Four Types of Sermons the Pastor Must Avoid — I’m always reading posts about preaching and ministry and this one hits close to home. I’m only guilty of one of the four. I wonder if Jody can go and read the four and figure out which one. I’m actually guilty of two of the four, but only one of them recently.
I’m trying to be generous here, no pun intended, but when I saw that apostate Pastor Ed Young, down in the metroplex, preached a sermon this weekend entitled: “What Would Jesus Say to Ellen DeGeneres,” I realized once again the truth of 2 Timothy 4:3-4 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.
Do people really sit and listen to that garbage? Do people really think that is a sample of biblical preaching? Or did I miss the passage that said: ”we preach Christ crucified, and every other fanciful desire of our hearts.”
There are days where I realize the greatest disappointments in life are the lives we have here in America. As I look out into our culture and the war that has been waged by those on the left of those things we prize and cherish on the right, it seems hopeless. With the school systems systematically indoctrinating our children to the evils of our very own country, and criticizing the values that made this country great, I don’t see us ever coming back from the cultural cliff we flew off some time ago. I know the big concern is the fiscal cliff before us. But the bigger problem is the cultural and moral cliff we have long since jumped.
Those on the left are making any stand for morality more and more difficult with each passing day. I witnessed this first hand after the gay-marriage debate hit full steam on Facebook and those who saw my stand for morality called me a bigot. It’s not as though my views are actually anything new. But the views of those of us who let the Bible dictate our beliefs are now unacceptable for those in polite company because we stand for that which is right, according to the only place we have for know what is right, the Word of God. It is not that there haven’t always been those who have opposed our views. Naysayers and atheists have always existed. What is so disconcerting is the reality that many who oppose us and our views say that they believe in God and the Bible. It is as if the words of God have become whatever we want to believe, except when it comes to judging between good and bad morality. Those verses in the Bible seem to be the marching orders of those on the left and in the middle. The other verses of the Bible which actually condemn homosexuality and sexual perversion, don’t fit the template.
In fact, I feel one of the reasons that so many have come to champion the cause of homosexuals is two fold: first, they fool themselves into thinking they are taking a moral high road like those who stood in the face of slavery and unjust laws towards blacks. In their minds, they equate the gay-rights movements as if it were the equal-rights movements of the 1960s. I noted on my blog those blacks who strongly disagree with this idea and you can read their own words at The Minority Republican.
The other reason so many are fighting for gay-rights is that they inherently know that homosexuality is a perversion. However, if they can justify the position of those who are gay, then certainly, they can justify their own immorality. This is why the topic of gay marriage always comes up on news shows that have evangelicals on them. The hosts love to bring it up because they know evangelicals stand opposed to homosexuality… well, at least they did.
So what do we do? How do we combat these views that are so contradictory to Scripture?
We could attempt to force our views on others like Islam and others do, but that would not bring about any real change of heart, which is what is necessary.
The only means given to us as Christians: prayer and perseverance in preaching the truth. As Christians, we must persevere in all things and that means standing for the truth. I constantly have to remind myself that my job isn’t to convert the lost or change their views on things. It is my job to proclaim the truth of God’s word. He is the One that must show grace toward the lost, the blind and the spiritually dead. What we need is a miracle like the one that took place on the Day of Pentecost. We need a miracle in which God’s word goes forth and the Spirit uses that word to bring the dead back to life.
This is the hope for our country. New laws, restrictions, instructions, and taxes are not going to change what needs to be changed. All those things will do is enlarge government and give them more power, thereby reducing our freedoms. That is all that government can ever do. The government has no real power to bring about real change in the human heart.
The promise of real hope only comes in the gospel. Yes, so many do not have ears to hear. I believe that is evident given the way the country voted in November. The country likes the promise of more of what the government gives without the responsibility of actually working for those things. But with this comes a loss of freedom. We tend to think that with the additional blessings of what the government is promising us, then we will be happier. But those things only lead to more slavery, since the real problem of slavery comes through the bondage that these things have on our lives. No, real hope is found in the blessing of Christ and Him alone. Only in Him will freedom be found and maintained.
I believe that God is sovereign over all things, including our nation. Given this, I don’t believe is giving us over to blessings. The current president is the one that God placed in the White House for a reason. But I don’t like that reason. I don’t see rosie roads ahead. Not that I can see the future. However knowing the policies that the one in the White House has, this country will not be blessed.
This doesn’t mean that God is turning from those who are in HIM. We have hope because He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us. He has promised to bless us, and true blessings are knowing that we are in Him and have eternal live in Him. The blessings He gives us do not necessarily translate into material blessings. Sadly, this is what saddens me the most. This is what disappoints me the most and shows just how much my heart loves this world. My love, our love needs to be for Him and Him alone. I imagine by the time my LORD calls me home, I trust that He will have worked in my heart enough for me to come to a point of pure hatred for this world we live in. Not hatred for hatred sake, but hatred compared to the love we are to have for Him. He really is the only goodness in the world. I know this. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Perhaps another reason for the long haul of sanctification known in this life, while we wait for the life to come…
I never intended for this to be this long. But… I can’t seem to end it…
Another black preacher that gets the truth of the gospel. It’s not about voting for Obama because he is black. It’s about voting against Obama because he is opposed to the principles of Christianity. Bishop Harry Jackson points out four reasons he cannot vote for Obama.
Anti-Bullying is Really About Limiting Free Speech – Neil has an excellent piece on the anti-bullying movement, and how it is just another ploy for liberals to impose their warped view of control over free speech. Here is one of the key paragraphs:
In case there is anyone who still doesn’t grasp that antibullying is a euphemism for imposing liberal totalitarianism, Ontario’s Minister of Education Laurel Broten spells it out (please excuse the butchered English):
Texas A&M Aggies Move Up in the Polls — They may not last long in the polls, but right now the Texas Aggies are ranked at No. 18/20/20 in the BCS/AP/USA Polls. That truly is exciting, given it is their first year in the SEC. They were predicted to be doormats since they had a new coach, with a new offense and in a new conference. So far, they have managed to hold their own and are 5-1 in the season.
However, they are about to enter the really tough part of the season this coming Saturday when they face No. 6/6/6 LSU in College Station, TX. This will be their biggest test since opening the season against Florida.
After this Saturday, the Aggies go on the road to face Auburn, Mississippi State and then Alabama… all… on… the… road. Hopefully they can come out of that road trip with 2 wins.
Finally — I’m praying that Gov. Mitt Romney wins even bigger tonight in the debate than he did last time. I’m praying that the American people will have their eyes opened to the true Obama and that we will not be fooled again by the man who believes that America needs to be cut down to size.
I have to admire Jackie Hill and what she said to her brothers and sisters at this church. It was truly a message every congregation needs to hear. She was addressing blacks and the tendency of some preachers to think they have been preaching because they can sound good. But the same message applies to the white church as well. If what the pastor is saying doesn’t align with what scripture says, then he should not be listened to and should be booted from the pulpit. Jackie is saying that those blacks who continue to listen to such preachers are nothing more than JIG-A -BOOs, but the same message applies to all of us. We are nothing but fakes if we are not looking at what Scripture says, believing in Christ for salvation and tasting true freedom.
Listen to Jackie:
There seems to be a host of posts that have come across my line of vision in the last couple of days dealing with preaching and doctrine. I can honestly say that both topics are dear to my heart, that is sound preaching and excellent doctrine. I strive for both, so much so, that while discussing doctrine, I will often go to preaching. I humbly tell the listener when I do that this is an “occupational hazard.” The point is that as a pastor, and any elder for that matter, both sound doctrine and good preaching should always be our goals.
Don’t Settle for Mediocre Preaching — Paul Tripp counsels preachers that the real problem with preaching in America is… the preachers. Tripp writes:
Preaching is more than regurgitating your favorite exegetical commentary, recasting the sermons of your favorite preachers, or reshaping notes from one of your favorite seminary classes. It is bringing the transforming truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ from a passage that has been properly understood, cogently and practically applied, and delivered with the engaging tenderness and passion of a person who has been broken and restored by the very truths he now stands to communicate. You simply cannot do this without proper preparation, meditation, confession, and worship.
Amen and amen. If we haven’t lived the sermon, chances are, we probably won’t preach it very well. I’m not talking about personal testimonies every time we step into the pulpit. What I’m talking about is the fact that the Spirit has worked in our lives in the way that the text calls for. Pastors should expect the Spirit to work on us as we are preparing the sermon throughout the week. My wife can tell you plenty of stories about this as it has happened to me. I usually have to live the sermon before preaching it.
One more thought from Tripp’s piece:
There simply is no way that you can begin to think about a passage for the first time on Saturday afternoon or evening and give it the kind of attention that it needs. You will not be able to understand the passage, be personally affected, and be prepared to give it to others in a way that ontributes to their ongoing transformation. As pastors, we have to fight for the sanctity of preaching, or no one else will. We have to demand that our job descriptions allow for the time necessary to prepare well. We have to carve out time in our schedules to do whatever necessary for each of us, given our gifts and maturity, to be ready as spokesmen for our Savior King. We cannot become comfortable with patterns that denigrate preaching and degrade our ability to represent a glorious God of glorious grace. We cannot allow ourselves to be too busy and too distracted. We cannot set low standards for ourselves and those we serve. We cannot be self-excusing and self-accommodating. We cannot allow ourselves to try to squeeze a thousand dollars worth of preparation into dime moments. We must not lose sight of the excellent One and the excellent grace we have been called to represent. We cannot, because we are unprepared, let his splendor appear boring and his amazing grace appear ordinary.
Tender Mercies has an excellent post on Why Doctrine Matters, quoting from R. Scott Clark. I told him that I wished I had seen the post last week, since I was preaching upon Christ’s doctrine. I would have used the following quote from Mr. Clark dealing with the fact that doctrine is unavoidable. This is similar to what I tend to say about us being theologians. We are all theologians, the question is whether or not we are good, biblical theologians or idolatrous theologians. Here is Mr. Clark’s quote:
Non-doctrinal Christianity is impossible. The teaching of non-doctrinal Christianity is doctrine. It is bad doctrine, but it is doctrine nonetheless. Some argue that “doctrine divides,” and, therefore, that we should avoid it. True, doctrine sometimes divides, but that is what the Lord intended. In Luke 12:51–53, our Lord expressly taught that He came not to bring “peace on earth” but rather to bring “division,” even among family members. We cannot hereby justify schismatic behavior in the church, which Scripture condemns repeatedly, but we cannot accept the notion that division is inherently evil.
The real question is not whether Christians will have doctrine but which doctrine or whose doctrine? Our Lord and Savior Himself advocated a host of doctrines. The Gospels are replete with His doctrinal teaching. He taught about the nature of God (John 4:24), humanity (Matt. 10:28), creation (Mark 10:6), sin (John 8:34), redemption (John 3), the church (Matt. 16), and the end of all things (Matt. 24). He taught doctrines about the history of salvation and how it should be understood (Luke 24). Anyone who advocates non-doctrinal Christianity must do so without Jesus.
But obviously, the LORD didn’t want me using that quote in my sermon. However… it’s great for a blog post.
Heath posted on Why Pastor’s Need to be Readers and quoted from several different sources. This one from Spurgeon:
We will LOOK AT [the Apostle Paul's] BOOKS. We do not know what the books were about, and we can only form some guess as to what the parchments were. Paul had a few books which were left, perhaps wrapped up in the cloak, and Timothy was to be careful to bring them. Even an apostle must read…A man who comes up into the pulpit, professes to take his text on the spot, and talks any quantity of nonsense, is the idol of many. If he will speak without premeditation, or pretend to do so, and never produce what they call a dish of dead men’s brains—oh! that is the preacher. How rebuked are they by the apostle! He is inspired, and yet he wants books! He has been preaching at least for thirty years, and yet he wants books! He had seen the Lord, and yet he wants books! He had had a wider experience than most men, and yet he wants books! He had been caught up into the third heaven, and had heard things which it was unlawful for a men to utter, yet he wants books! He had written the major part of the New Testament, and yet he wants books! The apostle says to Timothy and so he says to every preacher, “Give thyself unto reading.” The man who never reads will never be read; he who never quotes will never be quoted. He who will not use the thoughts of other men’s brains, proves that he has no brains of his own. Brethren, what is true of ministers is true of all our people. You need to read. Renounce as much as you will all light literature, but study as much as possible sound theological works, especially the Puritanic writers, and expositions of the Bible. We are quite persuaded that the very best way for you to be spending your leisure, is to be either reading or praying…
What struck me is that this quote reminded me of Heath’s earlier post about a man who came back from the dead, saying that he could tell us what Jesus looked like and sounded like. Quite a stretch of a story, but it struck me from Spurgeon, that if the Apostle Paul wasn’t at liberty to speak about the third heaven in which he was privy to, why did the man who came back from the dead think he had the right to tell us what Jesus was like? Why does anyone listen to such claims when the Apostle Paul himself was forbidden from speaking such truths? Listen to Paul’s words: 1 Corinthians 12:3-4 3 And I know such a man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— 4 how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. Yet some bozo comes along who has had a vision thinks he is the one to share Jesus with the lost. Not the Jesus of the Bible, mind you. As Heath noted, the man wanted nothing to do with the Bible. He wanted to share the Jesus of his own personal vision. If the vision were true, it is still not lawful for him to share it.
Finally, Tim Bayly has an excellent piece called The Redemptive-Historical Preaching Fad… Redemptive-historical preaching is the model that turns every story in the Old Testament into the story of Christ. I think there is a bit of legitimacy with the model, but recognize what Bayly is attempting to get us to see. When we do this, we lose the heroes of the faith in our quickness to jump over their courage, faith and obedience in order to get to Christ Himself. Bayly writes:
The failure of men who take pride in being Christ and Gospel-centered isn’t that they’re wrong in affirming how types and examples point to Christ. Reading, teaching, and preaching Christ in all of Scripture is foundational. Obvious.
Their failure is that they deny the morals and virtues of the types and examples–the flesh and blood of history, if you will. It’s as if no one is capable of loving David as a man and desiring to be like him while also loving the God Who made him as he was and worked through him to accomplish his sovereign decrees, including the very public execution of blaspheming Goliath, the very public vindication of His Name resting on Israel, the eventual replacement of King Saul with this man whose Davidic Line would end with our Messiah, and so on.
To speak of courage and faith together does not tie even, or especially, very young boys’ brains in knots. They get it. God has made man capable of amazing intellectual feats and those feats are often seen at their most brilliant in little people who haven’t yet had blinkered professors tell them they can’t think that way. Those possessing wisdom rather than degrees are fully capable of thinking both ways at the same time, and for intellectuals to tell them that they must choose one way and delete the other from their mind, also deleting all those obvious paths criss-crossing between both ways, is for professors of hermeneutics and exegesis to chain Scripture to the same pulpits the Roman Catholics had chained it to back at the time of the Reformation.
Bayly then quotes Rob Rayburn:
[I]n my opinion, the men of this (redemptive-historical) school of thought and preaching in the 20th century have not been strong on practicalities of living the Christian life, such wisdom as the Puritans were master teachers of. The redemptive-historical men so fear moralism they seem afraid to draw out of the text the perfectly obvious lessons that may be found in it on obedience and disobedience, sin and temptation, faith and doubt, the life of prayer, and so on.
For, the fact is, the biblical history is a “thick” history. That is the term the literary scholars have invented and I like it. It has layers. It can say many things at the same time and teach many lessons. If the first lesson here is about Israel’s deliverance through a deliverer that God supplies her, the second lesson is surely that the way of that deliverance is the way of faith. David is an exemplar of the believing man just as he is the exemplar of Jesus Christ himself.
There is so much on that one post, that I may draw from it again, since it has given me a lot to think about concerning my approach to preaching. I do focus on our responsibility as believers, which I think is part of the problem of much of preaching. My point is that if we have been saved, and born again, to what end? To live as the rest of the world, tattoos and all? No, not at all. Christ redeemed us from that lifestyle and we are to live as He lives, with the reality of His Spirit dwelling in us, turning from sin, not embracing it as so many in our culture and the church tend to do. If the Bible declares something to be sinful, then we should turn away from that which is sinful and live as the holy people we are. Not so that we earn righteousness, but because we have been given righteousness. We need to live as those we are called to be, not as the world or what we were before the grace of salvation came to us.
I love this open letter to praise bands by James K.A. Smith (Hattip: Lance). He says what we all feel about the praise band in a way that truly resonates with those of us who are seeking to worship in spirit and truth. I know, the praise band leaders say they are seeking to worship Christ in spirit and truth too, but for some reason, their spirit and truth seems more focused on their emotional experience before a crowd, than actually humbly worshipping our Savior for who He is and what He has done.
Mr. Smith points out part of the problem is that we, the church, have encouraged the leaders of praise bands to bring their worship into the church itself. He writes:
I sometimes worry that we’ve unwittingly encouraged you to import certain forms of performance that are, in effect, “secular liturgies” and not just neutral “methods.” Without us realizing it, the dominant practices of performance train us to relate to music (and musicians) in a certain way: as something for our pleasure, as entertainment, as a largely passive experience. The function and goal of music in these “secular liturgies” is quite different from the function and goal of music in Christian worship.
In other words, we know you have talent, and want you to use that talent, but it’s not truly fitting for true worship of God’s people. He gives three reasons for this:
1. If we, the congregation, can’t hear ourselves, it’s not worship. Christian worship is not a concert. In a concert (a particular “form of performance”), we often expect to be overwhelmed by sound, particularly in certain styles of music. In a concert, we come to expect that weird sort of sensory deprivation that happens from sensory overload, when the pounding of the bass on our chest and the wash of music over the crowd leaves us with the rush of a certain aural vertigo. And there’s nothing wrong with concerts! It’s just that Christian worship is not a concert. Christian worship is a collective, communal, congregational practice–and the gathered sound and harmony of a congregation singing as one is integral to the practice of worship. It is a way of “performing” the reality that, in Christ, we are one body. But that requires that we actually be able to hear ourselves, and hear our sisters and brothers singing alongside us. When the amped sound of the praise band overwhelms congregational voices, we can’t hear ourselves sing–so we lose that communal aspect of the congregation and are encouraged to effectively become “private,” passive worshipers.2. If we, the congregation, can’t sing along, it’s not worship. In other forms of musical performance, musicians and bands will want to improvise and “be creative,” offering new renditions and exhibiting their virtuosity with all sorts of different trills and pauses and improvisations on the received tune. Again, that can be a delightful aspect of a concert, but in Christian worship it just means that we, the congregation, can’t sing along. And so your virtuosity gives rise to our passivity; your creativity simply encourages our silence. And while you may be worshiping with your creativity, the same creativity actually shuts down congregational song.3. If you, the praise band, are the center of attention, it’s not worship. I know it’s generally not your fault that we’ve put you at the front of the church. And I know you want to modelworship for us to imitate. But because we’ve encouraged you to basically import forms of performance from the concert venue into the sanctuary, we might not realize that we’ve also unwittingly encouraged a sense that you are the center of attention. And when your performance becomes a display of your virtuosity–even with the best of intentions–it’s difficult to counter the temptation to make the praise band the focus of our attention. When the praise band goes into long riffs that you might intend as “offerings to God,” we the congregation become utterly passive, and because we’ve adopted habits of relating to music from the Grammys and the concert venue, we unwittingly make you the center of attention. I wonder if there might be some intentional reflection on placement (to the side? leading from behind?) and performance that might help us counter these habits we bring with us to worship.
I really like reason number 3. He says what needs to be said. So many who lead praise teams seem to think that the worship is about them and their performance. I know that praise leaders will say that it isn’t. If that is the case, why not move the praise team to the back of the church where no one can see them? That is a quick way to determine just how important the praise team and song leaders think they are.
What I have found in most churches that have praise leaders/teams is that for them, worship is the music itself. It’s not what is prescribed in worship according to Scripture. The means of worship according to Scripture are… and get this, reading God’s word, the declaration of God’s word (known as preaching), prayer and the sacraments. No where are we given praise teams/leaders.
In fact, up until about 200 years ago, the use of instruments in worship was quite limited to those of the Lutheran and Catholic persuasions. Protestants didn’t use instruments for the most part and sang only from the psalter which is the actual worship book of the church, i.e., the Psalms. Now it is hard to even find anyone sing the psalms at all. There are hymns that reference the psalms, but that isn’t singing a psalm.
The other problem with praise-band churches is that they tend to punt the other elements of worship. For instance, preaching God’s word has fallen on hard times and has been substituted for mass-counseling sessions on everything to from better marriages, to better sex in marriage, to better dating before sex and marriages, etc. The messages are attempts to become more “relevant” to the needs of the congregation and shows the complete lack of faith those who preach such sermons have in God’s word.
Preaching God’s word faithfully means preaching the text of God’s word, saying what it says, not saying what it doesn’t say. It means declaring the truth of what God has said regardless of how uncomfortable or unwelcome it may be. Far too many preachers are too busy wanting to be liked, as opposed to doing what God has called them to do. See the Paul Washer video below.
The other element of worship that has fallen on hard times is true biblical prayer. We do get prayer in the praise-band churches, but it’s usually the praise-team leader emoting about “just” wanting to see Jesus and “just” wanting to be in His presence, and “just” wanting to praise Him, and just just just just just just many other things. And by golly, the praise-team leader was so emotional, that it must have been a good prayer. That’s not true prayer.
True prayer is speaking God’s truth back to Him and praising Him (real praise) for who He is. That requires that the one saying the prayer to the One receiving it must know some actual truth about the One being prayed too. In other word, if you are going to lead in prayer, you should probably have a deeper knowledge of who Christ, the Father and the Spirit are, than your typical eighth grader.
And then.. there are the sacraments. I was visiting a mega-church back in July that actually had it’s baptismal in the lobby of the church. They didn’t bother putting it in the sanctuary where they “worshipped,” even though baptism is a center-piece for worship. By baptizing our converts, we are worshipping in the truest sense.
Never mind communion. It’s pointless to even bring up that the early church had communion every Lord’s day. It was central to the worship service. Most mega-churches cannot conceive of the fact that the Lord’s supper is actually an element of the worship service given to us by our Lord. After all, there is no room in the “worship” service for communion. It takes too long and cuts into the “singing/emoting/concert” time.
And we wonder why the broader church is having trouble standing for righteousness’ sake.
Update: Found this parody via Daniel. It’ fits well with the theme of this post…
I saw this bilge on Facebook and made the simple point that the true church is not nature, a place or a building, but the people of God who are redeemed by Jesus Christ. OK, I wasn’t as clear in my responses to that photo on FB, after all, it was FB, the hallowed ground of random thoughts and random responses.
I get the idea of the shot. The one that posted it prefers to be outdoors, worshipping nature because nature is so beautiful. The problem with this is that is it nothing short of pure idolatry. The moment you worship nature, which is what the statement is indicating, is the moment you enter into breaking the First Commandment: “Thou shalt have no other gods besides Me (YHWH is speaking).” Worshipping God’s creation is breaking of that commandment for we are to worship the Creator only.
One of the respondents tried to make the claim that they felt “closer to God” while in such spots than anywhere else. This should send up red flags for every believer in Christ. The moment we start letting our feelings dictate our beliefs and actions is the moment we move from Sola Scriptura to Solo Scriptura… in other words, idolatry and heresy. Our faith is to be built upon God’s word, not our feelings.
I love spending time out in God’s creation as well. But never is that “my church,” or any church at all. God’s creation is God’s creation. We can applaud Him, as Psalm 19 says we should do, but never should we worship the beauty of God’s creation. That is idolatry.
The second problem with this statement, as if the first one wasn’t enough, is that it is based upon the idea that we can worship God apart from His word. True worship of the Triune God is always, and let me stress, alway based upon God’s word being proclaimed. It is not based upon our feelings, something we see, or something we think. It must always come in conjunction with God’s word, the declaration of truth, and our response to that Truth in our adoration of Jesus Christ and Him alone.
I know that many Christians will claim to worship God because of His creation. But again, true worship must always be with His word, not creation. The pastor doesn’t proclaim creation. He proclaims God’s truth. It is through God’s truth proclaimed that the sinner comes to know Christ and is saved by Him. It is through this proclamation that the believer is fed spiritually. It is through the word that we are rebuked, encouraged, and built up so that we may do the work of the ministry. It is only when the word has been proclaimed that true worship has occurred.
Creation, as awe inspiring as it may be, cannot bring this about. This happens only in the true church, where those who have been redeemed by Christ, gather to hear His word proclaimed. In fact, the only place true worship ever takes place is among the people of God, for only those redeemed by the blood of Christ, have any right to enter into the presence of God. All others, have His wrath resting on them and are not admitted into His presence because they enter through the broad road to destruction and apart from the only Mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ.
Yes, they may “feel” close to god in their own estimation. But they are far and distant from the living and true God of Creation. His children know better than to look to His creation and … worship. For we are to worship the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, not their creation.
“I Was Born in a Doomsday Cult” — Andie Redwine has written an excellent account of how she was raised in the Worldwide Church of God, which is a doomsday cult. She recounts of how she had to seek counseling in order to remove herself from the effects of spiritual abuse that came about from being in the cult. She has also help put together a movie called Paradise Recovered, which is about those who are in spiritual abuse. This movie has been very helpful to those who have seen it, since there seems to be so many who are in spiritual abuse by their church leaders. Here is a bit of what she wrote after her eyes were opened by the Spirit and she began reading the Bible:
I kept reading the Bible, but with different eyes and with a different voice in my head.I started really liking the stories that Jesus told. We didn’t spend so much time on these in the Worldwide Church of God. When I read them, Jesus emerged for me as a character with a quick wit, who was cunning but not deceitful, and who was overwhelmingly compassionate.In short, I found him miles more compelling that Herbert Armstrong.
Shai Linne Expository Preaching. “We need more expositors, not more comedians!” — I’m not much into rap, but this song is dead on for what the church needs today. It is about the need for more expository preachers, those who preach what the word of God says, not their opinions. You may not like rap, but please listen to the message. Make sure your church has a pastor that actually preaches the word of God, and not his own opinions.
What the World Truly Needs — From the department of the obvious, comes the following which I was unable to post this past Sunday:
In view of that, you can go here to listen to Sunday’s sermon, which I preached here at Redeemer Christian Fellowship of Roswell, NM. This was the first Sunday that we moved back into the sanctuary since my arrival. It was a truly wonderful service.
I was listening to a sermon by Voddie Baucham of Grace Family Church down in Houston and he pointed out four areas that people make when it comes to the gospel. They were so good I had to incorporate them into my sermon this past Sunday. Here they are:
- People think the gospel is the plan of salvation – People think the gospel is a plan or steps we take to become saved, such as the four-spiritual laws. But that is not the gospel and by saying that it is it leads to two errors. The first is that it truncates the gospel leading to the belief that the gospel gets us saved… and then we need to do the rest. No, the gospel saves us, sanctifies us and glorifies us. The second error is that it leads to the belief that the gospel is something that we do. The gospel isn’t something we do, it is what Jesus has done.
- Secondly, people think the gospel is the Greatest Commandment – these people boil the gospel down to love God/ love people. On the surface, this sounds great but what they fail to realize is that the Greatest Commandment is an an encapsulation of the Law. In Matthew 22:34-39, Jesus is saying that the first commandment is a summary of commands 1-4, and the second commandment is a summary of commands 5-10. The Law does not lead to salvation, faith in Christ does. By saying the gospel is the Law, we are binding people’s consciences to do what they are incapable of doing. This is why knowing the Gospel of Christ is so important. It’s not more Law, it grace. Romans 3:28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. The gospel empowers us to do these things, but we are not saved by doing them: Romans 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight.
- People think the gospel is the Great Commission – This groups believes the gospel is actually doing the Great Commission and teaching people to do whatsoever I’ve commanded you. Again, sounds good, but this is just another form of the Law. The gospel is not teaching people to do everything that Jesus told us to do. The gospel is not moral teachings or proclamations, but the proclamation of the good news that He was the One who did do these things.
- People think the gospel is our personal testimony — Just look at how many evangelism programs teach people to share their testimonies. What they fail to realize is that we are no in the process of becoming the gospel ourselves. In other words, we are replacing His story, with our story. We are not the gospel, Jesus is. This is just a variation of St. Francis of Assisi’s statement: “Preach the gospel at all times, use words when necessary.” It sounds good, but again, we are not the gospel, Jesus is. Read my post on St. Francis state here.
What is the gospel?
The gospel is an announcement of the person and work of Jesus Christ. It is the fact that He died on the cross and was raised again on the third day. It is that He was sinless and took on our sin and satisfied the wrath of God on our behalf. The gospel is not the Law, but the fact that Jesus satisfied the Law, earning righteousness in a way that we cannot earn righteousness. When we believe in Jesus for our salvation, all the benefits of His ministry are given to us. We no longer rest in our failed works of the Law, but rest in His perfect satisfaction of the LAW. God no longer looks at us as sees us as children of wrath, but He sees the righteousness of His Son, and sees us as His children. This is the gospel.
You can hear the full sermon that contained this intro here.