Thursday, March 31, 2011

Never lose hope!

I want to write to all those who have prayed for your unbelieving family members, friends, and acquaintances and yet it seems to have been to no avail because that person has still not repented and trusted in Christ.  I want to share with you a story of a mother in our church.  Her name is Jannette.  Jannette was raised Jewish and had been a practicing Jew until 20 years ago when God graciously saved her and her husband Ray. 

Since coming to Christ, Jannette and Ray have prayed for Jannette's daughter Gaye, (Ray's step-daughter), that God would save her as well.  After God saved Jannette, Gaye had become somewhat disillusioned and confused.  Her mother had now abandoned the Jewish practices that she had once held dear and Gaye did not understand how such a change could happen so quickly.  It would be fair to say that she even held a certain amount of anger about the whole situation.  In any case, she remained a Jew in belief and stopped practicing.

For 20 years Jannette has prayed and pleaded with God to save Gaye.  She has shared the Gospel innumerable times with her in hopes that she would be broken over her sin and cling to Christ.  Twenty years of trying, twenty years with no results.

Two months ago, Gaye came to see me in my office.  She was asking questions about Christ.  Coming from a Jewish background, whom she had been taught Christ was is not who the Bible teaches Him to be.  So I answered them as best I could and after we'd finished talking she left and I gave her a couple of materials to look over. 

I  heard nothing for 2 months.  She called me yesterday and told me that the previous night (Tuesday), as she sat in her apartment thinking about what I'd shared with her.  Considering the Law and how that is God's standard and how we've broken it.  And then also the good news of the Gospel.  

She said that God finally brought her to the end of herself and that she had confessed her sin to Him and begged God to forgive her!  She had trusted in Jesus Christ and as she shared with me about it through the tears she spoke of a joy unexplainable that she now had and how she could tell that a burden had been lifted from her. 

I'm choking back tears myself even recounting the story.  A couple of things I want to share with you, brethren, to encourage you in your witnessing be it to family, friends, or strangers.

1.) Don't be discouraged!  God is still God!  He does things in His own time according to His own will and in His own way!  Your job is NOT to convert someone, it's to share the Gospel.  The power of God converts sinful souls.  Your job is to faithfully proclaim it.

2.) The lack of response from the person you witness to does not necessarily mean that you've failed or that you are unsuccessful.  Gaye had been prayed for by many many people for many many years before God broke her heart and saved her. 

3.) No matter how hard someone's heart may appear to be to us, no one can sin so far that they are outside the saving reach of God's grace.  Ours is not to determine who we think 'might' or 'might not' be saved one day, ours is to simply trust the One who gave us the message that we proclaim.

Keep praying for the lost, keep seeking them out, and keep sharing the whole Gospel with them!  And trust that God will do what is good and right.  You may never know the impact you have on others.  Then again, God may grant you the unique blessing of being used by Him to bring someone to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Soli Deo Gloria,
j

Monday, March 28, 2011

Family Bookshelf: The Priest with Dirty Clothes by R.C Sproul

Just finished reading this one with my children.  I found it absolutely fantastic!  It is a great explanation of the transaction that takes place at salvation where we receive Christ's imputed righteousness and He takes our sin.  It puts it in terms that children can understand.  At the end of the book it has several study questions for parents to discuss the book with the kids to help them see the truths of the Gospel and what Christ has done for us.  I read it to my 5 & 4 year old.  It was just a little too long to maintain my four year old's attention the entire time but he enjoyed it nonetheless.

Read as always with your Bible open.  In fact, the great thing about this book.  In the study section it outlines how to transition from talking to your children about the story to moving on the more important facts of the Gospel so that you raise your children in the truths of the Lord.  You can pick this book up from Ligonier.org.


** Please note that I received a review copy of this book from Reformation Trust but was in no way obligated to give a favorable review, just a fair one.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Pastor's Bookshelf: By Grace Alone: How the Grace of God Amazes Me by Sinclair Ferguson

We sing about it.  We recite it.  We are saved by it alone.  We know it.  But how often do we take it for granted?  I'm speaking of course about God's Grace.  A foundational and wonderful truth about the One True God of this world is that He has elected to make known His grace to us... us... unworthy sinful fallen people.  God owes us no mercy, no grace... no salvation; nothing but wrath and justice.  Yet by His grace we are saved through faith in Jesus Christ, God's Son.

Sinclair Ferguson takes you to the Bible to bring out what Scripture reveals about God's grace.  How amazing God's grace is in salvation and every day life.  How God's grace upholds the salvation of all believers and how God's grace is truly all sufficient. 

From beginning to end I loved this book.  It seemed to begin a bit slow, but by chapter two I was enthralled.  I know personally that I tend to take God's Grace for granted in my life.  Lord forgive me for ever presuming upon or forgetting the power of your grace extended to me through your Son, Jesus Christ.  If you don't own this, order it now.  You can pick it up at Ligonier.org or from Amazon.com.

Two of my favorite quotes from the book:  "No therapist, no psychiatrist can relieve you of guilt.  He or she may help you to resolve feelings of false guilt that can arise for a variety of reasons.  Prescription drugs may provide certain kinds of ease.  But no therapy, no course of drugs, can deliver you from real guilt.  Why?  Because being guilty is not a medical condition or a chemical disorder.  It is a spiritual reality.  It concerns your standing before God.  The psychiatrist cannot forgive you; the therapist cannot absolve you; the counselor cannot pardon you.  But the message of the Gospel is this: God can forgive you, and He is willing to do so." (pg. 57)

" Until we acknowledge our sin and guilt, we will never come to discover that it can be forgiven.  But when we do, actual forgiveness begins to give rise to an awareness of forgiveness psychologically, spiritually, mentally, inwardly.  With that comes an increasing sense that the bondage of guilt has been broken.  At last, we are set free.  Wonder of wonders, we discover that at the very heart of the Gospel is this fact:  God has taken our guilt upon Himself in His Son Jesus Christ." (pg. 58)


**I received a free copy of this book from Reformation Trust Publishing for review; but was in no way obligated to give a positive review.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Rob Bell's new book & Voddie's a bigot?

Well this week has had no shortage of interesting news in the realm of Christendom.  Rob Bell, the emergent Pastor from Grand Rapids, Michigan, released a video promoting his book.  Voddie Baucham spoke at the 2011 National Religious Broadcasters on Saturday and apparently came out as a bigot... Let's begin with Rob Bell.

For starters, I'm really not sure why the conservative circles of evangelical Christianity are so shocked about Rob's book.  The title of the book is "Love Wins: Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived".  The main message of the book, according to reports, is that a loving God would never truly send anyone to Hell.  So in essence, if reports are accurate, Rob is placing himself into the category of a universalist.  A universalist is someone who believes that no matter who you are or what you believe, ultimately you are going to Heaven.  Whether you call on God through the Biblical Christ or not.  Eyebrows raised?  They should be, that folks is another gospel (Gal 1:6-10).  That folks, is heresy.  

As I said, I'm not certain at all why people are shocked, nor do I feel that we have to wait for this book's release to begin warning Christians about the dangers of Rob Bell's teachings.  This teaching of universalism is nothing new.  Rob has long taught this exact same thing at his church and eluded to it through many other writings and the infamous Nooma Videos.

Here is just a small example from Rob's past false teachings. 
From the book Velvet Elvis:
"Heaven is full of forgiven people." // Good statement!
"Hell is full of forgiven people." // WHAT?

"Heaven is full of people God loves, whom Jesus died for." //Biblical Truth
"Hell is full of forgiven people God loves, whom Jesus died for." //WHAT? 

"The difference is how we choose to live, which story we choose to live in, which version of reality we trust. Ours or God’s." 

So there you have it, everyone is forgiven! All you have to do to go to heaven is live in God’s story (whatever that means). This is a gross misrepresentation of the gospel, and must not go unrecognized.  Rob Bell’s theology doesn’t merely come short of the whole gospel. Rather, it twists and distorts the biblical gospel into a strange universalism in which everyone is forgiven, yet not all realize this forgiveness, and therefore spend eternity in hell. Rob Bell is preaching a gospel which is contrary to that of the Bible. If you’re curious as to what the Bible says about such false teaching, check out Galatians 1:6-9.

Paul’s anathema to those who would distort the Gospel was a serious statement. In plain terms, he said, let them be damned to hell for it. In other words, there may be areas inside of Christendom in which we can agree to disagree. Now ultimately there is only one truth on every subject, that’s just logical. But there are things we cannot come to an absolute conclusion about and that’s ok. The Gospel message isn’t one of those areas. Bell is a Universalist, meaning everyone, to him, is going to heaven…

He has recently invited fellow heretics like Phyllis Tickle to come speak at his church and by allowing her to speak and then not refuting the heresy she spewed, he offered her an endorsement..

In one of his latest videos Rob states that “you are the gospel”. Not God is the Gospel, Jesus is the Gospel, but “you” as in you and me are the gospel… that’s just heresy served in a big stinking dish piping hot. That alone is enough to make me tune him out and listen to nothing else he says because anything else he says will be ultimately stained with his view on salvation. **that would be Nooma 15 – You

In reality, the Bible says the Gospel message is that we are sinners, condemned and unclean, and we must repent of those sins and place our trust in Jesus Christ! (Mark 1:15; Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23)

 I am not shocked that Rob Bell's newest book is only more of the same dribble we've come to expect from him.  I am shocked by two things.

1.) I am shocked that we have not yet labeled Bell a heretic.  It is merited folks.  He has crossed the line from erring teacher to apostate teacher to flat out wolf in sheep's clothing.  Of course his mild demeanor and "love love" type of persona will get a discerning Christian who calls him out labeled as mean and cruel or my favorite label "brother basher".  My heart breaks for Rob Bell.  I do not hate the man.  I would rejoice if I heard that today he repented and trusted in Christ.  If he can teach universalism and other bad teachings, then he is obviously not saved.  Call me names if you like, but let's just be honest here.  This is not a small matter, this is a matter over the purity of the Gospel that we are to defend. (Jude 3).

2.) I am shocked (and at the same time not so shocked) that there is more outcry against those speaking out against Bell rather than supporting a call for him to repent. (2 Timothy 4:3)

In other news, Pastor Voddie Baucham spoke at the 2011 National Religious Broadcasters on Saturday where he charged Christian Radio broadcasters to be bold in their stance for the truth.  To not be ashamed to speak the truth and stand on the authority of the Word of God.  One matter, amongst others, in which he spoke of was the homosexual marriage issue.  Many family friendly radio stations, so-called, Christian stations, have tip toed around this issue and took an ambiguous stance rather than a firm one...  

The quote that is being passed around by the LGBT propaganda machine is as follows:

“The reason is the homosexuals have effectively co-opted blackness…to where now, we actually believe gay is the new black and we actually believe homosexual marriage is a civil rights issue,” he explained.  “I’m insulted that people equate not just a sinful behavior but a behavior that’s a special category of sin called abomination with the level of melanin in my skin,” he said.

The straw man argument being used against Pastor Bauchum is that he wants Christian radio broadcasters to "bash" homosexuals.  Which is highly false and completely untrue.  He never called the broadcasters to bash on anyone but merely to proclaim the truth, but we do live in a pluralistic society where "Tolerance*" is printed in bold letters on the banner.  Check the bottom and notice the small print on the banner: "*We expect you to tolerate our views and we will tolerate yours, but only if you agree with us.  If you disagree we will not tolerate it but rather label you and slander you in the media with all sorts of strawmen arguments."

First, making a comparison that "gay is the new black" is insulting and ridiculous to the black ethnicity... Another interesting point to me also is that in the other arena of discussion, over abortion being ...murder and such, the pro-choice pro-murder crowd rather, gets offended when the conservative circles talk about the staggering facts that more "black" babies are killed every year than any other ethnicity. But when that is talked about, they say 'don't bring race into that argument' which 1.) there is only one race and 2.) it isn't bringing up ethnicity, just stating facts.. but now that playing a 'race card' serves their purpose, they can... the old adage 'do as I say and not as I do' seems to be their hidden motto.

That said, I cannot fathom how an issue over marriage rights for homosexuals, which is NOT a civil rights issue but rather a Biblical one, can be anywhere remotely compared to the atrocities of bigotry committed against Black Americans over the years. 

Some have criticized Bauchum, from within Christendom, over his comments.
" My only thought is does any of this rhetoric and discussion about things like this help people find God for the first time? Nope.. The more hate Christians show the more people don't want to be a part of us."

To that I will simply say that one of the first things Jesus did in His ministry was issue the command from God for people to repent and believe. (Mark 1:15). I am a bit confused at your comment so maybe you can help me truly get where you are coming from. How ar...e we supposed to bring a spiritually dead person closer to God? I can't say anything to them to bring them closer to God or prepare their heart for His truth... Only God can do that. I can do what the Bible says however and that is use the Law of God as that schoolmaster to lead us to Christ (Galatians 3:24). Paul said he would have known sin but by the Law (Romans 7:7). So if a lost person is dead in their sin and an enemy of God through wicked works then the only way to bring them to God is by showing them their need for God and what God has done for them in Christ... 

I think the basic message is "Tolerate me, but don't expect me to tolerate you one bit". The real message isn't of tolerance but rather agree with me or else.  *Deep sigh* Pray for Rob Bell, he needs Christ.  Pray for the practicing homosexual...(Romans 9:1-3) they need Jesus too and your sins are no less grievous to God than theirs Christian so don't think yourself more highly than you ought (Romans 12:1-3). 
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