31 March 2013

Resurrection Sunday Morning Praise

But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. (Matt. 28:5–6a)
Christ the Lord Is Risen Today

Crown Him with Many Crowns

29 March 2013

This 'n' That

photo credit: abcdz2000 via photopin cc
Looking at many seeker-driven churches, one would scarcely know that today is Good Friday. After all, why focus on sin and the sacrificial death of the Savior when you can be preparing to shoot confetti out of a cannon for Easter? It seems that Good Friday services quickly are becoming a thing of the past, as the megachurches instead try to squeeze in 65 Easter services, beginning Thursday night and not finishing until Sunday. The cross is diminished, and the celebration of Christ's resurrection is downgraded to something akin to a child's lavish birthday party, with balloons, Easter eggs, confetti and poorly acted dramas.

To be sure, Jesus is alive, and thus Good Friday, while somber, nevertheless fills the Christian with gratitude. After a night of agonizing prayer, an arrest and a joke of a trial, our precious Lord bore a cross to Calvary and stretched out His arms, willingly allowing the nails to be driven through His perfect flesh. At any moment, He could have put a stop to the proceedings, but in perfect obedience to His Father, our Savior voluntarily and without reluctance fulfilled God's own prophecies as He became the unblemished, atoning sacrifice for the sins of those who would believe. Bearing the wrath of God, the punishment for the sins of men, the perfect God-man would fully and completely accomplish His work. The veil was rent, it was finished. And though on that day, His followers still did not understand that He would be raised, today we can look ahead to that glorious resurrection. In doing so, however, let us not overlook the suffering, sacrifice and crucifixion of Christ, the Lamb of God slain for sinners.

Ponder that truth, even before you peruse the remainder of this post. Then come back and enjoy your week in review (kind of):

28 March 2013

2013 Church Easter 'Egg Drop' Extravaganzas

No one knows when the very first church Easter "Egg Drop" took place, but there is little argument that Steven Furtick and Elevation Church made it famous. Elevation's first Easter—and first Egg Drop—was in 2006, when over 2,000 people showed up for the event. Steven Furtick's wife, Holly, remembers it as one of her favorite moments in the life of their now-megachurch:
We had launched in February and this would be our first Easter. I think we only had about 200 people coming at the time. The Egg Drop was to be the Saturday before Easter. We planned to drop thousands of eggs out of a helicopter. We only needed two things, good weather and people. I remember Steven, Elijah and I flew to Florida to do a youth event the week before. We arrived back in Charlotte the day before the event. We were greeted by Larry Brey at the airport, he broke the news… our mailer didn't make it out in time because of some post office error. We were so bummed. That night my husband and several volunteers hit some parking lots with flyers. We had no idea what to expect the next day.

God came through (it was one of the first of many special times to come), the event was a huge success. We had over 2,000 people attend. If the mailer had gone out, the event would have been a disaster. The weather was perfect and there are many families who attend Elevation today because of the Egg Drop.
Every year since, it seems that more and more megachurches—or 'wannabe' megachurches—are utilizing the Egg Drop gimmick. Though the atoning death and resurrection of Christ ought to be grand and miraculous enough to attract those to a church who are being drawn to Christ (John 6:44), the megachurch mindset instead insists on pragmatic, worldly, contrived publicity stunts.

In the past, this blog has examined some of the most ridiculous and extravagant megachurch Easter exploits. For a change and a twist, we thought it might be interesting this year to look at some lesser-known or aspiring megachurches, and their obvious endeavors to follow in the footsteps of Furtick with their very own Egg Drop Extravaganzas.

The Sovereignty of God Is the Most Comforting Doctrine

The sovereignty of God is the most encouraging and comforting doctrine in all of Scripture. An understanding of it removes the anxiety from life. It also gives the man of God courage in spiritual duty and willingness to face any danger. God is never surprised, nor is His will ever frustrated. He says in Isaiah 46:11, "Truly I have spoken, truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it." Because He is in total control, there is no need to worry, to compromise, to equivocate, or to manipulate to achieve a goal.

The man of God knows that the success of his ministry does not depend on his ingenuity, wisdom, or talent. He is relieved of the intolerable burden of imagining that people's eternal destiny rests on the persuasiveness of his preaching or the cleverness of his invitation. He understands that no one comes to faith in Christ apart from God's gracious, sovereign choice. And he, too, is operating under the constant surveillance of and within the plan of the God who is in perfect control of everything. That frees him to focus on faithfully expounding the Word and fulfilling his calling with contentment.

– John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: 1 Timothy, (Moody Publishers: 1995), 276.

Further Reading
To Those Who Would Undermine the Headship of Christ: Fall on Your Faces
Affirming Sola Scriptura
Film Adaptation of 'Heaven Is for Real' Being Planned; T.D. Jakes to Produce

26 March 2013

Affirming Sola Scriptura

The authority of God's Word has been under attack since the beginning of time (Gen. 3:1). While it is devastating to see the world, in its hatred and distaste for Christ and His Word, denigrate the Scriptures, it is perhaps more infuriating when such attacks come from those who profess some sort of faith in Christ.

Such attacks may come from seeker-driven pastors who elevate themselves and cultural relevance above God's truth, from liberal pastors who insist that the Bible does not actually mean what it says, or from a massive institution such as the Roman Catholic Church teaching that the words and traditions of men must also hold authority on par with or above that of Scripture. Whatever the assault, God's Word, which contains all truth necessary for spiritual life and matters, must be defended and upheld by those who claim the name of Christ.

24 March 2013

Sunday Morning Praise

Rejoice, the Lord Is King

A House on Fire Needs Immediate Attention

Get and keep a tender conscience. Be sensible of the least sin. Some men's consciences are like the stomach of the ostrich that can digest iron: they can swallow the most notorious sins without regret. A good conscience is very delicate. It feels the least touch of known sin, and is grieved at the thought of grieving God's Spirit. It will choose the greatest of suffering before the least of sinning.

However, the jeering Ishmaels of the world are ready to reproach and laugh it to scorn for its precise scruples. Daily train all your graces for battle. Live in a military posture, both defensive and offensive. Stand constantly by your weapons. Admit no peace with sin. The soldier of Christ must never lay down his arms. Satan never ceases his wiles and stratagems. He will tell you that sin is pleasant. Ask yourself if the gripping of conscience is also pleasant? Ask yourself if it is pleasant to be in hell, and be under the wrath of God? Ask yourself if the pleasures of sin for a season compare with the rivers of God's pleasures? How do they compare to a weight of glory, an incorruptible crown, and a heavenly kingdom?

God alone is enough, but without him, nothing is enough for your happiness. His love, grace, and the comforts of his Spirit will certainly sweeten your way to heaven. Sometimes you will experience joy unutterable and full of glory. God is a good master and in his service is a perfect freedom. Your work is its own reward. With these thoughts, put to flight the armies of the enemy. Shield yourself with these against the fiery darts the tempter shall pour upon you. Do not even take a moment to parley with the tempter. As soon as your lusts begin to grow inordinate, do not stay a moment; delay is unutterably dangerous. A house on fire needs immediate attention.

— John Gibbon, as quoted in Voices from the Past, ed. Richard Rushing, (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2009).

Further Reading
Conversion: Its Source, Sign and Security
To Those Who Would Undermine the Headship of Christ: Fall on Your Faces
Jesus Christ Is Coming Soon

22 March 2013

This 'n' That

One might think that a man's dinner menu isn't exactly newsworthy. That is, unless you're the pope. Apparently if you wear a big, sparkly hat and allow millions of people to call you Holy Father, then what you put into your mouth is worthy of a news write-up by Religion News Service:
Baked skinless chicken, salad, fruit and a glass of simple wine hardly seems like food fit for a king. But it does seem to be a meal fit for a pope.

Pope Francis is becoming well known for his simple tastes: As Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, he carried his own bags when traveling, preferred public transportation to chauffeur-driven limousines, and, the stories go, cooks meals for himself.

His humble lifestyle extends to the kitchen, a stark contrast with his predecessor, Benedict XVI, who before becoming pope relished feasting on fettuccine with shrimp, zucchini and saffron.
photo credit: amanky via photopin cc
Look, we get it. We're supposed to revere Pope Francis not just because he's miraculously been granted powers of infallibility, but because he's 'humble.' Never mind the fact that the very office of pope is an ostentatious one. Let's face it, humble popes don't exist.

And if we're going to judge a man's humility by his menu, well, then us bloggers ought to be some of the most humble men and women of them all. Sure, Pope Francis used to live in a little apartment, take the bus, and eats skinless chicken and salad. But us bloggers live in our mother's basements, spend our days in a beanbag chair, and maintain a steady diet of Cheetos and Mountain Dew. I mean, if we want to have a humility contest, who do you really think is going to win? The guy in the robes with a massive silver cross around his neck, or the sweatpants-wearing blogger?

Well, it's about time for me to go prepare a humble lunch, so while I do that, please go ahead and enjoy your week in review (kind of):
  • The Cripplegate has had a few really good articles about Roman Catholicism, the papacy, etc. In this one, Steve Meister talks about alleviating the protestant inferiority complex. He also rightly observes, "Since the Pope misrepresents the evangel, the gospel, I fail to grasp how he could ever excite evangelicals."
  • I've heard a lot of Christians praising the television show Duck Dynasty. I've never watched it myself, but those who do may want to examine just what kind of a gospel the Duck Dynasty family proclaims.
  • The Mormons have once again changed their scriptures, specifically updating references to blacks and to polygamy. Kinda makes you extra thankful to know that the true and living Word of God never changes, doesn't it?
  • I've always said 'Earth Hour' — those 60 minutes every year where everyone is supposed to sit in the dark and not use any electricity — was utterly ridiculous. (In fact, I usually celebrate by turning on as many lights and electrical appliances as possible). Turns out it's not just ridiculous, it's downright backwards.
  • Only Carl Trueman could write a blog post entitled, "The Yuck Factor" and still have it be taken seriously (as it should be).
  • Former 'pastor' Jack Schaap has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for his relationship with a minor.
  • The University of Tennessee has withdrawn some of the funds from its upcoming 'Sex Week' event. Organizers only have a few days to find over $11,000. Good, I hope it gets canceled.
  • Back to 'The Bible' miniseries: there's a little—no, a hugesomething missing in the scene of the Last Supper.
  • Never make a Gospel appeal to people's emotions:

21 March 2013

Film Adaptation of 'Heaven Is for Real' Being Planned; T.D. Jakes to Produce

Heaven Is for Real, the story of four-year-old Colton Burpo, who allegedly traveled to Heaven and back, has mesmerized professing Christians since its publication in 2010. In two years it has sold 8 million copies and been translated into 30 different languages. Those who could not find satisfaction in what God's Word shares about the life to come flocked to the young boy's story in spite of the fact that Burpo's claims about Heaven flatly contradicted the biblical text. The popularity of the book was an overt demonstration of how many Christians today allow experience to trump objective, biblical truth.

Like every good story, whether fiction or nonfiction, Heaven Is for Real now is slated to be made into a movie. The Christian Retailing website notes that not only is Greg Kinnear in negotiations to play the role of Colton Burpo's father, Todd, but that the film will be co-produced by Joe Roth (Oz the Great and Powerful) and famed prosperity preacher T.D. Jakes.

Rob Bell on Affirming People in Their Sin and Supporting Gay 'Marriage'

In an interview appearing at Odyssey Networks, Rob Bell offers further explanation for his support of gay 'marriage.' As was previously reported, Bell came out this past weekend in support of marriage equality while speaking at San Francisco's Grace Cathedral, saying,
I am for marriage. I am for fidelity. I am for love, whether it's a man and woman, a woman and a woman, a man and a man. I think the ship has sailed and I think the church needs -- I think this is the world we are living in and we need to affirm people wherever they are. (Source)
In this latest interview with Odyssey, Bell states that God is "inviting us to see things in new ways."

19 March 2013

Rob Bell: Against Hell, For Gay 'Marriage'

Few will be surprised to learn that Rob Bell, controversial author and former pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church, came out this past weekend in support of gay 'marriage.'

Speaking this past Sunday at San Francisco's Grace Cathedral, Bell responded to a question regarding same-sex marriage and in his answer, Bell affirmed and "openly endorsed marriage equality." The Huffington Post shares Bell's response:
I am for marriage. I am for fidelity. I am for love, whether it's a man and woman, a woman and a woman, a man and a man. I think the ship has sailed and I think the church needs -- I think this is the world we are living in and we need to affirm people wherever they are. (Source)
Bell went on to declare that members of the 'narrow' evangelical subculture need to 'adapt' to the new ways of viewing God and the world. He further stated that those who "have supported policies and ways of viewing the world that are actually destructive. . . need to repent" for doing so in the name of God.

Though Huffington Post writer Greg Carey stated, "To my knowledge, Bell's interview marks the first time that he has openly supported marriage equality," many Christians are unsurprised by this latest report about Bell. Speaking at a Los Angeles event in July 2012, Bell was asked his thoughts about homosexuality. His reply was unquestionably gay-affirming:
Thank you for asking that. We’re here in West Hollywood, epicenter of a lot of gay culture and you’re asking—some people are gay (pause) and you’re our brothers and you’re our sisters, and we love you.

We love you. (audience applauds) And it’s really, really, really, important that we’re clear. I had a good friend—when I was in my teens—who was gay. And hadn’t told anybody. An’ I was the first person he told.

And (pause) probably the most loving, generous, holy—one of the most—he was extraordinary, is extraordinary. But at an early age I was like, some people are gay; an’ God loves them just like God loves me.

And they’re passionate disciples of Jesus, just like I’m trying to be. So, let’s all get together and try to do something about the truly big problems in our world; that I believe Jesus would us to band together, and tackle together.

So there you go.

In its report on Rob Bell's latest comments, Christian News Network shared the following:
However, not all are enthusiastic about Bell’s teachings or that fact that such books are so prevalent and popular in Christendom.

“The best-selling books in Christianity today are almost categorically across the board emergent books,” lamented Pastor Eric Ludy in his sermon The Evil Side of Artistic. “Entire tables will be set up in Barnes and Noble entitled ‘The New Christian,’ and they’re all this [type of emergent] thinking. So, I’m not talking about a little side project … This is the thinking that is permeating the Church of Jesus Christ.”

“What has happened to our Gospel?” he asked with concern in his voice. “You do not tamper with the truth, otherwise you are tampering with the Son of God who gave up His life. This was precious blood that was spent. Precious! And we [need] give up our blood to protect this message.”
Rob Bell is known for questioning, redefining and challenging the beliefs of orthodox Christianity. His book, Love Wins, caused a stir by redefining Hell, and his newest book, What We Talk About When We Talk About God, is said to "tackle misconceptions about God." The only thing shocking about this latest news, then, is that anybody is shocked by it in the first place.

*A version of this article originally appeared here at Christian Research Network.

Further Reading
Rob Bell Releases New Trailer for Upcoming Book, Compares God to Oldsmobile
Rob Bell's New Book "Tackles Misconceptions About God"
A Conversation with Rob Bell

Chuck Swindoll to Host Concert Featuring Reported Oneness Pentecostal Group Phillips, Craig and Dean

*A version of this article originally appeared here at Christian Research Network.

The controversy surrounding the Elephant Room 2 conference did offer at least one positive outcome: with all of the talk of Modalism, the biblical doctrine of the Trinity once again was propelled into the spotlight. Christians were reminded that they must be able to give an answer for what they believe, and many came to a better understanding of how clearly the doctrine of the Trinity is taught in Scripture.

Many may be surprised and even disappointed, then, to discover that Chuck Swindoll, pastor of Stonebriar Community Church in Texas, plans to host a concert featuring the musical group Phillips, Craig and Dean (PCD) on 5 April 2013. This is puzzling because Swindoll has long been respected by some evangelical Christians as a man who is, as Dan Phillips of Pyromaniacs states, "sound and stable on the fundamentals," yet the members of PCD purportedly adhere to Oneness theology.

Concerns regarding PCD and their Oneness Pentecostal beliefs are not new, yet they remain largely unanswered and unaddressed. It seems unwise at best, then, for someone such as Swindoll to elevate and promote this group by inviting them to lead worship at his church. Will evangelical leaders ignore this trio of singing elephants in the middle of the room?

Writing at Pyromaniacs, Dan Phillips, pastor of Copperfield Bible Church in Houston, Texas, wonders, "What possible excuse or explanation can there be for Chuck Swindoll to promote anyone who isn't crystal-clear on the Biblical doctrine of the Trinity?" View Article 

Further Reading
Turned Away at the Door of the Elephant Room
The Elephant Room Continues to Stomp on Its Critics
Cleaning Up After the Elephants? MacDonald Takes to the Airwaves

18 March 2013

To Those Who Would Undermine the Headship of Christ: Fall on Your Faces

Addressing the media on Saturday, 16 March, the newly elected Pope Francis I was heard reminding Roman Catholics that "Jesus, not the pope, is at the center of the Church."

It will not be surprising if those professing Christians who seek to unite Christianity and Roman Catholicism in ecumenical bliss use this statement to bolster their endeavors. Already, pastor Rick Warren called on his many social media followers to fast and pray for the cardinals as they gathered to elect a 'new leader':
John Mark Comer, pastor of Solid Rock Church in Portland, Oregon, would go so far as to state that he was praying for his Roman Catholic 'brothers and sisters' in the midst of the papal vote:
Following the announcement of Bergoglio's election, Rick Warren would tweet his congratulations:
For those who are unaware, 'Habemus Papam' is the Latin announcement, 'We have a pope!' Oddly, it was a phrase that self-proclaimed evangelical Christian Rick Warren felt comfortable using, a gesture that ought to be quite enlightening to anyone who may still be wondering just how deep Warren's affinity runs for ecumenism and compromise.

Now the new pontiff is on record as saying that Jesus is the center of the church and not the pope, and one cannot help but think that this quote might end up being used ad nauseam by compromising Christians to defend Pope Francis I and the aberrant, heretical gospel of the Roman Catholic Church. If the pope truly believed that Christ should be the focus of his church, however, then his first act as pope should have been to abolish the office of pope.

What is curious, then, is that Francis I has stated that Jesus is at the center of the church. Yet, Jesus Christ is far more than merely the center of the church, He is the head of the Church. That is, He is head of the true Church, those chosen before the foundation of the world who have been saved by grace and granted repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. These comprise the true Bride of Christ. Jesus Christ alone has authority over the Church. He is not merely the center or the focus of the redeemed, He is their King, their Lord and their Master.
And he [Christ] is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. (Col. 1:18)
For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. (Eph. 5:23–24)
In fact, Jesus Christ is far more than just the Head of the Church, He is the Head of all things:
having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. (Eph. 1:18–23)
The Roman Catholic Church denies this biblical truth and instead elevates a mere man to the position of head of the church. From Vatican I:
So, then, if anyone says that the Roman Pontiff has merely an office of supervision and guidance, and not the full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the whole Church, and this not only in matters of faith and morals, but also in those which concern the discipline and government of the Church dispersed throughout the whole world; or that he has only the principal part, but not the absolute fullness, of this supreme power; or that this power of his is not ordinary and immediate both over all and each of the Churches and over all and each of the pastors and faithful: let him be anathema. (Vatican I, Session 4, Ch. 3)
Vatican II further affirms this:
The pope's power of primacy over all, both pastors and faithful, remains whole and intact. In virtue of his office, that is as Vicar of Christ and pastor of the whole Church, the Roman Pontiff has full, supreme and universal power over the Church. And he is always free to exercise this power. (Vatican II, LG 22)
Thus, no matter what pleasing words may be spoken by Pope Francis I, no matter how friendly his themes may sound to weak-willed Christians, the truth is that his very willingness to bear the title and office of 'Vicar of Christ', to dare to allow himself to be revered as the head of the church, means that he is walking contrary to Scripture, and in rebellion to the Lord Jesus Christ. Such a man, unless he repents and turns to Christ, will one day face unspeakable judgment.

The true Church can have only one Head, and that is Jesus Christ. May those who seek to usurp that headship fall on their faces before Him:

*Excerpted from John MacArthur's sermon, 'Undermining the Headship of Christ.'

Further Reading
Usurping Christ's Headship
On Praying for the Papal Vote with Rick Warren
Roman Catholic Roma Downey, Producer of 'The Bible' Miniseries, Says Francis I Will Be a 'Pope of Hope'

17 March 2013

Sunday Morning Praise

'Tis Not That I Did Choose Thee

’Tis not that I did choose Thee,
For Lord, that could not be;
This heart would still refuse Thee,
Hadst Thou not chosen me.
Thou from the sin that stained me
Hast cleansed and set me free;
Of old Thou hast ordained me,
That I should live to Thee.

’Twas sov’reign mercy called me
And taught my op’ning mind;
The world had else enthralled me,
To heav’nly glories blind.
My heart owns none before Thee,
For Thy rich grace I thirst;
This knowing, if I love Thee,
Thou must have loved me first.

- Josiah Conder

Roman Catholic Roma Downey, Producer of 'The Bible' Miniseries, Says Francis I Will Be a 'Pope of Hope'

*This article originally appeared here at Christian Research Network. 

In spite of its gross theological and historical inaccuracies, The History Channel's miniseries, 'The Bible,' has become quite a sensation among professing Christians. Evangelical leaders can be seen and heard promoting the production across nearly every social media platform. Men such as Joel Osteen, Rick Warren and T.D. Jakes, all of whom also served on the Board of Advisors for 'The Bible,' are perhaps offering some of the loudest praise. To the dismay of many, the show also earned the endorsement of well-known creation ministries. This likely was because it accurately depicted a literal Adam and Eve and a global flood, though accuracy in these two points ought not cause one to overlook the vast number of other errors.

Few seem willing to retract their endorsement of 'The Bible' even after being confronted with its numerous errors. Evangelist Ray Comfort broke this pattern, however, when he retracted his own endorsement of the series upon learning of its many theological inaccuracies. Said Comfort on his Facebook page:
It’s been brought to my attention, by a reliable source who conducted thorough research, that there are a number of unbiblical and very questionable things in “The Bible” television series–about the deity of Christ, the character of God, and the reality of sin (among other things). In light of this recent revelation, I cannot endorse this series. If you choose to watch it, I would urge you to do so with a discerning heart, testing all things. (Source)
Yet, as noted, Comfort appears to be in the minority with his humble willingness to withdraw any praise or endorsement of 'The Bible' miniseries. Further, in the midst of the drama and special effects, it seems that another fact has been overlooked or ignored by many evangelicals who are promoting this program, and that is that executive producer Roma Downey proclaims herself to be a devout Roman Catholic.

15 March 2013

This 'n' That

Okay, I admit it, I'm a little disappointed today. I've not told many people, but a little part of me really was hoping that maybe, just maybe, I'd be selected as the new pope. I know, I know, I can hear what you're thinking:
"But, EBenz, you're a girl!"
"And, um, EBenz, you're not Roman Catholic!"
Nice hat.
Minor details. After all, if some of these men and women can parade around a stage calling themselves evangelical Christian pastors when they are so clearly unqualified, why shouldn't a simple blogger be able to be pope? Besides, I really like the hats. And just think how such a development would have totally messed up those people who are talking about the 'Malachy Prophecy.'

Yes, it would have been fun. But alas, it was not meant to be. Too bad, too, because my first two actions as pope would be to call for a new reformation and to abolish the office of pope. So, in the end, I guess I wouldn't even be able to wear those hats for very long, would I? Oh well, there's always Halloween.

I'd love to offer you a break from the papal mania that has overtaken everything this week, but because of the madness, many (but not all) of this week's articles are papacy-related. Nevertheless, I invite you to sit back and enjoy your week in review (kind of):
  • This week, John MacArthur has been sharing some of the marks of an excellent shepherd. Here's an important one: integrity.
  • If there ever is going to be any semblance of a new reformation, we need to regain a high view of Scripture, a high view of God and a high view of the pulpit. So says Steve Lawson.
  • Speaking of Steve Lawson, check out the website for his ministry, One Passion.
  • Kevin DeYoung has written a great article about true revival.
  • You can't really avoid using or perusing some form of social media these days. So how can we do this to the glory of God? Jeremy Walker has been writing a helpful series on the topic at Reformation 21. Start here.
  • So, Google is shutting down Google Reader. In the midst of my mourning, I'm trying to remember how much I've been annoyed by Reader since its last update. But it's still a tough pill to swallow, and now I only have until July to find an alternative RSS feed service.
  • A performing arts school in Massachusetts will be moving forward with their presentation of "The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told," a so-called "gay-friendly biblical spoof."
  • Looks like there may be one atheist who is starting to get it: "I must believe in God because I can't be angry at what I don't believe."
  • Whew. This article about battling sinful sarcasm really must have struck a chord with some people. Thank goodness I'm never sarcastic. (Yes, you caught me. I was being sarcastic).
  • If you have enough time to play 'The Bible' game on Facebook, then you may want to consider using that time to instead read the actual Bible. Just a thought.
  • Pastor Don Green asks, "Will you be confident at God's Judgment?"

14 March 2013

The Personal Promise Bible Makes God's Word All About You

There are some things, some ideas, that one simply prays are satire. There are those creations of men that cause the Christian who loves God's Word to cry out, "Please, let this be a joke!" The Personal Promise Bible is one of those things.

Personal Promise Bible from Watrous Media on Vimeo.

Sadly, though, this is not satire; this is not a joke. There are those seeker-driven pastors who have a frightening tendency to narcigete the biblical text. That is, they consistently misinterpret the text, reading themselves and their audience into a passage that is not about them. Now they finally have a Bible that does the hard work for them.
The endorsements of this product should not surprise, as names such as Brian Houston of Hillsong Church and influential figure of the New Apostolic Reformation, Dutch Sheets, are found at the top of the list.

True Christians who have been saved by God's grace, however, know that the Bible is not about them. The Bible is about God, His work in human history and, most importantly, it is about Jesus Christ. From Genesis to Revelation, our Lord and Savior is present as God shares with His children the story of redemption.

News of the Personal Promise Bible quickly brought to mind a rather appropriate sermon that was preached a little over a year ago by Matt Chandler at, ironically, Steven Furtick's Code Orange Revival. Though there are reasons to be discerning of Chandler's ministry, the irony cannot be ignored that this message was preached at an event that quite possibly boasted the greatest lineup of 'narcigetes' ever.

The Bible is not about you. Stop making it about you. And if you have to insert your name into the biblical text before you can find Bible study edifying, then you best step back and examine yourself to determine whether you truly are in the faith (2 Cor. 13:5).

The Bible is about Jesus. If that's not good enough for you, if that doesn't delight and rejoice you, if that doesn't stir you to read the Word in order to learn more about Him, then stop calling yourself a Christian.

HT: Stand Up for the Truth

Further Reading
Discernment and Revelation
John Calvin on the Spirit and the Word
The Christian and Non-Christian Contrasted

NoCo90: AntiChrists, Rick Warren and the Pope

If you have an idea or suggestion for an episode of NoCo90, contact No Compromise Radio on their Facebook page or via email at: info [@] nocompromiseradio.com.

Further Reading
On Praying for the Papal Vote with Rick Warren
NoCo90: Last Call for Altar Calls
NoCo90: No Arminians in Heaven

13 March 2013

Jesus Christ Is Coming Soon

To rapture or not to rapture? Premillennial, postmillennial or amillennial? While the spectrum of Christian eschatology is wide and varying depending upon one's beliefs and traditions, one truth ought to unite all believers in spite of their eschatological timeline. What is that truth? That the Lord Jesus Christ will return and that He will return soon.

Christians know this to be true because the Lord declared it to be so in His Word:
And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book. (Rev. 22:7)
The return of Jesus Christ is the Christian's blessed hope. It is an event that the believer ought to anticipate with great joy and eagerness. The reality of the imminence of the Lord's Second Coming ought to compel the Christian to live a life of holiness that is worthy of the gospel which saved him—a life that glorifies God.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11–14)
And while no man may know the day or the hour of Christ's appearing (Mark 13:32), the Christian nevertheless may rest in Christ's promise that He will return for His own.
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 14:2–3)
How sad it can be, then, to hear some professing Christians declare that they do not wish for Christ to return soon. Whether they respond with the tired mantra that one ought not "be too heavenly minded to be any earthly good," or whether they fear that they may miss the marriage of their children, the birth of their grandchildren or whether they dread the judgment of their loved ones, it is a sorrowful thing to find a Christian who does not light up with joy at the prospect of seeing his Savior face to face.

Baylor University professor Greg Garrett is one who feels that Christians ought to stop talking about Christ's return. While the Harold Campings of the world no doubt would best serve mankind by remaining silent and refraining from date-setting, the true Christian must insist upon warning others that Christ is coming soon. Garrett appears to disagree, writing in a post entitled, "Jesus Is Not Coming Soon,"
But mostly I want us all to stop talking about Heaven and Hell, about who's going to be in either one, about the Rapture of the Saints, about whether Jesus will return with a sword or on a unicorn. . . .

If we believe Jesus is going to make a special trip to strap jetpacks on us, we aren't forced to care about our brothers and sisters (the heathen who are staying behind to be destroyed anyway), about the creation we've been given, about any of the tasks God assigns us through the prophets and through Jesus himself. . . .

Until Jesus comes again in glory, whatever that means, whenever that happens, we are supposed to be about our Father's business.

Yes, let Christians be about their Father's business, but let them be busy with these matters precisely because Jesus Christ is coming soon.

What is that business about which the Christian should be concerned? The Westminster Shorter Catechism says that the chief end of man is "to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." Is there any greater way to glorify God on this earth than to proclaim repentance and forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ (Luke 24:47)? No deed of man can bring more glory to God than to declare Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor. 2:2). When one remembers that Christ is coming again soon, and returning this time in judgment, then that business, that message, becomes even more urgent.
Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. (Rev. 22:12–13)
Whether 'soon' means that Christ will appear next week, next year or next century ultimately is immaterial. Man cannot be promised that tomorrow will arrive, and so today is the day of salvation. When the unregenerate are confronted with their own sin and unworthiness before a holy God, when they are made to realize that one day they must stand before His throne and face judgment, then they are prepared to understand why it is they need a Savior. It might just be that the truth of the Lord's impending return will cause the sinner to bow the knee in repentance and faith now so that he might enjoy God forever.

Jesus is coming soon, and the Christian ought not be ashamed to declare it. Let this truth motivate believers to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ without hesitation before all men. Jesus did not hesitate to declare it throughout His earthly ministry, and He further proclaimed it three times in the final chapter of His Word. Why, then, would the Christian seek to bury such a promise?

photo credit: Paco CT via photopin cc

Further Reading
John MacArthur on the New Birth
Lydia's Conversion and God's Irresistible Grace
The Bible: the Book, the Miniseries and the Sins of Sodom

12 March 2013

On Praying for the Papal Vote with Rick Warren

News reports indicate that this first day of the papal conclave concluded with a plume of black smoke billowing from the Vatican. This signals that the 115 cardinals in attendance had not yet been successful in selecting Pope Benedict XVI's successor. The Roman Catholic Church is still without a leader.
Photo: Wikimedia

The pope is adored by Roman Catholics as the Head of the Catholic Church, supposedly following in the footsteps of the Apostle Peter. This doctrine is drawn from a misinterpretation of texts such as Matthew 16:17–19 and John 21:15–17.

Of the office of pope, the Catholic Encyclopedia states:
The position of St. Peter after the Ascension, as shown in the Acts of the Apostles, realizes to the full the great commission bestowed upon him. He is from the first the chief of the Apostolic band — not primus inter pares, but the undisputed head of the Church.

If then Christ, as we have seen, established His Church as a society subordinated to a single supreme head, it follows from the very nature of the case that this office is perpetual, and cannot have been a mere transitory feature of ecclesiastical life. For the Church must endure to the end the very same organization which Christ established. But in an organized society it is precisely the constitution which is the essential feature. A change in constitution transforms it into a society of a different kind. If then the Church should adopt a constitution other than Christ gave it, it would no longer be His handiwork. It would no longer be the Divine kingdom established by Him. As a society it would have passed through essential modifications, and thereby would have become a human, not a Divine institution. None who believe that Christ came on earth to found a Church, an organized society destined to endure for ever, can admit the possibility of a change in the organization given to it by its Founder.
It is most interesting that the Roman Catholic Church states that, "If then the Church should adopt a constitution other than Christ gave it, it would no longer be His handiwork." Indeed. What, then, is the organizational chart of the true Church, the genuine Body of Christ?
And he [Christ] is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. (Col. 1:18)
For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. (Eph. 5:23–24)
Dr. John MacArthur recently wrote a series of articles on his blog exposing the heresies of the Roman Catholic Church. In addressing the office of pope, MacArthur appealed to one of the earliest Reformers, Jan Hus. Preceding Martin Luther by a century, Hus wrote in his book, De Ecclesia (The Church):
"Neither is the pope the head nor are the cardinals the whole body of the holy, universal, catholic [i.e., true] church. For Christ alone is the head of that church.” Pointing out that most church leaders in his era actually despised the lordship of Christ, Hus said, “To such a low pitch is the clergy come that they hate those who preach often and call Jesus Christ Lord." (Source)
MacArthur elaborates with his thoughts, stating:
As the head of the Roman Catholic Church, the pope is often called the “Holy Father” and the “Vicar of Christ”—names and roles that only apply to God. He claims the ability to speak ex cathedra, exercising Godlike infallibility to add to and augment Scripture (Revelation 22:18). He wields unbiblical, unholy authority over his followers, usurping the headship of Christ and perverting the work of the Holy Spirit. (Source)
Such realities make it difficult for the Christian to deny that the office of Pope is one that should be denounced and condemned by true believers, not one to be celebrated. How, then, ought the Christian respond to the following tweet posted early this morning by purpose-driven pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church?
If the 115 Roman Catholic cardinals truly are seeking the will of God as they meet together this week, then perhaps God, in His grace, will bring them to a full realization of the true Head of the Church, Jesus Christ. Perhaps God, in His great mercy, will bring them, or some of them, to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ alone for their salvation. One can only hope with great optimism that this is the type of prayer Rick Warren would like for Christians to be praying. Of course, with his history of "building bridges" between faiths, the realistic Christian suspects that the true meaning of Warren's tweet is not so cleverly concealed.

What a blessing it is to know that the true Body of Christ is never without its leader! Jesus Christ is the only Head that the true Church ever has had or ever will have. No mere man could surpass Him in power, greatness or glory and woe to the man who tries.
Of all the dreams that ever deluded men, and probably of all blasphemies that ever were uttered, there has never been one which is more absurd and which is more fruitful for all manner of mischief, than the idea that the Bishop of Rome can be the head of the church of Jesus Christ. No, these popes die, and how could the church live if its head were dead? The true Head ever lives, and the church ever lives in Him.

– Charles Spurgeon, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Volume 14, p. 621.
Christ did not redeem his church with his blood that the pope might come in and steal away the glory. He never came from heaven to earth, and poured out his very heart that he might purchase his people, that a poor sinner, a mere man, should be set upon high to be admired by all the nations, and to call himself God's representative on earth. Christ has always been the Head of the church.

– Charles Spurgeon, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Volume 60, p. 592.
Further Reading
Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church (Dr. John MacArthur)
The Resurgence Reminds Us of the Piper-Warren Embrace
The Christian and Non-Christian Contrasted

11 March 2013

Discernment and Revelation

Dr. Gary E. Gilley, pastor of Southern View Chapel, IL, believes that, "Despite the fact that the majority of conservative evangelical Christians since the Reformation have held to a cessationist position with regard to Divine revelation, true cessationists are rapidly disappearing."
Photo: SVC

It is not uncommon to hear popular personalities within evangelicalism today claim that God has "spoken" to them via impressions, hunches, feelings, whispers or other extra-biblical means. Yet, what authority do these alleged revelations hold? Examining the issue, Gilley writes:
Since almost no one within Christianity (save the cults) is claiming revelation that is equivalent to the Bible, we are left with a dilemma. Is it possible for God to speak in a non-authoritative way? Is it possible for Him to speak something less than His inspired word? The continuationists seem to have invented a novel type of divine revelation; one that contradicts Scripture and defies reason. In the Bible, and logically, either God is speaking or He is not.
Gilley's article is a worthwhile and helpful read for the Christian seeking to better understand this issue. View article →

Further Reading
NoCo90: God Told Me...
Charles Stanley Advises Christians to 'Simply Listen for God's Voice'
John Calvin on the Spirit and the Word

08 March 2013

This 'n' That

The Shepherd's Conference is well under way. In fact, it's almost over! I've been trying to watch as much of the live stream as possible. As expected, the keynote speakers have opened the Word of God and faithfully and marvelously preached that Word. Not to be ignored, however, are some of the breakout sessions. When you have time, you will not want to miss Tom Patton's session, 'Letter to a Christian Nation,' Jerry Wragg speaking about 'Grace, Good Works and the Gospel,' or Nathan Busenitz with his teaching, 'Did Constantine Invent the Trinity?' (audio not yet available for that one).  Audio for the sessions is available here.

Yet, in the midst of all of this marvelous teaching, and in spite of the fact that much of that teaching has addressed the problem of worldly churches and pastors, I have received an alarming report that there are a few too many pairs of skinny jeans wandering the campus of Grace Community Church and attending this 'business casual' event.

My only hope is that these poor pastors, elders or lay leaders were the victims of mishandled luggage. Surely their suitcases accidentally were switched with someone who was on his way to attend the Seeds Conference instead, where men like Steven Furtick and Craig Groeschel were speaking. This must be the only explanation! Either this or these men have a drastically different definition of 'business casual' than does the rest of society. Or, perhaps I simply do not understand the ways of their 'tribe.'

No matter, because it's Friday. So whether you are laboring to breathe in your skinny jeans right now, or relaxing in your jammies, please enjoy your week in review (kind of):
  • Answers magazine has an insightful article by Al Mohler discussing the issue of gay marriage as a civil right.
  • If you follow my Sunday Morning Praise posts, you know that the hymn posted a couple of weeks ago was "Abide with Me." By divine coincidence, Tim Challies ran an article last weekend explaining the background of this hymn. There's also a free download!
  • Rob Bell has released another trailer for his upcoming book, What We Talk About When We Talk About God. Spoiler alert: God apparently is as irrelevant as an Oldsmobile. But if you ask me, I think Bell is the one who has become irrelevant.
  • I continue to be amazed at all of the young children who supposedly identify as the opposite gender from their natural one. Now a Colorado school is being sued because they won't allow a six-year-old boy to use the girls' restroom. 
  • Kevin DeYoung on the motivations for faith: What is your attraction to Christianity? Is it power? Is it prestige? Is it purpose? Or is it the person of Jesus Christ? Saving faith says with the psalmist: “Not to us O Lord, not to us, but to your name be the glory.”
  • Who says cats don't like water?
  • Can you imagine offering someone $10,000 to murder your child? It's an appalling, horrifying thought, isn't it? Not to everyone, apparently.
  • Thirsty Theologian shares a couple of quotes from R.C. Sproul on the Roman Catholic heresies of the mass and transubstantiation. 
  • Best prank ever. I've always said the scarf is the most versatile accessory.
  • The Sola Sisters are concerned that some creation ministries have endorsed The Bible miniseries.
  • Chris Rosebrough lays out the theological errors of that same miniseries: