Daily Archives: November 25, 2013

Marks of a True Apostle: Chosen by God – John MacArthur

Have you ever met an apostle? Considering the vast number of people today who have laid claim to the highest of biblical offices, it’s entirely possible you have at some point. Some people have even tried to label me an apostle for this generation.

But has the apostolic office truly continued throughout church history till today, or have these modern apostles usurped authority that does not belong to them?

The continuation of the apostolic office is a key feature of the charismatic movement. Why? Because Scripture is clear that signs and wonders were given by God to verify the authenticity of His apostles. And if—as charismatics believe and teach—those apostolic gifts continue today, so must the office of apostle. And while not all charismatics recognize the authority of apostles in the church today—and while many continuationists disavow modern apostleship altogether—many of the most important figures in the charismatic movement today are self-professing apostles.

The fact is apostle is not just a generic term for the church to throw around and apply as it sees fit. The term signified specific people doing specific work at a specific time in the life of the church. And in order to understand the full significance of what the title means—and to hold accountable the men and women who would lay claim to it today—we need to examine the biblical marks of an apostle.

To begin with, apostles in Scripture did not simply self-apply their title. They weren’t required to submit an application or letters of recommendation. And there weren’t any extravagant membership fees.

Instead, the New Testament apostles were personally chosen by God. Paul spends most of 2 Corinthians defending his apostleship and comparing his own ministry to some false apostles who had invaded the Corinthian church. He opened the book with a familiar greeting that highlights where he received his apostolic calling from: “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God” (2 Corinthians 1:1). He began his first letter to the Corinthian church with similar words: “Paul, called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God” (1 Corinthians 1:1). And he echoed that same idea in Ephesians 1:1, Colossians 1:1, and 2 Timothy 1:1. The clear testimony of Paul’s writing is that he was an apostle because he had been chosen for that role by God.

He went into even more detail in Galatians 1:15-16, where he wrote, “When God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles.” Paul’s ministry was not his own achievement—he gave all the credit for his apostolic work to God. It was the Lord who ordained him before he was even born, setting him aside for salvation and the work of the gospel. And by identifying that God’s ordaining work took place while he was still in his mother’s womb, Paul illustrates just how passive a part he played in his apostolic calling.

Furthermore, in 1 Timothy 1:1, Paul writes that he serves as “an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus.” Paul had a direct charge from God the Father and Jesus Christ to carry out his ministry. The language he uses refers to a royal command that is not negotiable. It was a divine mandate on his life.

That was the true nature of the apostolic calling. It wasn’t a special club you joined. It was God’s divine ordination on specific men, setting them aside for specific work He chose to accomplish through them.

The apostles were chosen by God. But even that was not their only necessary credential. As we’ll see next time, they were also appointed by Christ.


Available online at: http://www.gty.org/resources/Blog/B131125     COPYRIGHT ©2013 Grace to You

Why is So Much Preaching So Poor?

Preaching is fundamental to Protestantism. The proclamation of God’s word is the primary means by which the Christian encounters God. So the obvious question is: why is so much preaching so poor?
This is not a problem found only in small churches of which nobody has ever heard. A few years ago I was at a conference where a group of preachers were being showcased as models to follow. One of the featured preachers who was from one of the largest and most well-known evangelical churches in the YRR universe delivered a sermon which was full of endearing personal anecdotes. By the end, I really warmed to him as a person. But as preaching, it was simply awful, functionally unconnected to the biblical text he had read beforehand. Frankly, he could have replaced the Bible reading with a soliloquy from King Lear and would not have had to change one sentence of the sermon. Well-delivered and moving it may have been; but as preaching it was complete bosh. But sadly it was bosh presented to a crowd of thousands as a model of what to do in the pulpit.
So why is it that so much preaching, even celebrity conference preaching, is so poor? One cannot answer this in a single sentence. Sermons can be poor for a variety of reasons. Here are the eight which seem to me most significant. I divide them into the theological, the cultural and the technical.

The Quest for ‘More’ Denigrates the Sufficiency of the Word

It is not at all hard to find examples from church history of groups and individuals who believed God was speaking directly to them apart from Scripture. But surely in two thousand years of history the quest for this kind of personal prophecy has never been as widespread and as pervasive as it is today.

Church history also reveals that since the canon of Scripture was closed, virtually every “prophet” who ever spoke a “thus saith the Lord” has been proved wrong, recanted, or gone off track doctrinally. And since the apostolic era, every movement that has depended heavily on extra biblical prophecy has ultimately digressed from the true faith, usually falling into serious corruption or heresy.

This is precisely why the sufficiency of Scripture—sola Scriptura—is such a crucial doctrine. If the written Word of God truly is able to give us all the wisdom we need for complete salvation, and if it is able to make us adequate, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Tim 3:15–17)—then is there really any necessity for additional “prophecies” in the life of the believer? Does God need to say more to us than He has already said? This is a question advocates of modern prophetic revelation would do well to ponder carefully.

It seems particularly unfortunate that there would be such an affinity for subjective “revelations” in an era when the average “born-again Christian” is so ignorant of the objective revelation God has given us in the Bible. When knowledge of Scripture is at such an ebb, this is the worst possible time for believers to be seeking divine truth in dreams, visions, and subjective impressions.

The quest for additional revelation from God actually denigrates the sufficiency of “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). It implies that God hasn’t said enough in the Scriptures. It assumes that we need more truth from God than what we find in His written Word. But as we have repeatedly seen, the Bible itself claims absolute sufficiency to equip us for every good work. If we really embrace that truth, how can we be seeking the voice of God in subjective experiences?

In short, I reject modern revelatory prophecy because the New Testament canon is closed and Scripture is sufficient. . . . [M]y concerns have to do with reckless faith and the dearth of biblical discernment. Here I am primarily concerned with the extreme subjectivity that is introduced into doctrine and daily life when Christians open the door to private messages from God.

– John MacArthur, Reckless Faith: When the Church Loses Its Will to Discern, (Crossway Books: 1994), 180–181.

Source: http://www.donotbesurprised.com/2013/11/the-quest-for-more-denigrates.html

Miscellaneous Bible Questions: I Am in the Process of Getting a Divorce. Can I Start Dating, or Do I Have to Wait until the Divorce Is Final?

The question of dating during the divorce process is very difficult to answer for several reasons. For one thing, the concept of “dating” as we know it today is nowhere mentioned in the Bible. Most marriages in Bible times were arranged, and any contact between two prospective spouses was strictly monitored. In addition, no matter what view one takes on the issue of divorce, it is important to remember Malachi 2:16: “I hate divorce, says the LORD God …” According to the Bible, marriage is a lifetime commitment. “So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Matthew 19:6). No decision to divorce should be made lightly.

There are three situations in which dating during the divorce process might occur. The first is the case of a spouse who has biblical grounds for divorce. Either the innocent spouse has been abandoned by his/her spouse or else is the innocent victim in an unrepentant adulterous affair. In either case, the innocent spouse is mostly likely in a state of emotional turmoil and vulnerability. Most people going through a divorce, even when it is not their fault, and even when they have biblical reasons, are usually shattered by the circumstances and not in any frame of mind to be “dating.” Nor would they be able to make good decisions while “on the rebound.” Casual dating in this case is neither wise nor prudent. While the abandoned spouse may be lonely, making clear and godly relationship decisions in such a situation is often very difficult, if not impossible.

The second situation is that of a person who divorces his/her spouse for non-biblical reasons. A divorce in this case, in the words of God, is due to “hardness of heart” (Mark 10:1–12). A divorce, therefore, is a spiritual failure and a time when the focus should be upon the Lord and not upon seeking to replace the one being divorced. The third situation is that of a person who causes a divorce, i.e. the “guilty” party in a divorce. All of the biblical allowances for remarriage after a divorce relate to the “innocent” spouse in a divorce with biblical grounds. There is no biblical allowance for remarriage for a spouse divorced for unbiblical reasons or for a spouse who caused a divorce, whether by adultery, abandonment, and/or other possible grounds. The Bible nowhere states that the “guilty” spouse in a divorce is allowed to remarry. Therefore, in situations two and three, since the purpose of dating is to find a spouse, it would not seem that there is any biblical allowance to begin dating, ever.

Since the purpose of modern dating to find a mate or to seek companionship with the opposite sex, biblically speaking, a married man or woman is not free to engage in that process, even if there is a pending divorce. Even for the innocent victim of an unwanted divorce, until the legal or formal end to a marriage, one is still married, and forging a relationship outside of that marriage gives the wrong appearance. First Thessalonians 5:22 instructs us to “refrain from even the appearance of evil.” Therefore, the better choice is to abstain from any action that could endanger one spiritually or give the impression to others of a careless attitude toward marriage.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Creation: How Does DNA Point to the Existence of a Creator?

Over the millennia, believers in God have marshaled numerous arguments in an attempt to demonstrate God’s existence. Various forms of the cosmological, ontological, and moral arguments have been developed and refined with much success. One frequently discussed form of theistic argument has been the argument from design. The design argument has had many notable proponents from Plato to Thomas Aquinas and beyond.

While several versions of the design argument are valid and have been persuasive to many, recent discoveries at the cellular level have provided further ammunition for design proponents. In 1953, researchers Francis Crick and James Watson elucidated the structure of the DNA molecule. In doing so, they discovered that DNA was a carrier of specific genetic information that takes the form of a four character digital code. This information is contained in an arraignment of four chemicals that scientists represent with the letters A, C, T, and G. The sequences of these chemicals provide the instructions necessary to assemble complex protein molecules that, in turn, help form structures diverse as eyes, wings, and legs.

As Dr. Stephen C. Meyer has noted, “As it turns out, specific regions of the DNA molecule called coding regions have the same property of “sequence specificity” or “specified complexity” that characterizes written codes, linguistic texts, and protein molecules. Just as the letters in the alphabet of a written language may convey a particular message depending on their arrangement, so too do the sequences of nucleotide bases (the A’s, T’s, G’s, and C’s) inscribed along the spine of a DNA molecule convey a precise set of instructions for building proteins within the cell.”

The information-bearing properties in the DNA molecule seem obvious. However, does this fact, by itself, force us to infer an Intelligent Designer as the cause of this intelligence? Meyer continues, “Whether we are looking at a hieroglyphic inscription, a section of text in a book, or computer software, if you have information, and you trace it back to its source, invariably you come to an intelligence. Therefore, when you find information inscribed along the backbone of the DNA molecule in the cell, the most rational inference, based upon our repeated experience, is that an intelligence of some kind played a role in the origin of that information.”

The information-rich features of DNA provide further confirmation that our universe was created and designed by God. As the Apostle Paul said in his letter to the church at Rome, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). This inspired utterance seems more obvious now than when it was originally written nearly 2,000 years ago.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about the Holy Spirit: Is There Any Value to a Spiritual Gifts Test/Inventory/Assessment?

It is definitely commendable for God’s children to desire to know the spiritual gifts given to them by the Holy Spirit for the purpose of serving and glorifying God (2 Timothy 1:6). At the same time, the Bible does not indicate that one’s spiritual gift(s) can be determined by taking a test. The many spiritual gifts assessments primarily work the same way. The person taking the test simply responds to a list of statements or questions. After all the questions are answered, a number value is assigned to the response choices, calculated, and that number determines the spiritual gift(s). In contrast, the Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit grants spiritual gifts according to His will, according to how He has chosen to use the believer to minister to others.

One of the problems with the spiritual gift test approach is that, among Christians today, there are many different opinions on the whole subject of spiritual gifts, such as how many there are, exactly what they mean, whether some gifts are inactive, and whether to include Christ’s gifts to His church (Ephesians 4:11) in the list of spiritual gifts. Seldom are these issues addressed in these assessments. Another consideration is that, more often than not, people tend to see themselves differently than others see them, which can mean a false outcome in the assessment of one’s spiritual gifts.

A third problem with using this approach to determine spiritual gifts is that these gifts come from God via the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit gives these gifts to whom He chooses (1 Corinthians 12:7–11). In John 16:13, believers are promised by Jesus that the Holy Spirit will guide them into all truth. It stands to reason that, since it is the Holy Spirit who decides who gets which gifts, He is even more interested in us finding out what our gifts are than we are. In truth, our own curiosity of how “gifted” we are many times is motivated by vain thoughts of our own importance. Conversely, the Holy Spirit’s desire that we know our spiritual gifts is always for the best, in order for us to function in the body in such a way that brings glory and honor to the Father.

If we are genuinely seeking God’s leading through prayer, fellowship, studying God’s Word, and the teaching of God’s servants, our gifts will become obvious. God gives us the desires of our heart (Psalm 37:4). This does not necessarily mean that God gives us whatever we desire—rather, that He can and will give us the desires themselves. He can place within our hearts the desire to teach, the desire to give, the desire to pray, the desire to serve, etc. When we act on those desires, and we are truly committed to His glory in the use of our gifts, positive outcomes will result—the body of Christ will be edified and God will be glorified.[1]


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Would You Date An Unemployed Man? – 75 Percent Of Women Would Not

If you are a man living in America today, to a large degree your value to society is determined by how much money you make. It should not be that way, but that is how our society works. And if you do not have a job at all and you cannot take care of your own family, then almost everyone looks down on you even if it is not your fault. Once you are unemployed, it becomes the number one defining factor in your life. Yes, there are a few people that may look at you in the same way, but in the eyes of most you will now be less of a man. Sadly, this is particularly true when it comes to romantic relationships. Unemployed men tend to have unhappier marriages, they tend to divorce more frequently, and as you will see below approximately 75 percent of all American women do not have any interest in dating unemployed men. Unfortunately for American men, the decline of the U.S. economy in recent years has had a disproportionate impact on them. The past five years have been the worst years for employment for American men in the post-World War II era, and things are only going to get worse from here. (Read More….)

Obamacare Is Going To Be The Biggest Expansion Of The Welfare State In U.S. History

Can the U.S. government afford to pay for the health care of 38 million more people? As you will see below, Obamacare is going to be the biggest expansion of the welfare state in U.S. history. It is being projected that a decade from now 17 million Americans will be receiving Obamacare subsidies and an additional 21 million Americans will have been added to the Medicaid rolls. At a time when we are already running trillion dollar deficits, is this really something that the government should be taking on? In addition, it is being projected that bringing millions upon millions of new people into the Medicaid program will also cause enrollment in many other federal welfare programs such as food stamps to surge. Right now, the percentage of Americans that are financially dependent on the U.S. government is already at an all-time high, and Obamacare is going to cause the level of government dependence to go much, much higher. But how much weight can the “safety net” actually carry before it breaks entirely? (Read More…..)

New ‘Noah’ Film Starring Russell Crowe Flooded With Controversy

(CN) — A new Hollywood epic on the life of Noah has stirred controversy among Christians, Jews and others who have pre-screened the film, as they state that the movie largely leaves out one important foundation: the Bible.

Noah is the brainchild of producer Darren Aronofsky, who says that he has wanted to make a film about Noah and the ark since his childhood. With a $125 million budget, the film is said to be more of an edgy action epic that depicts a man who fights off his enemies as he prepares for a coming apocalypse, rather than a story of a “preacher of righteousness” who calls the world to repentance from sin.

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Who are the Wheat and Who are the Tares?

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman…

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