More Than Mere Opinion

At times, I’ve wrongly characterized blog posts I’ve written about Christian doctrine as my personal opinion. Perhaps I did so to soften offensive statements. After all, Bernie Sanders showed us recently that stating the truth that those outside of Christ will not enter heaven disqualifies someone from holding public office. Clearly, speaking with certainty about even the most basic tenets of the Christian faith has become highly dangerous. Couching those tenets as mere opinion at least offers a buffer against the world’s animosity (or so we tell ourselves).

Our postmodern culture insists that truth depends on personal interpretation. “What’s true for you may not be true for me.” The only absolute I see in postmodern philosophy is that Bible-believing Christians require silencing. If the culture fails to silence us outright, then it must characterize the Gospel as no more than opinion…and misguided, antiquated opinion at that. Once this characterization establishes itself, people have no difficulty dismissing the Lord and replacing Him with spiritual systems tailored to their own preferences.

Postmodern thought, however, really goes back to the same old humanistic rebellion against the Lord that mankind has perpetrated since Adam and Eve defiantly ate the forbidden fruit. Each of us, unless the Holy Spirit intervenes, trades God’s truth for the ideas that we concoct for ourselves.

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. ~~Romans 1:18-25 (ESV)

Certainly, I hold very strong opinions on a variety of matters ranging from the alt-left’s reaction to last November’s presidential election to women covering their heads in church services. And I recognize that such matters are legitimately open to debate. But when it comes to the clear teaching of Scripture, I refuse to regard my fidelity to it as subjective opinion.

I undoubtedly misunderstand passages of Scripture here and there. When I do, the last thing I need is for people to indulge my opinion! I need people to correct my error by showing me how my ideas deviate from God’s word. Remind me that Scripture must be properly understood and interpreted in context so that I’ll correctly discern the Lord’s truth and apply His truth in accordance with His will. Don’t let me settle for my own meager opinion when I need the  firm foundation of His truth.

Senator Sanders’ clear persecution of Russell Vought signals increasing persecution of American Christians. Will we react by minimizing our beliefs as nothing more than personal opinion that we can amend if it becomes inconvenient? Or will we stand firm in our convictions, convinced that Jesus is the Truth? If Jesus indeed is the Truth, we must declare His Gospel boldly, confident that our faith goes far beyond mere opinion.

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Saturday Sampler: June 4 — June 10

Bertucci Sampler
Sampler plate at Bertucci’s

Clint Archer posts Running for the  Reward: Comrades Marathon and the Bema Seat in The Cripplegate. Sometimes we Christians forget that rewards await us when we finish this life.

Reprising a column that she originally wrote in 2011, Marsha West of Berean Research chronicles the Purpose Driven dismantling of Christianity as  a testament to the many corrosive influences on the 21st Century church. Her comments on psychology particularly interested me.  In addition, she unmasks the resurgence of Gnosticism among evangelicals and explores Rick Warren’s affiliation with Robert Schuller.

Sometimes we ignore seemingly inconsequential sins, assuming the Lord also overlooks them. Tim Challies directs our attention to one such sin (grumbling about fellow Christians) in The King Is Within Earshot.

People commonly object to the doctrine of election because they infer that, if God elects some to heaven, He conversely elects others to hell. In The Cripplegate, Jesse Johnson writes Reprobation: Does God elect people to hell? as a way to demonstrate the logical fallacies of this argument. After you’ve read this piece, however, I strongly suggest that you read Reprobation Rejoinder by Mike Riccardi, also in The Cripplegate.

I’ve been disturbed, for the past few years, about the common perceptions professing Christians have regarding heaven. So it encourages me to read Heaven: The Biblical Version by Jennifer at One Hired Late In The Day. I feel less alone in my understanding of what the Bible teaches on the subject.

Denny Burk provides a sobering reminder that American Christians have already begun to face persecution. His article, Watch Bernie Sanders tell  a Christian that his faith disqualifies him from office, reminds me that we can no longer expect to be embraced by our culture. But Jesus repeatedly warned us that the world would reject us, so we really shouldn’t be surprised.

If you want to read something both fun and educational, look at The Mischievous Protestant’s Guide to Catholic Rome by Tim Challies. Now, why do you suppose my art history professor at Dominican University of California  (a school started by Catholic nuns) never mentioned the items in this piece.

In her essay for The Gospel Coalition Blog, Kendra Dahl shares The Lesson That Saved My Marriage to help us adjust our expectations of our husbands. I definitely needed to read her wisdom this week!

 

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I Wish I’d Blog About A Cuddly Jesus

Ladies Study 01Wouldn’t it be nice to follow a form of Christianity that just got along with everybody? That emphasized God’s love and minimized His righteous standards? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to embrace homosexuality and find common ground with people of other religions?

Of course, many liberal churches offer just that sort of belief system. They imagine a false Jesus that never judges sin and, because “God is love,” never really sends anyone to hell. I spent my first 17 years in such a church, giving me direct experience with that type of thinking. To be honest, part of me misses having that kind of Christianity. It was such a comfortable way to relate to God!

And frankly, I don’t take a whole lot of pleasure in challenging people who contradict God’s Word. In writing about the Reformation each Tuesday, for instance, I don’t think it’s particularly enjoyable to tell Catholics that they hold unbiblical views. Losing friends as a result of my position on Beth Moore hasn’t been a whole lot of fun either, if you want to know the truth.

But Scripture explicitly says that those who follow Christ and cling to the Word of God shouldn’t expect to win popularity contests. As a matter of fact, Jesus actually warned that popularity with people usually indicates a person’s unfaithfulness to God.

Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets. ~~Luke 6:26 (ESV)

Please don’t misunderstand me to say that Christians should be deliberately belligerent. Jesus continued, in Luke 6:27-31, by instructing us to love even our enemies, leaving us no room to be nasty or unloving to those who oppose our message. Rather, He meant that bearing the Gospel would naturally result in causing people to dislike us. Truth offends sinners.

It offends them precisely because it exposes their rebellion against Him. They prefer false teachers and belief systems that affirm their supposed goodness and/or affirms their autonomy. Therefore, Christians who take firm stands on the clear teachings of Scripture anger and annoy them. We’re unpopular because we dare to uphold God’s standards without apology or compromise.

As much as my flesh would love to write a chatty little blog that kept God tame and cuddly, my responsibility is to represent His Word as accurately as I can. Most people won’t like what I write in these posts, and sometimes their reactions will sting. But I pray that, when I stand before the Judgment Throne, the Lord will find me faithful.

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Hus Did What For The Sake Of The Gospel?

Okay, I confess. I didn’t do my homework. I’d intended to write about John Hus today, finishing my little sub-series on the pre-Reformation reformers. Instead of studying, however, I spent time learning a different digital art program that I’d bought three years ago and subsequently neglected. I do need to invest time in my art, yes. But we can only celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation once.

October 31st isn’t that far away, and we should start covering people who actually shaped the Protestant Reformation in the 16th Century. As important as John Hus was to church history, I must forgo writing about him, looking forward to introducing John Calvin next Tuesday.

But since Hus holds such a vital place in paving the way for Martin Luther, John Calvin and the other 16th Century Reformers,  I decided to post this 4 minute video summarizing his life, ministry and martyrdom.

Like Peter Waldo and John Wycliffe, Hus preached that the Bible had greater authority than Roman Catholic tradition and that justification comes through faith alone. Unlike these two men, Hus actually died for preaching Biblical Christianity. The very church that claimed to represent the Lord Jesus Christ ordered his execution, falsely convincing him of heresy.

Many more people would suffer martyrdom for espousing the Biblical tenets of the Reformation. In our own own century, when Pope  Francis declares that the Reformation is over, we need to remember why the Reformation happened and what it cost the men and women who stood for the true Gospel. Hus, and many Christians after him, chose death rather than recanting Biblical doctrine. If we now accept the Pope’s declaration, we certainly negate everything the Reformers suffered for the sake of the Gospel.

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Why Study Peter Waldo?

ancient-church-01In thinking about this Tuesday series on the Protestant Reformation, I realize that simply recounting the history probably wastes time. The Internet contains a plethora of articles and videos by people much more knowledgeable about church history than I, which means you can easily click or tap your way to understanding the key players and highlights.

I’m not convinced you would. As I’ve remarked on several occasions, most 21st Century Americans tend to avoid history, claiming that it’s boring and irrelevant. Okay, sometimes it certainly feels that way. But if you take the time to study church history, you’ll find that it’s fascinating as well as helpful in discerning problems confronting the present-day Church.

My job isn’t to spoon feed you  history. Rather, it’s to get you so excited about the Reformation that you’ll investigate it for yourselves. When I mention, for instance, Peter Waldo, I want you to see his Biblical challenges to Roman Catholic teachings as inspirational. How can this 12th Century Frenchman encourage us to stand for sound doctrine amid the aberrational teachings of our own day?

We know that, as a result of studying the Bible, Peter Waldo came to believe in justification by faith in Jesus and His finished work on the cross. Consequently, he rejected the doctrines of Purgatory and Transubstantiation.  As you can imagine,  the church hierarchy wasn’t exactly pleased.

Waldo suffered excommunication in 1184 for his views. At that point in time, excommunication presupposed a person’s damnation as well as virtually cutting him off from the rest of society. Clearly, he paid an enormously high price for his commitment to Scripture.

Why didn’t Waldo keep his dissenting views to himself? Here, we can only speculate, I guess. But let me suggest the obvious possibility that Waldo genuinely believed that the Roman Catholic Church had deviated from the truth of God’s Word. As he saw it, fidelity to Scripture. was more important than placating the church, but he was willing to take personal risks in order to honor Christ.

Ladies, are we as willing to stand against popular teachings that go against Scripture, even if we forfeit the approval of our friends and churches? That’s a serious question, and one that I hope the study of the Reformers will help us work through. I believe that the example of people like Peter Waldo can encourage us to stand on the Word of God, even as our own churches pressure us to compromise.

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I Won’t Conform To The Gay Agenda

be-the-gospelIn some ways, debating the morality of homosexuality seems ridiculous in 2017. Same sex marriage is legal in many countries, and I seriously doubt that will change. Gay activists are well on their way to force society to embrace the LBGTQ community, even when doing so violates a person’s religious convictions. Those of us who take what the Bible says, especially about homosexuality, know that most people (at least publicly) consider us bigots and haters.

Sometimes I think it world be easier to just pretend that I approve of homosexuality, divorce, sex outside of marriage and all the other sins that our postmodern world insists I condone. Facebook world certainly be more pleasant! Frankly, going against the tide of liberal groupthink can weary a person. I don’t enjoy having minority opinions. You probably don’t either.

But when I feel tempted to compromise with the world, the Lord brings Scriptures to mind that stop me. Right now, several come to mind, making me sorry I don’t have more time for blogging today. Let’s look at just one of them, though, to see how the Lord uses it to confront my temptation to acquiesce to popular sentiment.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. ~~Romans 12:1-2 (ESV)

The world pressures me to condone homosexuality (as well as divorce and sex outside of marriage) as being right and good. One unsaved relative even tried to shame me for letting my faith inform my politics!  But the Lord tells me that His Word transforms me from the thinking of this world (which opposes Him) into a woman who bows to His will. He has renewed my mind so that I embrace what He calls good, acceptable and perfect regardless of what my culture screams.

Homosexuality represents only part of the issue, really. Currently it’s the spearhead of the world’s rebellion against the Lord, so I find myself coming back to it time and again. Consequently, people will label me as a bigot solely on my conviction that the Lord declares it sinful.

Friday, I plan to explain why love demands that Christians face the sinful nature of homosexuality and offer people freedom from its tyranny. That perspective, of course, flies in the face of 21st Century wisdom. Believe me, I fully realize that most people believe that love constrains Christians to champion same sex marriage as something the Lord blesses. But I stand with the Lord, Who liberates all sinners to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to Him.

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When I’m Not So Outspoken

Pray For AmericaBeing a Republican in 2017, particularly if you engage in social media, can be intimidating. I often approach Facebook cringing, keenly aware that most posts I read will be vitriolic diatribes enumerating all the ways President Trump is “ruining” America.

In the months leading up to the election, I dodged posts from fellow Republicans shaming those of us who voted for neither Trump nor Hillary. Didn’t we understand that the Supreme Court was at stake? That Hillary would appoint judges that supported abortion rights, therefore eliminating all possibility of overturning Roe v. Wade? The blood of dead babies would be on my hands because I allowed Hillary to win by my failure to vote for a sexually immoral egomaniac that was actually (from what I could see) a closet liberal.

And anyway, I live in Massachusetts. There was absolutely no way my puny little vote would influence the Electoral College! But my friends insisted that I’d betray the unborn by failing to put a mark after Trump’s name.

I’ll leave you to speculate on how I marked my ballot.

To my surprise, our new President has made conservative decisions since taking office less than two weeks ago. Who would have thought Donald J. Trump (of all people) would keep his  campaign promises? Amazing!

Strangely, the Republican voices on Facebook and Twitter that so firmly reprimanded my reticence about voting for Trump have,  by and large, fallen silent on political matters. I don’t really blame them. Expressing any positive sentiment about Trump, Melania or his children on social media pretty much invites verbal bullying from the Left. (Apparently, free speech belongs exclusively to liberals.)

I’ll admit it: I’m scared! The mere thought of stating my opinion of President Trump’s Executive Orders on Facebook terrifies me! And isn’t that sad? It tells me that the progressives, for all their talk about tolerance and diversity, refuse to let anyone who disagrees with their agenda speak. So I cower, venturing onto Facebook with fear and trembling, lest I draw accusations of homophobic racism.

But, while the thought of being outspoken in regard to my political views fills me with terror, I have no fear of proclaiming Jesus Christ online. I will, I realize, suffer persecution for daring to declare that Jesus is the only Savior from God’s wrath. As Christians lose rights to free speech and free exercise of religion (think Christian bakers and florists being forced to participate in same sex weddings against their consciences), I feel an urgency to write about the Lord Jesus Christ as boldly as I can across as many social media platforms as possible for as long as I can.

When you think about it, declaring the Gospel is much more important than expressing political opinions.

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