Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Signs of the Times

In a shocking article on Yahoo News it is reported that a man allegedly faked sign language at a Nelson Mandela memorial !  First of all, if this is true, it is a disgrace.

Of course, those who know sign language well could easily identify a fake.  This got me thinking, can the people in evangelical churches today identify a fake in the pulpit just as easily.  A pastor either preaches from the text of scripture or he does not.  People regularly say to me, "there are just so many different interpretations."  However, the Bible is very clear about the Bible being clear (Ps 19:8; 2 Tim. 2:15; 2 Tim 3:16).  It is up to both preacher and listener to study and make sure that they are getting God's word right!

Let us be noble Bereans and recognize fakes when we see them.

Acts 17:11

English Standard Version (ESV)
11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Designer Babies vs. The Designer Baby

The Huffington Post reports that "23 and Me" was awarded a patent for at at home DNA kit called "gamete donor selection."  These would "enable prospective parents to handpick a sperm or egg donor with whom they would be likely to produce a child born with certain traits that they desire."

The idea of doing this is not entirely new, but the fact that a company has a patent for something like this is.

This got me to think this morning.  How should Christians think about this.  How should we confront this in our culture.  We should certainly actively oppose all actions which endanger human life which begins at conception (Psalm 139:13-16).  But I think we also need to confront the
larger heart issues behind all of this.  

This issue is embracing our role as "receivers."

Life is a gift from God (Psalm 127).  We receive it from His hand.  The Bible often speaks of God "opening the womb" or "closing the womb."  So then when God grants conception and eventually birth those are given these gifts are in a place to receive them from God's hands.  These children then are meant to be a stewardship entrusted by God to the recipients for a period of time.  Psalm 78:1-8 tells Christians that our job during this time is to rehearse God's truth and faith in Him to them in word and deed so that they become those who hope in God.  

Too often even believers are tempted to have a "designer" plan for our children.  We need to be those who receive our children as a gift from God.  We accept their strengths and their weaknesses.  We do not try to shape them into our image but we point to the image of God with in them.  We are not shapers of their destiny, but stewards of God's design.  We receive His design for them in His Word.   

The world needs to see believers once again embracing children as gift from God and embracing the stewardship of pointing them to Christ and His will and not to us an our will.  Then Christians need to help the world see that they are wrong to try to play God in the conception of children and also in their upbringing.  

The gospel teaches us that we are all flawed from birth and in need of the salvation from the only one who was not flawed from birth:  Jesus Christ (Romans 5).  

Rather than seeking inherent perfection which is impossible in the stream of human genetics, we ought to accept our condition and seek perfection in an alien form:  through the righteousness of Jesus.  

He died to take away or sin and to make us righteous in Him.  

So then we as sinners and cursed by sin can accept children who are sinners and cursed by sin and together we can seek hope in the only perfect designer baby:  Jesus.  

Thus we must, most importantly, be receivers of this ultimate gift forgiveness, life and perfection in Him. 

Galatians 4:4–5 (NASB95)
 But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law,
 so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.  

Friday, October 25, 2013

Strange Response To Strange Fire

I hope that if you are a true Evangelical Christian (bible believing, gospel embracing, evangelistic), you have not slept through the Strange Fire Conference.  The issues raised are far too important to miss.

I believe that this conference was very needful, very biblical, and very balanced.  John MacArthur and the others speakers sets their sights on calling out the radical abuses found in the charismatic movement.

Leading up to the conference and throughout the conference they were careful to say that they know that there a number of true evangelical believers who love the Lord and are seeking to honor His word within the charismatic movement.  These they gladly referred to as brothers and friends.  These were not blasted as heretics, but encouraged as friends to join in the greater cause of denouncing serious heresy.

What I find strange and disturbing is that these friends and others have taken great offense at the conference.  I think if they listen carefully they would agree with a good majority of what was said.  However, I have seen very few within the charismatic movement that are willing to say anything positive about the conference.  They may also be challenged by the bit that they won't agree with.

The greatest offense has been taken about the statements regarding the charismatic movement as a whole.  The speakers, having made the concessions above, continually pointed out that much of the movement is not driven from the true work of the Holy Spirit and dishonors Christ and His word.

Following the conference Mike Brown in an interview with Phil Johnson took great issue with what he called "broad brush" statements indicating that charismatics are may not believers and have offered nothing to the church.  Sam Storms and Adrian Warnock also seconded the same offense in their follow up interview with Mike Brown.  These statements were not reflective of the conference.  As mentioned above careful nuances were given and clarifications made through out.

My questions are these:

1.)  If much heresy was pointed out and refuted from scriptures (which is the case), why do charismatic brothers who love the Word and see the same problems not stand with MacArthur and the conference speakers on these things and affirm the rebukes that are given?

2.) If the statistics are true that 90% of the charismatic movement is dominated by the prosperity gospel, why are biblically driven charismatics unwilling to acknowledge this and take a closer look to see where some foundational issues must be wrong within the movement?

These statistics are easy to find:

More than 25% of Christians claim to be charismatic worldwide.  This accounts for 500 million people (Christian Post; Pew Forum).

As high as 90% of these seem to affirm the prosperity gospel (Pew ForumCripplegate).

I second the call to our charismatic brothers such as John Piper, Wayne Grudem, Sam Storms, Mark Driscoll and others to be willing to at least take an honest look at these things.

To you and to all others I challenge you to really consider the talks presented at the conference with a biblically discerning open mind.

Let us have a discussion based on fact and not on sound bites and assumptions.

See the sessions here: Strange Fire.

Get the book here: GTY: Strange Fire. 

See a summary of the sessions here Tim Challies.

See transcripts of the sessions here: Cripplegate Blog.  

Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Sola Christus, Soli Deo Gloria

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Homosexuality Isn't the Problem, Love Is

As Albert Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville Kentucky, has recently stated in his political commentary we have seen a "seismic shift" in our nation's acceptance of the concept of gay marriage.   But as I think about this I realize that the background for this shift has been in play for a long time.

The shift began in America when our nation lost the understanding of what real love is.  Real love is a decision of the will that leads to benefitting others by righteous attitudes, thoughts, actions and words in view of their best good for eternity.  Societies that are rooted in a Judeo-Christian ethic have a sense of this.  However, our culture believes that love is a matter of intense emotion or feeling. Certainly emotions and feelings are involved in love, but true love is really decision and action surrounded by and followed by emotion.

The Bible defines love for us this way:  1 John 3:16 (NASB95) 16 We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.  

This is speaking of Jesus, the Son of God, who freely offered Himself up in the place of sinners on the cross.  Jesus chose to love us by sacrificing Himself for us.  Certainly there was emotion and feeling in that choice, but the emotion and feeling was not about being irresistibly drawn to us.  Instead it was about His desire for what He would do in us and who He would make us for all eternity.  In other words His decision to love with ultimate love was driven by a pure desire to bless us and bring us into His joy for the glory of God.  

This love, then, had to be thoughtful, pure, righteous, and good.  This is what has been lost in our understanding of love.  Today most people think of love as something that you fall into and sometimes fall out of.  We think of it as an intense feeling or emotion that overtakes us.  We are overwhelmed by it and can't control it.  No doubt these kinds of feelings do come over us at times.  But most of what is considered love is actually just lust or "like."  

Lust or "like" are not a good moral bases for what is thought to be love.  Because of this misunderstanding, people use and abuse each other all over the place in the name of love.  Teenagers hop from one relationship to another leaving a path of carnage and stolen purity in their wake.  Heterosexual adults sleep around and, driven by lust and "like", use one another based on shear emotion getting what they can from the other person.  Homosexuals also, believing that the passion that they have for the same sex gives them the right to pervert God's design, use one another for gratification in that way.  In all of this there is no decision of the will to benefit another by righteous thoughts attitudes actions and words in view of eternity, but instead theirs is a self love that says I must have what I must have now and you must give it to me.  

But what makes righteous love, righteous love?  It is the fact that it was created by a righteous God.  he designed love.  He designed that people be made in His image to know Him, to love Him and to serve Him.  He loved them by giving them all that they needed and allowing them to walk in fellowship with Him and behold His beauty and glory.  He also designed marriage.  In the garden the woman was given to the man and the two were to be one flesh.  They were to be joined together in such a way that they complemented one another.    From this union they were to multiply by procreation and fill the earth with people who loved God and loved one another.  When mankind rebelled against His creator and decided to be His own God, pure love was lost.  Ever since that time our natural setting is self love.  Self love says, "If I feel this way, then it must be right and I must be fulfilled."  All of us are permeated by this problem known biblically as "sin."  I am naturally drawn to prefer myself and that includes how I view love and sexuality.  It is true that homosexuality does not bring blessing but trouble to children, culture or society, but neither does fornication, adultery or any other kind of sexual sin.  Our culture thinks that if it is natural it is good, but not so when nature is fallen.  

The good news is that Christ came to restore what was lost.  In Christ we see pure love and glory.  

John 1:14 (NASB95)14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Jesus was the first human being since Adam and Eve fell who finally displayed what real love looks like.  He was a perfect reflection of God in human form.  So when we look at Jesus Christ and how he treated God the Father and how he treated others, recorded in the New Testament, we are seeing pure love.  Then He died in our place on the cross.  This was God's great demonstration of love to us unworthy sinners.

Romans 5:8 (NASB95)
8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  

The Bible says that everyone who turns to Him in faith is transferred from the Kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of His beloved Son and they are bought back out of slavery to selfishness and their sins are forgiven.

Colossians 1:13–14 (NASB95)
13 For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,
14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.  

For all those who know Christ He has put His Spirit within us so that we can be restored to love as we were made to love!  

Romans 5:5b (NASB95)
... the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

So in this day where the world has turned upside down as it relates to marriage, we must remember that homosexuality is not the problem, love is.  We sinners need to be restored from selfish autonomy to loving worship of the One true and living God through His Son, Jesus Christ.  We need to be re-calibrated to love with His love.  To love Him and to love others.

1 John 4:7 (NASB95)
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Matthew 5:13-16 "You Are Salt And Light"

In this sermon we are challenged by the fact that every Christian has been placed in the world to be salt and light.  We explore what this means and how we out to impact the world.  

Matthew_5.13-16_You_are_Salt_and_Light.MP3 Listen on Posterous

Colossians 3:12 Chosen By God

In this sermon we give an overview of the doctrine of election or the truth that God chooses people for salvation.  

Colossians_1.12_Chosen_by_God.MP3 Listen on Posterous

Monday, November 19, 2012

Matthew 5:10-12 "The Secret to Happiness: Congratulations, You are Persecuted!"

In this sermon we see that all believers will be persecuted and all believers should see it as a great privelege because Christ is worth it!

R09_0003.MP3 Listen on Posterous

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Matthew 5:8 "The Secret to Happiness: Congratulations, You are Pure in Heart!"

You want to see something really scary?  The human heart apart from Christ!  In this sermon we discuss the massive problem that only those with a pure heart will see God.  How can you have a pure heart?  Have a listen!

10.28.12_Matthew_5.8_The_Secret_to_Happiness-_Congratulations_You_Are_Pure_in_Heart.MP3 Listen on Posterous