1 Then God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and live there, and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.” 2 So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods which are among you, and purify yourselves and change your garments; 3 and let us arise and go up to Bethel, and I will make an altar there to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.” Gen. 35:1–3, NASB
I’m sure that most Christians’ conception of idolatry is one in which people fall down and worship some statue or image or a facsimile of something that appears to resemble a god. While that is an example of idolatry there is a more subtle form of idolatry that all people are neck-deep in outside of the grace of God.
Christianity Today is reporting today that Joshua Harris, pastor of Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, MD, shared in a recent sermon that he had been sexually abused as a child. In talking about the abuse he suffered, Harris encouraged anyone hearing him who was currently being abused to go to someone trusted and seek help.
Pastor Matt Richard gives great counsel for pastors, and essential information for all believers on the pastoral office. Quoting a letter to young seminarians from David Petersen:
You are a servant of the Word. Follow Jesus. The Way of the Cross is a lonely, narrow path but it leads to heaven. Be more afraid of God than you are of the people. It is not the one who signs the check who provides daily bread. Do the right thing. Tell the Truth. Suffer the consequences. That is what a servant of Christ does.
1 But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron 1 Tim. 4:1–2, NASB
In these last days, there appears to be a clarifying work of God going on in within the visible church. In the early church and in all those historic periods when it was not “comfortable” to be counted among those who named Christ as their Lord and Saviour, the genuine believers were easy to spot. They endured. They may have undergone severe persecution even unto death, but they did not fall away. Since the end of Puritanism, Christianity has taken on a role in the West that ensured religious freedom. Humanism began to encroach upon doctrine and in every aspect of how church was done. Despite bright spots in this period such as the Great Awakening and then later the ministries of men like Charles Spurgeon, a downgrade in doctrine began to emerge into the Church. Humanism begat Liberal Theology which devastated the Church. A backlash against it called Fundamentalism was born. It was a move away from Liberal Theology, but it’s doctrines bore the stamp of legalism in many areas. This caused a backlash in the opposite direction that begat the emergent church movement and the New Evangelism.
Christian News Network reports:
Three jurors in the trial of convicted Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell spoke to reporters on Wednesday, outlining their viewpoints, conclusions and reflections on the case.
David Misko, Sarah Glinksi and Joseph Carroll spoke outside of the Philadelphia Criminal Justice Center, all in agreement that they made the right decision.
As the Sola Sisters blog has documented in earlier articles, Sovereign Grace Ministries is currently embroiled in an ongoing class action lawsuit alleging child sex abuse dating back a number of years. Radio talk show host Janet Mefferd has been diligently reporting on the case by interviewing various attorneys involved in the lawsuit, as well as former Sovereign Grace Ministries leader, now turned whistle-blower, Brent Detwiler.
18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give this authority to me as well, so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21 “You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22 “Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 “For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity.”
Acts 8:18–23, NASB
In these times of the “Compromised Church” with very little knowledge of historical Christianity and what makes up what is truly Orthodox, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised when I’m called a heretic and false teacher for teaching Reformation Theology and then revealing that my view of eschatology is (gasp) not dispensational/pre-millennialism. I have been told more than a few times over the last week or so that I could not possibly be a genuine brother and hold to the view of eschatology that I espouse or that I am a Calvinist, et cetera. What is it that makes one a genuine Christian rather than a disingenuous believer? Let’s take a look at a New Testament example.
Christian News Network reports:
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has denied asylum to a Christian family that came to America to homeschool their children.
8 To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; 9 not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. 10 For, “The one who desires life, to love and see good days, must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit. 11 He must turn away from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, and his ears attend to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 1 Pet. 3:8–12, NASB
This era of the Church is one of extreme deception due to compromise with the standards and focus of the world. Separation between the Church and the world is not being kept. Instead, the holy barrier between the two has been breached as false prophets have welcomed in not only the world and its ways into their churches, but have also embraced the mysticism of every type including those from Eastern Religions. Syncretism is the new byword of the Emergent Village. On the other hand, God is good. He keeps His promises. The Lord told Peter that He is the one building His Church and no evil will ever be able to destroy it. (Matthew 16:18) If this is true, and it is because our Lord spoke it, then how do we reconcile the rapid apostasy of so much of the visible Church with what He said? God always keeps a remnant during times of rampant apostasy. These Christians are the small group whom God has reserved who have not bowed the knee to Baal. These are also the ones in whom God is developing Christlikeness and through the fires of persecution by those in the visible Church who have succumbed to the heresies and ungodliness going on in it, He is teaching them how to stand firm and never compromise with evil. In this they learn the difference between debate and dialogue and know that the former actually clarifies the truth and why they hold to it while the latter is only a conversation which has the intent of compromising the truth.
15 When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. 17 When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them. Luke 2:15–20, NASB
Human faith is not the same thing as genuine (saving) faith, which is a gift from God. The former is based in human reason and intellect. The latter is supernatural. What passes for faith in many professing believers’ “Christianity” is a belief based in who preaches to or teaches them. This is not genuine faith because it is not a belief in the Word or in God through the Word. These are “believers” who will eventually fall away. Some may last a lifetime, but as soon as the fires of tribulation come upon them they slide into apostasy because their faith is not of the substance that endures.
How do pagan practices find their way into the church? As the following article demonstrates, it begins rather innocently for some Christians, who may simply want to experience a deeper connection to God through a mixture of appealing spiritual practices. The dangers of dabbling in something God detests come at a great cost, warns Marsha West.
Author Dallas Willard died on the morning of 8 May 2013 just two days after announcing that he was battling Stage Four cancer. He was 77.
Willard authored such books as The Spirit of the Disciplines, The Divine Conspiracy, Renovation of the Heart, and Hearing God. He also was known as a leading authority among those who teach spiritual formation, the process of apparent spiritual development through engaging in a set of behaviors, or disciplines. Advocates believe these disciplines, which often include mystical practices such as contemplative prayer, help to shape the character of the practitioner into the likeness of Christ.
WORLD Magazine offers a brief biography of Willard.
As eternal truths, justification, sanctification and imputation cannot be separated; yet, looking at imputation in justification is useful for our growth in grace and strengthened walk of faith. Preaching Christ Crucified continues its series of studies in Romans.
10 Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, 11 persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me! 12 Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 13 But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.2 Tim. 3:10–13, NASB
“Christians” in the United States and other “civilized” countries do not exist in a climate of a fear of persecution like those in China and India. Some would say that is because of our culture or that there are huge numbers of Christians here. However, the truth of the matter is that Christians who live in total obedience to their Lord will be persecuted. So, what does that say about Christians who live at peace with the world around them? The truth of the matter is this; the reason Christians are not persecuted in the US is that very few of them are walking in the level of obedience to their Lord that would draw attention to them from those who hate the real Jesus and the Word of God. However, if they were living holy lives, sharing their faith, actively making disciples, and preaching the whole Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ the wrath of Satan and his seed would come upon them.
Christian News Network reports:
A Chicago-based doctor who also owns an extravagant Middle Eastern restaurant is now seeking to open the first Sharia-compliant surgery center in Illinois.
The Pentagon has released clarifying statements following controversial reports that soldiers who share their faith could face prosecution. News outlet Stars and Stripes reports:
It’s OK to evangelize. But it’s not OK to proselytize.
That’s what the Pentagon said Thursday, attempting to clarify its position on religious speech in uniform as controversy swirled up around press reports over possible prosecutions of troops for sharing their faith.
What it comes down to, officials said, is that discussing matters of faith and religious practice with a willing audience is allowed, but pushing religious beliefs on those who don’t want to hear it is a form of harassment forbidden under Defense Department policies.
According to USA Today 2012 GOP Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan, a Roman Catholic, has chosen to ignore church teaching that homosexuality is a sin against God and now approves of homosexual couples adopting children. “Asked at a town-hall-style meeting Monday in Wisconsin about the issue, Ryan said he would “vote differently these days” and still opposes gay marriage. In 1999, the congressman voted in favor of banning same-sex couples in the District of Columbia from adopting.”
Associated Press reports:
The government on Tuesday lowered to 15 the age at which girls can buy the morning-after pill without a prescription and said the emergency contraception no longer has to be kept behind pharmacy counters.
Jesus said to him, ”If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” Matt. 19:21, NASB
The message of salvation that is normally preached or taught in the vast majority of churches these days has been contaminated with Humanism. The focus is on becoming a Christian for some great benefit or reward from God based upon little to no personal cost. Masses of people respond to that false gospel as well. The genuine gospel that our Saviour preached during His earthly ministry may have mentioned the benefits of being saved, but He emphasized the cost of becoming His disciple in such a way that it caused many of His hearers to not follow Him anymore. In fact, whenever He saw that the people were flocking to Him to have their felt needs met, He would speak a message to them that expressed that those who are His disciples are the ones who have counted the cost and have seen that the eternal is all that truly matters.
From Christian News Network :
A GOP group that was formed last year to help finance Republicans who support the homosexual lifestyle has now upped the ante with a new lobbying effort to convince Republican legislators to vote in favor of same-sex marriage.
Christian News Network reports:
A new undercover video released by a prominent pro-life organization shows an abortion worker explaining how a baby that is born alive after a failed abortion procedure would be placed into a jar of solution to be killed.
In December 2012, a poorly done parody of the pop song, “Call Me Maybe” circulated throughout the blogosphere. “Ordain a Lady” was a production created by the Women’s Ordination Conference (WOC), which describes itself as “the world’s oldest and largest organization working solely for the ordination of women as priests, deacons, and bishops into an inclusive and accountable Catholic Church.” Some of the lyrics for the parody tune read as follows:
I had a dream as a girl,
Like Therese of Lisieux,
I need to give this whirl
So I can lead the way.
Woman priest is my call;
Women preaching for all.
Don’t listen to St. Paul,
‘Cuz I can lead the way.
My ministry is growing.
Excommunication? I’m still glowing.
M.Div, chasuble flowing;
Where you think the Church is going?
Hey, I was baptized, and this is crazy,
But God just called me, so ordain a lady!
Justice doesn’t look right, with only male priests,
But God just called me, so ordain a lady!
Four months later, Reuters tells the story of Rosemarie Smead, “a 70-year-old Kentucky woman [who] was ordained a priest on Saturday as part of a dissident group operating outside of official Roman Catholic Church authority.” Though it has not been reported that Smead is affiliated with the aforementioned WOC, it nevertheless seems obvious that she and the group share similar goals. Continue reading