Thursday, July 20, 2006

I'll Be Back!

I will be taking a break from blogging starting today and will be returning Tuesday, August 1. Taking some time to spend with my wife and kids and get away for awhile. I have several posts that I have started to write but have not had the time to finish. I have been busy getting ready for vacation, mainly getting our Ford mini-van ready for travel, making some necessary repairs and cleaning it up. It simply amazes me that we are approaching the 100,000 mile mark, and the vehicle seems to have a self-destruct switch; everything seems to be going wrong. This is the first vehicle that I have had to replace a steering rack and I generally drive my vehicles to well over 100,000 miles. What is frustrating is that just after the rack was replaced, a fuel injector failed. But I guess it is better for this to happen before we get on the road and that I am able to make many of the repairs myself (with the exception of the rack and fuel injector, which combined totaled almost $1400), saving us several hundred dollars. Hopefully this will be the last round of repairs and be OK for awhile, especially while we are traveling out of town.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Feeling God But Not Knowing God

“In Christian music we are missing the key pillar, the cornerstone, which the other two rely upon - sound doctrine! There has already occurred a much needed return to praise and worship in the church and we’ve observed that across the board in evangelicalism. There has also been, in recent years noted scandals with both Televangelists and Christian artists, bringing a heightened call for more personal integrity, holiness and ecclesiastical accountability.[6] Though we have not arrived in those areas, we are on the path, nevertheless, the Achilles heel of our industry is the blatant absence of sound biblical theology which has effected every level of Christian music. This is most evident in it’s message. Christian music, originally called Jesus Music that once fearlessly sang about the gospel, now sings of a Christ-less, watered-down, pabulum-based, positive alternative, aura-fluff cream of wheat, mush-kind-of-syrupy God-as-my-girlfriend thing. There is an obvious reason this has taken place: artists primarily feel; theologians primarily think. We need artists who will balance their zeal with knowledge[7] to invest their lives in the daily discipline of Bible study, and then, to write with the fire, passion and enthusiasm which that study has illumined to communicate the glorious language of the church - the holy Word of God! Until this occurs, we are guilty of sentencing a generation of Christians to simply “feel” their God, rather than to know their God! In the early days of my own music ministry I wrote songs that neither represented good music or precise theology. It is out of the crucible of those experiences that God convicted me, which drives me to speak passionately to these issues.” (Emphasis Mine)

-Steve Camp “What Makes Music… Christianly”

I certainly appreciate Steve Camp and his sound biblical theology and the fact that he seeks to make his music line up with Scripture. We certainly need many more like him in Christian music. Lack of sound doctrine is a key issue with so-called Christian music today, and the reason that so many people involved in music tend to really irritate me. They tend to be free spirits who don’t want to be encumbered with all that doctrine and theology stuff, claiming that they just want to “looove Jesus”. But loving Jesus means that we also adhere to the truth proclaimed through the Word of God.

“6And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it.
(2 John 1:6, NASB)

“13Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.
14Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.” (2 Timothy 1:13-14, NASB)

15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15, NKJV)

But what about love? If we are truly adhering to God’s truth, then we will be expressing love toward one another. It should go hand in hand with doctrinal truth. The bottom line is that if we love Jesus, we will adhere to his truth. God is to be worshipped in both spirit and in truth.

“23"But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.
24"God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." “
(John 4:23-24, NASB)

When people engage in a ministry such as Christian music, they are expressing their thoughts and views about God. They are really communicating a message concerning God and it is therefore imperative that the message be rooted and grounded in Scriptural truth. Otherwise the message is vague and can project a distorted view of God. If the message of Christ is to reach people’s hearts, it is of utmost importance that those involved in music be sure the message in their music is proclaimed with biblical clarity.

I will also add that this is not an issue isolated to music, but also the church in general. It has become the bane of evangelicalism, where we are focusing on creating experience and emphasizing emotion and feeling above the importance of Scriptural truth. There is nothing wrong with engaging the emotions when worshipping God and that should be encouraged. But more important is grounding our emotion and feeling in objective biblical truth. I fear that much of what has taken place in the church today is an overcorrection to the error of discounting feeling and emotion in worship. And this unfortunate trend seems to be increasing in intensity. More and more Christian leaders are adapting to the spirit of this age and cooking up an approach to ministry to suit man’s carnal nature.

“The church of the 21st century... focuses worship primarily on what a person experiences about God instead of what a person learns about God. This trend is confirmed by the growing unchurched, biblically illiterate, ethically void, population growing up outside of the influence of Christianity. Their basic need is to experience the presence (immanence) of God, not to be educated about God or the church. Emphasis is placed on stirring the heart and emotions, not educating the head.”(Emphasis Added)

“The Church of the 21st Century”
By Bill Easum

While Bill Easum would not necessarily be identified with the emerging “church” movement, he has been heavily influenced by postmodern authors such as Leonard Sweet. (read this article here, second to last paragraph) Easum is a church consultant and his thinking is very influential in many churches.

I am in no way making an excuse for the seemingly dead, lifeless approach that many churches got caught up in and I do not want to see an overreaction in the opposite direction as well. We do not want to merely engage in a cold, dead orthodoxy. But to make the error of discounting the importance of sound doctrine as an alternative is a grievous mistake, with devastating spiritual consequences.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

More Information on Chuck Smith’s Position

Thanks to Carla who left this link in a comment to my previous post, “In All Fairness”. Roger Oakland has provided some comments expanding on Chuck’s position on his website, “Understand the Times”.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

In All Fairness.

I want to take a moment to clarify something. Not all of those who embrace an Arminian theological bent are in favor of the pragmatic, seeker-sensitive approach to ministry. Some are even very outspoken against such strategies. However, I still believe that Arminianism by its very nature has a tendency to lend itself to such thinking. When you examine the underlying principles embraced by the pragmatic seeker-sensitive approach (I believe you can also include much of the “emerging church” with this pragmatism as well), the synergistic soteriological views tend toward the “end-justifies-the-means” mentality. I also believe a careful examination of church history shows that the synergistic view of salvation has a generally negative effect on the church. I am also convinced that Scripture teaches a monergistic view of salvation.

But there are some like Chuck Smith Sr., who has recently taken a strong stand against some of these approaches to ministry. I recently wrote a post concerning the letter that he addressed to the Calvary Chapel churches refuting the error of the emerging “church”. But apparently Chuck has also addressed the Purpose Driven frenzy as well. A notice published on the Calvary Distribution website (their ministry resource website) indicates that the Purpose Driven resources are being discontinued.

The teaching and positions of Rick Warren have come into conflict with us as Calvary Chapel. Pastor Chuck has directed us to discontinue this product effective immediately. The following items are now longer available through Calvary Distribution

You will also notice that Chuck’s book “When Storms Come” is being recalled “Due to issues with content and packaging”. These issues have to do with apparent tampering with the text to include language pertaining to contemplative worship and references to mystics, something that Chuck Smith never originally wrote.

The title When Storms Come by Pastor Chuck Smith from World Publishing is being recalled, effective immediately. Due to issues with content and packaging, this title has been set to out of print.”

Again, I may disagree with certain theological views, such as Chuck Sr’s Arminian bent, but I certainly appreciate his stand on these issues, since this is not going to be a popular stand to take. I hope and pray that he continues to keep up the fight because it appears that the Calvary Chapel movement may be reaching a crossroad.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

What is Guiding Your Thoughts?

Doug over at Godward Thoughts recently posted a quote by John Piper, where Piper made the statement that “It will be a superficial, weak, carnal, disunited church; where people are playing fast and loose with their Bibles.” This is sadly the case with a growing majority of evangelical churches today. Piper goes on to say that people are turning to the world and observing what is commended by the world’s standard, but they barely give any time to look to the Word of God for their guidance. Consequently, the church succumbs to fleshly wisdom rather than to guidance from God’s truth.

This was a major issue with the Corinthians, and the reason Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 3 that they were unable to tolerate the solid meat of God’s truth. They were not truly feasting on God’s Word and could only tolerate the very basic “milk”, like an infant. As a result, their actions were not guided by the Word of God, but by the works of the flesh. This resulted in a very immature, carnal congregation laden with sin. When people are not immersing themselves in God’s truth, spiritual growth is severely hindered, resulting in a weak, sickly congregation.

“1But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 2I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, 3for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?” (1 Corinthians 3:1-3, ESV)

What is the remedy? Romans 12:2 tells us that we should be “transformed by the renewing” of our mind.

“1I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2, ESV)

The word “transformed” is translated from the Greek word, “metamorphoo”, which means to be changed into another form and is the same word used in Matthew 17:2 to describe the appearance of Christ in the transfiguration. We must be transformed, meaning that we go through a “metamorphosis”, resulting in a change in our outward actions and appearance. Our thoughts must be changed, being replaced with God’s thoughts since our actions are guided by our thoughts. Our hearts cannot be changed without meditating on God’s truth. If our minds are contstantly being filled with the world’s wisdom and are not being renewed with God’s wisdom, our actions are going to be governed by the impulses of our flesh. Our actions which include our emotions and feelings must be brought under the control of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God.

Only when we are meditating on the Word of God and filtering everything thrown our way through God’s truth, are we able to test and discern what God’s will is. It is only when we are walking or patterning our life after God’s Word that we are going to be fulfilling God’s will. It is the Word of God that lights our path and guides us in our life.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105, ESV)

Monday, July 03, 2006

Luther on Salvation and "Free-will"

Excerpt from the “Bondage of the Will”
by Martin Luther
1525 A.D.

The comfort of knowing that salvation does not depend on free-will

"I frankly confess that, for myself, even if it could be, I should not want free-will to be given to me, nor anything to be left in my own hands to enable me to endeavor after salvation; not merely because in face of so many dangers, and adversities, and assaults of devils, I could not stand my ground and hold fast my free-will (for one devil is stronger than all men, and on these terms no man could be saved); but because, even were there no dangers, adversities, or devils, I should still be forced to labor with no guarantee of success, and to beat my fists at the air. If I lived and worked to all eternity, my conscience would never reach comfortable certainty as to how much it must do to satisfy God. Whatever work I had done, there would still be a nagging doubt as to whether it pleases God, or whether He required something more. The experience of all who seek righteousness by works proves that; and I learned it well enough myself over a period of many years, to my own great hurt. But now that God has taken my salvation out the control of my own will , and put it under the control of His, and promised to save me, not according to my working or running, but according to His own grace and mercy, I have the comfortable certainty that He is faithful and will not lie to me, and that He is also great and powerful, so that no devils or opposition can break Him or pluck me from Him. No one, He says, shall pluck them out of my hand, because my father which gave them me is greater than all [John 10:28-29]. Thus it is that, if not all, yet some, indeed many, are saved; whereas, by the power of free-will none at all could be saved, but every one of us would perish.

Furthermore, I have the comfortable certainty that I please God, not by reason of the merit of my works, but by reason of His merciful favor promised to me; so that, if I work too little, or badly, He does not impute it to me, but with fatherly compassion pardons me and makes me better. This is the glorying of all the saints in their God."