Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:30-36 ESV)
Let’s break this meaty passage down and start with a well known verse.
And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
This phrase is commonly referred to as the golden Rule. It may surprise you to learn that Jesus is not the first person in history to express this sentiment. Many great philosophers and religious men of the past have said very similar things. Some would say that this universal sentiment sums up the heart of the Christian faith, but if it is commonly shared among other faith traditions how is it then a distinctly Christian doctrine? My answer would be to say that it is not at all the central doctrine of Christianity, and if some groups make it so, then they have strayed away from the simplicity of the gospel message. The good news isn’t that we should try to treat others with kindness. We are all sinners who will inevitably fail at this lofty goal. We need redemption from our lack of love toward God and men. God has provided this salvation by giving us his Son, Jesus Christ. Now that is good news! (more…)
But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. - Luke 6:27-28
What does it mean to love your enemies? Did Jesus command us to conjure strong feelings and affections for those who hate us and that we also hate? Is it even possible to have good feelings toward someone we despise? If we are totally honest with ourselves we must admit that we harbor strong negative emotions to those we call our enemies. Isn’t it a contradiction to say we love whom we hate? How could God make such a contradictory demand upon us? Is the command to love our enemies some kind of divine prank?
The answer lies in Christ’s words – we love by doing good to those who hate us, blessing those who curse us and praying for those who abuse us.
These principles seem straight forward enough but confusion can arise. What does it mean to bless someone? Isn’t doing good and praying for someone in fact, blessing them? Is there a difference in the meaning of these seemingly synonymous terms? Bless here in the Greek means ‘speak well of, praise’. Instead of indulging human nature’s propensity to gossip and slander our enemies (no matter how justified we feel in doing so) we should build them up and find what is praise-worthy and proclaim it. The all-encompassing love to our enemies we are commanded to fulfill is simply doing good to them, speaking well of them and asking God to care for them, despite the way we may feel. (more…)
I’m looking at you, Charles Darwin. Or, more accurately, I’m looking at those ‘rational’ minds that have taken Darwin’s theory and ran with it unimpeded, right over the biblical account of the origin of all things. The scientific community push the ‘fact’ of slowly evolving life forms over eons of time with nary a nagging doubt – at least publicly. In light of their unshakeable rock foundation, evolution then clearly disproves the myth of an omnipotent creator forming life by merely speaking into a dark void. Conversely, Scripture plainly records that God did create the universe and all it contains. It also makes a point to repeatedly claim that all God’s creatures reproduce after their own kind. We have two diametrically opposed doctrines from two entirely different sources. One must be true and the other a lie. They cannot both be true, despite claims by some to the contrary.
The issue boils down to the doctrine of man’s creation in God’s image. Did God purposely mold man in his image, breathe into him the breath of life, distinguish him from every other life form, or was man made in the image of monkeys with a few genetic tweaks engineered by mere chance in the process of natural selection? These are not minor differences. The gulf between these two views cannot be bridged. Any Christian who wavers on this issue needs to consider the consequences of compromise. A view in which God uses evolution to accomplish his ends is fraught with peril. Of primary concern is that the creation account must be allegorized to fit this paradigm. Admittedly, God does use allegory in the bible to relate truth, but if he allegorized the first portion of the book of Genesis then why not the entire book? Where do we draw the line between fiction and historical account? Based on what authority? Did Adam and Eve not literally fall from God’s grace? Did the story of Abraham and the patriarchs not really happen? Is there no real covenant, no true people of God? Is there no original sin, no need of redemption? Don’t you see how the dominoes begin to fall with this compromised worldview? (more…)
Author: Dr. Michael Horton
Page Count: 240
Synopsis: Dr. Horton diagnoses the core problem with modern evangelicalism: The drifting away from gospel preaching, centering on the person and work of Jesus Christ, toward the embracing of a therapeutic moralistic deism that puts man and his perceived wants and needs first and relegates God to a reactive spectator. Many of today’s preachers define God as the genie in the bottle who meets all our needs where we are at and not the Great judge who makes all of his creatures account for every deed done in the flesh – whether good or evil. God is portrayed as unequivocally benevolent. He’s the ultimate good guy who’s on our side and only wants the best for all his children, whether they are gathered in or gone astray. The good news of the gospel is trivialized since sin and judgment are marginalized to the fringes of Christian belief and experience. The contemporary preacher doesn’t teach that man is a sinner in need of forgiveness, but an imperfect soul struggling to live right and receive God’s material blessings. (more…)
I recently received a comment from an atheist in response to my article Does God Send People to Hell? and decided I would post my rather lengthy reply in a post. Here are his original responses.
POST 1 – If God exists, then I really hope he’s a judge like you said. If that’s the case, then we’ll all be able to go to hell. And you’re wrong about nobody would choose to go to hell. I believe a lot of people in this world believe that hell is the only place for them. Me? i believe everyone(yes, including me) should go to hell.
Post 2 – If you haven’t notice from my previous post. I am an Atheist. Why am I an Atheist? Because I can only imagine God as an evil being that seeks to torture and destroy us. If this evil being exists, then we can only burn in hell. According to the bible, everything we do is evil. Whatever good we do will never atone for our sins.
So what if Jesus sacrificed himself? That only removed the original sin. We are sinful just by living our daily lives. Why do I say that? Do you know of the evils in the rest of the world? Have you actively stopped the evils? The moment we turn a blind eye to them, we’re doomed to eternal suffering in hell. He judges us based on our actions and our inactions. :
Know that we’re also judged by our thoughts and emotions. “Whose kid is that? Someone should shut that kid up.” You’re doomed to hell. You looked at a married woman and thought “She’s quite pretty.” You’re doomed to hell. You felt like killing someone for what that person did. You’re doomed to hell. You saw an item that you really wanted and thought to covert it as your own. You’re doomed to hell.
And that is why I embrace Atheism. If a being that is considered to be perfect exists, then we the imperfect ones can only burn in hell for all eternity. I am not posting this to convert you to Atheism or anything. I just want you to know that if God truly exists, then our fate is sealed. Worshipping him will not do you any good, he’s here to judge you, not to be worshipped.
Here is my reply:
Honestly, I sense from reading your posts that you’re not that far from the kingdom of God. You appear to have a keen sense of your own sinfulness, indeed, the sinfulness of us all, that is severely lacking, even among multitudes that claim Christ. But instead of fleeing to your only hope for salvation, you’ve decided to stick your head in the proverbial sand. You’ve convinced yourself that God won’t judge you because he is an imaginary being. However, the sense of deep conviction that you deserve punishment isn’t imaginary. You feel it in your heart don’t you? You can’t shake that sense of impending doom in your breast. Denying the existence of the Great Judge won’t spare you from his wrath.
I want to touch on a few points from your post. You feel that God is evil because he punishes evil. Does that really make any sense? If God were truly evil he would reward our sin instead of punishing us for it. But because God is good he must punish evil or he is not just. You’re right, man gets what he deserves when he rebels against his creator. This is the bad news but the Gospel of Jesus Christ is good news. You seem to have a defective understanding of the cross work of Christ. You believe that Christ isn’t an all-sufficient savior, that his death on the cross accomplished some good but not enough to actually save anyone. This is not taught in scripture at all. When Jesus approached death on the cross he uttered the words, “It is finished.” What was finished? Complete and total salvation for those who believe. This is because of God’s sheer grace. In other words, the salvation Jesus bought and paid for with his blood sacrifice is a gift of God’s mercy. We don’t deserve it, we don’t earn it. We can only receive it by faith. Faith simply means that we look outside of ourselves and trust God completely to save us. We cannot even lift a finger to merit God’s favor as you so aptly point out. All of our works fall far short of God’s perfection. We need to be rescued from ourselves and God reaches down in a divine descent and plucks us from the flames of our just punishment because of his great love.
You write that Jesus died only for our original sin but scripture doesn’t teach this. He died for all of our sins – past, present and future. All of those transgressions were nailed to the cross and covered with his blood. All is forgiven. This is called Christ’s passive or suffering obedience. This brings up another problem in being made right with God. All our sin may be blotted out but that leaves us with a blank slate. We still lack the positive moral righteousness required by the law in order to be considered righteous in God’s eyes that we might inherit eternal life. Again, God took it upon himself to give us what we cannot hope to achieve in our own strength. Jesus Christ obeyed the laws of God his entire life. He was without sin and completely fulfilled the law to love God and love his neighbor. His obedience was perfect. We call this the active obedience of Christ. He actively fulfilled every jot and tittle of God’s moral law. This perfect obedience has been imputed (transferred or reckoned) to us when we put our faith in Christ. In other words, when we stand before God at the judgment he will not see our sin because the blood of Jesus has washed it all away and he will not see our feeble attempts at righteousness, which are filthy rags to God, but only the perfect obedience of Jesus. His works will be considered our own, and this only by the overwhelming grace God has lavished upon us. So, it is true that we are saved by works: Jesus Christ’s – not our own. We have access to his work by faith alone. You only need to trust Christ as Savior and he will not fail to save. Cry out from your heart, “Have mercy on me, a sinner!” and mercy you shall receive.
In preparation for serious reflection upon the Lord’s cross and his victorious resurrection from the dead many Christian faith traditions practice Lent. Lent, in essence, is a period of time set aside by worshipers to reflect upon the significance and magnitude of Christ’s cross work in light of their desperate need for grace, mercy and forgiveness. The observance of Lent is usually accompanied by fasting, prayer, mourning, self-denial and repenting over sin.
As a Christian practicing his faith in the sphere of Baptist tradition, Lent is typically frowned upon, so I’ve never participated in it. However, I must admit, that I’m not totally opposed to such practices on the condition that reflection upon our sin, Christ’s cross, fervent prayer and a holy lifestyle of self-denial aren’t solely practiced only within the limited confines of the 40 days of Lent. We as Christians should keep these sacred truths close to our hearts at all times, especially every time we sit down at the Lord’s Supper.
In recent years I’ve seen the wisdom in setting aside and sanctifying a period of time for serious reflection upon the glorious cross of Christ and subsequent conquering of death, hell and the grave. For those not comfortable with the idea of participating in Lent, perhaps I can offer an acceptable alternative. I highly recommend reading a couple of short books on the passion, purpose and application of Christ’ sacrifice on the cross. These books are brief with short, succinct chapters that can be read as a devotion everyday over the course of the month preceding Easter Sunday.
The first book is titled: The Cross he Bore by Frederick S. Leahy. The second is titled: The Truth of the Cross by RC Sproul. Below I’ll post a review of each, including a list of the chapters contained in each volume. (more…)
This is the anniversary that almost wasn’t. Earlier this year, some of my loyal readers may recall, I posted a farewell post with the full intention of shutting A Peculiar Pilgrim down for good. That cast-iron resolve lasted all of three months. I missed writing, and blogging in particular. I so enjoy the dialogue I’m able to have with all kinds of people that I just can’t reproduce in the non-binary world. So, in an act of subtlety I simply deleted that final post and pretended it never existed. I resumed business as usual and my readers (according to the stats) haven’t missed a beat. So my blogging career rolls on for at least one more season, God willing.
As tradition dictates I’m offering up my favorite posts from 2010 for your reading pleasure:
The Necessity of Theology - This post sprang from the outline to my opening class on the doctrine of Redemption. And I endorse every word of it.
I’m Not Good Enough… – Another angle on the inner turmoil that lead to my personal reformation experience five years ago that once and for all freed me from the aberrant doctrines that had ensnared me for over a decade.
The Ugly Truth About Mirrors – A post about the not-so-popular duty of the faithful minister to his congregation.
The Cornerstone Commandment: Can we Keep it? – Can any single person on this earth muster up within his fallen nature an earnest love for the Lord God with all the heart, soul, mind and strength?
When, under the guidance of the Law, we have advanced thus far, we must, under the same guidance, proceed to descend into ourselves. In this way, we at length arrive at two results: First, contrasting our conduct with the righteousness of the Law, we see how very far it is from being in accordance with the will of God, and, therefore, how unworthy we are of holding our place among his creatures, far less of being accounted his sons; and, secondly, taking a survey of our powers, we see that they are not only unequal to fulfill the Law, but are altogether null. The necessary consequence must be, to produce distrust of our own ability, and also anxiety and trepidation of mind. Conscience cannot feel the burden of its guilt, without forthwith turning to the judgment of God, while the view of this judgment cannot fail to excite a dread of death. In like manner, the proofs of our utter powerlessness must instantly beget despair of our own strength. Both feelings are productive of humility and abasement, and hence the sinner, terrified at the prospect of eternal death (which he sees justly impending over him for his iniquities), turns to the mercy of God as the only haven of safety. Feeling his utter inability to pay what he owes to the Law, and thus despairing of himself, he rethinks him of applying and looking to some other quarter for help.
- From The Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 2 – Chapter 8.
This gal just gets it. She hits the bullseye, then draws back her bow and splits the embedded arrow right down the middle. Harriet Baber, a journalist for the UK’s Guardian comments on the Crystal Cathedral’s recent filing for bankruptcy, then proceeds to pinpoint the failings of modern evangelicalism. Here’s an excerpt:
So if you wonder why Americans are, anomalously, religious it is because we have evacuated religion of all content. There are of course theological doctrines on the books, which church members tick off, in the way that they agree to accept screenfuls of conditions for installing new software. But most have no serious interest in these theoretical matters. Whether signing on for a new therapy or self-help programme, trying out a new diet or a new church, they are looking for a bag of tricks, a collection of gimmicks and recipes that will get them the material prosperity, perfect health, beautiful bodies, ideal relationships and complete happiness to which they believe they are entitled.
Read the full article HERE.
HT: Crosstalk blog
These Southern Baptist preachers seem to think so. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the new prosperity non-gospel.
*** Sorry, the video wouldn’t embed.
This kind of thing isn’t new. My old pastor taught a tithe sermon once a year where he informed us that we were under a curse if we didn’t bring in a full 10% (off gross, of course).
In answer to the question proposed in the title: I give you Paul the apostle:
For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. (Galatians 3:10-14 ESV)
I did something today that I usually don’t do. I posted a comment on a Yahoo! article. Lately, I’ve become fascinated with reading responses to various articles on world events – things that may have a religious connotation – either directly or indirectly.
For example, I read an article this morning on Yahoo! about the horrifying events unfolding in Indonesia concerning the perpetual volcanic eruptions that seem to be getting more violent, despite expectations to the contrary. The comment section had grown to nearly 4,000 comments before I decided to enter the fray. Of course, I didn’t read every single comment, but just enough to get a sampling of people’s opinions on the matter. I was appalled (but not the least bit surprised) at the callousness of some commenters who looked down on the Indonesians as an inferior people. The reasons for their inferiority varied: morons who built villages on the sides of an active volcano; Muslims who are facing divine judgment for their false religion; etc. etc. Some were quite harsh and merciless in their appraisals. The general consensus for all the negative reactions is this:
the Indonesians are just getting what they so richly deserve.
As I read through these comments, shaking my head at such self-righteous attitudes, a scripture popped into my head. it comes from the Gospel of Luke. In chapter 13 Jesus is thronged by thousands and in response he begins to instruct the people. At one point: (more…)
Happy Reformation Day to all you Protestants out there who embrace the doctrine of justification through faith alone by grace alone in Christ alone according to the scriptures alone and for the glory of God alone.
Here is the last section of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses that set off a firestorm that continues to burn throughout the world today!
Ecclesia semper reformans, semper reformanda!
- Let him be anathema and accursed who denies the apostolic character of the indulgences.
- On the other hand, let him be blessed who is on his guard against the wantonness and license of the pardon-merchant’s words.
- In the same way, the pope rightly excommunicates those who make any plans to the detriment of the trade in indulgences.
- It is much more in keeping with his views to excommunicate those who use the pretext of indulgences to plot anything to the detriment of holy love and truth.
- It is foolish to think that papal indulgences have so much power that they can absolve a man even if he has done the impossible and violated the mother of God.
- We assert the contrary, and say that the pope’s pardons are not able to remove the least venial of sins as far as their guilt is concerned.
- When it is said that not even St. Peter, if he were now pope, could grant a greater grace, it is blasphemy against St. Peter and the pope.
- We assert the contrary, and say that he, and any pope whatever, possesses greater graces, viz., the gospel, spiritual powers, gifts of healing, etc., as is declared in I Corinthians 12 [:28].
- It is blasphemy to say that the insignia of the cross with the papal arms are of equal value to the cross on which Christ died.
- The bishops, curates, and theologians, who permit assertions of that kind to be made to the people without let or hindrance, will have to answer for it.
- This unbridled preaching of indulgences makes it difficult for learned men to guard the respect due to the pope against false accusations, or at least from the keen criticisms of the laity.
- They ask, e.g.: Why does not the pope liberate everyone from purgatory for the sake of love (a most holy thing) and because of the supreme necessity of their souls? This would be morally the best of all reasons. Meanwhile he redeems innumerable souls for money, a most perishable thing, with which to build St. Peter’s church, a very minor purpose.
- Again: Why should funeral and anniversary masses for the dead continue to be said? And why does not the pope repay, or permit to be repaid, the benefactions instituted for these purposes, since it is wrong to pray for those souls who are now redeemed?
- Again: Surely this is a new sort of compassion, on the part of God and the pope, when an impious man, an enemy of God, is allowed to pay money to redeem a devout soul, a friend of God; while yet that devout and beloved soul is not allowed to be redeemed without payment, for love’s sake, and just because of its need of redemption.
- Again: Why are the penitential canon laws, which in fact, if not in practice, have long been obsolete and dead in themselves,—why are they, to-day, still used in imposing fines in money, through the granting of indulgences, as if all the penitential canons were fully operative?
- Again: since the pope’s income to-day is larger than that of the wealthiest of wealthy men, why does he not build this one church of St. Peter with his own money, rather than with the money of indigent believers?
- Again: What does the pope remit or dispense to people who, by their perfect repentance, have a right to plenary remission or dispensation?
- Again: Surely a greater good could be done to the church if the pope were to bestow these remissions and dispensations, not once, as now, but a hundred times a day, for the benefit of any believer whatever.
- What the pope seeks by indulgences is not money, but rather the salvation of souls; why then does he suspend the letters and indulgences formerly conceded, and still as efficacious as ever?
- These questions are serious matters of conscience to the laity. To suppress them by force alone, and not to refute them by giving reasons, is to expose the church and the pope to the ridicule of their enemies, and to make Christian people unhappy.
- If therefore, indulgences were preached in accordance with the spirit and mind of the pope, all these difficulties would be easily overcome, and indeed, cease to exist.
- Away, then, with those prophets who say to Christ’s people, “Peace, peace,” where in there is no peace.
- Hail, hail to all those prophets who say to Christ’s people, “The cross, the cross,” where there is no cross.
- Christians should be exhorted to be zealous to follow Christ, their Head, through penalties, deaths, and hells.
- And let them thus be more confident of entering heaven through many tribulations rather than through a false assurance of peace.
- Christians should be taught that they purchase indulgences voluntarily, and are not under obligation to do so.
- Christians should be taught that, in granting indulgences, the pope has more need, and more desire, for devout prayer on his own behalf than for ready money.
- Christians should be taught that the pope’s indulgences are useful only if one does not rely on them, but most harmful if one loses the fear of God through them.
- Christians should be taught that, if the pope knew the exactions of the indulgence-preachers, he would rather the church of St. Peter were reduced to ashes than be built with the skin, flesh, and bones of the sheep.
- Christians should be taught that the pope would be willing, as he ought if necessity should arise, to sell the church of St. Peter, and give, too, his own money to many of those from whom the pardon-merchants conjure money.
- It is vain to rely on salvation by letters of indulgence, even if the commissary, or indeed the pope himself, were to pledge his own soul for their validity.
- Those are enemies of Christ and the pope who forbid the word of God to be preached at all in some churches, in order that indulgences may be preached in others.
- The word of God suffers injury if, in the same sermon, an equal or longer time is devoted to indulgences than to that word.
- The pope cannot help taking the view that if indulgences (very small matters) are celebrated by one bell, one pageant, or one ceremony, the gospel (a very great matter) should be preached to the accompaniment of a hundred bells, a hundred processions, a hundred ceremonies.
- The treasures of the church, out of which the pope dispenses indulgences, are not sufficiently spoken of or known among the people of Christ.
- That these treasures are not temporal are clear from the fact that many of the merchants do not grant them freely, but only collect them.
- Nor are they the merits of Christ and the saints, because, even apart from the pope, these merits are always working grace in the inner man, and working the cross, death, and hell in the outer man.
- St. Laurence said that the poor were the treasures of the church, but he used the term in accordance with the custom of his own time.
- We do not speak rashly in saying that the treasures of the church are the keys of the church, and are bestowed by the merits of Christ.
- For it is clear that the power of the pope suffices, by itself, for the remission of penalties and reserved cases.
- The true treasure of the church is the Holy gospel of the glory and the grace of God.
- It is right to regard this treasure as most odious, for it makes the first to be the last.
- On the other hand, the treasure of indulgences is most acceptable, for it makes the last to be the first.
- Therefore the treasures of the gospel are nets which, in former times, they used to fish for men of wealth.
- The treasures of the indulgences are the nets which to-day they use to fish for the wealth of men.
- The indulgences, which the merchants extol as the greatest of favours, are seen to be, in fact, a favourite means for money-getting.
- Nevertheless, they are not to be compared with the grace of God and the compassion shown in the Cross.
- Bishops and curates, in duty bound, must receive the commissaries of the papal indulgences with all reverence.
- But they are under a much greater obligation to watch closely and attend carefully lest these men preach their own fancies instead of what the pope commissioned.
Allow me to let theologian B.B. Warfield introduce the next group of Luther’s 95 protests against the Roman Catholic Church with his summary on their significance:
The significance of the Theses as a Reformation act emerges thus in this: that they are a bold, an astonishingly bold, and a powerful, an astonishingly powerful, assertion of the evangelical doctrine of salvation, embodied in a searching, well-compacted, and thoroughly wrought-out refutation of the sacerdotal conception, as the underlying foundation on which the edifice of the indulgence traffic was raised. This is what Walther Köhler means when he declares that we must recognize this as the fundamental idea of Luther’s Theses: “the emancipation of the believer from the tutelage of the ecclesiastical institute”; and adds, “Thus God advances for him into the foreground; He alone is Lord of death and life; and to the Church falls the modest role of agent of God on earth – only there and nowhere else.” “The most far-reaching consequences flowed from this,” he continues; “Luther smote the Pope on his crown and simply obliterated his high pretensions with reference to the salvation of souls in this world and the next, and in their place set God and the soul in a personal communion which in its whole intercourse bears the stamp of interiorness and spirituality.” Julius Köstlin puts the whole matter with his accustomed clearness and balance – though with a little wider reference than the Theses themselves – when he describes the advance in Luther’s testimony marked by the indulgence controversy thus: “As he had up to this time proclaimed salvation in Christ through faith, in opposition to all human merit, so he now proclaims it also in opposition to an external human ecclesiasticism and priesthood, whose acts are represented as conditioning the imparting of salvation itself, and as in and of themselves, even without faith, effecting salvation for those in whose interests they are performed.” (more…)
In honor of Reformation Day on Sunday, October 31st, I am posting Luther’s 95 Theses over the next four days. I hope they will serve as a reminder of the significance of the Protestant Reformation that began with the hammer strike of this document to the Wittenburg church door in 1517. Meditate on these words and please remember that at the time of this writing Luther is still a Roman Catholic monk of the Augustinian order. (more…)
In this final post on the false teachings of Prosperity Pete I’m scrutinizing his outrageous claims about both man and God.
Quote: “Unbelief is more powerful than God in you.”
“some of you looked at me funny when I said ‘unbelief is more powerful than God in you’ – but I just read it to you. God was present but he was limited because of unbelief.”
Scripture proof given: “How oft did they provoke him in the wilderness, and grieve him in the desert! Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel” (Psalm 78: 40-41).
Let’s zoom out for second and take a look at this Psalm of Asaph as a whole. He sets out to show God’s faithfulness to unbelieving Israel throughout her inglorious history. Despite continual unbelief and unfaithfulness God preserves his people by his sovereign hand. At times he brings strong rebuke and chastens his people with judgment and wrath. God then shows his love and compassion by bestowing upon Israel abundant blessings that are totally undeserved. Rather than teaching that man can trump God with his unbelief and thwart his will this Psalm does just the opposite. It teaches the absolute sovereignty of God, that his providence extends over all human works and endeavors. On top of that, the Hebrew word for ‘limit’ can be interpreted various ways. Here are how some modern translations render it: (more…)
Here is the next post in this series exposing the false doctrines of a Word-Faith teacher who stopped by a local church just long enough to drop a full load of heresy on its unsuspecting congregants. I’m astounded that it’s been necessary for me to write five long articles debunking a handful of Prosperity Pete’s teachings from one single sermon – and I’m only dealing with a few selected quotes. If I determined to critique the entirety of the message my response would be novel-length. This is ludicrous! The doctrines I’ve defended should all be obvious to the discerning reader of God’s word. This is common sense, foundational level stuff, folks! But somebody has to do it. These teachers have ministries because they have followers, else they would have long since abandoned the occupation. So onward I press.
Quote: “Unbelief is more powerful than God in you.”
What truth? I don’t see any truth here, just one great damnable lie.
Man’s disposition of failing to trust upon the Lord who created him somehow overrides God’s ability to govern him. When put like this it sounds even more ludicrous. This idea stems from a typical Word-Faith teaching on the essence of faith itself. They have hijacked the term and completely redefined it. Faith isn’t an unshakable trust and tenacious clinging to God and all his promises. No, faith is a force, an internal power inherent in all humanity that can make things that are not as though they are. In other words, faith has creative power when spoken, just as creation came into existence when God spoke. (more…)
Prosperity Pete has an unhealthy obsession with the sin of unbelief. I’m almost convinced that he has a great affinity for it. He certainly treats it with a tremendous amount of respect. In his message I’m critiquing, he makes bold claims about the ‘power’ of our unbelief. First, let’s look at this statement just bursting at the seams with false claims:
Quote: “There is only one sin – unbelief. Everything else are lawless deeds. There is only one sin that cannot be forgiven – the sin of unbelief.”
Unbelief is a serious, grievous sin.
Unbelief is the only sin.
No. Not even close. 1 John 5:17 reads, “All wrongdoing is sin“. The apostle John earlier in the same epistle states, “sin is transgression of the law.” (3:4) Breaking God’s commands and doing evil of all kinds is sin. Unbelief, too, is sin. Not believing God certainly will lead one to transgress God’s laws, just as Adam and Eve chose to believe the serpent’s lie rather than God’s commands. Unbelief may be at the root of every sin committed, for our natural disposition believes the seductive whispers of sin rather than the promises of the written word of God and the voice of conscience. However, unbelief is not the sum total of all biblical sins. Nowhere in either the Old or New Testament can this claim be substantiated. Any want of conformity or transgression of God’s moral law is sin. Violating any of the Ten Commandments is a sin. If I look at a woman lustfully I’ve committed a sin. If I steal, lie or covet I’ve sinned. (more…)
In this post I will take selected quotes said by Prosperity Pete from Part 1 and break them down to determine if Scripture actually teaches these things.
First at bat:
Quote: “The devil is your adversary. Your enemy is ignorance. Never forget that. The devil is not your enemy, he’s your adversary… The word adversary just means ‘one who questions your identity’. The enemy can only destroy the ignorant.”
Devil does mean adversary. He is indeed our adversary in living a Christian life. Pete appropriately quotes from 1 Pet 5:8,which reads, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (more…)
Recently, a so-called gospel preacher came through our sleepy little town and stirred up a local congregation with rousing oratory, keen insight and splash of redneck charm. He’s a frequent guest to this church and I had been exposed to his teachings before via recorded messages. This happened at a time when God had graciously granted me new eyes of discernment. They were still adjusting to the light of truth in the aftermath of prolonged confinement in the bowels of the Word-Faith and Charismatic movement. I started making notes on elements of his message that didn’t appear to line up with scripture, but quickly abandoned the project. At the time I felt I was being too critical, so I backed down.
Well, fast forward a few years later. A close friend who attends the aforementioned church informed me that ‘Prosperity Pete’ was coming to town. He let me know in no uncertain terms that he would not be attending those services. When I asked why, he filled me in on some of his past teachings. This jogged my memory and I agreed that his teachings should be avoided like the plague. Neither of us attended his services. Unfortunately, curiosity bested me one afternoon and I visited that church’s website. They had posted Pete’s message online.
I made the tragic mistake of listening to it. (more…)
False teachers are a reality of the Christian church. Jesus Christ himself warned of their coming, as did the apostles throughout the New Testament epistles. False teachers and prophets have plagued the church since its inception. Scripture shows us that they will endure until the end of this present world system. False teachers are not simply a New Testament phenomenon. They plagued Israel throughout her troubled history.
The fact remains, false teachers walk among us, very likely within our own congregations. False professors, teachers and prophets will leach themselves to Christ’s visible church until the day he comes to gather his elect from every corner of the earth. If this is incontrovertible truth why do so many Christians pretend all is well in Zion? Why do we refuse to discern every message purporting to be gospel truth to determine if it is of God or not? Why are we not acting as good Bereans, searching out the scriptures to discern if that charismatic guest teacher flying through town this week is injecting poison into our spirits? Why do we not question his doctrine and theology before we ever grant him audience to our congregations? No, he usually gets a free pass, because he’s so likable and popular. Next thing you know he grabs a thick wad of greenbacks he just collected for a sermon well preached and bails for the next church down the road gullible enough to swing open its gates to the sheepfold. (more…)
Here’s another dish of tasty (but occasionally bitter) tidbits from around the Christian world. Enjoy!
Is the emphasis on numerical church growth putting too much pressure on pastors?
Al Mohler takes a look at the schism rocking the Anglican Communion
Reserve your room for the coming Armageddon!
Powerful quote from AW Pink with added 21st century techno-flair.
Kristine over at Justified interacts with Tim Keller’s teachings from Counterfeit Gods about spiritual adultery. Her prayer at the end of the article is worth printing out and tucking away in your bible for frequent reference in your prayer life. I did.
I’m not certain if this whole piece from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart is satire or if the ministers interviewed are for real. I dearly hope it’s all a joke.
Benny Hinn is grooming his heir apparent – 19-yr-old Manasseh Jordon. He’s got the anointing! Touch not God’s anointed!
Speaking of the Word-Faith movement – here’s an excellent visual demonstration of its theology in practice:
My carefully constructed religious edifice came under fierce attack some five years ago and suffered irreparable damage. The alarms of imminent collapse began reverberating through the dark corridors of my failing heart. Wave upon wave of relentless missile attacks crumbled the once stalwart marble pillars of my faith. The incoming warheads contained a volatile combination of sin and self-righteousness. Structural failure was inevitable. My religion had failed me; no longer could it support my overwhelming sense of failure. It could no longer assuage my feelings of guilt. I attempted to prop up the sagging ceiling with support columns of modern evangelical platitudes and aphorisms. They turned out to be hollow inside and buckled beneath the weight. The brick and mortar I had so meticulously hand-crafted disintegrated all around me in a resounding crash.
Exposed to the harsh elements of the wilderness I couldn’t help but gaze at the majesty of the heavens and contemplate my plight. Late one night in the midst of an intense spiritual malaise I raised my eyes to the stars and cried out in desperation, “Father help me, I’ve lost my way. I don’t measure up to your righteousness and I never will. I don’t know what to believe anymore. Please reveal to me the truth.” If ever I’ve been convinced that God hears and answers my prayers, that night crystallized the reality of it once and for all.
Yes, God heard me. I’m sure he had been waiting for this cry for deliverance for quite some time. After all, God is in the deliverance business. Salvation itself is defined as deliverance or rescue from danger. I have no doubt that through his sovereign power he had brought me to this fiery trial, carried me through the flames and now was in the process of treating all my grievous burns. (more…)
I’ve decided to introduce a new category here at A Peculiar Pilgrim on a whim, similar in vein to my ‘Random Ramblings’. While RR is a stream of consciousness about various goings-on in the world and in my personal life, ‘Across Christendom’ will simply be a collection of links to interesting and relevant articles, posts and quotes from across the Christian sphere that have captivated my ADD mind for more than the few milliseconds I usually spend on any given web page. Here are this week’s offerings:
Tim Challies invites you to take a quiz to determine if selected quotes come from Joel Osteen or a fortune cookie. Me? I scored 7 out of 12. I actually thought Joel said them all at one time or another…
A great quote from Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones about the wisdom (or lack thereof) of the commonly used practice of altar calls.
From the same blog, Lorraine Boettner explains the Gospel.
My good friend and theological cohort over at Spice Mines of Kessel has published the Revised Common Version of the bible. As the title suggests, it is a revised edition of Noah Webster’s 1833 Common Version, with updated words and phrases for easy readability. A free electronic version is available here. He’s worked hard on this project for the past couple of years, going through FIVE revisions! Check it out.
Albert Mohler examines a recent column by Washington Post journalist Kathleen Parker and her obvious disdain of the exclusivity of Jesus Christ as the only way of salvation.
I’ll try and do one of these late every week, but I know better than to make any promises. I’m sure you wouldn’t believe me if I did anyway…
Until next time.