Thursday, December 14, 2006

Can the Church Close the Back Door? Part 1 of 2

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—While a great deal of effort is made by churches and denominations to attract new church members, LifeWay Research’s newest study surveys the “formerly churched” to better understand why people leave.
In the summer of 2006, the research arm of LifeWay Christian Resources conducted a survey of 469 “formerly churched adults” – those who regularly attended a Protestant church as an adult in the past but who no longer do so. The objective of the survey was to better understand why people stop attending church – and what it would take to bring them back.

The results indicate that, while some losses may be inevitable, opportunities abound for churches to hold on to members who are headed for the door.

For full article click here.

Young Adults Are Finding Church Irrelevant

Today's 18-34 year old adults are falling away from church and finding it irrelevant in their lives, according to a recent study conducted by LifeWay. Find out what young adults are looking for and what they're running from by reading the full story.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Jesus Is Better Than Anything

Jesus trumps them all! Jesus is better than Moses, He is better than the angels, better than you and anything in this world today. As believers we have to keep that prospective as we walk in this world. The Word of God is clear that Jesus Christ is the best! This may sound elementary to some, but many churches and yes I said churches are lifting angels and other things higher than Christ; clearly wrong and sinful!

What about Christmas coming up soon with all it pagan traditions. Even some Christians are lifting up Christmas trees, lights, foods, and such features of the holiday season higher than Christ. Now don't misunderstand me, I am not suggesting that it is wrong to be involved in these things as Christians, we just have to remember to not put them above Christ. Christmas is a day in which we celebrate the baby Jesus coming into the world to save mankind from sin and soon to die as a propitiation for the sins of the world. Will you keep the proper focus with me today?

John MacArthur's devotion for today speaks on this issue and I wanted to share it with you.

Click here for devotion

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Continue Witnessing Till Jesus Comes

Many people automatically think that because a person calls themself a 5-point Calvinist that he or she does not witness or believe in evangelism. Brothers a mindset like that is nothing more than sin and needs to be repented of quickly. Let us be reminded of the importance of evangelism from the great words of CH Spurgeon from his devotion for last Sun.

"I have much people in this city."Acts 18:10

This should be a great encouragement to try to do good, since God has among the vilest of the vile, the most reprobate, the most debauched and drunken, an elect people who must be saved. When you take the Word to them, you do so because God has ordained you to be the messenger of life to their souls, and they must receive it, for so the decree of predestination runs. They are as much redeemed by blood as the saints before the eternal throne. They are Christ's property, and yet perhaps they are lovers of the ale-house, and haters of holiness; but if Jesus Christ purchased them He will have them. God is not unfaithful to forget the price which His Son has paid. He will not suffer His substitution to be in any case an ineffectual, dead thing. Tens of thousands of redeemed ones are not regenerated yet, but regenerated they must be; and this is our comfort when we go forth to them with the quickening Word of God.
Nay, more, these ungodly ones are prayed for by Christ before the throne. "Neither pray I for these alone," saith the great Intercessor, "but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word." Poor, ignorant souls, they know nothing about prayer for themselves, but Jesus prays for them. Their names are on His breastplate, and ere long they must bow their stubborn knee, breathing the penitential sigh before the throne of grace. "The time of figs is not yet." The predestinated moment has not struck; but, when it comes, they shall obey, for God will have His own; they must, for the Spirit is not to be withstood when He cometh forth with fulness of power--they must become the willing servants of the living God. "My people shall be willing in the day of my power." "He shall justify many." "He shall see of the travail of His soul." "I will divide him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong."

Sunday, December 3, 2006

A Plea For Theological Responsibility And Integrity

A Plea For Theological Responsibility And Integrity

In recent days it has become painfully evident that many Southern Baptists do not “do theology” very well. Some are apparently ill informed and sloppy. Others trying to be cute, are bombastic and irresponsible. Despite our rhetoric to be “people of the Book”, we do not know the Book very well. We do not grasp its rich theology. We are failing, and failing miserably, to obey 2 Timothy 2:15-16: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed, correctly teaching the word of truth. But avoid irreverent, empty speech, for this will produce an even greater measure of godlessness.”

I want our students to do better. I want you to do theology well. I want you to be clear and careful thinkers, gracious and competent teachers. I want you to be able to articulate a biblically balanced theology with conviction as well as charity. I want our Lord to give you the wisdom of knowing which theological hills are worth dying on, and which ones brothers and sisters in Christ can agreeably disagree, and yet love each other and work with each other in building the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ and reaching the nations with the gospel.

If you are wondering what are some of the careless theological statements I have in mind that has moved me to put this challenge before you, let me note just a few that I have heard coming from a number of different directions.

1) You cannot attract a crowd and build a church on expository preaching.
It is true you can build a crowd without biblical exposition, but you will never build a Christ-honoring New Testament Church without faithful exposition of the whole counsel of God’s inerrant Word. Further, a number of churches in our Convention have built both a growing church in terms of breadth and depth. It does not have to be an either/or scenario.

2) Evangelical Calvinism is an oxymoron.
Anyone who knows church and Baptist history knows how irresponsible this statement is. William Carey, Luther Rice, Adoniram Judson, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitfield, Charles Spurgeon, James Boyce, Basil Manly Jr., and John Broadus are just a few of the great missionaries, pastors, and theologians who embraced a Reformed Theology. You may be convinced that Calvinism is wrong. However, do not make yourself look foolish by saying there are no passionate, evangelical Calvinists.

3) Five-point Calvinism is the same as Hyper-Calvinism.
This statement again demonstrates historical ignorance. Hyper-Calvinism is a particular movement that appeared in the mid 1700’s that rejects the mandate to share the gospel, denies man’s responsibility to repent and believe the gospel, and in some instances runs perilously close to making God the author of sin. The overwhelming majority of five-point Calvinists would reject each of these positions. Spurgeon, himself a five-point Calvinist denounced in the strongest measure these errors in Spurgeon and “hyper-Calvinism.”

Now, those of you who know my theology know I am not a five-point Calvinist. I believe Unconditional Election is not incompatible with “the free will and responsibility of intelligent creatures” (Abstract of Principles, art. IV), I affirm a Universal Provision with a Limited Application as it pertains to the Atonement, and I believe Effectual Calling to be a much better way to describe a significant aspect of the salvation process than Irresistible Grace. Further, anything that weakens the missionary passion of the church and the evangelistic favor of an individual is both dangerous and useless to the Church. Perhaps what some mean by “hyper-Calvinism” is extreme Calvinism or Calvinists with an attitude. I have met more than a few in my lifetime and to be sure, they were not of much value when it comes to the health of the church and reaching the lost. Still, we need to be honest with history and accurate with the facts. Mischaracterizations are of no value on any level.

4) Calvinists are worse than Muslims.
The irresponsibility of this statement is tragic. It is one thing to disagree with your brothers and sisters in Christ on a point of theology. It is incredible that you would place them in the category of unbelieving militants who murder innocent victims in the name of Allah.

5) Jesus was a Calvinist.
Theological foolishness is not limited to one theological perspective. In a Pastor’s Conference a few years ago one of my pulpit heroes made this statement. Recently a friend of mine wrote a book with one of the chapters entitled, "Christ, The Calvinist.” Such statements are wrongheaded, and yes, again irresponsible, at several points. First, the statement is historically chronistic. Second, it is Christologically disrespectful. Jesus is the Lord. He is the King. He is God. Our Savior is the grand subject of Christian theology. So whether it is Whitefield, Boice (men I greatly love and admire), or whomever, to call Jesus a Calvinist is theologically misguided and pastorally dangerous. Yes, Jesus believes God is sovereign but He also taught man is responsible. Yes, Jesus taught, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (John 6:44), but He also gave us the Great Commission (Matt 28:16-20).

6) You cannot teach your young people theology.
I have a simple and direct challenge: try it. Try it and see what happens. I suspect you will be wonderfully surprised. I suspect some of you will be significantly put to the test!

Though I could say much more let me conclude with a simple but helpful beatitude: “Blessed are the balanced, for they will avoid unhealthy extremes.” This is true in doing theology. This is true in our speech. This is true for all aspects of the Christian life.

I love you and thank God for you. May you and your family have a wonderful and blessed Christmas.

Daniel L. Akin

Friday, December 1, 2006

What Does Predestination do to the Task of Evangelism?

This question raises grave concerns about the mission of the Church. It is particularly weighty for evangelical Christians. If personal salvation is decided in advance by an immutable divine decree, what is the sense or urgency of the work of evangelism?
I will never forget the terrifying experience of being quizzed on this point by Dr. John Gerstner in a seminary class. There were about twenty of us seated in a semicircle in the classroom. He posed the question: “All right, gentlemen, if God has sovereignly decreed election and reprobation from all eternity, why should we be concerned about evangelism?” I breathed a sigh of relief when Gerstner started his interrogation on the left end of the semicircle since I was sitting in the last seat on the right. I took comfort in the hope that the question would never get around to me.
The comfort was short-lived. The first student replied to Gerstner’s query, “I don’t know, sir. That question has always plagued me.” The second student said, “It beats me.” The third just shook his head and dropped his gaze toward the floor. In rapid succession the students all passed on the question. The dominoes were falling in my direction.
“Well, Mr. Sproul, how would you answer?” I wanted to vanish into thin air or find a hiding place in the floorboards, but there was no escape. I stammered and muttered a reply. Dr. Gerstner said, “Speak up!” In tentative words I said, “Well, Dr. Gerstner, I know this isn’t the answer you are looking for, but one small reason we should still be concerned about evangelism is that, well, uh, you know, after all, Christ does command us to do evangelism.”
Gerstner’s eyes started to flame. He said, “Ah, I see, Mr. Sproul, one small reason is that your Savior, the Lord of Glory, the King of kings has so commanded it. A small reason, Mr. Sproul? Is it barely significant to you that the same sovereign God who sovereignly decrees your election also sovereignly commands your involvement in the task of evangelism?” Oh how I wished I’d never used the word small. I got Gerstner’s point.
Evangelism is our duty. God has commanded it. That should be enough to end the matter. But there is more. Evangelism is not only a duty; it is also a privilege. God allows us to participate in the greatest work in human history, the work of redemption. Hear what Paul says about it. He adds a chapter 10 to his famous chapter 9 of Romans:
For “whoever calls upon the name of the LORD shall be saved.” How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:13-15).
We notice the logic of Paul’s progression here. He lists a series of necessary conditions for people to be saved. Without sending there are no preachers. Without preachers there is no preaching. Without preaching there is no hearing of the gospel. Without the hearing of the gospel there is no believing of the gospel. Without the believing of the gospel there is no calling upon God to be saved. Without the calling upon God to be saved there is no salvation.
God not only foreordains the end of salvation for the elect, he also foreordained the means to that end. God has chosen the foolishness of preaching as the means to accomplish redemption. I suppose he could have worked out his divine purpose without us. He could publish the gospel in the clouds using his holy finger in skywriting. He could preach the gospel himself, in his own voice, shouting it from heaven. But that is not his choice.
It is a marvelous privilege to be used by God in the plan of redemption. Paul appeals to an Old Testament passage when he speaks of the beauty of the feet of those who bring good tidings and publish peace.
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tiding of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Your watchmen shall lift up their voices, with their voices they shall sing together; for they shall see eye to eye when the LORD brings back Zion.
Break forth into joy, sing together, you waste places of Jerusalem! For the LORD has comforted His people, He has redeemed Jerusalem (Isaiah 52:7-9).
In the ancient world, news of battles and other crucial events was carried by runners. The modern marathon race is named after the Battle of Marathon because of the endurance of the messenger who carried the news of the outcome home to his people.
Lookouts were posted to watch for the approaching messengers. Their eyes were sharp and trained to the subtle nuances of the strides of the approaching runners. Those bearing bad news approached with heavy feet. Those runners bearing good news approached swiftly, with feet sprinting through the dust. Their strides revealed their excitement. For the watchmen the sight of a runner approaching rapidly in the distance with his feet skimming over the mountain was a gorgeous vision to behold.
So the Bible speaks of the beauty of the feet of those who bring us good news. When my daughter was born and the doctor came to the waiting room to announce it, I wanted to hug him. We are favorably inclined to those who bring us good tidings. I will always have a special place in my affections for the man who first told me of Christ. I know that it was God who saved me and not that man, but I still appreciate the man’s role in my salvation.
To lead people to Christ is one of the greatest personal blessings that we ever enjoy. To be a Calvinist takes no joy away from that experience. Historically, Calvinists have been strongly active in evangelism and world mission. We need only point to Edwards and Whitefield and the Great Awakening to illustrate this point.
We have a meaningful role to play in evangelism. We preach and we proclaim the gospel. That is our duty and our privilege. But it is God who brings the increase. He does not need us to accomplish his purpose, but he is pleased to use us in the task.
I once met a traveling evangelist who said to me, “Give me any man alone for fifteen minutes and I will get a decision for Christ.” Sadly, the man really believed his own words. He was convinced that the power of conversion rested solely in his powers of persuasion.
I don’t doubt that the man was basing his claim on his past track record. He was so overbearing that I am sure there were multitudes who made decisions for Christ within fifteen minutes of being alone with him. Sure, he could make good his promise to produce a decision in fifteen minutes. What he couldn’t guarantee was a conversion in fifteen minutes. People would make decisions just to get away from him.
We must never underestimate the importance of our role in evangelism. Neither must we overestimate it. We preach. We bear witness. We provide the outward call. But God alone has the power to call a person to himself inwardly. I do not feel cheated by that. On the contrary, I feel comforted. We must do our job, trusting that God will do his.

HT: R.C. Sproul

I would also recommend reading John MacArthur's sermon entitled Chosen by God.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Book Review: Defence of the Truth

Defence of the Truth
by Michael Haykin

This is a marvelous little book (only 129 pages) which introduces the reader to some of the early Christian defenders of the faith and, at the same time, details the formal recognition of many essential doctrines we hold dear today.

Some of the key characters found in Haykin’s book include those we term the “Church Fathers:” Irenaeus, Origen, Basil, Athanasius, Augustine and Patrick. The value of the book is multi-facet. We are provided with:

· Information concerning some of the heresies and challenges which faced the early church.
· Sketches of the lives of several Church Fathers, as well as their antagonists.
· Details of how some important doctrines (the Trinity in particular) were debated and ultimately accepted.
· A general history of the first centuries of Christianity.

I particularly found the story of the ebb and flow of premillennialism very interesting,

The Defence of the Truth is an excellent book, informative yet easy to read, with enough detail to whet the appetite but not so overwhelming as to scare off the average reader. At the end of each chapter great resources are provided for those who wish to pursue the subject further. I like this approach far better than placing a large bibliography at the end of the book.

I see this volume as a “must-read” for those desiring a concise and clear understanding of the period of the Apostolic Fathers.

Reviewed by Gary E. Gilley

Falling in Love Again - How you can Renew your Passion for God.

This is an excellent article written by Pastor Steve Lawson, I would encourage you take a few minutes to read it.

Falling in Love Again

Steve Lawson

It was the wedding of the century. They were the very definition of romance. The epitome of love, courtship, and marriage.

With 750 million viewers watching around the globe via satellite, the world's most eligible bachelor—Prince Charles, Duke of Windsor—exchanged wedding vows with a British aristocrat—the beautiful Lady Diana Spencer.

They were so much in love. So full of life. So full of hope.

But that was then.

And something tragic happened.

For full article click here.

Evangelical Theological Society Adopts Inerrancy Statement

WASHINGTON (BP)--Members of the Evangelical Theological Society adopted the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy Nov. 16 to clarify the organization’s position on Scripture.

Adoption of the Chicago Statement is aimed at allowing the organization to exclude members or potential members who hold aberrant theological positions, such as “open theism,” that undermine biblical inerrancy.

For full article click here.

The New Atheism?

By R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

2006 has been a big year for atheism. The release of several major books – all widely touted in the media – has put atheism on the front lines of current cultural conversation. Books such as Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion, Daniel Dennett's Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon, and Sam Harris' Letter to a Christian Nation are selling by the thousands and prompting hours of conversation on college campuses and in the media.

Now, WIRED magazine comes out with a cover story on atheism for its November 2006 issue. In "The New Atheism," WIRED contributing editor Gary Wolf explains that this newly assertive form of atheism declares a very simple message: "No heaven. No hell. Just science."

For full article click here.

Survey: Major Christian Leaders Largely Unknown in America

A new Barna report revealed most Americans are unfamiliar with some of the nation's leading Christian ministers, including evangelical pastor and bestselling author Rick Warren.

Warren's The Purpose Driven Life is reportedly the biggest selling non-fiction book in U.S. history, aside from the Bible. He heads one of the largest megachurches in the nation - Saddleback Community Church - and is publicized by media around the world. The survey released Monday, however, found that 72 percent of adults say they have never heard of him.

The megachurch pastor is also unknown among born again Christians with 63 percent saying they have never heard of him.

"These figures may be another indicator that millions of Christians invest more of their mental energy in cultural literacy than in biblical literacy."

For full article click here.

I'm in the Lord's Army?

Kids on Fire boss says detractors don’t ‘know Jesus’
JAMES MACPHERSON; The Associated PressLast updated: November 25th, 2006 01:31 AM

(PST)MANDAN, N.D. – The Rev. Becky Fischer runs a children’s summer camp that isn’t about making crafts, roasting marshmallows or telling scary stories around the campfire.
At the Kids on Fire summer camp in Devils Lake, it’s about “taking back America for Christ.”
Children as young as 5 years old squirm in spiritual ecstasy, speak in tongues, sob for salvation and dance with their faces painted in camouflage as part of “God’s army.”
Fischer is convinced the children in her ministry will help fix this “sick ol’ world.” She’s so sure that she allowed filmmakers an inside look at her work, the result of which is the documentary “Jesus Camp,” released recently.

Click here for full story.

Huge Chapels Go Forth and Multiply


LOUISVILLE - As megachurches continue to swell in attendance on Sundays, they're also multiplying in number in Kentucky and across the country.

About 2,700 people attend Valley View Church in southwestern Jefferson County, more than double from 2001. And Highview Baptist Church, which was drawing about 2,000 people to one campus six years ago, now has five locations across three counties, drawing 3,500 people a week.

Louisville's Southeast Christian Church remains the state's largest church, with weekly attendance of 19,000.

Southland Christian Church, in Jessamine County just outside of Lexington, has been called the state's second-largest, with average attendance of about 8,000 people.

For full story click here.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Did Jesus Die for Everyone?


One of the most controversial points of Reformed theology concerns the L in TULIP. L stands for Limited Atonement. It has been such a problem of doctrine that there are multitudes of Christians who say they embrace most of the doctrines of Calvinism but get off the boat here. They refer to themselves as “four-point” Calvinists. The point they cannot abide is limited atonement.
I have often thought that to be a four-point Calvinist one must misunderstand at least one of the five points. It is hard for me to imagine that anyone could understand the other four points of Calvinism and deny limited atonement. There always is the possibility, however, of the happy inconsistency by which people hold incompatible views at the same time.
The doctrine of limited atonement is so complex that to treat it adequately demands a full volume. I have not even given it a full chapter in this book because a chapter cannot do it justice. I have thought about not mentioning it altogether because the danger exists that to say too little about it is worse than saying nothing at all. But I think the reader deserves at least a brief summary of the doctrine and so I will proceed—with the caution that the subject requires a much deeper treatment than I am able to provide here.
The issue of limited atonement concerns the question, “For whom did Christ die? Did he die for everybody or only for the elect?” We all agree that the value of Jesus’ atonement was great enough to cover the sins of every human being. We also agree that his atonement is truly offered to all men. Any person who places his trust in the atoning death of Jesus Christ will most certainly receive the full benefits of that atonement. We are also confident that anyone who responds to the universal offer of the gospel will be saved.
The question is, “For whom was the atonement designed?”Did God send Jesus into the world merely to make salvation possible for people? Or did God have something more definite in mind? (Roger Nicole, the eminent Baptist theologian, prefers to call limited atonement “Definite Atonement,” disrupting the acrostic TULIP as much as I do.)
Some argue that all limited atonement means is that the benefits of the atonement are limited to believers who meet the necessary condition of faith. That is, though Christ’s atonement was sufficient to cover the sins of all men and to satisfy God’s justice against all sin, it only effects salvation for believers. The formula reads: Sufficient for all; efficient for the elect only.
That point simply serves to distinguish us from universalists who believe that the atonement secured salvation for everyone. The doctrine of limited atonement goes further than that. It is concerned with the deeper question of the Father’s and the Son’s intention in the cross. It declares that the mission and death of Christ was restricted to a limited number—to his people, his sheep. Jesus was called “Jesus” because he would save his people from their sins (Matt. 1:21). The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep (John 10:15). Such passages are found liberally in the New Testament.
The mission of Christ was to save the elect. “This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day” (John 6:39). Had there not been a fixed number contemplated by God when he appointed Christ to die, then the effects of Christ’s death would have been uncertain. It would be possible that the mission of Christ would have been a dismal and complete failure.
Jesus’ atonement and his intercession are joint works of his high priesthood. He explicitly excludes the non-elect from his great high priestly prayer. “I do not pray for the world but for those whom you have given Me” (John 17:9). Did Christ die for those for whom he would not pray?
The essential issue here concerns the nature of the atonement. Jesus’ atonement included both expiation and propitiation. Ex-piation involves Christ’s removing our sins “away from” (ex) us. Pro-pitiation involves a satisfaction of sin “before or in the presence of” (pro) God. Arminianism has an atonement that is limited in value. It does not cover the sin of unbelief. If Jesus died for all the sins of all men, if he expiated all our sins and propitiated all our sins, then everybody would be saved. A potential atonement is not a real atonement. Jesus really atoned for the sins of his sheep.
The biggest problem with definite or limited atonement is found in the passages that the Scriptures use concerning Christ’s death “for all” or for the “whole world.” The world for whom Christ died cannot mean the entire human family. It must refer to the universality of the elect (people from every tribe and nation) or to the inclusion of Gentiles in addition to the world of the Jews. It was a Jew who wrote that Jesus did not die merely for our sins but for the sins of the whole world. Does the word our refer to believers or to believing Jews?
We must remember that one of the cardinal points of the New Testament concerned the inclusion of the Gentiles in God’s plan of salvation. Salvation was of the Jews but not restricted to the Jews. Wherever it is said that Christ died for all, some limitation must be added or the conclusion would have to be universalism or a mere potential atonement.
Christ’s atonement was real. It effected all that God and Jesus intended by it. The design of God was not and cannot be frustrated by human unbelief. The sovereign God sovereignly sent his Son to atone for his people.
Our election is in Christ. We are saved by him, in him, and for him. The motive for our salvation is not merely the love God has for us. It is especially grounded in the love the Father has for the Son. God insists that his Son will see the travail of his soul and be satisfied. There never has been the slightest possibility that Christ could have died in vain. If man is truly dead in sin and in bondage to sin, a mere potential or conditional atonement not only may have ended in failure but most certainly would have ended in failure. Arminians have no sound reason to believe that Jesus did not die in vain. They are left with a Christ who tried to save everybody but actually saved nobody.

HT: R.C. Sproul

When is it Time to Leave Your Church?

Dr. John MacArthur has a great post on this subject that I would encourage you to read. One of the biggest points he makes, that I hope will be addressed more in depth, is the one about churches that are willing to tolerate members that are steeped in sin. As Christians we have a duty to lovingly come around our brothers and sisters that are in sin and seek to bring them to repentance. If they are unwilling to repent, and the church is unwilling to practice biblical church restoration (Matt 18), then I have to ask you the same question that Sean Connery asked Kevin Costner in The Untouchables - What are you prepared to do? What if the sin is in the leadership? What if it is smoking or drinking? What if it is a lack of desire to truly adhere to the word of God? How committed to God are you when it comes to what you are willing to accept in your church?

You see, when church becomes a social club it is amazing what people are willing to live with in their Christian lives in order to keep friends and loved ones happy. At first some things will bother you and then you may just accept them as the way it is. I believe a lot of people in this country are attached to their churches for the wrong reasons. As followers of Christ we must be willing to take the stands that honor and glorify Him. We must be unashamedly committed to His word, and His will, even if it means upsetting people - and yes, even if it means leaving that church for one that truly seeks to be God glorifying in all things. The way is narrow (Matt 7:13-14), are you willing to walk the narrow way? Even if at times you have to walk it only with Christ? Soli Deo Gloria!

For the article by John MacArthur click here.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Danny Akin: Biblically-Illiterate SBC Pastors, NOT CALVINISM, is the Problem with the SBC!

On my way to the SC Baptist Convention’s Pastors’ Conference this morning, I couldn’t help but to “prepare myself” for the onslaught of “Calvinist Bashing” that I suspected would take place (a relapse of Greensboro). Yet not one pastor, from the pulpit, bashed Calvinists . . . amazing!!! And, to my surprise, Danny Akin addressed the REAL PROBLEM in the SBC. Dr. Akin was given the topic, “The Pastor as Theologian,” to preach.

This is Akin’s Intro: (all his actual quotes. . . . I was there. . . .I bought the CD. . . . This is acurate.)
Akin: “I run a risk. . . I have been struggling with this all weekend. . . because I realize that some of you will be angry with what I am going to say this afternoon. . . . . Some of you will perhaps think I am being arrogant, prideful and unloving. But I will say to you that I have examined my heart as carefully as I know how. Although I realize the deceitfulness of the human heart.
I have a tremendous burden of the fact that evangelicals. . . .Southern Baptists. . . are in serious, serious trouble. Much of that fault comes from the pulpit with men who are not filling the assignment of being the pastor/teacher, the pastor/theologian.

For full article click here.

HT: Founders and chadwickvester

Unexpected Blows to Fatalistic Thinking

John Piper
November 15, 2006

Christians should entertain thoughts of the impossible when it comes to penetration into the most unlikely places and peoples in the world with the message and people of Christ. Fatalism based on a mere human trajectory of two thousand years is impious. Ultimately, fatalistic thinking is unbelief in the promise of Jesus, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27). The main help in breaking the habit of fatalism is the book about God’s superhuman feats, the Bible. But God ordains others too.

One of the values of being aware of the sorts of things Philip Jenkins, of the University of Pennsylvania, writes about in The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity is that it helps explode fatalistic thinking. Just when you thought you knew how the Christian mission and the world would end, and were yawning toward Armageddon, along comes Jenkins with a story of the last one hundred years that makes you realize you must have already fallen asleep.

Interesting Quote from the Article:

"Over the past century . . . the center of gravity in the Christian world has shifted inexorably southward, to Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Already today, the largest Christian communities on the planet are to be found in Africa and Latin America. If we want to visualize a “typical” contemporary Christian, we should think of a woman living in a village in Nigeria or in a Brazilian favela. As Kenyan scholar John Mbiti has observed, “the centers of the church’s universality [are] no longer in Geneva, Rome, Athens, Paris, London, New York, but Kinshasa, Buenos Aires, Addis Ababa and Manila.” (p. 2)"

Click here for full article.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Why the English Standard Version (ESV)

How is the ESV Different from Other Translations?

All Bible translations seek to faithfully communicate God’s Word. But, depending on translation philosophy and purpose, significant differences are evident when comparing Bible translations.

There are two main kinds of Bible translations. The first is commonly referred to as (1) “word-for-word” (or “formal equivalence”) translation, the second as (2) “thought-for-thought” (or “dynamic equivalence”) translation. The main difference between these two translation philosophies is that the first one places the primary emphasis on what the words of the original say and mean (in their context), while the second one places the primary emphasis on the main thought or idea in the phrases of the original.

As an “essentially literal” translation, the ESV is committed to the principle of “word-for-word” translation, as the translation philosophy that most accurately conveys the Bible’s own understanding that “all Scripture is breathed out by God” (2 Timothy 3:16), or as Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

This article explains how the ESV differs from eight of the most widely used Bible translations and paraphrases. You may also want to compare the ESV with selections from many of the translations discussed here.

King James Version (KJV) – The ESV Translation Team holds a deep respect for the work of the KJV translators as well as for the immeasurable impact this Bible has had on the English language and the English-speaking world for centuries. Though the KJV Bible is appreciated greatly for its literary beauty, much of the KJV language is now archaic and hard to understand. Also, the KJV was based on only a few original language manuscripts that were available 400 years ago. The ESV’s translators, however, had the advantage of access to much earlier manuscripts and the most up-to-date scholarly research. The result is that the ESV carries forward the KJV’s literary beauty and the essentially literal translation legacy, based on the best original language manuscripts. The ESV also retains the classic theological terms found in the King James Version, which modern translations often do not retain—terms such as “grace,” “justification,” “sanctification,” and “propitiation,” which are central to Christian doctrine.

New International Version (NIV) – Unlike the ESV, the NIV is a “dynamic equivalence” translation, though it is on the more conservative end of the dynamic equivalence spectrum. Thus the NIV focuses primarily on translating thoughts and ideas rather than translating the meaning of each word. While this translation philosophy emphasizes readability, readability can be achieved only at the expense of the word-for-word precision and consistency of an essentially literal translation. The NIV also lacks the historical legacy carried forward by the ESV.

Today’s New International Version (TNIV) – The TNIV (published in full in February 2005), like the NIV, is a dynamic equivalence translation, focusing primarily on thoughts and ideas rather than the literal meaning of each word. Further, the TNIV has adopted a “gender inclusive” translation philosophy resulting in thousands of gender language changes as compared to the NIV. In contrast, the goal of the ESV is to render literally what is in the original, allowing the reader to understand the original on its own terms rather than on the terms of our present-day culture.

New Living Translation (NLT) – The NLT is on the looser end of the dynamic equivalence spectrum, describing itself as a “thought-for-thought” rather than a “word-for-word” translation. The NLT was intentionally translated at a junior high reading level. Also, the NLT has avoided using theological terms, and has adopted a “gender inclusive” translation philosophy similar to that of the TNIV. As with other “thought-for-thought” translations, the NLT emphasis on readability is achieved at the expense of word-for-word precision and consistency.

New King James Version (NKJV) – The NKJV translation philosophy is quite similar to that of the ESV. The NKJV, however, is not based on the earlier Bible manuscripts used by the ESV and by almost every other modern Bible translation. The ESV also benefits from translation work that was completed more recently than the work on the NKJV (2001 vs. 1982) and that was carried out by a much more extensive team of international evangelical Bible scholars.

Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) – The HCSB calls its translation philosophy “optimal equivalence.” Thus the HCSB sometimes follows a “word-for-word” and sometimes a “thought-for-thought” approach, as decided by the HCSB translators for any given text. The HCSB also differs from the ESV in that the HCSB is not part of the historic KJV translation stream.

The Message –The Message is a paraphrase, rather than a translation. As a paraphrase, The Message expresses the ideas and thoughts of the original Bible languages in a loose, informal, and unconventional way. The result is often fresh and arresting, but at the expense of close correspondence to the original words of Scripture, and at the expense of consistency and precision in rendering theological language.

New American Standard Bible (NASB) – The NASB is a strictly literal translation, making it highly accurate. However, the NASB’s commitment to strictly literal translation often results in wording that sounds awkward. The ESV translators, while striving for accuracy and faithfulness to the original texts, also made clarity of expression and literary excellence high priorities. The language of the ESV, therefore, often flows more naturally than that of the NASB.

“The translation is outstanding. The ESV achieves a new standard in accurate Bible translations for our day.”
Dr. R. C. Sproul
Chairman, Ligonier Ministries

“We are building all our future ministry around the ESV…. The ESV satisfies the preaching, memorizing, studying, and reading needs of our church, from children to adults.”
Pastor John Piper
Preaching Pastor, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota

For more information on the ESV and bible translation's click here.

Ga. Baptist Convention Severs Ties with University

ATLANTA (AP) - The Georgia Baptist Convention has formally ended its 170-year relationship with Mercer University, a relationship that had grown increasingly troubled over the convention's concerns that Mercer is more liberal than its Southern Baptist roots.

Convention members had voted last year to sever ties with the Macon, Ga., institution. A second vote Tuesday finalized the split, which means Mercer must seek Baptist funding from individual churches rather than the convention.

Mercer also has control now over choosing its trustees.

For full article click here.

Follow the Leader??

Missouri Baptists expel 19 churches

ST. LOUIS (AP) _ The Missouri Baptist Convention has voted to oust 19 churches for donating money and having other ties to more moderate Baptist groups.

The unusual step is the largest expulsion of churches in the convention's history. It means those congregations will no longer be affiliated with the 16.3 million-member Southern Baptist Convention, the nation's largest Protestant denomination.

"We do not enjoy this kind of thing," said the Rev. David Tolliver, of the Missouri Baptist Convention.

Most of the 19 churches had already distanced themselves from the Missouri Baptist Convention. But the expulsions were decided when delegates to an annual meeting of the convention voted Oct. 31 to bar any representatives of the 19 churches.

"I think in recent years the convention has attacked, defunded and excluded groups they can't control," said the Rev. Mike Shupert, pastor of the Cape Girardeau church. "They want to say, 'This is what you have to believe.' That's not the Baptist way."

Shupert said some of the roughly 150 congregants at his church had chosen to give money to what they deemed more moderate Baptist groups, the Atlanta-based Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Missouri.

The changes should not affect most congregants on a day-to-day basis at the 19 churches, but has meant the end to historic partnerships. Shupert said his church had a partnership with the Missouri Baptist Convention for more than 100 years.

An Evaluation of the TNIV Bible Version

Does the new TNIV (Today's New International Version) commend itself as a trustworthy translation of the Bible? I think not.

On February 2, 2005, I received from Zondervan a free copy of the new TNIV, which includes the TNIV Old Testament. (The TNIV New Testament appeared in February, 2002.) A friendly cover letter asks me to reconsider my earlier criticisms of the TNIV. It alludes to the fact that in 2002 I signed a public statement along with more than 100 other evangelical leaders, judging that "we cannot endorse the TNIV as sufficiently trustworthy to commend to the church."

I am certainly willing to reconsider, and I am grateful for the invitation to do so. However, when I examine the new TNIV, I find that little has changed.

Click here for full article.

Divorced before the Marriage?

80% of divorcees report knowing that their marriage was a mistake before they walked down the aisle. Relationship author Russell Friedman discloses the five most common thinking errors and behaviors that indicate that emotional baggage is keeping you stuck.

Beliefs And Actions That Indicate That You're Carrying Excess Relationship Baggage:

*You believe that time will heal your emotional wounds
*You think the best way to deal with your broken heart is to "be strong"
*You believe that there are "plenty of fish in the sea," so all you have to do is find a replacement
*You isolate because you're unwilling to tell people how you feel
*You are using food or alcohol or other substances to try to cover up your feelings.

For full article click here.

I would like to add that a marriage not centered on Christ is ultimately doomed to fail, and never capture the joy that was intended. For information on what a Christ centered marriage looks like click here.

Important Prayer Reminder

They have been convicted of murder and theft but their lawyers claim they were condemned without proof and on the basis of “confessions” extracted under torture. Most probably they will be executed in mid-December to prevent the Supreme Court from reviewing their case.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – The unjust death sentence handed down to leaders of the Protestant group “Three Grades of Servants” last July has been upheld on appeal. Most probably they will be executed in mid-December to prevent the Supreme Court from reviewing their case.

This was denounced by China Aid Association (CAA), a US-based non-governmental organisation that lobbies for religious freedom in China.

For full article click here.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

What to Pray For

November 10, 2006
By John Piper

If you are like me, you find that from time to time your prayer life needs a jolt out of the rut it has fallen into. We tend to use the same phrases over and over. We tend to default to worn out phrases (like the word default). We fall into patterns of mindless repetition.

The devil hates prayer. Our own flesh does not naturally love it. Therefore, it does not come full-born and complete and passionate from the womb of our heart. It takes ever renewed discipline.

Years ago, when I wrote Let the Nations Be Glad, I argued that prayer is a wartime walkie-talkie, not a domestic intercom. God is more like a general in Command Central than a butler waiting to bring you another pillow in the den. Of course, he is also Father, Lover, Friend, Physician, Shepherd, Helper, King, Savior, Lord, Counselor. But in this fallen “world with devils filled,” prayer will function best when we keep the frequency tuned to Command Central in the fight of faith.

So when I wrote that book, I gathered into one place all the things the early church prayed for. I printed this out for myself, and it has proven to be one of those “jolts” that I need. I thought you might find it helpful. You might want to print it out and keep it for a while in your Bible to guide you in your praying.

It is a great confidence-builder in prayer to know that you are not quirky in your praying. To pray what the New Testament prays is a safe and powerful way to pray.

Prayer remains one of the great and glorious mysteries of the universe—that the all-knowing, all-wise, all-sovereign God should ordain to run his world in response to our prayers is mind-boggling. But that is the uniform witness of Scripture. God hears and answers the prayers of his people. O do not neglect this amazing way of influencing nations and movements and institutions and churches and people’s hearts, especially your own.

Click Here - If you want to pray for what the early church prayed for . . .

Friday, November 10, 2006

International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church

Let's remember our family in chains. More info here.

Beliefs about Jesus determine entire worldview, Akin says at Bible study conference

Beliefs about Jesus determine entire worldview, Akin says at Bible study conference
November 09, 2006
By David Roach

Believing and living out the truth of Jesus should be the central fixture of every Christian's life, Daniel Akin said Oct. 23 at a conference on the New Testament letters of John at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., is the author of the 2007 January Bible Study curriculum on the letters of John published by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Akin surveyed the content of the January Bible Study for conference attendees along with William Cook, professor of New Testament Interpretation at Southern.

Speaking from 2 John, Akin said believers must love the truth. Part of loving the truth is listening to people who are godly and mature in their faith and ignoring those who do not have a track record of godliness and righteousness, he said. Akin is the author of a commentary on the Epistles of John in the New American Commentary series published by Broadman & Holman.

"Those who are spiritually mature, godly men, who have lived the godly life over many years—do they have a right to a more significant voice than the neophyte convert? You better believe it. Where would you get the idea that the children would have the same right as the young men and as the fathers? No, give me the fathers," Akin said.

Click here for full article.

Thursday, November 9, 2006


Surprise Attack on your Brother's Leaf Fort ---- Priceless

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Feeding Sheep or Amusing Goats?

Feeding Sheep or Amusing Goats?

An evil is in the 'professed' camp of the Lord, so gross in its impudence, that the most shortsighted Christian can hardly fail to notice it. During the past few years this evil has developed at an alarming rate. It has worked like leaven until the whole lump ferments!

The devil has seldom done a more clever thing, than hinting to the Church that part of their mission is to provide entertainment for the people, with a view to winning them. From speaking out the gospel, the Church has gradually toned down her testimony, then winked at and excused the frivolities of the day. Then she tolerated them in her borders. Now she has adopted them under the plea of reaching the masses!

My first contention is that providing amusement for the people is nowhere spoken of in the Scriptures as a function of the Church. If it is a Christian work why did not Christ speak of it? 'Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, and provide amusement for those who do not relish the gospel'.

No such words, however, are to be found. It did not seem to occur to Him. Where do entertainers come in? The Holy Spirit is silent concerning them. Were the prophets persecuted because they amused the people, or because they confronted them? The 'concert' has no martyr roll.

Again, providing amusement is in direct antagonism to the teaching and life of Christ and all His apostles. What was the attitude of the apostolic Church to the world? "You are the salt of the world", not the sugar candy; something the world will spit out, not swallow.

Had Jesus introduced more of the bright and pleasant elements into His teaching, He would have been more popular. When "many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him," I do not hear Him say, 'Run after these people, Peter, and tell them we will have a different style of service tomorrow; something short and attractive with little preaching. We will have a pleasant evening for the people. Tell them they will be sure to enjoy it! Be quick, Peter, we must get the people somehow!'

No! Jesus pitied sinners, sighed and wept over them, but never sought to amuse them!

In vain will the epistles be searched to find any trace of the 'gospel of amusement'. Their message is, "Therefore, come out from them and separate yourselves from them... Don't touch their filthy things..." Anything approaching amusement is conspicuous by its absence. They had boundless confidence in the gospel and employed no other weapon.

After Peter and John were locked up for preaching, the Church had a prayer meeting, but they did not pray, 'Lord, grant unto your servants that by a wise and discriminating use of innocent recreation we may show these people how happy we are'.

No! They did not cease from preaching Christ. They had no time for arranging entertainments. Scattered by persecution they went everywhere preaching the gospel. They turned the world upside down; that is the only difference from today's church.

Lastly, amusement fails to effect the end desired. Let the heavy laden who found peace through the concert not keep silent! Let the drunkard to whom the dramatic entertainment had been God's link in the chain of their conversion, stand up! There are none to answer! The mission of amusement produces no converts!

The need of the hour for today's ministry is earnest spirituality joined with Biblical doctrine, so understood and felt, that it sets men on fire.

Lord, clear the Church of all the rot and rubbish the devil has imposed on her, and bring us back to apostolic methods!

By Charles Spurgeon (edited)

Waking Up In America-Updated

If you know me, you know that I am not an overly political person. I do however believe in excercising the right to vote for biblical candidates. I encourage people to vote their biblical convictions from the pulpit, not necessarily a given political party. Yet, I am shocked and saddened at how many people in our churches vote contrary to the truth of the Bible; calling God a liar and stabbing Him in the back with their votes of ungodly candidates. We need to always be people that vote morality over our pocket books, or we have been disobedient to God. Where are those people who care more about God than there own pride, selfish desires and lust of the flesh? I just don't think there are very many of them left anymore in our churches. Maybe these so-called Christians are in the church, but they are really not saved. This day is not as much as a wake-up call for America as it is for the the Church of Jesus Christ to begin taking a stand for Him and voting biblically. The church is doing a great job of sleeping once again.

In my opinion, the Republican Party is the one that is standing correctly in their morals before a just and holy God. I have always been one to vote for the man (in the literal sense) and not for the party. Come on now, where are the Democrats who are morally just, God fearing and Christ-honoring? Are there any out there running? I realize that there are some Republicans that stoop to the level of many democrats lacking morality, integrity, and all around ungodliness, so I do not need any comments stating that fact. The bottom line is the political party is really not the issue at stake; casting a godly vote is.

I can understand how the unsaved, people dead in sins and trespasses, would cast a vote for an ungodly candidate, but a born-again Christian; come on now! Christians are supposed to be different than the world; having high and holy standards. Jesus is now their Lord and Saviour; all aspects of their lives should be changed. God has given to them a new nature. Christ followers should want to please Him with their votes of godily candidates not ones that necessarelhy have an agenda for this world.

I am saddened this morning to hear that the democratic party is taking over the House and perhaps the Senate, but that is too close to call. Hold on a second, I just learned that the Democrats have the Senate as well. They now control the majority in Congress, something that has not happened since 1994. All as I can say is unbelieveable! Most of the govenorships are democrats also. Many in he Democratic Party are looking at this as a rebellion against what the president is doing in Iraq. Say what you want, but I don't think that this is as much of a rebellion against George W. Bush (who I think will go down as the best president in my life-time) and the Republicans as much as it is against God and the truth of His Word.

Keep praying for this great country, God help us! Praise His dear, gracious name that when we cry out to Him for the forgiveness of our sins and repent from them that we will not experience the wrath of God. Because honestly friends, I think Jesus is coming back real quickly and soon after that the wrath of God will be poured out on the ungodly and unsaved.

He is sovereign and in complete control of America regardless of what political party is in control (Rom. 13.) If you have not been voting to bring honor and glory to God, start with the next election. If you're not voting church, vote! If you're not registered in your state to vote, register soon.

May God continue to bless the red, white and blue until He comes again.

Saturday, November 4, 2006

Calvary Chapel VS. Purpose Driven - Why these Two Seeker Sensitive's Can't Get Along

I thought this would be worth posting for a couple of reasons, I don't believe either of these movements match-up with a God Centered Christ exalting approach to evangelism or worship. Both of these movements are geared to be as seeker sensitive as possible, filling churches with unsaved "Christians" - they believe Calvinism is ruining the church. I believe the seeker sensitive movement is killing the church, by making people believe they are saved when they aren't, for just signing a card and checking a box. And then they tell them to never doubt your decision or let anyone tell you any different. Paul said "we are to examine ourselves to see that we are in the faith". These false "Christians" then join churches and it is like oil and water, they don't desire to grow and they have to be re-evangelized every weekend. It is a recipe for trouble that I have run into more than once. I think it is ironic that the two cannot get along and have divorced themselves from each other. As a point of clarity I do not agree with either of these churches methodologies in just about anything that they do.

Calvary Chapel and Purpose Driven

by Roger Oakland

Since Rick Warren’s best selling Purpose Driven book and other related products were pulled from Calvary Distribution, [1] a number of people have contacted me asking for an explanation. My answer has been quite simple - contact someone at Calvary Distribution and ask them for the answer.

While I do speak at many different Calvary Chapels throughout the USA and around the world, I am not involved in the decisions that the leaders of Calvary Chapel make. Basically, I am a missionary to the world, based in southern California, affiliated with the Calvary Chapel movement. The ministry of Understand The Times is a discernment ministry, and I am dedicated to warning people about current trends within Christianity which lead believers and non believers away from the truth of God’s Word. Other than warning people, there is not much else I can do.

My Background

I consider Pastor Chuck Smith to be my own pastor, and I attend Calvary Costa Mesa when I am in southern California. I have been familiar with the Calvary Chapel movement since June of 1981 when I was first invited as a guest speaker at Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa. Since 1988 the ministry of Understand The Times has been affiliated with Calvary Chapel movement and I have spoken at hundreds of churches and conferences by invitation of Calvary Chapel pastors worldwide

Therefore, my 25 years of experience within the Calvary Chapel movement has provided the opportunity for me to be able to make observations about the Calvary Chapel movement. While this movement is made up of individuals who have various ideas (some are even supportive of Purpose Driven), the leader, Pastor Chuck Smith has made it clear on several occasions that he does not agree with the direction the Purpose Driven movement is headed.

Over the past year or so, it should have been obvious to anyone listening to messages by Pastor Chuck Smith, Sr. that he has expressed serious concerns about the Purpose Driven church growth movement. On numerous occasions he made the point that the Calvary way, was not the Purpose Driven way. He made it clear that healthy church growth should be centered on the teaching of the Word of God and not on methods derived by human effort. From the beginning of the Calvary Chapel movement, Chuck has emphasized being “spirit led” rather than being motivated by a humanistic agenda put in place by church growth experts.

Further, pastors who attended the nation-wide Calvary Chapel Pastor’s Conferences held at Murrieta, California in either 2005 or 2006 would have heard Pastor Chuck explain in detail that Calvary Chapel pastors are not to be “Purpose Driven”. While there were some in attendance who were leaning towards Purpose Driven methods, Pastor Chuck emphasized Calvary Chapel was not going in that direction.

Distribution of “Purpose Driven” at Calvary Distribution

Based on what I have just stated, it was surprising to me that Calvary Distribution ever distributed Rick Warren’s “Purpose Driven” books and associated products in the first place. The fact that a decision was made to remove these materials from Calvary Distribution seemed logical based on my knowledge of what Calvary Chapel stands for and what Rick Warren’s “Purpose Driven” church growth philosophy represents.

As I stated in the introduction of this commentary, although I have no authority to make comments on behalf of Chuck Smith, Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, or Calvary Distribution, I am willing to go on record and make comments regarding my perspective on why I believe Calvary Distribution pulled the Rick Warren materials. Following are four of my reasons:

1. Eschatology

The Calvary Chapel view of the future compared to the “Purpose Driven” view of the future is as different as day and night. One of the distinctives of the Calvary movement is a focus on the imminent return of Jesus Christ. Pastor Chuck has always been known for an emphasis on warning Christians to be alert and ready for the return of Jesus. He teaches that the Kingdom of God will be established only when Jesus Christ returns to this planet. He also emphasizes that the time period before the return of Jesus here on earth will be “as it was in the days of Noah.” [2] From this perspective, the world actually gets worse and worse, not better and better.

Rick Warren’s view of the present and the future is different from Chuck Smith’s. Warren encourages his followers to ignore Bible prophecy and spend their time and energy on the here and now, in order to establish a man made social plan (P.E.A.C.E. Plan) that will make planet earth a better place for everyone. With regards to the importance of Bible prophecy, Rick Warren has stated:

When the disciples wanted to talk about prophecy, Jesus quickly switched the conversation to evangelism. He wanted them to concentrate on their mission to the world. He said in essence, "The details of my return are none of your business. What is your business is the mission I have given you. Focus on that!"

Speculating on the exact timing of Christ's return is futile, because Jesus said, "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." Since Jesus said he didn't know the day or hour, why should you try to figure it out" What we do know for sure is this: Jesus will not return until everyone God wants to hear the Good News has heard it. Jesus said, "The Good News about God's kingdom will be preached in all the world, to every nation. Then the end will come." If you want Jesus to come back sooner, focus on fulfilling your mission, not figuring out prophecy. [3]

Further, Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven P.E.A.C.E. Plan is part of a plan that is intended to establish the Kingdom of God here on earth before Jesus returns. This Kingdom depends on human effort. He is willing to work with governments (Rwanda [4]), political leaders (King of Jordan [5]), the United Nations (Inter-religious gatherings [6]) and even the Roman Catholic Church [7].

For full article click here.

Friday, November 3, 2006

A New Southern Baptist Virtual K-12 Private School

Innovative Online K-12 Homeschooling Academy Launched to Assist Southern Baptists in Public School Exit Strategy

The Southern Baptist Academy opens it virtual door to Southern Baptists seeking an alternative to the public school system.

Dallas, TX (PRWeb) November 2, 2006 --As schools around the country close their doors due to widespread budget cuts, The Southern Baptist Academy opened its doors this morning. However, no students walked through their doorway, because The Southern Baptist Academy ( is not a typical brick and mortar school. The Southern Baptist Academy is a K-12 Christian online home educating academy, offering over 140 classes in their Biblically-based curriculum. Through its teacher-led multimedia program, The Southern Baptist Academy is serving the burgeoning community of Southern Baptist homeschoolers.

Can you imagine what kind of an effect we could have on American culture if such a large percentage of a generation grew up training to fight for the cause of Christ? It has the potential to be the most spiritually significant social movement of our time and I consider it an honor to be a part of it.

"The Southern Baptist Academy is an alternative to the failing public school system," says academy founder Mimi Rothschild. Citing school shootings, moral ambiguity, flagging test scores, and an increasing hostility to traditional Christian values, Rothschild indicts the public school system for betraying America's families.

For full article click here.

Blah Blah Blah - Speaking in Tongues Study

Scientists Study Speaking in Tongues

PHILADELPHIA, Nov 2 -- U.S. scientists, in a first-of-its-kind study, have found decreased brain activity in people "speaking in tongues," a condition known as glossolalia.

The unusual mental state is associated with some religious traditions and occurs when people appear to be speaking in an incomprehensible language, yet perceive it to have great personal meaning.

Medical scientists at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine measured regional cerebral blood flow with single photon emission computed tomography while the subjects were speaking in tongues.

"We noticed a number of changes that occurred functionally in the brain," said the principal investigator, Dr. Andrew Newberg, an associate professor of radiology, psychiatry, and religious studies. "Our finding of decreased activity in the frontal lobes during the practice of speaking in tongues is fascinating because these subjects truly believe the spirit of God is moving through them and controlling them to speak.

Click here for full article.

How are we to Raise our Children?

When God established Israel as His chosen covenant community He gave rigorous prescriptions for the duty of parents.

"Now this is the commandment, and these are the statutes and judgments which the LORD your God has commanded to teach you, that you may observe them in the land which you are crossing over to possess, that you may fear the LORD your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, you and your son and your grandson, all the days of your life.... You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up." (Deut. 6:1-7).

The commandments, statutes, and judgments of the Lord are to be taught to all of the children, and the designated place for this instruction is chiefly that of the home. The command is clear: "You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up." The accent on this command is found in the word diligently.

I was guilty in my own role as a parent in fulfilling the biblical mandate to give vigorous instruction to my children and to serve in the capacity of family priest. When our children were little I depended for the most part on the programs of the church to fill these needs. Yes, I read them children’s Bible stories at bedtime and said their prayers with them. Since our home was used daily to feed students at the Ligonier Valley Study Center, the topic of conversations in our "Tabletalk" was theology. I assumed that my children would get it by osmosis. They lived daily in a Christian educational environment. But I am grateful to God that my children came to a robust faith despite my negligence in the full duties of parenthood. I am most thankful for their pastor who poured himself diligently into the catechetical instruction.

Click here to read more.

Why Johnny is Reading Islamist Propoganda

Critics charge Muslim radicals determining textbook content

Islam is being taught in the nation's public schools as a religion to be embraced because "organized Islamists have gained control of textbook content," according to an organization that analyzes textbooks.

The American Textbook Council has concluded that the situation is the consequence of "the interplay of determined Islamic political activists, textbook editors, and multiculturally minded social studies curriculum planners."

It has gone so far that correcting the situation now becomes a problem, because "educational publishers and educational organizations have bought into claims propounded by Islamists – and have themselves become agents of misinformation."

By Bob Unruh
© 2006

Click here for full article.

'Headship of Christ under assault' MacArthur says at SBTS

By Garrett E. Wishall

John MacArthur

The doctrine under the greatest assault in the church today, including many sectors of evangelical Christianity, is the doctrine of the headship of Christ, John MacArthur said Oct. 31 in a chapel service at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

MacArthur's sermon was the first of three he delivered as the featured speaker for the annual E.Y. Mullins Lecture Series at Southern. MacArthur, pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, Calif. and president of The Master's College and Seminary, said that ministry approaches that undermine the authority of God's Word deny the headship of Christ over the church.

"Modern liberal theology denies the headship of Christ. The 'seeker' movement silences His rule, substituting His Word with anything and everything else," he said. "You can deny the headship of Christ in the church by removing the only way in which He can rule and that is by the expression of His will, which comes through an understanding of His Word. You take the Word out and you have dethroned the Head.

"The emerging church leaders would probably say that they believe in the headship of Christ and the Bible, but their approach is that the Bible is not clear. As emerging church leader Brian McLaren says 'clarity is highly overrated. Ambiguity is preferable.' According to McLaren, Christ may be the head of the church and He did speak but we have absolutely no idea what He is saying. So why should we bother reading and explaining the Word of God? Anything that takes out of the life of the church the voice of its Head is a rebellion."

Click here for full article.

Hurting People

That man, woman, or child that you encounter may be a person that is crying out to God in desperation. Here is a link to a moving article that I think all the saved and secure in Christ should read. It goes to show you that there are people all around who need the Lord.

Thursday, November 2, 2006

Speaking In Tongues In The SBC

The question is should speaking in tongues and/or a private prayer language be entertained in the Baptist Faith and Message? Frank Page, president of the SBC, says that he thinks he knows how the majority of SBC feels about the issue, how is that? I hope that the majority in the SBC understand tongues to have ceased.

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Wednesday, November 1, 2006

What is the Unpardonable Sin


In our discussions on assurance of salvation and the perseverance of the saints, we touched on the question of the unforgivable sin. The fact that Jesus warns against the committing of a sin that is unforgivable is beyond dispute. The questions we must face then are these: What is the unforgivable sin? Can Christians commit this sin?
Jesus defined it as blasphemy against the Holy Spirit:

Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men.
Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come (Matthew 12:31, 32).

In this text Jesus does not provide a detailed explanation of the nature of this dreadful sin. He declares that there is such a sin and gives an ominous warning about it. The rest of the New Testament adds little in the way of further explanation. As a result of this silence, there has been much speculation about the unforgivable sin.
Two sins have been frequently mentioned as candidates for the unforgivable sin: adultery and murder. Adultery is chosen on the grounds that it represents a sin against the Holy Spirit because the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Adultery was a capital crime in the Old Testament. The reasoning is that, since it deserved the death penalty and involved a violation of the temple of the Holy Spirit, this must be the unpardonable sin.
Murder is chosen for similar reasons. Since man is created in the image of God, an attack upon the human person is considered an attack upon God himself. To slay the image-bearer is to insult the One whose image is borne. Likewise murder is a capital sin. We add to this the fact that murder is a sin against the sanctity of life. Since the Holy Spirit is the ultimate “life force,” to kill a human being is to insult the Holy Spirit.
As attractive as these theories may be to speculators, they have not gained the consent of most biblical scholars. A more popular view has to do with the final resistance to the Holy Spirit’s application of Christ’s work of redemption. Final unbelief is then seen as the unpardonable sin. If a person repeatedly, fully, and finally repudiates the gospel, then there is no hope of future forgiveness.
What all three of these theories lack is a serious consideration of the meaning of blasphemy. Blasphemy is something that we do with our mouths. It deals with what we say out loud. Certainly it can also be done with the pen, but blasphemy is a verbal sin.
The Ten Commandments include a prohibition against blasphemy. We are forbidden to make frivolous or irreverent use of the name of God. In God’s eyes the verbal abuse of his holy name is a serious enough matter to make it to his top ten list of commands. This tells us that blasphemy is a serious matter in God’s sight. It is a heinous sin to blaspheme any member of the Godhead.
Does this mean that anyone who has ever abused the name of God has no possible hope of forgiveness, now or ever? Does it mean that if a person curses once, using the name of God, that he is doomed forever? I think not.
It is crucial to note in this text that Jesus makes a distinction between sinning against him (the Son of Man), and sinning against the Holy Spirit. Does this mean that it is OK to blaspheme the first person of the Trinity and the second person of the Trinity, but to insult the third person is to cross the boundaries of forgiveness? This hardly makes sense.
Why then would Jesus make such a distinction between sinning against himself and against the Holy Spirit? I think the key to answering this question is the key to the whole question of the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. That key is found in the context in which Jesus originally gave his severe warning.
In Matthew 12:24 we read: “But when the Pharisees heard it they said, ‘This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.’” Jesus responds with a discourse about a house divided against itself and the foolishness of the idea that Satan would work to cast out Satan. His warning about the unpardonable sin is the conclusion of this discussion. He introduces his severe warning with the word therefore.
The situation runs something like this: The Pharisees are being repeatedly critical of Jesus. Their verbal attacks upon him get more and more vicious. Jesus had been casting out demons “By the Finger of God,” which means by the Holy Spirit. The Pharisees sink so low as to accuse Jesus of doing his holy work by the power of Satan. Jesus warns them. It is as if he were saying: “Be careful. Be really careful. You are coming perilously close to a sin for which you cannot be forgiven. It is one thing to attack me, but watch yourselves. You’re treading on holy ground here.”
We still wonder why Jesus made the distinction between sinning against the Son of Man and sinning against the Spirit. We notice that even from the cross Jesus pled for the forgiveness of those who were murdering him. On the day of Pentecost Peter spoke of the horrible crime against Christ committed in the crucifixion, yet still held out hope for forgiveness to those who had participated in it. Paul says, “but we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory (1 Cor. 2:7, 8).
These texts indicate an allowance of sorts for human ignorance. We must remember that when the Pharisees accused Jesus of working by the power of Satan they did not yet have the benefit of the fullness of God’s disclosure of the true identity of Christ. These charges were made before the resurrection. To be sure, the Pharisees should have recognized Christ, but they did not. Jesus’ words from the cross are important: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.
When Jesus gave the warning and distinguished between blasphemy against the Son of Man and blasphemy against the Holy Spirit it was at a time when he had not yet been made fully manifest. We note that this distinction tends to fall away after the resurrection, Pentecost, and the ascension. Note what the author of Hebrews declares:

For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? (Hebrews 10:26-29).

In this passage the distinction between sinning against Christ and against the Spirit falls away. Here, to sin against Christ is to insult the Spirit of grace. The key is in the willful sin after we have received the knowledge of the truth.
If we take the first line of this text as an absolute, none of us has a hope of heaven. We all sin willfully after we know the truth. A specific sin is in view here, not each and every sin. I am persuaded that the specific sin in view here is the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
I agree with the New Testament scholars who conclude that the unforgivable sin is to blaspheme Christ and the Holy Spirit by saying Jesus is a devil when you know better. That is, the unforgivable sin cannot be done in ignorance. If a person knows with certainty that Jesus is the Son of God and then declares with his mouth that Jesus is of the devil, that person has committed unpardonable blasphemy.
Who commits such a sin? This is a sin common to devils and to totally degenerate people. The devil knew who Jesus was. He could not plead ignorance as an excuse.
One of the fascinating facts of history is the strange way in which unbelievers speak of Jesus. The vast majority of unbelievers speak of Jesus with great respect. They may attack the church with great hostility but still speak of Jesus as a “great man.” Only once in my life have I heard a person say out loud that Jesus was a devil. I was shocked to see a man stand in the middle of the street shaking his fist toward heaven and screaming at the top of his lungs. He cursed God and used every obscenity he could utter in attacking Jesus. I was equally shocked only hours later when I saw the same man on a stretcher with a bullet hole in his chest. It was self-inflicted. He died before morning.
Even that dreadful sight did not drive me to the conclusion that the man had actually committed the unpardonable sin. I had no way of knowing if he was ignorant of Christ’s true identity or not.
Saying that Jesus is a devil is not something we see many people do. It is, however, possible for people to know the truth of Jesus and sink this low. One does not need to be born again to have an intellectual knowledge of the true identity of Jesus. Again, the unregenerate demons know who he is.
What of Christians? Is it possible for a Christian to commit the unforgivable sin and thereby lose his salvation? I think not. The grace of God makes it impossible. In ourselves we are capable of any sin, including blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. But God preserves us from this sin. He preserves us from full and final fall, guarding our lips from this horrible crime. We perform other sins and other kinds of blasphemy, but God in his grace restrains us from committing the ultimate blasphemy.

HT: R.C. Sproul

Can We All Just Get Along? - Great Question

This is a great question that was emailed to Gary E. Gilley, Pastor at Southern View Chapel. I could not agree more with his answer and his philosophy.

A new pastor at my church stated that non-Christians have no spirit. When I questioned him about this surprising statement he said he came to this conclusion from John 3:5-8. Frankly, I didn’t get it. I wrote to another pastor I know...and he directed me to Wayne Grudems Systematic Theology chapter 23. In trying to learn something about Mr. Grudem I found your name criticizing his involvement in the Vineyard Movement. Do you discredit all his beliefs and writings about other theological issues or just this one area of his ministry? I was a Catholic (and a good one) for 43 years, then I became a Christian. In the past 8 years I’m surprised about the number of ministers and theologians that disagree with each other and I find it very confusing. I lead a Bible study for a small group of baby Christians and I so much want to teach them correctly. I know you are busy but if you could answer this question for me I’d be very grateful. EH

I commend your desire to teach God’s truth and realize how confusing it is when Christian leaders disagree. Actually with most conservative theologians and Bible students there is remarkable agreement — as long as we stay with Scripture and not base our beliefs on experiences, tradition and human wisdom. Concerning Grudem, I of course have not read everything he believes, but from what I know I would agree with him on virtually everything except his charismatic views. My philosophy is simple: begin with Scripture, find out what it really says, then analyze everything else through this grid. I hope this helps.

A Common Title

Bob Barker has announced his retirement of the CBS television game show "The Price is Right." effective this June. I found it interesting that he began his television appearance in 1956 on a television shown called "Truth or Consequences." Click here for full article. I know that there is a grave difference between the blog's definition of truth and consequences and a worldly television show.

The Christian truth as we know it is found in John 14:6 where Jesus states "I am the way, the truth and the life no one comes to the Father, but by me."

There is a consequence for not receiving Jesus Christ into your life here on earth, being born again and saved from your sins. That consequence is spending eternity in hell. There is just no other way for a person to go to heaven, but through Jesus Christ. It is not Jesus plus something to get to heaven, it is only Jesus. Ask Him by faith to save you today from your sins and repent or turn away from the sin in your life. If you claim to be a Christian you need to be actively worshiping in local church somewhere where the Bible is taught and preached. There are no lone ranger Christians. Christians are commanded in Scripture not to forsake the assembling of others. (Hebrews 10:24,25)

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Reformation Day!

Are Some Meant to Perish?


The Apostle Peter clearly states that God is not willing that any should perish.
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance
(2 Peter 3:9)

How can we square this verse with predestination? If it is not the will of God to elect everyone unto salvation, how can the Bible then say that God is not willing that any should perish?
In the first place we must understand that the Bible speaks of the will of God in more than one way. For example, the Bible speaks of what we call God’s sovereign efficacious will. The sovereign will of God is that will by which God brings things to pass with absolute certainty. Nothing can resist the will of God in this sense. By his sovereign will he created the world. The light could not have refused to shine.
The second way in which the Bible speaks of the will of God is with respect to what we call his preceptive will. God’s preceptive will refers to his commands, his laws. It is God’s will that we do the things he mandates. We are capable of disobeying this will. We do in fact break his commandments. We cannot do it with impunity. We do it without his permission or sanction. Yet we do it. We sin.
A third way the Bible speaks of the will of God has reference to God’s disposition, to what is pleasing to him. God does not take delight in the death of the wicked. There is a sense in which the punishment of the wicked does not bring joy to God. He chooses to do it because it is good to punish evil. He delights in the righteousness of his judgment but is “sad” that such righteous judgment must be carried out. It is something like a judge sitting on a bench and sentencing his own son to prison.
Let us apply these three possible definitions to the passage in 2 Peter. If we take the blanket statement, “God is not willing that any should perish,” and apply the sovereign efficacious will to it, the conclusion is obvious. No one will perish. If God sovereignly decrees that no one should perish, and God is God, then certainly no one will ever perish. This would then be a proof text not for Arminianism but for universalism. The text would then prove too much for Arminians.
Suppose we apply the definition of the preceptive will of God to this passage? Then the passage would mean that God does not allow anyone to perish. That is, he forbids the perishing of people. It is against his law. If people then went ahead and perished, God would have to punish them for perishing. His punishment for perishing would be more perishing. But how does one engage in more perishing than perishing? This definition will not work in this passage. It makes no sense.
The third alternative is that God takes no delight in the perishing of people. This squares with what the Bible says elsewhere about God’s disposition toward the lost. This definition could fit this passage. Peter may simply be saying here that God takes no delight in the perishing of anyone.
Though the third definition is a possible and attractive one to use in resolving this passage with what the Bible teaches about predestination, there is yet another factor to be considered. The text says more than simply that God is not willing that any should perish. The whole clause is important: “but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”
What is the antecedent of any? It is clearly us. Does us refer to all of us humans? Or does it refer to us Christians, the people of God? Peter is fond of speaking of the elect as a special group of people. I think what he is saying here is that God does not will that any of us (the elect) perish. If that is his meaning, then the text would demand the first definition and would be one more strong passage in favor of predestination.
In two different ways the text may easily be harmonized with predestination. In no way does it support Arminianism. Its only other possible meaning would be universalism, which would then bring it into conflict with everything else the Bible says against universalism.

HT: R.C. Sproul