Thursday, January 31, 2008

Unequally Yoked

II Cor.6:14 - Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

The phrase “unequally yoked” would be understood by the readers of that day as they envisioned two oxen, yoked together for work, plowing the fields together, and headed toward the same goal. It is essential that the two beasts of burden plow in harmony and in concert with the guidance and direction of the farmer. To have one oxen veering west and the other east would be unproductive chaos and would not achieve the agricultural goal of straight lines and trenches that were being dug to receive seed and eventually bring forth a harvest. Both oxen must be under the same yoke in order to insure a unified partnership in labor, direction, and overall purpose.

So the Apostle Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit presents a teaching that runs consistently through the entirety of II Corinthians chapter 6. The chapter begins with addressing us as workers together with Him in the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul illustrates the necessity of the coming trials and persecutions that will accompany our labor in the Lord, and his word “together” in verse 1 brings the first shadow of the word “yoke” to which he will later refer. We are all to be yoked together with Christ and in that we are yoked with each other.

But beginning with verse 3 Paul exhorts us to be vigilant in order not to compromise our ministry as believers in Christ. He warns against giving an offense that reflects badly upon the ministry and the different outward expressions that would safeguard the sacredness and authenticity of our ministry. As he gets to verse 14 Paul warns against becoming “unequally yoked” in the work and ministry of the Lord Jesus. All this in the context of being workers together with Jesus Christ Himself. This has been used as a warning to many Christians not to marry unbelievers and the principle does indeed apply, but that is not the primary teaching within the context of chapter 6.


Look at verse 14 and see the admonition about being yoked in kingdom work with unbelievers. But it is remarkable that in this instance Paul refers to unbelievers as unrighteousness, darkness, Belial, infidels, and idolaters. Why is Paul using such harsh language concerning unbelievers? It is because of the damage that can be done by this unscriptural union.

I. Being unequally yoked with unbelievers can compromise the believer in the way he sees God’s work and in the way he sees the condition of the unbeliever. Many unbelievers are very nice and friendly and even compassionate and yes, even spiritual, and yet still decisively lost. And yet while working with them in some noble humanitarian cause their affability and friendship can sometimes soften the believer’s Biblical view of their circumstance. I have seen this happen when a believer is praying for a person’s conversion and after working with them to help people they have a noticeably different assessment of their spiritual condition. The believer has been compromised because he has disobeyed Paul’s command.

II. Being unequally yoked can compromise the unbeliever in the way he sees himself. Many times such a joint humanitarian venture gives the unbeliever some comfort that he is just as spiritual as his Christian friend in that he cares for the poor (etc.) just like God likes. The Deceiver uses the humanitarian yoke as a blindfold to convince the unbeliever that doing good works, especially for the poor and especially with professing Christians, confirms him as approved of God. I have seen it happen many times and the unbeliever’s spiritual view has been compromised because the believer disobeyed Paul’s command.

III. Being unequally yoked can compromise the way in which the world understands salvation. Imagine two people, one a believer and one an unbelieving person who believes that Jesus was a good teacher, and as they begin to give out food to poor people one person thanks them. The Christian replies that the food comes from Jesus and the unbeliever verbally agrees. What a confusing mess. When the church joins with non-Christian humanitarian organizations they sound an uncertain sound to the lost world which Paul again addressed in I Corinthians. The spiritual view of the world has been compromised because the church disobeyed Paul’s command.


Paul list some characterizations concerning believers that are meant to be telling about us and our separation from unbelievers in doing kingdom and gospel work in this sin darkened world. Paul refers to us as righteousness, light, Christ, believers, and the Temple of God. The purpose of these terms is to give some perspective to us about who we actually are in Christ and the importance of maintaining that sacred distinction personally, collectively, and to the entire world.

I. We are a royal priesthood, a peculiar people, and a chosen generation before God. God had said to His people Israel that he had put a difference between them and the Egyptians. God commanded them not to intermingle with the idolater and heathen, and even with all the commandments from the Lord Israel still desired fellowship and compromise with their unbelieving neighbors. But remember, we are not just the people of God, we reflect the priesthood that was exclusively given to Aaron’s descendents but now is every born again believer’s birthright. We must carry our ministry on staves of faith, consumed with holding it above the cursed earth, and revealing the untarnished gospel of Christ with our lives and ministry. We must never allow unsaved hands to help carry the ark of God's presence and ministry.

II. We are commissioned followers of the Most High God. We cannot afford detours and dilution, we must boldly go forth without the camp proclaiming His gospel to the entire world. Our charitable works must be many but they must exclusively showcase His glorious gospel and never be mixed with the deeds of unbelievers. We must be viewed as different. Loving and merciful, bold and humble, patient and caring, but all these things will be mired in confusion if we are not different. What then is our difference? It must be and always has been the Lord Jesus Christ. We bear His reproach and if our deeds are refused because of His offense then so be it. Better to be refused because of Jesus than accepted without Him.

III. We are God’s dwelling place, His Temple. We are the living breathing church of the Risen Christ. Our lives and witness is the church where people need to see Jesus the Christ. In our Sunday services we do not have Muslims or Jews or unbelievers take up our offerings or oversee our food banks or any aspect of our ministry. Why? Because they are not the church of Christ, we are. We do not need unbelievers to reach out to people in humanitarian love, we are commanded to do so in Jesus name. We are God’s house and joining with dead shells brings a reproach upon Jesus Himself. Let us keep God’s Temple holy and separate from compromise.


Look at verses 16 through 18 and see how Paul sees the church as it concerns her separation from the unclean world. God says that He will be our God and we will be His people and that He will dwell and walk in us. What an unfathomable privilege! And because of that privilege God commands us to come out from among the heathen and be different and separate.

I. Jesus lives in us and walks in us as well. How can the world see Jesus in us if we look, act, and speak just like they do? As followers of Christ we leave our former vomit and seek to emulate Christ and His work. Joining in that endeavor with unbelievers compromises the mission completely because our mission is to preach Christ and Him crucified and risen. We do not primarily seek to feed the poor, we seek to raise the dead by offering them the Bread of Life. The unbeliever stops at earthly bread because that is all he knows.

II. God says He will receive us as we separate ourselves as vessels fit for the Master’s use. The anointing of God falls not on unclean vessels but on sanctified followers whose command is God’s desire. Our separation must not be haughty or self righteous, but it must be revealed in a humble and self denying way. We can still fellowship with the lost in order to shine our lights but we cannot enter into kingdom work with them. Make no mistake, feeding the poor is gospel work when it is done in Jesus name and as a platform for His message of redemption.

III. Finally the Lord says in verse 18 that when we seek Him in this world He will reveal Himself as a Father to sons and daughters. How intimate and wondrous! How can the world ever feel the urge to ask us for the hope that lies within us if they never realize we have a dramatically different hope? How can the world ever smell the fragrance of the Heavenly Father in His children when we are unequally joined with them? We cannot join with infidels who reject the Lord Christ and as a matter of fact the ones who some join with should be the objects of our ministry and surely not our "partners".

Joining “forces” with unbelievers to feed the poor, or heal the sick, or promote peace in an official capacity that recognizes some artificial partnership between believers and unbelievers is a direct violation of Scripture. Of course help put out the fire in your neighbor’s house with the help of unbelievers, of course join with unbelievers to help at the scene of an automobile accident, those and other examples are just straw men that hide the issue. The Church of Jesus Christ can never be unequally yoked with unbelievers in any official kingdom endeavor because it is the souls of those unsaved humanitarians that Christ seeks to save, not enter into a partnership. Let organizations donate food under our banner, but we carry His name and work exclusively for Him and with a pure gospel message. We as the New Testament Levites must minister to God and His work only yoked to the Lord Jesus alone.

Come out from among them and be ye separate says the Lord.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Nine Headed Idol

Ps.20:7 - Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.

As I listened to Christian radio the other day I heard a famous Christian leader call for special prayer regarding this year’s presidential elections. His contention was that God wanted Godly leaders in office and our prayers could tip the balance in November of 2008. I heard him recall organizing numerous gatherings for national days of prayer for such a time as the upcoming election which he said was the most important election in our lifetime.

Now in full disclosure I have departed ways from America about eight years ago and I believe God has opened my eyes to see a major deception in the understanding of the church. America is not a Christian nation nor has it ever been. Its very constitution declares that no religion will be established, and even though many if not most of the founders of America were professing Christians without being evangelical as we now understand it, the country quickly morphed into an amalgamation of many different religions, denominations, and hedonistic pursuits. It never was established as Christian and the name of Jesus is conspicuously absent both in the Declaration of independence and the constitution.

We enjoy freedom here, but there are other countries where the body of Christ is more pure and dedicated to Christ than here. A country like China comes to mind where believers are not captured by hedonism and avarice, and prayer is of paramount importance. Practicing one’s faith could cost a believer his life and with that over their heads they continue to serve Christ under persecution. Our freedom has its benefits, but I fear it has become an elixir that has played for us a sweet song and put us to sleep. We now look toward elections to accomplish God’s will.

But what was this Christian’s point about praying for this election and why it is so important to elect the right candidate? It was, he said, because the next president may have the opportunity to appoint four or even five Supreme Court justices. He did not say anything about souls, he did not mention overseas missions, and he did not say anything about the church in need of revival. He said it was the Supreme Court. And as I listened it became clear to me that this court has become a nine headed idol to many in the church.

Where did we lose the axe head, and where did we begin to believe the Holy Spirit could bring in God’s kingdom through the dirty business of politics? It is estimated that as much as several billion dollars might be spent on this coming election year, all in an obscene attempt to gain power through unfulfilled promises and inflated estimates of man’s power and intelligence. The entire spectacle is of this world and indeed necessary in the affairs of men, but where and how has the church come to the conclusion that God desires His body to become involved? God is sovereign and sits in august oversight over all of us, but the Lord Jesus’ command was for us to preach the gospel to every creature, even to the uttermost parts of the earth, Nowhere does the New Testament imply we should become entangled with the affairs of the government and in fact, democracy was invented later by the humanistic Greeks who desired the god-like human figure to have the final say in his own government.

But now we look toward elections and soothe our spiritual consciences by organizing convenient prayer meetings to spiritualize that which is carnal and fleshly. Judgment must begin at the house of God and God has stated that it is His people who stand accountable to Him. Martin Luther did not nail the 95 thesis to the door of congress, no, it was on the door to Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. I believe the beginning of such a desire for political participation began when the God’s people wanted a king like the heathen nations they had observed. They chose Saul and the rest is history. Perhaps some of the candidates are decent individuals, but that is God’s concern not ours. If we call prayer meetings, and we should, let us repent before God for our own spiritual compromise and entreat the Lord for a revival that will awaken the church and spread the name of Jesus Christ across the entire planet!

And so the politically active wing of evangelicalism believes the Supreme Court is our answer, and by electing a “conservative” president he will appoint judges that will overturn Roe v. Wade. And if that unlikely scenario should transpire what will happen? The entire abortion issue is returned to each individual state for them to decide, or even a national referendum will be voted upon, after all, this is a democracy. But we as believers are not commissioned to convince the world of morality, we are ambassadors of Jesus Christ, holding up His redemption, His cross, His resurrection, and the august glory of His divine personhood! That is our calling and to which we are anointed.

Please, dear one, please, do not succumb to the nationalistic and political deception. Daniel’s prayers and the spiritual battle they commenced were not fought within the presidential palace of Persia, they were violently fought in the heavenlies, and so is our battle not with flesh and blood and not with carnal weapons but with the power of the Spirit to defeat principalities and powers and to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout a lost and dying world. Our battle is not in any ballot box, ours is in the prayer closet standing upon the foundation of the Word of God. Our faith must be wholly in God and His Word, not in the political aspirations of any party or politician. I do not question the genuineness of any Christian who either runs for office or becomes involved in the political process, I just happen to feel we’ve been led astray and have left the feet of Christ for the political kitchen of Martha. Has it accomplished much in all our efforts?

A new and fresh wave of God’s Spirit is blowing in parts of Christ’s body, and although most churches will pass out voting pamphlets and encourage prayer and participation in the upcoming slugfest, the number of believers who are rejecting that avenue is growing and with that rejection many are finding spiritual freedom and awakening. The country we seek is in the Spirit, one whose builder and maker is God. Our citizenship is in heaven and our very lives are in Christ with God, so come out from among them and be ye separate. Not with smugness and arrogance or with judgment, but with prayerful humility and the love of God.

Pray for the nation, but more fervently pray for the church. Judgment must begin at God’s house and God isn’t looking to change an earthly nation, He looks to transform His own people. We as God’s people are in desperate need of a revival, and as long as we keep our eyes upon America and her sins we will be blind to the grievous sins within the camp of the people called by God’s own Name. Changing the makeup of the Supreme Court is a pitiful goal and has never been our holy calling, our commission is eternally higher than any man made political structure.

We have been called to the greatest of all callings, to preach the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ to every creature in every part of this fallen world. The Holy Spirit will give us power to accomplish that divine commandment, but as long as we continue mired in the affairs of men we will never fulfill that which Jesus Himself has commissioned us to do. Let 2008 be a year of repentance and spiritual liberation for us all to go where God directs, speak what God tells us to speak, hold high God’s Holy Word, and make an unswerving commitment to the prayer closet. Take your eyes off this world and look unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.

Redeeming the time because the days are evil…

Monday, January 28, 2008

Followers of Jesus

Follow Me. Believe on Me. These terms are inseparable as it applies to a true Christian. One cannot be a genuine believer and not be a follower of Jesus Christ. Believing on Jesus is not a chicken donating eggs to the breakfast, it is the pig giving himself in entirety. When a light is plugged into an electrical socket and it doesn't light something is wrong. Either the bulb is deficient, or the plug is not secure, or the electricity is not connecting to the bulb. Who turns on a light switch and no light comes on and they consider that normal? And when the person goes to the breaker box to check the breaker, and then they change the bulb, and finally they check the outlet are they considered judgmental because they deemed the unlit bulb as not connected to the electricity?

Let me make an overgeneralization ("Adroit at that you are", says Yoda. ) so I can make a point more clearly. Some Christians emphasize the doctrinal aspect of Christianity at the expense of the practical issues of projecting Christ in their earthly lives. Others downplay any concrete doctrinal creeds while emphasizing displaying the humanitarian aspects of the life of Jesus. Both should be an important part of a believing followers life. A disciple of Jesus should seek to know Him and His truth through God’s eternal Word and all that it reveals. Doctrine is just a way to organize the teachings of Scripture and it is foundationally important to a diligent follower of the Lord Jesus.

From the foundation of doctrinal truth naturally springs the sacrificial aspects of living and behaving like Jesus Himself, but Jesus exists today as a Spirit in the earth as well. It is possible and also easily seen that we can all get so enamored with our doctrinal dissecting that we lose the fragrant revelation of the Spirit of Christ. It is the distinct difference between algebra and poetry, between painting a wall or painting a portrait, or between reading the newspaper or reading Shakespeare. Jesus lives inside every true believer and He should be allowed to live through the crucified life of a transparent earthen vessel. That of course is much easier said than done but so is the study required to become doctrinally mature.

The longest chapter in the Scriptures is Psalm 119 and it deals almost exclusively with seeking and knowing God’s Word. Jesus Himself is the incarnate Word which was from the beginning, so before we can emulate His life we must know His life through His Word. The Words of Jesus are not just information or guidelines, they are not just historical narratives embolden in red, they are life to our spirits and meat to our bones. They are lights to our paths and they are salvation to our souls. It is impossible to fully and completely describe the paramount importance of God’s Word and the truths they teach. To seek, to know, to meditate, to memorize, to delight, to share, and to believe, and to receive His life through His Word is the joy of our journey and without that light we stumble in darkness. It is Jesus Himself.

But let us all remember that our Savior is full of grace and mercy, and His incarnate humility is not just for inspection, it is for emulation as well. We must follow Jesus without a partiality. And our following of the Savior is not a spectator theological sport, no, it is an active and mirrored participation. So beware and count the cost before you gleefully assume God is on our side or any side. Come, let us follow Him for a while.

Follow and imitate Him as He teaches God’s Word, but also follow and imitate Him as He receives the sin cursed spittle upon His face. Oh yes, we can easily feel the reward of people listening to our words but can we feel and appreciate the wetness of their disgusting rejection? Follow and imitate Him as He gains multitudes of lips that praise Him, but also follow and imitate Him as the multitudes leave Him because of the same Words that drew them. Can we speak forcefully and eloquently to the MacLarens of this world without ever just as forcefully and eloquently speak to ourselves? Follow and imitate Him as He verbally assaults the Deceiver in the wilderness, but also follow and imitate Him as He stands silent before His shearers. Follow and imitate Him as He overturns the money changer’s tables in the Temple, but also follow and imitate Him as He weeps over Jerusalem and their rebellion against their God.

We cannot chose which aspect of our Lord’s life we get to follow, we must follow them all. If we do not cry sometimes we cannot rebuke. If we show no mercy we cannot stand in judgment. If we will not forbear sometimes then we must not call for accountability. And if our words never need repentance sometimes then we should keep silent. To follow Jesus leads sometimes to discomfort, inconvenience, humility, and the spiritual embarrassment of occasionally having our shortcomings accurately pointed out by our very own adversaries. Swallow that, enjoy that, receive that kind of God ordained rebuke and correction and you and I have literally taken our real first steps toward following Jesus. Care to turn back now? Or better still, let’s do what most are doing, either make excuses or redefine the context so as to justify pretty much everything we do.

It is at this point that I guess I should say that sometimes we should speak boldly and forcefully against the tide of error because that gives people like me some breathing room. When we deal with issues like this it tends to make the discernment flesh nervous because as we speak of following Christ it needs constant reassurance that it will be allowed to rebuke and reprove. I really don’t want to dull the sword’s edge when it comes to me, I want it every bit as sharp and cutting as I desire it for others. I need a very sharp sword for my flesh because I am very adept at deflecting the Word and have the most painful elements ricochet toward others and away from me. That is as much a deception as the emergent movement.

The Word must be free to call us to the Master, personally, not just His doctrinal creed. This journey of following Jesus is joyful and difficult, secure and unsettling, rewarding and correcting, and it requires times of deep self reflection which may end with the Spirit of God illuminating the most disgusting traits of our own fleshly heart. It is those times which will reveal whether we indeed have the courage to admit and confess our own sin as zealously as we do the sins of others. And will we also have the vulnerable courage to reveal it publicly if necessary if the Spirit dictates? Would you and I post something like this?

Oh yea, this following Jesus thing is infinitely deeper and more sacrificial than we’ve ever preached or taught it. I find it easy to let a car ahead of me in line - I find it hard to sit in that line. I find it easy to respond graciously to a store clerk’s greeting - I find it hard to offer that same gracious response to a clerk who is discourteous and curt. I find it easy to confront the teachings of the emergent movement and their leaders - I find it hard to remember to pray for them. I find it easy to receive God’s financial blessing - I find it hard to part with it. I find it easy sometimes to write about these things - I find it very hard to do what I write. I guess on some level that makes me a…a…well...the “h” word. You know. But in reality, we only become hypocrites when we proclaim we have accomplished the pursuit and we have arrived.

Like dynamite without a fuse or a bullet without gun powder, so is doctrine without a corresponding revelation from it’s adherents. Let us follow our Lord Jesus, wherever He might lead. Do not become disturbed, He will not lead us anywhere that goes against His Word. We have used that tired truth as a protection against our comfortable discipleship. But Jesus will not lead us anywhere that contradicts His Word, He doesn’t have to, there are so many parts and teachings in His Word that are as yet unfilled in His body He has an infinite Scriptural menu with which to deal with. Try these on for size (below) and after we all like Biblical taxidermists gut them and present them like Biblical trophies, dead and lifeless on our doctrinal walls of self righteous comfort, we can all retire for the night secure in the knowledge that we are followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is of course unless you want to argue about the term itself…

Lk.14:33 - Likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsakes not all that he has cannot be my disciple.

Phil.2:3 - Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

I Cor.13:1-3 - Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels and have not love, I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned and have not love, it profits me nothing.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Emergent or Emerging?

In today’s parlance we can use them as synonyms. Please do not get your intelligence questioned when someone says “I’m not emergent, I’m emerging” as if there is any significant difference. As a matter of fact, neither has any statement of faith or doctrinal parameters with which to define them. So without any definition offered by those in the movements, I will now provide my own subjective definition while attempting to be honest in my observation. I realize ahead of time that many emergent types will disagree with everything but the most generous definition that doesn’t showcase the negative. I no longer care to waste time discussing the issue with emergents (those who I’ve designated as such).

So here it is. The emergent/emerging movement is a collection of people who have rejected the standard doctrinal truths, or at least have put everything on the table. Even when pressed about orthodox doctrines some of the more “conservative” wings reluctantly acquiesce to them but many times with some type of apologetic caveat, as if they are ashamed of espousing truth.

So as a point of order, all who have no doctrinal moorings, or who claim they do but gather with those who do not, or live worldly and careless lives, or who recommend books by professing emergents, or have emergents preach in their pulpit, or write forwards in emergent books, or who deny the “heaven or hell” gospel motivation, or any number of other manifestations that either now exist or will be spawned in the future, all of these I will collectively call “emergent”. See how simple?

So do not get caught up with the “But I’m not emergent” or “He’s not emergent” argument because it is another avenue of the discourse catacombs without any rationale or resolution. Just use the Frueh theological dictionary and call them/him/her “emergent”. Bell, Hybels, Warren, MacLaren, etc., etc., etc., all emergent. It makes it so much easier for a backward fundamentalist like me.

And when viewed in the post modern context and against the backdrop of church history, they’re all emergent anyway.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

What Are Attacks?

What are personal attacks and what is the difference between doctrinal confrontation and verbal assaults aimed at the person and with the intent to cause harm to him or her personally? We as Christians must strive, however imperfectly, to speak forcefully about Bible truths while asking the Spirit to keep us humble, emotionally dispassionate, and very careful to avoid personal verbiage about the teachers of the doctrines with which we differ. Let me provide some examples.

I have heard Rob Bell preach and speak and he seems like a charming family man who is much more intelligent than am I. The same with Erwin Macmanus when I saw an interview on television, he was very articulate and engaging. I have read Brian MacLaren and by all accounts he is a gentle and humble man who probably makes friends easily. The personalities and personal lives of these men should have no bearing upon my strong disagreement with their doctrinal teachings, and my labeling of “heretic” is within doctrinal parameters. I would feel sad to hear if any of them were sick or were getting a divorce or even had an affair, those are not my issues and the information about those things doesn’t come from their own pen. I feel that Bell and MacManus are probably brothers in Christ, but even if I did not I still should avoid any personal attacks.

The doctrinal dialogue will continue to get more heated and we must not get carried away with the emotion and the personalities involved. We must humbly be true to the teachings of Jesus Christ as revealed in the 66 books we know as Holy Scripture. Paul issued many such admonitions/attacks in his epistles complete with the word heretic and heresies. He also said the Scriptures were beneficial for rebuke and reproof and he even said to reject those who would not repent of their doctrinal error. We should be very careful about using satire or personal invectives about anyone including the unsaved, but we should not recoil at making strong, Scriptural rebukes and confront those teachings which do despite unto the Word of God.

Those who ,stand for truth, however imperfectly, will be verbally assaulted in many different ways. We will be accused of attacking others, misrepresenting the doctrinal stands of others, and being intransigent Pharisees. We must strive to not justify those labels but still speaking forcefully about our convictions. Those that have significantly strayed are not coming back absent a providential miracle of God’s grace, but our ministry is to those who have not yet been deceived or are still to be added to God’s family.

We also must not rest on our doctrinal laurels and discontinue to scour the Scriptures to both freshly substantiate our beliefs and also find rebuke and reprove in the Word for our own lives. Our doctrinal battles must not prevent us from hungering and thirsting for the Word of Life and our Savior’s face revealed in them. Our devotional life must not be a causality of doctrinal combat and in time it is redefined and actually gets lost in the fray. Our first calling is to seek Christ in our own lives and with that comes a responsibility to reject and confront error.

I am not wearied by personal attacks or demeaning adjectives for without the grace of God I am all of those and much, much more. I am a certifiable nobody and my voice is very small among the many voices on both sides. My writings are in obedience to what I cannot deny is the Spirit’s calling in my life and my miniscule talents, I can do no less. It is difficult to speak boldly while reflecting humility and conversely it is difficult to speak humbly and still be bold. So there are times where my words seem harsh and even prideful, but if there is any of me in them I publicly denounce me and my flesh because that is not my intention. God has chosen to use imperfect earthen vessels and with that comes many liabilities which are often represented in our flesh. A word choice, a fleshly emotion, or even a mistaken assumption are just a few of the errors we all are sometimes guilty of, but let us never be satisfied with those.

I am not representing and defending myself, I honestly believe I am contending for God’s Word. If you are not convinced of that then you should remain silent. And then there is that “love thing”. Do I love Rob Bell or Brian MacLaren or the others as God would have of me? No, I admit, I do not. I must pray for them everyday and especially when I write about their teachings and use their names. They have families, loved ones, spouses, and children who can easily become casualties if our spirits do not reflect genuine love and concern in the midst of our disagreement. Being in the pastorate, I know the hurt someone’s family can suffer at the words of others. We must be lovingly careful without compromise either in our love or God’s truth.
So we should contend not attack, but we should endure attacks with patience and forgiveness.

Never respond to an attack and especially within the first week, give the Spirit the time to circumcise your flesh. Our battle is not with flesh and blood and names like Bell, Warren, Pagitt, and others are no better or worse than ours. It is truth as taught in God’s Word that is the issue, and it is the spirits of wickedness and error with which we wrestle. The only flesh I should be battling is my own and that battle is a full time occupation and if our attacks don’t include our own flesh then we are hypocrites.

Endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Incredible Ignorance

Rom.16:17, 18 - Now I beseech you brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which you have learned and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.

There exists within the evangelical church in America a spirit of ignorance, in fact, incredible ignorance. You have churches contouring their services to identify with certain portions of the community and culture at the expense of solid Biblical teaching. Beds and cars and other objects have made their way to the stage and are visuals for the preacher as he gives “good advice” messages that many times could be delivered by Dr. Phil or Dr. Laura. It sometimes goes beyond the bizarre.

Some time ago well meaning Christians began a church called XXX church and was focused on reaching men especially who had fallen into pornography. Their motives aside, their method is unbiblical. These men did not fall into pornography because there was no XXX church to strengthen them, no, they went into sin because they were unsaved, or because of their shallow devotional life, the surface teaching at their church, or their lack of wisdom and accountability. The elephant in the room is that the church that these men now attend is not sufficient to help them into repentance and victory, and the evidence for that is well documented.

But this church has produced a wicked video that has a puppet, yes I said puppet, who tells kids who probably know nothing about pornography to stay away from pornography complete with a cameo appearance from an unsaved male adult film "star" who takes a position that sex is between consenting adults and not children. How wonderful to teach our children. And of course many emergent types hail this type of straight forward talk, but would they still preach its praises if the puppet said to stay away from homosexuality? Alcohol? Cigarettes? Soap operas? R rated movies (which I consider mostly pornography)? There are many people who are overcoming some addictions through the power of human organization and education and not the power of God. And the Scriptures never give any indication that churches should cull out one particular sin and make it the church moniker.

The church has been called to lift high the Lord Jesus Christ and preach His gospel. We have not been called to extricate sinners from pornography or drugs or alcohol or any other sin, no, our mission is to bring the salvation that only comes through Jesus to a lost and dying world and let Christ do the rest. A cleaned up life is a result of salvation not the goal. There is no such thing as the xxxchurch or the Budweiser church or the cocaine church, only the church of Jesus Christ. It is and always will be heaven or hell, that is our message through Christ and as articulated by the words of our Lord in Jn.3:16. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shall be saved. There are many well intentioned ideas that are not from God but many have lost the discernment to recognize the subtle counterfeits.

Once you become untethered from God’s Word you can create many religious looking institutions and movements that unsuspecting people see as helpful but in reality they are small, medium, and giant steps toward apostasy. If a rifle is moved one degree off its target it will be 1 ½ feet off target every mile and it will continue to become more and more off target as the bullet continues to travel. So it is with Biblical issues, when they begin with significant error they do not just continue with that degree of error, no, they continue to get worse. Now all that is compounded when the target is wrong to begin with, such is the nature of deception. The deceived person is ignorant, sometimes willingly and sometimes not, of his ignorance.

And so this incredible ignorance presses on, collecting followers as it goes, and if it cannot convert people it will at least waste the time of true believers through useless, meaningless, and pointless dialogue. How many of you waste your time discoursing with believers in the health and wealth movement? Not many and what is the reason? Because not only is it a waste of time, but the theology is so off base that it cannot be given any legitimacy at all. So must now the emergent movement be viewed. We should know by now that the entire movement is heading the wrong way and as of yet I have seen very few repent and return to solid Biblical theology.

Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears. It is over. What is over, you ask. Let me explain. I have a saying that reveals my feelings about certain things when they get so out of bounds they no longer deserve the energy it takes to search for any good. The saying is “It’s like looking for a nickel in a spittoon”. I apply that saying in all seriousness as it applies to the emerging/emergent church movement. But what about men like Kimball and Driscoll and others whose professed theology seems within acceptable parameters? Sadly, those men might just be the most dangerous of all since it is they who offer cover and some credibility to the others. The question must be asked if those men really believe what they say they do then why do they allow themselves to be yoked in any way with men like MacLaren, Bell, and Pagitt, all of whom are heretics according to me?

These are dark days for the church of Jesus Christ and millions are being systematically deceived by many mediums and the strength of men’s personalities. And what a clever and insidious deception it is, I mean who can argue with feeding the poor, ministering to the sick, and standing for social justice? The devil has ingenuously made it seem like those of us who believe that the work of Christ was completely an atonement are against such acts of love. But we must remain faithful to God’s Word while at the same time recognizing with sincerity that we ourselves are in desperate need of a revival. The absolute worst thing that can ever happen is that we get puffed up and self righteous as we warn others, God’s Spirit is not in that spirit. In my humble opinion it would do us well if we withdraw from conversing or dialoging with the emergent crowd, especially those who are entrenched. Back and forth confrontation serves little if any purpose and a much more productive journey is to seek Christ and His face while not being ignorant of these deceptions. Surely it is a delicate balance.

Like Gideon’s men, we must never become so absorbed in watching for the enemy that we quit drinking the living water. Defending Christ must not become our obsession but Christ Himself must be our living obsession. The times will get worse and as a matter of fact they are much worse than you or I actually realize. Apostasy is much more rampant than we know and like lava it captures more and more territory every moment. Good people, believers that are truly saved, have been captured by this deception and are now defenders of the new and detractors of the old. Truth transcends tense. Let not your hearts be troubled my brothers and sisters, God has already prevailed. Do not rub your hands in worry or let doubt arise in your hearts, it is still a privileged joy to serve the Risen Christ and the Father God.

Seek His face, raise His banner, and let us go without the camp, bearing His reproach, and heralding the same good news that delivered us from the kingdom of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of God’s Dear Son!!

Monday, January 14, 2008

What is the Love of God

Jude 21 - Keeping yourselves in the love of God...

Have you ever stopped to contemplate (uh..oh) just what is love? Now on an earthly level love comes first as love for our mothers and fathers. This is kinship love that comes from an innate, God given quality and also the connection with nourishment and protection. Then comes the love we learn to have for our extended family members because of their kindness and also that we are taught to love them. Love for a mate and love for our children and grandchildren naturally follows. But what is God’s love exhibited through a believer in Jesus Christ?

Some say love is telling people the truth and of course it contains that essential component, however it goes much deeper and more personal than that. Love doesn’t just point out the wounds to the wounded, it binds up those same wounds. Love doesn’t just speak the gospel and feel you’ve accomplished your religious responsibility, love grieves for those who reject it. Love doesn’t revel in its orthodoxy, love intercedes for those who have strayed. Love says like Moses, kill me and let them live. Love says like Paul, I wish I was accursed and not others.

God’s love flowing through a human being reaches, reaches, and reaches further still to those objects of God’s love. God’s love renders its recipients as undone and broken, and those who truly understand the colossal ramifications of Christ’s love in their lives can never be prideful or self righteous. We who have never deserved one microscopic sliver of God’s love must exhibit that same love to others. True love, real love, eternal love, God’s love. We are prone to either exhibit conditional love which in God’s vernacular isn’t love at all, or we exhibit a reasonable facsimile of what we have constructed as “God‘s love“. Jesus said if we just love those who love us then we are just like the heathen.

God’s love did not just inform sinful man of his condition, it interceded for us sinners and ultimately took our place. All this while we yet sinners. It is unfathomable, and against that gracious truth I am stretched to find an example of that kind of love in my own life. Love that dies for its enemies, love that intercedes for those who hates it, love that knows no partiality and is always the whole and never in part. What kind of love is that? Can you not see that we have settled for a comfortable and doctrinal love, one that requires little if any sacrifice, one that can be preached with many “amens” but few tears, and whose ecclesiastical expression falls infinitely short of the Messianic exhibition revealed in the pages of Holy Writ?

We guard our exhibition of love so that we are never accused of compromise because of the nature of our love’s object although that sums up the entire narrative of the incarnation. Read the blog comments and see some say “I love you” as a mock and without the corresponding demonstration that those words should, no MUST, require. Months ago I felt led to participate on a blog that most orthodox and reformed believers consider liberal among other things. Now I do not agree with many of the positions but with, hopefully, a different heart. I was criticized and castigated not because I had changed my Biblical views, but because I had the audacity to rub shoulders with brothers in Christ with whom I disagreed.

I contend it is impossible to love people with God’s love unless you get to know people and that love is tested. Words are meaningless and can be spoken by Manson as well as a Christian. My report card on that venture is mixed but it showed me where I was lacking, revealed to me elements of my own pride, and that saved sinners seem to exhibit the same traits around the theological spectrum. It also should allow the Spirit to expand the eyes of our understanding in that we no longer view people, and especially brothers and sisters, as enemies. Those with whom we disagree have mates, children, wounds, imperfections, heartaches, and some have a heart for Jesus even if we consider it misguided in areas.

You can love MacArthur but can you love MacLaren? Maybe we would never allow some unsaved metal band to rent our church building but can we love them and reach out to them? And when those same precious souls become aware of the discussion about them, one that they cannot understand, do we carelessly print the words of their songs for public disdain and ridicule? I would not rent a church building to them but neither would I uncover their sin which love should cover. It is so easy to print objectionable words of sinners but much, much harder is it to shed tears and go before Christ on their behalf. We surely want to flaunt our separation before the church so that everyone is aware that we disapprove of sinner’s sins! And to name them personally is unconscionable. I think I remember a story about people posting an adulteress’s sins on a blog before Jesus and they didn’t seem to get the response from Him they were looking for. Jesus knelt down and wrote a post of His own on His own earthen blog and there were no comments from the contributors. Well, Jesus is still the same.

Loving the sinners of the world is risky business and the church has used their sins to promote our own self righteousness. Watch this year as the evangelical world posts the sins of the politicians with whom they disagree and in so doing they stir up hatred for these men and women. Does our heart break for their eternal predicament or do their particular sins agitate us? How many criticisms have I read about Rosie O’Donnell, or Madonna, or many other lost people who walk in the kingdom that you and I used to call home? We have received God’s grace but have now demanded God’s law to our former spiritual roommates, and we have exposed their sins for all to see as a disfigured expression of our love but certainly not God’s love. God’s disfigured expression of His love is magnificent and is in and of itself a covering of sins. The cross displays the eternal love of God by exposing and covering our sins simultaneously in one confounding and passionate act of inexhaustible love.

So how do we correct and reprove while remaining in the love of God? I have no formula, I only know we are falling short of that goal and are content with our pitiful definitions of love. Words are not love, they are…um…words. The Scripture declares that God proved His love that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Where is our proof? Words? Maybe if we were gathering two and three times a week at the same building we would never rent out and crying out to God for those who we refused rent, and for those who offered rent, maybe then we could claim some kind of deeper love. Maybe if we stood outside the concert doors and offered free coffee and cocoa to the lost metal heads, maybe then we could claim a God like love. Maybe if we bought a ticket and endured the music in order to speak the gracious gospel to some inside, maybe then we could claim an unconditional love. “I would never do that, that would be compromise”, you say. Remember Jesus bought a ticket in Bethlehem to attend a world wide death metal concert so He could reach everyone inside. Praise His wonderful Name, I WAS ONE OF THOSE LOST CONCERT GOERS! Perhaps God saw me in an Alice Cooper death metal concert. Jude exhorts us to stay in God's love and then he says that through that we can make a difference in the lives of sinners. God's love does more than talk, it makes a difference.

I would never rent the church building to the unsaved, but I would encourage us to go their building. Love doesn’t insulate itself feeling smug about its separation, no, love gets dirty and contaminated and even…bloody. I have often felt good about my standards, but those are not my standards they are His and for His glory. Although I would disagree with people allowing church buildings to be used inappropriately, I would also strongly disagree and reprove those of us who would not only close our church doors but also walk on the other side of the street so as to avoid these wicked Samaritans. I have been so blessed to see the conversion of a man named Brian Welch who was a former member of a heavy metal band named Korn.

Someone loved him. Someone didn’t print his lyrics on a blog or make fun of his tattoos. Someone prayed for him and brought him to church to hear the gospel. Someone overlooked his sins and reached out to his soul. Someone took a risk and made friends with him, not considering what others might think, and in so doing the Spirit opened his heart one glorious night and he came to know the One who really loved him. I had tears in my eyes as he expressed his love for Jesus Christ. That my friends is unconditional love.

I am still on the journey…

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Savor of His Knowledge

II Cor.2:14 - Now thanks be unto God, which always causes us to triumph in Christ, and makes manifest the savor of His knowledge by us in every place.

What a verse. What a statement. What a challenge. The great Apostle starts with a praise to our God from whom all blessings flow. He is well aware that every good and perfect gift comes from God and as he states in chapter four, “Our sufficiency is of God”. Oh there is none like our God, none as gracious, none as powerful, and none as glorious as our Heavenly Father and the Risen Son. And all of our knowledge comes from God the Spirit and His illumination of our darkened minds and hearts. Let us never take a particle of praise for that which is all of God and none of us and even our sacrifice and labor to follow Him is all of Him.

And upon that unshakable foundation we move to the second phrase, one that includes God graciousness and power in concert. We all have a free will which in itself is a gift from God, but do not suppose that the strength of our wills is the power for spiritual victory. No, all our victory in the Spirit is caused by God and comes directly from Him through the Spirit. Well, you ask, doesn’t our will and our surrender play any part? Surely and of course, the New Testament is replete with commands to obey and the rewards that accompany that obedience, but when we contemplate the extent of our victory we must quickly see that God’s gift of victory in Christ is greatly disproportionate to our acts of obedience. What do I mean?

I am saying that although God responds to our obedience, the rewards and gifts of grace far surpass the acts of obedience we have offered unto Him. Like the laborer that came at 5:00 PM and only worked for one hour but received the same pay as those who worked the entire day, so is God’s reward for us so overstated and beyond what can be explained by our works of righteousness in Christ. His reward, His victory, graciously lavished upon us should never magnify us and our works but only the lift high the Victor Himself in all His magnificence. It is He who has caused us to triumph and not we ourselves, and it is His victory and His alone and He has graciously shared it with “whosever will” according to His divine will. Yes, to God be the glory great things He has done!

Move on to the words “makes manifest”. We as believers must be the manifestation of Christ on the earth. Paul says we are “epistles, read of all men” and the world no longer sees Christ except through the prism of His followers. God makes Christ manifest through us and that revelation becomes effective in direct proportion to our invisibility. We must decrease and He must increase. This process is both painful and yet wonderfully fulfilling. Letting God’s Word cut away our flesh and through faith and prayer we invite the Spirit to gain absolute control of our lives both inside and outwardly. This metamorphosis reaches its zenith when we begin to think like Jesus. Oh what a challenge is this because we have become adept at thinking for ourselves and altering those thoughts before we act upon them which is good but not best.

The Scriptures tell us we can have the mind of Christ and allow Him to think through us. What a mystery and what a glory! Would the world see something glorious in the body of Christ if we actually thought like Jesus and did not have to alter our thoughts but could immediately act on our thoughts because they were His not ours? What if we loved like Him without any effort? What if our devotional life was so powerful and deep that our eyes became portals through which Christ Himself looked and not us? What if our hearts were so pure that any thought that wasn’t from Christ was immediately recognized and cast down, repented of, and destroyed in the forgiveness of Christ’s blood?

Look at what the Spirit through Paul goes on to say. He says that our triumph does not result in any personal fame or fortune or even physical benefit, but God’s purpose is to let the fragrance of His knowledge be known in every place we go. Oh my, how often do we go to a place and the savor of His knowledge is not flowing through us? God’s desire is that He can make His presence known through His followers in every place. And the presence of Christ is a fragrance that draws sinners and saints alike. Like the sirens in Greek mythology, the fragrance of Christ is unmistakable and can only be resisted by a sinner’s hardened heart tied to the mast of his own will.

Think about all the many and wonderful attributes of the Lord Jesus as revealed to us in the Scriptures. I do not mean just His acts of mercy and grace, I refer just to His presence and His words. Jesus rebuked those who followed Him for loaves and fishes, and He observed that Martha’s work was subservient to Mary’s devotion. Think now about the proportion of time we spend doing something for Jesus in contrast to the time we spend alone with Him, listening, meditating, and letting His presence change us from glory to glory. Could it be that is why the world does not sense His presence through us as they should? Could that be the reason we think and react like we do, and could that be why we are so enamored by the things of this world and our own self-aggrandizement? Could that also be the reason that we give so little thought to the lost souls throughout the world and the missionaries that labor in those fields? Could that be the reason?

What do you surmise Mary felt when she was visited by the Archangel Gabriel? Do you believe his presence was astounding and brought a part of heaven into her room? The sight of this angel must have been indescribable and his voice must have been supernatural. Do you also believe there must have been some fragrance, some angelic savor that reinforced the fact that Gabriel had come from the presence of God Himself? Now if Gabriel came with that heavenly ambiance what do you suppose comes with the presence of Christ Himself? Oh, you say, but Gabriel really was there. Please, please my brothers and sisters do not negate that which God has many time promised those who seek His face. Do not be so faithless as to demand sight at the expense of the glory of faith.

We can and should be daily in God’s presence, and not just the general “God is everywhere” principle of His presence. We should separate ourselves and go beyond the veil and by faith enter into His presence. How can you know you are truly in God’s presence? Well first you will be convicted of your own sins. To sense God’s presence is to sense His holiness and if a sinner is unsaved he immediately desires salvation, and when it is a believer he immediately desires forgiveness through God’s blood. To walk in forgiveness is to walk in His Spirit and we must be careful to be sensitive to our sins. Careless lives can never bring God’s knowledge to the world, it only displays a mirror of themselves. They can fellowship with a carnal believer but they cannot sense God’s presence which is what they desperately need.

In God’s presence we can sense God’s love and grace through His forgiveness. Is it not amazing that God desires us to reflect Him and bring the glory of His presence to the world. And to find that God will work with us to change us and make us “fit for the Master’s use” is breathtaking. What is man that He is mindful of us, and why does God persevere with those of us who have so often been unfaithful? That is just another unplumbed cavern of God’s love and eternal faithfulness to us and such knowledge empowers us to press toward the high mark of His calling. Being an ambassador and a witness for Jesus Christ starts with the preaching of the gospel, but manifesting His knowledge is much deeper and more powerfully spiritual than just handing out a tract.

Missionaries around the world have lived among those to whom they wish to spread the gospel, but their ministry goes far beyond just words. They are being watched and read by the sinners Christ loves, and those lost sinners need a visual revelation of Jesus that will fortify and substantiate the Christ that is being preached. It is without argument that a sinner must hear and believe the gospel to be saved, but he must also see Christ in us so the Spirit may open his heart as well. That calling is not just to overseas missionaries, that is the calling of every believer. Can the lost people at work, the neighbors, or any people that God has allowed you to have contact with sense the presence of Christ in your life?

Now this living revelation of the Lord Jesus includes the humanitarian acts of grace that He Himself produced, but it also encompasses much more. The love of God empowers a life to behave in a way so contrary to the norm that people take notice. Speech that is so seasoned with salt and grace that those with whom we converse sense something different. And an overall ambiance that follows our lives that some will ask the reason for the hope that seems so evident within us. When was the last time someone asked you why you have such hope? We sometimes feel if we say a word for Jesus or pass out a tract or support a missionary that we have fulfilled our religious obligation when in fact our spiritual ministry is much more intimate and carries with it a much greater responsibility to exhibit the light of the world to the darkness of the world in which we live.

In essence, we are to let Jesus live through us. Too often the world has smelled the fragrance of the carnal church and its agendas and not the Risen Son of God. We must humble ourselves, separate ourselves, and seek His life changing presence again. When a believer gives his testimony it usually is about how he was saved and how God changed his life when he was converted, but when was the last time God significantly and demonstratively changed your life? When was the last time God so dramatically changed your life that you could not help but share the experience with others? Are you and I content with where we are and how God uses us in this world, or do we thirst for more of Him? I exhort all of us to inhale the aroma of our own lives and see if we detect the fragrance of Jesus or ourselves.

If we detect ourselves let us repent and go to His presence and let His savor permeate our lives not for us, but for His glory alone.

Friday, January 11, 2008


Col.3:8 - But now you also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.
Rev.13:6 - And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, and His tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.

Blasphemy. The word is genuinely defined as disrespect for God and things that are sacred. There are many examples of blasphemy exhibited today in evangelical circles and even within the house of worship. Everyone of course defines blasphemy in their own subjective way and so do I. Inappropriate dancing, questionable joking, vulgar language, and overwhelming light shows that incite the emotions and not the Spirit, these and others are forms of disrespecting the Spirit otherwise known as blasphemy. And these things are not just happening in the privacy of some homes and exhibiting our cultural blending amidst the general public, these are happening in the house of God as believers are supposed to be gathering to worship God Almighty and His Risen Son.

But among those things are much more serious expressions of blasphemy. Believers speak about the things of God in flippant and careless ways in direct contrast to our Jewish heritage which considered God’s Name so sacred it was only to be spoken under special circumstances. Of course we can call upon God’s name every day but we still should have a sense of sacred respect and even fear of our loving Savior. Much of the evangelical community has lost any sense of reverence much less fear of the Lord God Almighty and they speak and treat the things of Christ with a cavalier and careless attitude.

Among liberals there was always a movement to feminize God and even some Bibles have either de-gendered their divine references or made them feminine. All orthodox Bible believers recognized that as blasphemy, not so much that God was a man or even masculine, but that God had chosen to reveal Himself within that gender context. To indiscriminately change God’s name and the essence of His revelation concerning Himself is blasphemy and very, very serious. The limited revelation we have of our Creator can only be accepted as truth and accurate when we receive it directly from Him and not our convoluted linguistics constructed upon the language of culture and pseudo-intellectualism.

Just recently it was brought to my attention that someone referred to the Holy Spirit as “she”. This of course is an attempt to be cute and create another dialogue that is meaningless and seeks to give evidence of an elevated spiritual intellect. It is quite evident that God the Son refers to the Spirit as “He” and the word “parakletos” which is translated “comforter” is a masculine noun that means someone who comes beside us and helps. It refers to a lawyer in court as well but the word itself is masculine. So is the Holy Spirit a masculine spirit in gender as we understand masculinity? I am sure God transcends gender and in fact created it, but His revelation about Himself must remain within His own linguistic framework or He becomes distorted in our hearts and minds.

Just as God is our Father and Jesus is the Son so is the Lord consistent in His teaching about Himself to us. Of course the noun “Son” can give the impression that Jesus was created but the Scripture assures us He was from everlasting to everlasting, the Word from the beginning. So why does God assign these family titles to Himself? It is for our benefit and understanding not His, but His reasons are surely His own and must not endure linguistic violence to satisfy some fleshly and carnal desire of man’s heart. Many are committing blasphemy today and professing believers endure such Biblical treason. If this doesn’t present ample evidence of the new age mindset that has infiltrated the evangelical church I am not sure how to convince you. When I hear someone speak so flippantly of God’s Spirit is sends chills up my spine.

Many preachers energetically pursue the new and reject the tested. Men ask questions like, “If we proved the virgin birth of Christ was a lie would the Christian life still be an attractive way to live?”. There are at least two fundamental problems with musings like this. First, the virgin birth is an essential part of the gospel and who Jesus was when he came to earth. Secondly, it reveals that these new preachers concentrate more on our lives than on the Risen Lord. The question should not be would you still live as a Christian but would you still worship Jesus. The entire new theology centers on man and his life and experience, and in reality, that in itself is blasphemy. To speak against the virgin birth, even hypothetically, undermines people’s faith, reduces the value of the virgin birth in the minds of believers, and is a blasphemous way to use the virgin birth in a carnal and fleshly illustration. These type of intellectualisms undermine the Christian faith and do not edify.

This is now a post modern round table that mixes the sacred with the profane, and more than that, these things do despite unto our precious God in all His attributes and His gracious revelation. Bible schools that once were champions and protectors of God and His truth are training dismantlers that have no concept of the seriousness of their wayward journey. And instead of standing firm and humble and with a devoted heart concerning God’s Word, many are now enablers to the wicked spirits that seek to bring the greatest deception of all. It is not coming, it is here.

I am convinced that Lucifer has dispatched all his demons out of hell and they now roam the world with great numbers and intensity, he knows his time grows short. And the devil loves to distort God’s Word and even make a mockery of God’s Name while cloaking it in evangelistic circles. We must surrender to our prayer closets and be on our watch, many of our precious brothers and sisters have been sucked into this spiritual black hole which eventually will lead to complete apostasy. Many churches are already apostate in their teachings, let God be true and every man a liar.

Heresy is now Bible study, prayer is chanting, salvation is now universal, atonement is now feeding the poor, and God Himself is a many faceted caricature that continues to be a creation but surely not the Creator. You must be faithful and aware that this is what was foretold to us by God’s prophetic Word. The so called teachers are tickling ears with lies and soothing fables, but we ourselves must fervently seek God’s power to come and revive us and glorify Himself. I do not believe a world wide revival will take place, but God will honor personal seekers with His anointing if we get hungry enough. We have a long way to go.

All those who are emergent are liberal in either or both their doctrine and/or their lifestyle, which is also doctrine. Men like Mark Driscoll claim a form of doctrinal orthodoxy while exhibiting a liberal and careless lifestyle. Men like Rob Bell have little resemblance to orthodoxy in either, and men like Brian MacLaren are wolf pack leaders in heretical studies. It does little if any good to even dialogue with these emergent/purpose/seeker types, prayer is more effective and edifies the one who prays. Arguing is counterproductive and in reality I have come to the conclusion that God would have us avoid them which walk disorderly. Some have pleasant personalities, in fact Brian MacLaren seems to have a humble and kind spirit that should shame all of us, but that does not absolve anyone from teaching things contrary to the Scriptures. Perhaps that kind of man is the most dangerous of all.

So have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather rebuke them. The days are evil and God’s Name will continue to be dragged through the mud of heretical slander, but let us remain in the love of God, humbly confessing our unworthiness before our gracious and wonderful Lord. He is worthy to be praised in the night watches. Do not lose your joy in these times, but continue to press toward the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

That my friends is our destination, the Celestial City and its King!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Lifestyle Heretics

Ti.1:16 - They profess that they know God but in works they deny Him;
Rom.3:14 - Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.
Eph.4:29 - Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying…
Eph.4:17 - This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you henceforth walk not as other Gentiles…
Eph.5:11 - And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness but rather reprove them.

These are just a very few of the verses in the New Testament that concern the believer’s speech and conduct while on this earth. Many of the verses provide such a high bar, especially those concerning being like Christ, that it assures us that our journey will not end until we go to be with Christ Himself. In a previous post I dealt with heretics that change the Word as it applies to doctrinal truth, but this post is about what I will call “lifestyle heretics”. They are a subset of the general collection of heretics. Simply put these are professing believers who have purposely broken down the exhortations and guidelines given to us by our Father in the Scriptures and through convoluted etymology, humanistic logic, identifying with the lost, and a general lackadaisical attitude are moving quite willingly toward behaving and thinking like the world.

The outward signs are recognizable to many who recoil at the very thought of some of the things that are allowed, but it begins with a disregard of God’s Word and a clever way to prove God’s Word as almost meaningless in matters of a disciple’s lifestyle. Now before some throw out some red herring let me say that we all should be loving, merciful, and humble in everything we do and that should translate into living deeds indeed. But I am dealing particularly with the outward lifestyles of certain professing followers of Christ and if this reasoning meets the standards of God’s Word. Be prepared, some of what you will hear will seem unbelievable and if you were not shocked before you will be now. I will never use profane words either personally or in my writings, so I will have to sometimes speak in code that we will all understand having lived in Babylon these many years.

Our calling and mandate as believers has nothing to do with affecting the culture one way or the other, our commission is to live and preach the Lord Jesus Christ. Any effect we may have on the society at large is residual and would come from the quality of the lives that are changed by the gospel. So our perspective must never be as to how we can blend with the lost and their culture, our spiritual perspective is how should we walk pleasing before our Lord. This cultural meshing is a distortion of an Arminian position and makes our lives more laborer than worshiper. We are laborers because we are worshipers and not the reverse, this is made clear in the New Testament.

But in a new and shocking way many evangelical teachers are not only teaching a careless life that mirrors the lifestyles of the lost, but they are personally modeling the lifestyle they promote. While the lost wait in line to see a sexually explicit movie, they may very well be behind the neighborhood pastor and his wife. And this pastor not only believes he has freedom in Christ to enjoy filth, he believes God desires him to rub shoulders with the lost and participate in their sinful hedonism. He might believe that makes him “genuine” and shows the world he is not a fake. This pastor has exalted relevantism above purity and believes in sociological power above the power of God’s anointing upon a separated life. As a matter of fact, this pastor and his wife may be attending that movie with a couple from his own congregation. I know, my shock reveals the antiquity of my Biblical views against the backdrop of the modern Christian lifestyle.

The new and modern Christian and teacher uses profanity within his accommodating view of Christian freedom and cultural relevance. And I do not speak of Biblical words such as “hell” and “damn”, many use the most vile of four letter words and defend their actions by a combination of etymological distortions and by pointing out inconsistencies in others. They use Paul’s use of “dung” as an excuse to use their carnal vernacular and again claiming genuineness rather than being a fake. When and where did allowing Christ to clean up our language become fake?

I do not believe that drinking wine is a sin in and of itself, however some of these new believers giggle like school girls when they speak of drinking alcohol and smoking a good cigar. Liberty, you see, is a sign of mature freedom and flaunting it only adds to their feeling a smug behavioral liberty. Part of the thrill is letting others know you do it, especially those who would disagree because when you can put it before them and they object it adds to the fleshly ambiance of the so called liberty. Oh yes, it is an incredible spiritual genre that has been created.

But all these things and more come from inside the hearts of these new teachers. No more does pleasing God include a simple and clear interpretation of God’s Word, today they wrest the Scriptures in order to allow for things that God has forbidden explicitly. Some use the context of the Jewish leaders and practices to provide proof that God morphs with the culture, but no Jew or Gentile or how they viewed the Scriptures are the authority. In fact all men have feet of clay and God’s Word must be understood and obeyed in the context of its own interpretation, comparing Scripture with Scripture. It does not matter about the Jews, the Greeks, the Babylonians, or any other people or their culture, God’s Word is transcendent.

So once the heart is untethered from God’s Word then they are free to invent any Biblical format that encourages careless living not only before the world, but with the world. And some of these preachers would check the right boxes on a doctrinal test that would insulate them against being doctrinal heretics, but I consider them lifestyle heretics. They have rendered the Word of God as irrelevant and non-applicable to the follower of Jesus Christ. There was a time that a sinner would have to count the cost and he understood that he couldn’t be saved by changing his lifestyle but he had to be willing to forsake that which God would disapprove. But today most are never told that their lives would belong to God when they believe on Christ, they are told you can continue in the hedonistic lifestyle they enjoy and gain heaven as well. Many sinners do not see much difference in their lives and the lives of their church going neighbors.

So I will label those people who have compromised any semblance of Biblical separation as “lifestyle heretics”. I have no insight as to who is and who is not a Christian, I do know that God knows those that are his and commands all who bear His name to depart from iniquity. Legalism in its Biblical definition is adding works to salvation, but this is not what we’ve dealt with here. This is inward and outward sanctification that exhibits a life that glorifies our Heavenly Father. We may have different views about different subjects, but we all must reject the love of this world which is more than just a mental concept, it is a tangible and specific way to live apart from this world and separated unto good works that lift up our Mighty Savior and draws men to ask about the hope that is within us.

Sometimes I feel like I’m giving a history lesson, if you know what I mean.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Absolute Truth

Jn.18:37-38 - …Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. Pilate saith unto him, What is truth?…
Jn.14:6 - Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life.
Eph.4:21 - If so be that you have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus.

The phrase “absolute truth” means in fact something that is unwaveringly and infinitely true. Truth is the communicative medium of reality, in other words absolute truth is the unchangeable and immutable existence of God, His creation, and His laws. Absolute truth cannot be altered in any way, it stands eternal and unmolested by human hands and thoughts. Is there absolute truth or is all truth something like light refraction that can bend as it goes through the prism of culture and experience? Does truth remain constant or is it redacted by different generations and their sociological and intellectual environment? When Christ Himself said He would send the Holy Spirit and He would guide us into all truth, was Jesus speaking generally and are His words to be taken within a “guesswork” context or did He actually mean “all truth”?

As Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane he made this statement, “Thy Word is truth”. He was speaking with the Heavenly Father and the Word Incarnate confessed that God’s Word is truth. Let us consider just what the word “truth” means. If 2 + 2 = 4 is truth in North America but 2 + 2 = 5 in South America then each are only true as interpreted and understood by those who live in the distinct continents. That is why we say it is 5:00 PM in New York but 1:00 PM in California. Which is it, then? It is both because man has assigned those mathematical or time designations based upon geography, but neither are absolute because they are bound by man’s definition and parameters.

So much of what man has designated as truth has come from his cultural and educational experience which varies around the world and through the centuries. But that cannot be how we see and understand God’s Word which existed before the universe was ever created. God’s Word transcends all humanity and their severely limited experience and intellectual disseminations, no, God’s Word is eternally fixed. “Forever, O Lord, thy Word is settled in heaven”. Our experience, our intellect, our definitions, and our interpretations run the high risk of creating our own truth and assigning it as God’s which is one of the greatest sins of all.

We can never claim inerrant interpretations but we can and must always claim the existence of inerrant truths, absolute as interpreted by God’s Spirit. God’s Word has generously revealed Himself and His redemption to the world, and we must receive it as divine and absolute. But as we rightly divide the Word we also see that the teachings about Christ and His redemption are the foundation for any understanding about God. These truths, clearly and without error or dilution presented in written form, must be believed as foundational and revealed by Scripture and interpreted by themselves through the communicative power of God’s Spirit. The reason for so many different interpretations even concerning salvation has nothing to do with Biblical clarity and everything to do with man’s sinful heart and religious imaginations, otherwise known as lies. The Bible is clear concerning the salvation offered by the Heavenly Father through His Risen Son and the tortured versions put forth by man reveal a startling and breathtaking insight into the depth of our sinfulness, even to distorting the priceless redemption of our Creator.

Today some are questioning whether absolute truth can be known or even if it exists, and with that mercurial theology comes an uncertainty that provides a wonderful basis for discourse but no basis for truth. Emanating from such a premise comes a refreshing conversation that provides an elevated view of our opinions and that revels in our place at the dialogue table but rejects any impartial plumb line upon which opinions can be authenticated. If there is absolute truth but it cannot be known then it might as well not exist and in the end it then is irrelevant. As Solomon observed, “Let us eat drink and be merry” or another words “Let us just talk, talk, and be merry”.

Now there are things in Scripture that seem to be more hidden and require much study and deep humility in order to come to an accurate interpretation, and some of those issues are not integral to the core of redemption. But do not feel safe in tossing these around either as unimportant or without significant merit, no, all Scripture is important and when we dismiss one section as worthless we run the risk of having that view seep into the entirety of Scripture. This is what we see happening today on a massive scale. But when two believers who hold that all Scripture is absolute in its authority disagree on some portion that does not do damage to the gospel and Christ’s redemption then those two can challenge each other without accusation and on a platform of general agreement. This is the iron sharpens iron Biblical principle which we all need.

But when theology has no absolute either in its basis or interpretation then it is a discussion, nothing more and much less. Now interpretation is not an earth science, it is a reward of grace by God’s Spirit which must be received by faith, the clear teaching of Scripture, and against the test of proven men of God especially those who have been without question used of God. After two thousand years of church history, both Christ honoring and Christ forsaking, there is no new redemptive interpretation, only new error. New obedience, new desire, new awakening, new repentance, new devotion, new sacrifice, yes and amen, but no new interpretation, especially those generated by a small group of individuals claiming some private interpretation. As the old preacher proclaimed, “If it’s new it ain’t true!” and he was correct.

So all absolute truth concerning God and His dealings with mankind is revealed in the written revelation of Scripture. All orthodox believers spotted people like Joseph Smith and Mary Baker Eddy as false prophets just based upon their extra-biblical written revelations. Those falsehoods and their purveyors are easy to recognize. But it is sometimes much more difficult to spot those who offer no extra-biblical writings as Scripture, but with deft and silent craftiness make their aberrant interpretations just as authoritative as if they had claimed to find ten new books of Scripture. It doesn’t necessitate presenting new writings as Scripture, the same effect can be promoted when the interpretations that are taught dismantle and alter the clear teachings of the same Scriptures. These interpretations become a medium by which new “scripture” can be taught to listeners who believe they are being taught the Bible when in reality they are being taught the machinations of some man who disguises his foundation as Biblical. Some of them are every bit as deceptive as the Book of Mormon but are presented as God’s Word and not new revelation, when in reality they are not God's Word and they are new revelation but presented as interpretive insight. This clandestine process is happening with great vigor and enthusiasm today and is called “Bible study”. It is impossible to accurately and with any certainty ascertain the hearts and motives of those who teach such things, but it is evident they are deceived themselves and are broadcasting that poisonous seed throughout the church.

Some would say that issues like eschatology (for example), the study of the last days, are not important and we all can believe what we want since the Scriptures are not clear. But even when discussing these things we cannot exhibit Scriptural laziness and allow the clear teachings of Scripture to be changed. Some are teaching that Christ’s second coming is through the believer, or that there is no physical reign of Christ on earth, or many other teachings that undermine more than eschatology. The chronology of Christ’s return is fair game, but the truth and essence of that return is not open for interpretation. I address this issue of prophecy so as to alert us that every section of Scripture must be taken with sacredness and seriousness even when it is difficult to understand. In short, the difficulty rests with us and not with Scripture.

Another facet of denying the existence or at least the interpretive ability to understand absolute truth is the teaching of Scripture that Jesus Himself in the incarnation was and is the divine revelation of absolute truth. So when we reject absolute truth we also by implication, and in many quarters open admission, assume that we can not fully understand who Jesus was and what His mission was on earth to any degree of agreeable accuracy. That my friends is about as dangerous as it gets and that view has led to liberalism, cults, and now a generous dialogue that has no defining center and either claims a general uncertainty about what was once understood as certain, or at least embraces that viewpoint as legitimate.

There is absolute spiritual and theological truth and it is revealed in the Scripture. Is it any wonder that so much is interpreted with complete disregard of that premise when we have left the Word and the prayer closet simultaneously, and the church like a wild ass has sniffed the modern air and its newness and has jumped the tested theological fences to follow those who are piping a new and pleasant tune. People who believe the Scriptures can be interpreted with accuracy and present absolutes are now viewed as legalistic Pharisees who are stuck sitting on the ancient landmarks while the new teachers are pointing to a different and more enlightened way. I fear for them and their followers.

Let us recommit ourselves to God’s unchangeable truth and the written revelation of His Word. To be sure we ourselves need an awakening, but while we wait upon the Lord we must do sentry duty against the deception which is already upon us. Birnam Woods has already come to Dunsidane and the hidden treachery with it. But do not fear, no man born of Adam will gain the victory, only the virgin born Son of the Living God will prevail.

Guird up your loins, the Lion comes quickly and with much warning…

Saturday, January 05, 2008


Ti.3:10 - A man that is a heretic after the first and second admonition reject;

I am formally announcing my freedom in Christ to identify heretics solely based upon my interpretation of Scripture and my subjective application of those guidelines to whomever I sincerely feel meet those criteria. But of course that is what everyone else does. Those who defend teachers as non-heretics do it based upon their own subjective guidelines as will I also now do. I have hesitated to place that moniker on several men in deference to brothers who seem to have an affection for them and their teachings and also to avoid being lumped in with some rather caustic and prideful discernment bogs. But today I declare a personal policy of freedom in my assessments as well as a genuine attempt at humility and loving correction without diluting the core of my observations.

Let me first establish what I believe are the Scriptural definitions of a bone fide heretic. Now one can teach heresy and not be a heretic because my definition of heresy is something that is not true according to Scripture. So, for example, I believe that women should not be pastors according to Scripture, so teaching that they can is heresy. But the person that teaches that is not a heretic just because of that view, a heretic must espouse and teach something that is within the confines of core gospel truth. Something that either dismantles gospel truth or leads to the same. So if I say that “limited atonement” is heresy I do not mean that those who teach it are heretics, I mean that I strongly believe that is unbiblical but surely doesn’t dismantle any gospel truth. So follow me on this principle.

Here are the teachings that I believe define a heretic:

  • He teaches that the Scriptures are in any way deficient and partially authoritative in matters of life and faith. Any departure from inerrancy identifies that person as a heretic. Now sometimes their verbiage is very esoteric and mercurial, but it is still heresy.
  • He teaches that the purpose of the cross was not the atonement. Some teach some victory over evil and either downplay or reject altogether the atonement at Calvary. That is heresy.
  • He teaches that Jesus was more human than divine and that His mission was to get everyone to emulate His life rather than to embrace His death.
  • He teaches that a literal, eternal, place of torment known as hell does not exist. This rips at the fabric of the cross and suffering of our Savior and leads to universalism
  • He teaches universalism, that all will be saved eventually. That man is a heretic.
  • He teaches salvation by works be they good works, ceremonialism, baptism, or anything else but “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved”.
  • He teaches such a watered down, self help, and humanistic gospel that has the capacity to make any “converts” as illegitimate.
  • He teaches that money is somehow connected to the gospel and God will make a believer rich.

These are generally some of the aspects of who I consider to be a heretic, someone whose teachings are significantly divergent from the core of the gospel and of Biblical teaching. I cannot discern who is or isn’t saved, but it is possible to be saved and drift into heretical teachings and become a heretic. There are now men who muse about heresy without actually coming out and espousing the doctrines they speak about as possibilities, these men are heretics.

Now almost any position in eschatology is admissible and usually not a candidate for heresy. But these present day heresies deal with the essence of the gospel or subjects that could lead to different gospel renderings. But the raging controversy now centers around more important redemptive issues that the end times chronology. The saving power of Jesus Christ is now questioned by placing upon sinners without faith, and surely sinners whose profession is so shallow that it results in no corresponding works that substantiate Christ’s presence in their lives.

These types of issues have also resulted in heretical lifestyles among Christians and Christian pastors alike. What do I mean when I say “lifestyle heretics”? I mean there are Christian teachers now who live and teach a lifestyle whose very manifestation and behavior is Biblical heresy. They have almost no standards of separation about their lifestyle, and swearing, drinking, smoking, and questionable behavior is accepted and practiced. “Perfecting holiness in the sight of God” is no longer applicable as was once understood, and they teach a guiltless, libertarian, and conviction less lifestyle that is heretical in practice. Those that teach such things are also heretics.

But, you say, doesn’t that greatly expand the list of men who would be classified as heretics today. Yes, absolutely. As a matter of fact much of the church is now engaged in and believes in some form of heresy. Heresy in many forms has invaded the pulpits of evangelicalism and millions of sinners, indistinguishably lost or saved, are merrily following such false teachers. And we who have ears to hear must speak clearly and with conviction about these teachings and at the same time admit that we ourselves are in need of a revival of God’s Spirit.

I now consider men like Joel Osteen, Brian MacLaren, Doug Pagitt, Rob Bell, Rick Warren, Robert Schuller, Ken Copeland, and many others and all who espouse their ministries as heretics. I do not have knowledge about their spiritual standing before God personally, but their teachings are dramatically unbiblical. The emerging, emergent, purpose driven, seeker sensitive, church growth, and many combinations of these are all heretical and are falling away from Biblical Christianity. So you may mark me down as an old time Christian who refuses to accept the modern and new teachings. I am seeking a personal and church wide revival which I openly admit is needed by all of us, but I must be clear about what is happening within the church. Much of what is being taught is not even worth discussing, it is what I call “flat earth” meaning that the absurdity of their teachings are in the same category as arguing with someone who claims the earth is flat.

There is little productivity in any dialogue regardless how polite and respectful, and I believe my view has been honed by many such discussions. Our objective is seeking Christ, remaining faithful to His Word, preaching the gospel of Christ, guarding ourselves against error, and teaching those under our authority and ministry to reject heresy and its teachers. Heretics are multiplying rapidly and it behooves us to identify them clearly while recognizing that they themselves are not our enemies, it is the one who has deceived them who is the enemy of our souls.

Stand guard, remain humble, be strong in faith, and worship Christ Jesus.

The end is upon us.