Thursday, December 15, 2011

Unbelief is Ever Present

"Unbelief is one of the commonest spiritual diseases in these latter days. It meets us at every turn, and in every company. Like the Egyptian plague of frogs, it makes its way into every family and home, and there seems no keeping it out. Among high and low, and rich and poor, in town and in country, in universities and manufacturing towns, in castles and in cottages, you will continually find some form of unbelief. It is no longer a pestilence which walks in darkness, but a destruction which wastes at noonday. Unbelief is even thought clever and intellectual, and a mark of a thoughtful mind. Society seems leavened with it. He who avows his belief of everything contained in the Bible, must make up his mind in many companies to be smiled at contemptuously, and thought an ignorant and weak man." (J.C. Ryle)

 Additional Resources 

Daily J. C. Ryle Quotes

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Bestseller "Experiencing God" Misleading Christians With "Soft" Mysticism?

Posted by Christine Pack

Reverend Jack Hughes and Reverend Justin Peters recently gave an interview in which they discussed their concerns with bestseller Experiencing (by Henry Blackaby and Claude King). This is such an important topic because this book is HUGE - beyond huge, really - in evangelical circles. My sister has a theory that the soft mysticism as taught by Blackaby leads to the hardcore mysticism of Richard Foster, Dallas Willard and the Spiritual Disciplines so big in evangelicalism today. In other words, Blackaby's Experiencing God book has primed the pump, so to speak, in helping Christians become attuned to the idea that they should be "hearing from God." In fact, in this interview, Reverend Justin Peters makes the point that Blackaby goes so far as to say that if you are not hearing from God, then something is wrong with your Christian walk! This is terrible teaching for the Christian, and absolutely not true. But once Christians have become opened up to this idea that they can and should be hearing from God on a regular basis, then they will be all the more open to the techniques and practices offered up in the Spiritual Disciplines of the Spiritual Formation movement that is so popular today, and which will ensure some kind of spiritual experience. But please note that while the experiences achieved through these techniques will be spiritual in nature, the fact remains that the techniques themselves are pagan and occultic in origin, and are thus forbidden to Christians. And that means that God will not reveal himself to man through occultic means......therefore, any "spirit" encountered through these techniques will not be of God.

In fact, a general rule of thumb for the Christian is this: we don't need any techniques or tricks for getting to God. We already have access to God, knowing that we can go boldly before the throne of grace because of the shed blood of Jesus. We also are counseled by the book of Hebrews (and elsewhere) that we are a people who are to walk by faith, not by sight, and that we must guard against the human tendency to insist upon tangibility in our encounters with God.

 Additional Resources 

Unbiblical Teachings on Prayer and Experiencing God: How Mysticism Misleads Christians by Bob DeWaay

God's Will and Christian Liberty - Part 1 and Part 2

Pastor Gary Gilley Reviews Experiencing God - Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Glory of Jesus

Posted by Christine Pack

When I was growing up, the church my family attended organized many activities for celebrating Christmas and the birth of Jesus. Our church was large enough to boast several opera trained singers and even a few musicians who were members of our city's world-class symphony; excellent Christmas programs were always offered up by the choir director. There was a magnificent tree in the main hall that the ladies of the church put up each year that was splendidly decorated with beautiful, carefully crafted hand-made ornaments, a labor of love that had taken several years to complete. There were sing-alongs, bonfires, food and clothing drives to help the poor, and of course, the Christmas play.

But when I think back to the actual theology taught to me about Jesus by this church, I am sad to say that I remember an overemphasis upon Jesus' humanity, and an under-emphasis of his Deity. Jesus was taught as a good teacher and a good man, a man who lived a life so virtuous that we should strive to model our own lives after it. The crucifixion was taught as the ultimate act of Jesus identifying with mankind in his suffering. All in all, this church presented what I now regard as a very "small" view of Jesus. Yes, Jesus did live as a man, He did live a very good and virtuous life, and He did identify with mankind. We should, by God's grace and the power of the Holy Spirit, seek to honor the Lord with our lives. But that is not the entire story. There is much more!

A few nights ago, my sons and I were watching The Nativity Story (my all time favorite Christmas movie ever-ever-ever). My boys are now at ages where their questions have become very deep and very challenging. While watching this movie about Jesus' first Incarnation, one of them was prompted to ask about Jesus' second coming. What a glorious thought! I began to tell them about the oft-neglected book of Revelation, which is the only book in the Bible that gives a very specific promise to those who study this book:
"Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near." Rev 1:3
According to Revelation, someday Jesus will come back in might and glory, to judge all the earth. He will not be Jesus "meek and mild," as He was the first time He came to earth......He will be glorious, and his magnificence and Deity will be unveiled for all the world to see!

Revelation 1:14 describes Jesus as having eyes like blazing fire....but these are the same eyes that looked with compassionate tenderness upon the diseased and crippled before He reached forth to heal them.

Revelation 1:15 says that his voice had the sound of many rushing waters, like a mighty ocean....but this is the same voice that spoke to the dead Lazarus and bid him to live and come forth.

Revelation 19:12 says that when He returns, He will have many crowns upon his head......but this is the same head that once wore a painful crown of thorns as Jesus did when He was mocked and tortured on his way to the Cross.

Revelation 1:15 says that his feet are like "bronze glowing in a furnace," while Revelation 19:15 says that his feet will tread the winepress of the Lord's fury against all unrighteousness......but these are the same feet that were nailed to a Roman cross as Jesus willingly gave his life as a ransom for many.

Revelation 19:15 also says that out of his mouth comes a sharp sword which He will use in judgment to strike down the nations....but this is also the mouth that spoke the words "It is finished" after He had suffered the agonies of hell for the undeserving and the unrighteous.

Someday He will return. Are you ready to meet the Lord? What stops you from running to the Savior and falling at his feet? Today can be the day of to Jesus! He bids you come to him. He is just and holy and pure.....but He is also filled with mercy and love for you. He has made a way for you to be saved. Will you go to him today?

photo credit: (ノಥ益ಥ)ノ uɐp~ via photopin cc

 Additional Resources 

Should Christians Celebrate Christmas? (Dr. John MacArthur, GTY)

God Came Near (Sola Sisters)

The Glory of Jesus (Sola Sisters)

Should We Have A Christmas Tree? (Got Questions?)

Christian Christmas Grinches (Kevin DeYoung)

Christmas is Just A Christianized Pagan Celebration? Not So Fast..... (Sola Sisters)

Exposé of Alexander Hislop's The Two Babylons (UK Apologetics)