Friday, April 20, 2018

Please don't say "broken" when we mean sin

Are we broken?

According to the dictionary definition of broken, are we "fractured or damaged"? As humans, do we need fixing?

Christians know that there is something wrong with the world, indeed. Even unsaved people mutter and wonder what in the world is going on. Why is the world like this? they ask. Why has it always been like this? they wonder.

I hear and read the word 'broken' a lot now in reference to this issue. The word has come into popular Christian use. Here are just a few  recent published essay titles-
  • The Meaning of Brokenness: Being Broken in the Sight of God
  • How to Find Beauty in Brokenness
  • Brokenness is Seeing My Sin BIG
Is it acceptable to use the word broken when referencing already-saved Christians? Or even non-saved people?

It's my stance that it is not. As was stated so well here,
For Christians, it is vital that we be open-eyed and discerning about the destructive ways that language is being manipulated. We need to recover the biblical view of words ...
We well know that language gives words meaning, but that meaning can be fluid. For example, the American definition of marriage, of a legal union between one man and one women, had been stable for centuries. The over the last few decades, marriage has come to mean any civil union between any number of people of any (or no) gender or sexual orientation.

Or this from the website Darrow Miller and Friends
In the old dictionary, justice was defined as equal treatment regardless of race, sex or religion. In the new dictionary, justice is equal outcome, regardless of personal action or behavior.
In this example, Tolerance in the old definition meant "ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with." Nowadays the word tolerance has come to mean rejecting all moral absolutes, including biblical absolutes.

When we use important Christian words, we need to say what they mean, too. Just because we say the word sin, doesn't mean who you are speaking to will have the same understanding of what sin is that you do. It seems basic, but that's where we are now.

Manipulation of words to change perceptiopn or to catalyze movements is an entire academic field of study. It's called Linguistic Anthropology. Satan changes word meanings in order to confuse both believers and non-believers, and to push forward his agenda.
I argued that a new religion has taken root in the West, and it advances by redefining words — vacating them of their true meaning, and hijacking them to serve new purposes. (Source)
For example,
 ... As John Stonestreet reminds us, "there’s a long history detailing the manipulation of language for the purpose of social control". George Orwell described the process well in his book 1984. The language was forever being altered, "to make all other modes of thought impossible. … This was done partly by the invention of new words, but chiefly by eliminating undesirable words and stripping such words as remained of unorthodox meanings…." Source

The word broken is one of those words that is being used to change perceptions, in this case, to redefine sin. Broken can indicate anything that is massively fractured, down to only a little dented. Being only broken can mean-

My car is broken, it needs a new transmission.
My car is broken, the tail light is out.

The truth is, we are not broken. We are sinners WITHOUT righteousness. We are totally corrupt. We need HIS external righteousness. We are not just broken, but beyond repair. We're dead! That's why the Bible says when we're saved, we are a new person, from a new birth, regenerated, born again, given a new heart. And so on.

We are not entities that need a patch or a fix or a tweak. Using broken instead of sinner allows wiggle room for seeing my sin as small. One might start our magnanimously seeing one's sin as big, as the essay headline above, but if you see yourself only as broken, inevitably you'll reduce your sin to only a minor indiscretion.

Secondly, we are not broken (in need of a fix). We must be remade completely! This is because we are thoroughly corrupt. Sin pervades us, our entire nature is one of sin. There is no corner of light in us, it is all darkness and evil. (Genesis 6:5).

Can a leopard change its spots? Can an Ethiopian change his skin? (Jeremiah 13:23). Can a lion become a vegetarian? No. Our essential nature is one of unholy acts in sin and evil intentions,a ll the time. We can adopt an external moralism but none of our actions will be pleasing to a holy God. (Romans 7:18,24; Ephesians 2:1,2). We must be made new. (John 3:7).

You were taught to put off your former way of life, your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23to be renewed in the spirit of your minds; 24and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 22-24)

and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. (Colossians 3:10).

Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘Youd must be born again.’ (John 3:7).

Now this might not seem like such a huge deal. Big woop, some words are being redefined. But you see, the latest hot evangelism training trend is to use this concept of brokenness as the basis for needing Jesus. It's not true as the caption on the video below claims, that this world is characterized by brokenness.

The world is cursed, and the curse is because of sin. (Genesis 3:17, Romans 8:20-21).

that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. (Romans 8:21)

The only thing we, the animals, and the creation itself can do is decay, because we are corrupt and enslaved to sin. That sounds more than 'broken' to me. Our very nature prevents us from righteousness. No fixing will do.

Be careful of the words you use. Know the important words of our faith, use them, and explain them. Be precise.

Easton's Bible Dictionary

Baker's Bible Dictionary

Emerging Church Glossary (satire)

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Lift high the cross

Part of this essay appeared on The End Time in 2010.

The Wayside Cross is a huge tradition in Canada and Europe, where it has abounded for over a thousand years. "In Quebec, and Europe, a wayside cross marks a place where the members of a community gather to meet and pray, and often commemorates an important moment in their communal history." Charles Bourget reports that there are 3000 wayside shrines dotting the countryside in Quebec, however, many of them are falling into disrepair because the tradition is waning. I wrote at one time about the fate of one American Wayside Cross in East Greenwich RI.

Below, a wayside crucifix in Europe
In America, the tradition never really caught on. If one does stumble upon a wayside cross, they are usually a cricifix- which represents an entirely different religion. They are seen occasionally, especially in central rural Wisconsin. Wayside crosses dot the landscape there. In Bedford NY, one was erected in 1936 and it was hoped that the sight of it would invite the prayers of the passersby. In 1922 East Greenwich, it was hoped by "those who placed this beautiful memorial to an exemplary life feel that it will indeed be a light by the way and a guide post to Heaven." By and large wayside crosses are not seen much and those that do exist are under increasing challenge.

The point of the cross in public life is that it would point the way to Jesus. That upon seeing it, thoughts of Him and the Good News would ruminate in the mind, and through the strength of the Holy Spirit, those thoughts would germinate. For people seeing such displays, who have already heard the Good News, perhaps its sight would loosen the bonds around the heartstrings and their conviction would grow, as in the allegorical depiction of Christian at the Wayside Cross.

A wayside cross was a pivotal point in the very famous book Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan, published in 1678 and has remained on the 'bestseller list' ever since, never having been out of print. The passage is below:
"He ran thus till he came at a place somewhat ascending, and upon that place stood a cross, and a little below, in the bottom, a sepulchre. So I saw in my dream, that just as Christian came up with the cross, his burden loosed from off his shoulders, and fell from off his back, and began to tumble, and so continued to do, till it came to the mouth of the sepulchre, where it fell in, and I saw it no more. Then was Christian glad and lightsome, and said, with a merry heart, 'He hath given me rest by his sorrow, and life by his death.' Then he stood still awhile to look and wonder; for it was very surprising to him, that the sight of the cross should thus ease him of his burden. He looked therefore, and looked again, even till the springs that were in his head sent the waters down his cheeks. Now, as he stood looking and weeping, behold three Shining Ones came to him and saluted him with Peace be unto thee. So the first said to him, Thy sins be forgiven thee;"
It is amazing that the sight of the cross should ease a person's burdens, but it does, for the person who is ready to receive grace. For every individual on the planet, there comes that critical moment, upon which the eye falls to the cross and a decision is made either aye or nay. The cross to the unsaved does make one's soul burn, satan would have it so. But in the process of that the soul-singe the cross is emblazoned on the mind and heart and soul, thereafter to linger as a brand. It stays there, to rankle. Opponents of Christ do not want that rankle, and therefore strive to remove the cross from all areas of life except homes and churches.

This article from 2011 by John Witte Jr., Director of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga., is interesting: Lift High the Cross? Religion In Public Spaces

It made 6 points about court challenges to religious symbols in public spaces:
While not entirely convergent in their religious symbolism cases, the American and European high courts now hold six teachings in common.

  • First, tradition counts in these cases
  • Second, religious symbols often have redeeming cultural value
  • Third, local values deserve some deference.
  • Fourth, religious freedom does not require the secularization of society.
  • Fifth, religious freedom does not give a minority a heckler’s veto over majoritarian policies
  • Finally, religious symbolism cases are serious business. 

Lift high the cross. Value it, present it, wear it, but above all, cherish it and obey it. We can and should beautify the Gospel that the cross stands for by our obedient and gentle adornment of obedient behavior because of it.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Elyse Fitzpatrick and more on romancing Jesus

Jesus knew what she was doing and he welcomed it.
The above is from Elyse Fitzpatrick and I'll get to the problem in her essay further down. But first, context.

Nine years ago, Keith Burton wrote an article in Spectrum Magazine called Jesus Is Not My Boyfriend. Why?
It appears as if some talented writers of contemporary Christian songs need a little help from theologians and etymologists when penning odes of love to Divinity. This is especially true for the influential Praise and Worship movement ... My problem comes with the confusing lyrics that transform Jesus from a Brother into a boyfriend, a Lord into a lover or a Savior into a spouse.
Because unaddressed sin only ever gets worse, not only songs, but essays, blogs, and books have turned Jesus into a boyfriend, lover, or spouse. This is wrong.
(I love, I love, I love, I love the way You hold me)
(I love, I love, I love, I love the way You hold me)
(I love, I love, I love, I love the way You hold me)
(I love, I love, I love, I love the way You, the way Ya, the way Ya)
I've had a long day I just wanna relax
Don't have time for my friends, no time to chit-chat
Problems at my job, wonderin' what to do
I know I should be working, but I'm thinking of You and
Just when I feel this crazy world is gonna bring me down
That's when Your smile comes around
Hold Me song by Jamie Grace featuring tobyMac
The lyrics like Hold Me above are not infrequent. Books like Ann Voskamp's or Beth Moore's that contain sensual language to describe the Savior are also rampant. And there are countless blogs doing the same- turning divine knowledge of the revealed One True God into a prom date complete with giggles and what happens at the After-Prom. Most of these are written by women.
I fly to Paris and discover how to make love to God. ...God makes love with grace upon grace, every moment a making of His love for us. [C]ouldn’t I make love to God, making every moment love for Him? To know Him the way Adam knew Eve. Spirit skin to spirit skin? Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts
I also love how I could tell by the sweet tone of His silent voice whispering to my spirit that He was smiling.... I laughed with God. He laughed with me.... I am so in love with Him. I am so in love with Him. Beth Moore- When Godly People do Ungodly Things
One night I found myself leaving the warmth of our cozy chalet to walk alone in the snowy mountains. I went into a deeply wooded area, feeling vulnerable and awed by cold, moonlit beauty. The air was crisp and dry, piercing to inhale. Suddenly I felt as if a warm mist enveloped me. I became aware of a lovely Presence, and my involuntary response was to whisper, ‘Sweet Jesus.’ This utterance was totally uncharacteristic of me, and I was shocked to hear myself speaking so tenderly to Jesus. As I pondered this brief communication, I realized it was the response of a converted heart; at that moment I knew I belonged to Him. This was far more than the intellectual answers for which I’d been searching. This was a relationship with the Creator of the universe. Sarah Young, Jesus Calling

Some book titles on Amazon along these lines are: (HT Sharon Lareau)

The Wild Romancer: Uncovering the Romance Jesus Longs to Lavish on You by Brenda Cobb Murphy 2008

Falling In Love With Jesus: Abandoning Yourself To The Greatest Romance Of Your Life by Dee Brestin and Kathy Troccoli 2002

What is a person to make of a trend where perfect agape love of our HOLY GOD has been switched for eros with our prom date Jesus? Keith Burton from Spectrum Magazine explains why it is wrong-
While it is true that the Bible utilizes images of marriage to parallel Christ’s relationship to the church, two things must be taken into account. 
Firstly, Christ relates to the church as a collective unit. He is married to the community as a whole and not to billions of individuals who claim to serve him–he is not a polygamist. 
Secondly, the love Christ shares with his church is not defined by the Greek term "eros" from which the English word "erotic" is derived, but is expressed with the noun "agape" (pronounced ah-gah-pay) which denotes love demonstrated in deeds. Those who view themselves as children of God are not called to exercise eros but agape; they are not invited to brief episodes of self gratifying sexual intimacy but to a lifetime of social and spiritual interaction. (Jesus is Not My Boyfriend, Spectrum Magazine)
Now to the quote I opened with by Elyse Fitzpatrick. She holds a certificate in biblical counseling from CCEF (San Diego) and an M.A. in Biblical Counseling from Trinity Theological Seminary. She has authored 23 books on daily living and the Christian life. She also has a website where she blogs and is a conference speaker.

Fitzpatrick wrote a blog essay the other week titled Mary's Wedding Vows where a biblical scene of humbly offering an anointing to the Sovereign God preceding His death, is twisted to an impetuous moment of a love-struck girl hurling herself with abandon at her lover. In order to make the verses she quoted fit her unbiblical scene, Fitzpatrick had to twist the scripture. (2 Peter 3:16). It was a theological train wreck full of doctrinal error and crass sensuality.

Sadly, a few years ago Fitzpatrick became involved in the hypergrace movement. Her 2012 book Give Them Grace seemed to reveal more antinomian stances. She was spoken of negatively in this 2015 article at Grace to You and this one in 2015. Her theological trajectory has been noted and warned against.

The invasion of such sensual imagery by these influential writers is a sad event. One would hope and pray that Christian women would have more sense and more spiritual maturity and discernment than to chase after things that are not much different than Tantric Buddhism. Anything that connects the divine through the body should be a no-go zone. The faith comes by hearing, not by sensuous feeling. It is an intellectual faith that comes in through the mind. What we know is most important.

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary explains the word know
Know, Knowledge
The Old Testament. The Hebrew root yada [[;d"y],translated "know"/"knowledge, " appears almost 950 times in the HebrewBible. It has a wider sweep than our English word "know, " including perceiving, learning, understanding, willing, performing, and experiencing. To know is not to be intellectually informed about some abstract principle, but to apprehend and experience reality. Knowledge is not the possession of information, but rather its exercise or actualization. 
Thus, biblically to know God is not to know about him in an abstract and impersonal manner, but rather to enter into his saving actions (Micah 6:5). To know God is not to struggle philosophically with his eternal essence, but rather to recognize and accept his claims. It is not some mystical contemplation, but dutiful obedience.
I sadly cannot recommend Elyse Fitzpatrick to you and must sadly issue a warning against using her materials. This is doubly sad because of her long experience with Biblical Counseling. But anyone who sees Jesus in such a light is seeing a Jesus that does not exist, except perhaps in her own mind.

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. (Colossians 2:8)

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on the sons of disobedience. (Ephesians 5:6).

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Buck the current

For a while in my free-wheeling days, I lived on a sailboat with my husband. We sailed from Maine down to Florida, over to the Bahamas down as far as the Tropic of Cancer. Then we turned around and sailed back. We made this mini-circumnavigation twice, putting about 12,000 nautical miles under our keel. Our yacht was a 37' Tayana with a full keel and 12 feet of beam. She was a study boat, and a pretty one, with a wooden mast and lapstrake style fiberglass and a wooden bowsprit.

Needless to say, we encountered all types of weather and all kinds of marine conditions. Storms, believe it or not, are not as hard to deal with as one might think. Boats are made to bob and yaw and pitch and really are in their element when it's storming and you are underway.

The one that gets hard to deal with is current. But more on that in a moment.

One of our elders who delivered the confession time devotional in the worship service on Sunday mentioned his above ground pool. He said it is a small pool, and that you must circulate the water because it's better for the water and better for the pool. What he does to circulate it, he said, is walk rapidly around the perimeter of the pool while in it. That gets the water going. Around and around he goes, the water as a force swirling. If you turn around, he said, you suddenly feel the force of the water against you. When you're going with the current you don't feel it, but turning around suddenly this wall of water pushes against you.

This got me thinking about ocean and river currents.

When I lived on the sailboat, we traveled down some of America's mighty rivers, like the East River, Potomac, the Cape Fear River, or the Savannah River. The currents on these rivers are very strong. When traveling against the current, the current wants to push you off course, and can do so very easily unless you maintain constant extreme vigilance. The engine works hard, you have to hang onto the steering wheel pretty tightly to maintain course. If you lose the engine, you end up on the rocks. You anxiously keep looking at the time, waiting for the tide to turn so the current will ease up.

It's so much easier sailing with the current. You cruise along, carried by the current in its course, enjoying the lack of turbulence.

The two years of sailing as a live-aboard cruiser are still reaping benefits in spiritual insights and life metaphors. I'd often wondered why the Lord would send me on such an amazing journey (now that I know the Lord). His providence is amazing. Because He ordains everything in a person's life down to the last dust mote, there had to have been a reason He sent me down America's coast in a boat. I didn't know Him then, but I do now. And I know there is a reason. There may be many more I'm too dense to comprehend, but the spiritual lessons keep coming.

I'm not an agricultural person, so the sheep and the wheat and chaff and such don't resonate with me. But the marine symbols do.

When the writer of Hebrews says cling to your salvation lest you drift away, I know.
When Jude says there are hidden reefs at your love feasts, I know.
When Paul says do not make a shipwreck of your faith, I know.

I hope you caught the life-lesson I'm about to reveal. The current is the world, it sweeps you along and you do not notice any turbulence...until you turn 180 degrees. When you turn (repent), suddenly the force of the current is quite noticeable. It pushes against you. The world wants to direct your course, and if you don't have an engine, you're headed for the rocks. The engine is the Spirit. You have to grip the wheel tightly so as to stay on course. The wheel is the Bible. You have to maintain constant vigilance or you will be pushed to where you don't want to go.

Here's the difference. As opposed to a mariner's life, in Christian life- the tide never turns.

There is never, every a season of ease. There is never a time when you can safely coast along. There's never a time when you don't need to constantly be vigilant and check your course. As long as we're in this body, we have to remain at the binnacle steering this ship of faith against the current of the world that always pushes against us.

When the time comes in each of our lives to let go and swim the River Jordan, we will emerge on the other side climbing up the bank victorious. Of course, it is not our victory. Jesus swam against the current of the world all His life and was never shunted off course, never drifted an iota into dark waters, not even when He was tempted by the devil. He kept His eye firmly on the lighthouse and the glory of God. He gained the victory because of His righteousness, and imputed it to us.

Buck the current. Stay vigilant. Have a firm grip (hold fast) to the steering wheel. We will eventually make it to safe shores and we will never have to slog through an angry tide again. All will be peace, calm waters and safe harbor.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Matt Chandler as a Charismatic prophet

What offering strange fire leads to

In October 2013, as part of the Truth Matters series, John MacArthur and a host of men such as Steve Lawson, Tom Pennington, RC Sproul, Justin Peters, and others participated in the Strange Fire conference. It was named Strange Fire from the verse in Leviticus 10:1.
The first tabernacle had been erected, and Aaron was doing a lot of sacrificing per God’s instructions (Leviticus 8—9). One day, two of Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, came along and offered incense with 'strange fire'. The Hebrew word translated "strange" means "unauthorized, foreign, or profane." God not only rejected their sacrifice; He found it so offensive that He consumed the two men with fire. (Source)
It's obvious from the verse that God abhors unauthorized worship. The issue in 2013 was that the Pentecostal and Charismatic tendency in worship of the Triune God included some aberrant behaviors. So, the Strange Fire conference was announced with a goal of evaluating the doctrines, claims, and practices of the modern charismatic movement, and affirming the true Person and ministry of the Holy Spirit. Some of the sessions and sermons included topics such as-

A Word from the Lord? Evaluating the Modern Gift of Prophecy

Charismatic Counterfeits: Do the Modern Gifts Meet the Biblical Standard?

A Case for Cessationism

What are the Spiritual Gifts? What are the Sign Gifts?

Matt Chandler, Photo from
The Village Church
The Holy Spirit gives gifts to the people in the Body of Christ. Some of these gifts are known as sign gifts. These gifts are tongues, interpretation of tongues, miracles and prophecy. Sign gifts were given by the spirit for a sign to authenticate the Apostles' message as truly from Jesus. Also, the gift of tongues was intended as a message to Israelites that because of their unbelief and that they had come under judgment. Its purpose at Pentecost and shortly beyond was a fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy of God's judgment to unbelieving Jews. (1 Corinthians 14:21, Isaiah 28:11-12).

The sign gifts of tongues, interpretation of tongues, miracles and prophecy have ceased. They are no longer needed for a sign. No new prophecies are needed because the canon is concluded and closed. The remaining gifts are still and always in force. Folks who take this stance are known as cessationists (I am cessationist).

The problem was and is that the Charismatic movement with its insistence on the continuation of these gifts had widened to include not just Pentecostals and Charismatics, but encroached into the more conservative segments of the faith such as Reformed churches. The movement had also become extreme with behaviors not only not from the Spirit but were outright demonic, such as holy barking, holy laughter, and false signs and wonders. It was Charismatic Chaos.

Reformed and Charismatic?

Several self-identified Reformed pastors declared themselves continuationists. Reformed believing men such as John Piper, Tim Keller, David Platt, and Matt Chandler stand on the side of the sign gifts' continuation, leaving that door open instead of firmly shut as it should be. Their stance led and still lends credibility to the errant continuationist position.

The other men such as Keller and Platt (see left or click) and Piper (see this or this or this)
also state they believe the sign gifts continue, however carefully they say so and cautiously and primly.

Many continuationists such as the below statement from The Village Church teach that cessationism means that ALL gifts have ceased. This is not the view of cessationists. Only the sign gifts as listed above have ceased, because their purpose for existing has ceased.

Matt Chandler's Village Church believes that cessationism is non-biblical. They state that to believe the sign gifts have caused a restriction of the gifts. He, and his church, teach that,
"The position that best avoids these dangers is continuationism as it teaches that the gifts continue. This is the view held by The Village Church."
Chandler had preached in 2017 that he identifies as both Reformed AND Charismatic. The Reformers' Westminster Confession of Faith holds that the sign gifts have ceased. So, to be Reformed and contuationist would seem to me to be a denial of one or the other.

Uh-oh, a new prophecy

Matt Chandler said he is a Charismatic, and in true Charismatic form, he prophesied Friday night. I saw his statement come up on Twitter:

There were no other tweets that day, this tweet was not part of a longer thread explaining anything or offering any other context or scripture or even joyful examples. It stood alone. It was a pronouncement of what the Spirit is doing, based on some vague observations, and an exhortation to not just his own flock but to the global body, based on his personal experience.

It's sad to see the amount of likes and replies. Out of 70 comments, only 4 were negative and 65 were positive, most searching scripture for "sails" and "wind" verses to match Chandler's pronouncement and eisegete back into his prophecy. Here are several of the sadly few naysaying response tweets.

This was my reply-

So...Chandler prophesied, no doubt about it, and it's a modern one, too, with none of the specificity. It follows the Charismatic template exactly: be convinced and convincing, offer no detail, no scripture, and be as vague as possible so that it can't be confirmed or it can easily be confirmed.

But was it really a prophecy?

"But, but, but," you say, "Chandler was just making a personal observation! It's just saying what he noticed!" No. It's a prophecy that points to himself and not to Christ, because it's all about what Chandler saw and what Chandler noticed and what Chandler pronounced from his own observation (and not the word of God). Here is what a statement like that should say if it was an observation:

"I've been traveling for two weeks teaching, and in Such and Such church I saw many people convicted over sin. In another church I saw many people come to Christ in repentance."

"In another location I saw acts of charity and kindness done in Jesus' name such as... I praise the Lord for these works as the Bible says here and here".

How would you test prophecy such as Mr Chandler issued, that 'the Spirit is stirring something significant?' (1 John 4:1). And as the tweeter replied and as I did also, the Spirit in only now doing something significant, but not before?

What can one see that would convince one the Holy Spirit had been there? A revival like after Jonathan Edwards' sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God? Even then, Edwards was suspicious of false repentance based on a heightened emotionalism.

Would an observation of something false like fake raising from the dead or glitter gold dust falling or holy laughter? That would be a problem. But Chandler never says what. Only the vague, "The Holy Spirit is doing something significant and he is stirring, be ready..." No, most of the work the Spirit does is internal and not immediately observable.

Continuationism v. Cessationism isn't that important, is it? It's not like it's a primary doctrine...

Does being a continuationist or a cessationist matter? Yes. In 2013 a month after Strange Fire concluded, Lyndon Unger at The Cripplegate added up the number of followers of these mainline or famous 'theologically cautious' continuationists, several of them who identified as Reformed, with a hefty social media following. The sum total of followers of these people, who in Unger's list included Piper, Chandler, Platt, and also Beth Moore and Prisiclla Shirer among others, is -
So, if we total all the "theologically cautious" charismatics with 100k+ followers we get 5.438 million followers.
For the record, that number is 2.092 million followers when it’s composed of only the people I’ve ever heard to be cited as charismatic defenders (John Piper, Mark Driscoll, Beth Moore, Matt Chandler, David Platt, Desiring God, Priscilla Shirer.)
And that was five years ago. So yes, it matters. Error propagates, grows, and infects.

It is very sad to watch. But my hope and glory is in Jesus, who always does right and who always does good. He is building His church and the good that I can't see when people stray from edifying doctrine doesn't mean it won't be there eventually in His plan. Please be "cautious" about following people who are continuationists. I'm sorry, I have not seen that believing that the sign gifts continue leads to anything good.

Further Reading

John MacArthur 4-min video defending cessationism 

Why I Left the Village Church

Do You Recommend these Teachers? (Lauren Chandler not recommended)

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Sunday Encouragement: The Celestial City!

In reading the Tenth Stage or the closing chapter and words of John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress, it comforted me so greatly. Its descriptions and promises, encouragement and beauty is perfect for a Sunday Lord's Day. I pray you find it encouraging as well. This is what awaits us! Some day, some happy day, we will never more be afflicted with sorrow and grief and sin. We will shout the praises and thanksgivings to Jesus and speak with Him daily. Oh what a day that will be!
The talk that they had with the shining ones was about the glory of the place; who told them that the beauty and glory of it was inexpressible. There, said they, is “Mount Sion, the heavenly Jerusalem, the innumerable company of angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect.” Heb. 12:22-24. You are going now, said they, to the paradise of God, wherein you shall see the tree of life, and eat of the never-fading fruits thereof: and when you come there you shall have white robes given you, and your walk and talk shall be every day with the King, even all the days of eternity. Rev. 2:7; 3:4,5; 22:5.
There you shall not see again such things as you saw when you were in the lower region upon earth; to wit, sorrow, sickness, affliction, and death; “For the former things are passed away.” Rev. 21:4. You are going now to Abraham, to Isaac, and Jacob, and to the prophets, men that God hath taken away from the evil to come, and that are now “resting upon their beds, each one walking in his righteousness.” The men then asked, What must we do in the holy place? To whom it was answered, You must there receive the comfort of all your toil, and have joy for all your sorrow; you must reap what you have sown, even the fruit of all your prayers, and tears, and sufferings for the King by the way. Gal. 6:7,8. In that place you must wear crowns of gold, and enjoy the perpetual sight and vision of the Holy One; for “there you shall see him as he is.” 1 John, 3:2.
There also you shall serve him continually with praise, with shouting and thanksgiving, whom you desired to serve in the world, though with much difficulty, because of the infirmity of your flesh. There your eyes shall be delighted with seeing, and your ears with hearing the pleasant voice of the Mighty One. There you shall enjoy your friends again that are gone thither before you; and there you shall with joy receive even every one that follows into the holy place after you. There also you shall be clothed with glory and majesty, and put into an equipage fit to ride out with the King of Glory. 
When he shall come with sound of trumpet in the clouds, as upon the wings of the wind, you shall come with him; and when he shall sit upon the throne of judgment, you shall sit by him; yea, and when he shall pass sentence upon all the workers of iniquity, let them be angels or men, you also shall have a voice in that judgment, because they were his and your enemies. Also, when he shall again return to the city, you shall go too with sound of trumpet, and be ever with him. 1 Thess. 4:14-17; Jude 14,15; Dan. 7:9,10; 1 Cor. 6:2,3.

Referenced in books dating from 1896, no other information is given about provenance. Click on the link above to see it very large and examine the wonderful illustrations in detail

Plan of the Road from the City of Destruction
to the Celestial City from the 1833 edition of "The Pilgrim's Progress"

The Prayer Machinery of Heaven #7: The Debt

If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. (Psalm 66:18).

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9).

Prayer straddles our lives both on earth when we pray and in heaven when Jesus hears. All week I'm focusing on prayer. It's important. I need to do better in my life, and I can't imagine a Christian who doesn't think they can do better at prayer either.

Charles Spurgeon said,
Prayer meetings are the throbbing machinery of the church.
Last weekend, I was thinking of one of Spurgeon's sermons, called God’s Providence. (#3114). Spurgeon likened the cherubim's acts near the throne and the wheels within wheels as described by Ezekiel as machinery of Providence. He described, hypothetically of course, the wheels going up and down and left and right in tandem as the machinery of Providence carrying out God’s will and decrees. It’s an interesting thought, and Spurgeon is vivid about his descriptions.

This series of 'prayer machinery of heaven' is inspired by those two thoughts.

Please enjoy this scripture photo I made of the machinery of prayer. Under that will be some further resources on prayer suggestions.

There are two 'If's' there. If we confess, He is faithful to forgive. If we hold onto our sins and cherish them, He does not listen. Prayer is the vehicle of communion with the Lord, and dealing with sin is the oil that expedites the prayer or it falls to the ground with a thud.

In "The Lord's Prayer" from Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus said "pray in this way" which includes instructions to pray for forgiveness of sin,

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. (Matthew 6:12)

Gill's Commentary mentions the use of the word debts for sins
And forgive us our debts,.... Nothing is more frequent in the Jewish writings than to call sins "debts"; and the phrase, of forgiving, is used both of God and men. 
And sins are debts, aren't they. Strong's Concordance explains the Greek word used here

And to Him we owe it all! Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe!!!

He paid the debt, and He set us free. We are mindful of the two 'Ifs' however, do not cherish sin, and confess it daily. What a privilege to pray. What a gift that He hears us.

Prayer Machinery of Heaven series:

Prayer Machinery #1: Introduction and Praying for Missionaries

Prayer Machinery #2: Praying for pray for our Elders (pastors, deacons, teachers, etc).

Prayer Machinery #3Praying for each other

Prayer Machinery #4: How to Pray

Prayer Machinery #5: A focus on Jesus in heaven who hears our prayers, and what a comfort that is.

Prayer Machinery #6: Persevering in Prayer

Prayer Machinery #7: The Two 'If''s and the Importance of confessing Sin

Please don't say "broken" when we mean sin

Are we broken? According to the dictionary definition of broken , are we "fractured or damaged"? As humans, do we need fixing? ...