“Who Broke My Church?”

A post popped up on Facebook thanking those who pre-ordered a #1 best seller with the above title. How books become best sellers because of pre-orders is beyond me. Maybe the author is popular. I had never heard of this author until this ‘suggested’ post pepped un on FB. So I looked him up. He is also known as The Church Doctor and has published a lot of books with catchy titles. He has an educational background that includes a Ph.D. from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, and a D.Min degree from Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California. He is the author of 30 books on the subject of church health, vitality, and the effectiveness of the church. The book’s full title is: Who Broke My Church?: 7 Strategies that Change Everything.

At a glance, I would say that he probably has some good things to say. I really don’t know since I have not read his books. Therefore this post is NOT a book review. The title caught my attention.

When I saw the question ‘Who broke my church?’ My immediate thought was “If the church IS broken, we who profess Christ broke it!” You are probably wondering why I say that, so I’ll tell you.

First of all, I want to say that the true church, Jesus’ church will NEVER break because Jesus said “I will build my church and the gates of hell will NEVER prevail against it. That begs the question, “Which church is Dr. Hunt talking about?” I don’t know since I haven’t read the book, but I can say it might be the church that man builds. It is that church to which I refer. Depending on what constitutes a ‘broken’ church, a church can break apart in many ways. And it is we who profess Christ who break it! While I will leave you, the reader, to speculate on specific ways it it broken (we are great speculators since we always have opinions)’ I would like to take it up a notch to something that seems to have happened over at least the years that drives many, if not most of the ‘brokenness’ in today’s church.

In a nutshell, today’s church has become ‘man’ centered instead of ‘God’ centered, and It is men who caused the shift, not God. Therefore, as I said before, if it’s broken, WE broke it. The answer is in the question. . .

If it’s YOUR (man’s) broken church, you (men) broke it!

____________________________________

NOTE: The above short rant is in no way critical of the referenced book but merely an old guy’s opinion.

Elihu Proclaims God’s Majesty

Elihu Proclaims God’s Majesty – Job 37

1 “At this also my heart trembles

    and leaps out of its place.

2 Keep listening to the thunder of his voice

    and the rumbling that comes from his mouth.

3 Under the whole heaven he lets it go,

    and his lightning to the corners of the earth.

4 After it his voice roars;

    he thunders with his majestic voice,

    and he does not restrain the lightnings[a] when his voice is heard.

5 God thunders wondrously with his voice;

    he does great things that we cannot comprehend.

6 For to the snow he says, ‘Fall on the earth,’

    likewise to the downpour, his mighty downpour.

7 He seals up the hand of every man,

    that all men whom he made may know it.

8 Then the beasts go into their lairs,

    and remain in their dens.

9 From its chamber comes the whirlwind,

    and cold from the scattering winds.

10 By the breath of God ice is given,

    and the broad waters are frozen fast.

11 He loads the thick cloud with moisture;

    the clouds scatter his lightning.

12 They turn around and around by his guidance,

    to accomplish all that he commands them

    on the face of the habitable world.

13 Whether for correction or for his land

    or for love, he causes it to happen.

14 “Hear this, O Job;

    stop and consider the wondrous works of God.

15 Do you know how God lays his command upon them

    and causes the lightning of his cloud to shine?

16 Do you know the balancings[b] of the clouds,

    the wondrous works of him who is perfect in knowledge,

17 you whose garments are hot

    when the earth is still because of the south wind?

18 Can you, like him, spread out the skies,

    hard as a cast metal mirror?

19 Teach us what we shall say to him;

    we cannot draw up our case because of darkness.

20 Shall it be told him that I would speak?

    Did a man ever wish that he would be swallowed up?

21 “And now no one looks on the light

    when it is bright in the skies,

    when the wind has passed and cleared them.

22 Out of the north comes golden splendor;

    God is clothed with awesome majesty.

23 The Almighty—we cannot find him;

    he is great in power;

    justice and abundant righteousness he will not violate.

24 Therefore men fear him;

    he does not regard any who are wise in their own conceit.”[c]

Footnotes:

Job 37:4 Hebrew them

Job 37:16 Or hoverings

Job 37:24 Hebrew in heart

The New Apostolic Reformation An Examination of the Five-Fold Ministries

By Pastor Gary Gilley, Southern View  Gospel & Think on These Things Ministries (TOTT)

TOTT Ministries publishes really well written articles concerning contemporary issues facing today’s church. The two most recent articles address the topic of this blog post. They represent a careful and honest  examination of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR)  covering NAR’s

  • Historical Roots and Foundation,
  • Theological Distinctives,
  • Infiltration into Mainstream Evangelicalism,
  • A Biblical Examination,
  • and Conclusion

All of the information in these articles is carefully presented and referenced in great detail. Due to the length of the material it is not practical to post them in their entirety in this blog. Instead, I offer you the linked to the online articles:

The New Apostolic Reformation An Examination of the Five-Fold Ministries Part 1

The New Apostolic Reformation An Examination of the Five-Fold Ministries Part 2

Whether you recognize the term NAR or not,  You will recognize many of NAR’s theological distinctives, as well as the names of well know NAR proponents.

I pray that God will bless your reading!

Eisegesis Unplugged – Deuteronomy 8:18

Eisegesis is the process of interpreting a text or portion of text in such a way that the process introduces one’s own presuppositions, agendas, or biases into and onto the text.

18”You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day. “ Deut 8:18

This passage has been frequently used to teach us that God gives to all of us who profess to be his children power to become materially wealthy and prosperous. In fact, I recently came across a Facebook post (actually it ‘magically’ appeared in my FB newsfeed) in which a lady used the passage to tell us that the Bible actually teaches that principle. We can take our lives to the next level in terms of breakthroughs in business and financial wealth and she can teach us how to apply it.

But is that what this passage is teaching? Let’s put it back into context and see for ourselves.

11 “Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, 12 lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, 13 and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, 15 who led you through the great and terrifying wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, who brought you water out of the flinty rock, 16 who fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end. 17 Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.18 You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day. 19 And if you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish. 20 Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the Lord your God.” Deut 8:11-19.

God is clearly speaking directly to the children of Israel concerning his having delivered them from bondage in Egypt. They are being warned against taking any credit for their deliverance and prosperity (wealth), but that their ‘wealth’ was a result of God’s hand, not theirs. The use of the term ‘wealth’ refers to their much-improved condition. One notable commentary (Adam Clarke) offers this meaning:

Who among the rich and wealthy believes this saying? Who gives wisdom, understanding, skill, bodily strength, and health? Is it not God? And without these, how can wealth be acquired? Whose is providence? Who gives fertility to the earth? And who brings every proper purpose to a right issue? Is it not God? And without these also can wealth be acquired? No. Then the proposition in the text is self-evident: it is God that giveth power to get wealth, and to God the wealthy man must account for the manner in which he has expended the riches which God hath given him.

While many other commentaries agree, but all it takes to discover the meaning of this passage is to read it in context.

God was not giving his children a formula for success, but merely reminding them that their successful escape from bondage and circumstances after their release were a result of his hand and power, not theirs. Deuteronomy, Chapter 8 is admonition to his children to never forget God and a warning against pride.

So What?

Why does all of this matter? I can answer that. It matters because when we become believers in Christ we still have sinful hearts. In fact, Janes 2:2 tells us we sin when we are drawn away (tempted) by our own sinful passions. False teaching that appeals to our ‘sin hangover’ can result in our straying from the path of self-denial we are called to by our Lord and a return to the same focus on personal material gain we were in bondage to as unbelievers. Because we are prone to become prideful and put God on the back burner, we need to be reminded of who is really in charge.

And remember, the first three rules of proper biblical interpretation are:

CONTEXT, CONTEXT, CONTEXT

Timely Thoughts?

A few days ago there was a Facebook post by a man I know that said, in part:

“When hate filled violence of ANY sort is considered justified, we are in serious trouble. When public leaders at any level don’t condemn ALL violence, the trouble is even worse. It’s called ‘inviting’ anarchy to rule the nation. Folk’s, it’s happening.”

One commenter posted this:

“Sad, but very true. Do you see hope or despair on the horizon?”

This was the reply to that comment:

“I see both in the pages of scripture. Lawlessness will wax worse and worse, but Christ will continue to save his people from their sins of that they can be lights in ever increasing darkness.”

What are your thoughts?

Sermons and Pep Rallies

Has anyone else noticed the similarities between some of today’s ‘sermons’ and high school pep rallies, or am I just nuts?

Remember those pep rallies in which we were told to say/repeat stuff at the command of whoever was leading it? 

I jst love stened to yet another sermon/talk delivered at a pupular megachurch in which the folks in the pews/theater,seats are being told now and again ‘everyone say’ or ‘can you say’ something (you fill it in).

Regretably, none of these instances has anything to do with scripture. No one is collectively reading scripture or reciting an inportant creed. They are just being told to repeat or say something the speaker has chosen for them., just like at the high school peprallies I remember.

Sad, really sad.

Food for thought on a Sunday morning.

Presuppositional Apologetics and Personal Evangelism

Sounds rather ominous, does it not? Really deep stuff! Well, not necessarily. First, let’s define our terms.

“Presuppositionalism is a school of Christian apologetics that believes the Christian faith is the only basis for rational thought. It presupposes that the Bible is divine revelation and attempts to expose flaws in other worldviews. It claims that apart from presuppositions, one could not make sense of any human experience, and there can be no set of neutral assumptions from which to reason with a non-Christian”.[i]

 To evangelize is to present Christ Jesus to sinful people in order that, through the power of the Holy Spirit, they may come to put their trust in God through Him.”[ii]

We all have presuppositions, certain beliefs or assumptions with which we enter discussions. They frame our thoughts about a matter as well as our argument. In matters of personal evangelism, it means that we believe what the Bible tells us about ourselves as human beings, as well as what it has to has to say about lost sinners. We let those truths guide us in our sharing of the good news.

So, what does the Bible tell us about ourselves as human beings? For me, the two most significant facts are found in Romans, Chapter 1.

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of (fallen) men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.” (Rom 1:18-19) Emphasis mine.

First, since fallen men are full of ungodliness and unrighteousness, they are subjects of God’s wrath. Secondly, fallen men know that God exists, yet the suppress the truth in their unrighteousness. In other words, God doesn’t believe in atheists.

With that truth in mind, what else the Bible have to tell us about those with who we desire to share the gospel? We’ll share just a few.

1. They don’t seek God.

 “As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.” (Rom 3:10-11)

2. They hate God and can do nothing to please him.

For the mind that is set on the flesh (the only mind the sinner has) is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Rom 8:7-8) Emphasis mine.

3.  They cannot, in and of themselves, even understand the gospel!

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Cor 2:14)

“In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Cor 4:4)

 

So how does this affect our evangelistic efforts? There are several ways:

1. If all of us, by nature, already know that God exists, we do not have to ‘prove’ the existence of God. In fact, some would suggest that if we engage in proving the existence of God to an unbeliever, we are presenting a ‘case for God’ and making the unbeliever the ‘judge’.

2. If it’s true that the unbeliever is living in rebellion against the God he/she knows exist, that person by nature also hates God’s gospel. We are actually presenting the gospel to someone who doesn’t want to hear it.

3. If it’s also true that the unbeliever, in his/her natural state, cannot even understand the message of the gospel why do we present it at all?  I tell you why I do.

You see, along with believing what the Bible says about us as fallen creatures (our presuppositions), I also believe that God saves all those whom he has chosen to save in exactly the same manner (another presupposition). Don’t worry, I’m not going to get into a long dissertation about the doctrine of salvation. But I do believe that there are two ‘steps’, if you will, in God’s saving of sinners.

1. God opens hearts to hear the gospel.

2. God sends a messenger to present the gospel to that divinely opened heart.

Do you remember Lydia in Acts, Chapter 16? Paul and company went down to a river outside of Philippi looking for a place of prayer and there was a small group of women already gathered there. Paul spoke to them and we are told:

One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.” (Acts 16:14) (Emphasis mine.)

In short, God opened Lydia’s heart to hear the gospel, sent Paul as his messenger to present that gospel and Lydia was baptized (along with her household) and invited Paul & company to stay at her house!

 And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” (Acts 16:15)

We don’t need to be told specifically that ‘Lydia was saved that day’; the text speaks for itself. God had a purpose ion opening her heart and God’s purposes cannot fail.

So, what does that mean for personal evangelism? It means that we have the great privilege to be God’s ‘gospel’ messengers. Our job is to ‘get the gospel right’ (Christ died for our sins) and share it with others. Our prayer for the lost is simple. “God, open their hearts to hear.”

We don’t need to try and pry open hard hearts with clever presentations. We don’t even need to ask people to open their own hearts. They can’t. That’s God’s business. Unless God opens a heart to hear the truth of the message, our words are just words. But when God opens a sinner’s heart and the gospel is heard, salvation happens.

In summary, presuppositional apologetics –  believing what God says about fallen men and believing what we are told about how God saves sinners actually simplifies our evangelism. Our ‘work’ is knowing and being faithful to the gospel message (See 1 Cor 15:1-5) and being available to share that message as God leads us. No tricks, no gimmicks. We’re not ‘salesmen’. We’re simply messengers. It is God who saves sinners!


[i] John Frame, 2006

[ii] Alistair Begg, Crossing the Barriers