Category Archives: God’s Wisdom

Psychology And The Source Of Knowledge About The Human Soul

Lady Reading BiblePsychology makes my blood boil, especially when people try to integrate it with Christianity! Although commonly considered a science, the discipline actually is comprised of theories that haven’t been proven (and really don’t lend themselves to scientific verification). The vast majority of the theories incorporate acceptance of evolution, humanism and occult ideas.

Over the past 40 years, evangelicals have embraced psychology as an augmentation to pastoral ministry, assuming that the Bible falls short of addressing the mental and emotional needs of humans. That assumption should make the hair on the back of your neck bristle! Essentially, “Christian” psychology boldly declares God’s Word to be impotent, while at the same time more than implying that psychologists and licensed counselors possess a special knowledge inaccessible to those of us who “merely” read the Bible.

The attitude that psychologists have a deeper understanding of human nature than the Holy Spirit (Who, after all, authored the Bible) smacks of modern-day Gnosticism.

To grasp the significance of equating psychology with Gnosticism, let me briefly review the basic premise of Gnosticism, and the apostle Paul’s response to it. In the late First Century and early Second Century, Gnostics taught that they held special knowledge over and above what most Christians had. Access to that knowledge required initiation into their group, but promised deeper wisdom into life’s mysteries.

In his letter to the Colossians, Paul argued that Christ alone is the Source of wisdom. Notice how directly he made his claim in the following paragraph.

For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ. ~~Colossians 2:1-5 (ESV)

Look carefully at verse 3. Wisdom and knowledge, in their entirety, are hidden in Christ, not in philosophical systems developed by people like Freud (an atheist influenced by Charles Darwin) and Jung (who depended on a demonic spirit called Philemon). And Christ gladly reveals Himself through Scripture.

The Apostle Peter insists further that knowing the Lord Jesus Christ gives us everything we  need to navigate through life.

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. ~~2 Peter 1:3-4 (ESV)

Remembering that the Lord gives us knowledge of Himself through His Word, this passage in 2 Peter clearly teaches that we simply don’t need the special knowledge that psychology pretends to offer us. Not only can we pass up this modem-day Gnosticism by standing on the sufficiency of Scripture, we have an obligation to do just that!

Psychology may appear erudite and sophisticated because of it’s claims to understand the inner workings of the human soul, but Christians have access to the One Who created that soul. Why should we waste our time on foolish human philosophy when the Bible is right there, ready to provide all the answers we need?

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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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Psychological Seduction

c5fbb-psychologyThe allure of  “Christian” psychology is twofold. First, it allows us to focus on ourselves without apology. Second, it promises wisdom over and above what the Bible gives us. As one might surmise, these two attractions intersect, offering us special understanding about ourselves. With the aid of a “Christian” therapist, we can unravel mysteries explaining why we continually fall into  sin (usually discovering that our sin patterns arise because someone or something caused us some type of trauma).

The more I learn about psychology (“Christian” or secular), the more I believe it betrays a propensity toward Gnosticism. We love thinking that we can “go deeper” than the Bible to explore the complexities of the human psyche. After all, not every Christian gets to understand the deep workings of the human mind, right? Psychology lets us join the spiritual elite.

Paul’s letter to the Colossians addressed false teachers who offered a deeper level of wisdom to Christians. Obviously, Freud and Jung hadn’t yet developed psychological models, but the principles Paul put forth regarding the source of wisdom and the necessity of rejecting proposed wisdom apart from that source speak just as well to the deeper wisdom of psychology as they did to the early seeds of Gnosticism in Paul’s day.

Paul roots his argument against looking for secret wisdom squarely in the supremacy of Christ.

For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ. ~~Colossians 2:1-5 (ESV)

Did you notice verse 3? We find wisdom, not in the supposed enlightenment of humanity, but in Christ. And He reveals His wisdom through His Word. The apostle Peter made it clear that what we know of the Lord fully equips us for all the eventualities of the Christ life.

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. ~~2 Peter 1:3-11 (ESV)

Not very esoteric, admittedly, but that’s precisely my point! In Christ, we have every resource we need in order to overcome sin. We don’t need psychoanalysis to help us identify the roots of our personality struggles. Unless our physician can find a medical reason for psychological problems (which can, and should, be treated with appropriate medication), we can find everything we need to combat recurring sin issues in the Word of God.

Gnosticism, in any form, denies the sufficiency of Christ and the sufficiency of Scripture. Girlfriends, we mustn’t succumb to that temptation. Don’t fall for psychology’s seductive lie that it will help you better understand yourself. Instead of desiring self-knowledge, seek to know the Lord by studying His Word.

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The Labyrinth And The Narrow Way

narrow-wayBeing inept at face-to-face evangelism, I admit to handling things poorly when I spotted the man drawing the labyrinth on Boston Common last week. I’ve been seeing those odious things littering the Common all year, and have felt anger at these symbols of mysticism and contemplative prayer. So I opened the conversation declaring, “That’s disgusting!”

Maybe not the best opening line. As I said, face-to-face evangelism isn’t my forte.

Nevertheless, it opened the conversation, in which he insisted he wasn’t a pagan (I never said he was) and that he was a Christian (I never said he wasn’t). I kept pleading with him, “You don’t have to do this! Jesus died so you could pray directly to God!”

Finally, he looked directly at me to ask, “And how do you pray?” I began telling him how I go straight to God, adoring Him for His attributes and  confessing my sins…at which point the man interrupted to pronounce, “Your God is too narrow!”

At that moment John joined me and took the lead. Sadly the guy had no interest in interaction with John, despite the fact that John’s much more winsome than I’ll ever be, and he dismissed us quickly.

I’ve since thought about his accusation that “my” God  is too narrow. In his mind, narrowness is a negative quality. Like many others I’ve witnessed to over the years, he expected me to feel shamed by the word “narrow.”

To the world, spirituality should broadly encompass everything (except, of course Biblical Christianity). People of the world celebrate inclusiveness, certain that God accepts people on their self-prescribed terms. And hey, that view of God sounds really nice! Sadly, however, that view diminishes the Lord to a mushy Being Who adapts Himself to our personal preferences. Worse, we believe in our own divinity, which practices like the labyrinth can help us  discover.

Jesus made it clear that following Him and receiving salvation actually requires narrowness. Look at His words near the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount:

13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. ~~Matthew 7:13-14 (ESV)

To clarify this statement, Jesus later told His disciples:

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

Talk about narrow! These claims really go against everything that tolerant, broad minded people want to believe. To believe that salvation comes exclusively through the Lord Jesus Christ places us under His authority, and consequently means that we must worship Him on His terms rather than our own. And we don’t like that idea.

But narrowness also offers protection. When I had surgery to loosen my leg muscles as a teenager, I had casts on both legs for six weeks. Those casts confined me to bed when I otherwise would have been enjoying the summer driving my power wheelchair  around town with my puppy.  But they also protected my muscles from healing improperly (and undoubtedly kept me out of trouble).

Spiritually, the Lord’s narrowness protects us from false teaching and demonic influences. Although the broad way appears more enjoyable, it actually keeps us from teachings that would damage our souls. The Lord, being more knowledgeable than we are regarding spiritual forces, confines us to Himself and His plan of worship to guard us against destructive practices that we can’t understand.

So yes, “my” God is, in one sense, narrow. But if anyone expects me to feel shame over His narrowness, I must disappoint them.

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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 Comfort Of Irresistible Grace: A Personal Account

544ed-tulip2bwaterThe Lord, in His mercy, blessed me with a husband who gently and patiently introduced me  to the doctrines of grace, and finally brought me to the idea  of Irresistible Grace. We’ll examine this doctrine in a little more depth tomorrow, but today I want to explain why this doctrine means so much to me. I’ll begin by giving you the back story.

But first, let me clearly state that I don’t know what may have transpired between my mother and the Lord just before she died two years ago. I begin today’s article with that admission, lest you suppose that I’m arrogantly judging whether or not she was saved. The evidence available to me indicates that she rejected Biblical Christianity up until the end, but 3000 miles separated us during the last nine years of her life. She didn’t even tell me she had been on Hospice for three months, or that her cancer had returned, until four days before her death, so she might not have told me about any conversion to Christ she may have undergone.

As a new Christian in 1971, I witnessed to Mom constantly. I continued being a typical teenager, rebelling against her authority, and I indulged my sins of anger and selfishness well into my 40s (I lived with her most of my life). So she saw, more clearly than most people, my failure to practice what I preached.

Whenever we’d talk about the Lord, she’d pretty much say that she  didn’t believe in heaven or hell and that the Bible, though inspirational and of tremendous literary importance, wasn’t God’s Word. Once, she declared that all my talk of Christ’s shed blood was rather gruesome.

At the time, I could only see that my hypocrisy kept Mom from “accepting” the Lord. I believed that God held me responsible for her salvation. Despite those convictions, I couldn’t seem to behave in a more Christlike manner, and I grew less bold in proclaiming the Gospel to her as years passed. I worried that I’d feel guilty if she died without coming to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. If she went to hell, it would certainly be all my fault!

Yet my mom supported my Christianity, always making sure I did daily Bible reading, insisting that I give money to my church and letting us hold Tuesday night Bible Studies in her living room. Looking back, I believe she respected my faith. As imperfect as my witness was, obviously the Lord made sure that He showed Mom His presence in my life. Furthermore, in the five years before I moved to Massachusetts to marry John, He did help me model a lifestyle more consistent with a godly character. Still imperfect, mind you, but much better.

Have you noticed, in reading this blog entry,  how often I’ve emphasized my actions?  Yes, I did many things badly in my evangelistic efforts toward Mom, and I’ve confessed those sins with a repentant heart. But as God has exposed me to teachings on Irresistible Grace, He’s enabled me to understand that His effectual call would have brought her to salvation (and indeed may have done so) regardless of my sins and missteps. Although I had to confess those sins before Him, I also had to repent of believing that Mom’s salvation depended on anything I did.

In reality, He had exposed Mom to the Gospel long before she even met my dad, and He certainly made sure that she heard it several times from me and my friends. As I’ll show you tomorrow, when He calls a person to salvation, His Word gives that person the faith to respond to His call. Therefore, if He called Mom, even on her deathbed, nothing could have possibly prevented her from believing in Him. Conversely, if He didn’t call her, nothing I did could have given her saving faith.

God does command Christians to evangelize, both by declaring His Word and by living holy lives. But He makes it clear that only He does the actual saving. We can trust His sovereignty and wisdom, finding peace in knowing that He has prefect control.

 
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Saturday Sampler: August 28–September 3

Butterfly Sampler

Not ten minutes had passed from when I said more than necessary in an email until I read The crooked sin of gossip in Elizabeth Prata’s The End Time blog. Elizabeth shares Scriptures in this powerful blog post that underscore God’s righteous indignation at this “respectable” sin.

Inspired by a biography she’s reading on Jonathan Edwards, Leslie A. of Growing 4 Life outlines The Four Missing Elements that possibly indicate a false salvation. She notes similarities between the reliance on religious experience as proof of one’s salvation in the early 19th Century and that same reliance now. She quotes Edwards a couple of times to illustrate what marks the life of a true believer.

In her article, Meme Christianity, Erin Benziger of Do Not Be Surprised questions whether or not posting memes on social media is really effective ministry.

Mere  days before the birth of his first daughter, Jordan Standridge already expresses his  desire that she marry a godly man.In his blog post for The Cripplegate, Should I Marry Him?, Standridge counsels single women on the traits to look for in potential husbands. Happily, John meets the criteria!

Blogging for Satisfaction Through Christ, Kristen answers the question: Why Did God Use a Harlot and a Lie? Most Christians have wondered about that incident. While Kristen could have probably developed her theory a little more, she offers some interesting insight worth consideration.

Andrew David Naseli and J.D. Crowley, writing in the Crossway blog, ask How Reliable Is Your Conscience? It’s an interesting read; don’t miss it.

If you think I refer to Elizabeth Prata a lot, consider the fact that she’s simply been putting out some top-notch stuff lately. In One more reason to avoid Lysa TerKeurst of Elevation Church, Elizabeth both reviews TerKeurst’s church affiliation and encourages us to examine women’s ministries and libraries in our own churches. Remember that it matters who teaches those who in turn teach us.

Kim Witten writes The Secrets of Self-Harm for the blog, Biblical Woman, explaining the widely practiced behaviors of cutting, bulimia and other self-destructive habits that girls and women engage in. She briefly demonstrates how Biblical Counseling can help such women stop hunting themselves.

Carl Trueman, in First Things, contends that our culture’s casual attitude toward sex has resulted in Sex Negative. It’s a sad blog post.  Sad, because we’ve reduced one of the Lord’s most beautiful gifts to a mere tool for selfish pleasure.

Along those same lines, Tim Challies tells us Why Marriage Is Better Than Cohabitation. He raises points I’d never considered before, and clarifies other points that I’ve known for years. If you’re thinking about a sexual relationship without legal marriage, you may need to read Challies’ article.

Familiar Bible passages often need to be read with fresh eyes. Michelle Lesley, writing Making a U-turn on the Road to Emmaus, helps  me see the well-known story in Luke 24:13-35 just a little bit differently than I’d ever seen it. Take a look, and then see whether or not the Lord might have something to say to you.

 

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