"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 might be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works."
Too often, our (mis)understanding of the Good News devalues a vital, life-shaping, world-changing relationship with God himself.When I was a teenager, my church trained the youth on door-to-door evangelism. We would knock on a door and ask the person, “How confident are you that you are going to heaven when you die?” Most people were not 100 percent sure, and this opened an opportunity to share what Jesus had done for them. At the time, I would have summarized the main message of the Bible like this: You can avoid hell and go to heaven if you pray the sinner’s prayer, accept Jesus into your heart, and go to church. As far as I knew, that was the gospel.Klyne Snodgrass, a theologian and New Testament scholar, probably had someone like me (or at least the 16-year-old me) in mind as he wrote You Need a Better Gospel: Reclaiming the Good News of Participation with Christ. Snodgrass’s basic argument is that too many Christians and churches—even pastors (who should know better)—have bought into a cheap and counterfeit gospel. The real message of salvation, he claims, is not about going to heaven or claiming a get-out-of-jail-free card but about knowing Christ himself, the Giver as well as the Gift.Those who have studied Paul’s theology will quickly recognize that Snodgrass stakes his claim on a particular theory about Paul’s understanding of salvation. Some scholars favor a justification-by-faith emphasis, focusing on the language and imagery of imputation (the transfer of Christ’s righteousness to sinners) and the appeasement of God’s wrath. Others highlight the victory of Christ over evil or, in Pauline parlance, over “sin and death.”Snodgrass, for his part, identifies with those who center the idea of participation in Christ. (It’s unclear why Snodgrass’s subtitle references ...Continue reading...
The King Became a Man I've always liked hearing oxymorons. They are often ironically humorous. The word oxymoron itself comes from oxus which means â€œsharpâ€ and moros which means â€œdull.â€Here are some of my favorites: jumbo shrimp, freezer burn, white chocolate, plastic silverware, airline food, sanitary landfill, and professional wrestling.The beautiful Christmas story is loaded with powerful ironies that illustrate to us the amazing lengths God went to so that He could bring salvation to sinful mankind.1. The Irony of the IncarnationThe Creator God became as one of the creaturesâ€”one of the created beings. He who is all power came in the helpless form of a newborn.2. The Irony of the SettingThe arrival of the Bright and Morning Starâ€”the Light of the World was presented in the darkness of nighttime.3. The Irony of the Angel's Messageâ€œPeace on earth, good-will toward menâ€ will lead to much evil and heart-ache as sinful man chooses to reject the Saviour. Thousands of Jewish babies will be slaughtered by order of Herod the jealous king. The prophetic forerunner of Jesus, John the Baptist will be beheaded. Several times in Jesus ministry, the Jewish leaders â€œsought to killâ€ Him. Ultimately He is put to death in the manner of a violent criminal.4. The Irony of the Gifts Brought by the Wise MenMyrrh, a precious spice most often used in preparation for burial and associated with death is presented to a newborn baby.5. The Irony of the AccomodationThere was no room at the inn for the King of the Earth and Heaven. Yet, He comes to extend an open invitation to all earth dwellers into the mansions of Heaven.6. The Irony of the PurposeJesus was â€œborn to die.â€ The Baby Jesus was God in human flesh. His birth was not the prelude to a Kingdom, but the prelude to His death and burial, then His resurrection. Of course, He is the Kingâ€”later He will exercise that authority on earth.7. The Irony of the NameEmanuel means â€œGod with us.â€ Jesus' birth meant that Light came to darkness, holiness contrasted sinfulness, life came to the dead, righteousness overcame wickedness, and perfect Deity dwelt with depraved humanity.What an amazing way our Redeemer came to earth. Hallelujah, what a Saviour is Jesus, my Lord!
by Phil Johnson (Click for a hi-res image.) n October 28, 1887 (a Friday)â€”well into the Down Grade controversyâ€”Charles Spurgeon wrote the Secretary of the Baptist union to withdraw his membership in the Union. The following Tuesday, November 1, he hand-wrote this letter to his friend Archibald Brown, urging him to withdraw from the Union as well: WestwoodBeulah HillUpper Norwood 1887 Nov 1 Dear Mr Brown, Mr. Booth recd a formal notice from me on Friday. Let him have yours too, for otherwise they will not know of yr going with me. We are to sink or swim together. Blessed be God for so dear a comrade. Did you see Clifford's Appeal in Pall Mall on Saturday? Deceivableness of unrighteousness!" The fire is catching in Scotland. God will I trust work by this discussion. The Lord bless you Yours HeartilyC. H. Spurgeon My most treasured item of historic Baptist memorabilia is the handwritten original of that letter. Some details about the context: "Clifford" is John Clifford, who had written an unctuous "Appeal to Mr. Spurgeon" in the Saturday edition of The Pall Mall Gazette. (That article is what Spurgeon is referring to in his letter to Brown.) Clifford was serving at the time as Vice-President of the Baptist Union. A year later he would be elected president, and in that role he would preside over the Baptist Union's infamous censure of Spurgeon. In his mostly excellent biography of Spurgeon, W. Y. Fullerton charitably tries to portray Clifford as "one of Mr. Spurgeon's most ardent admirers." He was anything but. He was analogous to those who call themselves "progressive" today. When Clifford first came to London at the age of 20 in 1856, he came to the city specifically to hear Spurgeon. But even in those days, Clifford was hardly a solid Bible-believing evangelical. He was enthralled with Ralph Waldo Emerson and had seriously contemplated becoming a Unitarian. Ultimately, however, he remained at least nominally evangelical and in 1858 took a position as pastor of the Praed Street Baptist Church in London, where he remained until his retirement in 1915. By the late 1880s, Clifford had concluded that Spurgeon and the brand of evangelical conviction he represented were oldfangled and out of fashionâ€”and Clifford thus helped lead the modernist effort to silence Spurgeon's concerns about doctrinal down grade. Tom Nettles describes Clifford as an "irrepressible liberal. Personally, I like Spurgeon's description of Clifford's passive-aggressive approach to Spurgeon and the Down Grade: "Deceivableness of unrighteousness!" A month later, Spurgeon wrote the secretary of the Baptist Union Council, declining the council's plea for him to reconsider his resignation. In that letter, Spurgeon said candidly, "I regard full-grown 'modern thought' as a totally new cult, having no more relation to Christianity than the mist of the evening to the everlasting hills."Â
by Phil Johnson finally had an opportunity to see the documentary "Enemies Within the Church," and as promised, here is a candid review:Â Â The GoodÂ Â Â Â Â You need to watch this documentary. Its central message sounds a clear and necessary alarm that today's evangelicals (leaders and lay persons alike) urgently need to hear and heed. It is a two-hour video presenting undeniable evidence that influential forces within the church have been (and still are) working hard to advance an agenda that is rooted in neo-Marxism, overlaid with identity politics, and peppered with postmodern jargon. In other words, countless Christians are being force-fed an ideology that comes from the world, not from Scripture. It is being pushed in our seminaries and churches with tactics (and a lot of financing) taken from secular left-wing sources. The worldview and values these change-agents promote are clearly influenced by radical feminism, the sexual revolution, academic elitism, socialist tenets, and critical theory. Those who traffic in these ideas don't necessarily sound overtly hostile to the authority of Scripture. Instead, they subtly undermine moral principles, vital doctrines, and the gospel itself. They subvert historic evangelical convictions by lobbying for Woke doctrines and liberal trends while relentlessly warning evangelicals that the church will lose the next generation, maybe even die, if we don't stay in step with the drift of the secular intelligentsia. This is by no means a new phenomenon. There is an easily traceable line of descent that runs from the Socinians of the 16th and 17th centuries through the Deists and Unitarians of the 18th century, the modernists of the 19th century, the liberals and pragmatists of the 20th century, and the Emergents of the 21st century. Today's Wokevangelicals are following identical lines of argument, employing similar rhetoric, and drifting in the same direction as all of those previous departures from evangelical orthodoxy. In 1887, The Sword and the Trowel (Charles Spurgeon's monthly journal) published two articles titled "The Down Grade," by Robert Schindler. A fierce polemical war ensued and lasted for several years, known as "The Downgrade Controversy." Anyone who has read about Spurgeon's final years of ministry knows of this controversy. Spurgeon himself and most who were close to him believed the stress of fighting the Downgrade hastened his death. He died less than five years after publishing Schindler's articles. Robert Schindler's (and Spurgeon's) whole point was that the path of liberal apostasy is well-worn and familiar, and it should therefore be obvious to any vigilant observer when a church, educational institution, denomination, or Christian leader starts down that path. As the title suggests, Schindler noted that it's a steep downhill path, so once any person or group takes that turnoff, it becomes nearly impossible to stop the movement downhill. Schindler was warning against the modernist influence that infected the Baptist Union in Victorian England, but his words are totally applicable to the current drift of Wokevangelicalism. Be forewarned: "Enemies Within the Church"â€”like those 1887 articles in The Sword and the Trowelâ€”will be deeply controversial. Sadly, many believers will conclude that the controversial nature of the documentary basically nullifies its message. After all, aren't Christians supposed to love one another? How can we warn against the influence of fellow church members and not be guilty of divisiveness? But the New Testament is full of admonitions to be on guard against destructive influences within the church. These are wolves in sheep's clothing (Matt. 7:15)â€”"fierce wolves [that] will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them" (Acts 20:29-30). We are commanded to "to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3)â€”especially against those who want to rewrite the faith anew for each generation. This documentary does a superb job in that task, and for that reason I commend it. The cinematography is stunning. The editing is superb. The story is told in a clear and compelling way. The message is poignant. Overall, I give the production high marks, and I hope it gains a large audience. The BadÂ Â Â Â Â I should, however, mention that I have a few minor theological quibbles. The narrator (Cary Gordon) and several of the featured faces seem to be from Wesleyan backgrounds. That's not my complaint (though I'm a Calvinist). If there was any overt Arminianism in the presentation, I didn't notice it. On the whole, they did a fine job. But at times speakers mentioned points of doctrine that I thought should have been presented with greater care, or omitted completely. For example, around 47:40, one of the interviewees mentioned John 1:14, "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us." Pastor Gordon replies, "That means the Old Testament was made flesh in Jesus Christ." "Yup," says the interviewee. Pastor Gordon continues: "So if we're to vilify the Old Testament and say we don't need it anymore, we're talking about some part of Jesus." "No!" I say out loud. That's not what the apostle John is saying. The expression "the Word" throughout John 1 is a reference to Christ in his eternal glory, not the Old Testament. I share Pastor Gordon's contempt for the idea that Christians don't need the Old Testament, but it's not necessary make that point by getting sloppy with our exegesis of John's gospel. Still, that's a disagreement that doesn't materially affect my endorsement of the film. It doesn't alter or diminish the validity of the larger central message. A bigger objection of mine would be the way the documentary deals with the Ten Commandments. Here again, I agree with the point the documentary apparently wants to make, but I'm not completely satisfied with how they make it. Here's the part I agree with: Postmodern evangelicals do overemphasize the love of God and deliberately truncate what Scripture says about sin, righteousness, and judgmentâ€”to the point where most in the evangelical movement today seem to think the whole gospel message is that God is love, or that God loves you in particular. The documentary correctly points out that we have not preached the gospel at all if we don't deal with the problem of sin and call unbelievers to repentance (Acts 17:30). (I also agree that anyone who says the Ten Commandments have no relevance for Christians is an antinomian. And when you try to syncretize Wokeism with evangelicalism, antinomianism is one of the inevitable, and spiritually deadly, results.) Nevertheless, I wish the documentary had taken greater pains to make clear that the Ten Commandments are not the gospel, or even part of the gospel. They are a prelude to the gospelâ€”a tutor that points us toward Christ and the gospel (Gal. 3:24). The gospel itself is a message about the work of Christ to liberate us from the bondage of sin and the condemnation of the law. The heart of the gospel is the doctrine of justification by faithâ€”not the Ten Commandments. I'll mention just one other nagging complaint: I think what the documentary says about pietism vs. political activism seems to imply that these are the only two options in a fairly well-defined either/or choice for Christians. But lots of godly, biblically astute, reasonable Christians are neither pietists nor political Zealots. They recognize that churches tend to lose their focus and sometimes even cease preaching the gospel when they become immersed in unbridled political activism. The true remedy for what ails both the evangelical movement and secular culture is not something that can imposed by legislation. Nor can righteousness be achieved by Christians flexing their collective political clout. "If a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law" (Gal. 3:21). Dominionism is a corruption of the church's true agenda (Matt. 20:25-26). The disciples, not the party of the Zealots, are our role models in seeking to turn the world upside down. The UglyÂ Â Â Â Â Now, if you've seen the online chatter surrounding the release of this documentary, you may be aware that there's a noisy squad of smart-alecky Zealots who began badgering a list of conservative Christian leaders who had previously spoken out against the influence of Wokeism. The Zealots demanded endorsements for this documentary almost as soon as it appeared in a downloadable format. Their nagging quickly turned to ugly public taunts and accusations. I don't believe the documentary's producers were directly involved in or keenly aware of that campaign of harrassment. In fact, Judd Saul, the project's director, responded graciously to all the noise by making sure I had a speedy opportunity to see the full documentary. I would have eventually watched it anyway and most likely posted a recommendation, but I appreciate Judd's efforts to link me up with a timely review copy. Still, those unauthorized efforts to promote the film by browbeating men in Christian leadership have prompted me to say once again that nothing undermines biblical discernment and the cause of truth more deeply and hurtfully than haughty controversialists who act like they firmly believe they are the kingpins and custodians of the cosmic war against false teaching. They seem to think the truth is best advanced by intimidation, insults, crass language, and caustic rhetoric. Passages like 1 Corinthians 13:4-7; Galatians 5:22-23; and 2 Timothy 2:24-25 have no obvious impact on their dealings with othersâ€”because as they will point out, undiscerning people misuse those texts to justify their refusal to contend for the faith. But that doesn't give spiritual warriors license to ignore those features of true Christlikeness altogether. My counsel: Beware of anyone who treats captiousness as sport. Frankly, such people actually undermine the cause of truth, and in their own way, they can be just as dangerous to the spiritual health of the church as the out-and-out Marxists. One Final ThingÂ Â Â Â Â Virtually all the negative pushback I have seen aimed at "Enemies Within the Church" has come from Southern Baptist sources. The Conservative Baptist Network promoted the film and announced that they would host the premier on the campus of Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. The President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary protested the showing and Tweeted an open letter expressing with "deep disappointment but strong conviction," a charge that the documentary contains "scandalous and scurrilous slander." What about that claim? What is the right response to those who claim the documentary is slanderous? Let me speak plainly: I don't have the time or the need to investigate and verify every individual claim made in the documentary. "Enemies Within the Church" echoes an opinion I have stated many times already, so yes I emphatically agree with the central message. Most of the claims made are either well-established facts, or they are sufficiently documented in the film itself with video records and direct quotations. Plus, the clear and persuasive testimony of multiple eyewitnesses is hard to gainsay. So the documentary raises questions that need to be answered. It points out issues that need to be addressed. It highlights problems that need to be corrected. To single out a disputed claim or two and blow the whole thing off as "slander" would be a monumental mistake. Deconstructing the critics' concerns by splitting hairs over terminology or by denying that Critical Race Theory (CRT) has infiltrated Baptist seminaries is not an adequate answer to the concerns raised in this documentary. We've all seen the videos where Baptist seminary professors do parrot rhetoric from CRT sources. The concerns raised by this film cannot be sidestepped or pushed aside. They must be answered. For the record, I didn't notice any factual claims in the documentary that struck me as questionable. Some statements were made that I would like to see thoroughly documented. For example, a critic might claim that some of the connections drawn between various people and organizations may or may not be more tenuous than the narration noted. However, it would be ludicrous for any biblically minded believer to deny that large-movement evangelicalism is speeding quickly in a bad direction; that some of the very best leaders in key evangelical institutions do not appear to be trying very hard (if at all) to reverse the drift; and that many other key leaders are aggressively promoting wokeism, identity politics, and other ideas that clearly obscure the straightforward simplicity of the gospel. Those are all legitimateâ€”and weightyâ€”concerns. In the 1970s, all conservative evangelicals regarded the Sojourners organization as a left-wing outlier and a threat to orthodoxy because of the socialist and radical political agenda they were pushing. Today that point of view is considered mainstream in the larger evangelical movement. Such a profound shift does raise vital questions (or should I say "serious doubts"?) about whether we are truly together for the same gospel. "Enemies Within the Church" demands a careful inquiry and answers to those questions.
I Thessalonians 4: 3-8INTRODUCTION:Paul reveals in this passage that God's will for us is that we be sanctified.Â The word sanctified means to be set apart for a holy use.Â When God saved us, it was his will that our bodies be set apart as a temple in which His Holy Spirit would reside.Â Paul tells us in I Corinthians 3: 16, "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you."Â Just like God's presence dwelt in the Holy of Holies in the Old Testament, so His Spirit dwells in the heart of the believer today.Â Our body is to be set apart for His purpose.Â It is to be holy, clean and dedicated to Him.Â To live a life to where we open our heart to sin is to resist the leading of the Spirit.Â His desire is to lead us to live a life of righteousness and holiness.Â When we resist His leadership, we end up quenching and grieving the Holy Spirit.Â That will then deprive us of the joy that only the Holy Spirit can give.Â It will also end up depriving us of the power that only he can give.Â Â Sanctification therefore calls for us to live a holy and pure life.Â The sanctified life is a life that resists and overcomes temptation.Â Because we have an Adamic nature bent toward sin, temptation is an ongoing, inward struggle that we never fight a final battle with.Â But, if we don't fight these daily battles with temptation, sin can eventually overcome us and leave us addicted to habits and overcome with strongholds.Â The sin that overcomes and becomes a stronghold doesn't have to be a scandalous sin-- it can be a respectable sin.Â There are many who have been overtaken with pride, greed, sins of the tongue and sinful attitudes.Â Â However, Paul uses this passage to deal with scandalous sin-- sexual immorality.Â Let's understand something.Â Believers can commit such sin or Paul wouldn't have given us this warning.Â He says, don't act like the Gentiles v. 5.Â Also remember, David, a man after God's own heart committed adultery.Â If he could fall, let us not think that we are above falling.Â Believers can be tempted by the pleasures of sin as much as an unbeliever.Â Â Â WHY SEXUAL IMMORALITY IS WRONGÂ Sexual immorality is wrong because it violates God's purpose for the family.Â One of the reasons God ordained the family is because of the need for human companionship.Â God saw man in the garden of Eden and He said that it was not good that man should be alone.Â Because of man's need of a companion,Â a mate, God made the woman for the man.Â God then brought the woman to the man and gave her away to the man.Â God also ordained that the man and woman become one flesh.Â Certainly, this is an allusion to the sexual aspect of marriage.Â In the marriage relationship, sex was to be used to express love, oneness and intimacy.Â It was also intended to bring mutual pleasure to each partner.Â Sex was also to be used to bring forth children as a result of a loving relationship between a husband and wife.Â This is why Hebrews 13: 4 says, "Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled."Â To have sex outside marriage undermines God's purpose for marriage, which by the way, is one man for one woman until death do us part.Â Â Sexual sin is wrong because it is a sin against others.Â In verse six, Paul states that sexual immorality defrauds.Â First, sexual immorality is a sin against our mate.Â It destroys the trust in our mate that is needed for a healthy marriage to survive.Â I realize that the offended party may be asked to forgive and that that forgiveness may be readily given.Â But, there is a difference between forgiving and having trust restored.Â It could take years for a broken trust to be restored.Â Sexual immorality also destroys the self esteem of the innocent party.Â Many an innocent victim of an unfaithful partner is left asking a question that shouldn't be asked, "What was it about me that fell short in satisfying my mate?"Â Satan likes it when the innocent party blames themselves for the sin committed by an unfaithful partner.Â Sexual immorality also defrauds our mate by giving something to someone else that should only belong to our mate.Â The Bible teaches that the husband's body belongs to the wife and the wife's body belongs to the husband.Â Sexual immorality takes something precious away from our spouse and gives it to someone who is underserving.Â Â Sexual immorality is also a sin against the other guilty party.Â It is a sin against the one who's body has been used for selfish gratification.Â Let's face it.Â Most immoral relationships have nothing to do with love-- only for selfish physical gratification.Â It is a time when two people simply use one another.Â Sexual immorality is also a sin against the guilty party's mate.Â That person has been defrauded just as much as the offender's mate.Â This is why Proverbs 6: 30-35 states that there is no restitution that an adulterer can pay that will undo the sin and satisfied the offended parties.Â Sexual immorality is also a sin against our own bodies.Â I Corinthians 6: 18, "Every sin that a man does is outside his body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body."Â GOD HIMSELF WILL DEAL WITH ONE WHO COMMITS SEXUAL IMMORALITY V. 6Â God will deal with such because this sin is a rejection of His commands and as such is a rejection of His Person.Â Notice how God deals with a sexually immoral person.Â A sexually immoral person will receive dishonor and a reproach that will never be wiped away-- Proverbs 6: 33.Â This was certainly true of King David.Â We remember him as a man after God's own heart.Â But aside from his fight with Goliath, what we remember most about David was his affair with Bathsheba.Â David's dishonor has never been wiped away or forgotten.Â Even in our day, people don't remember the good that Jimmy Swaggart or Jim Bakker did.Â They remember the immoral behavior.Â That same thing can even be said of politicians.Â Presidents Kennedy and Clinton both left tarnished legacies because of their womanizing.Â A sexually immoral person will receive dishonor and a reproach that will never be wiped away.A sexually immoral person can be judged by disease and death.Â No one ever has to worry about a Sexually Transmitted Disease if they follow God's plan.Â Abstinence before married and faithfulness to our marriage partner take care of the problem of disease.Â Disease and death follow the immoral.Â Â CONCLUSION:Â How do we avoid sexual immorality?Â First, realize that all of us can be tempted.Â Even a man after God's own heart fell.Â Second, avoid things which might tempt us.Â TV and radio promote immoral lifestyles.Â Be careful what you allow inside your thought process.Â As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.Â Also, avoid pornography.Â Jesus said if we look at a woman to lust after her we have committed adultery.Â Pornography will fill the mind with such images that sexual immorality is seen to be normal.Â Pornography will destroy a marriage.Â It is also addictive.Â To aid in this battleÂ www.xxxchurch.comÂ has some accountability software that should be on every man's computer.Â This is free software, so no one has an excuse as to not be accountable.Â Finally, to avoid sexual immorality, stay in love with your spouse.Â Don't allow a moment of pleasure to bring you a lifetime of guilt, shame and reproach.
Powered by Ekklesia-Online