Sermons

We Must Obey God Rather Than Men

Sometimes the evangelical news stories du jour aren’t worth keeping up with. Sometimes they are. I think this one is worth examining, because it’s one that can help us look at a similar situation we might be in ourselves through a biblical lens – even if we, or our pastor, ends up making a different, yet biblical, decision.

As you may know, the governor of the state of California has issued an edict stating that, due to the Coronavirus, churches may not meet indoors in person (there are also prohibitions on businesses and other gatherings).

Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California (pastored by John MacArthur), released a statement on July 24 entitled:

Christ, Not Caesar, Is the Head of the Church,

which respectfully and biblically explained why GCC would not be abiding by the governor’s restrictions on churches. (By the way, if you read the statement between July 24, and July 31, you might want to read it again. An addendum has been attached, and there is now a signatory page.)

I would like to ask you to read it as an exercise in apologetics. Examine the Scriptures presented. Are they handled rightly and in context? Objectively consider the arguments made. Do they make sense, and are they logical (even if you don’t agree with them)? How would you present a biblical case for another church to make a different godly decision? Which Scriptures and objective, logical arguments would you use to make your case?

One of the phenomenal ways God has uniquely wired women, generally speaking, is the emotional passion He has knit into us. We tend to feel things deeply and strongly. We bring compassion and zeal and kindness and bravery to situations in which they are desperately needed in special ways that God has only equipped women for. But with this beautiful gift He has given us comes the challenge to harness it and use it only in the situations it’s appropriate for. Not in situations such as making a dispassionate, objective, logical, reasoned apologetic argument. Allowing our passions and emotions to run wild in that situation would be using the wrong tool for the job.

I don’t know about you, but I need practice at that. Practice at letting thinking, not feelings, take the lead. And so, the particular issue of meeting/not meeting aside, I found GCC’s statement very helpful in that regard. It’s a good example of how to make a biblical, well-reasoned argument.

On Sunday, July 26, GCC did, in fact, meet together for worship, and Dr. MacArthur preached the following sermon, which I highly recommend:

We Must Obey God Rather Than Men

 

I was remarking to someone the other day that this will probably forever hereafter be known as the “Fresca Sermon” (you’ll see why when you watch it). If you don’t follow me on social media, here are a few of the funnier Fresca memes I came across (if you can’t handle humor, please look away):

 

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Quickievangelism, the CRCNA, JMac on the mark of the beast…)

Welcome to another “potpourri” edition of The Mailbag, where I give short(er) answers to several questions rather than a long answer to one question. I also like to take the opportunity in these potpourri editions to let new readers know about my comments/e-mail/messages policy. I’m not able to respond individually to most e-mails and messages, so here are some helpful hints for getting your questions answered more quickly. Remember, the search bar can be a helpful tool!

In these potpourri editions of The Mailbag, I’d also like to address the three questions I’m most commonly asked:

“Do you know anything about [Christian pastor/teacher/author] or his/her materials? Is he/she doctrinally sound?”

Try these links: 
Popular False Teachers /
 Recommended Bible Teachers / search bar
Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps to Figuring It Out on Your Own
(Do keep bringing me names, though. If I get enough questions about a particular teacher, I’ll probably write an article on her.)

“Can you recommend a good women’s Bible study?”

No. Here’s why:
The Mailbag: Can you recommend a good Bible study for women/teens/kids?
The Mailbag: “We need to stop relying on canned studies,” doesn’t mean, “We need to rely on doctrinally sound canned studies.”.

“You shouldn’t be warning against [popular false teacher] for [X,Y,Z] reason!”

Answering the Opposition- Responses to the Most Frequently Raised Discernment Objections


Yesterday at the store I had a hard time with witnessing to someone. I’m pretty sure it’s because I was only there for a total of 3 minutes. My question is, how do I witness to someone in such a short time?

It brings me so much joy to hear that you are out there sharing the gospel!

I would recommend using tracts. That way if your time with the person gets cut short, you can give them the gospel “to go”.

I use Bezeugen Tract Club tracts. If you join their “tract club”, they will send you 30 free tracts a month. They are the size of a business card, so they’re really convenient to carry in your purse.

Living Waters also has a great selection of tracts. And, while they’re not exactly tracts, Wretched has some very good online evangelism resources and is currently offering a free evangelistic booklet (you pay only shipping/handling) for giveaways at outreach events.

Keep up the great work of sharing the good news of the gospel!


Is the Christian Reformed Church a church that teaches sound doctrine?

It’s always good to do our due diligence when considering a new church or denomination, so this is a super question.

The Christian Reformed Church in North America is a rather small denomination (230,000 people in membership) that I’m not very familiar with, so I went poking around their website.

There are a lot of things that look very encouraging, doctrinally about the CRCNA. They affirm the Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds as well as the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, and the Canons of Dort. The plan of salvation presented on the website is biblical. In fact, most of what I read at the CRCNA website seemed solid.

However, a few red flags jumped out at me as I explored the site:

🚩 The heavy emphasis on “justice”. There’s something about “justice” on nearly every page of the site. Certainly Christians should uphold biblical justice, but many churches and denominations today have bought into the secular social justice movement, which is decidedly unbiblical, as it promotes feminism, normalization of sexual perversion, and unbiblical methods of addressing issues like racism, immigration, poverty, etc. It appears that the CRCNA at least leans in the direction of the social justice movement.

🚩 The role of women in the church. The CRCNA’s position reads: 

All congregations in the Christian Reformed Church in North America may allow women to serve in the office of minister, elder, deacon, or commissioned pastor. The CRC recognizes that there are two different perspectives and convictions on this issue, both of which honor the Scriptures as the infallible Word of God…

This is unbiblical, not to mention self-contradictory. Either Scripture allows women to serve in these capacities or it does not. (And it clearly does not.) Both positions cannot be true at the same time. If a church adopts the unbiblical position, it is not “honoring the Scriptures as the infallible Word of God.”

🚩 Some of the CRCNA’s position statements have a “squishy”, progressive, or blatantly unbiblical tilt rather than an unflagging commitment to Scripture. For example:

Creation care (environmentalism): “We are compelled to address human-induced climate change as an ethical, social justice, and religious issue…”

Ecumenicity (unity with other churches): “[The CRCNA] also wishes to engage churches of other traditions such as…the Roman Catholic Church, and Orthodox churches.” (Catholicism and the major Orthodox traditions hold many unbiblical views including an unbiblical soteriology. Scripture forbids Christians from unifying with such organizations.)

Homosexuality: “Homosexuality [is] a condition of personal identity in which a person is sexually oriented toward persons of the same sex…for which the person may bear only a minimal responsibility…The church should do everything in its power to help persons with same-sex orientation and give them support toward healing and wholeness.” (Homosexuality is not a “condition of personal identity” any more than adultery or thievery is. It is a sin that the person is just as responsible for as the adulterer or thief is for his sin. We would not speak in terms of “support toward healing and wholeness” for an adulterer or a thief, we would speak in terms of repentance and mortification of sin, just as we should speak when someone’s sin of choice is homosexuality.)

Pentecostalism (charismaticism, sign gifts, etc.): “Acknowledge the gift of prophecy today…Think of prayer as a dialogue, not a monologue, and be attentive to what God is saying as you pray…be willing to engage in scripturally sound deliverance ministry against demonic powers…”

If you are considering attending or joining one of the CRCNA churches which does not allow women to serve in unbiblical roles, I would recommend setting up an appointment with the pastor to carefully and seriously discuss these issues at length, along with any other questions you may have. If you have the option of joining with a non-CRCNA church that has a more solidly biblical stance on these issues than your local CRCNA church, I would encourage you to go with the non-CRCNA church.


John MacArthur has said, that it’s possible to take the mark of the beast and still be saved? I notice that you endorse him, do you believe this is correct? 

I think a lot of people have stretched what Dr. MacArthur said wildly out of context and out of proportion. So the first issue here is to make sure you have a clear understanding of what he actually said and meant from Dr. MacArthur himself, not from random bloggers or people on YouTube. You can read Dr. MacArthur’s position statement on this issue (written by spokesman Phil Johnson) here.

As for my opinion on Dr. MacArthur’s position, I think it’s biblical and well-reasoned, but this particular issue – as with most detail-oriented eschatological issues – is not something I feel compelled to expend much time and energy on. When Christ returns, events will unfold as laid out in Scripture. Until then, we have a limited understanding of what will transpire and the order in which things will transpire, and much of what constitutes eschatology today is educated guessing. I think it is much more fruitful to spend our time evangelizing the lost and discipling the saved so that the church will be spiritually ready for the return of Christ. Whatever may happen in the days surrounding His return, we know that none of His sheep will be lost.


Since my last “potpourri” edition of The Mailbag, I’ve heard back from two of the readers whose questions I addressed, and I wanted to share their responses with you:

From the discouraged husband I asked you to pray for:

I am extremely encouraged by the people who are stepping forward and praying for me…Thank you for your encouragement and prayers. They reach into the darkest places and are invaluable.

From the lady needing help with her nursing home ministry:

Thank you Michelle for answering, I’ve been thinking of finding a church. I have to be truthful, it wasn’t the answer I was hoping for, but it is the answer I think I needed.


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Movies

Movie Tuesday Double Feature: Hearing His Voice ~and~ New Life In Christ

Note:
I apologize, but I need to temporarily suspend “Project Breakdown“.
This project will be completed at a later date.


It’s a Movie Tuesday double feature! Get out the Kleenex and get ready for a heaping helping of encouragement. These movies will do something most others can’t: introduce you to some brothers and sisters in Christ whom you’ll meet in Heaven. So get comfy and gather the family around for a night of joy!

“Imagine how dark it would be to live out of reach of the Gospel and any of the hope that it brings; to only know Satan’s rule and fear of the spirits, an endless and terrifying cycle of appeasement. Imagine if murder, self-harm, and deception were a part of everyday life.

Hearing His Voice documents the story of what happened when a people group just like this encountered God’s Word for the first time. They were forgotten by the world in the jungles of Asia-Pacific until 20 years ago when a Christian pilot spotted them in the foliage below.

Watch Hearing His Voice to stand in awe of the power of God’s Word as it transforms a desperate people into a joyful community. The hero of this story is not the pilot, or the missionaries, or even a specific evangelism strategy… it is God alone and his precious, everlasting Word.”

Hearing His Voice is a production of Access Truth“We develop training resources for making the truth of the Bible accessible across cultures.”

This year, 2019, marks John MacArthur’s fiftieth year in ministry at Grace Community Church. On February 10, GCC celebrated his many years of faithful service. And as a little homage here at the blog, I thought you’d enjoy this movie featuring Dr. MacArthur, Jubilant Sykes, and members of GCC. All the way from 1979, here’s New Life in Christ.

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (“Good Luck”, Miscarriage Funeral, Art Azurdia, JMac NOT partnering with false teachers)

Welcome to another “potpourri” edition of The Mailbag, where I give short(er) answers to several questions rather than a long answer to one question. I also like to take the opportunity in these potpourri editions to let new readers know about my comments/e-mail/messages policy. I’m not able to respond individually to most e-mails and messages, so here are some helpful hints for getting your questions answered more quickly. Remember, the search bar can be a helpful tool!


Why do you still have Art Azurdia on your “Recommended Bible Teachers” list?

Genuine thanks to those of you who reached out in concern about this. I appreciate your dedication to sound doctrine and to protecting me from my own absentmindedness.

As many of you may recall, Art was removed from ministry by his church over the summer for committing adultery. The day Trinity Church released their statement announcing this, I added an update to the article (the article was written in 2016 – two years prior to his removal) linking to it and explaining the situation. I have since tweaked that update for clarity. The update to my article reads:

On July 2, 2018, the elders of Trinity Church announced the removal of Art Azurdia as pastor due to sexually immorality. Art subsequently released his own statement of contrition and repentance and stepped down from all public ministry. While Art’s sin does not change the doctrinal soundness of his previous books and materials, you may wish to use this information as a factor in deciding whether or not to use or continue using his previously released sermons and materials. Should Art take it upon himself to return to ministry in the future, I will not recommend him as he has disqualified himself from the biblical requirements (1 Timothy 3/Titus 1) for ministry. The above information now applies only to Art’s sermons and materials predating July 2, 2018.

Art has dropped off the face of the earth for all intents and purposes. With regard to public ministry, it is as if he died on July 2. His adultery does not magically change the content of his previously released sermons and materials from doctrinally sound to doctrinally unsound. Therefore, I am making the judgment call to leave the information in the article with the update and let people follow their consciences and decide for themselves whether or not to use his old materials.

Update (12/19/18)- Due to further information that has been shared with me privately from a firsthand source directly involved with the Art Azurdia situation, I have reversed my decision and have removed him from my list of recommended teachers. He is not someone I would now proactively recommend.


Did you know John MacArthur is partnering with false teachers at a conference next year?

There is an ugly rumor going around that John MacArthur is partnering with Rick Warren (and other false teachers) at next year’s Proclaim 19, the annual National Religious Broadcasters International Christian Media Convention. He is not.

Dr. MacArthur has been asked to deliver a sermon at the convention in honor of his 50th year of broadcasting Grace to You as well as his 50th anniversary of pastoring Grace Community Church. His appearance at the convention has no connection to other speakers who are speaking at other times and at other events during the convention.

I believe part of the reason people are being deceived into believing that Dr. MacArthur is “partnering” or “sharing the stage” with false teachers at Proclaim 19 is that they do not understand the nature of this event. I attended a similar event a few years ago, the International Christian Retail Show, when my book, Jacob: Journaling the Journey first came out.

You need to understand that the NRB event, like the ICRS event I attended, is a products, services, and informational trade show for the people and ministries NRB serves, not a preaching and teaching Christian conference.

At a trade show, there’s a large arena with dozens or even hundreds of exhibitor booths. You walk around and look at what you’re interested in and what pertains to your ministry. You network with people you meet who are in your particular field. That’s it. That’s what you’re there for – a products and services fair – not to be taught the Bible. Some trade shows offer various tangential events, dinners, or lectures for attendees who might be interested in a particular niche topic. If you’re interested in the topic and/or speaker, you attend. If not, you don’t. It is at one of these “a la carte” types of events that Dr. MacArthur is speaking. As of today, the only other person appearing at that event is Joni Eareckson Tada, who will be singing some hymns.

Another thing to keep in mind about this event is that it is taking place over the course of four full days, and it’s a “come and go” type of thing. Thousands of people will attend at various times during the four days. At an event this large and fluid, it is very likely Dr. MacArthur won’t even lay eyes on Rick Warren or any of the other problematic personalities who will be attending, especially if, as could be the case with his busy schedule, Dr. MacArthur is only at the convention for a brief amount of time. I’m not sure how you can be “partnering with” or “sharing a stage with” someone you have no contact with and isn’t present at the event you’re speaking at.

The deceptive information that Dr. MacArthur is “partnering” or “yoking” with false teachers is being spread mainly by a YouTube personality called “Servus Christi” . Friends, intentionally or unintentionally, this man is a deceiver and a slanderer, and he is causing division in the Body.

In the same way that you can’t trust every pastor or teacher to be doctrinally sound, you also can’t trust that every self-proclaimed “discernment” ministry is biblical, and Servus Christi most certainly is not. He routinely goes after “big name” doctrinally sound pastors and teachers with ridiculous and spurious claims in order to make a name for himself. (For example, he has falsely accused Paul Washer twice this year- once for “partnering” with Hillsong, and once for “partnering” with an associate of the Pope.)

Please don’t be deceived by this man, and don’t spread his deceptions by sharing them around on social media. Here’s the truthful information about Dr. MacArthur’s appearance at Proclaim 19 (the screenshotted statement is from Phil Johnson, head of Grace to You) and about Servus Christi:

 

If you’re considering commenting on this article to:

• defend Servus Christi, Jacob Prasch, or any other “discernment” ministry that slanders doctrinally sound teachers,
or to
• accuse John MacArthur (or any other doctrinally sound teacher) of heresy for appearing at this convention or for any other reason,

please save yourself some time and effort. Your comment will not be published.


This question was asked publicly on Twitter:

Is it philosophically inconsistent not to have some sort of funeral or burial of a miscarried fetus if you believe that fetus to be a human being with equal value and rights from conception? Asking for my wife and [me].

Great question. And if this isn’t a hypothetical question, I’m so sorry for your loss.

I think people grieve and honor lost loved ones in different ways and that, biblically, this is a matter of conscience. If you and your wife would like to have a full-scale funeral and burial for your baby, then go ahead and do that. If you’d like to do something more akin to a memorial service, that’s something to consider as well. You could also do something on a smaller scale such as a prayer gathering of your closest family and friends in someone’s home. Or, you could choose to follow whatever the hospital’s policy is for taking care of the baby’s remains. My thought is that as long as the remains are treated respectfully, as with any other death in the family, this is really a decision between you, your wife, and the Lord. Again, my condolences.

Thank you for your response, condolences, advice, and encouragement. I think God has provided an option for us that both honors our baby and satisfies our consciences. Thank you again.

Friends, would you please take a moment to pray that God will comfort this gentleman and his wife during this sad time?


Help me to respond to Christians that say “Good luck!” “Wish me good luck!” “We were lucky!” etc., etc., etc.! For the life of me I don’t understand.

Well…here’s how I would respond:

Her: “Good luck!”
Me: “Thanks! I covet your prayers.”

Her: “Wish me luck!”
Me: (In a lighthearted, sweet manner) “I’ll do you one better, I’ll pray for you!” (and then do it)

Her: “We were lucky!”
Me: “Wow, God really blessed you!” or… “I’m so thankful God protected you!” Or something like that.

I would not make a big deal out of this, especially if you know the person is saved and generally doctrinally sound. Most people just say these things out of habit and culture. It doesn’t mean they’re into New Age spirituality or anything like that. I mean, I eat Lucky Charms for breakfast sometimes, and I’m not into any of that. :0) It might make an interesting topic for Sunday School or Bible study class, though, just to help everybody become more aware of the things we say and why we say them.


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Resource Round-Up: The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel

What are your thoughts on the Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel?

So much has been written and said about the Statement that I really didn’t have much unique material to add. In this vlog, I explain why I signed the Statement and give a few of my own thoughts on both the Statement and on social justice in general, but I’d mainly like to point you to the excellent resources below.

 

The Statement:

The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel

Essays (articles) on the Statement Articles by crafters of the Statement – John MacArthur, Justin Peters, Josh Buice, Tom Buck, Phil Johnson, Darrell Harrison, and more – expounding on various issues related to the Statement.

Please note: I am not familiar with a few of the blogs, websites, and podcasts linked below. The links below are not an endorsement of any content these sites may have created which contradicts the information at my Statement of Faith or Welcome tabs at the top of this page.

Articles on the Statement or on social justice in general

Social Injustice and the Gospel – John MacArthur

Is the Controversy over “Social Justice” Really Necessary? – John MacArthur

The Injustice of Social Justice – John MacArthur

The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel – Tom Ascol

Why I Signed the Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel – Josh Buice

The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel – Pyromaniacs

Is Social Justice a Gospel Issue? – Kevin DeYoung

Covenant Theology, the Law, and Biblical Justice – Founders Ministries

What Does the Bible Say About Social Justice? – Gabriel Hughes

Social justice statement spurs ‘productive conversation’ – Baptist Press

If We Lose the Meaning of “Justice,” We Lose the Gospel – Stand to Reason

Social Justice: Why Jesus Didn’t Pursue it & Why the Church Shouldn’t Fight for It – Truth + Fire

Podcasts, Sermons, and Videos on the Statement or on social justice in general

Social Justice and the Gospel: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 – John MacArthur

The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel: Background, Exegesis, Application – The Dividing Line (James White)

The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel with Tom Ascol – Sheologians (Summer Jaeger and Joy Temby)

Episode 1, Episode 2, Episode 3 (ongoing) – The Sword and the Trowel (Tom Ascol and Jared Longshore)

Tom Ascol and the SJ&G – Doctrine and Devotion

Social Justice and the Gospel – Just Thinking (Darrell Harrison and Virgil Walker)

MLK 50 Conference – Just Thinking (Darrell Harrison and Virgil Walker)

Darrell Harrison on The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel – Airing the Addisons

Statement on Social Justice with Josh Buice – The Rapp Report (Andrew Rappaport)

Josh Buice, G3, & The Statement on Social Justice & the Gospel – Dead Men Podcast

Social Justice & Issues with Parts of Social Justice Statement – The Briefing (Al Mohler)

President Reagan’s Faith, Interaction with Dr. Albert Mohler, Brief Comments on Justice – The Dividing Line (James White)

The Statement – Theology Driven

The Coming Social Justice Storm – Voice of Reason Radio

The Left Can’t Not Be Crazy – Relatable (Allie Stuckey) 8:20-13:10


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.