Wednesday, June 06, 2007

We're Moving

Its been nice here at but its time for a makeover and Wordpress enables us to have more flexibility in the format of the website so without further adeu: please update your boomarks.

The New Website is located at:
When To Leave a Church: A Biblical Approach

Quoting Robert Reymond . . .

If a Christian's church is faithfully proclaiming the Word of God, administers [the Lord's Supper and Baptism] according to the institution of Christ, and faithfully exercises discipline, his church is a true church of God, and a repudiation of it is wicked and a denial of God and of Christ, even though it may have some error in it. But the Bible recognizes that there are some circumstances that may arise in a church which will compel the Christian to separate himself from his church. The Greek New Testament employs two nouns in the main to describe dreadfully sinful situations in the church: apostasy (gr: apostasia) and heresy (gr: hairesis) :

2 Thessalonians 2:3: "Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion [gr: apostasia] occurs."

1 Timothy 4:1: "The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon [gr: apostesontai] the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons."

2 Peter 2:1: "[False teachers] will secretly introduce destructive heresies [gr: haireseis]." (see also 1 Cor. 11:19; Gal. 5:20; and Titus 3:10)

In general usage "apostasy" has come to refer to total renunciation of the Christian faith, with "heresy" being viewed more atomistically as any subversive doctrine professing to be Christian (of course, "systemic" heresy is hardly distinguishable from apostasy).

The New Testament lays down the following principles to protect the church in such a situation and to maintain its doctrinal purity:

Elders are charged to guard the church by guarding the truth (Acts 20:28-30; Tit. 1:9; see 1 John 4:2-3). The New Testament is realistic about the problems the church will have with false teachers. The passages cited presuppose that the Christian faith has a definite content, and that there are certain pivotal truths which are absolutely necessary to it.

Apostates and heretics ought to leave the church (1 John 2:18-19). It is not schismatic, indeed, it is quite appropriate, for antichrists to separate themselves from the Christian church. But more often than not, they set themselves up in the church. What is to be done with them then?

Unrepentant heretics who do not leave the church should be disciplined (Rom. 16:17; Tit. 3:10; 2 Pet. 2:1-3; 2 John 10-11; Rev. 2:2, 14-15, 20). As there were false prophets in Israel, so there are and will be false teachers in the church. As the former were subject to discipline, so the latter should be as well, mutatis mutandis, that is, by excommunication rather than execution.

Separation from one's local church or denomination is appropriate if it will not discipline heretics (2 Cor. 6:14-18). If a church rejects discipline for theological errors that subvert the foundation of the gospel and becomes theologically pluralistic in practice (even though it may retain an orthodox confession by which it promises to be guided), that church has become "heretical" in that it no longer stands under the authority of God, and the orthodox are compelled to separate from it to bear witness to the marks of the church.

Error in the church should always be of concern to the Christian, and he should charitably labor to rid the church of error. But a Christian should not lightly repudiate his church even when there is perceived error in it. Differences of opinion over [light causes] should not be made the basis for division in a local congregation or denomination. Such division for light causes is "schismatic," schism being understood here as formal and unjustified separation from the church. Paul speaks against such unjustified separation in 1 Corinthians 1:10: "I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions [gr: schismata] among you" (see also 1 Cor. 11:18; 12:25).

A New Systematic Theology Of The Christian Faith

Monday, June 04, 2007

So how can he be God ?

The church and more importantly the Bible recognizes the deity of the Son. Most cults strip him of this making the Son only a man, an angel or at best a secondary divine being created by the Father. They ignore the fact that the son is called God just as the Father is. If one says the Son or Spirit are not called God then they would have to be consistent and say the Father is not either.The reason the Father is explicitly called God by Jesus is because he is honoring another instead of himself. Each person in the godhead does this, yet we find their is a hierachial structure (a successive order not in time but of position).

Jesus is called the Son over 200 times throughout the N.T. The Father is referred to as distinct from the Son over 200 times. Over 50 times Jesus the Son and the Father are mentioned in the same verse. Yet we find Paul’s greeting as grace and peace from both God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus identifies himself as the Son of God all throughout the Bible. He is always put on equal status with the Father being able to bestow grace to the believer. The only time he is not equal is by position, never in nature.

John 20:31 ...That Jesus is the Christ the Son of God." Jn.16:3 "And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor me." Here he is distinguishing himself as another from the Father. Jesus separates himself from the Father in person but not in nature.

Jn.10:30: " I and my father are one" this is not a numerical one, Jesus is not saying he is the father. they are not one person but in nature they are a united one. It actually reads we are one in Greek the first person plural esmen . Examining his claim further "I and my Father are one." The Jews pick up stones because they understood this as blasphemy in vs. 36 Jesus interprets what he meant by saying because I said, "I am the Son of God." There is a very good reason for this because…. Contrary to those who claim the Son of God means less than God it actually affirmed his deity.

In Jn.20:17 Jesus said "I am ascending to my Father and your Father to my God and your God." Anti-Trinitarians claim since Jesus had a God over him he could not also be God. What we are not saying is that he is the Father or the Spirit. Coming in the servant role and as a man he was submissive to the Father as a Son. Notice he makes a distinction from "my Father and your Father" not saying our Father. The same is applied to " my God and your God." As a man he acknowledged the Father as "my God" .We are unable to say this in the same manner as he did. God is his Father from eternity past, he being the Son of eternal generation. Thomas bowed before Jesus saying, he is his God and his Lord, Jesus could not say the Father was his Lord in the way man does.

Jn.11:41-43 Jesus lifts his eyes toward heaven and prays, " I thank you that you heard me, and I know that you always hear me." We see consistently he is praying toward heaven just like all the saints in the O.T.. So why pray if your God. Because he is dependent on God in his lowered state and he is giving us the perfect example of our having a relationship with the Father. The Son was instructed by the Father as his God, since he decided not to use his position independently. Jesus never referred to his Father as "our Father" in prayer together with others. Father was a term for the Jews who were in covenant with God . Jesus who being God in nature was divine and equal in all respects to God could not call God his Father as we do, being adopted children. God was his Father in a different sense than ours, in that they were united together from eternity. So he makes a distinction of "my" and "our". " "When Christ prayed to the Father, you have the Son on earth the Father in heaven. this is not separation but divine disposition. now we know that God is within the depth's and exists everywhere, but in might and power, the Son being, indivisible from the Father is everywhere with him, yet in the economy, the Father willed that the Son should be found on the Earth, himself ( the Father ) in heaven." (Tetullian.) What he is explaining is that the omni-presence of God is everywhere yet the location of his persons are in different areas. ( Jn.11:41-42,12:28, 17:1-26)

Mt. 26:39-42 In Gethsamane he prays three times to the Father in doing his will. Why does he ask for the Father to let this cup pass if he is God, Isn’t this like asking himself? Jesus' ( 2nd person of God ) was God communing with God the Father (1st person of God ). Jesus is struggling over the soon and coming separation he will experience with the Father. He is asking if there be another way so he will not experience this. Otherwise he has his own human will that is not submitted to God and he is sinning. The concept the scriptures portray of the crucifixion is not that God died but that he was separated spiritually and died in the flesh . In Gethsamane it was the cup that Jesus asked to be removed. If he was praying that he would not have to experience physical death he would be rejecting the very reason he came. His obedience is shown as in Phil.2 says even to the death on the cross. He would not be praying for the very purpose of his coming to be removed.

This is why the cults deny the deity of Christ because they recognize that these are two different persons. It is because of their preconceived ideas and training that God is strictly singular. In their attempt to uphold Monotheism they cannot receive the teaching of his nature being triune, they then lose the Son of God as a distinct person.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

This Contraption Called Relevance
May 29th, 2007

Our contemporary religious contraptions are as much a ramshackle as a 19th century hair styling machine. They are every bit as dangerous, producing results every bit as ugly, and are destined for the scrap yard as time ushers in obsolescence. Such is the destiny of invention. It is both a milestone and a tombstone of time. The book, “Prophetic Untimeliness ” by Os Guinness, addresses one of our religious contraptions, called “relevance”, and persuasively argues the point that “relevance” is a cultural cage of the present. It divorces us from the past where the faith was once for all delivered (to be passed from generation to generation), and it obfuscates the path to our future.

A mere 111 pages, the book can be read in a Saturday afternoon. But I have read it over and over for two weeks now, and passages of Scripture continue to flood to my mind. Passages, for example, where Jesus says, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away” (Luke 21:33), and where He warns us that various men will say, “‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or ‘There He is’” while instructing, “Do not believe him” (Matt. 24:23.) Other passages like, “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Cor. 2:9) and “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9.)

Guinness makes this point in his introduction: “After two hundred years of earnest dedication to reinventing the faith and the church and to being more relevant in the world, we are confronted by an embarrassing fact: Never have Christians pursued relevance more strenuously; never have Christians been more irrelevant.”

He continues on, “Relevance is not the problem…the good news of Jesus Christ is utterly relevant or it is not the good news it claims to be.”

Indeed, if that is true (I believe it is), then why for heavens sake do we worry ourselves to death about relevance? The reason must be an ignorance (and resultant distrust) of the inspired Word of God, and the Gospel it contains. Guinness establishes that we are in a losing race against time where what is relevant is always becoming irrelevant. The only mitigating agent to anything so bounded by the clock, can only be that which is not bounded by the clock (hence, the recollection of Luke 21:23.)

Man tries to compensate for this losing race against time through a tactic called “relevance”. That tactic, according to Guinness, is idolatrous.

Consider the blogged brouhaha about movies a couple of weeks ago. I believe that incorporating movies into the illustrative teaching of the church is wrong, essentially because God did not ordain the pagan mouth to declare the Truth of the gospel. The distinction about the source of Truth is paramount to discernment: Jesus said, “If anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or ‘There He is”, we must cognitively respond, “No, He is not.” To be more plainspoken, the claim that Hollywood’s Superman points to “the real Superman, Jesus Christ”, is the idolatry of relevance that Oz Guinness writes about. Christ’s repetitive warnings in Matthew 24 inform the Christian, “No, Christ is not found there”. The model of Christ is not in Superman anymore than he who poses as an angel of light is a model of the Son of God, compelling as it may be (Matt. 24:24.) On that basis, at least, the preacher is not at liberty to declare pagan works as a preachable source from which we can derive vital Truth.

Our problem is that we have become “put-a-coin-in-the-slot-and-pull-the-lever Christians”. We are not really sowing, but we are teaching that God is reaping: and that is a violently dangerous position to take according to Matthew 25:26-30. Relevance is the first cousin to impatience, and impatience is the reason for developing appealing methodologies. It is a whole lot more fun to “worship” under the bright lights of a production, or to “develop a relationship” at Starbucks, than it is to simply sit in our neighbor’s kitchen and talk to them about the peril of our sin.

For example, do you remember Campus Crusade’s “Here’s Life America” campaign in 1976? Based on the marketing methods of Coca Cola (“Coke Adds Life”), Campus Crusade devised a “relevant” message designed to appeal to culture’s quest for a fulfilling life. That campaign, if you read about it today, was an utter failure when compared to the number of people reached and the money spent to do it. At the time, the campaign allegedly amassed some 300,000 Christians to promote “I Found It!” buttons, bumper stickers, and billboards. It was reported by TIME Magazine that over 60 million homes were exposed to the campaign. I remember the TV ads here in Dayton where local church members sat on stools and told the viewers they had found “it” and gave the toll-free “I Found It!” phone number where the “Four Spiritual Laws” would be offered to the caller. But the public became rapidly aware of the slick marketing method to shove religion down their throats, and the campaign’s effectiveness declined as commercial and billboard contracts expired. The whole process proved that Romans 3:11, written around 56 A.D., was as relevant in 1976 as was the original utterance of that verse in Psalm 53:1-3 some nine hundred years before Christ. In other words, there is no substitute for the effectiveness of an individual Christian witnessing in earnest to an unbeliever, giving them the full gospel from God’s Word every day, wherever we are. The flash-in-the-pan method is not nearly effective as the daily, consistent witness of a Christian whose mouth is bold to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Consider: if only 50% of those 300,000 people were to witness personally to only one person a day, only 270 work-days per year since 1976, they would have witnessed to over 1-1/4 billion people by now. And if only one person per witness became a Christian ten years later, and that new Christian only witnessed to one person per month for the next 21 years, there would be another 38 million people truly reached through personal evangelism by now. Such a simple method, which is repeatedly demonstrated in the Bible, depends on a genuine concern for souls. It is, after all, the second commandment: loving your neighbor as yourself.

But Matthew 7:21-23 tells about people who are consumed with doing something utterly contrary to God’s will. Obviously, their goals are flat wrong, and they were deceived by their own methods. In the Laodicean sense, they appear to be good for nothing (Rev. 9:16) and care only for themselves (v. 17.)

As Matthew 7:21-23 and Revelation 3:14-22 make clear, methodologists are simply not performing the ultimate commission of preaching the gospel to lost souls, despite their lip service to the contrary. We know of a man who was not really concerned about souls, and brazenly rejected God’s plain instruction to reach them. That man was initially good for nothing, bringing about havoc in his dereliction, and was eventually spit out of the mouth of a fish. Can the symbolism with Laodicea be any more clear? As a result of his disobedience to his commission, Jonah was swallowed by a great fish. I find it compelling that the fish spit Jonah out after his prayer of repentance. I do not believe that Jesus enjoys coercing His blood-purchased servants into action, anymore than God was pleased to coerce Jonah; nor do I believe that Jesus is pleased with my pseudo-repentant whining every time I ask Him to withhold discipline for my willful disobedience. We are all legends in our own minds, inventing evangelistic contraptions in the name of Christ. But neither the Father, nor the Son, nor the Holy Spirit are amused by our contrivances or our disingenuous lip-service. It is God who has bought us; it is God whom we serve! Has that even sunk into our heads, yet, that we might glorify Him in our bodies?

Given today’s “relevant church”, with its budgets, methods, and schemes, I cannot help but believe that we are setting ourselves up for a Jonah-like coercion toward repentance, and a cataclysmic vomiting. God wants this world properly evangelized before His great day of wrath, just as he wanted Nineveh reached.

So let’s just boil this down. We’ve got our relevant methods: Christian radio, Christian TV, Christian phone books, Christian coffee houses, Christian Schools, Christian News, and Christian Talk Shows. Many churches now rival professionally-staged productions, while others have adopted as much of the culturally-conforming presentation as their riches can afford. Even to all of that plausibly-permissible environment and technology, we add the dung of Hollywood to our preaching and call it “being relevant”; we add the psychology of Carl Jung to the evaluation of a man’s fitness for church-planting; and we evaluate the effectiveness of church growth based on statistical models. Seeing as how we’ve defined our own criteria for miracles and provision, one wonders what the Holy Spirit is doing?

Meanwhile, a large percentage of Christians saturated in the above methods are dedicating their personal time to the electronic coliseum called “reality entertainment”. We know the stats of NASCAR drivers, the rules of our favorite sports, the debauchery of the latest entertainer, the grossest antic of the current Survivor, who the next American Idol is, but we can’t explain the gospel on demand. We will erupt passionately over the War in Iraq, our political views, or the unfair nature of jobs being sent overseas — but we won’t dare to confront anyone on the state of their soul unless we spend the next year ostensibly “developing a relationship” or at least “earning the right” to speak with them.

Do we really believe that the Creator of mankind Himself is capable of communicating through the mouths of His people, or not? Evidently we do not. God communicated to Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Elijah, and others without any help from man’s novel methods, thank you very much. And here we in these latter times have the most miraculous communication from God ever dropped into the lap of man called the Bible. Indeed, we have the whole Bible. One wonders why we cannot be content with nothing but the Bible. It is a fair question, which goes straight to the heart of whether we really want to be genuinely relevant.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Too Much Originality

O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called. (1 Timothy 6:20)

Some preachers have such a phobia for repetition and such an unnatural fear of the familiar that they are forever straining after the odd and the startling. The church page of the newspaper almost any Saturday will be sure to announce at least one or two sermon topics so far astray as to be positively grotesque; only by the most daring flight of uncontrolled imagination can any relation be established between the topic and the religion of Christ. We dare not impugn the honesty or the sincerity of the men who thus flap their short wings so rapidly in an effort to take off into the wild blue yonder, but we do deplore their attitudes. No one should try to be more original than an apostle. GTMan144.

"Give me a word from heaven, Father, that will fly without my weak efforts at cute originality! Amen."

(A.W. Tozer, Tozer on Christian Leadership, May 29)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

What’s Inside the Trojan Horse?
By John MacArthur

By God’s grace, I have been the pastor of the same church now for nearly forty years. From that vantage point, I have witnessed the birth and growth of menacing trends within the church, several of which have converged under what I would call evangelical pragmatism — an approach to ministry that is endemic in contemporary Christianity.

What is pragmatism? Basically it is a philosophy that says that results determine meaning, truth, and value — what will work becomes a more important question than what is true. As Christians, we are called to trust what the Lord says, preach that message to others, and leave the results to Him. But many have set that aside. Seeking relevancy and success, they have welcomed the pragmatic approach and have received the proverbial Trojan horse.

Let me take a few minutes to explain a little of the history leading up to the current entrenchment of the pragmatic approach in the evangelical church and to show you why it isn’t as innocent as it looks.

Recent History

The 1970s, for the most part, were years of spiritual revival in America. The spread of the gospel through the campuses of many colleges and universities marked a fresh, energetic movement of the Holy Spirit to draw people to salvation in Christ. Mass baptisms were conducted in rivers, lakes, and the ocean, several new versions of the English Bible were released, and Christian publishing and broadcasting experienced remarkable growth.

Sadly, the fervent evangelical revival slowed and was overshadowed by the greed and debauchery of the eighties and nineties. The surrounding culture rejected biblical standards of morality, and the church, rather than assert its distinctiveness and call the world to repentance, softened its stance on holiness. The failure to maintain a distinctively biblical identity was profound — it led to general spiritual apathy and a marked decline in church attendance.

Church leaders reacted to the world’s indifference, not by a return to strong biblical preaching that emphasized sin and repentance, but by a pragmatic approach to “doing” church — an approach driven more by marketing, methodology, and perceived results than by biblical doctrine. The new model of ministry revolved around making sinners feel comfortable and at ease in the church, then selling them on the benefits of becoming a Christian. Earlier silence has given way to cultural appeasement and conformity.

Even the church’s ministry to its own has changed. Entertainment has hijacked many pulpits across the country; contemporary approaches cater to the ever-changing whims of professing believers; and many local churches have become little more than social clubs and community centers where the focus is on the individual’s felt needs. Even on Christian radio, phone-in talk shows, music, and live psychotherapy are starting to replace Bible teaching as the staple. “Whatever works,” the mantra of pragmatism, has become the new banner of evangelicalism.

The Down-Grade Controversy

You may be surprised to learn that what we are now seeing is not new. England’s most famous preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, dealt with a similar situation more than 100 years ago. Among churches that were once solid, Spurgeon and other faithful pastors noticed a conciliatory attitude toward and overt cooperation with the modernist movement. And what motivated the compromise? They sought to find acceptance by adopting the “sophisticated” trends of the culture. Does that sound familiar to you?

One article, published anonymously in Spurgeon’s monthly magazine The Sword and the Trowel, noted that every revival of true evangelical faith had been followed within a generation or two by a drift away from sound doctrine, ultimately leading to wholesale apostasy. The author likened this drifting from truth to a downhill slope, and thus labeled it “the down grade.” The inroads of modernism into the church killed ninety percent of the mainline denominations within a generation of Spurgeon’s death. Spurgeon himself, once the celebrated and adored herald of the Baptist Union, was marginalized by the society and he eventually withdrew his membership.

The Effects of Pragmatism

Many of today’s church leaders have bought into the subtlety of pragmatism without recognizing the dangers it poses. Instead of attacking orthodoxy head on, evangelical pragmatism gives lip service to the truth while quietly undermining the foundations of doctrine. Instead of exalting God, it effectively denigrates the things that are precious to Him.

First, there is in vogue today a trend to make the basis of faith something other than God’s Word. Experience, emotion, fashion, and popular opinion are often more authoritative than the Bible in determining what many Christians believe. From private, individual revelation to the blending of secular psychology with biblical “principles,” Christians are listening to the voice of the serpent that once told Eve, “God’s Word doesn’t have all the answers.” Christian counseling reflects that drift, frequently offering no more than experimental and unscriptural self-help therapy instead of solid answers from the Bible.

Christian missionary work is often riddled with pragmatism and compromise, because too many in missions have evidently concluded that what gets results is more important than what God says. That’s true among local churches as well. It has become fashionable to forgo the proclamation and teaching of God’s Word in worship services. Instead, churches serve up a paltry diet of drama, music, and other forms of entertainment.

Second, evangelical pragmatism tends to move the focus of faith away from God’s Son. You’ve seen that repeatedly if you watch much religious television. The health-wealth-and-prosperity gospel advocated by so many televangelists is the ultimate example of this kind of fantasy faith. This false gospel appeals unabashedly to the flesh, corrupting all the promises of Scripture and encouraging greed. It makes material blessing, not Jesus Christ, the object of the Christian’s desires.

Easy-believism handles the message differently, but the effect is the same. It is the promise of forgiveness minus the gospel’s hard demands, the perfect message for pragmatists. It has done much to popularize “believing” but little to provoke sincere faith.

Christ is no longer the focus of the message. While His name is mentioned from time to time, the real focus is inward, not upward. People are urged to look within; to try to understand themselves; to come to grips with their problems, their hurts, their disappointments; to have their needs met, their desires granted, their wants fulfilled. Nearly all the popular versions of the message encourage and legitimize a self-centered perspective.

Third, today’s Christianity is infected with a tendency to view the result of faith as something less than God’s standard of holy living. By downplaying the importance of holy living–both by precept and by example–the biblical doctrine of conversion is undermined. Think about it: What more could Satan do to try to destroy the church than undermining God’s Word, shifting the focus off Christ, and minimizing holy living?

All those things are happening slowly, steadily within the church right now. Tragically, most Christians seem oblivious to the problems, satisfied with a Christianity that is fashionable and highly visible. But the true church must not ignore those threats. If we fight to maintain doctrinal purity with an emphasis on biblical preaching and biblical ministry, we can conquer external attacks. But if error is allowed into the church, many more churches will slide down the grade to suffer the same fate as the denominations that listened to, yet ignored, Spurgeon’s impassioned appeal.

Make it your habitual prayer request that the Lord would elevate the authority of His Word, the glory of His Son, and the purity of His people in the evangelical church. May the Lord revive us and keep us far from the slippery slope of pragmatism.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Old Cross And The New
By A.W. Tozer

ALL UNANNOUNCED AND MOSTLY UNDETECTED there has come in modern times a new cross into popular evangelical circles. It is like the old cross, but different: the likenesses are superficial; the differences, fundamental.

From this new cross has sprung a new philosophy of the Christian life, and from that new philosophy has come a new evangelical technique-a new type of meeting and a new kind of preaching. This new evangelism employs the same language as the old, but its content is not the same and its emphasis not as before.

The old cross would have no truck with the world. For Adam's proud flesh it meant the end of the journey. It carried into effect the sentence imposed by the law of Sinai. The new cross is not opposed to the human race; rather, it is a friendly pal and, if understood aright, it is the source of oceans of good clean fun and innocent enjoyment. It lets Adam live without interference. His life motivation is unchanged; he still lives for his own pleasure, only now he takes delight in singing choruses and watching religious movies instead of singing bawdy songs and drinking hard liquor. The accent is still on enjoyment, though the fun is now on a higher plane morally if not intellectually.

The new cross encourages a new and entirely different evangelistic approach. The evangelist does not demand abnegation of the old life before a new life can be received. He preaches not contrasts but similarities. He seeks to key into public interest by showing that Christianity makes no unpleasant demands; rather, it offers the same thing the world does, only on a higher level. Whatever the sin-mad world happens to be clamoring after at the moment is cleverly shown to be the very thing the gospel offers, only the religious product is better.

The new cross does not slay the sinner, it redirects him. It gears him into a cleaner and jollier way of living and saves his self-respect. To the self-assertive it says, "Come and assert yourself for Christ." To the egotist it says, "Come and do your boasting in the Lord." To the thrill seeker it says, "Come and enjoy the thrill of Christian fellowship." The Christian message is slanted in the direction of the current vogue in order to make it acceptable to the public.

The philosophy back of this kind of thing may be sincere but its sincerity does not save it from being false. It is false because it is blind. It misses completely the whole meaning of the cross.

The old cross is a symbol of death. It stands for the abrupt, violent end of a human being. The man in Roman times who took up his cross and started down the road had already said good-by to his friends. He was not coming back. He was going out to have it ended. The cross made no compromise, modified nothing, spared nothing; it slew all of the man, completely and for good. It did not try to keep on good terms with its victim. It struck cruel and hard, and when it had finished its work, the man was no more.

The race of Adam is under death sentence. There is no commutation and no escape. God cannot approve any of the fruits of sin, however innocent they may appear or beautiful to the eyes of men. God salvages the individual by liquidating him and then raising him again to newness of life.

That evangelism which draws friendly parallels between the ways of God and the ways of men is false to the Bible and cruel to the souls of its hearers. The faith of Christ does not parallel the world, it intersects it. In coming to Christ we do not bring our old life up onto a higher plane; we leave it at the cross. The corn of wheat must fall into the ground and die.

We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum.

God offers life, but not an improved old life. The life He offers is life out of death. It stands always on the far side of the cross. Whoever would possess it must pass under the rod. He must repudiate himself and concur in God's just sentence against him.

What does this mean to the individual, the condemned man who would find life in Christ Jesus? How can this theology be translated into life? Simply, he must repent and believe. He must forsake his sins and then go on to forsake himself. Let him cover nothing, defend nothing, excuse nothing. Let him not seek to make terms with God, but let him bow his head before the stroke of God's stern displeasure and acknowledge himself worthy to die.

Having done this let him gaze with simple trust upon the risen Saviour, and from Him will come life and rebirth and cleansing and power. The cross that ended the earthly life of Jesus now puts an end to the sinner; and the power that raised Christ from the dead now raises him to a new life along with Christ.

To any who may object to this or count it merely a narrow and private view of truth, let me say God has set His hallmark of approval upon this message from Paul's day to the present. Whether stated in these exact words or not, this has been the content of all preaching that has brought life and power to the world through the centuries. The mystics, the reformers, the revivalists have put their emphasis here, and signs and wonders and mighty operations of the Holy Ghost gave witness to God's approval.

Dare we, the heirs of such a legacy of power, tamper with the truth? Dare we with our stubby pencils erase the lines of the blueprint or alter the pattern shown us in the Mount? May God forbid. Let us preach the old cross and we will know the old power.

(A. W. Tozer, Man, the Dwelling Place of God, 1966)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

"And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as Doctrine, the Commandments of Men"

"Hostility toward unbending Biblical Christianity is rising fast, exposing today’s double-minded guides who bend the truth to please people and broaden their influence. Ponder these statements by three trusted models of Christian leadership. Are they teaching God’s Truth — or promoting a more popular postmodern distortion?"

The above statement is very Prophetic, even Churches which believe they are not part of this growing trend are part of it by allowing through "the back door" teaching that goes beyond the Truth of God's word and add to it a private interpretation which plays into the hands of Satan. Relativism has permeated the minds of the vast majority of churches and their leadership in Western Christianity, a tough thing to say but unfortunately true. When you allow a Church Leadership to go beyond what the Bible says you are in effect saying that their words carry the same weight as the words of the Prophets of the Old Testament, of Jesus and the Apostles words in the New Testament.

As Peter said in 2 Peter 1:19-21:

"And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit."

The Prophets of the Old Testament did not speak of their own words but were given the words by the Holy Spirit to speak, and therefore we include their words as part of the infallible word of God, or the Canon of Scripture (The Bible). So any Prophetic word given today or any teaching given today must line up with their words and the words of Christ and the Apostles in the New Testament and cannot add to them, take away from them or depart from their explicit meaning. It was fitting that Jesus spoke to John the Revelator in Revelations 22:18-19 the following words:

"For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book."

Jesus also spoke the following words in Matthew 11:13-14: "For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive [it], this is Elias, which was for to come."

In other words the Law and the Prophets in the Old Testament and John the Baptist pointed to Jesus. All Prophecy has to point towards Jesus, no prophecy or teaching of today that is valid can point away from Jesus or de-emphasize him in any way.

This is the slippery slope where Tradition came in to the Catholic Church, was raised up to have the same binding affect as Scripture on those who are of the Catholic Faith, and hence where the Catholic Church departed from the truth. It is the same slippery slope that the Ancient Israelites went down, and by the time of Jesus day they had departed from the truth. "And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as Doctrine, the Commandments of Men" Matthew 15:9

Once you decided to cast yourself adrift and add to, take away or attempt to re-interpret Scripture especially from sources that are known have walked away from truth and become blind to it, you have lost all ability to claim to know truth and to stand in truth. And further the discernment to know truth which comes from Holy Spirit will depart from you. You will then become ready prey for the false spirit of this age, which is unity over truth.

Watch the leadership of your church, the Teachers, the Pastors, are they going too far into intellectualism and attempting to stretch the word beyond what it says in the Bible? Are they leaning too far into fallen interpretations and commentaries? Such as Jewish Rabbinical teachings, or de-emphasizing the Trinity and Jesus as a co-equal PERSON in the Trinity, to re-interpret the word which diminishes who Jesus is? Do they give accomodation to religious traditions that have departed from truth or do they give positive words or refuse to admonish those who are well known and speak words that do not line up with the word of God?

If they are doing this they are playing into the hands of Satan and the Spirit of the Age, which is to latch on to AND emphasize ANY teaching that diminishes who Jesus is for the sake of unity, again, emphasizing UNITY over stressing who Jesus is. We are quickly losing the truth that the Gospel is meant to cause offense to many. It was never meant to unify ALL people. The very concept of exclusive truth pre-ordains that it will cause offense to many. Oh brothers and sisters the days are dark and the deceit is growing, pray that God will give you insight and whatever it takes to keep you in truth.

I strongly recommend the article lnked below.

God Bless and Stand Fast in the Faith which was first delivered unto you!

John Baker

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