Archive for the 'Foundational Truth' 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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Studying The Bible: In Context

jpeg courtesy of Relevant Magazine

Gotquestions.org has become one of my favorite resources for asking and answering questions of faith. I saw this article and immediately agreed with its relevancy – and I’m re-posting it in its entirety:

Question: “Why is it important to study the Bible in context? What is wrong with taking verses out of context?”

Answer: It’s important to study Bible passages and stories within their context. Taking verses out of context leads to all kinds of error and misunderstanding. Understanding context begins with four principles: literal meaning (what it says), historical setting (the events of the story, to whom is it addressed, and how it was understood at that time), grammar (the immediate sentence and paragraph within which a word or phrase is found) and synthesis (comparing it with other parts of Scripture for a fuller meaning). Context is crucial to biblical exegesis in that it is one of its most important fundamentals. After we account for the literal, historical, and grammatical nature of a passage, we must then focus on the outline and structure of the book, then the chapter, then the paragraph. All of these things refer to “context.” To illustrate, it is like looking at Google Maps and zooming in on one house.

Taking phrases and verses out of context always leads to misunderstanding. For instance, taking the phrase “God is love” (1 John 4:7-16) out of its context, we might come away thinking that our God loves everything and everyone at all times with a gushing, romantic love. But in its literal and grammatical context, “love” here refers to agape love, the essence of which is sacrifice for the benefit of another, not a sentimental, romantic love. The historical context is also crucial, because John was addressing believers in the first century church and instructing them not on God’s love per se, but on how to identify true believers from false professors. True love—the sacrificial, beneficial kind—is the mark of the true believer (v. 7), those who do not love do not belong to God (v. 8), God loved us before we loved Him (vv. 9-10), and all of this is why we should love one another and thereby prove that we are His (v. 11-12).

Furthermore, considering the phrase “God is love” in the context of all of Scripture (synthesis) will keep us from coming to the false, and all-too-common, conclusion that God is only love or that His love is greater than all His other attributes, which is simply not the case. We know from many other passages that God is also holy and righteous, faithful and trustworthy, graceful and merciful, kind and compassionate, omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient, and many, many other things. We also know from other passages that God not only loves, but He also hates.

The Bible is the Word of God, literally “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16), and we are commanded to ready, study, and understand it through the use of good Bible study methods and always with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to guide us (1 Corinthians 2:14). Our study is greatly enhanced by maintaining diligence in the use of context because it is quite easy come to wrong conclusions by taking phrases and verses out of context. It is not difficult to point out places that seemingly contradict other portions of Scripture, but if we carefully look at their context and use the entirety of Scripture as a reference, we can understand the meaning of a passage. “Context is king” means that the context often drives the meaning of a phrase. To ignore context is to put ourselves at a tremendous disadvantage.

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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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One Of The Fastest Growing U.S. Exports Is…

sowing

…the false gospel heretofore known as “the prosperity gospel”.

From Africa to Asia, across Europe and more – pastors are propagating, furthering, and deifying the false “pay to play” gospel of greed. The ignorant (or willfully deceptive) enslave millions of followers with promises of riches and favor untold if and when you “pay God”.

I’m a bit virulent in my open disdain for such lies – lies that I bought into (literally and figuratively) for years, but John Piper is a bit more plainly spoken, and well, reasonable about his thoughts on the matter:

John Piper and the Prosperity Gospel

John Piper – “Why I Abominate the Prosperity Gospel”

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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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