LIGHTHOUSE TRAILS RESEARCH              April 29, 2015      LIGHTHOUSE TRAILS PUBLISHING

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Letter to the Editor: Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) Handing Out Jesus Calling And Saying, “There are no wrong answers.”

Dear Lighthouse Trails:

I had a conversation with your office the week of January 15, 2015 voicing my concerns and experiences with BSF [Bible Study Fellowship]. I have been a faithful attendee for six years.

I have had some concerns about BSF in the last several years. These include but are not limited to:

1) The use of the NIV Bible with the use of commentaries forbidden.

2) There are no wrong answers, my leader this year continually stated “it is all good.”

3) Having a class in the host church library and seeing the shelves laden with the current “Christian” Best sellers.

4) The mention of the Message Bible by two leaders. At one of our fellowships leader’s home she was asked to recommend which Bible to buy by a group member. The leader pulled out a stack of Bibles, including the Message, and explained that “it is a modern translation.”

5) The lecture leader at a fellowship three years ago telling us “seasoned” ladies not to get frustrated and leave because the format of the notes was going to change to bring in the younger people. There has been a noticeable change with what I would call a “dumbing down” of the notes.

6) People in the groups I have become acquainted with are clearly involved in wrong teaching, such as The Daniel Plan, Joyce Meyers, Purpose driven and seeker sensitive churches. BSF has started a lecture teaching of “How to get involved in your church.” Of note, we are not taught to seek a true Bible-preaching church but rather to “get involved in your church.”

7) Two years ago in class, a member voiced the belief that there is opportunity after death to make a decision for Christ, no question or correction by the leader followed the statement. There are “no wrong answers.”

Then the incident that drove me to quit BSF occurred in December of 2014. At the end of our small group meeting, our leader handed out gifts to each lady. I was astonished to see we were all given the Jesus Calling Devotional. I had read several of Warren B. Smith’s books so I was aware of the New Age making its way into the church. I was greatly troubled by this for two reasons:

1) There is to be no discussion of any outside books,

2) and the New Age contemplative prayer of the author, Sarah Young. To say the least, I was greatly troubled.

I e-mailed Warren Smith, and he suggested I read his book regarding this book and also go on Lighthouse Trails’ research website. I ordered and read the book, “Another Jesus” Calling. During the Christmas break, I sent an e-mail to my BSF group voicing confusion and concern. I received a reply that my e-mail had been forwarded to the lecture leader.

In January of 2015, my small group leader called me to inquire if I was coming to class the next day and attend class fellowship. I told her I would not be returning because I was deeply troubled by her giving out the book. She voiced surprise because she had been given the book several years ago by a mentor and never questioned it. I have sent her booklets I had purchased about the book as well as about the Message Bible. She was clearly bothered by my response and did concede that she had done no research on[Jesus Calling] and was wrong to give them out.

Later in the month, I received an e-mail from the BSF secretary that the lecture leader wishes to talk to me after the class on the first week of February. This response came approximately six weeks after my e-mail voicing my concern. I did meet with the lecture leader who was supportive and voiced that what my leader had done was wrong and it caused many discussions in the leaders group. She told me they needed me because of my wisdom and discernment. I struggled with making a decision to return or not. Finally on February 23, while listening to a Christian discernment radio discussion centered on Christians coming together for a joint reason, one of the pastors said “If you are not believing the same thing, you are not in fellowship. You are partaking in false unity.” Finally I could put words to my struggle.

As I have prayed and studied the BSF format, an old movie came to mind. The movie is the 1970s Stepford Wives. Like that movie, we are taught not to question anything because there are no wrong answers. I know from my own personal study that there were wrong answers given. We are told to get involved in our churches, not question if the churches we are involved in are teaching truth.

I will not return to class, but it is with great sadness that I see the church, the Body of Christ, being deceived. 1 Corinthians 5:6: “Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?” I am grateful for the ministry of Lighthouse Trails. It is dangerous out here in the “Christian world.”

Forgive me for going on and on, I feel I need to share some of my history. I was raised Catholic, went to college, and got my MSW degree, just as Warren Smith has. I worked as a counselor; my last job was as a “Christian Counselor.” I was fired from that position in 2009, because of “lack of respect for management.” I did not realize at the time it was the hand of God. Since then, I have had to seriously repent of committing spiritual adultery. Psychology is man’s way to fix the exterior of man. I now strive to walk in God’s truth. I see the church has embraced the things of the world.

Thank you for your ministry. I am committed to pray for you daily. May God bless you as you seek to bring us the Truth. I just finished rereading my Jan-Feb newsletter. Thank you.

A sister in Christ,

D.M.

Related Articles:

Is BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) Heading in the Contemplative Direction?  

Bible Study Fellowship Women Respond to Lighthouse Trails Article

Letter to the Editor: “Awakening America Alliance” Brings SBC President Ronnie Floyd Together with New Age Roma Downey

TO LIGHTHOUSE TRAILS:

I’m sending you this e-mail (see below) that I got from the “Awakening America Alliance” about their recent biennial “RESET SUMMIT” held in Atlanta, Georgia.

“Awakening America Alliance” states this as their ultimate goal: “The Alliance’s ultimate goal is serving kingdom initiatives for spiritual awakening and missional living. The Reset Summit is a part of their pursuit of a fresh Christ-Awakening across the nation—in every state, every county, every church, and every heart. Gathering leaders from these various spheres of influence not only builds relationships, but reflects one of their foundational principles—“history is transformed among friends.”

I am sending you this because I noticed that participants included Roma Downey (and husband Mark Burnett)! This is a conference for national Christian leaders, and Ronnie Floyd (President of the Southern Baptist Convention) along with other denominational prayer and church leaders participated. What is Roma Downey doing at a National Christian Leader’s conference for an American “spiritual awakening”?

I am concerned over Roma Downey’s growing influence over evangelical Christians, and what seems to be her public role in helping Christians supposedly gain influence or reclaim “dominion” over the “Arts and Entertainment” mountain of the  “7 Cultural Mountains”. (See–http://www.7culturalmountains.org/). Lance Wallnau, Os Hillman, C.Peter Wagner are all proponents of this.

Please see Herescope blog posts: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2010/06/seven-mountains.html http://herescope.blogspot.com/2010/09/next-great-awakening_20.html.

Roma Downey’s (and her husband Mark Burnett’s) recent and growing projects are gathering great momentum, sadly among evangelical Christians. As you well know and have warned about, her projects include creating the “A.D.” miniseries currently airing on NBC, which is not even remotely accurate to the Bible. She and husband Mark Burnett were also executives of the recently released Roman Catholic, mystical film : “Little Boy: Believe the Impossible” (See Facebook page link with trailer–https://www.facebook.com/littleboymovie).

I’m sending you this email so you can hopefully keep warning your readers about the unbiblical teachings and associations of Roma Downey and the promotion and embracing that evangelical leaders are giving her.

In Christ,

Concerned in California

Reset America Summit Unites National Leaders

The Awakening America Alliance recently hosted their bi-annual Leadership Summit in Atlanta, Georgia. The summits emphasize:

  • Strategic Planning and Development of Preach2Engage Initiatives
  • Relational Connecting and Encouragement for National Leaders and Spouses
  • United Ministry Engagement around a Contemporary Spiritual Awakening

General Sessions introduced fresh ideas and inspired the group of key leaders with speakers from the arenas of denominational leadership, next-generation evangelism, faith-based media, and prayer ministry. Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, Producers of A.D. The Bible Continues, and Ronnie Floyd, President of the Southern Baptist Convention joined the group via video conferencing. (Click here to view Mark and Roma’s greeting.)

Strategic Planning and Prayer Breakout sessions convened for strategic planning and united prayer, targeting the Awakening indicators. Georgia Ministry Leaders, led by David Franklin, gathered to plan and pray for the May 7th National Day of Prayer efforts.   Denominational and Prayer Leaders, led by David Ferguson, joined in a Solemn Assembly as a pre-curser to calling their constituency to Solemn Assemblies across the nation on Pentecost Sunday, May 16, 2016. Kay Horner facilitated a session with Awakening Imperative Leaders, who were encouraged as the group shared a powerful time of prayer for their respective ministries and celebrated the flash points of revival God is sending.  Click here to continue reading this article.

 

Letter to the Editor: “Awakening America Alliance” Brings SBC President Ronnie Floyd Together with New Age Roma Downey
NEW BOOKLET TRACT: What is the Gospel? by Harry A. Ironside
Let Us Pray for the People in Nepal

America in Crisis—Bathroom Privacy Initiative in California

How Do I Find a Good Biblical Church?
New Slideshow from Bryce Homes in Kenya
Amy Grant Joins Catholic “Sisters” as “Thousands Flock to Michigan for Faith-filled Family Concert”
Understanding the Labyrinth
Shepherd's Bible Verse Tea - Spring Bulk Tea SALE
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NEW BOOKLET TRACT: What is the Gospel? by Harry A. Ironside

What is the Gospel? by Harry A. Ironside is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet Tract. The Booklet Tract is 14 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklet Tracts are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use.  Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of What is the Gospel?, click here. 

What is the Gospel? by Harry IronsideWhat is the Gospel?

by Harry A. Ironside

 

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the Gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures. (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)

It might seem almost a work of supererogation to answer a question like this. We hear the word, “Gospel” used so many times. People talk of this and of that as being “as true as the Gospel,” and I often wonder what they really mean by it.

Our English word, “gospel” just means the “good spell,” and the word “spell,” is the old Anglo-Saxon word for, “tidings,” the good tidings, the good news. The original word translated. “Gospel,” which we have taken over into the English with little alteration is the word, “evangel,” and it has the same meaning, the good news. The Gospel is God’s good news for sinners. The Bible contains the Gospel, but there is a great deal in the Bible which is not Gospel.

First I should like to indicate what it is not.

THE GOSPEL IS…

Not The Commandments

The Gospel is not just any message from God telling man how he should behave. “What is the Gospel?” I asked a man this question some time ago, and he answered, “Why I should say it is the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount, and I think if a man lives up to them he is all right.”

Well, I fancy he would be; but did you ever know anybody who lived up to them? The Sermon on the Mount demands a righteousness which no unregenerate man has been able to produce. The law is not the Gospel; it is the very antitheses of the Gospel. In fact, the law was given by God to show men their need for the Gospel.

“The law,” says the apostle Paul, speaking as a Jewish convert, “was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. But after that Christ is come we are no longer under the schoolmaster.”

Not Repentance

The Gospel is not a call to repentance, or to amendment of our ways, to make restitution for past sins, or to promise to do better in the future. These things are proper in their place, but they do not constitute the Gospel; for the Gospel is not good advice to be obeyed, it is good news to be believed. Do not make the mistake then of thinking that the Gospel is a call to duty or a call to reformation, a call to better your condition, to behave yourself in a more perfect way than you have been doing in the past.

Not Giving Up The World

Nor is the Gospel a demand that you give up the world, that you give up your sins, that you break off bad habits, and try to cultivate good ones. You may do all these things, and yet never believe the Gospel and consequently never be saved at all.

There are seven designations of the Gospel in the New Testament, but over and above all these, let me draw your attention to the fact that when this blessed message is mentioned, it is invariably accompanied by the definite article. Over and over and over again in the New Testament we read of the Gospel. It is the Gospel, not a Gospel. People tell us there are a great many different Gospels; but there is only ONE.

When certain teachers came to the Galatians and tried to turn them away from the simplicity that was in Christ Jesus by teaching “another Gospel, “the apostle said that it was a different gospel, but not another; for there is none other than the Gospel. It is downright exclusive; it is God’s revelation to sinful man.

Not Comparative Religion

The scholars of this world talk of the Science of Comparative Religions, and it is very popular now-a-days to say, “We cannot any longer go to heathen nations and preach to them as in the days gone by, because we are learning that their religions are just as good as ours, and the thing to do now is to share with them, to study the different religions, take the good out of them all, and in this way lead the world into a sense of brotherhood and unity.”

So in our great universities and colleges, men study this Science of Comparative Religions, and they compare all these different religious systems one with another. There is a Science of Comparative Religions, but the Gospel is not one of them. All the different religions in the world may well be studied comparatively, for at rock bottom they are all alike; they all set man at trying to earn his own salvation.

They may be called by different names, and the things that men are called to do may be different in each case, but they all set men trying to save their own souls and earn their way into the favor of God. In this they stand in vivid contrast with the Gospel, for the Gospel is that glorious message that tells us what God has done for us in order that guilty sinners maybe saved.

The seven designations of the Gospel are called—

1. The Gospel Of The Kingdom

When I use that term, I am not thinking particularly of any dispensational application but of this blessed truth that it is only through believing the Gospel that men are born into the Kingdom of God; We sing: “A ruler once came to Jesus by night, To ask Him the way of salvation and light; The Master made answer in words true and plain, ‘ye must be born again.’ “But neither Nicodemus, nor you, nor I, could ever bring this about ourselves.”

We had nothing to with our first birth and can have nothing to do with our second birth. It must be the work of God, and it is wrought through the Gospel. That is why the Gospel is called the Gospel of the Kingdom, for, “Except a man be born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God” (John 3:3, 7). “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever. . . And this is the word which by the Gospel is preached unto you” (1 Peter 1:23-25).

Everywhere that Paul and his companion apostles went, they preached the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, and they showed that the only way to get into that Kingdom was by a second birth, and that the only way whereby the second birth could be brought about was through believing the Gospel. It is the Gospel of the Kingdom.

2. The Gospel Of God

It is also called the Gospel of God because God is the source of it, and it is altogether of Himself. No man ever thought of a Gospel like this. The very fact that all the religions of the world set man to try to work for his own salvation indicates the fact that no man would ever have dreamed of such a Gospel as that which is revealed in this Book. It came from the heart of God; it was God who “so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He first loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:9,10)

And because it is the Gospel of God, God is very jealous of it. He wants it kept pure. He does not want it mixed with any of man’s theories or laws; He does not want it mixed up with religious ordinances or anything of that kind. The Gospel is God’s own pure message to sinful man. God grant that you and I may receive it as in very truth the Gospel of God. And then it is called

3. The Gospel Of His Son

Not merely because the Son went everywhere preaching the Gospel, but because He is the theme of it. “When it pleased God,” says the apostle, “who called me by His grace, to reveal His Son in me that I might preach Him among the nations; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood” (Galatians 1:15,16). “We preach Christ crucified . . . the power of God, and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:23, 24). No man preaches the Gospel who is not exalting the Lord Jesus.

It is God’s wonderful message about His Son. How often I have gone to meetings where they told me I would hear the Gospel, and instead of that I have heard some bewildered preacher talk to a bewildered audience about everything and anything, but the Lord Jesus Christ. The Gospel has to do with nothing else but Christ. It is the Gospel of God’s Son. And so, linked with this it is called:

4. The Gospel Of Christ

The apostle Peter preaching on the day of Pentecost of the risen Savior, says, “God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). And He speaks of Him as the anointed One, exalted at God’s right hand. The Gospel is the Gospel of the Risen Christ. There would be no Gospel for sinners if Christ had not been raised.

So the apostle says, “If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17). A great New York preacher, great in his impertinence, at least, said some years ago, preaching a so-called Easter sermon, “The body of Jesus still sleeps in a Syrian tomb, but His soul goes marching on.” That is not the Gospel of Christ. We are not preaching the Gospel of a dead Christ, but of a living Christ who sits exalted at the Father’s right hand, and is living to save all who put their trust in Him.

That is why those of us who really know the Gospel never have any crucifixes around our churches or in our homes. The crucifix represents a dead Christ hanging languid on a cross of shame. But we are not pointing men to a dead Christ; we are preaching a living Christ. He lives exalted at God’s right hand, and He saves all who come to God by Him.

5. The Gospel of the Grace of God

The Gospel is also called the Gospel of the Grace of God because it leaves no room whatsoever for human merit. It just brushes away all man’s pretension to any goodness, to any desert excepting judgment. It is the Gospel of grace, and grace is God’s free unmerited favor to those who have merited the very opposite. It is as opposite to works as oil is to water.” If by grace,” says the Spirit of God, “then it is no more works . . . but if it be of works, then is it no more grace” (Romans 11:6). People say, “But you must have both.”

I have heard it put like this: there was a boatman and two theologians in a boat, and one was arguing that salvation was by faith and the other by works. The boatman listened, and then said, “Let me tell you how it looks to me. Suppose I call this oar Faith and this one Works. If I pull on this one, the boat goes around; if I pull on this other one, it goes around the other way, but if I pull on both oars, I get you across the river.”

I have heard many preachers use that illustration to prove that we are saved by faith and works. That might do if we were going to Heaven in a rowboat, but we are not. We are carried on the shoulders of the Shepherd, who came seeking lost sheep When He finds them He carries them home on His shoulders.

But there are some other names used. It is called:

6. The Gospel of the Glory of God

I love that name. It is the Gospel of the Glory of God because it comes from the place where our Lord Jesus has entered. The veil has been rent, and now the glory shines out; and whenever this Gospel is proclaimed, it tells of a way into the glory for sinful man, a way to come before the Mercy Seat purged from every stain. It is the Gospel of the Glory of God, because, until Christ had entered into the Glory, it could not be preached in its fullness, but, after the glory received Him, then the message went out to a lost world.

7. The Everlasting Gospel

It is also called the Everlasting Gospel because it will never be superseded by another. No other ever went before it, and no other shall ever come after it. One of the professors of the University of Chicago wrote a book in which he tried to point out that some of these days Jesus would be superseded by a greater teacher; then He and the Gospel that He taught would have to give way to a message which would be more suited to the intelligence of the cultivated men of the later centuries.

No, no, were it possible for this world to go on a million years, it would never need any other Gospel than this preached by the apostle Paul and confirmed with signs following; the Gospel, which throughout the centuries has been saving guilty sinners.

THE GOSPEL DECLARED

What then is the content of this Gospel? We are told right here:

I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:1-2)

There is such a thing as merely believing with the intelligence and crediting some doctrine with the mind when the heart has not been reached. But wherever men believe this Gospel in real faith, they are saved through the message.

What is it that brings this wonderful result? It is a simple story, and yet how rich, how full. “I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received” (1 Corinthians 15:3). I think Paul’s heart must have been stirred as he wrote those words, for he went back in memory to nearly thirty years before and thought of that day when hurrying down the Damascus turnpike, with his heart filled with hatred toward the Lord Jesus Christ and His people, he was thrown to the ground, and a light shone, and he heard a voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” And he cried, “Who art thou Lord?” And the voice said, “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.” (Acts 9:4-5)

And that day Saul learned the Gospel; he learned that He who died on the Cross had been raised from the dead, and that He was living in the Glory. At that moment, his soul was saved, and Saul of Tarsus was changed to Paul, the Apostle. And now he says, “I am going to tell you what I have received; it is a real thing with me, and I know it will work the same wonderful change in you. If you will believe it. “First of all, “That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.” Then, “that He was buried.” Then, “that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”

The Gospel was no new thing in God’s mind. It had been predicted throughout the Old Testament times. Every time the coming Savior was mentioned, there was proclamation of the Gospel. It began in Eden when the Lord said, “The seed of the woman shall bruise thy head.” It was typified in every sacrifice that was offered. It was portrayed in the wonderful Tabernacle and later in the Temple.

We have it in the proclamation of Isaiah:

He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon Him: and with His stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)

It was preached by Jeremiah when he said, “This is His Name whereby He shall be called, the Lord our Righteousness” (Jeremiah 23:6). It was declared by Zechariah when he exclaimed, “Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones” (Zechariah 13:7).

All through the Old Testament, the Gospel was predicted, and when Jesus came, the Gospel came with Him. When He died, when He was buried, and when He rose again, the Gospel could be fully told out to a poor lost world. Observe, it says, “that Christ died for our sins.” No man preaches the Gospel, no matter what nice things he may say about Jesus, if he leaves out His vicarious death on Calvary’s Cross.

CHRIST’S DEATH—NOT HIS LIFE

I was preaching in a church in Virginia, and a minister prayed, “Lord, grant Thy blessing as the Word is preached tonight. May it be the means of causing people to fall in love with the Christ-life, that they may begin to live the Christ-life.” I felt like saying, “Brother, sit down; don’t insult God like that;” but then I felt I had to be courteous, and I knew that my turn would come, when I could get up and give them the truth. The Gospel is not asking men to live the Christ-life.

If your salvation depends upon your doing that, you are just as good as checked for Hell, for you never can live it in yourself. It is utterly impossible. But the very first message of the Gospel is the story of the vicarious atonement of Christ. He did not come to tell men how to live in order that they might save themselves; He did not come to save men by living His beautiful life. That, apart from His death, would never have saved one poor sinner. He came to die; He “was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death” (Hebrews 2:9).

Christ Jesus gave Himself a ransom for all. When He instituted the Lord’s Supper He said, “Take, eat: this is My body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of Me. . . This cup is the new covenant in My Blood” (1 Corinthians 11:24, 25). There is no Gospel if the vicarious death of Jesus is left out, and there is no other way whereby you can be saved than through the death of the blessed spotless Lamb of God.

Someone says, “But I do not understand it.” That is a terrible confession to make, for “If our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: (2 Corinthians 4:3). If you do not see that there is no other way of salvation for you, save through the death of the Lord Jesus, then that just tells the sad story that you are among the lost. You are not merely in danger of being lost in the Day of Judgment; but you are lost now. But, thank God, “the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10), and seeking the lost He went to the Cross.

None of the ransomed ever know

How deep were the waters crossed;

Nor how dark was the night that the Lord passed through,

Ere He found the sheep that was lost.1

 

THE NECESSITY OF DEATH

He had to die, to go down into the dark waters of death, that you might be saved. Can you think of any ingratitude more base than that of a man or woman who passes by the life offered by the Savior who died on the Cross for them? Jesus died for you, and can it be that you have never even trusted Him, never even come to Him and told Him you were a poor, lost, ruined, guilty sinner; but since He died for you, you would take Him as your Savior? HIS DEATH WAS REAL.

He was buried three days in the tomb. He died, He was buried, and that was God’s witness that it was not a merely pretended death, but He, the Lord of Life, had to go down into death. He was held by the bars of death for those three days and nights until God’s appointed time had come.

Then, “Death could not keep its prey, He tore the bars away.”2 And so the third point of the Gospel is this: He was raised again the third day according to the Scriptures. That is the Gospel, and nothing can be added to that. Some people say, “Well, but must I repent?” Yes, you may well repent, but that is not the Gospel. “Must I not be baptized?” If you are a Christian, you ought to be baptized, but baptism is not the Gospel. Paul said, “Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel” (1 Corinthians 1:17).

He did baptize people, but he did not consider that was the Gospel, and the Gospel was the great message that he was sent to carry to the world. This is all there is to it.

 Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures . . . he was buried, and . . . he rose again the third day according to the scriptures. (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)

 

THE GOSPEL ACCEPTED

Look at the result of believing the Gospel. Go back to verse two of 1 Corinthians 15: “By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.” That is, if you believe the Gospel, you are saved; if you believe that Christ died for your sins, that He was buried, and that He rose again, God says you are saved. Do you believe it? No man ever believed that except by the Holy Ghost. It is the Spirit of God that overcomes the natural unbelief of the human heart and enables a man to put his trust in that message.

And this is not mere intellectual credence, but it is that one comes to the place where he is ready to stake his whole eternity on the fact that Christ died, and was buried, and rose again. When Jesus said, “IT IS FINISHED,” the work of salvation was completed. A dear saint was dying, and looking up, he said, “It is finished; on that I can cast my eternity.”

Upon a life I did not live,

Upon a death I did not die;

Another’s life, another’s death,

Is take my whole eternity.3

Can you say that, and say it in faith?

THE GOSPEL REJECTED

What about the man who does not believe the Gospel? The Lord Jesus said to His disciples:

Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. (Mark 16:15-16)

He that believeth not shall be devoted to judgment, condemned, lost. So you see, God has shut us up to the Gospel. Have you believed it? Have you put your trust in it; is it the confidence of your soul?

Or have you been trusting in something else? If you have been resting in anything short of the Christ who died, who was buried, who rose again, I plead with you, turn from every other fancied refuge, and flee to Christ today. “Repent ye, and believe the Gospel” (Mark 1:15).

 O, do not let the word depart,

And close thine eyes against the light;

Poor sinner, harden not thy heart,

Be saved, O tonight.4

To order copies of What is the Gospel?, click here. 

Endnotes:

1. Elizabeth C. Clephane, 1830-1869; The Ninety and Nine

2. Robert Lowry, 1826-1899; Up From the Grave He Arose

3. Horatius Bonar, 1808-1889; Upon a Life I Did Not Life

4. Elizabeth Holmes Reed, 1794-1867; Oh Why Not Tonight?

Harry A. Ironside (1876-1951)

Dr. Ironside was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. His writings are in the public domain. Visit www.harryironside.com to read more by Dr. Ironside. To order copies of What is the Gospel?, click here. 

Let Us Pray for the People in Nepal

Photo: A Nepalese man and woman hold each other in Kathmandu’s Durbar Square (AFP Photo/Prakash Mathema)

During this time of national tragedy in Nepal, let us pray for the people in that country. May many turn to the Lord Jesus Christ in their suffering and loss. And may biblical believers in Christ in Nepal be able to share the Gospel with those who are in need.

“And he [Jesus] said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15)

“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the Gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures.” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)

 

 

America in Crisis—Bathroom Privacy Initiative in California
LTRP Note: Posted for informational purposes.

SACRAMENTO /Christian Newswire/ — Privacy advocates have taken the first step to prohibiting unwanted intrusions in California bathrooms, showers and locker rooms. Privacy For All has submitted language to California elections officials to place the Personal Privacy Protection Act on the 2016 ballot.

If approved by California voters, the Personal Privacy Protection Act requires that individuals “use facilities in accordance with their biological sex in all government buildings”. The proposed initiative does not require private businesses to maintain sex separated facilities, but protects these businesses from legal action if they do require employees and patrons to “use facilities in accordance with their biological sex.”

“We have great compassion for any person that is uncomfortable in traditional, sex separated facilities.

But we also want to protect the privacy that most of us expect when we are in public bathrooms, showers and dressing areas” said Gina Gleason, a proponent of the initiative. Click here to continue reading.

 

 

Reprint: How Do I Find a Good Biblical Church?

We have often been asked, “How do I find a good Bible-believing church?” There are many believers who are struggling to find one in their own communities. We usually recommend they make phone calls to potential churches and ask a few concise questions such as:

“Do you have a Spiritual Formation program at your church?” or “Has your church implemented aspects of the Purpose Driven Movement anytime in the past 10 years?.”

Since thousands of churches would answer yes to both or at least one of these questions, they are worthwhile to ask, and it would certainly narrow down the scope of one’s search. Here are a few other questions that could be asked:

1. Is the pastor using The Message “Bible” in his sermons and studies? Because this paraphrase is very often used by pastors and teachers who promote contemplative spirituality or emerging spirituality (as the language in The Message helps support these false teachings), it is another indicator that a church is going in the wrong direction.

2. Is the church affiliated in any way with the Willow Creek Association? Oftentimes, a church has not implemented the Purpose Driven Movement but is, rather, hooked up with Willow Creek. This is as problematic as Purpose Driven. See our article on our website titled, “No Repentance from Willow Creek—Only a Mystical Paradigm Shift.”

3. Ask a potential church if it would mind mailing you a few recent Sunday programs. When you get them, look for some of the key terms used within the contemplative/emerging camp: missional, servant leader, soul-care, spiritual formation, transformation, transitioning, silence, organic, authentic, reinvent, spiritual disciplines, Christ follower (the term Christian isn’t typically liked too well by contemplatives and emergent) Christian formation (or Christian spirituality) (a term often meaning the same as Spiritual Formation). Just using these terms alone doesn’t suddenly make a church contemplative or emerging, but it does show that at least one person in leadership at that church is reading books of that persuasion, and eventually that person’s influence will affect that church adversely.

In addition to those three questions, be sure and visit a church’s website as there you may be able to find the answers to these questions without making the phone call. When on a website, see if there is more talk about “culture” and relevancy than about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You can check out the doctrinal and mission statements but be on guard—a church can have a solid-sounding doctrinal statement and be actually going in an entirely different direction. Listen to our CD Beware the Bridgers for some information on that. And by the way, remember who some of the more popular ”bridgers” are, closing the gap between “rightly dividing the Word” and spiritual deception in millions of people’s lives: Beth Moore, Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, John Piper, etc.—those who claim to be orthodox biblical Christians but who promote contemplative spirituality and emerging figures.

Also, once your search for a new church has narrowed down to a few churches, a weekday visit to those churches’ bookstores would be important. Look for books by Richard Foster, Gary Thomas, Henri Nouwen, Brennan Manning, Sarah Young, and other authors discussed and critiqued on the LT website. Chris Lawson from Spiritual Research Network has an extensive “Master List” of authors who fall within the contemplative, emerging, hyper-charismatic, River, New Age, “Christian” homosexual, etc. camps. It’s an excellent resource and is now in booklet form.

When all this has been done to find a Bible-believing church, if there are any in your community that have passed the contemplative/emerging/Purpose Driven test, maybe it’s safe to take your family for a Sunday visit. Are many of the people walking in carrying Bibles? Seeker-friendly and church-growth churches discourage that because it might “offend” unbelievers (or as they say unchurched) coming to church. Does the pastor at some point in his sermon talk about the Cross (the atonement) and salvation (and even mention hell)? These are subjects that many churches avoid because of the “offensiveness” of that message. Better to offer an espresso drink and a little rock n roll music during the service and a psychology-based, feel good message that appeals to the carnal senses (sensual) rather than build up the inner spiritual man.

Once you have found a church that seems to be sound, you should not stop being discerning. That must be ongoing. That might seem like a ”paranoid” or overly concerned attitude to have, but if we remember the many verses in Scripture that talk about spiritual deception (right from the Garden of Eden all the way to the Book of Revelation), we will realize it is the responsibility of the Christian to be discerning and watchful. And the Bible frequently talks about the latter days before Christ’s return where deception will run more rampant than ever before. Roger Oakland gives a list of signs to look for to see if a church is becoming or has become contemplative/emerging. As you begin to attend a new church, this list may be helpful to you and your family:

Scripture is no longer the ultimate authority as the basis for the Christian faith.

The centrality of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is being replaced by humanistic methods promoting church growth and a social gospel.

More and more emphasis is being placed on building the kingdom of God now and less and less on the warnings of Scripture about the imminent return of Jesus Christ and a coming judgment in the future.

The teaching that the church has taken the place of Israel and Israel has no prophetic significance is often embraced.

The teaching that the Book of Revelation does not refer to the future, but instead has been already fulfilled in the past.

An experiential mystical form of Christianity begins to be promoted as a method to reach the postmodern generation.

Ideas are promoted teaching that Christianity needs to be re­invented in order to provide meaning for this generation.

The pastor may implement an idea called “ancient-future” or “vintage Christianity” claiming that in order to take the church forward, we need to go back in church history and find out what experiences were effective to get people to embrace Christianity.

While the authority of the Word of God is undermined, images and sensual experiences are promoted as the key to experiencing and knowing God.

These experiences include icons, candles, incense, liturgy, labyrinths, prayer stations, contemplative prayer, experiencing the sacraments, particularly the sacrament of the Eucharist.

There seems to be a strong emphasis on ecumenism indicating that a bridge is being established that leads in the direction of unity with the Roman Catholic Church.

Some evangelical Protestant leaders are saying that the Reformation went too far. They are reexamining the claims of the “church fathers” saying that communion is more than a symbol and that Jesus actually becomes present in the wafer at communion.

There will be a growing trend towards an ecumenical unity for the cause of world peace—claiming the validity of other religions and that there are many ways to God.

Members of churches who question or resist the new changes that the pastor is implementing are reprimanded and usually asked to leave.

Roger has these signs listed in his booklet How to Know When the Emerging Church Shows Signs of Emerging into Your Church. May God bless you in your search. It may seem like an insurmountable task, but we know there are still good churches out there because we often hear from pastors who are staying the course and are aware of the times in which we live. May God lead you to find one of these churches.

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural [carnal] man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. . . . For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:12-16)

 

New Slideshow from Bryce Homes in Kenya

The following is our latest slideshow showing the Christian families (mostly widows and children) in Kenya whom Lighthouse Trails readers are supporting. This is a mission outreach program that Understand the Times began in Kenya four years ago and has been solely supported by UTT and LT donors. Please consider helping with this project. Every dime donated goes directly to the families (now 24). You may click here to learn more about the Bryce Homes and also to donate.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
 
 

 

Amy Grant Joins Catholic “Sisters” as “Thousands Flock to Michigan for Faith-filled Family Concert”

LTRP Note: The following news story is posted for informational and research purposes only and not as an endorsement of the content. This is another example of how Christian leaders and figures are leading the way in bringing the evangelical/Protestant church “back to the Roman Catholic Mother Church.” It was just a few months ago that Amy Grant and numerous other well-known Christian musicians (including Chuck Girard, Dallas Holm, Michael W. Smith and Nicole Mullen) stood on stage with New Age sympathizer and Roman Catholic Roma Downey in an ecumenical concert saying “we are united.” A number of years ago, when Rob Bell was still pastor at Mars Hill in Michigan, he invited one of the Dominican Sisters of Mary to speak at his church. You can listen to a little of that service here where Bell and the Sister are leading the congregation through a contemplative practice.

“Thousands Flock to Michigan for Faith-filled Family Concert”

YPSILANTI, Mich., April 22, 2015 /Christian Newswire/ — The first major concert for The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, enjoyed widespread success Sunday April 19 in Ypsilanti, MI. The Unite, Disciples of Christ concert at Eastern Michigan University, hosted by the Dominican Sisters of Mary and Spiritus Sanctus Academy brought together 4,000 attendees of all ages and backgrounds from all over the Midwest. The benefit concert featured some of the top names in the Christian music industry: Amy Grant, Matt Maher, Sanctus Real, Ike Ndolo, Jon Guerra and the Dominican Sisters of Mary. The acclaimed line-up performed for a captivated crowd for over 5 hours including special performances, which included all of the artists on stage together.

The press supported the Unite Concert as Amy Grant and Sr. John Dominic were guests on Kresta in The Afternoon, which is heard nationwide on Sirius/XM and Ave Maria Radio. The entire interview is available here. Additional coverage was also given by Son Rise Morning Show, Proclaim FM in Toledo, WMUZ in Detroit, The Michigan Catholic, Christian Review, and Smile FM, among others. Click here to continue reading this article.

 Related Articles:

According to Rome, True Evangelization Not Complete Until A Christian Becomes Catholic by Roger Oakland

Confused by an Angel: The Dilemma of Roma Downey’s New Age Beliefs

Reiki Found at Many Catholic Convents – The Near Future for Evangelicalism



 

 

Understanding the Labyrinth

labyrinth2The following article is also in booklet form.  The number of labyrinths is growing significantly as contemplative spirituality continues overtaking many denominations and Christian organizations.

Carl Teichrib

Symbols are keyholes to doors in the walls of space, and through them man peers into Eternity . . . Symbolism, then, is the divine language, and its figures are a celestial alphabet.1

. . . symbolical rites are the external expressions of man’s inward desire to unite with Divinity.2

Whilst we cannot be exactly sure what the labyrinths were used for, they were clearly a symbol of the Christian way, representing the path of the soul through life.3

I was struck by the simplicity of the above statement: that labyrinths are “clearly a symbol of the Christian way.” This is an interesting position, especially given the fact that the authors of this particular quote admit, “we cannot be exactly sure what the labyrinths were used for.”

We live in a day and age where many “new things” are sweeping through the Christian church. Some of these alternative directions are simply a reflection of changes in style and format. However, in our exploration towards alternative forms of spiritual expression, it is imperative that doctrinal discernment and discretionary principles come into play. This is especially true as society rapidly embraces a plethora of alternative spiritual practices, beliefs, and paths. Sadly, we as Christians often flounder in doing our homework, and in that vein we may inadvertently open our congregations to highly questionable choices and spiritual experiences.

Paradoxically, while the evangelical Christian community talks about “spiritual warfare” and “putting on the full armor of God,” many of these same churches can be found embracing that which they claim to counter. In seeking relevancy, we have become dangerously “experiential,” and old forms of mysticism are becoming centerpieces in “experiences of faith.”

The labyrinth prayer walk, which follows a single winding path to a central location, is a case in point, and I hope to show the reasons why Christians should not embrace this practice. Primarily jump-started by a UK-based Christian movement in alternative spiritual expressions and by an influential San Francisco cathedral, denominations around the world are embracing labyrinths as a viable part of the spiritual journey. But are labyrinths part of the Christian encounter, as suggested by the third introductory quote above?

My first experience with a labyrinth happened years before the idea become so popular in Christian circles. I was doing research work on occult philosophy at the Theosophical* headquarters in Wheaton, Illinois, and after spending a better part of the day reviewing esoteric literature, I went for a walk across the grounds to clear my head. There, toward the back of the property, was a labyrinth that had been set up as a place for spiritual release and expression.

As a Christian researcher and author on globalization and religious trends accompanying our changing international situation, I wasn’t surprised by the fact that a labyrinth was set up at this intensely “occult” location. It made perfect sense.

Understand, Christians looking for ways to bring in new relevancy within church worship did not rediscover the labyrinth as a spiritual tool. As we shall see, it’s been part of the esoteric world for a very long time. Which is why, today, labyrinth walks and “prayer journeys” are being promoted by Rosicrucian groups,4 at New Age festivals and celebrations5 and throughout the neo-pagan New Age world. Not surprisingly, one of America’s largest witch, shaman, and neo-pagan assemblies, the Pagan Spirit Gathering at Wisteria, OH, holds a nighttime Summer Solstice Labyrinth ritual, which is described as a “transformative, walking meditation through an all-night labyrinth formed by 1000 lighted candles.”6

Embarking on the Journey
Counter to the statement “we cannot be exactly sure what the labyrinths were used for” is a wealth of literature, some easy to obtain, others that should be kept hidden on dusty shelves. This material paints a fascinating picture on the uses and purposes of the labyrinth as a conduit for the mystical. But before we venture down this path, it’s important that we journey into the recesses of ancient mythological history.

The primary historical focal point for the lore of the labyrinth goes back to Cretan and Greek tales of Queen Pasiphaë, her perverse sexual desire for a specific sacrificial bull, an abominable act of bestiality, and the birth of a strange hybrid offspring—the dreaded Minotaur, which lived in a labyrinth built to cage him.7

Each year, King Minos, the husband of Pasiphaë, demanded that seven boys and seven girls be given as a sacrificial tribute to be devoured by the Minotaur. One year, a hero named Theseus accompanied the children. Taking a ball of twine, he unravelled the string as he went through the labyrinth, giving him a trail leading back out. Once inside the labyrinth, Theseus followed the maze to its center, where he battled with the Minotaur and eventually beat the creature to death.

The labyrinth containing this Minotaur was not the typical single-path labyrinth of today but rather a complex maze containing halls and chambers. However, esoteric philosophers have long understood that the Minotaur maze directly corresponds to the ancient (and now modern) spiritually-connected labyrinth walk—the long soul journey with its many twists and turns, the ultimate arrival at the central convergence point, the struggle with the inner monster—and the final victory over the forces of darkness and ignorance (which can only happen when one is illumined at the center), and the repeated journey back to wholeness and the light of day. This esoteric significance of the Cretan story has never been lost on the initiates of the Mystery Schools.

Don’t forget, this Grecian/Cretan story was immersed in the pagan religious context of the day; that’s the metaphysical origin of the labyrinth as we can trace it. Hence, the story of Pasiphaë, with its labyrinth journey and inner battle, is of interest first and foremost to the world of occult lore for the simple reason that this is the intended context.

Following the Path
In following the path of knowledge concerning the spiritual uses of the labyrinth, one doesn’t have to go to the Pagan Spirit Gathering or delve deeply into occult literature (though, we will examine some esoteric writings). Plenty of information abounds in various reference works. Take, for instance, The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols. Click here to continue reading this article.

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