Category: bible teaching

The Bottom Line When It Comes To Church!

The bottom line when it comes to church is — the sermon!

Church attendance reflects the pulpit!  We see that reality when a congregation knows that so-in-so is speaking tonight or next week.  You will see attendance go up or down based on the sermonic expectations. [1]

As I listen to Alistair Begg, I am reminded again how crucial effective preaching is in ministry.

There is a reason those like Pastor Begg are so oft listened to by so many, and it is because not all preachers/teachers are effective.

I use the word “effectiveness” and not “successful” for a reason.  We are called to be effective communicators because there are situations where one is effective but not successful.  The field of endeavor is a challenging and complicated place to be successful–  if “successful” means having a meaningful impact.  There were situations where Paul was not very successful, but he was effective.

Some like to say that they are preaching to an audience of one — and that is accurate regarding the content of what is being said.   We are called to preach what the Scriptures teach, not what God’s people would like to hear said.

Nevertheless, the truth is that none of us are preaching to only that audience.  Rather, we work hard at message preparation because we know that there is an audience beyond that One.

Some preachers, like Alistair Begg, are consistently excellent — highly effective!  They are clear, thought-provoking, insightful, easy to listen to, and concise.

AND . . . . there are preachers-teacher who are far from effective!

There is a continuum ranging from . . . .

“consistently great – repeatedly great – really good – good – adequate – mediocre – poor – bad -terrible.”

. . . and there is a test by which to evaluate where one is on that continuum!

— “Retellability” —

Are there those who “retell” what was said?

Are there those who remember, repeat, or “retell” what was said?

That is why Alistair Begg’s sermonic clip has gone viral!

What was so effective said by Alistair Begg challenged, moved, explained, clarified, and/or captured a truth worth retelling one’s self . . . .

. . . . and “retelling” others — “You have to listen to this!”

^



^

1. Church attendance may also reflect what is happening in church life.  When serious issues are front and center, as is the case with many SBC churches, attendance is also affected. Dissatisfaction with decisions and leadership also impacts attendance.

Add to that, the presence of a good youth program, the variety of opportunities to serve, other spiritually beneficial programs (such as AWANA / Senior Saints / VBS), personal relationships, and pastoral care and concern.  These, and others, all impact attendance to varying degrees and age groups.

Response:

“I kinda understood churches were for mutual encouragement and exhortation, not simply recieving from a single teacher, professional as they may be. I suppose I am in need of finding the purpose of the church as I read the New Testament”

My Response:

I understand your viewpoint and appreciate it — I totally agree — and should have said what I have often said — there are two wings on the church airplane, preaching and fellowship.

No preaching/teaching, it is not a church, it is merely a social gathering.

No fellowship, it is not a church merely equal to streaming.

Both are as basic as you can get to be called a NT church.

Let me go on to say that no matter how great the fellowship is in any restaurant, if the meal is lousy I’m not going back and investing my time or money in a meal I find continually bland to terrible.

“The bottom line” — not the only line —  has to be the preaching and teaching of God’s Word which also preaches and teaches fellowship and improves the fellowship.

But great fellowship will not improve the preaching/teaching!

I can be part of making fellowship, fellowship — but I can’t do much about bad preaching.

Nevertheless, your point is well taken and I will add this to the bottom of my post!  It is a point worth making!

When The Dam Breaks

My son bought a beautiful piece of ground with a LARGE lake situated on it — a 12 acre lake. In the course of considering the purchase, he learned a lot about lakes AND DAMS.

Earthen dams have the potential of breaking through and releasing a flood of water onto the neighboring properties.  In this case, it would be over 30 million gallons of water. The engineers he consulted indicated that tree growth, dead roots, ants, and burrowing animals can destabilize such a dam.

Typically, such earthen dams do not breach because of a single climactic event but a chain of events that come together at a point in time. The forces have been in play for a considerable period of time.

Actually, that is what has been and is happening with MANY ministries and local churches today. The dam is giving way, a contemporary dam that stretches from . . . .

RaviZ-SBC-Megachurches-Well-known Ministries-
John Piper – John Mac Arthur – James Mac Donald – Hybells – Hillsong – Driscoll –
Association of churches [1]- Local Churches.

I have said it before, and it needs to be said again — the many leaders who were elected and posted to guard and prevent what has and is taking place all need to resign. They are complicit in what they allowed to happen!

The causes of that complicity are varied . . . . .

  • relationships prevented them from speaking out
  • fear of being labeled a trouble-maker created a damaging silence
  • a stubborn unwillingness to see what was obvious to those outside of that ministry blinded them
  • a protectionist spirit that was more committed to an institution than God’s people caused them to ignore legitimate criticism
  • et al.

^

When dams breach, it is not because of a single climactic event,
but a chain of events that come together at a point in time.
The forces have been in play for a considerable period of time.

^

THEN the dam breaks.  It is only when the “dam breaks” that people begin speaking up about what was happening!  Now people are permitted to speak up without being intimidated and chastised!

THEN the dam breaks! And those who were supposed to guard the flock join in the chorus — as if they had nothing to do with what happened. Suddenly, they have the gift of discernment.

THEN the dam breaks! And NOW they claim to have had the gift of prophecy and saw it coming. A few caveats — “Yea, we should have addressed it earlier.” “Yes, we were concerned.” — and they are excused from any complicity!

 They are not prophets;
they are actually reporters on the scene,
redirecting accountability! [2]  

^



1. Most are very familiar with what is happening with the SBC, but it is not only one of the largest convention of churches, but it is even the with the far-far smaller GARBC.

2. Adding insult to injury is the fact that some get to fail at oversight over and over. They didn’t see it with a school administrator, a youth pastor, a staff member, or a ministry leader. Now they fail again when it comes to yet another ministry leader. They are finally compelled to report on it. They now utter the “same words” — commensurate with their newly found clearsightedness — that others were censured for speaking. They speak as if they have any greater discernment now than was true with the past leader they endorsed and/or defended.

Fire them all!
They are not leaders; they are followers!
They ought to be shamed for allowing this to happen!

It’s Twisted!

“Anything that makes you need God is a blessing!” — Thank was what was said on the car radio by a well-known Bible teacher [1] as I was driving across Florida to visit a friend dying of cancer.

That is more than inaccurate, though it aims at and woefully misses a biblical truth taught in the Scriptures.  It is a dangerous and damaging teaching.

I can imagine all kinds of injustice and horrific deeds of men that makes people need God and even causes them to seek His help, and those actions were wicked and evil!  They were not a blessing, nor a blessing from God!

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

The clear understanding of the passage states that there are gifts that are not good and perfect, and that not all gifts come from above. The good and perfect come from His gift shop. The bad and evil come from a different owner’s shop!

The good and perfect come from the Father of light, and some come from the prince of darkness.  That truth is unvarying — no shadow of any turning will ever be found when it comes to what the Lord God gives!

Some not-so-good gifts come from powers of darkness and evil, including wealth/money, popularity, power, talents, position, resources, and prominence.  Those “gifts of darkness” have been given to “devour people as a lion” in life and living.  Those “gifts” have perpetrated and perpetuated some of the most horrific acts of evil.  Vladimir Putin was given many of those gifts — from the prince of darkness.

And check out that verse in its context — “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.” The Lord was never a party to the sins that tempt or too often overcome mankind.

Tell the families of Uvalde, Texas, whose children were killed, the parents of a young five-year-old child who was sexually molested, the wife whose husband has shattered their marriage, and the friend of mine who is dying of cancer (likely due to the unsafe environmental factory conditions) that what they are going through is a blessing, a blessing FROM God!

The underlying ideology of this kind of thinking and such statements has led to all kinds of passivity and inappropriate actions.  Poor-to-terrible counseling, wrong-doing, social injustice, and horrific abuse have been left unaddressed (and even justified as biblically appropriate and justified) because of this type of thinking — “We need to see this as from the hand of God.” [2]

Yes, I understand that God uses sin, sinlessly.  That God can still bless us, and does, midst our sin and the sins of others.  But the sin was sinful, it is not therefore acceptable to be left unaddressed, and it is not a blessing from His hand.  Any attempt to promote some passivity towards the sinful actions of men is but an argument to allow it to be more acceptable and/or for it to continue unaddressed!

I understand the truth that we can find rest for our souls during the most overwhelming times of life in Jesus, but not in some belief that or Lord was even close to complicit, found any pleasure in, or took some functioning part in the evil actions of men.

√  Rather, I find comfort in that He fully understands my pain, grief, sorrow, heartbreak, deep anguish, anger, and hurt — and sympathizes and empathizes with all that I feel.

√  I find comfort in the sure and confident hope that He will fully address the evil and wicked actions of men, in this life and/or in the life to come!

√ I find comfort in the sure and confident hope that He has fully planned and provided for an everlasting world to come where evil and the evil of men will be forever vanquished.

√  I find comfort in a humility of mind that recognizes that I cannot explain all that happens or is allowed to happen.

√  I find comfort in the understanding that there are mysteries and secrets known only to God, that we have not been told — that there is far more about God than contained in pages of Scripture!

√  I find comfort in that what God allows to happen is thoroughly consistent with all that we do and can understand, though we cannot reconcile them in our minds and hearts in this twisted and fallen world.

√  I find comfort in that we can run to Him in time of need (Matthew 11:28-30), and He can give me rest and peace which passes the peace I receive by understanding (Philippians 4:7) — that it passes the peace that I can and do get at times with understanding. [3]

  • No, I can’t explain why your child died at such a young age.
  • I wish I could explain why dad left, or you were put up for adoption, or mom was addicted, dad was an alcoholic, but I have no good explanation.
  • I don’t know why the marriage / family life was so pot marked with wrong-doing and evil/wickedness.
  • I have no explanation for why that house was swept away in the storm, and the house next door was untouched.
  • I can’t understand the Holocaust.
  • I have no knowledge of whether God is judging America by a pandemic or why your loved one died from it at the age of 32.
  • I don’t know why you live in America and others in Ukraine.

Nevertheless, I’ll hold onto the humility of mind that understands the biblical truth that we can find rest for our souls during the most overwhelming mysteries of life — in Jesus.

I need not adopt some twisted view of God’s sovereignty that somehow makes the wrongful, wicked, and/or evil actions of men more acceptable, a blessing, and/or anything less than wrong-to-evil — in order to find that rest! 

^



^

1. Link to Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth’s “Revive Our Hearts” radio ministry on June 9, 2022

2. It is founded on a false and/or twisted understanding of the sovereignty of God, too often rooted in a theological ideology promoted by such men as John Mac Arthur and John Piper — some of the most prolific speakers, writers, and influential men over the past 40 years!

There is a connection between the present-day controversies involving John Mac Arthur and John Piper, concerning the abusive environments and/or teachings and their theological ideology!

There is a reason, not the only reason, that some ministries and local churches have failed to address wrong-doing and abuse, and it goes back to a twisted view of God’s sovereignty and a twisted theological ideology!

3. There was a day when Joseph got “understanding” as to why all that was happening was happening.  At times we get that kind of understanding, providing a measure of peace.

This Is The Non-Sense Of Today’s Theological Ideologies

Owen Stachan is not some unknown stranger in the theological world.  He is all too well known!

My concerns are not about his beliefs or positions but more about how many others follow and hold to the same theological positions he espouses.

And this theological position is not some strange and aberrant stance; it is also typical of those who park out around the same Calvinistic campfires.  The stance that — it is all or nothing when it comes to sanctification.

There is little to no room for anything less than total devotion, spiritual growth, and/or change. [1]

I would suggest that the Lord’s own disciples were embarrassed over the Lord’s teachings; at times, they exhibited a lack of love for some of the truths He taught and hesitated in believing all that He taught — as have a wide variety of the many saints of Scripture (that are even identified) — Jonah, Lot, Samson, David, Abraham, Peter, Thomas, Nathaniel, et al.

These kinds of statements [2] and theological ideologies produce sermons that shake people’s faith in their salvation and constantly make people feel that they will never measure up to living out their lives as believers.

As some responded (and many in a similar manner) . . . .

“Christian, do not make your subjective experience with the Bible the grounds for your assurance. Jesus has already understood, loved and obeyed every word of Scripture on your behalf, and He is patient with us as He renews our minds through the Spirit.”

“Yes. The only thing I can see this tweet producing is hypocrisy, as people scramble to convince themselves that they love the Bible as much as they should so that they can feel a sense of assurance. None of do. We’re still in the flesh.”

There is nothing the Lord did not know about you
when He saved you.



1. What are the implications of this statement for those who do not take the position of “literal 24-hour day” creation and opt for the position of theistic evolution or even evolution?

2. Recently, another well-known pastor remarked that . . . . “I am not sure one is a Christian if they do not regularly attend church — I’m not saying they aren’t, but I am just not certain.”  This is the same type of Calvinistic / New Calvinism thinking non-sense!

If we all read the same books,
we will all think the same thoughts.

That also explains some of how we got here!

Justice – Part #2

Podcast LINK

Attorney Matt Martens joins host Marty Duren on this episode to talk about systemic injustices in the US legal system.

Matthew Martens has worked both as a federal prosecutor (9 years) and as a criminal defense attorney (11 years). His cases have ranged from capital murder, drug trafficking, firearms violations, and child pornography, to securities fraud, mortgage fraud, voter fraud, and public corruption. He has tried more than two dozen cases across the country both as a prosecutor and defense attorney. He is currently a partner in the Washington, DC office of one of the world’s largest law firms. Matt’s first book, Reforming Criminal Justice: A Christian Proposal (Crossway), is due out in early 2023.

Podcast LINK

https://uncommontarypodcast.com/2022/04/12/matthew-martens-systemic-injustice-the-bible-and-the-us-system-ep96/

You can follow him on Twitter @martensmatt1.

Justice

Matthew Martens has worked both as a federal prosecutor (9 years) and as a criminal defense attorney (11 years). His cases have ranged from capital murder, drug trafficking, firearms violations, and child pornography, to securities fraud, mortgage fraud, voter fraud, and public corruption. He has tried more than two dozen cases across the country both as a prosecutor and defense attorney. He is currently a partner in the Washington, DC office of one of the world’s largest law firms. Matt’s first book, Reforming Criminal Justice: A Christian Proposal (Crossway), is due out in early 2023.

“How is it possible when it comes to criminal justice in the US we have two opposite camps? One cries ‘defund the police’ & the other ‘more law & order.’  My conversation with Matthew Martens is enlightening. Have a listen and learn.” — Jen Oshman

===========================

“When it comes to criminal justice we have two opposite camps in this country: one side cries “defund the police” and the other side demands more “law and order.” How is it possible to have two very different perspectives on the same criminal justice system? And how should Christians be grappling with the way justice is currently carried out in our country?

On this episode we hear from Matt Martens who is a criminal lawyer, a graduate of Dallas Theological seminary, was a federal prosecutor for 10 years, has written for the WSJ and WaPo and is currently writing a book entitled Reforming Criminal Justice: A Christian Proposal (forthcoming with Crossway in 2023). Martens has a unique and qualified perspective with his robust background in both theology and both sides of our legal system.

From a theological perspective, Martens says Jesus not only declares us just, but is making us just. Meaning the gospel is not only about our individual salvation, but also our sanctification and how we live amongst one another. Part of preaching the gospel is seeking justice in our midst.

From a legal perspective, Martens says many Americans just don’t know how our system really works. He says there are outrageous injustices built into the system that the average person simply doesn’t know about. He wants to change that through his presence online and in his forthcoming book.

Two primary reasons we don’t see our criminal justice in a unified way, Martens says, are because we have varying degrees of education about our history as a nation and varying degrees of knowledge and experience with how our justice system currently operates.

Have a listen and learn. Martens covers a ton of both history and present realities. You’ll hear about how our criminal justice system was organized after the Civil War and how some of those practices remain today; how jury selection can have a huge and unjust impact on the accused; how both our bail and plea bargain systems coerce innocent people to confess guilt to crimes they did not commit; the realities of a broken policing system that leaves many crimes unsolved and prevents victims from experiencing justice; and more. Martens closes this episode by telling us what you and I can do to seek justice in our own localities.” — Jen Oshman

Podcast LINK —  https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/all-things/id1449943664?i=1000548574978

You can follow him on Twitter @martensmatt1.

Mac Arthur / Piper / Your Pastor: There is a theological-ideology in play!

More About Jesus - Hymnary.org

The Hymn is titled, “More About Jesus” [1]

More about Jesus would I know,
More of His grace to others show;
More of His saving fulness see,
More of His love who died for me.

More, more about Jesus,
More, more about Jesus;
More of His saving fulness see,
More of His love who died for me.

2

More about Jesus let me learn,
More of His holy will discern;
Spirit of God my teacher be,
Showing the things of Christ to me.

3

More about Jesus; in His Word,
Holding communion with my Lord;
Hearing His voice in every line,
Making each faithful saying mine.

4

More about Jesus; on His throne,
Riches in glory all His own;
More of His kingdom’s sure increase;
More of His coming, Prince of Peace.

^

There is a distinct theological difference, that has significant implications, between “More” and “Total.”  Over recent years, and up to 2022 there has been no lack of books, sermons, articles, and blogs on the theme of “Commitment” or “Total Commitment,” or “Totally Committed.”[2]. When you read the same books, you think the same thoughts!

First of all, I understand the concept of being committed to Christ.  Who would argue the position that a believer should not be committed to our Lord?  Just ask Peter!

But yes. . . let’s ask Peter — and the disciples . . . .

Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.”

I have always been taken back by the hymn, “Are Ye Able!”

 “Are ye able,” said the Master,
“To be crucified with me?”
“Yea,” the sturdy dreamers answered,
“To the death we follow Thee.

Refrain:
Lord, we are able.
Our spirits are Thine.
Remold them, make us,
Like Thee, divine.
Thy guiding radiance
Above us shall be
A beacon to God,
To love, and loyalty.

Totally Committed — Who? — “The sturdy dreamers answered, To the death we follow Thee.”

“Lord we are able” — Who would say that knowing what we know today?

It is not that they were not sincere, but that they were unable, as are we!  Peter learned that when he stepped outside of the boat and began walking.  As he saw and felt the water and the waves, he began sinking.  What happened?  He lost his spirit of total commitment!  Like we would have!  Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!

While a righteous and desirable goal, that goal is unreachable this side of heaven, even with those who walked with Christ for three years on earth and witnessed what we ourselves wish we could have seen with our eyes. [3]. It implies the possibility of total sanctification on this side of glory.

While there will be areas that we may claim to be totally committed, there will always be areas that we are not.  Even in the areas in which we believe we are totally committed, given the right circumstances, we will fail, as did the disciples.  He that thinketh he standeth, take heed!

To hold that up as an attainable goal is not only unrealistic but unbiblical and perhaps even dangerous. [4]. We believe that the Scriptures teach progressive sanctification and another day and another place of final glorification.

More, More About Jesus! — THAT is the realistic, biblical, attainable, and righteous aim of God’s people!

“Total Commitment” is a leaky boat that some do not even personally recognize they themselves are in.  Some actually believe and/or preach as if their boat has no leaks!  It leaks as they preach!

The truth is,
all boats are leaky boats!

As previously stated, there is a theological-ideology that promotes such an unbiblical and damaging vantage to God’s people.  It is centered on an ideological framework that marks men like John Mac Arthur (Lordship Salvation), John Piper [5], Dr. John Street [6], and the new Calvinistic movement. [5]

It is unhealthy to preach glibly about being total commitment and thereby leave the impression that such is an attainable goal this side of glorification.  It is destructive, not productive! To speak about total commitment in one area of life, no less in all of life, is hurtful, not helpful!

  • better
  • greater
  • improving
  • growing
  • put off / put on
  • crucifying the old man
  • confession / repentance
  • reaching forward to the goal
  • that I might obtain
  • put my body under subjection
  • stronger
  • striving
  • race with patience
  • add to your faith
  • more faithful
  • MORE

. . . . . are the words that capture the Christian life.

“Progressive Sanctification” — That has been the historic position of Bible-believing Christianity!

If you want people to feel down and discouraged – ride that horse you think is a thoroughbred.  I say it’s a nag, and it will leave people far short (guilty and dispirited ) of where they could and should be in their Christian life!



1. https://www.songlyrics.com/savannah-ellis/more-about-jesus-lyrics/

2. https://www.growingchristians.org/devotions/total-commitment/
https://unlockingthebible.org/lifekey/a-totally-exclusive-commitment/

Total Commitment


https://thebiblechristian.com/?p=1454
https://www.bibleoutlines.com/blog/luke-923-27-the-total-commitment-involved-in-discipleship

What is Total Commitment?


https://gewatkins.net/examples-of-commitment-in-the-bible-a-study-on-pauls-commitment/

3. Even after the resurrection, they struggled with boldness, with total commitment (Acts 4:29)!  Peter struggled with hypocrisy out of fear (Galatians 2).

4. Who Is John Piper, by Barnabas Piper

5. Listen to these words!
John
 Piper: “My life’s commitment is to talk about the Bible in such a way that fake Christians feel fake — so that they can be saved.”

Is that really our “life’s commitment” as pastors? Our life’s commitment as pastors is far broader than that singular goal!  Nevertheless, Piper and other pastors have that as their goal as well, and those who listen will see that it is low-hanging fruit, week after week.

Genuine Christians also end up feeling fake when it is this kind of “all-or-nothing” kind of Christianity that people must measure up to in order for them to believe they are saved.  No surprise when people lose their children to this kind of false standard of sanctification!  Ask Barnabas Piper!

John Piper: “I am part of the New Calvinism, and feel a fatherly responsibility to continually speak into it dimensions of truth that I think it needs to hear. As a part of the New Calvinism, I have a debt to pay to Westminster Seminary and the lineage of Reformed theology that you represent. There would be no New Calvinism without you.” — John Piper
https://reformedforum.org/john-pipers-twelve-features-new-calvinism/

6. John Street heads up the counseling ministry of GCC and Master’s Seminary.  It is the same theological-ideology that is reflected in the third counseling video cited in this link.  Street expects a 4-year-old girl, who is being sexually assaulted to come to the place in her life where she understands that what has happened is from the hand of God — Glenda’s Story.  He makes the argument based on Psalm 119 — It is good that I have been afflicted.  He also makes his argument from the life of Joseph, who was hated by his brothers and sold into bondage, as if that is to even be compared to being sexually raped as a 4-year-old.

David’s “affliction” was not the sexual trauma experienced by a child, but exactly what the word “affliction” means in the context of Psalm 119 — to be humbled, put down, or distressed.  God did not afflict Glenda, as God personally and directly afflicted David out of His faithfulness (Psalm 119:75).  If Psalm 119 applies to Glenda, then God would then be the author of terrible wickedness!

I am certain that Joseph did not start out where he ended.  Joseph ended with – “God meant it for good.”  I am certain that Joseph had his good days and his bad days, and over time, he had more good days than bad.

None of God’s people jump to spiritual maturity, but we get there over time and through continual and continued spiritual growth!

Who Is John Piper – By Barnabas Piper

“Barnabas Piper:”

Barnabas Piper is one of Dr. John Piper’s two sons. His interview with RNS speaks loudly about what went wrong in the Piper household, and apparently, a lot went wrong with both Barnabas and his brother Abraham.[1] [2] [3]

Religious New Service [interview]: What is one thing people would be shocked to learn about the Piper household?

Barnabas Piper: Depends on who you ask. Those who are huge fans might be surprised to know that our family has a lot of tensions and quirks. We have dysfunction and conflict. We don’t always get along very well. It’s not the idyllic repository of peace and knowledge they might have painted a picture of in their heads.

Much more has already been written about all that has taken place in the Piper home. It’s not a pretty story, and I have little to add other than to highlight two insightful and often overlooked comments made by Barnabas Piper. One involves theology, and the other revolves around child-rearing.

#1) Theological

Religious New Service: What is one thing people would be shocked to learn about the Piper household?

Barnabas Piper: Depends on who you ask. Those who are huge fans might be surprised to know that our family has a lot of tensions and quirks. We have dysfunction and conflict. We don’t always get along very well. It’s not the idyllic repository of peace and knowledge they might have painted a picture of in their heads.

Religious New Service: A while back, your dad rather publicly enacted church discipline on your brother, and even excommunicated him from the church. Did you support this at the time?

Barnabas Piper: I understood. “Support” might be a bit too strong because it was too sad to be supportive of. My brother at that time was not a believer, by his own admission. So it was a case of removal from church membership after years of trying to restore him. Also to say my dad did the discipline isn’t quite fair. It was a decision by a board of elders. In all, I understood why it happened based on the church’s membership standards, but I always felt the sense that it had to do with the “manage your household” criteria out of 1 Timothy too. And that made it feel like something unique to a family in our position.

^

It was both comments — “at that time was not a believer . . . . trying to restore him,” that came across so strange. Barnabas is speaking about his brother’s behavior as a “young man.” Abraham’s ex-communication took place at the age of 19. Now, Abraham was either a believer or not a believer at a point in time. [4] He was either a rebellious believer at the age of 19 or he was never an actual believer in the atoning work of Christ. He was either a professor of saving faith, or a possessor of saving faith at the age of 19. Therefore, Barnabas seems to be saying that “at that time” when he was 19, he was not a believer.

However, you don’t “restore” someone who was never a believer. “After years of trying to restore him” implies that he was a believer and that he needed to begin living as a believer.

“After years of trying to restore him” is an odd way of speaking about salvation or coming to Christ. But it is not an odd way for some who hold to the theological ideology of Dr. John Piper — “Calvinism.”

It is one thing to say some only profess Christ, and later come to the realization they never were actually believers in the work of Christ for them on Calvary. That is not “restore.” That is putting one’s faith in the work of Christ and being “born-again.” for one’s salvation. The wording used by Barnabas does not fit that scenario.

There have been numerous articles on whether a “5-point Calvinist” can actually hold to the doctrine of eternal security. Merely google the numerous articles — “Calvinism Eternal Security” – which address this issue. There is a reason for the endless list of articles that appear — the Calvinistic teaching of “The Perseverance of the Saints.” [6] [7]

Barnabas Piper clearly understands and reflects his father’s position and teaching about Saving Grace – or not so saving Grace! [8]

^

#2) Child-Rearing

Religious New Service: What was the biggest negative you experienced growing up in the Piper household? . . . 

Barnabas Piper: The biggest negative was not connecting with God in a personal way. My dad’s view of, and relationship with, God is so big and so powerful that it looked like the only way to come to God. But it didn’t work for me. It wasn’t until I was out of college and things kind of fell apart for me that I encountered God’s grace and the person of Jesus in a profound way on my own.

What Barnabas Piper states about his rebellion against his parents and home life is instructive! It highlights at least one of the causes accounting for what is sometimes seen by members of a local church.

As stated by Barnabas Piper, some pastors “lose their children” because of their theological ideology. Some pastors see life and living through “Calvinist Glasses” that allow for the possibility of constructing an unreachable high and holy God. The message sent and received is that if a believer loves God anything less than they do, anything less than total commitment, there can be no relationship with Him. No matter what your age, situation, background, growth, the period in life they found Christ, or lifelong experiences — if you don’t desperately love Jesus for all that He is — AND NOW —  you have woefully fallen short of what it means to be a Christian — and you may not even be saved!

With that approach, the average “Joe” just can never measure up. The choices are – love God desperately and be satisfied in Him alone, or fly coach, be second class —at best — maybe you are not a Christian at all. There is little to no room for real struggle, ups and downs, less than “all our hearts.” It is all or nothing!

There is little room for progressive sanctification — experiencing great success in one area and significant struggles in another, periods of dryness and periods of great communion, times of severe struggle and times of great victory, for periods of great service and periods of hindered service, et al.

^

While I stated the other revolves around child-rearing, it also revolves around preaching and teaching. The impact of what Barnabas Piper describes is not only about him personally, but it goes well beyond the walls of his home.

When a pastor, such as John Piper, infuses this type of thinking in his home, be assured it is also taught in the local church setting. As people pick up on this “pastoral home tone,” it infects other families with that same all-or-nothing level of Christian living!

Insecurities and doubts intrude after a sermon and throughout the weeks that follow. Those sitting under a pastor’s ministry began to absorb the same tone and attitude. They may begin to wonder why they feel so different about their relationship with Christ. No longer is our understanding about our relationship with Christ as Dane Ortlund [7] so warmly states . . . . .

“[Justification] is the most counterintuitive aspect of Christianity, that we are declared right with God not once we begin to get our act together but once we collapse into honest acknowledgement that we never will.”

“Intercession is the constant hitting ‘refresh’ of our justification in the court of heaven.”

“Christ turns the Father’s eyes to his own righteousness…to avert his gaze from our sins.”

“Christ continues to intercede on our behalf in heaven because we continue to fail here in earth. He does not forgive us through his work on the cross and then hope we make it the rest of the way.”

“Our prayer life stinks most of the time. But what if you heard Jesus praying aloud for you in the next room? Few things would calm us more deeply.”

~ “Gentle And Lowly” Chapter 8

Why? Because a God who is unreachable and may no longer really like us anymore, no less love us, is the tone of sermon after sermon. The spirit felt is that maybe we can never attain and be totally committed as we sincerely pursue — and as some claim, they themselves have attained, from the pulpit!



P.S.

Barnabas repeatedly cites how many PKs he has spoken with around the country. He speaks of how many PKs have fallen away, and how many live their lives for Him. Whether Barnabas Piper’s experience accurately reflects the PK world, I have no way to assess it. While I have seen PKs rebel against the home life of their parents, my experience says that it is not as typical as Barnabas Piper would like to suggest and thereby increase his comfortability with his own response.

Ruth and I raised four PKs. I made it clear to our family that I would leave the ministry before watching any of our children rebel against all we believe and I preach. If I can’t sell a love for the Lord at home, then I will not sell it to others.

I want to say THANK YOU to the hundreds of PKs who were examples in the church to other families, fellow teens, and their brothers and sisters. Thank you for being than youthful example, and surely for those and others who struggled in the arena, fought the good fight (and it is a good fight), and were not bitter, but enjoyed the ministry, along with mom and dad! 

A special thanks to our four PKs! 

When mom and I die, we are leaving behind four more soldiers to take our place, and 13 engaged or in training should our Lord tarry!

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

1. https://faithit.com/marriage-is-over-barnabas-piper/

2. http://thewartburgwatch.com/2018/11/19/barnabas-piper-pushes-back-at-john-piper-on-divorce-and-pastor-david-derksen-writes-a-grace-filled-book-on-divorce-and-infidelity/

3. https://churchleaders.com/news/394762-not-desiring-god-john-pipers-son-criticizes-his-upbringing-to-925k-tiktok-followers.html

4. Becoming a believer takes place at a point in time. That is why it is called “born-again,” compared to marriage/wedding, spoken of as “whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved,” and illustrated by the thief on the cross — “the guy on the middle cross said I can come.” [5]. We are then called on as believers to live out that new birth, that union with Christ, our salvation, and the declaration that nothing can now separate us from the love of God which is found iin Christ Jesus.

5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xk9wgJBoEd8

6. There are many who are “Calvinistic” in that they question one or two of the five points — the “L” and the “P” of T-U-L-I-P. They do not hold to or significantly divert on the “Limited Atonement” and “Perseverance of the Saints.”

7. Those who are “5-Point Calvinists” in the full sense hold to Calvin’s understanding of the doctrines of grace. Likewise, their preaching reflects the tone and spirit of Calvinism. There is a repeated emphasis on the possibility of not really being a Christian and even the hint that you may have lost your position in Christ. I say hint, because with some, the sermon is fogged up with affirmations that they are not saying what they are saying — They are not saying you can lose your salvation, but it sure sounds like that is what they are saying!

Dane Ortlund’s book “Gentle and Lowly “is so popular because it is such a contrast to such preaching found across America’s pulpit today!

8. If you want to see the double talk, reconcile these statements . . . .

“It follows from what was just said that the people of God WILL persevere to the end and not be lost. The foreknown are predestined, the predestined are called, the called are justified, and the justified are glorified. No one is lost from this group. To belong to this people is to be eternally secure.”

Our faith must endure to the end if we are to be saved. . . . Obedience, evidencing inner renewal from God, is necessary for final salvation. . . .There is a falling away of some believers, but if it persists, it shows that their faith was not genuine and they were not born of God. . . . The fact that such a thing is possible is precisely why the ministry of the Word in every local church must contain many admonitions to the church members to persevere in faith and not be entangled in those things which could possibly strangle them and result in their condemnation. God justifies us on the first genuine act of saving faith, but in doing so he has a view to all subsequent acts of faith contained, as it were, like a seed in that first act.”

Link: To the full PDF by John Piper On Perseverance of the Saints