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Why Many Don’t Share the Faith

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In my entire life I have been inundated with ideals, philosophies, strategies, theories, plans, events, and efforts to engage the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If I were to frame and paste every “certification” in evangelism techniques I have it would cover a good 1000 square feet of wall for sure.  While I don’t want to sound crass or ungrateful for many who serve the Lord in an effort to reach people with the gospel, I have to maintain a strict understanding of what scripture teaches and how God alone gives life to unbelievers in spite of the style and engagement of human beings. In my brief two decades in ministry I have discerned several reasons why people do not share their faith.

They are not in the faith

According to scripture, MOST people among the fellowship of local congregations are NOT in Christ. They enjoy the life of church, but not the giver of life. Jesus says that many are going through the broad way and few will find and enter the narrow gate. He says that He is the door to Heaven, not the ways or words of man. So, for a large majority of people, they don’t share the faith because they don’t have it to share. No one can give what they do not possess.

They are ill equipped by methods and memorization

Being ill equipped is either one of two things: First, it is not being taught anything about sharing the faith, living the faith or the like and second, it is being taught that sharing the faith is a method, system, strategy etc. that completely disregards the commands and practice of God’s word. When people learn to throw a ball, they don’t need lessons and strategies dealing with their finger placement, rotation of spin, muscle retention in the fingertips, or the methods of measuring the arch, friction, or force of the ball moving through the air.  They just need to pick it up and throw it to someone. Scripture teaches that sharing the faith is done in only TWO ways. Through the teaching of God’s Word either through preaching or daily living. Matthew 28:19-21 teaches that all Christians are to just simply teach others to obey Christ through the Scriptures. There is nothing more to it. I guess the question should then look to the first point, do those who profess Christ even know what He has certainly said they will be and do in the first place?

They are fearful due to a lack of power from God’s word

Fear intimidates many in the faith because they see all the magnificent oration and presentation skills of so many and their ability reason and engage in dialog and debate. They feel as if they would never be able to do these things and in a biblical sense, they should not do them. Paul says to the Corinthian church that he did not come in “eloquence of speech” or in wisdom but in “fear and much trembling” being nearly “unable to speak.” He says this because that was his ability, not what we think when we consider successful evangelism. When we put ANY ANY ANY ANY ANY ANY ANY stock in one’s ability to share the gospel, we have dismissed the cross of ALL ALL ALL ALL ALL ALL ALL ALL power. Read 1 Corinthians 1 for the proof.

They don’t have the word of God in their fellowship 

I won’t claim that many people sit in ignorance of their own doing on this matter but I will say that for the most part they sit under talking but not teaching. Teaching requires something being learned and when all one gets from a so-called preacher is stories, examples, personal reflection, commentary or worse, life lessons, they are NOT getting any teaching from Scripture because it doesn’t teach these things. It doesn’t need these things. It doesn’t requires these things. If God’s word is preached as it is written, the the wisdom of man moves into the garbage and God’s wisdom who is Christ Jesus Shines clearly to empower HIS true church to teach others the same.

They think it requires a response by all who hear

Sadly, the efforts of sharing the faith in the last 100 or so years has been compacted to a few verses, a technique or two and then a request for a response to which men, beginning with Satan in the garden then to Charles Finney during the SGA, has gladly put their seal upon as the “right” response for the gospel “plan” or “presentation.”  I will remain focused on this point but if you read more and listen more you will see I have very little tolerance for this “bewitched” practice of damnation that plagues the world today settling the hearts of many who believe they are born again when they are not.  God’s word demands a response and the effect of teaching people to obey Christ and to believe in Christ and to repent of their desires to find JOY in Christ is either God saving them through the hearing of the gospel (Christ died for the ungodly for the judgement of sins) or hardening them through the idea of legalism or rejection of the truth. (Rom 1)  We should not lead people through a process of saying or doing anything but rather engagement to be continually committed to the joy of Christ through the fellowship of the saints around the word and worship. (See Matthew 28 again if you need to.)

Share the faith, share the gospel, live the life of a child of God and stick to the word of God and watch God make disciples!   μαθητεύω (For my Greek Loving Peeps… take a gander at that verb found in Matt 28:19)

In the end, many practices or lack there of regarding evangelism are a direct result of either not knowing or not trusting in the promises of God. Scripture teaches that all who see the Kingdom of Heaven and Enter it are “born of God” (John 3) and that only through hearing of the words of Christ will God create life in that hearing unto faith. (Rom 10:17)  So, when the church begins to reduce God’s saving grace little more than being sincere like when you get married, make a new year’s resolution or commit to a job, then we have failed the cross most certainly and it’s no wonder why so many Christians just are not willing to engage in a losing, false converting game of cat and mouse.

Matthew 28:19–20 (ESV)

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

See this text. It brings with it decades if not near centuries of man-made manure of purveying a godless hope for the gain of self glory and head counting producing false celebration, false worship and false churches for the world to love and enjoy. Jesus says simply that sharing the faith in obedience to Him is on two things:

  1. As you “GO” – so we have to be in the world doing our daily things.
  2. “Make disciples” – this is what we think we’re doing by “committing” people to Christ or sharing the “process” of salvation when Jesus clearly explains it.
    • Making disciples is bringing them into the flock of Christ evidenced by Baptism or inclusion into the local church. This would be those who desire to “know” and “learn” Christ who profess in their own understanding that they are born again by Him. (A whole new discussion)
    • Making disciples is teaching them to observe (0bey) ALL His commands.

The result of real evangelism is that CHRIST IS WITH US ALL until the end of age. Amen.

Pastor James

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Abuse of Power in America’s Law Enforcement!?

The Things That Matter

 

There is no lack of evidence and media coverage in the last few years of law enforcement taking wrong actions and causing deaths because of abuse of power, fear, overreach of authority and most likely, bigotry.  I have remained silent on these issues recently in an attempt to look through the lens of objectivity and scripture so that my responses and thoughts are not emotional salt in readily forced open wounds.  That being said, I have come to conclude a few things that may be of interest for the body of Christ to consider and understand that we have a platform not so much for change, but for grace and power.

Here are seventeen thoughts on the recent issues related to police violence and death.  If you are not privy to what I am referring, then just turn on a news broadcast, you will quickly be informed.

  1. Christians should not be surprised by the fact that people are wicked, hateful, racist, power hungry and murderous.  It’s the nature of the human condition that we are at inception fully focused on self and self feelings and self power.  So do not think it strange… that racism and power have not subsided.
  2. Christians should know that while these happenings are not new and while they are extremely wicked and evil, things could be and have been worse.  This is not to down play anything but to remind us of history and that if things do not change, they will become very very worse.
  3. Christians should always remember that even in the worst of American history, many in other countries are suffering to a greater degree at the present time.  So many people in other lands are even suffering because of their faith in Jesus Christ, and they are being tortured and burned for it.
  4. Christians should be aware that there is a proven fear of “black” men in America even among the “black” culture according to recent research done at Stanford University but even so, these recent happenings are not bad because they are targeted, they are result of bigoted fear and hunger for control and power. At the core of it stands power and pride.  It is wicked because it is an attack against people, those who bear the image of God, not because of skin color or economy.
  5. Christians should remember that even though our laws and constitution protects against such actions, the erosion of truth among the “church” and the failure of focus has aided in making the law of America less necessary.
  6. Christians should realize that because of this “lawless” mentality that the culture has established entitlement over justice whereby those who are not “in power” are abused by the entitlement of power. Staying alive is not entitlement, it is a natural right for all people, especially when the constitution grants it.
  7. Christians should know that ALL authority is placed in power by God and is known as those who govern or rule.  Scripture also teaches that those who do “good” or live “rightly” should have no fear of the sword.
  8. Then why is there a need to fear law enforcement?  Even when doing right after doing wrong is doing right (ie. submitting to discussion or arrest.)  Even then, the police are NOT government.
  9. Christians should realize that according to our own laws and government, that law enforcement is NOT authoritative but “enforcing” the laws of those who govern. They are to abide by the law, not violate the law because they are slaves to the public who pay their salaries in taxes, both property and sales.  Slaves have no authority over their masters, such as the police, if not abiding by the law, are unable to enforce correction or subjection of another to their desires. Police do not have any authority over the law nor over those who are not in violation thereof.
  10. Christians, never forget that all governments are established by God for good.  The USA is for the good of righteousness and justice and the laws that God has established in this country allow for resistance against tyranny by public servants who do not care about the preservation of life and a violation of liberties.
  11. Many citizens of this country are unaware of the severity of this issue while others are deeply aware and grieved and would be willing to die for the sake of the liberties of future generations.
  12. Justice sits at the center of God’s essence as His holiness is an outward display of his intrinsic worthiness.
  13. Therefore, while social justice is NOT the main issue among believers, and while it is not the call and purpose of the church, it is something that should be top of mind for the church because the gospel itself is a direct image of God’s justice toward evil so that the church should have a heart and voice for the oppressed.
  14. In our culture it isn’t just violence, murder, and police brutality but also corporate greed and power that have overstepped the righteousness of God and His establishment of justice.  This greed has created a slavery of poverty and a powerful control over enterprise that keeps many under its thumb.
  15. Christians, remember that the message of the cross subjects ALL people to the justice of God who will rightly bring recompense on all who do not believe and for all who are in Christ, he has placed His wrath apportioned for them on Jesus Christ His Son.
  16. Christians should remember that no real justice will be found in this world and that which is seen does not suffice in the light of God’s holiness. So all the greatest judgment seen in this Earth pales in comparison with the justice of the face of God as He parts to each one that which is deserved.
  17. Christians should respond as she is created to respond.  Here are a few closing thoughts on what that looks like:
    1. She cannot lose her mission.
    2. She needs to remember that God may NOT grant change in these areas.
    3. She holds fast to the truth that on the Gospel preached will change anything that is changed.
    4. She should WEEP, not nash her teeth over this evil.
    5. She should remain humble and grateful for God’s sovereignty in all things.
    6. She should remain peaceful, even when in battle, so that Christ’s holiness is seen in her.
    7. She should rejoice when one wicked one comes to faith and rejoice in the forgiveness of murder.
    8. She should make her mind settle on the truth of scripture, not the error of man’s understanding and media.

In the end, whether these things stop or not, the church has an obligation to the lost and the hurting.  PRAY beloved and proclaim the True Gospel (Good News), not the “NOT GOSPEL” ways of this world.

 

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Brief Biblical Standards of Rebuke and Correction

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Taking a poll would likely reveal that most everyone who has ever been around church folks has seen nasty, negative, nit-picking abrasiveness that has caused relational strive and separation among the brethren.  Well, that’s not what we should see in any form among the people of God as the scripture says:

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 ESV)

So, a treatise on the above mentioned attitudes and actions would be as necessary as writing a song about gossip, which is murder.  The point is that there is a time, place and practice for a rebuke and the scripture not only reveals in narrative, but commands it in doctrine.  A quick look at Titus and Timothy (both) would suffice along with a jog through Galatians.  To stick on a particular wave on this subject, I propose looking first at the occasion of rebuke and correction and then the tools of correction closing with the practice of correction.

The Occassion

Anytime any sin or weakness is revealed affords a good opportunity for correction among the fellowship of faith. However, the attitude on every matter is to be done in humility, knowing that except by God’s grace, each would be in the same station of error and may very will be there in the future.  Later on this.  For now, let’s quickly examine a “few” but not “all” thoughts:

  • Sinful Actions
  • Sinful Affections
  • Sinful Attitudes
  • Wrongful Doctrine, False Teaching, Poor Preaching
  • Rebellion of God’s Commands
  • Evidence of Unbelief, Lack of Trust in Scripture
  • Doubt, Fear and Anxiety
  • Divisiveness, Cliques, Favortism
  • Unforgiveness, Resentment, Bitterness
  • Gossip, Slander and Giving Ear to either
  • Anything that is unbecoming of the Lord’s Name or the Holiness of Christ’s Body
  • Anything that puts a stumbling block
  • Legalism, Self Righteousness, Moralism
  • Lack of Joy
  • Hatred
  • “Your List Here”

You see, there is a never ending list of reasons for correction and training and rebuke.  And never forget that correction is part of the purpose of the church, not to modify behavior, but to make much of Christ who has given His life for the holiness of His people.  True love is love that says hard things and does hard things, it isn’t “utopia” la, la, la happy-town, but sometimes tearful quests of challenging relationships for the good of everyone.

As each Christian looks deeply into their own lives to remove the log from their eye, they are also helping their Christian siblings get the specks from theirs.

The Tools

Well, this portion could be done in one phrase: The tools of correction and rebuke are the words of God.  The Bible.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV)

See, there is no need for “counseling” or “programs” or the like in order to work through sinful issues among God’s people.  His word is enough.  Take this to the bank of Truth, that if God’s Word is not enough, then those who consider it in need are not in the faith at all for only through God’s word can one even be given the grace to believe. (Ro 10:17, John 3) Nuff Said.

The Practice

The meat and potatoes of Christianity are found in the application of theology and doctrine of scripture. So, here we’ll take a quick succession of snapshots on several places in order to get a “feel” for what the bible teaches.  One of the most beloved places in scripture for the purity of the church is Matthew 18 where Jesus strictly resolves conflict between “TWO PEOPLE” in the fellowship by telling them to work it out together.

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18:15-20 ESV)

If they don’t listen, get some help.  If they still don’t listen, let the whole church help. If then they don’t listen, kick them out until they come to faith and repentance through God’s grace.  We don’t have time to pull out the full theological implications here, but simply that this text is written to people who have been SINNED against by another. It doesn’t include aggravation (sin) or “feeling” slighted, but obvious sin.  So in the first matter of practice, individuals should KEEP SILENT and work it out with no one else finding out in an attempt to keep things between them.

This text does NOT however have anything to do with PUBLIC sin or PUBLIC error in doctrine.  Public sins, divisive teaching that is public, bearing false witness in gossip, community known actions and behaviors and the like are not counted as personal offenses and are immediately and publicly rebuked before the church. While wisdom and affection are paramount to these matters, the protection and unity of the flock is severe and must be upheld at all cost.

Scripture commands such things as revealed through the example of Peter with Ananias and Sapphira even though their sin was “hidden, God the Spirit revealed it to him. Paul did not require a meeting with the brother engaged in incest in 1 Corinthians 5 neither did he meet with Peter privately in Galatians when he rebuked him in front of everyone. Paul openly expresses rebuke toward Euodias and Syntyche in Philippi and warns Timothy about Alexander due to doctrinal errors. He tells Titus to reject any erring individual in matters of doctrine. Many other places such as 3 John and Jude do not follow Matthew 18 in regards to private rebuke.

In the end, the purpose of correction and rebuke is that this is nearly half of all true discipleship and if the church is to bring life into its heart as a people, then the word of God must be true in its full counsel among them.  Church discipline then is the training of God’s people by God’s people through His word for the sake of their holy and healthy pursuit of life together for His glory.  When people continually rebuke the gospel message and evade detection while leading others astray, they are to be publicly outed until they publicly repent and correct their error.  After all, isn’t love for the good of others?  Corinthians 12:7 through 15 teaches that it is.

For His Glory by His Grace,

Pastor James

A few thoughts on the point of the shepherd’s job and calling can be read here.

RELATED: In an recent visit to Rome, Dr. Rick Warren made some very grievous statements about the gospel as it relates to Romanism. Many prominent leaders have given public rebuke to these statements.

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Galatians 3:28 & 1 Timothy 2:12

How should one respond to the statement, “While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.”?

“What Good is a Woman Anyway?” is one of my first writing projects that I completed in 2009 while pastoring in the East Bay of California.  Having at the time three daughters and the bride of all brides, I felt a deep concern for the way many in the church just rested in a “misogyny” toward the idea of women in leadership of any kind.  It was a nasty reality that after 10 years of pastoral ministry, my wife finally admitted that she didn’t know how men could be so called of God and be so hateful toward women in the church.  I agreed, so the book was mostly an effort to understand myself what God needed, wanted and required of me so that I could teach my daughters, (now have four), what God desired of them.  The text in Galatians 3:28 is a strong contradiction to what many men do in practice in the local church.

Galatians 3:28 (ESV)

28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

To begin, it must be understood that all syntax prepares one to invest in the meaning of text received from the context.  Therefore, in the case of Paul’s letter to Galatia, his purpose in writing 3:28 is to inform his readers of their stature in the presence of God as their Father rather than their social stature in contrast to the Jews.  For Jewish social order, anyone who was a gentile was considered a “dog”, unclean and unworthy of respect. (If you see Greek syntax and context in John 3, it is very evident in the rebuttal of Jesus toward Nicodemus’ worldview.)  Therefore, Paul’s intent was to challenge the believers of all races, cultures, economical status, gender and the like to submit to the equality that comes in Christ.  This doesn’t mean that roles and gender differences are eradicated and that now slaves are free or free men are slaves or men are really women and women are men etc.  What it does communicate is that just as these Gentiles are no longer “dogs” but “heirs” in Christ just as any believing Jew, but so are the walls of separation in inequality or superiority removed because of the cross.  It’s very akin to the prayer of the Jew in Luke’s gospel who thanked God he wasn’t a publican.  Because of the gospel, there is no more superiority in gender, freedom, ownership or culture. 

The occasion of Paul’s writing was to answer the heretical bend of the Jewish-Christian community who were requiring the Gentile believers to exercise the Jewish rites of circumcision as a means to full acceptance before God and man.  So, Paul argues against it in every social sphere, in as much that he places the subordinate woman by class in equality with her male counterpart.  If the context were not available, then the imprint of the purpose would not be reachable.  So, a woman, though she is to submit to her husband in “all things” (Eph 5) is equal to her husband before God.  In the same manner, the life of the church is fully available to all Christians, not just Jewish ones, or male ones or freed ones.  One must note here though that our cultural blindness in present day lays over a latent smearing on the church of the first century. In other words, what is seen “among” the church today is often thought of when considering the first church when that is the furthest from the truth.

F. Bruce says it this way: “No more restriction is implied in Paul’s equalizing of the status of male and female in Christ than in his equalizing of the status of Jew and Gentile, or of slave and free person. If in ordinary life existence in Christ is manifested openly in church fellowship, then, if a Gentile may exercise spiritual leadership in church as freely as a Jew, or a slave as freely as a citizen, why not a woman as freely as a man?” (Bruce 1982:190).

So, the gender, race or freedom of a Christian does not give credence to their standing among the body or within it.  More to the question then would be “then why does scripture teach that overseer is for men?” Because in Ephesians 5, the Apostle Paul makes clear that the essence of the nuptial relationship between husband (head/Andros) and wife (gune, bride) is to portray the Gospel picture of Christ (the head of all things) laying down His life for the sake of His bride (the church He redeemed.)  So then, marriage is not about man and woman but about Christ and the church.  In this, the relationship between husband and wife does not become void in the context of roles in the home due to the equality of Christ. 

I personally like to share it this way with my five children, four of whom are girls, “I am a shadow of a husband but am really a bride, I am a shadow of a shepherd (I am a pastor), but am really a sheep.  So my “image” bearing in my role only points to the one who is the true in those roles.”  I further explain this to them, “Your mother and I will be husband and wife until one of us dies, but we will always be brother and sister in Christ, eternally.”  Therefore, just as men are to shepherd at home as “Andros”, head, they are given the same grave responsibility among the temporal season of the church in order that the role of Christ continues in the picture of the gospel.  In eternity there will be one shepherd/teacher, Jesus, and one body, all who are in Christ.  To flip this picture based on precepts of culture or “pretexts” is a very grave error.  To consider a man more qualified for the role of overseer/pastor because he is male is a misnomer, it is because of the picture of the gospel.

So, coming to this:

1 Timothy 2:12 “I do not permit a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man; rather she is to remain quiet.”

Sounds harsh because that’s how we want to hear it.  However, when one looks again at the context of Paul’s writing to his protégé they will see the creation order in a manner expounding on the marriage creation. There is a direct order of the picture of the gospel in all of this and one must be very careful to understand it in that context.  Let’s peel through it briefly.  Ish (Adam) was created by God and it “was not good” that he was alone, so out of Adam came Eve (Ish-sha) for she was made from Adam.  God put the two together and together they are good, apart they are not good.  So, in the context of understanding the purpose of marriage when God gave the first bride to the first man, believers need to understand that the role and picture of creation was to establish God’s rule and wisdom over the wisdom of what He has made. (See Romans 1 and 1 Cor 1 for more details).  God paints a glorious picture of teaching Adam (a created being) to obey who then was to teach Eve (a created being who completed Adam as ONE FLESH and made him whole) to obey God.  Then Eve listened to the serpent instead of her husband who then allowed it without rebuke and all of humanity fell.  So, the very first place in scripture when humanity failed to live as God intended them caused the fall of all humanity.  It wasn’t because of their gender or their ability or worth (they are one flesh), but because of God’s wisdom and purpose in redemption and the picture of Christ.

The church is to always tenderly be the hopeful submissive wife to the Lord Jesus and in the same way; the marriage relationship depicts this, not with ruling authority, but with Christ like surrender and submission toward each other.  So, in the church, Paul is saying in 1 Timothy 2:12 that he expects the roles of God’s creative wisdom to continue within the confines of the body of Christ in practice.  That if each part does its part, then the body “Grows itself up in love” (Eph 4).  Without it, the body becomes proud, disfigured and most importantly, unholy and non-glorifying to Her Husband.

A parting shot to the plow of this race should be to remember Christ’s words: The first shall be last and the last shall be first and that anyone who seeks to save his life will lose it but all who loses for the sake of the gospel will find it.  Just as everyone among the body has different gifts, callings and offerings, there is equality all for the good of the church.  When man begins to consider how best to manage God’s commands we miss out of the joy of knowing God’s wisdom who is Jesus Christ.

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Russell Moore’s comments to the Vatican Assembly

In the late hours of yesterday I anxiously anticipated what may come of a gathering of leaders at the Vatican in order to discuss how marriage may be “examined” and “proposed” changes be implemented in order to strengthen and make beautiful its reality.  My thoughts on the matter are still mixed with grief and some confusion for various reasons I stated yesterday.

Today, Dr. Moore provided his words to the witnesses of the gathering.  I have placed them below for you to read.  More thoughts to come as I meet with fellow elders on the matter.  I will say that I appreciate Moore’s pointed expression of the gospel.

[click to continue…]

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Interfaith Collaboration on Marriage

Catholic Colloquium

In an attempt to be focused and maintain a biblical standard through which I speak, I want to make certain of my purpose in this writing.  I want to disclose the futility of worldly means to a biblical end in relation to marriage, suffering, joy and affection.  Today, the “Humanum” convened at the Vatican, “The Complementarity of Man and Woman: An International Colloquium is a gathering of leaders and scholars from many religions across the globe, to examine and propose anew the beauty of the relationship between the man and the woman, in order to support and reinvigorate marriage and family life for the flourishing of human society.” This gathering of leaders appears to be an attempt to collectively establish a sense of beauty and awe for the “biblical” picture of marriage between a man and a woman.  While these efforts are commendable in one respect, the nature of these “Inter-faith” dialog has me somewhat concerned. (OK, more like a lot).  I readily counter however that I trust in the awesome and sovereign power of God, who before the world began had intentions for such a meeting.  So my faith isn’t discharged or waning by my record here, but rather, my record is for the sake of the body of Christ to have pause to consider the implications.

So that I am not guilty of assuming what is not supported with evidence I will elect to do several things:  First, I will not endorse or rebuke any member or attendee of the colloquium for each participant in his own conscience will be held to the judge of all men.  Second, I am not negating the necessity of a good dialog on marriage and the nature of why so many young women today (referencing today’s speeches from Latin America) are nearly in complete despair that there is any hope of a life-long marriage with a good man.  Third, I do not want to appear insensitive to people of other faiths or theologies, but I am speaking from a strictly Christian (Biblical) perspective on this topic.  Fourth, I am only going to use what is provided in source from the colloquium’s pages rather than make inference from what may seem “ideal” and “obvious” information.  Fifth, I hope to engage my readers in their journey of celebrating the gospel of Jesus Christ, not tear down the efforts to support marriage.  Sixth, my aim is remove myself and my congregation from any support for such a dialog in the name of “religion” or “Christ” or the “Church” or “people of faith”, “community of faith,” or the like.  Seventh, I will make obvious statements for recollection and do my best to keep commentary from the writing.  However, when pressed, I will preach.

On the about page of the Colloquium one can find the sponsorship or organizers listed very clearly.  The site states:

The Colloquium is sponsored by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and co-sponsored by the Pontifical Council for the Family, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and
 the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity.

At first glance one may glaze over this, but let me point out a few things that the church should consider:

  1. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in short is the same “official” group that founded the inquisition.  The contemporary purpose of the group is to, “spread sound doctrine and defend those points of Christian tradition which seem in danger because of new and unacceptable doctrines.”
  2. The Pontifical “Councils” for family, interreligious dialogue and promotion of Christian unity are all councils of the office of the Pope or “Pontiff”.  The history of the Papal office reveals that the office of Vicar (replacement of Christ) is the Pontiff (bridge builder.)  This means that the one overseeing the mission of these councils considers himself the representative or bridge between God and man.
  3. Family, interfaith dialog and Christian unity are all very good things, but one must readily ask, “does my understanding of scripture allow for a human mediator to man and is that a matter of faith that I can be in unity with?”

Now I want to look at the mission of the meetings.

The Complementarity of Man and Woman: An International Colloquium is a gathering of leaders and scholars from many religions across the globe, to examine and propose anew the beauty of the relationship between the man and the woman, in order to support and reinvigorate marriage and family life for the flourishing of human society.

  1. What do “religions” have to do with marriage? As Christians we are readily and with great precision taught that the marriage is the first institution created by God to portray the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Do all faiths believe this?  Do all faiths follow the Apostolic teaching of Ephesians 5 when Paul clearly teaches that marriage points to “Christ and the church?”  What “leaders” have any thoughts that would align with biblical authority on this matter as it relates to the points in discussion in “examining” and “proposing” [anew] the beauty of “marriage” (the relationship between the man and the woman.)
  2. Does this language of “relationship between” actually indicate marriage or is this an attempt to avoid marital discussion at all?  Does the scripture not declare enough doctrine about these things in Ephesians, Colossians, 1 Corinthians etc.?  Is this conference really about marriage or an attempt to appease the heat given to Francis on his views on marriage?
  3. When did marriage need “support” from world leaders, religions and the like?  The support of marriage is only found in Christ who fulfills the purpose and presence of marriage to begin with.  When did the gospel become unable to “reinvigorate marriage?”
  4. Is family life successful through the reinvigorating of marriage so that human society can flourish?  IF so, then how can these discussions “propose anew” that which is already been examined by God who created it?  Is there anything but the gospel that will reveal the power of God in marriage, family and society?  Would the “plurality” of these discussion find “unity” when there is obviously not unity?

Now some thoughts.  I pray that these words find you understanding that this is not a slap at the intent, but as the adage goes, “the road to hell is paved” with the intents of good men.  (meh.)  While marriage has been preached is it practiced by the church?  I think that if it was, there would be no need to invite “protestant” leaders to such talks as these.  So, in the first place of a batting lineup, let’s make sure that the church “Holds marriage in high honor” (Hebrew 13:4) in both sanctity and picture.  No discussion of this manner is going to make a difference and I pray that maybe one of God’s warriors will proclaim the word of Christ on this matter and God would herald this throughout.  Either way, God’s will be done and His word will go forth for His purpose.  Now some thoughts:

  • Although I respect every man’s desires, I think there is something grave at work when “leaders” share a stage who are not in unity where the purpose is to find unity.
  • Although many can be unified on the matter’s of marriage and its beauty from a world’s point of view, the church knows the purpose and power of God’s provision in marriage, so heretical views on the gospel create heretical world views on marriage and vice versa.
  • Although opportunity could present itself for discussion and gospel-powered rebuke and correction on doctrine (inclusive of marriage), this colloquium is presented in mass media style with marketing to boot.  So it is far short of any personal dialog.
  • Although I appreciate good debate and discourse, I believe the reformers would flip over in their graves to see such a thing, being they gave their lives to combat such blending of beliefs for the sake of any common good.
  • Although the desire to see marriage built, it won’t be by making it pretty again internationally, it will only be by preaching the one true gospel which by design condemns ANY other gospel.

Now to the how.  The site details in quick prose what will happen:

Witnesses will draw from
 the wisdom of their religious tradition and cultural experience as they attest to the power and vitality of the complementary union of man and woman. It is hoped that the colloquium be a catalyst for creative language and projects, as well as for global solidarity, in the work
 of strengthening the nuptial relationship, both for the good of the spouses themselves and for the good of all who depend upon them.

Let’s take a look at the design.  First, notice that the speakers are called witnesses, I make this point so that if you look on the site you will understand.  In some sense, I shudder to think why that word is used and because I do not know for certain, I will not assume.  I believe a witness however, is one who proclaims what is seen.  So, I would personally consider a witness (speaker) one who proclaims in “unity” what is being said among them.  It most likely asserts the “wisdom” and “experience” of each witness and they impart such to the group who will “examine” and then “propose.”  In like manner, here are some things that the church of Jesus Christ should consider:

  1. Wisdom does not come from religious tradition.  The scripture says that Jesus Christ is our wisdom (1 Cor 1:24) which is the reality that birthed my blogging in the first place (Being Wise and More Stupid) in 2006.  So, is there anything good to come out of what even the most sound theologian could offer in wisdom for the picture and beauty of marriage?  The same would go for cultural experience.  Even the weakest of debaters know that appealing to these measures is surely fallacious.
  2. The previous experience and wisdom is stated to allow these witnesses to “attest to the power and vitality” of marriage.  If marriage (man and woman) is so powerful and vital, then why is it under examination as a problem?  I just don’t understand this.  Is this attestation just personal experience with their own marriage?  What if it is failed?  What if it isn’t?  How does this make for global change on the matter without the gospel as the core of the purpose of marriage in the first place?
  3. Being a catalyst is good if the means are coming to an end that is profitable.  For the sake of argument, what if this gathering produced “langage” and “projects” that just turned the world on its head for the sake of biblical marriage (not on the table btw) and everyone never divorced and anything but biblical marriage disappeared.  So what?  What good is making something look better than it really is? What good is a society who considers itself righteous on this issue when in reality it is the suffering marriages that endure through the covenant of God’s grace that matter.  It isn’t about happy-go-lucky utopic unity.  It’s about truth whose name is Jesus Christ and that is really what is at stake here.
  4. Strengthening the nuptial relationship is not possible without knowing what the nuptial relationship is.  It is a microscopic picture of a microcosmic reality of Christ and His church!  What can come out of hearing all of these witnesses who will proclaim everything from one end of the spectrum to the other except further divorce from the true faith?
  5. Please remember my initial statements. I am not being insensitive here.  But those who depend on good marriages would be whom?  Each other, the children, the family, the neighbors?  What does that look like?  What does that even mean?  I ask sincerely with no sarcasm.  I cannot imagine something more drawn from the heart of the purpose of marriage than to put the focus of marriage on the happiness of the ones engaged and related to it.  Marriage is about dying for the good of another who doesn’t deserve it. (See Banner of Truth Article Here)

Much should be said in this matter, but to close I share my thoughts in question as to what this all means for many of us:

  • From these discussions may come some good truth, but will this be seen in the light of truth vs. error or “everyone’s together.”  If it is the latter, we, the church, is in trouble.
  • What do we do when leaders from Evangelical churches who have surely rebuked Francis’ doctrinal errors sit in assembly with him and others who malign Christ and the Word of God?
  • Will this cause further unrest among Baptists especially?  What about Jews? What about the Mormons on the panel? What about the Buddhists?  Yes, all these and more are represented among this convention, so what will come of it?
  • Should conviction arise, do churches write letters, remove themselves from the missions arm of associations, or just implode?
  • What takes place when the world looks at this and then becomes bewildered even more?  Are we to just say, “the god of this world has blinded their eyes?”
  • Isn’t there more important areas to put our time and talent?  More areas of interest on holy things and the things of salvation and the souls of the lost?
  • Will this conversation be used as a ploy to break down truth or a plow to create a harvest?

I have hundreds more questions and I am seriously praying and waiting to see what it is that God has called for in such a gathering.  I readily admit that it disturbs me and more so that some of my peers are there.  I look forward to hearing what they have to say and by God’s grace I pray I will not enforce my back seat ministry upon their convictions, however, I do say that the church of Jesus Christ should be separate from apostasy.

In the end, marriage is only about Christ, not us, not society and it is not for us to consider and propose.  It is not for the state to mandate, it is not for the government to approve.  It is the picture of God’s election of His chosen people who are the bride of His one and only Son, Jesus Christ.  May God have mercy upon mercy upon mercy… and He does.  Hold fast church, pray with me and let’s see just what next steps may need to be.  I pray that the church would be in unity, sadly some brothers would rather go to the Vatican among cults than fellowship locally due to doctrine. (That’s personal)

For His Glory By His Grace,

Pastor James

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Is Assumption a Sin? | A Rant…

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: (Luke 18:9 ESV)Assumption Rant

I am absolutely convinced that assumption in the heart of a Christian is one of the largest sins he or she could allow to invade their lives.  The center of assumption in the heart is bearing false witness within one’s self about another.  We all do it, we’ve all done it and many of us will do it again in the future.  So what makes it a sin and how do we combat it?  I’m glad you asked.  Assumption normally comes from what the mind “feels”.  Even when based on some evidence of words or actions, it is necessary to have wisdom in making judgments on a person or situation.  Failing to be wise, especially in truth, is either highly prideful as if we know all things or highly wicked as if we don’t care about truth.  While assumptions are normative in our lives as human beings for like things about weather, society, etc., when we assume others are a certain “way” based on external similarities we are indeed murderers at heart.  Murderer?  Well, if our assumptions are that certain people are evil, wrong, misled, devilish, untrustworthy, unable to change etc., then yes, we are murderers.  Especially when we haven’t obeyed scripture in the slightest to talk, pray and reason together.

Enough of the vague rambling, let me get to the point.  In the circles of theology and doctrine it is very easy for the self-righteous and the guardian of truth to find fault with everyone else.  And it’s equally easy for that same person, who has several forests in their eyes, to “think” they see a speck of dust in another’s eye that they can’t even see for the hedges in front of them.  (Even if they did see the speck or the log, they ahve a responsibility to help remove it.)  The point being that everyone of us knows a person, a pastor or a so-called friend who makes accusations about a conversation or worse, makes a judgment based on conclusions instead of seeking truth.  If we peeked through the lens of Christendom we would find what many would call erroneous doctrine in every circle.  Calvin believed that paedo-baptism was good and biblical; A.W. Pink was apostate by  disobeying God’s command to “not forsake the gathering”; Spurgeon smoked like a train and suffered from depression to the point of self-pity; and the list goes on and on.  So, the perfect “Christians” of this world feel it necessary to point out all the bad things in so many people to the point that they themselves have become like god… sound familiar? (See the fall of satan.)

In the end, the essence of such thinking eliminates the gospel all together.  Let’s put the voice in the right perspective: If we think that we have the end runs on biblical understanding we are deceived.  If we think that we are more careful than others in our holiness, then we are deceived.  If we think we are better off without the body of Christ, we are deceived.  If we think we have the authority to personally divorce ourselves from each other, then we are deceived.  If we are deceived on all of these things, then how in Heaven are we not deceived about everything?  Well, here’s a kicker: when we are right in our interests, our studies, and even in our wisdom and are not investing these things into the body of Christ, we are rebellious and ultimately have no hope in the gospel that we claim has saved us.  When we think that the family is superior in its temporal reflection of the church’s eternal glory we have lost sight of the cross. (Until death do us part… not the church brethren.)  When we think that we should not invest our time and learning into the life of the church for her good and growth, we are deceived.  When we continually find ourselves in fear, paranoia and panic over the infestation of error, we are deceived and according to Hebrews 6, there remains no more sacrifice for sins.  (What??? Yes, the sin of assumption, doubt, fear and the like are just like the sins of unbelief because that what they are.)

The final outcome of this aggravated rant is to expose my own futile and sinful dogmas that leech the very life out of my soul when I worry.  God’s people, His true people will work through the darkest of days and be PATIENT… those who just leave, divorce themselves from the fabric of the body of Christ, the living Christ, the salvation of Christ and the hope of Christ.  “Well, I don’t need the church to be saved…” one has recently said to me.  “You’re right… you are the church if you are saved… so be her and live as she WILL live.”  Spending hours each week in the letter of Jude has been refreshing and uplifting as well as empowering and convicting.  Sometimes I believe that those who “have crept in unnoticed” are not those with wild heretical doctrines, but those with SUBTLE LYING practices that deny the power of the gospel in their lives.  Primarily with the continued personal discussions, blog posts, videos, cards, letters and emails that proclaim all the evil of the world when the so-called devil they point to is not even aware.  If a redeemed soul really loves Jesus Christ, then he would certainly want to make disciples of those who have been misled.  No, but instead he would rather assume.  He would rather make up his own mind and allow the lie to be the banner rather than the cross.  He would rather be known as the heralder of caution than the heralder of hope.  He would rather gather himself a following of graceless goats than get dirty with Jesus who bled and suffered for the sheep.  Do not be deceived, all who cause division among the body will be corrected; either by the body in grace and forgiveness or by Christ who will cast them into the lake of fire.  I am glad to know that no sin can place me into the depths of hell and more glad to know that Christ has empowered us all to walk in Him, against the flesh which is dead.

Love demands giving and growing for the sake of another.  So where is the body of Christ?  Let’s see…. Here’s a thought: Do YOU speak of others the way Jesus speaks of you to God the Father?  What if HE spoke of you the way you think of others?  It would be a different story for you and your eternity.  After all, JESUS knows the real you.

For His Glory by His Grace,

Pastor James

 

Caveat: If you think this rant is about you, you may very well be one who has been deceived.  Stop thinking so much about your feelings.  However, if you are guilty of such things, let the grace of God abound to you as you come bold before His throne.  While there are many many circumstances and individuals who could pave this over their own issues in life and ministry, this comes from the direct study of God’s word in Jude and is expounded from continued persecution toward the body of Christ by many who profess to be the same.  Just rest in God’s grace beloved as we fight the good fight until we receive the crown of righteousness.

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Dunces R Us? | Just a Thought.

dunce-cap

In the Explanation and Defense of All the Articles, Martin Luther exclaims, “It seems I must have liars and villains for opponents. I am not worthy in the sight of God that a godly and honorable person should discuss these matters with me in a Christian way. This is my greatest lament.”

When considering his statement, it precisely expounds upon my heart in recent years, when, so-called well meaning brethren have made it their intent to disarm the people of God and His gospel by slander, murder and remorseless counsel. (James 4:11)  While much attention has been given to speculation, lies and the like, little attention has been given to the care and affection of God’s people, His holiness, and the Gospel of His Son and certainly no argument has been given for the sake of correction and unity of the faith. (Titus 1)

I want to encourage the Body of Christ to listen to His word, see it and quit being slaves to fodder, pundits, and the puke of offense given from the mouths of sinful men, but rather exult in the lovingness of God and His mercy in our souls.  (1 John 4) Let us all arise to the occasion to place holy things and God’s affection toward the lost as the utmost of our existence and let us be known for our humility, truth, biblical fortitude, true worship and most of all, the glory of the name of our Father from our lives.

Remember we are either the body, or we are cancer among the body.  Which is it? Beware the sounding bells of seemingly Godly men. Be a lover of truth, not an idiot of words.

Peter’s words summarize a familiar REALITY of God’s children. Test yourself as I test myself and carry the burden of the call to test everyone who speaks in the name of Christ by His measure: His holy word.

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:3-11 ESV)

Be blessed in His glory of His amazing grace!

Pastor James Tippins

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Husbands and Wives | A Paradox

Biblical Husband and Wife

During our adventure through Ephesians, these four sermons on husbands and wives out of Ephesians 5 hit the hallmark of the picture of the gospel in marriage.  Due to request, I have placed these four sermons here for easy location and listening.  May God be praised.

 



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Complaining and Grumbling in All Things

Complaining

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, [15] that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, [16] holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. (Philippians 2:14-16 ESV)

This text is one of our favorites at home.  I think this is so because it is so delightfully easy to apply when someone in the house decides to rant about anything in particular with debate or aggravation.  The funny thing with this text is that most of the time when we apply it to others we do so in the spirit of not applying to ourselves.  What I mean is that it is often so easy to say, “hey, ALL THINGS without complaining” while we stand there complaining about the complaining.  In this line of thinking I have come to conclude several areas of hypocritical application of this verse in my own life.  Maybe some of you can agree. (About yourselves…. :))

  • Complaining about people’s attitudes.
  • Being frustrated about traffic.
  • Finding fault with others. (Inside my head.)
  • Realizing annoyance that others don’t consider me in regards to their “noise.”
  • Dirty clothes on the floor.
  • Mud on the carpet.
  • Dusty bibles.
  • Smelly anythings.
  • Those darn false teachers.
  • Those darn false teachings.
  • Those darn falsely taught. (Don’t be a grammar police.)
  • Bible Questions
  • Bible Answers
  • Bible Idiots
  • Translations
  • Transmissions
  • All things electronic.
  • All things non-electronic.
  • Politicians and leaders.
  • Lack of peace at times.
  • Lack of humility.
  • Mumbling or shouting.
  • The length of things.
  • The brevity of others.
  • Silly thinking.
  • Weak Faith.
  • What ever else gets in the way of me.

OK, I hope you get the point.  Some of the ideas popping in my head are not going to be expounded upon but the brief list will get each of us thinking I pray, about our long list of never-ending complaints, grumbles, disputes etc.  In reality the peace of Christ should rule our hearts to such a degree that when things that should upset, even rightly, are not stumbling blocks for us or others.  One of the greatest measures of the faithful is the joy of the Lord and I believe this comes equally with humility.  So, to be certain of God’s work in us, let’s pause a minute and ask ourselves the last time we had a complaint, even in our own minds and then see if it fits into the category of “ALL THINGS.”

Why does it matter?  Because the rule of Christ in our lives pulls us out of fleshly understanding and allows us to see with clarity the hand of God in ALL THINGS, especially the EGR issues and people.  (EGR = Extra Grace Required.)  This text says that IF WE complain and grumble and dispute that we bring BLAME and GUILT to our lives before others.  We FIT IN to a crooked and twisted generation rather than stand out in holiness in comparison.  We cover the light of Christ in our community rather than shine in the darkness. We let GO OF Christ in those moments because we feel that our take and “talk” on such matters is more vital than God’s purpose.  Paul argues here that he is being “poured out” as a drink offering for the sake of the Christians in Philippi and that their peaceful, hopeful, humble, content resolve will prove that he did not pour himself out for nothing.  In the same way beloved, let us rise with all the power of the Gospel as we hold fast to the One who bought us with His blood.

The church should be a light of hope, not a light of annoyance as she complains about everything.

For His Glory by His Grace,

Pastor James Tippins

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