Monday, May 19, 2008

PREACH THE GOSPEL; PREACH THE WORD; PREACH THE LORD JESUS CHRIST!
...or preach nothing at all

declaring the good news of the gospel of grace

-Preach the Gospel-
For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of,
for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.
-1 Corinthians 9:16

We must all ask ourselves in the blogosphere, when a media firestorm is created by a Christian spokesperson, has it been because of ones faith in Jesus, standing strong for His truth, or heralding Christ and Him crucified; or some lesser issue? It's easy to attract a crowd. Spurgeon one time remarked: if you want to draw a crowd, pour kerosene on yourself, strike a match, set yourself on fire, and people will come from miles around just to see you burn. But that is not the purpose for Christian communicators is it... It is to further not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; it is also to apply His life-giving truth to any issue that may surface within the church, culture, media, school, work, and ones life personally. How can we guard against creating media attention counter-productive to a biblical worldview and the purposes of God? May I offer this simple solution for any of us in public ministry: let us continue to preach the gospel; preach the Word; preach the Lord Jesus Christ. Herein lies our mandate for ministry; and the cure for the sinsick soul.

I would like to begin by sharing with you the lyrics to a song, "My Sins, My Sins, My Savior", that I wrote for the "Desiring God" album a few years ago. I hope they will encourage you to keep the main thing, the main thing in ministry; and not to venture off into the fantasies of genome doctrine and a biological view of explaining and understanding the temptations and struggles of mankind with sin. The Scriptures are sufficient for all things pertaining to life and godliness beloved... I am a great sinner; but He is a greater Savior. Amen?

My Sins My Sins, My Savior
My sins, my sins, my Saviour! They daily battle me,
Deaf and dumb Thy servant is, save only Christ to Thee;
In Thee is all forgiveness, fully free abundant grace,
I find my hope and refuge, in Thine unchanging face

My sins, my sins, my Saviour! How great on Thee they fall;
Seen through Thy patient mercy, I ought forsake them all;
Their penalty's forgiven; yet their power suffers me
Their shame and guilt and anguish, they laid, my Lord, on Thee

My sins, my sins, my Saviour! What cost to Thee ensued
Thy heel bruised in temptation, no Devil could subdue
Thou wrestled in the garden; and prayed the Cup would pass
Thy sanguine sweat, Thou trembled yet, embraced His will at last

My sins, my sins, my Saviour! Thou perfect Sacrifice
Drained wrath's chalice to the dregs; Thy Father satisfied.
O Holy Lamb of Glory, High Priest, Lord God and King
We worship Thee with reverence, Thy matchless Name we sing

My songs, my songs, my Saviour! No grandeur theme shall know
They'll trumpet of Thy glory, to wretched man below;
Thy righteousness, Thy favor, stream from Thy throne above
Sustain the hearts my Saviour that Thou hast lavished with Thy love

(You can download this song from the AudienceONE website
at our online store or listen to it on today's blogcast as well.)



-Preach the Word-
I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus,
who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom:
preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove,
rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.
-2 Timothy 4:1-2

Paul Wasn't a Politician, but a Pastor
In every one of Paul's epistles, the Apostle never lost sight of what brings real and lasting change; what brings glory to God; and what transforms finite sinful man into a new creation... the gospel of Jesus Christ.

What follows, is a list of a few key verses I compiled from each of Paul's letters. You will see the gospel, the person of Christ, and/or the cross clearly represented in each of these texts. This was his divine weaponry in fighting the culture wars of his day. He did not lower himself to the pubescent pragmatic tactics of today's evangelical spokesmen. Paul lived in very dangerous and perilous times. Almost every city he went to establishing churches was corrupt and godless. His answer to moral depravation and the sinfulness of sin was simple, biblical, and birthed in the power the Holy Spirit: evangelize with the gospel!

What you will not find is a Pauline "strategery" for confronting judicial (dictatorial, kingly) activism; you will not find Paul encouraging the church to be "troublesome meddlers" to the governing authorities; you will not find a plan for cultural renewal or for reclaiming family values; you will not find an endorsement that sin resides as a matter of genetics, but of nature; you will not find him listing our religious rights and then asking the saints to unsheath their swords and do battle for our societal standing; and you will not find the church treated as a political ally encouraged to partner with nonbelievers to recover the semblance of morality so that unsaved people could remain unsaved, just as long as they live more morally and don't act "too much" in an unsaved manner. The Apostle would not be bothered with such trivialities, as today's evangelical architects of political pabulum and social reform have become. Fighting spiritual battles with carnal means was of no interest to this faithful soldier of the Lord.

My hopeful prayer is that these eternal words of truth will strengthen your hearts and minds in the "once for all delivered to the saints faith." It's time for the church to be the church once again!


-Preach the Lord Jesus Christ-
For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord,
with ourselves as your servants for Christ's sake.
-2 Corinthians 4:5

How Did Paul Confront a Pagan Culture?
Romans 1:14-17
“I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, "The righteous shall live by faith."

1 Corinthians 2:2
“For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”

2 Corinthians 4:1-6
“Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God's word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

Galatians 1:6-10
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel--not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

Ephesians 1:3-14
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”

Philippians 1:20-21
“as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

Colossians 1:6-15
“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.”

1 Thessalonians 2:2-8
“But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict. For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed--God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.”

2 Thessalonians 3:1-5
“Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. And we have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do the things that we command. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.”

1 Timothy 1:12-19a
“I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience.”

2 Timothy 1:8-9
“Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.”

Titus 3:1-8
“Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.”

Philemon 1:4-6
“I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.”


(all Scripture quotations are taken from the ESV-English Standard Version of the Bible
Crossway/Good News Publishers).

an encore presentation; originally posted 3/17/07

73 comments:

Jeremy Weaver said...

Great post Steve.
I have a couple of questions;
1) Why are the ECBer's trying to equate 'Political Activism' with 'Cultural Engagement'? It seems to me that 'Cultural Engagement' is what Christians do every day when the share the Gospel, live a Godly life, and help the poor, hungry, sick, and hurting. Am I wrong?
and,
2) Is your blog on Viagra?

ephphatha said...

Steve, when you say that Paul "did not lower himself to the pubescent pragmatic tactics of today's evangelical spokesmen," I'm not sure specifically what tactics you're talking about. However, it does seem to to me that Paul did use pragmatic tactics when dealing with outsiders. I don't have a Bible with me at the moment, so I can't give specific references, but there are three scriptures that comes to mind.

First, in Acts, he talks to the Greeks in Athens, appealing to a statue to an unknown god as a springboard from which to preach the gospel.

Second, he said that when he's hanging out with Jews, he lives as a Jew, and when he hangs out with gentiles, he lives as they do. He becomes all things to all people so he can win some.

Third, he admonishes one of the churches he writes to to be wise in how they act toward outsiders, making the most of every opportunity.

Now the fact that he doesn't seem to employ pragmatic tactics in his churches is likely due to the fact that he's writing to insiders. He's writing to people who have already accepted the gospel.

I have more to say about your post, but no time.

Sam

Sola Fide said...

Steve,

I've been lurking here a week or so, and really enjoy your blog, and appreciate the time you must be spending on it.

Just a quick observation -- the word "strategery" keeps coming up in your blog -- I can't find it in any dictionary. Do you mean "strategy"?

Thanks again,

Scott

Nathan White said...

Sam,

I’m not trying to speak for Steve, but I believe Steve means pragmatism as John MacArthur does in Ashamed of the Gospel:

"Pragmatism is the notion that meaning or worth is determined by practical consequences. The belief that usefulness is the standard of what is good. To a pragmatist, if a technique or course of action has a desired effect it is good. If it doesn't seem to work, then it must be wrong."

Never is Paul pragmatic, neither does he command pragmatism.

Paul appealed to the unknown god to destroy popular false ideologies (2 Cor 10:3-6).

Paul “became all things to all men” so that he wouldn’t offend someone by meaningless cultural practices.

Paul’s commanding to make the most of opportunities only implies for believers to be prepared to share the gospel, and to avoid the hindrances of this by needlessly offending or sinning against others.

The trendy, pragmatic direction the popular church is heading in basically says that the ends justify the means. For instance, Rick Warren writes in The Purpose Driven Church:

"Never criticize any method that God is blessing."

This kind of thinking basically says: “If people are being baptized because of our seeker sensitive messages, then that must be of God”.

This thinking undermines biblical commands for the church by placing popular trends as being of God. This I believe, is what Steve is hinting at.

Beyond The Rim... said...

We should not forget that Paul also demanded his rights as a Roman citizen when it served the purpose of the Gospel. Those demands were political acts and they greately affected the outcome of a number of his missions, including being the reason he was sent to Rome, which he did on purpose when he claimed the right to be judged by Caesar.

ColinM said...

I agree with your view. However, you are drawing on assumptions to support your claim. (mainly the assumption that are are called to do the work as Paul did)

Paul did the work he was called to do. If everyone is to follow the “Pauline strategery,” does that mean everyone is to travel from city to city starting new churches? Is everyone to leave a church after a few years to begin another? What about Timothy’s and Titus’s-should they abandon their call to remain behind?

The point is that we are called to service in the Kingdom of God, and the call is everything. Not everyone is called to do the work of Paul, although we are all called to do evangelism where we were when we were called, and where we go hence. Some may be called to denounce governing authorities and their nations. Jonah did it. In fact, the vast majority of prophetic OT history includes prophets railing against the godlessness of government and nations, calling for repentance. Is this “troublesome meddling”? 2 Chronicles 7:14 is in itself a call for cultural renewal and better societal values—from the mouth of God. But you are right that it is in who we seek, not what.

We need prophets to stand and be outspoken about the sins of our government…second. The church, first.

Bhedr said...

Nathan and Jeremy,

Great comments! Campi? I think your going to have to cut and paste to respond to some of these objections that have already been discussed in prior posts. Now I see the value in saving old comments.

ColinM said...

If you have addressed some of my comments, you can just point me to the post. I don't quite get this site yet. Are you a singer? People keep referencing your songs... This place sort of reminds me of a radio show by Jim Rome (Romy)...

I am sorry if my comments rehash old posts, or if they are not considered good. I am not a professional blogger, nor do I spend more than an hour or so reading anything on the internet. I just found your blog through a link on Sojourner's site, and I have found your posts recently very thought provoking (and in line with most of my thoughts as of late). If my comments 'need direction' let me know and I will move on. I am not looking for praise from men, nor traffic on any site, just some keen logic on certain positions you take that will help me...But I will not waste my time if this is a site of Camp apologists not willing to engage in some discussion...let me know.

ephphatha said...

Nathan, thanks for the clarification. I'm closer to agreeing now, but I think it would further the discussion if Steve would be specific about the tactics he thinks are inappropriate. Maybe he's done so in other blogs. I'm new here.

Sam

2Tal said...

I appreciate what Steve seems to be alluding to in that most Christians today are not willing to lay their lives down for the gospel. This along with the fact that righteousness and moral character has been set aside will prove catastrophic. Unless we see revival again in our churches we are headed for serious judgment.

That said I feel like a broken record in asking for some understanding regarding scriptures previously mentioned that speak of defending the rights of the weak and rescuing the weak from the slaughter. I want to know what our boundaries are. If the "political realm" has no relation with our calling to do justice and love justice I would like to know how that is. I am quite honestly ambivalant in how to respond to Steve. I agree on the whole but I'm not convinced he is completely balanced. Maybe I'm still not fully understanding where he's coming from. (I could be stubborn and dense I admit it.) But if he is dead on track in all his words then let God be true and myself a liar. I'm open to someone out there giving me a good thorough repudiation from time to time.
If the above I mentioned occured (revival),Christ's church would have Sprit led wisdom in all things. I guess that's the problem.

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Shawn L said...

I pray that God would encourage us to be faithful stewards of the word and show others the Gospel.

Please God let it begin with me as many times I am ashamed to speak of the Gospel to the World as I am afraid of the consequences. God let me see the glory of you taking these dead hearts to hearts after You... May I really believe the scriptures as you have called them. Let me not be ashamed or scared, but trust in your absolute power to save sinners.

Unchained Slave said...

As an outsider, looking in:
It 'appears' to me that Steve is saying 'turn your eyes to Jesus'. He is apparently concerned that 'political activism' is replacing evangelism. He has not said, that I can find, 'Do not do what is right in the eyes of the Lord' concerning civic duty...He has said - 'Don't use the pulpit to further a political agenda'.

If I am correct in this assesment, I whole heartedly agree. Do exercise civic duty and responsibility...Do not use the pulpit to further a political agenda, use the pulpit to preach the Word!

SJ Camp said...

"Unchained slave" hit the nail on the head.

Biblical engagement in the culture (doing our civic duty) is good and proper; using or rallying the body of Christ as a political organization from the pulpit and elsewhere to promote a political agenda absent of the gospel and the authority of the Word - is prohibited and is the issue.

Thank you for helping clarify.
Grace and peace,
Steve

ephphatha said...

I agree with that to an extent. However, there are some political issues that are also moral issues. If something is a moral issue, then I think it's appropriate to talk about it from the pulpit. Abortion is one example. Even though abortion is a political issue, I don't think it's inappropriate to address it from the pulpit, because it's also a moral issue.

Sam

Breuss Wane said...

I don't believe Paul "demanded" his rights as a Roman citizen. To use the word "demand", IMHO, is to read too much into texts that show Paul appealed to his citizenship.

I also do not believe Paul's pragmatism is our contemporary pragmatism. Paul was all things to all men on Mars Hill, but we too often ignore that Paul preached repentance, judgment, and Christ's resurrection at the Areopagus. That kind of content is jettisoned in our futile quest to be "relevant".

Paul preached Christ's resurrection because the only "help" he had to offer pagans was Christ himself.

Bhedr said...

Amen Chad.

ColinM said...

We weren't putting pressure on you because of the overall theme of your posts (as unchained pointed out)-we were trying to get you to clarify certain statements that seemed to vaguely allude to further inaction by us as stewards of this nation. More than one poster agreed with your overall assessment, but asked for clarification.

Statements like this one pulled from the tweaked Colorado Springs post were on our minds:

or “the moral decay and slippage in our nation demands that we strong arm politicians to create legislation that moralizes our land” is defeatist against the very purposes and plans of God

Resolved and learned some more about the blogospere I think Tozer and Ravenhill would find as foddder to rail about-their voices heard if you tilt your head just right like an AMen chorus to the witness of the Spirit. Thanks...c

Unchained Slave said...

Points & Counter-Points aside;
There are only two 'medicines' that will 'cure' the moral and spiritual decline in this Country (and the world).
1. Churches - need to start feeding 'solid food', not milk from the pulpit.
"For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil." Hebrews 5:13-14

2. True Evangelical revival - Reach the unsaved. The only way to 'Change' immoral behavior is not through legislation, but by the individual being 'transformed from within' (Romans 12:2, "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."

Yes, there are issues that are 'hot-button' issues politically, that do have a place in the pulpit - it is how they are presented. Condemn the sin, love the sinner...
Jesus taught us that in John 8:1-11, finishing the with the phrase; "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more."

Changed hearts are going to have more impact on recovering from the moral and spritiual decline than all the 'political rallies'
combined.

Blessings, and Peace

Bhedr said...

Unchained Slave,

You hit the nail on the head again.

By the way thank you for your service in this country in risking life and giving away your limbs to keep us free. A most expensive and price and very precious to me.

SJ Camp said...

colinum asked further clarification on: “the moral decay and slippage in our nation demands that we strong arm politicians to create legislation that moralizes our land” is defeatist against the very purposes and plans of God"

Very good!

By “strong arm” techniques, I mean going beyond the normal citizenry duty provided by law in a free society and that which supercedes Christlikeness and our greater duty to the gospel. Voting, writing our congressional leaders, participating in public debate or forums, town hall meetings, etc. is all good and right for believers to speak to the issues of the day from a biblical worldview. Even printing materials for the church at large to inform them about these issues, encourage them to act biblically, to pray for their government officials (federal and state) and then to act in a manner consistent with the gospel in being salt and light to their neighbors.

What is not proper and consistent with Scripture and goes to intimidation/strong arming is when Dobson took out full page ads against several senators last year who failed to vote as he wanted them to on a constitutional amendment affirming traditional marriage that basically said, "this senator is for the destruction of the family..." That is intimidation and a strong-arm technique that is not biblically sanctioned, un-Christ-like, is biblically prohibited (1 Peter 4:15) and not in keeping with good citizenry. If they would have taken out the same ads against Dobson and company, James would have called “foul” and “bad form” on them and possibly tried to label such ads as religious persecution. You can’t have it both ways.

(BTW what Dobson was supporting was a poorly designed amendment by the way... it didn't support a biblical view of marriage and so vague that it could have allowed for by lack of specificity incestual unions).

This is where the ECB agenda crosses the line in a dramatic way. This is not faith in action; but fear looking for resolve unbiblically that actually distrusts the sovereignty of God in the affairs of government. This is an example when the vote doesn't go their way; they intimidate rather than call for prayer. Prayer, the gospel and the Word are the most powerful weapons we have in the culture wars. The question is: why aren't they using them?

Hope this helps a bit more. I appreciate your comments on this blog in this discussion.

Yours for the Master's use,
Steve
2 Cor. 4:5-7

Breuss Wane said...

Good citizenry? Yes. "Organizing the voting bloc" no.

Organizing the voting bloc is outside of the "world is not my home" life the Christ through His scriptures call us to.

I agree with Campi.

Jeremy Weaver said...

Chad,
'I'm just a passin' thru,
My treasures are laid up,
Somewhere beyond the blue!'

~Mark said...

"Biblical engagement in the culture (doing our civic duty) is good and proper; using or rallying the body of Christ as a political organization from the pulpit and elsewhere to promote a political agenda absent of the gospel and the authority of the Word - is prohibited and is the issue."


~Amen! There is far too much looking to the White House for our help than looking to the One Who decides who'll sit in the White House, and has the whole of creation in the palm of His hand.

Michele Rayburn said...

Colinm,

I understand what you're saying about the life of Paul. Every Christian's calling is unique with regard to the way in which Christ lives His life through us, and yet our calling, as the Body of Christ, is so much the same.

The bottom line is that all Christians are called to have Christ live His life through us, so that He will sovereignly accomplish His will in us and through us.

Isaiah 55:11 says, "So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it."

And Philippians 2:13 says, "...for it is God who works in you, both to will and to do for His good pleasure."

In these truths we can rest and rejoice at the same time.

In His Love,
Michele

Ted Gossard said...

Campi, Earlier I commented on a blog you wrote after this one. Thanks for your clarifying comment here.

I too am tired of "the sky is falling" kind of feeling I often pick up from the "religious right".

I agree and think we are stooping to fighting as the world does, rather than, through God and his weapons pulling down strongholds.

Thanks again.

charlescameron said...

Steve, I've been acquainted with your music for years.
Just found your blog through doing a search on the phrase, 'Christ in all the Scriptures'
I wondered if you might be interested in my blog - 'Christ in all the Scriptures' - www.christinallthescriptures.blogspot.com

john said...

Steve,
Thanks for the encouragment. It's always helpful to remember that Christ is our ultimate hope - not activism or political involement.

Of course, that doesn't mean that we shouldn't be involved in those things. The churches Paul planted took care of widows and orphans, shared all they had with each other and most likely others that had need.

They got involved enough in politics that someone was able to take the gospel all the way up the ladder to Constantine - who either accepted Christ or at least sanctioned Christianity for one reason or another for his own ends (depending on your perspective).

And Paul DID engage in philosophy on Mars Hill. He framed his arguments within that culture's beliefs. "You believe in many gods - even an unknown own. I'm here to reveal that unknown one to you."

Also - as a presentation of the gospel, this leaves out many elements that modern evangelicalism would insist on. Where's the "1-2-3" step plan of salvation? Where does he invite people to "ask Jesus into their heart"?

Paul basically said that there is one God. He will one day judge the world through Christ, so we should turn to Him - He is close to us. We are His offspring. We can "grope for Him" and find Him.

So where did all the rest of the modern, western, evangelcal gospel come from?

Where's the part about having to believe that the King James version of scripture is the "inerrant word of God"? Or the part where we must believe that all of the poetry and stories throughout scripture are literal and must be accepted as such?

What Paul lays out doesn't seem easy. "Groping" for God doesn't sound near as streamlined as Romans Road or the 5 Spiritual Laws.

john said...

One quick addition:

Unchained slave said: "Don't use the pulpit to further a political agenda"

I agree to some extent. But aren't we also called to protect the weak from the strong? Aren't we called to remember the widow and orphan? Aren't we supposed to stand up for "the least of these"?

It would make sense that sometimes - in the living out of that mission - that we would need to make some statements that might be construed as political.

I agree that we shouldn't trade the gospel for these issues. But I think they can exist in a healthy way.

While I'm not in favor of churches telling the churches who to vote for, I am in favor of them becoming involved in their community in real ways.

Denise said...

"...Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to lightthrough the gospel "--Amen. This is the ONLY thing that brings life and immortality (eternal life) to light--the living Word of God.

I have stood amazed and disheartened to watch "solid" Christians be so fearful of the "opposition" that they put their name next to a political candidate who stands against the very issues they say they support (like pro-life and no special rights for homosexuals). Their pragmatism is nothing less than fear of man rather than of God.

I often think of Daniel when these discussions come up, because he was right in the middle of a truly pagan culture, yet never compromised his faith in God. He would rather go to the furnace or lion's den than disobey God's commands. He truly loved God and strived to obey Him; he was a man of integrity and God honored that.

Daniel rose to a position of power, but he was willing to give it all up at any moment because His King wasn't Nebuchadnezzar or Darius...it was Jehovah, to Whom he had to give account..and Whom he loved from the heart.

Terry Rayburn said...

Denise wrote: "Daniel rose to a position of power, but he was willing to give it all up at any moment because His King wasn't Nebuchadnezzar or Darius...it was Jehovah, to Whom he had to give account..and Whom he loved from the heart."

Well said. He is our King.

One of the saddest points in the Bible is when the people who had been schooled for their entire lives in the Lord as their King, cried out before Pilate, "We have no king but Caesar!"

john said...

Denise said: "I have stood amazed and disheartened to watch 'solid' Christians be so fearful of the 'opposition' that they put their name next to a political candidate who stands against the very issues they say they supportlike pro-life and no special rights for homosexuals"

I think the reason many Christians end up standing with people who support abortion or gay rights is that those are not the only Christian moral issues on the table.

What about the neglect of the elderly and poor? What about the desire to have a living wage for unskilled workers? What about trying to be peacemakers instead of warmakers? What about the desire to be good stewards of the environment that God has entrusted us with?

All these are no less Christian issues than abortion or gay rights. But it seems like many conservatives have tunnel vision.

john said...

Denise said: "I have stood amazed and disheartened to watch 'solid' Christians be so fearful of the 'opposition' that they put their name next to a political candidate who stands against the very issues they say they supportlike pro-life and no special rights for homosexuals"

I think the reason many Christians end up standing with people who support abortion or gay rights is that those are not the only Christian moral issues on the table.

What about the neglect of the elderly and poor? What about the desire to have a living wage for unskilled workers? What about trying to be peacemakers instead of warmakers? What about the desire to be good stewards of the environment that God has entrusted us with?

All these are no less Christian issues than abortion or gay rights. But it seems like many conservatives have tunnel vision.

mcaugust said...

Within the last year, my husband and I fervently searched for a church that preached the full gospel and preached it consistently. It was a disappointing journey when so many of the churches were what we dubbed "focus on the family" churches.

Paul proclaims (Romans 10:13,14,17):
"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?...So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."

With the present state of the modern church preaching a social gospel, we can take confidence in knowing that our God is sovereign. Our Shepherd will not lose a single sheep.

john said...

McAugust-
So you want your pastor to stand up every week and preach the good news to you? You want a salvation sermon every week? Didn't you already do that? Aren't you gonna get bored?

Once we are believers, I think we need to go into the culture and begin to make a difference - what you would dub the "social gospel". We should take care of widows and orphans. We should protect the weak from the strong. We should spread the gospel not by just talking, but by loving people.

People who do this in a Godly way can really make an impact in the culture - George Williams (YMCA founder) and Martin Luther King Jr come to mind.

I don't believe we're called to sit in church week after week and hear the gospel. What use is there in that?

john said...

McAugust-
So you want your pastor to stand up every week and preach the good news to you? You want a salvation sermon every week? Didn't you already do that? Aren't you gonna get bored?

Once we are believers, I think we need to go into the culture and begin to make a difference - what you would dub the "social gospel". We should take care of widows and orphans. We should protect the weak from the strong. We should spread the gospel not by just talking, but by loving people.

People who do this in a Godly way can really make an impact in the culture - George Williams (YMCA founder) and Martin Luther King Jr come to mind.

I don't believe we're called to sit in church week after week and hear the gospel. What use is there in that?

mcaugust said...

John:

"I don't believe we're called to sit in church week after week and hear the gospel. What use is there in that?"

Do you attend a church where everyone is saved? If so, wow! what a church! You will find Christ proclaimed throughout the Bible beginning in Gen.1:1...I want someone who expounds His Name all the time...not tell me how to live. If I am truly one of His, I know how to live. No, I don't get bored. I become more and more humbled by the fact that He chose me, a wretched sinner undeserving of His saving grace.

Basically, it comes down to different strokes for different folks. But you never know when one of the "boring old gospel" sermons might be the day when someone's ears are opened to hear!

gigantor1231 said...

John

Perhaps you do not understand what McAugust is saying when she says;

"Within the last year, my husband and I fervently searched for a church that preached the full gospel and preached it consistently."

OK, I know that you do not believe that the Bible is the inerrant word of God, as you said;

"As for the way you guys view scripture, I believe you worship it instead of God. I believe our scripture was written by men seeking God. I do not believe it is perfect - and I don't believe it claims to be. I think it's useful."

The whole bible is the whole gospel and what she is talking about is a church that equips the saints through the un adulterated word of God! Expository teaching, meat rather than milk all of the time.
That being said, why is it that you assume that we never help the poor, the widow and the orphan? If someone goes to church on Sunday it does not mean that they do not help others, perhaps that is just your narrow experience you have had with someone so you assume that everyone that has a different belief than you must be selfish or lazy. I do not know if that is how you feel but that is the insinuation that you make in many of your posts.
As for the individuals that you mentioned as Christian role models, Martin Luther King Jr. was a great social reformer, but that does not mean that he did anything for the cause of Christ! Perhaps he did preach the Gospel in the bible and address mans sin problem, I do not know that is not what he is know for. Social reform was not what Christ was about, he was about spiritual reform, he came to save the spirits of men. Through the redemption of their spirits and the transformation of their minds the redemption of society could take place one person at a time. As for George Williams, from what I have read about him, he was a very committed Christian and the reason that he formed the YMCA was so that young men would be able to escape the clutches of the world, learn the bible and be able to focus on God and deny the flesh.
Christ was absolutely into feeding, clothing, healing etc... but he said;

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? 37 For what can a man give in return for his life? 38 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Mk 8:34). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Bring them food and blankets and the Gospel, and when you run out of food and blankets give them the Gospel. The Gospel will provide more hope and more life than any material thing will. If you just take blankets and food and give them no Gospel what you do is deny them the most important thing for all life. If your idea of the Gospel is just the social redemption of man and you care not for his spirit then the gospel you hold to is anathema.

mcaugust said...

Thank you gigantor for the clarification.

I Cor.1:22-24 "For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God."

I Cor.2:1-2 "And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified."

john said...

James 2:14-20
"
Dear brothers, what's the use of saying that you have faith and are Christians if you aren't proving it by helping others? Will that kind of faith save anyone?

If you have a friend who is in need of food and clothing, and you say to him, "Well, good-bye and God bless you; stay warm and eat hearty," and then don't give him clothes or food, what good does that do?

So you see, it isn't enough just to have faith. You must also do good to prove that you have it. Faith that doesn't show itself by good works is no faith at all--it is dead and useless.

But someone may well argue, "You say the way to God is by faith alone, plus nothing; well, I say that good works are important too, for without good works you can't prove whether you have faith or not; but anyone can see that I have faith by the way I act."

Are there still some among you who hold that "only believing" is enough? Believing in one God? Well, remember that the demons believe this too--so strongly that they tremble in terror! Fool! When will you ever learn that "believing" is useless without doing what God wants you to?

Faith that does not result in good deeds is not real faith.
"

I say that evangelicals aren't doing great with the poor. In San Antonio where I live, I believe that is a true statement. I see plenty of new church buildings being constructed. I see high-tech programs and reaching out happening to those who would be desirable.

I also see a population of thousands of homeless people - many of whom are mentally ill and really should be in some sort of institution. I see about 10 churches in town really serving those people to any real degree. Of those 10 churches, most are catholic or liberal.

I can't speak for everywhere - and only God see our hearts. But that just doesn't seem right to me.

Arthur Sido said...

John,

As a pastor I don't have the luxury of assuming that anyone listening to my sermon is saved, so I preach like no one listening to me is. I am pretty sure that any given Sunday someone is out there that is not saved, and so yes I do proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ EVERY SINGLE SERMON, whether I am preaching in the book of Acts on Sunday night or in book of Genesis looking at God's covenant with Abram on Sunday morning. The Gospel that saves sinners, every single sermon every single time.

gigantor1231 said...

John

Once again John, you assume something and then you make a blanket statement. While I agree that without works faith is dead, or it probably never existed, I also know that there are many Christians out there that do things and never let anyone know what they are doing, they don't do their works of righteousness for men to see, they don't go to the town square and shout hey look at me. You also need to understand that we are in a crisis in this nation because we have turned our back on God. People do not believe his word and so the consequence is what you see on the street today, STD's out of control, teen pregnancies and abortions, the drug epidemic, especially meth, open and proud displays of immorality and other displays of rebellion. This is the world we live in, created by a Godless materialistic selfish society.
As I have said before though, all of these things are just symptoms of the main underlying problem, SIN, and the only answer to SIN is the Gospel. It is very simple if you can see, but if you can not and you just keep treating the symptoms then death will soon come.
I do not claim to be a evangelical, or Baptist, or Calvinist, or anything else other than a Christian. I follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. I believe that God created man and that man rebelled against God in the Garden of Eden. After the rebellion though God did not give up on man, he promised that a deliver would come and crush the head of our adversary and restore life and fellowship with God the Father. God was not slow, as some consider slowness in fulfilling his promise of a messiah, he took about 2,000-3,000 years. In that time he laid out a model, a picture or replica of what he would do using Israel and his law, for those that have the spirit of God they understand the beauty of this plan of how God would redeem man. And then, just at the right time, He sent his son, the only begotten of the Father into the world, the world did not know him though and those that already belonged to him did not recognize him either, Emmanuel, the light to the world, the word of God. He was not discouraged though, even though he had denied all his royalty and splendor to come and dwell with these filthy little men, he had a purpose, a direction and there was only one way that he could achieve that objective, death. If the rulers of this world would have understood his plan they would have resisted him in everyway, but they did not understand. So, as his ways are higher than ours he simply moved on, showing signs and wonders along the way, bringing healing along the way to those that were down trodden, but the healings, the miracles, these were not why he came, he had one purpose and one purpose only and he determined to fulfill it. So he set his face to Jerusalem and when he got there we killed him, but he said do not hold this against them for they know not what they do, he bore our sins for us, all of them. He became despised by his own Father, as one cursed whom men look away from. Then he died, it is finished. But of course it was just the beginning, through his death he brought freedom to all those that would receive him, those that believe. He led captivity captive and then he sent his Gift to men, the seal of his Holy Spirit.
So in a nut shell that is the Gospel, the thing that man needs to come to before they can know him. When you give out a blanket it needs to be told to those who receive, when you feed someone it needs to be told to those you feed, and when you have nothing of substance left to give you deliver to them the Gospel.
I tell you this knowing the likely reception that it will get from you but I hope that it means something to you, if it does not, I pity you. If you know another Gospel then it is anathema.

john said...

"anathema"?

Wow. That's a great word. That's an ominous word. That's a fire-n-brimstone, beat you over the head with my King James word! Kinda like "ICHABOD"! That's my other favorite.

I'm not saying that you don't do good things for people. This is not a personal attack. And I'm glad to hear you are a follower of Jesus Christ and resist labels and pigeon holes. That's a good thing.

I also never said that we shouldn't ever speak the gospel. I just think we should follow Jesus' lead.

So, how did Christ confront a pagan culture? To the adulterers, He picked up a rock and....no....wait...

OH! That's right. He forgave them and chastised the people who were eager to throw stones.

And to criminals and liars he called down fire from....uhhh...well...

He forgave them too.

Well, to the unlovely and outcast - the pagan Samaritan who was not part of God's Kingdom, He refused to even look in her...hmmm...let's see...

He accepted her and treated a woman - a pagan Samaritan woman at that - with love and respect.

So - I agree that people need the gospel. God is the gospel. God is love. To love people sacrificially in the best way to preach.

You can stand and talk with your mouth for years and years of sundays. But I believe people like Mother Theresa touched more people for Christ without ever needing to walk someone down "Romans Road".

I'm a firm believer that people "don't care what you know" until they "know that you care".

I'm afraid the reason people aren't receiving the gospel - the reason our nation is going to hell in a handbasket (sorry not as eloquent as you said it) is because the Church in America DOES NOT LOVE THE LOST!

We want to change them. We want to deliver the good news and have them pray a prayer. We want them to change their minds to think like we do and change their actions be more like us.

But we don't want a relationship with them. We don't want them to come and walk with us - especially those homeless ones or the ones that smoke and drink. We just want them to clean themselves up, be better members of society and show up to church every sunday for an hour to hear Aurthur preach another salvation sermon.

The gospel - delivered without love or relationship - will not be accepted. But then we blame the gospel itself. After all, it's a stumbling block right?

I'm very afraid that we are all the stumbling blocks.

john said...

Aurthur -
Clarification is in order. I don't mean to seem like I'm picking on you. I reread my last post and it's seems like I'm knocking ou.

You do what God leads you to do. There's no formula. I certainly have nothing to say one way or another - I don't even know you.

If God wants a salvation every week - you give it. And I pray that hearts and minds will be opened and that those under your shepherding will be whole-hearted, sold-out followers of Christ.

Blessings.

gigantor1231 said...

John

a·nath·e·ma [ə náthəmə]
(plural a·nath·e·mas)
n
1. object of loathing: somebody or something that is greatly disliked or detested and is therefore shunned
2. religion ecclesiastical curse: a curse from a religious authority that denounces something or excommunicates somebody
3. general curse: any forceful curse or denunciation
4. religion somebody or something formally denounced: somebody or something cursed, denounced, or excommunicated by a religious authority


[Early 16th century. Via ecclesiastical Latin , from Greek , “something devoted to evil,” earlier “something devoted,” variant of anathēma “votive offering,” from anatithenai “to set up.”]
Microsoft® Encarta® Reference Library 2004. © 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

I just thought that the word more fully encompassed the feeling of God towards those who preach another gospel. You would be the one to take it and beat it over your head. It was not meant to describe you unless you preach another gospel! If you do preach another gospel then it is God's chosen word for you and you need to take up the dispute with him.

You asked; "How did God confront pagan culture?" He told them the truth, along with feeding them and healing them. He did not just give material things but he exposed what was at the root of peoples lives, their sin. With the repentant and contrite, he forgave and gave them new life. Whether the religous or the common man, he treated them all the same when they came to him in sincerity. When they came with alterior motives he confronted them with all the harshness that they came to deal to him, but he did it in truth! He was no respector of men.

You say "the Church in America does not love the lost." I find it interesting that you lay the blame at the feet of the Church when you are so limited in your view of the Church. You focus on someones building project and assume that they must not be giving, when in fact you have no idea. I would agree that there are those that are greedy and selfish among the believers in the body of Christ, but they are not of the Church, they are simply among the church. The Church is fulfilling the will of God, they want to please him and they are. I think that before you lay the blame at the feet of the Church you should find out who the Church really is!
As for wanting to change people to the way that we are, that is not what Christanity is about. It is about truth and light and living in it. When someone is living a lie we need to tell them the truth and perhaps, by the grace of God, they will live by it, but if not then we have done all that we could do to deliver the truth. If we do not deliver the truth in our acts of charity then we have failed. Christ did not wait for people to give him the right to give them the truth, he simply put out for all to see, it is available to all.
You say that you will show me your faith by the good works that you do, and that is good. The problem is that the object of the faith that you speak of is the works themselves. You stand on one side of the chasm that seperates you from God and you lack what it takes to get to the other side. Works are simply the evidence of Faith and if your Faith is not in the word of God, the Word = the Way = the Truth = the Life = Jesus and He is the only way to the father. You said;

"As for the way you guys view scripture, I believe you worship it instead of God."

We do not worship it instead of God, we do not worship print or pages. We do worship the Word who dwelt among us and He is the perfect representation of God in every way, He is Immanuel, God dwelling among us. And this is where we part ways, it is where you and I differ. This is where you are exposed as what you are, you hold to a false teaching, a false worldly doctrine. I do not know the state of your heart before God but what you say is plain and that is that you hold to a gospel that is outside of the word of God.

john said...

Gigantor-
I believe that much of the trouble our nation faces is because of the Church's lack of involvment in the culture at large. I think this verse applies to us:

"If My people, who are called by My Name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
2 Chronicles 7:14

I don't believe the Church in America is humble. I believe we are wicked. I believe that to a large extent, we are trusting in ourselves instead of in God.

These are generalities. Of course, that may not represent the whole Church.

As for me believing a different gospel - you just don't have enough information to say that dude. You read a few posts on a blog and proceed to pass judgment on everyone. You really must stop that. I exhort you in Christ to cut that crap out!

I believe in one God - Father,Son and Spirit

I believe in Jesus Christ the only begotten

I believe that Jesus was God's last and best offer at a restored relationship with Him

I believe that Christ lived a sinless life and was crucified in my place

I believe that He was resurrected and sits at the right hand of the Father

I believe that through His gift, we can experience a restored relationship with God that will last forever - in this age and all the ones to come

I believe that there will come a day when Christ will set everything right - a day of judgment - and that we will be judged by our relationship to Christ and by our works

If that's a different Gospel than Christ brought, we definately DO have to part company.

donsands said...

john,

Why do you believe these statements you made? Just wondering.

If I can be so bold to ask.

I have actually enjoyed reading your debate with the others here. I agree with gigantor on much of what he has said, and I like your heartfelt concern to reachout.

Captured! said...

Let us make love our aim. That is the way outsiders know we are Christians and that is our duty to reach the lost, to care for their eternal lives, and to not forget that we were once lost and dead in sin. No matter the cost.

gigantor1231 said...

John

With regards to the particular scripture that you quoted;

"If My people, who are called by My Name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
2 Chronicles 7:14

it is a wonderful scripture but you pulled it out of context entirely. It was directed to King Solomon and the nation of Israel at the time of the building of the temple of God, it is not directed at the USA. He is not obligated to heal our land, his ways are higher than ours and what ever he chooses to do is right and just. Don't get me wrong, it would be wonderful if God would forgive our nation and heal our land, but this scripture does not hold out that promise to us, it was specifically for Israel at that time.

What I said about you was based on your own words, definitive statements regarding the word of God. You can deny them if you want but it is what you have said, I simply told you what I saw. To be quite frank with you, since you do not believe the word of God is what it says it is you have no authority in using it! As I said I do not know the condition of your heart before God but your words speak for themselves. Even your most recent post refers to the works centered gospel that you prescribe to;

"I believe that there will come a day when Christ will set everything right - a day of judgment - and that we will be judged by our relationship to Christ and by our works"

As Christians we have already passed through judgement in that we were judged once according to the shed blood of Jesus Christ, his atoneing sacrifice did it all. He took upon himself our sins that we might have life, this, of course, only applies to those who are true believers. While he died for the sins of the world and his grace is extended to all, faith is the gift through which grace is applied. Not everyone has the gift of faith. Of course faith is not some magic charm but it implies a object that is behind it that makes it what it is, the object that true and valid faith is directed at is only Jesus Christ, there is no other name under heaven by wich men might be saved.
With regards to works, our works will be judged but they have nothing to do with salvation. Our works will be judged by fire to test the motive behind them, were they done out of a Christ centered motive or a selfish motive. Some will be as wood, stubble or hay and some will be as gold, silver or precious stones, they will either stand the test of fire and remain or they will be burned up, but those that did the works will be saved, they may smell of smoke but they will be saved. Salvation is by God's grace alone, it is totally unmerited and according to his good pleasure.

To quote you again;

""As for the way you guys view scripture, I believe you worship it instead of God. I believe our scripture was written by men seeking God. I do not believe it is perfect - and I don't believe it claims to be. I think it's useful."

and;

"I believe that there will come a day when Christ will set everything right - a day of judgment - and that we will be judged by our relationship to Christ and by our works"


As I said before, your words are what betray you. You do not believe the word of God, you believe it is a book written by men and it is 'useful.' So what we here is the word of John when you speak and you derive your authority from your experiences and your tried theories. I am sorry but there is no authority in that type of teaching. You speak the word but it is empty when it comes from your mouth or pen because there is nothing behind it, it is lip service. If your salvation is not rooted in the word of God and the work that he did on the cross, none of your work is good enough, then I am afraid to say that your soul is in peril, as are the souls of those that you teach what you believe! Yes, these are hard words, but better blows from a friend than the kisses of the enemy!
If we must part ways because of this then so be it, I hope that one day your eyes are enlightened to the truth of the word of God and that you know true salvation.

john said...

Gigantor,
We are not saved by believing the Bible is perfect. Give me a verse. Please. We are not saved by having everything right.

"Since you do not believe the word of God is what it says..."

The thing that you don't realize is that when scripture speaks of the Word of God, it does NOT mean the King James version that we have in our hands right now. That didn't even exist when these books were written.

The Word of God is God's interaction with mankind. The Word of the Lord came to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God gave His Word to Moses. Just do a quick search through the OT and see how many times the "Word of God" comes to people. To simply equate our bible with the "word of God" is a simplistic and uneducated view.

The Word of God is certainly perfect. Our bible certainly is not. There are spelling errors and gramatical errors and ideas that don't translate well between cultures and languages. There are copying errors. And not all scripture is equal. The last half of the last chapter of Mark doesn't appear in about half the ancient manuscripts. It appears in your bible with an asterisk note saying as much - check it out.

Jesus is God's Word - in fact He's God's last Word. He's the last offer. He tried to speak to us through nature. Then through the law. Then the prophets. Christ is the Word of God.

Paul writes to Timothy that:
"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."

It's useful. It's not perfect. It's not exclusive. Nowhere does it say that God never speaks to anyone outside of this revelation. Nowhere does it claim to be totally perfect in every way.

(Now of course, you have verses that you've been taught DO say that, but I believe you're simply misinterpreting them).

So, even though I believe that whole list of stuff, I'm still not saved enough for you? Hmmm... I wonder how the theif on the cross got into heaven without believing the "unadulterated 1602 King James version"?

It's what we believe about Jesus - not the Bible - that will matter. None of the guys in scripture had our canon and they did OK.

YOU are preaching another gospel, friend. Paul preached Christ crucified - the hope of glory. You add to that gospel with your own interpretations of scripture and your own preferences.

Are you like the pharisees who glory in setting the bar so high that only they could seem to reach it? Are you interested in keeping people OUT of heaven - not inviting them in?

gigantor1231 said...

John

You are a true artist at twisting the words that I have left here. I find it interesting that you immediately assume that what I use to study and interpret the word of God is english, although I am sure if I had the very Gospels or Epistles themselves that you would not accept them as truth.
You do not believe that God is sovereign and that he has kept his word for us? That simply speaks to the fact that you neither know him or trust him. I do believe that you do have some knowledge of the word but it seems that is all that you have. Here is what the Bible itself says about it's wisdom and who could know it;

Mt. 13: 10-17

10 And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?”
11 He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. 13 Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says:
‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,
And seeing you will see and not perceive;
15 For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.’
16 But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; 17 for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.
The New King James Version. 1982 (Mt 13:10-17). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

1 Cor. 2: 6-16

6 Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. 7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But, as it is written,
l “ What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—
10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.5
14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16  “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (1 Co 2:6-16). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

I would be glad to print this out in the greek for you but I think that you will find that the english is accurate in this case!

You said;

"We are not saved by believing that the Bible is perfect"

If the word is not perfect then what part or parts can we trust? Should we let you choose? As I have said before that is what you do, pick and choose, what ever fits your need or desire. The fact is, you do not believe that God is sovereign in all that he does, you choose to limit God, you have another agenda and the God of the Bible does not fit into it. Let God be true and all men proven liars, that is the bottom line.
For some reason you are obsessed with translations. I never brought up translations, what is better or best, who is right or wrong. God is sovereign and he is more than able to keep his word, his printed word!
Does believing the word save us? Yes. Eph. 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God; Heb. 11:6 For without faith it is impossible to please Him; Rom. 10:17 So faith comes from hearing and hearing by the word of Christ! You have to believe the Word of God is true in order to be saved, without it any faith that you have will not be in the one name under heaven by wich men are saved, Jesus Christ.
I honestly do not know where else to go from here John. You are either tremendously deceived or you are a liar, I would hope the former rather than the latter. You seem to know some of the Bible but you do not believe that it is the word of God, so that pretty much leaves us no common ground. I hope all goes well with your good works, and I pray that someday God will open your eyes to the truth.

Captured! said...

The Word of God, the Holy Bible is pure and without error, regardless of men who wrote it. They did not write of their own volition, but by the power of the Holy Spirit that compelled them. However, is seems there are some translations that are less accurate than others.

The written word in context can still be applied to our lives today and especially to this culture! Its not only for the culture to which it was directed. At times, the men of the Bible speak literally, other times poetically, and other times in ways less immediately understood, as in parables, meant to be read/heard and understood with the help of the Holy Spirit. Often spoken to provoke thought and speak into the culture at that time, as it speaks still, through time barriers, into this present age. Isnt much of our debate in not recognizing the various ways God teaches and speaks through His Word to us.

We are called to engage our culture and to evangelize...the word of our testimony and a changed life and heart is proof positive that God exists and is greater than us. Unbelievers want to see that. I like theological debates as much as anyone, except where it lacks love and a willingness to truly understand where others are coming from. A word of admonishment can be most effective, in turning hearers to truth rather than quick or hurtful accusations.

There will be all types of believers in heaven from differing tongues, tribes and yes, denominations...but, we will have the essentials in common, imprinted on our hearts and our lives of those who are His own.

gigantor1231 said...

Yes, there are translations that lose the force of the Greek or Hebrew language but to deny that the Bible is God's direct word to man is to deny the hope given to man! While Christ coming to us was God's offer to a way of reconciliation to himself towards man the written word is his equal representation of that offer. One of the great passages of the Bible is John 1 where Christ is the Word of God, He is his message to man in the flesh and the Gospels speak to that, as well the epistles confirm and are the application of the Gospels to the Church then and today. To say the word of God is nothing but a letter written from man is Post Modern teaching and a lie.

John said;

The Word of God is God's interaction with mankind. The Word of the Lord came to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God gave His Word to Moses. Just do a quick search through the OT and see how many times the "Word of God" comes to people. To simply equate our bible with the "word of God" is a simplistic and uneducated view.

In other words folks, accept this teaching and accept that God has not been sovereign in keeping his word. The scriptures as a whole are a untrustable doctrine once this position is taken and the foundation is destroyed, I hope that this is obvious to all here!

John said;

Paul writes to Timothy that:
"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."

It's useful. It's not perfect. It's not exclusive. Nowhere does it say that God never speaks to anyone outside of this revelation. Nowhere does it claim to be totally perfect in every way.

This particular scripture, 2Tim 3:16, is a good example of how the english language can lose it's impact in translation from the Greek and it underscores the reason why one needs to be vigilant in the study of the word. If possible it is always good to know Greek or have resources available to help; The word that John has chosen to hang his doctrinal hat on, 'useful', is a weak synonym of what the greek word actually is; STRONG'S

5624 ὠφέλιμος [ophelimos /o·fel·ee·mos/] adj. From a form of 3786; GK 6068; Four occurrences; AV translates as “profitable” three times, and “profit + 2076” once. 1 profitable.

Strong, J. (1996). The exhaustive concordance of the Bible : Showing every word of the test of the common English version of the canonical books, and every occurence of each word in regular order. (electronic ed.) (G5624). Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship.

A better rendering of the word is profitable. Is this error or simply a matter of choice that the translator must make when choosing synonyms? Obviously it is a choice. The better choice is profitable. However this does beg the point that it is misleading to take one word and derive your whole interpretation of scripture on it. The act is either of pure ignorance or a intentional effort to torture and twist the word of God. As I stated before I hope it is the former and not the latter lest you be numbered among those in Romans 1, those who knowingly suppress the truth.
Mk 16:9-20 is a interesting passage of scripture and it is true that it is not included in many of the earlier manuscripts, however what is more important is its consistency with rest of the Bible, this comparison can also be held for Jn 7:53-8:11. Does this take away from the sovereignty of God in keeping his word for us, it does not in any way. It will be interesting in time to see how God will confirm his word to us through some archeological dig as he has recently done with a discovery of a portion of Mark in Qumran 7Q7, I believe this is the portion of letter that was recently discovered placing the date of the writing of Mark at a earlier date than originally thought, prior to the destruction of Jerusalem. (I could be wrong on the number, I do not think so though)
My point in all of this is to simply state that God is sovereign with his word as he is with all things in this life, even if it be the smallest sparrow falling to the ground or the numbering of each and everyone of your hairs, He is sovereign. To deny this places control in the hands of man and is a pure fabrication.

2Peter 1:16-21

16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory,  “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (2 Pe 1:16-21). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

The choice is clear here, either we believe that the written word of God is of no personal interpretation and is directly from God himself, or it is a fallible letter from the hands of fallible men. John is calling us all out here, either we are uneducated fools that follow the Bible, or we are of the educated and wise of this age, those that disparage the word of God.
I am by no means the most eloquent when it comes to the presentation of this information and there are those that have a much higher degree of education in the archeology and languages of God. I would hope that they would perhaps clarify what has been said here or even correct. It is not important to me that I am right but that the truth is what is known!

Captured! said...

Paul confronted culture as a humble man who b/c of his vast knowledge, vowed to preach Christ and Him crucified. He upheld the Word of truth, often quoting OT while making parallels to the New. In case I was unclear in a prev post, the Word of God is indeed infallible, pure, holy and without error. I merely meant that some translations/translators are better and more accurate than others. I am thankful for godly teachers and preachers who devoted their lives and efforts to correct interpretation and application of God's Word. I am always edified at COT :>

john said...

"As I have said before that is what you do, pick and choose, what ever fits your need or desire."

You do the same thing. You pick and choose.

Do you cut the hair on the sides of your temples? Does your wife wear makeup and speak while in the sanctuary?

People pick what they're going to stand for. Some pick to stand against abortion and gay rights. Others pick to stand against poverty and human rights.

Every one of us must look into scripture and with the help of the Spirit - hear what God is saying to us.

There are as many translations as there are people involved in this activity. God is a personal God. He didn't make robots.

And that scripture in 1 John that you speak about is all about one thing - love.

I think that's the key. If we love God with all our being and love others more than ourselves, I think that's all we can do. We seek Him with everything that's in us. We don't settle for easy answers.

You may think I'm totally wrong. That's cool - I'm really not out to please you. But if you're so convinced, I will assume that you'll be flat on your face crying out to God to intervene on my behalf. Thank you in advance.

john

gigantor1231 said...

John

You are correct, I have been praying for you that you would come to know the truth of God.
As for picking and choosing, I do not pick and choose, I study the word of God in a diligent manner, I do not rely on translations or teachings of others to reveal truth to me, I go to the original languages and look at them in order to discern and understand what it is that God would have for the New Testament believer. I do not disrespect the proper teachings of others but I do test the teachings by holding to the standard of the word, I test the spirits. I also study the Old Testament and gleen from the wisdom that God has placed there, I learn from the victories and mistakes of the saints of the past. I do not pull things out of context, I respect the word of God and I understand that it is much to important to treat litely, I try not to respond out of emotion so that what the word of God says is not influenced by what I say.
I know that knowledge is not the most important thing either, love is and that is what holds it all together but I also know that if your doctrine is wrong, especially critical teachings such as the ressurection, the virgin birth, the pre-emminence of the word of God, if these are compromised then the one who claims to Love does not know what Love is or who it is!
I know that you do not care if you please me but you better care if you please God. You have made some very definitive statements regarding his word and you will be held accountable for that. You said;

First, let me say definatively that if God creates even one person who does not have a chance at heaven, that is unjust.

God sets the rules for "just and unjust" - not me. My values are formed by those conveyed in scripture. If I did that to someone, I would be sinning. God is either just or He is not. You can't say His version of just is different from the one He asks of us - that in itself is unjust (living above your own law).

Here you define God by your own ideas and thoughts. You need to understand that you are the clay and he is the potter, you do not turn to him and say, what have you done? He will just smash you and toss you into the trash heap! I do not know what you what you think of God but you do not appear to have to high of a view of him.
You have also said;

I could list all the scriptures I use as a point of reference, but frankly I'm lazy. Beyond that, I think it's pretentious and and a waste of time. For every scripture I list, you'll have one to contradict it. We all know you can make it say whatever you want it to.

If your relationship with God was important to you, if the truth was important to you then you would not be lazy. This is serious stuff and should not be trifled with. Presenting the word of God would not be a waste of time if you studied it and did not twist it and distort it with your own personal worldly philosophies. You are the one that makes the statements that you do, and you offer little if any support, other than you say it is so. The foundation that you stand upon is definitely shifting sands.
I do not say these things litely or in jest. I speak out of Love in that I would hope that you find the truth of God. I do not know the eternal state of your heart before God, as I have said prior to this. You continue to say that I judge you as unsaved but I never have, I have simply stated that you twist and distort the word of God, the things that you say are false. The word of God does say that if you know him then you will know the truth, so, you have that to contend with. As I said before, I am praying for you that God would reveal his truth to you.

donsands said...

Truth is something that I rejoice in.

I thank the Lord for opening my heart, so that i can know the truth.

gigantor1231 said...

It is true that the Gospel is the story of God's love for man, His proof of how much He loves us. It is also true that it was never intended to be soft sold. God commands man to change now and his call is urgent, He does not command the sinner to think about it!
The following link leads to a classic message that communicates that urgency, the urgency that should be built into every Gospel message.
http://www.ccel.org/e/edwards/sermons/sinners.html

Marcia said...

Two things, if y'all are still around.

1. From Galations: For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God?
pture is God-breathed thing. But let's just look at the bane of women's existence, Titus 2.
Now, I thought we could do nothing to gain God's approval. I thought that all of our efforts are "filthy rags."

I understand that true faith produces fruit, but I didn't think that our own efforts would please God.

2. I've been following the whole conversation between John and Gigantor. I feel like a tennis ball, ping-pong, back and forth. First John makes sense, but then so does Gigantor.

My question for anyone who might have any idea of an answer is, why would God reveal His Word to me on scraps of parchment and scrolls in languages I don't read?

How am I supposed to know what's applicable in my suburban American life?

cyd said...

Dear Marcia,

I’ve been following the dialogue here as well. Here are some scriptures to help answer your two questions…

You asked, “why would God reveal His Word to me on scraps of parchment and scrolls in languages I don't read?”

This is the wonderful fact of it all: God HAS reveal His perfect, holy Word to us!

John 1:1-4
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him, was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.”

John 1:14
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

2 Peter 1:16-21
“For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, ‘This is My beloved Son’ with whom I am well pleased,’ (see Matt.17:5; Mark 9:7, Luke 9:35), we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention to as a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

Hebrews 4:12
”For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing the division of soul and spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

It is a LIVING Word from a LIVING God.

As far as language goes, a good concordance such as Strong’s will help with understanding the meaning of the Hebrew (OT) and Greek (NT) texts. There is nothing as wonderful as studying the Word of God. Get into it! :)

You might consider having a careful look at the piece Steve put up by Thomas Watson about how to read your Bible...it is excellent.

Your next question:
"How am I supposed to know what's applicable in my suburban American life?"

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

God speaks to His own through His Word. All of His word is applicable to us, no matter where we live on this earth. It’s all of His grace and mercy, for our good and His glory.

Do you know Him, Marcia? And does He know you?

John 10:27
"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me."

I am praying for you!

Cindy

john said...

Marcia,
Don't worry - if God won't reveal scripture and its meaning to you easily enough, Cindy and Gigantor certainly will ;I

I understand your confusion. Scripture is not easy. The search for God isn't easy and I agree it's not to be soft-sold. In fact, the genuine article is not sold at all.

It's important to read scripture. Use a version that you can understand. Then, pray and ask God to help you understand it.

It's OK to read footnotes in study bibles or commentaries to help you make sense of it if you're having trouble. Just don't begin to think that those are definative things. Those are just someone's opinion. Be sure to pray and ask God to help you understand.

We'll know that we're onto something when we begin to change from the inside out - becoming more like Christ. When we're thinking more of others than ourselves. When we're convicted of our sin - particularly pride (Christ hates that).

But don't become frustrated if it isn't as easy and clear-cut as some would have you believe. I don't believe there's any formula or 5-step plan you can follow.

Life is a messy thing. To truly find God requires all of our heart, mind and strength. When we focus all of those to finding Him, He will be found.

Peace.

Carla Rolfe said...

A most timely repost. Thank you Steve.

ann_in_grace said...

Exactly. It is not the matter of what they want to hear - there is already a multitude of that - but what they need to hear. And what one needs does not taste good, especially when it is supposed to cure you.

This song - well, it makes me weep. But it is a good sign. Thank you.

Marcia said...

Thanks for your answers to my comment.

To truly find God requires all of our heart, mind and strength. When we focus all of those to finding Him, He will be found.

Or so you say. And yet, here on only one blog are people discussing who truly HAS found Him, and how it shows, and who is mistaken.

While on other blogs (and even in the comments section here) other people are commenting about how everyone else is mistaken, and all of them truly believe they are seeking God and know His will.

???

Paul said...

I've just posted a viewpoint similar to yours I think - against gay marriage.

My own viewpoint is quite different. I find there is no rational argument against giving homosexuals full and equal rights. And there is no scriptural argument against it either.

Just arguments against it that purport to be based on scripture.

After moderating my present discussion thread, I'll be posting about this. Thanks for a thought provoking article.

strammel said...

Steve,

I like much of what you say. However, I wonder if we would even enjoy the freedom we do have if Christian's had become involved in government. I am not saying that all the founding fathers where true Christians, but there is not denying that many where.

What about William Wilberforce, do you think he was in God's will in being in government.

Shane

DaWildBoar said...

Steve
Very good indeed. I will be sharing some of this material with our weekly pastors prayer time.

Thank you,
Robert

Hayden said...

John,

I suggest that you pick up a copy of "Why We're Not Emergent By Two Guys Who Should Be". It is an excellent book that answers many of the questions you are positing.

If I didn't know any better I would think that Kevin DeYoung was posting to get people to read his book ;)

All,

I actually recommend this book to everyone who reads this site. It is easy to read as well as fun.

SJ Camp said...

Hayden
Great recommendation! Thank you brother.
Campi

SJ Camp said...

Robert
Haven't heard from you in awhile. I am glad this post was helpful to you and thank you for your encouraging words.

It's the gospel, it's the Word and it's the Lord Jesus Christ! Nothing else really matters when it comes to content for the pulpit does it?

Steve

littlegal_66 said...

Steve--

Your Luther quote from Theses #14 is also applicable here. Great how some of the selected theses match the current post(s).

(Synchronized blogging?) :-)

Thanks for this.

--Steff

born4battle said...

"Now I want to make clear for you, brothers and sisters, the gospel that I preached to you, that you received and on which you stand, For I passed on to you as of first importance what I also received – that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised4 on the third day according to the scriptures. . ." 1 Corinthians 15:1, 3, 4.

Isn't everything else, like being a good steward of the planet, feeding the poor, caring for widows and orphans merely outgrowths of that which is of 'first importance'? these days, many of the 'outgrowths' are presented as the gospel. In the broad sense, they are indeed 'good news' but not the gospel preached by Paul as the gospel message unto the salvation of the sould.

standrews said...

A while ago, I left a comment, mentioning my "Christ in all the Scriptures" blog. Here's a link to it - Christ in all the Scriptures.