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

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Name Calling?

As noted on my last post, I visit and comment on other blogs, as well as responding to comments made on my blog.  

There are times when a false teacher refuses correction, and there are times when one must be publicly identified for what he is so as to let people know these teachers are not to be trusted, that they don’t represent the true Faith of Christianity, etc.

Now, there have been times, when dealing with particularly aggressive false teachers, when I have resorted to labeling them according to their teachings.  For this I have been called “unloving,” and “un-Christlike.”  

With one particular virulent false teaching which could very well lead people astray, I cited against the false teacher - who is well known for his equivocation, sophistry, misrepresentation, as well as bold eisegesis of Scripture - the following statement:  “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord?”  The individual then claimed I was making an ad hominem attack.  However, this was not true, because all of his arguments and assertions were responded to numerous times by numerous other Christians on the blog, and therefore this final rebuke was necessary.  After all, this is citing Paul’s charge against the sorcerer Elymas in Acts 13:10, because Elymas opposed him and was trying to turn the proconsul from the faith.  And this is exactly what our false teacher was doing - opposing our teaching of the truth, and trying to turn people to his false belief system.

So is it “un-Christlike” to call someone names to describe their behavior and teaching?  Well, what do we see in Scripture?  John the Baptist called the Pharisees and Sadducees “vipers.”  Jesus also called them “vipers,” and he also very often called them “hypocrites.”  In fact, Jesus also called them “wicked,” “adulterous,” “sons of hell” (Matt. 23:15), “blind guides,” “blind men,” “white-washed tombs,” and even “snakes.”  Additionally, for those who didn’t believe Him, Jesus said they were “foolish” and that they were of their father the devil (John 8:44).

In Acts, when talking to the unbelieving Jews, Stephen called them “stiff-necked people,” and said they had “uncircumscribed hearts and ears.”  Paul called the false teachers “savage wolves.”

In Galatians, Paul said false teachers were to be “eternally condemned” (or cursed, or anathema - depending on the translation) - and that is very harsh!

Finally, Peter called false teachers, “bold arrogant people.”

So, if we use a word to describe the false teachers and their teachings, is it really “name-calling” and “un-Christlike”?  Not at all - it is really just putting a warning label on them so the sheep won’t drink of their poison!

The Only Way?

I join discussions on many other Christian blogs, usually in defense of the blog author, but sometimes just to add some additional information about the topic, and sometimes just to give words of encouragement.

Defending the Christian faith against the cults and false teachers often raises the ire of non-believers, which, in a way, is quite amusing; they don’t believe in God at all and yet they think it is somehow “wrong” for us to say there is only one way to God.

One individual on another Christian’s blog said he visited my blog, and that from reading my blog - as well as my discussions on the other blog - it was plain that I am  “terrified of and threatened by homosexuals…, Muslims, Catholics, Jews, Mormons, 7th Day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses,… anybody who isn't exactly like you.”

So a question arises:  Is the reason apologists expose cults and false teachers because we are “terrified and threatened by” them?   Of course not.  We are doing no more than what the Scripture tells us to do when it says we are to evangelize, as well as to discern and expose false teachings.

Another question arises:  Do apologists - or any Christians - expose cults and false teachers because they aren’t exactly like us?  Again, of course not.  

No, the issue is that Christianity has a truth claim - that there is only one God, and only one way of salvation.  If that way contradicts what the cults and false teachers say, we expose why they are wrong in comparison to the Scripture, and NOT because they think differently than we do.

And that’s a problem with our current culture of those of the liberal theological, philosophical, or political persuasion; if you have a truth claim, then you must be bigoted, hateful, intolerant, and “judgmental.”  Of course when they make such charges, they are themselves being judgmental, they themselves are lacking tolerance, and they are usually bigoted and hateful towards Christians!

So, contrary to the assertions as to why we apologists do what we do, our true motive is to protect the flock that is, and also to reach other sheep to bring into the fold of the Great Shepherd, all the while pointing out the wolves.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Did They Really Say That?!?

“One of the biggest mistakes humans make is to believe there is only one way.  There are many diverse paths leading to what you call God.”
Oprah Winfrey, cited in the story, “The Church Of O,” by LaTonya Taylor in Christianity Today, 4/1/02, p.38.  Reported in Brian Flynn’s book, Running Against the Wind, p.119

If this is true, then can Oprah explain all the passages in the Bible which say Christ is the only way to God?  (John 3:18, 36; John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Tim 2:5-6; 1 John 2:23; 1 John 5:11-12)

Oprah Winfrey is one of the most dangerous women in the world, because she leads countless people away from God.  When it comes to talking about God, Jesus, the Bible, and the Christian faith, she is a rank false teacher.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Some Good Stuff

Like so many people, I have been quite busy with a million things these past couple weeks, not to mention spending way too much time cleaning snow and ice off the driveway and walks!

I have come across some articles which I think will brighten your day.

First, there is the testimony of Kurt Goedelman, of Personal Freedom Outreach apologetics ministry.  I know Kurt personally, having first met him in April 2004 at the St. Louis Conference on Biblical Discernment, as well as having connected with him at the 2006, 2008, 2010, and 2012 conferences, and I have co-authored with him an article on Beth Moore.  He gave his testimony in two parts on The Berean Call’s radio program, Search the Scriptures.  You can read the transcripts here and here.

The remaining articles I’ll link to are about Christmas!

Jon Gleason has an interesting article about Joseph’s possible thoughts about Mary’s being with child.

Jon also explains why there are two genealogies for Jesus.

Then there are the “9 Things You Should Know About Christmas.”

The first item links to this interesting trivia about how the 25th of December became the date to celebrate.

Have a blessed Christmas, however you choose to celebrate it!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus

Come, thou long-expected Jesus,
Born to set they people free;
From our fears and sins release us;
Let us find our rest in thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth thou art;
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

Born they people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now they gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By thine all-sufficient merit,
Raise us to thy glorious throne.

Charles Wesley, Nativity Hymns (1745)
As cited in the book,
Lost in Wonder: Charles Wesley; The Meaning of His Hymns Today, by S.T. Kimbrough, Jr. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


What time of the year was Jesus really born?  Over the years I have collected several claims to knowing exactly when Jesus’ birth took place.  I present the arguments to my readers to let YOU decide which claim you feel has the best merit.

(Note the differences in when writers say “the course of Abia/Abija” takes place.  Which one is correct?)

It was certainly in the summer time that He was born, since the shepherds were out on the wilderness of Judea with their flocks and the season for pasturing in the open extended from Passover till October.  Nor is more precise evidence lacking.  Zechariah, the Baptist’s father, belonged to the Course of Abijah, the eighth of the twenty-four priestly relays that ministered each in rotation for a week, reckoned from Sabbath to Sabbath; and at that period the eighth Course’s “days of ministration” fell about the third week of May.  It was then that Zechariah obtained the promise of a son, and Elisabeth conceived after his return home in the beginning of June.  It was in the ensuing November that Mary conceived; and so it would be in August that she “brought forth her first-born Son.”
Our Lord’s Earthly Life, p.xii, author unknown  (possibly David Smith) because pages are photocopied without that information included.

September 29th
…it is unlikely that December 25th is the actual birth date of Christ.  Various dates for Christmas even today are observed as Christ’s birthday by different Christian groups.  Perhaps the most probable date, though no one really knows, is about September 29th.  This was the first day of the great Jewish Feast of Tabernacles, when thousands of pilgrims from all over Israel would go up to Jerusalem to dwell in small “tabernacles or booths, commemorating their wilderness wanderings and anticipating the coming kingdom when God Himself would “tabernacle” with men (note Revelation 21:3).
This would have been a good time for the Roman census, with the weather still warm, most of the harvest in, and people traveling anyway.  Shepherds would still have their flocks in the field, whereas none of this seems at all likely in the winter time.
This same date was later celebrated by Christians as Michaelmas (meaning “Michael sent”), Michael being the great archangel of God.  It seems reasonable to suppose that this observance could have had its origin in the coming of Michael and the angels to announce the birth of Christ to the shepherds (Luke 2:9-14).
It is at least very interesting that, if one counts back 280 days (the normal period of human gestation) from September 29th, he arrives at the previous December 25th.  And then he realizes that the great miracle of Christ’s Incarnation was not His birth, which was a normal human birth in every respect, but rather the miraculous conception, when the Holy Spirit placed that “holy thing” in the womb of the Virgin Mary! (Luke 1:35.)
Henry Morris, from the booklet, Christmas: Pagan or Christian?

The winter birth is based on the Biblical account of the shepherds tending their sheep, which were pasturing close to the walls of Bethlehem instead of farther out in the fields as during summer months.  With the city full due to the census, the only refuge Mary and Joseph could find was a stable.
“The stable is best described as a cave where animals were kept, not a man-made structure.  The manger, probably made of wood, was where straw and food were placed for the animals, thus it made a soft bed for a baby,” Aling explained.

Ailing sides with the theory [about the star] in a book written by John Williams at the University of Chicago in 1871.
“The Chinese were known as night-sky watchers who kept a detailed book of sightings.  Two events in the book explain unusual sightings at the time of Christ’s birth.  Comet No. 52 was in the sky for 70 days during Mar. and April, about 5 B.C., and moved in a westward direction.  Comet No. 53 appeared in Mar. and April around 4 B.C., and hovered,” Aling said.
Article interviewing Dr. Charles Aling, professor of history and chair of the history dept. at Northwestern College in St. Paul, MN.  Article has no information as to its origin or date.

The remaining commentaries make claims for December 25th 

There is no adequate reason for questioning the historical accuracy of [December 25th].  The objections generally made rest on grounds, which seem to me historically untenable.  The subject has been fully discussed in an article by Cassel in Herzog’s Real. Ency. 17, pp. 588-594.  But a curious piece of evidence comes to us from a Jewish source.  In the addition to the Megillath Taanith (ed. Warsh. p.20a), the 9th Tebheth is marked as a fast day, and it is added, that the reason for this is not stated.  Now, Jewish chronologists have fixed on that day as that of Christ’s birth, and it is remarkable that, between the years 500 and 816 AD the 25th of December fell no less than twelve times on the 9th Tebheth.  If the 9th Tebheth, or 25th December, was regarded as the birthday of Christ, we can understand the concealment about it.
Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, p.132
Ancient Jewish tradition … seems to recognize that date….  According to Alfred Edersheim, Jewish leaders established a special fast day on 9th day of the Jewish month of Tevet.  Initially, no specific reason was given for this fast day, but later Jewish writers identified the 9th of Tevet with the birth date of Jesus.  Edersheim further states that the 9th of Tevet had fallen on the 25th of December numerous times in the past.
There is also the possibility of a Hanukkah-Christmas connection.  Hanukkah is celebrated on the 25th of Kislev, the Jewish month that corresponds with December.  Could it be that early Jewish believers in Yeshiva (jesus) wanted to connect Hanukkah and the birth of the Messiah, and eventually that desire was transposed into the 25th of December?  After all, Hanukah commemorates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem, which Jesus applied to Himself when He said, “Destroy this Temple and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19).
Jews for Jesus Newsletter, December 2000

The following is from a pamphlet by John A. Stormer:
Is there any real evidence that Jesus Christ was born at Christmas?  A careful examination of a number of seemingly unrelated Bible passages gives clear indication that the Lord Jesus was indeed born at Christmas time.  Such study will give new emphasis to what Christ came to do.  It will also provide a much deeper appreciation of all that is hidden in the Word of God which can be discovered by those who prayerfully search the scriptures.

In Luke Chapter 1, the Bible records seemingly unimportant details about what a priest named Zacharias was doing when an angel announced to him that he and his wife were to have a child.  The child was to be John the Baptist who would prepare the way for the Messiah, Jesus Christ.  The Bible further records that the Lord Jesus was conceived in the sixth month after John the Baptist was conceived.  Therefore, if the time of the conception of John the Baptist could be determined, the birth date of the Lord Jesus could be calculated.

In Luke 1:5 and Luke 1:8, we are told that Zacharias was a priest of the course of Abia and that he fulfilled his priestly duties in the order of his course.  To understand the importance of the course of Abia and its bearing on the date of John the Baptist’s conception, it is necessary to turn to I Chronicles 24:1-10.  This passage describes how a thousand years before Christ, King David established the courses for priestly service in the coming temple.  Twenty-four courses were established and numbered by drawing lots - twelve courses for sanctuary service and twelve for the government of the house of God.

Members of each course would serve during a month starting with the Hebrew month of Nisan.  (Because of the way the Hebrew calendar fluctuates, the month Nisan can start anytime between early March and early April.)   The sons of Abijah (the Old Testament spelling for Abia) were in the eighth course.  Priests of Abia like Zacharias would, therefore, have ministered for a time during the eighth month which in some years corresponds to our month of October.  Zacharias would have returned home when his days of service were accomplished and John the Baptist would have been conceived sometime between October 10th and the end of the month.

After conception the scripture says that Elizabeth hid herself for five months.  Then in the sixth month of her pregnancy (which depending on the year could have been between March 10 and April 10) the angel announced to the Virgin Mary that the Lord Jesus would be conceived  in her womb by the Holy Ghost.  If this took place on or about April 1 a “normal” gestation period of 270 days would have then had the Lord Jesus due on December 25.  How about that!

There are other scriptural indicators that confirm that the Lord was born at Christmas time.  In the account of His birth in Luke 2:8, we read:
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

My son-in-law, who has a degree in agriculture, after hearing the above presentation told me, “Certainly, the Lord Jesus was born at Christmas.  The only time shepherds spend the night in the fields with their sheep is during the time when the lambs are born.  The ewes become ‘attractive’ to the rams in the month after June 21, the longest day of the year.  the normal gestation period is five months so the ewes start lambing about mid-December.”  He added:
Isn’t it natural that the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world would be born when all the other lambs are born?

This “coincidence” was too amazing for me to accept until I checked it out.  A former teacher from the school where I am the administrator is married to a Montana sheep rancher.  She confirmed what I had been told.  She said, “Oh, yes!  None of the men who have flocks are in church for weeks at Christmas.  They have to be in the fields day and night to clean up and care for the lambs as soon as they are born or many would perish in the cold.”  Isn’t that neat?  God’s Lamb, who was to die for the sins of the world, was born when all the other little lambs are born.  Because He came and died the centuries old practice of sacrificing lambs for sin could end.

Oh, and did you know that the Magi weren’t there until quite a while after Jesus’ birth?  In Matthew 2:11, the Magi come to a house, where by now the family has found shelter.  Looking back at vs. 7 Herod found out the time the star had appeared, and then in vs 16 has all the children 2 yrs old and under killed, based on the time he was given by the Magi.  

Of course Luke 2 tells us that the shepherds where there shortly after the birth, which is a fact that Matthew doesn’t mention.   Some Hollywood productions have the family leaving Bethlehem very shortly after Jesus’ birth (with one I’ve seen showing the escape on the same night), so as to escape to Egypt to avoid Herod’s men seeking to kill Jesus.   Yet Luke tells us that they waited (apparently still in Bethlehem) until “the time of purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed,” and then presented Jesus in the temple in Jerusalem.  Then they would have gone back to Bethlehem until Joseph was told to depart for Egypt.  So they Magi arrived either during the time of purification or after Joseph brought them back from Jerusalem.

So why do Hollywood, publishers, artists, and nativity scenes all show the magi there?  I guess they just didn’t read their Bibles!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Random Apostasies and Heresies

The invasion of apostasy and heresy into the Church seems to be rapidly increasing in varieties and strength.

Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling is getting more and more exposure.  The more I read about it the worse it seems to be.  The Berean Call did a 2-part interview with Warren Smith about his book exposing Young’s teachings for what they are.  You can find the transcripts for part 1 here and part 2 here

Mark Driscoll - again.  Sola Sisters has some good exposures of Driscoll this week.  First, there is some more examination of his stunt at the Strange Fire Conference.  Then they post a “rap sheet” of Driscoll’s actions which disqualify him from being a pastor.  Then they give another example of his abuse of his position.  Another author weighs in on the Driscoll plagiarism issue.

Lighthouse Trails has a great list of authors who discerning Christians should avoid - and actually who ALL Christians should avoid!

Neil has a great article with good advice for “theologically weak churches,” and how to save money on their next building expansions.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a cult.  Now they seem to becoming liberal on top of being cultish - getting women into the clergy is forging ahead.

The Amish are also very cultic in their social behavior, and extremely legalistic in their theological teachings.  Some of this is explained in this article directed primarily at how the Amish dress.

Moody Bible Institute is continuing their downward slide into contemplative and ecumenicism.

The Methodist Church - again.  Because of the denomination’s vacillation, and fear of taking a stand, in regards to homosexuality, the UMC minister who was actually found guilty of violating UMC doctrine, refuses to obey the decision against him.  Will they have the courage to excommunicate him?  Meanwhile, a UMC bishop in Texas has decided a lesbian can indeed be a candidate for ordination.  As Neil says, the UMC is now reaping what they have sowed.

I think Santa Claus has really invaded Christian homes to where he is more important than Jesus.  And Christians have all sorts of justifications as to why it is okay to lie to their children about Santa being real rather than just a fun fairy tale!  Take a gander at this thought-provoking article.

The Cripplegate also has a good article about fasting, which should be passed to those claiming that fasting is an important practice.

Pastor Gary Gilley’s review of Judah Smith’s new book, Jesus is_____ , exposes more of why Smith is not qualified to be a pastor.

The Mormon Church is doing more damage control.  They don’t want to admit that their belief system was racist from the beginning, and they don’t want to admit that this was embedded in Joseph Smith’s teaching about “Eternal Progression,” and the poor performance in the pre-existence of those who are now black.   The news out of Salt Lake City is that it was Brigham Young’s fault, as well as just being cultural. Mormonism Research Ministry examines this claim.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Are You Being Fed?

“When the majority of church-going Christians are not taught biblical truth month after month and year after year, they become prey to false teachings.  It is only by feeding on God’s Word on a continual basis that we are protected from deception.  Interestingly, most of the mail I receive comes from the laity.  Much of the time, it is not pastors who are concerned and looking for answers - it is church members.  Disturbed by the direction of their churches, these concerned members are challenging leadership, though they are often discouraged by their pastors from saying anything.  They are told that they are overreacting.  If they persist they are made to feel like agitators or troublemakers, made to feel unwelcome and eventually asked to leave.  Many of these people write me, asking the same question: ‘Where do I go now?  Where is there a church that will teach the Word of God every week?’  With tens of thousands of churches adopting the new church mentality, that is becoming a hard question to answer.”

Brian Flynn, Running Against the Wind, p.211

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Some Thoughts About Baptism

Does the Bible teach that infants and children are to be baptized?  Does baptism save a  person?  Can one be saved without baptism?  And how should baptism be performed?
Let’s look at what the Bible says about baptism, and see if we can find the answers.

Notice that baptism in the Bible is always by immersion.  In this way it symbolizes descent into the grave and resurrection with Christ (Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12).  Even the Didache (dated between late first and early second centuries) designates the primary method of baptism to be immersion.

Concerning Baptism.  And concerning baptism, baptize this way: Having first said all these things, baptize into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living water. But if you have no living water, baptize into other water; and if you cannot do so in cold water, do so in warm. But if you have neither, pour out water three times upon the head into the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit. But before the baptism let the baptizer fast, and the baptized, and whoever else can; but you shall order the baptized to fast one or two days before.

Notice the mention of fasting first; this by itself demonstrates that in the minds of whoever wrote the document, infants were not considered.

Acts 2:38:  Is Peter saying that baptism is necessary for salvation?  The following commentary is from Norman Geisler and Ron Rhodes in their book, “When Cultists Ask”).

CORRECTING THE MISINTERPRETATION: What Peter means here becomes clear when we consider the possible meaning of being baptized “for” the remission of sins in the light of its usage, the whole context, and the rest of Scripture.

First, the word “for” (eis) can mean either “with a view to” or “because of.” In the latter case, water baptism would be because they had been saved, not in order to be saved.

Second, people are saved by receiving God’s Word, and Peter’s audience “gladly received his word” before they were baptized (Acts 2:41).

Third, verse 44 speaks of “all who believed” as constituting the early church, not all who were baptized.

Fourth, later, those who believed Peter’s message clearly received the Holy Spirit before they were baptized. Peter said, “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” (Acts 10:47).

Fifth, Paul separates baptism from the gospel, saying, “Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel” (1 Cor. 1:17a nasb). But it is the gospel that saves us (Rom. 1:16). Therefore, baptism is not part of what saves us.

Sixth, Jesus referred to baptism as a work of righteousness (Matt. 3:15). But the Bible declares clearly it is “not because of righteous things we have done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5 niv).

Seventh, not once in the entire Gospel of John, written explicitly so that people could believe and be saved (John 20:31), is baptism noted as a condition of salvation. Rather this Gospel instructs people to “believe” to be saved (cf. John 3:16, 18, 36).

It seems best to understand Peter’s statement like this: “Repent and be baptized as a result of the forgiveness of sins.” That this view looked backward to their sins being forgiven at the moment when they were saved is made clear by the context and the rest of Scripture. Believing or repenting and being baptized are placed together, since baptism should follow belief. But nowhere does it say, “He who is not baptized will be condemned” (cf. Mark 16:16). Yet Jesus said emphatically that “whoever does not believe stands condemned already” (John 3:18b niv, emphasis added). Scripture does not make baptism a condition of salvation.

Acts 2:41:  “Those who accepted his message were baptized.”  Notice they heard the gospel FIRST and then ACCEPTED it.  Can infants understand the gospel?  Of course not, so they would not fit the category of “those who accepted his message.”  So they would not have been baptized.

Acts 8:12, 13:  People heard the good news of the Kingdom of God FIRST and then they were baptized, “both men and women.”  No mention of infants or children.  Simon believed and THEN was baptized.

Acts 8:36 is the incident of the Ethiopian.  He heard the message FIRST and then asked for baptism.  They went together down INTO the water, and vs 39 says they came up OUT of the water.  So they were definitely IN the water rather than being sprinkled.

Acts 9:18: Saul/Paul was baptized AFTER having believed.

Acts 10:23b-48 and the incident with Cornelius and others at his house.  Cornelius had friends and relatives with him.  Peter taught them all, beginning with reminding them of what they knew.  Infants and small children would not have known all those things, nor would they have understood what Peter was saying, and that is assuming that infants or small children were even present (which is not even hinted at).  Notice Peter says at vs 43 that forgiveness of sin is NOT via baptism, rather it is through the name of Christ.  AFTER they heard the gospel, THEN they were baptized.

Acts 16:11-15.  Lydia and her household.  The teaching took place first, and then the baptism.  Since baptism followed the teaching, infants would not have been able to understand the teaching and place their faith in Christ.  The order is still, teaching FIRST, and THEN baptism.

Acts 16:25-37:  Paul and Silas, and the Jailer and his household.  The jailer asked how to be saved - notice he wasn’t told to be baptized first, rather he was told to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ FIRST.  And “you and your household” follows the command to believe FIRST.  “You and your household” are commanded to “believe in the Lord Jesus” and THEN they will be saved.  Once Paul and Silas arrived at the Jailer’s house, we aren’t told about what teaching took place during the time their wounds were being treated, but in order for those in the household to be baptized, they would have had to first “believe in the Lord Jesus.”  How can an infant exercise such a belief?

Acts 18:7-8:  Teaching in the synagogue, and then “the synagogue ruler and his entire household believed in the Lord;” - in order to exercise such belief they could not have been infants.  “and many of the Corinthians who heard him believed and were baptized.”  Belief came FIRST and THEN baptism.

Acts 9:4-5.  Paul taught John’s followers about Jesus and THEN they were given a Christian baptism.

Act 22:16:  Paul’s testimony, showing that he believed FIRST and was then told to be baptized.

1 Cor. 1:16:  Paul said he baptized the household of Stephanas.  He doesn’t mention what led up to the baptism, but it would be logical to assume that they were first taught the gospel, and infants - if even here - would be unable to understand.  

Baptism is what the Christians do because they have become Christians by being justified by faith in Christ; it is an outward, public sign of the person’s confession, which is based on what they have learned or have been taught.  Learning and understanding the Gospel always comes first before baptism.  There is nothing about baptism that saves a person who has not placed their faith in the atoning work of Christ. Since infants and small children do not have the ability to understand such concepts, they would not be able to have faith before baptism.  Without the faith in Christ FIRST, there is no purpose for baptism.

There are those denomination which claim that baptism is a seal, and therefore babies should be baptized because the will later place their faith in Christ and confirm their baptism.  Baptism is a SIGN of one’s belief in Christ; it is a public proclamation of one’s faith.  Babies cannot make such a proclamation.

Faith in Christ alone is what saves us from sin and provides our salvation through Christ. (John 3:16, 36; John 5:24; John 6:47; John 20:31; Acts 16:31; Rom. 1:16; Rom. 3:22,25; Rom. 10:9; Tit. 3:5; Eph. 2:8-9, 16; et al).

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Is God Dead?

O Love divine!  What hast thou done!
The immortal God hath died for me!
The Father’s co-eternal Son
Bore all my sins upon the tree;
The immortal God for me hath died!
My Lord, my Love is crucified.

Behold him, all ye that pass by, 
The bleeding Prince of life and peace!
Come, sinner, see your Maker die,
And say, was ever grief like his?
Come, feel with me his blood applied:
My Lord, my Love is crucified.

Is crucified for me and you,
To bring us rebels back to God;
Believe, believe the record true,
Ye all are bought with Jesus’ blood,
Pardon for all flows from his side:
My Lord, my Love is crucified

Then let us sit beneath his cross,
And gladly catch the healing stream,
All things for him account but loss,
And give up all our hearts to him;
Of nothing think or speak beside,
“My Lord, my Love is crucified.”

Charles Wesley, Hymns and Sacred Poems (1749)
As cited in the book,
Lost in Wonder: Charles Wesley; The Meaning of His Hymns Today, by S.T. Kimbrough, Jr. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Is Contemplative Prayer Biblical?

“Too many describe the Christian life as tepid, while mustering up nothing more than a lukewarm enthusiasm for Christ.   Many feel God hasn’t come through for them and won’t until they do something.  Again we try to control God by making something happen and by earning points with Him.  We desire an experience, and since God isn’t doing anything, we initiate it ourselves.  Rather than giving up control and letting God do the work in our lives, we come up with man-centered, man prompted ideas and methods.  Brennan Manning calls it ‘grabbing a holt of God.’

“Are we unwilling to completely let go and let God?  Then we will never find that true, lasting satisfaction in our Christian lives.  All the meditations, all the self-help Christian books, all the lighting of candles are not going to make any lasting difference.

“Contemplative spirituality is nothing more than an attempt to fill that void with a man-made solution.  In essence, they are attempting to built a spiritual tower of Babel.  And as with all things man-made, it pales in comparison to what God can do.

“If contemplative prayer or other Eastern practices were sanctioned or blessed by the God of the Bible, why are there no stories of any Hindus or Buddhists coming to Christ by these methods?  Instead, we hear of Christians receiving revelations during contemplative prayer that all paths lead to God and that God is in all.  If those revelations were true, this would make the Cross unnecessary and, in effect, null and void.”

Brian Flynn, Running Against the Wind, p.176-177

I'd say that the answer to the headline question is unequivocally, "NO," and Christians should not be doing it.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Random Apostasies and Heresies

Keeping up with the weird in the Christian faith is really hard to do!  There have been so many things happening that I had to just let a lot of stuff go without reporting.  It’s just as Paul said in his first letter to Timothy: “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.  Such things come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.”  

I think most of the nonsense in seeker-sensitive churches is caused by the “cool pastor” syndrome.  

Okay, now that you’ve hopefully had some nauseous response to these videos, let’s start by looking at a cult - the Mormons.  I was unaware that the LDS was denying their foundational teaching about eternal progression, in which those Mormons who reach exaltation will be gods of their own planets.  I guess there are those who claim that this is nothing more than folklore.  I think they are embarrassed about this teaching, because it is one of the many LDS doctrines which prove they are not Christian.

One thing I always teach people is that when they are talking to members of cults who claim to be Christian, make sure to have the cult member define their terms.  Mormons are especially guilty of sounding like Christians due to their terminology, but once you make them define their terms, the differences between them and real Christianity are profound.  Dr. Richard Mouw really needs to understand this, because he continues to say that Mormons and real Christians have a lot in common.  That is because he is ignorant and accepts their terminology at face value.

Okay, enough about the Mormons - for THIS post, anyway.  But, where do I start now?

How about the latest exposure of Mark Driscoll’s plagiarizing?  It all started with a program hosted by Janet Mefferd, where she challenged Driscoll about some apparent plagiarism in his book, “ A Call to Resurgence.”  An article I read about the situation linked to the audio of the program, and I thought Janet handled the situation quite well.  Mark, of course, didn’t like being challenged and finally hung up on her.  I can’t give the link because it has been removed.  However, there are some other sites reporting on the situation, which I think all prove what I have been saying all along - that Mark Driscoll is unworthy to be a pastor - he is not qualified.

Elizabeth Prata has three articles covering different aspects of the situation.  First, she has an article about real martyrs compared to the whines from Driscoll about how difficult it is to be a pastor.  Next she addresses the plagiarism situation, and then lists some of the bad fruit from this “pastor” to demonstrate why he shouldn’t be in his position.  Lastly, Elizabeth writes about Driscoll’s “porno-vision,” as well as a horrible “dream” he had about his wife, which is published in the book, “Real Marriage.”  I have read so much stuff by - and about - Driscoll that it is apparent that he is obsessed with sex.l

It seems Pope Francis is urging redistribution of income:  “I encourage financial experts and political leaders to ponder the words of one of the sages of antiquity: ‘Not to share one’s wealth with the poor is to steal from them and to take away their livelihood. It is not our own goods which we hold, but theirs,’” he writes.
So, if I don’t share my income with someone who is poor, then I am stealing from them?!?!  This sounds like something President Obama would say!  I wonder where he finds this in the Bible?

A Mennonite University is pondering changing their policy so as to allow people who practice homosexual behavior to be faculty members.   Meanwhile, the Texas Wesleyan University is providing a special prayer room for their Muslim students!

Not to be outdone, a new report on the Church of England’s attitude to sexuality.  The reports “suggests couples in permanent and faithful civil partnerships could have their relationships blessed as part of an Anglican service.”  I wonder how they will explain where this fits in the the Biblical teachings against homosexual behavior?

In regards to the recent “Strange Fire Conference,” and the claims by its detractors that it didn’t reflect “mainstream” charismatics, Lyndon Unger, over at the Cripplegate, asks and answers the question, “So who exactly IS the mainstream of the charismatic movement?”  It is devastatingly honest.  Additionally, Unger writes another article, apparently in response to that charismatic group of the New Apostolic Reformation, as he answers the question about what a true Apostle is.

Speaking of false prophets, the Church is now short one.  Arch-heretic Paul Crouch has died.  One less tool of Satan to confuse and mislead the flock.

Tim Challies has a review of Rick Warren’s “Daniel Plan.”  I wouldn’t trust anything from Warren, but Challies says it has sound dieting advice, while at the same time point out Warren’s abuse of Scripture to make his points!  Of course, as I reported on my last “Random...” post, Warren’s uniting with New Age doctors is another problem.

Campus Crusade for Christ (now known as “Cru”) seems to be leaning more and more left to the whole contemplative movement.  This stuff is a dangerous epidemic infecting the Church.

Bill Gothard’s teachings have been the subject in more than a few of my posts.  He is a dangerous false teacher, leading people into legalistic bondage.  Oh, he’ll pass away soon, but his IBLP and ATI empire will continue putting burdensome loads on the backs of non-discerning Christians.  It’s sad, really.

Finally, market-driven and seeker sensitive Willow Creek seems to be having a bit of trouble in regards to one of their pastors, who seems to be promoting homosexuality as something good.

For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine.  Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.  They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” 2 Timothy 4:3-4