Sunday, January 31, 2010

Q&A - What's so bad about 'The Shack' & '90 Minutes in Heaven'

So a friend of mine had posted an article that points out several of the problems with the best-selling (still don't understand that one) book 'The Shack' by William Paul Young.

This is that article here by Albert Mohler.

A few comments to the affirmative and negative were made on the comment thread. My comment was an affirmative of the article. A rebuttal email was sent to me and so to help equip the brethren on how to articulate the problems with this dangerous book I am posting the email thread. The senders name will be kept private to protect his identity. I don't know the gentleman, we just have a mutual friend.

Here's the thread... enjoy?

First his comment to the article post...

ShackDefender - I believe that you are missing out on this being a book of fiction. Paul never once intended for his book to replace the Bible, which will never happen.

Also, have you actually read the book and then given your opinion or are you just bashing something you have not read.

Me - it is a fiction book and that is true, however, if I wrote a fictitious book about you full of mischaracterizations, flat out lies, and contradictions to a your biography, you'd probably at the least be a bit miffed.

This is God, His story isn't to be tampered with. Paul said if anyone preaches a Gospel other than what they had received from them that they were to be accursed.

Fiction or not... if it isn't depicting God in a right manner... it should be cast out. among other issues, Young in his personal theology (which informed his writing) denies the penal substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ.... See that interview here!

As to the book '90 Minutes in Heaven' by Don Piper... I'm not going to get into whether or not he actually did go to heaven... I tend to doubt it, but that is neither here nor there and not important. The problem with that book for me is that in it, he makes the statement 'Folks, Heaven is Real, you can believe in it, I've been there!'

and some people are saying 'oh now we can know heaven is real'. Well I, nor does anyone else, need him or even me to let them know that Heaven or God is real. The BIBLE reveals all of those things and what it reveals is sufficient.

So, sorry for my ranting, that's my two cents. I get so tired of people trusting things like that over actual Scripture! There is a severe lack of discernment among folks claiming Christ these days and the root of that problem is with the pastors who don't teach sound doctrine or the importance of it!


Then came the email:

ShackDefender: First, 90 Minutes in Heaven. I have not read it but my wife has and is a fan of it. It spoke to her heart. It never replaced the Bible or made her question anything. It in fact strengthened her belief and love of God. I personally think that the man would have stayed in Heaven if it really happened, but I also am not going to wrap God in my own idea of what He is supposed to do or what He will and won't do. He is God and His ways are above those of myself and you for that matter. But since we probably agree more about this particular book than disagree I am moving on to the other one.

Second, The Shack. Paul Young's book is a compilation of what he felt the Holy Spirit leading him to wrtie in an effort to show how God helped him get through a very abusive childhood. In fact the events in the story are not even based on any event he went through. I know this because of a few reasons. One being that I have read the book, two being the fact that I am acquainted with people who are friends of Paul Young the author.

Not one time in the book that you so abrubtly bashed on here does Paul Young ever give any false gospels of Jesus Christ. I dare you to find any without taking anything from the book out of the context in which it was intended. I have also seen transcripts of interviews with Paul Young explaining many of the faults you have with the book and how many people like yourself have made mistakes about what the meaning behind certain things in the book meant.

I don't disagree with your statements of the Bible being the Word of God, but are you saying that God never intended for us to ever listen or read anything else but the Bible. Where in scripture can you quote me that. I personally have found many inspirations from the writings of Billy Graham, John Wesley and other pastors through the years. Was I not supposed to read any of those? Fine, you don't agree with The Shack. Be more specific about what exactly are the issues that you ahve with Paul Young's writing. I can assure you that if you really question it that if you really wanted to discuss it that you could probably email Paul with your concerns and he would more than happily respond depending on his schedule.

I don't speak for Paul Young so don't take my message here as anything but a defense of a book that made a tremendous change in my life as it made me look at God in another way which was a God who wanted a relationship with me and all that it entails. Not for me to just blindly go through life without knowing what His will was for me through the Bible, prayer and the leading of the Holy Spirit.

I do apologize for possibly coming off as rude as it was not my intention. But I take offense to your statements because I am one of those people you said are looking to believe in false teachings other than the Bible. That sir is false.

Have a good night.

//Now to be certain that I stuck to the issues and not go off on a rant I put in quotes his reply and then I responded to it... just to be sure it is understood I'm italicizing the parts of his reply that I quoted in mine...

Me:

"First, 90 Minutes in Heaven. I have not read it but my wife has and is a fan of it. It spoke to her heart. It never replaced the Bible or made her question anything. It in fact strengthened her belief and love of God. I personally think that the man would have stayed in Heaven if it really happened, but I also am not going to wrap God in my own idea of what He is supposed to do or what He will and won't do. He is God and His ways are above those of myself and you for that matter. But since we probably agree more about this particular book than disagree I am moving on to the other one."

Glad she enjoyed the book, however, nothing extra-Biblical should be able to increase our devotion to God. His Word is sufficient for that... I'm with you on the not knowing if he did or didn't... and as I said... regardless of whether I believe he really went, he truly believes that he did and I'm not going to question what might or might not have happened... not my business or place to...

"Not one time in the book that you so abruptly bashed on here does Paul Young ever give any false gospels of Jesus Christ. I dare you to find any without taking anything from the book out of the context in which it was intended. I have also seen transcripts of interviews with Paul Young explaining many of the faults you have with the book and how many people like yourself have made mistakes about what the meaning behind certain things in the book meant."

Is God a black woman? No. Does Scripture ever portray Him as a female of any type? No. So to portray Him in that fashion is to create an idol of Him and that is breaking commandment number 2. It is one thing to have a story with a lion who serves as a Christ figure; it is quite another to put words into the mouths of the persons of the Trinity. When you’re having God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit say things that originate in your own imagination, the line between fiction and theology has gotten blurry, and it calls for some careful stepping that Young does not deliver. The most obvious example of this is the use of women to depict God the Father and God the Holy Spirit, but I was more troubled by some specifics. For instance, God the Father is a black woman named Papa, and her dialogue in places sounds like a character from Gone with the Wind: “Guess that’s jes’ the way I is… Sho ‘nuff!” (119). Papa engages in bathroom humor (88, 121), and there’s a scene where she and Jesus bump into each other in the kitchen, spill a bowl of sauce, and go through a slapstick routine while cleaning it up (104-05). I’m just stodgy enough to think this is not an appropriate portrayal of the God before whom the angels in heaven hide their face (Isaiah 6:1-3).

Let's talk about the fact that 'Papa' had scars on her wrists, to indicate that she suffered on the cross along with Christ. that's an unbiblical portray of the persons of the trinity...

Then there's the issue that there is no sense of submission of any kind among the persons of the Godhead-contrary to many statements of Jesus, including John 6:38: “I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.” The Bible presents the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as fully equal, and yet submitting in specific ways, the Son to the Father and the Spirit to the Father and the Son.

"Submission is not about authority and it is not obedience; it is all about relationships of love and respect. In fact, we are submitted to you in the same way." (p145)

Something else that troubled me is how The Shack purports itself to be this new idea that no one has ever heard before... All the characters consistently mock and take unwarranted stabs at traditional Christianity, as though the church (which is not perfect) isn’t getting anything right. not true...

"“But I still don’t understand why Missy had to die.”

“She didn’t have to, Mackenzie. This was no plan of Papa’s. Papa has never needed evil to accomplish his good purposes.” (165)

Is there anymore obvious problem that this? It was God's plan to offer up Christ as the atonement for sin! Isaiah 53:10. How about when Christ was in the garden and prayed that the cup of God's wrath pass from Him but that His ultimate desire was to do God's Will and not His own. Sounds like God planned it to me. ((I realize that the book's statement was about Mack's daughter Missy... but the point is that the statement in the book basically says that God is not Sovereign over all things... HE IS... ))

That is a teaching that is not found anywhere in scripture. There's a label for a teaching that contradicts scripture, its heresy!

"Second, The Shack. Paul Young's book is a compilation of what he felt the Holy Spirit leading him to wrtie in an effort to show how God helped him get through a very abusive childhood. In fact the events in the story are not even based on any event he went through. I know this because of a few reasons. One being that I have read the book, two being the fact that I am acquainted with people who are friends of Paul Young the author."


I will make this statement about Paul Young and include myself in that equation as well... and anyone else for that matter. If a teaching, his or mine or anyone's, contradicts Scripture, I assure you it WAS NOT the leading of the Holy Spirit.

"Not one time in the book that you so abrubtly bashed on here does Paul Young ever give any false gospels of Jesus Christ. I dare you to find any without taking anything from the book out of the context in which it was intended. I have also seen transcripts of interviews with Paul Young explaining many of the faults you have with the book and how many people like yourself have made mistakes about what the meaning behind certain things in the book meant."

So it isn't possible that a Christian could find problems with the book and to critique it is just awful. Do tell me, how do we as brethren defend the faith and guard against false doctrine (which is what The Shack is). I've seen Paul Young interviews too... like the ones where he has flat denied the necessity of the penal substitionary atonement of Christ for sins. That's the rankest heresy of them all!

If so many are making "mistakes" perhaps he should have been more clear in his writing... just a thought...

"I don't disagree with your statements of the Bible being the Word of God, but are you saying that God never intended for us to ever listen or read anything else but the Bible. Where in scripture can you quote me that. I personally have found many inspirations from the writings of Billy Graham, John Wesley and other pastors through the years. Was I not supposed to read any of those? Fine, you don't agree with The Shack. Be more specific about what exactly are the issues that you have with Paul Young's writing. I can assure you that if you really question it that if you really wanted to discuss it that you could probably email Paul with your concerns and he would more than happily respond depending on his schedule."


Absolutely we can read extra-biblical materials. I read Spurgeon, Wesley, Whitfield, etc... but those men do not try and depict God or any part of the Trinity in a view that is not found in Scripture. We can read those, but if any of those reading trump our understanding that we gain from Scripture then we need to toss it out. I enjoy other pastors and scholars but I always hold their teaching up to Scripture. If I read something that I just don't see lines up with Scripture I take more time to examine it, sometimes I study parallel passages, check the Greek/Hebrew, etc and realize I was wrong. In the case of The Shack, I have done that very thing and found it to be false. We can read extra-biblical sources, but they can never come above the Bible.... that was my point and it would seem from your statement that you agree there so I just wanted to clarify myself.

"I don't speak for Paul Young so don't take my message here as anything but a defense of a book that made a tremendous change in my life as it made me look at God in another way which was a God who wanted a relationship with me and all that it entails. Not for me to just blindly go through life without knowing what His will was for me through the Bible, prayer and the leading of the Holy Spirit."

I appreciate your passion and so please understand that I am in no way questioning your faith in Christ or insinuating anything like that at all. I want to be clear that I'm not trying to play the judge of your salvation. That would be a damnable offense on my part. I do want to remind you though that the Bible teaches that we need to be so very careful about what teachers we hear. Wolves that come into the flock not sparing (Acts 20:29). Though 'The Shack' may have given you a different look on God, it is a false one.

God does want a relationship with us, that's a very true statement. He doesn't want us to go blindly through life, you're correct there as well.

Brother I don't intend to come off as rude either, although I'm sure parts of my response did come off that way... I do apologize for that... it is not my heart's desire to be arrogant. For I have nothing to boast in but Christ and Him crucified.

I just want to encourage you to please exercise some discernment with this book. I know that many well-intentioned evangelicals have put this book up as a great and wonderful thing and it isn't. All-be-it is a well written book from a literary stand point, and if it were depicting any other thing I would highly recommend it. But whether Young intended for people to gain an understanding of God from this book or not, they are, and if he doesn't want that they he needs to come out public about those issues in a clear and matter of fact way. He hasn't, so he must agree.

I appreciate your taking time to email me, I wanted to be expedient in replying to you because I do not consider myself perfect or above reproach and I am open to hearing any argument.

I did email Young with a detailed list of questions. I approached him simply from the standpoint of wanting him to clarify, not attacking him at all... I didn't feel so at least. I received a reply from an assistant saying that he had received the email and a reply would be forthcoming and thanks for writing. That was 2+ years ago, my email is the same... yet no reply has come.

He isn't accountable to me so I am not offended that he didn't reply. I'm sure, given the books success, that he is a busy man. If he ever gets to the email, I'll welcome the conversation. If not, that's certainly fine. The world will still turn and we'll both still live the lives God has planed.

Again, thank you for your email and concern brother.

In Him,
j

//if I receive any further correspondence I'll put that up here as well...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

What the Gospel is NOT...

Although you may read this and think of plenty of other things that the Gospel is NOT, these were just 4 that I jotted down quickly...

1.) The Gospel is NOT a key to us having a life of success, health, money, etc… Absolutely not. I heard a guy preach the other day about how we are HD receivers made to receive God’s HD broadcast. Adam and Eve might fit that category if you want to use that cheesy illustration, but we are a broken remnant… a dim picture of what WAS, not what is. This is the reason why you want to avoid the teachings of Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, William P Young (author of 'The Shack', Joyce Meyer, TD Jakes, etc…

2.) The Gospel is NOT some story we tell that then leads us to get people to recite some magical sinner’s prayer. Let me interject here that people can be saved by praying the “sinner’s prayer”. If that’s your experience, I am not calling your salvation into question here. But that sinner’s prayer is not the Gospel, it is not in the Bible anywhere, and it doesn’t save anyone in and of itself.

3.) The Gospel is NOT merely getting someone to intellectually believe in Jesus Christ. Believing in Jesus doesn’t save you, IF you are believing in Him for the wrong things. Do you want to know why so many make a profession of faith and then later turn their backs on God altogether? Because they believed on Jesus for the wrong things…

4.) The Gospel is NOT a lifestyle. The Gospel is a particular message as noted in the previous post. It is not accurate to say that we can 'live the Gospel'. We can demonstrate and validate our faith by our works done to Glorify God. **Those works don't earn any part of salvation, Salvation is of the Lord, but our works demonstrate that a change has taken place... that we've been regenerated. The popular phrase, 'Preach the Gospel, when necessary use words.' Is ridiculous. It has been said that that would be as absurd as saying to someone 'give me your phone number, when necessary use digits.'

We need Christ for RIGHTEOUSNESS!!! Repent of your sins and trust the Savior Jesus Christ!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What the Gospel is...

I put together a list of 20 things that the Gospel is. You may be able to add some others to this that you’ve seen in Scripture, but this is my contribution to that list and I’ve tried to be as comprehensive as possible.

The Gospel IS…

1.) The call to repent and Believe on Jesus Christ – Mark 1:14-15 (NASB) - Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

2.) The call to deny self thereby saving your life – Mark 8:34-35 (NASB) - “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 35 “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.

3.) The proclamation of Christ as the ONLY way to Salvation – John 14:6 (NASB) - Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

4.) A declaration of God’s existence and Sovereignty – Acts 14:14-15 (NASB) - But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their robes and rushed out into the crowd, crying out 15 and saying, “Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.

5.) To be believed – Acts 15:7 (NASB) - After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brethren, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe.

6.) The Grace of God – Acts 20:24 (NASB) - “But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.

7.) The POWER of God unto Salvation – Romans 1:16 (NASB) - For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

8.) The revealing of God’s righteousness – Romans 1:17 (NASB) - 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.”

9.) Able to establish you – Romans 16:25-27 (NASB) - Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, 26 but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith; 27 to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen.

10.) The preaching of the Cross of Christ and in its fullness – 1 Corinthians 1:17-18 (NASB) - For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void. 18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

11.) The complete work of God alone removing our boasts in self – 1 Corinthians 9:16 (NASB) - For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.

12.) Clear – 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 (NASB) - Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,

13.) Veiled to those who are perishing – 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 (NASB) - And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

2 Peter 2:20 (NASB) - For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them. 22 It has happened to them according to the true proverb, “A dog returns to its own vomit,” and, “A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire.”

14.) Worth dying for - 2 Corinthians 4:7-5:9 (NASB) - But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; 8 we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11 For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death works in us, but life in you. 13 But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed, therefore I spoke,” we also believe, therefore we also speak, 14 knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you. 15 For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God. 16 Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. 17 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 18 while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 5:1 For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, 3 inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked. 4 For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. 5 Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge. 6 Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord— 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight— 8 we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. 9 Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.

15.) NOT to be altered. – Galatians 1:6-12 (NASB) - I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 7 which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! 10 For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ. 11 For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

16.) High and Exalted, unifying believers in one mind and one spirit – Philippians 1:27 (NASB) - Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; 28 in no way alarmed by your opponents—which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God.

17.) The Word of Truth – Colossians 1:4-6 (NASB) - We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints; 5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel 6 which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth;

18.) The only means of escaping the judgments of God on our sin and only means of forgiveness of those sins – 1 Peter 4:1-6 (NASB) - Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. 3 For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries. 4 In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you; 5 but they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For the gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead, that though they are judged in the flesh as men, they may live in the spirit according to the will of God.

19.) The divine truth of Christ, our propitiation – 1 John 2:1-2 - My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2 and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.

20.) The Gospel is Love – The most loving thing you can do for someone is to tell them of their sin, its consequences, and need for forgiveness. God could have left us here to die and go to hell and we would have deserved it! But because of His love. To demonstrate His love, He made the way through which we can be saved! – Romans 5:1-9 (NASB) - Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. 6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.

Ephesians 2:1-7 (NASB) - And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

There is a love out there, God’s love, that reveals the love of this world to be truly hateful. – Kyle Schiff

I go to this length to define the Gospel so that we begin to see how the Gospel displays all of God’s characteristics in some form or another. Which ought to bring us to praise Him. You could though sum up all of this list by saying that GOD IS THE GOSPEL!

God is the Gospel. All aspects of the Gospel, any on this list… and any you could come up with from Scripture, if sound, would ALL point back to the Glory of God!

The fact that God created us, knowing we would sin and fall, still He pours out His love for us out of His great mercy and goodness by sending Jesus Christ, His One and Only Son, who stepped out of Heaven, putting His royalty aside to live on earth and to die on the cross, absorbing the wrath of God onto Himself as our substitute, that wrath that was due to each one of us and then He rose from the grace three days later having satisfied Divine Justice and defeating death once for all those who would turn from their sins in repentance and place their trust in Him for forgiveness! For Salvation! That God would then pardon our sin our impute the righteousness of Christ to us so that we would be seen as righteous now, by the Blood of Christ and that in Heaven we will be made instantly righteous!

So it is vital that we draw some lines of Gospel Clarity and hold fast to them! (1 Thessalonians 5:21-23 (NASB) - But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; 22 abstain from every form of evil. 23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.) and defend them ferociously! (Jude 3-4 (NASB) - Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. 4 For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Question and Answer: About infant death and unreached people groups

Q: What happens to babies when they die? Also, what about remote tribes who've never heard of Jesus?

Response:

"instant heaven" - John MacArthur

In 2 Samuel 12:16-23 David, upon learning that his infant son had died, ceased his fasting and mourning and began praising the Lord. He said that mourning wouldn't bring back his child. No prayers were going to alter that and he knew that one day he would once again be with his son.

He obviously knew that God, being just, would parson his son's sins. Now, are children born sinful? sure they are... Psalm 58:3 'Even from birth the wicked go astray...' However God is just, Genesis 18:25 '...will not the Judge of all the earth deal justly.'

It means that as they grow, when given the chance to choose to sin or not. They will, as we all do, choose to sin. They are born with that sin tainted heart that is bent towards evil until God gives them a new heart.

For whatever reason, and we can't even begin to speculate on the why here... but for whatever reason God has chosen for some children to die before what is commonly referred to as the age of accountability. It is that age when we are not just able to discern between right and wrong but able to understand that our sin has offended a Holy God and His justice demands our eternal punishment.

My kids understand some right and wrong but only because we've taught them what is right and wrong. They know about God and sin, but neither are old enough to have put those two things together. The same principle would apply to someone born with a mental handicap. They may grow to an age where normally they could respond to God's call of Salvation, but because of some debilitation from birth they are never able to comprehend. God is just, loving, and merciful and to punish them would be unjust, so teaches Scripture, and so we can say with some authority and assurance that for those it is instant heaven.

The fact though that God is merciful to them should in no way exonnerate us as parents from teaching them the things of God and pointing them towards Him their whole life. Some parents have told me that they aren't worried about stressing Biblical truth to their children until they surpass the age of accountability when there will be danger for them at judgment if they die.

That is absurd for two reasons. 1.) We have no clue what age a person is able to respond. I could guess at it just based on mental understanding and such. But I have no clue. That age is probably different for everyone. God knows when He will draw them to Him and we'd be well advised not to step in and take His role on that one.

2.) If we don't show them the value of Jesus from birth, they'll be less likely to see His value later in life. It can't be some cute trite thing that doesn't matter much. It must be taught and explained from birth on through! What a privilege that we get to do that!

About those who are in some remote tribe and have never heard of Jesus? No one will go to hell because they haven't heard of Jesus Christ. The unregenerate sinner will go to hell for murder either literally or merely of the heart, rape, adultery (literal or not), lust, theft, lying, blaspheming, idolatry, etc. Sin is not failing to hear the gospel. Sin is the transgression of the law. Ephesians 2; 1 John 3:4.

Sin is the problem, Christ is the answer. Now, what about those in remote tribes who die and have never heard of Jesus or seen a Bible or anything... what about them? Well if they have never responded to their conscience and sought out the Creator (God) having turned from their sin and trusted in Christ they will go to hell. Ignorance of the law is not the same as lack of understanding.

God has revealed Himself to all of creation. Even the remotest tribes of people. Psalm 19:1 - the heavens declare the glory of God.

Also, we are all born with a conscience.

Romans 2:14-15

For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, 15 in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness, and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, (NASB)

God has programmed every individual to know that certain things are right and certain things are wrong regardless of whether the laws are put into legislation by human governments.

The existence of these moral laws points man to a Moral Lawgiver that transcends (or is over and above) human governments and man made laws.

Both testimony of creation and conscience fall under the heading of: General Revelation. General revelation refers to God's revelation that reaches

--all people

--of all times

--in every culture

All throughout the Bible Scripture teaches that if someone seeks after God then He will not hide Himself (Jeremiah 29:13). God ordains who will and will not be saved and so for those who are among those remote tribes that God has chosen to save He will draw them to Him and they will respond to the Holy Spirit's conviction on their conscience. God will do it by a dream or a vision or He'll send them a Bible or a missionary or something. But the remote nature of their location cannot negate God's ability to draw them to Him. All Creation bows before Him. If He is going to save them, He'll make a way when to us there may seem to be no way.

Now, does that excuse us from ministering to those folks? Absolutely not. It could be that we are to be the missionaries to that tribe and we are the vessel God will use to speak to them. Or our money is the money God will use to fund the Bibles sent to them and pay the workers to teach them. Or maybe God will call one of us to find such a tribe and place organize a Bible drive effort missions effort to get the Word to them in their language. Who knows... If we are truly concerned about those groups then lets pray harder for them and do something about them.

Typically, some of these tribes will respond to their conscience that there is something out there bigger than them... a god of some kind. But rather than seeking Him they build up an alter to the false god they create for their culture. You see it ALL throughout history. Typically they end up worshiping an element of nature or some fictitious being that controls nature.

If they err in that way, their first clue that they still haven't found the true God should be in the fact that they are having to climb on top of their idol that they have constructed and clean the bird droppings and other debris from it! ha

Also keep in mind that we are all descendants of Adam and then Noah after the flood... so at some point in all our ancestry the truth of God has been spoken to us. Noah was a preacher of righteousness. So they've heard... how far down the line it went before getting lost and distorted or which ancestor abandoned the faith... who knows...

God has revealed Himself in numerous ways to every man and woman who has ever lived. Those who die in their sins did not do so because they never heard... they did so because they never responded.

Hope that helps...
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