Solus Christus Sola Scriptura Sola Gratia Sola Fide Soli Deo Gloria Solus Christus Sola Scriptura Sola Gratia Sola Fide Soli Deo Gloria Solus Christus Sola Scriptura Sola Gratia Sola Fide Soli Deo Gloria Christ Alone Scripture Alone Grace Alone Faith Alone Glory to God Alone Christ Alone Scripture Alone Grace Alone Faith Alone Glory to God Alone Christ Alone Scripture Alone Grace Alone Faith Alone Glory to God Alone

Friday, January 18, 2008

Light In the Darkness

I'd like to start this post with a question... When is light needed?

Our youngest daughter HAS to have a light on in her hallway. If I forget and accidentally turn it off after saying prayers, she gentle (sometimes not) reminds me, "Daddy...", and I would turn the light on.

I can relate. As a child, nightlights gave me a sense of security. Somehow, just being able to see what was "out there" made me feel better.

When I get up in the middle of the night and have to stumble around the house, one of the first things that I look for is a light switch so I can see where I am and where I am going.

OK, so where am I going with this? Light is needed in places where darkness is. I would ague that this would include "in the world", but also in some churches. Please don't get me wrong. Please hear my heart, here. I am not knocking a person's heart with God. Only He know a man's heart. I will, however, say that we ARE called to bear witness to the light wherever darkness is... even in a church.

It saddens me to even have to say that and in some respects, it looks almost wrong when I read it, but we are called to rebuke whenever that is necessary.

When you get some time, you can read the story of Hymenaeus and Alexander in 1 Timothy and about the shipwreck that happened with their lives; and that was after years of faithful service. Such is the case when people turn from their faith. Now, I am not saying that the people or churches that I write about have turned from their faith, but they HAVE turned from being God-centered to man-centered.

"But", you say, "Who are YOU to judge?" "Can't we just leave them to what they are doing?"

No. Please read on...

In Galatians 2:11-21, we read where Peter was opposed by Paul.

But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision. The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, "If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews? "We are Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles; nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified. "But if, while seeking to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have also been found sinners, is Christ then a minister of sin? May it never be! "For if I rebuild what I have once destroyed, I prove myself to be a transgressor. "For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. "I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly."

Taking all of this into account, it would seem to be Biblical to take a close look at what is being preached to people under the guise of a Biblical lesson. In my searching and reading of various blogs, websites, etc., unless certain churches websites and sermons are misrepresenting what is going on at these churches, it sure looks like there is a lot of information that I and others could and should use to make informed decisions. Be a Berean. Check everything (even this site) against the Bible.

For example, consider the following...

On various websites and in one Indiana church that got sued, youth have activities where the kids licked peanut butter out of other kids armpits... or been dared to drink what someone has chewed up and spit out.

Less you think this is an isolated incident, churches from Saddleback to Granger, both locally and across the country bow at the alter of relevance.

Elvis impersonators?... check.

U2 "worship" music? ...check.

Movie-themed sermons ... check.

Sex talks... check.

Being a Berean?...! "Don't judge me! This works for us." comes the cry. Yet people who rally around this faux persecution are themselves judging those who are being Bereans and testing everything according to God's Word... hmmm...

Dr. John MacArthur wrote an interesting article on part of this subject called But Does It Work?

You see, when making a determination about churches and Christian programs, the ONLY standard that should be used is the Bible. Early Christians (yes, they called themselves that and proudly) didn't look to marketing, community surveys, etc. They came into town and went to preaching the Word of God. It doesn't matter what I, Rick Warren or Tony Morgan says. The only thing that matters is the Word of God.

Lest you think that I am unfairly categorizing people, let me give you an example. I've tried talking with Tony Morgan via email and on his blog. My emails have gone unanswered and my blog comments deleted. See my post here for that story.

When ministry is public, it becomes exposed to necessary public scrutiny. This is necessary to guard the Truth as well as guard the people sitting under the teaching.

Romans 12:2 tells us "do not be conformed to this world".

James 4:4 says: "You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God".

Colossians 2:8 tells us: "See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ".

See, the Bible, which is our standard is the mirror to which ALL things are held up to. Let me continue...
"As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear." - 1 Timothy 5:20

"All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness," - 2 Timothy 3:16

"...reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching." - 2 Timothy 4:2b

See? Reproof and rebuke are part of the package.

All of that being said, there are several things which need to be done. Here is the takehome.

  1. Man-centered approaches need to be rebuked. See the above Bible verses. (Notice again, that the Bible is the rule, not my opinion.
  2. The Bible has to be held up as the ultimate authority, not some marketing book of big ideas.
  3. These churches need to be prayed for. Pray for their staffs that they may lead a Christ-centered church with the heart of God. Pray for the people in attendance that their eyes are opened and that they lovingly approach their staff.
  4. Pray that the Holy Spirit leads, guides and directs these churches.
  5. We need to love these people. Even though they're not Biblically correct, a lot of these type of churches have a real heart for people. Unfortunately, this is evidenced in their man-centered theology.
Again, please hear my heart. My heart breaks when the church tries to take things upon itself instead of relying on God. It causes confusion amongst the sheep, confusion amongst the World and sets up a false dichotomy amongst the body of Christ. It divides when we really need unity.

What an incredible impact we (as the church) would have if we would focus our energies (and tremendous resources) at honoring God, not catering to man.

To God alone be the glory!

Because Truth matters,

1 comment:

Diana said...

Do you use the word rebuke in everyday language?

Saddleback- Hmm and I thought you came away from living in California with nothing, I was wrong.

Tong Morgan- Why in this world he would keep a post up that completely calls him out to a biblical standard. Face it, if you sing the pastor, preachers, and church leader's praises all will be smooth. However, if you call them out and show them any type of biblical problem of error or lack of reverence you know darn well what it leads to...Damage Control!
They are human and need to protect their church, make specific note that I said "their church."

Altars of relevance- talk about the common trend. You know we live in the almighty "it's all about me" world. It's more and more about man and less and less about God.

Elvis- I wonder if he gets royalties from the churches using that icons image etc

U2- You know how hip it is to have him and his songs in church. The attention draws you to Bono not Jesus. But then again, aren't we there to hear the gospel of bono instead of the gospel of Jesus Christ?

Movie themed sermons- I know these would go over far better if you grabbed some pop-corn and rasinettes before going into the theater, oops I meant sanctuary.

Sex-talks- you know everybody is doing it. Well if people were jumping off buildings would you jump too?

Peanut butter pits- For all that is good and beautiful in this world...some wouldn't even lick peanut butter off a slice of bread and they expect you to lick it out of...YUK

Price of publicity- if we speak publicly we run the risk of being bashed for what we see.
Churches run the same risk. Online sermons, blogs, and websites can be good and bad.

They can get you noticed and the public becomes very aware of the good that is in a web site or blog. On the down side unless you misrepresent your views and stances on issues, you will be publicly judged and that includes people who see what isn't biblical about that church.

Light in the darkness- well to put it point blank, what good is light in a dark world when people become acclimated to a dimly lit room and just throw a towel over the source of light. Sadly the world would rather wander in the warm and fuzzy cushion of dimly lit surroundings than to see that the light they are in is less than sufficient.

As a nation we will never fully become what God intends us to be until we wake up and realize that we are so into pleasuring the man centered needs and are left with the warm fuzzies after a service instead of remorse for the price Christ paid that is taught in a God centered sermon.

Love you
Love me