Category: bible teaching

Is Matt Chandler A Believer?

[1]

One of the dynamics that seemingly operates among those in the New Calvinist (and many Calvinists) ideological camp is a questioning of one’s salvation experience —  Are you actually a Christian, a believer in the person and work of Jesus for your forgiveness of sin, if you are not living that out consistently in your life?

Much more could be said about that dynamic.  Nevertheless, it is interesting that this dynamic is not in play when it comes to the pastors and teachers of the Scripture who experience significant moral failures in the ministry! I only need to cite one of the most immediate examples, Matt Chandler. [2] There are others who illustrate this dynamic and about whom could be asked the same question. 

Why is no one asking (and no one is!), including Chandler himself, whether he was a Christian, a genuine believer, all the years of his pulpit ministry?  Shouldn’t that question be asked?  Should he publicly confess his new faith in Christ through the waters of baptism now that he has “repented” from such sinful practices — a sinful pattern that lasted for an extended period of time? 

While preaching to others the truths found in the Scriptures, he himself was sinfully hypocritical and found to be so by those closest to the situation within his local church. That ought to be sufficient reason alone for those who hold to this theological-ideology to call on Chandler to declare that he was not a believer and has since come to Christ as Saviour!

Yes, it is an interesting dynamic within the New Calvinists camp! Calling into question one’s salvation and/or shaking one’s faith in Christ doesn’t seem to operate when it comes to some of the most primary fallen preachers within the movement!  They themselves neither claim lostness, nor do other leaders within the ideological movement call out those who, like Chandler, occupy the pulpits while living a duplicitous sinful life

In contrast, there seems to be little hesitation when it comes to those sitting in the pew, struggling with real-life issues of Christlikeness as they navigate their lives outside of the local church employment.

Is Matt Chandler A Believer In The Person & Work Of Christ? 

I have no doubt that he is, but not based on what some pastors are teaching from the pulpits of their local churches! [1]

^


  1. “Humble Calvinism” — A Good Read!

    “We Calvinist leave behind a trail of destruction in our churches and families and friendships . . . .
    . . . We Calvinist might be the ones who don’t ‘get it’ yet.”

     

  2. https://julieroys.com/matt-chandler-steps-down-after-admitting-inappropriate-online-relationship/
  3. The same question could be asked of Robert Louis Dabney, an undeniably ardent racist yet a theological luminary.*  His writings may be some of the most cited works by men like John Piper, John Mac Arthur, et al.  Should we be citing the works of “lost men” like Dabney? 

*
Visionary???
Really!! 
He never repented in the slightest of his ardent racism!

One Reason You May Be Speaking Past Your Audience — Maybe It’s Near The Top?

Taking into account to whom you are speaking is basic to all communication. You do not speak or preach to children, teens, young people, adults, women, men, and/or seasoned saints the same way. In several ways, they are different audiences — intellectually, emotionally, in life experiences, and in their spiritual growth.

There is a brand of preaching that disregards that broad span of Christian spiritual growth. Most every speaker-preacher-teacher would quickly acknowledge that his audience includes those who may not even profess Christ, or who are new believers in Christ, or who have walked with Christ for a number of years, as well as those who are mature believers.

However, their preaching falls far short of that reality, not in content but in prospects or expectations. It is not that what is being said cannot be understood by most all the listeners. Rather, it is that their spiritual maturity — or lack of it as new believers — gives them different ears. Being told that they need to be where others are, or where the preacher believes mature believers ought to be, (or where the preacher “humbly states or implies” that he is), can easily lead to great discouragement!

One could preach about the faith of Abraham in the offering of Issac, Daniel in the lion’s den, Shadrack, Meshach, & Abednego in the fiery furnace, Samson in the final day of his life, Peter’s boldness to speak the Gospel in the book of Acts, Joseph’s response to his brother’s presence, et al. However, all of them had many chapters of life that preceded any one of those great events.

They give the impression that “this” is where one who names the name of Christ needs to be NOW. The implication is that there is no real-life progression. In fact, even more extreme tendencies imply that one may not even be truly saved if they are not there in their Christian walk.

There is little difficulty in calling up a response of struggle, difficulty, and/or failure. Any preacher knows that he can preach a message on prayer and easily challenge everyone in attendance (and if honest, it includes himself).

  • There are areas of Christian life and living that all believers generally struggle with. 
  • There are areas of Christian life and living that some do, and some do not struggle with — some find sharing the Gospel with others easy, and others fail and fail at it!
  • There are areas of the Christian life that some struggle with early in their Christian lives, and others later in their lives.
  • There are areas that come with age, circumstances, finances, marriage, child-rearing, old age, etc. . . . . .

Often, I would say this . . . . 

“The question is not — “Are we where we should be?” or “Are we where this passage presents?” Rather, can we be “more” or “better” in this? It is not “we are” or “we are not,” but can we be more than we are?

Do we fail, over and over, when it comes to temptation? The truth is that most of us cannot even resist that brownie; how will we ever claim consistent victory on this side of glory? But we can continually confess and repent and go at it again — and again — and again!

You preach differently when you genuinely take into account the spiritual span of those listening, the wide variety of people who are seeking to live for Christ in real life and living. God’s people are encouraged to continue the battle. There is hope (and there is – ask Peter) for those who stay in that battle. 

When God’s people are told (over and over and over) that they are not where they should be, they are dispirited! The preacher-teacher confuses and stifles them because he fails to take into account that they are babes, or still children in Christ, or young men — but are not old men in the faith (I John 2).

Let me also say that there are some preachers-teachers, not all, but far more than we would like to admit, who need to get out of their ivory tower and/or lay aside their own disingenuous self-confidence. Such ministries are marked by dispirited and disheartened people who may have concluded that they never will reach this-or-that measure! They are not done a disservice at best, and great damage at worse. When God’s people could be striving and pursuing, they have lost all heart. They are not even sure they are saved.

Some will find a different ministry that again speaks to their heart’s desires. They may not be able to pinpoint the difference, but they know their hope of living for Christ in this world has been renewed.  They will re-enlist and get back on the road with newfound excitement.

Sadly, some will just drop out of church, never to return. Not only because of them but also because of a pastor who made it hard to live for Christ! They put burdens on mens’ spiritual shoulders. They could never reach the standard held out as a here-and-now absolute rather than our aspiration. Like some fathers who have provoked their children and discouraged them! They do it with God’s children, over who they claim to be shepherds.

No, like in families, there is a shared responsibility between both children and fathers, between pastors and people, when we dishearten! 

 

Trend #2 – Sadly Left Unchallenged

As stated, two preaching-teaching trends seem to be repeatedly showing up in our day. They are found in local church ministries and subtly appear in online Bible studies, magazine articles, books, or podcasts.

Some congregations may not recognize what is unadmittable being taught. Nevertheless, the groundwork for extreme theological-ideological positions is being laid.

Theological Trend #2: A Denial Of Our Security In Christ.

There seems to be a willingness and even a wantingness to conclude that someone is not a Christian if they are not living as they ought — and, indeed, may not be living as Christ would have us live.

Of course, being a Christian is more than making a profession.

However, this is kind of strawman statement that is used to obscure what is actually being said.  This is where the duplicity and nuanced double-talk shows up.  The existent theological position on eternal security is unexpressed and/or wittingly left unclear.

When it is subtly intimated that one can lose their salvation, or that one’s faith is suspect because he/she is not living for Christ, what IS seemingly being suggested is typically papered over.  

Even the preacher-teacher knows that what he is saying sounds like what he actually believes. Therefore, even though overly unchallenged as he speaks (or when actually challenged), he calls up that obvious truth upon which we all agree. . . . 

 “Well, we all know that one can be professing and not possessing.” 

“We would all agree that there must be some fruit in one’s life if one is truly a Christian.”

 “I am not saying that you can lose your salvation, but when there is no fruit, no life of faith . . . .” 

While he claims that he is not saying what he is saying, he sure sounds like he is saying just that.

Who can disagree with “no,” or “some fruit,” or the reality of professors?  “No” and “some fruit” are the weasel words that leave the real question unanswered. 

And “Yes,” we all know that you can profess and not possess, but that is not the point. That is a diversion!    

But what about inconsistent, sporadic, or a very erratic pattern/trajectory?  

The real question is — “Can a person who has truly professed Christ as their Saviour lose their standing in Christ even if they live a very inconsistent “believer’s” life that we might believe is a reflection of those who are lost?”

It may take “twenty more questions,” (and maybe by someone who holds to and knows the biblical position on eternal security)  to get at what the preacher-teacher actually believes.

^

“Assurance of salvation” affects the way we live life as a believer — confidently or with great uncertainty. Uncertainty breeds all sorts of troubles.  

Go to work every day with the feeling that you are about to lose your job.  

Experience a marriage that feels like your spouse is going to walk out on you one day.

OR fall into some sin, or fight a sin that so easily besets you!

^

Instead of seeking to encourage those who struggle in their faith, some pastors-teachers seem to find their intentional focus on such uncertainty. It is intentional because their theological-ideology pushes them into that ditch.

Of course, there is good reason to challenge some who are living inconsistent lives about their faith, and to periodically preach a message on being in the faith. But again, such is used as part of the “papering job” to cover what is really believed and being covertly taught — THAT . . . . at the end, some might not make it if they do not persevere to the end. Oh, they are saying that without saying that!

I suggest we might ask these individuals about perseverance. . . . 

  • Saul — who consulted a witch before he died
  • Moses — who floundered at the end and was forbidden by God Himself to enter the promised land
  • Solomon — who seemingly lost his wisdom when it came to obeying God’s commandments
  • Samson — who did more in his death than his life
  • Lot — one of the most immoral characters of the Bible
  • Peter and the other disciples — who walked with Jesus (24/7/365/3 years, and saw and heard what we have but a small record of, and denied their Lord
  • The Corinthians — one of the most carnal churches we have a record of in the Bible
  • Uzziah — who died of leprosy
  • Many of the other godly kings of Israel — who did not wholly follow the Lord
  • David — and it’s far more than only Bathsheba.
  • The many preachers-Bible teachers, who into the middle 20th century, supported chattel slavery, owned and sold slaves, and/or were truly racist all their lives and ministry [1]
  • Disgraced preachers-teachers of today — who do not claim that they were lost during their sinful escapades and now have found Christ.

What about those levels of inconsistency?
Let’s talk about those sins and their “trajectory” in life.   

√ Which sins do we want to identify as indicators of lostness when it comes to those who claim Christ as their Saviour? Which “inconsistencies” and sins do we want to use as our markers for unsettling God’s people about their faith in Christ?

√ Can a person who has called on His name (Acts 9:14; Romans 10:12, 13, 14), has been born-again from above (as Jesus says to Nicodemus — a believer?), or who is justified (Romans 8:35) — also be a person who can lose the “eternal life” they were given (John 10)

√ Can a Christian be a person who will not persevere?

Rather than repeatedly shaking the faith of God’s people, let’s strengthen them and individually deal with those questionable cases as they arise.  

Rather than quickly and easily concluding that some must not be a believer because someone is struggling in their Christian life — and even significantly struggling — Let’s talk to them about the love of Christ . . . . . 

“Come unto me all ye who labor and are heavy laden.” — Matthew 11:28

“that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me — John 17:23

When someone has called on Christ, in their earliest years, as teenagers, or beyond, and have sought to follow Christ over years (and even decades), but are now facing some real spiritual battles, do not glibly assert — “Well, you are probably not a believer” — as your diagnosis. Such a simplistic diagnosis disregards the nature of the spiritual battle all of God’s people face DAILY. [2]

Their need is not salvation, but the call is to move on to maturity, not find some more comfortable resort by which to explain their worldly walk, such as, “Well, maybe I’m not really saved.” 

“No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Spirit.”

We well understand that you can repeat the words — “Jesus is the Lord” without the Spirit’s work in your heart. The obvious point is that it takes the work of the Spirit of God to say that and mean it in your heart.  

However, when you have said — Jesus Is Lord — and it is from your heart, you mean it. It is because the Spirit has done a work in your heart. That supernatural work the Spirit will not repent of, or the Godhead will disavow. God did not adopt you, place you in Christ, forgive your sin, promise you life and life eternal, and seal you with the Spirit — only to take it away at some point in time.

There is a great deal of duplicity and dexterity when it comes to being theologically honest with God’s people. These trends [3] are more subtle and, at times, reflect a level of artifice in order to avoid questions about what is being taught by the ministry.  While the typical layman-woman may not fully grasp or understand what is being taught in their church, the groundwork is being laid for the acceptance of a dangerous twisting of what the Scriptures teach about our security in Christ.

♦♦♦♦♦

I am so grateful for the works and words of men like D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, whose works and words are still available today.  He provide great clarity, argument, and insight on this doctrine!

Link: D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones on Eternal Security . . . .

“If this doctrine (Eternal Security) isn’t true, well then if you ever find yourself in glory, the glory will have to go to you for holding on.

The position would be this — that you like a number of other people, have been given the same gift of salvation and eternal life — They foolish didn’t hold on it, but that you did.  And therefore the glory goes to you for holding on.

But that’s a blank contradiction of the teaching of the Scriptures everywhere. . . . Man has nothing to boast of at all.  And when you and I arrive in heaven — my dear friends — we realize that we are there not because we held on while others gave up — but because He held on to us. . . . and we’ll give Him all the praise, the honor, and the glory.”     [4]



1. Check out the works of Robert Louis Dabney, the oft-quoted preacher and reformed theologian of the 1800-1900s.  

Oft quoted by John Mac Arthur, John Piper, Joe Rigney (President of BC&S), and their oft conference speaker, Doug Wilson.

Reformed White Supremacist
(Reformed, not as in “changed,” but as in theology)

In his time, Robert Lewis Dabney (1820–1898) was considered one of the greatest teachers of theology in the United States. Revered theologians such as Hodge, Shedd, Warfield, Bavinck, and Barth viewed him with appreciation and respect. Dabney was a thoroughly Reformed, five-point Calvinist who believed in the supremacy of God in all things. However, his view of God’s sovereignty, a true and beautiful doctrine, tragically became interwoven with his racism, as he consistently used the doctrine of “providence” to reinforce his white supremacy.

Read on for more of the horrid position Dabney held on race.
https://biblioskolex.wordpress.com/2021/12/16/love-your-enemies-john-piper-and-robert-lewis-dabney-part-2/

2. I might suggest that this trend seemingly travels with those who have adopted Trend #1, as well as a theological ideology that embraces the edges extreme ditches of Calvinism. 

This trend dates back to and includes John Mac Arthur and his position on “Lordship Salvation.”

3. That is Paul’s argument in Hebrews 6. As Paul states, let us move on to maturity-perfection! For it is impossible for those who have been enlightened and partakers of the Holy Spirit . . . . that if they have fallen away as you might believe, it is impossible to renew themselves unto repentance for Christ would have to be crucified anew!

4. Link To Lloyd-Jones’ Full Message

External Link To Lloyd-Jones Full Message

https://jameslau88.com/2020/05/10/the-doctrine-of-being-saved-eternally-by-martyn-lloyd-jones/

♦♦♦♦♦

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones on Eternal Security . . . .

“If this doctrine (Eternal Security) isn’t true, well then if you ever find yourself in glory, the glory will have to go to you for holding on.

The position would be this — that you like a number of other people, have been given the same gift of salvation and eternal life — They foolish didn’t hold on it, but that you did.  And therefore the glory goes to you for holding on.

But that’s a blank contradiction of the teaching of the Scriptures everywhere. . . . Man has nothing to boast of at all.  And when you and I arrive in heaven — my dear friends — we realize that we are there not because we held on while others gave up — but because He held on to us. . . . and we’ll give Him all the praise, the honor, and the glory.”     

Alistair Begg Probably Has It Right . . . . But

With my love in the Lord Jesus,
Alistair Begg

^

A great short read by Alistair Begg, and he probably has it right.  Notwithstanding, his sermons on the Sabbath and this post probably aren’t changing the practices of most believers, pastors, or churches.

Why?

Perhaps because we are not as spiritually malleable as we think and say we are!

As a matter of fact, many churches have canceled the evening service,  with the “shepherd’s approval,”  if not instigation!   The Lord’s Day now becomes “Our Day” around noon!   And then some pastors decry what is happening in our culture and society — shamelessly!

 
 

1. From Begg’s Sermon . . . 

Now, we can highlight this in a number of ways. Let me do so by quoting from the Civil War. I think it’s the Civil War, isn’t it? Stonewall Jackson? General Jackson is a legend in American history. Any of you who have read of Jackson will know that he was a man of extreme principle and character. At the very heart of this was his conviction of faith in Jesus Christ. And his extreme rigorous character attached itself also to the observance of the Sabbath. And writing in his biography, his widow says,

And writing in his  biography, his widow says,

Certainly he was not less scrupulous in obeying the divine command to “remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy” than he was in any other rule of his life. Since the Creator had set apart this day for his own, and commanded it to be kept holy, he believed that it was … wrong for him to desecrate it by worldly pleasure, idleness, or secular employment, as to break any other commandment of the decalogue. Sunday was his busiest day of the week, as he always attended church twice a day and taught in two Sabbath schools! He refrained as much as possible from all worldly conversation, and in his family, if secular topics were introduced, he would say, with a kindly smile, “We will talk about that to-morrow.”

He never travelled on Sunday, never took his mail from the post-office, nor permitted a letter of his own to travel on that day, always before posting it calculating the time it required to reach its destination ….

One so strict in his own Sabbath observance naturally believed that it was wrong for the government to carry the [mail] on Sunday. Any organization which exacted secular labor of its employees on the Lord’s day was, in his opinion, a violator of God’s law.[2]

And so his life was marked by a rigorous obedience to the law of God.

Now, loved ones, here’s the question: Is this quote from Jackson an anachronism? In other words, if Jackson was right, where does that leave us? ’Cause if we’re right, most of us, he was wrong. But one thing is for sure: we’re not both right. So we need to go to our Bibles, then, and determine who approximates to the instruction of God’s Word closely. Is it us, in our libertine rejection of the Lord’s Day, or is it Jackson, in his rigorous obedience of it?

“Desiring God” — It Is Getting Bizarre!

Here is the link to the article, put out by “Desiring God,”  one of the ministries of John Piper. Read it yourself if you have doubts about how bizarre this is becoming!

LINK: O Beard, Where Art Thou — August 22, 2022

 #1 – Saying it, but not saying it: That is the way these kinds of articles protect themselves from legitimate criticism.  They are really saying it, but they make sure they include caveats that they can then point to in order to argue that they are not saying it — “Look, I said in the article that . . . . ”

Make no mistake; the article is making a point and saying it while denying that they are saying it.  No, growing a beard is not God’s will for all men, but it is the way God created men, in contrast to being a child, or a woman . . . .

“Why did God make men with the capacity to grow beards? Why grow beards at all, or why not give them to children and women. . . .”

I’m not saying that beards are God’s plan for all men, some men have difficulty growing a beard, but God did put it into your created DNA . . . .

“He shaded the man’s face with his pencil from the very beginning.”

“What ecstasy of Adam observing the beautiful and smooth face of Eve.”

I’m not saying you have to don a beard — but look at all these Bible verses (for whatever reason?) I have cited! [1]

^

#2 – Lost Credibility: Regardless of the fact that the Scriptures nowhere (nada — zippo — zilch — zero)  makes any argument for or against facial hair, such “theological scholars” will find verses in the Bible that address that issue for an application today.

There is no doubt that there were ways to shame men by shaving their beards, stripping them naked, mocking them publicly, or pointing out one’s inconsistencies. [1].

Nevertheless, to call up various biblical references about facial hair and then seek to apply it to God’s people today is ludicrous — at best!  At worse, it reveals one’s ability to make the Bible stay whatever you want it to say.  Such articles only bear witness to how easily they can contort the Scriptures!

^

#3 – Shameless Motivation:  The motivation of such an article is clearly stated by the author . . . . .

That makes literal beards, in my opinion, worth having. Beards protest against a world gone mad. In other words, beards beard. They testify, in their own bristly way, that sex distinctions matter, that manhood will not be so easily shaven, shorn, or chopped by the Hanuns of this world. Its itchy and cheeky voice bears witness, “Male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). [3]

This is an attempt to use the Bible . . . .

  • to provide a “biblical” and useful line of argument [4]
  • to encourage the use of facial hair as a means of protest in our world [5]
  • to be scripturally, AND politically and culturally relevant [6]
  • to counter the political and cultural trends of today [7]

^



^

1. Per the citing of the movie “Braveheart,” he had no beard, but he did have very long hair!  Even though the author states that “Rome’s men were clean-shaven in biblical times,” in the movie “Gladiator,” as cited, he has a very short and sleek, styled shadow beard.

Also, I have never seen a picture of a bearded John Piper.

Also, in the ’60s, a beard was considered “nada” for God’s people.

Yes, this is how twisted it gets in reformed circles!

2. Paul even publicly shamed some of God’s people for their biblical ignorance, hypocrisy, or inconsistency — I Corinthians 6:5; 15:34; II Thessalonians 3:14-15

3. Again, I’m not saying you should don a beard, but hey, if you want to stand and protest in support of God’s design, you should think about this, but don’t misunderstand me since I did say that you don’t have to be bearded to be biblical.

4. This “biblical” reasoning will be repeated and repeated “to say, but not say.”  Whatever the issue, this handling of the Scriptures, and this duplicitious approach is being taught by example to ministry leaders and pastors across the reformed spectrum!

5. Rather sad, isn’t it?  That is how we counter our culture — “by this shall all men now that you are my disciples?”

6. It is all part of the distorted view about the “sufficiency of Scripture.”  You see, the Bible even addresses facial hair and cultural protest.

7.  As stated, these kinds of articles are part of today’s evangelical church life, which desires to weigh in on just about any and all political, cultural, economic (i.e. student debt forgiveness), or sociological issues on the front pages.

^

P.S.   This “I’m not saying, while saying it”  is how the argument is made on other issues that are just as questionable, such as eternal security.  Caveats are included to protect, not to clarify.  In fact, they fog the issues by saying what they really believe and then adding that they are not saying what they just said.

Perseverance of the Saints

There is a broad spectrum of beliefs and positions when we talk about “Calvinism.”

While few, if any, would ever accept the label of being a “hyper-Calvinist,” such a category exists!  There are those who are theological-ideologues and are on the EXTREME edges of Calvinism.

Typically the “extremes” revolve around the “L” and the “P” of “T-U-L-I-P” — “Limited Atonement” and (more damagingly) “The Perseverance of the Saints.”

The damage is caused by a fogging of the biblical truth that one is secure in Jesus.  That fog is the result of stating that one cannot lose their salvation, that they are secure, and then implying that one can lose their salvation.

The damage is that God’s people are continually shaken in their confidence that the Lord saves and keeps them!

Here is an example of just that, from one of the most prolific writers of our day, and an extreme Calvinist.

“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.”

That statement is followed by this . . . .

“Our faith must endure to the end if we are to be saved. . . . Nevertheless, we must also own up to the fact that our final salvation is made contingent upon the subsequent obedience which comes from faith.”

(If you want to read these statements in their full context,
here is the link to the total statement of faith.)

How does put together “eternally secure” and the words “if” and “contingent?

(If you read the whole statement of faith,
you will see that fog & tension throughout!)

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones does a masterful job of revealing the extreme nature of this Calvinistic position and, as he states, the ridiculous nature of such a position!

Here is an audio clip taken from Lloyd-Jones’ message on eternal security.

AUDIO CLIP

As Lloyd-Jones indicates . . . .

“The main purpose of salvation is the glory of God, the vindication of His glory, and the sovereignty of the character of God. This ultimate purpose, says Dr. Lloyd-Jones, changes everything, namely the assurance of the outcome of God’s glory. Moreover, there are opportunities for pride as those who deny the final perseverance of the saints are forced to deny that it is ultimately God who causes endurance until the end, and instead must affirm that there is some quality inside those who are received into glory that is different from those who fall away.”

“The glory would have to go to you for holding on!”

It is to our glory if holding onto our salvation is up to us!



Link To Lloyd-Jones’ Full Message

External Link To Lloyd-Jones Full Message

https://jameslau88.com/2020/05/10/the-doctrine-of-being-saved-eternally-by-martyn-lloyd-jones/

♦♦♦♦♦

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones on Eternal Security . . . .

“If this doctrine (Eternal Security) isn’t true, well then if you ever find yourself in glory, the glory will have to go to you for holding on.

The position would be this — that you like a number of other people, have been given the same gift of salvation and eternal life — They foolish didn’t hold on it, but that you did.  And therefore the glory goes to you for holding on.

But that’s a blank contradiction of the teaching of the Scriptures everywhere. . . . Man has nothing to boast of at all.  And when you and I arrive in heaven — my dear friends — we realize that we are there not because we held on while others gave up — but because He held on to us. . . . and we’ll give Him all the praise, the honor, and the glory.”     

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!”

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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]  

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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! 

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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!