Saturday Sampler: February 4 — February 10

Doily Sampler Pink the Sequal

More extreme Charismatics should read Question 6: Is it right or ok to command God? by Clint Adams on Faith Contender. It’s a good reminder to approach the Lord with an attitude of humility.

Using Jen Hatmaker’s embrace of LBGTQ issues as an example, Michael J. Krueger of Canon Fodder teaches a helpful lesson in discernment with The Power of De-Conversion Stories: How Jen Hatmaker is Trying to Change Minds About The Bible. His essay demonstrates ways that de-conversion stories undermine Scriptural authority. It’s an important read, particularly as evangelicals increasingly try to reinvent Christianity.

In a guest post for Unlocking the Bible, Jen Oshman reminds us that Your Christian Life Isn’t About You. Well, duh, you say. But before you dismiss her article as being too elementary, check it out. Her process of reasoning just might surprise you.

Jordan Standridge consistently writes outstanding posts for The Cripplegate, and Why You Desperately Need the Holy Spirit perfectly exemplifies this point.

Similar to John Chester, I always believed one ought to dress certain ways for church. His article, Why I Don’t Wear A Tie in Parking Space 23, comes at the question from a much different angle than I do, but he makes pretty much the same conclusions that I’ve made.

Leave it to Leslie A of Growing 4 Life to come up with A Lesson from Football to encourage boldness for Christ. I also enjoy her unabashed celebration of the Eagles’ Super Bowl victory. Leslie, rest assured that not everyone in Boston roots for the Pats.

Justin Bullington, writing for Things Above Us, introduces a new series with his post, 8 Reasons Why The Next Missionary Support Should Be A Cessationist – Part 1. He presents compelling arguments that never would have occurred to me. I can hardly wait for the next installment!

Most of you may know that I am having trouble with my power wheelchair right now. This in turn causes secondary problems. So Michelle Lesley’s post, Basic Training: 5 Ways to Face Tests and Trials Biblically on Discipleship for Christian Women, ministers to me tremendously. If you’re suffering right now, you need to read this piece!

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Neither Homosexuality Nor Anger (Nor Any Other Sin) Is Reason

Rainbow Bible02Currently, false converts are “leaving” the faith over the issue of homosexuality. Many claim to still be Christians, but a few have been honest enough to admit that they no longer believe the Bible.  Either way, they reject time-honored Christian teaching in order to practice or support this one particular sin.

Having known many friends who experienced same sex attractions, I really do know that nobody deliberately chooses homosexuality. During my 12 years as a correspondence counselor for an ex-gay ministry, I wrote to hundreds of men and women who struggled with desires that they didn’t want. So, before you accuse me of being a heartless bigot, understand that I actually realize some (and possibly a lot) of what LBGTQ  people go through.

But I also know that every Christian struggles with at least one sin that seems intrinsic to his or her very being. In my case, it’s anger. Try as I may to twist Scripture into qualifying my anger as “righteous indignation,” God’s Word relentlessly convicts me that it’s really nothing more than selfish pride.

Now, I could leave the Lord in favor of my sin of anger, either by manipulating Scripture to justify it or by turning my back on Christianity outright. I’ve considered both options at various points in my life, if you want to know the truth. Repentance seemed too difficult, and humility didn’t appeal to me at all.

Other pet sins in my life have also tempted me to part ways with Christ, either by returning to a liberal denomination or by chucking Him altogether. Usually the latter. But, like the Twelve when Jesus asked if they wanted to join the crowds who left Him, I had one answer:

68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” ~~John 6:68-69 (ESV)

I know denying homosexual urges is hard and painful. And I know from first hand experience that standing by Scripture’s teaching that homosexuality is sinful causes pain. As Western culture grows increasingly intolerant of Christians who stand against homosexuality, I expect that I’ll experience even greater hardship for failing to adjust my theology to LBGTQ demands.

LBGTQ issues have already exposed many false converts. These false converts would rather compromise or reject God’s holy Word than resist illicit sexual temptation or cultural pressure. Although I understand their predicament, however, I must remember Who has the words of eternal life. He is the One I must follow.

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Naming Names Or Real Discernment?

IMG_1892I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. ~~2 Timothy 4:1-4 (ESV)

Those in discernment ministry love this passage, and quote verses 3-4 frequently. With great enthusiasm, no less. To be sure, the current evangelical climate highlights the widespread embrace of false teachers and practices that deviate drastically from God’s Word. Naturally, we want to know if the popular teachers we read and listen to handle the Bible correctly.

Discernment blogs that name names can be helpful in determining the legitimacy of a false teacher. Yesterday I referred you to two of the most reputable discernment blogs, knowing that each of them provides wonderful resources for vetting celebrity teachers. Clearly, I don’t categorically oppose all discernment blogs.

Several years ago, friends I’d known back in California began practicing “Christian” yoga. One even got certified as a Holy Yoga instructor (Lord, have mercy!) who posted all sorts of yoga related things on Facebook. In order to confront her with the goal of leading her to repentance (which didn’t happen — instead, she broke off contact), I started researching online. As a result, I found the world of discernment blogs.

For quite a while, those blogs taught me the importance of discernment, and identified a number of false teachers that I hadn’t discerned for myself.  Of course I was enchanted with being “in the know” about those false teachers.

But some of the bloggers I most respect (particularly Erin Benziger) began thinking about discernment ministry differently.  Through their godly example, I began to reevaluate the entire issue of discernment. Slowly I realized that the Lord wanted me to cultivate discernment by studying His Word rather than by saturating myself with discernment blogs.

Look back at 2 Timothy 4:1-4 for a moment and notice Paul’s injunction that Timothy preach the Word because people otherwise follow false teachers who tell them what they want to hear. Paul implies that knowing God’s Word and sound doctrine arms us against false teachers and deception.

That’s why I feel disappointed that most of my readers click on articles mentioning false teachers, but rarely on ones about doctrine and/or Bible Study. Naming names has its place, I admit, but it should really play a minor role in discernment.

I could point out famous teachers who pervert the doctrine of the Trinity, for instance. But if I instead write about the Trinity from a Biblical perspective, you’ll be equipped to recognize false teachers for yourselves. Similarly, I hope our upcoming study of Christ’s resurrection will add to our discernment abilities. Ladies, I want more for you than simple gossip about evangelical personalities. I want the Word of God to direct you back to the Lord Himself.

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Saturday Sampler: January 21 — January 27

Wings on Hearts

Using godly wisdom, Tim Challies offers Seven Thoughts on the Billy Graham / Mike Pence Rule that make better sense than anything else I’ve read on the topic. He applies both Scripture and common sense application of Scripture artfully, reminding all of us that we are accountable, first and foremost, to the Lord.

Consider reading What Does Your Love for Self Cause You to Do (or Not Do)? in Leslie A’s Growing 4 Life blog. Okay, she says a lot of really uncomfortable things — all of which indicate that she uses Biblical wisdom with precision.

I love Julie Ganschow’s compassion and wisdom in Dear Post Abortive Sister, On the Anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Appearing in Biblical Counseling for Women, this article empathizes with women who have terminated pregnancies and gently leads them to the forgiveness found in Jesus Christ.

The arguing over whether or not women should be pastors annoys me. So I appreciate Denny Burk for writing A mere complementarian reading of the most contested verse in the evangelical gender debate — 1 Timothy 2:12 to explain the clear meaning of the verse. People, this isn’t rocket science!

In Is It Possible for Christians to Idolize the Bible?, Tom Olson takes on the current attitude that we should focus less on Scripture and more on Jesus. His article, which appears in Unlocking The Bible, addresses this attitude fairly and wisely. Please make time to read it.

Secular media is abundantly reporting the story of Larry Nassar, the doctor for the U.S. Gymnastics Team convicted of molesting over 150 little girls. The media, however, is downplaying the victim impact statement of Rachel Denhollander, the woman who made the first accusation. Why? Most likely because of her stunning presentation of the Gospel. Thankfully, Todd Pruitt of Mortification of  Spin provides both the transcript and the video in his post, Law and Gospel in Judge Aquilina’s Court.

Writing for For The Church, Lara d’Entremont teaches us How to Be Both a Grace-Filled and Discerning Church Member. We sure need to implement her advice in this climate of bickering among self-proclaimed discernment ministries.

Cell phones bug me. So I really love Allen Cagle’s piece, Deep Growth in a Shallow World, which Parking Space 23 features. His counsel isn’t especially ground breaking, but it gets terribly neglected in this digital age.

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A Less Popular Approach To Discernment Ministry

Intricate Boarder 03When I started The Outspoken TULIP, I considered myself a discernment blogger because I named false teachers. Frequently.  At the time, I believed doing so was necessary because so many Christian women fell for popular teachers who characteristically mishandle God’s Word and promote errors like mysticism and self-esteem.

Sadly, even excellent pastors who preach solid, expositional sermons neglect to warn women about these teachers, and consequently women (even women in the best Bible-believing churches) erect War Rooms and claim that God speaks to them personally. So yes, the Church does need people who will expose false teaching and even call out false teachers.

Did you know that all but one of the New Testament epistles deal with false teaching in the First Century Church? Neither did I, until a few years ago.  Momentarily, I want to tell you why we seldom recognize these letters as corrective tools against error, but right now I want to acknowledge that, from the very beginning of church history, false teaching was a dominant problem. My longtime readers will recall that Jude found this matter so pressing that it kept him from writing about the subject nearest to his heart.

Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. ~~Jude 3-4 (ESV)

So okay, there’s Biblical precedent for identifying false teachers. And all too often, it’s even necessary, as in Jude’s case. In reassessing the role of discernment ministry in the Church, therefore, I’m by no means implying that we should ignore the tremendous impact that false teaching has on evangelicals.

But lately many discernment ministries (particularly online blogs and podcasts) have become downright nasty. The obvious intent to ruin reputations and unearth salacious details has become obsessive, while there seems to be precious little genuine pleading for these teachers, or even their followers, to repent and find restoration in the Lord.

We in the discernment community forget that the New Testament epistles typically address false teaching by offering correct teaching rather than evaluating all the points of the heresies that prompted each letter. And while Paul and John certainly do name names, they do it very sparingly (Paul mostly does it in his letters to Timothy, not in his general epistles). For that reason, we have trouble understanding the epistles as refutations against false teaching.

Most reputable discernment bloggers agree that 21st Century evangelicals show an increasing susceptibility to false teaching because of Biblical illiteracy. This being the case, shouldn’t we follow the Biblical model of combating false teaching with sound doctrine, directly confronting error gently and only when necessary? This isn’t a popular approach to discernment ministry, I realize, but it may be worth consideration.

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$74.90 Will Never Adapt To Your Truth Of $7.49

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“We each have our own truth.”

Really?  Try that line at your local supermarket when the cashier rings your total as $74.90 but you believe you should pay $7.49. Your truth isn’t going to impress the store manger when she sees that the register indeed totals your purchases at $74.90. Your truth must give way to the actual truth that the register, the cashier and the manger all verify. Your truth loses its authority.

Well, you say, the relative nature of truth applies to spiritual truth. For example, Buddhists have their truth, Christians have theirs, atheists have theirs and so forth. That’s the very last sentence I uttered before the Lord brought me to salvation 47 years ago, and it’s no more true now than it was that day.

I know because Jesus said that He is the Truth.

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

As we said last week, Jesus’ resurrection proves His divinity, therefore making it imperative to believe everything He taught and claimed during His earthly ministry. Since He, as the only Human Being to rise permanently from the dead, calls Himself the Truth, He cancels out all other perceptions of truth. As a result, He allows no alternate way to God.

Most people balk at such an exclusive spirituality. Usually their unwillingness to accept it comes, not from intellectual objections, but from an instance on living according to their own terms. Instinctively, they realize that, if Jesus really is the Truth, He has the authority to rule their lives as He pleases.

Those who try to escape Christ’s authority develop their own truths because don’t like many of His commands. In most cases, they either want a spiritual system that affirms their self-esteem or they want sex without restrictions. Sometimes a combination of the two. So when Jesus commands faith in Him rather than sacraments and/or mysticism, they reject it. When He commands that we enjoy sex only within heterosexual marriage, we rebel.

The implications of Jesus being the only Truth disturb people so deeply that they develop their own truths. Truths that allow them to ignore the Lord or to redesign Him in conformity to their individual tastes. In so doing, they then erase any possibility of objective truth that would threaten their autonomy. We Christians are more than welcome to believe as we wish just as long as we stop saying that Jesus is the truth.

Self-made truths, of course, work about as well as paying $7.49 for $74.90 worth of groceries.


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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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