Thursday, July 31, 2008

The DA Carson talk and sentiments on Singaore Anglicanism

The Living Word 2008 conference in Singapore is now over, which I have publicized rather late since I had recalled it only last week and then decided to go for it at such a later timing. I went for all three evenings, and besides meeting various friends and fellow Singapore Christian bloggers, I was rather delighted to get my hand on a few interesting books, and the messages was just WOW! The book of Revelation was never made so exciting before [I tend to ignore apocalyptic literature compared to other genres due to its manifold complexity, and "newspaper exegesis" just turns me off].

I will be preparing a review of the talk to share with all soon, preferably after I receive the MP3s of the sessions which I have bought so that I can include audio clips at certain points. But for now, I would just like to post my sentiments on Singapore Anglicanism.

The Singapore Anglican communion has positioned itself with the conservative, biblical faction within the wider conflict in the worldwide Anglican communion. As the apostate liberals in the ECUSA and their wimpy allies in Europe attempt to force the communion into apostasy, the African and Asian communities are fighting for the faith and against the heretical nonsense put forward by these liberal apostates. In the backdrop of this front in the Truth War, it seems that the Singapore Anglican communion has decided to identify itself at least loosely with the Reformation, marking an interesting contrast compared with the other mainstream groups in Evangelicalism.

During the three evenings, the hymn by Martin Luther A Mighty Fortress is our God was sung each evening. This fact alone piqued my interest. The hymn is NOT just merely another hymn, but is in fact the anthem if you will of the Reformation itself, seeing also it was written by the Reformer Martin Luther! It is a battle hymn to be sung as Christians face the forces of darkness and grasp by faith the power of God for the advancement of the Gospel! That the hymn was sung in each session seems to suggest a possible alignment with the great Protestant Reformation, especially since the erupting controversy in the worldwide Anglican communion is getting ever more heated as the bishops are now gathered at Lambeth where this particular issue is expected to dominate and probably split the entire worldwide denomination. [It is sad that only when the detestable moral abomination of sodomy infiltrates the highest echelon of Anglican hierarchy that the conservatives start to be outraged about the apostasy in such churches]. Probably for once conscious of the possibility of great deception and of real spiritual warfare [not the fake Charismatic kind], the Anglican Diocese of Singapore is doing what no other major church body in Singapore has done so far in seemingly aligning itself with the Reformation. It is totally ironic that the one denomination which historically was known for its irenicity and the embrace of the via media seems to be more militant with regards to the Gospel than the traditional Evangelical denominations of all stripes (ie Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist) plus the New Evangelical (ie EFC) and Pentecostal denominations (ie AoG) who have all fallen asleep it seems.

But many who are first will be last, and the last first (Mt. 19:30)

I do not want to mention too much here of Carson's excellent exposition of Scripture now except to say that tonight's last exposition shows forth a vigorous presentation and a powerful call of the Gospel, nothing like the effeminacy which mark most pulpits in Singapore. Carson's Gospel-centered approach is most definitely refreshing, and all the more so when seen in stark contrast compared with the superficial nonsense occupying the churches in general. And when we come to the fact that Carson was officially invited by the Diocese of Singapore (not just any single church), this seems to suggest even more of some sort of alignment with the Reformation, although I don't think they invited him because he is a Calvinist. =P

Nevertheless, this is indeed a positive sign in Singapore Anglicanism, and for that we should rejoice. Although the controversy comes late, it is my opinion that God allows this controversy to awake the Anglicans out of their slumber. May God be so pleased also as to force the other Evangelicals out of their slumber by sending controversy if necessary.


A Mighty Fortress is our God by Martin Luther

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.

Monday, July 28, 2008

DA Carson talks

I would be going for the evening sessions of the upcoming Living Word 2008 Conference by DA Carson from this Tuesday to Thursday, held by the [conservative, not in communion with the apostate ECUSA] Anglicans, which should be quite interesting. Unfortunately, I didn't take leave so I could not go for the morning sessions, but the evening sessions would be a feast for sure.

Before the End: The Conquering Lamb, the Suffering Church & the Clash of Powers (Studies from the book of Revelation).

Synopsis: Is the world becoming a better place or is it getting worse? How should the church understand itself as it seeks to be faithful amidst the swirling currents of competing cultures, of nations and empires in conflict? Deploying the evocative imagery of apocalyptic symbolism, John the Prophet helps Christians in every generation to construct a frame of reference that is horrified by evil but never surprised by it, that cherishes the power of the gospel even while learning to live under the cross.

Dates: 29-31 July 2008 (Tuesday to Thursday)

Time: 7.45 – 9.45 pm

Venue: St Andrew’s Cathedral (Next to City Hall MRT)

29 July (Tuesday)
Rage, Rage, Against the Church (Revelation 12:1-13:1)

In apocalyptic language, John tells us what we learn elsewhere in the New Testament: the Christian's most fundamental enemies are not other people, but the powers of darkness. How then shall we cope and triumph?

30 July (Wednesday)
Antichrist and False Prophet (Revelation 13:1-18)

Some Christians around the world face brutal opposition and outright persecution; other Christians around the world are in danger of being seduced by false teaching and transient glitter. The dangers are different, yet they are one. How are we to respond?

31 July (Thursday)
Trajectories (Revelation 14)

There is a perennial danger of thinking that Christian life and thought pertain primarily to this world. But the whole of the New Testament is against this reductionism: there is a heaven to be gained and a hell to be shunned. These opposed trajectories mean that everything in this life has far more significance than we sometimes think

Hats-off to the Anglicans for organizing this conference, and moving in the right direction.

Article: Global Warming, Blind Faith, and Global Delusion

This is an interesting article, based upon a book, by Pastor Bob DeWaay on the hysterical Global Warming religion.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Paul Washer on Worthless Prayer Meetings

Here is a 6 minute clip fom Paul Washer on the topic of Worthless Prayer Meetings. Sad to say, I DO know of such "prayer meetings". May our Lord grant us repentance if we have had such gossip sessions "prayer meetings" and let us instead spend the time on our kness in prayer. Amen.

Weekly Meditations: Is. 10 (2)

In that day the remnant of Israel and the survivors of the house of Jacob will no more lean on him who struck them, but will lean on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God. For though your people Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will return. Destruction is decreed, overflowing with righteousness. For the Lord God of hosts will make a full end, as decreed, in the midst of all the earth.

Therefore thus says the Lord God of hosts: “O my people, who dwell in Zion, be not afraid of the Assyrians when they strike with the rod and lift up their staff against you as the Egyptians did. For in a very little while my fury will come to an end, and my anger will be directed to their destruction. And the Lord of hosts will wield against them a whip, as when he struck Midian at the rock of Oreb. And his staff will be over the sea, and he will lift it as he did in Egypt. And in that day his burden will depart from your shoulder, and his yoke from your neck; and the yoke will be broken because of the fat.”

He has come to Aiath; he has passed through Migron; at Michmash he stores his baggage; they have crossed over the pass; at Geba they lodge for the night; Ramah trembles; Gibeah of Saul has fled. Cry aloud, O daughter of Gallim! Give attention, O Laishah! O poor Anathoth! Madmenah is in flight; the inhabitants of Gebim flee for safety. This very day he will halt at Nob; he will shake his fist at the mount of the daughter of Zion, the hill of Jerusalem.

Behold, the Lord God of hosts will lop the boughs with terrifying power; the great in height will be hewn down, and the lofty will be brought low. He will cut down the thickets of the forest with an axe, and Lebanon will fall by the Majestic One.

(Is. 10: 20-34)

With judgment proclaimed over the enemy — Assyria, the prophetic message moves to comfort the people of God who are severely chastised by God and understandably distressed by the apparent victory of the enemy over God's people. The severe chastisement sent unto Israel will lead the remnant of God's people (v. 21) by faith back to God and not to their afflictors. (v. 20). They will lean on Him in truth and therefore truly know God, not superstitiously as their forefathers did. Such is the severity of judgment, that the remnant is a very small figure compared to the external people of God who are like the sand of the sea, by the wrath of God expressing itself out in destruction of the wicked reprobate among the Covenant community (v. 22). And this destruction would proceed according exactly to God's plan, and fulfils His purpose (v. 23)

From this short passage, we can already see a few things. In verse 20, we can see that God is not responsible for the afflictions on His people, although He sovereignly controls them for their chastisement, as He is not the "him who struck them". This already shows us that God is not the author of sin, though He is sovereign over it. And God's people will return and lean on Him in truth, which shows that returning to Christ is based on doctrine in truly knowing Him, yet that doctrine is experiential in its outworking (leaning on Him, not mere "head knowledge")

In verse 24, God comforted the believing remnant of believers not to be afraid of the Assyrians when they ravage the land, and they can not be afraid because God has in mind already their deliverance and salvation, and judgment on the Assyrians who will face God's wrath and fury for their unrighteousness (v. 25). Using the analogy of Israel's victory against the Midianites (Judges 7: 19-25) and of Israel's victory against Egypt at the Red Sea (v. 26), both of which Israel did absolutely nothing to gain their victory but only God did all the actions, God promised once again to do the same in delivering Israel from Assyria. And it did in fact happened miraculously during the reign of King Hezekiah exactly as prophesied (Is. 37:36). God did all the work of deliverance, and the people did nothing to contribute to their salvation besides having faith in God.

This prophesied account is a story of our salvation from God, which verse 27 hints at ('because of the fat', or 'the anointing' - KJV). Our salvation mirrors that of the Israelites here, for it is God and God alone who will save us from the "Assyria" of sin without any help from us. We just have to belief in Him and trust in Him while He monergistically save us from our slavery to sin into the glorious freedom of His Son, who is forever praised. Amen.

The cities mentioned in verses 28-32 are cities of Judah which the Assyrians wold pass through in their attempted conquest of Jerusalem, accompanied by the fleeing of the inhabitants from the mighty power of Assyrian's army. And within one day, the armies of Assyria would reach the area near Jerusalem and shake her fist against her for her destruction (v. 32).

And yet, God will pass His judgments. To those who in their pride proclaimed themselves strong and lofty, God promised that He Himself will destroy them and bring them low (v. 33), using the analogy of bringing down of the lofty trees of Lebanon to emphasize the point (v. 34). Assyria will face the full force of God's wrath in judgment for their pride and arrogance and wickedness, and God will cut off their strength. As we can read for ourselves, God wiped out nearly their entire army overnight (Is. 37:36), totally destroying the source of their strength, and which would ultimately lead to the destruction of Assyria as they start to decline as a nation.

So, beloved in the Lord, do not be afraid of the enemies of our God, no matter how strong they may seem to be to us. For God is our strength if we but trust in Him, and He Himself will be against our enemies and eliminate them on our behalf as long as we trust in Him. So be calm and at peace, for God Almighty is still on His throne, and nobody, not even the devil, can do anything without Him using it for our own good (Rom. 8:28). Lean on Him, and see our deliverance come even as the enemy seems to win for the moment. After all, the war has been won already in our favor, so why do we fret over seeming defeats in battles? Could it be that our God is allowing the enemy to win for the moment so that He can gain the greater glory for wiping them all out in an instance when they are on the verge of total victory? So continue to trust in God, and by faith we know that our God has the ultimate victory. May we trust Him in this on all that we do. Amen.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Richard Abanes: Behold the fruit of the PD paradigm

When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers! (1 Cor. 6:1-8)

Richard Abanes, onetime member of Saddleback Church and defender of the Purpose Driven paradigm, is no stranger to controversy, and I have clashed swords with him before. Abanes' recent action, however, sets a new record low even for him. Objecting to Pastor Ken's assessment as a pastor about his somewhat less-than-polite and not-very-humble dismissal of Pastor Ken's objection to the Purpose-Driven paradigm, Abanes resorted to threatening legal action against the IP server of Apprising Ministries, alleging defamation and libel.

If you have not read that article, please do read Pastor Ken's article: A Pastor's Assessment of Richard Abanes. I can positively see nothing even resembling defamation or libel, and since this article was written and uploaded THREE YEARS AGO in 2005, I find it astonishing that out of the blue, Abanes alleges defamation when he did not do so 3 years before when the article was first published, which shows that Abanes' motives are not exactly pure regarding this entire matter. Abanes then further attacks Pastor Ken by stating that there are more lies, more sensation and more sin from him (And conveniently closes the comment section after receiving flak from virtually all quarters).

The hypocrisy and duplicity in Abanes' action and allegation is simply mind-blowing. To disagree with the PD paradigm and to hold him accountable for his actions is defamation, but he himself can attack and defame anyone he so chooses? In this very same post, he attacks Chris Rosebrough in a reply comment to him, which proves the point so well indeed.

Chris Rosebrough,

Don’t get involved in this — you of all people.

You have done enough damage to the Body of Christ with your own slander, lies, libel, and deceit. And that is enough to be accountable for. I would suggest that you not start going around trying to defend equally ungodly behavior in others. I have no wish to fight with you because, to be honest, I feel sorry for you.

You went to the dark side when you had the opportunity to go towards truth. You blew it. So go back to where you are revered by your fans; exalted by those who adore the false information you spoon feed them — e.g., Rick Warren teaches salvation by works. Puh-leeze, Chris. You’re living in a fantasy world.

Again, you had your chance. You chose lies. Too bad. You had great potential.

As for your direct question, see my above answers to others.

~ Richard Abanes

[Comment #15]

I guess this comment speaks for itself indeed. It is definitely much much more inflammatory than what Pastor Ken has ever written about Abanes, and worse still it is totally baseless. A new low standard indeed for hypocrisy!

Much worse than alleging defamation of course is threatening legal action against the IP server, thus causing the IP server to threaten removal of the site because they most definitely do not want to be the subject of a lawsuit. Abanes then tries his spin to deny that 1 Cor. 6:1-8 is applicable to him since he did not actually sue anyone among other inane reasons. Absolutely hilarious and ridiculous!!! He further alleges that Pastor Ken violated the copyright rule by revealing his email, but since the email was sent by the IP server, why isn't he outraged that they were the ones who forwarded his email first? Perhaps Abanes can start by suing the IP server for infringing his copyright first!

As it can be seen, Abanes' actions here is simply outrageous. In point of fact, this action in clear violation of Scripture, plus his attempted spin to get himself off the hook, totally discredits his character and ministry at least for me, and by his actions we can see the rotten fruit of the PD paradigm. Someone so egoistical, self-righteous, hypocritical and resorting to all means to silence opposition to his "Truth", even if that includes violating Scripture!

See also:

Pride, Arrogance and Humility by Mike Ratliff

Attack on Apprising Ministries by Ingrid Schlueter

Saddleback "Apologist" Threatens Web Host Company with Legal Action - IPOWER to Shut Down Purpose Driven Critic by Lighthouse Trails Research blog

Update: Apprising Ministries has been taken down by its IP server, unfortunately, for now. Now, let's see if God will punish Abanes by allowing someone to do the same to his website/ blogs.

*Update*: For some comic relief, see Abanes trying to spin the indefensible on his own blog here and here. Really, I will recommend Abanes to join the Legal profession. Surely they need people there to argue their cases to change black to white and vice versa. Yup, under his "logic", informing an IP server that he has consulted his legal attorney and ask them to remove certain posts he deemd defamatory is NOT threatening a lawsuit. Next thing you know, pointing a gun at a person is NOT threatening the person's life because the magazine is in actual fact empty. Welcome to the fairy-tale world of Abanes....

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Gospel in Chinese

Isaiah has posted an interesting video which gives an overview of the entire Bible in Chinese. Very interesting.

Ray Comfort and the Doctrine of Separation

As the Ray Comfort saga unfolds, my friend Pastor Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries and Ingrid Schlueter of Slice of Laodicea has called upon Ray Comfort either to separate and not go for this conference, or to warn the Word-faith wolves. Coram Deo has responded by stating that we should not place any conditions for the preaching of the Gospel, upon which I replied based upon an exposition of Mk. 10:17-22 that sure, there are no preconditions for the preaching of the Gospel, but we MUST preach the Gospel in such a way that the Gospel is understood.

Up till now, I have not been discussing the issue with regards to the doctrine of separation which Pastor Ken has been mentioning quite a lot, and that is because I was waiting for Ray Comfort to get through the conference, or at least his slot for the conference to pass, so as to give him the benefit of the doubt. Now, the conference is more or less over, and the fallout has began since Comfort did not truly share the Gospel in the way that Jesus did and the false 'gospel' of the Word-faith cult (which is antithetical to the Gospel) was not addressed. I cannot say I am surprised, and although I may sound cynical, it is to be expected since that is the way of human nature, which thus bring in the doctrine of Separation.

The emergence of the New Evangelical movement in the 1950s/60s rejected the historic Protestant and Fundamentalist doctrine of Separation and through this, reap the bitter fruits of compromise and apostasy in the coming generations. They regarded the doctrine of Separation as being something that was bad; in that it was restricting the good that the church could possibly do if we just jettison it and compromise in various areas so that the Evangelical movement can have a larger platform and wider crowd to minister to. At least that was the intention of the founders of the New Evangelical movement, which was never about doctrinal compromise but about allowing some leeway in ministerial associations etc. so that "we can win more people for Christ". The commands of God in 2 Cor. 6:14-18 and other texts were therefore disregarded in the name of pragmatism and mostly a true desire to expand the work of Christ's kingdom. After all, God does not keep from His people any good thing, right? How can He begrudge me when I am sacrificing much for the growth of Christ's Kingdom?

The doctrine of separation is therefore regarded as restrictive, like the command that God gave to Adam and Eve not to eat of the fruit of the garden of the knowledge of good and evil. And just like Adam and Eve, Man is always tempted to believe the lie that God's commands are not good. Yet, the commands of God are always for our benefit, and the command of separation from heretics in ministry likewise, which Ray Comfort demonstrates negatively.

So why does God tell us to separate from heretics and even compromisers in certain instances? God told us to do so primarily because it will smudge our testimony for Him before God (2 Jn. 11) and Man, of which Comfort now is smudged because of his association with the Word-faith heretics in that conference. This could very well not be, however, if Ray had confront and denounce their heresy in that event, which he didn't. The reason? The fear of Man, which all of us suffer from. It is simply extremely impolite to attack your host and fellow speakers as heretics and call them to repentance in their own territory, not to mention the wrath you will engender from these people. And let's face it: nobody likes to make themselves hated.

It is because of this reason that God gave us the command of separation which is to be obeyed even with regards to preaching of the Gospel, for He knows our weaknesses. So should there be any conditions for the Gospel to be proclaimed? No. But can you proclaim the Gospel the way Jesus did it? A cursory glance through the Gospel accounts will make it very clear that any ordinary person would not want Jesus to be his/her guest, because Jesus will probably offend someone with the Truth just as He offended the Pharisees who were dining with Him (Lk. 11:37-44) and in fact also the one who invited him. How rude! As it can be seen, Comfort did not do it Jesus' way, and therefore becomes a negative object lesson as to why we should obey God's command of Separation.

Through this episode therefore, we can see the reason why God gave us this command to be separate from heretics and compromisers in their compromising. God commands this of us for our good, yet we refuse to obey and reap the rotten fruits of compromise. Comfort, through participation in such events without speaking out against the Word-faith cultic teachings, have lent legitimacy to their beliefs through his silence as if they were no big deal. Furthermore, Comfort is leaving the flock there exposed to soul-damning heresy which could destroy their faith in Christ. What a horrible thing to do! One sin begets another sin, and in this case, the sin of compromise by Comfort begets the sin of leaving people under the teaching of soul-damning heresy without correction!

Let us therefore learn to treasure and obey God's command of separation, which is for our good. Let the negative example of Ray Comfort show us the dangers of compromise, that we must learn that disobedience to God's commands always causes destruction to ourselves and others, and good motives are never accepted by God as a valid reasons, ever. As it has been said (in another context): The road to hell is pathed with good intentions.

See also:

Ray Comfort, Sir, You Had the Microphone

Crosstalk: John Avanzini/Word of Faith False Teachings, with end segment on the Ray Comfort issue

No, Ray Comfort the Issue is Not Closed

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Live-blogging report: John Avanzini and His Talking Stones

Ingrid Schlueter at Slice of Laodicea has posted an interesting write-up on her visit to the Word-faith event in which Ray Comfort has taken part in as a speaker.

It was a beautiful summer evening last Thursday as Tom and I headed from our hotel to Family Harvest Church in Tinley Park, Illinois. The Inspiring Excellence Conference was underway, and after hearing that Ray Comfort was speaking there, we decided to travel the short distance from Milwaukee to see what was going on. We were initially told by the church that Ray was speaking Friday night, but we learned after we arrived that he had already spoken, twice, on Tuesday.

We were somewhat early so we looked around at the book and DVD tables in the foyer. We saw John Avanzini’s Millionaire University DVD’s and in the bookstore, we saw more books promising us every financial and physical benefit if we will only follow the blow-dried wonder on the cover. One book on fitness featured a highly endowed blond in a tight t-shirt, flaunting her astonishing figure because she’d learned how to exercise God’s way. Interspersed among the personal enhancement books were an assortment of Ray Comfort books which looked somewhat odd in the middle of it all.

We made our way to the auditorium which had the stage lit up with colored lights. An usher gave me a dirty look so I put the camera away. Another usher came up to us as we were looking for seats and directed us toward the front. He grabbed my arm and looked into my eyes. “It’s warmer down closer to the FIRE!” he said and then laughed uproariously.

... [continue]

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Devouring one another

But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. (Gal. 5:15)

Following from my previous post on the differentiation between being watchmen and just being a gossip, there seems to be some people involved in pointing out what they perceive as errors and heresies who either align themselves with the ODM (Online Discernment Ministries) or the ODAODM (Online Discerning Anti-ODM). Previously, I had ignored the dynamics between the two and even some of their antics. However, since having being harshly attacked recently, and slandered and libeled by these "discerning people" (or "anti-watchmen" people), I have began to ponder about the situation.

As the previous post states, our attitude when showing forth the error of others is to be one out of love and not in glee when another falls. Yet it seems that are quite a few people who delight in attacking others personally. Not only that, they post outrageous lies about others, even setting up blogs with the sole purpose just to attack another brethren in Christ (It happened to me once by OldSchoolCalvinist before it was deleted). All of this is done of course apart from the teachings of Scripture. Rather, there is a certain spirit of bitterness in their actions; in using the public space afforded them via the Internet to blissfully slander others while sanctimoniously disavowing that they are doing this (attacks) as watchmen or teachers.

The spirit of devouring each other is alive and well on the Internet, unfortunately. Under the guise of "discernment" or "exposing the heresy hunters", representatives from both sides and especially all of the AODM turn against those doing the work of Christ and hinder their work. Recently, the Goforth conference on missions, which was held in Singapore, ended. I wasn't keen because of various reasons which I shall not be posting about now, though it surely is a mixed blessing to the churches involved, and my friend Huaizhi has blogged a bit about it here. What I wanted to focus on however, is an example of some who deemed it alright to criticize the conference without even understanding what it is about, plus the fact that the person does not even comprehend that the particular talk was about the priesthood of believers, who are all empowered for ministry. Strawmen, non sequiturs, various forms of misrepresentations and even outright lying and slander abound in such circles who, although they do not claim to teach, sure put forth their opinions on certain issues very forcefully.

But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. (2 Tim. 2:16-17a)

As Paul exhorted Timothy, so we should do likewise in avoiding such people and the nonsense they sprout. For example, it would be very well for all of us to avoid the waste of webspace called CRN.(mis)info, who act as the watering hole by which all manner of false accusations against true discernment and watchmen ministries are thrown, debated and refined. Ignore such people and their irreverent babble, for interaction will pull us down to their level and lead to more and more ungodliness in our conduct. Let them slander all they want, in the end God will take care of them. After all,

A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself. (Titus 3:10-11 — KJV)

As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned. (Titus 3:10-11 — ESV)

Such divisive people are self-condemned, and as such we do not even need to bother with their nonsense.

One thing which has happened which will shift my future focus on this blog also is the realization that not all who call themselves conservatives are truly for the Lord. My previous experience with Charismania drove me to Conservatism, yet it seems that I am forced to the reality that the lines of good and evil run through every movement. I was previously almost totally trusting of Conservatism and of the entire Fundamentalist movement; that they are right in doctrine though probably are over-reacting to the errors of the New Evangelicals in their praxis. The recent attack on my character by people affiliated with 'OldSchool' Fundamentalist separatists slowly change all this. Looking through rose-tinted glasses, it was my view that if only we were to show them that we embrace orthodox doctrines and center our lives on the teachings of Scripture, and show that to them through Scripture, the traditionalist separatists could be won over back to doing the task which Christ has given to the Church — to fulfil the Great Commission. Yet such was a mirage, a chasing after the wind in presupposing that all that separates ultra-conservatives from true Christianity is their siege mentality founded on fear. I was really a fool to think that way. Of course, this is not to say that there are conservatives who are not ostriches and are looking outward and desiring to fulfil the Great Commission, but my former impression that they are one monolithic group with regards to this issue has been shattered.

And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles." ... And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. (Acts 13: 46, 48)

Whereas as before, my mindset was on winning the traditionalists for the work of the Church. Yet now, seeing how some at least prefer their own holy huddle rather than to work towards the fulfilling of the Great Commission, and constantly attack and deride those who are trying to do the work of God, the focus will shift and move on. From now on, as for me, I will see how I can contribute in building the churches (including New Evangelical ones as long as they have not apostatized) and bring them to biblical soundness, and the people therein. These 'OldSchool' Fundamentalist Separatists can take care of themselves and stay in their holy huddle for all I care, for they have to answer to God for their own conduct anyway. In point of fact, if such people are representative of the Fundamentalist movement during the early 1950s/60s (hopefully not), I will really symphatize with the early New Evangelicals and support them over against the Fundamentalists then.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Some thoughts regarding the Doctrine of Separation with regards to changing churches

A brother-in-Christ in Singapore, Beng, whose blog is still "in building mode" (and as such I wouldn't link to his post) had emailed me previously regarding my article on the Doctrine of Separation as found on my website, which I had replied cordially. However, it seemed from his blog post on the topic that the full message with regards to the Doctrine of Separation did not really get through, which I then clarified further.

What this post will be about though, will be more regarding the story behind my article rather than the article itself. As evidenced by this dear brother, there is a blind spot in my article which I did not notice at first, and that is that I have failed to establish the relationship between the Doctrine of Separation (Truth) and the manner in which this is to be applied practically. Or rather, the practical application of the teaching is there, but it is based on certain assumptions which I have failed to see that others do not share.

So what are the assumptions behind this article? It assumes that we Christians as human beings, being social creatures, by nature would desire to join a local church and commit to her. It assumes that Christians by nature detest conflict, and hope to avoid it as much as possible. It assumes that Christians by nature want to stay in a local church that they are in because of many reasons one of which is the friends they have in the church. It assumes, most of all, that the Christians involved are peace-lovers who desire to promote the unity of the Church.

These were the assumptions I had in my mind while I wrote that piece, because I was such a person in my former church. Even while I was not fed (the whole church was moving into the Third Wave Neo-Apostolic rubbish), I refused to leave the church, reasoning that I could be the salt and light working inside the church for reformation. In fact, my younger brother wanted to leave the church and have visited other churches then, while I was serving as a Youth Cell Leader. I have encouraged him to stay and try to make a difference in the church, that our responsibility was to pray for her and make a difference within her even though the darkness was deep. We were to serve in the church and show the deluded people there the Truth from God's Word.

All this of course changed when the Passion of the Christ/PDL conflict broke out between me and the church leadership. There was absolutely no way I was going to allow blatant heresies to enter to deceive the flock, although I was then still rather young and immature both in the knowledge of the Faith (having just embraced Calvinism about 1 year ago) and in conduct. But you do not need a ThD to know that it is heresy to say that we must add Tradition to Scripture for example (one of the heresies of Romanism), or that we must set as our faith target for the PD outreach ten times the maximum figure we can conceive as being possible (using as 'scriptural proof' the parable of the sower if I remember correctly). [After reviewing my former correspondence, I agree I was too immature in my handling of the situation and thus part of the problem lies within me, but I digress]

Regardless, the situation made it impossible for me to continue being in that particular church, and I left it in 2005/2006, never to return again. I had then read Jeffrey Khoo's book on the doctrine of separation (Don't ask me how I got the book; I can't remember either), but I wasn't getting the doctrine. Slowly however, as I was broken by the apostasy in my former church and being driven out of it, and in loneliness due to alienation from my 'friends', I was driven to Christ alone who strengthened me in those dark days. And out of that special time of bittersweet fellowship with God, I grew in my knowledge of God and of Scripture rather tremendously, and out of that experience my first book was written so that other sheep would not be likewise deceived by the heresy of the Purpose-Driven paradigm.

Anyway, this was the background behind my article of the Doctrine of Separation. The Doctrine of Separation therefore is meant for us to realize the need for separation when the situation demands it, especially pertinent for Christians who truly desire to stay in a local church already for various reasons, and for those who love peace and the unity of the Church. It is never applicable for church-hoppers who treat churches as if the church is the service department who must satisfies the needs of the customer — you. For such people, a good dose of Frank Turk's rather skewed articles on the subject would be helpful. That said, the doctrine of separation should be embraced by us because by nature we prefer not to separate at all over "petty things" such as doctrine. The Doctrine of Separation is therefore supposed to function as a guiding light not for schism but so that we would learn how to obey God in separating from heretics and compromisers in certain situations etc even when it hurts us to do so, whereas naturally we would prefer not to do such a thing.

This then is the background assumptions and my experience behind the writing of that article. So with regards to whether it is right to change churches, please do not quote me as saying that you must leave all churches with unorthodox doctrine and find a pure church (You might as well have a church of one since it is impossible to find a church where everybody agrees with you on everything!). The principles stated there are guidelines and are to be seen as that, not to be blindly applied to any church situation and as such probably causing schism. Whether you should or should not separate from any church or ecclesiastical body is a decision you are responsible to make between you and God, based on the guidelines as (hopefully faithfully) exposited from Scripture in my article.

Watchman or Gossip - A corrective to the pitfall of a critical spirit

The duty of a watchmen in warning Christians of the enemy and the tactics of the enemy (Ez. 3:17-21) is surely much needed in this time of great deception in the visible churches. Yet, focusing too much attention on errors is surely unhealthy for the soul and creates the potential to fall into the sin of having a critical and judgmental spirit. This post from Herescope (a discernment ministry blog) written by Anton Bosch clearly show us the right attitude we should have as we earnestly contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3).

How do we react to the news of the fall of Christians, or to the rumor of the latest heresy that comes out of the camp of the false teachers? Do we take delight in pouncing on the latest tidbit of scandal and spreading it as wide as possible? Or do we react like David and Samuel did?

Will we delight in reporting the latest heresy or the fall of a Christian leader, or do we grieve even as we report it, lamenting the destruction caused by heresies and sins?

[HT: Christian Research Net]

Note: This has nothing whatsoever to do with the necessity for discernment, so the vultures of the AODMs are not welcomed here.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Gospel of Sola Fide

I have been posting about the Gospel and how serious we are to treat the issue of the Gospel. With regards to the Gospel, I have written and linked an article some time ago about the proclamation of the Gospel in which I have wrote about the contents of the Gospel with regards to its proclamation as follows:

So what exactly is the Gospel? In its broad sense, the Gospel is the entirety of Scripture, because ALL of Scripture is Good News and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting an training in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16 -NIV). However, the Gospel most definitely have a narrower and more popular sense, in that it demarcates the basics of the faith that is to be proclaimed and believed in order for people to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved. It is this sense which is prevalent in the NT Scriptures, whether it be distilled into a one-sentence message of 'Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit' (Acts 2:38); 'if you confess with your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved' (Rom. 10:9), or into proto-creeds as can be seen in 1 Cor. 15:3-8. Thus, we can see that the Gospel consists of propositional truth statements that are to be understood and believed in (not merely paying lip service), which results in the salvation of all who will do so. Such biblical passages definitely seems minimalistic; with the Gospel proclamation being reduced to one statement or a collection of statements. Or is that so?

What then does the Gospel consists of? The Gospel proclamation as found in Scripture is actually very simple and can be succinctly stated as: calling on all Man to repent of their sins and believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior (Lk. 24:47; Acts 20:21). Together with the other passages we have looked at earlier, this seems to suggest that the Gospel message is very simple and easy, and it is. However, Man, due to sin and our own creaturely limitations, complicate matters. God intended the Gospel to be simple, but then it is only able to be effective in communicating its message if it is understood, which mankind fail to do so due to our own sinful, creaturely nature. Our hearts are darkened (Rom. 1:21) due to the rebellion of our depraved nature against God, and we have became blind to spiritual things (1 Cor. 2:14) and without understanding (Is. 6:9-10; Eph. 4:18). Therefore, when given a simple Gospel presentation, rebel Man cannot understand it, and if they do, they would attempt to distort it. It is precisely because of this that the context of the various passages and the entire Bible itself is employed for the sake of the Gospel; that the meaning of the simple Gospel message can be made abundantly plain and clear (perspicuous); such that all Man would be able to understand it and be without excuse as to their rejection of the message.

This suggest, therefore, that the Gospel message is a simple message which must be understood in the way of how God wants it to be understood. In other words, the Gospel message is the simple message of repentance of sins and belief in Christ as Lord and Savior; according to the definitions of the terms and concepts as dictated in Scripture. For example, what is 'sin'? Sin must be understood in the biblical sense of rebellion and crime against God which Man commit against God by breaking His holy Law and thus incurring wrath and punishment. Any other definition like being just 'wrong choices which prove that we are human' would constitute a denial of the Gospel message, even though the word 'sin' may be used. This goes for the other words like 'Jesus Christ', which must be understood as being the name of the Second person of the Trinity which was incarnated on Earth by being born of the virgin Mary, lived a sinless life, and suffered and died on the Cross for our sins etc, and definitely NOT the New Age 'Jesus Christ'.

Now, such an exercise of the definition of words used could theoretically go on ad infinitum ad nauseum, leading to a semantic 'turtles all the way down' infinite regression scenario (which seems to be the rage within Emerging church circles, I may add). However, the Bible does not lend itself to such skepticism, as God has created Man in His own image (Gen. 1:27) and has even written the work of His Law on the hearts of all Man (Rom. 2:14-15), and has also revealed Himself to them through the work of Creation in what is known as General Revelation, thus Man are all born with a recognition of God but reject Him anyway. Part of the image of God that Man has is the capacity to communicate, and therefore there would not be an infinite regression scenario whereby Man could never understand anything of the Gospel at all, though our sinfulness do mar our understanding. It is because of this General Revelation that the Gospel proclamation, and all communication, is possible. With sufficient clarification, the Gospel could be communicated and understood, and the amount of clarification needed for the Gospel message to be successfully communicated would vary between different persons.

The next important question is with regards to how many truths are therefore needed to be communicated in order for the Gospel to be understood exactly as the Scriptures meant is to be? This would definitely depends on the audience. For simple folks, the basic message of repenting of sins and believing in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior would suffice, as their conscience could aid in the understanding process. However, such is not the case for most people who have bought into the philosophy of the world and have therefore suppressed the truth (Rom. 1:18-19) and seared their conscience against the Truth of God. For example, a consistent evolutionist would have already suppress the general revelation given within him/herself regarding the Creation of the world and thus the existence of sins, and therefore cannot understand the Gospel message with regards to sins (which furthermore removes the need for a Savior). Therefore, the Gospel message must include the entire account of the Creation and the Fall in order to 'fill up the gaps' he/she has created through his/her embrace of the evolutionary worldview.

The contents of the Gospel proclamation therefore is a modular one based on the core truth: 'Repentance of sins and belief in Jesus Christ', and explanations which clarify this truth. Typically, most people are not so degenerate as to require detailed understanding of correct doctrine in order to be saved, except for those in cults. What is meant by this is that a typical non-Christian wouldn't be thinking that perhaps the Gospel message is a commitment to a demigod whose name is Jesus Christ, or to Michael the Archangel when he/she hears the Gospel message, unless they are from a cult who teaches that. Occam's razor does apply to our thinking process too, and therefore human beings do not normally multiply ignorance unnecessarily by trying to make a message more complicated than it actually is. The Gospel message thus can normally be communicated and clarified without trying to do the equivalent of giving the unbeliever a crash course in soteriology within the context of a Gospel presentation.

So what are the truths to be included within a Gospel presentation? The truths to be included within such a presentation would be those which most people do not believe in and would be a stumbling block to their coming to faith. It is for this reason that the reality and awfulness of sin MUST of necessity be proclaimed, since Man typically either disregard or downplay sin. With this in mind, the reality of Creation, the Fall, the Substitutionary Atonement of Jesus Christ are the key doctrines which must be covered so that the Gospel could be clarified. Other doctrines like that of the Trinity are important too, but they would be important only if the person being witnessed to comes from an anti-Trinitarian cult.

This by the way would have practical implications with regards to the Ray Comfort saga (which I have just realized after I re-read it). However, this is not the issue we would be discussing here. Rather, we would be focusing our attention on the heart of the Gospel, which is the Gospel of free grace (grace alone — Sola Gratia) through faith alone (Sola Fide).

Anyway, I have prepared an article to that effect — The Gospel of Sola Fide. For we are saved by faith alone apart from any works that we have done or will do. This applied also with regard to salvation, as I have written:

The one issue that has cropped up recently is the idea that obedience to God somehow contributes to our salvation, and therefore the idea is that disobedience to Christ somehow disqualifies a person's salvation. While it sounds holy and honoring to God, it is in actual fact not because the act of obedience is taken as a work unto salvation, even though it is not called by its proponents a work per se. Thus Paul attacks the Judaizers mercilessly and condemned them to eternal hellfire (Gal. 1:8-9) because they require obedience to the Mosaic law of being circumcised among other requirements of the Mosaic Law. Obedience towards God by the believer is the expression of his/her love towards God, never to contribute in any way towards salvation. Of course, since obedience comes because of our changed regenerate nature which gave rise to faith (Jn. 3:5; Ez. 11:19), disobedience may indicate that such a person was not saved to begin with. But saying that obedience is a fruit of salvation is vastly different from saying that obedience contributes to salvation; the former starts from a position of being saved, the latter not. The latter position therefore is no different from any form of works-righteousness who attempt to work for their salvation and thinking that their works are pleasing in God's sight, while only those done by faith is truly pleasing to God (Rom. 14:23b)

What compounds the problem as stated above is when people create their own idea of what constitutes obedience towards God and then attempt to make it binding upon Christians. Such is the case with things like Jewish Sabbath observance or even Christmas or Easter observance. It is simply amazing how various people can make a law and then state without biblical warrant that such a law must be obeyed as part of our obedience in Christ. This is of course totally reprehensible, and more so when they make it the determining factor of salvation or something close to it. Such unbiblical laws do not have to be obeyed by Christians, much less used as a gauge of their spiritual condition before God.

Now, with regards to obedience of God's Law, we can see the immediate application to Judaists who claim that they are the one obeying God's Law, while all the while they add to it and distort it beyond recognition, not to mention judging people by it. It is surely revealing when their teaching is the exact same teaching which Paul condemns in Galatians, yet their eyes are blinded to see the error of their ways.

So therefore, let us follow the true Gospel of Sola Fide, and not the false 'gospel' of obedience to the Law. We obey God and His law as an expression of love, yet never as something which saves us nor make us saveable or more worthy to be saved. Let us reject the claims of the Judaists and trust fully in God for our righteousness apart from any works.

Behold Him there the risen Lamb,
my perfect spotless righteousness,
The great unchangeable I AM,
the King of glory and of grace,
One in Himself I cannot die
my soul is purchased by His blood
my life is hid with Christ on high,
with Christ my Savior and my God! (× 2)

(Before the Throne of God above, by Charitie Lee Bancroft, music © Vikki Cook, Sovereign Grace Music. Third Stanza)

A False Gospel leads to Damnation

This video says it all

As Mark Kieler said so well:

Let's face it: Political Correctness when souls are at stake is not exactly a high priority, and when Man tampers with the one and only message that can bring souls to heaven, souls are definitely at stake.

I think that is a serious understatement though, but it is the truth. This is why I would come down very HARD on those who dare to openly and unrepentantly preach a false gospel.

[HT: DefCon]

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Gospel of Sola Fide and the seriousness it should be held

I have been engaging in some sparring over at Isaiah's blog on the topic of the Sabbath with various commenters who insist on seventh day Sabbatarianism and attempt to make that binding upon Christians. One in particular, a person with the nick of King's Kid, have managed to raise the ire of biblically-minded Christians by attacking the Gospel of free grace (calling it "blasphemy") and overall insulting those of us who see the Legalism hidden behind the spiritual-sounding words. He/She further refuses to be corrected by Scripture and refuses to read what others are saying, but continues to utilize a Judaist hermeneutical framework in subjugating Christians to the demands of the Law. Needless to say, the revival of the Judaizer party in our modern time did not go down too well both with New Covenantal believers and with Reformed Covenantal believers like my friend Vincent Chia and me. The Epistle of the Galatians is so clear in its proclamation of Christian liberty from the Old Covenant and its laws such that all orthodox Christians have recognize this fact be they Dispensational, New Covenantal, or Covenantal in their hermeneutical framework and metanarrative. The Neo-Ebionite or "New Jews" movement are thus outside the pale of orthodoxy, and preach a false gospel which the Scriptures anathemized and such teachers are damned to the pits of hellfire without any hope of redemption (Gal. 1:6-8-9).

That said, this is not the focus of this post, of which instead I would like to focus on the attitude of Christians towards this matter. I would post two comments made from the post as perfect examples to illustrate perfectly what I would be talking about.

First:

July 18, 2008 at 15:23

Isaiah

Folks, I’m going to call a time-out here, if you don’t mind. At the rate it’s going it’s going to degenerate into a mud-slinging fest and won’t be edifying to anyone.

Please exercise restraint and caution. Sure, there are two seemingly-irreconcilable opposing points of view here, but I pray that everyone remembers that we need to seek to counsel with love and in good faith.

Will mud-slinging one another with outright insults, insinuations of insults, and seemingly witty attacks achieve anything? No, and neither will strong condemnation — if you have a valid point with Scriptural basis make it, else I rather you hold your peace.

It makes me quite sorry to see this, frankly. While I appreciated the debate earlier, I don’t like the fact that my blog has degenerated into a muddy battleground of sorts.

Second:

July 18, 2008 at 20:35

S.J. Walker

Isaiah,

Thanks. Sometimes the best meant things go in one ear and out the other. I have done the same thing. Sometimes we try the “well, I just call ‘em like I see ‘em” defense, or the “this sounds like that, so you must worship fat” arguments. Bottom Line: Are we knew men or aren’t we? If we can still justify the type the of language displayed here then there is a good chance we are just really nice looking corpses. If even the mention of the fact that mud slinging has gone on causes us to stop, think, and repent, then perhaps we are alive and simply need to wash up so to speak.

Thanks Isaiah, God Bless

Isaiah desires 'peace' on his blog, and for that I will not trouble him on his post with this issue again. Yet, that does not mean that I will keep silent. The stakes here are too high to keep silent — the salvation of souls are at stake, and therefore I will continue here on my blog with regards to this issue.

As I read these two comments, I am simply appalled. This is more so with SJ Walker, since he claimed to believe in the truth. The latitudinarianism shown here is just plain disgusting. Both Isaiah and SJ Walker thinks this is a mud-slinging session. Perhaps it is, but that is only coming from one side — King's Kid who enacts all manner of strawmen, shamelessly ridicules his/her opponents and attacks the Gospel of Sola Fide. Do they know what is at stake here? Similar to Paul's epistle to the Galatians and his controversy with the Judaizers, THE GOSPEL is a stake here. Embrace the Judaist, Neo-Ebionite heresy, and you essentially deny Christ and cease to be a true Christian. THAT is the issue. To put it simply if you will, the choice is between salvation by faith alone versus salvation by faith PLUS obedience to the Law, and we know what the Scriptures say about THAT.

In other words, this is not just some disagreements among brethren over some 'minor' issue like eschatology or believer's baptism/infant baptism. NO, the controversy is over the Gospel itself. Affirm the Neo-Ebionite position of King' Kid, and you have embraced another 'gospel' — it's as simple as that.

My good friend Vincent has posted a very good comment on this turn of events, which I will repost here.

July 19, 2008 at 1:46

Vincent Chia

Re: Christian Sarcasm?

For those of us who have no time (or no interest) to read “A Serrated Edge: A Brief Defense of Biblical Satire and Trinitarian Skylarking,” here is a profitable article on satire and sarcasm within the Christian context:

Is It “un-Christian” to Engage in Satire?

http://www.tektonics.org/lp/madmad.html

Or even a note from Teampyro …

http://teampyro.blogspot.com/2007/08/yes-we-do-need-sarcasm.html

Why the sudden interest in “Christian satire/sarcasm?” No, I am not dying to be satirical or even sarcastic, but it behooves us to to realize that the biblical authors used satire and sarcasm too. And I am absolutely tired of hearing such remarks from false teachers, “You are not turning the other cheek by being sarcastic or satirical.” Is that not turning the other cheek? Please do your exegesis.

A false teacher IS a false teacher; an apostate IS an apostate. I’ll call a spade a spade. And I don’t and will not pretend to enjoy the heresies and falsehood of false teachers and heretics. If heretics are invited to dance in all their glory, then be prepared to be shot down HARD.

As the author at Tektonics had written, “As with the Apostles, so too with the Fathers. And today, may he who is able use the gifts of sarcasm and satire. To those whose feathers (among other things) are ruffled by the use of these, perhaps the only appropriate response is that which my niece says to her little sister, in a playful and spritely tone, when the latter is overcome with a case of the pouts - and so too I say it here in a playful and childish manner, for the situation doesn’t seem to warrant anything else - Cry, baby, cry!”

So Cry, Baby, Cry!

And this I fully agree. Somehow we are supposed to treat heretics with kids' gloves? THESE ARE THE WOLVES WHO COME IN TO DESTROY THE SALVATION OF SOULS! And we are to ... smile at them?! I doubt anyone here would smile at a person who is attempting to murder their wives/children/parents/any other loves one, yet it is perfectly alright and in fact the only loving action to do in smiling at spiritual murderers?!

So let's call this 'loving' and 'tolerant' action what it actually is. It is a betrayal of Christ and His Gospel, hatred of the flock, the delight of Satan and his demons and false prophets.

A false teacher IS a false teacher; an apostate IS an apostate. I’ll call a spade a spade. And I don’t and will not pretend to enjoy the heresies and falsehood of false teachers and heretics. If heretics are invited to dance in all their glory, then be prepared to be shot down HARD.

May God have mercy upon us all, and help us learn to love God and denounce the error of latitudinarianism.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Article: A Little bit of Comfort for Machen's warrior children

Here is an interesting article by Carl Trueman with regards to the YRR (Yound, Restless and Reformed) movement. The concerns listed are very interesting, and would surely serve much food for thought.

These, point to the dilemmas which the new Reformed movement must face: how much is this movement about genuine belief and how much is social belonging? And for its leadership: how much is about genuine mission, and how much is about self-promotion and self-perpetuation?

...

Thus, one test as to whether the new Reformed revival is really a movement of substance and not simply a disparate collection of personality cults is to see whether the church is being built up and strengthened. ... Yet [the existance of] those [people] who can hear and believe all the wonderful teaching and still return to an Adventist church as a mission field give the rest of us some pause for thought

[HT: The Art of Theology — comment]

Sunday, July 13, 2008

LibraryThing

Well, I have managed to catalogued most of the books that I have, except about 10+ which I have not read yet or are on loan to various friends. You can see the books that I have here. As it can be seen, there are various not exactly orthodox or even heretical books there (and I am not talking about Rick Warren, Geisler's Chosen But Free skubalon or even Pinnock's The Openness of God), like Benny Hinn's Good morning, Holy Spirit and Oneness Pentecostal background Tommy Tenney's The God Catchers, not to mention Reinhard Bonke's Evangelism by Fire. These are the type of books I was reading when I was a young Christian without any type of guidance from my church politicians "leaders" then. So what does a young Christian hungry for food do when he is not fed? Go to the "Christian" bookstores and feed your mind with so-much junk which all conspire to destroy my faith that is. If not for God's mercy, my faith would probably be shipwrecked thanks to the nonsense promoted by these false teachers.

Song: Indescribable

I had placed this video over at my personal blog for some time, but anyway, here is it:

And here are the lyrics:

Indescribable
by Laura Story and Jesse Reeves © 2004 EMI Christian Music Group

1:
From the highest of heights to the depths of the sea
Creation's revealing Your majesty
From the colors of fall to the fragrance of spring
Every creature unique in the song that it sings
All exclaiming

Chorus:
Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.
You are amazing God
All powerful, untamable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing God

2:
Who has told every lightning bolt where it should go
Or seen heavenly storehouses laden with snow
Who imagined the sun and gives source to its light
Yet conceals it to bring us the coolness of night
None can fathom

Chorus 2:
Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.
You are amazing God
All powerful, untamable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing God
Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.
You are amazing God
Incomparable, unchangeable
You see the depths of my heart and You love me the same
You are amazing God

The chords can be seen over here.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Weekly Meditations: Is. 10 (1)

Ah, Assyria, the rod of my anger; the staff in their hands is my fury! Against a godless nation I send him,and against the people of my wrath I command him, to take spoil and seize plunder, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets. But he does not so intend,and his heart does not so think; but it is in his heart to destroy, and to cut off nations not a few; for he says: “Are not my commanders all kings? Is not Calno like Carchemish? Is not Hamath like Arpad? Is not Samaria like Damascus? As my hand has reached to the kingdoms of the idols, whose carved images were greater than those of Jerusalem and Samaria, shall I not do to Jerusalem and her idols as I have done to Samaria and her images?”

When the Lord has finished all his work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, he will punish the speech of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the boastful look in his eyes. For he says:

“By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom, for I have understanding; I remove the boundaries of peoples, and plunder their treasures; like a bull I bring down those who sit on thrones. My hand has found like a nest the wealth of the peoples; and as one gathers eggs that have been forsaken, so I have gathered all the earth; and there was none that moved a wing or opened the mouth or chirped.”

Shall the axe boast over him who hews with it, or the saw magnify itself against him who wields it? As if a rod should wield him who lifts it,or as if a staff should lift him who is not wood! Therefore the Lord God of hosts will send wasting sickness among his stout warriors, and under his glory a burning will be kindled, like the burning of fire. The light of Israel will become a fire, and his Holy One a flame, and it will burn and devour his thorns and briers in one day. The glory of his forest and of his fruitful land the Lord will destroy, both soul and body, and it will be as when a sick man wastes away. The remnant of the trees of his forest will be so few that a child can write them down.

(Is. 10:5-19)

The prophetic scene moves straight onto the Assyrians; the powerful Empire that cruelly laid waste cities and entire nations in her conquest to rule the world. Isaiah here prophesies against the cruel Assyrians, who are nearing the peak of their power then as they lay waste the northern kingdom of Israel/ Emphraim and the kingdom of Syria, both weakened in their failed military campaign against Judah.

The Assyrians are God's chosen tool of judgment and his rod of anger to do His will on the earth (v. 5), and in His sovereign plan God used them and sent them against godless nations to punish them for their wickedness; to plunder them and to destroy both the material wealth and the pride and spirit of the inhabitants of the nations they conquer (v. 6) Yet this is not what the Assyrians in their wickedness have purposed to do. They desire to conquer the entire world if they are able to and to destroy them, not punish them as God intended (v. 7). The Assyrians in their arrogance boasted in their prowess even as they plot the conquest and subjugation of Israel and Judah. Likening each of their commanders to the power and status of kings (v. 8), and thus able to take over each nation by themselves, militarily and more importantly in terms of their glorious status, the Assyrians lusted after the lands of other nations, to annex them and control them such that each commander is in charge of a former kingdom as a vassal state of the great Assyrian Empire. In verse 9, the Assyrians are stated as contrasting cities that are on the verge of or are falling (Calno, Hamath, Samaria — in or near Israel) to those which have fallen (Carchemish, Arpad, Damascus — all in Syria) and stated that there is no difference between them. As she had conquered these lands and destroyed their "gods" who are supposed to be greater than those in Israel and Judah (v. 10), so she boast that she will do the same with the God in Judah, whom she contemptuously regarded as "just another god" (v. 11).

Such pride, arrogance and boastfulness of course will not go unpunished by God, who will punish the Assyrians after he has finished using them as a tool of chastisement on Judah (v. 12). Months or years even before the actual judgment against Assyria took place, the prophecy of judgment has been proclaimed against this haughty nation. The Assyrians boasted in their prowess — their strength and wisdom through which they have done all these great things against other nations (v. 13) and have plundered them severely and taken all their treasures such that all yielded to the power of the Assyrians as they are without might to resist (v. 14). Yet, they attempted to elevate themselves above God — the God who is the one who has given them all these capabilities. God called them to account as being profane and foolish, for trying to elevate themselves above the one who gave them all these things and used them for His purposes. For who stupid can it be for an axe to boast that it does the work when it is only the tool used for such purposes, and thus by itself it is nothing? Or that of a saw, a rod or a staff — all inanimate tools! (v. 15) It is utterly foolish for inanimate tools to boast that they did the work, when they are mere tools unable to do anything without someone using them. Such is the foolishness of the Assyrians who mock God who is the One who is actually giving them their successes.

The judgment of God for so doing would fall upon the Assyrians in due time (cf Is. 37:36-38). The LORD will send a wasting disease to eliminate her military might (v. 16) and God Himself will inflict destruction on her and her economy (v. 17-19), such that the land would be so barren "even a child can write down the number of trees in the forest" (v. 19). Such is the destruction which God prophesied over Assyria, which will be realized much later.

In this passage, there are a few important things to take note of. This passage first of all teaches us about the sovereignty of God, and how that functions in a compatabilistic understanding of "free will". The Assyrians are most definitely free, yet God is absolutely sovereign over them as well, turning the hearts of the king wherever He wills it to go (Prov. 21:1). In this particular passage, God is sovereign in ordaining that Assyria be His tool of judgment. Yet this is not what Assyrian actually intended, which is to destroy the nations and rule over the world. The same actions that Assyria did, God intended it for His holy purpose of judgment while Assyria intended it for her cruel ambition. And thus we can see how the will of God acts in the affairs of Man. Man plots, plans and schemes according to the desires of their heart, but God uses their actions and overrides and harness them to accomplish His purposes, all without any heed to the "free will" of Man or what Man actually desire. And when the tools intend to do something contrary to God's will, God can use other tools to stop them so that God's will is supreme over all and His sovereign will is always accomplished.

The next thing we must humbly remember that is taught here is that all successes ultimately come from God. The Assyrians think that they have earned and worked for their successes, and that is indeed true humanly speaking. Yet, God is the one who has given them both the ability and the success that comes with its practice, and when the Assyrians boast about their successes, God proclaimed judgment against her. We are therefore to thank God for all abilities and successes we have and not to boast in ourselves, for ultimately they are not our doing but Christ who gave all of them to us.

The third lesson we can learn is that God is the Ruler of the entire earth and of all peoples whether they like it or not. Assyria does not know YHWH at all, neither were they having any relation to Him unlike the northern kingdom of Israel. Yet, God is sovereign still over that cruel pagan power, and holds them all by the same rule. So who cares whether such and such acknowledge God's laws or submit to them at all? God will still be their judge and condemned them in their sins regardless of whether they have even heard of Jesus or God before. God does not say that just because such and such do not know God therefore they are exempted from obeying the laws of God. This we can see in the case of homosexuality for example. God commands that homosexuality be termed sin, and regardless of what anyone says or believes, God will still demand that of them. Unrepentant homosexuals who do not believe or even heard the Gospel are nevertheless held to God's moral standard regardless.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Fleecing the flock

My friend Isaiah has sortof ripped a section of a streaming video sermon from a very well-known Singaporean Word-faith church and placed it on his blog post here. Appalling seems an understatement for the utterly deplorable and detestable and blatantly unscriptural teaching that comes from the mouth of that "pastor". And the saddest part? That those who profess the name of Christ would sit under and absorb such occultic teachings. Really, there is no other better term for it than 'occult'.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

THE way of the Master: An exposition of Mk 10:17-22

With regards to the current controversy over Ray Comfort's planned appearance at a WoF conference, Coram Deo have sortof responded in this post of his. There are of course many points all of us agree, in that the Gospel is sufficient for salvation for heretics if they will repent and believe in God. Also, there is nothing wrong about preaching the Gospel anywhere. One issue with Coram Deo that I have here has to do with the mode of preaching the Gospel and the consequences that follow, especially with regards to preaching at a WoF event. I will use this short exposition of Mk. 10:17-22 as the foundation text for addressing this issue.

And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. (Mk. 10:17-22)

In this passage, we can see Jesus talking to the rich young man in a setting analogous to evangelism, except that the subject of evangelism Himself is the evangelist here. Furthermore, this scenario is every Christian and Evangelist's dream come true. After all, what more can we ask for than for unbelievers seeking us out to enquire about the way of salvation? No need to break into cold sweat and be afraid of rejection; they naturally come to you enquiring about God and the way of salvation. Yet, even here, Jesus shows us the way to address seekers, and as it can be seen, we should proclaim the Gospel and not tone it down even if such a prospective convert and eager seeker reject the message in the end (Mk. 10:22)

Jesus' response to the question of the rich young man is to emphasize the commandments of God (v. 19), and call upon the rich young man to follow them. Here we can see that the commandments of God can merit salvation if they are perfectly obeyed (Rom. 2:6-11; Jas. 2:10). Of course, such is impossible for fallen Man and therefore the Law is meant to show us our desperate condition (Gal. 3:24; Jas. 1:23-25) in order to bring us to Christ.

Back to our passage, we can see that Jesus is using the Law in an attempt to show forth his status as a Law breaker. Incredibly, the rich young man claimed to have obeyed all of them from his youth (v. 20), which will therefore mean he has merited salvation! It is after hearing this that Jesus exposed his major area of sin: covetousness (the Tenth commandment as well as the First Commandment). Jesus called upon him to sell everything he has, give to the poor and follow Him (v. 21). His sin thus exposed, he went away sorrowful because he will not part with his great and many possessions (v. 22)

Now, as we look at this passage, we must ask ourselves why did Jesus not immediately name the tenth commandment in his first list of commandments to be obeyed. Also, why did Jesus answered the way he did, by asking the rich young man to DO something instead of just asking him whether he obeyed the tenth commandment?

We can see from the portrait of the rich young man that he thought he have followed ALL of the commandments. When Jesus named the commandments, He didn't name all of them, but it would be understood that the ten commandments are implied. Jesus did not name the tenth commandment here in order to make it explicit that the rich young man thought he obeyed all of the commandments of God. As it is with Man, we so easily treat God's standards lightly and so it is no surprising that there would be many self-righteous people who think that they have fulfilled the commandments of God like the Pharisees for one.

And that is why Jesus followed through with a very specific application of the Law which exposes his sinfulness. In the case of the rich young man, Jesus called him to sell all that he has and gave them to the poor, and then follow Christ. This is not because Jesus needed the money or required that of his followers (the same was not asked of people like Joseph cf Lk. 23:50), but through the failure to obey, it shows forth the specific sin of the rich young man. Contrary to his assertion therefore, he did not obey all of the commandments from his youth. His sin exposed, he chose to retreat from the light rather than turn to Christ for his salvation.

So what does all this have to do with the case of Ray Comfort? I have been saying that my main contention with Comfort's preaching at the WoF event is that he may be speaking Christianese there. Comfort's action is therefore analogous to Jesus' first answer to the rich young man; it does not truly 'connect' with the WoF heretics. A "simple" Gospel presentation using traditional Christian terminology is useless against the WoF heretics since they reinterpret all of the jargon we use into their heretical equivalents. What is needed is something analogous to Jesus' exposing of the rich young man's sin. The Gospel message to WoF heretics at a WoF event MUST be stated in a way to connect with them and get past their redefinitions of the Gospel terms. Just as Jesus uses a practical application to get past the self-righteous fog clouding the eyes of the rich young man, Comfort (and all who preach the Gospel) could use such practical aspects of the Gospel to show forth the soul-damning lie the WoF movement teaches and call both its adherents and teachers to repentance. Failure to do so would be total miscommunication, and therefore there would be no true Gospel communicated to these heretics and their followers. As an example, Comfort could talk about the sin of materialism as seen in many of the WoF teachers living like kings on earth, and how such a sin damns souls to hell.

So with this, I would urge Ray Comfort to preach the Gospel in THE way of THE master, our Lord Jesus Christ, to expose the sins of the WoF teachers and adherents. Do not preach using Christianese which might as well be Greek as well as the communication of the Gospel is concerned. Of course doing that would probably mean no more invitations to such events to be sure, unless the WoF teachers there repent of their heresies, but we are called to preach the Gospel no matter what the consequences anyway. So if Ray wants to go there to preach the Gospel, do it properly like Jesus did, otherwise do not go there to muddy the waters.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

On the efficaciousness of prayer — Does prayer operates ex opere operato?

Some time ago, I posted a quote I have gotten from Pastor Justin Neale's blog on the topic of prayer by A.W. Tozer. I have posted this above the post warning of the heretic and blasphemer revivalist Todd Bentley, which led my friend Rick Ianniello to mistook that this quote was meant for Todd Bentley, while actually I was posting that so as to 'bookmark' the quote for later use. And this use is now!

The Global Day of Apostasy Prayer had came and gone for the year 2008. I was rather busy at that time so I just managed to prepare a very brief summary of my objections to that event and mass-mail my friends about the event. What happened precipitated this entire post and the article that I will link to later.

A friend of mine read it and passed it over to his AoG pastor in Singapore who took part in the event, who replied to my brief email. In characteristic fashion, I treated the whole issue as an opportunity to correct the errors present in what the pastor says in love. The reply however did not see the light of day as my friend wasn't that keen to continue the exchange, and I decided not to pursue the issue out of respect for my friend, though I was not too happy with the way it is handled. I do not wish to lose a friend though, so I would just let it pass since this is not a doctrinal issue. [Contrary to what some people may believe, I DO have feelings]

That however does not mean that error can be allowed to stand. There is in particular one error which I find very pernicious and persistent within the Charismatic/ Neo-Apostolic movement which I think should be addressed. It is the error of treating prayer as being effective in and of itself, and that prayer is "the key to change the world". In other words, keeping in mind the context and decoding the phrase, what they are saying is that prayer changes the world because of the prayer of the saints. As it can be seen, this looks eerily similar to the Word-faith occultic assertion of faith as a force but unless proven otherwise it would not be stated as such. Rather, I would use the very appropriate Latin phrase Ex opere operato to describe such a view.

It is in answer to this view that I have prepared an article to answer this question. What does the Scriptures teaches about efficaciousness of prayer? Does prayer operates Ex Opere Operato?

Just some definitions:

Efficaciousness (n) is best defined here as the state/ power of being able to bring about a desired amount of an effect.

Efficacy (n): ability to bring about desired amount of an effect

Efficacious (adj): able to bring about desired amount of an effect)

Friday, July 04, 2008

The practical absurdities of strict Sabbatarianism

I have said this before in the meta somewhere, but I will repeat it again: Strict Sabbatarianism (whether of the SDA kind (Saturday) or the traditional Puritan kind (Sunday)) is practically absurd. I have recently came across an interesting 'book'(?) entitled Sabbath Re-examined by a certain Robert D. Brinsmead which is interesting in its examination of the Sabbath issue. While I d not agree with everything that he says, the part in Chapter 9: Applying the Letter of the Sabbath Law hits the nail on the head on this issue. So let's look at it:

Where does this original seventh day begin on a round world? Where does the sun rise first? Does the seventh day begin in Palestine, in Greenwich or at a place that our modern society calls the International Date Line? How do we know that the international community fixed the date line (which is not even a straight line) where God decreed it should be? The World Book Encyclopedia says that the "International Date Line is an imaginary line which marks the spot on the earth's surface where each new calendar day begins."

Some Sabbatarians argue that since God Himself designated the seventh day in Palestine, we should reckon that each new calendar day begins in the Middle East. Since the earth rotates so that the day moves westward, the Sabbath in Australia would begin six hours after it begins in California, not eighteen hours before. This would make Sunday the seventh day for Australians

A few years ago I met a seventh-day Sabbatarian who had given serious thought to this question. He argued that if we followed the letter of the law, Australians and all others on the same side of the International Date Line would keep the Sabbath after instead of before it is kept in the Western world. According to this reasoning, Sunday would be the Australians' seventh day. The fact is that calling any twenty-four-hour period the seventh day is both arbitrary and imaginary.

There seem to be about four ways to follow the letter of the Sabbath law on a round world. Three have been seriously proposed by groups of Sabbatarians. The first is to keep the Sabbath when those in Jerusalem keep the Sabbath. The second is to begin the Sabbath in the Middle East (assuming that the first day began in Eden and assuming that Eden was somewhere in the Middle East). This would not affect Western Sabbatarians, but it would mean that all Sabbatarians in the Far East would have to move the Sabbath forward one day. The third possibility is to begin the Sabbath at that "imaginary line" called the International Date Line. This would give us an "imaginary" seventh day. The fourth possibility is for the international community to alter the "imaginary line," which would require many Sabbatarians to change their day of worship. And why not, since they gave the international community the right to decide where to put the "imaginary line" in the first place? Would not one "imaginary line" be as good as another?

Determining the time to begin the Sabbath is also a problem. Seventh-day Sabbatarians generally prefer sunset, while first day Sabbatarians generally prefer midnight. The Bible seems to indicate that the Sabbatical period extends from "even to even." But when is "even"? Early Seventh-day Adventists hotly debated whether "even" meant six o'clock in the evening or sunset. Ellen G. White's vision in which she saw that "even" was sunset settled the question. But in recent years some specialists in the history of the ancient Middle East have shown that the Semites considered it to be "even" when they could see the stars, some time after sunset.

But what are Sabbatarians supposed to do north of the Arctic Circle, where it remains dark for several months each year? "Easy," some tell us. "Just calculate from the lowest and highest points of the sun." When I was in Norway recently, the Adventist Sabbath began in the Arctic Circle at 11:30 Friday morning. Sabbatarians were required to lose Friday as either a working day or a school day. Some were agitating a return to a six p.m. Sabbath commencement as a solution to this difficult problem. One of those pressing for a more liberal interpretation of the law was a high-school teacher. He said, 'We have to recognize that the law was drafted to suit the needs of an agrarian people living in Palestine, not a highly industrialized society living within the Arctic Circle." A measure of sanity indeed!

Then we could ask about applying the letter of the Sabbath law to airline pilots, international travelers or astronauts.

Even Sabbatarians may now say, "these are silly, nit-picking questions". Of course they are! But those who choose to apply the letter of the law must find an answer to such silly, nit-picking questions. Letter-of-the-law Sabbatarianism is as viable in our modern world as the Flat Earth Society.

Of course, the day stated here can be either the seventh day (Saturday) or it can be put as the first day (Sunday) and the logic still holds. Those who insists on strict Sabbatarianism should come and realize the practical absurdities of their position.