Jesus Christ Is Lord

That every knee should bow and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father!

Posts Tagged ‘man centered’

Why We Should Preach The Gospel To All Men

Posted by Job on May 27, 2011

Exodus 7:1-5 is a passage that I find fascinating.

And the LORD said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet. Thou shalt speak all that I command thee: and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he send the children of Israel out of his land. And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt. But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you, that I may lay my hand upon Egypt, and bring forth mine armies, [and] my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments. And the Egyptians shall know that I [am] the LORD, when I stretch forth mine hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them.

As for “See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh”,  I am not going to touch that text with a ten foot pole. It is not that this text is unimportant, for it is, and has a meaning in this context and in the larger narrative of the interactions between Moses and pharaoh and the Exodus from Egypt. Instead, it is that I simply do not know with a certainty what the text means, and will not pretend to. I will say that this statement is part of why I find this passage to be so engaging, but not the majority part.

Instead, this passage shows us the primary reason for evangelism. Despite what we often believe, indeed what we want to believe, the primary purpose of evangelism is not to convert poor sinners. Again, the primary purpose of sinners is not the conversion of the lost! And that, dear Christian, is precisely why we should not submit to the oft-cited justification for God-dishonoring (i.e. deceptive, abusive, or man-exalting) evangelism tactics, or for having people holding church offices that do not meet the Bible’s qualifications for them: “See how it wins people to Jesus Christ!” If we make winning converts the chief goal of evangelism, and evangelism the chief duty of the church, then so long as converts are being made, anything goes, the “greater good” is being served, and the ends justify the means, right? Well, this passage, this early Old Testament passage from the Torah, reveals the error in that thinking, and the excuse-making and dissembling based on it!

In this passage, God tells Moses to go preach to Pharaoh. The message preached to Pharaoh includes God’s identity – the God of Israel, the God of Israel, and yes Moses did use the Divine Name, YHWH or Jehovah, in the course of stating His identity – and God’s commands, which is to be believed, submitted to, and worshiped according to the manner that God instructs. Also, though this passage does not contain it, the message given to Pharaoh contained a warning of judgment that would come to him and his nation if he responded with disobedience out of faithlessness, or unbelief. Moses and Aaron told pharaoh that regardless of his belief and obedience or lack thereof, God’s purposes would still come to pass, and God’s people would be saved, and those who were not God’s people would be judged for their wickedness. Further, God told pharaoh through Moses and Aaron (maybe that is the meaning of … oh never mind!) that the word being preached to him would be verified with signs and wonders. So, make no mistake, the message that God told Moses (and Aaron) to reveal to pharaoh was a protoevangelism, a prototype or type of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Moses gave to pharaoh a message that was the forerunner of the gospel of the Prophet like Moses who was to come, the message that the church has carried and borne within itself through trials, temptations and tribulations ever since. From this, we can assert that evangelism that omits the identity of God (as not only Saviour but Lord and Judge), the deliverance from sin (which requires repentance), the horrible judgment on those who reject the message out of disbelief, and that this message is verified by the great miracle of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, a fact attested to by above 500 eyewitnesses, is not legitimate evangelism. How could evangelism that actually contains less than the word of the Lord that Moses gave to pharaoh over 1000 years before the coming of Jesus Christ be legitimate, and what excuse is there for withholding any portion of the word that Moses did not other than our possessing a sinful shame and offense towards the word of God because of our love for this present world that Moses did not have, so much so that Moses rejected the pleasures of the Egypt in order to suffer many things in God’s service (Hebrews 11:24-27) ?

Now even the mere fact that Moses preached a type of the gospel to pharaoh is sufficient to fascinate the mind and stir the soul. But wait … there’s still yet more! What is really amazing is that God told Moses in advance that pharaoh would not listen! “And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart … but Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you.” So, God told Moses to preach the gospel to one whose heart was hardened! God told Moses to preach the gospel to one that Moses already knew was not elect! God told Moses to preach the gospel to one that was reprobate, and would not be saved! One whose God’s heart had hardened, was irrevocably lost, and as a result had no more chance of believing the gospel than did the son of perdition, Judas Iscariot. Like Judas Iscariot, it would have been better for pharaoh had he never been born. Make no mistake, without faith it is impossible to please God, and faith comes not from man but from God, a gift of the sovereign Holy Spirit given to those that God the Father has elected unto salvation before the foundation of the world. Pharaoh’s heart, hardened by original sin, was going to remain that way despite the preaching of the gospel to him because it was not in the decree of God that pharaoh was one who would be saved.

So, the question must be asked: why preach to a man like this? Is that not a waste of time and effort? Now, the easy answer to this is “We are supposed to preach to all people because only God knows those that He has elected to salvation, and we are not to attempt to act in God’s place by presuming to judge and know who He has elected and who He has not.” While this is 100% factual in general, in this case it is not so, for God had already informed Moses of pharaoh’s state! Again, God informed Moses in advance that pharaoh would not listen, and sent Moses to preach the protoevangelium to pharaoh anyway! Despite the fact that he was going to “fail” (with respect to the attempt to get pharaoh to acknowledge the revelation of God, repent of his sins and obey the revelation), God sent Moses anyway!

And the question is why? Does God set people up for failure? And if God sent Moses to deliver His word, can the Word of God fail? Does not the Bible say that the Word of God does not return null and void, but instead will accomplish the thing that God purposes (Isaiah 55:11)? How can that be true in this case? The answer is simply this: God did not sent Moses to preach the gospel to pharaoh so that pharaoh could be converted. God’s purpose in having Moses preach was not man. It was not pharaoh. Instead, God’s purposes in having Moses preach was God. It was so that God would be glorified. This purpose is hinted at in this specific passage with “And the Egyptians shall know that I [am] the LORD” but is given more explicitly later, when God states that through judging Egypt and accomplishing Israel’s exodus, He would be glorified before pharaoh, before Egypt, and before the world!

Make no mistake, this passage establishes convincingly the truth that we preach the gospel primarily to glorify God, and that God is glorified whether converts result or not. Indeed, when converts do happen, God receives the double honor and glory, for God is glorified by the preaching, and God is glorified by the conversion, particularly since it is God who accomplishes conversion and not man. The notion that we evangelize chiefly to win converts is man-centered doctrine and practice and must be abandoned.

The notion that we evangelize primarily to glorify God is Biblical truth, which is God-centered doctrine and practice, and must be internalized by every Christian. And once we realize that the primary purpose of evangelism is to glorify God, then we can no longer suffer God-dishonoring methods and God-dishonoring people or institutions with our support and acceptance. We will also no longer compare the apparent, temporal “success” of the God-dishonoring tactics and people with the true spiritual fruit of those who labor according to God’s will and thereby glorify Him! Should we mock God in the service of exalting the cause of saving man, and then claim that God is served, glorified and pleased by the saving of man? God forbid!

Though man, being the work of God’s Hands, is very precious to God, God is more important than man. Though man has great value, and it is a terrible thing for a man’s soul to be lost to eternal torment, the value of God far exceeds the value of not only each individual man, but the collective value of all men that ever lived and ever shall live! God is more valuable than His creation, and it is the chief duty of God’s creation to obey and glorify its Creator! Suffering practice that dishonors God and leaders who disobey God rejects this truth of Biblical revelation in favor of the lie that man is more important than God, or equal in rank or value with God, and it is the duty of God, that God is somehow beholden, to conform Himself, to lower Himself, to humble Himself, and accept whatever man chooses to give Him. If this is the case, then why did God reject the offering of Cain, and what was His basis, rationale, or justification for it? How could God have been just in His rejection and judgment of Cain? How can God be just in His judgment of anybody? God forbid that this should be the truth!

Instead, the truth is that Jesus Christ the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Jesus Christ! The truth is that God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must do so in spirit and in truth. This means that our evangelism must not and cannot be to us-ward with the chief goal and end being man and his salvation but to God-ward with the chief goal and end being God and His glory. That was why God sent Moses and Aaron to preach a type of the gospel to pharaoh, and that is why God’s Son has sent His church to preach the fulfillment of the gospel to every creature. We must first reject the false teachers who claim that the gospel is for some and not all – which apparently is an aberrant unscriptural form of Calvinism that Charles Spurgeon and William Carey contended against in their day – and then reject the leaven who claims that winning converts justifies the corruption in the message, the evangelist and the institution! Please recall that Jesus Christ said that many who will perform evangelism and do many other great works in His Name will be counted as goats and cast into eternal flame (Matthew 25:31-46 with Matthew 7:21-23). The goats are those who do perform work, but as the man-pleasers do, and not in spirit and truth. They are double-minded, calling on God but seeking to please man. As a result, they are disobedient goats, not obedient sheep.

To glorify God, Christians, all Christians no matter their age, sex, race, class, status, church office, etc. must share the gospel oft, and do so in a manner that glorifies God by submitting to God through obedience. It is those who are the true laborers in the harvest of the Lord. So, fellow Christian, I urge that you would pray to the Lord of the harvest that he would send forth labourers into his harvest, and also that you would be counted among those labourers that He sends!

If you are not a believer in Jesus Christ, I urge, entreat and implore you not to respond with unbelief and rejection as did pharaoh, for if you do, you will receive pharaoh’s reward, which is horrible judgment. Indeed, where pharaoh’s punishment as recorded in Exodus was bad enough, as it was a punishment in this life, it was only a type of the punishment to come, which is exceedingly grievous and eternal in its duration! Do not follow after the folly of pharaoh! Instead, repent of your sins, believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ, and be saved. Follow the link below to find out how.

Follow The Three Step Salvation Plan!

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Posted in Bible, Calvinism, Christianity, evangelism, Jesus Christ, orthodoxy, orthopraxy, Reformed, religion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Focus On The Family Then The Focus Is Not On Jesus Christ!

Posted by Job on September 30, 2008

From PJ Miller:

Why I walked out of church

You might find this interesting, I did.

Posted today at Life Under the Blue Sky: The View From Below, so  to Jerry for finding it!

Originally posted at Lone Prairie: Why I walked out of church

Today, I went to Bismarck Evangel Temple, sat through the worship and most of the sermon, and then…walked out before it was done.

I don’t blame that church; it is my own inability to fit that literally forced me to leave. I don’t really doubt their sincerity, and that many people love the programs and opportunities that church provides. I’ve even found, in the past, a few sermons to be interesting. But…

 

I believe what I believe — my Christian faith — not because of tradition or because I was raised that way. Not because I want fire insurance or hell-avoidance. Not because I want to find a group or place to belong. I believe it on my own, I believe it to be real, I believe it to be important and valid, and I believe the way we have made Christianity out to be is completely wrong. And that’s why I have such a hard time going to church as it is now done.

Reaching people with trendiness

A recent cover story at World Magazine about “NextGen Worship” inspired a strong desire to smack the pastors depicted in the article and in the photos. The cover photo alone enraged me, with the pastor wearing baggy jeans and untucked button-up shirt with flip flops and an ear microphone. Later, the same guy is shown out front of a church holding a paper Starbucks-like cup of coffee. Could he try any harder to be lame?

I’d have liked to have taken that cup of coffee and dumped it on his head. But it’s nothing personal against that guy or his beliefs or sincerity. It’s an anger at something else.

I’m not going to be one of those starched-collar Christians who, based on personal preference, say that this is a sign we’re going to hell in a handbasket and that all things are wrong unless they are done as they were with the Puritans. What I’m saying is that I can’t stand the phoniness, or trendiness, or sameness — or whatever I’m trying to say here — that the church seems to catch onto at the tail end, not even aware of how lame it is. The fact that this is not only actually successful in appealing to people, but attracts them, also disgusts me.

It makes me want to throw up.

It’s buying into some kind of lie or substitution of cool culture as being relevant when it isn’t.

If I see another cool Bible college student or pastoral studies major wearing the hemp choker necklace, flip-flops, open-at-the-collar shirt that’s untucked, and baggy jeans, saying words like “dude” and “sweet”, I will kick their *##. It’s like the Christian version of annoying hipsters, an overly-studied and homogenized “with-it” faux coolness.

Perpetual youth group culture

In recent conversations with a couple of my girlfriends, I expressed an extreme disinterest in Christian guys of my generation.

“I’ve pretty much had it with Christian guys,” I said. “The main problem is that they are ‘guys’ for too long and never become men.”

They are, I theorized, stuck in the youth group culture. The church has encouraged them to never leave that mentality, and so it takes until about age 35 for them to extract themselves into adulthood-land where the women have been waiting for years and have been steadily growing fed up. Men not raised in this evangelical youth culture, I’ve noticed, tend to be vastly different in maturity level.

Youth group culture is a place of video games and pizza parties and perpetual “here we are now entertain us” (thanks for the lyrics, Cobain). When youth leave the appropriate age level (i.e. graduate from high school), they face a difficult moment, a moment made difficult because of age segregation, which I’ll talk about next.

Instead of helping them get on into adulthood, we’ve introduced single’s groups — in the name of helping the unmarried, of course — which are mainly youth groups for those in their 20’s. Which, instead of helping people not be single actually encourages them to never grow up and, instead, use the group as their relationship fix. I see this particularly with Christian guys, this stunted maturity, and it somehow seems to permeate Evangelical culture today.

Age segregation

It would behoove some of the leaders in church to read The Death of the Grown-up. While some of the book becomes a little too nostalgic for specific generations and, oddly, jazz music, it nails it on the idea of how we segregate by age and, sadly, create a self-feeding monster that means teens look to each other for cues and kids look to each other for cues, and the adults “leading” them are pandering to them to get their attention. The end result? Idiocy. Never-growing up. Never asking for behavior beyond what we have let them tell us is normal for their age. They only learn to function in their age level and have no examples or incentive to reach beyond that and mature. We make no demands on their behavior, only bemoan its current state.

The church is especially notorious for doing this. We have kid’s ministries and youth ministries and young adults and older adults — all separated from each other because of age, thereby negating any positive and necessary influence the different ages might have on each other.

The children are removed from the boring main service for their benefit, and the parents get a break. The youth are in youth groups and, consequently, only learn to be youth and actually intensify the silliness of their age by reflecting off of each other. The adults trying to lead the youth fall for the idea that unless we have games and parties and other dumbed-down stuff, we can’t keep their attention.

Why would we be able to keep their attention? We’ve let them take ours and tell us how to treat them. We’ve taught kids and youth to expect to be entertained and now we are in a vicious cycle on how to up the quotient and keep their attention. This is magnified and made even more ugly in a church setting when we try to find a way to insert the gospel into this machine of age segregation.

Focus on the family

Churches now tend to focus on the family. This is good, if you have a family. But, for those of us who are not married or do not have kids or a family, it really sucks. Sure, there’s the obligatory single’s group (which tends to peter out by the 30’s and those still left, at that point, can fend for themselves), but the focus is really on the family unit, and raising children.

Today’s sermon at church, for example, was on the importance of children’s ministry. I walked out at the part where we were told, as the call-to-action part of the sermon, to do our duty and sign up for the various children’s ministries. This was right after the explanation that children’s ministries accounted for the largest chunk of the church’s budget because kids won’t pay attention if you just show up with a Bible; you have to have all kinds of programs and themes and activities…

I left.

I had to.

I don’t know that the minister was wrong, though I think he was in some things he said. I am sure parents appreciate the ability to leave their kids at children’s church and know they’ll have activities and learn a Bible story or whatever, but it annoyed me.

If it isn’t a sermon about marriage, it seems to be a sermon about family. I’ve pretty much had it. The only answer I get, as a single, is a few verses by Paul which are supposed to make me feel good about being single since it’s “the higher road” or some such crap. And then we go back to another sermon directed to those on, I guess, the “lower road.” Or, I’m encouraged to find the other single women of my “advanced” age since the singles group doesn’t really reach up that high anymore.

Whatever. I’m not looking for a program or ministry geared for me and my situation. I’m just looking for people to connect with and be church with. I’d like marrieds and singles and old and young in that group. I’m not looking for easy homogenization.

It won’t work

As it is, I, and others like me, will walk out of churches. The coffee bars in the foyer, the casual attire, the buzz words, all the programs and activities imaginable, the big-screen video monitors, the contemporary music — it is actually repulsive and fake to a large chunk of people.

These are the people churches aren’t aware of, because they aren’t anywhere near a church. They slip in, walk out, and aren’t even missed. They don’t fill out visitor cards. They don’t want to be part of a flow chart or be managed as part of a Church-as-Corporate-Hierarchy system. They don’t want a polite follow-up call or to hear a voice on the other end say that they just wanted to “touch bases” with them to let them know they’re important. Even if those actions are sincere and the only plausible route when a church is so huge, they ring insincere.

Such people, like myself, sound impossible to reach or include in the system of church as we know it today, which is my point. They way we do church today isn’t necessarily being church.

There needs to be something else for those of us who can’t stand the way services are arranged, the way emotions are herded into a set time frame (which today involved — what was impossible for me — going from the whole congregation doing “the wave” as instigated by the children’s pastor into, about ten minutes later, “surrendering to Jesus” with soft piano music and hushed tones), how discussion is nil and being preached at in silence is the accepted method of learning…

…nope. Not gonna work.

I’m not looking for starched Baptist legalism, but Casual Friday Church is as equally fake and disgusting.

My church

I miss my own, small church, from back home. It’s filled with uncool, normal people who just want to help and talk and connect and be real and accountable to each other. It’s filled with people who want to go to the Dairy Queen after service and maybe have an ice cream cone. People who help change a flat tire in the parking lot. The building isn’t huge or fancy. The church doesn’t have programs and any other accessories to attract sub groups, like teens or kids events or anything that smacks of entertainment; there’s no program there to attract me to stay, but instead, it is the real relationships that have done the trick. We greet people not as a job or because we’re the assigned greeter, but because we see they’re new and we want to get to know them.

I feel more like part of the body than an attendee when I go there. I have a place, an integral part, just like all the rest of the people. As it is, the more I attend these larger churches and hear about programs and activities and see places to sign up for classes and possible facility expansion projects…the less I want anything to do with it. I feel like a barcode in the pew, and little else.

I’m having difficulty putting this into words.

I hate to church hop. I don’t want to waste my time here going from one church to the next. I would like to find just a small group of people and meet and talk about our beliefs and struggles and study the Bible and connect on a real level, and let that be church. Because isn’t that what the church is, meeting together with other believers and being accountable and real with each other in our walk?

****

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The Error Of The Evangelical Manifesto

Posted by Job on May 15, 2008

The “Evangelical Manifesto.”   Last Wednesday, a group of prominent
Evangelicals released the “Evangelical Manifesto: A Declaration of
Evangelical Identity and Public Commitment.”  The Steering Committee
includes: Os Guinness; Timothy George, Dean, Beeson Divinity School, Samford
University; Rich Mouw, President, Fuller Theological Seminary; and Dallas
Willard, Professor of Philosophy, University of Southern California.  It has
been signed by apx. 80 “evangelical leaders,” though when a trained eye
looks through the list of signers, it becomes apparent what this document is
really all about.

For those who have been part of the Liveprayer family for a while, you might
remember me mentioning the gutless Dr.Mouw back in December of 2004, who
along with Ravi Zacharias, became pawns used by the Mormons to give them
mainstream credibility.  Here is an excerpt from that 12/07/04 Devotional:
“Mouw preceded Zacharias and amazingly apologized, yes, apologized to the
Mormon crowd of roughly 7,000 stating, ‘We evangelicals have sinned against
you. We have demonized you.’ Since when was exposing the false gospel of the
Mormon cult a sin? That is exactly what we are supposed to do! Also, the
last I checked, those who lead people’s souls into everlasting damnation are
demonic!”

First of all, let me state the obvious.  We already have an “Evangelical
Manifesto,” it is called THE BIBLE and it has the greatest author of all
time…GOD!  The real purpose of this document is to create a shift in power
regarding those who are seen as the Christian leaders of our day and those
who speak for the Christian community.  Many years ago, I had to make some
hard choices.  Do I build a giant ministry organization and preach to the
choir like the rest, putting my voice into the same mix as Falwell,
Robertson, Kennedy, Dobson, Graham, and the others, or follow God’s calling
as a true evangelist and reach out to the lost and hurting souls outside the
four walls of the church, and take on more of a prophetic ministry to reach
this lost world with God’s Truth.  I made the decision to pass on the
comfort, prominence, prestige, and financial security of building another
Christian organization, and chose instead  to give my life reaching the lost
and hurting with the hope of Jesus Christ.

That choice has given me the unique position of being free from the politics
of the “church,” and allowed me to not have to compromise the Truth of the
Bible to keep a “Christian business” going.  Like the prophets in the Old
Testament, I have been in the unique position few are in, to deal with the
issues of the day and in people’s lives without worrying about pleasing men,
only God.  My focus has never had to be about raising money for
infrastructure and operations, only for saving souls.  I have no other
agenda but God’s.  My goals aren’t earthly but heavenly.  My legacy won’t be
in buildings or the temporal things of this world that will one day soon be
gone, but the lives God has used me to impact and the eternal souls of men.

Many of those who put together and signed this document are for the most
part those who I have warned you about in recent years, this emerging group
known as the “Christian left.”  Prominent signers of this murky document are
people like Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners, and Rick Warren, Pastor of
Saddleback and author of the Purpose Driven Life.  A major portion of this
document is spent repudiating Christians involved in politics, and seeks to
replace the fight for life, marriage, and family issues, with a focus on
world hunger, AIDs in Africa, and environmental issues.   It also lashes out
at those who have the audacity to go into the public arena and take a stand
for Christ based on the Truth of God’s Word.  The document says evangelicals
have often expressed “truth without love,” helping create a backlash against
religion during a “generation of culture warring.”  The fact is, we have
been intimidated into silence by those who represent satan!

This is the mindset fostered by the “seeker,” “emerging church,” and “church
growth” crowd that for the past 15 years have watered down the Gospel and
set aside the absolutes of the Bible to attract warm bodies.  What they have
done is created a new subculture of “Christians” who might be saved, but
live no different than the world and easily embrace the lies of the false
religions, cults, and New Age teachings that are leading the souls of men to
hell.  This is why you have people like Oprah who claim to be a Christian,
yet promote the lies of every New Age guru that comes down the path.  This
is why you have people like Sen. Barak Hussein Obama who claims to be a
Christian, yet votes continually to slaughter babies and redefine God’s Holy
Institution of Marriage.  This is why you have Christians who think people
in a satanic cult like the Mormons will go to Heaven.  This is why you have
people who call themselves “Christians,” but deny that the Bible is the only
Truth there is!

Add to this the prominence of pastors who are little more than motivational
speakers like Robert Schuller and Joel Osteen who go into the secular media
when they want to sell their latest book, and brag bout never talking about
sin or the social issues of our day and refuse to answer the most simple
question of the faith, whether Jesus is the ONLY way to be saved or not.  So
people read their books, watch their TV programs to “feel good” and become
part of this new subculture of “Christians” who have no concept of basic
theology and embrace lies like “there are many roads that lead to God.

Don’t believe me?  Here is a typical email we get daily:  “I’m a
Metaphysical Christian and a Human being a child of GOD. I was baptized at
Saddleback Church with Rick Warren.  There is a very powerful wonderful
movement of consciousness going on right now obviously the old way is not
working very well. Watch a few Videos on Esther Hicks etc GOD bless you
too!”  What a load of garbage.  Metaphysical Christian???  The “old way” is
not working very well?  The old way being the Bible?  Ester Hicks is one of
the more popular New Age teachers out there today.  I wish you could see the
feed back I get daily from the Daily Devotional, from the TV program, from
my appearances on FOX News, CNN, and from the videos we post on YouTube.
People who call themselves “Christians,” yet reject the Bible as the only
Truth there is, and embrace beliefs that are in complete contradiction to
what the Bible teaches.

How did this happen?  It started with the church.  Forty years ago the
mainline denominations brought in pastors who were from liberal seminaries
and denied the inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible.  They quit preaching
the Gospel of Jesus Christ and opted for a social gospel instead.  At the
same time, you had this growing Christian subculture of Christian TV, radio,
and publishing, geared to and marketed to Christians.  Major ministries and
Christian organizations were birthed that generated tens of millions
annually, and for the most part did very little  but preach to the choir and
self perpetuate themselves from one year to the next.

Billions have been raised and squandered on the temporal things of this
world instead of on the work of God.  We have extracted ourselves from the
marketplace, and now not only have the better percentage of two full
generations who have never even been to church, but a new generation of
“Christians” who don’t believe the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of
God, representing Absolute Truth, and our final authority in all maters.  It
is no wonder our nation is in spiritual freefall and this world we live in
grows darker by the day.  Men of God in days gone by didn’t build great
organizations, they built up men and women to serve the Lord.  They only had
one book, the Bible, and one message, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  They
never compromised the Truth of God’s Word and their only goal was to save
souls!

I love you and care about you so much.  While I agree with 90% of what is in
the “Evangelical Manifesto,” the other 10% makes it a document designed to
give more power and prominence to those in the Christian left,  replace
abortion, marriage, and family issues with issues like world hunger, poverty
and disease, and calls for Christians to be more friendly to non-Christians
by not talking about things like sin and hell in the public.  Just in case
you were wondering, they never contacted me about signing this document.
LOL!!!

I have been warning you for years now about this new and growing group who
make up the Christian left who are now fighting with the old guard on the
Christian right for power and to be the voice of Christians.  The Christian
left waters down the Gospel and lays aside the absolutes of the Bible in
order to attract warm bodies and advance their social agenda, while the
Christian right has been turned into little more than a very lucrative
business that generates hundreds of millions annually around various causes
and is more concerned with power and self preservation than getting actual
results.  This leaves Christians alone to deal with the hurts and pains of
every day life with a very thin foundation to their faith, while the vast
majority of people are living without hope and heading to hell when they
die.

However, there is a remnant, a faithful group of Believers who have not sold
out and whose sole goal is to serve the Lord and see God’s Kingdom advanced.
Praise God for those faithful pastors and ministries that only want to see
the work of the Gospel accomplished as they share the Truth of God’s Word
without compromise and labor to bring the lost to faith in Jesus Christ.
These are the last days my friend.  Jesus is coming at any moment.  There is
no time for playing games.  People are dying and heading to hell every
second.  The focus of all Believers in Jesus Christ has to be on bringing
lost souls to faith in our Lord.  We don’t need an “Evangelical Manifesto,”
we already have one and it is called THE BIBLE!!!

In His love and service,
Your friend and brother in Christ,
Bill Keller bkeller@liveprayer.com 

***ARE YOU 100% CERTAIN WHERE YOU WILL SPEND ETERNITY?  The fact is you will die one day.  At that moment, you will either spend eternity with the Lord or be cast into everlasting darkness forever separated from God your creator. To know for certain you will be forever with Jesus, go to:
http://www.liveprayer.com/bdy_salvatn.cfm

***I am excited to let you know that the Liveprayer Daily Devotional is now available via AUDIO each day.  Simply go to http://www.liveprayer.com/Audio.cfm Also, you can now listen to the Daily Devotional by phone by calling, 1-727-342-5673 or 1-845-510-2722.

(C) Copyright 2008, Bill Keller Ministries. All rights reserved.

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Murdered By False Doctrine: Girl Dies Because Parents Pray Rather Than Take Her To Hospital

Posted by Job on April 28, 2008

I am a born again Christian who has personally experienced faith healing and spiritual deliverance – meaning demons actually literally cast out of me – who is a former Pentecostal Holiness charismatic (as a matter of fact I am still investigating if any Pentecostal doctrines can be articulated and practiced within the context of Reformed theology). But people, what you will see in the link below IS NOT CHRISTIANITY BUT FALSE DOCTRINE:

www.cnn.com/2008/CRIME/04/28/prayer.death.ap/index.html

You see that CNN, whom I loathe, has this listed as a crime. Despite my disdain for CNN, I must say that they have it correct: A CRIME WAS DONE TO THIS YOUNG GIRL THANKS TO FALSE RELIGION AND IT WAS A CRIME AGAINST JESUS CHRIST!

This is man – centered abomination posing as Christianity. True Christianity is God – centered where man serves God, and not the other way around. Who are we to say that God must do as we see fit in the way that see fit? Who are we to say that God must act according to our will and command? Is God our slave? Is God our trained pet? Anathema! Blasphemy? Heresy! Ichabod! God is sovereign, and we serve Him! Yet these people tried to make God their slave and the price was their little girl. These evil wicked people deprived this girl of the opportunity to serve God, and God of this girl’s service.

What makes these people believe that God cannot heal through doctors? Through medicines? That God cannot act on mankind’s behalf through general revelation and common grace? Why do these so – called Christians keep needing God to part the Red Sea over and over again before they will believe and have faith? Faith is the substance of things NOT SEEN! If there were miracles that we recognized as such all the time, we would not need faith! Or more accurately, we would not recognize them as miracles. That is precisely what happened to the children of Israel in the desert. They received manna every single day so that it became routine for them. They got it every day, so they forgot how miraculous God’s provision was for them. And because they forgot about God feeding them every day was a miracle, they forgot that God’s taking them out of Egypt was a bigger miracle. So since they forgot about the manna miracle and the Egypt miracle, they did not trust that God would deliver them into the promised land.

So it was in the time of Jesus Christ. He had spent so long performing so many miracles that had never been done before that the people had gotten bored. They had gotten used to it. So they said “Perform a miracle or give us a sign, and then we will believe that You are the Messiah!” And this is the key. They were not asking Jesus Christ to do some new thing. They would have accepted any of the old things that He had done before that they had gotten used to. Merely casting out another demon. Merely healing another leprous person. Merely raising someone else from being paralyzed, or even from the dead. What was it to them? Just another person with leprosy! Just another quadriplegic. Just another woman’s dead son. Who cares about PEOPLE and what they are going through? The important thing is you obeying our command! Don’t you people realize that what the children of Israel in the desert and the children of Israel in the time of Jesus Christ – stiff necked people – were trying to do? They were tempting the God of heaven by attempting to make Him obedient and subservient to THEM! They were trying to make God their dog! Roll over! Go fetch! Shake! Now here’s a treat for you, my confession of faith and my vain conditional service! Well, just as natural Israel was stiff – necked in the desert and in the time of Jesus Christ, spiritual Israel, the church, has been stiff – necked ever since.

And so it was with these people. Because they did not recognize that every second that God had saw fit to give their daughter on this earth was a miracle, they chose not to preserve that miracle by taking their child to the doctor for routine medical care that could have saved her life. What were they trying to prove? Their own faith? God’s existence? Would God’s healing their child THEIR WAY AT THEIR COMMAND have proven either? Did His withholding Himself from being their servant disprove it?

So now, let us pray for these poor misguided souls. Father God in the Name of Jesus Christ, please may Dale and Leilani Neumann believe in You as You have revealed Yourself through the Bible, and may they serve You as You desire to be served. Amen. 

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Ronald Dart: The Unleavened Church Is Centered Around The Pastor And Is Puffed Up

Posted by Job on March 22, 2008

The Unleavened Church Ronald L. Dart

Once upon a time, there was a very young church. It was still unstructured, in spite of the fact that some heavy hitters had been there in its earliest days. The church was undisciplined with apparently little formal structure and no formal disciplinary methods. The church was spiritually strong, but without a clear direction. Their doctrinal structure was poorly formed. They had no body of literature to fall back on. The only literature they had was the Scriptures, and there was very little tradition as to how to interpret and apply them. So it is small wonder that they were in some degree of trouble.

The church was only five or six years old, and the Christian faith was only 25 years old, or so. The church I am talking about was in Corinth, and the reason I am drawn to them at this season, is that the first letter to the Corinthians is the only New Testament letter than can be directly tied to a holy day. We know that the letter was either written during the Days of Unleavened Bread, or delivered then. And it is shot through with allusions to the festival.

A striking example of how little they had things together is the rebuke Paul delivers in the fifth chapter: “It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife” (1 Corinthians 5:1). This is really shocking. I don’t think any of our churches would tolerate that, but then we have Paul’s letter to go by.

Unleavened But Still Puffed Up

“And ye are puffed up,” Paul continued, “and have not rather mourned, that he that has done this deed might be taken away from among you.” “Puffed up” is a rare expression, used only by Paul in the New Testament. Six of his seven usages of the expression are in this letter. It is suggestive that the letter is a Passover letter, and so the admonitions therein are apropos of the Days of Unleavened Bread.

“For I verily,” Paul continued, “as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed.” Paul instructed the church to deal with the issue firmly. It isn’t clear exactly what he meant by some remarks, but one thing is clear. The miscreant was to be isolated, expelled from the church. It is at this point that Paul plainly borrows from the season: “Your glorying is not good,” he wrote. “Know ye not that a little leaven leavens the whole batch? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new batch, as ye are unleavened” (vv. 6-7). At first this sounds like double talk, that you may be unleavened as you are unleavened. But it makes perfect sense if you understand that the Corinthians were observing the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. They had thrown out the leavened bread and were thus unleavened in the physical sense. Now this church needed to learn about spiritual leaven: “For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us,” Paul went on, “Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (vv. 7-8).

The Surprising Responsibility

Nothing could be plainer. A new church, a Gentile church at that, is exhorted to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread and is instructed in the spiritual significance of the day. There are several important lessons to be drawn from this chapter. It is important for a church to have a systematic approach to discipline. There needed to be a way whereby the entire church could take the necessary steps to discipline its members, even to the extent of throwing someone out the door, if necessary. Mind you, this was not something to be done by a single leader or even a committee. It was the whole church that had to take the responsibility.

This lesson applies even now, but it is a mistake to wait until a problems arise to establish procedures for dealing with them. It will be very difficult, and probably hurtful to attempt to establish this on the fly with a real person in the cross hairs.

The church cannot tolerate just any kind of behavior. The reputation of the church is at stake, and that was one of the issues that concerned Paul regarding the misbehaving man in Corinth. “But Christ said we should not judge one another,” someone will object. Applying that in a disciplinary situation is a misapplication of what he said. Sometimes you have to face facts, in this case, a man was having sex with his father’s wife.

There is, though, a danger of self-righteousness, of becoming puffed up. We are all sinners, and private sins are not the church’s problem. This wasn’t a private sin. As it happens, Jesus offered some detailed instructions on this sort of thing, and he started with the antidote to being puffed up. His disciples asked him, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Jesus called a little child to him, stood him in the midst:

And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me” (Matthew 18:3-5 NIV). Humility, the Starting Point for LeadershipThus, humility is the starting point for leadership in the church, and necessarily for any disciplinary procedure. Jesus warned against causing little ones to stumble:

But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come! (vv. 6-7). Jesus went on to say that whatever causes offense should be dealt with firmly even, in a figure of speech, to the point of cutting off the hand or plucking out the eye (this should never be taken literally). In this day of rampant child abuse, a church can’t be too careful in protecting children. “See that you do not look down on one of these little ones,” Jesus went on, “For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven” (v. 10).Steps to Take

This forms the background of an important lesson in how the church should deal with issues as they arise. The starting point is the individual. “If your brother sins against you,” Jesus continued, “go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over” (v. 15).

That is step one. And it doesn’t work all the time. So what do you do next? “But if he will not listen,” Jesus went on, “take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testi-mony of two or three witnesses.’”

But wait. What is the point of having witnesses? That will become evident in the next step, but tragically, most churches have never created a procedure for carrying this forward. I have heard many mourn, “Why don’t people follow Matthew 18?” The answer is that if you can’t carry it forward to the last step, Matthew 18 doesn’t work.

Jesus concluded: “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector” (v. 17). It is a common error to think we must take the issue to the pastor. The pastor can serve as one of the witnesses, but Jesus said it must be taken to the church, the assembly. There is a strong reason for this. If the pastor expels a person for misconduct, that person may play the underdog, elicit sympathy from some, and divide the church. This doesn’t happen if an agreed upon procedure is followed involving the judgment of the assembly, not just one or two persons.

Don’t expect your church to flourish if you aren’t willing to do the heavy lifting. Christ does not expect his church to be leavened with sin. Paul told the Corinthians, “Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?” (1 Corinthians 5:6). Just as a small lump of starter leavens a large lump of dough, so one person can come to infect an entire church. Paul had more to say to this young church during the Days of Unleavened Bread:

If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! (1 Corinthians 6:1-3 NIV). A Procedure Must be in PlaceSo what should we think? Should our churches have procedures for conflict resolution? There is no point in complaining that the procedures of Matthew 18 are not followed when there is no way to carry them through to their conclusion. The first step in the procedure will not work unless the offender can see where it will go from there.

Earlier in this letter to an unleavened church, Paul said: “I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought” (1 Corinthians 1:10 NIV).

Ouch. We are profoundly short of this goal and always have been. The Corinthian church wasn’t even close, and there was a reason for it. It isn’t immediately clear how we get there from here, but Paul gives us a clue as he continues.

My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul? (vv. 11-13). We Can’t Unite Around a ManRight here, Paul puts his finger on the core of the problem. We cannot unite around a man, not even a great man like Paul. Note this well. I am not saying we should not. I am saying we cannot. It is simply not possible. All attempts to do so will end, either in a cult or in division. It is worth reading the entire chapter, as Paul addresses different aspects of the problem. Paul deliberately diminishes his own role to make the point, arguing that to preach with human wisdom and style would diminish the power of the Gospel of the cross of Christ. “We preach Christ crucified,” he said, “unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (vv. 23-25).

What Follows Should Humble Us

Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him (1 Corinthians 1:26-29 NIV). If you will allow me a moment of personal reflection, I think it was a long familiarity with the Epistles of Paul that influenced me in 1995 when I started CEM. It was not so much that it influenced what I did, as it influenced what I did not do. I could not have started a church organization without being the defacto head of it; i.e., if I had started a church, I would have unavoidably created division and choosing up of sides behind this or that man. Precisely what happened in Corinth. I decided to serve the churches without running any of them. And so far, God seems to have accepted that service.There is much in this letter to the Corinthians that a local church can take to heart, think about, and apply. And there is no better time to do it than during the Days of Unleavened Bread. For Jesus wants an unleavened church. Not just people with unleavened homes.

Posted in Bible, christian worldliness, Christianity, church worldliness, devotional, religion | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

 
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