30 January 2011

Sunday Morning Praise

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s a light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
Over us sin no more hath dominion—
For more than conquerors we are!


His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!


28 January 2011

Fix Your Eyes on the Cross

Word of the Day: Modalism

From Christian & Apologetics Research Ministry:
Modalism is probably the most common theological error concerning the nature of God. It is a denial of the Trinity which states that God is a single person who, throughout biblical history, has revealed Himself in three modes, or forms. Thus, God is a single person who first manifested himself in the mode of the Father in Old Testament times. At the incarnation, the mode was the Son. After Jesus' ascension, the mode is the Holy Spirit. These modes are consecutive and never simultaneous. In other words, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit never all exist at the same time, only one after another  Modalism denies the distinctiveness of the three persons in the Trinity even though it retains the divinity of Christ.
Present day groups that hold to forms of this error are the United Pentecostal and United Apostolic Churches. They deny the Trinity, teach that the name of God is Jesus, and require baptism for salvation. These modalist churches often accuse Trinitarians of teaching three gods. This is not what the Trinity is. The correct teaching of the Trinity is one God in three eternal coexistent persons:  The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Bottom line: Modalism is heresy. If you know someone who holds to this error, you should show them from Scripture why this belief is wrong and call them to repentance. If your church is teaching this heretical doctrine, then it would be my suggestion that you quickly flee to a church which espouses the true Biblical doctrine of the Trinity.

27 January 2011

Thursday's Spurgeon

The following is excerpted from a sermon entitled Search the Scriptures, preached on January 17, 1858.
I feel at this particular crisis of religious affairs, it is imperative upon the Christian minister to urge his people to hold fast the doctrines of the truth—the words of God. This seems likely to become the age of preaching, rather than the age of praying. We now see everywhere large congregations assembling in halls and abbeys to listen to the Word preached; and it is an ominous sign of the times, that these preachings are not only espoused by the orthodox, but even by those whom we have considered to be at least somewhat heretical from the old faith of the Protestant Church. It becomes, therefore, a serious thing; for it is most probable—and may not every wise man see it?—that whosoever may now arise who hath some powers of oratory and some graces of eloquence, will be likely to attract the multitude, preach he what he may, though the word that he should utter be as false as God's Word is true, and as contrary to the gospel as hell is opposed to heaven. Doth it not seem probable that in this age he would attract a multitude of followers? and is it not also very likely that through that spurious charity which is now growing upon us, which would gag the mouths of honest reprovers, we shall find it hard to rebuke the impostor when he arises, and difficult to expose the falsehood, even though it may be apparent unto us. We are now happily so well commingled together, the Dissenter and the Churchman have now become so friendly with each other, that we have less to dread the effects of bigotry, than the effects of latitudinarinism. We have some reason now to be upon the watchtower, lest haply some should arise in our midst, the spurious offspring of these happy times of evangelical alliance, who will claim our charity, whilst they are preaching that which we in our hearts do totally condemn. And what better advice can the minister give in such times as these? To what book shall he commend his hearers? How shall he keep them fast? Where is the anchor which he shall give them to cast into the rocks? or where the rocks into which they should cast their anchor? [...] "To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them."

26 January 2011

Serve in Your Church...but First Ensure Your Church is Serving the Gospel of Christ

I finally got around to reading the Winter 2010 magazine of a certain international, interdenominational Bible study. (I will not be naming this organization in this article, though I suspect most of my readers know exactly what group I am talking about. I am also aware that members of the leadership of this organization at its "headquarters" occasionally visit this blog and search on a particular label and topic. To them let me first say "Hello and Welcome!" and also encourage them to contact me if ever they take issue with anything that is said.) This magazine was officially given to members in mid-December, prior to a 3-week Christmas break, and is available online. Per the terms of use of this organization's website, others are only to link to them if doing so in a purely favorable manner, however I must link to the magazine following the quotes below in order to properly represent my source. After all, a good researcher always provides his/her sources when making a declarative statement.

Thankfully, the heretical Message "Bible" isn't quoted this time, but this latest magazine sure does have a feel of the social gospel. It was disappointing to see such an emphasis on "serving" and "doing" and works, with little mention of bringing the Gospel of Jesus Christ into those works. This edition of the magazine encourages its members to go into their local churches and congregations and serve Christ that way. Okay, not in and of itself a bad thing. However, what this Bible study group fails to do, not just in this magazine, but also in its classes, is to encourage its members to stand up for the Truth of God's Word if it is being compromised in their churches. Countless members and leaders in this group are attending weak, Gospel-less churches and yet the organization, rather than encouraging them to seek out a Bible-teaching church, encourages the people instead to stay and serve where they are. Consequently, there are members who have been attending this "Bible study" for over 10 years, yet remain in the cult of the Catholic Church because they have not been shown clearly from Scripture that the Catholic Church teaches a false gospel. There are members and leaders who attend Willow Creek Community Church, who hear Bill Hybels talk to them about listening for "God whispers" each week, yet have never been shown in this "Bible study" that Scripture expressly denies that such revelations are valid. So while it sounds noble to send your members out to serve in their churches, perhaps this organization would best first encourage its members to ensure that they are in a Scripturally, doctrinally sound and solid church, and only then to remain there and serve. And perhaps if they were referring to Christ's true Church, the invisible Church, I would be a little less intent on examining this further. Instead, they are of course referring to the visible church which is, quite regretfully, largely apostate and has drifted far from the truth of God's Word. Unfortunately, this organization often fails to alert its class members to the fact that many churches are obviously and blatantly straying from the clear Word of God.

A couple of quotes from the Winter 2010 magazine:
"God has a calling for [this organization]: Serve My Church. What if every [...] class member took this calling to heart?" (Online Source)
First of all, I would love to know how they came upon this supposed "calling." Was it a vision, a voice, or a liver shiver? Is it someplace in Scripture that I seem to have missed? Of course we all serve our fellow Christians out of love and in response to the Gospel and grace. But language like this implies some sort of extrabiblical revelation that this group has been ordained or, to use one of their own favorite terms, anointed by God to go out and serve.
"What would happen in your community if [this organization's] class members became sacrificial servants of their churches? What would happen if waves of [members] dedicated themselves to church-based works of social concern, propelled by God's sense of justice and concern for the poor, the oppressed, the widow, and the orphan?
Can you even begin to imagine the impact?" (emphasis added, Online Source)
Here's a question: What would happen in our communities if class members went out and preached the Gospel? Can you imagine the impact? What would happen if class members stood against the false hope of the social gospel and called people, even in their own churches, to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ as both Lord and Savior? Wow, now there would be an impact!

I'm not against feeding the poor and all that stuff that gives you the warm-fuzzies and makes you feel like you did your good deed for the day, but I am against it when it is lifted up as more important than spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As Mary anointed Jesus just days before His death, and as His disciples grumbled against this "waste of money," did not our Lord say, "Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me?" (Matthew 26:10-11). Is not our worship of God, then, more important than any earthly ministry we may ever undertake? And in our worship of God, in our response to His amazing goodness and grace, should we not seek first to share His Gospel?

This organization declares itself as a "training ground" so that leaders and members may disperse into their church and community and lead their own Bible studies. Again, a very noble goal. However, what is the true reaction of this organization when members and/or leaders want to go out and begin their own Bible studies? I happen to have a personal answer to that, and it is not a favorable one, but for the time being I will leave personal and family experience out of this article. Instead I will ask, when we are sending the sheep into a church of wolves, what good will it do? Unfortunately, it is simply not possible these days to blindly support and endorse the local church as a generic group. The churches which have chosen the wide path of apostasy are far more prevalent than those who are faithfully walking the narrow road of truth. To elevate the local church without first alerting people as to the dangers and deceptions which are running rampant in most of them is perhaps just as grievous an act as actually participating in the false teaching.

In these days of apostasy, silence toward false teaching is just as dangerous and just as deadly as the error itself. This organization, I can say from experience, has largely chosen to be silent and to silence those who are not. May we pray for our brothers and sisters who have chosen blind acceptance and loyalty to any manmade organization over and above the Word of God.

24 January 2011

Youth Specialties Showcases "The Almighty Bible"

Remember the Almighty Bible, the latest relevant product designed to make the Bible "cool" and "exciting" for kids? Well, today it was announced that this awesome new product would be showcased at the Youth Specialties Palooza Event. The press release reads in part:
The Almighty Bible to Exhibit at YS Palooza Events
ORLANDO, Jan. 24, 2011 /Christian Newswire/ -- For over 40 years, Youth Specialties has placed themselves at the forefront of youth ministry training. Annually they serve over 100,000 youth workers worldwide in nearly all denominations. In 2011, they launched a new training series for youth workers called YS Palooza. These two day events are packed full of all kinds of training from top youth ministry experts will help to inspire and grow your ministry.
The Almighty Bible is an acclaimed new and traditional media Bible project that aims to connect today's youth with the Bible through graphic novels, tablet/phone apps and a virtual world. Kids today are spending an average of 7.38hrs/day using entertainment media and far less time reading books. The Almighty Bible's mission is to make the Bible as accessible and engaging as possible for kids, tweens and young teens today. "We feel it is only natural to present God's word in this format and we are extremely excited to team up with an organization that has such a passion for the next generation of Christians," says Dong Chung, Executive Producer of the Almighty Bible.
Read the entire press release here
The article will go on to quote Chap Clark, Vice Provost at Fuller Seminary (one of today's most liberal pseudo-Christian institutions), and a member of the advisory board for the Almighty Bible. In my mind, knowing that someone so influential at Fuller Seminary had a hand in developing this product makes it even more questionable than it was already.

But what really caught my attention was the fact that Youth Specialties would, in essence, be promoting this new, invigorating product. Why should this be of concern? Because Youth Specialties has been, almost from its beginnings, involved in the Emergent and New Age movements.
"For the past several years, Youth Specialties, a youth-oriented organization, has hosted an annual event called the National Pastors Convention. Each year the event brings in many contemplative speakers such as Richard Foster, Brennan Manning, Ruth Haley Barton, and others. Available to the convention attendees are an on-site labyrinth, late-night contemplative prayer sessions, and workshops on contemplative prayer, emerging church, and yoga. In 2004, [Rick] Warren was a featured speaker at this event and in fact spoke right after a yoga workshop." (Ray Yungen, A Time of Departing, 160).
Yungen's book explores several additional proofs that Youth Specialties is not just involved in contemplative practices, but is a driving force behind the promotion of these dangerous "disciplines" in the lives of today's youth. For more information, I highly suggest that you read Yungen's book, A Time of Departing.

If Youth Specialties has given it's blessing to the Almighty Bible, then one must wonder why. This is where our antenna should be raised and we should begin to flex some discernment muscle. Now, it is entirely possible that the Almighty Bible is perfectly orthodox, but so far the evidence is not working in its favor! Just because it's flashy and eye-catching and says it's a Bible doesn't mean a thing. Before you hand this thing over to your kids and download all the "apps," check it out for yourself and test it against actual Scripture. Be a good Berean, Christian.

See Also:

A Christian in A.D. 150

"(1) For Christians are not distinguished from the rest of humanity by country, language, or custom. (2) For nowhere do they live in cities of their own, nor do they speak some unusual dialect, nor do they practice an eccentric life-style. (3) This teaching of theirs has not been discovered by the thought and reflection of ingenious men, nor do they promote any human doctrine, as some do. (4) But while they live in both Greek and barbarian cities, as each one’s lot was cast, and follow the local customs in dress and food and other aspects of life, at the same time they demonstrate the remarkable and admittedly unusual character of their own citizenship. (5) They live in their own countries, but only as aliens; they participate in everything as citizens, and endure everything as foreigners. Every foreign country is their fatherland, and every fatherland is foreign. (6) They marry like everyone else, and have children, but they do not expose their offspring. (7) They share their food but not their wives. (8) They are “in the flesh,” but they do not live “according to the flesh.” (9) They live on earth, but their citizenship is in heaven. (10) They obey the established laws; indeed in their private lives they transcend the laws. (11) They love everyone, and by everyone they are persecuted. (12) They are unknown, yet they are condemned; they are put to death, yet they are brought to life. (13) They are poor, yet they make many rich; they are in need of everything, yet they abound in everything. (14) They are dishonored, yet they are glorified in their dishonor; they are slandered, yet they are vindicated. (15) They are cursed, yet they bless; they are insulted, yet they offer respect. (16) When they do good, they are punished as evildoers; when they are punished, they rejoice as though brought to life. (17) By the Jews they are assaulted as foreigners, and by the Greeks they are persecuted, yet those who hate them are unable to give a reason for their hostility."
Epistle to Diognetus chapter 5.
Holmes, M. W. (1999). The Apostolic Fathers, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 541.
HT: Dr. IBEX Ideas 
Oh, that such things may still be said of Christ's true church today!

The Ingredients in Rick Warren's "Daniel Plan"

Rick Warren isn't just putting his congregation on a diet, he's whipping up a recipe of dangerous deception. Marsha West has written a wonderfully researched article outlining some of the biggest concerns Christians should have over Warren and his Daniel Plan team. Please visit Renew America to read the article in its entirety.
Rick Warren introduces "The Devil Plan"

By Marsha West

Pastor Rick Warren continues to work at "fulfilling people's needs." His latest endeavor is "The Daniel Plan," a 52-week health and fitness program. Pastor Rick has decided it's high time to lose 90 pounds. But there's more to his health plan than meets the eye.

"The church says all of its more than 5,000 small groups will go through "The Daniel Plan," which is part of Saddleback's "Decade of Destiny," a 10-year plan launching this month "to help individuals succeed and be who God designed them to be in every aspect in life."" (Online source)
When Rick Warren decided to implement his health plan he enlisted the help of three doctors: Daniel Amen, Mark Hyman and Mehmet OZ. "I am honored to be partnering with these internationally distinguished health experts," he boasted. Soon the fearsome foursome set out to develop a plan and what they came up with was "The Daniel Plan" (TDP). Amen, Hyman and Oz applied their medical expertise and Warren offered his expertise in spiritual matters. And herein lies the problem. As you will see, Amen, Hyman and Oz also have a great deal to offer in "spiritual" matters.
In the remainder of her article, West briefly outlines the practices and beliefs of these three doctors. Please click here to finish reading this important post.

23 January 2011

Sunday Morning Praise

Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, ye soldiers of the cross;
Lift high His royal banner, it must not suffer loss.
From victory unto victory His army shall He lead,
Till every foe is vanquished, and Christ is Lord indeed.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the solemn watchword hear;
If while ye sleep He suffers, away with shame and fear;
Where’er ye meet with evil, within you or without,
Charge for the God of battles, and put the foe to rout.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the trumpet call obey;
Forth to the mighty conflict, in this His glorious day.
Ye that are brave now serve Him against unnumbered foes;
Let courage rise with danger, and strength to strength oppose.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, stand in His strength alone;
The arm of flesh will fail you, ye dare not trust your own.
Put on the Gospel armor, each piece put on with prayer;
Where duty calls or danger, be never wanting there.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, each soldier to his post,
Close up the broken column, and shout through all the host:
Make good the loss so heavy, in those that still remain,
And prove to all around you that death itself is gain.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the strife will not be long;
This day the noise of battle, the next the victor’s song.
To those who vanquish evil a crown of life shall be;
They with the King of Glory shall reign eternally.

22 January 2011

The Simple Solution

"Having absorbed the world's values, Christianity in our society is now dying. Subtly but surely, worldliness and self-indulgence are eating away the heart of the church. The gospel usually proclaimed today is so convoluted that it offers believing in Christ as nothing more than a means to contentment and prosperity. The offense of the cross (cf. Gal. 5:11) has been systematically removed so that the message might be made more acceptable to unbelievers. The church somehow got the idea it could declare peace with the enemies of God.
We don't need clever approaches to get people saved (1 Cor. 1:21). We simply need to get back to preaching the truth and planting the seed. If we're faithful in that, the soil God has prepared will bear fruit."
-John MacArthur, Ashamed of the Gospel, Third Edition, (page 96, 97), emphasis mine. 

A Word for the "Culturally Cool" Pastor or Church Planter

"Pastor, church planter…take the “once for all delivered to the saints” faith (Jude 3) from the previous generation of faithful men, and hand that sacred baton to the next generation of faithful men. You’d better determine to know nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor. 2:2). The whole counsel of God should consume you, and you should crucify yourself, and your style (Gal. 2:20). People don’t need to see how well you’ve assimilated the culture around you into your ministry and your message; they need to see Jesus and hear Him confront them and their fallen culture (cf. John 12:21)." 
--Travis Allen, Director of Internet Ministry at Grace to You from yesterday's blog post entitled, "Culturally Contextualized or Historically Connected?"

20 January 2011

Thursday's Spurgeon

The following is excerpted from a sermon entitled Salvation by Knowing the Truth:
[F]or you who desire to save sinners. You must, dear friends, bring the truth before them when you want to bring them to Jesus Christ. I believe that exciting meetings do good to some. Men are so dead and careless that almost anything is to be tolerated that wakes them up; but for real solid soul-work before God' telling men the truth is the main thing. What truth? It is gospel truth, truth about Christ that they want. Tell it in a loving, earnest, affectionate manner, for God wills that they should be saved, not in any other way, but in this way—by a knowledge of the truth. He wills that all men should be saved in this way—not by keeping them in ignorance, but by bringing the truth before them. That is God's way of saving them. Have your Bible handy when you are reasoning with a soul. Just say, "Let me call your attention to this passage." It has a wonderful power over a poor staggering soul to point to the Book itself. Say, "Did you notice this promise, my dear friend? And have you seen that passage?" Have the Scriptures handy. There is a dear brother of mine here whom God blesses to many souls, and I have seen him talking to some, and turning to the texts very handily. I wondered how he did it so quickly, till I looked in his Bible, and found that he hind the choice texts printed on two leaves and inserted into the book, so that he could always open upon them. That is a capital plan, to get the cheering words ready to hand, the very ones that you know have comforted you and have comforted others. It sometimes happens that one single verse of God's word will make the light to break into a soul, when fifty days of reasoning would not do it. I notice that when souls are saved it is by our texts rather than by our sermons. God the Holy Ghost loves to use his own sword. It is God's word, not man's comment on God's word, that God usually blesses. Therefore, stick to the quotation of the Scripture itself, and rely upon the truth. If a man could be saved by a lie it would be a lying salvation. Truth alone can work results that are true. Therefore, keep on teaching the truth. God help you to proclaim the precious truth about the bleeding, dying, risen, exalted, coming Savior; and God will bless it.

18 January 2011

New Book Will "Re-examine" the Atonement

The press release reads:
ENUMCLAW, Wash., Jan. 17, 2011 /Christian Newswire/ -- Merriam-Webster's Dictionary defines atonement as "the reconciliation of God and humankind through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ." Widely-held Christian teaching says that Jesus died in the place of sinners -- that our sin required punishment and because God did not want to see us perish, Jesus took that punishment, providing a way for forgiveness and reconciliation to God. 

In "Cross Purposes" pastor Mark Miller challenges this view, suggesting that God's interest was not in seeing sin punished, but on seeing humanity reconciled to Him. He explains that the "Satisfaction Theory" commonly presented in today's church is rooted in medieval European culture, where God was presented as a kind of liege lord. Miller hopes to show that God's forgiveness was not something Jesus had to purchase. Rather, it was freely offered to everyone. According to Miller's book, Jesus died, not so we could be forgiven, but so we could embrace the forgiveness we already have. Miller says, "I wanted to offer an alternative view that is strongly supported by the Bible, faithful to the bulk of history, and is even more hopeful than the understanding for which we have settled." 
Read the rest of the press release here
"Pastor" Miller really is to be commended, but only for his audacity, and only if you consider foolish daring to be a noble virtue. Not only is he challenging the "widely-held Christian teaching" of the penal substitutionary atonement, he is challenging God Himself and His Word.
"Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. 
Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him." (Hebrews 9:22-28)
"And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 
And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified." (Hebrews 10:10-14)
Scripture clearly teaches that blood, a perfect, unblemished sacrifice, was required in order for anyone's sin to be forgiven. That perfect sacrifice was Jesus Christ. As our sin was imputed to Christ at the cross, so are those who believe imputed undeservingly with His holy and perfect righteousness. Oh, but this doesn't make sense, does it? It sounds foolish, vengeful, and downright mean. God in his omnipotent wisdom, and knowing men and their finite and fallen reasoning, surely foresaw such a reaction.
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18)
The doctrine of the penal substitutionary atonement is a vital, core doctrine of the Christian faith. To deny it is nothing short of heresy. We must, then, call "Pastor" Miller to repentance for even daring to question this merciful, gracious truth of the saving, atoning work of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

16 January 2011

Sunday Morning Praise

How Great Thou Art
O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars; I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, My Savior God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Savior God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.

When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim: "My God, how great Thou art!"

Then sings my soul, My Savior God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Savior God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

14 January 2011

Baptism Hijacked

The clip below illustrates how the satanic IHOP (International House of Prayer) in Kansas City has even hijacked the practice of baptism, turning it into a blasphemous, demonic display of the powers of the evil one. Watching this filled me with anger and sorrow. Not one baptism in Scripture is described as occurring with uncontrollable head shaking and laughter. This is not of God.

Did you know that Bill Bright, the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, has endorsed Mike Bickle and his demonic ministry in Kansas City? Yep, right along with leaders of YWAM (Youth with a Mission), which is involved in the Emergent Church movement, and New Age, contemplative spirituality proponents C. Peter Wagner and Dutch Sheets. Oh, just to help confuse this web of deceitful doctrines and lying teachers even more..."America's Pastor" Rick Warren also has strong ties to these same individuals and organizations.

A Reminder that You Will Be Hated

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me." (John 15:18; John 15:19-21)
Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. (2 Timothy 3:12-13) 
Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. (1 John 3:13)

Why does the world hate those who love and serve Christ? Because the darkness hates the light. Darkness will always team up with darkness in order to oppose the light. A common enemy will always unite, and the light of Christ is a common enemy to all who are in this world.
And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” (John 3:19-21)
"[R]eligious people hate the truth. And they hate the proclaimers of the truth. And so here we are mandated by God to love the world the way He loves the world, granted supernatural capacity to do that, and we find that what we get back is what He got back, hate. And there's a reason for this. Here's the reason: nothing is more precious to a religious sinner than the illusion of his virtue." (John MacArthur, "The Actions of Kingdom Love")
So how do we respond to the world's hatred?
"Bottom line, the believability of the gospel is tied to our loving in ways that sinners can't love." (John MacArthur, ibid.) 
“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. 
“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:27-36)
Is this easy to do? No. Does this mean that we walk around, tolerating sin and never speaking truth into the lives of our "enemies?" No.
"And it's not a love that tolerates their iniquity, it's a love that continues to speak into their life the gospel no matter how evil they treat us." (John MacArthur, ibid). 
Christian, expect persecution. Expect hatred. Expect ridicule or perhaps simply indifference. But react in Christian love, continuing to boldly proclaim the truth of the Gospel in the face of whatever hostility confronts you. The darkness loathes the light of Christ which shines from within you, but Christ is far more powerful than the darkness.

World Vision & Veggie Tales Team Up to Teach Your Kids the Social Gospel

Christian Newswire has the press release:
SEATTLE, Jan. 13, 2011 /Christian Newswire/ -- Christian humanitarian organization World Vision is partnering with Big Idea Entertainment on a new campaign offering parents practical ways to help their children learn the importance of serving others.
Just in time for the Easter season, the new VeggieTales® 'Twas The Night Before Easter DVD reminds kids and families of the true meaning of the Easter celebration and the importance of helping others. Through its involvement in the new VeggieTales® project, World Vision hopes to encourage families to make a difference together by sponsoring children in need around the globe.
"Parents often tell us that sponsorship provides them with tools to teach their children about sharing, about God's love for all his children, and about the needs in our world," said Jenny Lockwald, World Vision's Channel/Product Executive Director. "In this new VeggieTales story, Bob and Larry learn the joy of helping others, providing a fun way for moms and dads to start a conversation about how their family can make a difference, too."
Read the entire press release here
Now, it comes as no surprise that World Vision is pushing the false gospel of social justice, because that's been their M.O. from day one. And while I'd rather see a child watching Veggie Tales than most of the other junk that's available today, I'm not all that enamored with the series. This announcement, however, poses some serious problems. Without having seen this newest Veggie Tales video, I cannot make a fully-informed assessment, however, the following sentence from the press release is extremely telling:
"Just in time for the Easter season, the new Veggie Tales "Twas the Night Before Easter" DVD reminds kids and families of the true meaning of the Easter celebration and the importance of helping others."
The remainder of the press release goes on to laud and elaborate upon the social gospel, with no actual mention of "the true meaning of the Easter celebration." I can only assume, and if I was a gambler, I would even bet, that this latest Veggie Tales DVD will glaze past the Biblical Easter story in favor of today's social gospel message.

Call me crazy, but I'm pretty sure that in the Biblical accounts of that first Easter Sunday, there was no mention of, "Go therefore and sponsor thyself a starving child, for this is why Christ has risen." To even imply such a thing is actually blasphemous! Let's remind ourselves of the actual meaning of Easter and of the actual command Christ gave following His resurrection:
Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” (Matthew 28:1-10)
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20)
 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. (Acts 2:22-24)
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all. (1 Corinthians 15:20-28)
The "Easter celebration" is one that remembers Christ's death and resurrection. Christ suffered and died as the perfect, atoning sacrifice for all those who would believe in Him. Christ experienced the wrath of God in the place of each and every wretched sinner who would ever be called to be His. Three days later, God raised Jesus, overcoming death and sin and Satan. We live because Christ died and rose again. That is the message of Easter. That is what Christians are called to proclaim. At the risk of sounding (by the world's definition) unloving, Easter is not about feeding the poor. It is not about how many good works I can do so that I may work my way to eternal life. It is not about "loving" people with my generosity, yet at the same time neglecting to love them enough to share with them the Gospel: that they are a sinner in need of a Savior, who cannot save themselves, and that they may be saved through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ as the only way to eternal life. All the "love," food and money in the world won't bring someone to the knee-buckling realization that without Christ they are hopeless. Easter isn't about loving people into Hell with our gospel-less good works, it's about Jesus Christ. It's too bad that so many "Christian" organizations have decided to take Christ out of their message.

13 January 2011

To Where Will Rick Warren's "Decade of Destiny" Destine People: Heaven, or Hell?

Surely you've heard by now about Rick Warren's latest scheme to kick off his "Decade of Destiny" with a 52-week health plan that he is calling "The Daniel Plan." Warren has brought in 3 doctors, all proponents of eastern meditation, to design this plan "exclusively for Saddleback." Lighthouse Trails Research has a detailed report:
Near the end of 2010, Rick Warren announced that Saddleback Church would be entering “a Decade of Destiny.” He told his congregation that they would be focusing on several key areas, one of them being “health and wellness.” The “Daniel Challenge” or the “Daniel Plan” is Saddleback’s new health “initiative.”  On Saddleback’s website, it states: 
 Gods’ Prescription For Your Health
 Be a part of this transformational debut to be a healthier you!
The kick-off event is next weekend, January 15. We’ll hear from world-renowned doctors on a plan to get healthy and stay that way in the new decade.
Who are the “world-renowned doctors” that will be helping to kick off Saddleback’s Decade of Destiny? Dr. Mehmet Oz, Dr. Daniel Amen, and Dr. Mark Hyman. The video on the website states that this program has been “Exclusively Designed for Saddleback Church by Three of the Leading Health Specialists in America."
Let us get right to the point: The three doctors who have put together a 52-week health program for Saddleback congregants are absolute advocates and proponents of not just eastern-style meditation but actual eastern meditation and much much more as this article will reveal. Right off, let us say that if you are thinking perhaps that these doctors will only advise Saddleback on legitimate health advice (exercise, healthy eating, etc.) take a look at this video (taken place at Saddleback) between Rick Warren and Dr. Daniel Amen. Amen intends to help Saddleback participants to have good “brain health,” which he firmly believes comes from meditation. In this video, he openly discusses meditation with Rick Warren.
What are the spiritual underpinnings of the meditation these three doctors are propagating? This report will lay it out for you.
Please read the entire report here.

If you read the entire Lighthouse Trails report, then you realize just how dangerous Warren's "Daniel Plan" will likely be. This goes beyond "just" twisting a little Scripture. Rick Warren is continuing to lead his flock, which includes not just regular attendees of Saddleback Church, but millions around the globe, straight down the wide path to Hell. Mr. Warren, I, with many others, beg you to repent of your false teaching and return to the true Gospel which I believe you know, yet have willingly cast aside.

See Also:

Thursday's Spurgeon

The following is an excerpt from the December 1887 Sword and Trowel article, "Restoration of Truth and Revival:"
Brethren in Christ, in every church let us purge out the things which weaken and pollute. It is clear to every one who is willing to see it that laxity of doctrine is either the parent of worldliness, or is in some other way very near akin to it. The men who give up the old faith are the same persons who plead for latitude as to general conduct. The Puritan is not more notorious for his orthodoxy than for his separateness from the world. Liberal divines do not always command the respect of the public, but they gain a certain popularity by pandering to prevailing tastes. The ungodly world is so far on their side that it commends them for their liberality, and rails at the orthodox as bigots and kill-joys. It is a very suspicious circumstance that very often the less a man knows of the inner life, and the less he even cares to speak of it, the more heartily he is for the new theology, the theory of evolution, and the condemnation of all settled doctrine. Those who would have a blessing from the Lord must avoid all this, and determine to follow the Lord fully. Not only must they quit false doctrine, but they must receive the gospel, not as dogma, but as vital truth. Only as the truth is attended with living faith will it prove its own royal power. Believers must also sweep the house of the leaven of worldliness, and the frivolities of a giddy generation. The evil which is now current eats as doth a canker, and there is no hope for healthy godliness until it is cut out of the body of the church by her again repenting, and doing her first works.

11 January 2011

Who Says the Bible Can't be Cool for Kids?

Do your children find God's Word to be dull, lifeless, and bland? Well, your troubles are over! Now your kids will want to read the Bible because someone has finally made it "cool!" Christian Newswire reports:
MEDIA ADVISORY, Jan. 11, 2011 /Christian Newswire/ -- It's David vs. Goliath as The Almighty Bible sets out to compete with huge secular brands in a way that is equally entertaining yet shares a faith-based message.

The Almighty Bible (thealmightybible.com) is here to make the Bible exciting for a new generation of kids and young teens. Young people today are brought up in a visual world where video games, iPhones and graphic novels are the preferred means of entertainment. The team behind the Almighty Bible has decided to use these natural tendencies rather than fight them.
"For years, content based on the Bible has been the domain of ministries and faith based groups that in general have not delivered the best content for the kids." - says Kevin O'Donnell, project producer and creator of the multiple Emmy nominated series Liberty's Kids (PBS). "There have been exceptions however, such as 'The Prince of Egypt' that have shown that when the content is exciting and well done, kids will flock to it." The co-producer of the project, Dong Chung shares the same sentiments. "I was involved with Focus on the Family, producing a special episode of 'Adventures in Odyssey' that made it clear to me that faith based quality programming could be creatively and commercially successful."
Emphasis is mine. Read the entire press release here
I'm thrilled that someone has finally taken the Bible and made it relevant and exciting for children. I was hoping that, one day, someone would work up the courage to tell God that He didn't write an exhilarating enough book. The Almighty Bible is sure to rewrite God's perfect, holy Word in a way that will appeal to a new generation of sinful, worldly, fleshly-minded children. Thank goodness someone (other than Eugene Peterson) has at last taken the Bible and twisted and molded it to fit perfectly into an unregenerate, unrepentant, depraved culture! My, we certainly do live in progressive, exciting times, don't we?

Sarcasm aside, this latest culture-driven marketing endeavor is a perfect representation of what is wrong in the visible church today. "Christians" are so influenced by the world that they spend more time transforming their "Christianity" to look like today's culture, when true Christianity should be the one doing the influencing! The majority of the visible church today is apostate, that is, they have defected from the true Gospel. A quick glance at The Almighty Bible's Endorsement page reveals that current and former leaders of Youth Specialties are endorsing this work. If you're not aware, Youth Specialties has been promoting the extremely dangerous Contemplative Spirituality movement for some time (see Lighthouse Trails Research for more on this).

I wonder if Timothy's mother and grandmother rewrote the ancient Scriptures in order to make them more exciting to young Timothy? Or did they teach him the truth as God wrote it? Scripture tells us they possessed a "sincere faith," which surely means that Scripture was the ultimate transforming factor in their lives, not the pagan culture surrounding them. But then, should we be surprised at this latest display of relevancy? Not at all. I suppose we could best use our time in prayer and praise, for this surely reminds us that the days of itching ears are here, and Jesus is coming again!

09 January 2011

Sunday Morning Praise

This song has been in my head all morning, for which I am thankful! I've always loved Be Thou My Vision. The video below omits the third verse, and I'm not sure why, but I've included it in the lyrics below because I think it's an important one! Enjoy!

Be Thou My Vision

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

08 January 2011

The Doctrines of Grace: Part "I"

It's been several months since my last post on the Doctrines of Grace. I don't have a good reason for my procrastination. I suppose the hours of research and writing for school took precedence and once classes were over for the semester, my need and desire for rest trumped this series of articles! I'm trying to catch up now and hoping to take advantage of the next couple of months while my schoolwork is less demanding.

Since it has been quite awhile since my last post on limited atonement, I need to take a moment again and remind my readers of this: while it is true that these doctrines are commonly known as Calvinist or Reformed, this does not mean that I adhere to every doctrine espoused by John Calvin or the Reformers. I stand as bit of an oddity, I think, as I must be labeled as a dispensational Calvinist. Some might think that an oxymoron, but from my perspective this label can also be translated as: Biblical. So let's leave it at that. I believe that the Doctrines of Grace, or "TULIP" are quite Scripturally accurate and that they are necessary to the Christian. Of course, my more Arminian-leaning friends disagree with me on this point and, just as I would not condemn them as heretics for their exaltation of man's "free will" over God's sovereignty so too would I hope that they would not send me into the flaming depths for my belief that God is wholly and supremely sovereign over all.

Long introduction aside, this article will examine the "I" in TULIP, namely: Irresistible Grace. This label offers a somewhat negative view of the doctrine, as opponents seek to describe it as God dragging a sinner kicking and screaming into His kingdom. For the sake of this article, then, I will henceforth refer to this doctrine rather as that of "Effectual Calling." What is this call, who makes it, and can it be resisted? In this article, I hope to accurately, yet briefly answer these questions.
"For many are called, but few are chosen." Matthew 22:14
"Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God..." Romans 1:1
"To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:" Romans 1:7
"Paul, called by the will of God...To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together..." 1 Corinthians 1:1, 2
"Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ..." Jude 1
What is this call? Is this the general Gospel call, which all Christians are commissioned to proclaim? Or is this something more? Who are these ones who have been "called"? The answer is simple: these are believers, those who have repented and turned in faith to their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This is the Church. The Greek word for "church," ekklesia, stems from a word that means "called out ones." The church, then, are those who have been called out. This "effectual" call cannot be a general Gospel call that is pronounced to all nations, because clearly not all peoples and nations are part of the Church! So what is the difference? The difference is between the external call and the internal call. The external call, that universal gospel call, comes to all people. All are presented with the truth of salvation through Jesus Christ and yet, this call is only effectual in some of those people. We can see this illustrated quite clearly in John 6:
When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” 
After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:60-69 ESV)
The general gospel call goes out to all men. "Common grace" is bestowed upon all of mankind. But that effectual call, and that irresistible grace of God is granted to His elect. As Martin Lloyd-Jones simply states of those who are described in John 6 as turning away, "the word was effectual in the case of the saved in a way that it was not effectual in the case of the unsaved who refused it."
"Sinner, we shall know whether God calls you by this: if he calls, it will be an effectual call--not a call which you hear and then forget but one which produces good works. [...] We do not believe a man to be converted unless he doth renounce the error of his ways; unless, practically, he is brought to know that Christ himself is master of his conscience, and his law is his delight." (C.H. Spurgeon, "Effectual Calling")
"He who is effectually called has a visible change wrought. Not a change of the faculties, but of the qualities. He is altered from what he was before. His body is the same, but not his mind, he has another spirit. Paul was so changed after his conversion that people did not know him (Acts 9:21). Oh what a metamorphosis does grace make! 'And such were some of you; but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified' (1 Corinthians 6:11). Grace changes the heart." (Thomas Watson, "A Divine Cordial: Effectual Calling")
A true, effectual calling will result in repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, which will in turn, out of gratitude for salvation, be evidenced by the fruit of good works. This justifying call will result in a person's salvation.
"[E]very use of the word "call" with regard to salvation in the New Testament epistles refers not to a general outward call, but to a specific inward efficacious saving act of God. It is in that sense an unyielding summons from God that you will respond to, that is why theologians have called it irresistible grace." (John MacArthur, "The Doctrine of God's Effectual Call")
I can hear the retorts, "So what you're saying is that God saves us against our own will?" Nope, I'm not saying that at all. Scripture doesn't teach that and therefore I would never claim that to be so. Those who have been saved and who will be saved reach such a state because they willed to believe the Gospel. But who made them willing to believe? Was it the author of the book they read, or the preacher, or their friend who first shared the Good News with them? We've already seen, in the doctrine of total depravity, that no man of his own unregenerate self is going to be willing to yield to the things of God. "No sinner is ever going to be willing until the power of God comes upon that sinner" (MacArthur, ibid).
"But it's not that the sinner comes kicking and screaming and protesting and trying to resist because when the summons comes, the sinner is made willing. In fact, it is the passion of his heart. When the gospel comes the sinner is so eager to respond. As lost sinners, people have the freedom of the will. [...] They operate freely. And what do they do? They choose to sin. [...] The lost sinner has the freedom of the will. In salvation, we also have the freedom of the will but instead of choosing sin we choose Christ and the difference is because we have been summoned with a divine call" (ibid). 
And so who makes the sinner willing to yield to God? The Holy Spirit. Only God can bring a person to the point of recognizing his own sinfulness and need to be saved. Even the Prince of Preachers, Mr. Spurgeon himself, couldn't do that of his own power and talent.

I know this comes up against resistance, because our human rationale and our unwillingness to be totally subject to God naturally opposes the idea of election and predestination. But we cannot deny the words of Christ himself when He said that "many are called, but few are chosen" (Matthew 22:14). We cannot deny the countless references in the epistles to those who were "called" in Christ Jesus. What came first, the calling or the choice? Well you cannot choose something unless you are first presented with the choice, and that happens when we receive that general Gospel call. But without the work of the Holy Spirit within us, without that internal, effectual call, no one can ever come to Christ.
For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8:7-8 ESV)
Of these verses, Dr. Lloyd-Jones comments:
"Men and women by nature are opposed to God; they hate God and they are not interested in Him, neither are they interested in the things of God. From that statement of the Apostle I deduce that the intrnal work of the Spirit is an absolute necessity before anyone can possibly believe in the gospel of God and accept it and rejoice in it." (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, "Effectual Calling and Regeneration").
Man cannot regenerate himself, it must be a work of God.
"It is not merely that the Holy Spirit heightens our natural faculties and powers, it is more than that. It is the Spirit acting upon the soul from within and producing within us a new principle of spiritual action. [...] It is not simply that He brings the truth of His great moral suasion to us. No, no. We need some new faculty, some new principle, and that is the very work that He does. He implants within us this new spiritual principle, this principle of spiritual vitality and activity, and it is as the result of this that the general call of the gospel comes to us in an effectual manner." (ibid).
Unless we deem some of the work of the Holy Spirit to be a failure, we must necessarily conclude that this effectual call does not go out to all. But we may rejoice in knowing that those whom God has called, God will bring to glory.
And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (Romans 8:30 ESV)
It is, it must, though, be the work of God to bring one to a point of willingness to receive Him. We see this throughout Scripture. Take the example of Lydia:
One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. (Acts 16:14 ESV, emphasis mine)
Who opened Lydia's heart? The Lord. She didn't feel overwhelmed by sappy music and an altar call and decide of her own volition to "ask Jesus into her heart." No, the Lord opened her heart to receive the truth of His salvation. This is not the Holy Spirit as a bully beating us into submission. It is instead God working upon our will so that, through His power, we may desire the things and the way of God.
"He leads, He persuades, He acts upon my will in such a way that when He does, the call of the gospel is effectual, and it is certain, and it is sure. God's work never fails, and when God works in a man or woman, the work is effective" (Lloyd-Jones, ibid).

See Also:

The Dangers of Subjectivism

What are you doing on May 22? Well, if you're a follower of Harold Camping, you're probably not planning on being here that day. Surely by now you've heard of Camping's latest "prophecy," that the Rapture is going to occur on May 21, 2011, after which time God will proceed to execute His final judgment and destruction of the earth. If you're a student of the Bible, however, then you know that Camping's prediction has absolutely no validity whatsoever.

Prophets, as predictors of the future, have no place in the church today. Hebrews 1 tells us that, in the last days, God spoke finally and ultimately through His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus was and is prophet, priest, and king. Why, then, should we desire any further word than that which has already been spoken by Him through whom the world was created? Revelation has ceased and if you ever hear someone claim otherwise, I would strongly suggest that you run quickly in the other direction.

Harold Camping, like so many others today and throughout history, is a false prophet. He is an extreme example to be sure, but the dangers of his influence shouldn't be written off lightly. How many naive people, seeking the truth, have been led astray by men and women like Camping? These "dreamers of dreams" are themselves living in rebellion to God and thus seek to lead others with them as they travel the wide path to destruction. Twenty years ago, Camping predicted that the world would end in September of 1994. Well, I think we can all agree that didn't happen! So we must necessarily (and obviously) conclude that Camping, though claiming to speak for the Lord, is indeed a false prophet.
“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst."
(Deuteronomy 13:1-5 ESV)
Mr. Camping should be on his knees, first repenting, and then thanking God that we no longer live under the Law. If we did, then it would indeed be required that Camping be stoned for his lies and false prophecies.

I realize these truths are nothing new to most of my readers. I hesitated to even mention Harold Camping, because it seems as if he is hardly worth acknowledging. But as I am studying through the book of Jude, I find myself daily more and more grieved by the presence of apostates in the Church. It is so easy, in our Christian bubble, especially if we are blessed with a Bible-teaching church with Godly leadership, to lose sight of how truly entrenched the visible Church is in apostasy. Yes, Camping is an extreme, but how subtly did his false teaching begin? I haven't studied this man extensively, but let's just look for a moment at his approach to Biblical interpretation.

Camping, like so many others, interprets the Bible allegorically. This is, without a doubt, the most dangerous approach to Scripture that we can take! Sadly, this is becoming more and more pervasive in "Christian" circles today. Postmodernism, the Emergent church movement, and even the Purpose-Driven movement, have all in one way or another taken Scripture, ripped it out of context, and interpreted it to mean what they think it should mean in a certain time or place to suit their purposes. What is the consequence? Nothing can be objectively true. Nothing can be certain. What's true for you may not be true for me and so let's just agree that we're both right so that neither of us is offended by being told that we're wrong.

Interpreting God's Word allegorically leaves one with a purely subjective, emotional, personal, and usually flawed view of the truth. It's this method that leads to pastors preaching on the parable of the talents to mean that God has given people different "talents" (as we use the term today) which they must use to worship Him. Allegorical interpretation will find someone reading the story of the valley of dry bones in Ezekiel 37 and believing it to be a picture of a sinner reconciled to God and thus brought back to "life" through Christ. While it's true that repentance and faith in Jesus does bring us into eternal life, that is not the purpose of Ezekiel 37! Instead, this story is a picture of Israel. Believers today can find plenty of New Testament texts to point to the truth of regeneration in Christ; we do not need to strip an Old Testament story of its truth and blessing for Israel.

Subjectivism has taken over our churches, and it has led to nothing short of apostasy. God didn't write the Bible so that we could all read it and interpret it to mean whatever we want it to mean. He also didn't write the Bible in a secret code that can only be unraveled through numerology and the like. God isn't trying to hide His truth from His people. He, through the power of the Holy Spirit, inspired ordinary men to write His truth within the pages of what we now call the Bible. It is clear, it is understandable, it is TRUE. It is God's revelation of Himself to man. If we choose to hold it as a wobbly mass of subjective, feel-good, self-help advice, then it will slip quickly from our grasp and we will only be left holding our own musings. But if we cling to it as the solid Word that it is, then we will build our faith upon the Truth that it contains, and that is a foundation that will never falter.