Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Ferguson on the Reality of Hell

About a year ago I wrote a post on the Greek word, apollumi, and the reality of hell. In that post I lamented that there was little preaching on the subject and that I was aware of a great sermon by Sinclair Ferguson on the topic...but I couldn't find it.

Well...a year later...I came across a link to that very sermon. It is entitled "Universalism and the Reality of Eternal Punishment: Contemporary Preaching." You can access it here.

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Danger of Decision

My post, "I Have a Peace About It" describes the error of using feelings over Scripture in debates, arguments, and life decisions. There is another serious error that needs to be addressed. I cannot take credit for most of the ideas here and thank Paul Washer for much of this material, as I heard him bring this up in numerous sermons.

The error is that of "decisionism"... relying upon a single "decision" made at some point in our past for our salvation. When, in a moment of serious reflection, we question our salvation, rather than look to First John for ways to "examine ourselves," we look back to a decision and consider that it is all OK...in spite of how we may be living! This is very dangerous...but oh so common today because of the methods used for evangelism that are not rooted in the Bible.

Let's pretend you are a pagan and a Christian engages you in an evangelistic conversation. First he asks you, "You know we're all sinners, right?" If you even slightly nod your head, he moves on to question number 2... "Would you like to go to heaven?" Now, who in their right mind would ever answer "no" to that question?! When you say, "yes," the Christian offers to lead you in a prayer that you can repeat. He then asks if you were serious about what you just repeated. Upon your affirmative answer, he pronounces you "saved" and "born again." (Yes, I know this is a bit simplified, but it is rooted in the truth of how most evangelism is done these days!) Even worse is that this is how it's done with children in Sundays Schools and Vacation Bible Schools all over this country. What little child could not be convinced to repeat a prayer after an adult? And then that same adult pronounces that little child a "Christian".... The thought of that both angers and horrifies me. Now... look at the first two questions. They are nothing but marketing. The pagan isn't the least bit concerned about having offended a holy and righteous God. He doesn't begin to understand the depths of his own depravity or his offense against God. And of course, he wants to go to heaven. Lastly, praying a "sinner's prayer" is akin to saying a magic incantation of some sort. No where in the Bible is a person asked to pray this sort of prayer to be saved.

And we then wonder why so few "saved" people are actually in a church on Sunday! And we then wonder why our country full of "Christians" is racing toward every form of immorality. And we then wonder why our country is heading toward its own demise.

My dear readers, if you are basing your salvation upon a "decision," I beg you to read and reread First John in order to examine yourself to see if you are in the faith. I would then ask that you ensure that your salvation is built upon the rock of repentance (turning from your sin) and belief (trust) in the saving sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. When these words are used, they do not represent a one-time action, but rather a continual repenting and a continual believing. You can't make a one-time decision and then live like the devil and expect to be saved.

I strongly suspect a time is soon coming where "cultural Christianity" is going to be shown for what it is: false. Pressures are already beginning to mount in the Western world that one day will require actual risk and persecution for professing Christ. At that time, those who have only engaged in the cultural Christianity will fall away, and the true church will finally be shown.

May each who reads these words be part of the true church. Amen.

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Latest from Voddie

If you've read much of this blog, you have seen me promote the preaching and writings of Dr. Voddie Baucham, a Southern Baptist preacher and evangelist. Among other things, he spoke at the Desiring God Conference in September of 2006. His recorded presentation to the Texas Southern Baptist Evangelism Conference is one of my favorite sermons of all time. You can find that link here.

He has come out with a new book that just arrived on my doorstep courtesy of Amazon.com. I have to say that what I've read so far has been riveting, convicting, and God-honoring. If what I write on this blog and on my sister blog resonate with you, consider making Family Driven Faith part of your summer reading list this year.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Who's Bad?

This video was just brought to my attention by my daughter...hilarious, yet so very true. All true Christians could stand to contemplate the message a bit.


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

I Have a Peace About It

There is something that has come to my attention lately as I witness Christians arguing for positions or justifying their decisions or their behavior, either verbally or in the blogosphere. I'm sure it isn't new...but it keeps popping up in front of me, and thus I feel constrained to write about it.

What is it?

It is the use of certain cliches as argument. In particular, I hear "I feel God wants me to..." or "I felt led by God to..." or "I prayed and fasted and had a peace about it." These arguments are supposed to be show-stoppers in that they invoke an image of a finite, sinful human being acting upon God's will when making a decision. Because a person has an emotion that validates his choice, he determines that it must be God's will...especially if he has done something spiritual in trying to arrive at that decision...something like praying or fasting. The granddaddy of them all is the third example. This person prayed and fasted (good things that are to be commended), but then made his decision because of an emotion, a peace. And woe be it to the person who challenges their decision, for you are challenging their feelings and emotions...and that is not allowed in today's society. In fact, these types of arguments are not much more than Christian versions of the post-modern argument, "what's true for me isn't necessarily true for you"...because "who are you to say that my feelings are wrong?!"

We desperately need to get back to objective truth!

Let's be real and understand that in most of these cases, the decision was already made and now needed to be justified. If a person is under the stress of making a decision, he will have a peace when the decision is made, simply because the stress is gone and the decision is made. There is no guarantee that peace is from God and is confirmation of a correct decision.

So how should a decision be reached?

The answer is a simple one: Search the Scriptures for the commands, principles, and precepts that apply and then do what God says in His Word! Will you "have a peace about it?" Maybe. In a difficult decision in which the answer causes you to buck societal customs and be separate from the world, you may not have a peace about it. In fact, depending on the amount of persecution you are likely to experience, you may be more worried than before! But, in faithfully following the direction of God through His Word, you will be able to rely upon His grace, His mercy, and His help in getting through whatever hard times may come as a result. Imagine the glory God gets in such decisions and their results! Imagine the closeness you will feel when you are forced to put your entire trust in God! Imagine how much better you will know God! Imagine what the experience will do to your testimony of your faithful Savior!

In short, if you are using feelings to make life-decisions or if you hear someone use these sort of "feeling-based" phrases in an argument, you are very likely misled. Remember, "the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9, ESV). If you have "a peace about it in my heart"...you have no assurance it is from God. On the other hand, if you go just a few verses earlier in Jeremiah, you find "Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is in the Lord" (Jeremiah 17:7, ESV). In the Hebrew, a repeated word or phrase indicates emphasis, like when we use bold or italics. Jeremiah is being very emphatic when he says a man who trusts in the Lord is blessed.

So rather than depending upon feelings which may arise from a deceitful, sick heart, depend upon the Lord who has revealed His will in His Word. Search the Scriptures. Do the hard work. Pray for Scriptural guidance. And then act upon what God says through His Word. In doing so you are trusting in Him...and will be blessed!