language and phrasology

I read discernment blogs and listen to some of their podcasts.  They talk about some self-absorbed and self-centered speakers are abusing the bible and the Name of Jesus for money.  I agree, these people should be exposed because they are fleecing and abusing the flock of the Great Sheppard Jesus Christ.  Some claiming that they are modern day prophets, a gift revived to this time in history and only some people, special people, receive this gift.  I also hear the discernment people criticize these people for claiming to hear direct revelations from God.  They also take exception when they say that the Spirit put a particular verse inside their heart or mind for them to speak about.

And then I read some things that they write about some things they are working through and they use the same language.  I was reading a blog where the blogger was talking about a reading plan as opposed to how she usually read the bible.  She said she was more inspired with ideas for writing and researching topics with the usual way she read the bible.  One thing she said was that she thinks of parallel verses and other verses the Spirit lays on her heart related to what she is reading.  Wait a minute, how is that terminology or language any different than what people she criticized in other articles used in their nonsense?  Is it somehow more orthodox for her to use that phrasing because she is more orthodox in her beliefs?

There is also an old article by Ken Silva.  Pastor Silva did some great work that still is beneficial to a lot of people as he exposed a lot bad teaching from wolves.  This is the link to the article: http://apprising.org/2005/10/24/the-devils-trying-to-kill-america/, and this is the section I am referring to:

In conclusion, to encourage you to spend more time in prayer with God, who loves you more purely than anyone ever could, and to illustrate the importance of prayer, I’ll share with you something that Leonard Ravenhill was on hand to witness one day. While brother Ravenhill might not be familiar to you, in his day he was one of England’s foremost outdoor evangelists. He tells the story:

One day I was at a conference with Dr. V. Raymond Edman of Wheaton College, one of the greatest Christian educators in the U.S. He told of an experience he had while he was in Ecuador as a missionary. He hadn’t been there long before he was sick and dying. He was so near death that they had already dug his grave. He had great beads of sweat on his brow and there was a death rattle in his throat. But suddenly he sat straight up in bed and said to his wife, “Please, bring me my clothes.” Nobody knew what happened.

Many years later he was retelling the story in Boston. Afterward, a little old lady with a small, dog-eared, beaten-up book, approached him and asked, “What day did you say you were dying?” What time was it in Ecuador? What time would that be in Boston?” When he answered her, her wrinkled face lit up. Pointing to her book, she said, “There it is, you see? At 2 a.m. God said to get up and pray–the Devil’s trying to kill Raymond Edman in Ecuador!” And she’d gotten up, and she’d prayed.

Christian, Jesus has heard your heart cry of near despair: Will somebody please throw me a lifeline! And I encourage you to grab on to that lifeline of prayer and to hold on for dear life. I leave you with a final point: Just like that little old lady was asleep until she heard God tell her to get up and pray, so it is with the Evangelical Christian church in the United States, too many of us also are sleeping.

But if you go to your knees you will hear the voice of the Lord say: The time has come for the Body of Christ to wake up and pray–the Devil’s trying to kill America!

And now the question becomes: Are we going to be like that dear little old lady; are we going to get up and pray?

By the definition of the discernment people, she is claiming to hear directly from God, a clear communication from Him for her to get out of bed and pray, which would seem to be a violation of extra-biblical revelation.  She was not reading her bible or in prayer or even awake.  She was sleeping and God told her to get out of bed and pray for Mr. Edman because he was sick.  This is something the discernment people would criticize if someone like Brian Houston or Steven Furtick said it.

My point is that all those who in some type of ministry full time are there because they believe they are answering a call from God to do be involved in the ministry.  And they will also say that only those are called should be pastors.  At some point we must decide what language can be used and how much is God involved in this world.

It almost seems like some believe that God is almost hands-off in the workings of this world and that God has spoken through His word and that’s final, and also claim He has absolute sovereignty and can do what He wishes.  I agree that the nonsense and shenanigans that is going on in Charismania is not from God or the working of the Holy Spirit.  But on the other hand, how much is God involved in this world and how does the Spirit guide us?

The Spirit is living within His people.  Is He just sitting there?  Does He direct these discernment bloggers to write about this person or that person?  If the Spirit is sanctifying us, is He doing is passively or actively?  Does the Spirit prompt us to speak to a certain individual?  How can we lean on God if are not certain where to go?  The bible doesn’t specifically say, “John MacArthur, I am calling you to be a pastor,” but he must have had some notion that was what God was calling him to do, which would be an extra-biblical communication.

Someone recently posted a quote from R. C. Sproul about one way to live out one’s faith is to serve others, or something to that effect.  Isn’t that what these seeker-driven churches teach as well?  I understand they put too much emphasis on volunteering and serving and not enough on learning doctrine and bible teaching.  But if we take the quote from Dr. Sproul he would seem to be in agreement with the seeker-driven model.

I guess what I am saying in a roundabout way is that we should focus on the fruits and doctrine these false teachers are teaching, and have less focus on how they are claiming to receive these teachings.  In the end if it is contrary to what the Word of God teaches then it does not matter how they claim or explain how they received it.  It can only come from two places if it is not from God: either from their own fetid imagination or from Satan himself.  Let Christ judge them about their false claims of revelation.

not sure if this is coherent

Jesus did not want cowards and wishy-washy followers.  He did not want people who were sprouted of the seed that landed in the rocky soil, the road or among the weeds.  He wants those who are of the good soil.  Jesus said a lot of challenging things that caused a lot of those who were witnesses to and partakers in His ministry and miracles.

These megachurch preachers are teaching a watered-down message somewhat related to the bible, like a distant cousin, forty times removed.  They are sprinkling their messages with bible verses and Christian lingo so it appears to be truly from God but it is far from what the bible teaches, and very far from God.

Throughout the gospels Jesus taught about His Father.  He taught about how the way we live is completely opposed to His Father, in that we fail to recognize and understand His sovereignty over external things and internal things.  He taught His Father was approachable but not until our sin was dealt with, that we were washed clean so that we can to enter into His throne room.

The Father is concerned with our daily physical needs.  He cares for the birds of the air and the beasts of the field, and the flowers that bloom in their season.  He cares to send rain in the proper time for the harvest.  How much more does He care for us since we are made in His image?

But He was infinitely more concerned about our internal (spiritual) needs.  Jesus did not come primarily to teach about the Father and to train His disciples for the ministry after He had fulfilled the purpose of His being born.  He was born to die for the sins of the world and to bring life to that that was dead.

If we are to be those who daily pick up our cross and follow Jesus then we are to accept all of His teachings.  We are to accept the teachings that tell us that the Father cares for us more than the any other part of His creation.  We are to accept Jesus’ teaching that we dead in our sins and we need to be made righteous before the Father or Hell is where we are destined to spend eternity.

We are also to accept His claims about Himself.  We are to accept His claims to be the only Son of the Living God, that He was the manna in the wilderness for the nation of Israel, and that He is the only way into Heaven.  No one can get to the Father except through Him.  Through Him means through the blood He shed as the Passover Lamb for our sins, our propitiation as our High Priest, and His advocacy on our behalf as He sits at the right hand of His, and our, Heavenly Father.

In short, we are to believe what is easy to believe and also what is difficult believe, about what Jesus teaches about us and about Himself.

emotion overload

A sermon was preached recently and the final point from the pastor was that God wants our hearts, not our heads (as if we could effectively separate the two).  There are so many things wrong with the point.  It is really illogical in that it makes no sense to only interact with anyone with just your heart, never mind love anyone, and not involve some type of thought or consideration.  It is not only illogical but virtually impossible.  But why would God or His Son Jesus only want just one part of us?

We see the obvious conclusion when Jesus is asked what the greatest commandment is.  He to love the Lord your God with all you heart, mind, soul and strength, and the second is to love your neighbor.  These two sum up all of the Law of Moses.  Jesus included the mind, which is located in the head.  So why would Jesus include the mind if all He believed He needed was our heart?  How can we understand Him, His statutes and His teachings if we do not use our heads?

The other part is probably more critical.  An illustration is needed which is how I explained it to my wife.  When you start a new relationship with a person that has the intention of romance what rules the relationship in the beginning?  The heart.  You cannot wait to see the person again, to spend hours talking about nothing and everything.  And then the emotions begin to fade away.  Now you need to make a decision.  Do I stay with this person or move on to ride the next emotional wave?  You must admit that you must use your head to make this decision because I think we all have learned that we should not make decisions with just our hearts, or with just our head for that matter, certain disaster 95% of the time.

When the emotions become dominant in our walk of faith with Christ we become spiritual junkies going from conferences to revival meetings seeking that next emotional fix.  We cannot sustain a relationship on just the emotional rush because we would become burned out and exhausted, and jaded towards the cause of that emotional rush.

We must engage the heart and mind if we are to worship and serve our Heavenly Father, His Son Jesus our Lord and Savior and King, and the Holy Spirit.  That is the true essence of worship of a true believer in Christ.  We are shortchanging God and our own person if we neglect to incorporate all of us in our relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

righteous anger

Someone asked me when we should turn the other cheek. This is a complicated issue.  This was a follow-up to why did Jesus not defend Himself against the false accusations of the Pharisees before the Sandedrin and Pilate.  I told the person that in that situation it a singular circumstance.  It was necessary for Him to suffer as the Messiah for the sake of our sins.  He certainly could’ve defended Himself, as He said to Peter, when he cut the ear off the servant, that if He was to be spared of the crucifixion He could call to His Father who would send angels to fight for Him.

So the next question was when do we turn the other cheek as followers of Christ? Interesting question I said because the person was trying to figure out why I would be angry if I was accused of doing something I didn’t do.  If I am accused of something that only affects me then I should turn the other cheek.  But if it has a residual effect or causes collateral damage then I should defend myself because it could affect my position with other people, like business partners, clients, sons, daughters, etc.

What about physical violence? Again, if it is against my physical person for the sake of the name of my Lord then I am to endure whatever happens.  But if it is a case of me being a victim of a crime or in defense of others then I am at liberty to defend myself and others against the attacker.

The person then asked when is it right to be angry or when does the bible say it is right to be angry? I answered that we are to be passionate about our defense against those who are set out to distort the Word of God.  We are to expose the teachings of those who are deliberately deceiving people for the sake of their own selfish gain through deceptive interpretation of bible passages.  We are to defend the honor of God and our Lord, not that He could not do it on His own but we are His ambassadors and it is our responsibility represent and defend our King.

So, the short answer is that we are to defend against those who attack the defenseless or weaker people, and defend the Holiness of God against heretical teachings and people who seek to gain material wealth and power over people.