Blog Archive: 2013

Blog List: June – December, 2013

1. 6/17/13: Should we be worried about our country?
2. 6/24/13: Do we need better Christian leaders?
3. 7/1/13: Satan’s Suction System
4. 7/8/13: Would you pass a basic Bible quiz?
5. 7/15/13: Life on other planets?
6. 7/22/13: How to find a good church
7. 7/29/13: IFB churches — clueless!
8. 8/05/13: How to save your children
9. 8/22/13: Problem with TULIPS? Try SPURGE.
10. 9/1/13: No need to separate
11. 9/15/13: Evangelical churches — clueless!
12. 10/1/13: A. W. Tozer on God’s part vs. man’s part
13. 10/15/13: A. W. Tozer on Faith vs. Obedience
14. 11/1/13: T4T: An Explosion of House Churches
15. 11/15/13: Are you in touch with reality?
16. 12/1/13: The Authenticity of the Book of Genesis
17. 12/15/13: How to win false converts and build a megachurch

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1. Should we be worried about our country?
June 17,2013

In short . . . NO! Is America in trouble? Yes. Does immorality abound? Yes. Have socialists taken over at all levels of government? Yes. Are freedoms disappearing as the IRS targets political enemies, the NSA listens to your phone calls, and elections are stolen by a whole spectrum of dirty tricks? Yes. Are illegals swarming across the border and endangering the nation’s prosperity? Yes. Is America already suffering judgment as sodomy is glorified, Christians are vilified, and abortion murders thousands of innocents every day? Of course.

I note that evangelicals (gellies) and fundamentalists (fundies) continue to worry over whether America can be saved / turned around / reclaimed . . . or more incredibly, whether we might yet experience national revival. Insanely, much of the energy toward these goals has been expended in political action, with “Christians” of all flavors teaming up in ecumenical fervor! Conservative Christians have been working at this, very publicly, since at least the 1970s. How are we doing? Getting worse all the time, isn’t it?

Do you suppose that 1st century believers worried over the policies of the Roman empire? How much of that do you see in the New Testament? The early Christians were focused on one and only one mission – the Great Commission . . . evangelism and discipleship. Preach the Gospel and teach your new converts how to live by the Bible.

Across the rest of the world, Christians under various degrees of pressure or even persecution do not fret and stress over what their governments are doing. Christians in France, Russia, China, Pakistan, North Korea . . . they know they are not going to turn their nations around. So what can they do? Preach the Gospel. Be witnesses for the Lord Jesus Christ every day. Well, guess what? America is becoming more like France every day, where true Bible-believing Christians are in a desperately tiny minority, completely marginalized. If we live long enough before the Lord returns, we may see pressure on American Christians like those in Russia experience today, and perhaps even bloody persecution, as our brothers and sisters suffer in China, Pakistan, North Korea, and many other places.

American Christians – WAKE UP!!! America is already lost as a nation. Our duty before God is to obey Him and preach the Gospel. As individuals!! The churches are hopeless, building their mega-temples, pandering to worldly ‘seekers’, and putting on multi-media shows every week. The pastor of the small gelly church lusts to be the CEO of the next mega-church. What little doctrine is taught in the typical gelly church is getting more and more corrupted by Pentecostal and Calvinistic heresies. Fundie churches (Independent Fundamental Baptist, for example) defy the New Testament by investing all authority in one so-called ‘man of God’ pulpit preacher. They refuse to practice discipleship as topical hobby-horse sermons flow one way from pulpit to pew, keeping the ‘laity’ inarticulate and illiterate. (See my ‘church’ essays in the Discipleship section of this web site.)

Why shouldn’t American Christians be worried about the nation? We should be too busy doing God’s work! Face it: the rapture is coming. The one-world church of the antichrist is in the formative stages. The nations of the world will embrace the harlot of Babylon. It’s not our job to prevent that! It’s our job to reach out with the Gospel and pull lost souls into the ark of salvation!

I listened to a recent online radio broadcast by a ‘conservative evangelical’, Brannon Howse. His guest was Usama Dakdok, a Christian converted from Islam. The show’s focus was on the danger that Muslims pose to America. I agreed with much of what they said. Yes, Islam is at war against the non-Islamic world, including America, using threats and violence to intimidate and multiply, as it has done since the 7th century. Yes, America is threatened, as evidenced so dramatically in the Boston bombing, the Fort Hood shooting, etc.

But what’s the Biblical perspective? The individual Muslim is NOT my enemy. He is a lost soul in need of the Savior. Neither Howse nor Dakdok said one thing about reaching out to Muslims with the Gospel personally. In this particular broadcast, they gave no example of doing so themselves. Are Muslims more evident in American society today? Yes. So go talk to them about God’s law, sin, judgment, the Gospel . . . and plead with them to repent and trust the Lord Jesus!

Another Howse radio show decried how evangelicals are teaming up with political liberals to establish amnesty for illegals. Is illegal immigration a problem for America? Yes. But the Christian’s focus must be to reach out with the Gospel. If you can’t speak Spanish, then get some Spanish language tracts from Chick Publications.

I believe that it would be a blessing for America to go the way of Europe, or worse, in marginalizing Biblical Christianity. Worrying about our nation distracts us from doing God’s work. Worry is the opposite of faith and, therefore, it is sin. Don’t worry about unbelievers. Pray for them to be saved. Pray for boldness and Spirit-led opportunities to share the Gospel. (Don’t wait for Spirit-led opportunities! The Holy Spirit will lead you once you get going!)

Furthermore, it is LIBERATING to focus on the salvation of souls, rather than the political restoration of the nation. Face it . . . the way things are going, we may as well live in France! Do you really worry about what’s going on in France?!?

Americans can yet be saved — individually! (So can Frenchmen!) If we get to the point that it is clear that there is NO WAY that we, as Christians, can have any more political influence, then perhaps we’ll get back to what God actually wants us to do.

– drdave@truthreallymatters.com

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2. Do we need better Christian leaders?
June 24, 2013

The short answer is ‘NO!’, but you may not appreciate why. Please bear with me as I develop the argument . . .

With more media access than ever before in history, Christian conservative watchdogs reach out to us through TV, radio, web TV, web radio, Facebook, direct emails, etc. Evangelical (gelly) and fundamentalist (fundie) broadcasters and bloggers thump their pulpits on a variety of themes, but clearly their favorite is to warn us of apostate leaders . . . especially leaders who seemed more conservative just a few years ago.

I’ll cite two such watchdogs, who are representative of many more. Now you should know that I like these guys! They speak a good bit of truth, in areas where they haven’t happened to fall into doctrinal ditches. And they do a lot of homework for us, surveying and synthesizing various news sources. I appreciate that! But watch out for the watchdogs! Lest you unthinkingly embrace their conclusions. Even worse, you might not even notice that they have framed an issue incorrectly. Namely, the choice isn’t always between ‘A’ and ‘B’. Sometimes ‘C’, which is the Biblical solution, doesn’t even get to play in the ball game!

Brannon Howse is a gelly watchdog, and devotes much web radio / web TV time to calling out gelly preachers like Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, and Brian McLaren. These wolves in sheep’s clothing should be called out for their watered-down Gospel, for embracing liberal bedfellows and wicked political causes, and for cozying up to heretics more blatant than themselves. There are many gelly preachers that seem doctrinally solid for some years before they reveal their wackiness. Billy Graham, for example, sounded like a fundie preacher for many years before his universalism and ties to the Roman Catholic Church were fully exposed.

Since Howse has some blind spots himself, it takes him longer than it should to realize that some ‘Christian leaders’ have a corrupt core. His Calvinist theology kept him blind for some years to John Piper’s problems, for example. Howse is right to call out David Barton for teaming up . . . spiritually . . . with Glenn Beck, an ardent Mormon. It’s easy to identify a Mormon as a heretic, but Howse’s Protestant worldview kept him blind to Barton’s ecumenical tendencies, which derive from his own Protestant worldview. (See my “10 Most Deadly Heresies” article, section #10.) The skewed Catholic / Protestant view of history promotes blindness to the stream of independent, persecuted, Bible-loving churches that have persisted and even thrived despite the machinations of both Catholics and Protestants . . . well, don’t get me started. Do get yourself a copy of The Trail of Blood, by J.M. Carroll, or read it online.

In the fundie camp, David Cloud works hard to keep his favorite churches – Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) – from sliding into evangelicalism, and then into the seeker-sensitive / emergent morass. He’s not succeeding. One of his favorite targets is Paul Chappell, a fundie pastor and Baptist college president in California. Cloud focuses on the least of Chappell’s three lethal problems. Chappell’s church and college is slipping quickly into the use of modern Christian pop / rock, also known as CCM – Contemporary Christian Music. Cloud is right to hammer them on a CCM culture that leads to Pentecostalism, doctrinal weakness, worldliness, ecumenism, and a host of other problems. CCM is often the first step in a slide that takes a fundie church from conservative to emergent. Interestingly, Howse rarely says a word about music issues because, frankly, he doesn’t dare, even if he has some convictions about it. Gelly culture is completely infested with CCM. But you say that music isn’t such a big issue. Gelly church culture is CENTERED on CCM, enticing the young people with its emotionalism and sensuality. Note that the ‘contemporary worship service’ always gets the prime time, 11 am slot on Sunday. If you’re an old fogie traditionalist, you’ve got to get up early! If you’re interested in this issue, read Cloud’s articles.

Cloud has written very little about a much more lethal problem with Chappell’s empire which, along with many other fundie churches, practices and promotes a false Gospel. They explicitly reject repentance as a necessary condition of salvation, and produce multitudes of false converts via a manipulative ‘soul-winning’ method. What could be more deadly than that? (Cloud has written extensively, and appropriately, on repentance and the Gospel, but doesn’t seem to want to go there in Chappell’s case.)

Now here is the crux of this week’s blog . . . Chappell’s third lethal problem is not understood by Cloud, Howse, or any other watchdog I’m aware of. Essentially all fundie and gelly churches are led by a ‘senior pastor’, pay him a full salary, and establish him as the principal authority for doctrine and policy. There may well be assistant pastors, associate pastors, etc., who are also on salary, who have delegated responsibilities under the 1-man pastor. Please consider that this salaried, seminary-trained, ordained-by-their-peers group constitutes a clergy class, quite distinct from the mere laity who sit in the pews and write the checks. Even churches that have ‘lay elders’, give away the argument by calling them ‘lay elders’!! After all, we know who the REAL elders are! Now, all serious gellies and fundies profess that every New Testament believer is a ‘priest’ with direct access to God (1 Peter 2:9, Revelation 1:6). How can they fail to see that their ‘clergy’ are a throwback to the Levitical priesthood . . . and emulate the priests of the Roman Catholic ‘church’?

Do we need better leaders? Is the problem the quality of the leaders? If we got better men in those positions, would it solve the problem? No! Such ‘leaders’ . . . such leadership positions . . . shouldn’t exist in the first place! The New Testament knows nothing of mega-church super-pastors, super-evangelists, or any other fame-hungry, sin-laden superstars. And most small church pastors would volunteer for a mega-church pastorate in a heartbeat!

Howse and Cloud decry the heretical influence of gelly and fundie superstars. But they don’t see that the problem is the promotion of individuals into positions where their authority and influence over people stand between the believer and the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s popery! Even a small country church, with just 50 people on Sunday, when they choose a so-called ‘man of God’, 1-man pastor to rule them, have submitted to popery. Howse does considerable research to prove that Marxists like Jim Wallis have infiltrated evangelical churches. But how could such characters develop any influence at all except for a church culture that glorifies leaders?!?

The issue is not to identify which leaders are good and which are bad. The Biblical point is to avoid elevating men into leadership positions in the first place!

What should a local New Testament church look like? From the 1st century history of Antioch, Ephesus, Smyrna, and many others, it’s clear that a house church network is to be unified over a city-wide area, led by a good number of collaborating mature men (elders), with all believers (men and women) focusing on evangelism and discipleship, loving one another, praying (with knowledge) for one another, and demonstrating that the follower of Jesus Christ is different! In the New Testament church system, no individual man can possibly attain a leadership position beyond “local eldership” – as one of several mature leaders in a local — not national — area, all accountable to each other and all to the rest of the local area church membership. See my various ‘church’ articles in the Discipleship section of this web site for an expanded discussion.

What are the consequences of putting one man (or even just a few men) in a pulpit (not a New Testament object) to lecture weekly to a crowd of laity? Here are just a few:

a. Little Bible knowledge among the Christians.
b. Little love among the brethren.
c. Little zeal for the lost.
d. Little prayer.
e. Little power.
f. Many false converts.
g. Much carnality – laity are held to different standards than clergy.
h. Much attention to money.
i. Many para-church organizations, including mission boards, denominations, and even
‘watchdog ministries’, in business for themselves.
j. As leaders slide, multitudes slide with them.

The system is deadly in so many ways. Consider a conservative church, which has a teen boy who is on fire to serve the Lord. Will he be encouraged to develop his God-given talents which may lead to a career in engineering, medicine, or law? Where he can be a witness to that part of the world? No way. Likely, he will be coerced towards a ‘Bible college’, an unscriptural institution, which will turn him into clergy. This sounds appealing to the boy. The ‘exalted leader’ is the one who gets the most attention. He gets to perform in front of the crowd, sometimes cracking jokes, sometimes telling sad stories, and sometimes telling the little people out there what the Bible really means, in the Greek, that is. Looks like a good job . . . Exalted Leader.

The young fellow has become part of the problem. In ‘full-time ministry’, consumed by administration and activity-management, his once burning zeal for 1-2-1 evangelism will find no time in the weekly schedule. (As an engineer or physician still on fire to serve the Lord, he may have several hours per week to do personal evangelism!) After a few years as ‘youth pastor’, the young man will get ‘his own church’, preaching from the pulpit to a crowd of laity, hoping for one or two young men from among the hundreds in his congregation, who will ‘hear the call’, and embrace a career in ‘full-time ministry.’

As ‘Senior Pastor’, since he doesn’t accost lost sinners on the street, he won’t very well encourage his people to do so, either. As long as the laity keep showing up and writing checks, and staying awake during his sermons . . . well, just keep the flow going. It’s cool. He’s got his church, his building, his paycheck, his ministry. And so it goes.

I just talked to a small town pastor (‘A’) who recently sought out the pastor (‘B’) of the other IFB church in his town, hoping that the two congregations could resolve some wounds from when they split. The split derived from disagreements over how a church discipline issue was handled. Both congregations are small, meet in buildings (too big for them) just a few blocks from each other, and are essentially identical in doctrine and practice. ‘B’ wasn’t interested. ‘B’ has his church and insists that ‘A’ should focus on his own church. So get lost. Who cares what God thinks.

Christians . . . Get rid of your leaders and step up to your responsibilities! Men, learn your Bibles, love your wives, train up your children, disciple your brethren and bear their burdens. It’s not the ‘pastor’s job’, it’s yours! Get out of the pewed facilities and form Bible-based house churches, in which you can know, love, and pray for your brethren, ask questions, discuss issues, learn the Bible, and reach out to others from a solid foundation of doctrine and practice.

I note that Brannon Howse has a favorite ‘preacher’ – John MacArthur, the nation’s most influential and prestigious evangelical Calvinist. By mentioning MacArthur as a shining example for other preachers in almost every other radio show, Howse is guilty of promoting superstar-ism.

Cloud seems careful to avoid the promotion of fundie superstars. However, many other fundies, like Shelton Smith and his preacher buddies (the ‘Sword of the Lord’ crowd), are poisonously guilty of superstar-ism. But Cloud misses the point. Why worry about guys like Rick Warren and Paul Chappell and their pervasive influence? These superstars disqualified themselves from the Lord’s service when they built mega-churches, holding tightly onto authority rather than spreading a house church network, thus preventing many godly Christians from developing their own gifts. The superstar’s goal: Make a name for himself! He doesn’t develop disciples . . . he puts on performances. Furthermore, his real problem is that he is LOST! Along with most of his undiscerning followers. Don’t criticize him for acting like a power-mad, influence-seeking, money-grubbing, ambitious lost man. What do you expect from the world? Call them out as LOST false teachers and call their LOST followers out to repent and come to the Lord Jesus and His way . . . including the way of His design for a church.

Have you noticed that in all the New Testament letters there is no mention of any 1-man pastor, except for Diotrephes (3 John 9), “who loveth to have the preeminence . . .” ‘Elders’ (plural) are mentioned, individual believers are mentioned, and especially the collection of saints as a whole in a given city-wide church are addressed. Where are the superstars? Answer: There is only one Shepherd, only one Superstar, the Lord Jesus Christ.

If you are born again, but in an ungodly false church system, then COME OUT! Don’t submit to the ‘ministry’ of some man who claims to be ‘the man of God.’ You are accountable for every minute of your life and every penny of your resources. Make your days count in preparation for your ‘life review’ at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Your days are short! Don’t waste them. Don’t just go with the flow, ‘doing church’ like the Roman Catholics week after week – the world’s flow is driven by Satan.

– drdave@truthreallymatters.com

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3. Satan’s Suction System
July 1, 2013 (updated July 2, 2013)

The Adversary and his demonic minions have devised a brilliant scheme to suck the life out of American Christendom. In every city, town, and hamlet their ‘vacuum cleaners’ operate with horrific efficiency, keeping the lost clueless of their certain judgment, preventing the new believer from growing, and diverting the few fervent followers of Jesus Christ into pointless busywork.

Let’s illustrate with a recent true case study I am familiar with. I’ll obscure identities, but not enough to prevent the principals from recognizing themselves, if they happen to read this.

(** New info to update the following account is in the footnote at the end. Also, all of the people in the anecdotes have been assigned fictional names. **)

XYZ Baptist Church, of the IFB variety (Independent Fundamental Baptist), resides in a small city close to a major state university. When ‘George’ and his family moved into town and joined this church, they found it to be of sound doctrine, but cold to evangelism. The pastor and his staff would knock some doors to invite people to church, but nobody was being trained to preach the Gospel 1-2-1, and what Gospel was preached from the pulpit was weak regarding a sinner’s need to repent.

‘George’ became a friend to a church member, ‘Sam’, who was about to quit the church altogether because of the coldness and the deadly dull routine of three passive pulpit-to-pew ‘worship services’ per week. ‘George’ and ‘Sam’ are both thoughtful young professionals and began to meet weekly outside of the scripted church meetings. From previous experiences, they both knew how to do 1-2-1 evangelism Scripturally, and so decided to get to work: knocking doors, and spending time on the campus talking to students. Gradually they recruited a few other enthusiasts and life began to blossom in a corner of this church. ‘Sam’ was instrumental in helping a graduate student, ‘Liam’, to come to know Christ. ‘Liam’ paid the price for his new birth when his fiancée broke off their engagement, but he matured in faith rapidly, and began to train some young people to share their faith.

After a few years, as his career demanded, ‘George’ moved his family across the country. Having had his fill of conventional modern churches, his family started a house church in another state.

A few months later, because of his apparent heart to serve the Lord, and his demonstrated skill in leading an adult Sunday School class, ‘Sam’ was enticed by the Senior Pastor to start seminary training, which led to ‘Sam’ giving up his PhD-qualified career to become ‘Assistant Pastor’. ‘Sam’ thought that this would give him even more time and opportunities to evangelize and disciple. ‘Sam’ avoided communicating his new life plan to his best friend, ‘George’, because he anticipated the response. As ‘George’ learned what was going on and pleaded with ‘Sam’ to reconsider, ‘Sam’ broke the friendship.

‘Liam’ grew increasingly frustrated. The evangelism group, under ‘Sam’’s leadership, was disintegrating. ‘Sam’ was consumed with administrative duties, and stopped doing street evangelism. Although ‘Liam’ was faithful in hitting the campus regularly, he couldn’t find a partner anymore, except for his own wife. Outside of the work of ‘Liam’, what little outreach happened consisted mainly in inviting people to come to church. In despair, ‘Liam’ finally left the church and is likely to establish a house church, even if it’s only he and his wife to begin with. Presently, they are visiting other established churches to see if they can find anyone with a fervent heart for Scriptural evangelism and genuine fellowship / discipleship. It looks bleak.

The demons in that campus town executed the plan brilliantly. A dead church began to show signs of life. When ‘George’ moved, the other key individual was enticed to make the big move from laity to clergy. I can imagine (pure speculation!) that after a particularly good job leading his Sunday School class, a local demon whispered to one of the other members, “Go tell ‘Sam’ what a marvelous job he did today!” Perhaps ‘Sam’ enjoyed the attention. And when he got some pulpit time . . . well, who doesn’t like that? Just a wisp of pride, then the prospect of clergy status, and . . . Ssluurrpp!! . . . a fervent Christian gets the life sucked out of him. This church, once again, is dead as a doornail.

At one point, when things were going well, IFB missionary, author, and blogger David Cloud got wind of this from-the-ground-up revival of evangelism in this church. He blogged that this was exactly what Christians should be doing in IFB churches! Cloud works hard to bolster the IFB community. What he doesn’t get is that the reason IFB churches slide is their unscriptural commitment to clergy / laity distinctions, seminary-trained one-man pastorates, and a passive pulpit-to-pew program which is a disastrous substitute for genuine discipleship . . . and which also prevents fellowship among Christian brothers and sisters. After three scripted meetings per week, there is no time in busy American life to actually develop close friendships with other believers. This is not just a fundie problem, of course. The evangelicals (gellies) are just as guilty.

I’m confident that Cloud doesn’t know ‘the rest of the story.’ The Senior Pastor in this account, like all IFB preachers, knows only one way for serious Christians to serve God . . . namely, surrender to ‘full time ministry’! So he thought he was helping ‘Sam’ fulfill his God-given destiny.

Unlike ‘Sam’, most preachers throughout evangelicalism and fundamentalism get ‘called by God’ to the ministry while still children. It’s a deadly game with no Scriptural support.

Here’s how it might go . . . During an in-any-fundie-church annual evangelistic campaign, the visiting evangelist makes an appeal for young men to come forward to ‘surrender to preach.’ A young lad has seen this before and noted how much attention is paid to other lads who responded in previous years. (And looking down the career path, it’s clear that in church life there is only ONE superstar who gets all the attention: THE PASTOR!) Now, the sermon stirs him up and so he walks forward. A regal fuss is made, and adults pat him on the back in the weeks to come. He might even be given some ‘pulpit time’ to begin to hone his skills. At age 18, off he goes to Bible college. When he graduates, he moves as fast as he can from Assistant Pastor here to Senior Pastor there. He doesn’t know anything about life. He hasn’t held a real job. Yet he is now, in his twenties(!), the spiritual mentor for adults – fathers, mothers, professionals, factory workers, teenagers, grandparents . . . there is a reason why the New Testament says that ELDERS should be in positions of responsibility.

This lad started out with some desire to actually make his life count for the Lord Jesus! Then . . . Ssluurrpp!! . . . Satan’s Suction System destroys a life that could have accomplished much.

For lost people the consequences of devilish mis-direction are infinite. Billy or Franklin Graham (for example) launches a mega-crusade in a major city. Multitudes respond to the invitation, many of them feeling some degree of conviction over sins, and a desire to figure out how to find God. A young lady walks toward the stage. She doesn’t entirely ‘get’ everything she heard, but she knows she needs something. She’s greeted by a smiling lady who gets her contact info and asks what type of church she grew up in. She says ‘Catholic.’ The appropriate box is checked and the nice lady prays with her. Later that week a member of St. XYZ Catholic Church visits with her, offering encouragement and friendship . . . Ssluurrpp!! She revitalizes her once-abandoned Catholic faith, becomes faithful to ‘Church’ every Sunday . . . until she dies and goes to Hell.

What’s the Devil’s plan for just any generic lost soul who feels a spiritual ‘hole in his heart’? Well, ABC mega-church has 100 different programs and activities to choose from. And the show they do on Sunday morning . . . 1st class!! That pastor . . . what a funny guy! And the music rocks! They don’t get offensive by using old-fashioned words like ‘sin’ and ‘repent’. I feel good every time I go! . . . Ssluurrpp!! I meet such folks all the time. The circumstances of life provoked them to try to find God. If I could have met them right then, they might have responded to the Biblical message of law / sin / judgment / repentance / faith / new birth. Instead, they got sucked into the modern church program, heard that ‘Jesus loves them’, and so they’re comfortable again. Multitudes of lost American souls have been sucked into modern churches and are now immune to the Gospel.

What if the local devils identify a serious young Christian, like ‘Sam’, but aren’t likely to get him to lust after clergy fame and glory? A good friend of mine, ‘Jim’, was part of a gelly church when he actually got saved (a real miracle!) and wanted to learn to share his faith. By the grace of God, he decided to take some evangelism training through Way of the Master (good idea!). His church put him on the ‘Outreach Committee’ . . . Ssluurrpp!! For more than a year they did nothing but talk. Finally, they made the big decision . . . put ads on the religion page of a local newspaper to advertise church services!

When I met ‘Jim’, he agreed to spend a day with me on the street in downtown Chicago. Needless to say, he got hooked on actually sharing the glorious Good News with real people. He joined with another good friend, ‘Mark’ (an old friend of mine, who lives about 100 miles away now), who has started a house church not far away from ‘Jim’.

Before ‘Mark’ started that house church, ‘Mark’ and ‘Tom’ were in an IFB church which started an Evangelism Committee. ‘Mark’ and ‘Tom’ were enthusiastic about this, so they joined up . . . Ssluurrpp!! The committee met every Saturday for a year, studying the topic of personal evangelism. ‘Mark’ then talked ‘Tom’ into an adventure, and the three of us made a day trip to Chicago. Had a great time. ‘Mark’ quit that church and started one in his living room. ‘Tom’ went back to the committee and praised God for the experiences he had in Chicago. ‘Tom’ then started to get out several times a week to seek out 1-2-1 encounters in his neighborhood. At the next meeting, another committee member agonized over just how to break the ice and GO DO evangelism. The guy next to him said, “Well, we could do what ‘Tom’ does . . . he just steps outside of his house, walks down the sidewalk, and talks to people!” Unfortunately, ‘Tom’ can’t stir the others up. If he hangs around, he’ll cool off to their temperature . . . frigid.

The ‘Vacuum Cleaner’ works at many levels. Want to teach your child Biblical values? Send him to Sunday School each week or, better yet(!), enroll him in your church’s Christian School. Then when you’re too tired after work each evening to bother with raising your boy, you can be content that others are doing the job for you! Current statistics indicate that about 90% of children raised in gelly and fundy churches / schools leap into the world’s godless immorality as soon as they leave the nest . . . Ssluurrpp!!

Have you ever looked through the ‘ministries’ and ‘activities’ listed on the web site of a gelly mega-church? There is everything under the sun with one consistently glaring exception: you won’t find a program in which people share the Gospel 1-2-1 with lost people. They implore you . . . Get involved! Be part of the ministry of this church! Join our bowling league. Ride with our very own evangelical motorcycle gang! Get in shape in our Zumba class! . . . Ssluurrpp!! But what if I want to learn to share the Gospel? What . . . are you crazy? In fact, the only historic Christian activity that is consistently ridiculed is that of knocking on doors to share the Gospel. That’s only for JWs and Mormons, apparently. Sad.

IS THERE HOPE?!? YES!!! Do you have to be Ssluurrpp’ed up? NO!!! Make your days count. Give a tract to someone. Say ‘hi’ to a stranger and ask him if he ever thinks about the big stuff . . . life, death, Heaven, Hell. Ask him if he dies . . . where would he be? Then tell him the Good News. Find other Christians for actual, real, time-intensive fellowship. Not sitting next to each other in pews, watching either the fundie or the gelly show, but discussing Biblical issues, sharing joys and sorrows, making friends.

You simply will not be able to consistently practice evangelism and discipleship – the two elements of the Great Commission – the principal components of the Christian life!!!! – within the conventional corrupt church program . . . Satan’s Suction System. If you want to try to serve the Lord, you will have to break out. The System is not just broken . . . it’s EVIL.

How can you start a house church, even if it’s just you and your wife at first? Start by reading the various ‘church’ articles in the Discipleship section of this web site. And feel free to drop me a line. Even if you disagree! Just give me Scriptural reasons for your disagreement!!!

** FOOTNOTE ** Regarding the account of ‘George’, ‘Sam’, and ‘Liam’, I received an email from someone who thinks that he is ‘Sam’. He claims that I have the facts of the case wrong, and is seriously offended that I assumed his motives were faulty. I admit that I’m making assumptions on temptations and motives. And I have NO DOUBT that ‘Sam’ is fully justified in his own mind. Ok – got it. But I stand on the factual outline and the overall opinion that this entire case is the work of demonic activity. It could well be that the path from A to B, namely the path that ‘Sam’ took from on-fire-‘laity’ to administrative-pulpit-pew-‘clergy’ was different or (far more likely) much more complex than I outlined. But the results are clear, including the ‘temperature’ of this church before, during, and after. If, dear reader, you know ‘Sam’ and interpret these events as a glorious victory, well, good luck to you. We’ll all get straightened out at the Bema, including me. By the way, in the ‘I’m offended’ email, the sender absolutely refused to engage in discussion / debate on the Biblical issues involved. Typical. He insisted that the only communication he would accept is 100% capitulation and apology. It never occurs to fundie clergy that if they are actually RIGHT about something, it might be helpful to offer corrective INSTRUCTION to the poor sap, like me, who must be wrong.

Look, ‘Sam’, this isn’t about you and your ‘church’ and your town, which nobody anywhere on the planet knows anything about. I didn’t even think or care that you would read this blog post on my inconsequential little site. You represent just a typical example. It’s about RIGHT VS. WRONG. Are you part of a system that is God’s Biblical plan, or a system that is devised by Satan to weaken, corrupt, and destroy Christians? If your system is RIGHT, then (you or anyone, PLEASE!) simply explain Biblically why you guys . . .

1. Sit people in pews for decades rather than discipling them, leaving them Biblically illiterate. Go ahead. Test your ‘laity’. See whether they know anything about their Bibles. Next week’s blog (in planning for some time already) will offer a simple written exam which any adult Christian should pass easily.
2. Neglect Scriptural evangelism by merely sending a small fraction of your people out to invite lost people to attend a church service.
3. Script three ‘worship services’ a week which prevents any real fellowship or knowledgeable prayer among the people.
4. Develop a culture where little discussion, little debate, little Q&A is available or even desired.
5. Invest much money in facilities and salaries.
6. In practice, draw serious distinctions between ‘pastor’ (clergy) and people (laity), rather than continually discipling EVERYONE to develop and PRACTICE spiritual gifts. By the way, why is authority centralized in one ‘Senior Pastor’ rather than a collaborative group of elders?
7. Compete with other churches in the same town which have very similar doctrine.
8. Demand tithes as if under the Levitical system, engage in ‘altar’ calls, and use manipulative ‘soul-winning’ methods, producing many false converts.

. . . ok, that’s enough. I could go on. But that’s the way you do things, so just lay it out there. Explain why. PLEASE straighten me out. Note that this would be a really great teaching opportunity for the laity in the pews! (I would be happy to publish on this site a defense of fundie church polity . . . although you could expect that I would critique it, too.)

– drdave@truthreallymatters.com

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4. Would you pass a basic Bible quiz?
July 8, 2013

Christian . . . Are you growing in knowledge of God’s word? Paul wrote to the Philippians (1:9), “And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment.” Love among and for the brethren must be grounded in truth, in the knowledge of God’s word. You are no help to your hurting brother in Christ if you offer him warm, fuzzy psycho-babble. Love him by sharing Biblical truth that can strengthen, encourage, and direct. Paul desires the believers to grow “in all judgment” – discernment. The Christian that falls for the next spiritual fad is of no use in God’s work . . . especially in evangelism. If you love the lost, you had better be able to show him his errors in reasoning so that you can show him his sins and his need for the Savior.

So I offer a basic Bible quiz, especially for adults who have been believers for several (or many) years. I promise that this quiz is ‘basic’ – elementary. I have resisted what might be considered advanced topics. I have also avoided what some could term ‘trivia’ . . . for example, how did Balaam finally assist Balak to get the Israelites cursed? Even though such topics are not ‘trivia’ at all. We should be familiar with the historical accounts which God has provided for our instruction – Romans 15:4.

Since this is an elementary quiz, a qualifying test for basic Bible knowledge, a passing grade would mean at least 90% of questions answered thoroughly. I’m not trying to stump anyone. You really should know this stuff!

Is this quiz thoroughly comprehensive on THE MOST VITAL questions on THE MOST FUNDAMENTAL truths? No, of course not. Consider it to be a ‘typical’ basic quiz. Teachers: if you decide to actually test your students, and you don’t like this quiz, then construct one at an equivalent level. For example, replace the question about Jeremiah with one about Isaiah.

Regarding pastors / elders . . . the test is not meant for you to take. It should be embarrassing if you have any trouble with it. Rather, you can use this test to evaluate whether you have fulfilled your responsibilities. If the people you teach fail to pass, then you fail. Something needs to change . . . don’t just preach louder!

So, before we begin . . . Don’t get nervous! . . . be assured that if you fail you can recover and re-qualify. I’ll have some comments at the end to suggest how to correct whatever deficiencies you uncover – in your own knowledge or as you re-embrace your responsibility to others.

Section #1: Closed Bible questions . . . you are allowed only pencil and paper.
Time limit: 2 hours

Q1: List all 10 of the 10 commandments. (See, I told you this test would be easy!)

Q2: Explain how the Lord Jesus, in His earthly ministry, taught the moral law. Did He affirm it, diminish it, or amplify it? Give some specific examples from His teaching.

Q3: Why did the nation of Israel split? Which tribes split? Describe the spiritual development of both parts of the nation until the Babylonian captivity. Give several specific examples to illustrate this development.

Q4: Which Old Testament prophet is most despised by modernists, because of his detailed prophecies concerning the centuries to follow? Give a couple of examples of his prophecies which were fulfilled before the 1st coming of Christ.

Q5: What was the historical context surrounding Jeremiah’s ministry – namely, what was the big problem? What was his bad news? What wonderful hope did he offer?

Q6: Which of the 4 Gospel accounts is ‘different’ from the other 3? Explain how.

Q7: Describe 3 Old Testament ‘types’ fulfilled in the New Testament. (For example, the Passover lamb, without blemish, was slain and its blood used to deliver anyone who applied it properly – to the doorposts. The fulfillment is the sinless Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, whose blood cleanses from sin anyone who repents and believes . . . thus, the Passover Lamb is a deliberate God-given ‘type’ to point to Christ . . . now, describe 3 other types.)

Q8: What was the main problem that Paul addressed in his letter to the churches of Galatia and what was his argument to correct the problem?

Q9: Name at least 5 of the 7 churches listed in Revelation chapters 2 and 3. Summarize the messages given to 2 of them.

Q10: Quote from memory 5 verses from the OT and 5 verses from the NT. Quote them perfectly.

Section #2: Open Bible questions . . . you are allowed pencil, paper, and a plain Bible with no commentary notes, cross references, or appendices.
Time limit: 2 hours

Q1: Use Scripture to support the doctrines of the Trinity and the Deity of Christ.

Q2: Find passages from 3 different OT books that prophesy the 1st coming of Christ. Explain their significance (namely, don’t just list the verses).

Q3: Find passages from 3 different OT and 3 different NT books that prophesy the 2nd coming of Christ.

Q4: Some people assert that Paul and James contradict each other regarding the relationship among faith, works, and salvation. Use Scripture and explain how these two NT writers are in perfect accord.

Q5: Use several OT and NT passages to demonstrate the ‘young earth creationist’ position.

Q6: Use the Bible to show that a believer immediately goes to Heaven when he dies, and that an unbeliever goes to Hell. (Not talking about final judgment . . . but in this present age.)

Q7: Use Scripture to identify at least 15 characteristics of a growing, sanctified follower of Christ.

Q8: Use Scripture to identify at least 15 characteristics of lost people.

Q9: Use at least 3 different books of the Bible to show that Scripture commands us to identify and separate from false teachers.

Q10: Show from the Bible that tithing is God’s method to support the NT churches in order for them to build costly facilities and to pay salaried clergy / staff who must graduate from Bible colleges and be ordained by others who have also done so. (Good luck with this one!!)

Section #3: History of God’s people since the 1st century . . . you are allowed only pencil and paper.
Time limit: 2 hours

Q1: Pick any 5 historical ‘good guys’ out of the following list and describe the significance of their work.

– John Wycliffe
– Erasmus
– William Tyndale
– John Wesley
– Shubal Stearns
– Hudson Taylor or Adoniram Judson
– Charles Spurgeon

Q2: Pick any 4 historical ‘bad guys’ out of the following list and describe the trouble they caused.

– Origen
– Augustine
– Ignatius of Loyola
– B. F. Westcott and/or F. J. A. Hort
– Rick Warren
– Rob Bell or Brian McLaren

Q3: Christian authors . . . Pick either John Bunyan or Henry Morris and describe his principal work and its significance.

Q4: Explain in a few paragraphs how God has preserved His inerrant word and propagated independent local churches since the 1st century . . . apart from and despite the efforts of the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant churches that came out of the Reformation. Mention at least 2 groups of believers that thrived under persecution during the Middle Ages.

Section 4: Practicum . . . Open Bible – you may use a cross-referenced study Bible, plus pen and paper.
Time limit: 2 hours

Q1: You are with an elderly, life-long committed Roman Catholic man who is on his deathbed . . . He has about 10 minutes to live. He insists that he believes in Jesus as his Savior. Show him from the Bible what his fatal errors are and what he must do.

Q2: You share lunch with a young, college-educated Muslim. Start on common ground – the law of Moses – and explain to him the differences between God and Allah, the Gospel and the Muslim’s hope for Paradise, and what he must do to be saved.

Q3: Use your Bible to refute the false Calvinist doctrines of Total Depravity and Unconditional Election. Explain how these doctrines, when embraced in youth, can prevent someone from understanding the Biblical Gospel and becoming a born again believer.

Q4: An atheist insists that he will not listen to your Bible quotes, since he doesn’t believe the Bible to be true. You must first convince him that God might exist. Give him at least 3 affirmative arguments for God being real, and then at least 3 arguments from your general knowledge of basic science to show that evolution is obviously false.

Q5: Give 3 examples where Jesus tried to reach an individual lost soul in the Gospel accounts. Explain His methodology in each case.

Q6: Explain briefly the major differences between Peter’s open-air argument in Acts 2 and Paul’s corresponding message on Mars Hill. How can you apply these principles to your own personal evangelism?

Q7: Do you have at least 100 verses in your current memory bank? Answer simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.

Q8: If you have been a believer for several years, have you read the Bible through several times? If many years . . . many times? Answer simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.

Q9: In the last month, have you ‘practiced’ your responsibility in evangelism by sharing the Gospel with at least 5 lost people – who were strangers to you? ‘Sharing the Gospel’ must include pointing out that their sins will bring judgment and Hell, and that they must repent – forsake their sins, and trust Christ . . . which will be demonstrated by a new birth and a changed life; ie., you didn’t take shortcuts. Answer simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.

Q10: In the last month have you prayed in tears for the burden of another believer. Answer simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. (Do you know why this question is both relevant and important?)

end of exam – Whew! Tired? Oh, sorry, too long? Have you ever taken the SAT or ACT? How about the GRE (Graduate Record Exam)? Were they too long? How about all of those Finals Weeks in college? Oh, but those were to test important skills, you say. Why would anyone be bothered with testing Bible knowledge?

Isn’t it interesting how ‘discipleship’ – in practice – seems to consist of about 2 or 3 hours per week of sitting under Sunday School lessons and pulpit sermons . . . for decades . . . with no accountability, no exams, no apparent care whether anyone learns anything! The secular world does far better than that. Engineers are not merely lectured to for a few years and then unleashed to build bridges and computers. Pediatricians in training do more than watch Power Point shows before you entrust them with your sick child. Lawyers must repeatedly demonstrate knowledge and skills in rhetoric and writing before they will be licensed by the state.

But the greatest work in God’s universe – making and developing disciples of Jesus Christ – involves no real training, no testing, no care whether anyone ‘gets it’ or not. The few young folks who develop any noticeable zeal are sent off to ‘Bible College’ and become hirelings to some other congregation. Now they are the ones in the pulpit conducting 2-hour per week ‘discipleship’ lectures for the ‘laity’ in the pews. (See my article, “Don’t go to Bible college.”)

Did you pass the exam? Great! Get ready for more advanced study! Those questions were really just elementary . . . surely, you agree. Any 16-year-old raised in a Christian family should pass easily. You wouldn’t send your children out into the pagan / apostate / humanistic world without knowing at least this much, would you?!?

Did you fail? Ok, don’t get discouraged. Do something about it! If your ‘discipleship’ training has been via the traditional failed system described above, then figure out the NT model for yourself . . . described in several articles in the Discipleship section of this site. Man up! You are going to stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ – the ultimate test!!! – and give an account for your own life, and for the discipleship responsibilities you have for your wife, your children, and other believers around you.

Don’t just drift along in the system. I’m hoping that for someone out there that this little quiz might be a wakeup call.

There is a spiritual war on and you need some armor and some weapons!!!

It’s your job . . . your pulpit-pew system is blocking your growth. It’s not helping . . . at least be honest with yourself.

Feel free to correspond if you like. I’m not trying to convince paid clergy – they are committed to their facilities and salaries and . . . they fear for their paychecks, which depend on an unbiblical distinction between clergy and laity. (See 1 Peter 2:9 and Rev 1:6). But you know that you should invest in the gifts God has given you. And follow His way toward spiritual growth and usefulness in the greatest calling of all – The Great Commission.

– drdave@truthreallymatters.com

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5. Life on other planets?
July 15, 2013

July 15, 2013

For the last several years both astronomy and sci-fi buffs have been agog with excitement over the discovery of extra-solar planets . . . planets in orbit around other stars. The Kepler space telescope has discovered evidence of 2740 such planets since 2009, when it began operations. No one can build a telescope big enough to actually ‘see’ these planets. Their existence, orbital radii, and even rough estimates of their masses can be inferred from the effects they have on their suns. For example, the starlight dims just a tad when a sizable planet transits in front of its star (from Earth’s point of view). Also, the position of the star wobbles just a mite, and does so periodically, as the planet orbits.

The popular press squeals regularly with delight that, ‘We might not be alone!’, in sync with the professional alien hunters at NASA and in academia. “The Case for Alien Life,” by Sarah Fecht, (Popular Mechanics, July/Aug 2013) is the latest piece of propaganda by atheists / evolutionists who are sure that Earth, humans, and all life here are just accidents and, if we can just find one other such accident out there, then YIPPEE!!, we have proven that there is no purpose to our existence, there is no God, no morality, no accountability, no hope, and no point.

Most of the newly discovered planets are large – like super-sized Jupiters – and orbit close to their suns. The bigger they are and the tighter the orbit, the easier it is to detect them. Nevertheless, there is hope that there may be the occasional Earth-sized planet in an Earth-sized orbit (right temperature, allowing liquid water, reasonable atmosphere, etc.) As reported in Pop Mech, astronomers have extrapolated from very small bits of data to suggest that between 11 and 36 billion Earth-sized exoplanets might exist in our very own Milky Way galaxy!

In this blog I won’t critique their data or their extrapolations. I think it would be great if they are right! I won’t even point out that the data are entirely contrary to all of the historic evolutionary origin-of-solar system models that fill our kids’ textbooks and museums . . . you know how it goes . . . a large cloud of gas contracts until our sun and its planets congeal in nice orbits. There are lethal problems with those models without even looking at the exoplanet data. But now the existence of big, hot gaseous planets (super-Jupiters) orbiting close to their stars, and somehow existing for millions to billions of years . . . naturalistic origin models are in even more trouble now.

What I will critique are the usual unscientific and outlandish speculations offered in the name of science, but grounded strictly in atheistic religious faith. The Pop Mech author gushes, “Generations of scientists and science fiction fans (often, those are the same people) have thought we’d find life strewn throughout the stars – if not civilizations, at least bacterial mat, or tentacled beasts on ocean floors, or something. But for decades the evidence was thin. Now, in 2013, the data is on the side of the believers.” Wow!!!!! Must be compelling data!! (Note the term ‘believers’ — the faithful.)

Also, from physicist Michio Kaku: “Soon we’re going to have an existential shock. In the next 50 years, there’s a very good chance that we’ll make contact with an extraterrestrial life-form. In the familiar constellations that we learned as children, we will find twins of Earth, and that’s going to change our understanding of who we are in this universe. Even if we find a fossil, a DNA strand from another species, that would be absolutely staggering.”

This famous physicist, often in the public eye and featured regularly on TV, reveals an anti-scientific naivete that can be explained only by atheistic fervor. Two things in particular:

1. “ . . . change our understanding . . .” and “absolutely staggering” . . . Wait a second! Don’t you evolutionary zealots already know that evolution is a fact and that it must therefore occur throughout the universe? If you mean that Biblical creationists would be staggered to discover evolutionary-based life in nearby star systems, you’re probably right. But you’re saying that you and your ever hopeful buddies would be staggered. Maybe you’re not so confident after all? Maybe you know that evolution from molecules to microbes and from microbes to man is mathematically and chemically impossible. I think you gave yourself away there.

2. “ . . . a very good chance . . .” This means ‘a high probability.’ Based on what? Past experience in finding life on other planets? No. Zero life has been discovered on the other planets within our solar system. Extrapolate from zero and you get zero. Alternatively, ‘a high probability’ might, perchance, be estimated from solid theoretical grounds . . . oops, there is no theoretical or experimental basis WHATSOEVER that life arises from natural chemical processes. In fact, an awesome body of experimental and theoretical chemistry proves conclusively that it can’t happen! More on this later.

Clearly, more than just an abundance of planets is required to assure alien life. They need the right ‘building blocks.’ “The Spitzer Space Telescope revealed in 2005 that the galaxy is littered with nitrogen-containing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons – ring-shaped molecules that may become the building blocks of DNA, RNA, chlorophyll, and hemoglobin.” Brilliant. Small molecules are scattered about space in incredibly low concentrations . . . therefore, it must not be much of a leap to high concentrations of huge functionally designed molecules within living organisms, which are part of vast planetary ecosystems?!!? Come on! Don’t you notice your own fallacy?

“Simpler organic compounds have been detected on Mercury, Ganymede, and Enceladus. And analyses of meteorites that have struck Earth suggest that asteroids are zooming through the cosmos carrying water ice, nitrogen, sulfur, ready-made sugars and amino acids, and some of the components of genetic material. NASA geologist David Blake blurts, “The kind of chemistry that could have been used for life exists everywhere. There’s no reason that life wouldn’t have happened on other solar systems. The ingredients are everywhere we look.”

It’s painful to me to have to point out such obvious fallacies. Yes, the elements of the periodic table show up everywhere. Yes, simple molecules consisting of a few atoms, or rarely up to 10 or 20 atoms pop up occasionally. But life is many, many orders of complexity above the level of its building blocks. For a basic introduction to the impossibilities – I don’t use that word lightly – involved in getting from small molecules to a living system, see my Short Course in Creation / Evolution, particularly Part 1: Probabilities vs. Impossibilities, and my Educational Note #4: Shannon’s Theory of Information & its Relevance to DNA.

More briefly, consider the following assertions about ‘building blocks’ – analogies to the extrapolations above – and tell me if you would accept them, even from a world-renowned expert.

1. Whenever you find a bit of shiny aluminum or titanium on the ground , it’s easy to see how an advanced fighter aircraft, like the F-22 Raptor, can develop from natural chemical and physical processes. Including, of course, its sensors, avionics, engines, and flight controls. Intelligent Design? Bah!

2. Walk down the beach and look at all that sand. A lightning bolt could strike and fuse a little chip of silicon. Aha! So you can easily see why we find super-computers on the Earth! Fuse some silica, wait for geologic pressure to extrude a random bit of copper wire . . . just wait long enough and you can’t help but discover super-computers!

3. Look at this shiny piece of marble. Thus you can see that structures like the Taj Mahal arise from the creative power of NATURE!

4. It’s silly to hang this splotch of paint they call “The Mona Lisa” in this museum. They claim that a painter is responsible! All you need is just a few spoonfuls of paint and then just wait.

5. Here you go – a bottle of ink and a ream of paper. Now you know where the Encyclopedia Britannica came from and the so-called works of William Shakespeare. Baloney! Ink, paper, and time. There are no such things as authors!

You get the picture. I could go on. But even these analogies pale in comparison to the complexity gulf between simple amino acid molecules and life’s functional proteins, or between simple “ready-made sugars” and the DNA / RNA system.

They lie . . . and they lie knowingly. The author summarizes the phony excuse of the atheist / evolutionist / alien-life-out-there acolyte: “We can’t calculate the odds of life arising spontaneously, because we can only confirm that it has happened once. But life here on Earth PROVES that the probability is greater than zero. And in an infinite universe with billions of planets, there are billions of opportunities for evolution to commence.”

Life – incredibly brilliant functional complexity – maybe a Creator was involved? Never!!! Actually, biochemists can calculate the odds. Yes, they can and they know it! The odds are so overwhelmingly against life evolving from non-life that you never see the issue discussed in the popular press or, especially, in students’ textbooks. (The odds are even worse in going from microbes to invertebrates to fish to reptiles, etc. – EVERY STAGE is impossible.) And it’s generally hushed up in the technical literature . . . nevertheless, the numbers have been there since the 1960s. Once the structure of proteins and DNA were determined, mathematicians and biologists looked at the numbers . . . in horror. So they throw ‘billions and billions’ at us to make the impossible seem likely, and never actually show us a simple calculation – that you can do with arithmetic.

By the way, a ‘billion’ is not infinity. People work and live with ‘billions’ every day. There are 7 billion people on Earth. Your lungs process over 100 billion billion molecules every second. The unfunded U.S. federal debt is over 100 thousand billion dollars. Etc. The point is that anyone can do calculations on real problems that involve large numbers!

So what is the chance of even one useful protein molecule forming, if you could fill all the oceans of all the conceivable planets of our entire galaxy with the proper amino acids . . . no, rather, let every atom of every star and planet in the entire universe be replaced with an amino acid, and let them form bonds with each other in one vast imaginary universal ocean, bonding at a trillion times per second, attempting to create useful chains. You see, the universe contains only about 1080 atoms. (1 billion is only 109, the Earth has about 1051 atoms and our sun about 1057.) And there are less than 1018 seconds in the alleged evolutionary history of the universe. Even in this fanciful scenario, there aren’t enough billions. A single average protein molecule contains so much specific design information that not one useful candidate would ever appear . . . ever. (See the details in my Short Course article.)

And one lonely protein molecule isn’t enough. The ‘simplest’ one-celled microbe contains hundreds of different types of proteins, millions of each arranged in perfect 3-D relationships to do their jobs. Plus DNA and RNA, which involve chemistry more delicate and quite different from amino acid chemistry. And you’ve got to arrange them correctly, plus a bevy of other molecules and mega-molecular structures.

Oh yeah . . . one microbe isn’t enough. Evolutionists speak as if finding one microbe on Mars would solve the problem. YOU NEED AN ECOSYSTEM! The bacterium needs to eat, doesn’t it?!? How would people get along on Earth if people were the only living organisms?

Atheists resent challenges, don’t they? That’s why creationists get censored and even fired from public school systems and universities. The tyrants that dominate our educational systems, from Kindergarten through graduate school, will not allow debate. They know they cannot win a fair debate! Like I said, the numbers have been out there for decades.

The atheistic worldview claims that science is all, explains all, and is the only hope for mankind. Consider: What is science? It’s a methodology to measure and explain the dynamics of matter and forces in our environment. Observations, hypotheses, experiments, theories, tests, revised hypotheses . . . very good for systematizing our periodic table, measuring the force of gravity, spectroscopically detecting the gases in a stellar atmosphere, and so on.

Can science answer WHY? Why are we here? How did we get here? Where are we going? What’s the point?

How about important things . . . issues even more important that measuring the precise mass of the proton? Like . . . TRUTH . . . LOGIC . . . REASON . . . JUSTICE . . . BEAUTY . . . INTEGRITY . . . LOVE . . . JOY . . . MEANING . . . RIGHT VS. WRONG . . . MORALITY . . . CONSCIOUSNESS . . . WHAT IS AFTER DEATH????? That last one . . . if you are clueless, can you say anything about HOPE?

The evolutionist — ‘matter is everything’ — has no right to make logical arguments! LOGIC is non-material. He cannot use REASON to argue that he is RIGHT and we are WRONG. REASON isn’t found among particles and forces. And there is no RIGHT or WRONG in a non-spiritual cosmos.

By the way, science cannot even exist without a foundation of TRUTH and LOGIC and CONSCIOUSNESS. The scientific method is built atop TRUTH and LOGIC and CONSCIOUSNESS. You cannot buy a scientific instrument or conduct any experiment to discover, prove, or explain such qualities. Not to mention real, yet non-material entities like LOVE and MORALITY.

The important stuff is not found in protons, neutrons, and electrons. Our lives are based on non-physical, non-material . . . yet very REAL entities. Even SCIENCE itself is a non-material entity. It’s a CONCEPT – a construct of a person’s mind. As are DATA, REASON, EXPLANATION, EVIDENCE, THEORY, and PROOF!

You are more than molecules. Your CONSCIOUSNESS – your mind – is more than brain chemistry. There is a YOU! And there is a CREATOR who cares about you. You had better figure out what HE wants you to do about it!

I’m hoping there are billions of planets out there. I’m hoping that many of them are like Earth, even if they have no life on them yet. The Creator informed us, “The heaven, even the heavens are the Lord’s; but the earth hath He given to the children of men.” (Psalm 115:16) Having nearly wrecked this one planet, Earth, humanity’s dream is to conquer and spoil the rest of the universe, no matter how long it takes. Well, God has told us that the heavens belong to Him alone . . . for now.

The Bible gives us just tantalizing hints of what will happen in the ages to come. The main thing is that only His children will be citizens. It’s very ironic. Atheists dream of a Star Trek universe, exploring new worlds and, unfortunately, running into Klingons, Romulans, and lots of other selfish, antagonistic, human-like creatures that present never-ending problems. Read sci-fi and note how depressing is the never ending saga of greed, conflict, war, dirty politics, double-crosses, etc.

God’s universe will be very different. You can infer quite a bit, actually, from Scripture. I speculate that in the ages to come, God may just let us explore (peacefully and creatively) the rest of His creation. We may get to terraform many of those planets discovered so recently! Great fun! The Star Trek crowd won’t be there. There will be a Lake of Fire – a dark star, perhaps – that will keep them from making the trouble that we continually suffer at their hands on this Earth.

Is there already life on other planets? I doubt it . . . certainly not intelligent life, made spiritually in God’s image. The Incarnation, the Fall, the 2nd Coming of Christ . . . lots of reasons to discount a multitude of sentient races out there among the stars. How about non-intelligent ecosystems? I simply don’t know. If so, there is NO DOUBT that God would have designed, created, and sustained them. The evolutionist’s concept of alien life has no room for a Creator at all. That would certainly cramp his amoral lifestyle.

The good news is that anyone can change teams! You don’t know the Creator – Jesus Christ? If you join His team, maybe we can work together on a terraforming project. I can hardly wait. Even if the Star Trek universe represented reality, none of you guys will live long enough to visit . . . even Mars! Sad. No hope, no point . . . death, then non-existence – that’s your best hope! Given the spectacular, mind-bending prospect of eternal life and a cosmos to explore . . . how about doing a little research to see if it just might be TRUE?

– drdave@truthreallymatters.com

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6. How to find a good church
July 22, 2013

There are lots of churches to choose from in any sizable town. In Rockford, where I lived recently, (note: just moved to Phoenix in August, 2013) two mega-churches compete for crowds . . . across the street from each other! Rockford has about 300 ‘Christian churches’ in total. Which one should I choose?!? The key to finding a ‘good church’ is to use solid, Biblical criteria in your evaluation.

I suggest two overlapping models. First . . . As expounded on this site’s homepage, “What’s the bottom line . . .”, the Christian life revealed in the New Testament should be filled up with EVANGELISM and DISCIPLESHIP. If your spiritual life is so cold that you let those around you . . . including relatives, co-workers, neighbors, and more distant ‘strangers’ . . . go to Hell without an impassioned warning, then you need to repent and beg God for forgiveness . . . and start sharing the Gospel!! Also, if you are able to teach, find those who need to learn. If you still need to learn (Who doesn’t?), then find teachers among the other believers around you. In both teaching and learning, be sure to exhort, encourage, be-friend, hang out with, help, pray, and model the Lord Jesus to those Christians close to you.

Second . . . My article “Three Pillars . . .” describes TRUTH, LOVE, and ZEAL as the elements on which a Biblical church must stand. If a church lacks TRUTH, then whatever it claims to accomplish in LOVE and ZEAL will only further Satan’s works. If it lacks LOVE, its people defy the two greatest commandments, are anti-witnesses of Christ to the world, and may have already lost their candlestick (Rev 2:4-5). If it lacks ZEAL (in evangelism), why does it bother to exist, and how can it claim LOVE while it defies the TRUTH of the Great Commission?

Scriptural EVANGELISM necessarily requires TRUTH wrapped in ZEAL. Scriptural DISCIPLESHIP is accomplished when TRUTH is wrapped in LOVE. Let’s walk through the TRUTH / LOVE / ZEAL model to construct a checklist for a church you might join . . . or, if you dare, to reconsider the church you are already supporting with money / time / energy and entrusting it with the spiritual development of your wife and children.

TRUTH starts with Biblical inerrancy – an inerrant Bible that you can hold in your own hands. A church may claim to believe in inerrancy ‘in the original autographs.’ That’s a scam. By the time the NT was written, there were no original autographs of the OT in existence. Either God preserved His word . . . as He promised . . . or He didn’t. If you use an NIV or ESV or NASV or NLT or NKJV or any other modern version, you should know that the (unsaved) liberals who edited those for-profit versions openly deny inerrancy. They believe that the manuscripts they worked from are rife with errors (They are!) and that there never will be an inerrant Hebrew / Greek text. To find an inerrant Bible, based on trustworthy manuscripts, and accurately translated into English, you need a KJV, even if you have to ‘man up’ and get used to its brilliant and poetic style. If this is a new subject to you, check out my “10 Most Deadly Heresies . . .” article, Section #8.

However, a good number of churches, plus some cults, do use the KJV and do not qualify under the TRUTH test. TRUTH must be taken seriously! Now, I can list a set of qualifiers or a set of disqualifiers. It’s easier in practice to pick up on disqualifiers, as you listen to teaching in a church and ask members what they’re excited about. Go ahead, ask them. They will tell you. A church should be disqualified on TRUTH if one or more of the following indicators pop up:

– They don’t believe that Adam was created by God in a sinless world about 6,000 years ago and that the ‘days’ in Genesis 1 actually mean ‘days’. And that this issue is vital!
– The word ‘sin’ is neglected and often replaced by ‘mistake’, ‘bad choice’, or ‘oops’.
– They are soft on abortion or sodomy (Yes, “sodomy” is the Biblical, but politically incorrect term; not merely “homosexuality” which merely involves a temptation to commit sodomy.)
– They teach that you can be saved by ‘believing’ which does not involve repentance from specific sins in your life.
– They teach that man has no responsibility in his own salvation and they speak well of John MacArthur, John Piper, and John Calvin.
– They teach that God is still giving revelations to man, especially preachers, and that a good way to praise God is to babble in a non-language . . . and they speak well of Joyce Meyer, Joseph Prince, and TBN.
– They like to quote Roman Catholic mystics, engage in prayer walks, do ‘centering prayer’, and love the idea of getting all kinds of different churches to work together in social programs. They admire guys like Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, and Mark Driscoll.
– They seem to refer to God like He’s a magic genie who will prosper you, show you ‘favor’, and bless you financially. They love to watch Joel Osteen, Jim Bakker, Creflo Dollar, and Pat Robertson.
– They teach that you have to hang in there and work hard to insure your salvation and, if you fail to do so, you just might lose it.

LOVE can be practiced in a Biblical sense only if brothers and sisters in Christ are eager to meet together, to exhort and encourage one another, to fellowship enough so that they can pray for each other, and to love each other in practical ways so that even the world might notice that there is something a bit different about real Christians. Our love is to abound more and more in knowledge and judgment (discernment) (Phil 1:9). In order to LOVE each other enough to help, encourage, teach, and counsel, we must be growing in Biblical TRUTH. Thus LOVE and DISCIPLESHIP and TRUTH are tightly intertwined.

Disqualifiers under the LOVE test might show up in the following list:

– The ‘serious’ instruction is generally delivered by one man, pulpit-to-pew, and is called ‘preaching’ rather than teaching.
– That one man is often called ‘the man of God’, as if he stands between mere followers of Christ and God.
– Little time for Q&A. Very little open discussion in practice. Very little apparent interest in open discussion. Debates on topics where people disagree? Never!
– Weekly services are well-organized. Everyone knows what the game plan is. Start and stop times are well-established. Very few minutes per week are available for fellowship, and that primarily in a quick “How ya doin’?” before and after each ‘service’.
– Ask a member how many other members he knows who have serious burdens that he’s praying for. If he struggles to answer, and others do, too . . .
– Ask a member what burdens he’s carrying. Ask when the last time was that his burdens were discussed in a church (or small group) setting so that he could receive Biblical counsel and encouragement from others – not from the paid pastoral staff. Ask a few others. What’s the pattern?
– Youth activities are fun! There is a twenty-something guy with the title, “Youth Pastor.” Serious discipleship training, such as teaching the teens to do 121 evangelism, occurs . . . never.
– Few adults have teaching responsibility for other adults during the course of a year. Adults can coast passively through their church life for decades without growing in knowledge, wisdom, love, and zeal.
– The more mature adults, especially the ‘elders’, don’t ever evaluate whether people learn anything. Do they care if people are growing? Are there any quizzes? Any practicums? Not just in a special Bible Institute, but for every believer in the body?
– Where is the focus – on the Lord Jesus and other believers or . . . on the Senior Pastor? Do they speak regularly and highly of any of the following: Jack Hyles, Shelton Smith, Paul Chappell, ‘preachers’ who network via the conferences sponsored by “The Sword of the Lord”? Or John MacArthur, John Piper, Brannon Howse, etc.; ie., the culture glorifies ‘superstars’.

ZEAL is shorthand for Scriptural evangelism. If a Gospel presentation is flawed, such ZEAL without TRUTH can produce false converts – much harder to reach later. (For more background, see my many articles on this site regarding 121 evangelism.) A church’s disqualifiers regarding their ZEAL may show up in the following list:

– Ask a member to talk about the last time he shared the Gospel fully, in which he used terms like ‘lost’, ‘sin’, ‘judgment’, ‘Hell’, ‘repent’, ‘born again’, ‘new creature’, etc.
– How many members shared the Gospel with lost people in the last month? How about the pastoral staff – outside the church campus?
– The church does an altar call at the end of a service so that someone can get saved right then, by saying a prayer, sincerely(?!?) . . . and is then pronounced ‘saved’.
– 121 evangelism includes the tactic of getting the lost person to say a “sinner’s prayer”.
– Most of the evangelistic effort seems to be done by inviting people to come to a church service or a special meeting.
– The church’s tracts are mostly dry text tri-folds . . . boring.
– The church’s web site has many ministries and activities listed and promoted . . . but little or nothing scheduled for personal evangelism.
– Ask a member if he knows anyone in the church who is active in 121 evangelism. If he struggles to answer . . .
– Members who don’t share the Gospel are quite comfortable in their disobedience. (Isn’t every believer supposed to obey the Great Commission?!?)

Some general thoughts to motivate your investigation . . .

The spiritual development of you, your wife, and your children is of great importance, is it not? You will stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Are you ready? Don’t you want to be ready?

What can a ‘pastor’ teach you if he is disobedient to the Great Commission himself? If he is doing 121 evangelism, he will talk about it often. If he doesn’t say much about his own experiences this week, then he didn’t have any. If he doesn’t share the Gospel as an individual, he will certainly warp his understanding and teaching of the Bible, which has an enormous emphasis on our responsibility to share the Good News.

If leadership and teaching responsibilities are not well-distributed throughout the membership, then a church will slide if the leader slides. If he falls into error, he will teach it. If he holds the pulpit, the pew-sitters will likely trust him and follow him into error. Have you noticed how fundie and gelly churches have fallen into such gross errors over the last few decades? Where are the mature Bible believers in a church who will stand up and correct the pulpiteer publicly? They don’t exist. They have been passive their whole lives.

Why isn’t there true time-intensive fellowship / discipleship in churches? Most people don’t want it. They ‘go to church’ each week, checking that duty off. They want a good ‘show’ for an hour or two, and that’s what church is about! There are too many other fun things to do in life! However, if this describes you, then you shouldn’t be reading this blog. But if you really don’t care for discipleship-in-depth, then are you really a follower of Jesus Christ? Are you actually born again?

Are there good churches? Yes, in China, Vietnam, and other countries where Christians are persecuted. In America? I dare you to find a church that even moderately exhibits EVANGELISM / DISCIPLESHIP / TRUTH / LOVE / ZEAL. Conventional American churches, with their facilities and paid pastoral staff, are completely broken.

So start a house church. If you can find one already in existence that has not been corrupted by heresies . . . what a blessing that would be! And let me know about it. There aren’t many in America. At any rate, read the New Testament with a mind to learn how to grow and how to relate to other believers. Read about the history of little, independent, Bible believing churches of the last 2,000 years. Review the ‘church’ articles on this site. Do some research and get moving!

– drdave@truthreallymatters.com

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7. IFB churches — clueless!
July 29, 2013

If you don’t even care what the problem is, you won’t find the solution. For example: Much of our pharmaceutical culture is based on the idea that it’s not worth the trouble to eat right and exercise. Just get some prescription drugs to manage your symptoms. Don’t worry about high blood pressure, heart disease, lung cancer, etc.; grab some pills and have all the cheeseburgers, chips, booze, and cigarettes that you want . . . eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow you die.

In this blog I focus on one group of churches in particular, the Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) churches, of which there are at least 10,000 in the U.S. alone. The best of these fundamentalist (fundie) churches are in better shape than almost all of the evangelical (gelly) churches, in that they use the right Bible (KJV), their music is spiritual rather than sensual, and their women tend to dress more modestly. In short, they are more conservative than gelly churches. I find it fascinating that the pundits of the most conservative wing of the gelly churches work hard to call out the liberalism and worldliness of the rest of the gellies, but pretend that the IFB churches don’t exist. Conservative gellies like Brannon Howse see themselves as the last bastion of righteousness for American churches . . . but really only for American gelly churches, because they don’t dare admit that there is a branch of Christendom more conservative than them!

IFB pundits like David Cloud (who is principally a church planting missionary in Nepal) are positioned to call out the corruption in everyone to their ‘left’, both fundie and gelly. In Cloud’s “FBIS Friday Church News Notes,” July 19, 2013, he cites a letter from a fundie who is distressed at the state of his church, presumably somewhere in America. Cloud offers solutions to the problems listed by the writer, hoping to be an encouragement to IFB churches everywhere. From my own experience I can assert that the state of this particular church is representative, at least in a significant part, of 100% of American IFB churches. Yes, 100%. Not necessarily in all of the symptoms – yet – but certainly in the core problems.

I’ll either quote or paraphrase in italics the supposed problems identified by the writer and the supposed solutions offered by Cloud.

“Our pastor is a true man of God.” This is offered as a virtue, but identifies a core problem. A one-man pastor ruling a church opposes the Biblical principle of a collaborating group of elders – elders from within the local area church, not one man interviewed and hired in (a hireling) from the outside, typically after a seminary degree (unscriptural institution with Roman Catholic roots) and an apprenticeship elsewhere as an Assistant Pastor (unscriptural position). Furthermore, he is called “a true man of God.” Apparently, no other adult men in this church warrant this title, which is clearly reserved for ‘clergy’, an anti-Biblical distinction among believers, who are brothers and sisters – peers.

“He has been preaching strong from the pulpit on worldly living, such as music and dress, but it doesn’t appear to be penetrating the people’s lives.” The center of IFB church life is pulpit preaching, contrary to the New Testament pattern. Pulpit lectures are disastrous substitutes for proper training and discipleship. In such a culture, learning is minimal and never validated. Does the lecturer give quizzes? A fundie may hear as many as 10,000 pulpit sermons in a lifetime, without anyone ever testing his Bible knowledge or making him accountable to apply what he has learned in real life . . . as engineering or medical students must, for example. Thus it is no mystery why “it doesn’t appear to be penetrating the people’s lives.” Now, teaching the believer to draw lines on music and dress is quite appropriate. But IFB preachers tend to beat those subjects to death, rather than to teach the whole of Biblical truth in balance. Yes, teach against worldliness. But if people refuse, do something about it! Don’t just repeat the message ad nauseam.

“Only one or two show up for soul winning. Even the youth pastor and teachers and deacons don’t participate.” One or two?!? Isn’t the pastor married? Isn’t the writer married? That could make at least four . . . this church is deader than a doornail. The writer mentions this as if it’s ‘just a problem’. This isn’t just a problem – it is DEATH. Why does this church exist? Why do they meet together? How can they delude themselves into thinking that there is any spiritual growth when the entire church body is antagonistic to the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ?

This guy just convinced me that at least 95% (probably more) of these church members are lost. Disobedient to the Great Commission? They obviously don’t love the Lord Jesus enough to obey Him and follow Him. And they don’t love the lost enough to warn them of judgment and Hell. Since they defy the two greatest commandments (love God, love others), thereby defiling the entire moral law, in what sense do they claim to be Christians at all?

“ . . . youth pastor . . .” Doesn’t anyone realize that there is no such thing, Biblically? And not even rationally, if they ignore the Bible (which they clearly do). A twenty-something man appointed to be a substitute parent for teenagers?!? Especially because he was a teenager not very long ago himself?!? I don’t really have to explain the folly of this, do I? In this case, like many others, the ‘youth pastor’ is not doing evangelism, and is therefore not teaching the teens to do it either. But they must be having a lot of fun in their youth activities! I’m sure the teens like him, and therefore the parents do, too. It’s too late to discipline or fire him now. The ‘youth pastor’ is probably much more likable than the old guy who rails against music and dress from the pulpit. What about those teachers and deacons? What are they qualified to teach if they defy the Bible themselves?

“The youth pastor does not preach separation from the world. Most if not all of the youth in the church are worldly and are being fed CCM and secular music at home. There is no dress code and it seems the clothes are getting worse and worse.” What a shock. Of course you cannot be a successful ‘youth pastor’ unless you’re part of the adolescents’ worldly culture. Worse, however . . . now I can guarantee that when the ‘Gospel’ is preached in this church it is void of repentance. When you preach to the lost in America, you must call them to repent from their worldly sins. This church embraces the world. There is no call to repentance. These lost church members are told something equivalent to ‘just believe that Jesus died for you’. They are allegedly saved by some lightweight intellectual assent to a few doctrinal facts. No brokenness, no conviction of sin, no abhorrence of worldly sins, no repentance, no heart-filled trust in the LORD, no new birth, no new creature, no change of life, no fire, no life!! The problem is that this church is filled with lost people!

“I am afraid if I let my children participate in the youth program that they will be influenced in a negative way.” Duh. The salvation and spiritual growth of your children are YOUR RESPONSIBILITY, dad! Don’t turn them over to a barely pubescent party organizer. You’ve been brainwashed, haven’t you? You simply ‘must’ participate in all the church’s programs! Even though 90% of fundie and gelly teens leave their church system as soon as they leave the nest and go for the world’s gusto with all the fleshly lust that is in their false-convert hearts. The other 10% simply become part of the DEATH system . . . it does need some saps and their money to keep going, after all.

“I feel like out of the entire church, there are only a very few people who understand or even care about the biblical position I am taking. I’m afraid that if the preacher pushes too hard, they will boot him out.” But you are not taking a Biblical position, which instructs you to separate from the world (your church) and to preach the Gospel to the lost (your church). You haven’t approached those around you in the pews as ‘lost’, have you? So on what basis can you expect them to respond to spiritual arguments? You do have a hint of it, though . . . “. . . very few people who understand or care about the biblical position . . .” 1 Cor 2:14. That’s the issue.

About the preacher pushing? Why doesn’t he? Cloud gets this right. He says that he’d rather have 20 who care than 200 who don’t. Wouldn’t any ‘preacher’?!!? Except for . . . the money. It takes 200 to fill up the offering plates and support the paid clergy. Cloud points out that God “will take care of those who honor Him and His Word.” Cloud brings this up because he knows that IFB pastors often want to ‘get tough’, but fear man . . . and man’s checkbook. Once again, we see that the real problem isn’t whether the ‘man of God’ preaches what he ought to, but the fact that paid hirelings work for those that write the paycheck. Hireling? Too harsh? Ask yourself. If a typical pastor decides to initiate church discipline on such matters as evangelism, immodest dress, music, etc., and he gets fired . . . does he remain part of the congregation as a ‘lay’ member, or does he float his resume, looking for interviews. Yes, hireling.

Cloud sympathizes with the writer, agreeing with the old principle, “everything rises and falls on leadership,” concluding that “much of the problem in the situation you described must fall at the pastor’s feet.” Yes, if you subscribe to the one-man-band model. Biblically, however, if leadership is distributed, and all adult men and women are growing and embracing their responsibilities, then the worldling who intrudes will be in a small minority. He will be challenged and discipled . . . or disciplined out of the fellowship, so that Biblical unity is preserved. Come on!! This is basic New Testament Christianity!!

Cloud goes on to explain the importance of the pastor and other workers to model “high standards,” enforce discipline, confront sin, etc. Sure, if they want to. The modern church model, embraced by both fundies and gellies, survives by establishing facilities, putting on weekly shows (music, preaching, activities, whatever), and inviting everyone in . . . sheep, goats, wheat, tares, pumpkins, spurge, whatever. You get quite an eclectic mix! The Biblical model is to win converts – followers of Christ – and love them, disciple them, pray with them, encourage them, and grow together in one mind – the mind of Christ. Yeah, idealistic, isn’t it? But you have at least a chance if you follow the Biblical pattern from the outset. If you violate God’s plan for His church at every step, there are no solutions to the problems for which you only see symptoms.

Some IFB churches don’t show all the symptoms of decay yet, including heresies consistently creeping in from Calvinists, Pentecostals, and the emergents. Cloud sees a dismal future for the fundies, but his solution is to ‘man up’ and get the ‘man of God’ to stand firm. So your line of defense in each church is just one man deep . . . one small, frail, corruptible man. God’s plan is better. Get all of the adults to grow, encourage each other, bear each other’s burdens, share responsibilities, and watch out for signs of the Adversary sneaking in. Cloud is right about the inevitable decay of the IFB movement. But the IFB SYSTEM guarantees decay. (The gellies are even worse shape, by the way . . . farther along on the path to the one-world church of the antichrist.)

The solution? Back to the Bible. If you believe that, break out and separate from broken non-churches and follow God’s brilliant New Testament plan. Check out the ‘church’ articles in the Discipleship section of this site, along with some previous blogs, for an introduction to some of the ideas.

– drdave@truthreallymatters.com

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8. How to save your children
August 5, 2013

Multitudes of American Christian parents raise their children to understand the Gospel, to profess Jesus Christ as their Savior, to abhor worldly sins, and to embrace a Biblical worldview. Then the kids go off to college or into the workplace and . . . about 90% of them . . . reject everything to embrace the world’s culture of fornication, drinking, money-grubbing, sensual entertainment, ambition, pride, self-centeredness, and/or, occasionally, phony religions. I’m talking about really born again Christian parents, not just churchgoers, who are losing their kids to Satan’s world system.

Of course, the problem is that these kids never were born again, despite whatever youthful protestations they may have made. The evidence is overwhelming – no repentance, no new birth, no new creature, no abhorrence of sin, no interest in God’s word, no interest in righteousness, and no agreement with God. Disagreeing with God on the essentials means no faith . . . no saving faith.

So how can you raise your children so that they truly repent and come into agreement with God, trusting the Lord Jesus Christ in everything, and so that they acquire eternal life, not a superficial ‘belief’ which vaporizes when they get their first apartment or when they take a philosophy course and get exposed to Kant, Hegel, Kierkegaard, or Marx . . . or McLaren, or Osteen, or Warren?

This is a big subject, right? In this blog I’ll focus on just one piece of the puzzle, one vital piece that is so woefully neglected. Here it is: you must teach your children to contend for the faith, specifically by teaching them to do 121 (one-to-one) evangelism. So you think that your children were saved at a young age? If so, then your job is to disciple them!! Discipling includes teaching them how to share the Gospel, doing the Great Commission. In the 40 days between the resurrection and the ascension of Christ, the New Testament records the Lord’s exhortation to GO on five different occasions. Sharing the Gospel was the number one topic on the Lord’s mind for His followers as He was leaving this Earth. He promised to send the Holy Spirit to them, which He did at Pentecost – with power – power to preach the Gospel boldly!

So teach your children, parents! Oh, but you don’t actually do any 121 yourself? So how could you teach your children? Repent, sluggard, and get with God’s program! If you love your children, you want them in Heaven and not in Hell, right? You must test their understanding of the Gospel by teaching them to articulate it . . . to the lost, who will contend with them. The young Christian doesn’t know what he knows until he can contend against opposition. During the process of contending, the youngster may actually come to understand and believe what he is preaching! Wicked are the parents that provoke a simple profession from a young child and rest in a false hope . . . “Whew, ok, well at least my little girl is saved now, whether or not she ever lives the Christian life.” Thus multitudes of false converts swell the ranks of Satan’s army.

As you train your child to contend with the lost – compassionately, logically, wisely, Biblically, and boldly – he will understand not only the Gospel, but the ridiculously bankrupt philosophies of the world system. By the time he is ten years old, he will have heard about every ridiculous excuse under the sun from atheists, post-modernists, Roman Catholics, Muslims, New Agers, etc. When he gets to college, he won’t be surprised or shocked to hear the same garbage coming from tenured professors. Tenured professors who are skilled in mocking, sneering, and constructing erudite and elegant rhetoric to dress up the same phony argument that he heard from a gang-banger ten years before.

Let’s review some of the world’s philosophies . . . stripping them naked, exposing them with blunt honesty. Imagine that we pick a representative ‘evangelist’ from each camp and give him a truth serum that forces him to explain his position in ordinary, blunt language. Here’s how it might go . . .

Atheists . . . “You should become an atheist because only morons believe in God. Look at all of the smart people who are atheists and think that Christians are idiots, like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Daniel Dennett . . . you mentioned creationists like Isaac Newton, Lord Kelvin, and Raymond Damadian? Well, the majority of the members of the National Science Foundation . . . no, I’m not just arguing that I’ve got better experts. Science establishes evolution and, therefore, atheism . . . ok, I admit that there is no scientific theory or any experimental evidence for how the first cell could have formed from primordial goo . . . yeah, there are no solid transitional fossils to connect microbes to invertebrates, or invertebrates to fish . . . or to reptiles or birds or mammals . . . well, we’re still looking for fossils that simply must be there! Now, if you have faith in evolution, we can all agree that there is no objective morality. Sexual freedom for everyone! And when you die, you go out of existence . . . ok, so there is no point to life . . . What do you mean that I don’t exist in my worldview? Sure, everything I say is just the result of brain chemistry because matter is everything and there is no soul, no spirit . . . ok, so what if ‘I’ don’t exist? But logic demands . . . ok, there is no LOGIC in a molecule, no LOVE, no JUSTICE, no HOPE, no REASON, no BEAUTY. You just have to face up to the pointlessness of existence. What? You’re still not convinced?”

Post Modernists . . . “There is no such thing as absolute truth. And there is no such thing as sin or evil. You have your truth and I have mine. No absolutes at all . . . Yes, I’m absolutely positive about that! Morality is my own choice or a culturally agreed upon norm. Tolerance is our creed. The only evil is intolerance. Am I tolerant of Christians? Absolutely not! Christians are exclusivists, believing only they are right, which makes them wrong . . . Of course I AM RIGHT about that! Why don’t I criticize Muslims like I criticize Christians? No, I’m not a coward! I just . . . haven’t . . . well . . . gotten around to that. Besides, the Muslim narrative is truth for them . . . You ask about jihad, terrorism? Well, we must have offended them somehow . . . Hitler and the Holocaust? Lots of malicious propaganda there. If everyone would just agree to get along and listen to each other’s stories! What? You’re still not convinced?”

Marxists . . . “The sweep of history is inevitable. Hegel laid it out – thesis, antithesis, synthesis. Man will only realize his potential when individual freedom disappears and everyone is part of a state system that controls everything! Won’t that be glorious? Well, sure, it hasn’t worked yet . . . yeah, in Russia, China, Vietnam, North Korea . . . but those guys never really committed to socialism . . . no, men and women are not corrupt. We can trust those who are the brightest and best to rule. After all, someone has got to be in charge . . . yeah, I would be a good judge of who qualifies – me, for example. What? You’re still not convinced?”

Muslims . . . “Simply confess that there is no god but Allah and that Mohammed is his prophet. And make a pilgrimage to Mecca at some point, and fast during Ramadan, and keep the law of Moses, etc., . . . well, sure, nobody keeps the law perfectly, but Allah is merciful . . . yes, I think I am self-righteous enough to enter into Paradise . . . besides, if you can afford it, you can have up to four wives! . . . No, I wouldn’t say that Islam is for men only. And if one of my wives objects, I can divorce her by declaring it three times! Besides, you had better convert soon. Once we have a majority and the sword in our hands . . . What? You’re still not convinced?”

Roman Catholics . . . “It is presumption to claim assurance for salvation, but you have some hope to be saved if you go to Mass faithfully, receive the sacraments, obey the Pope, cardinals, and priests, and avoid mortal sins. Then you should only have to spend a few thousand years in Purgatory. And recent good news! If you follow the Pope on Twitter, you will earn indulgences to reduce your time in Purgatory! Look, all you have to do is start attending Mass and you’re likely to get a really strange mystical experience . . . yeah, all the robes, incantations, incense, etc., it’s really spiritual. And just embrace the core of our Catholic experience: swallowing the wafer that is actually the body of Jesus Christ. Yes, it really is Him, once an ordained priest says the magic words that pull Jesus out of Heaven and insert Him into every wafer. But when you pray, make sure you pray to Mary because she is more compassionate than her Son, and she is your Redeemer, too. What? You’re still not convinced?”

Mormons . . . “If you strive hard you can become a god over your own planet and your wife can pump out spirit babies to populate that planet with beings who will worship you. After all, the Father God who rules over Earth was once a man like you on the planet Kolob . . . Wait! Stay a bit longer so I can convince you!”

Pentecostals, Emergents, New Agers, New Apostolic Reformationists . . . “The ‘full gospel’ means that you can be healed just by having sufficient faith. It’s ‘faith’ that counts, regardless of your actual concept of who God is . . . yes, I know that Pentecostal preachers get sick, grow old, and die, too. That’s beside the point. Don’t you realize that God’s anointed preachers today (especially the televangelists!) are receiving new revelations and new prophecies? Sure, they’re not always right, but nobody’s perfect, right? In fact, if you have faith you can be a little god yourself, claiming God’s promises to manipulate your reality. And bring unity to the entire world. We can establish the Millennium of peace, harmony, love, and the age of Aquarius if we concentrate really hard and meditate . . . come on, now, empty your mind . . . Ooommm . . . Hey! Why are you laughing?”

Calvinists . . . “Don’t worry. You’re either elect or you’re toast. If you’re elect, God will zap you with irresistible grace and convert you. If not, then it is ordained from before the foundation of the world that you are condemned to Hell for eternity without recourse . . . and that’s for the glory of God! And don’t worry about what’s going on around the world or even what Satan is doing. EVERYTHING that ever happens, every thought, sneeze, butterfly wing flap, act of charity, or murder, rape, or Holocaust is an ordained part of God’s sovereign plan . . . all for His glory! What do you mean, ‘That’s not Christianity!’ TULIP IS THE GOSPEL! What? You’re not convinced? You must not be elect!”

Nominal church goers . . . “Yeah, I’m a Christian, too. I go to church on Sunday. Just don’t get so worked up about it. Only guys like Hitler go to Hell. God wouldn’t send to Hell someone like me or my mega-church pastor or those hot babes on the worship team. What’s important is living life now. Hey, my favorite TV preacher says that I should have my best life now. So grab the gusto now and go to Heaven in the end anyway. Yeah, Christianity is a good deal.”

Now, we’ve just sampled a bit of the flotsam that represents the best of the world’s philosophies. Your kids have nothing to worry about if they simply understand the truth of the Bible, the love of God, the nature of man (who willfully rebels against God and despises his neighbor), the absoluteness of righteousness and unrighteousness, the certainty of justice (judgment and Hell for the determined rebels), the promise of the Savior and His offer of salvation and adoption, and the New Heaven and the New Earth to come. In comparison, the bankruptcy of Satan-inspired philosophies is easy to discern.

All non-Biblical worldviews are internally inconsistent. They don’t make sense even one level deep. And nobody can consistently or honestly live by any of them. Only the born again Christian, as he chooses to follow the Lord Jesus Christ by Biblical instruction and the leading of the Holy Spirit, has a chance to live a rational life.

Why don’t atheistic feminists fight against Islam? After all, Islam enslaves half a billion women. Answer: Feminists and Muslims are on the same team. Why don’t New Age environmentalists, who fight to save the whales, give a flip about saving unborn babies? Why do atheists insult Christians and not Hindus or Muslims or, usually, Roman Catholics. Same team. Similarly, because Biblical inerrancy is a TRUTH issue, note that advocates of modern Bible versions don’t attack each other’s versions. They all gang up on the KJV and its foundation stones – the Hebrew Masoretic text and the Received Greek Text. That gang is fighting for the wrong team. Bottom line: If you’re not Biblical, you’re not rational.

Children that ‘fall away’ when they leave home never did understand either the truth or the lies that lead them astray. They don’t know the Bible and they are not indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who can warn them against error and destruction.

Dad, Mom – it’s your job to disciple your children. Take them with you. Knock on some doors. Stand on a corner and chat with lost people as they walk by. Hand out tracts. Ask the lost what they believe and why they believe it. You’ll be amazed. The Ph.D. scientist is as clueless as the gang-banger. In fact, the latter is usually more honest about who he is and where he is headed.

I know what your problem is, parents. You don’t want to do 121 evangelism yourself. Of course you don’t! But if you choose to love God (to obey Him) and love others enough to offer them both a warning and the Good News, then you have a chance to save your children.

– drdave@truthreallymatters.com

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9. Problem with TULIPS? Try SPURGE.
August 22, 2013

TULIP is a convenient memory aid to summarize Calvinist doctrine, an anti-Gospel system that is growing pervasively in evangelicalism. In this blog I won’t make a detailed effort to refute Calvinism. Despite hundreds of years of nasty debates on the subject, I contend that a simple reading of the Bible will keep you from such error. For more depth, I refer you to my “Tract for the Committed Calvinist” and Section #3 of my article, “The 10 Most Deadly Heresies.” My intent here is to introduce a replacement mnemonic for TULIP, one which summarizes Biblical doctrine on the ultimately key issue of man’s salvation . . . SPURGE. (With thanks to my son, Josh, who worked with me to develop the term.)

To review, let’s begin with a blunt summary in summarizing TULIPS. (Yes, we must add an “S” to account for the overarching blasphemy (yes, it’s that bad) of the Calvinist’s view of God’s sovereignty.)

T . . . Total Depravity does not simply mean that men and women are really bad sinners. Calvinists teach that everyone is so depraved . . . from conception . . . that we are unable to repent and believe. That we cannot even choose to do good. That we cannot choose to repent. That we cannot choose to believe in Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith therefore must come only as irresistible gifts from God.

U . . . Unconditional Election is the Calvinist idea that only an elect few are chosen / ordained from before the creation of the world to be saved. That God’s rationale for who is elect and who is damned is a mystery beyond our ken. A reasonable estimate for today’s world, and perhaps for any historical period, is that 2 percent or less of the world’s population are actual born again followers of Jesus Christ. Thus 98% are not. So election is God’s plan to arbitrarily save 2% and condemn 98% to Hell . . . with no recourse whatsoever. Many Calvinists insist that man has responsibility anyway, despite election, but given the concepts of Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, and Irresistible Grace, it is clear that the non-elect are sunk without a trace. You can say that they are responsible to repent and believe, but any rational person sees the vacancy of such a claim.

L . . . Limited Atonement follows from unconditional election in that Christ’s blood sacrifice must not have been wasted on the non-elect. Thus His atonement was limited in scope . . . only the elect were in view from the cross. Given T and U, L simply adds to the Calvinist’s condemnation. It doesn’t add anything new.

I . . . Irresistible Grace is essential to zap the totally depraved elect fellow so that now he repents and believes. Since he is unable to respond to the Gospel otherwise, only God can make him responsive, and He supposedly only does this to the elect few. Everyone else . . . tough luck.

P . . . Perseverance of the Saints reflects the outward evidence of a regenerated life. The genuine elect, once zapped, will live right – persevere – henceforth and forevermore. A practical problem arises in that some Calvinists . . . even very famous ones . . . have occasionally doubted their election because of sins in their lives. Of course, if the Calvinist concludes that he was never actually regenerated, and that he might have been fooling himself for many years, he has no recourse. He cannot choose to repent, after all. If he’s a false convert, tough luck. Thus, some Calvinists, like some ‘holiness’ Pentecostals or Nazarenes, tend to be less than honest when they examine their daily walk. After all, if you refuse to admit that you fall short of God’s standard of holiness on a daily basis, then you must be persevering!

S . . . Sovereignty in the Calvinist view is the horrific idea that EVERYTHING . . . every movement of every electron and quark in the universe, every thought, every word, every action, every kindness, every foul curse, every rape, every murder, every child molestation, indeed every everything under the sun throughout history is the perfectly planned will of God from before creation. Whoa! And you thought that you were making choices all along, didn’t you? In fact, you thought that God was serious in the Bible when He commanded people to choose righteousness, repent from evil, follow the Savior, etc. . . . as if they could actually choose to do such things! Just one little verse here: Psalm 145:17 . . . “The Lord is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.” All His works. No, it’s not a mystery when you claim that all the evil is part of God’s sovereign will. It’s blasphemy. Evil is our choice. Duh.

So let’s uproot all those TULIPS and replace them with something stronger. Especially if you have ingested TULIP doctrine, you may need a strong purgative (look it up) to get it out of your system. Ironically, some species of SPURGE, a quite prolific fast-growing plant, contain sap that acts as a purgative. Spiritually speaking, though, let’s replace the six corrupt ideas of TULIPS with properly Biblical doctrines.

S . . . Security of the Saints . . . True believers, those who have chosen to repent and trust Christ, are born again into the family of God. You can’t get kicked out of the family. If you slide, you may well get chastised – spanked – but you have . . . present tense . . . ETERNAL LIFE, which lasts for eternity!

P . . . Prerequisite Election . . . Anyone can be chosen or elected by God to become sons of God, fellow-heirs with Christ, blessed with all spiritual blessings. The prerequisite is that anyone must humble himself, repent from the specific willful sins in his life (not some ethereal, allegedly inherited depraved sin nature), and trust Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. The prerequisite is simple and within reach of all men. Indeed, Jesus Himself said, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die.”

U . . . Unlimited Atonement is so clearly Biblical, it must take a pernicious mind to deny it. “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2) “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:6

R . . . Resistable Grace . . . Obvious, isn’t it? Grace is no grace, no gift, unless the gift can be refused. From Genesis to Revelation we see God, His prophets, His apostles, His evangelists, and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself pleading with men and weeping over the willful hardness of their hearts. As we should, too. Although there are notable exceptions, Calvinist doctrine tends to freeze the concern of believers for the lost around them. Why bother with uncomfortable confrontations with the lost, telling them about sin, judgment, Hell, etc., when it is impossible to change the fate – elect vs. non-elect – of anyone on planet Earth? But we can make a difference! See Ezekiel 3:17-19 and 18:30-32, for examples.

G . . . Governmental Sovereignty . . . The United States of America is a sovereign nation, with the power to tax me, regulate me, and bring judgment against me if I violate the laws of the land. In a much larger, but analogous sense, God is indeed sovereign over His creation. Whether I obey or disobey American laws does not determine the nation’s sovereignty. Also for God’s laws. God lets me choose. He wants me to choose life. To choose to love Him. To choose to agree with Him and walk with Him. Yet He is sovereign, ready to deal with me, according to how I choose.

E . . . Elective Depravity . . . Don’t blame God’s sovereign plan for your wickedness. If I am depraved it is because of the sinful wickedness in my heart, in what comes out of my mouth, and in how I behave. I can elect righteousness or unrighteousness (depravity) moment by moment. When I was lost I could choose to elect repentance and faith. Those around us that persist in rejecting the Gospel are electing depravity . . . and electing a final judgment and separation from God and from all that is right and loving in the creation.

So there you have it . . . SPURGE! I have not written this blog for the committed Calvinist. It typically takes many years for him to get accustomed to the warped thinking of TULIPS, but once he does, he’s in pretty bad shape. I’ve written this for those who have been exposed to TULIPS, but have yet avoided its corruption. I encourage you: Plant some SPURGE. Use it with those who have been sucked into the TULIPS trap. And every time you read your Bible, be sensitive to how often the doctrines of SPURGE pop up. It’s everywhere, just like its plant namesake.

– drdave@truthreallymatters.com

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10. No need to separate
September 1, 2013

Something has changed dramatically in the last generation. I remember when warnings were frequently given, especially to new Christians, to separate from worldly associations. The Scriptural principles are clear, as expressed in the following:

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 1 John 2:15

Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. James 4:4

Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; 2 Corinthians 6:17

The proper applications were usually made, for example: Don’t go drinking with your buddies anymore. Do share the Gospel with them, but don’t destroy your testimony by engaging in the same sins that you repented from.

Believers were also warned to avoid fellowship with other Christians who hold to false doctrines. Quite appropriately, as Paul wrote:

Now I beseech you brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. Romans 16:17-18

Therefore, we were admonished to avoid churches or prayer meetings or Bible studies led by Catholics, Pentecostals, Church of Christ, etc.

Exhortations to separate were also applied to Bible versions, pop music, and dress standards (short hair on men, skirts below the knees for women).

Now, I’m not going to analyze this smorgasbord in detail. What I want to point out is that there is no longer any need to warn the serious follower of Jesus Christ about separating from the world, or from false doctrines, or from loose-living professing Christians. Here’s why . . . all a Christian has to do today is simply act and speak according to his convictions, and the world will take quick offense and separate from him!

I could cite many examples from personal experience, but one stands out. Many years ago I had a very good friend and professional colleague, whom I respected greatly. During the Cold War, he took a few years off from his engineering career to smuggle Bibles behind the Iron Curtain, risking his life on numerous occasions. In the years after I got to know him, he got involved in distributing Gideon Bibles, and enlisting support from churches across many denominations. He learned to ‘get along’ with professing Christians of all flavors, developing friendships across quite dramatic doctrinal divides.

In more recent years, he reacted to some correspondence between us, taking offense that I expressed strong convictions about some fairly basic truths – inerrancy, baptism by immersion for believers (not infants), and eternal security . . . which is simply present possession of eternal life. He was particularly incensed that I believed that those that took conflicting positions were WRONG, and that one could KNOW how to interpret the Bible on such fundamental matters. Somehow my formerly fervent friend, who had put his life on the line for the propagation of the Gospel, was afflicted by an ecumenical, post-modern spirit. I was willing to disagree and discuss such matters with him, but he broke our relationship, preferring to take offense . . . Taking offense, by the way, has apparently become the most popular American pastime now, both within Christendom and without. And despite my friend’s broadminded ecumenical tolerance, he couldn’t stand an association with someone who expressed certainty on Biblical doctrines.

A couple of years ago I explored the possibility of teaming up with one of the creationist organizations . . . oh, Ok, I’ll name it . . . Creation Ministries International, which publishes Creation magazine and The Journal of Creation. Now, I love these guys, and even agreed to be interviewed by them – after the event described below. (See what a friendly bloke I am?)

I thought that I might be useful to them as a speaker within my geographical region, since I have studied the subject, published in it, and spoken publicly on creation / evolution on many occasions. At first, CMI was very much interested, but ultimately declined over the versions issue. I wasn’t trying to change their position. Rather, I told them that when I spoke, my conviction was that I would use the KJV when quoting Scripture. CMI claims to take a neutral stance on versions, and even uses the KJV on occasion when speaking in a KVJ-only church. (You would be hard-pressed to find KJV-only churches apart from Independent Fundamental Baptist churches, which typically avoid evangelical organizations like CMI. Are there any at all in evangelicalism?)

However, from their written policy, it is clear that they support a critical-text position, and thus the modern versions, like ESV, NASV, and even NIV. And unless I spoke in a KJV-only church, they would insist that I use a modern version. In evangelical churches, the only version they explicitly despise is the KJV, using the archaic excuse of the KJV’s allegedly too-hard-to-understand language. Apparently they don’t despise the dynamic equivalence of the modern versions, or the open apostasy of many of the modern translation committees.

It would have been an interesting experiment if I could repeat the process and insist that by conviction I would use only the ESV. I am sure that would have been no problem. Bottom line: they separated from me because I use the Received Text-based KJV. I note that over the last several decades, the anti-KJV crowd has loudly accused us of being divisive! Funny. I was willing to work with those guys, but they ran screaming from the room . . . so to speak. Also, in the same time frame I was invited to team up with an Answers in Genesis team. That invitation evaporated mysteriously when I mentioned which Bible I loved. And I love those guys, too!

At a more basic level, I have observed on many occasions that when a new Christian speaks up about his faith, he loses his friends and alienates his relatives. A generation ago, the ‘old crowd’ might well try to entice the new believer into his old habits. But this generation loves to get offended, and the fellow who is most offensive is the Bible-believing Christian who acts like he means it. So don’t worry about your bar buddies corrupting you. Just share the Gospel with them, using words like sin, judgment, Hell, repent, born again, etc. They will run screaming from the room!

Some of the best 1-2-1 witnessing encounters I’ve had were a generation ago, when I would run into a serious Roman Catholic, who believed that salvation was only in the RCC. Or a serious Campbellite (Church of Christ), who believed that you aren’t saved until you are dunked in a C of C baptistry. Or a serious Pentecostal or Lutheran, who believed that you had to live righteously enough or you would lose your salvation. It was a pleasure to discuss, debate, and even argue such matters with people who actually believed something! As opposed to this post-modern crowd in the evangelical churches, who believe that there are a thousand roads to find God. Or, alternatively, a thousand versions of God and we’re all on the same road. Oh for the good old days when modernism reigned!

Regarding evangelism, the mantra for most gelly and fundy churches is, “Live the life!” And when those around you see what a wonderful, happy Christian fellow you are, they will supposedly be attracted to Jesus. In other words, ‘relationship evangelism.’ If you’re part of the seeker-sensitive or emergent movement, this approach can work . . . to bring people into your weekly mega-church show. But the Bible knows nothing of this. The Lord Jesus, along with his apostles and prophets, preached repentance and the new birth. The Gospel gives offense because the Good News only makes sense when a lost sinner recognizes his willfully wicked, hopelessly lost condition. The sinner’s necessary confrontation with God’s truth has nothing to do with how happy-go-lucky I am when I cross his path. In fact, you simply CANNOT deliver the message of Heaven vs. Hell, eyeball-to-eyeball, and expect a lost fellow to see you as a bubbly kind of guy.

If you or I truly “Live the life!” as the Lord Jesus lived it, we will find a cross on our path, and many lost sinners . . . and professing Christians . . . will flee from us, offended at our narrow-minded attitudes. Read the Bible. You’ll see what I’m talking about.

One problem now is that too many people won’t even discuss issues. On occasion when I’m on the street offering tracts, a middle-aged or senior churchgoer has stomped back and thrust the tract back in my face, angrily accusing me of being one of those evil fundamentalists . . . because the tract offered a simple Gospel message. They don’t even want to linger a bit to help straighten me out! They do love being offended and expressing it.

More horrifying is your typical secular twenty- or thirty-something college graduate, proud of his intellect, who sneers as he passes by. While still an unshaven youth, he found a way to reject Biblical truth, along with logic, reason, and civility, before he actually learned anything at all. He can’t give a single coherent reason for his rejection of the Bible, but he is absolutely and adamantly committed to his skepticism . . . even if he is a post-modernist. Such are the fruits of public education, Hollywood, and our narcissistic culture.

My favorite 121 is with the serious atheist, especially if he is in his 1st or 2nd year of college – before his brain turns into concrete. There are still many of them around! At least they believe something, no matter how silly or indefensible, and are often willing to discuss it. The evolutionary pantheist, though . . . that’s just painful, but I always give it a shot.

One thing that surprised me over the last few years . . . I tried to befriend several people and even several pastors in conservative gelly and fundy churches in the Rockford area. I explained how the New Testament pattern for the local area church (see my Local Church essay) clearly included some degree of fellowship among Christians that didn’t meet regularly under the same roof. Everyone agreed with this principle enthusiastically. And I seemed to hit it off with a number of these guys! But in the end, they all refused to engage in fellowship – even on a very infrequent basis – because I wasn’t part of their church! In one case, it was evident that a pastor was afraid that somehow I might steal some of his members if they got to know me. So even though we agreed on many important issues, he thought it best to isolate – separate – himself and his people from my family and those in our house church.

So what to do? It’s not complicated. Speak up. Share the Gospel. Share your convictions. Do so graciously and fervently. When some get offended and separate from you, count it a blessing how much time you just saved! You might have invested months in a gradual, get-to-know-you relationship, only to see it break over something simple . . . that you might as well have brought up at the beginning. Trust me. I’ve tried the gradual approach and wasted sizable chunks of my life. Emulate the Biblical pattern, lived so forthrightly by the prophets, apostles, and the Lord Jesus Himself:

Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgressions, and the house of Jacob their sins. Isaiah 58:1.

That works for Gentiles, too, of course.

drdave@truthreallymatters.com

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11. Evangelical churches — clueless!
September 15, 2013

It’s sad enough when the ‘conservative’ evangelical (gelly) churches don’t get it. But it’s particularly distressing when the critics don’t get it. A medical doctor may be wise enough to identify cancer as the root cause of someone’s misery. But if his proposed cure is aspirin twice per day, the patient needs to find better advice.

One of my favorite gelly critics is Ken Ham, who leads Answers in Genesis, a wonderfully prolific publisher of creationist literature. In Answers Magazine, April – June 2013, his essay “Does God Hear” suggests that misplaced priorities in multitudes of typical gelly churches provoke God to turn a deaf ear to prayers seeking His blessing. Here is a short summary of a typical experience he has had when invited to speak on a Sunday morning:

– The ‘praise and worship’ time takes 30-45 minutes, and Ken is pressured to compress his desired 50-minute presentation. The pastor explains that the ‘worship team’ has priority in the morning service.
– The ‘band’ is loud and the lyrics are often unintelligible.
– Many songs are sung again and again.
– By the time Ken gets to speak, the audience is tired and distracted.

Ken begins his critique with the disclaimer that he loves music. (Who doesn’t?) He states that discussing music can provoke emotional responses. He insists that although music styles and content are important, he doesn’t want to address those issues. He just wants to focus on the relative priorities of music and teaching within the morning service.

Chicken. I can tell already that he is distressed about the insipid content of CCM (Contemporary Christian Music). And he says enough about style to indicate that he has issues with the pop / rock / rap performances that masquerade as ‘worship’ experiences. But he doesn’t want to go there in this article . . . or any article ever. As long as he gets enough time to speak, it’s all good.

Appropriately, he wants enough time to lay out the case for Biblical creation, and to respond to questions that young people have. When he gets the time, he reports stimulating interactions with teens who are desperately seeking answers about the evolutionary indoctrination they suffer in the school and the culture. Not good enough. Even if he answers all of their questions, they remain mired in the gelly system, which is mired in the world, without even a warning that their music is destructive: (1) the style is worldly, which feeds an addiction for secular pop / rock / rap; and (2) the content is insipid at best and often heretical at worst. If you’re interested in exploring the Biblical case against CCM, I encourage you to read the outstanding resources on this subject at wayoflife.org.

A few years ago I was invited to speak at the morning teen service at a local mega-church on the subject of creation / evolution. There were about 240 young people filling an auditorium especially designed for stage performances. The band (‘worship team’) was energized throughout its high decibel performance. They went on for 45 minutes, ostensibly leaving me about 30 to speak. I had asked for 60 and been assured that I would have it. I spoke for 45 minutes, knowing that I was stretching the patience of the leaders. I reviewed the creationist case for the complexity of life, the fossil record, the age of the earth, etc., and delivered as many slam-dunk nuggets as I could to point out that all of the evidence overwhelmingly supports Biblical creation and that evolution is no more than an unsupported fantasy designed to justify rebellion against God. (See the many articles on this site for more info.)

I packed as much content into my talk as I could, and got quite a favorable response. However, I sensed that I irritated many listeners by addressing two subjects in particular. The first was Biblical inerrancy, namely that if you really believe in inerrancy, that means that you can put an inerrant Bible into your own hands . . . today . . . right now! I pointed this out to an elder in a conservative gelly church recently and he didn’t understand what I meant. The classic gelly position is that the original autographs were inerrant and that God preserved His word since then . . . well, for the most part, but not completely . . . although scholars are still struggling with which texts are best . . . yeah, errors have crept in, but not too many, hopefully . . . and even though we don’t know whether some passages were in the originals, that doesn’t affect doctrine, because other passages cover the same ground, kind of . . . WHAT A MESS!!!

All gelly churches and many of the fundy churches are in this leaky boat. That’s why they use modern versions, which are based on the so-called ‘critical text’ – a small group of mutually conflicting, corrupt Greek manuscripts compiled by unbelieving scholars who do not believe in inerrancy even in the original autographs. Note that if only the originals were perfect, then no one has EVER had an inerrant Bible. The Biblical text was delivered, from Genesis to Revelation, over a period of about 4000 years. By the time the New Testament was completed, there were only copies of copies of copies . . . by the principles of modern scholarship, textual corruption occurs continually, and it’s essentially impossible to reconstruct the original texts with precision. But they will keep trying, of course . . . on salary. The result is literally thousands of substantive differences between the modern versions and the KJV / Received Text. Hey . . . this is a big subject. See Section #8 of my “10 Heresies” article for more discussion and a list of references.

The point here is that gellies have no foundation on which to stand. I do. I believe that God preserved His word inerrantly throughout history via the Hebrew Masoretic text and the Greek Received Text, which have been translated with precision into English in the KJV. I believe this based on Biblical assurances on the preservation and purity of God’s word and based on the history of the Bible and its churches over the last 2,000 years. Thus I can put an inerrant Bible into my own hands when I pick up my KJV. If you use a modern version, you can’t, by the admission of your own scholars! By the way, if the unbelieving scholars are right, then nobody can and the Bible becomes a merely human book. Let’s eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.

Ironically, Ken Ham and the other notable creation ministries make a big fuss about the importance of the Bible as a rock solid foundation for all truth, particularly Genesis 1-11 . . . the history of creation, the flood, and the dispersion of nations. Yet they, too, stand on the ever-shifting critical text, which fosters more and more corrupt versions in English. And the youth don’t even realize that a textual controversy exists, or that their pastor’s stand on inerrancy in the autographs is worthless . . . he cannot find an inerrant Bible to actually read!

The second irritant in my talk was my plea at the end for repentance and faith in Christ. I made a challenge that the audience was filled with lost young people who needed to be born again. Of course I assumed that out of 240 teens wallowing in a rock and roll culture, that many would be lost. I could tell that my assumption was offensive.

Here is where Ken Ham and many others are clueless in their critique of gelly churches. They won’t give the Gospel clearly because they dare not preach repentance boldly. For the lost teen to be born again, he must repent from sins in his life, including his ungodly music. I guarantee that if he is immersed in CCM, he is also addicted to secular pop / rock / rap, which glorifies lust, fornication, drunkenness, drugs, and selfishness . . . To be saved, he must agree with God that he cannot love the Devil’s world and love the Lord at the same time. Repentance means that he will have to clean up his language, because he agrees with God that foul communication is sin. He will have to keep his hands off of the girls because he agrees with God that sex is reserved for marriage.

In short, many creationist speakers work hard to destroy evolutionary philosophy and uphold Genesis, but they do so without calling on false converts in the gelly churches to choose righteousness and follow the Lord Jesus in every area of their lives . . . not merely to stand on a critical-text version of Genesis. Yes, some do get saved in the midst of this mess. Occasionally a battle is won. Thank God. But the Great White Throne Judgment will be horrific in its exposure of multitudes of lost evangelicals who were never warned to repent.

Why don’t gelly speakers preach the hard things? If they believe the hard things, then it must be because they fear that invitations will evaporate and the ‘ministry’ will have less appeal. Clueless. How can ‘ministry’ have any impact without the power of the Holy Spirit? And how can you expect the Holy Spirit to empower when you compromise?

Over the last several years, my wife and I have done many field trips to gelly churches. It’s clear that they are clueless regarding the purpose of music. When Christians sing spiritual songs, what is the point? Think of any powerful hymn that has been tested and validated by Christians over the course of many years . . . “How Great Thou Art”, for example. The words are built on a Scriptural foundation and designed to engage the mind. The lyrical poetry and the majestic melody and harmonies are designed to fill up the heart and transport the content-rich message to the soul and spirit. The result should be an internal, overflowing well-spring of cognitive awe and love of the Lord.

Ken has noticed what we have noticed on many occasions. During a ‘worship service’, many people don’t sing. Many that do sing, do so with little enthusiasm, particulary the young people. It’s so tragically ironic: Church music has been revolutionized for the sake of appealing to the young. And the young are bored to death. Of course. Even when you work hard at CCM, you can’t compete with the world’s pop / rock / rap.

I’ve noticed also that two or three new songs are invariably introduced at each service. Only the worship team knows the melody, so it’s impossible for the congregation to sing fervently. You’ve got to know a song to anticipate the lyrics and melody and thereby immerse yourself in the point of spiritual singing. Why must there be new songs EVERY Sunday? Well, there is pressure on the worship team to keep innovating, to bring a new show every time. They have to motivate their performing singers with new material, too. The congregation muddles through. Why new songs every Sunday? You don’t want everyone to get bored! Too late. I note that I could live many more years and never get bored with the rich hymns that have been tried and tested. Anything wrong with writing new hymns? Of course not. But hardly anyone is trying to write good stuff anymore!

I contend that this isn’t merely about generational preferences. Just watch the crowd. It’s not working! Just recently, at a large gelly church, I experienced the same pattern . . . until the very end of the service. To close the meeting, the pastor put up on screen a classic old hymn, rich in content and majestic in presentation. Just one verse, sadly. But everyone sang, and sang with feeling.

It’s amazing. All large churches now employ musically degreed pastoral staff – specialists in designing and conducting music-centered worship experiences! Fire them all.

Ken Ham’s solution to this mess is interesting: “I submit that the pastor, more than ever, needs to equip his people with biblical truths so that they can function as true Christ followers (2 Timothy 3:16-17).” So weak. Discipleship is not about one man doing a better job in his weekly lecture. For the ‘man of God’ or ‘woman of God’ to be equipped, she must be a student of Scripture herself. The elders of a church (not the one-man-pastor) are responsible to encourage their fellow believers to learn to grow. Not to just sit passively during a weekly lecture. So Ken wants more ‘preaching time’ at the expense of ‘worship time’. Big deal. So you enhance one part of the show and diminish the other. It’s still a show. See my articles on Discipleship to get my views on the Biblical patterns, which are entirely different from the conventional weekly church program.

If you know people in the gelly system, challenge them. Hopefully, you’re on track yourself, investing hours in your week to the study of God’s word, singing and praying fervently, loving your spouse and training your children to follow the Lord, and sharing the Gospel boldly, 121, eyeball-to-eyeball, making repentance explicit. It’s frustrating, I know, to see genuine Christians addicted to the weekly gelly or fundy show, not growing, not interested in substantive Christian fellowship, and not giving a flip whether the lost around them wind up in Hell. But you and I . . . we can do right today and tomorrow, and find someone to encourage. Don’t give up.

drdave@truthreallymatters.com

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12. A. W. Tozer on God’s part vs. man’s part
October 1, 2013

One of the most popular Christian authors of the 20th century was A. W. Tozer, 1897-1963. His work included 31 years as pastor at Southside Alliance Church in Chicago, but he is mostly known for several of his 40-plus books. While yet a youg man, he wrote a marvelous little book in 1911 entitled, “Paths to Power – Living in the Spirit’s Fullness.” (Tozer clearly updated this book in the decades to follow, as evidenced by the more modern historical references in the uncopyrighted edition I have.) Although I have had a copy in my library for many years, I picked it up for the first time recently when I awoke at about 2 am and couldn’t get back to sleep. I noticed the title of the 2nd chapter immediately, “God’s Part and Man’s”, a topic that speaks to the heart of almost every controversy within Christendom today, including Calvinism, Word of Faith, the emergent movement, and methods of evangelism and discipleship.

So, for my edification (and hopefully yours, too), you can read this short chapter below (in italics), interspersed with my own comments. If you don’t like my thoughts, just read the italics! That’s ok with me. Ideally, if you have the inclination (everybody has the time to do what they want to do!), read Tozer first, then go back and read him along with my comments. Then decide what you disagree with and drop me a line. If I’m on the wrong path, you should have enough Christian compassion to straighten me out!! By the way, I won’t do all of your homework for you, namely, I won’t list a bunch of proof texts for every point that I or A. W. make. Each side of any controversy can list ‘proof texts’, but the wrong side has typically cheated with the context. For example, just to tease you, John 6:37a is a favorite proof text to support Unconditional Election. But the meaning is clearly given by several texts within the Gospel of John, including John 15:16 and 17:24, that Jesus is referring to the eleven, not to the universal ‘elect.’ All of Tozer’s points (and mine) are easily supported by the entire message from Genesis to Revelation. Read the prophets. Read how the Lord Jesus dealt with individuals. Read the book of Acts. The Bible is crystal about individual responsibility – free will – free choice – because we each are made in the image of God. But let’s get into Tozer . . .

Failure to distinguish the part of God from the part of man in salvation has prevented countless seekers from finding peace, and left whole sections of the Church of Christ powerless for long periods of time.

In the mid-19th Century, Charles Finney was used to provoke many conversions among Presbyterians and other Calvinists – having been converted in the midst of Calvinists – by pointing out that no one should wait for God to regenerate him. The individual must repent and trust Christ willfully. Thus today, Finney is still reviled by Calvinist leaders and speakers (MacArthur, Piper, Friel, Howse) for embarrassing the Reformed crowd of his day. Pastors, deacons, and multitudes of ‘faithful’ church members were getting saved once they understood that saving grace is conditional, not irresistible.

Separately, throughout Roman Catholicism and much of Protestantism, many religious lost (appropriately) fear for their souls, not knowing whether they have met God’s conditions for salvation, and not understanding the point of the Cross of Christ.

Let it be boldly stated that there are some things which only God can do, and for us to attempt to do them is to waste our efforts and there are other things which only man can do, and for us to ask God to do them is to waste our prayers. It is vain for us to try to do the work which can only be done by sovereign grace; it is equally vain for us to implore God to do what has been commanded by sovereign authority.

Tozer is clearly trying to reach out to the Calvinists in his community, by early use of the buzzword ‘sovereign’ – a word not found in the KJV. Now, I believe in God’s sovereignty, namely, His authority to rule and to render judgment. On a smaller scale, the United States has sovereignty over those who reside in America. The idea of governmental sovereignty is the foundation of the term’s meaning. Note that I may rebel against U.S. sovereignty and I may well face consequences. The government does not determine my actions, but does hold me accountable. Calvinists warp the meaning of God’s sovereignty to blasphemously claim that He determines every action, every thought, every crime and evil deed in history. I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes on Judgment Day. Yes, God is sovereign. Men and women simply choose whether to obey or to rebel.

Among the things which only God can do, of first importance to us is the work of redemption. Atonement was accomplished in that holy place where none but a divine Saviour could come. That glorious work owes nothing to the effort of any man; the best of Adam’s race could add nothing there. It was all of God, and man could simply have no part.

Redemption is an objective fact. It is a work potentially saving, wrought for man, but done independent of and exterior to the individual. Christ’s work on Calvary made atonement for every man, but it did not save any man.

Salvation is personal. It is redemption made effective toward the individual. Salvation is the work of God in the heart, made possible by the work of God on the Cross. Both the once-done work of redemption and the many-times-multiplied work of salvation are in the class of things which only God can do. No man can forgive his own sins; no man can regenerate his own heart; no man can declare himself justified and clean. All this is the work of God in man, flowing out of the work which Christ has already done for man. Universal atonement makes salvation universally available, but it does not make it universally effective toward the individual.

Wonderful exposition. God does His part, which includes regeneration, the new birth, the quickening of the spirit within the new believer. I agree! Calvinists agree, too, but would accuse me of claiming that I can regenerate myself. False accusation. God regenerates! But under what conditions?

If atonement was made for all men, why are not all saved? The answer is that before redemption becomes effective toward the individual man there is an act which that man must do. That act is not one of merit, but of condition. And it is an act of eternal importance to us because its non-fulfillment prevents us from receiving the effective work of Christ in personal salvation. This act of appropriating salvation is one which only man can do.

The orthodoxy of our day is afraid to face this truth. We have been schooled in the doctrine of grace, and we fear to state things so baldly lest we rob grace of its glory and detract from the finished work of Christ. But it is a mistake to speak softly on a subject so vital to the soul. We should get the distinction clear and then be as bold as the truth compels us to be. We need not fear that we shall steal away the glory of God by honoring the truth He Himself has revealed. Failure to distinguish God’s part from man’s has resulted in mental confusion and moral inaction among Christians. Assurance and power require that we know and do the truth as revealed to us in the Sacred Word.

Tozer mentions the ‘doctrine of grace’, which to a Calvinist means ‘irresistible grace’ given only to the ‘unconditionally elect.’ This heresy produces much confusion in evangelism, even if a Calvinist explains to a lost sinner that he must repent and believe in order to be saved. I recently discussed this issue with a local Calvinist pastor who admitted that there was nothing that he could do in making the difference for another soul. Whether he shared the Gospel or not with someone, that someone’s salvation depended on his election. If the preacher misses the opportunity, he will miss a blessing and a reward, but if the sinner is elect, God will certainly send another preacher his way. So why preach? He was motivated by duty, of course, and naturally cannot tell by looking whether any particular individual is elect or not.

I explained to him that I believed that my witness just could make the difference and contribute to someone’s salvation. If I neglected the opportunity, someone who might be saved could wind up lost. Therefore, my motivation is not merely duty, but also a passion akin to someone standing on a road in front of a collapsed bridge, waving and shouting to prevent motorists from falling to their destruction. If I don’t shout, they die for sure. If I walk away, I’ve got blood on my hands. (See Ezekiel 3:17-19.)

This pastor would not admit that these competing doctrines would lead to different degrees of motivation. Yet his church is cold to evangelism, with many social activities for the members, but little effort to reach out to the lost. The seminar-trained ‘clergy’ may succeed in a double-think that embraces election and yet drives them to engage in evangelism . . . on occasion. I have corresponded with Calvinists who admitted that it took them many years (one said twenty!) to get somewhat content with the implications of their fatalistic doctrine. Not surprising – their God-given conscience works against such illogic and cold-bloodedness.

Nevertheless, the ‘laity’ . . . the typical church members . . . are not fooled. If unconditional election is true, then what’s the point? Especially since personal evangelism is so uncomfortable, and it’s all up to God from beginning to end! If we don’t witness, it’s no big deal. The elect make it and the damned are damned no matter what I do! But if we understand the responsibilities that God has given both to the lost sinner and to the evangelist, we may indeed make the difference . . .

In the things-which-God-cannot-do category is this: God cannot do our repenting for us. In our efforts to magnify grace we have so preached the truth as to convey the impression that repentance is a work of God. This is a grave mistake, and one which is taking a frightful toll among Christians everywhere. God has commanded all men to repent. It is a work which only they can do. It is morally impossible for one person to repent for another. Even Christ could not do this. He could die for us, but He cannot do our repenting for us.

So simple and indeed so axiomatic. It is axiomatic – fundamental – to our made-in-the-image-of-God existence that we choose for ourselves, commit our own sins willfully, and repent or refuse to do so willfully. It is the Devil’s world that casts blame everywhere else.

I asked that Calvinist pastor whether he explained the ‘whole truth’ to lost sinners, perhaps like this: “Sir, you were born totally depraved, compelled to live an unrighteous life by your inherited sin nature, and UNABLE to repent and believe in Christ for salvation. The Good News is that if you are one of the elect chosen by God from before the foundation of the world, then Jesus died for your sins. If you’re not elect, He didn’t, and you will be cast into the Lake of Fire for eternity. Too bad, but there is NOTHING you can do about it. But if you are elect, then God will regenerate you and give you repentance and faith in your heart. That’s irresistible grace. That’s totally His doing and you have no part in it. If He does, then you will demonstrate it by persevering in a Christian life of good works. So, if you get regenerated, let me know and you can join our church.”

That pastor was horrified. “I would never go there,” he said. He would never lay out the truth, he means, even though he believes it. Some honest Calvinists call TULIP ‘the Gospel itself’. If TULIP were true, then it is indeed the Good News, but only for the unconditionally elect. The TRUTH is that God’s TRUTH need never be hidden. The Biblical call to willful repentance and faith can be explained fully. God’s TRUTH always makes sense. God is rational! Calvinists are not.

God in His mercy may “incline” us to repent and by His inworking Spirit assist us to repent; but before we can be saved we must of our own free will repent toward God and believe in Jesus Christ. This the Bible plainly teaches; this experience abundantly supports. Repentance involves moral reformation. The wrong practices are on man’s part, and only man can correct them. Lying, for instance, is an act of man, and one for which he must accept full responsibility. When he repents he will quit lying. God will not quit for him; he will quit for himself.

This is the meaning of passages such as John 6:44, 6:65, and 16:7-8. The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin. In a spiritual way that we won’t understand very well this side of Heaven, the Lord ‘inclines’ us to understand truth. He sensitizes our conscience. He helps us to find Him if we are willing to do so. This was certainly my own experience. Once I responded in a small way to the truth of the Gospel, God helped me to go further. Once I wanted to find the path out of the muck and out of the darkness, it was as if He held my hand to lead me into the light that I sought . . . sought willingly, finally, after years in purposeful rebellion. I was never forced ‘irresistibly’ . . . which is why several months passed before I experienced a definite conversion. During those months I could have said ‘NO!’ at any time. Thank God that He never quit on me. He patiently waited.

When stated thus frankly everything seems obvious enough, and we may wonder how reasonable persons could expect someone else to relieve them of their personal obligation to repent. In practice, however, and under the pressure of strong religious emotion, things are not so plain as one might suppose. The fact is, the “all has been done, you can do nothing” emphasis has caused no end of confusion among seekers everywhere. People are told they must surely perish because of what they are, not because of what they do; what they do does not enter into the picture at all. And furthermore, they can do nothing in the direction of salvation; even to suggest such a thing is to offend God: is not the horrible example of Cain enough to prove that? So they are tossed helplessly between the first Adam and the last Adam. One did their sinning for them and the other has done everything else. Thus the nerve of their moral life is cut and they sink back in despair, afraid to move lest they be guilty of sinful self-effort. At the same time they are deeply troubled with the knowledge that there is something seriously wrong with their religious lives. The remedy is to see clearly that men are not lost because of what someone did thousands of years ago; they are lost because they sin individually and in person. We will never be judged for Adam’s sin, but for our own. For our own sins we are and must remain fully responsible until they have been brought for disposition to the Cross of Jesus. The idea that we can delegate repentance is an erroneous inference from the doctrine of grace wrongly presented and imperfectly understood.

So much confusion reigns in the presentation of the Gospel. Many claim that we sin because we are born sinners. Thus to be saved we must somehow accept Jesus’ atonement for the sin of Adam that was laid on our account. Yet the Lord commands his prophets and evangelists to cry REPENTANCE from our own individual wicked and willful sins. If the ‘born sinner’ doctrine is true . . . otherwise known as the doctrine of ‘inherited sin nature’ . . . then repentance is irrelevant. I can claim salvation for my inherited problem and retain a mindset to live as worldly as my flesh desires. If repentance is required, too, then are there two kinds of condemning sins? And two parts to salvation, one for what Adam did to me and the other for what I’ve done? Now, the Calvinist idea of ‘total depravity’ magnifies the already ill-conceived idea of inherited sin nature into an overwhelming compulsion to live a life of sin from birth to death. Thus only irresistible grace could supply the remedy.

Tozer happily gets all this right. We are responsible for our own sins and face judgment individually. If you want a Biblical passage to beat this point to death, review Ezekiel 18. Not to mention Revelation 20:11-15 . . . and Isaiah 55 . . . and John 3 . . . and Matthew 5 . . . I also encourage you to read my essays, “Repentance is Part of Salvation” and “Inherited Sin Nature – a Devilish Lie.”

Another thing God cannot do: He cannot believe for us. Faith is a gift of God, to be sure, but whether or not we shall act upon that faith lies altogether within our own power. We may or we may not, as we choose. True belief requires that we change our attitude toward God. It means that we not only acknowledge His trustworthiness but go on to trust the promises and obey His commandments. That is Bible faith; anything less is self-deception. Where God is the object of faith He cannot be the subject also. The repentant sinner is the subject, and as such he must put his faith in Christ as Saviour. This he must do for himself. God may help him, He may wait long and be patient, but He can never take his place and do the act for him.

The day when it is once more understood that God will not be responsible for our sin and unbelief will be a glad one for the Church of Christ. The realization that we are personally responsible for our individual sins may be a shock to our hearts, but it will clear the air and remove the uncertainty. Returning sinners waste their time begging God to perform the very acts He has sternly commanded them to do. He will not argue with them; He will simply leave them to their disappointment. Unbelief is a great sin; or more accurately stated, it is an evidence of sins unconfessed. Repent and believe is the order. Faith will follow repentance, and salvation will be the outcome.

Faith is not a simple assent to a collection of facts. If my wife has faith in me, it means that she trusts me, trusts my decisions, trusts me to behave myself when I am away from her, and trusts me to take care of her and to cherish our marriage. If put my faith in my physician, it means that I will submit to his prescribed medications and diet. Even more so, as part of the bride of Christ, if I believe in my Saviour, if I have faith in the Great Physician, then I will trust Him in both the large and the small. And I will obey Him, knowing that His commands are for my safety, especially from the enemy, and to preserve our relationship that it may grow beautifully. “Belief” and “Faith” are words poorly used and woefully misunderstood by this generation. Yet the Bible’s teaching is powerful and unambiguous.

Any interpretation of free grace which relieves the sinner of responsibility to repent is not of God nor in accordance with revealed truth. Nor is God responsible to help us to repent. He owes us nothing but justice. The only man who actually gets his just deserts is the man who dies in sin and goes unblessed to judgment. All others are objects of unearned mercy. To wait for God to help us to repent, or to believe that He is morally obligated to do so, is to misunderstand the whole plan of salvation.

Just what has all this to do with the lack of power in our churches? Very much indeed. Millions begin their religious lives without understanding their moral duty to God. They try to believe without having first repented. They try to have faith without intending to bring their lives into moral conformity with the will of God. Consequently they are not clear about anything. They are full of doubts and hidden perplexities. They are secretly disappointed with their lives, and are for the most part joyless and without enthusiasm. It is hard to extract much delight from uncertainty.

There is no use exhorting such would-be Christians to seek power; no use talking to them about the surrendered life. They simply cannot understand it. They listen to the sermon and then go their way, waiting in vain for God to do the things He has commanded them to do. Until this is corrected we can hope for very little power in our churches.

“Would-be Christians” . . . false converts. A false convert cannot grow spiritually. A church full of false converts (Laodicea) cannot please God, no matter how rich the trappings or how vigorous the earthly enthusiasm. The false convert has never repented. Do you know anyone like that? Care enough about him or her to challenge the very basis of their salvation. They won’t figure it out themselves. You must be God’s evangelist . . . “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their . . . sins.”

drdave@truthreallymatters.com

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13. A. W. Tozer on Faith vs. Obedience
October 15, 2013

Modern evangelical churches love to talk about faith and grace. As we all should. Scripture is clear that “faith without works is dead,” however. Note particularly that Ephesians 2:8-9 is explicit that we are saved by faith (on our part) and grace (on God’s part), and that works have no role in the spiritual birthing process. But then verse 10 delivers the consequences of saving faith, namely that once saved, we are “created in Christ Jesus unto good works.” As night follows day, so works follow saving faith.

Titus 3:4-8 shows the same pattern: the love of God provided a Saviour for us, so that we can be saved by God’s grace, and not by works, but once we have believed we are to maintain good works . . . for the rest of our few days on this Earth. 2 Corinthians 5:17 makes clear that in Christ we are new creatures; the old is dead and everything is new. In the following verses, the main application that Paul makes is that the new believer has been given the ministry of reconciliation . . . to wit, we are “ambassadors” to a lost world, sharing the Gospel of salvation. That’s quite a life-style change from the self-centeredness of the unbeliever, not caring whether he or anyone else is on his way to Hell.

A. W. Tozer (note the intro of my previous blog, the first of this short series on Tozer) observed a trend in Christendom a century ago that has only increased in severity since then. The third chapter of his book, Paths to Power, is entitled “The Fruits of Obedience.” I have copied it below in italics, interleaving my own comments along the way. The topic is so basic, so fundamental to the Christian walk that it feels embarrassing to expound upon it . . . but, alas, even the foundations have crumbled in both evangelicalism and fundamentalism. So here goes . . .

To obey, in New Testament usage, means to give earnest attention to the Word, to submit to its authority, and to carry out its instructions.

Obedience in this sense is almost a dead letter in modern Christianity. It may be taught now and then in a languid sort of way, but it is not stressed sufficiently to give it power over the lives of the hearers. For, to become effective, a doctrine must not only be received and held by the Church, but must have behind it such pressure of moral conviction that the emphasis will fall like a blow upon a percussion cap, setting off the energy latent within.

The one area I will fault Tozer is in his view of “the Church” which he sees as entailing all of Christendom. See my article, Local Church vs. Universal Church, for the Biblical perspective on this. Nevertheless, Tozer’s points work if you just replace his “Church” with “churches,” namely, individual local groups of believers.

On Tozer’s main point, we can ask, “Why don’t churches stress obedience to the word of God?” Well, that would involve some negativity, wouldn’t it? For example, for a husband to obey the Bible, he must love his wife as Christ loves the churches He established. That’s a big deal and involves plenty of specific responsibilities. To fall short is to sin. Similarly, a wife is to submit to the authority of her husband. To “stand on her rights” is to sin. Getting specific from the pulpit on these matters is dangerous business.

Our speech is to be edifying and void of whining / complaining / lying, our music is to be godly, we are to be perfectly honest in business, and we are to love others as we (already) love ourselves. To instruct in detail includes specifics: “Do this.” “Don’t do that.” “Hey, when you don’t do this or when you do that, you have sinned!”

Why do modern churches wimp out? Because the teachers are paid clergy, whose livelihood depends on voluntary offerings. People give more when they feel good. If you make them feel bad enough, they will leave. There’s always another church a block away that will make them feel good. Duh. Not mysterious.

The Church of our day has soft-pedaled the doctrine of obedience, either neglecting it altogether or mentioning it only apologetically and without urgency. This results from a fundamental confusion of obedience with works in the minds of preacher and people. To escape the error of salvation by works we have fallen into the opposite error of salvation without obedience. In our eagerness to get rid of the legalistic doctrine of works we have thrown out the baby with the bath and gotten rid of obedience as well.

The Bible knows nothing of salvation apart from obedience. Paul testified that he was sent to preach “obedience to the faith among all nations.” He reminded the Roman Christians that they had been set free from sin because they had “obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.” In the New Testament there is no contradiction between faith and obedience. Between faith and law-works, yes; between law and grace, yes; but between faith and obedience, not at all. The Bible recognizes no faith that does not lead to obedience, nor does it recognize any obedience that does not spring from faith. The two are opposite sides of the same coin. Were we to split a coin edgewise we would destroy both sides and render the whole thing valueless. So faith and obedience are forever joined and each one is without value when separated from the other. The trouble with many of us today is that we are trying to believe without intending to obey.

A Navy Seal team is a tightly bonded, mission-driven unit. The members “believe” in each other and “believe” in their commanding officer. The proof that they believe in their leader is that they obey him. For the NCO to say, “I believe in our Captain, but I don’t want to obey him while on this mission,” would be INSANE.

Somehow the idea has developed that you can “receive Christ” without respecting Him enough to follow Him. You can “get saved” and still live like a child of the Devil. Consider the typical gross misinterpretation of John 1:12, which reads, “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” This verse is often misused as if it teaches a method of salvation, namely, “You’ve got to receive Christ. Come on, do it now. Just receive Christ!”

Observe the immediate context (although better from verse 1), starting with verse 10: “He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.”

The “world” of men and women rejected Him. “His own” – the Jewish people – rejected Him, “received him not.” But those that received Him . . . they are born of God. So what does “receiving” mean? It means buying into the whole package, that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, that He is the fulfillment of all prophecy, the Lamb of God, and that salvation is in repenting from sin and self, believing in Him, trusting in Him, and following Him. As we see again and again in the Gospel accounts and the book of Acts! “Receiving” is the whole deal, not just some simple little verbal trick. The word “receiving” is a short-hand way of expressing the conversion of your entire worldview!

But the misinterpretation has it that you can “receive” Christ by simply saying so, a so-called “sinner’s prayer,” for example. So what they mean by “Receive Christ!” is to say something or do something so that you actually “take” salvation, grabbing it somehow. Now, words are important, because they convey meaning. When the words change, the meaning can change dramatically . . . enough to miss salvation entirely. Now this is really simple stuff . . . you cannot “receive” something until it is given to you. If I hold a coin in my closed hand and tell you to “receive it,” you can’t until I open my hand, extend it toward you, and drop it in your palm. (Otherwise you would have to “take” it.) You simply cannot unilaterally receive something! Salvation is accomplished in regeneration, an act of God, as John 1:13 teaches, that we are born of God. God saves. God saves when we meet His conditions of repentance and faith . . . our part. So it is meaningless to command someone to “Receive Christ!” Biblical preaching is “Repent and believe!” If the lost sinner does THAT, God will take care of the saving part.

The message of the Cross contains two elements: (1) Promises and declarations to be believed, and (2) commandments to be obeyed. Obviously faith is necessary to the first and obedience to the second. The only thing we can do with a promise or statement of fact is to believe it; it is physically impossible to obey it, for it is not addressed to the will, but to the understanding. It is equally impossible to believe a command; it is not addressed to our understanding, but to our will. True, we may have faith in its justice; we may have confidence that it is a good and right command, but that is not enough. Until we have either obeyed or refused to obey we have not done anything about it yet. To strain to exercise faith toward that which is addressed to our obedience is to get ourselves tangled in a maze of impossibilities.

The doctrine of Christ crucified and the wealth of truths which cluster around it have in them this dual content. So the apostle could speak of “obedience to the faith” without talking contradictions. And it can be said, “The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth,” and “He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” There is nothing incompatible between these statements when they are understood in the light of the essential unity of faith and obedience.

Consider the following parable. The context is a confrontation between the Lord Jesus and the chief priests and elders:

“But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work today in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not. Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.” (Matthew 21:28-32)

The religious crowd that made the public profession and put on the big show were LOST. The despised publicans and harlots who repented from their sins got SAVED. Of what value is profession without obedience? None at all. The heart must change. That change will be demonstrated by the actions that follow. Nothing has changed in 2,000 years. Many profess Christ. Few follow Him.

The weakness in our message today is our over-emphasis on faith with a corresponding under-emphasis on obedience. This has been carried so far that “believe” has been made to double for “obey” in the minds of millions of religious persons. The result is a host of mental Christians whose characters are malformed and whose lives are all out of proportion. Imagination has been mistaken for faith, and belief has been robbed of its moral content and made to be little more than an assent to gospel truth. And all this in the name of orthodoxy.

Assent to the truth of the Gospel is not sufficient to save. See John 8:30-47 for Jesus’ judgment on those “disciples” who merely “believe” on Him in some superficial manner. I recently received an email from a Bible college student who objected to my position on repentance as essential to salvation. She insisted that salvation is acquired by believing in Christ without any intent whatsoever to repent from sins. What does such “believing” entail? How can I ask for forgiveness if I am content in my sins? How can I appreciate the Cross if I don’t understand that my vile sins put Jesus under the wrath of God? How can I “believe” if I am in disagreement with God about what is right and wrong? What is the attitude of my heart toward the Son of God if I am fixed on following Satan? Why should I expect forgiveness if I don’t see my sins as evil? If I do see my sins as evil, how can I not repent? There are only two paths: Repent and follow Jesus or continue on with Satan.

There is a mental disease fairly familiar to all of us where the patient lives in a world wholly imaginary. It is a play-world, a world of pure fancy, with no objective reality corresponding to it. Everyone knows this except the patient himself. He will argue for his world with all the logic of a sane man, and the pathetic thing is that he is utterly sincere. So we find Christians who have lived so long in the rarefied air of imagination that it seems next to impossible to relate them to reality. Non-obedience has paralyzed their moral legs and dissolved their backbones, and they slump down in a spongy heap of religious theory, believing everything ardently, but obeying nothing at all. Indeed, they are deeply shocked at the very mention of the word “obey.” To them it smacks of heresy and self-righteousness and is the result of failure to rightly divide the word of truth. Their doctrine of supine inaction is New Testament religion! It is the truth for which the Reformers died! Everything else is legalism and the religion of Cain.

Inaction?!!? Play-world?!!? But our modern churches have scores of activities and programs and conferences, supplemented by a billion dollar industry of Christian books, videos, music, and TV and radio broadcasts. Yep . . . a zillion ways to get passive, soak it all in, and let the world go to Hell. What was the one big sparkling commandment delivered by the Lord Jesus during the 40 days before He ascended? “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.” That’s the message we see from Him in every account . . . in Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts. Jesus taught that He came “to seek and to save that which was lost.” He commanded His disciples to follow Him and learn to become fishers of men. He showed them how. He sent them out two by two.

The biggest, fattest, most disgusting area of disobedience for American Christians is their refusal to preach the Gospel. ANYTHING BUT THAT!! Let’s do a food drive for the homeless, or clean gutters for the elderly, or throw a pizza party for the youth ministry, or . . . my favorite . . . which I have heard on many occasions . . . “I serve the Lord as part of the worship team (rock band) every Sunday!” If honest, the most fervent church members would say, “Please!! Find me ANYTHING to get involved in as long as I don’t have to tell a lost person that he’s lost and how he can be saved!”

But aren’t all of the 100 ministries in any given mega-church aimed at reaching the lost? Offer help, offer friendship, show love, invest hours and hours over months and months to build the relationship . . . but somehow it is nobody’s job to actually confront the sinner with his lost condition. To paraphrase several “outreach pastors” I have talked to in recent months . . . “Oh, but our approach to evangelism is relational. We get to know someone, win them to ourselves, bring them to hear the special speaker (on marriage, finance, health, etc.) . . . What? You mean actually tell someone that he is lost in his sins, on his way to Hell, and must repent and follow Christ? I would never do that!”

That last sentence is a direct quote from a senior member of the outreach team at a megachurch I visited recently.

Now, I’m all for “relational evangelism.” We should all do that. Of course. But hey, just how many long term relationships do you have in your life? And at some point . . . PREFERABLY VERY EARLY!! . . . you must share the Gospel with this lost guy you have over for Monday night football parties.

The last time I made the mistake of gradually building up a relationship with a professional peer, with the intent of eventually sharing the Gospel with him very clearly, was 1997. Our families had gotten together a couple of times over a couple of months, and then . . . he drowned . . . dead. I promised the Lord that I would never let that happen again. But my “relational project” went to Hell without a clear warning. My promise doesn’t do him any good now.

All this we might pass over as merely one more of those things were it not that this creed of the moral impasse has influenced practically every corner of the Christian world, has captured Bible schools, has determined the content of evangelistic preaching, and has gone far to decide what kind of Christians we all shall be. Without doubt the popular misconception of the function of faith, and the failure of our teachers to insist upon obedience, have weakened the Church and retarded revival tragically in the last half-century. The only cure is to remove the cause. This will take some courage, but it will be worth the labor.

We are always in danger of falling victim to words. An unctuous phrase may easily take the place of spiritual reality. One example is the expression “Following the Lord,” so often used among Christians, or its variation, “Following the Lamb.” We overlook the fact that this cannot be taken literally. We cannot now, as those first disciples could, follow the Master over a given geographical area. We tend to think of it literally but at the same time feel its literal impossibility, with the result that it has come to mean little more than a nodded agreement to the truths of Christianity. It may startle us to learn that “following” is a New Testament word used to cover the idea of an established habit of obedience to the commandments of Christ.

As the disciples followed Jesus, what was their primary activity? Preaching the Gospel. Cold turkey. Eyeball to eyeball. It’s not hard. Walk down the sidewalk, offer someone a tract, and ask him, “Do you ever think about the “big issues: life, death, Heaven, Hell, what it’s all about?” (I have much instruction on this web site on how to proceed in a Biblical manner from that point.)

Beyond the small number of relationships you can possibly develop in your short lifetime, there are multitudes of lost sinners around you who might actually allow you to share the Gospel. Or at least give them a tract. For example, college students represent the #1 most desirable demographic for engaging 1-2-1. They are old enough to think, but not too old to be locked into a hopeless worldview. They are continually challenged to examine the philosophies of worldly life while in the university, but often haven’t had enough time yet to buy into them and get addicted. The Bible, however, is not in their curriculum, except as an object of ridicule. Statistically speaking, college students will give the Gospel a fair hearing, if anyone cares enough about them to try!

So how many college students do you middle-aged and senior folks have on your relationship-building list? How about walking onto campus, walking right up to a student who is taking a break between class, and talking to him? Yes, you really could do this!! Really!! Come on, imagine yourself walking and talking. It’s not too big a stretch. Be a follower of Jesus! But you say, “Wouldn’t it be better for Christian college students to reach out to lost students?” Of course . . . so are you training them? By example?!!? Hypocrite.

Look at the fruits of obedience as described in the New Testament: The house of the obedient man is builded upon a rock (Matt. 7:24). He shall be loved by the Father and the Son, who will come unto him and make their abode with him (John 14:21, 23). He shall abide in the love of Christ (John 15:10). By obedience to the doctrines of Christ he is set free from sin and made a servant of righteousness (Rom. 6:17,18). The Holy Spirit is given to him (Acts 5:32). He is delivered from self-deception and blessed in his deeds (James 1:22-25). His faith is perfected (James 2:22). He is confirmed in his assurance toward God and given confidence in prayer, so that what he asks is given to him (1 John 3:18-22). These are only a few among the many verses that may be cited from the New Testament.

Tozer could have added a few more, for example . . . The believer can do greater works than Jesus did while walking the Earth (John 14:12, and demonstrated throughout the book of Acts in the preaching of the Gospel), he should bring forth fruit – converts – and his fruit should remain (John 14:16), he will rejoice with those he leads to the Lord (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20), he joys in the fellowship of the work of the Gospel (Philippians 1:5), and he looks forward with great expectation toward rejoicing with those who are part of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:7-9, Isaiah 61:10).

I know by experience that there is no greater fellowship among believers on this Earth than that of like-minded servants who are all part of the Great Commission. This fellowship is an extension of the fellowship the Lord Jesus promises us, in this age, when we walk with Him in the Great Commission, Matthew 28:18-20, wherein Jesus promises us that His presence will be especially with us in this work. If you haven’t experienced that, but can still walk and talk, then it may not be too late for you! Oh, but you say that you feel the Lord’s presence every week in your rock and roll “worship” concert? After being persistently disobedient to the Great Commission week after week? You’re fooling yourself. That’s not the presence of the HOLY Spirit. Note Acts 5:32 . . . “And we are His witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey Him.” In the midst of disobedience, you can only expect a “spirit” from the Enemy’s camp to encourage you on your current road.

Back to those relationships you care about . . . relatives, friends, co-workers, neighbors, etc. You really do care about some of these people. Don’t you want to do a good job in pleading with them to turn to Christ? Don’t you want to be equipped to deal with their objections and misconceptions? You had better get some practice with strangers! If your evangelism is limited to “relationships,” you won’t develop enough experience to develop any competence. Given the infinite stakes, don’t you think you should make a little effort toward competence? You do in other areas of your life, including school, work, and even hobbies like golf and fantasy football! Otherwise, when you finally do get a real shot at pleading with grandma or your dad or your boss, you’ll just stumble and fumble, bringing discredit to the Gospel. The Bible calls us “Ambassadors”! Let’s embrace our status accordingly!

But more to the point than any number of proof texts is the fact that the whole drift of the New Testament is in that direction. One or two texts might be misunderstood, but there is no mistaking the whole tenor of Scripture.

What does all this add up to? What are its practical implications for us today? Just that the power of God is at our disposal, waiting for us to call it into action by meeting the conditions which are plainly laid down. God is ready to send down floods of blessing upon us as we begin to obey His plain instructions. We need no new doctrine, no new movement, no “key,” no imported evangelist or expensive “course” to show us the way. It is before us as clear as a four-lane highway.

To any inquirer I would say, ‘Just do the next thing you know you should do to carry out the will of the Lord. If there is sin in your life, quit it instantly. Put away lying, gossiping, dishonesty, or whatever your sin may be. Forsake worldly pleasures, extravagance in spending, vanity in dress, in your car, in your home. Get right with any person you may have wronged. Forgive everyone who may have wronged you. Begin to use your money to help the poor and advance the cause of Christ. Take up the Cross and live sacrificially. Pray, attend the Lord’s services. Witness for Christ, not only when it is convenient but when you know you should.

Tozer covers a lot of applications here, while I, admittedly, am focusing on the ONE THING in this list of his that is sure to be avoided . . . witnessing. So, Tozer says, “when you know you should.” When is that? The Bible teaches that there are two different times to preach . . . ready? . . . “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season.” (2 Timothy 4:2) But you’ve got to balance it, right? I guarantee that every American Christian you meet is out of balance on the short side. No matter how much boldness, grit, and determination you acquire in order to obey the Lord in His mission, you’ll still be short. But at least get off your rear end and do something! And beg God for more boldness. Then act on your prayers. Then beg God some more. Then act some more . . .

Look to no cost and fear no consequences. Study the Bible to learn the will of God and then do His will as you understand it. Start now by doing the next thing, and then go on from there.’

– drdave@truthreallymatters.com

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14. T4T: An Explosion of House Churches
November 1, 2013

T4T: A Discipleship Re-Revolution, by Steve Smith and Ying Kai, describes the methodology used in the Church Planting Movement (CPM) explosion in Asia over the last 12 years. They have documented over 150,000 new church starts (house churches) and over 1.7 million baptized converts. Much of the work has been accomplished under severe persecution. Most significant from our Western viewpoint is that the methodology is highly correlated with New Testament principles and the pattern observed in the book of Acts.

In this blog I’ll highlight some of their main ideas and practices, commenting along the way, and then offer my conclusions, admittedly with some trepidation, at the end.

“T4T” is short for “Training for Trainers.” The idea is that new converts should be discipled promptly in Bible basics, prayer, etc., and also to share the Gospel with those around them. In the first week of a new convert’s walk with Christ, he should be sharing his faith, and then begin to disciple those that respond on the same pattern. Every Christian is to be a missionary, growing in faith and training others to be trainers also. What a shocking idea! How quaint! How . . . New Testament-like.

An outside assessment team visited one segment of an Asian CPM and discovered an 18th generation church, just a few years removed from the “1st generation”, which went on to plant a 2nd generation of house churches, which went on . . . to the 18th generation. They generally figure that it takes 12-18 months to form reproducing discipleship communities which require, at a minimum, four generations alive and working vigorously. Ying Kai cites specific Biblical principles to establish the pattern:

1. Go, not come. The Lord told us to GO and preach the Gospel, not to merely invite the lost to come to us.
2. Everyone, not just some. Give the Gospel to everyone, not just the ones we are most comfortable in dealing with. You can’t predict what God might do in convicting the hearts of the least likable.
3. Make trainers (disciples), not just church members. We are to make disciples of all new believers, “teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” The Great Commission includes a recursive relationship. In teaching the new convert “all things”, you have taught him to go and do for others what you have done for him . . . and so on . . . as has been God’s plan for the last 2,000 years.

Now, I love this . . . see the theme of this site’s Home Page . . . Ying and Grace Kai determined to see only two kinds of people: lost and saved. If someone was lost, they witnessed to him. If saved, they trained him. Evangelism and Discipleship: just do that for the rest of your life!

The book offers plenty of details for constructing an efficient discipleship program, which dovetails into the establishment of house churches. They believe that if Biblical principles are maintained a CPM can be both a mile wide and a mile deep. The Western model assumes that it takes years for a Christian to mature before he can serve effectively. The T4T process uses immediate service to accelerate growth to maturity. As the authors relate . . .

NOT “believe – mature – serve”
BUT RATHER “believe – serve – mature”

Can rapid growth get messy? Assuredly. But great rewards always entail great risk. The Western model, which is characterized by years of seminary training, ordained clergy, tightly scripted meetings, costly and attention-demanding infrastructure, and passive lecture-listening rather than active training, GUARANTEE failure. Smith and Kai assert that if discipleship is done properly, the average believer can start and organize a house church. They say, “Otherwise, church planting will be relegated to a few highly trained individuals.” Indeed. And I would challenge the fundies to give evidence that their ordained seminary-trained candidates are “highly trained.” Trained for what? Delivering weekly sermons and organizing building programs, while neglecting Biblical evangelism and discipleship?

The authors cite much Scripture as foundational to their principles. For example, the parable of the two sons, Matthew 21:28-32, is used to contrast those who give verbal assent to the Father’s commands with those who actually obey. (This is right on track with my previous blog on Tozer’s discussion of faith and obedience.) In T4T disciples move on as they obey in practice the principles of each Bible lesson, all the way to forming a church with new disciples who work to the same pattern.

Regarding the maturity of disciples, and I’m sure with Western churches in mind, they contrast the long-time believer who may know much Scripture but would have to admit that he obeys only 30%, with a newer believer whose Bible knowledge is underwhelming, but consistently obeys 90%. Who will be the better servant over the long term? I would suggest that American churches are filled with the former. Wouldn’t it be a pleasure to teach those who actually want to obey? By the way, the secular world understands this well. When we teach engineering students about bridge design, computer software, or wireless communications, we insure their motivation by making them accountable via homework, exams, presentations, and real-life projects that must work!

Not everyone becomes a trainer of trainers in the “real world.” Always looking for those that bear spiritual fruit 30, 60, and 100-fold, CPM statistics indicate that about 20% become trainers of trainers. Most of the others do witness, however. Those that attend meetings but don’t witness are loved, coached, cajoled . . . but some never ‘get it’. My guess is that those who don’t get it get uncomfortable and drop out, perhaps proving that they never got salvation in the first place.

T4T discipleship meetings last two to three hours, divided into three “Thirds.” The First Third includes:
1. Pastoral care: How are you doing? The nitty gritty of weekly life is dealt with.
2. Worship: praise, songs, etc.
3. Accountability: How are you following the Lord? To whom have you witnessed? Who has responded? Are you training others and how is that going?
4. Vision Casting: The big picture – Keep the goal in mind, to train trainers to win and disciple converts, and to plant churches. The “little stuff” should always support the big goals.

The Second Third includes:
5. New Bible lesson
a. Short-term reproducible topical Bible lessons on essential topics like baptism, the Great Commission, the Lord’s Supper, perseverance under persecution, marriage / family, etc. There will be 6-10 such sessions. From that point and into the indefinite future . . .
b. Long-term, self-feeding inductive Bible studies, verse by verse through major portions of Scripture. Use open-ended questions like, “What is this passage saying?”, What should we obey from this passage?”, “Who is someone to share this message with?” With this pattern, many people can learn to lead Bible studies . . . and grow in knowledge and wisdom.

The Third Third includes:
6. Practice: The trainer acts as a coach and organizes ways to practice whatever is relevant from the first two Thirds. Practice witnessing, practice teaching the Bible lesson, practice training techniques. Everybody practices, dividing up as necessary. Yes. That’s “training.” How often does that happen in American churches?
7. Set goals and pray for each other. The goals connect to next week’s accountability. Prayer is vital because you do want the Lord involved, don’t you?

How do you implement T4T in the context of conventional American churches? The idea would not be to deconstruct everything, but to build experimentally. Take a motivated life group and launch them into the discipleship process. As they win converts and disciple them, new life groups are launched. One American pastor said that he would be content for such life groups to operate as autonomous churches, baptizing and doing the Lord’s Supper, perhaps still joining the “large worship service” on Sunday, or perhaps not. I’m sure that such a perspective will be rare among American pastors. Especially since the American model, particularly with fundamentalists (yet also with evangelicals), expects leaders to be seminary-trained and ordained clergy – the “pastors” don’t sit in the pews, after all!

The book is supplemented by online materials, but I believe there is enough info about evangelism within the text to draw some definite conclusions. Their basic pattern for presenting the Gospel is OK, especially for cultures in which Christians are persecuted. Their Gospel basics are sound and they appropriately emphasize “Get them to lostness.” They seem to define repentance and faith properly. Muslims or Hindus or animists are challenged on how their sins cannot be appropriately forgiven by a just and holy God in their own religion, and then shown the beauty and simplicity of the true Gospel.

In pagan and Communist and Muslim cultures, the new believer puts his life on the line in turning away from his family’s or tribe’s faith to that of Christ. So repentance is strongly implicit, even if the presentation does not camp there. If the believer walks on in the faith and bears fruit, he’s the real deal. In America, on the other hand, no price is paid to be a professing Christian. Multitudes profess Christ while promoting abortions, practicing sodomy, living the rock and roll fornicating lifestyle, or just going through the motions of typical worldly life. In America, repentance must be hammered, with many specific examples. As I experience week after week in witnessing to unregenerate American churchgoers. In short, in America it’s easy to make false converts. How? Don’t preach repentance. Preach God’s love, what Jesus can do for you, and how great you’ll feel. Or if you’re a fundie (or a gelly Calvinist), just mention repentance briefly, but put the real blame on an alleged inherited sin nature. It’s Adam’s fault! Then just manipulate the sinner into praying a little sinner’s prayer to “close the deal.”

Steve Smith and Ying Kai talk of baptism as the public declaration of an “allegiance shift.” They probe the new convert with questions like:

“Have you decided to follow Jesus and Him only?”
“Do you know that He has forgiven you of all of your sins?”
“Are you telling all of these witnesses that you will follow Jesus and never turn back?”
“When they come into your house, and drag you away, and throw you into prison and threaten to kill you, will you still follow Jesus?”

That last question . . . so silly in the American context, but probative of the nature of saving repentance and faith. They cite the experience of the missionary to the Lisu people of China, James Frasier, who struggled with Lisu converts going back to their old idols. So he tested them by instructing converts to demonstrate repentance by tearing down their idol altars and destroying their pagan artifacts. Note that we see the same outcome in Ephesus, stirring up the entire city, nearly costing Paul his life.

Regarding the selection of leaders in new churches, the authors offer an interesting analysis of Titus 1 and 1 Timothy 3 . . . elder qualifications. They suggest that the situations are different, with the passage in Titus relevant to new church plants, where all the believers are new converts. In 1 Timothy, on the other hand, we have more established churches in which some aspire to become or else believe that God is calling them to be elders. Thus the modest differences in the two passages. I’ll let the reader do his own analysis. Their main point is that with new converts and new churches, there will be risks, but there is much Scriptural precedent for trusting the Lord to take care of His own. Besides, almost any CPM will have communication networks. The authors also point out that the Biblical principle is to appoint multiple leaders in each church, enhancing safety by consensus and distributed power.

In my mind, the most controversial aspect of the book is their belief that T4T will work to produce similar results anywhere, including America and Western Europe. The authors are aware that persecution in Asia forced them toward the 1st century New Testament model. Since this model has been perverted or has disappeared in the West, is it reasonable to expect a CPM in the West?

The American T4T approach would be to work via small groups in conventional churches, as mentioned before. They warn that many churches use a leadership-training program, or (worst case) a Bible college degree program, followed by apprenticeship, before real leadership responsibility is allowed. Smith and Kai say, “Eliminate this lengthy ‘safe’ approach for new launches. Continue the leadership-training phase, but just realize it will happen on-the-job while the person comes to your T4T group AND leads his own group.” On the job. That’s the problem. The old-boy clergy club won’t like that idea.

For evangelism, the advice is to get out there where the lost people are and engage 1-2-1. They suggest that ‘discovery studies’ for a few weeks might entice skeptics to explore the Gospel message. They actually believe that organizing such studies in the T4T format can develop into discipleship programs and churches . . . starting with a group of unbelievers. Right. Go ahead and try that with Americans. Appropriately, they encourage pastors to re-think church meetings and turn them into training sessions. Yes. So obvious, but so foreign to American church thinking.

Here’s the problem for T4T in America: You have to get real born again converts! That’s hard. The book cites a couple of examples of T4T working. In a North Carolina small group, the members didn’t witness because they “did not know any lost people.” Frankly, that’s impossible. What it means is that they didn’t have any discernment, not knowing the difference between real and phony professing Christians. So they redefined “lostness” as “far from God” people living a worldly lifestyle and not attending church. Out of the resulting list, each member was asked to identify one person out of ten “whose life God was stirring up somehow.” The task was to share their testimony with these “far from God” prospects. Additionally, members were told to stop inviting people to church and start inviting them to Jesus.

I get the picture. The Gospel is softened. “Far from God” people just need to get “closer.” Avoid using words like “Hell,” “Judgment,” “Lost,” “Sin,” “Repent,” and “Born Again.” Or, if you do, keep it light. Keep them engaged. Consider salvation to be a process in which a guy hangs around long enough for some Christianity to rub off on him.

Antioch Community Church in Waco, Texas, embraced T4T, retooled their church programs, and “saw over 300 salvations in Waco alone.” Antioch has planted churches across America and supports over 200 foreign missionaries.

My bottom line on the American application of T4T in Texas and North Carolina? I don’t believe it. I can’t prove it, but my rather extensive experience informs me that using a softened Gospel in a filthy-rich, culturally licentious, sin-hardened America produces only (or at least mostly) false converts. It appears that the Gospel presentation in Asia is much more robust, and when people respond under persecution, you quickly see genuine fruit. Salty seed . . . sweet fruit. In America, sugary seed . . . corrupt fruit.

I haven’t been to Antioch Community Church, but did spend a little time on their web site. They show evidence of Pentecostalism in their doctrine and a hint of Calvinism. They run a 9-month discipleship school and charge $3200 tuition. Their church planting school’s tuition is $2000. Really? But that’s American Churchianity. How would that work in rural China? Photos of Antioch’s services show the contemporary rock and roll style prevalent in mega-churches and all mega-church wannabes. They really don’t look any different from the rest of evangelicalism. It will all come out at the Judgment Seat of Christ, of course. In the meantime, I’ve got to assess . . . for myself . . . whether they’ve got the “Biblical model” that I should be embracing to do evangelism and discipleship in America. Answer: No. The modern evangelical culture produces multitudes of false converts and, at best, an occasional perpetually immature true believer.

I have great confidence that the T4T Asian experience is valid. Might there be tares among the wheat? Of course, as Smith and Kai point out themselves. But they seem to have embraced and put into practice the New Testament model for evangelism and discipleship. Are they fuzzy about some issues, like the role of women in establishing house churches? It looks like it, but I’d have to dig deeper to figure that out.

T4T in all of its organized glory or something very close to it is clearly necessary for the scenario where your evangelism is producing multitudes of genuine converts. What do you do with them? Disciple them and multiply house churches and propagate widely. You’d better have a well-thought out plan for the day to day and the week to week. T4T lays out a solid plan in great detail.

In America it is VERY HARD to get genuine converts, or even to distinguish the difference between real and false converts. Many fundie and gelly churches have a mixture. But in the American system, even the genuine converts are so immature in their passive church experiences that God’s work never develops. Mega-churches might grow, but very little discipleship is done and evangelism is corrupted by neglecting the salty truths.

If you start winning converts, get the T4T book . . . or re-read the New Testament for instructions! If you must be content with sowing Gospel seed and not seeing much fruit . . . then keep plugging away and do the part of the Great Commission that you are able to do. Do evangelism and keep looking for the opportunity to do discipleship. And honor God by meeting as a “house church” so that at least by faith, you are in position to deal properly with new converts, if you are so blessed. The New Testament model is always RIGHT, whether or not converts multiply.

– drdave@truthreallymatters.com

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15. Are you in touch with reality?
November 15, 2013

Jesus said, “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” Pilate responded, “What is truth?”

Pilate missed his opportunity. He wasn’t in touch with reality. The author of Truth with a Capital “T” was in his presence, the Author of Life, the Inventor of Light (both physical and spiritual), the Source of all Purpose . . . but Pilate preferred his own paltry worldview wherein he enjoyed power and prestige in an all too transient Roman Empire.

Oh, but you’re not like Pilate. You’re a Christian so you don’t have problems with reality, do you? Think again. I’m going to make the case that this problem . . . this sin of unbelief . . . is perhaps THE BIGGEST PROBLEM any of us face day to day. So let me lay some ground work before I clobber you between the eyes with the punch line.

The Biblical principles here are well-established, for example:

Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. Philippians 4:6-9

In REALITY, the actual existence in which we find ourselves, sanity is to recognize that God is REAL, above all, and we are to seek Him. There is no peace otherwise. Our thoughts are to focus on what is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy. Once learned, we are to DO these things. Peace follows.

Many other passages reflect the key to living in reality, for example:

My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. Proverbs 2:1-6

Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her. Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her. The LORD by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens. Proverbs 3:13-19

Knowledge and understanding of what is REAL starts with the recognition that God . . . God as revealed in the Bible . . . is the Creator of this world and the entire cosmos. Knowledge involves observing and interpreting facts for what they are. Understanding and wisdom involves organizing facts within God’s worldview and acting accordingly. The passage above points out how preciously valuable and practical it is to acquire and operate daily within the Biblical worldview . . . the ONLY worldview that is real.

Let’s start with some extreme examples of folks out of touch with reality. Atheists believe that NOTHING created everything and that NOTHING organized everything, include life, into the spectacular complexity everyone can see. They assert that matter and energy are everything, and therefore have no explanation for what are the most important things in everyone’s life: love, truth, justice, integrity, purpose, meaning, and hope . . . to name a few vital aspects of human life that have ZERO explanation within the crudely limited realms of physics and chemistry. The atheist goes on to live – but only in part – according to his worldview, scoffing at morality, scoffing at Christians, and putting himself above all of creation. Yet he cannot live this way consistently. He is offended when someone lies to him, steals from him, or when his wife cheats on him . . . although in her worldview isn’t she #1? Since he anticipates no life after death and no judgment to come, he feels free to lie, steal, and cheat as long as he can get away with it. Most ironically, he insists that he exists, although he must admit that everything he thinks, says, and does must be the result of brain chemistry. In summary, his worldview is completely screwed up and he cannot live within it consistently. Trouble inevitably results, especially when he passes from this brief life.

Roman Catholics, as representative of most of the world’s population (the religious lost), imagine that they can earn acceptance with an infinitely holy and righteous God by performing some rituals and engaging in a handful of good deeds . . . all the while knowing that they defy God daily by breaking His commandments. They rationalize (lie to themselves) by pretending that their sins are not the really bad sins. It’s the other guy’s sins that may condemn him, you see. Furthermore, they exalt a priesthood to intercede between them and God, as if such priests aren’t as unholy as themselves. Worse, a Catholic mixes and matches theologies according to whim, claiming that Jesus died for his sins, yet his salvation is secured by his own fabulous righteousness, and if not, then Mary will somehow bail him out.

New Agers and Pentecostals insist that they can create their own reality. Speak it, believe it, name it and claim it, chant it and get all mystical and expect the universe to change accordingly. Mere shamanism. Yet they get sick and die like everyone else! There seems to be a lot of turnover in Pentecostal churches because the laity watch the clergy get richer and richer . . . on the offerings of the members. But worldly wealth doesn’t flow back down. My guess is that the Health & Wealth preachers are closer in touch with reality than the suckers who enrich them. We visited a Pentecostal church recently. The pastor insisted that he had recently received a specific revelation from God. Several people in the church publicly “divined” a “word of wisdom” about illnesses in the congregation that they were sure God was willing to heal. This entire church was sure that they were “filled with the Spirit.” Yet they preached a repentance-less, “pray a quick prayer” gospel that can only offend the Holy Spirit. As do many other churches, disagreeing with each other . . . and the Bible . . . on many vital doctrines. And so America is filled with churches “filled with the Spirit,” whose members live worldly lives and show little interest in learning from the Holy Spirit what He has revealed in His Bible.

Our greatest talent as human beings must be rationalization / self-justification. Scripture is clear about this quite deliberate evil:

Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find? Proverbs 20:6

He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered. Proverbs 28:26

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings. Jeremiah 17:9-10

And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. Luke 18:-9-14

We love the idea that we should “follow our heart” and “trust our feelings.” But the heart must be in sync with the mind and the mind must be locked onto Scripture. We will fool ourselves, but we can’t fool God. God rewards the humble who is in touch with a reality that shows him he OUGHT to be humble. The self-righteous are clueless about reality and headed for Judgment.

I recently had a rather fervent disagreement with my wife. In large part, we were operating on quite divergent views of reality. Now, I have always known that my wife, as a woman, was somewhat out of touch with the way THINGS REALLY ARE. But even after all these years of marriage, I was a bit shocked to hear from her lips that what I thought was white was surely black, that up was down, and that in was out. Her conviction of what was real was completely opposite of mine. And I know that what I perceive is highly correlated with the way THINGS REALLY ARE! How do I know that? Well, come on! I’m a smart, perceptive guy! If I feel sure about it, it must be right!

Enough about that. I’ve noticed that Christians who can quote the Sermon on the Mount (or at least the relevant portions) don’t actually believe it. Hey – I’m talking about you now, so listen up! For example:

Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. Matthew 5:21-22

Yet you will get angry, typically with someone close to you, like your wife or your husband! If challenged, you’ll say, “Of course I’m angry, because . . .” Busted. Your “because” is not righteous. You are not offended on God’s behalf. You’re offended because so-and-so did not act the way that you want him to act, or speak . . . you’re angry because you see yourself as a little god that should be exalted by those around you. Wow, you’re in bad shape. You don’t realize that your persistent sins of anger and unforgiveness (for hours, days, weeks) are far greater than whatever little transient offense was committed against you. Churches stay weak and marriages suffer much pain.

Do you get angry when someone in your presence publicly blasphemes God? What? You let blasphemy slide, but you get angry with someone close to you? DON’T GET ANGRY! Unless it’s on God’s behalf. Then you should speak up. Don’t chicken out then!

By the way, here’s a tip on how to clobber (verbally) someone who is publicly offending God. Speak right up and say, “I know why you talk like that. It’s because you love sin and hate God. You’re in deep trouble. Here’s a Gospel tract that might just save you from certain Judgment and an eternity in Hell.” You can even get a little hot under the collar if you’re offended on God’s behalf. Save your anger for truly righteous causes.

Are you raising children to live in reality? Are you modeling the Christian life? Are you teaching them God’s word? Are you showing them how pointless and harmful the world’s philosophies are? Every day is precious. The toddler becomes the adolescent who becomes the teenager who moves out and it all happens so quickly. If they are still lost when they move out, it’s almost impossible to reach them. By the way, if they ACT lost when they move out, you should conclude that they have always been lost. It’s just now that they’ve discovered that they can get away with acting the way they actually believe. Get in touch with the reality of their lost condition so that you can be honest with them.

Do you believe that Jesus is coming back in reality? That the lost are headed for Hell? Do you share the Gospel, both verbally and by tracting? Are you direct with your lost relatives? Do you merely smile and chat with neighbors and co-workers for years and years without telling them about reality? Are you personally in touch with reality so that it makes a difference in how you deal with people?

The lost justify themselves by denying the wickedness of their sins. So they don’t repent. Even the Christians aren’t telling the lost about repentance. The saved justify their cold hearts by believing that church attendance and sizable checks to pay for buildings and clergy will suffice at the Judgment Seat of Christ. After all, that’s all your church expects of you, isn’t it? Show up, drop the check in, and . . . if you’re one of the elite church members . . . show up once a quarter for a community project or to clean the church property or – big time – become an usher or a “worship team” rock star! Your clergy reveal their out-of-touch-with-reality hearts by not caring whether you are trained to share the Gospel or whether you know your Bible or whether you are actually more mature than you were a year ago. Where is the accountability? Aren’t the evangelical and fundamentalist clergy getting paid to do discipleship? Apparently not. They are hired merely to produce the weekly show.

Reality is that the believer is expected by God to grow continually in faith, knowledge, wisdom, virtue, patience, godliness, and charity, diligent to perform the Great Commission, evangelizing the lost and helping other disciples to grow, too. Are you living in God’s reality?

Life is filled with reality issues. Does your boss act lost? Don’t be shocked. Don’t get angry or bitter or, worse . . . start feeling sorry for yourself. Pray for him and “get real” with him. You need wisdom to be a witness to co-workers . . . especially bosses. But that’s what off-duty hours are for. Invite a co-worker over or out for dinner and give him your testimony, showing concern for his spiritual condition. If you’re gracious you only risk the chance that he might experience conviction from the Holy Spirit and acquire eternal life. If not, at least his blood won’t be on your hands. (Ezekiel 3:17-19)

Don’t imagine that the Bible sanctions the idea that you can be a secret-agent Christian, doing “relational evangelism” by acting sweet, and never actually sharing the Gospel. The longer the relationship goes, the harder it will be for you to share the Gospel bluntly, because you get invested in the relationship and don’t want to endanger it. So your lost friend goes to Hell and at the Great White Throne Judgment will likely accuse you of not caring. He’ll be right. That Judgment is coming. Face the reality of that now with compassion and boldness.

Examine yourself day to day and be honest in your own head about how you fool yourself. Every day. Christian maturity is about coming into agreement with God about everything in life. That requires honesty. If you’re honest with yourself, you can be honest with God, and He just might give you the strength to be honest with others . . . and helpful to them.

I encourage you to read carefully Paul’s second letter to Timothy, composed during his second imprisonment, after he was arrested during Nero’s heinous persecution of Christians. It’s the last letter we have from Paul. The Mamertine Prison was cold, dark, and cruel. He knew he was about to be executed. He had been forsaken by many, who were fearful for their own lives. It is clear that he suffered physically. Yet the letter is filled with conviction that in reality Paul’s resurrection was assured, that God’s promises would be fulfilled, and that the Lord Jesus was with him and would bring him into His kingdom. Even more, Paul’s overriding concern was that Timothy would stand strong, preach the Gospel, and strengthen other believers. Like the Lord Jesus, Paul’s last thoughts before death were for others. That’s how to really live.

– drdave@truthreallymatters.com

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16. The Authenticity of the Book of Genesis
December 1, 2013

Bill Cooper’s book by the above title is a must have and a must read. In fact, if you have only ten books in your personal library, this should be one of them. Cooper is an unabashed creationist and a serious scholar who takes on the last century of scoffers, modernists, and name-callers to demonstrate . . . with hundreds of examples . . . how the book of Genesis is in accord with the histories and archaeological artifacts of antiquity. In so doing he exposes the deliberate lies and propaganda of the anti-Biblical academic establishment, who are Hell-bent (literally) to discourage their students from embracing the Gospel, which foundation is established in the Genesis record.

This is not a “dry as dust” tome. Cooper’s style is refreshingly blunt. For example, in referring to the widespread and heavily funded universities, publishing houses, and media dedicated to ridiculing the Bible, all the while quite tolerant of the Koran, or the Hindu Vedas, or the scriptures of Buddhism, Taoism, etc., he notes,

“. . . these are all largely ignored. I am not aware of a single college or university anywhere in the world that is dedicated solely to the destruction of any one of them, and howls of protest would very soon close such an institution if it ever tried to get started. Yet, when it comes to the Bible, no human endeavor is considered too large or expensive to achieve its demise. Astonishing.”

Cooper reflects on how the Bible has stood for many centuries, “the dearest treasure on earth to millions,” and then asks, “But exactly why do the critics bother? If God truly does not exist, then it should matter not a fig to them that someone somewhere happens to believe that He does.”

Cooper examines the famous critics of the 19th and 20th centuries and finds them both wanting and deceitful. Graf and Wellhausen, for example, who asserted that the prophets of Israel never existed and that the first five books of the Bible were forged after the Jews returned from Babylon. I’ll just give you one little excerpt about this, encouraging you to follow up and get the book to ingest Cooper’s full analysis:

“One source of merriment in all this is a colossal howler made by the critics Graf and Wellhausen, authors of much of the nonsense which passed – and still passes – for scholarship in modernist circles. Karl Graf came up with the brilliant notion that the Law, or Torah (the Pentateuch in other words), was invented by the prophets of Israel (who didn’t exist, by the way; or who, if they did exist, did so after the return of the Jews from Babylon, when, even so, their books were written by others and not by the prophets themselves – quite so).”

Here’s a bit of meat from Cooper, hopefully to whet your appetite. He explains the ‘toledoth,’ the Hebrew term translated at regular intervals in the Genesis record as, “These are the generations . . .” The concept has both the sense of geneology and of history, and is used to close a section and connect it to the following. Cooper explains:

“It would seem that when Moses brought together, or was given, these successive documents to make a single book of them, either he himself provided under inspiration the toledoth which ‘stitch’ these documents together, or the toledoth already existed in the documents themselves. The latter would seem the most likely option . . . It is a most ancient method of record-keeping which largely fell into redundancy once writing was committed to parchment scrolls and papyrus, this allowing the unbroken continuation of long texts.”

He points out that a toledoth at the end of a clay tablet (before the use of parchment) would be repeated at the beginning of the next clay tablet in the series, so the reader would know which tablet to heft next.

I’ve noted for many years that most preachers sell the Bible too short in this matter. They assume that Moses, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, began to write Genesis from scratch, which results in the usual sermon point, “The Bible was written over a period of 1500 years by at least 40 human authors.” The 1500 years would be from Moses to John. But the far more likely truth is that Moses inherited the Genesis record from the writings of Adam, Seth, Noah, Shem, etc., so that we can more boldly proclaim, “The Bible was written over a period of 4000 years by at least 50 human authors.” Thus the Biblical record truly goes back to the beginning, not just in what it reports, but when it was reported.

Cooper walks through the book of Genesis, comparing the record with ancient historical records and tribal legends from around the world. This is fascinating stuff. He occasionally takes the viewpoint of a trial lawyer, that when hundreds of independent witnesses, and some of them hostile, give evidence to the same basic set of facts, any reasonable jury would conclude that the facts are true. What you will read throughout this book are many accounts of creation, a worldwide flood, and even the tower of Babel and the confusion of languages recorded in the histories of tribes from every continent on the earth.

Here’s a nugget from Cooper. He cites secular scholars who claim that Abraham was a fictional character and his life a mere myth. Archaeological results disagree. The name of Abram is found in a contract from about 1950 B.C., a period under the reign of Abil-Sin, a Babylonian king who was the predecessor of Hammurabi. Furthermore, a Babylonian historian from the 3rd century B.C. wrote:

“. . . moreover . . . there lived, the thirteenth in descent, a man named Abraham, a man of noble race and superior to all others in wisdom. Of him they relate that he was the inventor of astrology and the Chaldean magic, and that on account of his piety, he was esteemed of God. It is further said that under the directions of God, he removed and lived in Phoenicia, and there taught the Phoenicians the motions of the sun and moon and all other things, for which reason he was held in great reverence by their king.”

That king was Abimelech of Gerar, as recorded in Genesis. A note about Cooper’s methodology here. He notes that Berosus, that Babylonian historian, referred to the land as Phoenicia, the term used in Berosus’ day. In Abraham’s time it was called Canaan. If this account had been forged from the Old Testament record, the forger would surely have used ‘Canaan.’ The use of the term Phoenicia indicates that the historian was working from independent Babylonian records.

More intriguingly, Nicolaus of Damascus (born 64 B.C.), as part of a 144 volume history, wrote:

“Abram was king of Damascus, and came hither as a stranger, with an army, from that part of the country which is situated above Babylon of the Chaldeans. But after a short time he again emigrated from this region with his people, and transferred his dwelling to the land which was at that time called Canaaea, but is now called Judaea; together with all the multitude which has increased with him, of whose history I shall give an account in another book. The name of Abram is well known even to this day in Damascus, and a village is pointed out which is still called the House of Abraham.”

Cooper observes that the name Abram was used, since God changed his name to Abraham long after he had settled in Canaan. Furthermore, “A forger would not have used the birth name of Abram. He would not have said that Abram was ever king of Damascus either. Genesis, which he would have followed, makes no such mention . . . But it is a most interesting detail, and here we come to the otherwise unexplained circumstance that Abraham’s household steward should have been Eliezer of Damascus (Geneses 15:2), who, under the laws at that time, was deemed to be Abraham’s heir.” Cooper goes on to cite additional archaeological evidence regarding the historical existence of Abraham and his close relations.

Unbelieving scholars with their anti-Biblical agendas have done much harm. Cooper discusses both heroes and villains in this regard. A short example: The Sumerians gave Eve the title, ‘Nin-ti,’ a pun which means both ‘Lady of the Living’ (Genesis 3:20) and ‘Lady of the Rib.’ Indeed! But a secular scholar has interpreted the title as ‘Lady who gives birth,’ which tediously destroys the pun and robs Eve of her place in human history.

I could go on with many more details, but you should really get the book. Cooper’s discussion of extra-Biblical evidence supporting the life and deeds of Joseph is worth the price of the book all by itself!

– drdave@truthreallymatters.com

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17. How to win false converts and build a megachurch
December 15, 2013

I won’t name the multi-campus megachurch I visited recently and I won’t betray any personal confidences from my many discussions with members in this church. But I will summarize some observations and conclusions since, at this point, I believe that I’ve exhausted my efforts to make any useful connections there. I never intended to write a blog on my visits to this church, but the last service I attended was so horrific that I am compelled to.

As you can easily tell from what I’ve written on this site, I’m completely committed to the New Testament “house church” model . . . namely, a local area network of house churches with distributed leadership, everyone engaged in personal evangelism, and everyone working to contribute to the encouragement and exhortation of fellow believers to grow in their Christian walk. Nevertheless, I know that there are true born again Christians in even the most high-decibel, hip-hop friendly evangelical corporations . . . oops, I mean “churches” . . . that populate America’s cityscapes.

So I like to do ‘field trips’ to see if I can find a serious fellow or two who wants to get the Gospel out and wants to grow as a Christian, despite being addicted to “The Show.” My motivation is quite sincere. I’d love to team up with someone to do evangelism or to develop a mutually supportive friendship, even if he stays committed to his weekly program. That assumes, of course, that he understands – or is willing to learn – how to present the Biblical Gospel. Also, that he would be willing to engage in a friendship with someone who is not enamored with the super-star preacher that he loves, and will not write checks to fund the staged events that attract the multitudes every week. You might not think that such friendships would be so difficult to initiate, especially since gellies (evangelicals) love ecumenical inclusiveness and vocally abhor those who would separate from other Christians over doctrine or practice. But when the rubber meets the road, gellies separate from you in a heartbeat if you don’t see things their way. (Fundies do, too. They tend to get a thrill from separating.)

My wife and I visited this megachurch for six consecutive weekends and I attended a “men’s life group” meeting on six consecutive Tuesday evenings. (Disclaimer: It might not actually have been Tuesday, but I don’t want to give away too many clues.) For these six weeks I listened carefully to see if the Gospel would be presented in such a way that an actual lost sinner could say, “Oh, so that’s what the deal is! Now I’ve got a clear decision to make!”

The sixth sermon was intended to be a capstone. Every few months a major effort is made to baptize a large number of converts. This weekend was targeted accordingly and the sermon intended to provoke seekers and fence-sitters. They do baptize on other Sundays, but not as prolifically. This church’s expectation and policy is to get unbelievers into their services. They expect that every week they have many unbelieving visitors in attendance. So I know that they are taking their best shot to produce converts during the services.

Because this sermon was explicitly aimed toward an altar call and the baptistry, I paid close attention. Bottom line: I was horrified, although not surprised. You’d think that as much gelly and fundie warping of the Gospel as I’ve been exposed to, I would be jaded by now. Well, I’m grateful that I can still get offended in this area.

What strikes me is how much work these modern preachers have to do to avoid telling the simple Biblical truth. They love new terminology which seems similar in content to Biblical terms and concepts, but the differences are just enough to put the hearer in the wrong frame of mind – just enough to stay lost. Evangelicals are so “sophisticated” in this age that they can invent a new theology of salvation to convince the lost that he’s OK now, literally, “just come as you are.” No changes required. No worries. Back to the party. Sin, Judgment, Repentance? Ha! No need to use outdated words like those! In fact, you don’t need to find a party outside the church because we have a weekly rock and roll extravaganza that God views as “worship.” Designed by a professional “worship team” that stirs up the juices, producing an emotional experience akin to that of a rock concert. What a deal! It’s just too clever to be orchestrated by man. Ergo, it’s Satanic. “Hey, that’s the presence of the Holy Spirit!!” No, sorry to disappoint you. The principle found in James 4:4 excludes the Holy Spirit from such venues . . . but not other spirits.

The sermon was an exposition of Luke 20:9-19. For the most part the CEO . . . oops, I mean the Senior Executive Pastor / Teacher . . . did a reasonable job explaining the nuts and bolts of the passage. The issue is his application, which was clearly intended to get people converted and into the baptistry. Now, I have a lot of experience regarding how a lost sinner interprets Christian and pseudo-Christian messages, having talked to thousands of people 1-2-1 in street evangelism. Here are the main points a typical lost fellow would have picked up on in this sermon:

1. The goal is to have a relationship with Jesus . . . The word ‘relationship’ was repeated many times, so this must be a central point. The thing missing in my life is this relationship, so that must be how to become a Christian and go to Heaven when I die.
2. God has given me life and breath and expects me to respond with gratitude and righteous living. “What does God want from you? What does He want as a return on His investment? He wants you to live a righteous life.” “We should do right by nature, not by coercion. Is God getting the return He wants from your life?” . . . Well, that sounds fair. I should work harder to hold up my end of the bargain!
3. Regarding Jesus as the headstone in Luke 20:17-18 – “You will encounter Jesus Christ. One of two things will happen. If you reject Him, He will crush you or shatter you. If you embrace Him, He will become the cornerstone of your life.” . . . Sounds scary. But I’m not exactly sure how to “embrace” someone I can’t see.
4. To have a relationship with Jesus I must ‘surrender’ to God . . . Now, I know that ‘surrender’ is a metaphor for capitulation under attack. Is God attacking me? How to ‘surrender’ was not explained, but it must be that God is trying hard to get me to surrender.
5. God will forgive me for my failures, my mistakes, my mess-ups. God will give me a fresh start, a redo, a mulligan . . . That sounds great. I’ve had a good number of failures that discourage me. I could use some encouragement!
6. “A window is open for you to come to faith in Christ. You could decide right now to spend eternity in Heaven.” . . . Well, sure, I’ve got faith in Christ. I’m not an atheist, after all! And sure, I’d like to go to Heaven. Who wouldn’t?
7. God wants to enter into a covenant relationship with me, not a contract. In a covenant both are blessed. If I give Him my life, He will give me a new life . . . So I could bless God with my life. Well, it sounds like God really needs me. I should help Him out.
8. The specific act called for was to be baptized, right then. “Grab a towel. Surrender now.” . . . There were towels up front and the process was explained, they had clothes to change into, etc. The t-shirt all baptizees wore and got to keep had this message on the front: “There is more to life than me.” (Or something close to that.) High decibel music was played and sung throughout the extended baptismal time, including a song which featured the lyrics, “Salvation is here.” Wow, very emotional. I could just go with the flow and grab a towel.

Clearly, “closing the deal” in this church is getting someone into the baptistry. This megachurch is one of many “Christian Churches,” as in, “XYZ Christian Church.” They used to be called “Church of Christ,” but with the name change, it’s easy to claim that they are “non-denominational.” The “Church of Christ” movement was started in the early 19th century by Alexander Campbell and a few others who convinced a lot of Baptists and Presbyterians that the new movement represented true NT Christianity. I’ll let you look up the history yourself.

Historically, the semi-distinctive C of C doctrines include the idea that baptism is essential for salvation and that you can sin your way out of eternal life, once you had it . . . making it “temporal life,” after all. Modern C of C megachurches are sneaky regarding doctrine. They still hold to their historic idea of baptismal regeneration which is why they put such an emphasis on getting you into the baptistry. In talking with several church members, it is clear that they are fuzzy on these issues. When I point out that the Bible teaches that God saves when an individual repents and trusts Christ, and that the baptism water is a metaphor, a picture, a public demonstration of what has ALREADY HAPPENED in the heart and soul, they agree. Yet when they refer to their own conversion, they cite their baptism. When a relative recently resisted baptism, one fellow was quite distressed over it. When she changed her mind and scheduled baptism for two weeks later, he was quite relieved. But if you aren’t saved until you come out of the water, isn’t it dangerous to wait two weeks?!!?

Back to the sermon: Those 8 big points listed above . . . what a confusing mess! Just what is it that a lost sinner should do? Or think? Or decide? Or change? Or whatever? By the way, what was not discussed or explained included the following:

1. Sin: breaking God’s laws
2. An unbeliever is LOST . . .
3. . . . and one heartbeat from HELL.
4. Repentance from specific sins like selfishness, anger, drunkenness, lust, fornication, adultery, greed, foul language . . . you know, all that bad stuff that will condemn you at the Great White Throne Judgment, crimes on your specific record.
5. The Cross, shed blood, substitutionary atonement (Jesus died for me. I deserve condemnation. He didn’t. Etc.), the Resurrection, why Jesus came (to save sinners)
6. New birth
7. New creature
8. New road
9. Eternal life, “SAVED,” security of the born again child of God.
10. Baptism as a symbol for what has definitely happened in the heart / mind / soul

In the previous week’s sermon, the only mention of repentance was, “Repent from your sad condition.” Namely, repent from the bad circumstances your sins have put you in, as opposed to . . . Repent from the sins that condemn you before almighty God and that produce the havoc in your life.

It’s easy to respond to the emotional, music-drenched appeal, get baptized, and return to the same mess-ups (fornication), failures (selfishness in marriage or other relationships), and mistakes (any sin under the sun) that define the pattern of your life. But Hey! . . . At least you got baptized! Sure, you surrendered to the music and the emotional appeal of that winsome fellow up on the stage.

Are there born again Christians in this church? Certainly. But it’s hard to tell the superficial, worldly, still quite immature true believers from the superficial, worldly, immature false converts. One reason that people in this system are confused about Biblical salvation is that there is no ministry in this 10,000 member church to reach out to lost people with the Gospel. They call it “evangelism” when they reach out on community projects. Typical recent examples are:

1. Clean up a public school’s property. (A public school? Really? The center of indoctrination for your children in evolution, condom distribution, New Age philosophies, and socialism?!? I’m sure they are glad that their ENEMIES (Christians) help out!)
2. Buy shoes for orphans in the area.
3. Donate food and clothes to poor people (Many secular organizations in this area do that, I’ve noticed.)

Other publicly lauded areas of Christian service for the unsalaried laity include “usher / greeter” and “life group leader.” “Real” ministry is apparently reserved for the 150+ paid clergy on staff.

Now, clearly I did not search exhaustively in a mere six weeks, but I could not find any evidence of any church member – including the pastoral staff – who actually tell lost people how to be saved. In a 20-minute conversation with one of the senior pastors, I told him about my practice of going to college campuses and even walking down a sidewalk to pass out Gospel tracts and share the Gospel verbally. Shockingly (but not surprisingly), he was disdainful of such a direct approach. He made it clear that they didn’t encourage their people to do any such thing. It’s all about building relationships, you see. I assured him that I agreed that Christians should use relationships to open up the Gospel, but I found that I had some extra hours in my life to meet new people. In particular, there are a lot of college students with whom I will never develop relationships, unless I simply walk up to them, offer them a tract, and share the Gospel.

He didn’t have a response to that argument. I also noted that when you “practice” on lost strangers, you may be somewhat competent to preach with some clarity and conviction to those around you . . . those whom you really want to see in Heaven! You know, like your spouse, children, siblings, neighbors, co-workers . . .

I observed the dysfunctional results of this church’s commitment to “relational evangelism.” In the life group meetings the guys mentioned quite a number of troubled people in their lives. All kinds of problems. It was clear to me that those described are lost people, but the guys looked at the problems from a pop psychology point of view. One “needed meds.” Another was “making a lot of bad decisions.” Another “needs a professional counselor.” Another who lives a licentious lifestyle suffered from “her parents didn’t pay enough attention to her.” Another had an out-of-state relative whose spouse had just died. He indicated that the surviving parent was grieving severely . . . understandably so . . . but there was no mention of meeting in Heaven and no church in the survivor’s life to offer comfort. Ergo, the surviving parent is very likely not a believer, but there was no discussion of that.

People issues / behavioral issues are always spiritual at their core. When lost people act lost, don’t recommend professional counseling. Preach repentance and the new birth! When I brought this up in response to a sad tale in an early meeting, I met with a lot of resistance, spiced by the vehement remark, “I’M NOT GOING TO THROW A BIBLE AT HER!” That kind of comment is quite similar to a favorite of Gospel-haters who shout, “DON’T TRY TO CRAM RELIGION DOWN MY THROAT!” Are either of the two expostulations above characteristic of the born again believer?

I’m hopeful that some of these guys are real Christians. But once you get off the scripted lesson and get into real life, the Bible doesn’t seem relevant. The guys seem to live day-to-day within a secular worldview. All of these “relational evangelism” opportunities, but the thinking is to come up with pop psy tactics to reduce the pain. So just how is “relational evangelism” working out, pastor? If you’re committed to that approach, you ought to train your people to share the Gospel. But no, just tell everyone to invite their relatives and friends “to church,” and use “The Show” to do the hard work . . . to get them into the baptistry.

This isn’t about the C of C, or any particular brand of gelly megachurch. Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, part of the Southern Baptist Convention, doesn’t have quite the same doctrinal emphasis as XYZ Christian Church, but their watered-down Gospel makes false converts by the gazillions, too. As does Joel Osteen and Bill Hybels – who is much admired in this church.

When confronted with the Bible’s emphasis on the Great Commission as everyone’s responsibility, the guys agree . . . with the theory of that. It’s just never going to be on their Top 100 Priorities list. Look at it this way: In a month we could all list at least 100 distinct activities, some repeated: shopping, dinner with wife, going to work (many times), church service, life group meeting, watch football game, watch sitcoms, read newspaper, surf the web, text inanely, clear junk emails, fix car, wash dishes, do laundry . . . If something doesn’t happen in a month, it’s clearly not in your Top 100. I made explicit appeals to the guys to team up with me and give it a try. Most of the guys acted like I’d said something very unpleasant. The subject invariably turned quickly to the idea of organizing a Monday Night Football party and a whole host of other activities for the next 12 months . . . anything but personal evangelism. Even though every guy has loved ones that he knows are one heartbeat from Hell.

And this is a Christian church?

Nevertheless, in private conversations, two of the guys I’ve met responded and joined me for a day of 121 evangelism at a local campus. These are middle-aged guys, members of evangelical churches for decades, and have NEVER been trained to do such work before. It’s not hard. If you are born again and understand your own salvation, then I can train you in five minutes. Seriously. To get started with a basic presentation, at least. For a more comprehensive presentation, give me an hour to work with you. But consider that reasonably intelligent American Christians can be part of a “Bible believing” church for decades, a church that claims to be invested in evangelism and discipleship, and nobody learns anything. Wow. By the way, at this re-editing date, it looks like the two fellows who joined me once each, despite initial enthusiasm and good experiences on campus, have grown cold again. I’m sad to say that I don’t expect them to try again. Cold is comfortable, of course. What I can’t fathom is how they let their lost relatives go to Hell without warnings, pleadings, and blunt Gospel truth . . . not to mention multitudes of others in their own community.

Growing as a believer necessarily involves learning to contend for the faith and to be helpful to those who have strange objections . . . this engages the evangelist in a lifelong learning program. I’m still learning and thank God for that! I recently figured out a better way to challenge a pantheist who believes in reincarnation, and was thrilled to meet one on a college campus recently. I was able to help him see the inconsistency in his worldview . . . which opened the door for him to listen to the true Gospel. So I’ve tested the idea under “battlefield conditions” and hope to find someone else to help on the same issue. Great fun! Keep learning, keep praying, keep preaching, keep helping. And don’t get slurped up by the megachurches that put on a hot “Show,” but are clueless about evangelism and discipleship, filling their theaters with many false converts and a few ice-cold baby Christians.

– drdave@truthreallymatters.com

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