The (Sad) State of Christianity

I have been witness to things over the years that makes my skin crawl. The state of the church universal, but particularly in the United States and Europe, is appalling. 500 years ago, Martin Luther sparked a Reformation that would forever change the course of church and human history. His courage and steadfastness in his search for truth is inspiring and served the church well. God did, and continues to use Luther in a mighty way.

However, today we are in need of reformation again. The church is falling back into darkness. We see a renewal to have bonds with the Roman Catholic Church that continues in its heresy. We see the rise of LGBT sympathizers in the church defying God and His created order. We see prosperity gospel being preached through the lands. We see the gifts of tongues being abused and falsified.

While all of this is happening we see the church losing the culture. Christianity is no longer an acceptable position in the eyes of the culture. This is nobody’s fault but the church. We have lost our way. We are more worried about appeasing the lost rather than telling the truth to the lost. We cater our church services to the lost which leaves us with shallow theology in the service leading to theological illiteracy in the pew.

Scripture has also lost its place as the source of truth that we are to live by. Science, which changes frequently, has replaced the Bible. Evolution is the mantra of the day despite the fact it goes directly against logic and what the Creator has told us happened. Are we really that wise? No.

Paul tells us in Romans that because we defy God we are left to our own ways. Professing ourselves, the human race, to be wise, we are becoming fools.

Where is the church? Where are the godly leaders? Where is Scripture? Why are we not fighting back? Are we afraid? Or do we just not care?

Church it is time for a new reformation. We must bring back biblical standards and authority. We must bring back rich theology. We must rediscover that the church is to feed the believers so that we can go out and preach to the lost. Stand up church!

Book Review: Grace Defined and Defended by Kevin DeYoung

Kevin DeYoung’s book, Grace Defined and Defended takes readers on a journey through the 400 year-old confession called the Canons of Dort. This simple, yet informative, book shows the history and circumstances that lead to the canons being written birthing the formula for what we now call TULIP.

The book does not get heavy into a theological treatise. DeYoung addresses this at the beginning stating:

My first goal is to explain the Canons of Dort. Think of this not as a  mini systematic theology or as an exegetical exploration of key salvation texts, but as a brief, accessible commentary on the background and theology of Dort itself.

DeYoung definitely delivers. He brings the articles of the canons to succinct and clear statements with explanation in modern English that leave no doubt on the history and meaning of the articles. 

The main text of the book does not give the full text of the canons. Rather, DeYoung takes key phrases that build the meat of each article and expounds upon it. This helps to keep the book short and focused sticking with the most important facts of the documents. Full texts of the positions of Dort and the Arminian position (Remonstrant) can be found in the appendixes at the back of the book. Scripture proofs are also provided for each of the points.

It is good to note that at the beginning of the book DeYoung takes a history of the TULIP acronym explaining that, while good, it does not give the full picture of Calvinism or even the canons of Dort. He does make sure to say that TULIP is good for a summary but it is not the complete story or position.

I have to give Grace Defined and Defended five out of five stars. It is easy to read and understand while giving a clear history on the Canons of Dort. I applaud Kevin DeYoung for another outstanding book to help educate the church on what it believes and why it believes it.

I was given a free copy of the book by the Publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Thoughts on the United Methodist Church

I go to a United Methodist Church. I sometimes preach at a United Methodist Church. But I have real problems with the United Methodist Church.

This year at GC2019, the church decided to strengthen the ban on LGBT in the Book of Discipline. Of course, this should never have even been a question. Scripture is clear that practicing homosexuality, professing homosexuality, and anything else that falls within LGBT is sin. Romans 1 makes this abundantly clear as do other places in Scripture.

Yet, there is a large part of the United Methodist Church that seeks to ignore, twist, and distort these passages to fit their political views or to appease people, or to just not have to make the hard and tough decisions.

In the months following the February decision to enact the Traditional Plan, we have seen an active push from One Church Plan supporters, and other plan supporters to undermine the decision. There are active pushes to elect new delegates that would overturn the decision. There have been Judicial Council complaints. There has been flat out defiance and rebellion against the plan. So where does this leave us? What are we to do?

If the Bishops will not enforce the discipline, and, in fact, keep helping to undermine the duly passed Traditional Plan, then the United Methodist Church needs to dissolve or remove Bishops who will not enforce the polices of the church. Since the latter is not going to happen, dissolution is our only option.

Those who seek to follow the Bible cannot stay in fellowship with those who defy Scripture. 2 John 11-13 clearly states that we are not to maintain connection with those who do not follow Christ’s teachings in the church.

The UMC has come to an end. There is no unity. It is a false unity. Continuing with this broken fellowship, this unyoked fellowship, only hurts the body of Christ.

It is my recommendation that at GC2020 they just end it all. Let all the churches go their own ways and decide for themselves whether they will follow the LGBT culture, or follow God’s Word.

Book Review: Confronting Christianity

Confronting Christianity by Rebecca McLaughlin is a new book out by Crossway Publishing. McLaughlin poses twelve difficult questions for Christians to engage with regarding their faith, realities of that faith, how they are viewed by the culture and how it impacts their own lives. But what this book also does is turn the same questions around on the culture who likes to attack Christianity in these twelve areas.

So what are the areas discussed? Atheism, Diversity, One True Religion, Morality, Violence, Literalness of the Scripture, Science, Women, Homosexuality, Slavery, Suffering, and Hell. McLaughlin tackles all of these issues head on without apology.

The book is an easy read. McLaughlin uses stories from her own life and others to illustrate key points and brings science and Scripture to easy levels to understand. Her grasp of the culture wars that contend with Christianity are second to none.

I highly recommend this book to be part of your library to strengthen your faith and to help equip you in the area of apologetics. I easily give it four out of five stars.

I received a free copy of this book from Crossway Publishing in exchange for a fair review.

The Idea of Free Will

Do we really have free will? What is free will? Can we choose to accept Christ in our natural condition? These are all questions that have raged for centuries. Of course, there is an answer to this debate that is not hard to discover.

What exactly is free will? Well, that depends on what you are talking about. We do have free will in the sense that we can choose to do what we desire. But that does not mean that we can choose to accept Christ on our own. Why? Because that is not the desire of the natural man. Romans 3:10-12 confirms this.

We also know that salvation does not come from the will of man. John confirms this in his Gospel.

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

John 1:12-13 ESV

It is not the will of man or the flesh. It is the will of God, his sovereign election, that chooses us. It is not the other way around.

Later in John’s Gospel Jesus says:

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.

John 6:44 ESV

We cannot come to God unless He draws us. This is not a denial of free will. This is actually an affirmation of free will. However, the will of natural man will never desire God.

Does John 12:32 Go Against The Doctrines of Grace?

John 12:32 is a verse often used to go against the Reformed Doctrine of Sovereign Election. The argument is that Christ will draw “all people” to Himself, therefore this is not something only reserved to a subset of people known as the elect.

Here is the question. Does “all people” in the verse mean every person on earth or is it talking about something else? How can we answer this question?

To make this verse mean every person you have to ignore a basic rule of biblical interpretation. That is, you must take this verse out of the context of the passage.

If you single out this one verse then yes, it definitely says all people and one can assume that it means every individual person. However, if you look back at verses 20-22 you get the context of what Jesus is talking about.

There were Greeks that had come to the disciples in order to talk to Jesus. This gives us the context. The Jews (which included the disciples) were under the impression that since they were God’s chosen people, they were the ones to whom salvation was promised.

However, John 12:32 shows that Jesus is proclaiming that salvation is to both Jew and Gentile. So “all people” in verse 32 means all people groups Jew and Gentile.

When interpreting Scripture it is crucial that the full context of the passage be looked at in order to arrive at the proper interpretation of that passage.

Pharaoh and Sovereign Election

One of the challenged points of Calvinism is that of Sovereign (unconditional) election. This states that God has chosen some to be saved and passed over others. People challenge this as unfair, unjust, or just plain unbiblical. So do we see any examples of Sovereign Election in Scripture? Of course we do.

In the Exodus story we see the tenth plague, the plague of death. Exodus 11 says the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart against Israel and he did not let them go. Then, in chapter 12, he gives Moses, and by extension Israel, the instructions on how to be passed over by death. These instructions were not given to the Egyptians. They were not chosen to be saved.

The result of this was that the firstborn children of Egypt died that night. Paul even addresses this in Romans 9. Was God unfair? Was God unjust?

What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

Romans 9:14-18 ESV

God will have mercy on whom he will have mercy. God chose not to have mercy on Egypt. The same way, God chooses not to have mercy on some people today but others he calls by his Sovereign choice to come to a saving faith in Him.

The Deity of Christ

One of the most dangerous positions in theology today is to deny the Deity of Christ. This is one of the leading dangers to the Church. The Deity of Christ is undeniable according to Scripture. It is plainly evident from the pages of Scripture. This post will examine only one of those passages.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’ ”) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

John 1:1-18 English Standard Version

John opens his Gospel with a proclamation that Jesus is God. The Word was in the beginning with God and the Word was God. And who is that Word? Jesus Christ.

The Word (God) became flesh and dwelt among us. Christ is that person. Christ is God. There is no denying it.

We must stand against any teacher who tries to claim that Jesus is not God. Some say that the Word was just an idea of God’s. But that goes against the very fabric and context of the passage.

No, Jesus is God. Period. We need to stand firm on that truth.

The Danger of Inclusiveness

Why is inclusiveness in the church a danger? Why are some against using the church service as an evangelistic tool primarily? Why are some against the “seeker-friendly” movement? It is because that is not the purpose of the church.

By allowing anyone to come in and join and preach and teach we allow people who are not grounded in the Word of God to influence the church. This is allowing false teaching a foothold.

The purpose of the church meeting is to disciple believers. It is not an outreach. Now, do not misunderstand, I am not saying that we should turn away non-believers. But they should be there to learn and nothing else. They should not be permitted to teach and preach.

We have to draw a line when it comes to the instruction of the body. There are rules laid out in Scripture for a reason. When the church seeks to win souls primarily from the pew they are ignoring the Great Commission to GO. It doesn’t say bring in, it says go.

John MacArthur got this exactly right when he said:

It is being scandalized by its tolerances, by its inclusiveness. It is kicking the door wide open and embracing anybody and everybody in the name of love and tolerance and openness.

John MacArthur

Should we love everyone? Yes! Should we reach out to the lost? YES! But should we want to allow anything in our churches in the name of tolerance, love, and inclusion? No. That is the true poison that will destroy churches.

“IF” the One Church Plan Had Passed GC2019 — People Need Jesus

by Bob Phillips What follows are plausible pieces in the puzzle of “What If” the OCP had passed the recent General Conference. Some of what follows would have been certainties. All would have been probabilities. Consider the nature, extent and location of uproar, pain and protest to the passage of an imperfectly amended Traditional Plan […]

via “IF” the One Church Plan Had Passed GC2019 — People Need Jesus