Archive for the 'Doctrine' Category

The Cult of Mormon

As I stated during the last presidential election cycle, I am a political independent – I support people, not entire parties. I was/am not a fan of any politician who trots out their religious-cred to milk the faithful for their support – whether it’s George W. Bush or Barack Obama, both of whom exhibit questionable (if not out-right incredulous) “allegiance” to the Christian faith. And this is not a political blog, although I’m eager to share my thoughts on the exploitation of religion for political gain.

The quote above is attributed to Robert Jeffress, the Dallas pastor (and Rick Perry supporter)  who single-handily thrust Mitt Romney’s religion back into the forefront of presidential politics (yet again).  I won’t expound on my thoughts on the bread and circus of the impending presidential election cycle, but I will take a moment to educate (and remind) you about the tenets of Mormonism, thanks to a recent article from GotQuestions.org (reprinted in it’s entirety, my emphasis in bold):

What is Mormonism? What Do Mormon’s Believe?

The Mormon religion (Mormonism), whose followers are known as Mormons and Latter Day Saints (LDS), was founded less than two hundred years ago by a man named Joseph Smith. He claimed to have received a personal visit from God the Father and Jesus Christ who told him that all churches and their creeds were an abomination. Joseph Smith then set out to begin a brand-new religion that claims to be the “only true church on earth.” The problem with Mormonism is that it contradicts, modifies, and expands on the Bible. Christians have no reason to believe that the Bible is not true and adequate. To truly believe in and trust God means to believe in His Word, and all Scripture is inspired by God, which means it comes from Him (2 Timothy 3:16).

Mormons believe that there are in fact four sources of divinely inspired words, not just one: 1) The Bible “as far as it is translated correctly.” Which verses are considered incorrectly translated is not always made clear. 2) The Book of Mormon, which was “translated” by Smith and published in 1830. Smith claimed it is the “most correct book” on earth and that a person can get closer to God by following its precepts “than by any other book.” 3) The Doctrine and Covenants, containing a collection of modern revelations regarding the “Church of Jesus Christ as it has been restored.” 4) The Pearl of the Great Price, which is considered by Mormons to “clarify” doctrines and teachings that were lost from the Bible and adds its own information about the earth’s creation.

Mormons believe the following about God: He has not always been the Supreme Being of the universe, but attained that status through righteous living and persistent effort. They believe God the Father has a “body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s.” Though abandoned by modern Mormon leaders, Brigham Young taught that Adam actually was God and the father of Jesus Christ. In contrast, Christians know this about God: there is only one true God (Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 43:10; 44:6-8), He always has existed and always will exist (Deuteronomy 33:27; Psalm 90:2; 1 Timothy 1:17), and He was not created but is the Creator (Genesis 1; Psalm 24:1; Isaiah 37:16). He is perfect, and no one else is equal to Him (Psalm 86:8; Isaiah 40:25). God the Father is not a man, nor was He ever (Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29; Hosea 11:9). He is Spirit (John 4:24), and Spirit is not made of flesh and bone (Luke 24:39).

Mormons believe that there are different levels or kingdoms in the afterlife: the celestial kingdom, the terrestrial kingdom, the telestial kingdom, and outer darkness. Where mankind will end up depends on what they believe and do in this life. In contrast, the Bible tells us that after death, we go to heaven or hell based on whether or not we had faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. To be absent from our bodies means, as believers, we are with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:6-8). Unbelievers are sent to hell or the place of the dead (Luke 16:22-23). When Jesus comes the second time, we will receive new bodies (1 Corinthians 15:50-54). There will be a new heaven and new earth for believers (Revelation 21:1), and unbelievers will be thrown into an everlasting lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15). There is no second chance for redemption after death (Hebrews 9:27).

Mormon leaders have taught that Jesus’ incarnation was the result of a physical relationship between God the Father and Mary. Mormons believe Jesus is a god, but that any human can also become a god. Mormonism teaches that salvation can be earned by a combination of faith and good works. Contrary to this, Christians historically have taught that no one can achieve the status of God—only He is holy (1 Samuel 2:2). We can only be made holy in God’s sight through faith in Him (1 Corinthians 1:2). Jesus is the only begotten Son of God (John 3:16), is the only one ever to have lived a sinless, blameless life, and now has the highest place of honor in heaven (Hebrews 7:26). Jesus and God are one in essence, Jesus being the only One existing before physical birth (John 1:1-8; 8:56). Jesus gave Himself to us as a sacrifice, God raised Him from the dead, and one day everyone will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:6-11). Jesus tells us it is impossible to get to heaven by our own works and that only by faith in Him is it possible (Matthew 19:26). We all deserve eternal punishment for our sins, but God’s infinite love and grace have allowed us a way out. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

Clearly, there is only one way to receive salvation and that is to know God and His Son, Jesus (John 17:3). It is not done by works, but by faith (Romans 1:17; 3:28). We can receive this gift no matter who we are or what we have done (Romans 3:22). “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Although Mormons are usually friendly, loving, and kind people, they are deceived by a false religion that distorts the nature of God, the Person of Jesus Christ, and the means of salvation.

So, it doesn’t matter how many cool commercials they trot out to prove “we’re just like you”, Mormonism is counter to the Word of God and the Lordship of Jesus Christ…which means it’s a cult.

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“…He’s not dead”

Why do you cry? He is risen…Why are you weeping? He’s not dead

- “Don’t Cry” by Kirk Franklin

As we who claim the Name of the Lord ponder His supreme sacrifice this weekend (and our Blood-bought right as heirs to His Kingdom), I found an article from Gotquestions.org that nicely sums up the significance of Jesus’ propitiation for our sins.

Happy Resurrection Day, saints!:

Question: “Why is the resurrection of Jesus Christ important?”

The resurrection of Jesus is important for several reasons. First, it witnesses to the immense power of God Himself. To believe in the resurrection is to believe in God. If God exists, and if He created the universe and has power over it, He has power to raise the dead. If He does not have such power, He is not a God worthy of our faith and worship. Only He who created life can resurrect it after death, only He can reverse the hideousness that is death itself, and only He can remove the sting that is death and the victory that is the grave’s (1 Corinthians 15:54-55). In resurrecting Jesus from the grave, God reminds us of His absolute sovereignty over life and death.

Second, the resurrection of Jesus is a testimony to the resurrection of human beings, which is a basic tenet of the Christian faith. Unlike all other religions, Christianity alone possesses a founder who transcends death and who promises that His followers will do the same. All other religions were founded by men and prophets whose end was the grave. As Christians, we take comfort in the fact that our God became man, died for our sins, and was resurrected the third day. The grave could not hold Him. He lives, and He sits today at the right hand of God the Father in heaven.

In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul explains in detail the importance of the resurrection of Christ. Some in Corinth did not believe in the resurrection of the dead, and in this chapter Paul gives six disastrous consequences if there were no resurrection: 1) preaching Christ would be senseless (v. 14); 2) faith in Christ would be useless (v. 14); 3) all the witnesses and preachers of the resurrection would be liars (v. 15); 4) no one would be redeemed from sin (v. 17); 5) all former believers would have perished (v.18); and 6) Christians would be the most pitiable people on the earth (v. 19). But Christ indeed has risen from the dead and “has become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep” (v. 20), assuring that we will follow Him in resurrection.

The inspired Word of God guarantees the believer’s resurrection at the coming of Jesus Christ for His Body (the Church) at the Rapture. Such hope and assurance results in a great song of triumph as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:55, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”

How do these concluding verses relate to the importance of the resurrection? Paul answers, “…you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (v. 58). He reminds us that because we know we will be resurrected to new life, we can suffer persecution and danger for Christ’s sake (vv. 29-31), just as He did. We can follow the example of the thousands of martyrs through history who gladly traded their earthly lives for everlasting life via the resurrection.

The resurrection is the triumphant and glorious victory for every believer. Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose the third day according to the Scripture. And, He is coming again! The dead in Christ will be raised up, and those who remain and are alive at His coming will be changed and receive new, glorified bodies (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Why is the resurrection of Jesus Christ important to salvation? It demonstrated that God accepted Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf. It proves that God has the power to raise us from the dead. It guarantees that those who believe in Christ will not remain dead, but will be resurrected unto eternal life. That is our blessed hope!

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“Jesus MUST be central in the Church…”

eric mason

One of the common misconceptions about us Reformed Christians is that we abhor passionate preaching (and that expository preaching has to be “boring”). I tried to debunk that assertion a few months ago, yet many still don’t equate passionate preaching with Reformed preaching.

Even further, although I’ve written about Blacks in Reformed theology in the past as well, many still can’t fathom a Black preacher who can exposit God’s Word without “huckin’ and buckin'” and begging for money in the process.  

Thank God through Jesus Christ that my brother @RaeWhitlock tweeted about a video that should (hopefully) continue to redefine the stereotypes of Reformed theology – and Blacks in Reformed theology, specifically (as if Voddie Baucham, Anthony Carter, Michael Leach, and many other Black Reformers haven’t already proven the contrary).

The man pictured above is Dr. Eric Mason, Lead Pastor of Epiphany Fellowship in Philadelphia. “Pastor E” is a prolific bible teacher and pastor. His delivery is in your face and unashamedly biblical. The video below is a succinct walk-through-the bible lesson on Christoncentrism – the belief that Christ is the central theme upon which most doctrine is built. Grab your bible and follow along with the video (oh, and note Pastor E’s indignation at the hirelings of the day starting at the 31:30 mark – a disdain I also share):

OK Philly readers, I’ve just given you another fellowship to go and visit!

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Erasing The Consequences of Sin?

erasing mistakes

Like many of you, I have often heard pastors say “I wouldn’t want to follow anybody who hasn’t been through something!”

The statement is intended to be a prerequisite to (and for some, a badge of honor in) ministry because of the presumption that the leader will appear to be more “human” to their followers if they exhibit culpability. Certainly God uses imperfect people (Moses, Noah, David, Paul, you, me…) to exercise His will in the earth, but one cannot expect to wallow in sin and expect to “pick up where they left off” when they have been restored. 

I recently read an interesting article by John MacArthur:

Should Fallen Pastors Be Restored

Gross sin among Christian leaders is a signal that something is seriously wrong with the church. But an even greater problem is the lowering of standards to accommodate a leader’s sin. That the church is so eager to bring these men back into leadership is a symptom of rottenness at the core.

Some have claimed that a leader’s failure makes him more effective in shepherding fallen people. That is ludicrous. Should we drag the bottom of sin’s cesspool for the most heinous sinners to lead the church? Are they better able to understand the sinner? Certainly not! Our pattern for ministry is the sinless Son of God. The church is to be like Him and her leaders are to be our models of Christlikeness.

We must recognize that leadership in the church cannot be regarded lightly. The foremost requirement of a church leader is that he be above reproach (1 Timothy 3:2, 10; Titus 1:7). That is a difficult prerequisite, and not everyone can meet it.

Neither John MacArthur nor the bible is suggesting that you can’t be restored from sin – that premise is the very core of the Gospel message. There should be a realism, however, in placing people back in areas of responsibility after they have shown ill-judgement in leadership.

This is one of the (many) reasons that I am continually irked by Jamal “The Prince Pimp of Baltimore” Bryant. Bryant is a notorious false teacher who has lied about his education credentials, marital fidelity, and his seemingly insatiable sexual appetite (click this link for an overview of his antics). When forced last year to admit an adulterous affair with a young woman in his congregation (suspected to be in her late teens) resulting in the birth of a child, Bryant tried to excuse his behavior by comparing himself to David and Bathsheba. He received little-to-no “counseling” and never relinquished the reigns of his church club.  

Should Bryant be forgiven? Certainly if he repents before the Lord (and his family) and seeks to right the wrongs he’s made. Should he have remained in leadership at his club? Certainly not – especially since he probably would’ve removed a Deacon or Minister guilty of similar transgressions if pressed to do so.

MacArthur sums up his article by saying:

What should you do in the current crisis? Pray for your church’s leaders. Keep them accountable. Encourage them. Let them know you are following their godly example. Understand that they are not perfect, but continue nonetheless to call them to the highest level of godliness and purity. The church must have leaders who are genuinely above reproach. Anything less is an abomination.

We must continue to hold our Pastors and leaders to a standard parallel to the charge they have in preaching and teaching the glorious Gospel. Anything less brings reproach upon the Name of the Lord. Are they perfect? No Should we just put them back behind the bookboard no matter what they’ve done? I don’t think so.

Confronting Error With Condemnation

lion lamb

The world is enamored with crafting a picture of Jesus as the Lamb of God (John 1:29) – the gentle, Teacher who instructs His followers in his philosophical teachings. You see, that “Jesus” is a safe, non-confrontational “guide” who makes “suggestions” regarding righteous living according to the “golden rule” and the “good book”. And many lukewarm, mealy mouth “Christians” – you know, those who act religious on Sunday’s and Wednesdays and justify all manner of apostasy & heresy because of their malaise in studying the Word of God – help perpetuate this lopsided view of Christ.

Thank God that His Word is complete AND replete with the accurate view of Jesus Christ – as both the Lamb of God AND the Lion of Judah (Revelation 5:4-6) our conquering King Who overcomes evil once and for all.

I must admit, I have been extremely frustrated lately with this blog. The Lord has blessed me through my repentance from embracing false doctrines to pour out my love of His Word through this blog. I have been driven to tears many times through the testimonies (both here and in my email box) from those who have been confronted with their complacency and returned to the True Word of God. I have painstakingly written as the Lord wills, applying His Word without prejudice and pointing all who seek His truth to Him.

The Lord has blessed me to share His message to unbelievers, and I am amazed at how most non-believers are well-reasoned and more reasonably interested in discovering the Gospel truth. I’ve considered shutting this thing down a lot lately, frankly because I’m tired of rehashing the same things over and over – WITH PEOPLE WHO CLAIM TO KNOW AND FOLLOW GOD! You can literally type terms (like tithe, apostasy, heresy, word of faith, prosperity gospel, and more) into the “search box” near the top right corner of this blog to find some of the over 250 articles the Lord has allowed me to write over the last almost 2 years – yet I continue having the same back-and-forth circular arguments with people who would rather (A)continue to believe lies over the CLEAR TRUTH that God presents in His Word – and subsequently remain in allegiance with the vast majority of popular wolves, vipers, and hirelings of the day; (B) not “kick up dust” by highlighting the “strife among the brothers” and “assassinate the character” of the liars who pervert the Gospel; (C) remain too lazy (or frankly, too stupid) to stir up a holy passion for God and His breathed Word; or (D) all of the above.

Which leads to a video presentation of “Confronthing Error with Condemnation, Not Conversation – Part 1″ by John MacArthur, soundly exegeting Luke 20:45-47 (and Matthew 23 for larger context). MacArthur succinctly reminds us that Jesus did not mince words in confronting false teachers – and neither should we.

I thank God for godly mentors like John MacArthur (and one even closer to me geographically) who kicked me in my self-pitying butt last night and today, and I in turn will do the same for those who read this blog. As soldiers for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, our job is to present His truth and let Him appeal to the hearts of the hearer. Haters of truth are just that – haters. They faithfully execute their duties by finding any and every reason to object to the delivery and acceptance of sound doctrine.

Let’s continue to faithfully execute OUR duty to lift high the Blood-stained banner of our Lord

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“Religion is an impediment to knowing God…”

believers in exile

So says Billy Graham’s 2nd oldest child, Anne Graham Lotz. Lotz is promoting a new book about her experience as a “believer in exile”, and was featured in last week’s Newsweek magazine:

A Graham Slam

Anne Graham Lotz, the second of Billy and Ruth Graham’s five children, says it’s all right: as long as you have a personal relationship with Jesus, church doesn’t really matter. Neither does denomination. “Religion is an impediment to knowing God,” says Lotz, who is promoting a new book, The Magnificent Obsession. “Procedures, rituals, creeds: how in the world can they help you connect with God? … If you’re sprinkled when you’re baptized or dunked when you’re baptized, it doesn’t matter as far as your salvation goes.”

The article’s author, Lisa Miller, is known for her potshots at Christianity (she’s the “Religion Writer” for Newsweek) – yet the article is of interest to me because of my own “believer in exile” status. I visit an assembly that is built on sound biblical foundation (OK – not as consistently as I’d like to), yet I still find myself “gun-shy” with formally joining another assembly since I fled my pimp and the plantation a few years ago. In speaking with others, I’m finding that there are people who dearly love God and His people (and study and share the Gospel everywhere they go), yet they can’t bring themselves to “join/commit/submit” to another assembly.

Thanks to technology, one can download sermons from some of the most august theologians past and present, study from intricately crafted study bibles and reference text, and communicate with other believers across the Web (blogs, Twitter, Facebook et al) – and NEVER step in another “church building” again.

I know, I know, we’re not supposed to forsake the assembly:

Hebrews 10:25 (New American Standard Bible)

not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

Many pastors use this scripture to intimidate members into continuing to attend and support their churches – even when all manner of corruption runs rampant. Since many believers “don’t want to forsake the assembly”, they stay in corrupt (or biblically questionable) churches to keep their “fire insurance”.

The author of Hebrews (who many assume is the Apostle Paul) is clearly referring to the importance of fellowshipping with other saints/believers, but the full context of Hebrews 10 helps explain the author’s exhortation. The author clearly establishes the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice as the ultimate propitiation for man’s sin, thus explaining the importance of remembering that sacrifice through assembly (worship and encouragement).

The Newsweek article ends with the following revelation from Lotz:

Church may not be necessary to knowing God, she says, but it keeps the relationship going: “You can really love the Lord, but after a while, if you’re all by yourself, the fire goes cold.”

Fair enough, but one could argue that you’re not “by yourself” in non-traditional assembly. So I’ll ask you sage readers: Can you be “on fire” for the Lord without regularly attending a church? Can you visit and volunteer in local asembly’s without formally aligning yourself with their ministries? Has e-Ministry supplanted many “brick-and-morter” ministries today? Have many churches “choked” a relationship with God with “religion”?

I’m anxious to see the dialogue…

“…And all that I command you, you shall speak”

My brother Job over at Jesus Christology posted an interesting question to a recent article that made me think more about my approach to sharing the Gospel. Coincidentally, I found the following video of Pastor Tim Conway of Grace Community Church in Dallas (courtesy of illbehonest). I guess God wants to spur some conversation regarding the subject of personal evangelism and sharing the Gospel:

 Is it possible to be afraid of sharing the Gospel?

Conway’s point is valid – how can the Holy Spirit (through the sovereign will of God) take residence in a believer, yet there is no fruit of repentance…or evidence to the believers friends and family? Further, how can we not share (whether in polite conversation with friends, or in spirited defense of the Gospel) the catalyst for our regenerated lives?

I’m reminded of the words of the Prophet Jeremiah (emphasis in bold):

Jeremiah 1:4-9 (New American Standard Bible)

4Now the word of the LORD came to me saying,
    5“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
         And before you were born I consecrated you;
         I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
    6Then I said, “Alas, Lord GOD!
         Behold, I do not know how to speak,
         Because I am a youth.”
    7But the LORD said to me,
         “Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’
         
Because everywhere I send you, you shall go,
         And all that I command you, you shall speak
.
    8
Do not be afraid of them,
         For I am with you to deliver you,”
declares the LORD.

 9Then the LORD stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me,
         “Behold, I have put My words in your mouth
.

Although God is not be replicating the Prophet Jeremiah throughout the Body of Christ, He is empowering every believer to speak His truth without shame. If He tells you to proclaim His works and His Word, then rest assured that He has not only given you the power to perform His command, He’s removed your fear – and He has prepared the receiver according to His sovereign will.

As my grandmother used to say: “If you been changed then you ain’t afraid to tell somebody!”

Amen, grandma…amen. 

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