teach us to love.  It denies the ecclesiological truth that the church is a family of brothers and sisters, a body united together.

Is the time of teaching the Word decreasing?  If you decide that your church needs more time on other things and less on Scripture, you effectively deny the inspiration and sufficiency of the Scriptures.  Is a pastor’s preaching changing, so that he spends less time simply explaining the Scriptures, and more time telling stories?  Does he give the impression he is more concerned with a powerful or entertaining performance than with simply communicating truth?  It is the same problem — the pastor’s presentation has been exalted to the detriment of the sufficiency of Scripture.

Is someone grumbling and complaining?  That is a denial of the doctrine of last things (eschatology), our future hope.  It is also a denial of the doctrinal truths about sin — if we really believe our sin is as bad as God sees it, then we know that we deserve nothing but judgment, and we have nothing of which to complain.  If we complain because we think we deserve better, we deny the doctrinal truths of God’s grace.  In fact, grumbling is a denial of almost every doctrine in the Bible.

Is there gossip in the church?  That is a doctrinal error on the doctrine of sanctification (as Christians, part of the holy life we are to live is to speak the truth) and the doctrine of the church (we are to be one body, united, loving one another).

page38_picture0If your church has a problem (and which church doesn’t?), it can always be traced back to doctrine, either what is taught in word or what is taught in practice, or both.  Almost always, if doctrinal errors are practiced long enough, they begin to make their way into the verbal teaching of the church as well.

Note:  Of course, the problem just might be you.  You might be the one who is grumbling or gossiping.  The church’s problems may not be anywhere near as bad as you are making them out to be.  You may be the one who is in doctrinal error (in your practice, whatever you say you believe).

How can you tell?  And (the vital question) if the church is in trouble, how can you help?

A good place to start is to identify the doctrinal questions involved.  If there is a real problem, there is a doctrinal error.  Cut through the surface considerations to identify just exactly which doctrine is at stake.  There may be more than one, for many wrong behaviours violate more than one doctrine.

Once we’ve done this, we begin to see the problem Biblically.  When we see problems Biblically, then we not only understand them better, we are well on our way to finding Biblical solutions.

Furthermore, when we can identify the Scriptures and doctrines which are at stake, we are much better equipped to discuss the problems with others, if necessary.  This does not guarantee that any such discussions will go well, but using the Scriptures gives an authority which we could never have on our own.  Most importantly, we’re using God’s way of addressing problems.  The Scriptures are sufficient for the problems in our churches, if we will only use them.

Not every difference between people in a church is doctrinal, but if it isn’t doctrinal, then it isn’t a real problem.  If it is real, there certainly is doctrine at stake somewhere — someone (or the church as a whole) is denying true doctrine, in words, actions, or both, whether they recognise it or not.  If you sort out the doctrine (both stated and applied), you sort out the church.

Curing “Oh My Goodness!”

We are appreciative to Pastor Jon Gleason for writing the following article which is a follow-on to a previous post on taking the Lord’s name in vain. May this be a profit to you in your life. Jon has graciously given us permission to use his articles here at Defending Contending and this one is certainly very timely.

***************

Curing “Oh My Goodness!”

Mark Escalera at Defending. Contending. ran (with permission) my post, “OMG” — and Other Ways Christians Take God’s Name in Vain (this continues to be, by far, my most shared post).  In the comments at DefCon someone said she has tried to break the habit of saying, “Oh my goodness!”

This also is something Christians might say from time to time that has no real profit, is often just a “sanctified swearing substitute,” and is highly dubious theologically as well:

Philippians 3:9

And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

So much for “my goodness” — that pretty much covers it, doesn’t it?  The only “goodness” we have is the goodness of God, so He is our goodness, our righteousness.  What exactly do the words “oh my goodness” mean, for a Christian?  If you say this, your words are not saying what you mean by them….

It seems this is another expression we really could do without.  It isn’t something I ever said a lot, but I became convinced a while ago that I would be best looking to stop.  As with most things we want to do to please our Lord, Scripture provides some help, and I thought I would take the time here to briefly expand on my answer over at DefCon.

Step 1.  Memorise the following verse, or at least the first half of it:

Isaiah 64:6

But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

 

Step 2.  Whenever you slip into the habit and say, “Oh my goodness,” remind yourself your goodness is as filthy rags.

If that doesn’t do it, engage step 3.

Step 3. Tell people close to you (friends, family) you are trying to break the habit, and ask them, every time you say, “Oh my goodness,” to respond, “…is as filthy rags.” If nothing else, you’ll stop just because you get tired of hearing that response!

If they don’t know the Lord, so much the better.  You are giving them an important part of the Gospel in a way they will not be likely to ever forget, showing them your commitment to please the Lord in small things as well as big, and demonstrating a humble awareness of your own sinfulness and need of a Saviour.

In fact, maybe you should just jump straight to step 3!

As with so many other statements that we make unthinkingly, the Christian who says “Oh my goodness” almost certainly never means any disrespect to God, never means to exalt himself or be self-righteous.  It is almost always just a habit into which he has drifted without even thinking about it.

If our Lord has blessed you with a relationship which permits it, perhaps when you hear another Christian say it you can give a gentle reminder of how that expression matches up with Scripture.  Or, if he has a sense of humour, just be ready with a quick response:  “Oh my goodness”” — “…is as filthy rags!”

OMG – Please, not again!

“OMG” — and Other Ways Christians Take God’s Name in Vain

Exodus 20:7

Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

I briefly mentioned, in yesterday’s post, one way in which Christians take the Lord’s name in vain.  Unfortunately, too many of us have become very casual about this commandment, and I thought I’d take the time to mention some things we should consider.

Taking God’s Name in Vain

“Vain” means useless, or empty.  This verse, one of the Ten Commandments, tells us to not use God’s name in an empty or useless way.  God is to be respected as high and holy.  This isn’t optional.

 “OMG”

I read an article a couple of weeks ago (unfortunately, I forgot to note who gave me the link) which I thought was excellent.  I know nothing about the author, but her article (What does the Bible say about OMG?) is excellent.  Too many Christians, in moments of excitement, dismay, etc., say, “Oh my God,” — and it isn’t a prayer.  Others, more “refined,” say, “Oh my gosh,” which is effectively the same watered down a little bit.  When we do this, we are saying God’s name without any real meaning to it — using it vainly.

Text-speak and Internet usage have made this far worse.  Blogs, Facebook, and Twitter too often encourage people to speak quickly and mindlessly, and it is so very easy to type in “OMG” without even thinking about it.  Is that consistent with reverence for our God?  If you see a Christian doing this, perhaps you could send a private note asking him to stop.  He’s probably not even thought about it.

No one ever says, “Oh my Satan,” or a watered-down “Oh my Santa.”  Or, for that matter, “Oh my spaghetti” or “Oh my desk.”  Why do unbelievers always use “Oh my God”?  We know why — the god of this world is influencing them to use words that diminish reverence for the Almighty God.  Why should Christians even mimic that with a watered-down “Oh my gosh”?

“In Jesus’ Name, Amen”

I am NOT saying people should not pray in Jesus’ name.  He told us to.  I wrote about this briefly yesterday (Proverbs 10:24).  The point of praying in Jesus’ name is to pray as Jesus’ representative, and that means praying as He would have us pray.  It is not a magic spell to make our wish list come true, or vain repetition stuck at the end of our prayers.

It is intended to cause us to think about whether we are praying for things that we can and should appropriately ask in His name.  It is to remind us of the glorious privilege given to us as His servants.

“I’ll Pray For You”

If you say you are going to pray for someone, you speak as a Christian who can speak directly to God.  You are promising to speak to Him.  If you don’t do it when you said you would, you took God’s name in vain.  You talked about communication with Him in an empty and meaningless way.

It is not wrong to tell people we will pray for them.  But if we say it, we must mean it and do it.  I have a friend who is careful about this.  I don’t think I have ever heard him say, “I’ll pray for you.”  He does say, “I just prayed for you,” or, “Let’s pray about this right now.”  Something to consider….

Un-Christian Behaviour

About a week ago, News for Christians linked to Taking the Lord’s Name in Vain.  It is worth reading.  The writer appropriately refers to Romans 2:24:

For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you.

If you are called a “Christian”, you are called a follower of Christ.  You carry His name.  If your behaviour gives sinners excuses to blaspheme, you are taking His name in vain.  Those who bear His name must live by it.

T-Shirts, Bumper Stickers, Cute Sayings

I’m not going to get specific here, because those who want to nitpick can nitpick.  Rather, a suggestion:  read Isaiah 6, and see how Isaiah responded to his vision of the Almighty.  Look at Revelation 1, and see John’s response when he saw the Lord of glory.  Remember that even in these visions, not all of God’s glory and majesty was fully revealed, or these men would have died.  And ask yourself, does my bumper sticker, my t-shirt, my cute expression that I like to use, all these ways in which I speak of the Lord, do they really fit with who He is?

When I stand before Him (or rather, when I fall on my face before Him) will I be glad I used that bumper sticker and wore that t-shirt, or will I be horribly ashamed?  Am I altogether too casual and cutesy in how I speak of Him?

“God Told Me”

Many times, we hear Christians say that “God told me” to do something.  Unless it is written in God’s Word, God doesn’t tell me to believe your statement (even if you do believe it).  If there is no reason I should believe that God told you, there is no reason to say it.  The Bible doesn’t tell us to go around saying “God told me.”

If you make a statement the Bible didn’t tell you to make, and I should examine what you say (rather than take your word for it), then to claim God’s authority is to claim it vainly.  “God told me” in any context other than what the Scriptures have said is taking God’s name in vain — even if you personally believe He did tell you.  God doesn’t tell others to believe you when you say it, so it is an empty claim.  You shouldn’t say it.

“God Gave me Peace”

It’s amazing how many times God “gives peace” to people who are doing the exact opposite of what He said in Scripture.  Just because you feel comfortable about your decision doesn’t mean God has given you peace.  Perhaps all it means is that you’ve started to have better sleeping and eating habits so you physically feel better.  Perhaps it means you’ve seared your conscience so badly that it isn’t functioning anymore.

God does give peace, the Scriptures say so.  But the Scriptures never say we should make decisions by checking our “peace-meter” to see if it is measuring high enough.  “Peace-meters” are often inaccurate — God’s Word is not.  Many times, when people say “God gave me peace,” they are merely taking God’s name in vain, speaking it meaninglessly, claiming some kind of God-authority for decisions that He manifestly does not approve.

I am sure there are other ways in which we do not honour our Lord’s name as we should.  We, as Christians, need to take God’s holiness seriously, and give Him due reverence.  We should encourage and help one another to be alert to failings in this area, so that we can speak as He would have us speak.

Somewhat related later post:  Why is “Jesus Christ” used as “Blasphemous Profanity”?

And:  “God Told Me to Preach This”???