Why Akathleptos?

Why Akathleptos? Because it means Uncontainable. God is infinite. Hence, the whole universe cannot contain Him. The term also refers to the incomprehensibility of God. No man can know everything about God. We can know Him personally but not exhaustively, not even in Heaven.

Why Patmos? Because the church is increasingly marginalized and exiled from the culture.

Why Pen-Names? So the focus is on the words and not who wrote them. We prefer to let what we say stand on its own merit. There is precedent in church history for this - i.e., the elusive identity of Ambrosiaster who wrote in the 4th century A.D.

“Truth is so obscured nowadays, and lies so well established, that unless we love the truth we shall never recognize it." Blaise Pascal



Sunday, May 31, 2015

"This case before this Court is this nation’s tower of Babel"



(Keep in mind this is written by a lawyer - not some extremist, rabid, anti-gay Christian.)

A legal team that has defended biblical marriage in cases dating back to the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas case in which the Supreme Court ruled homosexual sodomy is constitutionally protected says the impact of the coming decision on same-sex “marriage” could be of titanic proportions. Virtually every family law in the nation, including those regarding inheritance, support, custody, adoption, divorce, testimonial privileges, interests in land and conveyance would have to be changed, and that’s just the start. The warning comes from William J. Olson, who served in various offices during the Reagan administration, and Herbert W. Titus, who taught constitutional law for 26 years and is the founding dean of Regent Law School.

"12 Reasons homosexual marriage will wreck the nation"

1. Wholesale Revision of Every State’s Family Law, and Related Matters.
2. Closure of Christian and Other Religious Adoption Agencies.
3. Preaching Against Homosexuality and Counseling of Homosexuals Likely Would Be Prohibited.
4. Churches and Others Would Lose Exemption from Federal Income Tax.
5. Legalization of Multiple-Partner and Incestuous Marriages.
6. People of Biblical Faith Would be Driven from Public Office.
7. A Coarsening of Civil Society.
8. Mandates on Businesses to Cater to Homosexual Couples.
9. Professional Licensing Requirements to Serve Homosexual Couples.
10. Undermining the Created Male-Female Order.
11. Loss of Liberty.
12. God’s Judgment on the Nation.

 The article is here.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Combat Heresy on the Essentials

Combat Heresy on the Essentials (2 Pet 2:1)

1 Tim 4:1 warns us that a day is coming (and is apparently now already here) when many will abandon the faith. Afraid of becoming divisive, many Christians are reluctant to combat blatant heresy on the essentials of the faith. But listen to an extra-biblical account about the apostle John in later life (the apostle of love) as Asbury Theological Seminary President Timothy C. Tennent brilliantly instructs us:

There is a much beloved story (passed down from Polycarp to Irenaeus to us) about St. John the Apostle. According to the story, John, the Apostle of love, was inside a Roman bath house getting cleansed, as was the custom of his day. However, through the hot steam he suddenly realized that the heretic Cerinthus was sitting just across the room. John immediately jumped up and fled the bathhouse, explaining that Cerinthus was inside and he didn’t want to be killed when the building collapsed under the righteous judgment of God! Why such a strong reaction? Cerinthus was one of the gospel’s chief opponents. He was like a first century version of Bart Ehrman… wildly popular, followed by many, but in a few decades will be virtually forgotten. In contrast, St. John is still with us, still faithfully contending for the gospel. In fact, many scholars believe that several of John’s epistles were written in direct response to the teaching of the Gnostic Cerinthus. Cerinthus couldn’t accept the deity of Jesus Christ or the Resurrection. John was a man transformed by Easter. Jesus Christ is Risen! That was the faith of John. That was the faith of the Apostles. That was the faith of the early church. That is the faith of all Christians everywhere.

Why did John flee the bathhouse? He fled because Cerinthus had parted from what, even in John’s day, was already the great received tradition of the gospel. In other words, the gospel is not merely a matter of personal interpretation so that one person’s view is just as valid as the next person’s view. This is why Paul admonishes the Galatian Christians so strongly, saying: “If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed” (Gal 1:10). This is why Paul tells Timothy, “What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful ones who will be able to teach others also (2 Tim. 2:2).” This is why Jude admonishes us to “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3).

When pastors or other church leaders deny core doctrines of the Christian faith, it is not merely some personal affront. My personal views on such matters are, quite frankly, irrelevant, but we should all take very seriously any attack on the received tradition of the church. There are, of course, dozens of things we disagree about as the church, but amazingly, we don’t disagree about Christianity per se. We have innumerable “in house” debates about the proper mode of baptism or whether or not Spirit-filled Christians should speak in tongues. We disagree about pre-destination and the precise way in which the Lord is present at the Eucharist, but none of these matters are central matters of faith. None of the disagreements appear in the Apostles’ or Nicene Creed. Someone pointing out that Christians disagree about things is a very different thing than saying that Christians cannot come to a solid agreement about what Christianity is. Precisely the opposite is true. Despite the amazing diversity of languages and cultures the church shares a common confession about Jesus Christ and the gospel. We are receivers of a tradition, not the inventors of it. There will be no end to the steady march of Cerinthus’ who rise up in each generation, but never forget, if we hold fast to the gospel we can be confident we will be vindicated.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

No Big Surprise - Joel Osteen Approves of Homosexuality



It didn't take a Prophet to see this coming.

Joel Osteen, the senior pastor of the gargantuan Lakewood Church in Houston (the largest Protestant church in the U.S.) has finally publicly come out with his approval of homosexuality. Osteen, the visible face of Lakewood Church in Houston since 1999,  talked to the Huffington Post about his thoughts on prayer, the pope and the homosexual lifestyle. HuffPo Live host Josh Zepps quoted from Osteen’s new book: “It doesn’t matter who likes you or who doesn’t like you, all that matters is God likes you. He accepts you, he approves of you.”

Zepps followed up by asking if that included homosexuals. “Absolutely,” Osteen insisted, “I believe that God has breathed his life into every single person. We’re all on a journey. Nobody’s perfect.”

Read about it and watch it here.

(Expect a torrent of other pastors to follow suit with him into apostasy if the U.S. Supreme Court mandates gay marriage a constitutional right this summer.)

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

It Really Is About Affirming And Embracing - Not Just Accepting - Gay Marriage



Rob Dreher shares an enlightening story here.

A Canadian Christian jeweler custom-made a pair of engagement rings for a lesbian couple, Nicole White and Pam Renouf, at their request. Later, when they found out that the jeweler personally opposes same-sex marriage, they went to pieces and demanded their money back. From the CBC’s report:

“They were great to work with. They seemed to have no issues. They knew the two of us were a same-sex couple,” White said.

“I referred some of my friends to them, just because I did get some good customer service and they had good prices.”

That was before one friend went in to purchase a ring for his girlfriend — and instead found a distressing sign.

It reads: “The sanctity of marriage is under attack. Let’s keep marriage between a man and a woman.”

The couple now believes the rings they ordered will have been tainted by having been fashioned by jeweler Esau Jardon’s hands, given what impure thoughts he holds in his mind. 

after dealing with online bullying and threats, Jardon decided this week to refund the deposit to the couple:

“One of the reasons my family chose to move to Canada was the rights that it offered, the freedom of religion and freedom of speech, both of which at the time seemed to be very limited in Mexico,” he said.

“However, due to posting our religious beliefs, many people in Newfoundland want us to shut down business — that’s what they’ve been telling us.”

He said some threats came with names and others were anonymous.

“One of them states that ‘you better give them the money back or you will be very, very sorry,’” he said.

Let’s understand what happened here. This Christian jeweler agreed to custom-make engagement rings for a lesbian couple, knowing that they were a couple, and treated them politely. But when they found out what he really believed about same-sex marriage, even though the man gave them polite service, and agreed to sell them what they asked for, the lesbian couple balked, and demanded their money back — and the mob threatened the business if they didn’t yield. Which, of course, he did.


You understand, of course, that this is not about getting equal treatment. The lesbian couple received that. This is about demonizing a point of view, and driving those who hold it out of the public square. Just so we’re clear about that.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Victims of Marriage Culture Breakdown are Poor Children

Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University, speaking on Oct. 16, 2014 forcefully and brilliantly argues that fighting for marriage is an anti-poverty fight. The fight for marriage is also the fight against poverty.
We’re not fighting for some abstract moral thing. We’re fighting for the well-being of concrete flesh-and-blood human beings – little tiny ones who are in the end, the victims of a culture that throws marriage under the bus.

(Note: Professor George drafted the Manhattan Declaration, the manifesto signed by Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelical leaders that "promised resistance to the point of civil disobedience against any legislation that might implicate their churches or charities in abortion, embryo-destructive research or same-sex marriage.)

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Illusion of Time: Past, Present and Future Exist Together?

For those who can't wrap their head around the theological truth that God exists outside time (i.e.,  the marking of time is irrelevant to God because He transcends it) it is mind-blowing to grasp that God sees all of eternity’s past, the present, and eternity’s future simultaneously. While we cannot comprehend how that is possible (because we experience time as sequential events), our current understanding of physics incredibly indicates the past, present and future all exist together simultaneously. If true, then the distinction (from our perspective) of past, present and future .... is an illusion.


Friday, May 22, 2015

Humility & Meekness is not Weakness



Humility & Meekness is not Weakness

Some Christians confuse humility and meekness with weakness. Don't confuse the admirable traits of humility and meekness with weakness. Paul makes a powerful defense before Herod Agrippa in Acts 26:1-29. Note also the words of 2 Tim 1:7 - For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. (ESV)

Meekness is a fruit of the Spirit (contrast Gal 5:23 with KJV and ESV). In the Hebrew and Greek languages, it denotes having a mild temperament. Someone who is meek is not quick to become angry, irritated, or impatient. Meekness also involves humility. Humility embraces all God has revealed in His word and bows before the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Rick Warren has good insight on this subject,

... meekness is not weakness. There's a big difference. Meekness means "strength under control." Picture a wild stallion that has been broken and is now tamed. That stallion still has as much power as when he was wild, but now that power is bottled up for the master's use. Only two people in the Bible were called meek: Jesus and Moses. Neither of them were weaklings or wimps. They were strong men of conviction

Justin Martyr (who died for his faith in the 2nd century and from whom the word "martyr" is derived) wrote to the Roman emperor, Antonius Pius, around AD 150 to defend the Christians. Note the boldness with which he addresses the emperor:.

Since you are called pious and philosophers, guardians of justice and lovers of learning, pay attention and listen to my address. If you are indeed followers of learning, it will be clear. We have not come to flatter you by this writing nor please you by our address, but to beg that you pass judgment after an accurate and searching investigation. . . . As for us, no evil can be done to us unless we are convicted as evildoers or proved to be wicked men. You can kill us. But you cannot hurt us.

To avoid anyone thinking that this is an unreasonable and reckless declaration, we demand that the charges against the Christians be investigated. If these are substantiated, we should be justly punished. But if no one can convict us of anything, true reason forbids you to wrong blameless men because of evil rumors. If you did so, you would be harming yourselves in governing affairs by emotions rather than by intelligence. . . . It is our task, therefore, to provide to all an opportunity of inspecting our life and teachings. . . . It is your business, when you hear us, to be good judges, as reason demands. If, when you have learned the truth, you do not do what is just, you will be without excuse before God.

As our culture disintegrates, it becomes more and more crucial for Christians to act not only with self-control but also with strength as a representative of the light of Christ, standing for righteous conviction, exposing the works of darkness for what they really are, and defending the defenseless.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

We Are Past The Event Horizon



A Black Hole is a region of space having a gravitational field so powerful that no matter or radiation (i.e., light) can escape. Physicists define the "Event Horizon" for a Black Hole as the point at which the gravitational pull becomes so strong as to make escape impossible. In layman's terms, it is defined as "the point of no return".

We find examples of nations passing the point of no return in the Old Testament with respect to the judgement of God:
  • Nineveh's repentance in Jonah's day merely delayed the inevitable. It was finally destroyed under the judgement of God 70 years later.
  • Manasseh was the worst king over Judah in the Old Testament with his reign constituting the point-of-no-return for which God promised judgment upon Judah and Jerusalem. (He rebuilt pagan altars, reintroduced Baal worship, practiced ritual magic and witchcraft, consulted the demonic, baptized his son in the fires of Tophet and set up an idol in the Temple.  In addition he “shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another,” blood that God would not pardon (2 Kings 21:16; 24:4). Scripture affirms his sin was “above all that the Amorites did” (v. 21). In other words, he surpassed the original inhabitants of the land in idolatry and wickedness.) Neither Manasseh’s subsequent repentance nor all of Josiah’s subsequent reforms could save Judah from the fierce wrath of God. In 2 Chronicles 34:24-28, God promises Josiah the godly king of Judah that judgement is surely coming because of the nation's rebellion, but because of Josiah's right heart and reforms, Josiah will be buried in peace before judgement falls. Josiah’s reformation only bought Judah a temporary respite from inevitable judgement (22:20).  Once he died, Judah’s rapid downward spiral into destruction began,
Adrian Rogers served three terms as president of the Southern Baptist Convention. He offers this sobering observation on contemporary American culture:

Many can remember a time in America when pregnancy outside marriage was a scandal, homosexuality a sin, pornography a moral sickness, child abuse was rare, marriage was sacred, and “living together” was shameful. In public schools our students were allowed to pray and the Ten Commandments were posted on the walls. But a proud nation, wallowing in materialism, rotting in sin, searching for what we call pleasure and freedom, has insulted the Almighty. Those who preach the Word of God are shunned and laughed at today. If a reporter were to read this, he would call it “extreme right-wing rhetoric.” The matter is not right or left; the matter is right or wrong. And God’s Word is right. Are we really going to sing “God Bless America” while we’re killing little babies, sodomy struts down main streets with pride, and God is cursed, maligned, and cannot be mentioned in our public concourse?

From all quarters in the Body of Christ, we increasingly hear voices warning that America has passed the point of no return - i.e.,
  • Jonathan Cahn here
  • Billy Graham's Daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, here
  • David Wilkerson, prior to his death in 2011, repeatedly warned America had passed the point of no return and that terrible judgement is now inevitable.
  • etc.
I add my voice to theirs - I believe America is past the event horizon.

New Film Coming In Jan 2016 About The Resurrection - "RISEN"

Steven Mirkovich, best known for his editing work on 2004's award-winning "Passion of the Christ," is at the helm once more for the new biblically-inspired film, "RISEN." It picks up where that film dropped off in the biblical story of Jesus' death, resurrection and ascension."

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

It Really Is "Us Against Them"


America is embroiled in far, far more than a mere culture war; it’s a war of cosmic proportion with eternal consequences.

That’s one of the main obstacles for many Christians today – they shortsightedly view what’s happening as a simple physical culture war. But Scripture is quite clear that our battle is not ultimately with flesh and blood, but against powerful supernatural evil. While of course we can do some things within the culture to stem the rising tide of evil (i.e., voting, serving in public office, volunteering, etc.), that is not where our most powerful weapons are available and where the battle will finally be won. It’s akin to putting a band-aid on melanoma and taking Tylenol. We may win a skirmish or two, but will lose the war in our local area of responsibility if we fail to recognize where the real battle is and who the real foe is.

Of course LGBTs are the mission field (I have several homosexual friends I share the love of Christ with.) But the spiritual forces behind ...
  • the incredibly fast acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle, both within and outside the church (not a single country in the entire world accepted gay marriage prior to 2001)
  • the rabid animosity towards those that stand for traditional marriage
  • the exploding proliferation of the gay lifestyle in entertainment and media
  • the dizzying about-face by so many in government on the issue
  • the propagation (almost at light-speed) promoting LGBT in public education at all levels
  • the ballooning capitulation in all quarters of the Body of Christ (i.e., Wheaton College, one of the best known evangelical colleges in the U.S., recently decided to permit the formation of a homosexual student group on campus. The group “OneWheaton” encourages students with same-sex attractions to emerge “from the closet” and embrace their homosexuality.)
  • etc.
….. are the real enemy.

There is no rational explanation for how all this happened so fast - almost overnight and with seemingly unstoppable force - other than powerful spiritual forces are at work. That’s where the real battle must be fought for any hope of victory (Eph 6:12). That kind of battle cannot be won in the voting booth, the picket lines or the halls of congress. It can only be won in protracted prayer and fasting. The most powerful weapons in the Christian’s arsenal are prayer, repentance, praise & worship, thanksgiving, forgiveness, etc. That is what has always turned back the onslaught of evil.

Dr. Nelson Price puts it eloquently,

"For a number of years we lived on the West Bank in New Orleans. Near our home was a massive earthen rampart. It was part of the defense line in the battle of New Orleans. Here the ragtag army of pirates and pioneers under the command of Andrew Jackson met the formidable British forces that had defeated Napoleon at Waterloo. A horrendous battle followed with Jackson’s forces victorious.

What wasn’t known in New Orleans that day was the war was over — the British had already surrendered. Communication in that day was so limited the word had not arrived in the Crescent City and the battle was enjoined.

Spiritually we find ourselves in that same posture today. Christ has won the spiritual war. We, however, remain to engage in the mopping-up action. As the forces of Jackson fought like the outcome of the war depended on them, so we must “fight the good fight.”

Every believer is perpetually engaged in spiritual warfare.

As in time of war there are war zones and contested zones where the battle isn’t raging at the moment. I saw a graphic example of this in Lebanon where a bloody civil war raged for years. On our landing approach to the Beirut airport our flight pattern took us in over downtown Beirut where buildings could be seen smoldering and vehicles bombed out and burning in the streets. Our flight pattern continued over other sections of the city, one of which was a golf course on which persons were playing. The two areas were close enough so that when we landed we could see the golf course and hear the guns downtown.

Some were literally struggling for their lives at that moment being in the war zone while others seemed uninvolved. Even those that appeared detached would find the time they would be involved in the heat of battle.

That depicts the Christian experience."

*******

(In Dec 2013, I wrote the following on my blog here that I think is pertinent to the discussion.)

This raises an interesting theological question with respect to the durability of the church. Jesus was adamant that the powers of darkness would not prevail against His Church (i.e., Matt 16:17-19) which some have erroneously interpreted as referring to the Church – whether local, regional,or global – that it will always prevail and triumph. But history clearly shows otherwise. Earlier, I recorded my observation several years ago in Turkey which was the center of power for the global church in the late 1st century church A.D. (Asia Minor) … that the church there had all but disappeared. Several other instances can easily be cited from global history of a local regional church, once powerfully witnessing to the truth of the gospel, suffering decline and even disappearing altogether.

Does this mean Jesus was wrong? Of course not.

In context, it’s clear that Jesus was referring to the universal church, not a local or regional expression of it. A good analogy is an under-inflated balloon. If you squeeze one part of the balloon, it always expands elsewhere. This is true of the universal church. As the enemy attacks and (sometimes successfully) manages to squelch the church’s witness on one part of the globe, the result is the rapid expansion and influence of the church elsewhere on the planet at the same time. As the church waned in Asia Minor, it breathed new life into Europe. As it waxed in Europe, it flashed to life in North America. As it declines in North America, it bursts forth in South America, China and the Orient. Globally, the church is unquenchable.

*******

The church in America has been blessed to be relatively free of intense spiritual conflict in contrast to other regions in the world. That is about to dramatically and quickly change.

It really is “us against them”.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Just how hostile is Islam to Christianity?



Wondering how hostile Islam really is to Christianity? Think the warnings from some quarters of the church are overblown, the-sky-is-falling exaggeration? Then take a look at the latest Watch List published by Open Doors used to monitor persecution of Christians worldwide since the 1970s. [How accurate is their list? It is audited by the only institution with academics dedicated to studying the religious liberty of Christians – the International Institute of Religious Freedom (IIRF)]

21 of the top 25 countries most hostile to Christianity are Islamic - 84%

Last year saw the highest level of persecution of Christians the world has seen since the fall of the Soviet Union, according to a report by Open Doors with ISIS and Islamic extremism mostly to blame.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

How Do We Maintain Balance When Engaging The Culture?


It’s rarely easy to engage the culture with an effective Christian witness. It’s challenging to maintain the appropriate tension between two possible extremes, neither of which is good. At one extreme, the Christian does little if anything to engage the culture. At the other extreme, the Christian futilely tries to mandate God’s kingdom on earth.

Lot in the OT city of Sodom might be an example of the first extreme. He may have been disturbed by the city’s depraved culture (2 Pet 2:7), but the lack of any apparent impact on his part resulted not only in the complete destruction of the city, but also in the loss of nearly everything dear to him including his wife. While Lot may have been righteous enough in his own personal life, his witness was so weak that it had no apparent appreciable effect on Sodom.

An example of the second extreme would be John Calvin’s failed experiment to mandate the kingdom of God in Geneva. While I admire Calvin’s theology, his rule in Geneva was a terrible failure. By the end of his career he achieved complete dominance of Geneva to the extent that:
  • All inhabitants had to renounce Roman Catholicism on penalty of expulsion from the city.
  • Nobody could possess images, crucifixes or other articles associated with Roman Catholicism.
  • Fasting was prohibited, together with vows, pilgrimages, prayers for the dead, and prayers in Latin.
  • Nobody could say anything good about the pope.
  • It was forbidden to give non-Biblical names to children.
  • In 1555, a man who had been found lighting a candle before the body of his dead child was called before the Consistory.
  • Attendance at sermons was compulsory. In addition, one had to arrive on time, remain, and pay attention.
  • In 1547, a man who left during the sermon and made too much noise about it was imprisoned.
  • From 1545, there were domiciliary visits, which were put on a regular semiannual basis in 1550. The homes of the citizens were visited in order to ascertain the state of the family’s morals.
  • A great many spies were maintained, to report on matters of conduct and behavior.
  • Dramatic performances were suppressed, except for plays given by schoolboys.
  • One of the offenses considered particularly serious was criticism of the ministers and especially Calvin.
  • And yet, sexual immorality was frequently practiced (and frequently chastised.)
Obviously, neither extreme is good or effective.

An effective Christian witness that engages the culture has to be between these two extremes, manifesting above all else the truth of the gospel in their personal life and witness. There are good reasons why God doesn’t give us a once-for-all blueprint with explicit, delineated steps on how to engage the culture – i.e., each culture is unique and God wants us to be dependent upon prayer and His indwelling Holy Spirit. If the culture discerns no appreciable impact of the gospel in our personal life, we fundamentally have no credibility. By our love we are known as disciples of Christ (John 13:35).

Most important – ultimately, our battle is not with flesh and blood (Eph 6:12) and the weapons we use cannot be the weapons of the world to be effective (2 Cor 10:4).

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Under no circumstances will I render to Caesar what is God's



The Manhattan Declaration is an affirmation of faith and warning to the U.S. Federal government regarding any attempt to suppress religious faith. It is a manifesto issued by Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical Christian leaders affirming support of the sanctity of life, traditional marriage, and religious freedom. The declaration vows civil disobedience if Christians feel their rights to civil liberties of free exercise of religion and freedom of speech are violated.

It includes the following statements:

"We are Christians who have joined together across historic lines of ecclesial differences to affirm our right—and, more importantly, to embrace our obligation—to speak and act in defense of these truths. We pledge to each other, and to our fellow believers, that no power on earth, be it cultural or political, will intimidate us into silence or acquiescence.

Through the centuries, Christianity has taught that civil disobedience is not only permitted, but sometimes required. There is no more eloquent defense of the rights and duties of religious conscience than the one offered by Martin Luther King, Jr., in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail. Writing from an explicitly Christian perspective, and citing Christian writers such as Augustine and Aquinas, King taught that just laws elevate and ennoble human beings because they are rooted in the moral law whose ultimate source is God Himself."

It is important that individual Christians clearly grasp what "belongs to Caesar" and what "belongs to God." While Scripture plainly enjoins obedience to the civil government (Rom 13:1-7; 1 Pet 2:13-17, etc.), it also affirms that when conflict occurs between civil government and God, ultimate allegiance is always to God (Ex 1:17; Acts 5:29; Rev 13:15, etc.) In America we have generally had the luxury of not having to worry about a conflict of allegiance, unlike many Christians in the world who face that conflict virtually every day (i.e., China, the Middle East, Southwest Asia, India, Indonesia, etc.)

However, change now appears imminent for American Christians barring intervention by God. Now is the time to clarify in your faith what belongs to God alone and think through potential conflicts in your life. The time to build a tornado shelter is when the weather is calm ....... not when an F5 tornado is on the horizon.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Focus On Theology Of An Issue, Not The Politics



The church frequently makes a strategic mistake when it focuses the politics of an issue instead of the theology of it. Two examples of contemporary issues where the church often makes this mistake are abortion and gay-marriage ... both current, controversial, hot-button topics. Both are ultimately theological issues, not political. By putting the spotlight on the politics, the church inevitably puts itself on the world's playing field and ends up playing by their rules which almost always is detrimental to any arguments the church may present. It also becomes an exercise in frustration as the winds of politics frequently change according to the whims and dictates of a culture. (Note for example the astonishing rapidity in the change of our culture's perspective on gay marriage.)

On the other hand, when the church addresses the theology of an issue instead of its' politics, everything changes. The church now has the supreme advantage in every way possible: absolute, unchanging and transcendent truth with the moral high-ground.

I suspect the reason the church often capitulates and resorts to the politics of an issue, is the tragic loss of deep theological understanding in many churches. Satisfied with a superficial grasp of elementary truths, many churches focus more on the social aspects of fellowship rather than seeking to deepen the theological understanding of the congregants. The most important requirements for elders are often strong management and financial skills rather than a solid grasp of the faith and more importantly - the ability to teach (1 Tim 3:3; Tit 1:9). The elder board more closely resembles a Fortune 500 board rather than mature men of the faith with a deep and solid grasp of theology. The exhortation of Heb 6:1 is appropriate.

Monday, May 11, 2015

The church’s primary function is to bear witness to the truth – not to win popularity contests



It’s critical to remember the church’s primary function is to bear witness to the truth – not to win popularity contests. Jesus warned the church not to be surprised when the world hates us (John 15:18). He continues in 15:19 that when we become “like the world”, then the world will love us.
When the church fails to bear witness to Biblical truth, it inevitably will succumb to the false “truth” of the world. I would argue that it is because the U.S. church (as a whole) has consistently failed to stand for truth, that it is now reaping what it sowed. Never before in church history has the church affirmed the homosexual lifestyle. Yet, that is precisely what is happening today – i.e., a large evangelical mega-church in Nashville recently embraced gay-marriage, welcoming them even into leadership within the church. Such churches are not merely welcoming homosexuals as sinners into the fold; rather they are affirming their lifestyle as morally equivalent to traditional marriage.
If one theoretically argues the church should welcome practicing, unrepentant homosexuals into the membership then I must ask ….
  • If I suddenly abandon my wife and show up the next Sunday with my new girlfriend, am I welcome as a practicing adulterer? Can I partake communion with you if I refuse to repent?
  • If so, how about if I strike up a sexual relationship with my stepmother? Am I still welcome as a member? Can I still partake of communion? If so, what do you do with 1 Cor 5 where Paul is aghast with the Corinthian church that tolerated that exact situation – and he forcefully orders them to expel the man from their midst until he repents?
  • Does any practicing willful sexual sin disqualify me from church membership as long as I refuse to repent? Rape? Bestiality? Pedophilia? If so, why is homosexuality different?
Of course, a homosexual can be a Christian as Ravi Zacharias skillfully articulates here. But he also correctly points out a code of conduct is not only appropriate, but necessary for the church. He also accurately affirms that temptation is NOT a sin (Jesus was tempted.) Evidence that one is truly a Christian, empowered and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, is a changed life increasingly free of sin (1 Cor 6:9-11). It is not a life in bondage to sin to the extent that it is no longer even acknowledged as sin – but instead sadly celebrated. In my experience, I am always convicted of my personal sin when confronted with the liberating truth of the gospel – never made to feel comfortable and at home with it. The true gospel – by definition – liberates me from sin; it does not comfortably cement me in sin. If the gospel I’m presenting does not convict but instead permits the recipient to remain comfortable in their sin, it is not the true gospel.
When the church affirms gay marriage and welcomes practicing, unrepentant homosexuals into membership, it abrogates its’ God-given responsibility and ultimately denies them the glorious freedom that Christ alone offers (John 8:31-34.)
In 2010, the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George warned what the complete secularization of our culture could bring. He said the following:
  • I expect to die in bed.
  • My successor will die in prison.
  • His successor will die a martyr in the public square.
  • His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.
I suspect the interim 5 years have surprised even him with the rapidity with which our culture is disintegrating.
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(Lest anyone accuse me of being homophobic, I must ask how many homosexual friends the accuser has? For I have several homosexual friends that I seek to love with the love of Christ through our friendship [to the extent that I am genuinely comfortable hugging them when greeting them], but I never condone their lifestyle.)