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
Therefore let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favor of that side will be cast the vote of truth. --Basil of Caesarea
Once you learn to discern, there's no going back. You will begin to spot the lie everywhere it appears.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service. 1 Timothy 1:12

Friday, August 31, 2012

A Parable

There once was a great man who was a ship-builder.  One day he decided to build the best luxury ship in the world, but with a capacity for 1000 people who would be under his authority while they cruised.

The ship was launched and sailed for many months until one day the people on board thought they could make it into a better ship.  So they started pulling pieces apart and rearranging things but, while doing so, they didn’t realize they were causing structural damage.  Suddenly, while in the middle of shark-infested waters ten miles from the nearest land, the ship sank so rapidly that no one was able to get into life-boats and all 1000 people were left swimming.

The ship-builder had been sailing nearby in a fast, huge ship, and he was quickly on the scene throwing out life preservers to everyone in the water.  Many people quickly grabbed the life preservers and were pulled in.  Many more, however, thought they could get safely to land on their own and kept swimming, heedless of the sharks around them and the distance to go.

The shipbuilder offered every one of those people the chance to be saved by merely grabbing the life preserver, yet many rejected the offer because of their pride, and those who didn’t accept the offer drowned or were eaten by the sharks.

Then the reporters questioned the shipbuilder: Didn’t he know that not everyone would want to accept his offer?  Of course he did, but he gave them the choice anyway, because he was merciful.  It wasn’t his fault if they rejected his offer of the life preserver, and he certainly wasn’t going to force them to accept what they didn’t want.  But, the reporters asked, didn’t that take away from the shipbuilder’s authority over those people?  No, the shipbuilder said, because he could have sent his helicopter crews to force them to be saved, but he thought it best to let them make their own choices.  Although he is merciful, he will not force people to accept his mercy.

When reporters later asked the survivors about how they were saved, not one of them took credit for themselves; they all said they were saved by the shipbuilder. After all, they had no way of saving themselves, and by merely choosing to take hold of the preserver they didn’t contribute in any way to their being saved.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Christian Liberty and Entertainment

Principles For Living God’s Glory

1.  The Edification Principle: Will this activity produce spiritual benefits?
In 1 Corinthians 10:23, Paul explained that “all things are lawful, but not all things are profitable.  All things are lawful, but not all things edify.”... So based on this verse, believers should ask themselves, “Will doing this activity enhance my spiritual life and the spiritual lives of others?  Will it cultivate godliness in me and in them?  WIll it build us up spiritually?”  If not, then is it really a wise choice?

2.  The Enslavement Principle:  Will this activity lead to spiritual bondage?
...Don’t allow yourself to become addicted or enslaved to that which is sinful or even just potentially destructive.  If what you are considering can be habit-forming, why pursue it?  Don’t allow yourself to be in bondage to anything or anyone.  You are a slave of the Lord Jesus Christ, and Him alone.

3.  The Exposure Principle:  Will this activity expose my mind or body to defilement?
Speaking specifically of sexual immorality, Paul commanded the Corinthians to avoid anything that might defile them.  “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?  For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).  Elsewhere, he told the Ephesians to reprove and avoid the sensual deeds that characterize the wicked, “for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret” (Ephesians 5:12).  Instead, believers are to dwell on those things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, excellent, praiseworthy, and of good repute (Philippians 4:8).  So ask yourself if the decision you are about to make will expose you to the sinful, lewd, and debauched elements of fallen society.  If it will, then stay away from it. ... Thus, anything that defiles your body or pollutes your mind ought to be avoided.

4.  The Esteem Principle:  Will this activity benefit others, or cause them to stumble?
[1 Corinthians 8:8-9, 12-13; Philippians 2:1-5]
... If you know that your choice - what you consider “in bounds” and approved by God - will cause another Christian to stumble and sin, love that brother or sister enough to restrict your own freedom.  That is not very popular in our self-absorbed society, but it is biblical.

5.  The Evangelism Principle:  Will this activity further the cause of the gospel?
... Christians should always consider how their actions will affect their witness to a watching world. ... Whether or not you are aware of it, what you allow or disallow in your behavior affects your witness for Christ.  It is an issue of testimony - what your life says about God - to the friends, relatives, coworkers, neighbors, or even strangers who might be watching you.  Your testimony either tells the truth about God, or it tells a lie.  The choices you make in the gray areas should reflect your concern not to bring offense to God’s reputation but to bring Him praise instead.

6.  The Ethics Principle:  Will this activity violate my conscience?
... “He who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23).  We sin if we act in any way that goes contrary to the convictions of our own faith and good conscience. ... Never train yourself to violate your conscience.  If your conscience is troubled by what you are thinking about doing, don’t do it.  If you are not sure about it, don’t do it.  It is hard to overstate the value of a clear conscience, and it is definitely worth keeping your conscience clear so that your relationship with God will not be hindered. (cf. Psalm 66:18).

7.  The Exaltation Principle: Will this activity bring glory to God?
The summary and goal of the aforementioned six principles is found in this one.  Paul declared, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). ... Our heart’s cry is to glorify our Lord and Savior with our lives.  So when it comes to the gray areas, think about your decision.  Will God be glorified, praised, and exalted?  We genuinely honor Him when we make choices that are consistent with the principles found in His Word.  On the flip side, when we make foolish and sinful choices, our actions dishonor Him.  If an activity will glorify God, then do it.  It if won’t, or if it is questionable, then do something else.

A Few More Thoughts About the World of Entertainment.
The Seven principles we’ve examined can apply to every gray area in life, including those related to entertainment, amusement, and leisure.  At the same time, however, there are some additional principles that are specifically helpful in considering how we choose to be entertained.  ...

The Lordship of Christ Demands Good Stewardship
...[A]sk yourself how much real benefit you receive by watching television and movies or playing video games, and how that compares to the time you spend in spiritual pursuits.  How much money do you spend on temporal amusements, and how does that relate to your eternal investments?  How hard do you labor not to advance your own agenda but to further the work of Christ’s kingdom?  These are heart questions every believer needs to ask.  As stewards of the King (Matthew 25:14-30), we have been called to so much more than our own entertainment.

The Lordship of Christ Denounces Impurity and Worldliness
Ephesians 5:3-4 has excellent words in this regard: “Immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.”  Those two verses alone rule out much of what passes as entertainment in our world today - sexual immorality and impurity, dirty jokes and silly talk, and anything that promotes greed or undermines the giving of thanks.  That list is a pretty good summary of what is wrong with much of contemporary American media.

Movies, for example, are usually rated according to language, violence, sexual content, and thematic elements.  Many of them are not just non-Christian, they are anti-Christian. I don’t mean that they openly attack the Christian faith [often they do, though].  But at least in some cases they might as well.  They employ filthy language and lewd humor...; they glorify violence rather than peace...; they glamorize lust and immorality rather than holiness...; they instill feelings of discontentment and desire rather than thankfulness...; and they promote worldviews that are antithetical to biblical Christianity....  Does this mean a Christian should never watch movies?  Not necessarily.  But we must be discriminating about the things we allow in our minds.  We are called to renew our minds.... When we continually fill our minds with the filth of this world, we do ourselves a great spiritual disservice.

The Lordship of Christ Determines Right Priorities
Our media-driven culture has redefined the pursuit of happiness.  The American Dream - which used to consist of a loving family, a nice house, a white picket fence - now includes instant fame, endless riches, easy romance, and the blank-check promise that anyone can achieve his or her dreams.  Reality television and the rise of the Internet are perhaps somewhat to blame for this phenomenon.  But ultimately the problem lies in the human heart.

We were created to long for satisfaction, fulfillment, and joy, and those desires are good in and of themselves.  But our fallen world tries to meet those desires with money, romance, fame, and other earthly pleasures.  Yet temporal things can never bring lasting satisfaction to a heart that was created to find its ultimate joy in God. ...

Christians should not allow entertainment to define their understanding of happiness, romance, modesty, masculinity, success, fulfillment, justice, or anything else.  The Word and the Spirit should shape our worldview, not Hollywood.  Sadly, however, many Christians today are more affected by the movies they watch than the sermons they hear.  They show more enthusiasm for video games or television sporting events than they do for pursuing Christlikeness.  They fill their minds with the sounds of talk radio or perhaps the latest hit albums rather than letting the Word of Christ richly dwell within them.  Deep down, they enjoy exploring the pleasures of the world - even if only vicariously - as they watch actors play out scenes in which sinful pursuits are seemingly rewarded with happiness.  The irony, of course, is than in real life those same actors are just as miserable as everyone else, a sobering reality that keeps supermarket tabloids in business.

Our priorities, passions, plans, and pursuits must be grounded in our love for Jesus Christ.  Only in Him can we find true satisfaction....

The Lordship of Christ Defines a Proper Perspective
Right priorities and godly passions stem out of a proper perspective - a heavenly mind-set that understands eternal realities and interprets this life accordingly.  If this world were all there was, we would be wise to amass treasure and search for happiness in the here and now.  But that is not reality.  This world is not all there is.

Reality, as revealed by the truth of Scripture, encompasses much more than the temporal pleasures, priorities, and pursuits of this world.  God is real; His Word is real; heaven and hell are real; the gospel is real; Jesus is real; His death, resurrection, and ascension are all real, as is the fact that He will soon be coming back.  The brevity of this life is real; the certainty of death is real; the promise of future reward is real; and the threat of eternal destruction is also real.  In contrast, the world of entertainment is not real.  In fact, most entertainment is about escaping from reality, not portraying it accurately.

As Christians, our worldview must be grounded in reality, not in the imaginary worlds of Hollywood.  People can deny reality, and the can distract themselves with fantasy, but they cannot change the fact that one day they will stand before God (Hebrews 9:27).  At that moment, the riches, pleasures, and accomplishments of this world will be of no use to them.

John MacArthur, Right Thinking In A World Gone Wrong, pp. 18-27

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Orthodoxy Leads to Orthopraxy

Claiming that Scripture is true and complete should preclude evangelicals from turning to other sources for establishing thought and life.  Yet many do just that.  In cosmology, for example, a straightforward reading of Genesis 1-2 is often dismissed on the basis of modern evolutionary theories.  In apologetics, philosophy and human reason frequently take precedence over Scripture.  And in church growth, demographic surveys, marketing techniques, and a man-centered theology with a watered-down gospel override clear biblical truth.

To this list, the subject of morality and ethics must be added.  Instead of looking to the Bible, many professing Christians look to psychology and sociology for supposed solutions to personal needs and social ills.  The rise of postmodern thought has similarly skewed the church’s understanding of right and wrong - as an unbiblical tolerance (in the name of love) has weakened churches to the point where they are as soft on truth as they are on sin.  Popular television shows, from Oprah to The Tonight Show to the average sitcom, have had a tangible effect (and not for the better) on how American Christians think through everyday issues.  The political arena, too, has played a major role in shaping an evangelical understanding of morality, as words such as Republican and Democrat or liberal and conservative have come to redefine the difference between what is good and what is evil.

The fact is the far too many professing Christians live their lives, day in and day out, on the basis of something other than the Bible.  As a result, their priorities reflect the world’s priorities, not God’s.  Their patterns of behavior and their plans for future differ only slightly from those of their unsaved friends and neighbors.  Their expenditures reveal that their perspective is temporal, and that they are vainly pursuing the elusive American Dream.  Their shortcomings, when they admit them, receive the same fault-free labels that the world ascribes (“mistakes” or “diseases” or “addictions” rather than “sins”), as they search for answers in psychology, medication, or the self-help section of the bookstore. Though they adhere to an external form of traditional Christian moralism, there isn’t anything particularly biblical or Christ-centered about how they live.

Yet it is in the lives of sinners who have been transformed by the gospel of grace that a distinctly Christian ethic must be fleshed out.  True Christianity is not defined on the basis of external moralism, religious traditionalism, or partisan politics, but on the basis of a personal love for Jesus Christ and a desire to follow Him no matter what the cost (John 14:15).  It is only because believers have been transformed on the inside (through the regeneration of the Holy Spirit) that they are able to exhibit godliness in their behavior.  And the world cannot help but take notice.  As Jesus told His hearers in the Sermon on the Mount, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16; df. 1 Peter 2:12).

The Heart of the Christian Ethic
The heart of the Christian ethic, of course, is the gospel.  Only those who have been transformed from within (Titus 3:5-8), being indwelt by the Spirit of God (Romans 8:13-14), are able to exhibit genuine holiness (Galatians 5:22-23; 1 Peter 1:16).  Biblical Christianity is not primarily concerned with external behavior modification (cf. Matthew 5-7), but with a change of heart that subsequently manifests itself in a changed life (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

A true Christian ethic, then, is not possible without the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit.  Unless the inner man is washed first, external morality and religious observances are only a superficial facade.  Jesus rebuked the hypocrites of His day with these words: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness” (Matthew 23:27).  Christ was not saying that behavior is unimportant.  But rather that from God’s perspective, the heart is what matters most (cf.1 Samuel 16:7; Mark 12:30-31).

Of course, a heart that has been truly transformed by God will respond in love to His Son, Jesus Christ (cf. John 8:42).  And those who love Jesus Christ will eagerly desire to follow and obey His commands (John 14:15), as found in His Word (cf. Colossians 3:16).  A truly Christian ethic, then, eagerly affirms and applies the moral instructions found in the Bible.  But it does not do so in an attempt to legalistically earn salvation (Isaiah 64:6).  Rather, having received salvation as the free gift of God through faith in Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9), it readily obeys out of a heart of love (Ephesians 2:10).

If Christians are to live in keeping with who they are as children of God, they must live according to the Word of God through the power of His Spirit.  No other source of wisdom or moral insight will do.  By definition, they are people of the Book - and not just on Sundays, but every day of the week (cf. Isaiah 66:2).
Critics and skeptics (and sometimes even professing Christians) may claim that the Bible is not sophisticated enough for modern times.  Such claims only expose their own foolishness.  The Bible is absolutely pure, flawless, and error-free.  There is no need to update, edit, or refine it.  It is perfect.  When I was in college I learned about philosophy.  Almost every philosophy I studied was already long dead.  I also had to learn about psychology.  Almost every form of psychotherapy I read about back then is now obsolete and has been replaced by new theories or techniques.  But there’s one thing that never changes, and that is the eternal Word of God.  It is always relevant.

John MacArthur, Right Thinking In A World Gone Wrong, pp. 7-9, 12.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Some Good Stuff

Most of the time I use this blog to warn of false teachers and false teachings.  But sometimes I use it for posting good thoughts and teachings, as well as thought-provoking items about theology or apologetics in general.  Today’s post will be some links to some good teaching; things which I found edifying and want to share with other believers.

Apprising Ministries is one of the many good blogs I follow, and which I highly recommend for daily doses of what’s happening in the Church.  A couple weeks ago Ken posted an article about why the sin of homosexuality is so different from other sins, and why sexual immorality in general is worse that most sins.  Hint: 1 Corinthians 6:18.

Another blog I like to follow is the Cripplegate.  The same day Ken posted his article about homosexuality, the Cripplegate had a good article about the Lord’s Supper and its purpose.

Many of our youth pastors in the Church seem to be very immature in their own walk, and often are more prone to be “buddies” than mentors.  I’ve seen this in every church I’ve attended.  These leaders provide a lot of spiritual “junk food” but not much meat.  An excellent article by Dave Hinkley gives some important advice for youth ministers.

Yvonne over at “...and the world hears them” has posted an article by Dr. Paul Elliot discussing Colossians 2:8-23.  Satan is the great counterfeiter, and that is something we all need to be aware of.

An older article which I stumbled across defines marriage in a biblical worldview.  It’s definitely an article worth passing along.

A major problem in the Church today is that sin is often covered or justified to the point where we call good evil.  This happens often in regards to apologetics ministries; we are railed at for exposing sin and false teachings in the Church, as if it is evil to do so.  Warren Smith has an encouraging article with Biblical rebuttals to all the charges against apologists.

Be encouraged, fellow believers, and be Bereans!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Are We Too "Negative"?

I found this excellent article, which gives biblical support for apologetics - including the charge of “naming names.”  It comes from The Berean Call.

Are We Too "Negative"?
Dave Hunt
Originally Published October 1991

Critics have long leveled the charge of “divisive” and “negative” against those who would warn the church of unbiblical teachings and practices. I prayerfully consider such accusations, for my heart echoes the same concern. I long just to preach the gospel and to put behind me the controversy that has become such an unwelcome part of my life. Yet in preaching the pure gospel one must carefully distinguish it from the clever counterfeits all around.

How negligent it would be not to warn the sheep of poisoned pastures and false shepherds who promote lies in the name of truth. Yet the odds are staggering. Norman Vincent Peale’s magazines, for example, have 16 million readers monthly, many times our small circulation! The flesh faints with weariness and frustration. Then why persist in a task so lonely and burdensome? Yes, why this burning passion?

There are, thank God, the many letters of encouragement from those who offer their love, support, and prayers. There are, too, the earnest “thank you’s” from the thousands who have been set free from the delusion and bondage of false gospels—from Catholicism and “Christian psychology” to positive/possibility thinking and positive confession. Yet even without any such encouragement we would be compelled to carry on and would urge you to do the same.

Jeremiah was hated, maligned, imprisoned, and threatened with death because he preached repentance and warned of God’s impending judgment when the “positive prophets” promised peace and prosperity “by the word of the Lord.” Popular opinion opposed him. He became so discouraged that he declared that he would no longer speak for God nor even mention His name. But God’s Word was in his heart and burned like a fire in his bones, so that he had to speak (Jer 20). Yes, above all, it is God’s Word burning within that compels us.

Distressed by accusations of “negativism,” I cry out to God and turn to His unfailing Word. And what do I find there? The very message I am constrained to preach! Christ himself was far more “negative” than I have dared to be. He continually warned of judgment and hell, exposed sin, demanded repentance, rebuked the religious leaders and indicted them as hypocrites, whited sepulchers, blind leaders of the blind, fools. Without doubt, He would be banned from most Christian pulpits and media today!

The Sermon on the Mount is not intended to enhance one’s “self-esteem.” It encourages one to be poor in spirit, to mourn, to be meek and merciful, and promises that those who are true to God and His Word will be hated, persecuted, and vilified (Mt 5). But didn’t Jesus say, “Judge not, that ye be not judged” (Mt 7:1)? Isn’t it unbiblical, then, to accuse a Christian leader of any wrong? On the contrary, Christ could only have meant that we were not to judge motives , for He clearly told us to judge teaching and lives: “Beware of false prophets [i.e., teachers]... by their fruits [lives] ye shall know them” (vv. 15-20). Surely He is calling us to judge false doctrine and deeds!

When Paul exhorted Timothy to “preach the word,” he explained that to do so one must “reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Tm:4:2). Paul warned of “vain talkers and deceivers...whose mouths must be stopped [from teaching false doctrine].” He urged Titus to “rebuke them sharply” (Ti:1:10-13). He told Timothy, “Them that sin rebuke before all [i.e., publicly], that others also may fear” (1 Tm:5:20). Clearly such reproof requires a judging that does not violate Christ’s prohibition but which, in fact, He commanded and the apostles practiced—a judging which Satan hates because it unmasks his lies.

The International Genocide Treaty signed by President Reagan in November 1988, makes it a crime to try to convert anyone of another religion or to suggest that their beliefs are wrong. It will soon be a serious crime to call homosexuality a sin. The day is coming when, to protect “minority rights,” we will be prohibited by law from preaching the gospel except in the most “positive” manner. Sadly, much of the evangelical church has already conformed.

It is not enough simply to “preach the truth” when there are lies that counterfeit it so closely that many can’t tell the difference. It is both logically and scripturally essential to expose and refute today’s pernicious false gospels. Yet to do so is to be opposed by church leaders and barred from most platforms. I am banned even from such evangelical networks as Moody Radio lest I expose the humanism they promote in the name of “Christian psychology.” Why not allow an open discussion of vital issues before the whole church? Are church leaders concerned for truth—or with protecting their own interests?

“Christian psychology” may seem to help for a time, but it undermines our real victory in Christ by redefining sin as “mental illness.” This heresy inspired a host of new terms such as obsessive-compulsive behavior, dysfunctional families, addiction—and more recently the increasingly popular co-dependency myths and Twelve Step recovery programs spawned by Alcoholics Anonymous. In 12 Steps to Destruction , the Bobgans point out that Bill Wilson, founder of AA, based his system upon what was a revolutionary new theory: that drunkenness was not a “moral defect” but an excusable “illness.” Wilson was relieved to learn that he was an “alcoholic”—a new term at the time.

Enlarging upon this lie, “Christian psychologists” have redefined as mental illness all manner of behavior that Jesus, the Great Physician, diagnosed as sin. John MacArthur tells of hearing a woman call into a “Christian psychology” radio program to confess that she couldn’t keep from having sex with anybody and everybody. She was told that her problem arose from an overbearing mother and milquetoast father and that it was an “addiction” that could take years of therapy to cure. So much for Christ’s “Go, and sin no more” (Jn:8:11). Disobeying God is no longer sin if one has a compulsion or addiction or has had a traumatic childhood.

In his book, Our Sufficiency in Christ, MacArthur writes, “The depth to which sanctified psychotherapy can sink is really quite profound. A local newspaper recently featured an article about a 34-bed clinic that has opened in Southern California to treat ‘Christian sex addicts.’ According to the article the clinic is affiliated with a large well-known Protestant church in the area.” Several leading “Christian psychologists” interviewed for the article “scoffed at the power of God’s Word to transform a heart and break the bondage of sexual sin.” The director explained that his treatment center would serve to rescue many Christians who had been taught that “the Bible is all you need.” Yet that is what the Bible itself claims and the entire church believed for 1,800 years until the advent of Christian psychology.

In The Journal of Biblical Ethics in Medicine, Dr. Robert Maddox warns that “all manner of sin...from gluttony to fornication, from stealing to bestiality...is [being] labeled as disease, to be cured with chemical, electrical and mechanical treatments.” The Bobgans also quote from University of California professor Herbert Fingarette’s book, Heavy Drinking: The Myth of Alcoholism as a Disease: “I just don’t understand why any churches would go for the disease idea...[it] denies the spiritual dimension of the whole thing.” They also quote Stanton Peele from his book, Diseasing of America: Addiction Treatment Out of Control: “...disease definitions undermine the individual’s obligations to control behavior and to answer for misconduct...[and] actually increase the incidence of the behaviors of concern.”

How astonishing that as the secular world is abandoning the sinking ship of psychotherapy, Christians are jumping aboard, imagining that this doomed vessel will not only stay afloat but add needed buoyancy to the ark God has provided!

It makes me weep to watch the growing deception, to cry out against it, and to be heeded by so few and opposed by so many. Why is that essential correction, which Scripture so clearly demands, left to a few of us nobodies and shunned by church leaders who would be heeded by millions? Write to the most influential evangelical leaders and ask how they can “preach the Word” without involving themselves in the reproof and rebuke of rampant error that Paul said must be at the very heart of biblical preaching!

Today I received a memo from a researcher who, along with her husband, is among the nobodies crying out against heresy in the church. Her concern was The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning, a Catholic, published by Multnomah Press. In part she said, “Manning teaches...that [a Christian] may continue to live a life of debauchery...describes himself as a [heavy] smoker and someone who became an alcoholic after conversion...wants active homosexuals accepted into full fellowship (p 26) along with other immoral people... teaches an eastern-type meditation (pp 43, 205-206)...twists scripture (pp 23, 28, 73, 173); he says that everyone, but the self-righteous [those that obey God by Manning’s definition], will go to heaven (pp 17, 26, 29)....This book is dangerous...a ploy by a new age Catholic to invade the evangelical church....Christian[s] must be warned that...the once trusted names of Multnomah, Thomas Nelson and Fleming Revell [to name a few] are no guarantee of orthodoxy. What a shame!”

I called her to make certain she hadn’t overstated her case. She read excerpts from the book to prove she had not. Christian publishers can no longer be trusted to publish truth but have become purveyors of death! A dump truck would not have been large enough to haul all of the heresy out of the recent Christian Booksellers convention in Orlando. Even Roman Catholic publishers of the most awful blasphemy and incredible nonsense, such as Paulist Press, were represented alongside evangelicals.

Take, for example, the booth of another Catholic publisher, Our Sunday Visitor . One of their books on display told the story of Padre Pio, a recently deceased Catholic monk admired by Pope John Paul II. Pio manifested the “stigmata,” a bleeding from his palms to make up the deficiency in Christ’s redemptive work on the cross! Pio believed he was suffering for the salvation of sinners! He claimed that literally millions of the spirits of the dead, whom he saw with his physical eyes, came to him on their way to heaven to thank him for gaining their release from purgatory! This is only one of Rome’s many heresies. I confronted Sunday Visitor employees concerning the demonic delusion promoted by their books and objected to their presence at a convention of evangelical publishers. They pointed to a nearby booth promoting horrendous, allegedly “Christian” rock music and declared, “We have as much right to be here as they do!” I could only agree.

Mission Frontiers, the bulletin of the U.S. Center for World Mission in Pasadena, California, Vol. 13, No. 4-5, has a biblical passion for world evangelization. In contrast to the Manning/Multnomah justification of smoking, the editorial declared, “Tobacco causes more deaths each year in the United States than heroin, cocaine, alcohol, AIDS, fires, homicides, suicides, and auto accidents combined....More Colombians died last year from smoking American cigarettes than did Americans from using Colombian cocaine.” “Addiction,” or sin?

The editorial also highly commended Pope John Paul II’s recent encyclical on world missions. Disappointment was expressed that the encyclical was “marred by reference at the very end to the idea that...the work of the church is done ‘together with Mary.’” Yet the encyclical was praised and an address given where it could be purchased because it spoke of “people groups,” a term in vogue at the World Center. Sadly, however, 950 million Catholics who need to be evangelized—a special “people group” comprising nearly 20 percent of the world’s population—were overlooked! The editorial, in fact, implied that Catholicism’s evangelism is biblical.

Throughout Central and South America, Catholicism is in the most blatant partnership with spiritism and paganism. In Brazil, I visited Aparecida, the largest cathedral in the world next to St. Peter’s in Rome. It is dedicated to a small idol of a “Black Virgin”—pulled from a nearby lake in a fishing net—which now performs “miracles.” The pope came recently to honor this idol. At the Mass the priest led the people in prayers and songs to the idol, asking it for salvation and dedicating their lives to it. Aparecida’s large bookstore carries many of the same “positive” books that delude Protestants—books in Portuguese by American authors, from Norman Vincent Peale to “Christian psychologists.”

Today’s evangelical leaders shun their duty to oppose heresy. Many of them promote Catholicism, occultism, and humanistic psychology. Therefore we, the nobodies, though few heed us, must cry out even louder to warn the sheep of poisoned pastures and false shepherds. “Positive” or “negative” is not the issue, but rather truth and simple obedience to our Lord and His Word.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Random Apostasies and Heresies

It has been a very busy week for me, including three days away from home, making it difficult to get much research done.  So here is another episode of exposing the darkness to the light of the truth.

David Barton has been in the apologetics and other theological news this past couple weeks, based on complaints about his misrepresentation of various historical events.  There has been so much about the issue that it is difficult to follow.  Apprising Ministries has done an excellent job of putting the information together so as to allow us to discern the truth from the evidence.  This isn’t the first time I’ve read of Barton’s misrepresentation of history.

The United Methodist denomination has been rife with apostasy for quite some time, as I have demonstrated in previous articles.  Last week I read of a Dallas UMC pastor observing Ramadan with Muslims.  I would appreciate it if someone could show me from the Bible where we are to worship with false religions; I just can’t find it.  What I DO find is that we are not to participate in idolatry!  Will this pastor be disciplined for this?  My guess would be, “no.”

Goatherd Ed Young is at it again, with his entertainment-oriented services.  Check out his “baby shark song,” and then tell me what this has to do with the worship of God!
Elizabeth Prata has a short, but good, commentary (and video) about this subject.

Australia has it’s own false teachers, of course.  I learned of a new one this week: Joshua Mills.  He has a “school of signs & wonders.”  [link gone by 12/16/16] Why is it that we don’t find this in Scripture?  Just another wolf feeding on the sheep.

Brian McLaren has been again exposed for false teachings, this time by Ken Silva at Apprising Ministries.  McLaren is a blatant universalist, and this time the heresy he preaches is that if Jesus, Moses, Buddha and Mohammed were together today, they’d “lead us into an encounter with the other” since we are “all God’s children.”  There is no way Jesus would ever point to an idolater as one we should have an “encounter” with.

There have been times in the past when I have mentioned “Dominionism” without really explaining what it is, assuming most of my readers would know.  I found an interesting article which does a very good job of succinctly explaining this false belief system.

Speaking of Dominionism, Erin, over at “Do Not Be Surprised...”, tells us of an event coming up in September, which promotes the whole idea of the USA having a covenant with God.  Yes, just like The Harbinger by Jonathan Cahn, thisAmerica for Jesus event claims 2 Chronicles 7:14 is a promise for the United States.  It is another event in the “One Nation Under God” series.  This whole dominion ideology is part of the teachings of the New Apostolic Reformation.  The events are rife with false teachers - stay away from them.

I am always surprised about how often people will speak highly of Joel Osteen as a “pastor.”  The man really has never demonstrated that he understands the Gospel, let alone any other Christian teaching.  I found an interesting article with a video about Osteen, demonstrating just how bad this guy is.  You really have to watch it.  John MacArthur says it well in the video - Osteen preaches a pagan religion.

Here’s cult I never heard of: The World Mission Society Church.  A friend sent me this link to their official site, and I see they have a Phoenix, AZ branch.  They believe in “God the Mother.”  Enough said.

Pat Robertson is one of those visible televangelist false teachers who the media loves.  Of course this is the sort of “Christianity” the media loves to hate.  Well, Robertson has again demonstrated how horrid his teachings can be; he said there is too much at risk when adopting a child.  You’ll have to read the article to see just how poorly this guy’s brain works.

Oh, and I just have to point you to another article about Beth Moore and her direct revelations from God.  I’ve heard of this “hair brush” story before, but I finally got to see it first-hand.  And you should, too.

(Today’s headline photo was “stolen” from Apprising Ministries, who gave a “hat tip” to Pirate Christian Radio for it.)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Did They Really Say That?

Those who accept the Saviour, however sincere their conversion, should never be taught to say or to feel that they are saved.  This is misleading.  Everyone should be taught to cherish hope and faith; but even when we give ourselves to Christ and know that he accepts us, we are not beyond the reach of temptation. ... Those who accept Christ, and in their first confidence say, I am saved, are in danger of trusting to themselves.
Ellen G. White, Christ’s Object Lessons, p.155, written in 1900.

What does the  Bible say about knowing Christians are saved?  The following passages are from the New International Version, with my italic emphasis.

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.  1 John 5:13

I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life John 5:24

I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life.  John 6:47

There are many more passages that can be produced to demonstrate that a believer can certainly be assured of their salvation.  Once again, E.G. White has been proven to be a false teacher, and those who follow her teachings are in bondage to legalism and false representation of not only the Gospel, but of God and Jesus as well.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Random Stuff

I have been collecting a lot of items this past week, so put on your sunglasses and get ready for much darkness to be exposed!

There is a lot of controversy about The Harbinger, the best-selling book by Jonathan Cahn.  I have discussed this book in previous random posts (under the label “Cahn, Jonathan), but more and more is coming out about Cahn himself and his aberrant beliefs.  Apprising Ministries has been following the subject, so my links will take you to that site.  The first article I’d like you to read has a claim by Cahn that God used “spiritual wingnut” Jim Bakker to launch his book.  The next article tells about Cahn’s claim that he’s been blessed by Bakker’s mentoring.  The last article demonstrates more of Cahn’s association with Word of Faith heretics, as well as showing how Cahn will not correct those who see him as a prophet.  I think discernment would tell us to avoid any teachings by Jonathan Cahn.

Seeker-sensitive goatherd Steven Furtick has become buddies with Word of Faith heretic Rod Parsley.  Parsley considers Furtick to be “one of the nations most influential young leaders.  I think this idea is really scary.  Apprising Ministries demonstrates that Furtick is becoming a “quasi-Word Faith preacher.”  For those who doubt that Rod Parsley is a heretic, I suggest this post by Apprising Ministries.

Tim Challies has posted a review of Mike and Debi Pearl’s book, To Train Up a Child. This is a book I previously reviewed, but you might find Challies’ report to be worthwhile. Meanwhile, Recovering Grace did their own review of the book Challies previously reported on, Debi Pearl’s “Created to Be His Help Meet.”  The Pearls are definitely teachers to avoid.

In the news last week was a report about a Jackson, MS, church [link gone by 12/16/16] who would not allow a black couple to be married there.  This is totally unbiblical and unChristlike racism.  The pastor of the church was told that if he conducted the wedding there, he would lose his position.  I understand that the pastor, Stan Weatherford, was interested in giving the couple a controversy-free wedding, however, I have to condemn him for not defying the members who were racists.  I think the proper thing for him to have done was to either defy them (and I would think the couple would go along with it - at least if it was me, I would) and hold the wedding ceremony there, or else resign his position.  The racists won the battle.  If Weatherford had done the ceremony there, the racists would have been exposed and excommunicated until they repented. The big question I have is, will Weatherford preach against racism?  Will he require repentance of the racists? Apparently there are enough members of that assembly who would have supported Weatherford had he done the ceremony there.  This goes to show that our shepherds should not allow themselves to be intimidated against doing what is right.

“Vision Casting” seems to be the rage among many of the seeker-sensitive and emergent leaders.  They have a “vision” for the direction of their church and if you don’t agree, well then, as Mark Driscoll has said, they need to be thrown off the bus.  Ken Silva has a good article about the unbiblical nature of “vision casting.”

Recovering Grace blog is testimonies from former Gothardites, i.e., those involved with IBLP.  There are so many excellent testimonies telling of the cult-like teachings of this organization that it is difficult to choose what to tell you about.  I have posted some previously.  “Why I Reject IBLP” is a good one to read to understand the depths of spiritual damage which happens in groups like this.

Lifeway Christian Resources bookstores is an arm of the Southern Baptist Convention.  It is they who are responsible for publishing Beth Moore’s false teachings while pulling the movie “Courageous” because of language issues.  The SBC rejected the 2001 NIV Bible because of its gender-neutral translations, yet Lifeway continues to sell it.  When questions were raised about this issue, Lifeway simply stated that people have to trust its trustees to determine what they sell in their stores.  Um, yeah; I’m supposed to trust people to decide what is appropriate when they are very inconsistent.  They sell boatloads of false teaching by Beth Moore and yet refuse to sell a movie because of questionable language (and it isn’t the really foul stuff, either), but they will sell a liberal translation Bible.

Seeker-sensitive and emergent churches have claimed that Paul taught the use of worldly ways to draw people to hear the Gospel.  They claim this based on 1 Corinthians 9:22b, where Paul says, “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.”  Was Paul really a pragmatist?  Pastor Larry DeBruyn presents an excellent biblical argument against that idea.

Finally, Apprising Ministries exposes the mysticism of Henry Blackaby’s “Experiencing God.