Millennials, You Don’t Get to Determine What God’s Church Looks Like

NOTE: The following doesn’t apply to home-schooled Millennials, some private-schooled Millennials, and Millennials who had parents with the wherewithal to teach their children that life isn’t all about them.

I’ve read the article 10 Things You Won’t Find in a Church That Attracts Millennials several times now and find it wanting in any real substance. Yes, it has a few good points, like the need for older men to mentor younger men. But this isn’t a problem that is exclusive to millennials. This boomer had a real hard time finding a mentor when I first came to Christ, yet that didn’t turn me off of the church.

I think the article’s biggest problem is the underlying premise that if the church doesn’t change to fit the “exclusive needs (wants)” of Millennials then the church is going to dry up and blow away. And it won’t be the Millennials fault. After all, through this article, and others, they make their demands clear as that stamp their feet and remain cocooned in their safe spaces. However, what they think they need is the last thing they need. Millennials don’t need a church that understands their perceived specific and unique needs. They need a church that addresses their real and eternal needs. They need a church that will clearly declare to them that their greatest need is for a Savior to deal with all their “special” and “unique” sins. Changing how things are done, or the environment of the church will not bring that about. Only the declaration of the gospel will bring that about.

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The ESV Disappoints On An Important Verse

My wife and I finally decided to purchase the English Standard Version Bible several months ago, and for the most part, we have thoroughly enjoyed the translation. We made the jump for two reasons: the ESV is easier for me to read aloud because it is a bit smoother than the New King James Version. This is important given that my calling requires me to read the Scriptures aloud to the congregation during worship. We also made the change because we know that most churches are moving in the direction of putting ESVs in their pews. When I preach and teach, I want my version to be the same as the congregation I’m preaching and teaching to for clarity sake.

However, we recently came across a translation of a verse that bothered me. We have been studying the issue of keeping the LORD’s day and one of the strongest verses showing that we are to shift from the seventh to the first day comes in Hebrews 4. There, the author of Hebrews is laboring to show that the believer has entered his rest from sin, once belief is real. For we who have believed enter that rest as he has said, “As I swore in my wrath, they shall not enter my rest.” This was due to the Israelites unbelief. The point the writer is making is that we enter into a rest from our sin. We are not at our eternal rest, and there is yet a day appointed for us to worship Him. That would be the first day of the week.

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Clark Rebukes Shepherd’s Federal Vision

I truly appreciate the work that R. Scott Clark does on the Heidleblog. In a recent article entitle Forty Three Years of Federal Vision Theology, he shows that in all the major reformed confessions, there is a unity in the view that we are justified by faith alone, in Christ alone.

Whatever formal diversity existed within the most significant Reformed voices, during the classical period of Reformed theology, we may be sure of the substantial agreement among the Reformed churches since all the Reformed confessions confess the very same doctrine of justification, i.e., the free declaration by God that sinners are regarded as righteous only for the sake of Christ’s righteousness, his condign merits imputed to believers received only through faith, trusting, resting, and receiving in Christ and in his finished work. This is the doctrine of the Reformed confessions, e.g., the Genevan Confession (1536), the Belgic Confession (1560), the Scots Confession (1560), the Heidelberg Catechism (1563), Second Helvetic Confession (1566), the Canons of Dort (1619), and the Westminster Standards (1648). (Emphasis added)

Notice the very words in the definition of justification: “free declaration.” This precludes any works that we may do, which is what some of those who hold to Federal Vision are saying, at least those FVers who are following Norman Shepherd. They claim that is it not only faith that saves us, but our works as well. Shepherd, when confronted by this reality, tried to back down by saying that it is “faithfulness” or “covenant faithfulness” but that is the same thing.

Shepherd’s Federal Vision stands against all the confessions noted above, and we should stand against it as well. It’s nothing more than “covenantal Arminianism.” In other words, for us to make sure that we are truly of the elect, we must add to the works of Christ, both individually and covenantally. This makes our election, justification, etc., based upon us. If that is so, then no one saved.

The key to justification is always based upon “receiving Christ and in his finished work.” It is not something we add to, or can improve upon, since His sacrifice was perfect for our salvation. To try and change this, makes Christ nothing more than a moral example, according to Mr. Clark. I agree.

Shepherd’s Federal Vision, according to Clark, fails to be confessional in that it denies the reality that we are saved in His “finished work.” If we are having to add to our justification, then what did Christ actually finish?

I realize that this is just a glimpse into the Federal Vision controversy. I’ve followed it for years and noted just how convoluted it has become. At times, confessionalist and FVers have talked past one another. However, if and when we try to add our works to our justification via covenantal faithfulness, or any other lofty goal, we truncate the gospel and end up with works-base salvation. Doing this should be completely rejected.

A Glimpse At How The Trendy Church is Failing in its Calling

From Why The Church Doesn’t Need More Coffee Bars at the Pulpit and The Pen.

The following is written by Gideon Knox, who lost her husband to cancer and her response to the trend that churches seem to be more interested in coffee bars, trendy pastors and lighting than the widow and fatherless children. Read the entire article here.

 

When church leaders sit around and discuss how they can reach people, I don’t think they have the widow in mind. I don’t think they have the cancer patient in mind. I don’t think they have the children who are growing up without a parent in mind. I am not paying attention to the church décor when I walk through the doors. I don’t want to smell fresh brewed coffee in the lobby. I don’t want to see a trendy pastor on the platform. I don’t care about the graphics or the props on the platform. I am hurting in a way that is almost indescribable. My days  are spent working full time. My nights are spent homeschooling and taking care of two young children. I don’t have shared duties with a spouse anymore everything is on my plate. And when I go to church I desperately want to hear the Word of God.
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Because there are days I am running on empty and a coffee bar in the lobby isn’t filling me up. There are days when the pain is so brutal and a concert like setting is not providing healing. There are days when the tears won’t stop and a trendsetting church is not what I need. I need Jesus. There are days I wonder if the pain is ever going to end and a couch on the platform is not providing answers.

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 The lighting, coffee bars, relevant messages, graphics and other things are secondary and serve no assistance to me during the darkest hour of my life. This is in no way a criticism of churches that have coffee bars, nice lighting and catchy sermon titles. However, in everything that is done, we need to make sure that Jesus is at the center. It is a also a reminder that there are hurting people sitting in your congregation. There are people whose marriages are crumbling, people whose finances are deteriorating, people whose children are rebelling and people like me, whose husband has passed away after a brutal fight with cancer. And these people are not impressed with the stage lighting. They could care less about the coffee flavor. They don’t need to be pumped or hyped. They need and are desperate for Jesus. And they may actually be turned off by all that they consider gimmicks to get people to go to church.

The Responsibility for False Teachers Falls on the Congregation

wolf_eyes

For years I  have felt that it was part of my ministry to warn the people of God, mainly those who were directly under my care as a shepherd, about the dangers of false teachers. Not everyone wants to hear it. After all, many believers look at the happy smile of Joel Osteen and his success and wrongfully conclude that all his wealth and fame must mean he is on the narrow path that leads to salvation.

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The Blessed Woes of Christ

Sherewood Shores

“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

“Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.

“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.

I hope that when you hear the words of our LORD, you are as comforted by them as I have been over the past several weeks. We often think of these words as being quite profound, given that they are so at odds with the world’s understanding of things. They are not rooted in the worldly system of the Great Harlot. They are words rooted in Christ’s holiness, the Father’s love, and the Spirit’s comforting power.

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“The daughters of rulers must die.”

Harsh words from someone like J.C. Ryle. But in context, he is reminding us that even though rulers live luxurious lives, their daughters, sons, wives, and even themselves, must die. We all must die. Our social standing will not be able to prevent death from coming to all of us. Ryle writes:

“It is good for us all to remember this. We are too apt to forget it. We often think and talk as if the possession of riches was the great antidote to sorrow, and as if money could secure us against sickness and death. But it is the very extreme of blindness to think so. We have only to look around us and see a hundred proofs to the contrary. Death comes to halls and palaces, as well as to cottages–to landlords as well as to tenants–to rich as well as to poor. It stands on no ceremony. It tarries no man’s leisure or convenience. It will not be kept out by locks and bars. “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27). All are going to one place, the grave.”

We know this to be true. Over the last 2 years, we have been shocked and surprised at some of the people who have died. For me, Glenn Fry of the Eagles caught me off guard. In some weird way, he was a stalwart of our culture, whether for good or ill, that I thought would always be there. But alas, death took him, along with a number of rockers that would shake our belief that fortune and fame would protect them. I know, such silliness to ever think that. It’s a problem we all have.

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Abortion is Murder, It Is That Simple

Given the March for Life in D.C. over the past week, the subject of abortion has taken center stage on Facebook, and we are witnessing some truly clear arguments against the wicked practice, as well as some typical muddled thought. I usually stay out of the fray because my friends and family do such a wonderful job in destroying the pro-murder’s arguments for the grizzly practice. But this week, I felt there needed to be some clarity. First, my friend’s post was sharing something from Matt Walsh on the March for Life, to which, she added:

I’d be there today if I could.
“Yes, every child should be given a chance to live. Yes, we affirm the sanctity of life at every stage. Yes, a child is entitled to live the life God gave him. Yes, he is, according to our country’s own founding documents, endowed by God with an inherent dignity that no one on Earth — not even his own parents — can deny him.”

One of her respondents wrote:

Without judgement of what is important to others, please. This issue is multifaceted and so personal that we cannot claim to individually understand or have a more just cause than another. Godspeed!

Do you see the problem with this argument? This woman is a basically white-washing the murder of the unborn by throwing out how “multifaceted and so personal that we cannot claim to individually understand…” She is trying to water down the issue by telling us it is too complicated for comment or cause.

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Is Betsy DeVos Bringing Back Prayer in Schools?

The headline, and subsequent story on The Truth Division’s website, seems to indicate that this is what the new education secretary, Betsy DeVos, intends to do once she is confirmed to the position. But when you dig deeper, you find much of what is being written about Betsy DeVos is based upon an interview she and her husband, Dick, gave back in 2001. For the mathematically challenged, that is about 16 years ago.

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