The mainstream media would have us believe that the U.S. economy must be in great shape since the stock market has been setting new all-time record highs this month. But is that really true? Yes, surging stock prices have enabled sales of beach homes in the Hamptons to hit a brand new record high. However, the reality is that stock prices have not risen dramatically in recent years because corporations are doing so much better than before. In fact, the growth in stock prices has been far, far greater than the growth of corporate revenues. The only reason that stock prices have been climbing so much is because the Federal Reserve has been flooding the financial system with hundreds of billions of dollars that it has created out of thin air. The Fed has created an artificial stock market bubble that is completely and totally divorced from economic reality. (Read More….)
Religion Today – July 29, 2013
One of the nation’s most prominent evangelical leaders wants to know why President Obama has remained silent as Iran tortures an American pastor held captive in one of the Islamic republic’s most notorious prisons, Todd Starnes reports….[view article]
Four out of 5 U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, near poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives, a sign of deteriorating economic security and an elusive American dream. Survey data exclusive to The Associated Press points to an increasingly globalized U.S. economy, the widening gap between rich and poor and loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs as reasons for the trend.
For a revival to come about there must not be any sweeping of sins under the carpet. We must believe all our sins were forgiven at the cross then we must confess to God leaving no sin unrevealed. Again, is it likely that we will ever see a revival such as the huge revivals of the past? We are living in the last days, and as we read and study our Bibles we see no indication that a huge revival is forthcoming. Actually we know that in these last days there will be apostasy within the Ekklesia and much weakening among the congregation of saints. The Bible, God’s inerrant word, is replete with history lessons in advance, called prophecy. By studying our Bible we can see what the future will hold for mankind. In the last days just prior to Christ’s return there is no mention of a revival.
In partnership with The PowerPoint Apologist, Apologetics 315 is offering a series of 12 Free PowerPoint presentations, released monthly. These cover 12 essential topics in apologetics. These are free to download, modify, and use for your own apologetics presentations. (However, please retain the final two slides featuring the PowerPoint Apologist and Apologetics 315 resources.)
The seventh in the series looks at the claims of those who doubt Jesus’ life and presents a case against the idea that Jesus was just a copycat of other pagan gods:
“Why Jesus?—The Historical Jesus”
Download it here. Slideshare here.
Satan delights in wreaking havoc on the church. He twists the truth on every issue, creating doctrinal confusion wherever he can.
He has been particularly successful in distorting the roles God has designed for men and women. Over the years, the cultural ideal of gender role equality has seeped into many churches—and Christians have bought into it. In many congregations, men sit back and relax while women preach the Word and lead the church. In fact, it is alarming to see how comfortable Christians have become with adopting the standards of the world.
Meanwhile, society gives hearty approval to the trend. In a chapter titled “To Hell with Sexism: Women in Religion” in Megatrends for Women, (Fawcett Columbine, 1992) authors Patricia Aburdene and John Naisbitt show how modern culture celebrates feminism:
Women of the late twentieth century are revolutionizing the most sexist institution in history—organized religion. Overturning millennia of tradition, they are challenging authorities, reinterpreting the Bible, creating their own services, crowding into seminaries, winning the right to ordination, purging sexist language in liturgy, reintegrating female values and assuming positions of leadership. (p. 119)
It’s safe to say, that trend in the church—noted more than twenty years ago—has become a settled reality, and it is dangerous on many levels. Feminist theology teaches that God is not male, God does not exist in a trinitarian form, Jesus was a feminist, and the true history of women was edited out of the Bible. Aburdene and Naisbitt assert that once women’s perspectives “attain greater power, [that] will signal revolutionary changes in church policies.” (ibid, p. 133) And for years now we have seen a surge in attempts to purge male terminology out of Bible translations.
All this is not limited to liberal churches and denominations, however. Aburdene and Naisbitt note that the organization Christians for Biblical Equality believes, “Women as well as men exercise the prophetic, priestly, and royal functions” of the church. (ibid, p. 128, quoted from “Women Served as Priests,” Grand Rapids Press, November 9, 1991) Evangelical churches are just as susceptible to the feminist onslaught. The fact is, feminism has already gained a foothold within the evangelical community in recent years.
At stake today is God’s perfect design for His church—a design that reflects the principles of authority and submission that allow both society and the family to function. While there is no disputing the equality of men and women as believers in Christ (Galatians 3:28), God specifically calls qualified men to lead His church. Women have unique opportunities to serve the church and are in many ways its warmth and depth, but God’s basic design for leadership in the church is for men to be in authority. To see how He fleshes out His plan for men and women in the church, we need to turn to the New Testament.
The second and third chapters of 1 Timothy are a good place to start. The entire letter focuses on establishing God’s standard for order in the life of the church. That will be our focus for the next few weeks as we seek to understand God’s design for the church and how we can best glorify God alongside other believers.
But for now, we want to hear from you. Have you ever attended a church that had women in primary leadership roles? Have you ever sat under a female pastor? What leadership roles are available to women in your current congregation? Let us know in the comment thread.
(Adapted from Divine Design.)
Available online at: http://www.gty.org/resources/Blog/B130729 COPYRIGHT ©2013 Grace to You
Read the series so far.
With over 40,000 members, Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas is the largest church in the United States. For better or for worse, Lakewood and its leader Joel Osteen are profoundly influential. One significant area of influence is in the realm of spiritual gifts. A search of the terms “spiritual gifts” on Lakewood’s website produced (at the top of the list) a downloadable booklet called Understanding the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, from Joel Osteen Ministries, and authored by Lisa Comes. The booklet explains how and why one should speak in tongues, and cites speaking in tongues as evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit (point 5, page 3). The view promoted in the booklet is not original with Lakewood, Osteen, or Comes—in fact, it is the prevailing view in Pentecostal and Charismatic denominations. But is it a biblical view? Is speaking in tongues needed evidence that we have the Holy Spirit?
First, as we considered in the previous article, Romans 8:9 emphatically notes that “if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” By contrast Osteen’s and Comes’s booklet cites Acts (2:17-19, 39), Luke (11:13), and John (7:37-39) to support the point that not every believer has the Holy Spirit. And it is true that Romans presents a very different picture of how one receives the Holy Spirit than do the Gospels and even the book of Acts. But rather than contradicting one another, these books consider different contexts—different times, and different ways in which God has worked over the ages (nothing contradictory at all). To illustrate, Joel Osteen has never (to my knowledge) advocated that believers today should present to the Lord two turtledoves or two young pigeons as is mandated in Leviticus 5:7. Presumably this is because Osteen recognizes that Leviticus was written about a different people and context than the church of today. read more
The great Inigo Montoya famously said, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
That line is apropos for many occasions, but it especially fits how we often understand spiritual gifts. Instead of recognizing spiritual gifts as tools God gives to help us get His work done, we often consider them to be mystical links between God and us—evidences or proofs, if you will, that He is really working. I suppose we shouldn’t be too surprised, after all we are in good company (recall Israel’s episode with the golden calf—their faith was pretty weak at the time too). But still, like Montoya says, we use the words without really understanding how He uses the words. Consequently, we make them into something they aren’t. In the series of articles to follow we take a look at ten common myths regarding spiritual gifts. Here is the first one:
Myth #1: We need a second work of grace in order to get a spiritual gift
The Bible is notably silent about receiving the Holy Spirit as a step separate from salvation—except in the book of Acts (more on that book in a moment). Romans 8:9, for example, says, “But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” We either have the Spirit or we don’t. We are either in Christ or we aren’t. Paul leaves no middle ground. In fact, Ephesians 1:13 tells us how and when we receive the Holy Spirit: “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.” Paul adds that the Spirit is “given as a pledge [or downpayment] of our inheritance [eternal life], with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory” (Eph. 1:14). At the moment of belief, the Holy Spirit is given to believers. read more
by Mike Ratliff
Τῇ γὰρ χάριτί ἐστε σεσῳσμένοι διὰ πίστεως· καὶ τοῦτο οὐκ ἐξ ὑμῶν, θεοῦ τὸ δῶρον· (Ephesians 2:8 NA28)
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this not of yourselves, it is God’s gift; (Ephesians 2:8 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
In our last two posts I have used audio clips from Biblical expositor and pastor Jim McClarty and Bible scholar and apologist Dr. James White both based on textual exegesis of the Greek text behind Ephesians 2:8. My translation of that passage is above. As I studied the Greek for myself, I read it first then translated it honestly, phrase by phrase in the context of the rest of Ephesians 2. It is obvious that to attempt to make it say something other than how I broke it down above is an attempt to force something onto the text to make it say…
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Popular theologian and apologist Dr. Michael Brown has written two articles for Charismanews critical of John MacArthur and the upcoming Strange Fire conference.
In his first article, ”John MacArthur, Strange Fire and Blasphemy of the Spirit”, Dr. Brown says John has “seriously overstepped his bounds and misused the Word of God” by wrongly accusing charismatic leaders of “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.” He further claims John is guilty of a double standard. Specifically, Brown says that while John calls on charismatic leaders to denounce the extremes within their movement, John does not call on noncharismatic pastors to denounce dangerous “once saved, always saved” doctrine.
Brown’s second article, An Appeal to John MacArthur to Embrace God’s True Fire, takes issue with John’s criticisms of the famed Brownsville Revival that took place from 1995–2000 at the Brownsville Assembly of God church in Pensacola, Florida. Michael Brown taught at the Brownsville Assembly during that time and denies that the movement was a “mindless, emotional orgy marked by irrational, sensual, and fleshly behavior” (John MacArthur’s description). Brown says he can “testify to the fact that day after day, Jesus was exalted, the Scriptures were preached, and sinners were called to repentance and believers were encouraged to surrender their lives afresh to God.”
He goes on to write, “It is only natural that when God moves powerfully, there will be excesses that need to be corrected and abuses that need to be put in order.…But I, for one, would rather have the noise (and mess) of the maternity ward than the deathly quiet of a cemetery.” He concludes his article with an appeal to John to not put out the Spirit’s true fire and, therefore, quench God’s mighty work among Christians throughout the world.
Those are a couple of strong appeals coming from a well-respected Christian apologist. Personally, I have benefited from Dr. Brown’s ministry. He has, for example, written an outstanding five-volume work that answers the Jewish objections to Jesus Christ and Christianity. Those books are not only an excellent study on the subject of messianic prophecy, they are also a worthy investment for anyone interested in evangelizing Jews. Moreover, I am thankful for Brown’s unwavering boldness to engage present-day attacks on biblical morality–especially the rising tide of homosexual activism.
However, I believe Brown is wildly off-target with his critical remarks against John MacArthur. In fact, I am deeply troubled by such a profound lack of discernment–though Dr. Brown has written so thoughtfully on important aspects of apologetics, he dismisses the serious theological errors prevalent within the charismatic movement as mere “excesses.”
Cleaning Up the Mess
I am grateful that Michael Brown acknowledges John’s strong convictions on the lordship of Christ. But that’s precisely what makes the charge of double standard so far-fetched. The implication is that John MacArthur has quietly looked the other way when people use “once saved, always saved” as a prop for false assurance. The reality is, no one has been more vocal against easy-believism than John MacArthur.
I’ve heard Brown say on one of his radio programs that he has written against the extremes within the charismatic movement. It’s hard to find evidence of that in the material he has posted online. Whatever Brown has written on those issues, I doubt that its quantity and potency approaches that of John MacArthur’s critiques of easy-believism.
John wrote two extensive bestselling books on the subject: The Gospel According to Jesus, and a follow-up, The Gospel According to the Apostles. In fact, John has decried easy-believism in virtually every major book he has ever published, and he has consistently warned against the false assurance of people who profess conversion but live like unbelievers. The lordship of Christ and the folly of so-called carnal Christianity have been the dominant themes of his ministry for more than three decades.
Just search the Grace to You archives and you’ll find dozens of sermons John has preached over the years addressing and correcting the very error of non-lordship that Brown says is embraced by many of the noncharismatic pastors who follow John MacArthur. I find it perplexing that Brown would even raise this as an example of a double standard on John’s part. To borrow from Dr. Brown’s analogy, the hallmark of John MacArthur’s ministry has been to clean up the evangelical maternity ward.
Genuine Spiritual Babies?
Yet what I find most alarming is how heedlessly Brown embraces charismatics who have made a career out of promoting false prophecies and grievous theological errors. Let me note a couple of examples.
In his first article, Dr. Brown chastises John for singling out Mike Bickle and Lou Engle, two men Brown describes as “godly leaders.” Both Bickle and Engle are prominent figures in the New Apostolic Reformation, a movement founded by C. Peter Wagner. Wagner himself is known for making grandiose prophetic decrees like the one he made in June 2006, in which he declared that all the wealth of the wicked would be released and transferred to God’s chosen people. (I personally haven’t seen any of that “transferred wealth” yet.)
Both Bickle and Engle were originally associated with the Kansas City prophets, a group of ministers who have been issuing false prophecies for years. They freely admit that a high percentage of their own visions, dreams, and declarations regarding future events have been in error.
Additionally, two of the original Kansas City prophets, Paul Cain and Bob Jones, were later discredited for scandalously immoral secret lives–Cain for alcoholism and homosexuality, and Jones for sexual impurity. Incidentally, Jones was a spiritual mentor to Todd Bentley, the Lakeland, Florida, evangelist who boasts of healing people with a mixed-martial-arts-style smack down.
Is the partnership between all those men inconsequential and unrelated? I don’t think so. Perhaps Michael Brown would single out Paul Cain and Bob Jones as representing the abuses and excesses that need to be corrected when God sends revival. Yet, both of those men “ministered” for years among the other so-called Kansas City prophets, making false prophecies along with Bickle and Engle, who both praised their personal lives for exemplifying holiness. Where is the discernment here among God’s alleged prophets? Are false prophecies and bad doctrine evidence of the new birth? The Cain-Jones-Bickle-Engle cadre give no evidence that any true babies are being born in that maternity ward.
But the most alarming affirmation Dr. Brown gives to his fellow charismatic leaders is his praise of Cindy Jacobs, a self-described prophet to the nations. On his Facebook page, Brown responded to someone who had offered a critical review of his first Charismanews article against John MacArthur. In Brown’s response, he writes, in passing, these favorable remarks about Jacobs: “As to your reference to Cindy Jacobs (also a friend of mine with a real love for the Lord), I have no idea where that came from.”
My point isn’t to quibble about Brown’s friendship with Cindy Jacobs or his claim about her “love for the Lord,” but in light of what she teaches, his endorsement is hard to justify.
Consider this 10-minute video from her ministry in which she tells her audience that the world is stalked by a spirit named Leviathan. She first claims God gave her this teaching about Leviathan, then proceeds to allegorize Job 41 to build her case.
Jacobs goes on to say that Leviathan is the source of all kinds of strife: divorce, tribal wars, church splits, family feuds, and sibling rivalries. This spirit is particularly active among cultures that worship snakes and crocodiles. In fact, if you are of Native American or Mexican heritage, you are especially susceptible to the influence of the Leviathan spirit and may need to repent of your ancestral animism.
Why would people of Native American ancestry need to repent of pagan sins in which they never participated? Is that another example of what Brown means when he says there are “excesses” that need to be corrected?
Jacobs’s “Leviathan” teaching would be bad enough, but in this video she claims to have fed 3,000 people at a Colorado Springs crusade using just two loaves of bread–the way Jesus fed the 5,000 in John 6:1–14. Her claim to having the same divine attributes of creation that Jesus has is utterly preposterous—and blasphemous. Since Cindy Jacobs is a leader among charismatics, not simply a zealous new convert who needs to be corrected, is Dr. Brown prepared to confront his good friend about her lying blasphemy? We have to wonder what Brown sees in Jacobs’s maternity ward. Are there really any babies being born there?
Babies in the Bathwater
There are many other examples I could mention among charismatic personalities, and John MacArthur is right to identify their antics as blaspheming the Holy Spirit. Sadly, it seems that to Dr. Brown pragmatic, “positive” results (i.e., millions of gullible followers worldwide) justify any means to achieve them—including unbiblical teaching and ungodly shenanigans from leaders who clearly are not biblically qualified to hold the positions they do. Paul wrote to Titus:
In all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us. (Titus 2:7–8)
If Michael Brown believes false teaching is merely the “mess of the maternity ward”; if he really thinks the culprits are just a few overly excitable individuals who are guilty of slight “excess”; if he truly believes the majority of leading figures in the charismatic movement are innocent of blaspheming or misrepresenting the Holy Spirit; and if he so readily affirms the ministries and teaching of people who regularly issue false prophecies; then he is clearly not discerning.
John MacArthur loves maternity wards, and he understands that babies make messes–sometimes really big messes. But John refuses to leave babies lying for long in that mess. He cares for them, cleaning them with the living water of God’s Word. Dr. Brown would do well to follow John’s example with regard to Bickle, Engle, and Jacobs rather than attack someone who has spent his life as a caring, faithful shepherd of the sheep.
Available online at: http://www.gty.org/resources/Blog/B130725 COPYRIGHT ©2013 Grace to You
A Panel at a Ligonier Conference (Dr. Steve Lawson, Dr. R. C. Sproul, and Dr. John MacArthur) answers (slight time delay between audio and video):
Here Dr. R. C. Sproul answers the question, “Why are the vast majority of Western Christians influenced by Arminian theology rather than Reformation theology?”
Tim Challies: Many people first learn about you through YouTube and the “Shocking Youth Message.” Can you tell how that message came about, and how it came to be a YouTube hit? What has the message meant to your life and ministry?
Paul Washer: As I walked up to the pulpit, I was unusually burdened and was unsure about what to preach. It seemed that there were thousands before me who were resting in a false assurance. There was a message burning in my heart, but I knew that it would be offensive. As I began to speak about the influence of culture on the church, the people in the auditorium broke forth in applause. They had no idea that I was speaking about them. At that moment, I took up my text in Matthew 7 and began to preach. It was as though I was being carried and pushed along by strong wind that I could not resist. I felt broken into a million pieces, and yet I was fearless about the consequences. Immediately afterwards, I thought I would collapse, and I was full of fear. Many people were angry with me that day. I remained troubled about the sermon for the next few weeks. While I was preaching, I had no doubts; but afterwards, I was besieged by doubt. Had I done the right thing? Several months passed, and I eventually put the whole thing out of my mind. I never saw a copy of the video, nor did HeartCry put it online.
After several months, we began to receive emails from all over the world. People were sending in testimonies of how they had been saved through “The Shocking Youth Message.” All of us at HeartCry were bewildered. We had no idea what message the people were writing about or if I was the one who had preached it. Finally, one of my fellow staff members went online and found it. I was shocked probably more than anyone. Radio stations began calling and asking for interviews, and debates were going on all over the Internet either for or against what I had preached. Even after all these years, we still receive testimonies from around the world of people who have been converted through that sermon.
The message has affected my life in many ways. Positively, it has allowed me to preach and write about the Gospel and the nature of genuine conversion. Also, it has opened the door for people to see the work that God is doing through the HeartCry Missionary Society and indigenous missions. Negatively, it has led some young reformers to hold an unbalanced view of the kind of preaching that is needed for true revival. The message I preached was hard, very hard, but it was the exception and not the norm of my preaching. There are times when a “hard word” must be preached, even to God’s people. However, the church and the individual believer do not grow by daily helpings of “hard words,” but by being nourished and encouraged by the full counsel of God. The greatest catalyst for spiritual maturity in the truly converted is a greater revelation of the love of God in Christ. Another thing that “budding prophets” need to understand is that a preacher carries a Sword, a basin, and a towel. He is quick to use the basin and towel with great joy. But he is slow to use the sword, and he always does so with tears and fear and scarred knees.