Thursday, February 23, 2017

The quality of charisma many wolves possess

Introduction

This week GraceLife Pulpit's pastor Phil Johnson tweeted out a link to a Nautilus magazine article in a positive light. I usually like what Pastor Johnson likes, so I thought his positive remark to the article might be worth a read. It was. The article is titled "The Anatomy of Charisma".

I first began hearing the word 'charisma' as a very young person. After President Kennedy was assassinated, which occurred when I was nearly three years old, the word became indelibly attached to Kennedy and then the Presidency itself. I used to hear it a lot. This Japan Times article notes that Kennedy set the bar for charisma and the Presidency.

It's interesting to note that 'charisma' and 'presidency' are usually intertwined. Or any national leadership position. Truly charismatic people do not remain unknown. Their peculiar light ends up shining more and more brightly to ever widening audiences, until the top levels of leadership - or notoriety - have been reached. This happens due in part of course to the times, and the man, but also to his possession of the quality we are examining today: charisma.

Defining charisma

So what is charisma?

Laying aside the interesting article above for a moment, we read the straight definition of the word:
compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others.
If it sounds like possessing a charismatic personality can be dangerous to others, it is. 'Inspiring devotion' usually means the person receiving the charismatic's shining light makes emotional decisions, not rational ones. The article opens with this paragraph:
For weeks I had been researching what science has to say about the power of charisma. Why do some people so clearly have it and others don’t? Why do we fall so easily under its influence? Charismatics can make us feel charmed and great about ourselves. They can inspire us to excel. But they can also be dangerous. They use charisma for their own purposes, to enhance their power, to manipulate others.
The article goes on to quote a Christian-turned atheist, Bart Campolo, son of  preacher Tony Campolo. Bart uses his charismatic personality for manipulative purposes and in the article Bart plainly tells how.
Humanist chaplain Bart Campolo knows the dark side of charismatic leaders: "The essence of demagoguery is recognizing that appealing to people’s emotions is the most rational way to move them. After all, that’s where people make their moral decisions."
The best way to inoculate one's self against falling for a charismatic personality is to stay in the Word. The word is of the mind, it's where truth resides. An effect from learning the truth can be an emotional one, but the first pass is always the mind. Truth sheds light and clarity on the Christian mind, and if we keep putting the Word in it, we can stay safeguarded against manipulation.

Charismatic people in Christianity

The second straight definition for charisma was: "a divinely conferred power or talent." Many charismatic leaders do seem to infer possession of a divinely conferred gift. At least, they don't deny it when their loyal followers intimate as such. Or say it right out. The Nautilus article goes on,
The early 20th-century German sociologist Max Weber wrote charisma is a quality that sets an individual "apart from ordinary men," and causes others to treat him as "endowed with supernatural, superhuman, or at least specifically exceptional powers or qualities." Such qualities, Weber wrote, "are not accessible to the ordinary person, but are regarded as of divine origin or as exemplary, and on the basis of them the individual concerned is treated as a leader."
Pastor Johnson tweeted out the link to the Nautilus article from the angle of being interested in how one goes apostate. He wrote,
Atheistic "chaplain" Bart Campolo makes some telling analyses of charisma, his dad’s influence, & his own apostasy:
As I read the article though, another famous charismatic leader kept popping into my mind. The antichrist. I began to think how the pinnacle of charismatic leadership will be encapsulated in this man prophesied to come and delude the whole world.

Charismatic Antichrist

I'm fascinated with this figure the Bible prophesies will appear in the very last days of the end time, during the Tribulation. He will delude the entire world, duping men from east to west and leading them into perdition. He will be the devil's best and most successful tool, right until the moment Jesus decides enough is enough and comes back to earth to stop him.

In Daniel 11:21 we learn that the coming world dictator will obtain the kingdom by flatteries. This word actually means slippery. I think we have all read about or even have known someone we dubbed "slippery tongued'. Some say silver tongued. That will be the antichrist, using language to bamboozle and appeal to the emotions, where all rational thought will slide right out of their brains.

He will be a master of intrigue, Daniel 8:23 records. The word means dark intrigue, riddles. Once again the antichrist will use language to manipulate, a feature of all charismatic people.

He will deceive the whole world. (Revelation 13:14).

The fact that the entire world will be deceived (except post-rapture saints) is indicative of his powerfully charismatic personality. The world will be spellbound, taken in by his smooth words, flatteries, facility with language to confuse and deceive them.

Even though the world has not seen THE antichrist yet, many antichrists have already gone out into the world (1 John 2:8). Many charismatic men come along to deceive and twist the Word, to the detriment of the health of the sheep. Paul noted this in Romans 16:17-20,

Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. 18 For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting. underline mine

In this second Nautilus article about charisma, Why Joel Osteen, “The Smiling Preacher,” Is So Darn Appealing, we learn that charisma is not only an inborn quality, it can also be taught and then used as a tactic.
But there’s a small but growing group of individuals who have another explanation. Using brain-scan technologies and modern statistical techniques, a band of committed academics in recent years have set out to decipher that mysterious quality from which legendary leadership is born. And some have reached what a previous generation of observers might have considered a dubious conclusion: That it’s possible not just to reverse-engineer charisma, but that it’s something, at least in part, we might learn to master.
During the Tribulation, the coming antichrist will delude all the people who do not have Christ. Even today with the church on earth, we see how easy it is to be taken in by wolves, especially charismatic wolves who manipulate your emotions and use rhetorical tactics that confuse the mind. So what's the antidote?

Protecting yourself against charismatic wolves


1. The Word of Christ.

In addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:16-17)

The sword of the word of God is both an offensive weapon and a defensive one. Staying in the Word is the best protection against the wolves, no matter who they are, whether they be charismatic or dull.

2. Vigilance

We are also to take heed and be on guard. The Christian life requires vigilance. Many, many verses urge us to be on guard, stay sober, be vigilant. That means admitting that wolves exist, expecting them to come, and testing them against the word, no matter how popular or well-liked they are. Do this every time. It's what vigilance means.

3. Avoid them

Paul said in Romans 16:17 that of those who cause dissensions and strife, and teach what is contrary the Gospel, avoid them. Don't dabble. Don't eat the meat and spit out the bones. Don't entertain them on TV or in books or go to their movies. Don't rationalize that they might be OK. Avoid them. The word actually means 'to turn away from' which is a stronger action that passively avoiding. It's a deliberate turning of your back to the wolves.

4. Submit to elders

Acts 20:28 tells the pastors and overseers to take care for the flock. Hebrews 13:17 tells us to have confidence n the overseers and submit to them. I know that many of you cry out that your elders are not doing their jobs, that they allow false doctrine in all the time. But in any case, the Bible tells us what to do. Pray for them, help them, and submit to them. We know what to do even if they do not. And if they do, all the better. God raised them up for a reason.


I'm sure if we scoured the Bible we'd find lots of directions for how to protect one's self against the false ones. But these are top of the list. Pastors and preachers with charisma come along all the time. They come and go. Osteen has had some staying power, others are flashes in the pan. But there will be one particular religious seeming man who will possess all the charisma and power and signs satan can give him (2 Thess 2:9). He, and the ones preceding him, will be easily spotted if you do what we're supposed to do, and compare what he says to the word of God. Not how he says it, not how he looks when he says it, but his actual words.

As always, it always comes down to God's word. Praise the Lord He revealed Himself in it and to us!



Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Jesus' predestined life

Predestination is a topic many people either disbelieve or refute. Here is the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry's definition of foreordination:
Foreordination is the same as predestination which means that God ordains what will happen in history and in salvation. It means to appoint beforehand. The word 'foreordained" is used in the KJV in 1 Pet 1:20. Source
It's the difference, for example, of God using the circumstances around Esther's situation to make events come out like He wanted, and causing the circumstances of Esther's situation, in order to work His pre-planned purposes. Understanding Foreordination means you see the God of the universe as the cause of everything for His purposes and will, instead of a bystander scrambling to pick up pieces from man's actions in order to work it all out for the good.

See these two of many verses regarding foreordination-

also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, (Ephesians 1:11).

to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur. (Acts 4:28).

I apologize in advance...but I heard a sermon in which I took notes and forgot to credit the source. I did not make the following up. It's from a sermon I was listening to, but sadly I don't remember who spoke it!

In it, we learn that Jesus did not have a problem with foreordination. We also see clearly that foreordination did not nullify Jesus' will and it did not turn Him into an automaton. Here is the sermon excerpt:


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Whenever we find a doctrine to be challenging to us [like predestination] the most helpful question we can ask is: 'What did Jesus think of this? How did it work out in his life?' 
When we ask those questions in connection to God's foreordination and predestination, and search the Scriptures to see how they worked out in Jesus' life, what do we discover?
There never was a man so conscious that his life had been predestined by god as the Lord Jesus Christ. But this did not turn him into a an automaton, or a mere puppet. God's predestination is not biological determinism, nor it is a form of fatalism. 
There was, surely, never a freer man, or one more conscious that his actions were his responsibility than our Lord Jesus Christ. He did not become our Saviour by accident on the one hand or merely as a machine n the other. He was destined to be our Saviour; and to that destiny he freely committed himself. He never saw nor felt any contradiction between God's sovereignty in his life and his own responsibility for his actions., neither should we.

That God had planned His his destiny in advance becomes clear from the very beginning - in the first two chapters of his Gospel Matthew mentions five occasions when Jesus fulfilled Old Testament prophecies when he was too young to have had any choice in the matter.
Matthew 1:22-23

22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
23 Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (which means, God with us).

Matthew 2:5-6

5 They told him, "in Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

6 "'And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.'"

Matthew 2:15

15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

Matthew 2:17-18

17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:

18 “A voice was heard in Ramah,
weeping and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”

Matthew 2:23

23 And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.

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For me, knowing God is in COMPLETE control is a balm. Understanding that He orchestrates events from before the foundation of the world is a relief. He does not have to play catch-up. He does not have to scramble. He is not surprised.

When you read the genealogies, doesn't it occur to you that God is in control of each and every person meeting and marrying and procreating at the perfect and exact time, so that eventually the line of the Tribe of Judah will produce the Lion? God had to have been behind that since Adam and Eve for the lines to descend in the way He wanted with the bloodlines fulfilling promises and prophecies.

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. (Proverbs 19:21)

If you'd like to learn more about predestination, here is a series by Ligonier. Usually they have a paywall, but not for this series. It's entirely free.

Predestination A Teaching Series by Dr. R.C. Sproul

Here is an essay from Grace To You answering the question: What does the Bible teach about election?



Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Prata Potpourri: writers, future husbands, the broken way, just silence, post-sermon discouragement...more

Here are some other bloggers for you, their good thoughts and insights. Enjoy!


For all the hand-wringing we do over the immature state of the next biblical generation coming up, their lack of biblical knowledge causes one to wonder, who will be the next generation of authors, bloggers, editors? Samuel D. James makes 4 requests to young evangelical writers
We can be honest about our experiences and how they form us, but making experience authoritative–especially when it empowers broad assumptions and animosity toward others–is deeply deceptive.

Jen Wilkin guest blogs at Christianity Today and explains why it's important what we call our Bible classes. Stop calling everything a Bible Study.
Churches have gradually shifted away from offering basic Bible study in favor of studies that are topical or devotional, adopting formats that more closely resemble a book club discussion than a class that teaches Scripture.

Rebekah Womble at Wise in His Eyes reviews Ann Voskamp's The Broken Way. She insightfully poses the question that the unusual language Voskamp is known for employing may serve a darker purpose than simply poetic (or eccentric) - deliberate biblical confusion and intentional misdirection of the sheep.
The most frightening thought I had while reading was that even an unbeliever could agree with the vast majority of the book. Voskamp’s claims about God, love, suffering, and helping humanity are not far off from those made by any theist who seeks after “world peace” and mankind’s happiness. are I propose that this ambiguity and pretty, poetic language on Voskamp’s part is purposeful? I can’t pretend to guess at her intentions, but she must answer to the way she misguides her readers into unbiblical, mystical, man-centered beliefs.

Many of us are tired of social media, for a variety of reasons. One thing I've noticed personally is that I am weary of being told what to do every time I scan my Facebook wall or skim my Twitter feed. Just note the plethora of tweets or statuses that say 'You must...' and you'll know what I mean. You must vote for this guy, you must not vote for her, you must pray, you must stop being undiscerning, you must use baking soda to clean your counters, you must retweet this meme ... Oy. Even though the advice is usually good, please stop telling me what to do, Social Media. I'm off to read a book instead.

Another wearisome thing is being told what to care about all the time. We must speak out on this social issue, donate to that social issue, pray for social injustice over there, get active about the social injustice over here. Adam Parker has some good ideas in A Just Silence on why it is good to wait before speaking, or sometimes, it's best not to speak up at all.
The insistence of many that all of us need to continually speak out about almost every social issue and make official statements of sympathy or refutation in the court of public opinion--when, in fact, the courts that God has established have not had a chance to run their due course--is, quite frankly, wearing me out. I suspect I'm not alone.

Joel C. Rosenberg has some observations about the immediately warming relations between the infant Presidency of Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and compares to the relations between the two nations during Obama years.
Night and day: President Trump warmly welcomes Israel’s leader & the contrast with the Obama years couldn’t be more vivid. (My observations on the “two-state solution” & other major issues the two leaders discussed.)


After an event toward one had anticipated, worked, struggled, there is often a let-down afterward. Post-partum depression, post-traumatic stress, even post-wedding day blues all demonstrate that while we work toward ascending some great height and labor in love toward a cherished goal, there often comes an anticlimax when it's over. The same is often true for pastors after a sermon. Sunday afternoon and especially Mondays can be tough for your pastor. Here, Richard Caldwell at The Expositor's Blog has some thoughts on Post-Sermon Discouragement. What's a pastor to do when he feels that he's laid an egg?


Kirsten at Point to a Purpose has some thoughts on washing feet, sacrificial love on our knees for others. Anytime I wonder how to love my enemy as Matthew 5:44 says, I think of Jesus lovingly washing Judas' feet on the night Judas goes out to commit the most heinous act in the universe. Convicting.
And even in spite of knowing what Judas was going to do, Jesus was on his knees, washing Judas' feet and loved him anyway. Showed him kindness anyway.
Courtney Reissig at Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood wonders, Have we made too much of submission? (Yes, and no...)
Submission is often seen as a women’s issue. It’s the wife’s role in marriage, we say. And it does pertain to women in the covenant of marriage (I should know. I wrote an entire chapter on it in my book). But it’s not just a women’s issue. Whenever submission in marriage is brought up in Scripture it is always done within a larger conversation about submission for everyone.


Broken-hearted? Crushed in Spirit? Here are some thoughts from Growing Christian Resources showing How God Works In The Lives Of The Broken-Hearted And Crushed In Spirit,
We in American Christianity think it is our heritage to be free from difficulties. When trouble comes, we begin to wonder whether God still loves us or not. We can be doing exactly what He tells us in His Word, be in the center of his will so-to-speak, and yet, find the dryness, crushing weight of circumstances crack us on the inside. In those moments, we ask God: "what is going on?"

Beggar's Daughter reveals that she does not pray for her future husband, and why:
When I speak at college or high school events, sometimes I’ll get asked about the practice of praying for my future husband. More and more I see it addressed on other blogs and by other speakers on the issue. I used to do this, (and write him as well!) but I don’t anymore, nor do I encourage young women to.

David Murray at HeadHeartHand blog asks Are you a deep worker or a shallow worker? (I understnd that the busy pace of life often prevents the time necessary to devote to deep-thought work, but try. Here's why)
It’s what’s necessary not only to wring every last drop of value our of your current intellectual capacity, but it also creates the state of mental strain that is necessary to improve intellectual abilities. ... This contrasts sharply with most modern knowledge workers whose use of digital devices has fragmented their attention span into slivers. Instead they are pre-occupied with “Shallow Work” which Newport defines as...

To that same end, Erik Raymond also asks the question, Are You Suffocating Your Creativity? Oftentimes we stultify our creativity by reducing free time that cuts out time to imagine, wonder, think. Don't.
One such area involves free time to simply think. This is open time when we can allow our minds to wander a bit and latch onto things that we may not normally have the opportunity to think through. I believe this free space is vital and increasingly being diminished. It’s been crowded out by the pace of life; some of this is our fault, and some of it is simply the result of living in our age.

Thank you for reading!

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I passed by the field of a sluggard,
by the vineyard of a man lacking sense,
and behold, it was all overgrown with thorns;
the ground was covered with nettles,
and its stone wall was broken down.
Then I saw and considered it;
I looked and received instruction.
A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest,
and poverty will come upon you like a robber,
and want like an armed man.
Proverbs 24:30-34

Monday, February 20, 2017

Unpopular the Movie is devastating in a good way, as the Gospel always is

Red Grace media has published Unpopular The Movie, and it's wonderful. This half hour movie is Christ-centric, accurate, clear, and presents the Gospel in a devastatingly biblical way. When you hear/read the Gospel, unvarnished and with open ears and open eyes, it singes the heart and devastates the soul. It is incendiary. Even as a long-saved person, it will try your emotions, and bring you low. We ALL need The Gospel.

Here, Emilio Ramos, Dr James White, and Paul Washer quietly discuss The Gospel. The background music is unobtrusive, the setting is thoughtful, and the presentation of the Gospel is accurate and beautiful. The movie is as much for the saints as it is an evangelism tool for the unsaved. Here is Red Grace Media's synopsis:

Unpopular The Movie is a Evangelism resource for the church. Unpopular is a gospel presentation by Emilio Ramos, Dr James White of Aomin.org, and Paul Washer from Heart Cry Missionary Society. Unpopular is meant to serve as a tool to evangelize non-Christians with the gospel of Jesus Christ. To stay up to date visit http://www.unpopularthemovie.com

Mr Ramos said,
We live in a culture that glorifies sin. That trivializes sin, that makes sin less heinous than it is. It is very deceptive to look at sin in a way that makes sense to us. If we see ourselves in the way that the culture tells us to see ourselves, then man can remedy his condition through technique. But if we see ourselves the way the Bible tells us we really are, then the only remedy for our sin is the work of the Savior.
This is good. Watch it!

Sin, repentance, the cross...are the most upsetting and controversial doctrines on the entire earth. They are presented here, along with God's love and mercy.

Listen and watch for yourself. We all need the Gospel, all the time. Let its truth and the majesty of a holy and righteous God who accepts sinners into His family through His slain and resurrected Son, Jesus. Then share.


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Further Reading

The Gospel According to Jesus, by John MacArthur


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Why we must oppose false teachers: They shut heaven's door in people's faces

In the sermon The Characteristics of False Spiritual Leaders, Part 1, John MacArthur said,
There have always been and there always will be in this world false spiritual leaders who pretend to represent God, but in fact do not represent God. The Old Testament talks about them, identifies them, and warns people to stay away from them. The New Testament does the same. In fact, Moses was in conflict with them in Egypt. Jeremiah was fighting with them in Judah. Ezekiel faced them and called them foolish prophets that followed their own spirit and have seen nothing. Our Lord warned of them as false Christ's and false prophets who shall show great signs and wonders. The apostle Paul struggled against them as preachers of another gospel in Galatians Chapter 1, and purveyors of the doctrine of demons he called them in writing to Timothy. 
Peter said they were false preachers who secretly bring in damnable heresies and they are like dogs who return to lick up their own vomit. John, the apostle, saw a coming anti-Christ and many anti-christs already present who denied Jesus as the true Christ. Jude saw them and called them deluded dreamers who defile the flesh. And Paul may have summed it up well when he said they are wolves whose desire is to enter in not sparing the flock. They're always present and they're always eager to counterfeit the work of God.
There is a story recorded by many a historical church father all the way through to twentieth century scholars like Henry Wace and Phillip Schaff, about the false teacher Cerinthus, a contemporary of the Apostle John. Here, Phillip Schaff tells it in his momentous book Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers,
But Irenæus, in the first book of his work Against Heresies, gives some more abominable false doctrines of the same man, [Cerinthus] and in the third book relates a story which deserves to be recorded. He says, on the authority of Polycarp, that the apostle John once entered a bath to bathe; but, learning that Cerinthus was within, he sprang from the place and rushed out of the door, for he could not bear to remain under the same roof with him. And he advised those that were with him to do the same, saying, "Let us flee, lest the bath fall; for Cerinthus, the enemy of the truth, is within."
It's a traditional story, not well documented, as Schaff notes,
This story is repeated by Eusebius, in Bk. IV. chap. 14. There is nothing impossible in it. The occurrence fits well the character of John as a "son of thunder," and shows the same spirit exhibited by Polycarp in his encounter with Marcion ... But the story is not very well authenticated, as Irenæus did not himself hear it from Polycarp, but only from others to whom Polycarp had told it. 
Yet, two thousand years later, we still tell it. How different things are in our millennial times. Far from shouting that an enemy of God is present and all must flee lest they die under the tumbling stones of the house in which he enters, credible teachers and pastors partner with them! Rarely are false teachers excoriated from the pulpit by pastors, (or at all) thus transferring the same alarm and discernment to their sheep. Instead, if the false teachers are spoken of at any time, the subject is approached by such pastors and teachers as a deer mincing carefully up to the brook for a sip of water, delicately mentioning in general terms some vague notion that 'False teaching is bad. Thank you for listening.'

Can you imagine the outcry if a teacher or pastor or blogger said, "Let us flee, lest the bath fall in while Beth Moore, the enemy of the truth, is there."

Yet as MacArthur noted above, false teachers have always been a plague and a scourge upon the ministers and saints of the truth. They bring disrepute to the name of Jesus and worse, prevent people from entering the kingdom. In Matthew 23, we read of the devastating effects of their evil work. Jesus said bluntly reserving his worst woes and strident speech for the religious hypocrites,

But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.

This is an incredible statement.

False teachers shut the kingdom of heaven in people's faces.

Let that sink in.

For those people who decry discernment work and refuse to be discerning, speak of discerning things, or mark false teachers for the benefit of others, you are actually participating in helping to shut others out of the kingdom.

In the second sentence, we see that false teachers disallow people to go into the kingdom. This is the first woe repeated in different words. Jesus is stressing the result of false teachers' work. In addition, he confirmed the false teachers (hypocrites') ultimate destination.

Thirdly, false teachers make their students and followers twice as much a child of hell as they were. If you understand compounding interest, you understand that the student will grow up to be a false believer or a false teacher and then turn around and make their students twice the sons of hell they were, which will be...well, let's look at this short definition of negatively compounding interest.
A $1000 investment which loses 50% of its value will need to work twice as hard (i.e. grow 100%) just to get back to it original value. An investment that loses 50% in the first year and 20% in the second year will have to grow 150 % in the third year to recoup its starting value.
And that is only losing half the value. Jesus said the next generation will be twice as bad, not just half as bad. Even if you don't like numbers, you can see what the negative impact of succeeding generations of unaddressed false teachers will have on the overall health of the faith.

Later in his sermon The Characteristics of False Spiritual Leaders, Part 1,  John MacArthur said,
Now in looking at verses 1 to 12, I want to suggest to you that a good way to see this section is to see it as a description of the characteristic of a false spiritual leader. And there are five elements that false spiritual leaders lack and I believe the Lord gives them to us right here. They lack authority, they lack integrity, they lack sympathy, they lack spirituality, and they lack humility.
Go on and read of listen to the sermon, which is part of a series. There is a related series called Exposing False Spiritual Leaders, which is also good. Remember the key verse today, Matthew 23:13,

But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in


It is serious, sisters. Serious. False teachers are not to be coddled, ignored, overlooked, tolerated, or treated non-judgmentally. They attack the sheep, prevent them from entering heaven, and make them children of hell twice as bad as they are.

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Further reading

Challies: 7 False teachers in the Church Today
The history of Christ’s church is inseparable from the history of Satan’s attempts to destroy her. While difficult challenges have arisen from outside the church, the most dangerous have always been from within. For from within arise the false teachers, the peddlers of error who masquerade as teachers of truth. False teachers take on many forms, custom-crafted to times, cultures, and contexts. Here are seven of them you will find carrying out their deceptive, destructive work in the church today. 

Challies: The False Teachers: Arius
This morning I am setting out on a new series of articles that will scan the history of the church—from its earliest days all the way to the present time—and pause to examine some of Christianity’s most notorious false teachers. Along the way we will visit such figures as Pelagius, Servetus, Fosdick, and even a few you might find on television today. We will begin this morning with one of the very first, and certainly one of the most dangerous, false teachers: Arius.

S. Lewis Johnson: Basic Biblical Doctrine, sermon series, read and/or listen. The first sermon,
How Do We Know Spiritual Truth


Saturday, February 18, 2017

Visual Theology: My Sheep Hear My Voice

Another powerful expression of verse through art by Chris Powers. I found this so moving.

Artist's Statement:
I went back a chapter in my John reading to Jesus' discussion of Himself as the Good Shepherd. He talks quite a bit here about His 'shepeople' hearing "His voice," in fact, to hear His "voice" and discern it to be the voice of the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls (1 Peter 2:25) is to prove ourselves to have been one of His own. 
In chapter 10, Jesus' "voice" seems to be most immediately connected to the works that He is doing, works that the Father has given Him to do, works that bear witness to His identity as the Son and revealer of the Father (See especially John 10:24-27). Well--what is His climactic work? What is the ultimate work that Jesus does? The ultimate work that bears witness to His identity? He tells us in 10:17-18, His death and resurrection.

So, I take this to mean that the ultimate place that Jesus' sheep hear "His voice" is at the cross. If we see the crucified and risen Lord and are enabled to discern in His life-laying down, life-taking up work the identity of our Lord and God and Shepherd--then we have heard His voice and are His sheep.... 
John 10:27, "My sheep hear my voice..." 
If we've heard the voice of our Shepherd calling our name in the love of Calvary, we are His sheep.


You can support Chris, even at $1 per month, at Patreon

Friday, February 17, 2017

The great thing about Jesus is...

There are so many great things about Jesus. They are innumerable. Today let's look at two passages, one from the Old Testament and one from the New. God isn't one way in the OT and another in the NT. The two testaments are linked and it is a unified whole. Both Testaments reveal the same God, Son, and Spirit.

In Numbers 6:22-27 we read,

The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them,
The LORD bless you and keep you;
the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.

God told Moses to tell Aaron to bless the Israelite people with His name. What a great, GREAT thing, for the God of the universe to put His name on people! In the New Testament, John 17:12, Jesus is praying the High Priestly prayer,

While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.


God has given to Jesus His name, which in turn Jesus has kept God's people (protected from the world). Giving His name is such a gift. Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible explains,
Keep them through thine own name. That is, [1.] Keep them for thy name’s sake; so some. “Thy name and honour are concerned in their preservation as well as mine, for both will suffer by it if they either revolt or sink.” The Old Testament saints often pleaded, for thy name’s sake; and those may with comfort plead it that are indeed more concerned for the honour of God’s name than for any interest of their own

In the High Priestly Prayer we read that Jesus is the manifestation of God's name, in which he keeps God's people.

I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. (John 17:6).

I know that people are careful with their name. We protect our reputation, and if someone says or does something in our name or impugns our reputation of our name, we become angry. We're protective of our lineage, our family name. Imagine how God feels! His name is the highest name above all names! Yet He gave His name to His Son, to manifest to the people whom He elected, to share, and come under the family name. I'ts one of the reasons our ambassadorship is so precious. The God of all glory shares His glorious name with His Son, who He keeps us in the name, ns in whose name we will be brought home.

God is so great.