31 October 2011

O Lord, Look Down from Heaven, Behold

Reformation Day cannot pass without at least some acknowledgment of the man God used to start it all. Below are the lyrics to Martin Luther's hymn, O Lord, Look Down from Heaven, Behold. In light of the state of the church today, they seem rather timely.

O Lord, Look Down from Heaven, Behold
O Lord, look down from heaven, behold
And let Thy pity waken:
How few are we within Thy Fold,
Thy saints by men forsaken!
True faith seems quenched on every hand,
Men suffer not Thy Word to stand;
Dark times have us o'ertaken.
With fraud which they themselves invent
Thy truth they have confounded;
Their hearts are not with one consent
On Thy pure doctrine grounded.
While they parade with outward show,
They lead the people to and fro,
In error's maze astounded.
May God root out all heresy
And of false teachers rid us
Who proudly say: "Now, where is he
That shall our speech forbid us?
By right or might we shall prevail;
What we determine cannot fail;
We own no lord and master."
Therefore saith God, "I must arise,
The poor My help are needing;
To Me ascend My people's cries,
And I have heard their pleading.
For them My saving Word shall fight
And fearlessly and sharply smite,
The poor with might defending."
As silver tried by fire is pure
From all adulteration,
So through God's Word shall men endure
Each trial and temptation.
Its light beams brighter through the cross,
And, purified from human dross,
It shines through every nation.
Thy truth defend, O God, and stay
This evil generation;
And from the error of their way
Keep Thine own congregation.
The wicked everywhere abound
And would Thy little flock confound;
But Thou art our Salvation.

Harold Camping Admits He Was Wrong

The Christian Post reports:
With his speech sounding somewhat slurred and labored, Family Radio Stations Inc. founder and chairman Harold Camping sought to address in a recent message why Christ failed to return on Oct. 21 as the Bible teacher had predicted. Camping confessed, after decades of falsely misleading his followers, that he was wrong and regrets his misdeeds.
In addition to attempting to correct his erroneous teachings on the Rapture and God's day of final judgment on the world, Camping, 90, also confessed, "incidentally," that he was wrong to claim that God had stopped saving people after May 21 – the date which God's so-called "spiritual" judgment had begun. (Online Source)
The headline of the article actually reads that "Harold Camping Repents..." Quite honestly, in reading the entire article, I didn't see any actual repentance, only admission of being wrong. Nevertheless, for a man entrenched in false prophecies and teachings, we ought to praise God for this small step and continue to pray for this aged, deceived man.

30 October 2011

Top Five Books

Well, the local "Christian" store has distributed their latest catalog/ad. The timing is perfect, really, because I've been wanting to make a list of 'Jesus junk' that I don't want for Christmas.

Once I flipped past the same old chintzy jewelry, tabletop decorations, and wall art that they've been selling for years, I came across the Bibles and books. Here, in no particular order, is my list of the Top Five Books I Won't be Buying for Anybody for Christmas:

5. Sequin Bibles: "Cute and sparkly, these fun Bibles for girls beg the question, 'What kind of Bible is that?' so your child can share the light of Jesus with others. Adorably embellished with sparkly sequins, these easy-to-read Bibles are the perfect way to put the Word of God in their hands." Uh huh. Because plastering sequins on a Bible is really going to make a "tween" girl want to read it more.

4. Jesus Calling: 365 Day Journaling Devotional (Sarah Young). Um, no thanks. I don't care to read the messages that Sarah Young's channeled spirits are giving to her, and I certainly have no desire to journal and listen for "God's" voice in my own head.

3. Every Day a Friday (Joel Osteen): "Research shows that people are happiest on Fridays. Combining his personal experiences with scriptural insights and principles for happiness, Pastor Joel Osteen writes how we can generate the highest level of contentment and joy every day of the week." You know, for those times when resting in the promises and sovereignty of Jesus Christ just isn't enough. 

2. The God Pocket (Bruce Wilkinson): "God is ready to reveal Himself through you to a world in need. Learn how you can partner with Him and help provide a financial miracle for somebody in need. In The God Pocket, Bruce Wilkinson discusses how to recognize a 'miracle in the making' and act on heaven's invitation." The God Pocket? Really? As one of my Twitter friends cleverly asked, "Is that like a Hot Pocket?" Well, I don't think so! Sorry, Mr. Wilkinson, but if I want someone to scam me out of my money in the name of Jesus, all I have to do is go to my local mega church. I'm still waiting for that Prayer of Jabez to pay off. But thanks anyway.

And...the #1 book that I will not be purchasing this Christmas...

1. Heaven is for Real for Kids (Colton Burpo): "Colton Burpo came back from his trip to heaven with a very important message: Jesus really, really loves children. This kid's edition of the runaway bestseller is beautifully illustrated under Colton's direction." No comment.


Sunday Morning Praise

Who am I?

29 October 2011

Halloween Innocence? Should Christians Celebrate?

The following was written by Justin Edwards of airĊ, and is republished here with permission:

Halloween Innocence? Should Christians Celebrate?

Posted on October 24, 2011 by 

This post was originally posted in 2010, but still holds true as we enter Halloween week in 2011.
I think there is one very simple and honest question each of us must ask ourselves as born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ – is there one single thing that is good about Halloween? No doubt there is someone already thinking I am a legalistic party-pooper trying to take “the fun” out of this “silly, harmless” “holiday” – right? I mean, after all, the kids get to dress up in fun costumes with hopes to fill their bags with their favorite candies. What could be the harm in that? Or what about a night on the town going to any number of the adult costume-themed parties, where one night out of the year you can wear that mask and be someone you’re not? A night to cut loose and dabble into the “dark side”? It’s all innocent fun right?
The traditions and history of Halloween aside, have you ever considered this day to be a time to glorify evil, sorcery, witchcraft, the occult, and the horrors of life? I ask the question again, is there a single thing that is good about Halloween? Speaking from my own experience, as a child, I wasn’t allowed to go trick-or-treating in the neighborhood, but we attended the fall festivals and the like at church. Of course, dressing up as innocent cowboys and other fictional characters made everything ok at the “harvest festival”, but what this did, in my opinion, was desensitize me to the reality of Halloween and everything it truly represents. Once I became an adult, I loved to go to all the parties, bars, clubs, and events that hosted the various ghoulish festivities.
Of course, my wild escapades into the nightlife on Halloween night was not a result of bobbing for apples as a kid, but looking back into those reckless, young adult years I see that there was indeed nothing good about those nights as I drank the night away and celebrated what could be described as nothing less than glorified sin. And I professed to be a Christian.
One only has to pick up a local news magazine like Creative Loafing and browse through the October advertisements to see what I mean. The names of these events truly give weight to the depths of evil in society, and the worst part of it is, I have no doubt many of these people have any idea as to what they are promoting and taking pleasure in – events like “Feathers and Fetishes”, “Gravediggers Ball”, “Wicked Women of Wax”, “Campground Massacre”, “Sin City Halloween Party”, and most revolting is “Sin Sunday Fangbangers Ball” at a local “men’s club”. Yet, on the other hand, we only have to go to John 3:18 to see why men and women take pleasure in such blatant wickedness:
And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
At the Carowinds theme park in Charlotte, NC, an event is held each year titled Scarowinds, and  they boast from the website (emphasis mine):
…for a deathly descriptive run down of our 11 attractions and scarezones, as well as oursinful stage shows and terrifying rides, visit Scarowinds.com People are DYING to get in are you? All you fear is here!
A brief look into the different attractions reveals “scare zones” such as “Camp Killauee”, “Dead Inn”, “Slaughter House”, and the “Silver Scream Sinema“. And to think that professing Christians can go to venues making light and fun of sin, the very thing that God hates, and have no sensitivity to such foolery. It’s truly mind-boggling and a testament to the state of the professing church.
I can’t put into words the advertisements I have seen through various media outlets over the last few years amplifying and glorifying these things God detests. I have come to the conclusion, however, that Halloween is the most evil day of the year and I want nothing to do with it as far as participation is concerned. The answer to the question I posed at the beginning of this post is clear to me – there is nothinggood about Halloween. Another even more necessary question must be asked, what in Halloween brings glory to God? Surely you cannot answer in the affirmative there is anything about this day that glorifies the name of Jesus Christ.
As born again believers, each of us must ask these questions of ourselves. What are we doing for our children when we make light of this day and provide them with “less scary” alternatives? Obviously, a child isn’t sinning for knocking on doors asking for candy, nor do I believe you as parents are sinning by allowing your children to do so (unless, of course, you are being convicted by the Holy Spirit to not do so). But what I’m asking you to consider is this:
All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor. – 1 Corinthians 10:23-24
Admittedly, it is not my place to judge anyone should they participate in the apparent innocence of trick-or-treating and the like. But we must ask ourselves what are the benefits? And are we playing a role in desensitizing our children to the weight of sin? As for me and my house, we have chosen to not compromise.
There is so much deception in the world today, and as we near the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, the deception will only increase. The less we compromise our Christian values and moral principles and the less we are conformed to the things of this world (Romans 12:2), the less ammunition we give the world to seduce our children into the ways of the world. We must detach ourselves from the crowds. We must make up our minds and be resolved to protect our families no matter the cost. God has a standard of holiness and we are to pursue it with all of our strength out of the abundance of love in our hearts for Him.
This world is passing away (1 John 2:15-17) and we as Christians have been called out. We have been set apart. We are, in fact, aliens in this world whose citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20). The line in the sand has been drawn, and within my power and ability I will choose the things of God, love the things He loves, and hate the things he hates, namely sin. Not only do I not want to offend God in this manner, but I no longer want to go along with the crowd or continue to do things because that’s just the way we’ve always done it. And any time we take pleasure in the things God hates, we dishonor Him and relish in the very things for which He was crucified.
And speaking of Christ’s death and glorious resurrection, God can and will take something that was intended for evil and turn it into something for good and His glory. What better time than to talk to somebody about the free gift of grace God offers to sinners? While sin and death are being celebrated in a way that distorts truth, we have the opportunity to reveal the reality of sin and the certainty of death. And all who do not recognize their sinful condition and gift of grace through repentance and faith in Christ will realize the wages of sin – eternal death.
If you’re planning on handing out candy this weekend, I encourage you to add to your stash the Gospel.  Be sensitive to your surroundings and in your conversations this weekend and look for opportunities to talk about death. Styrofoam gravestones, zombies, caskets, death scenes, and the like provide us with great conversation starters – like, “what do you think really happens when you die”? Give the person you’re talking to a chance to explain what they believe, and should they not understand salvation, share the Gospel with them in truth and love. While many of these people are flippantly celebrating death, eternal death will be their fate should they continue along the wide path of destruction.
I hope this post has given you something to think about. We must examine everything we do to see whether or not it honors God and brings glory to His name. Those things in our lives that clutter and weigh us down or distort or compromise the truth must be cleaned out. At the very least, I hope this post leads you to pray about these things.
Be safe this weekend.

28 October 2011

This 'n' That

Last night I attended a debate between Dr. Albert Mohler and Jim Wallis. The topic? Is Social Justice an Essential Part of the Mission of the Church? Needless to say, it was a fascinating dialogue to watch. As soon as the video is available, I'll link to it here. If you'd like to see a running commentary from those who were watching online, you can visit this Twitter stream. The debate did prove to be a bit maddening, as Wallis grounded his argument in proof-texting and personal anecdotes (with quite a bit of name-dropping). Mohler, unsurprisingly, grounded his position in Scripture, and did so accurately. It was a blessing to watch Dr. Mohler patiently address the issue, and even more wonderful to hear him proclaim the true Gospel over and over. That was perhaps the saddest part of the evening, as it became abundantly clear that Wallis and Mohler each defined the word "gospel" differently, and of course they cannot both be right. It was absolutely tragic to watch Wallis, a man who is considered by some to be one of this country's Christian leaders, absolutely misunderstand the Gospel of Jesus Christ. At the risk of dating myself, a well known quote from an 80s cult classic movie kept coming to mind and I wanted to say to Wallis, "Gospel. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." However, there was certainly ample opportunity to hear the true Gospel last night from Dr. Mohler, so we ought to be praying that Jim Wallis would soon have ears to hear.

On that note, I know I'm quite late with today's post, but "better late than never" certainly applies, so here's your week in review (kind of):
  • The pope is calling for a central world bank. Wait a minute, didn't he do this two years ago? When do you think he's going to realize that he's not the world's go-to financial authority? Seriously, though, are we really surprised that the world is moving in this direction? Depending especially upon your hermeneutic of Revelation, such proposals and potential advances should not be surprising.
  • The Sola Sisters (Christine Pack and Cathy Matthews) were on Stand Up for the Truth earlier this week to share their testimonies.
  • How to awaken a dead and unregenerate church:

27 October 2011

Thursday's Spurgeon

The following can be found in the April 1888 edition of the Sword and the Trowel: 
Do men really believe that there is a gospel for each century? Or a religion for each fifty years? Will there be in heaven saints saved according to a score sorts of gospel? Will these agree together to sing the same song? And what will the song be? Saved on different footings, and believing different doctrines, will they enjoy eternal concord, or will heaven itself be only a new arena for disputation between varieties of faiths?
We shall, on the supposition of an ever-developing theology, owe a great deal to the wisdom of men. God may provide the marble; but it is man who will carve the statue. It will no longer be true that God has hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and revealed them unto babes; but the babes will be lost in hopeless bewilderment, and carnal wisdom will have fine times for glorying. Scientific men will be the true prophets of our Israel, even though they deny Israel's God; and instead of the Holy Spirit guiding the humble in heart, we shall see the enthronement of "the spirit of the age," whatever that may mean. "The world by wisdom knew not God," so says the apostle of the ages past; but the contrary is to be our experience nowadays. New editions of the gospel are to be excogitated by the wisdom of men, and we are to follow in the wake of "thoughtful preachers," whose thoughts are not as God's thoughts. Verily this is the deification of man! Nor do the moderns shrink even from this. To many of our readers it may already be known that it is beginning to be taught that God himself is but the totality of manhood, and that our Lord Jesus only differed from us in being one of the first men to find out that he was God: he was but one item of that race, which, in its solidarity, is divine.
It is thought to be mere bigotry to protest against the mad spirit which is now loose among us. Pan-indifferentism is rising like the tide; who can hinder it? We are all to be as one, even though we agree in next to nothing. It is a breach of brotherly love to denounce error. Hail, holy charity! Black is white; and white is black. The false is true; the true is false; the true and the false are one. Let us join hands, and never again mention those barbarous, old-fashioned doctrines about which we are sure to differ. Let the good and sound men for liberty's sake shield their "advanced brethren"; or, at least, gently blame them in a tone which means approval. After all, there is no difference, except in the point of view from which we look at things: it is all in the eye, or, as the vulgar say, "it is all my eye"! In order to maintain an open union, let us fight as for dear life against any form of sound words, since it might restrain our liberty to deny the doctrines of the Word of God!
But what if earnest protests accomplish nothing, because of the invincible resolve of the infatuated to abide in fellowship with the inventors of false doctrine? Well, we shall at least have done our duty. We are not responsible for success. If the plague cannot be stayed, we can at least die in the attempt to remove it. Every voice that is lifted up against Anythingarianism is at least a little hindrance to its universal prevalence. It may be that in some one instance a true witness is strengthened by our word, or a waverer is kept from falling; and this is no mean reward. It is true that our testimony may be held up to contempt; and may, indeed, in itself be feeble enough to be open to ridicule; but yet the Lord, by the weak things of the world, has overcome the mighty in former times, and he will do so again. We cannot despair for the church or for the truth, while the Lord lives and reigns; but, assuredly, the conflict to which the faithful are now summoned is not less arduous than that in which the Reformers were engaged. So much of subtlety is mixed up with the whole business, that the sword seems to fall upon a sack of wool, or to miss its mark. However, plain truth will cut its way in the end, and policy will ring its own death-knell.

26 October 2011

The Modern Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit

This past Sunday, John MacArthur delivered a stellar sermon at his home church. I know, I know, what else is new? But this is one that you'll want to hear. Deviating a bit from his usual verse-by-verse exposition, MacArthur took the time to expose some of today's dangerous, deceptive teachings that are infiltrating the church and Christian circles. These are movements that find themselves blaspheming the Holy Spirit by the very nature of their false teaching. MacArthur then demonstrated the true doctrine of the Holy Spirit as taught to us in God's Word. This was an introductory sermon, as Dr. MacArthur intends to continue teaching on the Holy Spirit in the coming weeks. I pray you'll take the time to listen.

You can access the sermon, "The Modern Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit" here.

Something that MacArthur touched on more than once in this sermon was the idea that, "Wherever you see a work that is really the ministry of the Holy Spirit, you will see men humbled and Christ exalted." This thought really struck me. As we look at much of today's popular evangelicalism - the hip pastors, the huge screens, the spotlights on the most talented members of the "praise and worship band," we must ask ourselves: is this truly a work of the Holy Spirit? Are men being humbled and is Christ being exalted? I fear that, in many instances it is precisely the opposite.

25 October 2011

"I believe that [Mormons] are Christians," Mr. Osteen said...

The Washington Times reports:
“I believe that [Mormons] are Christians,” Mr. Osteen said. “I don’t know if it’s the purest form of Christianity, like I grew up with. But you know what, I know Mormons. I hear Mitt Romney — and I’ve never met him — but I hear him say, ‘I believe Jesus is the son of God,’ ‘I believe he’s my savior,’ and that’s one of the core issues.
“I’m sure there are other issues that we don’t agree on. But you know, I can say that the Baptists and the Methodists and the Catholics don’t all agree on everything. So that would be my take on it.” (Online Source)
This isn't a new stance for Osteen. He made a similar declaration four years ago in an interview with Chris Wallace, and his conclusions were wrong at that time as well. Mormonism is not just an impure form of Christianity. It is not Christianity, period. And if one professes to be a Christian, thereby adhering to the core doctrines of the biblical faith, then there are quite a few issues with which to disagree.

From Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry (CARM):
Mormonism teaches that God the Father has a body of flesh and bones (D. & C. 130:22) and that Jesus is a creation.  It teaches that he was begotten in heaven as one of God’s spirit children (See the Book, Jesus the Christ, by James Talmage, p. 8).  This is in strict contrast to the biblical teaching that he is God in flesh (John 1:1, 14), eternal (John 1:1, 2, 15), uncreated, yet born on earth (Col. 1:15), and the creator all (John 1:3; Col. 1:16-17). Jesus cannot be both created and not created at the same time. Though Mormonism teaches that Jesus is God in flesh, it teaches that he is "a" god in flesh, one of three gods that comprise the office of the Trinity (Articles of Faith, by Talmage, pp. 35-40). These three gods are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. This is in direct contradiction of the biblical doctrine that there is only one God (Isaiah 44:6,8; 45:5). 
Because Mormonism denies the biblical truth of who God is, who Jesus is, how forgiveness of sins is attained, and what the gospel is, the Mormon is not Christian -- in spite of all his claims that he is Christian. (Online Source)
Perhaps it would do Mr. Osteen well to study the Mormon religion before making such statements. Indeed, it would behoove him greatly to heed the words of the late Dr. Walter Martin:
Today Mormonism is powerful, its missionary program immense, and its inroads upon the Christian faith tragic…concerned Christian pastors, evangelists, and laymen everywhere [must] recognize the threat of Mormonism and the need for a definite plan of action to meet the growing challenge at home and abroad. (Online Source)
And while in this same Washington Times article, we see that Osteen has declared that the faith of Americans is at an "all time high," one must consider: faith in what? Faith is useless if it lies in a false god. Faith is worthless if it lies in oneself. The only faith worth possessing is that which rests in the triune God of the Bible. The only eternally saving faith is that which lies in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Any other faith will prove temporal, and will ultimately prove to be damning.

24 October 2011

Certain Hope

Dear Christian, where does your hope lie? Oh, you say it rests in Christ, in the Lord! You say it rests in His atoning sacrifice, in His perfect, complete, redemptive work upon that bloodied cross! But again I ask, where does your hope lie? If one were to observe your day, to hear each grumbling and gripe; to know the source of each snickering laugh; if one were to eavesdrop upon that conversation held over steaming coffee...would such an observer indeed discern that your hope dwells solely in the Lord?

Christian, you are blessed with great hope beyond any of the transient, temporal meanderings of this world. That hope is your secure salvation, your place in God’s redemptive plan. The hope of a believer lies in Jesus Christ, and in the future, final revelation of Him in glory. The hope of the believer rests in the promises of God: promises of a pure, imperishable inheritance; promises that you are sealed now with the Holy Spirit; the promise that you are even now the recipient of eternal life; and the great promise that you will be with Him for all of eternity.

Facing not just death, but the cup of His Father's wrath, the great comforting Shepherd told His disciples, "Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also (John 14:1-3)." Though spoken to the twelve, is this not also a promise for all Christians throughout the ages? Is this not a glorious certainty upon which believers may place not just wishful hope, but certain hope?

While we remain on Earth, we stumble through this life and our God graciously continues to sanctify us. Oh, but upon our glorification, we will be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ! Romans 8:29-30 declares, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” This, too, is the hope of the Christian! Heaven, eternal life with God, complete and final freedom from sin, finally seeing and worshipping the Savior forever  - this is the ultimate destination for all who repent and believe. It is difficult to fathom anything greater in which to place our hope!

Oh, dear one, where does your hope lie?
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5)

22 October 2011

Mark Driscoll speaking to demons: "I want to know who all is involved here and what we're dealing with."

Even more evidence that Mark Driscoll has embraced a dangerous false teaching in which Christians are taught what amounts to hand-to-hand combat with demons. This bizarre teaching was once confined to the hyper-charismatic denominations but has now invaded mainstream evangelical Christianity. (Incidentally, this teaching is also pervasive in C. Peter Wagner’s New Apostolic Reformation.) This teaching instructs that Christians are authorized by God to deal directly with so-called territorial demons, in which a Christian must “reclaim” dominion over a territory (spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, etc.) that has been given over to demons due to personal sin.
Continue reading this at the Sola Sisters blog.

21 October 2011

The Answer to All Life's Squabbles? The T.D. Jakes Relationship Bible

There's another new Bible in town. The Relationship Bible. No, allow me to correct that: The T.D. Jakes Relationship Bible.

Some choice excerpts from the product description at Amazon read as follows (all emphases mine):
Throughout our lives, we all face a long list of questions on relationships that trouble our souls and require real answers based on real truth. How do I forgive someone who has hurt me badly? Can I mend this broken relationship? When my world seems to be falling apart around me, who can I trust and in whom dare I confide? How do I know whether a person is the right one to date? Will my marriage survive? How do I nourish my child’s heart? What do I do with my fears about expressing my love and care to a friend?
The good news is that in God’s Word we find the answers to life’s bewildering relationship questions. (Online Source)
Really? Is that why God provided the Bible for us, to answer "life's bewildering relationship questions?"
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16)
Hm. Well, maybe Paul had it wrong.
From Genesis to Revelation, it is clear that the Holy Bible is, in the words of Bishop T.D. Jakes, “The Greatest Love Story Ever Told.” It is not a book about religion, but relationships—from the creation of a man and a woman and their intimate relationship with God in the Garden through the tragic break in that relationship at the Fall and the eventual restoration of that relationship through Jesus Christ and His death on the cross of Calvary. (Online Source)
First of all, maybe this is just personal preference, but I'd really rather not think of Jesus like my big cosmic boyfriend. It's not biblical, it's irreverent and, it's also a tad creepy.

As for the last statement, yes, the shed blood of Christ, His perfect atoning sacrifice was the means by which men can be saved. However, there is no restored relationship for those who do not repent and put their faith in Jesus Christ. The wording above seems to imply otherwise.

Here's about the only thing in the product description that I can agree with:
Our relationship with God is the foundation for our lives. (Online Source)
Can't really argue with that, except for one thing. Thus far in his ministry, T.D. Jakes has given little indication that he worships the true God of the Bible. As a Word-Faith prosperity preacher, Jakes teaches a false gospel. If he indeed holds to the doctrine of the Oneness Pentecostals as regards the Trinity (i.e., modalism, and thus far he has given no indication otherwise), Jakes then worships a false god. So one must wonder, which God is he really talking about here?

This week, Jakes held his annual Woman, Thou Art Loosed conference, wherein he welcomed fellow Word-Faith pastrixes to come and teach fleece an excruciatingly large flock. What a grievous and abominable thing to think that the teachings of this man will be resting alongside God's holy Word in this newest Bible.

Of course, I have no issues whatsoever with using a good study Bible. Personally, I've benefitted greatly from resources such as the MacArthur Study Bible, the ESV Study Bible and the HCSB Study Bible, among others. But this is no study Bible. Commentary on the text is one thing. Articles and stories about earthly relationships are quite another. Why must this material be contained within the pages of a Bible? Why must we continue to make God's Word more "relevant" and more "accessible" by creating a new gimmicky Bible for every felt need and hobby that comes along? It seems it's more and more difficult these days to walk into a "Christian" bookstore and find just a plain, old "boring" Bible sitting on the shelf. How terribly sad!

I hate to break it to "Bishop" Jakes, but God's Word doesn't need his relationship advice. Perhaps it would be helpful if instead the bishop opened the Bible and studied up on one of the most important relationships revealed by Scripture: that between God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

T.D. Jakes and the Trinity (from Apprising Ministries)

This 'n' That

Well, if you're reading this, I hate to be the one to tell you, but you've missed the rapture. I think. Maybe. I'll ask Harold Camping and get back to you; he's probably not busy today. In seriousness, though, I hope that you are praying for those who have been so woefully deceived by Camping, that God would open their eyes to come to know His truth, not Harold Camping's version of it. But, as you all wait for this rapture to start or finish, please enjoy your week in review (kind of):
  • "Bishop" T.D. Jakes Woman, Thou Art Loosed conference is going on now at Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church. I tuned in last night just in time to witness Word-Faith pastrix Paula White fleecing...and robbing...the flock. I didn't know one person could spew so much heresy in just a couple of minutes, but she did. If nothing else, I suppose the conference is aptly named! The live stream continues tonight if you want to watch, but I am not responsible if you end up throwing your computer out the window.
  • A Southwest Airlines flight was diverted when an "unruly" passenger threatened all onboard and shouted, "You're all going to die. You're all going to hell. Allahu Akbar!" Ah, such a peaceful religion, isn't it?
  • The worship team at Elevation Church has signed a record deal. Don't get too excited, it's all part of "Pastor" Steven's "vision for Elevation Worship to write and record songs that reflected the church’s journey, experiences and needs." You know, because writing songs that exalt and glorify God is so yesterday.
  • The significance of Jesus' baptism:

20 October 2011

Thursday's Spurgeon

Now, the greatest matter of concern for any one of us is the eternal salvation of our soul. We need to be saved, and, according to the Scriptures of truth, there is but one way of salvation; but that way does not happen to be in favor among the sons of men. The great popular principle, popular all over the world, no matter whether the people happen to be Protestant or Catholic, Parsee or Mahomedan, Brahminist or Buddhist, is self-salvation — they would reach eternal life by merit. There are differences about what is to be done, but the great universal principle of unregenerate man is that he is, somehow or other, to save himself. This is his principle, and the further he goes in it the less likely is he to be saved.

My object this morning is to bring before you the much despised principle which God has revealed as the only true one, namely, salvation by the grace of God, through Jesus Christ, by simple faith in him. We preach, at God’s command, the way of salvation by mercy, not by merit; by faith, not by works; by grace, not by the efforts of men. May God help us so to set forth that principle, that many may accept it. I do not care one snap of my finger about preaching so that the style shall please the ear, but I long to reach your hearts. I want you to receive the only sure method of salvation, and I pray the Holy Ghost to baptise my words in his own mighty fire, and make them to burn their way into your hearts, and subdue you to the obedience of faith.

19 October 2011

The "Jesus Calling" Devotional Bible

This past summer, I briefly reviewed the devotional book Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. In that post, it was demonstrated that Young claims to have received her messages, her devotions, directly from God. From Young's own words, we saw that she admitted to practicing visualization, a mystical practice that is supported nowhere in Scripture. We examined her descriptive experiences with the "Presence of God," noting that even her own "conversion" story is wrought with warm mists and hug-like feelings, but is absolutely devoid of any mention of sin, conviction, repentance or full trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Just as a way of reminder, Young details her "conversion" story on Page vii of the Introduction:
"One night I found myself leaving the warmth of our cozy chalet to walk alone in the snowy mountains. I went into a deeply wooded area, feeling vulnerable and awed by cold, moonlit beauty. The air was crisp and dry, piercing to inhale. Suddenly I felt as if a warm mist enveloped me. I became aware of a lovely Presence, and my involuntary response was to whisper, "Sweet Jesus." This utterance was totally uncharacteristic of me, and I was shocked to hear myself speaking so tenderly to Jesus. As I pondered this brief communication, I realized it was the response of a converted heart; at that moment I knew I belonged to Him."
Several things jump out at me here. First of all, I did not know that Jesus was a warm mist. Intersting. Notice that shefeltthis supposed misty presence. Then, after muttering a blasphemous phrase that is common among unregenerates, she decided that she was converted. There is no talk of conviction or acknowledgment of sin, nothing of repentance, nothing of a crucified and risen Savior. In short, there is nothing indicative of a biblical conversion. Of course, I can make no unequivocal claim that Young is not actually saved, and that is not what I am doing here. But her account of her conversion, in combination with the presumptions and claims made in her book, are those of a confused believer at best, and a deceived unbeliever at worst. In either case, the Christian ought to either completely avoid Young's works (which would be my recommendation), or exercise extreme caution when reading, recognizing that her words are not the words of Jesus as she claims.

On page x of the introduction, Young describes how she practiced visualization when her family began to encounter spiritual warfare:
"One morning as I prayed, I visualized God protecting each of us. I pictured first our daughter, then our son, and then Steve encircled by God's protective Presence, which looked like a golden light. When I prayed for myself, I was suddenly enveloped in brilliant light and profound peace. I lost all sense of time as I experienced God's Presence in this powerful way."
Visualization is not a Christian practice. On the contrary, it is a practice of the occult. Nowhere does Scripture teach the Christian to pray by means of visualization, especially of "God's presence." Let Us Reason Ministries offers more detail:
Occult practices intangible images are brought into (physical reality) the material world, our 3rd dimension, by a number of ways. The attainment of this experiential knowledge (gnosis) leads to a self-realization . It has been said by occultists it lead's one to the mastery of spiritual technology and the attainment of psycho-spiritual powers.
The belief is that energy follows our thought. Our mind and thoughts produce energy, which begins to be birth in the spiritual realm first and then is reproduced in the natural. As the image we hold is incubated in thought it becomes birthed in the physical material world. Everything is first spiritual then physical. They claim this is how God created, he first had the image and then spoke it .This is clearly Christian Science and mind science also found in eastern ways of philosophy and metaphysical thought.
Mental imaging is a common practice in the occult. One holds an image in their mind and puts in the details like coloring in an outline. As they envision it each day, meditate on it becomes clearer and will come to pass. This technique is now used for healing traumas that are emotional, cancer and other diseases. One sees the cancer or disease being fought and conquered and essentially leaving.
What the new age is teaching is that one holds an image in their mind and goes in to experience it or uses it to change their reality. This is spiritual manipulation for power and healing. The Bible calls this sorcery, divination and vain imaginations.
We are told by some to visualize Jesus as we pray. When those into imagery and visualization believe that the "Jesus" being imaged in their mind is not just a image, but the real Jesus, even going so far as to dialogue and touch Him, then they have opened the door to counterfeit "spirit guides.' You might think you're focusing, on Jesus. You might have a real spiritual experience. But, when you create Jesus in your mind, He is not the historic Jesus of the Bible. He is The Jesus of your imagination, and the Bible warns about "another Jesus.' And many through these techniques have testified that the Jesus they encountered was not the resurrected Christ, but another Jesus, a counterfeit, "an angel of light"  impersonating the Jesus of the Bible. How can Jesus who is at the right hand of the father in heaven come down and make a personal appearance to each of us materially. If each of us visualize Jesus we would all probably have a different picture of what he looks like our minds. Which one has the right Jesus, the real one? None of us! We probably would make him into some image of the pictures we saw. (Online Source)
I have yet to find the passage in the Bible which describes one's conversion as a feeling of being enveloped by a warm mist. I am also searching in vain for the instance when Jesus taught His disciples how to experience Him through visualization. These things are not there. Why? Because they have no biblical basis and are, quite bluntly, occultic practices. Sarah Young may have heard from somebody, but she has not heard from God.

Young's story continues and becomes more disturbing:
"During that same year I began reading 'God Calling,' a devotional book written by two anonymous 'listeners.' These women practiced waiting quietly in God's Presence, pencils and paper in hand, recording the messages they received from Him (page xi)." 
So here we learn that Sarah Young admits to being influenced by women who entered altered states of consciousness in order to "hear" from God. "Listening Prayer," also known as "contemplative prayer" or "centering prayer" is when one stills himself, both mind and body, empties his mind and waits quietly to "hear" from God.
Learning to hear the Lord’s voice isn’t complicated.  But it does require some discipline to find a quiet place and to allow some time just listening.  Perhaps the hardest part is clearing your mind.  With all the noise of life regularly cascading through your mind, it can be hard to hear God’s voice.  There’s no formula, but let me share a few principles that have worked for me:   

  • Set aside at least half an hour to start.  When you are ready, quiet yourself.  If stray thoughts come through your mind, write them down on a separate piece of paper.

  • Read some scripture.  Ask the Lord to speak to you through it in a way that you can understand.  Ask God to protect you in Jesus’ name from deception.

  • Then write down your question for prayer.  Pause.  This is where you wait and listen.  God may direct you to another passage of Scripture.  He may share a tender word. Whatever you feel he may be saying to you, write it down.

  • Ask him to confirm anything he shared with you.
  • (Online Source, emphasis mine)
    Tell me, if one is reading God's Word, and if one is allegedly waiting to hear from the God of the universe, why would that one need to ask that same God for protection from deception? Answer: because this is not how God speaks to us today. If you are waiting to "hear" from God outside of Scripture, then you are telling God that His Word is not enough for you. Moreover, you are opening yourself up to "hear" from deceptive and lying spirits. "If you want to hear from God, read your Bible. If you want to hear audibly from God, read your Bible out loud." (I believe that quote is from Justin Peters, but I don't have an online source for it).

    Though not included in the instructions above, oftentimes this type of so-called prayer involves repeating a word or phrase - a mantra - over and over again as a means of stilling and emptying the mind. This is the process of New Age or Eastern meditation. And, before someone argues that they're using the name of Jesus as their mantra, ask yourself: does tacking the word "Christian" onto the word "murder" make it sanctified and acceptable? An extreme example to be sure, but the logic is the same. Just because you call something "Christian" doesn't make it so, especially when the original practice is directly opposed to biblical Christianity! To that point, what does the Bible say about how we are to pray? How gracious of our Lord to offer us a clear teaching of how to pray!
    “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:
    “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 
    Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 
    Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 
    And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. (Matthew 6:7-13)  
    (To further study how Jesus taught His disciples to pray, I suggest listening to the sermon series The Disciples' Prayer from John MacArthur)
    What is further described in the above quote of Young's is that these women, these "listeners" who influenced her, practiced automatic writing. What is automatic writing? Infinity Institute offers a definition from a New Age perspective:
    When we talk about automatic writing, we are talking about channeling. We are allowing information to come through our hand from the other side or from our own higher self. Although there may be no way to prove whether or not automatic writing is real, you will come to your own conclusions. At first it may be hard to understand how easy this process is, but being able to set your analytical side aside will help you to accept the wonderful tool that this can be in your life.
    With automatic writing you can access all the ideas, knowledge, and wisdom that is and ever will be known. It involves consciously shifting your mind and mental space in order to achieve an expanded state of consciousness that is called a trance. To achieve the Trance State to allow your guides in, you can use either a progressive relaxation or “trigger” technique. Triggers are very easy to develop. Remember that anything we do on a consistent basis becomes a habit. (Online Source)
    With the exception of places like Deuteronomy 18:10-14, where Scripture is condemning practices such as divination and contact with spirits, one cannot find any biblical basis for a "Christian" version of channeling - let alone allegedly channeling Jesus Himself! To suggest such a thing is an abomination and a lie. These "listeners" who wrote God Calling and who so heavily influenced Sarah Young were engaged in a practice of the occult. No doubt the Enemy has utilized a thin, "Christian" veneer over this deception in order to draw ungrounded believers into a dark, dangerous web of deception.

    So, why have I decided to revisit the topic of Jesus Calling? Because not too long ago, I was made aware of a new product lining the shelves of the "Christian" bookstores. That product is the Jesus Calling Devotional Bible. What an atrocity to think that the Word of God is resting alongside these  so-called personal messages from Jesus as penned by Sarah Young! How disgraceful to think that lies from the Great Deceiver are lining the same pages as the unfailing Word of God! A review as posted on Amazon reads as follows (emphasis mine):
    The devotional content will be the purchasing point for this Bible, and it is prevalent and poignant. Each devotional page insert features a portion of the text block, a written out prayer from an individual identified by a first name and a section of writing in the first person portraying God's voice selected from Sarah Young's writings. Some will read the content, and it will be like God speaking to them. Some will think, "that sounds just like Jesus." Some will think, "That sounds just like someone trying to sound like Jesus." Those with a critical mind but an open heart will make the most out of this devotional as they scrutinize and weigh the words in the balance of scripture and the witness of the Spirit, ready to receive and recognize the voice of the Lord. At its best, the devotional can lead someone into a dialogue with the Lord and with His Word, teaching them to recognize His voice. At its worst it could lead someone away from what the Lord is actually speaking to them. (Online Source)
    Some will think this is "like God speaking to them?" Only if they are reading the Scripture portions of this book! I can agree only with the last sentence of this paragraph, "At its worst it could lead someone away from what the Lord is actually speaking to them" and then I still must add to it, that these devotions will lead away from the true triune God and into a walk with a deceptive, lying, false "angel of light."

    It is my fear that, just as Jesus Calling was a runaway success, this newest "devotional Bible" will be resting in a brightly colored package under far too many Christmas trees of undiscerning Christians. If Scripture is not enough for you, then I suggest you take it up with God Himself. But do not allow yourself to be deceived into thinking that someone who once took an experiential nature walk is now hearing personally from the Lord Jesus Christ. If you desire true communion with God, engage in biblical prayer and then open His Word and read it, study it, and reflect upon it. God has not made Himself inaccessible. On the contrary, He has been gracious enough to grant us sufficient knowledge of Himself through His great Word, the Bible. How dare we shun such a great gift.
    For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds. (2 Corinthians 11:13-15)
    Jesus Calling
    Tim Challies Reviews "Jesus Calling"
    Jesus Calling: Um, Well, I Think He Did (from Apprising Ministries)
    What is Spiritual Formation (from Sola Sisters)

    17 October 2011

    Do Not Tolerate False Teaching

    Posted today at J.C. Ryle Quotes:
    If we would hold fast that which is good, we must never tolerate or support any doctrine which is not the pure doctrine of Christ’s Gospel. There is a hatred which is downright charity – that is the hatred of erroneous doctrine. There is an intolerance which is downright praiseworthy – that is the intolerance of false teaching in the pulpit. Who would ever think of tolerating a little poison given to them day by day? If men come among you who do not preach “all the counsel of God,” who do not preach of Christ, sin, holiness, of ruin, redemption, and regeneration, and do not preach of these things in a Scriptural way, you ought to cease to hear them.
    ~ J.C. Ryle
    Knots Untied, “Private Judgment” [Cambridge, England: James Clarke & Co., 1977], 44.

    14 October 2011

    This 'n' That

    ANNOUNCEMENT: Due to next week's impending rapture, the core team for Escalator Church has decided to postpone our first vision-casting meeting until after this momentous event. Once we know how many of us have survived, we will announce a new date. This past week, we have been deeply moved by the display of devotion that so many of you have already shown toward this endeavor. We are certain that we are building a move of God as we glide upward with this dream.

    Okay, okay, enough Escalator Church jokes. For now, anyway. It's Friday again, our God is on the throne, and regardless of whether you've had a joyous week or a stressful one, He is sovereign, almighty and good! Remember this above all. Oh, and here's your week in review (kind of):
    • Speaking of the rapture, Harold Camping says that it will finally happen or finish or something, on Friday, October 21. Well, maybe.
    • Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Seminary, says that Mormonism isn't exactly a cult, stating, "I do accept many of my Mormon friends as genuine followers of the Jesus whom I worship as the divine Savior." Yeah, let me know how that ends up working out. Send me a postcard from Kolob.
    • Listen to "Grateful for the Gospel," preached by Don Green: Part 1 and Part 2.
    • Because sometimes we all just need a good, classic laugh:

    13 October 2011

    Thursday's Spurgeon

    The following is excerpted from a sermon entitled, "Substitution," and was preached on July 19, 1857:
    Mourning Christian! dry up your tears. Are you weeping on account of sin? Why weepest thou? Weep because of thy sin, but weep not through any fear of punishment. Has the evil one told thee that thou shalt be condemned? Tell him to his face that he lies. Ah! poor distressed believer; art thou mourning over thine own corruptions? Look to thy perfect Lord, and remember, thou art complete in him, thou art in God's sight as perfect as if thou hadst never sinned; nay, more than that, the Lord our righteousness hath put a divine garment upon thee, so that thou hast more than the righteousness of man—thou hast the righteousness of God. Oh! thou that art mourning by reason of in-bred sin and depravity, remember, none of thy sins can condemn thee. Thou hast learned to hate sin; but thou hast learned to know that sin is not thine—it is put on Christ's head. Come, be of good cheer: thy standing is not in thyself—it is in Christ; thine acceptance is not in thyself, but in thy Lord; with all thy sin, thou art as much accepted to-day as in thy sanctification; thou art as much accepted of God to-day, with all thine iniquities, as thou wilt be when thou standest before his throne, rendered free from all corruption. Oh! I beseech thee, lay hold on this precious thought, perfection in Christ! For thou art perfect in Christ Jesus. With thy Saviour's garment on, thou art holy as the holy ones; thou art now justified by faith; thou hast now peace with God. Be of good cheer; do not fear to die; death has nothing terrible in it to thee; Christ hath extracted all the gall from the sting of death. Tremble not at judgment; judgment will not bring thee another acquital, to add to the acquital already given in thy cause.

    12 October 2011

    Following the Christ of Christianity

    A little formal church-going, and a decent attendance at a place of worship, can never be the Christianity of which Christ speaks. Where is our self-denial? Where is our daily carrying of the cross? Where is our following of Christ? Without a religion of this kind we shall never be saved. A crucified Savior will never be content to have a self-pleasing, self-indulging, worldly-minded people. No self-denial–no real grace! No cross–no crown! “Those who are Christ’s,” says Paul, “have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts” (Gal. 5:24).“Whoever will save his life,” says the Lord Jesus, “shall lose it; but whoever will lose his life for My sake shall save it.”

    ~ J.C. Ryle
    Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: Luke volume 1, [Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1986], 310. {Luke 9:23-27}
    HT: J.C. Ryle Quotes

    Job Posting for a "Campus Pastor"

    A well-known mega-church is looking for a campus pastor at one of their newest branches. The job description as it appears on the church website is below; only the church name has been removed.

    Campus Pastor

    • Do you have a passion and savvy for leading in a multi-site church context?
    • Do you have a strategic mind and a proven ability to lead and manage staff and volunteer teams toward the achievement of challenging Kingdom-building ministry goals?
    • Do you get energized by serving in a multigenerational context and implementing spiritual formation pathways from young families to seniors?
    • Do you exhibit a compelling "platform" presence and enjoy occasional teaching opportunities?
    • [This] is a multi-site church as "one church in multiple locations." The Campus Pastor is a full time role and responsible for courageously leading and diligently developing the [campus] church staff, key volunteers, and congregation.
    • This person will architect and execute strategic plans for this new campus, host weekend services, oversee and coach ministry directors, conduct performance reviews, cross-pollinate with the leaders of [the] other campuses, collaborate with other local church leaders, and champion [the church's] values and mission in this community's unique multigenerational context in an effort to grow this new campus by reaching the unchurched in the community and helping them become fully-devoted followers of Christ.
    Now, let's look at the biblical qualifications for a pastor/elder:
    The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.
    (1 Timothy 3:1-7)
    [I]f anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
    (Titus 1:6-9)
    Is it just me, or are those not the same? At all. Yet these days, charisma and stage presence trump biblical fidelity. Are you weeping over the condition of today's "church?" Based upon the evidence above, you should be.