Who really shared the gospel?

Here is an interesting tweet from a week ago by Jacob Denhollander, about whom I know next to nothing:

 image

I remember the accolades from fellow Christians when Mr. Pratt was lauded for mentioning God in a public forum, and the MTV awards at that. I also remember wondering if he said more about the gospel than “God is real. God loves you. God wants the best for you. Believe that. I do.”, which is what I heard in the short clip I watched. I also wondered if I was just making an observation or being intentionally overly critical. After all, when anyone mentions God in a public forum it’s a good thing.

Next we have Mike Pence at the recent Southern Baptist Convention in which he gave a commendable speech in praise of Southern Baptists and their efforts to advance the gospel through the years. He also shared a bit of personal testimony about something that happened to him 40 years ago, when he heard a particular message:

“God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever might believe in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life.” And I walked the sawdust trail that night in 1978 and gave my life to Jesus Christ, and it’s made all the difference.

So back to  the question at hand. Who shared a more clear gospel message, Chris Pratt or Mike Pence? I’ll leave that to you – I am eager to hear your responses.

I do however have a couple of other questions to ask that are also worthy of comment and discussion.

1. Is Mr. Denhollander’s sentiment that Chris Pratt presented a clearer gospel message than Mike Pence a widely held belief among today’s evangelicals, and if so, WHY?

2. Do YOU believe Mr. Denhllander’s comment to be true, and if so, WHY?

3. Do we evangelicals sometimes make TOO much of a celebrity mention God in public than we ought, and if that’s true, is there a bit of idolatry in play here?

Just rambling questions of an old soldier. . . . let’s talk about it anyway.

🙂

Another Look at the Believer’s Assurance of Salvation

In case you are wondering what I mean by ‘another’ look, I’ll tell you. Quite some time ago, we published a post discussing what might be THE definitive passage concerning the believer’s assurance of salvation:

“I give them (my sheep) eternal life, and they will never perish; no one will snatch them from my hand.” – John 10:28

Whenever I am asked If I a believer can lose his/her salvation, this passage is both the first and final answer, no matter where the conversation takes us. If we are granted ‘eternal’ life at the moment at the moment we believe in Jesus for forgiveness and salvation (and we are), if ‘never’ means NEVER (and it does), and if ‘perish’ means wake up in Hell (and it does), as far as I’m concerned, it’s game over; end of discussion. No matter how many ‘warning’ passages are trotted out to ‘prove’ salvation can be forfeited, that which is abundantly clear must be used to interpret that which is not as clear in scripture. It’s a tried and true hermeneutical principle. You can read the entire post here.

This time I would like to take a look at another set of verses used as arguments from both sides of the aisle; from those who believe you can lose/forfeit your salvation and from those who believe that God always ‘keeps’ whom he ‘saves’.

You already know where I stand on this issue, so let’s get to it!

The passage to which I refer is Romans 8:1-6:

1There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. (Rom 8:1-6 ESV)(Emphasis mine)

First, let’s consider verse 1:

1There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Those who hold to the position that salvation once granted can be lost will base their argument on the two emphasized phrases. If there is now no condemnation (judgment) there could exist a possibility of later condemnation if one were to move from being in Christ Jesus to a position outside of Christ. On its face, that sounds quite logical, but if we put it back in the larger context, is it?. Let’s do that.

First note the ‘therefore’ in verse 1. As we all know, when we see a ‘therefore’ we need to find out what the ‘therefore’ is there for. In this case we look back to Chapter 7, in which the Apostle Paul is discussing having been released from bondage to the Law. Old Testament Jewish law did carry condemnation for all those living under its principles, as Paul once did before he was saved on the road to Damascus and was placed in Christ. Condemnation ceased the moment Paul was placed in Christ on that dusty road.

That brings us to the in Christ issue in verse 1. Is it possible for anyone who is in Christ today to end up outside of Christ at a later date/time? Well, to be outside of Christ is to perish, or face condemnation. If those who are in Christ are those to whom has been granted eternal life, and if Jesus said that those to whom he gives eternal life shall never perish (John 10:28), those in Christ will never find themselves outside of Christ!

Now let’s take a look at the issue of ‘walking according to the flesh’ and ‘walking according to the Spirit. Some will say that a believer must first of all be in Christ and be walking according to the Spirit, or he/she might lose their salvation. They tell us that a believer can choose to walk according to the flesh or according to the Spirit at any given moment. While we would all agree that believers may decide to follow the flesh or the Spirit when facing temptation, is that what the term ‘walk’ means in these passages?

Let’s take a closer look.

If we again refer back to larger context of Chapter 7, walking after the flesh clearly means living by OT Law, a life principle rather than a momentary submitting to temptation. The grammatical construct demands that the phrase ‘walking after the Spirit’ shares the same lifestyle meaning. This parallel construct is seen more clearly in verse 2, “For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” When anyone is bondage to OT law the natural course of life is under the law of sin and death. When a person is found in Christ he/she is living under the law of the Spirit of life, an entirely different course!

The Apostle seems to have spoken of this ‘tale of two natures’ in his 2nd Letter to the church at Corinth:

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Cor 5:17 ESV)

As believers we battle with sin, just as Paul did (see Romans 7). At the same time, because of our new nature in Christ, we walk according to the Spirit as the natural pattern of our lives.

A freely admit that this little discussion is a small part of the discussion around the assurance of salvation, but for one old guy it’s been a profitable exercise in wrapping this old brain around the issue. I hope it has been useful for anyone who reads this post.

May God bless you all!

Is Same Sex Attraction Sinful?

I believe this to the question at the core of the current kerfuffle in the PCA concerning a July 26-28 event to be held at Memorial Presbyterian Church (PCA) in St. Louis, Missouri – the  Revoice Conference. All of the criticisms aside (and there are many), as well as the defenders comments (here is one), the real issue is whether seemingly natural (born with) human affections can be sinful, along with the inevitable temptations and sinful behavior that often follows giving in to temptation.

That, my friends. is THE question at hand. I’ve read more than a few articles on the subject, and what follows, posted at Purely Presbyterian seem to have hit the proverbial nail squarely on its head. Read on.

 

Is Same Sex Attraction Sinful?

Some otherwise conservative Christians are beginning to take a compromising stance on homosexuality. They claim that only homosexual behavior is sinful and that same sex attraction (SSA) is a “sign of brokenness” similar to feelings of grief or sadness, or as one proponent put it, that having SSA is being “born in a broken condition… that does not represent flourishing” similar to being born blind. They claim it is a negative result of the Fall, but not inherently sinful. So their advice for Christians who are same sex attracted is to remain celibate and that their SSA is not sinful and doesn’t need to be repented of.

One pastoral candidate was asked if he believed that “his homosexual feelings, attractions, thoughts, and desires are sinful.” To which he answered: “I believe my same-sex attractions are broken, but I do not believe they are sinful. It is not a sin for me to be attracted to another man, in the same way it is not sinful for you to be attracted to a woman.” [1]

Anglican minister Sam Allberry describes what same sex attraction is, “I am same-sex attracted and have been my entire life. By that, I mean that I have sexual, romantic and deep emotional attractions to people of the same sex,” [2] but also claims it is a “form of temptation” and that he is “uncomfortable with saying same-sex attraction is sin.” [3]

The following points will demonstrate how unbiblical and dangerous those ideas are.

What is Same Sex Attraction?

“Same sex attraction” is an ambiguous term, what does it mean? This is one fundamental part of the problem with discussions on this topic. Worldly terminology and worldly concepts are often used rather than Biblical ones. Calling it an “attraction” makes it seem no different than how a man could notice the objective beauty of a woman without lusting after her in his heart, however this is inaccurate.

When we ask if same sex attraction is sinful, the question is not whether finding someone objectively beautiful is sinful. A man could be attracted to women and men in this sense and no one would say it is sinful. For example,  David is described as “a youth, and ruddy, and of a fair countenance” (1 Sam. 17:42), mothers can say that their children are handsome or beautiful, etc. This is clearly not the sense of the term when talking about same sex attraction, or else it is a pointless distinction because everyone experiences this.

Same Sex Attraction is not a Temptation

Some [4] have suggested that SSA is a merely temptation and since Jesus was tempted and remained sinless, being attracted to the same sex is not sinful. However, this is a fundamental misunderstanding of the relationship between temptation and desire.

Temptation is the “solicitation of the passions” [5] or an enticement of a desire (whether that desire is good or bad). “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed” (James 1:14). One can not be tempted by something one does not desire. Jesus’ desire for food was not sinful (Mat. 4:3), but it is sinful to desire an excess of something good (Col. 3:5), or to desire a particular thing that is not yours to desire (Deut. 5:21; Ex. 20:17).

Additionally, some desires are sinful in and of themselves because there is no particular circumstance wherein it would be lawful to have it. The Bible describes same sex attraction as the habitual desire for “strange flesh” (Jude 7), having “vile affections” (Rom. 1:26), or being “without natural affection” (Rom. 1:31; 2 Tim. 3:3). Temptation for something that is wrong in its very essence (such as sodomy, pedophilia, bestiality, etc.) is an enticement of a desire for that thing, thus the temptation is drawing from an already wicked desire. The desire for sin is itself sinful.

Sexual Attraction is an Affection

Affection is “A bent of mind towards a particular object, holding a middle place between disposition, which is natural, and passion, which is excited by the presence of its exciting object. affection is a permanent bent of the mind, formed by the presence of an object, or by some act of another person, and existing without the presence of its object….Desire; inclination; propensity, good or evil; as, virtuous or vile affections. Romans 1:31. Galatians 5:24.” [6]

Affections can be good or bad in themselves. They are good when they are directed at something good (e.g. 1 Chron. 29:3; Col. 3:2), they are bad when they are excessive (e.g. “inordinate affection,” Col. 3:5) or directed at something sinful (e.g. “vile affections,” Rom. 1:26, or being “without natural affection,” Rom. 1:31; 2 Tim. 3:3).

Same Sex Attraction is a “Vile Affection

Homosexual desire is not analogous to heterosexual desire. Man desiring woman is not sinful in itself because that is the way God made men (Gen. 2:18; 3:16). Man desiring man is sinful in itself because it is not the way God made men, so Scripture calls it “vile affections” (Rom. 1:26). Heterosexual desire is often sinful because it is misdirected in a particular or excessive way (e.g. toward a particular woman who is not one’s spouse), not because it is sinful in essence; but homosexual desire is sinful in its very essence, just as pedophile or bestial desires are. Whether homosexual proclivity is innate in some people or acquired, the proclivity itself is “against nature” (Rom. 1:26) and must be repented of. This is not true of heterosexual proclivity, which is natural and good by God’s design.

The affection for the opposite sex is a natural and good inclination of the human mind, because that is how God made men and women (Gen. 2:18; 3:16). The affection for the same sex is an “unnatural” and “vile affection” (Rom. 1:26) of the human mind because it militates against God’s design for human sexuality. Same sex attraction is sinful in itself while opposite sex attraction is not.

Opposite sex attraction only becomes sinful in two ways: 1) when the passions are aroused in an excessive way, what the Bible calls “inordinate affection” or “evil concupiscence” (Col. 3:5), or 2) when it is misdirected to an inappropriate particular object, such as toward a particular woman who is not one’s spouse (Deut. 5:21; Ex. 20:17). It is not sinful in the abstract, nor when husbands and wives are attracted to each other, but same sex attraction can never be lawful in any circumstance.

Concupiscence is “Lust; unlawful or irregular desire of sexual pleasure. In a more general sense, the coveting of carnal things, or an irregular appetite for worldly good; inclination for unlawful enjoyments…’sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence.’ Romans 7:8.” [7]

“There is a difference in saying ‘I have this propensity, but I believe it is wrong’ and saying ‘I have this propensity and I believe it’s alright.’”

Matt Moore on Being Gay and a Christian but Says it’s a Sin

Sin is in the Heart, Not Just the Actions

Sin is not exclusive to the actions. Evil deeds and thoughts proceed from the heart (Mat. 15:18-19; Jer. 17:9; Mat. 7:16-18). Not only are our deeds sinful, the thoughts and desires are sinful as well. “The Law is spiritual” (Rom. 7:14), “and so reacheth the understanding, will, affections, and all other powers of the soul; as well as words, works, and gestures (Deut. 6:5; Mat. 22:37-39; Mat. 5:27-28, 33-34, 37-39, 43-44)” (WLC Q. 99). The seventh commandment requires “chastity in body, mind, affections, words, and behavior (1 Thess. 4:4; Job 31:1; 1 Cor. 7:34; Col. 4:6; 1 Pet. 3:2)” (WLC Q. 138) and forbids “all unclean imaginations, thoughts, purposes, and affections (Mat. 5:28; Mat. 15:19; Col. 3:5)” (WLC Q. 139), it is not restricted to outward behavior. If someone desires to have sex with children or animals they are still sinning even if they don’t physically act on it. This is true for every other sin as well.

Jesus corrected the false teaching of the Pharisees that sin was only in the actions and not also in the heart. Unrighteous anger is a sin of the 6th commandment and is murder of the heart (Mat. 5:21-22). Lusting after a woman who is not your spouse is a sin of the 7th commandment and is adultery of the heart (Mat. 5:27-28; Job 31:1). “Inordinate affection” and “evil concupiscence” (Col. 3:5)  are sins of the desires and of the mind. Part of being in Christ is to crucify “the flesh with the affections and lusts” (Galatians 5:24), not just the external actions. All of this is true for the sin of homosexuality as well.

Same Sex Attraction Needs to be Repented of

Having SSA does not necessarily mean that someone is reprobate, but a regenerate heart will be struggling against it, not embracing and identifying oneself by it; crying out to God for repentance from it, not making excuses for it. Christians who are attracted to the same sex must recognize that that attraction is sinful, turn away from it, and strive to mortify it by the sanctification of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:13).

In order to kill our flesh, we need to get to the root, our hearts (Mat. 7:16-20), where sinful sexual desires begin. In the case of homosexuality, sinful desires begin with the sin of same sex attraction. One must believe that his or her sinful desires are in fact sinful and beg God for the grace to repent from them and mortify them. How long that takes and the degree of success is up to God and that individual, it may not happen instantly, and it won’t happen completely in this life until we are perfected in glory (1 Cor. 15:54).

Celibacy, refraining from homosexual acts, is not enough, we must “cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1).

That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24).

For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God:” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5).

But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” (Romans 13:14).

Claiming that SSA is merely a temptation or a morally neutral “brokenness” from the Fall is unbiblical, deceptive, and eternally dangerous for the souls who struggle with this particular sin. Soothing same sex attracted people’s consciences by telling them that it’s just a “broken condition” or merely a temptation and not sinful unless they act on it is only going to damn them to Hell. They need to be admonished to cry out to God for repentance!

“From the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely. They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace. Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the Lord. Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.
‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭6:13-16‬ ‭



[1] What Do You Think? Has the PCA acquiesced to pro-homosexual ideology? by Chuck Williams.

[2] Statement at General Synod (video clip).

[3] Sam Allberry, White Horse Inn, Same-Sex Attraction, Sunday, 27 Sep 2015.

[4] Committee on Judicial Business (CJB) of an unnamed Presbytery in the PCA; What Do You Think? Has the PCA acquiesced to pro-homosexual ideology? by Chuck Williams.

[5] Webster’s Dictionary (1828), Temptation.

[6] Webster’s Dictionary (1828), Affection.

[7] Webster’s Dictionary (1828), Concupiscence.


See also Transforming Homosexuality: What the Bible Says about Sexual Orientation and Change by Denny Burke and Heath Lambert

Four Propositions on Homosexuality and Holiness by Rick Phillips

Sin, Salvation, Same-Sex Attraction by Jonathan Williams

Is Homosexual Orientation Sinful? by Denny Burke

Does The Gospel Coalition Believe in the Heinousness of Homosexuality? by Rev. Shawn Mathis

Judge Everything – by John MacArthur

False teachers flourish where there is no scrutiny. That’s why so many of them set up camp in environments where there is little to no biblical discernment—where God’s Word is nothing more than a supplement to personal experience, anecdote, and embellishment.

Why do the heavy lifting of careful Bible study when one can simply “let go” and be drawn into the gravitational pull of a religious guru? Our short attention span and quick-fix culture is easily preyed upon by charismatic sideshows, feel-good philosophy, and the television hucksters of modern pseudo-Christianity.  

But we are derelict in our Christian duty if we allow that to happen to us and our churches. When the apostle Paul says to “examine everything” (1 Thessalonians 5:21), he is calling on all Christians to practice careful biblical discernment in all realms of life.

That may surprise some Christians who see discernment as uniquely a pastoral responsibility. It is certainly true that pastors and elders have an even greater duty to be discerning than the average layperson. Most of the calls to discernment in the New Testament are issued to church leaders (1 Timothy 4:6-7, 13, 16; Titus 1:9). Every elder is required to be skilled in teaching truth and able to refute unsound doctrine.

As a pastor, I am constantly aware of this responsibility. Everything I read, for example, goes through a grid of discrimination in my mind. If you were to look through my library, you would instantly be able to identify which books I have read. The margins are marked. Sometimes you’ll see approving remarks and heavy underlining. Other times you’ll find question marks—or even red lines through the text. I constantly strive to separate truth from error. I read that way, I think that way, and of course I preach that way. My passion is to know the truth and proclaim it with authority. That should be the passion of every elder, because everything we teach affects the hearts and lives of those who hear us. It is an awesome responsibility. Any church leader who does not feel the burden of this duty ought to step down from leadership.

But discernment is not only the duty of pastors and elders. The same careful discernment Paul demanded of pastors and elders is also the duty of every Christian. First Thessalonians 5:21 is written to the entire church: “Examine everything carefully.”

The Greek text is by no means complex. The word “carefully” has been added by the translators to make the sense clear. If we translate the phrase literally, we find it simply says, “Examine everything.” But the idea conveyed by our word carefully is included in the Greek word translated “examine,” dokimazō. This is a familiar word in the New Testament. Elsewhere it is translated “analyze,” “test,” or “prove.” It refers to the process of testing something to reveal its genuineness, such as in the testing of precious metals. Paul is urging believers to scrutinize everything they hear to see that it is genuine, to distinguish between the true and the false, to separate the good from the evil. In other words, he wants them to examine everything critically. He is effectively saying, “Judge everything.”

Typically someone will be quick to push back against that command citing Matthew 7:1: “Judge not, that you be not judged.” As if that somehow rules out any kind of critical or analytical appraisal of what others believe. Was Jesus forbidding Christians from judging what is taught in His name?

Obviously not. The spiritual discernment Paul calls for is different from the judgmental attitude Jesus forbade. In Matthew 7, Jesus went on to say,

For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:2–5)

What Jesus condemned was the hypocritical judgment of those who held others to a higher standard than they themselves were willing to live by. He was certainly not suggesting that all judgment is forbidden. In fact, Jesus indicated that taking a speck out of your brother’s eye is the right thing to do—if you first get the log out of your own eye.

Elsewhere in Scripture, we are forbidden to judge others’ motives or attitudes. We are not able to discern “the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). That is a divine prerogative. Only God can judge the heart, because only God can see it (1 Samuel 16:7). He alone knows the secrets of the heart (Psalm 44:21). He alone can weigh the motives (Proverbs 16:2). And He alone “will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus” (Romans 2:16). That is not our role. “Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart” (1 Corinthians 4:5).

What is forbidden is hypocritical judging and judging others’ thoughts and motives. But other forms of judgment are explicitly commanded. Throughout Scripture the people of God are urged to judge between truth and error, right and wrong, good and evil. Jesus said, “Judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24). Paul wrote to the Corinthian believers, “I speak as to wise men; you judge what I say” (1 Corinthians 10:15). Clearly, God requires us to be discriminating when it comes to matters of sound doctrine.

We are also supposed to judge one another with regard to overt acts of sin. Paul wrote, “Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. ‘Remove the wicked man from among yourselves’” (1 Corinthians 5:12–13). That speaks of the same process of discipline outlined by Jesus Himself in Matthew 18:15-20.

At least one other kind of judgment is expressly required of every believer. We must examine and judge our own selves: “If we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged” (1 Corinthians 11:31). This calls for a careful searching and judging of our own hearts. Paul called for this self-examination every time we partake of the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:28). All other righteous forms of judgment depend on this honest self-examination. That is what Jesus meant when He said, “First take the log out of your own eye” (Luke 6:42).

Clearly, then, the command in 1 Thessalonians 5:21 to “examine everything,” in no way contradicts the biblical prohibition against being judgmental. The discernment called for here is doctrinal discernment. The conjunction at the beginning of this verse—“but examine everything”—ties it to the “prophecies” mentioned in verse 20. But this command would certainly include any message that claimed to carry divine approval or authority.

The unusually gullible Thessalonians seemed to have a problem in this regard. Like many today, they were eager to believe whatever was preached in the name of Christ. They were undiscriminating. That’s why Paul addresses this continual lack of discernment in both of his Thessalonian epistles. There is evidence in the first epistle, for example, that someone had confused the Thessalonians about the return of Christ. They were going through a time of severe persecution, and apparently some of them thought they had missed the Second Coming. In chapter 3 we learn that Paul had sent Timothy from Athens specifically to strengthen and encourage them in their faith (1 Thessalonians 3:2). They were unaccountably confused about why they were being persecuted. Paul had to remind them, “You yourselves know that we have been destined for this. For indeed when we were with you, we kept telling you in advance that we were going to suffer affliction” (1 Thessalonians 3:3-4).

Evidently someone had also taught them that believers who died before the Second Coming of Christ would miss that event entirely. They were in serious confusion. Chapters 4–5 contain Paul’s efforts to correct that confusion. He tells them that the dead in Christ will rise and be caught up with the living (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). And he assures them that although that day will come like a thief in the night (1 Thessalonians 5:2), they need not fear being caught off guard (1 Thessalonians 5:3-6). 

Incredibly, shortly after this, Paul had to write a second epistle, again assuring the Thessalonians that they had not missed some great event on the prophetic calendar. Someone, it seems, had sent them a counterfeit epistle claiming to be from Paul and suggesting that the day of the Lord had come already. They should not have been duped by such a ploy because Paul had written so plainly in his first epistle. He wrote them again:

Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, that you be not quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one in any way deceive you. (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3)

There was no excuse for their chronic gullibility.

Why were they so vulnerable to false teaching? Surely it was because they lacked biblical discernment. The Thessalonians did not examine everything in light of God’s Word. If they had, they would not have been so easily hoodwinked. And that is why Paul urged them to “examine everything.”

(Adapted from Fool’s Gold)

The ‘Breakthrough’ Gospel?

Is there a new ‘gospel’ on the street? Listening to much of evangelical Protestantism one might think so. ‘Breakthrough’ teaching/preaching is all the rage these days, and has been for a couple of years now. But is it new? This blogger would give you an emphatic “NO!” answer. It’s been around for decades, first in a relatively small charismatic/Pentecostal sector of Christianity but now all over the evangelical landscape.

This post mentions a specific ministry only because this ministry promotes the ‘breakthrough’ gospel. There are many more ministries teaching the same thing as this one does. I won’t give you a list of the others – it’s too long and would distract from the purpose of this post – to inform the reader and promote further individual Berean style research.

Read on. . . .

While on Facebook the other day I received a “Suggested Post” from Nina Keegan Ministries that said this:

“IT’S TIME FOR A MAJOR BREAKTHROUGH! GOD IS AT WORK.. WATCH NOW AND LEARN MORE… GOD BLESS YOU!”

As I am prone to do, especially with the veritable plethora of ‘Christian’ posts promoting what can rightly be called the “Breakthrough Gospel”, I went all ‘Columbo’ (think short cigar smoking detective in a rumpled trench coat), and asked a question even before listening to the podcast:

Me:

image

Nina Keegan Ministries reply:

image

I found the above response to my question very interesting because neither passage teaches receiving personal ‘breakthroughs’, however I suppose you can superimpose that thought over the text (this is called eisegesis), and itching ears will perk up and applauding comments abound.

In our 1 John passage, John is stating the purpose of his writing ‘that we may know we have eternal life (the believer’s assurance). He then counsels his readers that if they pray ‘according to God’s will’ God will respond.

Proverbs 16 is a collection of moral, ethical and spiritual precepts, one of which tells us simply that when we are committed to the Lord and doing his will, our thoughts and plans will find success.

There is nothing in either passage that promises personal breakthroughs in every area of our lives. We are promised a measure of God given success in our endeavors when we are committed to his will and ask according to his will, not our desires.

Then I listened to the podcast and it was even more interesting. The above passages were not even mentioned in the podcast! Here’s the gist of the podcast’s teaching:

That ‘Jesus IS the ‘breakthrough’ was made clear from the beginning of the podcast, in those exact words. I have no issue with that statement, but we need to know what ‘breakthrough’ means. The ladies are quick to tell us:

 According to the Nina and Michelle, it can mean addictions, finances, jobs, relationships – whatever you can think of. Your experiences are ‘proof’? They provided lots of experiences.

If we need a breakthrough, we need only pray the promise then declare and decree it into existence. According to the ladies, that’s what God wants us to do. On our way to receiving the breakthrough concerning the aforementioned addictions, finances, jobs, relationships, etc., we also need to break free from any bad thoughts, or a ‘slave mentality’ like the Israelites had as a result of their bondage in Egypt. It’s only when you are free from a slave mentality that you can declare and decree in faith.

Passages taken out of context:

Php 4:13  I can do all things through him who strengthens me (achieve a desired breakthrough).

That was Paul speaking to the Christians at Philippi, reminding them he had learned to be content in any situation, during hard times and good times. It’s NOT about obtaining personal breakthroughs, as implied by these ladies.

The ladies also trotted out Proverbs 29:18 “Without a vision, the people perish.” quoting the first half a KJV passage that actually says : “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.”

The ESV, and other translations render it more understandable to our non-KJV minds:

Pro 29:18  Where there is no ‘prophetic’ vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.

In other words, where God’s prophets aren’t among God’s people to remind them of the law, they tend to sin more. This passage has absolutely NOTHING to do with needing to have a vision of the ‘breakthroughs’ we desire in order to see them realized!

And of course, according to the ladies, God will supply everything you need for your breakthrough. But you need to also ask yourself “What has God said you are going to do and you haven’t done it?” This seemed to be about small steps God is telling you to climb on the way to your big breakthrough.

That brings us to their real reason we should all be experiencing breakthroughs in our lives………..wait for it………. Are you ready?

Jesus went to the Cross, and gave up his life for OUR breakthroughs! That’s right! It’s right there in Isaiah 53, and here’s the ‘irrefutable’ logic:

1. Jesus received 39 stripes/lashes.

2. There are 39 major diseases/disease categories.

3. Physical healing is therefore available for every believer as part of the atonement.

4. Since we need all sorts of healing (from addictions, poor finances, bad jobs, bad relationships, etc.), our breakthroughs were ALSO part of the atonement!

First of all, the 39 stripes = 39 diseases theory has no basis in scripture, although it’s been trotted out for years to prove we could have perpetual divine health in this life. In fact, we are not told in scripture how many lashes Jesus received. We can surmise that it was either 39 or 40 because 40 was the maximum allowed by Roman law. Sometimes the counting stopped at 39 to make sure the law was not broken due to miscounting.

Furthermore, that there are 39 major diseases/disease categories has no basis in science other than a single mention in an AMA journal by one doctor. I was able (with the help of Goggle) to find estimates of 10, 17, and 22 disease categories, with 22 being preeminent in medical journals.

So let’s take a look at the passage in Isaiah that tells us “by his stripes we are healed”:

But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes (wounds) we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4-5 (NKJV)

The obvious referent for the ‘stripes’ mentioned at the end of the passage is ‘our transgressions’, or sins. Physical healing and personal breakthroughs are NOT reasons Christ died.

As the Apostle Paul stated:

3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures…” (emphasis mine).

Physical healing from all diseases in this life was never part of the atonement, and neither are personal ‘breakthroughs’. The teaching that they are is pure poppycock, balderdash, rubbish (take your pick).

The ladies concluded their podcast by declaring and decreeing breakthroughs for everyone watching, no matter what the need. The comments section was full of ‘Amens’ from those whose itching ears were satisfactorily scratched. If they decreed it for you and it doesn’t happen it’s your fault h for not having a vision, not taking the little steps God is telling you to take, or for not declaring decreeing it yourself, with sufficient faith of course. This is classic Word of Faith heresy.

So what? What’s wrong with people feeling good about the possibility of ‘breaking through’ – of having hope for the future? Nothing at all, unless of course it’s false hope.

I wonder how many have believed for their breakthroughs, decreeing and declaring until they were blue in the face, never saw them realized and gave up on their faith. How many have thought their personal desires were also God’s specific desire their lives? No doubt, some are, and some are legitimate needs. Some are nothing more than wants.

Are we to ignore the examples in scripture that seem to tell us we don’t always get what we want? Paul and his thorn in the flesh comes to mind. He prayed three times to have it removed but God taught him that His grace is sufficient.

At the end of the day, Christ’s death was all about our sin. If we experience blessing in our lives as a result of believing in Christ for forgiveness of our sin, it’s an outcome. The ‘breakthrough’ gospel is NO gospel at all. The same Apostle that clearly defined the gospel also had something rather harsh concerning those who would preach a different gospel:

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. Galatians 1:8 (Paul)

Perhaps someone you know has been enticed by this breakthrough gospel that has flooded evangelicalism. Perhaps you have at one time, maybe under another name. I know I did. Let this post be an encouragement to you and if it is, pass it on.

I rest my case. . . .

Go read! Kim Riddlebarger on the Man of Sin

This is a really interesting article based on a book by Kim Riddlebarger. The link to the original article “666 and the Mark of the Beast” is at the bottom of the post.

Pilgrim’s Progress revisited - Christiana on the narrow way


Dr. Riddlebarger’s article is the kind that involves “thinking along with the author.” 

Revelation 13

NASB
The Beast from the Sea

13 And the dragon stood on the sand of the seashore.

Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns were ten diadems, and on his heads were blasphemous names.And the beast which I saw was like a leopard, and his feet were like those of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority.I saw one of his heads as if it had been slain, and his fatal wound was healed. And the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast;they worshiped the dragon because he gave his authority to the beast; and they…

View original post 704 more words