15 April 2014

The Parable of the Soils: Giving or Gospel?

photo: Global Crop Diversity Trust via photopin cc
The Word-Faith teachers love your money. They love your money more than you love your money and they'll do whatever it takes to get your money into their pocketbooks. Yes, they will do anything, including perverting and distorting the revealed Word of God.

Most are familiar with the ever-popular concept of "sowing a seed." Mr. Word-Faith Charlatan needs your money. He needs to convince the confused, unregenerate masses to willingly hand over their money. The masses—narcissistic, worldly, sinful, fallen, gullible, lost people that they are—will do anything to attain the fleeting treasures and comforts of this world, and Mr. Word-Faith Charlatan knows it. So he makes promises.

"Need healing? Have faith. Sow a seed."

"Financial trouble? Trust God with your finances. Write the first check to Him and the rest will be cared for and your debt will be paid in abundance. Sow a seed of faith today."

Of course, when the deceived television viewer writes his check to "God," he is told to write it to Mr. Word-Faith Charlatan's ministry because said ministry is doing "God's" work. Yes, just sow your seed and you will be repaid thirty, sixty, perhaps even one hundredfold.

Wait—doesn't that sound familiar? Who else promised a crop of thirty, sixty or a hundredfold?
He began to teach again by the sea. And such a very large crowd gathered to Him that He got into a boat in the sea and sat down; and the whole crowd was by the sea on the land. And He was teaching them many things in parables, and was saying to them in His teaching, “Listen to this! Behold, the sower went out to sow; as he was sowing, some seed fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on the rocky ground where it did not have much soil; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of soil. And after the sun had risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. Other seeds fell into the good soil, and as they grew up and increased, they yielded a crop and produced thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” And He was saying, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Mark 4:1–9
That's right, it was Jesus. Well, then, if those are Jesus' words, then Mr. Word-Faith Charlatan must be speaking truth! Right? Not so fast. . .

11 April 2014

This 'n' That

photo credit: roseannadana via photopin cc
I hate to jinx it, but I think it's finally safe to say that Spring is here. Wait a second while I go check to make sure it didn't start snowing after I wrote that. Nope! Sun is still shining (and for those of you who are panicking, don't worry, I don't actually believe in jinxes).

I love Spring. The allergies I could do without, but in general, Spring and Fall are my two favorite seasons. There's something about the bright colors that start to arrive in late March and April that just makes everything seem a bit lighter, even if life is still delivering trials. By far the things that bring me the most joy in this all-too-brief season are the scintillating songs of the birds (yes, I alliterated on purpose) and the brilliant beauty of the flowers. Over the past couple of weeks in particular, I have noticed day after day the magnificence of daffodils.

They seem to be everywhere—not just in the neighbor's landscaping, but along the side of the road. And not merely along well manicured highways, either. The streets I drive are far from glamorous. Run-down and dirty would be two words that are far more appropriate. Yet a few days ago, as I turned a familiar corner that is decorated by weeds and trash, I noticed another gem: daffodils. There, in the middle of french fry wrappers and cigarette butts was a random, wonderful clump of daffodils. Perhaps they are wild. Perhaps they are the last remaining vestiges of city council efforts from days long ago. Regardless of how they originally were planted, the fact remains that they are God's creation and they are stunning.

God creates beauty even in the midst of ugliness. Whether it is a trial of persecution or pain, or even bearing the consequences of your own sin, He causes all things to work together for the good of those who love Him and who are called according to His purpose. And the ultimate picture of beauty amid sin? The cross. Surrounded by scoffing and mocking, hate and spite, there bled Jesus Christ, Lord of all. Is there a more beautiful reality than the atoning sacrifice of our Lord and Savior dying for our ugly, wretched, wicked, sins? Is there anything more glorious, more indescribable than redemption? Is there anything more precious than the blood of Christ?

Well, perhaps that was not my most skillful segue, but it mimics the randomness of my thoughts this week. I hope you'll take notice of the beauty of God's creation in the coming days. Even more, I hope you'll not forget to look to the cross and to the One whose righteousness has been imputed to you so that the ugly death of sin would not stain your soul.

With that, I also hope you enjoy your week in review (kind of):

10 April 2014

The Willing Submission of Jesus Christ

J.C. Ryle
When Christ died, He died of His own voluntary free will. He uses a remarkable expression to teach this: "I lay down my life that I might take it again. No man taketh it from Me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again."

The point before us is of no mean importance. We must never suppose for a moment that our Lord had no power to prevent His sufferings, and that He was delivered up to His enemies and crucified because He could not help it. Nothing could be further from the truth than such an idea. The treachery of Judas, the armed band of priests' servants, the enmity of Scribes and Pharisees, the injustice of Pontius Pilate, the rude hands of Roman soldiers, the scourge, the nails, and the spear—all these could not have harmed a hair of our Lord's head, unless He had allowed them. Well might He say those remarkable words, "Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and He shall presently give Me more than twelve legions of angels. But how, then, shall the Scripture be fulfilled?" (Matt 26:53).

The plain truth is, that our Lord submitted to death of His own free will, because He knew that His death was the only way of making atonement for man's sins. He poured out His soul unto death with all the desire of His heart, because He had determined to pay our debt to God, and redeem us from hell. For the joy set before Him He willingly endured the cross, and laid down His life, in order that we, through His death, might have eternal life. His death was not the death of a martyr, who sinks at last overwhelmed by enemies, but the death of a triumphant conqueror, who knows that even in dying He wins for Himself and His people a kingdom and a crown of glory.

Let us lean back our souls on these mighty truths, and be thankful. A willing Savior, a loving Savior, a Savior who came specially into the world to bring life to man, is just the Savior that we need. If we hear His voice, repent and believe, He is our own.

– J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on John, vol. 2 (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 2009), 214–5.

Further Reading
Beth Moore Prophesies a Coming 'Outpouring,' Warns of 'Scoffers'
Dedicated Pastors Produce Discerning Sheep
Actively Seeking Holiness

05 April 2014

A Word to Parents

Parents, your children have souls which God expects you to nourish with at least as much care as you lavish on their physical needs. Who will teach them if not you? No one is surprised to hear that a ship put out to sea without a compass has sunk or run aground. Why should we be surprised to see children wander far from God, when they have received no spiritual direction?

We see a pattern set for us by the saints of old. David, busy king that he was, thought it his solemn responsibility to instruct his son in the ways of the Lord: "Know thou the God of they father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind" (1 Chron 28:9). And what need I tell you of Timothy's mother and grandmother, who taught him the Scriptures from the time he was a child? I believe a man calls in question his own Christianity if he does not bother to acquaint his child with God and the way that leads to Him. I will even go so far as to say I have never known a true saint who was not deeply concerned about his child's relationship with the heavenly Father.

You will give a poor account at the Last Day if all you can say is, "Lord, here are my children, I bred them gentlemen and left them wealthy." What a mocking witness to your own folly that you would do so much for that which rusts, and nothing for a knowledge of God unto salvation, which endures forever!

No Compromise Radio: Wanted: Preachers and Heralds

Additional Resources 
NoCo90: The Misuse of Matthew 18
NoCo90: I Wasn't Led
NoCo90: The Myth of Free Will

04 April 2014

This 'n' That

It is the joy of every blogger to find him or herself on the cutting edge of breaking news. And even if it's not 'breaking,' if it's at least earth-shattering and unexpected, then the blogger is just as gleeful. Today I have such news to share with you. I only hope that some of you are prepared to receive it because, well, it is big news. Take a deep breath. Sit down.

Okay, are you ready?

Hollywood has produced a movie based on the Bible that completely and utterly distorts the truth of the Word.

Let me give you just a minute to let that sink in.

You never saw it coming, did you? I know. Apparently a lot of other Christians didn't either, because the outrage over Noah, the movie, has been boisterous. It seems that some people are far more comfortable expressing indignation at false doctrine in the movie theater than they are at voicing the same concern over false doctrine in the church.

Yet there is a difference. A huge, massive, not-to-be-ignored difference: we expect Hollywood to hate God and to distort His Word. It is a sad thing, however, that we must expect the same thing from those who profess Christ, yet we are promised as much in Scripture (Matthew 7:15; Acts 20:30) . So yes, this week I grew weary of Christians decrying the theology of Noah when they stand by and smile as men like Rick Warren or Joel Osteen or Steven Furtick do an even greater disservice by twisting God's Word under the guise of Christianity. Now, I am not saying there are not helpful and worthwhile reviews of the film that have been published. In fact, here is one that is quite good. But when the majority of our time is spent on such silliness, we must realize that we are merely providing more publicity for this colossal dupe, and likely are driving more unbelievers to go see it, if for no other reason than out of spite.

So that's my rant for the week. What's yours? Feel free to unleash it (cleanly, of course) in the comments below, but only if it is related to something that you find here in your week in review (kind of):

02 April 2014

Who Is Like the Lord Our God?

Praise the Lord!
Praise, O servants of the Lord,
Praise the name of the Lord.
Blessed be the name of the Lord
From this time forth and forever.
From the rising of the sun to its setting
The name of the Lord is to be praised.
The Lord is high above all nations;
His glory is above the heavens.

Who is like the Lord our God,
Who is enthroned on high,
Who humbles Himself to behold
The things that are in heaven and in the earth?
He raises the poor from the dust
And lifts the needy from the ash heap,
To make them sit with princes,
With the princes of His people.
He makes the barren woman abide in the house
As a joyful mother of children.
Praise the Lord!

(Psalm 113)

Further Reading 
Consciousness and Conviction of Sin
Take and Eat: A False Convert at the Lord's Table
Acting Like Men? Pastors, Pulpits and Profanity

photo credit: mypubliclands via photopin cc