Wine or Grape Juice?

Our pastor preached on Colossians 2:16-17.

“Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.”

One of the the things that occurred to me when he was preaching is that there are so many who have never heard a biblical view of alcohol.

(Scroll over the following verses and they’ll pop up automatically)

Luke 22:18, 7:34

Gen. 14:18

1 Timothy 5:23

Deut. 14:22-26

Ps. 104:14-15

Pr. 31:6

Of course there are strict warnings against drunkenness (Eph. 5:18 and others), but these passages do not teach that alcohol is strictly forbidden. After all….what did Jesus say to take in remembrance of Him?

Hint: It wasn’t grape juice.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Back in the States

For the last few years I felt alone in our association of churches as I stood against the false teaching that was creeping in. I strongly hold to the inerrancy and the sufficiency of Scripture. No doubt, the greatest danger is from within “the church” and not from without.

Who is more dangerous to the children of God? The Dalai Lama or Rick Warren? Rosie O’Donnell or Joel Osteen? Bernie Sanders or Bethel Redding?

I was deeply troubled after hearing from those who stood in the same pulpit I did that it didn’t matter if Jonah was a true historical account and that Adam and Eve may not have been real historical figures, that females could occupy the role of an elder, that Paul’s pastoral letters are not for all churches, etc.

Instead of joining another church and taking another ministry position in Southeast Asia, we moved back to America for numerous reasons. We’re now in a Bible-teaching Confessional church and I can say with so many others that it is one of the greatest blessings to be in a room with people on the Lord’s Day who believe the same way you do. One church member drives 90 miles to attend and they come to the prayer meetings on Wednesday as well. They too say it is SO worth it. If I were to die suddenly, these are the people I’d want to surround my family.

God has given me a job in which I may put in lots of hours and I’m so thankful for that. I am no longer dependent on support so I have taken down the “GIVE” link. There are pastors who need the money more than I.

We’re thankful for the years in Asia and the growth that took place during that time. We’re looking forward to sharing His Truth with many in this new area we’ve chosen to move to.

 

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Tongues for Everyone?

Robert Morris (the same man who says things like, “Your marriage is failing and your child is dying of cancer because you’re not tithing.”) says all believers can pray in tongues. Skip to 48 minutes in this program.

“Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues?” 1 Cor. 12:29-30

No.

The answer, is “No”.

What I sure don’t want to see is a new believer feeling a sense of guilt because he/she isn’t praying in tongues – all due to some false teaching he/she has heard which contradicts the Word. The sad reality is that there are many immature believers out there who are burdened with this teaching.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Missionaries Should be “Immersed” in Church

“All missionaries should be sons from the womb of the church sent as messengers of the church to establish and strengthen the church.  Evangelism of an individual has not been effectively completed until he is integrated into the life of the church.  Missionaries then must be familiar with and appreciative of the worship of the church, the fellowship of the church, the doctrine of the church, and the government of the church.

Too many individuals and activists have had a “better idea” than the church.  With disparaging remarks about the weaknesses, failures, and inefficiencies of the church, movements are begun “beside” the church.  Claims are made that such persons or agencies are working “alongside” the church, stressing that their efforts are “parallel” to and “supportive” of the church.  However, that which is “alongside” is still “outside” the church.  How zealous and self-promoting are such “para”-church organizations.  Para-church works can only justify their existence by criticism of the church.  How different this is from our Lord’s concept of missions and evangelism which builds up the church.

It is a strange phenomenon that para-church organizations, whose reason for existence is the failure of the church and their superior ability to carry out the tasks Christ gave to the church, cannot continue in existence without taking men and money from the church.  Those who are saying, “We can do what you cannot,” are constantly appealing to the church to give them their best men and support them with gifts.  In this way, those who criticize the church further sap her strength.  Even so, para-church groups find the “weak” church’s resources sufficient to keep them from demise.

Our Savior’s concept was one of church-centered ministry and missions.”

-Walter J. Chantry        full article here

See also: Love The Church, A Biblical Case for Church Membership & The Blessing of Church Membership

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Western Imperialism & Foreign Missions

A mindset that is all too-common regarding foreign missions is, “We’re going to do this our way, regardless of what the locals want or need.”

This mindset is evidenced in many ways. Sometimes a youth group will want to build a fence when the locals don’t need a fence. The locals may even tear it down after the Americans leave! Sometimes the Americans will bring in Bibles when the same amount of Bibles may be printed locally for the cost of a single plane ticket or cheaper! (there are some places that are in need of Bibles but it is best to ask the locals what is the most efficient way of supplying them with God’s Word)

Another thing that comes up with this way of doing missions is that it often stirs up discontent among the locals. Those who know “the Americans” often get wealthy and the Christian message is lost immediately. The gospel is switched out for a health & wealth false gospel.

Let’s say you have someone that hosts western teams and tells them what they want to hear. The Westerners think they’re doing great work by “supporting” this particular ministry. They give gifts to the ministry (but those gifts are given to family members and not used for ministry at all). The locals see the accumulation of wealth and ask how this ministry leader  has acquired such wealth. The answer given to them (yes, this really happens) is “God blessed my faithfulness by giving me these things.” The church members wonder why God hasn’t blessed their faithfulness with material blessings. They obviously are not doing enough. The church member is asked, “Did you pray? God answered my prayer.” And so the church member is left questioning their obedience to God and also thinking that more time in prayer will equal more material possessions. All the while the gospel is lost and the Americans think they’re supporting a move of God.

There are many ways the scenario above may be avoided. I only wish it wasn’t so common.

The best scenario is that the minister who functions in a way described above is reading someone else’s mail. That is to say that they are taking Old Covenant promises and applying them to the New Covenant community, among other obvious problems. Notice how the name-it-and-claim-it (positive confession) health & wealth preachers cherry pick their verses in the OT. Such teaching cannot be substantiated using the NT.

The worst scenario is that what I’ve just described is a 2 Timothy 3:1-9 & 2 Peter 2:1-3 situation. See also the book of Jude.

Another thing that could be mentioned is the change in the locals when they see that the more a Christian works with foreigners, the wealthier they become. The locals are tempted to do “ministry” as a job, instead of a service, so that their family may be taken care of. It has to be much easier than farming, right? Why go through such hard labor and barely make it when you can entertain foreigners and live large? Just stand up, make a lot of people laugh, and tell stories with a verse thrown in here and there. Anyone can do THAT.

I believe that biblically functioning pastors (those who rightly handle the Word of God and teach and preach it) should be supported and supported well. What I don’t believe is that the income of the pastor should be far far higher than those who he ministers to.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Love The Church

I was with a Christian man and he asked me, “What is your vision?” I thought for some time and thoughts flashed through my mind of future goals – finish school, plant a church in a nearby city where there is such a small Christian presence, etc. After thinking for a little bit I told him, “I just want to be righteous.”

He told me that his vision was to plant a church. I asked him what his pastor or pastors thought about that. He then told me that he doesn’t have any pastors or have a home church. Sadly, such a view is common today.

Why You Should Join A Church

Which Church Should You Join?

Church Attendance: Is It Important?

A further note: Many people have been hurt in church or hurt by people who call themselves Christians. God wants us to move past these times of pain and love the church. Jesus does. We sin against God every day and He doesn’t say, “I’m done with you!” No, our sin against God is far worse than anyone else’s sin against us and we should model God’s actions towards us.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Confessionalism

Why Christians Need Confessions by Carl Trueman is a great article. It lists 7 reasons churches should use creeds & confessions.

Chapter 1 from his book The Creedal Imperative titled The Cultural Case Against Creeds And Confessions  may be read by clicking on the link.

Carl Trueman holds to the Westminster Confession of Faith whereas I believe that The Sola 5 Confession of Faith and the 1689 LBC are more accurate summaries of Biblical truth but even with our differences I recognize him as a great gift to the body of Christ today.

Why is there resistance to confessional Christianity?

From R.C. Sproul Jr:

What is their concern? Well, they will tell me, “I think we should just be Christians.” They will take the position that taking on a name is akin to the sin of the saints in Corinth some of whom said, “I am of Apollos,” some of whom said, “I am of Paul,” and some said, “I am of Peter” claiming that we are doing essentially the same thing.

He shares more in the 7 minute podcast here:

 

Voddie Baucham says that confessions unite believers, distinguish us from Rome, distinguish Protestants from each other, have origins in the N.T. (2 Tim. 2:2 – confessions summarize teaching and pass it on), and are essential disciple-making tools (2 Tim. 1:13-14 – an allusion to confessionalism, 2 Tim. 3:14 – confessions of faith). That’s quite the list!

He also says a confession provides standardized content, it functions as a mini-systematic theology, it fills in the gaps, and it is useful for catechism.

Ever heard, “No creed but the Bible!”?

You may want to read The Legitimacy and Use of Confessions of Faith.

 

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Is Such-And-Such A God-Thing?

Can we know if such-and-such a movement is from God or if so-and-so is speaking truth? Scripture is sufficient. Here is what God says through the Apostle John.

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:1-8

Jonathan Edwards spoke on this passage and John MacArthur wrote about it in chapters 3 & 4 of his “Strange Fire” book (which was better than the Strange Fire conference). He says that we may use the following questions which are drawn from the passage above to test something to see if it is from God.

  1. Does the work exalt the true Christ?
  2. Does it oppose worldliness?
  3. Does it point people to the Scriptures?
  4. Does it elevate truth?
  5. Does it produce love for God and others?

Mike Abendroth’s 3 S’s may also be useful:

  1. Source – Where do they get their information?
  2. Savior – Is their Jesus the Jesus of the Bible?
  3. Salvation – Does their teaching on salvation line up with what the Bible says?

In speaking of major and minor doctrines (major being those that impact the way we live our lives and view God in a major way) we need to be careful not to give the impression that some parts of scripture are important and others aren’t. An example of this may be the subject of church government. How a church is governed (single-elder congregationalism/ plural-elder congregationalism/ presbyterianism/ etc) may not directly affect the gospel but what the Bible says about church polity remains very important!

James White often speaks about the “Mere Christianity Movement”. This popular movement is ecumenical and seeks to push aside any teaching and minimize any text that speaks on anything besides the gospel message. The fact is that scripture is able to equip “for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17) including answering the question, “How should God’s church be governed?” (to stick with my example).

If a teaching touches on the subject of how we are right in God’s sight (justification) then it is a gospel-issue. Someone may teach something falsely and not be regarded as a false-teacher but if they say you NEED TO believe such-and-such (with such-and-such being something not found anywhere in the Bible) IN ORDER TO GO TO HEAVEN then they are adding to the gospel such as the Judaizers and Galatians 1:8-9 would appropriately apply to them. Galatians 5:12

 

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Going To Work

Lester (or Vester) Lee Flanagan went by the name “Bryce Williams” when he was on TV. He shot a reporter and a cameraman on live TV earlier this year. Maybe he was influenced by this video. As the world shares the message of hate lets share the message of love.

Tomorrow is not promised (James 4:13-16) and our flesh is like grass (Isaiah 40:6-8). I was surprised recently to find out what was going on in the life of someone I know. We cannot assume anything. There is no shortcut. We must love people enough to get involved in their lives and to share the gospel with them and bear their burdens as well (Galatians 6:2). We’re not saved by our good works but FOR good works (Ephesians 2:8-10) so lets get busy! There is work to do. – For His glory!

 

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Preachers or Witch Doctors?

I have heard multiple people describe the landscape of Christianity in Africa. Each time I hear it described, I think of Southeast Asia.

 

The following message comes from Pastor Conrad Mbewe. He lives in Lusaka, Zambia. His blog can be found here. Notable posts found here and here.

While Charismatic teaching may in many cases open the door (or function as a gateway drug) to the Word of Faith heresy (consisting of positive confession, a different definition of the atonement, little gods doctrine, and more) we must be careful to distinguish between the two. Wayne Grudem and Robert Tilton are worlds apart.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Kong Hee

There has been big news coming out of Singapore.

Fox News – “Kong Hee, the founder and senior pastor of City Harvest Church, was found guilty Wednesday with five other church leaders of stealing 24 million Singapore dollars ($17 million) designated for building and investment-related purposes through sham bond investments. The State Court also found that they used another 25 million dollars ($18 million) to hide the first embezzlement from auditors.” Full article HERE.

More information here & here.

Kong Hee, who preaches that Jesus was rich and we should be also, has funneled $35 million of designated funds into his wife’s music career and has been found guilty of seeking to cover up his actions.

I’m so thankful he was found guilty. The more these kind of things happen, the harder it is to share the gospel with people because they’ll use them as excuses for their unbelief.

Christians in Singapore are reacting. Some are saddened. But others are thankful because now the gospel can shine brighter than before. I just heard this sermon from a pastor in Singapore pointing the people of God to the gospel after the Kong Hee trial. Have a listen. It is so pastoral and edifying.

From Gospel Light Christian Church, Dr. Paul Choo: The Prosperity Gospel

“He is a God who cares for me from head to toe….I can lose my wallet. I cannot lose Him.”

-Dr. Paul Choo

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS