Feeding Sheep or Amusing Goats?

11:12PM, Monday, March 3, 2008

What follows was written in the 1800s by a man named Charles Haddon Spurgeon. You may know of him. Oh dear brother Charles, if only you knew how timely, relevant, and accurate an indictment your words to the Church are more than 100 years after your slumber. Would that we would repent of our offerings of strange fire and incline our ear to the sound teaching of the Word which gives life and peace. Would that we would see that to continue in the way of our perverse and adulterous generation is to tread the path to death and Hell.

An evil is in the professed camp of the Lord, so gross in its impudence, that the most short-sighted can hardly fail to notice it. During the past few years it has developed at an abnormal rate, even for evil. It has worked like leaven until the whole lump ferments. The devil has seldom done a cleverer thing than hinting to the Church that part of their mission is to provide entertainment for the people, with a view to winning them. From speaking out as the Puritans did, the Church has gradually toned down her testimony, then winked at and excused the frivolities of the day. Then she tolerated them in her borders. Now she has adopted them under the plea of reaching the masses.

My first contention is that providing amusement for the people is nowhere spoken of in the Scriptures as a function of the Church. If it is a Christian work why did not Christ speak of it? ‘Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.’ That is clear enough. So it would have been if he had added, ‘and provide amusement for those who do not relish the gospel.’ No such words, however, are to be found. It did not seem to occur to him. Then again, ‘He gave some apostles, some prophets, some pastors and teachers, for the work of the ministry.’ Where do entertainers come in? The Holy Spirit is silent concerning them. Were the prophets persecuted because they amused the people or because they refused? The concert has no martyr roll.

Again, providing amusement is in direct antagonism to the teaching and life of Christ and all his apostles. What was the attitude of the Church to the world? ‘Ye are the salt,’ not the sugar candy—something the world will spit out, not swallow. Short and sharp was the utterance, ‘Let the dead bury their dead.’ He was in awful earnestness!

Had Christ introduced more of the bright and pleasant elements into his mission, he would have been more popular when they went back, because of the searching nature of his teaching. I do not hear him say, ‘Run after these people, Peter, and tell them we will have a different style of service tomorrow, something short and attractive with little preaching. We will have a pleasant evening for the people. Tell them they will be sure to enjoy it. Be quick, Peter, we must get the people somehow!’ Jesus pitied sinners, sighed and wept over them, but never sought to amuse them. In vain will the Epistles be searched to find any trace of the gospel of amusement. Their message is, ‘Come out, keep out, keep clean out!’ Anything approaching fooling is conspicuous by its absence. They had boundless confidence in the gospel and employed no other weapon. After Peter and John were locked up for preaching, the Church had a prayer meeting, but they did not pray, ‘Lord, grant unto thy servants that by a wise and discriminating use of innocent recreation we may show these people how happy we are.’ If they ceased not for preaching Christ, they had not time for arranging entertainments. Scattered by persecution, they went everywhere preaching the gospel. ‘They turned the world upside down’. That is the only difference! Lord, clear the Church of all the rot and rubbish the devil has imposed on her and bring us back to apostolic methods.

Lastly, the mission of amusement fails to effect the end desired. It works havoc among young converts. Let the careless and scoffers, who thank God because the Church met them half-way, speak and testify. Let the heavy laden who found peace through the concert not keep silent! Let the drunkard to whom the dramatic entertainment had been God’s link in the chain of their conversion, stand up! There are none to answer. The mission of amusement produces no converts. The need of the hour for today’s ministry is believing scholarship joined with earnest spirituality, the one springing from the other as fruit from the root. The need is biblical doctrine, so understood and felt, that it sets men on fire.

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Problems and Solutions

2:08PM, Monday, January 28, 2008

What is noticeably wrong with the Church visible:

1. We have departed from the very foundation of our faith: the Bible. It is not held in high esteem. It is not revered as the very Word of God. It is not presented as the highest and sole authority in all matters, moral and spiritual. Instead, we follow after every wind of doctrine, becoming the fanboys of whoever claims they’ve got a “new way” to do the Jesus thing and writes a book about how the entire faith should change so the world will want to be friends with Jesus. We’re so concerned with the world liking us and liking our message that we’ll dress up God the Father, Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit as anything but what the Bible teaches them to be. This we do all in the name of not offending anyone. We are content to repaint the beautiful Gospel of Jesus Christ until we have arrived at a blasphemous caricature of the thrice holy God of the universe.

2. In our relationships and our personal lives, we do not consult the Bible for instruction. And if we happen to be confronted with the Truth, chapter and verse, we dismiss it as not applicable to us because it doesn’t feel right to our deceitful, sin-soaked hearts. Our feelings and our desires hold more weight in our rebellious minds than God’s commands. We quarrel with those who rightly rebuke and correct us with God’s Word, refusing to acknowledge the sin dwelling in our hearts. One almost wonders if such a person whose mind is in such a rebellious state can rightly be called saved. How can one who is truly reborn despise the counsel of God and refuse to repent of sin which is plainly revealed by the light of the Word?

3. We bring the world’s music, the world’s media, and the world’s way of ordering things into the house of God and call it holy and good. We bring to the house of God songs which are qualitatively bankrupt and utterly man-centered and we dare to call it “worship” with a straight face. We sing songs about how we do this and we do that, as if extolling the virtues of man’s deeds were praise of the Creator and not praise of man’s response. We have all but abandoned the regulative principle, opting instead for whatever pleases the flesh and makes people feel good about themselves. We do not fear God. We do not revere His name nor do we revere His Word. We offer strange fire to God and expect that He will accept this as true worship.

I propose the following as solutions to these issues:

1. Reaffirm the Bible’s place as our only standard and the highest authority. Both the Westminster and 1689 London Baptist confessions begin with the same topic: the Holy Scriptures. And this for good reason, because “[t]he whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down or necessarily contained in the Holy Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelation of the Spirit, or traditions of men.” Given the serious nature of the current state of the church, I would recommend that we make formal declaration of such a principle, whether by affirming a confession or otherwise making formal recognition of such a principle. We ought to formally draw the battle lines. Let those who call themselves Christians and yet deny Scripture its proper place of authority over our beliefs and actions be lovingly brought to repentance or else let them be put out from among our congregations if they refuse. Let us preach the whole counsel of God from the pulpit. Let us rebuke, reproof, correct, and encourage one another with the whole counsel of God.

2. Bend the knee and submit to the Bible in all areas of our lives, personal and public. When we are confronted with what Scripture says and our words, actions, and thoughts are not in line with God’s Word, we must humble our hearts and submit to God’s Word as corrective and right. When it says that we are always to forgive, we don’t make excuses about why we “can’t” forgive some wrong against us (look to the Amish in Pennsylvania circa 2006 for an example of what biblical forgiveness looks like). When it says that we are to always pursue reconciliation with all, even before coming to worship God, we obey and do not make excuses about how deeply someone has offended us or how deeply we have offended a person with whom we should seek reconciliation. When it says that we are to correct and rebuke those who are in error, we are to do so without hemming and hawing about how uncomfortable confrontation is. When it says that we are to discipline those in the church who refuse to repent of grievous sins, we are to do so without hesitation after it has been reasonably ascertained that biblical disciplinary proceedings have occurred and the person in question is in sin and unrepentant.

3. Rid ourselves of this love affair with the world (and consequently, enmity with God) and return order and reverence to the house of God and the services of worship therein. The house of God is to be a place of dignity and humility before God. A rock concert atmosphere and songs which lift up the “I” instead of the King are out of the question. If a given congregation does not have leadership capable of providing these things due to a lack of time or lack of ability, then I would contend that this warrants a return to more formal liturgical pursuits. At the very least, all singing should be congregational and focused on exalting God and His works as holy and good and humiliating man and his works as unholy and evil. After examining Scripture and understanding the instructions and principles it gives for the right worship of God, I am wholly convinced that the insertion of “special” music and disharmonious breaks for greetings and announcements into a service which is ostensibly set aside for the worship of God and the preaching of His Word is wholly inappropriate and unacceptable. If you wish to announce things to the congregation because they happen to be gathered on a Sunday together, let it be through a bulletin or else a newsletter. If it’s not worth preaching about or singing about, it’s not worth time spent talking about during a worship service. A worship service is for the worship of God through psalms, hymns, spiritual songs, and the preaching of the Word. It is not a place for dramas, community announcements, or dancing around like fools. Church is not where you go to have fun and indulge the flesh by doing what feels good. It is where you go to worship the true and living God the way He commands us to worship Him and to be instructed by His Word. God demands love and adoration. He also demands reverence, awe, and fear. Do not mock Him by offering strange fire — that which He has not commanded.


You, However

6:30AM, Sunday, January 13, 2008

On the counsel of a close friend and brother whom I love dearly and the counsel of scripture, I decided to edit my paper on Rob Bell slightly to reflect what I believe to be a more appropriate attitude. I do not believe I was as charitable as I should have been toward Rob Bell himself. I do not speak of my views regarding his teaching; they remain unchanged. The original post has been edited and the edited Word document re-uploaded.

I do not suppose to sit as judge over Rob Bell the man. Only God is in the position to rightfully condemn a man’s soul to hell or else to commend Him to heaven by grace through faith in Christ alone. But that does not mean I will not tell you to stay far, far away from Rob Bell and his teachings until further notice. I do not condemn the man, but I do condemn his teachings as false because I am wholly convinced by scripture that they are in grievous error, at the very best severely lacking or else ignorant.

If given the chance to have dinner with Rob Bell, I would welcome him with a firm handshake, a genuine smile, and an ice cold glass of sweet tea (Southern style, because Yankees don’t know how to make it, ha ha). I would welcome the opportunity for him to clarify and/or be changed in his mind regarding those teachings of his which my understanding of scripture leads me to believe are in error. But until and unless that happens and Rob Bell and I come into contact and relationship with one another, conscience dictates that I warn you against his teachings. If you are looking to learn and grow (as you ought to be), I recommend to you more sound teachers such as John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, Ravi Zacharias, and also the men of old who were raised up to preach the Gospel and feed the flock of God: Charles Spurgeon, John Calvin, Martin Luther, Jonathan Edwards, Matthew Henry, and others. Walk in the old paths not because they are old, but because they are good and will bring your soul rest.

As for me, I simply want to know the truth and for you to know it as well. To know the truth is to know the word of God. To intimately know the word of God brings knowledge of God. To know God is life. Brothers and sisters pray for me as I struggle to walk humbly before my God. Pray that God will cause me to be faithful to that which Paul called Timothy:

Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me! Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.

Peace be with you, friends.


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!


Secular Humanism Wrapped in Churchy Language

11:56AM, Monday, September 10, 2007

I couldn’t figure out a way to embed this, so I’ll just provide a link:

http://www.current.tv/studio/media/21674856

If you’re not familiar with the emergent/emerging movement(s), you need to be, because it’s the kind of stuff youth groups all across the nation are being indoctrinated with. It’s the new cool spirituality+social activism for the 20 and 30-something crowd.

Who are some of the proponents of it? Folks like Rob Bell (nooma), Tony Jones (emergent village), Rick Warren (purpose driven), and many others who I’ll not list in the interests of brevity. Be as wise as serpents friends, and as innocent as doves. May the Spirit give you eyes to see through the lies of this movement away from Scripture and toward humanism.


What We Desperately Need But Vehemently Deny

10:56AM, Friday, September 7, 2007


I know it’s nearly an hour long, but you would do well to watch the whole thing. This is the true Gospel. This is the whole Gospel. It is the Gospel which has the power to save the souls of men from the destructive end of their sins, that is death and hell. It is the only hope of salvation that you, I, or any man have.

It is not the emasculated “gospel” of Rick Warren or Rob Bell or Tony Jones or Rick Joyner or any other false teacher in the world today. Their gospel denies the utter spiritual bankruptcy of man and makes a mockery of the infinite grace of God shown toward us, sinners worthy of damnation and eternal punishment for our rebellion against the Creator. Their gospel is powerless to save men, and those who receive their gospel will not inherit eternal life save that they, by the grace of God, have their eyes opened to the true Gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed by Scripture — the Gospel that demands repentance, holiness, self-denial, and utter dependence on Christ for any who would take that name above all other names. The gospel of the emergent church and of the charismatic “prophets” is no gospel at all, and sadly many are they who enter by way of their gates and walk their paths. Do not be one of those who enter the wide gate and walk the wide path, my friend. Enter by the narrow gate and walk the narrow path. For the end of the wide is destruction. Only by the narrow way are we saved.


Unify in Fallacy or Defend the Truth?

12:38AM, Wednesday, September 5, 2007

But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer. In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following. But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance. For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers. Prescribe and teach these things. Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe. Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching. Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery. Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all. Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.
(1Ti 4:1-16, emphasis mine)

It has become increasingly apparent to me that it is far more desirable to firmly defend truth than to be unified while accepting into our midst false teachings, apostate doctrine, and worldliness. The only question that remains in my mind is to what extent and by what means do we identify and correct those who are mistaken, and when the time to formally break fellowship is.

More on these thoughts later today or this week.