Defending Against the Invasion

1:56AM, Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Post-modernity has found a welcome home in Western culture and its tentacles have wrapped even around the church. It is evident in the utter aversion that even some of my most beloved, soundly orthodox, and biblically grounded brothers have to the exposing of and separation from significant departure from the Scriptures in the teachings of some of our contemporaries. The great sin today is not calling God a liar or treating His revealed Word carelessly, but even disagreeing with someone or challenging their views!

How foolish of us! Why should the exposing of the wolves among the sheep be sad for us? To say that it accomplishes nothing is rather silly in my opinion. We desire that Truth might be preached and held in high esteem. How else is error revealed except by contrasting it with Truth? There are certainly spiritual matters which are of little importance in comparison to the core of the message of the Gospel: that God is holy, that we are sinful and in need of a redeemer, that Christ has given Himself as a sufficient and effective substitutionary sacrifice on our behalf, and that we must repent and are saved by grace through faith in Christ.

How long we cut our hair or what style of music we listen to may well be important issues to tackle, but they are vastly inferior to issues of doctrines of salvation and of the Scriptures themselves, and I think that the vast majority of us would agree that hair and music are not issues which give us anything close to reasonably justifiable grounds for excommunication or disassociation.

Epistemological, hermeneutical, and soteriological issues, however, are another matter entirely. When someone starts preaching that Jesus name is not the only name under heaven by which we must be saved they have departed from the Truth. When someone starts preaching that the Bible is not clear and that we need to have a “conversation” to figure out what God really said (“Indeed, has God said. . .”) they have departed from the Truth. When someone preaches that we cannot really know Truth and that all truth is relative, they have departed from the Truth.

The only grief we ought bear when men such as these are exposed for what they really are is that they have departed from the Truth in the first place. It is indeed sad that they have rejected the Gospel that was handed down to the saints, once for all. We cannot remain faithful to the Gospel while we continue to entertain the intimacy of fellowship with ones such as these. They lead men astray. We, on the other hand, must strive to preach to the world the absolute truth of Christ crucified which alone has the power to save.

I’m not looking to pick a fight, but neither am I going to back down from the robber who assaults the church with clubs of extrabiblical doctrine and humanist idolatry.

Mark Driscoll recently named names at the Convergent Conference. You can listen to the podcast in its entirety here. It’s the podcast entitled “Convergent Conference – Session 3” and it’s a rather in-depth exposition on the theologies of some of the Emergent Church’s leaders. About 14 minutes in is where the topic turns specifically toward them and (even primarily I would say) their ideas. A lot of people are upset that Mark would essentially call these men out as heretics. They wring their hands and cry “Division! Division! He’s being divisive and isn’t unifying!” To which I would respond with God’s command to the Corinthians:

Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE. “Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE,” says the Lord. “AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; And I will welcome you.
(2Co 6:14-17)

We are to unify with believers and in Truth, not error! We are not to unify with those who reject even the very basic tenets of our faith and embrace such lawlessness as post-modernism as the basis for their worldviews. We are, in fact, called to separation from such men.

Our methods may change, for we live in a world where the most effective “language” of preaching Christ crucified may change with the cultural language of a given people (Paul on Mars Hill, for example). But the immutable Word of God remains forever the same. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is still the only thing that saves the fallen sons of Adam, and it is the only message we ought ever preach to the lost. It is the power of God for those who are being saved.

My dear brothers and sisters, I implore you: preach Christ or else do not waste your breath. Preach Christ or nothing at all.


My Salvation: Assured and Secured by the Cross

10:43PM, Monday, September 24, 2007

Should I ever doubt my salvation, may I turn to this hymn of encouragement and assurance and meditate upon the Cross of Jesus, its purpose and effect on my being. The Cross was purposed as an atoning sacrifice for my sins because God chose to save me for His good pleasure in His sovereign election. He gave me the ability to choose to serve Him by the workings of His grace in my heart.

From whence this fear and unbelief?
Hath not the Father put to grief
His spotless Son for me?
And will the righteous Judge of men,
Condemn me for that debt of sin,
Which, Lord, was charged on Thee?

Complete atonement Thou hast made,
And to the utmost farthing paid
Whate’er Thy people owed:
Nor can His wrath on me take place,
If sheltered in Thy righteousness,
And sprinkled with Thy blood.

If Thou hast my discharge procured,
And freely in my room endured
The whole of wrath divine:
Payment God cannot twice demand,
First at my wounded Surety’s hand,
And then again at mine.

Turn then, My soul, unto thy rest;
The merits of thy great High Priest
Have bought thy liberty:
Trust in His effective blood,
Nor fear thy banishment from God,
Since Jesus died for thee.

— Augustus M. Toplady, 1772

Thank you, Christ Jesus, for becoming what you were not so that I might become what I was not. You took my sin that I might be given your righteousness. I am unworthy and ever grateful. Grant that I might serve and love you with all of my heart, mind, strength, and soul so long as you lend breath to my lungs.

Suffering? Have Some Mercy and Grace.

5:12PM, Thursday, September 20, 2007

This post is a response to something my friend wrote on his blog. Rather than take up a considerable amount of space in his comments, I have decided to post my thoughts here.

After some of the things I’ve wrestled through in the past few months, I’d have to say that the question of why God allows suffering gets things backwards. I think it assumes in the first place that we are not all worthy of suffering greatly for our sins.

I think rather than asking why God allows suffering or asking why we allow suffering we ought to be asking “Why does God allow us to live in spite of our sinfulness?”

You see friend, this world we live in is dying, and it’s all because of sin. The universe is decaying because sin entered in by way of Adam and Eve. It’s moving day after day, hour after hour, moment by moment toward its ultimate destruction. Apart from Christ, the men and women of this world, including you and I, stand already condemned and worthy of death before a holy God. And the fact that God does not send us straight to just judgment in hell the moment we sin is an act of Grace!

And how is God even able to offer us this Grace without contradicting His divine demand of justice for sin? The Cross of Jesus Christ provides the answer to this much better question. The mercy and grace that we are offered at the Cross is there because the wrath of God for sin was on Christ! Because the justice poured out at the Cross was infinite for the infinite offense of sin against a holy God, God is therefore free to offer Grace and Mercy as He so wills.

That we are still living and breathing, that we are not as bad as we could be (even Joseph Stalin didn’t murder his own mother) is a sovereign act of God moving in His Grace. That does not mean that all people have all of God’s Grace. God sovereignly chooses those upon whom He will bestow His Grace and Mercy. “I will have mercy upon whom I will have mercy.” declares the Lord.

As an aside, if you want some more Scriptural background on the things I’m talking about, I’d suggest reading up a bit on the Doctrines of Grace.

So does the fact that God doesn’t magically eliminate all suffering mean that we don’t help the poor or care for the sick? By no means! We ought to do these things because we love them. And we ought to love them because God has demonstrated His love to us by giving us Christ’s Cross. But the elimination of suffering in this fallen world is not the goal of these actions.

Folks like Rob Bell will tell you that that is the goal because we’re supposed to bring some sort of physical kingdom of God here to earth. That’s not at all the goal, and that’s a completely unscriptural motive. The goal in showing love and mercy to the suffering is to be merciful because God is merciful to us, and if that person is unsaved, the ultimate goal is to show them the way to repentance and faith in Christ.

Suffering isn’t at all the question, is it? God gives to us all varying degrees of mercy and grace as He sovereignly chooses. I’m not sure that any of us is really in a position to question the one giving mercy as to how much mercy we or others “deserve” are you? I know that on the surface that might seem like a cop out, but it really isn’t. None of us deserve God’s Mercy or Grace, and that, my friend, is precisely why God’s Mercy and Grace are so grand!

If You Can’t Make Fun of Yourself. . .

2:09PM, Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sometimes we take ourselves far too seriously.

Thanks go to David for sending this to me. Apologies go to my fellow Calvinists for the terrible pun. 😛

Pleading the Blood or Denying Its Power?

10:56AM, Friday, September 14, 2007

Drew over at Sign of Jonah spells out nicely what’s wrong with the charismatic prophetic movement’s insistence on “pleading the blood” and the motivations and principles behind it. Read it here.

Interesting to note is the posturing Lou and other folks do. They set themselves in such a position that if you disagree with them on any point, immediately you are accused of hating babies and loving abortion. I have a friend right now who is angry at me because I won’t join or support Bound4Life, a group founded by Lou Engle which advocates the recitation of a ritual prayer which “pleads the blood.”

The problem is not with wanting to end abortion. As Drew so rightly put it: “It doesn’t matter how noble the purpose seems, nothing justifies treating God’s word this way. Abortion is a vehicle in this case, it’s an emotional hot-button and a common banner that Mike and Lou use to unite under.”

I couldn’t agree more, Drew. Lou and Mike twist scripture or make up spiritual-sounding ideas in order to justify their agenda. They appeal to something which is extremely emotionally-charged and deceive people who have a monumental emotional stake in stopping this mass murder due to some encounter with abortion somewhere along the road of life, whether in their own lives or in the life of someone they know.

I don’t question the sincerity of Lou Engle or Mike Bickle or anyone else. Their theology, doctrine, and motivations are where I take issue. And in the end, it’s not about their sincerity at all, because anyone can be sincere and still be wrong. In this case, Lou and Mike are sincerely mistaken and what they teach and advocate is errant. We would be wise to avoid associating with them and other false teachers.

Do You Really Love Me? Do I Really Love You?

10:46PM, Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Were I walking down a path filled with pitfalls and snares, and at the end there lay a thick mist concealing a cliff with a drop sure to lead to death, and you did nothing to warn me, tell me friend, can you really say that you love me? If you did not make every effort to see that I did not go down this path, knowing where it led, can you speak honestly and say that you care for me as for your own brother?

On the contrary, true love would compel one to go even so far as to be a physical barrier between his brother and a path of destruction. Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but in truth. Love does not sit idly by while a brother walks the way which seems right unto a man but whose end is death. Love exhorts the brethren to holiness and righteousness.

And what is the path in which we should walk?

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
(Php 4:8-9)

And what ought we not to love?

Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.
(1Jn 2:15-17)

Savage Wolves Among the Flock

8:30PM, Monday, September 10, 2007

Paul addresses the brethren at Ephesus before journeying to Jerusalem:

And now, behold, I know that all of you, among whom I went about preaching the kingdom, will no longer see my face. Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God. Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears. And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
(Act 20:25-32)

Some criticize those who seek to discern truth from falsity as “troublemakers” or “dividers” or “unloving” toward the brethren. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is because of our deep love for the flock of God that we guard it jealously.

Paul addresses the Corinthians:

For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.
(2Co 11:2-3)

There is but one husband for the church of Jesus Christ, and that is Jesus Christ himself. The husband of the church is not social activism. It is not supernatural experiences or feeling good about ourselves. Thus it is that we who fight jealously for the purity of Christ’s church against false teachers and the doctrines of demons are as those who are escorting a bride to her husband, striking down thugs who come up to her along the journey that they might have their way with her. I know this imagery may be strong, but it is accurate. Those who teach false doctrines and prophesy falsely are rapists of Christ’s bride. They are wolves among the flock of God, and if we do not make every effort to purge them from our midst the flock will be ravaged all the more.

May God grant us wisdom and discernment that we might purge the apostates from our midst. Here in North America it is either going to take another Reformation or else serious persecution of the church for us to more readily rid ourselves of these liars and false teachers. May God bring about whatever pleases Him that He might be glorified and that His church might be pure and undefiled.