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Detection of True Spirituality — part two

December 21, 2010 4 comments

“I think the Lord is leading me to….”  “I feel the Lord is leading me to….”  “I really prayed about it and I felt that….”  You’ve probably heard these types of statements before.  And if it is God leading, who is anyone to question?  In many instances, it really is like questioning scripture at this point.  Except for one big thing—it isn’t scripture.  It is “I think,” “I feel,” and “I felt.”  And if not that, then sometimes it is, “The Lord told me.”  And that isn’t scripture either, even though, again, it is treated like it’s Bible.

One might hear these above type of statements from men in the office of the pastor.  How did he know what the church was to do?  How did he know what sermon he was to preach?  “The Lord told him” or “he felt the Spirit leading.”  One pastor I have known demanded the support of his congregation for every one of His sermons because it was Holy Spirit-preaching.  When he preached, that was the Holy Spirit, so it should be unquestioned.  Do you see a problem here?  This kind of language from a pastor places a type of authority on his decision making that is authoritative on the level of God.  Should we expect this kind of authority from the leaders of our churches?  In one sense, a pastor represents the voice of God, but it is only insofar he preaches the Word.  The people listen to God in those instances by means of the messenger.  But every opinion out of the man’s mouth or even just the ones when he is behind the ‘sacred desk’ are not synonymous with scripture.

How do we know what we ought to do in the areas that the Bible is silent upon, like who I’m going to marry, where I’m supposed to work, or whether the reuben on rye or the 10 oz. NY strip steak?  It seems that, “the Lord led,” is all we’ve got in those types of decisions?  Or is it?  How does the Holy Spirit actually work in these situations?

To detect true spirituality, first (part one) we proposed that all believers are spiritual.  Every Christian is spiritual.  There was a question of whether there were degrees of spirituality.  No.  Each genuine believer is indwelt by the one and only Holy Spirit, a Person.  You can’t get more or less of Him once you have Him.  However, He can have more of you.  It’s not quantitatively more spirituality.  No one is more spiritual in that sense.  However, someone can, rather than yield to the Spirit, submit to his flesh.  At that time, he is carnal, not spiritual, in a practical, not positional, way.  When someone is controlled by the Holy Spirit, then there are manifestations of that yieldedness.  We showed six of them.  These are how we detect genuine spirituality.  And now for the last aspect we will consider in the detection of true spirituality.

How Does the Holy Spirit Lead?

The Holy Spirit leads (Rom 8:14, Gal 5:18).  We know this.  But how does He lead?

First, He leads in accordance with Scripture.  “The sword of the Spirit . . . is the Word of God” (Eph 6:17).  Parallel to the filling of the Spirit (Eph 5:18) is the Word of Christ dwelling in us richly (Col 3:16).  Being controlled by the Spirit is being controlled by the Word of God.  All of this fits within the sufficiency of Scripture (Mt 4:4, 2 Tim 3:16-17).  God’s Word equips a person for every good work.  If a decision attributed to the Holy Spirit contradicts the Word of God, disobeys scripture, it wasn’t or isn’t the Holy Spirit leading.  The Bible is how we test to see if something is of God (1 John 4:1).   Sanctification of the Spirit is also the sanctification of the Word of God (John 17:17-19).  We are set apart by the truth, not by our feelings or opinions, which might be attributed to the Holy Spirit.

A corollary perhaps to the Spirit’s leading in accordance with Scripture could be “no private interpretation” (2 Pet 1:19-21).  The Bible has one meaning and many applications; however, we ought to also look to history to see how the Spirit worked in believer’s lives to apply Scripture.  The Holy Spirit isn’t going to suddenly accept a practice that has been forbidden by God’s people in the past.

Second, He leads in accordance with the church.  I’ve asked many if they needed the church to know the will of God and most will say that they can know the will of God independently of a church.  Often today I’ve noticed people think that they have the right to question a pastor in his preaching, but few think they should be questioned when they say ‘the Lord is leading.’  A church is to be of one mind, one spirit, one mouth, and one speech (1 Cor 1:10, Philip 1:27).  People should not operate outside of the unity or unanimity of the church.  Believers walk in the Spirit, but they do not walk alone.

In the Old Testament, Israel had the Urim and the Thummim for God to guide her in her decisions (Ex 28:30, Lev 8:8, Num 7:21, Deut 33:8, Ezra 2:63).  Do we have anything like that today?  I believe we do.  The Urim and Thummim today is the church.  The Holy Spirit indwells a church as the temple of God (1 Cor 3:16).  The church is “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15).  God leads through the church, not through single individuals.  There is one Holy Spirit who indwells church members, the same Spirit, so the agreement of the church is the leading of the Spirit (Eph 4:1-4, 1 Cor 12).  Dividing off of the opinion of the church is heresy (Tit 3:10-11, 1 Cor 1:11-17).  Church members judge matters of believers (1 Cor 6:1-8).  Matthew 18:18-19 suggests a supernatural leading through the agreement of the church.

In the freelancing spirit of the age, many today do not desire the agreement of a church in matters.  They rather operate independent of church authority, appreciating the freedom of “the Lord’s leading.”  It’s a free country.  We can move about when and where we want.  Many treat the will of God as a plaything, affording them freedom, which they label “Christian liberty.”  Many pastors also use this freedom to move from church to church, again attributing the activity to the “will of God” in their life, when often it is discontent.  Rather than just leave, people should be sent by the church for greater ministry (cf. Acts 13:1-5).  Lesser ministry isn’t God’s will.  But who determines that is the church, not the individual.  Someone may ask, “Well, what if the church is wrong?”  If the church is wrong, an attempt should be made to persuade the church from the Word of God.  Sometimes men will just use scripture to excuse what they want to do.   Jeroboam quoted Aaron to justify building calves at Dan and Bethel.  The church should be able to determine whether something is the will of God or not.

When Paul discussed Christian liberty in 1 Cor 8-10, at the end of that section (11:1), he commanded the church at Corinth to imitate him as he imitated Christ.  In areas of liberty, people of a church should look to the leaders of their church to know what to do in areas in which scripture is silent (cf. Heb 13:17).  Rather than follow self, follow godly leaders in the church.

How did Timothy know he was to be a pastor?  1 Timothy 4:14 is a great verse on this.  First, prophecy, that is, the preaching of the Word of God.  I’ve had men tell me that they didn’t ask me what would be the right decision because they already knew what I would say.  How did they know?  The preaching of God’s Word.  Preaching worked in the heart and life of Timothy.  Second, the laying on of hands of the presbytery.  Timothy got the unified guidance of godly men to verify the will of God in this matter.  In many cases today, men say they’re “called,” in essence, “God told me,” and that’s their chief indication of God’s working.  This isn’t the pattern in scripture.

Do you see how that Scripture and then the church puts objectivity to the will of God?  This is how the Holy Spirit guides today.  In answer to this type of presentation, often I’ll hear from men examples of Old Testament prophets and New Testament apostles.  Do you understand that God doesn’t work with us like that any more?  We have Scripture and the church now.  God doesn’t speak to us that way.  If He is going to guide you like an apostle or prophet, than you should also fulfill the qualifications of the prophet and the apostle.  You don’t, so don’t see yourself as led by the Spirit the same way they were.

Some Specifics Concerning the Individual Will of God

Does Scripture teach us that God has only that one person for us to marry?  Or does the Bible order us to obey God’s Word but give us liberty within scriptural parameters in those individual matters?  For instance, Scripture prohibits a Christian from marrying an unbeliever among other instructions (2 Cor 6:14), but God would give freedom within the bounds of what He said in His Word.  Paul says this in 1 Corinthian 7:39:  “The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.”  “She is at liberty to be married to whom she will.”  Of course, he adds, “only in the Lord.”  Within biblical guidelines, someone can marry whoever he or she wants to marry, unless, of course, God sovereignly overrules otherwise.

The above exact teaching you’ll see in Proverbs 16:1 and 9:

The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD. . . . A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.

The idea of “preparations” is “plans.”  It is God’s will for man to make plans.  A man is to devise his way.  The Lord may step in to change something, directing his steps, but he should go about making plans and devising his way.  God allows people to make their own decisions within the bounds of the guidelines and principles He has set up in the Bible.  The best way to ensure you do right is to obey God’s Word, practice it or apply it in every area of your life.  If you do that, those unknown, individual things will work themselves out, very much like we see in Proverbs 3:5-6:

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

In short, if you will trust God and acknowledge everything He said, those individual, personal decisions will work out fine.

Detection of True Spirituality

December 9, 2010 8 comments

God has not left men without a basis for discerning true spirituality.  1 John 4:1 indicates that genuine Christians can test “the spirits whether they are of God.”   At the same time, most people have been deceived in this area.  The road is broad that leads to destruction (Mt 7:13-14).  As a  means of validating their condition, men seek after signs (1 Corinthians 1:22) that very often are counterfeits that lure men into a false sense of spiritual security.   From the teaching of Jesus (Mt 7:21-23), we know that at the judgment seat, their tragic deception will be exposed with no future opportunity for correction.  Men can be fooled into trusting in fraudulent indicators of their spiritual states.

In the first chapter of his epistle, James says men deceive themselves with the faulty notion that God accepts the mere hearing of His Word.   This reveals the nature of people’s deceit.  They can rationalize a tolerance of their own disobedience to what God said.   Satan is a deceiver and liar, who would have men mislead by their own unreliable measurements of spirituality.   And the Devil majors on spiritual subterfuge in particular—it’s his domain of activity  (Eph 6:12).

On the other hand, the Word of God is sufficient (2 Tim 3:15-17).  We don’t have to be deceived.  We have the truth, which sets us apart from spiritual error (John 17:17).

Who Is Spiritual?

Sometimes you might hear someone say, “He’s a spiritual person.”  Based on a scriptural evaluation, that would be the same as saying, “He’s a saved person.”  Every saved person is a spiritual person, because at the point of his justification by faith, he has received the gift of the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:9, 1 Cor 6:19-20, 1 John 3:9).  Only believers are spiritual.  No unbeliever is spiritual, even if he says he’s “a spiritual person.”

No believer is any more spiritual than any other person.  The Holy Spirit is a Person.  When someone receives the Holy Spirit, he has all the Holy Spirit that he will ever get.   He doesn’t need any fresh outpouring or anointing.  The concept of “more spiritual” isn’t in the Bible.   God does command believers to be filled with the Spirit (Eph 5:18), which is to be controlled by the Spirit (Rom 6).  When a believer is controlled by the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit will manifest Himself in various ways described in the New Testament.

How Does the Holy Spirit Manifest Himself?

The New Testament indicates several different ways that we can discern true spirituality.  We should expect all of these of someone who is spiritual.  Because everyone has equal spiritual resources (Eph 1:3; 2 Pet 1:1-4; 1 Cor 1:7), everyone also has equal opportunity for manifesting true spirituality.  In other words, no one is breathing any kind of pure spiritual air that sets him apart from any other believer.

God isn’t responsible for spiritual lack.  When a man is tempted, he is drawn away of his own lusts (James 1:14).  The Holy Spirit will show Himself through a believer, but more than any one thing, self gets in the way.  Humbling self is an important first step to revealing true spirituality.

First, a person who is filled with the Spirit is letting the Word of Christ dwell in him richly.  Ephesians 5:18 and Colossians 3:16 are parallel passages.  Someone who is controlled by the Holy Spirit is also controlled by God’s Word.  When we disobey Scripture, either in thought, word, or deed, at that moment we are also either resisting or quenching the Holy Spirit.  True spirituality manifests itself in obedience to the Bible.  A Christian life obedient to the Spirit will look like Scripture.

Second, the Holy Spirit will show Himself through the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).   I don’t think the emphasis of “fruit” is in the nature of bananas, apples, or oranges.  Fruit is production.  The Holy Spirit will produce a certain type of attitude that will result in a right kind of behavior.   That disposition is seen in the fruit of the Spirit.  The fruit of the Spirit isn’t something you work on, but a work that the Holy Spirit does in and through you.  And that fruit will show up because the believer submits to the Holy Spirit.  The fruit is all or nothing.  He either is manifesting the Holy Spirit or he isn’t.  If he is, then all of the fruit will show up.  Others will see the Holy Spirit and not self when the Christian is filled with the Spirit.

Third, when the Holy Spirit is in charge in someone’s life, this will show up in God-honoring music (Eph 5:19) and perpetual thanksgiving (Eph 5:20).   The Holy Spirit directs the Spirit controlled person toward praise and thanks, both pointing toward God and away from self.

Fourth, the Holy Spirit will transform the relationships of those who are controlled by Him (Eph 5:21-6:8).  This is how the Holy Spirit fulfills the law through love.  The Christian is directed by the Spirit to meet other’s needs, which are all different by Divine design.  A child has a different need from a parent, an employer from an employee, and a husband from a wife.

Fifth, the particular spiritual giftedness of the Spirit-filled person will show up in His church (1 Cor 12).  The Holy Spirit divides to a church as He wills, providing it His own unique blend depending on its needs.  When the Christian submits to the Spirit, he will fulfill his part in the body.  The whole church is more important than his part in it.   Jesus will be glorified by being manifested by the Spirit through the church in the world.

Sixth, he will preach the Word of God with boldness (Acts 4:31).  No believer has any more power than any other believer.  He can be more bold, however, depending upon his submission to the Holy Spirit.  If he’s bold, the Holy Spirit will work through the Word of God unto the salvation of souls.  There is no unique power for evangelism.  The power rests in the Scripture through the Spirit.  Boldness will look, well, bold.  Some may confuse this for pride, because proclamation of truth lacks the nuance that some expect of a fake humility.

We have these six means for detecting true spirituality.  They could be faked for a period of time, but not for long.  However, we should content ourselves with what God’s Word reveals as genuine indicators.   The replacement gauges of spirituality provide people with false positives, fooling them into a dangerous spiritual ease.

How Does the Holy Spirit Lead?

Part of discerning true spirituality revolves around the discernment of the will of God.  How does the Holy Spirit lead?  We’ll approach this question next time.

Distortion of True Spirituality – part two

December 1, 2010 23 comments

Mormons have their burning in the bosom and Charismatics have their tongues and healings, their signs and wonders.  Is it possible that others—evangelicals, fundamentalists, independent Baptists—have their own editions of these?

I started pastoring in 1986 first as an interim pastor in Southeastern Wisconsin and then in 1987 in our new church in the San Francisco Bay Area.   After only a few years, I wrote a missions questionnaire for an initial screen for prospective missionaries—they were (and are) all multiple choice questions.  One question asked how someone would know the will of God.   Very few missionaries in the twenty plus years have circled the letter for the answer I was looking for on that questionnaire.

Many of the others that I referenced in my first paragraph have a very subjective approach or understanding to the will of God, and specifically the individual will of God.  For the sake of knowing where I’m coming from here, I believe that there are three aspects to the will of God.  There is the sovereign will of God, which is everything that ever happens.  God will cause or allow everything that happens.  If He didn’t want something to happen, He could or would stop it.  And if He wanted something to happen, He would make sure it did just like He wanted it.  If something “bad” happens, we can still say that it is the will of God, because God is sovereign.  He has some purpose in either causing or allowing it.

There is the moral will of God, which is essentially the Bible.  The moral will of God is what God desires for everyone to do, which is Scripture, since God’s Word is sufficient.  And then there is the individual will of God, which are those events or decisions or circumstances in our life which are unique to us as individuals, like who we will marry, where we will live, and what kind of vacuum we will purchase.  It is this third “will of God” that I’m talking about here.

I want to categorize here the abuses that I’ve witnessed.  Some readers may be able to expand or add, which is fine, but here are some of what I have seen and still often do.  I think these will be controversial, because I think there are people reading, who have depended upon these “burnings in the bosom,” perhaps Baptist edition.

“God Told Me”

A lot of damage has been done in the name of “God told me.”  A corollary to “God told me” is “the Holy Spirit told me.”  Do you believe that God tells you things?  Now if you’re talking about something you read in the Bible, I’m with you there, but if it is something extra-scriptural, I’m not with you on that one.  God isn’t “telling people” anything anymore outside of Scripture.  Everything we need is in the Bible.  That’s what God is still telling us.  How do I know that?  Because it is all over the Bible (Revelation 22:18-19; Jude 1:3).  And important passage to this is 2 Peter 1:19-21 where Peter exalts Scripture above his experience on the Mount of Transfiguration as a “more sure word of prophecy.”  The voice of God speaking to us is Scripture, and that alone.  Even if we are hearing from the Holy Spirit, the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God (Eph 6:17).

These evangelicals, many of them, use language that the Bible reserves for direct verbal revelation from God to apply to their normal Christian living.  They expect God to tell them what to do in their day to day lives like God at times told Abraham, Moses, and the apostles.  And when I say “tell them,” I mean very specific instructions on what to choose or do on an everyday basis.  They believe and practice this despite God pointing His people back to His Words that He already has given (Ps 19:7-11; 2 Tim 3:15-17).  These same people believe that the Bible is the primary way God speaks to His people, but not the only way that He does.

Were the intertestamental periods actually silent years?  Or did God keep up a regular chatter with His people?  Was God still directly revealing anything between Malachi and Matthew?  Or did He continue to expect His people to follow His Word like we read, well, everywhere in the Old Testament (Deut 4:5-8; Joshua 1:8; 1 Kings 2:3; Ps 119:11, 24).  God did have His periods of direct, special revelation.  This is not one of them.  The last one ended in the first century.  There hasn’t been one since.

Often in these experiences, these same people struggle to hear God’s voice, sometimes going through some type of sacrifice to get the direction they need from God—praying through, fasting, really wanting it earnestly.  If they really are supposed to be hearing God tell them something like we read in the Bible, then there shouldn’t be any kind of struggle at all.  When we see God speak in Scripture, it is always clear and understandable, not dependent on any lifting from the recipient.

If God is really talking to us and like what we see in the Bible, because that’s where we got that idea, then how is that any different than what occurred with either a prophet or apostle?  Why would the Bible carefully lay out the qualifications of the prophet in Deuteronomy and the apostle in Acts if there wasn’t anything unique to the prophetic or apostolic experience?   God did speak to Moses and Samuel and Peter and Paul. He isn’t speaking to us today.  He completed all that with the last verse of the book of Revelation.

I think this “God spoke to me” thing is another version of continuationism—much more subtle and perhaps more dangerous than the Charismatic edition, because of that.  A whole lot of both false teaching that “God gave” and horrible practice or behavior gets excused by “God told me.”  There is a lot more I”d like to say here, but this is only a blog post.  So next.

“God Is Really Blessing”

This second one or some version of it often accompanies the first one.  Usually it comes after “God told me.”  First “God told me,” then “I did it,” and third “God is really blessing.”  “God is really blessing” validates “God told me.”  Sometimes “God really blesses” false doctrine and practice, like 1-2-3 pray with me “evangelism.”  The same kind of proof is offered for shows of Divine power, numbers of folks who ‘walked the aisle,’ how many decisions were made, and the “sweet spirit we felt there.”  The sweet spirit was witnessed in the shouting, the hand or hanky waving, and the tears, among other excitements.   Sometimes after “God told” someone something, he had explosive numeric growth that validated the following of what “God told” him.

“God is really blessing” our bus because “we had over 100 on our bus.”  “God is really blessing” our bus ministry because we ran over 1000 during our special promotion.  “God is really blessing” our Sunday School campaign because we’ve had over 100 kids “get saved.”  “God is really blessing” the carnival we held for the grand opening of our new building because of all the people who showed up for the sno-cones and jumpers.  “God really blessed” those promotions.

If you were to criticize “God is really blessing,” you might be a “tool of Satan.” You might be Sanballat and Tobiah (the guys who opposed Nehemiah in that book).  You might be touching God’s anointed like David understood not to do with Saul.   You might say that you don’t think that “God told” is a legitimate means of determining the will of God, but the answer could be, “how do you explain what happened with me then?”  Almost always some experience is the validation of “God told me.”  When we built, then they came.  They came and they came like the rain on Noah’s ark.  I was talking to a man who went to a Benny Hinn meeting, and now he can’t or won’t listen to Scripture because Benny Hinn cured him of his stuttering.

Sometimes the question might be asked, “Why aren’t we seeing anything happen?”   By “anything happen” is meant lots of decisions, many new converts, or explosive growth.  Why not?  The assumption is often that you are missing out on some spiritual resource as a Christian or that you aren’t trying hard enough, praying enough, or reading your Bible enough, which results in not having the things that you need.  God withholds them from those who won’t pay the price.  Instead of one week meetings, go to two week meetings and by the time you get to the second week, then “God starts to break things open.”   If you don’t get it in two weeks, why not go to three?  If you won’t go to four, maybe you don’t want to pay the price.

Christians won’t experience the blessing of God when they live in disobedience to the Word of God.  However, they actually have every blessing in Christ (Eph 1:3) and the moment they were saved by grace, they no longer lacked in any gift from God (1 Cor 1:7).  Everyone who obeys Scripture is pinning the needle on God’s blessing even if their brook runs dry.   The Bible tells us why church growth sometimes doesn’t occur.  It can be because of disobedience, but the most common explanation from Jesus is the condition of the hearts of the hearers.  You have nothing to do with that.  And ultimately, you are irrelevant to more happening, because it’s God Who gives the increase (1 Cor 3:6).

The people who “God is really blessing” are often manipulating the results. It’s an election equivalent of stuffing the ballot box.  And why not?  It isn’t those who are careful with the Word who get attention in this system.   In evangelicalism, fundamentalism, and young Calvinism, people want to hear from those whom “God is really blessing.”   Even if you get to where you are through some combination of compromise, talent, or technique, you will most often be rewarded in some tangible way because God must be really blessing you.  There is no better cologne than victory.  And if you don’t agree, it’s probably because God isn’t really blessing you.

The Ignorance of a Luke 10 Approach

September 27, 2010 26 comments

When Jesus sent out missionaries, what did He do?  Do we know?  We do, because we can read about it in Luke 10.   We should also assume that this is the model that the Apostle Paul utilized in His efforts.  We will be and we should be sanctified by the truth, not by opinion and pragmatism.  I think that much of what we read in Jesus’ sending of the seventy in Luke 10 is ignored today by churches and church leaders.  How?

1.  Ignorance of the Method in Luke 10

The seventy were sent to say something.  They were sent to preach a message (Lk 10:5b, 9).   We don’t see “church-planting” per se in the Bible.  Jesus did not send the seventy out to start a church.  The Apostle Paul did not go to start a church.  Churches were started, but neither the seventy nor Paul were sent to start a church.  Scripture is sufficient.  Silence does not mean permission.  We ought not to be sending men to start churches.  Jesus didn’t and Paul didn’t.

We send men to preach.  We don’t send them alone.  We send them in twos.  That’s what we see.  We may think we have a better idea, but that’s the model that Jesus left us.  At least two men go.  They go into a town or city and preach.

As the men go to preach, they find out who receives the message and who does not.  If a person receives the message, that’s the possible start of a church.  If no one receives the message, the two don’t tweak the message or consider a different method. They leave after proclaiming judgment on the town or city.  Each home is a microcosm of this.  If a home does not receive the message, the men move on to the next home.  Look at vv. 1-17 (below) if you don’t think this is the case.  I’m open for your alternative ideas, but at least consider the text.

There is no pressure on the preachers to “produce.”  They don’t need to see a certain number in a certain number of weeks or months or years.  Their one goal is to preach just what God said.  From there, they just gauge the response.   They are not required to toil in obscurity with no one listening.  They are actually not supposed to do that.  They should preach—if no one wants it, move on; if someone does, park there.  If it succeeds, it will be because of the gospel, not the preacher.

The preachers Jesus sent out, He said He was sending as “lambs among wolves” (Lk 10:3).  Jesus didn’t say that people would like the method or the message.  It would be worse than a turn-off.  Most would hate it.

Demographics don’t relate at all to Luke 10.  Everyone was preached to.  Nobody was left out.

If the emphasis is on the preaching and not the starting of a church, then the point or the real goal will be met, that is, everyone will be preached to.  Many church planters go to a town and immediately start inviting people to church and the people of their community never, ever receive the gospel. They still haven’t preached the gospel to everyone.  They don’t even know that is what they were supposed to do.  They thought they were supposed to start a church.  They go with a pack full of non- or un-scriptural methods and get to building a crowd.  That is not the rock upon which Jesus said He would build His church (Mt 16:18).

2.  Ignorance of the Money in Luke 10

“Church planters” travel the country raising support to plant their church.  I understand that the seventy were a second phase of Jesus’ sending, after the twelve (Lk 9).  Later in Luke, Jesus sends them with money (Lk 22:35-36).  I’m not opposed to supporting missionaries.  What I think we need to know, and this is one of the lessons of Luke 10, is that money is not necessary to be a missionary.  Jesus wanted them to see that in Luke 10.

Today we hear there are “needs” in order to see a church “launched.”  One professing fundamentalist, quasi-evangelical, who had read all the studies, the missional philosophy, the cultural engagement strategy, said that he needed to raise at least $300,000 to launch his church.  People believed him. They supported him.  He was a hot commodity because he was up on all the latest techniques necessary for a successful church launch.

The building is another important “need” for the church launch.  (“Launch” is important for a launch.  Use the word “launch” if you want to launch.)  But the building must be something that people are going to want to attend, you know.  All of this really is a lie.  Jesus said nothing about a building.  Paul said nothing about a building.  A building is not necessary for a church to start.   You don’t need money, and you can see from reading Luke 10 that your first building is the house of the first person who will receive the message.

The building is really about an impression that becomes necessary for “church planting.”  You want to have a church and church has a building.  And you are not going to get a lot of people to stay if they aren’t comfortable with your building.  You won’t look classy or successful enough for those people, which the church planter perceives are a lot of people.  Plus, the program the church planter expects to succeed as part of the attraction to his church needs that facility.  That requires money.  So the desire for money relates to the alternative to the Luke 10 method.

3.  Ignorance of the Message in Luke 1o

“The Lord” (v. 1) appointed the 70 and He sent them to go ahead of Himself to towns where He would come after them.  Their message was “peace” (v. 5) in the “kingdom of God,” which was “nigh unto” them (v. 9).  A kingdom has a King.  The offering of a kingdom meant the King was coming.  If He was their King, He was their Messiah, as well as their absolute monarch.  They would be turning their lives over to Him.  If they relinquished their selves to Him, He would bring them the kingdom.  They had to receive Him as King. If He was King, He was Lord.  If He was Lord, they were His slaves.  The message Jesus sent them to preach was no different than the gospel that He preached from the very beginning of His earthly ministry (Lk 4:43).

If people receive the message Jesus expects of His evangelists, that is, the truth, the kind of building they have doesn’t matter.  Slaves aren’t offended by some discomfort.  Those who have denied themselves to follow the Lord aren’t concerned with those peripheral, superficial interests that captivate many church planters.

Jesus did send the seventy to preach.  That’s what he wanted them to do.  If a church started, it would come out of the affirmative responses to the message they preached.

For Reference, Luke 10:1-17

1 After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come.

2 Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.

3 Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.

4 Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way.

5 And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house.

6 And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again.

7 And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house.

8 And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you:

9 And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.

10 But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say,

11 Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.

12 But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city.

13 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.

14 But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you.

15 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell.

16 He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.

17 And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.


The Real History of the One Bible Doctrine

September 3, 2010 35 comments

No matter what the issue or the doctrine is, you have at least some problem if you cannot establish historic precedent for it.   Part of the tactic or strategy for enabling or allowing a new position that has not been taken or believed is to create some type of history of it.   For instance, advocates of same sex marriage want people to see it in the fourteenth amendment.   After reading that into a mid-nineteenth century law, they proceed to attack their opponents as hateful bigots who don’t care about a constitutionally protected right.   So step two of inventing a new history is to attack the old or original or real history, to make it look like it was never the history at all.  If you can get as many spokesmen as possible repeating the new history, people will just believe it.  And then they’ll think that the old history is the one that was invented.  Especially if it is convenient for people to take the new position.

A lot of people can be wrong.  A few people can be right.  Jesus reveals that point in Matthew 7:13-14.  But when it comes to doctrine, not everybody is going to be wrong.  Why?  Some will depart from the faith, but not everyone (1 Tim 4:1).  The gates of Hell will not prevail against the pillar and ground of the truth (Mt 16:18, 1 Tim 3:15).  So if a several or multiple Bible belief were in fact authoritative and true, we would see at least some Christians believing it in history.  But, alas, we do not.  All we read before the 19th century is one Bible.  We don’t find a multiple Bible doctrine in history.  We have it today, but it started somewhere after the church started and the Bible was complete.  In other words, men came up with that belief.  It isn’t original.  It’s a man-made doctrine.  I would be happy to report otherwise if it were true.  But I can’t, because it isn’t.

The larger point is that the Bible itself teaches one Bible.  That’s how all those Christians came to their position.  They just believed God.  Just like there was no theistic evolution position until the 19th century.   Christians just believed the biblical account in Genesis.  You don’t find the multiple Bible position in history before the 19th century because the Bible didn’t teach it, so Christians didn’t believe it.

So nobody believes in multiple Bibles then, right?  Well, no.

Sure, but it is only unbelievers or liberals who take the multiple Bible position, correct?  Wrong again.  Now you’re also a conservative if you believe that.  You are still fundamentalist if you believe that.

And if you believe in one Bible?  Sorry, but you are a silly, almost brainless, schismatic, thoughtless dufus.  You’ve got to be.  That’s the way this whole thing will work with no history.  People who take the original position can’t be taken seriously for the new position to work.  I mean, you can’t say that you believe in the Genesis account of creation, can you?  It’s the same kind of thing here.  Exactly.

To top all of this off, a whole new history of one Bible has been created out of whole cloth.   The standard fake history, akin to same sex marriage being in the 14th amendment, is that the one Bible doctrine came from Benjamin Wilkerson, a Seventh-day Adventist, in a book he wrote in 1930.  That’s very important.  Wilkerson was in a cult (of course).   So the nuts who believe this, as you would expect, started with a cult.  And then a Baptist pastor did a little less than plagiarize Wilkerson.  That was David Otis Fuller, and he spread this new teaching all over.  So there we go.  Not true.  But part of the overall necessity of eliminating the real history of the original doctrine to make room for the new.  I recently read this related comment:

And fundamentalists like to make any traditional view sanctified with the full authority of Scripture behind it. At least that’s the tendency of some. So the [one Bible] position found how to connect itself to Bible preservation in a way to make the view doctrinally based.

This comment wasn’t even questioned.  It is now blindly assumed by many.   The idea here is that a preferred position was invented in 1930, one convenient to certain Christians, one Bible, and then these went to the Bible to commandeer verses for the cause.  That is a lie.  In this case, it is definitely a purposeful lie, propaganda-like.

When I’ve had discussions with those considered to be the greatest experts for multiple Bibles, they agree that the historic doctrine is one Bible.  They know that’s what Christians believed.  When you read the bibliology of Christians, those justified by faith, and creeds and confessions from the same, no one believed in multiple Bibles.  All of them believed one Bible.  They came to that belief from Scripture itself.  Their conviction for one Bible originated from the promises of God’s Word.

All the history I read for multiple Bibles goes back to Benjamin Warfield at Princeton in the late 19th century.  That’s where the teaching of multiple Bibles began.   So you’ve had one line of doctrine about one Bible, and then diverting from that stream of orthodoxy, forming a new path, is Warfield.  Others followed.  And since then they have invented a fake history and attacked and degraded the true.

John Adams, in 1770 in his defense of the British soldiers who participated in the Boston Massacre, said:

Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.

The fact is that Christians have always believed in one Bible.  Whatever may be the wish or inclination of the multiple Bible people, they cannot alter that fact.

A Paradigm of Evangelical Unbelief

Faith believes what God said just because He said it, not because it’s been proven to us or because we’ve experienced something.  Since faith puts confidence in what God said as true only because He said it, it is faith in things that we cannot see.  At one time, theology was the queen of the sciences because God’s Word was considered evidence.  The Enlightenment and its consequences changed this way of thinking for professing Christians.

A big clash exists in evangelicalism over the age of the earth—new earthers versus old earthers.  The new earthers take the Genesis account literally.  The old earthers are influenced by “human observation and discovery.”  For instance, they look at the time it takes for light to travel from distant stars and assume that the universe must be billions of years old or else we wouldn’t be able to see these stars through a telescope.  So there’s a challenge from science to the record of Genesis 1-3.

Many more evangelicals believe in evolution than what you would even imagine, and especially among the so-called elite and scholarly.  This debate among them elevated in March when a well-respected Old Testament Hebrew scholar, Bruce Waltke, posted a pro-evolution statement on a well-visited evangelical website.   Several conservative evangelicals have reacted to his statement in very heated fashion.  Rightly so.  I don’t want to get into extreme detail here, but the paradigm for evangelicals and their faith changed well before this debate began.  I do think we have some pot calling the kettle black occurring here.

Evangelicals long ago started discarding scriptural and historic belief for sight.   Nothing is more important to faith than the Bible.  The Bible promises its own perfect preservation.  Evangelicals and fundamentalists took this same paradigm of unbelief long before Bruce Waltke and these old-earth evangelicals.  They now say that the Bible never really taught preservation per se.  Well, not that the Bible wasn’t preserved—it was, just in a way that you have no hope of a perfect Bible and the one you have you really don’t know the number of mistakes.  Just in too, that’s what the Bible has always taught.  No one has said this before, but as I speak, well, that’s what it says about itself.  I know that some evangelicals and fundamentalists are now saying that they are getting their doctrine of the preservation of Scripture from the Bible.

Having said that, most evangelicals and fundamentalists don’t believe in the perfect preservation of Scripture.   Kevin Bauder represents their position on this when he writes in Only One Bible? (p. 155) that Scripture does not affirm that “any singled printed text preserves all of the words and only all the words of the autographa.”  He continues:  “Such a specific affirmation clearly lies outside of the teaching of Scripture.”  Those two statements he makes in the first paragraph of his chapter, “An Appeal to Scripture.”  The very next line, which is the first sentence of the second paragraph, he writes:  “If the preservation of the Word of God depends upon the exact preservation of the words of the original documents, then the situation is dire.”  That last statement is the rub for evangelicals and fundamentalists.

From Bauder’s statements, really just quoted as a representation, because this is the stand of almost all of evangelicalism today, you can see that they depend on their sight and their observation, i. e., their scientific discovery, for their position on preservation.  Again and again, evangelicals say that miracle was not the means of God’s preservation.  No miracle involved.  Supernaturalism was not the means.  You would see this many times in Only One Bible? This was not always the case among Christians. At one time, pre-enlightenment and textual criticism, relying on the Bible alone for their doctrine (sola scriptura), they believed in the perfect preservation of Scripture.

Preservation passages are being twisted with the same pattern as creation passages.  If you are going to discard the promises of preservation found in the Bible for the science of textual criticism, that without theological presupposition proudly follows the “evidence,” then next will come other doctrines of scripture like creation.  That’s not all, of course, because the abandonment of a grammatical-historical interpretation of Genesis 1-3 undermines the entire rest of the Bible, including the gospel itself.

A second part to this paradigm is the new evangelical emphasis on primary versus secondary doctrines.  They rank doctrines for the purpose of cobbling together alliances.  These old earth evangelicals want to keep the faux unity between them and the new-earthers.  They attempt to do this by categorizing this creation doctrine as a non-essential.  I read this all over. They insist that it does not affect the gospel, and since the gospel is “first in importance,” the old earth position should not separate them from the new-earth evangelicals.  They just differ on a tertiary issue.  This, of course, is ripped right out of the conservative evangelical and fundamentalist playbook.  If the conservative evangelicals and fundamentalists do not agree to see the nuance between the two beliefs, and not to agree to disagree, they’re the ones causing unnecessary division in “the Lord’s body.”  Evangelicals and fundamentalists don’t mind that you believe in the perfect preservation of Scripture.  They just don’t want you to cause division over it.  Keep the peace.

So let’s review.   Evangelicals already moved into the conform-scripture-to-science column with textual criticism.  The doctrine of perfect preservation was as firmly established as a Christian belief as teaching on creation from Genesis 1-3.  So here we have just more of the same.  And now we can still all get along because none of these are essential doctrines.  Chalk it all up to a paradigm of evangelical unbelief.

The New Life — Put On (Colossians 3:12-17)

June 20, 2010 Comments off

Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. Colossians 3:12-17

General – The New Life – Put On

v     Because we are dead, and risen, and Christ IS life:

  • Mortify
  • Put off, put off, put on
  • Put on – no Gnosticism
    • As God’s elect
    • Who are holy and beloved

v     Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;

  • Bowels of mercies – affections, feelings
  • Kindness – courteousness
  • Humbleness of mind
  • Meekness
  • Longsuffering

v     Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.

  • Forbearing – putting up with others’ idiosyncrasies
  • Forgiving
    • As Christ forgave
    • Forgive and remember no more

v     And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.

  • Binds us together
  • If no love, not complete (1 Corinthians 13)

v     And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

  • Peace
    • Psalm 29:11; 37:11; 119:165
    • John 14:27; 16:33
    • Romans 8:6
    • Philippians 4:7 (keep=rule)
  • Rule
    • Govern each aspect of life
    • Referee (preserve order)

v     Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

  • Word dwell richly – abundantly
  • Teaching – power of songs and music
    • Plato – if I can write songs, don’t care who writes laws
    • Corollary – if I can write hymns, don’t care who preaches
  • Psalms, hymns, spiritual songs (Father, Son, and Holy Ghost)
  • Spiritual songs
  • Notice focus on word and putting on
    • Vs. 9
    • Vs. 16

v     And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

  • Everything else – in HIS name
    • With thankfulness – it is a privilege (1 Corinthians 10:31)
    • His requirement
    • For His honor
    • With His authority
    • He gets the glory