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Month: January 2019

Unity For The Sake of Unity?

Unity For The Sake of Unity?

In the ongoing drama leading up to the United Methodist Church’s Special Session of the General Conference next month one argument that we have seen over and over is that the church needs to stay unified above all else. But is that biblical? I would argue that it is not.

The United Methodist Church has a major problem. That is that they have forsaken the authority of Scripture. They are trying a different way. They succumb to culture and the ideas of men rather than the ideas of God. If they were not, there would not be the issue that they currently find themselves in.

Nevertheless, we are told that the church needs to find a way to unify under what they agree upon. But Scripture disagrees. Scripture tells us in several places that when people come up with unbiblical doctrine we are to have no partnership with them (Ephesians 5:7). Paul says to Titus the following:

As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him.

Titus 3:10 English Standard Version

Have nothing more to do with him. Does this sound like unity above all else to you? No, it doesn’t. That’s because we are not to let false doctrine and unbiblical teaching infiltrate the church. That is why the Traditional Plan needs to pass for the United Methodist Church.

The cry here is that the progressives will leave the church if the Traditional Plan passes. To that, I say, “AMEN!” Let them leave! The church needs to undergo purification and these false teachers and proponents of sin need to be moved out of the church.

Now I want to be very clear, I am not saying we should not witness to the LGBTQ crowd. But they are not to have a place in the church. That is not even to say they cannot attend church. But under no circumstance should their sin be welcomed, celebrated, and advocated for, it should be dealt with as any other sin.

LGBTQ persons who are practicing and not trying to mortify that sin are not to be considered for the clergy according to Scripture. They are not to be married according to Scripture. Churches, Districts, Conferences, and Bishops that seek to do those things have no place in the church universal and need to be dealt with.

Does Inerrancy Matter?

Does Inerrancy Matter?

This is a question that comes up over and over again. The simple answer is, yes, inerrancy matters. But why? This post will not go into the intricate details of inerrancy. This is not the proper format for such an undertaking. The purpose here is to look at some logic regarding the truth of Scripture and the issue of inerrancy.

The Bible is to be the guiding light for Christians. The Bible gives us the truth on every facet of life that you can imagine. Now, it doesn’t give us guidance on whether or not we should wear a purple shirt or a green shirt today, that is not what we mean when we say every facet of life. But what we mean is that every situation you encounter has principles in Scripture that will help you work out a right attitude and response to that situation. And this is where inerrancy comes into play.

First, we need to define inerrancy as it relates to Scripture. The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy defines inerrancy as follows:

Scripture is without error or fault in all its teaching…

The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy 1980

Scripture is without any error in everything that it teaches. That means it is without fault in its historical statements, theological statements, scientific statements, and any other statement the Bible makes. This, of course, refers to the original manuscripts and not any specific translation of Scripture.

So what? Why does this matter? Let’s think about it this way, if you can take any part of the Bible, let’s say Genesis, and says that it contains error, then you call the rest of Scripture into question. Scripture builds on itself. Yes, it is a collection of 66 different works but those works (books) give one unifying message and they stand on each other.

If you can call into question the account in Genesis, you can call into question the accounts of Jesus Christ. At that point, you call into question the exclusivity of Salvation for Christians and Christians alone. After that, you can throw out any part of the Bible that does not agree with modern thought.

It is a dangerous slope. You either take all of Scripture or you throw it all out. Inerrancy is one of the most fundamental beliefs that impact the Gospel today.

How To Study The Bible

How To Study The Bible

I am often asked, how do you study the Bible? How do you know that your interpretation is correct? Are there rules to follow? Are there tools to use? Where do I begin? All of these are very good questions, and all of these questions have good answers that follow them. This post is not meant to be an exhaustive look at how to conduct Bible Study. This is simply a brief overview of the topic.

The Bible was written in three primary languages, Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic. It was also written to various people groups in various cultures spanning over 1,000 years and none of those were cultures and people that are still present today. This is known as the gap of Biblical Interpretation. In order to arrive at a proper interpretation, we must close this gap and find the original meaning of any passage in Scripture that we wish to study. So how do we accomplish this?

First, you must become familiar with your passage in your native tongue. To do this, you must read the passage in several English translations. Preferably, a few translations that are essentially literal and one that is dynamic equivalent. Dynamic equivalent translations, such as the New International Version, do not necessarily follow the literal translation of a passage and add in commentary-like supplements in phrasing and word usage to help the reader understand the meaning. Essentially literal translations are just that, translations that are as literal as possible compared to the original. Translations that I recommend are the English Standard Version, New American Standard Bible, and the, Christian Standard Bible.

The second step is to look at the original languages. You need to find words, using a concordance and lexicon combination or Bible software such as Logos Bible Software, that are key to the passage. Then you need to look up the corresponding Greek or Hebrew word to find out what the author meant by using that particular word.

The third step is to understand any historical and cultural contexts that may be applicable when looking at interpreting a passage. Where was this written? When was this written? To whom was this written? Were there any significant events going on at that time that might be alluded to in the passage? Were there any geographical features that need to be taken into account? These types of questions help give insight to things that are not plain in the text itself.

When you look at these steps, the next thing to do is to figure out, what did this mean to the original audience? How would they have understood this passage?

When following these rules, you are well on your way to framing proper interpretations of Scripture. We can know what Scripture says with confidence. Remember, there is only one possible interpretation but an unlimited number of possible applications.

Christ Did Not Die For All Sins: A Look At Limited Atonement

Christ Did Not Die For All Sins: A Look At Limited Atonement

One of the things we hear most in Christianity is the idea that Christ died for every sin that was ever committed. But is that accurate? Did Christ truly die for all sins or did he only die for the sins of those who would believe in Him?

The question comes down to what you believe about the atonement. Was the atonement limited or was it universal? Limited Atonement, of course, is one of the five points of a theological viewpoint called Calvinism. Some people refer to this doctrine as definite atonement since limited can be misleading.

The controversy comes when people misunderstand definite atonement. They tend to believe that this means Christ’s sacrifice was not good enough to save everyone. On the contrary, it was sufficient for all, but not meant for all.

You run into a major problem if Christ died for the sin of every man. Some will not be saved, we know this from many passages of Scripture. If some are not saved then Christ’s atonement was not good enough. Some of Christ’s atonement was wasted. He was powerless over them. You also run into the issue of double jeopardy which causes God to be unjust.

People try to overcome this last point by saying, but salvation is a gift that must be accepted. That is not how justice works. Imagine this, you are convicted of a crime and are ordered to pay a penalty. If the penalty is paid for you, it does not matter if you wanted to accept it or not. The price has been paid. You are free to go. You would not be punished for a crime that has already had the punishment fulfilled.

So the plain fact is that Christ did not die for every sin that has ever been committed. No, He died only for the sins of those who would believe in Him.

Book Review: The Teaching Ministry of the Church

Book Review: The Teaching Ministry of the Church

The Teaching Ministry of the Church, edited by William R. Yount, is a resource designed to help churches and pastors set up an educational ministry within their church. Educational ministries range from Sunday School to youth group, to adult education.

The book is written by a slew of authors in various essays. While much of the book is profitable, particularly regarding methods of Bible Study, I found much of the teaching advice and instruction to be outdated and short-sighted.

The book does not seem to grasp modern culture and educational research. Its methods look to be from the 1970s and would fail to capture audience attention in the modern culture.

In short, the book captures the right needs for education in the church. It also captures the correct roles for God, Pastors, and Laity in teaching the church. But the book fails in actually instructing how to best execute that educational role.

With all of this in mind, I do not recommend this resource.

What Changed? Homosexuality No Longer A Sin?

What Changed? Homosexuality No Longer A Sin?

As we look forward to next month’s Special General Conference of the United Methodist Church regarding human sexuality, I have one simple question, what changed? If the current doctrine of the church, which should be based on Scripture and Scripture alone, says that homosexuality is incompatible with Christianity, then what changed?

What in Scripture has changed to make this debate come to the floor? What Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic term changed its definition so that the interpretation of thousands of years is suddenly incorrect? What has changed that has made the church realize that all of a sudden LGBTQ is compatible with Christianity?

Of course, the answer is that nothing has changed. If the church allows LGBTQ pastors and marriages it is not because something has changed with God’s view on the matter. It is not because Scripture was wrongly interpreted. It is not because Scripture has changed. It is not because the Holy Spirit is leading that way.

If the United Methodist Church embraces the LGBTQ lifestyle it is because they have departed from God’s Word. It is as simple as that. The church would no longer be following God. The church would no longer be pointed toward Christ Jesus. Instead, it would be pointed and aligned toward Satan and the work of fallen mankind.

The only thing the church can do next month is to adopt the Traditional Plan. There is no other option that is compatible with God’s Word. Not the One Church Plan, not the Connectional Conference Plan. Only the Traditional Plan upholds the biblical view on the matter.

Is Evolution Compatible With Genesis?

Is Evolution Compatible With Genesis?

One of the things we have heard time and time again is that the Genesis account does not agree with science. But what you may not know is that there are groups that state evolution is completely compatible with the Genesis account. Both of these positions are false.

First, the idea that the Genesis account does not agree with science suggests that science actually disagrees with Genesis. Nothing has proved the theories of Darwinian Evolution. Evolution is illogical and there is no evidence to support it despite what you hear in classrooms and in the media. Most of the support for evolution is nothing but smoke and mirrors.

Second, the idea that evolution is somehow compatible with Genesis is equally absurd. The two positions are complete polar opposites. You cannot have different organisms developing over the course of millions of years when Genesis says that it was made in one week. It does not and cannot mesh.

Rather than trying to synthesize man’s theories (not science) with the Bible, we should go back to the drawing board and see how science, true science, actually aligns with Scripture. You either believe Scripture, or you do not. There is no in between.

The Importance of Scripture Memorization

The Importance of Scripture Memorization

One of the things that many churches seem to have lost in today’s culture is the discipline of Scripture Memory. Growing up, Scripture memory was a huge emphasis at our church through programs like AWANA. I remember being on the Bible Quiz team for our church competing against other churches. I remember those verses and definitions that I learned decades ago and I am thankful for it.

But is there any indication from Scripture that memorizing God’s Word is important? The answer is an overwhelming yes!

We see verses like Psalm 119:11, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart that I might not sin against thee.” (KJV) While this verse is not a command, it is a clear principle. Hiding God’s Word in our hearts gives us the tools we need to resist temptation.

Jesus was the perfect model of this in the New Testament when He went under temptation by Satan in the wilderness. This passage is found in Matthew 4:1-11. Jesus goes into the wilderness and is tempted three times by Satan.

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New York Extends Abortion Rights

New York Extends Abortion Rights

The state of New York has delivered a blow to pro-life advocates. New legislation passed last week allows anyone, whether a medical professional or not, to perform an abortion without any criminal consequence.

On the surface, this may not seem significant or a major departure from current abortion law, but it is very different.

This new law removes homicide definitions for unborn persons. In other words, if a pregnant woman is attacked and her baby dies as a result, the attacker cannot be charged with homicide of that unborn child.

This is a despicable move by the state of New York. All life is precious whether born or unborn. All are made in the image of God. David told is in Psalms that God knew us in our Mother’s womb.

It is my prayer that one day Roe V. Wade, which was a serious court overreach, is overturned. Until then, and even after, we need to continue to pray for our leaders that they will make God-honoring decisions. We need to let our voices be heard and not be silent on these issues.

Time To Build The Kingdom?

Time To Build The Kingdom?

In Haggai’s first chapter we see a rebuke of the people of Israel for allowing the Temple to lay in ruin after their return from exile. On the surface, this seems reasonable, the Temple had been destroyed while the Jews were exiled out of the land and they did not immediately rebuild when the returned. However, they saw fit to rebuild their houses with possible lavishness.

God recognized that Israel would not rebuild the Temple without prompting. It was simply not a priority for them. They were too busy with their own endeavors to bother themselves with the Lord’s house.

There are many parallels with Israel and the Church today, particularly in America. How many times is there something that God has told us to do but we put it off? We put it off out of fear or perhaps inconvenience. We have other pursuits. Jobs, hobbies, family, the list goes on and on. Meanwhile, the Kingdom of God is waiting. It is waiting to be staffed with the people of God. It is waiting for a generation to rise up and do the Lord’s work.

This does not mean that we have to give up everything and go into full time ministry. But there is something for everyone in the church to do. What are your gifts and talents? What can you do for God’s glory in His house?

It is time to build the Kingdom!