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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Are “Altar Calls” Biblical?

alter call

At the end of almost every pentecostal, charismatic, or evangelical church service, there is the ubiquitous call for sinners to “give their lives to God”. Generally, there is a fever pitch of pleading mixed in with a healthy dose of threats of eternal hellfire and damnation – all to the tune of a Hammond organ that is being plucked to within one inch of it’s life.

Unfortunately, alter calls have become synonymous with “salvation” – particularly because they are seen as the surrender of one’s life to Christ. Some even argue that you are not “really saved” unless you “got up off the mourners bench to walk down to the alter in front of everybody” – implying that the will of God can only be accomplished in a room full of people.

Thus my interest in a recent article from Gotquestions.org (reprinted entirely below – emphasis in bold):

What does the Bible say about altar calls? Are altar calls biblical?

The practice of altar calls—calling people forward after an evangelistic sermon to make a public confession of faith in Christ—has gained prominence in the 20th century primarily through “crusades” such as those of Billy Graham. Also known as the “invitation system,” altar calls are regularly practiced as part of some church services, especially in many Baptist denominations and other evangelical churches where altar calls are an integral part of the services.

While altar calls as practiced today are not found in the Bible, their advocates cite several biblical examples as support for using them. First, Christ called each of His disciples publicly, telling them “follow Me” (Matthew 4:19, 9:9) and expecting them to respond immediately, which they did. Jesus was demanding an outward identification with Himself on the part of those who would be His disciples. Of course, the problem of Judas, who also responded publicly by leaving his life behind and following Jesus, is that the “call” Judas responded to was not synonymous with salvation.

Proponents of the altar call also cite Matthew 10:32 as proof that a new believer must acknowledge Christ “before men” in order for Him to reciprocate. Calling people to the front of an arena or church is certainly acknowledging before men that a decision has been made. The question is whether that decision is genuinely motivated by a sincere repentance and faith or whether it is an emotional response to external stimuli such as swelling music, heartfelt pleas from the pulpit, or a desire to “go along with the crowd.” Romans 10:9makes it clear that genuine salvation comes only from heartfelt belief, which will then result in a verbal confession of that faith.

Just like the sinner’s prayer, altar calls can be an outward expression of genuine repentance and faith in Christ. The danger is in looking to the prayer or the response as evidence of salvation (Matthew 7:22). True salvation results in a life of continual sanctification as the Holy Spirit within the true believer produces more and more of His fruit (Galatians 5:22-23) as evidence of the reality of saving faith.

So there you have it – alter calls are not “unbiblical”, but they generally appear to be overhyped conclusions to religious stage shows. The important point to remember is that alter calls DO NOT replace the fruit of repentence in the life of the believer.

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“It’s Just The Truth…”

Paul Washer

Many people mistake my advocacy of sound & sober preaching for the advocacy of passionless and somber teaching.

On the contrary, I believe in passionate preaching – primarily when the preacher is passionately pointing to Christ as the ONLY hope of salvation and AWAY from his own talent and charisma.

One of the most passionate and unyielding defenders of the faith on the mission field today is Paul Washer (you can follow him on Twitter as well). I wrote about Washer’s uncompromised message last spring, and a recent exchange in the comment threads of another post inspired me to post this video of Washer (found at Grace Community Church’s YouTube page):

I know that many of you will comment on how much you disagree with Washer on many things – primarily his Southern Baptist background – and accuse him of being a legalist and much more, but you cannot ignore the merit of his passionate plea for truth and honesty in the pulpit in evangelizing the Gospel.

As sad as it seems, many who are deceived are no longer victims of their deceivers – if they remain under teaching that is in direct opposition to the Gospel then they are aiding and abetting in the apostasy. The lust of the flesh and the desire for the material riches that the vipers have attributed to “gawd” is what keeps many tethered to false churches across the globe. As the Apostle Paul succinctly warned his young protege’ (and Washer repeats in the video):

2 Timothy 4:3-4 (New American Standard Bible)

 3For 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,

 4and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

False teachers feed, nourish, and grow on the lust of their followers. The sheep have essentially created “teachers” based on their selfish desires, attracting wolves to feast on their flesh like a thrashing victim attracts sharks in the ocean.

The only way to combat false teaching is to continue to present the truth of God DIRECTLY from His Word. The more we combat lies with THE TRUTH, the chasm between God and His enemies becomes even more evident.

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A New Book: “Wolves In Sheep’s Clothing”

wolf_in_sheeps_clothing

No doubt about it, we live in perilous times, and we see the words of Christ manifesting before our very eyes:

Matthew 7:15-20 (New American Standard Bible)

15“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

 16“You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?

 17“So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.

 18“A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.

 19“Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

 20“So then, you will know them by their fruits.

Last summer I introduced you to Anthony Carter – Reformed Author, Pastor, and Teacher. Carter is the author of “On Being Black & Reformed” and “Experiencing The Truth: Bringing the Reformation to the African-American Church”. He is also the Lead Pastor of East Point Church here in Metro-Atlanta, and praise God through Jesus Christ that He saw fit to provide another lifeboat of sound teaching in the sea of apostasy and heresy in the Atlanta area. Carter has released his latest book “Wolves Among The Sheep” – and he provides a free copy (if you contact him via email) AND and e-book version if you care to kill a few trees and print it out :-)

I’ve had the pleasure of hearing Pastor Tony preach a few times – and I’ve met him once. He is truly a man after God’s heart – not in the “word of faith/mand of gawd” way, but the true discipling of God’s people by presenting truth line upon line. Pastor Tony was nice enough to take time away from his schedule to talk to me about his latest work:

wolves booklet carter

ST: Why this book?

  • Carter: Well, one of the great deficiencies in the church today is spiritual discernment.  It seems people are open to anything that gives the slightest indication of being Christian, or just even spiritual.  I wrote this little booklet in hopes that people would realize that when Jesus said that there would be wolves in sheep clothing among the flock of God, he was not just referring to the church in his day, but was declaring an ongoing threat in the church.  Likewise, the Apostle Paul picked up on this teaching and warned those in the church in his day of the same threat.  So this booklet is just taking the warnings of our Lord and his apostle seriously and seeking to make application of this truth in our day.

ST: Your current book seems to diverge from your earlier works “Experiencing the Truth: Bringing the Reformation to the African-American Church” and “On Being Black and Reformed”.  Is there a sense of urgency with this book?

  • Carter: The urgency is to declare the gospel and the full counsel of God.  In doing so, we must not only declare the truth, but also be prepared as our Lord was to refute falsehood and guard the people of God with the word of God.  My other books are more comprehensive than this booklet.  They sought to address a broader subject and with more in-depth analysis.  This current booklet is meant to be a brief, but clear clarion call to God’s faithful people to beware and not get duped by the fancy-talking, high-living, but self-promoting so-called prophets of our day.    

ST: The book is pretty direct in exposing the motives and tactics of the wolves of today – why not mention some of them by name?

  • Carter: Actually, the tendency is to want to mention them by name.  Living here in Atlanta where many of their voices are so prevalent, calling names would surely invoke a reaction.  And if a reaction was all I wanted to get out of the booklet, then calling their names would have been the way to do it.  However, I am not after a reaction, but rather to encourage biblical thinking and discernment.  Thus, rather than an emotional reaction to a certain bishop or pastor, I hope people will read the book and make application as the Spirit leads them.  Furthermore, in calling names you run the risk of people focusing the discussion just on the one or two individuals you call rather than the broader application that is really required.  There are more than just one or two wolves out there.    

ST: I presume that many who flee false doctrine seek you out because of your honest and heartfelt delivery of the true Gospel message. How do you minister to those who have been hurt by the modern day “Church, Inc.”?

  • Carter: When people come to our church from these false prophetic ministries, I am always moved by the faithfulness of Christ to call his sheep and how they hear his voice – just as he said they would.  And so, when they come to us we are reminded that Christ calls us to feed them.  We seek to give them the only food that really satisfies a true child of God, namely the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  It is the gospel that binds up wounds and give spiritual sustenance in order to strengthen weary souls.  We try to do as our motto says, and “point people to Jesus.”

Praise God that He stills sends men like Carter into the mission field to minister to the lost and deceived. Be sure to get your copy of “Wolves Among The Sheep” (it’s free, remember?) and be equipped with the words and Spirit of Christ in spreading His truth.

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Hungry For God’s Word Or “Divisive”?

 calvinism

I am a contender of the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3). I wasn’t always able to say that, particularly when I aligned myself with false doctrines that presented a skewed view of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

In 18 months, I have evolved from many things: being a subservient “yes man” in a mega-ministry, being a dutiful “son” who loved his “spiritual daddy” more than he loved God, being an ignorant Christian who consulted the Word of God only after consulting with the “mand of gawd”.

In that time, the Lord has allowed me to create this blog to not only expose false teachers and false doctrine, but to present His Gospel – unmolested, unvarnished, and true to it’s historical roots.

I have evolved into a Monergist.

I don’t really like the name “Calvinist”. I have nothing against Calvinists (some of my closest friends identify themselves as such). I just believe that the term is too misleading overall, as evidenced by Dr. C. Matthew McMahon’s defense of Calvinism:

“Why I Am A Calvinist”

[...] It is unfortunate for Calvinism that it is called Calvinism. Charles Spurgeon rightly stated that “Calvinism is nothing more than a nickname for Biblical Christianity.” He was right. The name is often a warrant for despisement though. People say because we follow a man named Calvin, we are not following God. Does not Paul say in 1 Cor. 1:12, “Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or I am of Christ.” is Christ divided?” Paul is right. We are not to follow after men. We are to follow after God for sectarianism is a sin rebuked by the 1st chapter of 1 Corinthians. But do Calvinists really follow Calvin? No. It is actually wrong to call Calvinists “Calvinist” because they are doing nothing other than using the same body of doctrine that Calvin used, who in turn copied Augustine, who in turn copied the church fathers and they, who in turn, followed Christ and the Apostles.  

I appreciate and embrace John Calvin’s tireless exploration of church doctrine (Total Depravitiy, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, Perseverance of the Saints) as well as Martin Luther’s courageous break from the “universal” (i.e. catholic) church in 1517, sparking the Protestant Reformation.

Apparently, many others have also embraced historical biblical Christianity. According to a recent article in Time magazine, Calvinism/Monergism is “making a comeback”:

“The New Calvinism”

[...] Calvinism is back, and not just musically. John Calvin’s 16th century reply to medieval Catholicism’s buy-your-way-out-of-purgatory excesses is Evangelicalism’s latest success story, complete with an utterly sovereign and micromanaging deity, sinful and puny humanity, and the combination’s logical consequence, predestination: the belief that before time’s dawn, God decided whom he would save (or not), unaffected by any subsequent human action or decision.

Calvinism, cousin to the Reformation’s other pillar, Lutheranism, is a bit less dour than its critics claim: it offers a rock-steady deity who orchestrates absolutely everything, including illness (or home foreclosure!), by a logic we may not understand but don’t have to second-guess

[...] Neo-Calvinist ministers and authors don’t operate quite on a Rick Warren scale. But, notes Ted Olsen, a managing editor at Christianity Today,“everyone knows where the energy and the passion are in the Evangelical world” — with the pioneering new-Calvinist John Piper of Minneapolis, Seattle’s pugnacious Mark Driscoll and Albert Mohler, head of the Southern Seminary of the huge Southern Baptist Convention.

[...] “A lot of young people grew up in a culture of brokenness, divorce, drugs or sexual temptation,” says Collin Hansen, author of Young, Restless, Reformed: A Journalist’s Journey with the New Calvinists.“They have plenty of friends: what they need is a God.” Mohler says, “The moment someone begins to define God’s [being or actions] biblically, that person is drawn to conclusions that are traditionally classified as Calvinist.” Of course, that presumption of inevitability has drawn accusations of arrogance and divisiveness since Calvin’s time. 

I also found an article on John Piper’s “Desiring God” blog (published in 2007) that also dealt with the accusation of arrogance in Calvinist circles:

“Be A Kinder Calvinist”

[...] There is a letter on Scot McKnight’s blog from a pastor who is very frustrated with certain Calvinists in his church. It would be easy enough to disregard it, pointing out that not all Calvinists are like that or that his use of the word “hyper-Calvinist” doesn’t match correct theological jargon. But that would be missing the point. And, ironically, that reaction would only lend credence to the frustration that motivated the letter in the first place.

[...] Calvinists come across as self-righteous, condescending, arrogant, unfriendly, argumentative, and even stingy. The fact that we’re not all that way is irrelevant in the same way that it didn’t matter to Molly that I had done three things to show I appreciate her—she still felt unappreciated. Her frustration was true because, whether or not I was grateful to my wife, I was perceived as an ingrate. Similarly, the frustration in the letter is true because, whether or not the Calvinists in the letter-writer’s church are good folks, they come off as proud and divisive jerks. Those Calvinists, as church members, and I, as a husband, should change based on this information, regardless of how “inaccurately” the frustration may be worded.

[...] It won’t be easy to change the pejorative stereotype that clings to Calvinism, but we can start by admitting that it is accurate far too often. Then we can make sure we are manifestly not self-righteous, condescending, arrogant, unfriendly, or argumentative.

I’m sure that many of you who absolutely abhor me and this blog will contend that I have come across as arrogant, condescending, argumentative, and more that can’t be shared in a “family-friendly zone”.

Those of you who would defend me, save your breath – I agree with the detractors on this one…sort of.

While I strive to be balanced, fair-minded, objective – I can get pretty snarky, sarcastic, and downright mean to those who taunt me. Sometimes the pain of my former allegiance to false gospels is mixed in with my love for God’s true Word, and I take the bait and “give it” as good as I “got it”.

I’ll do my part – I’ll try earnestly to defend the Word of God without being arrogant and condescending, particularly because it is only by God’s grace that I am no longer chasing false gospels and false teachers. I know where I came from, and it is my humble prayer that many more join me on the “outside” of what I consider “the cult”.

That said – can you passionately pursue the truth of the Word of God without being labeled “divisive”? Apart from semantics and an occasional flare up, is the “divisive” label liberally applied to any believer who dares offend the delicate sensibilities of others – particularly sinners – by stating what God said from His Word? 

I’m curious to read your thoughts on the matter…

A “Minstrel Free” Zone ***UPDATED***

gospel-coalition1

Chicago was a virtual “pulpit pimp/minstrel free” zone this past week (well, parts of Chicago, anyway) because The Gospel Coalition brought sound biblical teachers to the city! Men like Driscoll, Carter, Anyabwile, Carson, Dever, Piper, and many more descended on the Windy City to present the pure Gospel – devoid of fluff, “kick your neighbor in the gut and say…”, sacrificial conference offerings, and other mess:

The Gospel Coalition – The Gospel for All of Life

We are a fellowship of evangelical churches deeply committed to renewing our faith in the gospel of Christ and to reforming our ministry practices to conform fully to the Scriptures. We have become deeply concerned about some movements within traditional evangelicalism that seem to be diminishing the church’s life and leading us away from our historic beliefs and practices.

[...] We have committed ourselves to invigorating churches with new hope and compelling joy based on the promises received by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. 

The sermons are simply too plentiful to add to my Sermon RSS feed Section (on the right side of this page), so please bookmark this article so that you can return to access the sound preaching recorded at this year’s conference:

The Gospel Coalition – Conference Resources

Also, for those of you who use Twitter (and I am slowing becoming proficient in the art of “tweeting”), you can follow many of these pastors yourself (which is how I found out about the conference in the first place).

***UPDATED*** Thanks to those of you who alerted me of Mark Driscoll’s “preaching style” (i.e. His crudeness). I humbly accept your godly rebuke. Unfortunately I just learned of Driscoll’s afinity for lewd preaching last night (I read MacArthurs article “The Rape of Solomon’s Song). I have tremendous respect for Pastor John, and I will not endorse Driscoll’s preaching as pure gospel. Again, thanks for caring enough to weigh in…

Are There Modern-Day Apostles? NO

Lane Chaplin has a great video of Dr. Alan Cairns of Let The Bible Speak Ministries in Northern Ireland. Dr. Cairns thoughtfully and biblically details the fallacy of the modern-day “apostle” phenomenon:

Are There Apostles in the Church Today?

In a previous post, I explained that according to scripture, the office of Apostle was a FOUNDATIONAL OFFICE, not a permanent position with fringe benefits. Please note that Dr. Cairns explains that the apostles were “sent” to spread the Gospel, so in that respect all believers are called to do the work of the apostles. The modern-day apostles, however, have no biblical ground to stand on in “declaring” their “apostolic ministry” (complete with lofty titles, submitted sons and daughters, and the like). Once again, the irrefutable Word of God is clear and concise in the hands of a biblically sound teacher.

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Yes, We ARE Suppposed To Judge

judge-jury

This post is an illustrative response to the often used refrain of the biblically ignorant:

“Who are you to judge anyone?”

Frankly, I’m tired of repeatedly typing the same response every time I read that sentence – and if I had a dollar for every time it has been hurled at me like an epithat, then I could retire and blog full-time. So, this post is for selfish reasons so that I can simply copy the url address to respond to my critics, but since it is biblically sound I pray that it educates once and for all.

Contrary to public opinion (which has no place being in the church in the first place), God calls His children to judge. He is the Ultimate Judge – He judges our eternal souls, and He also gives us the right – no, the responsibility to call it like we see it in accordance to His Word…especially when what we confront is NOT OF GOD.

Matthew 7:1 is where most of the biblically ignorant like to stay: “thou shalt not judge”. When we read in context, however, we see the totality of that statement:

Matthew 7:1-5 (New American Standard Bible) 

 1(A)Do not judge so that you will not be judged.

 2“For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and (B)by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.

 3“Why do you (C)look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?

 4(D)Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?

 5“You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

Jesus set a pretty clear standard – don’t judge someone for something that you yourself are guilty of…that’s called hypocrisy. In fact, this particular passage of scripture is written specifically to admonish against rash judgement (judging a brother or sister without any ground or evidence). In other words, don’t call someone out on their foul mouth when you curse like a sailor yourself.

Using the “judge not” defense in any other situation is SCRIPTURALLY UNSOUND. It has become a knee-jerk reaction to calling sin sin. That same twisted logic means that we should stop prosecuting all criminals and we should NEVER speak out against ANY WRONGDOING because we would be judging…“and we’re not supposed to do that”.

Simply put, we are to judge righteously and use sound wisdom – specifically:

1 Corinthians 6:2-3 (New American Standard Bible) 

 2Or (A)do you not know that (B)the saints will judge (C)the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts?

 3(D)Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life?

Proverbs 3:21 (New American Standard Bible)

   21My son, (A)let them not vanish from your sight;
         Keep sound wisdom and discretion,

John 7:24 (New American Standard Bible) 

 24“Do not (A)judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”

Jeremiah 22:3 (New American Standard Bible) 

 3‘Thus says the LORD, “(A)Do justice and righteousness, and deliver the one who has been robbed from the power of his (B)oppressor Also (C)do not mistreat or do violence to the stranger, the orphan, or the widow; and do not (D)shed innocent blood in this place.

Philippians 1:10 (New American Standard Bible) 

 10so that you may (A)approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until (B)the day of Christ;

James 5:19-20 (New American Standard Bible)

 19My brethren, (A)if any among you strays from (B)the truth and one turns him back,

 20let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will (C)save his soul from death and will (D)cover a multitude of sins.

As believers, it is our duty to confront sin (Matthew 18:15-17). This is not judging, this is pointing out the truth in order to bring repentance to the sinner and to restore them to the fellowship. A believers job is to proclaim what God’s Word says about sin. 2 Timothy 4:2 clearly states the intent of those who present God’s Word. Our purpose is to judge sin; not just to exercise biblical acumen, but to present the solution for sin and its consequences—the Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:6).

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“…wandering from the fold of God”

 sheep-on-edge-of-cliff

The title of this article is taken from one of my favorite hymns, “Come Thou Fountain of Every Blessing”:

“Here I raise my Ebenezer, Here by Thy great help I’ve come.
And i hope by Thy good pleasure, Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger, Wandering from the fold of God.
He to rescue me from danger, Interposed His precious blood
.”

Within that simple verse lies the crux of the impasse that the church finds itself today. My heart breaks daily when I see and hear scriptural molestation and murder at the hands of the minstrels and hirelings performing in pulpits on stage every Sunday morning and Wednesday evening. First, we were told that we were “little gods” – able to command blessings, influence events by “binding and loosing”, and even controlling God Himself at the whim of our mortal words. We were sold the erroneous claim that we choose to “surrender our lives” to God – again, claiming our own power in the direction of our eternal souls.

Continuing in this misguided philosophy – after we “stopped running” and “surrendered” to Him, we were told that the only way to assuage His Righteous indignation was to pay him…heartily…so that His grace would be upon us, we’d walk in His divine favor, and we’d be spared from all manner of calamity.

The church has perilously wandered away from “the fold of God”, and they don’t even know it. Worse, we have rejected God’s Holy Word and accepted a distorted substitute from the mouths of liars – and God’s judgement is being poured out before our very eyes (emphasis added):

Romans 1:18-25 (New American Standard Bible)

18For (A)the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who (B)suppress the truth in unrighteousness,

 19because (C)that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.

 20For (D)since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, (E)being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

 21For even though they knew God, they did not [a]honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became (F)futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

 22(G)Professing to be wise, they became fools,

 23and (H)exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and [b]crawling creatures.

 24Therefore (I)God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be (J)dishonored among them.

 25For they exchanged the truth of God for a (K)lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, (L)who is blessed forever. Amen.

Not only are the hirelings who purport this false gospel fools who profess to be wise, but the sheep (who are proving themselves to really be goats – Matthew 25:31-46) are eagerly joining them in their rejection of the Word of God, and defending the vile hirelings tooth and nail, all the while ignoring the TRUTH of the Gospel they profess to embrace. We might not worship animals and birds (yet), but man-worship is in full effect and expanding at every turn. Sheeple will quote their pimp hireling with far greater fervor than they will the Word of God – IF they quote the Word at all.

All of this is born out of our twisted view of our place in God’s soveriegn plan. When we stray from historical biblical Christianity, we stray from sound doctrine and God’s Word. As a Monergist, I recognize that the Holy Spirit is the ONLY agent who initiated and effected regeneration in me. Apart from the Blood of Christ, there is no good in me (Romans 7:17-19), so how can I – in my natural mind – make a decision to live for Christ and yield to Him?

John Hendryx wrote an article regarding Monergism that neatly explains the working of the Holy Spirit in regeneration (emphasis added):

The Work of the Trinity in Monergism – The Shepherd Knows His Sheep By Name

[...] Monergistic regeneration is a redemptive blessing purchased by Christ for those the Father has given Him (1 Pet 1:3, John 6:37, 39). This grace works independently of any human cooperation and conveys that power into the fallen soul whereby the person who is to be saved is effectually enabled to respond to the gospel call (Acts 2:39, 1 Cor 1:2, 9, 24, Rom 8:30 John 1:13, Acts 13:48). It is that supernatural power of God alone whereby we are granted the spiritual ability and desire to comply with the conditions of the covenant of grace; that is, to apprehend the Redeemer by a living faith, to come up to the terms of salvation, to repent of idols and to love God and the Mediator supremely. The Holy Spirit, in quickening the fallen soul, mercifully illumines the mind and renews the heart, giving God’s elect the capacity and inclination to exercise faith in Jesus Christ (John 6:44, 1 John 5:1). This instantaneous and intensely personal work of God is the means by which the Spirit brings us into living union with Him.

 In my not so humble opinion, one of the precipitating events to the downward spiral we see in Christianity today is the denial of the sovereignty and supremacy of God in all things. We have relegated God to the role of both Cosmic Slot Machine and Puppet, all at the same time. By degrading His sovereignty, we elevate our own foolish pride and knowledge, and we begin to tell the potter how we are to be fashioned (Isaiah 29:15-16). This task is made far more simple when we do so from the posture of “little gods” who can “decide” to step away from our sin-sick fate and “come to Jesus”. Of course, this logic makes it easier to vacillate back and forth between sin and holiness because after all, “it is our decision”, right?

I implore you by the power of the Holy Spirit – reject the men and women who puff themselves up as modern day idols. Reject any and all new-age philosophy that equates you with God in power and might. Abhor mockery of God’s Holy Word at the hands of pimps, vipers, wolves, et al. Flee false doctrine and wicked assemblies. Systematically READ GOD’S WORD FOR YOURSELF (page by page) and stop relying on 3rd and 4th hand hack exegesis from impostors. Don’t be afraid to sit on a wooden pew in a small church (full of people who are not the same race as you are) and listen to a preacher who rightly divides the Word just because they don’t entertain you like the minstrels do. Meditate on God’s Word – and buy credible reference material and books that help you dig even deeper for His truth. Learn to hear the Voice of God for yourself so that you don’t run from the arms of a wolf into the clutch of a viper.

Above all, I pray to God through His Precious Son that you would trust in Christ alone for your salvation and your hope, and that you will be built up in Him Who does not dissappoint (1 Peter 2:4-6).

’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, And to take Him at His Word;
Just to rest upon His promise, And to know, “Thus says the Lord!”

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him! How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! O for grace to trust Him more!

Oh Precious Father, humble us to return to Your fold.

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