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)

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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.

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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?

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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
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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

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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,
homosexuality,
bullying,
drugs, tobacco, alcohol,
fornication.
abortion

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!)

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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 discernment, heaven, heaven tourism, macarthur, spurgeon

Heaven tourism books are bad; some heaven books are good

“Heaven tourism” is a phrase I believe was coined by blogger Tim Challies, picked up and used frequently by teacher and lecturer Justin Peters. It is a phrase indicating that a person has had some sort of trauma like a car crash or medical issue, or perhaps was in desperate emotional state, and in the unconscious portion of their trauma, they claimed to have visited heaven.

When ‘coming to’ they remember their alleged visit or vision, and write it down, later to become a book or a movie.

None of these visits are real. No person has gone to heaven and returned, (John 3:13; Deuteronomy 30:12) with the exception of the few persons in the Bible such as John, Paul, Ezekiel, or Isaiah and having subsequently written inspired text. John Gill’s Commentary says of the John 3:13 verse:

And no man hath ascended into heaven,…. Though Enoch and Elias had, yet not by their own power, nor in the sense our Lord designs; whose meaning is, that no man had, or could go up to heaven, to bring from thence the knowledge of divine and heavenly things; in which sense the phrase is used in Deuteronomy 30:12

John MacAthur’s sermon says of the John 3:13 verse,

You either take what Jesus says, or you’re a fool because, you can’t ascend into heaven and find the answers for yourself.

And yet these books keep coming. it is part of the demonic delusion and apostasy that satan, god of this world, instills in the vulnerable, ignorant, or hapless.

A new book is out by a man named John Burke. You see in his summary below that he did the typically wrong approach to biblical interpretation. He collected man’s stories and experiences, affirming them as true and credible, and then compared them to the Bible. He is in effect saying that the experience, simply because it occurred and mimicked something from holy text, that it must be true. The blurb says, their ‘experiences point to the heaven promised in the Bible’. Well, it’s the Bible that points to heaven, and as a matter of fact, the Bible’s version of anything is the only credible word on anything, because it comes from God, who cannot lie.

Imagine Heaven: Near-Death Experiences, God’s Promises, and the Exhilarating Future That Awaits You

Burke shows how the common experiences shared by thousands of near-death survivors–including doctors, college professors, bank presidents, people of all ages and cultures, and even blind people–point to the exhilarating picture of Heaven promised in the Bible.
This thrilling journey into the afterlife will make you feel like you’ve been there, forever changing the way you view the life to come–and the way you live your life today. You’ll discover Heaven is even more amazing than you’ve ever imagined.

We should be exhilarated at the glorious future awaiting us not because John Burke said so. We should be exhilarated by our glorious future not based on the flimsy experiences of man but by the word of God as revealed in the Bible. These heaven tourism books, like the one above, are specifically saying to you, “Never mind what God said about heaven, John Burke’s version will exhilarate you! Joe Schmoe’s tale will really get you going!” Blasphemous, isn’t it.

The Bible says we never look to experience first, it can be faulty. We look to God’s word first. Even the Apostles who were privileged to see a vision of Jesus transfigured along with Moses and Elijah, said that they do not preach their experience but test all things against the word of God. If that was the Apostle’s approach, men whom the Lord chose to carry His first message and were personally taught by Him, and who later wrote His words by Spirit-inspiration, would have preached their experience. But none of them did.

How much more important would it be for us today to follow their command and avoid preaching our experience? More to the point, how much more prideful and narcissistic is it to reject their commands and do it anyway? (2 Peter 1:20).

Do not preach your experience. Here is an excerpt from an essay written by Dr Bob Luginbill from the University of Louisville titled Scripture versus Personal Experience. I’m not familiar overall with the teaching of Dr Luginbill, but everything I read on this page discussing scripture vs. experience is explained well and accurately from the Bible.

In reality, of course, God is the One who determines how and when He communicates to us, and as it says in the book of Hebrews, “in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son”, even though before the incarnation He had spoken to us via prophets “at many times and in various ways” (Heb.1:1-2 NIV). So it is Jesus who is the Message; and He is “the Word of God” (Rev.19:13). We now have the whole written word of Him who is the Living Word, and that is the place to which we are now to direct our attention, namely to the truth of the holy scriptures. And we can certainly do so, because not only do we all have Bibles, and not only is the Body equipped with teachers who can illuminate it for us, but we all also actually have the Holy Spirit indwelling us for illumination, and He is “the [very] Mind of Christ” 

It certainly made sense for God to speak directly to, say, Enoch, before the Bible existed in any form. But if He really were communicating directly to believers in a verbal way today, wouldn’t that undermine the authority of the Bible, and all pastor-teachers, and in fact everything anyone else might say or have said to us except this special person – because after all the person with that special channel would be getting it directly from God. But the Lord has established His Church for a reason, and the mutual support we give each other for learning the truth is a very large part of what we are supposed to be about – this service is a large part of the basis for our eternal rewards. If there were a direct channel, we wouldn’t need each other much at all.

I do not recommend the Burke heaven tourism book or any of the books in this panorama below, many of which I have read myself and have found them to be unbiblical.

If you want to read books that are based on the Bible’s presentation of heaven, please consider some of the following. I’ve read all of them.

John MacArthur: The Glory of Heaven

A quick look at a list of bestselling books and you’ll see that heaven is a hot topic. After all, who doesn’t wonder and long to know more about the place you’ll forever live in the presence of God, untouched by sorrow, pain, and fear. What will it be like? What will you do in heaven? How will you recognize and relate to loved ones there?  

The problem is, runaway books about heaven are selling—and misleading people—by the millions. They are filled with fabricated, fictional accounts that claim to tell the truth about heaven. John MacArthur critiques those claims—and offers an in-depth, biblical explanation of God’s eternal city—in a fully revised, new edition of The Glory of Heaven. You’ll discover what the Bible really teaches about your glorious future home.

Erwin Lutzer: One Minute After You Die

“One minute after you die you will either be elated or terrified. And it will be too late to reroute your travel plans.” 

Death comes to all, and yet death is not the end. For some, death is the beginning of unending bliss, for others, unending despair. In this latest edition of the bestselling book One Minute After You Die, Pastor Erwin W. Lutzer weighs the Bible’s words on life after death. He considers: Channeling, reincarnation, and near-death experiences; What heaven and hell will be like; The justice of eternal punishment; Trusting in God’s providence.

Randy Alcorn: Heaven

What will heaven be like? Randy Alcorn presents a thoroughly biblical answer, based on years of careful study, presented in an engaging, reader-friendly style. His conclusions will surprise readers and stretch their thinking about this important subject. Heaven will inspire readers to long for heaven while they’re living on earth.

Randy Alcorn/Charles Spurgeon: We Shall See God- Charles Spurgeon’s Classic Devotional Thoughts on Heaven

Some of Spurgeon’s most powerful sermons were those that he preached on the topic of Heaven. … Randy Alcorn has compiled the most profound spiritual insights on the topic of eternity from these sermons and arranged them into an easily-accessible highly inspirational devotional format complete with his own comments and devotional thoughts.

The Bible is the only reliable source regarding heaven. Honor our Jesus, who descended from his abode in glory to live as a man on an earth whose ground had been cursed, absorbed all God’s wrath meant for us, died a horrible, humiliating death, and was buried in a borrowed tomb. His life of preaching and teaching and the Spirit’s subsequent inspired texts should be honored as the first and the last word. If you would rather look at heaven through Joe Schmoe’s eyes and not through the Spirit’s truth, you have a serious problem.

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Further reading

LifeWay abandons heavenly visitation resources

A Justin Peters video teaching: Heavenly Tourism (one hour)

Tim Challies on the topic of Heaven Tourism

Posted in jesus, macarthur, S. Lewis Johnson

Expositor FM: A new internet 24-hour radio station

My face when someone says they are doing a Beth Moore study/doing a Jesus Calling Devotional/posting a Joyce Meyer quote.

Here is a link to some critiques of these women who are doing harm to the faithful.

Woman to Woman

On the upside, John MacArthur at Grace To You has launched a new internet radio station. 24 hours of SOLID bible teaching adn hymns. I have listened to it for the several days it has been up and it’s great! I heard a wonderful exposition of Jonah 1-2 from James Montgomery Boice and iI loved every minute of it. The sermons come from the aforementioned Boice, Steve Lawson, John MacArthur, S. Lewis Johnson, Dan Duncan, The Master’s Seminary, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and Dr Barnhouse. If you enjoy having ‘background’ stuff on while you’re at home doing chores, ladies, this will fill the bill. Nothing errant or wild or wrong will pollute you. If you enjoy listening to sermons with focused attention, this station also fills the bill. Meaty and doctrinal, edifying and faith-building, I recommend Expositor FM.

http://www.expositor.fm/

Posted in abide, encouragement, macarthur, scripture photo

Scripture photo and sermon recommendation

I recommend this recent series from John MacArthur, on John 15:1-11

I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2“Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. 3“You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. 6“If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. 7“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8“My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. 9“Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. 10“If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. 11“These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.

The Benefits of Abiding in Christ, Part 1

The Benefits of Abiding in Christ, Part 2

The Benefits of Abiding in Christ, Part 3

Posted in aliens and strangers, encouragement, heaven tourism, macarthur, prayer, sermons

The RIGHT kind of Heaven Tourism

Mike Riccardi at The Cripplegate began an excellent essay on the times in which we live this way:

The last few months have been emotionally tiring for Christians in America.

You can say that again.

The last few months have been emotionally tiring for Christians in America.

Weary with burdens? Climbing an endless mountain?
Let the Lord refresh you. (EPrata photo)

I don’t need to go over it all, we know what Pastor Riccardi means. We all know we are living in a sinful world, we all know we contribute to the sins that are piling up to heaven (though thank the Lord we are forgiven for them.) We are tired and we are weary. ANd it has only just begun.

The love of Jesus is a mystery in its depth and breadth and height and width and its eternality since before time began. This love given to us from heaven is incomprehensible and would overflow us if we received it openly in unglorified bodies.

so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge…(Ephesians 3:17-19a)

Similarly, the hatred of satan is a mystery to us. We are unable to fully comprehend its evilness. We all know that the depths of sin and its ugliness is still a mystery to us, until some heinous acts are then exposed and we very nearly succumb to the shock. Remember, these heinous acts have been ongoing since the beginning of the world. Yet Christ in His mercy doesn’t reveal them all to us at once, else we wold veritably collapse from emotional exhaustion and spiritual despair. The last month has been hard enough.

the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. (Matthew 12:35a)

But it’s still difficult to deal with when we see previously unrevealed depths of depravity.

So what can we do when faced with incomprehensible evil? We can remember we are missionaries, aliens and strangers and this is not our home.

Our home is over yonder. EPrata photo

 For we are strangers before you and sojourners, as all our fathers were. Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding. (1 Chronicles 29:15)

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; (Philippians 3:20)

We all know the summary of the verse at John 17:16, ‘we are in the world but not of it.’ In practical terms, I heard it explained best by Alistair Begg, “The boat is supposed to be in the water, but the water isn’t supposed to be in the boat.” ~Alistair Begg.

What can we do to get the water out of our boat?

Take a missionary leave to heaven. Yes, enjoy some heaven tourism. All missionaries get leave to go home once in a while. We all need a vacation from our daily grind. So go home to heaven. Here is how to do it:

First, pray. The Lord will call us home bodily in His good timing. But every day we can visit our home through prayer. When your kids go on mission, or go to college, or move a distance away, don’t they Skype with you? Don’t they call? They are not in their in body to be with their father but they communicate with home base. Who doesn’t remember being a shaky, tearful kid alone at college, or on the Army base, and calling home to receive some love from Dad or comfort from Mom?

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. (Romans 8:26)

Stuck on this planet, our friends and colleagues perhaps have made it back home before us, lonely, shaky, tearful wanderer, pray. It is the “ET phone home” of Christianity.

Next, read the Bible. It is the security blanket the alien and stranger on this planet needs to stay warm, stay energized, stay effective. It is the energy pill, immunization shot, protein drink we need as we go out and complete our missionary tasks on planet Earth. When we are overcome with darkness because of the world, then overcome darkness with Light! The light is reading God’s word and seeing the face of Jesus. We can’t actually go to heaven and see Him yet, but we can behold His countenance by reading His words and having the Spirit point us toward Him. Behold His glory through the Word.

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Third, wash yourself, wrap yourself in the Word by listening to a good sermon. Stay away from secular radio, avoid even Christian radio. Most times even Christian radio with its sad news coupled with songs that are only doctrine-light will not uplift you but bring you down. There is no better refreshment than the Living water to enliven the weary traveler, as we are.

When you listen to a good expositor plumb the beauteous depths of God’s word it washes over you like a flood of love and light. When you do this you are wrapping yourself in liquid sunlight, chasing away the vaporous darkness and illuminating the corners of your soul with heavenly love. Choose sermons that exegete verse on the beauty of heaven, or the strength of Jesus’ love, or the promises of things to come.

I can heartily recommend John MacArthur for this purpose. Phil Johnson on the Psalms is a wonderfully encouraging resource. Or choose another expositor who preaches verse by verse the word only. We do not want to hear some silly personal story from the pulpit when we’re faced with depths of sadness and are crying out to God. We don’t need practical tips for living, or topical studies. We want THE WORD, for that is the only ticket us expatriates require when it’s necessary to go on temporary leave to heaven.

Another good resource is just listening to an audio book that speaks the word. I listen to RefNet and at times they read aloud huge segments of the Bible. The word fills me and its vapors stream from the radio to my ears to my mind and glide along my veins and fill my innermost parts. It is His word that encourages, uplifts, transforms. When you want to visit heaven on a missionary reprieve, listen to a narrator read His eternal word. It is a living and active word, thus you WILL be refreshed.

Listen to hymns. Let strong, doctrinal music flood your soul, cleaning out the leaves and twigs that have accumulated in the corners of our our soul. Let good music wash away the despair and cleanse our mind. What a balm to bask in pure words from heaven! Choose your music carefully, and make a playlist that encompasses encouraging lyrics which include verses as straight from the Bible as you can. Again it is communication with heaven that we are after in order to visit heaven, they have to be His words, not man’s. Here is a list of good, doctrinal hymns from Religious Affections Ministries. They are grouped by category.

EPrata photo

So pray, read the Bible, listen to the Word, and enjoy good, doctrinal music. We are aliens on this planet. Taking time each day to temporarily visit home will please the Father, who sent us abroad. It will liven our heart, to further Jesus’ kingdom. It will allow us to partake of the peace, that Jesus gave us.

Be encouraged, Brother, be heartened Sister, be strong Pastor…

The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe. (Proverbs 18:10)











Posted in bible, clarity, eschatology, last things, macarthur, mohler, perspicuity, prophecy

Why prophecy is important (The world is unraveling)

I love prophecy. To me, it is the clearest identifier of God as sovereign over the universe, the earth, humans, and time. He writes history in advance, because He is king of all, and what He says will come to pass.

I also love studying the bible. I believe it is the highest and best use of time, to get to know the attributes of the LORD, to seek His face through what He has told us. If you want ‘direct revelation’, the bible cannot be beat for informing us of our Lord and King, Jesus.

The bible is knowable and understandable to the Christian. We have the Holy Spirit in us to illuminate His word to us. (Ephesians 1:17-18). The Holy Spirit teaches us spiritual things. (1 Corinthians 2:10-13). Of course there are some things in the bible we cannot understand, such as the Trinity, One God in three Persons. We cannot understand the Spirit’s overcoming Mary and producing a child. We do not understand all the ways in which God thinks. However, for the most part, the doctrines upon which He has given to us, are understandable.

One such doctrine is the doctrine of eschatology. This is the doctrine of ‘last things’, or end times. Just because there are many people who won’t or can’t understand the various threads of prophecy does not mean there exists confusion about what He plans to do. The pre-tribulation rapture is one of these understandable doctrines, clearly outlined in the bible to those who care to learn. Some people say Revelation is difficult, I find it easy to understand. I do find Daniel difficult, but that does not stop me from studying it, nor from turning to other scripture to help me interpret Daniel’s book. It can be done, and it has been done. Oliver B. Greene’s commentary on Daniel is wonderful. John MacArthur’s book “Because the Time is Near” is a clear explanation of Revelation.

Even this is a doctrine! It is called the Perspicuity of Scripture. According to the Theopedia, the perspicuity of scripture means,

The doctrine of the clarity of Scripture (often called the “perspicuity of Scripture”) teaches that “the meanings of the text can be clear to the ordinary reader, that God uses the text of the Bible to communicate His person and will.”  

“The witness of the Church throughout the ages is that ordinary people, who approach it in faith and humility, will be able to understand what the Bible is getting at, even if they meet with particular points of difficulty here and there.”

Yet there are some people who refuse to believe the doctrines of last things, because so many other people are mixed up over them. ‘They can’t be understood, so why try?’ I was told by one man in church. “I’m a pan-tribber, it’ll all work out in the end,” he said.

Illustrator, Chris Koelle, The Book of Revelation

That is a highly offensive statement, and I said so to his face. It is a blight on Jesus, the Spirit, and God who inspired it, and all the Apostles who wrote the inspired word, and all the martyrs who protected it, to be so blatantly dismissive of 30% of God’s holy doctrines. Jesus did not reveal last things to John, nor the angel to Daniel, so God’s people could mock them.

Did you know that every NT book except Philemon mentions last things?

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, (2 Timothy 3:16)

So I was so pleased when John MacArthur was asked about eschatology in his latest Q & A session at Grace Community Church. In Q&A session #62 it was stated by the interviewer that they had received more than a dozen questions regarding eschatology.

First, MacArthur noted that a church without a solid understanding of eschatology has got a huge loose end. Here are MacArthur’s words on the importance of the church understanding and teaching last things:

a church without a solid biblical eschatology, meaning understanding of the end of history has got a huge loose end. It’s huge. I said something about that this morning when I was kind of wrapping up. I said, the Jews wanted to force all the prophesies regarding the Messiah into His first coming. We have Christians who want to take all the prophesies concerning Christ and push them back into His first coming. They’re called pretrerists, amillenialists. So they have this theology with this totally open end. It just has no closure. They don’t seem to care particularly. It’s almost like a badge of Reformed loyalty to be unsure about how everything ends.

I am running into this attitude more frequently, the badge of loyalty to uncertainty. “I’m super-spiritually humble because I refuse to state how things will end.” Or, “I’m super tolerant of all the different interpretations, because who am I to say dogmatically? It’s all just beyond little ole me.” Uncertainty is the new loyalty. But is that right? Is that honoring to Jesus? Here’s more from MacArthur.

I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t work well with me. First of all, I don’t think God gave a clear beginning and just kind of lost Himself at the end. I don’t think if Genesis 1 says that God created in six days and there’s no question about it, and He lays out exactly how He did it; and you get to the book of Revelation and you hear about periods of certain weeks and certain months and certain years and a thousand year millennium, and then an eternal state. I don’t think God lost His way at the end. I don’t think He was confused at the end. I think the end is as precise as the beginning. To be honest with you, I am far more concerned about the end than I am the beginning. The beginning is over. I’m glad it was what it was, and it explains why things are the way they are.

This is an important point. God did not state it clearly in the beginning and then back away from clarity for the end. He is just as clear in Revelation as He was in Genesis.

Source

As for the people who say, ‘There are so many interpretations, it’s just best to let go and let God. It’ll all work out in the end, anyhow,’ I say that’s just a bunch of lazy hooey. There are not many views of last things. There is only one view, God’s view, and He has shared it with us.

But I don’t think you can over estimate the value of a church with a clear ecclesiology and a clear eschatology. Clear understanding of the church, and a clear understanding of what the Bible says about how things are going to end. It does say something. It doesn’t say everything, and it doesn’t say whatever you want it to say. It doesn’t have ten views or five views or four views. There’s just one view.

MacArthur went on to describe a wonderful moment in Kazakhstan some years ago. Kazakhstan is east of Mongolia and north of Turkey. It is around the world. He was asked to teach 1600 men at a pastor’s conference. MacArthur taught 8 hours a day for 6 days a week. The men were hungry for the word, to be taught. They had been behind the Iron Curtain and now were released into more freedoms, including the freedom to practice religion, and to gather. They’d been denied a congregation, education, commentaries, access to internet or anything resembling study aids. They had each other, and the bible…and the Holy Spirit. So they wanted to know about all the doctrines, including eschatology.

MacArthur said,

I laid out; I went through the book of Revelation systematically and showed them the end. They said to me after that – I took a day to do that. The end of that day they said, “You believe what we believe.” I said, “I believe what you believe?” Same Bible. Guess what? It’s so clear that people with no training, no seminary, and no commentaries could understand what the book of Revelation said.

The reason I gave you the illustration about Kazakhstan is because that is as alien a place as you could ever be. Thirty-five hours to get there. You step off the plane. I’ve never been there. I don’t know what’s going on. I teach them a whole day on the end times, and they tell me that’s exactly what they believe. How did they come to that? They don’t have seminaries. They don’t have books. They don’t have anything. That’s what the Bible says. You have to go to school and listen to somebody who deceives you to undo that because that’s what’s there.

MacArthur has said before that any believer who landed on a desert island with nothing else except his bible can and would understand eschatology. The 1,600 Kazakhstan men were as close to desert island as you can get in this modern world, and eschatology was made understandable to them- because they studied it.

Source

As a note, what a glory it is that we believers have this unifying thread! What a moment of recognition between a Scottish-descended pastor from Sun Valley CA and Kazakhstani men isolated behind the iron curtain, to know each other as brothers! This unifying thread is the holy word, the Bible.

For men to say, ‘Ack, it’s all too much for me, it’ll all work out in the end, anyway,’ is a direct rejection of the wonder of being able to recognize and commune with brothers via a common and eternal understanding of God’s word, wherever you are on earth.

Rejecting eschatology is also a rejection of the work that the Spirit has done in men that He has raised up. Many resources are out there, as I mentioned, commentaries, sermons, books, timelines…it is all there for us.

To continue what MacArthur said about eschatology,

I think it matters how it all ends. I think God is glorified when we acknowledge Him as the Creator, the beginning; and I think He is glorified when we acknowledge Him as the consummator, the end. I think that’s a huge benefit for Christians looking at the world and wondering where is this going? Where is this going?

In talking to Al Mohler when I was back there a few weeks ago, he said he’s more eschatological than he’s ever been. He’s almost apocalyptic because he sees a world that just there is no way to reverse this. This thing is in a massive free fall, and there is no way to stop this. He’s pretty well-attuned to the way things are, and he says, “I’ve never felt so eschatological, so apocalyptic about the way the world is going.” Well, if you want to understand where the world is going, you can as a believer. That gives us such a powerful confidence that all that is coming is laid out for us on the pages of Scripture. I think that’s a treasure that a church can’t underestimate.

Do not reject the treasure of eschatology. It is just as much a treasure as the Psalms and the Gospels. Do not reject the work we are to do through eschatology. We have the answer to how it will all end. Lost people are confused and frightened about where this world is headed. We know it. Do not be afraid to study, and then to share.

What message does it send when a mature man of the faith in church makes a public statement dismissing eschatology? It tells the next generation that it is not worth studying, and bible illiteracy increases, just at the time when the next generation may be the very generation to see these things come to pass and could have been more fervent and diligent about sharing the truth with lost and confused people.

John MacArthur is a unique individual and is in a unique position. It was common in the old days for a pastor to stay for decades. Not so any more, where the average pastoral stay is 5 years or less. MacArthur has been at Grace Church for 46 years. He is 75 years old. He has seen history unfold, prophecy fulfilled and apostasy rise. He said,

I’m seeing this world unravel. There doesn’t seem to be any way back. I mean this is totally out of control. This is a free fall down a black hole. So, you can’t just say, “Well, eschatology doesn’t matter.” That is not helpful. People want answers. Where is this thing going? It’s not fair to God, it’s a dishonor to God to say, “Well, the Bible is not clear.” It is clear. It is absolutely clear.

Yes, it is sad and offensive that there are so many people who refuse to study last things. Those who dismiss the Spirit’s work in inspiring that portion of the bible are simply missing out on so much glory. It is also sad that so many brethren have unfortunately come to different understandings of what God clearly laid out. But does that mean we reject it all? Does that mean that is is useless for us individually to study it? No.

I just wish that the church was unified on what the Bible says. I don’t like it that there are Christians who don’t believe in Creation, but believe in some form of evolution. I think that dishonors God and confuses people. I don’t like it that there are Christians who don’t accept what the Bible says about the end either. But I think it’s wonderful that we do, and the answers are there.

God’s word has all the answers, including last things. Please do not be afraid to jump in and read, learn, pray, and receive illumination from the Spirit. Do not be afraid to seek credible, quality study aids. Always remember the perspicuity of scripture. The bible is clear.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Further Reading

Academic Paper – The Master’s Seminary: The Perspicuity of Scripture

Essay – Oliver B. Greene on the Pre-Tribulation rapture

Essay – Thirty-Six Pre-Trib Rapture texts

Sermon – Christmas Future: Last Things of Jesus Christ in Revelation

Sermon – The Clarity of Scripture, Part 1

Posted in depravity, encouragement, macarthur, mario batali, spurgeon

‘If we could just get rid of all the bad people, THEN the world would be a nice place’

I watch a Hulu original tv program called The High Road with Mario Batali. According to Wikipedia, Mario Francesco Batali is an American chef, writer, restaurateur and media personality. In addition to his classical culinary training, he is an expert on the history and culture of Italian cuisine, including regional and local variations.

Batali is a chef who put celebrity in the phrase celebrity chef.

In his ten-minute program on Hulu, Batali interviews other celebrities. Some of these famous personalities are from the realms of tv or movies, but some are celebrities in the spheres of finance or philanthropy or of course, cooking. He asks them questions as they go to famous New York City landmarks and iconic places, and the program is just a discussion type chat with the spectacular black and white backdrop of the most famous city in the world.

I watch it for the cinematography. It’s beautiful to look at. Also for the length- sometimes I’m too tired to commit to a long program or a movie.

Well, I’ve watched three or four of these Batali-celebrity chats now, and it’s interesting to see the world through an unsaved person’s eyes. It is almost unbearably sad, but it’s interesting to see and hear how they see the world’s problems and what would solve them.

For example, in one chat Mario asked journalist Frank Bruni “What is your dream for how the world might change in our lifetime?

Bruni answered,

“I would love to see a world in which there was no one craven, callous, or inhuman enough to torture another human being. I think if there were no torture happening, the world would be a better place in a whole lot of ripple ways- because that would mean we didn’t have the kind of horrible people that we do”.

In the tv world of highbrow question and answer sessions such as this, it’s supposed to be a profound statement. Unsaved people think they are good. They think that the bad people won’t go to heaven. They think if we can just get rid of the horrible people, then there would be no more wars, no more torture, no more evil. But who are the horrible people? As soon as we get rid of one, another pops up.

Christians know that “getting rid of the torturers” only leaves all the rest of us who are depraved, craven, horrible, and compared to God, just as bad as the torturers. And what about the murderers? And the rapists? And the child molesters? Let’s get rid of them, too. That leaves the adulterers, the homosexual, the fornicators. So they’re out. We still have to deal with the liars, the thieves, the cheats, the oppressors, the gossips, the brutal, the disobedient.

Does that leave anyone? No.

There is none righteous. No, not one. (Romans 3:10).

There is none good but the Father. (Mark 10:18).

They suppress that there has to be a God who is holy and has standards for entrance to His kingdom. (Romans 1:18).

In another segment with Julianna Margulies (of The Good Wife tv show), Batali asked

NYC is known for its busyness, rushing, New York minute aggressive attitudes, rudeness, and snobbiness. (PS think on this for a minute: why is kindness unexpected?)

Margulies answered,

I was here on 9/11. It was almost eerie how much kindness was going on there. People were actually opening doors, and getting up on the subway and giving you their seat, and it was a strange, eerie quietness. After a week of being mesmerized by people’s reactions, personally, I remember going into this deli. I was waiting on line to buy something and I heard this guy say “I SAID, f-*&%$-n pastrami!” And everyone applauded. We all were just like, Thank God we’re back to New York”.

Margulies laughing at the relief they felt
when the spell of kindness was broken

Yes, it must have truly been a relief that the cruel and oppressive regime of kindness was over. Do you want to know why the people in the deli applauded when kindness was no longer required of fellow man after the worst terror act on US soil in history? Because it is hard to be kind. It is not man’s natural state. It’s tiring for man to be friendly. It’s spooky to be in the side of the light.

For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. (John 3:20).

I was one of those unsaved people who thought I was good. I sometimes wondered why I’d be allowed to go to heaven, because deep down I knew I’d sinned. I didn’t call it sin, of course, but I knew I wasn’t perfect. If I followed the thought to its conclusion, and everyone on earth who wasn’t perfect was allowed into heaven, then what made heaven perfect? What made it nice to be there if everyone else was there too?

I pushed those troubling thoughts away (“suppressed the truth in unrighteousness”) and went on. I am everlastingly grateful that my Savior brought me to a right understanding of my sin, my depraved self, and His holiness. It is always a joy to ponder these two things. The more I know I’m a sinner, the more I appreciate His life on earth, His sacrifice, and His atonement.

“The mark of a mature life is not sinlessness, which is reserved for heaven, but a growing awareness of sinfulness.” John MacArthur

That growing awareness of my sin hurts. It is painful. It hurts just as badly to see people like the above mentioned celebrities try and grapple with the big questions, and come up so woefully short. Charles Spurgeon has this to say about the human condition:

We declare, upon Scriptural authority, that the human will is so desperately set on mischief, so depraved, and so inclined to everything that is evil, and so disinclined to everything that is good, that without the powerful. supernatural, irresistible influence of the Holy Spirit, no human will ever be constrained towards Christ.

If we were to follow Bruni’s method of getting rid of all the bad people, there would be only One left: Jesus. Yet, here He is! He is seeking and saving the lost! How marvelous to witness to His excellencies, His nature, His kindness, His perfect demeanor where not one blot mars His visage.  Be grateful today. Be grateful we see Him as He is, and that we see the world as it is- and in His time He will take us from it and bring us home.

————————-

Further reading:

An excellent and easy-to-understand essay from Answers in Genesis

Lessons from the Fall: Genesis 3

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

Spurgeon

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 AA, discernment, macarthur, spurgeon

Sayings and mottos that sound pious but aren’t. #1: "Let Go and Let God"

#2: “I don’t use commentaries”

#3 “I’m too humble to think that I could ever know what the Bible really means”

#4: Pray Big Because We Have a Big God

#5: He’s so heavenly minded he’s no earthly good.

Jesus took issue with the Pharisees and Scribes because they had become whitewashed tombs. (Matthew 23:27). This means that they were sick with sin on the inside and were only doing external things that hid their sin but did not address it. They were dead inside but performing rituals as if that would bring them alive. Their rituals had no meaning, and as Solomon would say, they were only striving after wind. (Ecclesiastes 1:14).

We do the same things today, but in slightly different ways. Just as the Pharisees were making long prayers as a show of piety for the sake of those who would hear them, (Matthew 6:5), people say things today that sound pious but aren’t. These sayings are just as dead as a whitewashed tomb, and are only striving after wind.

However, these sayings sound legitimate on their surface. 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 these sayings?

Some of these mottos 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 what will be a multi-part series, let’s look at the first one.

Source, labeled for reuse

#1. “Let go and let God.” In this pious-sounding saying, the person is trying to indicate that they submit to the sovereignty of God by letting everything go and allowing Him to roll circumstances over us as He will. However if we unpack that a bit we’ll see actually that ‘Let go and let God’ actually contradicts the bible. Here are two sources which speak to the subject, GotQuestions, and Ligonier Ministries.

GotQuestions: Are We Supposed to Let go and Let God?:
Let go and let God” is a phrase that cropped up some years ago and still enjoys some popularity today. Actually, the Bible never tells us to “let go and let God.” In fact, there are so many commandments about what we are to do that it completely contradicts the way most people interpret “let go and let God.” The popular idea of “letting go” is to adopt a sort of spiritual inertia wherein we do nothing, say nothing, feel nothing, and simply live allowing circumstances to roll over us however they may.

The Christian life, however, is a spiritual battle which the Bible exhorts us to prepare for and wage diligently. “Fight the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12); “Endure hardship…like a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:3); “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (Ephesians 6:11). Letting go in the sense of sitting back and watching events unfold however they may is not biblical.

Having said that, though, we have to understand that the things we are to do, we do by the power of God and not on our own steam. The truth is that working at “letting go” is just as much as an effort-filled work as anything else we try to do for God and not nearly as easy to do as some things.

So true! If it was that easy to ‘let go’ our sin, we would have done it! If it was that easy to ‘let go’ our worry, we’d be all set! If it was that simple as to let go our our will, we wouldn’t need God! “Letting go” is just as difficult as hanging on. Submit, yes. But even that is a daily struggle we’re told to perform as we pick up our cross (Matthew 16:24) and to pray daily for the will and help to submit. (Matthew 6:9-13).

Please go to the essay linked above to read the rest of the GotQuestions piece, which looks at the Christian life and see just exactly what we are to do.

Andrew Naselli at Ligonier Ministries explains, “Why “Let Go and Let God” Is a Bad Idea“. He says, in looking at the origin of this two-tiered theology from the 1875 Keswick theology movement, that letting go and letting God promotes in part,

–Perfectionism: It portrays a shallow and incomplete view of sin in the Christian life.
–Quietism: It tends to emphasize passivity, not activity.
–Pelagianism: It tends to portray the Christian’s free will as autonomously starting and stopping sanctification.
–Methodology: It tends to use superficial formulas for instantaneous sanctification.
–Impossibility: It tends to result in disillusionment and frustration for the “have-nots.”
–Spin: It tends to misinterpret personal experiences.

You can tell that Keswick theology has influenced people when you hear a Christian “testimony” like this: “I was saved when I was eight years old, and I surrendered to Christ when I was seventeen.”

By “saved,” they mean that Jesus became their Savior and that they became a Christian. By “surrendered,” they mean that they gave full control of their lives to Jesus as their Master, yielded to do whatever He wanted them to do, and “dedicated” themselves through surrender and faith. That two-tiered view of the Christian life is let-go-and-let-God theology.

I am aware that the motto ‘Let go and let God’ is a heavily used precept in Step 3 of the Alcoholics Anonymous recovery plan. AA has helped millions recover from their addiction to alcohol, and in this sense, AA is helpful. But don’t mistake AA’s Christianese for legitimate biblical principles. The language may sound pious but it collapses under scrutiny. Here is more information:

How does Alcoholics Anonymous compare with the Bible?

John MacArthur spoke to the ‘let go and let God’ phrase in his sermon on Ephesians 6, The Believer’s Armor.”

Do we just say, oh amen, and now I’m just going to surrender to that? I’m going to let go and let God, turn it all over to Jesus, do nothing? No, because you come to verse 5 immediately, and verse 5 says, “And beside this,” beside this, “you give all diligence,” get at it man, get with it, be diligent, be disciplined, “to add to your God given faith virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; And to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, patience; and to patience, godliness; And to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.”

In other words, you get on the job. And beloved it is not as simple as walking an aisle and making an act of surrender. That is part of it in your life, there must be a, a commitment to the Lordship of Christ, there must be an acknowledging of His power and resource in your life, but it doesn’t end there- it begins there. In Romans 6 there is a yielding of yourselves, yes, there is a yielding of yourselves in Romans 6. But there is also a mortifying or a killing of the deeds of the flesh, So it isn’t all as simple as that and that’s why we make no hesitation for proclaiming the truths of Ephesians 6.
 
The fact remains, let go and let God does not align well with biblical standards of behavior for a Christian.

As Jim Vander Spek asked, “The problem with making “Let God” the focus is that it pushes the burden back on Him. If things don’t work out, will you blame Him?

Source. Labeled for reuse

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Further Reading

What is wrong with the popular saying, “Let go and let God”?

Posted in bible, don green, lloyd-jones, macarthur, phil johnson, preachers, spurgeon, steven lawson, the word

Through the Years: Faithful men and praise to Jesus for raising them up

What is it? Answer at bottom

The above is the sermon list by year of sermons available in Dr. John MacArthur’s sermon archive.

On a recent blog essay, someone posted the following question to me:

Why do you worship MacArthur so much? You quote him on your blogs more than you do the Bible.-Jeff”

I answered this way:
“Great question! However I don’t worship Dr John MacArthur. I worship Jesus. You know that. I quote MacArthur a lot for several reasons:

–He is doctrinally correct on every issue I’ve heard him speak to. This means his interpretations are aligned with the bible. This is a precious rarity in these days,
–His entire body of work is online, and easily obtainable. Therefore he is easy to quote,
–He has addressed all of the relevant cultural issues, and these also are online and available, and once again therefore easily quotable.

I also often quote GotQuestions, for the same reasons, and Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry. I’d quote Phil Johnson just as often as I do MacArthur but his sermons are not transcribed as MacArthur’s are. And as a side note, he said a couple of years ago that the same lady has been his transcriber for over 40 years. What a blessing to the faith these people are! We all benefit.

I have quoted in the past Jonathan Edwards, but his language is further away from ours, being almost 300 years old. Same with Charles Spurgeon and Matthew Henry. But I still quote them on occasion as well.

If you came across a doctrinally correct, easily obtainable body of work freely given to the body of Christ from a persevering man of faith, why would you NOT want to use it as much as possible? That is what it is there for.”

My response got me thinking about how grateful I am for the good men and pastors God has raised up. I was thunderstruck by Jonathan Edwards’ sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God“. I have an excerpt of it which I carry constantly in my bible. I occasionally re-read it in its entirety to myself aloud so I can remember and value the feeling of gratitude I have that Jesus saved me from His wrath. The sermon is almost 300 years old, but God carefully preserved it for us so that we can be edified these many generations later.

I was deeply moved by Charles’ Spurgeon’s sermon on God’s Providence. His proposal that the cherubs of the wheels within wheels could be part of the machinery of God’s providence as it works out in our lives was completely amazing to me. I often re-read that sermon to gain further insights that the Spirit will have me learn.

But it was with the advent of technology that we are blessed with being able to hear these preachers as they preach. Many of the later Martyn Lloyd-Jones’s sermons were taped and put onto more current media. John MacArthur’s first sermon at Grace Community Church in 1969 was cassette-taped and transcribed and so have all the rest ever since.

These men are good expositors. The Lord raised them up for the benefit of the church and the edification of souls. When Charles Spurgeon was actively preaching, his sermons were re-printed in the newspaper. He was endlessly quoted. His magazine Sword and Trowel enjoyed a high circulation. Thousands came to hear him in the Tabernacle and the tens of thousands read his sermons each week.

When Spurgeon died, in January 1892, London south of the Thames went into mourning. Sixty thousand people came to pay homage during the three days his body lay in state at the Metropolitan Tabernacle. A funeral parade two miles long followed his hearse from the Tabernacle to the cemetery at Upper Norwood. One hundred thousand people stood along the way, flags flew at half-mast, shops and pubs were closed. It was a remarkable demonstration of affection and respect, even in an era when people were scrupulous in observing the rituals that accompanied death.” (source)

Yet would anyone in those more Godly times peevishly complain that a person was sourcing Spurgeon’s material too much? Worshiping him? I doubt it. “Stop reading his sermon every Monday! You do that too much!” It’s laughable.

I respect the men who came before us and the men whom God raises up today. Their commentaries, books, and sermons are for the benefit of the church members and ultimately are to glorify Him. It’s been true ever since this verse was spoken,

I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who shall do according to what is in my heart and in my mind. And I will build him a sure house, and he shall go in and out before my anointed forever.” (1 Samuel 2:35)

God did that and continues to do that until He raised up Jesus, the final High Priest and the Priest forever, bless His holy name. After the cross, back here on earth, God still raises up men to teach and preach to us, because God’s word goes out forever and will never pass away (Matthew 24:25).
Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” (2 Timothy 4:2)

The apostasy is growing at an exponential rate. My job as an encourager and a discerner is to point people to credible men whose teaching is solid. We are long past the tipping point where most preaching is solid. Nowadays, most preaching is NOT solid. We have gone from being a ‘God-fearing’ nation, to a God-mocking nation.

Therefore when as Bereans you compare to the bible the links I offer you, I believe in every case you will find it matches. Therefore I am unashamed to continue to quote Dr MacArthur, and I refuse to be browbeaten into seeking other men for people to read who may not be as solid simply to cater to whims and wishes of those who are peeved for some reason.

Now, if someone wants a wider array of Godly preachers to select from, I can accommodate. I listed below my favorites, men to whom I give my respect as elders of the faith and to whom I daily and weekly listen or read. They are all expositors.

What is expositional preaching?
Expositional preaching at its simplest is preaching that is focused on explaining the meaning of Scripture in its historical and grammatical context. Expositional preaching involves explaining what the Bible says to a contemporary audience that is likely unfamiliar with the cultural and historical settings that the passage was written in. The word exposition simply means to “a setting forth or explanation.” So expositional preaching is the explanation of Scripture that is based upon diligent study and careful exegesis of a passage. It is the primary call of the pastor or preacher as we see in 2 Timothy 4:2: “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.”

These first three men have been or are in service to God in a mighty, MIGHTY way, and what a ministry! I praise and thank Jesus for raising them up!

John F. MacArthur, 3,000+ sermons. He has been preaching at Grace Community Church for 45 years. (b. 1939- ). Bio. Sermon archive. I especially enjoyed his preaching series from Genesis

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, (1834-1892). 3,561 sermons. AKA The Prince of Preachers, preached at New Park Street and then Metropolitan Tabernacle for 37 years. (Bio). Sermons. My current favorite is the sermon on God’s Providence.

Lloyd-Jones

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, (1899 – 1 March 1981). 1591 sermons available. He preached for 41 years at Westminster Chapel in London. (Bio). Sermon archive here. My current favorite are the Great Biblical Doctrines, especially, The Fall.

Also:

I also enjoy Dr Steven Lawson. I just listened to a wonderful sermon of his from Philippians, about daily Christian living. Sermon archive here. (Bio).

Phil Johnson is a personal favorite of mine. I’d quote him as often as I do MacArthur but his sermons haven’t been transcribed until lately. Pastor Johnson preaches at the GraceLife Pulpit of John MacArthur’s church. I enjoy the sermons from Dr. MacArthur, but I personally identify with Johnson. My current favorite sermon of his recently has been What Creation Reveals. (Bio and other Bio)

Don Green

Finally, though certainly not least, is Pastor Don Green. He preaches at Truth Community Fellowship. (Bio). My current favorite sermon of his is called “What is Sin?

I hope these links and the thousands upon thousands of wonderfully exposited sermons available to you will edify you in a great way. May the spotless name of Jesus be glorified through their ministry and by us as we receive His word into our hearts and minds from these men.