Monday, February 28, 2011

The Real Story Of Martin Luther

We, in Denmark, had the great privilege of hosting Dr Peter Hammond who is (among many other things) the president of the Reformation Society. Dr Hammond made many fascinating presentations from history and the frontier mission fields last summer for our annual Reformation Resurrection conference but his touching presentation on the life of Martin Luther really stood out to me. Luther's bold stand against the evils of the Roman Catholic church, coupled with his dynamic recovery of our precious doctrine of justification by faith, often get lost in the shadow of historical revisionism which has painted an ugly picture of the reformer.

Without a doubt, Luther got things wrong, which he readily admitted himself. But we often forget the term "Semper Reformanda" - the Church reformed and always reforming. Later reformers went on to make more of the necessary reforms as the Protestant movement veered further and further away from the elaborate and idolatrous works righteous system that emanated from Rome. I think Paul Washer said it best when he declared that we stand on Luther's shoulders. If our theology is superior, it is only because of that monk who discovered the doctrine of justification by faith alone as he groped around in the immense darkness of that Catholic monastery and found a way out. Should we expect Luther to have had all his theological ducks lined up when he nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the church in Wittenburg?

It is interesting to note these words in the second chapter of the book of Judges:

When Joshua dismissed the people, the people of Israel went each to his inheritance to take possession of the land. And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great work that the LORD had done for Israel. And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of 110 years. And they buried him within the boundaries of his inheritance in Timnath-heres, in the hill country of Ephraim, north of the mountain of Gaash. And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD or the work that he had done for Israel. (Judges 2:6-10 emphasis mine)

This is the turning point that sent Israel spiraling into some of the darkest chapters of their history - in fact the book of Judges finishes with several horrific stories and the closing words:

In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. (Judges 21:25)

Perhaps Frank Sinatra was actually paraphrasing the book of Judges in his song "I did it my way" which may also be the only song in the hymnal of hell.

Please note carefully the bold words I quoted above in Judges 2:6-10. Israel's tragic descent started with their failure to teach history and that history is His Story. Ray Comfort once said that "the only thing we learn from history is that we don't learn from history". May we not be like those before us and around us who run headlong towards the cliff. May we look back at our rich reformation heritage and the undeniable Sovereign hand of God in a movement that transformed every sphere of European society and won many into God's Kingdom. May we take the time to listen and learn as we take this journey back into the 16th century so we can press on in the 21st century with the knowledge that unless God builds the house, we all labor in vain . . .

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Just Added - Wesley Gold

Ray Comfort's compilation of golden nuggets from the preaching of John Wesley, has just been added to the resource directory!

Ray Comfort (Editor), John Wesley
Category: Heroes, Puritans, And Reformers
Click Here To Order
How could one man turn a whole country upside-down? How could he be disciplined to daily read his Bible, have private prayer, meet others for public prayer, and yet not be saved? Why did he say, I went to America, to convert the Indians; but oh! Who shall convert me? What did he read that “strangely warmed his heart” and brought him to Christ? These questions and others are answered in Ray Comfort's compilation of golden nuggets from the life of the great field preacher John Wesley who said that "The World Is My Pulpit". Loaded with great inspiration for evangelism and appreciation for our Christian heritage.

Friday, February 25, 2011

You Need My Book - Rick Warren's Sermon At Desiring God (Part 13)

The following commentary corresponds to the following video from 43:50 to 45:46

WARNING: Watching the following segment of video may induce vomiting!

This is just getting more and more painful. Just when I thought that Rick Warren could not possibly trump his delusions of grandeur reached thus far, he proves me wrong yet again. In a sermon loaded with moralism, pragmatism, bad hermeneutics, and quotes from bogus "bible translations"; Warren now informs his audience (with all the profound humility he can muster) that they all need to get a book on Bible study methods. For the duration of this sermon, Warren has repeatedly proved that he is the last person at the Desiring God conference who should recommend any Bible study methods. But wait - there's more! The book about Bible study methods that Rick Warren recommends is written by guess who? If you're thinking it must be the humblest guy in the universe then you thought correctly. After 40 minutes of hermeneutical hack job from Pastor Warren, he then has the gall to tell his esteemed audience that they all NEED to get "Warren's Bible Study Methods". If this is not the conduct of a complete jerk then can someone please tell me what else could possibly qualify? The fact that Rick Warren can show up (if via pre-recorded video qualifies) and deliver this garbage without being taken to task just makes me angry and grieved. Is it really that difficult to see through the Rick Warren barrage of self aggrandizing advice?

Warren goes on to scold his audience for not training people to be "self feeders". Aside from the self refuting aspect of this statement, it is a borrowed terminology from Bill Hybels and the world of Willow Creek where they seem to be under the impression that their major failure has been in not teaching their members to be "self feeders". Let's apply this self feeder idea to all of Jesus parables concerning a shepherd and his sheep, or how about the Lord's own words in John 15:5 where he says "apart from Me you can do nothing". And this drives right to the heart of the seeker sensitive/church growth train wreck where the indwelling transformation of the Holy Spirit has been substituted with man made programs and more programs. And when the programs fail they arrive at the conclusion that they should have been doing "other programs". This is what happens when the audience becomes sovereign in these matters. Yes, at times we are called to study Scripture in private, to commune with God, and meditate upon His precepts in the sanctuary of our private prayer closet. But this is not self feeding, it is the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. And until Rick Warren gets that, he just won't get it at all.

Warren closes this section with the discovery of a new attribute - the "skills" of God! Maybe . . . if you want to call omnipotence a "skill"!!!

More to come . . .

Go On To Part 14
Go Back To Part 12
Go Back To Part 1

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Lame Attempts At Relevance (Part 2)

Nominations are now being sought for further "lame attempts at relevance" because there are plenty out there. Part 1 involved the stock standard staple of the modern seeker church - a second rate cover version of an 80's song. My satire and mocking of the decade that brought us mullets, M&Ms, and Miami Vice should not make me immune from subjection to the same historical scrutiny. And my old friend, Paul from Adelaide, gleefully took the opportunity to drag an 80's skeleton out of my very own closet in the comments section of Part 1 - let's just say that I have owned cassettes in the past that I hope remained buried in the past. So thanks Paul for the humiliation.

Continuing in that 80's vein, what could be more fitting than a fusion between breakdancing and Hillsong. Now I am not Simon Cowell and I am in no position to claim much talent in the area of the creative arts. But can someone please explain to me why this video makes me laugh so much and if I need to remove the "talent plank" out of my own eye first.

That was certainly different to what I usually experience on a sunday morning. I can almost hear Paul from Adelaide running back to my closet to drag the next skeleton off the rack! Now Paul, I am aware that I posses the worst moonwalk ever seen in the first world (my moonwalk strategy involves lots of hand movement in the hope that it will divert people's gaze away from my lack of foot movement). I know my wife loves to invite me to perform it at most social gatherings we attend as a blessing to keep me humble. So perhaps I should not be laughing in the light of all my own 80's baggage. And perhaps the guy in this video is a godly man with a sincere motive to honor Christ. But I am still left wondering if "breakdance meets Hillsong worship" is the new cutting edge of church growth strategies. How does this minister to you?

Go On To Part 3
Go Back To Part 1

Monday, February 21, 2011

Hey Pastor, Stop Doing So Much Teaching - Rick Warren's Sermon At Desiring God (Part 12)

The following commentary corresponds to the following video from 41:18 to 43:50

From the outset of this segment Rick Warren tries to respond to his critics who lambasted him for his statement that the next reformation will be "deeds not creeds". This is exactly what Rick Warren stated in an interview with Beliefnet:

I’m looking for a second reformation. The first reformation of the church 500 years ago was about beliefs. This one is going to be about behavior. The first one was about creeds. This one is going to be about deeds. It is not going to be about what does the church believe, but about what is the church doing.

Yet again this serves as a classic example of Rick Warren's warped view of the Gospel and conversion. The deeds are a natural extension of rightly understanding the creeds. Just like James tells us that faith without works is dead (James 2:17, 2:26). James is not saying that salvation is also by works. He is saying "deeds" are the fruit of genuine saving faith. He is saying that if there are no deeds then we need to re-examine the faith that this person professes. When Rick Warren thinks that the Gospel can have significantly improved "results" by making the narrow gate into a wide gate and offering salvation without biblical repentance - then it is no wonder why he thinks that the next reformation is all about telling a bunch of goats how to act like sheep. Rick, the criticism you have received over this is highly justified - I thought you told us that you learn from your critics? You have not been misunderstood, it is you who have failed to understand the doctrine found in those creeds and that those doctrines are applied naturally by genuinely converted believers. The first reformation was largely about recovering the true Gospel hidden beneath the works righteous hot air that flowed from the pope's mouth. The only difference in the "second reformation" may well be which pope the reformers have to deal with this time around!

This ridiculous diatribe then leads into another incredibly stupid statement (and a strong contender for the dumbest comment in the whole sermon - and we're talking a long strong list of contenders) where Warren tells his audience that they "are teaching their congregations too much". No Rick, the problem is that you sell too many books to too many people that teach too many of your own ideas that have no basis in the Scripture. Surely Rick Warren must take some responsibility for the masses of false converts and severe biblical illiteracy that run rampant in mainstream modern evangelical churches. My head is spinning at the continual avalanche of unbiblical pragmatic man-centered philosophy. Is Rick Warren a bottomless well? Perhaps if pastors were not so enamored with the "success" of the Purpose Driven bandwagon, and they took their copy of Purpose Driven Life and started using it as a door stop (or boat anchor), and actually started expounding the Scriptures relentlessly, then we might start to see a growing number of people who have been regenerated and start bearing fruit in keeping with true repentance.

But I wouldn't say that Pastor Warren teaches too much, he should just teach his schtick on a talkback show instead of from a pulpit - because it does not belong there. And it is an insult to the many faithful shepherds in the audience.

More to come . . .

Go On To Part 13
Go Back To Part 11
Go Back To Part 1

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Just Added - Slavery, Terrorism, And Islam

Dr. Peter Hammond's shocking and sensational expose on the real history of Islam, and their many centuries of participation in slave trading, has just been added to my resource directory!

Peter Hammond

Category: Persecution
Click Here To Order
Slavery, Terrorism, and Islam - The Historical Roots and Contemporary Threat is a fascinating, well illustrated and thoroughly documented response to the relentless anti-Christian propaganda that has been generated by Muslim and Marxist groups as well as Hollywood film makers. As Karl Marx declared: “The first battlefield is the re-writing of History!” Dr. Hammond's book sets the record straight with chapters on “Muhammad, the Caliphas and Jihad”, “The Oppression of Women in Islam”, “The Sources of Islam” and “The Scourge of Slavery the Rest of the Story”. With over 200 pictures and 15 maps and charts, this book is richly illustrated. It consists of 16 chapters and 13 very helpful appendixes including demographic maps of the spread of Islam, a Glossary of Islamic Terms, a comparison of Muslim nations' military spending vs. their national prosperity, a chart on how Jihad works depending on the percentage of Muslims in the population and guidelines for Muslim evangelism.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Lame Attempts At Relevance (Part 1)

I just cannot believe the downward spiral that is modern seeker sensitive churches and their attempts to stay at the "cutting edge" of cultural relevance. RC Sproul was quoted as saying:

If there were such a thing as a seeker, what would he be seeking? The church growth movement seems to believe he would be seeking more of the same. In a world consumed with lighthearted entertainment, we offer up less professional, less entertaining lighthearted entertainment? Why, I keep wondering, would a “seeker” get up on a Sunday morning, and travel to some giant box to hear a third rate rock band preceding a third rate comic giving a third rate “message” that leaves him in the same state that he arrived in?

Hyperbole perhaps, but very close to the mark nonetheless. I can't help but believe that the following conversation has happened at the leadership level of hundreds of Willow Creek/Saddleback style churches.

Senior Pastor: Numbers are falling and those that come fall asleep during the service. We need to do something about this.

Youth Pastor: The key is reaching the youth. We need to get twenty-somethings attending regularly.

Late thirties/early forties Associate Pastor with a mullet and a mid life crisis: How about some 80's music (to reach people born after 1995). After all 80's music was very cool in the 80's!.

Senior Pastor and Youth Pastor together: Wow, why hasn't anyone thought of this before . . . like ever?

Associate Pastor: Why not get our worship team to present a poor man's version of a Van Halen song about suicide. I'm sure a lot of people would relate to that.

Worship Pastor: Right on man! I'll even get the bass player to jump one time during the second chorus. That should shatter the stereotype many people have that Christians aren't edgy and cool! Let's show the general public that we are the equal of any Bon Jovi tribute band going around right now!

Associate Pastor: Hey, and I'll see if I can find some Bible verses with the word "jump" in them! With so many lousy paraphrases to choose from I'm sure I'll find something.

Just check out the throng of trendy youth "getting down" in the church hall. Maybe they really did hit on something here - after all it got 96 hits on youtube!

It never ceases to amaze me that the most relevant thing of all is the ultimate statistic (one out of one people die) and it is also often the most neglected from the pulpit. Death and judgment will strike every man and it is the key to awakening the conscience and arousing our thirst for the righteousness found only in Christ. The law and the Gospel presented faithfully and passionately is as riveting as it gets.

Go On To Part 2

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Human Decisions v Divine Renovations - Rick Warren's Sermon At Desiring God (Part 11)

The following commentary corresponds to the following video from 37:35 to 41:18

Rick Warren starts out in this video segment by suggesting that godly convictions lead to godly habits. And these habits are what form our character. Once again, he tries to drag the horse by the cart. And his confusion is verified when he says "put on the fruit of the Spirit". This may be a slip of the tongue but it really brings us to the heart of the problem with moralistic preaching. Chris Rosebrough suggested in an earlier post that Rick Warren is a Pelagian and perhaps that accusation is over the top (maybe not) but I must say that I am certainly smelling a very strong aroma of Pelagianism here.

Pelagius was a monk from Britain, whose reputation and theology came into prominence after he went to Rome sometime in the 380's A.D. The historic Pelagian theological controversy involved the nature of man and the doctrine of original sin.

Pelagius believed that the consequences of Adam and Eve’s sin (the Fall) were restricted to themselves only; and thereby denied the belief that original sin was passed on (or transferred) to the children of Adam and thus to the human race. Adam's sin merely "set a bad example" for his progeny and Jesus "set a good example" for mankind (thus counteracting Adam's bad example). Pelagianism teaches that human beings are born in a state of innocence with a nature that is as pure as that which Adam was given at his creation.

As a result of his basic assumption, Pelagius taught that man has an unimpaired moral ability to choose that which is spiritually good and possesses the free will, ability, and capacity to do that which is spiritually good. This resulted in a gospel of salvation based on human works. Man could choose to follow the precepts of God and then follow those precepts because he had the power within himself to do so.

The controversy came to a head when Pelagian teaching came into contact with Augustine. Augustine did not deny that man had a will and that he could make choices. But, Augustine recognized that man did not have a free will in moral issues related to God, asserting that the effects original sin were passed to the children of Adam and Eve and that mankind’s nature was thereby corrupted. Man could choose what he desired, but those desires were influenced by his sinful nature and he was unable to refrain from sinning. (courtesy of Theopedia)

Now, back to Warren's quote "put on the fruit of the Spirit". A logical think through of this sentence may help us to catch a whiff of this Pelagianism. Trees bear fruit as a natural extension of their true nature. Apples on the branches don't make it an apple tree but the apples do testify to the authenticity of the apple tree. But what would you think if you found a tree with apples hanging off it attached by sticky tape? The fruit of the Spirit is an indicative of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit - not an imperative that we add to our lives to make our Christianity authentic. As usual, Rick Warren, like Pelagius, is more interested in the how to do and the what to do, than the Who has done - the "Who" being Christ and the "done" being His finished atoning work that makes it possible for us to become new creatures in Him. This is the elephant that Rick Warren does not see in his own living room - but I am hopeful that you, the reader, can spot an elephant at ten feet.

I think the 70's band "Police" summed up the transcendent theme of Rick Warren's sermon when they said those immortal philosophical words "do do do do da da da da that's all I'm gonna say to you" (wow I feel so relevant and cutting edge in a seeker sensitive kinda way). And that's what we get as Warren continues - plenty of do do do. Some of the things he points out are beneficial but it always revolves around human decisions rather than Divine renovations.

Oh oh, in the midst of all this I couldn't help noticing that Rick Warren's mention that he has a "life verse". This is modern-evangelicaleze for picking a Bible verse that you like and deciding that it will apply to your life. Life verses are for people who think that Scripture is really a smorgasbord from which we can pick and choose verses to create a reality to our liking. If you ever visit that smorgasbord you'll find that there is nothing left on the Jeremiah 29:11 plate while poor old Jeremiah 29:17 and Jeremiah 29:18 have been left out in the cold with no takers. This is all building up towards "Rick Warren's Desiring God infomercial" where he will tell his audience that they need to get a copy of "Rick Warren's Bible Study Methods" (no this is not a joke - just wait and see . . .). Rick, based on what I've heard thus far, your Bible study methods are right up there with "Joel Osteen's Scripture Memorization Strategies" (ok that was a joke).

And another thing, I really would like to meet all these pastors who are "godly and love the Lord and preach the word" but lack the "skill" to have a successful church. What exactly is he saying here? Define success? What skill? The only skill you will find listed in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 (which list the requirements for church leadership) is to "be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it". What a shame Rick Warren didn't choose that as his "life verse" nor develop it as a skill!

More to come . . .

Go On To Part 12
Go Back To Part 10
Go Back To Part 1

Monday, February 14, 2011

Dear Graeme, UnkleE, And Everyone Else Who Is Silent About The Gospel

I am finding a common tendency among most people who are critical of my adherence to Scripture or my "narrow" view of the Gospel. The tendency is that these people, when asked, almost always refuse to explain the Gospel in their own words. Two particular people spring to mind in recent weeks.

The first is a guy called Graeme who is an old friend from my early Christian life when I lived in Ipswich, Australia. Though I would still consider Graeme as a friend, I'm not so sure he would reciprocate after the hard words I spoke to him in the comments section of one of my posts. These hard words were, however, entirely called for due to Graeme's disgraceful cheap shot at the Creation Science community with his outrageous claim that:

Lets face it, Creationists don't don't really care about Christ. But they do care about the literal meaning of creationism (yes that is a direct quote).

It becomes even more outrageous when you consider the fact that Graeme has commented numerous times on this blog without having anything to say about the Person and work of Christ. Graeme's comment is equally insulting to ministries like Answers in Genesis who produce excellent Gospel tracts and invest heavily in evangelistic outreaches. Some of these people are people who I have met personally and found to be very Christ centered. I wouldn't have a clue about where Graeme stands with Christ because he has never said anything about it. When Graeme was asked several times to articulate the Gospel and how much He esteems Christ, he had this to say . . . . deafening silence.

"UnkleE" is another Aussie, as best as I can tell, who felt the need to comment on a recent post about Rob Bell and defend Rob Bell's heretical theology. In fairness to "UnkleE", he initially responded because he misunderstood some of my commentary (which I should have been clearer on). But as the conversation progressed, it turned out that "UnkleE" had read one of Bell's books (Velvet Elvis if I recall) and found nothing problematic or heretical in a book that is very heretical and probelematic (paging universalism). Since "UnkleE" considered Bell to be sound enough that we should just leave him alone I challenged him to explain the Gospel in his own words - in the hope of understanding where "UnkleE" was at. I was genuinely concerned about "UnkleE" due to his handling of Scripture and relaxed attitude about universalism. What was UnkleE's response:

Further discussion would be unproductive.

Well Graeme and "UnkleE" and everyone else who is unwilling to discuss this with me - please watch this video and answer my question underneath!

Obviously the woman's advice is as useful as an ashtray on a motorcycle . . . unless you WANT to go to hell! But what would you say to this man in this situation? I really want to know. Graeme and "UnkleE", hard as it might be to believe, right now I am being your best friend. This is where the rubber meets the road. And whether you respond or not (please do), you can be sure about this: one day you will either meet the man in this video or be the man in this video.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Just Added - The End Of The Law

Jason C Meyerøs in depth work on how the Mosaic Law relates to the Gospel has just been added to my resource directory!

Jason C Meyer

Category: Theology
Click Here To Order
Commonly understood as the first theologian of the Christian faith, Paul set forth the categories by which we describe our relationship with Christ. Did he understand the new covenant Jesus announced at the Last Supper primarily as a replacement of the old Mosaic covenant God made with Israel, or as a renewal and completion of the old? Jason C Meyer surveys the various differences that have been argued between the two covenants in The End of the Law: Mosaic Covenant In Pauline Theology, carefully and inductively perfoming a semantic, grammatical, and contextual analysis of all the Pauline texts dealing with covenant concepts. This is Book Seven of the New American Commentary Studies in Bible and Theology series, an extension of the long-respected New American Commentary.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Informing The Whole World Of What His Right Hand Is Doing - Rick Warren's Sermon At Desiring God (Part 10)

The following commentary corresponds to the following video from 36:00 to 37:35

To emphasize the importance of having convictions Warren decides here to give an illustration comparing opinions with convictions. The only thing is, he quotes Bible verses to furnish examples of convictions. Rick, Scripture goes way beyond convictions - it is the inerrant and infallible God breathed Scripture. It is Gospel truth whether it convicts you or not . . . unless perhaps there are Bible verses that you are less convicted about??? I just don't get the point here anyway. I just don't know why Piper didn't invite someone that might have something worthwhile to say.

Anyway, in the midst of all this, the outlandishly humble Pastor Warren (and remember his call to humility earlier in the sermon) can't help himself but give one of his favorite "conviction illustrations". I have heard numerous Rick Warren sermons and I can only recall two common denominators in each message. Firstly, no Gospel content and secondly, how he gives away 91% of his income. Earth to Rick Warren - that is not an example of a conviction, it is an example of boasting. And, by the way, Jesus has some advice for you:

Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:1-4)

If it's any comfort to pastor Warren, according to Jesus, he already has his reward. So well done, enjoy your reward as you continue to blaze that bright trail of humility.

More to come . . .

Go On To Part 11
Go Back To Part 9
Go Back To Part 1

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Unequaled Greatness Of The Son Of God

A preacher we will be hearing a lot more about in the future is a man by the name of Art Azurdia. This guy absolutely blows me away every time I hear him preach. His glorious Christ centered preaching is also a stunning contrast to the moralistic therapy that Rick Warren continues to serve up in the current series I am doing on him. Listen up as Azurdia takes the construction requirements for the Tabernacle in the book of Leviticus and launches into a stunning exposition of the glories of Christ . . .

Monday, February 7, 2011

Sanctification In 847 Easy Steps - Rick Warren's Sermon At Desiring God (Part 9)

This whole sorry saga has been full of surprises.

Surprise 1 - John Piper invited Rick Warren to be a keynote speaker at his 2010 Desiring God conference.

Surprise 2 - Piper gives an explanation that is even more confusing.

Surprise 3 - Many of us know that Warren is clever, pragmatic, and not a theological dunce. It was, therefore, widely expected that Warren would deliver a solid sermon loaded with reformed theology to woo his new audience. That he delivered his usual moralistic man centered diatribe on how to fix our lives took me completely by surprise.

Surprise 4 - Burk Parsons and John Piper, in response to Warren's dreadful sermon, had nothing critical to say about it.

Surprise 5 - Virtually nobody with any profile in the evangelical world had anything to say about Warren's sermon (with the exception of a handful of people like James White, Todd Friel, and Mike Abendroth).

The lack of fallout from this has actually done a lot of damage. Warren has gained a credibility in certain circles that he should never have received. The Purpose Driven movement has driven a lot of good pastors out of their pulpits and turned many discerning church goers into outcasts. Many of us have taken refuge in fellowships with good reformed preaching from people like Dr John Piper. This is why we are horrified at the thought of Warren and his purpose driven propaganda gaining any traction whatsoever among churches that guard the Gospel and good doctrine. This series is a project I have taken upon myself because, though there are people far more qualified, there has been a lack of response and analysis. My desire is to show that the inherent problems in man centered preaching are obvious and easily detectable, that dissecting a sermon like this is beneficial for our practice of discernment in our local church context, and that their is a huge need for biblically sound hostility to all other gospels than the one found in Scripture.

The following commentary corresponds to the following video from 30:53 to 36:00

It is difficult to sift through the barrage of things we need to do. In this section of video Warren launches with his "five levels of learning". Rick - chapter and verse please! Perhaps he is right and these ideas may be helpful but I have no idea where he gets them from. And yet at the same time, we are learning that asking Warren for biblical support usually creates more problems than it solves when we see his hermeneutical practices and the bogus translations he uses. Hearing all this reminds me of my old days in a seeker friendly church where I was continually overwhelmed with the number of things I needed to do that I wasn't doing. I believe it makes most of us dizzy and discouraged.

Warren seems to think that almost every aspect of Christian development, whether it be conversion, discipleship, or sanctification, can have a lengthy "how to" manual written for it - he also thinks that he is just the man to write it. The importance of the regenerative transforming work by the Holy Spirit in taking someone dead in sin and bringing him to life with a new heart and earnest desires to obey God, is easily noticed by it's continual absence from Warren's preaching.

Rather than dismantle this diatribe, which has been done enough already in earlier posts, I will just respond to two points that Warren makes in this section of video.

1. Warren's commitment to church history and good theology.
Warren gleefully responds to his critics in these areas by pointing out that they have a "small bio" of a figure from church history on the back of their church bulletin! But wait, there's more - they even have a "theological word of the week" also on the back of their bulletin at Saddleback. How dare anyone ever question Rick Warren's commitment to church history and good theology. This is so laughable it would make a good comedy routine - if it wasn't so insulting to those in the audience who labor week in week out in the biblical text and great commentaries. The fact of the matter is that Warren's track record on these issues stands in very stark contrast to his own portrayal of himself. Is it possible that he just can't see this???

2. Warren's explanation of the cross.
In John Piper's video explaining why he invited Warren he actually tells us that he asked Warren about Penal Substitutionary Atonement. You only need to watch this video from 0:19 to 0:43 :

Warren flexes his theological muscles when Piper calls him saying that it is "absolutely essential that we get Penal Substitutionary Atonement right in the Gospel". This is a staggering comment in the light of the fact that I have heard Warren attempt to explain the Gospel on numerous occasions and have never once heard him even mention anything about this wonderful doctrine.

As is evident in Warren's sermon at Desiring God, rather than delve into the doctrine of the atonement, Warren prefers to lean on his own platitudes and cliches to describe the greatest event in history. How much does Jesus love us? Warren says the answer lies in the Savior's arm span as he hung upon the cross - that "He would rather die than live without us". These are the ingredients of a lame romantic song, not the doctrine of Penal Substitutionary Atonement. In one hour of preaching this is the closest Pastor Warren gets to what should be the epicenter of his preaching. This just makes me so angry that Rick Warren can get away with this double speak.

More to come . . .

Go On To Part 10
Go Back To Part 8
Go Back To Part 1

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Just Added - Whitefield Gold

Ray Comfort's compilation of precious excerpts from the preaching of George Whitefield has just been added to my resource directory!

Ray Comfort (Editor), George Whitefield

Category: Heroes, Puritans, And Reformers
Click Here To Order
A collection of pearls painstakingly harvested from the work of the "Trumpet of the Great Awakening", George Whitefield. Editor Ray Comfort shares the "best of Whitefield's best" with other Christians who seek inspiration and sage advice regarding evangelism, open air preaching, and the Christian life. Organizing the sensitively revised material into short, titled sections, Comfort leads the reader through an energetic exploration of elegant work that's guaranteed to strengthen the skills and fortitude of anyone leading another person to the Lord. This compilation is also accompanied by a biography and photographs that will bring Whitefield to life.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Rob Bell In The Sky With Diamonds

I think I've finally figured out the difference between Rob Bell and Bill Clinton - Bell definitely inhaled!

In naming todays post I decided to jump on the modern evangelical bandwagon of relevance. For those of you who don't know what relevance is it means professing Christians trying to be cool by doing something that stopped being cool several decades ago and I figured an old Beatles song from their psychedelic era was right in that ball park. I would contend that I have a better chance of guessing what Rob Bell has been smoking than what he is actually talking about here. I don't think he had anything to say about the actual resurrection - but then my head is still spinning and my memory is totally hazy man!

The historical reality of Christ's bodily resurrection is way more thrilling than any emergent induced psychedelic trip.

There is enormous evidence for the resurrection. I’ll mention just five of them.

1. Jesus was seen by hundreds of witnesses. That is good enough in a court of law.
2. When Peter preached on the day of Pentecost he testified to the resurrection in Jerusalem. Thousands were there and no one questioned him.
3. The Bible has never been proven wrong on anything. We have a document more trustworthy than any other book ever written.
4. That Christianity has survived for 2000 years.
5. The change in the disciples behavior. What else could explain how these cowards who fled when Jesus was crucified had suddenly become bold and fearless witnesses ready to preach endlessly and die willingly in His Name. (Read from Foxes book of Martyr’s)

There is no reason to deny the resurrection other than a desire to keep on sinning in the hope that you will not have to face the resurrected Lord on the day of judgment.

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. (1 Corinthians 15:20)

Christ’s resurrection guarantees the resurrection of His church.

For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:21-22)

Adam’s one sin brought death on everyone. The ultimate statistic – one out of one people die. Adam’s sin brought the curse of death. In Christ’s resurrection shall all be made alive. Now – does this verse teach universalism that everyone will be saved? We know the Scripture cannot contradict itself and it clearly teaches that not everyone gets saved – that there are sheep and goats. So what is Paul saying here? It depends upon the link with the man. All who are in Adam – who are the descendants of Adam? We all are. All who are in Christ – who are the descendants of Christ? John 1:12 says "as many as believed in Him, to them He gave the power to become the sons of God."

The first all includes all who are in Adam by the common factor of . . . sin. The second all includes all who are in Christ by the common factor of . . . faith. All who are in Adam die. All who are in Christ live. Who are you in?

But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. (1 Corinthians 15:23-26)

Christ was raised bodily, glorified so that His human frame was perfectly suited for both heaven and earth. His body could be seen, and touched (Luke 24:39; John 20:27; 1 John 1:1). He ate food (Luke 24:42-43) and walked and talked as He had before the crucifixion. At this very moment, he sits on the Father's right hand in that same body—making intercession for the saints, including me.

More amazing than all of that, I will one day have a body like His: able to traverse heaven and earth, immortal, yet familiar in its physical form. In fact, it will be this very body, thoroughly healed of all its infirmities and imperfections. That amazes me and thrills me (Phil Johnson, online source).

Rob Bell may be interesting to those who don't care about Gospel truth and to those unregenerated by the resurrected Jesus. . . but to those redeemed, the reality and truth of Christ's bodily resurrection is absolutely thrilling and invigorating.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Freedom Vote For Southern Sudan - Peter Hammond Gives The Latest From Sudan

It is always great to hear the reports Dr. Peter Hammond brings from the some of the more dangerous mission fields around the world. You won't hear much about Sudan on CNN or Fox but it is a place where Christians have suffered relentless Muslim persecution for centuries all the while being largely ignored by the UN. Please read this to be informed about the real news that is going on, and to gaisome valuable perspective on what life is like for most Christians who live outside of the western world. Take it away Peter:

A new country is about to be born as Southern Sudanese overwhelmingly voted for secession from the Arab North.

Final Walk to Freedom

From 9 to 15 January, South Sudanese voted in polling stations throughout the vast country and even across the world. Polling stations were set up as far afield as in the United States of America and Australia for the dispersed refugees and “lost boys of Sudan” to have their say in what is being called “the final walk to freedom.”

Violence in Abyei

The mostly peaceful elections were marred by a number of violent clashes, including a deadly ambush at 5pm Monday, 10 January. Misserlya Arab tribesmen killed 18 Southern Sudanese civilians and wounded 18 as they returned from the North to vote in the Referendum in the South.

Referendum in Abyei Postponed

In the disputed oil rich Abyei region, which is meant to have a separate Referendum on whether to join the South or the North, dozens of people were killed in violent clashes. The Referendum in this region was indefinitely postponed.

Counting the Votes

It is estimated that it will take the rest of the month to finalise collating and counting the votes from all the remote regions of Southern Sudan. However those votes which have already been counted are overwhelmingly for secession. At Juba University polling station it was 2,663 votes for secession to 69 for unity. At the tomb for veteran rebel leader, Dr. John Garang, who died in a helicopter “accident” under suspicious circumstances just weeks after being received by a crowd of over 3 million in Khartoum, 3,066 votes were counted for secession and just 25 for union with the North.

Observers Approve Referendum

The two largest foreign observer missions, the European Union and the Carter Centre Foundation have described the Referendum as “open and transparent” with over 95% voter turnout and therefore “valid.”

Logistical Challenges

Despite the tensions in the border regions, particularly in Abyei, huge crowds queued to cast their ballots. Southern Sudan is a vast and undeveloped region which has only about 40km of paved roads in an area the size of France and Belgium combined. The logistical challenges of conducting a Referendum throughout the war devastated regions of Southern Sudan were overwhelming. Many polling stations could only be reached by helicopter, or by motorbike. The first 30,000 ballots counted were 96% voting for secession and only 3% for unity. While that is only a small section of the 3.2 million votes cast, observers are convinced that almost everyone in Southern Sudan is for independence from the North.

War Wary

Since the British granted independence to Sudan, 1 January 1956, Sudan has been at war for most of the last 55 years. Just in the second phase of the war (1983 to 2005), an estimated 2 million people died and over 4 million lost their homes and were forced to flee.

A Fragile Peace

Oxfam estimated that just in the last year (2010) of peace, more than a thousand died in fighting between Arab Northerners and Black Southerners and more than 200,000 people had to flee their homes.

The Failure of the UN

Many non-governmental organisations have criticised the United Nations Peace Keeping Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) as having “so far failed to prioritize the protection of local people.”

Abyei Flash point

During the Referendum at least 50 Misserlya Arabs and 26 Southerners were killed in fighting in Abyei. Dissension between the Arab North and the Christian South on the Referendum in Abyei has led to the suspension of the separate Referendum there. The Northern government wants the Misserlya Arabs to have voting rights, while the South says that only permanent residents of Abyei, the Dinka Ngok, should vote. The Misserlya Arabs are nomads who only come to the South for grazing seasonally.

Separation or Unity

Because most Sudanese are illiterate the ballot papers are simply illustrated with a single hand marked Separation and another outline of clasped hands marked Unity.

Goodbye to Khartoum

One Southerner, Tom Drani said: “we are saying goodbye to Khartoum, the capital of old Sudan. We are coming to have our own capital here in Juba.” Atem Yak said: “I never saw the flag of Sudan as something I owed allegiance to. The national anthem never represented my will. So I will not shed tears when Sudan breaks into two. I will be happy.”

Ecstatic Rejoicing

Former UN Secretary, General Kofi Annan, said that he had never seen more smiles than at the polling stations at Southern Sudan. All have reported on the overwhelming enthusiasm and ecstatic joy witnessed in the long queues at polling stations in the South.

Many Died for Freedom

Col. William Ngang Ayuen said: “We lost a lot of people. Today is good for them.” Southern Sudan President Salva Kiir voted at the tomb of rebel hero John Garang. President Salva Kiir declared: “I am sure they did not die in vain.”

A New Nation

Signs in the crowd declared: “A new nation to be born on the African continent!!!” Sudan, geographically the largest country in Africa, will lose a third of its land, nearly a quarter of its population and most of its oil, if the South secceeds.

Delivered from Oppression

Julia Kiden said: “We feel that after the Referendum we will be delivered from oppression from the North.”

U.S. Incentives

The United States has offered the government of Sudan many incentives to allow a peaceful Southern vote, including removal from its list of State Sponsors of Terrorism and the lifting of economic sanctions.

Lost Boys of Sudan in America

Polling stations were set up in 8 American cities to accommodate the many refugees from Southern Sudan living in the USA. Baseball star, Luol Deng, arrived at a polling station in the North Side of Chicago, saying: “A lot of people have fought for this day, a lot of lives have been lost over this and now we have a say. All we could do in the past is run. Now we are here today to show we’re not running. We’re here to make a difference.”

Freedom from Fear

Dolly Odwong who recalled the Russian-made Antanov bombers raining death and destruction on their communities: “The coming generation will not feel the way we felt. We don’t want them running the way we were running and hiding, because when the war started everyone had to run and hide. Life was very difficult and people were saying to God: Why us? That was the question. So now we are thinking that God has heard our prayers and He is saying: Your people are going to be free!”

The China Connection

The looming partition of Sudan after last week’s independence vote in the South presents peculiar challenges for Red China. Nearly 5% of China’s total oil imports come from Sudan. 80% of the oil fields in Sudan lie in the South and the state-run China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) has pumped billions of dollars into Sudan, with arms deals bolstering the unpopular Khartoum regime. China has defended the Arab regime in international forums against the Southern rebels who are about to lead this new state. China has now opened a Consulate in Southern Sudan’s capital Juba.

China Charm Offensive

In October China sent a delegation of senior Communist Party leaders to the South and sought to upgrade its representation to Ambassador level. The Chinese government and the CNPC oil company have mounted a charm offensive in the South and sponsored dozens of political leaders to visit China in an attempt to repair the damaged relationships and keep the oil flowing from the South to Port Sudan and onto China.

Comprehensive Peace Agreement

This Referendum is a core requirement of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended decades of conflict between the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA) and the National Islamic Front (NIF), now renamed the National Congress Party (NCP).

From War to Freedom and Peace

The longest war, in the largest country in Africa, is about to be concluded after this historic Referendum, which is expected to result in an independent and free Southern Sudan by 9 July.

Faith and Action

By God’s grace, the culminative effect of many years of intensive prayer, worldwide publicity, international pressure and missionary partnership with courageous persecuted Christians in Southern Sudan will bear fruit this year. By God’s grace, we have stood with our beleagued brethren through some of the worst days of vicious persecution, and we have helped them – not only to survive Jihad – but to thrive.

Dr. Peter Hammond is the author of Faith Under Fire in Sudan. For 29 years Peter has been a missionary to restricted access areas. During the war in Sudan, he flew far behind enemy lines to the beleagued Nuba Mountains with tonnes of Bibles, school books, agricultural tools and seed and other relief aid. Peter delivered some of the largest shipment of Bibles ever flown into an officially Islamic state and came under aerial and artillery bombardment while preaching in churches in Sothern Sudan.

The Faith Under Fire in Sudan book and Three Films on Sudan on one DVD are available from Frontline Fellowship P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725 Cape Town South Africa Tel: 021-689-4480 Email: Website:

See also related article:

Southern Sudan Referendum on Secession