Here's what should happen when seminary students show up for their first day of class: they are handed two live sheep. The professor then tells them this: Your assignment is to look after these sheep for the next semester. You are to feed them, care for them, tend them, comb their fur, and protect them from wolves. If at the end of the semester you return both of these sheep to me, alive and in good condition (i.e, they are not frightened, malnourished, missing any limbs or half drowned because you left them alone and they fell into the river), then next semester you will have earned the right to graduate to the next step: learning how to minister to actual people.
1 Timothy 3:1-13 - Qualifications for Overseers and Deacons
Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.
In the same way, deacons are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.
In the same way, the women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.
A deacon must be faithful to his wife and must manage his children and his household well. Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.
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Titus 1:5-10 - Qualifications for Elders
This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party.
The Apostle Paul, a Jew who had converted to Christianity, wrote a great deal of the Christian New Testament. Paul loved his fellow Jews so much, and desired so much for them to come to saving faith in the Messiah, that he wished he could have given his own life in order for the Jews to be saved:
"I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen." (Romans 9:1-5)
"Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for (the Jews) is for their salvation. For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes." (Romans 10:1-4)
But just as God said He would, after the Jewish people rejected (and crucified) the Messiah God sent them, He went outside of his chosen people with the gospel proclamation. From Romans 10:
"But I say, surely Israel did not know, did they? First Moses says, 'I will make you jealous by that which is not a nation, by a nation without understanding will I anger you.' And Isaiah is very bold and says, 'I was found by those who did not seek Me, I became manifest to those who did not ask for Me.' But as for Israel He says, 'All the day long I have stretched out My hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.'" (Romans 10:19-21)
God went outside of the Jewish nation, not because He no longer loved them, but because:
(1) He was being merciful to all the other lost, pagan people groups of the world in offering them the way of salvation, and
(2) He desired to provoke the Jews to be jealous again for God's love, when they saw how great his mercy was.
Does this mean God is forever finished with the Jews? No! Many Christians today believe that God, in the very final days and after having thrown wide open the way of salvation for two thousand years to all the pagan (Gentile) people groups of the world, will bring back into the faith his beloved Jews, based on this passage from Romans 11:
"For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written:
'The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob. This is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.'
From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. For just as you once were disobedient to God, but now have been shown mercy because of their disobedience, so these also now have been disobedient, that because of the mercy shown to you they also may now be shown mercy. For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all." (Romans 11:25-32)
Do you know any Jews? Keep telling them this, and keep praying for them. God is not done with them yet.
The Forbidden Chapter in the Tanakh
Even today, there is evidence that God is once again moving among the Jewish people. The video at the link below is entitled "The Forbidden Chapter In The Tanakh" and refers to the 53rd chapter of the book of Isaiah. The 53rd chapter in Isaiah is referred to as "forbidden" not because this passage has been deleted from the Jewish Old Testament (Tanakh), but because it is removed (forbidden, hidden away) from the regular readings in the synagogues today. But why? More on the "why" later; for now, please just take a few minutes to watch this video, which is linked in the caption of the picture below. It is very encouraging.
Isaiah 53 clearly prophesied a Messiah to come, a Messiah who would suffer and die (make atonement) for the sins of His people. From Isaiah 53:
"He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows." (verse 4)
"He was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities." (verse 5)
"Upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed." (verse 5)
"But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on him." (verse 6)
"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, stricken for the transgression of my people?" (verse 8)
"When his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days." (verse 10) "By his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities." (verse 11)
"He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors." (verse 12)
Today's Jews reject this understanding of the Messiah, and which Isaiah 53 proclaims in plain language. But you have just read it for yourself. Does it not say that a servant (Isaiah 52:13) will come forth, and will make atonement for sinners?
One view held by Jews today is that this passage is an allegorization of the Jewish nation, that the Jewish nation is the "suffering servant."
Another view is that the person referenced in this passage referred only to the human, infant son of the king ruling at that time. But how can a mere human make a substitutionary atonement for sinners, as this passage from Isaiah states? We know by plain common sense that an ordinary human being can't offer up his life as atonement for other people's sins, right?
However, because Isaiah 53 is so controversial within Jewish circles, this passage is deleted from the regular readings in the synagogues. And those few Jewish leaders and writers who do try to address this passage are forced to twist and allegorize it in a way that doesn't even make sense. But just watch the Jews in the video above who are reading this passage for the very first time, without having their minds tainted with a skewed version of what this passage means. It means what it means! They can see that instantly.
Messiah Is Prophesied In Other Old Testament Passages
Prophesies about the Messiah were not just in Isaiah 53. Consider also Daniel 9, where it was prophesied that the person of the Messiah had to come before the second destruction of the temple (and that occurred in 70 A.D.).
This is the gospel message that the Old Testament tells: God had so much love for the humans He made in His own image that He used the Jews, the pagan people He chose out of all the pagan cultures of the world, to be His people, and through whom the Messiah, a Saviour, would someday come. He meant for the Jews to be a light to the nations. But He also knew beforehand that even though He (God) had given many, many prophecies that could only point to Jesus as the culmination of all of redemptive history, that the Jews would reject this Messiah. Their Messiah. Was this a horrible accident? No, it was so that God, in an almost infinite display of mercy, could then open up the gospel message to the rest of the world. But He's not done with Israel. One day He will enfold them back into His family, and they will again be sons and daughters of God.
Look at that beautiful video linked above. Jews who haven't been conditioned to twist themselves like pretzels and jump through hoops in order to allegorize Isaiah 53 into the nation of Israel know instantly, upon a plain reading of the passage, that it is describing and pointing to a person, not a nation. And that this Person had to, somehow, have the constitution to be able to withstand upon the Cross, in some mysterious way, the eternal hell of each and every person saved. This required a Person possessing a supernatural nature, because no-one who was only human could have borne that kind of suffering. And yet this Person also had to be human, in order to be mankind's representative. Jesus was both fully God and fully Divine. Adam represented us corporately in the Garden.....and he failed. Christ came and represented us corporately on the Cross.....and He did NOT fail.
God gave us the Law so that we would know what His standard for holiness was and is. It is perfection. It is not trying real hard to be good enough. It's not hoping that we have enough good deeds to offset our sins. It is not even just praying and asking for forgiveness. God set up a very specific way of approaching him in the Old Testament, and that was a sacrificial system whereby an animal was killed in place of the human who deserved death for his sin. God is holy-holy-HOLY, and sin is serious. God set up this system and gave us the Law so that no serious seeker could look at these things and say, God doesn't really think sin is a big deal. God doesn't really care how I approach Him. And besides, I am a good person. I have kept God's Laws perfectly. I don't need a Saviour. I can save myself.
We're sinners. We've all broken these Laws. We've all lied. We've all stolen. We've all taken the Lord's name in vain. We've all coveted. We've all had impure thoughts.
And yet, Jesus accomplished on the Cross what God set out in eternity past to do, and that was to atone for sins, so that those stained with sin could be cleansed, washed clean, made holy and righteous in God's eyes.
"'Come now, and let us reason together,' says the Lord. 'Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.'" (Isaiah 1:18)
It takes humility to look at one's own heart and admit that no good thing dwells there. That you need a Saviour. But run to Him today! Believe on Christ, as the sinless, perfect One who lived a pure life of righteousness on your behalf, in order to give himself up as your ransom. Will today be the day of salvation for you? The Bible closes with a beautiful plea, and a promise; a plea, to come, freely, and take what the Lord offers. You don't have to pay a price, and if you did, you couldn't afford it. Jesus paid the price on your behalf.
"Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb.....The Spirit and the bride say, 'Come.' And let the one who hears say, 'Come.' And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost." (Rev 22:1, 17)
"And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.” (Rev 22:7)
Did Author Sarah Young Write Jesus Calling Using Occultic Practice of Automatic Writing?
The bestselling book Jesus Calling was almost surely written through the occultic practice of "Automatic Writing." A shocking claim? All right, then, I will grant that some of the book could have come from the author's own imagination. However, I also believe it is entirely possible that the book is truly from the spiritual realm; only, it is not the Jesus of the Bible with whom the author got in touch, but rather a demon. And I'm saying this not as just a Christian researcher, but as a former New Ager who practiced Automatic Writing. I should also point out that Christians don't get to flip some switch somewhere and turn occultic practices into biblical practices just by adding biblical terminology to what they are doing.
Automatic Writing is an occultic practice that is a form of divination, a practice that is expressly forbidden by God (see Deut 18). Author Sarah Young recounts how she decided to write the book Jesus Calling:
"My journey began with a devotional book (God Calling) written in the 1930s by two women who practiced waiting in God’s Presence, writing the messages they received as they 'listened.' About a year after I started reading this book, I began to wonder if I too could receive messages during my times of communing with God. . . . So I decided to 'listen' to God with pen in hand, writing down whatever I sensed He was saying." (from a Question and Answer session with Sarah Young, CBN)
Now compare Young's description about how she decided to write Jesus Calling to the practice of Automatic Writing as written about in Wikipedia*
"Automatic writing or psychography is an alleged psychic ability allowing a person to produce written words without consciously writing. The words are claimed to arise from a subconscious, spiritual or supernatural source." (source)
* NOTE: Don't be hating on me for using Wikipedia. I didn't want to link to a New Age source, and sometimes Wiki actually does get things right, as they do in this instance.
Nowhere in Scripture are Christians told to do as Sarah Young did when writing her book, and that is to sit with pen in hand waiting for a form of channeled dictation from "Jesus." We are to read the Bible, seek to understand it in its proper context, believe it, accept it by faith as truth, and and pray for the enabling power of the Holy Spirit to walk in obedience where we are commanded to take action. But no zoned-out trance states seeking a "fresh" word from God, no. A thousand times no.
For more on the practice of Automatic Writing in Jesus Calling, please read this article by Marcia Montenegro. Like me, Marcia is a former New Ager (she was a professional astrologer). Marcia, who has a Masters degree in Religion from Southern Evangelical Seminary, is now a born again believer in full time apologetics ministry.
“When you enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For whoever does these things is detestable to the Lord; and because of these detestable things the Lord your God will drive them out before you. You shall be blameless before the Lord your God. For those nations, which you shall dispossess, listen to those who practice witchcraft and to diviners, but as for you, the Lord your God has not allowed you to do so.” (Deut 18:9-14)
"The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out. Whenever he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. They will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him; for they don’t know the voice of strangers...... My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." (John 10:3-5, 27, my emphasis)
The "voice" of the "Jesus" in Jesus Calling does not match the "voice" of the Jesus of the Bible. It just doesn't. And Christians who are very familiar with Scripture know this. If you're not sure about this, just pick up the Bible and read through any one of the gospel accounts. If you do so, you will realize that the "Jesus" of Jesus Calling is not the Jesus of the Bible.......he is "another Jesus," one that the Apostle Paul warned us about receiving and accepting in the second book of Corinthians:
"For if someone comes along and preaches another Jesus than the one we preached, or should you receive a different spirit from the one you received or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you are all too willing to listen." (2 Corinthians 11:4)
In fact, not only is the "voice" of the "Jesus" in Jesus Calling not the "voice" of the Bible's Jesus, but it speaks in a way that is remarkably similar to the demonic spirits I was in touch with while in the New Age. Satan is the father of lies, and has been from the beginning, which means that he, and his demonic legion, have no moral constraints about lying and deceiving those playing around in the supernatural realm, as I was. What this means is that when I was communicating with demons as a New Ager, they didn't identify themselves as demons. Spooky music didn't start playing, and green smoke didn't ooze under the door when they showed up, like we see in the movies. They had beautiful names, and they professed to me to care for me, and to desire to help me grow spiritually. They had a very smooth, soothing way of communicating. (The more Bibley term for that would be 'ear tickling.')
When these demons communicated to me, they would often say 'Trust me' or 'Trust us,' a phrase ('Trust me') that is also often used by the false 'Jesus' in Jesus Calling. If you read through the book, you will see that phrase used repeatedly, yet that is not something that Jesus uttered on a regular basis during his earthly ministry or elsewhere in the Bible, even though we are to trust in the Lord. I think the repetition of this phrase is used by demons to lull humans into, well, trusting them, since their obvious aim is to deceive us and confuse us as they are in the process of communicating to us things that are contrary to what the Bible teaches us about Jesus and God. Their ultimate goal, obviously, is to turn us away from the Jesus of the Bible. And to do this, they often masquerade, as we are told they would, as 'angels of light' (2 Cor 11:14)." What's Missing From Jesus Calling?
Jesus's mission was not social justice, nor was it primarily to model to us how to live a good life (i.e., the social justice "Jesus," the emergent "Jesus," the liberal "Jesus," the Jen Hatmaker "Jesus").
Jesus's mission was not to give us our best life now, or to give us practical life skills in order to enhance and enrich our lives (i.e., the Word of Faith "Jesus," the seeker sensitive "Jesus").
Jesus's mission was not to give us ooey-gooey feelings about Him or about ourselves (the Ann Voskamp "Jesus," the Beth Moore "Jesus," the pop-psychology "Jesus").
Jesus's mission was not to lend his name to the vague New Age term "Christ consciousness," which in the New Age, is the term used to describe a person who is evolving spiritually on their own, through various New Age practices. (i.e., "Robert developed his 'Christ consciousness' through meditation, vegetarianism and learning to avoid bad relationships.")
The Jesus of the Bible is the eternally existent God-man who chose to leave his glory above and be born of a virgin into this sin-sick world in order to undertake a very particular mission, a mission for which "He set his face like flint" (Luke 9:51) in order to accomplish it. His mission was to fulfill all righteousness on the behalf of sinners, and then to offer up his perfect life, by dying on a Roman cross, as a sacrifice for sin. This was his mission, and it is anchored in history both by the historical accounts in the Bible and by extra-biblical accounts form historians living at the time of Jesus. Jesus was a real person, and he incarnated for a very specific purpose, and that was to save sinners.
Proclaiming God's holy, righteous wrath against sin and sinners, and calling sinners to repentance and saving faith in his finished work on the cross was the primary focus of Jesus's earthly ministry.
All of these things are important to bear in mind when evaluating any ministry, any website, any book or any teacher. How is Jesus talked about? What about the cross? What about the gospel message, of how it is that sinful man is reconciled to a high and holy God? Is this front and center in the ministry? Or is it barely mentioned, a sidenote, a cameo?
All that to say this: God's righteous wrath against sinners and the cross do have a cameo appearance here and there in the book Jesus Calling, but only in the way that, say, a movie studio might heavily advertise a well-known actor who has a cameo in a movie. Did you blink? You might have missed his screen time. Well, that's how much screen time sin, God's righteous wrath against sinners, the cross and the atonement get in Jesus Calling. Don't blink, or you'll miss it.
"And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light." (2 Cor 11:14)
We've written before about the fact that deception is, well, deceptive. Isn't that the whole point of deception? Deception doesn't announce itself, and give warning that something is afoot. Spooky music won't be playing in the background. Deception can take place anytime and anywhere. It can happen:
......while you are sitting in the cozy nook of your favorite Bible study area in your own home;
.....through a book recommended by your best friend or Bible study teacher;
...... in Christian bookstores, because the same bookstores that carry Bibles and wonderfully edifying Bible commentaries and study guides also carry books by false teachers who preach "another Jesus" (2 Cor 11:4) and "another gospel" (Gal 1:8, 2 Cor 11:4).
Deception is tricky......cagey......clever.....beguiling: deceptive. We must remember that we are in a spiritual battle, and that Satan is a roaring lion, prowling the earth seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). We must therefore study the Bible diligently in order to present ourselves approved unto God as those who are able to accurately handle the word of truth (2 Tim 2:15). This means that we must be prepared to hold up all things taught in the name of God to the actual word of God. And these biblical exhortations to test all things include even runaway bestsellers like Jesus Calling. Christian women, be on guard.
A recent Christian conference entitled "The Bible and Homosexuality" addressed the LGBT agenda, including how Christians should respond to the issue of homosexuality in today's culture. This conference was held at Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, OH, July of 2015. I can't recommend this series enough. The sessions include:
■ Bruce Jenner Believes A Lie - James White discusses Bruce Jenner's decision to have surgery on himself in an attempt to turn himself into a woman. Bruce Jenner, a former Olympic athlete, is now famous for something else: being the "face" of today's wildly popular transgender movement. "Transgender," you see, is the sanitized, media-friendly term for the surgical procedures that a person willingly chooses to go through in an attempt to change gender. Dr. White rightly points out that this process is really self mutilation. In short, Bruce Jenner is believing a lie. This program is sad to listen to, but my prayer is that those struggling with sexual orientation will first of all read what the Bible has to say about sin, and read about God's holy nature, and then will repent and believe on Christ's atoning sacrifice. When this happens, a person is given a new heart ❤→❤ and new desires, to the great praise and glory of a merciful God who saves, and transforms, lost sinners. (Dr James White, Alpha and Omega Ministries)
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, all things have become new." (2 Cor 5:17)
■ James White On Same-Sex Marriage and the LGBT Agenda - This link is to another interview with Dr James White. This interview, which kicked off the (rebooted) Iron Sharpens Iron show, is a sobering look at same-sex marriage, the current climate and the relentless push by the LGBT to normalize all gender issues. Show host Chris Arnzen and Dr White also get into other general discussion about the LGBT agenda and how Christians should respond to it, and how we should also start thinking about the future. (Chris Arnzen with Dr James White, Iron Sharpens Iron)
■ Gay Christianity Refuted- Here is a link to a 2-part show by Dr. James White which addresses the claims made by an attractive and articulate homosexual young man named Matthew Vines. For those who don't know who he is, Vines claims to be both unrepentantly homosexual and Christian. (Dr James White, Alpha and Omega Ministries)
■ How to Survive A Cultural Crisis - This is a great article for retraining our thinking to be more biblical, and contains the following points: (1) Understand that persecution is normal for Christians, and (2) Eschew utopianism and too much of a trust in Christian activism. And if there's anyone who is aware of the dangers of trusting too heavily in Christian activism, it is Mark Dever, located as he is, in our nation's capitol. (Mark Dever, Capitol Hill Baptist Church)
“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” – Joseph Goebbels........Since the early 1970s, homosexual people have increasingly claimed that they were “born gay” and that, therefore, they could not change even if they wanted to. In the gay community itself more than 90% of gays now believe genes are a significant factor in their orientation—a ten-fold increase in fifty years (1). By repeating this claim over and over again for decades now, they have managed to win over a large percentage of heterosexual “believers” to their cause, without any substantial basis in fact to validate the claim that they were “born that way.”
The very popular IF: Gathering franchise is a Christian women's conference that teaches to solid out crowds across the nation. The speakers are often very gifted in speaking, and very artfully share about their "messy" lives and their Christian walks ("transparent" and "messy" and "broken" are terms that are used over and over). The Feb 2015 conference was held in Austin, TX, and featured Jen Hatmaker, Ann Voskamp, Christine Caine, Lauren Chandler, and others. The IF: Gatherings feature several women that we have actively warned about in the past:
▪ Christine Caine
▪ Ann Voskamp
But there's a new kid in town. Her name is Jen Hatmaker, and she is taking the evangelical world by storm, at least among Christian women. consider the following:
Who is Jen Hatmaker? I've just started looking at her myself, but already, I'm seeing typical emergent double-speak for "I reject the authority of God's word and bend with the culture." But don't take my word for it. Read Hatmaker's recent article on the homosexuality/same-sex marriage issue for yourself - "World Vision, Gay Marriage, and a Different Way Through"
Here we are again, stumbling through another ancillary brawl regarding gay marriage. If you missed it yesterday, Rich Stearns, CEO of World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization "dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice," announced a policy change to allow employees in same-sex marriages to be eligible for employment.
(T)he Christian community is not going to reach consensus on gay marriage. Every article, regardless of its position for or against, is the same. The support arguments; same. The rebuttals; same. The circular thinking; same. The responses are fully predictable, the language identical, the interpretations immovable, and after all the energy expended, we discover we are at the same impasse.
This is a fact: Thousands of churches and millions of Christ-followers faithfully read the Scriptures and with thoughtful and academic work come to different conclusions on homosexuality (and countless others). Godly, respectable leaders have exegeted the Bible and there is absolutely not unanimity on its interpretation. There never has been. Historically, Christian theology has always been contextually bound and often inconsistent with itself; an inconvenient truth we prefer to selectively explain.
But regardless of theological bullying, there has never been "one way" to interpret scripture. There has never been "one way" to be a biblical church. Even the early church leaders had severe and lasting disagreements about the nature of God, the Holy Spirit, Jesus, Salvation, Faith, Works, etc.
Consensus is impossible here. So we go to the next level: how do we deal with explosive issues like gay marriage without destroying people, specifically involving this World Vision announcement?
Our Response to the Above Comments Made by Hatmaker
Hatmaker is trying to have it both ways.
- She claims (wrongly) that the Bible hasn't spoken clearly and authoritatively on the issue of homosexuality (Mar 2014 blog post); but then
- She says she personally affirms the traditional (biblical) view of marriage (Apr 2014 blog post).
"(T)he Christian community is not going to reach consensus on gay marriage." (Mar 2014 blogpost)
I beg to differ. There are not different positions on homosexuality, as far as Christians are considered: there is one position. The Christian community, the true, Bible-believing Christian community, HAS reached consensus on gay marriage, and that is that it is an abomination in God's eyes.
God is the One who created marriage, so He is the One who gets to define what marriage is. It is not cultures and the shifting whims of new generations who come along who get to determine what marriage is. It's already been defined for us by God.
Other Issues of Concern
Consider also Jenn Hatmaker's unabashed admiration for the Roman Catholic Pope.
Here are our Facebook posts discussing Jenn Hatmaker:
"They exchanged God’s truth for a lie and worshipped and served the creation rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen." (Romans 1:25)
Conservation International recently released a video series (entitled Nature Is Speaking) designed to promote environmental awareness, but which also contains a strong "anti-human" bias. The series features the voices of Julia Roberts, Harrison Ford, Penelope Cruz, Edward Norton, and others. Listen as Julia Roberts narrates Part 1, as a "Mother Nature" who is self aware, has cognitive function, transcends mankind and can communicate. In other words, a form of Deity.
"Mother Nature" (as voiced by Julia Roberts):
"I've been here for eons. I have fed species greater than you. And I have starved species greater than you. MY oceans. MY soil. MY flowing streams. MY forests. They all can take you or leave you."
I'm a former hard-core, Militant Eco-Greenie, so I know this worldview that these actors are giving voice to from the inside. But these are scary videos!
And here is Harrison Ford, in Part 2, as "The Ocean":
"Humans? They're no different (from any other creature on the earth). I don't owe them a thing. I give. They take. But I can always take back. That's the way it's always been. It's not their planet anyway. Never was, never will be. But humans, they take more than their share.........I'm only going to say this once, if nature isn't kept healthy, humans won't survive."
This worldview, in which God-like characteristics are ascribed to nature, is in distinct contrast to the biblical worldview that our world, and nature, exist and are sustained by our sovereign creator God, and that He alone is the one who ensures that our planet continues. Yes, Christians should not pollute, and should be good stewards of the earth on which they live, but ultimately, it is God who ordains how long this earth will be in existence.
And again, note that the created thing in question here ("The Ocean") is Deified as a transcendent being who is self aware, has cognitive function, and can communicate.
There is a disdain for man that can clearly be heard in these videos. This is in distinct contrast to the biblical view of man, which is that he was made in the image of God, and is endowed with characteristics which animals do not possess, such as imagination, creativity, and spiritual longing. This last characteristic, when not properly fulfilled by knowing and worshiping the Creator, the God of the Bible, will be manifest in one way or another. Humans will worship, and in the end they will either properly worship God, or they will worship lesser things (idols), worship from which they will ultimately never derive happiness and fulfillment. When man rejects God, and chooses instead to worship lesser things, these lesser things can take many forms: nature (as shown in these videos), but also themselves, power, money, pleasure, food, nature, sex, etc., etc. The creative, God-given mind, when not properly submitted to God, will find endless things to pursue and worship.
"Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.'" (Genesis 1:26)
"When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?" (Psalm 8:3-4)
Our children need to understand that when they go into the world, the worldview presented in these videos is the predominant worldview. It's pantheism. Teach them how to strike down worldly wisdom raised up on opposition to God with spiritual, not carnal, weapons (2 Cor 10:5). Train them to explain to the lost that this earth is not our home (Heb 13:14), that God alone numbers our days (Psalm 139:16), and that heavens and the earth will one day pass away, but that God's word will never pass away (Matt 24:35).
God, not Mother Nature, is the Deity who presides over human beings, the earth, our solar system, and the entire universe. He alone causes it, all of it, to hold together, and to exist.
"He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." (Col 1:17)
"For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former things will not be remembered or come to mind." (Isaiah 65:17)
I'm writing this not as one who disdains and looks down on the lost who hold these views, but as a former Militant Eco-Greenie. I was sold out for years to this worldview of nature worship, in which creation is Deified. I was sold out, that is, until someone took the time to patiently share Christ with me. And only then was I able to exchange the worship of created things for the worship of the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
Justin Edwards of airō website has just recently published an excellent article entitled Christian Submission vs Belligerent Discontentment Before Civil Authorities. The article is about Theonomist Matthew Trewhella, and his views on how Christians should live under tyranny. As a side note, Theonomy as a movement within Christendom continues to gather steam and roll along, so I'm glad we have a few Christian men today who are aware of it, and are willing to publicly oppose their views. Here is an excerpt from Justin's article:
'Everyone innately knows that it’s an honest and just thing to depose a tyrant…everyone knows it’s a just and noble thing to do, except of course the effeminate, the culture in which we have in this nation now after much conditioning by the media in our country, and the government schools. And also it doesn’t make no [sic] sense to your average butt-faced Christian who’s been raised in American 20th century Christianity, now 21st century Christianity, because they have no idea '[sarcasm] how could killing, how can anything other than love, have anything to do with God?” Right? Am I right? Of course I’m right. It’s the state of Christianity we live in. But anyone who hasn’t been ruined by those two things – rotten American Christianity or American culture…knows perfectly well it’s honorable and just to kill a tyrant.''"
Contrast Trewhella's view that it is "biblical" and "dutiful" for citizens to assassinate tyrannical kings with:
▪ Daniel, who faithfully served under tyrannical king Nebuchadnezzar, who so valued Daniel that he sought his counsel and honored him (Daniel 2:46-49, Daniel 4:18), and
▪ Mordecai, who faithfully served under tyrannical king Ahasuerus, to the point of warning Ahasuerus about an assassination attempt that Mordecai overheard being plotted against the king (Esther 2:21-23), rather than joining in on the assassination plotting/attempt (as Trewhella counsels)
Wouldn't this be the equivalent of a Christian today serving under our own "tyrannical king" in the form of President Obama? Can we even imagine a Christian of today serving under Obama with such respect and kindness toward him that President Obama knew that this person genuinely cared for him, and knew that he (Obama) could seek him out for wise counsel?
After one of Nebuchadnezzar's dream, which he went to Daniel for interpretation for, Daniel said to wicked king, whom he obviously cared for, that he wished this dream would happen to those opposed to the king, rather than to the king. He genuinely cared for King Nebuchadnezzar......and King Nebuchadnezzar knew it.
Daniel 4:19 - "Daniel, whose name is Belteshazzar, was appalled for a while (after the king told him his dream) as his thoughts alarmed him. The king responded and said, ‘Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its interpretation alarm you.’ Belteshazzar replied, ‘My lord, if only the dream applied to those who hate you and its interpretation to your adversaries!’"
I hear a lot of disdain from politically involved Christians today toward President Obama. Don't get me wrong: I'm a Republican and very conservative and I oppose basically everything that Obama does. But he IS the king/president who has been ordained by God to rule over us, and aren't we commanded to show him respect as our ruler? And above and beyond that, aren't we biblically bound to care for him as a human being who is made in the image of God?
I'm saying all this to express what I am coming to understand about how it is that Christians should live with respect to others. Should we disdain and hate them and talk unkindly about them, like so many do about President Obama? and about Muslims? Or should we live so kindly and peaceably with them and among them that they really do see something in us that is different from the self-seeking and self-gratification that they see in so many others? and they know they can seek us out for truth, integrity and wise counsel (as Nebuchadnezzar did with Daniel, and Ahasuerus did with Mordecai)?
I'll close with one last thought: how do Theonomists reconcile their views with Romans 13, which the Apostle Paul penned while living under the reign of wicked King Nero? a king so wicked and so malevolent toward Christians that he would impale them on stakes, and then line the roads into Rome with them, and set them on fire. This was to show the world what he thought of Christians and how he intended to treat them. But did the Apostle Paul advocate the assassination of King Nero? No. Consider instead that he wrote Romans 13:
"Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed." (Romans 13:1-7)
Note that in the Facebook discussion above, Pastor Trewhella claimed that his sermon did not "properly convey" what he wanted to say, and that he would never "go around encouraging people to kill government officials."
In response to this statement by Pastor Trewhella, Pastor Phil Johnson of GTY responded thusly:
"Mr. Trewhella's statement 'It’s time for men in this nation to raise up and start killing some tyrants. Plain and simple--' is hardly an insignificant slip of the tongue. It's nice that he's sorry he said it, but it raises a fair question about his fitness for public ministry. And putting a short disclaimer in a 50-comment thread on someone else's FaceBook page hardly fixes the problem. Back in the 1990s......a theonomic Presbyterian (PCA and OPC ordained) minister named Paul Hill was using similar arguments and spouting similar rhetoric specifically with regard to government protection of abortion providers. His life story would be an instructive read for anyone inclined to give credence to Mr. Trewhella's grandiloquence. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Jennings_Hill
I'm also curious about Pastor Trewhella's claim that his statement was misconstrued, and that he would never advocate for tyrannical rulers to be assassinated. If this is the case, what then, did he mean? Consider the following:
If Matricide means to kill your mother, and
If Patricide means to kill your father, and
If Infanticide means to kill your infant,
What does Tyrannicide mean?
Posted by Christine Pack and Cathy Mathews In the past few days, we've written extensively about Christians and the conspiracy theories, and the wisdom of such a focus. We want to make it clear that just because biblical history records conspiracies doesn't mean that as believers we should study conspiracies. There is plenty of evil in the world that is plain, that we already know of, that we should address. We don't need to decode Katy Perry's or Madonna's or Beyonce's song lyrics according to some conspiracy theory website in order to determine that they are wicked and promoting a wicked lifestyle. It's plain to see from what they have recorded and how they live. With this is mind, please consider the following two examples for witnessing to the lost:
THE BIBLICAL WAY:
Christian to a lost person: "Did you notice what Katy Perry was singing about in the half-time show? Her lyrics encourage out-of-wedlock sex and homosexuality. God teaches that fidelity in marriage is a blessing and that homosexuality is a sin in his eyes, let me show you.
Lost person: It does? Okay, can you show me that?
THE CONSPIRACY THEORIST'S WAY:
Christian to a lost person: Did you watch Katy Perry's Super Bowl performance? First of all, she's the woman who rides the beast from Revelation 17. And about that costume, did you notice....(insert four thousand more words here on the costumes, symbols and hand signals of the half-time show)."
Lost person: Zzzzzzzz (asleep)
Romans 1 and Suppressing The Truth In Unrighteousness The Bible is all we need in terms of understanding why the lost are enslaved to Satan. Romans 1 stands in stark contrast to the claims of conspiracy theorists on how people become enslaved to sin, which is that these symbols, or hand signals, or corporate logos, or whatever, somehow "condition" people to accept Satan's schemes. But this is simply not true. When unconverted people stand before God at their judgment, God will not say:
"You were under Satan's spell because you looked at a symbol. It was a Satanic symbol, but because you didn't take the time to study symbols, and therefore identify one correctly, you were put into bondage under Satan."
Nor will He say:
"Remember that ad you saw in the magazine that time. Well, it had an embedded Satanic message that your subconscious mind saw, and this ensnared you in Satan's trap. Too bad there was nobody schooled in 'visual literacy' that could have pointed this out to you." ('Visual literacy' is a term that was used by a recent commenter to explain why Christians need to study symbols for occult meaning, and warn others about them.)
No....but what God will say is something like this:
"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen." (Romans 1:18-25)
They will be condemned because although God makes His existence self-evident and plain to men, they suppress this truth in unrighteousness. Men love their sin. This is what binds men to Satan. Men are not ensnared unknowingly and unwillingly through subliminal messages or imbedded symbols, but are enslaved knowingly and willingly through denying the clear evidence of their Creator and refusing to honor Him as God or give Him thanks. They refuse to come to Him on the terms He has given (faith in His Son Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins). That's it. And that is God's own prescription for what enslaves people. God's Children Marked By Love Given that America has increasingly cast off moral restraint, no-one is denying that there are almost certainly darker times ahead for believers. We're just discouraging the fearmongering websites that cause believers to become, in our experience, angry, paranoid, panicky and mean-spirited when biblically challenged about the wisdom of looking at conspiracy websites. We're not saying all those who frequent conspiracy websites are this way. But Christians are told by God that they WILL be marked by love. Well, many of the conspiracy theorists who have come onto our Facebook wall to debate this in the past few days have been mean, foul-mouthed, unkind, panicky and angry. Those are not the fruits of the Spirit. A Final Appeal Let me close with a direct appeal to our friends, the conspiracy theorists: please understand that our desire really is to see Christians who are caught up in conspiratorial thinking to become free from this snare. Because even if it's ALL true, every bit of it, so what? What are you going to do with all this information that you get from your conspiracy websites? Are you going to storm the doors and demand answers? They shoot people at the White House for that. You know that, right? What about the resorts where the world leaders are (allegedly) meeting to conspire evil? You can't get in there, those are gated communities, and even if you could, what would you do? Pass out You Might Be An Illuminati Member If..... pamphlets? They'd cart you off and lock you up in a padded cell. I mean honestly, what is the point of looking at this stuff, and supposedly "educating yourself" on it all? What is the end-game for it? What lost people need is not a dissertation on evil. They need Christ. They need the gospel message. They need to be helped to understand what sin is, and then told that they need to repent and believe on Christ for the forgiveness of sins. Let's keep our eyes on the Christ, and make sure we're keeping our hearts pure, and making sure our time is being wisely spent on the study of the Scriptures, and not in hours of time spent poring over conspiracy websites. Let us strive to remember that this increasingly dark world is not our home, but that we can entrust whatever wickedness is here to the LORD. May we continue to preach Jesus Christ and him crucified. And when souls are saved through the preaching of the gospel, those new believers WILL leave behind the trappings of the world of their own accord, because He who has begun a good work in them will bring it to completion, will He not?
"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Tim 3:16-17)
"Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." (Phil 4:8)
"But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." (1 Peter 3:15)
"The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day." (Prov 4:18)