31 July 2011

Jesus Doesn't Ask for a Moment

Jesus doesn't ask us for a moment, He requires of us a lifetime commitment:
"Modern evangelism would lead us to believe that becoming a Christian is a matter of a moment, not a lifetime. It's a matter of an accepting of Christ. It's a matter of emotional experience to which you were led by fiery preaching or heart rending stories or music. Whatever might be used to induce a person to a moment of emotional breakdown where they will pray a prayer, make a decision, accept Christ, that seems to be the direction of modern evangelical evangelism. All they have to do is grab that moment, say that prayer. And if they don't know what it should be, we'll give them a formula to pray. And that's all it takes to become a Christian. 
It's obvious that Jesus didn't do that. He never tried to quote, "Get people saved by moving them emotionally to a moment of crisis, or a moment of decision, or a moment of acceptance of Himself." He never brought anybody that I know of in the New Testament to a place where they were supposed to pray a prayer. Never did He do that and never did the Apostles do that. None of them ever moved toward some crisis event in which supposedly the sinner was redeemed from sin and death and hell. And yet the call to Christ, the call to salvation is typically viewed in our world as an event, as a response to an emotional moment. Not so in the words of Jesus. When Jesus invited someone to come into His Kingdom, when Jesus invited someone to receive His forgiveness and salvation, He asked that person for the rest of his life. He didn't want a moment. He didn't want the emotion of a moment. He wanted a carefully thought out understood commitment of a lifetime. Repentance from sin, confession of Jesus as Lord, obedience from the heart to the Word and the Spirit was for life. And there was always that emphasis in the ministry of Jesus. He disdained the short-term disciple. He made things so difficult for many would-be disciples that, for example, in the sixth chapter of John it says, "Many of His disciples walked no more with Him." The standard was just too high. What was required was too demanding." - John MacArthur
From a sermon entitled "Barriers to True Discipleship," available in its entirety at Grace to You. 

Tending to Your Soul

I know I've been posting a lot of other people's material lately. Hopefully that will change soon, but right now I'm in the midst of studying for an exam while also trying to make some headway on my upcoming research papers. Once I can cross something off the list, perhaps I'll have some of my own thoughts to share! The good news is that there are many bloggers out there who write far more eloquently than I, so I am never short of material!

The following article from The Cripplegate particularly caught my eye and I loved the message it conveyed. Though admittedly convicting, in this post author Josh Thiessen offers some biblical thoughts on the importance of diligently tending to our souls:

Tending to Your Soul

by Josh Thiessen

When my wife and I bought our first home this past year, it came with a spot tilled for gardening, so we thought to ourselves, “Why not have a garden this year?” We thought it would be a great experience together. So we planted in the spring and waited. My first reaction was one of amazement. How could life come from something that looks so dead? Yet, that is exactly what happened. From the seemingly lifeless seeds, sprouted green plants.

But then something else happened. As the plants grew, weeds began to crop up and crowd out the other plants and then pesky critters began nibbling away at the plants. In one case, our beans didn’t even produce. So I began to learn that I must vigilantly tend to the garden. It wasn’t going to produce a lush harvest if I didn’t come in and take the weeds out and even shoot (scare) off the bunnies in an Elmer Fudd kinda way.

If I was diligent, my lettuce and other plants would flourish unharmed by the rabbits and weeds. But if I forgot to tend to it for a few days, sure enough there would be traces of rabbit fur and no lettuce or strawberries left. Both the weeds and rabbits posed a daily threat.

This is not unlike our own spiritual life. Christians face a different but similar daily problem: sin. It crowds out godliness and spreads like a plague. Then slowly, we tend to the sinful weeds and begin to grow again until we again forget to tend to our souls and the weeds creep back in. How do we avoid this as Christians? The truth is that we can’t completely avoid it, but the Bible does gives us the tools for tending to our soul. This tending is tedious and is so easily neglected that we must remain on guard at all times. 
I remember thinking as a younger christian that people were legalistic when they would tell everyone that they must read their Bibles and pray every day tobe godly. Now I realize that it wasn’t so much that they thought you could earn favor with God by doing it, but that experience had taught them without the consistent pruning effect of Scripture and prayer , no one will ever grow spiritually. The bottom line that I was trying to avoid was that those people were right about one thing: godliness takes hard work. Paul put it this way: 
Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come (1 Tim 4:7-8). 
The idea here is that it is going to take effort. Realizing that even sanctification is a work of the Spirit (2 Thess 2:13), we are charged in Scripture to train ourselves towards godliness. Remember training for a sport or music concert? It took determination and dedication towards a single goal. For a Christian the reward is a life pleasing to God that is characterized by godliness and one day hearing those amazing words “well done, good and faithful servant.” The flip side is living a lazy spiritual life that leads to uselessness in the here and now and holds little hope for reward in the life to come. 
I don’t know about you, but I want to have a life characterized by the former. Even if it means getting up earlier and staying up later. The hard work of tending to a garden or to your soul will reap a bountiful harvest. And the daily tending to your soul through the disciplines of reading the Word and praying are worth it even if it costs blood, sweat and tears. But then again, discipleship always does (Lk 9:23).
Convicting, isn't it? If we're honest, this is something we all struggle with. How easy it is to turn on the ballgame rather than picking up our Bible! How tempting it is to hit the Snooze button one more time rather than getting up to pray and open God's Word! It's true, none of us will ever read our Bible enough, or pray enough, or be diligent enough in pulling up the weeds in our spiritual life. But should we not strive for this nonetheless? Living a life of godliness is work, but we do not work alone, because the Holy Spirit is working in us to strengthen and to sanctify us. This doesn't get us off the hook either, though. We can't sit back, put our feet up and say, "Okay, Holy Spirit, get to work!" Nope, it doesn't work that way. Has God saved you? Then you've been given an awesome, miraculous gift! Don't waste it. Don't spit upon it. Don't ignore it and don't mock it by your laziness. We tend to ourselves, our bodies, our clothes. We tend to our bank accounts and our houses and our cars. Yet all of these will pass away. Ought we not tend, then, to the one thing that will go on forever, our soul?

Sunday Morning Praise

29 July 2011

This 'n' That

Well, it's Friday again. The last one in July, in fact, which is completely bizarre to me! As a kid, I used to think summer went by so fast. Then I grew up and realized that, from the inside of an office building, it doesn't matter whether it's summer or winter. The only difference is that in the summer I need a coat for while I'm inside my office. What is completely phenomenal and awesome to me, however, is that Jesus Christ is the same today as He was when I was 6 years old, spending my summers in the front lawn sliding down the Slip 'n Slide. He is not fickle like the weather (I've lost count of how many severe storms we've had this month), nor does He change with the seasons. He is immutable and He is in control of every bolt of lightning and every falling leaf. Wow. What an amazing God we serve!

But enough of my random morning thoughts...here's your week in review (kind of):

  • Surely we all knew that the passing of New York's gay marriage bill would continue to snowball this country deeper and deeper into depravity. Here is one example of what happens when marriage begins to be redefined. Today, legalizing polygamy, perhaps tomorrow you can marry your dog.
  • Tony Blair continues to push his interfaith agenda. Let's not forget Blair's link with "evangelical" leaders such as Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, and Nicky Gumbel. Gee, I wonder if they support interfaith efforts, too?
  • McDonald's will soon be adding apples and decreasing the amount of fries included in every Happy Meal, and the childhood obesity avenger herself, the First Lady, is applauding the effort. Honestly, I wish she'd keep her fingers out of my french fries, especially since she has her own 1,700 calorie meals to consume.

The kind of worship God desires:

HT: The End Time

28 July 2011

Thursday's Spurgeon

The following is excerpted from a sermon entitled All Joy in All Trials, preached on February 4, 1883:
It is your faith which is tried. It is supposed that you have that faith. You are not the people of God, you are not truly brethren unless you are believers. It is this faith of yours which is peculiarly obnoxious to Satan and to the world which lieth in the wicked one. If you had not faith they would not be enemies of yours; but faith is the mark of the chosen of God, and therefore his foes become the foes of all the faithful, spitting their venom specially upon their faith. God Himself hath put enmity between the serpent and the woman, between the serpent's seed and the woman's seed; and that enmity must show itself. The serpent bites at the heel of the true seed: hence mockings, persecutions, temptations, and trials are sure to beset the pathway to faith. The hand of faith is against all evil, and all evil is against faith. Faith is that blessed grace which is most pleasing to God, and hence it is the most displeasing to the devil. By faith God is greatly glorified, and hence by faith Satan is greatly annoyed. He rages at faith because he sees therein his own defeat and the victory of grace.
Because the trial of your faith brings honour to the Lord, therefore the Lord Himself is sure to try it that out of its trial praise may come to his grace by which faith is sustained. Our chief end is to glorify God, and if our trials enable us more fully to answer the end of our being it is well that they should happen unto us.

26 July 2011

Even More on Moore

Beth Moore. She doesn't go away. And she doesn't flit around with pointy ears, a tail and a pitchfork, so she appears harmless to most. But she is not. She is full of subtle error and her teachings are littered with a dangerous "me-mentality." That is why she must constantly be brought back under the light of truth and Scripture and exposed. I have to thank The Watchman's Bagpipes for bringing these latest articles to my attention.

A blogger, a female blogger, has written two excellent series of articles. The first is in regard to the errors of Beth Moore's teaching. The second series recounts her experience at a recent Beth Moore teaching event in Charlotte. I am not going to re-post her articles here, but am instead linking below to the first article in each series. Visiting these links will allow you to access the subsequent articles. I strongly encourage you to visit her site and read her thoughts. Though there are multiple articles for each series, they are not extensively long, and therefore are not cumbersome to read. These are well-written, well-pondered posts that expose the subtle, smiling dangers of Beth Moore.




25 July 2011

"Grandma, What Big Teeth You Have"

The following was posted today at The Cripplegate:

“Grandma, What Big Teeth You Have”
by Clint Archer

I confess I have a habit that must prove annoying to most bookstore attendants. While browsing in secular bookstores, should I encounter corrosive doctrines on display under the rubric of “Christianity” I surreptitiously plunk the offending specimens in the “Esoteric” section. Call me old fashioned, but I’ve always felt that poison and pirate ships should somewhere on them sport a skull and crossbones insignia. Arsenic should be kept on a high shelf, not strewn near the baby formula. And Rob Bell’s books should enjoy a reserved space on the “Philosophy” shelf, or perhaps in that special cylindrical section under the clerk’s counter where scrap paper and chewed gum are temporarily stored til the janitors transfer it where it really belongs. 
Unbiblical teachings are only dangerous to the flock of Christ when they are averred by those alleged to be sheep. If a bear clambers into the sheepfold with his teeth bared (like Nero who claimed to be a god, and collected Christians to be used as candles at his pool party), the lack of subtlety is our ally. But when Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, and other canine types don the garb of benevolent shepherds, their wiliness ups the threat. It’s not so much the doctrine; it’s the disguise. I don’t think Christian bloggers joining the conversation are in the wrong for being quick to interject, “Oh Grandma, what big teeth you have.”
The one thing Muslims tend to do well is be Muslim. Buddhists generally achieve the same eponymous success. I acknowledge that Atheists betray copious incongruence in their daily living (your iPhone doesn’t have a “Made in China” sticker on it, but you admit someone thought it up). But an Atheist will never converse in print about the existence of a deity, for fear of being shunted to their neighboring  pigeon hole, Agnostic (which Atheists see as an intellectual category reserved for pot-heads and other indecisive philosophers). It seems to me that only Christians have long, published conversations about whether or not they should believe what their God teaches.
For example, when God talks about Hell in the way that he does, i.e. that it’s a nasty, hot, everlasting place for rebels who are awake to experience it, is it really reasonable for a Christian to say, “Maybe, maybe not”?
Or when God mentions a six day creation using strikingly unambiguous time indicators like, “It was evening and then it was morning, the third day,” is it acceptable for his followers to respond with, “More likely, a theory hatched by God-haters is true”? I’m not saying unbelievers shouldn’t believe our God. That is after all why we tag them that way. But surely it’s not too much to expect believers to, you know, believe.
So when the blogosphere erupts with discussions about whether or not Rob Bell is a believer, I modestly propose a quaint litmus test: belief. Can a person believe that Jesus is the way the truth the life, and that “No one comes to the Father except through Me,” and simultaneously believe that the opposite has a real chance of being just as true. The skill it takes to hold two opposing assertions concurrently isn’t just Post-Modern, it’s Post-Reason.
I’m ok with Hindus saying its possible no one ever ends up in Hell, though if you are going to make up an innocuous punishment, then coming back as a worm seems to be only a moderate improvement on being eaten by worms. I’m also ok with JW’s believing there’s no hell. Heck, I’m even ok with the kids in my church having a conversation about the truth claims of the Bible. But when a pastor/teacher/writer aims his teachings conversations, at the Christian community, while touting the name of Christ as his Lord, then I think he’s asking for the very same evangelical disavowal he’s now facing.
Orthodoxy is blood bought. There are countless saints who were burnt at the stake to defend the claims of Scripture. John Wycliffe was exhumed and posthumously burnt to ashes when the Catholics realized they hadn’t put enough exclamation points behind saying he’s not on their team. Wycliffe would be rolling over in his urn to know that men calling themselves Christians are saying orthodoxy is not generous enough. Ortho means straight. Would you want your orthodontist to tell you that although your teeth are still crooked after you spent a fortune on braces, you should simply have a more generous definition of straight?

I leave you with the words of Paul to the elders of his beloved flock at Ephesus, Acts 20: 28Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.
Christian, let’s be candid. It’s ok to read Love Wins and say, “Wow Rob, what big teeth you have.”

22 July 2011

This 'n' That

You probably noticed that I've been quiet this week. By and large I've been "out of the loop" the past few days and it has been...wonderful. More on that in a few days (maybe). Nevertheless, here's your abbreviated week in review (kind of):

Jesus has chosen Wal-Mart as His big-box store of choice. I don't know what this means for those of us who shop at Target.

Campus Crusade for Christ is changing it's name...to "Cru." Yeah, Cru. I don't get it. They claim the original name was a hindrance for sharing the Gospel...but they are adamant that it wasn't because of the inclusion of "Christ," but rather "crusade" and "campus." In fact, the FAQ on the Cru website includes multiple questions regarding concerns over the removal of "Christ" from their name. Personally, I think there are bigger concerns that we can raise over "Cru," but that's for another time.

Are there still apostles today? (Hint: Nope)

I'll believe this when I see it...or don't see it. Apparently airports are going to do away with the "revealing" body scanning software so that it will only reveal a body outline and highlight any suspicious anomalies.

It's here! The Biggest Question has arrived! Order lots and hand 'em out like candy!

21 July 2011

Thursday's Spurgeon

The following is from the May 1872 issue of The Sword and Trowel and is entitled, "Comfort for Those Whose Prayers are Feeble."

Sometimes it is not merely the body or the mind which is affected, but our inner nature is dull, stupid, lethargic, so that when it is the time for prayer we do not feel the spirit of prayer. Moreover, perhaps, our faith is flagging, and how shall we pray when faith is so weak? Possibly, we are suspicious as to whether we are the people of God at all, and we are molested by the recollection of our shortcomings. Now the temptation will whisper, "Do not pray just now—your heart is not in a fit condition for it." My dear brother, you will not become fit for prayer by keeping away from the mercy-seat, but to lie groaning or breathing at its foot is the best preparation for pleading before the Lord. We are not to aim at a self-wrought preparation of our hearts that we may come to God with them, but "the preparation of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, are both from God." If I feel myself disinclined to pray, then is the time when I need to pray more than ever. Possibly, when the soul leaps and exults in communion with God it might more safely refrain from prayer than at those seasons when it drags heavily in devotion. Alas! my Lord, does my soul go wandering away from thee? Then, come back my heart, I will drag thee back by force of grace, I will not cease to cry till the Spirit of God has made thee return to thine allegiance. What, my Christian brother, because thou feelest idle, is that a reason why thou shouldst stay thine hand and not serve thy God? Nay, but away with thine idleness, and resolutely bend thy soul to service. So under a sense of prayerlessness be more intent on prayer. Repent that thou canst not repent, groan that thou canst not groan, and pray until thou dost pray; in so doing God will help thee. No, neither bodily, mental, nor spiritual anguish must prevent our pouring out our soul before God, in breathing, if in no better manner.
I have been aiming thus to comfort those distressed hearts who say they cannot pray, but ere I close I must add, how inexcusable are those who, knowing all this, continue prayerless, godless, and Christless. If there were no mercy to be had, you could not be blamed for not having it. If there were no Savior for sinners, a sinner might be excused for remaining in his sin. But, there is a fountain, and it is open—why wash ye not in it? Mercy is to be had "without money and without price"—it is to be had by asking for it. Now, sometimes, poor men are shut up in the condemned cell to be hanged, and suppose they could have a free pardon for the asking for it, and they did not do it, who would pity them? God will give his blessing to every soul who is moved to seek for it sincerely at his hands on this one sole and alone condition—that that soul will trust in Jesus. And even that is not a condition, for he gives repentance and faith, and enables sinners to believe in his dear Son. Behold Christ crucified, the saddest and the gladdest sight the sun ever beheld! Behold the eternal Son of God made flesh, and bleeding out his life! A surpassing marvel of woe and love! A look at him will save you. Though ye be on the borders of the grave and on the brink of hell, by one look at Jesus crucified your guilt shall be cancelled, your debts for ever discharged before the throne of God, and yourselves led into joy and peace. Oh, that you would give that look! Breathe the prayer, "Lord, give me the faith of thine elect, and save me with a great salvation." Though it be only a breathing, yet, as the old Puritan says, when God feels the breath of his child upon his face he smiles; and he will feel your breath and smile on you, and bless you. May he do so, for his name's sake. Amen.

15 July 2011

This 'n' That

I don't know about the rest of you, but it's been a week of Mondays for me. It is most definitely time for the weekend! So here's your week in review (kind of):

DiscernIt blog has posted a review of The Alpha Course as written by Way of Life ministry. As some of you know, it was my concerns about the Alpha Course that were the original inspiration for this blog. You can access my research on the Alpha Course here.

Stephen Altrogge explains that being radical for Jesus is actually boring. (And all of God's people said...thank goodness)!

Dan Philips ponders Western civilization's definition of "love," as opposed to God's. This is a quick read, but a good one!

Those of you who follow the ministry of Grace Community Church are probably familiar with Pastor Rick Holland. In this blog post, he expresses his great sadness upon leaving the campus of GCC for the last time. We should be excited for Holland, though, as he moves to Kansas City to serve the Lord as senior pastor of Mission Road Bible Church!

Our president has greater patience than that great biblical character, Job. At least, according to Nancy Pelosi.

The PCUSA has voted to ordain openly gay clergy. Well, there's a shocker. I'm surprised it took them this long! Did you feel that shudder? I think it was John Calvin spinning in his grave.

Pastor Ken Silva reminds us that "good" experiences aren't necessarily from God.

Well, it's official: California has become the first state to require that lessons about "gay history" be added to social studies classes. As if social studies wasn't already a painful subject!

Lately, some "relevant" churches have jumped on the "flash mob" bandwagon, and have failed miserably. Not only is their choreography and execution horrible, but their "dance moves" are completely inappropriate for supposed Christians, as is the music they are dancing to. This example of a "flash eucharist" trumps them all, however. This is utterly blasphemous.

The most horrific, tragic, terrible story I've heard in a long time.

It's okay to kill babies and toss their bodies in a dumpster without a second thought, but please don't kill the geese! And if you do, please hold a memorial service in their honor.

A "childhood obesity expert" thinks you should lose custody of your kids if they're overweight.

Phil Johnson shares his testimony.

Here's a tearjerker: a marriage proposal that's not only sweet, but theological! Imagine that! Congratulations to Adrian of the Wretched Radio gang!

The marching orders for a backslidden church:

14 July 2011

The Gooey Mess that is American "Christianity"

Warning: I am about to embark on a lame sermon illustration. Since I'm not a pastor, I am less skilled at this than our favorite stage-walking, seeker-sensitive brothers, so bear with me.

I have decided that "Christianity" in America somewhat resembles a s'more. You heard me. A s'more is nothing but a sticky, gooey mess. It gets all over your fingers and your face and, after you're done, all you want to do is wash your hands. The components of a s'more are all distinguishable, even at its gooiest, yet we just mush it all together. I know, this illustration is starting to break down, especially when we start to consider how wonderful and delicious s'mores are, while "Christianity" in America is by and large distasteful. In the end, however, it's easiest to just wash your hands and be done with the whole thing. Okay, thus ends my lame sermon illustration. You'll be happy to know that, due to Biblical mandates (1 Tim. 2:12-14), not to mention lack of ability, I have no intention of ever pursuing the pastorate.

Last weekend was LifeFest in Oshkosh, WI, a "Christian rock festival" that is held annually. I admit, I've never attended LifeFest, nor do I have any interest in attending. Unless there is an organ and a choir singing theologically and doctrinally sound hymns, I have no desire to be there. But LifeFest is far more than a "Christian" concert. It's an ecumenical event. Joining together Protestants and Catholics, as American "Christianity" is so adept at doing.

The Green Bay Press Gazette reports:
OSHKOSH — Bishop David Ricken always wanted to go to Lifest. But since taking over as of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay in 2008, something else always came up.“So last year I put it on the schedule to be here today,” Ricken said Sunday. “I’ve heard just wonderful things about it, so I’ve got a lot to learn. I just need to be around as many young people as I can. They’re not only the future but the present, so we’ve got to reach out to them and thank them for what they’re doing.” 
Ricken led 9 a.m. Mass from the Thrivent CafĂ© Stage on the final day of the 13th annual Lifest celebration at Sunnyview Expo Center. Hundreds worshipped as intermittent showers trickled down on the large tent.
It gets better:
Protestant devotions, a children’s service and the Catholic Mass each were held separately before joint worship at 11 a.m. on the grandstand featuring Lenz; Greg Laurie, senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, Calif., and head of the international Harvest Crusades; and acclaimed worship leader Lincoln Brewster.
During the five-day event, the diocese held special activities for festival-goers such as handing out free Holy Hotdogs, Blessed Brats and Sacred S’mores, said the Rev. Daniel Schuster, diocese vocation director and a Lifest speaker.“It was very successful and created a bridge between the different (faith) communities that are here,” he said. That’s the goal of Lifest, Lenz said.
I don't know which is worse, the "holy hotdogs" or the fact that well-loved Christian pastor Greg Laurie was headlining. If I had to make a choice, I'd opt for the latter. If the "goal of LifeFest" is to "bridge the different faith communities," well, then I think whatever Christian presence is there ought to be shouting the Gospel and denouncing any false gospels that are being concurrently promoted. Personally, I have never been a fan of Laurie and his crusades, especially since he has previously attributed Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Life as a movement of God, and has also given endorsement to Bill Hybels and Willow Creek. Laurie seems like a pleasant enough fellow, but many of his actions seem to indicate zero discernment, and I think his participation in the ecumenical LifeFest is further evidence of this.

If prominent leaders like Greg Laurie continue to give credibility to events such as these, and ultimately to the idea that Protestants and Catholics are really all the same, but just meet in a different building, then the rapid downgrade of American Christianity will only continue to snowball. We simply cannot endorse the Catholic Church as being Christian, because it is not. The Catholic Church teaches a different gospel. Theirs is one of "do your best and Jesus will do the rest," while the Biblical Gospel is, "You can't do it, but Jesus has done it all." But when we compromise that Gospel, and join hands with those who preach otherwise, we have to wonder, where will it end? Will LifeFest 2012 find a rabbi and an imam on stage holding hands with the "Christian" and the Catholic? Why not invite a yogi to lead attendees in meditation and hindu worship? Like anything, when we open the door to one compromise, we open windows to countless others.

No, I am not shocked by any of this. Compromise and apostasy has been foretold in Scripture; it is a sign of the times. The most optimistic response to this should be that we continue to anxiously wait for Christ's return, because surely it is near! And what should our response be to that reality? Preach the Gospel.

Green Bay Catholic Priest David Ricken leads Mass at Lifefest Before Joint Worship with Greg Laurie

Po-tay-to, Po-tah-to?

Can we please remove the "Theological Seminary" from Fuller's name? I mean, I suppose they are teaching theology, but it's grossly erroneous and, well, blasphemous. But, to be fair, the news I am currently taking issue with today is directed at the translators of the Common English Bible.

The CEB is one of only three Bible translations approved for use by students of Fuller Theological Seminary. The other two are the TNIV and the NRSV, so I think you can imagine the direction this is headed.

Yesterday, The Christian Post reported the following:
New Bible to Go on Public Release, Changes Jesus from 'Son of Man' to ‘the Human One’
Wed, Jul. 13, 2011 Posted: 11:55 AM EDT

The new edition of the Common English Bible (CEB) will be released in print and made available to the public for the first time on August 1, publicist Audra Jennings has told The Christian Post.
The publisher of the new version is hoping it will make the Bible understandable and attractive to as many people as possible. To that end, the new edition of the CEB has made several “bold” translation choices, including changing Jesus' “Son of Man” title to “the Human One.”
Read the entire article here.
As Pastor Ken Silva notes,
Bold is really a gross understatement when you’re seeking friendship with the world and are arrogant enough to dare to alter one of the titles of God’s Messiah, Christ Jesus of Nazareth. You see, Son of Man speaks to the Deity of Christ; yet in an effort to please liberal unbelievers—who deny Who Jesus is—the CET translators attempt to over-stress His humanity in order to elevate the status of the self.
Continue reading Ken's article here.
Well, come on, let's not get too picky here! After all, removing Jesus' title of "Son of Man" and replacing it with "The Human One" is practically the same thing, right? You say "to-may-to," I say "to-mah-to." You say "po-tay-to," I say, "po-tah-to." It's all the same at the end of the day! Um...not even close. Just as Silva noted above, this change is an attempt to alleviate the focus of the reader off of the deity of Jesus Christ and instead over-emphasize His humanity. Yes, Jesus walked this earth with two natures: He was and is fully man and fully God. But let's not elevate His humanity above His deity unless, of course, we are trying to paint the picture of Jesus as merely a "good man" from whom we can glean nice, warm fuzzy moral lessons.

But then, none of this should surprise us. Nor should it surprise us that Fuller would eagerly embrace this translation.
In May, Fuller Theological Seminary voted to add the Common English Bible to the NRSV and the TNIV as translations that could be required for students doing biblical studies. “We wanted something that was an academically excellent translation from Greek and Hebrew, and one that reflected our strong position regarding women in leadership,” Dr. Joel B. Green, professor of New Testament Interpretation, told The Christian Post. (Online source)
Once a prominent Christian institution which strove to serve and honor the Lord, Fuller is now a liberal, postmodern swamp of doubt and apostasy. And yet, I wonder how many other once-conservative colleges and seminaries have begun their own slow slide down the same slope? I know that there are many who profess to uphold Christian values and beliefs but, upon inspection, one would find the same aberrant teachings filtering into these institutions as well. How do I know? My very own alma mater is one of them (and I praise God daily for protecting me from some of the bad theology I was fed over those 4 years).

If you have a student who is about to go off to college, I strongly suggest that you pick up a copy of Already Compromised. In this  book, Ken Ham and Greg Hall investigate and expose a number of so-called "Christian" colleges, revealing what they really believe about the Bible and the God of the universe. You can get a free sample chapter of the book here. Visit this site to see a list of colleges who affirm the statement of faith of Answers in Genesis.

Thursday's Spurgeon

The following is from a tract entitled The Rivulet:
The Thames at its first tunnel is a tiny rill for a lamb to drink at; no one would dream of its swelling into a mighty river. The grace of God in its first commencement in the soul of man is usually a faint and feeble thing. Jesus is trusted, but the faith is feeble. Love to heavenly things is in the heart, but it is rather a spark than a flame. All the graces are in the new-born soul, but they are like seeds, rather than well-grown plants. No one rails at the river's humble parentage, and none of us must blame the littleness of early spiritual life. Thanks be unto God if we are saved at all; better, far better, to be a rill of grace than a river of sin. The very least streamlet, or even drop of faith, is more precious than a world of gold. Young beginner, be encouraged by this thought.
    How quiet, calm, and beautiful, is the rustic nook, where the lamb is nipping a sweet, succulent shoot from the shrub which covers the little brook! so fair, so calm, is the first season of spiritual existence. The love of our espousals we shall ever look back upon with grateful recollection. Though the rill cannot as yet float a navy, or make glad a million-peopled city, yet it has a peculiar charm and beauty of its own; and even so has youthful piety. Remember this; newly-converted friend, and be glad.
    Yet the stream grows and swells in volume as it advances. The lamb will not always be its fit playmate; it will ere long consort with giant oaks, towering castles, huge galleons, and crowded cities, and will not rest till it communes with the far-sounding ocean. Even so grace grows, strengthens, increases. From the day of small things it sweeps on to weeks of service, years of patience, and ages of perfection. Seek this progress, O young believer, and be not content without it. Looking unto Jesus, speed along the channel of his will. His merit has saved you if you have believed; let his example animate you, and his love encourage you. May your peace be as a river, and your righteousness as the waves of the sea.

12 July 2011

Tim Challies Reviews 'Jesus Calling'

Tim Challies has written a very thorough review of the devotional book, Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young. I dealt with this book a few weeks back, but, as usual, Challies tackles the book better than I, and I really appreciated his thoughts. Once again, amidst all of the dangerous aspects of this book, perhaps the most concerning is the ultimate result that this devotional, and the author's claims to hear directly from Jesus, lead ultimately to a rejection of Sola Scriptura. Some excerpts from Challies' review are below.
You will not be surprised to learn that the content of this book, each of the devotionals, is a message Young has received from the Lord—a message meant to provide a deeper experience of Jesus’ Presence and Peace. “This practice of listening to God has increased my intimacy with Him more than any other spiritual discipline, so I want to share some of the messages I have received. In many parts of the world, Christians seem to be searching for a deeper experience of Jesus’ Presence and Peace. The messages that follow address that felt need.”
We cannot miss this. As I have spoken to others about the book, I’ve heard some people say that this book is written as if Jesus is speaking to the reader. But it’s important to know that Young makes a far more audacious claim—this is Jesus speaking, through her. The messages he has given her, she now passes on to us.
It is interesting that the majority of the devotionals are affirmations rather than commandments which means that the book tends to be more descriptive than prescriptive. It is less about Jesus telling how we are to live, but more about who he is, who we are, and how to enjoy his Presence. It is notable that these affirmations span only a very narrow range of the Christian experience. It is equally notable that many of Jesus’ words sound very little like what he says in the Bible. For example, “Let the Light of My Presence soak into you, as you focus your thoughts on Me.” And shortly after, “Learn to hide in the secret of My Presence, even as you carry out your duties in the world.” I do not even know what that means or how it might be applied. There is no clear command there for me to obey and no clear word about who Jesus is.
Read the entire review here. 

Jesus Calling

08 July 2011

This 'n' That

Unless you live under a rock, you know that Casey Anthony has been acquitted of the murder of her daughter, Caylee, and will be released from prison in about a week. There is a lot of outrage surrounding this verdict, and rightly so. It is sad, however, that some who are so vocal about this murder stand silent in the face of nearly 4,000 abortions every day. It appears as though Caylee Anthony was murdered because she was inconvenient. 93% of abortions occur for the same reason. Something to think about.

Robert Schuller has been ousted from the board of his own Crystal Cathedral. It's difficult to feel sorry for a man who has contributed so greatly to the downgrade of Christianity in America. I guess the power of positive thinking doesn't always work, huh?

The "Religious Right" continues to ignore warnings against uniting with the heretical New Apostolic Reformation movement. Once again, we see self-professing Christians willing to compromise biblical truth for a fleeting political cause. 

The Reformed Traveler blog has a brief post warning about Henri Nouwen. I have also previously addressed Nouwen's unbiblical teachings on meditation here.

Focus on the Family doesn't seem to care that their fingers are in the contemplative spirituality pie.

The current administration has compiled a list of 36 nations it deems to have “a tendency to promote, produce, or protect terrorist organizations or their members," and Israel is at the top of the list. It would be interesting to see some evidence as to how or why this determination was made, because Israel is the last country that should cause the US concern! Noticeably absent from the list are Cuba and North Korea. Maybe we should ask the government to redefine what they mean by "terrorist," because I think we must be talking about different things...

Have you  listened to this sermon yet? 

I wonder what the TSA will do with this one. Airlines are now being warned that terrorists may implant bombs underneath their skin. Hm. Well, the current system we have in place leaves much to be desired (unless of course you feel threatened by 90+ year-old women who are dying of cancer), so I don't feel any less safe knowing the person next to me could be packing subcutaneous heat.

California has just passed a bill that will require that gay history be included in textbooks. I guess Harvey Milk Day wasn't enough.

A lot of people, myself included, are disappointed over news that Logos has hired a new "Catholic Product Manager." Frank Turk addressed the issue in an open letter here. Logos provides amazing Bible software that is great for research and study, and I will continue to recommend it (although I hear BibleWorks is a great program as well. I can't attest to this personally since they have yet to develop a platform for Mac). Okay, so this news isn't the greatest, but it's hardly reason to stop using or refuse to use Logos. Just as I don't boycott every company that supports the gay agenda (because that would mean I'd basically have to throw out everything in my cupboards, I'm sure), so I will continue to use my Logos. But, if BibleWorks decides to better support Mac in the future, I may take a serious glance in their direction.

07 July 2011

Pondering the Finality of Christ's Saving Work

When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:30 )

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 10:11-14 )

I love these verses. I love a lot of Bible verses, but these two have been prominent in my mind the past few days. "It is finished." Wow. The sacrifice of our Savior was whole, complete, and utterly perfect. He offered Himself willingly, out of obedience to His Father, and when all had been accomplished, He voluntarily "bowed his head and gave up his spirit." Then, walking into the heavenly Holy of Holies, He presented the perfect sacrifice of Himself to the Father and, upon offering that sacrifice, Jesus Christ sat down. Earthly priests didn't sit down while rendering their service. Why? Because the animal sacrifices which they were offering could never atone and purify the sins of men. Rather, every sacrifice pointed to the ultimate sacrifice, Jesus Christ. And that sacrifice was full, sufficient, and perfectly atoned for the sins of all those who will repent and trust in Him for salvation. And now He sits, His saving work accomplished, as He waits for that time when He will return again.

If God has saved you, then you have been, you are, and you will be forgiven. "It is finished." Not, "it will be finished...someday." Not, "Well, as long as they do their best, then I've done the rest." Nope, it's done, it's accomplished. Jesus Christ was punished for your sin. Enduring the punishment that we as wretched, fallen, depraved sinners deserve, He bore the full wrath of God so that we never will. How often do we thank Him for His perfect, unwavering obedience to His Father in this? I think of the mocking He endured on the cross. Jeers of, "why don't You come down from there and save Yourself?" You and I know that Christ could have come down from the cross that day, but He didn't. If He had, in saving Himself, He would have utterly failed in His mission and assignment from the Father. And so He remained on the cross, beaten, bloodied and in certain agony...and as such each drop of His blood covers our sins with His righteousness. Amazing grace, indeed.

Thursday's Spurgeon

The apostles never traveled far from the simple facts of Christ's life, death, resurrection, ascension, exaltation, and second advent. These things, of which they were the witnesses, constituted the staple of all their discourses. . . .

What a rebuke this should be to those in modern times who are ever straining after novelties. There may be much of the Athenian spirit among congregations, but that should be no excuse for its being tolerated among ministers; we, of all men, should be the last to spend our time in seeking something new.

Our business, my brethren, is the old labor of apostolic tongues, to declare that Jesus, who is the same yesterday to-day and for ever. We are mirrors reflecting the transactions of Calvary, telescopes manifesting the distant glories of an exalted Redeemer. The nearer we keep to the cross, the nearer, I think, we keep to our true vocation. When the Lord shall be pleased to restore to his Church once more a fervent love to Christ, and when once again we shall have a ministry that is not only flavoured with Christ, but of which Jesus constitutes the sum and substance, then shall the Churches revive—then shall the set time to favor Zion come.

The goodly cedar which was planted by the rivers of old, and stretched out her branches far and wide, has become in these modern days like a tree dwarfed by Chinese art; it is planted by the rivers as aforetime, but it does not flourish, only let God the Holy Spirit give to us once again the bold and clear preaching of Christ crucified in all simplicity and earnestness, and the dwarf shall swell into a forest giant, each expanding bud shall burst into foliage, and the cedar shall tower aloft again, until the birds of the air shall lodge in the branches thereof.

I need offer you no apology, then, for preaching on those matters which engrossed all the time of the apostles, and which shall shower unnumbered blessings on generations yet to come.
HT: Pyromaniacs

04 July 2011

The Most Powerful Sermon I Have Ever Heard

Well, finally all 10 messages from this year's Resolved Conference are available for download! While I enjoyed each message I listened to by MacArthur, Mohler and Lawson (I did not listen to CJ Mahaney), it was Steve Lawson's message delivered on Sunday evening, June 26, that absolutely blew me away. This 90-minute message was the most powerful, clear, convicting, God-honoring, God-glorifying, worship-causing, Gospel-saturated sermon that I think I have ever heard. You'll probably need and want to listen to this one twice. To listen to this sermon, click here.

Remembering True Freedom

On this Independence Day, may I suggest that you not rest upon freedom granted by a flag or a government, for those freedoms can quickly be dashed. Rather, if you are the Lord's, rest upon your freedom in Christ, submitting to Him again and anew. For it is only by being His slave that we will ever experience true liberty.
But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. (Romans 6:17-18)
But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:22-23)

01 July 2011

This 'n' That

I almost opted out of posting this week's mishmash of happenings. But it wouldn't be Friday without a list of random stories, so here's your week in review (kind of):

Once arch-nemeses, now best buddies, an Episcopal church in Maryland will soon be converting to Catholicism. They call this "coming home," which I suppose fits perfectly into the Roman Church's most recent marketing campaign. Let's face it, the Episcopal church isn't exactly a beacon of conservative Christian thought. Nevertheless, this is a most blatant example of churches outside of Catholicism returning "home to Rome." Think it isn't happening in your church? Think again. As more and more Protestant churches start welcoming contemplative practices like Eastern-style meditation, labyrinth-walking, breath prayers, and the like, they are opening wide the doors to eventually join forces with the sola Scriptura denying Catholic Church.

Mega-churches are now crossing state lines with their multi-site campuses. I'll refrain from commenting further here and just say, stay tuned for a more in-depth examination of this later this weekend.

The TSA strikes again.

Scientists say that California is long overdue for a mega-earthquake. I'm sure they're right. What caught my attention with this article, however, was the very first comment below it. Kudos, sir. Check it out.

Did you get a chance to listen to any of the live-streamed sermons from the Resolved Conference last weekend? If not, you missed out, but thanks to modern technology, you'll soon understand why Steve Lawson's powerful Sunday night sermon made headlines. As of now, only the first 4 sessions of Resolved are available for download, but keep checking this website as the rest of them should be available soon.

Al Mohler comments on New York's decision to destroy the institution of marriage.

DiscernIt blog posts a fantastic older article by David Cloud about Eugene Peterson's The Message.

Chrystal Whitt at Slaughter of the Sheep has a brief post highlighting some of the latest "Unholy Manifestations at IHOP."

Perry Noble preaches about the evils of leaving the auditorium to use the restroom during the service. Worse than the content of this "sermon" is "Pastor" Perry's language. If you listen, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.