Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Reformation Day 500 and counting!

Today marks the 500th year anniversary of the widely accepted start of The Reformation.

Source
Roman Catholic Monk Martin Luther had found John Hus's Gospel-drenched sermons, and had been studying the Bible for himself, when his conscience convicted him that the Roman Catholic structure of indulgences and other aberrant doctrines were unacceptable compared to what was taught via the Bible.

He nailed 95 theses to the All Saints' Chapel doors at the church in Wittenberg Germany, for public discussion as per usual among the theologians of the day.

Because Luther's propositions and questions could not be reconciled with what the Catholic dogma taught, there arose a controversy which only entrenched Luther further into his stance, when at the conclusion of his heresy trial he refused to recant and is alleged to have said,

"Here I stand; I can do no other. God help me."

Christianity Today wrote,
Luther asserted that his conscience was captive to the Word of God and that he could not go against conscience. This was not, however, a modern plea for the supremacy of the individual conscience or for religious freedom. Though already excommunicated by Rome, Luther saw himself as a sworn teacher of Scripture who must advocate the right of all Christians to hear and live by the gospel.
Praise the Lord for His timing in bringing His word back to the people.

The Reformation is ongoing because the spiritual battle is ongoing. Satan hasn't quit deluding the unwary and he hasn't stopped growing his church (Roman Catholic, among others, such as Islamic, Buddhist, Hindu, Mormon, Jehovah's Witnesses, etc). He is still at it. Despite the blessed knowledge that many of today's leaders have regarding the differences between the Protestant and the Catholic, many other of today's leaders seem to have forgotten the point of the Reformation was to protest the perverse twisting of the Gospel and other biblical doctrines away from truth to devilish lies a la the Roman Catholic Church.

Ultimately, though Luther wanted reform within the RCC, it was not possible, and the Protestant denominations were born.

For example, today we have well-known Protestant leaders retracting their former truthful words that Roman view of justification is heresy, and also and perpetuating their stance that works add to something called final salvation.

We have well-known so-called Reformed pastors teaching Catholic methods, sourcing Catholic authors, and naming their church classes "The Way of the Monk" led by Catholic-trained female teachers, and teaching that Catholicism is another Christian denomination, or tradition, or stream, not the heresy and affront to God that it is.

We have so-called evangelicals usurping God from the Sunday pulpit to host Catholic political celebrities, who are treated as a brother and not a mission field.

We have whole congregations (Episcopal) in the US converting en masse back to Catholicism. Granted Episcopalians don't have far to go, but the quote that struck me was from one lay leader of this congregation that mass converted back to Rome: "It feels fantastic," Delaney said. "It’s like correcting 500 years of history."

No. Not it's not.

Despite all that, today is a great day to celebrate our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, His church, His Spirit's work in the world to bring men into the kingdom on the glowing carpet of truths known as The Gospel of Salvation. We celebrate the simple Gospel, the understandable Gospel, the Gospel we read in the word of God thanks to the translators and Reformers and protestors who yanked it from the dark into the Light, even on the funeral pyres of their own mortality.

We celebrate the knowledge that Jesus saves, as it is written, and so many other truths we know because He revealed it to us in His word.

We celebrate fiery, or quiet, or diligent, or intelligent, or clumsy, pastors who perpetuate the truths unadorned with skits or personal stories, just preaching, some at risk to their own lives.

We celebrate the brave men and women who circulated the word back to the people. But Reformation Day 500 ultimately celebrates One.

We praise and thanks we Lord Jesus above for all His ways, His power, might, love, Word, redemption, suffering, sovereignty, omniscience, holiness, holiness, holiness...

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9).


Monday, October 30, 2017

Lysa TerKeurst coming to Athens. Do not go to see her.

Lysa TerKeurst of Proverbs 31 Ministries is coming to Athens, GA.

I strongly recommend that you not go see Lysa Terkeurst. Avoid her.


Here's why.

First, about her: Her website states Lysa TerKeurst is president of Proverbs 31 Ministries and the New York Times best-selling author of The Best Yes, Unglued, Made to Crave, and 16 other books. She is also a speaker at conferences and a daily blogger. She is also wife and mom to 5 kids.

Here are some reasons to strongly consider avoiding Lysa TerKeurst in all her venues but especially in person when she arrives at Athens. These are in no particular order. All are a concern.



1. Bad Associations

1. Lysa's home church is Elevation Church led by pastor Steven Furtick. Furtick is a prosperity teacher who opposes deep doctrine and mocks those who enjoy it, and has taken the title of Super Apostle. He also unsurprisingly preaches blasphemous things. Steven Furtick is a false pastor.

On August 9, 2016 in the Uninvited Book Release party held at Elevation on behalf of Lysa, she once again claimed Elevation as her church and Furtick as her pastor. Furtick also affirmed TerKeurst as one of his church family. This association violates the degree of separation from false teachers demanded by the Bible. (2 Timothy 3:5, 2 Corinthians 6:14, Ephesians 5:7). Instead, she partners with them. (source- Uninvited Book Release Celebration webcast).

1a. In another recent partnership, Lysa recently spoke alongside these men. Aside from Furtick, an additional two have been fired from their pastorates for being unqualified because they fell below reproach. (1 Timothy 3:2). Not excellent. TerKeurst should be separating herself from these 'leaders', not supporting, promoting, and partnering with them.


The person speaking here is Perry Noble, who was fired from NewSpring Church
5 months later. Driscoll had already quit ahead of certain discipline
and likely firing from Mars Hill Church.
A student will rise no higher than her teacher. So ladies, avoid Lysa TerKeurst, because her teachers, associates, and spiritual influences are very low.

2. Preaches to men

2. Lysa preaches at the pulpit and at other venues in church, to men, violating a basic and clear scripture that women must not do so.

Source 1, TerKeurst at the Sunday morning service at Perry Noble's church NewSpring;

Source 2, Steven Furtick introducing TerKeurst's series of Sunday morning messages at Elevation Church, messages based NOT on the word of God but as a church they instead studied her book The Best Yes. Can you imagine not only violating a clear scripture that women do not preach, but using your own book as the basis for the message?!

Source 3, Mark Batterson (who is another false teacher), introducing TerKeurst at his church and asking the audience to receive the word she is about to bring.

I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.

(1 Timothy 2:12). Also see 1 Corinthians 14:34. As Michelle Lesley said in her piece on TerKeurst,
If a woman is supposedly knowledgeable enough about the Bible to be in the position of teaching and authoring, yet doesn’t understand or obey such a basic biblical truth, what does that say about the rest of her knowledge of the Bible? How can you trust that anything else she teaches you about the Bible is accurate and true?

If you follow Lysa you are partnering with her in her usurping rebellion, which is a sin. (James 4:17).

3. Teaches Mysticism & Direct Revelation

3. Lysa TerKerst teaches how to listen for the voice of God and to receive personal revelations.

As Learn to Discern Granny cited, with source page numbers from Uninvited, TerKeurst teaches that if you're silent you'll receive secrets and whispers and new information from Jesus, directly.
Now, Lysa also confesses she hears whispers from God. She relates, "I've got to spend time getting quiet so I can be prepared to hear new things from the Lord. Isn't it a lovely thought that God might be waiting for silence ... in order to share some of His best secrets with you? ... in the silence, He whispered to my soul, You are not set aside, you are set apart ...." (p.112). Much like Sarah Young's messages in Jesus Calling, Lysa, too, is saying she gets new revelations from the Lord.
Ladies, the canon is closed. (Revelation 22:18-19). Jesus is not currently speaking to individuals. He did that Himself in His incarnation, and via the Apostles and NT writers via His Spirit.

Therefore it is not surprising that TerKeurst teaches how to hear the voice of God in her video and pamphlet, also does so in prayer journals for sale and a book called Saying Yes to God.

For example, she said at her book release party, emphasis mine:
I have this feeling that Uninvited is not going to be just a book.I have a deep feeling in my heart Jesus has decided that too many of His people have been held back by rejection. I want to know if you are in this room tonight and you are ready to embrace that the devil might be vicious but he will not be victorious. Can I get an Amen! Uninvited Book Release Celebration webcast
Bible teachers should not be saying they have any inkling at all of what Jesus has decided. Of all the things on this page and of the ones I listened to and read, this is the worst for me. It is highly dangerous for a 'Bible' teacher to go around purporting to speak for the secret things that Jesus has decided in His power and will. It is a gross perversion of our calling as submissive witnesses to His glory and exaltation.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:9).

All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, 'What have You done?' (Daniel 4:35).

Conclusion


Please avoid Lysa TerKeurst for these and other reasons, as noted in the articles linked below (which also have further links). It's one thing when teachers such as this are 'out there,' but when they come to my city, a college town with vulnerable Christians and new babes in Christ who sit in the pews with me, it's another thing entirely.

----------------------------------

Further Reading

Michelle Lesley has written graciously and fairly about Lysa, here: Leaving Lysa: Why You Shouldn’t Be Following Lysa TerKeurst or Proverbs 31 Ministries

Discerning Granny reviewed Lysa's 2016 book, Uninvited hereA Review of Lysa TerKeurst's Book: Uninvited

Grace To You: What is Biblical discernment and why is it important?

Ligonier: What is discernment?

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Throwback: His steadfast love endures forever

This essay first appeared on The End Time in January 2014. Encouragement never goes out of style.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


It's so strange. More than a few people in my circle (both internet and real life) have said that their recent days and weeks have been full of trials and difficulties. Things have popped into their life seemingly out of nowhere, and caused trouble and trials, heartache and hurt.

For others, they have said or written that discernment is hard work, and they are tired. I'm tired too. The flood of falsity is just a tsunami now. Not only do we get discouraged because the spotless name of Jesus is constantly dragged through the mud, but our friends and family might be falling under the sway of a false teacher or doctrine, and we just want to cry and tear our hair out.

Lately, people really need encouragement and grace more than ever. Let's give it to them just as we would like to receive it from other people when we are in a bad way.

Yesterday and today I've been unsettled myself, so my go-to is always prayer, and bible reading. It really helps to pray to Jesus, we know He listens.

Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25)

It helps more, I've found, to pray for other people when I'm unsettled. Focusing on others helps me put my problems into perspective. It also gives me the joy of lifting another person up to Jesus for their benefit, being obedient to the scriptures. (James 5:16; Ephesians 6:18)

As for my other security blanket in addition to prayer, it is reading His word. There is nothing like it. I read Psalm 136 this afternoon and the recurring refrain in the psalm is:

"his steadfast love endures forever"

He loves us--(a gift in itself!)
His love is steadfast; faithful, immovable--(amazing!)
His love is forever; speaking to His eternality. (FOREVER!!)

My oh my, what a gift. No wonder the psalmist spends so much time in exhorting thanks! The psalm continues to outline His attributes and His works. It is just beautiful. I posted it below so you can read it here. Friends, if you are going through something, or hurting, or just plain weak and tired, read the psalms. Read the word. Pray. Here is Psalm 136. I hope it blesses you.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
2 Give thanks to the God of gods,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
for his steadfast love endures forever;

4 to him who alone does great wonders,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
5 to him who by understanding made the heavens,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
6 to him who spread out the earth above the waters,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
7 to him who made the great lights,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
8 the sun to rule over the day,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
9 the moon and stars to rule over the night,
for his steadfast love endures forever;

10 to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
11 and brought Israel out from among them,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
12 with a strong hand and an outstretched arm,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
13 to him who divided the Red Sea in two,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
14 and made Israel pass through the midst of it,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
15 but overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
16 to him who led his people through the wilderness,
for his steadfast love endures forever;

17 to him who struck down great kings,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
18 and killed mighty kings,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
19 Sihon, king of the Amorites,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
20 and Og, king of Bashan,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
21 and gave their land as a heritage,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
22 a heritage to Israel his servant,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

23 It is he who remembered us in our low estate,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
24 and rescued us from our foes,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
25 he who gives food to all flesh,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

26 Give thanks to the God of heaven,
for his steadfast love endures forever

Friday, October 27, 2017

"Of the Incomparable Treasure of the Holy Scriptures"

Firmly ensconced in English Hymnody, no one is quite sure where this gem came from. First seen as a poem in a Scottish Bible in 1594, and published intermittently as a stand alone poem, a hymn, or a text-feature in various Bibles, this piece extols the virtue of our 'incomparable treasure' of the Holy Bible. In the 1846 book titled Wanderings of a Pilgrim in the Shadow of Mont Blanc by George Barrell Cheever, the author tells us that the poem appeared in nearly all the copies of the Geneva editions of the translations of the Bible, which was made during the reign of Queen Mary by those illustrious exiles John Knox, Miles Coverdale, Anthony Gilby, Christopher Gilman, and others.

Though its origins may be a mystery, its point is made beautifully clear in moving verse.

Enjoy!

Here is the spring where waters flow,
To quench our heat of sin;
Here is the tree where truth doth grow
To lead our lives therein;

Here is the judge that stints the strife
When men's devises fail:
Here is the bread that feeds the life
Which death cannot assail.

The tidings of salvation dear
Comes to our ears from hence;
The fortress of our faith is here;
The shield of our defence.

Then be not like the hog that hath
A pearl at his desire,
And takes more pleasure in the trough
And wallowing in the mire.

Read not this book in any case
But with a single eye:
Read not, but first desire GOD's grace,
To understand thereby.

Pray still in faith with this respect
To fructify therein;
That knowledge may bring this effect,
To mortify thy sin.

Then happy thou in all thy life,
Whatso to thee befalls;
Yea, doubly happy shalt thou be
When GOD by death thee calls.

Our Lord's word is a never-ending, refreshing, bountiful stream of water

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The view from space: "We are all so unbelievably small"


God is majestic. He is enormous in power, might, will, strength, and mind. He made the universe in 6 successive, literal days, with just His voice. He created all the stars and named them also. This achievement is incredible to wrap our minds around, especially since we as humans are self-centered and myopic. We can't conceive of exactly how big the universe is partly because we're seeking our own glory which blinds us to it. We tend to magnify our own selves as a human race. (Genesis 11:1-9). 

We also diminish God in His power, especially because He is invisible. (John 20:29; 1 Peter 1:8). However, God created the universe, moon, sun, and earth as a sign to us sinful creatures who in our pre-salvation state, do not know Him. As it says in Romans 1:18-20,

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

It's highly important to believe and understand that Genesis 1 is literal. It is not poetry, allegory, or hyperbole. It is lyrical, to be sure, but it is a record of actual history as it happened. It is revealed to us by the One and only witness to its creation: Jehovah.

Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they existed and were created.
(Revelation 4:11.)

When Paul preached to the Gentiles, he used creation to convict them of God's existence. (Acts 14:15; 17:24-26.) He then used that truth in the Gospel's proclamation. By this, we know that Paul believed the opening chapters of Genesis as historical fact as revealed.

I've felt an increasing burden for the evangelical world's compromise of and even outright rejection of Genesis 1 as literal fact. On blogs, I see that when asked, major ministries claim that Genesis 1/literal creation/young earth is a tangential issue not appropriate to bring up in evangelism. Yet Paul used creation and Genesis 1 as the foundation of evangelism in Acts and Romans!

In personal conversations with people they tell me that Genesis 1 isn't a battleground because, well, the Gospel isn't there. But it is! Genesis 1 & 2 demonstrate the Creator to whom we are all responsible. Genesis 3 shows us the reason we need the Gospel and contains the protoevangelium.

I've been feeling this burden for Genesis 1 for a few months now. I intuit that it is from the Lord and that it is in my heart and mind for a reason. I'll be writing about it, I surmise, several times in upcoming blogs.

Today's point I'd be pleased that you take away is that preaching a literal Genesis 1 aligns with the foundational truth Paul used when he preached to the gentiles. Preaching Genesis 1's literal and 6-day creation doesn't have the same impact, say, if you were to tell the Gentile it's just a poem.

Please watch this short video to see how unbelievably small we are, and by comparison how unbelievably big God is. I don't think it is produced with a Creation/Creator perspective in mind, but it is factual and amazing nonetheless.

Scripture cannot be broken, and the battle for Genesis 1 as literal and historical is the primary and starting hill to die on.





Wednesday, October 25, 2017

This is why we still need The Reformation

Over the past twenty or thirty years, a great ecumenical push has occurred where many so-called "evangelical" pastors and leaders have partnered with the Vatican, the Pope, Bishops, or local priests in spiritual endeavors. These men and women have called the Pope a brother, have blurred the doctrinal lines between us, and have betrayed the faith.

This ecumenical move has occurred at the global, national, and local level. After so many years, nearly a generation, people are now used to evangelical leaders accepting and promoting the Catholic Church to varying degrees. Some say that we can partner with the Catholic Church on social endeavors, such as being against abortion, for traditional marriage, or helping the poor. (Russell Moore). Others say outright that the Catholic Church is Christian, just another "stream" of Christianity and we can and should and do borrow heavily from them in teaching our local congregations. (Tim Keller).

Have no fellowship with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. (Ephesians 5:11)

Whether one has gotten on the continuum and partnered with the Roman Catholic Church in a hold your nose, social justice only gingerly sort of way, or is all-in with promoting the RCC as Christian (and thus not a mission field) doing so is wrong and unbiblical. The Catholic Church teaches a different Gospel, a different Jesus, and holds to many unbiblical practices. It is a counterfeit religion that has nothing to do with our Lord.

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? (2 Corinthians 6:14).

We are to make a distinction between the true faith and the counterfeit. Failing to do so fails the commands of Jesus to be a people set apart, and tragically erases an entire mission field from existence.

And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (Hebrews 10:10, sanctified means set apart).

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9).

Yet the ecumenical push continues and in fact has made inroads 30 years later. Ravi Zacharias, the world's most well-known Christian apologist, refuses to draw a line around fundamental and essential doctrines and exclude the RCC. Beth Moore has taught that the RCC is another denomination and also has taught some Catholic Mystical practices.

Jennie Allen is founder of the massively influential and popular IF:gathering, the most popular interdenominational Christian women's event in years, and writes this about Catholics:
I was talking with my sister yesterday who is struggling with explaining her view of grace to her friend that is Catholic and wants to know. I told her, we are all just doing the best we can to know and understand God with what we have- our individual views of Him will always be growing and changing as we wrestle through scripture and life.
"Our individual views of Him"? No explaining the Gospel? No drawing distinctive lines between the true faith and the false of Catholicism? No explanation of grace by faith alone and not salvation by sacraments, tradition, and wrongly interpreted scriptures? Scriptures that were withheld from people for 1000 years before Tyndale translated and unleashed it? A woman whose template for spiritual gatherings and holy conversations is used at this many gatherings in the US alone currently?


And Jennie Allen has the audacity to reply to her own sister on behalf of a Catholic seeker of the true Jesus not the Gospel of saving faith, but that "we're all just doing the best we can?"

Jen Hatmaker, a ridiculously popular blogger and author wrote this on her Facebook page:


The article over which she was gushing was that the Pope was headed to a prison where, in front of cameras, he will wash 12 inmates' feet. She makes the deep gulf between the Catholic and the Protestant seem like a joyful jump over to where ministry is cool and rituals and symbols are fun, not actually blasphemous as they are.

Does she forget that millions of faithful evangelical, Protestant pastors preach the true word, minister, and love in the face of criticism and persecution, daily? With nary a camera in sight? What about gushing over those guys?

Here is another reason we need the Reformation to be vital and fresh, always:

"Pope Francis is the perfect example of authenticity and humility. He is doing everything right." Warren then referred to Pope Francis as "our new pope." ~Rick Warren, 'Evangelical' pastor at Saddleback Church.

Rick Warren believes the Reformation was a mistake and a new reformation will eventually bring us all back together.

"The first Reformation actually split Christianity into dozens and then hundreds of different segments. I think this one is actually going to bring them together… Last week I spoke to 4,000 pastors at my church who came from over
100 denominations in over 50 countries….We had Catholic priests, we had Pentecostal ministers, we had Lutheran bishops, we had Anglican bishops, we had Baptist preachers." Source Rick Warren, The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, 2005.

What the Reformation did was divide those who believed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ from those of Rome perpetuating a false Gospel of works.

And again, Catholicism is not a Christian "denomination." It is an apostate religion of satan.

Why Rick Warren is important to cite: His church is one of the top 50 megachurches in the US, In 2008 he was invited to give the Inaugural Prayer at the President's swearing-in and introduced to the world as "America's Pastor", and his book Purpose Driven Life was on the bestseller list for 90 weeks and has sold 60 million copies.

Here is another gentleman working hard to retract the Reformation-

Osteen: "I love the fact that he [Pope Francis] has made the church more inclusive."

After his visit to the Vatican, Osteen said: "You feel that deep reverence and respect for God."

Why is Osteen important to cite? Lakewood Church has an average weekly attendance of 52,000, and Osteen's sermons are also televised in more than 100 countries, with an estimated 7 million viewers each week.

Yet another who violates every precept and principle the Reformation stood for:

Billy Graham: asked about the Pope's upcoming 1979 visit to the US,
The visit of Pope Paul II to the United States is an event of great significance not only for Roman Catholics, but for all Americans - as well as the world... In the short time he has been Pope, John Paul II has become the moral leader of the world. My prayers and the prayer of countless other Protestants will be with him as he makes his journey.

Later, asked about the recent pope's death (Pope John Paul II, 2005) Billy Graham said:

"I think he's with the Lord, because he believed. He believed in the Cross. That was his focus throughout his ministry, the Cross, no matter if you were talking to him from personal issue or an ethical problem, he felt that there was the answer to all of our problems, the cross and the resurrection. And he was a strong believer."

Why is Billy Graham important to cite? He has been THE face of Christianity since 1949, his first Crusade. The first Crusade to be broadcast on television was in 1957, and anyone growing up in the latter half of the twentieth-century will have seen the preacher preaching in Crusade after Crusade. Sadly, he would only compromise Jesus' Gospel later by forming alliances with Rome, and by denying the exclusivity of Jesus as the only way to salvation.


Warren, Graham, Keller, Hatmaker, Allen, Moore, among many others who should know better, don't care that thousands of God's people were murdered by the Catholic Church for daring to preach the true Gospel and express faith in the resurrected Jesus, a Jesus who is the only Head of the Church.

And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, (Ephesians 1:22)

These men and women, and many others I did not cite, are blaspheming against the finished work of Christ.

The doctrinal lines are wide and they run deep. The divide between Catholic and Protestant is eternal and permanent. Thousands of martyrs died to preserve that line, while always inviting and preaching to those on the side of the looming punishment. Unity with falsity doesn't save. Wiping away the lines of 500 years of blood and persecution by the very church with which they want to unite is perverted and gross.

Lest you think I am to harsh, see what one of very many preachers have said about Rome in their assertion that we must never, ever compromise the Reformation's values and work again.

Here is Charles Spurgeon in 1864, from his sermon refuting Baptismal Regeneration (something Billy Graham believes in).

It is a most fearful fact, that in no age since the Reformation has Popery made such fearful strides in England as during the last few years. I had comfortably believed that Popery was only feeding itself upon foreign subscriptions, upon a few titled perverts, and imported monks and nuns. I dreamed that its progress was not real. In fact, I have often smiled at the alarm of many of my brethren at the progress of Popery. But, my dear friends, we have been mistaken, grievously mistaken. It really is an alarming matter to see so many of our countrymen going off to that superstition which as a nation we once rejected, and which it was supposed we should never again receive. I have but to open my eyes a little to foresee ROMANISM rampant everywhere in the future, since its germs are spreading everywhere in the present. I see this coming up everywhere - a belief in ceremony, a resting in ceremony, a veneration for alters, fonts, and Churches - a veneration so profound that we must not venture upon a remark, or straightway of sinners we are chief. Here is the essence and soul of Popery, peeping up under the garb of a decent respect for sacred things.
What would Spurgeon make of today's evangelical leaders and their acceptance of Rome? No, we need the Reformation. It still matters.


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Reformation shows us why we need expository preaching

With the 500th year anniversary of the Reformation coming upon us October 31, many people are looking to history and learning Martin Luther and his the men that came before him.

Martin Luther is generally acknowledged to have been a main spark to the Protestant Reformation. Protestant comes from the word protest, which Luther's 95 Theses sparked against the Roman Catholic Church's excesses of indulgences (sin absolution for hire) and other abuses.
The Reformation didn't happen because Martin Luther put the 95 Theses on the door to Wittenberg Chapel. It happened because the Word was unleashed. ~Mark McAndrew, North Avenue Church
Here, John MacArthur explains in a 1:33 clip How unhindered access to God’s Word changed history.

William Tyndale, John Hus, and many others were executed for translating or preaching the Word in the people's language. The Roman Catholic Church prevented the Catholics from reading the Word themselves and from possessing and reading a Bible. Mass was performed in Latin. The RCC was fearful that if the people got a-hold of the Word, they would be uncontrollable. So it was restricted. For a thousand years.


William Tyndale: "Let it not make thee despair, neither yet discourage thee, O reader, that it is forbidden thee in pain of life and goods, or that it is made breaking of the king's peace, or treason unto his highness, to read the Word of thy soul's health—for if God be on our side, what matter maketh it who be against us, be they bishops, cardinals, popes."Christianity Today
Read the word for thy soul's health. When push comes to shove, and you are undergoing a tragedy and need comfort, or are under conviction and need some solace, the pastor's witty anecdote is not going to help you. The pastor's fad-driven bullet point topical sermon is not going to help you. The greatest help we have is the Word- with the Spirit to illuminate us to our mind. There is nothing like the word, because it is alive.

Let each true church commit to expository preaching. What IS expository preaching?
Expository preaching involves the exposition, or comprehensive explanation, of the Scripture; that is, expository preaching presents the meaning and intent of a biblical text, providing commentary and examples to make the passage clear and understandable. The word exposition is related to the word expose — the expository preacher’s goal is simply to expose the meaning of the Bible, verse by verse.
Read the word to the people, explain what it means in context, repeat next Sunday.

Do we need fancy stunts? Do we need extreme stage lights and fog machines? Do we need motivational speeches? Do we need to change the church so we can attract the goats seekers and meet their "felt needs"? Do we need to ditch everything and be radical, wild at heart manly men?
No.

Martyn Lloyd Jones said,
Another argument that I would adduce at this point is that the moment you begin to turn from preaching to these other expedients you will find yourself undergoing a constant series of changes.
Does your church still do the Prayer of Jabez? Undergo 40 Days of Purpose? Wear a WWJD bracelet? Maintain membership in Promise Keepers? Are you still renovating your prayer closet/war room? Do you see how many changes you have to make when you focus on the world and its church fads? If you preach the word, it does not change. It may change you, but it does not change. John MacArthur has been preaching it from the same pulpit for nearly 50 years. He reads the word to the people, explains what it means in context, repeats next Sunday. I hope your pastor does too.

Expositors today preach the Word. The evangelists in the Second and First Great Awakenings preached the Word. The Reformers preached the Word. Apostle Paul preached the Word. Jesus preached the Word. Ezra preached the Word. Noah preached the Word.

Knowing the blood of the martyrs soaks the ground under thousands of stakes, how dare we insert our own words, opinions, fads, and stunts onto the pulpit? Men died for this Word to be preached. Jesus as the Word suffered and absorbed all God's wrath for the elect so this word would go out and be preached.

Pastors, please exposit the word.

preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. (2 Timothy 4:2)

Monday, October 23, 2017

The Gospel in one minute- a humbling reminder

Dr Steven J. Lawson hosts a Men's Bible Study each week, as well as preaches and teaches elsewhere (i.e. Expositor.fm and The Master's Seminary). Here is a short promo for one of the weekly studies that was held this month. It explains The Gospel in one minute. We all need to preach the Gospel to each other, every day. We are sinful creatures that forget the deep sinfulness of our nature, and we diminish the majesty and humility of Jesus' torment on the cross. Take one minute to listen, and thank our Lord for being a Suffering Servant to His Father, and for our behalf.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Chris Powers' sketches the Beatitudes: Mercy

Matthew 5:7, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy."

O, Lord, help me to be merciful tho those who doubt, the poor and vulnerable (Jude 1:22, Proverbs 19:17, Matthew 25:40). I received mercy in great measure. Help me to always remember from whence mercy came.



Chris Powers is the artist behind Full Of Eyes Ministry. Full of Eyes is creating free visual resources for the global Church.

He produces animations, art, and tracts of Biblical illustrations with verses and explanations, in a powerful way. He is on Patreon (where you can donate) as well as Youtube and the web at fullofeyes.com.


Friday, October 20, 2017

Questions: Preaching Christ from every text?, Muslim dreams, Female submission

Here are answers to some pressing questions I've seen asked over the last few weeks.

Should we preach Christ from every text? Answer: no. By Abner Chou, The Master's Seminary, October 2017.
In essence, the Christocentric hermeneutic attempts to find Christ as the subject or topic of every text. It desires to show that every text relates directly to Christ. Which is why some say it is the only true Christian preaching. The problem ensues when the Christocentric hermeneutic applies that mindset to texts that don’t call for it.


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Are droves of Muslims coming to faith in Christ via dreams and visions? Answer: No. Gary Gilley explains by comparing to scripture, in this essay from 2016.
Jesus used a variety of approaches when speaking with unbelievers, depending on the individual or group (e.g., Nicodemus, Rich Young Ruler, Woman at the Well), but typically He identified who He was, confronted their sin, called them to repentance, called them to believe in Him, cautioned them to count the cost of discipleship, and admonished them to take up their crosses daily and follow Him. He didn’t state all those elements in every case, but collectively they constituted the thrust of His message
By way of contrast, Isa [Muslim version of Jesus] typically identifies who he is (or the dreamer instinctively knows who he is) and tells the dreamer he loves him and wants him (the dreamer) to follow him (Isa). Sometimes the dreamer is overwhelmed with a sense of love and peace just by being in Isa’s presence (which was never the case with unbelievers in the presence of Jesus). So the message that emerges is one of believing in Isa and following him apparently apart from the Holy Spirit convicting of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8).

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Do women have to submit to all men? How can we demonstrate that although the roles of men and women in the church (and the home) are very different, we are equal in value in the sight of God?

To answer your question, women are to submit to their husbands.

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:22)

All church members are to submit to their overseers.

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. (Heb 13:17)

We are all to submit to God.

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 5:7.

We all have to submit to government. Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-17

Women do not have to submit to random males.

We believers are all of equal value in the sight of God. This value is from above, it is not attached to man-made standards of who has what role. We do not have to demonstrate this love, God already has.

So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them (Genesis 1:27).

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8).

Thursday, October 19, 2017

When did co-pastor married couples become acceptable?

In 2007 Thabiti Anyabwile wrote:
It was once a rising trend. It’s now a model for ministry for significant numbers of churches and pastors. It simultaneously offers itself as an example of deep partnership between husbands and wives, and dismisses biblical instruction. What am I talking about? The widespread approach to pastoral ministry where a husband and a wife "co-pastor" a local church.
Co-pastoring in this case refers to churches where the male pastor and his wife are listed as equal pastors of the flock. Since that article above was written ten years ago, co-ed co-pastors are touted as something acceptable - desirable even.


These two are not married but are in a co-ed, egalitarian pastorate

Not just co-pastor, but co-SENIOR pastor. Bobbie loves them titles.


V. Osteen: co-pastoring, which dilutes her motherly duties, is not a good trade.

This article is from Christianity Today. No wonder
the magazine's nickname is 'Christianity Astray'

I remember the Presidential election of 1992. Bill Clinton was running. His wife is Hillary Clinton. Clinton used to brag that "America was getting two for the price of one."
It was during the 1992 presidential campaign that Arkansas governor Bill Clinton — the nation's first baby-boomer presidential candidate, running against President George H. W. Bush — used the phrase "two for the price of one." This twofer concept was Clinton’s quaint way of bragging (to the delight of feminists) that his wife, Hillary, an accomplished corporate lawyer and fellow Yale Law School graduate, was going to play a major role in his administration well beyond that of a traditional First Lady. (National Review)
How did that work out for them? Hillary led a Health Care Reform that crashed spectacularly and she was publicly humiliated. Then Whitewater Scandal happened and things got worse.
From the moment she dazzled Capitol Hill last autumn ('In future the President will be known as your husband,' Dan Rostenkowski, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, gushed at one appearance) Hillary has been her plan's most potent weapon. No longer. In Washington more than anywhere, vulnerability equals weakness. Today Hillary Clinton is vulnerable; so, therefore, is Bill Clinton. 'Two for the price of one' has turned from blessing into curse. (The Independent UK, 1994
America was not impressed with the twofer Presidency. Even less so, are Christians impressed with a twofer pastorate.

Simply put, the Bible forbids women preaching. Church teaching is meant for the men to perform. The leading is to be done by the men.

I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. (1 Timothy 2:12).

Elders/overseers/pastors are to be "above reproach", and "a man". (Titus 1:5-8).

Installing a "twofer" pastorate, whether both are paid or not, formal or informal, defacto or explicit, is unbiblical.

At a recent Grace Community Church Q&A a man asked John MacArthur,

"Would you ever allow your wife to preach?"




Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Homosexuality is still a sin, despite plaudits for the scene in #Victoria

I've been watching the TV series Victoria, a series about Queen Victoria and her monarchy. It's fictionalized, but with episodes focusing on actual historical incidents. The reviews seem to render it historically accurate for the most part. There are a few minor things that aren't exactly correct, and some things they collapsed in time or for effect. However, there is one scene which, well, isn't accurate at all.

The homosexual community had heard that season 2 of the series, was going to feature a gay sub-story. The LGBTQ's were happy about this. As it happened, Lord Alfred Paget and Edward Drummond (Prime Minister Robert Peel’s private secretary) have been depicted all season as two men attracted to each other, with longing looks across drawing rooms, yearning among the manicured gardens, loaded innuendo, and sly smiles. The tension between the two men had been building until they exploded into a kiss while ambling along a pond shore.

Sadly, many tweets and messages along these lines emerged afterward:

Source Radio Times
The scene to which I refer today is the one afterward with the Lady in Waiting Duchess of Buccleuch, played by a historically inaccurate 79 year old Diana Rigg (the real Duchess was only 8 years older than the Queen, not 50-plus years.)

Spoiler...











In history, there was an assassination attempt on PM Peel's life. Peel's secretary Drummond really was shot by a bullet meant for Peel. He died five days later at home, not instantly as the show depicted. In the show, Drummond heroically leaped in front of the Peel, shoving him aside and saving his life. Creative license for dramatic tension, that's OK. But Paget was left bereft that his blossoming love affair with Drummond was cut quite short. When the Duchess received the news of Drummond's sacrificial death, she called for Paget and brought him into a private drawing room. She compassionately told him the news about Drummond's death. Then she gave sage advice about hiding his grief from the mother and the fiance at the funeral. "They must be the chief mourners", she said.

The Duchess said with care and concern in her eyes that she may be old but she is not blind, and had seen how the two looked at each other.

This is anachronistic. The British attitude toward homosexuality was that it was repulsive and reprehensible, and a threat to family life. It was immoral, as encapsulated in the various laws that were not eventually repealed in all corners of the United Kingdom until 1992. They even coined a term for it, "The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name."
Laws for society combatting same sex relations have dated back to the sixteenth century (Upchurch 14), and much of British society deemed homosexuality as 'the worst of crimes' (Upchurch 49). This unspeakable act threatened the stability of Victorian society (Brady 46) so much so that a homosexual identity did not exist in this era (Brady 17). This does not mean that British citizens did not know the characteristics of these types of men, and they had a great distaste for them (Brady 11) during the nineteenth century (Upchurch 13).
Many believed that one could not be moral and have these sexual relations (Upchurch 16), and for this reason homosexuality was the most problematic issue facing British society (Upchurch 16). For this fundamentally British society, it was embarrassing to speak of this sexual issue (O'Connor 112). If it was a wildly spoken of topic, the structure of society would 'have been shaken at its foundations (Brady 1-2; Brady 24). Source
So a Duchess cooing and comforting a young man devastated at the loss of a homosexual lover would never have occurred, partly because such things were never discussed, and partly because such a co-ed discussion would be considered uncouth.

These modern-day attitudes inserted into historical dramas are a problem. They might make certain powerful lobbies happy, but they aren't an accurate window of the general attitude of the times. Once we see these kind of anachronistic attitudes often enough, we might start to believe the propaganda.

Though homosexuality has been with us since after the Fall, it might be good to look at what the Bible says about it, rather than listening the constantly pressuring culture. Even though we reject the pressure, at some point it might be making inroads to our mind, which is supposed to be transformed to holiness in the likeness of Christ.

The Bible is clear that God created humans to enjoy sex only within the marriage between a man and a woman. (Genesis 1:27, 28; Leviticus 18:22; Proverbs 5:18, 19). The Bible condemns sexual activity that is not between a husband and wife, whether it is homosexual or heterosexual. (1 Corinthians 6:18).

When Jesus smote Sodom and Gomorrah for homosexuality it was actually an example of judgment that will come upon all those who indulge "unnatural desires." As Jude 1:7 states,

just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

Romans 1:28-32 shows the progression of sin in an individual heart or a nation's heart. Homosexuality is nearly last in the progression into darkness, demonstrating how far a society has sunk when they finally begin to engage in the sin of homosexuality.

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. (Romans 1:26-27)

Homosexuality according to the Bible is detestable, shameful, contrary to sound doctrine, and people practicing it are wrongdoers. (Leviticus 20:13, 1 Corinthians 6:9, 1 Timothy 1:10, Romans 1:27)

God never accepts homosexuality as normal. It isn't.

However, if you repent, He will forgive you and He sends the Holy Spirit to help resist ungodly lusts.

If you or someone you know are struggling with a loved one who indulges homosexual desires, here are a couple of excellent resources. Though we do not condone any sinful behavior, including homosexuality, we must

Show proper respect to everyone, (2 Peter 2:17a, NIV)

What Letter Would You Write to A Gay Son?

David Murray explains,
Five years ago, Redditor RegBarc "came out" to his father. Shortly afterwards, his dad disowned him in a handwritten letter which RegBarc shared with the world on Tuesday, adding the comment: "This is how hate sounds."
He's right, it was a hateful letter. Murray continues,
As I find it hard to believe that a true Christian would ever write such a letter, I’ve drafted a letter that I hope a Christian father would write (although I’m sure we all hope we’ll never have to write it).
The second, hypothetical letter is beautiful. It's what love sounds like.

The 9Marks Mailbag is the best thing I read online on a consistent basis. Their answers are grace filled and practical, firmly based on a biblical worldview. It's very helpful. This answer by ex-homosexual Rosaria Butterfield is the most helpful I've seen on this subject.

How should parents treat their 18-year-old daughter’s relationship with her girlfriend? How do we love them without condoning their sin?



Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Reformation resources for you!

The 500th anniversary of the Reformation is coming up on October 31st. This is the date when, 500 years ago, Roman Catholic monk and professor Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the University of Wittenberg’s chapel door. Nailing a tract on the door was not in itself an act of rebellion, but rather the usual and customary method of starting a discussion among scholars of religious points of the day. It was the 16th century's version of the internet.

However, Luther's theses were not just questions and discussion points, but a devastating critique of Roman Catholic practices. Luther had found in his studies that Roman Catholic faith and practice varied greatly from the word of God. Luther was especially upset over the practice of Indulgences, or payment to the Church for reduction or absolution of certain sins. Paying for sins to be forgiven seemed incredibly wrong to Luther. He wrote up his questions, intending to spark a discussion.

He sparked a discussion.

The discussion has been ongoing for 500 years.

The discussion split The Catholic Church and pitted it against those who were protesting, now known as Protestants.

The most confusing thing to me when I was an unsaved person was the Catholic Church. I thought it was a Christian church. Because of its size and longevity, I thought it represented true Christianity. What I didn't know was that the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) is as far from Christianity as the east is from the west. It does not represent the faith of Jesus, but instead is a false belief system.

The protest Luther made was against certain practices and doctrines of the RCC. For example, the Jesus we know through the inspired scriptures is the central authority, not the Pope or other officials. Practices and rituals and good works do not save. Indulgences are nowhere found in the Bible. Though Luther initially wanted to renew the church, eventually it divided over these and other issues, and the Protestant reformation began.

Here are some Reformation Day resources for you-


Why We're Protestant: An Introduction to the Five Solas of the Reformation Kindle Edition. A paperback edition exists. By Nate Pickowicz, Foreword by Steven J. Lawson. Nate is a pastor who shepherds a church in New England. His wife Jessica has written a Bible study to go along with MacArthur's new book, Biblical Doctrine and facilitates a Facebook group regarding the weekly study sessions.

Synopsis: How do you discern true vs. false Christianity? In the days of the Protestant Reformation, the core tenets of the faith were strenuously examined. In the end, the Reformers maintained that at the heart of the Christian faith stood five main credos: sola Scriptura, sola gratia, sola fide, solus Christus, and soli Deo gloria. This book examines these five "solas" and makes a definitive case for why we're Protestant.



Reformation Women: Sixteenth-Century Figures Who Shaped Christianity's Rebirth

By Rebecca VanDoodewaard. Rebecca and her husband William used to run a blog I liked, called The Christian Pundit.

Synopsis: Women are an essential element in church history. Just as Deborah, Esther, and the New Testament Marys helped shape Bible history, so the women of the Reformed church have helped to make its history great. In Reformation Women, Rebecca Vandoodewaard introduces readers to twelve sixteenth-century women who are not as well known today as contemporaries like Katie Luther and Lady Jane Grey. Providing an example to Christians today of strong service to Christ and His church, these influential, godly women were devoted to Reformation truth, in many cases provided support for their husbands, practiced hospitality, and stewarded their intellectual abilities. Their strength and bravery will inspire you, and your understanding of church history will become richer as you learn how God used them to further the Reformation through their work and influence.


Long Before Luther: Tracing the Heart of the Gospel From Christ to the Reformation by Nathan Busenitz  (Author), John MacArthur (Foreword)

Synopsis: Where was the gospel before the Reformation?

Contemporary evangelicals often struggle to answer that question. As a result, many Roman Catholics are quick to allege that the Reformation understanding of the gospel simply did not exist before the 1500s. They assert that key Reformation doctrines, like sola fide, were nonexistent in the first fifteen centuries of church history. Rather, they were invented by Martin Luther, John Calvin, and others.

That is a serious charge, and one that evangelicals must be ready to answer. If an evangelical understanding of the gospel is only 500 years old, we are in major trouble. However, if it can be demonstrated that Reformers were not inventing something new, but instead were recovering something old, then key tenets of the Protestant faith are greatly affirmed. Hence, the need for this book.


The Mother of the Reformation: The Amazing Life and Story of Katharine Luther


by Ernst Kroker. Synopsis- The author paints an intimate picture of Katie and of family life in the Black Cloister during the formative years of the Reformation, showing how Katie s marriage to Martin Luther was a multifaceted vocation, with such tasks as household brew mistress, cloister landlady, property overseer, gardener, cow- and pig-herder, and fishwife. Indeed, Katie oversaw their home much like a lord in her kingdom, yet in the midst of it all stood the man to whom her work, concern, and duty were directed.


Resources for children

The Barber Who Wanted to Pray by R.C. Sproul

Synopsis: This imaginative tale from R.C. Sproul, based on a true story, begins one evening with Mr. McFarland leading family devotions. When his daughter asks him how she should pray, Mr. McFarland shares a 500-year-old story about a barber and his famous customer.

Master Peter is a barber well-known to all in his village. One day, when Martin Luther the Reformer walks into his shop, the barber musters up the courage to ask the outlawed monk how to pray. Luther responds by writing a letter to the barber. The barber’s life and many others’ are changed as they encounter a model for prayer by using the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and the Apostles’ Creed.

Martin Luther- Christian Biographies for Young Readers, by Simonetta Carr

Synopsis- Five hundred years ago, a monk named Martin Luther wrote ninety-five questions, hoping to start a discussion about sin and repentance at the University of Wittenberg in Germany. In a few months those questions had stirred the nation; a few years later, the continent. Today we know that those questions changed the course of both the Western church and world history. In this volume for children, Simonetta Carr tells the compelling story of this father of the Protestant Reformation, tracing his quest for peace with God, his lifelong heroic stand for God’s truth, and his family life and numerous accomplishments. The Reformer’s greatest accomplishment, she writes, "has been his uncompromising emphasis on the free promise of the gospel."

Movie-

Martin Luther: The idea that changed the world, PBS documentary, 9/2017, as synopsized by Banner of Truth Trust here. The PBS documentary has an extended trailer here. Official website here.



Monday, October 16, 2017

We're not THAT bad of sinners, are we??

Who goes to heaven?

"I'm a pretty good person. I'm going to heaven for sure."

"I'm nice. Definitely I'm going to heaven."

"I'm certainly not a Hitler! It's people like serial killers or dictators that won't go to heaven."

If you're like me, you hear comments like that all the time. I used to think that I was nice enough and that I was headed for heaven too.

But then a little worm of doubt would set in. I'm nice, most people are nice, but if that was true why is the world like it is? Why would heaven be any different than earth if all the same people just transfer from here to there?

In witnessing to people and telling them they are sinners as I am, they reject almost instantly the notion that their sins would prevent them from going to heaven. This is because they compare their sins to other people, and always the worst people, of course. Hitler, Idi Amin, OJ Simpson, Jeffrey Dahmer... now those are some bad people. I'm not like them. Ergo, I am heaven bound.

Trying to let people know the level of their depravity is a hard task. Even most Christians don't truly understand the depths to which our sin have plunged. I'm reminded often by the Holy Spirit that no matter how wretched I know I am, there are still many layers of muck I can sink to. I'm often astonished at how deep my sin goes.

We're not good. We're bad. As a matter of fact, we're a lot worse than we think.

Unsaved people will balk at this truth. We're wretched, really putrid. Here is an example from the bible of how wretched we are.

As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. She followed Paul and us, crying out, "These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation." And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, "I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her." And it came out that very hour.

But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers. (Acts 16:16-19).

EPrata collage
Notwithstanding the issue of slavery, the owners of the girl were using her to get rich. She had a demon and that demon could access the world behind the veil and prophesy unknown things. Since people have always been curious about the future and what is hidden to us, they paid good money to hear fortunes told.

When the owners saw that their means of gain was gone, they roused a riot and went to the lawmakers and decision-makers for redress.

They did not celebrate that the girl had been delivered. They were not happy that her very body was now released from use by a potent spirit. They did not care that this young, vulnerable girl had been used by demons. They were only ticked that their fortune was vaporizing.

This is exactly the same situation as a child molester kingpin now ticked that his best girl had been saved out of his grip. Exactly. The. Same. This is deep wretchedness. We are sinners through and through. Do not think for a moment that your sin (and mine) is not as bad. It is and it could and would wax worse and worse had not the Lord saved your soul.

This link goes to a short bio of this young girl from BibleGateway, called All the Women of the Bible: The Demon-Possessed Damsel. It is extremely interesting.

We are wretches, sinners and we are due the righteous penalty for our sin. But God...if not for Him...if not for His proactive election of those who would become His... Oh! Oh!

We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19).

He loved us despite our wretchedness. He loved us despite our dirtiness. He loved us anyway. I'm eternally grateful for His love. I'm eternally relieved He has dealt with my sin. It is now forgotten, nailed to the cross, and as far from the east is from the west.

Thank you Lord for dealing with my wretched sin in this magnificent way you have ordained.



Sunday, October 15, 2017

Prayer, an act of worship

Excerpt from David McIntyre's The Hidden Life of Prayer, chapter 6. This book, written in 1913, is available for free online, as well as for purchase in book or Kindle form.


The prayer of faith, like some plant rooted in a fruitful soil, draws its virtue from a disposition which has been brought into conformity with the mind of Christ.

1. It is subject to the Divine will-"This is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us" (1 John 5:14).

2. It is restrained within the interest of Christ-"Whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son" (John 14:13).

3. It is instructed in the truth-"If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you" (John 15:7).

4. It is energized by the Spirit-"Able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us" (Eph. 3:20).

5. It is interwoven with love and mercy-"And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any; that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses" (Mark 11:25).

6. It is accompanied with obedience-"Whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight" (1 John 3:22).

7. It is so earnest that it will not accept denial-"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you" (Luke 11:9).

8. It goes out to look for, and to hasten its answer "The supplication of a righteous man availeth much in its working" (James 5:16, RV).34

But, although the prayer of faith springs from a divinely-implanted disposition, there is nothing mysterious in the act of faith. It is simply an assurance which relies upon a sufficient warning.

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Saturday, October 14, 2017

Are my personal experiences, visions, dreams, signs and wonders valid?

On October 12 I'd posted an essay examining the difference between people today who claim to have visions accompanied by seizures or other physical manifestations, and people in the Bible who had visions, none of which evidenced the same kind of violent thrashing we see in today's false visionaries. In fact, I'd included several Bible verses to show that these kind of visions produced the exact physical experiences that demon-possessed people had.

Subsequently, I had a request to look at the movements of the New Apostolic Reformation and IHOP/Mike Bickle, and their impact on Millennial Christians. Millennials are a younger set of Christians who are a generation raised totally in the environment that the aforementioned movements produced. To these kids, visions and manifestations are normal and expected, accepted even in conservative corners of the evangelical faith. Many College and University campuses have IHOP-like prayer rooms, 'soaking rooms' and promote youth-aimed conferences such as OneThing and Passion where the youths commonly display these manifestations and believe they had a genuine spiritual experience. Sadly, the leaders there confirm it.

I apologize for the length. I did not want to split the essay into two or three parts. I broke up the text with large subject headings and photos.

Bethel Healing room
One leader of this movement is Mike Bickle of IHOP- International House of Prayer. He also lead a megachurch in Kansas City and oversees a Bible College. Bickle says he receives visions all the time and also has been to heaven twice.
I've had time when the Lord has come upon me when I laughed and could not stop...where I've had times I was thrashing around and shaking violently, I've had times where I've felt tremendous heat..."
None of these physical manifestations are biblical, as we saw in my previous essay. The hallmark of the Holy Spirit or angels who visited people in the Bible was never violent and the hallmark of those who received a vision was self-control and awareness.

Many millennials are under the impression that not only should they be experiencing direct encounters with God, Jesus, and angels, but they should be manifesting some kind of physical proof of the encounter either during or after. The proofs usually come in the form of 'liver shivers', babbling in 'tongues', thrashing or seizures, uncontrollable laughing or jerking, and the like.

Moreover, these millennials believe that when they do have a personal, physical encounter with the divine, no one can or should judge it. The fact that the experience happened is proof enough that it is genuine. Unfortunately, the visions and experiences and encounters then become their truth. Which again, cannot be judged because it's personal.

This blog essay will explain why their attitude is wrong on both counts. Physical and personal encounters with the Divine in the forms commonly believed to be normal today are not expected and not normal. Secondly, we are absolutely to examine, test, or even judge all things, and especially experiences if they do occur.

Short History-Summary


The NAR or New Apostolic Reformation AKA Dominionist Movement is not new, but the modern version can be traced to Mike Bickle's Kansas City Fellowship and really got moving in the 1990s after they joined with the Association of Vineyard Churches led by John Wimber in 1990. The movement is defined expertly by Amy Spreeman and Marsha West at Berean Research,
The New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) is a dominionist movement which asserts that God is restoring the lost offices of church governance, namely the offices of Prophet and Apostle. 
Leading figures in this seemingly loosely organized movement claim that these prophets and apostles alone have the power and authority to execute God’s plans and purposes on earth. They believe they are laying the foundation for a global church, governed by them. 
They place a greater emphasis on dreams, visions and extra-biblical revelation than they do on the Bible, claiming that their revealed teachings and reported experiences (e.g. trips to heaven, face-to-face conversations with Jesus, visits by angels) can not be proven by the ‘old’ Scripture. (Source)
Painful and sad video still of a student at IHOP giving her testimony about the false
manifestations she and her friends experienced. This young woman is jerking
and shuddering constantly. The MC notes this in the closed caption.
At the source link you will find Fast Facts in bullet point form, common traits among the different branches, and a list of leaders. Some of these leaders of this dangerous but permeating movement are Bethel Church/Bill Johnson, IHOP/Mike Bickle, and Hillsong/Brian and Bobbie Houston. The deception of this dangerous movement includes the music that stems from it. I recommend further exploration at the source link above, which leads to a wealth of information and also testimonies of once-deceived adherents of the movement who have gracefully been delivered from its deception.

Even NAR leader Bickle of IHOP admits most of the manifestations are fake. Here he is quoted from a video:
I've seen people thrown against walls, and thrashed around and thrown across rooms. I've seen a lot of fake and I've seen a lot of real. The real is worth it. Most of it's fake. Most places that I've been, the majority of the manifestations are not caused by the Holy Spirit. I will allow the fake because I so believe in the genuine.
Bickle continues by saying that due to his longevity within the movement he can discern the difference between the huge quantity of the fake and the few real experiences. Notwithstanding his power to "allow" or disallow various fake spirits to manifest within his flock. I have no comment on that, ahem.

Vulnerable Youths & Discernment


A participant at OneThing IHOP 2010 wrote,
In another tweet, I said something along the lines of  having given more high-fives in one night than in my entire life. Everyone was so crazy happy, dancing, and celebrating. This is why people drink, to be this “happy” to be alive, to feel like they belong somewhere– where you know everyone there is experiencing that same party. Haha, maybe they gassed the room or something, but it was unbelievable. source
Why does the NAR/IHOP/Signs & Wonders movement attract so many youths? Simply, they are usually new to the faith, less knowledgeable and more vulnerable. Like the young man above, they want to feel like they belong, want to feel happy, want...something. Those in college are away from the oversight of their parents for the first time. They're testing boundaries. These kids are extra vulnerable.

Young Timothy the pastor was guided by Paul and told to set an example in speech and conduct and faith and purity. (1 Timothy 4:12). I don't believe that thrashing around on a floor or uncontrollable laughter or barking would meet the standard of conduct advised here. Isaiah wrote that "even youths grow weary and tired and young men stumble and fall" (Isaiah 40:30) but the advice was "they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength." (Isaiah 40:31).

David asked "How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word." (Psalm 119:9)

Herein lay the issue. The Bible says to test all things. All. These things are tested against the Word. Then guarded.

Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. (1 Thessalonians 5:20-21).

This verse is a favorite among the Charismatic people who enjoy speaking or hearing ecstatic utterances claiming divine inspiration or revelation. However, the word prophecies does not now mean spoken revelation from God. That did occur in the early church before the canon was closed, to be sure. (Acts 11:27-28, 1 Timothy 1:18, 1 Timothy 4:14.) It refers today to the written word of God. The call for careful discernment in verse 21 is a response to the command in verse 20. Examine the preached word carefully and test it against what is written. What aligns with the word is to be accepted, what departs from the word is to be shunned as evil.
Everyone seemed to feel God's love all the time and have crazy experiences, dreams, visions, prophesies. I was dissatisfied with just Bible study. I wanted more, and was constantly seeking more prophecies and visions and signs. NAR adherent's testimony
Such a heavy emphasis on personal experiences makes one thirst for more of them, and eventually the word itself is shunned as evil and the prophetic utterances and signs are accepted as truth. They are much more exciting when experienced in a room full of excited youths dancing and yelling and enjoying loud music and strobe lights. Compared to a quiet closet with a Bible, notebook, and pen, the former draws the vulnerable much more than does the latter. Yet even the most liberally deceived person must accept that if they have an experience, vision, dream, or revelation, the Bible says to test it against the word.

Tweet from ffpaladin, participant at OneThing 2010:
Omg this is so ridiculous… This is the craziest party ive ever been too…
Everyone is dancing around.. Tens of thousands… #onething2010
Orderly Worship -What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. ... For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. (1 Corinthians 14:26, 33).

Why do they hate the word of God?


Yes, they hate it. Even millennials who are not involved in the more dramatic or charismatic segments of this movement will eventually learn to despise the word and love the experience. See this testimony from Lizzy, a former NAR/IHOP participant:
We were witnessing all kinds of signs and wonders, and assumed they had to be of God. Never once did we recall or were reminded that the Bible talks of FALSE signs and wonders, and even though they would emphasize to the crowd to not fixate on the sign but on the Lord, it was the manifestations that got all the attention and the glory.
Saddleback pastor Rick Warren wrote in 1998 that, "We’re just a church that tries to look for [spiritual] waves, and we ride them. And then we try to do it with balance." You know waves. There's a crest. And there's a trough. Disappointment comes in the trough, and the seeker of experiences looks more and more desperately for the crests. You're always looking for a crest and not the steady growth of the word of God. Spiritual adrenaline can be deadly. Yet if one trusts in God and His word, there is never disappointment, because He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8).

It comes down to an issue of authority. The self wants itself to be the authority, and not the word of God, which is objective and infallible. Satan tempted Eve in the garden with this, that the self can be the authority and not the one and only command she had been given. (Genesis 3:4-6).

Inevitably, those who rely on experiences are refusing authority or oversight via public testing and submission to the word. Yet the best thing one can do is rely on the word only.
Getting into the Word of God was the best thing we could do, and the Lord through Scripture showed us some of the error that we needed to be re-taught. We were all still in  a lot of error. ... We began to realize that so much of what we had thought was God at one time...wasn't. The Holy Spirit wouldn't contradict Himself when the Bible stated that two of His fruits were gentleness and SELF-CONTROL. Lizzy's NAR Testimony
Let's say that a person experiences a manifestation of one kind or another. Let's say he decides to allow testing of that event. They go to the word. Their experience aligns with the word. In that case, they did not need the experience, because they had a more sure word. (2 Peter 1:19). If it doesn't align with the word, they didn't need the experience, because it was false. The scripture is living and active. It is the mechanism we are promised that will grow us.

If a person refuses to allow testing of their experience they are in violation of scripture, since--

--the gifts are for the edification of the church and not personal hoarding (1 Corinthians 14:12, Ephesians 4:12)
--we are to submit to the leaders (Hebrews 13:17).

What are we to experience?


We do not need to go into a soaking room, nor need to collect with others who spout prophecies, dance crazily, or await a liver shiver. Doing so only brings disappointment anyway. Please note that adding to the inevitable disappointment, Bickle persistently advises that those who "have" should not look down on those who "have not." By this advice, he admits that seeking signs and experiences leads to a two-tiered hierarchy. Here is another testimony, this one from Sola Sisters from a Passion Conference which speaks to this:
At the Passion 2012 conference, Beth Moore, John Piper, Louie Giglio and company taught/led an entire sports arena (45,000 college aged students) in (attempting to 'hear' God's voice). My son's friends in attendance of this conference told of a young girl standing outside the arena crying her eyes out because she had not heard the audible voice of God as they had instructed. Others tried to comfort her but were also distraught at not hearing a thing. 
Here is what life in Christ promises. We do not need to invite the Holy Spirit or seek Him, He is IN US. He is already "shown up." He is present within each and every believer. Can one seek or want  any closer experience than that? We are gifted with the Person of God dwelling in us for the duration of our earthly life! Why do they want more?

Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16). This page gives fifteen more verses stating that the Spirit is in us. We experience Him every moment of every day!

Yet the promises continue. He gives us common grace. When we breathe air, see a sunset, open our umbrella against the rain, we experience God's common grace.

Unretouched photo of a rural sunset. Grace. (EPrata photo)
We experience His providence. When we avoid a car crash or when we are in a car crash, get cancer, are cured of cancer, have a baby or miscarry, we experience God because in His sovereignty He brings all things to pass for His glory and good for those who love him.

We experience God when we pray, for we are in communion with Him. When we repent, we experience Him, for He is pleased. When we bring water to those who thirst or visit the poor, we experience Him because His pleasure is in us when we do those things.

The difference between those who seek tangible experiences or freshly and constantly manifested feelings and mature believers is that we base our experience on faith and trust, and not things that are tangible or visible.

An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. So he left them and departed. (Matthew 16:4).

Why do I rain on your parade?


I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2).

It is the word of God that transforms via the mind, not experiences felt physically.

I live near Athens GA. There are many institutes of higher learning in Athens alone, UGA has 35,000 enrolled. That is a lot of vulnerable youths. Many are being drawn into these supernatural events and taught that such manifestations are normal. My heart breaks over this as much as if you saw a toddler walking into a busy street. We need to alert, teach, love, and protect our youths.

Just as you can't perceive growth in height, from day to day or month to month, you can't often perceive your own spiritual growth. If you are in the word, you're growing! This is a certainty. You do not need to seek experiences to confirm it.

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. (2 Peter 3:18).

We do not grow from experiences that we had from inside us. We grow from external truth that only comes from God and His word.

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3)

We all need more Bible engagement and less experience experiencing and less seeking manifestations.

Do not be drawn in. Stay in the word of God


Avoid these people and their works. List from Berean Research (except Chan, I added him, see picture below for why.) At the Berean Research link each of the names has its own link so the reader can learn ore about why they are to be avoided.

Francis Chan has partnered with Mike Bickle at Bickle's IHOP OneThing Youth Conference for the last several years. Chan considers Bickle a brother. Also avoid people who regularly partner with Bickle or Bethel Redding.

C. Peter Wagner
Chuck Pierce
Bob Jones
Paul Cain
Cindy Jacobs,
Mike Bickle (International House of Prayer –IHOP)
Rick Joyner
Bill Johnson (Bethel Church, Redding CA)
Todd Bentley
Lou Engle
Brian & Bobbie Houston (Hillsong Church)
Becky Fischer
Brian Simmons
Steve Shultz (The Elijah List)
Michael Brown
Rod Parsley
More…

John Kelly, Bill Haman, Cindy Jacobs, Dutch Sheets, James Goll, John Eckhardt, Jim Laffoon, Jack Deere, Johnny Enlow, Barbara Yoder, Charles Kraft, Bob Beckett, Che Ahn, Naomi Dowdy, Mary Crum, Jack Hayford, John Arnott, Stacy Campbell, Patricia King, Phil Pringle, Yonggi Cho, Beni Johnson, Jen Johnson, Kris Vallotton, Carl Lentz, David Barton, Steven Strang, Robert Stern, Stephen Strader, George Otis, Ed Silvoso, Janet Porter, George Barna, Mary Glazier, Thomas Muthee, Tom Hess, Samuel Rodriguez, Eddie Smith, Lance Wallnau, Loren Cunningham, Bob Beckett, Os Hillman, Jacqueline del Rosario, Jill Griffith, Francis Oda, Graham Power, Francis Frangipagne, Wendy Alec, Amanda Wells, Katherine Ruonala, Lana Vawser, Kong Hee & Sun Ho, Theo Wolmarans, Jennifer LeClaire and many others.

Keywords you will hear when encountering Dominionist/NAR people:

under the power of the Spirit
fresh move of the Spirit
encounter
anointing
presence

story (as in, personal experience is the story rather than sure, absolute propositional truth in the Bible)
manifested
meta-narrative
Apostle
revival
unity
kingdom (lots of focus on the kingdom, not kingdom as properly referenced in scripture)

The Dominionist/NAR influence is pervasive. Here are just a few examples of how their influence has spread. These events are regular and ongoing, in and around Athens, where many youths will be drawn in.


Chan has partnered with IHOP at the OneThing conference at least since 2013. The event below is for the 2017 conference. It is aimed at YOUTH.



The write-up below is for an upcoming November Awakening Conference in the little town of Royston GA of all places.

This Transformational School of Supernatural Ministry is part of Athens Link and is aimed at college kids.


Pray for your youth. Youth, if you are involved in one of these "ministries' and have been taught that your experiences and manifestations and signs are normal, please pray to Jesus for wisdom and for Him to open your eyes.





Final Exams

Our church is located in a college town. Our pastor had been a minister and teacher to youth and college kids at a church before taking on t...