Friday, December 21, 2007

Pray for Pakistan

I received the following prayer request from Voice of the Martyrs today. Please join your brothers and sisters from around the world in praying for Pakistani Christians:

"The Voice of the Martyrs has received several prayer requests from believers in Pakistan. Due to the volatile and sensitive climate in Pakistan, VOM cannot release the specific locations of these believers. They request:
  • "Please pray for our ministry, we want to reach all of Pakistan and distribute the Word of God to Muslim hands."
  • "Please pray for us to be strengthened in our faith and for God to give us wisdom and knowledge".
  • "Pray for areas that are under attack from suicide bombers, any lives are being destroyed. Ask God to protect people in these areas and that they will be able to know Jesus Christ."
Psalm 23, Romans 8:31"

Thursday, December 13, 2007

J. C. Ryle & the Scripture

This week I began to read J. C. Ryle's classic book, Holiness. Ryle was a pastor and then a bishop in the Church of England in the nineteenth century. In his day there were several movements within the evangelical church that, though they differed in the particulars, were not all that far removed from our modern day "seeker" and "emergent" movements. At the end of the introduction to his venerable work he writes this:

"There is an amazing ignorance of Scripture among many, and a consequent want of established, solid religion. In no other way can I account for the ease with which people are, like children, 'tossed to and fro, and carried about by every wind of doctrine' (Eph. 4:14). There is an Athenian love of novelty abroad, and a morbid distaste for anything old and regular, and in the beaten path of our forefathers. Thousands will crowd to hear a new voice and a new doctrine, without considering for a moment whether what they hear is true. There is an incessant craving after any teaching which is sensational and exciting, and rousing to the feelings. There is an unhealthy appetite for a sort of spasmodic and hysterical Christianity. The religious life of many is little better than spiritual dram-drinking, and the 'meek and quite spirit' which St. Peter commends is clean forgotten ( 1 Pet. 3:4). Crowds, and crying, and hot rooms, and high-flown singing, and an incessant rousing of the emotions are the only things which many care for. Inability to distinguish differences in doctrine is spreading far and wide, and so long as the preacher is 'clever' and 'earnest,' hundreds seem to think it must be all right, and call you dreadfully 'narrow and uncharitable' if you hint that he is unsound...All of this is sad, very sad."

Indeed, there is nothing new under the sun! Therefore, let us leave off the novel and cling to that which is eternal.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Pray for Pastors in India

This morning I received the following report from the Voice of the Martyrs. Please join me in praying for our brothers in India:

"On November 25, Pastor Joemon, Pastor Jojo and another believer were stripped of their clothes, tied to a pole and beaten after a worship service at Christ Vision church was raided in the Hassan district of Karnataka. According to a Compass Direct news report, when police arrived several hours later, they took the Christians to the police station and charged the pastors with forcibly converting Hindus to Christianity. The Christians have reportedly refused to press charges, saying they have forgiven their attackers. Pray for the full recovery of those injured and for endurance for them to remain faithful despite this attack. Pray for Christian converts in India who are facing pressure to renounce their faith. Psalm 107:2"

Monday, December 03, 2007

MacArthur on the Emergent Church

A friend of mine forwarded the following article to me this morning, and I found it a fascinating read. I think it will definitely be worth a few minutes of your time:

MacArthur: The Emergent Church is a Form of Paganism
Paul Edwards

Paul Edwards, host of "The Paul Edwards Program" on WLQV in Detroit, interviewed pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church John MacArthur about the emerging church movement in America. Paul begins the interview by asking Pastor John to respond to a radio interview with prominent emerging church leader Doug Pagitt. In the clip from October 22, 2007, Pagitt denied that there is a place of eternal conscious torment for persons who die apart from faith in Jesus Christ.

Paul Edwards: Help me with this--the emerging church prides itself on conversation, having a conversation, so let's have a conversation. How can you have a conversation with someone, when you're not even speaking the same language?

John MacArthur: Let me just cut to the chase on this one: [Doug] Pagitt is a Universalist. What he was saying is real simple. He was saying when you die your spirit goes to God and judgment means that whatever was not right about you, whatever was bad about you, whatever was substantially lacking about you, gets all resolved. It doesn't matter whether you're a Buddhist, a Hindu or a Muslim--doesn't matter whether you're a Christian really; we're all going to end up in this wonderful, warm and fuzzy relationship with God. That's just classic universalism.

I think you know it's most helpful, Paul, to go back and kind of recast how we view these people. He's not a pastor; he's not a Christian; that's not a church. When you call yourself a Christian and you call yourself a pastor and you say you have a church, all of that has to be--to be legitimate--defined biblically. And if it's not, that's not a church and you're not a pastor and you're not even a Christian.

What you have here is a form of false religion ... A form of paganism that basically wants to be thought of as Christian because it gains a certain ground. But the underlying bottom line of this whole emerging movement is they don't believe in any doctrine, they don't believe in any theology. They don't want to be forced to interpret anything in scripture a certain way and the out is, "Well the Bible isn't clear anyway." In other words, we don't know what it means; we can't know what it means.

Brian McLaren says nobody has ever gotten it right--we haven't got it right now--so let's not make an issue out of anything. Let's just be open to everything. Let's not take a position on theology, or for that matter, on morality or behavior because, hey, there's no judgment anyway so we're all going to end up in God in some ethereal, eternal relationship. And that's just non-Christian. It is blatantly, flagrantly non-Christian. It's as non-Christian as any false religion.

Edwards: [When "Emergents" and many seeker-sensitive church advocates say "We do church a certain way,"] it seems to me that they do it by totally ignoring the book of Acts and the Epistles.

MacArthur: I'm going to seem anachronistic if not an outright dinosaur at this point. I believe the church has one function, and that is to guard the truth, to proclaim the truth and to live the truth. So you take the Word of God, you teach it, you proclaim it, you protect it, you defend it, and you live it, and that's a church. The Word of God rightly divided, rightly understood.

That's not the idea in a seeker church; that's not the idea certainly in an emerging church. Everything becomes style and contextualization and everything is built around the manipulation of people's hot buttons as if we were selling a product like any other product in our culture. This fails to understand that the only real power in the spiritual realm is Divine and that God works His power through His truth, and that's all that matters.

I think the illusion of success is created by crowds. You've probably heard recently that Bill Hybels, who is the guru of the seeker movement, has openly confessed that they did a big survey and found they've been doing it wrong.

Edwards: "We made a mistake," he said.

MacArthur: Yes, we made a mistake. And so, the solution is--one of the lines in the statement was--we gotta get a blank piece of paper and start all over again. That's exactly the problem. Why do you want a blank piece of paper when you have all kinds of paper full with the Word of God?

Edwards: Right.

MacArthur: If you want a biblical mandate and you want to do ministry biblically, you teach and preach the Word. I don't think it matters whether you have smoke and mirrors. I don't think it matters whether you wear a tie, or don't wear a tie, whether you wear a black T-shirt and holes in your knees or a blue suit. (I think there are reasons to go with the suit rather the grunge approach--of dignity, respect, sober mindedness, seriousness, loftiness, etc, etc.)

At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is that we proclaim the Word of God. Look, I've been doing this for so long, and I haven't changed anything. Contexts come, contexts go; fads come, fads go; styles come, styles go. I just keep doing the same thing. We show up on Sunday morning, we sing a little bit, we pray, we open the Word of God and explain His meaning to the people. The people just keep coming and coming and what I say goes around the world, on radio, and then it gets transferred into 50 languages and books and commentaries because [the Word] knows no boundaries. It knows no cultural restraint, because the Word of God is transcendent.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Evangelism Sites

This morning I preached about evangelists and evangelism from Ephesians 4:11, and I said that evangelists are those who are gifted to harvest souls and equip the rest of the church to share the gospel. I said that for the majority of the church that's not gifted in evangelism, our part is to submit ourselves to these who have been given this gift and let them equip us.

Thus, I mentioned a couple of websites that are particularly excellent for equipping and I challenged people to spend 30-60 minutes per week on these sites. Here are the sites I mentioned, I hope you will take time to check them out and grow in your passion and skills for evangelism.

Ray Comfort, www.wayofthemaster.com
Lee Strobel, www.leestrobel.com
Hank Henegraff, www.equip.org
R. C. Sproul, www.ligonier.org