Saturday Sampler: October 7 — October 13

Symetry Sampler 02Looking at how believers should handle personal sin, Mike Ratliff of Possessing the Treasure rhetorically asks, Do genuine Christians need to confess their sins and seek forgiveness and cleansing? You undoubtedly know the short answer, but Ratliff provides Scriptural substantiation for that answer.

As happens every October, Reformed writers turn their attention to the 16th Century. You’ll see plenty of articles about Luther and Calvin, which makes Steven J. Lawson’s Zurich Revolutionary: Ulrich Zwingli so refreshing. You can find this article on the Ligonier blog.

Leslie A, in Growing 4 Life, passionately declares I’m Not the One Who Moved. She addresses quite a few problems in present-day evangelicalism, rightly tracing them back to an abandonment of three of the five Solas.

As the owner of Berean Research, Amy Spreeman is Holding On to Scripture as she reevaluates the role and implementation of discernment ministry. Join me in praying for Amy and her blogging partner Marsha West as they go through this season of searching God’s Word for wisdom.

Complementing Amy’s post, SlimJim of The Domain for Truth writes Beyond cage stage: Beware of being a Nurmagomedov rage phase Calvinist/Apologist. Given the angry climate on social media these days, all of us could probably benefit from his counsel.

I’m happy to share Who will separate us from the love of Christ? by Mike Ratliff. Although I’ve already placed an article of his in this edition of Saturday Sampler, the Perseverance of the Saints is taught so seldom that I adamantly believe as many people as possible need exposure to this encouraging doctrine.

C.T. Adams of Faith Contender answers a question about Universal Consciousness with a compelling argument for loving God with our minds.

Reflecting on an encounter she had with morning glories, Elizabeth Prata reprises Why can’t they see she’s a false teacher? One reason: “Deception by investment” in The End Time. If you’ve ever experienced backlash for warning someone about a popular teacher, this essay will encourage you.

History really doesn’t have to be boring. And even church history can include a little romance. Don’t believe me? Then check out Simonetta Carr’s Anne Bohemia and her Multilingual Scriptures on Place for Truth and prepare to enjoy a wonderful love story. As an added bonus, you’ll learn some lesser known tidbits about things leading up to the Reformation.

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Saturday Sampler: September 30 — October 6

Symetry Sampler

If you want to read something truly exquisite, go to The End Time to read Elizabeth Prata’s essay,The wind blows. It gives a beautiful illustration of the way the Holy Spirit works with believers.

Of course I love 14 Women of the Reformation That You Probably Never Knew About by Justin Holcomb for Core Christianity. Actually, you’ve probably heard about some of them (particularly Katherina von Bora), but most of them may surprise you. All of them, however, offer encouragement as we see how God used them to advance His kingdom.

Writing for Crossway Articles, Julie Melilli lists 10 Things You Should Know about Discipling People with Special Needs.

I Am Woman…I Don’t Have To Roar, declares Jillian McNeely in her post for Biblical Woman this week. You might take a look at how she handles 1 Peter 3:7. Christian women definitely need this perspective as egalitarian ideas increasingly infiltrate evangelical churches.

Are you single and wondering what to look for in a husband? SlimJim, a pastor who blogs at The Domain for Truth, counsels, Singles, Court Someone Who Loves God. His advice includes a reason that Christians seldom consider.

In an article for Ligonier, Michael Horton discusses the Two Planks of Sola Scriptura by drawing from the writings of Martin Luther. Before you dismiss this piece as  just another history lesson, consider the possibly that it could actually provide insight into the reasons we must stand for the sufficiency of Scripture.

Leslie A of Growing 4 Life takes a penetrating look at The Issues Behind the Issues. You’ll appreciate her straightforward candor and commitment to Biblical truth.

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God’s Word — Nothing Added

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Some people believe that evangelicalism has reached a serious crisis point. I tend to agree. Professing Christians import worldly philosophies and practices at breakneck speed, leaving the faithful both breathless and  bewildered.  We wonder how we can ever restore Biblical Christianity.

As deplorable as the 21st Century Church has become, this isn’t the first time the visible church has strayed. And I tend to think that Continue reading

The Mess The Church Is In Now

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Few Christians disagree that the visible church is corrupt. It’s pretty much impossible to ignore the moral compromises infecting all denominations, as well as independent churches as scandals proliferate. Social media only makes matters worse. Some “discernment blogs” (particularly Pulpit & Pen) absolutely delight in reporting every negative tidbit they can find. To be honest, scandal sells.

Admittedly, sometimes we need to name names. I have boldly written about Beth Moore, Rick Warren, Sarah Young, Matthew Vines and others who inject false teaching into evangelical circles and thereby distort the Gospel. Additionally I have addressed popular trends like Holy Yoga, direct revelation, seeker-sensitive churches and the Social Justice Movement many times on this blog. I will continue doing so when I believe situations warrant such articles.

The visible church is unquestionably a mess.

We often forget, however, that the visible church has always been a mess. Paul wrote most of his epistles for the express purpose of confronting false doctrines and sinful practices within the First Century churches. As Roman Catholicism developed its system of justification by works, few professing Christians understood the Gospel of salvation by the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

The Protestant Reformation restored the Bible to common people, although many Christians died as martyrs. Catholic authorities accused these men and women of heresy because they accepted Scripture’s authority over that of the pope.

All too soon after the Reformation, Enlightenment philosophers attracted the attention of the Puritans, enticing them to integrate rationalism into theology. From there, liberalism and psychology easily blended into churches, always at the expense of doctrinal purity.

A friend of mine once scoffed at my blog posts about church history, explaining that she cares more about the mess the church is in now. Actually, I share her concern. That’s precisely why I blog so frequently about people and trends that assault the authority, inerrancy and sufficiency of God’s Word.

But in combating the current mess in the visible church, it can help to go back in time. Certainly, our ultimate stop must be the First Century, as we stand unwaveringly  on the Word of God. We must study, interpret and apply it in context. That’s why Michelle Lesley and I write regular Bible Studies in our blogs that lead you through large portions of Scripture, showing you the progression of thought propelling each verse.

Church history can aid our application of Scripture by showing us how Christians before us dealt with messes in the visible church. We can learn from the things they did right, but also from the things they did wrong. They can teach us how to identify false teaching, and consequently how to correct it with Scripture.

The visible church most assuredly is in a mess now. Church history testifies that it’s pretty much always in a mess. If we really want to restore the church to purity, why not trust church history to teach us how to apply God’s Word?

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Saturday Sampler: June 24 — June 30

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In The Domain for Truth, SlimJim writes a short, thought-provoking article entitled VBS and thought about Christian Unity. It’s such a simple concept. But I think its simplicity is precisely what makes it so brilliant!

How are you doing when it comes to reading your Bible daily? Allen Nelson IV, writing for Things Above Us, decided to read his Bible every day after being convicted to do so back in 2008. Now he encourages us to follow suit with 5 Reflections from 10 Years of Daily Bible Reading. If you struggle in this spiritual discipline, this post will definitely give you hope!

If you want some encouraging news regarding freedom of religion, you’ll want to read Supreme Court vacates lower court’s verdict again florist by Denny Burk. I certainly didn’t expect this ruling.

Responding to recent attempts to suppress literary works that contain elements of racism, SharaC of Into the Foolishness of God speaks up In Defense Of That Little House On The Prairie to demonstrate that we shouldn’t try to rewrite history simply for political correctness. Perhaps we get offended too easily these days.

Writing for Whole Magazine, Jessica Hageman explores How Our Incorrect View of Good Affects Our Daily Lives in a way that makes theology practical. It’s tempting, I know, to regard doctrine and Bible Study as irrelevant to our everyday lives, which is precisely why Jessica’s perspective is so necessary. I recommend her article with my whole heart.

Phil Newton’s piece in Founders Ministries examines the claim of personal revelation when people say God Told Me… with an incident from the Reformation. Okay, you don’t like history. I know that. But give it a chance by reading what Newton has to say. You just might discover that discernment ministry isn’t a new invention.

Usually, you can regard the links in Saturday Sampler as endorsements of the blogs I cite (which is why I no longer include links to The Gospel Coalition Blog). I have reservations about Kristen Wetherell as well, but some of her posts deserve recommendation. 14 Ideas to Make Your Bible Reading More Consistent is one such post because it encourages us to get into God’s Word regularly. So if you struggle in reading your Bible on a consistent basis, this one is definitely worth reading.

Leslie A of Growing 4 Life tells us precisely what we need Before We Can Learn to Discern. I know from experience that this isn’t a popular approach to discernment ministry, but ladies, Leslie speaks truth here! Please, if you desire to be discerning, take her words to heart.

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How Can Christians Respond To 21st Century Controversies?

ancient-church-01Last year, despite a nearly universal aversion to history in 21st Century Western culture, many evangelicals tolerated talk about the beginnings of the Protestant Reformation. After all, October 31, 2017 marked the 500th anniversary of  Martin Luther’s infamous act of posting his 95 Theses. Though the majority of Christians remained pretty much indifferent to this anniversary, they didn’t begrudge Reformed Christians our celebration. It was understandable, in a bewildering sort of way. And on November 1st, everything returned to normal.

But should we have closed our history books to once again gather dust and cobwebs? Can we now assure ourselves that the significance of the Reformation pales in comparison to the issues in our present time? The more progressive branch of evangelicals (including those who claim to be Reformed) now busy themselves with so-called social justice concerns like racism and misogyny, filing the Reformation away as irrelevant to today’s Christian culture. In turn, those of us who see dangers in the social justice movement push the Reformation aside in order to address more immediate matters.

Perhaps you feel that way. Perhaps you think last year’s celebration was all well and good, but that was then and this is now. You may be surprised to learn that I share the temptation to move on from the 16th Century and focus on 2018.

The Protestant Reformation, however, actually gives us the necessary tools for dealing with contemporary issues. I say this because the 16th Century Reformers all pointed back to Scripture. They correctly believed that Roman Catholicism had corrupted Christianity with unbiblical teachings and practices that took people away from pure devotion to God. They remedied that problem by making the Bible accessible to everyone and then by teaching it systematically through verse-by-verse exposition. Most importantly, they affirmed its authority as the Word of God.

Present-day believers face serious issues unknown to people 500 years ago. But Martin Luther and his contemporaries faced equally serious issues unknown to the First Century apostles. Yet beneath all the issues that seem so unique to each generation lie principles that the Lord addresses in His Word. For that reason, the Reformation teaches us the value of returning to Scripture.

Additionally, the Reformers model ways to handle persecution. I particularly think of William Tyndale, who was savagely executed for translating the Bible into English. The Reformers suffered greatly for their commitment to God’s Word. As our own times produce increasing hostility towards Christianity, we’d do well to study those Reformation martyrs instead of whining that we’re losing our religious liberties. Indeed, many Reformers like John Knox probably would be puzzled that Protestants would consider religious liberty to be an inalienable right.

Dear sisters, please don’t relegate the Reformation to mothballs. The grand celebrations may be long over as we exchange heated Tweets about white Christians perpetually repenting for how our ancestors offended black people or about the Southern Baptist Convention’s alleged misogyny. But we can best respond to such controversies by following the examples of the Reformers. Like them, we must go back to God’s Word and rightly divide it. Now, more than ever, we must remember the Reformation.

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Saturday Sampler: May 27 — June 2

balloon-turtle-samplerElizabeth Prata certainly hasn’t “unhitched” from the Old Testament. Her essay, The Man of God and the old prophet (and don’t forget the shriveled hand!) in The End Time, shows how delightful it is to discover lessons from Old Testament history that apply to Christian life today.

In The Upward Call, Kim Shay pleads, Older woman, don’t be a trope. Being officially an older woman, I greatly appreciate her admonition.

Even Beth Moore the Broken Clock can come up with correct ideas once in a while. Okay, her solutions lack Biblical integrity, but occasionally she actually identifies a problem accurately, as Jason Marianna reveals in his thought-provoking post in Things Above Us. Don’t worry — he’s not endorsing Beth Moore. But he acknowledges that the Lord may, in one rare instance, have used her to shed light on a real problem within the church. Who knew?

Catholicism teaches that the concept of Purgatory comes from Scripture. Tom, blogging at excatholic4christ, refutes that error with Does 2 Timothy 1:16-18 teach Purgatory? This entire issue gives one more example of practicing discernment by understanding the Word of God in its proper context.

I’ve never thought of self-control as the linchpin for the fruit of the Spirit. But in her article for Biblical Woman, Courtney McLean celebrates The Gritty, Grace-Filled Virtue of Self-Control by showing how this attribute activates love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness and gentleness.

Oh boy, do we despise being told that we can’t do something! But Kristen Wetherell rightly contends that The Only Way You Can Do God’s Will requires first acknowledging your absolute inability to do God’s will. Intrigued?  Then check out her blog post on Unlocking The Bible.

I once taught that same sex attractions were only sinful if a person acted on them. In his latest Pyromaniacs post, Regarding “Sexual Orientation,” Evil Desire, and the Question of Moral Neutrality, Phil Johnson corrects my erroneous thinking by appealing to the teachings of Scripture. Praise God for Christians who stand firmly on God’s truth, even when doing so contradicts popular opinion!

Appealing to the writings of Martin Luther, Stephen Nicholas of Ligonier answers the question, Is Sola Scriptura a Rejection of Teachers and Tradition? This essay gives a wonderful response to both critics of Reformation principles and people who misuse those principles.

Writing on the Phylicia Masonheimer blog, Anatasis Faith explains How to Avoid the Bible Journaling Mentality that adversely affects so many Christian women. If you only read one blog post featured in this Sampler, make it this one!

We end Saturday Sampler with another Elizabeth Prata essay, this one responding to Kim Shay’s piece above. Act Your Age expands on Kim’s points, drawing from a wider variety of Scriptures to demonstrate how God calls older women (like me) to behave. She beautifully rounds out Kim’s thoughts, adding her own touch of wit.

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