Calvinism/Arminianism, Celebrity Pastors, Cessationism/Continuationism, Church, Complementarianism, Homosexuality, Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday ~ Keep On Keeping Up: 5 Issues Christians Need Guidance About from Our Pastors ~ Part 1

Originally published January 16, 2014

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Read Part 2 of this article, “Keep On Keeping Up: 6 More Issues Christians Need Guidance About From Our Pastors” here.

"Ignorance? Of Benny Hinn? A man in Brown’s position claiming ignorance of Benny Hinn would be tantamount to an Olympic swimmer claiming ignorance of Michael Phelps or for a high level employee of Microsoft claiming ignorance of Bill Gates."
“Ignorance? Of Benny Hinn? A man in Brown’s position claiming ignorance of Benny Hinn would be tantamount to an Olympic swimmer claiming ignorance of Michael Phelps or for a high level employee of Microsoft claiming ignorance of Bill Gates.”

Last week, I read a great article by Justin Peters entitled “Ignorance Is Not An Option.” In the article, Dr. Peters addresses a recent incident in which “charismatic theologian, author, and radio host Dr. Michael Brown” claimed not to know about the reputation and heresy of Benny Hinn, one of the most notorious false teachers in the Word of Faith movement. I know about him. You probably know about him. How could someone in Dr. Brown’s position not know at least the basics about Benny Hinn and why no Christian should endorse him?

It got me thinking- “ignorance is not an option” applies to far more than this one, isolated incident. We church members desperately need our pastors to keep up with at least the basics of current trends and thought in evangelicalism, and in theology and doctrine.

Why? There is a tsunami of materials, ideas, and personalities out there, and church members- even though we should seek to keep abreast, ourselves -need help sorting through it all. What’s biblical? What’s not? Also, pastors need to be informed about who and what they endorse (even tacitly), lest they encourage their church members to follow a person or doctrine that is not in line with God’s word.

So, what, specifically, are some of those current trends that we folks in the pew need our pastors to keep up with? Here are a few, along with some great resources to spare pastors some leg work:

Celebrity Pastors and Christian Authors: Do you know who Joyce Meyer, Matt Chandler, Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, John Piper, John MacArthur, Andy Stanley, Steven Furtick, Beth Moore, Mark Driscoll, Tony Campolo, David Platt, and Rachel Held Evans are (just to name a few)?

Do you know why your people should or shouldn’t be listening to/reading them? What about any controversies surrounding them? Do you have a general awareness of whether they have a track record of, and are currently teaching, sound doctrine or false doctrine?

Church members may not know the answers to these questions, but they’re walking into Christian bookstores and buying their books, re-tweeting them, and listening to their podcasts. If a church member comes and asks you about one of these pastors/authors, what will your recommendation be? We church members need our pastors not to go by the pastor/author’s popularity, whether what they write or say sounds pleasing to the ear, how many books they’ve sold, that their stuff is sold at a store you think is trustworthy, or how big their church is. Whether we know it or not, we need your deciding factor to be: Does what they teach consistently match up with God’s word (in context)?

*Resources:
Fighting for the Faith: Listen regularly, or make good use of the search box. Chris Rosebrough has analyzed the teaching of nearly all of the people in the list above as well as many others.

Apprising Ministries: While I sometimes feel Ken Silva’s tone is too sharp, his posts are saturated with links to articles and videos of questionable teachers (plus tons of other resources) that you can check out for yourself.

Complementarianism vs. Egalitarianism: In a nutshell, complementarianism is the view that God’s roles for men and women in marriage and in the leadership of the church are different, yet equally important. Wives are to submit to their husbands, and husbands are to lovingly lead their wives and children. The roles of pastor and elder are reserved to men, and women are not to teach the Bible to men or hold authority over men in the church.

Egalitarianism basically says that there are no gender restrictions on any positions in the church, including that of pastor, and that husbands and wives are to be “mutually submissive” to one another, removing any distinctive definition of headship.

The church, and women, especially, have been heavily influenced by culture on this issue, but what does God’s word say about it?

Resources:
Complementarianism vs. Egalitarianism- Which View Is Biblicaly Correct? by GotQuestions.org
The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

Cessationism vs. Continuationism: Did the “miracle” or “sign” gifts such as speaking in tongues/other languages, healing, visions, direct revelation from God, raising the dead, etc., come to an end with the closing of the canon or death of of the last apostle, or do these gifts continue in the same way today?

Resources: 
Strange Fire Conference audio from John MacArthur

Continuationism and Cessationism: An Interview With Dr. Wayne Grudem- Part 1 and Part 2 by Tim Challies

Calvinism vs. Arminianism:  I don’t think I could boil down the tenets of Calvinism or Arminianism to a brief paragraph in any sort of way that wouldn’t have people on both sides hot under the collar. This has been a strenuously debated topic, particularly for Southern Baptists, for the last several years.

So, let me just say, and I’m sure everyone on both sides can agree, it is extremely important to know what the Bible says about our sin nature, free will, election and predestination, and whether or not a person can lose his salvation. These are weighty issues with eternal consequences that shouldn’t be dealt with lightly or in a way that seeks to reinforce our own opinions at the expense of what God’s word says.

Resources: 
Calvinism and Arminianism by Theopedia.com

Homosexuality In the Church: Homosexuality is certainly not the only sin out there, but it’s the sin that’s the hottest topic right now. Do you know the Scriptures that address homosexuality? Do you know how to answer the canard: “Christians say that homosexuality is against God’s law, yet they eat shellfish and wear garments of mixed fabrics, which is also against God’s law,”? What would you tell a church member who thinks it’s not loving to call homosexuals to repent of their sin and trust Christ or that godly “love” means we should validate their sin? Do you know how to help Christians who are former homosexuals deal with temptation to their old sins? Is it biblical to allow unrepentant, practicing homosexuals to serve in leadership positions in the church? Things like this may be going on in your own denomination, so it’s important for church members to be trained in what God’s word actually says.

Resources: 
Homosexuality by CARM.org
How Can We Help Christians Who Are Struggling with Homosexual Desires? by John Piper
Homosexuality and the Modern Church by Robert Gagnon and Tony Reinke

*The resources given are obviously not an exhaustive list. For the most part, they are resources I have used myself, found to be helpful, and trust to be generally doctrinally sound. There are many other wonderful resources out there, but, naturally, our most important resource is to compare all things to God’s word in context.

 

Read Part 2 of this article, “Keep On Keeping Up: 6 More Issues Christians Need Guidance About From Our Pastors” here.

Wednesday's Word

Wednesday’s Word ~ Ruth 1

ruth 1 16 17

Ruth 1

In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They went into the country of Moab and remained there. But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. They lived there about ten years, and both Mahlon and Chilion died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband.

Then she arose with her daughters-in-law to return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the fields of Moab that the Lord had visited his people and given them food. So she set out from the place where she was with her two daughters-in-law, and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah. But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each of you to her mother’s house. May the Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. The Lord grant that you may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband!” Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept. 10 And they said to her, “No, we will return with you to your people.” 11 But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters; why will you go with me? Have I yet sons in my womb that they may become your husbands? 12 Turn back, my daughters; go your way, for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say I have hope, even if I should have a husband this night and should bear sons, 13 would you therefore wait till they were grown? Would you therefore refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, for it is exceedingly bitter to me for your sake that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me.”14 Then they lifted up their voices and wept again. And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.

15 And she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” 16 But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” 18 And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.

19 So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem. And when they came to Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them. And the women said, “Is this Naomi?” 20 She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. 21 I went away full, and the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi, when the Lord has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?”

22 So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabite her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.


 

Questions to Consider:

1. Why did God include Ruth’s story in the Bible? Why would God allow a Moabite, who was not one of His chosen people of Israel, to have this position or be included in this way?

2. According to verse 5, what losses had Naomi suffered? Why did she encourage Ruth and Orpah to return home to Moab? (11-13) What does this tell us about Naomi’s character?

3. What do verses 16-17 show us about Ruth’s character and faith? Are these traits present in your own life and walk with the Lord? What are some strengths can you thank God for and some weaknesses you can ask Him to help you with?

4. In verses 13 and 20-21, how did Naomi respond to the loss of her husband and sons? Where does she lay the blame for her losses? Compare Naomi’s response to tragedy to Job’s response. How does God want believers to respond to tragedy? Do you need to repent for being bitter over, or blaming God for any tragedies in your own life?

5. Had God really abandoned Naomi, or was this just her own perception? If Naomi were your Christian friend, what Scriptures would you offer her as comfort?

Pop Theology, Social Media

Pop Theology ~ Twisted Scripture

pop theology twisted scripture

 

Dear Pop-

I saw this meme that I thought was a Bible verse. It had a nice thought and a Scripture reference after it, but when I turned there in my Bible, the nice thought didn’t say anything close to what the verse actually said. It turns out that someone wrote what the verse meant to her and then put the Scripture reference after it. And there’s a whole Pinterest board dedicated to memes like this! Is it OK to handle God’s word like that? I’ve also included some other memes I found that sound fishy to me. Your thoughts?

Penny Pinterest

 

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Dear Penny,

Jon Acuff’s a fun dude, but this is dissin’ God’s word. Ain’t nobody – NO-O-O-O-O-BODY got the props to bling up the Bible. No addin’ to it. No subtractin’ from it. Bad things’ll go down, ya dig?  Jots? Tittles? Keep your mitts off, and swing that sword right. And what up with all this “Inspirational Version”? God’s word is da bomb diggity all by its onliness, got me?

 

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Heck to the no. Check it.

 

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Fo’ relz? Where’s that in the Big Book? Lemme let you in on a little inside info: nowheresville. Jesus said as long as we’re hangin’ on the big blue, there’s gonna be trouble. Lots of it. But check it out- who cares? We don’t throw down our faith on havin’ a good day. We throw down our faith on Jesus, even when it’s a bad scene.

 

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Yeah? Tell that to Jesus. His haters had front row seats to torture Him and watch Him die. Or the eleven out of Jesus’ twelve closest homeboys who were executed by their haters. Put your peeps on a copy of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs and quit littering up social media with this mess. Kick that prosperity gospel junk to the curb.

 

Well, Penny. I’ve laid down the gospel 411 for ya. Keep your specs on Jesus and keep the faith.

For the Homies,
Pop

 

Gospel, Homosexuality, Salvation, Sin, Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday ~ Cancer: A Love Story

Originally published April 7, 2013cancer love story

Cancer.

The dreadfulness of the word hung heavy in the air between Jana and her friend Denise.

“The doctor says it’s terminal,” Denise choked, “I’m so confused. I don’t know what to do.”

Jana’s heart broke as she envisioned the difficult emotional road ahead for Denise and watched the tears streaming down her face.

“I’d do anything to take that pain away,” thought Jana. “Anything.

For days after they parted, Jana’s thoughts were consumed with how she could help Denise accept and feel better about her condition. By the weekend, when they met for coffee, Jana was ready.

“Denise,” she began, “I’ve been giving it a lot of thought, and I think I know why you’re so uncomfortable with having cancer.”

“Oh? Why?” asked Denise.

“Well, first of all, you shouldn’t be fighting against the idea of having cancer. It’s a completely natural biological event. In fact, you were probably born genetically predisposed to cancer. It’s part of who you are. Accept it and embrace it as something that makes you unique and wonderful!”

Denise seemed skeptical, but Jana plunged ahead.Girlfriends Enjoy A Conversation

“You’re also worried about what other people will think of you. Maybe they’ll think you’re weak and try to help you with things that you’d rather do for yourself.”

“But maybe I’ll need some help,” Denise suggested quietly.

“Nonsense!” Jana retorted, “Having cancer doesn’t make you different from anybody else. It’s exactly the same as not having cancer. What we need to do is show that to the world. Maybe we should have a rally for cancer equality!”

“Jana, that’s great and all,” Denise whispered somberly, “but I’m going to die. That makes all the stuff you’re talking about seem a lot less important.”

Jana seems like a very loving and kind person, but does the “help” she was offering Denise seem…well…helpful?

What if I told you that during this entire scenario, Jana personally knew a doctor who had a proven cure for Denise’s type of cancer, and was giving it away, yet Jana never told Denise? How loving and kind does Jana seem now?

Now read back through this story and substitute “homosexuality” for “cancer”.

We live in a culture that tells Christians that we are to “love” our homosexual friends and loved ones by embracing homosexuality as good and natural. We even hear people who claim to be Christians saying this. But is this how the Bible defines love? Is this how Jesus loved people?

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
1 John 4:10-11

Think back over the encounters Jesus had with people, from the woman at the well, to Zaccheus, to Nicodemus, to the woman caught in adultery, to the rich young ruler, to anybody else Jesus ever interacted with.

Did Jesus ever “love” someone by telling him it was OK to stay in his sin?

No, He didn’t.

Jesus loved sinners by calling them to repentance, forgiveness, and a new life in Christ.

Why? Because it isn’t love to help the slave to embrace his chains. It’s love to set him free.

Christ loved us by going to the cross and becoming the propitiation –satisfying God’s wrath—for our sins. He laid down His life for our freedom.

And, Christian, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. We must lay down our opinions, our politics, our ideas of what we’d like the Bible to say, maybe even our actual lives, in order to help people know freedom in Christ. We have the cure for their spiritual cancer—the gospel—and it is not “love” to knowingly misdiagnose them or keep that cure from them.

Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.
John 15:13

blurry-sky-cross
But as important as it is to rescue the perishing, there’s an even greater issue at stake here for those of us who claim the name of Christ.

For our sin, our Savior endured wrongful conviction, ridicule, mockery, and bullying.

For our sin, our Savior was slapped, punched, spit on, had His beard yanked out, and thorns and brambles mashed into His skull.

For our sin, our Savior had the skin flayed off His back, buttocks, and legs, whipped nearly to death until He was a bloody mess.

For our sin, our Savior, beaten, bloody, and broken of body, hoisted a heavy, splintery cross onto His shoulders and carried it through town and up the hill to His execution.

One nail.

Two nails.

Three nails.

For your sin. For my sin. For our neighbors’ sin.

How dare you, or I, or anyone spit in the face of our bleeding, dying Savior by saying that the sin that put Him on the cross is OK?

How dare we?

How can any of us claim to love Christ while celebrating the nails, the spear, the crown of thorns?

By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
1 John 2:5b-6

Jesus walked the way of leading people to repentance from sin and to the beauty, the freedom of a glorious new life through faith in Himself. Will we, who say we abide in Him, love Jesus and our homosexual neighbor enough to walk in the same way in which He walked?

Mostloving

Wednesday's Word

Wednesday’s Word ~ Galatians 1

gal 1 23 24

 

Galatians 1

Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— and all the brothers who are with me,

To the churches of Galatia:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

11 For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel.12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. 13 For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. 14 And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, 16 was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.

18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days.19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother. 20 (In what I am writing to you,before God, I do not lie!) 21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 22 And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they glorified God because of me.


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.


 

Questions to Consider:

1. Who called Paul to be an apostle, and by whose authority does he address the churches at Galatia? (1-3)

2. The Galatian churches (6-9) were being drawn away from the gospel by the Judaizers, who insisted that the new Gentile Christians could not be saved unless they were also circumcised, observed Jewish law, feasts, festivals, etc. Why did Paul call the Judaizers’ ideas “another gospel”? What did Paul indicate would be the Judaizers’ fate? (8,9) Why would God be so harsh with these false teachers?

3. What are some ways false teachers today try to add requirements to the gospel (repent of your sin and place your faith in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as payment for your sin, and you will be saved)? Does God take false teaching as seriously today as He did in Paul’s time?

4. In verse 10, whose approval is Paul seeking by saying the things he said in verses 1-9? Why does he say he wouldn’t be serving Christ if he were trying to please men?

5. How did Paul learn the gospel? (12) What was the purpose of his three years in Arabia and Damascus (17)? What point is Paul trying to make to the Galatians by telling them the things in verses 11-24? (Hint- Read through Galatians 2:2)