Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The "Emergent" Church

The "emergent" movement is sweeping the nation and Evangelical churches everywhere. What is it? Wikipedia desribes it as follows: "The emerging church movement is a controversial[1] 21st-century Christian movement whose participants seek to engage postmodern people, especially the unchurched and post-churched. To accomplish this, "emerging Christians" or "emergents" seek to deconstruct and reconstruct Christian beliefs, standards, and methods to fit in the postmodern mold. Proponents of this movement call it a "conversation" to emphasize its developing and decentralized nature. The predominantly young participants in this movement prefer narrative presentations drawn from their own experiences and biblical narratives over propositional, Bible exposition. Emergent methodology includes frequent use of new technologies such as multimedia and the Internet. Their acceptance of diversity and reliance on open dialogue rather than the dogmatic proclamation found in historic Christianity leads emergents to diverse beliefs and morality."

I would describe it as an attempt to reach out to post modern thinkers. An on going effort to make church more fun, thus becoming more appealing to people who think the church is just fulll of a bunch of "old fuddy duddies." The question that I would ask, is are we supposed to conform to the culture? It is my personal belief that the church should pluck people out of "culture," so that they may conform to Christ. The following is a list of flaws commonly found in the "Emergent" movement. (As found in the article, My Jorney In and Out of the Emergent Church, by Jason Carlson.) As you read, ask yourself if you can see any of these aspects in your church, or more importantly, in your own belief system.

- A highly ambiguous handling of truth.
- A desire to be so inclusive and tolerant that there is virtually no sense of biblical discernment in terms of recognizing and labeling false beliefs, practices, or lifestyles.
- A quasi-universalistic view of salvation.
- A lack of a proper appreciation for biblical authority over and against personal experience or revelation.
- Openness to pagan religious practices like Hindu Yoga and incorporating them into the Christian life and Christian worship.
- Openly questioning the relevance of key historical biblical doctrines such as the Trinity.
- An uncritically open embrace of the Catholic and Orthodox churches.
- An unbridled cynicism towards conservative evangelicalism and fundamentalism.
- A reading of scripture that is heavily prejudiced towards a social gospel understanding.
- Little or no talk of evangelism or saving lost souls.
- A salvation by osmosis mentality, where if you hangout with us long enough you’re in.

Questions? Comments?

Monday, May 28, 2007

Follow Your Heart

"..the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them." - Romans 2:15

There are times in all of our lives when we come to a fork in the road. There are two, maybe three or four different options and we don’t know which way to go. At that point, some of us stop and analyze the situation, some of us pray to God for direction, still others prefer to sit back and wait until the right decision seems to present itself to us. How should we handle these difficult, sometimes gut wrenching, often life changing decisions? That’s easy: Do what is right.

We all have a sense of right and wrong instilled in us starting as soon as we emerge from the womb. We instantly begin learning what is good and what is evil. We become very adapt at differentiating right from wrong. We also learn at a young age to convince ourselves that “wrong” might not be that bad. We call it “experimenting.” We write our mistakes of as a “learning experience,” all the while knowing, at least on some level, that what we are doing is not what is right.

1 Timothy 4:16 says “Watch your life and your doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save yourself and your hearers.” This applies to believers and non-believers alike.

To “watch your life” means to take a step back and look at your life. Are you living the way that you KNOW you should be? Have you made a few bad choices? Strayed down a path or two that you should have stayed away from? Take an honest look at your life and admit your shortcomings. Only then can you begin to rectify them.

To “watch your doctrine” means to stay true to your convictions. We were all taught at least the basics of right and wrong by our parents and/or the good influences in our lives. The problem is that sometimes we become blinded by our lifestyles. We become comfortable with who and what we are. With contentment comes laziness. Our core values become lackadaisical or completely change over time. Take a step back and make sure that your values and convictions are still where they should be.

The fact is, when we reach that point in our lives where we have to make a tough decision, the answer is usually obvious. Unfortunately, the right thing to do is almost never the easiest thing to do. The world tells us to take the easiest way, but our hearts often disagree. When the time comes to change our lives with one decision, we need to be honest with ourselves, we need to humble ourselves, and we need to stay true to our convictions. Sometimes life is hard, but through honesty, humility and obedience we will do what is right. Remember, when in doubt, follow your heart.

Questions? Comments?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Eternal Security

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast"
-Ephesians 2:8-9

This argument behind “Once Saved, Always Saved” comes down to one basic question;
Are we saved through Jesus' work on the cross, or are we saved because of our own works?

Jesus tells us that he is the way, the truth, and the life. Then he tells us that no man can come to the father except through him. (John 14:6) This means that the only way we can possibly be saved is through faith in Jesus Christ. There is no other way.

If we believe that we can do something,... ANYTHING to lose our salvation, then we are putting our faith in ourselves. Keep the doctrines of the bible to keep salvation? How is that any different than someone saying that you MUST be baptized in order to gain eternal life? Yet we all agree that baptism is not necessary for salvation, (at least I think we all agree.) God promises us eternal life if we just believe in our hearts that Jesus Christ died for our sins and defeated death three days later when he rose from the dead. God ALWAYS keeps his promises.

"And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession—to the praise of his glory."
-Ephesians 1:13-14

The King James Version uses the word Earnest in place of deposit. When I was 20 years old, I took a comprehensive Real Estate course. (I had planned on becoming a real estate agent at one point in my life.) In the world of real estate, an earnest means a down payment, gauranteeing that you will complete the transaction at a later date. If for any reason, you do not follow through with the transaction, the other party gets to keep your earnest money. This is the same concept used here. God has given us the Holy Spirit as a down payment towards our salvation. It is a contract between us and God that he will make good on the promise of our redemption. If God for any reason goes back on his promise, we would be entitled to keep the Holy Spirit. That's means that we would take the Holy Spirit to Hell with us. The Holy Spirit in Hell?

The bottom line is this: We are saved by God's grace, and not our own works. We are saved through faith in Jesus Christ. He is the only way to the father. None of us deserve to go to heaven and we could never do enough good deeds to get there. If God has saved us, than it is final. If one is putting his faith in anything other than the sanctifying work of Jesus Christ, (including faith in himself to live the Christian life,) then I fear for that man's eternal salvation. Trust in Jesus and only Jesus. He IS the way, the truth and the life.


Monday, May 21, 2007

God's Word is Enough for Me

When did the word of God stop being enough? Why do we insist on minimizing the sovereignty and holiness of God? The following is an excerpt from

“I only recently heard this story, and I find it utterly disgusting. This church in Melbourne , Florida , in an attempt to attract “seekers” resorted to give communion dressed as clowns. A world full of people that want nothing to do with the blood that was shed on a wooden cross to pay the price for their sins and save them from the judgment to come will only come to church if the service is being conducted by clowns. This is what the body of Christ has come to? I am sorry, but if people don’t want to come to church to worship the Lord, I don’t want them there. “

The church has been on a steady track towards being “seeker sensitive” for some time now. That is, doing more and more to attract unsaved people to the church. For some churches it is the “Best Sex Ever” series. For other churches it is the Harley Davidson themed bathroom. I personally have always been under the impression that church service was a place for believers to gather together in Christian fellowship, worship the Lord our God and be edified through solid teaching by a solid student of the bible. Is that wrong?

There always has been and always will be a place for outreach and evangelism in the church, but it is not the church service itself. We wonder why Christians are becoming weaker in their faith. We wonder why our country’s moral values are going down the tubes. Maybe part of it is the fact that so many churches have abandoned the teaching of the word of God for the sake of entertaining “seekers.”

Questions? Comments?

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Repentance - Not Biblical?

A pastor by the name of Dr. Hank Lindstrom has been talking about repentance recently on his radio show, Bibleline. I have always understood repentance as one turning their back on sin. Dr. Lindstrom placed a doubt in my mind as to the definition of sin.

Dr. Lindstroms' argument is that the word repentance is a bad translation of the original Greek, "metanoia." (met-an'-oy-ah) Metanoia means a change of mind. (1) He basically says that repentance is simply a change of mind about who God is. We would go from thinking that Jesus is just a man to believing that Jesus is God.

I took the liberty of looking into this for myself and I did find some validity to Dr. Lindstroms argument. The original Greek, "metanoia," is used in 24 of the approximately 105 times the bible talks about repentance. However, the word seems to be used in verses that do refer specifically to a "change of mind."

Likewise, the original Greek word, "metanoeo," (met-an-o-eh'-o) appears 32 times and seems to appear in many of the verses that talk about repentance as a means to salvation. Metanoeo means to change one's mind for better, heartily to amend with abhorrence of one's past sins. (2) This does seem to fit with the traditional English definition of the word repent.

My mind is not completely made up as of yet, but I must say at this point, I'm leaning towards the traditional definition of the word. While I respect Dr. Lindstrom a great deal, it seems to me he might be a bit on the legalistic side of this arguement. Who knows, maybe God will still enlighten me on this one.

Luke 13:2,3 "And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent (metanoeo,) ye shall all likewise perish.

Acts 2:38 "Then Peter said unto them, Repent (metanoeo,) and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."

Questions? Comments?

1. - The KJV New Testament Greek Lexicon

2. - The KJV New Testament Greek Lexicon

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Predestination vs. Man's Free Will

Romans 8:28-30

28And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

29For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

30Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

It seems that this set of verses support the doctrine of predestination, yet countless believers are dead set against even the notion that God predestined anything upon anyone. I myself have made the argument countless times. "If everything we do is according to God's plan, then that means that God chose for Eve to eat the fruit, causing sin to enter into the world, therefore, God created sin." Yet it seems that time and time again the bible affirms the thought process behind predestination. Joseph said to his brothers, "Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life....So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt." (Genesis 45:5,8)

Time and time again the bible very clearly states that God has foreseen all. To deny that God has complete control directly contradicts the express assertions of the bible and it takes away the sovereignty of God.

Unfortunately for all of us, it is not quite that simple. You see if man did not have free will, then the need for the bible simply would not be there. If God truly controlled every thought and action we have, he couldn't he just force us to worship him? We all have a conscience. No one can deny us that. We all feel the weight of decision making. We have weighed the pros and cons of countless potential actions in our lives. Verses such as Romans 10:9 and John 3:16 make it obvious to us that there is a CHOICE to be made.

So the dilemma that we are faced with is that both doctrines seem to hold true, yet both doctrines seem to contradict one another. So we must ask ourselves this question; Can God foreordain all things, and yet form an intelligent being who is a perfectly free, moral and accountable agent? The answer is impossible for our human minds to comprehend, for the decision demands omniscience. Only God can answer this one. I suggest that we approach this one with faith that both doctrines can be and must be true, and that only God understands why and how.

Dr. Richard Fuller said in 1892 "True wisdom is always humble. The wisdom which descendeth from above is so profoundly humble that it at once confesses its ignorance and says, 'If any man think that he knoweth anything, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.' If we attempt to explain and reconcile the doctrines of predestination and free agency, we find impassable barriers hemming us in, and sharp adamant striking us back. But the proofs of these doctrines are irrefragable. Their harmony we must leave with God; it is an ultimate fact transcending our thoughts; but clear to that Intellect which is the supreme fountain of all light and love."

Questions? Comments?