Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Evidence of True Faith

"Faith is not something dreamed, a human illusion, although this is what many people understand by the term. Whenever they see that it is not followed either by an improvement in morals or by good works, while much is still being said about faith, they fall into the error of declaring that faith is not enough, that we must do "works" if we are to become upright and attain salvation. The reason is that, when they hear the gospel, they miss the point; in their hearts, and out of their own resources, they conjure up an idea which they call "belief", which they treat as genuine faith. All the same, it is but a human fabrication, an idea without corresponding experience in the depths of the heart. It is therefore ineffective and not followed by a better kind of life."

"Faith however, is something that God effects in us. It changes us and we are reborn from God (John 1). Faith puts the old Adam to death and makes us quite different men in heart, mind, and in all our powers; and it is accompanied by the Holy Spirit. O, when it comes to faith, what a living, creative, active, powerful thing it is. It cannot do other than good at all times. It never waits to ask whether there is some good work to do, rather before the question is raised, it has done the deed, and keeps on doing it. A man not active in this way is a man without faith. He is groping about for faith and searching for good works, but knows neither what faith is nor what good works are. Nevertheless, he keeps on talking nonsense about faith and good works." ~ Martin Luther

"Faith without works is dead." ~ James 2:20

Our good works cannot save us however, they are the necessary validation in our lives that we have truly become born again. The one who claims to be a Christian and yet, their life consistently reflects that of the carnal world, has been deceived. Their belief rests only in a sinner's prayer they said as a child asking Jesus into their heart. This is why it is so important that preachers preach the word and that Christians present the gospel without watering it down or softening its message. God's grace is freely given to the humble yet, it is the Law that convicts us to the sorrow of our sin. Without a broken heart, a broken will, one cannot be saved. The intent of the gospel message is to bring us to repentance.

"Now, until a man confess his sin, and that with bitterness, it is a sign he loves it...A man will never leave sin till he find bitterness in it; and, if so, then he will be in bitterness for it." ~ Thomas Goodwin

"The gospel according to Jesus is the gospel according to His apostles. It is a small gate and a narrow road. It is free but it costs everything. And though it is appropriated by faith, it cannot fail to produce the fruit of true righteousness in the life and behavior of the believer." ~ John MacArthur

The Christian life should be one marked by spiritual growth where our faith is tested and strengthened by the struggles of life. Where we grow to become more sensitive to our sins, recognizing how offensive they are, being quick to repent and move on. The true follower of Jesus Christ strives for holiness and to live righteously not to prove how holy we are to ourselves, others or even God, but rather, out of our love for Him. True faith is demonstrated in obedience.

"What matters is not a momentary act of professing, but being persistently motivated by faith." ~ Ignatius, 1st Century Bishop of Antioch


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

"Are You a Church Worshipper?"

"In a recent Christian Post article, Hybels once again revealed the humanist nature of the infamous seeker-sensitive church growth movement by posing the question:

"Do we still believe the local church is the hope of the world?"

You see, many Christians might look at that and not realize they’ve been subjected to a dialectic question designed to alter their spiritual priorities and get them on-board an alternative agenda. This is what trained facilitators do under the radar in many churches today.

But I would ask: Is that where your hope lies – in the local church?

Do you believe your church can save the world?

Did it save you?"

read the entire article here...
"Are You A Church Worshipper?" by Paul Proctor

Every true follower of Jesus Christ should be involved in a local church however, that alone should not be where their hope rests. We are to be active members of the Body of Christ and not simply "sponges" who depend on the local church to feed them and keep them on the narrow path. The above article is a great reminder of what the Biblical model for church is and a wake-up to those who may have their hope focus out of order.


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Easy Street: The Broad Way

"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." ~ Matthew 7:13-14

"There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death" ~ Proverbs 16:25

"The broad way is certainly easier. There is no precipice. There is plenty of latitude for those who want to sample the moral smorgasbord offered by the crowd on this road. You can just stroll and roam. There are hardly any limitations, no curbs, no boundaries. There is tolerance of every conceivable sin- just as long as you say you love Jesus. Or as long as you are religious. Or whatever else you want to be."
~ John MacArthur ("The Gospel According to Jesus")

"Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there's still time to change the road you're on." ~ Led Zeppelin ("Stairway to Heaven")

The world wants to believe that all paths lead to heaven. They want options and they despise exclusivity because it goes against human nature; we want everything our own way. The narrow way to heaven is not about rules and legalism; it's about obedience to a new nature. The popular message today is tolerance & acceptance. Within this new attitude, there is no room (or tolerance) for the exclusivity of Jesus Christ. When someone calls themselves a Christian and yet, believes that there may be other ways to heaven besides Jesus, what does that say about their faith?

U2 has had a following of Christians for years because of the spiritual messages behind their songs. Bono has been elevated as a sort of spokesperson for Christianity because of his humanitarian efforts however, his position on the exclusivity of Jesus Christ says something completely different...While performing in concert with U2 back in 2005, Bono wearing a headband with the word "COEXIST" on it, stated the following:

"Jesus, Jew, Mohammed-all true. Jesus, Jew, Mohammed-all true."

Apparently, it's "cool" to be a Christian (like Bono) who accepts that there are other ways besides Jesus. This is the type of non-judgmental Christianity that the world likes unfortunately, it's not true.

How long before this verse is deemed hateful and intolerant?...

"I am the Way the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through Me." ~ John 14:6


Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Seeker-Friendly Gospel

(Q & A from John MacArthur at the "Shephereds' Conference- 2005")


"Absolutely. It is the new liberalism. It is the new liberalism! It’s no different than the old liberalism, which was a social gospel. That’s what this is, only it’s not a social gospel, because it doesn’t reach out to the poor. It’s not the down-and-outers; it’s the up-and-inners. It’s a psychological gospel. So, the psychological feel-good gospel is the new liberalism. Nobody’s going to say that they deny the Word of God; it’s just not “relevant.” It’s just not relevant.

I’ve said this many times: I can listen to a guy preach—put anybody in front of me—and I’ll tell you what his view of Scripture is by what he says. If he doesn’t preach out of the Bible, I know what his view of Scripture is, I don’t care what he says. I don’t care if he wants to die telling me he’s a believer in inerrancy, if he gets up and does not preach the Word of God, that’s his view of Scripture leaking all over the place. Look, every preacher preaches for impact, for effect, for result. You’re up there saying what you think is going to get you the best result. If you think it’s foolishness and fun n’ games and song n’ dance and sermonettes for Christianettes—if you think it’s that kind of stuff—that’s what you’re going to do; but if you know, as Al [Mohler] was saying, that the power is the truth, that God has, as we’ve heard all week, has invested his power, as R.C. [Sproul] said, in his Word, then that’s what you preach. I mean, it’s that simple! It comes down to this loss of preaching. And I’ll tell you, how do you know it’s the new liberalism? Because you can’t stop a seeker-friendly movement, because it’s going to be redefined, it’s going to be redefined, it’s going to be redefined… It’s relentlessly being redefined because the culture changes so fast in a media-driven society. It changes so fast!

You know, Schuller is the architect of this. Robert Schuller is the absolute father. The grandfather of the movement, who was a little bit below the radar, was Norman Vincent Peale. Norman Vincent Peale is a classic liberal. The primary impact that Norman Vincent Peale has had on the world is through his leading disciple, Robert Schuller, who said to me, “I can sign the confession of my denomination and make the words mean anything I want them to mean.” Well, that’s classic neo-orthodoxy—or liberalism (whichever).

So, you’ve got Norman Vincent Peale, who creates this kind of liberal, social gospel; his number one disciple, positive-thinker Robert Schuller; Robert Schuller develops this concept of the church many years ago, where he goes into Orange County and he goes door-to-door, passes out cards, and tells people to write down what they want a church to be, and then he gives them what they ask for. He said in a speech at N.R.B. many years ago, “If you want to know how to build a church, ask the community, and give them what they want.” His most famous disciple trained into that model is Bill Hybels, and the second is Rick Warren. Rick Warren says, himself, that when he left seminary, he drove right to the Crystal Cathedral and was mentored there.

So, there’s a flow going on here. And where is it going? It’s going toward the Emerging Church. That’s why you can have all those people—Rick Warren and Brian McLaren—way out on the edge of the Emergent Church, you can have all those people at the same conference in San Diego all speaking, and, in between, sessions on Yoga. If you just look at the roots of something—and look where it’s going: if you let the culture define the church, there’s no way to catch up. So, now you go to Schuller’s church, you wouldn’t find anybody whose hair wasn’t gray, because they had their little niche for that little cultural group, and they go to the grave with them. And the same is going to happen with the others and the others and the others… It’s not transcendent. It’s not trans-cultural. It’s not even beyond their tiny little chronological zone. And that’s the problem with it, because if it’s culturally defined, it is its own worst enemy; it’s planned obsolescence.

To me it’s a metaphor, like looking at Oral Roberts University—has anybody ever seen Oral Roberts University? It looks like a parking lot for old spaceships that came out of the sixties, doesn’t it? Because, in an effort to be really, really modern, you become immediately obsolete. I look at that and I think, “That’s what this is and it never can reach beyond its own limits, self-imposed.” So, the illusion of the seeker-friendly movement is that it has the potential to have the greatest impact. The truth of the matter is its impact is narrow and limited and, in many, many cases, superficial—but it gives the appearance of impact. But stripped of any depth and any real continuity in content and things that come out of the Word of God, it is it’s own worst enemy.

I will tell you this, there’s really only one thing that I want to do in my ministry. There’s only one obligation that I have and it is this: to show people that the Scripture is the Word of the Living God, to be adhered to. I don’t want them to think I’m the authority, I don’t want them to think the culture is the authority; I just want them to know this Word is the authority. Now, how do you convince people of that if you don’t ever teach it? People coming through those kinds of environments, have a superficial, once-over-lightly view of Scripture. The depth of it utterly escapes them. The simplest apparent paradox in theology knocks them for a loop. They can’t think deeply about things and they’re, therefore, sentenced to a life of battling the flesh without ever being armed with sound doctrine to deal with it. I’m not picking on anybody, I’m just saying, once you move away from the Word of God, in my definition that’s “liberalism,” if you like that word. “Compromise,” whatever."

((online source: John MacArthur- 2005 Shepherds' Conference))

Scripture references that refute the basic concepts behind the Seeker-Sensitive/Friendly Movement:

- "There is no one who seeks God" (Romans 3:10-12). On the contrary, it is God who seeks man (John 15:16)
- Unbelievers reject the truth and the one true God (Romans 1:18-23)
- The Gospel is supposed to offend the unbeliever in order to bring conviction of sin that leads to repentance (1 Cor. 14:24-25, John 6: 59-66).

For more on the seeker-friendly church model, check out this site:
"Current Trends in Evangelism: The Seeker Sensitive Movement"

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." ~ Romans 1:16

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is being avoided, softened and twisted today more than ever in an attempt to draw people into church or to fill a "God shaped hole". Throughout America there are churches embracing new ideas about how to "do" church and reach the unchurched, disenfranchised, seeker with a new & improved Gospel that isn't so offensive. A Gospel that invites people to "ask Jesus into your heart" without first dealing with the uncomfortable issues such as sin, God's wrath and repentance. Easy believism is NOT the Gospel that leads to genuine salvation