From My Archives: In Eve’s Footsteps

3d383-ladies2bstudy2b03My schedule is a little different this week, therefore diminishing my time for blogging. Please enjoy this article  from May 2016:

Eve’s fatal encounter with the serpent and subsequent rebellion in eating the forbidden fruit is such a familiar narrative to me that sometimes I fail to comprehend all of its implications. But an article in the January/February 2016 issue of Modern Reformation sent me back to the text in Genesis 3. Simonetta Carr’s article, “East of Eden,” tells the story as if through Eve’s words, comfortably familiar (as I said) until I reached  this paragraph:

As wonderful as the Garden was, the serpent convinced me we could have much more, right then and there, without waiting for God’s timing. The serpent appeared to be our friend, but he was strange. He could speak our language and seemed to know more than we knew, but I didn’t give it much thought then. It was an enticing prospect of having our eyes opened, of being like God and knowing more than what God had revealed.

The story continues as she heartwrenchingly wrestles with the realization that Able died and Cain suffered banishment as a result of her rebellion in eating the fruit, and I don’t mean to misrepresent the point Mrs. Carr intended her article to convey. At the same time, the paragraph I just quoted sparked my thinking concerning women and our attraction to mystical adaptations of Christianity.

Specifically, the closing phrase of that paragraph captured my attention.”Knowing more than what God had revealed.” Was that Eve’s motivation? Had Satan promised her revelation beyond the words of God, insinuating that what God had spoken to her and Adam wasn’t sufficient? Fascinating questions! I went to my Bible to verify this interesting possibility. Genesis 3:6 had my answer.

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. (ESV)

That phrase, “the tree was to be desired to make one wise,” gave me confirmation Simonetta Carr had indeed offered a profound insight. Despite the intimate fellowship that she and Adam regularly enjoyed with God, Eve liked Satan’s suggestion that they could possess knowledge beyond what He had revealed to them.

That idea made me think of the mysticism that pervades many evangelical churches today. Although many men get sucked into this terrible trend, it appears to be the most pronounced in women’s ministry. Immediately I think of Beth Moore’s claims of revelations from God and Sarah Young’s book, Jesus Calling. I also remember countless women’s retreats and Bible Study meetings where leaders encouraged us to “allow” the Holy Spirit to reveal Himself, not in the pages of Scripture, but “personally” during times of “listening prayer.”

All too often, evangelical “Bible” teachers send the message that the Bible only goes so far in showing us what we need. Typically (and I speak from both personal experience  and first-hand observation), evangelical women receive subtle pressure to understand their psychological wounds and/or to  experience God emotionally. They may certainly start with a Bible verse that “ministers” to them (i.e., that gives them goosebumps), but they must then seek “more.”

One example of the mysticism evangelical teachers push on women comes in the form of “intimacy with God.” Jesus must be their “Lover,” especially if they’re single. Beth Moore and Ann Voskamp both urge women to enjoy “romance” with Him…with Voskamp  boldly advocating erotic expressions of such romance. Sometimes single women are actually shamed for wanting a flesh-and-blood husband when Jesus “offers” them emotional and even sexual satisfaction.

That spiritual rush, of course, exceeds the limitations of mere Bible study. As with other forms of evangelical mysticism, this intimacy with God suggests that we need more than what He has given us in His Word. But didn’t Eve plunge all of creation into decay and death precisely because Satan convinced her that she needed to digest the knowledge of good and evil? Didn’t he persuade her that God’s Word didn’t give her everything she needed?

Evangelical women fall for the same stale lie that Satan first told Eve. Thankfully, we can trust that God’s Word really does supply everything necessary for us to live on this side of heaven.

14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. ~~2 Timothy 3:14-17 (ESV)

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Saturday Sampler: May 14 — May 20

Butterfly Sampler 02Doug Wilson, posting in Blog & Mablog, provides familiar, yet frequently ignored, advice in his article, Decluttering Your Marriage I. Using Scriptural principles from Galatians 6, Pastor Wilson encourages each spouse to take responsibility before trying to fix the other. In his closing paragraph he explains the key to this sort of humility.

So, you want to study the Bible, but you don’t know which curriculum to use. Consider Michelle Lesley’s advice in The Mailbag: Can you recommend a good Bible study for women/teens/kids? If asked, I’d make the same recommendation.

One of my most dedicated readers is a 16-year-old girl who writes under the penname Squid. In a recent blog post for Squid’s Cup of Tea, she writes Being Truly IN the Word as a wonderful (and somewhat convicting ) reminder that we need to immerse ourselves in the Bible. This young lady shows remarkable Christian maturity; I think you’ll be impressed by this article.

Another blog post serving as a good reminder comes from Jesse Johnson of The Cripplegate. His essay, What does the Bible teach about abortion?, doesn’t really tell us anything new, but it organizes the Biblical arguments against abortion nicely. I look forward to using it as a reference tool.

Truth isn’t always pretty, but it must be faced. Rebekah Hannah does just that in her piece, Women Use Porn Too, which she writes for The Gospel Coalition Blog. She raises interesting points about ways churches inadvertently deny ministry to women who struggle with this type of sexual sin.

Being childless, I don’t offer a great deal to moms who read The Outspoken TULIP. Our Bible Study on Titus 2:3-5 is convicting me about that omission.  So let me begin reparations by directing you to Peter Krol’s article You Can Read the Bible to Your Kids in Knowable Word. I believe this man is on target with this idea!

As usual, Michelle Lesley has an insightful essay based squarely on Scripture. When God Says No challenges the popular notion that we should have big dreams for God.

Speaking of the big dreams for God philosophy, Tim Challies says that Nobody Respects a Blogger. Sisters, I  have no aspiration of being anything other than a blogger! Clearly, I don’t dream very big dreams for God. Oh well!

In a guest post for Pulpit & Pen, Jodie Jensen reviews the latest book by Beth Moore in The Quest of Beth Moore. According to Jensen, Moore promises that we can achieve intimacy with God through journaling, talking about our feelings with other women and spending time in our prayer closets. Okay… Skip reading Beth Moore’s book, by all means, but be sure to read this insightful essay.

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Why The Reformation Still Matters

Bible Mask MedievalOctober 31, 2017, the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, still looms six months ahead of us. Because most 21st Century evangelicals have little interest in church history, however, the anniversary will go largely unnoticed, except by those who seek some sort of reconciliation with the Roman Catholic Church. Indeed, Pope Francis has declared that the Reformation is over, emphasizing “common ground” between Catholics and evangelicals.

Many evangelicals have little problem accepting Roman Catholicism as a branch of Christianity. Rick Warren has famously referred to Pope Francis as “our” pope, and Beth Moore celebrates the notion that Catholic women are our sisters in Christ.

It all seems so Christian, doesn’t it? And, frankly, I’d love to pretend that the doctrinal differences between Catholics and Protestants didn’t matter. Why not concentrate on our shared beliefs in the Trinity and Christ’s Incarnation? Why not rejoice together in His death, burial and resurrection?

In fact, until recent years, I didn’t think the differences between Catholics and Protestants really did matter (although I couldn’t agree with their beliefs on things like Purgatory or the veneration of Mary). But then, doctrine didn’t seem very important to me until about 16 or 17 years ago.

I was pretty typical of most present-day evangelicals, especially in my voluntary ignorance of both doctrine and church history. God has graciously changed all that, even in my twilight years, convincing me that the Reformation has profound meaning that 21st Century evangelicals dare not ignore.

The Reformation happened, not because a constipated German monk decided to cause trouble (as my Catholic Political Science professor taught me), but because God sovereignly opened up His Word to men who then embraced the doctrines of grace. These men saw that, even though the Roman Catholic Church grew out of genuine Christianity, it perverted Biblical doctrine in favor of tradition and political power. In His mercy and faithfulness, the Lord brought about the Reformation in order to restore Scripture to His Church.

Next Tuesday, we’ll examine the doctrine of justification, which divides the Protestant from the Catholic church. As serious as the other doctrinal differences are (and many are extremely serious), the matter of justification makes it impossible for Bible-believing Christians to reconcile with Catholicism.

The Reformation continues, and the Reformation matters, as long as Rome insists that human effort plays a part in justification. Pope Francis can make all the declarations he wants, but his pontifications (pun fully intended) can’t change the fact that Rome fails to teach basic Gospel truth.

Evangelicals need to understand the Reformation in order to stand firmly in Biblical doctrine. Sure, it would be lovely to throw our arms around Rome’s children and let them claim us as their own. But fidelity to the Gospel forbids it. No  matter what Rick Warren, Beth Moore and Pope Francis say, the Reformation isn’t over. And it mustn’t be forgotten.

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Saturday Sampler: March 19 — March 25

Flower SamplerContinuing her series in Growing 4 Life, Leslie A. writes Learn to Discern: Who Do You Follow? She raises several important points that women should seriously consider as we pray to develop our discernment .

Unbelief doesn’t need one more miracle says Jennifer at One Hired Late in the Day. I’d been considering writing a similar article, but I really couldn’t improve on hers. If you want a solid explanation of the doctrine of justification, Jennifer’s blog post certainly gives it clearly.

“Authentic” seems to be the latest buzzword among evangelicals. In Has “Be Authentic” Replaced “Be Holy”? Rebekah Womble explains what postmodern people mean by authenticity, contrasting their understanding of the characteristic with the holiness that Christ calls us to practice.

Dinitatians typically believe in the Father and the Son, but not the Holy Spirit. In his blog post, Are Cessationists Dinitatians? Eric Davis of The Cripplegate refutes the popular notion that non-Charismatics don’t believe in the Holy Spirit. I love his list of 20 things Cessationists believe about the Holy Spirit.

Do you sometimes wonder what you should pray in praying for your pastor? Steve Altroggie, blogging on The Blazing Center, enumerates 8 Prayers You Should Regularly Pray For Your Pastor to offer us good direction in the matter.

John Ellis’ article, How NOT to Argue Online in adayinhiscourt convicted me. But it also encouraged me in arguing my case in ways that honor the Lord .

Responding to one of Beth Moore’s recent Tweets, Elizabeth Prata writes How does the Holy Spirit lead us? in her blog, The End Time. Her essay is lengthy, admittedly (and perhaps could have been broken into two separate ones), but her point is so crucial to Christian women that I strongly recommend it as essential reading.

In Don’t Get Your Theology from Movies, Michelle Lesley explains why even Movie Subscription Services that advertise themselves as Christian fail at helping us negotiate life’s issues. I’ve never seen anyone address this matter quite this comprehensively before, but Michelle does an excellent job.

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Sometimes Discernment Means Naming Names

Twisting ScriptureI know very well what I wrote yesterday, so I appreciate the irony of writing a post dealing with Beth Moore just one day later. But if you’ll hang in there with me while I make my case, I think you’ll see that today’s article actually bears out the very point I made about discernment. Understanding sound doctrine protects us against false teachers and teachings that deviate from the truth.

Tomorrow’s Saturday Sampler will include a link to a blog post Elizabeth Prata wrote addressing Beth Moore’s recent Tweet.

Immediately, I sighed, wondering if Beth Moore will ever go away. Surely, every evangelical on the planet has seen the warnings about her by now, and they know that, when she bothers to use the Bible at all, she mishandles it terribly. In the Tweet here, however, she completely ignores Scripture altogether in favor of trusting subjective impressions.

Thanks Beth, but I’ll let   God’s Word override any “warnings” I may want to imagine as coming from the Holy Spirit.

Sadly,  far too many women still don’t understand the multiple problems with Beth Moore, making it necessary for bloggers like Elizabeth Prata to repeatedly write articles exposing her faulty doctrine and unbiblical practices. I seriously doubt Elizabeth Prata takes pleasure in writing such essays, but she sees Moore’s alarming extent of influence and desires to help women escape this sort of deception.

A few months ago, as those of you who follow my Monday Bible Studies might recall, I showed you Jude’s instructions for ministering to others who have been deceived by teachers like Beth Moore.

20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. 22 And have mercy on those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh. ~~Jude 20-23 (ESV)

Jude’s instructions begin with an exhortation to build ourselves up in the faith, meaning that we must study and understand its tenets. Likewise, praying in the Holy Spirit requires knowing the Scriptures that He inspired. Rescuing people from false teachers and false doctrine necessitates a firm acquaintance with God’s Word.

Next, Jude encourages us to show mercy to doubters. Here he specifically refers those who doubt the false teaching that has been inflicted on them. They don’t quite know what to believe, so they need patience and compassion.

The people in verse 23 have, in varying levels, succumbed to deception. Consequently, some of them need harsher rescuing. Yes, they need to receive correct teaching, but they frequently also require that we show them why a false teacher (for example, Beth Moore) is in violation of God’s Word.

Therefore, when Beth Moore puts out a Tweet like the one at the beginning of this article, bloggers like Elizabeth Prata absolutely must call her out. When you read Elizabeth’s blog post tomorrow, please notice how Elizabeth uses good doctrine to refute Moore’s deception.

Of course, the more we know Biblical doctrine, the easier it will be to spot lies and half-truths that people like Beth Moore spit out. Sound doctrine inoculates us against falsehoods by giving us the standards against which to measure anything we hear. As we study God’s Word and understand its doctrines, we can easily spot ideas that don’t line up. Developing this type of discernment liberates bloggers like Elizabeth Prata from the disagreeable task of having to constantly refute Beth Moore.

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Hey Jude — Ministry To Victims Of False Teachers

Lady Reading BibleSpiritual discernment obviously requires an understanding of the difference between true and false doctrine, as well as knowing the characteristics of false teachers and how the Lord will judge them. As you read Jude’s entire epistle in preparation for today’s study (click this link to get the epistle), be alert to Jude’s focus on the latter two elements of discernment. Then remember how he shifts the conversation, beginning in verse 17, to the nuts and bolts of how believers should contend for the faith against these false teachers.

We’ll be talking about verses 22 and 23 in this installment of our Bible Study, but let’s read these verses in their immediate context:

17 But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. 18 They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” 19 It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. 22 And have mercy on those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.  ~~Jude 17-23 (ESV)

As  we learned last Monday, contending for the faith isn’t as glamorous as taking on false teachers. As much as I used to enjoy trolling Beth Moore’s Twitter account (I repented before she needed to block me), such activity fails to accomplish anything productive.  False teachers have no  interest in repenting of heresy, and they certainly have no intention of considering Biblical challenges to their propaganda.

Jude instead counsels Christians to edify each other through sound doctrine as we pray according to Scriptural guidelines and love God by our obedience to His Word. Moving to verses 22 and 23, we discover that he also assigns us the responsibility of ministering to the victims of false teachers.

Jude presents three types of victims, prescribing various ways to minister to them. He begins with the most vulnerable group, calling them those who doubt.  These people have heard the teachings of the apostates as well as correct teaching, and they feel torn between the two. They need gentle correction. Compassion, please notice, includes helping them understand the difference between truth and error, but it makes these distinctions without a pejorative tone. Indeed helping people understand that they’ve been deceived is ultimately the best way  to express mercy.

Jude’s second group represents those who are on the brink of  accepting the lies of the false teachers. To rescue them, we don’t have time to be gentle. They’re walking into fire, and must be warned of the judgment and condemnation that will burn them  unless they repent and turn back to Biblical truth. We don’t have time for gentleness! Our tactics will seem quite harsh, I agree, but blazing infernos rarely afford anyone the luxury of patient persuasion.

The final group Jude mentions also needs to be treated with compassion, but our compassion must not lead us to condone their sinful beliefs, attitudes or behaviors. People in this group may demand that our mercy toward them include an acceptance of their sin. While maintaining a gentle posture toward them, however, we need to demonstrate an abhorrence for the sin that threatens to damn them. We absolutely cannot have anything to do with even superficial vestiges of that sort of thing.

False teachers leave severely damaged people in their wake. Rather than vindictively chasing after the false teachers, whom God has already designated for condemnation anyway (see Jude 4), we most effectively contend for the faith by encouraging their victims to return to sound doctrine. And that happens as we remain in Scripture and direct them back to Scripture.

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No Reading Plans Or Top Ten…And Why

cropped-tulip-header1.jpgWatching the blogs this week, I’ve noticed two pronounced trends. The first trend focuses on Bible reading plans for 2017. In addition, bloggers have been writing about reasons Christians should get serious about reading the Bible this coming year.

Given the overall thrust of The Outspoken TULIP, it would probably make sense for me to jump on that bandwagon. But my personal Bible reading schedule didn’t exactly follow the calendar this year. I ended up starting Genesis 1:1 some time in November, after I spent over ten months studying 1 John through cross-references. I’m well into Exodus now, reading it like a novel and finding it hard to put down. On Saturdays I read whatever passage from Luke my pastor will preach on the next day, and I spend Sundays and Mondays studying Jude.

After nearly 46 years, I’ve come to believe that systematic Bible reading is essential, but that tying it to a calendar leads me into legalism. Both Bible reading and Bible study should be done with the singular purpose of hearing from the Lord. And no, not by taking a phrase, verse or passage out of context and personalizing it. Rather, as we go through Scripture systematically, we understand Who God is and what His priorities are. Racing a calendar is less important than learning what God’s Word says.

So I don’t want to offer 2017 reading plans in this blog. I do, however, want to encourage you to read and study the Word of God systematically. Whether you choose one of the many plans that other bloggers have been making available all week (for instance, Elizabeth Prata  and Michelle Lesley list a variety of plans), what really matters is that you’re in the Word!

This week’s other popular trend focuses on listing a blogger’s Top Ten posts of 2016. Interesting way to boost views, I suppose, and heaven knows my poor little blog could certainly use more traffic. But my Top Ten posts discourage me because they’re almost exclusively about Beth Moore.

Not that I mind getting out the word that Beth Moore mishandles Scripture and promotes narcissism with a veneer of “Christianity.” Indeed, I think about her every time I write a Bible Study on Jude. I may write about her in future blog posts if circumstances call me to do so! She’s led many women astray, and her errors continually crop up.

That said, I always feel like a sleazy tabloid journalist when I blog about her. I know that plopping her name in a title is click-bait. Over the past several months, I’ve been convicted that click-bait prostitutes my blog. The thought troubles me. For that reason, I desperately hope I’ll find no need to blog about her, Rick Warren, Sarah Young or any other false teachers in 2017.

So I believe doing a Top Ten post would only attract people to essays that I least want to highlight. If you really want a retrospective of my 2016 posts, please read my studies of Ephesians 2:1-10 and Jude. I’d much prefer that you focus on God’s Word than linger on posts that could degenerate into fodder for evangelical gossip.

Thank you for reading The Outspoken TULIP  throughout 2016, ladies. Please tell your family and friends to check out the articles that encourage you.  Also, drop by The Outspoken TULIP  Facebook page and start a conversation. I look forward to 2017 as a year of ministering to each other through God’s Word.

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