Pardon There Was Multiplied To Me

One of the saddest aspects of evangelicalism is that people make professions of faith without genuinely understanding why they need salvation. Evangelicals often present Jesus as an agent of life enhancement rather than the One Who bears the wrath of a holy Judge on our behalf.

But how thankful I am that the Holy Spirit confronted me with my sin 46 years ago! Knowing that I deserve eternity in hell has made me so appreciative of the Lord’s sacrificial death on the cross for my sin! Only those who see how terrible their sin is realize what a wonderful thing the Lord did for us on Calvary.

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The Brutal Truth

Horrible Beautiful CrossWhen John had cancer five years ago, I tearfully begged  his surgeon to find a way to treat it other than surgery. His tone of voice showed more impatience than compassion as he gruffly answered, “I’m trying to save your husband’s life!” His apparent arrogance offended me. And more significantly, I whole-heartedly believed that, due to his breathing limitations from having Polio, surgery would certainly kill John faster than the cancer would.

In my opinion, surgery represented a ruthless, almost savage, approach to John’s cancer, and I desperately wanted a gentler way of dealing with it. Again, I tried to reason with him. By that time, John had been severely weakened from a heart attack, so the doctor informed me (again with an apparent  lack of compassion in his tone), “Without the surgery, he only has weeks to live.”

Surgeons have to steel their emotions, or else they probably couldn’t face the  life-and-death nature of their profession. If both his tone and his decision smacked of brutality, he wanted me to understand the even greater brutality of colon cancer. He would take great risks, even those that deeply upset me, in order to save my husband.

I’ve been accused, many times in my life, of being  harsh in my presentation of doctrine. Instead of approaching false doctrine with negativity and anger, why don’t I try a gentler, more positive approach? Why not have the compassion that Jesus had?  The gentleness that Paul instructed Timothy to have?

Gentleness indeed has its place, especially with people who recognize their sin and know how  desperately they need a Savior. Once the Holy Spirit used Scripture to expose the the utter depravity of my heart, convincing  me that I deserved nothing but eternal separation from God in hell, the mercy and kindness of Jesus dying on the cross in my place filled me with joy! But that joy  could never  have come until I  came face-to-face with my spiritual  cancer.

I’d been active in my church, quite convinced that my religious activity guaranteed my acceptability to  God. My gentle pastor never confronted sin in my life. In fact, he assured me of my salvation, not because Jesus died for me, but because he saw me as a “good girl.” His gentleness ignored the cancer of sin that would have damned me to hell if Jesus hadn’t  led me to some harsh, uncomfortable passages in the Sermon on the Mount.

Like the brutal truth that saved John’s physical life five years ago, brutal truth brought me into eternal life. So if my posts seem brutal and unfeeling, think back to John’s surgeon….and realize that he showed great compassion after all.

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Saturday Sampler: May 21 — May 27

Bows SamplerReflecting on her personal study of Titus 3, Leslie A. of Growing 4 Life reminds us that For So We Once Walked. Her insights help us have humility toward God and compassion toward non-Christians.

16-year-old Squid,  purveyor of Squid’s Cup Of Tea, is wise beyond her years. Her recent post, Not a Bad Temptation, offers a fascinating take on Eve’s disobedience in the garden. Why didn’t I have the caliber of discernment she has when I was young?

In a creative, but pointed essay in The End Time, Elizabeth Prata shows us how the Bible might read If Jeremiah, John the Baptist and Paul were Armimian… This piece is entertaining, and yet it wonderfully demonstrates the sovereignty of God in electing us to salvation.

Examining tongues, prophecy and healing as present-day Charismatic churches practice them, John Chester explains Why Our Church Isn’t Charismatic in Parking Space 23. As a former Charismatic, I appreciate his clarity in demonstrating how the current interpretation of these gifts differs from their Scriptural functions.

Jennifer at One Hired Late in the Day responds to the timely question How do we love and engage with our unbelieving friends without compromising our testimonies? In this era of political correctness and unbridled sexuality, Jennifer’s advice offers encouragement and wisdom.

Recycling an essay she wrote two years ago, Michelle Lesley ministers to those who need to find a new church, either because they’ve relocated or because their present church fails to uphold Biblical doctrine and practices. Throwback Thursday ~ Six Questions for a Potential Church includes links to three other posts that list important things to ask pastors or elders before joining a church.

Along those lines, Nichols T. Batzig, in his blog, Feeding on Christ, writes The Weight of the Church as encouragement to factor in the availability of solid churches when considering a move or a college.  Batzig provides an excellent perspective.

Infamous abortionist Kermit Gosnell falsely believes himself to be a Christian, and has recently published a manifesto attempting to defend his actions from Scripture.  In 5 verses used to justly abortion, Jesse Johnson of The Cripplegate exposes Gosnell’s wrong use of God’s Word. This blog post both shows that abortion can never be defended as a moral act and affirms the importance of properly using the Bible.

Reformation 500 has been steadily posting daily history lessons highlighting various events of the Protestant Reformation. In their article, Ignatius Loyola, they present a powerful discernment lesson by comparing and contrasting Ignatius Loyola and Martin Luther. The article applies so well to evangelicals in 2017.

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Think You’re Not A Sinner?

SanctimonyIt’s terribly easy, don’t you think, to look at people in the LBGTQ community and sanctimoniously sniff as we read Leviticus 19 and Romans 1. Obviously, their sin far exceeds anything that we do!

I definitely trust Scripture’s verdict that God condemns the sin of homosexuality. I believe that someone with same sex attractions must repent of all homosexual behavior and fantasies, trusting Christ to forgive her. Perhaps in future posts I can write about the wonderful hope He extends to those who are trapped in this sin.

But today I want to address those of us who are guilty of heterosexual sin. That would be every heterosexual on the planet, by the way. Jesus made that fact painfully evident in Matthew 5:27-28. We dare not pretend that we’ve avoided impure fantasies, even if we’ve never physically acted on them.

Yesterday, I quoted 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, a common passage used to demonstrate that homosexuality is one of several very serious sins that requires Christ’s atoning blood. But I want you to notice the passage that immediately follows it.

12 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. 13 “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! 16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” 17 But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.   ~~1 Corinthians 6:12-20 (ESV)

Verses 12 and 13 refer to common sayings in First Century Corinth used to justify sexual immorality. Those sayings mirror our modern rationalization that sex is merely a biological function on the same level as eating, so lust should be satisfied the same way we satisfy hunger. If we go outside the boundaries of heterosexual marriage, the argument continues, that’s permissible.

Beginning with verse 17, however, Paul puts the brakes on such thinking. Sexual immorality has no place in the life of a Christian, particularly since the Holy Spirit resides in each of us. This passage clearly addresses heterosexual immorality. Therefore, the reference to homosexuality in the previous passage is a minor point, introducing Paul’s primary point that sex must not go beyond God’s parameters. Chapter 7 continues the discussion by giving guidelines on marriage, divorce and singleness, clarifying the Lord’s position that sex belongs exclusively between husband and wife.

When you factor in Matthew 5:27-28, where Christ says that even sexual fantasies constitute sexual immorality, you see that everyone stands condemned unless they find shelter in the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

As I said yesterday, Christians must love those in the LBGTQ community enough to call their fantasies and behaviors sin. By doing so, we offer them the same hope of grace that liberates us from sexual immorality. But the key to offering this hope is in remembering our own sexual sin and our consequent dependence on God’s grace. Sanctimony is not an attitude that Christians can afford.

 

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Don’t Limit Discernment Ministry

Discern WiselyWhen you think of discernment bloggers, do you automatically imagine mean spirited women hunched over their keyboards as they run google searches on all the latest Christian teachers that they hope to discredit? Such bloggers, I’m sorry to say, do exist. At times, I’m even more sorry to say, I’ve been one of them.

Sometimes we actually do need to identify the false teachers that crawl all over the evangelical landscape because women (even women in solid churches) buy their books, watch them on TV and/or attend their conferences. Therefore, there’s a place for naming them and demonstrating how they distort the Word of God.  In fact, failure to do so can leave our sisters trapped in deception.

At the same time, limiting our definition of discernment simply to calling out false teachers in itself distorts the meaning of discernment. Discernment encompasses so much more than knowing which popular teacher to avoid. To complicate matters, readers actually want bloggers to tell them who the false teachers are.All of us who write blogs of this nature inevitability get asked what we think of certain speakers or if it’s okay to by a certain writer’s books. Rather than conducting their own research, they rely on us.

Even worse, many readers enjoy the gossip aspect. Sadly, my most popular articles have names of well-known evangelical celebrities in the titles, while my posts on the Protestant Reformation and my Bible Studies receive little attention.

Ironically, the articles on the Protestant Reformation and my Bible Studies probably have more instruction on how to develop good discernment than 1,000 exposes on the false teachers running around out there. The Reformation, for example, came about because men like Luther, Calvin and Zwingli compared Roman Catholic doctrine to the Bible and challenged Rome on its unscriptural teachings and practices. In turn, studying the Bible enables us to recognize doctrinal error.

True discernment requires the hard, but gratifying, work of knowing church history and (even more important) knowing God’s Word. As we understand what Scripture teaches and how Christians throughout church history defended its teachings, we develop increasing discernment that helps us see when a popular Christian teacher or writer distorts the Word of God. Many Christian women desire to be discerning. Praise the Lord! God indeed wants His people to exercise discernment.

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. ~~Philippians 1:9-11 (ESV)

Dear sisters in Christ, I beg you to broaden your understanding of discernment and discernment ministry. While there definitely are times when bloggers will find it necessary to name specific teachers who deceive the Body of Christ, we better serve our readers by providing tools for cultivating discernment. That way, all of us will be filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ.

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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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How Self-Esteem Undermines The Gospel

dark-bibleThe concept of self-esteem dominates psychology and psychotherapy. Even a cursory Google search on self-esteem will reveal the strong relationship between the two. Psychotherapy aims at helping boost a client’s self-esteem, showing them their supposed inherent value and importance. Ultimately, it teaches the client to love herself, frequently adding that self-love is absolutely foundational to good mental health and healthy relationships.

This emphasis on self-esteem, however, directly contradicts the basic Gospel message. John MacArthur, in his sermon, The Gospel: Self-love or Self-hate?, demonstrates from Scripture that the person clinging to self-esteem can never benefit from the Gospel because she can’t truly face the truth of her sinful condition and utter dependence on Christ as her only source of righteousness.

The Bible, in stark contrast to psychology’s emphasis on self-esteem, teaches that salvation comes only as we recognize our depravity and consequently come to hate ourselves. Jesus said, in no uncertain terms, that feeling good about ourselves would automatically prevent us from receiving God’s mercy.

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” ~~Luke 18:9-14 (ESV)

I know some of you are objecting that this parable talks about pride, not self-esteem. But if you think about it, isn’t self-esteem simply a socially acceptable description of  pride? Look at the Pharisee and the tax collector again. Wouldn’t you agree that the Pharisee had pretty high self-esteem and the tax collector suffered from low self-esteem? And yet Jesus said that the tax collector was justified by God, Who looked on the man’s humility with favor.

The Gospel asserts that every human being, with the exception of the Lord Jesus Christ, is a sinner by nature and by choice. As sinners who habitually violate God’s Law, we rightfully deserve eternal punishment in hell. Because of our helpless condition, Jesus came to earth as a Man (without ceasing to be God) to live a sinless life. He suffered a criminal’s execution on a Roman cross, shedding His innocent blood in payment for the sin of all those who would believe in Him. On the third day He rose again, proving that God the Father accepted His sacrifice and will therefore raise believers to eternal life.

The first component of the Gospel, you’ll notice, focuses on our sinfulness, which in turn verifies our desperate need for a Savior. Self-esteem, however, denies the gravity of our sinfulness, falsely assuring us what we have something to contribute to our salvation. As a result, we skew the Gospel, diminishing Christ’s work while subtly claiming some of the glory for ourselves.

Psychology, precisely because of its relentless promotion of self-esteem, rips away the very foundation of the Gospel. As Bible-believing Christians, we must categorically reject psychology because of its integral ties with the self-esteem movement. By recognizing psychology’s unbiblical underpinnings, we embrace the biblical teachings on sin which prepare us for the Good News of Jesus Christ.

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