Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Hyper-Grace Extremism

One of the negative developments that came to the fore in 2013 was the error of Hyper-Grace. For those of you not familiar with the doctrines of this teaching let me list them for you. Dr Michael Brown says they are (1) we have been made righteous by the blood of Jesus, (2) all our sins have been forgiven, (3) the Holy Spirit never convicts believers of sin, and (4) we need never repent for nor confess our sins. One proponent of the hyper grace message says "... it is not necessary to confess our sins and that Paul’s epistles never give an example of a believer confessing sin." This is simply not true. Paul confronts sin in the church of Corinth, for instance, in 1 Cor 7.8ff explaining to these NT believers that "Godly sorrow brings repentance". Indeed, other NT authors recognize the importance of keeping oneself pure and whole by confessing sins. John (1 Jn 1.9) talks about the God right to forgive confessed sin. He also criticizes those who say they do not sin. saying that they imply that "God is a liar" v10. James talks about the healing power of confessed sin in 5.16. The author to the Hebrews 12.14 reminded his hearers of the importance of their efforts to live rightly and then said " without holiness no man will see the Lord".

Another author writes that confession is a "faithless act" that does not result in forgiveness. He says that the meaning of repentance changed between the covenants. That doesn't follow logically. Repentance has always meant to agree with God's assessment of our condition and turn to God. This doesn't bring us to the love of God. God loves us (and all mankind) even while we are sinners. Salvation is never merited. It is by grace through faith )Eph 2.8-10)and that faith must be genuine (James 2.22-24) enough to produce the fruit of repentance (Matt. 3.8).

Confusion results because the scriptures are read and then taught through a theological system that discounts every work of man. I will be the first to stand and proclaim that in my flesh there resides no good thing. But my spirit is empowered by the Holy Spirit and gives direction to my body. I CAN live a life that glorifies God; I CAN bear fruit unto righteousness; I CAN fulfill the works for which he set me apart by grace. The fact is that the Apostle Paul spoke of his own "fear of the Lord" in 2 Cor 5.11ff saying that his ministry of trying to persuade men to follow the Lord was in a fearful response to the knowledge that " we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body..."

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Strange God of John MacArthur

Johnny is a cessationist. Cessationists believe that some of the gifts of God have ceased. Which ones you ask? The ones they don't like and the ones they can't control. If choosing which parts of the Bible you like and discounting or discarding the others sounds like a poor way to determine theology to you, your right. Let's hear some of their arguments.

MacArthur writes, "Miracles in the Bible [primarily] occurred in three major periods of time.  The time of Moses and Joshua, the time of Elijah and Elisha, and the time of Christ and the apostles.  . . . And it is during those three brief periods of time and those alone that miracles proliferated; that miracles were the norm; that miracles were in abundance. Now God can interject Himself into the human stream supernaturally anytime He wants.  We’re not limiting Him.  We’re simply saying that He has chosen to limit Himself to a great degree to those three periods of time." Of course, revelation came to Gideon, Samuel, and prophecies came during the time of the judges, the kings, and the prophets, etc. Clearly these are arbitrary divisions of time whose purpose is to prove the preconception of the Cessationists. Oh, there is a reason why there is no Biblical record of miracles after the apostolic age. The New Testament was already finished! What Johnny claims is that God has chosen limit himself to certain times. Now, honestly can you think of one verse in which Jesus limits the expectations of God's response to prayer? Didn't think so. Instead, Jesus stimulated faith in God and challenged the faithful to believe for more.

Johnny doesn't like prophets, either. He has written, "There is no warrant anywhere in Scripture for Christians to listen for fresh revelation from God beyond what He has already given us in His written Word." Hmm,  Johnny has conveniently forgotten the command to "quench not" in 1Thessalonians 5.19-22 (Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. ESV) What are we to say that this verse means if not that we can expect extra-biblical revelation? Not only is Johnny guilty of despising prophecies and quenching the Spirit he errantly claims that the Bible alone is the place God speaks.  This in spite of the fact, that there is not a single verse that teaches that the Holy Spirit would stop speaking or cease to use men who were gifted to the church (Eph 4.11f). Paul taught that the purpose of prophets is to bring the church to maturity.

Johnny's strange God seems to be pretty much an absentee landlord who shrugs his shoulders at the needs of mankind, perhaps blaming poor timing for his impotence to help. I prefer the God of Jesus.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Scared of Testing

For the third time in the last few months I have had the interesting experience of people of "faith" reacting negatively to any speaking of God testing his children. I find this curious that the verbage of testing is so scary to these folks. So I thought that I would ponder it a bit on my blog today.

First, it is clear to me that God tests his children. I don't think any careful student of the Bible can reject this. In the Old Testament we read a pretty clear verse in Genesis 22.1  "...God tested Abraham..." Proverbs 17.3 tells us that "the Lord tests men's hearts" as a crucible tests silver and gold. Jeremiah 20.12 specifically tells us that the Lord tests "the righteous". So clearly God behaved this way in the past. Some might object and say that God does not do these things in the New Testament. But that is clearly NOT how the Apostle Paul viewed God when he wrote in 1 Thess 2.3-4 "... we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts..." My understanding is that God tests us and that he does so to let us see what is in our heart. We are tested to assess this heart that can be "decietfully wicked" and mask our true intent and our true allegiances.

Second, God is good even when life is bad. I suspect that the fear that these "faith" people have is that God will be percieved as the author of some malady that is upon someone, or be blamed for what is perceived as unanswered prayer, or to be accused as the cause for some circumstance. There is a difference between God allowing something to come upon someone and God designing something specifically for someone. When God says in Ex 4.11 that he makes the deafened ears clearly he is speaking to Moses regarding Moses' excuse making in response to God call. God isn't saying that he chooses some to be sick, or handicapped. He is the soveriegn, but people are born with handicaps and disabilities, sicknesses, etc because of the sin tainted brokenness of the world that we live in.  Could God change that? Sure ! And he did in Jesus! Making a way for everyone who enters the kingdom out of this sick and broken world to find immediate wholeness.

Third, the tests that the Lord gives are not temptations to sin. James makes this clear enough saying that God does not tempt man. So these cricumstances of life come along and reveal the impurities and the weaknesses of character that are hidden in the recesses of the heart of men. The goal of a test, as any good teacher will tell you, is to continue the education and not to torpedo the student! God knows my heart. But the issue is that I do not know my own deceitful heart. The test reveals what I am made of on the inside.... not to God but to me.

So why are we afraid of the simple truth of Scripture? Could it be that we are trying to insulate ourselves from the test itself? Could it be that we are afraid that our faith would fail if we thought for a moment that God would allow a discomfort or hardship? The author of Hebrews tells us that we are to "endure hardship as discipline" and reminds us that the Lord disciplines those he loves. If the goal of my heart is complete surrender to the Lord then certainly I am to embrace the Lord who tests my heart. And there is no reason to be scared of testing.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Always Maturing

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (James 1:14, 15 ESV)

We talk a lot about maturing. No doubt God's design (as we see in nature) is that men and women are developed from the likes of boys and girls. Each of us have aspirations regarding the growth we desire in God. We a instructed to covet certain useful spiritual gifts, we are encouraged to find strength in difficult times of tribulation and trial by contemplating the truths that "patience is having her perfect work" and that "God is working out all things" on our behalf. In fact, I am often disappointed by my own slow maturation process. "Aren't you past that yet?", I quip.

Today it suddenly dawns upon me that there is "another law at work in my members" as the Apostle might say. Sin grows and matures, too. Hmmm, that can't be good! Indeed, the scripture tells me that sin looks remarkably like death when it reaches maturation. Sin, left unchecked, in our hearts and minds wreaks havoc and brings death and destruction. So which will come to maturity in me? Will I be spiritually mature and over come the sin that waits at the door looking to master me, or will sin mature and bring death?

I suppose it will be the thing that I feed most. Paul said that we will " reap from the flesh if we sow to the flesh". A startling and sobering thought.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Talking sex with the kids

For decades, movies and sitcoms have presented a caricature of the sweaty-palmed, birds-and-bees conversation in which Dad stammers through a convoluted description of sex to a preadolescent child — who, it turns out, knows all of the details already. The humor arises from the tension most parents feel about discussing sex with their kids. ("What if we tell him too much?" "Will this rob him of his innocence?" "What if he starts asking about what we do?")

What isn't so funny is the reality that too many children learn about sex from everyone but their parents. Playground slang and obscenity, a distorted description of intercourse from the tough kid up the street, or worst of all, a look at some pornographic material on cable TV or the Internet often provides a child's first jarring glimpse of sex. What should be seen as the most beautiful, meaningful and private communication between a married couple becomes a freak-show curiosity. "Mom and Dad did that? More than once?!"

Efforts by public schools to correct misinformation from the street and lack of information from home often leave out a critical ingredient: the moral framework within which the facts about reproduction should be presented. Without an ethical context, sex education becomes little more than basic training in anatomy, physiology, infectious diseases and contraception.

Many churches have made laudable efforts to teach biblical principles of sexuality to their youth groups. But these important concepts are not always accompanied by accurate medical information or refusal skills. Furthermore, youth-group presentations usually begin late in the game (i.e., during the teen years) and rarely involve an on-going dialogue about this subject.

The best place for a child to learn about sexuality is at home from those who care most about him. Anyone can teach the basic facts about reproduction in an hour or two (or they can be read in any of several reference books), but you are in the best position to put this information in the proper context and give it the right perspective over a period of years. There are no cut-and-dried formulas for carrying out this assignment, but keep the following principles in mind:
Giving a child facts about reproduction, including details about intercourse, does not rob him of innocence. Innocence is a function of attitude, not information. A school-age child who understands the specifics of sex, while seeing it as an act that, in the proper context, both expresses love and begins new life, retains his innocence. But a child who knows very little about sex can already have a corrupt mind-set if he has been exposed to it in a degrading, mocking or abusive context.
If you feel squeamish or inhibited about broaching this subject with your child, reflect for a moment about your own attitudes. Do you harbor any feelings that sexual activity, even within the context of marriage, is somehow base or something that God really doesn't approve of? If you realize that this is an issue for you, some conversations with your pastor, a counselor or both may be in order. Hopefully these discussions, and perhaps a reading of the Song of Solomon and other Bible passages, will alleviate any uneasiness you might harbor regarding God's attitude toward sexuality. Books that are reliable, informative and honoring to sex, marriage and the Creator of both can also be very helpful. Two good examples are The Gift of Sex: A Guide to Sexual Fulfillment by Dr. Clifford and Joyce Penner and Intended for Pleasure by Dr. Ed and Gaye Wheat. But for many people uneasiness about sex may be rooted in life experiences, especially if they involve sexual abuse experienced during childhood, adolescence or even adulthood. It is never too late to address such issues with an individual who has training and experience in this area and can help you work toward healing.
Don't wait to tell your child everything you know about sex during a single, intense marathon session. Doing so risks either waiting until it's too late or dumping more in the child's lap than he can process. Instead, information should be released gradually during many conversations over a period of several years. (The same principle applies to any other area of life — faith, values, responsibilities, relationships, handling money and so on — in which you intend to offer guidance to your child. These subjects are too important to be confined to a single conversation.)
In many instances, you will be giving information on a need-to-know basis. Your five-year-old is probably going to want to know how the baby inside Aunt Susie is going to get out. But your child may not think to ask how the baby got there, and you don't need to broach the subject at that time. On the other hand, if you haven't yet had any discussions about reproduction with your ten-year-old, you will need to take the initiative to start some conversations. She has already heard all sorts of things on the playground and needs to hear from more reputable and mature sources.
What if your child asks you questions you can't answer? Be honest, and then do some research. You gain far more stature in your child's eyes by showing candor than by bluffing. You may not have a detailed knowledge of the intricacies of the menstrual cycle or the developmental stages of puberty, but you're never too old to learn. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Unusable Believer

They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work. (Titus 1:16 ESV)

There are those who make much noise about their own righteousness. They are loud and brash with their opinions for or against this thing or that, making sure that we all know how deeply they hold their Faith. But Christian faith isn't simply a matter of belief. Yes, salvation is by faith alone, sola fide, as Paul makes crystal clear in his letter to the Romans. Yet, the tendency toward extremism is held in check by the word of James in 2.26 "For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead."

Often scholars pit one Apostle against the other but here in the letter toTitus Paul clarifies the same teaching. Works betray the reality of ones faith. Put another way, saving faith has demonstrative acts that accompany that belief. The longer one walks with God the more our own insubordination and rebellion should subside into submission to the formative hand of God's Word. When we persist in our own ways we make ourselves useless for the King and his purposes.

The unusable Christian is most frustrated. Each challenging word from the pulpit does not fall upon good soil; every effort to do something of significance ends in futility; every step forward in growth is undermined by the shallow faith that cannot yield to the Lord. We must die daily to self. We MUST learn to submit to God. We do this excruciating work as an honor to God. If we don't we remain unusable.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Maximizing Mornings

For the past two weeks I have been very busy. Many days right from the jump. I was trying to maximize my time by hitting the road as soon as possible in the morning. But in order to facilitate that I was cheating on my time with God. I don't mean that I was living prayerlessly, but I was squeezing prayer time in here and there. Earlier this week I felt The Lord drawing me away for some deeper fellowship. I objected complaining about the list of unfinished business that was waiting for me but the Holy Spirit persisted in calling me. I found that quiet place and spent undivided time with The Lord. How rich was his presence! What amazing strength I felt in those moments, as if his power was radiating through me! The refreshing of his presence brought me peace, strength, and joy. Those next few days were so productive! But I soon found myself slipping into the old pattern of trying to maximize my mornings with meetings and labor. I have concluded the following; Morning is the time to pray, my mornings are maximized in the presence of true greatness (God) not by my effort, and my life is only able to maintain a grace and peace about it when I am rich in his presence.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Going Deeper-10 Revival Prayers


(Copied  from A Powerful Prayer Life G Frizzell)

1. Ask God to bring deep conviction of sin, spiritual brokenness, a holy fear of God and

genuine repentance among His people.

There will be no revival without these elements and

only God can produce them in His people. After all we cannot program or work up genuine

brokenness and repentance. (2 Corinthians 7:10)

2. Pray for deep cleansing, genuine repentance, and spiritual power to engulf pastors and

Christian leaders.

Revival and spiritual awakening are extremely unlikely without a mighty

move of God in pastors and Christian leaders. Renewed pastors are absolutely crucial to a move

of God in our day! (Ephesians 6:14-20)

3. Pray for God to bestow spiritual hunger in His people and draw them to fervent


God has to grant people the genuine faith and the fervent desire for prayer. With all

our promotion and programming, we cannot “produce a genuine prayer movement. (Philippians


4. Pray that God will bring loving unity in our churches and a deep harmony between our


Many churches need healing among members and many churches need to stop

competing jealously with other churches. (John 13:35)

5. Pray for God to fill His people with a passion to see people saved.

(Only God can give a

genuine burden for souls.) Until God’s people intensely pray for the lost and do aggressive soul

winning revival will tarry. Be sure you are constantly praying for many lost people by name.

(Romans 9:1-3)

6. Pray for God to give His people a passion for missions and starting churches.

Great revivals

produce an explosion of mission projects, new ministries and new church starts. Only God can

grant a genuine passion for missions. (Matthew 28:19)

7. Pray that God will call thousands into ministry, missions and Christian service.


churches are dying for lack of soul winners, teachers and church workers. Furthermore, we can

start only as many churches as we have church planters to start them. (Matthew 9:37)

8. Pray that God will pour out His Spirit like a mighty purifying flood.

Ask God to purify our

“motives as we pray for revival. After all it is possible to pray for revival for selfish or ambitious

reasons. Our motives must be solely for: (a) the glory of God, and (b) the increase of the

kingdom of God. We must not pray for revival just to solve our own problems or make our

church successful in the eyes of men. (James 4:2)

9. Pray for a mighty move of conviction and salvation upon communities of cultural influence.

Some key examples are Hollywood actors and producers, government officials, educators,

teachers, and college professors, news and media people, talk shows hosts, comedians,

homosexual activists groups, and the music industry. (1 Timothy 2:1-2) Provide specific lists for

your congregation.

10. Specifically pray for God to pour out His Spirit in a fashion even greater than He did in

America in 1858 and Wales in 1904.

(Ten percent of Wales’ population was saved in five

months!) Ask God for a modern day of Pentecost in the United States and Canada. (Mark 11:22-

24; John 14:13-14.)

Let us so Pray!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Losing or Forfeiting Salvation

Here are soem notes from and Ask The Pastor session Wednesday evening.

Can You Lose Your Salvation?


The New Testament answer is simply yes.

            In nearly every book of the New Testament there is a warning regarding this.

                        Matt. 7.21 not everyone who says to me “Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven”

                        Mark 9.42ff  NIV if anyone causes one of these little onese who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to b e thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck…it is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be  thrown in Hell.

                        Luke 12:8-9 ESV .. “And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God.

                        John 15.6.if anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown into the fire and burned….

                        Acts 8.18-23 Simon… believed (v13) baptized (v16) repent or perish!



There are those who believe otherwise but it is not a biblically formed belief but one from a systematic theology. By that I mean that it does not spring from the scriptures themselves. This is the result of forcing a system on the Scripture (Calvinism). This doctrine at its most extreme has God in the position of assigning who will be saved and damned by his own volition. It is a slander against the character of God. Scripture isn’t a systematic theology book…


So How to Lose your salvation….

                        Jn 15.6   Stop bearing fruit

                        Matt 12. 30-32 Blaspheme the Holy Spirit

                        Rev 3.5 Give up (He who overcomes will… be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life…)

                        1 Tim 1.18-20 fail to fight the good fight, keep faith, or have a good conscience. (Shipwreck yoru faith)

                        1 Cor 9.27 live an undisciplined life (I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize)

                        1 Cor 15.1,2 believe a false gospel. (I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have toaken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preaced to you. Other wise, you have believed in vain.

                        Gal 5.1-6  become entangled again in a yoke of slavery…. (You have fallen from grace!)

                        Rom 2. 1-11, 13,16  Judge others hypocritically. (Because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath)

                        Heb 10.26 continue in sin rather than embracing God’s Work in you



A Few New Testament Examples of those who have lost their salvation

False teachers 2 Peter 2.20-22

Hymaneaus and Alexander 1 Tim 1.20

Unnamed “Lord, Lord” folks in Matthew 7 

Simon Acts 8


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Joy Stealers

Like the Hamburglar from McDonalds, these bothersome creatures keep showing up to steal our most precious commodity...our joy. The Christian's joy is his or her greatest witnessing tool, strongest defense against tempation, and greatest relational asset. If you have been letting the JoyThief rip you off you already know this! Here is my list of things that seem to steal the joy frequently.

a.       Anxiety- though the bible says not to worry in Matthew 6 many of us allow this culprit to walk off with our treasured joy.

b.      Angry Words-Strife divides friends, and that gives room to the JoyThief

c.       Discontentment- It is impossible to hang on to joy when you haven't learned to be content Phil 4

d.      Jealousy-All that inner turmoil, even if it never surfaces, kills your joy. Love is not jealous 1 Cor 13

e.       Unforgiveness- This causes our joy to be swallowed up and pilfered  because we are too occupied with business that should be forgiven. Mark 11

f.       Legalism- Binding ourselves to religious and unbiblical expectations and traditions kills joy Gal 5.1

g.      Busy-ness- Overcrowding your schedule  is like leaving the door opn for the thief...

h.      Family Strife-make peace and you will find that your joy is restored.

i.        Clutter- you don''t have to be fastidious, just clean, to protect your joy

j.        Over-thinking- Think it through, make a decision, let it go. Joy always looks forward...

k.      Over emotionalism- If you are lead by your emotions you will find every emotion available to you except joy!

l.        Fear- the twin of anxiety, fear demands a full heightened response, and therefore rips off the joy. Fear Not!

m.    Prayerlessness- Joy comes from God. nuf said!

n.      Failure in Temptation-Guilt, both real and percieved, stifles joy. bring your guilt to God, go and sin no more!\
I suppose there are more but this list is a good beginning check list to find out where your joy went!

Sunday, February 03, 2013


This morning I was awakened wondering why people throw their lives away. Even many who have come to the Lord do sinful, self destructive things. Often these things cost them and those who love them dearly. Untimely deaths, horrific sickness, bondages and habits that limit joy and effectiveness in the Kingdom all come from these self destructive and sinful lifestyle choices. Certainly, there is a difference between having an experience with God and being in relationship with God. That in itself may explain some of this. Many of the people who followed Jesus had no relationship with him. They followed for the novelty, or out of curiosity, or for the fish sandwiches! But they didn't know him.

But we all do some mildly self destructive things. We all know Christ followers who struggle with tobacco,overeating, soap operas, or half a dozen other seemingly mild unedifying and self destructive things. It concerns me that those things, left unchecked will wreck our lives and testimonies for Christ. Maybe I am jaded having been to the funeral of one too many believers in Christ who never fully got what we old time Pentecostals called the victory. God has better.

So this month  I have decided to pray over my life and the life of the church here the simple prayer of Paul from Col 1.10-14. That God would guide us into a worthy life. I challenge you to pray it with me every day.  May God lead us into spiritual health and away from the things that compromise our witness for God.