“The Bleeding of the Evangelical Church” by David Wells

“Twenty-five years ago, evangelicals were outside the religious establishment. That establishment was made up principally of the mainline denominations. But today evangelicals have become the religious establishments, however informally. But despite this, I believe that today we are in some peril. We have a fight on our hands and what we’re fighting for is our evangelical soul, for it is possible for us to gain the whole religious world while losing our own souls. I do not say this because I am one of those who thinks that the best is always what is in the past, that we are always in a state of decline, and that if we want to think of a golden age we have to think of something that is behind us. I do not think that way at all. In some ways we, today, are better off than we were twenty-five years ago. Perhaps a lot better off. And yet in spite of that, I believe there are matters within the evangelical world today which are seriously amiss.”

Read the rest of the article here. You won’t be disappointed.

SUICIDE AND THE SAINT

There has been a bit of speculation concerning this of late. . .

SUICIDE AND THE SAINT

Scanned and edited from the writings of A.W. Pink by Michael Jeshurun

“And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains: Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones. But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped Him, And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, Thou Son of the most high God? I adjure Thee by God, that Thou…

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Are you truly saved?

This is a chapter from, “Boldly Contending as a Military Chaplain,” which was written by Sonny Hernandez. When I found this article, I ordered the book. Caution: Not for the weak hearted.

American Evangelicalism is a dark ominous cloud on the horizon. It is a belief that embodies everything that is not orthodox Christianity, because it disregards holiness for happiness, substitutes the Gospel for gimmicks, exchanges theology for theatrics, disregards evangelism for entertainment, replaces overseers with opinions, embraces palatable, innocuous stories in lieu of powerful inspiring sermons, and does not promote sound churches, but social clubs. The delusion and superstition of American Evangelicalism will never liberate anyone from the retribution of God. Why? It is a truncated gospel that will never deliver, only deceive, and will never produce faithful servants, only false converts.

There are incalculable amounts of professing Christians that are in danger of false assurance. False assurance is walking the aisle at church and offering the lip service of magical prayers (asking Jesus into your heart), romancing Bible verses, oversimplifying the Gospel, and relying on the freedom of the will as a means of salvation. When professing Christians are encompassed by false teachers, rely on traditional conceits, and they embrace everything that syncretism offers, they must be warned that regeneration only comes from the Spirit, not superstition (John 6:63-66). This article will provide several questions for professing Christians to examine their lives to see if they are truly born again. Charles Spurgeon provides an invaluable injunction that will articulate genuine and false conversion:

Beware, I pray thee, of presuming that thou art saved. If thy heart be renewed, if thou shalt hate the things that thou didst once love, and love the things that thou didst once hate; if thou hast really repented; if there be a thorough change of mind in thee; if thou be born again, then hast thou reason to rejoice: but if there be no vital change, no inward godliness; if there be no love to God, no prayer, no work of the Holy Spirit, then thy saying “I am saved” is but thine own assertion, and it may delude, but it will not deliver thee.[1]

1.) Do you earnestly desire God?

The Bible provides a regulated commandment to love the Lord (Deuteronomy 10:12). If a professing Christian is truly in love with God, he or she will passionately cry out in fear of God to know and praise Him with joyful lips, and be clothed in humility when yielding and submitting themselves before the tribunal God of Scripture. Authentic love for God is when a believer prays without ceasing that God would forebear the executions of His wrath, and their life exhibits prayer, supplications, and lamentations for lost sinners. Authentic love for God will produce a vehement belief that the Spirit, which propels the Word of God, will strike a penetrating conviction in the soul to cause a believer to hate sin, yield to the peaceable fruits of righteousness, and be radically obsessed with love for the Law of God because they meditate and memorize daily. According to the apostle Paul: If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Our Lord, come (1 Corinthians 16;22)!

Most professing Christians will profess love for God. Notwithstanding a profession of love, professing Christians must offer more than just lip service. There must be evidence of salvation (2 Corinthians 13:5)! Without evidence of salvation, a professing Christian has nothing to measure their Christianity upon. On the Day of Judgment, if God were to ask professing Christians if they love Him, and they respond by saying: “yes Lord, you know I love you,” but their life does not reflect evidence of salvation, what will be the final disposition for professing Christians on that Great Day? Here are tenable questions that should motivate professing Christians to examine their lives for fruits of salvation:

1. If you say you love God, then why do you spend more time on Facebook than your face in His book?

2. If you say you love God, then why do you have over five hundred text messages and over one thousand minutes on your cell phone every month and yet you have no time in prayer? It’s obvious what lord you serve!

3. If you say you love God, then why do you pay money to be entertained with movies that slander His Name and espouse all of the things He hates?

4. If you say you love God, then how come you never tell anyone (evangelize) about Him?

Counterfeit love for God is a revolting practice that must be admonished. It is not uncommon to hear many professing Christians treat God like He exists in a prescriptive medicine bottle, because they believe all they have to do when they are feeling bad is take their eight hundred milligrams of God to feel better. It is not uncommon to hear many professing Christians twist Scripture when they share Jeremiah 29:11 on social media, and ask all their friends to share with everyone they know to receive a blessing. This type of garbled claptrap must be rejected by telling them: God is not your prescriptive medicine, He is not your genie in a bottle, and He is not your fairy godmother. He is your Lord!

It is also not uncommon for many professing Christians to believe in a liberal Jesus, whose only attribute is love, and looks just like Fabio or a member of an effeminate boy-band, from the many egregious paintings that portray Him. Sadly, there are many professing Christians that believe Christ will return on the Second Coming by coming out of the clouds, riding a pony, and wearing a red t-shirt that says free hugs. This false, liberal Jesus is not the savior, but Satan, because when Christ returns, He will be riding a white horse with His robe dipped in blood. He will rule the nations with a rod of iron, dash them to pieces like the potter’s vessel, and tread the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of the almighty God to wage vengeance on those who do not obey the Gospel (Psalm 2; Revelation 19:11-15; 2 Thessalonians 1:8). Professing Christians must count all things as loss for the surpassing worth of knowing Christ (Philippians 3:8), and embrace the Lord for who He is. The Westminster Longer Catechism (question 7) provides a biblical teaching lesson on the attributes of God:

Question: What is God?
A. God is a Spirit, (
John 4:24) in and of himself infinite in being,(Exodus 3:14) glory,(Acts 7:2) blessedness,(1 Timothy 6:15), and perfection;(Matthew 5:48) all-sufficient,(Genesis 17:1) eternal,(Psalm 90:2) unchangeable,(Malachi 3:6) incomprehensible,(1 Kings 8:27) everywhere present,(Psalm 139:1-13) almighty,(Revelation 4:8) knowing all things,(Hebrews 4:13) most wise,(Romans 16:27) most holy,(Isaiah 6:3) most just,(Deuteronomy 32:4) most merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.(Exodus 34:6)

2.) Are you passionate about church?

Church membership is a vital doctrine. Professing Christians must be subjugated under the headship of Christ (Ephesians 5:23), subservient to local church elders (Hebrews 13:17), able to provide offerings (1 Corinthians 16:2), never neglect meeting with the saints (Hebrews 10:25), devote themselves to teachings, prayer, fellowship (Acts 2:42), and faithfully observing the Sabbath and keeping it holy (Exodus 20:8-11). If professing Christians willfully neglect the aforementioned commands from Scripture, they must be reminded that Jesus said: “If you love me, keep my commands” (John 14:15). If professing Christians do not obey Christ, then His Word calls them liars (1John 2:4).

It is imperative that local churches teach on church membership. In the current culture, youth are being deceived into accepting a gospel-less, soft-peddling church slogans that are not the Gospel, but gimmicks such as: “come as you are,” “dress casual,” “contemporary music,” “love God love people,” “hate sin and love the sinner.” Instead of trying to woo the youth to attend church or stir their emotions, a message must be sent that can actually save: “repent and believe in the Gospel” (Mark 1:15).

What happens when the youth are not taught about the importance of church membership? They will attend church because their friends attend, or because it pleases their mom and dad, grandpa or grandma, or because they want to meet friends. The youth must be taught: “you do not attend church because of your friends; you attend church because of God.” “You do not attend church because it pleases your parents or grandparents; you attend church because it pleases God.” “You do not attend church because you desire friends; you attend church because you need to desire God.” Sadly, it is quite possible that many youth are taught poor examples of church membership because of their parents. Here is an example: when parents become exhilarated over the “day after thanksgiving sale” where they have to wake up earlier than normal, but on the day of church, their bed becomes a mixed martial arts arena or boxing ring, because they literally have to fight with themselves just to get out of bed to make it to church on time. These types of parents do not attend church because they want to be godly and dignified, but rather a good deed. They do not care about being sound and Christ-centered, but rather to sooth their Christian conscience. This is why church membership is important.

3.) Is authentic worship important to you?

What is authentic worship? Christians are called to bow down to Him (Psalm 95:6), worship at His footstool (Psalm 99:5), proclaim His Name (Psalm 105:1), ascribe to Him the glory due His Name, worship in the Splendor of His holiness (1 Chronicles 16:28, 29) with reverence and awe (Hebrews 12:28-29), and fear God and give Him the glory (Revelation 14:7). The 1689 London Baptist Confession provides a summarization of the faith, an affirmation of worship, a teaching outline, and a guard against apostasy that will amplify a professing Christian’s comprehension on worship:

The light of nature shows that there is a God who has dominion and sovereignty over all.  He is just and good, and He does good to all.  He is therefore to be feared, loved, praised, invoked, trusted and served by men with all their heart and soul and strength.  But the only acceptable way of worshipping the true God is appointed by Himself, in accordance with His own will.  Consequently He may not be worshipped in ways of mere human contrivance, or proceeding from Satan’s suggestions. Visible symbols of God, and all other forms of worship not prescribed in the Holy Scripture, are expressly forbidden (Exod. 20:4-6; Deut. 12:32; Jer. 10:7; Mark 12:33).[2]

There are myriads of professing Christians that are culpable of worshipping God in a manner which He has not commanded or prescribed. Many will worship Him based on personal experiences, tradition, musical preferences, modern consensus, or by other means devised by human ingenuity that is undoubtedly carnal fiction. God will condemn fabricated worship that is defiled with imagination or devices of men. When Nadab and Abihu offered an unauthorized worship before God which He had not commanded: fire came out from before the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord (Leviticus 10:2). According to John Calvin: “Those who set up a fictitious worship, merely worship and adore their own delirious fancies; indeed, they would never dare so to trifle with God, had they not previously fashioned him after their own childish conceits.”[3] This is why it is imperative to remind professing Christians: it does not matter what you like in worship, it matters what God commands.

It is condemned in Scripture as gross idolatry when God is not the object of worship, or when God is worshiped in a manner that is cultivated by human invention. When carnal people feel that children need to find a church where they can meet friends their age, music, and programs they like, or a cool youth pastor who can relate to them just because they wear dingy pants, plaid shirts, nerd glasses, have spiked hair, show off tattoos, or use juvenile vernacular, they need to be reminded: none of those things can strengthen a child’s faith, because they are fiction. They can never save because they are sinful. God does not command any of those trifling and obstinate practices.

Objections: Here are some additional objections that professing Christians commonly make when it comes to worshipping God as He commands (i.e., Regulative Principles), and also cogent responses:

  • Objection:“I was not raised in a church that worshiped this way. I did not worship like this in my last church.”

Response: He is not the God of your idle traditions. He is the absolute sovereign God of Scripture. The Pharisees loved their tradition that nullified Scripture, but Jesus did not (Matthew 15:1-20).

  • Objection: “I need a worship pastor who can stir my emotions and put me in the mood to worship.”

Response: is the incomprehensible grandeur & supremacy of God not good enough for you (Psalm 72:24-28)?

  • Objection: “We need to change our worship so we can attract the youth.”

Response: you will not find such a commandment in Scripture which corroborates the fact that it is you who needs changing because the youth do not direct worship, God almighty does (Exodus 20:1-6).

  • Objection: “I want to sing a song that reminds me of: grandpa, grandma, mom, dad, someone I love, or a time in my life that is most memorable.”

Response: it is called nostalgia when you embrace a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past; it is called idolatry when you sing these songs in church because your emotions have replaced the incommunicable attributes of God as the object of worship (Exodus 20:1-6).

  • Objection: “I want to hear a worship pastor who is talented in singing, or else I will not attend your church.”

Response: you must not have read the sign outside that said church, not a talent show.

  • Objection: “If we do not get our worship pastor that we like, we are leaving.”

Response: it is better to lose people than lose God, and it is better to offend you than offend God (Proverbs 1:25-29).

The Bible commands believers to worship in spirit and truth (John 4:24). In public and private worship of God, there must be exaltation, not entertainment. Professing Christians must embrace Christ-centeredness, not childish conceits, and they must focus on the fear of God, not fun and gimmicks. Even when there is contention in the church over worship methodologies, professing Christians must worship as God commands, and not because goats complain! The 1689 London Baptist Confession provides a biblical example:

The reading of the Scripture, the preaching and hearing of the Word of God, the instructing and admonishing of one another by means of psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with heartfelt thankfulness to the Lord, the observance of baptism and the Lord’s supper-these are all parts of divine worship to be performed obediently, intelligently, faithfully, reverently, and with godly fear.  Moreover, on special occasions, solemn humiliation, fastings, and thanksgivings ought to be observed in a holy and reverential manner (Exod. 15:1-19; Esther 4:16; Ps. 107; Joel 2:12; Matt. 28:19, 20; Luke 8:18; 1 Cor. 11:26; Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; 1 Tim. 4:13; 2 Tim. 4:2).[4]

4.) What is the standard of truth in your life to measure conduct?

The Holy Scripture is unequivocally the only source and substance of truth. His Word alone is perfect and pure (Psalm 19:7-8), proven true (Proverbs 30:5-6), stands forever (Isaiah 40:7-8), never returns void (Isaiah 55:11), never passes away (Matthew 24:34-35), is breathed out by God (2 Timothy 3:26); believers cannot live without (Mathew. 4:4), and never wrong (Titus 1:2). When a person casts doubt on God’s Word, they are partaking of the same execrable act performed by the Devil in the garden when he said: “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). If a person professes to be a Christian, they must embrace purity and not pollution. Charles Spurgeon provides an analogy of a pig to explain:

If you put on one side of a room a slap up a meal from the best chef in England, and on the other side, a pig trough filled with pig slop and you release a pig in that room, every single time he would go to the pig trough.

Why? Because he’s a pig. It’s what pigs do.

Now, if the pig was supernaturally transformed into a human being, he would not want to eat from the pig trough anymore, he can’t even take pig food without vomiting, and so he’d go to the slap up meal.

Why? Because he’s a human now. He’s not a pig anymore.

There is a disparity between true Christianity and counterfeit Christianity. True Christianity is where a believer yields and submits to Scripture as the sole source of truth that constitutes salvation. Counterfeit Christianity devalues the Bible as a verbose book that has good stories that are emblematic with virtue, but not inerrant. If a person is not subjugated to the Bible, and without a reasonable doubt believes that the Holy Scripture is the infallible Word of God, then here is an important message: you are not a Christian because you have nothing to measure your Christianity upon! This is why no one can deny the truth of Scripture. If someone dares to contend with God’s Word, it is not because the Word of God contradicts itself; it is because the Word of God contradicts them.

What are some common excuses in the church that professing Christians will make to neglect obeying the Scripture? Here are a few examples:

  • “I think we should do it this way.”
  • “At my last church, we have always done it this way.”
  • “When I was a child, we did it this way.”

Responding to unbiblical excuses is important. When someone says: “I think” we should do it this way, remind them that their first problem is that “they think,” and they do not read. When someone lays the axiom about truth based upon an unbiblical tradition and they say: “at my last church” or “when I was a child we always did it this way so this is how it should be done,” it is imperative that they are reminded: that is called an unbiblical tradition, and not unprecedented truth. Taking Scripture out of context, romancing Bible verses, twisting Scripture, and laying the axiom about truth based upon personal experiences or traditions are examples of nullifying God’s Word. This is why the Holy Scripture must be the standard to measure Christian conduct:

All religious controversies are to be settled by Scripture, and by Scripture alone. All decrees of Councils, opinions of ancient writers, and doctrines of men collectively or individually are similarly to be accepted or rejected according to the verdict of the Scripture given to us by the Holy Spirit. In that verdict faith finds its final rest (Mat 22:29,31-32; Acts 28:23; Eph 2:20).[5]

5.) How is holiness evident in your life?

The Holy Scripture patently declares God as holy (1 Samuel 2:2). In the year that King Uzziah died, Isaiah saw a blazing manifestation or theophany of God, and the angels crying out with a loud penetrating voice: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isaiah 6:3). It is impossible to know what holiness is if people rely on their own folklore, melancholy, or other credulous sentiments that are radically inconsequential. Why? They are nothing more than vain repetitions and dreams of human diatribe against the authority of Scripture, and that is the malady to be found which separates false Christianity from the marks of biblical Christian Orthodoxy.

God’s eyes are too pure to approve evil, and He cannot look upon wickedness with favor (Habakkuk 1:13). This means that God cannot have fellowship with anyone who is not regenerate, and the boastful will not stand in His sight because of His hatred against workers of iniquity (Isaiah 5:4-8). How can this be explained? If God gives grace to the humble (James 4:6), sanctifies His people with truth (John 17:17), speaks life into existence (Genesis 1:1-31), denounces self-righteousness (Isaiah 5:21), lies (Exodus 20:16), and division (Romans 16:17-18), then God must hate anything that is antithetical to His Word, as the wisdom literature will explain:

There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers (Proverbs 6:16-19).

Christians are commanded to be holy (Leviticus 20:26), and not be conformed to the passions of their former ignorance (1 Peter 3:13-17). It would be incumbent upon all professing believers to inculcate an understanding of what perfecting holiness in fear of God means (2 Corinthians 7:1), so they can put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted Word which is able to save their souls (James 1:21). Why are these principles important? Charles Spurgeon provides an invaluable response:

Christ will be master of the heart and sin must be mortified. If your life is unholy, then your heart is unchanged, and you are an unsaved person. The Savior will sanctify His people, renew them, give them a hatred of sin, and a love of holiness. The grace that does not make a man better than others is a worthless counterfeit. Christ saves His people, not in their sins, but from their sins. Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord.[6]

It is imperative that professing believers practice holiness. If a professing believer is truly holy, their heart will ache when it devises schemes that are not commensurate with the Law of God, they will have a foul taste in your mouth and their eyes burn with enmity when they see the rampage of sin is prevalent in their life. There are always going to be people laden with iniquity that will provoke the Lord to anger, and they will not practice holiness. They will not petition the outstretched power of God to grant clemency from showering them with hell by the way they conduct themselves. Examples of this would be when professing believers pay money to be entertained with movies that God hates, and by spending all their time watching sports, and not reading any Scripture. How should a Christian hold another professing Christian accountable for such conduct? Here are two ways they can be warned:

  • Self-professing Christians and sports: woe to you when your love for sports supersedes your love for Scripture. Do you not realize that when you abandon Scripture to spend countless hours watching the big game, you will elevate your understanding of players and statistics, but you will never become wise in salvation because you will be nothing more than an illiterate babe that exalts a few hours of entertainment above the commandments of God?
  • Self-professing Christians & movies: when your life exemplifies a person who would rather indulge in a cinematic experience (movies) that entertains and encroaches your carnality, with sensuality, sexual immorality, obscenities, blasphemies, crude joking, and all the things that are detestable to God, rather than amplify your mind and feed your soul with the purity of Scripture that can make you wise in salvation. God knows what Lord you serve. It is not the God who established the heavens and laid the foundation of the earth. It is the false god that is only 30-55 inches that you call a flat screen TV, but God calls a golden calf.

Conclusion

It would be dreadful for any man or woman to be deceived into believing they are saved, and then be condemned to hell as an object of God’s wrath. If a person is truly regenerate, they have become a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), and their life will come to fruition that Christ abides in them (John 15:5). Without evidence of God’s effectual power and steadfast love in drawing a sinner to Himself, and granting the inseparable graces of faith and repentance, then all a person will ever receive is the perpetuity of His wrathful rebukes with a flame of fire and everlasting torment (Isaiah 66:15-16; 24), where Christ will say to them: “I never knew you, depart from me you who practice unrighteousness” (Matthew 7:23). This is why you must:

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test (2 Corinthians 13:5)!

1. “Charles Spurgeon.” AZQuotes.com. Wind and Fly LTD, 2016. 03 May 2016. http://www.azquotes.com/quote/565664

2. See 1689 London Baptist Confession (Chapter 22): Religious Worship, and the Lord’s Day (1)

3. John Calvin and Translated by Henry Beveridge. Institutes of the Christian Religion. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2008, 13.

4. See 1689 London Baptist Confession (Chapter 22): Religious Worship, and the Lord’s Day (5)

5. See 1689 London Baptist Confession (Chapter 1): The Holy Scripture (10)

6. “Charles Spurgeon.” AZQuotes.com. Wind and Fly LTD, 2016. 14 May 2016. http://www.azquotes.com/quote/565712

[Contributed by Sonny Hernandez]

Why I’m Not Overly Excited About the New Christian Movie ‘Overcomer’

I remember when I started seeing advertisements here and there about the Kendrick brothers’ new movie ‘The Overcomer’. I didn’t have the obligatory “I’ve GOT to see it!” feeling then and I don’t now, for reasons that might become clear in this article.

Please don’t hate me,

This morning I saw on Facebook a post from a friend and one of the Chaplains who serves at the chapel we attend here n Colorado. It was a link to an article from The Christian Post titled  ‘”Overcomer’ opens in top 3 at box office, grosses $8.2M”. I read it and clicked the link to a previous CP article about the movie called “’Overcomer’ doesn’t water down the Gospel, still appeals to nonbelievers, filmmakers say”, which I had previously read. There a few bits from both articles I found interesting that I will share with you.

First of all, let me be really clear that I am not condemning the film,, it’s admirable production value., the churches taking busloads to see it, or any individual who  pays to see it on the big screen, especially non-Christians who watch it and become interested in knowing more about Jesus Christ and saving grace as a result.

On to the subject of my  lack of excitement . Also bear in mind that I have not watched the film yet, a cardinal sin worthy of a certain level of condemnation from some of my Christian brethren. At the same time, the fact that a few remarks from these articles caught my attention just might mean that I have been paying attention while engaged in reading the Bible and studying its doctrine.

Since the article about box office results after the grand opening was the first article I read this morning, Keep in mind that I often read these sorts of articles about Christian film productions with the question “Did it/will it present a clear message of the gospel of Jesus Christ?”

The movie’s theme centers around a basketball coach in a manufacturing town who loses his tem when the plant sits down and a lot of people leave town. He ends up coaching a sport he doesn’t even enjoy  and  ends up realizing that his true identity is found in Christ, not in his own accomplishments. The ‘gospel’ moment in the article was this:

“As previously reported, the film does not shy away from the Kendrick brothers’ Christian message and centers around the message of Ephesians 1 and 2, which focuses on identity. The movie includes a scene where the sinner’s prayer is spoken and touches on things like learning how to pray and how to know God.”

That the sinner’s prayer is spoken could be a good thing, if what precedes the praying is an accurate discussion of WHY it needs praying – that all of , until God saves us, ‘dead in our trespasses and sin’ and ‘by nature children of wrath’ , as we are told in the first few chapters of Paul’s  letter to the Ephesians, which seems to be the source of the film’s argument that our true identify is in Christ, not our accomplishments.

The article tells us this:

“As previously reported, the film does not shy away from the Kendrick brothers’ Christian message and centers around the message of Ephesians 1 and 2, which focuses on identity. The movie includes a scene where the sinner’s prayer is spoken and touches on things like learning how to pray and how to know God.

“Satan loves to convince people that they’re the opposite of what Ephesians 1, 2 and 3 say they are,” Alex Kendrick told The Christian Post during a sit-down interview with CP earlier this month. “

While I agree with the above sentiment,  it is nowhere found in the referenced Ephesian text. The actual text focuses on our natural state without Christ , (‘dead in our trespasses and sin’ and ‘by nature children of wrath’ .  Then we wee in the text of Ephesians what are perhaps the most important words in all of scripture “But God……”, followed by a beautiful description of God’s complete sovereignty in the salvation of men, It is God who raises up dead men, makes them alive in Christ , and gives them a new identity.

This new identity in Christ is very real, and the result of God’s intent to save all of his people, through the shed blood of his only Son.. Does ‘Overcomer’ address the ‘dead n trespasses and sin’ and ‘by nature children of wrath’ pieces of the puzzle?

On to the second article, ‘Overcomer’ doesn’t water down the Gospel, still appeals to nonbelievers, filmmakers say, which preceded It preceded report of the film’s opening by a few weeks.

While it provided a more detailed description of the movie’s theme and story line, it also said this:

““There’s a temptation to water down the truth, and the whole time we’ve been very overt and open about what we believe,” Stephen Kendrick said. “This story doesn’t water down the Gospel, and it’s embedded with the truth. We believe, now more than ever, that the Church needs to hear overt truth.”

Stephen Kendrick tells us that ‘there’s a temptation to water down the truth” (very true), and that ““This story doesn’t water down the Gospel”. (It doesn’t?)

“But we also understand the need to go to nonbelievers and communicate biblical truth in like a parable format as Jesus did. We try to package truth in an inspirational story that anybody can relate to. Everybody’s going to be touched by marriage difficulties at one point or another, or the trials that come with losing your identity. So regardless of what you believe, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll enjoy the movie, even if you don’t know the Lord. We try to include the Gospel in all of our movies so that a nonbeliever will hear it and hopefully come to Christ as a result of it.”

We are told that we all have marriage difficulties and trials that come with losing our identities, which is also true,  Then comes the most troubling tidbit (at least for this guy):

“We try to include the Gospel in all of our movies so that a nonbeliever will hear it and hopefully come to Christ as a result of it.”

Doesn’t the Bible tell us that the unbeliever hates God and cannot please Him (Romans 8:7-8),or even understand  spiritual things and considers them foolishness (which the gospel is) (1 Corinthians 2:14)?

Lastly, no unbeliever truly  comes to Christ to ‘rediscover their identity’. There is one, and only one reason to embrace Christ – for the forgiveness of our sins. Jesus died  to fix our sin problem, not our identity crisis. ‘Overcomer’ might be a good movie fort hose who are already believers (like the movie’s main character) and having identity issues, but if it doesn’t discuss the issues of sin and repentance from it for the forgiveness of sins, it’s weak in the proclamation of the gospel. The ‘gospel’ that says Jesus died to solve your identity crisis (or any other temporal problem) can’t save anyone, but it might point them in the right direction.

Are You Plugged In?

That question is directed mostly toward young Christians serving our country in the military. No, I’m not asking if you have an ‘electric’ personality! I’m asking you if you are plugged in to good, Bible believing fellowship, whether it’s a local on-base Chapel, local church, Bible study or fellowship group, or maybe just a good Bible study.

I’m asking because this last weekend I spent some time thinking about the years spent as a Christian serving on active duty in the Army’s Special Forces. How that scenario developed is another story for another time. Suffice it to say that when the Shepherd found the lost sheep and brought him back into the fold, the scenario was already in place, and I knew keeping my faith personal was not an option. But that’s not today’s story either.

This is about the question “Are you plugged in?” I ask you that because not being plugged in to Christian fellowship and Bible study can really stunt spiritual growth. We live in a fallen world surrounded by all sorts of influences detrimental to growing in our shared faith. We are also saddled with what some call a ‘sin hangover’, to use a somewhat crude analogy. It would be great if God just eradicated all of the sinful tendencies we have when we come to believe in Christ, but he doesn’t.

It goes without saying that if we are plugged into ‘power sources’ that can sustain us, we’ll not only be strong, we can be used of God in the furtherance of his Kingdom on earth. It’s the ‘plugging in’ part that I want to talk about. I don’t know about you, but I learned some things that were true when I was on active duty and are true now. They were true when I was single (living in the barracks or separated from my family because of travel), and true when our family was together. They are true now, for a couple of grandparents and empty nesters. Here are a few good principles, or rules to live by, or something in between.

  • Plug in! Connect to 1) on-base Chapel, local church, 2) Bible study or fellowship group, 3) one other believer, or 4) just a good individual Bible study. I would suggest all four, if possible.
  • Don’t wait to get invited to something, take the initiative, whether you are changing duty stations, on temporary duty or on a deployment. It says a lot about you and your desire to keep growing in faith.
  • When introducing yourself to a congregation or small group you visit, keep it simple and offer to serve. Don’t talk a lot about you have served in other places, or you might be considered a divine answer to prayer. Trust me. Be willing to serve, but take it slow.
  • Ask yourself, “Is this church or small group more about serving God, or getting stuff from God.
  • Listen more than you speak. You can learn volumes.
  • Keep a Bible handy and don’t leave home without it!

Just some tips from an old soldier. Experience is a great teacher. I assure you, NOT plugging in is always hazardous to your spiritual health. I also know that there are some of you that might be a bit apprehensive about getting connected when you find yourself in new or unfamiliar territory. CMF can help with that. We maintain a worldwide directory of CMF members, military friendly churches and other military ministries on or near military bases all over the world. There are also Bible study resources available online. Visit our Web page and look around!.

That question is directed mostly toward young Christians serving our country in the military. No, I’m not asking if you have an ‘electric’ personality! I’m asking you if you are plugged in to good, Bible believing fellowship, whether it’s a local on-base Chapel, local church, Bible study or fellowship group, or maybe just a good Bible study.

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Online Source

Hillsong Worship Leader Leaves the Faith

By Pastor Gabe Hughes, The Midwestern Baptist

Recently, author and former megachurch pastor Joshua Harris announced that he had left his wife and the Christian faith. The announcement came in a most 2019 way: via Instagram with a picture of himself brooding over a scenic lake (your typical Pondering Pond photo). Most known for his breakout book I Kissed Dating Goodbye, it was all too easy for a plethora of articles to emerge under the heading “Joshua Harris Kisses Christianity Goodbye.”

Mere days later, Harris was posting pictures of himself at a gay pride event. Some have dared to speculate that Harris’s next big announcement will be to come out of the closet. Gossip aside, it’s clear that Harris does not intend his departure from the faith to be a quiet, contemplative step back. He will capitalize on his own name and the bankability of a star-pastor going rogue, having said he plans to start a podcast about his “journey.” Harris is not a Christian, and he’s proud of it.

Regarding Harris’s apostasy, Toby Logsdon, pastor of New Beginnings Church in Lynnwood, WA, said the following: “Amazing, isn’t it? That anyone could walk away from the Christian faith and feel liberated rather than absolutely terrified. But were it not for God’s grace sustaining our faith and preserving our place in Christ, we would deny Christ as surely and as readily as Peter did.”

With any story of apostasy, we would do well to remember the Spirit’s instruction in Philippians 2:12-13, where the Apostle Paul wrote, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

Harris is not the first high-profile name to leave the faith, and he won’t be the last—as we are being reminded even today. Yet another megachurch star has taken to Instagram to announce he’s no longer a Christian. You may not know the name Marty Sampson, but you know his songs. Marty has been a worship leader with Hillsong and has written or co-written dozens of hits. His praise albums have sold millions of copies, and his worship choruses have tens of millions of views on YouTube.

In a single paragraph on his Instagram (martysamps), Marty said the following:

Time for some real talk… I’m genuinely losing my faith.. and it doesn’t bother me… like, what bothers me now is nothing… I am so happy now, so at peace with the world.. it’s crazy / this is a soapbox moment so here I go xx how many preachers fall? Many. No one talks about it. How many miracles happen. Not many. No one talks about it. Why is the Bible full of contradictions? No one talks about it. How can God be love yet send 4 billion people to a place, all coz they don’t believe? No one talks about it. Christians can be the most judgemental people on the planet – they can also be some of the most beautiful and loving people… but it’s not for me. I am not in any more. I want genuine truth. Not the “I just believe it” kind of truth. Science keeps piercing the truth of every religion. Lots of things help people change their lives, not just one version of God. Got so much more to say, but for me, I keeping it real. Unfollow if you want, I’ve never been about living my life for others. All I know is what’s true to me right now, and Christianity just seems to me like another religion at this point… I could go on, but I won’t. Love and forgive absolutely. Be kind absolutely. Be generous and do good to others absolutely. Some things are good no matter what you believe. Let the rain fall, the sun will come up tomorrow.

It looks like it was written with the grammar and reason of an adolescent who begrudgingly went to youth group because his parents made him. But Marty Sampson is 40 years old, a husband, a father, and a church leader. As with Harris, Marty is “so at peace” with his decision. I would be, too, if the Christianity I had was the flimsy cardboard box Marty had been living in at Hillsong.

Marty says, “How many preachers fall? Many. No one talks about it.” Um, where has he been all summer? For the last two weeks, news of Joshua Harris has consumed evangelical social media. A couple weeks before that, narcissist Mark Driscoll came in on the raft he’s reassembled from the shipwreck of his ministry to make fun of his former beliefs. A month before that, word had spread that Harvest Bible Chapel founder James MacDonald allegedly sought a hitman to murder someone. Shall I go on?

Marty says, “How many miracles happen? Not many. No one talks about it.” Consider where this is coming from—Hillsong is a charismatic megachurch that started in the Assemblies of God, a Pentecostal denomination. They believe tongue-spieling, prophecy-revealing, spirit-feeling, body-reeling, super-healing miracles are going on all the time. Marty has seen through the ruse of charismaticism and recognized this stuff is totally fake. But instead of questioning the Hillsong bubble he was living in, he’s blaming all of Christendom.

Marty says, “Why is the Bible full of contradictions? No one talks about it.” How much has Marty actually tried to find answers for these things? The Bible has not a single contradiction. If at any point we think the Bible contradicts itself, that’s our problem, not God’s. For two thousand years, the church has not lacked teachers able to respond to such criticisms. One of my first WWUTT videos was dispelling the myth that there are contradictions between the four gospels. To say “No one talks about it” is absurdly ignorant.

Marty says, “How can God be love yet send 4 billion people to [hell], all coz they don’t believe? No one talks about it.” Hell is what everyone deserves because all have sinned against God. “But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). There are many teachers who talk about the stuff Marty says no one talks about. Now, it may be true that “no one talks about” hell at Hillsong because it’s an uncomfortable doctrine that will keep people from buying CD’s. Sales will truly drop if they go from singing about happy-go-lucky Jesus to the Jesus who will strike down the nations (see Revelation 19:11-16).

Marty says, “I want genuine truth. Not the ‘I just believe it’ kind of truth.” That may be a picture of what Marty encountered at Hillsong. Maybe he tried to ask questions about these things, but the depth of the answers he got was “I just believe it.” We as Christians are instructed to grow in the knowledge of God through the Bible. The Apostle Paul told the Colossians to be “bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:10). In Christ we find “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3), and we are to “put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator” (Col. 3:10).

Hillsong is not the place to find knowledge. One of their own pastors, Carl Lentz, was asked by Oprah, “Do you believe that only Christians can be in relationship with God?” Lentz replied, “No. I believe that when Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life,’ the way I read that, he’s the road-marker.” What on earth does that mean? No wonder Marty has had trouble finding “genuine truth.” Jesus said, “Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice” (John 18:37). If genuine truth is what Marty wants, he must turn to Jesus and away from Hillsong.

Marty says, “Science keeps piercing the truth of every religion,” which is just his way of saying, “I’m a natural-minded man who can’t discern spiritual things” (see 1 Corinthians 2:14). Marty says, “Lots of things help people change their lives, not just one version of God.” This is the fruit of Lentz’s reply to Oprah. Jesus is not a life-improvement plan. He’s the only way to God, the forgiveness of sins, and the resurrection from the dead!

If this is Marty Sampson’s farewell letter to Christianity, then all he reveals here is that he was never a Christian in the first place. We read in 1 John 2:19, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.”

There are many who scoff at the idea that a former believer didn’t really believe in the first place. But just take Marty at his own words. In his song Elohim, he wrote, “I stand upon the solid rock of faith in Christ,” and “I know my hope shall last.” Apparently that was a lie. In the song One Thing, Marty wrote, “One thing I desire, one thing I seek, to gaze upon your beauty.” The bridge goes, “I will seek your face, call upon your name, Jesus, all I want is you.” But Marty is no longer seeking Christ and is not calling on His name. It cannot be that Jesus was all he wanted.

The chorus of the song goes, “Lord your name is higher than the heavens, Lord your name is higher than all created things.” That’s certainly true, but it wasn’t for Marty. How could a person believe with all his heart in the greatest truth that could ever be known, and then turn around and call it a lie? Such a thing would be impossible. The truth of God cannot be denied by those who have truly beheld its power. Marty did not have faith—he had a passing opinion. He never truly believed the name of Jesus is the name above all names. If he did, he’d be falling on his face in fear of his unbelief, not comfortably musing, “I am so happy now, so at peace with the world.”

Marty says, “I’ve never been about living my life for others.” Now, Marty what means is that the opinions of others regarding his newly minted apostasy are not going to change his mind. But unfortunately, this is, like Joshua Harris’s confession, an unapologetic statement of pride. That’s exactly who Marty is living for—he is living for himself.

His closing words are equally sad and ironic: “Let the rain fall, the sun will come up tomorrow.” When the Apostle Paul rebuked some of the Corinthians for not believing in the resurrection of Jesus, he said, “If the dead are not raised, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die'” (1 Corinthians 15:32). Without hope in the resurrection of Christ, we have no hope at all. Marty is conceding to the purposeless of life apart from Jesus, whether or not Marty is aware that’s what he just confessed.

Our hearts should break when we hear of stories like Joshua Harris and Marty Sampson. They no doubt have family members whose hearts are also breaking. The day of judgment will be most dreadful for the one who heard the truth, even shared the truth, and yet did not believe it themselves. That is a frightening thing to consider. May none of us ever be too proud, but may we submit to our Father in heaven with fear and trembling. Pray for one another, that we may stand strong in a time of trial. “Keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18).

We worship a good God, and without His grace none of us would be saved. Draw near to Him, cling all the more to Christ, who has sealed us with His Holy Spirit for the day of redemption. Philippians 1:6 says, “I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

“God wants to choose YOU!”

The above statement is from a recent Facebook post with a link to a message presented at one of a mega-church’s many campuses by a young enthusiastic pastor. The FB post included a short excerpt from the actual message and invited the reader to listen to it in its entirety.

When I first read “God wants to choose YOU!” my immediate thought was:

“God WANTS to choose you?”

I didn’t remember anything in scripture that says, or implies, that  God ‘wants/wanted’ to choose anything or anyone. My second thought was this:

“God wants to choose YOU, but . . . . .”

But ‘what’? How many times has any one of us had an experience something like “I wanted to buy such and such, but. . . .” There’s always a ‘but’, isn’t there? I wanted to hear the young preacher’s ‘but’, although I suspected an end of sermon invitation of some sort. So I listened to the entire sermon. I also had a pleasant FB conversation with the gentleman who posted the invitation.

On to the message. It was based primarily on a single passage, 1 Peter 2:9:

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (NKJV)

The pastor then presented a lot of truth from scripture concerning salvation, grace, and the fact that the only thing we bring to our own salvation is SIN. It was really good!

At the same time, he suggested that Peter’s theme in the letter was to persuade/convince the elect exiles of their identity as believers, as if maybe they weren’t sure, or had doubts. I would disagree with that. Peter was reminding them of who they were and proceeded to encourage them to persevere through suffering. I base my disagreement on having studied both of Peter’s letters recently in an adult Bible Study using John MacArthur’s study guide, and multiple commentaries I consulted as the leader of our small group.

Back to my immediate thoughts concerning the thought “God wants to choose YOU, but. . .”

But what? God can’t just choose for himself whomever he wants and make it happen? He is God, after all. Well, he could, but before he chooses, something else has to happen? What might that be?

While the young pastor didn’t specifically include a “but” at the end of his key assertion, the clear implication is that he meant “but YOU need to do something”. That would be perfectly consistent with the thought by many, if not most evangelicals, that God ‘elects/chooses’ those who he knows will choose him. That’s called the ‘prescient’ view of God’s foreknowledge – that God looked down the corridors of time and chose those who would choose him. Is that scriptural? I’ll leave that there for you to ponder.

As for this young pastor, I pray that he would listen to his own sermon, the glorious portrait of the total sovereignty of God in salvation he painted for his audience, and then realize the invitation he gave left the determining factor in salvation up to human decision.

“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13, ESV)