Saturday Sampler: March 11 — March 17

Extruded CrossesI admire Albert Mohler’s grasp on church history and his practical way of applying it to our present-day Christian experience. So I appreciate Ligonier for featuring Why Controversy Is Sometimes Necessary in their blog this week. Mohler reasons from insights that wouldn’t have occurred to me, making it a fascinating article.

Check out Six Significant Things I’ve Learned from John MacArthur by Leslie A of Growing 4 Life. She makes several interesting points, even beyond the six that comprise the body of her blog post.

Evaluating the rise of the NAR movement in Berean Research, Amy Spreeman demonstrates How abandoning Sola Scriptura shipwrecks your faith. I recommend this piece to anyone who believes that God supplements His Word by speaking to them directly.

Evangelism requires a balanced attitude, as Jordan Standridge shows us in Facts Don’t Care About Your Feelings, But Christians Should in The Cripplegate. His words particularly encourage me, since I often struggle with guilt that my mom evidently never came to saving faith before she died. Yes, my tone in witnessing to her was sinful, and I need to declare the Gospel with much greater gentleness and humility, but I must remember Who ultimately determines salvation.

Are You a Contender? asks Rebecca Stark in an essay for Out of the Ordinary. I especially love her point drawing a correlation between contending for the faith and knowing God’s Word. Ladies, contending for the faith is a responsibility that each of us must take seriously.

The End Time by Elizabeth Prata looks at The entertainment-driven church that’s so prevalent in evangelical culture these days.  Heed her wise words.

In a guest post for Midwest Christian Outreach, Inc, Marcia Montenegro describes The Basic Spirituality of Yoga to show us why Christians must avoid this practice. Marcia practiced Hatha Yoga for 20 years prior to her conversion to Christ, and therefore handles the topic with authority. If you’re at all considering yoga as a means of exercise, I beg you to read this article and seriously think about the points she raises.

Tim Challies suggests a few reasons Why Some People Aren’t Christians. His insights appear simple, but they are also profound. If you feel discouraged regarding your evangelism efforts, this blog post might give you some helpful perspective.

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Saturday Sampler: March 4 – March 10

Rose Sampler 02Biblical Christianity no longer enjoys widespread acceptance, so we can often feel embarrassed about our faith. In response to this problem, Josh Buice of Delivered By Grace writes I Am Not Ashamed of the Gospel. Why do those words sound so familiar to me?

Although Joe Carter’s article, Why Teenagers Are Becoming ‘Trans-Curious’, in The Gospel Coalition Blog didn’t surprise me, his discovery may not occur to each of you. Or perhaps it may. At any rate, it highlights the problems with embracing the LBGTQ narrative.

I appreciate Tom at excatholic4christ for writing Paradigm Shift: How Gospel outreach to Catholics became “anti-Catholic bigotry” to chronicle the changed relationship between Catholics and evangelicals over the last 60 years. He raises some interesting points that we really ought to consider.

Short but insightful, Michelle Lesley parodies the beloved children’s hymn by writing Jesus Loves Me: The “Contending for the Faith” Version. Check it out on her Discipleship for Christian Women blog, especially if you enjoy clever writing as much as I do.

In an article for the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, Katie McCoy uses a careful study of Hebrew words to answer the question, Did Old Testament Law Force a Woman to Marry Her Rapist? The answer surprised me, and it also reinforced the incredible value of studying God’s Word.

Writing for the Canadian Edition of The Gospel Coalition Blog, Heather Peacock suggests 8 Ways to Welcome People with Disabilities into Your Church. I only wish she had said more about adults with disabilities, but her list is an excellent start.

We all go through tough times, so How to Rejoice When Life is Hard by Pastor Colin Smith of Unlocking the Bible brings us back to an eternal perspective on suffering. In doing so, he necessarily shows us that having an eternal perspective actually enables us to rejoice in our trials. I hope I haven’t given away too much of his post! Read it to see how he fits it all together.

Elizabeth Prata of The End Time has a brilliant essay called Don’t leave the Baby in the manger or the Man of the cross that mustn’t be ignored! If we truly want to know Jesus, we have to embrace all of Him.

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A Counterfeit Discernment

Charismatic BibleWe all want discernment. Definitions of discernment vary according to theological convictions, of course, with Charismatics believing that it entails mystical gut feelings that supposedly identity some level of spiritual warfare and/or demonic activity.

I think specifically of a friend of mine in Memphis who believed God had given her the gift of discernment. During my first few months in the nursing home, she noticed that another middle-aged resident had befriended me.

This resident happened to use thick glasses that greatly magnified her eyes. Admittedly, she wasn’t a Christian and tended to use gossip as a way of establishing her importance, so she obviously wasn’t the sort of person I should have as a best friend. But nursing homes don’t allow for much socialization,  so I accepted the resident’s friendship. She also needed a friend, after all.

One day my self-proclaimed discerning friend came to visit. With a knowing look on her face, she informed me that she sensed a demonic spirit in the resident who had befriended me. She claimed she could “discern” it in the resident’s eyes.

Should I mention that a year later this “discerning” woman attended a Benny Hinn meeting, believing that God would use Hinn to heal her diabetes?

In my over 30 years in Charismatic circles, I’ve witnessed many other instances of people (usually women)  exercising the kind of mystical “discernment” that my friend in Memphis supposedly exercised in detecting a demonic spirit in the resident’s eyes. But this type of discernment, from what I see in Scripture, belonged to the Apostles. Notice that 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 lists the gift of discernment among the gifts that expired at the close of the Apostolic Age.

Rather than being a spiritual gift for post-apostolic Christians, Biblical discernment is a cultivated skill that all Christians can (and should) develop through reading and studying God’s Word.

 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. ~~Hebrews 4:12 (ESV)

The Word reveals Who the Lord is and how He thinks. Consequently, it enables us to discern good teaching from poor teaching, truth from error and wise decisions from unwise. For example, studying Scriptures about gossip would have been a better warning regarding the resident in the nursing home than a gut feeling based on glasses that magnified her eyes. And a good knowledge of Scripture would have made it obvious that Benny Hinn is neither a Biblical teacher nor someone with the gift of healing.

Let’s get over the idea that discernment is a mystical sensation that “gifted” believers possess. That misconception actually draws people away from God’s Word instead of helping them develop true discernment skills.

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Women Pastors And Questioning The Authority And Sufficiency Of Scripture

Ladies Study 03As you’ll see in tomorrow’s Saturday Sampler, the topic of women preaching has again resurfaced on social media. Two weeks ago, in fact, I engaged in a Twitter debate that began with someone objecting to my stance that 1 Timothy 2:12 still applies to churches today. Eventually the conversation migrated to the issue of whether or not God speaks apart from Scripture, but not because I meant to soften my stance on the original issue.

If anything, I see the embrace of women in the pulpit as one of many symptoms of people rejecting both Scripture’s authority and its sufficiency. We refuse to accept God’s verdict that pulpit ministry belongs exclusively to men, so we look outside His Word for some way of manipulating the text to say something other than what it says. (The Gay Christian Movement, incidentally, uses the same tactics.)

The three articles in tomorrow’s Saturday Sampler do an excellent job of detailing Scriptural arguments for confining pulpit ministry to men, so I hope you’ll budget time to read each of them. Nothing I could write here could possibly improve on any of them. But I want to contribute to the conversation by emphasizing that the overarching problem lies in a subtle disregard for God’s Word.

1 Timothy 2:14 states that women shouldn’t teach men because Eve fell into deception before Adam did. I believe this remark sheds light on the matter because Satan enticed Eve to first question God’s Word and then to modify it. Once Satan objected to her modification, she blatantly disobeyed God.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. ~~Genesis 3:1-6 (ESV)

Do you see that Eve, by eating the forbidden fruit, basically rejected the authority and sufficiency of God’s Word? Satan successfully convinced her that God wanted to withhold something good from her. Consequently she usurped Adam’s leadership and decided to override God’s explicit command.

Don’t women pastors do exactly what Eve did? They may think they honor God’s Word, but they deliberately distort Scripture for the express purpose of defying it. They elevate their desires to teach men over God’s command to submit to male leadership.

I don’t fully understand why the Lord restricts pulpit ministry to men, but I definitely do understand that the Bible is God’s Word regardless of whether or not I like everything it says. In the matter of women preaching and/or teaching men, Church must surrender personal preferences in favor of bowing to the Lord’s authority with the sweet assurance that we need nothing beyond His Word.

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So Much More Than Basic

Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth

Youth groups and other cutesy types love defining the Bible as:


Okay, it’s catchy, and it communicates the idea that Scripture teaches us how the Lord wants Christians to operate this side of heaven. Perhaps it even hints at the Bible’s authority. But the more I think about this clever little acronym, the more disturbing I find it.

As much as I’d like to walk you through all the ways this definition trivializes the Word of God, I have limited time today. Therefore, I must confine myself to discussing the word “basic.” In a sense, however, that word pretty much encapsulates the fundamental problem with this description of God’s Word.

By describing God’s laws, statutes and ordinances as “basic,” we imply that they supply only the minimum of our spiritual needs.  Girlfriends, that view of Scripture opens the door to all sorts of additives to the Word, maybe even insinuating that we require more than the Holy Spirit has given us in His Word. We cannot, however, accept even a suggestion of such a lack.

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, ~~2 Peter 1:3 (ESV)

That knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ comes to us through the revelation of Scripture. Both Old and New Testaments tell us Who He is,  what He’s done and how He views a variety of matters. Rather than providing us merely with basic instructions that need supplementation, the Bible gives us everything we need by pointing us to Jesus Christ!

As charming as our acronym may be, it strips the Bible of its richness, turning it into much less than the Holy Spirit’s glorious revelation of our magnificent God.

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Insisting That God Speaks Apart From His Word

God's MegaphoneStarting off the New Year with an intestinal bug that results in minor (but headache inducing) dehydration sorta makes blog post ideas fly out the window, ya know? So now I sit at my computer keyboard, scrambling to recall the great ideas I had during a couple separate but loosely related Twitter debates I engaged in over the weekend.

I know — arguing on Twitter accomplishes little. The utter frustration probably lowered my resistance to the stomach ailment that decimated my yesterday, and I certainly didn’t persuade either of my opponents to rethink their positions.

Both conversations centered on the sufficiency of Scripture, with my opponents vigorously objecting to the proposition that God now speaks exclusively through the Bible. Both people claim to be Christians. And maybe they are, just as I was during the years I subscribed to Charismatic theology. I don’t  believe I can judge the genuineness of their salvation based on brief Twitter exchanges. But I do find it disturbing that people who profess to be Christians demonstrate such hostility to the statement that God speaks exclusively through the pages of the Bible.

One of them admitted that she wanted more than God’s Word offers.

Certainly, Scripture does seem limited sometimes. When we face major decisions or suffer heart rending tragedy, we want God to whip out His megaphone and speak directly to us. After all, He spoke personally to people in the Bible. Just this morning, as a matter of fact, I read several conversations He had with Abraham. If He spoke directly to Old Testament prophets and New Testament apostles, why shouldn’t He speak directly to us?

Answering that question would require multiple blog posts. And writing even one such post when I still feel tired from yesterday’s tussle with whatever bug assailed me really doesn’t appeal to me at the moment. It’s a valid question that deserves a thoughtful answer. I’d prefer to approach it when I feel healthier.

I would, however, like to address my dismay that so many evangelicals in our day do expect direct revelations from God. This expectation no longer confines itself to Charismatic circles, which further distresses me. We’ve forgotten that the Holy Spirit gives us everything we need through His Word.

16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. ~~2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV)

“That the man of God may be complete,” it says. Doesn’t that phrase imply that we don’t need mystical experiences or extrabiblical words from God?

Although the Church faces threats from those outside its walls, it faces even greater threat from false teachings within those walls. And every one of those false teachings in some sense challenge the sufficiency of Scripture. Consequently, we have a responsibility to stand firmly on the knowledge that we have everything we need in the Word of God. Applying His Word to our individual circumstances admittedly takes patient study, but the Lord will faithfully use it to teach, rebuke, correct and train us in righteousness. What more could we possibly need?

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Saturday Sampler: December 24 — December 30


In a devotional study based on 1 Timothy 6:6, Pastor Colin Smith of Unlocking the Bible examines various pitfalls of material wealth. Why is Godliness with Contentment Great Gain? recalibrates our perspective on`our possessions.

It’s that time of year! But before you adopt a Bible reading plan that you’ll abandon once you hit Leviticus, consider John Chester’s approach in Reprise: You Don’t Need A Bible Reading Plan; You Need A Philosophy, which appears in Parking Space 23. Personally, I probably won’t implement all his suggestions, though I heartily agree with his overall concept.

Sometimes, however, people really need the accountability of a definite reading plan. For such people, Denny Burk offers A Plan to Read through the Bible in 2018 that may help. I’m not certain I agree 100% that we must read the entire Bible each and every year, but we should do so more often than not in order to gain context. The plan Burk recommends might encourage you to overcome any fears of tackling Genesis through Revelation this year.

Still undecided on how you’ll read God’s Word in the New Year?  Michelle Lesley of Discipleship for Christian Women links to a wide variety of Bible Reading Plans for the New Year – 2018 for our consideration. Whether we choose one of these plans or adopt a philosophy of Bible reading, make it your priority to stay in Scripture regularly and systematically, remembering that it’s the very Word of God.

Abigail at Hope and Stay reflects on resolutions in her essay, A New Year’s Invitation: Resolved, to Tear My Heart to Shreds. She rightly convicts me to examine my own progress in killing sin.

Returning to the topic of Bible reading plans, Leslie A of Growing 4 Life introduces The G4L 2018 Bible Reading Challenge by explaining why Bible literacy is so important. Even if you have already selected a reading plan, her insights on the priority of spending time in God’s Word deserve attention.

As I’ve said before, the Church needs more people like Elizabeth Prata who boldly declare the truth! In her essay, Doing my best to puncture the balloon that Ladies Ministries try to inflate for The End Time, she takes on the self-esteem teaching that so many popular women teachers propagate.


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