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What The Bible Says Good Samaritan's Penny Pulpit by Pastor Ed Rice
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His upbeat hits and worship collaborations are capturing younger listeners on social media. Some of the most popular music we hear in our Instagram and TikTok feeds comes from Forrest Frank, the independent artist and music producer known for his viral, feel-good songs.His beat-driven pop combines vibey grooves and infectious hooks in hits like “Up!” and “Good Day.”Frank was the top-ranked new artist on last year’s Billboard Christian charts, and his advice for fellow Christian musicians is this: Make good music, and the audience will follow.The 28-year-old has found a massive audience by leveraging his production abilities, social media savvy, and collaborative approach to music-making. But he’s confident his songs climb the charts on Spotify and trend on social platforms because they are good songs, not because he’s figured out how to hack the algorithms.“If your content’s not doing well, the song’s not good enough,” the 28-year-old said on YTH Nation, a podcast by the youth ministry at Elevation Church.The Waco, Texas-based musician and Baylor University grad is half of the popular duo Surfaces, and he has teamed up with an array of popular Christian artists including Elevation, Maverick City Music, Lecrae, and Hulvey.A common theme of Forrest Frank’s social media content is debunking the perception that Christian music is boring or corny, or that young people won’t listen to music with faith-forward lyrics. His success seems to be proving that there is a large cohort of Gen-Z Christians looking for music that speaks openly and unapologetically about Jesus.One of his viral reels shows Frank and Hulvey leading a passionate crowd of young adults in worship at a concert with ...Continue reading...
The champion of “native missions” trained more than 100,000 evangelists but got in trouble for financial mismanagement.Athanasius Yohannan, who built one of the world’s largest mission organizations on the idea that Western Christians should support “native missionaries” but got in trouble for financial irregularities and dishonest fundraising, died on May 8. He was 74 and got hit by a car while walking along the road near his ministry headquarters in Texas.Born Kadapilaril Punnoose Yohannan and known for most of his ministry as K. P., Yohannan founded Gospel for Asia in 1979. Over the next 45 years, the organization trained more than 100,000 people to preach the gospel and plant and pastor churches in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and other places in Southeast Asia, according to a recent ministry report. Gospel for Asia raised as much as $93 million in a year and in 2005 reported it was supporting about 14,500 indigenous evangelists and pastors in same-culture and near-culture ministry. Christians in the US were asked to give $30 per month to support them.“If we evangelize the world’s lost billions … it will be through native missions,” Yohannan wrote for CT. “The native missionary is far more effective than the expatriate. The national already knows the language and is already part of the culture. In many instances, he or she can go places where outsiders cannot go.”Yohannan’s death was mourned by Gospel for Asia, the church that he started and served as metropolitan bishop, and prominent political leaders in India.“He will be remembered for his service to society and emphasis on improving the quality of life of the downtrodden,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote on social media. “May his soul rest in peace.”Both the governor of Kerala and the ...Continue reading...
? Temple Baptist Church - 3-24-2024Psalm 119:97-104? Introduction:? A. Psalm 119 contains 176 verses with 22 stanzas and 8 verses per stanza with each verse in a stanza beginning with the corresponding letter of the Hebrew alphabet. An acrostic.? B. Tonight, I want to look at the 13th? stanza, verses 97-104, and the Hebrew letter MEM.? 1. This letter MEM has two different forms – the regular letter? מ, which is open at the bottom? and the special final letter? ם, which is closed. I wanted to mention this without spending a lot of time on it. We are not here tonight to learn the Hebrew language. We are here to convey a simple truth.? 2. The regular MEM? מ, represents everything that we understand while the special letter MEM? ם, represents everything that we do not comprehend.? 3. In Genesis, chapter 1, we find both uses of MEM in one verse.? In the story of the Creation, the text mentions that God separated the waters above the firmament and below it. The first? MEM? represents the waters above the firmament, which we and the second? MEM? the waters below the firmament. Therefore, this letter is connected to the element of water.? Genesis 1:7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.? 4. God made a division between the waters above the firmament, which we can see, and the waters below the firmament which we can only see that which is above ground with the water underground not seen.? 5. There are parts of the Bible that we know and understand. There are spiritual truths found in the Bible that are later grasped through continuation of study of the Scriptures.? 6. The numerical value of MEM is 40, an important number in the Bible as it signifies ripeness and maturity.? a) The life of Moses was split into three segments of 40 years. Each segment of 40 was a stage of development in his life and ministry.? b) The rains of the Great Flood lasted for 40 days.? c) Moses stayed on Mount Sinai for 40 days to receive the Law.? d) Jonah the prophet told the people of Ninveh that they had 40 days to repent.? e) The Children of Israel wandered in the desert for 40 years.? f) The LORD Jesus fasted 40 days before the Mount of Temptation.? C. MEM represents water. In this portion of the 119th? Psalm, I want to look at the Word of God in relationship to our spiritual understanding. Many of God's people have only head knowledge of God's Word but, in life, the Word of God has little practical use. Putting the Word of God into practice, especially in decision making.? D. In your Bible, water represents the Word of God.? Ephesians 5:26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,? John 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.? John 4:10-14 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. (11) The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? (12) Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? (13) Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: (14) But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.? E. The common thread in these 8 verses is learning.? Proverbs 4:5-7 Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth. (6) Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee. (7) Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.? 1. Verse 97. Knowledge. “O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.” The motivation for growing in God's Word is found in this verse. There are two aspects vital to our learning:? a. Love. “O how love I thy law! The words “O how” are exclamatory. This is a strong statement exemplifying the strength of “love I thy law!” Though punctuation is not a part of the actual text, the exclamation point at the end of the statement agrees with the wording. We will never gain knowledge of the Word of God unless we love the Word of God.? Job 23:11-12 My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined. (12) Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.? ? b. Meditation. “It is my meditation all the day.” Another key to knowledge of Scripture is meditation. Emersed in the Bible! Controlled by the Bible. As we saturate our minds and hearts with the Word of God, the Spirit of God can bring the Word to our remembrance when needed.? Isaiah 55:8-11 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. (9) For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. (10) For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: (11) So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.? c. So, what's the problem in our day? Two-fold:? 1) It is a Pew Problem.? Hosea 4:1 Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.? Hebrews 5:11-12 Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. (12) For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.? 2) It is a Pulpit Problem.? Hosea 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.? 2. Verse 98. Wisdom. “Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies.” Spiritual wisdom is greater than the wisdom of the world and will overcome the wicked.? a. The Master. “Thou … hast made me” is key to adding wisdom to knowledge. By my definition, wisdom is the right application of knowledge. When we love and meditate in God's Word, God the Holy Ghost will teach us how to use it in our daily lives and future days.? b. The Median. “through thy commandments”? Instead of the wisdom of the world which is good to some degree, the wisdom that comes through the application of the Word of God which is all good.? 3. Verse 99-102. Understanding. “Spiritual Engineering.” Knowledge is learning facts; wisdom it learning to put what you learn to work; Understanding is knowing why they work. What does understanding of God's commandment do?? a. Verse 98. They make you wiser than your enemies. You are not ignorant of Satan's devices.? b. Verse 99. They make you wise enough to be an example in both word and truth. You eventually become a teacher of teachers.? c. Verse 100. They make you wiser because you do not follow the wrong paths others before you have trodden.? d. Verse 101. They make you wise enough to know that sinfulness brings about a woeful end.? e. Verse 102. They make you wise enough to not think that you have “arrived” and are foolproof. Satan often attacks us in our strengths in stead of our weaknesses. Never get too wise to be smart!? 4. Verses 103-104. Never get to the place where you are no longer a learner. Often, teachers quit being students and become spiritually stale.? a. Keep the Word of God Sweet so as not to get Stale.? b. Keep the Word of God Faithfully to prevent going into the False Way.
The Patient SoulwinnerJerry FerrsoMon, 10/23/2023 - 13:06 tractor on a farm Patience! Does any Christian not need to grow in this area? We want our questions answered immediately, our trials resolved quickly, and every irritation removed yesterday. It doesn't matter if we are at Costco trying to figure out which checkout line will be the fastest or at a restaurant wanting our food at lightning speed. We have an agenda. This impatience can creep into our soulwinning as well. We want to share the gospel and see instant fruit, and we grow weary when we don't see the results that we desire in the time frame that we desire them. Yet, God doesn't seem to be in the hurry that we are in. I am often reminded of the truth that is uncovered in 2 Peter 3:9: “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” I'm thankful the Lord is patient in His dealings with me. I'm thankful He gave me time to hear the gospel—multiple times—and trust Him. May we exhibit that same spirit toward those whom we long to see to come to the saving knowledge of Jesus.One of the ways that we express trust in God and in the power of the gospel is by committing to the process of a harvest. To be clear, I've never lived on a farm. (I haven't even been successful in planting a garden.) But I do know that farmers don't just plant seed and see a harvest tomorrow. They participate in a process that creates favorable conditions for the seed to flourish. The gospel is a seed, and God calls us to plant it. But rather than becoming discouraged when we don't see immediate results, we should commit to the process of cultivating, planting, watering, and harvesting. CultivatingBefore a farmer plants a field, he takes time to prepare the soil by plowing and fertilizing. We do something similar in our witness when we establish a friendship relationship with the one with whom we want to share the gospel. I'm not suggesting a long, drawn-out process—just that we take a few minutes to build rapport, treating them as someone we care about rather than simply another set of ears to hear our message. The best way I have discovered to do this is by asking questions. These questions will vary with each person, but they should convey genuine interest. Through this “pre-conversation,” the person with whom you are talking begins to feel comfortable. They begin to “let you in,” as the invisible barrier between you begins to disappear. So, have the patience, and take the time to cultivate a relationship. We see an example of this in Jesus' conversation with the woman at the well. Rather than immediately sharing the gospel with her, He first connected with her as a person and even created a curiosity for what He had to tell her: “Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. . . . Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water” (John 4:7, 9–10).PlantingThe whole purpose of cultivating soil is to plant seeds. We catch a glimpse of this in the parable of the sower: “And other [seed] fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold” (Luke 8:8). Ultimately, it is the Spirit of God who prepares people's hearts to receive the seed of the gospel. The Spirit does, however, use people—like you and me—in this process. And an essential part of this process is that we actually plant the seed—that we share the gospel. “For whosoever shall call 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?” (Romans 10:13–14). Watering As diligent and earnest as we may be in cultivating and planting, many people do not trust Christ the first time they hear the gospel. Some people, like some seeds, require time. Some people need to work through questions and ideas that have filled their minds through the years. This is where patience on our part comes in. If the person doesn't immediately trust Christ, are we going to leave the “field” of their life, unwilling to wait for the harvest? Or are we going to prayerfully and persistently water the seed? This persistence is often called “follow up,” and I believe it is essential to a fruitful soulwinning ministry. Our church takes these efforts so seriously that we emphasize them in our outreach program and encourage our church family to practice it in all their gospel outreach endeavors—including when witnessing to friends, family, and coworkers. If someone has listened to the gospel—including by attending a service at your church—but has not made a decision to trust Christ, don't give up on them. Rather, water the seed by continued prayer and ongoing outreach. Invite them again to church. Offer to answer questions. Stop by to visit with another printed gospel resource. Send texts and notes to let them know you're praying for them. Keep inviting them to special events at church, and continue with a readiness to share the gospel. Most of all, pray diligently for God to work in their lives. HarvestingHave you ever shared the gospel with someone and the person received Christ as their Savior immediately? When this happens to me, I usually walk away thinking, “Wow! That person was ready to be saved!” But do you know why they were ready? Usually it is because someone else put in all the labor. I may have had the opportunity to see the person trust Christ, but their “instant” decision was the result of the previous witness of a coworker, prayers of a grandmother, or the gospel efforts for someone else in their life. Others did all the cultivating, planting, and watering. I came along, and God used me to do the harvesting. Jesus described this scenario to His disciples just after the woman at the well left to bring everyone she knew to hear Christ: “One soweth, and another reapeth. I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours” (John 4:37–38). If you aren't currently seeing the harvest you would like from your gospel witness, don't get discouraged. Just be sure that you are faithfully cultivating, planting, and watering. God will tend to the seed, and He may even use someone else to do the harvesting. However, you'll be rewarded in Heaven for your faithful work as one of the Lord's laborers. Category Outreach & Discipleship Tags Soulwinning Outreach
The Woke Agenda and Its Influence on Churches and CollegesDr. Paul ChappellWed, 03/29/2023 - 13:30 Woke Agenda and Its Influence Over the past several years, the term woke has been used to describe people who have been awakened to the injustices of society, particularly in regards to racism. Many Christians, committed to displaying God's heart for the oppressed, have eagerly embraced the term.The “woke movement,” however, has grown much larger than the early definition of the term. There is an agenda driving it that is anti-Christian and steeped in anti-God philosophies.A working definition of wokism is impossible since even its strongest proponents apply the word in fluid settings. As defined by Merriam-Webster, to be woke means to be “aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice).”1 In a broader, more practical sense, however, author Owen Strachan pointed out,Wokeness is first and foremost a mindset and posture. The term itself means that one is “awake” to the true nature of the world when so many are asleep. In the most specific terms, this means one sees the comprehensive inequity of our social order and strives to highlight power structures in society that stem from racial privilege.2Conversations and ideas with people who subscribe to woke philosophies have reached far beyond racism to involve any topics related to inequality including social justice, sexism, economic philosophies, and LGBTQ acceptance.The way in which Christians address these issues relates directly to their view of Scripture. Second Timothy 3:16–17 asserts, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”A Christian with a high view of the accuracy, sufficiency, and authority of Scripture sees every social topic in light of the relative theological positions and practical instructions of God's Word. A mature Christian is discerning of the underlying philosophies that drive these discussions and holds each up to Scripture.Christians with a weak view of Scripture are more likely to allow the culture to both describe the problem and prescribe the solution. These Christians are more likely to suggest that basic Bible truths don't apply in particular settings or that the biblical writers did not fully understand such modern issues. Often, Christians who don't use the plainly-stated truths of Scripture as their compass will instead build subjective arguments based on “God's heart for ” or how they believe Jesus would respond to various areas of need.This undiscerning attitude is furthered by prominent Christian leaders who have jumped on the woke bandwagon. They may have been drifting from previously-held positions, but their recent statements clearly identify with the woke movement. For example,Andy Stanley, pastor of a nondenominational, multi-campus megachurch in Atlanta, recently spoke positively of gay Christians who attend church as “having more faith than I do.”3Rick Warren, the founding pastor of Saddleback Church, a Southern Baptist, multi-campus megachurch in Anaheim, recently ordained women as pastors and, more recently, defended this position as something more churches should do.4A recent article pointed to three Christian leaders who have become outspoken on woke-related issues and commented, “The direction [Russell] Moore, [David] French, and [Beth] Moore are walking is not simply traditional evangelicalism, but a form of cultural accommodation dressed as convictional religion. The result is a religious respectability that promotes national unity, liberalism, and wokeism under the rhetorical guise of love for neighbor.”5These unrelated examples point out the pervasiveness of woke philosophies in the church today.Biblical leaders must develop the spiritual discernment to cut through the woke rhetoric to understand the philosophies behind current issues and allow Scripture to shape their response. I hope this article is an aid to that end.In the next few pages, we will look at six woke-related issues, briefly describing each and bringing scriptural truths to bear. Additionally, I have included questions to help form discussions on each topic.Most of these topics employ terms not directly used in Scripture (e.g. “social justice” or “intersectionality”). My desire here is not to split hairs over terms or to insinuate that everything touching a given term is ungodly. My goal is simply to hold up the underlying philosophies to Scripture and encourage you to stand on thoroughly-biblical convictions.With that background, let's get started.Social JusticeEvery Bible-believing Christian desires justice for the oppressed (Deuteronomy 24:14–21, Micah 6:8). But the social justice movement of today has more to do with insisting that categories of people, as opposed to individuals, have not received justice over time and thus should be treated differently today—even when there are not immediate instances of injustice in an individual's life.Additionally, some of the categories commonly cited for need in social justice are drawn from the whole or subsegments of LGBT identities, effectively equating different convictions regarding same-sex marriage or transgender inclusion with racism or other forms of discrimination over immutable characteristics, such as ethnicity. There is a real push through the social justice movement of today to undermine the basic definitions of male and female as well as the institution of marriage. Many who are driving the social justice agenda have openly-stated goals for the destruction of the nuclear family and the promotion of an LBGT agenda.One example is from the leaders of the Black Lives Matter organization that came to prominence after the death of George Floyd.6 These leaders not only sought the demise of the nuclear family, but they openly shared their Marxist ideals.7 That woke-leaning Christians don't see through to the anti-Christian agendas at play is deeply concerning.An additional area of concern to the social justice movement is the way in which it conflates helping marginalized people with the sharing of the gospel. There is value to serving one's community, and there is definitely value to reaching out to people who are oppressed or marginalized in a community. But we must not equate these types of care with sharing the gospel. The Bible is clear that faith for salvation comes through hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17). Yet, Timothy Keller, a pastor and author seems to equate the two. (Interestingly, Keller, a Christian apologist holds that God may have created the world through the evolutionary process.8) In Keller's church philosophy book Center Church, he writes, “Ministry in which Christians sacrificially serve the common good of the city is not only biblical but a necessary context for any convincing call to believe in Jesus.”9 In the same section he says that we cannot change culture simply “through lots of conversions.”10 This is simply not true. Scripture teaches that the truly converted become “a new creature” (2 Corinthians 5:17). As someone grows in their faith, everything about their life will change, including developing biblical viewpoints on moral and social issues. Those who insist that a focus on social justice must accompany the gospel actually do the gospel itself an injustice by seemingly suggesting that conversion is not the answer.“Social justicians” often speak of redeeming the culture. Yet the Son of man came “to seek and to save” lost people (Luke 19:10). The “woke gospel” is another gospel, not the gospel of the New Testament. Instead of leading unsaved people to Christ, it leads people to social causes, some of which are anti-biblical. I have seen church buildings from Charlotte to San Fransisco displaying Black Lives Matter signs and rainbow flags, but those same churches are not sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ and calling sinners to repentance. I am reminded of Paul's warning in Galatians 1:6, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel.”Biblically defined, the gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:1–5). It is the satisfaction of the justice of God in the person of Christ paying for our sin, and it is the best news we can give to anyone who is not saved. We must not trivialize the actual gospel by hitching every social issue or injustice to it.Social justice, similar to the “social gospel” of the previous generation, is really a repackaging of liberal theology being presented as a substitute for the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19–20).Questions:Why is it important to distinguish between the gospel and social issues?Is salvation through Christ enough? Or does preaching the gospel require preaching social, racial, economic, etc. redemption as well?In what ways would a Christian with a biblically-shaped worldview differ from a woke agenda on social justice? Gender Distinction, Sexual Orientation, and Same-Sex MarriageThe front line of the anti-God agenda in the West today is being waged on the battleground of LGBT issues. There is clearly a concentrated effort in secular society to overturn the cultural norms concerning gender, sexuality, and marriage. From the state recognition of same-sex marriage, to the drag queen “story hours” taking place in public libraries,11 to the inclusion of biological males who identify as females in women's sports,12 the LGBT movement is rolling full-steam ahead, even if it means crushing children, women, and society as a whole in its agenda.In his book The Gathering Storm, Albert Mohler insightfully wrote,The church of Jesus Christ faces an unprecedented challenge: the collision between it and a new sexual ethic, a collision between revelation and revolution. The evolution is a sexual one, and it is indeed a revolution, demanding a complete reordering of society and civilization.13What is most surprising to me in all of this is that woke Christians are buying into it. In an effort to be accepting of people who struggle they have become affirming of sin. Some go so far as to deny that Scripture addresses these issues at all. They suggest that Jesus and Paul didn't really understand or address the modern understandings of sexual orientation or transgenderism.14 In recently-surfaced comments, Pastor Andy Stanley called the clear passages on this issue “clobber passages.”15But the Bible is clear here. In Genesis 1, God created human life in His image and designated male and female. In Genesis 2, He ordained marriage. In the New Testament, Jesus referred to both of these chapters as He said, “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?” (Matthew 19:4–5). Romans 1:24–28 condemns homosexuality in the clearest terms. In 1 Corinthians 6:9, Paul includes such acts in a list of sins. Furthermore, the Bible teaches that true conversion leads to turning away from sin. “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him” (1 John 2:4–5).Yet, Christians who profess to believe and preach the Bible struggle to take a clear position on these issues.For example, the senior associate pastor of First Baptist Orlando in Florida read in a public church service a list of the variety of people attending and serving in the church. In these comments he said, “We have transgender, LGBTQ, straight, single, married, divorced, and cohabitating people. These same people attend, listen, serve, grow, and give.”16 I can appreciate the desire to let unsaved people with sinful lives know that the gospel is for them, but to indicate that people openly practicing—and even identifying themselves according to—unrepentant sin should become or continue as faithful congregants is, according to 1 Corinthians 5, a position that is foreign to the New Testament.Not only does First Baptist Orlando allow people living in open sexual sin to be members in good standing, however, it also allows these members to baptize new converts. Recent social media posts show Joe Mills, an openly gay man, currently “married” to another man, performing baptisms at First Baptist Church Orlando.17The problem is not ambiguity in Scripture. The problem is that Bible-believing Christians are either too cowardly or too confused to clearly state what the Bible actually says. In an effort to not offend, woke-leaning Christians take a position that these topics call for a more “nuanced” view.18Christians must study and come to firm convictions on what the Bible says about these issues. It is not unloving to say the truth to a world in need of a Savior.Questions:Do you believe Scripture is clear on its commands concerning sexual sins? Do you believe it addresses homosexuality and gender distinction clearly?Should a church welcome members who are engaged in any sexual activity outside of marriage?What is the most loving approach for a Christian in regards to someone who deals with same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria? Egalitarianism and Women Being Ordained for MinistryIn the 1970s Gloria Steinem used the phrase “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle” to encapsulate and popularize the philosophy behind feminism. In an attempt to counter the unbiblical ideas embedded in feminism, biblical Christians coined the term complementarianism in the 1980s.19 The idea was to encapsulate the equality of men and women while differentiating their God-given roles in particular settings. The term was new, but the truths behind it are as old as Scripture.The New Testament is clear on the intrinsic value and spiritual worth of women. Both men and women are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), and both are equal in Christ through salvation: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).But the New Testament is also clear that God gave men and women different roles in marriage (1 Peter 3:7) and in the church. Regarding the church, the Bible gives straightforward directions in both 1 Timothy 2:12 and 1 Corinthians 14:35: “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” “And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.” My wife Terrie is an avid student of God's Word and a capable Bible teacher. She has spoken to ladies over the years and has occasionally given a testimony of thanksgiving in our church assembly. But scripturally, neither she nor I believe it is a woman's place to teach or preach the Word of God in a mixed congregation.These views are not new and have been held by biblical Christians since the first century. In more recent years, however, woke or woke-leaning Christians are using the term egalitarian to describe a position that insists that men and women not only have equal value but also hold equal or interchangeable roles in all settings, including the home and church.This egalitarian position has set the stage for woke pastors whose previous theological convictions were complimentarian to ordain women to pastoral roles in ministry.20 Rick Warren, who was one of the leaders of the “seeker-sensitive movement” of the '90s, has been one of the most vocal to recently ordain women,21 even though this was not his position for his previous decades of ministry. After being disfellowshipped from the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) over his new position, Warren was interviewed by Russell Moore, editor in chief of Christianity Today and previous president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. In the interview, Warren used poor exegesis to defend his culturally-popular views22 and stated he intends to seek to have the SBC decision overturned.23 But it's not just Warren. Other woke-leaning pastors have been quite willing to virtue signal their egalitarian views by inviting their wives to preach on occasion and making little or no distinction between themselves and their wives as pastors.Throughout the New Testament, we see women engaged in meaningful roles of ministry within the church. (See, for example, Acts 16:40, Acts 18:2, and Romans 16:1–2, 7.) When Christians cave to the accommodating stance of egalitarianism, they minimize the significant aspects of ministry God has given to women in the church.Questions:Do you believe Scripture differentiates between the roles of men and women in marriage and ministry? Do you believe women can biblically hold the title of “pastor”? Racism and Critical Race Theory Closely tied to woke philosophies is an adherence to Critical Race Theory (CRT). To once again quote Merriam-Webster, CRT refers to “the idea that race is a sociological rather than biological designation, and that racism pervades society and is fostered and perpetuated by the legal system.”24Racism is an ugly sin. Genesis 1:27 tells us that God made every person in His image, and Acts 17:25–26 affirms that we all have equal value in His sight. We are all of the same race—a fallen human race in need of a Savior (Romans 3:23–26). All of us come to God the same way—through Christ. Thus, the ground is level at the foot of the cross, and within the body of Christ, there is to be no favoritism (Colossians 3:11). The New Testament strongly condemns prejudice (James 2:8–9).The premise of CRT, however, is that “the very concept of race was constructed in order to benefit whites at the expense of people of color.”25 A result of this approach is that “Even if a white person has never had a genuinely racist thought or he has repented of past racism, he is still a racist, white supremacist, because he is white and belongs to the majority.”26This philosophy distorts the meaning of racism, redefining it from a sin of the heart to a result of one's skin color. Furthermore, this philosophy makes reconciliation with other believers and unity within a church impossible because it suggests that white church members will always be guilty of racism, not to mention the fact that non-white members cannot be guilty of racism. This is not only ridiculous, but it is actually sinister. It is ripping a real sin apart from its moral definition and making it responsible for all the ills of society.For a real-life example of how this plays out, here is a transcript from Matthew Hall, the former dean of Boyce College at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary from 2016-2019, as well as the former provost and senior vice president of academic administration at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary from 2019-2022, and also a former research fellow for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission from 2014-2022. In comments made as the guest of the Coffee and Cream podcast in 2018, Hall spoke to racial issues:I am a racist, okay, so if that freaks you out, if you think the worst thing somebody can call you is a racist, then you're not thinking biblically, because guess what, like, I'm gonna struggle with racism and white supremacy until the day I die and get my glorified body and in a completely renewed and sanctified mind. Because I am immersed in a culture where I benefit from racism all the time.27A few years ago, a pastor prayed at Baylor University's commencement exercises and denounced “a planet with too many straight, white men like me behind the steering wheel.”28 This type of virtue signaling is becoming more common even in evangelical circles.No one—especially no Christian—should think less of or despairingly toward someone because of their ethnicity, skin color, or background. And no one—especially no Christian—should assume they know the condition of another's heart based on his or her skin color.Questions:Does racism necessarily coincide with ethnicity or skin color? How did the churches of the New Testament experience and address racism and prejudice? (See Acts 10, Acts 15, and James 2.) Is their approach sufficient today?Intersectionality The idea behind intersectionality is something like a CRT-based point system in which you receive more points for the greater number of minority groups to which you belong. Or you could think of it as a Venn diagram with circles representing various oppressed or minority groups overlapping, creating an “intersectional” center that represents the most highly-oppressed. For instance, according to intersectionality, a straight white male would be considered to belong to three groups with no oppression (straight, white, and male) whereas a lesbian African-American female would be a highly-oppressed person belonging to three groups that experience oppression.Intersectionality divides the world into oppressors and victims. These divisions are built around group identities rather than personal experiences. And because there is no real way to right the wrongs of each group, intersectionality tends toward noisy virtue signaling without encouraging leaders to roll up their sleeves to discern and resolve underlying issues at play, preferring instead to perpetuate a sense of ongoing victimhood.Additionally, intersectionality gives victim groups the moral high ground based simply on the oppression they have suffered. This obliterates right and wrong in the biblical or moral sense, replacing it with victimization or oppression.One author described it this way:In the worldview of ideological social justice, authority is conferred, not by wisdom, age, position, or experience—but by victim status. Claims of oppression and victimization based on a subjective “lived experience” must be believed without question. The more intersectional victim-boxes one can check, the greater the moral authority. The greater the authority, the greater the power.29Concerning victimization, the Bible tells us that God personally cares for the oppressed (Psalm 9:9, 146:7). Jesus Himself “was oppressed, and he was afflicted” (Isaiah 53:7). In the Old Testament, God gave laws to Israel to prohibit taking advantage of vulnerable people such as foreigners, widows, fatherless, and the poor (Exodus 22:21–27). The Old Testament instructs, “Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow” (Isaiah 1:17). Likewise, the New Testament commands Christians to care for those in need and specifically to “visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction” (James 1:27).The contrast between intersectionality and a biblical approach to oppression is threefold: First, the categories for concern are specific to personal experience rather than to a broad group (e.g. being a widow versus being a woman or being fatherless versus having a particular skin color). Second, the biblical instructions are given to protect against actual crimes and to relieve actual suffering rather than to perpetuate labels of victimhood. And finally, Scripture—not categories of victimization—provides the moral authority for what is right or wrong. There are real victims in our fallen world. There are countless hearts shattered by sin (their own or others) and suffering who are in need of God's love. Biblical Christians care to relieve their suffering. That relief does not come through faulty philosophies of victimhood but through the forgiveness offered through the glorious gospel of Christ and the grace given through the precious promises of His Word. For those who are in bondage to sin, Christ promises, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). To those who know Christ, He promises overcoming power in a trouble-filled world: “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).Questions:From a biblical standpoint, what concerns arise by including the LGBT community in groups of oppression? In what ways might people who struggle in these areas actually be oppressed, and what is a biblical approach to healing?In what ways does intersectionality create victimhood out of sinful practices?Do you believe the gospel and God's Word are sufficient to address the needs of the oppressed?Anti-Capitalism and Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) For reasons that seem more philosophical than practical, those who are woke are against free-market capitalism. This hatred for capitalism and the free market is part of what has given rise to Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) in financial sectors. ESG investing firms, banks, and government policies require those with whom they do business to support environmental causes, affirm anti-christian social stances, and maintain hiring quotas that are LGBT affirming.Not only are these philosophies unbiblical, but they are economically dangerous, as was seen in the recent collapse of the Silicon Valley Bank (SVB). It wasn't until the aftermath of this bank's collapse that customers learned how ESG partially led to its demise. Due to woke hiring practices, only one member of the board of directors held previous experience in investment banking.30 And while the bank was tanking, its head of risk assessment was launching and leading LGBTQ programs instead of righting the ship.31 Additionally, before its shutdown, the bank “dropped an ESG report that outlined the company's focus on climate change.”32The dangers of ESG, however, are larger than the failure of a single bank or company. There is an underlying agenda to use ESG policies to strong-arm ordinary citizens into woke causes. For instance, during Covid lockdowns, those who protested against government policies in Canada had their bank accounts frozen.33 Already some Christian institutions are finding a need to switch banks because their accounts have been canceled for unexplained reasons.34 I believe that in the future, companies and churches that don't cooperate with ESG values will have their accounts canceled in greater number. It's possible that the ESG agreements will become a “mark or brand” businesses will be forced to take if they will get contracts and rates amenable to their success.Proponents of ESG dislike capitalism, claiming that it is systemically racist. If these claims were true, there would be good reason to look for another system. But these claims are not true, as author Owen Strachan points out: “Though woke leaders seek to replace the free market with state-controlled systems that will yield ‘equity' as they see it, the free market is actually a tremendous engine for good for all peoples. While not impervious to manipulation…the free market has fundamentally changed the world, lifting people across the world out of serfdom into freedom.”35 He continues with helpful statistics and details explaining how racism, such as slavery in the United States, actually hurts rather than helps capitalism wherever it is or has been practiced.36Scripture makes a direct connection between labor and provision: “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). The Bible instructs us to labor so that we might have and be able to give to others: “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth” (Ephesians 4:28). The New Testament strongly condemns men who do not provide for their household: “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (1 Timothy 5:8). Economic systems that reward diligent labor with personal ownership of the fruits of that labor are to be commended. Christians who care for those in need should be discerning to see the woke hatred of capitalism for the pro-socialism agenda that is driving it. Although socialism promises to help the poor, it proposes this help based on other people's money and by building a larger government that will ultimately crush the poor. In reality, socialism has devastated the people and the economy of every country where it has been thoroughly implemented.37Questions:How does Scripture inform our view of money and economies? Every human system has weaknesses. What do you see as the greatest weaknesses in capitalism and socialism? ConclusionThere is a real need in our day for biblical Christians to be alert to worldly philosophies that masquerade as truth. I am concerned for the future orthodoxy of Christians who seek influence and ideas from those who are swayed by woke ideas. The practice of churches that exemplify woke and social justice philosophies today reveal their consumption of the “philosophy and vain deceit” spoken of in Colossians 2:8: “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”John Adams, second president of the United States, pointed out, “It is the duty of the clergy to accommodate their discourses to the times, to preach against such sins as are most prevalent, and recommend such virtues as are most wanted.”38Christian leaders today must be willing to clearly and unapologetically state what the Bible says. They must be willing to call sin what it is and must be clear in proclaiming the gospel through Jesus Christ.Scripture commands us that we are to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3). As I have attempted to point out in these pages, the modern woke agenda is significant to “the faith” because it undermines the biblical understanding of such central truths as sin, forgiveness, and the gospel itself.If we are to make a difference in our world today, we must, like the apostle Paul, be willing to stand for truth under the stigma of the cross even when it seems strange to the world.“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).Dr. Paul Chappell has served as the pastor of Lancaster Baptist Church in Lancaster, California, for thirty-seven years. He and his wife Terrie have been married for forty-two years and have four married children serving the Lord in ministry.lancasterbaptist.orgEndnotesMerriam-Webster, s.v. “woke,” accessed March 22, 2023, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/woke.Owen Strachan, Christianity and Wokeness (Washington DC: Salem Books, 2021), 8.Adam Page, “What on earth…,” Twitter, January 23, 2023, https://twitter.com/AdamPage85/status/1617522150499577856.Russell Moore, “Rick Warren Reflects on His Legacy,” Christianity Today, March 8, 2023, https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/podcasts/russell-moore-show/rick-warren-legacy-saddleback-sbc-purpose-driven-life.html.Kylee Griswold, “Russell Moore Won't Celebrate Dobbs Because He'd Have To Admit Pro-Trump Christians Are Good At Loving Their Neighbors,” The Federalist, June 29, 2022, “https://thefederalist.com/2022/06/29/russell-moore-wont-celebrate-dobbs-because-hed-have-to-admit-pro-trump-christians-are-good-at-loving-their-neighbors/.Early in the wake of Floyd's death, blacklivesmatter.com included stated objectives on their homepage to “disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure,” “foster a queer‐affirming network,” and “do the work required to dismantle cisgender privilege.” I detailed this in an article titled “Counter-Cultural Christians Needed,” published July 2, 2020 (https://paulchappell.com/2020/07/02/counter-culturalchristians-needed/). The statements were still on blacklivesmatter.com at that time.The group was founded by Patrisse Khan-Callours, Alisha Garza, and Opal Tometi, who are self-described Marxists. Answering an interviewer's question about BLM's ability to organize, Callours said, “We actually do have an ideological frame. Myself and Alicia in particular, were trained organizers. We are trained Marxists. We are super versed on ideological theories.” Patrisse's book When They Call You a Terrorist also references this as she described how she developed her current ideas: “I read, I study, adding Mao, Marx and Lenin to my knowledge of hooks . . . .” See Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele, When They Call You a Terrorist (New York: Saint Martin's Griffin, 2017), Kindle edition.Tim Keller, “Creation, Evolution, and Christian Laypeople,” BioLogos, February 23, 2012, https://biologos.org/articles/creation-evolution-and-christian-laypeople.Timothy Keller, Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012), 291.Ibid.Charles Creitz, “Drag queen story hour slammed as ‘sexualizing children' after Maryland library hosts interactive event: Drag queen story time events for children are part of a growing trend across the country,” Fox News, October 28, 2022, https://www.foxnews.com/media/drag-queen-story-hour-slammed-sexualizing-children-maryland-library-hosts-interactive-event.David Gortler, “Allowing Biological Males in Women's Sports is Scientifically Unsound,” Newsweek, October 6, 2022, https://www.newsweek.com/allowing-biological-males-womens-sports-scientifically-unsound-opinion-1748900.R. Albert Mohler Jr., The Gathering Storm (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2020), 87.“Revisionist Gay Theology: Did God Really Say..?” Focus on the Family, July 29, 2019, https://www.focusonthefamily.com/get-help/revisionist-gay-theology-did-god-really-say/.Adam Page, “What on earth…,” Twitter, January 23, 2023, https://twitter.com/AdamPage85/status/1617522150499577856.“Prominent Southern Baptist Church Brags That Transgenders and Abortionists Serve in Their Church,” YouTube video, 00:37, posted by “The Dissenter,” February 7, 2022,Open, “Gay-Married” Homosexual Man Baptizes Other People at First Baptist Orlando, Disntr, March 13, 2023, https://disntr.com/2023/03/13/open-gay-married-homosexual-man-baptizes-other-people-at-first-baptist-orlando/.Jared Kennedy, “What do I do if my child doesn't seem to fit with typical gender norms?” Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, May 17, 2021, https://erlc.com/resource-library/articles/what-do-i-do-if-my-child-doesnt-seem-to-fit-with-typical-gender-norms/?fbclid=IwAR0sXHMpztssG8iua4M24uwxcYic7x_kO_yfUc-cDG1z5fjaHkHaWRfS6Vk.Denny Burk, What's in a name? The meaning and origin of ‘complementarianism,'” The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, August 1, 2019, https://cbmw.org/2019/08/01/whats-in-a-name/.Nate Schlomann, NAMB and SBC Egalitarrianism, Servants and Heralds, February 8, 2021, https://www.servantsandheralds.com/namb-and-sbc-egalitarianism/.Saddleback Church, “Yesterday was a historic night…” Facebook, May 7, 2021, https://www.facebook.com/saddlebackchurch/posts/-yesterday-was-a-historic-night-for-saddleback-church-in-many-wayswe-ordained-ou/10159190549013544/.Russell Moore, “Rick Warren Reflects on His Legacy,” Christianity Today, March 8, 2023, https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/podcasts/russell-moore-show/rick-warren-legacy-saddleback-sbc-purpose-driven-life.html.Denny Burk, “Rick Warren Has Done the SBC a Great Service,” Denny Burk, March 14, 2023, https://www.dennyburk.com/rick-warren-has-done-the-sbc-a-great-service/.Merriam-Webster, s.v. “Critical Race Theory,” accessed March 22, 2023, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/critical%20race%20theory.Shannon Craigo-Snell and Christopher Doucot, No Innocent Bystanders (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2017), 67.Ronnie W. Rogers, Understanding the Terms of Cultural Marxism (Social Justice): A Christian Response, Ronnie W. Rogers, June 29, 2020, https://ronniewrogers.com/2020/06/understanding-the-terms-of-cultural-marxism- social-justice-a-christian- response/.Jake Cannon and Matt Bryant, “Epidode 13: Seminaries And Radical Reconciliation With Matthew Hall,” YouTube video, 49:45, posted by “Coffee and Cream”, Jul 15, 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dwI82hKUTgI. Reference clip starts at 49:45.Todd Starnes, “Baylor University Prayer Denounces ‘Straight White Men,'” ToddStarnes.com, May 2, 2019, https://www.toddstarnes.com/faith/baylor-university-denounces-straight-white-men-in-graduation-prayer/.Scott D. Allen, Why Social Justice Is Not Biblical Justice, (Grand Rapids, MI: Credo House Publishers, 2020), 67.“More ‘woke' companies are going to fail, former CEO warns: SVB collapse was ‘perfect storm,'” Fox News, March 15, 2023, https://www.foxnews.com/media/woke-companies-going-fail-former-ceo-warns-svb-collapse-perfect-stormAubrie Spady, “Head of risk assessment at Silicon Valley Bank invested in LGBTQ programs in months leading up to shutdown,” Fox News, March 13, 2023, https://www.foxnews.com/politics/head-risk-assessment-silicon-valley-bank-invested-lgbtq-programs-months-leading-shutdownIbid.Siladitya Ray, “Canada Begins To Release Frozen Bank Accounts Of ‘Freedom Convoy' Protestors,” Forbes, February 23, 2022, https://www.forbes.com/sites/siladityaray/2022/02/23/canada-begins-to-release-frozen-bank-accounts-of-freedom-convoy-protestors/.Dale Hurd, “Account Closed: Banks and Businesses Cancel Christians,” CBN News, January 3, 2023, https://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2022/november/account-closed-banks-and-businesses-cancel-christians.Owen Strachan, Christianity and Wokeness (Washington DC: Salem Books, 2021), 124.Ibid.Benjamin Powell, “Hey, Millennials: Socialism Creates Poverty and Limits Freedom. So Stop Romanticizing It!,” Independent Institute, November 27, 2017, https://www.independent.org/news/article.asp?id=9206.Charles Francis Adams, The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States, Volume IV (Boston, MA: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1851), 56. Category Current Events
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