How do you assess a prosperity gospel church?
The first nine years of my walk with Christ were spent in such an environment, followed by two years in theological rehab, which prepared me for the next six years of pastoring in the urban context. What’s become clear to me is that the nine marks of a healthy church provide a useful grid for assessing any church, including those that teach the prosperity gospel.
And what we find is that a prosperity gospel church is a purely anti-nine marks church.
Some of the examples in what follows are specific and may not identify with you the reader. Many however are universal and are propagated by preachers on the internet, radio, and television. Since the prosperity gospel movement is inter-denominational, the teachings expressed in this article are not to be associated with any one denomination within evangelical Christianity.
While the sound of my voice might reach a lot of ears, it’s the biblical content that merits the attention, not me. My own ideas and opinions don’t contain “the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). Neither do yours.
Preaching the Bible establishes the authority of God over the mind and the soul. When a pastor faithfully preaches the Word of God, his people understand who has sovereignty over their souls—that it is God alone who reigns over their thoughts and their actions.
I never want to be guilty of giving people the impression that they have heard from God when in fact they have only heard from me. When I step into the pulpit, the expectation is that I’m the messenger of God. I speak on His behalf, not my own.
I remember having dinner with the owner of nationally known newspaper who had come to our church out of curiosity. He was not a Christian. And he asked me, “Why don’t you ever give your opinion about anything?”
I responded by asking him: “Do you really need another opinion? You have a newspaper full of opinions every day. But, as a pastor, I’m not called to give my opinion. I’m here to represent the Word of the living God. I have no desire to write my own opinion column, but if you would be willing to give me a column where I can express what God says on all these issues, I’d be glad to do that.” Needless to say, he didn’t take me up on that offer. But I think he understood my point.
As ambassadors for God, our task is not to promote our own ideas, but rather to represent our King rightly. That means that all we should be doing is bringing the revealed truth of God to bear on the minds of men. Even our thinking has to be biblical. My prayer is that what Spurgeon said of Bunyan might be true of us today: “Why, this man is a living Bible! Prick him anywhere; his blood is Bibline, the very essence of the Bible flows from him. He cannot speak without quoting a text, for his very soul is full of the Word of God.” (Charles Spurgeon, “The Last Words of Christ on the Cross,” #2644, on Luke 23:46. Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Volume 45.) Simply put, we should be the voice of God on every issue in every place and era.
(Adapted from The Master’s Plan for the Church.)
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Why care about something written about a debate that hasn’t happened yet? Well frankly, because you need to be prepared for whatever happens afterwards, and the best way to do so is to reflect upon the issue at hand. I decided to do a little research, and I put together this post to help frame the upcoming debate. I also have a few comments on it throughout.
Fellow Christians, we need to be prepared for this debate. We need to be posting on it beforehand, during, and afterwards. Why? A simple look at Google Trends shows that the search traffic for Ken Ham has spiked hugely since the debate was announced. Side-by-side comparison of Bill Nye and Ken Ham shows both have seen an increase of search traffic from it. To put it simply: people are talking and thinking about this. We need to have a response…
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Accountability has gotten a bad rap. It is easy to see why, I guess. When it comes to battling against sin, and especially those stubborn, addictive sins, accountability relationships are sometimes held up as a cure-all, a near guarantee of success. Yet often they end up being a means of commiseration more than challenge, a time when Christians sit around feeling sorry for one another rather than full-on battling against sin.
Yet I believe the Bible promotes and even demands accountability relationships for Christians who want to battle hard against a dogged sin. Paul writes, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:1-2). Accountability is a specific—and if done right, helpful—form of bearing one another’s burdens.
However, for accountability to be successful, it must be done well. In his book Finally Free, Heath Lambert includes some helpful principles about effective accountability. He writes in the context of battling against pornography, but the points he makes are equally applicable to any sin.
Here are seven principles for effective accountability; each is further explained by showing what effective accountability is and is not.
A day does not pass that I do not hear from a hurting pastor. Serving in that role has to be one of the most challenging vocations today. Sure, there are some bad and immoral pastors. But the vast majority of our pastors serve their congregations in a way that honors God and makes a difference in the community.
But both anecdotally and by objective research, we learn that pastors are trusted less and held in lower esteem each year. A recent Pew Research poll found that the favorable view of clergy had declined to 37 percent of those surveyed.
Why are pastors no longer held in high esteem? What is behind the precipitous drop in favorable ratings almost every year? Allow me to offer eleven possible reasons. As you will see, they are not mutually exclusive.
The combined wealth of the world’s richest 85 people is now equivalent to that owned by half of the world’s population – or 3.5 billion of the poorest people – according to a new report from Oxfam.
In a report titled “Working for the Few” released Monday, the global aid and development organization detailed the extent of global economic inequality created by the rapidly increasing wealth of the richest, warning of the major risks it poses to “human progress.”
According to the report, 210 people have become billionaires in the past year, joining a select group of 1,426 individuals with a combined net worth of $5.4 trillion.
It added that the wealth of the richest one percent of people in the world now amounts to $110 trillion, or 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the world’s population.
(Washington, D.C.) — The Obama administration and the rest of the P5+1 leaders are adamant that the interim nuclear deal on the table is:
A) the best that can be accomplished; and
B) will make it much harder for Iran to build the Bomb.
Are either of these things true?
Not according to a former senior IAEA nuclear official who says Iran could break the deal at any time and be just two to three weeks away from building operational nuclear warheads.
“One day before Iran began implementing its nuclear deal with world powers, a former United Nations watchdog said the Islamic Republic would only be two to three weeks away from a nuclear weapon if the agreement were broken,” reports Haaretz.
“Olli Heinonen, former deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, appeared on a Sunday radio show, where he discussed recent remarks from Iran’s top nuclear negotiator,”…
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In his latest Marked Urgent post, “Faith and Freedom in the Public Square: An Evening I Will Share with Dennis Prager and Ross Douthat,” Dr. Mohler invites us all to a “respectful conversation on the most controversial issues of our day.” The event is on Tuesday, January 28, at 7:00 pm in the Alumni Chapel on the campus of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Read the full announcement here.
Fox News reports:
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo believes that pro-life activists along with anti-gay activists, and supporters of the Second Amendment, are not welcome in his state.
During a radio interview on Friday, Cuomo pointed out that Republicans were in the midst of a schism, where conservatives worked against moderate Republicans.
“Their problem is not me and the Democrats; their problem is themselves,” he said. “Who are they? Are they these extreme conservatives who are right-to-life, pro-assault-weapon, anti-gay? Is that who they are? Because if that’s who they are and they’re the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York, because that’s not who New Yorkers are.”