I DON’T WANT MY CHURCH ‘SYNGERGIZED.’ by Jim Fletcher

There are two schools of thought concerning Christian denominational structure.

One is that denominational boundaries are necessary in order to ensure solid orthodoxy. In other words, outside influences can bring in the biblical concept of leaven, thus eventually spoiling the whole batch.

The other view is that we can all learn from each other, and that we can maintain doctrinal purity even when considering “non-essentials.”

Until recent years – and one can postulate that the ’90s phenomenon Promise Keepers was the catalyst for “walls coming down” – Christian denominations and their leaders rigidly clung to denominational boundaries. In particular, the Southern Baptist Convention staunchly opposed any sort of collaboration with Catholics, the mainline and even other Protestant denominations. Further, “associations” like Calvary Chapel maintained certain “distinctives” that prevented close cooperation with more centrist-oriented individuals and ministries.

That wall-building mentality is passing from the scene. Instead we see increasing numbers of evangelical leaders favorably quote Henri Nouwen, Thomas Merton, TED presenters, or hold hands with Word-of-Faith juggernauts like T.D. Jakes.

Inconceivable!

So it was stunning to the denominational purists more common not that long ago to see recently the participants of yet another church leadership conference (the religious landscape is flooded with them), “Synergize 4.” The conference speaker lineup features such SBC heavyweights as Ed Stetzer, Johnny Hunt and Fred Luter; along with Assemblies of God General Superintendent George O. Wood; Mark Williams of Church of God International; Jo Anne Lyon, General Superintendent of the Wesleyan Church; Stan Toler, General Superintendent of the Church of the Nazarene; and many others, including Leonard Sweet.

Leonard Sweet?

That’s right. A gathering of visible evangelical leaders is not only tearing down those walls of denominational Jericho; they are also hobnobbing with folks who have New Age foundations.

Of course, this would be denied – vigorously – yet the proof is in the leavened pudding. As author Warren Smith outlines quite convincingly in “A Wonderful Deception,” Sweet is a leading change agent operating within evangelicalism. One would think the organizers and participants of “Synergize 4″ would have known that.

A quick aside: The tagline for “Synergize 4″ is “Where Pastors and Leaders Meet to Network With the Greatest Christian Thinkers in the World!” Boy, that’s a real snorter. I’m holding my sides. There are more great Christian thinkers in Antelope County, Neb., than at “Synergize 4,” I can assure you.

Sweet, the E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism at Drew University (and a visiting professor at George Fox University) is widely accepted within the Church Growth movement. Yet there is cause for concern.

As Smith writes: “Leonard Sweet, though professing to be an Evangelical Christian, has embraced many influential New Age figures to the point of absorbing the essence of their teachings into his quantum spirituality.”

Sweet’s book, “Quantum Spirituality,” is a good place to start as one deciphers what he is about.

Hear Smith again: “In the ‘Acknowledgments’ section of ‘Quantum Spirituality,’ Sweet expresses his deep gratitude and admiration to various ‘New Light leaders’ that he openly praises as ‘the most creative religious leaders in America today.’ Included in this group are a number of New Age leaders I am very familiar with [Smith is a former member of the New Age movement] – most particularly Willis Harman, Matthew Fox, and M. Scott Peck.”

Harman, for example, is listed in the classic New Age book, “The Aquarian Conspiracy,” as one of the movement’s key leaders. Sweet considers Harman a “personal role model” and one of his “heroes.” This is but the beginning of the case against Sweet as a true evangelical.

What would the “Synergize 4″ speakers and organizers think about this – that is, if one of the little people could get to them and explain what they are part of? This is strictly my opinion, but one based on conversations with a few of the speakers over the years: You would very politely be told to drop dead.

You see, the newly phrased “Evangelical Industrial Complex,” very much in keeping with the ideology behind it – that is, Purpose-Driven, Church Growth consensus-building – does not allow “fundies” to rain on the parade. If someone points out, for example, that this whole vast complex does not, by and large, really emphasize the gospel (with its call to confront sin and repent, in order to be truly regenerated), well, said whistle-blower is run over by the infamous bus driven by Mark Driscoll and his mentors like Rick Warren, Andy Stanley and Leonard Sweet.

The speed with which the traditional American church is being transformed into a global spirituality entity is astonishing. For example, the “Synergize 4″ conference not only knocks down denominational walls, it now brings the camel of New Age spirituality into the tent.

Here’s how I think a conversation between a now-alerted (and hopefully concerned) participant in “Synergize 4″ and Rick Warren might go:

Concerned Guy: Rick, what is this about Leonard Sweet? I thought he was mainstream evangelical?

Rick Warren: He is, friend. He is. Listen: The twits that I am forced to unfollow on Twitter, those old-school fundamentalists … they just have fear. It’s just fear. It’s understandable; they are seeing their old power structures crumble and we know that can be traumatic. But I assure you that Leonard is helping lead us into a new frontier. Don’t worry, brother.

Problem solved. Rick explains it away. Which is a bit like a parasitic government claiming that it actually helps the citizens that elected it.

As has been written about elsewhere, the Leadership Network was one of the catalysts in the early days of transforming Evangelicalism in America. The goal was to undermine and finally destroy the last vestiges of biblical thought, Sola Scriptura. It is being replaced with the ideas of men.

Take the example of Andy Stanley. The Church Growth guru elegantly displays his contempt for the old ways by reinventing what the church should be about: “The foundation of our faith is not the Scripture. The foundation of our faith is not the infallibility of the Bible. … The Scripture is simply a collection of ancient documents that tells us that (Jesus) story.”

Although Stanley isn’t slated to speak at “Synergize 4,” he is “in the club” and his views are representative of the current evangelical leadership in America.

One of the hallmarks of this Evangelical Industrial Complex is a strange tendency to view the world from a center-left perspective. In other words, why would Christian leaders want to sound like Chris Matthews?

Witness a recent comment from LifeWay’s Ed Stetzer: “Everybody wants diversity, but many don’t want to be around people who are different.”

Really? “Many”? Who are these “many”? And how does Stetzer know?

The answer of course is that he doesn’t. It isn’t possible, even through the comically inexact science of polling, and Stetzer should know this. Perhaps he does. Yet he wants to leave the reader with the feeling that racism is a horrible problem in 2014 Evangelical America. It’s just another example of the inane things our evangelical leaders say, and expect us to lap-up unquestioningly.

How does Ed Stetzer know that “everybody” wants diversity? Maybe everybody does, and maybe everybody doesn’t. Or maybe some do. We can’t know.

What we can know is that in 2014 America, racism is nothing like it was a couple generations back. Are there reasons besides Bull Connor-type hate that keep some congregations less “diverse”? Could it be that a church in a tony suburb of Boston might have less blacks or Hispanics than, say, Nashville? Could that be it? Why does it have to be because too many fundies don’t like minorities?

But I digress. Trying to wrap one’s mind around the gains made by the Evangelical Industrial Complex tend to do that to those of us who give pause when we see mainstream evangelical leaders slumming with New Age icons.

Maybe the rest of us – the remnant rabble-rousers – should organize conferences and create a cottage-industry where biblical books, sermons and podcasts could be distributed for the edification of a world in a world of hurt.

Now that would be some real synergy.

Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2014/01/i-dont-think-i-want-my-church-synergized/#j6UKK6o28413AGqW.99

 

MORE GOOD NEWS FROM GOD FOR 2014 – PART II

THE HONOR OF THE FATHER!

Christmas has come and gone and now a New Year dawns!

If one listens to the news, reads current magazines, and especially what flows out of  Washington, D.C., you would begin to think is there any ‘good news’?  Real bad things are flows through out the land. Obamacare, no interest earned on one’s investments, terrorism, disease, death, economic collapse, unemployment, not to speak of natural disasters.

The bad news begins with individuals and spreads to entire nations!  A terrifying power fuels and pushes mankind to self-destruction.  That power is sin!  It produces selfishness, guilt, meaninglessness, and hopelessness.

Selfishness, is a fruit of sin,  which permeates the society, it is a venting of desires gone haywire and is all pervasive.  It is a consuming lust for anything and everything, which swallows up others in its slimy trail.  Self-satisfaction is controlling lives so much that it ruins business, marriage, love, government and anything it touches.  The over-whelming urges for gain, fame, popularity, power and money, creates a lack of love, giving and consideration of others.  It alienates people and nations. It brings war and terrorism.

From this selfishness, comes guilt.  That brings with it anxiety, fear, sleeplessness, psychological problems, illness and ulcers.  This guilt is a ‘warning’ sign from God in our consciousness that something is wrong, it is the ‘pain’ warning telling us we are going the wrong way.  And so, folks begin to try and find relief by going to alcohol, drugs, illicit sex, pornography, divorce, and even seek to push off the guilt upon others making it even worse.  Portraying their self as being the victim, they just continue in their misery index day after day with no relief.

All of this leads to a trap.  The trap and box of ‘meaninglessness’!  There seems to be no fulfillment in life.  What is life all about, is this all there is?  Questions such as that are formulated in the minds of people by the master of lies – Satan.

From this meaninglessness, comes hopelessness.  There is nothing to life and nothing hereafter. Just death and no hope of anything else.  Of course, folks try to joke about this item called death.  They mock it and try to mask it over with their jokes, but it only makes things worse.

Is there any good news?  How about this?  Paul the Apostle in Romans 1, stated that there is “….GOOD NEWS FROM GOD!”  The whole book is about that good news!  The Gospel (good news) is the theme of the Epistle.

Good news that sin is overcome and forgiven.  Good news that self can be healed and selfishness can be put down, producing humility and satisifaction in Christ.  Other good news is, guilt is eradicated because Jesus Christ our Lord forgives and pardons the sinner of the sin which produced the guilt.  Now there is meaning and hope for the soul! Joy comes and an abundant life with Christ unfolds to the soul. That is Good News!  It is from God to us!  It is good news Jesus Saves!

What is so sad, the father of lies tells the world this “good news” we preach is foolishness and the world pushes back and seeks to stamp it all out!  Their father doesn’t want them to hear about it, he doesn’t want them to listen, to be saved from the ‘bad news’!  He doesn’t want them to know about deliverance and being unshackled from their sin and poison fruit which brought all of the discomfort and trouble.

But God will not be stopped.  He will save those He died for and redeem them, freeing them from the wages of sin which is death and give them victories over the world, the flesh and the Devil.  In this way they can live a life here for the glory and honor of their Savior, with peace and joy.  Let’s go out and tell the Good News to all.  There is good new, good news and it is from God to us!  Amen

THE GOOD NEWS FROM GOD FOR 2014

FOR THE HONOR OF THE FATHER, THE SAVIOR AND THE SPIRIT!
This being the last day of 2013, let us remember as we go into 2014 we are ambassadors, apostles (not the office but the sent ones to witness) of Christ to this world system.  Let us not be entangled in this worlds affairs but be separated unto Christ, with a focus on Him and looking for that city which has foundations and whose builder and maker is God. May I recommend you read this year “Pilgrims Progress” writte…n by John Bunyan.  Get the modern day English version. It will help and bless you in your journey of faith!
Down through the centuries since Christ, the Church has always been blessed by those who dedicate their lives to its reformation, its purity, its purpose in this world.
Even in Biblical days the Bible shows us that Saul of Tarsus, a Pharisee, one who was separated to Judaism and the law, and very fundamentally religious, was not saved but lost outside of the faith.  Yet, Paul stated in Galatians 1:15, “But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by His marvelous grace.  Then it pleased Him to reveal His Son to me so that I would proclaim the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles.”
God had Paul’s name written in the book of life before the very foundation of the world, and in time, saved him and sent him out to preach Christ.  God is in the Reformation business all the time.  All of us need to recognize sanctification, which is an on-going process, is reformation.
Being continually in the process of being unshackled, delivered, conformed, enlightened to new truth from the word of God, etc., is a on-going process, which never stops!  We are always going forward in faith, as good soldiers in this spiritual battle and warfare, during our earthly life!  That is why Paul through the Spirit was given instructions to pass on to us in Ephesians 6, specific words which provide us with spiritual tools to fight the good fight of faith successfully.
Paul through the Holy Spirit, instructed a pastor named Timothy about the calling which both of them were involved in, as follows:
2 Timothy 2:10, “So I am willing to endure anything if it will bring salvation and eternal glory in Christ Jesus to those God has chosen.”  The servants of Christ would do well to read and heed the words of God from Paul to Timothy in both of the epistles written to Timothy.  Words which are so appropriate for this generations Churches, as we serve Him in our country.
So, may the Lord be with your spirit, and may His grace be with all of you during this new year of 2014. Grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ!   Selah! Amen!

 

DON’T QUESTION THE PASTOR – HE IS FAMOUS! – by Jim Fletcher

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My grandparents’ pastor was a simple guy: Simple home, simple old van, simple garden, simple church building, complete with wooden pews. Well actually, the church building for the first 25 years of ministry was a wooden structure, built in Iowa and hauled – in sections – to the South. It had a pot-bellied stove and cement floor. The new building wasn’t much fancier.

Bro. Ronald Shoesmith didn’t have a book contract or a television ministry. The only jet he’d ever seen flew high overhead. He was a simple gospel preacher, and when he died in 1995, after 53 years of ministry in a rural area, grown men stood and cried, recounting how the Shoesmiths had picked them up for Sunday school, rain or shine.  So it is that I lament the current state of the celebrity preacher in 2013 America.

The hallmark of the modern celebrity preacher is something awfully close to narcissism. They don’t haul their own water. No utilitarian facilities for them. That’s old school, man.

And the flat-out abuses of power that have cropped up only recently are like something out of a crime novel. Seattle Pastor Mark Driscoll was recently outed as a plagiarist by radio show host Janet Mefferd and, incredibly, after several days of a relentless PR machine in action, Driscoll – who never said one word publicly after the infamous radio interview – pulled an apology from Mefferd, who also deleted the clear evidence of his plagiarism, from her website.

This is the same Mark Driscoll, humble shepherd, who infamously advocates running over “bodies” with the “bus” of the vision-casting celebrity preacher when dissenters question the vision and implementation of said vision.

He also referred to discernment ministry folks as “extremist.”

Not a peep from national evangelical leadership.

When Rick Warren tweets that a person’s character is measured by how he or she treats others, then hours later urges followers to un-follow “negative twits,” one is left wondering: Where is the outrage? Where is the accountability?

The modern celebrity preacher’s ministry is marked by privilege, perks, protection from scrutiny and hubris. No one in a position of authority says a word.

And the fawning!

The adulation, backslapping and cross promotion is breathtaking. Steven Furtick provides canned endorsements for his friends’ books, and they in turn invite him to speak at top conferences, et cetera. The marketing of the modern American pastor, something aggressively endorsed by men like Andy Stanley, is unlike anything we’ve ever seen. Many of them spend so much time advancing their own personal brands – on church time – it’s amazing members put up with it.

And each celebrity pastor has another’s back.………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Interestingly, in an eerie-though-unintentional nod to Galatians 1:10 – “For I am now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” – Piers Morgan told Warren that their meeting was “the most inspiring interview I’ve ever done.” This from the guy who loves to shove his leftist views down the throats of Americans.

Ed Stetzer, who is somewhat of a key guy in the advancement of celebrity pastors in America, through his position as president of LifeWay Research, also tweeted a fawning ode to the Warrens: “Groups of people watched @RickWarren and @KayWarren1 at the two airports I flew through. Thankful for the #WarrensOnCNN.”

After the Warrens’ son took his own life last spring, several evangelical superstars, including Driscoll and Beth Moore, took to the blogosphere with semi-vicious warnings to discernment folks not to touch Warren. In other words, the tragedy of his son’s death provided cover for Warren and his purpose-driven methods.

No one in leadership seemed to think there was anything wrong with Driscoll’s and Moore’s warnings to “critics.”

Look, friends certainly have the right to support friends. But the culture of celebrity pastor is proving to be a danger to the church in one important area: the agenda.

Most will tell you that the “agenda” is about the gospel. In reality, it is about advancing the personal agendas/vision-casting of the celebrity pastor.

Plainly said, the monolithic big ministry culture is controlling the narrative in America. Mefferd’s fate, along with that of other whistleblowers, proves that the Christian media are in large part identical to that of the secular media: intent on crushing dissent and smearing opponents.

If you are on the celebrity bus to play ball, you advance to some degree through the system. You can play in that world. But if you question the vision-casting, the bus rolls over you.

One has only to listen to the hundreds or thousands of stories of long-time church members who have raised questions about purpose-driven methodologies – only to be shown the door – to know that something is very wrong with the top American evangelical leadership.

The leadership can push Muslim interfaith dialogue, a softening of views of critical social issues, tithing on steroids … and nobody challenges them.

When I say nobody challenges them, I mean that nobody publicly rebukes Warren or Driscoll or their friends when they marginalize and disparage people they don’t appear to like. The cult of celebrity preacher won’t allow it.

One can watch this train wreck proceeding apace every day: Evangelical leaders racing to the White House for a photo op with Obama; writers like Jonathan Merritt pushing center-left views; conferences hosting leftist speakers … all in the name of vision-casting and “leadership.”

Remember when Obama said that in five days, he’d fundamentally transform America? Rick Warren could have said the same thing in the early ’80s, when he began to be mentored by the likes of Peter Drucker – except the transformation would be the American church.

No, the role of the American pastor is changing. It is being fundamentally transformed into an entity that pushes leftist thought and values.

Think I’m crazy? Then remember this in the near future when you see what’s happening with your own eyes. Very soon, America’s top evangelical leadership will support and endorse views that would have been alien to men like Ronald Shoesmith.

But if you then want to sound the alarm, be sure and count the cost. You just might end up with tire marks on your back.

Charles Spurgeon and the Doctrines of God’s Sovereign Grace

Charles Spurgeon lived in England from 1834 to 1892.  He passed into the heavenly kingdom to be with Jesus His Lord after some 58 years. 

     Charles was perhaps one of the best preachers who ever lived and preached since the Apostle Paul, according to many.  He was called the ‘Prince of Preachers’!  He pastored the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London and was a Baptist.  God held people through the Holy Spirit, spellbound each week as he preached and multitudes were born again finding Christ as their Savior.

     He was a contemporary of George Mueller (the man of faith who had homes for Orphans and was noted for his faith in regards to those ministries). 

     Today, you will find almost every evangelical body of believers, both ministers and members of local Churches, along with periodicals still publishing and promoting the works of Charles Spurgeon, because he was so dedicated to Christ and the word of God.  Ironically, those who promote him, many times do not really believe in the Gospel he preached or they are ignorant of what the man preached and believed.

     Notice what Charles Spurgeon had to say about what he considered the gospel really to be and consist of;        “I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what is nowadays called Calvinism.  It is a ‘nickname’ to call it Calvinism;  Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else.  I do not believe we can preach the Gospel….unless we preach the sovereignty of God in His dispensation of grace;  nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption (limited atonement) of His elect and chosen people which Christ worked out upon the Cross; nor can I comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called.” – (John Piper – Five Points Towards A Deeper Experience of God’s Grace) pgs. 90-91.

      He also said, “Born, as all of us are by nature, an Arminian, I still believed the old things I had heard continually from the pulpit, and did not see the grace of God.  When I was coming to Christ, I thought I was doing it all myself, and though I sought the Lord earnestly, I had no idea the Lord was seeking me……..I can recall the very day and hour when first I received those truths in my soul—–when they were, as John Bunyan (Pilgrims Progress fame) says, burnt into my heart as with a hot iron….” – pg 91.

      Note the rest of his story;  “One week-night, when I was sitting in the house of God, I was not thinking much about the preachers’ sermon, for I did not believe it.  The thought struck me, “How did you come to be a Christian?”  I sought the Lord.  “But how did you come to see the Lord?”  The truth flashed across my mind in a moment—-I should not have sought Him unless there had been some previous influence in my mind to make me seek Him.  I prayed, thought I, but then I asked myself, How came I to pray?  I was induced to pray by reading the Scriptures.  How came I to read the Scriptures?  I did read them, but what led me to do so?  Then, in a moment, I saw that God was at the bottom of it all, and that He was the Author of my faith, and so the whole doctrine of grace opened up to me, and from that doctrine I have not departed to this day, and I desire to make this my constant confession, “I ascribe my change totally to God.” 

      He also said, “Aminianism is thus guilty of confusing doctrines and of acting as an obstruction to a clear and lucid grasp of the Scripture; because it misstates or ignores the eternal purpose of God, it dislocates the meaning of the whole plan of redemption.  Indeed confusion is inevitable apart from this foundational truth of election.” pg. 91

     So may we remember these great scriptural truths expressed by the Church fathers and into the days of the great Reformation even to this very hour; Sola Gratia (Saved by Grace Alone); Sola Fide (Through faith alone); Solus Christus (In Christ alone); Sola Scriptura (According to Scripture alone);  and Soli Deo Gloria (For the Glory of God Alone)!  Amen!

Jonathan Edwards and the Doctrines of God’s Sovereign Grace

Perhaps one the greatest minds God created and allowed to live in the United States during its early history, was a man named Jonathan Edwards.  He lived from 1703 to 1758.  You may remember hearing or reading a sermon of his in public school settings when you studied literature.  The sermon was entitled, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.”

    He was a powerful preacher and teacher, pastored a Church, did mission work and even was the head of a great University during his time. God used him also in the great awakening that took place in America during his ministry.       He loved the word of God and its truths and he loved the doctrines of God’s sovereign grace.  When he was 26 years of age note what he stated about how he loved the sovereignty of God;

    ” There has been a wonderful alteration in my mind, in respect to the doctrine of God’s sovereignty, from that day to this….God’s absolute sovereignty…is what my mind seems to rest assured of, as much as of any thing that I see with my eyes. …….The doctrine has very often appeared exceeding pleasant, bright, and sweet.  Absolute sovereignty is what I love to ascribe to God….God’s sovereignty has ever appeared to me, a great part of His glory.  It has often been my delight to approach God, and admire Him as a sovereign God.” (John Piper – pg. 87, Five Points

St. Augustine and the Doctrines of Grace

During this time of the year, and really always, we followers of Jesus Christ our Lord, are remembering that Blessed, Glorious Day of the Incarnation of Christ! That is our celebration, a day of joy, happiness, and praise.

     This was the great display of God’s sovereign grace to His people.  Some thousand years before the great Reformation, St. Augustine (354-430AD), rejoiced greatly about this.  He was converted by the irresistible grace of God after leading a carnal life of unbelief and debauchery. 

      Here are some words of a man who loved the Gospel truth of irresistible grace.  And the reason he would say this is he recognized he was totally undone without it.  He wrote to Vitalis, in his “Epistle ccxvii”, the following:

      “If, as I prefer to think in your case, you agree with us in supposing that we are doing our duty in praying to God, as our custom is, for them that refuse to believe, that they may be willing to believe and for those who resist and oppose His law and doctrine, that they may believe and follow it.  If you agree with us in thinking that we are doing our duty in giving thanks to God, as is our custom, for such people when they have been converted….then you are surely bound to admit that they wills of men are preveniently (grace worked or given by God beforehand) moved by the grace of God, and that it is God who makes them to will the good which they refused; for it is God whom we ask so to do, and we know that it is meet and right to give thanks to Him for so doing.”

      John Piper said of Augustine, “the truth of irresistible grace was the foundation of his prayers for the conversion of the lost and of his thanks to God when they were converted.” 

      I will be posting several more testimonies of greatly used men of God on this subject for the next week or so.  I trust this helps one see how the Church fathers upheld the teachings which are being undermined today by many who move away from the scriptures on these matters relating to the salvation of man.

CHRISTMAS AND THE GRACE OF GOD

During this time of the year, and really always, we followers of Jesus Christ our Lord, are remembering that Blessed, Glorious Day of the Incarnation of Christ! That is our celebration, a day of joy, happiness, and praise.

     This was the great display of God’s sovereign grace to His people.  Some thousand years before the great Reformation, St. Augustine (354-430AD), rejoiced greatly about this.  He was converted by the irresistible grace of God after leading a carnal life of unbelief and debauchery. 

      Here are some words of a man who loved the Gospel truth of irresistible grace.  And the reason he would say this is he recognized he was totally undone without it.  He wrote to Vitalis, in his “Epistle ccxvii”, the following:

      “If, as I prefer to think in your case, you agree with us in supposing that we are doing our duty in praying to God, as our custom is, for them that refuse to believe, that they may be willing to believe and for those who resist and oppose His law and doctrine, that they may believe and follow it.  If you agree with us in thinking that we are doing our duty in giving thanks to God, as is our custom, for such people when they have been converted….then you are surely bound to admit that they wills of men are preveniently (grace worked or given by God beforehand) moved by the grace of God, and that it is God who makes them to will the good which they refused; for it is God whom we ask so to do, and we know that it is meet and right to give thanks to Him for so doing.”

      John Piper said of Augustine, “the truth of irresistible grace was the foundation of his prayers for the conversion of the lost and of his thanks to God when they were converted.” 

      I will be posting several more testimonies of greatly used men of God on this subject for the next week or so.  I trust this helps one see how the Church fathers upheld the teachings which are being undermined today by many who move away from the scriptures on these matters relating to the salvation of man.

POISON IN THE POT!

Every generation of Christians should realize there is false, unscriptural, propagators of religious thought going on all the time.  Men and women who engage in heresies and polluted messages, using the name Christian and even our Lord’s name!

     As I thought of this situation, I was reminded of Elijah in 2 Kings 4, in the Old Testament, when during a session at his school of prophets, they had a meal prepared by one of the prophets who had picked poison herbs and wild gourds, using that to make a pot of stew.  Thankfully, Elijah and the others recognized it and God used Elijah to perform a miracle making the stew edible and healthy for all of them.

    But, there was ‘poison in the pot’!

    Today, there is a huge amount of ‘poison in the pot’ being poured out from pulpits, radio, television, internet and printed page across our nation.  A lot of it can be actually found in our bookstore shelves and unaware Christians will purchase the material possibly get filled with poison and pollution quickly.

     Some poison, which is prevalent today, centers around our sanctification.  Philippians 2:12 reads, ‘….work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.  For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.’

     Several heresies spring from a misinterpretation of this verse in relation to Christians sanctification in our life.  Some are; antinomianism, legalism, activism and quietism.  Short meanings of these are as follows; antinomianism – leave God’s law on the table, don’t even consider it in your life; Legalism — adding rules and laws to God’s commands; activism – self-righteous works promoting a ‘I can do it’ all attitude, and quietism – doing nothing but sitting back and saying ‘let go and let God’ do it all and not get involved!

     However, Paul the Apostle says in Philippians, we are to ‘work, be active in our sanctification process and do so with fear and trembling.’  Sanctification is hard work and we are to be involved and not passive.  This is one place God allows and even commands our involvement.  We recognize that only God can grant real holy sanctification results, but we must be involved as a Christian in the process.  He said so!  We enter not in a cavalier manner or attitude, but rather, in a total attitude of ‘I can’t do it without the Holy Spirit and my God, but I engage in all of it with a total dependency upon our Lord!  We are not to be ‘at ease in Zion’! 

     There is no automatic ‘bullet’ from the Lord which makes us in our flesh totally and perfectly sanctified. It is a ongoing process for our entire life.  There is a battle, a hard work, a daily activity going on regarding sanctification.  So, let us enter into it with great hope, passion, and total trust in our God to work in us, bringing glory to His name, while we are in this world serving Him!  May God give us grace to be at this business of ‘killing and mortifying sin’, and if not it will be killing us!

     Jesus our Lord, I pray for each of us, that we will with great joy enter into your command to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, knowing it is YOU who works in us both to will and do of your good pleasure.  Forgive us for being complacent in this great labor and work.  May we enter that work with You as our great Savior and Sanctifier, recognizing how much it pleases You!  Amen!

A PLEA FOR DISCERNMENT AND UNITY IN THE FAITH!

In the last century we have observed a movement which has taken the scriptures and just about destroyed all of its cardinal doctrines.  To also see in this nation and perhaps around the world, an attitude now that pushes back against anyone who would challenge deviations and errors relating to the word of God and unbiblical practices is alarming. In fact, many would call it hate or unloving, etc.!

Yet, Christ and the Apostles instructed us all to do just that!  Many verses of scripture give us commandments to engage in defense of the Gospel and the word of God.  The Bereans even searched the scriptures to see if Paul’s message was true.  Examination of all issues relating to the Church and our life as Christians has to be examined by the scriptures and we each have that responsibility to make sure it is!

I grew up in a Pentecostal environment.  I have much experience and knowledge of the Charismatic/Pentecostal issues due to that background.  So I am not a “Johnny come lately” on the matter.

Today, we have a movement which has almost completely corrupted the Holy Spirits work, and the character and attributes of the God-head!  Some 500 Million Charismatics are supposed to exist in this world.   Even as in my situation,, you too may have loved ones, friends and other relatives in the movement.

Out of this 500 Million, about 120 Million are Roman Catholics.  In this camp, you not only have all the heretical problems about idolatry, the worship of Mary, and other very unscriptural issues, but they climb aboard the train of Charismatic instability also.  Then, you have about 25 Million of the 500 Million who endorse a Pentecostal movement which denies the Trinity!  Within the total movement, all endorse the Prosperity message, which teaches all Christians are to be rich and wealthy, along with we are never to be ill, and if we are we are not trusting Jesus.   I can categorically state all the above reflects a doctrinal and theological aberration of the truth and no true Christian will ever follow any of this, if they know the word of God and read the Holy Scriptures and believe them.  A person may be saved and get led astray, but the REAL Holy Spirit will move one out of all of this soon.  They just won’t stay in this melting pot of false doctrine!

Hebrews 2:4 reads, “God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.”

This verse clearly shows us that NOT ALL Christians had such Apostolic gifts, and it was not a norm down through history and into this very day.  Those were special signs, miracles and gifts to authenticate the message which was inspired by God, and of the no-longer existing office called an Apostle. There is no Apostolic succession as Roman Catholics teach.  Revelation and inspiration of scriptures being written, ended with the last Apostle who lived and we are bound to the scriptures for our rule of faith and practice. It is called Sola Scriptura by those who embrace the return to the “book” especially since the Reformation days.

To identify yourself to a group or a person who endorses the radical departures from sound doctrine, and engage in superstitious experiences which are absolutely unsound and unbiblical, is not where we should go!  And one does this if one departs from that which has been shown to be folly and heretical.  We don’t need to validate anything going on in the new wave today of charismatic folly, other than, to validate they are unbiblical and heretical and should not be condoned as a legitimate movement in the body of Christ, the Church of the living Lord!

It is very deceptive to identify oneself with the Reformed faith and use that label yoking it up with charismatic groups or ideas.  In other words,  the movements of this hour which endorse a polluted Gospel, a works oriented salvation and false impotent things called signs, wonders and miracles.   The Reformers would turn over in their graves if they heard their names associated with such false doctrine and theology.  Either we are Reformed or we are in bed with those who reject Biblical teachings.  There can’t be a fence-straddling on these issues!

The leadership within our current Reformed movement needs to realize not being stable on the teachings regarding charismatic issues and giving tacit approval of some thing’s openly, can create more problems than they realize.  Having pulpit sharing with charismatics, and those who are radical Armenians, who speak out against the doctrines of grace and the sovereignty of God is another matter creating much confusion to the saints.

None of that is helpful and I pray our fellow beloved leaders will recognize this soon. All of us have various differences and understandings on some minor issues, but when it comes to major doctrine and theology, we have to be very careful less we lead others astray or cause confusion in the body of Christ, but most of all pervert the word of God itself.

I think we find the very clear expression of this moment in history reflected in our Lord Jesus’ words in Matthew 7: 21-23.  Many will call him Lord, some will engage in casting out demons and all types of “strange fire”, but He will say He never knew them and He cast them out as false teachers and prophets.  Actually, stating I never knew you!!

I also would like to say Hindu’s, Buddhists, Mormons, Charismatics, Pentecostals, Roman Catholics, and even Agnostics and Atheists, can and do engage in good deeds to other human beings.  We cannot say a person is filled with the Holy Spirit and saved just because they do some good deeds to other people.  Christians who are the REAL followers of Jesus Christ the Lord, will do good deeds to others for the glory of God.  But God say’s even the PLOWING or the farming of the wicked (those who are lost whether religious or not) is a sinful act!  Why?  It is not done by the Holy Spirit through them and it is not done for the glory of God alone!  It is a selfish expression of a persons desire to be thought well of, and also perhaps being done to earn a favor from their concept of some God, or just doing things to help others or their own interests.

Not all that glitters is gold!  We live in a dangerous time and world, when it comes to matters relating to religion issues and the proper understanding of the scriptures.  Sola Scriptura, (scripture alone), is our logo and our basis for all belief and practice.  Not experience, not tradition, not family history, and not our friendships and personal fancies about anything!

Prayer and love toward those who are in error is our basis of approach toward all caught up in these matters.  Now is the time to pay careful attention to this, since it has become so pervasive and is creeping into the Biblical Churches which are faithful to the word of God.  The Church must be diligent and alert to many methods used to infiltrate it with false fire and false words which turn folks away from the Lord Jesus Christ and our Sovereign God!  May God be praised, glorified and honored in all we do, and may we do it all with an assurance the word of God has spoken – and we follow it whatever may come our way! Let us not be naïve and fall for everything things that are solely based on excitement and popularity wrapped in religious overtones and words which are stolen out of context from the Holy scriptures.  That is Satan’s tactics from the beginning with Eve in the garden of paradise.  Ephesians Chapter 6 is a good starting point for every day of our life in our journey of faith

Rachel Toalson

wife. mother. writer. editor. musician.

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