We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. A.W. Tozer

Monday, July 21, 2014

“New Age Bible Versions” — Chapter 16, part 2

Here I continue from where I left off with the last NABV post!  Again, the bold in the Scripture passages is by Riplinger.

5.  “Antichrist” vs “Lord Jesus,” beginning on p.268.  “The following charts continue to show how ‘the beasts’ [sic] bloodless bibles [sic] hide the keys to God’s kingdom — leaving souls out in the cold kingdom of the coming ‘king of nations.’

a.  John 9:35:  “Do you believe on the son of Man?” vs “Dost thou believe on the Son of God?” `As noted previously, BOTH titles refer to the Messiah.  So what are we hiding?

b.  Acts 9:6:  “[omitted]” vs Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?  And the Lord said unto him…”  Riplinger makes this appear to be something nefarious, but the particular passage affects nothing.  It just has Saul asking the question, while with the “new versions” Jesus gives instructions without the question being asked.  Again, what is hidden? (Perhaps “Lord” is being hidden, since she made it bold.)

c.  Acts 8:37:  “[omitted]” vs “And Philip said if thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.   And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”  Again, the bolded phrase must be what Riplinger is calling hidden, because, as with the previous passage, whether we read Philip’s statement and the eunuch’s response, the action tells us what transpired - that the eunuch must have confessed his belief since he was baptized then and there.

d.  Luke 23:42:  “Jesus, remember me?” vs “Jesus, Lord, remember me.”  Riplinger makes the first one a question, yet the passage cited never does!  Or is this just a typo an editor didn’t discover?  Again, the problem apparently is the lack of the word, “Lord,” as if the thief on the cross is asking Jesus to remember him while not believing He is Lord?!

Apparently Riplinger believes that references to deity are “hidden” in these passages in the “new versions,” yet if there really is a conspiracy to “hide” the deity of Christ, then why were only so few passages “fixed”?  Nowhere in any of these cited passages has the context of the event been changed, and the deity of Christ is understood.

Continuing with “Antichrist vs Lord Jesus,” on page 269 Riplinger changes gears a bit with the next several passages as she implies that “new versions” support the “New Age” teaching that “the faith must be in ourselves.”

a.  Mark 9:42“who believes” vs “little ones that believe in me.” While the NAS and REB, read as stated, the NIV reads the same as KJV, yet Riplinger includes the NIV in her charge.  GWN, NKJV, NET, ESV, HCSB, RSV, Beck, Phillips, and even Berkeley all read as the KJV, yet with Riplinger’s “et al” you’d think more than two versions would have this “problem”!  Even so, it isn’t a problem because, in context, the subject of the belief has to be Jesus! (I wonder how many versions Riplinger actually reviewed - why does she not list them?)

b.  John 3:15:  “whosoever believes” vs “whosoever believeth in him.” Here we go again; Riplinger says this is with “NIV, NASB, et al” and yet both the NIV and NASB read as KJV!  In fact, I couldn’t find a version on my shelf which meets her claim!  I’m at the point that I don’t want to bother with searching all the versions I have, rather I will mostly just check the NIV and NAS in my parallel Bible.

c.  John 6:47:  “he who believes has everlasting life” vs “he that believeth on me hath everlasting life.”  I didn’t look beyond the NIV and NAS because they are both as stated here.  However, the lack of the words “on me” doesn’t affect the context.  Anyone reading the passage in context should easily  understand the object of the belief is not self but Christ!

d.  Acts 22:16:  “calling on His name” vs “calling on the name of the Lord.”  This is another example of nonsense.  If one is calling on “His name,” he is certainly calling on the “name of the Lord.”  The two phrases are synonymous!  Riplinger has a real problem with context, and is paranoid about not having “of the Lord” because, in reference to the previous section, someone must be hiding something!  Yet, this section is supposed to be about passages that, in new versions, teach belief - i.e. faith - in oneself!! It would be nice if Riplinger was consistent.

e.  Rom. 1:16, 1 Cor. 9:18:  “gospel” vs “gospel of Christ.”  Well, Riplinger has apparently returned to the issue of “hiding” things in the “new versions,” because she is complaining about the lack of “of Christ” — as if there is another gospel in the context of these passages.

f.  Gal. 5:15:  “Neither is circumcision anything” vs “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything.”  Something else “hidden” again.  The whole context of this section is about the change of things “in Christ.” Again, context is ignored so as to make the claim that “new versions” have hidden Christ’s name.

g.  Rom. 15:29:  “the blessing of Christ” vs “the blessing of the gospel of Christ.”  ARGH!!  So here we don’t have new versions hiding the deity of Christ, rather we are hiding that the gospel of Christ actually gives a blessing rather than just Christ giving the blessings.  Would not the blessings of Christ include His gospel?

h.  Eph. 1:13:  “in Him” vs “In whom ye also trusted.”  I’m not sure if the charge here is of hiding something or teaching belief/trusting/faith in oneself.  First, I must point out that in the KJV “trusted” is italicized, which means it is not in the original Greek but was put there by the translators.  So when Riplinger complains about what the Greek text says, she has to drop out this word for the KJV!  In the passage, the “missing” KJV phrase is redundant, because further in the passage it says the person believed in Christ!

i.  Eph. 1:11:  “also have obtained an inheritance” vs “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance.”  Actually, the context carries over from vs.10 and it becomes, “In Him also we have obtained.”  Either Riplinger doesn’t understand the context or she is being dishonest.  NIV actually says something different, but there is no need to address it because she didn’t address it.

There is nothing in these passages which support Ripliner’s claim that new version Bibles teach faith in oneself.

6.  “The Beast” vs “The Blood.  This chart (p.270) supposedly shows the theology of “the Beast” by verses which have left out references to “the Blood.”

a.  Col. 1:14:  “in whom we have redemption” vs “in whom we have redemption through his blood.”  I agree that this is missing “the blood.”  My only point would be that the entire context of the N.T. tells us how the redemption was purchased, so to leave “the blood” out of this passage does not weaken the doctrine.

b.  Rom. 3:25: faith” vs “faith in his blood.”  More deceit from Riplinger.  NIV is as KJV, while NAS says, “in His blood through faith.”  If she can’t get the first two of her “NIV, NASB, et al” right, I’m not wasting my time searching for the “guilty” version.

c.  Matt. 27:4:  “innocent blood” vs “the innocent blood” (“Jesus is the only one with innocent blood”).   Whether the passage includes “the” or not, the subject in the context is Jesus.  Additionally, the term “innocent” blood is used often of one who is punished while being innocent of the crime for which he was punished, and has nothing to do with the equivocation Riplinger made.  (see Deut. 19:10; 1 Kings 24:2-4; Prov. 6:16-19, e.g.)

d.  Rev. 1:5:  “freed us from our sins” vs. “washed us from our sins.”  Riplinger implies that in order for Jesus’ blood to be efficacious we must be washed in it.  However, the washing here is figurative, and in the “new versions” the “blood” is still there.  NIV:  “freed us from our sins by his blood.”   NAS: “released us from our sins by His blood.”  So the question is how one is “freed” or “released” from sins by the “blood”?  There is not literal “washing,” and the doctrine is still that sin is paid for by the blood of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.

e.  Luke 22:20:  “cup which is poured” vs “blood which is shed.”  In context, the “cup which is poured” out is the “new covenant in my blood.”  So whether the blood is “poured” or “shed,” the context is the same — the cup of wine represents the blood of Christ sacrificed for our sin.

d.  “Col. 1:24:  “which is lacking in Christ’s afflictions” vs “the afflictions of Christ in my flesh.”  I don’t understand why Riplinger included this passage in this chart about “blood.”  In fact, I find reading this passage in KJV to be very difficult to understand:  “and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ” seems to me to be saying “what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ” — “which is behind of afflictions” does not seem to be comprehensible.

Again, the charge by Riplinger that new versions eliminate the need for blood for forgiveness of sin has been proven  false.

7.  “New Age Avatar” vs “Suffering Saviour.”  Here we have a chart (p.271) which is claiming that passages just make Jesus out to be anybody rather than our savior.

a.  1 Cor. 11:24: This is my body which is for you” vs “This is my body which is broken for you.”  Previous to this, Paul said Christ broke the bread and then gave it to them.  So is the bread that which is “broken” in the KJV?  Christ’s body wasn’t broken at all!  However, there is a parallel here from the bread to Christ’s body, and although Christ’s body wasn’t literally broken, it was broken in a metaphorical sense, which I think is easily understood in the non-KJV versions.  It certainly doesn’t lead to one thinking of Christ as just an “avatar” as claimed by Riplinger.

b.  1 Pet. 3:18:  Christ also died” vs “Christ also hath once suffered.”  In the context, the passage explains what “suffered”in KJV means: “being put to death in the flesh.”  So, by context, they all say the same thing.

c.  Matt. 8:17:  “carried away our diseases” vs “bare our sicknesses.”  To “bare” is to “carry,” so that isn’t the problem.  Riplinger’s problem is “diseases” vs “sicknesses,” as if healing from “diseases” is new age and healing from “sicknesses” isn’t.  What’s interesting is that Matt. 8:17 is quoting Isaiah 53:4, and Isaiah says that he bore our “sorrows.”  I wonder what Riplinger would have to say about that?

d.  Eph. 1:14: to the redemption of God’s (own) possession” vs “the redemption of the purchased possession.”  I discovered that Ripliner’s “(own)” is to let us know that the NAS has the word italicized.  However, she missed the fact that the word “God’s” is also italicized!  She needs to be consistent.  She alerts us to the fact that there is no “purchased” in the “new versions,” but the context of the entire section tells us that, “In him we have redemption through his blood,” and “redemption” in this context is the same as “purchasing.”  So if the word “purchased” is missing, does this relegate Christ to a “New Age Avatar”?!?!

e.  Col. 2:14:  “nailed it to the cross” vs “nailing it to his cross.”  Since the whole context is about the cross Christ was crucified on, isn’t “his” implied?  Riplinger thinks by leaving out the word “his” Christ then is no longer a “suffering Savioiur.”  Of course this is inane.

This chart, like the others, has nothing to back Riplinger’s claim that new version Bibles promote an “avatar” instead of a Savior.

8.  “God in All” vs “God in Christians.”  (p.272)  Riplinger claims that new versions (NIV, NASB, et al) have language which leads to the belief that God is in everything - i.e., panentheism.  She gives but two examples:

a.  Eph. 4:6:  “God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all” vs “One God and Father of all who is above all and through all and in you all.”  Firstly, the citation from the “new versions” leaves off the “one” at the beginning; i.e., “one God and Father.”  Did Riplinger do this intentionally to imply that the “new versions” don’t teach one God?  Secondly, the Christian doesn’t have God the Father or God the Son in them; they instead have God the Holy Spirit in them.  So I’d say the KJV is in error here.   The “new versions” could just mean, since the letter is to Christians, that God is in “all people.”   I think the point is not that God is “in” everything, but that He is omnipresent; there is nowhere that God isn’t.

b.  Rev. 22:21:  “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all.” vs. “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.” I see this as like the previous - the “all” has to be the people; simple context, which Riplinger doesn’t seem to understand.  Also, with this one she applies the charge to just the NASB, yet the chart both passages are in says “NIV, NASB, et al.

So here we have Riplinger fining two passages which she believes are promoting panentheism.  This is a gross overstatement.

9.  “Antichrist: King of Nations” vs “Christ: King of Saints”  (p.273) Riplinger found two verses which in the “NIV, NASB, et al.”  the word “saints” is replaced with “nations.”  Of course this means the new Bibles are promoting the antichrist.
a.  Rev. 15:3: King of the nations vs “King of the saints.”   Riplinger notes that different Greek texts vary here, and while the TR has “hagios” and translated as “holy” in other places, the other two texts have “aeon”  (“ages” — as with the NIV, contrary to Riplinger’s heading) or “ethos,” stated by Riplinger to be translated as “pagans” elsewhere in the Bible.  It seems to me that, in context, that “nations” would make more sense because Jesus is not just King of the believers.  The rest of the world may not recognize him as their king, but that doesn’t change the facts.  Even “King of the ages” makes more sense than just “king of the saints.”  KJVO’s actually limits Jesus’ kingship!

b.  Rev. 21:24:  “And the nations shall walk by its light” vs “and the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it.”   If one actually looks at the context (as apparently Riplinger doesn’t), the only people in the nations are saved people.  So it becomes redundant to put Riplinger’s phrase in there.

As with the previous chart claims, there is nothing substantiating Riplinger’s charges.

10.  The chart on p. 274 has one verse from the Living Bible (a paraphrase) which shows “Universalism” vs “Christianity.”  The one passage is 1 Tim. 3:16:  “Christ. . .was accepted by men everywhere” vs “preached unto the Gentiles.”  Riplinger is again being dishonest.  The parallel to the KJV in the LB is, “preached among the nations.”  These say the very same thing!  The passage which is supposed to be showing universalism is paralleled by KJV’s “believed on in the world.”  Again, the phrases are synonymous!

11.  Buried in a chart full of rhetoric on p. 275 are two claims against the NAS under “Apostate Christianity.”  The first attack lists the word “proclaiming” vs many passages in the KJV which use the word “preaching” instead.  This is rank foolishness, since in this context the two words are synonymous.  I really have to ask how this is “apostate.”!
The second passage is Rom. 8:2, where the NAS says, “Jesus Christ has set you free” vs the KJV which says, “Jesus Christ hath set me free,” and then she says to “see Gal. 5:1.”  I don’t understand her reference to Galatians, since that passage in every version says, Christ has set/made “us” free.  The context in Romans is indeed “me,” since Paul is talking about himself, but the use of the plural “you” in the NAS would include Paul.  The meaning doesn’t change, so I’m at a loss to see how this is “apostate.”

12.  Riplinger has one more claim against other version Bibles in this chapter; while the KJV in many passages refers to “the way,” newer versions refer to “the Way” (“Way” being capitalized).  To “prove” the problem with this usage, Riplinger cites pagan religious systems which call their belief “the Way,” and cites New Age writers as using “the Way” to describe their various teachings.  Therefore, as Riplinger makes out, Bible versions using a capital letter are promoting the same thing as the Eastern and New Age religions.  However, the actual reason that the new versions use the upper case for “Way” is because of its association with God/Christ, just as they capitalize “the Word” when referring to Scripture.  It is a non sequitur logic fallacy to say that this is proof of New Age” teachings in new Bibles.

13.  So, let’s look at the charges Riplinger has made in Chapter 6.

a.  “A gospel” vs “The gospel,” with claims that “a” replaces “the” and changes the context.  Proven to be wrong about the claim.

b. A message” vs “The word,” the claim being that “message” isn’t precise as to the “Word” of God.  We saw in context that the two words were actually synonymous.

c. A God” vs “the God” again is synonymous in context.

d. A Son” vs “the Son” has the same claims refuted as the previous “a” vs “the” examples.

e.  “A Savior” vs “the Saviour”; like all the previous “a” vs “the” claims, was dismantled.

f.  “Antichrist” vs “Lord Jesus” claims the “keys to God’s kingdom” are hidden and we discovered that there is nothing hidden.

g.  “The Beast” vs “The Blood” supposedly has new versions dropping the mention of the blood of Jesus, yet this was proven to again be an invalid charge.

h.  “New Age Avatar” vs “Suffering Saviour” had absolutely no evidence to substantiate her claim.

i.  “God in All” vs “God in Christians” was another poor claim demonstrated to be false.

j.   “Antichrist: King of Nations” vs “Christ: King of Saints.”  Another weak claim dismantled.

k.  Claims of “Universalism” and “Apostate Christianity” were proven false.

l.  The foolishness of “the Way” being New Age was examined.

m.  Claims against “NIV, NASB, et al.” very often proven that only one Bible has the problem, and usually it’s an obscure version or a paraphrase.

n.  Dishonest handling of the texts used for comparison.

I’d say that, with only 16 chapters examined, Riplinger has continued to be shown as one who doesn’t understand context, who is paranoid about word meanings, who is, by all appearances, intentionally deceptive to make her charges look firm, as one who is not a credible author.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Random Aberrations, Apostasies, and Heresies

I’m going to start with some items I first read about on Erin Benziger’s blog over the past couple of weeks (yes, I know she’s a staunch Calvinist, but she has some good stuff nevertheless).  It’s good to get these alerts about false teachings in as many places as possible!

I haven’t liked Francis Chan since I first heard of him because he is one of those “touchy-feely” preachers.  Over the past year I have learned that he is supportive of Roman Catholicism, and he has not only endorsed IHOP’s false prophet Mike Bickle, but expresses how much he loves him.  Now Chan thinks God has asked him to write his new book.  My question is this: Since Chan promotes false teaching and false teachers, why would God choose him to write a book?

Jonathan Cahn, of “The Harbinger” fame, has a new book which “you can’t afford NOT to read.”  Charlatans like Cahn, with all the “secrets” they’ve discovered, get rich off the gullible — especially non-discerning Christians!

False prophet and teacher Paula White is fleecing the sheep again.  She says that “God has shown her that ‘this is a season of victory for His people.’ The Christian minister also reveals a strong feeling ‘that a seed of $229 in accordance with 1 Chronicles 22:9 is a breakthrough seed for the month of July,’ and declares to recipients of her newsletter, ‘Do not hesitate to follow a prophetic instruction!’”  And I have a bridge in Brooklyn I’ll sell you.  
Why aren’t White and her ilk afraid of God when they blaspheme Him like that?

Can someone please explain how this is proper stewardship of God’s money, and just how this glorifies God or advances His kingdom?

Interesting article about the cult of Mark Driscoll, and the meltdown of his “church.”

Good ol’ Ed Young; his sermons seem to be about as worldly and entertaining as any seeker “church” can get.

The depravity entering the church at large is reaching new heights.

Thanks to Erin for alerting us all to these false teachers so we can avoid them like a plague.

Roman Catholicism never ceases to amaze me with their unbiblical ideas.

Mormon Coffee had an interesting article showing a likely place where Joseph Smith found all the names he used in the Book of Mormon.

On top of that, MC had a great example of the lies Mormons tell on their tours. (I’ve taken tours in Nauvoo and encountered similar examples.)

When it comes to dealing with Mormons, Christians are too easily turned into pretzels because they can’t even defend their own beliefs.  I watched this video of someone role-playing a Mormon to unsuspecting Christians.  It was quite frustrating for me to listen to these students “go down in flames” trying to respond.  It is a good lesson about being prepared.

Andy Stanley thinks we should stop saying “the Bible says.”  His reasoning is totally illogical.  I think Stanley needs to find another job.

The Church of England continues its spiral to total apostasy; they have now approved the ordaining of women bishops.  I think Stan has a good commentary on the issue.  (Yes, I know Stan is also a die-hard Calvinist, but he also has some excellent articles.)

Too often I get asked if I have taken my beef about false teachers/prophets to the individuals I expose, and the persons asking me always cite Matthew 18.  I keep pointing out that Matthew is about someone who sins against you personally and not about exposing in public those who teach falsely in public.  The Lighthouse Trails Research blog had an excellent article on the topic.

Elizabeth Prata had an excellent article with a good point about how Joel Osteen rarely mentions the name of Jesus — false teachers don’t like to mention Christ.

The best approach to Osteen’s teachings has to be this one which shows the application of “Osteen-isms” to those who are poor.

Finally, something to think about with the world of liberal churches and church leaders — they are nothing more than goatherds with fields of goats.  Which is why they are multiplying.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Did They Really Say That?!?

God never made something out of nothing; it is not in the economy or law by which the worlds were, are, or will exist.  There is an eternity before us, and it is full of matter; and if we but understand enough of the Lord and his ways, we would say that he took of this matter and organized the earth from it.  How long has been organized it is not for me to say, and I do not care anything about it.

Brigham Young, 14 May 1871, Journal of Discourses, 14:116

According to the Bible, nothing existed before God created everything from nothing:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  Gen 1:1

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”  John 1:3

For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.”  Col. 1:16

“In the beginning” means that there was nothing before God created time.  Matter is something, which means it had to be created.  Mormons need for matter to be existent because they have to have an eternal regression of gods begetting gods.  However, Scripture is plain that there is only one God who is eternally existent, with no gods before or after him (Isa. 43:10).

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Saviour

Thou God of all Grace, 

Thou hast given me a Saviour,
produce in me a faith to live by him, to make him all my desire,
all my hope, all my glory.

May I enter him as my refuge, build on him my foundation,
walk in him as my way, follow him as my guide,
conform to him as my example, 
receive his instructions as my prophet, 
rely on his intercession as my high priest, 
obey him as my king.

May I never be ashamed of him or his words, 
but joyfully bear his reproach,
never displease him by unholy or imprudent conduct,
never count it a glory if I take it patiently when buffeted for a fault,
never make the multitude my model,
never delay when thy Word invites me to advance.

May the dear Son preserve me from this present evil world,
so that its smiles never allure, nor its frowns terrify,
nor its vices defile, nor its errors delude me.

May I feel that I am a stranger and a pilgrim on earth,
declaring plainly that I seek a country, 
my title to it becoming daily more clear, 
my meetness for it more perfect,
my foretastes of it more abundant;
and whatsoever I do may it be done
in the Saviour’s name.

From The Valley of Vision, Puritan Prayers and Devotions, p.78-79

Friday, July 11, 2014

Random Aberrations, Apostasies, and Heresies

Well, boys and girls, it’s that time again for another collection of foolishness in the Church, as well as all other types of things brought into it by the master of ceremonies - Satan.

Let’s start with Hillsong Church, a bastion of the aberrant.  Did you know that Christians and Muslims serve the same God?  I think Mr. Houston needs to study up on Islam, because the god of Islam is a false god.

But, hey, false teachings abounding somewhere certainly won’t stop Rick Warren from being a guest at one of their conferences!  (OH, wait — that’s right, Warren also believes Islam worships the same God as do Christians.)  And, of course, you should notice that Mr. porno-vision Mark Driscoll will also be “blessing” them with his attendance.

Speaking of Mark Driscoll, his church just keeps getting more and more bizarre — now they have “demon trials”!

Elizabeth Prata has a great “one-stop shopping” post for her articles exposing Beth Moore as a false teacher.  If that isn’t enough to convince you, take a look at my reviews of some of her teachings: 
A bit about Believing God” DVD series.
More about Believing God” DVD series.
A review of “Breaking Free

I have been around many charismatics who are always “binding” Satan.  I try to not laugh at their deception, but I do ask them to show me from Scripture where that is found, and if they bind Satan, how come he keeps getting loose?  Clint Archer explains why you shouldn’t try to bind Satan.

Mormon Coffee has an interesting article about the so-called golden plates from which Joseph Smith “translated” the Book of Mormon.

Mormon Curtain also examines some claims about the Book of Mormon.

When it comes to pagan celebrations advertised as being “Christian,” I think the Wild Goose is as demonic as it gets.

Over the past few years I keep reading about how the Calvary Chapel movement (denomination?) continues imbibing the whole mystical element of worship which is invading the church.  It seems to be getting so bad that another church has left them.

Ever wonder about the origin of Roman Catholics praying to Mary?  I found the answer this week.

Finally, some more excellent articles from the Christian Research & Apologetics Ministry, some of which were posted on Facebook this week.
What do Christadelphians teach?

What does the International Church of Christ teach?

Is the International Church of Christ a cult? (yes)

The Queen James Bible, the Gay Bible

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A Call For Discernment

Thirteen years ago I picked up this book by Jay E. Adams and found it to be an excellent thought-provoking read.  The ten chapters are titled, “The Lack of Spiritual Discernment,” “What Caused This Lack?” “What Is Spiritual Discernment?” “The Basic Problem,” “Concern to Discern,” “Learn to Discern,” “A Program,” “Discernment in Giving,” “Some Trial Materials,” and the “Conclusion.”

I have used it off and on over the years for some of Adams’ quotes, but my book shelves are filling to the point where I need to keep only those items which are used most often for research.  So, I have a friend to whom I am passing this 139-page jewel, but before I do so, I want to share with you a few of the excellent thoughts on discernment by Dr. Adams.

Today the church is confused. Siren voices call to her from every side.  False teaching and heresy abound.  Many Christians fall prey, because they simply do not know how to distinguish truth from error.  Slogans are bandied about: ‘All truth is God’s truth.’  Naturally, if it is truth it is God’s.  No one in his right mind would deny that.  But it is also a fact that ‘all error is the devil’s error.’  Now where are we?  Back to square one.  We must still distinguish God’s truth from the devil’s error; sloganizing won’t do that for us.”  Introduction

Many people leave the thinking to others.  They do not learn to discern. ‘After all, why bother? My church will take care of those matters.’  Where are the Bereans today, those believers who diligently examined the Scriptures to see if what Paul and Silas taught was true (Acts 17:11).” p.16,17

While speaking of abortion, it is sad to notice how in their desire to thwart the abortion movement many well-meaning Christians unintentionally exalt man by declaring him to be of infinite worth.  Abortion should not be fought on the basis that killing a human being is wrong because he or she is so valuable, but on the basis that, when a child bearing God’s image is slaughtered, it is God who is attacked because that child bears His image.  If you tear up a picture of my wife, you’ll have me to answer to — not because of the intrinsic worth or value of the paper and print that you destroyed, but because you have insulted my wife.  And attack on the image of God is serious, not because of man’s supposed great worth, but because of the One whose image he reflects.”  p.18-19

There are those Christians who laud Alcoholics Anonymous because ‘their method works’ or because ‘they are doing so much good.’  Little do they realize that AA insults the true God in its 12 steps by allowing participants to acknowledge any ‘power greater than myself’ as god.  Nor is there any discernment of the fact that AA’s help is far different from the help offered to drunkards in the Bible.  It takes spiritual discernment to understand the great difference between AA telling members that they will always be alcoholics who must fight against drunkenness every day the rest of their lives and the apostle Paul writing of those who in Christ have put off drunkenness once and for all (1 Corinthians 6:9ff.)”  p.19

Listening to Christians talk, watching them purchase materials in Christian bookstores, and hearing their comments about sermons and radio broadcasts is like observing a color-blind painter trying to distinguish chips on a color chart.  The effect of their lack of discernment is often like that of a tone-deaf singer in a congregation whose singing throws everyone around him off key.  The sheer quantity and variety of religious output today, to say nothing of non-Christian offerings from untold sources, fairly screams for Christians to develop sharper powers of discernment.  So much chaff must be removed in order to get at the wheat!”  p.21

Perhaps the most obvious difficulty, once you become aware of it, is the collapse of church discipline.  When the church is actively at work caring for its members, as it should by applying the healing balm of church discipline, discernment grows.  It grows both among those who are disciplined and those who administer the discipline.

“Discipline, by its very nature, requires discernment.  Discipline calls for discrimination — distinguishing between those who are right and those who are wrong (and in what ways) in particular cases.  Ultimately, in church discipline, you determine who must be retained and who must be put out of the church.  Such activities, when properly pursued, cannot be carried out in a sloppy, unthinking way.  Equally, in all that it does, the disciplining body must show concern for the honor of God’s name, the welfare of the congregation, and the reclamation of the offender.  It must be neither soft nor harsh.  Such balance calls for spiritual discernment of the highest sort.  So-called ‘petty’ issues are seen in their try light as rebellion against Christ’s authority vested in His church when they come under the focus of church discipline. … Decisions of momentous import must be made. So . . . the very process of church discipline is largely a process of discernment.

“. . . lack of discernment and lack of church discipline walk side by side. Not only does the same mentality lead to both lacks, but by rejecting discipline one naturally downplays the very concerns that make him discerning.  When churches overreacted to the abuse of discipline that was all too common in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by virtually eliminating church discipline, the broken dike cleared the way for the liberal takeover of the church and allowed the ways of the world to flood in.

“Church discipline erects a barrier between the church and the world; when it is removed, it becomes impossible to distinguish the two.  With the removal of this barrier, the church was inundated by persons who's profession of faith was at best suspect.  These marginal persons brought new concerns, perspectives, and attitudes into the church and directed her into different pathways.  The church, to a great extent, began to think and act like the world.  As the church became secularized, interest in spiritual discernment waned.”  p.27-28

Perhaps you have wondered about the principle underlying the clean/unclean distinctions of the Old Testament.  Various rationales have been given for some of these distinctions, yet many seem to be purely arbitrary.  May I suggest that all problems of arbitrariness are resolved when you see the clean/unclean system as a means of alerting the Jew to the fact that all day long, every day, in whatever he does, he must consciously choose God’s way.  Choices about food, clothing, farming techniques, justice, health care, holidays, and methods of worship were made either God’s way or some other way.  In other words, the clean/unclean system was designed to develop in God’s people an antithetical mentality.  Forbidding the mixing of materials in clothing, for example, doesn’t seem so arbitrary after all when considered in the light of the biblical concern to create an antithetical posture toward life.”   p.32

On p.37, Adams cites Jack Gordon, the editor of Training magazine, in an article titled “On Giving Offense,” in the Sep. 1986 issue:  “. . . at some point in the past several years we crossed an invisible line between self-assertion and self-righteousness, and turned into a society of perpetually indignant prigs.  . . . I submit that people are entirely too horrified by the possibility of offending someone. . . .  I’m talking about the remarkable degree to which we’ve bought into the premise that the offender is always right.

Discernment, the capacity to separate truth from error, is vitally important.  The church cannot do without it.  Apart from spiritual discernment it is impossible to determine and follow Romans 12:2…”  p.51-52

It is not general experience that produces godly discernment, but only experience in using God’s Word to determine God’s will.”  p.64

On p.69 Adams cites an unnamed professor:  “Open minds are like open windows; you have to put in screens to keep the bugs out.

Coming to the Scriptures for any purpose other than to discover and believe truth is contrary to and utterly defeats the discernment process.  Through discernment, error is detected in order to enable a person to distinguish it from truth so that he may learn and live by the truth.”  p.72

To ‘prove’ or ‘test’ (literally, to approve by testing) in 1 Thessalonians 5:21 means to assay content as a metallurgist does.  It means to determine the genuineness of a preachers’ or writer’s coin.  There is plenty of spiritual currency abroad, some genuine but much counterfeit.  Every Christian, therefore, must so familiarize himself with the truth that he may readily distinguish between the spurious and the true. … The Scriptures are the touchstone against which all coins must be struck.” p.74,75

Well, I could go on but this post has been a bit long!  Adams continues with teaching how one learns to discern, and even a chapter of example statements one needs to discern for problems.

Pick up a copy.  It will be worth your while.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Christianity Does NOT Equal Patriotism

Something that disturbs me around national holidays is how the in the assembly we tend to sing patriotic songs.  While I think there is nothing wrong with a brief mention about honoring those who have died to protect our freedom to worship on Memorial Day, or a brief mention of our nation’s founding providing a country with freedom to practice religion on Independence Day, or a brief mention to recognize those who have served and are serving in the military to continue to protecting our freedom to worship on Veteran’s Day, I don’t think it is appropriate to sing songs about patriotism to the USA.

Our times for worship should not be directed at “worship” of the nation; this is why so many non-believers see Christians as a danger to their freedoms — the belief that Christians want a theocracy.  While there are “Dominionists” and “Reconstructionists” who truly are seeking theocratic government, the majority of Christians are not seeking such nonsense.

Songs like “God Bless America,” “America the Beautiful,” “America,” et al, are great for singing in other venues, but let’s keep the focus of worship times on the worship of God.