Sunday, March 15, 2015

Will the Real Jesus please stand up?

There's the Republican Jesus—who is against tax increases and activist judges, for family values and owning firearms.
There's Democrat Jesus—who is against Wall Street and Wal-Mart, for reducing our carbon footprint and printing money.
There's Therapist Jesus—who helps us cope with life's problems, heals our past, tells us how valuable we are and not to be so hard on ourselves.
There's Open-minded Jesus—who loves everyone all the time no matter what (except for people who are not as open-minded as you).
There's Touchdown Jesus—who helps athletes fun faster and jump higher than non-Christians and determines the outcomes of Super Bowls.
There's Hippie Jesus—who teaches everyone to give peace a chance, imagines a world without religion, and helps us remember that "all you need is love."
There's Yuppie Jesus—who encourages us to reach our full potential, reach for the stars, and buy a boat.
There's Spirituality Jesus—who hates religion, churches, pastors, priests, and doctrine, and would rather have people out in nature, finding "the god within" while listening to ambiguously spiritual music.
There's the intellectual Jesus- who cares only for doctrine and creeds, and wants His followers to be "missional".
There's Platitude Jesus—good for Christmas specials, greeting cards, and bad sermons, inspiring people to believe in themselves.
There's Guru Jesus—a wise, inspirational teacher who believes in you and helps you find your center.
There's Boyfriend Jesus—who wraps his arms around us as we sing about his intoxicating love in our secret place.
(Obviously none of these represents the true Jesus who is God reigning in Heaven, who died on the cross for our sins, rose and conquered death on the third day. Who is at the same time a God of mercy, love, wrath, justice, compassion, and all knowing and all powerful. Who is a perfect Father and Savior! And who is coming back soon in judgement and will restore the earth out of sin and the curse! That's the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!!)

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Christian Worldview for Children

All Christian parents want to train their children to be “good kids.” But that honorable goal is starkly shallow compared to the eternal purposes God has in mind for your parenting.

The purpose of training is to prepare the soil of our child's heart so they will seek God for themselves and be convicted of their own sinfulness and their need to repent. Compelling a child to “pray a sinner's prayer” will not save them. It will only make false converts if the heart is not prepared for God's presence.

The Bible mentions the heart 826 times. “Heart” refers to the core of a person's being. From the heart proceed our good and bad thoughts, emotions and behavior. What we teach our children can determine whether that soil is prepared to produce good or evil.

Nothing is more important than seeding deep within the heart and mind of a child core Christian convictions like Jesus is God; The reasons we know Jesus Christ rose from the dead, why we should be convinced the Bible is a true and accurate revelation from beginning to end and the absolute truth that Jesus is the only way to God. Unless our children know these and other key doctrines revealed in the Bible, they will not be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Although the word “doctrine” sometimes intimidates people, it is nothing more than a description of the will of God and the Gospel. If we have not trained the hearts and minds of our children to love sound teachings then we should not be surprised when three-fourths of them eventually walk away from the faith in college.

Excerpt from the book:

"The purpose of our training is to prepare
the soil of our children’s hearts so they will seek God for
themselves and be convicted of sinfulness and the need
to repent. Forcing or coercing children to “pray a sinner’s
prayer” will not save them but only make false converts.
I know this well from personal experience. At the age of
five, I prayed a “sinner’s prayer,” and at seven I walked the
aisle to join our church and be baptized. For years, I used
these acts to affirm my salvation. I learned to “perform,” to
do what was expected of me, or to do what I knew would
make other Christians respect and accept me.
I played the “game” even though I didn’t know I was
playing a game. I thought I was saved because I had prayed
the right prayer, walked the aisle, and was baptized. It was
not until I read Revival’s Golden Key by Ray Comfort that
I understood my total depravity and need for Biblical repentance. "

Order it here: Christian Worldview for Children

Monday, March 2, 2015

ALL CHRISTIANS HAVE A BIBLICAL WORLDVIEW, RIGHT?


By Dr. Woodrow Kroll


          You would think that all Christians have a biblical view of the world around them.  After all, we go to church, we're a part of a small group, we've read The Purpose-Driven Life.  Are you ready for a reality check?  The research says just the opposite.  Most Christians do not have a biblical worldview.



          Author and researcher George Barna made waves by citing statistics that show just 9 percent of all adults in America who claim to be "born again" have a biblical worldview.  You didn't read that incorrectly-it was 9 percent.   Protestants as a whole could only manage 7 percent with a biblical worldview (The Barna Research Group, January 12, 2004).



But that can't be possible, can it?  How could only 9 percent of born again adults view the world with a biblical focus?   Let me make a few observations.



Bible illiteracy is rampant in the church



          Like it or not, it's time we faced up to the fact that we Christians are blatantly biblically illiterate.  We don't know the Bible nearly as well as we think we do. 

To say that Bible illiteracy is rampant in America is black eye for a nation that thinks of itself as Christian.  Sixty-five percent of Americans agree that the Bible "answers all or most of the basic questions of life."  Amazingly, 28% of Americans who believe the Bible "answers all or most of the basic questions of life" say they rarely or never read the Bible  (The Gallup Organization, October 20, 2000).  Therein lies the problem.

But that's the American public.  What about the American church?  Surely we aren't as biblically illiterate as our unchurched neighbor?  Don't count on it.

Among those individuals who are associated with the Christian faith, only half (50%) rate themselves as being "absolutely committed" to the Christian faith (Barna Research Group, March 19, 2004).  This lack of commitment to the faith often stems from a lack of commitment to the Word of God, the foundation for our faith. 

In 2004, 16% of all adults agreed somewhat that the Bible is totally accurate in all of its teachings compared with 19% in 2002 and 25% in 1991.  Still, 12 percent of born again Christians disagree that the Bible is totally accurate in all of its teachings (Barna Research Group, "The Bible," 2004).

This innate mistrust of the Bible has resulted in millions of people owning Bibles but very few reading or believing them.   The percentage of frequent readers, those who read the Bible at least once a week, has decreased from 40% in 1990 to 37% today.  Only one American in seven reports an involvement with the Bible that goes beyond reading it (The Gallup Organization, October 20, 2000).  The "born again" segment of the population fares only slightly better.

          But with more programs, more 40-day adventures, more training in leadership skills, surely today's pastors are better equipped than ever before to help their people out of the quagmire of Bible illiteracy.  You'd think.

Pastors often do not themselves hold biblical worldviews.

Isaiah 56:11 makes reference to "shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way . . . ."   We have to be careful not to generalize here because there are many fine men of God who are concerned about their people's understanding of the Word.  Still, an increasing number "look to their own way," or if not their own way, the way of the latest hot book on church growth.

Based on interviews with 601 Senior Pastors nationwide, representing a random cross-section of Protestant churches, Barna reports that only half of the country's Protestant pastors – 51% - have a biblical worldview (Barna Research Group, January 12, 2004).



George Barna argued, "The low percentage of Christians who have a biblical worldview is a direct reflection of the fact that half of our primary religious teachers and leaders (senior pastors) do not have one."



In some denominations, the vast majority of clergy do not have a biblical worldview, and it shows up clearly in the data related to the theological views and moral choices of people who attend those churches"  (Barna Research Group, January 12, 2004).

The result of Bible illiteracy is theological heterodoxy.

          Heterodoxy is just a big word for whacky theology.  Because people in the pews don't know their Bibles very well, and because the pastor feels constrained to preach so as not to offend the mixed multitude attending church on Sunday morning, born-again adults are beginning to formulate some beliefs and practices that are anything but biblical.

George Barna says that Americans willingly "embrace beliefs that are logically contradictory and their preference for blending different faith views together create unorthodox religious viewpoints."

Consider these findings:

n      Among born again Christians, 10% believe that people are reincarnated after death.

n      Among born again Christians, 29% claim it is possible to communicate with the dead.

n      Fifty percent of born again Christians contend that a person can earn salvation based upon good works  (Barna Research Group, October 21, 2003).

Don't miss this.  We are not talking about the beliefs of Americans here.  We aren't even talking about the beliefs of churched Americans.  We are talking about "born-again, churched Americans."  These are things believed by the people who sat in the pew next to you last Sunday.

4.  Biblical illiteracy that leads to theological heterodoxy always leads to moral frailty.

          Those who have a biblical worldview also hold to biblical concepts and standards for living.  Here's the proof.

n      Less than one-half of one percent of those with a biblical worldview said voluntary exposure to pornography was morally acceptable (compared to 39% of other adults).

n      Those people with a biblical worldview were eight times less likely to buy lottery tickets and 17 times less likely to place bets than those who did not have a biblical worldview.

n      While one out of every eight adults who lack a biblical worldview had sexual relations with someone other than their spouse during the prior month, less than one out of every 100 individuals who have such a worldview had done so (Barna Research Group, December 1, 2003).

          Obviously knowing the Bible well impacts living with a biblical worldview and vice versa.

Follow the progression.  We read our Bibles less and therefore understand less biblical truth.  We attend a church where biblical truth was once the hallmark of the pulpit, but today the pulpit has been removed and we are fed a steady diet of spiritual gummy bears, more taste-less filling. 

As a dumbed-down church we look for a belief system that matches others who have come into the church or those we read or watch on Christian television or hear on Christian radio. 

We are so biblically ignorant we don't even know that we've adopted beliefs that are much closer to Eastern mysticism than Christian orthodoxy.  As a result, even though we are proudly part of the "born again" segment of Christianity, we hold a worldview that is no more biblical than our non-churched neighbor.

          Does that hurt?  It should.  The truth often hurts.  But we cannot correct the flaws in our worldview until we admit those flaws exist.  And do they ever exist!

          In future articles we'll address what you can do if you feel your worldview weakening.  For now, get back to the Bible and you'll start to reverse the progression toward moral malaise.


Saturday, February 28, 2015

Pop Culture in the Church


A few scriptures to refute this idea of making the church more "relevant" to reach the culture. Plus, the church is not going to be relevant to a culture who does not seek after God nor loves Him. The church body goes out into the culture and shares the message of the Gospel so that they can be converted and join the body of Christ.

"Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." (James 4:4)

"Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry." (2 Timothy 4:2-5)

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Real Meaning of Salt and Light

(excerpt from "Religious Trojan Horse" by Brannon Howse)

"The New Religious Right uses the biblical theme of salt and light to argue that we are called to focus time, energy, and money on Christian activism. Yet the overarching message of Matthew 5:13–16 is not about Christian activism but about proclaiming the Gospel. In Matthew 5 Jesus says: “You are the light of the world… Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Christians should be involved in good works such as defending the lives of the unborn, caring for widows and orphans, and running crisis pregnancy centers. The reason, though, is that people will see
the transforming power of the Gospel in our lives. Good works when used as a platform for the Gospel offers unbelievers the chance to see the light of Christ within our lives and to give glory to our heavenly Father.
Christian activism apart from the Gospel has no eternal value and is, in fact, a sin because we are not obeying God and fulfilling the Great Commission. When Christians call on unbelievers to conform
to a certain “religious standard” without faith and repentance in Jesus Christ, we run the risk of leading them to believe that becoming a Christian means simply living a good life. This ignores the central fact that “there is none that are good, no, not one” (Romans 3:10).
Christians and the Church, not the civil government, are called to be salt and light. Romans 13 declares that government and laws exist to deter evil. The government causes lawbreakers to fear the consequences of their actions, but just because a man is afraid of the law and so decides not to steal, rape, or murder, that does not save him from the eternal wrath of God. No matter how many pieces of legislation become law and no matter the number of laws to which the unsaved conform, they are still lost in sin and need to hear the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ.
When the Church takes on the role of morality police to penalize with a loss of sales, for example, the immoral actions of a company run by unbelievers, we are only addressing the symptoms of their unsaved condition. On the other hand, when Christians are spiritual lifeguards who preach the Gospel instead of moralism, we address the root cause of man’s immoral actions. Getting to this root of the problem is the world’s only hope. How can people change their values and conduct unless they change their worldviews? Jeremiah 13:23 echoes this impossibility: “Can the Ethiopian
change his skin or the leopard its spots? Then may you also do good who are accustomed to do evil?”
How can the unregenerate be anything less than they are? Their worldviews are the foundation of their values, and their values are the foundation of their conduct. Until their unbiblical worldviews are transformed into a biblical view through faith and repentance in Jesus Christ, they are slaves to sin.
Moralism is just as dangerous and deadly as outright liberalism. As John MacArthur has said:
It makes no difference if an unsaved person is for or against abortion, a political liberal or a conservative, a prostitute or a police officer, he will spend eternity apart from God unless he repents  and believes the gospel.The hardest people to reach with the Gospel are not prostitutes,drug addicts, or reprobates who know they deserve to go to hell, but the morally upright who think they are good people that deserve heaven."

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Ashamed of the Gospel: Excerpts

The following are excerpts from John MacArthur's book "Ashamed of the Gospel." I feel like so much of what is written about in this book really gets to the issues of today within evangelicalism. Read for yourself and ask yourself if you see these trends in your own church.

"This ideas that you are going to win people to the Christian faith by showing them that after all you are remarkably like them, is theologically and psychologically a profound blunder." (preface)

"The Great Commission is not a marketing manifesto. Evangelism does not require salesman, but prophets. It is the Word of God, not any earthly enticement, that plants the seed for the new birth (1 Peter 1:23). We gain nothing but God's displeasure if we seek to remove the offense of the cross (cf Gal. 5:11)." (preface)

"Size does not signify God's blessing. And popularity is no barometer of success. In fact, it can be a reason for condemnation.......Real success is doing the will of God regardless of the consequences." (pg. 29)

"His (Paul's) goal as a preacher was not to entertain people with his rhetorical style, or to amuse them with cleverness, humor, novel insights, or sophisticated methodology-he simply preached Christ crucified.......The preacher's task is not to be a conduit for human wisdom; he is God's voice to speak to the congregation." (pg. 32)

"But people's deepest need is to confess and overcome their sin. So preaching that fails to confront and correct sin through the Word of God does not meet people's need. It may make them feel good. And they may respond enthusiastically to the preacher, but that does not mean such preaching meets real needs." (pg 34)

 "Evangelicalism has lost its tolerance for confrontive preaching. Now the church is flirting with serious doctrinal error. Christians madly pursue extra biblical revelation in the form of prophecies and dreams. Preachers deny or ignore the reality of hell. The modern gospel promises heaven apart from holiness. Churches ignore the biblical teaching on women's roles, homosexuality, and other politically-charged issues. The human medium has overtaken the divine message." (36-37)

"If the design is to make the seeker comfortable, isn't that rather incompatible with the biblical teaching on sin, judgment, hell, and several other important topics? So the biblical message is inevitably distorted by the philosophy. And what about the believer who should be fed?" (pg48)

"The contemporary user-friendly movement aims for just hte opposite. Rather than arousing fear of God, it attempts to portray Him as fun, jovial, easygoing, lenient, and even permissive. Haughty sinners who ought to approach God in terror (Luke 18:13) are emboldened to presume on His grace. Sinners hear nothing of divine wrath. This is as wrong as preaching rank heresy." (pg 63)

"Now evangelicals everywhere are franctically seeking new techniques and new forms of entertainment to attract people. Whether the method is biblical or not scarcely seems to matter to the average church leader today. Does it work? That is the new test of legitimacy. And so raw pragmatism has become the driving force in much of the professing church." (pg71)

"We don't need clever approaches to get people saved ( 1 Cor. 1:21). We simply need to get back to preaching the truth and planting the seed. If we're faithful in that, the soil God has prepared will bear fruit." (pg 86)

"Many professing Christians appear to care far more about the world's opinion than God's. Churches are so engrossed in trying to please non-Christians that many have forgotten their first duty is to please God (2 Cor. 5:9). The church has been so over-contextualized that it has become corrupted by the world." (pg102)

"Human wisdom caters to self-will, intellectual and social pride, fleshly lusts, and the desire for independence from God. Human wisdom and the gospel are therefor constitutionally imcompatiable. Try to combine the two, and Paul says you render the gospel null and void." (pg 111)

"The gospel demands that people acknowledge their sin and spiritual impotence. It humiliates them, convicts them, and calls them sinners. Moreover, it offers salvation as a gracious work of God-not something people can accomplish on their own. In every way the cross crushes human pride." (pg 111)

"Paul would not have been able to understand preachers who, given the privilege of preaching the gospel, choose instead to entertain people, tell anecdotes, or give speeches on self-esteem. He was ready to suffer persecution, be beaten, go to prison, or even be killed for the privilege of preaching the gospel." (pg126)

"The gospel itself is disagreeable, unattractive, repulsive, and alarming to the world. It exposes sin, condemns pride, convicts the unbelieving heart, and shows human righteousness-even the best, most appealing aspects of human nature-to be worthless, defiled, filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). It affirms that the real problems in life are not because of anyone but ourselves. We are fallen sinners, with deceitful hearts, evil motives, pervasive pride. We cannot blame anyone else for our future and misery. That is not a popular view, particularly in today's psychological climate. It comes as bad news to those who love sin, and many who hear it for the first time react with disdain against the messenger." (pg 128)

"If church history teaches us anything, it is that different times and different societies do not require different messages. Those who peach anything other than the unadulterated gospel forfeit the power of God in their ministries." (Pg 134)

"Faith in God's absolute sovereignty would deliver the church from the down-grade of pragmatism and worldliness. It would drive us back to biblical preaching. If preachers only had confidence in God's power and God's Word, they would not feel it necessary to trim and adjust and tone down the message. They would not view evangelism as a marketing problem, but they would see it for what it is-the proclamation of divine revelation as the only means by which God calls the elect to Himself." (pg 172)

"We don't want growth that is manufactured by human formulas, programs, and gimmicks. We are content to focus on aggressive biblical ministry and leave it to the Lord to add to His church (Acts 2:47). Our task is to be faithful in what He has designed for us to do." (pg174)







Thursday, February 19, 2015

Worship Service or Customer Service?


 "For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!" - 2 Corinthians 11:4

(Excerpts from Religious Trojan Horse by Brannon Howse)

Following Peter Drucker’s model, the people who go to church can now be viewed as customers. in a 1998 Forbes magazine interview, Drucker bridges business and church strategies when he says, “non- customers are as important as customers, if not more important: be- cause they are potential customers.... Yet it is with the noncustomers that changes always start.”305
This suggests that nonchurch attendees are potential customers, so noncustomers are more important than the church’s customers. There are also more noncustomers than customers, and if you can find out why noncustomers aren’t yet customers, you can turn them into customers by doing the right things to attract them.
What market research can help you discover this necessary non- customer information? You go around your town or city and take a survey of neighborhoods, asking unbelievers how they would program a church so they would want to attend (this has really been done). The unsaved, not surprisingly, want a church that looks like the world and makes them feel comfortable. They want a pastor who is a life coach to assist them in having their “best life now.”
This is the same model Bill Hybels of Willow Creek Church has promoted for years. Hybels also signed the Yale document and has hosted Rob Bell, Brian Mclaren, Tony Blair, and rock star Bono at his church or conferences. (His family aids in perpetuating the agenda as well: Bill Hybels’s wife writes for neo-Marxist jim Wallis in Sojourner magazine.) Hybels seems especially comfortable with the Drucker model as he declares:
unchurched people today are the ultimate consumers. We may not like it, but for every sermon we preach, they’re asking, “am i interested in that subject or not?” if they aren’t, it doesn’t matter how effective our delivery is; their minds will check out.306
The unbeliever who attends a church where the gospel is being preached might laugh and discount the message because the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing (1 Corinthians 1:18). The un- believer may hear the gospel and decide that he or she wants to hear more. or he or she may hear, believe, repent, and come to faith. These are the three responses Paul received when he preached the gospel to  skeptics and critics on Mars Hill as recounted in acts 17. That’s the way it is supposed to work.
Yes, the unsaved may hear the gospel and reject it, but the solu- tion is not to water down the gospel to make it more appealing, but to preach the gospel and pray the Holy spirit convicts unbelievers of sin and that they respond by repenting and placing their faith and trust in Jesus Christ. it is not our job to get people saved. it is simply our calling as disciples of Jesus Christ to present the biblical truth of the gospel without compromise.