The Separation of Church and Truth

Cover_RLV_Issue64“Do I have to be a bigot to be a Christian?”  That was the question that Jeff Cook asked in his recent article in Relevant Magazine following the shocking announcement that Exodus International, a ministry focused on homosexuality and the so-called LGBT community, was closing after issuing an apology for “years of undue judgement” and “imprisonment” in an “unbiblical worldview.”  In short, the efforts of Exodus International to speak truth to the homosexual community over the years is now a thing of the past.

Apparently Exodus International had answered Cook’s question with a triumphant “no!”  But it is my allegation that such a question is not only misframed, but it is also misleading.  The better way to ask this question, rather than using the politically charged and culturally expedient word “bigot,” is to ask: “Must one hold to a standard to be a Christian?”

Toward the end of his article, Cook not only tells us that “Christian bigotry” is repulsive and “antithetical to love,” but he also attempts to attach a rough description to it; namely, that it is “irrational devotion to one’s opinions at the exclusion not just of other opinions but of other people.”  I wish to use this description as the framework by which we can peer into the rest of the written piece as a whole.

To begin with, Cook tries to point out, at the expense of 1 Peter 2:9-11, that too often, the Christian wrongly “perceive[s] moral differences as camps as “us” and “them.” marking our opponents and so commencing an ideological war.”  But of course, as 1 Peter 2 points out, it is the very nature of the Church that we are a separate people, called out and chosen.  But how does this logically lead to a situation wherein our enemy are those unchosen and not called out?  Cook assumes that to believe in a separation is to suddenly make others the enemy.  That is a clear distortion of the doctrine of Scriptures.  Regarding whether we have commenced an ideological war, we must affirm that any statement of belief or system of ideas, any creed whatsoever, is an ideology.  And any time written or spoken words are used to express those creeds, especially when they lie in disagreement with the world, is to “commence” a war.

But it is important to note that the war is against the lies of this world and, as the author himself admits, is not against flesh and blood.  There is nothing in our standing strong for the truth that should indicate we are waging war on people.

Now, since our doctrines and systematic theology is mutually exclusive with that of liberalism, (see Christianity and Liberalism by J. Gresham Machen). we apparently fall within Cooks description of a bigot.  We hold to “opinions at the exclusion… of other opinions.”  But the remarkable irony in this description lies in the fact that his entire article points to a view that is mutually exclusive with my own view.  Does this make him a bigot?  If he disagrees with, say, the Calvinist view of election, whereas I affirm such a doctrine, we must face the fact that Jeff Cook is guilty of bigotry.  For how can God both unconditionally elect his chosen people and at the same time not practice election?  To say this is possible is, to use his own word, “irrational.”  Surely Cook would object here by noting that he doesn’t hate the Calvinist, just disagrees with the doctrine.  And I and fine with that.  But cannot I use the very same objection when accused of bigotry for holding to the immorality of homosexuality?

To believe is to exclude other ideas, but it is not to create enemies out of human beings.

Moving away from the matters of belief and bigotry, we must shift the conversation toward Cook’s claims about God Himself.  Cook predictably opines, citing the Romanist Thomas Aquinas, that “God displays his power, not by eliminating all His opponents but by converting them.”  What is slightly humorous about this statement is that it is a clear breach of the postmodern desire to avoid absolutes.  On one hand the option is this: God displays his power by eliminating all His opponents.  On the other hand the option is this:  God displays his power by converting them.  Both Aquinas and Cook choose the latter.  But this does not mean that to disagree with them is to choose the former.  No, we take a different view altogether: “What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory.”  (Romans 9:22-23).  To be clear, we hold that God “eliminates” some of his opponents, but also “converts” others.

From the faulty assumption that God’s “mission is to bring all men and women to Himself,” Cook concludes that “our main concern cannot simply be who is ‘right’ but who is redeemed.”  Such a conclusion is remarkably frustrating.  First, as for “who” is right, we hold that Christ is right.  He is the very truth, the very word, that became flesh.  He is the “who!” And we as Christians ought to follow in his glory and proclaim His name!  Second, to say that we as humans ought to be concerned with “who is redeemed” is to say that we ought to take upon ourselves the role of God Himself! Who is or who is not redeemed is a matter for the Lord, not for us, his lowly servants!  That Cook puts this forward in a Christian magazine is absurd and quite concerning.

Off and on throughout the rest of the article, this idea continues to be pushed that if we work on “relating” to the unsaved and “acting” in the right way toward them and being “bound” to our neighbor, then and only then can we convince others that following Christ is a “respectable, rewarding, and an attractive pursuit.”

There is so much wrong in this method. (1) “Relating” to the unsaved does nothing to glorify God if by “relating” we are mimicking or approving their actions.  (2) “Acting” in a specific way so as to convince them that Christianity is the “way to go” is simply a way denying that “faith comes by hearing” the proclamation of the Gospel. (3) “Bound” to one’s neighbor is a distortion of Paul’s statement that he is a servant to all.  To make this concept more Biblical, we ought to realize that we are bound by the Word, bound by Christ, and then we, with Christ, practice the art of servant hood.  But we are not bound to other people.  No, Christ set us free to be bound to Him and to Him alone.  Lastly, by doing all these things, God forgive us if our intent is to convince others that Christianity is a “respectable, rewarding, and an attractive pursuit.”  Christianity is hard.  It leads to persecution.  It is mocked.  It is frustrating.  It is demonized. What is the Christian life? A hip coffee house?  A theme park?

No, the Christian life is a Pilgrimage.  We are on a weedy and pothole-ridden path home.  But home, in the presence of God’s glory, is where we can rest and receive our reward.  And home can only be our future if we “repent of our sins and believe the Good News” (Mark 1:15) which of course, is a “stumbling block” to some and “nonsense” to others (1 Cor. 1:23).

Big Ol’ Catholic Billboard

billboard2 I took this picture today in Pueblo, Colorado. They also bought the other side of the billboard and it has a different message.

The thing that is just so painfully obvious to me is that Catholics do, in fact, worship Mary. Talking to someone who is dead, and expecting them to be able to help you, seems a lot like worship to me. I realize they don’t think of Mary as God or a god, but they think she can hear millions of prayers at once, and she can at least attempt to persuade her Son to do something.

While it’s obvious to me that they’re attributing abilities to Mary that belong only to God, and that prayer is an act of worship to be reserved for God alone, I’ll just quote a couple of standard Catholic prayers to Mary, and everyone can decide for themselves.

Hail Mary
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed are thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.
Amen.

Morning Consecration to Mary
My Queen, My Mother, I offer
myself entirely to thee.
And to show my devotion to thee,
I offer thee this day, my eyes,
my ears, my mouth, my heart,
my whole being without reserve.
Wherefore, good Mother,
as I am thine own, keep me,
guard me as thy property and possession.
Amen.

DOMA Declared Unconstitutional by the Supreme Court

supreme-court-of-the-united-states-logo-gif-1Today, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down its decision on the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. In a 5 to 4 decision, the Court ruled the law was unconstitutional. The decision now opens the door for the federal recognition of same sex marriages. There are going to be lots of commentary of the next several hours, days and weeks, so I will add little here about the merits of the decision. Much smarter folks than I will do a far better job of it. My concern is more about what does this mean for the individual Christian.

My first reaction is to ask those who are in utter shock by this, “did you really expect anything less?” I do not wish to sound trite or accusatory here. But in truth, there have been many, including those of us here at DefCon, who have tried to sound the alarm that trying to win moral victories through questionable alliances with worldly organizations was wrong. For the church to be unequally yolked with government bureaucrats and false religious systems was to deny God had any power or sovereignty over the situation. It was, in essence, a refusal to believe in the power of His word alone. Yet, American churches and Christians around the country have made repeated compromises in hopes of moral victories. With each new fight, we were willing to acquiesce a little ground each time in hopes of gaining at least some victory. Now the ground beneath us has been eroded away. Are you really that surprised?

My second thought is this, for years many Christians have warned about the growth of seeker friendly churches, the acceptance of false teachers into the Christian fold and the erosion of the true gospel message. Repeatedly those Christians have been told to be silent by the Evangelical church at large. We have been accused of being divisive, judgmental and down-right mean. We were told that we needed to accept a wider tent concept of Christianity. “Doctrine divides!” has been the battle cry of those who believed that it was wrong to hold to a biblical standard of how to define what the church actually is. As a result, more goats have invaded the pews and the true message of the gospel has been supplanted with self help messages that only reaffirm the unregenerate sinner’s belief they are actually good at heart. With no message that people are wretched sinners in need of a righteous Savior, are you really surprised at today’s decision?

My final thought is this, Christians, you have been commanded by the Captain of our salvation to proclaim the glorious message of the gospel. Have you been doing this? Or have you believed that such a command did no apply to you? Did you leave it to your pastor alone, or have you been willing to step out in faith to proclaim the truth the Jesus Christ came to save sinners? I ask this because that is the only real answer to the situation we currently face. Our nation is embracing a pagan and sinful ideology that utterly rejects the Lordship of our Savior. No amount of political machinations can change the a human heart bent on this course. As we have seen in a very short time, a political victory established with installment of DOMA has now been ripped from our hands. So, was it ever a real victory? Or was it merely a speed bump that slowed things down for a brief moment in time? I would say it was clearly the latter.

The heart of man is desperately wicked, forever tainted by the stain of sin. Therefore, all efforts to bring man under the submission of moral law, which is a noble effort as society benefits from it, is bound to ultimately fail. Man will always reject the law of God because he is bound in chains to his sinful flesh. He will always reject God’s authority in favor of his own. Thus, while we as Christians can and should seek to establish a nation that is founded on godly principles, we should never place our hope in that. It is only the preaching of the gospel to lost souls, preaching that is covered in serious study of the Word and intense prayer, preaching that trusts in the sovereign, supernatural working of the Holy Spirit, that frees man from the bondage of sin. That is what we are called to today.

Christian, if you are staring at the TV right now, wringing your hands over this decision, remember this, God is still God and He is still on His throne. You have not been called to rescue a nation from bad politics. You have been commanded to preach the gospel to a lost and dying people. There are souls today that are rejoicing over this decision because it frees them to further pursue the sins of the flesh. Other rejoice because they see it as another nail in the coffin of Christian principles. Even more will just see it as a necessary change to everyone’s personal morality. Yet, none fully realize they are in rebellion against their Lord and King. They do not comprehend the wrath and judgment to come. My question to you is, do you care more about this decision because it makes your life more difficult, or because it reveals the heart of a people in desperate need of salvation in Jesus Christ? Let us be busy about our Father’s business. Let us be preaching the gospel.

Super Sermon Silliness

20121217-090805.jpgThis week I was blessed to fill in as host for Cross Encounters Radio once again. My guest was Andrew Rappaport of Striving for Eternity Ministries. During the first hour we discussed Andrew’s ministry and the work they do to equip Christians in areas of evangelism, hermeneutics and systematic theology. I highly recommend our readers to go the ministry site and take advantage of the resources available. In the second hour, Andrew and I had a lengthy discussion about the current effort from Hollywood to market the film “Man of Steel” to churches around the country as sermon material. Unfortunately, churches in America have been making a practice of using popular cultural icons as a means of drawing “unchurched” people into the pews. Now Hollywood sees an opportunity to make a profit off of this silly, unbiblical and even blasphemous practice. Please download the podcast and listen to the discussion that we had on this issue. I pray it is edifying and a blessing to you.

Cross Encounters Radio: Andrew Rappaport of Jersey Fire

“Blessed is the man”–Psalm 1:1

Psalm 1_1

There are at least 50 places in the Bible that use the word, “Blessed.” Or “Blessed be…” Psalm 128:1Blessed is the man who fears the LORD. Matthew 11:6“Blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” And of course, all the Beatitudes begin with the phrase, “Blessed are…” Matthew 5:3-8“Blessed are the poor in spirit…they that mourn…the meek…those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.” 2nd Corinthians 11:31Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Revelation 20:6Blessed and holy is he who has a part in the first resurrection.

When referring to God, the word “blessed” means “glorified, revered.” When referring to a person, that word “blessed” can also be defined as one who is “happy,” or “to be congratulated.” Today, we’re going to look at what type of person is truly “blessed,” and is deserving of “congratulations.” We’re going to read the first two verses of the first Psalm, and look a little deeper at what the psalmist is saying here.

If we want to be blessed in this life—and especially in the life to come—there are some things we need to avoid. Some people just don’t get that. They think that true joy and happiness come from the things we do and the things we get right now, here in this life. But we’ll talk more about Joel Osteen some other time. And when things don’t quite work out the way they expected them to, and their lives start crumbling around them, and they wonder how it happened, and how they can fix it. And how many times, when we tell them that if they would just stop doing things the way they’re doing them, and trust God, and follow His ways that they will be better able to deal with their situation. It doesn’t mean that their lives will suddenly turn to sunshine and unicorns, but they’ll have a more lasting and true peace about those things.

But, they usually want to hear about how they can keep doing the same thing they’ve been doing, the same way they’ve been doing it—even if it’s the wrong thing to do, and the wrong way to do it—they want to keep doing the same thing, but get a different result. And that is the definition of what? Insanity. Instead of turning to the LORD. When we turn to God for answers—He may not FIX our problems, but He will give us the strength and the patience we need to endure until those storms pass. So, how does one find true blessedness?

Psalm 1:1Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful. We are blessed when we avoid the ways of the world. What we see here in verse 1 is a progression. When we get caught up in sin, is it because we charge right into it? Do we wake up one day and say, “It looks so nice outside. I think I’ll get hooked on meth today!” I can’t imagine that sentence has ever passed through anybody’s lips. But how many times—especially for believers—is it very gradual, and very subtle? How many times have we wound up somewhere doing something that we were so absolutely sure “that would NEEEVVVER happen.” And then you look up one day and you think, “What the heck am I doing here!!”

It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
It’s a slow fade
–Casting Crowns, “Slow Fade”

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly. We need to be really careful about who we look to for advice. There are many psychologists and psychiatrists, and therapists, that—they have all these years of school, and college, and you walk in and they have these fancy diplomas on their wall—and they don’t know a thing about how to help you get through your problems. Other than, “Here, take this pill! It will make you happy!” Many times, our problems—whether they are physical, or emotional, or psychological—most of the time, the root of that problem is spiritual. We may be looking at our problem through our own eyes, and the problem looks impossible—to us. But is anything impossible with God?

Another example: when somebody does something to us, what does the world say we’re supposed to do? Get even with them. What did Jesus say to do? Yeah, you know, that whole “Turn the other cheek” thing.

“You don’t know what Naomi said about me!” They blasphemed Christ.
“But Joseph’s been cheating with my girlfriend!” His people committed harlotry with other gods.
“That drunk driver killed my baby daughter!” And your sins nailed Jesus to the cross.

And I guarantee you one thing: what you’re fixin’ to do to that person is a whole lot worse than what they did to you. It’s never about “getting even”, now, is it? Isn’t it always “get even—and then some”? Somebody does something to you, you have to do worse to them, right? No. Walk away. Don’t walk in the counsel of someone who says you need to “get even” with the one who offended you and hurt your delicate little feelings.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners. How many of y’all remember what high school was like? Not every school is the same, but in most, you’ve got your jocks over here, your cheerleaders over here, your science geeks over here, then you’ve got a group made up of kids who aren’t in ANY group. They’ve made their own group. “We are the ‘not-in-any-group’ group!” You could tell what type of person somebody was by the group they hung out with. The same when it comes to us, and which group we belong to—do we stand with saints or do we stand with sinners. There’s no neutral territory. Hebrews 3:12Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God. Unbelief is evil. I’m sure we’ve all heard someone say they know a friend who is “walking with one foot in the world, and one foot in the kingdom.” That is an absolute impossibility. One cannot walk with one foot in the world and one foot in the kingdom. They will either have both feet in the world or both feet in the kingdom. Matthew 6:24“No man can serve two masters…” James 4:4The friendship of the world is hostility with God. So which path do we stand in? Do we take sides with the world, or with God?

Now, does that mean we can’t have friends who aren’t Christians? No, it does not. We are, in fact, encouraged to have non-Christian friends rather than friends who claim to be Christians, but are living an immoral lifestyle. 1st Corinthians 5:9-11I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person. Let me give you one example of this. I found a video while back from a ministry in Los Angeles. A woman from this ministry was talking to a couple of young men outside the BET awards. They wanted to see all the big-name rappers. These men said, “Yeah, we’re Christians.” And during the course of this interview, these men said (I kid you not) that these rappers were—quote—“God-fearing men.” Apparently, in some people’s eyes God-fearing men rap about going to clubs, having multiple sexual partners, drugs. And these men who claimed to be Christians were standing in the same path with them! Psalm 101:3I will set nothing wicked before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me. Philippians 4:8Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest…just… pure…lovely…of good report…any virtue…any praise, think on these things. We can have non-Christian friends—we should, so we can let our light shine before them, they can glorify our Father in Heaven—that doesn’t mean we should be imitating them.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful. This is the most dangerous of all. Because if you are walking or standing, you can look around and eventually you’ll say, “What am I doing? I’m outta here!!!” But when you sit at someone’s table, you are making yourself comfortable with what they are offering you. When you see a friend—especially one who claims to be a brother—you see them doing something you know is sinful, and not only do you say nothing to him, but you take part in it, you are “sitting in the seat of the scornful.” Proverbs 23:6-8Do not eat the bread of [the greedy], nor desire his delicacies; for as he thinks in his heart, so is he. “Eat and drink!” he says to you, but his heart is not with you. The morsel you have eaten, you will vomit up, and waste your pleasant words. In other words, don’t partake of another’s evil, because they may act like they’re your friend, but when it’s all said and done they don’t care about you, and you’re going to be in worse shape than you were before.

Another thing to consider: think about how Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons go about their work. Do they just stand outside the Wal-Mart and hand out tracts? No. They knock on your door. They want to come into your house. And what do they want to do? They want to sit down with you. And they want you to be comfortable. And if you know what Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons believe, then you know Satan is coming through that door too, right? 2nd John 9-11He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds. When we lived in our last house, we lived about 3 blocks away from a Mormon church. And on 3 separate occasions we had some Mormon missionaries come to our door. And it was cold outside. And we stood at the door. And they tried to tell me all about their polygamous prophet. And I want you to know, they did not step one foot in our house. And they probably about froze. But I was not about to let them in the house. Why? Because I was not a good neighbor? No. Because God tells us not to! You want to preach your false god, you can do it from outside my door. But you ain’t stepping foot inside.

Now, Psalm 1:2 kinda gives us the other side of the coin. It shows us what we can do to find true blessedness. Psalm 1:2But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. What is the Law? It’s all those 613 commandments in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. Which is the great commandment? Matthew 22:37-38“‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment.” This is what we meditate on day and night. Love the LORD our God with everything in us, and our neighbor as ourselves. Where does it teach us to do that? The Law. You can watch talk shows, read all kinds of books written by people who don’t know the LORD—and don’t want to know Him. You can get all kinds of advice from the newest, trendiest pop psychologist. But you will never know how to please the LORD if you don’t read His word.

Charles Spurgeon said,

“‘His delight is in the law of the Lord.’ He is not under the law as a curse and condemnation, but he is in it, and he delights to be in it as his rule of life; he delights, moreover, to meditate in it, to read it by day, and think upon it by night. He takes a text and carries it with him all day long; and in the night-watches, when sleep forsakes his eyelids; he [reflects] upon the Word of God. In the day of his prosperity he sings psalms out of the Word of God, and in the night of his affliction he comforts himself with promises out of the same book.”

He’s saying that “day and night” doesn’t just mean the sun coming up and going down. But the day can also refer to when things are going good, and the night when things aren’t so good. And in it all, we know that God is sovereign over it all, that nothing happens in our lives that He does not allow, and if He does allow it to happen it is so we can glorify Him in the midst of our trouble. Psalm 30:5Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

Blessed be Your name
In the land that is plentiful
Where your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
When the sun’s shining down on me
When the world’s ‘all as it should be’
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name
–Matt Redman, “Blessed Be Your Name”

When things look bleak, we have promises from God that He will see us through it. When we have joy, we can find countless ways to praise Him for His goodness! No other religion on earth gives any assurance that you are pleasing that particular deity. Not the Buddhist god, nor the Hindu god, nor the god of the Jehovah’s Witnesses or the god of the Mormons. And especially not the god if the Muslims. But if we know Christ then we can know, without a doubt, that we are indeed children of the One, True, Living God. Let me finish up this quote from Spurgeon.

“‘The law of the Lord’ is the daily bread of the true believer. And yet, in David’s day, how small was the volume of inspiration, for they had scarcely anything save the first five books of Moses! How much more, then, should we prize the whole written Word which it is our privilege to have in all our houses!”

Think about that for a second. When these Psalms were written, all they had was the Torah. They didn’t have the book of Romans. Or Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. They did not know about the cross. They did not know that the sinless Son of God would be made sin for us, so that we could be the righteousness of God in Christ. All they knew was “LAW”. Consider this also: there are some parts of the world where if you get caught with a Bible, you’re dead! There are still other places that have never seen one! Yet how casually do we treat it, we who can go into any Wal-Mart or Target, without fear of prosecution—or persecution—and pick one up, and it’ll cost you 5 bucks. Some countries, it’ll cost you your life! But blessed are we when we take this book, and read it, and study it, and believe in the promises contained inside and understand that this is the perfect word of God, not just a bunch of stories. “Bunch of stories from old Jewish guys.” No, they are not. This beloved book is no less than a collection of 66 love letters from God to His people.

I’ll close with an example of a man who did not walk in the counsel of the ungodly. In Luke chapter 23, after Jesus has given up the ghost it says in Luke 23:50-53

  • Now behold, there was a man named Joseph, a council member, and a good and just man—a good and just man, in the middle of that Sanhedrin that wanted Jesus dead.
  • He had not consented to their decision and action—a good and just man in the middle of a bunch of blasphemers—but he voiced his opposition, and did not walk in the counsel of the ungodly.
  • And he was looking for the kingdom of God—His delight was in the Law of the LORD and on that Law he meditated day and night.
  • This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever been laid—When it was all said and done, he took the Word of God, went to great lengths to care for it, and laid it in his own tomb—knowing that Christ’s body wasn’t going to be there forever. And three days later, it wasn’t.

We don’t need advice from the ungodly. We don’t need to imitate sinners and we certainly do not need to partake of and feel comfortable conforming to the ways of those who mock and scorn God. Let us meditate on the Law of the LORD, let it be our guide to living lives that please Him, knowing that our God and Savior Jesus Christ fulfilled all 613 commands contained therein, freeing us from its yoke and giving us life and life more abundantly! Praise Him for His indescribable Gift! (2nd Corinthians 9:15).

I’ve Got Your Back

Jim Galvin, co-creator and co-editor of the Life Application Study Bible, advertises himself as an organizational consultant specializing in strategy, effectiveness, and change who is relentlessly focused on releasing the potential of IveGotYourBack-400pxleaders and organizations. He has written a book on biblical principles for leading and following well, titled I’ve Got Your Back. I was provided a copy of this book free of charge provided I review it. So here ya go!

I’ve Got Your Back by Jim Galvin

a review by Stuart Brogden

This book is subtitled, A Leadership Parable – biblical principles for leading and following well, and indeed most of this small volume is a story about common folk who are professing Christians struggling with life’s challenges and being gently educated by someone older and wiser. The second part of the book, one chapter, boils down the biblical principles contained in the 11 chapters of the parable and puts them squarely into their proper theological context.

Throughout the book, Galvin shows us application of biblical leadership principles, not so different from many books that do so, but leave out the person and the work of Jesus Christ – without Whom none of us can do anything good! This focus is made clear in the theological wrap up, but not so much in the parable. The author provides good counsel through his mentor, Jack, structuring three categories of leadership with 5 ways of following. Applying these in accordance with proper interpretation of the Bible, Galvin fails to press on the characters – and his readers – that all good we are able to do is by the grace of God in His Son. There is much talk about God and the Lord, along with much self-talk about making choices and facing fears – none of this is bad. It simply does not bring in the One in Whom we are able to do all things. This dawned on me as I was reading the last chapter – it’s subtle enough that one might not notice the absence of Christ from the parable, at least in a meaningful way. Chapter 5 is a prime example: quite a bit of Scripture presented showing how one is to live. Not a hint of the only provision we have for living right – only advice to “work harder”. Here’s the fine point – we are to work hard, but never thinking we are sufficient apart from Christ; not a one-time decision to follow Him, but a daily recognition that He is our strength and wisdom and strong tower.

Our author makes clear the monergistic aspect of our salvation, calling us passive in our justification, and he goes on to say that our sanctification is very much a cooperative effort in which we work hard and strive for godliness – “while remaining utterly dependent on his (the Holy Spirit) power.” Amen, hallelujah, praise the Lord! The first 9 pages of part 2 are very good and have a proper focus on our eternal dependence on God. Some of the content on pages 148 & 149 need to be woven into the parable; if the author thinks he put it there, it did not work for me, Christ is hidden.

I think Galvin’s categories of leadership and followship are mostly on target and will be valuable to the reader. The danger for all of us is to follow Jack’s lead in the parable and teach biblical principles apart from the person and the work of Christ Jesus, leading people to think they can do what the author tells us (in part 2) we cannot do – manage life with others in work and church without being a new creature in Christ and trusting in Him alone for strength and wisdom to live rightly in this evil age.

Read the book – but by all means do not fail to read part 2. The parable alone is not what the body of Christ needs. We need to be reminded to fix our eyes on the unseen, trusting in the Lord of Heaven for protection and provision now and for eternity. To Him be honor and glory and dominion forever!