Favorite Finds

Favorite Finds ~ May 1, 2018

Here are a few of my favorite recent online finds…

I’ve recommended Verity Fellowship in the past as a doctrinally sound resource for Christian women. In this article, VF’s Katherine Roberts recommends a great resource for women who want to learn how to study and teach the Bible better without going to seminary: The Simeon Trust.

 

Crossway recently published a fascinating article, 10 Crucial Archaeological Discoveries Related to the Bible as part of the promotion for their new ESV Archaeology Study Bible.

 

 

 

Justin Peters and Costi Hinn have recorded several helpful YouTube videos in a series called Truth & Transformation refuting the false teaching coming out of the Word of Faith and New Apostolic Reformation movements. I’ve been told more videos are on the way, and there’s talk of a podcast!

 

Looking for a fun family trip this summer? Check out the Answers in Genesis Equipping Families to Stand Conference. It will be held at the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, July 16-20. Your registration fee for the conference includes a seven day pass to both the Creation Museum and the nearby Ark Encounter.

 

I really appreciated Clint Archer’s article Bleep! Why Christians Shouldn’t Cuss over at The Cripplegate. I have no idea why anyone who’s a Christian would think profanity is acceptable to God, but, for folks who do, Clint will quickly, deftly, and biblically disabuse them of that mindset.

Discernment, Testimony Tuesday

Testimony Tuesday: “God Used a Discernment Ministry in My Life”

Recently, there’s been a lot of pushback against online discernment ministries. There’s no question that some of them are vile and ungodly, and the perpetrators of these sites, in many cases, should face discipline from their home churches. But that doesn’t mean that all online ministries that do discernment work are bad or should be banished. I’d like to share with you the testimonies of some sisters
who have been helped by discernment ministries.


If it wasn’t for online discernment ministries I would still be a Beth Moore groupie, a tossed salad Christian who accepted everything and everyone that called themselves “Christian”.

I just want to say if it wasn’t for women who teach about discernment, I know I would be so lost believing false teachers because I did follow [a false teacher]. I’m so grateful I found out about this person and will not follow that person anymore. I thank you for your how you have helped me see the truth and set me free.

If it wasn’t for discernment ministries I would still be in the Assemblies of God church that has gone Emergent, and I wouldn’t have known about the New Apostolic Reformation movement that my Foursquare Church embraced in the 90’s and almost messed up my theology and eschatology. My spirit was bearing witness and I was alone…. [Discernment] ministries explained and named the names with real research and quotes and videos and the abundance of SCRIPTURE to help me “armor up”!!

For two years I adored Priscilla Shirer and felt like I got to know God better. My fire for His Word did come alive…but after seeing that she belongs to the false teachers “club”, and with your encouragement to just TAKE THE BIBLE AND STUDY IT – I AM doing it! My heart was sad and upset and frustrated that I might have been led astray from true Bible study principles for too long and too far, but this morning God led me to Philippians 1:18: “What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice,”. It removed my guilt and anger… I am thankful for the circumstances that He used to get my attention and get me back to His Word, and I am excited to do it the RIGHT way this time!

I just want to let you know that your site has been a tremendous blessing to me. I’ve been praying for a long time and my prayer has been, “Lord lead me and guide me into Your truth. Direct my path. I want Your truth. I want teachers and pastors who teach Your truth.”

For the last 10+ years, I was a regular attendee of [churches I now know were] Word of Faith/prosperity/positive speaking and thinking churches and I just couldn’t understand why I was continuing to die spiritually. I had faith. I tithed faithfully and I still couldn’t understand why I had no “real” visible victory in my life. Although I had seen, heard and experienced strange things, I remained because I did not want to church hop. But then things took a real dive and I could not remain any longer under those teachings.

I did several Google searches seeking biblically sound churches in my area; what and who false teachers are (I never expected to find lists naming people); biblically sound teachers/pastors, etc. Your website came up in the search along with a few others and a site for finding a biblically sound church. I am now at a church where expository teaching is done (first I knew anything about such; the pastor is a Master’s Seminary grad). I’ve watched many of Justin Peters’ and John MacArthur’s YouTube videos and from your site, I’ve discovered good women teachers to follow.

Step by step, I’m letting go of the false and wrong teachings and beliefs that were a part of my learning. I love how Justin Peters says (and I’m paraphrasing) “If you want to know God’s will, read the Bible. If you want to hear Him speak, read the Bible out loud.” WHAT??? That right there blew my mind in overdrive. You mean there’s no deep mystery, going deeper, secret prayer, speaking it into existence, secret handshake or sowing of seeds that I need to perform or do to know what God’s will is?

It’s really unlearning a lot of the wrong/false/bad teachings and learning God’s word for myself.


Ladies, God is still at work in the hearts and lives of His people, including yours! Would you like to share a testimony of how God saved you, how He has blessed you, convicted you, taught you something from His word, brought you out from under false doctrine, placed you in a good church or done something otherwise awesome in your life? Private/direct message me on social media, e-mail me (MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com), or comment below. Try to be brief (3-4 paragraphs or less) if possible. I’ll select a few to share on the blog another time. Let’s encourage one another with God’s work in our lives!

Doctrinally Sound Teachers, Special Events

Report Back: Reflections on G3 Conference 2018

 

A week ago today, I was drinking from the fire hose of good teaching and good fellowship at the 2018 G3 Conference: Knowing God – A Biblical Understanding of Discipleship. I not only had the blessing of being able to hear many of my heroes in the faith speak for the first time in person, but I also had the joy of meeting numerous social media friends – finally! – face to face.

Some of the wonderful brothers and sisters I got to hear from:

I remarked to a friend that it felt strange to me when readers approached me during the conference to thank me for being a good resource for them. “I’m not really a resource,” I said, “I point people to others who are good resources.” So, in keeping with pointing you to good resources, I’d like to share a little about some of the pastors and teachers I sat under last weekend – not so much about what they taught, but more about how God uniquely crafted and fit each of them into the Body to minister to their local churches, and the church at large, in their own special way. I highly recommend each of them to you.

Josh Buice

A superb example to other pastors, Josh has the heart of a shepherd and a servant. He is genuine and humble, and his greatest concern is that His people know and serve God through their local church. I’ve previously recommended Josh here and have had the pleasure of linking to many of his materials.


Tim Challies

Tim is someone who has figured out his ministry context and is flourishing in it. He not only serves his church well, but is intent on learning from his church in order to serve it better. Tim’s is one of the handful of blogs I follow regularly.


David Miller

Kindness and grace personified, David has a way about him of speaking hard truths in gentleness. Due to degenerative muscular atrophy, David uses a wheelchair and had to memorize his entire sermon including the lengthy Scripture passages he cited, which was very encouraging to me for my own Scripture memory. David reminded me of older, small church pastors I have known who are so good at loving and caring for their sheep.


Justin Peters

If you’ve ever wondered what biblical meekness looks like, you need to get to know Justin Peters. Calm, kind, graceful, knowledgeable, and with a quick wit, Justin cares deeply about sound doctrine and calling out false teachers because he has a heart for people to be saved and know the truth of the gospel. Justin taught two breakout sessions on the New Apostolic Reformation, and I am overjoyed to report to you that there was standing room only (and there were many standing) for both sessions. What a joy to see Christians getting informed so they can protect themselves and their churches! I have recommended Justin here and have linked to several of his resources.

Justin’s a Louisiana expat in the Northwest, so I brought him
some essentials from home: king cake and crawfish :0)


Voddie Baucham

Voddie is intense. He is passionate about preaching and the Scriptures to such an extent you begin to sense that, if he could, he’d grab you by the shoulders and physically stuff you with Scripture and a proper understanding of it. He wants the church to get it. I’ve recommended Voddie here.


Martha Peace

Gracious. Godly. Gutsy. That’s the “G3” of Martha Peace. Unlike so many of today’s “divangelistas” Martha is not a young, silly, hyper Barbie doll. She’s older, mature, and sedate, yet still fun to be around. She doesn’t have the perfect figure or the trendiest clothes. She looks and acts like your average, older, wiser sister at church. And that’s a good thing. We need far more mature sisters like that to look up to. It was a blessing to see her breakout sessions full of younger women who want that kind of biblical teaching and example from a Titus 2 woman. I’ve recommended Martha before, based largely on others recommending her to me. Now it’s my pleasure to commend her to you, having personally heard her speak.


My dear friend, Darlene (left), with her hero of Biblical Counseling and women’s Bible study, Martha Peace.


James White and Michael Kruger

Drs. White and Kruger presented a joint session on the canon of Scripture. Lovable eggheads both, they showcased the fact that Believers don’t have to gullibly check their intellects at the door of Christianity and that academicians don’t have to be godless liberals. They made “doctrinally sound smart” look beautiful.

Paul Tripp

I thought I was a fairly decent parent until I sat under Paul Tripp’s teaching, but I get the feeling he can make pretty much any parent feel like a failure. There’s a purpose to that: without God’s grace and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, relying on your own efforts, you are a failure as a parent. Paul wants you to see that so you’ll stop trying to parent in the flesh and parent with the gospel instead so that your children might be saved.


Derek Thomas

Derek Thomas is the iconic image of an elder statesman pastor, a breath of fresh air standing in stark contrast to today’s cool, hipster, twentysomething pastors. There is a Bible-fueled furnace deep in Derek’s soul that empowers his preaching. He is living proof that formal doesn’t have to equal cold and boring.


Tom Ascol

This is a man who knows God and wants you to know Him, too. Tom is a regular Joe who’s good at explaining biblical concepts simply and lovingly, like the uncle who taught you how to tie your shoe or ride a bike. I was pleased to learn that he is Southern Baptist as well as the executive director of Founders Ministries, and am looking forward to hearing more from him.


Steve Lawson

Long one of my favorite pastors, Steve Lawson is the definition of unction in preaching. The man is a preaching machine, and I don’t see how he replenishes all the calories he must burn off in the pulpit. There is an urgency about his preaching that says, “You need to know this, and you need to know it now because it will help you love Jesus more, and you don’t want to wait another second to love Him more, do you?” It’s been my pleasure to recommend Dr. Lawson here. If you listen to preaching and podcasts, you’ll want to add him to your queue.


Phil Johnson

The man knows his stuff, and he tells it like it is. He’s a straight shooter. That’s the main thing I appreciate about Phil Johnson. There’s no way I could briefly capture the awesomeness that is Phil, so I’ll just leave you with a little tidbit I learned on this trip, that made him even dearer to my heart. He said he was a terrible extemporaneous speaker, but a decent writer, so when he preaches, he writes out his manuscript word for word and reads from it at the pulpit. I’m exactly the same way when it comes to speaking. If you’re not already listening to, and reading Phil, get caught up. I’ve enthusiastically recommended him here.


Equally as important as the wonderful teaching at G3 was the opportunity to meet so many good friends I’d only been able to get to know on social media. I even got to meet a few readers, too!

Nate Pickowicz, Gabriel Hughes, Me, Beki Hughes, Sonya Walker

Josh Buice said something during his sermon that really stuck with me: Attending a conference is an unbelievably wonderful experience, but it isn’t church. Church is where we go back to when a conference is over – to do the hard and joyful work of ministry and the long-term labor of love of discipling and being discipled in the local body.

And Josh was absolutely right. God doesn’t call us to be conference junkies, bouncing from event to event because we’re addicted to the high we get from “mountaintop experiences.” That’s not real life. And it’s not biblical life, either. God calls every Christian to be plugged into a local body of Believers. To walk with the same group of people week in and week out through sorrows and joys, sins and victories.

Aaron Armstrong                                                            Allen Nelson

But in another sense, the very reason conferences like G3 are so addictive, is that they are the church. The universal church. The church catholic. The family of Believers we’ll spend eternity with.

I can’t tell you how many times I totally tuned out the preaching or the music and just looked out over that sea of people I’d never seen before – enraptured by the words of  God, praising the name of our dear Savior – and thought, “This is the tiniest little taste of what Heaven is going to be like.”

Kevin and Lynnette

And every time I shrieked with delight at the first glimpse of a precious friend I’d previously known only online, I thought again, “This is what Heaven will be like!” A glorious family reunion with loved ones – those we’ve known personally, those we’ve known from afar, and those we’ve never met before – all bound together by our mutual love, adoration, and worship of Jesus.

Thanks so much to those of you who generously gave financial gifts which enabled me to attend G3. Your investment and kindness meant so much to me, and I hope you’ll be blessed by the way God has grown and encouraged me through this conference as I continue to serve you through this online ministry.

If you ever get the chance to attend G3, I can’t recommend it enough. But if you don’t, you can download the G3 app, listen to all the teaching from past conferences, and soon, from this year’s conference.

The G3 Conference was a wonderful experience, and I hope I’ll have the opportunity to go back. I think the most important thing I learned at G3 is that a Christian conference can do lots of things, but if it doesn’t send you back home loving your own church more and equipped to serve it better, it hasn’t done its job. I came home with both. Thanks, Josh Buice, Pray’s Mill Baptist Church, and everyone associated with the G3 Conference.

Discernment, Doctrinally Sound Teachers, Word of Faith Movement

Josh Buice – Justin Peters Interview

(Photos courtesy of twitter)

One of my favorite blogs is pastor Josh Buice’s Delivered by Grace. Josh is pastor of Pray’s Mill Baptist Church in Douglasville, Georgia, near Atlanta, and also coordinates the annual G3 Conference (gospel, grace, and glory) there. I’d highly recommend anything Josh is in charge of, so read the blog, go to the conference, and visit his church next time you’re in the area.

Josh recently interviewed another favorite of mine, Justin Peters. Justin is perhaps best known for his teaching and discernment ministry exposing the Word of Faith movement. You’ll definitely want to visit Justin’s web site to read his amazing testimony and view an excerpt from his discernment seminar.

In the interview, Justin touched on his testimony, discussed the Word of Faith movement, talked about false teachers Todd White, Joseph Prince, Beth Moore (more information here, including Josh’s article referred to in the interview and more from Justin on Beth), and Joyce Meyer, and explained the problems with heavenly tourism books and movies like Heaven Is for Real. The interview is both informative and edifying, and I encourage you to give it a listen.

Click Here to Listen

 

Book Reviews

A Review of Justin Peters’ “Do Not Hinder Them”

As I’ve mentioned before, solicited book reviews are not part of my regular repertoire here at the blog. In fact, for a variety of reasons, I have a policy against writing them.

But when one of your heroes in the faith asks, you make an exception. And, for me, Justin Peters is one of those heroes in the faith (even more so because I’m sure he wouldn’t want me calling him that).

I introduced Justin this way in my article, A Few MORE Good Men: 10 Doctrinally Sound Male Teachers:

Justin Peters Ministries exists to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the lost and to help equip the saved to ‘speak the truth in love’ (Ephesians 4:15). Great care is taken to preach and teach God’s Word in its proper context and simply let the text speak for itself.”

The first thing I ever noticed about Justin Peters is his striking example of biblical meekness. Justin is soft-spoken and peaceable, but firm in his gospel convictions and aflame with the desire for the lost to come to salvation. You must read Justin’s testimony of coming to know Christ after years in seminary and ministry as a false convert. What Justin is perhaps best known for is his teaching and discernment ministry exposing the Word of Faith movement. It started with a trip to a faith healer as a teen to have his own cerebral palsy healed and grew into Clouds Without Water, a seminar designed to educate the church on the history, growth, and metastasization of the Word of Faith heresy.

But Justin doesn’t limit himself to discernment ministry, and his new book, Do Not Hinder Them: A Biblical Examination of Childhood Conversion, opens the door to another of his theological interests- salvation and baptism, especially as they pertain to children.

A simple, yet fundamental, point of theology which needs to be understood in order to grasp the concept of the book is the difference between credo-baptism and paedo-baptism. Credo-baptism is also called “believer’s baptism.” This means that a new believer stands before the church, professes her faith in Christ, and is then baptized out of obedience to Him- to demonstrate that she has passed from death unto life and now wishes to be identified as a follower of Christ. Credo-baptists believe strongly that baptism is only to be administered to professing believers.

Paedo-baptism is infant baptism. It is administered to all babies and children (by definition, unable to profess faith in Christ) by a number of Protestant denominations as a symbol that a child has been born into a covenant (believing) family who will raise her in the nurture and admonition of the Lord and the knowledge of the gospel.

There’s an angst that Bible believing credo-baptist parents often experience, which, undoubtedly, is foreign to paedo-baptist parents:

My young child has come to me claiming to have asked Jesus into her heart and wants to be baptized. How can I tell if she’s really saved and that it’s right for her to be baptized at this age?

It’s a long standing dilemma for Southern Baptists like Justin…and me. My mother happened to mention in passing a few years ago that I had begged to be baptized when I was about six. It made sense because that’s about the time all of my little friends were being baptized, but, I was very surprised to hear this story because, as an adult, I had no recollection of it whatsoever, and I can guarantee you I wasn’t saved at the time. My parents wisely said no.

As parents ourselves, my husband and I have faced the same struggle. Five of our six children were baptized as young children. One is not currently walking with the Lord and two of them were re-baptized later at their own request when they realized they had not been saved the first go round.

This is the central issue Justin tackles in Do Not Hinder Them.

But don’t be fooled by the title of the book. While it’s a must read for Christian parents, pastors, and those who work in children’s ministry, you also need to read this book if…

…you’ve ever wondered if you’re really saved.
…you’re wondering if that loved one (of any age) who claims to be a Christian is really saved.
…you’re a paedo-baptist wanting to get a better grip on credo-baptist beliefs and struggles
…you’re brand new to the study of theology and are looking for a resource that will easily help you to “dip a toe in the water” (so to speak)

In other words, though Justin addresses the issue of genuine conversion as it applies to children seeking baptism, the question of “How can I know if I/my loved one is really saved?” is one we all face at some point in our walk with Christ. So, while there may be a few parts of this book that don’t apply if you’re not a pastor, children’s ministry worker, or parent, most of it is helpful for every Christian.

One of the foundational issues Justin cites as having gotten us into the muck and mire of baptizing unregenerate children, only to have them “walk away” from the Lord (though, indeed, they were never saved in the first place) as teens or young adults – sullying the name of Christ and His church – or to seek a second baptism once they realize they were unsaved the first time, is the fact that we have so watered down the gospel and the soteriology our churches subscribe to and practice. “Getting saved” has been reduced to parroting a sinner’s prayer, or mental assent to a simplistic set of facts that even the demons believe. There is little to no presentation of sin and rebellion, guilt before a holy God, God’s wrath toward the sinner, and the eternal punishment of sin. And when was the last time you heard a pastor urge someone contemplating following Jesus to count the cost of being His disciple? Instead, it’s, “Don’t you want to go to Heaven when you die?” or “Just believe A, B, and C, and you’re saved!” or “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life!” Rarely are young children mature enough in their thinking to be able to grasp the true nature and meaning of why they need a Savior and what repentance, regeneration, and discipleship really entail.

And that’s largely our fault. As Christian parents, we understandably want our children “in,” safe from an eternity in Hell. So we make it as easy as possible for them to complete the transaction. Instead of raising our children up to understand and attain to the high bar of the demands of the gospel, we lower the bar so far that even the youngest child can toddle right over it. In the end, the problem is not that we’re baptizing unsaved babes as our paedo-baptist brothers and sisters do, but that we’re presenting a false gospel that creates false converts who hang their eternity on having repeated a prayer and passed through the baptistry.

The second key issue Justin says has contributed to the epidemic of baptizing unregenerate children is the fact that we base our decision to baptize them solely on their verbal profession of faith rather than on the fruit of a changed life.

I remember all too well the worry over my own small children’s salvation in this regard. How could I tell if they were really saved or not? They had been in church and raised in a Christian home all their lives- they knew all the right answers to give when we questioned them about their salvation experiences.

As Justin wisely points out, this is often the case with “church kids.” They know how to repeat back what they’ve learned in Sunday School, and, because they’ve been raised in a godly atmosphere, they’re likely already good kids, outwardly behaving in what looks like a Christlike way. When they come to us and say, “I’ve asked Jesus into my heart,” how can we tell if it’s genuine saving faith?

Most of the time, the answer is- we can’t. Until, that is, that faith has been tested and their testimony proven true through the refining process of trial, temptation, and persecution. Until he is able to bear fruit in keeping with the repentance he claims. Does your child freely choose obedience to Christ over giving in to temptation? Does he cling to Christ during times of difficulty? Does he visibly stand for Christ when ridiculed for doing so by his peers? What five year old even faces such situations?

And that’s precisely Justin’s point. We rush our children through the baptismal waters as soon as they claim to have received Christ rather than waiting to see their faith prove out over the ensuing years. Your five year won’t face the temptation to use drugs or engage in sex. But your teenager will. It’s unlikely a gang of kindergartners will surround your child and mock his belief in Christ and biblical values. Sophomores and juniors do so gleefully. How does your young adult, who claims to be born again, handle these types of situations? When it’s his choice, not yours, does he consistently and unrepentantly go along with the worldly crowd or does he bear up and walk faithfully with Christ? Justin suggests, and I can’t help but agree, that the testing of our children’s faith that comes with age and independence, and the fruits of Christlikeness they bear – such as: godly sorrow over sin, personal holiness, hunger for the Word, and increasing discernment –  are a much more reliable barometer of their spiritual state than the “right answers” they are able to give as small children. It is for this reason that Justin suggests postponing baptism until the late teens or early 20s, while encouraging and nurturing our children’s faith as they grow and mature.

Do Not Hinder Them so effectively addresses these matters of concern to the church that I unhesitatingly recommend it to all Christians. Justin writes in a simple, unassuming style that even the newest believer would be comfortable with, and explains complicated theological terms and issues with ease. The book is chock full of helpful footnotes rife with Scripture references and supplementary resources, and is only 112 pages long, making it an easy evening’s read. Do Not Hinder Them is available in soft cover format (not available in e-book format at this time) and is endorsed by Dr. John MacArthur. You can purchase a copy at Justin’s web site or on Amazon.


All brown “pull quotes” in this article are taken from:
Peters, Justin. Do Not Hinder Them: A Biblical Examination of Childhood Conversion. Justin Peters Ministries, 2017.