Category Archives: Christian Doctrine

$74.90 Will Never Adapt To Your Truth Of $7.49

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“We each have our own truth.”

Really?  Try that line at your local supermarket when the cashier rings your total as $74.90 but you believe you should pay $7.49. Your truth isn’t going to impress the store manger when she sees that the register indeed totals your purchases at $74.90. Your truth must give way to the actual truth that the register, the cashier and the manger all verify. Your truth loses its authority.

Well, you say, the relative nature of truth applies to spiritual truth. For example, Buddhists have their truth, Christians have theirs, atheists have theirs and so forth. That’s the very last sentence I uttered before the Lord brought me to salvation 47 years ago, and it’s no more true now than it was that day.

I know because Jesus said that He is the Truth.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. ~~John 14:6 (ESV)

As we said last week, Jesus’ resurrection proves His divinity, therefore making it imperative to believe everything He taught and claimed during His earthly ministry. Since He, as the only Human Being to rise permanently from the dead, calls Himself the Truth, He cancels out all other perceptions of truth. As a result, He allows no alternate way to God.

Most people balk at such an exclusive spirituality. Usually their unwillingness to accept it comes, not from intellectual objections, but from an instance on living according to their own terms. Instinctively, they realize that, if Jesus really is the Truth, He has the authority to rule their lives as He pleases.

Those who try to escape Christ’s authority develop their own truths because don’t like many of His commands. In most cases, they either want a spiritual system that affirms their self-esteem or they want sex without restrictions. Sometimes a combination of the two. So when Jesus commands faith in Him rather than sacraments and/or mysticism, they reject it. When He commands that we enjoy sex only within heterosexual marriage, we rebel.

The implications of Jesus being the only Truth disturb people so deeply that they develop their own truths. Truths that allow them to ignore the Lord or to redesign Him in conformity to their individual tastes. In so doing, they then erase any possibility of objective truth that would threaten their autonomy. We Christians are more than welcome to believe as we wish just as long as we stop saying that Jesus is the truth.

Self-made truths, of course, work about as well as paying $7.49 for $74.90 worth of groceries.

 

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Dividing From Sound Doctrine

Watch Out

Last night I listened to a sermon given at a Charismatic church. The curious mixture of references to “anointing”and allusions to low self-esteem had me looking for a wall to bang my head against. And the pastor inverted the Scriptural narrative (which he admitted to paraphrasing rather than reading), totally misapplying it to his congregation. He concluded by having everyone leave their seats to come forward to receive prayer and to have members of the prayer team anoint them with oil.

Thirty years ago, I would have scolded myself for feeling uncomfortable with the situation and then I would have submitted to the prayer team.  I would have assumed that my misgivings resulted from rebellion against the Holy Spirit and His work. In short, I  would have caved into peer pressure.

Churches like that depend on peer pressure. They may allow a certain amount of questioning behind closed doors, but they view open dissent as divisiveness.

Interestingly, Scripture’s warnings against divisiveness target those who deviate from sound doctrine, not those who speak out against aberrant teaching and practices.

17 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. 18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. ~~Romans 16:17-18 (ESV)

Today, I would leave the room while everyone else went up for prayer. If anyone asked my reasons, I’d explain each of my objections to the sermon, showing why it deviated from God’s Word. Next, I’d meet with church leadership and show them the problems with the sermon. Then I’d start praying for a new church home.

Sadly, Charismatic churches will only grow worse as time progresses, and they will utilize peer pressure to prevent anyone from challenging them on the basis of Scripture. Yet their influence, fueled largely by promising to help people understand how special God thinks they are, now creeps into non-Charismatic churches, opening people up to mysticism and experience based spirituality.

Right now, I’m disgusted with this shoddy approach to Christianity. Some people in Charismatic churches may be genuinely saved. I’d go so far as to say that some Charismatic pastors may be genuinely saved. But the system, with its promises of self-esteem and anointing, locks people in to the deception and keeps them trapped through peer pressure.

Christians, we need to pray for the Holy Spirit to get good teaching to Charismatics so that His Word will free them from the real divisiveness. No Christian should be divided from the correct teaching of God’s Word and made to participate in silly shows like filling before prayer teams to be anointed with oil. We need to know the Bible well enough to identify such foolishness and to openly reject it.

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A Discernment Issue Leading To A Question For My Readers

Resurrection ButterflyEvangelical women typically flock to blog posts about sex, current events or the exposure of false teachers. The third item is generally thought of as discernment, and sometimes that’s a correct assessment. I appreciate those discernment bloggers who courageously name names. But I also know that true discernment bloggers are more concerned with promoting sound doctrine than with gossiping about popular evangelical celebrities.

One of the most basic Christian doctrines is the bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Ironically, it’s arguably one of the most ignored and least understood doctrines. To be honest, I’d been a Christian for over three decades before I started understanding its significance. So, at the risk of writing unpopular blog posts, I propose to step up my articles on this foundational topic, convinced that doing so will enhance your discernment abilities much better than simply identifying the latest false teacher.

While Christ’s resurrection most definitely provides concrete evidence for the truth of Christianity (as I explained last week), please take care not to reduce its significance to mere academic validation.  Paul begins 1 Corinthians 15 by demonstrating the historical reality of the Lord’s resurrection, but from there he moves into a beautiful discussion on the implications of His resurrection.

Obviously I  can’t work through all 58 verses of 1 Corinthians 15 in a single blog post, but I fully intend to write more essays on this wonderfully important subject from now on. I might consider writing a verse-by-verse Bible Study on 1 Corinthians 15. Although many other passages contribute to our understanding of Christ’s resurrection, this chapter supplies the most definitive handling of the occurrence and its implications.

Writing verse-by-verse studies requires much time and effort. Yet I would joyfully make the commitment if enough women (remember, men other than my husband and elders from First Baptist Church Weymouth, MA should not be reading my teaching articles) would read them. I truly believe that cultivating a Biblical understanding of Christ’s resurrection would go a long way in protecting us against false teachers.

Please use my Comments Section or my Outspoken TULIP Facebook page to let me know if you’d prefer a structured Bible Study series on the resurrection or less formal posts from time to time (FBCW elders, please weigh in too!) so that I’ll invest my time and energy in the wisest way possible. I want you to be excited about the resurrection, so I need help determining the most interesting way to approach it.

Discernment requires knowing at least the fundamentals of the Christian faith. Because the doctrine of the resurrection is so critical to the Gospel, and because false teachers often distort, downplay or disregard it, we dare not neglect it. Instead, dear sisters in Christ,  let’s grab on to its glorious promises and celebrate it.

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Of Cabbages And (The King Of) Kings

king-jesus

Cerebral Palsy has all sorts of interesting or annoying by-products (depending on one’s point of view), such as difficulty chewing food. As a result,  a shred of cabbage from a serving of coleslaw could slip down the throat prematurely, causing several hours of discomfort and pain on its journey down the upper GI tract. I rediscovered this unpleasant reality Saturday night.

As you can imagine, I didn’t sleep very well that night. At one point, I found myself pretty much ordering God to relieve my pain. Not asking with humble trust in a loving heavenly Father, but demanding with the self-centered attitude of a spoiled brat.

And before you charitably try to tell me that I judge myself too harshly, let me assure you that I know, quite well, the attitude of my heart at that particular moment. I viewed the Lord, just then, as a servant, expecting Him to cater to my wishes. Whether my perverted petition came from my Charismatic background or it merely exposed my sinful old nature, it clearly dishonored the Lord Who bought me with His blood and therefore has authority over me.

Jesus indeed came as a servant, demonstrating humility as an example for Christians to follow. And He commands us to pray for our needs, knowing that He will faithfully care for us because we belong to Him. But notice what I just said: we belong to Him! As such, we have the privilege of requesting things from Him, but not the right to demand His compliance.

Christ’s humility, while certainly giving us a pattern to emulate, directs our attention to His unique position as the king of Kings.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. ~~Philippians 2:5-11 (ESV)

Despite His humility, the Lord Jesus Christ is our Almighty King Who will one day cause even His enemies to bow before Him. How dare we treat Him as if He has any obligation to answer our “prayers” according to our expectations! Shouldn’t we instead approach Him in grateful humility, asking Him for mercy and grace to honor Him whether He removes our trial or decrees that we go through it?

I didn’t exactly enjoy my experience with the cabbage Saturday night. But I treasure my experience of remembering that Christ is my King, not my slave.

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Facets Of Redemption

The hymn I’ve selected today has a simple melody, but a deep and profound theology of Christ’s redemptive work. I love the way it takes us through the various ramifications of salvation while keeping our attention squarely on the Lord!

As I listened to this hymn in preparation to post it, I thought of a beautiful diamond with all its intriguing facets. It reminded me that salvation involves so much more than sparing us from the torments of hell (although that alone would be wonderful). The more we see the different facets of redemption, the more we want to sing of our glorious Redeemer.

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Saturday Sampler: January 7 — January 13

Three Beauties

Okay, it’s true. I get a kick out of typing Ryan Higginbottom’s name. That said, I genuinely appreciate many of his contributions to Knowable Word. His post, Your Secret Weapon in Bible Study, leads us in engaging effectively with Scripture.

Erik Raymond of The Gospel Coalition Blog shows us The Staggering Consequences of Neglecting Your Bible. Hopefully, each of my readers does spend regular time in God’s Word, but on the outside chance that one of you doesn’t do so, this blog post might help you understand the critical importance of this practice.

In recent years, the term “evangelical” has come to mean something much different than what it should. In Putting the Evangelical in Evangelicalism, Eric Davis of The Cripplegate reminds us who the true evangelicals really are.

Take time to read Bad Examples of Women Pastors (But Great Examples of Godly Women) by Pastor Gabe Hughes.  He goes through all the women in the Bible that feminists hold up as arguments for the ordination of women.

Along those lines, Katie McCoy explains Why Women Are Critical To the Mission of the Church in her post for Biblical Woman. She emphasizes the many ministry opportunities that women can enjoy! I believe her perspective offers encouragement to ladies who mistakenly assume that people can only serve the Lord through pulpit ministry.

Dear Michelle Lesley of Discipleship for Christian Women also weighs in on the topic of women preaching in Seven Reasons 1 Timothy 2:12 Isn’t the Crazy Aunt We Hide in the Closet when Company Comes Over. Her Biblical insight into this issue really helps to show serious problems when a church opens its pulpit to women.

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Women Pastors And Questioning The Authority And Sufficiency Of Scripture

Ladies Study 03As you’ll see in tomorrow’s Saturday Sampler, the topic of women preaching has again resurfaced on social media. Two weeks ago, in fact, I engaged in a Twitter debate that began with someone objecting to my stance that 1 Timothy 2:12 still applies to churches today. Eventually the conversation migrated to the issue of whether or not God speaks apart from Scripture, but not because I meant to soften my stance on the original issue.

If anything, I see the embrace of women in the pulpit as one of many symptoms of people rejecting both Scripture’s authority and its sufficiency. We refuse to accept God’s verdict that pulpit ministry belongs exclusively to men, so we look outside His Word for some way of manipulating the text to say something other than what it says. (The Gay Christian Movement, incidentally, uses the same tactics.)

The three articles in tomorrow’s Saturday Sampler do an excellent job of detailing Scriptural arguments for confining pulpit ministry to men, so I hope you’ll budget time to read each of them. Nothing I could write here could possibly improve on any of them. But I want to contribute to the conversation by emphasizing that the overarching problem lies in a subtle disregard for God’s Word.

1 Timothy 2:14 states that women shouldn’t teach men because Eve fell into deception before Adam did. I believe this remark sheds light on the matter because Satan enticed Eve to first question God’s Word and then to modify it. Once Satan objected to her modification, she blatantly disobeyed God.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 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. ~~Genesis 3:1-6 (ESV)

Do you see that Eve, by eating the forbidden fruit, basically rejected the authority and sufficiency of God’s Word? Satan successfully convinced her that God wanted to withhold something good from her. Consequently she usurped Adam’s leadership and decided to override God’s explicit command.

Don’t women pastors do exactly what Eve did? They may think they honor God’s Word, but they deliberately distort Scripture for the express purpose of defying it. They elevate their desires to teach men over God’s command to submit to male leadership.

I don’t fully understand why the Lord restricts pulpit ministry to men, but I definitely do understand that the Bible is God’s Word regardless of whether or not I like everything it says. In the matter of women preaching and/or teaching men, Church must surrender personal preferences in favor of bowing to the Lord’s authority with the sweet assurance that we need nothing beyond His Word.

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