A New Direction

Street SignHaving been the head administrator for the last several months, I have been blessed to work with some truly wonderful brethren and to interact with a great many of our readers personally. Having been here for nearly two years, I believe that many of the articles we have written have truly been beneficial and God honoring. And I believe those articles have helped many readers to understand the holy nature of God better, causing them to glorify the Lord. With that being said, I have also had the opportunity to be moderator of the comments and the interactions we have with our readers. I have seen the reactions that some of the things we have written cause, not all of the reactions we have received have been pleasant, or even God honoring. In fact, there have often been times where things have gotten downright snarky.

Now, I have never been one who feels that Christians should cower in a corner and not stand up for the truth. I believe that we must stand and proclaim the only truth there is, the word of God. If we were to fail to proclaim the truth for fear of how we would be received, we would be sinning against God Himself. We must not, in fact cannot, compromise the truth of the gospel. However, in standing up for the truth, it is possible for us to be so caustic or arrogant in what we say that we can do just as much damage as we hope to defend against. I fear that in our efforts to defend the solid truths of the gospel, we as a blog, have crossed that line on more than one occasion. The result has been that we have engendered a spirit of divisiveness and even bitterness among ourselves and our readers. For this, I must sincerely apologize.

As Christians we are called to proclaim the truth of the gospel to a lost and dying world. And we are to do so with all the love and compassion we can possibly show. We are heralds of the true and living gospel, proclaiming salvation through Christ alone. We are also called to use our gifts to edify and strengthen the body of Christ. To build it up for good works that glorify our Savior. If we fail to obey these commands from our Lord, we are indeed in sin. Many times throughout the run of this blog, various authors have attempted to make the call for all of us to eliminate the sometimes caustic and arrogant attacks we level at each other. There have been pleas to speak the truth in love and compassion, both to the lost and the saved who frequent our pages. Yet, I continue to see the end result of that which we have posted. I have seen the arguing and spitefulness we have been responsible for. Thus, we have failed to heed our own call.

Now, in fairness to my gifted pool of contributors, I know that the proclamation and defense of the truth will always have its detractors. There will be no end of those who wish to argue and pervert the truth. Therefore, now matter how much love and compassion we write with, there will be those who seek to stir up strife for their own gain. It is not those who concern me. It is those with whom we are true brethren, those with whom we may disagree but are yet in the faith, that we have sometimes eviscerated with our words that I am compelled to apologize to, and ask forgiveness from. While none of us have ever set out to purposefully harm our brethren, our desire to defend the theologies we are passionate about has sometimes been misplaced. As lead administrator, it is my duty to keep this matter in check. I have failed in this and ask for forgiveness from those we have hurt.

One reason I believe that much of this is has occurred is that we are part of that blogosphere that is known as “discernment” ministry. We have long tried to warn believers that there are enemies in the camp. However, in our zeal to defend the bride of Christ, we have sometimes gone after even true brethren for even perceived minor wrongdoings. This has created that spirit of divisiveness and bitterness I mentioned above. While we are supposed to defend the truth of God’s word, we are also to evidence our faith by how we love the brethren. But we when have wrongly taken them to task, what we have actually shown is that we are very good at eating our own.

To that end, I want to say that as head administrator, I am changing the direction of DefCon. I want to take us out of the discernment arena and get us back into the gospel arena. Henceforth, our articles will focus on those things that teach and edify the body, rather than be a constant barrage of what is bad in Christendom. We will seek to teach and expound, building up the body to magnify God and do good works. We will write about how Christians should interact in this world from a gospel centered worldview, about the absolute need to be busy proclaiming the gospel, on things which educate them on areas of biblical parenting, relationships, etc. Along the way, it may be necessary to warn our readers against obvious goats in the camp. We will write about these assaults on the gospel, but no longer will it be our sole focus.

With this new direction will come new responsibilities for us as writers. We must keep our motivations and feelings in check. We must balance our passion for the truth with our need to love our brethren, and even our enemies. We must strive to honor God and His word above all else. I ask our readers to pray for us during this time of transition. Petition God that we would be honest, faithful and true to His word. That we would be a blessing to Him and not a curse. I also ask that you would stand with us, continue to read and comment on our articles. Be encouraging where we are getting it right, and call us, lovingly, into account when we blow it.

Defending Contending has been a blessing to a great many people over the years. As the broken and busted vessel that God has blessed to run it, I desire to see it be an even greater blessing in years to come. I thank you all for your continued prayers and support. May God bless us as we seek this new direction for His glory.

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.

Gospel, Discernment, and Passion 2013!

It is my prayer that this post will prove to be a connection between the matters of presenting the gospel and that of the area of discernment among the body of Christ.

First, I note that each contributor has a different set of giftings for which I am very thankful. When The Pilgrim was the primary owner of the blog, we were blessed in the addition of good men who I believe continue to take Defending Contending in a solidly, biblical direction. Chris, who took over from The Pilgrim, has a huge heart for evangelism and outreach as does Bill Phillips. Manfred, Fourpointer, and Abiding Through Grace have helped to bring a solid reformed perspective to this part of the blogosphere. The Pilgrim and I set a tone for world missions and also the need of discernment in the Body of Christ.

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Yet, each contributor is only human. We make mistakes, and further, we all have areas of sin that the Holy Spirit has to work to correct in our lives. None of us have arrived, nor would we ever want to portray such a picture. As our long-time readers will remember, there are times that we have each had to ask forgiveness for something we wrote, maybe that was in haste or in anger. Through all of this we continue to move forward and desire to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ.

For the record, we are not always in agreement with our thought processes, nor with a particular point of doctrine that we seek to understand. However, there is no question that we all love the Savior and desire truth in the inward parts of our heart and soul. My fellow contributors may not even be in full agreement with this post, but I believe I can safely assert that we all have the same desires – purity in the church and a church that is fervent about spreading the gospel message!

Recently, both Chris and I have posted a few articles that have dealt with two areas that are not diametrically opposed to each other. Conversely, they are actually a very necessary part of how we are to operate within the confines of a local church setting. His approach and strong desire for the presentation of the gospel has been matched by my own desire to have a spirit of discernment as we present our case before the thousands of readers we see come to DefCon every week.

In the midst of this, some have questioned our decisions either to bring a spotlight on a pastor, or in not going far enough in our condemnation. This is my main reason for writing this, especially in light of what we are seeing take place at Passion 2013 right now in Atlanta, Georgia.

From a gospel perspective, I believe that if more people were being presented with a Christ-centered message versus a man-centered message that there would be far fewer who were in attendance. The problem with Passion 2013 is that those in attendance are being driven by emotion. Further, they are seeing this event being openly endorsed by men such as David Platt and Justin Taylor. This event is not only being endorsed by well-known ministers, but men who should know better are also involved in preaching there such as John Piper.

The question we are faced with is, “Does such an endorsement automatically place men like Piper, Platt, or Taylor under such a cloud that we have the right to call their salvation into question and classify them as unbelievers?”

This is where the discernment perspective must come in. There are wolves who have always sought to infiltrate the church of the spotless Lamb of God. There will always be wolves. There can be no doubt that the salvation of a person is a matter that ultimately can only be known between that individual and the Sovereign God of the Universe. However, the Scriptures make it abundantly clear that we can be fruit inspectors and that by the works of others we can have a clearer picture as to their spiritual condition or lack thereof.

Taking this to another level, we must also consider discipline as found in Matthew 18. First, we must recognize that discipline is to be practiced between fellow believers, but that some aspects can only be effected in a local church setting. As an example, if I have offended another brother contributor, I have the responsibility before God to make that right. However, should things heat up and we have a falling out, neither my church, nor the church where the fellow contributor is in fellowship, have the right to bring another under discipline if they are not a member or in fellowship with that particular assembly.

Therefore, for those who lack in discernment in evangelical circles, we at DefCon can only bring warnings to others. We cannot bring ultimate judgment against another. Further, many seek to use Matthew 18 to make the point that if we have not taken our grievances to that person in question that we have no right to make public our concerns. This also comes from a poor understanding of this passage. The level of discipline is first to be enacted and finalized at the level to which it is either private or public knowledge. For example, if a brother contributor and I have a disagreement and we resolve the matter without it going public in any form or fashion, it goes no further. Restoration has taken place.

However, a person who has a public ministry and has openly stated where he stands or is showing a lack of discernment has taken the matter to a public level. There is no more private conversations necessary for the testimony at stake is no longer just a personal one, but is a dispersion against the Bride of Christ before a lost world.

Either way, at no point, does Matthew 18 give us the freedom to state to the world that the person who is offending others is an unbeliever. We are told and given the right by Christ that if such a person goes all the way to the final step of discipline that they are to be placed outside of the protection of the local church. They are then to be TREATED as one who is an unbeliever. The entire process is to continue giving forth the message to them and seek to provide restoration. This was a primary purpose for the writing of 1 and 2 Corinthians. Matthew 18 was fully enacted, but 2 Corinthians was necessary for the church to see their error in not admitting the brother back into fellowship. In this case, the man in question was in grievous sin that was not even found among the amoral society of Romans. Yet, at no point in either book does Paul question this man’s salvation!

jesusband
So, let us look further at the events currently unfolding at Passion 2013. There are some there who are teaching another gospel and are openly teaching or practicing or promoting heresy. This, in my estimation, includes Louie Giglio. It also includes groups or individuals that are practicing doctrines of demons. This group would include David Crowder, Christy Nockels and the band Jesus Culture.

A thorough expose on these groups can be found at Apprising.Org, and I highly recommend any person with questions to go and read my Christian brother’s blog posts before making any negative comments about my inclusion of these groups or individuals. Suffice it to say for now that these music artists are highly charismatic and further give evidence that Jesus is merely a byword, not a Person Who has changed their way of life. For further information, I would highly recommend reading the following post as well on the connections of those leading Passion 2013.

In addition, you have a woman, Beth Moore, who is clearly in contradiction to the teaching of God’s Word. She is considered an elder, teaches and preaches to men, but further is openly involved in the Roman Catholic teaching of contemplative mysticism. This type of meditation and mindless repetitious prayers were openly condemned by our Savior during His earthly ministry. Beth continues to refuse to be corrected and has continued a slide further into the acceptance of Roman Catholics as being on the same road to heaven as Christianity.

The Bible makes it clear that there is only one way to heaven, and what the Roman Catholic system teaches is not salvation by faith through grace alone. Beth is no longer just endorsing religions such as Roman Catholicism. Her teaching shows that she is promoting a completely different gospel. While we would pray and hope that she will see the error of her ways, we can only conclude at this point with the words of the apostle Paul in Galatians 1 – if anybody, even an angel, preach ANY OTHER gospel than what we have preached to you, then let them be accursed. This is not my words, nor is it my decision. Her actions and words bring condemnation upon her and her ministry.

So what about John Piper? Personally, I have learned much from several of his earlier books with the exception of his teaching of “Christian” hedonism. A very poor choice of terminology and shaky theology at best is at play here. However, in more recent times, there have been growing questions about his connections, his endorsements, and I am convinced that this has produced questions about where his theology is changing to from books such as “Future Grace.”

His endorsements are wrong, and I have not seen one thing that convinces me that he is preaching at Passion 2013 with the intention of bringing biblical clarity to the thousands who are gathered. Actually, he now openly endorses the ungodliness that is in place, holds hands with Beth Moore, and has even been captured on video practicing contemplative mysticism! This certainly does bring him into question and at this time, I believe we are only left with two conclusions. First, his lack of discernment continues to drive him down the road towards full-blown apostasy at the expense of biblical truth. Second, while I am not prepared to question whether he has ever come to a point of saving faith, I am prepared to learn from the words of John MacArthur, who has in the past noted that a person who evidences no change, has no fruit, and continues in full-blown apostasy must be concerned as to whether they were ever saved to begin with.

Sadly, the problem is compounded by the inclusion of heretics like Judah Smith, who co-pastors a church with his wife in Washington. His connection includes preaching at Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church and Mark Driscoll fully endorsed this event. Yes, this is the same Driscoll and Warren that are so openly welcomed and share pulpits with John Piper. These men all have the same thing in common – they are students of humanist authors like Peter Drucker, who died as a heathen pagan – without Christ.

My prayer is that those who like Chan, Piper, Platt, and Taylor, who have preached and taught the truth will wake up and see the truth. The truth is that they are being sucked into the whirlpool of expediency, the whirlpool that says numbers are more important than truth, the whirlpool that produces ever-increasing numbers of false conversions, and the whirlpool of apostasy that threatens to swallow all the other whirlpools like the black holes of space. Soon no spiritual light will shine forth from their ministries for error, heresy, and the doctrines of demons will swallow any glimmer from view, or it will ultimately prove that there was no light to begin with.

nouturn For now, I would share the words from the apostle Paul as seen in 2 Corinthians 11:13-15, “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.”

Today, we MUST have the true gospel of Jesus Christ being preached to the world. The church has an awesome responsibility to reach out to the world and share in love the truth of God’s Word. The world must hear that there is ONLY one way to heaven and that is through the finished work of Jesus Christ.

However, preachers, pastors and ministers of the gospel must not only practice spiritual discernment, but they must also teach their people how to discern between what is right and what is wrong. Conferences like Passion 2013 are filled with thousands who are either not saved, or they fall under the category of being let down by the men who were entrusted with their spiritual well-being.

Pastors who have not stood up to this nonsense should repent for putting their people in harm’s way. Parents who have allowed their children to attend such a conference should also repent for putting their children, whom they were given to protect, in the way of the forces of hell that seek to blind the minds of their precious gifts. Men like Francis Chan, David Platt, Justin Taylor, and John Piper have a responsibility to take a stand no matter what it costs in the way of book sales, or affiliations, or even the numbers of followers they have garnered. If there is a time for men like these to take a stand and apologize for their lack of discernment and for misleading the body of Christ around the world by their open endorsements of heresy, charismania, and yes, even the doctrines of demons being openly endorsed by people like Beth Moore, Mark Driscoll, Louie Giglio and others.

But then again, Paul warned us in 2 Thessalonians that there would come a time before the return of the Lord that apostasy would take place within the church. Maybe this is what we are seeing. I fear for those who have failed in their calling and with their testimony. I fear for what they will face when they stand before the Lord in judgment.

May we not pride ourselves on who we are, nor that we have not fallen ourselves! Brothers and sisters, may our thoughts remain on the Author and Finisher of our faith. May we remember that but for the grace of God, we could be the ones that are where these others now find themselves.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Mark – TJM

Pharisees, leprous Samaritans, and other bloggers.

This post may not win me friends, and it may only make the sport of loathing me (and this blog) all the more attractive, but I am compelled to address a problem within the Christian internet community; a problem that doesn’t appear to show signs of ending anytime soon.

The problem I am speaking of is the increasing (and unnecessary) condescension and personal attacks from upper class Christians of the blogging world directed toward their lower class brothers and sisters.

This unsightly pock mark on the face of the Christian blogging world has risen to an alarming level and ignoring it –or hoping that it will soon run its course—simply won’t alleviate the problem. In this post I will be brutally honest (risking possible verbal retaliation and smears) but I hope and pray my words will be received in the spirit in which they are intended and will not actually contribute to the already inflamed derision among the caste system of Christian bloggers.

If anyone is offended by what may appear as an overly harsh rebuke or admonition (or some tongue-in-cheek), I apologize in advance, as my intent is not to offend, but the situation has boiled to such a level that pulling punches will serve no good in my appeal to see an end to this disadvantageous behavior.

I am also not deluded into believing my words will persuade all parties involved, but I do pray that it will cause at least a few of the combatants to pause and reflect on just how poorly attitudes and behaviors have gotten lately. I also pray that those involved will repent for the damage already done and then join me in calling a truce in this war among brethren.

To be fair.

I must begin by conceding that there are in fact some very angry, argumentative, and combative Christian bloggers out there who really need to reconsider the reason they blog. These bloggers (which comprise a very small minority) would do the cause of Christ and the gospel a service if they would consider taking a sabbatical to reevaluate their current spiritual state. (I have already addressed this issue in my previous post Caustic Calvinists.)

The fact is, these acidic bloggers are not representative of every Christian blogger out there who happens to find themselves outside the gates of the upper echelons of the blogging food chain, and I reject the efforts by some to lump all lower class apologist bloggers together as part of the seething minority.

But this post is not about them. This post is about the elitists who paint all inferior bloggers in cyberspace with the same broad brush as the few caustic bloggers.

My observations.

In my estimation most Christian bloggers fall into two main categories:

1). The hierarchical internet popes who see themselves as the only class of bloggers that are worthy, able, and enlightened enough to defend the faith and address the problems within the church.

To be analogous, I liken this growing elitist mentality to the Pharisees–not in the malicious way that critics apply the term as a way to stifle their opponents in a debate–but in the sense that, like the Pharisees, these bloggers strongly present themselves as the only ones worthy to deal with religious matters. All other bloggers are just not at the spiritual, educational, and intellectual level necessary to blog as the elites are, and thus, all other Christian bloggers would do best to leave the temple grounds and take their laptops with them.

2). The rest of the Christian aplogetics blogging world falls into the other category. These low-level mavens of the blogging world are what I analogously (and affectionately) refer to as the dreaded leprous Samaritans, those unclean pariahs not even worthy to blog alongside their premier blogging counterparts.

These oftentimes sincere and faithful bloggers are commonly referred to by their elitist superiors by the pejorative terms “watchbloggers” and “ODMs” (online discernment ministries), names strategically employed to marginalize them and their worthless contributions. The professionals view these gentile bloggers with utter contempt and–given the opportunity–would likely have those unkempt, vile dogs of cyberspace censured (if not tarred, feathered, flogged, and burned at the stake).

Friendly fire.

It’s true that not every menial blogger has been to seminary; it’s true that not every blogging serf has a master’s degree; it’s true that not every lower class blogger has had a book published; it’s true that not every peasant blogger has the greatest of depth in theological understanding; it’s true that not every amateur blogger has the following year booked up with speaking engagements around the nation, but does this mean that these grunts in the trenches of the battlefield have no right to exercise their freedom of speech as they write about the gospel, the faith, and their convictions, simply because they don’t say it exactly in the manner that the upper crust in the blogging world would?

Do these amateur bloggers really deserve all the loathing, condescension, and rancid vitriol that they’ve been increasingly receiving from these elites?

If we’re all truly in Christ then we’re all in this truth war together, but when the generals begin turning their cannons on the ground troops, the cause of Christ is sullied.

When the world gazes upon the bloody and battered mass of wounded warriors (many of which eventually succumb to the injuries inflicted on them by their comrades), the unbelieving snicker at us as they slip deeper into their self-assurance that all this friendly fire is simply more “proof” of the utter failure and futility of Christianity. Because, after all, Jesus said that the world would know that we are His disciples by the love we have for one another. Unfortunately the world sees anything but this type of evidence when they visit some Christian blogs.

Ironically, oftentimes the subpar bloggers that the elite loathe the most are the ones who are linking to their sites, recommending their books, and posting their sermons.

The common goals of those in the truth war.

Aren’t we all unified under the same Lord with the same shared purpose of  glorifying God, spreading the gospel, and defending the faith from those who have crept in unnoticed?

All Christians are undeniably in this truth war (even if most professing Christians prefer to avoid controversies). And in spite of the seemingly vast chasm affixed between the upper-crust bloggers and their inferiorly-viewed lower-crust bloggers, they share much in common. Here, for your consideration, are just some of the commonalities that these two tiers of bloggers share:

- Both camps believe in the essentials of the Christian faith.

- Both camps believe in defending these essentials from the wolves who seek to subvert them.

- Both camps have a righteous indignation for false teachers that lead the sheep astray.

- Both camps have a passion to share the gospel of Jesus Christ (the only means of salvation) to a lost and dying world.

- Both camps adhere to the God-glorifying Doctrines of Grace.

- Both camps rejoice, take comfort in, and proclaim the sovereignty of God over His creation.

- Both camps believe in the perspicuity and divine origin of the Scriptures.

- Both camps believe the Bible doesn’t contain the Word of God but is the Word of God.

- Both camps proclaim the Solas of the Reformation.

- Both camps have placed their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as the propitiation for their sins.

In other words, both camps are comprised of actual, literal brothers and sisters in the Lord, members of Christ’s body, fellow Christians. And each of these bottom dwelling Christian bloggers that are loathed, smeared, dragged through the mud, and demeaned by other Christian bloggers are dear souls that have been redeemed by the precious shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Forget not that those you deride are the Lord’s beloved bride, and will be sharing a seat at the table of the Lord’s marriage feast with you.

Enough is enough.

To the ostentatious bloggers of grandiose superiority, I am calling for a stop to this madness of public ridicule of fellow Christians who are in the same war fighting the same battles. Quit viewing them as too unsophisticated and unworthy to blog because their polemic is not to the same degree of eloquence or level of loftiness that you possess. I urge the generals to bear this in mind before their next public evisceration of a foot soldier on their theological bayonets of contempt.

Jehovah’s Witnesses are quietly opening new Kingdom Halls, Rome is quietly baptizing new converts, Mormons are quietly gaining more approval and legitimacy in the arena of public opinion, Emergents and liberals are quietly subverting the gospel, the anti-theists are quietly publishing more books questioning the existence of God, and Muslims are quietly planning their next mass-casualty attack in the name of Allah. And all of this is happening while the ones who hold the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ—the very gospel these souls trapped in their growing false religions so desperately need to hear—are  preoccupied in a pretentious battle of who’s allowed to blog or not.

Oh, how this is all to our shame!

The beginning of strife is like letting out water,
so abandon the quarrel before it breaks out.

Proverbs 17:14

What Discernment Actually Looks Like

A few days ago I posted a link from Phil Johnson on the Pyromanics blog regarding Mark Driscoll’s self-proclaimed “gift of discernment”, which sounded more like a man with a dirty mind talking offensively to the sheep under his care. In the post on Driscoll’s madness found HERE , I call attention to why I believe Driscoll has fallen away from the basic pillars and  qualifications of an elder/overseer of the church (I am assuming that he had these qualifications at one point). He is speaking on discernment while demonstrating the lack of discernment in what is appropriate for discussion from the pulpit…or, sadly, the stage as it is in his case.

I now want follow up on this story by sharing what real discernment looks like.

John MacArthur was asked in this video what he thinks may come about in the church in the years to come and MacArthur is quick to comment on the essential component missing from so many churches and pastors today in the reformed faith. In part one he talks about how having reformed soteriology doesn’t give you a pass in regard to the role as a shepherd or with the way you conduct yourself.

Part 1 – Reversal of the Reformed Revival

In part 2 of this interview, MacArthur again challenges us in a wonderful way. Are our pastors involved in the life of the church? Are you attending a church that has a video screen playing the sermon, which MacArthur calls “Flat Screen Preaching”? How can you tell if this man is qualified to be an elder and above reproach if he only exists on a video screen? What sort of church is that? We should not allow a rock-n-roll event on Sunday morning replace the  shepherding care of our souls.

Part 2 – Reversal of the Reformed Revival

Let us not forget how Paul instructs Timothy regarding overseers of the church in his first letter to Timothy. These words are tragically ignored, forgotten, pushed aside, and downplayed way too much today:

1 Timothy 3:1-7

The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.

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Exposing error is most unpopular work. But from every true standpoint it is worthwhile work. To our Savior, it means that He receives from us, His blood-bought ones, the loyalty that is His due. To ourselves, if we consider “the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt,” it ensures future reward, a thousand-fold. And to souls “caught in the snare of the fowler”-how many of them God only knows-it may mean light and life, abundant and everlasting.

- Dr. Harry Ironside

1876-1951

Quotes (797)

“Be ye separate” – 2 Cor. 6:17

The Christian, while in the world, is not to be of the world.  He should be distinguished from it in the great object of his life.  To him, “to live”, should be “Christ”.  Whether he eats, or drinks, or whatever he does, he should do all to God’s glory.  You may lay up treasure; but lay it up in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, where thieves break not through nor steal.  You may strive to be rich; but be it your ambition to be “rich in faith”, and good works.  You may have pleasure; but when you are merry, sing psalms and make melody in your hearts to the Lord.  In your spirit, as well as in your aim, you should differ from the world.  Waiting humbly before God, always conscious of His presence, delighting in communion with Him, and seeking to know His will, you will prove that you are of the heavenly race.  And you should be separate from the world in your actions.  If a thing be right, though you lose by it, it must be done; if it be wrong, though you would gain by it, you must scorn the sin for your Master’s sake.  You must have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.  Walk worthy of your high calling and dignity.  Remember, O Christian, that thou are a son of the King of kings.  Therefore, keep thyself unspotted from the world.  Soil not the fingers which are soon to sweep celestial strings; let not these eyes become the windows of lust which are soon to see the King in His beauty – let not those feet be defiled in miry places, which are soon to walk the golden streets – let not those hearts to be filled with pride and bitterness which are ere long to be filled with heaven, and to overflow with ecstatic joy.

-C.H. Spurgeon

1834-1892