Monday, May 28, 2012

When Should I Leave My Church? Tim Challies

I don't agree with Tim Challies on all his book, sermon, movie, and blog analysis and reviews, but he nailed this one. This is a simple article on when we "must" and "may" leave a church.

"There are times where you must leave and times when you may leave. In this brief article I want to point to a few of those good reasons." Full article here

Monday, May 21, 2012

What is True Unity Within the Church?

"But if we truly want any kind of gospel-based unity, we have to be willing to defend the gospel together. The gospel is not only the ground on which we unite with other believers, it is also ground we must earnestly defend against false teachers. You cannot achieve true unity unless you vigorously pursue both of those goals."

Full article here:

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Leadership 101 - by John MacArthur

"Our society often judges people by what they do, not by their character. When it comes to choosing heroes and leaders, style often outweighs substance. Sordid personal lives and all sorts of off-the-field antics are commonly overlooked—it is performance, not principle, that counts."
Read the rest of the article  here

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Unbiblical and Superstitious "Sinner's Prayer"

As shocking as the title may sound, it is the truth. I'm passionate about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and my deepest concern is the misrepresentation of it. Giving a false gospel is not only dangerous, but damming. The "Sinner's Prayer" is as man made as infant baptism. Since eternity is at stake, shouldn't we take biblical salvation seriously?

Most tracts, sermons and well meaning evangelists misuse scripture (even in the most conservative churches), because it has been borrowed from methods such as "The Romans Road", "The Four Spiritual Laws", the "ABC's of Salvation" and many others for decades. I want us to look at what scripture references that are commonly used in "The Sinner's Prayer".

Usually the prayer goes something like this:

"Dear Jesus,
I am a sinner.
I repent of my sins. Please forgive me and save me by your shed blood;
I invite you to come into my heart.I want to receive you as my own personal Lord and savior.

Of coarse this needs to be done in the most sincere way. In case you didn't catch it, I'm being sarcastic. If the Bible says the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick (Jeremiah 17:9), how on earth can we or anyone else judge the sincerity of our hearts? We need to go to scripture and not our heart.*

This type of prayer is not in scripture. Jesus, and the apostles never used this type of prayer to save anyone. I'm not saying that everyone who has prayed the prayer is not saved. They are not saved by a magic formula prayer, but in spite of it. 

However, 80-90% of supposed converts of many public evangelical campaigns fall from the faith. The sinner's prayer produces more false than true converts. Some of these false converts end up in churches and govern the majority of congregations, which is the reason why there are so many complaints from the unbelieving world of hypocrisy. 

1. "I repent of my sins. Please forgive me and save me by your shed blood; I invite you to come into my heart. "

Scripture use for this phrase:

"Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me." Revelations 3:19-20

Jesus is speaking to a church (The lukewarm church of Laodecia) and not to an individual sinner. I can't tell you how many times I've seen this image of Jesus in children's classrooms knocking on a door as if He is some beggar pleading to come in. This is not the Jesus of the Bible.

2. "I invite you to come into my heart." 

Scripture use for this phrase:

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Jesus does the inviting. We do not invite Jesus to come to us. 

3. "I want to receive you as my own personal Lord and savior."

Scripture use for this phrase:

"because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved." Romans 10:9-10

This is the most common misuse of scripture there is. This is the big closer of almost every single tract I've come across. Confession and believing in the heart is the result of salvation and not a prerequisite. Using this verse out of context has been the main go to verse for easy-believism, and it has trickled down to even supposed solid churches.

This one article I came across by Russ McCullough explains it really well:
Paul is addressing Christians, not non-Christians, in this text. He makes it clear in verse 8 that the object of verse 9 (where he notates confession and salvation) is a group of people ALREADY in Christ. Verse 8 states that the word IS near them, that the word IS in their mouth and that the word IS in their heart ALREADY. Existing salvation in verse 8 is characterized THREE times in the PRESENT TENSE. Paul's statements in verses 9 and 10 clearly reference a restoration confession for Christians ONLY, who daily confess Christ and the reality of His resurrection by both word and deed, thus confirming their belief and resulting ultimately, in salvation. Paul wrote Romans to the church (saved Christians ONLY). In 1:7 he asserts the following: 
1) "To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be SAINTS…" (KJV) [saints are Christians, not alien sinners] and 
2) "Grace to you and peace from God OUR Father, and the LORD Jesus Christ." (KJV) ["IF" God is our FATHER and Jesus Christ is our LORD, then Paul is addressing ONLY Christians]. 
Furthermore, in the context of chapter 10, Paul addresses his audience as "Brethren." Now, some would say that "Brethren" might refer to Paul's Jewish "brethren" in the flesh. However, this cannot be the case for in 9:31 he asserts that Israel had "not attained to the law of righteousness." (KJV) and then finally in 10:1 says that his "…heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they [non-Christian Israel] might be SAVED." (KJV). Clearly, the text and the context of Romans 10:9 and 10 refer ONLY to Christians and is NOT a statement having ANYTHING to do with a non-Christian.
End quote

It is important to remember that Paul in the entire book of Romans is preaching to believers in a persecuted church (Chapter 8), and the theme of the entire book is that "faith alone" we are saved. Is Paul contradicting "faith alone" with the confession of the mouth? Absolutely not.

 Another thing to think about; does Paul contradict Jesus' teaching in Matthew 7:22-23 when He said, 

"Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness."

As you can see, confession does not mean anything. Many false converts will confess Jesus as Lord, so taking Romans 10:9-10 out of context can be especially dangerous.

We need to trust God..."for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes" (Romans 1:16). Salvation is His supernatural work. Someone online was asking me where in scripture is the gospel. I thought that was a really good question. The gospel in its purest form comes from 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 (emphasis mine)

"Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand,  and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you— unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures."

This amazing truth needs to be proclaimed and expounded upon.

* Test of Biblical Assurance:

1 John 1:5-7 (Walking in the Light), 1 John 1:8-10 (Confession of Sin), 1 John 2:3-4 (Obedience), 1 John 2:9-11 (Love for the Brethren), 1 John 2:15-17 (Hatred for the World), 1 John 2:24-25 (Perseverance in Doctrine), 1 John 3:10 (Righteousness), 1 John 4:13 (Spirit's Testimony), Hebrews 12:5-8 (Discipline)

Related Links:

The Sinner's Prayer:: Biblical or Extra-Biblical

The Gospel of Jesus Christ

Hells Best Kept Secret by Ray Comfort

Regeneration vs. Decisionism - Paul Washer

Romans 10:9 "...if you confess with your mouth..."