The World’s Agenda

I have mentioned that I have been teaching a course on world religions to a youth group and tonight we finish up with a session on Secular Humanism. Now, I know at first you may not think that Secular Humanism is a religion, but it most definitely is without any doubt. After all, it is a system of belief that tries to make sense of the world around us and our purpose in it. That, by very definition, is a religion.

As I was preparing for the class tonight it amazes me to think about just how far the Secular Humanist worldview has penetrated our culture and society. It is in everything. It is in the television programs that we watch. It is in our politics. It is in our schools, especially in our schools. It is in our courts.

We see Secular Humanism rear its head each day this week as we watch the protests demanding the right to kill and murder unborn babies. We saw it a few weeks ago as a football coach has to fight for his right to pray. Secular Humanism is a real and present danger.

And this is the agenda of the world. Secular Humanism puts forth propaganda. It lies about creation. It lies about science. It lies about history. It lies about Christianity. Why? Because they want to destroy God and anything that has to do with God. They cannot and will not rest until God has been completely eradicated from society. That is what their belief necessitates.

And isn’t this exactly what the power of this world wants? Isn’t that his goal?

But praise be to God we know that he does not win. It may look like he is winning, but we know he suffers ultimate loss. We need to keep preaching the truth, keep our heads on the Savior, and know that this too will pass.

Rejoice in the Lord

At the beginning of Philippians chapter three, Paul tells the church to rejoice in the Lord. Now, this doesn’t seem extraordinary because we know we are to rejoice in the Lord. That is a theme we see over and over in Scripture. But what is extraordinary about this instance is what we have seen discussed in the first two chapters of the letter.

In chapter one, Paul talks about his personal suffering for the Gospel. He does not know whether he is going to live or die. But whichever way it is, he is going to count it as gain and rejoice. And in chapter two, he talks about the suffering of Christ on the cross for the glory of God and for our salvation. He further discusses the trials that have awaited him and also Christ’s servant, Epaphroditus, and how he almost died in the service of Christ.

And after all of this, Paul says to rejoice in the Lord. Why? Because the Gospel has advanced, Christ is exalted, and God is glorified. That is the key, the advancement of the Gospel, the exaltation of Jesus Christ and the glory of God. That is what our lives are to be all about. That is to be the focus.

After all, Romans 11:36 says:

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (ESV)

Everything in this life is to be for Christ. For God. For His Kingdom and for His purposes. We are not our own. We are merely servants, vessels to be used for His glory. Let us not forget what our role is and to spend today and each day rejoicing in the Lord.

John Calvin and The Servetus Affair

One thing that often comes up in debates about Calvinism is the execution of Michael Servetus in 1553. Those opposed to Calvinism try to make Calvin out to be a murderer of Servetus and therefore someone that should not be listened to in the realm of theology. But there are a few problems with this argument.

The first problem with this argument is that Calvinists follow Scripture, not John Calvin. Even without Calvin, the doctrines that we hold to still apply because they are found in Scripture. They were not invented by John Calvin, they were not invented by Augustine of Hippo either. They are found in every book of Scripture.

The second problem with trying to say that the Servetus affair should dismiss Calvin is that it means there are other authors this principle would apply to as well. Should we dismiss all of Paul’s writings for his persecution of the church? Should we dismiss the Psalms of David because of his sin with Bathsheba and murder of Uriah? I do not think you will find one person who uses the Servetus affair as an argument that would agree to dismissing those authors as well. This is an inconsistency in their philosophy.

The third and final problem that will be discussed about the Servetus affair is that the argument has no basis in historical accuracy. Unfortunately, for those who use this argument, facts matter. So what are the facts? Did John Calvin murder Michael Servetus? Did he order his execution? Did he light the flames? The answer to all of these questions is no, he did not. So what did happen?

Michael Servetus was a man who denied the doctrine of the Trinity. He was wanted on charges of heresy by both the Roman Catholic Church and Protestants alike. Unlike today, heresy in the 16th Century carried the penalty of death. He had been warned by John Calvin not to come to Geneva but Servetus ignored the warning and came anyway under a disguise. However, he was found out and tried as a heretic.

John Calvin did supply the evidence against Servetus in the trial. However, he was not the one that tried Servetus, nor did he sentence Servetus to death. In fact, after Servetus was sentenced to death, Calvin lobbied to have his execution be that of beheading rather than burning at the stake so that it would be quicker with less suffering.

Now, did Calvin believe Servetus should be executed? Yes. But we need to remember the time period in which Calvin lived. It was not John Calvin who held this view and to somehow make him the villain in all of this in order to discredit other beliefs that he held is absurd.

When someone uses the Servetus Affair in arguments against Calvinism, it means they have run out of arguments and are not able to focus on the actual theology and the doctrines that Calvinists hold to in the light of Scripture.

Should Men Weigh In On Abortion?

It is often claimed by abortion activists that when a man gets involved in the debate he is inserting himself into something that is none of his business. But is that really true? Of course not. Abortion is not a matter of a woman’s right to choose. Yes, that is what they claim. That is what the courts have said in the past. That is the talking point. But it is not true.

Abortion is about a human being and the ending of its life. Period. Abortion is the pre-meditated killing of a human child while it is still in the womb. A few key words, human, child, intentional, killing. That equates murder. Period.

No, abortion is not about a woman deciding what to do with her body. It is about a woman deciding to kill a child that is NOT a part of her body.

But what is this really about? This is really about a godless people who want to do whatever they want without consequences. This is about a people who think they are bigger than god and want to play god. It is about sin. Abortion is sin. Abortion is murder.

The Supreme Court appears to be poised to overturn Roe v. Wade. Good. But it is not enough. The people of the United States need to turn to God. The church needs to speak up and preach the Gospel. We need a change.

Are Theological Debates Useful To The Church?

I was recently in a conversation where it was argued that theological debates, particularly Calvinism vs. Arminianism, are not useful to the church and belong only in the realm of academia. As I pondered this statement I wondered if there is any truth to it? Do some theological conversations only belong in a classroom or academic journal? Are there areas of theology that should not be discussed or debated within the church? My answer to this question is no. No, we should not reserve certain theological topics for academia. But why?

I am sure that the sentiment of leaving things to academia is the idea that they hurt evangelism or the mission of the church. But what exactly is the mission of the church, within the church? For the purpose of this article I am talking about the church worship, service, meetings. I am no referring to the body and what our mandate from Christ is in going into all the world.

The mission of the church is to disciple the body of the church. To train, to educate, to worship God, to glorify God, to learn more about God. That is the purpose of the meeting of the church. To encourage, to lift up, to strengthen. The purpose of the meeting of the church is not evangelism. The church service is not for the unsaved. Now, do not get me wrong on this, I am not saying the unsaved should not be welcome in a church service. They should. And I pray that they are converted as well. But what I am saying is that our services should not be designed with the unsaved in mind. The purpose of the services of the church are for the believers.

So back to the question of theological debates. I not only believe that they are proper for the church, they are necessary. We should all be wrestling with Scripture. We should all be striving to know God better in all aspects. We cannot effectively do that if there are areas of theology that we shy away from because they are uncomfortable or can lead to heated opinions. So have the discussions, have the debates, but make sure that we are doing things in love, something I do not always follow.

To Live Is Christ

I have been studying the book of Philippians for a few weeks now and something in Chapter One stood out to me like it has not before in the past. Paul is writing that famous verse, “to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21) I’ve heard that verse all my life, I have always known what it meant, but did I truly know what it means? Well now I do.

The following verses are so beautiful as Paul shows his great love for the church and the people of God. He says that he is hard pressed between the choices of going to heaven and seeing the savior, or to continue the work of the Lord here on earth. What a statement!

So often we get caught up in our yearning to see the savior that I think we honestly forget why he has us here in the first place. There is work to be done. We should be glad that we are here to continually serve others for Christ.

Why The Global Methodist Church Is Doomed Before It Starts

It was recently announced that the “traditional” answer to the United Methodist Church, the Global Methodist Church, will be officially starting in May of this year. They claim that they are fundamentally different and are fixing the errors of the UMC. But is that really true? I do not believe so.

The core problems of the United Methodist Church are not one of structure, though that is certainly a problem, nor are they the human sexuality issues of the culture today. The core problem of the United Methodist Church is that they do not stand on Scripture alone. It appears that this will also be the case in the Global Methodist Church which means that it is doomed to fail before it begins.

For example, the Global Methodist Church will still have women clergy despite this being prohibited by Scripture (Titus 1:5-9; 1 Timothy 3:1-7). This again is going on the tradition of Methodism, and not Scripture. So, if the Global Methodist Church is willing to compromise Scripture in favor of tradition, then how are they any different than the UMC? How will they not be in the same boat the UMC is today in five, ten, or fifteen years? I believe the answer is they will be in that exact same position.

Another problem I see is with Salvation. They literally list on their website the “Wesleyan Way of Salvation.” Friends, there is only one way of Salvation, and it should have no man’s name attached to it.

They also put extra emphasis on John Wesley, just as Methodism has done for decades. The fact that a denomination is so centered on one man, who is not named Jesus Christ, is troubling. Now, I am not saying that they do not follow Jesus. But he is not the sole focus. You can say that he is all that you want, but in actual practice, that is not true. Until the Global Methodist Church abandons everything but Scripture, they will continue to fall into error.

I may be missing something, and I’m sure people will be ready to tell me what I am missing (and that is ok!), but it seems to me that the GMC is just a rebranding of the UMC with the exception of the LGBT push and some changes to property.

Mary A Perpetual Virgin?

One of the many false doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church is that Mary remained a virgin even after the birth or Christ. Where does this teaching come from and is there any merit to it at all?

The doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity first shows up in the early fourth century. It is curious that such a distinction would not be made prior to this. This is especially perplexing because the New Testament clearly refers to Jesus having siblings.

Now I want to make a distinction, we are not denying the virgin birth of Christ. That is clearly Scriptural (Luke 1:34). The birth of Christ was a miraculous event. What is in question here is the idea that Mary continued to be a virgin the rest of her life. So let’s look at the evidence.

The first piece of evidence is the telling of Joseph’s perspective in Matthew chapter one. It tells us in verse 25 that Joseph did not know Mary, meaning sexual intimacy, until after the birth of Christ. There would be no reason to make this statement if Mary were a perpetual virgin.

The second piece of evidence is, as stated earlier, the Bible states that Jesus had siblings (Matt. 13:55; Mark3:31, 33; John 2:12; 7:3, 5, 10; Acts 1:14; 1 Cor. 9:5; Gal. 1:19). The Catholic Church would state that these would not be blood brothers, they would be cousins or close friends, but there is nothing within the context of the text to actually suggest this explanation.

In short, there is no evidence to suggest, and no reason to believe, that Mary remained a virgin after the birth of Christ. The evidence is to the contrary. This is another way in which the Roman Catholic Church turns Mary into a sort of god and an idol as they do with declaring that she was sinless her entire life.

Islam and the Gospel

I have started teaching a series on world religions to a group of teens at church and last night we focused on Islam. As I was preparing for the study I could not help but think of the horrors of 9/11 and what we have seen in the last decade with ISIS and other terror groups. And, of course, there is always the threat of what is Iran going to do with their push for nuclear weapons?

It prompted me to think about what we should do? How can we best reach Muslims for the kingdom?

I think that far too often we try to come up with creative ways to evangelize. We think of strategies, we think of programs, we think of what might be useful. What can we do to reach these people? Where should we reach them? What should we say, or better yet, what should we not say?

When we ask all of these questions, I believe it hinders our mission. It holds us back. The Bible does not instruct us to come up with all of these programs and ideas. What does the bible actually say? It says to GO. It says to teach what we have been taught. (Matthew 28:18-19)

In Scripture, we do not see them coming up with strategies, programs, materials, etc. No, we see them going out and preaching the untainted Gospel of Jesus Christ. That is what we should do. That is our calling. The Gospel is enough. I firmly believe that. We don’t need to dress it up, it will cut like a two-edged sword just as it is (Hebrews 4:12).

So let’s go. Get out of the planning rooms. Get out of the meetings. Just go and preach the Gospel!

Book Review: 40 Questions About Arminianism

UPDATE: After some discussion and review, I have re-read the book and have a new review with a much different outlook. Please know that below is my original review and no longer my stance on the book. My new review is available at this link.

The soteriological battles of Arminianism versus Calvinism have been raging since the 16th Century. In reality, they have been going longer than that, but the two positions seem to focus on John Calvin and Jacob Arminius. J. Matthew Pinson’s new book seeks to answer 40 Questions About Arminianism.

For a Calvinist, such as myself, I was excited to read a book that claims to answer questions about Arminianism. I was hoping to find something new that I did not know and to find solid explanations for the position of the opposing theological viewpoint. If that is what you are seeking, this book is not for you.

The back cover of the book claims that, “J. Matthew Pinson combines solid historical research with biblical and doctrinal position to address the following questions and more…” But this is hardly the case. Instead, the book is just a hit piece on caricatures of Calvinism. Many things are taken out of context and twisted in order to prop up Pinson’s points. Yes, there are some speckling of Arminian positions in the book, but just as much of the book focuses on Calvinism as it does Arminianism.

But the idea that the book speaks with historical and doctrinal precision is laughable at best. No greater example of this can be seen than on page 120 of the paperback edition. Pinson writes, “Consistent Calvinists get so far from the consensus of the church catholic on this doctrine that many Calvinists do not hold to limited atonement.” This is a quotation that is made as a statement of fact. But Pinson writes in the footnote, “While I have no hard data on this…” Anyone who makes a statement of fact and then relates in a footnote that there is no evidence for the statement of fact does not deserve to be taken seriously in the arena in which they debate.

Many other Scripture references are taken out of context in order to prove the Arminian viewpoint and downplay Calvinism’s doctrinal accuracy. One clear example of this is on his pointing to John 12:32 to say that Christ will draw all mean, meaning individuals, to himself. But a clear look at the context of this passage shows that he is referring to people groups, Jew and Gentile, and not individuals.

As stated before, if you are looking for a book that explains Arminian theology and letting that stand on its own, this is not a book for you. I do not recommend this resource to any diligent student of the Word for reasons put forth and generously give this book one out of five stars.

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