30 August 2013

This 'n' That

I received an ad and some coupons in the mail this week for a Mexican restaurant. I was looking at it this morning as I was lacing up my running shoes and noticed a rather odd gimmick. Right now, for just $7.99, you can . . . make your own guacamole at your table! What a deal!

Um, really? You want me to pay eight bucks to sit in a sticky booth, mash up my own guacamole, and come home smelling like refried beans and grease? You know, I think I'd rather just stay home and smash an avocado in the comfort of my own kitchen, but thanks anyway. (Actually, for the record, avocado in all forms gives me the creeps.) Well, in light of this development, I can only anticipate that it won't be long before my favorite breakfast place will let me scramble my own eggs for just $12.

As ridiculous as it sounds that we would visit a restaurant only to pay to prepare our own food, I suppose that it is better than attending a wicked church that demands a tithe (lest you be cursed!) in order that you may create a god or "Jesus" of your own design. Such a thing has far graver consequences than simply emptying your pocketbook—it could rob you of eternal life. Yet how many people happily turn over their check every week, assuming such a work will earn their way into Heaven as they learn about a god who is decidedly not the God of the Bible? Or how many will pay with their souls as they "accept a Jesus into their heart" who loves but does not judge and who affirms sin but does not uphold righteousness?

After you ponder that, and after you pray for your local "lost" church (I've no doubt there's at least one in every town represented by the readers here), take a few minutes out of your Friday to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

29 August 2013

28 August 2013

Standing Fast for the Truth

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have. (Philippians 1:27-30)
Martyn Lloyd-Jones
The next question is why should we stand? And the answer is that we should do so because of the nature of the truth. Is there anything else that is worth standing for? Look at the zeal and the enthusiasm of the politicians as they stand for their party and see how they will work and argue with people, but what have they to offer and to stand for by comparison with this truth? What a glorious truth! The truth that God has given his own Son, his only begotten Son, and that there is a grand redemption possible to all, one which suffices in this world, and for the next, and to all eternity. What a mighty, glorious truth, what food for the mind, what a stimulus for the heart, what a magnificent truth! Do you need any other exhortation? Truth itself, its very character and nature, is worthy of our standing on the defensive.

But beyond that, we must stand for it for Christ's sake, for his honor and his glory—yes, stand for it even for the sake of the poor world which is attacking it. That is what you and I are called upon to do. The world is attacking the truth and yet it is the only thing that can save them, and even for their sakes we must stand for it, because nothing else will suffice for them.

But we must stand for it even for our own sakes. I have already used the comparison to an army, and if you have no other reason for standing for the truth let me commend this to you: there is a day coming when the Commander in Chief is going to review the troops, and we shall be standing there in the ranks. I see the Son of God walking up and down the ranks looking at us one by one at the grand final review, and if you do not want to feel you are a cad, if you do not want to feel terribly ashamed on the morning of that great review, stand as a man now, hold fast, be firm, never let an attack come but that you repel it. Stand for the truth and the faith, even for your own sake.

– D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Life of Joy: An Exposition of Philippians 1 and 2, (Baker Book House: 1989), 132–133.

Further Reading
Doctrine Matters
Replacing the 'Violent' Cross
What God Says about His Word

Bill Johnson: God Does Not Cause Illness and Never Chooses Not to Heal

photo: bluewinx15(BACK) via photopin cc
Is physical healing a necessary outworking of salvation? Should the Christian expect to live this life free from sickness and suffering? It is a common teaching among Word Faith proponents that indeed the believer should expect healing when ill and learn how to "activate" that healing when needed.

Word Faith leader Kenneth Copeland teaches,
Since the days of the Old Testament, God has always wanted His people free from sickness and disease—cancer, arthritis, AIDS, heart trouble, even the common cold. . . .

Well, first consider this: Believing that God can heal your body should be no different for you than believing He can forgive your sin. And yet, that truth becomes even more powerful when you realize that, not only can He forgive you and heal you—He already has!

God’s provision for the healing of your body and the forgiving of your sin are just two of the many benefits you received when you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Your forgiveness and your healing were secured for you.

But while it is important to realize that healing indeed belongs to you as a believer, it is just as important to know how to apply God’s Word to your life so you can activate that healing…when you need it.

Ironically, the story recently broke of a measles outbreak at Eagle Mountain International Church in North Texas—a church that is pastored by Copeland's oldest daughter, Terri Pearsons. As part of a public health announcement, the church has stated:
The ministry has held free immunization clinics for employees and church members to assist them in obtaining the best medical care for their families. We continue to follow up on pending and confirmed cases to help in any way we can to keep the outbreak contained. We ask that others join with us in prayer over this outbreak, and we believe that God is moving on behalf of each affected family. We know the truth; we are healed according to Isaiah 53:4-­5 and I Peter 2:24 and are standing against any plague that would try to attack us as a body. So agree with us that this will stop now according to Matthew 18:19. (Source)
Only time will tell if those affected at Eagle Mountain have appropriately learned how to "activate" their faith and be healed.

Several years ago, at a Q&A session for his School of Healing and Impartation, another Word Faith teacher and leader in the New Apostolic Reformation movement, Bill Johnson of Bethel Church in Redding, California, had this to say about God and illness:

In regard to the question, 'Does God ever cause sickness?' Johnson replies: "You can only give away what you have. Can God give away sickness? No, He's not sick. You can't give cancer if you don't have it."

24 August 2013

Prayer and Providence

This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. (1 John 5:14)
photo credit: Lel4nd via photopin cc
Nothing comes to pass without our heavenly Father's permission or ordination. By this almighty providence, God overrules and sways all things to his own glory. There is nothing that comes to pass but God has his purpose in it. Though the world seems to run at random in blind confusion and rude disorder, yet God governs it to make perfect harmony out of all the seeming discords.

Question: 'If God's providence ordains all things that come to pass according to the immutable law of his purpose, then what necessity is there for prayer? We cannot by our most fervent prayers alter God's decrees. Our prayers cannot hasten or ripen his blessings before their time, or prevent or prolong the time fixed to bring afflictions to pass upon us.'

Divine providence does not only ordain what effects shall come to pass, but also by what means, what causes, and in what order they shall flow. God has appointed not only the effect itself, but the means to accomplish it. Prayer is a means to bring to pass that which God has determined shall be. We do not pray out of hope to alter God's eternal purposes; but we pray to obtain that which God has ordained to be received by our prayers. We ask, that we may be fit to receive what God has from all eternity determined to give by prayer, and not otherwise.

Therefore, when we lie under any affliction, or if we are pinched by poverty, prayer is necessary because, as God by his providence has brought these things upon us, so likewise possibly the same providence has also determined not to remove them until we earnestly and fervently pray for our deliverance. Prayer does not incline God to bestow that which before he was not resolved to give, but prepares us to receive that which God will not give otherwise.

– Ezekiel Hopkins, as quoted in Voices from the Past, ed. Richard Rushing, (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2009).

Further Reading
The Mystery of God's Providence
God Speaks, but How?
Bad Doctrine Yields Bad Fruit

23 August 2013

This 'n' That

photo credit: swisscan via photopin cc 
I love Fall. I don't, however, necessarily love Fall in August. Yet, last week's temperatures certainly had me craving apple pie and pumpkin bread. And while the heat this week once again feels like those lazy last days of summer should feel, I peeked out the window this morning and realized that the three trees outside of my office already are turning a cheerful shade of orange.

As I said, I love Fall. As much as I long for the warmth of Spring and Summer following a bitterly cold winter, there is something about the crisp, cool days of Autumn. Nearly all of my favorite smells are reminiscent of this season: cinnamon, cider, apple pie, pumpkin pie (okay, any pumpkin dessert). The colors and character of Autumn are something I look forward to every year as Summer begins to wane. Yet, inevitably, the vibrancy of this season succumbs to the death of Winter and we find ourselves buried in the cold and snow once again (unless you are fortunate enough to live in one of those areas that only has two, or even just one season). Of course, our Lord is gracious and good and as the snow melts, we find ourselves reminded with the first blade of green grass, or with the early buds of Spring, that God gives life.

All of us are in various seasons of our earthly life, but one day, once we've seen our final snowfall in this fallen flesh, we will awake to an eternity with our Lord, if indeed we have been redeemed by Him. No more death, no more sin, and an unfathomable eternity to worship our Lord, Jesus Christ. I can't wait.

And while I'm fairly certain there will be no blogs in Heaven, don't let that stop you from today enjoying your week in review (kind of):

22 August 2013

NoCo90: The Economic Sin of Lazarus

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

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

21 August 2013

Guest Post: Apostasy and the Perseverance of the Saints

I'm excited to welcome back Hariton "Harry" Deligiannides as a guest blogger here at Do Not Be Surprised. Harry serves as an elder at Bethlehem Bible Church in West Boylston, MA. He already has blessed us with the articles, "Bible Study in a Morgue?" and "Whispers and Campaigns Do Not Preach the Word," and I'm certain you'll enjoy this latest article as well.

Apostasy and the Perseverance of the Saints

It had been 18 years since we graduated seminary together, so in 2010 I looked up my friend on Facebook to reconnect. After reaching out to him, his response was shocking.

“I have apostatized from 'the church' and put the Bible aside … I do not go to any church or 'study group' and do not plan to ever again either. The last thing I want is any teaching, preaching, instructing or supposed enlightenment from a well-intentioned born again believer. I studied, memorized and read enough Scripture to quote anyone into oblivion. And I have no intention to enter that ring anytime soon."

This was a man with whom I studied to enter into the ministry. We prayed together. We read the Bible together. We took the same classes together. We talked about where and how we wanted to serve in the ministry. We spent time together outside of seminary class. We had formed a friendship, a close bond. Years later he had asked me to be best man in his wedding.

Then just earlier this year, I received a phone call from a friend of mine to tell me that our mutual friend had left the faith and gone back to the Greek Orthodox church and baptized his children there.

This was a man who years ago asked me, “Would you disciple me?” I worked with him very closely and invested time. We prayed together. We memorized Scripture together. We ministered together. Along with my wife, we ministered to him and his wife so much so that they were considering joining us in a church plant. And even though they had been involved in a church that taught the doctrines of grace, that God is sovereign not only in saving dead sinners, but also in finishing the work He began in them, they abandoned the faith.

Were these incidents uncommon? No. Not at all.

19 August 2013

God Speaks, but How?

Does God speak today? Yes.
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. (Heb 1:1–2)
photo credit: practicalowl via photopin cc
Many may be familiar with the Justin Peter's quote, "If you want to hear God speak, read your Bible. If you want to hear God speak audibly, read your Bible out loud." Yes, the Lord speaks today—loudly and clearly. He does so through the closed canon and written revelation of His Word, Scripture. Sufficient for all things (2 Tim 3:15–17), God in His great goodness has provided this Word so that there would be no mistaking, misunderstanding, adding to or taking away from what He has revealed. For the Christian, Scripture must be the final, authoritative word.
Scripture is a closed system of truth, complete, sufficient, and not to be added to (Rev 22:18–19). It contains all the spiritual truth God intended to reveal.1
Yet, there are always those who seek for "more." More spirituality, more emotion, more revelation. There are those contemplatives and those mystics who teach that if one will only sit still long enough and be quiet enough, they may actually hear the voice of God. There are those who maintain that the Lord still sends prophetic dreams and visions. It is as if God still has more to say, that He didn't quite finish His sentence when the Apostle John closed the book on Revelation 22:21.

To these it may be asked, "Do you write down these personal prophecies and revelations given to you by "God" in the back of your Bible? Are you in the midst of composing the Book of Beth or John or Bill?" Such questions usually will be met with scoffing and exasperation, but are they not appropriate? After all, when God speaks, does He not speak authoritatively? Surely it is impossible for the God of the universe to speak with only partial authority! Either God speaks reliably and with supremacy, or He does not speak at all.

14 August 2013

The Mystery of God's Providence

Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. (Matt 10:29, NASB)
The mystery of God's providence is a most sublime consideration. It is easy to let our reason run away with itself. It is at a loss when it attempts to search into the eternal decrees of election or the entangled mazes and labyrinths in which the divine providence walks. We will have to give up the search for it, and can never be fully satisfied unless we relieve ourselves as Paul (Rom 11:33).

This knowledge is too wonderful for us. It is impossible to conduct ourselves into that secret place, that pavilion of clouds and surrounding darkness, where God sits holding the helm of the world. Our Savior encouraged the disciples not to worry about those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul. The clay pot may be broken, but it is like the opening of the prison door to let the soul escape to its desired liberty. But even this they can only do when God permits. They cannot so much as touch us without his permission.

Notice how particular is God's providence. It is directed to the most trifling occurrences in the world; a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without the heavenly Father. His providence has even appointed what branch it will land upon, what grains it shall pick up, where it shall lodge, where it shall build, and when it shall die. Not one particle of dust moves on a well-traveled road, but God raises it, directs its motion, and directs it to the specific place he appointed for it. The strongest wind cannot move it from its appointed place.

Man can be very confident that God exercises the most accurate providence over him and his affairs. Nothing comes to pass without our heavenly Father. No evil comes to pass without his permissive providence, and no good without his ordaining providence to his own ends.

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

Further Reading

12 August 2013

Jentezen Franklin's 'Spirit of Python'

There is more than one way to "squeeze the life out of" a person, even in the figurative sense. Some may use this phrase when speaking of something exceedingly dull or particularly stressful. But there is something running rampant in the church today that can squeeze the spiritual life out of a person: false teaching.

This blog first discussed Word Faith, seeker-driven pastor Jentezen Franklin in depth at the time of Steven Furtick's Code Orange Revival. At that time, it was noted that,
Jentezen Franklin is the lead pastor at Free Chapel in Gainesville, GA and in Irvine, CA. Yes, he is the lead pastor of two separate churches across the country from one another. But he is not just a "flat screen preacher." No, Franklin ministers live and in person in both locations:
Every Sunday, Franklin arrives at Free Chapel in Gainesville by 5 a.m. for prayer, preaches two sermons and shakes hundreds of hands before boarding a private jet at 2 p.m. with his family and two staff members. They arrive at John Wayne Airport, located five minutes from Free Chapel Orange County (OC), and by 6 p.m. Franklin is in the pulpit. (Source)
photo: Tambako the Jaguar via photopin cc
Jentezen Franklin now has a new book available for pre-order. It is called The Spirit of Python: Exposing Satan's Plan to Squeeze the Life Out of You. The description at Amazon reads as follows:
Pythons have an interesting way of killing their prey. They constrict it until it can no longer breathe, literally suffocating the life out of it. In the spirit realm Satan often works in the same way, slowly slithering his way into our lives, attempting to choke the very life out of us.

The python spirit can squeeze the joy out of your worship and prayers. It can pressure you to keep quiet when God wants you to speak up. And it can steal the peace of knowing that you belong to God. But there is a way to defeat him. You don’t have to become his prey.

The Spirit of Python helps you understand the strategies of this subtle destroyer, how he works, how to detect him, and how to break his hold from your life.

09 August 2013

This 'n' That

Yesterday, I was writing a post about Joyce Meyer's soon-to-be-released 100th book, God Is Not Mad at You. But, I failed to hit the 'Save' button as I should, and Blogger decided to slack off on its autosave and, with one small, mistaken keystroke, I lost the entire article after about an hour's worth of work. Poof! It was gone, and I was left with a blank page. I tried to speak the article back into existence, but alas, in spite of what Joyce Meyer and other Word Faith teachers try to tell us, our words actually do not have creative power.

Since the article wasn't flowing as I'd hoped it would anyway, I decided not to spend another hour of my life recreating it. Instead, I'll let you use your imagination as to what it was I might have said. In the meantime, I'm going to try to cast out the anti-discernment demon that must be inhabiting my computer,  though one Twitter friend suggested that I simply needed a hedge of protection around my blog, which of course made me think of this (I know I've shared this video quite a bit, but it's just so funny. . .and true):

So, while I work on exorcising my computer, why don't you take a few moments to sit back, relax and enjoy your week in review (kind of):

07 August 2013

'Small' Sins Make Way for Greater Ones

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body. (Rom 6:12)
One of Satan's devices is to present sin as less than it is. 'Ah,' says Satan, 'it is but a little pride, a little worldliness, a little uncleanness, a little drunkenness!' As Lot said of Zoar, 'It is but a little one, and my soul shall live.' 'Alas!' says Satan, 'it is just a very little sin that you are troubled by! You can commit it without any danger to your soul. You can commit it and your soul can still live.'

photo credit: VinothChandar via photopin cc
Consider, however, how many 'small' sins have received the greatest wrath: the eating of the fruit, gathering a few sticks on the Sabbath, and the touching of the ark. O the dreadful wrath that these sins brought down on the hearts of men! Small sins make way for greater ones. We do not have the power to keep off sin as we please. By yielding to the lesser, we give opportunity for Satan to tempt us in the greater. Augustine tells the story of a man that was of the opinion that the devil made the fly. One said to him, 'If the devil made flies, then he made worms.' 'True,' he said, 'the devil did make worms.' 'But,' said the other, 'if the devil made worms, then he made birds, beasts, and man.' He granted all. 'Thus,' said Augustine, 'by denying God in the fly, he came to deny God in man and all creation.'

Yielding to 'lesser' sins draws the soul to greater. It is a sad thing to depart from God for a trifle. It is the greatest folly to venture hell for a small matter, and to break with God for a little. The less the temptation the greater the sin. For the love of one little sin, some have lost God, and their souls forever. Many times small sins are more dangerous. Great sins startle the soul, and awaken it to repentance, but little ones breed and work secretly until they trample the soul. Sin grows by degrees until you cannot prevail over it. O that God would open the eyes of a sinner to see the horrid vileness of all sin.

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

Further Reading
To Pursue Union at the Expense of Truth Is Treason to the Lord Jesus
Desmond Tutu Prefers Hell Over a 'Homophobic' Heaven
The Intolerance of the Tolerant: Pastor Receives Angry Backlash for Article Calling Homosexuality Sin

06 August 2013

NoCo90: Bowing to the Baal of Sports

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

Additional Resources
NoCo90: Antichrists, Rick Warren and the Pope
NoCo90: The Myth of Free Will
A 'No Compromise' Conversation

05 August 2013

Walking on Water with Mark Batterson

It is rarely a good idea to allegorize the biblical text. When this is done, we find ourselves 'slaying the Goliaths' in our own lives or 'hacking our own Agags to pieces.' We miss the true meaning of the text. We ignore what the author—who is God—intended to say. Worst of all, we miss Christ because we are too busy trying to find ourselves in the text.

Mark Batterson, author of The Circle Maker, a book that teaches a prayer method based on extra-biblical literature and pagan, occultic practice, demonstrates the inevitable dangerous outcome of allegorizing Scripture:
At least, we hope that Mark Batterson is allegorizing here. If he is not, then there are a great deal many more issues that need to be discussed. Regardless, we here at Do Not Be Surprised do not recommend that even longtime followers of Jesus travel to the nearest body of water in an attempt to walk upon it.

If this idea is taken to its logical conclusion, then those who "follow in Jesus' footsteps long enough" also should be able to calm the wind and the waves, raise the dead, turn water into wine and cure leprosy, among a great many other things. But these miracles were wrought that Christ's deity may be affirmed. Only He has such authority over creation . . . because it is His creation. Men will never be equal to Christ, even upon final glorification. Jesus Christ is Lord. He is Creator. He is Savior. Man is none of these things.

If one wants to 'radically' follow Jesus, then he needs only to try living out a life of holiness and godliness amidst a culture that despises God. One needn't 'walk on water,' rather, one simply needs to seek to be faithful to the One who has saved his soul.

Additional Resource
The Circle Maker (Fighting for the Faith)
Anne Graham Lotz and Her Narcissistic Interpretation of the Transfiguration
What God Says about His Word

02 August 2013

This 'n' That

I wish I had a clever story for you this morning. I thought about sharing how I slammed my toe into the doorframe with impressive force, but as far as I can tell, and in spite of the still-throbbing pain, it's not actually broken, so that's not a good story. Then I thought about regaling you with a few more bird curse tales, but in truth, I've yet to top the bird-in-a-screen-door and bird-in-the-windshield incidents. After that, I came up with a winning idea: to share with you an excerpt from Oral Roberts' The Miracle Book. After all, what's more uplifting on a summer Friday than a healthy dose of heresy?
I believe it is not only God's will that you have enough to get by on, but that you also prosper . . . that you succeed on [sic] your job or in your business or in your marriage or as a parent or as a student or in other ways important to you. And that your financial needs will be met abundantly!!
The Bible says, "Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth" (3 John 2).
 Make Seed-Faith living your way of life. Focus your faith on God your Source. Begin now seeding for a miracle . . . giving FIRST out of your want, your great need. This gives God something to work with. And EXPECT a miracle to happen . . . in the now of your need!
(Oral Roberts, The Miracle Book, [Pinoak Publications: 1972], 223.) 
So. Much. Heresy. Not to mention some skillful Scripture-ripping and twisting. The false teachings of Oral Roberts truly were a blight on the visible church and, sadly, they continue to thrive and prosper in the ministries of so many Word-Faith teachers today. Kind of makes you wonder how anyone with even a modicum of sense could praise Roberts or his ministry, doesn't it? Ah, well, I suppose it is just more evidence of the ongoing work of the Great Deceiver.

So before you go out to pursue your Seed-Faith living, pause for a moment and enjoy your week in review (kind of):

01 August 2013

Missing the Point of the Cross: Roman Catholic Lawyer Seeks to Overturn Conviction, Death Sentence of Christ

Every now and then someone appears who epitomizes the idea of 'missing the point.' The latest is Kenyan lawyer Dola Indidis, a Roman Catholic who is petitioning the International Court of Justice to nullify Jesus’ conviction and death sentence. From Religion News Service:
Indidis, a former spokesman for the Kenyan judiciary, accuses Pilate, who was the Roman governor of Judea, of “judicial misconduct, abuse of office, bias and prejudice.” 
That may well be the case, at least in the view of believers and many Bible scholars. But getting a court to rule on a 2,000-year-old case from an outlying province in a long-defunct empire will not be easy.