Pages

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Rob Bell Denies the Gospel

Thanks "Redeemed" for bringing this to our attention.


************


I’ve mentioned on a few occasions that in his book Velvet Elvis: Repainting The Christian Faith (VE) Rob Bell of Mars Hill Bible Church gives a first hand account of the distortion and denial of the Gospel of Jesus Christ currently going on within the Emergent Church exacerbated by their wrong view of the mission Christ gave His Church. The job of the real followers of Jesus is quite plainly spelled out in our text above:

He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God (vv.19b-20).

If one needs to be reconciled then it becomes obvious one has not already been reconciled simply from Christ dying on the Cross alone. Because it is only after someone has been reconciled to God through His grace alone by a personal commitment by faith alone in Christ alone that they will even be in the Kingdom of Heaven to begin with. And this has always been the Gospel preached by the true historic orthodox Christian Church. The Emergent Church however, is certainly obscuring–if not outrightly denying–the essential work done by Christ in the vicarious penal substitutionary atonement on the Cross, which then leads to their huge misconception concerning the primary mission our Lord has given to His ambassadors to seek and save the lost (see–John 20:21).

Read the rest here.

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Bible vs. the Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon claimes to be "a volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible." Both the Bible and the Book of Mormon declare themselves to be ancient, historical, and reliable rules of faith--the very word of God.

These claims have historically been taken on faith. But is there any evidence to support them one way or the other? Is it even possible to "test" a rule of faith? More to the point, is there any basis for placing one's faith in the Bible or the Book of Mormon?

It's an important question. It's an eternal question. This presentation puts the Bible and the Book of Mormon to the same tests. History, archaeology, textual criticism, and other disciplines combine to shed light on what is true...and what is false.

Truth never fears investigation. Faith need not--and should not--be blind. Discover for yourself which of these books is worthy of being called "scripture" and which is worth of your trust.



Participants: Thomas W. Murphy, William Wilson, Philip Lindholm, Philip Johnston, Peter Williams, Simon Gathercole, Gabriel Barkay, and others.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Getting Solomon right.

Challies has a great article (as usual) on King Solomon with some very good reflections touching in the implications of straying from the Lord. Many consider Solomon as one who started well and ended poorly and in that sense creates an almost mythological and less a historical person. Can it be that simple? I wonder if Solomon was really the man we think he was. I would like to hear your thoughts on this, please.

Solomon remains in so many minds a great superhero of the Bible: the son of David, rich and full of wisdom who went bad in his old age. I see the folly of Solomon beginning at, well, the beginning of his career. He did not have any control over his birth and all that event entailed, but was his rise to the monarchy full of the glamour and glory that he built upon to usher the kingdom into its golden age? Before we can conclude whether or not Solomon ended well, we should first discover if he started well.

Consider Deuteronomy 17:14-20: “When you enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, and you possess it and live in it, and you say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations who are around me,’ you shall surely set a king over you whom the Lord your God chooses, one from among your countrymen you shall set as king over yourselves; you may not put a foreigner over yourselves who is not your countryman. Moreover, he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor shall he cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, since the Lord has said to you, ‘You shall never again return that way.’ He shall not multiply wives for himself, or else his heart will turn away; nor shall he greatly increase silver and gold for himself. Now it shall come about when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself a copy of this law on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests. It shall be with him and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, by carefully observing all the words of this law and these statutes, that his heart may not be lifted up above his countrymen and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, to the right or the left, so that he and his sons may continue long in his kingdom in the midst of Israel.”

First, did God choose Solomon to be king? As sovereignty, yes God did choose Solomon; however, Moses was inspired to write this in anticipation for the day when Israel would ask for a king, to be like the nations. To begin with, Samuel was more like a king to Israel until Israel rejected Samuel and the Lord (1 Samuel 8). When they began to cry out for a king, they were first warned about what kind of rule they would experience. God showed Samuel that Saul was His choice for a king (1 Samuel 9:15ff). Later, David was chosen as king (1 Samuel 16, 2 Samuel 5).

When did God make his choice of Solomon be made known? He didn’t. 1 Kings begins with David in his old age and a soap-opera that even Shakespeare could not concoct. Adonijah declares himself to be king and David never questioned or corrected that declaration (1 Kings 1:5-6). Nathan had nothing to do with Adonijah, so he goes to Bathsheba and they plot and scheme a way to get Solomon onto the throne by appealing to something they remember David promising . . . that he never promised. Solomon gained the throne another means other than God’s choice.

Was Solomon a foreigner? Is it possible that he was half-Israelite? We know that Uriah (the first husband of Bathsheba) was Hittite. Could she have been a Hittite also, or perhaps Ammonite? Some scholars comment her name implies "the daughter of the goddess 'Sheva.'" An Israelite would not be named such.

Second, we read that God saying of the king, “he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor shall he cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, since the Lord has said to you, ‘You shall never again return that way.’” How did Solomon do? We see one of his first acts (after killing off any threats to the throne) was to make an alliance with Egypt by marrying an Egyptian princess (1 Kings 3). We read that he had 40,000 stalls for horses (1 Kings 4:26) and would later import horses from Egypt (1 Kings 10:28).

How’s Solomon holding up so far? Yet somehow, God was pleased to answer Solomon’s prayer for wisdom (1 Kings 3).

Third, we read that the king should not multiply wives for himself. He had 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3). And they turned his heart away to goddess worship. “For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians and after Milcom the detestable idol of the Ammonites. Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and did not follow the Lord fully, as David his father had done.” (1 Sam 11:5-6)

He failed the gold-acquisition standard in no small way (1 Kings 10:14ff).

Fourth, did he keep a copy of these things before his eyes and ears? No record that he read it all the days of his life, that he kept all the words and statutes, that his heart was not lifted up against his people. We know he turned aside from the commandment, that he loved other things and feared other things not-God.

Can we say that he finished poorly? Certainly.
But then, he never started well, either.

The pattern of his life reveals his heart: “Now Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of his father David, except he sacrificed and burned incense on the high places.” (1 Kings 3:3).

How do we weigh his conclusion, “when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.” (Ecclesiates 12:13-14).

Was this repentance at the end of his life, or a statement God's glory in righteousness through judgment?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Geneva Then and Now: Post Tenebras Lux

The beautifully sculptured wall, 18 feet high and 300 feet long, in a majestic park in the center of Geneva, Switzerland, constitutes an impressive monument to the Swiss Reformation of the 16th century. Last week, on an afternoon off from my lectures at the Geneva Bible Institute, I went with a few of the French and Swiss pastors who were attending the conference, to visit Le Mur des Réformateurs. At the centre of the wall are four impressive statues of Farel, Calvin, Beza and Knox. Behind them in letters six feet tall is the motto of the Franco-Swiss Reformation: "Post Tenebras Lux" (After Darkness, Light), referring to the coming of the Gospel and the revival of true faith after centuries of medieval obscurity. Certainly, that old Geneva was not heaven on earth, but it still stands as a moving example of the revival of biblical faith and piety in both private and public life.

Read the rest here.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Mishteh: Simultaneous Blessing/Judgment

We nod our heads to the statement, “It’s a blessing when God comes,” but we shouldn’t —the statement is false. Whether God’s coming is a blessing or not a blessing is determined by the spiritual status of those He comes to – not by God. His coming is a single shared experience; for some it is blessing and for others it is destruction. This is the concept of “mishteh;” a common shared experience with simultaneous blessing/destruction within a group of people – depending upon their individual status. This is a concept described in Genesis that continues through Revelation and the consummation of God’s promises.

(read the rest here)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

50 Great Works of Western Literature

50 GREAT WORKS OF WESTERN LITERATURE:
A SELECTED READING GUIDE FOR CHRISTIAN READERS


Here is a resource provided by one of our Bible College Faculty you may find helpful. Most works are available online, so Google to your heart's content!

Monday, October 16, 2006

The Gospel in a Pagan Society

Prior, Kenneth. The Gospel in a Pagan Society. Downers Grove: Intervarsity, 1975.

The author's may not be a name well known, but his little 120 page book is perhaps the best examination of Acts 17:16-34 to date. Kenneth Prior does not merely deliver a concise commentary on the passage, rather he gives his readers a guided tour through the mindset of the Ancient Near East and helps to discover principles for application for preaching the good news of Jesus in our modern setting.

First, Prior contrasts the results of Paul’s missionary activity with what we may consider successful missionary activity today. In contrast to the events of Pentecost, Paul would not be considered to be a success, for there were no streams of converts pouring into the church. We are challenged to realize the difference between sowing and reaping and how, since the prophets, sowing the gospel is a process that will not see immediate results. Furthermore, we are caused to remember that nothing grows until the ground is first plowed! Hearts must be prepared to receive the seed of the sower.

Next, the author helps us learn the attitude toward art forms and idols. Here we find a Jew in Athens. Jewish attitude is marked by a history of loathing for idolatry (Ex 20:2-6) though the books of History detail the failure of loathing alone and the subsequent participation in idolatry on the part of the Israelites. Simply said, the Exile helped Israel learn their lesson and return to true worship of the living God. The distain for idolatry is seen in Paul and Barnabas recoil in horror in Lystra when people want to worship them as gods ( Acts 14:15). Prior says, “It would be pointless to preach Jesus as Lord if he were merely to be thought of as an addition to an already over-crowded pantheon.” The present situation is no different from Paul’s:

Before we swallow the assumption that the worship of idols is beneath sophisticated twentieth century minds, we ought to appreciate that idols do not have to be physical objects. It is just as possible to have idols in our minds as we create mental images of the kind of God we like to conceive. This is the very things that people do when they introduce their idea of God with expressions as, “I like to think . . .” It is often used to introduce an easy-going God, whose love is assumed to preclude him from punishing sin. In this way it is possible to invent our own God, who may be far removed from the God who has made himself known through Christ and the Bible.”

So we find that before Paul says anything to the Athenians, the idolatry of that culture had already spoken volumes to Paul: people are ignorant about God and have created for themselves a god of their own understanding. And an “unknown god,” just in case they didn’t get it right.

Third, we see how Paul started in the synagogue with the Jews and Gentiles (“devout persons”) who were attracted to the Jewish religion, and how Paul moved through the OT to show necessity of Christ. Next we see how Paul turns his attention to the non-Jewish world that also needs to hear the gospel. He went to where they were, from the synagogue, first to the market then to Mars Hill. Here we find Paul addressing this different crowd in a different way: he argued and in so-doing does not bypass the fallen mind, but addresses the mind distorted by sin and enlightens it by exposing the irrationality of their thinking.

Prior helps us see how Luke then introduces his readers to Paul’s audience, the Epicureans and Stoics. Luke bothers us with this information to demonstrate the necessity of getting to know the ones to whom we are speaking, to listen to them and apply the gospel to their sin root. Prior does his readers the service of introducing the backgrounds of these philosophers: who these people are, their ethics, their theology, and view of life. F.F. Bruce is quoted to say, “Stoicism and Epicurianism represent alternative attempts in pre-Christian paganism to come to terms with life, especially in times of uncertainty and hardship, and post-Christian paganism has not been able to devise of anything appreciably better.”

Prior takes us now to the heart of the message: Jesus and the Resurrection. We don’t know exactly what Paul was saying (he had to have said much more than was actually recorded), but we can infer from Luke’s account that he was preaching Jesus and the Resurrection, at the very least. Though Christ is at the center of all apostolic preaching (especially for Paul) some differences in his preaching style begin to be made evident: when speaking to the Gentiles, Paul makes no reference to the OT specifically, though he still argues about Jesus. The implications of this are huge. Nevetheless, Paul references the resurrection twice to validate the truth of his message.

So what’s new about all this? The way people react to the gospel reveals a great deal about them. Remarks do not change the value of the gospel (any more than critiquing art changes its value), but actually truly reveals the person making the remarks. Paul was bringing a very strange teaching to their ears and his hearers had some clear presuppose-tions that had to be challenged. What Paul was preaching had nothing in common with death-and-birth myths of the mystery religions. It was foolishness to them. Notice Luke’s explanation: 17:20-21. They were “neophiliacs” or, lovers of what is new. What Paul was preaching was established at the foundation of the world.

Paul had moved from a gathering of religious people, familiar with scripture to a gathering of minds where scripture, seemingly, would have no authority. Prior shows how Paul assessed his hearers and not only determined their religiosity, but demonstrates how their ignorance was evidenced in the midst of their love for wisdom. Once he got their attention by making a rather scathing statement of worship in ignorance, he then proceeds to introduce a knowable God. Prior now shows the weight of Paul’s statements in the context of an understanding that proves the Greeks were wrong in many more areas, specifically, their failure as scientists. Guthrie, “ . . . the philosophers tried to explain nature while shutting their eyes.” We learn that when Paul argues how Jesus was more than a man, and they examine the evidence of the resurrection, he is showing them grounds for believing in the existence and nature of God, who cannot be found any other way. More specifically, God not only revealed Himself to man in Jesus and the resurrection, but also revealed Himself to Paul and appointed him a witness of these great events. Now we begin to extrapolate Paul’s evangelistic methodology: He used the principle of scripture, but no proof-texts; and, how the pagan world was being exposed to what was becoming the NT, even being addressed by one of its’ writers.

If God has answered our natural ignorance about him, by revealing himself through ‘Jesus and the resurrection’, our next question must surely be concerned with what God has shown himself to be like.” What kind of God was Paul proclaiming? First, those who saw Jesus in the flesh were expected to have learned something about God who was disclosing himself through him (Jn 14:9-10; Heb 1:1-2). Second, the God of the OT Jesus revealed was proclaimed by Paul in OT language (Acts 17:24a sounds like Exodus 20:11 and 1 Ki 8:27). We understand what a transcendent yet immanent God does to the minds of these Athenians because he is a personal God who has a particular relationship with His creatures.

Once one understands who God is, he may now ask what man is. Prior walks us through the views of basic Greek understanding and it’s modern equivalents with ethical implications seem in the fields of psychology, genetics and racism. Here is a person who is a Jew (there are only two kinds of people: Jews and Gentiles), speaking to Greeks (there are only two kinds of people: Greeks and barbarians), specifically, Athenians (there are only two kinds of people: Athenians and everyone else). What does it mean “we are his offspring?” Is there a master race? Are Christians calling for global same-ness? Prior demonstrates through Paul’s explanation how God had a reason for creating man and ordering his affairs: that they should seek Him (Acts 17:27) If man is in fact God’s creation, it is natural to suppose that he will be concerned to find his paternal creator; i.e., be “inherently religious.”

Man does not seek out God and God demands that he repent! Paul goes on to address the problem of those who have never heard the gospel: “In whatever we may understand the attitude of God towards man’s former ignorance, once Jesus has come and has been made known to men, God calls for their repentance.” The problem for many . . . is not about those who have never heard the Gospel, but those who have heard it, and what they intend to do about it. If they choose to ignore it, there is no doubt about their standing before the One by whom they will finally be judged. The principle of inevitability becomes clear, “Here is the ultimate issue to be faced at the final judgment b those who have had the opportunity to respond to the gospel. Those who will be eternally punished will not just be ‘those who did not know God’, but ‘those who do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus.’”

Inevitability needs to be the strongest apologetic in our witnessing! The Day of Judgment is coming, no matter what the Epicureans or Stoics think. Einstein and Wells could see the impending doom! This day is not a random day of chance, but a fixed day of the determined will of God in which man will be held accountable. This day is not a day of gods and their unrighteousness, but a day of one righteous God who judges with truth and equity, and Paul closes the point by bringing his audience right back to where he began, with Jesus and the resurrection!

Prior gives us these conclusions for our consideration for ministry:

  • Some mocked, others called for another hearing (Acts 17:32);
  • A small group believed, whoever they were;
  • Paul could use what they were thinking without agreeing or embracing it because his argument was Jesus and the resurrection;
  • We live in an Acts 17 world where substandard “Christian” behavior is the norm;
  • We have a pioneer missionary opportunity on our doorstep. Persevere with the same message and method which grew up and proved effective for Paul—acting in the Holy Spirit: Start in the synagogue (re-evangelize the evangelized because of the amount of lip-service to Christ); move to the marketplace; go the “the hill.” Success will be measured in effectiveness, not numbers.
  • We need Men: rely less on “come and see” and do more “go and tell;”
  • We need Method: Express truth in intelligible language;
  • We need Message: though the language we use may change in context with those to whom we speak, the message should not. Paul spoke the OT to those who new it; also, Paul did not speak of the scriptures to those who did not; To both, Paul declared the living and personal God of Christian revelation, singling out His control of nature.
  • Paul took risks: Emphasizing the resurrection risked ridicule from the Athenians who were repulsed by the concept; Introduced a unknown God to them as transcendent and immanent; Convinced men of the inevitability of judgment and the necessity of repentance.

Even though modern man may spurn the unsophisticated idols of ancient times, he still has his mental images of how he would like to think of God or whatever he decides to put in his place. . . . The way in which Paul set about making the truth known in Athens gives us the kind of points with which pagans can still be challenged today. The still must face the person of Christ and the evidence of the resurrection. They may not capitulate when we say, ‘the Bible says . . . “ but they still have to recon with the witness the Apostles recorded in their writings, of which they were so convinced that they were prepared to submit to cruel deaths rather than deny its truth. Everyone must some day face death and whatever lies beyond, even though they live as though this present earthly life will go on for ever. And then they will discover that ‘It is no unknown God but a risen Christ with whom we have to deal.’”

Friday, October 13, 2006

What Seeker-Sensitivity looks like going door-to-door

No, these guys are not Christian . . . nor are they Mormon:


Get this video and more at MySpace.com

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Apology

“We who defend Christianity find ourselves constantly opposed not by the irreligion of our hearers but by their real religion. Speak about beauty, truth and goodness, or about a God who is simply the indwelling principle of these three, speak about a great spiritual force pervading all things, a common mind of which we are all parts, a pool of generalized spirituality to which we can all flow, and you will command friendly interest. But the temperature drops as soon as you mention a God who has purposes and performs particular actions, who does one thing and not another, a concrete, choosing, commanding, prohibiting God with a determinate character. People become embarrassed or angry. Such a conception seems to them primitive and crude and even irreverent. The popular 'religion' excludes miracles because it excludes the 'living God' of Christianity and believes instead in a kind of God who obviously would not do miracles, or indeed anything else."

C.S. Lewis, Miracles.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Jet Collision

Did you hear the news about the two jets that collided over the South American jungles just a few days ago? One plane landed and the pilots were arrested. The other plane crashed, killing all passengers and crew.

Both jets were equipped with a modern traffic collision avoidance system, which monitors other planes and sets off an alarm if they get too close.

Geraldo Pereira of the Federal Procecutor’s office said the Embraer Legacy 600 transponder, which automatically transmits electronic signals that communicate a plane's location, may not have been operating.

"Preliminary investigations indicate that the pilots may have turned off the transponder, that they knew the risks they were running and nevertheless they took certain attitudes that endangered the lives of people," he said.

This is not the first time this kind of thing has happened, either.

In 1984 an Avianca Airlines jet crashed in Spain. Investigators studying the accident made an eerie discovery. The “black box” cockpit recorders revealed that several minutes before impact a shrill, computer-synthesized voice from the plane’s automatic warning system told the crew repeatedly in English, “Pull up! Pull up!”

The pilot, evidently thinking the system was malfunctioning, snapped, “Shut up, Gringo!” and switched the system off. Minutes later the plane plowed into the side of a mountain. Everyone on board died.

When I saw that tragic story on the news shortly after it happened, it struck me as a perfect parable of the way modern people treat the warning messages of their consciences.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Way of the Master Radio: The Ukraine Edition

What is life like in small town Ukraine.
Todd talks to a young woman who believes she will be reincarnated.
Todd preaches to a Ukrainian chuch about Christ forshadowed in the Old Testament.

Listen to "Way of the Master Radio: The Ukraine Edition" here.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Popular Posts