Monday, January 24, 2011

Rick Warren Introduces "The Devil Plan"

The following article was so thoroughly researched I decided to print it in its entirety word-for-word, knowing that Marsha and I capture different audiences.  So thanks to my friend Marsha West for letting me reprint this article and for all her hard work.

by Marsha West, Renew America

Pastor Rick Warren continues to work at "fulfilling people's needs." His latest endeavor is "The Daniel Plan," a 52-week health and fitness program. Pastor Rick has decided it's high time to lose 90 pounds. But there's more to his health plan than meets the eye.

"The church says all of its more than 5,000 small groups will go through "The Daniel Plan," which is part of Saddleback's "Decade of Destiny," a 10-year plan launching this month "to help individuals succeed and be who God designed them to be in every aspect in life."" (Online source)

On January 15, over 6,000 people flocked to Saddleback's main campus while thousands more watched online at the other Saddleback campuses.

It would appear that Pastor Warren has good intentions and that he genuinely wants his congregants to be the picture of health. He says that Christians should honor God with our bodies and he draws from Scripture to prove his point, 1 Cor. 6:19 and Rom. 12:1, for example. Who can possibly dispute that Warren's plan to get the sheep shipshape is anything but admirable?


Into a cauldron of green tea add in 1 eye of a knut, 4 lizard's tails, 3 dragon incisors, 4 forked tongues, 7 pages from the Message Bible, 1 page from the KJV Bible, then stir the pot while chanting "I am God...I am God...I am God." While the brew simmers get in a crossed-legged yoga position...meditate ...go deep...deeper still...until you're in a trance, then allow the kundalini energy coiled like a serpent at the base of the spine to run through your body...until an ecstatic experience erupts whereby you will shift between ecstasy and horror......voila, enlightenment!

In his new endeavor to help Saddleback congregants get healthy, Pastor Rick has enticed unsuspecting people, many of them professing Christians, into drinking his witch's brew.

Many of you are thinking, "Rick Warren wouldn't do that!" Oh really? Stay with me and you'll discover what "America's Pastor" is up to. Many of you will find what I'm about to reveal unbelievable. Don't take my word for it. At the end of this article I have included a number of links that reveal the truth about this man. Do the research.


When Rick Warren decided to implement his health plan he enlisted the help of three doctors: Daniel Amen, Mark Hyman and Mehmet Oz. "I am honored to be partnering with these internationally distinguished health experts," he boasted. Soon the fearsome foursome set out to develop a plan and what they came up with was "The Daniel Plan" (TDP). Amen, Hyman and Oz applied their medical expertise and Warren offered his expertise in spiritual matters. And herein lies the problem. As you will see, Amen, Hyman and Oz also have a great deal to offer in "spiritual" matters.

"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths." — 2 Tim. 4:3-4
Oprah Winfrey's "favorite doctor" is a Muslim and has been influenced by the mysticism of Sufi Muslims. Moreover, he is keen on the ideas of cultist mystic Emanuel Swedenborg:

"As I came into contact with Swedenborg's many writing I began to understand Swedenborg's profound insights and how they applied directly to my life."

Swedenborg believed he could pass between the life to come and the present. What is more he claimed he had conversations with spirits of the dearly departed as well as angelic beings:

"[T]he spirit world was comprised of a number of concentric spheres, each with its own density and inhabitants. There is no such thing as hell or eternal punishment. Those spirits who find themselves in a hellish place after death can evolve toward a higher spiritual plane.

"In spite of it being granted to him 'to be constantly and uninterruptedly in company with spirits and angels,' Swedenborg did issue a caution in regard to receiving counsel from just any spirit that might manifest with an alleged personal message. "When spirits begin to speak," he wrote in Miscellaneous Theological Works (1996), "care should be taken not to believe them, for nearly everything they say is made up by them....They love to feign. Whatever be the topic spoken of, they think they know it, and if man listens and believes, they insist, and in various ways deceive and seduce." (Online source)

Dr. Oz is a practitioner of Transcendental Meditation:

"When I meditate, I go to that place where truth lives. I can see what reality really is, and it is so much easier to form good relationships then."

Do a Google search on Dr. Oz and you'll find posts from people complaining that he's irresponsible because he promotes things which have no scientific evidence to support them. Until something is proven, doctors should not promote it as it could endanger lives. One example of an unscientific practice he promotes is Reiki, which New Agers believe to be a "guided Universal Life Force Energy." Dr. Oz's wife is a Reiki Master. "Reiki," he said, "is my favorite treatment that could change the future of medicine forever." He also pontificated:

"I think [Reiki] may be ultimately the most important alternative medicine treatment of all. And we are embarking on this whole new vista of opportunities, it broadens dramatically the spectrum of where we might be able to go in our bodies, and this is the area of energy medicine."(Online source)

It is rather curious that Rick Warren would team up with a man whose fame he owes in part to New Age High Priestess Oprah Winfrey. Dr. Oz's worldview more closely aligns to New Age Spirituality than to historic orthodox Christianity.


"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." — Col. 2:8
Dr. Amen is a child and adult psychiatrist and Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at the University of California at Irvine School of Medicine. In addition he is a brain imaging specialist.

Dr. Amen teaches "techniques that will improve 'brain health,' claiming that poor brain health is associated with a host of problems from overeating to depression. ... He includes meditation (and in fact this is his primary tool) as a way to have a healthy brain."

Dr. Amen recommends a meditation called Kriya Kirtan which is from the Kundalini tradition:

"I teamed with Drs. Dharma Singh Khalsa and Nisha Money to study the impact of meditation on the brain. We chose a simple 12 minute form of meditation, Kriya Kirtan, that is easy for busy people to practice. It is based on the five primal sounds: Saa, Taa, Naa, Maa (aa being the fifth sound). Meditators [sic]say each sound as they consecutively touch their thumb to fingers two, three, four and five. The sounds and fingering are repeated for two minutes out loud, two minutes whispering, four minutes silently, two minutes whispering and two minutes out loud." (Online source)

Dr. Amen is also a practitioner of Tantric or tantric sex which is the use of Hinduistic-type mysticism during sexual intercourse. Lighthouse Trails Research (LTR) reports:

"In a 6-CD set called Create a More Passionate Night, Dr. Amen has teamed up with advanced certified Tantra educator, T. J. Bartel. ... Tantra is the name of the ancient Hindu sacred texts that contain certain rituals and secrets. Some deal with taking the energies brought forth in meditation through the chakras and combining them with love-making to enhance sexual experiences."

Dr. Amen also teaches Reiki.

"Make no mistake about it" says LTR, "Reiki, meditation, tantric sex — these are very powerful mystical experiences that have the capability to delude and deceive those who are involved with it."

For Christians who have read to this point, I hope you're becoming alarmed.


"For Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light." — 2 Cor. 11:14
Dr. Mark Hyman is editor-in-chief of Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine which is said to be "the most prestigious journal in the field of integrative medicine, and the medical editor of Alternative Medicine, the Art and Science of Healthy Living."

In her article, Alternative/ Blended/ Complementary/ Integrated Healing, Marcia Montenegro examines alternative therapies:

"It is called alternative because the technique/ drug/ herb has not been or cannot be adequately tested, or has been found ineffective or dangerous. If it were a safe, tested treatment, it would not be in the alternative category. Many cited studies to support these methods are flawed, short-term, based on anecdotal evidence, conducted by believers in the techniques, & often are not published in a peer-reviewed medical journal. The terms complementary, blended, and integrated are now being used as well since alternative treatments are being combined with traditional medicine. This makes it more difficult to test the alternative methods or to know what is really working when the patient improves. It should be remembered that the placebo effect accounts for 30% or more for a person feeling better."

Dr. Hyman claims he's not into meditation but he does recommend yoga to create calm.

In my article Can A Pagan Practices Be "Christianized" I explain why Christians must avoid yoga:

"Christian apologists John Ankerberg and John Weldon maintain that, 'The basic premise of yoga theory is the fundamental unity of all existence: God, man, and all of creation are ultimately one divine reality.' To explain the basic premise, the authors quote from an editorial in the Yoga Journal: "We are all aware that yoga means 'union' and that the practice of yoga unites body, breath, and mind, lower and higher energy centers and, ultimately self and God, or higher Self. But more broadly, yoga directs our attention to the unity or oneness that underlies our fragmented experiences and equally fragmented world. Family, friends, the Druze guerrilla in Lebanon, the great whale migrating north — all share the same essential [divine] nature.""

Dr. Hyman participated in a program called Yoga, Body & Spirit at Shambhala Mountain. The program included Susan Piver, who offered instruction in the ancient wisdom tradition of Buddhist meditation, and Richard Reoch who presented Golden Ball Chi Kung.

Dr. Hyman retails expensive supplements "critical for supporting lifelong health," books and CDs in his "healthy living store" online. The UltraWellness Essentials Kit for Women costs $130 for a one month supply. For youngsters it's a tad less. Only $47 per month because "Like adults, children need a purified source of essential fatty acids to help build healthy brain cells, support focus and attention, and optimize metabolism."

This is UltraBunk!

Earth to Dr. Hyman! At your exorbitant cost for "high-quality multi vitamin and minerals" most families can't afford to get healthy! (Visit Dr. Hyman's store)

Why has this not dawned on Pastor Rick? In one of his promotional videos he held up each of the doctors' books and urged his congregants to purchase them! This makes one wonder if Dr. Hyman's books recommend the high priced vitamins, and if this is the case who derives benefit from the sale of these products?

That an evangelical pastor would allow his sheep to be influenced by New Age ideas and questionable medical practices should give us pause. Christians should avoid becoming involved in any sort of assembly where we are powerless to address issues that come up which could cause us to compromise our biblical principles. Moreover, it should give us pause when the minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ teams up with occultists!


Writer Jennifer Pekich journeyed to "The Daniel Plan" conference at Saddleback Church as an observer and blogged about her experience:

"To begin, I'd like to state that Saturday Jan. 15th, 2011 will go down in the history books as the day Saddleback Church was sold a bill of goods. The masses had come out in droves for answers to their weight loss difficulties & health problems, but unbeknownst to them, they were being given a prescription for restructuring society & population control.

"The prescription goes by the name Agenda 21, a.k.a. "Sustainable Development" or "Smart Growth." Agenda 21 is a published document put out by the United Nations with the intent to put limits on population and to restructure nation-states into a global society. Rick Warren's "new friends" had dubbed it, "The Daniel Plan — God's Prescription For Your Health." A more appropriate title would've been, "Sustainable Living — Destroying Inalienable Rights, One Community at a Time."

(For those who are unfamiliar with Sustainable Development, Tom DeWeese explains, "Nature has an integral set of different values (cultural, spiritual and material) where humans are one strand in nature's web and all living creatures are considered equal. Therefore the natural way is the right and human activities should be molded along nature's rhythms.")

Jennifer continues...

"I about fell off my chair when Dr. Hyman stated, "The key to the success of the "Daniel Plan" is "group living"..."individuals" will not succeed, our only hope lies in "community." And with that, it was announced that the "Saddleback community" would be an example of "sustainable living" and would set the course to "change this world"...and the crowd went wild! I have to admit that visions of the masses being manipulated by Adolf Hitler's oratory skills came to my mind, only this particular crowd had just been manipulated by a really bad infomercial."

Most Christians know that our only hope lies in the Lord Jesus Christ. Our only hope does not lie in sustainable living designed to keep American citizens under a microscope and under the thumb of BIG government. America will not succeed because of BIG government; it is falling apart at the seams because of BIG government! Americans who are looking to the nanny state to cure their ills only need to take a gander at the European Union to the see the destruction BIG governments have caused — and it continues to get worse every day.

But this is not about moving America into Eastern-style socialism — as it appears some so-called evangelical pastors would like to see happen — so I'll move on.

More from Jennifer...

"Dr. Hyman said that he is a Jew, Dr. Amen said he is a Christian, and Dr. Oz said he is a Muslim. And doesn't that represent the demographic of "most of the population of the world"? But then he said, "we're all the same underneath." True to his salesman fashion, Dr. Hyman didn't define his terms. What in the world does he mean "we're all the same underneath"? That can mean a number of things. Since he was speaking to a religious crowd, I'd venture to say some of the folks present took that to mean we're all children of God (Jews, Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, etc.), which is patently false according to the Bible. The Bible says there are only two groups, children of wrath and children of God. You're either one or the other, a believer in Christ Jesus, or a non-believer. We aren't "all the same underneath." (Ephesians Ch. 2).

"The tragic thing about this day at Saddleback is, Jesus was never mentioned ... and I mean NEVER There were a few passing references to God; Daniel Amen mentioned that our bodies were "a temple of the Holy Spirit and the brain is the inner sanctum" [Amen means that all humans are the temple of the Holy Spirit], but Jesus never made the cut — "sustainable lifestyles" and "group living" did."
(To read Jennifer's entire report visit Ponderings from Patmos )

There is nothing wrong with wanting to feel better, look better, be stronger and think sharper. The problem lies with the witch's brew cooked up by Rick Warren and his team of doctors. As I've demonstrated, doctors Amen, Hyman and Oz are steeped in Eastern mysticism and the occult. A large number of Christians trust Rick Warren and will purchase their books — and a lot of them will be influenced by a worldview that is incompatible with Christianity, namely New Age Spirituality. Again, more than 5,000 small groups will go through TDP. God help them!

I'll close with Galatians 1:6-8:

"I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed."

photo credit: tericee via photopin cc

 Further Research 

Rick Warren's "Apologetics" Weekend Should Apologize for Representing "Another Gospel" — Lighthouse Trails Research

Emanuel Swedenborg's Occultic Beliefs Influence Rick Warren's Health Advisor and Now the Christian Church — By John Lanagan

Kundalini: Frequently Asked Questions and Selected References — By Kurt Kuetzer

What's Sex Got To Do With It? — Lighthouse Trails Research

A Visit to Rick Warren's Health Seminar — The Unfolding of a Global New Age Plan — By Jennifer Pekich, published on Lighthouse Trails Research

Good Fight Theater...move the cursor to the right...look for Rick Warren's face and click on the image. Listen to Pastor Warren's conversation with Larry King.

Mark Hyman: Mangling cancer research and systems biology in the service of woo —

New Age Pandemic in the Church — By Marsha West

Book Review: Purpose Driven Life — By Robert Wise

Occult Pagan revival signals death of America and the West — By Linda Kimball

Rick Warren Connections...Especially to the Ecumenical Third Wave New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) and "Positive Thinking" Movement — Compiled by Sandy Simpson

Youtube: Rick Warren Occult Deception Part 1 — Warren Smith interview "Deceived on Purpose"

Never Directly

from Jerry Bridges' Daily Devotional

“We have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus.”  (Hebrews 10:19)

“Pharisee-type believers unconsciously think they've earned God's blessing through their behavior. Guilt-laden believers are sure they've forfeited God's blessing through disobedience or lack of discipline. Both have forgotten the meaning of grace—God's unmerited favor to those who deserve only his wrath.

Most of us probably entertain either of these attitudes on different days. On a good day (as we perceive it), we tend toward self-righteous pharisaism. On a not-so-good day, we allow ourselves to wallow in a sense of failure and guilt. Either way we've moved away from the Gospel of God's grace, trying to relate to God directly on the basis of our performance rather than through Christ.

God never intended that we relate to him directly. Our own performance is never good enough to be acceptable. The only way we can relate to him is through the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ. Only the blood of Jesus will cleanse us from a guilty conscience and give us confidence to enter into God's presence (Hebrews 10:19-21).

The Gospel, applied every day to our hearts, frees us to be brutally honest with ourselves and with God. The assurance of his total forgiveness through Christ's blood means we don't have to play defensive games anymore. We don't have to rationalize and excuse our sins. We can say we told a lie instead of saying we exaggerated a bit. We can admit an unforgiving spirit instead of continuing to blame others for our emotional distress. We can call sin exactly what it is, however ugly and shameful it may be, because we know Jesus bore that sin in his body on the cross. We have no reason to hide from our sins anymore.”

Monday, January 17, 2011

"Adventures in Missions?" Or Adventures in Pagan Spirituality?

Ingrid Schlueter of the VCY America Crosstalk radio program recently published an article that raises troubling questions concerning a missions group headquartered in Gainesville, GA. The missions organization in question is called Adventures in Missions (AIM)/World Race, and they appear to have some very disturbing teachings. One of these teachings is found in the Parents’ Guide that writes that the youth who choose to participate with AIM “must leave the guidance of family” and “belief systems defined by others” behind them when they choose to partner with AIM for missions work. But is this even biblical?  After all, Godly parents are described in the Bible as a blessing.

Also, participants of AIM/World Race must practice something calling the discipline of "listening prayer," a kind of "prayer" that rejects Sola Scriptura, which is the Reformation principle that God speaks to us through Scripture alone.  Instead, "listening prayer" rejects the authority of Scripture in favor of a more subjective, experiential kind of prayer in which the participant "listens"to God and journals what he or she thinks God is personally speaking to them.  This kind of prayer is a rejection, as I noted, of the Reformation principle of Sola Scriptura, and is also a rejection of God's clear teaching on how we "hear" from God:
"In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways,  but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe." Hebrews 1:1-2
What is one way that Jesus is described in the Bible?  He is called "the Word:"
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." John 1:1
Do you want to "hear" from God?  The Bible teaches that the way we "hear" from God is through the study of Jesus himself.....that is, by studying the Word.

 Panentheistic Worldview vs. Christian Worldview 

On this page, Adventures in Missions President and founder Seth Barnes directs his readers how to find "Spiritual Direction."  At the end of the article, he encourages his readers to link to a site called "Celtic Spirituality" to learn more about the art of finding spiritual direction.  In one article found at Celtic Spirituality, entitled "Shape Shifting Meditation," the participant is given the following meditation to do:
"Close your eyes, and send your consciousness down through the room, down through the floor of the building, and down, deep down, into the earth. Be aware of the mass of rock that lies beneath the soil -- shale, quartz, sandstone, granite; the black, white, and red -- shot through with bands of minerals, darkly glittering; crystals that shine like stars within the stones ... Let your consciousness become one with the mineral kingdom. You might choose to become a mountain as old as the planet itself, once part of the seabed, thrown up by unspeakable forces now stilled, enormously, timelessly rooted in the earth, its head in the stars ... or a minute grain of sand, one among trillions and trillions, endlessly shifting, sifting, with the ocean tides ... or become a stone ... the stone people are alive, it's just that their hearts beat slower than ours..."
That this kind of teaching is recommended reading by an organization that purports to be Christian is truly disturbing.  This teaching is identical to the panentheistic meditations I did while I was a New Ager.  (Panentheism is the belief that there is a "divine energy" connecting all of life together, and that we all possess a "divine inner spark.")  Even more disturbing is the idea that AIM sees no distinction between their panentheistic, God-in-everything view and the pagan God-in-everything view found in the countries, presumably, where AIM is trying to reach people with the good news of the gospel.  One has to wonder, then, what AIM's "gospel message" is.  For instance:
Do they explain that all men are born wretched and depraved? (no "divine inner spark")
Do they teach about the pre-eminent holiness of God?
Do they tell of the exclusive nature of Christ? 
Do they explain that without Christ's atoning death, there is no union with God?
For more information, Ingrid Schlueter at Crosstalk Blog has just posted an excellent article on AIM which can be read in its entirety here.

 Additional Resources 

Missions, Mysticism and Magic: A Closer Look at the Missionary Organization Adventures in Missions  (by Claris Van Kuiken)

Personal Words From God? by Bob DeWaay (part 1)

Personal Words From God? by Bob DeWaay (part 2)

Friday, January 14, 2011

"But God...."

Posted by Christine Pack

I know that the world at large views Christians as arrogant, judgmental and condemning.  And sadly, I have to say that many who claim the name of Christ are this way.  But when true, born again Christians are simply speaking what the Scriptures say, it is not us that the world finds itself at odds is God.  There is something so supernaturally authoritative about Scripture that when we begin to speak it, it has the ability to pierce even those who seem the hardest, the coldest and the most closed off to the gospel.

I know this from personal experience.  I wanted nothing to do with the God of the Bible.  I much preferred the "God" of the world, which was a "God" who was ultra-tolerant, loving, and wanted only my personal best.  A "God" who didn't really care what I believed, so long as I was sincere in my beliefs.  This Universalist, all-paths-lead-to-me "God" was an easy "God" to worship.  He was not exclusive, judgmental or wrathful.  I could cherry pick from the religions that seemed interesting to me and "try them on for size," browsing like I might shop for a coat, trying a little mantra meditation here, a little vegeterianism there. And so I was lost in this hedonistic, easy-going postmodern spirituality for more than a decade.

My excuses for not bending the knee to the God of the Bible were many, and varied:
"I'm not as bad as (insert friend/neighbor/family member here)."
"Everybody I know does this, so it must be okay."
"The Bible has no authority over me, it was written by men, not God, and has been tinkered with over the centuries.  Sure, there's some good stuff in there, but it's not inerrant."
"Hey, I do my best."
But thankfully, God rescued me from my own foolish, worldly wisdom.  He opened my eyes to the horrific nature of my own sin, and I saw in one instant the wretchedness of my own depravity in a way I'd never seen it before.  I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I needed a Savior.  Like Christian in Pilgrim's Progress, I knew that my own "sin burden" would sink me lower than the grave, and into the fires of hell, rightfully so, for all my wretched sins committed against a holy God.

The excuses that had once tumbled so glibly out of my mouth were revealed in an instant for the foolishness that they were. My mouth was silenced.
"Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God." (Romans 3:19)
Today, my heart is especially broken over friends who are still lost and, like I was once, in open rebellion to the God of the Bible. I have reconnected recently with a friend from long ago, and have wondered how to approach her with the gospel.  This friend is very, very dear to me, and stood by me during a very dark time in my life more than 20 years ago.  But recently, on a Facebook comment thread, this friend took exception to an article that I posted about a new, radical movement inside of evangelical Christianity that encourges Christians to embrace homosexuality as a viable lifestyle for some Christians.  Until recently, I have not posted much on homosexuality due to it being such a charged topic, but after reading a recent article by Christian writer Skip Coryell, I've changed my stance on writing about this issue.  Coryell basically makes the case that Christians in general have been intimidated into remaining silent on this "hot potato" issue, rather than speaking biblical truth into a lost and dark world that so desperately needs it.  So that's the background for this recent conflict between me and an old friend: we are on opposite sides not only on this issue of homosexuality, but on the issue of whether or not the Bible has spoken authoritatively on this, and all other, issues.

My friend, by all indications, seems to still have the same easygoing Universalist belief as so many in the world today, and the same one I held to for so long.  And what's not to like about a view which demands nothing of a person, and seems to grant permission to believe whatever one likes, and live however one wants?  Universalism seems like the religion of love, with its olly olly oxen free clarion call of "come one, come all."  I can attest that one of the reasons that I myself embraced Universalism as a young adult was that during this period of my life, I was working in an industry that attracted many homosexuals, some of whom I became friends with.  The biblical idea that these friends of mine would be damned for their sin was absolutely ludicrous to me.  Who could believe in such a God?  Moreover, who could love such a God?

What I came to realize after God saved me was that their sin of unrepentant homosexuality was no greater than my own sins of unrepentant covetousness, unrepentant pride, unrepentant stubborness. Like Jesus, we are to love the sinner but hate the sin.  Many people point to the story of Jesus and the adulterous woman as an example of Jesus-accepts-you-just-as-you-are tolerance.  Only, they conveniently leave out the last part where Jesus told the woman: "Go, and sin no more." (John 8:1-11)

We must - in love and with great compassion - exhort our homosexual friends to repent and bend the knee before their sovereign creator God, just as we would any other lost person.  And then we must understand  that all of us have besetting sins that we struggle with, all of us must seek to subdue and crucify our flesh, not in a works-righteous way, but in a God honoring and God glorifying way, so that our wills, our hearts, our minds, our bodies all come under the authority of Christ (Rom 13:14, Gal 3:27, Eph 4:24).  No, it's not easy, and yes, there are setbacks and ongoing struggles.  But when God saves us, He mercifully gives us the Holy Spirit, our ally behind enemy lines, as it were, who helps us grow and gives us strength and aids us as we become more and more conformed to the image of Christ (Rom 8:29).

I wish I could somehow reach into the hearts of all my lost friends - including the one I've recently gotten in touch with - and somehow explain to them that following Christ is not about getting a checklist of the "right" things to do and following it.  It is not someone grudgingly doing good things, the way a kid might hold his nose and drink down bad medicine.  It is being free from the curse and condemnation of sin, and then joyfully serving the Lord who bought us out of the slave market of sin.
"The wages of sin is death." Romans 6:23a
"Jesus answered them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin........But if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.' " John 8:34-36
We've broken God's moral laws, and we stand condemned.  We cannot forgive ourselves. We can't do enough good works to "get out of the hole" our sins have put us in.  There is no giant "scale" somewhere in the sky waiting to weigh out our good deeds against our bad deeds.  We are condemned, lost, doomed......unless God himself intervenes into this dire situation.  But miraculously, He did.  My pastor often comments that the 2 most precious words in the Bible are "But God..."

BUT GOD....sought us while we were yet sinners. (Romans 5:8)

BUT loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

BUT GOD....made a way for wretched, depraved men and women to be reconciled to a holy God, and has freed those who will repent and place their faith in Christ's atoning death from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1-2)

What amazing good news this is!  It is, in fact, the best news that the world has ever heard.  Will you commit to praying for those in your life who are lost, and need this good news?  Who don't recognize the bondage they're in?  After all, you might be the only Christian in someone's life who is willing to stand in the gap between them and the hell they are moving inexorably toward.  Perhaps you have given books, tracts, CDs, articles, etc. to the lost person in your life and you've been soundly rebuffed.  But what about prayer?  Have you earnestly appealed in prayer to God's mercy and lovingkindness on behalf of this person, knowing that any prayers they might make will go unheard?  I sometimes jokingly refer to prayer as the "throw up your hands" option.  You see, sometimes Christians will get frustrated after attempting to persuade the lost into salvation by appealing to their common sense and logic.  "Well," they might then say, exasperated, "I suppose there's always prayer!" As if prayer were somehow inferior to all the other attempts to persuade. But we must remember that salvation is a supernatural work of God, and there is a holy, supernatural mystery attached to the prayers of the righteous.  After all, Christians are the only ones who are allowed to approach the throne of grace where we know that we will be heard:
"Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:16)
Surely someone interceded on your behalf before the Lord of Glory when you were a sin-loving, God-hating rebellious sinner.  Won't you put aside some time today to stand in the gap for those you know who are lost?
"The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." (James 5:16)
photo credit: khrawlings via photopin cc

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Canon of Revelation is Closed

“I have heard many fanatical persons say the Holy Spirit revealed this and that to them.  Now that is very generally revealed nonsense.  The Holy Ghost does not reveal anything fresh now.  He brings old things to our remembrance.  ‘He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance whatsoever I have told you,’ [John 14:26].  The canon of revelation is closed; there is no more to be added.  God does not give a fresh revelation, but he rivets the old one.  When it has been forgotten, and laid in the dusty chamber of our memory, he fetches it out and cleans the picture, but does not paint a new one.  There are no new doctrines, but the old ones are often revived.  It is not, I say, by any new revelation that the Spirit comforts.  He does so by telling us old things over again; he brings a fresh lamp to manifest the treasures hidden in Scripture; he unlocks the strong chests in which the truth had long lain, and he points to secret chambers filled with untold riches; but he coins no more, for enough is done.

Believer!  There is enough in the Bible for thee to live upon for ever.  If thou shouldest outnumber the years of Methusaleh, there would be no need for a fresh revelation; if thou shouldest live till Christ should come upon the earth, there would be no necessity for the addition of a single word; if thou shouldest go down as deep as Jonah, or even descend as David said he did, into the belly of hell, still there would be enough in the Bible to comfort thee without a supplementary sentence.”

Charles Haddon Spurgeon
The New Park Street Pulpit
Vol. I (1855), p. 38

See also:

Mystics or Christians....But Not Both

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Who Said It?

Reprinted from The Crosstalk Blog

Read the following carefully.  After you have finished, try to guess where the author of these statements recently spoke:
"Now I see that God prefers to work through intermediaries–Mary and the saints . . . He wants us to pray through Mary and not only directly." (p. 154, Ecumenical Jihad)
"[Mary] may bring the churches together again and heal the tears in her Son's visible body on earth, she, the very one who seems to divide Catholics from Protestants. The most distinctive Catholic doctrines, especially those concerning the Eucharist and Mary, may prove to be the most unifying and attracting ones." (p. 158, Ecumenical Jihad)
"Consecrate your life to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. She is the one who will win this war. She is the one (as the Bible says) who triumphs over Satan." (p. 169 – parenthesis in original, Ecumenical Jihad)

The author of these words recently spoke at:

A) World Youth Day for the Roman Catholic Church

B) Swimming the Tiber, a conference for Catholic converts sponsored by EWTN

C) Evangelical Pastor Rick Warren's Christian Apologetics Conference at Saddleback

The answer is C. Lighthouse Trails has the full story about the "Christian Apologetics" December conference--a report that demonstrates the growing disregard for the basic doctrinal teachings of Scripture. These are the doctrines that are essential to a proper understanding of the Gospel. They were the cause for the Reformation.

As a handful of Christians have been warning for some time, contemplative spirituality is drawing evangelicals to Rome. As could be expected, Rick Warren is leading the charge to overthrow the Reformation and to develop a global ecumenical spirituality that leads invariably back to Rome.

The author of the above statements is Peter Kreeft, a former Protestant who converted to Catholicism, and is now a Catholic apologist.  Kreeft is the author of the book Ecumenical Jihad, from which these quotes were taken.

The question is: Why would "America's Pastor" (Rick Warren) welcome an apologist for an apostate religious system into his church, and especially at a conference that is meant to give a defense of the Christian faith?

See also:

Rick Warren Promotes "Christianized" Mantra Meditation

Rick Warren: Driven By Destiny?

An Open Letter to Dr. John Piper

Why is Rick Warren Quoting Univeralist Henri Nouwen?

Testimony of a Former Roman Catholic Priest

Roman Catholic Mysticism and the Emergent Church Movement

How Not to Speak of Christ and His Work

Henri Nouwen and Buddhism

Rick Warren Wants Us To Learn From Henri Nouwen

The Wider Mercy Doctrine

The Need for Elders Who Guard Their Flock

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Anne Rice: No Bloody Atonement Necessary?

Posted by Christine Pack

Author Anne Rice recently blogged on her thoughts about Christmas and its meaning.  But Rice, who was embraced by many in the Christian community some years ago when she wrote about becoming a Christian, has further clairified in the article linked above that her version of "Christianity" is far from orthodox.

In her article, Rice speaks in great detail of the humanity of Christ.  In truth, this is a lovely thing to dwell on, this knowing that we have a Savior who identifies with us because he has lived a mortal life and therefore knows our weaknesses.  But Rice stops there (at Christ's humanity) and even explains that the very heart of the gospel itself and the very reason for Christ's incarnation - the atonement - is not necessary:
"(T)he genius of the Christmas Crib is that you do not need theology to approach it. You do not need any bloody atonement theory to touch the Christ Child’s outstretched hand. The story is complete there without the horror of the cross." (online source)
I would remind anyone reading what Anne Rice wrote that the atonement was not simply a theory.  It was an actual event that happened in history, and it is only through the atonement that we are able to touch Christ's "outstretched hand."  In fact, without the atonement, no one may approach God, and all who reject the atonement will remain under God's wrath.

To me, it is far more amazing to have a Savior who was human - yes - but who was fully God, too.  And because of his Deity, Christ was able to make the ultimate sacrifice: offering up his own perfect, sinless life and suffering God's wrath on behalf of those who would repent and place their faith in this atoning work done on their behalf.  God - in his magnificent, unsurpassable wisdom - made a way to reconcile wretched, sinful men and women to himself without compromising his perfect, holy justice.  He sent his Son, Jesus Christ, who was both fully God and fully man, and who lived a perfect life, never sinning in thought, word or deed, and who, because of this, was able to offer up his life as a ransom for many. I broke God's laws, and Jesus paid my fine in his life's blood so that I could be released from the rightful condemnation of the law.  But this gift of salvation, though given freely, is narrow and exclusive.  Only those who recognize their sinful wretchedness and need for a Savior, and repent and place their faith in Christ's atoning work done on their behalf, will see the kingdom of Heaven.

A baby in a manger is not the whole story.  And in truth, we cannot - must not - stop at the manger.  The manger is just the beginning of the story of Jesus, and ultimately, this story leads to the Cross.

Anne Rice is celebrating the "what" of Jesus's incarnation (that He actually came, that He entered into time and space), but she is leaving out the most important part of Christ's incarnation, which is the "why" of his incarnation: the Cross.  Quite literally, Jesus was born so that one day He would die.  His life's mission was that He would be born, live a perfect life, and then die and rise again, conquering sin and death and reconciling God's people to himself.

This is the magnificent message of the manger.

photo credit: lanskymob via photopin cc
photo credit: abcdz2000 via photopin cc

 Additional Resources 

Anne Rice Rejects Christianity?

An Open Letter To Anne Rice

What Is Real Christianity?