Leading the Flock Astray

I have been attending a particular church in the area on a sort of “trial basis,” because the statement of faith showed some promise as well as a couple areas of concern, but I was not certain if the areas of concern fell in the nonnegotiable zone or if there was room for discussion about them. (See my older post about this for an example of what I look for.)

The pastor never gave a straight answer, which was cause enough for concern, but I dutifully collected more data to have a better understanding of just where the problem was and if it could be addressed. It was not until after visiting a small group and listening to the sermon on Sunday that I was able to fully comprehend the problem. All the fragments of concern joined together to form a clear demonstration of the problem.

Not wanting to reach an immature conclusion (although I already had a good idea), I emailed the pastor seeking clarification on something said during the sermon. He made an obvious blunder and I wanted to make sure I understood correctly. Why rail against something that was not in fact wrong, but was a simple misunderstanding?

The email exchange showed quite a lot. This pastor was immediately defensive, did not use the Scriptures, and chose instead to attack my character as well as those of others who have opposed him recently. Not once did he provide an explanation for his position, insisting only that the Bible was clear (it wasn’t), and ended dialogue by telling me that I missed the point of the illustration (it wasn’t an illustration) and that if I’d like to learn, they’d be glad to teach me.

In other words, I was to fall in line and preemptively agree to the correctness of his position before moving forward. He is the one with all the answers and cannot be wrong and should never be challenged, however gently.

This is a perversion of the attitude a pastor should have. Yes, they are the spiritual authority and yes, they should be able to help you find the answer if they do not know it themselves, but they are also fallible. They are not and cannot be the ultimate authority.

The proper attitude of a pastor should be one of a trusted leader and guide who encourages his flock to fact-check what he says. As the pastor at my old church said (and probably still says), “Always read and know the words for yourself, because someone someday may lie to you.”

What I Seek in a Church

This is a brief list of what I look for in a church. Many of these are mandatory, others have room for negotiation. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it is a start. If you know a congregation in the area that meets all these criteria, let me know.

  • Cannot be Calvinist. It must reject the false teaching of inherited total depravity and the sinful nature, and teach the Scriptural view that people are born morally innocent and spiritually alive.
  • Must teach holiness. Perfection in love and consistent obedience are to be taught as the normal Christian experience. There is no room for the “sinning Christian” idea.
  • Additionally, there should be no mention of a second work of grace, which is absent from the Scriptures.
  • Must take a hard stance against sin and sinners in the congregation. Must be willing to engage in church discipline up to and including the point of expelling a sinning member from the congregation.
  • Divorce is not tolerated. It must recognize that God hates divorce and considers remarriage after divorce to be the same as adultery. Thus, it does not recognize second (or third, or so on) marriages.
  • Teaches a Scriptural perspective on offerings. Teachings such as storehouse tithing are rejected as false.
  • Favors expository sermons over topical.
  • The congregation is not segregated and families stay together.

On Passion Plays

This afternoon I went to see a passion play put on by a local church. I’d heard about it because a member of the church I go to had told me about it, seeing how he had a part in the play and all that. So he had dual reasons for telling me about it. Now, I’ve seen and been part of multiple passion plays over the years, put on by different churches, so I know more or less how they go and how different churches emphasize different events in Jesus’ life and especially His final week.

This could also mean I’m a little biased when it comes to them.

But I went.

And not ten minutes into it I was thinking, “Oh. My… What. On. Earth. Am. I. Seeing?”

I know plays like this are low-budget. The same goes for the bulk of other Christian performances (such as the woefully inaccurate Tribulation Trail / Judgment Journey events that pop up around October) and movies. I know not to expect a huge blockbuster performance out of them.

But come on. You’re presenting God’s truth to the lost – at least to the lost that the saved drag to these sorts of performances. Can’t you at least make it compelling and interesting, and not laughably bad? The play today was so horrendous that more than once I considered getting up and walking out in the middle of it. That really is not good. I know that as a writer and an amateur performer I can be more critical of others’ work, but that doesn’t change the fact that you’re losing at least one audience member. Do you really want to take the chance of alienating those who need to hear the gospel, but who are too busy laughing at your sorry attempts to convey the message to actually hear it? I know the message is the most important part, but if the execution is terrible…

The script today was good, by the way. It could have done without Satan’s evil laugh, because that made Satan look more like a child’s villain and less like the enemy of all of us, but aside from that it was good.

I know people are saved as a result of these events. This is undeniably a good thing, and I will not dare to suggest otherwise. But that does not mean there is no reason to change. Lest you think that the play need not change because it is leading to what God wants to do, also keep in mind that God works in our weaknesses.

And I think, a lot of the time, that is what He is doing.

But is it really so hard to come up with a good, low-budget Christian performance? I know I have seen several. These are the groups that spend weeks on end preparing and working with what they have, refining it until it is as good or better than many other plays. Even little things like keeping the performers from being anachronistic (no glasses or watches, no obvious microphones) goes a long way. You are wanting to present the gospel to many people. This is good, and admirable. But you are also choosing to do it in the form of a play. So please, make it good. You don’t want people laughing at your inability to act or keep a crown of fake thorns on your head while the Messiah is being beaten nearly to death.

Too radical?

A few weeks ago, I attended a church small group based on a recommendation from someone at another church back in Clemson. Since I was still looking for a church at the time, I decided to check it out, hoping to find like-minded believers to fellowship with. What interested me at the time was that this group was going to read through and discuss David Platt’s book Radical. Now, I have not read this book yet, although several who know me say I should, but my sister has offered to let me read her copy, so odds are in a couple weeks I’ll have the chance to read the book for myself.

So I won’t mention the contents of the book right now. It’s difficult to talk about what one has not read.
Anyway, the first week of discussion, the group leader wanted to talk about what it meant to be totally devoted to God. Yes! That is a wonderful topic of discussion, and one that Christians need to be reminded of, whether to exhort or encourage. As in any group discussion, several ideas were tossed around, such as praying and reading the Bible, or doing what God wills, or living a life of obedience to God. Sure, these might qualify as “Sunday School answers,” but they’re accurate enough. They are all good things to do. The gist of the discussion was that we needed to be devoted to God.

Most of you know me well enough to guess what I brought up rather quickly. While we’re on the topic of being radical, of encouraging one another to be totally devoted to God, why not live every day in perfect obedience to God? Perfect obedience is a product of perfect love, which will please Him. Despite our day-to-day life in this mortal body, complete with its weaknesses, why not determine to be pleasing to God at all times, and live a life that never fails?

Apparently this is a little too radical. Talk about devotion is wonderful, but once that concept is presented… well, that’s a little too devoted. We can’t do that, because we still have a flesh and blood body that has desires, and we still have our sinful nature that we’re constantly fighting against. And sometimes we will fall, although we repent immediately afterward and are restored in our relationship with God.

It’s too hard, in other words. The deck is stacked against us. Sooner or later (sooner in the eyes of most), we’re going to mess up and sin against God. It’s just part of being imperfect humans. Praise God that He does not see our failings, because He forgives us and sees Jesus instead! We are spotless in His eyes!
It sounds wonderful except for the fact that it’s totally wrong.

I am not denying that we still have a flesh that still has desires. To deny that would be to speak absurdity. What is wrong, however, is to go ahead and decide that we will always struggle against our sinful flesh.

“For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

When Paul says our old man is crucified with Him (that is Christ), he does not mean our bodies are done away with, along with all the desires that go with them. What he does mean is that our old way of life is gone. A lying habit, the desire to steal, to commit sexual sin, a proud heart… all of that and more is what used to define us, but defines us no longer. All these sins that used to hold us in bondage no longer have dominion over us.

We are finally free to tell temptation, “NO!” We are finally free to choose to obey. This is why Paul tells us to consider ourselves dead to sin. It is not that we are unable to sin (we always will be), but that this attitude no longer defines us. Whenever temptation comes our way, or our pasts try to haunt us, we can refuse them.

If we have this freedom, why squander it? Why go ahead and assume that every once in a while you will tell God that you would rather serve the world and your passions than Him? I thought we loved God. Are we going to – even occasionally – act as though we hate Him?

God forbid!

Why even entertain the thought? Let’s actually try something radical. Let’s determine to live our lives in a way that shows our love for Him, every hour of every day! Who cares if the world and the rest of the church says it’s impossible? God doesn’t tell us it’s impossible. In fact, He tells us He’ll give us everything to make it possible! Our old ways died when He made us a new creation, He has indwelt us with His Holy Spirit, and He’s already promised to provide a way of escape from temptation.

That makes it even better. We don’t have to rely on ourselves to live for Him all the time. If we did, then we probably would fail eventually, and often. But we are not asked to rely on ourselves. We are asked to rely on Him.

How about it?

95 Theses to the Evangelical Church, by Greg Gordon

A friend told me about these theses, and while I do not agree with all of them, I so fervently agree with so many that I am willing to provide them here.

From SermonIndex.net

95 Theses To The Evangelical Church
by Greg Gordon

I submit these to the evangelical church of our day and pray that God would allow anything of truth in these pages to bend and change men’s hearts back to God.” – Greg Gordon – http://www.sermonindex.net

**

“It is useless for large companies of believers to spend long hours begging God to send revival. Unless we intend to reform we may as well not pray. Unless praying men have the insight and faith to amend their whole way of life to conform to the New Testament pattern there can be no true revival.” – A.W. Tozer

**

Thesis 1 – The evangelical church at large has forgotten that the chief end of man is to glorify God.
(Romans 16:27, 1 Corinthians 6:20, Mathew 6:9).

Thesis 2 – Evangelicals ignore most of the methods, practices and principles found in Acts chapter 2.
(Acts 2:42,44, Acts 2:46, Acts 2:38).

Thesis 3 – We meet for one hour a week and consider that apostolic church. Many evangelicals treat church like any other social club or sports event that they attend.
(Acts 2:46, Hebrews 10:25, Acts 1:14).

Thesis 4 – We have made Christianity about the individual rather then a community of believers.
(1 John 2:19, 2 Timothy 4:16, Jude 19).

Thesis 5 – In evangelical churches the priesthood of all believers is not acknowledged and the role of pastor is abused. The biblical view of a plurality of elders is practiced by very few.
(1 Peter 2:9, 1 Corinthians 12:12, Ephesians 4:11-13).

Thesis 6 – The evangelical church as a whole has lost the concept of their being engrafted into the promises given to Israel.
(Romans 11:17-18,20, Romans 11:25, Romans 11:15).

Thesis 7 – There needs to be a recovery back to teaching through the whole counsel of God expositionally.
(Acts 20:27, 1 Timothy 4:6, 2 Timothy 2:15).

Thesis 8 – We take it too lightly, the blessing and honor of having God’s Scriptures in our possession.
(Psalm 119:16, Acts 13:44, Nehemiah 8:9).

Thesis 9 – There has never been more access to the word of God yet so little reading of it.
(1 Timothy 4:13, Nehemiah 8:1-3, Psalm 119:59).

Thesis 10 – Some read the Scriptures to attain knowledge and do not practice what they read.
(James 1:22, Matthew 7:21, 3 John 4).

Thesis 11 – Worship has become an idol in many churches. The music resembles the world more than anything else.
(Amos 5:23, Philippians 4:8, 1 John 5:21).

Thesis 12 – The world is shaping the views of the evangelical church more than the church shaping the views of the world.
(Romans 12:2, Matthew 5:13, 1 Corinthians 1:22-23).

Thesis 13 – The evangelical church spends more money on dog food then missions.
(2 Corinthians 9:6, Luke 21:2, Acts 4:34-35).

Thesis 14 – We take lightly the cost of discipleship laid out by Jesus Christ and consider following Him a sort of jovial thing rather then it truly costing us our actual entire lives.
(Luke 14:33, Luke 14:26-27, Matthew 8:19-20).

Thesis 15 – There is a lack of true discipleship and making others to be obedient disciples.
(Matthew 28:20, 2 Timothy 2:2, 2 Timothy 2:14).

Thesis 16 – The modern day evangelical believes the error that parts of life are to be spiritual while other parts are to be worldly and secular. Rather than our entire life’s being spiritual and our walk with God.
(1 Peter 4:2, Colossians 3:3, 1 John 2:6).

Thesis 17 – The modern day evangelical finds Jesus’ command to sacrifice and serve abhorrent.
(Philippians 2:21, James 3:16, Romans 12:1-2).

Thesis 18 – Self disciplines in the Christian life such as fasting, praying, suffering are considered legalistic.
(2 Timothy 2:21, 2 Timothy 1:8, Matthew 6:17).

Thesis 19 – Little thought and contemplation is put towards the lostness of men, the seriousness of the gospel, and the sacrifice of the call of Christ.
(Philippians 3:8, Galatians 2:20, Hebrews 10:34).

Thesis 20 – We are living with an epidemic of cheap grace in the Church. Flippant confession, shallow consecration, superficial surrender.
(Luke 14:28-30, Luke 14:26, James 4:8).

Thesis 21 – Since the inception of the Church, the Gospel of Jesus Christ was preached with the requirements of repentance and discipleship.
(Acts 2:38, Luke 14:26, John 8:31).

Thesis 22 – Presently, the “High-Calling in Christ Jesus,” has never been offered at such a low level. Forgiveness without repentance, discipleship without obedience, salvation without sanctity, confession without consecration.
(Hebrews 10:29, Hebrews 4:11, Luke 13:24).

Thesis 23 – Such terms as: Introspection, counting the cost, godly sorrow over sin, repentance from dead works, are all foreign to this church age of cheap grace.
(Acts 2:37, Psalm 119:9, Hebrews 6:1-2).

Thesis 24 – The modern evangelical church loves itself more than its neighbor.
(1 Corinthians 3:3, Galatians 5:13, Philippians 2:3).

Thesis 25 – The church must repent of its idolization of personality and business principles.
(2 Corinthians 2:17, 1 Corinthians 3:5, 1 Corinthians 12:23).

Thesis 26 – The elders and pastors of the church, as ministers of the gospel, are charged by Jesus to feed the sheep. But sadly many are fleecing the flock to supply their wants.
(John 10:12-13, 1 Peter 5:2-3, Revelation 2:15).

Thesis 27 – The qualities most in demand in today’s pastorate are frequently foreign to the qualities which are made most important in Scripture.
(1 Timothy 3:2-3, 1 Timothy 3:5, 1 Timothy 1:5-7).

Thesis 28 – The professionalization of the pastorate is a sin and needs to be repented of.
(2 Corinthians 11:13, Galatians 3:1, Galatians 2:6).

Thesis 29 – There must be repentance for the ambitious desire and idolization of the celebrity pastorate.
(3 John 9, Jeremiah 17:5, 1 Corinthians 12:22).

Thesis 30 – The evangelical pastor must trust the Spirit, not statistics.
(2 Samuel 24:1, 1 Corinthians 1:25, Romans 8:14).

Thesis 31 – Modern day prophets are being stoned by criticism and neglect.
(2 Timothy 4:3-4, Galatians 1:10, Jeremiah 1:7-8).

Thesis 32 – God’s prophets are ill treated and shunned by most evangelicals and considered too extreme or harsh.
(Jeremiah 6:10, Isaiah 6:9-10, Galatians 4:16).

Thesis 33 – An astonishing and horrible thing has been committed in the land: The prophets prophesy falsely, And the priests rule by their own power; And my people love to have it so. But what will you do in the end?
(Matthew 24:4,11-12, 1 Corinthians 1:19, Jude 8).

Thesis 34 – There are many false gospels being preached from pulpits. God has no interest and is not required to honor a gospel that is false.
(2 Corinthians 11:4, Galatians 1:8-9, Jude 16).

Thesis 35 – There is an epidemic of a sort of “mock” salvation being preached from many pulpits today. It is a gospel message that is not authentic. It is correct in doctrine but false in reality.
(2 Corinthians 3:6, 1 John 5:11-12, Romans 8:9).

Thesis 36 – What is this “mock” salvation that is being spoken of? Simply defined it is a salvation that does not make men holy.
(Jude 4, Romans 8:1, Romans 6:17-18).

Thesis 37 – No other evangelical phraseology has caused more damage to true gospel preaching then this simple coined phrase: “we are all just sinners saved by grace.”
(Ephesians 1:1, Hebrews 6:11-12, Hebrews 10:26-27).

Thesis 38 – There is a gospel message that keeps men sinners and never allows them to change and become saints in actual experience.
(1 John 2:29, Colossians 3:5-8, Titus 3:8).

Thesis 39 – The warning of Christ is against this gospel where professors of religion are forbidding people to be a part of the holy body of Christ.
(Matthew 23:13, Psalm 119:1-2, 2 Peter 1:3-4).

Thesis 40 – Preaching has become all about the happiness of man and not the glory of God.
(John 6:26, Romans 4:20, 1 Peter 4:11).

Thesis 41 – Preachers give smooth words to entice men, yet very few give any words of correction or rebuke.
(Jeremiah 6:14, Proverbs 1:23, 1 Timothy 5:20).

Thesis 42 – Run from gospels that focus on your success and prosperity. From those that use the name of Jesus Christ only for personal gain.
(John 2:16, Acts 20:33, Jeremiah 6:13).

Thesis 43 – Run from gospels that focus only on self-improvement.
(1 Timothy 6:5, Hebrews 12:14, James 4:14).

Thesis 44 – Run from churches where men and not Christ are glorified.
(Colossians 1:18, Jude 25, John 16:14).

Thesis 45 – Run from churches where there is no Bible, no cross, no searching Word, no repentance from sin, no mention of the blood of Christ.
(1 Peter 1:18-19, Ephesians 3:13, Revelation 1:5).

Thesis 46 – Run from churches where the worship leaves you cold, where there’s no sense of God’s presence.
(1 Corinthians 5:4, Psalm 80:14-15, Jeremiah 12:11).

Thesis 47 – Run from churches where you’re comfortable in your sin.
(1 Corinthians 14:25, Hebrews 10:30-31, Hebrews 4:13).

Thesis 48 – Run from churches that use the pulpit of God for a personal agenda.
(Jude 10-11, Jude 19, 3 John 9).

Thesis 49 – Run from those who preach division between races and cultures.
(James 2:4, Galatians 3:28, Revelation 5:9).

Thesis 50 – Run from ungodly, spasmodic movements and endless empty prophesying.
(Jeremiah 5:13, 1 Corinthians 14:33, 1 John 2:16).

Thesis 51 – Run from preachers who tell only stories and jokes.
(Ephesians 5:4, Titus 1:8, Titus 2:12).

Thesis 52 – Run from those that are only after money and they use one gimmick after another to get your money.
(2 Peter 2:3, 2 Corinthians 12:14, 1 Corinthians 9:18).

Thesis 53 – The phrase “accept Jesus as your personal Saviour.” Is not found in the Scriptures.
(Romans 10:9-10, Colossians 1:13, Acts 26:20).

Thesis 54 – Evidence of true conversion is something that does not seem important to modern day evangelicals.
(1 John 2:6, 1 John 4:17, Matthew 7:20).

Thesis 55 – In result thousands of sinners think of God having only one attribute, love! which has allowed multitudes to sit at ease with their sins.
(Romans 1:18, Acts 5:11, Psalm 2:12).

Thesis 56 – God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life has caused much confusion in evangelism to the lost.
(Romans 3:19, Acts 26:18, Philippians 3:18-21).

Thesis 57 – A Gospel of love and grace only without the law of God is being preached. Martin Luther called this gospel a doctrine of Satan.
(2 Timothy 4:3-4, Romans 2:4-5, Romans 3:19).

Thesis 58 – We have inherited a system of evangelistic preaching which is unbiblical. This has clearly arisen from the careless mixture of 20th century reasoning with God’s revelation.
(Colossians 2:8, Romans 1:25, Galatians 1:6).

Thesis 59 – Decisionism and the sinners prayer has been the major cause of false conversions in the evangelical church.
(2 Peter 2:1-2, Ephesians 2:4-5, 2 Corinthians 5:17-18).

Thesis 60 – Evangelicals are swelling the ranks of the deluded with a perverted gospel! Many who have made decisions in churches have been told in the inquiry rooms their sins have been forgiven will be surprised to hear “I never knew you depart from me.”
(Matthew 7:22-23, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Galatians 5:19-21).

Thesis 61 – Men have taken the place of the Holy Spirit of God in confirming men in their supposed salvation.
(1 John 2:3-5, 2 Thessalonians 1:8, Galatians 6:12-15).

Thesis 62 – The doctrine of hell and eternal suffering is something little grasped by most evangelicals.
(Matthew 13:42, James 5:1, Psalms 9:17).

Thesis 63 – The judgment seat of Christ is perhaps one of the most neglected topics in the modern evangelical pulpit.
(2 Corinthians 5:10, Romans 14:10, 1 Corinthians 3:13).

Thesis 64 – The second coming of Jesus Christ needs to be re-instated as the general thrust and burden of the church.
(1 John 3:2-3, Colossians 3:4-6, 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17).

Thesis 65 – The evangelical church has lost the fear of God and has over emphasized the love of God.
(Hebrews 12:28-29, Luke 12:5, Hebrews 10:31).

Thesis 66 – The church has left evangelism to a few trained professionals rather than simply obeying the Scriptures call to personally evangelize themselves.
(Acts 8:1,4, Acts 4:29, Romans 10:14).

Thesis 67 – Repentance is considered a one-time act in modern evangelism rather than a way of life.
(Revelation 3:19, Hebrews 12:17, 2 Peter 3:9).

Thesis 68 – The Lordship of Jesus Christ is something that is not imposed on sinners initially and creates half-saved people who have a Saviour but not a Lord.
(Acts 2:36, 1 Corinthians 12:3, Romans 6:18).

Thesis 69 – We are not open to correction, discipline or rebuke. And most would rather just move to another evangelical church somewhere down the road.
(1 Corinthians 5:5, 1 Corinthians 11:31-32, Hebrews 12:7-9).

Thesis 70 – There is a great deal of preaching that amounts to a mere believing of the different theories about salvation, instead of persuading men to come to Christ and be saved.
(John 5:40, Colossians 1:28, 2 Corinthians 4:5).

Thesis 71 – There has been a loss of the fullness and majesty of the gospel.
(1 Timothy 1:11, Jude 25, Romans 15:29).

Thesis 72 – There is little mention of sin or the depravity of man from evangelical pulpits.
(John 3:20, Galatians 5:19-21, Ephesians 5:5).

Thesis 73 – Covetousness, consumerism, and coddling the world’s goods is something that does not appear wrong to evangelicals.
(Jeremiah 22:17, 1 John 2:15-16, 1 Timothy 3:3).

Thesis 74 – Little is made of the resurrection of Jesus Christ in churches or in evangelism. Yet it was one of the major themes and glories of the apostolic church.
(1 Corinthians 15:14-15, Acts 4:10, Acts 4:33).

Thesis 75 – The evangelical church has relied more on technology then God.
(Zechariah 4:6, 1 Corinthians 1:21, 1 Corinthians 2:4).

Thesis 76 – The prayer meeting is considered in the evangelical church one of the least important meetings. The idea of meeting for an entire day together seems ridiculous and a waste of time.
(1 Timothy 2:1, Acts 4:31, Philippians 4:6).

Thesis 77 – Pastors have never prayed less than they do in the evangelical church in our day.
(Jeremiah 10:21, Philippians 2:21, Ephesians 6:18-19).

Thesis 78 – Very few are waiting on God for His direction and purpose for the church.
(Ephesians 1:11, Psalm 37:7, Isaiah 40:31).

Thesis 79 – The evangelical church has many organizers but few agonizers.
(Philippians 3:18-19, Romans 9:1-3, Jeremiah 9:1).

Thesis 80 – We need to have the gifts of the Spirit restored again to the Church. The one gift we need the most is the gift of prophecy.
(2 Timothy 4:2, 1 Corinthians 14:39, 1 Corinthians 12:31).

Thesis 81 – The evangelical church at large has never been more frivolous about the things of God. A serious, sober, self-controlled Christianity is very seldom found or preached.
(2 Peter 3: 11, 1 Peter 4:7, Jude 3).

Thesis 82 – The evangelical church at large has forgotten how to pray.
(1 John 3:22, Acts 6:4, 1 Thessalonians 5:17).

Thesis 83 – Churches are more dependent on tradition rather than on the leading of the Holy Spirit.
(Mark 7:13, Acts 16:6, Acts 13:2).

Thesis 84 – It might seem strange to say that ministers of religion are “pleading for impurity and sin.” Yet this is exactly what multitudes of professors preach and teach that you cannot be free from sin. That you must sin!
(Romans 16:18, Romans 6:1-2, 2 Peter 2:1).

Thesis 85 – The Apostles and Christ always preached from the vantage point of the possibility to walk holy and free from sin.
(Titus 2:11-12, 1 Peter 1:14-16, Romans 6:19).

Thesis 86 – Sinners are not saved to sin but rather saved to holiness and good works.
(Romans 6:13, Ephesians 2:10, 2 Peter 3:14).

Thesis 87 – Cheap grace means the justification of sin without the justification of the sinner. Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of the church.
(2 Timothy 2:19, 1 Peter 4:17-18, 2 Timothy 3:12).

Thesis 88 – A baptism of holiness, a demonstration of godly living is the crying need of our day.
(1 Timothy 6:3, 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 2 Thessalonians 2:13).

Thesis 89 – Most in the Church are utterly confused about the practical godliness, obedience, and good works which the Scriptures readily mentions.
(Titus 3:8, John 10:32, Revelation 3:15).

Thesis 90 – Little or no emphasis is put in evangelical churches on the plan of God to make us like Jesus Christ, conforming us to His image.
(1 Peter 1:14-16, 1 John 2:6, 1 Peter 4:1).

Thesis 91 – Christ did not die on the cross to obtain a worldly Church or for worldly Saints but for a “glorious Church.”
(Ephesians 5:27, Titus 2:14, Colossians 4:12).

Thesis 92 – Christ does not come into our unregenerate, sickly, impure hearts as many contemporary theologians say. He gives us a new heart to dwell in wherein is found holiness and righteousness.
(2 Corinthians 5:17, Matthew 5:8, Ezekiel 18:31).

Thesis 93 – A holy Church is God’s blessing to the world; an unholy Church is God’s judgment upon the world.
(Matthew 5:14,16, Ephesians 4:1, 1 Thessalonians 2:12).

Thesis 94 – If Christianity is to make any headway in the present time, it must be proved to be more then a theory.
(2 Thessalonians 3:6-7, 1 Thessalonians 4:1, 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12).

Thesis 95 – Unbelief has us captive; the evangelical church is gagged and bound as risen Lazarus, it needs release in this final hour!
(Hebrews 3:12-14, 1 Corinthians 3:21-23, Hebrews 11:6).

Peace on Earth?

Because from the least of them even to the greatest of them,
Everyone is given to covetousness;
And from the prophet even to the priest,
Everyone deals falsely.
They have also healed the hurt of My people slightly,
Saying, ‘Peace, peace!’
When there is no peace.
Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination?
No! They were not at all ashamed;
Nor did they know how to blush.
Therefore they shall fall among those who fall;
At the time I punish them,
They shall be cast down,” says the LORD.

Thus God spoke through Jeremiah to a rebellious Judah, what was left of the tribes of Israel. By this point in Judah’s history, they had experienced revival through Hezekiah and Josiah; however, the reforms did not penetrate the souls of the people. Instead, they covered the surface and ignored the deeper problem: a heart in rebellion against God.

But what was true then rings just as painfully true in these modern times. The Church, commanded by God to be a light in the world, has allowed itself to sink into darkness and chains. No more do they claim the victory over sin in their lives, though they may speak of it. No more do they blaze with the light of love and truth to a world lost to lies and self-centered indulgence. No more are they representatives of Christ in a dying world. Instead, they flaunt the cold ashes of defeat while living in a never-ending cycle of sin and despair. The love of the Church has faded into nothingness. It is not a powerful force to change the hearts of man, it is a petty institution derided by the world.

Instead of listening to the few who bleed to see the Church restored to God, they choose instructors who tickle their ears with comforting words of failure. Don’t be upset when you sin, they tell the prisoners who lap up their every word. Everyone does it, even me. All you have to do is tell God you’re sorry. He loves you and He wants to forgive you. And when you mess up again (because we all will), God will be waiting for you to run into His arms again. They proclaim peace and life, but the fruit is turmoil and eternal death.

This is the lie that has been fed to the Church, and the lie that the Church now widely accepts as the gospel truth. The lie is all the more insidious because it contains some elements of the truth. God does want mankind to repent, and He forgives all who come to Him with a contrite heart. But the lie propagates the false doctrine that a Christian can never hope to escape from the shackles of sin and failure in this life.

After an idea steeps for a while, its effects begin to show. After listening to a socially acceptable gospel that tells them they will sin for the rest of their lives, multitudes of professing believers will sin. And they will not be bothered. They are not ashamed. Why should they be, if the blood of Christ covers them, and God only sees Jesus and not the sins of His followers? They go to church on Sunday morning and commit idolatry on Monday, confident in their false hopes. Is God blind? For millions, the answer is a resounding, “Yes.” They have become like the harlot Israel. They have forgotten how to blush.

When you look at it too long, the picture could start to look hopeless. The world drowns in sin, and the Church called to proclaim the way out of it has instead joined the death march. Yes, we weep, we cry out to God. But we, the followers of Christ, must not give in to despair.

Two millennia ago, God Himself took the form of a man and came to dwell with His rebellious creation, wanting to rescue them and bring them into His family. He did this by humbling Himself, being born to the lowliest of estates in an unflattering location. He lived among His people and suffered and died at their hands, and three days later He resurrected Himself from the dead. All those who believe in Him will not perish.

We must proclaim this wonderful news. We must be a light in the darkness, showing the way to the lost. Let our lives glorify God every second of every day, and may our hearts burn with passion to reach the lost. Though the world opposes us and tries to shut us down, they will never be able to silence the truth that rings across the land.

Praise be to God.

Untitled Poem

This poem was written a few weeks ago, but it wasn’t until another poem was written and the two were consolidated that it was presentable. It’s not titled yet, so I’ll welcome any suggestions.

They dwell in shadow, gloom and dusk,
Find shelter in the night,
And burrow in the deepest pits,
Embracing darkness, shunning light.

While dressed in soiled robes they sing,
Ignoring scarlet stains.
Deceived by demons’ soothing words
They do not see their iron chains.

These squatters in the house of God
Have learned the phrase to sell.
With poisoned words they tickle ears
And coax the seekers into hell.

“God will forgive,” the oft-used cry
Recited by each man.
“I know I stumble, but I try!
God loves me just the way I am.”

“I’m covered by His blood,” they say,
But will God hide His face
From wicked deeds of faithless men?
Will He spare “sinners saved by grace”?

The Lord in Heaven sends His saints
To walk upon the earth
Instructing them to light the way
Escaping darkness, a new birth.

Declaring holiness they come,
“Repent!” is their decree.
The sinners screech, prepare to fight
A battle ‘twixt the slave and free.

“You heretic!” The rally cry.
“Liar! Fraud! Apostate!”
The saints stand firm, their Lord protects
From cornered sinners’ deeds of hate.

We will press on; the time is short,
Unless the Lord delay
And choose to rescue one last soul
Before that blessed eternal Day.