Friday, December 31, 2010

A Sad Day for The Assemblies of God Denomination

Posted on September 8th 2010 by Ken Ham

The general presbytery of the Assemblies of God (AG) denomination, in session August 9–11, 2010, adopted a revised statement on “The Doctrine of Creation.” Here is an excerpt from the official AG position paper, that opens the door to evolution and millions of years, and the various compromise positions on Genesis held by some in the church (such as gap theory, day age, progressive creation, theistic evolution, etc):

The advance of scientific research, particularly in the last few centuries, has raised many questions about the interpretation of the Genesis accounts of creation. In attempting to reconcile the Bible and the theories and conclusions of contemporary scientists, it should be remembered that the creation accounts do not give precise details as to how God went about His creative activity. Nor do these accounts provide us with complete chronologies that enable us to date with precision the time of the various stages of creation. Similarly, the findings of science are constantly expanding; the accepted theories of one generation are often revised in the next.

As a result, equally devout Christian believers have formed very different opinions about the age of the earth, the age of humankind, and the ways in which God went about the creative processes. Given the limited information available in Scripture, it does not seem wise to be overly dogmatic about any particular creation theory.

Whatever creation theory we individually may prefer, we must affirm that the entire creation has been brought into being by the design and activity of the Triune God. Moreover, we also affirm that the New Testament treats the creation and fall of Adam and Eve as historical events in which the Creator is especially involved. We urge all sincere and conscientious believers to adhere to what the Bible plainly teaches and to avoid divisiveness over debatable theories of creation.

(“The Doctrine of Creation,” 2010,

The following is an excerpt from AG’s 1977 position paper on “The Doctrine of Creation”:

This Bible record of creation thus rules out the evolutionary philosophy which states that all forms of life have come into being by gradual, progressive evolution carried on by resident forces. It also rules out any evolutionary origin for the human race, since no theory of evolution, including theistic evolution, can explain the origin of the male before the female, nor can it explain how a man could evolve into a woman.
(“The Doctrine of Creation,” 1977,, accessed 11/8/10)

What is sad to notice is this 2010 revision of such a strong statement about creation. The following is their statement on creation from the Assemblies of God website that was based on the 1977 position paper (that we presume will be modified to now fit their 2010 statement):

Why does the Assemblies of God hold a strong position on creationism? Could the evolution theory or portions of it fit into the Bible’s account of creation? Also, why is our origin so important?

The Assemblies of God has a deep commitment to creationism-that God is the Author and Creator of all life (Genesis 1:1; Psalms 121:2; 124:8; 146:5,6; Isaiah 40:26,28; 1 Peter 4:19). By the power of His Word, He created everything out of nothing (Hebrews 11:3). The visible was created out of the invisible, the material out of the nonmaterial, and the tangible out of the intangible.

However, by what means was His creative work accomplished? More specifically, did God employ a gradual process by which the world came into being? Did higher forms of life progress from lower forms of life? The advocates of gradual process are called theistic evolutionists. For them, God’s creative days recorded in Genesis may well have been eons of time.

Assemblies of God believers hold that the Genesis account should be taken literally. Admittedly, there is progression in God’s creative work. But each step was concluded: “And there was evening, and there was morning.” This points to a specific measurement of time. The most natural reading of the creation account therefore is to place it in parallel with a 7-day week. By doing so, the burden of determining time frames and development for various components of creation is avoided. Furthermore such a literal view of God’s creation process requires no more faith than theories of science-that our world evolved to its current state by the accidental collision of molecules.

For Christians, the question of origin is most critical. If mankind has merely evolved from lower forms of life, one cannot possess the special imprint of God’s likeness (Genesis 1:27; 2:7). If all of life is but the result of natural forces as told through various strains of evolution, it then becomes impossible to understand and know God through His creation.

Ultimately for most Christians it comes to this: if God is not Author and Creator of all that is, life offers little meaning or purpose for mankind. In evolution there is no judgment, and therefore no punishment or reward for the way we live. Through the view of evolution, lifestyle choices don’t matter. Instead life and creation simply evolve. But from the view of creationism, recognizing God’s handiwork and order, life takes on great meaning and renders significant eternal reward.

Actually, the difference between the 1977 AG statement on creation and the revised 2010 statement reflects the battle that has been raging ever since events from Genesis 3 took place. In Genesis 3, Satan tempted Eve by getting her to doubt God’s Word. Eve was asked, “Did God Really Say?” The apostle Paul warns us in 2 Corinthians 11:3 that Satan will use the same method on us as he did on Eve—to get us to a position of unbelief regarding God’s Word. What Satan was doing was getting Adam and Eve to question God’s Word, and to act as “gods.” In essence, Adam and Eve decided to make fallible man the authority over God’s Word, instead of judging everything against the absolute authority of God’s Word.

In the statement based on the 1977 paper, the Assemblies of God state, “The most natural reading of the creation account . . . ” And when a person reads this account, it is taken as the Word of God in Genesis as written, and we let God speak through his Word—and do not compromise the days of creation or the creation account with evolution. Obviously back in the 1970s, the AG was stating that we cannot take man’s ideas and reinterpret God’s Word. Amen!

Then note the major change in the 2010 revision. Now the Assemblies of God statement reads, “The advance of scientific research, particularly in the last few centuries, has raised many questions about the interpretation of the Genesis accounts of creation. In attempting to reconcile the Bible and the theories and conclusions of contemporary scientists . . . ”

In other words, they have now succumbed to the view—prevalent in the church today—that is undermining the authority of God’s Word, and ultimately is significantly contributing to the collapse of Christianity in our Western world. The AG with its August statement is now saying we have to take the fallible ideas of fallible humans and use these in authority over the Word of God.

In our best-selling book Already Gone, we publicized the results of the statistically powerful research conducted by America’s Research Group on why two-thirds of young people are leaving the church when they reach college age. The bottom line is that the research showed that the children, at a young age, were already succumbing to doubts about God’s Word; the main reasons for this is because of what they are being taught at school (most went to public schools), the church is not teaching apologetics (i.e., teaching a defense of the faith, and teaching them how to answer skeptical questions), and many church leaders tell them they can believe in millions of years (and also evolution), thus compromising God’s Word. The young people see this as “hypocrisy” (church leaders telling them to believe the Bible, but then telling them they don’t have to take it as written in Genesis for instance), and thus, most of them end up walking away from their church.

The Hillsong Connection

One of the most influential pastors in the Assemblies of God denomination is Pastor Brian Houston of Hillsong in Australia. (He is a leader of the Assemblies of God denomination in Australia.) Many churches around the world use the worship music that comes out of Hillsong; thus, Brian Houston is extremely influential in the Assemblies of God denomination worldwide. After I happened to see a video on television where he was teaching that one certainly didn’t have to take the six days of creation as ordinary days, I decided to research any printed statements of his on the topic of Genesis/creation. Here is a statement, which sadly, exhibits the same compromise wording consistent with the Assemblies of God’s 2010 revised statement on creation.

Pastor Brian Houston, Hillsong Church Australia, stated the following in an interview:

I believe in creation. The Bible starts in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. If I waver on the first 10 words of the Bible I think I’m going to have problems properly representing the rest of the Bible. However, timeframes, over what period of time that was, whether there was room for any evolving in some areas of life as well, I’m more than open to that. I’m happy to leave that to the experts.

There is a transcript of interview at this link:

This statement certainly allows for fallible man’s beliefs (the millions of years/evolutionary ideas of the secularists) to be in authority over God’s Word. His declaration opens the door to reinterpret the clear reading of Genesis, as long as one just believes God is Creator. I find so often the statement in the church that as long as one believes God is Creator, how God created or how one takes the rest of the creation account in Genesis doesn’t matter. However, this is a major problem within the church that must be recognized in this era of history. Many church leaders are prepared to take Genesis 1:1 as it is written, but much of the rest of Genesis chapters 1–11 are reinterpret based upon what is called “science,” which means in reality that one takes man’s fallible beliefs about the past concerning millions of years and evolution and reinterprets God’s Word to fit with these beliefs.

The Assemblies of God denomination needs to be challenged. For all the mega-churches in the world, and for all the praise and worship that goes on in churches, our Western world is collapsing from a Christian worldview perspective. Whether it is England, all of Europe, Canada, or Australia (and it is happening in the USA), the Christian worldview is collapsing and church attendance declining. Increasing number of of the next generation are walking away from the church.

What is happening is that church leaders are succumbing to the pagan religion of the age! Yes, millions of years and evolution are part of the pagan religion of this age to explain life without God. As they succumb to this pagan religion and compromise God’s Word, wittingly or unwittingly, Christian leaders are undermining the authority of the Word.

But it’s even more than this!

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. (John 1:1-4)

Who is the Word? The Word is Jesus Christ. When one puts fallible man’s ideas over the Word of God, then one is not just undermining the Word of God, but actually attacking the Son of God. We can only know the Father through the Son, and we know the Son through the Word. To compromise the Word of God is a very serious matter indeed.

I trust the Assemblies of God will repent of their revised statement on creation that has now opened the door to compromise with man’s ideas—with the pagan religion of this age. If the denomination continues to go down this path, generations will continue to leave the church and the culture will continue to destruct as the Christian worldview is undermined. It’s not numbers at churches or praise songs around the world that count, but whether one is faithful to the Word of God.

Now having said that, I do know there are pastors in this AG denomination who are horrified at the revised statement and take the stand they should on the historicity of Genesis. We pray they will be able to challenge the leaders in this denomination to shut the door to such compromise.

However, movements like Hillsong (that now have churches in a number of large cities), and any denomination that does not stand on biblical authority from the first book of the Bible as they should (and has opened the door to compromise biblical authority as we see in the above item), we will continue to see massive changes in a generation or two as the culture continues to decline from a Christian perspective—and sadly, as young people continue to leave the church.


It shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days

(Deuteronomy 17:19) And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them

We read the Bible everyday so that we relearn to fear the Lord Jesus Christ and to obey Him—the Bible defuses worldly terror and displaces worldly thoughts.

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,


Essential Books From & About Church History

The Resurgence list of Essential Books From & About Church History.
(Last week, I posted The list from your fellow brothers sisters in Christ)


Know Your Heretics: Mani

Know Your Heretics
Justin Holcomb Director of the Resurgence
Know Your Heretics series

A self-appointed "helper of Jesus"

Manichaeism is based on the teachings of Mani (216–c.277), who founded a Gnostic-like, highly dualistic religion. He rejected all of the Old Testament and much of the New Testament. Mani claimed his religion to be the unadulterated form of Christianity. He referred to himself as “Mani, an Apostle of Jesus Christ by the appointment of God the Father,” thinking himself to be the "helper" to whom Jesus alluded in John 14:16.

"Battle between light and dark"

The Manichean religion is a fusion of aspects of Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, and Gnostic versions of Christianity—a pantheistic hodgepodge. Central to Manichaeism is the belief in a primordial feud between the powers of light and darkness. Mani taught that behind the universe lay two ultimate principles: God the Father reigns over the Kingdom of Light, which is spiritual, and a horrible prince rules over the Kingdom of Darkness, which is material. Both kingdoms are eternal and in perpetual conflict.

Too spiritual for the Resurrection

All material things, including the physical body, were viewed as evil and restrictive. This led the Manicheans to reject the biblical concept of the resurrection of the dead, the content of Christian hope.

In striving for release from their finite bodies through the obedience of simple moral laws, Manicheans were taught to hope for reincarnation as members of the elect who would eventually be delivered from the world cycle through the process of transmigration. Church historian J.N.D. Kelly describes this strange belief:

As he exists, man is tragically involved in the material order; he is fallen and lost. Actually, however, he is a particle of Light, belonging to, though exiled from, the transcendent world. He is of the same essence as God, and human souls are fragments of the divine substance. His salvation lies in grasping this truth by an interior illumination which may be spontaneous, but usually comes in response to initiation into the Manichean fellowship; and in the process of salvation, God is at once redeemer and redeemed.

Too spiritual for the Incarnation

The Manichean view of Christ is seriously different from the Bible’s. Due to the dualism of the religion, the body, being natural and material, is considered evil. For the Son of God to take on our nature would be to contaminate himself with evil. The Incarnation, a contradiction to this dualistic belief, was considered outlandish and implausible.

Perhaps the most famous Manichean was St. Augustine, who adhered to this religion for 10 years while he was at Carthage and then at Rome before he converted to Christianity.

Augustine wrote against Manichaeism in his Confessions and Against Faustus the Manichaean. (Faustus was the chief theologian of Manichaeism).

Christ above all

Manichaeism is clearly contrary to orthodox Christianity in that it insists there is no omnipotent God who is the creator of all things. Rather, the eternal struggle between good and evil places the force of good on equal footing with the force of evil. In contrast, orthodox Christianity asserts there is one God who existed prior to, and separate from, creation. God is not one with the world (as pantheism states), nor is he unable to defeat evil. On the contrary, Colossians asserts that Christ is above every earthly power and his victorious resurrection serves as the ultimate answer to the problem of evil.

“Contrary to Manichaeism, Christianity does not ascribe evil to creation, for the book of Genesis describes everything created by God as good and untainted by sin before the fall of Adam.”

Manichaeism today

The Manichean religion finds continuity with much contemporary new age spiritualism. The idea that “God is in everything and everything is in God” pervades culture, and the concept of reincarnation is prevalent. Contrary to reincarnation, Christianity teaches that salvation does not lie in overcoming evil through moral behavior and upright living. Rather, it consists in acknowledging one’s inability to do so and clinging to the one who has—the God-man, Jesus Christ.

Originally Posted By Justin Holcolmb from

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Know Your Heretics: Docetism

Know Your Heretics
Justin Holcomb Director of the Resurgence
Know Your Heretics series

Docetism was a heresy about Jesus that gained in popularity in the third century among those committed to Greek philosophy. Docetism is a term for a set of beliefs that were found in a number of heresies, including Marcionism and Gnosticism.

“Jesus Felt No Pain”

Unlike many early heresies that denied the divinity of Jesus, Docetism eliminates his humanity. Suggesting that Jesus only appeared to be human though he was in fact not, Docetism derives its name from the Greek word dokeo, which means “to seem or appear.”

Those holding to Docetism believed that there was one eternal father who was eternally transcendent and therefore unable to experience any sort of human emotion of suffering. The idea that Jesus became human flesh (John 1:14) and experienced life as a human was unthinkable and offensive to this philosophy.

The Gospel of Peter, an apocryphal book, illustrates a Docetic view. It says that during his crucifixion, Jesus “kept silence, as one feeling no pain,” which implied, as church historian J.N.D. Kelly notes, “that His bodily make-up was illusory.”

Jesus Truly Suffered

The orthodox early church was strongly opposed to Docetism.

Irenaeus thought the teaching was so dangerous that he wrote a five-volume work (Against Heresies) against one of Docetism’s prominent teachers, Valentinus (c. 136–c. 165).

Ignatius said that it would have been foolish for him to have been imprisoned for proclaiming one who merely appeared to suffer for his sake:
Turn a deaf ear therefore when any one speaks to you apart from Jesus Christ, who was of the family of David, the child of Mary, who was truly born, who ate and drank, who was truly persecuted under Pontius Pilate, was truly crucified and truly died….But if, as some godless men, that is, unbelievers, say, he suffered in mere appearance (being themselves being mere appearances), why am I in bonds?

Polycarp makes the strongest possible charge against the Docetists by saying that “everyone who does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is an anti-Christ,” echoing 1 John 4:2-3.

Jesus Came in the Flesh

As theologian Stephen Nichols points out, much contemporary popular theology tends to “view Jesus as sort of floating six inches off the ground as he walked upon the earth.” Downplaying or rejecting the true humanity of Jesus is common today, but it does not fit with the biblical picture of Jesus given to us in the Gospels.
While on earth, Jesus experienced hunger (Matt. 4:2) and thirst (John 19:28), showed compassion (Matt. 9:36), was tired (John 4:6), felt sorrow to the point of weeping (John 11:35), and grew in wisdom (Luke 2:52). Yet, in all of his humanness, Jesus never sinned (Heb. 4:15).

Like Us in Every Way, Yet Without Sin

Avoiding Docetism is important because, as the author of Hebrews writes, Jesus “had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (Heb. 2:17).
It is because Jesus was tempted as we are that he is able to sympathize with us in our weakness. Put bluntly, the whole of the atonement rests on Docetism being false. On this point, T. F. Torrance writes: “Any docetic view of the humanity of Christ snaps the lifeline between God and man, and destroys the relevance of the divine acts in Jesus for men and women of flesh and blood.”

If Docetism is true and he was so heavenly that he only appeared human, then we no longer can place our confidence in Jesus Christ, who as truly God and truly man serves as the mediator between God and men.

Originally Posted By Justin Holcolmb from

Essential Books From & About Church History

The Resurgence asked a question of what the church thinks are the most essential books from and about church history. Here are the best of the best from your answers.
(Next week, I will re-post The Resurgence list)


Monday, December 20, 2010

People Are Truly Good At Heart!

Posted at
on Monday, December 20th, 2010

An comment directed to Ray Comfort:

"It's a wonder I haven't abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart." from the Diary of Anne Frank (last entry). Your God damns her to hell after the hell she lived through. Your suggestion that she deserved eternity in hell because your God is so just is revolting."

The Response by Ray Comfort:

It seems that you are more upset at God, rather than the Nazis. Are you agreeing with Anne Frank, that the Nazis weren't that bad after all? I hope not. And why would you be even slightly concerned, when you don't believe that Hell or God exist?

Also, you have no reason to be upset because the Germans devoured the Jews. This is the process of evolution you champion; and if God ultimately devours Anne Frank, your cruel process of evolution continues into eternity.

Rather, you choose not to believe that God is rich in mercy, and because of that, you end up with a revolting image that you have created in your own mind. The merciless Jew-damning god you are so upset by, doesn't exist.

Don't forget that when Anne Frank said that she believed that people were truly good at heart, she was still in hiding with her family. Her naive faith in human goodness may have been shaken when she and her family were taken to Auschwitz in 1944, and her father was wrenched from her, and was no doubt murdered.

At 15 years old, she was then forced to strip naked, disinfected, had her head shaved, and was tattooed with an identifying number on her arm. She was then used as slave labor until disease caused her skin to became badly infected by scabies. She was then moved to an "infirmary," that was in a state of constant darkness and infested with disease-ridden rats.

The last time Anne was seen by two of her friends, most of her precious family were dead. She was bald, emaciated and shivering. In February, 1945 she told her friends that she didn’t want to live any longer. In March of the same year, she tragically died.

America has it's own holocaust, with government-sanctioned murder of over 50 million babies, since Roe vs Wade. Around 200,000 people were murdered in the U.S. during the 1990’s, and 30,000 slaughtered recently by the Mexican cartel, in drug wars. If you truly believe that man is good, then leave your front door open tonight. The odds are that you will be a statistic in the morning.

I'm hoping to see Anne Frank in Heaven. I hope to see you there also.
For Evangelism Resources, please visit


Friday, December 3, 2010

How I Pastor My Family

By Justin Hyde from

Many people ask me, "What do 'family devotions' look like at your house?" or, "How do you pastor your family?" or even more simply, "Do you pray or read the Bible with your wife and children?" Here is one attempt to answer those questions.

1. Routine

Our family works best with a routine. My wife and I, and our children, have a reasonably regular weekly schedule. Our "family devotions" fit into the larger rhythm and routines of our household (e.g. dinner, bedtime, etc.). Additionally, it is important to note that there are explicit and implicit aspects to our daily spiritual devotion. The bulk of the explicit aspects happen at night between when I get home from work and when I go to bed.

2. Intentional Evenings

I get home from work between 5:30PM and 5:45PM each night. But I have to prepare myself before 5:30PM so that I can hit the ground running when I walk in the door. Though I am invariably tired from my day's work, I have to remind myself that the most important part of my vocation happens after 5:30PM, not before. I am tempted to mentally "clock out" on my drive home, which would be easy. Yet I have to consciously prepare myself to give more energy, more attention, and more dedicated focus as soon as I walk through the door and am greeted by my 5 year old son, 3 year old daughter, newborn son, and wife than I have all day. This takes prayer, practice, and intentionality. It's easy to fail. Husbands/dads, don't clock-out on your way home; be ready to be present and engaged; don't let your kids or wife expect to hear your formulaic: "I'm tired;" turn your phone off (I recently read something like this: "If you touched your wife as much as you touch your iPhone your marriage would be in a much better spot."); cancel your cable TV; repent of your addiction to new projects, hobbies, and distractions. Wives, be gracious; be forgiving; learn and grow with your husband; make your home inviting and pleasing; manage the stress level (for you and the kids) before dad gets home (i.e. don't let the water boil all day so that it's boiling over the top right when dad's car pulls up).

3. Time To Play

We eat dinner at 6:00PM. So I walk in the door and devote myself to the kids for 20-30 minutes. Rarely do I take 5 steps into the house before having a 5 year old around my left leg and a 3 year old around my right leg (and now, often, a baby in my arms). Dads, your kids are ready to see you. Ready to punch you. Ready to kiss you. Ready to play. Ready to build. Ready to read. And of course your wife needs this from you too if she's making dinner or just needing a break after her long day. Husbands, remind yourself daily that your wife is likely more exhausted than you are by 5:30PM. Serve her well. This is also a good time to teach the kids about setting the table, helping to pick up the living room, honoring mom, serving a younger sibling, etc. But mainly this is a good time to play.

4. Mealtime

We always eat dinner together around the dinner table. My wife is hospitable, creative, thoughtful, carefree, and eager to worship through a shared meal. Our table is often decorated with candles, and sometimes flowers. We drink wine. We celebrate. We laugh. We joke. We make silly faces. We eat great food. We often, almost without fail, enjoy a dessert. We hold hands to pray. We take our time. Our children are watching and learning and savoring all of this.

5. Cleanup

After dinner we usually clean up (sometimes we wait until the kids are asleep). The children help with dishes, help put things away, help clean up. It doesn't take long and the payoff in relaxation and focus is often worth the price of clearing the table and loading the dishwasher. Yet regardless of whether we clean up now or later, our attention is devoted to the children from 5:30PM to 7:30PM. After dinner, we play. We read. We build towers. We go on adventures. We explore. We tickle.

6. Bible Time

At 7:15PM we all start winding down and I tell the kids: "15 more minutes of ____, and then it's 7:30PM." My kids know exactly what I mean. At 7:30PM it's Bible time. We all gather in the living room (if we're not there already); we get the Bible; and the kids pile on my lap. For the longest time we read the ESV Illustrated Family Bible. This Bible uses the actual ESV text but the stories are selective and the images are great and colorful. Recently, we began using The Early Readers Bible only because Jonas received it as a Christmas gift. This is a great Bible too, but it's not the actual ESV text, which I prefer. It's a Bible written for young readers. Our 5 year old can blast through this easily, and sometimes I'll let him read during our devotional time, though rarely. At this stage I think it's important for me to lead this time and shepherd them as I read aloud. The great thing about The Early Readers Bible is the questions after each section. Very helpful. Dads, it's important for you to call the family together. Don't force mom to keep looking at her watch, to always be waiting for you, to nag you to get started. Call the family together. Get the Bible. Know where/what you're reading. Lead your family. Wives, this may be new or unfamiliar for many dads. Go easy on him. Encourage him. Honor his leadership. Don't undermine. Don't criticize. Model respect and love for your children to see. And remember, the kids are watching.

7. Questions & Answers

After we read a section of Scripture I ask questions. I ask questions about the story, about the characters, about the doctrines or themes within the story, about applying the text to the real life of 5- and 3-year-olds. In addition to asking questions about the text itself, our children also memorize the Small Children's Catechism by Chris Schlect I cannot overstate the importance of catechism in the home. Someone has said, "Preaching without catechism is like building a house without pouring a foundation." So true. Other helpful resources are The Big Book of Questions and Answers (Sinclair Ferguson), My 1st Book of Questions and Answers (Carine Mackenzie), and Big Truths for Young Hearts (Bruce Ware)

8. Family Prayer

Then we all pray. We take prayer requests (this is important because the kids need to see dad asking mom how he can pray for her). And each of us pray. Sometimes I ask the kids to pray for certain things. Sometimes I ask the older to pray for the younger. Sometimes they want to say the Lord's Prayer (which means you need to help them memorize it when they're two or three). Sometime it's random. Moms and dads, you need to guard this time so that the children don't grow to despise it. This needs to be an encouraging, graceful, loving, fun, sometimes silly, patient, and fruitful time. Be honest with one another. Teach your kids how to care, how to be sensitive to others' needs, how to articulate what they're feeling. Make disciples.

9. Bedtime

Now it's bedtime. Love those kids. Hug and kiss and tickle and snuggle like crazy.

10. Explicit vs. Implicit

Most of the above routine is explicit training and devotion. Yet each of those elements fit into the larger mosaic of what it means to be a part of our family. These explicit elements would only go so far (but not far enough) if not paired with the implicit aspects of the daily spiritual development that are more subtle and mundane. The implicit aspects are the constant opportunities to listen to your kids, to talk to them, to tell them about Jesus, to tell them about something you read in Scripture, something you've wondered about God, to connect the dots between dinner and worship, to live a life of celebration and sacrifice. The legitimacy of your "devotion time" is only as solid as the legitimacy of your devotional life. In other words, I reap the rich spiritual benefits at 7:30PM each night because I tilled the soil that morning, during the day, at dinner, and so on. Quality time doesn't replace quantity. In fact, you can only enjoy the quality because you've invested in the quantity. The implicit is the foundation that sustains the rest, only most people don't see the foundation so it's easy to ignore. Please know, I fail often. I need much grace. God has given me a forgiving wife and patient kids. Husbands/dads, this is the most important work you'll ever do, and it will have more impact than anything you could imagine. Wives/moms, encourage your man to lead; create conditions in which he can succeed. Couples, be patient and forgiving. Don't be short-sighted. Love well. And savor your time together. May God help us pastor our families well.

Originally Posted at 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Know Your Heretics: Photinus

Know Your Heretics
Justin Holcomb Director of the Resurgence
Know Your Heretics series

Questioning the Trinity

After the Council of Nicaea in 325, the orthodox understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity as three persons sharing one divine essence was not universally agreed upon. One theologian who disagreed was Photinus, the Bishop of Sirmium and the disciple of Marcellus.

Did God Choose a Man to Become His Son?

The theology of Photinus veered close to adoptionism by suggesting that the man Jesus was chosen by God to be his Son when he was in Mary’s womb. Photinus denied the doctrine of the pre-existence of the Son.

“Photinus elevates man to the place of Son...”

Ambrose described Photinus’ theology in his De Fide: “We say that God is One, not as does Photinus, holding that the Son first came into existence in the Virgin’s womb.”

Hilary of Poitiers also spoke of the theology of Photinus in his De Trinitate:
Sabellius denies that there is a Son of God; against him Photinus elevates man to the place of Son. Photinus will hear nothing of a Son born before the worlds… Our present adversaries are ranted in the matter of the Divine nature of the Son… Photinus is convicted of ignorance, or else of falsehood, in his denial of the Son’s birth before the worlds…Photinus maintains His manhood, though in maintaining it he forgets that Christ was born as God before the worlds.

In other words, Photinus did not believe that the second person of the Trinity—the divine Word, the Son of God—existed with the Father in eternity past. He believed there is no second person of the Trinity that existed before the human person Jesus of Nazareth.

The Word Was With God in the Beginning

The most straightforward response to this denial of the pre-existence of the Son is found in John 1:1-3. This passage explicitly expresses the fact that the Word, Jesus—who “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14)—existed from before creation with the Father. Indeed, it was through him that all things were created.

Hilary of Poitiers cites John 5:17-19 to show that the works of the Father are often executed by the Son. Hilary argued that because the Son has the power to do the same things as the Father, he must have the same nature.

“The Word existed from before creation with the Father”

Contrary to Photinus’ teaching, the Father and the Son co-existed in complete equality from eternity past, and it was the second, eternally-existing person of the Trinity who took on flesh and became incarnate in Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Contemporary Relevance: Jesus Is Fully God

The error of Photinus is important for several reasons. If the Son did not exist eternally with God the Father, then he cannot be fully and completely God. If the Son is merely a man chosen by God to be his son, then Jesus cannot be fully God and fully man.

This error would obliterate the doctrine of the atonement. The reason that Christ can satisfy the wrath of God is that he is fully God, and the reason that he can represent humanity is that he is fully man. Without the doctrine of the pre-existence of the Son, Jesus is merely a man who lived a good life as a spiritual teacher here on earth but can in no way be the savior of the world.

Originally Posted By Justin Holcolmb from

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Student pleas for parents to be released

Originally Posted at 

Sarah's Trail of Blood

Originally Posted at 

Hear Their Cry: IDOP 2010

International Day of Prayer (IDOP)
Originally Posted at 

Indonesia: Life spared!

Originally Posted at

Indonesia: The dangers of being an Evangelist

Originally Posted at 

The Truth & The Life in Parenting / Exchange Conference....

Incredible teaching..... The same could apply for the Christian... We must depend on the Word of God and magnify Jesus not preachers / teachers... Pastor Mark does a great job of unpacking the realities that we see daily and understand to be a problem, but have trouble communicating the problem or making sense of it... Thank you God for your wisdom that you have given to Pastor Mark.... To God our Savior who alone is wise, be glory & majesty / dominion & power, both now and forever, AMEN.

Originally Posted at 

Joel Osteen's New Age Life Now?

Best of Flash Back. Many have asked us recently for informaiton on why we believe Joel Osteen is teaching New Age theology. Here is an article Brannon wrote back in February 2006.

Joel Osteen's New Age Life Now?
By Brannon Howse

"Whatever you conceive you can achieve."

With this favorite karma-changing promise, New Agers believe you need only use the "unlimited" power and consciousness of your mind to bring about all your dreams, desires and wishes.

Cloaked in a "Christian" package, Joel Osteen's Your Best Life Now, bears an uncomfortable and dangerous similarity to this most popular of New Age claims. Sample a few of the Osteen versions:

1) "You will produce what you're continually seeing in your mind. If you foster an image of defeat and failure, then you're going to live that kind of life. But if you develop an image of victory, success, health, abundance, joy, peace, and happiness, nothing on earth will be able to hold those things from you." (page 5)

2) "You must conceive it in your heart and mind before you can receive it." (page 6)

3) "You must look through your 'eyes of faith' and start seeing yourself as happy, healthy and whole." (page 15)

4) "What you will receive is directly connected to how you believe." (page 22)

5) "We receive what we believe." (page 72)

6) "Learn how to conceive. Keep the image of what you want to become in front of you. You're going to become what you believe." (page 81)

Osteen now travels the country, packing out stadiums with his happy-talk. But I'd like to see Osteen pay a visit to China, preach his "your best life now" drivel, and see how Christians there respond. Let Osteen look into the eyes of Pastor Lei who has been repeatedly arrested and beaten for preaching the Word of God in his church-a church not licensed by the Chinese government. How would the American's best life work out for Pastor Lei and his congregation? Perhaps their jail time for the Gospel would give them time to assess Rev. Osteen's claims.
Have these and countless other persecuted Christians been beaten, jailed and murdered because they "received what they believed," or did these terrible things happen to them because they did not "develop an image of victory, success, health, abundance, joy, peace, and happiness"?

Were eleven of Jesus' disciples martyred because, "they received what they believed"? Were the disciples living under a "curse of poverty and defeat" as Osteen says of so many? Here's a role call of questions I'd like to ask Mr. Osteen. Why is it, Joel, that:

• Paul and Matthew were beheaded?

• Barnabas was burned to death?

• Mark was dragged to death?

• James, the less, was clubbed to death?

• Peter, Philip, and Andrew were crucified?

• Thomas was speared to death?

• Luke was hung by the neck until dead?

• Stephen was stoned?

How would these disciples take to the best-life message?

Yes, I know. Joel's promises sound so much better to American ears than all those warnings of Jesus about being hated by most people for His sake. But it remains that in large measure, Joel's offering can be described as nothing less than blasphemy. On page 36, he claims, "God has a big dream for your life." On page 56: "God sees you as a champion. He believes in you even more than you believe in yourself!" And on page 110: "God has confidence in you."

Osteen does not provide a single Bible verse to back up these statements…because there are none. Nowhere in the Bible do we read that God believes or has confidence in us. He loves us, but does not believe in us. On the contrary, He knows all too well how unbelievably fickle and untrustworthy we humans actually are. It's not like Joel describes on page 57: "Believe it or not, that is how God sees you, too. He regards you as a strong, courageous, successful, overcoming person."

Furthermore, God does not define our success in materialistic terms as Joel does. God is interested in our obedience above all. On page 63, Joel writes:

As long as you are pressing forward, you can hold your head up high, knowing that you are a "work in progress," and God is in the process of changing you. He's looking at your last two good moves.

Joel, where in the Bible do you read that God is not looking at our last two bad moves but our last two good moves? Isaiah 64:6 says that even our righteous deeds are like filthy rags or wickedness to God because He is so holy. Even if God did look at our last two good moves, He would still see filthy rags.

Or how about this Osteen gospel gem from page 95:

"Be the best you can be, then you can feel good about yourself."

Where in the Bible do we find this teaching? What if your best is getting drunk just once a week instead of twice a week? Should you still feel good about yourself?

But wait. I've saved Joel's most outrageous statement for last (drum roll please). On page 144, Joel elevates us to the heavenlies by pointing out that "You may even need to forgive God."

Whoa! And exactly what would we be forgiving God for? As I recall, forgiveness is for sins-or at least mistakes. But which of those has God made? Not a one according to any Bible I've ever read.

Oswald Chambers offers a perspective on the kind of thing the Osteens of the world do to Christians:

"Satan's great aim is to deflect us from the center. He will allow us to be devoted to the death to any cause, any enterprise, to anything but the Lord Jesus."

Hebrews 13:9 instructs us to not be carried away by all sorts of strange teachings (deflected from the center) but sadly, that is exactly what is happening for many at the hand of Joel Osteen.

Instead of pursuing our best life now, we should pursue the things of the Lord so we can have our best life later. I fear that for many who follow Joel's false teaching, this life is the best they will get. The false gospel proclaimed by Joel Osteen and accepted as truth by millions may allow many to achieve what they can conceive of the things in this world, but true to Jesus' promise, they may lose their souls in the pursuit.
Originally Posted by Brannon Howse at

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Know Your Heretics: Eutyches

Know Your Heretics
Justin Holcomb Director of the Resurgence
Know Your Heretics series

Historical Background: Eutyches

Eutyches (378-454) was in charge of the monastery at Constantinople and was second in command, only lower than the Bishop, in terms of authority there.

Is Jesus a Blend of God & Man?
The early church taught that Jesus Christ was one person with two natures—a divine nature and a human nature.

Eutyches was guilty of over-emphasizing the fact that Jesus Christ was one person and blurred the distinction between his divine and human natures. This was opposite of Nestorius’ heresy.

About Eutyches, church historian Stephen Nichols writes: “To him Christ was a third thing (the Latin expression is tertium quid)….One new and different person fashioned out of two natures is how he liked to put it. That is a theological way of saying yellow and blue makes green.”
When asked by Florentius if he believed there were two natures in Christ, Eutyches argued that there was only one nature in Christ after the incarnation:

Florentius: “Do you or do you not admit that our Lord who is of the Virgin is consubstantial [with us] and of two natures after the incarnation?”

Eutyches: “I admit that our Lord was of two natures before the union, but after the union one nature.”

Orthodox Response: Jesus Is Fully God & Fully Man

In his Tome, Leo the Great offers a beautiful response to the thought of Eutyches: “For just as the God [deity] is not changed by his compassion, so the man [manhood] is not swallowed up by the dignity [of the Godhead].” The human nature and the divine nature in Christ remain distinct and unmixed in the incarnation so that Jesus is truly God and truly man.

Flavian, who was the Bishop of Constantinople, called a synod that met at Constantinople in 448 at which the teachings of Eutyches were deemed heretical. In the Chalcedonian Creed there are phrases directed toward Eutyches: Christ is “to be acknowledged in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one person and one subsistence, not parted or divided in two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten, God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Jesus Is Our Representative

Stephen Nichols clearly describes the problem with Eutyches’ teachings: “The problem with stressing the unity without the counterbalance of the two intact natures, as Eutyches does, is that Christ loses his human and divine identity. As such, he is not truly our representative. The Christ of Eutyches falls short of Paul’s teaching of Christ as the last Adam (Rom. 5:12-21; 1 Cor. 15:42-49).”

The orthodox theologians of the first several centuries saw an intimate connection between the incarnation and the atoning work of Christ.

This is why Leo the Great writes:

Without detriment therefore to the properties of either substance which then came together in one person, majesty took on humility, strength weakness, eternity mortality; and for the paying off of the debt belonging to our condition, inviolable nature was united with passible nature, and true God and true man were combined to form one Lord, so that, as suits the needs of our case, one and the same Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, could both die with the one and rise again with the other.

Originally Posted By Justin Holcolmb from

How to Have Accountability When You Don’t Have Elders....

By Bob Thune (Friday October 8th 2010)

In my last post, I argued that church planters should not install elders until the church has clearly crossed the line from “apostolic missionary band” to “established church.” But how can you ensure appropriate accountability and community in the interim?

Accountability and community are crucial in church planting, for at least two reasons:

1) Leaders often crash and burn from lack of proper accountability.

2) Even the most type-A church planter doesn’t want to be the only guy with a target on his back. Satan, critics, and disgruntled people are going to take their shots at you. Might as well have some company.

Below are the four types of accountability you must have in the early stages of a church plant, and some suggestions on how to go about getting them, before you’ve raised up additional elders.

Moral Accountability

Someone needs to be asking you the hard questions about your marriage, your thought life, your moral integrity. Until you have elders to serve as a band of brothers in this area, you must find others to do it. When we planted our church, I set up an external advisory board of four older, godly men from other churches who met with me at least once a month for this purpose.

Financial Accountability

If you’re a church planter, you probably suck at financial administration so you should immediately recruit a team of 3-4 church members, or outside advisors, who can help oversee the financial affairs of the church. Obviously you must choose prayerfully: you want servant leaders, not power brokers who are going to try to steer the church through the checkbook.

I recruited an accountant, a banker, a pastoral intern, and a corporate lawyer from our launch team and asked them to help me oversee budgeting, expenses, and accounting. The lead elder (me) still set the direction and the financial priorities of the church. But having a team ensured that I had some accountability—and more importantly, some very competent help with the details.

Doctrinal Accountability

This is an easy one if you’re part of a network like Acts 29 that has a robust doctrinal statement. Since elders are required to guard sound doctrine (Titus 1:9), make sure your people know that you aren’t making up your theology as you go.

Leadership Accountability

This is perhaps the hardest piece of the puzzle. You need the freedom to lead the church according to the calling God has given you. But you also need to seek input from others in order to avoid becoming (or even just being perceived as) a dictator.

Instead of making major decisions in a vacuum, run them by key leaders and influencers conversationally. You’re not giving these people “veto power”—in the end, it’s still your call. But by seeking input from others and making your decisions “in the open,” you’ll gain the trust of your people and occasionally save yourself from some really bad decisions.

Church planters commonly make the mistake of caving to pressure and installing untested or unqualified elders early on in a church plant. The point of this post is to show that you can have the functions of eldership without rushing to put the structure in place. You are responsible before God to raise up and train additional elders from within your church as quickly as possible. Just don’t make the mistake of pulling the trigger too quickly. As Alexander Strauch says in his excellent book on eldership: “Better to have no elders than the wrong ones.”

Originally Posted at 

Why Installing Elders Too Quickly Can Kill Your Church...

By Bob Thune (Saturday October 2nd 2010)

I recently met a church planter who was excited about the team God was bringing together around him: a launch team of 15 people, including 3 elders. It never dawned on him that he was making a colossal mistake.

Paul left Titus in Crete with instructions to straighten out what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town (Titus 1:5). Notice the order: first, Paul and his companions planted a church, then appointed elders. The sequence is important.

American Christianity has been greatly influenced by the “parish” model of church-planting: send a group of people from church A somewhere new to establish church B. In this model, it may make sense to have elders from the beginning. The people already know each other, the culture of the church is defined, and the support of the mother church provides a fallback in case of leadership conflict.

Most of the church planters I know are not using a parish model. They are planting missional churches: starting from scratch, leading a small band of people as missionaries into new territory, and shaping the DNA of a church from ground zero. This model of church-planting mirrors Paul’s own ministry. Like Paul, you need to plant the church before you install elders. If you install elders too early in a missional church plant, you will most likely kill your church. Here’s why:

1. A missional church must start with an “apostolic band.”

You and your launch team are not Titus on Crete. You are Paul and his compadres landing on Crete in the first place. Every missional church plant starts as an apostolic band of missionary-gatherers, then coalesces into an established church.

Statistics show that 50-60% of your launch team won’t be around in two years. That most likely includes one or two men you have in mind for eldership! If you install elders in the apostolic band stage, you risk causing chaos in your fragile community when Barnabas and Paul decide to part ways.

2. Elders are a stabilizing structure.

When you install elders, you are implicitly telling your people, “We are established now.” People begin to see your church as a “real church” instead of a fledgling church plant. If you stabilize too fast, you lose momentum and kill the mission. It’s like launching a rocket: once you’re safely headed to orbit, you can jettison your rocket boosters. But if you jettison them during liftoff, you’re in big trouble. Installing elders inside of 18 months, or under 100 people, is a very bad idea. It will keep your church from ever getting into orbit.

3. Elders must be proven leaders in the eyes of the people you have.

“But I have good, biblically qualified men,” one church planter told me. “Shouldn’t they be elders?” Have they proven themselves by gaining the respect, trust, and confidence of the people you’re leading (especially new Christians and non-Christians) and by bearing fruit in ministry? Scripture requires that elders and deacons “be tested first” (1 Tim. 3:10). This testing must take place in the current context, not a previous one.

Some critics insist that any planter who doesn’t install elders immediately is vying for power and control. Every church planting agency I’m aware of follows this practice. A potential church planter is carefully tested and approved, then allowed to lead solo (with outside accountability) until additional qualified men are raised up from within the new church.

There’s a reason wise church planting agencies follow this strategy: Satan loves to wreck churches through leadership conflict. Church planting requires a man like Paul who has the character, gifting, and persistence to shape a church where it doesn’t exist; the discernment to feed the sheep and kill the wolves; and the humility, patience, and selflessness to raise up others to shepherd the flock alongside him.

Originally Posted at

Friday, September 24, 2010

Pastor Mark Driscoll Interviews Wayne & Margaret Grudem...

Originally Posted at 

Know Your Heretics: Marcion

Know Your Heretics
Justin Holcomb Director of the Resurgence
Know Your Heretics series

The Most Formidable of Heretics

Marcion is one of the most significant heretics in Christian history. His teachings captivated many for centuries after him. Henry Chadwick called Marcion "the most radical and to the church the most formidable of heretics."

Marcion's Two Gods and Gutted Bible

Marcion taught that there were two Gods: Yahweh, the cruel God of the Old Testament, and Abba, the kind father of the New Testament. Because of this belief, he eliminated the Old Testament as Scriptures and kept only 10 letters of Paul and two-thirds of Luke's gospel for his version of the New Testament. He also deleted all references to Jesus' Jewishness. Marcion's "New Testament"—the first to be compiled—forced the church to decide on a core of what was considered Scripture: the four Gospels and the letters of Paul.

Making the Bible "More Spiritual"

Marcion's heretical teachings destroyed the humanity of Christ and assaulted the Christian Scriptures. Because Marcion interpreted Christianity through the lens of a Gnostic philosophy that saw all created things as evil, he wanted to dismiss anything from the Bible that was concerned with the earthly realm. This caused him to cut from the Bible most of the Old and New Testament birth narratives. In his book Antitheses he made a list of what he saw as contradictions between the Old and New Testaments. He saw the God of the Old Testament as the creator of a miserable world, as the author of evil, and as nothing like the Father of Jesus. Because of his disdain for the material world, Marcion argued that any divine redeemer could not be born of a woman. For this reason, he rejected the story of Jesus' birth.

Tertullian and Irenaeus Lead the Charge Against Marcion

Marcion's heresy prompted the church to push back and officially recognize the Old Testament as Scripture. Furthermore, his rejection of the humanity of Jesus energized the church to develop a complete defense of it. Tertullian did exactly this in his work Against Marcion in 207-208. Tertullian saw Marcion's denial of Christ's humanity as detrimental to Christianity: "The sufferings of Christ will be found not to warrant faith in him. For he suffered nothing [if he] did not truly suffer; and a phantom could not truly suffer. God's entire work therefore is subverted. Christ's death, wherein lies the whole weight and fruit of the Christian name, is denied." Irenaeus also challenged Marcion, saying:

He mutilated the Gospel according to Luke, removing all the narratives of the Lord's birth, and also removing much of the teaching of the discourses of the Lord wherein he is most manifestly described as acknowledging the maker of this universe to be his father. Thus [Marcion] persuaded his disciples that he himself was more trustworthy than the apostles, who handed down the Gospel; though he gave to them not a Gospel but a fragment of a Gospel.

Irenaeus writes: Marcion "says that salvation will be of our souls only, of those souls which have learned his teaching; the body, because... it is taken from the earth, cannot partake in salvation." While Marcion was excommunicated from the church in Rome in 144, because he was a wealthy man, he was able to establish quite a following through the next several centuries.

Marcion's Views Alive Today

Marcion is relevant today because some contemporary wacky teachings about Jesus and the Bible are merely a restating of his ancient heresies. In his book The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins writes:

The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.

This view is quite similar to that of Marcion and still wreaks havoc in the church today. Tertullian was right that if Christ was not truly human then he could not truly suffer, and if he did not truly suffer, then he cannot be the one who has identified with us as fallen human beings, winning our salvation by his atoning death and life-giving resurrection.

Originally Posted By Justin Holcolmb from  

Know Your Heretics: The Judaizers

Know Your Heretics
Justin Holcomb Director of the Resurgence
Know Your Heretics series

The Rise of the Judaizers

A problem arose in the early church when the apostles took the gospel of Jesus to Jews, Samaritans, and Gentiles. When Gentiles responded to the gospel, a conflict arose that threatened to divide the church. A group called the Judaizers opposed Paul and Barnabas at the Council of Jerusalem (AD 50) in Acts 15. They were uncertain that the benefits of the covenant people of God were to be extended to the Gentiles, thus doubting their conversion by the gospel. Paul's response assures them that the Gentiles had indeed been made partakers in the blessings of the covenant, namely, the Holy Spirit: "And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith" (Acts 15:8-9).

The Judaizers' View of Salvation

The Judaizers were teaching that God still required everyone to observe certain rituals and statutes in order to be accepted by him as Father. Paul, in recounting his confrontation of Peter before the Judaizers, gives us an insight into the teaching of this group (Gal. 2:14). Apparently, the Judaizers were attempting to force Gentile Christians to live under the regulations of the Mosaic Law. They are also called the "circumcision party" (Gal. 2:12), because one of the specific elements of the Law that the Judaizers were forcing the Gentile Christians to live by was the practice of circumcision. Peter had withdrawn himself from eating with Gentile Christians, fearing the opposition that would come from the Judaizers. Eating with Gentiles would have rendered Peter ceremonially unclean under the Old Covenant, by breaking an important element of the Mosaic Law. However, Paul said Peter's conduct was "not in step with the truth of the gospel" (Gal. 2:14).

The Orthodox Response

Paul's response is given in Galatians 2:16: "We know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified." Paul's other response is found in Galatians 5:12: "I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!" He suggests self-castration for those who require circumcision for others. Paul made his point clearly. According to Paul and the response drafted at the Council of Jerusalem, the Gentiles were not obligated to follow the restrictions of the Law. They were free in Christ, who had fulfilled the demands of the Law. Paul exhorted the Gentiles to abstain from practices associated with pagan idol worship, not to earn their salvation, but as a response to the life-changing message of the gospel and in gratitude for God's gift of salvation.

Why Does All This Matter?

While the heresy of the Judaizers was put to rest by the Apostle Paul, the idea behind their erroneous belief still permeates the church today. The issues are no longer circumcision or ceremonial uncleanness, but the question of how the law relates to salvation—or how works relate to righteousness—is still something that many Christians remain confused about today. Paul's exhortation to the Judaizers remains as important as ever. It is not by works that we are saved, but solely by the grace of Christ. In fact, to add anything to the work of Christ for salvation actually negates God's grace. Paul says, "I do not nullify the grace of God, for if justification were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose" (Gal. 2:21).

Originally Posted By Justin Holcolmb from

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Real Lasting Rest....

Do you ever struggle with God’s sovereignty? Do you wonder why he has ordained for you to face the things you face? Are you ever tempted to doubt his goodness or question his love? Or do you experience rest of heart even when your relationships are messy and your circumstances are difficult? The following words are about where the rest can be found.

I did it again and again when our children resisted our instruction and correction. I did it again and again when they debated a command or questioned our plans. I did it again and again when they opposed our authority and quested for self-rule. I did it again and again for two good reasons.

To begin with, my wife and I had brought children into this world who thought they didn't need us! Like us, each of them at some point fell into believing they were far more knowledgeable and capable than they really were. Like us, they often assumed that their intentions were noble and their plans were sound. Like us, they tended to think they were capable of determining what was best, even when they lacked important information and experience. Like we often do, they simply felt they were in possession of a better way.

But there was a second reason I did it again and again. Our children were too young to grasp the abstract, strategic, and often theological purposes underlying my instruction. Even if I explained everything in as age-appropriate a way as I could, they would still have no actual understanding. They just did not yet have the categories or the capacity to grasp the parental logic behind the plan or command.

So I did the same thing again and again. I would kneel down in front of them at eye level and say, "Please look at Daddy's face. Do you know how much I love you? Do you know that your Daddy is not a mean, bad man? Do you know that I would never ask you to do anything that would hurt you or make you sick? I am sorry that you can't understand why Daddy is asking you to do this. I wish I could explain it to you, but you are too young to understand. So I am going to ask you to do something—trust Daddy. When you walk down the hallway to do what Daddy has asked you to do, say to yourself, 'My Daddy loves me. My Daddy would never ask me to do something bad. I am going to trust my Daddy and stop trying to be the Daddy of my Daddy.'"

God does the same thing with you, over and over again. He meets you in one of the difficult hallways of your life, kneels down before you in condescending love, and asks you to trust his loving and wise rule, even though you don't have a clue what he is doing.

He knows there are many times when your life doesn't look like there is anyone ruling it, let alone someone wise and good. He knows there will be times when you will wish you could be the author of your own story. He knows that at times you will be overwhelmed by what is on your plate. He knows that his plan will confuse and confound you. And he knows that real rest cannot be found in understanding, because, like my children, there are things, as a limited human being, you simply do not have the capacity to understand.

Real rest is found in trusting the Person who is in control of the things you don’t understand.

He is willing to have the conversation with you again and again, and he has made sure that his Word assures you of his rule again and again. (For just a few examples, see 1 Chronicles 29:11-12, Psalm 103:19, Psalm 115:3, Proverbs 21:1, Isaiah 46:9-10, Daniel 4:35, and Ephesians 1:11.)

Originally Posted at Blog

Friday, September 3, 2010

Chan, Harris, and Driscoll conversation video...

This video is cool because you get to hear men of God who love Jesus ask sincere, heart checking questions about motives and intentions of decisions that are made... I love Pastor Mark Driscoll as my brother in Christ... Without meeting him, God has used Marshill Church to pour into my spirit great encouragement, edification, and counsel... Pastors Joshua Harris and Francis Chan I am personally not familiar with, however, many of God's children are and have been edified by these servants of Christ.

Originally Posted at

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Not-so Mormon Soteriology of Glenn Beck

By Bill McKeever

Glenn Beck, an outspoken member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, caused quite a stir on his July 13, 2010 broadcast when he spent a good portion of his show explaining the difference between the Christian view of individual salvation, and the collective view of salvation proffered by proponents of Black liberation theology. He explained:

"You cannot earn your way into heaven. You can't! There is no deed, no random act of kindness, no amount of money to spread around to others that earns you a trip to heaven. It can't happen. It's earned by God's grace alone, by believing that Jesus died on the cross for you. This is what Christians believe."

Beck spoke of a necessary change of heart and then proceeded to quote James 2:20, a verse I often hear from Mormons who feel this somehow trumps the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith. However, Beck explained this passage in a very typical Protestant fashion. "What does that mean? Our works are a demonstration of our faith."

He went on to say, "I also am wise enough to know that people will say, yeah, but Glenn Beck is a Mormon, He's not even a real Christian. You can believe what you want. I will tell you that I am a man who needed the atonement more than most people do. I appreciate the atonement. I accept Jesus as my savior. I know that I am alive today because I did give all of it to Him because I couldn’t carry it anymore."

I was intrigued when he said he spoke of talking to well-respected Southern Baptist Richard Land to make sure his definition of individual salvation was the same as mainline Christianity (I can only imagine how his monologue might have sounded had he called someone like Boyd Packer or Robert D. Hales). Beck went on to say, "salvation is an individual relationship between the individual and God through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. . . Jesus said, John 14:6, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life.' I cannot be saved for you. I cannot save you. I can't even save myself. If you're a Christian you believe that Jesus can save you."

Beck then went to his famous chalkboards which contained a drawing of three crosses on a hill and another drawing representing an empty tomb.

"Here is traditional Christianity. Jesus died, two thieves over here. He took on the sins of the world by choice. The empty tomb represents that he conquered death. He was not a victim because he did it by choice. He's not a victim, he's a victor. He was a conqueror. He conquered death. Got it? To receive his salvation you accept his forgiveness of sin, and live your life, according to his will. That's what every Christian church in the country, in the world, believes. This is biblical."

When Beck says "You cannot earn your way into heaven,” he contradicts numerous statements from LDS leaders. For example:

“The demands of justice for broken law can be satisfied through mercy, earned by your continual repentance and obedience to the laws of God. Such repentance and obedience are absolutely essential for the Atonement to work its complete miracle in your life” (Mormon Apostle Richard G. Scott, “The Atonement Can Secure Your Peace and Happiness,” Ensign (Conference Edition), November 2006, p.42).

“It is the celestial glory which we seek. It is in the presence of God we desire to dwell. It is a forever family in which we want membership. Such blessings must be earned(Thomas Monson, “An Invitation to Exaltation,” Ensign (Conference Edition), May 1988, p.56).

“Now, brethren and sisters, somebody said in this conference that the same laws apply, the same rules govern today, and it is just as necessary for us to keep the commandments of our Heavenly Father today as it was for any of the prophets of old or any of his faithful sons and daughters who have lived upon the earth, who have earned a right to a place in the celestial kingdom. We can't gain our exaltation by the good lives of our neighbors, but we can profit by their good example, and we can improve ourselves” (Eighth President George Albert Smith, Conference Reports, April 1948, pp.162-163).

“We are living eternal life, and our position hereafter will be the result of our lives here. Every man will be judged according to his works, and he will receive only that degree of glory that he has earned. (Conference Reports, April 1945, p. 139.)” (The Teachings of George Albert Smith, p.30).

“There is only one objective so far as our Father’s work is concerned, and that is that in the end when we shall have finished our work here on earth, whether after a short space of time or a long, we too shall have overcome the world and have earned the right to that place called the Celestial Kingdom(Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, pp.230-231).

“Baptism into Christ’s true church by proper authority opens the doors for exaltation in the eternal kingdoms of glory, exaltation to be earned by repentance, by living righteously, keeping the commandments of the Lord, and service to one’s fellowmen(Spencer W. Kimball, “The Stone Cut without Hands,” Ensign (Conference Edition), May 1976, p.7).

Beck seems to also understand that good works come about as a result of being forgiven, not a prerequisite in order to receive forgiveness. Again, this flies in the face of traditional Mormon teaching: “Nevertheless, he that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven” (Doctrine and Covenants 1:32).

“That by keeping the commandments they might be washed and cleansed from all their sins, and receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the hands of him who is ordained and sealed unto this power” (Doctrine and Covenants 76:52).

“All that we can do for ourselves we are required to do. We must do our own repenting; we are required to obey every commandment and live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. If we will do this, then we are freed from the consequences of our own sins. The plan of salvation is based on this foundation. No man can be saved without complying with these laws" (Joseph Fielding Smith, The Way to Perfection, p.172).

“To be forgiven one must repent. Repentance means not only to convict yourselves of the horror of the sin, but to confess it, abandon it, and restore to all who have been damaged to the total extent possible; then spend the balance of your lives trying to live the commandments of the Lord so he can eventually pardon you and cleanse you” (Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, p.200).

“And incomplete repentance never brought complete forgiveness” (Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, p.212).

“Complete forgiveness is reserved for those only who turn their whole hearts to the Lord and begin to keep all of his commandments not just those commandments disobeyed in the past, but those in all fields. ‘He that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven’” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 1966, p.295).

“When you meet all of the conditions of repentance, however difficult, you may be forgiven and your transgressions will trouble your mind no more” (Boyd K. Packer, “Washed Clean,” Ensign (Conference Edition), May 1997, p.10).

“The benefits of the atonement for personal salvation arise out of our obedience to the laws and commandments of the gospel. The forgiveness of sins comes to us by this obedience to the ordinances of the gospel and by enduring to the end, walking in obedience to the commandments. (Roy W. Doxey, The Doctrine and Covenants Speaks 1:104).

I have to admit, Beck's explanation makes me wonder if his close relationships with several evangelical Christians are not having a positive effect. I have played the July 13th clip over and over (being the lousy typist I am, I had to just to transcribe it properly) and it seems apparent that Beck does not agree with traditional Mormon soteriology. And while I want to be optimistic about all of this, I admit that I have been disappointed by many Mormons who use Protestant phrases while failing to set aside the soul-damning, works oriented doctrine of Mormonism. However, at this point I don’t have any reason to believe Beck has an agenda to try and make his church look more “Christian.” I tend to believe he is trying to explain what he believes personally. Whether or not he knows he is out of harmony with his church, I cannot say, but if I understand the above correctly, he most certainly is.

How should we as Christians handle this? Because we are so used to Mormons using "Christianese" to conceal Mormonism's unique teachings, it is all too easy to assume Beck is merely doing the same. And while I often encourage a healthy dose of skepticism, I think we must also be willing to give a fair hearing to each and every Latter-day Saint in order to fully understand where they are coming from on a personal level. Unless we have reason to believe otherwise, it is imprudent to automatically assume Beck is being deceitful.
According to his testimony, the Mormon Church became a part of Beck's life at a time of great emotional need, so we should not at all be surprised if he will continue to demonstrate a level of loyalty to his church. Many who transition out of Mormonism tend to do this slowly. However, if Beck continues to publicly express theological positions that contradict his leaders, there will come a time when his church will no longer be loyal to him. If that happens, I hope he will find a warm welcome among Christians that have prayed for him during his spiritual search for truth. All I can say at this point is, let's be patient and see how this all pans out. If the Holy Spirit is really doing a work in his life, I am sure He will do an excellent job at bringing Beck into a more consistent relationship with the Father. Whether that happens sooner, later, or never, I have no intention to stop praying for him.

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