The Message of the Bible

What is it saying, and why? If the Bible is God’s Word, then there should be a harmony between its parts, a theme which unifies its authors, and evidence that it could not have been from a purely human origin. It should interpret the cosmos consistently!

Satan and His Boys of Light

Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness

2 Cor. 11:14-15 (NKJV)

Christian, think.

Did you really expect Satan-an angel in the presence of God from long before you or I existed, full of knowledge and cunning-to send his prophets and pastors with bloody fangs?

Andy Stanley

Andy Stanley

Look at that smile. Look at the pedigree.

 

 

 

 

 

Joel Osteen

Joel Osteen

Look at these shiny white teeth.

 

Look at the charm.

The attractiveness.

The success.

The wealth.

The influence.

TD Jakes

TD Jakes

The power in the voice.

The intelligence.

The political clout.

The persuasiveness.

The glory of it all.


And you thought Satan was a foolish little horror-fiction writer, conjuring up pastors you would be afraid of? You thought Satan would be so stupid… that he would try to get you hooked on crack or something? You thought Satan only appears like this, right? crackhead

But no, Satan’s game is not crack and prostitution. He doesn’t mind those things. He “digs” it when a human turns into living trash… but his -game- and his master stroke is the well-dressed, articulate, lovely, edgy, successful “men of God” who do one. little. thing.

(Get your eyes slightly off of Jesus and His certain Word of law and gospel in redemptive history).

Where are your eyes?

Thanks for reading,

Adam

Categories: Interpreting Christian Hypocrisy, The Message of the Bible | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Christianity Answers our Universal Amnesia (Worldview pt. 4)

We Were in a Bad Crash

But it was no accident when Eve disobeyed God and Adam let her. It was a willing crash into the brick wall of death while going 1,000 miles per hour, and all while the whole human race slept in the back seat.car-crash

As John Piper said, “we are all of us like car accident victims, walking around asking ‘who am I,’ and ‘where did I come from?’ And the only means by which we will get the right answers is to get them from someone who is not affected by the same disaster that we are all a part of” (paraphrase).

So then, who has perfect knowledge of all things before, during, and after the creation of the universe; how everything came into being, the fall of humanity into sin, and the subsequent disaster zone on earth?

God does. He has perfect knowledge, memory, and foreknowledge of absolutely everything, and this is the foundation of all true knowledge. The objective definition that no atheist can ever give is that of reality. What is reality? What is true? Where do logic and reasoning come from? If we do not begin with the existence, preeminence, omniscience, and omnipotence of God, then we cannot make justified knowledge claims about anything.

Standing on the Rock

What we believe about reality is the foundation of everything we think and do. What we believe is the most important part of ourselves. Yet because of our separation from God when Adam and Eve sinned, none of us is born with clear thinking about reality. Our biggest problem is that each one of us tends to base our beliefs on what we can feel, touch, and test within our experience. We innately believe that we are autonomous – that we are perfectly capable of discovering reality on our own.

We don’t think we need the input of God. We see Him as a rival God – someone who will take away our own lordship. “I’m my own judge.” “I’m the master of my own fate.” “I say what’s right and wrong.”

Or a real life example from a 2004 interview with then Senator Barack Obama:

FALSANI: “Do you believe in sin?”

OBAMA: “Yes.”

FALSANI: “What is sin?”

OBAMA: “Being out of alignment with my values.”

FALSANI: “What happens if you have sin in your life?”

OBAMA: “I think it’s the same thing as the question about heaven. In the same way that if I’m true to myself and my faith that that is its own reward; when I’m not true to it, it’s its own punishment.”

In other words, Mr. Obama represents all of us when he represents himself as a god here. Yet the Christian response must be to lovingly dig down underneath such a fallacious mindset.

“Mr. Obama, how do you know that?” We look to expose the inconsistency of their worldview, because at the end of the questions, Christianity remains the only consistent, reality-based worldview there is. Logic demands it. Intuition leads to it. God made us to find Him.

“Mr. Obama, from where do you derive your knowledge that you are your own judge and measure of sin?”

Without the God of the Bible as his (and our) foundation, the only answer left is “from within myself, and from the pooled experiences of humanity.” Yet you may be seeing it now: if we are all of us amnesiacs who have forgotten who we are and from where we come, then how can we know with any certainty that we are not all deluded? How can we base our choices on faith assumptions – on a perception of reality that could be totally false?

We cannot, and so any truth claims, any worldview that does not begin with God is fatally flawed. All attempts to make knowledge claims (e.g. the universe began with a spontaneous big bang, creating itself) are therefore founded on assumption… and assumption is faith without justification. This kind of ruins the atheist party, although of course there are 1,000,000 arguments to be had to obscure the plain, elementary truth.

God has Spoken

No matter who you are, you wouldn’t deny this, right? God, who is the source of logic and sentience, is also omniscient and omnipotent – and He is therefore capable of revealing knowledge to us, His creatures, such that we are able to rise above our amnesia. When God communicates to us, we break out of the vicious circle of subjectivity that poor President Obama illustrates above. We can relinquish the devastating slavery of self-godhood once the one, true God has revealed Himself.

Once we get this simple, unavoidable axiom on the table, we can be reconciled to Him through what He has done for humanity in Jesus Christ. Sadly, our great barrier to reality is that we are at enmity with God, as I discussed earlier in this series.

Yet in His Word to humanity, God tells us who He is, how He created everything, why humanity is in turmoil, and why there is hope in Him. Nothing in the Bible is a contradiction of logic. This is the key. Honest atheists and those of other religions should be able to admit this. A universe spoken into existence in six days? If God is who He says He is, of course! A global flood to destroy a decayed, rebellious humanity while 8 people and some of all the animals survive on a big boat? Why not?

A talking donkey? Child’s play for the God who created everything.

Sun standing still for a while? Yes. God is who He says He is.

Atheism? Absolutely indefensible. That’s not an insult to anyone’s intelligence. That’s our shared reality.

We Are Who God Says We Are

According to God’s Word, we are His special creation – sharing with Him in our sentience, creative ability, and in our morality. Our right and wrong is generally universal, though may be seriously distorted in certain cultures. Our knowledge and assumptions about the past, present, and future are based on a belief in God. Yes, even atheistic parents, bus-drivers, and scientists are founded on an innate belief in God. This does not mean that they make a conscious acknowledgment of it, as they suppress the truth in unrighteousness; but through gracious interaction we can help people to recognize the reality they are bound to for eternity. Unfortunately, the internet is a terrible place to find gracious interaction. I’m fairly tremulous about hitting the “publish” key on this post, actually…

We do not create ourselves, we only live within the cosmos as God has determined things to be.

That is the Christian foundation and worldview. From this point we argue the biblical record and gospel.

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

P.S. A related post from Apologia Radio: http://www.apologiaradio.com/?p=445

Categories: Foundations of ItC blog, Humankind in Distress, The Message of the Bible, Understanding the Culture | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Can we Agree on This? Christian Worldview pt. 3

A reader asked me to define “Christian Worldview” before I go on any further in this series. Although I was doing so implicitly, it gave me the opportunity to answer him from the best of my understanding. I believe the definition below is a clear foundation from which Christians should be building their family lives, church lives, social lives, and ministries. I do hope all believers in Christ Jesus could agree to it. Here it is:

The Christian worldview is that there is one true God, eternal, uncreated, existing in three Persons, co-eternal, each one being God in all His attributes.

He is the Creator of all things, and He has created humankind for His own glory and purpose – chiefly so that we might know Him, honor Him for who He is, and enjoy His good gifts forever.

There is evil in the world because humankind chose to reach for autonomy from Him, to be “as gods.” We tried to become our own judge, our own standard of good and evil. This has resulted in the evil and chaos in the world – all sin and brokenness a result of this disconnection from our true relationship with God.

Although God is within His right as the Sovereign Judge to allow humanity to fully perish in sin, He yet intervened to save a vast multitude. He has done this through choosing a people, the descendants of Abraham, with whom He made an unconditional covenant of grace. Through the history of Abraham’s descendants, God has been slowly revealing His greatest moment of glory – the birth, life, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and intercession of His Son Jesus Christ, who though eternally God chose to empty Himself to become a man, born of a virgin, and at the end of His life, the penal substitution before God for all who would ever trust Him and thus receive His forgiveness and salvation.

We need a Christian worldview because most people do not believe this is the real history of God’s interaction with the cosmos (world). When people believe other things, and do not repent of their own religions and sins, they cannot be reconciled to God in Jesus Christ. They must hear His gospel and be baptized into Him – and He receives all who come to Him, never casting even one person out.

The Apostle Paul tells us that “though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…” (2 Cor. 10:3-5 ESV).

That is the battle cry for us to wage a war of truth against Satan’s world of lies. We are to use God’s Word to cut down arguments that are exalted against the knowledge of God so that the people in bondage to lies can be set free in the love of Jesus Christ.

Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead – there will be a resurrection of all people, some to hell, some to the presence of God in a renewed heaven and earth. Those who have turned to Christ Jesus will be received into the presence of God as if they were Jesus Himself, having received His own righteous standing before God as He Himself received our sin and condemnation on the cross.

In the end of all things, Jesus will reconcile all things to Himself in that nothing in the universe will be independent of His rule and reign, and all things will acknowledge that perfectly.

And, I should add this as well – that in Jesus Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2:3). No human being knows anything apart from Christ having given them life, logic, reasoning, and the spirit of inquiry. This is the common basis for all human beings: we are created by the Son of God, and for the Son of God. Any structures of philosophy and religion which do not place Him at the blazing center of thought are faulty structures.

Right?

The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of knowledge (Prov. 1:7). We can know nothing apart from Him. We cannot justify one iota of our knowledge without beginning with Him. This is the Christian worldview.

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

Categories: Foundations of ItC blog, Jesus the Pinnacle of History, The Message of the Bible, Understanding the Culture | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Why is Christianity Ultra-Divided? (Worldview pt. 2)

Big Tent

Out of all the people who are counted in the big Christian family – over 2 billion alive today – the variation in beliefs is incredibly, depressingly broad. From Rome to the East, Southern Bible belt Baptists, Mormons, Pentecostals and Presbyterians, wily Lutherans and Seventh Day Adventists, everyone is counted in when it comes to the umbrella label “Christian.”

And this is one of the greatest scandals I can think of – for it is in the writing of the Apostles that we see Jesus praying for the unity of His people (John 17), and Paul exhorting the Church to be all of one mind, speaking the same thing (1 Cor. 1). How could it be that there is so much disagreement as to what Christianity actually is and teaches?

Broken Body

The short answer is that much of what is called Christianity is made up of aberrations of the true Church. Many of the denominations in the world right now are Christian in name only, bandying about the flag of Christ with no earthly idea what they are doing.

Shattered Body?

Shattered Body?

The fallacy we can all fall into is concluding that since there are so many different groups claiming Christianity, that therefore there is none which is true. Muslims go for this conclusion, while Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses thrive on the visible division between churches. Yet if we are honest, none of this logically excludes the possibility that there is a church that represents the biblical formula, and which is the best visible representative on earth of Christ’s ancient promise that “the gates of hell would not prevail against” His Church.

Unity where God’s Word is Faithfully Represented

The Church is created by the Word of God (Acts 2:39, 47); is made up of individuals who have repented from sinful self-autonomy, idolatry, wicked lifestyles, and gross unbelief (1 Cor. 6:9-11); and who gather visibly to hear God’s Word proclaimed, celebrating the sacraments of baptism and the communion supper (Matt. 20:19-20; 1 Cor. 11:23-26). Anywhere in which these elements are gathered (born-again Christians who are baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of sins, led by officers of the Church as instituted by the New Testament instructions, hearing God’s Word, sharing in His body and blood at the communion table, and confessing the orthodox gospel to the world at large), we have the Church.

Over time, the Church has been more or less visible according to the degree of heterodoxy that has entered into official, hierarchical teachings. The ecumenical Church of the first 10 centuries after Christ was forever shattered by the East-West split in 1054, and so has never risen again. Since that time, and then with the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century, visible unity in Christianity has been elusive at best.

When Churches Teach What is Contrary to the Gospel

Although a physical church parish may have within it true Christians (those who are really born from the Spirit of God, justified in His sight through faith alone in Christ alone), the leadership and teaching ministry may stray far from the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and so imperil the visibility of that local church body.

The sacraments are only one element of the true Church (Rome and the East have the two biblical sacraments [plus additional sacraments by tradition and not Scripture], but have added to the Gospel in such a way as to bury it), while simply teaching the Bible without baptism and the Lord’s supper obscures the visibility of the Church as well (Salvation Army and others).

Any addition or subtraction from the core of what constitutes the Church puts that congregation/parish in jeopardy of no longer being part of Christ’s visible body. The form of Christianity may endure, and the true sheep of Christ may be present, but the unity of the faith is imperiled and destroyed by these amalgamations.

No Amount of Error in the Teachings of Men Can Negate the Christian Worldview

I have written this post to lay the groundwork for my coming posts on Christian worldview. Because so often error and hypocrisy in the churches and denominations of Christianity are held forth as proof positive that we are a false religion, I want to pre-empt that fallacious charge.

My long series on Christian hypocrisy from last year addresses many different angles of this same issue – please search the “Christian hypocrisy” tag on the right side to read those posts.

No matter how much junk is piled onto the Church of Jesus Christ, no matter how much error in teaching and living, no matter how many denominations, these things do not negate the fact that we have the one, true religion and worldview.

So many under the Christian umbrella are laboring in a false doctrine and worldview, not because Christianity is false, but because they have not believed Christian doctrine – rather they have followed a deviant path and retained the Christian label.

I would never have had to have defended Christianity in this manner just a few hundred years ago, but today modernism and post-modernism have wrought destruction on the thinking of Western humanity. We assume that truth is either impossible to know for certain, or that there is no universal truth.

Yet when the all-knowing, all-powerful God speaks, He is able to communicate Himself in such a way that we can know for certain that He has spoken, and so that we may know for certain the things He means for us to know.

Christianity is the Location of Ultimate, World-Framing Truth

So then the object of the Christian is to know God’s Word contained in the Holy Bible; the revelation of the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. Our mission is to then believe the things revealed therein, and to express these truths to all of humanity so they might be reconciled with God (1 Cor. 5).

We are supposed to be equipped with knowledge so that we can answer any objector – in fact, Jesus said “I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist” (Luke 21:15 NKJV).

Do we believe that?

With over 80% of kids of Christian parents leaving the faith once they go to college, something has become seriously detached in American/Western Christianity. As our culture dies, we still have the opportunity to disciple and train the next generation. Let’s be busy learning God’s Word and will, and training people in the consistency and beauty of the Christian worldview.

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

Categories: Foundations of ItC blog, Meaning Woven into Nature, The Message of the Bible, Understanding the Culture | Tags: , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Christianity as the True Worldview pt. 1

Allow me to Defend Christianity

Many times I hear folks dismiss the Bible as an accurate record of history because the Old Testament stories are too far-fetched. What rational person in 2013 believes that God created this entire universe in six days?

For one, I do. I believe that Genesis is all true, very true. I believe a donkey talked in the book of Numbers. I believe Moses really wrote the body of the first five books of the Bible, and that the sun stood still while Joshua led the Israelites into battle, and on and on. And my I.Q. is well over 100 – I’ve been tested a number of times since a boy.

What gives? I was a biology major for my first 2 1/2 years in college, taking plenty of chemistry, genetics, evolutionary theory, and math. I have a degree in English and creative writing, and I have an extensive library in my home. I’m working through a Master’s degree in Theology. I’ve traveled much more than the average person, and I understand at least three languages on a functional level, with reading comprehension in more.

What’s up with me? Many atheists tend to get huffy and rude, making light of anyone who believes in an inerrant Bible (and I can understand why – 9/10 Christians in the West seem to be about as able to argue their beliefs as an elephant is able to compose a symphony, leaving themselves wide-open to ridicule and scorn).

Yet there are many of us who are nobody’s fool. I believe in the full inspiration of every word of the Bible – nothing false or incorrect, and I am happy to argue for it.

Simple but not Easy

Being smart about consistencyyour faith does not mean being complicated. The simple fact is that without God we cannot know anything. The Christian worldview is the only way of looking at our world that is fully consistent. That is your mark of truth. Ultimate truth.

That doesn’t mean people will agree or recognize the consistency of the Christian worldview. There are major obstacles in the way:

  1. Every person conceived is fallen in the sin of Adam and Eve, and therefore their rationality is skewed. We can’t think straight. We won’t think straight, for as we do, our knowledge leads us right to the God against whom we have sinned. The Bible tells us that no one (outside of the work of the Holy Spirit) seeks for God, no not one. This means that every form of worldview that does not start and conclude with the God of the Bible is a demonstration of futile rebellion. We strive to escape the sovereignty of the God we all know, and our religions, philosophies, and educations are our main tools to do so.
  2. Christians are poorly equipped and educated. Many times I float around the internet looking at how Christians are arguing for the faith. It is a miracle anyone is a Christian who has ever seen the internet. The majority of the Christian voice out here is totally silly – plagued with straw-man arguments, baseless assertions, logical fallacies, and worse. This is not a failure of Christianity to be able to stand as the consistent explanation of all things – it is a failure of her adherents to know what they believe and why they believe it.
  3. Most of the Western world’s Christianity is a misrepresentation of the faith and thinking of the historical church. As I often do, I lay the lion’s share of the blame squarely on the shoulders of the anti-intellectual carnival barkers passing for pastors and theologians. Men and women within the church are far more destructive to the Christian message than anyone outside of it: Ed Young Jr. the 50+ screecher trying so hard to be 25, Joyce Meyer, T.D. Jakes, Benny Hinn, Peter Lumpkins, Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, Ergun Caner and on and on it goes. We are absolutely outshouted by heresy, idiocy, prosperity hawking, and general provincialism. It’s no wonder we’re a joke to so many.

And there are even more obstacles. Christian truth is generally buried beneath a mountain of cultural trash in the church. Yet by God’s grace, there are many of us who still stand. We don’t have all points agreement on all things, but the best of Presbyterianism, Lutheranism, and Baptist Protestantism are still producing women and men who know how to defend the faith and worldview of Christ’s religion.

Next time I post, I’ll delve into the arguments for the Christian worldview. Keep in mind, I’m not a philosopher by trade; there are many others who do a better, more thorough job of defending Christianity. Yet as I do my best to explain our religion in all its glory, I provide another committed voice to the equation, showing that the words of Jesus are ever true: “…I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it…” (Matt. 16:18b).

Until next time,

-Justin

Categories: Comparative Religions, Foundations of ItC blog, The Message of the Bible | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Early Christians were Pro-Life too

Christians are marked by their respect for the dignity of every human life. Any time in history when Christians have acted differently, they have not acted as Christians.

The faith of Jesus Christ is a life-giving faith, and so those with faith in Jesus are protectors of life. Every child has a God-given right to life, from the moment of conception onward.Little Baby

This is why Christians should never use the birth-control pill, as it it possible that it causes the tiny baby to be washed out of her mother’s body in a chemical abortion.

This is why Christians cannot vote for politicians who support abortion in any form.

This is why Christians should go to every reasonable extent to speak up for the rights of the unborn, including stopping doing business with companies who support Planned Parenthood, AKA the Minority Population Reduction Centers of AmeriKa.

And this is what Christians have believed for our nearly 2,000 year history. See a section of a letter from Mathetes to Diognetus, circa A.D. 150 as he describes the distinctive lives of Christians:

 Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers.

They marry, as do all [others]; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring. (Literally, Christians “do not cast away fetuses”).

They have a common table, but not a common bed. They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh.

Christians ought to have a completely different mindset than those around us. We do not destroy our unborn children! Yet in America, land of the selfish, thousands of abortions each year are committed by those who self-identify as Christians, Evangelical and otherwise. They are Christian like I am giraffe.

A few other early Christian citations (including one non-Christian Jew), against infanticide-abortion, from http://www.abortionfacts.com/literature/the-christian-view-of-abortion :

“Thou shalt not slay the child by procuring abortion; nor, again, shalt thou destroy it after it is born” (Letter of Barnabas 19 from 74 AD).

“…And these were the accursed who conceived and caused abortion” (The Apocalypse of Peter 25, 137 AD).

“You shall not procure abortion, nor destroy a newborn child” (Didache 2:1 from 150 AD).

“There are some women among you who by drinking special potions extinguish the life of the future human in their very bowels, thus committing murder before they even give birth.” (Mark Felix, Christian Lawyer, Octavius chap. 30 from 170 AD).

“The law of Moses, indeed, punishes with due penalties the man who shall cause abortion (see Ex. 21:22) Tertullian, 210 AD.

“Now we allow that life begins with conception because we contend that the soul also begins from conception; life taking its commencement at the same moment and place that the soul does” (Tertullian, Apology 27 from 210 AD).

“Women also who administer drugs to cause abortion, as well as those who take poisons to destroy unborn children, are murderesses.” (First Canonical Letter from 374 AD).

“The law, moreover enjoins us to bring up all our offspring, and forbids women to cause abortion of what is begotten, or to destroy it afterward; and if any woman appears to have so done, she will be a murderer of her child, by destroying a living creature, and diminishing humankind.” (The Works of Josephus, Flavius Josephus Against Apion, Book II, 25).

“Some go so far as to take potions, that they may insure barrenness, and thus murder human beings almost before their conception. Some, when they find themselves with child through their sin, use drugs to procure abortion, and when, as often happens, they die with their offspring, they enter the lower world laden with the guilt not only of adultery against Christ but also of suicide and child murder” (Jerome, Letters 22:13 from 396 AD).

Let us stand with the ancient Christian witness, and with the Word of God: “You shall not murder.”

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

Categories: Dead Guys, Humankind in Distress, Interpreting Christian Hypocrisy, The Message of the Bible, Understanding the Culture | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Either Rome or Reformation – Not Both (Repost)

Originally posted 4/5/12, this was a part of a debate I had with a Roman Catholic. The original question was “Do Roman Catholics Have the Gospel?” Please read and share – I put a lot of work into this post.

The reason I deal a lot with Roman Catholicism is because we interpret the cosmos in much the same way they do – One God who is Trinity, Scripture is His Word, and His Church is the means of communing with Him on earth, etc. Yet it is in the additions to the Gospel of Jesus Christ that they have departed from a true interpretation of spiritual, human reality. They lead many to damnation, tip-toeing inches from eternal life.

And so I write. Enjoy, rejoice:

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for this burden for my Roman Catholic friends

Over the course of my nine year life in Christ, my heart has become heavy for the Catholics. Each day recently I have been pondering these issues, thinking hard about both sides, and trying to pray for wisdom. To most of you dear readers, this is perhaps an intellectual, interesting, or maybe slightly dry discussion which is all probably right up your alley if you’ve read this far.

Yet I hope it is a little more than that to you – it is to me. These Catholic folks with their internet nicknames who have taken the time to talk with me… they are made in the image of God – and they are deceived by an antichrist spirit. I know that sounds harsh to our postmodern ears, but to be true to Jesus Christ I must be direct. Letting Smoke Out (my debate opponent) in particular has referred to me as a Christian who is “outside of the Church.” I appreciate his recognition of the Holy Spirit in me, but with all due respect, the Bible knows nothing of a Christian who is outside of the Church. I believe if we dig at this a little bit, maybe – by God’s wonderful grace – He may use it to unravel a little of the string holding together their bonds in darkness. I know, heavy sounding words… but this is life and death!

Daddy, what’s a Church?

One of the main problems here is that Letting Smoke Out and his Roman Catholic brethren have an unbiblical, twisted definition of “Church.” From LSO found here:

Read Matt 18:17 again.  See how Jesus instructs the apostles to tell the “church”.  Clearly He is not referring to some theoretical entity, but to an established organization – His church. Our Lord gave definitive instruction at this passage and yet you believe He was referring to an “invisible body”.  How can someone tell or listen to an invisible body?  “Tell the church”…”listen even to the church”… now that’s clear.

When I say that the Body of Christ is “invisible,” I mean that no one but God knows exactly all who is the wheat, and who are the tares. Remember how Jesus warned (Matthew 13:24-30, and basically the entire New Testament carries the same warnings) of unbelievers (hypocrites) who come into the fellowship with us, who pretend to be real Christians, but are not? We don’t really know who many of those “fakers” are… because they can look very convincing. That’s why the true Church of Jesus Christ is “invisible.” Those who have received the grace of adoption into the family of God are only known in our full number by God. This leads us to our point, namely that the Church of Jesus Christ is not a building, not an organization, but it is the Body of Christ made up of individuals.

Would any Roman Catholic really say that every single individual who claims to be a Catholic is really, truly “in the Church”?

Don’t Run Away! It’s Just an Eeeeeensy bit o’ Greek!

So what is the definition of “Church” from the Bible? The Greek word ἐκκλησία (ecclesia), from Thayer’s Lexicon:

(from ἔκκλητος called out or forth, and this from ἐκκαλέω); properly, a gathering of citizens called out from their homes into some public place; an assembly; so used.

Also, from the  Bible:

ek, “out from and to” and 2564/kaléō, “to call”) – properly, people called out from the world and to God, the outcome being the Church (the mystical body of Christ) – i.e. the universal (total) body of believers whom God calls out from the world and into His eternal kingdom.

[The English word “church” comes from the Greek word kyriakos, “belonging to the Lord” (kyrios). 1577/ekklēsía (“church”) is the root of the terms “ecclesiology” and “ecclesiastical.”] (All emphases mine).

In light of the definition of “church,” and not to mention the word comes from the same Greek word used for “elect,” should we not see the Church as the whole Body of believers, and not an organization or institution in Rome? How could LSO think of me as a sincere Christian who is simply “outside of the Church”? Being a Christian means I have been “called out” of the world and into the assembly of God’s people – it does not mean I am a Roman Catholic, Baptist, Amish farmer, or any other denomination. See the confusion of categories?

OK – so that was a bit sloggy, but I had to do it – and if you are still with me, I think this will be worth it for all involved. The Roman religion defines the Church as the Roman religion, and no other. If someone is not in the Roman religion, Rome does not see him or her as in a state of salvation. What’s that teaching called? Salvation by institution. Just like the Jehovah’s Witnesses who are scared stiff to even think thoughts about stepping into a real church for fear of Jehovah God annihilating them. Look here:

Classical, true Roman Catholicism has preached that there is no salvation outside of the Roman religion. From catholicism.org:

“Outside the Church there is no salvation” (extra ecclesiam nulla salus) is a doctrine of the Catholic Faith that was taught By Jesus Christ to His Apostles, preached by the Fathers, defined by popes and councils and piously believed by the faithful in every age of the Church. Here is how the Popes defined it:

  • “There is but one universal Church of the faithful, outside which no one at all is saved.” (Pope Innocent III, Fourth Lateran Council, 1215.)
  • We declare, say, define, and pronounce that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.” (Pope Boniface VIII, the Bull Unam Sanctam, 1302.)
  • “The most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics, can have a share in life eternal; but that they will go into the eternal fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless before death they are joined with Her; and that so important is the unity of this ecclesiastical body that only those remaining within this unity can profit by the sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, their almsgivings, their other works of Christian piety and the duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved, unless he remain within the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church.” (Pope Eugene IV, the Bull Cantate Domino, 1441.)

Let’s be honest. Rome believes that she is the one true Church of Jesus Christ as an institution – not defined by faith in Jesus Christ and repentance of sins, but only defined by belonging to its number – to be saved you have to be in the Roman organization, and then cooperate fiercely with the prescribed ladder of sacramental righteousness to “make it.” And all of this off of an obscure verse about building the church on “this rock” – which may mean Peter, or his confession of faith, or Jesus may be talking about Himself… but even if He meant Peter, this still does not demonstrate a papacy!

Most importantly though, the gospel of Christ is not found in Rome’s teachings. In some ways, it is very close – an almost gospel, yet the Apostles fiercely condemned counterfeit gospels which had merely added little bits and pieces to the gospel of Christ – while Rome has added dozens of things to it. Catholicism is a religion of lies, and it is taking its people to hell by the billions. That’s not funny – and believing Christians need to stop toying around with Rome. We are to stand up and call our Roman Catholic friends to repentance of dead works into a living, secure relationship with Christ based solely on His works and one time atonement.

Here’s the hard, cold truth: I, Justin, and numerous others like me are not Roman Catholics, and yet we are the Body of Christ.  I do not believe and in fact vehemently reject Romanist theology – I am walking in the footsteps of the millions who have gone before me, and in the footsteps of the Reformation Christians who shed their blood to salvage the gospel out from Rome. I have these convictions because of the gospel, because of God’s Word, and because He has chosen me unto an everlasting salvation, accomplished by Christ outside of and before me. I do not merit the grace He gives, otherwise it would no longer be grace but a debt He would owe. God will be no man’s debtor, believe that.

So that is all to say to LSO and my other Roman Catholic readers; you may feel yourself generous and magnanimous for granting to me that I am a Christian, just simply outside of the Church, but your own papal doctrines really don’t allow for such. Either I, as a gospel believing Christian, am wrong and outside of His Body, or you are, or we are both in mythology. It cannot be that our mutually exclusive truth claims are the same gospel or ecclesiology!

Finally, and most importantly, what does God’s Word say?

What does it take to become a part of the Church of Jesus Christ invisible and universal?

Belief in who Jesus is and what He has done, is doing, and will do. A very few of the many Scriptures on this subject:

  • Romans 10:8 But what does it say? “THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, 9[e]that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, [f]resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, [g]resulting in salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE [h]DISAPPOINTED.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; 13 for “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.”
  • John 6:28 Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”
  • John 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were [i]born, not of [j]blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
  • John 5:37 And the Father who sent Me, He has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time nor seen His form. 38You do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent. 39[i]You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; 40 and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life. 41 I do not receive glory from men; 42 but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves. 43 I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him. 44 How can you believe, when you receive [j]glory from one another and you do not seek the [k]glory that is from the one and only God? 45 Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”
  • Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and [h]that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.(All Scripture NASB)

What does becoming a member of the Church/the Body of Christ result in?

Justification, sanctification, and glorification. Good works which justify the reality of faith.

  • Romans 8:28 And we know that [k]God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was [l]raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. 35 Who will separate us from the love of [m]Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36Just as it is written,“FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG;
    WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.”37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  • Galatians 5:6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love. (real faith which saves will always produce good works as a fruit).
  • James 2:14 What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can [n]that faith save him? (No!)
  • James 2:17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is [p]dead, being by itself. (saving faith is always accompanied by works)
  • James 2:18 But someone [q]may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” 19 You believe that [r]God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. 20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith was working with his works, and [s]as a result of the works, faith was [t]perfected; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS,” and he was called the friend of God. 24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. (Context and harmony with the entirety of Scripture!)

 

Thanks for reading an extremely long, but heartfelt post.

-Justin

P.S. I am aware that the Reformation was only 500 years ago and that Roman Catholicism has been in its present form for over 1,600 – but when I say “Reformation” in reference to the true Church, it is a synecdoche for Apostolic, original Christianity.

P.P.S. I know that this in not the world’s greatest apologetic attempt, and that many of you could do better, but in all sincerity it is dedicated to the beautiful lover of my soul, Christ Jesus. May He do with it as He wills.

Categories: Comparative Religions, The Message of the Bible | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Feelings are not God

Piper says it all right here: to us Western thinkers.

Samuel at Gilgal

Finally AliveJohn Piper:

“My feelings are not God. God is God. My feelings do not define truth. God’s word defines truth. My feelings are echoes and responses to what my mind perceives. And sometimes – many times – my feelings are out of sync with the truth. When that happens – and it happens every day in some measure – I try not to bend the truth to justify my imperfect feelings, but rather, I plead with God: Purify my perceptions of your truth and transform my feelings so that they are in sync with the truth.” (Finally Alive: What Happens When We Are Born Again?)

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Categories: Humankind in Distress, The Message of the Bible | Tags: , , , , | 13 Comments

To the Christian Looking for Purpose: One Breath of Advice

From time to time I post a “One Breath” thingamajig – something that could be spoken in… well, one breath. Here’s one just now.

Looking for that Purpose that God Gave You?

Maybe it’s time to stop playing the mystic, looking for a way to be the next “world-changer” with “purpose-driven faith” – and love that wife of yours, hug those kids, and embrace the “little” things in life that hold the world together.

Just maybe?

Categories: Humankind in Distress, One Breath, The Message of the Bible, Understanding the Culture | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quotes from Charles Spurgeon on Affections and Idols

Charles SpurgeonPastor Spurgeon had a gift for clarity – he wielded the surgeon’s knife of biblical conviction, and yet gently healed the souls of those wounded by sin and Satan. Here Spurgeon addresses people like you and me: materialistic, tending to accumulate clutter and expensive stuff. What do you say, brother Charles, to the idea of having lots and lots of stuff in our lives?

Well, brother, well, sister, remember that where your treasure is your heart will go,
and if that treasure be taken away your heart must ache.

Right, and what else?

The more objects you set your heart upon, the more thorns there are to tear your
peace of mind to shreds.

So then eBay is a graveyard for Christian affections?

Those things which we allow to take the chief place in our bosoms have the most
power to give us grief.

Yes. What is the remedy?

We cannot too often turn our thoughts heavenward, for this is one of the great cures
for worldliness. The way to liberate our souls from the bonds that tie us to earth is to
strengthen the cords that bind us to heaven. You will think less of this poor little
globe when you think more of the world to come.

And how then does our Lord Jesus think of our affections being tied up with all these things?

The Lord Jesus Christ, of whom I now speak, is very jealous of your love, O believer.
Did he not choose you? He cannot bear that you should choose another. Did he not
buy you with his own blood? He cannot endure that you should think you are your
own, or that you belong to this world. He loved you with such a love that he could not
stop in heaven without you; he would sooner die than that you should perish; he
stripped himself to nakedness that he might clothe you with beauty; he bowed his
face to shame and spitting that he might lift you up to honour and glory, and he
cannot endure that you should love the world, and the things of the world.

His love is…
strong as death towards you, and therefore will be cruel as the grave. He will be as a
cruel one towards you if you do not love him with a perfect heart. He will take away
that husband; he will smite that child; he will bring you from riches to poverty, from
health to sickness, even to the gates of the grave, because he loves you so much that
he cannot endure that anything should stand between your heart’s love and him. Be
careful, Christians, you that are married to Christ; remember, you are married to a
jealous husband…

Strong medicine for a Monday morning.

Thanks for reading,

-Adam

Categories: Dead Guys, The Message of the Bible | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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