Doctrinally Sound Teachers

Doctrinally Sound Christian Men to Follow – 1

If you’re a long time follower, you’ve probably run across my article, A Few Good Men: 10 Doctrinally Sound Male Teachers. Well, it needed updating and a fresh coat of paint, so to speak, so that’s what this article is, in case it looks somewhat familiar. :0) I’ll be updating the subsequent articles in this series in the near future, and adding more great brothers to follow.

Ladies, the Christian retailing machine isn’t doing us any favors when it comes to Bible study and theology.

First, they’ve created the impression that in order to study God’s word, we have to buy a book, workbook, or DVD by a Christian author. Next, they show us the materials we have to choose from by cordoning off part of the store or web site under the heading “Women’s Bible Study.” Finally, they fill the shelves in that department with materials penned almost exclusively by women, the majority of whom (even at supposedly trustworthy Christian retailers) are false teachers.

Let’s think outside that box, shall we?

First, you do not have to use someone’s book to study the Bible. In fact, I recommend that you don’t. Just pick up your Bible and study it in a systematic way. Next, if you do decide to use a Bible study book or other resource, it does not have to be written by a woman (though there are some great female teachers at the Recommended Bible Teachers tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page). If you limit yourself to women authors, you’re going to miss out on some wonderful teaching by the many doctrinally sound male teachers out there. Let me introduce you to a few of my favorite pastors and male authors of Bible studies and other great Christian books and resources.

IMPORTANT REMINDER: Don’t take my (or anyone else’s) word for it that any ministry, podcast, book, or blog is biblical in its doctrine. You MUST do the work of comparing with Scripture everything you read and hear. If it doesn’t match up with God’s word (in context), chuck it.

Charles Spurgeon– “The Prince of Preachers,” Spurgeon was “England’s best-known preacher for most of the second half of the nineteenth century…Spurgeon frequently preached to audiences numbering more than 10,000.” Most of his works are still in print in both hardcover and e-book format, and many are available online for free. You may wish to use his commentaries to aid in your study of the Word. The brief devotions in Spurgeons’ Morning and Evening  are a favorite of many, and you’re sure to be edified by his many other books as well.  Facebook  Twitter Instagram

John MacArthur– “John MacArthur is the pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, as well as an author, conference speaker, president of The Master’s College and Seminary, and featured teacher with the Grace to You media ministry.” Dr. MacArthur has written approximately 400 books, including study guides, commenataries, Bible studies, and more. You might enjoy one of his free on line daily devotions, one of his study books, a sermon on the passage of Scripture you’re studying, or one of his books on a variety of biblical topics.  Facebook  Twitter Instagram

Steve Lawson – A pastor for 34 years, Dr. Lawson is now founder and president of OnePassion Ministries, “a ministry designed to equip biblical expositors to bring about a new reformation in the church.” He serves on the board of Ligonier Ministries and The Master’s Seminary, where he is also Professor of Preaching. Dr. Lawson has written a plethora of books, from commentaries to preaching texts, to an interesting series of profiles of godly men of the past such as Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, William Tyndale, and others. Follow along with Dr. Lawson’s Bible study lessons on video, And, of course, you’ll want to listen in to his sermons.  Facebook  Twitter Instagram

Todd Friel– Todd is the host of the Wretched podcast and television show, an outstanding resource dealing with discernment, evangelism, the church, theological aspects of current events, and various other topics. “Witness Wednesday” (the weekly episode airing on Wednesdays) is a great way to get “boots on the ground” training in how to share the gospel. Todd has produced a myriad of materials for both churches and individuals on biblical topics such as marriage, church history, parenting, anxiety, pornography, and more.  Facebook  Twitter Instagram

Paul Washer– An echo of Paul the Apostle, Paul Washer served as a missionary in Peru for ten years where he also founded the HeartCry Missionary Society. HeartCry now supports church planters in Peru and indigenous missionaries world wide. Paul is a challenging author and a sought after speaker who boldly exhorts the church. Be sure to explore his books, sermons, Bible study lessons, and videos.  Facebook  Twitter Instagram

Voddie Baucham– “Voddie Baucham wears many hats. He is a husband, father, former pastor, author, professor, conference speaker, and church planter. He currently serves as Dean of Theology at African Christian University in Lusaka, Zambia.” Voddie specializes in cultural apologetics, and has been instrumental in shedding light on and pushing back against Critical Race Theory, among other issues, when speaking at conferences and other events. Listen to one of Voddie’s many fine sermons and check out his books and other materials on a variety of biblical topics.  Facebook  Twitter Instagram

Chris Rosebrough– If you’re looking for Chris’ previously daily podcast, Fighting for the Faith, that pirate ship has sailed. Chris is still the head of Pirate Christian Radio where you can find oodles of useful articles and audio, but the Aletheia is now docked at the Port of YouTube where Chris creates informative discernment videos on a variety of false teachers, false doctrines, and current events in evangelicalism. He is also the pastor of Kongsvinger Lutheran Church in Oslo, Minnesota, and quite an accomplished photographer.  Facebook  Twitter Instagram

R. C. Sproul– “Dr. Sproul was founder of Ligonier Ministries, founding pastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., first president of Reformation Bible College, and executive editor of Tabletalk magazine. His radio program, Renewing Your Mind, is still broadcast daily on hundreds of radio stations around the world and can also be heard online. He was author of more than one hundred books,” which you can find at Ligonier along with teaching materials on nearly any passage you’re studying, as well as other biblical books, music, and other resources.  Facebook  Twitter Instagram

Phil Johnson–  “Phil is the Executive Director of Grace to You. He has been closely associated with John MacArthur since 1981 and edits most of John’s major books…Phil was an editor at Moody Press before coming to Grace Community Church. He is an elder at Grace Community Church and pastors the GraceLife fellowship group.” Phil is an amazing lecturer and preacher with an incredible depth of knowledge of church and biblical history. You’ll enjoy the theological richness of Phil’s sermons (check out his “Bible Q & A” teachings) and be challenged by his blog articles at Pyromaniacs.  Facebook  Twitter

Alistair Begg– “Alistair Begg has been in pastoral ministry since 1975.” Formerly of Scotland, “in 1983, he became the senior pastor at Parkside Church near Cleveland, Ohio.  He has written several books and is heard daily and weekly on the radio program, Truth For Life.” Subscribe to the daily Truth for Life devotion or get the app, listen to a sermon on the passage of Scripture you’re studying, check in with the Truth for Life blog, or read one of Alistair’s fine books.  Facebook  Twitter Instagram


You can always find these – and more great Christian men and women to follow – at the Recommended Bible Teachers tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page.

Sanctification

You Don’t Need *A* Book, You Need *THE* Book

“Can you recommend a book on how to submit to my husband?”

“What’s a good book on biblical womanhood?”

“I’m going through [difficult life circumstance]. Can you suggest a good book on how I can cope with that?”

I’ll bet if someone did a study to find out which demographic of people reads the most books, it would be Christians. Christians are readers – there’s no denying that – and that’s a good thing.

It always makes my heart smile when a reader asks if I can recommend a good (read: biblical, and by a doctrinally sound author) book on a particular area of sanctification or a life issue she’s struggling with. That tells me she wants to learn what the Bible says and obey it. And that is no small thing in evangelicalism today.

Hear me: Reading good, doctrinally sound books is a good thing.

But – just as with any other good thing – too much of a good thing isn’t the best thing. And letting a good thing veer out of its lane isn’t the best thing.

If you dedicate twelve hours every day to prayer, you’ll never get to the laundry, the bills, the cooking, and the cleaning. If the baby is running a fever and you exegete a chapter of the Bible instead of giving her some medicine or taking her to the doctor, you’re misapplying your Bible study time.

And, while it may not be quite as obvious, we can sometimes face the same challenge with good books.

In my experience there are two general dilemmas that motivate today’s Christian to seek out a good book.

The first is: “I don’t know what the Bible says about _____ topic. I need a book that will teach me so I can correctly understand what Scripture says about it.” For example, a few weeks ago in a Mailbag article, I answered a lady who wanted to know about the eternal destiny of unborn babies who die. Among other resources, I recommended John MacArthur’s book which explains the Scriptures and theology related to that topic.

The second dilemma is: “I know Scripture teaches that Christians are supposed to _____. How do I carry that out in my day to day life?” Or, “I have this difficult situation in my life. What specific things do I do to navigate or handle it in a godly way?” For example, “How do I submit to my husband?” or, the lady from the aforementioned Mailbag article might have asked, “What should walking through the grief of losing a child look like in my daily life?”

The first dilemma is easy and appropriate to plug a book into. The second? Not so much.

Why? Because in the second dilemma we’re asking good books to get out of their lane and perform a task they’re not suited to perform: sanctification. When you’re trying to drive a nail into a board, a hammer is the proper tool for the job, not a screwdriver. You can bang on the nail with the screwdriver, and you might even drive the nail into the wood a millimeter or two, but the bottom line is, you need a hammer. That doesn’t make hammers good and screwdrivers bad, it just means you use the appropriate tool for the job at hand.

And in cases of, “Where does the rubber of Scripture meet the road of my unique, individual life?” the right tool for the job at hand – the method God has prescribed in His Word – is not reaching for a book written by man, it’s God’s sanctifying work in your heart and life. And that’s a big pot of gumbo with a lot of different ingredients in it:

  • Studying your Bible
  • Prayer- for help, for wisdom, for guidance, for strength
  • Obedience to the Word
  • Faith, trust, and utter dependence on God
  • Getting good counsel from godly friends and loved ones, your pastor, or spiritually mature women in your church

And the final ingredient that goes into the pot? Action. Step out on faith in God and His Word to help you and guide you, and just do it. Try. Figure it out as you go.

If you want to learn how to ride a bicycle, you’re eventually going to have to stop reading books about bicycles and get on one and ride. Feel that balance and coordination of muscle movements in your own body. Learn by doing.

And, guess what? You’re going to fall down a few times. You’re going to try things that don’t work. You’re going to sin (and repent and be forgiven). And you’ll learn and grow from that. Falling is part of the learning and growing process of sanctification.

for the righteous falls seven times and rises again,
Proverbs 24:16a

The steps of a man are established by the Lord,
when he delights in his way;
though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong,
for the Lord upholds his hand.
Psalm 37:23-24

I think we believe that success is in not falling. It’s not. It’s in getting back up and learning mastery of the skill.

The Bible never says we won’t fall. It says that when we do, God is holding our hand, and He’ll help us get back up.

But learning and growing and falling can be a messy, frustrating process that takes a long time. And what we want is a fast, streamlined formula that bypasses the mess and gives us guaranteed results. And, without even realizing it, we can fall into the mindset of thinking that the right book will be the magic bullet to solve our problem. We want a book to tell us what to do to keep from falling – and we think that’s mastery or success. But it isn’t. Mastery and success come from doing, from going through the process. We want a book to tell us how to get the right answer to our problem, but while the right answer is important, the growth, maturing, and mastery of going through the process is more important to our spiritual growth.

…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Philippians 2:12b-13

And it’s not just that walking through the process of working out your own salvation with the Lord and His Word rather than reaching for a book is the way God has prescribed, it’s that God’s way is far superior to reaching for a book, because God’s way is divinely powered by the Holy Spirit.

When you pick up a book written by a human being, it can give you practical tips and good advice and maybe even point you to some passages of Scripture you should study. But the Bible doesn’t just tell us what to do and give us some good ideas, it is actually, literally transformative as we are reading it.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

The Holy Spirit moves in and around and through His Word as you’re reading it to supernaturally work to conform your heart and mind to the image of Christ. That’s something you can’t get from any other book, no matter who wrote it or how doctrinally sound it is.

And one of the most amazing things about the Holy Spirit’s supernatural work through His Word is that it’s personal. Books, by definition, have to be “one size fits all” – generally applicable to a wide audience. They can’t tell you what submitting to your husband in your marriage in your life circumstances is going to look like at 10:17 a.m. next Tuesday. But Scripture can, as God uses it to sanctify you.

But there’s one other aspect of the knee jerk, “I need a book” mindset that we need to be really careful about.

If, every time there’s an issue in our lives, our reflex reaction is to get on social media and ask for book recommendations instead of turning to the Word, prayer, and godly counsel, is that not a subtle, functional denial of the sufficiency of Scripture?

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us…
2 Peter 1:3a

When the Bible says it will make us complete, equipped for every good work and all things that pertain to life and godliness, that’s exactly what it means: Every. All. We do not need other books in order to handle life’s situations in a godly way. And every Believer who came along before Christian books were a thing is proof of that. Good books aren’t a bad thing, and they can be helpful, but the Bible says it is sufficient – all we need – for anything that comes our way.

But when we reach for a book before we reach for the Bible, aren’t we saying with our actions, “The Bible’s not enough. I need more. I need something better.”?

I can’t answer that for you and you can’t answer that for me, but it’s a good thing to ask ourselves and answer honestly before God.

Good, solid, doctrinally sound books aren’t the bad guy. They can be wonderfully helpful and encouraging. But let’s make sure we’re submitting to God’s prescribed methods of sanctification, esteeming and depending on God’s supernatural work in our hearts through His Word, and not accidentally eroding the sufficiency of Scripture.

Let’s be people of the Book, before we’re people of the books.

Christian women, Parenting

Throwback Tuesday ~ Avoiding the Creepers: Six Ways to Raise a Biblically Strong Woman

Originally published May 15, 2015

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. 
2 Timothy 3:1-7

If someone were to ask you, “What kind of person do you want to raise your daughter to be?” how would you answer? Caring? Independent? Loyal? Kind?

I’m betting none of us would answer “weak,” “burdened with sins,” “easily led astray by her passions,” or “unable to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.” Yet in these last days in which we find ourselves, that’s exactly what many good-hearted Christian mothers with nothing but the best of intentions are raising their daughters to be. It’s not that they want their daughters to grow up to be spiritually weak or led astray by sin or unbiblical teaching, it’s just that they lack the skills and tools necessary for properly training their daughters in the Scriptures and godliness.

Maybe you’re one of those moms. You want to train your daughter to be a wise, godly, discerning woman, but you’re not quite sure how. Hey, we all have those areas of our lives that we need a little help with. As an older mom myself, maybe I can lend a hand.

My daughter is almost twenty, and while she’s nowhere near perfect, by the grace of God, she is a godly young lady. Looking back, there are many things my husband and I did wrong as parents. But God, in His mercy, covered our failures and saw all of us through as He taught us through His word how to raise a biblically strong woman.

6 Ways to Raise a Biblically Strong Woman

1. Set an example.

Our daughters learn by watching us. Faithfully study your Bible, pray, attend church, obey God’s word, submit to your husband, repent and ask forgiveness when you sin, and serve others and your church together.

2. Learn, and teach your daughter, good hermeneutics.

Hermeneutics is just a fancy word for rightly handling God’s word. Use a reliable Bible translation. Understand Scripture in its immediate and overall context. What was the author’s intended meaning, his audience, genre, and culture? Point your daughter to Christ as you study God’s word together.

3. Find a doctrinally sound church, join it, and attend faithfully as a family.

Study God’s word and compare everything that’s preached and taught to Scripture (in context). Does your church’s teaching line up? Then be committed to attending every single week, not just when you feel like it or when there’s nothing better to do. Instill in your daughter a love for, and a commitment to, the church.

4. Fight the fluff.

Unfortunately, many of the most popular preachers, teachers, and Christian authors (including women’s Bible study authors) teach and write things that may sound good and make us feel good, but are in direct conflict with Scripture. These are the very people Paul was speaking of in 2 Timothy 3. Teach your daughter to follow only trustworthy teachers whose theology is in line with Scripture.

5. Bring prayer and Scripture into every situation.

She can’t find her favorite doll? Kids picking on her at school? She wants to wear clothes that barely cover her? Discuss what the Bible say about these things. Pray together about them. Lead your daughter into prayer and Scripture as part of daily life, and it will teach her that God is to have authority over every aspect of our lives and that we are to obey Him in all things.

6. Teach her how to share the gospel.

If you’re not sure how to properly present the gospel to someone, learn. You can’t lead your daughter to Christ if you can’t share the gospel with her. If your daughter is already saved, make sure she knows how to share the gospel correctly. The Great Commission was the last instruction Christ gave us before leaving earth, and we are all to be about the business of carrying it out until He returns.

The 2 Timothy passage at the beginning of this article is our commission to guard our households against ungodly ways and people – even those who may falsely call themselves Christians – who might creep in and steal our daughters’ hearts and minds away from Christ. He has charged us to train them in godliness, and we must faithfully answer His call to raise wise, discerning, and biblically strong women of God.

What advice would you offer moms who want to raise
biblically strong women?


This article was originally published at Kaylene Yoder’s Blog.

And for all you boy moms, be sure to check out…

Six Ways to Raise a Godly Man

Christian women, Heaven

Throwback Thursday ~ Weak Women and the Idolatry of Personal Experience

Originally published April 17, 2015

weak women

Well, here we go again. Another child claims to have taken another trip to Heaven complete with another face to face conversation with Jesus. Oh, and the child’s mother has written a book about it which prosperity pimp, T.D. Jakes, has optioned for his second unbiblical “I went to Heaven” movie. (Heaven is for Real was the first one.)

The gist of the story is that this sweet little girl, Annabel, was climbing a tree when a branch broke, causing her to fall head first, thirty feet into a hollow tree, where she was stuck for five hours. It’s unclear from the reports I’ve read whether this was actually a near death experience, the reports mentioning only that she was “unconscious” at some point (this is when she supposedly “went to Heaven”), and that she was rescued without injury. Additionally, Annabel had suffered for years with a very serious intenstinal disease, and after her accident, became asymptomatic.

These are nice people. Sincere people. The kind of people I’d probably be friends with if they went to my church.

And they have nicely, sincerely, and with the best of intentions fallen into what I think is the number one theological error facing Christian women today, namely, believing and trusting in human experience over God’s word.

Now, I don’t doubt the facts of this story: that Annabel had a dangerous and frightening accident, that she lost consciousness and had some sort of experience before awakening, that she had a serious intestinal disease, and that, in God’s perfect timing, He chose to heal Annabel shortly after this tree accident.

And the reason I don’t doubt any of that is that it is all based in verifiable fact (unless someone comes forward with documented evidence to the contrary) and none of it conflicts with God’s word.

But an actual “trip to Heaven”? That’s not based in verifiable fact and it does conflict with God’s word.

If you feel upset with me right now for saying that, I’d like to ask you to examine why that is. Why are you upset? On what do you base your belief that this child (or anyone else outside of documented cases in Scripture) has actually made a real trip to Heaven and come back to tell about it? Her say so? This child was nine years old when this happened. Nine. Colton Burpo (Heaven is for Real) was three. Alex Malarkey (The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven– which Alex has been recanting for years) was six.

Have you ever spent any time talking to a nine year old, a six year old, a three year old? A lot of them will tell you they believe in Santa Claus and the tooth fairy, or that they have an imaginary friend, or that they’re a super hero. They’re very sincere and they aren’t lying, but they’re also very wrong because their beliefs are not based in fact and are strongly influenced by their immaturity. So why are we so quick to believe, based solely on their own say so, that the experiences these children had while unconscious were actual trips to Heaven?

For the same reason we love chick flicks and fairy tales and Hallmark movies, ladies. These stories appeal to our emotions. They make us feel good just like a rich piece of chocolate on a stressful day. And when you slap the “God” label on a story of childlike wonder coming out of a nice Christian family, our belief not only makes us feel good, we also feel justified in believing the story.

And God’s word says that kind of mindset is not for strong, discerning, godly women, it’s for weak women.

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 6 For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, 7 always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.
2 Timothy 3:1-7

When we hold these “I went to Heaven” experiences (whether from children or adults) up to the light of Scripture, they crumble, from Hebrews 9:27, to the descriptions of God, Jesus, and Heaven that clearly contradict Scripture (and the descriptions from other people who supposedly went to Heaven and came back), to the sufficiency of Scripture, to the stark difference between Paul’s and John’s scripturally verified trips to Heaven and the trips being taken today (interestingly, Paul was stricken with a “thorn” after his trip to Heaven “to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations” while Annabel’s healing is being offered, in a whirlwind of publicity events, as proof that she went to Heaven), to the fact that the Bible doesn’t say anywhere that this kind of spiritual experience is valid or appropriate for Christians today.

The people who claim to have gone to Heaven had some sort of experience while unconscious, no doubt, but if they say that experience was an actual trip to Heaven, they are either mistaken or lying. It could have been a dream, a hallucination, an experience initiated by demons (let’s not forget that Satan was once an angel and continues to disguise himself as an angel of light), or a lie they’ve concocted, as was the case with Alex Malarkey. Yet, for some reason, Christian women, who, if asked point blank, would say that they believe the Bible is our ultimate authority for Christian belief, plunk down money for these books, movies, and other accessories, and eat these stories up with a spoon without ever engaging their brains and checking these supposed eyewitness accounts of Heaven against Scripture.

But “heavenly tourism” stories aren’t the only area in which we’re choosing to believe someone’s experience over Scripture.

Do you follow someone like Joyce Meyer, Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Christine Caine, Lysa TerKeurst, or Paula White? These women all say that God “called” them to do what they do, which includes preaching to and instructing men in the church setting. Do you believe them when they say God “called” them? If so, you’re believing their supposed experience over the crystal clear word of God in 1 Timothy 2:12-14 (and plenty of other passages) which expressly forbids women from instructing men in the Scriptures or holding authority over men in the church.

And even putting aside the false and unbiblical doctrine these women teach, how many times have you heard one of them begin a sermon or teaching – not by reading God’s word and accurately teaching what the Bible says- but by telling a story about how God ostensibly “spoke” to them, acted in their lives in some way, or sent them a dream or a sign, and then basing their teaching on that experience rather than on God’s word? If you heed that kind of teaching, you’re believing their experience, not God’s word.

What about when it hits a little closer to home? You know God’s word says that homosexuality is a sin, but your 20 year old comes home and announces he’s marrying his boyfriend. So you just throw out that part of God’s word in favor of a happy experience with your son. You defend your right to swear like a sailor despite what God’s word says to the contrary. You “feel” that it was just fine for you to divorce your husband because you fell out of love with him, even though that’s not a biblically acceptable reason for divorce.

Ladies, if God’s word says it ain’t so, it ain’t so, no matter what you or I or anyone else experiences to the contrary. And it doesn’t matter how real or vivid or intense that experience was or how right or godly it seemed– God’s word, and God’s word alone defines reality, truth, existence, right and wrong. And we’d better get with the program and submit to its authority. If not, well, I guess we’ll prove the truth of what Paul said by choosing to be those women he talked about: weak, burdened with sins, led astray by our emotions, and always learning yet never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.

God doesn’t want you to be weak. He wants you to be a mighty woman of His word.

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
John 17:17

Additional Resources:

90 Minutes in Heaven on the Big Screen?

The Burpo-Malarkey Doctrine

Heaven Tourism

LifeWay Christian Stores Remove All ‘Heaven Tourism’ Books From Shelves After ‘Boy Who Came Back From Heaven’ Story Confirmed as a Lie

Random Ramblings Ruminations Resources

Random Ramblings, Ruminations, and Resources

We’ve got to stop meeting like this…only once or twice a year, that is. When I first started 4R, I kind of envisioned it as a four or five times a year feature, and now we’re at about once a year. Well, life happens, I guess.

It’s time for some Random Ramblings, Ruminations, and Resources! Ready, set, go!

#FreeJamesCoates

Have you been following the story of James Coates, Pastor of GraceLife Church in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada? He was recently arrested and imprisoned for obeying God rather than men by refusing to stop holding church services and refusing to bar those who desperately wanted to attend from coming in to worship, among other official Covid-related reasons that were given. The restrictions on gathering in that particular are are so strict they have effectively shuttered churches. (No, they cannot hold services outside {Have you ever been to Canada in February? I haven’t, and even I know that’s a ridiculous suggestion.} No, “online church” is not the same as gathering in person and it is not a biblical long-term substitute for gathering in person.)

I’m not alerting you to this situation in order to debate whether or not James and GLC should have given in to the draconian demands of their local government. (Frankly, I was shocked and downright embarrassed at some of the cruel and critical comments that were made about James and GLC- by people who profess to be Christians – on my social media platforms Wednesday when I posted about this. And after everything I’ve seen in ministry, it takes a lot to shock and embarrass me. Those folks ought to be ashamed of themselves. No such comments will be allowed on this article or my social media platforms. They will be deleted and you will be blocked.)

I’m asking you to pray.

Pray for James, his wife, Erin, and their children, and GLC. (If the name Erin Coates sounds familiar it might be because she was one of my sister speakers at the Open Hearts in a Closed World online conference last summer, and coming up again this summer.)

The elders of GLC have suggested these prayer points:

Erin’s Instagram handle is @erincoates80 if you’d like to follow her. Here is her most recent update as of the time I’m writing this:

What is something tangible you can do? Open your churches. Worship Christ. Practice the one anothers, sing your hearts out, let your pastor see your eyes as he preaches the word of God to you. Don’t underestimate this task in your life. Obey Christ with all you have.”

Erin says it better than I ever could.

Fakes and Frauds

If you haven’t already subscribed to Justin Peters’ YouTube channel, what are you waiting for? I know it’s super-duper long, but you’ve got to watch one of his most recent videos: 2020 The Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Year For The Prophets, especially if you’re unfamiliar with New Apostolic Reformation heresy as it relates to false prophets / prophecy. This will get you up to speed. Also included is an excellent interview with Nathan Busenitz on what Scripture says about false prophets.

Hymn and Hymn, but Not Hymn

You’ve heard that old joke, right? One Sunday morning, the minister of music announced from the pulpit, “In honor of Miss Doretha’s 80th birthday, we’re going to let her choose three hymns today.” Miss Doretha jumped breathlessly to her feet, scanned the room, and began pointing: “I’ll take him, him, and him!”

Well some young whippersnapper took it upon herself (a few years ago, but I only saw it recently) to pick 10 Christian Hymns That Need to Be Put to Rest. At least I’m inferring from the tone of the article that the author, Jennifer, is a young whippersnapper, because – I’m sorry, I’m honestly not trying to be mean here, but to me she comes off as a bit immature and shallow.

Or maybe I’m just old and curmudgeonly, having reached the “GET OFF MY LAWN!” stage of life.

Jennifer’s argument for putting several of these hymns out to pasture seems to be, “This hymn is too hard for people to understand,” or “People don’t understand what these words mean”.

By her logic, we should ditch the King James Version of the Bible, the Puritans (certainly Jonathan Edwards – my stars, have you ever tried to read his stuff?), the Reformers, and the early church fathers.

Schools should stop teaching Shakespeare, Beowulf, and Chaucer. And we should probably get rid of some of our patriotic songs too (I mean who knows what a “rampart” is, anyway?)

It’s just further reflective of the worldly attitude of dumbing things down to the level of people’s sloth (excuse me – “laziness” – since some may not know what “sloth” means).

How about, instead of getting rid of hymns and words people don’t understand, pastors and ministers of music take a second and teach the congregation what those words and hymns mean? Or the congregation could pull their phones out and Google it. We do that with everything else – why not do it with hard words and build our vocabularies and our knowledge base?

But there are some hymns that need to go due to theological issues with their lyrics. I’ve got two picks and then I’ll let you get in on the game. Click on the titles for lyrics. (Please note, I don’t really know anything about the people performing these songs, but I’m guessing I wouldn’t recommend them since it’s pretty hard to find doctrinally sound Christians singing songs that aren’t.)

The Savior is Waiting

It pains me to list this hymn as one that needs to be put to rest because I’ve been singing it all my life and have a deep sentimental attachment to it. Also the music is lovely, and I really do think the hymnist’s heart was in the right place when he wrote it. But…

The entire tenor of the first verse reminds me of a mom nagging her reluctant child to befriend the snaggle-toothed, bespectacled, nerdy little kid on the playground who’s running around offering his entire Hot Wheels collection if somebody – anybody – will just please, pleeeeeeeeeze, be his friend. Jesus is not some pitiful little weirdo whose day would be made if you would do Him the honor of sitting at His lunch table. He is loving and kind, yes, but He is also King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and we humbly bow the knee to Him.

And don’t even get me started on verse two. People who are dead in their sins can’t “take one step toward the Savior,” my friend. Christ has to raise us from the dead to new life in Christ.

Pass It On

This was the (depending on your age) Shout to the Lord, or Oceans, or Way Maker of my day, kiddies, and I have lots of fond memories attached to it, too. It was the song you sang at youth camp, and sometimes – if your minister of youth and music was cool, like ours was – during Sunday night church. (Some of my contemporaries will remember that we used to yell out, “Praise God!” after the phrase, “I’ll shout it from the mountaintop.”).

Whether or not the composer intended to base the opening words of this song – “It only takes a spark to get a fire going” – in Scripture, it evokes James 3:5b, which, in the most popular modern translation around the time this song was written said:

Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.

Which would be all well and good except for context, context, context. Because James 3:3-6 says:

When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

Scripture out of context…fires of hell…yeah, as peace, love, and “I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony” as this song is, I think it could be put to rest.

What do you think? Are there any hymns you think could be mothballed because of their unbiblical lyrics? Comment below and share. But play by the rules:

  • It has to be a non-contemporary hymn. Let’s say anything written between the first century and 1980.
  • None of this, “Everything from Bethel, Hillsong, and Elevation!” stuff. Everybody knows that already. This is about hymns.
  • “Because of their unbiblical lyrics.” Not because the hymnist him/herself apostatized, fell into sin, etc.
  • I get that all of this could be avoided if every church only sang the psalms. That’s beside the point.

OK, get out those hymnals and let’s hear it!

Faith Works

A few thoughts on Hebrews 11:8-19:

The original audience of Hebrews was first century Christians from Jewish backgrounds. Slavery to Law-keeping was so ingrained that the Holy Spirit gave them a chapter of “Old Testament Survey” (let the seminarian understand).

In this portion of the chapter, He demonstrates to them that the central figure of their faith, the one in whom they had their biological, tribal, and spiritual inheritance – Abraham – left them a legacy, not of Law-keeping, but of faith. Abraham believed God, and that is what was credited to him as righteousness, not any good deeds that he might have done. And, indeed that is the preeminent truth of the entire Old Testament: faith in God and in the Christ to come, not good works.

We are part of that same spiritual legacy of faith today. No amount of good works will save you: being a nice person will not save you, going to church, giving offerings, and serving at church will not save you, being baptized will not save you, praying to saints and other religious rituals will not save you, parroting a “sinner’s prayer” will not save you.

Only repenting of your sin and trusting that Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection paid the penalty for your sin of an eternity in hell will save you.

If you’ve never placed your faith in Jesus and been completely changed into a new creature in Christ with Christlike desires and a hatred for sin, how about doing that today? Check out the What Must I Do to Be Saved? tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page for more information.