I confess. I did not expect to write an article that engendered such strong emotions. But now nearly 600,000 people have viewed the article, and hundreds have commented.
The article to which I refer was about the simple issue of what churches do that drives first-time guests away. The most discussed issue was that which is typically called “the stand and greet time.”
A lot of people don’t like this time in many churches’ worship services. A lot of people really don’t like it.
So I decided to conclude the series with representative comments from those who said, in no uncertain terms, not to continue this exercise in your church. This sentiment was particularly strong among those who are actively visiting churches now.
Here are some of the comments:
Well the election dust has settled and the Republicans have pushed the Democrats completely out of Congressional power. The reason for this is simple: the Democrats were too willing to embrace fringe elements which did not represent the majority of Americans. So they lost. And they have no one to blame but themselves.
The Democrats are not perceived to represent the majority any longer. They have shot themselves in the foot.
But does that mean the Republicans are a better choice? Nope. Because at the end of the day they don’t represent the majority of Americans any longer either. They too pander to a tiny minority of citizens: the wealthy. Neither party cares about you, Mr or Ms average.
So, no matter who you voted for, they have a different agenda than you do. Your agenda is the improvement of America. Their agenda is the improvement of their power…
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Available in ePub and Kindle .mobi formats
Posted with the kind permission of Dr. J. Ligon Duncan, As preached at First Presbyterian Church, Jackson, Mississippi. Lightly edited. These are transcribed messages from First Presbyterian Church, and the reader should presume any error to be with the webmaster/transcriber/editor rather than with the original speaker..
One of America’s most renowned Presbyterian theologians, currently Chancellor of the Reformed Theological Seminary, delivered these sermons in 2000-2001. There are over 50 sermons in the first eight chapter alone and, Lord willing we will be posting chapters 9-16 soon.
Table of Contents
Greetings from an Apostle – Romans 1:1-7
Paul’s Prayer Report – Romans 1:8-10
Paul’s Purpose to Preach – Romans 1:11-15
Paul’s Good News (The Theme of Romans) – Romans 1:16-17
We Have No Excuse – Romans 1:18-20
We Know God, But Don’t Glorify Him – Romans…
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Thanks to a recent survey by Ligonier Ministries and Lifeway Research we now know the biggest heresy in America. Pushing errors regarding the trinity and the church into second and third place is the denial of the Bible’s teaching about the doctrine of sin, especially in the related areas of human depravity and human inability. I say “related” because what we believe about human depravity impacts what we believe about human ability; what we are determines what we can or cannot do.
Regarding human depravity, the research showed:
- 67% agree “Everyone sins at least a little, but most people are by nature good.”
- 40% agree “God loves me because of the good I do or have done.”
Regarding human inability, the statistics were:
- Only 16% agree with the doctrine that says “people do not have the ability to turn to God on their own initiative.”
- 71% of Americans agree that “an individual must contribute his/her own effort for personal salvation.”
- 64% of Americans agree “a person obtains peace with God by first taking the initiative to seek God and then God responds with grace.”
In summary, the vast majority believe that:
- Though we sin a little, by nature we are good.
- We can do good and God rewards our good deeds by loving us.
- We have the ability to turn to God on our own initiative.
- Salvation involves us taking the initiative that God then responds to.
From Polls to the Bible
But now, let’s turn from our culture and from the polls to the Word of God, to hear what God says about human depravity and human inability. As we will see, the Bible teaches that because of human depravity we have human inability. Here’s what the Bible teaches about our natural spiritual condition and abilities. Notice the repeated emphasis on what we cannot do.
1. You cannot think a good thought or desire a good desire: “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5).
2. You cannot bring anything clean out of your own heart or life: “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? No one!” (Job 14:4).
3. You cannot see, understand, or enter the Kingdom of God: “Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).
4. You cannot come to Jesus in your own strength: “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (John 6:44).
5. You cannot produce any good spiritual fruit: “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5)
6. You cannot obey God: “The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be” (Rom. 8:7).
7. You cannot please God: “So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:8)
8. You cannot know spiritual things: “The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14)
9. You cannot savingly confess that Jesus Christ is Lord: “No one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:3; Matt. 16:17).
Why so important?
Why is it so important to believe the Bible’s teaching in this area?
First, because unless we know how serious our sickness is, we won’t see our urgent need of the Good Doctor, Jesus Christ and will be slow, or refuse, to call upon Him for mercy and grace.
Second, this is good news because we can tell people to stop trying to do what they cannot do and start trusting in Christ alone for salvation. What a huge relief when we finally grasp: “I cannot, but Christ can…and did.”
Third, because we will give God all the glory when we are saved by Him. We will realize that salvation truly is of the Lord (Jonah 2:9; John 1:12-13; Rom. 9:16). And if salvation is totally, completely, and entirely of the Lord, then we will take no credit to ourselves but give God all the glory both now and forever (1 Cor. 1:31; Rev. 1:5-6).
credo prophetiae sive praedicationis munus sacrosanctum esse, ut quod ante omne officium sit summe necessarium
In his Fideo Expositio. And he’s right. The government is incapable of transforming people. The Gospel, on the other hand, does precisely that. Or, more accurately, God does just that through the Gospel.
As a consequence, reliance on the State for the betterment or improvement of society is nothing but a reliance on a reed. The only transformation the State is capable of is the transformation of a decent citizen into a self serving greedy sociopath by means of election to public office.
In his recent Blog Essay, “What the Election Reveals About Us, and Why We Vote as We Do,” Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. discusses the midterm elections and what they show us about how worldviews operate and how they are formed. Mohler writes:
“The results of this midterm election will give intelligent Christians a great deal to think about. But when it comes to the larger issues at stake, the midterm election is simply one episode in a very long story, a story of political engagement that should lead Christians to continue to think ever more seriously about the issues that are really at stake.”
Did you know that we buy nearly five times as much stuff from the Chinese as they buy from us? According to government numbers that were just released, we imported 44.9 billion dollars worth of stuff from China in September but we only exported 9.3 billion dollars worth of stuff to them. And this is not happening because our economy is so much larger than China’s. In fact, the IMF says that China now has the largest economy on the entire planet on a purchasing power basis. No, the truth is that this is happening because our economy is broken. Every month, we consume far more wealth than we produce. Because the outflow of money is far greater than the inflow, we have to go to major exporting nations and beg them to lend our dollars back to us so that we can pay our bills. Meanwhile, the quality of the jobs in this country continues to go down and our formerly great manufacturing cities are rotting and decaying. We are committing national economic suicide, and most Americans don’t seem to care. (Read More….)
The more things change, the more things stay the same. As I write this, it looks like the Republicans are going to take control of the U.S. Senate. But will that actually alter the direction of the country? Will that actually change anything? There are many that hope that this could represent a “turning point” for America, but history tells us that almost certainly will not be the case. Over the past 30 years, things have changed very little no matter which party has controlled the White House and no matter which party has controlled Congress. During that time frame, the national debt has continued to explode, our long-term economic problems have continued to get even worse, our liberties and freedoms have continued to erode and our nation has increasingly become a moral cesspool. And the truth is that at this point there is very little real difference between most Democrats and most Republicans. The corruption in Washington D.C. runs extremely deep, and very few politicians are able to enter that environment without being fundamentally affected by it. (Read More…)
Why All the Sensationalist Huksterism with Bible Prophecy?
By Dr. David R. Reagan
Founder & Director, Lamb & Lion Ministries
There are times when I am embarrassed to be a Bible prophecy teacher and preacher, and those times are becoming more frequent.
It’s all because Bible prophecy is a playground for fanatics and sensationalists. One person has put it this way: “Bible prophecy is the National Enquirer branch of theology.”
Why is it that rumor-mongering is so prevalent in the field of Bible prophecy? Well, for one thing, it sells books and tapes. Sensationalism appeals to the carnal nature of Man. People love to speculate about the future, and millions of others love to read the speculations.
Lawyers for the Obama administration compared Israel’s control of Jerusalem to Russian claims over the Ukrainian territory of Crimea during oral arguments this week before the Supreme Court in a case concerning the rights of U.S. citizens to list Jerusalem as part of Israel on their passports.
If President Obama suffered a “shellacking” in the 2010 elections, then what he endured Tuesday night was nothing short of a vicious gangland beatdown the likes of which have rarely been seen before in the history of electoral politics.
This, of course, is a wonderful and well-deserved outcome. But beware: America now enters the two most dangerous years of her existence — or certainly the most dangerous since the Great Depression and possibly going all the way back to the Civil War.
by Scott Aniol
Todd Pruit provides seven excellent principles by which we can measure whether or not our worship is pagan:
• Worship is to be regulated according to Scripture.
• Worship is the response to God’s self-revelation.
• Worship may be accompanied by affections but not guided by them.
• Worship should not be governed by pragmatic concerns.
• Worship is for God.
• Worship is not meant to facilitate mystical encounters with God.
• Worship and obedience are inseparable.
Read the whole thing: Is Your Worship Christian or Pagan? 7 Tests by Todd Pruitt – Worship.
WVW-Hour: In this program Brannon Howse and Justin Peters respond to six video clips of Beth Moore appearing on the television program of Word of Faith proponent Joyce Meyer as the two ladies discuss unity. Listen as they seem to have no understanding of what is Biblical unity. Brannon and Justin look at numerous passages of Scripture that describe Biblical unity and condemn the very kind of unity Beth Moore and Joyce Meyer seem to be encouraging. See the clip in which Beth Moore says she offers Joyce Meyer her respect, esteem, and then affirms false teacher Meyer as a “mighty, mighty, woman of God.” Watch this program now before it rolls into the Situation Room at http://www.situationroom.net for members only. Click here to watch now: http://www.worldviewweekend.com/tv/video/beth-moore-offers-false-teacher-joyce-meyer-her-respect-esteem-they-talk-about-unity
I’ve been spending the past several weeks focusing on this idea of spiritual dehydration – those seasons of life when your faith feels worn out and dried up. I want to recap this series and leave you with a final thought.
I started off by reminding you that your salvation in Christ provides no guarantee of the absence of spiritual dehydration. In fact, the Bible almost assures that your soul will experience it. Even the most valiant men and women of faith needed their soul strengthened and encouraged (Acts 14:22).
More significantly, Jesus experienced a moment when he didn’t want to take one more step. Remember in the Garden of Gethsemane? Jesus says, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.” (Matthew 26:39)
Christ was spiritually exhausted; he wanted to give up! Yet he was the God-Man, and he continued on his own strength. Now, when we have nothing left, his power can be made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).
After we defined spiritual dehydration and located our source of strength, we marked down three practical steps to take in these seasons of darkness. First, we learned to meditate on the quality and nature of God’s love; second, we learned to sing good theology; finally, we learned to pray honest prayers.
Now, I need to say something I wish wasn’t true. Here it is: there is no guarantee that your spiritual dehydration will ever leave or be quenched completely.
by Mike Ratliff
18 “ If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. (John 15:18-19 NASB)
Over that last several post I have attempted to teach from God’s Word the lessons geared toward drawing Christians to self-examination and repentance. Why? The Church, the truth Church, is not organizations or buildings, but is, instead, a group of people whom God has called out of this world. True Christians are called to love not this world. Instead, they are to love the Lord their God even more than our own lives. However, after decades of being attacked by false shepherds and bad theology, the visible church is very sick…
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