Saturday Sampler: November 4 — November 10

Flower Outline Sampler

What causes so much compromise in the church? Mike Ratliff raises the possibility that much of it results from a disdain for God’s Word. His article, Bible Inspiration, appears in Possessing the Treasure as an encouragement to remember the very Source of Scripture.

Have you ever tried to understand God’s holiness? As Allen S. Nelson IV shows us in his post for Things Above Us, Comprehending Holiness is a daunting and wonderful duty for all believers.

Reformation 21 runs The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel Explained: Sexuality and Marriage by James White. In our social climate, his common sense is sadly lacking as well as necessary.

I’m not a parent, and I’m only an honorary grandmother, but I have definite beliefs about child rearing. So I appreciate Denny Burk for his Biblical response in his post, Pediatricians say spanking is bad. Are they right? Remember, the world opposes God on every level.

Sinclair Ferguson examines Apostasy and How it Happens on the Ligonier blog. Having watched many of my friends turn away from the Lord over the years, I find this article quite helpful in understanding their actions.

Do you know what I admire about Michelle Lesley? She bases her reasoning squarely on Scripture. Throwback Thursday: Can a False Teacher be Saved? is a splendid example of drawing conclusions through the study of God’s Word.

Who Is Jesus? Leslie A of Growing 4 Life distinguishes between the popular conception of Jesus and what the Bible actually teaches about Him.

Some missionaries I know often email me requesting that I pray for Jesus to reveal Himself to Muslims in their area through dreams. I absolutely refuse to do so, of course, but I couldn’t figure out why Muslims seem to have these dreams. Praise God for Elizabeth Prata’s essay Blasphemy: Jesus is not Isa, Isa is not Jesus in The End Time. Elizabeth explains this disturbing phenomenon well, showing why Christians should never celebrate it.

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Flashback Friday: Twisting Matthew 18:15 To Make Sin Acceptable

Originally published April 26, 2016.

Twisting ScriptureSeveral years ago, a personal friend of mine began a very public journey away from biblical Christianity. Claiming to still be a Christian, he adopted a lifestyle that directly contradicted Scriptural principles and he encouraged others to follow his example. When I wrote a comment on his blog challenging his new theological positions, he chastized me for not approaching him privately first, in accordance with Matthew 18:15. Regrettably, I acquiesced to his demand that I confront him privately, because he twisted that very Scripture in an effort to avoid responsibility for his sinful choices.

Matthew 18:15-20 deals with restoring a transgressing brother or sister to fellowship within a local congregation.

15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (ESV)

As Josh Buice recently wrote in his article, Matthew 18 and the Universal Church, there’s a difference between someone in one’s local church who sins privately and a person like my friend (who lives in another state) whose sin appears, not only in his blog, but also on television interviews and on other websites. The public display of his rebellion eliminates the need for private confrontation because his reputation doesn’t require protection.

I would add that my friend had already committed to his choices. Since Matthew 18:15-20 carries the goal of restoring a person to right relationship with God, it doesn’t really apply to someone who no longer accepts Biblical standards–especially when he or she publicly works to influence others to misinterpret Scripture in respect to that sin. When someone believes and teaches that their behavior meets with God’s approval, twisting the Word of God in order to justly their course of action, we can safely assume that they don’t honestly care about obedience to His Word.

Obviously commenting on my friend’s blog wasn’t going to bring him to repentance, but it could have made his readers think about the matter. Or I could have (and eventually did) written about him in my own blog, warning people against his error. Because he is somewhat of a public figure who writes openly about his lifestyle and beliefs, and because it’s highly unlikely that anyone will dissuade him from his sin unless the Lord miraculously intervenes, I need not talk to him privately before warning others about his false teaching.

I use my experience with him today as an example of how people use Matthew 18:15 out of context in order to silence those who expose their false teaching. Like my friend, they don’t really care about being corrected in a Biblical manner. They want to shame Bible-believing Christians into leaving them unchallenged.

Please be aware that someone who publicly disseminates false doctrine, particularly with the purpose of excusing sin and influencing people to embrace that sin must not be permitted to hide behind Matthew 18:15. Their public espousal of false teaching already demonstrates an unwillingness to repent. Just as they distort other Scriptures to their advantage, so they twist this verse. We need not play their game.

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Playing Catch-Up Is Just Fooling Around

Playing Around

The visible church, often comprised of false converts and true Christians who haven’t received solid teaching, betrays its eagerness to follow the world. From the ordination of women as pastors to the Woke Movement, evangelicals have worked long and hard to catch up to the progressive standards of our greater culture.

Compromise indeed keeps us comfortable, especially when the world has declared (in no uncertain terms) that Continue reading

According To Scripture: Study #2 On The Resurrection

According to Scripture

Ladies, today I want to start getting into our study of Christ’s resurrection by taking you through 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. Those of you who have been through my Bible Studies on Ephesians 2:1-10, Jude and Titus know that I always emphasize context when studying Scripture, and therefore I insist on looking at the entire first section of 1 Corinthians 15 before we discuss today’s verses:

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. ~~1 Corinthians 15:1-11 (ESV)

In verses 1-2, Paul brings attention back to the Gospel, which he had personally preached to the Corinthians when he first established their church. Notice that he tells them that they stand in the Gospel they have received as a result of his preaching. Only the Gospel enables us to stand before God. In verse 2 he elaborates that, by standing in the Gospel, they are being saved.

I don’t want to spend much time analyzing these two verses, but I believe it’s important to think just a little about standing in the Gospel. Salvation comes only through placing our trust completely in the Gospel message, so any failure to cling to that message would indicate a false conversion.

From there, Paul reiterates the basic Gospel, clarifying that it has primary importance over everything else. He has just written 14 chapters dealing with serious issues within the church in Corinth that caused injurious division, and now he seeks to unify them under the primary tenets of the Gospel.

The first point he makes (in verse 3) is that Christ died as a substitute for us, bearing the full penalty for our sins. Implicit in this statement is that we no longer bear responsibility to atone for our sins through sacraments, purgatory or good works. According to Scripture, specifically Isaiah 53:4-6, Jesus took the punishment for our rebellion against God.

Next (in verse 4), Paul recounts that Christ was buried (Isaiah 53:9), and that He rose again (Isaiah 53:11; Psalm 16:10). As in verse 3, he ties the events to Scripture. Although he proceeds, in the verses we’ll examine next week, to enumerate eyewitnesses who could verify the Lord’s resurrection, it’s important to note that he appeals to Scripture as his foremost authority. Certainly, he sets an example that we must follow.

Christ’s burial proves His resurrection because only the truly dead  require burial. Paul deliberately builds his case, even in reminding his readers of the the basic Gospel, for the resurrection. Verses 3-4 demonstrate that the doctrine of Christ’s resurrection is just as essential to the Gospel as His atoning death on the cross. As we progress through 1 Corinthians 15, we’ll learn why this doctrine is so vital to believe in order to stand firmly in the Gospel.

Please use the Comments Section below or The Outspoken TULIP  Facebook page to ask questions and/or share insights about the passage we’ve studied today. I’d appreciate hearing how this study has ministered to you, or how I might approach the text more effectively. Feel free to bring in other Scriptures that apply to this passage, and to interact with each other in the comments. Next week we’ll talk about Paul’s eyewitnesses.

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Saturday Sampler: April 29 — May 5

IMG_1982In the bizarre atmosphere of 21st Century culture, commonsense essays can refresh the spirit.  Garbage In… Garbage Out by SharaC of Into the Foolishness of God looks at a postmodern contradiction and its Biblical solution.

Offering encouragement though  How Do We Overcome the Fear of Evangelism in Unlocking the Bible, Denise (no surname given) directs our attention to Scriptural attitudes concerning witnessing. Her article challenges us, but it also reassures us of the Lord’s commitment to help us carry out the Great Commission.

An Unpleasant and Unpopular Truth appears in Leslie A’s blog, Growing 4 Life as a challenge to examine our lives. A mere profession of Christ, remember, doesn’t necessarily mean that genuine conversion has taken place.

IMG_2004As a lesson in discernment, Elizabeth Prata of The End Time writes a thought-provoking Book Review: America’s beloved novel, “Christy” to examine the theology inherent in the popular book. Kudos to Elizabeth for daring to review such a well-loved book with such candor and balance.

Clint Archer, in his contribution to The Cripplegate, reinforces what is Of First Importance: What will be on the test when we die? Those of you participating in my new Monday Bible Study series on 1 Corinthians 15 should especially appreciate this article.

As long as you’re reading The Cripplegate, check out What Pope Francis Should Have Said to Emanuele. I always enjoy Jordan Standridge’s writing; this piece may help you understand why I’m such a huge fan of his work.

IMG_1992As Christians, we must make careful distinctions in our language, and we must hold our critics to those distinctions. In Dear Media: Please Distinguish Conversion from Conversion Therapy, Denny Burk demonstrates the importance of defining terms by  citing the conversion of a gentleman who survived the terror attack on the Pulse nightclub.

Religious OCD or Scrupulosity by Fred DeRuvo at Study – Grow – Know juxtaposes the troubling methods of psychology against Biblical counseling.  Please, if you still can’t see the dangers of psychology, read Fred’s piece and seriously consider the points he raises.

Would I recommend a blog post simply because the illustration favors the Boston Red Sox? No. Peter Krol’s Context Matters: the Faith Hall of Fame in Knowable Word merits recognition for its skilled handling of Hebrews 11 in and of itself. But I admit that the homage to the Boston Red Sox doesn’t bother me a bit!

All photos taken May 2, 2018 at Boston Public Garden by John Kespert

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It Depends On Who Gets The Glory

Old Fashioned Girl

Our first installment of the 1 Corinthians 15 Bible Study is on its way. At present, I’m working through verses 1-11, sticking my nose in some commentaries, taking notes and fishing through cross-references. Don’t worry: my husband advised me against quoting a lot of my sources this time around, and I plan to follow his counsel.

I mention my preparation today because John MacArthur’s notes on verse 2 brought up the topic of false converts, using the parable of the talents as a cross-reference. This parable is obviously too lengthy to quote in a blog post, so I encourage you to click this link or grab your Bible and read it, even if it’s familiar to you.

I had never made the connection that the wicked servant who buried his one talent had never really been saved, but look with me at his interaction with his master:

24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ ~~Matthew 25:24-30 (ESV)

This man honestly thought he served his master, just as false converts honestly think they serve Jesus. But he refused to use the talent because he knew it would profit his master instead of him.

Before I continue, let me remind you that parables shouldn’t be read as strict allegories, with every detail representative of something. Therefore I don’t believe it matters what the talent represents. It could be anything a false convert believes the Lord has given him or her. Jesus’ point is merely that a false convert cares more about selfish gain than about honoring the Lord.

This wicked servant cheated his master because he had a warped idea of his master’s character. Yes, the master would benefit from how his servants invested his money. But as you saw by reading the entire parable, the servants who used their talents wisely received ample rewards. Clearly, the wicked servant didn’t really know his master, and consequently his behavior showed that he had no desire to honor him.

What about us? Do we seek to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ, or do we use what He gives us to bring honor to Him? Do we accuse Him of unfairness for accepting the praise for our hard work, or are we filled with wonder and adoration that He promises to reward us for simply obeying Him? Our heart attitudes might reveal whether or not we genuinely belong to Him.

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The False Comfort Of Pope Francis

Thoughtful BoyIf you haven’t yet seen the video of Pope Francis assuring a grieving child that his atheist father went to heaven (because said dad allowed all four of his children to be baptized), I suggest that you Google it. Not because it should soften your stance on either the Roman Catholic Church or on Christ’s claim to be the only means of salvation (John 14:6), but because it puts forth a question that Bible-believing Christians absolutely must face as we console the bereaved.

Obviously, the pope failed to give the little boy either a Catholic answer or a Biblical one. I’d guess that many bloggers (both Christian and Catholic) are burning up their keyboards explaining why this pope erred in his response to the boy. As well they ought! But I want to explore an angle of this situation that probably hasn’t received the attention it requires.

As I watched the video, I cried. Since my dad died when I was 10 and my sister was 7, I understand some of that little boy’s heartache and confusion. He loved his daddy, and he desperately needs some way of coping with a loss that he can’t understand. Although I care passionately about sound theology, I also passionately believe that heartbroken children must be treated with compassion, and in age-appropriate ways. So despite my manifold disagreements with the Catholic Church in general and Pope Francis in particular, I appreciate the man’s tenderness toward a hurting child.

Alas, compassion never excuses perverting truth. And the truth is that good works don’t admit anyone into heaven. Pope Francis offered that poor little boy a false assurance about his father’s eternal state. Far worse, he reinforced the erroneous notion that salvation rewards human goodness. As a result, he inoculated the child (as well as everyone else in the audience) against the truth that salvation comes through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Pope Francis should have allowed for the slight possibility of a deathbed conversion, but then he should have moved the focus to God’s perfect justice. As a just Judge, the Lord deals with each person justly, and according to His eternal purposes. Although we lack the prerogative to make a definitive declaration about anyone’s eternal destiny,  we can encourage those who grieve to trust God’s authority to make the right decision.

At that point, it would have been best to acknowledge the pain of the very real likelihood that the loved one won’t be in heaven. When my mom died, many people suggested a deathbed conversion, and I admit that possibility. But the most comforting comment I received came from a man at church who said, “I’m so sorry. That must be hard.” Rather than offering a comfort that may or may not be true, this man acknowledged that I faced Mom’s death Biblically, despite the sadness involved. His words affirmed that my pain over her probable rejection of the Gospel is legitimate. Pope Francis should have given the little boy that sort of validation.

From there, we should gently remind the grieving person of his or her own responsibility to repent of sin and believe that Jesus died to bear the punishment for the sins of all who believe in Him. We can’t do anything about our departed loved ones other that trust that God will glorify Himself in how He judges them, but we certainly can make our own election sure by believing in Him.

In situations such as the one with this sweet little boy, of course we must extend compassion. But true compassion never sugarcoats truth with a false gospel. That little boy deserved so much better.

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