Everyone seems to have an opinion about the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Christian publications, television, conferences and denominations are filled with thoughts, discussions and positions about them. There are usually two sides to this issue. On one side we have wild-eyed false prophets claiming to exercise the gifts while they manipulate and control gullible and ignorant believers. Then on the other side we have spiritually dry intellectuals holding conferences to proclaim that the Holy Spirit doesn’t operate like He did in the New Testament and teaching that all who claim to operate in gifts are under the power of Satan and are not genuine Christians. Wow…are those our only options?
It is easy to get into some dramatic and wild arguments about whether some of the gifts have “ceased” or whether all remain. Discussions about neuter nouns and modifiers in the Greek are all fascinating as men perform linguistic backflips in order to deny God’s gifts for today. (No one would read through the New Testament and arrive at the position that gifts have ceased. It only comes about with linguistic gymnastics by those scared of or predisposed against them.) Equally ridiculous are the silly presentations of the so-called ‘Word of Faith’ cronies making the gifts up under their own carnal desires rather than submitting to God’s Word. (No one would read through the Scriptures and conclude that the charlatans we see on religious TV are under the influence of the Holy Spirit. To do so only comes about through lack of discernment.)
LifeWay research did a survey a couple of years back asking Southern Baptist pastors, ”Do you believe that the Holy Spirit gives some people the gift of a special language to pray to God privately?” 50 percent of SBC pastors said “Yes” and 43 percent said “No” while the Continue reading
In our day of political correctness, ‘likability’ has become a golden calf. This has become true in many of our churches and pulpits. We must seek to go out as “lambs among wolves” when sharing the gospel, however, we must be careful that we do not dumb down the message beyond recognition.
There are a couple of issues that we must clearly understand in order to prevent us from watering down the gospel and getting caught up in the swell of cultural softness. We must never take the nails, thorns or splinters away from the scandal of the cross as we share, but we must make sure our presentation of those truths are not muddled by the ugliness of carnality and bitterness. Nothing is a ugly as a preacher sharing the glorious truths of Christ with harsh bitterness, frustration or control. It makes a mockery out of the message and fails to present the God of the Scriptures.
If we stand for the truth and Spirit of the gospel, we will be persons who are:
- Honoring others
Equally so, when we stand for the gospel we will also be: Continue reading
A great post from a Pastor friend of mine! Well worth the read and needed for all of us who proclaim the marvelous gospel of Jesus Christ. In fact, I invite you to subscribe to Marty’s blog and read everything he posts. A great website for believers.
Our Task: Lovingly Opposing Evil in a World Gone Mad « ChosenRebel’s Blog.
John MacArthur seems to have adopted a ‘scorched earth’ policy toward charismatics and pentecostals. While there is much to be corrected within the circles of those who belong to these two groups, both doctrinally and practically, it is important to understand there is a difference between correction and rejection.
Much of the shame upon Christianity by non-believers are at the hands of the charlatans, prosperity crooks and wild-eyeed shameless false prophets from within pentecostalism that fill the TV airwaves with their vile false doctrines of ‘health, wealth and prosperity.’ We must stand against and warn people of these ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing.’ However, in Continue reading
Have you ever heard, “Well, his doctrine is correct.” or “He believes in a sound statement of faith.” These are two examples of statements which are common among evangelicals in regards to community and fellowship. It is imperative that we understand that Christianity is not just about doctrine. A person can be correct on all the major points of theology and yet spiritually dead or heretical in practice. We can be as straight as a gun barrel and just as empty.
In many of our mainline churches, the Christian faith has been reduced to a set of doctrines which one must adhere to. That is good, if we do not stop there! Certainly, the historic faith of Christianity can and should be presented in the fashion of sound theological propositions. However, the ‘faith’ of Christianity is way more than just some accurately stated doctrines or correct mental belief. At its core, it is about an initimate and personal relationship with the risen Savior. And this relationship takes place through repentence and faith in the finished work of Christ at calvary.
There are many ‘professing’ believers who would tow the line on sound doctrine, but whose lives are still destined for hell because they have not entered a living relationship with Jesus Christ. Sound doctrine protects us from cultic/heretical representations and preversions of the Christian faith. Therefore, sound doctrine is essential for accurately presenting and holding to the biblical view of God, Man, Sin and Salvatiion. It is impossible for cults to flourish apart from erroneous doctrine, as false doctrine is the seed bed for strange and heretical views. Continue reading
Here is an excellent written article about the tragic, hard-nosed and equally erroneous position John MacArthur is taking. (found through a dear friend of mine.) Let us stand against error, but we must be careful to not throw the ‘baby out with the bath water.’
Why John MacArthur May Be Losing His Voice | Parchment and Pen.
I sat in the Oncologist office recently. It was time for the re-staging tests to determine the prognosis of my battle with Hodgkins Lymphoma. It has been 5 years since I finished treatment and medically speaking this was a great benchmark to be at. What would the tests show? Where do things stand? How long will I continue to have all of this ‘hang over my head’ as I go about life and ministry? What if I face another round of chemotherapy? Can my physical body even take the abuse from the chemicals? These were the questions swirling around my head and heart as I waited for the lab call me back for blood samples and x-rays.
As I sat listening for my name to be called to report to the lab I felt my cell phone vibrate indicating that I had a message. It was an email from John, the head of our Project India team in India. Never knowing when there has been an attack of persecution or the need to an urgent issue, I quickly downloaded the message and read it as I continued to wait for the medical re-staging to begin. Continue reading
A Pastor friend of mine from North Carolina shared with me that one out of every four children who grow up in the Church abandon their faith once they get out on their own. (Usually off to college) Startling, but true facts.
How do we prevent our children from being on the bad side of this statistic? Many friends, including fellow Pastors have asked me what Susanne and I did to rear 3 boys who are all active and solidly planted in a local church, and who continue to walk faithfully even after becoming adults. Rearing children, especially boys seems to be a very hard task in the age we live in. Here are my answers to those who have requested my help with this over the years.
1. The New Birth - Be careful to make the new birth in Jesus a constant and clear message. Refuse to allow church membership or attendance to become a substitute for spiritual life. Gathering with other believers with commitment is important, but nothing meets the importance of true Spiritual life through faith in Christ! Attending church without the new birth is only a religious exercise. Attending with a genuine faith makes it alive and refreshing.
2. The Totality of Life – Make sure that the Christian faith is expressed in the context of the full expression of life, and do not let it become lost in a ‘religious’ framework of ‘church.’ A robust faith in every facet of life is a healthy and biblical faith.
3. Demonstrating Repentance and Openness – As parents, be quick to live out the humble and real practice of repentance and openess before your children. Repent to them whenever you fail before them. Nothing makes Christianity more real to our children as our brokenness and repentance. Using godly wisdom, discuss your own journey of maturing in faith, and be open about your struggles of seeking God’s will. Continue reading
Being in full time ministry since 1985, I have been with a lot of people who received bad medical news. Of course many times, even as pastors, we find ourselves offering the ‘pat answers’ embedded within shallow clichés. On June 17, 2008, the tables turned. I received a call from my Doctor telling me I had Hodgkins Lymphoma, a type of cancer within the body’s lymphatic system. I knew what this could mean as I have lost two close friends from the same type of cancer throughout my life.
I have always loved everything about apologetics–the search for balance, the answers to life’s questions, the response to objections to faith. However, the most difficult question in apologetics came down on my life with force and fear–”Why me, Lord?”
I surrendered to the Lord at an early age. I have sacrificed, as all Pastors do, much time, energy and finances to share God’s Word. NOW, this is what I get? I know many think Pastors are beyond such questions…but we aren’t, not if we are honest. How could God really love me as His child and send me down this path? I wouldn’t do this to my child. The questions flooded my aching soul like a breached dam. I found myself pouring over the various prayers of David in the Psalms and found great comfort in knowing that the questions were common. Continue reading
Arrogance in the pulpit–the great tragedy in the American Church. As pastors, we are called to be leaders, not in pride and aloofness, but in humility and brokenness. And we will be, as soon as we have a deep and fresh vision of our own sinfulness and constant need of the mercy and grace of God.
As pastors and elders, we are entrusted to communicate the glorious truths of the gospel. We are called to be God’s mouthpiece to the sheep under our care. And we will be, as soon as we confess that our own homiletical skills and linguistic craftsmanship is unable to pierce the heart of man for eternal value, and we cry out for God’s Spirit from on high to anoint our words and direct our messages.
As leaders, we are called to be examples of modesty and hospitality. And we will be, as soon as we see the waste of our silk suits, expensive automobiles and ostentatious houses, and we use our resources to reach those in our community who are needy and lowly.
Every morning, we must ask our souls, “Are you broken today?” The flesh loves to run the show, it loves to get the attention and applause of man. However, if we are to fulfill Continue reading
In the mind of American Christians, the thought of modern missions usually consists of people dropping $2,000 or more to fly to an overseas mission field and teach kids how to comb their hair or kick a ball. However, it usually includes very little that reflects biblical missions. We leave the field with smiles and tears, but with very few conversions. We come home with the joy of having gone, but with the realization that a lot of money was spent for very little return of spiritual fruit. It seems it has become more about us…about appeasing our conscience over the lack of sacrifice we make for the gospel with our life of luxury. Instead of embracing the cross with all of our life, we offer one week out of the year to do ‘missions.’
For all the money, all the photos, all the hype, what do we really have to show for modern missions? Where is the revival?
Maybe we need to re-evalutate our mission trips and begin getting serious about what they should be in light of the pattern we see in Scriptures. Maybe we need less expensive ‘mission trips,’ and more gospel centered mission ministry. That is, trips which have purpose of equipping believers and reaching people with the gospel through street evangelism and church planting. Trips where fruit of conversions are the focus, and leaders are equipped to mentor believers, instead of just games, toys and western ideas of what outreach is about. Continue reading
A couple of weeks ago, our Project India team traveled and did outreach and evangelism in a village where people came to market in order to sell their vegetables, fruit and fish. Our team gathered small crowds and passed out gospel tracts. One tract, “The Cross” is a message I wrote last year for the team to translate and distribute. It discusses the plan of salvation from Creation, the fall of Adam, the promise of a Messiah, and the birth, life, death resurrection and ascension of Jesus. I wrote it in very simple language because it had to go through translation and printing for the rural villages we are reaching in India.
As our team passed out tracts, they gave one to a man who was at the village that day selling fish to get money to provide for his family. He lives in a coastal village several kilometers away. His coastal village has a high rate of illiteracy, and most of the population worship the water and fish hindu gods. Very few from his village can read or write, but he was one of the few. He took the tract, placed it in his pocket, and carried it back to his village after he had finished selling his fish.
After arriving back at his coastal village he discovered the tract and began to read it. As he did, his heart leaped with joy as he read the news about Jesus coming to die for the sins and forgiveness of mankind. When he reached the end of the tract, he prayed and Continue reading