Thursday, August 31, 2017

"Blood. . . Part and Parcel of the Programming We Receive as Christians"

Some of what I have written lately is very important.  Very.  It should at least get a reaction, even though I'm not writing it to get a reaction, and I'm talking about the last two posts I've written.  They are making very strong statements about major problems, as I am witnessing them, in professing Christianity, and they seem to be ignored.  I say this at the peril of those ignoring this and this (click on links).

Perhaps something people won't ignore is Hollywood.  Paul Schrader is called "a legendary screenwriter and director," and now he has written and directed First Reformed, a film that he and its star, Ethan Hawke, say go back to their religious roots.  With this film, he blames the problems of the world, and its apocalypse interestingly enough, on biblical Christianity.  Schrader was raised in a Calvinist upbringing, but turned away to the titillation of Hollywood filth.  He says he is returning to austerity, because he sees himself as having grown up in "a magic cone of history" of great affluence and leisure; however, leaving his children and grandchildren to destruction.

Consider the following ending recorded part of the interview with Schrader:
Schrader leaves the questions unanswered with an ambiguous finale, but makes no excuse for portraying a Christian minister as a potential suicide bomber. 
"Deep-rooted in Christianity there is a notion of atonement by blood," he said. "It begins with sacrifices of animals in the Old Testament and continues with the symbolic sacrifice of Christ." 
"Whether you are protestant or catholic you are raised with the idea that through blood you can become clean. This is a pretty dangerous idea when you think about it but it is part and parcel of the programming we receive as Christians."
The point of his film is to attack and undo the biblical teaching of blood atonement, seeing it as the underlying cause of wrong, destructive thinking on society.  Instead, Schrader should see the diminishing of teaching on blood atonement as destroying our culture, creating the magical cone in which he has lived, but he is so deceived that he doesn't even know that he and others like him are the problem.

What he says should be a warning of what's coming for Christians in the country.  It should also help to understand the world's thinking. This is a film that could be made and then greatly applauded at the Venice Film Festival. Think if this was instead a film about Islam, attacking that religion and its founder.  He could find himself leaving his magic cone very quickly.  Instead he focuses on a Dutch Reformed, inebriated suicide bomber, as if that was even a possibility, which is completely laughable. That it would even be entertained is where we are today, leading to the apocalypse that he fears.

Schrader and true Christians have in common a belief in a coming apocalypse.  He may be right that most people will not survive this century.  He could be very right about that.  He just doesn't understand why.  Hopefully, you do.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Jesus Said, Have Faith in God

In Mark 11:14, Jesus cursed the fig tree.  The next day in Mark 11:20, the curse on the tree was fulfilled.  In Mark 11:21, Peter acted surprised about it.  In Mark 11:22, Jesus responded to this by saying, "Have faith in God."

Why did the fig tree dry up?  Jesus cursed it.  If Jesus says the tree is not going to make it, it's not going to make it.  A few things here.

One, Jesus is God.  His saying, have faith in God, was 'have faith in me' in this instance. Faith in Jesus Christ is faith in God.

Two, have faith in God is have faith in what God says He will do.  That's what faith is here, and that is what faith is period. Faith isn't faith in some ephemeral, ethereal, mystical desire you have, treating God like He is a genie-in-a-bottle. Putting faith in God is putting faith in what He says that He will do. It isn't faith in what He can do, but faith in what He will do.  How do we know what He will do? He says what He will do, and we believe He will do it, because He said it.

Parallel to 'having faith in God is having faith in what He said' is Romans 10:17, "faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Faith comes from hearing the Word of God.  You're believing what you hear Him say in His Word.

Jesus' word here was the fig tree would not survive.  When Peter was surprised, this brought Jesus' statement, have faith in God.  If Jesus says He's going to do it, then He's going to do it.  Faith in God is faith in what He says He will do.  It comes by the Word of God. Jesus was expecting Peter and the other disciples at this point to believe what He said.  He's God. He can make a fig tree dry up when He says it's going to dry up.  A mountain will move when He tells it to move. You should believe it, if He says it, and that's how you believe He will do it.

What is faith in God?  It is trusting what God said He would do.  It is not trusting what you hope God will do, because you don't know.  It is believing Him when He says something He will do.  It isn't believing what you want, because you think God can do it.  That's not what is happening in this context.  You're not having faith if it isn't what He said. That's not faith. Faith is based upon the evidence that is what God says.  What God says is evidence, so that you believe that evidence.

Stay with me here, because there is some teaching on prayer here by Jesus in this same text later in Mark 11:25.  Jesus said that He will answer the prayer of your believing that you will receive it. Belief is based upon God's Word.  What you believe you will receive is what God says you will receive.  This is in the context of Jesus saying that the fig tree would be cursed, so that someone should believe that the fig tree would be cursed.  Believing is believing what He said would occur.

What can you believe that you will receive?  If it is belief, then it is based upon the Word of God.  If it is not based upon the Word of God, that is not faith. You are to pray for what you believe that you will receive.  God will give it to you because He is not going to go back on His Word. You can believe Him when He says what He will do.  Those are the things you ask for.  You can't believe that you will receive something that God doesn't say you will.  What He promises are the things you should pray for.

There are things that I do not pray for because I do not believe that I will receive them.  The things I do believe I will receive are the things that God says I will receive.  Those I pray for.  The model prayer of Jesus fits this teaching.  The prayers of the Bible fit this teaching.  Most evangelical and fundamentalist prayers that I hear do not fulfill this teaching.

Having faith in God, we can see, is having faith in what God said.  That is what you believe in.  That is what you can claim by faith.  That is what you pray because you believe you will receive it.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Separation with the Gospel as an Essential: Imagination of and about Jesus Dipping Below a Saving Quality

Have you ever assessed the massive difference in quality of professing Christianity between you and either that of almost all of evangelicalism and even of much of fundamentalism and wondered how they could all be considered to be actual Christianity?  There is a gigantic qualitative dissimilarity between our church and every evangelical church in our area.  We do not allow much of what they do in our church.  Many today call these differences non-essential, that we actually agree with these evangelicals on what’s important, so that the variation between us doesn’t matter.  They would even say that we’re wrong for judging them, that we should just accept them, despite the differences.

One of the key arguments for accepting evangelicals and fundamentalists who differ is one that says churches or professing believers should separate only on gospel oriented teachings.  It is expressed by the notion that the gospel is the essential basis of unity among Christians, so that agreement on the gospel should be enough to bring professing Christians together, even if they differ on many other doctrines and practices.  I don’t agree with this position, but for the sake of argument, I want to say that it is true.  Again, I don’t think it is, but let’s say that it is.  Let’s make just the gospel the basis of fellowship between believers and churches, what you will hear me call minimization or reductionism.

Even without purposes of argumentation, I want to get along with everyone.  Everyone should desire to get along with everyone. God wants reconciliation with everyone. I want it.  I do want to get along with all the evangelicals and fundamentalists, let alone with everyone else in the world.  I so much want to get along with all of them, that for the purpose of argumentation, I’m going to consider the standard, not my own, of getting along based on only the gospel – only the gospel.  Nothing else.  Only the gospel.  I am going to try to get along with all of them on their terms.  Will that still work for me, for anyone?

With this standard, it would seem that, to start, everyone would need to agree on what required components of the gospel are.  That alone is going to begin to truncate the group, but I don’t even want to do that, so I’m again going to simplify by saying that the gospel is “to believe in Jesus Christ.”  For the sake of argument, what will unify evangelicals and fundamentalists with me and others is faith in Jesus Christ for salvation.  With that being the case, to get along I would need unity on what faith or belief is and then Who Jesus Christ is.

Many evangelicals and fundamentalists are messed up on what faith or belief is.  To believe, it has to be belief.  Belief isn’t belief when it isn’t belief.  It must rise to the level of belief to be belief.  Let’s say belief was a glancing thought about Jesus.  I’m being extreme there on purpose.  However, that’s short of saving faith, and, therefore, short of the gospel. I would have to divide on that shortfall of saving faith as part of this essential that the gospel is supposed to be.  What it does establish is that someone can fall short of saving faith in a gospel perverting manner.  There are other further and better iterations of faith than a “glancing thought about Jesus” that also fall short of being saving faith, that pervert the gospel.  I estimate that those alone separate our church and me from most of evangelicalism and fundamentalism today.

I can hear in my head the protestation of evangelicals and fundamentalists, who don’t either want to be questioned on whether their faith is legitimate or not.  I would like to talk about that more, but the point of this post is the second simple component of the gospel, and that is Who is Jesus Christ.  You will hear me say often that I could believe in Jesus Christ, but if he is a jar of peanut butter, then he isn’t Jesus Christ. If he isn’t Jesus Christ, then the person believing in him isn’t saved.  That also perverts the gospel.  That brings me back to my initial thought of this post, that is, the vast differences in the Christianity of evangelicalism from ours.

I am contending that a vast majority and then most of fundamentalism do not imagine a right or true Jesus.  I’m saying their Jesus isn’t Jesus.  They have formulated a Jesus in their imagination who conforms to what and who they want him to be.  Their Jesus wants rock and rap music for worship.  Ours doesn’t.  Can those be the same person?

I’ve been to the doors of many, many evangelicals, who come with tiny shorts or skin tight pants or a revealing blouse, cleavage showing, and if I ask them if they believe in Jesus, what do you think their answer is?  They say, yes. They say they believe in Jesus.  Their Jesus, their grace, their belief, and their God is very fine with all that.

Most of you know that a vast majority of evangelicalism and much of fundamentalism has already slid further than what I’m describing.  Their Jesus is fine with all this.  They believe in that Jesus, the one who is fine with all this. That’s the Jesus they believe in.  Is this a case of mistaken identity?  I’m saying it is.  I’m saying that don’t know Jesus, because their Jesus clashes with the scriptural one.  The one in their imagination is different than the Bible, and it is the One in the Bible Who must be believed in for them to be saved.

There is only one Jesus.  The one Jesus is the only one also to be believed in, so that a person could be saved.  When Jesus has been reduced in people’s minds to a goodymeister, someone akin to a boyfriend, a therapist, a buddy, or a thrill provider, he isn’t Jesus anymore. He’s been reduced to someone less than Jesus in the imagination, one who Satan would gladly have someone imagine, another Jesus, not the one of the Bible.

I understand how that people would be fine with a Jesus who conforms to want they want in their imagination.  I understand how that people would be fine with a Jesus who will conform to their desires and whims.  I understand how that people would be fine with a Jesus who accepts worship of their taste or feelings.  I understand how that a church could get bigger and better attendance from forming a Jesus in the imagination that looks like someone people see in the mirror.

In 2 Corinthians 11, changing Jesus into another Jesus is presented as a way that the gospel is perverted.  A major reason that a large majority of evangelical and most fundamentalist churches are different than ours is because they have a different gospel.  Their gospel is different in that they have an unbiblical Jesus formed in their imaginations.  Jesus is real and there is only one of Him, but the one we believe and worship is in our imagination.  If He is not the right one, then we are not saved.  The gospel has been corrupted in a salvific way.  It is a gospel issue that separates our church from theirs.

If we are only separating over the gospel, the wrong Jesus is enough to separate.  That alone separates our church from most churches. We are not going to agree that we are all worshiping the same Jesus, just because people say we are.  God knows that we aren’t.

You may think that you are bigger or more loving because you show more acceptation of varied imaginations of who Jesus is.  You may think that you are affording more people access to heaven by increasing the acceptable possible imaginations of Jesus.  In the end, when they profess that they knew Him, when they didn’t, they’ll find out too late that you weren’t helping them or anyone else.  They’ll know you actually hated them in the worst way possible.  You got a lot of credit for your toleration, while damning their souls.

I’ve found that people in general are far more picky about what people think of them than what they think about Jesus. They have a very high standard for people’s assessments of themselves. It’s not good enough for people to think whatever they want as it relates to what people are saying about themselves.  On Jesus, they are different.  They don’t care as much.  He can be a much larger range of possibilities and still be adequately him.  They are fine with him being more like they want him to be, while accepting only what they expect people to think of themselves.

If a false gospel damns men’s souls, which it does, we should at least separate over a false gospel.  I don’t think it’s enough to separate over, but I would agree that the gospel at least should divide.  If the gospel is what brings us together, then the Jesus at least needs to be the same Jesus.  If he isn’t, then we’re just playing games with this idea that the gospel is what brings us together.  I’m saying that almost all evangelicalism and most of fundamentalism is playing games.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Health Threats from Samaritan Ministries, part 2

Please note:

Health Threats From Samaritan Ministries, part 1
Dangers in Samaritan Ministries, part 1
Dangers in Samaritan Ministries, part 2
Dangers in Samaritan Ministries, part 3

The May 2017 issue of the Samaritan Ministries newsletter continues the practice of promoting lies that are dangerous to your health.

The newsletter promotes the quack book Primal Panacea, by Thomas Levy, who was a "professor" at a fraudulent diploma mill and claims that "Vitamin C reverse[s] AIDS . . . pesticide exposure, black widow  bite, barbiturate overdose, highland moccasin snake bite, mushroom poisoning . . . polio, viral hepatitis, measles, mumps, viral encephalitis, chicken pox, herpes, viral pneumonia, influenzas, rabies, AIDS, ebola, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, tuberculosis, streptococcal infections, leprosy, typhoid, malaria, brucellosis, trichinosis, amebic dysentery, bacillary dysentery, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, trypanosomal infections . . . [and can] eradicate cancer" (pgs. 6-7).  Why doesn't medical science use it to cure absolutely everything like this?  The Conspiracy, of course:  "[T]here are strong incentives for doctors to use expensive drug therapies and ignore the promise of Vitamin C."  Why insurance companies wish to pay out huge sums instead of paying $1 for Vitamin C is left unexplained, as is why people who don't have doctors in poor countries don't go with his cure-all, and why the huge numbers of other parties that have incredible incentives to reduce costs don't adopt his panacea--except, of course, for the fact that his "primal panacea" is a lie.  Nor is it explained why the miracle algae that Samaritan Ministries promoted to cure everything only a few months earlier is not extolled at this time; perhaps both the miracle algae and Mr. Levy's prognostications cure everything.

The issue likewise continues to promote the medical menace Joseph Mercola (pg. 8), who, as was noted previously, claims that HIV does not cause AIDS, but things like "stress" and the drugs given to cure AIDS really cause the disease. If you follow the medical advice (that they pretend is not medical advice) in the Samaritan Ministries newsletter, you should expect to die from easily curable diseases, for good old snake oil is as effective a cure as Thomas Levy's prescriptions, homeopathy, and miracle algae.

Keeping up the promotion of health threats posing as cure-alls, the August 2017 issue of Samaritan Ministries continues to promote the dangerous quack David Brownstein (who, recall from "Dangers in Samaritan Ministries part 3," claims a quack cure for Ebola, recommends potentially toxic and dangerous levels of vitamin supplements, and makes recommendations for people with heart disease that will lead to their early death).  Now yet another miracle cure is promoted:  Ozone:  The Miracle Therapy. (As noted below, this month Brownstein's  book promotes a second Ebola cure--how easy this incurable disease is to cure!) This time it is ozone that defeats everything from "autoimmune diseases, cancer, diverticulitus [sic], heart disease, infections . . . macular degeneration, shingles, pneumonia, stroke, and urinary infections" (pg. 6).  If one has received the Samaritan newsletter for a while, one wonders why it is necessary to buy Brownstein's book and pay for this Miracle Cure from unconventional medicine peddlers, as previous issues have promoted other Miracle Cures that also take care of everything from cancer to stroke.  It appears that everything is a Miracle Cure that defeats cancer except for scientific medicine, which is disparaged by Samaritan Ministries.  Indeed, Ozone Therapy even allegedly cures "ebola," just like other Miracle Cures Brownstein has made money on from gullible first world people in the past but has failed to properly test and has failed to actually cure third world people who actually had Ebola.

The Samaritan newsletter claims that "Ozone therapy supplies the body's cells with oxygen" (pg. 6) making a very dangerous and very ignorant equation of O2 (the oxygen we use to breathe) and O3 (ozone).  Just like adding two "H" atoms to "O2" changes the oxygen gas we breathe into hydrogen peroxide, H2O2, which has properties not a little different than gaseous oxygen, changing O2 to O3 results in a completely different chemical compound.  Ozone is useful far away from us up in the sky where it is bombarded with solar radiation in the ozone layer.  On the ground, ozone is not a Miracle Cure, but a dangerous pollutant that we try to keep out of the air:  "Breathing ozone can trigger a variety of health problems, particularly for children, the elderly, and people of all ages who have lung diseases such as asthma." Of course, since it can kill things like bleach or ammonia kill, ozone can be used to help people with burns avoid infection and in a few other limited medical uses. Despite the fact that ozone does not cure cancer, etc. any more than carbon monoxide does, and it is a dangerous pollutant, one will conclude from the Samaritan article that "ozone therapy is completely safe" (pg. 7), perhaps even allow a quack to inject ozone directly into one's blood stream (as Samaritan discusses but does not condemn, but claims the jury is out on whether this is a good idea, when it is no more out on that question than on whether or not to inject bleach into one's bloodstream), and will (after spending the money to buy Brownstein's book) be likely to spend money and risk one's life at yet another quack Miracle Treatment that both does not cure disease and is also dangerous to one's health.

See the study here for an analysis of quack oxygen and ozone therapies, and some reliable Christian information on unconventional medicine here.

Samaritan Ministries is detracting from the glory of God's name by making it seem like a Christian thing to believe unscientific and dangerous foolishness and also putting at risk the lives of God's people through its continual stream of quack nonsense.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Depending on God

God wants honor and worship and praise.  He wants faith.  He wants us to believe Him.  He wants us to depend on Him.  We do that by listening to what He says and doing it, and not adding to it.  We should also assume that as believers we have all the power in the universe to see that accomplished. God's instructions in precept and principle are His enablements.

If you depend on a chair, it's four legs, you don't add anything to it.  For salvation, this means not adding works, depending on God alone to be saved. When it comes to scripture, it means not adding anything, depending on God's Word for sanctification and service.

Depending on God is depending on His Word. Those are the same. Depending on God is not doing something your way, asking God to use it, and then depending on Him for what and how you want to do something.  That isn't depending on Him.  That is depending on yourself.

There are several reasons that scripture gives us for depending on Him.

First, God is pleased only when you depend on Him.  Dependence on Him is part of believing in Him.  It is the trust part of faith and without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6), so you are not pleasing Him, when you are not depending on Him.

Second, closely related to the first one, when you don't depend on Him, so that you are not believing in Him, you are disobeying Him.  He tells you to trust Him.  God is Trustworthy.  He is Dependable. You have disobeyed Him when you don't trust in Him.

Third, when you don't depend on Him, you are depending on yourself.  Your way, the what and the how, are not better than His.  It might look like it's working, fooling you into thinking that it's working, but you are deceived.  It might be working in the short term, but if it is not working both in the short term and the long term, then it is not working.  It will not work in the long term, when you are not depending on Him.  God knows the end from the beginning, and you don't.  His way works out in the end, not just in the beginning.  You don't know that.  He does.

Fourth, God gets the glory His way, both the what and the how.  This is the gist of 1 Corinthians 1-3.  Greeks trust in wisdom.  Jews trust in signs.  Paul says trust in God, because that's what glorifies God.  The methods should be His -- that's how He is glorified.  This is the essence as well of what Peter was talking about in 1 Peter 4:10-11.  In the speaking gifts, it must be the oracles of God for God to be glorified, not your speech, your cleverness, your psychology, your whatever.

Fifth, depending on God is what actually works.  Man's problem is a supernatural one.  God's way is supernatural.  When I say it is supernatural, I don't mean that it is mystical.  God saves through His means, the gospel.  God is worshiped according to His Word, not how we like it or what makes us feel good.  Worship is not a matter of taste.  People are saved through God's means and God is worshiped in His way.  Everything should be regulated by what He says, because that is what will work.

We don't even know what works, except that God tells us what works.  Some might say, God is working, and it isn't even God working.  It is their work, and it will pass away in 30-50 years or even shorter, maybe longer, but it won't last.  I've lived long enough now to see fads that work pass away for something else.  I've already seen three or four iterations of man's way, and the latest is treated just like the first, and they are very much the same.

Let me give you an example.  When I was young, there was Jack Hyles.  Hyles's stuff now doesn't work, but it's not like Hyles isn't still around.  You had Hybels and then Warren and Paul Chappell, and now worse, that the former birthed.  You've got people who have slightly modified Hyles, but it is still Hyles.  Hyles was Finney.  All of these are new measures that relate to ensuring something happens through human effort, and then calling it the power of God.  They are the same means dressed up in a contemporary costume.

The way of God is old.  It's historic.  It's very basic.  You don't understand how it worked, because it doesn't make sense that it worked. You depend on God.  Depending on God isn't depending on God to reveal to you a method that isn't in the Bible, and then saying that it was depending on God, because God gave it to you.  If someone is praying for God to give them a better way, that isn't depending on God.

Very often when something works in the short term, someone says he depended on God for it and God deserves the glory.  God isn't glorified.  The man is glorified.  He may say God gave it to him, but it really is him that is the one getting the credit.  He has some special relationship with God, a higher, better one than the Bible even promises, which is why, you're to know, that he got it from God.  Then it "works," and this validates that it was from God.  Thirty years later it is blown to smithereens or apostate, and then it doesn't matter anymore.  People don't remember.  While it is happening though, people are deceived, and they think it is the power of God.  It isn't.  It is him, the man, his method, adding to scripture.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Race and Culture

Let's start with a definition of race from Martin Luther King, Jr. in his I Have a Dream speech on August 28, 1963:
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
Race is the color of the skin, according to King.  One definition in Merriam Webster Dictionary says:
a category of humankind that shares certain distinctive physical traits
For purposes of understanding this brief essay, culture is a way of life.  Again, Merriam Webster Dictionary in part says:
a :  the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations
b :  the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group; also :  the characteristic features of everyday existence (such as diversions or a way of life) shared by people in a place or time
c :  the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization
"Way of life" makes it easier to think about this issue.  In King's speech, race could be the "color of the skin" part, and culture could be the "content of their character" part. King in his speech was not asking for his children to be spared judgment.  They could be judged.  In a sense, they should be judged, but the criteria of that judgment should be the content of the character, what I am calling culture.

God in His Word teaches us to judge. Scripture says a lot about judgment and how to judge. We must judge and the judgment should be righteous.  For instance, many of you reading know that scripture says that Jesus taught in Matthew 7:16, "Ye shall know them by their fruits." Fruit inspection is judging the content of someone's character.

If men are going to judge, then there must be a standard of judgment.  They must know what is the basis of judging someone. People who don't believe in objective truth don't have a standard for judging except for their own opinion, which has no authority.

Race isn't a basis for judging someone.  Culture is.  We should not judge based upon race, but we should judge based upon a way of life or the content of someone's character.

If there is objective truth and an objective, authoritative standard, it is not only possible but it is necessary at times to judge people to be wrong.  We must do that.  It is necessary to judge people based upon their way of life or their lifestyles.

Not only can we judge people to be wrong based upon an authoritative standard, but we can judge both sides of an issue to be wrong.  Two sides can be wrong.  As some have said, two wrongs don't make a right.  I very often say to people that two contradictory sides can't both be right, but both can be wrong.  Just because one side is wrong doesn't mean the other side is right.  Both can be wrong.

Two ways of life opposing one another can both be wrong.  Both can be problematic.  Both can have the wrong content of their character.  Both can have a wrong way of life, as judged by an objective standard.  I very often judge two opposing sides both to be wrong.

An Ethiopian cannot change his skin and a leopard cannot change his spots (Jeremiah 13:23).  We can't judge a person by the color of his skin.  But we can judge someone by the content of his character or how Jeremiah 13:23 ends, someone who is accustomed to doing evil.

We cannot judge one race to be superior to another.  We can judge a certain way of life to be superior to another.  One way of life might be better than another one.  One way of life might be wrong and another might be right.  Some actions are better than others.  Some activities have greater value. Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor is greater than finger painting or playing video games.

I ask that you apply the above to Charlottesville and then keep applying it through the rest of your life to situations and people.  Enjoy your day.

Monday, August 14, 2017

As the Church Is Subject Unto Christ

To help wives understand their responsibility to their husbands, Paul uses the church as the model, when he writes in Ephesians 5:24:
Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
Wives are to be subject to their own husbands in every thing as the church is subject unto Christ. Wives are to look to the church for an example of subjection.  They are to be subject unto their husbands in everything, because the church is subject to Christ in everything.  Is this the position of the church today, that the church is subject to Christ in everything?

First, the church is subject to Christ.  The relationship of the church to Christ is subjection. What would a wife learn from looking at a church?  Would it be subjection?

The name "Christ" is the title of the Messiah.  He is the descendant of David, who will rule over the world.  He is that King.  In the present, He rules through the church in the midst of His enemies (Psalm 110).  John presents salvation as believing that Jesus is the Christ.  If Jesus is the Christ, believers subject themselves to Him.  That is believing in Him.

Ephesians 5:24 assumes the church subjects to Christ, so that a wife can have the church as an example.  Regenerate church membership assumes that the church subjects itself to Christ.  Yet, today churches today do not subject themselves to Christ.  Is this because the membership is unconverted?

If a woman is to look to the church for an example of subjection, how can she do that when churches aren't subject?  Perhaps you have a woman, who is subject to her husband.  Should the church not look to the woman as an example of subjection unto Christ?  This is not the scriptural teaching though.  God says the woman looks to the church.  This assumes lordship.  No one in a church is someone who hasn't received Jesus as Lord.

Second, as an example to the woman, the church is subject to Christ in everything.  If the church is subject to Christ in everything, it must know everything.  If it is subject to Christ in everything, then it is not subject only in the so-called essentials.  If the church can pick what is most important and subject in that only, then the woman can do that too.  She can interpret what is essential from her husband and only subject in that.

Third, if the world has a role reversal, the church must stand responsible for that as well.  The woman has the church to look to as her example. Church to woman in the teaching is greater to lesser.  The church has the greater responsibility, because it is the example, not the woman to the church. Churches can't expect their own women to be subjecting themselves to their husbands, when the church itself doesn't expect full subjection to Christ.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Preaching with Power, Like Jesus Christ Did

Luke 4:32 reads:

And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power.
και εξεπλησσοντο επι τη διδαχη αυτου οτι εν εξουσια ην ο λογος αυτου.

Would you like to preach with power, the way Christ did?  Many people have unbiblical ideas about what this would involve.  The word "power" in this text is the Greek word exousia, which means "power" in the sense of "authority."  In other words, Luke 4:32 teaches the same truth as Matthew 7:28-29: 

And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

και εγενετο οτε συνετελεσεν ο ιησους τους λογους τουτους εξεπλησσοντο οι οχλοι επι τη διδαχη αυτου:  ην γαρ διδασκων αυτους ως εξουσιαν εχων και ουχ ως οι γραμματεις.

Christ preached with power because He authoritatively proclaimed the Word of God as Jehovah's great Prophet to His people (Deuteronomy 18:15-18).  If you want to preach with power, the way Christ did, then you should do the following:

1.) As a regenerate saint, strive after greater holiness by the grace of the Father through the Son by the Spirit, that you might be like Christ in all things.
2.) Take great pains to very carefully study the Word of God.
3.) Properly and with laborious study exegete the Word properly, trusting in the illumination of the Holy Spirit.
4.) Boldly and authoritatively apply that Word after you carefully unpack and exegete it to the minds and hearts of your congregation (or the lost, if you are preaching on the street, etc.)

We can see that a godly pastor who practices expository preaching, going verse-by-verse through Scripture and carefully applying it, should rejoice that he is able to preach with power--Divine authority--in this manner, and can expect the blessing of the Trinity on his preaching.  Hallelujah!

We can also see from Luke 4:32 and Matthew 7:28-29 that someone who thinks he is preaching with power because, while ripping a verse or two of God's holy Word out of context, he yells a lot, gives a lot of tear-jerking illustrations, walks around during his message, and gets many people to walk forward and kneel at the front of a church auditorium by manipulating them at an invitation is not preaching with power.

If you have thought that doing the latter was preaching with power rather than the former, you should repent now, because otherwise it will not be very good for you at the judgment seat of Christ when you find out that what you thought was power was actually wood, hay, and stubble.

If you have been preaching with power the way Christ did, be encouraged to continue very carefully expositing and applying the Word, and grow in your practice of these spiritual disciplines, that you might preach with greater power or authority the holy Word to the glory of the holy Trinity.

As an addendum, the Spirit illuminated the truth in this post to me while reading my Greek Textus Receptus. Consider taking the time to learn Greek well, that you might preach with more power.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

What About Special Music in the Church?

Sometimes at our church, our people will hear me (pastor) say, "When I say special music, I don't mean special like special education." If it is special like I mean it, then it should be special.

Last week, I made mention of a discussion or argument among certain evangelicals and fundamentalists (see here, here, and here) about the use of special music in churches versus congregational singing.  Perhaps sometime I'll do an entire series of posts on this, because I have very definite thoughts about the subject.  For now, however, I want to encourage "special" music.  If it is "special," it should be "special."

What is "special music"?  If a church is going to have it, the church should understand what it is first.  Special music is not something to "get your heart ready for the preaching," which is a thought not in or from the Bible.  Churches very often will sing congregational songs, and then right before the sermon, a person or small group will sing a special number, intended to prepare the hearts of the people for the preaching.

Also by special, churches mean music that is very good, so it will be attractive to visitors or guests.  You do your very, very special music for the purpose of luring visitors, because hearing this music will supposedly motivate them to come.  Even if it isn't the sole reason, the idea here is that you are attempting to blow away a guest, so that he'll want to return to the services, just for another opportunity to hear the music.  These churches surmise that great music is a motivating factor for visitors.

Sometimes using special music as an attraction is referred to as a "selling point" for a church.  The thought again is that the special music can be used when church members invite people they know to church.  They might not know exactly what to say, so they can say things like, "You'll really like how friendly it is, all of the programs our church has for young people, and you'll also really enjoy the special music -- our musicians are very talented, you should hear them."

It isn't unusual that special music is some kind of version of High School Musical. You've got your very musical crowd, who like to sing in small groups or a choir.  Your church needs special music, so these people can have something to do.  They can come to choir practice and it is a place to keep being in a choir after high school.  They like to harmonize and work on numbers, because they enjoy music.  It's another selling point for a church.  Parallel to this are the people who like to do something musically like karaoke, love the idea of singing, think they have a great voice, even if others don't, so that they want to be in a church choir as part of their musical ambition.  Churches will put choir on the website for the notice of these musical types of people, that many of you reading this will know.

I've read of a well-known Southern Baptist pastor, who once every year on a Sunday night service, had a special music night.  On that night, people who wanted to sing a special number would have their one opportunity, so that they could say that they had their one opportunity.  They could fulfill that yearning to sing in front of people, like an edition of Church's Got Talent.

None of the above are reasons for special music.  I love special music and I think that in addition to congregational singing, churches should strive do special music, but it, as I wrote before, ought to be special.  Psalm 48:1 says, "Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised."  God is so great that He deserves better praise than even the congregation should do.  Churches should work on special music so that God gets better, practiced, and skilled music.  Congregational music isn't necessarily skilled.  It has a lot of participation, but very often many unskilled participants.

Fifty-five of the psalms were delivered to the chief musician in Israel or it choir director.  Some of the psalms were for smaller groups than the whole congregation of Israel, including Psalm 48 itself, which was for "the sons of Korah."  There were eleven such psalms among the 150.  The choir is part of the music of Israel, so God ordained special music (see 1 Chronicles 15:16-24).  In 2 Chronicles 20:21, Jehoshaphat appointed special music to lead the army into battle, as a matter of faith in the Lord.

Some churches are not ready for special music because they don't have trained singers.  They don't have people who can sing well.  If a church is going to have special music, it should set a high standard, so it can do music very well for the Lord.  This might and probably will require paying for lessons, and doing a lot of practice under skilled leadership.  God wants to hear congregational praise, but He also wants to hear skilled praise (Ps 33:3).  God is so worth it, that churches should do their best to praise him in the most skilled, most beautiful, and special way, and that's the reason for special music in a church.

In our church, if we don't have something special ready for God, we don't do it.  We're not required to have a solo or small group every week.  We will sing when something is ready to sing, or we're missing the point of special music in the Bible.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Moving the Goal Posts on Christian Liberty

Where do Christians have liberty?  They have liberty on non-scriptural issues.  Where the Bible is silent, believers have the liberty to do what they want, but with certain guidelines.  Believers don't have liberty to disobey scripture (Romans 6:1).  If it is scriptural, they must do it, whatever scripture says to believe and do. They don't have liberty not to do it.  If it is unscriptural they must not do it and they don't have liberty to do it.  However, if it is non-scriptural, they have liberty within some parameters to do whatever they want.

In the New Testament, even if a practice is non-scriptural, it still must be limited or regulated to varying degrees by certain principles laid out in 1 Corinthians 6-11.  A believer might have liberty to practice something non-scriptural, but it also might not be advantageous or the best practice.  He should regulate his practice by that principle, prioritizing the best practice above a merely permitted one. Liberty is for glorifying God, not for gratifying self, even if it is lawful.  Believers don't have liberty to cause a weaker brother to stumble, even in a practice where they have liberty.

Evangelicals and fundamentalists among other professing Christians today have moved the goal posts on Christian liberty.  Here's how they do it.  Instead of having liberty only on non-scriptural issues, they say there is liberty in at least two other ways.  In saying so, they have expanded the meaning of Christian liberty in unscriptural ways.  They are taking liberty with liberties in ways they don't have liberty to do so.

First, many professing Christians now say they have liberty where the Bible isn't clear. More and more belief and practice has been shifted into the unclear category.  If a person doesn't want to do what the Bible says to do or wants to do what it doesn't say to do, he needs only to say that the teaching isn't clear.  If someone deems some scriptural teaching to be unclear, it becomes a liberty issue.  More is unclear in Christianity than ever and there is an ever growing list of liberties.

Second, many professing Christians now say they have liberty in areas that are unimportant or non-essential.  They are free not to believe or practice whatever teachings are unimportant or non-essential.  They can do what they want in those areas.  Only essentials or important teachings are necessary or required.  Everything else is a liberty.

Today, if a Christian judges another professing believer in an area that he deems unclear or unimportant, the one judging is the one in trouble.  Now very often a Christian does not have liberty to judge someone else in an area or issue of liberty, which happens to be where scripture is either unclear or unimportant or not essential.  That considered by many now to be unclear or not essential in the Bible is now also treated by many like it is non-scriptural.  They have moved the goalposts on Christian liberty.

New Christian liberties are really faithless disobedience to scripture.  These are means by which professing believer either use grace as an occasion to the flesh or they turn the grace of God into lasciviousness.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Two Posts of Interest in the Near Future

I didn't post this morning, because I have more going on then I normally do, that I'm forced to get done.  However, I really want to write on two issues of interest in the near future.  Both of them would take longer than I have right now. They are somewhat unrelated.

The first one is concerning a kerfuffle over special music in church that started when Mark Dever of 9 Marks, over at TGC, in promoting congregational singing somewhat put down special music in churches.  Then the FBFI through its blog, Proclaim and Defend, pushed back against what Dever said.  I have very specific thoughts about special music in church and I want to write about it.

The second one relates to a post that Roger Olson, renowned Arminian very loose evangelical, wrote at Patheos about the definition of fundamentalism.  I want to speak to his definition and what I think of it.

I'm not sure when I'll get to it, because Thomas Ross posts on Friday, and I'm not sure I want something standing for less than a day before he posts.  Stay tuned.


In many instances, if one finds something on the internet, the polite, good mannered thing to do is to give a "hat tip," like what a professional baseball player does to the crowd after he hits a home run. No one asked me to do this, but I give an ht (hat tip) to SharperIron and its moderators, because I was led to the two above articles by looking over at SharperIron.

Along the same line, I was happy that Tyler Robbins emailed me with the following link at Banner of Truth, arguing for door-to-door evangelism. He thought I'd like it, and I do.  I think they could do better in their presentation of how to start with someone at a door, but what they do offer is much, much better than nothing.

Since I'm talking about articles now, I may as well give an ht to Dave Mallinack, because he sent me to an article against pragmatism by Steve Damron at the Fairhaven Fundamentalist (you'll have to go to p. 8, the format doesn't do that automatically, so keep pushing the right arrow button until you arrive).   Some of you might say, it's not that great an article and isn't Fairhaven pragmatic?  OK.  Even though it has some interesting and worthwhile content, it isn't what or how exactly how I would have written it, but I was happy he wrote it.  It means a lot, and I think people should be happy to read it, and support the thoughts overall he writes therein.