Tuesday, November 20, 2007

You might be a false convert if…

You might be a false convert if…
You can’t remember a time when you repented of your sins and placed your faith in Jesus Christ.
You aren’t reading your Bible regularly.
You aren’t attending church regularly.
You believe baptism, church attendance, communion, or some other sort of works righteousness plays any part in your salvation.
You believe baptism, church attendance, communion, or some other sort of works righteousness are unnecessary as evidence of your salvation.
You don’t enjoy fellowship with other believers.
You don’t share your faith with unbelievers.
You don’t memorize Scripture.
You don’t pray regularly.
You exhibit pride, rather than humility, when confronted with a sin you continue to practice since “conversion.”
While many Christians struggle with any one of these problems, an established pattern or willful continued practice of any of these may indicate a need for further examination of the existence of one's faith. Granted, it may not be a sin if you don't memorize Scripture, but more importantly this list is evident fruit we can see in a true believer. It's not necessarily a list of do's and don'ts, but rather a gauge to see if these examples reflect our lives as new creations in Christ. As Paul stated in 2 Corinthians 13:5, "Test yourselves {to see} if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you--unless indeed you fail the test?" Food for thought.

Fear of Evangelism

Fear of rejection is perhaps one of the greatest killers of evangelism in today's Church. It has been said that evangelism is something that both Christians and unbelievers alike hate. Two verses of Scripture, however, come to mind when dealing with this unhealthy type of fear. The first is Acts 1:8, which tells us, "but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses..." This verse reminds me that as a believer in Christ, I have been given the authority and strength necessary from the Holy Spirit in order to preach the Gospel to unbelievers. The second verse is Luke 12:5 which tells us, "But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!" This verse redirects my perspective to what healthy fear is...fearing the One (God) Who judges righteously for salvation or for condemnation. Answering the question, "What is the worst that can happen?", we know that evil men can kill our bodies. As mere men, however, they (to include Satan) cannot kill the soul. If God is sovereign (and He is), my fear should rest in awe of Him alone. If God has given me both the power and authority to witness Christ and His Gospel, my only response can be obedience. As a sidenote, we are blessed to live in America, a country who has yet to prefer methods of physical persecution as many other nations in the world do. If this is the case, it only shows how much more unreasonable an unhealthy fear of rejection can be, both to obedience and to reason.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Was Jesus a "Good" Person?

This came up recently, so I just wanted to comment on whether Jesus was only a good person. Considering the classic trilemma offered by C.S. Lewis, Jesus was either Lord, Liar or Lunatic, but cannot logically be considered only a “good person.” Jesus in the Bible claims to be God. If you don't agree, comment back and I'll give some Biblical examples. First, if Jesus was not God and knew it, then he is only a liar attempting to persuade converts. That would not make him a good person. Second, if Jesus only thought he was God and he didn’t know he was not, that would make him insane, or more specifically, a raving delusional egomaniac. Once again, not a good person. Last, if Jesus both believed and was in fact God, that doesn’t make Him a good person, but the very perfect God Who created us. Sorry, but “good person” is just not an option He left for us to play with.

Interview with an Emergent

Sometimes, people are so confused and corrupted that you just want to vomit. Emergent Leader Doug Pagitt, pastor of Solomon's Porch, recently had a telephone interview with Todd Friel of Way of the Master Radio. In it, he denied that Heaven and Hell are actual places, he declared that God would interact with everyone the same in eternity, he mocked Todd for using systematic theology in taking several similar examples from Scripture to come to an understanding of what God was saying, he thought using the grammatical-historical method to interpret the Word of God was wrong (the idea that interpretation is clearest when we study the grammatical context of the Greek and think in terms of what God was saying to those people at that time in history), he talked about the Bible with disdain when Todd used systematic theology to understand what God was saying (Doug seemed to be disgusted by the possibility of using four different Scripture verses from four different books and possibly four different authors, which expresses his disbelief in infallibility having forgotten that God is the Author), and he began getting into a philosophical debate about mind/body dualism, cosmology, etc, when his language and attitude expressed that he didn't believe we exist in a place. He accused Todd of being platonic in his thinking, but it sounds more like Doug was babbling on in agreement with Plato's Parable of the Cave. Anyway, probably one of the most disgusting interviews I have ever heard. I was seriously getting butterflies in my stomach and wanted to vomit from this man's perversion of Scripture. Just to get a few things straight, it seems this is the norm in the emerging church movement. I agree with what started the movement, possibly the idea that there needs to be a refocus upon Biblical living that matches Scripture and our profession of faith ("refocus" meaning to focus again upon what Scripture says, not to change focus or interpretation of that message). After all, it is true that if we are more focused on whether someone wears a suit and tie to Church rather than sharing the Gospel of Christ, we've got problems. However, with such leaders as Doug Pagitt and Brian McClaren, the movement has essentially thrown out the baby with the bathwater. I don't believe it to be correct orthodoxy or orthopraxy when your values are the following:

Postmodern Worldview - Truth is subjective

Narrative Theology - Not focusing on what was being said to who at what time, but what does this (Scripture) mean to me?

Generous Orthodoxy - Let's not take the Bible literally, let's all get together to make up some new doctrines. Something to do with sex and profanity to attract unbelievers.

Postmodern Hermeneutics - Interpret the Scripture however you want and apply it to yourself; after all, truth is subjective.

Authenticity - Forget exegesis, tell me about your experience.

Conversation - Let's talk. Bring some new ideas about what you think. You might change my mind because, as we all know, truth is subjective.

Missional Living - This actually sounds like a good idea. If only emergents could remember John 17:14.

Unstructured Ecclesiology - This is similar to house churches. As long as they rely on a Biblical model, this seems okay.

Creative Spirituality - Refers to an eclectic worship style, which is evident in Scripture, but again, a Biblical model should always be followed.

"Non-Legalistic" Conduct - Looks good on the surface, but going back to a postmodern mindset, the application is one of "Don't judge me!", and reinforces sinful lifestyles such as homosexuality.

Use of New Technologies - Actually, a good idea if using these tools for an evangelistic/discipleship effort.

Postmodern Terminology - A rose smells just as sweet by any other name. As long as they don't try to redefine traditionally orthodox terminology, like the Mormons have, call it whatever you want.

Justice - More specifically, social justice. Good in practice (feeding the poor, visiting the sick, environmental stewardship, etc.), but not in thought (the same Jewish belief that God's Kingdom was an earthly reign when trying to crown Christ [not referencing the millenial reign of Christ]).

So, before I go off on some other tangent, let me remember to give you the link to Doug and Todd's "Conversation."


The first few minutes are of their "pre-show," after that the interview starts.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Visual Tools for Remembering God's Law

If you're like me, you can name most of the 10 Commandments. The following is a trick that I learned to not only remember them ALL, but also list them in order:

The first place ribbon represents that God should always be number one in our lives and is a reminder of the 1st Commandment: Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.

The shape of the man bowing down to an idol is a reminder of the 2nd Commandment: Thou shalt not make unto thyself any graven image.
The lips represents not speaking loosely of God’s name and the shape of the edge of the lips is a reminder of the 3rd Commandment: Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
The shape of the book end and Bible is a reminder of the 4th Commandment: Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy.
The man and woman represent parents and their shape is a reminder of the 5th Commandment: Honor thy father and thy mother.
The bomb represents death and destruction and the shape of the outline of this bomb is a reminder of the 6th Commandment: Thou shalt not commit murder.
The broken heart represents what happens because of adultery and the shape of the void in between the two halves of the heart is a reminder of the 7th Commandment: Thou shalt not commit adultery.
The burglar represents theft and the shape of the burglar’s mask is a reminder of the 8th Commandment: Thou shalt not steal.
The lying-down position of the number 9 is a reminder of the 9th Commandment: Thou shalt not bear false witness (lie).

The man desiring the jewelry and the shape of the man in the doorway and the diamond ring is a reminder of the 10th Commandment: Thou shalt not covet.

I hope that helps for anyone interested in using this tool for memory. It is also a great idea for young children just learning God's law.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Balancing Work and Witnessing

I don't think that any of us are free from repercussions when we speak on behalf of Christ; however, I don't believe that should stop us, either. In my experience, policies set forth by employers give them legal rights to keep individuals from evangelizing during working hours, but not during breaks, lunch periods, or before and after any given shifts. This has not stopped me, but I have had some problems with supervisors on the issue. As an example, one former employer had attempted to stop me from speaking about religious issues, but had allowed other employees to discuss reincarnation, karma, etc. I brought this information to her attention, but the response was that these are not religious topics. Apparently, she had never heard of hinduism. Anyway, the issue was never pressed, except in circumstances when the conversation did in fact interrupt the workflow. As an example on the issue, take a look at Romans 13:1-5 (NASB), "Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience' sake." So, looking at these verses, we see that God has established authorities to govern us. This is true even in employer-employee relationships. The only time I see a deviation from this norm in Scripture is when the authority is in direct opposition to God's Word. We have a responsibility as Christians to share the Gospel, but employers have the authority to ensure that they get what they paid for (your time for their money). Considering most in this world are secular, they don't want you wasting the time they are paying for in preaching the Gospel. If we prioritize continual preaching over completing our work as assigned by an authority given over us by God, we may be hurting the Gospel by looking like a lazy employee. If we prioritize our work assignments over concern for the salvation of our lost coworkers, we may be hurting our witness by not being willing to share the Gospel. All these things in consideration, the key is balance. Share your faith in word and deed at work, but do not allow it to counter fulfilling your obligation to your employer. Understand that interrupting the workflow of yourself and your coworkers may be viewed as stealing from the company (again, their money for your time), but do not let it compromise your sincerely held religious beliefs which are protected by law. These are all questions that put us between a rock and a hard place when having to live a Christian life in a secular world. How important it is to submit to God not only by preaching the Gospel, but also by being obedient to the authorities He has established over us, without compromising our faith.