A Review of Jesus: His Life (Part 1)

March 27, 2019 – Pastor Gabe Hughes

This is a Review of the first episode of Jesus: His Life by Pastor Gabe Hughes of Junction City Kansas, which he posted on his blog here. I read the article and then watched it myself. I found that this to be a highly credible article concerning the production. There is one thing he did not mention that I noticed at the end of his article. Without further comment, here is Pastor Gabe’s review.

Each Monday leading up to holy week, the History Channel is airing a docu-series called Jesus: His Life. The show awkwardly mixes in dramatic reenactments of the story of Jesus with commentary from an assemblage of (mostly liberal) Bible scholars.

The trailer to the show says that this is the life of Christ “told through the eyes of those who knew Him best.” History has never done very well with the story of Jesus. Their mini-series The Bible (more accurately termed The Bobble) was terrible. In addition to biblical inaccuracies, it just wasn’t entertaining. Jesus: His Life is equally dull. The mix of drama with commentary doesn’t work. The thematic scenes fail to be captivating, and the theotwits do not add any life to the program.

Given that the show is flat and fallacious, I don’t know why you’d want to bother with it enough to even read my review. But I offer this up anyway! The following is a play-by-play of the first episode, examining the life of Jesus though the eyes of Joseph. The time stamps are according to the video stream I watched on History’s website, sans commercial breaks. And away we go!

1:00 — Oh, hello Joel. Yup, Joel Osteen is the executive producer of this little number, so he’s one of the “experts” who will be popping up every now and then.

2:00 — The introduction is very “This is the story of how Jesus changed the world.” This is not going to be about how Jesus was sent by God and died as an atoning sacrifice for those who will believe in Him. This is going to be about how Jesus bucked the status quo and brought about a revolution of social change. This show will not present the gospel. Phrases like “Savior of the world” might come up, but they’ll never be explained. They’ll be framed in a social context, not a gospel one.

6:30 — Aside from some questionable theotwits, the information so far has been factual for the most part.

7:45 — (Edit) There’s a line I totally missed and someone pointed it out to me. When Gabriel appears to Mary, he says, “Do not be afraid, for you have found favor with God. If you choose to accept His plan, you will conceive in your womb and give birth a son.” Not only does this make the announcement to Mary staunchly Arminian, it’s also pro-choice! Mary got to choose to have a baby. In Luke 1:31-32, Gabriel said, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus.”

9:00 — Mary asks Gabriel, “Why has He chosen me?” Gabriel replies, “You are pure of heart and soul.” According to the story in Luke 1, Mary did not ask that question, nor was Mary told that the reason she was chosen. Gabriel said to her, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” When Mary was troubled, Gabriel said, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” She was favored because God chose her, not because she merited worthiness.

9:30 — James Martin says, “Notice that when she says yes to the angel, she doesn’t ask her husband or her father. She says it on her own. So this is a very strong woman.” The feminism is strong with this one.

11:00 — Dr. Otis Moss III says, “When Mary says, ‘I’m pregnant, and you’re not the father,’ Joseph probably reacted in a typical male fashion. That’s why I love the story because it does not sugar-coat it as making Joseph holier than thou.” That’s why you love the story? Because of your own conjecture? Not because it’s about the birth of the Savior of the world? The show then portrays Joseph losing his temper, breaking stuff apart and throwing it around the house he had been building for him and Mary.

13:00 — Several teachers are cited as saying that if Joseph outs Mary publicly as having sex outside of wedlock, she could be killed under Jewish law. “Adultery is a crime punishable by death,” according to Dr. Robert Cargill. That’s true (Deuteronomy 22:20-24), but it’s unlikely Mary would have been put to death. The Jews couldn’t exercise capital punishment without permission from Rome. The Bible gives us no sense that Mary’s life was in danger. The only people being stoned to death at that period of time were those who would preach the gospel (Acts 7:59).

13:30 — Ah, Michael Curry, the Love Bishop.

14:30 — Joseph is seen cleaning up the house he trashed after his rage fit. I’ve been waiting to see if anyone will actually quote the Scripture itself. No one has. Matthew 1:18-19 says:

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.

Being a “just man,” he knew what the law said concerning unfaithfulness. Being “unwilling to put her to shame,” he was not going to make a public spectacle of Mary. He knew the law was on his side. Rage-trashing his house is not divorcing her quietly.

16:30 — An angel speaks to Joseph in a dream and tells him the child in Mary’s womb is from the Holy Spirit. When Joseph goes back to Mary, I have to admit, I found the interaction between them rather touching. But then it was interrupted by commentary…

I covered this in my book 25 Christmas Myths and What the Bible Says. There are no problems with the census in Luke. The explanation is simple. Luke does not give an exact time reference to when the census took place. He said, “In those days,” which is an unspecific period of time, and “this was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria.” All Luke is pointing to is that these events were part of the same drama, not that they all happened at exactly the same time. There was no reason to use “a device to get Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem.” Matthew didn’t use such an explanation in his gospel.

The dates often used by historians for the Christmas story are based on the writings of the Jewish historian Josephus. But sometimes Josephus was off by as much as a decade. Why are scholars so quick to villify Luke but justify Josephus? Luke under the appointment of the Holy Spirit is spotless in the telling of the gospel. Oh, and contrary to Dr. Cargill’s claims, people did return to their lands when a census was taken.

21:45 — Ben Witherington III says, “[Joseph and Mary] barely got [to Bethlehem] before it was time for Mary to give birth.” Not true, but that’s a minor point. I appreciate that the show does correct the myth that Jesus was born in a barn. He wasn’t. He was born in a house filled with family.

23:30 — Professor Nicola Denzey Lewis says, “Millions of women died in childbirth.” Millions of women in Judea died in childbirth?

25:00 — Shut up, Joel.

25:30 — Whenever an angel appears to someone in this show and says, “Do not be afraid,” they’re just kind of like, “Who are you?” No one is actually afraid.

27:30 — The show continues the myth that there were only three wise men. Except they made the black wise man the lead guy now instead of the token sidekick.

28:00 — Right before the commercial break, Dr. Cargill says of the magi, “Meeting Herod the Great must have been terrifying.” They probably had no idea who he was. But gotta keep the viewers in suspense!

29:00 — The show has the magi arriving at night. There’s no commotion in the city. Yet the Bible says they came to Jerusalem asking, “‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star when it rose and have come to worship Him.’ When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him” (Matthew 2:2-3). The number of magi and the size of their caravan were enough to alert all of Jerusalem and earn the magi an audience before Herod. This was a big deal. In fact the question they asked, “Where is the King of the Jews,” was asked of Jesus by Pontius Pilate over 30 years later.

30:30 — The magi say, “We followed a star. Our charts tell us it heralds the birth of a messiah.” No, they knew the star was leading them to the Messiah because they had the Jewish Scriptures.

32:30 — Joseph tries to refuse the gifts of the magi. That was weird.

33:00 — The Love Bishop says love things.

34:00 — Right before the commercial break, Joseph rebukes the magi for coming because they’ve put Jesus’s life at risk. Oh, good grief.

35:30 — The Love Bishop says, “Joseph keeps getting these dreams in Matthew’s gospel. He gets the dream that tells him the child is a miracle of God. Then he gets the dream telling him to flee Palestine and go to Egypt.” Joseph wasn’t listening to dreams. He was obeying God. Matthew 2:13 says, “An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Rise, take the child and His mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy Him.'” The show doesn’t depict that. Instead, the show portrays Joseph having a vision of Herod giving the order to kill baby boys in Bethlehem.

39:30 — Joseph and Mary barely elude the guards and get Jesus out of Bethlehem during the massacre of the innocents. Oh, the drama. (I really thought I’d done a WWUTT video on the massacre of the innocents. Apparently not. I’ll get on that for next Christmas.)

40:30 — Joshua Dubois, Faith Advisor to President Obama, says, “The holy family become refugees.” These comments are always more politically loaded than they are biblically accurate. A refugee is someone forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or have been displaced because of a natural disaster. Yes, Joseph and Mary fled Judea to escape the wrath of Herod, but they never left the Roman empire. They would have gone to the Jewish settlement in Alexandria, Egypt. There they were quite secure among their own people, and they had the gifts from the magi to pay for their stay. This was not like we would consider a modern-day refugee.

41:00 — Dr. Moss points out that Joseph protected his wife and a child who was not his own. “Joseph becomes a beautiful model for fatherhood today. Where would we be if we had more men who operated like Joseph?” I appreciate the sentiment. But the question is better asked, “Where would we be if more men obeyed God?”

Part 2 examining the life of Jesus through the eyes of John the Baptist coming at a later time… Maybe.

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Dan’s Note:

Missing in the angel/Joseph dialogue was the statement by the angel that “you shall call his name ‘Jesus’ for he will save his people from their sins.”, which was the main purpose in Jesus coming – to save his people from their sins! Will this series fail in presenting a clear and concise message that Christ died for the sins of men, as Pastor Gabe suggests in his critique?

Francis Chan Defends His Friendship With False Teachers

March 17, 2019, Pastor Gabe Hughes,. Junction City Kansas

(Dan’s Note: This might be the best commentary I have read concerning Francis Chan’s situation)

Yesterday, Francis Chan responded to the harsh accusations that he has been aligning with heretics. A recent article published at The Cripplegate was entitled Farewell Francis. The author Jordan Standridge warned that Chan “is sharing the stage with false teachers who will spend eternity in Hell (Gal. 1:6-9).” He pleaded for Chan to repent and “come back to your first love!”

Chan has been on a steady decline over the last few years. Preaching with Mike Bickle at the International House of Prayer may have been a head-scratcher, but it wasn’t enough to denounce Chan as developing an alliance with the enemy. Maybe Chan didn’t know that Bickle claimed to have gone to heaven and had a personal audience with Jesus. Maybe Chan didn’t know Bickle teaches that we bring about Christ’s return through prayer (according to what Jesus personally told him). Maybe Chan didn’t know that Bickle has claimed there will be new apostles preaching things you will not be able to find in the Bible, and they will be superior to the biblical apostles.

But since his appearances at IHOP, Chan has ventured into other strange territory, like preaching at Bethel Church in Redding, CA—known for manipulative gags such as pouring gold dust in the ventilation system and calling it a glory cloud from God. Teachers from Bethel under pastor Bill Johnson also claim to have face-to-face conversations with not only Jesus but God the Father, whom the Bible says no one can see and live (Exodus 33:20, John 1:18, 1 John 4:12).

Everything came to a head last month when Chan preached at a conference in Orlando known as The Send, featuring some of the worst teachers out there—Benny Hinn, Heidi Baker, Todd White, and Bill Johnson to name a few. Following The Send, pictures started emerging of Chan being buddies with these charlatans. He embraced them as brothers and praised them for being bold men and women of God. This has prompted many, including myself, to warn people to stay away from Francis Chan. He is no longer trustworthy.

Questions have been raised for a few years regarding Chan’s associations, but Chan has remained silent. Finally he responded this weekend in a blog entitled A Response to Some Concerns by Francis Chan. I won’t post the entire thing word for word—you can read it for yourself by clicking the link. I will highlight some critical points, and then my response will follow.

Chan wrote:

From what I hear from friends and critics (I stay away from social media, etc), there have been a lot of conclusions drawn from my decision to speak at The Send conference as well as other venues. Some people have questioned my willingness to take pictures with anyone who asks for a picture with me. So I thought it might be helpful to explain some of my theological beliefs which have come under scrutiny as of late, as well as some of my practices/decisions. I realize there are many questions, but let me at least clarify a few things.

What do you believe regarding the “Prosperity Gospel”?

My understanding of that term is that it refers to teachings which imply that if you follow Jesus, He will make you healthy and wealthy. It is often used to attract people to make a decision to follow Jesus so that they can spend the rest of their lives in health and prosperity. I believe this is a dangerous teaching for several reasons. First and foremost (in my opinion) is that it contradicts the teachings and example of Christ and the apostles. Jesus taught His disciples “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). It was not a call to come and prosper but rather the opposite—a call to come and suffer.

Chan goes on in his repudiation of the prosperity gospel. I am not in disagreement with him here. Prosperity theology is a lie from the pit of hell. It’s precisely because of Chan’s views regarding health-and-wealth teaching that he has become a hypocrite in his ministry partnerships. He preaches with the worst of the worst among prosperity charlatans. Teachers like Hinn, Johnson, White, and Heidi Baker preach exactly the false gospel Chan condemns!

In a video of a Bethel Church service from March 25 of last year, Bill Johnson is seen leading his church in an absurd prayer which he called “a decree and confession.” Before praying aloud together, Johnson said, “I want your faith to be recognizable in your volume. No small task.” He then led the congregation to recite the following, the audience practically yelling it as they proclaimed:

As we receive today’s offering, we are believing the Lord for jobs and better jobs, raises and bonuses, benefits and sales and commissions, favorable settlements, estates and inheritances, interests and income, rebates and returns, checks in the mail, gifts and surprises, finding money, debts paid off, expenses decrease, blessing and increase. Thank you, Lord, for meeting all of my financial needs that I may have more than enough to give into the kingdom of God and promote the gospel of Jesus Christ. Hallelujah!

Bethel Church teaches you have the power to speak things into existence, especially your health and your wealth. By praying such a prayer, they are taught that they will have all of their professions.

Do not be fooled by Bethel’s intention to “promote the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Bill Johnson preaches a false gospel. He thinks the gospel is miraculous healing and has taught heretical things about God. Astonishingly, Chan has said, “Prosperity preachers often promise greater wealth if their listeners will give more to their ministries. This is never promised in Scriptures. We can never hold God to something that He has not promised.” Yet that’s exactly what Johnson was doing in that prayer!

What would it take for Chan to recognize Bethel Church actively advances the thing he condemns? Yet he has preached that if you criticize Bill Johnson, you are taking a sledgehammer to the house of God, and you will have to answer for that before God. He referenced 1 Corinthians 3:17 which says, “If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” My friends, Bill Johnson’s “gospel” is anything but holy. Chan is defending these guys and making people fear calling them out. That’s deceptive, whether or not the intention of his heart is to deceive.

Chan’s blog continues:

Why do you sometimes accept speaking engagements in places that tolerate theology that is different from yours?

I speak at events almost every week of the year. Often times, it’s more than one event a week. I don’t really enjoy it—I hate the travel, but try not to complain about it. Despite the toll it can take on myself and the family, it is always an honor to preach the Word. I believe it is my calling. Some question my choice to speak so often, but my best discernment and the discernment of the elders of our church is that it is still a part of my calling in this season.

I am asked to speak at approximately 500 events a year. I decline approximately 90% of the requests. It’s a difficult thing to do. Often times, I decline because other speakers will be at the event who believe almost exactly what I believe. My reasoning is that it may be a waste of Kingdom resources for all of us to be there, speaking largely to people who already agree with us. It seems more effective to speak where there is less Bible teaching. It has not been my practice to ask who will share the platform with me and to research the other speakers. While some may be dear friends, there are many that I know little about. This current experience has caused me to consider exercising more caution and to develop a team to help me research. That being said, I speak in many places where I am not in alignment theologically. I actually believe that is where I can be most effective, as long as they give me freedom to address anything I believe the Lord wants me to address.

I recognize, now more than ever, that sometimes my participation can give the impression that I align with every other speaker at the event. I’m not sure what to do about that other than to tell you that I don’t. Unless the elders of my church direct me differently, I will continue to be found preaching in venues with those I disagree. I will preach in just about any kind of setting if I’m given freedom to preach from any passage of scripture. The elders and I are trying to come up with more safeguards for future events to hopefully prevent misunderstandings. Pray for us.

From what it sounds like, Chan is going to be developing a team to help him decide whom he should preach with and whom he shouldn’t. I appreciate that, and it will be interesting to see where this goes. Will there be change? Will Chan realize he’s been teaching with liars and apologize? Or will Chan use this group he’s assembling to validate his alignment with false teachers? Time will tell.

That aside, how is Chan’s reasoning regarding where he preaches biblical? He gave numerous biblical references in his condemnation of the prosperity gospel—he gave no biblical references with regard to which speaking invitations he accepts. He says, “Often times, I decline because other speakers will be at the event who believe almost exactly what I believe.” Does Chan think there is little to no value in preachers gathering together in doctrinal unity? Psalm 133:1 says, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” Isn’t it a better witness for laypeople to see teachers in one accord and not in discord?
Now, even at events like the Shepherds Conference or the Ligonier Conference, both held in just the last couple weeks, not every teacher is doctrinally aligned at every point. Some preachers are Baptists and some are Presbyterians—there’s doctrinal disagreement right there. But those preachers rejoice in that while they may disagree on secondary issues, they are exactly the same on their love for the true gospel. They love word of God and pursue Him with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength.

When Francis Chan preached at The Send, he aligned with heretics. There may have been no true gospel presented except what Chan preached. But Chan was not there in a Matthew 23 moment calling out sons of hell that produce more sons of hell. He called Todd White “a bold, bold man of God.” Todd White is a con-artist and self-professed faith healer who said his father in the faith was Kenneth Copeland. Chan did nothing to discredit these charlatans. Rather, before the audience at The Send, Chan made them appear more credible.

Romans 16:17-18 says, “I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.”

The Apostle John warned, “Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works” (2 John 1:9-11).

There’s simply no excuse for Chan’s ignorance. If Chan is so busy that he cannot do even a little bit of research, then he needs to say no to some of his speaking engagements and free up time to “test everything” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). This is his responsibility. It’s on him, especially as a teacher. For the Spirit of God says, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).
Seriously, how does Chan not know who Benny Hinn is? He needs a team of people to tell him Hinn is a charlatan? If Chan simply watched the documentary American Gospel, he would receive so much insight into the false gospel these “friends” of his have preached and the damage they are causing. Chan knows the documentary exists. He was interviewed for it because of his outspokenness against the prosperity gospel. However, he was dropped from the final cut because the director of the film recognized the inconsistency in Chan’s witness.

In his blog response, Chan continues:

Why did it take so long for you to write a response?

Early in my ministry, I had a professor warn, “Don’t spend your time defending yourself. Let God defend you and those closest to you defend you. You can spend your whole life dispelling rumors.” I have followed that advice for the past 30 years. I hope this response doesn’t sound like a person who is trying to save his reputation just for the sake of saving his reputation. My hope was to bring clarity to those who might trust my life and preaching and assume that my being in a picture or on a stage with someone means that I align with them. In regards to pictures, I live a very strange life. Most people take pictures with their friends and family. I end up taking thousands of pictures with complete strangers who ask to take pictures with me. I have struggled over the years with whether it is wrong to sign books or take pictures with people. I would be perfectly happy to never take another picture or sign another book. It just feels rude and discouraging to say no. My intention was never to show allegiance with those who request selfies.

First of all, I can appreciate not wasting your time defending yourself against critics. I don’t. Dozens of videos have been made denouncing what I’ve preached. I’ve never responded to a single one of them. A pair of former members of my congregation once wrote a 9,000-word diatribe against me and posted it on Facebook. They lied about me in just about every way they could. But I did not type a single word in response—to them or anyone else (until just now, I suppose).

But this is not a trifle criticism over some idle comment Chan made. This is Chan aligning with heretics on a digression that keeps getting worse and worse. I have made several public appeals for anyone close to Chan to reach out to him and alert this brother to what he’s doing. He just doesn’t get it, and he still doesn’t get it.

The criticism regarding Chan’s associations has never been about selfies—not even in the last few weeks since images and comments have emerged following The Send. He’s not merely taking selfies. He’s heaping adulation and praise onto ministers of Satan. He’s standing shoulder to shoulder with them and calling them friends and brothers and men of God. Through pictures we’re seeing with our eyes what we’ve been hearing with our ears. It’s alarming! I’m not trying to spread rumors and gossip. I want Chan to repent!

This is serious—deadly serious. James 4:4 says, “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” Chan recognizes that the prosperity gospel is worldly, yet he calls those who teach it his friends. I pray the Lord will open his eyes to whom he is playing with.

Chan concludes:

Another reason I took so long to write this response is because I read Paul’s defense of his ministry. He was able to do it out of love for people and the furtherance of the gospel. I needed a little extra time to make sure I wasn’t responding out of anger, pride, hurt, or cynicism- things that I have been guilty of. I think my heart is in a good place now, and I am writing because I believe I have a calling to proclaim the gospel and preach unpopular truths in a crooked generation. Though some are trying to deter people from my ministry altogether, I believe God has given me a calling to teach His Word. I plan on teaching faithfully until I die. I hope you take this in the spirit in which it was written.

One final thought—We should all be careful to guard against false teaching of any kind. In the process of refuting false teachers, however, we can unintentionally falsely accuse good teachers. That might be equally harmful to His Kingdom. God desires unity in His body, so it is no small crime to bring division into the church.

As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him.” Titus 3:10

“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” 1 Corinthians 3:16-17

Jesus deeply longed for unity amongst His children. This should not come at the expense of truth. There are times when the truth will divide. Let’s all humbly beg for wisdom from the Holy Spirit to know how to love our brothers without compromising truth. As we diligently confront false teaching, let’s show equal fervency in defending those who are truly our brothers and equal zeal in confronting those who unnecessarily divide the body.

Truly, it is weird to read Chan call for unity when he said in the same blog that he tries to preach in places where he is not in unity with other preachers. Maybe Chan needs to offer a definition of what he thinks biblical unity is supposed to look like. The guy abandoned his church instead of shepherding them as a pastor should, so I have my doubts about his understanding of unity or even his role of a pastor. Titus 1:9 says that a pastor “must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also rebuke those who contradict it.”

But Chan didn’t rebuke anyone in his blog except those who have been rebuking. Exactly who are the “good teachers” Chan thinks we are accusing of being false? He refuses to name names. He’s still putting himself between the wolves and those trying to warn the flock. He’s being deceptive even if his intention is to tell the truth. Until he can be more discerning, we have to dismiss Chan as lacking credibility. He will lead others into believing the false prosperity gospel even while he condemns it. People will be confused about what the prosperity gospel is and isn’t when they see him aligning himself with those who preach it.

We cannot force unity. It cannot be manufactured by human will. We must be obedient to the truth, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom (Colossians 3:16), according to the full counsel of God. God will provide the growth. Chan made a reference to 1 Corinthians 3:17. Here’s what that passage says in verses 18-23:

“Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness,’ and again, ‘The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.’ So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present are the future—all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.”

“And such WERE some of you.”

Christianity Today magazine, in its now standard FOX News style (we report, you decide) recently published an article called What It’s Like to Be Gay at Wheaton College. When I received CT’s email alert the title caught my attention so I read the article. Needless to say, CT lived up to its reputation of not taking a stand about anything in the article. I came away from my reading angry again at CT for not providing any sort of Biblical perspective on various issues to which the article pointed. I was deeply saddened that Wheaton College seems to be on ‘the downgrade’, as Spurgeon would undoubtedly claim.

Wheaton College is not alone in treating homosexual tendencies differently than other ‘tendencies’ that some people seem plagued with. If someone ‘comes out’ as homosexual in a public Christian setting like the young man who authored the CT article, he is applauded for his/her courage and other Christians line up to offer their love and support, whatever that means. Apparently it doesn’t mean offering Christ as being able to conquer any and all sins, whether actual behavior or just a tendency toward that which God calls sin.

The apostle Paul would I think disagree vehemently with the approach many Christians and Christian institutions are taking in not addressing homosexual tendencies as ‘sin’. For that I call them hypocrites. Hear Paul:

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such WERE some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor 6:9-11) (Emphasis mine)

In the above passage, Paul, in speaking to believers in Corinth, lists nine sorts of people whose lives are marked by patterns sinful behavior. He numbers them among the ‘unrighteous’ who will not inherit the Kingdom of God. I submit to you that for every pattern of behavior Paul names, there is also a ‘tendency’ toward the behavior that by nature is also sinful!

Would Wheaton College or other students offer the same love and affirmation it affords the homosexual who ‘bravely comes out’ to the sexually immoral (in other ways), idolaters, adulterers, thieves, greedy, drunkards, revilers, and swindlers?

The Apostle Paul certainly didn’t put homosexuals in a separate category, so why do we? Paul didn’t ‘affirm’ one type of lost sinner and condemn the rest. He said they were all headed for a fiery eternity. Then he added “and such WERE some of you”. He also told us how it is that some of them WERE in the list.

“But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor 6:9-11)

There were among the believers in Corinth those who had been sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, men who practice homosexuality, thieves, greedy, drunkards, revilers, and swindlers who had repented and believed the gospel and were now firmly in the Savior’s grasp and bound for Glory.

In summary:

1. Lifestyles of sin have at their root, sinful tendencies.

2. In Christ, with the power of the Holy Spirit, sinful behavior and tendencies can be overcome, if we recognize sin for what it is, repent of it and believe in Christ.

3. If we don’t call every sin ‘sin’ and treat those who struggle with sin equal love, concern, as well as Biblical counsel and guidance, we are 1) hypocrites and 2) we do great harm to those who need guidance and deliverance, NOT affirmation.

Why do we want to look like the world?

The answer is really simple. We want to ‘attract’ people to Jesus, which is a concept found nowhere in scripture. In fact God wants his sona and daughters to be different from the world, not like the world. Yet pastors come out on platforms and stages where there is no pulpit, wearing their faded jeans, rumpled shirts hanging out of their trousers, only to preach stories about themselves (narcigesis) with a few scripture passages thrown in (soundbites for Jesus?), most likely taken out of context to ‘prove’ the heresy of the day, and itching ears lap it up because postmodern Christianity is all about our temporal happiness not God’s glory.

“The idea that you are going to win people tomthe Christian faith by showing them that after all you are remarkably like them is theologically and psychologically a profound blunder.” – Lloyd-Jones, Preaching and Preachers, 140

False Teachers and Itching Ears – A Match Made in Hell

Some things never change, and the topic of false teachers arising from within the church spoken of in 2 Peter is one of those timeless lessons:

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.  And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed.  And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. (2 Peter 2:1-3)

Also just as relevant today as when it was penned is the Apostle Paul’s advice to young Timothy:

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom:  preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.  For the time is coming when people will not endure sound. teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,  and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. (2 Timothy 4: 1-4)

Combine false teachers and itching ears and you have the perfect match. The false teachers in our midst peddle destructive man centered heresies, and people with itching ears flock to them to have their passions validated and listen to promises of their fulfillment.

Nothing new here……move along?

Not just yet – not without a word concerning ‘destructive heresies’.

The above scripture connects destructive heresies to sinful human passions In other words, tell people how they can have all of their temporal wishes and desires and you have a winner. You can start your own church in your living room, and if you repackage the same old lies, you might even end up a megachurch with campuses all over town!

So what do these heresies look like today? Good question. The term ‘dream destiny’ comes almost immediately to mind. I hear it quite a lot these days. We are even told that the dream destiny/personal vision we have in our hearts and minds is God given! Furthermore, if we don’t yet have a personal dream destiny, we probably haven’t had a real encounter with God (but that’s a separate subject). If you are old like me (mid-60s) and have been paying attention to trends in today’s churches (especially megachurches), you might observed the same thing I have. Or, you might think I’ve been smoking whacky weed (I do live in Colorado, after all).

I think that today’s ‘dream destiny’ is yesterday’s ‘purpose’. Although personal ambition has always been a part of the human construct, I think that ‘self-centered’ Christianity was kicked into high gear when “The Purpose Driven Life” was first published in 2002. The author, Rick Warren, was slick. In the first few pages he tells us that life’s all about God. With that thought in the back of our minds, helped along with a gentle reminder now and again, the book proceeds to help us, and center on, discovering our individual, tailor made, God given purpose for living.

The book became the second best seller in human history, we are told. An small ‘industry’ was spawned that included a partnership with Reader’s Digest in order to “provide a suite of bundled multimedia tools: The Purpose Driven Connection, a quarterly magazine; small group study materials delivered in DVDs, workbooks and downloadable discussion guides; and a state-of-the-art Christian social networking Web site.”

Fast forward to 2015. While we don’t hear so much about being ‘purpose driven’ anymore, we sure hear about ‘personal visions’ and ‘dream destinies’, even from Pastor Rick. Terminology has changed, and quite naturally! Once we have our God designed special purpose figured out we need to move on and grow into something ‘more’, something ‘bigger’ – our personal ‘destiny’!

Our need for Christ is no longer based on the need for a savior from our sin (its penalty, power over us in this life, and its very presence in the future), but it’s based on fulfilling our own special purpose and destiny in this life.

We now have a form of ‘Christianity’ so self-centered it hardly resembles the New Testament church or the teaching of the Apostles, to which early believers were so devoted. (See Acts, Chapter 2). In fact, it opposes many of the teachings of Christ himself! In other words, the combination of ‘false teachers’ and ‘itching ears’ has turned Christianity completely on its head! A match made in Hell, indeed!

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As an afterthought (not really), consider for a few moments the following passages of scripture and what our attitude should be concerning things temporal:

Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. (John 12:25)

If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. (Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23)

 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Rom 12: 2)

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (James 4:4)

6 Ways Christians Lost Because of the SCOTUS Decision

I recently read an online article called 6 Ways Christians Lost This Week that immediately caught my attention but took a bit longer to process. The article seemed to say that because of some Christian responses to the SCOTUS ruling legalizing gay marriage, Christians ‘lost’ the following:

1) We lost the chance to be loving.

2) We lost the chance to be good neighbors.

3) We lost the chance to be Good Samaritans.

4) We lost the opportunity to show how big God is.

5) We lost the chance to reflect Christ.

6) We lost people.

There were explanations around those points, and even a few passages of scripture (taken out of context) to support the idea of Christians having ‘lost’ things, but what struck me was that the author claimed that Christians ‘lost’ all these things at all!. How could that be? How could we ever just lose ‘chances’ and ‘opportunities’? We can no longer reflect Christ to gay persons? Some Christians have been lost to the faith because of the responses of other Christians? None of it made any sense to me.

To find answers to my questions I took a closer look at the author’s web site and went straight to the ‘What We Believe’ page. Sadly, my questions were answered. The author proudly attends an ‘Emergent’ church in North Carolina. Among all of the core, and thoroughly emergent, beliefs of this church two statements stood out among the typical ‘emergent’ beliefs and practices mentioned at the church’s website:

1. “The scriptures are inspired by God: They are the words of humans.” (Emphasis mine)

2. “At ________, we believe that sin is not that big of a deal.”

The belief that the scriptures are inspired by God but are the words of humans is quite telling. It allows for a casual ‘head nod’ to God’s involvement in the development of scripture, but denies the authority of the Bible by claiming that the words in scripture are the words of humans, not God. .In the case of gay marriage, the humans who penned some really clear ‘words’ concerning homosexuality must have so totally misunderstood God’s ‘inspiration’ that they wrote down the exact opposite of God’s opinion/intent!

As for the thought that “sin is just not that big of a deal”, what can I say but that sin (any and all sin) is a VERY big deal with God. In fact, it’s such a big deal that it deserves eternal punishment in a place called Hell. It’s such a big deal that God sent his Son to live the perfect life that no man could (but must to inherit eternal life) and then poured out his just wrath upon his Son instead of us who deserve it!

So why is it again that Christians ‘lost’ so much? What did we do exactly? Some of us behaved rather poorly and didn’t communicate a lot of love in our responses. However, if the Holy Spirit is in the process of awakening blind eyes to the message of the gospel, even a message delivered poorly will accomplish God’s intent. Then there are those who ‘lovingly’ communicated God’s opinion in the matter at hand (quoted scripture). How did they cause such devastating ‘losses’? They DIDN’T. The Bible I read tells me that those living in sin and darkness love their sin and darkness. Furthermore, I don’t believe for a New York second that any true believer would deny his/her faith because he/she was informed of the truth of scripture. True believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit who brings conviction of sin, maybe not right away, but eventually. And after conviction comes healing by the same power of God.

Then there were the comments to the original article, which are probably somewhere north of 1K by now. Many, if not most contain little if any value at all. Diatribes against ‘hateful’ Christians who refuse to affirm gay marriage and homosexuality as being approved of by a ‘loving’ God. Then there are those little verbal tennis matches between commentators on both sides of the debate, with both sides being less than polite in their discourse. I couldn’t keep up with all the scripture twisting or the claiming as scripture things that are nowhere written in the Bible – and by professing Christians!

I have no doubt that those who claimed Christ while affirming gay marriage were sincere. Their comments communicated their limited knowledge of the attributes of God. Their comments reflected that Gods only attribute is ‘love’. While I am equally certain that their ignorance is due to the lack of sound doctrine being taught in some of the churches they attend, they have no excuse for remaining ignorant. There is more access to the Bible today than ever before, in every form imaginable!

Would you pray with me that the Spirit of God would cause a deep desire in the hearts professing Christians who seem to be ‘children of a lesser God’ to really get to know God through his inspired Word. Relevant passages clearly stating what’s what concerning the big issue of the day have been shared numerous times. I am confident that those whose hearts have been opened by God will listen. Others will remain in their hardened state and continue to call us hateful for standing on God’s word and shake their fists at God.

Fuzzy Thinking?

Premise 1 The Old Testament Law prohibited eating certain foods and declared some ‘unclean’.

Premise 2. Jesus declared all foods ‘clean’

Conclusion: Therefore Jesus contradicted/abolished/dismissed OT Law.

The above syllogism is used by many to affirm certain behavior/activity prohibited by OT Law. What behavior/activity is currently being defended is immaterial to the REAL question at hand.

1. “Did Jesus abolish OT Law?” Using the term ‘abolish’ by definition includes contradicting and/or dismissing the Law.

At this point, a rather lengthy discussion can be had concerning what is meant by ‘abolish’, as well as an even longer dissertation concerning the ‘types’ of Law in the OT. To answer out question however, we need only look to the words of Jesus himself:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished” (Matthew 5:17-18).

There you have it. Jesus did not come abolish the Law, but to fulfill not only the Law, but also the Prophets. Whatever that means, the above conclusion is false.

I’m not going to get into the meaning of it all, but there are some good answers from an excellent source to specific questions like “Did Jesus abolish OT law?” at www.gotQuestions.org. Just Google the question and read to your heart’s content.

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The above post is dedicated to “Bones”, a fellow who stated that Jesus did contradict and/or dismiss OT Law, over at a ‘Progressive’ Christian are of the blogosphere. I could not address him there, as I have been blocked from doing so. That’s probably a good thing (being blocked) since there are even more really foolish arguments being made over there and I have a tendency to want to address them all and perhaps become a poor steward of God’s time.