Posted in challies, chirs powers, chris koelle, full of eyes, visual exegesis, visual theology

Visual Exegesis/Visual Theology: Bunyan’s Order & Causes, Annie Vallotton, Chris Koelle, Challies, Chris Powers animation ‘It is finished’

I have written before about an extraordinary young man named Chris Powers. He is using his artistic gift for the glory of God in creating visual art for the world. He calls his art and animations “visual exegesis” because he uses a verse and creates an artistic rendition of the verse or doctrinal concept in visual form. This is extraordinarily difficult to do.

Famously, John Bunyan did this with words and pictures in his allegorical book Pilgrim’s Progress.

Bunyan also made the first visual theology chart in Christendom when he created his poster Order and Causes of Salvation and Damnation-


Chris Koelle is an artist who worked with Matt Dorff in collaboration to create an artistic rendition of the Book of Revelation. There are multiple difficult images in that apocalyptic book of the Bible and the doctrines are difficult too. Yet some talented people have an ability to create images that communicate these doctrines with clarity and accuracy without disrespect to the Lord or the Holy Spirit who inspired the words. Koelle’s images are drawn in complicated, eerily sinister yet glorifying ways.

Another noted Bible artist is Annie Vallotton, whose images are as far from Koelle’s as it is possible to be. Vallotton’s illustrations contain just a few clear, simple pen lines, yet are just as evocative as Koelle’s grand and complex illustrations. Vallotton illustrated the Good News Bible and created about 500 images for the finished product. However Vallotton said in an interview that for each image she might make up to 90 drafts until she felt the verse’s message was clearly communicated in the image.  You can read about her here, or more in depth here. Or here.

The largely expressionless figures make little attempt to interpret the text, but rather invite the reader to do so.

Job railing against the LORD’S ‘injustice’.

I’d like to add Chris Powers to the list for your consideration. I’ve been watching his growth as an artist and as a Brother in the faith for some years now. His work is solidly dedicated to the Lord. He does what he calls visual exegesis, to what Challies calls “visual theology“.

We live in a visual culture. Today, people increasingly rely upon visuals to help them understand new and difficult concepts. The rise and popularity of the Internet infographic has given us a new way to convey data, concepts, and ideas. But the visual portrayal of truth is not a novel idea. God himself used visuals to teach truth to his people. If you have ever considered the different elements within the Old Testament tabernacle or temple you know that each element was a visual representation of a greater truth. The sacrificial system and later the cross were also meant to be visual—visual theology. (source)

Tim Challies’ book Visual Theology goes on sale next month. I’ve already pre-ordered my copy.

Powers is completing his art book titled “Visual Exegesis, Vol. 1” a book which has his visual theology on one page and his explanation on the opposite page. It will be ready for publication on Amazon in a few weeks as of this writing. You can learn more about the upcoming book, here. You can take a sneak peek at the new book, here. You can see Chris explain the book, here and take an even longer sneak peek. Here is Chris explaining his art book, Visual Exegesis:

[I]n the upcoming art book, I try to highlight the exegetical element in each image. The book has a picture on one page and a description of how the text was translated into image on the other. My goal here is to strengthen the tether between word and image so that the imagery might deepen our understanding of scripture, and scripture would enlighten our understanding of the image. 

It is a stunning art book:

Mainly, Chris Powers makes animations. To that end, he has completed a stunning new animation to the song It Is Finished. I’ll post the video below. Below that is a video explaining his thought process for why he chose to depict certain arts of the song the way he did. Both videos are worth a look.

Powers’ work is freely available. I repeat: he is giving his animations and study curricula, tracts, and other material away for free. He is also creating lesson plans and guides to accompany each animation, so they can be used n small groups. He has volunteer translators translating the work into Spanish and Portuguese. His website is He is on Patreon and Gaius, if you want to make a one-time donation or support his work each month, even at the $1 level.

I personally believe his work is making a tremendous impact for the kingdom and I am fervently using this medium to promote him and his work at Full Of Eyes. I hope you feel his work is worthy of praise also, and promote him within your sphere.

Posted in arminianism, books, challies, easy believism, flowers, macarthur

Prata’s Potpourri: Dominionism, 190 blogs, 300 books, decisonal easy-believism, wandering pastors, more

March in Georgia is a funny month. It begins the warm and stormy tornado/thunderstorm season. Yet it also brings us our best chance for snow days off from school. In the last five years, the most snow we’ve received has been in March. I guess you could call the month turbulent.

On the plus side, the forsythia and the daffodils are blooming, and those are two flowers that mean spring business. The days certainly are warmer and the birds have returned to adorn the trees with color and song.The best part is that IF snow falls, it’s always gone by the next day. The temperatures rebound.

I love flowers. Tremendously. If you look closely at a flower, its delicacy and beauty are a never ending marvel. In my yard there are tiger lilies, rhododendron, roses, forsythia, daffodils, magnolia blossoms, pear blossoms, morning glories, the usual southern wildflowers such as bluebells, crimson bee balm, white clover, asters, snowdrops, and there used to be a huge five-o’clock-flower bush. This photo is from the five o’clock flower bush. Its stripe is perfectly placed, and yet other blossoms on the same bush might have different colored stripes in different locations. The delicate stamens seem to be reaching for the sun, like we do when emerging from the house on a day after a long winter and we turn our faces to the sun for a moment and bask.

I started watching The Story of Maths, a documentary about how mathematics was developed and used throughout history. The title even states that it’s the ‘language of the universe’. The opening lines of the BBC Documentary-

Throughout history, humankind has struggled to understand the fundamental workings of the material world. We’ve endeavored to discover the rules and patterns that determine the qualities of the objects that surround us, and their complex relationship to us and each other. Over thousands of years, societies all over the world, have found that one discipline above all others yields certain knowledge about the underlying realities of the physical world.

We know that the Bible yields certain knowledge, but math is a language of God and He uses its pattern and order to beautiful and astounding effect in our world and the universe. It is an interesting documentary, even to me who seems very likely to have dyscalculia.

The first episode deals with the Egyptians and the Babylonians. Though the Bible is not mentioned, any person having a Biblical worldview will see immediately how unified the universe is and that it’s math that permeates it because God is orderly and so is His creation. Knowing the Egyptian and Babylonian cultures from reading the Bible, it makes for a fascinating documentary to see how, for example, the Egyptians dealt with the twice annual Nile floods and having as a result to re-organize the parcels of land and their attendant taxes. Up next will be the Greeks and then I hope Fibonacci when they cover medieval maths.

Flowers are mathematical. How? Watch the video! (On Netflix and all 4 parts free on Youtube)


Yesterday I was asked to research what “Dominionism” is, and today on the Berean Research Twitter stream, I saw this. Rather than duplicate their good work, which mine would not be as concise and well-written, I refer you to this essay which explains it so well. Included in the explanation is New Apostolic Reformation information, who the leaders of this movement are, and what they believe. There are also extra links.

Dominionism (NAR)

The New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) is a dominionist movement which asserts that God is restoring the lost offices of church governance, namely the offices of Prophet and Apostle.


Here are a couple of good photo memes I came across this week.

Have you experienced a sermon where the pastor does that? I have, in several different churches. It seems pandemic that the pastor is a roving storyteller on stage. In one case, the long anecdotes delivered from the wandering preacher were not even his own but were stories plagiarized from another pastor’s life and told as if they were his own.

God said of those kinds of pastors,

Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, declares the LORD, who steal my words from one another. (Jeremiah 23:30).

God said of worthless shepherds who do not feed the flock,

Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture!” says the LORD. Therefore thus says the LORD God of Israel against the shepherds who feed My people: “You have scattered My flock, driven them away, and not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for the evil of your doings,” says the LORD. (Jeremiah 23:1-2)

I am currently blessed with a pastor who stands, at a real pulpit, and explains the Bible, accurately and passionately. Too many people do not understand that is what a pastor does. Here is a blog series which explains what a pastor’s duties are. And are not.

The Absence of Shepherds
Why Does God Call them Shepherds?
Don’t Starve the Sheep
Abusive Shepherds
What To Look for in a Shepherd
How Do We Measure a Shepherd’s Success?


Living in Georgia and being member of Southern Baptist Convention Churches means usually there is an invitation at the end of a sermon, to walk down the aisle and ‘accept Jesus’ and be written down in a log book and declared a Christian. This is done in children’s Sunday School classes and at VBS, too. Frequently the church’s pastor or an imported evangelism-revivalism type preacher would have us close our eyes at the end of the sermon and the seeker would parrot back a prayer the preacher said, and then sometimes even raise one’s hand to declare they have decided for Christ, no need to walk an aisle. Let’s make salvation easy. Hipster gatherings use glowsticks which are held up to indicate the seeker’s new allegiance to Jesus as a follower. The preachers would tell everyone to close their eyes while the music played, and the preacher says, “I see that hand, yes, I see that hand too.” Once a friend of mine who sat in the back said he peeked and there were no hands up.

What is the “invitation” or “altar call”?

An altar call is an appeal for an immediate public response to a sermon just preached. It is popularly called the invitation and as used in this context is an appeal for a public act of commitment and can involve hand raising, going to a counseling area or signing a commitment card. Most often it involves walking down the aisle to the front of a church auditorium. The altar call is tacked on to the end of a sermon and the invitation usually is to “come forward and accept Christ as your Savior.” Various emotional techniques such as telling sad, tear jerking stories and playing mood-creating music in the background are employed to encourage response to the altar call.  …

In Acts 2:36-37 we are told that at Pentecost 3,000 people were saved but no altar call was used. The saving of those 3,000 was the work of the Holy Spirit of God and not of clever emotional appeals to come to the front of the meeting place. Whatever reasons one may give for using the altar call, it is a fact that it cannot be supported from the word of God.

As we have already pointed out, some people believe and teach that if one does not give an invitation in connection with his sermon he is not evangelistic. But we cannot be more evangelistic than the New Testament and the altar call or invitation system is not to be found in the pages of the New Testament. Actually having an altar call is a departure from scriptural requirements and practice.

In the New Testament and in Christian history up until the year 1820 AD sinners were invited to Christ, not to decide at the end of a sermon whether to perform some physical action. You will search Christian history in vain for an altar call or invitation before about 1820. George Whitefield, the greatest evangelist perhaps of all time never used the altar call. Charles Spurgeon under whose preaching more people were saved than perhaps any other pastor over the centuries never gave an invitation.

Well, where did the altar call come from if God’s word doesn’t teach it? The answer is that the altar call is a human invention that is less than 200 years old.

Source: Why We Don’t Use the Altar Call. More at link.

I always resisted that kind of man-made decisionism and mourned those who were likely false converts, even before I knew what the Doctrines of Grace were. It just seemed manipulative to me. I prayed both for those who might have been prematurely declared a Christian and also prayed for the practice to stop. By God’s grace he opened my eyes and grew me to a better understanding of what justification is and God’s sovereignty over it, through illuminating His word. Here is a meme featuring Calvinist-Baptist Charles Spurgeon on man-made choosing God practices (Arminianism) and God’s sovereignty over His choice of the elect.

Yesterday I saw on Facebook a meme-photo titled “Things Peter Never Said” and I liked it but I can’t find it now. I re-created my own and it went something like this:

#Things Peter Never Said

If your blog roll is getting a little stale, here are 190 blogs for your consideration. Have you ever wondered how Tim Challies, popular blogger and book reviewer, manages to put out fresh content daily with all those wide-spread links? I have. Yesterday he answered the question and opened for public viewing his list of blogs from which he mines content. If you want to read some different perspectives than the blogs you always read, or just want to refresh your blog roll for others, here is a good resource.

190 Blogs I read


On Facebook, someone had posted 300 Books Everyone Should Read. I’ve been having a hard time lately with reading. I studied on my problem for a while and it boils down to two things, I think. I need new glasses, badly, and that means a trip into the city to see an ophthalmologist. It’s been 8 years since I last had an eye exam. I dislike the city and I dislike going to see doctors, hence the delay with proper eye-wear and my eyes feeling tired and blurry by the end of the day.

Secondly, in my ever present push to “be productive,” I’ve gravitated to reading only theological books, which is fine, but it also has sapped some of the fun out of reading. I haven’t read a good yarn since the Grisham book-before-last and the Will Thomas book-before-last. (Both of Grisham’s and Thomas’s most recent books were disappointing and I didn’t finish).

I decided to look at the list and see what someone considered “must-read literature.” I was not surprised by many of the titles on the list. Some of the titles were new to me, while others had long ago been on my own “must-read” list but had fallen by the wayside. I decided to look some of them up at Amazon.

If a book was a young adult book I wanted to read, like Lois Lowry’s “The Giver” or “Where the Red Fern Grows”, I decided to check them out from my school’s library. If the book was a movie, I decided to watch the movie. One such book was “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”.

It is a book about high school, something that fascinates me because I still haven’t figured out what THAT was all about, 40 years ago. Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982), Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986), Clueless (1995),  and Election (1999) are some of my favorite High School movies. FTARH and Election deal with one or two dark themes but those are handled well and the movie overall has a cinematic lightness to it. Literally, the movies are light. I found Perks online and began watching.

Perks was different. Though I did not know ahead of time what the themes were, apart from a shy boy negotiating the social miasma that is American high school, the movie was cinematically dark and somber in mood. After about fifteen minutes I became concerned with the direction the movie was taking. I decided to read the plot summary for the movie at Wikipedia instead of watch it. Themes dealt with in the movie were:

suicide by gun,
molestation of female minor,
molestation of male minor,
drugs, tobacco, alcohol,

All righty then.

I was glad I didn’t pursue the movie and I sadly mourn the themes our youth are subjected to these days. What a different 20-30 years makes… In addition, that is one of the reasons I gravitated away from fiction. Sigh. I guess the search continues.

I did purchase three books at Amazon. The Book Thief, The Kite Runner, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. I also have started Pilgrim’s Progress in conjunction with a free class I am taking, and a Jan Karon book, Home To Holly Springs. Spring Break is on the horizon and I will be ready (as long as my eyes are!)


Our new church plant begins small groups today, praise the Lord. I am so proud of our elders and the way they unroll each new aspect of our new church under submission to the leading of the Spirit and done in a manner of unity and mutual respect. The men are certainly good examples to someone like me. Because of the timing of the place we are renting, our services begin at 3:30pm (WHICH I LOVE!) and our first small groups begin afterwards in various homes today. If you can find the time to pray for our church once in a while, I would appreciate it.

Have a blessed Lord’s Day everyone.

Posted in challies, encouragement, flavel, providence

The Wonder of God’s Providential care

After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven.
And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here”
Revelation 4:1

Pastor, author and blogger Tim Challies leads an informal book group at his site. He reads a chapter a week of a classic book of the faith and invites anyone to do the same along with him. Once per week he posts his thoughts and invites others to do the same in the comment section. The series is called “Reading Classics Together.” This time it was John Flavel’s book “The Mysteries of Providence”.

They concluded the excellent post-script piece at the end of Flavel’s “theologically dense” tome.  It is theologically dense. While the online informal ‘book club’ has concluded the book, I am still in chapter 3. But I am sticking with it because one of my favorite doctrines is the doctrine of Providence, how God ordains and orders all things in the universe and for each person on earth to accomplish His divine plan and purpose.

Apparently at the end of his wonderful treatment of the doctrine of God’s providence, Flavel wrote three simple rules for keeping a spiritual journal. Challies himself said he is a committed blogger but a sporadic journaler, but that these pieces of advice were enormously helpful. Flavel’s advice for keeping a journal was not to write a copious or emotional tell-all, but a streamlined journal for keeping in memory God’s answer to prayer and His grace in Providential care.

Challies wrote of Flavel’s exhortation,

First, understand that your memory is far too slippery to entrust with all of the amazing providences you have encountered in your life. It is true that we do not easily forget the things that greatly affect us, but still, new impressions have a way of overwriting existing ones. One wise man has said, “My memory never failed me because I never trusted it.” Writing down our important memories secures against forgetting them and has the added benefit of making them useful to others. Why would you carry all of this treasure to heaven with you? By writing down your memories you can leave them as a legacy to those who follow you. The loss of your money, your property, and your possessions counts for nothing next to losing the record of God’s faithfulness to you.

I am an incessant writer. Before the internet was invented I kept lists, notes, wrote stories, academic papers, was a journalist, and a pen pal. I even got a calendar each year with big enough squares to write down a sentence or two of what I did that day. I was always writing something. But I never kept a journal.

I don’t like journals, myself. I am a chronicler of external events, not an introspective explorer of personal emotions. But whenever I traveled I did keep a travel journal. In thinking of Flavel’s advice for spiritual journaling, I also was struck by advice #2,

Second, do not simply record these treasures in a book, but also ensure that you refer to them often. When you experience wants or needs or difficulties, or when temptations assault you, turn to the written record of God’s past graces. When when are in any kind of distress it will do your soul good to see how God has faithfully delivered you from similar situations in the past.

I still had all my travel journals. I remember a lot but not everything, as Flavel opined. What had I written those years ago? Curious, I dug out my first travel journal from 1978. I was part of a High School senior class group traveling to London. Living in Rhode Island, we took a bus to Boston- Logan Airport and departed for Europe from there.

I do clearly remember many of the events of my life. I even remember my ebullient joy at this first plane ride. It was exhilarating to be lifted off the ground and also wondrous to see the small specks below that are people on earth living their lives. But I had forgotten this all-important detail:

Plane, 10:55 pm. Just completed takeoff. It was the most fantastic experience I ever had in my whole life. At first the plane went slow, then we saw the runway and we started to go fast, and the next thing I knew was the lights of Boston. They were beautiful. Like spider webs in the morning. The next second we were over Provincetown, and the next second I saw Nantucket.

Plane, 2:00AM (U.S). Sunrise, beautiful I’m watching one side of the world wake up, while the other side is still sleeping. It is all pink and blue, and the clouds are like cotton. The stewardess just asked us to lower our shades because the sun will be up soon and some people would like to sleep.

No way! I’m not going to miss this for all the gold on earth. This is God’s handiwork. I’m not turning down an offering from God. I’ve decided that this is heaven. When I die I want to spend eternity here. Nothing but God could have made this. This is another world.

There are magnificent layers of God’s Providence here. I was 17 years old at that time, but not saved. Romans 1 tells us we all know that God created the world but we suppress this truth in unrighteousness and worship the creation instead. God in His grace did not let me suppress this. Instead, when He showed Himself to me at 37,000 feet, I celebrated Him. This is because God made it plain. (Romans 1:18-20). Since then He has worked throughout my life, providentially.

How providential that I’d been reading a book about Providence and Challies’ comment about journaling. What prompted me to go get my travel journal out of its tucked-away, dusty bin? It is a book I haven’t looked at in nearly 40 years. His Spirit. Providentially, I had recorded my first inklings and stirrings of God’s witness of Himself to my heart through His creation. Providentially a book on Providence spurred me to re-think recording His graces, and unbeknownst to me, I had already started, 37 years ago.

For a further 26 years from that moment on the plane I wandered the earth as a sinful and evil person, living a life at enmity with God. Yet in His appointed time, He caused me to pass through His gates with thanksgiving. Ten more years have passed since that day of justification. Now more than ever, I can say with conviction and certainty that I will spend eternity up there, with God. His merciful gift of salvation is worth more than all the gold on earth, because at the center of it is Jesus.

The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, And His sovereignty rules over all (Psalm 103:19)

Posted in bible twisters, calvinist, challies, steve lawson

Steve Lawson Thug Life, Calvinist Light Bulb joke, how to twist the bible, Challies graphic, etc.

Here are some dribs and drabs. Nothing too long or involved.

From Ray Comfort’s Facebook page:

(Ray Comfort) QUESTION is asked: “What do you say to devoted and faithful gay Christians?” R.J.
RAY COMFORT ANSWERS: “I would say the same thing that I would say to devoted and faithful adulterous people who call themselves Christians. Or to devoted and faithful people who steal or fornicate, and call themselves Christians.I would tell them that hypocrisy is self-deceptive, that we cannot serve sin and call ourselves Christians.I would only say that because I care about those who profess to be saved, but don’t have “the things that accompany salvation.”

I love Tim Challies‘ work with graphical presentations of truth.

“If a truth is worthy to be revealed in the Bible, it is worthy of being preached. And so, I don’t make apology – well, you knew that – I don’t make any apology for preaching the doctrine of predestination or election.” S. Lewis Johnson, sermon The Grandest Epistle

Here is how to not just twist, but mangle, God’s word. Making the rounds on nominal Christian’s Facebook pages. Satan is the creations’ MOST subtle creature.

A guy on Youtube takes very short clips from famous pastors dropping the boom on this false teaching or that false pastor. Thug Life, lol. Here, Steve Lawson drops the boom on Joel Osteen.

Ouch. Hard truth ahead. Judgment cometh

I laughed very hard at this. And again and again and again as I re-told it at church Sunday to my three Calvinist friends there.

John MacArthur preaching through the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5, 6, and 7. This is his sermon in the series, “Happiness Is…

Listen, if you’re looking for happiness in the world’s goods, you’re in the wrong place. The tree of happiness doesn’t grow in the cursed earth. It’s not there. Physical things don’t touch the soul. Did you get that? It’s a simple point but I want you to think it through. Physical things don’t touch the soul. You cannot fill a spiritual need with a physical substance. It can’t be done. But people try to do it.

You know, I mean if you’re really miserable in your marriage, go buy a new car. Or if you had a rotten argument with your wife, go out and buy a new suit. You’ll feel better. You cannot fill a spiritual need with a physical substance.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; Psalm 1:1

Posted in bible, challies, commentaries, discernment, macarthur, matthew henry, spurgeon, teaching

Sayings and mottos that sound pious but aren’t. #2: "I don’t use commentaries because they’re men’s wisdom. I only use God’s Word when I study."

Part 1 of the series, Sayings and mottos that sound pious but aren’t. #1: “Let Go and Let God”
Part 3 of the series “I’m too humble to think that I could ever know what the Bible really means”
Part 4 of the series  Pray Big Because We Have a Big God
Part 5 of the series He’s so heavenly minded he’s no earthly good


Some sayings sound legitimate on their surface. They sound pious. They sound biblical. Like this one: “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”. Only problem is, that one isn’t in the bible. At all.

It is sometimes hard to tell what truly is Christian and what merely sounds Christian. Charles Spurgeon wisely said, “Discernment is not a matter of simply telling the difference between right and wrong; rather it is telling the difference between right and almost right.” So what is right, and what is almost right (AKA ‘wrong’) about the following sayings which have become such cliches?

Some of these mottoes are:

  1. “Let go and let God”
  2. “I don’t use commentaries because they’re men’s wisdom. I only use God’s Word when I study.”
  3. “We can’t know for certain what the bible means, I’m not that smart”
  4. “Pray big because we have a big God.”
  5. “He’s so heavenly minded he’s no earthly good”

In part 1 we looked at “Let go and let God.” Now let’s look at #2,

“I don’t use commentaries because they’re men’s wisdom. I only use God’s Word when I study.”

“It has been the fashion of late years to speak against the use of commentaries…A respectable acquaintance with the opinions of the giants of the past, might have saved many an erratic thinker from wild interpretations and outrageous inferences.”
CH Spurgeon
Beth Moore says this a lot. It sounds like she’s being diligent and pious, doesn’t it? The phrase actually has a legitimate root. It’s called biblicism. GotQuestions defines biblicism as “Biblicism: a high regard for and obedience to the Bible as the ultimate authority” and this is a good thing.

However, many people take biblicism to an unintended end by rejecting all supportive works recognized as legitimately helpful by the Christian historical record.

It is less than pious to reject the wisdom of the faithful men God has raised up for our learning. God took time to mold men, justify them, install the Spirit in them, educate them, and empower them for good works. When we say “I don’t need commentaries” what we’re saying is that though we believe we have all the power necessary to learn all we need from the bible, (and we do, by the Spirit) it means we also totally reject God’s work in these men. It’s like saying, “I don’t need to listen to my pastor’s sermons because they are a man’s wisdom. I only need God’s Word” and then cover your ears in the pew and go la la la the entire sermon.

Jonathan Edwards

Who doesn’t need to read Jonathan Edwards’ sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God? Who isn’t blessed in reading SPurgeon’s sermon on God’s Providence? Who doesn’t need to listen to Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ sermon series on the Great Biblical Doctrines? Who can’t use a Matthew Henry or a John MacArthur commentary? Do the people who make this impious claim really understand what they are saying? More to the point, do they realize what they leave themselves open to? Solid biblical and theological scholarship that comes from seminaries and universities or from church fathers obviously in the Spirit (such as Spurgeon who never went to college OR seminary) who remain adherent to God’s word, is teaching that actually guards us against heresy and helps us to remember of the hard lessons of church and martyrdom history.

It seems odd, that certain men who talk so much of what the Holy Spirit reveals to themselves, should think so little of what he has revealed to others. ~Charles Spurgeon

In almost every book or Bible study since Breaking Free, when Moore began to depart from the bible, Moore relates experiences of direct revelation from God or conversations with God. This is what will tend to happen as one rejects solid teaching supplements, begins to slack off in personal study, and fall into the trap of mystical intuition. We need as much help as we can get to remain on the right side of sound doctrine. (Titus 2:1)

“The best commentators are those who have written upon only one book. Few men can comment eminently well upon the whole Bible.” Charles SpurgeonAnd there are also a few logical facts to consider…

In and of ourselves, we aren’t the end of all wisdom about God’s Word. So sometimes we need a little help. That’s what commentaries are for, to help us understand the Bible better. Now, of course studying the bible alone is preferable. It is THE starting point. But it shouldn’t be the only method. Be discerning. But don’t neglect the historical wealth of God’s work in good men.

Martin Luther

In this issue of the student magazine, The Encourager, the author William J. Brown wrote, “To say the written wisdom of Spurgeon, Whitefield, Wesley, Calvin, Luther, Augustine and others have no bearing on our lives shows a bit of arrogance on our part. All we have left of these men is what they wrote. Their pastoral voices cry from the pages of ink-stained books. These men were wise (in many ways much wiser in their times than we are in ours.) We need to listen to these men and the things they desire to teach us about God’s Word.

One caution: Do not allow commentaries, sermons, books, or other notes to dictate to you about what the bible says and means. Begin with the Word of God itself and allow the Spirit room to work in illuminating it to your mind.

Here are some resources for you:

John MacArthur essay: How to Enjoy Bible Study

Kay Arthur’s study “Titus…Living with Integrity in a Hostile Culture” begins with an explanation about

Kay Arthur

inductive bible study- what it means and how to do it. [note: link is to .pdf]

How to Use Bible Commentaries

In keeping with Spurgeon’s exhortation that the best commentaries are ones where the author focused his heart, mind and attention on one book, the standout which comes to mind is Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ exposition on Romans. As The Banner of Truth explains, “All over the world in the most diverse situations are to be found Christian men and women who owe an incalculable debt to the ministry of Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones who for thirty years was the minister of Westminster Chapel, London. His longest series of expositions was this 14 volume set of Romans, the greatest of New Testament Epistles.”

Martyn Lloyd-Jones sermons on Romans (free)
Martyn Lloyd-Jones commentary on Romans, 14-volume set for purchase

Pastor & book reviewer Tim Challies often makes recommendations on good commentaries. This link leads you to his page titled Best Commentaries on Each Book of the Bible

Wiki Commons, Amish housewife

To be sure, we strike a delicate balance between relying on the Spirit to illuminate the scriptures to us and consuming work the Spirit previously did in other men. We acknowledge that while He is all-sufficient for leading us into all truth (John 6:13), He is always working (John 5:17) and His work includes illuminating the meaning of scripture in others, too, who wrote it down for us.

Ultimately, the important thing is to actually read the bible. One may be surprised at how few people actually read it. I understand lives are busy. There’s a tendency to rely on one’s intuition, or at the other extreme, other people’s commentaries. Reading the bible is hard. Moms are busy, Dads are tired. Satan wants us to set daily reading aside ‘just for today.’ Soon you realize it has been two months.

When you begin, sometimes the text itself is hard to read. I just finished 1 & 2 Kings, and man, it was rough going. I hardly understood anything. The history was unfamiliar to me, the names were difficult to read and pronounce, the list of kings was confusing. I wanted to revert to the Prophets so many times, texts I love! But it’s important to just keep reading. Next time I read something from 1 or 2 Kings, it will be a bit easier. I needed to break that trail.

And now for something completely different, I think I’ll read Galatians next.

I use commentaries after I read a text, Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, old and new maps (I love seeing where these things are taking place), natural histories (if animals are mentioned or if the topography is important to the story), a Lexicon, Strong’s concordance, parallel verses, and more. I want to understand as much as possible about the text after I read it.

For example, it was helpful to know a simple thing like when I read “A Psalm of Ascents” to hear Phil Johnson explain that when the Israelites had to go to Jerusalem for a feast, it was uphill all the way. So they sang these song as they ascended. I looked up the topography and now I can better hear their singing in my mind and feel the dust under their feet and their tired legs as they ascend. Or when Elijah fled Jezebel from Mt Carmel to Beersheba to Mt Horeb, to see where he ran to and how far it was on a map.

Rely on scripture as your authority to learn the word of God and His revealed nature, and use supporting texts to expand your understanding for context and historical meaning. Don’t be abusive with them but don’t be ashamed, either. But above all, read the bible.

Commons, Photo by Savio Sebastian
Posted in challies, christian liberty, second commandment, son of god movie

Why I am NOT going to see the "Son of God" movie

I’ve been thinking about this movie just released called “Son of God.” By the same folks who made the miniseries for television “The Bible”, this movie theater film has been edited down from the ten hours of The Bible’s miniseries and re-used for the big screen.

It is a film that is in wide release, rare for a Christian film. It’s been ten years since the last wide release of a Christian film, Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of Christ”. The movie is being promoted heavily by such well known false pastors as Joel Osteen and Rick Warren, and even false Mark Driscoll’s Mars Hill Church Offers Free Pre-Screening of ‘Son of God’ Movie. So with all the Christian promotion, social media hubbub, and Hollywood attention, am I going to go see the movie?


First, I agree with Pastor Tim Challies about this particular topic. He said, “I believe this is one of those areas in which Christians need to acknowledge that some will believe the very opposite of what they themselves believe. Convictions will vary, even among Christians of the same theological stripe, which makes it an ideal time to obey Romans 14 and to refuse to pass judgment on one another.

I have read two excellent essays this week which crystallize two of my many concerns with the movie. First, Pastor and aspiring church planter Michael L. Johnson in Minneapolis quoted Exodus 20:4-6
and then said in his essay, The Movie “Son of God” and the Second Commandment that JI Packer advised what it means to adhere to the second commandment in contemporary society. He wrote,

…as soon as the images [of Jesus] are treated as representational rather than symbolic, they begin to corrupt the devotion they trigger. Since it is hard for us humans to avoid this pitfall, wisdom counsels once more that the better, safer way is to learn to do without them. Some risks aren’t worth taking” (p. 56).

Annnnd, this is why we should not put face and form to Jesus. It took exactly two days for the world to fall into the fleshly pitfall of seeing Jesus as a sexy man rather than who He is: God.

CNN’s Carol Costello thought Diogo Morgado’s bod was a bit too bodacious for Jesus Christ in the new film “Son of God.” On Thursday, she grilled Catholic priest Rev. James Martin about the historical accuracy of the savior’s pulchritude.“’Son of God’ is generating a lot of heat because Jesus is, um, so sexy!” Costello exclaimed. “He looks like Brad Pitt… The question for me became must Jesus be sexy too?” Costello was so skeezed by this depiction of the lord, she also penned an op-ed for I’m not the only one gawking at Morgado‘s Jesus. He inspired the hashtag, “#HotJesus.

Secondly, Pastor Tim Challies posted a good essay on the mystery of the cross vs. the method of execution, the crucifixion. Pastor Challies said,

A film cannot adequately capture the reality of what transpired between the Father and the Son while the Son hung upon the cross. … At the cross we encounter something no picture can tell. Its reality cannot be displayed. Even the eyewitnesses of the cross, those who saw it all unfold, walked away ignorant that day, needing words to explain what had happened there.

Challies goes on with a sensitive and thought-provoking essay about the difference between crucifixion as a method of execution, versus the mystery of the eternal holy wrathful exchange. The film can only show the cruel death of a man, even the Son of God, and not the real meaning of the cross. Watching something that is as profound as that, yet missing the mark because it is too profound to be contained on celluloid, diminishes the mystery and depth of the tremendous sacrifice our Trinitarian God made on behalf of humanity.

Of course, there are also theological concerns, as I had stated before when the mini-series initially came out.  Therefore, for all those reasons, I will not go see the movie. I hope you will take time to prayerfully consider all the implications, concerns, and biblical stances, and prayerfully weigh the the bible as you decide.

Posted in challies, discernment, jesus, watchblog

Challies, in the crosshairs of discernment bloggers, and whether discernment ministries are any good at all

Pastor, book reviewer and discernment blogger Tim Challies recently wrote an essay titled “In the Crosshairs of the Discernment Bloggers.” His post is causing an uproar. The uproar is for a lot of reasons, but I am not here to write about those. I’m writing about the confusion that has resulted for some people.

In his essay, Mr Challies lumped all discernment bloggers, or “watch bloggers” into one category. The irony that he is a discernment blogger himself wasn’t lost on many. He wrote, “They are the playground bullies of the Internet, shaking their fists and demanding your lunch money; if you give it to them you go hungry, if you don’t give it to them, you get your head shoved in a toilet. Where the Bible calls us to approach conflict with equal parts truth and love, discernment bloggers operate by lies and fear–or half-truths and fear at the very least. It is an intimidating combination if you are the one who may face their wrath.”

Subsequent to his essay, I received a query from someone who said they were not in the habit of reading discernment blogs and supposed that there are all kinds out there, some who do right and some who do wrong. That was a wise statement, but it got me wondering about the new Christian and babes in Christ. What are they to think? Is the entire well of the discernment ministry polluted? I believe Mr Challies did much to discredit the ministry, adding his voice to a growing chorus who either overtly or implicitly (as Mr Challies did) discount the ministry altogether. This is dangerous.

The first problem is that the essay did not name the ministry with which he had issue. This does a disservice to him, the other ministry and to the body in general. As I said a moment ago, it added confusion instead of clarity. No one can go to the other blog and discern whether their words were judgmental or discerning. (Credit: The American Judicature Society).

In the book of Timothy, Paul was not shy about naming the names of the false teachers – he named 8 of them. The NT wasn’t shy about naming the names of the movements that were perpetuating falsity, either, naming two that come to mind: Judaizers, Nicolaitans.

I consider myself a discernment blogger. I was given by grace through the Holy Spirit, the gift of discerning of spirits, prophecy, and teaching, along with faith. Because He has been so abundant giving His gifts to me, there is a responsibility for me to use them for the edification of the body. That is why I blog every day.

In modern times, the body has widened in every day practical life to extend to the global body. Cell phones, blogs, twitter, Facebook, Skype, and many other media have allowed connection to and discussion among believers across the world. This has certainly impacted missions, as it has impacted the kind of ministries now present on earth. Who would have thought of the blessing and benefit ten years ago of The Shepherd’s Conference being live streamed, and being able to watch 3000 men sing hymns to God and listen to astounding preaching at the same time they were receiving it? Or to pray for them while they were receiving it? That is the blessing.

With a widened body connected through media, comes the danger. There are a lot of things to discuss. But there are also conspiracies, mud fights between denominations and individuals, sinful teaching everywhere, and the tendency is to speak on these things carelessly. My personal barometer before blogging is to ask myself two questions, “Does it exalt Jesus?” and “Does it bring clarity or confusion to the situation?”

My e-mailer was right- as with any ministry, people, or organization, there are the good and the bad. I do agree that many watchblogs are gleefully maniacal when it comes to ‘discernment.’ We need discernment to know which discernment blogs to read!

Dr. John MacArthur wrote on the topic of discernment in March 2013, in Pulpit Magazine. (Note that link has gone dead but here is another). The title is “The formula for Biblical Discernment.” I think it applies to what Challies was trying to say

“It is quite true, of course, that exercising real discernment and being merely judgmental are two vastly different things. There are people who seem to take sinful delight in fault-finding, and they do sometimes try to justify their censorious spirit in the name of biblical discernment. But it isn’t terribly hard to distinguish true discernment from mere judgmentalism. Watch out for the full-time critic who constantly reproves and rebukes others but rarely offers any edifying instruction or exhortation when he is the one doing the teaching. Beware the self-styled discernment expert who is always hostile, scornful, or angry toward the subjects of his criticism. There is a place for indignation, sternness, and even sanctified sarcasm, but animosity should not be anyone’s default mode. Also, be especially cautious when you encounter someone who seems to take delight in uncovering others’ sins or constantly publishing shocking exposés. Gossip, guilt by association, mud-slinging, and personal slurs are fleshly weapons. “The anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God” (James 1:20). Some who fancy themselves skilled in the art of discernment are merely being fleshly and factious.”

Of course those are very wise words. The lengthy essay continues in describing what discernment is, why we need it, and how to apply it. I encourage one and all to go to the link and read the piece in full.

I liked how this website described the gift of discerning of spirits (1 Corinthians 12:10): “Discerning of

Spirits=Revelation Gift. Definitions: Recognizing what is of God verses the world, the flesh, and the devil. Example: Paul recognizing that the girl in Philippi had a spirit of divination.” They go on-

Discerning of spirits is the supernatural ability given by the Holy Spirit to perceive the source of a spiritual manifestation and determine whether it is of God (Acts 10:30-35), of the devil (Acts 16:16-18), of man (Acts 8:18-23), or of the world. It is not mind reading, psychic phenomena, or the ability to criticize and find fault.

Discerning of spirits must be done by the power of the Holy Spirit; He bears witness with our spirit when something is or is not of God. The gift of discerning of spirits is the supernatural power to detect the realm of the spirits and their activities. It implies the power of spiritual insight – the supernatural revelation of plans and purposes of the enemy and his forces. It is a gift which protects and guards your Christian life.

How to Test a Spirit

You can discern or test whether or not a spirit is of God by the following three ways:
–Observing what a person does. In Matthew 7:15-20, Jesus explains that false prophets are known by their fruit – by their conduct and actions.
–Observing whether or not a person exalts Jesus Christ as the Son of God and as Lord and Savior (1 Corinthians 12:3).
–By listening to what a person says (I John 4:1-3). Does their confession line up with the truth of God’s Word?

This is not to excuse the Christian to whom the Spirit has not bestowed the specific gift. We are all to display wisdom in our dealings. 1 Thessalonians 5:21 says “but test everything; hold fast what is good.” Rely on the Spirit for judicial and correct application of that verse and the others (1 John 4:1, 1 Cor 14:29) which will grow your skill in discernment even if you do not have the gift. However, Christians with the specific gift strive to use it in every area available to them to edify the body (1 Corinthians 14:3-5, 12, 17, 26; Ephesians 4:12). It is not to be carelessly used to gratify the ego, puff up personal pride, or sling mud.

Those with the gift of “discerning of spirits” or discernment do often run into a problem of pride, and/or of entrenched negativity due to the nature of the ministry. I have to watch out for that myself. With the ease of setting up a blog and gaining an audience, these kinds of sites have proliferated. Look at Jeremiah, depressed and petulant with God. Elijah, running away and then demanding fire from heaven instead of a still small voice. One can get pretty angry and negative. It is a tough, tough ministry. (Graphic, Bible Yellow Pages)

I’ve often said that it’s much more nice to be in a helps ministry. You bring cake. Everyone loves you. In a discernment ministry, you point out sin and call people to accountability and repentance. No one likes you. It always involves some sort of conflict. It gets tiring, and when one is tired they don’t guard against negativity. I combat that by praying and looking to Jesus. But someday I may start slipping. I pray good people will point it out to me if I slide toward constant negativity in tone or subject.

I give the Holy Spirit credit in Justin Peters’ case. He has been a discernment preacher for many years and he is still as gracious and gentle as he was when he started. A hard thing to do for the flesh is weak. Thereby we know it is the Spirit who strengthens Mr Peters. This is to the glory of Jesus.

Some people do not fall into negativity over time, but incorrectly use the concept of discernment as an excuse to bully right off the bat.

But worse, others take the “judge not” verse to the other extreme. That is what Challies is intimating in my opinion. It is what MacArthur was addressing, he said in the same article,

“It is tragic that real discernment is considered out of fashion by so many evangelicals, because the church has never been more desperately in need of sober, discerning hearts and distinct, authoritative voices to call the people of God back to the clarity and authority of His Word. … An undiscerning church has no defense against false teaching.”

Liberals unfortunately piggy-back on the proliferation of negative discernment bullies and use them to make the claim that discernment isn’t needed at all. “Judge not!” they say (a stance MacArthur addresses also in his essay.” Those ‘bullies’ are actually doing satan’s job for him because the more people pull back on discernment, the more satan infiltrates, and the more the few discerners out there have to do and point out. It is a downward cycle.

Friends, use discernment when reading discernment blogs, including mine. MacArthur’s words above are

wise. Is the blog a screed of hateful and gleeful finger pointing? Or is the finger pointing to Jesus in hopes that restoration and repentance can arise from the false teaching or bad situation being written about? It is not hard to detect the difference between judgmentalism and discernment, the Spirit is there to lead you. And if you ever want more wisdom, pray to the spirit and He will give it without reproach.

Posted in challies, conflict, doctrine, voskamp

In which Tim Challies realizes Ann Voskamp is a real person

Canadian pastor and writer Tim Challies is a book reviewer. He runs a very successful and widely read website at Many people, including myself, read his book reviews of Christian books with eagerness, because he is loving, credible, and discerning. As for discerning, Tim wrote the book on discernment, literally. He is a good writer and a gentle Christian even when he writes a negative review.

Last week Mr Challies reviewed Ann Voskamp’s book “One Thousand Gifts“. He gave it a ‘not recommended,’ stating at the first paragraph of his three paragraph conclusion, “Though One Thousand Gifts is not without some strengths, in its own subtle way I believe that it can and will prove dangerous, at least to some. Many will read it, embrace their need for gratitude, and genuinely be more grateful to God. This is well and good. There are many books that contain valuable takeaways even if they also contain significant weaknesses. It doesn’t make you a bad person or an immature Christian if you’ve read it and enjoyed it. But perhaps you’d do well to make sure you haven’t bought into it all the way.” He goes on to praise its strengths but overall he cautions the discerning reader because the book fails to “more clearly display the power of Scripture to show us our shortcomings and display the gospel’s power over them.” He noted what many have noticed, the book’s drift toward Gnosticism.

Okey dokey then.

Then a day later Mr Challies received an invitation to lunch at Mrs Voskamp’s house, two hours away. Gulp. Having to face her as a person so shortly after his review of the book, he wrote a retraction essay titled, “In Which I Ask Ann Voskamp’s Forgiveness…

He wrote, “Having said all of that, something happened inside me when I saw Ann’s name in my inbox, and that’s what has compelled me to write this little article. Seeing her name brought a sudden and surprising realization and with it a twinge of guilt and remorse.”

He makes it clear he had no moral qualms about not recommending the book, but rather that his guilt lay in the fact that he perceived that he treated a sister in the faith badly. He said, “Yet in my review I had treated her as if her words mean less than mine, as if I was free to criticize her in a way I would not want to be criticized.”

Now you lost me.

Perhaps I am a mean and unloving person, insensitive to the more nuanced expressions of empathy and oblivious to the tender affections emanating from others. I must be, because I read nothing in Mr Challies review that lacked sensitivity or indicated he had approached the task of reviewing a sister’s book with anything less than full bore mental acuity tempered with affection and mindfulness of our sanctified position before Christ.

Therefore when I read the forgiveness essay I was dismayed for two reasons. First, because of what he wrote here:

“Looking back at my review, and perhaps even more, the process of writing it, there are at least two things that concern me. The first is that I would have said certain things differently had I known that she and I might soon be sharing a meal together.”

Of course we would write or say things differently if we knew that we’d be facing the person within the next week. That’s the problem. The point is NOT to write or say things differently if we knew we would be seeing them the next moment but to prayerfully approach the task and write as the Spirit leads, speaking the truth in love. And then standing by it. Mr Challies wrung his hands over language he intimated he thought borders on hate-speech regarding Ms Voskamp’s literary style, here, “There is clearly a kind of appeal to it so that those who don’t hate it, love it.”’

Seriously? A commenter stated “I read your review of her book and found nothing wrong with it. You, of all people, do not need to worry about sounding unloving. I sure hope Rob Bell never invites you over for a BBQ.”


Far be it for me to say one way or another how a person feels about things they have said or done, and obviously Mr Challies felt remorse and so did what he did, which is publicly seek forgiveness for language he felt was too strong. I do not feel it was unloving language, but he did. So be it. It was his subjective call to make.

But the second front on which I felt dismay for this public hand-wringing is based on a more objective observation: the general climate of discernment within Christian circles. Christians these days are already assaulted with appeals to never say anything bad about anyone for any reason, especially against teachings a fellow believer brings- even if the teachings are false! The climate is to stay ‘unified’ and remain above the fray so as to avoid conflict. His forgiveness essay sets those of us back who do not hold to that ecumenical, let’s all get along at all costs mentality, and in a big way.

Later, in the comments section, a Reg Schofield commented, “I’m a bit confused here Tim. The review itself was not a direct attack on her as a person but on what you perceived as her weakness in how she handles scripture and certain views of the gospel narrative. Now it is true that what one writes is a reflection of ones soul but if what is written shows some problems, they have to be taken to task. I have read enough of the book to see some truly troubling elements, which she needs to be called out on. Any writer who get published must be willing to be scrutinized. I don’t see the need to ask for forgiveness. So if Joel Osteen sends you a e-mail to do lunch, are you going to do the same.”

Mr Challies responded, “I guess that is exactly part of the problem; in my mind I was equating the Joel Osteen’s of the world and the Ann Voskamp’s of the world–lumping all “outsiders” together. There are some people who deserve the harshest kinds of rebuke from Christians; there are others who do not. I have not been careful enough to distinguish between them.” And later, he wrote, “I would want to draw a distinction between T.D. Jakes and Ann Voskamp. T.D. Jakes subscribes to heretical theology; I have never seen anything from Ann Voskamp that would label her a heretic. That’s a crucial distinction!”

No it isn’t. The implication he makes here is that we musn’t say negative things about believers who are bringing false doctrine. It may not be what he intended, but that is the implication.

There are many examples in the bible of speaking plainly to and in front of believers who need correction. I am NOT saying it isn’t good to examine our language occasionally to see if we could be serving Christ better with our words. But feeding into the current cultural mentality that we must pick and choose words so as to never hurt another’s feelings harms the stand we must sometimes make for Christ. It elevates feelings above the advancement of the Kingdom. Let’s contrast what I just said with the biblical examples:

Picture Paul sitting at his desk in Canada. He gets an email reporting that there is sexual immorality in one of his churches. He writes back, “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.”… a couple of verses later he called for them “To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” (1 Cor 5:1-2, 5)

He called the people of the congregation arrogant! Paul told them to put the man out of fellowship so satan could deal with him! Now let’s picture Paul receiving an invitation to sup with the perpetrator of the immorality the next day, and this prompts him to write what Mr Challies wrote: “I did poorly here and I can see that I need to grow in my ability to critique the ideas in a book even while being kind and loving to its author.”

Or Galatians 2:1 where Paul said this: “But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.”

How dare a fellow believer say another believer is condemned! But Paul did, and he didn’t retract it later just because he was invited to have a sandwich at Peter’s house. Paul made no ‘crucial distinction’ about the person he said it to. And it was language that was a lot rougher than Mr Challies. Yet it is in the bible. Paul said what he said so that doctrine would be upheld, and so that the watching believers, and Peter himself, would return to purity. Did Paul second guess his language, wondering as Mr Challies wrote, “…I can’t deny that somewhere in my mind lurks this insider and outsider kind of thinking which somehow encourages me to extend greater courtesy to one group than another”?” Yet there is no doubt that Paul loved Peter, and extended every courtesy to him.

Peter charged Ananias, a fellow believer, with having a heart filled with satan. He charged Sapphira, Ananias’s wife with the same, being a liar.

Paul wrote to Timothy, saying pastors of the church Hymenaeus and Alexander were “blasphemers”. (1 Timothy 1:19b-20).

Paul wrote to Timothy again, charging Hymenaeus and Philetus with being irreverent babblers whose false teaching will spread like gangrene and upsets the faith of some. (2 Tim 2:16-19). Strong language!

Paul did not later retract and write the following: “There is value in engaging the ideas in any [teaching], and especially a [teaching] about this Christian life, but the desire to uphold truth has no business coming into conflict with love for another person. Truth and love are to be held together as friends, not separated as if they are enemies. In my desire to say what was true, I failed to love. I ask [Hymenaeus and Philetus’s] forgiveness for this.”

And herein lies the problem. The current cultural Christian mentality is that speaking against false doctrine is unloving.

In some cases, we are called to conflict. Conflict is loving, when it has the ultimate goal of restoring some to the faith, or of warning others of false doctrine. Mr Challies’ statement above unfortunately advances the false notion that conflict is to be avoided at all costs.

Have we all become so sensitive that we receive the gentle words Challies utters as hate speech to be immediately retracted on the flimsy premise that we will soon have a BBQ together? Yes. And here is the result.

Beth Moore ‏tweeted, “Thank you for this important piece. Sometimes I think God’s point with us is more toward mutual esteem than agreement.”

Mutual esteem is more important to God than Christian agreement on doctrine? Esteem?

Doctrine always brings disagreement. Avoiding it means you avoid standing on it. Period. But the ‘let’s all get along crowd’ is going to leap on Mr Challies’ highly public hand wringing, forgiveness sensitivity training exercise and run with it. You mark my words.

To be clear, I am not for conflict as a rule. In a verse before the one where Paul charged Hymenaeus and Philetus with being irreverent babblers, Paul wrote, “Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” (2 Tim 2:141-5).

The key is rightly handing the word of truth- and knowing when a quarrel advances the kingdom and when it doesn’t. Paul was much more straightforward and blunt in his charges against believers, and Mr Challies is anything but blunt. It is my opinion Mr Challies’ forgiveness essay, as gentle as it was to begin with, rather than advance the call for discernment and exhortation against falsity, ultimately harms it.

Posted in challies, macarthur

This and That

Here is some good stuff:

Pastor Jordan Hall’s website, Pulpit & Pen. I enjoy his forthrightness and his humor. A Montanan of the Reformed Southern Baptist variety, this young pastor is incisive and funny. For example, his latest essay as of this writing is titled, Friendship Evangelism: Winning Souls by Your Awesome Personality. LOL! Here is another sardonic romp, “Stupid Church Signs“.

Tim Challies has an excellent essay (when are they ever NOT excellent?) titled “Don’t tweet that sermon“. The piece explores five biblical-ish reasons not to live tweet a sermon. (I added the -ish because the bible doesn’t directly address iPads and tweeting, silly).

John MacArthur’s recent sermon “The startling servant of Jehovah.” Exploring Isaiah 52:13-15, my favorite bible teacher does it again, brings to life the majestic God that is Jesus while at the same time slaying me with the vividness of His personal sacrifice. If you need a great dose of Jesus, this sermon is it.

Erin Benzinger responded to the current issue of people eschewing ‘dry theology’ for live friendship Gospel-evangelizing in a pointed, clear, convicting way in Perry Noble misses the point. Don’t miss.

These are brothers and sisters in the faith, writing about life with Jesus as their backdrop. Their blogs are engaging, loving, and homey. If you want to visit some wonderful Christian people living life and honoring Jesus with their life and words, go to these blogs:

Lin: Backyard In Motion
Tracy: Nothing New Under the Sun
Lydia: Disciple’s Diary
Kelly: The Weeping Prophet 
Barbara: Wingabouts
Linda: Today’s Grace
Sandee: Serve Him In the Waiting
Jean-Louis: The Light Seed
Kim: The Incredible Gift
Child of God: CPR Ezra 8:23

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Revelation 2:29). Pray, read, and listen to Him, our Greatest treasure!