Posted tagged ‘Bible’

Where Do Such Ideas Come From?

July 3, 2013

Recently there has been a lot of discussion among missions-minded people about something called the “Insider Movement.”  To quote from a great summary article available here,

Fundamentally, Insiders are those who profess faith in Christ but remain members of their original religious communities; Muslims remain Muslims, Hindus remain Hindus, and Buddhists remain Buddhists. In the Muslim world that means they must acknowledge one exclusive God, Allah, and that Mohammed is his final and greatest messenger. They remain members of the mosque, practice the five pillars of Islam, live openly in their cultures as Muslims, participate in Muslim sacrifices and feasts, and identify themselves as Muslims. In many cases, I’m familiar with baptized Christians who are persuaded to re-enter the mosque after renouncing their Christian identities. In the case of Muslim Insiders, most acknowledge four sacred books: the Law, Psalms, “Gospel” (as a book originally given to Jesus, but no longer in existence), and Koran. Of these texts, many assume that since the Koran is the latest, it is still the greatest, though others see both containing God’s Word. Insiders typically claim the Bible as inspiration for their view,  at least part of it.

As we discussed at our noon study today, this view hardly does justice to the Gospel.  The Gospel calls us to forsake our worldly ties and ways and follow Christ alone.  Certainly, we aren’t to leave our family or home, but we are to be identified with Christ and His people, the Church.  After all, the early church, at Pentecost, did this very thing and grew because of  obedience.  There were not to be secret Christians.

So, where do missionaries get this kind of thinking?  I think it begins at home–in the very churches were they grew up.  Yep, here in America we really do the same thing.  Want to become a Christian, but ignore what the Bible says about God specially creating man?  No problem.  The same goes for wanting to be active in homosexuality and still be called a Christian.  Have trouble with gender roles as God created them?  We just issue new translations that are gender neutral.  Want to be a part of God’s Covenant community without actually committing to join the community?  Okay, no membership, no responsibilities, no obligation.  Just come when you want.

The word we translate, “church,” in the Bible is, ecclesia.  While it means a congregation of believers, it literally means, called out.  ‘We have a real ecclesiology problem in the US.  We don’t look like the New Testament Church.  We don’t even look like a Country Club; even they have membership requirements and some rules and obligations.  We are afraid of running people off if we have standards.  Why does the Country Club flourish with standards?  Perhaps it has something worth belonging to.  When we water ourselves down so that everyone will be happy, we have nothing worth belonging to.

Part of our problem is that we see our salvation much more as a personal thing than a corporate one.  We forget that God sees us as a part of the body, not as a solo act.  (See Paul’s lecture to the Corinthians in his first letter, chapter 11.)

The other part of the problem is that we want to grow in numbers at whatever cost.  By the second  or third generation of doing things this way, it seems normal.  So, we presume, since everyone does it, it must be right.

So, when we throw stones at the missionaries who err so obviously, we need to remember the old truth, canonical or not, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone!”


Murders In Huntsville

February 13, 2010

These past two weeks have seen school shooting in our town.  First, there was the shooting at Discovery Middle School.  Now, yesterday a UAH Professor was accused of killing three colleagues and wounding three others.
The community response to these terrible acts has been good, in the sense that most people are full of concern and compassion for the families.  There has also been talk about learning lessons from the shootings that will help prevent similar acts in the future.

What is surprising, considering the number of people who identify themselves as Christians, has been the surprise exhibited that such a thing could happen here.  Our theology informs us that people, since the fall, are inherently evil.  We do, according to Paul, the things we know we should not do. (Romans 7)  While Paul is speaking, I believe, particularly about non-christians, the same is true about us–we sin!

In fact, our faith is based upon an understanding that it was our sins which required Christ to die.  To put it truthfully, but perhaps too strongly, we are all forgiven murderers.

In Acts 2 and 3, that is the way that Peter preaches the Gospel–“Hey. you murderers, be forgiven and believe on Jesus!”

Now I understand that most of us will never actually commit a murder in this life, it is important for us to understand that sin in all its forms is related to murder.  We shouldn’t be shocked to see it happen.
So, when murder happens we do need to be filled with compassion for those who have lost family or friends.  We need to grieve with them.  We do need to think about what steps we can take  to restrain others from doing similar acts in the future.  We also, however, need to have compassion on those who are still alive and preach the Gospel to them.  Read Acts 2 and 3, and be prepared.  Tomorrow we will look at how Peter used his time to explain our need for the Savior to people exposed to murder.  Let’s learn from it.

See This Jib Sheet Post on Scripture Twisting

August 30, 2008

I have posted a comment on recent Scripture twisting in the current political race.  You can find it here.

Coming to a Church (and courtroom) Near You?

August 7, 2008

There is an interesting case before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals right now.  You can read about Canyon Road Baptist Church here.  The bottom line is that a Pastor scheduled a movie one Sunday evening, dealing with the fight for one man/one woman marriage in the political area.   The movie came at the issue from a biblical perspective.  After the movie, petitions to support an effort to get the issue on the ballot were in the back of the church.  The church got dinged for not filing as a political committee under Montana law.

The church cited First Amendment religious grounds for not filing as a committee; every issue has religious overtones.  For a Christian, worldview means knowing how God thinks about everything.  The court lost in the Administrative Court, the Federal District Court, and is now before the appeals court.
One could argue that a more legally savvy Pastor could have gotten around the whole thing by moving the petitions outside–announcing that a separate organization was handling them.  But, shoud he have to?  How far a reach is it to imagine that even if there were no petitions, some group might bring an action against the Pastor and Church for political rhetoric on any issue such as marriage, divorce, abortion, or even theft!  Where does it stop?

Lest you think this is far-fetched imagining, Pastors have already been taken to criminal court for “hate speech” in Canada and Scandanavia.  So, when does a Sermon or teaching become a court case?  The answer for me is, I don’t know any longer.  The bigger question is, will this threat or perceived threat silence the church.  No!  That I do know.


July 12, 2008

What a fearsome word.  Hearing the word, apostasy, reminds me of talking with my wife about life insurance.  It makes me uncomfortable.  The Greek root speaks of departing, rebelling, turning, etc.  It ain’t pretty.

Starting this Sunday, we will be looking at the first half of 2 Peter 1.  In this chapter, Peter speaks of an experiential knowledge of God.  Later, in Chapter 2, he says that apostates share in this knowledge.  (Remember the parable of the seed sown on different soils?)

So, on Wednesday night we will discuss apostasy.  We will look at why the Bible says that apostates are folks who never have a saving faith.  Our focus will be in Hebrews 6, 2 Peter 2 and 1 Timothy 4.  Bring your questions.  It really is more important than the other life insurance!


July 5, 2008

You probably don’t know them by the name, “valedictions.”  In fact, due to email and other brief forms of communication (texting, etc.) you may not use them as frequently as you did in the past.  Valedictions are the “goodbyes” at the end of a letter (sincerely yours) or, at the end of a school year (the valedictory address).

While graduation speakers, usually the highest ranking student in the class, may put more time into their valediction, the words, like endings on a letter, are quickly forgotten; few remember what a validictorian said, or whether you ended your letter with a “sincerely yours” or a “very truly yours.”

Having said that, it may seem strange that I am preaching on the valediction which Paul gave in his letter to the Ephesians.  After all, he has stopped teaching and it is just a “goodbye.”  Well, in the “old days,” it seems that a goodbye was a real valediction.  So, we will actually spend some time looking at how Paul says goodbye.  I think when we are done, you will see that it was much more than a “;sincerely yours.”

The Two Seeds

April 27, 2008

In Genesis 3, God, as part of the curse, puts hostility between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman; then he promises redemption to the woman.

Today in church we were reviewing the conflict that the movie, Expelled creates.  Anti-God “seed” and those who claim Him as father argue over intelligent design.  Did God create us?  We say He did, they say He didn’t.

I asked why there aren’t more conflicts representative of the seed conflict.  Why don’t we see more “spiritual warfare?”  The conversation concluded, through Jim’s comment,  that we don’t because we have made peace with so many ideas that are contrary to a Christian worldview.

Cindy said that she thinks that most of us lack the training needed to go on the defensive (offensive) and take on those who speak loudly against God.  Yet, Peter says that we are always to be ready to “apologize” for our faith.

My suggestion was that we use our minds to point out the inconsistencies in other worldviews.  For example, I read from Darwin’s The Descent of Man, and showed where he, within five pages of explaining how the survival of the fittest applies to civilized man, and where he says it doesn’t (pp.182-187).  That is an inconsistency we need to talk about.

At the same time, we should expect that the natural man won’t understand our worldview, but at least we will have taken the first step to get him to question his.  That may create conflict, but it is a kind act towards preparing others for the Gospel.

Always, when doing apologetics, use the Railroad Sign” approach; stop, look and listen.  Stop before you barge right in.  Look and listen to see if this is a good time to do this.  Will your making your point humiliate your friend in front of others?  Is he so angry that he won’t hear what you say?  Can you plan a follow up conversation?

Finally, don’t be surprised by conflict.  Spiritual conflict is what Jesus promised us.  It is what He uses to reach others through you–the seed.