Friday, August 8, 2014

Links for: Grace vs. Law; Lord's Table; Historical Adam, Theology of Sleep

One thing I love about summer vacation, which is going to end Sunday night at midnight [sigh] is that I have time to read widely. I can explore the web to find new, good Christian men and women bloggers, essayists, and teachers. I can study with commentaries and listen to sermons from preachers long loved or new to me. Or even bask in the doctrinally solid animations of Chris Powers. Here are some links worth considering, from writers worth reading more of, and issues worth pondering.

EPrata photo
Jerry Wragg at Grace & Granite writes today about the oft-heard phrase "Gospel-centered" and how some people take that to mean grace excludes the Law. Or at least, the commandments in the New Testament. As in, "I'm saved by grace and striving to adhere to Jesus' commands is law, so I don't have to try." And if you don't think there aren't commands in the NT, read all the way to the end of the Great Commission verse, Matthew 28:19-20. Here are a couple of sentences he phrased succinctly:
"How can anyone claim to be “gospel-centered” and depreciate the very commandments of Jesus at its center?"

But on the other hand, if we truly believe the gospel, our submission to Christ will not be for the purpose of adding anything to His cross, but rather to magnify His glory through the display of His power.
Here is Mr Wragg's essay about Gospel centered grace and what it actually means. Gospel-Off-Centered? – Part 1

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Was Adam a Historical Person? For 100 years or more, since Mr Darwin proposed evolution, we have been dealing with naysayers who claim that earth can't be old and Adam can't be new. That we can believe Adam evolved and still retain the essential beliefs inherent in the Gospel, the problem of death, the problem of sin, and the issue of Jesus' resurrection. Here at Ligonier Ministries, they argue otherwise. Here is a sample:
We may frame the issue in the form of two related questions. First, does the Bible require us to believe that Adam was a historical person? Second, would anything be lost in the gospel if we were to deny Adam’s historicity? In answer to the first question, yes, the Bible requires us to believe that Adam was a historical person. Some of the clearest testimony about Adam comes from the New Testament.
May we uphold universal sin and death while discounting the way in which the Scripture says sin and death entered the world? The answer is no. The Bible does not give us that option. It clearly teaches that sin entered the world through the one action of one historical man, Adam (Rom. 5:12).
In a post-script to this snippet, may I remind us that Mr Billy Graham holds the opposite view, that one may believe God evolved Adam and did not create him in one day, and that this presents no harm to our biblical world view. He said in 1997, [emphasis mine]
The Bible is a book of Redemption, and of course I accept the Creation story. I believe that God did create the universe. I believe that God created man, and whether it came by an evolutionary process and at a certain point He took this person or being and made him a living soul or not, does not change the fact that God did create man. ... whichever way God did it makes no difference as to what man is and man's relationship to God. From, Billy Graham: Personal Thoughts of a Public Man, 1997. p. 72-74

How can the bible be a book of redemption without the historically created, unevolved Adam, as Mr Graham asserts? As Ligonier presents,
"Absent a historical fall, the Bible’s account of redemption through the Second and Last Adam, Jesus Christ, makes no sense at all. How can it at all be meaningful to say with the Bible that God, in His sovereign and infinite mercy, has recovered and restored what was lost in the fall? To deny the historicity of Adam is no trivial matter."
Read about the Adam issue at Ligonier to compare, and see the damage Mr Graham's view does to both our biblical worldview, the Gospel, and our position on the sufficiency of the bible.

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Wikipedia commons

Pastor Tom Genovese is a pastor in the far reaches of Downeast Maine. He posted about "A Problem at Lord's Supper", a sensitive essay with a view of the Lord's Supper I enjoyed very much. He proposed,
However, we need to ask ourselves, What is it that I'm to look for in my self-examination prior to partaking the Lord's Supper? The best way to answer this is to see why it was that Paul told the Corinthians to examine themselves. What were these Corinthians doing that made them unworthy to participate in this church ordinance? I believe verse 22 holds our answer. There were some in the church that held such a disdain for their brethren that Paul said that they "despised the church of God" to the point of shame. In verse 29, Paul tells these unworthy Christians that chastisement is a result of "not discerning the Lord's body."
And the rest of the essay continues with an explanation of this self-examination. Read it and see what you think.

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I love to study the theology of sleep. And this is not solely because I love my naps during summer afternoons! There are many kinds of sleep in the bible. Romans 11:8 shows us one, and I use the KJV here

(According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.

The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals is another good spot to read more good stuff. This recent essay "A Biblical Theology of Sleep" presents interesting food for thought. Like this:
Whereas Jonah avoided God's call by sleeping in the ship during a storm, Jesus exhibited faith in God's call by sleeping in the boat during a storm (Mk 4:36-41).

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Alistair Begg preaches a wonderful 25-minute sermon about The Use and Abuse of Words. Do the words we speak harm? Divide? Or do they edify? Are they kind? Are they necessary? Words can enhance the progress of God's people or they can destroy praise and inhibit the progress of God's people. Has truth vanished from your lips?  
"Listen young people, there are three things not returned:

1. The spent arrow
2. The spoken word
3. The lost opportunity"

 Listen to this sermon. As a matter of fact I'm going to do an entire blog entry about the power of words in just a moment.


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Enjoy your summer day, whether it is the last day of the work week for you or the first day of a weekend, or just great because Jesus gave us another day to 'to magnify His glory through the display of His power' it is bound to be a good one. Why am I sure of this? Because Jesus is with us, always and to the end of the age.


7 comments :

  1. It's interesting you would write about Billy Graham right now, because I'm been meaning for days now to check your blog and see if you've written anything about him. I heard about his latter-day equivocations a while back, but just recently I learned that he's been in close association with the Catholic church as long as he's been in ministry, even referring the folks who made professions at his revivals to Catholic churches and Jewish synagogues (along with Christian churches). I was shocked.

    Does your church have anything to do with him? Like show his video from last fall? (I saw that you wrote a post about that, but I haven't read it yet - bookmarked it to read later, along with all the other posts you've written about Graham). I've been wondering if churches should avoid anything to do with his association; I think they should, but I've learned that some believers feel like the general public (saved and unsaved alike) doesn't know about this stuff and they feel like he has so much respect even among the unsaved that being associated with him is a good thing.

    What do you think?

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    1. 1/2

      Hi Grace To You,

      We have been in between pastors for a while. Our pastor left and then after a couple of months, we got an interim, and then a few weeks ago we got a new senior pastor...so when the Graham movie came out we didn't have one leader so, no we didn't watch the Graham movie.

      I can't remember if I have written specifically about Billy Graham. I know I've put together several posts but aside from the movie essays I don't remember if I've published my drafts or not.

      I do know I've mentioned him several times in my fearsome threesome- I've said a few times that in my opinion the three false teachers who have done the most to negatively and long-lastingly impact Christianity in the 20th and 21st century have been Billy Graham, Rick Warren, and Beth Moore.

      Billy Graham has been apostate since the beginning. He was expelled from youth group for being too worldly, he chafed under strict rules and accumulated too many demerits in his first semester at the tightly controlled Bob Jones University in 1936 (he lasted a 2nd semester but transferred to another college after that). In college he extolled the virtues of ecumenism. He believed early on and reportedly wrote in 1960 in his Decisions magazine an essay denying the exclusivity of the Gospel.

      He denies that one must believe the creation account of Adam and says evolution is plausible. He denies that belief in the virgin birth is necessary for salvation. He believes he was too rough in his early days in preaching sin and says he is glad now that he knows "he isn't the judge" and says he has mellowed (when asked about fire and brimstone preaching) and doesn't preach that stuff any more. He again denied the exclusivity of the Gospel in video-recorded interview with Robert Schuller in the 80s and again in the 90s with Larry King. Ibeleive he also denied it in an newspaper interview in the 70s.

      In any case, I looked and found that he denies the most essential item of Christianity in every decade of his adult life, just to satisfy myself that was not as some asserted, it was because he is an old man and his mind was wondering (excuses given as to why Graham was saying these things in his 80s etc).

      He partners with the Catholic Church and has said that Pope John Paul II was the greatest evangelist. Indeed, he consigns many babes to darkness when they stream down the aisles at his crusades, because the seekers are asked what church brought them or what denomination is the friend that brought them to the crusade, and if they say "Catholic" they are sent to a Catholic counselor. If they say "Synagogue" they are sent to a rabbi for counseling.

      Billy Graham is an apostate, liberal compromiser fake Christian who will be one of those saying on the Day-

      “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Mt 7:21-23

      I'm sorry but Graham is a wolf and he has been satan's more successful fake ministers of light. I'm glad you are researching him!

      If you search 'Billy Graham" and "site:gty.org" you will see that John MacArthur has discussed Graham in terms of the exclusivity issue many times, even posting exact transcripts of what Graham has said and going through it line by line in comparing to the bible to show Graham's impossible-to-reconcile contradictions

      Here is MacArthur in a ten minute excerpt centering around what it means to really be saved, and decrying brand evangelicalism (and Graham is the poster child is the 2nd, and MacArthur takes him on)

      http://youtu.be/3gBTZljN0_Y?list=FLatdgBZ1YUVrgJPctJftLeg

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    2. 2/2

      Here is an hour long talk by Cecil Andrews going through the issues with Graham one by one. It's good. Sad, but good. His talk was given in 2001 upon the occasionof the 50 year anniversary of one of the most famous Graham Crusades, in London, and Cecil does a recap of what happened at it and what influence remains from it for that entire generation, and in between, he shows the Graham falseness. Gracefully.
      http://youtu.be/btVPQOQvnG4?list=FLatdgBZ1YUVrgJPctJftLeg

      Do you know, I read in a 250 page dissertation examining Graham, that once Graham was accused of being alone with a young woman holding hands down the darkened street, and he decided right then and there not to ever be alone with a woman again? The woman he was walking with was his daughter. Talk about legalism, to refuse to walk alone with his own daughter for fear of being accused of immorality. He was always more concerned about appearances than is warranted.

      Did you know the scathing, devastating and tremendous Sinclair Lewis classic 'Elmer Gantry' movie depiction in 1961 was reportedly partly based on Graham? At that time, Graham broke one of his hard and fast rules, which was never reply to accusations to the press, and loudly denounced the movie by sermonizing against it. It sure got a rise out of Graham

      So now you have more info on Billy Graham than you probably wanted! His apostasy has deceived many and I literally mourn with tears for the deceived at his crusades who were sent to false counselors...

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    3. I do appreciate all of this research on Billy Graham. I listened to John MacArthur and the detailed information by Cecil Andrews. Very disturbing. I will certainly encourage others to listen to them both and research themselves why Billy Graham is definitely a very dangerous man. I hate the thought of so many 'altar calls', made popular by false teacher Charles Finney, that to continue to mislead MANY.

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    4. Thanks for mentioning Finney. The threads to apostasy go ay back and there is always a person or event to hand the baton to the next generation. The Graham Crusade altar calls certainly led to many people having a false sense of security about their salvation. I mourn that. Part of what Mr Andrews was explaining near the end of his talk is the current day impact.

      The 1951 Crusade was tremendous in its seeming impact, as many came forward. In searching for remnants of its Gospel impact 50 years later they interviewed many people who were still living in the area who said they fell away immediately. Others who didn't go forward said that they didn't know anyone who had, and further, the neighborhood wasn't that changed. Religious leaders still in the areas confirmed the same.

      If that many people had had a true conversion, or even half or a quarter, the Gospel impacts would be felt to this day. Certainly not vanishing within one generation.

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  2. I listened to the MacArthur clip...I had no idea he had ever had anything to say about Billy Graham. I bookmarked the Cecil Andrews video to watch later. I have never heard of Elmer Gantry so I bookmarked a google search to look at later too, along with information about Charles Finney being the father of altar calls. That should keep me busy for a while. :)

    One thing I'd like to mention...the anecdote you shared about Graham not wanting to walk alone with his daughter for fear of false rumors was interesting, and I agree that being overly concerned with appearances is dangerous (and misplaced when there are major theological errors). But it does bring up one thing - I think the reason Graham is so well-respected is that there was never (to my knowledge) a scandal in his life, unlike so many of his peers.

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    1. Hi Grace To You,

      I agree, the lack of scandal surrounding Graham is refreshing. It is good that any hint of scandal has remained far from him. (I am of the opinion that since he apostate, he will be found out at some point).

      The lack of scandal was orchestrated from the beginning. Here is from the dissertation I read.

      "He and his closest friends and advisers decided to institute a formal bond to insulate the Billy Graham ministry from those temptations and to protect it from the appearance of impropriety."

      To that end,

      "Graham and his associates also charted a careful, if rather unusual strategy to ensure the evangelist would not be tainted by the suspicion of sexual impropriety, fiscal malfeasance, or other scandal."

      Graham's close associate, Cliff Barrows, explained,

      "Each member was asked to go back to their hotel rooms to write down the areas that had plagued ministries they had been affiliated with, or had heard about. After this time apart, they returned together to compare notes. On everyone’s papers areas arose what became the basis for the manifesto:
      1. The Graham team would avoid any appearance of financial abuse.
      2. They would exercise extreme care to avoid the appearance of sexual impropriety.
      3. They would cooperate with any local churches that were willing to participate in a united evangelism effort.
      4. They would be honest and reliable in their publicity and reporting of results and never argue with local journalists reporting about the numbers of participants in the crusades.
      It was later that this plan started to be called the “Modesto Manifesto.”

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      It is a great thing not to want to besmirch a ministry, after all the bible calls preachers/elders to higher account. In the carefully documented dissertation I read, the reason for such scrupulous attention to behavioral detail was shown to be of a rather external nature. In other words, there was more concern for and attention to how they would appear to others rather than behaving in a way that would please Jesus and honor Him as the primary consideration. it was a business model from the beginning, rather than relying on obedience to the statutes of the bible and trusting the Holy Spirit to help them refrain from temptation and to trust Him to keep scandal away. Wat the Manifesto did was ensure a rigidly legalistic approach to life.

      From the dissertation:

      "Billy Graham had read Sinclair Lewis’s 1927 novel Elmer Gantry, which told the story of an unscrupulous clergyman who doubted the sacred truths he preached and also had led a sordid personal life […] The novel had enough resonance to make Graham eager to avoid any circumstances that might besmirch his own career in a manner similar to the story of Reverend Gantry"
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      Hence the Modesto Manifesto. I'd rather still err on the side of caution, and in addition, I can't know his motivations for sure. However, the incident with his daughter seems to me to confirm the externals (What will people think of my ministry if they see me with my daughter and don't know she's my daughter?' rather than the motivation of pleasing Jesus. (Psalm 103:13a, Psalm 127:3)

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