Belonging Before Believing?

“Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” – Acts 2:46-47

I’m asking a question. An article I read this morning in a popular outreach website didn’t ask the question, but made it a statement and seemed to be promoting a ‘church’ called “Inversion Community Church” As the article explained the church challenges “this idea that you have to believe before you belong,” he (the Pastor) says. “You can actually belong before you believe. That’s what we’re doing.”

I visited the website and Facebook page of the church to learn more about it, but I’m intentionally not going there in this post. If you are interested, you can easily find both from the source article link at the bottom of this post.I’m just asking questions. What it really comes down to is the definition of a ‘church.

“The word “church” comes from the Greek word ekklesia which is defined as “an assembly” or “called-out ones.” The root meaning of “church” is not that of a building, but of people. It is ironic that when you ask people what church they attend, they usually identify a building. Romans 16:5 says “… greet the church that is in their house.” Paul refers to the church in their house—not a church building, but a body of believers.” (GotQuestions.org). Other good sources also define church the same way, focusing on the fact that the church is not a ‘building’ but a ‘’body of believers.

While it might be permitted to belong to an organization calling itself a church, is it possible to ‘belong’ to the body of ‘called-out believers’ if one has not yet believed? It sounds like a ridiculous question, does it not? The terms ‘counterintuitive’ and ‘oxymoron’ come to mind.

So WHY even consider such a concept as ‘belonging before believing’, much less advertise it?  I can think of some reasons, but since they don’t speak well of the idea at all, I’ll keep my big mouth shut. Like I said, I’m just asking the question. I hope others would also consider the question and if necessary.

The last question I have is of the hypothetical variety. IF the idea of belonging to the church before believing isn’t biblical sound, or contradicts the NT definition of ‘church’, what should be our response? My immediate response after reading the article this morning was to ask a few questions via a blog post to get us thinking and maybe searching the scriptures. Perhaps that’s enough for the time being. J

I’d love to hear others’ thoughts concerning the ‘belonging before believing’ paradigm! Do I need a sanity check?

The Gospel Mandate

“Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”” – Mark 1:14-15 (Emphasis mine)

According to any good dictionary the word ‘mandate’ is defined as an official order or commission to do something. We are told in the Gospel of Mark that after Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, and after John was arrested, Jesus entered Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God. We are even given the words of Jesus’ initial proclamation:

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Here we have Jesus saying at the beginning of his earthly ministry “repent and believe in the gospel”. Since Jesus said it, let’s agree that it’s ‘official’. Since Jesus is telling listeners to ‘do’ something, let’s agree that what we have is an ‘order.  Therefore, the gospel mandate is simply to repent and believe it. That’s it.

Interestingly, and perhaps sadly, most of today’s evangelism no longer follows Jesus’ simple mandate, but we have substituted all sorts of other ‘methods’. We have hand raisings (with all eyes closed of course) an altar calls. Have you ever wondered why everyone is asked to close their eyes but everyone is watching and applauding folks heading toward the altar?

To spark their interest in Jesus we tell people that God loves them and has a wonderful plan for them. Cool! Well, I love me to and have a wonderful plan too! God and I are on the same page!

Since God has such wonderful plans for folks, we ask them if they wouldn’t like to ‘ask Jesus into their heart’ or we ask them to just ‘give their heart to Jesus’. Those two seem to get great results at any Christian kids’ camp or VBS.  For older types who might be more thoughtful about the whole thing, we tell them that Jesus is ‘knocking at the door of their heart”, pleading to get in and the only doorknob is on their side, Never mind that the passage in question has Jesus knocking on the door of the church.

We might even pull out our little cards or Bibles and walk them through the Romans Road, ask for a simple ‘decision’ (and perhaps a signature in the little Bible), and pronounce them ‘saved’ when a decision is made and a dated signature properly inserted.

No matter what method we use, and we use them all, we hardly ever use the simple ‘mandate’ that Jesus used. We never begin where Jesus began. Why do you think that is? Is it because the word ‘repent’ is outdated and politically incorrect? After all, it might make someone feel bad. Are we hesitant about telling people to ‘believe the gospel’ because we are uncomfortable explaining it, or because we ourselves don’t know or aren’t sure what it is?  ,

Whatever the reason(s), we needn’t be afraid of just proclaiming what Jesus proclaimed. After all aren’t we fond of the expression “What would Jesus do?” Although I can think of occasions when WWJD becomes rather cliché, this isn’t one of them. At the same time, we need only remember that God saves his sheep and we can’t/don’t ‘help’ God save anyone. Remember Jonah and what he proclaimed after having been tossed into the sea, after being swallowed by a great fish and being barfed onto the beach?

“…with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the LORD!”  – Jonah 2:9 (Emphasis mine)

Our mission isn’t to obtain ‘decisions for Jesus’, it’s to be faithful in prayerfully presenting the gospel. Our prayer is that God will open hearts to hear and the gospel is that Christ died for our sins. There is great encouragement in knowing that all I have to do is be able to discuss what it means to repent and believe. And if I have faced my own sin head on and believed in the One who took my place on Calvary, it’s not a hard thing to do.

A wise man once said:

“Long ago I ceased to count heads. Truth is usually in the minority in this evil world. I have faith in the Lord Jesus for myself, a faith burned into me as a hot iron. I thank God, what I believe I shall believe, even if I believe it alone.” C.H Spurgeon, October 16th, 1887

Will Science Destroy ‘Purpose Driven’ Theology?

Given the vast popularity of Purpose Driven theology in Protestant evangelicalism, along with its worldwide impact on Christendom the above question might seem quite nonsensical. After all, you can walk into the vast majority of evangelical churches not only in the U.S. but across the globe and hear all about how the Christian life is all about finding the special purpose God has for your life. As ‘Christ followers’ we are never to consider the possibility that God intends us to live our lives as ordinary people in ordinary circumstances as salt and light among the sea of ordinary people that are on a fast to the Hot Zone apart from Christ.

The discovery that Christianity isn’t really about God, but all about us (although the book that started the phenomena told us it’s NOT about us on page 1) has been very lucrative over the last dozen or so years for the chubby West Coast Pastor who started the revolutionary new theology, and has also given rise to a host of like-minded pastors who entertain their audiences on a weekly basis with promises of worldly success in every area of their lives. And if a weekly dose of ear scratching isn’t enough, there are books by the score available in every form imaginable to fill in the gaps.

Well my friends, the need for the everyday Christian to spend the rest of his/her life looking for, discovering, and living out his/her special purpose will soon be relegated to the dustbin of evangelical history! Due to a recently announced scientific breakthrough by a certain shiny toothed and immaculately coifed Houston Pastor all the work involved in finding one’s purpose is really not necessary! It’s true! I heard the sermon! Are you ready? Think ‘genetics’.

That’s right, genetics! It seems that something that has escaped the best scientific minds on the planet has been revealed not to a scientist, but to a humble pastor in Houston, Texas! What he discovered is that all of us are born with very specific ‘destiny genes’ as part of our DNA! These genes operate in a similar manner as the genes that cause male baldness, that lie dormant for years and at a preprogrammed time are activated, causing men to lose their hair! Just like ‘baldness’ genes, we are all born with ‘destiny’ genes, that are also preprogrammed (by God) to activate at predetermined times and resulting in the fulfillment of our God given destinies! It’s in the Bible!

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”— 1 Corinthians 2:9

We might not know exactly what our specific destiny is, but God has prepared (encoded in our genes) something great and wonderful! So what does this discovery look like in our lives? How are we to respond to this great discovery? I’m not a geneticist so I don’t have all the answers. On the other hand you can be sure that we no longer have to work at discovering our destiny; God has already planted it in our genes! All we need do is wait for it! In fact, the labor involved in finding our special purpose in life might actually be counterproductive! If we go destiny hunting on our own, we could end up in the wrong job, married to the wrong person, living in the wrong neighborhood, you name it!

It’s anybody’s guess how long it will take for ‘destiny gene’ science to relegate ‘purpose driven’ theology to the dustbin of history, but mark my words – it will happen. The word will spread, and spread quickly. The initial announcement of this world shattering scientific discovery was made to a packed auditorium of upwards of 15,000 people, and considering the millions of people who watch and/or listen to every syllable uttered by this ‘church’s’ leader, the certain demise of an outdated theology might be sooner than one might think!

Index to Veritas Domain’s Marathon Series on the Christian Response to Homosexuality

Can You Be Gay and Christian? Video of Dr. Michael Brown debate with Matthew Vines

Originally posted on The Domain for Truth:

julie-roys-gay-debate

On Saturday, June 28, 2014 Moody Radio’s “Up For Debate” hosted a debate between Evangelical apologist Dr. Michael Brown and gay apologist Matthew Vines concerning the topic “Can you be Gay and Christian?”  Julie Roys hosted the radio debate.  It was a 42 minutes discussion.

There is a Youtube video format available of that debate which can be seen below.

Enjoy!

View original

"Not One Iote or One Title…":A Plea for Original Spelling by John Bookman

Just days ago, I realized that we have not gone far enough in insisting that the Bible be preserved unchanged “in the form God intended for us to have.” Of course, I speak of the infallible, inerrant, verbally-inspired and unalterably preserved English Bible, the Authorized Version (AV 1611), “the Bible God uses and Satan hates.” Sure, there are lots of zealous defenders who have shielded it from the corruptions of such heinous translations as the NIV, the NASB and that most sinister NKJB, and have kept us from returning to the now-completely-unnecessary Hebrew and Greek. But while they kept their watch on one front, the Enemy has come in unawares by another route and sown seeds of corruption that have, I fear, already yielded a corrupt harvest.

What am I getting at? Simply this: we have insisted on the verbal inspiration of the English, that is, that the very English words were divinely chosen and given to the Learned Men. But simply insisting on the perfection of the English words and preserving the words is not enough. A careful consideration of the true intent and meaning of the words of Matthew 5:18 is necessary: “Till heauen and earth passe, one iote or one title, shall in no wise passe from the law, till all be fulfilled.” (I have made no mistake in my spelling, as I shall shortly explain). Notice how Jesus insisted on the verbal inspiration, not just of the words, but also of the very letters of the words of Scripture. And since this verse is a specific promise of the preservation of Scripture in our infallible English Bible, we must insist on following, not just the original KJV words but also their very spelling. What other meaning can we draw out of the words “one iote or one title”? Every letter–the very spelling–is certainly inspired, and to alter the spelling of a single word, to alter even a single letter in a single word, is to deny and reject the inspiration of the AV 1611. If God had wanted us to spell the words in the AV 1611 different in our Bibles, He would have given them to us in that form originally. Modern spelling is as hideous and hateful a thing as modern translations. Its new age corruption, pure and simple. No one was ever authorized to corrupt, to “modernize” the infallible original spelling. There are eight spelling corruptions in John 3:16 alone!!!

I’m sure some “liberal” soul will say, “What difference does spelling make?” Argue it out with Jesus, brother! Didn’t He say that inspiration of the words included the very spelling, every iote, not just the words? Will you reject the teaching of Matthew 5:18 of letter/spelling inspiration of our preserved AV 1611? To stop at “word inspiration” and not insist on spelling inspiration is to be second cousin to mere “thought inspiration.” It is creeping apostasy, through and through. Next someone will deny the inspiration of the chapter and verse numberings in the AV 1611. Where will it stop?

And I think we must recognize that Jesus’ infallible English word was “title” and not the now-corrupted “tittle.” A tittle is part of the ornamentation of a Hebrew letter (at least that’s what I’ve heard at Fellowship meetings, so I have assurance that it’s right). But a title is something else. I have complete confidence that this promise of Jesus was a specific reference to the preservation of the chapter and page headings, the titles found in the original AV 1611. Sadly, those infallible titles, attached by the Learned Men under divine inspiration at the top of each page and at the beginning of each chapter have been removed from our modern editions. Without them, we cannot claim that we have a perfectly preserved Bible, and by allowing them to be removed, we have called God a liar, and denied that He is able to preserve the inspired English Bible He has given us.

It is no secret that none of the commonly used English Bibles published in our day have the original AV 1611 spelling, or punctuation (that, too, is part of our directly inspired, infallible English Bible) or titles of which Jesus spoke, so in reality, these Bibles, even though they say “King James Version” or “Authorized Version” are really not Bibles at all. Only the Nelson reprint of the original 1611 AV is a real Bible; all the others are sinister corruptions.

And there is growing upon me the deep conviction, as deep as anything I’ve written in this article, that no English-speaking person can be saved if he was not saved by an original, unaltered AV 1611, with original spelling, original punctuation, and original chapter and page titles. This simply means that anyone who thought he was saved by reading a revised “KJV” or by hearing a sermon from such a “Bible” or by reading a Gospel tract that quoted the words in a revised spelling form, even if it was labelled “KJV” is not really saved, has never been saved, and never will be saved until he gets a true, fully-preserved AV 1611. That will mean that virtually all those who thought they were saved–preachers, deacons and all–will have to go back and get truly saved through a real AV 1611, then get rebaptized. Verbal inspiration of the English requires inspiration of the very spelling as well. Anything less is rank modernism.

I will confess to one further worry: original type style. The real AV 1611 was printed in what printers call “black letter,” a very ornate type style much like Gothic script, which is still used many times for the banner at the top of the front page of newspapers. This original type style was replaced with “Roman” type sometime in the 18th century. Note that name: Roman. I fear that once again, the Jesuits have conspired to corrupt the pure word in English. They have taken away the original Gothic (and as everyone knows, the Gothic Bible used the textus receptus for its foundation which proves with certainty that the Gothic was the correct script for a real Bible), and have substituted the corrupt Roman script. In a real sense, even the KJV has become a Roman Bible, since its modern editions use Roman script and not the original black letter. As further proof that Roman type is a corruption, notice that all these apostate Bibles–the ERV, ASV, NASB, NIV, NKJB, and the rest, have always been printed in Roman type. That’s proof enough to me that any Bible in Roman type is no Bible at all, and that only a Bible with the original script, the black letter, given to us in the form we should have it by the Learned Men, is a true Bible. Perhaps even those saved by the true original spelling KJV are not saved at all, and must locate a black letter edition. The Roman script Nelson reprint may not be enough (it’s just like those Bible corrupters at Thomas Nelson to pass off a Roman script KJV as though it were a real Bible!). Fortunately for me, my brother has a facsimile reprint in the original black letter of the AV 1611, and I’m secure since I’ve studied out of it several times.

It is a desperate situation. The shortage of black letter, original spelling AV 1611 Bibles is severe. There is truly a famine of the preserved word of God in the land. And all our efforts at preaching, teaching, Bible study, and soul winning are completely futile until we return to the real, unaltered, perfectly preserved bonafide AV 1611. Perhaps the best thing to do for the present is to send off and buy one of those pages from an original KJV, and if you can get a page that has a salvation verse, or part of the “Romans road,” perhaps there will be enough of the Gospel in the true preserved English to rescue your soul.

[As a service to the reader, so he can be saved through a real AV 1611, I will quote John 3:16; unfortunately, I have no capacity to reproduce the original black letter script, so even believing the unrevised spelling may not be enough, but we can hope for the best:

For God so loued ye world, that he gaue his only begotten Sonne: that whosoeuer beleeueth in him, should not perish, but haue euerlasting life.

And just today, I came to understand that the only proper format for any Bible is in scroll form (or at least loose-leaf), since the Apostle assures us that “the word of God is not bound.” Therefore any book that is bound, regardless of its printed contents, cannot honestly be said to be the word of God. I’m sure the inspired 1611 translators never intended for their translation to come sown and within leather covers. Such would be a travesty, in light of the Apostle’s clear and plain teaching.

I’ve begun the systematic unstitching of all my sewn Bibles so that they can qualify, according to Paul’s definition, as the word of God. I urge you to do the same.


If you haven’t already figured it out, the above piece is satire. It was written by Doug Kutilek. I found it at an excellent site devoted to the KJV only controversy.

Bar The Gates!

Dr. Steven Davey, courtesy of OnePlace.com

Do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.Romans 6:13

John Bunyan, one of history’s greatest Christian authors, wrote the story of a fierce battle to take control of a city from its rightful ruler. This famous allegory, Bunyan’s second most popular work, is entitled The Holy War. His depiction of the human soul is a city, Mansoul, with five gates: Ear Gate, Eye Gate, Nose Gate, Feel Gate, and Mouth Gate.

The enemy of the city is Sin, who comes on a daily basis to attack at one of its five gates. Sin speaks to the Ear Gate; he presents vivid, alluring pictures to the Eye Gate; he tempts the other “Gates” as well.

The interesting thing about this battle is that Mansoulcould never be defeated by outside attacks, and Sin could never win in his assaults against the five gates…except in one way: someone on the inside had to open one of the gates and let Sin in.

In reality, these five gates are not Bunyan’s allegorical creations at all — they are for real! Bunyan had grasped what both Paul and Peter understood: that the soul of man is destroyed from the inside, not the outside.

This is why Paul urged the believers to stop presenting their members to sin. The word presenting in this verse is a military term, used in the transferring of weaponry or arms. Paul was actually saying, “Don’t let the enemy use your body as his weapon. Don’t let the enemy have your rifle or your sword so he can use it against you! Don’t leave yourself unarmed…don’t open the gates!”

Unquestionably, you cannot be a holy child of God while allowing your eyes to feast on unholy scenes. Most of today’s new film releases contain scenes of adultery or fornication. It is a fact, according to recent statistics, that over ninety percent of all sexual content in the average film is between unmarried people or people who are married to someone else.

If you choose to watch sin on the big screen, whether in a theater or your family room, you have just opened the Eye Gate and invited Sin to come in.

If Sin can’t get through one gate, he will try another. So, what are the lyrics to your favorite songs, and the lifestyle of your favorite artists? Most secular music today is filled with the same perversion that you see on the screen; merely listening to it may be as deadly as watching it…keep the Ear Gate closed!

You are in a Holy War, Christian, just as John Bunyan said. And you may be your own worst enemy! Sin is pounding at each Gate, but he can only come in if you allow him entrance. Sin can’t win the battle from the outside.

Don’t betray your Mansoul! By all means, reinforce the boundaries…fortify the walls…bar the Gates!