Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Commentary on The Harbinger

Posted by Christine Pack

(Update 9/5/13: After learning that Jonathan Cahn claims he is not a gnostic, I have edited this post to better reflect what I'm saying.)

A book called The Harbinger is fast becoming a lightning rod issue among evangelical Christians, with many Christians saying it is exactly what America needs right now to "wake up" and repent, and come back to biblical truth, but other Christians having concerns over how Cahn interprets certain passages meant only for Israel as if they have application for America today. The cover of Cahn's book (right) states that The Harbinger is an "Ancient Mystery that Holds the Secret of America's Future."

Could this be true? Could it be that there are hidden truths that need to be decoded and unveiled to Christians today? And if so, for what purpose? Cahn seems to think so, and has written a book which proclaims that. The Harbinger is a fiction book, and features a character known as The Prophet who is slowly giving seals to one of the main characters. These seals contain messages (nine in all) which are meant to be put together as clues in a mystery, so that a final, distinct message will emerge and be revealed. This message, once decoded, is intimated to hold the secret to bringing America back to its moral center and becoming once again a Godly nation.

After hearing Jonathan Cahn speak a few times, and after reading the book, I will say that Cahn does give a clear gospel message in The Harbinger, but at the same time, I do have some concerns about this book which I will address here.

 Gnosticism 

There is an exchange between two of the characters in The Harbinger who are discussing a secret message from a mysterious character ("The Prophet") in the book:
"It's the appointed time, but not for an ancient nation. It's time for the word to be given.....for the mystery to be revealed.....for the message to go forth. It's the appointed time⎯but not for an ancient nation." (The Harbinger, p 13)
Friends, anytime you see language like this, and like the language below (also from The Harbinger).....
■ "ancient mystery hidden for thousands of years......but now revealed" 
■ a "mystery" that holds a "secret" to our future 
■ "clues" needed to "unlock" a mystery 
■ "messages" that need to be "unveiled"
......what you are dealing with is an ancient heresy called Gnosticism.

Gnosticism is a very old heresy that teaches that the truth has to be decoded, uncovered, unlocked, unveiled, discovered.
Secret Knowledge = Gnosticism
Gnosticism is a heresy because, according to God, we are given all that we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3) in God's word. We don't need to decode secret mysteries, unravel sealed up messages, decipher clues, or pull back the veil on hidden things. All that we need, all that God wants us to know, is contained in the Bible. Now, I will grant that in the New Testament, Paul does talk about the mystery of Gentiles and Jews being united together in a common church and common faith (something that could have scarcely been imagined in Old Testament times). There is also the mystery of Jesus Christ, who was dimly glimpsed through types and shadows in the Old Testament, but Who was gloriously revealed in his fullness as our Savior in the New Testament. But these are mysteries which are laid open for all to see and know and understand and respond to, and not clues on a Mysterious Journey to Somewhere (which is really the more western understanding of the word "mystery").
"I have not spoken in secret, from somewhere in a land of darkness; I have not said to Jacob's descendants, 'Seek me in vain.' I, the LORD, speak the truth; I declare what is right."(Isaiah 45:19)
As a former Gnostic, I found great comfort as a born again Christian in understanding that all that God truly wants me to know He has plainly revealed in his Word. I spent more than a decade of my life as a New Ager/Gnostic going from teaching to teaching to teaching. I lost track of how many conferences I went to, books I purchased, teachers and gurus that I sought out, all in an effort to find truth. My quest for truth was sincere, but truth proved to be surprisingly elusive to attain. By the time God saved me, I was weary. I was worn out. I didn't have it in me to go after One More Thing. All I could think of at the end was that I wanted rest, just a little bit of rest, from all my fruitless searching. The Lord, in his infinite mercy, gave me rest by rescuing me out of the mire of man-made wisdom and giving me the elegant simplicity of his Word. There is such a lovely purity and clarity in knowing that I can rest securely in the knowledge that all that God wants me to know I can find in the Bible.
"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28)
Now please understand that I'm not saying that Jonathan Cahn is a heretic or a gnostic. My concern, however, is in the way that Cahn seems to interpret at least portions of the Bible as if looking through the lens of gnosticism. And for myself personally, that hermeneutic of viewing the Bible as sort of this big pile of clues to be decoded is just not wise, and not a good interpretative model. If you are unfamiliar with the teaching of Gnosticism, please listen here to Phil Johnson's in-depth discussion of Gnosticism.

 Fiction? or Fiction Masquerading Itself as Fact? 

Much like William P. Young's troublesome book The Shack, The Harbinger also has a fictional character who is teaching things that are contrary to Scripture, but which the author wants to claim as truth. Of course, when pressed on the biblical problems with the teachings, both Young and Cahn have resorted to saying, But it's only a fictional character! The problem with this is that Young and Cahn both personally believe what they have written, and are seeking to teach a wide audience of readers what they believe to be true, while hiding behind the label "Fiction."

 The Truth About America's Future 

The truth about America's future (and the future of all nations, for that matter), is that God holds the future in His hands. Yes, we should pray, we are commanded and exhorted to pray, but ultimately, we know that our sovereign Lord will work all things together for the good of those who love him and for HIS own purposes (Romans 8:28). And sometimes, in God's sovereign wisdom, this means that He will allow countries to fall, and nations to topple. Even, that is, nations that He has used in a mighty way to proclaim his truth to the world. I certainly do not desire to see America fall, and I pray for the leaders of this country, but at the same time, we know from the Bible that God has often used times of distress and difficulty as a means of chastening and disciplining his people.
"The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will." (Proverbs 21:1)
When I was a fairly new Christian, I came across a resource called James Ussher's Chronological Chart of History that helped steady my thinking in this regard. James Ussher was a 17th century Anglican bishop who painstakingly charted out the bloodline from Adam and Eve to Jesus.  His chart features the Biblical timeline going across the top and the corresponding world history underneath it. It's so amazing to look at this chart, and see God's hand sovereignly guiding all of human history.  Below the scarlet thread of Jesus's bloodline, you see nations and kings rise and fall, rise and fall, but above it all, God's bloodline marches steadily onward toward the fulfillment of his purposes.

As Americans, we tend to think that we are so mighty, the greatest nation on earth.  Well, when you look at Ussher's timeline, you realize that ALL these kingdoms once had their day in the sun, but where are they now? Egypt was once the mightiest nation in the world, known for the architectural magnificence of their awe-inspiring pyramids, and for taming the Nile River. Babylon, known for their acclaimed Hanging Gardens, and brilliant military campaigns led by Nebuchadnezzar. Rome, their amazing Roman roads and contributions to education and government. Where are they now? Some of them are still around, but do they rule the world? Looking at this chart is truly humbling, and it brings the deeper realization that all that is here will one day be burned up and destroyed, when God himself creates a new heavens and a new earth. No government that exists here on earth - not even America - will be reigning in that Kingdom to come. But this is not bad news, this is glorious, good news, that should gladden the heart of all who truly love God and bend the knee to his sovereign will and purposes.

As far as America goes, all people everywhere are commanded to repent and believe on Christ for the forgiveness of sins, but that is not the basic message of this book. This book teaches that there is a secret message encoded in the Bible that needs to be decoded to be understood, and if we will only buy this book and decode this message, then we can bring America back. But as I wrote above, this is the heresy of Gnosticism. Our country does not need a "special" Gnostic teaching to tell us more than we already know about repentance, salvation and the forgiveness of sins. In fact, I tend to agree with John MacArthur (When God Abandons A Nation), that when we look around us, we don't need to wonder, will we be judged? because we are already under judgment. First came the sexual revolution of the 60s/70s/80s (Romans 1:24), then came the homosexual revolution (Romans 1:26-27), and next comes the debased mind (Romans 1:28). We are following the trajectory laid out in Romans 1, and where we are indicates not a country that is basically good and can come back to its moral center, but a country that has been given over to its depravity. So we can churn out book after book about "taking back America" and "reclaiming America" (including Jonathan Cahn's The Harbinger), but in my opinion, America is past the tipping point. True Bible-believing Christians are in the minority in this country, and a minority is never going to reclaim a culture. We need to proclaim the gospel and snatch the few that we can from the flames.

 Jonathan Cahn Goes on Glenn Beck's Show To Discuss How To "Save A Nation" 

Harbinger author Jonathan Cahn joined Mormon Glenn Beck for two segments of Beck's June 26/June 27 programs, and said the following things about The Harbinger:
"The Harbinger is a two and a half thousand year mystery that lies behind everything." 
"The message of The Harbinger is not to condemn, it's to wake up and it's to call back. This is I believe coming out now for a reason, it's to save a nation, and to turn back."
"We can't maintain our blessings without God.....America is blessed as much as America follows God. If America does not follow God, you cannot expect the smiles of heaven."
Once again, a Gnostic teaching about a "mystery" that has to be decoded, and a call for America to turn back to God. But, why is Jonathan Cahn, who is a Christian pastor, linking with a Mormon (Glenn Beck) in order to proclaim his message? Christians and Mormons do not worship the same God, and for Cahn to appear with Mormon Glenn Beck and for the two to discuss God and America turning back to God can only serve to send a very confusing message to the world about who "God" is.

 Conclusion 

Does The Harbinger hold clues to helping America find her way back God? In my view, Jonathan Cahn's book is "hooking" those Christians in America who are burdened over the rising tide of immorality in our country, and who desire for America to repent and come back to the Lord. This is not a wrong or wicked desire.....it's just that, it might not play out that way, in God's sovereign plan. And this desire can become problematic, especially when Christians begin linking with non-Christians (as Jonathan Cahn did with Mormon Glenn Beck) in an effort to force those desires to come to fruition.
"Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?" (2 Corinthians 6:14)

 Additional Resources 

Can Scripture Ever Mean What It Never Meant? Case Study: The Harbinger (Pastor Eric Douma)

Implications of The Harbinger (Erin Benziger)

The Harbinger: Fact or Fiction? (David James)

The Harbinger: Prophetic Fact or Fickle Fiction (Apprising Ministries)

The Harbinger - A Review and Commentary (Pastor Larry DeBruyn)

The Harbinger - A Review (Pastor Gary Gilley)

What To Make Of The Harbinger Mystery (Stand Up For The Truth, Amy Spreeman)

The Rise and Fall of World Powers (Dr. John MacArthur)

When Contending Becomes Cantankerous (a pro-Harbinger interview, with Jan Markell, Eric Barger, Jill Martin Rische)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Dr. John MacArthur On The NAR's Agenda To "Reclaim the Culture"

Dr. John MacArthur
Posted by Christine Pack

In a recent interview, Dr. John MacArthur, author and pastor of Grace Community Church (Sun Valley, CA), was asked about the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), and their plan to "reclaim the culture" through their "7 Mountain Mandate," a Dominionist agenda aimed at "taking back" the culture for Christ. The radio host noted that many Christian activist groups have aligned themselves with the New Apostolic Reformation, a theologically unsound movement, which was recently coined “the most important Christian movement in America you have never heard of” by NPR. Dr. MacArthur responded by giving a fascinating history lesson about morality and first century Judaism:
Question: Dr. MacArthur, I was told by (Christian political activists who had united with the New Apostolic Reformation), "Well, we have to unite with a lot of people who have different theological beliefs in order to reclaim the culture." 
Answer: First of all, they're not gonna "reclaim the culture,"that is a ridiculous concept. Let me give you a perspective on this. The Pharisees and the Sadducees had created in the land of Israel a moral culture, the Pharisees in particular, the Scribes, the Pharisees, and the Rabbis. They had created a moral culture. In other words, they had created a fastidious culture in which all of the normal, categorical sins were excluded from society. They had a kind of "form of godliness," the Apostle Paul called it.  I would say that based upon Old Testament moral standards, the culture of Israel when our Lord came was the most moral culture in the history of Israel, and therefore more moral than any culture because it at least had the Bible, the Old Testament, to base it on. They'd gotten rid of idolatry after the Babylonian captivity, there were no idols in the land, they were living fastidiously by the Law, the Pharisees were in control, and they were the rigid legalists, they had disseminated this religion throughout the land of Israel. And Jesus came into that situation and basically condemned the entire thing, and basically said, this is what is going to send you to Hell. And Paul picks up on that and says, they're going about to establish their own righteousness. They don't know how holy God is, they don't know how unholy they are, Romans 10, the only way to be saved is to call on the name of the Lord. So what do you get when you're done reclaiming the culture? What have you got? You've got first century Judaism, and Jesus came and said, "your house is left to you desolate," you're going to be destroyed. And in 70 A.D., the Romans were God's divine weapon that came in and massacred, I think Josephus says that, we don't know the numbers are exactly accurate, a million Jews were killed, 985 towns in Israel were sacked, and people were slaughtered. Divine judgment fell on the most moral society maybe that the world has ever known, based on Old Testament morality and superficiality. So what do you get when you get a moral society? You get a society of people insulated against the true understanding on their own wretched hearts. 
Another thing to say about it is, look, I believe America is under Divine judgment, and I'm not saying that just as a whim. Romans 1 says, Romans 1:18 says, the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all unrighteousness of men who hold the truth in unrighteousness. Okay, if we took America and asked, did we have the truth? We had the truth, yes. But we have held the truth in unrighteousness, getting increasingly unrighteous. So what is the wrath of God against us? Well, it defines it in verses 24, 26 and 28. "He gave them over," "He gave them over," "He gave them over." This is not eschatalogical wrath, this is not eternal wrath, this is not sort of consequential wrath (sowing and reaping), this is not cataclysmic wrath, like the flood or like a tidal wave, this is the wrath of abandonment. God gave them over, gave them over, gave them over. And you see a sequence. When this wrath acts - and according to Acts 14 He allows all the nations to go their own way, so this is the cycle of human history - when this wrath is in action, the first thing he says is, God gave them over to fornication. The first thing that happens, you will notice a sexual revolution, you will notice that sexual behavior will begin to be accepted outside of marriage. Then he says in verse 26, He gave them over to homosexuality, women with women doing that which is unacceptable, men with men, and it even talks about getting the due results of their sin, which would be something like AIDS. So you can tell when a society has been turned over by God, abandoned: first, there's the sexual revolution, that's the 60's, the whole Playboy sexual deal, the hippie culture, then you get a homosexual revolution. Then verse 28, God gives them over to a reprobate mind. Now nobody can think straight, and all the stuff that follows out of that. I think that's what we're seeing in America. You're not gonna overpower God's judgment on this country at that level.

 Additional Resources 

Tim Keller and the Problems with Ignatius of Loyola

Posted by Christine Pack
"The best things that have been written, almost, are by Catholics during the counter Reformation: Ignatius of Loyola, St. Francis de SalesJohn of the CrossSt. Theresa of Ávila.....great stuff." (Tim Keller)
Pastor Tim Keller
In a recent post, we documented that Tim Keller, a Presbyterian-PCA pastor and a leader of The Gospel Coalition, had given a talk in which he pointed his followers to the teachings of Ignatius of Loyola. In this post, we will be documenting more specifically the problems with Ignatius of Loyola. Our position is that, in today's church, the sad fact is that many Christians are not very discerning about what is biblical or not biblical, what is true and not true, and will often default to simply trusting their pastors to give them sound teaching and good book recommendations. Christian brothers and sisters, we should respect our Bible-teaching pastors, but at the same time, we are not off the hook for being discerning about any and every teaching that is recommended to us.
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:8) 
Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. (Acts 17:11)
And so why, exactly, might it be a bad thing for an evangelical pastor like Tim Keller to give a positive recommendation of Ignatius of Loyola to his followers?  Because Ignatius of Loyola, a Roman Catholic and the founder of the Jesuit Society, wrote a book called Spiritual Exercises which was written as a counter-attack against the Protestant Reformation, and against which Ignatius was vehemently opposed. In short, Ignatius of Loyola poured his life's work into destroying the Protestant Reformation. So the fact that a Protestant pastor of some stature would recommend his work is almost incomprehensible to anyone with even a little bit of knowledge about church history. A few excerpts from Ignatius of Loyola's Spiritual Exercises:


 2nd Rule 

"To praise confession to a priest" 

Our Response: The Bible tells us to "call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Matthew 23:9; and to "confess your sins one to another" (James 5:16)

 5th Rule  

"To praise vows of Religion, of obedience, of poverty, of chastity and of other perfections of supererogation."

Our Response: Supererogation means "a class of actions that go 'beyond the call of duty.' "  These kinds of actions are encouraged by the Roman Catholic Church for the purpose of promoting a (false) sense of righteousness and piety. As Christians, we know that our righteousness comes from Christ alone, and through any works of our own. ("Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to the Cross I cling.")  (1 Corinthians 1:30)

 6th Rule 

"To praise relics of the Saints, giving veneration to them and praying to the Saints."

Our Response: This practice is absolutely nowhere in the Bible. In fact, we regard this to be a Satanic device designed to get our eyes off of Christ and his finished work on the Cross. It it is only through the blood of Christ that we are able to pray to God.  Jesus alone is our mediator....not dead men and women have lived in ages past. We pray to God alone, and only God hears our prayers, and only He has the power to respond to our prayers. (Hebrews 4:14-16)

 8th Rule 

"To praise the ornaments and the buildings of churches; likewise images, and to venerate them according to what they represent."

Our Response: Same as for Rule 6.

 13th Rule 

"To be right in everything, we ought always to hold that the white which I see, is black, if the Hierarchical Church so decides it, believing that between Christ our Lord, the Bridegroom, and the Church, His Bride, there is the same Spirit which governs and directs us for the salvation of our souls. Because by the same Spirit and our Lord Who gave the ten Commandments, our holy Mother the Church is directed and governed."

Our Response: According to Ignatius, the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church are "more right" than Jesus/Scripture. But the Bible tells us that "In the beginning was the Word (Jesus), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1:1) And the way that we know truth and Jesus himself is through the study of Scripture. We don't need a church to interpret God's word for us.

Our Final Thoughts: All Bible-believing Protestants should praise God for providentially orchestrating the Reformation and the printing press so that the God-breathed, inerrant Word of God could be known all over the world. God provided faithful men during the Reformation who reclaimed the faith from Roman Catholicism for us, and then God oversaw the development of the printing press so that all the world could read the Bible for themselves. What an amazing God! And yet, many pastors today are turning away from the blood-bought truths reclaimed during the Reformation for the heresies and man-made snares of Roman Catholicism. It's almost inconceivable that such a thing could even happen, and yet......





Mysticism: Spiritual Crack (Sola Sisters)

Catholic Mysticism Infused Into Our Society (Berean Beacon)

Why the Reformation Was Important (Sola Sisters)

After The Darkness, Light (Post Tenebras Lux) (Sola Sisters)

Biblically Explaining The Heresy of Catholicism (Dr. John MacArthur)

A Chart With Christian/Catholic Views Side-By-Side (Berean Beacon)

Testimony of a Former Roman Catholic Priest....From Darkness to Light (Berean Beacon)

Far From Rome Near To God (Amazon)

On The "Faith" of Mother Teresa: John Ortberg Strikes Out (Sola Sisters)

The Myth of Mother Teresa (Challies)

Mother Teresa A Lost Soul (Berean Beacon)

Mother Teresa in Her Own Words (Sola Sisters)

CNN Reports That Mother Teresa Underwent Exorcism (CNN Archives)

BBC Reports About Exorcism Performed on Mother Teresa (BBC Archives)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Mark Driscoll Proud of the Dead Bodies Behind The Mars Hill Bus?

Posted by Christine Pack

Chris Rosebrough, host of the Fighting For The Faith radio show, recently ran a program in which he has documented the spiritual abuse being done at the hands of well-known megachurch pastors, including:
■ Creflo Dollar (pastor of World Changers Church International) 
Eric Dykstra (pastor of The Crossing Church, Elk River, MN) 
 Steven Furtick (pastor of Elevation Church, Charlotte, NC) 
Dan Southerland (pastor and author of Transitioning) 
■ Mark Driscoll (author and pastor of Mars Hill Church)
Here's Mark Driscoll, addressing a group of Acts 29 church planting leaders, talking about what he does when somebody in the church is not in step with his "vision" for the church:
"Here's what I've learned. You cast vision for your mission, and if people don't sign up, you move on. You move on. There are people that are gonna die in the wilderness, and there are people that are gonna take the hill. That's just how it is. Too many guys waste too much time trying to move stiff necked, stubborn, obstinate people. I am all about blessed subtraction. There is a pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus (chuckle), and by God's grace, it'll be a mountain by the time we're done.... ‎You either get on the bus, or you get run over by the bus. Those are the options. But the bus ain't gonna stop." (audio here)
I just finished listening to this program yesterday, and I can't even express how thankful I am that this important program about spiritual abuse was done. I even got a little emotional during the segment in which talk show host Chris Rosebrough talks about the need for the Christian men of today to rise up and say "Enough!" and take a stand against false teaching. As a very new Christian, I remember sitting in my pastor's office and pleading with him about false teaching, specifically "Christian" yoga and Roman Catholic mysticism. You have to remember, I came OUT of eastern style mantra meditation and mysticism....this was precisely what God had saved me out of. And yet, here it was coming into my church! And so I pleaded about this with my pastor, saying to him very plainly, "Listen, I want to be protected, I'm looking to you for that. I'm just a new Christian. But I know that stuff is wrong, from my own personal experience. I need a pastor who will stand at the door and say, you will not bring that false teaching into my church!" Well sadly, this pastor continued down that path for a season, and my husband and I eventually left the church. (That pastor has since come back to solid, expository preaching, and for that I am thankful, as I still have friends at that church.)

I cannot recommend enough this important program which exposes the cult-like, domineering, and controlling techniques that many (not all) megachurch pastors, including Mark Driscoll, employ to keep their flocks in line. And lest we lose sight of how a church should be pastored, let's look to what an undershepherd's responsibilities are, according to God's word:
"So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly." (1 Peter 5:1-4, my emphasis)
"An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it." (Titus 1:6-9, my emphasis)
It's time for leaders in Evangelicalism to figure out the problems with Mark Driscoll (and other pastors who use cult-like techniques to keep their flock in line), and as Chris Rosebrough exhorted, stand up and say, "Enough!" 

You can listen to the program in its entirety here.

 Additional Resources 

Mark Driscoll: A Timeline of His Downfall (Sola Sisters)

Paul Petry, Former Mars Hill Elder, Speaks Out (Sola Sisters)

An Elder's Wife Gives Her Testimony About Mars Hill Church (Sola Sisters)

Documenting the Problems with Mars Hill Pastor Mark Driscoll [UPDATED]

Mark Driscoll's Church Discipline Contract: Looking For True Repentance At Mars Hill Church? Sign On The Dotted Line (Matthew Paul Turner)

Another Fired Mars Hill Elder (Bent Meyer) Breaks His Silence (The Wartburg Watch)

Freedom For Captives Blog (Blog of Former Mars Hill Elder Bent Meyer)

Mark Driscoll: "What do you do with someone who is rebellious, hard-hearted, stiff necked and stupid? You break their nose." (The Wartburg Watch)

Mark Driscoll: The Face of Contemplative Calvinism (Sola Sisters)

Mark Driscoll: "Look, I had this vision. Let me tell you about it." (Sola Sisters)

Mark Driscoll speaking to demons: "I want to know who all is involved here and what we're dealing with." (Sola Sisters)

The Cult-Like Hostile Takeover Tactics of the Purpose-Driven Church Transitioning Seminar (Fighting For The Faith)

Resistance Is Futile: You Will Be Assimilated Into The Community (Fighting For The Faith)

What Does Spiritual Abuse Look Like? Former Staff Member Jeremy Rogahn of Crossing Church (Pastored by Eric Dykstra) in Elk River, MN Gives His Testimony (Fighting For The Faith)

Eric Dykstra and The Crossing Church (Apprising Ministries)

Move over, Herr Driscoll

Posted by Christine Pack

Move over Mark Driscoll, with all your talk of running over those pesky troublemakers who have questions. You're not the only Führer in town. Rick Warren likes to lay down the law, too.

(The below graphic has been verified to be authentic, and can be clicked on for better viewing.)




 Additional Resources 

Mark Driscoll Brags About the Pile of Bodies Behind the Mars Hill Bus (Fighting For The Faith)

Resistance Is Futile: You Will Be Assimilated Into The Community (Fighting For The Faith)

What Does Spiritual Abuse Look Like? Former Staff Member Jeremy Rogahn of Crossing Church (Pastored by Eric Dykstra) in Elk River, MN Gives His Testimony (Fighting For The Faith)

Eric Dykstra and The Crossing Church (Apprising Ministries)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Redeemer's Tim Keller Recommends Ignatius of Loyola?

Posted by Christine Pack

Pastor Tim Keller,
Redeemer Presbyterian
An excellent post by Pastor Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries points us to a talk by Tim Keller in which Keller points his followers to the mysticism of Roman Catholic Monastic practices for deepening their prayer lives. Keller, who is a Presbyterian-PCA pastor and a leader of The Gospel Coalition had this to say:
"The best things that have been written, almost, are by Catholics during the counter Reformation: Ignatius of Loyola, St. Francis de Sales, John of the Cross, St. Theresa of Ávila.....great stuff."
At the end of this short video is the reminder that Ignatius of Loyola founded the Jesuits in 1540 with the specific purpose of destroying the Protestant Reformation. The obvious question is: why would a Protestant pastor point Christians toward the teachings of a Roman Catholic mystic who poured his life's work into destroying the Protestant Reformation?

Let me also point out that the meditation practices of the Catholic mystics recommended by Pastor Keller are pagan, occultic practices. As a former mystic who was saved out of mysticism, my challenge to the church will always be this: what could a Catholic mystic who holds to Catholic doctrine (and thus is lost) teach us about deepening our relationship to God? These are pagan practices that have been Christianized with biblical terminology, but they are pagan to the core. Focusing repetitively on ANYTHING for a length of time (whether it is one's breathing, a candle, an icon, even a snippet of Scripture) will put someone into a light hypnotic state. Thus, the thing focused on becomes merely a device, so trying to clean this practice up by making the device a snippet of Scripture does not somehow sanctify this practice. Christians, I urge you to reject these unbiblical practices. Christians are meant to be a people who "walk by faith," (2 Cor 5:7not a people who walk by tangible experiences. In fact, the the entire book of Hebrews is written as a warning against tangibility, as this was a critical time in the church's history during which many Jewish Christians were struggling with the idea of giving up the tangibility of the sacrificial system which had been a part of their culture for several thousand years. Is this not what mysticism encourages, though? A chasing after of mystical encounters with "God?" I put "God" in quotes here because, as a former mystic, I can assure those who engage in mysticism that this is not the way we are to enter into God's presence. Those who engage in mysticism will encounter something of a spiritual nature. Only, it will not the God of the Bible.
"And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light." (2 Cor. 11:14)
I'm going to circle back to the Reformation here, and do a little history lesson. The Reformation came about when God providentially raised up brave men who were willing to fight for the truth, and point people back to God's Word instead of the fallible, human priests of the Roman Catholic church. The Roman Catholic church had had a spiritual stranglehold on the world for centuries, but through the providential invention of the printing press, and men like Martin Luther, John Huss, John Wycliff, etc., the tiny spark lit by Martin Luther's 95 Theses, a document exposing the unbiblical nature of Roman Catholic teaching, became a flame that tore through Europe and England, and eventually impacted the entire world. Men and women were now reading God's Word - truth - for themselves, not waiting for it to be told to them by priests.

Thus, the motto of the Reformation became Post Tenebras Lux (translated, After the Darkness, Light). This motto meant that truth (light) was now piercing a dark world that had been taken captive to mysticism and tradition....for lack of having access to the Bible.

And yet, with this willful embracing of mysticism in the church today, I sometimes think this generation's motto ought to be Post Lux Tenebram (After the Light, Darkness). By rejecting Sola Scriptura and embracing mysticism, the church today seems to be going back to the Middle Ages in which, instead of not knowing God's Word because it's not available to them (as was the issue during the Middle Ages), they now do not know God's Word because they are rejecting it in favor of mystical experiences. And pastors like Tim Keller are leading the way.




 Additional Resources 

Ignatius of Loyola, an Examination of His Teachings (Pastor Gary Gilley)

What Is Mysticism? (Sola Sisters)

Mysticism: Spiritual Crack (Sola Sisters)

Catholic Mysticism Infused Into Our Society (Berean Beacon)

Why the Reformation Was Important (Sola Sisters)

After The Darkness, Light (Post Tenebras Lux) (Sola Sisters)

Biblically Explaining The Heresy of Catholicism (Dr. John MacArthur)

A Chart With Christian/Catholic Views Side-By-Side (Berean Beacon)

Testimony of a Former Roman Catholic Priest....From Darkness to Light (Berean Beacon)

Far From Rome Near To God (Amazon)

On The "Faith" of Mother Teresa: John Ortberg Strikes Out (Sola Sisters)

The Myth of Mother Teresa
 (Challies)

Mother Teresa A Lost Soul (Berean Beacon)

Mother Teresa in Her Own Words (Sola Sisters)

CNN Reports That Mother Teresa Underwent Exorcism (CNN Archives)

BBC Reports About Exorcism Performed on Mother Teresa (BBC Archives)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Sovereignty of God

Posted by Christine Pack




"Thou, Lord, bruisest me, but I am abundantly
satisfied, since it is from Thy hand."


 -John Calvin



Tuesday, June 12, 2012

"Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" - Part 2

Posted by Christine Pack

 A Whisper of Hope  
The Mighty One, God, the Lord, 
    speaks and summons the earth 
    from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets. 
From Zion, perfect in beauty, 
    God shines forth. 
Our God comes and will not be silent; 
    a fire devours before him, 
   and around him a tempest rages. 
He summons the heavens above, 
   and the earth, that he may judge his people: 
“Gather to me my consecrated ones, 
   who made a covenant with me by sacrifice.”
And the heavens proclaim his righteousness, 
   for God himself is judge.
(Psalm 50:1-6)
What does the Lord mean when He utters these words in Psalm 50?
“Gather to me my consecrated ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice.”
He is telling us that our way to be reconciled to him - always - will be by a covenant made with Him by way of sacrifice. Way back in Psalms, there is a whisper, a hint, of the glorious salvation to come by way of Sacrifice.

In the Old Testament, this was pictured for us in the sacrificial system, a system practiced for thousands of years by the Jews. This involved sacrificing an unblemished animal (in itself a mercy, that God would allow an animal representative to temporarily cover the sins of the human who was bringing it for sacrifice, but still showing the seriousness of sin, in that blood was required for the sin to be covered).
“Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” Hebrews 9:22
In the New Testament, this sacrificial system was gloriously fulfilled in the One of whom John the Baptist said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) That One was Jesus Christ, the God-man who was both fully God and fully man, the One who manifested himself in the flesh that He might fulfill the righteous requirements of the Law. This was done out of the great mercy of God, who sought us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8), while we were dead in our trespasses and following the ways of this world (Eph 2:1-2).

The Old Testament sacrificial lamb: this was but a shadow of the New Testament Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, who came and gloriously fulfilled this shadow.
“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” 1 Peter 1:18-19
 Death in Adam, Life in Christ 

Jesus was "the last Adam" who did what the first Adam was unable to do: He fulfilled the righteous demands of the Law, and in so doing, He "earned" the right to give his life as a ransom for many:
“Thus it is written, 'The first man Adam became a living being'; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.” (1 Cor: 15:45)
Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. 
But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. 
Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:12-21)
The path to reconciliation with God - both Old Testament and New Testament - has always been through faith in God and his plan for salvation. In the Old Testament, God's faithful believers did not know that this plan was a man named Jesus who was God's own Son, who would fulfill the Law on our behalf, that He would suffer and die on a Cross, and that his blood would be shed as a ransom for many. They did not fully know what God's plan was for them, but by faith, they obeyed God in offering up sacrifices to him in the sacrificial system implemented by Him.

New Testament believers have the joy of having Christ himself, who gloriously fulfilled all the types and shadows of the Old Testament sacrificial system that were but dim pictures of him and the work of salvation the He did. We also have the Scripture, the completed and finished canon, which reveals in full God's plan of salvation. Glory to God, that in his boundless mercy He would make a way for wretched, sinful man to be reconciled to him.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Casting down every lofty thing

Posted by Christine Pack
Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? (1 Cor 1:20)
As a former practicing Hindu (now born again Christian) my heart breaks for the poor, deceived people  below. This video is a short news clip of a group of people chanting outside the Wisconsin state capitol in the hope that their efforts might somehow cause a universal shift to take place that would force governor Scott Walker to be recalled. But I've got news for them: "practicing the Om" isn't going to get them good vibes, a governor recall, a universal shift, or peace with a high and Holy God. They need to repent and place their faith in the Savior for the forgiveness of sins.

What you see in this video is the wisdom of man, the same "wisdom" that God makes foolish by his own unapproachable omniscience. Christians, please let your hearts be moved by the deceptions that have captured the people all around us, and be emboldened to share Christ with a lost and dying world. This world desperately needs the light of the gospel, the light which exposes the darkness of lies, and destroys arguments and casts down every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God.
We are casting down arguments and every lofty thing raised against the knowledge of God, and taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. (2 Cor 10:5)




 Additional Resources 

Liberals Hold Massive "Omming" Ceremony Outside the State Capitol In Effort to Force Recall

Yoga Alliance Shows Its Hindu Teeth

Christian Yoga: An Oxymoron?

Yoga: From Hippies to Hip

Yoga: Yokes, Snakes, and Gods

Out of Your Mind: Meditation and Visualization

"Christian" Yoga?

Julia Roberts: "I'm Definitely A Practicing Hindu"

Doctor Prescribes "Therapeutic" Yoga For A Christian Woman

Karma Just Doesn't Cut It

Monday, June 4, 2012

How To Have Peace With God

by Pastor Rob Willman



One of the most important questions in all of life is: how do I have peace with God?

First, let’s start with your nature, who you are.
A. You are sinful by nature.
Do you consider yourself to be a good person? Most people do. I have talked to many people one-on-one about their spiritual state, and almost everyone says ‘Yes, I am a good person.’
Unfortunately, the Scriptures do not say that about you. Let’s start with God’s Law as a standard of what’s truly good. If you believe you are a good person, I have a simple test for you to take. It’s called the ‘Good Person’s Test’, and it’s based on the Ten Commandments (from Exodus 20 or Deuteronomy 5):
1. “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before Me.
Have you always loved God above everything else? Without fail and without exception? Be honest.
2. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.
Have you made a god in your mind that suits your? Have you truly known the biblical God? Or have you changed him to make him more suitable to your lifestyle?
3. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.
Have you ever used the name of your Creator as a filthy cussword? God is Holy, and His Name is glorious. Have you lightly tossed his name around or used it as a swear?
4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Have you kept one day a week aside for the Lord and for His worship? Have you done this every week and given God his proper worship?
5. Honor your father and your mother.
Ever since you were a child, have you always honored your father and your mother? Always? Did you ever disrespect them or their decisions, even once?
6. You shall not murder.
Jesus said: “You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. (Mat 5:21-22)
The Bible also says: Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. (1Jn 3:15)
God judges the thoughts and intentions of the heart, not just the outward actions. Ask yourself: have you ever hated?
7. You shall not commit adultery.
Jesus said: “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Mat 5:27-28)
Again, this shows that God judges your heart. Be honest with yourself. Have you ever looked upon someone with a lustful heart?
8. You shall not steal.
Ask yourself, have you ever stolen anything, no matter how small? What do you call someone who steals? A thief.
9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. (You shall not lie).
This is a big one. Have you ever told even ONE lie? What do you call someone who lies? A liar.
10. You shall not covet.
Have you ever looked at something someone else owned with jealous desire?
If you’re a visual learner, here’s a video presentation from Way of the Master of this same concept:
The breaking of God’s law is sin. Based on the 10 Commandments, if God were to judge you based on that standard alone, how would you fare? Would you still consider yourself to be a good person? If you try to answer yes to that question, consider this Scripture:
If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.
(1John 1:8)
Also consider: And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. (Eph 2:1-3)
Now that you’ve examined your own heart, let’s consider God:
B. God is a Holy, Just God. His Law is perfect, and it is He who exercises His Righteous Judgment.
Consider the following Scriptures:
There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor? (James 4:12)
For the LORD is our judge, The LORD is our lawgiver, The LORD is our king; He will save us– (Isa 33:22)
Not only is God our lawgiver, He is also perfect. Jesus said:
“Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.  (Mat 5:48)
God as the perfect, holy Judge, will judge you one day. Consider this:
And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, 
(Heb 9:27)
Make no mistake here. You WILL be judged by God. And His standard is absolute moral perfection (Mat 5:48)
C. Because you have broken God’s holy Law, you deserve death.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 6:23)
This is a hard one to swallow. Many people (maybe even you) object to the idea that you deserve death for your sins. I’d like to cover the two main objections people have.
First, many people say that because God is good, he would not give them death for their sins. But this is bad logic. Precisely BECAUSE God is good, He give you what you deserve.
Imagine a murderer killed your family, and was caught. The man is brought to court, and on the day of his trial, you sit in the front of the courtroom anxiously awaiting justice to be served. The judge enters, and he hears the case. The murderer admits that he killed your family, and along with the forensic evidence, it’s plain to all that he did it. However when it comes time for the sentence, the judge says, ‘I am a good judge. There’s no punishment needed for this man’s crimes. Case dismissed. You’re free to go.’ Do you see that this judge would not be a good judge at all, but would be a wicked, corrupt judge?
If that’s the case with a human judge, how can we consider our Holy, Just, Perfect God to be Good if we think he will sweep our sins away and not deal with them? It’s impossible.
Proverbs says: He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous, Both of them alike are an abomination to the LORD. (Pro 17:15)
It is God’s GOODNESS that will prevail, and that means that His justice will be satisfied.
The Scriptures tell us: The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; There is no one who does good. The LORD has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men To see if there are any who understand, Who seek after God. They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; There is no one who does good, not even one. (Psa 14:1-3)
Therefore, because you have broken the laws of the very Creator who made you, you are deserving of death. His wrath (fierce anger) is upon you for your treachery against Him.
D. God Himself made a way for you to be right with Him.
If everything I’ve said so far is true, then what shall you do on judgment day? When your day before the Lord comes, what will be your plea? In honesty, your answer must be that you are guilty of breaking the law of God.
If that’s true, then how does any man obtain peace with God? After all, God’s justice demands death.
Here then, is the Good News:
For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom 5:6-8)
That’s the answer! 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ was born. He is God the Son, and He condescended to come to this world. (Read Matthew 1-3). He lived a sinless, perfect life. He fulfilled the Law of God completely. After approximately 3 years of ministry, Jesus was crucified on a cross, and He died.
Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth. By oppression and judgment He was taken away; And as for His generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the living For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due? His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth. But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand. As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities. (Isa 53:4-11)
Jesus Christ bore your sins on the Cross! He DIED for you. He took your place. He drank up the wrath of God, and God’s justice is satisfied.
It doesn’t end there! Jesus rose from the grave! After the crucifiction, Jesus was laid in a tomb, and three days later He arose! He spent a brief time here on earth afterwards, teaching his apostles and disciples, then He ascended to Heaven, where He sits at the right hand of God the Father.
With all this being said, what will YOU do? You cannot earn this salvation from God:
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Eph 2:8-9)
You cannot strive to somehow may yourself appealing to God, who then saves you. No! Instead, listen to this:
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. (Rom 5:8-10)
You don’t deserve salvation. You deserve death. Yet God offers salvation!
“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:14-18)
Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand;repent and believe in the gospel.“  (Mar 1:14-15)
But what does it say? “THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART”–that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.”
(Rom 10:8-13)
Friend, if you have read through all of this, you have read the Gospel (the word Gospel means the ‘Good News’). Indeed this news is VERY GOOD. It’s the best news you will ever hear.
God has provided the perfect sacrifice to make a way for you to be right with Him, if you will just repent (turn away from sin) and believe. Turn from your wickedness and throw yourself on Jesus Christ, the Savior. There is NO OTHER WAY.
Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6)
There is no other way to have peace with God, forgiveness of your sins, and true joy except through the death of Jesus Christ on your behalf.
There is no “Sinner’s Prayer” in Scripture. Instead people have been born again for thousands of years the same way:
Repent from your sins. Turn AWAY from wickedness. Turn TOWARDS God. Throw yourself at His feet and beg God to be merciful to you, a sinner. Cry out to God. Plead with Him. Believe the Good News that Jesus Christ saves undeserving, wretched, miserable sinners, just like me, and just like you.
One final section of Scripture:
Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. And Jesus said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. “Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:1-5)
Note from Sola Sisters: If you have any questions regarding anything you’ve just read, please feel free to contact us via email (christinepack@yahoo.com). We will be happy to answer any questions you have.