Posts Tagged ‘the Word of God’
By Berit Kjos
Reason for Persecution: The Cross separates us from the world
“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you… If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you… because they do not know Him who sent Me.”
“These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. They will put you out of the synagogues [today it might be from churches]; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me. But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them.”
“I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.”
“And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased.”
Reasons for Persecution: Compromising leaders
“Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”
Following Jesus: Sharing in His suffering and promises
“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues….But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.”
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven….” For more, click here.
By Roger Oakland
While I am sometimes accused of being a “Catholic-basher,” this is not my desire, nor my intention. I have a number of Roman Catholic acquaintances, and I care for them very much. I also have a number of Evangelical and Protestant acquaintances, and I care about them equally as well. However, in both cases, if a true understanding of the Gospel according to the Scriptures is not present in their lives, then their views will not be biblical—it won’t matter what they call themselves. For the record, my desire is to follow Jesus Christ and His Word and no man, no matter who he is. Likewise, I desire my acquaintances to do the same. It is love, not hate, that motivates me to share the Gospel with them, for there is only one Gospel that truly saves.
Here is the view I promote. Saving faith hinges entirely on a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, not on an affiliation with a church body. To be born again is to die to the old life of living for self and sin and to be reborn of the Spirit of God when one acknowledges his inability to save himself but rather trusts in Christ alone and His death on the Cross to purchase our salvation.
Many Catholics do not realize that official Catholic teaching does not recognize the biblical Gospel of salvation by grace alone but adds to it the appendage of our merit and participation in the sacraments. By the same token, many Protestants do not realize the biblical faith that martyrs (the disciples, the reformers, etc.) lived and died for. Our hope of an eternal home in Heaven rests in Christ and Christ alone and is offered to all, who in child-like faith, receive Him.
I am not certain when I first realized that the Roman Catholic Church, particularly the Jesuits, were the root force behind the coming one-world religion. If I were pressed to come up with an original time, it would be difficult. Coming to this realization was more of a process for me. The Bible foretells the coming of the Harlot. G.S. McLean always instilled in me that the harlot was apostate Christianity. This I still believe is the proper definition.
Through writing New Wine and the Babylonian Vine, I could see that the final one-world religion will be a mix of all religions for the cause of peace. This will include a revival of ancient Babylonianism that will be rooted in the worship of creation, based on Darwinian evolution that is rooted in Hinduism and Buddhism. . . .
[I]t became increasingly apparent to me the role that the Roman Catholic “Mary” and the Roman Catholic “Jesus” will play in the final delusion to prepare the world for the Antichrist. . . . .
It was about 2000, the year before Bryce [my son] died, that I came across Pope John Paul’s agenda to promote the “New Evangelization.” This is an organized agenda to point the “faithful” and the “separated brethren” to realize that Jesus Christ is truly present in the Eucharist. This program, coupled with so-called apparitions from a woman claiming to be “Mary” the mother of Jesus, seems to be the impetus behind the coming one-world religion for peace that would be headquartered in Rome. . . .
I had already come to the conclusion that there is a Jesuit plan to bring the separated brethren back to the “Mother of all Churches” in other ways, particularly their “dove” (signs and wonders) plan.
Following my miraculous come-back to ministry after Bryce died, I not only finished New Wine and the Babylonian Vine but started writing the outline and then the book Another Jesus: The Eucharistic Christ and the New Evangelization to continue the warning during 2004. While I was writing this book, Mel Gibson suddenly became a Calvary Chapel-proclaimed saint with his Passion of the Christ. Chuck Smith viewed a portion of the film before it was released and endorsed the film. The Calvary Chapel movement jumped on the bandwagon. As would be expected, they followed “Pastor Chuck’s” leading. There were few voices against the movie. Understand The Times was one of those voices who dared speak up.
While I don’t intend to name the pastors who called me to task over my position on The Passion, let me say there were many who wanted me to keep silent. Support for the ministry of UTT dwindled. There are pastors who even part ways to this day over my stand. Mel Gibson’s Hollywood film with the Eucharistic Jesus and the evangelism that it contained became a sacred cow for Calvary Chapel. If someone spoke against it, he came under zealous attack, as if speaking against Mel Gibson’s movie was speaking against Jesus Christ Himself.
Nevertheless, the book was completed. Jim Tetlow helped me by writing an appendix, which explains that a wafer is a wafer and not literally Jesus’ flesh under the “appearance of bread” and that the Roman Catholic view of transubstantiation is not scriptural.
The book also warns about the coming lying signs and wonders that will occur associated with false appearances of the Eucharistic Jesus that are already underway. Coupled together with further lying signs and wonders, there will be appearances of an apparitional woman claiming to be “Mary” the mother of Jesus. We predicted that lying signs and wonders would impress Muslims because they have a special love for Mary—there is an entire chapter on Mary in the Koran. Most people don’t realize that.
In June of 2005, Paul Smith recommended that Another Jesus: The Eucharistic Christ and the New Evangelization be given out to the Calvary pastors at the annual senior pastors conference at Murrieta. As UTT did with New Wine and the Babylonian Vine, the books were donated through Calvary Distribution and handed out. In the back of the book is a commentary called “Passion Evangelism” that exposes Mel Gibson’s plan to win the world to the Eucharistic Christ.
By many accounts, the conference was deemed to be a watershed. A panel discussion one afternoon about Calvary basics ended up in a free-for-all. Greg Laurie led the way with Bob Coy in stand-up comedy. Things got serious when Greg Laurie chastised pastors for not participating in Harvest Crusades just because of his desire to be linked with Purpose Driven globalist pastor, Rick Warren. The only pastor who seemed to be in favor of studying the Bible instead of someone’s book was Mike Macintosh.
Many pastors left the meeting with a heavy heart. Mine was so heavy I decided to pack up my book table one afternoon and stay at my hotel. Later that evening while at the hotel, my cell phone started to ring. The messages were all the same sentiment: “You cannot believe what just happened!” one pastor from South Carolina cried out.
“This is heresy!” said another in an excited voice.
“What has happened to Calvary? Have we been seduced by the Jesuits?” asked another who called me. All this commotion was because Calvary Chapel pastor Jon Corson, who was to perform the communion service at the end of the meeting, turned it into a Eucharistic-style service.
After the conference, I wrote a letter from my heart to Chuck Smith. I expressed my deep love for him and for Calvary Chapel but also told him of my strong concerns. Here is some of what I said in that letter:
It is with a heavy heart that I must communicate to you that over the past several years, because of many firsthand encounters and experiences in various places with numerous Calvary Chapel pastors, that I have observed a change in the Calvary Chapel movement that deeply concerns me. Perhaps some of my concerns have filtered back to you through others. Until writing this letter, I have not formally contacted you with these concerns. I regret now that I have waited so long. After leaving the Pastors Conference in Murrieta this past week, I laid awake several nights contemplating what I should do or say. This letter is the result.
I explained to Chuck that while I knew there were Calvary Chapel churches that were staying true to God’s Word, there were many that were being influenced by another gospel. I gave him six points where serious error could be found. I want to list them here because every Christian denomination is being affected in these areas to one degree or another:
Ecumenical and unbiblical teachings are being endorsed for the cause of unity and church growth. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is being disguised to make it less offensive and more acceptable.
Churches that once taught the Bible faithfully verse by verse preparing the flock for the imminent return of Jesus Christ, now are looking for ways to make their services more seeker-friendly and are less concerned about the prophetic signs we are living in the last days.
Pastors and churches that once believed church growth was dependent on feeding the sheep and equipping the saved to share the Gospel, now promote humanistic means to draw in the masses based on a consumer style of evangelism focused on “finding out what people want” to “get them in the door.”
Churches once led by pastors committed to biblical truth, now are employing experts who use worldly principles borrowed from secular corporations with material goals for success. Rather than following Jesus and His Word, pastors and church leaders are looking to successful men and their methods so they can become part of a movement that is based on principles foreign to the Scriptures.
When church leaders promoting strategies to establish the Kingdom of God here on earth by humanistic methods are challenged by concerned believers warning about the dangers, the leaders label these believers as divisive. Contending for the faith is no longer considered biblical. A person taking a position for biblical truth is now accused of being critical of what others believe.
Bible-believing pastors who once taught the Bible are now looking for ways to attract people to their congregations by providing extra-biblical experiences [e.g. contemplative] and an atmosphere that includes candles, icons, incense, and the introduction of Roman Catholic sacraments. When concerned observers suggest this appears to be leading to a partnership with Roman Catholicism, they are considered to be negative opponents of the “new thing” God is doing to reach our generation.
I told Chuck that it was apparent to some that we are at another crossroads in church history, a fork in the road. I asked him if pastors were going to stand up and make their voices known if they have concerns about the direction current trends are leading. I reminded him, “While some say, don’t be negative—just be known for what you believe, not what you are against—the Old Testament prophets were outspoken when followers of God strayed away from the truths of God and never allowed the sheep to feel comfortable in their sin.”
Before coming to the 2005 Murrieta Conference, I had spoken at another conference in Tempe, Arizona called “Upon This Rock.” The theme of the conference was examining the claims of the Roman Catholic faith to see if they are biblically sound, and what role they play in the establishment of apostasy and the one-world religion that the Bible calls the Harlot.
This was the first time I had spoken publicly on “The Emerging Church.” By now, it had become apparent to me that the emerging church, an attempt to reach the postmodern generation by the present-day church, was another deceptive “road to Rome.”
During this conference in Phoenix, I gave actual examples of how Calvary Chapel was being drawn into the darkness from what once had been a position of light. While there were a few voices that were warning about this, they were in the wilderness and felt very much alone. They were also considered to be the crackpots, the ones causing division—and the ones who needed to be “marked” and disfellowshiped.
By now, I had enough ministry under my belt to know when the writing is on the wall. The writing in this case was very clear. I had stepped over the line. Consistent with my nature and my calling, I was not able to sit down and keep silent. My resistance was met with nasty e-mails, phone messages, and innuendos coming from people and places that I will refrain from mentioning.
For me, this was like adding fuel to a burning fire. It seemed the Lord was impressing upon me to start putting together an outline for a book. By the fall, I received an invitation to speak at a well-known conference in Dallas, Texas where I was asked to share the evidence that Bible-believing Christianity was under attack by apostates masquerading as brothers and sisters in Christ.
The outline for that presentation would become the outline for a book that I would call Faith Undone: the emerging church—a new reformation or an end time deception. . . . I completed the book, and in August of 2007, a small grassroots publishing house called Lighthouse Trails Publishing released the book.
Immediately, a firestorm was created. A copy of the book had been given to Chuck Smith; he in turn read several pages of the book from the pulpit on a Wednesday night study, but did not mention the source. Whether or not he was trying to protect me from the “wolves” in Calvary Chapel, I suppose I will never know. One of my friends, who is a pastor in Minnesota, heard Chuck’s message and announced on the Calvary pastors’ private web forum that Faith Undone should be read and discussed because Chuck Smith had quoted from it. This caused quite a stir on that forum. Of course, those for the emerging church were not for me. One responded that he had read the footnotes of Faith Undone, and that was all he needed to know that Roger Oakland was a heretic. . . .
Over the next few months, it became apparent that my days at “Big Calvary” were numbered. And why not? I had written several letters to Chuck Smith and Paul Smith (whom I had become close friends with). Paul told me that whenever he delivered some of these letters, Chuck would either say “Roger is too negative,” or he would just roll his eyes. I wondered if this was because of pressure he was receiving from members of his own family involved with the Peter Drucker agenda to influence Calvary Chapel. Whatever the case, apparently Chuck did not want to intervene and take sides. . . .
My efforts to counter the counter reformation by Rome led me to discover that my own fellowship of churches was not only being influenced by the very thing I was trying to expose and warn against, but some within the movement were working to discredit and harm me and the ministry of Understand The Times because I was trying to expose the error. This is an example of how Satan can lead astray Christian organizations once used by God without those in charge seeming to be aware. If they were aware, surely they would have done something about it. . . .
Satan certainly is clever in his tactics. He hates the light.
(Excerpt from Let There Be Light by Roger Oakland, from chapter 20)
By Maria Kneas
(from Strength for Tough Times)
David encouraged himself in the LORD his God. (1 Samuel 30:6)
After fighting the Amalakites, David and his men returned to Ziklag to find that their wives and children had been taken captive by their enemies, and their homes burned. As a result of this tragedy, David’s men turned against him.
And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God. (1 Samuel 30:6)
Immediately after this, there was a radical change in David’s men. Instead of stoning him, they followed him and overtook their enemies. They rescued their families and returned with animals and other plunder.
How could David, who was cornered, and about to be stoned to death, turn around and inspire these angry, grieving, tired men to successfully undertake this?
What brought about such a transformation in David and his men?
We can find some keys in the psalms, which record David’s prayer and worship. They show us how David encouraged himself in the Lord, and how we can do the same.
In Psalm 42, David talked to his soul (his mind, his will, and his emotions):
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance. (Psalm 42:5)
The term “cast down” is significant. David was a shepherd. A “cast” sheep is one that is unable to get back up on its legs. If the shepherd doesn’t find the sheep and help it get back on its feet, the sheep will die.
David says that his soul is like a cast sheep. He talks to his soul, telling it to get back up on its feet again, to hope in God, and to praise Him.
In Psalm 103, David tells his soul to bless the Lord. Then he reminds himself about God’s mercy and love and faithfulness:
Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Psalm 103:1-5)
At the end of the psalm, he exhorts all of God’s creatures to bless Him:
Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word. Bless ye the LORD, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure. Bless the LORD, all his works in all places of his dominion: bless the LORD, O my soul. (Psalm 103:20-22)
In Psalm 104, David tells his soul to bless the Lord:
Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty. (Psalm 104:1)
After that, he praises God for His might and His greatness. In the process, David reminds himself of reasons for blessing the Lord. Look at some of these reasons, and see why David was so compelled to praise the Lord:
Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain. (verse 2)
Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire. (verse 4)
Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever. (verse 5)
He sendeth the springs into the valleys, which run among the hills. (verse 10)
He watereth the hills from his chambers: the earth is satisfied with the fruit of thy works. (verse 13)
He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man. (verse 14)
The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats; and the rocks for the conies. (verse 18)
He appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knoweth his going down. (verse 19)
The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God. (verse 21)
Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth. (verse 30)
In Psalm 116, David tells why he loves the Lord, and he exhorts his soul to be at rest. Then he addresses God, giving some reasons for his gratitude:
Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee. For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. (Psalm 116:7-8)
Psalm 146 is another example of David exhorting his soul to praise God:
Praise ye the LORD. Praise the LORD, O my soul. While I live will I praise the LORD: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being. (Psalm 146:1-2)
(from Strength for Tough Times by Maria Kneas – encouragement for weary saints)
By Hussein Hajji Wario
Yahoo! Contributor Network
(courtesy True Discernment blog)
A controversy is brewing over three reputable Christian organizations, which are based in North America, whose efforts have ousted the words “Father” and “Son” from new Bibles. Wycliffe Bible Translators, Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) and Frontiers are under fire for “producing Bibles that remove “Father,” “Son” and “Son of God” because these terms are offensive to Muslims.”
Concerned Christian missionaries, Bible translators, pastors, and national church leaders have come together with a public petition to stop these organizations. They claim a public petition is their last recourse because meetings with these organizations’ leaders, staff resignations over this issue and criticism and appeals from native national Christians concerned about the translations “have failed to persuade these agencies to retain “Father” and “Son” in the text of all their translations.”
Biblical Missiology, a ministry of Boulder, Colorado-based Horizon International, is sponsoring the petition.
The main issues of this controversy surround new Arabic and Turkish translations. Click here to continue reading.
LTRP Note: Over the past ten years, we have talked, either through e-mail or by phone, to thousands of people. A good number of these people have come out of churches whose pastors have been trained in the seminaries and Christian colleges, which have, in large part (of course with some exceptions), become havens for unbiblical teachings. These ill-equipped, misled pastors have brought their unscriptural teachings with them to the churches. We have heard the stories from so many of our readers of Christians they know who became caught under the bondage of legalism, and then went to the opposite pole of turning grace into a license for sin. Many times when this happened, these confused Christians began practicing contemplative prayer and/or joined emerging churches, thinking these experiences were from God, especially when they compared them to their legalist backgrounds.
While we do not claim to be theologians here at Lighthouse Trails, we desire to address this issue in this short essay, with the hopes it may draw some back to the true living water that only Jesus Christ can give. Perhaps these words can alleviate some confusion to those who are held in bondage by either of these extremes.
“Come Back to the True Living Water”
By David Dombrowski
In previous articles, we have demonstrated how the Gospel is the greatest of all treasures. Throughout the ages, man has been out digging for treasure. From the earth, we have been able to extract much of the things that we prize most highly including silver, gold, diamonds, gems, metal ores for making innumerable things made of iron or steel, copper or brass, and aluminum, while massive amounts of oil and coal have been extracted propelling us into an industrialized world. Yet, the human heart remains empty, and only God can fill that void.
Scripture likens our need for the Gospel to our need for water. The psalmist wrote, “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God” (Psalm 42:1). And just as a deer is driven by thirst to drink of the cool water brooks, so we, like the psalmist, should hunger and thirst after God. But for most Christians in the Western world, that thirst drives us elsewhere, and what we attain never really satisfies because it is not the living water that is able to give us life and renew us.
The Gospel has been with us for a very long time, but of the world’s population, relatively few have chosen to dip into that water of life. The Scripture beckons, “the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17). Though the offer is made to all, there are so few who seem to listen. Consequently, so many choose to live in a perpetual drought, fearing the water of life that is able to save men’s souls.
Now, how long has the Gospel been with us? Paul tells us that Abraham received the Gospel:
And the scripture, forseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. (Galatians 3:8)
God made a covenant with Abraham based on a promise to send a “seed” (namely Christ), and in that seed, the promises would be fulfilled (see Galatians 3:16). It is here that a date is given of four hundred thirty years before God gave the Law to Moses. And while the date is of no real significance, what is significant is that the New Covenant (the Gospel) came before the Old Covenant (the Law). Paul’s letter to the Galatians vividly portrays how the Law was never given to save anyone; rather it was given to lead us to the Savior:
Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. (Galatians 3:24)
Abraham was justified by faith and faith alone as Paul recounts that “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness” (Galatians 3:6). Paul then emphatically states that no one is justified by the law when he says, “But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith” (Galatians 3:11, emphasis added). In fact, the Law was an impossible system for salvation because to break any of it even only once meant to break the whole Law:
For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. (Galatians 3:10)
James reiterates the power of the Law when he states: “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10). It is clear, therefore, that the Law has power, but not the power to save – unless of course a person keeps all of the Law, at every point, perfectly, and no one has ever done that (except Christ). The power of the Law is to show us that because of sin, our righteousness is as filthy rags and consequently we remain under the curse of the Law until we come to Christ. The Law demonstrates that, without question, we are in need of a Redeemer, and that is why in Old Testament law, lambs and bullocks were sacrificed year after year, not because they saved at all but because they served as a continual reminder of the need of a Savior who was to come. One teaching that is spread abroad today is that the Jews are exempt from the Gospel because God gave them the Old Testament. But if that were true Paul would not have written “no man is justified by the law in the sight of God” (Galatians 3:11). On the contrary, it was to the Jews first that the apostles preached the Gospel until later when God showed them that it was to be preached to the Gentiles also. The Gospel is for all people everywhere, Jew or Gentile. This is why the proclamation of the Gospel is so very important because, under God’s plan, the way of salvation comes in only one way.
For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise. (Galatians 3:18)
And when we think about it, the religions of the world think that we can be saved by our own goodness or that we already have God’s divinity within and consequently have no need of a Savior. But God chose to show Abraham a different way, and all who come to God must come to Him in the same way:
As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. (Genesis 17:4)
So, when God made Abraham a father of many nations, He made it clear that this covenant, based on faith in a promise (i.e., Christ the Redeemer), was to be available to all people everywhere. Then came the Law four hundred and thirty years later to direct everyone, like a schoolmaster, to their need of a Redeemer as it exposes our sinfulness. In this sense, the Law can be likened to the test equipment in a doctor’s office. After performing various tests, the doctor is able to identify a particular ailment, but the tests themselves have only exposed the problem and done nothing to render the cure. The doctor can then prescribe the proper medicine or refer the patient to a surgeon. Once that prescription or surgeon’s referral has been made, the patient is bound rather than cured by his doctor’s orders until the proper steps have been taken. Likewise, we remain bound under the curse of the Law until we come to Christ. Then He, as the Great Physician, cleanses us from our sin and imparts new life in us. That is why the Scripture says:
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
This is also why Jesus said to the Samaritan woman at the well:
Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. (John 4:13-14)
This woman was acquainted with the problem, but now she had found the cure.
Likewise, Jesus’ offer of “living water” (John 4:10) goes out to all people as He explained “whosoever” may come and drink of this water of life (Revelation 22:17). I find it rather puzzling, though, that while countless numbers from all over the world have found that water, many have the tendency to go back to the Law to find comfort and assurance there. Like the patient who is now cured but feels compelled to stay indefinitely in the doctor’s office or the hospital when all that doctor can really do is to test and prescribe. If the Great Physician has already cured us, why would we want to go back into the Law that was designed to diagnose but not to cure. Furthermore, the Law can never be fulfilled by adherence to a set of rules; that is why Paul said, “Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Romans 13:10). Somehow, we get to thinking that mechanically observing a set of rules pleases God, but God is concerned with the condition of our hearts. So, while we can fulfill the Law by love, we cannot do it by merely observing a set of rules. Like the patient holding the prescription, the Law is for those bound by sin, directing them to the Savior. The Law is good insomuch as it exposes our sin and brings us to our Savior, but it has no power to save. This is why Paul was so startled in hearing that the Galatians were going back into the Law and why he was compelled to write:
O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? (Galatians 3:1-3)
Contrary to what many might teach, Paul was not offering the Galatians a license to sin, but a fundamental truth of Scripture – that the Christian life can only be lived out as that well of living water springs up from our hearts. It is imperative, however, that we be found in Christ because Jesus alone is that well from which the springs of life flow.
Jesus is that well of living water, offered freely to whosoever will invite Him into their lives and hearts to be Lord and Savior. To the unbeliever, He is the invitation, “let him that is athirst come” (Revelation 22:17). To the new believer, He is that new life where, “old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). But to those who have known Christ for awhile, even a long while, He is the reminder to come back and be refreshed again to the only water that “shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14). When we partake of that water, it does us much good. And when we share that water with others, it does no harm to our neighbor. It is the only water that is clean and pure and flows from the throne of God.
Other recent articles by David Dombrowski:
By Roger Oakland
You may not have heard the term before, but contextual theology is a prominent message from the emerging church. In his book, Models of Contextual Theology(1992), Stephen B. Bevans defines contextual theology as:
…a way of doing theology in which one takes into account: the spirit and message of the gospel; the tradition of the Christian people; the culture in which one is theologizing; and social change in that culture, whether brought about by western technological process or the grass-roots struggle for equality, justice and liberation.1
In other words, the Bible in, and of itself, is not free-standing—other factors (culture, ethnicity, history) must be taken into consideration, and with those factors, the message of the Bible must be adjusted to fit. As one writer puts it, “Contextual theology aims at the humanization of theology.”2 But two questions need to be asked. First, will the contextualizing of Scripture cause such a twisting of its truth that it no longer is the Word of God, and secondly, is Scripture ineffective without this contextualization? To the first, I give a resounding yes! And to the second, an absolute no. The Word of God, which is an inspired work of the living Creator, is far more than any human-inspired book and has been written in such a way that every human being, rich or poor, man or woman, intelligent or challenged will understand the meaning of the Gospel message if it is presented in their native language; and thanks to the tireless work of missionaries for centuries, the Gospel in native languages is becoming a reality in most cultures today.
Dean Flemming is a New Testament teacher at European Nazarene College in Germany and the author of Contextualization in the New Testament. In his book, he defends contextual theology:
Every church in every particular place and time must learn to do theology in a way that makes sense to its audience while challenging it at the deepest level. In fact, some of the most promising conversations about contextualization today (whether they are recognized as such or not) are coming from churches in the West that are discovering new ways of embodying the gospel for an emerging postmodern culture. 3
These “churches in the West” Flemming considers “most promising” are the emerging churches. He would agree with Bevans’ model of theology, but he has an answer to the emerging church’s dilemma. He states:
Many sincere Christians are still suspicious that attempts to contextualize theology and Christian behavior will lead to the compromising of biblical truth … we must look to the New Testament for mentoring in the task of doing theology in our various settings.4
There’s good reason some Christians are suspicious. But it can seem harmless at first because Flemming suggests the answer is in the New Testament, which he believes should be used as a prototype or pattern rather than something for doctrine or theology. New Testament theology is always open for change, he says, but we can learn how to develop this change by studying New Testament stories and characters. The premise Flemming presents of contextualizing Scripture is that since cultures and societies are always changing, the Word must change with it and be conformed to these changes. But I would challenge this. The Bible says the Word is living, active, and powerful:
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)
And if the Word is this powerful, then it is stable and eternal as well. God, in His magnificence, is the Author of Scripture, and He surpasses time, culture, and societies. Contextualizing says people and cultures change, and therefore God’s Word must change. But, on the contrary, it’s people who need to change to conform to Scripture. If we really believe that the Bible is God’s Word, this would be clear to see; but if we think to ourselves that the Word is not infallible, not inspired, then contextualization would be the obvious expectation.
While certain parts of the Bible may be read as poetry (as Doug Pagitt and Phyllis Tickle suggest), for indeed the Bible is a beautifully written masterpiece, it is also a living mechanism that is not to be altered—rather it alters the reader’s heart and life. It is much more than putting words around people’s experiences as emergents suggest.
The Bible tells us God is always right; it is man who is so often wrong. When we rely upon human consensus, we will end up with man’s perspective and not God’s revelation. This is a dangerous way to develop one’s spiritual life—the results can lead to terrible deception.
Brian McLaren put it well when he admitted it isn’t just the way the message is presented that emerging church proponents want to change … it’s the message itself they are changing:
It has been fashionable among the innovative [emerging] pastors I know to say, “We’re not changing the message; we’re only changing the medium.” This claim is probably less than honest … in the new church we must realize how medium and message are intertwined. When we change the medium, the message that’s received is changed, however subtly, as well. We might as well get beyond our naïveté or denial about this.5
The Woman at the Well
If you listen to the emergent conversation long enough, you will hear a recurring theme: Christians are wrong to confront unbelievers head on with the Word of God. We should instead lay aside our desire to preach or share the truths from the Word and spend more time developing relationships and friendships with the unchurched (a politically correct name for unsaved). They often use Jesus as an example, saying He did not confront people but always accepted them for who they were.
One example is in Dan Kimball’s 2007 book, They Like Jesus but Not the Church. In his chapter titled “The Church Arrogantly Claims All Other Religions are Wrong,” Kimball refers to the story where Jesus is sitting near a well by Himself (the disciples have gone to the nearby town), and he talks to a Samaritan woman. Kimball alters the story by saying:
He [Jesus] stopped and asked questions of the Samaritan woman (John 4) and didn’t just jump in and say, “Samaritans are all wrong.”6
But Kimball is wrong. Jesus did the exact opposite! He didn’t ask her any questions, and He confronted her straight on—something Kimball says (throughout his book) is a terrible thing to do to an unbeliever. Listen to Jesus’ words to the woman:
Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
The woman saith unto him, I know that Messiah cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he. (John 4:21-26)
Kimball largely bases his premise on the reasoning that Christians should not do or say anything that might offend unbelievers, even if that anything is truth and Scripture.
The fact is, Jesus did confront people with the truth, as did His disciples (as well as the Old Testament prophets). And why did He? He told the woman at the well the reason:
Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. (John 4:10)
There is no question about it, the Word of God is offensive to the unbeliever just as I Corinthians 1:18 states:
For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
And again in II Corinthians 2:15-16, when Paul explains the attitude he encountered when witnessing to unbelievers:
For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life.
If Paul had been adjusting (contextualizing) the Word of God to fit the culture and context of the lives of those he spoke to, he would not have said “the aroma of death leading to death.” He took the spiritual state of these people very seriously, and he had full confidence that God’s Word, unaltered and unchanged, could reach into the heart and soul of any person who would receive Christ by faith. Whether a person is young, mentally challenged, or of a different culture or ethnic group, the Gospel is God’s Gospel, and He made it so that all who receive it by faith will understand His love and forgiveness and have eternal life. . . .
While reaching today’s generation for the cause of Christ is something we as Christians should all desire, we must remember Jesus Christ challenged us to follow Him and be obedient to His Word. Scripture commands us to “be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). But the emergents are leading followers in the opposite direction, teaching that the Word of God needs to be conformed to people and cultures instead of allowing it to conform lives through Jesus Christ. Reimagining Christianity allows a dangerous kind of freedom; like cutting the suspension ropes on a hot air balloon, the free fall may be exhilarating but the results catastrophic. (from chapter 3 of Faith Undone by Roger Oakland)
1. Stephen B. Bevans, Models of Contextual Theology (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, Seventh Printing, November 2000, http://www.cca.org.hk/resources/ctc/ctc94-02/1.Yuzon.html), p. 1.
2. Paul L. Lehmann, “Contextual Theology” (Theology Today, Princeton Theological Seminary, 1972, http://theologytoday.ptsem.edu/apr1972/v29-1-editorial2.htm).
3. Dean Flemming, Contextualization in the New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005), p. 14.
4. Ibid, pp. 14-15.
5. Brian McLaren, Church on the Other Side, op. cit., p. 68.
6. Dan Kimball, They Like Jesus but Not the Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007), p. 167.
By Roger Oakland
Chapter eight of the book of Ezekiel is a very revealing portion of the Bible when it comes to exposing the sins of spiritual leaders of Ezekiel’s day. The leaders were going about their ministries as usual believing their sins were hidden from the very sheep they were supposed to be leading and protecting. However, God sees all sin and showed the prophet Ezekiel through a vision their hidden sins. As we shall see, the unveiling of those sins, as recorded in the Word of God, were very revealing. God sees the true heart of man.
Further, this hole in the wall revelation is useful for understanding what is presently happening in the church. Considering the Bible teaches that history repeats itself, the Ezekiel revelation is very important in understanding how religious leaders covertly cover up sin. If the religious leaders of Israel covered their sins in the past and thought no one could see, what about the spiritual leaders now? Is it possible we will be able to uncover some parallels? The purpose of this commentary will be to show there is nothing new under the sun. Whatever has happened before, has, and will happen again.
With regard to the present, many facts prove the same sins of the past are being committed today. This shows that many so-called men of God, while respected by men, may have no fear of God. However, this does not fool God who sees all things. As in the past, God will expose the sins of the religious leaders in a public way today as He did in the past. If God revealed to Ezekiel what the religious leaders were doing then, it should be no great surprise that He would do the same for our generation.
Idol of Jealousy
The first clue to the sin scenario is the idol of jealousy that God revealed to Ezekiel in his vision. The idol of jealousy was located near the door of the inner gate that opened towards the north. This idol of jealousy is far more significant than you can imagine. While few spiritual leaders today would admit it, jealousy controls many of their ministries. They are driven by a desire to be someone great and respected. If someone crosses their path, they often see it as a threat to the building of their own kingdom. Those who may appear as a threat of being in competition with them have to be eliminated in some way. Leadership driven by jealousy is nt ministry at all; rather it is carnal and of the flesh, not of the Spirit. Often this type of leader has a way of demanding obedience, and as a result, cult mentality develops as a “follow me” leadership style of ministry is promoted. A ministry driven by jealousy and selfish ambition is accompanied by every evil thing according to James 3:14-15. This, of course, is not what God desires. Satan has cleverly deceived men into following after men, their methods and their movements. This follow-the-leader mentality has led many sheep astray. Click here to continue reading.
Written and compiled by Art K.
Introduction to a Study on The English Standard Version
First, why I compared the KJV to the ESV is because the ESV study Bible has received such high praise for being an excellent literal translation.
Second, in the Preface under “Translation Legacy” page 19, we read “The English Standard Version (ESV) stands in the classic mainstream of English Bible translations over the past half-millennium. The fountainhead of that stream was William Tyndale’s New Testament of 1526; marking the course were King James Version of 1611…” I understood this to mean that there would be a great similarity between the KJV and the ESV. What I found however, is that the ESV, is, in the majority of the references, very similar or the same as the NIV. This I find difficult to reconcile with the statement made in reference to the KJV.
Third, what motivated me to further compare the ESV to the KJV, was the very high praise that the ESV has received from so many people who are well versed in the field of bible translations. For example, John Piper calls it “a dream come true”? Please see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SlFsBdEkxMQ.
Fourth, what motivated me to examine the ESV Study Bible was what I read in the Introduction under the subtitle “Divine Words and Merely Human Words,” where it is written “The ESV Study Bible contains two kinds of words. The first kind is the actual of the Bible, which are the very words of God to us. These are printed in the larger font of each page. The second kind is the study notes, which are merely human words” page 9.
The problem is knowing which group of words to trust. The first group of words “the very words of God to us” in the ESV have so many omissions compared to the KJV that it creates serious doubt, not trust. If there are so many omissions in “the very words of God” in the ESV, how can we have confidence in the “words of men,” in the explanation?
Before we accept this translation as “a dream come true,” we need to examine the ESV bible carefully and ponder the words of Jesus, “And Jesus answered and said unto them, ‘Take heed that no man deceive you.’” Mt. 24:4 Click here to read this entire document.