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.


Rob Bell: “The Gods Aren’t Angry”

5:03AM, Sunday, January 6, 2008

Before I get into my criticisms of Mr. Bell’s theology and teachings that he espouses in this particular tour, “The Gods Aren’t Angry,” I’d first like to clear up a few things so that my detractors have less ammunition with which to fire salvos of vitriol.

I harbor no ill will toward Rob Bell. He is a talented, charismatic speaker, and a superb storyteller. But if words mean anything, then Rob Bell has largely abandoned the Gospel. By his own words is he condemned as a false teacher — greatly deceived and deceiving many others and leading them astray.

My allegiance is to my God and Savior, the Lord Jesus, and to His word. If God has exalted His word even as high as His holy name (Psalm 138:2), how much more ought we to cling to it? If God has indeed spoken through the prophets and apostles, then what He has said is of paramount importance. I do not trust in the fabrications of men, but in the word of God. Yes, I am a sola scriptura kind of guy. My allegiance shall be given to no man, no organization, no philosophy, nothing and no one save to my gracious Master.

I write this, dearly loved friend, with the hope that you will be noble-minded like the Bereans and search the scriptures to prove whether or not the things which I say are true. If I am to be judged positively or negatively for my criticism of Mr. Bell’s teachings, let it be on the basis of scripture. I write these things with the assumption that scripture is our sole and final authority. If this is unacceptable to your mind, then I wish to humbly suggest that this assessment will be of much less value to you, indeed perhaps even useless. But I digress.

If you believe strongly that I have unfairly represented Mr. Bell or that my motives are impure, I will be glad to clarify as circumstances reasonably allow. All scripture references are from the NASB unless otherwise noted.

—-

Bell began our time together without fanfare or formal introduction. He went straightaway into his first story of a cave woman who notices connections between the celestial bodies, weather, and those things linked with her well-being (e.g. edible plants). He tells of a cave husband who likewise notices these connections while hunting. These hypothetical people somehow end up thinking that they somehow must appease the celestial being(s) in order to be prosperous. Nowhere in here are Adam and Eve mentioned. In fact, at no time were the first 11 chapters of Genesis even touched upon during the evening. I suppose that the accounts of Genesis 3, 6, 7, and 11 would be a bit antithetical to your point if your audience is supposed to conclude that God isn’t angry.

Bell continued to explain how various ancient cultures created and worshiped various deities, rattling off a string of ancient gods and what they were worshiped for without missing a beat. Sacrifices to these gods were made in order to keep the forces happy and receive blessings. Along comes Abraham in Genesis 12, and God speaks directly to him.

Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father’s house, To the land which I will show you; And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” (Gen 12:1-3)

Bell tells us that up until this point, the gods were far from man and you never knew what they actually required in the way of sacrifices to keep them happy. But while this may have been true of the idols men worshiped, this is a result of man becoming idolatrous in his rebellion, not the result of evolutionarily developing the idea of pleasing the primal life forces as one might be strongly inclined to conclude from Rob’s caveman talk just a few minutes prior. Even a cursory glance from Genesis 2-4, 6-9 shows that man was given clear instructions by God, that man was not ignorant of who the one true God was. It clearly illustrates that Adam and Eve sinned in a willful and deliberate act of disobedience, thus incurring the curse of original sin with all its trappings. It tells of the exceeding wickedness of men and how God judged them by destroying the earth with a great flood.

It is true that Abraham was probably in a culture that worshiped idols. In fact, according to both Jewish and Islamic tradition this is the very reason God told Abraham to leave the land in which he lived and go to the one which He would show him. But it does not follow from scripture that the God of Abraham developed out of (“emerged from” I believe were the words Bell used) Sumerian culture, as Bell proposes. God sovereignly chose in His good pleasure to speak to Abraham. Bell says this was a new idea that God wasn’t angry, but that He was here to bless man and provide.

Of the account of Abraham and Isaac, he states that the ram simply is God telling Abraham “Hey, I’m the one that provides, you don’t have to.” While on the surface it is true that God provided, nothing is said of Abraham’s faith in God, which is said in Hebrews to have been reckoned as righteousness unto him. That ram was still sacrificed. It was still offered to God as a burnt offering (presumably for the covering of sins, as with the blood offerings of the Mosaic law).

He then moved forward to the Levitical sacrificial laws, keeping in mind that all these sacrifices were supposedly to make God happy so we’d get blessings, just like the pagan sacrifices. Nowhere is sin mentioned as the underlying reason why sacrifices are even necessary. On a personal note, I thought it was a bit disrespectful and inappropriate for Bell to liken the first five chapters of Leviticus to a poor quality slasher film. Bell skimmed over the different types of offerings mentioned in those passages. Bell rightfully speaks of the Levitical law as removing any doubts as to what God wanted. But he makes a significant error in asserting that these were merely to make God happy and get on His good side. While it is true that the Levitical laws did now show exactly what God required of men as far as their sacrifices were concerned (and I do now appreciate the sacrificial system more because of this understanding), it is not true that they were merely to make God happy. The primary purpose of the sacrifices was to deal with sin. With the exception of the peace and free-will offerings, the sacrifices dictated by Leviticus were for the atoning for sins.

He transitioned from there to Jesus, who he made out to be nothing more than a social revolutionary. Jesus supposedly shows up to bring down the sacrificial system itself (because of its violence, not because of his fulfillment of the need for sacrifices), not just the corruption that the Pharisees and Sadducees had brought to it through their greed. According to Bell, Jesus came to get rid of the violence of the sacrificial system once and for all by showing people that God wasn’t angry any more and that people didn’t have to make sacrifices any more. He was showing them a “new way” to do things. And Jesus didn’t resist violently because that wouldn’t have been anything different from the old system of violence against animals.

According to Bell the writer of Hebrews was the one who actually developed this idea that the Cross was an altar. He makes Hebrews 10 out to be a text which badmouths the sacrificial system because it says that the blood of bulls and goats is unable to take away sins. His conclusion is that the sacrifices were to take away feelings of guilt, or “primal anxieties” as he called them. The theme of “God is love. God provides. God doesn’t demand.” continued throughout the night.

Bell misstates the entire purpose of the sacrificial system. He expounds Isaiah 1, Micah 6:7, and Hebrews 9 and 10 as essentially saying that God doesn’t really want the sacrifices and He only required them so we wouldn’t feel guilty any more. For someone who is seminary-educated and a teacher of the Bible, this is woefully ignorant at best, or else it is blatantly revisionist. Scripture makes this clear: God demands blood for sin. Hebrews tells us that without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness for sin. The sacrifices of the Mosaic covenant were for the covering of sins. There is no contradiction of terms when Hebrews says that the blood of bulls and goats can not take away sin. It is a true saying. The sacrifices of animals were imperfect sacrifices, but they did accomplish the purpose of covering sin when accompanied by a repentant heart. Jesus Christ was a perfect sacrifice, being both fully God and fully man, able to satisfy the wrath of God for sin and reconcile sinners who would by grace through faith trust in his sacrifice which was to be made on the Cross.

Rob also grossly misinterprets Isaiah 1 and Micah 6:7. These passages show us not that God requires no sacrifice for sin, but that faith and a contrite heart are that which make a given sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. The truth which these passages speak is that a rebellious heart can not please God, no matter what sacrifices are offered. Even a layperson with no formal theological training can understand these plain truths from those scriptures.

To restate: Rob’s stated view of Jesus death is that he died to abolish the violent sacrificial system, not because he was the fulfillment of it, but because it was violent and made people feel guilty about their sins. This comes as no surprise after we have examined Rob’s faulty views of both sin and the purpose of the sacrificial system. To be fair, his line of thinking does somewhat logically flow from wrong views of sin and the necessity of a penalty for sin.

Bell says that the writer of Hebrews is the one who introduced this concept of the Cross as an altar. He calls it a “new idea” that Christ was offered on an altar. But let us examine that claim. I posit to you that it was prophesied long ago that Christ would be a sin offering and that Bell is absolutely contrary to scripture when he asserts that it is a “new idea” that the writer of Hebrews somehow introduced. Let us read from the Word of God which came through the prophet Isaiah.

(1) Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? (2) For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. (3) He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. (4) Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. (5) But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. (6) All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. (7) He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth. (8) By oppression and judgment He was taken away; And as for His generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the living For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due? (9) His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth. (10) But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand. (11) As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities. (12) Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors. (Isa 53:1-12)

Read verse 5 again. He was pierced for what? Our transgressions. He was crushed for what? Our iniquities. Verse 10 goes on to say “But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.”

It is plain to see that Messiah was to be an offering for sin of the many. To say otherwise (as Bell has done) is to preach contrary to the revealed Word of God, which is the sole and final authority in matters of what we are to believe concerning God and the duties which God requires.

Bell mentions Colossians 1:20 and that God is reconciling “all things” to Himself because God is the one who has made peace. No mention is made of any requirement for that reconciliation to take place. Bell’s message to those who are among the enemies of God is simply “God is on your side, just celebrate it.” All we need do is examine this verse in its context to see that Bell is ignoring the requirements for receiving this reconciliation. Recall that reconciliation is a cessation of hostilities, the mutual coming together of two parties who were once at odds with one another, yet now are making peace. I doubt Bell would speak the true reason why God made peace with us instead of the other way around (that we are utterly incapable of doing it in the first place). Instead he just says that God has already done it. Let us read Colossians 1:20 in its context.

(19) For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, (20) and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. (21) And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, (22) yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach– (23) if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister. (Col 1:19-23)

Paul makes it clear in verse 23 that we are reconciled if and onlyif indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast. . .”

The requirement of salvation is faith. The requirement of faith is repentance. The requirement of repentance is rebirth. And the requirement of rebirth is the hearing of the Word and the working of the Holy Spirit to rebirth a person through the Word. Salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone. John 3, Romans 10, and 1 Peter 1, among other passages, make clear what the requirements of salvation are and how exactly it comes to be. Salvation comes when a sinner is reborn by the Spirit, confesses and repents of His sin, and trusts wholly and solely in the work of Christ on the Cross for the forgiveness of his sin.

Bell went on to say that repentance is merely “celebrating what God has already done” or “celebrating God making peace.” This is nothing short of revisionism and it is clear by now what Bell’s agenda is. Repentance is not a celebration as Bell claims. Repentance for a sinner is being contrite over his sin, and it is turning from that sin in the strength of the Spirit which has caused them to be born again. I’m not sure how commonplace it is to use the word “repent” amongst biologists nowadays, but in that field, to repent means to crawl along the ground, to be prostrate. This is a perfect picture of what to repent looks like. It is being so broken over your sin that you fall on your face in sorrow.

Bell continued. According to him, the “reconciliation of all things” of which Paul spoke in Colossians 1 is merely social work. Buying groceries for a poor person and giving a house to a single mom who was just divorced and left without a way to provide for her children were the more emotionally charged examples of this “reconciliation” which Bell claims. Not to say that these are not good deeds and should not be done (certainly they are and should be), but this is a complete revising of what the word “reconciliation” means.

To sum up, Bell put it to us this way: he was stressing himself out over struggles he was having, and his friend kept repeating to him, “You don’t have to live this way.” Bell posits that this is the core message of the Gospel — that you don’t have to live this way. “This way” is clearly implied to mean feeling guilty about your sin. Bell has spent 2 hours talking about how all the sacrificial systems were developed because we feel guilty. According to Bell, Jesus came to tell us to stop feeling guilty and that the Kingdom of God is social work.

And so he finished, chanting “You don’t have to live this way. You don’t have to live this way.” as a sort of mantra as music began to play and rise in volume. To be sure, it was a good educational experience as far as pagan gods and the customs of pagan religions were concerned. But on the whole, the Gospel was either revised or else watered down to nothing resembling what Scripture presents as the way of salvation for sinners (which we all are).

If you’re looking for out and out heresy, it won’t be easy to find it in Bell’s message. But what Bell did in two hours can be described as nothing less than deliberately calculated and absolutely unbiblical. His revisionist theology was purposefully cloaked in ambiguity. A man educated in the scriptures who believes them to be wholly true does not spend over an hour speaking on the Hebrew sacrificial system and then speak nothing of sin and of our actual guilt before a holy God, instead speaking merely of our feelings of guilt. A man who believes the Scriptures to be wholly true does not spend over an hour speaking of the covenant which Christ came to fulfill — not merely abolish — and then mention nothing of His fulfillment of it, indeed making Him out to be nothing more than your run-of-the-mill revolutionary, claiming that Christ as substitutionary atonement was a new idea thought up long after His ministry, crucifixion, and resurrection.

If words mean anything, then Rob Bell has largely abandoned the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is plain to see that his gospel is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but a social gospel. It is not a call to true repentance from sin and faith in Christ’s work on the Cross for the forgiveness of sins. It is not a call to leave the lusts of our flesh as Paul repeatedly exhorted the various Gentile Christians to whom he wrote. Rob’s views ultimately find their root in a low view of scripture. His wrong view of sin, wrong view of the purposes of and reasons for Mosaic sacrifice, and wrong view of Christ and His purpose all find their roots in the systematic ignoring or revising of the clear teachings of scripture because they run contrary to the mind of sinful man.

Conscience demands that I caution you against the teachings of men like Rob Bell. His teachings are in error, being very man-centered, and so much of the Gospel is left out that it cannot rightly be called the Gospel when he has finished speaking. My understanding of scripture leads me to believe that you must be born again to see the Kingdom of Heaven. Yes, Christ freely offers forgiveness for sin, but you must repent and believe. You must acknowledge your sinfulness and actual guilt before a just and holy God. Then you must ask Him in faith to be merciful and save you, believing that Christ has paid the full penalty for your sins by the Cross upon which He suffered and died. If you are not one already, become a disciple of Christ, I implore you. Do not reject Christ and thus abandon the only hope of true peace this world will ever know.

— Bill Carlisle

SDG


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.


Who Are We Striving to Please?

11:05AM, Thursday, September 6, 2007

I recently listened and listened again to a message by Alistair Begg on the importance of Transparency, Integrity, and Urgency in church leadership. It is yet another solid confirmation that truth, righteousness, and the consistent exhortation to both are far more important than not stepping on toes or offending people who have made traditions of men their idols, more important to them than the Word of God.

The people whom God has sent to a church are there for a purpose, and those who have been sent to lead ought to lead courageously as the Spirit has moved. Neither the zeal of youth nor fifty years of membership in a particular body gives us the right to usurp God’s Word or His Spirit’s leading for our traditions, whatever they may be. If traditions and personal preferences are of higher priority to the majority of a given body than sound doctrine and submitting to the appointed leadership of the church, then perhaps we might ought to reconsider our membership in a given body, whether a church, a small group, a ministry, or some para-church organization.

Now I’m not saying traditions aren’t important. They do help us to identify culturally with those in the local body. But they are not even half as important as the Truth being proclaimed boldly and accurately — that is to say the true Gospel of Jesus Christ and not some counterfeit. However, when a people elevates the traditions of men over the truth of the Gospel, they have missed the point entirely and are focusing on man rather than on God. Their minds are set on the flesh and not on the Spirit.

Accordingly, godly leadership ought not to acquiesce to this nonsense and in fact ought to expose it and call it what it is. Now I know that doesn’t make people comfortable, nor will it win me a lot of friends among my peers or my elders. But that’s not the point. You see, so often we play politics in God’s church so as not to upset anyone over how the Spirit has led the leadership of the church to move, and we’ll string them along deceptively, slowly taking them somewhere their stony hearts were never willing to go in the first place.

They are no more willing participants in the end than at the beginning because their hearts never changed, and they never will because we fail to acknowledge and address the source of the problem: the attitudes of their hearts toward God and their love of man’s traditions over God’s Word. We tiptoe around them and call it “patience” or “tolerance” or “understanding.” What we ought to be doing is speaking firmly, transparently, and honestly with regard to all matters, including conflicts. Gentleness does not require secrecy, deception, or walking on egg shells to please stiff-necked idolaters. It is shameful that we would even consider doing these things.

We are more concerned with pleasing men and not being judged by them than we are of being obedient to God’s calling and being judged by Him! How utterly foolish of us! Should not our primary concern be with He who will one day judge us and our works? Only those works which have been crafted with the precious metals and gemstones of the directing of the Spirit shall stand. All our worthless man-centered works shall be burned as hay and stubble.

I, for one, care very little whether I am judged by men. I care very much for how my God and King will judge my stewardship of this His abundant grace to me: the Truth in His Word. May God grant that to my dying breath I defend His Word and proclaim its Truth without timidity. The power of God to save men is not in my ability or inability to preach the Word, but in His Word itself! The Word of God, plainly spoken without intricately woven tapestries of language to dress it up is still the Word of God, and it is powerful! Christ crucified will always be a stumbling block and foolishness to those who will die in their transgressions. But it is the power of God to those who will be saved.

Now that is not to say that I am above guidance, teaching, or correction. But it is to say that my primary concern is with God and His approval and not man and his approval. Would that all whom God has appointed to lead His church and Christ’s body gave no heed to either the undue praise or the undue criticism of men and led with transparency, integrity, and urgency, just as Paul is described as having done in Acts 20.

I’ll close with an quote from our friend and brother Charles Spurgeon.

A certain man placed a fountain by the wayside, and he hung up a cup near to it by a little chain. He was told some time after that a great art-critic had found much fault with its design. “But,” said he, “do many thirsty persons drink at it?” Then they told him that thousands of poor people, men, women, and children, slaked their thirst at this fountain; and he smiled and said, that he was little troubled by the critic’s observation, only he hoped that on some sultry summer’s day the critic himself might fill the cup, and be refreshed, and praise the name of the Lord.

Here is my fountain, and here is my cup: find fault if you please; but do drink of the water of life. I only care for this. I had rather bless the soul of the poorest crossing-sweeper, or rag-gatherer, than please a prince of the blood, and fail to convert him to God.


No Appeal to the Flesh

1:27AM, Wednesday, September 5, 2007

I’m making a note here of some things Charles Spurgeon said in order to analyze it later this week.

Our Savior did not use any means which might enlist man’s lower nature on his side. When I have heard of large congregations gathered together by the music of a fine choir, I have remembered that the same thing is done at the opera house and the music-hall, and I have felt no joy. When we have heard of crowds enchanted by the sublime music of the pealing organ, I have seen in the fact rather a glorification of St. Cecilia than of Jesus Christ. Our Lord trusted in no measure or degree to the charms of music for the establishing his throne. He has not given to his disciples the slightest intimation that they are to employ the attractions of the concert room to promote the kingdom of heaven.

I find no rubric in Scripture commanding Paul to clothe himself in robes of blue, scarlet, or violet; neither do I find Peter commanded to wear a surplice, an alb, or a chasuble. The Holy Spirit has not cared even to hint at a surpliced choir, or at banners, processions, and processional hymns. Now, if our Lord had arranged a religion of fine shows, and pompous ceremonies, and gorgeous architecture, and enchanting, music, and bewitching incense, and the like, we could have comprehended its growth; but he is “a root out of a dry ground”, for he owes nothing to any of these.

Christianity has been infinitely hindered by the musical, the aesthetic, and the ceremonial devices of men, but it has never been advantaged by them, no, not a jot. The sensuous delights of sound and sight have always been enlisted on the side of error, but Christ has employed nobler and more spiritual agencies. Things which fascinate the senses are left to be the chosen instruments of Antichrist, but the gospel, disdaining Saul’s armor, goes forth in the natural simplicity of its own might, like David, with sling and stone. Our holy religion owes nothing whatever to any carnal means; so far as they are concerned, it is “a root out of a dry ground.”

(Charles Spurgeon, A Root Out of Dry Ground, 1872)