Daily Archives: August 28, 2016

Nine Indications that you are covering up your sins

The Domain for Truth

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Our hearts are deceitful.  Sometimes people are covering up their sins when they think they are dealing with their sins.

Below are some indications to see if you are covering up your sins rather than dealing with them biblically with each point we have examples provided:

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Ministering by publicly aligning to things hidden because of shame while walking in craftiness and adulterating the Word of God

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike  Ratliff

21 Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. Romans 6:21 (NASB)

Back in 2006 thru 2008 or so we were vociferously debating what was going on in the seeker sensitive churches all around us as they abandoned expository preaching, replacing it with topical sermons, entertainment, drama, dance, videos, et cetera. In fact, that was how this ministry began, that is, in ministering to those dear brethrern who had lost their churches to hostile takovers by the Purpose Driven paradigm. I remember how we struggled to come up with the “core” reason they seemed to be so successful. Things sure have progressed, or is it actually the opposite with the gospel contextualization having replaced all of that with the goal of church globalization within the framework of Dominonism and/or “the New Evangelism?” I…

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Russell Moore, Andy Stanley, and their Identical Cultural Worldviews

Sadly, the greatest defenders of Russell Moore today tend to be those who hold the mantle, “Reformed.” For many, a mere association with Albert Mohler is enough to buy all sorts of accusational immunity. For others, who haven’t noticed The Gospel Coalition turning into The Social Gospel Coalition over the last couple years, Russell’s association with that organization paints him with controversy Teflon. While I never understood the prolific urban legend that the man is Reformed or a Calvinist (he very explicitly – by his own admission – is not), those adopting the label defend him vigorously as though he were on the team. The support for Moore by conservative evangelicals and particularly those on Team Calvin really is quite bizarre, and equally unhelpful.

Just a refresher.

Russell Moore has called Jesus (not the Jesús from Juarez, the one from Nazareth) an illegal alien and called a border wall a “golden calf” and insinuated that immigration law is unchristian, saying that being anti-illegal immigration will lead one to becoming pro-abortion.

Russell Moore said he would attend a gay wedding reception.

Russell Moore broke bread with Matthew Vines, Justin Lee and other gay ‘Christian’ leaders, in violation of 1 Corinthians 5, and even the Wall Street Journal noticed “The Softening Tone on Homosexuality.” 

Russell Moore has partnered his SBC entity with the very radical Humane Society and pushed for animal rights, and even insinuated that Charles Spurgeon was an animal rights activist.

Russell Moore has repeatedly pushed to prominence a feminist (that’s what she calls herself) who explicitly denounces Complimentarianism, says abortion is not murder and calling it murder is “unchristlike,” who speaks at homosexual fundraisers, has gay besties who repeatedly laud her praise, and who was chosen by animal liberation idealogues to push animal liberation theology in evangelical churches. She says that violence towards animals makes her more upset than violence toward babies, believes that naming animals gives them personhood that allow them to go to Heaven, defends gay porn propaganda and more. He says he “wishes there were 1000 more of her,” the very one who endorsed the pro-gay “It Gets Better” Campaign.

Russell Moore promotes Jewish-Muslim interfaith prayer.

Russell Moore lobbied to get a Mosque built in New Jersey.

Russell Moore sits on a George Soros-funded globalist organizational board designed to eradicate national borders.

Russell Moore is partnering with the New Apostolic Reformation.

Russell Moore is the Senior Editor for a Catholic-Protestant ecumenical magazine.

Russell Moore says he is unsure of the difference between his and the Pope’s Gospel focus.

I could go on. And on. And on. Literally, that’s just a sample. And do you see all those words in red? Those are hyperlinks. I didn’t provide you subjective opinions. I provided you facts. Quotations. Press releases. News articles. Follow the trail and see for yourself.

If you don’t think that Stanley’s faux pas was entirely predictable, know that Pulpit & Pen spoke of the compromised foolishness in having Stanley speak at the event in a post from February entitled, “Andy Stanley to Speak at ERLC.” Nailed it.

What I saw in a Facebook group today was decent, relatively theologically astute, but undiscerning people defend Russell Moore in relation to a video that surfaced at Pulpit & Pen from the Onward Conference this week. Chiefly, the content is this: Andy Stanley sits on a stage, being interviewed by Russell Moore, and in the process of the dialogue, Stanley says a few controversial things including (1) small churches need to sell their property and give it to the church planters and (2) we need to take the focus off the Bible.

Hiss. Boo. Outrage.

People are understandably upset. The defense of Moore comes from the position of, “That was only Stanley. Don’t lump Russell in with Stanley.”

It’s here where I ask you to use discernment.

Andy Stanley preached the widely-heralded “When Gracie met Truthie Sermon,” in which he reveals he has practicing homosexual church members (who aren’t under discipline), as though that’s a normal thing (link)

Andy Stanley told evangelical Christians that they should make the gay wedding cake no matter if it contradicts their conscience, because Jesus would want them to (link).

Andy Stanely said that expository preaching was “cheating” and “lazy” (link).

Andy Stanley said we need to stop defending doctrinal positions by saying, “the Bible says” (link).

The ERLC’s Onward Conference was designed to, “…Engage the culture as Christians without losing the gospel.” Why, oh why on Earth, would Russell Moore have someone like Andy Stanley – an infamous, even nefarious Gospel-compromiser especially when it comes into conflict with culture – come to speak at a conference of this theme as though (and treated like) he was an expert?

Two options. The first is that Russell Moore is the most naive, gullible and woefully uninformed person in regards to who Andy Stanley is. The second is that Russell thinks Stanley does a pretty good job “engaging” culture.

People. People. People. The only difference when it comes to cultural compromise between Russell Moore and Andy Stanley is that Moore is far more articulate and no doubt smarter than Stanley. Stanley just doesn’t know enough to be Moore-like tactful in exposing his inward convictions.

Source: Russell Moore, Andy Stanley, and their Identical Cultural Worldviews

SBC Conference: “Get The Spotlight Off The Bible” (Courtesy of Russell Moore & Andy Stanley)

The SBC’s continued pursuit of its prevalent flavor of theology – American Christianity –   driven as it is by a seeker-sensitive model of church growth, finds its ERLC conference with one day under its belt.   The two-day conference, August 25 & 26, was coincidentally (probably not) given the theme, Onward, also the title of Russell Moore’s recent book.

The Ethics And Religious Liberty Commission conference includes a multitude of speakers, celebrity Christians, mega pastors, and even a poet. For the SBC, where doctrinal allegiance and Biblical authority are increasingly becoming mere theological terms reserved for the training halls of seminaries, it’s no surprise Scripture might be downplayed at a denominational conference.  But for it to be outright denigrated might be an ignoble first, even for the SBC.

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The unfettered zeal to “engage the culture” can be interpreted, perhaps, as the convention’s superficial mantra to hide an underlying bureaucratic panic. The virulent hemorrhaging of members needs an emergency response team. Swing open the doors! Invite in the goats! Engage!  Entertain! Retain! Onward!   We don’t need no stinkin’ doctrine!

So, day one of the conference allowed us to capture this little nugget of outright denial of Biblical authority. You may not have heard it so blatantly exclaimed from a Southern Baptist pulpit, but if you’re perceptive enough, you can discern it as underlying truth that drives the methodology of many SBC churches. It’s the “it’s all about you gospel” … and you don’t need much Bible for that … cuz it ain’t in the Bible!

In playing the wildly favorite “What If You Were Pope” game with Andy Stanley, Russell Moore, President of the ERLC, posits the following question to the mega-church superstar pastor.

“If you were, for real, the evangelical pope and you really had the authority to say ‘this is how it’s gonna be within American evangelical Christianity,’ what would you do?”  Russell Moore

Moore skips right over all those Biblical commands for pastors, things like Paul’s admonition to Timothy to “Preach the word.”  (2 Timothy 4:2) He jumps right over Christ’s triply-issued instruction to Peter, “Feed my sheep.”  (John 21:15-17)

Instead, Moore plays “what if you were God” with Stanley, using the apostate vicar of the Tiber as a colloquial reference to supreme ecclesiastic authority.

Stanley, who you may remember has no affinity for expository preaching, has spoken negatively about small churches, and who encourages believers to bake gay wedding cakes, gave a few responses to Moore’s query.

Perhaps it’s no Freudian slip – after all, greed is at the core of the false theology Stanley hurls forth – that he responds with a quick answer that is decidedly not from thinking on “things that are above.” (Colossians 3:2) Stanley’s first response, nobly couched though it is in a spiritualized ambition, reflects nothing short of his “show me the money” motivations.

“I would have all the churches that are dying, dying, dying, dying sell their buildings and give their money to the church planters.”  Andy Stanley

Yeah, sounds noble.   But, don’t forget, those “churches” don’t belong to themselves, and certainly not to Andy, nor to church planters lacking facilities. Those churches belong to Christ.

But, hey, if you’re Andy Stanley, it’s nothing to monetize the bride of Christ. He’s been doing it for years.

“The misappropriation, the misused and unused real estate in this country just drives us all crazy … cause some of you are in a grocery store or you’re in the back of a school and down the street is $4.5 million worth of property … and eight people sittin’ in there.”  Andy Stanley

When it’s all about the money, and not the bride of Christ, the lascivious looks at real estate are justifiable. Eight souls who faithfully worship? Forget them. Sell the building, get the cash.

As though this response from Stanley wasn’t egregious enough – enough that it should have brought a rebuke – Moore allowed him to continue.

“I would ask preachers and pastors and student pastors in their communications to get the spotlight off the Bible and back on the resurrection.”  Andy Stanley

Pause for a moment and let that answer stimulate your Biblically-informed synapses. “Get the spotlight off the Bible.” Really?

Surely Moore injected a “wait just a minute there, fella” at this point, right?  Wrong.   Russell effected his impression of a bobblehead and let the Stanley blasphemy roll on.

“Let’s get people’s attention back on Jesus as soon as possible …”  Andy Stanley

Which Jesus, Andy? The one that is only found in Scripture, HIS Word?   The Scripture you want to toss by the wayside?  That Jesus?  Or a Jesus that you’ve imagined, one that will fill your pews … and your coffers?  In other words, a false, idolatrous “Jesus” in whom faith is damning eternally, but full of tangible real estate options temporally?

On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’  Jesus, in Matthew 7:22-23

Somebody find Andy and show him these words of Christ … quickly, before he totally discards Scripture.

“…the issue for us is always ‘who is Jesus?’   Did He rise from the dead? And that we would leverage the authority that we have in the resurrection as opposed to Scripture … not because I don’t believe Scripture’s inspired in terms of reaching this culture.”  Andy Stanley

While no audible shouts of “Amen” can be discerned from the audio, the lack of them doesn’t detract from Russell Moore’s amenable, head-nodding agreement with Stanley’s words.

There’s so much in that last line from Stanley that could elicit rightful reams of response. Skip the “did He rise from the dead” query – that was likely rhetorical. What’s this embued authority we have from the resurrection? Christ’s resurrection, as a historical fact, is the supreme confirmation of our Lord’s deity. It is the capstone to His Gospel. It doesn’t give me any particular authority whatsoever.  However, when proclaimed as a fundamental aspect of His Gospel, God can do wondrous things with it.  (Romans 1:16)

“Scripture’s inspired in terms of reaching this culture.” What’s that mean? Is cultural engagement the limit of Scripture’s authority? If so, what was all that “Feed my sheep” stuff about?

Stanley’s hurling heresy here. But he doesn’t stop with this view of the limited authority of Scripture. He goes on.

“I might republish all the Bibles and call the first half ‘God’s covenant with ancient Israel’ and the second half “God’s covenant with the world’ because the way we talk about the Scripture is confusing for unchurched people.”  Andy Stanley

What? Andy Stanley knows the problem with the Bible and, if he were pope, he’d fix it. Forget arguing the evident theological errors he’s suggesting by his fix, this man believes he could make the Bible more palatable for unbelievers. He could correct the mistakes God obviously made in His providential oversight of Scripture’s inspiration and transmission.  Andy could fix the Bible so that every unbeliever could grasp it … which no doubt means Andy would make it read like the false theology out of which he hurls falsehoods from his own Sunday morning showtimes.  “It’s all about you.

The two-minute video of this SBC tolerated, ERLC sponsored blasphemy against the Word of God is captured below.

Somebody call the SBC.  Mention the first article of the Baptist Faith And Message, which includes the lines “all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried.”

Either the SBC has forgotten this or … more likely … they’re just doing what Andy Stanley advises.  “Get the spotlight off the Bible.”

By the way … can you say … downgrade?

*Editor’s Note: Pulpit & Pen called this in February, 2016. See here.

Be sure to go here and like our Facebook page.

[Contributed by Bud Ahlheim]

Source: SBC Conference: “Get The Spotlight Off The Bible” (Courtesy of Russell Moore & Andy Stanley)

Can Salvation Be Lost Because of Sin?

The question of losing one’s salvation is one that is a matter of great controversy within the household of Christian faith. There are many Christians who live in mortal fear every day of losing what they have found in Christ because the Bible gives serious warnings about falling away, and Paul himself says that he has to be very careful lest he himself become a castaway. There are biblical warnings about what would happen if we turn our backs on Christ after we’ve come to a knowledge of him.

On the other hand, there are also many Christians who believe that we will, in fact, never fall away, and I’m numbered among that group. I’m persuaded from a study of Scripture that we can have an assurance of our salvation not only for today but for all time. But the assurance that we have, or confidence in our future estate in salvation, must be based upon the right foundations. In other words, if my confidence that I will persevere is based on my confidence that I will not sin, it’s on very shaky ground. One thing the Bible makes clear to me is that even though I am a redeemed person, I will in all likelihood, and inevitably, continue to sin to some degree. If it were up to my strength to persevere to guarantee my future salvation, then I would have very little hope of persevering.

But I’m convinced that the Bible teaches that what God begins in our life, he finishes. Paul teaches, for example, in Philippians, “He who has begun a good work in you will perfect it to the end.” My confidence rests in the fact that Jesus promises to intercede for me daily as my Great High Priest. My confidence for my future salvation rests in my confidence that God will keep his promise and that Christ will intercede for me and preserve me. Again, if it were left to me, I would obviously fall away. I like to look at it this way: I’m walking the Christian life with my hand in God’s hand. If my perseverance depended upon my holding tightly to God’s hand, I would surely fall away because at some point I would let go. But I believe that the Scriptures teach us that God is holding my hand, and because he is holding my hand, I don’t have to fear that I will fall ultimately and finally.

Now that doesn’t mean that Christians don’t involve themselves in serious sins and what we would call in theology “serious and radical fall,” but the issue we’re discussing here is whether a Christian will ever fall totally and finally. In the New Testament John tells us, for example, that “those who went out from us were never really with us,” and that “Christ does not lose those whom the Father has given to him.” So my confidence again rests in the intercession of Christ and God’s ability and promise to hold on to me. In and of myself I am capable of sinning even unto the loss of my salvation, but I’m persuaded that God in his grace will keep me from that.

“Is it possible for a Christian to lose his salvation because of sins he commits?” and other questions can be found in our Questions Answered section. You can also download the free ebook Can I Lose My Salvation? by R.C. Sproul.

Source: Can Salvation Be Lost Because of Sin?

Discerning the difference between a Christian and a false Christian

In the bible – there are two types of people: believers and unbelievers. Jesus in Matthew 24 calls believers ‘sheep’ and unbelievers ‘goats’, sending the ‘sheep’ to heaven and the ‘goats’ to hell.

Christian-SheepChristian-Goat

There are roughly three types of “Christians” in Christianity.

Christian-Sheep

1. Christians who are followers of Jesus Christ:
They express their love by growing in His Word.

Christian-Sheep

2. Christians who are followers of Jesus Christ but are temporarily deceived:
These Christians have been hoodwinked by false Christian movements and have been deceived into elevating men and their teachings above Christ and His teachings. They know something is wrong and are trying to put their finger on it while they are being tossed by every wave and wind of doctrine. They do hear God’s voice and attempt to discern the true from the false, eventually to be led out of a false church into a good church – generally at great cost.

Christian-Goat

3…

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26 August 2016 This ‘n’ That

  • Here’s your weekly dose of adorable.
  • Social work is not missions.
  • Encouraged by this post from my dear friends at Falsified Ministries.
  • When Mylan says they will lower Epi-Pen prices for “some” patients, I get the feeling that I still won’t be filling my prescription. It’s fine, though. What’s a little bout of anaphylactic shock if not an adventure? (Yes, that was sarcasm).
  • Elizabeth Smart, who was kidnapped and raped repeatedly as a 14 year old girl, shares how pornography played a role in the abuse her captor inflicted. Brothers and sisters, the destruction wrought by pornography—on you, your mind, your heart, your soul, and on others—cannot be overstated. Purity must begin in our minds (cf. James 1:14-15).
  • The glorious gospel:

Source:  This ‘n’ That

How Sovereign Is Our God?

Unfathomable Grace

God cannot be comprehended or understood. Quite often, he is baffling. His ways are not like ours; they are often hidden and mysterious. He cannot be predicted. He cannot be figured out. He cannot be put in a box, and rarely does he grant us the specific reasons for that which he decides and does. Yes, it is generally true, we cannot understand that which God does.

In addition, God is not often appreciated for that which he does. Because his decisions are often strange, uncomfortable, or even disastrous, we have a persistent tendency to second-guess his immanence, character, wisdom, or power.

However, despite our lack of understanding and appreciation for God’s actions, sacred scripture is consistently clear regarding his sovereignty. God’s inspired autobiography teaches that all happenings are his happenings. Whether they be monumental world events or more individual or private, all happenings are purposed, planned, and performed by the infinite God.

God’s Infinity

Regarding…

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Learning Repentance from the Psalmist


I broke my arm two years ago. It was the first broken bone of my life. I thought it would be fun to expose my kids to the joys of roller skating at the local roller rink. I wanted to share the fun of skating to sounds of the latest pop music, eating roller rink fare, and participating in in the Hokey Pokey. After all, that’s what I did most Saturday’s growing up. The only problem was that I hadn’t skated since I was a teen and falling down as an adult brings greater consequences than it did when I was a child.I knew right away something was wrong. The pain was intense. I clutched my arm close to my abdomen. I had to drive home using one arm. After enduring an emergency doctor’s visit, I learned that I had broken my elbow. Needless to say, I haven’t been skating since.

Psalm 51 and Broken Bones

The excruciating pain in my arm was my body telling me something was wrong. Our emotions function in a similar way for us. They also tell us something is wrong. Whether we are angry at an injustice, fearful of the unknown future, or grieving a loss, our emotions reveal the turbulence broiling in our hearts.

One of the ways our emotions tell us something is wrong is in the case of our sin. When the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, we feel the weight of it. It makes us grieve and feel sorrow. We feel anger toward ourselves for what we’ve done. We feel a nagging disquiet in our souls that won’t let go. We feel broken and realize anew the utter depths of our sinfulness.

That’s how David felt in Psalm 51. He wrote this psalm after the prophet Nathan confronted him for his sin with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12). It is a lament, where he poured out his heart to the Lord, asking forgiveness for what he had done. In this psalm, David described the conviction he felt over his sin like that of crushed bones, “let the bones you have crushed rejoice” (vs. 8). His joy was gone, all he felt was pain and sorrow over his sin.

Such conviction led him to repentance. Paul refers to this sorrow as godly sorrow, “For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it—though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while. As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death” (2 Cor. 7:8-10).

More Lessons from Psalm 51

There is more we can learn from David’s Psalm about repentance:

Our sin is against God: Though David’s sin was against Bathsheba and her husband Uriah, it was ultimately a sin against a holy and righteous God. “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge” (Psalm 51:4). As R.C. Sproul wrote in The Holiness of God, “Sin is cosmic treason. Sin is treason against a perfectly pure Sovereign. It is an act of supreme ingratitude toward the One to whom we owe everything, to the One who has given us life itself.”

Trust in God’s steadfast love and mercy: When we sin, we have to turn to God in humble reliance upon his steadfast love and mercy. This is a characteristic of God found throughout the Bible, and one which the Lord announced to Moses, “The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin” (Exodus 34:6-7). It was this truth that David rested in as he cried out to the Lord for forgiveness, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions” (Psalm 51:1).

Salvation and forgiveness come from God alone: We can turn nowhere else but to God for forgiveness; he alone can cleanse us from our sin. On this side of redemptive history, that salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ. As David wrote, “Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin… Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow… Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior,” (vs. 2, 7, and 14). John assures us that when we turn to God in repentance, he forgives us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Our sin creates a barrier: All sin creates a barrier between us and God. Jesus came to tear down that dividing wall through his perfect life, atoning death, and triumphant resurrection. David refers to this barrier in Psalm 51, “Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me” (vs. 11-12).

We have to be cleansed by God to be restored: Our sin requires cleansing. We have to be made right before we can come into God’s presence. Christ has accomplished that cleansing for us when he bore the weight of all our sins at the cross. We have been made new, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). This is what David asked for in his lament; “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).

God accepts our pleas for forgiveness: “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise” (Psalm 51:16-17). Because of Jesus, God accepts our broken and contrite hearts. Christ now sits at the right hand of God and intercedes for us, pointing to his very own royal robes of righteousness which we now wear.

Psalm 51 is a psalm of repentance and one we can learn from and even use to model our own confessions. When we feel the pain of conviction, a crushing weight that feels like broken bones, we can run to our Father and cry out to him in repentance. And we can do so in complete confidence, knowing that our loving, merciful God forgives us through the cleansing and atoning blood of our Savior.

Source: Learning Repentance from the Psalmist

The Merger of Calvinism with Worldliness

By Dr. Peter Masters – Posted at The Highway:

When I was a youngster and newly saved, it seemed as if the chief goal of all zealous Christians, whether Calvinistic or Arminian, was consecration. Sermons, books and conferences stressed this in the spirit of Romans 12.1-2, where the beseeching apostle calls believers to present their bodies a living sacrifice, and not to be conformed to this world. The heart was challenged and stirred. Christ was to be Lord of one’s life, and self must be surrendered on the altar of service for him.

But now, it appears, there is a new Calvinism, with new Calvinists, which has swept the old objectives aside. A recent book, Young, Restless, Reformed, by Collin Hansen tells the story of how a so-called Calvinistic resurgence has captured the imaginations of thousands of young people in the USA, and this book has been reviewed with great enthusiasm in well-known magazines in the UK, such as Banner of Truth, Evangelical Times, and Reformation Today.

This writer, however, was very deeply saddened to read it, because it describes a seriously distorted Calvinism falling far, far short of an authentic life of obedience to a sovereign God. If this kind of Calvinism prospers, then genuine biblical piety will be under attack as never before.

The author of the book is a young man (around 26 when he wrote it) who grew up in a Christian family and trained in secular journalism. We are indebted to him for the readable and wide-reaching survey he gives of this new phenomenon, but the scene is certainly not a happy one.

The author begins by describing the Passion, conference at Atlanta in 2007, where 21,000 young people revelled in contemporary music, and listened to speakers such as John Piper proclaiming Calvinistic sentiments. And this picture is repeated many times through the book – large conferences being described at which the syncretism of worldly, sensation-stirring, high-decibel, rhythmic music, is mixed with Calvinistic doctrine.

We are told of thunderous music, thousands of raised hands, ‘Christian’ hip-hop and rap lyrics (the examples seeming inept and awkward in construction) uniting the doctrines of grace with the immoral drug-induced musical forms of worldly culture.

Read more…

When God Feels Far Away

It seems to be one of the most common experiences of the Christian life. God feels far away, like he is hiding himself, or at least withholding his reviving presence. We feel destitute, spiritually dry, and desperate for a sense that he is still there, still listening, still caring. But we can’t seem to eke out a prayer because even our prayers feel empty, and they seem to return to us with an echo of defeat.

Where are you, Lord? Can you hear me? Why are you hiding yourself from me? I am your child, so why, Father, does it feel like you are ignoring my cries? How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will I seek you, only to find that the silence remains? I am languishing, O Lord. Do not delay, O my God…

If this sounds like the cry of your heart today, be comforted that you are not experiencing anything new or abnormal. You are in the same boat as your brothers and sisters in the Lord, as your forefathers, as a multitude of other Christians who have gone before you and who now walk beside you. There is some comfort in this reality.


As we remember God’s truth, our feelings will be increasingly transformed by it.
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But it cannot fully cradle our fragile hearts because feeling far from God can be a frightening experience. Knowing that others have “been there” only shaves off a corner of our worry. We need God’s Word to us about this reality, that we might know how to persevere and wait with hope when God feels far away.

Rely on Truth, Not Your Feelings

David’s cry in Psalm 22 sounds a lot like ours:

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?

O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,

and by night, but I find no rest. (vv. 1-2)

David feels forsaken by God, as he searches restlessly for God, for rest in him, but cannot find it. What David says next, however, is a turning point in his lament:

Yet you are holy,

enthroned on the praises of Israel.

In you our fathers trusted;

they trusted, and you delivered them. (vv. 3-4)

Despite feeling rejected, lonely, and bordering on despair, David shifts his focus to two significant truths: God is holy and reigning, and he is faithful to deliver his people.

When we do not feel God’s presence, we rely on his holiness and reign.

God is set apart from all other created things in his faithfulness, goodness, love, wisdom, mercy, and grace. Because God is holy, he simply cannot be unrighteous, impure, or go against his word.

I need to rely on this truth about him when I struggle to experience his presence, to feel his nearness. His reign reminds me that he is present everywhere, always; his holiness tells me that I do not deserve to be near him. Yet, the reigning, holy God has given me the precious, free gift of being brought near through Christ’s blood. He has given me what I do not deserve, the freedom to draw closely to his throne of grace with confidence that I will never be rejected.

So when we feel that God has forsaken us, we rely on what we know to be true: God’s holiness reigns, and he has granted us sure, unending access to his presence by grace through faith, by the blood of his Son.

When we do not feel God’s power, we rely on his faithful deliverance.

David recalls that his forefathers trusted God to deliver them in the past, and God always did. He rescued his people after they cried to him, and he saved them from idols and enemies as they trusted in him.

It is easy for me to fret that maybe, just maybe, this will be the instance when God forgets to be faithful, forgets to come through for me. When I feel this way, I can rely on the sure fact of God’s perfect faithfulness in caring for, helping, and saving his people. I can take God at his very Word, clinging to biblical accounts of his faithfulness. I can also remember how God has been faithful to me in the past.

In the deepest darkness, we look to the cross, where God’s faithful deliverance of weak and needy sinners reached its climax in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We rely on his faithful deliverance when we cannot feel his power at work.

Let Truth Transform Your Feelings

David pours out his lament for several stanzas, remembering God’s holiness and faithfulness, while being completely honest about what he feels: “My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death” (v. 15). Just because we know the truth about God and his gospel doesn’t mean we can’t be honest about how we feel. We can pour out our complaints to him because our Father isn’t going anywhere, and he knows our hearts even better than we do.

Yet, something remarkable happens to David’s feelings as he cries out to God. The truth transforms them. He goes from lamenting God’s absence to proclaiming his presence, from doubt and despair to surety and praise:

I will tell of your name to my brothers;

in the midst of the congregation I will praise you…

he has not hidden his face from [the afflicted],

but has heard, when he cried to him. (vv. 22, 24)

As we remember God’s truth, our feelings will be increasingly transformed by it. God’s holiness and reign and his faithful deliverance far transcend our fleeting emotions and distressing circumstances. So we choose to rehearse these truths when God seems far away, to praise him even when we cannot feel him.

What does God’s Word tell you is true of him? Will you rely on these truths when he feels far away?

By faith, may we persevere with hope by running to God’s Word of truth. May we rely on his reigning holiness and faithful deliverance, despite how we feel. In God’s perfect timing and by his grace, may we let his truth transform our feelings, that we may sing praise along with David, “God has heard when I cried to him.”

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The post When God Feels Far Away appeared first on Unlocking the Bible.

The End of Comfortable Christianity

Let’s face it: believers in the West have had a dream run up until recently. It has been easy street, big time. Christians and non-Christians pretty much lived together conflict-free, and often one was not all that distinguishable from the other.

In fact, for many, what they thought was Christianity was simply cultural Christianity. Everyone more or less believed in God, believed in Jesus, acknowledged the reality of sin, and so on. Most people gave mental assent to the Christian religion, and many went to church each week believing this was the thing to do.

How many of these folks were actual regenerate believers is another matter of course. But the stroll through the park is now coming to an end. As things really do start to heat up, with anti-Christian bigotry and persecution now becoming the norm in the West, it is no longer a free ride for believers.

comfortableThe increasingly anti-Christian culture that we live in does serve one invaluable purpose: it is separating the men from the boys, or biblically speaking, the sheep from the goats. As things get more difficult for believers, the real disciples will rise to the surface while the frauds, fakes and cultural Christians will fall by the wayside.

And that is a good thing. It is time to stop playing games: as the persecution increases, we will see who the real deal Christians are, and who are not. Enough game playing and trivial pursuits. The day of comfortable Christianity is now over. It is time to get serious.

Clearly one of the main litmus tests today of those who mean business with God and those who don’t centres around the issue of homosexuality. This is becoming the key battleground where anti-Christian persecution is escalating rapidly.

The homosexual activists are using the heavy hand of the law to enforce their agenda on everyone – whether they like it or not. More and more Christians, churches and faith groups are being targeted by the militants, and we are seeing who will stand true to Christ and Scripture and who will cave in.

Two very recent articles have just been written on such matters, buttressing what I am saying here, so they both are worth quoting from. The first comes from evangelical commentator and Professor of Biblical Studies Denny Burk. He speaks about the disappearing middle ground in the homosexuality debates, and the coming conflict. He begins:

Middle ground is disappearing on the question of whether LGBT persons should be treated as full equals, without any discrimination in society — and on the related question of whether religious institutions should be allowed to continue discriminating due to their doctrinal beliefs.
It turns out that you are either for full and unequivocal social and legal equality for LGBT people, or you are against it, and your answer will at some point be revealed. This is true both for individuals and for institutions. Neutrality is not an option. Neither is polite half-acceptance. Nor is avoiding the subject. Hide as you might, the issue will come and find you….
Those pushing for LGBT “rights” do not mean to offer any accommodation whatsoever to those of us who dissent from the moral revolution overtaking the West. All dissent must be eliminated, and those who continue to defy the revolution must be marginalized as morally retrograde bigots. There will be no hiding. No compromises. Everyone will eventually be smoked-out. And those who resist will be crushed. That is their aim.

The consequences are very real:

Openly discriminatory religious schools and parachurch organizations will feel the pinch first. Any entity that requires government accreditation or touches government dollars will be in the immediate line of fire. Some organizations will face the choice either to abandon discriminatory policies or risk potential closure. Others will simply face increasing social marginalization.
A vast host of neutralist, avoidist, or de facto discriminatory institutions and individuals will also find that they can no longer finesse the LGBT issue. Space for neutrality or “mild” discrimination will close up as well.

He too writes about the sifting process going on here:

We also know that the conflicts ahead will be a proving ground for the faithful. There are many who call themselves Christian now but who will fall away when the conflicts come. When it becomes costly to follow what Jesus says about sexual immorality, some people will deny Jesus’ word in order to avoid the conflict. And that denial will not lead them to Jesus but away from Jesus. The settled conviction to deny Christ’s word is what the Bible calls apostasy (1 Tim. 4:1). Their going out from us to join the opposition will show what they are: “They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, in order that it might be shown that they all are not of us.” -1 John 2:19
We are preparing ourselves for the heartbreak of these departures. But as they go out, the faithful are going to count the cost of staying in. That is what we are doing right now. And we are praying for the strength and resolve to stand when the heat is on. It is not even on our radar screen to consider turning back.

He concludes:

What America has been is not what it will be either for you or for your children. Are you preparing yourself and your children to be faithful when it all comes down? Are you going to be faithful to Christ when they tell you that following Christ means giving up your livelihood? There are already American Christians who are facing that choice right now.
If you think that you and I are exempt from this kind of persecution, you are wrong. We have no guarantee that we will not face the same difficulty in the near or long term. We might. And the question that we have to ask ourselves is this. Will we be ready when our time comes? If we are unwilling to suffer at the easy end of the persecution spectrum, we won’t be ready when the persecution begins moving toward the more difficult end of the spectrum. We need to be ready, and we need to be preparing our kids to be ready. And the first step to being ready is to remember, “All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” This is the norm, not the exception.

My second author is Msgr. Charles Pope, a dean and pastor in the Archdiocese of Washington, DC. He too speaks to the growing hostility of the surrounding culture and the rise in persecution:

There is a growing consternation among some Catholics that the Church, at least in her leadership, is living in the past. It seems there is no awareness that we are at war and that Catholics need to be summoned to sobriety, increasing separation from the wider culture, courageous witness and increasing martyrdom. It is long past dark in our culture, but in most parishes and dioceses it is business as usual and there is anything but the sober alarm that is really necessary in times like these….
If there ever was a time to wear soft garments, it is not now. It is zero-dark-thirty in our post-Christian culture. And while we may wish to blame any number of factors for the collapse, we cannot exclude ourselves. We who are supposed to be the light of the world, with Christ shining in us, have preferred to hide our light under a basket and lay low. The ruins of our families and culture are testimony to the triumph of error and the suppression of the truth.
More than ever we need to shift toward being distinctive from the culture we have refused to critique and call to reform. More than ever our faith needs to shine brightly and clearly in our churches and communities.
And if a world now accustomed to great darkness calls our light harsh, so be it. If our light does not shine, there is no light at all….
Simply put, it is time for clergy to prepare themselves and God’s people for sacrifice. Seeking to compromise with this culture is now unthinkable. Our only recourse is to seek to lance the boils. And the culture will cry foul. And we who do the lancing will be made increasingly to suffer. But we have to be willing to embrace and endure such suffering in increasing ways in the months and years ahead.
We are at war for our own souls and the souls of people we love. We are at war for the soul of this culture and nation. And like any soldier, we must train to fight well. We must study our faith and be more committed than ever. We must also know our enemy and his tactics, and we must be prepared to suffer — and even to lose our life.
We have to retool and provide every opportunity to get clear about our faith. Sermons and other teachable moments must sound a clear call to personal conversion and to battle for souls and to stop treating lightly the sinful disregard for God’s law in our families and communities.

He concludes:

It is time, past time, to retool. It is time to prepare for persecutions that will get bolder by the month and year. The dark movements that marched in under the banners of tolerance never meant it. And having increasingly gained power, they are seeking to criminalize anyone who resists their vision. No tolerance for us. Religious liberty is eroding, and compulsory compliance is already here. The federal courts increasingly shift to militantly secular and activist judges who legislate from the bench.
When will we as a Church finally say to the bureaucrats who demand we comply with evil laws: “We will not comply. If you fine us we will not pay. If you seek to confiscate our buildings, we will turn maximum publicity against you, but we still will not comply. If you arrest us, off to jail we go! But we will simply not comply with evil laws or cooperate with evil.” Right now, most of us can barely imagine our clergy standing so firm. Quiet compromises and jargon-filled “solutions” will be a grave temptation to a Church ill-prepared for persecution.
Call me alarmist or call me idealist, but I hope we find our spine before it is too late. It is usually a faithful remnant that saves the day in the Biblical narrative. I pray only for the strength to be in that faithful remnant. Will you join me too? Let’s pray and start retooling now. Only our unambiguous faith can save us or anyone we love. Pray for strong and courageous faith.

It was the late Archdiocese of Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George (1937-2015) who said, “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.”

That is the right approach to take. Things are going downhill fast, separating the wheat from the chaff, but God is not finished yet, and we must persevere until the end. And the only way we can do that is to make a full break from comfortable Christianity.

http://www.dennyburk.com/the-disappearing-middleground-and-the-coming-conflict/
http://www.ncregister.com/blog/msgr-pope/comfort-catholicism-has-to-go-it-is-time-to-prepare-for-persecution

[1920 words]

The post The End of Comfortable Christianity appeared first on CultureWatch.

August 25, 2016 Random Aberrations, Apostasies, and Heresies

How to make Christian music. (Yes, this is satire.)
The number of goat-pens pretending to be Christian assemblies continues to grow.
False prophet/teacher/Christian Todd Bentley and those who support him.  This man is of Satan.
I previously reported on “HerChurch” and its totally apostate nature, but this report gives more information.  Just another assembly of the apostate ELCA denomination.
False teacher Mark Driscoll never quits.  He wants you to send him money so he can preach the gospel!  His arrogance never ceases to astound me.
So Christians can fornicate as long as it is “mutually pleasurable and affirming”?!?
This female “pastor” says, “single Christians don’t need to abstain from sex to remain pure since being chaste is about moderation.”  Notice how liberals always redefine words so as to relieve themselves of guilt?  “Chaste” now means moderation in sex. “Marriage” means any two people joined (and maybe more people).  “Tolerance” means you have to agree with them. And so forth.
“McCleneghan believes it’s unfair to ask single Christians who haven’t been called to a life of celibacy to refrain from sexual intimacy when both men and women need sex.”
Hey, GOD!! Your rules are unfair!!! WOW!!!  Oh, and notice that people NEED sex.  And all this time I thought people lived just fine without sexual relations — as people have done for thousands of years.  Satan has to just love how humans reject God’s commands for sexual relations as they use sex for self-centered hedonism.  Be sure to notice which denomination this woman is a goat-herd for — the United Church of Christ; go figure — a totally apostate “church.”  (Oh, and would you believe that she doesn’t think the Bible is God’s infallible Word?)
Could you respond to Glenn Beck like this—do you have better biblical knowledge?
How many non-discerning Christians will buy this book, and how long will it be before we find it in Christian book stores?  The “angels” he converses with are not “angels of light.”  His description of the “other side” is totally unbiblical.
False teacher Steven Furtick now lets his wife do teaching from the stage.  Didn’t Paul say something to Timothy about this sort of thing?  Not only that, but the virtually worthless prattle she was preaching is good evidence that Paul was right!
Don’t the churches in the SBC teach God’s Word?  Apparently not when it comes to homosexuality.  The graphic showing other denominations is really sad because God’s Word is obviously to be ignored it society disagrees with it.
“Judge not”?  Yes, we are indeed to make judgments about all sorts of things.
This is what happens when pastors don’t teach discernment and don’t name names of false teachers.
YOU are not the bride of Christ.  I’ve been saying for years, which has sometimes led to long debates with people who vehemently disagree and who will even call me a heretic!

 

Source:  Random Aberrations, Apostasies, and Heresies

A Moment For Discernment In Books

I haven’t looked at the “Christian Bestsellers” list, as compiled by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, in quite some time. I made the mistake of doing so this morning.

You can find the list HERE. Just be warned, if you practice discernment (as you should, 1 Thessalonians 5:21) and have concern for the right handling of God’s Word, you may need to brace yourself for the onset of righteously indignant angst. It’s that bad.

9781601429285Of the 50 texts making the August 2016 “Top 50” list, nine of them … 18% of them are … wait for it … adult coloring books. They’ve been “Christianized,” of course, with such titles as Whatever Is Lovely, God Bless America, Today Is Going to Be a Great Day! and Scenes From The Psalms.

Yippee! It may be giddy-inducing, but, I mean, really?  This ranks among “Christian” bestsellers? No doubt, it’s a slick opportunity for add-on, impulse sales at the barcode scanner. “Ma’am, would you like to add Crayolas to your Christian book purchase today? We have the new Galilee and Judea color palettes on sale.”

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.  1 Corinthians 13:11

(For a very helpful resource on the potential pitfalls of “Christian” coloring, please see this article from Berean Research … Adult Coloring and Meditation – What Every Christian Should Know.)

Setting aside the contemplative coloring childishness on the list, two perpetual ticks on the hound of discern-less faux faith pop up with three listings each. Sarah Young and Joyce Meyer each have triplicate entries on this month’s bestseller list. Discernment much, people? Obviously not.

Other prolific purveyors of soul-imperiling false teaching are on the list too. Priscilla Shirer, Beth Moore, Rick Warren made it, as did Christine Caine and Anne Graham Lotz. As you’d likely expect, Joel Osteen, a favorite heresy hawker of many of the deceived sort, made the cut.  Also included on the list, with two entries, is Thom Rainer, President of SBC affiliated LifeWay, proving, perhaps, that presiding over a publishing outlet is a nifty way to keep your musings pumped up on lists like this one.

bkScanning this bestsellers list reminds us that authentic believers must inject biblically-commanded discernment into every area of life. And in no area is it more demanded, perhaps, than the reading of so-called “Christian” books.

First, understand the premise of a “bestsellers” list. Frankly, it’s just a grammatical issue that doesn’t require much in the way of biblically-informed discernment. It just requires a little bit of God-given common sense.

The adjective “best,” as in “best-seller,” does not define how spiritually edifying a book is. It is not “best” based on doctrinal soundness or because of its profound adherence to the integrity of Scripture.  It’s not “best” because it will, with absolute certainty, aid in your walk of faith with Christ.

No.  A book is “best” because it is “selling.” That may enrich the author and the publisher and the bookstore, but it in no way is an assurance that it will enrich your soul. In fact, the opposite is more likely. Just look at the current list.  What was that Jesus said … you know … about trying to “lead astray, even the elect, if possible?”  (Matthew 24:24)  Yeah, the Devil’s got a pen … a bunch of them.

Important safety tip:  If a book is on a Christian bestseller list, you can almost certainly regard it as not worthwhile.

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.  Matthew 7:13-14

Maybe the wide path, cautionary approach to discernment in books would be helpful. Our path is very narrow and “those who find it are few.” Doesn’t merely a modicum of Biblically-informed common sense imply that if masses of people are lauding a tome, or if tons of texts are passed beneath barcode scanners, it just might be evidence that it’s a “wide-path” attraction?

Don’t forget that we have an enemy who is aggressively, and incessantly creating a counterfeit of faith for the very purpose of keeping masses on that wide road.   There’s little doubt – especially looking at these current “Christian” bestsellers – that he’s an avid publisher, an eternally damning author under countless pseudonyms.  He’s very good at making error look like truth. But you can’t take falsehood, drag it through Scripture, label it with spiritual-ese, apply to it the “Christian” moniker, and expect it to come out as nothing less than falsehood.

You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.  John 8:32

The safest, and most obedient, maneuver – always – to protect yourself from error is to know the truth.  Abide in the Word. (John 8:31)  It’s what disciples do.  That instruction of Christ’s alone will make sure that you don’t abide in other, much riskier, spiritually toxic words, even if they are “bestsellers.”

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[Contributed by Bud Ahlheim]

Source: A Moment For Discernment In Books

A Warning to America from a Former Muslim: They Are Coming to Kill You! (Video)

Absolute Truth from the Word of God

I began weeping as I watched this woman begging Christians in America to repent and to fast and pray. She is a born again believer – turned from Islam to Jesus. She is telling Americans that we are at war and we don’t even know it.  She is telling Americans that there are at least 5000 ISIS members in the U.S. right now!

This is TRULY a call to prayer and fasting. This is a call to repentance!

Message from Her: IŞIK ABLA

NO MORE BEING A PEOPLE PLEASER! RATHER GOD PLEASER!
I made my choice. What about you?
I came to a point that I had to make a decision. Whether I have to please Christ or people. Whether I had to open my mouth to expose evil or stay quiet and watch the devil at work. There is a price tag to please God. There is also a…

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