Saturday Sampler: May 13 — May 19

IMG_2187Andy Stanley continues to undermine the authority of Scripture, this time by teaching that Jesus and the apostles “unhitched” Christianity from the Old Testament. David Prince of Prince on Preaching refutes this ridiculous notion by writing A Response to Andy Stanley: Jesus and the Old Testament, What God has joined together, let man not separate.

For a more subtle response to Andy Stanley, wander over to The Cripplegate  to read Clint Archer’s post, Why Preach the Older Testament? Without mentioning Stanley directly, Archer clarifies why neither Testament should be “unhitched” from the other.

To demonstrate that Obedience Is Better than Sacrifice, Michelle Lesley draws from two instances in the life of King Saul to illustrate how churches in the 21st Century can disobey God even while thinking they worship Him. She makes a point worth considering.

Now I understand why the standard evangelical quip about God giving second chances rubs me the wrong way. Scott Slayton of One Degree To Another argues that God Doesn’t Give Second Chances by appealing to the Gospel and to God’s grace.

Refering to a Spurgeon quote that he saw on Twitter, Denny Burk has A word about criticism from anonymous sources that applies well in this age of social media. I’d been considering changing the name on my Twitter account from DebbieLynne Kespert to The Outspoken TULIP. Although The Outspoken TULIP is linked to my name, Burk’s article leads me to keep my real name, lest anyone think I’m leveling anonymous criticism when I confront worldly ideas.

I like Eric Davis’ post, Should I Stay Home from Church When Life Gets Hard? in The Cripplegate. It addresses the latest notion that emotional pain excuses people from corporate worship. It also admonishes pastors and elders to order church services around the Lord, explaining how doing so effectively ministers to all members of Christ’s body.

Leslie A admits it. It’s Not Just a Book! probably won’t be her most popular article on Growing 4 Life. But I agree with her that it’s probably one of the most important things she’s ever written. Therefore it saddens me that it won’t be popular.

Adding to my article on journaling (which I published Wednesday), Elizabeth Prata shares Thoughts on introspection and journaling in The End Time. She brings interesting insight into the discussion, causing me to wonder if more needs to be written about this topic.

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Saturday Sampler: October 9 –October 15

Square Face LadiesReformation21 has an article called What Andy Stanley Has Forgotten that addresses the heart of this controversy simply and Biblically. Its author, Richard D. Philips, says what so many of Stanley’s critics (myself included) should have been saying all along.

What’s so wrong about seeker-sensitive evangelism? Greg Pickle provides helpful insight into this question by writing The Consequences of an Easy Gospel for Parking Space 23. His assessment should sober us into presenting the Gospel in its entirety rather than crafting it into something easily marketed.

Commenting on both last Sunday night’s debate in particular and this year’s presidential election in general, Denny Burk writes Last night’s debate and my burden going forward. He highlights the reality that professing Christians can no longer expect the surrounding culture to support our commitment to Christ.

A blogger who identifies herself as Insanitybites22 writes a blog called See, there’s this thing called biology…  I read it from time to time. I’m not sure I always understand her essays, and I  don’t always agree with the ones I do understand, but her recent post, Preserving the Dignity of the Oval Office, makes an excellent and unambiguous point. Let’s start admitting that the  problem begins with us.

The author of One Hired Late In The Day also weighs in on this year’s dismal election with her article, Adopting the Correct Perspective. She gently reminds us that the United States of America is only a temporal place for Christians, encouraging us to remember that we belong, ultimately, to a heavenly Kingdom.

The movie War Room has been out for quite some time, but in her blog post, Stand Firm: A Review of War Room on the Satisfaction Though Christ blog, Kristen reminds us of three theological problems with the film. She examines each of her concerns by going to Scripture, which gives us an excellent example of how to practice discernment.

In Portraits of Superstition: Kismet Kate and Karma Counterfeit (The Devious Twins), Jessica Pickowicz of Beautiful Thing educates us on the origins of these popular, but unbiblical, concepts.

Elizabeth Prata of The End Time once again addresses a critical matter with her blog post, Did Jesus come to judge the world or to save the world? Context, context, context. Using verses that our detractors frequently quote out of context in their efforts to silence us, Elizabeth helps us understand the importance of reading an entire passage or chapter rather than isolating single verses to wield as proof-texts. Ladies, please don’t miss this essay.

 

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Saturday Sampler: October 2 – October 8

rose-sampler-silkNot being a mom, I simply don’t possess the qualifications to blog about child-rearing. Since The Outspoken TULIP  ministers specifically to women, however, I must realize that most of you actually are moms, and many of  you moms have sons. So I’ll refer you to Michelle Lesley’s wonderful post, The Mailbag: How Can Christian Moms Raise Godly Men? What, you ask, qualifies Michelle to address this topic? Well…she has five sons!

Continuing her series on superstitions, Jessica Pickowicz of Beautiful Thing gives us Portraits of Superstition: The Deal-Maker, which pretty much nails one of my sinful proclivities. Thank you, Lord, for Your grace to show me where I need to repent!

People in discernment ministry often (very often) get criticized for being negative. Writing for Berean Research, Amy Spreeman tackles these critics as she responds to the question, Why don’t you recommend GOOD teachers for a change? She encourages us to develop our  own discernment skills.

Praise God! Finally, someone has voiced the truth that this concept of “five love languages” encourages selfishness and manipulation. Tim Challies, in Those Exquisite Forms of Love That Do Not Speak Your Language, comments on the dangers of love languages.

Denny Burk gives a precise and thoughtful response to Andy Stanley’s contention that educated people won’t accept the Bible’s authority without augmenting evidence. In his essay, The self-authenticating power of the Bible, Burk demonstrates that God’s Word has intrinsic authority regardless of whether or not people accept it.  His point cannot be overstated!

In her book review Unglued, Rebekah Womble regretfully points out the doctrinal problems with Lysa TerKeurst’s latest book, Unglued. I think most of us are like Rebekah in that we really want to like Lysa TerKeurst, but problems like calling outbursts of anger “mistakes” instead of sin and presenting the Gospel as little more than a means of self-improvement forces us to reject her teaching.

Michelle Lesley has hit a grand slam with her blog entry, Band-Aids vs. Chemotherapy: Why Suffering Women are Drawn to False Doctrine and 7 Things We Can do to Help. If you only read one item in this Sampler (I hope you’ll read more), please make it this one!

The writer of One Hired Late In The Day boldly declares that America is experiencing God’s judgment. I quite agree! Her essay, Glorifying God For His Wrath, powerfully explains why the Lord has begun judging this rebellious nation.

Can We Enjoy Heaven Knowing Loved Ones Are In Hell? Tim Challies answers this difficult question by reminding us of our limited knowledge.

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“The Bible Says So” Really IS Enough

Shadow BibleAndy Stanley claims to accept the inerrancy of Scripture in his article, Why “The Bible Says So” Is Not Enough Anymore, but he clearly indicates that he rejects its sufficiency. He contends that people with college or post-graduate educations require more sophisticated evidence in order to embrace Christianity. To make this point, he writes:

Appealing to post-Christian people on the basis of the authority of Scripture has essentially the same effect as a Muslim imam appealing to you on the basis of the authority of the Quran. You may or may not already know what it says. But it doesn’t matter. The Quran doesn’t carry any weight with you. You don’t view the Quran as authoritative.

Close to half our population does not view the Bible as authoritative either. If you’re trying to reach people with an undergraduate degree or greater, over half your target audience will not be moved by the Bible says, the Bible teaches, God’s Word is clear or anything along those lines. If that’s the approach to preaching and teaching you grew up with and are most comfortable with, you’re no doubt having a good ol’ throw-down debate with me in your head about now—a debate I’m sure you’re winning. But before you chapter and verse me against the wall and put me in a sovereignty-of-God headlock, would you stop and ask yourself: Why does this bother me so much? Why does this bother me so much—really?

Since when, I would ask Andy Stanley, do non-Christians determine whether or not Christians can appeal to the Bible? I agree that non-Christians regard the Bible as being on par with Islam’s Quran, but their false perceptions don’t negate the reality that God’s Word has inherent power that no other book (including the Quran) can rightfully claim.

As a young Christian, I learned that Scripture has power precisely because it’s God’s Word rather than a book written by fallible human beings. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the writer of Hebrews wrote:

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. ~~Hebrews 4:12 (ESV)

If the Word of God is really that powerful, how can the skepticism of non-Christians limit its power?  Sure, without the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, non-Christians will reject the Bible’s authority, but that rejection doesn’t mean that God’s Word suffers from impotence. The truth of God’s Word merely exposes the lies of human reasoning (see Romans 3:4).

The rejection of God’s Word doesn’t mean, in other words, that God’s Word has failed. In the limitations of our human thinking we simply don’t know if the Holy Spirit wants to use Scripture to bring a person to faith, plant a seed that will result in conversations years down the line or confirm a unbeliever in judgment. But we can rest assured that the Lord never wastes His Word.

10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
    and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
    giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
    it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
    and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. ~~Isaiah 55:10-11 (ESV)

The denigration of God’s Word is not a postmodern phenomenon, and Christians don’t meed to supplement it any more in the 21st Century than they did in the First. Evangelism depends on God’s Spirit ministering through His Word, not on intellectual cleverness or pragmatism. We can quote the Bible with confidence, resting in its authority regardless of whether or not others accept that authority.

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Thanking Andy Stanley

Bible ShadowOf course I have extreme problems with Andy Stanley and his seeker-sensitive approach to church. Perhaps at another time I can detail some of my objections to his underlying assumptions about evangelism, as I believe those assumptions lie at the heart of his outrageous pronouncements and compromising behavior in recent years. Whether or not he’s genuinely saved is not for  me to determine, but I do believe he’s deceived in some areas. I also believe he’s leading people back toward liberalism.

Yet I praise the Lord for Andy Stanley’s attempts to minimize the Bible.

Yes, you read that last sentence correctly, and no, I haven’t changed my view  that Scripture provides the bedrock for the Christian faith. The resurrection, certainly, is the decisive event that validated Jesus as the Son of God. But we can’t know about the resurrection, and much less its implications, apart from the testimony of Scripture. The apostle Paul made it clear, in fact, that he proclaimed the death, burial and resurrection on the basis of God’s Word (1 Corinthians 15:3-5).

So please don’t misunderstand me as suddenly defending Andy Stanley’s indefensible comment about taking the spotlight off the Bible and putting it on the resurrection. His double-speak may sound comforting to the unbelievers that he seeks to attract, but I firmly stand on the necessity of using God’s Word to proclaim the Gospel to the lost Romans 10:17).

Stanley’s misguided minimization of the Bible, however, has forced evangelicals back into a needed conversation about the Bible’s central place in both evangelism and the life of each Christian. This conversation can’t be neglected! The Holy Spirit has used Stanley’s ridiculous remarks to alert Bible-believing Christians to the absolute importance of clinging to the Word of God as our foundational authority.

Regretfully, time doesn’t allow me to take you through even a few Scriptures demonstrating the centrality of God’s Word today, and tomorrow I won’t have access to my computer early enough to blog. But in coming days, I anticipate showing you why Christianity cannot be separated from the Bible. The unavoidable relationship between the two requires thoughtful examination that shouldn’t be hurried.

I relish this opportunity to explain how the Lord uses His Word as His primary tool of both evangelism and sanctification. As we look at this pivotal topic, I pray that the Lord will use this controversy to help all of us appreciate God’s Word more deeply than ever.

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Saturday Sampler: September 25 — October 1

48a60-fourjoyfulladiesContinuing her new series in Beautiful Thing, Jessica Pickowicz gives us Portraits of Superstition: The Pagan Prayer Warrior as an encouragement to pray in ways that honor God.

As my readers know, I am no Beth Moore fan. But when I saw that Elizabeth Prata had written an essay called Jude’s dreamers and Beth Moore’s necromancy for The End Time, I wondered whether or not Elizabeth might have gone too far. Um…no. But click her link to  the YouTube video, and you’ll see that her critique of Moore is chilling in its accuracy. Ladies, Beth Moore is a very dangerous false teacher.

Fred Butler of Hip and Thigh has been doing a series on Christian liberty based on the apostle Paul’s teachings on the subject in 1 Corinthians. His forth installment, How Idolatry Ruined Israel, helps explain the difference between liberty and compromise.

The Biblical Woman blog, for this week’s Theology Thursday column, features Is It Greek to You? Interpreting Romans 16:7. Besides making a strong case for the complimentarian perspective on this controversial verse, Candi Finch demonstrates responsible Bible Study practices. I recommend her article for both reasons.

In  a blog post written for Parking Space 23, James Street lists 5 Things I Want You To Do For Me When I’m On My Death Bed. I question his understanding of Philippians 1:21 (though I recognize that his seminary degree makes him more knowledgeable in Bible interpretation than I), but I find his list very intriguing and practical. It challenges me in contemplating my own death.

John Ellis, writing for PJ Media, boldly names people that he considers The 5 Most Dangerous Wolves Preying On Christians today.  While I’d have a slightly different list, he definitely brings up people who are serious threats.

The author of One Hired Late In The Day answers the question What Is The Gospel? Yes, it’s basic Christian doctrine,  but we all need reminding of these foundational truths more of than we think.

 

 
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Saturday Sampler: September 11 — September 17

Five Easter Babies

I wasn’t going to read Erin Benziger’s Remembering 9/11: Fifteen Years Later, God Is Still Sovereign in Do Not Be Surprised, but praise the Lord that I did! Her words are sobering and convicting, but also encouraging as they exalt God’s providence and sovereignty.

In a similar vein, Ligon Duncan writes PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE — Should Christians Worry in These Times? for Mississippi Christian Living.  Appealing to 14th Century history, he helps us see how God used calamities like the Black Death to set the stage for the Reformation. History can deepen our appreciation of God’s sovereign providence.

In a brief Bible Reflection, Mark McIntyre of Attempts at Honesty shows us how Obedience, trembling and embracing characterize a healthy relationship with the Lord.

Please, if you have any inclination to use Scripture as a means of self-improvement, consider Elizabeth Prata’s essay, Why the therapeutic gospel is another gospel, in her blog, The End Time. Evangelicals have played with psychology far too long, and it’s led us to develop a gospel much different from the Gospel of the Bible.

In his blog post, These Words Shall Be On Your Heart, Gabe Hughes addresses Andy Stanley’s infamous assertion that “we need to take the spotlight off the Bible.” Pastor Hughes reminds us that the Word of God provides the very foundation of Christianity. At the end of his post, he lists further resources on various problems with recent statements Andy Stanley has made.

Eric Davis of The Cripplegate writes Decision Making & “I Have a Peace About It” to challenge the subjective approach many Christians take in determining what to do. He encourages us to trust the sufficiency of Scripture.  The very Scripture that tells us to battle against our flesh.

Rachel has returned to blogging at danielthree18, and her post, Theology Thursday: Psalm 46:5 helps Christian women correctly apply a popular, but widely misunderstood verse by putting it in context.

When Michelle Lesley gets riled up, look out! I’ve already shared Evangelical Misogyny and the Oppression of Christian Women on Twitter and The Outspoken TULIP  Facebook page, but I’m including it on the Sampler because it’s that important! Ladies, we don’t need fluffy “Bible studies” that dumb down the Word of God. Praise the Lord for women like Michelle who encourage us to eat the meat!

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