It Depends On What You Mean By “The Gospel”

Flourishes03

It jarred me a bit to see Beth Moore described as a minister of the Gospel. It probably shouldn’t have, given the powerful deception that engulfs her followers. As far as they can tell, Moore indeed represents a type of gospel that sounds pretty Biblical.

As I reflect on the idea of Beth Moore being a minister of the Gospel, my initial laughter gives way to sadness and concern. I begin wondering how well evangelicals at large really understand the Gospel. Interestingly, her newly refurbished website offers no actual Gospel presentation beyond a surface level Peace With God page that waters things down considerably. It reminds me of the impotent gospel that Continue reading

Don’t Expect A Political Savior

Untitled-1Yes, Beto O’Rourke exposed the Democratic party’s agenda Thursday night. And yes, that agenda must keep genuine Christians from supporting any Democratic candidate. Please, as you read this article, know that I in no way want to discourage Christians from supporting voting. And adherence to Biblical  principles absolutely must shape what we do at the ballot box.

O’Rourke’s proposal to strip churches and Christian institutions of tax exemptions troubles me, but it in no way surprises me. I began this blog shortly after the Obergefell decision precisely because I knew the legalization of same sex marriage would inevitability lead to the persecution of Christians who believe the Bible. And no, I’m not a prophet. God didn’t speak to me or give me a vision, It’s simply a logical conclusion.

Beto O’Rourke did nothing more than Continue reading

1517 Was Cool And All, But What Does It Have To Do With Me?

Ancient ScriptureLeslie A left a comment on yesterday’s blog post stating that her articles on the Protestant Reformation were also pretty much ignored by her readers. Okay, so I have assurance that my writing skills weren’t the reason my Reformation articles went over like a lead balloon.  There’s a modicum of comfort in Leslie’s comment, weird though that may  be.

I love my blogger friends!

As I thought about her comment (or more accurately, the apathy toward history that seems to characterize most people in our century), I couldn’t help wondering if the self-absorbed nature of our post-modern culture has something to do with it. Sure, we’re concerned about the myriad of problems in today’s church.  After all, that’s the church we Continue reading

Spiritual Warfare And Daring To Rebuke Satan

spiritual-warfare

There’s a popular notion, particularly in Charismatic circles, that Christians possess the same authority over Satan and demons that Jesus conferred on the First Century apostles. This line of thinking ignores the key point, however, that the apostles received the ability to perform signs and wonders in order to authenticate the Gospel until the New Testament canon could be completed.

Back in November of 2016, I wrote a Bible Study series on the book of Jude for this blog. Because someone recently challenged a statement I made regarding the nature of spiritual warfare, I thought I’d adapt the study I wrote on verses 9 and 10 as a response.

My challenger objected to my remark that spiritual warfare is about resisting temptation rather than about rebuking Satan. He cited Titus 2:15 (out of context, of course) as substantiation for the practice. Um, that’s a gross misinterpretation and misapplication of Paul’s instructions to Titus. Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy!

Jude addresses the practice of rebuking the devil more directly than any other New Testament writer,so I believe we best serve this topic by looking at his words. Remember that Jude (a half-brother to Jesus) writes his epistle in order to delineate the characteristics of false teachers. We going to discuss verses 9 and 10, which I want to quote in their proper context.

Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” 10 But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. 11 Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion. 12 These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever. ~~Jude 8-13 (ESV)

Instead of getting hung up on where this story came from or why Michael and the devil fought over Moses’ body, let’s give our attention to Jude’s meaning.

But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” ~~Jude 9 (ESV)

Jude’s purpose is to contrast the brashness of false teachers who dared to rail against the spiritual realm with the archangel Michael’s humility in deferring to the Lord in cursing the devil. This allusion should warn us not to think that we have the authority to rebuke the devil, since even the highest angel didn’t dare do so.

Michael surely would have had some measure of authority, given the fact that God dispatched him to fight Satan on other occasions (see Daniel 10:13 and Revelation 12:7 for examples). Yet he deemed it presumptuous to  rail against the devil on the basis of that authority. Jude’s point is that, since Michael didn’t rebuke the devil directly, false teachers greatly err in doing so. In fact, this sort of practice actually marks a person as a false teacher.

Maybe we should let that last point sink in. Instead of believing that the Lord gives all Christians the authority to hurl comments at Satan and his minions, shouldn’t we take note that false teachers perform and advocate this sort of behavior? If rebuking the devil identifies a person as a false teacher, perhaps we shouldn’t encourage it.

Jude goes on, in verse 10, to explain that the false teachers who rebuke the  devil don’t even know what they’re talking about.

But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. (ESV)

He shows the irony of their claims of mastery over the spirit world  when all the while their carnal natures consume them. Unlike Michael, who actually is a spirit, these people have limited knowledge of Satan and his demons, and as a result they lack the qualifications to enter into confrontations with them when they really should confront their own sinfulness.

Rebuking Satan appeals to human pride while providing a distraction from the true spiritual warfare of mortifying our sin and refuting false teaching. Jude 9-10, in exposing the wrong focus of those who rebuke the devil, reminds us to maintain a proper attitude. Let’s trust the Lord to rebuke Satan while we concentrate on resisting temptation and closing our ears to Satan’s lies.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Did You Go To Them Privately?

Powerful Word

Social media provides a platform for anybody with access to a keyboard. In many ways, that access makes it easier for Christians to proclaim the Gospel and offer good teaching. In this day in age when fewer and fewer evangelical churches preach expositional sermons and encourage congregants to understand Scripture in its proper context, blogs, tweets and Facebook posts can serve as needed nourishment to Christians.

Sadly, social media can also enable false teachers to spread their poisonous doctrines.

Since false teachers utilize social media so effectively, we can praise God for tech-savvy people who have both the courage and the discernment to repudiate their errors. Admittedly, some writers who consider themselves discernment bloggers carry things way too far and end up making legitimate discernment bloggers look unsavory. But once you weed those writers out, you appreciate the ones who stand against error and guide readers back to the Word of God.

Invariably, those of us who expose false teachers receive angry responses, demanding to know whether or not we confronted said teacher privately in accordance with Continue reading

As Persecution Draws Closer, We’ll Need Church Family

Persecuted ChurchDon’t kid yourselves. Even if Donald Trump wins a second term in 2020, he can’t stop (or even delay) the growing persecution against Christians in the United States. He may  be the most powerful man in the world, but he’s only a man. From what I’ve observed, his position on LBGTQ issues appear somewhat ambiguous, leading me to doubt his ability to preserve religious liberties. And, as you’ll see in tomorrow’s edition of Saturday Sampler, California lies under the control of Planned Parenthood in regard to its court system.

But I don’t want to debate politics right now. Rather, I want to emphasize that not even a conservative president possesses the power to Continue reading

The Church Will Hurt You: A Biblical Response

 

Faded Church

If you join a local church,  you can pretty much expect that, at some point,  you’ll experience some level of hurt. The offense may be as mild as a friend neglecting to say hello on a Sunday morning or as devastating as leadership taking you out of a ministry you enjoy.  A few of these hurts are intentional and malicious; most result from plain old thoughtlessness or misunderstandings. Occasionally you will experience hurt because a brother or sister has called out your sin.

I write from 48 years of Continue reading