Posted in big god, discernment, osteen, pray big, prayer

Sayings and mottos that sound pious but aren’t. #4: "Pray big because we have a big God"

Otto Greiner, Praying Hands, circa 1900. CC

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 sayings are right, and what sayings are almost right (AKA ‘wrong’)? Let’s look at 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

Does praying big mean as Cassandra Martin says on her blog,

We tend to pray small prayers, shy prayers, safe prayers. God wants us to pray big prayers, risky prayers, prayers that stretch our faith, expand our vision, and place us firmly in His hands. He wants us to take His word seriously and “with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16) Praying Big begins with remembering that we serve a very BIG God. He is bigger than our fears, our struggles, our falls, our joys, our plans, and our expectations. Praying Big encourages us to invest ourselves in prayer in a big way. Faith-full people are always big pray-ers. When we pour ourselves into prayer, God pours Himself into us. Praying Big invites us to see our lives, our challenges, our opportunities, and our world through heaven’s eyes. Prayer changes our vision, our responses, and our attitudes because in prayer God changes us.

Gee. That sounds good. Or does it mean as Anna Diehl said on her blog, The Pursuit of God,

Here’s a popular little jingle in Christendom: “Pray BIG, because we have a BIG God.” But what does this mean exactly? If we need a car, does God want us to pray for a brand new SUV instead of some small beat up clunker? If we need a new place to live, does He want us dreaming of mansions instead of just hoping for a room somewhere? If finances are tight, are we supposed to name and claim millions instead of just what we need? Is God offended by our lack of faith when we don’t dream big and pray expectantly? Well, it depends.
God wants us to be bold in our prayers, but only when our priorities are aligned with His.
~Anna Diehl

Think about the kinds of things you’ve asked God for recently. What were your prayer requests over the last year? Lump them all together into your mind and then divide them into two categories: things that have to do with your earthly comfort, and things that have to do with your spiritual growth. Which category do you pray about more often?

Gee. That sounds good too.

Or does it mean as so many ‘name it claim it’ casually teach, like Joel Osteen, that we need to be more ambitious in what we’re asking God for and more confident in what we’re looking for in our lives and to do this we need to pray ‘God-sized prayers’?

No. That definitely sounds bad.

This confusion is why we need to examine what we say and be mindful of our cliches.

The root verse for this ubiquitous phrase we’ve come to hear so frequently is usually supported by an interpretation of Hebrews 4:16,

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Gill’s Exposition explains the boldness and confidence indicated in the Hebrews verse:

…a drawing nigh to God in that ordinance with spiritual sacrifices to offer unto him: and this may be done “boldly”; or “with freedom of speech”; speaking out plainly all that is in the heart, using an holy courage and intrepidity of mind, free from servile fear, and a bashful spirit; all which requires an heart sprinkled from an evil conscience, faith, in the person, blood, and righteousness of Christ, a view of God, as a God of peace, grace, and mercy, and a holy confidence of being heard by him; and such a spirit and behaviour at the throne of grace are very consistent with reverence of the divine Majesty,

The Wailing Wall, Jerusalem,
by Gustav Bauernfeind (1848-1904). CC

Let’s contrast confidence to approach the throne after the cross as opposed to the Temple days before the cross. In the days before the veil was torn it meant that you had to go through an incredibly time-consuming and intricate set of rituals to enter the holy of holies where the presence of God was. The High Priest must atone for his sins in order to be considered pure enough even to enter. If you made a misstep, you would be struck dead.

Think of Uzzah, who put his hand on the Ark of the Covenant, and was stuck dead instantly, because his hand is sin while the dirt of the ground is just dirt, not sin.

The Holy of Holies was separated from the rest of the tabernacle/temple by the veil, a huge, heavy drape made of fine linen and blue, purple and scarlet yarn and embroidered with gold cherubim. God said that He would appear in the Holy of Holies (Leviticus 16:2); hence, the need for the veil. There exists a barrier between man and God. The holiness of God could not be accessed by anyone but the high priest, and then only once a year. God’s “eyes are too pure to look on evil” (Habakkuk 1:13), and He can tolerate no sin. The veil and the elaborate rituals undertaken by the priest were a reminder that man could not carelessly or irreverently enter God’s awesome presence. Before the high priest entered the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement, he had to wash himself, put on special clothing, bring burning incense to let the smoke cover his eyes from a direct view of God, and bring sacrificial blood with him to make atonement for sins (Exodus 28; Hebrews 9:7) Read more:

In those days, coming boldly before the throne with confidence was not possible. However, once the veil was torn, signifying that THE atonement had been completed, we can all approach now. We don’t have to wait for a certain day, we don’t need a representative to go for us, we can all approach and He is listening. We know He is listening because He is our intercessor. (Romans 8:34)

So understanding the reason for our confidence (or boldness as some versions say) it brings the focus back on Jesus. Now to look at the size of prayers we’re told to make.

We have somehow equated boldness in behavior to largeness of prayer. We’ve swapped confidence in approach for magnitude in request. If there are “big” prayers by definition they are saying that there are “small” prayers too, and worse, assigning a size to prayers tacitly insinuates that the small prayers are no good.

Philippians 4:6 teaches, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

Thanksgiving Prayer, 1942.Photo by Marjory Collins.
Farm Security Administration (Library of Congress)

It doesn’t say “by prayer let your BIG requests known to God” but instead it says do not be anxious about anything and make requests [of any size] known to God.

My God is big enough to care about everything, not just the big things. Are we to dispense with “small” prayers because He could get busy and overwhelmed? What a ghastly thought! He is perfect in patience. Because we don’t want to take up His time? Time in heaven does not exist, and He is the author of time on earth!

In the link above, Joel Osteen explains to the Wall Street journal reporter about big prayers. He says that “we get into a rut” with our prayers. Wrinkling his nose and speaking dismissively, Osteen said that ‘sure, we pray for our food, and our children, but we think hey, God’s got bigger things to deal with than my goals and my dreams…’ and so we don’t pray big prayers.” In Osteen’s latest book Break Out, he explains why we should pray big–this is from the book blurb

We were not created to just get by with average, unrewarding or unfulfilling lives. God created us to leave our marks on our generations. Every person has seeds of greatness planted within by the Creator. When life weighs upon us, pushing us down, limiting our thinking, labeling us in negative ways, we have what it takes to overcome and rise above into the fullness of our destinies

One of the five strategies for living a more rewarding life and leaving our mark according to Osteen is to “pray bold prayers”. The opposite to that of course, implicitly stated, is that praying ‘small’ prayers will result in a less fulfilling and rewarding life.

Yet to have a life fulfilled with all my personal dreams coming true is not the reason we pray. We pray because it is commanded (Luke 18:1). We pray to glorify God (John 14:13). We pray in a spirit of humility and unselfishness, pleading with Jesus to advance His cause and Glorify Himself. We pray to bear each other’s burdens and to be in His will and for reasons large and small we make petitions to demonstrate our acknowledgement of our dependence on Him. Jesus should be the orientation of the prayer and His will ultimately should be the goal.

So, praying for our food a small prayer? The Lord told us to pray in this way. In Matthew 6:11 He said to pray for our daily bread. Acts 2:42 says that they were continually praying, meeting, and breaking bread together as acts of worship. Showbread (AKA Bread of Presence) was a holy item in the temple, and the manna was in the ark. Food’s important.

Praying for our children? Is this a small prayer? Children are a heritage from the Lord, according to Psalm 127:3. Should David not have prayed for his sick son? (2 Samuel 12:16). Should Hannah not have prayed to be given a son? (1 Samuel 1:13). Should Job have not continually interceded for his children? (Job 1:1-5). Yet Job was called blameless and upright.

As far as the so-called “rut” goes…what about the persistent widow? She was lauded for persisting in her plea for justice. What about the admonition to always pray, and to pray ceaselessly? (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

Ephesians 6:18 says “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests” ‘All kinds”, the verse doesn’t say not to bother God with small petitions. It also does not say that the bigger you pray the bigger your faith is.

As we saw at the beginning of this essay from the three ways the phrase is used (Cassandra Martin, Anna Diehl, Joel Osteen) the ‘pray big because God is big’ mantra can mean different things by different people. The point of this exercise in examining these cliches and phrases is to be mindful of what we say, and to know what it is we’re saying so we can defend or explain it. (Jude 1:3, 1 Peter 3:15). Is what we’re saying God-honoring? Is it biblical?

Overall, though the cliche can be explained as a good thing, I try not to say this phrase at all because of the confusion it causes. Most often, people take it simply to mean that the bigger the prayer, the bigger our faith in God is. I pray for Him to heal my eczema. Do I lack the same quantity of faith as a barren woman praying for a child? And what about the biggest prayer of all, the most incredible act of the universe, prayer for salvation for someone? I think it’s dangerous to start sizing up prayers., it’s especially foolish to base a size of a prayer on the size of our God, because we can’t know how big He really is. And with all His size, He is a God of mercy, and His eyes roam over the earth, and sees when a sparrow falls. He knows the number of hairs on our head. Those are small things.

Just meditating on the fact that we can pray to an interceding Jesus is an amazing thing to ponder and be grateful for. God isn’t impressed by the size of our prayers,  Just as Jesus wasn’t impressed by the length of the prayers of the Pharisee but by the condition of our hearts. With that in mind I encourage you to read Anna Diehl’s piece above and see the example prayers. They give one pause for thought.


Further Reading

What are different kinds of prayer?

What are most common things people say are in the bible that aren’t in the bible?

Posted in encouragement, harris, maslow, osteen, self-esteem

Self-esteem versus dust

I grew up in the 1970s and I was teaching first grade in the 1980s when the “self-esteem” movement hit education. Suddenly there were no winners or losers, no achievers or laggards. There were only winners, and everyone was supposed to be rewarded for ‘trying.’

Well, even Psychology Today now says in their 2011 article, The Gift of Failure, “The self-esteem movement has done an entire generation a deep disservice.

If I may be allowed a moment of snark…well, duh.

The article recounts the movement’s beginnings.

It started with the best intentions. In 1969, Nathaniel Brandon wrote a paper entitled “The Psychology of Self-Esteem” that suggested that “feelings of self-esteem were the key to success in life”. Hearing this, many people started to find ways to confer confidence upon our children. This resulted in competitions where everyone gets a trophy and no one actually wins. “New games” attempted to engage children without any winners or losers. The parents who embraced these efforts did so out of love and with the most noble of intentions. The only problem is that these efforts simply do not work. Self-esteem is not something conferred, it is earned through taking risks and developing skills

An attitude of ‘we’re all winners’ was directed toward children and played out on the soccer field, Cub Scouts, and elementary schools. It was not constrained to just children, though, as it was perpetuated in adults by the publishing of and subsequent runaway success of the 1970s’ most popularly selling book, “I’m OK, You’re OK” By Dr. Thomas Harris, MD.

It was the era of self-help and the above paragraph sums up nicely the feeling of the times. Harris’s work extended Abraham Maslow’s, a psychologist in the 1950s who published a seminal book outlining the human’s hierarchy of needs. Maslow created a pyramid in which a hierarchy of needs was proposed. In Maslow’s schema, once man meets his own needs, he can reach his full potential. You hear this a lot in today’s self-esteem preachers: ‘full potential’.

That feeling of everyone being OK, needing a self-esteem boost continued into the 90s and into 2000s when Joel Osteen, king of the Self-Esteem booster sermon, began preaching.

It seems Osteen’s aim is to let everyone know they’re OK. More than OK, a masterpiece!

“See Yourself as a Masterpiece”…” all those thoughts of insecurity, inferiority and low self-esteem won’t have a chance!

Now self-esteem had finally come to Christianity. We know that depraved man in the secular world has always sought ways to feel better, via mind-altering drugs, to pop psychology. There is no way to feel better apart from God. However for the Christian it’s a different story. This feeling of needing to have an ego boost is a new aspect of false doctrine. Paul wrote the first chapters of Romans expounding on how depraved and lost we are. In other words, we’re NOT OK.

Before we know Jesus, we are depraved, sinful, and unable to do anything worth anything that pleases God.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

After we are in Christ, we don’t need self-esteem because we are co-heirs with Christ in heaven. On earth, we must strive to be humble, forgiving, live a quiet life, and serve others. All our esteem is Christ’s, not ours, and it is He who helps us live as Christians.

However it was very important for the secular world to cling to the self-esteem movement and there is a reason why this also very negatively impacts Christianity: As Abraham Maslow observes,

any doctrine of the innate depravity of man or any maligning of his animal nature very easily leads to some extra-human interpretation of goodness, saintliness, virtue, self-sacrifice, altruism, etc. If they can’t be explained from within human nature—and explained they must be—then they must be explained from outside of human nature. The worse man is, the poorer a thing he is conceived to be, the more necessary becomes a god.

So you see, if there is no innate goodness in man, any goodness that exists, and man intuitively knows there is (Ecclesiastes 3:11), then that goodness must come from deity. If man is not good, then the good must be God. Therefore, psychology says in its everlasting denial of God, man is good, therefore we don’t need God. ‘I’m OK, You’re OK’ really means we’re all OK without God. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. Colossians 2:8

It’s no wonder that men like Maslow and Harris knocked themselves out with trying to construct philosophies that deny man’s innate depravity. It’s why even preachers who call themselves Christians today like Osteen or Joyce Meyer etc cling to the self-esteem, full potential, we’re all really OK mantra.

Seeing that the post-WWII world became more First World and wealth was abounding, especially in America, and people were reaching the top of Maslow’s pyramid and self-actualizing, evil still existed. People were not OK. Later in life, Maslow was concerned with questions such as, “Why don’t more people self-actualize if their basic needs are met? How can we humanistically understand the problem of evil?” He also wondered why evil existed in the majority of the people. Toward the end of his life, Maslow decided to study evil, so as ‘to understand it’.

What got me started thinking about self-esteem is a verse that happened to pierce me deeply.

For there was not left to Jehoahaz an army of more than fifty horsemen and ten chariots and ten

thousand footmen, for the king of Syria had destroyed them and made them like the dust at threshing.” (2 Kings 13:7)

Do you know how small of a mote threshing dust is? Small. The LORD God had allowed the King of Syria to make His people into dust.

And not just the Israelites, but all people are in fact from dust and will return to dust.

All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return.” (Ecclesiastes 3:20)

Isaiah 40:15 says
Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as the dust on the scales; behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust.”

DUST. Remember our former position and remember that even in Christ, He will grind the nations down like dust eventually. He is God. We are not, no matter how much self-esteem we try to load into our mind.

Our self esteem must always be tempered by the awareness of our own sinfulness, goes this good advice from a study of self-esteem from Romans 12:3 by Rev. Bruce Goettsche.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. (Romans 12:3)

And if you start thinking more highly of yourself than you ought, remember the dust.

Further Reading

How should a Christian view self-esteem?

The Humility of Love (vs the self-esteem cult)

Posted in beth moore, discernment, false teachers, james murphy, jentezen franklin, Joyce Meyer, osteen

It is important to be discerning!

By Elizabeth Prata

A warning from my heart. One thing that strikes me is how few (seemingly) Christians really know how late the hour is. I’m still struck by Pastor James Murphy’s sermon, the raw and pointed one he delivered last Sunday in Johnson City NY. He said that the time has come to stop fooling around. Knowing the Word of God through diligent study and practice of discernment is too important. And he said, shame on them if they didn’t think it was important. It is.

And if we know the word of God we know how late the hour is. Paul said that we are children of the Light and will not be surprised as we see the Day approaching. (1 Thess 5:4.) The writer of Hebrews said that we should not stop assembling together, we should do it all the more as we see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:25). Not as we believe the day is approaching. Not as we pray that the day might be approaching. As we SEE the day approaching.

Knowing the lateness of the hour ties in with this verse: “For where your treasure is, there your heart shall be also.” (Matthew 6:21). Is our treasure Jesus? Or is it this world? At this late hour are we part of a Laodicean church? Jesus had charges against that church-

‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.” (Rev 3:15-18).

The Worship of Mammon, E. DeMorgan, 1909

Are we buying gold from Mammon? So that we may be comfortable and rich and have need of nothing? And so not have need of Jesus? Are we walking in self-confidence (Beth Moore), satisfied with our best life now (Joel Osteen), doing lukewarm works with Jesus as a footnote (Rick Warren), manipulating God so he will be forced to release the blessing (Joyce Meyer), begging for ‘seed money’ (Jentezen Franklin) and throwing people who “hinder” us off the bus where the bodies are piling up? (Mark Driscoll)?

Or are we the church at Philadelphia, where Jesus said we “have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.” ?

That is the main problem with the global church body today, but especially UK, Canada, Australia and US. We deny Jesus. Oh, sure, a name of Jesus is preached from pulpits, if they even dare to call it a pulpit, some just call it a podium, but it is from a different Gospel and it refers to a different Jesus. THE Jesus of the Bible is denied again and again.

Over 120 years ago Charles Haddon Spurgeon predicted, “A time will come when instead of shepherds feeding the sheep, the church will have clowns entertaining the goats.” Oh, how right he was.

Our generation is “Sacrificing biblical truth for the cause of ecumenical unity and promotion of carnal methodology in churches are the norm of our age” wrote Chris Lawson in his April newsletter, “Clowning around in the pulpit.” He wrote, “Instead of playing fast and loose with God’s church, Christian leaders ought to be discussing Bible prophecy in light of global events and teaching biblical discernment in light of the end-times apostasy.”

Oh how right he is. Are pastors, teachers, and leaders teaching biblical discernment? A few. Praise them, and thank you Lord for raising up the pastors and teachers who are. But they are increasingly few…Grant Jeffrey is home with the Lord now, as is David Wilkerson, Adrian Rogers, and others. I see few discerning elders on the near horizon to take their place. And increasingly, the ones who are still teaching and preaching biblical discernment are not listened to. I wonder what the fallout has been for Pastor James Murphy up in Johnson City.

Thus, today, instead of the norm in our Bible-believing churches being the Prince of Preachers warning 120 years ago about the coming clown parade,

Believers are warned again and again throughout the Old Testament and the New about the dangers of idols, false teaching and false prophets. Are we, in the twenty-first century so smart that we can afford to ignore these? No. Are we who are the generation living in the latter days so advanced that we can ignore the warnings of end of times apostasy? No.

So what are we to do? John MacArthur preached on the verses from  Thessalonians 5:21-22, in a series titled “A Call for Discernment.” In part 1 he said, “We cannot for a moment believe that every one who claims to be in Christ and to speak on behalf of Christ is speaking the truth.” But yet so many people do. In 1 Thess 5:16 “starting with verse 16, Paul has been listing the basics of Christian living…rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus, do not quench the Spirit, do not despise Scripture or the revelation of God. And now he comes to this one, examine everything.”

Just because a person says they come in the name of Christ, they may not. Just because they are popular or long-lasting, doesn’t mean they get a pass on whether they should be examined. The Bereans were called noble for examining the scriptures to see if they lined up with what Paul said. And Paul loved it.

Here are some discernment resources:

MacArthur Sermons-
A Call For Discernment Part 1
A Call for Discernment Part 2
A Call for Discernment Part 3

The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment by Tim Challies
A Call for Discernment, Jay Adams

Discernment is a Commandment
Discernment in the Church
Discernment and the Watchman

The best Resource of all is the Holy Spirit! And the Bible itself.

Brethren, the hour is late. The watchword of the day is not our pits or self or confidence or release or seed or seeker. Repentance is the watchword, because after that, comes wrath.

Posted in god's favor, grace, jentezen, osteen, spurgeon

What is all this "favor of God" talk really about?

Do we really have as much favor from God as some preachers say we do? What is all this “favor” anyway?

Interview with Joel Osteen:
Q. You talk about God’s favor a lot. What is God’s favor?

A. “There are so many people who don’t expect anything good in life. They don’t expect to get breaks, they don’t expect to get promoted, they don’t expect anything positive. So I just try to get people to say, I believe if we expect God’s favor, if we declare it, if we thank him when we do see good things happening, then we’re going to see more of that.” ~Joel Osteen

No it’s not. Favor of God is His grace upon us, unmerited. “Grace is free sovereign favor to the ill-deserving.” -Benjamin B. Warfield

It all depends on what one means by “good things.” I certainly don’t expect good things in life from God on the basis of my sparkling personality or because of the supposed favor I did Him by becoming a believer. Not this life…compared to the next. And yet, I DO expect good things. The Holy Spirit has already deposited Himself in me as a guarantee of my inheritance. That’s a good thing! Then He dispensed spiritual gifts as He willed. That’s a good thing! He has been growing me in sanctification in ever more Christ-likeness. That’s a good thing!

Mr Osteen makes the implication, both overtly and covertly, that your Christianity isn’t doing you any good unless you are receiving earthly, material things, and getting “breaks”.

In this painful but uplifting story out of Egypt, we learn the hopes and fears of the Christians there in the face of increasing violence and hatred toward them. “The service ends with the Lord’s Prayer and instructions for members to exit through the church’s back entrance–tear gas is in the air in front. A short time later, a wailing ambulance arrives, delivering six young men. One clutches his wrist; another reveals a back peppered with birdshot. Another will probably lose his eye. The following night, the violence touches the church family. A KDEC teenager is shot near Tahrir. News spreads that someone kidnapped the daughter of a church member. Another member is found dead, murdered on his way home from the airport.”

Where are their breaks??  Yet they already know they have their “good things.” And they act accordingly. The article continues: “We [converts] could be the first people to be killed,” said the activist, who asked for anonymity. “We are the rust in Islam that is corroding the walls. We are the threat.” But rather than seeking the first opportunity to leave Egypt, he and others like him choose to stay and exert influence behind the scenes. “Doctors stay in medicine; politicians stay in politics; advocates stay in advocacy,” he said. “The salt put in warehouses will just go stale. The salt needs to be in the food.”

It all depends on what a person expects is a “good thing.” The Egyptian Christians are hoping that if it is appointed for them to die, that they die for His name being uplifted and that hope enter the hearts of the killers. In Mr Osteen’s theology, Christians should hope to get a good parking space at the mall. Is the ‘good thing’ Christ oriented, or me-oriented? The way ‘favor’ is being used by the prosperity Gospelites are that the things we receive are an identifying confirmation that we who possess many earthly riches have more favor with God than the next person, who doesn’t possess as many.

For Mr Jentezen, his definition is: “Favor means God has called u to the front of the line! It’s your turn. Your [sic] next!” ~ Jentezen Franklin- Twitter

Favor means that I cut ahead of other, sanctified, holy saints to the front of the line? Why would I want to do that? And what line? There’s a line? What happens when I get there? Anyway, didn’t God say, “So the last will be first, and the first last” ? (Matthew 20:16a). Maybe the head of the line is not good, ha ha. Also, doesn’t He love us equally, without favor? As He said to the man in the parable who complained of the ones coming into the vineyard at the last hour, who received the same pay, “I wish to give to this last man the same as to you.”

Sort of along the same lines at the man in the parable complaining he’d worked all day and the last guy got the same pay, is this question asked and answered at Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry:

“Why does God hear and answer prayers for some and not others even though they live for Him?” At the end of the good essay (I recommend reading it at their site)

“What is the point of doing good then, if not to gain God’s favor? There is every reason in the world to do good! We do get God’s favor, not because He owes it to us, but because when we do good, we are operating according to God’s design for us, and we benefit from this in more lasting ways. We actually get more of God Himself when we follow Him. He is the source of all good.”

Therefore, why do I need ‘breaks,’ when I already possess the universe’s greatest break of all? Why isn’t that good enough for the positive confession, name it claim it, blab it and grab it people?

An acrostic!

The grace of God IS the favor (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). “That is to say those of us who know God through faith in Jesus Christ are the recipients of the out-pouring of God’s continual blessing and favor.” MacArthur

But what of passages like this in the bible, you say:

“And the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favor with the LORD and with men.” (1 Samuel 2:26). Barnes notes explains, “The child Samuel advanced and grew and was good (or acceptable), both with the Lord, and also with men.” The word ‘favor’ translated means ‘good, acceptable’. Not that you receive extra special things according to your works.

What of Naphtali’s favor? “Naphtali is abounding with the favor of the LORD and is full of his blessing; he will inherit southward to the lake.” (Deuteronomy 33:23).
Though it is a different Hebrew word than used in the Samuel verse it means the same thing, “acceptable to the Lord, pleasing, good.”

What about Mary? Wasn’t she ‘highly favored’? “And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. (Luke 1:26-28). J. Vernon McGee wrote, “There is a tendency among Protestants to play down the role of Mary, but this tells us that she was highly favored. In the same breath, however, let me say that she was blessed among women, not above women. She is not lifted above women; she lifted up womanhood.”

“One thing is clear: while Americans universally want God’s favor, as a whole, they do not want God.” (source, John MacArthur above)

What are really asking when we say we “want God’s favor”? Is it that we crave His blessings upon us spiritually, as we continually repent of our sins and seek His face, walking in His statutes? No. It is favor upon us personally, as Osteen said, to get breaks, a good parking space at the mall, and a promotion. These kinds of favors are man-sized favors, temporal and earthly, desired by people who live in the flesh. (Mt 6:19)

We should desire the God-sized favor, which means grace on earth and, stored up in heaven. (Mt. 6:20). “Do not exhaust your strength and spend your days in providing for the life here, but let your chief anxiety be to be prepared for eternity…To regulate the heart, it is therefore important that the treasure, or object of attachment, should be right.” (Barnes Notes). [Illustration, “On hoarding treasures.” Artist unknown. 1593.]

“Freedom, as expressed in Galatians, refers to freedom from the frustrating struggle to keep the law to gain God’s favor. It is the freedom of knowing you are accepted by God because of what Christ has done. Such freedom is a tremendous kind of freedom, but it is more than just a deliverance from the oppression of legalism; it is also a positive endowment. When a Christian lives in the flesh, he forfeits the blessing he would receive if he were living in the Spirit. A Christian can live in the flesh, hoping to earn God’s favor, but that only cuts him off from the flow of daily blessing.” (source)

Maybe the positive confession, favor-seeking pastors and teachers should just read Colossians!

“Positionally, you cannot increase or decrease in the favor of God. As a genuine Christian, nothing you do, or  fail to do, can change to the slightest degree your perfect standing before God–for “in Him you have been made complete” (Colossians 2:10). (source)

Posted in heresy, osteen

Stop coddling heresy

I am heartbroken every day at the increasing encroachment of apostasy in Christians. I saw on Erin Benzinger’s blog Do Not Be Surprised, this clip from WretchedTV called “Stop Coddling Heresy“. It is about 4 minutes, and features Pastor Steve Lawson preaching about John Knox’s stand for the Gospel to Mary Queen of Scots. He explains that it is the standing on the Word that pierces the heart, not accommodating culture, building bridges, or diluting the message. It is understanding of our wretched state of total depravity that allows us to see the grace of God and our need for Jesus.

Knox stood up to the Queen, and remember this one was called Bloody Mary because her usual response to people challenging her was to chop off their head. Lawson explains the power of the Gospel and how it pierces sinning hearts, and how desperately we need the truth proclaimed from the pulpit. Mary’s response to Knox was a knee-swooning, heart wrenching praise to the Lord. This climactic moment in Lawson’s clip where Mary capitulates is then juxtaposed with some words from Joel Osteen. I won’t transcribe the piece because the power is in hearing. Faith comes by hearing doesn’t it? (Romans 10:17). I urge you to take a moment to listen, it isonly and when it gets to 4 minutes. Osteen, the juxtaposition of the two men, Knox and Osteen, one right after another, is devastating. Please, please, listen to “Stop Coddling Heresy.”

I was at a place the other day where I saw an Osteen book on the table with a bookmark in it. And next to it a little ways away was another Osteen book, this one also with a bookmark in it. Osteen presents a different Gospel. He touts a different god who is no god. Osteen’s god is not the God of sin and judgment and repentance. He is the coach in the sky who will give you a good parking place at the mall as you go in to spend money Osteen’s god has sent you because you are “favored” to have your best life now.

The watering down of the Word and of His doctrines and of a solid Christian life makes me shake my head. Bending my knees I ask the Lord to sweep us up to Him, because the faithlessness in His name is unbearable.