Friday, August 24, 2007

The Cosmic Squish

The Cosmic Squish is the term I use when people want to focus on the Love of God only, and no other aspects of who God is. One of the most common ways we see this is in people's testimonies.

So often, when hearing someone trying lead someone else to Christ, we give our testimonies. This often consists of how our lives were awful before we found Christ, but then we got saved and everything was all better. We essentially tell them that life is peachy now that we have Christ on our side. We usually leave out the fact that we are ridiculed on a daily basis for sharing our faith.

I was reminded of "The Cosmic Squish," yesterday as I listened to a sermon that included the preacher reading cards with testimonies from members of the congregation. Not a single one of them said anything about falling short of the glory of God. About just how much we don't deserve salvation. Nothing about repentance or Lordship. Nothing about being broken in the presence of God

I would never suggest that any of these people are not actually saved, just because their testimony is a little squishy. That's frankly between them and God. I've always liked a story that Ray Comfort tells in his sermon, "Hell's Best Kept Secret."

"Two men are seated in a plane. The first is given a parachute and told to put it on as it would improve his flight. He’s a little skeptical at first because he can’t see how wearing a parachute in a plane could possibly improve the flight. After a time he decides to experiment and see if the claim is true. As he puts it on he notices the weight of it upon his shoulders and he finds that he has difficulty in sitting upright. However, he consoles himself with the fact that he was told the parachute would improve the flight. So, he decides to give the thing a little time. As he waits he notices that some of the other passengers are laughing at him, because he’s wearing a parachute in a plane. He begins to feel somewhat humiliated. As they begin to point and laugh at him and he can stand it no longer, he slinks in his seat, unstraps the parachute, and throws it to the floor. Disillusionment and bitterness fill his heart, because, as far as he was concerned, he was told an outright lie.
The second man is given a parachute, but listen to what he’s told. He’s told to put it on because at any moment he’d be jumping 25,000 feet out of the plane. He gratefully puts the parachute on; he doesn’t notice the weight of it upon his shoulders, nor that he can’t sit upright. His mind is consumed with the thought of what would happen to him if he jumped without that parachute.
Let’s analyze the motive and the result of each passenger’s experience. The first man’s motive for putting the parachute on was solely to improve his flight. The result of his experience was that he was humiliated by the passengers; he was disillusioned and somewhat embittered against those who gave him the parachute. As far as he’s concerned it’ll be a long time before anyone gets one of those things on his back again. The second man put the parachute on solely to escape the jump to come, and because of his knowledge of what would happen to him without it, he has a deep-rooted joy and peace in his heart knowing that he’s saved from sure death. This knowledge gives him the ability to withstand the mockery of the other passengers. His attitude towards those who gave him the parachute is one of heart-felt gratitude.
Now listen to what the modern gospel says. It says, “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ. He’ll give you love, joy, peace, fulfillment, and lasting happiness.” In other words, “Jesus will improve your flight.” So the sinner responds, and in an experimental fashion, puts on the Savior to see if the claims are true. And what does he get? The promised temptation, tribulation, and persecution. The other passengers mock him. So what does he do? He takes off the Lord Jesus Christ, he’s offended for the word’s sake (Mark 4:17), he’s disillusioned and somewhat embittered, and quite rightly so. He was promised peace, joy, love, fulfillment, and lasting happiness, and all he got were trials and humiliation. His bitterness is directed toward those who gave him the so-called “good news”. His latter end becomes worse than the first: another inoculated and bitter backslider."

So let's tell the full truth when we give our testimonies. Salvation is not about improving our lives. It's about glorifying God. It's about improving our afterlives. God has never promised us that once we give our lives to him, everything would be better. Just look at the early church. They were beaten, arrested and martyred for the sake of the gospel. Enough of the "God wants to give you a big hug." gospel. Let's start preaching that God's want to save you from the wrath you deserve.


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The "Unpardonable Sin"

Thanks to Billiam for pointing me to something I've been meaning to study up on for a long time.

"I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin." He said this because they were saying, "He has an evil spirit."
-Mark 3:28-30

I'll admit, the "unpardonable sin" is a topic that I haven't studied much. While I'm rather uneducated on the topic, here is what I do think;

1. First of all, I'm not real clear on what exactly this "sin" is.

2. Given the context of verse 29, Jesus seems to be saying that the blaspheme he is refering to is attributing acts of Jesus to Satan. Or saying that it is the spirit of Satan preforming these miracles.

3. I don't beleive a Christian could commit this "unpardonable sin." John 5:24 states, "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life." If a christian, (one who has beleived and received eternal life,) were to commit this sin, he would have to lose that eternal life, thus making Jesus a liar.

4. It seems logical to me that if an unbeleiver were to commit this "unpardonable sin," the only way that he could never be forgiven for it, (in keeping with God's forgiving character,) would be if his heart were hardened enough that he would never actually seek said forgivness. You decide for yourself whether God hardens his heart or he hardens it himself.

Those are my initial thoughts on the topic. I am going to do some more studying and praying so I can piece together my theoligy on the matter. Thanks again Billiam!


Monday, August 20, 2007

R.I.P. Cynthia

My wife, Tabatha has had her cat, Cynthia, for 20 years. Well, as you might have guessed from the title, Cynthia has passed on now. I found here on Thursday night, resting peacefully in her bed. We barried her right away. (I don't really know how quickly rigamortis sets in.) Tabatha and I took the death fairly well, but Kaitlynn, (the five year old,) took it very bad.

In her five years Kaitlynn has seen a great great grandmother, two great grandmothers, and a great grandfather die. All of whom she was fairly close to. Yet I was surprised to see that she took the death of Cynthia harder than any of the Grandparents' deaths. I guess there is something to be said for the fact that she interacted with Cynthia every single day, but she was still a cat, (not a human.)

Pet lovers have always insisted that their dogs and their cats were as much a part of the family as anyone. I will still tell them that even the death of my unborn child, (whom I had never even met,) was harder on me than the cat. But maybe, just maybe there is something to their point. To Kaitlynn anyway, Cynthia has been her greatest loss yet. Because of Cynthia, but even more because of my love for Kaitlynn, I feel a great pain over the loss of our family cat.

Rest in peace Cynthia.


Friday, August 17, 2007

Me? Marriage counselling?

I guess I knew it was coming sooner or later. Next year, I will be doing my first pre-marital counselling with a couple I will be performing a ceremony for in May. I've prayed about this, and I think I've come up with my approach.

The four leading causes of divorce in the United States are Money, Children, In-Laws, and Religion.

I've found excellent books by Christian authors in the categories of Money and In-Laws, and I think I'd like to find books in the other two categories next.

1. Money -
Total Money Makeover, Dave Ramsey.

Dave condenses his 17 years of financial teaching and counseling into 7 organized, easy-to-follow steps that will lead you out of debt and into a Total Money Makeover. Plus, you’ll read over 50 real-life stories from people just like you who have followed these principles and are now winning with their money. It is a plan designed for everyone, regardless of income or age. All from a christian perspective.

2. In-Laws -
Boundaries, Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

Having clear boundaries is essential to a healthy, balanced lifestyle. A boundary is a personal property line that marks those things for which we are responsible. In other words, boundaries define who we are and who we are not. Boundaries impact all areas of our lives: Physical boundaries help us determine who may touch us, mental boundaries give us the freedom to have our own thoughts, emotional boundaries help us to deal with our own emotions and spiritual boundaries help us to distinguish God's will from our own.
Now I need suggestions for the other two categories. Do you guys know of any books that I should look into. Do you have any suggestions for Money and In-laws? Any help would be great.


Monday, August 13, 2007

Hebrews 6:4-6

A verse was brought to my attention to refute my stance that a true believer can not lose his salvation. MikeT at Code Monkey Ramblings pointed out that Hebrews 6:4-6 seems to indicate that it is possible to "fall away" from the faith.

"It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace."
-Hebrews 6:4-6

This would not mark the first time I've heard this case. I think there are two things that are very important to remember when trying to discern this passage:

1. We must interpret the verses in context with the surrounding verses.
When I read the rest of chapter 6, it seems very obvious to me that Paul is warning the church that there will be false converts within the church. These are people who never leave behind "the elementary teachings about Christ" and go on to maturity. In the verses immediately following our text, Paul talks about two lands receiving rain. The first produced a useful crop, but the second produced thorns and thistles. Yet they both received the same rain.
In the same way, before I was a true beleiver, I received the Holy Spirit's teaching, I felt his presence, and I was granted a small taste of the gift. Yet if I had died in my sins, all those feelings and teachings would have meant nothing. I would have been burned up, just like the land that produced only thorns and thissles.

2. We must interperet the verses in context with the whole Bible.
As with any theology, we can make the Bible say nearly anything we want, if we try hard enough. However, when we read a passage that seems to state something contrary to a clear theme of the Bible, we must look into it. While this passage seems like it might be saying that it is possible to lose ones salvation, verses like Ephesians 1:13-14, John 10:27-29, 1 Peter 1:23, Ephesians 4:30, Philippians 1:6, Philippians 2:12-13, 1 Peter 2:5, Ephesians 2:20-22, and 2 John 1:2 tell us that it is not possible. (I could give you about fifteen more if you'd like.)
If we truly beleive that the Bible is 100% true and does not contradict itself, then Hebrews 6:4-6 must mean something else. I have provided above what I beleive it truly means.

See the post entitle Eternal Security to learn more.


Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Scripture Twisters: 1 Peter 3:19-20

"through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water,"
-1 Peter 3:19-20

A preacher, (who shall remain nameless,) said that this meant that when Jesus preached to the spirits in prison, eight of them heard the gospel message and were saved. He used this verse to justify his belief that those who dies in unbelief will be given a second chance to "accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior."

Let's take a more logical approach to the passage.

First of all, can anyone really make the argument that souls who were subjected to thousands of years of pain and torment would really not jump at the chance to get out of hades? Only eight believed at that point. I would think that once you are in Hell, you are no longer in disbeleif. That's just an assumption though.

Let's look at who the eight people who were saved were. The passage says, "In it only a few people...were saved.." What is "it?" there is only one object mentioned in this passage; the ark. So in the ark only a few were saved. How many people were in the ark? Noah, his wife, his three sons and their wives. That equals EIGHT. Actually, the mentioning of the eight being saved by water is a transition to the next point. In verse 21, it states, "and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God's right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him."

No Mr. un-named pastor, those who are suffering in Hell are not given another chance. Jesus very clearly states that Hell is for an eternity. Please stop using the word of God to spread false doctrines, and mis-lead the Church.


Monday, August 6, 2007

The Bridge

A portion from an article written by John Piper:

"There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, 'Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.'"
-Luke 13:1-5

Jesus implies that those who brought him this news thought he would say that those who died, deserved to die, and that those who didn't die did not deserve to die. That is not what he said. He said, everyone deserves to die. And if you and I don't repent, we too will perish. This is a stunning response. It only makes sense from a view of reality that is radically oriented on God.

All of us have sinned against God, not just against man. This is an outrage ten thousand times worse than the collapse of the 35W bridge. That any human is breathing at this minute on this planet is sheer mercy from God. God makes the sun rise and the rain fall on those who do not treasure him above all else. He causes the heart to beat and the lungs to work for millions of people who deserve his wrath. This a view of reality that desperately needs to be taught in our churches, so that we are prepared for the calamities of the world.

The meaning of the collapse of this bridge is that John Piper is a sinner and should repent or forfeit his life for ever. That means I should turn from the silly preoccupations of my life and focus my mind's attention and my heart's affection on God and embrace Jesus Christ as my only hope for the forgiveness of my sins and for the hope of eternal life. That is God's message in the collapse of this bridge. That is his most merciful message: there is still time to turn from sin and unbelief and destruction for those of us who live. If we could see the eternal calamity from which he is offering escape we would hear this as the most precious message in the world.
(Full Article)

Friday, August 3, 2007

I'm Off!!

Tabatha and I are off for a weekend getaway to celebrate our 7th anniversary. Should be fun. Everybody have a good weekend.


Wednesday, August 1, 2007

More Rapture Talk

Referring back to the post entitled Rapture Delusions.

Geppy writes:

"I was raised a fundamental Christian, believing in the rapture and preaching it to others. Whereas it provides a good way to "scare" others to salvation, I no longer see it as biblical."
"All of the passages that were taught to support the rapture all of a sudden said the opposite."

Thanks for the friendly reminder via Email geppy. Between my non-desk job and the fact that I don't have a computer at home right now, keeping up with the blogging world is a constant struggle.

I agree. I would love to believe in a pre-trib rapture as it is a very convenient view, however I cannot find the scripture to support it. The Bible speaks of a first and second coming of Jesus. According to the pre-trib rapture, Jesus still has to come a second and third time.

All the scripture passages the pre-tribers give seem to have to be taken out of context in order to say what they want them to say. This is a prime example, (to me,) of making the bible validate an existing theology rather than letting the scriptures for your theology for you.

Refer to the original post for a more complete argument.

I'm sure I'll get ripped for this one. I'm sure Secret Rapture will be around too.