Saturday Sampler: July 16 — July 22

Critter Sampler 01Too bad Summer White’s Peterson and the Ghosts in the Machine (appearing in Sheologians) didn’t reach my in-box until after I published last week’s Saturday Sample, because Summer raises some extremely interesting angles to the controversy.

Examining one of the more prevalent false dichotomies among evangelicals, Mark McIntyre of Attempts at Honesty presents External versus Internal Focus to remind us that the Great Commission involves more than just evangelism and more than just discipleship.

Speaking of good reminders, Elizabeth Prata cautions us against Lucky Dipping by her post in The End Time. Her warning isn’t particularly novel, but it can’t be repeated too often.

Interestingly, Nikki Campbell of Unified in Truth also directs us toward proper Bible study techniques in the article Rightly Handling the Word of Truth (part 2). The principles laid out can help us in our own understanding of Scripture, and they can also assist us in discerning false teaching. Therefore this post deserves our careful attention.

Regular readers of Saturday Sampler know that One Hired Late In The Day is a blog I love to feature. This week’s article, The narrow gate, looks at the Lord’s claim that salvation excludes many people — including professing Christians who show no fruit of genuine conversion. Jennifer substantiates her points with a good variety of Scripture, making this an essay well  worth your time and attention.

Those of you following the Eugene Peterson fiasco might appreciate Amy Spreeman’s  Eugene Peterson’s error isn’t about gay weddings in Berean Research. I think she gets to the heart of the matter quite effectively.

Michelle Lesley weighs in with The Peterson Predicament and LifeWay’s Peculiar Policies. She raises excellent questions that this Southern Baptist Convention publishing company should have answered years ago.

As women, none of us should serve as the pastors that John Chester directly addresses in his Parking Space 23 article, Church 101. That doesn’t mean we can’t learn from the principles he puts forth, however. I especially appreciate his thoughts on the purpose of the church.

Am I including Elizabeth Prata’s The Approachableness of Jesus (Reprise) because she mentions John Adams? Maybe a little (I live near Quincy, MA). But seriously, she uses Adams’ struggle with royal protocol to highlight the graciousness of the Lord Jesus Christ to receive us into His presence without  condition. Her post fills me with adoration for the King of kings!

Yes friends, it’s true. I’m really giving you two posts by Michelle Lesley on top of two by Elizabeth Prata this week. Michelle’s Throwback Thursday ~ Persecution in the Pew brings back an article Michelle wrote nearly two years ago about a sad form of persecution that I’ve personally experienced. As we stand for Biblical truth, we should expect pushback — even from professing Christians.

I’m new to Lara d’Entremont’s blog, Renewed in Truth Discipleship, so I can’t yet fully endorse it (I have a sneaking suspicion that I eventually will). Her post, 7 Mistakes You Might Be Making When Studying the Bible, certainly indicates that  she’s worth reading. See if you agree.

Tom at excatholic4christ writes Papal allies accuse American right-wing Catholics and evangelicals of joining together in “ecumenism of hate” to remind us that the Gospel is not about American politics. It’s an interesting read for many reasons.

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I Make A Decidedly Putrid Message (And So Do You)

Putrid worksIn recent years, the notion that we can “be the message” has resurrected the old cliche, “Preach the Gospel–if necessary, use words.”  The social gospel movement, in particular, capitalizes on this cliche for the purpose of using works of charity almost in place of preaching the Gospel. They rationalize that, because of their acts of service, people will ask what motivates them to serve, thus opening the door for evangelism.

In an effort to discern the validity of this popular idea, we need to examine it in light of what the Word of God teaches. I’ll refer to several Scriptures, so please click the links; quoting so many of them directly in one blog post might put me in danger of violating the ESV copyright permission.

I agree that a person’s behavior, in general,  demonstrates his true beliefs.  James 2:14-26 indeed maintains that  “faith without works is dead.” Jesus Himself warned that He will reject those who call Him Lord while actively disobeying His commandments (Matthew 7:21-27). The proponents of the social gospel must be commended, therefore, for their desire to address the obvious disconnect between what evangelicals profess to believe and how we actually live. The non-Christian world sees our hypocrisy, and uses it as an excuse to reject Christ.

That said, our good behavior, in and of itself, can only (at best) lead people to ask us about the Lord (1 Peter 3:15). Of course, we should remember the broader context of this verse. 1 Peter 3:8-22 offers guidelines to Christians in the midst of suffering for their commitment to  Christ. The First Century believers to whom Peter originally wrote amazed their critics by clinging to Jesus when simply renouncing Him would have liberated them from persecution. They did far more than live good lives. They proclaimed Christ in an empire that made such proclamations punishable by death.

Their potential martyrdom went far beyond “right living.” Good behavior certainly reflects God’s standards for personal holiness, but without accompanying words about the grace of God that transforms a sinner, such good behavior degenerates into self-righteous morality that the Lord considers putrid (see Isaiah 64:6).

As a matter of fact, dear readers, not one of us leads a life that replaces the need to articulate the Gospel. We are declared righteous by virtue of the Lord’s death, burial and resurrection rather than by our deeds, meaning that our lives continue to be tainted by our proclivity to sin (see Romans 7:7-24). We should, of course, walk in obedience to the Lord, but we dare not entertain the notion that social justice is enough to win anyone to Christ.

The Gospel requires that you and I actually talk about sin, hell, repentance and the fact that only Jesus provides salvation from God’s wrath. We can dig wells, help children with disabilities and run food pantries all we want, but unless we accompany those activities with a clear proclamation of the Gospel, people will see no difference between us and members of the Elks club. And they’ll be looking at us, not at the Lord Jesus Christ.

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Saturday Sampler: June 11 — June 17

Bezier Flower SamplerLike Michelle Lesley, I’d never heard of Karen Ehman, but based on The Mailbag: Did Jesus Really Teach Karen Ehman’s 3 Step Life Plan? I don’t think I’ll bother. In addition to examining questionable aspects of Ehman’s teaching, Michelle shows us the importance of keeping everything we read in context.

Praise the Lord that Jennifer at One Hired Late In The Day pays attention to her Bible! She supplies Some Encouragement for Marrieds & Parents in response to the Social Gospel and its call to radical living.

Is The Bible A Love Letter From God? Stephen Altroggie of The Blazing Center says no. Find out why he disagrees with this popular view of God’s Word.

Lysa TerKeurst is, from what I’ve read, a false teacher. I’m still researching her, but I know enough about her to be very wary of her. Sadly, she’s announced this week that she’s decided to divorce her husband, alleging he’s been unfaithful. In response, Leslie A. of Growing 4 Life has written Some thoughts on ending a marriage. I appreciate Leslie’s balanced, compassionate approach to this matter. This is not a time for self-righteousness or glee, but a time to pray for Lysa’s repentance.

Highlighting two very different incidents from Martin Luther’s life, Allen Cagle writes If he is inviting me to my death, then I will come for Parking Space 23. Even if you don’t normally like history, this article is an inspiring portrayal of courage. Don’t cheat yourself out of it!

As a woman with a disability, I resonate with Elizabeth Prata’s Two or more good things about having a disability in The End Time. It’s not a typical Elizabeth Prata essay, but I love the way she points to the Lord’s goodness and sovereignty in giving us various trials.

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Saturday Sampler: February 26 — March 4

cross-sampler-02Commenting on something she read in The New York Times, Elizabeth Prata has an essay in  The End Time discussing Practical magic’s resurgence that I believe is worth your attention.

In Learn to Discern: The Corruption of Christianity (the latest in a series in Growing 4 Life), Leslie A. shares an essay by her brother,  Pastor Dean. Dean examines six popular trends which have dangerously weakened the visible church.

Once again, Rebekah Womble knocks it out of the park on her blog, Wise In His Eyes. This time, I recommend her blog post, Women, Don’t Feed on Fluff for its Scriptural guidelines on discerning whether an author or teacher is worth our time (and money).

As Reformed Christians commemorate this 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, we must consider the differences between us and Roman Catholics. Blogging for The Cripplegate, Jordan Standridge asks Which Jesus does your Roman Catholic friend believe in? This post offers helpful guidelines for witnessing to Catholic friends and family.

Michael J. Krueger has been writing a series for Canon Fodder. His latest installment, Taking Back Christianese #8: “It’s Not My Place to Judge Someone Else”, takes on the common misapplication of Matthew 7:1.

Lisa Morris of Conforming to the Truth cautions us about The Upside Down Truth About Quick Bible Devotions. Ladies, we can do better.

Are you observing Lent this year? If so, Michelle Lesley lists 40 Things to Give Up for Lent as an encouragement to think Biblically about the season. If you wonder why (after writing so strongly against observing Lent Tuesday) I’ve included her article on this Saturday Sampler, read what she has to say.

Even through Brian Lee’s article, Repent of Lent: How Spiritual Disciplines Can Be Bad For Your Soul, appeared in The Federalist three years ago, it raises points about the practice that mustn’t be overlooked. Perhaps this is the most Biblical treatment of Lent I’ve read so far.

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Saturday Sampler: January 15–January 21

bible-samplerThe cult of Scientology is back in the news. In her compelling blog post, An Unexplored Mission Field, Erin Benziger of Do Not Be Surprised describes how this organization’s basic teachings contradict Biblical Christianity. But she goes further by reminding us what our response should be. Her article, ladies, helps us understand the real purpose and proper use of discernment.

In Don’t Worry Be Godly – Pt 2, Clint Archer of The Cripplegate concludes his series on anxiety. His practical application of Scripture encourages me. I think those of you who struggle with anxiety will appreciate this teaching.

Leslie A. recently had an unpleasant encounter with facial tissue while trying to survive a nasty cold. Her experience results in Velvet Soft, an interesting essay in Growing 4 Life that examines the need for discernment regarding “Christian” books and entertainment. Don’t necessarily assume they’re really Biblical.

Is Sexy a Sin? Candi Finch answers that question in her essay for Biblical Woman.

Speaking of important questions, Jennifer at One Hired Late In The Day asks Do You Consider Yourself A ‘Red Letter’ Christian? She explains what that term means and why it’s unbiblical.

Including a lesson on understanding Scripture verses in context, Rachel at danielthree18 writes Theology Thursday: All Things are Possible with God to prevent us from misapplying this beloved sentiment. And just when I’d planned to jump off the roof of our apartment building to try flying! Man, Rachel, you’re such a killjoy!

The division over President Trump is sad, and even sadder when professing Christians express animosity toward him. Therefore I appreciate Michelle Lesley for outlining 7 Ways to Pray During the Trump Administration, which carefully takes us through God’s Word to give us a Biblical attitude.

Rebekah Womble of Wise In His Eyes writes Let Me Be a Woman to review Elizabeth Eliott’s book of the same title. Even without reading the actual book, I gained great encouragement from Rebekah’s review. I think you’ll also learn some things about being a godly woman by reading it.

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Saturday Sampler: August 20–August27

Rose SamplerAlthough Amy Spreeman wrote The Six Hallmarks of a NAR Church for Pirate Christian Radio’s blog, The Berean Examiner, back in June, I just came across it this week. Amy provides clear characteristics of this unbiblical movement that’s infiltrating evangelical churches, giving Bible-believing Christians tools for discernment.

Joel James continues his series on The Cripplegate blog by writing The flawed theory of “social” missions and 8 biblical objections to social-work as ministry.He rightfully questions whether or not this approach to ministry obscures the true Gospel message, while conceding that missionaries in closed countries may needed to enter those countries as humanitarian workers (I personally know several missionaries who have had to do so). Joel’s concluding post, Acts and answers: what is the mission of missions, redirects us to positive ways of fulfilling the Great Commission.

In a sobering but necessary blog post for her blog, The End Time, Elizabeth Prata discusses The Drumbeat Warning of Divine Judgment on the USA. Like Elizabeth, I believe the Lord is definitely judging our country, and persecution isn’t very far away.

I’m not sure whether or not I completely agree with 7 Dangers of Embracing Mere Therapeutic Forgiveness by Mike Leake of Borrowed Light, but I definitely like his premise that we forgive out of obedience to God rather than for our own psychological benefit. Should we forgive those who don’t repent?  That’s where I question his line of reasoning.  But I’m glad his article gives me food for thought.

You Are Not the Bride of Christ writes Ryan of A Small Work. He lists several reasons for rejecting the concept that individual Christians can (or should) think of the Lord Jesus Christ in romantic terms. Praise God for this wonderful essay!

Michelle Lesley reminds us, in Weeping with Those Who Weep, that somehow saying the right things can be the wrong thing to to do.

 

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Saturday Sampler: August 14–August 20

Doily Sampler PinkKim Olsen of DiscernIt posts a transcript of Coy Wylie’s sermon, How to Test the Spirits, which he first preached on March 26, 2000. He faithfully exposits 1 John 4:1-6 to demonstrate how to distinguish between false teaching and solid Biblical doctrine.

I completely agree with Logan Judy’s essay,  Why Entertainment is Costing the Church its Young People in A Clear Lens. God certainly showed me tremendous mercy in my teenage years by placing me in a group that focused almost exclusively on studying the Bible and evangelism.

Michelle Lesley braved the floods of Baton Rouge to give us The Mailbag: Attending a Homosexual “Wedding?” She keeps her answer short and Biblical, making a clear case for her advice.

Praise God for bold women like Elizabeth  Prata of The End Time! Her essay, A Warning to Miracle-Mongers, forces us to consider some lesser publicized implications of miracles. Her perspective gives a sense of sobriety to the discussion that most people fail to consider.

Another on-target article from Leslie A. of Growing 4 Life: Change is in the Wind. I started The Outspoken TULIP  precisely because of the many types of change that loom in our near future,  and for that reason  her blog post wonderfully compliments everything I’ve been writing. Please check out her thoughts and Scriptures of encouragement for believers.

We’ve all experienced conflict when we present the Gospel to loved ones who  don’t know the Lord. In his article, When Jesus Brings a Sword, Tim Challies comforts us by reminding us that the Lord forewarned us about such divisions. If you’re struggling in your evangelistic efforts, this piece will greatly encourage you!

Elly Achok Olare, a Reformed pastor from Kenya, writes How God Saved Me from the Prosperity Gospel for The Gospel Coalition Blog. His poignant testimony highlights the spiritual abuse that Pentecostal and Charismatic theology often inflicts on suffering people.

Do you understand what the Roman Catholic Church means by the term “unity?” Mark Gilbert’s blog post, Is the Pope Catholic for GoThereFor.com answers that question in a startling way. If you support ecumenical efforts, you may want to consider what Gilbert says and possibly reevaluate your position.

Social action in missions had always seemed like a good idea to me…until recently.  I have developed some of the same concerns that The Cripplegate’s Joel James expresses in his blog post, 2 problems with social action in missions. I look forward to reading the remainder of this series next week.

Jared C. Wilson’s article for The Gospel Coalition Blog, Top 10 Things I Wish Worship Leaders Would Stop Saying hits the nail on the head! Church services aren’t high school pep rallies, nor is having fun the reason we gather on Sunday mornings. I praise God that Wilson reminds us to treat worship with reverence.
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