Daily Archives: November 5, 2013

Timothy George on “Strange Fire”

John Macarthur’s Strange Fire conference with its militant critique of the charismatic movement has raised no little bit of controversy. Some audio and video is available here, see Mark Driscoll’s open letter to Macarthur, and note Trevin Wax’s cautious words over at TGC.

Now me, personally, I’m not charismatic. I don’t dance on pews, I don’t raise my hands in church crying out “whoo-hoo,” nor do I ever pray to God with the words, “untie-my-bow-tie-who-stole-my-honda.”  I also loathe the charlatans of the prosperity gospel like Joel Osteen and company, who, make God out to be  a cross between a slot machine and a cosmic therapist. Such theological oxygen thieves do for the kingdom of God what Hannibal Lecter does for vegetarianism.

Read More Here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/euangelion/2013/11/timothy-george-on-strange-fire/

10 Errors to Avoid When Talking about Sanctification and the Gospel

With lots of books and blog posts out there about law and gospel, about grace and effort, about the good news of this and the bad news of that, it’s clear that Christians are still wrestling with the doctrine of progressive sanctification. Can Christians do anything truly good? Can we please God? Should we try to? Is there a place for striving in the Christian life? Can God be disappointed with the Christian? Does the gospel make any demands? These are good questions that require a good deal of nuance and precision to answer well.

Thankfully, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. The Reformed confessions and catechisms of the 16th and 17th centuries provide answers for all these questions. For those of us who subscribe to the Three Forms of Unity or to the Westminster Standards this means we are duty bound to affirm, teach, and defend what is taught in our confessional documents. For those outside these confessional traditions, there is still much wisdom you can gain in understanding what Christians have said about these matters over the centuries. And most importantly, these standards were self-consciously grounded in specific texts of Scripture. We can learn a lot from what these documents have to teach us from the Bible.

Sometimes the truth can be seen more clearly when we state its negation. So rather than stating what we should believe about sanctification, I’d like to explain what we should not believe or should not say. Each of these points is taken directly from one or more of the Reformed confessions or catechisms. Since I am more conversant I will stick with the Three Forms of Unity, but the same theology can be found just as easily in the Westminster Standards (see especially WCF Chapters 13, 16, 18, 19; LC Question and Answer 75-81, 97, 149-153; Shorter Catechism Question and Answer 35, 39, 82-87).

Read More Here: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2013/11/05/10-errors-to-avoid-when-talking-about-sanctification-and-the-gospel/

The Resurrection of Pagan Gods – Mingling Pagan Mythology with God’s Truth (The Rise of End-Time Occultism, Part 7)

Part 1: Homo Nephilus  Part 2: The “Return” of the Alien Super Soldier”  Part 3: Techno-Dimensional Prayer Combat  Part 4: The Second Coming of Apollo  Part 5: Nephilim are from Mars, Fallen Angels are from Krypton  Part 6: Metaphysical Mysticism Masquerading as Science 

Egyptian gods Osiris and Isis[1]
   By Gaylene Goodroad & Sarah H. Leslie
“Then the proconsul pronounced the sentence of death, which was as follows: ‘I command, that Maximus be stoned to death, as an example and terror to other Christians; because he would not submit to the [Roman] laws, and sacrifice to the great Diana [goddess] of Ephesus.’… ‘And presently this faithful champion of Christ was taken away by the servants of Satan, brought without the city walls, and stoned. While he was being led away, and stoned, he thanked God with his heart, who had made him worthy to overcome the devil in the conflict; and thus committed his soul into the hands of his Lord Jesus Christ.”  –the fate of a “certain pious Christian, called Maximus, a citizen of Ephesus” in the year 255 A.D.[2]
“Ye shall not add unto the Word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it,
that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.
(Deut. 4:2)

A New Old Syncretism Who would have ever thought that the evangelical world would come to this? Dabbling in the occult and being entertained by images and idols? The very sins that the ancient Hebrews were severely charged by God to avoid, are now rushing into the church at breakneck speed. As in the days of the Old Testament, the creeping gradualism of accommodating small concessions to idolatrous practices (New Age meditation, Yoga, e.g.) and has grown and expanded to now welcome the wholesale introduction of an ancient pantheon of gods and goddesses from every heathen culture.
These old idols, to which the ancient Roman world had dedicated so many temples,[3] are now being  revivified by their reintroduction in our modern era. This has come into the culture via New Age astrology and science fiction. These spectacular stories have been widely promulgated through comic books and entertainment media for many decades. But now they are coming into the church in the guise of an elaborately constructed end-time eschatology. This eschatology claims to be superior to the old models because it is based on gleanings from so-called sacred knowledge found in pagan myths and ancient writings.
This reinvigorated ancient mythological idolatry is being marketed to the evangelical world as a new and exciting eschatology by a group we have called the Postmodern Prophecy Paradigm (PPP) teachers. Endemic to their fabricated eschatology is the staunchly forbidden and unwise practice of seeking illumination outside of Holy Scripture. These teachers are now attempting to merge pagan mythology with the Bible.[5]  They have not only sought counsel from pagan and occult sources, but have also turned faulty proof-texting into a refined art, creating an erratic, erotic and exotic mixture of blended spiritualities.
Across our culture, and now in the church, mythology is being dished up  on a new platter of high-tech imagery. The old lifeless wooden and stone statues (images/idols) are being re-cast into a new mold. Can these “gods” talk? The  surprising answer is “yes” – thanks to Hollywood acting, film  photography and digitalized imagery. It makes these images/idols more “potent,”  especially in the imagination. This quality doesn’t make them  “real.” Yet some prophecy teachers are claiming they are real. And it is this very claim that they are real that classifies them as pagan deities.

How to Pray When You Fear for Your Children

#4/5: With Christ in the School of Prayer Psalm 12

November 2nd / 3rd 2013 by Pastor Colin S. Smith

 

You will guard us from this generation forever.  Psalm 12:8

 

This is a generational psalm. We read about the “children of man” in verses 1 and 8. The focus of this prayer is a concern over what the future holds for our children, our grandchildren, and our great grandchildren.

Notice how it begins: “Save, O Lord, for the godly one is gone; for the faithful have vanished from among the children of men” (Psalm 12:1). The godly have gone. The faithful have vanished. We want our children to be surrounded by godly examples, and models of faithfulness but, David says, “That’s hard to find today!”

Now look at the end: “On every side the wicked prowl, as vileness is exalted among the children of men” (Psalm 12:8). David was noticing a significant change. Vileness is exalted. A virtue is made of vice.

In other words, evil was being called “good” and good was being called “evil” by the culture. Everything seemed upside down. What hope is there for our children when this is the world in which they are growing up? That’s the burden that gave birth to this psalm.

This psalm speaks powerfully to our situation today. God has given us a prayer in the Bible for times when we fear for our children. What does the future hold for them? How will they be able to stand in this world where vileness is exalted and it’s hard for them to find godly and faithful friends?

The message today is in two parts. First, an analysis of the assault that our children are facing. Second, a strategy for prayer and for action.

Read More Here: https://www.unlockingthebible.org/pray-fear-children/

“Ten reasons NOT to ask Jesus into your heart” by Todd Friel.

Truth in Grace

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Ten reasons NOT to ask Jesus into your heart.

By Todd Friel

The music weeps, the preacher pleads, “Give your heart to Jesus. You have a God shaped hole in your heart and only Jesus can fill it.” Dozens, hundreds or thousands of people who want to get their spiritual life on track make their way to the altar. They ask Jesus into their heart.
Cut to three months later. Nobody has seen our new convert in church. The follow up committee calls him and encourages him to attend a Bible study, but to no avail. We label him a backslider and get ready for the next outreach event.

Our beloved child lies in her snuggly warm bed and says, “Yes, Daddy. I want to ask Jesus into my heart.” You lead her in “the prayer” and hope that it sticks. You spend the next ten years questioning if she…

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Why the obsession with sin?

WhyJesus

So I have to confess that for years I have had this nagging problem with the Bible that hovered around in the back of my mind. Why is it so obsessed with sin? Honestly, you cannot turn a page in the Bible without somebody telling us how screwed up we are, how everything we do is awful, how humanity is “totally depraved” (to borrow a Calvinist soundbyte) and so on. You get the sense from reading the Bible that all God sees when he looks down at us it a bunch of ugly, despicable and horrible people.

Why does he not see the good? Do we never do anything right? I find that hard to believe. If I’m supposed to see myself and those around me as “sinners” that’s a tough pill to swallow when they aren’t wielding knives, kicking cats or even being particularly rude. In fact, some of…

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Spurgeon’s “Three R’s”: A Useful Paradigm for Evangelism and Preaching

One question some of our members have posed during our community outreach is a good one, but it is a question which makes many of us of a certain theological tribe a bit squeamish: Is there a good outline we may use to help us recall the Gospel when we are witnessing to lost people? There are many such outlines that are thoughtful, careful and biblical which have been used effectively—“Two Ways to Live” and “Evangelism Explosion” (Both arise from sound biblical/theological perspectives) come immediately to mind and I am certain there are others. But recently, in my regular reading of Spurgeon’s sermons, I have discovered an excellent and pithy approach to the Gospel, one that is fully biblical and establishes well both man’s universal dilemma and God’s antidote in Christ: Spurgeon’s “Three R’s,” Ruin, Redemption and Regeneration. This past weekend, I taught this to my people to help them understand the entire scope of the biblical story of God’s redeeming love for sinners in Christ. I commend it to our readers for evangelism and to fellow pastors as realities that must permeate their preaching.

Spurgeon called them “three doctrines that must be preached above all else” and he drew as his text for them “Three third chapters (of Scripture) which deal with the things in the fullest manner:” Genesis 3:14-15 (Ruin), Romans 3:21-26 (Redemption), John 3:1-8 (Regeneration). Why do I think it makes a good evangelism method? Because each of Spurgeon’s three words begin with “R,” making it easy to recall to memory and each text is a key chapter 3 in the Bible, making the references easy to remember, especially in the nerve-busting throes of personal, face-to-face evangelism. Spurgeon’s three R’s:

Read More Here: http://theblog.founders.org/spurgeons-three-rs-a-useful-paradigm-for-evangelism-and-preaching/

Highly Reluctant Jesus Follower

“Just seven years ago, if someone had told me that I’d be writing for Christianity Today magazine about how I came to believe in God, I would have laughed out loud. If there was one thing in which I was completely secure, it was that I would never adhere to any religion—especially to evangelical Christianity, which I held in particular contempt.”

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2013/november/fox-news-highly-reluctant-jesus-follower-kirsten-powers.html?paging=off

10 Love Challenges

All Christians want to bless the church, witness to the world, and grow in assurance of faith. But did you know that there’s one thing you can do that accomplishes all three of these aims at once?

Love other Christians.

Yes, loving other Christians produces the triple benefit of encouraging believers, evangelizing unbelievers (Jn. 13:35), and assuring ourselves that we are believers (1 Jn. 3:14, 19).

But how do we do this? Yesterday I gave my congregation 10 Love Challenges that  translate the sometimes nebulous idea of love into very practical, do-able actions. In some ways each action might not seem very much; each challenge has only one fairly quick and easy action per month. However, when multiplied by 100 or 200 Christians, the cumulative effect on your whole congregation could be huge.

http://headhearthand.org/blog/2013/11/04/10-love-challenges/

The Persecuted Church – The Age of Intolerance: The War on Religion

As many of you know, November is generally the time when we set aside time to remember, pray for, and publicize the plight of the persecuted church. Do watch this video introduced by Baroness Berridge! On the subject of religious persecution, religion journalist Barney Zwartz has a great piece on The Age about Age of [Read More…]

Yet Another Anti-Religious Intellectual Turns Christian

Thomistic Bent

Another person has become Christian due to being faced with the message of the Bible and the strong evidence of Christianity. Kirsten Powers, reporter and political commentator, was once a die-hard New York anti-religious person . . . until she considered the truth. You can find her story here.

As she describes her story, “Of all people surprised that I became an evangelical Christian, I’m the most surprised.” Powers is educated, never grew up exposed to evangelical Christians, spent her career surrounded by liberal atheists or agnostics, and was anti-religious to the core. Like others in her shoes, she fought conversion at every step, but God reached in through the teachings of a pastor who uses apologetics in his sermons, Tim Keller.

Even after her conversion, which she apparently did not expect or pursue, she describes the following:

The horror of the prospect of being a devout Christian crept back…

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Narcissistic ‘Worship Leaders’ Are Losing Their Jobs

Zwinglius Redivivus

Don Chapman’s written a great piece on ‘worship leaders’.  No small Schadenfreude filled my soul as I read it.

Worship leaders are like reality TV stars: They’re regular people with a disproportionate sense of self because people are looking at them. They’re rock stars without the fame or talent … or money (all things that redeem rock star behavior). But ultimately, it’s the disparity that kills me. So many of them are spiritually/emotionally/socially immature, but just because they can sing, they’re placed on this ridiculous pedestal.

Give me a decent choir leader or music director any day over a ‘worship leader’.  The true leader of worship is the Holy Spirit and these buffoons who presume to name themselves such deserve a good old fashioned Servetus-izing.  If you have a ‘worship leader’ at your church, you attend an anthropocentric cult.

Unfortunately there isn’t enough theological depth in an entire mega-church to…

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Tide Thefts, Cargo Hijacking And Cattle Rustling: Why Is An Epidemic Of Thievery Sweeping America?

Desperate people do desperate things, and it appears that Americans are rapidly becoming a lot more desperate. An epidemic of thievery is sweeping across America, and authorities are not quite sure what to make of it. Down in Texas, cattle thieves can get up to $1,500 per head of cattle, and cattle rustling was up nearly 40 percent last year. As you will read about below, cargo hijacking is becoming much more sophisticated, and it is being estimated that losses from cargo thefts will total about $216 million this year alone. And for some reason, Tide laundry detergent has become a very hot commodity among common criminals all across America. In fact, it is being reported that some grocery stores are “losing $10,000 to $15,000 a month” as a result of Tide thefts. So why is all of this happening? Well, as I have written about previously, crime is on the rise in the United States, and poverty is absolutely exploding. In fact, according to the latest numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau, 49.2 percent of all Americans are receiving benefits from at least one government program each month. Over the past five years, we have seen an unprecedented rise in the number of people that cannot take care of themselves without help from the government. Millions upon millions of Americans that have been forced into poverty are becoming increasingly angry, frustrated and desperate. And what we are watching right now is only just the beginning – all of this is going to get a whole lot worse. (Read More….)

Obama ‘Matrix’ — a world of deniability: Column

“The buck stops here.”

There’s a sustaining beauty to President Harry Truman’s desk sign. In four simple words, it offers a defining purpose to an office of immense complexity — in the end, the president holds the final responsibility.

Most presidents accept this narrative. But nearly five years into office — after Fast and Furious, after Benghazi, after the snooping on Associated Press phone records, after the IRS political vendetta and now the Obamacare website mess, President Obama has shown his preference for a different kind of “buck” — with a deliberately amorphous Constitution. By his own choice, Obama has become the “know-nothing” president.

Read more here

Livni pushes law recognizing same-sex civil unions in Israel

The Justice Ministry, at Justice Minister Tzipi Livni’s request, renewed calls on Sunday for a law that would grant legal rights to couples, including same-sex partners, married in civil unions outside the rabbinical institution. A copy of the initiative was distributed by the ministry among lawmakers.

http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=13099

Apostasy Now

We live in the last age of the church, the Laodicean Age, a time of lip service Christianity. The verses above accurately describe the overall condition of the Christian church today, especially in the US. What sounds more arrogantly American than the prideful boast, “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing?” No need for God, no need for the blood of Christ to atone for our sins.

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World Fear Grows….

Let’s examine a few of these indicators that the time is short for the return of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Start with the economic troubles of most of Europe that has even affected our economy, as the world economy has become closely tied to one another. First news flash is that it’s been reported that the Vatican has taken a stance of encouraging a One World Authority for peace and posterity as an answer to the economic turmoil gripping the globe. It was reported on the website Catholic News Service the following:

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Reflections on Forgiveness

After thinking much on the subject, I’ve realized forgiving someone can be one of the hardest things in life to do. The natural reaction is retaliation. We want the other person to hurt in some way just as we’ve been injured. We may even feel in a self-righteous way that our feelings of anger and desire to get back at someone are justified. But there are always odd results to wanting to get even. Thus, the Scriptures instruct us to overcome these negative emotions by bearing with each other and forgiving whatever grievances we may have against another. We must forgive even as the Lord has forgiven us. (Col. 3:13).

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