Friday, November 25, 2005

The Peril of Spiritual Infidelity

Those who are trumpeting the message that behavior is more important than belief would do well to take a closer look at Scripture. Rather than disregard or hold belief at a level of lower importance, Scriptural truth should be the basis of our actions. In fact, the Bible never separates truth from practical application and a call to act on that truth. When Paul would teach doctrinal truth, he always connected the truth with practical action in the life of the believer. (2 Peter 3:10-12) He would present the truth in such a way as if to say, “in light of this, this is how we should live our lives.” If we would teach expositionally and present the truth within context, Christians would be able to note the connection. That is the beauty of true expositional teaching and the reason why it often becomes difficult to make this connection with the incessant barrage of topical teaching so prevalent today. It becomes too easy to pull verses out of context to essentially teach what we want and miss the whole point of the passage. Furthermore, it allows too much latitude to skip over passages of Scripture that a pastor just does not want to deal with, but would really be beneficial for the congregation to hear. It is too convenient for the pastor skip over anything he thinks would offend some people. My question is when did Jesus ever avoid certain truth because it was offensive?

The peril of not abiding by and defending God’s truth can be seen in the Lord’s condemnation in His letter to the church in Thyatira. The Bible teaches us that they were a church dominated by love and good works. In fact, their works continually kept increasing. But they had one major flaw; they tolerated false teaching in their midst. The Lord gives a very strong condemnation to Thyatira promising harsh judgment, unless they repent.

19 “I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first. 20 Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. 21 And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. 22 Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. 23 I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works. (Revelation 2:19-23, NKJV™)

The terms associated with sexual immorality are often used in Scripture in reference to spiritual apostasy. (Leviticus 20:1-5, Leviticus 17:7, Deuteronomy 31:16, Exodus 34:15-16)They are certainly not flattering terms. Proverbs 7 provides a description of how a harlot cleverly seduces the undiscerning. If you want to get a vivid picture of the cunning tactics of a harlot, read Proverbs 7. The seductive qualities of false religion bear a striking resemblance, with spiritually deadly consequences.

“6For at the window of my house I looked out through my lattice, 7And I saw among the naive, And discerned among the youths A young man lacking sense, 8Passing through the street near her corner; And he takes the way to her house, 9In the twilight, in the evening, In the middle of the night and in the darkness. 10And behold, a woman comes to meet him, Dressed as a harlot and cunning of heart.”
(Proverbs 7:6-10,

“21With her many persuasions she entices him; With her flattering lips she seduces him. 22Suddenly he follows her As an ox goes to the slaughter, Or as one in fetters to the discipline of a fool, 23Until an arrow pierces through his liver; As a bird hastens to the snare, So he does not know that it will cost him his life. 24Now therefore, my sons, listen to me, And pay attention to the words of my mouth. 25Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways, Do not stray into her paths. 26For many are the victims she has cast down, And numerous are all her slain. 27Her house is the way to Sheol, Descending to the chambers of death.”(Proverbs 7:21-27, NASB®)

In much the same fashion, believers are in the same dilemma today due to the prevailing shallow understanding of biblical truth. Unfortunately, believers are easily seduced by a spiritually that bears a resemblance to Christianity, but in reality, runs counter to Scripture. The charge that knowledge of the truth is not all that important does not square with the teaching of Scripture. Israel fell into the same peril due to their neglect of the truth and we would do well to take note of the error they fell into so that we do not make the same error. Spiritual naïveté is dangerous.

“18 Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; But happy is he who keeps the law.”
(Proverbs 29:18, NKJV™

The “revelation” spoken of here is referring to the revealed Word of God. Without the proclamation of God’s divinely inspired truth, people operate according to their own desires, which leads to the path of destruction.
The only remedy to avoid being taken in by the harlotry of false religion is to take heed to God’s Word. Knowledge of God’s Word produces wisdom and understanding. God is our heavenly Father who has given us His Word to keep us from falling victim to false teaching.

“ 1 My son, if you receive my words, And treasure my commands within you, 2 So that you incline your ear to wisdom, And apply your heart to understanding; 3 Yes, if you cry out for discernment, And lift up your voice for understanding, 4 If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures; 5 Then you will understand the fear of the LORD, And find the knowledge of God.”
(Proverbs 2:1-5, NKJV™)

“ 10 When wisdom enters your heart, And knowledge is pleasant to your soul, 11 Discretion will preserve you; Understanding will keep you, 12 To deliver you from the way of evil, From the man who speaks perverse things, 13 From those who leave the paths of uprightness To walk in the ways of darkness; 14 Who rejoice in doing evil, And delight in the perversity of the wicked; 15 Whose ways are crooked, And who are devious in their paths; 16 To deliver you from the immoral woman, From the seductress who flatters with her words, 17 Who forsakes the companion of her youth, And forgets the covenant of her God.”
(Proverbs 2:10-17, NKJV™)

Friday, November 11, 2005

What You Know Still Matters.

It seems that it is becoming popular to emphasize behavior over truth these days, that how you act is more important than what you know. I can understand some of the concern here and can appreciate the emphasis on our actions. I think that we have observed through the years examples of people who merely possess head knowledge, but exhibit little behavioral change. Their knowledge has no impact on their life because it has not been embedded in their heart. Scripture warns us not to be mere hearers of the word, but to be doers of the Word.

"22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves."
(James 1:22, NKJV™)

But the admonition is not to ignore the Word of God, but simply to take action on the Word. To dichotomize truth from behavior is plainly wrongheaded and misses the point that Scripture is teaching.

Yet, influential leaders such as Rick Warren are sending the message that what you know really is not all that important. In fact, he is calling for a so-called “New Reformation” based on behavior rather than on belief, implying that the Reformation was only concerned with knowledge. But this notion is ridiculous, for any amount of study of the Reformation reveals the reformers truly had a heart for God and desired that their lives lined up with God’s truth. Are we therefore to conclude that men like Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield who stood for the doctrinal principles that were laid out during the Reformation were only concerned with head knowledge? Are we therefore to ignore the fact that their stand on Scriptural truth and the proclamation of that truth changed the hearts of men that sparked the Great Awakening? I wonder just how much of the writings of theses men Rick Warren has read. How about the multitudes of believers who have reached out to the poor and destitute, demonstrating Christ like love with the earnest desire that in the process they would share the truth of the gospel? Scripture does point out that we are to take the opportunity to take care of the needs of people. (Galatians 6:9-11)

"9)Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.
10So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith."
(Galatians 6:9-11, NASB®)

Certainly, the church needs to be reminded to reach out to the needs of others. And, unfortunately, much of the church has had a tendency to become self-serving. However, nothing in Scripture teaches us to emphasize meeting social needs above ministering the truth of the gospel. Sidelining truth for social causes is taught nowhere in the Bible. Furthermore, Scripture does not declare that the church’s primary focus is to champion social causes. Scripture emphasize the need to diligently battle for the truth.

“3 Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.”
(Jude 1:3, NKJV™)

"God has called us to enjoy and fellowship with each other and work together. We're all in this together," he said, adding Baptists can "celebrate our diversity and celebrate our unity."
“Warren: Global Baptists 'are all in this together' “
By Trennis Henderson
Biblical Recorder, July 28, 2005

“Urging Christians to pursue “a new reformation” in the 21st century, Rick Warren told delegates to the Baptist World Centenary Congress, “The first Reformation was about belief. This one needs to be about behavior.”
“We need a reformation of not creeds but deeds,” emphasized Warren, author of the best-selling book, “The Purpose Driven Church,” and one of the keynote speakers for the global meeting, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Baptist World Alliance.”

“Rick Warren challenges Baptists to launch ‘new reformation’`“
By Trennis Henderson
Associated Baptist Press, 7/31/2005

But what Rick Warren is promoting is spirituality apart from biblical truth. Of course, he would deny this, but if you examine the tenets of what he is promoting, it very subtly undermines Scriptural truth. Rick Warren is promoting a unity that is not based on biblical truth. Rather, he is downplaying the need for upholding the truth of Scripture. It is interesting that he can call the toleration of unbiblical teaching “diversity”, and has no problem unifying with those like T.D. Jakes who departs from the biblical teaching of the trinity. Warren apparently also has no problem fellowshipping with those like Tony Campolo who disregard the biblical prohibition on homosexuality amongst many other unbiblical positions.

Rick Warren also openly ridicules the Southern Baptist Convention for withdrawing from the Baptist World Alliance over the continued left ward drift into liberal theological views. Not least of which is the growing acceptance of gay marriage in the BWA.

“During a July 28 press conference, Warren addressed a question about last year's decision by the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), the largest BWA member, to withdraw membership and funding from BWA. "I think that was a mistake," he said flatly. "When the Southern Baptists pulled out funding, my wife and I wrote a check for $25,000 to BWA.
"I see absolutely zero reason in separating my fellowship from anybody," he said.
Noting he has theological differences with many of the diverse denominations that invite him to speak, Warren added, "That doesn't stop me from fellowshipping with them."
When he heard of the SBC's withdrawal, he added, "I thought, 'This is silly! Why would we separate ourselves from brothers and sisters in the world?'"”

The Biblical Recorder, July 28 2005

"Warren: Global Baptists 'are all in this together' "
By Trennis Henderson

It seems clearly apparent that to Rick Warren, doctrine really does not matter. He may talk about it and may discuss it with his congregation, but it seems to take a back seat in importance compared to the overemphasis on unity.

Certainly we should be concerned for the needs of others and the church should play an active role. This can open up opportunities to share the gospel. But the gospel and biblical truth should be of primary importance, not secondary. Just look at what happened to nearly every mainline denomination that dropped Scriptural truth for the social gospel. Each one has derailed into apostasy. And this is exactly where mainstream Evangelicalism is headed today.

Scripture is replete with passages that emphasize the need to know and meditate on God’s truth. After all, how can you act on what you do not know? A brief survey of the Christian landscape today reveals that this lack of knowledge of the Word of God is destructive. The prevailing absence of a biblical world view amongst Christians is alarming, not to mention the widespread sin and worldliness.

Often referred to in Scripture as the “law”, “precepts”, “statutes” and “ordinances”, God’s Word is to be diligently taught among His people.

6"These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.
7You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.
8You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.
9You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
(Deuteronomy 6:6-9, NASB®)

18"You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.
19"You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up.
(Deuteronomy 11:18-19, NASB®)

"1How blessed are those whose way is blameless, Who walk in the law of the LORD.
2How blessed are those who observe His testimonies, Who seek Him with all their heart. 3They also do no unrighteousness; They walk in His ways.
4You have ordained Your precepts, That we should keep them diligently.
5Oh that my ways may be established To keep Your statutes!"
(Psalm 119:1-5, NASB®)

Consistently, Scripture teaches that the Word of God is to be held closely to our heart. It is not something to be regarded with superficial understanding. The term “heart” as it is used in Scripture means more than in an emotional sense. Heart refers to both, mind and emotions, the center of man’s inward life that ultimately governs his rational and emotional functions. Unfortunately, much of the church today tries to dichotomize mind and emotions, but the Scripture refers to both.

Lack of guidance from God’s truth leaves the believer to follow their own devices and seek their own understanding. Vulnerability to sin prevails. The only way that a believer can purify their walk is by the Word of God.

"9Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. "
(Psalm 119:9, KJV)

"11Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee."
(Psalm 119:11, KJV)

I have more to post on this soon.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

A Change in Plans.

I know that in a previous post I mentioned that I wanted to do a post on Leonard Sweet and planned on doing that sometime soon. Well, it is going to be awhile before I get around to doing that. Not because I don’t think that it is important, but I need a break from peering through the sewer drain of the emergent sewer of heresy, before I am overcome from the toxic fumes emitted from the doctrinal ooze! I need a break before I start banging my head against the wall! It is very discouraging to read some of the absolute absurd teaching.