Wednesday, May 28, 2008

An Examination of the Teachings of Rick Warren

What follows is a careful examination of an interview with Rick Warren by Leadership Magazine, summer 1997, concerning his thesis in The Purpose Driven Church that the key issue for churches in the twenty-first century is church health, not church growth.

The entire article can be found online here.

Despite the rapid growth of Saddleback, Warren writes in The Purpose-Driven Church (Zondervan) that "the key issue for churches in the twenty-first century is church health, not church growth."

Amen! 100% true! The key issue is church health and not church growth.

Why do you say health should replace growth as the focal point for pastors?Rick Warren: Because size is not the issue. You can be big and healthy, or big and flabby. You can be small and healthy, or small and wimpy. Big isn't better; small isn't better. Healthy is better. There is no correlation between the size and strength of a church. I'm interested in helping churches become balanced and healthy. If they are healthy, growth will naturally happen.
Amen again!

If numerical growth is an unreliable indicator of health, how can you tell if your church is healthy?It's not unreliable, just inadequate. There are five ways to measure growth. A church needs to grow warmer through fellowship, deeper through discipleship, stronger through worship, broader through ministry, and larger through evangelism.

Agreed! These are the natural God-given desires to those supernaturally regenerated and should mark any healthy Christian or church.

Another mark of maturity is the ability to start having babies. I want to see churches that are plateaued in numerical growth begin to reproduce through church planting.

Well, having babies can be a mark of maturity but it surely doesn’t have to. Not only that having babies or the ability to reproduce is not a reliable indicator of health. Unhealthy organisms can and do reproduce. Can a woman with AIDS reproduce? Yes! What will be the outcome? A baby with AIDS? Can cancer cells reproduce? Is malignant growth to be considered an indicator of health? Are the cults healthy because they can reproduce?

A body is not healthy because it can reproduce (that’s back to the old church growth issue just in another form), it is healthy because its immune system maintains the purity of the body. Cancer kills because the immune system to a large degree considers the cancer cells part of the body and will not remove those cells for that reason. And cancer cells are more prolific at reproduction than healthy, normal cells.

How do you cultivate health in a church?Health is the result of balance. Balance occurs when you have a strategy and a structure to fulfill every one of what I believe are the five New Testament purposes for the church—worship, evangelism, fellowship, discipleship, and ministry. If you don't have a strategy and a structure that intentionally balances the purposes of the church, the church tends to overemphasize the purpose the pastor feels most passionate about.
In evangelicalism, we tend to go to seed on one truth at a time. You attend one seminar and hear, "The key is seeker services." You go to another: "The key is small groups." "The key is discipleship." "Expository preaching." The fact is, they're all important.

When a church emphasizes any one purpose to the neglect of others, that produces imbalance—unhealth. That causes a lot of churches to remain stunted.

Health does need balance – like a balanced diet – but that is no guarantee of health. People can eat a well balanced diet and still become unhealthy through other impure influences or activities. Health is a result of purity and is maintained by incorporating those influences or activities that promote the purity of the body. The body must incorporate the pure and good and remove the impure and bad. That’s both biblical and logical!

How do you keep things balanced?Four things must happen. You've got to move people into membership, build them up to maturity, train them for ministry, and send them out on their mission. We use a little baseball diamond to illustrate that.

We've got a scorecard to evaluate progress. Just like when you go to a doctor and he checks all kinds of vital signs, the health of a church is quantifiable. For example, I can measure how many more people are involved in ministry this month than last month. How you accomplish those four objectives doesn't matter.

Wait a minute! “You’ve got to move people into membership”? Maybe just semantics but what is really meant here? If by moving people into membership he means going out and proclaiming the gospel, bringing people to saving faith through the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit and then they become members then fine. However, if by moving people into membership he means having man-centered services and offering the unregenerate the opportunity to “serve Christ” and seeing their willingness to join the church as proof or evidence of regeneration then we have a real and undeniable problem. Men aren’t saved by offering them a Purpose Driven Church or a Purpose Driven Life but only by the power of the Gospel. Getting unregenerate men involved in religious activity only produces counterfeit Christians who have a form of godliness but have denied its power.

How you accomplish those four objectives doesn't matter.

Not so fast! That is both unbiblical and illogical! This is the old lie that “methods don’t matter” as long as they produce the desired results.

Biblically the truth that methods do matter is seen not only in the Ten Commandments but is also illustrated all through the pages of the Bible and especially in the life of the Lord Jesus during His temptations in the wilderness. If methods don’t matter then Jesus could have turned the stones into bread and it would not have mattered. If methods don’t matter then Jesus could have jumped from the pinnacle of the temple and it would not have mattered. If methods don’t matter then Jesus could have bowed down to Satan to receive the kingdoms of the world and it would not have mattered.

Logically we can deduce that just because a method gets "results" does not make it a good method. Raping a woman to satisfy sexual desires may get results but it is an unworthy method. Stealing to obtain may get results but it is an unworthy method. Using an unworthy method to accomplish what may be a worthy goal spoils the goal before you ever get to it.
In today's society, how do you stay healthy when you bring in a lot of unhealthy people?Health doesn't mean perfection. My kids are healthy, not perfect. There will never be a perfect church this side of heaven, because every church is filled with pagans, carnal Christians, and immature believers.

I agree that health doesn’t mean perfection and that there are no perfect churches this side of heaven, but I don’t agree with this ecclesiology, this definition of church as mentioned above – the church is the ecclesia the called out ones and is to be made up of regenerate people, a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that we may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy (1 Peter 2:9-10).

To attempt to fill the church with pagans in order to “move them into membership” is unbiblical, unwise, and the philosophy of men like Robert Schuller who teach that the church should be “man-centered and not God-centered” in order to “impress the unchurched with the human needs approach” (see Robert Schuller’s Self-Esteem, The New Reformation, pgs. 12-13).

I've read books that emphasize, "You've got to reinforce the purity of the church." But Jesus said, "Let the tares and the wheat grow together, and one day I'll sort them out." We're not in the sorting business. We're in the harvesting business.

Wait a minute! I thought we were talking about health doesn’t mean perfection and now we are evidently talking about health doesn’t mean purity.

Biblically the church is to maintain purity! The Lord gave instructions on church discipline in order to maintain its purity. Not only that, we are told that Jesus died in order to purify His bride, the church (see Ephesians 5:25-27 and Titus 2:11-14).

Also, in the parable of the tares we are told that the “field” is the world – not the church – “and the field is the world” (Matthew 13:38). Furthermore, we are in the sorting business and not just the harvesting business – the quality of each man’s work is going to be tested to see “of what sort it is” (1 Corinthians 3:13).

Logically, what farmer is in just the harvesting business without also being in the sorting business? Shall he harvest a field full of weeds and take that to the market and expect to be rewarded?

We do get a lot of unhealthy people at church, because society is getting sicker. But Jesus demonstrated that ministering to hurting people was more important than maintaining purity. When you fish with a big net, you catch all kinds of fish.

Did Jesus ever compromise His purity in ministering to hurting people? Was that ever demonstrated in His life? No! Jesus died for my purity and yours – He demonstrated that nothing is more important than purity (Titus 2:11-14)! Why? God is Holy! He is pure! And without holiness no man shall see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14). That's a denial of the Master!

When you fish with a big net, you catch all kinds of fish.

And when you open a wide-gate you lead many to destruction!

Rick Warren uses the bait and switch tactic in his reasoning. He baits his listener up with something true and then systematically and secretly redefines its meaning in order to slip in his destructive heresies. In this interview he went from church health being the issue back to church growth in a subtle and almost undetectable manner by defining health as the ability to reproduce. Warren baited the definition of health as not meaning perfection and then switched to the definition of health not meaning purity. Warren not only violates the principles of sound logic – he also violates the principles of sound doctrine.

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words” (2 Peter 2:1-3).

Tuesday, May 27, 2008 of the devil's most insidious and successful methods to deceive

Pragmatism - if it works it must be right - judging by appearance, has always been a deadly and deceptive method employed by the devil. By it, both ministers and ministries are judged either true or false based solely on quantifiable, observable results. After all, we are told that the numbers don't lie! Really? How about the twelve spies sent to spy out the Promised Land and they came back to Moses with their report - ten said that its conquest could not be done and two said that it could. Two were right and ten were wrong! How about Elijah God's prophet and the three hundred and fifty prophets of Baal - one true and three hundred and fifty false! Or how about Jeremiah the prophet who ministered for forty years with no quantifiable, observable results - and yet he was vindicated by God and history!

Jesus said, "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment" (John 7:24). Many are falling prey to the grave error of judging by appearance and therefore many are being deceived by ministers and ministries that appear to be right but are actually wrong.

What would you say of this pastor?

He knows how to inspire hope.
He is committed to people in need.
He counsels prisoners and juvenile delinquents.
He starts job placement centers.
He opens rest homes and homes for the retarded.
He has a health clinic.
He organizes vocational training centers.
He provides free legal aid.
He opens community centers.
He preaches about God.
He creates warm Christian community.
His membership quickly exceeded 1000.

Do you like him? Do you think he is the man for the job? Would your church call him to be your next pastor? I hope not! He's the man in the picture and that was Jim Jones who was the pastor of the People’s Temple Christian Church. Jim Jones and almost a thousand of his most loyal followers committed suicide in the jungles of South America.
Nothing has changed! Men today are still being deceived by judging by appearance.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Why Some Preachers' Kids Are Emergent!

What does Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, and Andy Stanley have in common? Is it that they dress the same? No! Is it that they all use their hands while preaching? Well, maybe - but that still is not the commonality that I am looking for. Is it that they are all well known leaders in apostate seeker-sensitive, self-esteem, emergent church philosophy? Yes, but here's the real commonality between these three men - they are all preachers' kids!

Why or how is it that preachers' kids can turn out to be undiscerning, pragmatic, utilitarian, Pelagian or semi-Pelagian, ecumenical, postmodern apostates held captive by philosophy?

First and foremost there has been a wide-scale abandonment by preachers to be faithful to the God-called assignment of equipping the saints for the work of service through faithful, careful, diligent study, and systematic exposition of the Word of God which results in the saints "no longer [being] children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming" (Ephesians 4:14).

Second there has been a wide-scale adoption by preachers to judge by appearance, seek the glory and honor of man, attempt to be popular, remove the offense of the cross, grow large crowds rather than loyal Christians, and pursue quantity rather than quality by using pragmatic methods based on philosophical religious humanism.

Finally, although more could be said, there has been a wide-scale acceptance of secretly introduced destructive heresies to the neglect of sound doctrine for the purpose of an ecumenical, liberal, social agenda to bring about world peace and prosperity.
At the root of the problem is a man-centered philosophy of soteriology rather than a God-centered theology of soteriology which naturally leads to a man-centered philosophy of ecclesiology and a man-centered philosophy of eschatology.
Do not be taken captive by philosophy!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Does the Bible Teach Lordship Salvation?

Not only does the Bible teach Lordship salvation, it also demonstrates it! The Bible gives a clear picture that going to heaven is a matter of lordshipnot just saying the right things about Him like, “Lord, Lord” (words), or doing things to “make Him Lord” (works), but actually receiving Him as Lord (worship). This clear picture of salvation being a matter of lordship is given to us in the Bible in Luke 23:32-43. See for yourself what the Bible has to say on the subject of salvation being a matter of lordship (worship).

32. Two others also, who were criminals, were being led away to be put to death with Him.

33. When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left.

34. But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves.

35. And the people stood by, looking on. And even the rulers were sneering at Him, saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is the Christ of God, His Chosen One.”

36. The soldiers also mocked Him, coming up to Him, offering Him sour wine,

37. and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save Yourself!”

38. Now there was also an inscription above Him, “THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.”

39. One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!”

40. But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?

41. And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.”

42. And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!”

43. And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”

This account in the Bible is the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ who was crucified between two criminals. The two criminals are part of the backdrop of this picture of salvation and it is from their examples that we see that salvation is illustrated in the bible as a matter of lordship.

Here is how it works:

1. One criminal changed his mind about Jesus and began to believe that Jesus really was the King “But the other answered, and rebuking him said, ‘Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?”

2. He admitted that he was guilty and receiving what he deserved“And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds.”

3. He realized and admitted that Jesus was innocent and had done nothing wrong – Jesus was dying for crimes He had not committed“but this man has done nothing wrong.”

4. He confessed with his mouth that Jesus is Lord (King)“Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom.” Only kings have kingdoms.

5. He believed in his heart that God would raise Jesus from the dead“Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom.” He knew that Jesus was being executed and was going to die but he also believed that God would raise Him from the dead and that He would come again.

6. He called on the name of the LordJesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom.”

The Bible says, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord (King) and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved. For with the heart man believes resulting in righteousness and with the mouth he confesses resulting in salvation. And whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:9-10, 13).

The word “confess” is not the same as the word “profess.” The word “confess” means “to say the same thing as another,” or “agree with another.” So to confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord does not mean just to say or profess, “Lord, Lord,” but it means to agree with God that Jesus really is Lord. This knowledge of Jesus' lordship that results in confession of His lordship is the work of God through the gospel giving illumination to the heart and mind.

You can teach a parrot to say, "Jesus is Lord", but the parrot will have no logical understanding or agreement with what he is saying. The parrot would be "professing Jesus is Lord" but he could not "confess Jesus is Lord" without someone from the outside having the ability to make the parrot understand and giving the parrot the ability to understand. The same is true of men. Many may profess that Jesus is Lord because they have been taught to profess that but there has been no genuine illumination of the heart and mind which results in confessing that Jesus is Lord based on logical understanding, agreement, and spiritual illumination.

The criminal that died and went to hell wanted Jesus as Savior – “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” But notice that he did not want Jesus as Lord (King). If he would have wanted Jesus as Lord (King) he would not have tried to command Jesus what to do. He wanted a utilitarian Christ - one he could use as a magic-genie and whom he could command for his own benefits.

The criminal that died and went to heaven wanted Jesus as Lord and did not try to command or use Him but instead humbly submitted to Him. He had a change of heart and mind based on spiritual illumination given through the circumstances and message of the crucifixion - Now there was also an inscription above Him, "THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS." Salvation is a matter of lordship!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The New Pragmatism

In his last written book Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace?, Dr. James Montgomery Boice (1938-2000) gave us a perceptive and timely message that the evangelical church today so critically needs to hear and heed. Dr. Boice has given us a three-fold message, calling us as Christians: 1) to repent of our worldliness; 2) to recover the great salvation doctrines of the Bible; and 3) to live a life transformed by the essential truths of the gospel (Adapted from the Publisher's Foreward in the book).

The first chapter is entitled, The New Pragmatism in which Dr. Boice describes how evangelicalism is seriously off-base today because it has abandoned its evangelical truth-heritage and pursued the world's wisdom, embracing the world's theology, following the world's agenda, and employing the world's methods.

While I would like to address each of these areas, today I especially want to address the area of following the world's agenda and one of its major proponents in our day.

"The world's agenda. In the liberal churches the words, "the world must set the agenda" were quite popular. That had been the theme of the 1964 gathering of the World Council of Churches, and it meant that the church's concerns should be the concerns of the world, even to the exclusion of the gospel. If the world's main priority was world hunger, that should be the church's priority too. Racism? Ecology? Aging? Whatever it was, it was to be first in the concerns of Christian people" (pg.23).

"But here is the important thing. What has hit me like a thunderbolt in recent years is the discovery that what I had been saying about the liberal churches at the end of the 1960s and in the 70's now needs to be said about evangelical churches too." Can it be that evangelicals, who have always opposed liberalism and its methods, have now also fixed their eyes on a worldly kingdom and have made politics and money their weapons of choice for winning it? I think they have. About ten years ago Martin Marty, always a shrewd observer of the American church, said in a magazine interview that, in his judgment, by the end of the century evangelicals would be "the most worldly people in America." He was exactly on target when he said that, except that he was probably a bit too cautious. Evangelicals fulfilled his prophecy before the turn of the millenium" (pages 23-24).

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Recovering the Gospel...the first step to recovering the Church

Beloved, while I was making every effort to write to you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ (Jude 3-4).

There is no doubt that evangelicalism today is in a state of perplexity and unsettlement. In such
matters as the practice of evangelism, the teaching of holiness, the building up of local church life, the pastor's dealing with souls and the exercise of discipline, there is evidence of widespread
dissatisfaction with things as they are and or equally widespread uncertainty as to the road ahead. This is a complex phenomenon, to which many factors have contributed; but, if we go to the root of the matter, we shall find that these perplexities are all ultimately due to our having lost our grip on the biblical gospel. Without realizing it, we have during the past century bartered that gospel for a substitute product which, though it looks similar enough in points of detail, is as a whole a decidedly different thing. Hence our troubles; for the substitute product does not answer the ends for which the authentic gospel has in past days proved itself so mighty.


We would suggest that the reason lies in its own character and content. It fails to make men God-centered in their thoughts and God-fearing in their hearts because this is not primarily what it is trying to do. One way of stating the difference between it and the old gospel is to say that it is too exclusively concerned to be 'helpful' to man - to bring peace, comfort, happiness, satisfaction - and too little concerned to glorify God. The old gospel was 'helpful', too - more so, indeed, than is the new -but (so to speak) incidentally, for its first concern was always to give glory to God. It was always and essentially a proclamation of divine sovereignty in mercy and judgment, a summons to bow down and worship the mighty Lord on whom man depends for all good, both in nature and in grace. Its center of reference was unambiguously God.

But in the new gospel the center of reference is man. This is just to say that the old gospel was religious in a way that the new gospel is not. Whereas the chief aim of the old was to teach people to worship God, the concern of the new seems limited to making them feel better. The subject of the old gospel was God and his ways with men; the subject of the new is man and the help God gives him. There is a world of difference. The whole perspective and emphasis of gospel preaching has changed.

From this change of interest has sprung a change of content, for the new gospel has in effect reformulated the biblical message in the supposed interests of 'helpfulness'. Accordingly, the themes of man's natural inability to believe, of God's free election being the ultimate cause of salvation, and of Christ dying specifically for his sheep are not preached. These doctrines, it would be said, are not 'helpful'; they would drive sinners to despair, by suggesting to them that it is not in their own power to be saved through Christ. (The possibility that such despair might be salutary is not considered: it is taken for granted that it cannot be, because it is so shattering to our self-esteem.) However this may be (and we shall say more about it later), the result of these omissions is that part of the biblical gospel is now preached as if it were the whole of that gospel; and a half-truth masquerading as the whole truth becomes a complete untruth.

Thus, we appeal to men as if they all had the ability to receive Christ at any time; we speak of his redeeming work as if he had make it possible for us to save ourselves by believing; we speak of God's love as if it were no more than a general willingness to receive any who will turn and trust; and we depict the Father and the Son, not as sovereignly active in drawing sinners to themselves, but as waiting in quiet impotence 'at the door of our hearts' for us to let them in.

It is undeniable that this is how we preach; perhaps this is what we really believe. But it needs to be said with emphasis that this set of twisted half-truths is something other than the biblical gospel. The Bible is against us when we preach in this way; and the fact that such preaching has become almost standard practice among us only shows how urgent it is that we should review this matter. To recover the old, authentic, biblical gospel, and to bring our preaching and practice back into line with it, is perhaps our most pressing present need.

An excerpt from J. I. Packer's introduction to John Owens' classic sermon The Death of Death in the Death of Christ. I first viewed this at Steve Camp's site CAMPONTHIS.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Explosive Gospel - Acts 14:1-7

The gospel has both positive and negative effects. Some receive it and some reject it. We read in the Bible that those who carry and proclaim the gospel “are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life” (2 Corinthians 2:15-16).

The gospel divides. It splits people, dividing the repentant from the unrepentant, the saved from the unsaved, the believing from the unbelieving, and those who love truth from those who reject truth. The Lord Jesus was the most divisive preacher that ever spoke. He said, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household” (Matthew 10:34-36).

The gospel is explosive. “It is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). The Greek word translated “power” is dunamis, from which we get our English word “dynamite.” In its positive effect the gospel is an explosion of the power of God which dramatically transforms those who believe. It is an explosion of light that reveals sin, righteousness, and judgment and is gladly received by some. In its negative effect the gospel is an explosion of light that exposes the darkness and depravity of men stripping them of their self-righteous pretenses and aspirations, often infuriating those who reject the light of the gospel.

So the gospel, by its explosive nature, will produce both revival and riot; acceptance and opposition; and obedience and disobedience. Because the gospel has both positive and negative effects, because the gospel divides, and because the gospel is explosive, there is no positive-only-gospel.

Acts 14:1-7 gives us a clear illustration of the explosive gospel.

Proclamation (1)
A. The method – to the Jew first (1a)
B. The message – and spoke (1b)
1. Explanation of the activity of God – His works and ways from Genesis to Jesus Christ (Acts 13:17-25)
2. Application of the apostasy of God’s people – sin (Acts 13:26-31)
3. Invitation of opportunity to receive God’s forgiveness by receiving Jesus, God’s anointed and appointed King.
C. The manner – and spoke in such a manner that a large number of people believed, both of Jews and of Greeks (1c) - revival
1. Not in cleverness of speech (1 Corinthians 1:17)
2. Not with superiority of speech or wisdom (1 Corinthians 2:1)
3. Not in persuasive words of wisdom but in demonstration of the Spirit and power (1 Corinthians 2:4-5)
4. Not watering down the gospel (2 Corinthians 2:17) “For we are not as many which corrupt the word of God” (KJV)
5. Not as pleasing men but God (1 Thessalonians 2:2-4)
6. Not with flattering speech (1 Thessalonians 2:5)
7. Not seeking glory from men (1 Thessalonians 2:6)

II. Opposition (2)
Disobedience to the gospel (2a)
1. Disbelief is nothing short of disobedience to the explosion of light in the gospel that reveals sin, righteousness, and judgment. (See 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10)
2. Rejecting and disobeying the explosive light of the gospel begins with religious people – But the Jews who disbelieved! The last thing a disobedient synagogue or church member wants is to have his or her darkness and depravity exposed by the light of the gospel.
B. Deterrence to the Gentile (2b) – see 1 Thessalonians 2:13-16
1. Provoke – stirred up the minds of the Gentiles
2. Poison – embittered them against the brethren. “Made their minds evil affected against the brethren” (KJV).

III. Opportunity (3)
A. Opposition can serve as an opportunity to teach (2 Timothy 3:8-9)
B. Opposition can serve as an opportunity to speak boldly (3a)
C. Opposition can serve as an opportunity to rely upon the Lord (3b)

IV. Division (4) – the explosive gospel divides. The light of the gospel demands either obedience or disobedience and therefore by nature it is divisive. People will either believe those spreading poison or those speaking truth.

V. Persecution (5-6) – those who don’t like the message attempt to get rid of the messenger

Perseverance (7)

The explosive gospel is the revealing gospel! Much of what is called the gospel today is appealing but not revealing; it is comforting but not convicting; and sadly, it is palatable but not powerful. Today’s appealing gospel has no opposition, does not divide, and receives no persecution

The explosive gospel of Christ is a disturbing and dividing force. G. Campbell Morgan said, “Unless the Christian evangel [gospel] of to-day is a fiery, dividing, separating influence, flinging men into opposite camps, it is not the evangel of the apostles
” (The Acts of the Apostles, pg. 345)

Monday, May 12, 2008

A Sound Doctrine of the Church

What is the church? The answer to that question has more weight and more importance than most people realize. When it comes to defining the church we have only two options: we will either use philosophy (man's best thinking) to define the church or we will use theology (God's revealed wisdom) to define the church. We live in the day of the high-jacked church when churches aren't biblical churches that are based on theology but rather they are based on philosophy. Many worship services are man-centered rather than God-centered and fail to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. We need a sound doctrine of the church in order to accomplish the will of God for His glory.

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Ecumenical Movement

Imagine the apostle Paul or any apostle, prophet, evangelist, or preacher and teacher with an ecumenical agenda to unite the world religions to "solve the world's problems"! Can you really fathom the apostle Paul going to Athens seeking to unite Judaism, Christianity, and all of the various religions of Athens for the purpose of developing a global partnership for development, eradicating poverty and hunger, curing diseases, and offering primary education? Can you imagine the apostle Paul going to Ephesus and seeking to unite Judaism, Christianity, and the Temple of Artemis for those same reasons?
Can an ecumenical movement truly accomplish God's will and purpose for His Church? Can righteousness and lawlessness partnership? Can light and darkness fellowship? Can God be in agreement with idolatry? No!
This is why a moral majority is an exercise in futility and also hostility towards God. Religious pluralism is anti-Christ and is spiritual harlotry! This ecumenical harlotry has the appearance of righteousness because of its foundation of philosophical humanism. Do not be deceived, the ecumenical movement is a doctrine of demons!
You might be surprised and horrified to discover who are some of the major proponents of this ungodly alliance. For a primer listen to this!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Moral Majority?

Is the Church to influence society by wielding collective political clout as a moral majority that legislates morality? Is society transformed by the power of the government or the power of the gospel? Phil Johnson said, "Practically the worst kind of spiritual treason any pastor or church body could ever commit would be to supplant the gospel message with a different message, or to allow a merely moral agenda to crowd out our spiritual duties. That is exactly the risk we take when we pour money and resources into political and legislative remedies for our society's spiritual problems."

As a pastor, here are some problems as I see them with wielding our collective political clout:

(1) Morality is not obtained by legislation or demonstration but wherever the Gospel is preached in power and disciples are made who in turn witness to the lost in society. In Ephesus, people didn't stop purchasing idols because Paul picketed the temple of Diana or staged anti-idolatry rallies or lobbied Rome for legislation against it - many stopped purchasing idols because Paul taught the truth, people got saved, they in turn shared the Gospel, more and more people got converted, and fewer and fewer customers were available (see Acts 19:23-27).

(2)Today's church seems to be more interested in imposing God's standards in the courthouse than they are in the church-house. When churches will not operate by the guidelines that God has given in His Word for their government (biblically qualified leaders), for their discipline (biblically maintained purity), and for their exemplary conduct in society (biblically adorned doctrine), then they have no right to impose God's standards on others - or else it is hypocrisy and the world takes note of it!

I believe that being the salt of the earth and the light of the world has more to do with moral character based on sanctification flowing from justification in the Lord than moral principles based on legislation. Are we the salt of the earth and the light of the world because we legislate morality or because we live it?

I propose that living morally has a far greater impact than legislating morality. It is the State's God-given responsibility to legislate morality. It is the Church's God-given responsibility to live morally. Therefore even the Church is called to be subject to the State (Romans 13:1-7) and is not to usurp the God-given authority of the State. Likewise God has called the Church to live morally (Romans 13:8-14) and the State is not to undermine the responsibility of the Church by legislating immoral laws.