May 31, 2012

Martin Luther, the Method and Fruits of Justification

A superb sermon which was brought to my attention by Andy Underhile -
The Method and Fruits of Justification - a sermon by Martin Luther, Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Andy is posting it in parts, but the full sermon can be found here, because I got to the end of part 5 and thought I have to hear the end! I can't wait!


(Note that when he says 'require' or 'necessary' he is speaking in the philosophical sense, as in - "it naturally follows" or "it is by definition." Luther is not using these words in a "law" or imperative sense - as if you ARE required to do something to ensure you are saved or to maintain yourself in a state of justification before God.)

Kirk Cameron Planning Top Secret New Movie

Kirk recently released Monumental, which has gotten mixed reviews from all sides. I know I was not happy with the way he has promoted it, as if the secret to fixing our country is found in a statue and in becoming more moral people.  This is a theology of glory.

Now he's working on another one:
Kirk Cameron Keeps New Movie a Mystery; 'Super Secret' Trailer Promised to Subscribers

It's really sad that Kirk Cameron hasn't learned from the REAL mistakes of Promise Keepers  (hint - it's not what PK says the mistakes were) and is basically producing his own film-form spin-off.  We've seen the Keaton brothers doing the same thing.  The White Horse Inn published a decent critique of Courageous here:
Courageous Christianity? - White Horse Inn Blog

May 30, 2012

Promise Keepers... They're BAAAACK!
This is the video that is linked on their site's main page:
Promise Keepers is Back -- Looking Forward

1:50 "The frequently asked question, what happened to Promise Keepers, what happened to the stadiums that were bristling with men? I really don't believe that Promise Keepers got off track. I believe that Promise Keepers has always done what it was called to do. However, when Coach and I came back to Promise Keepers in 2008, we said we've got to expand our audience, we've got to go after women, we've got to go after young adults, and we did that... only to discover that was a mistake. The Promise Keepers brand, the Promise Keepers anointing is for ministry to men. That's what God's called Promise Keepers to do. We've now recognized that was not the right thing to do. So when I say we're back, we're back to focusing on Ministry to MEN. That's what Promise Keepers has been, that's what Promise Keepers is gonna be about."
Really? THAT is what you did wrong? Here I thought it was the sinfully ecumenical unsound doctrine you were promoting and partnering with, and the constant hammering of law law law with no real gospel. Silly me.

This ties in very closely to the problems with the movie (moving though it was, I admit myself...) of Courageous, which was written about quite well here (emphases mine):

Courageous Christianity? On the White Horse Inn blog

May 25, 2012

Can You Elevate Doctrine Over The Spirit?

Cripplegate has a great article written in response to a sermon preached by Mark Driscoll:

Driscoll vs. Calvin, Doctrine vs. the Spirit
‎"Inspired by the Spirit, Peter wrote, “knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet 1:20-21). So then, to say, “Don’t elevate doctrine above the Holy Spirit,” is equivalent to, “Don’t elevate what the Holy Spirit has said over what he has said.” Doctrine is the knowledge of the who and what of God from the Spirit-spoken word, which is why the distinction is non-existent. As John Calvin wrote (whom Sinclair Fergusson has said was the “theologian of the Holy Spirit”), “Scripture is the school of the Holy Spirit, in which as nothing useful and necessary to be known has been omitted, so nothing is taught but what it is of importance to know” (Institutes 3.21.3). Because of the Spirit’s work, both in inspiration of the canon and illumination of the believer, doctrine vs. the Spirit is a false dichotomy."
read more at Cripplegate

May 24, 2012

Christian and Missionary Alliance church given back to its congregation (Paramus, NJ)

Sorry this is a little bit old, and an update on this story:

Christian & Missionary Alliance church members fighting back
World Net Daily reported that a judge has given the church building back to the congregation at Paramus NJ.  Thank the Lord!

Judge Puts Congregation Back In Own Church
Halts 'eviction' that would turn property over to conference

“We were informed that the district was going to shut us down,” Smaha told WND.

The reason?

“He told us that we were too small.”

.... The eviction order then became effective Jan. 1.

When it obtained possession of the building, the C&MA turned it over to a Korean congregation of about 20 members, while the Community Church members, estimated at 70 at this point, were told to find another location. Smaha told WND today that the church members now have “no intention of evicting the Korean church now that we are moving back into our building.”

“I’ve already extended the invitation for his congregation to continue meeting in our building, and we’ll work around schedules as best as we can,” he said.

“My mom always said, ‘two wrongs don’t make a right,’ and I don’t think it would be right to do to them what the CMA did to us,” Smaha told WND.

The Korean church pastor, Cliff Chung, was grateful.

“That is so very kind and generous of them,” he said. “We are truly brothers and sisters in Christ, and we are so appreciative of their welcoming spirit.”


The court's decision is not final, and there is more ahead. I appreciate this paragraph:
“I pray, and ask others to join us in this prayer, that the Christian & Missionary Alliance will simply have a change of heart and drop their claim to our building,” Smaha told WND. “Either that, or I pray that we’ll make solid, legal precedent so that they can’t continue treating church congregations this way.”

The denomination could not be reached tonight for comment.

Doin' time (Humor from Truthinator)

Truthinator has some good satire today: Doin' time:
Man: So, why are you here?
Lady: I sang a real hymn in church, not one of those remade in the Emergent style du jour. You?
Man: I’m an independent blogger who dared post an opinion without the approval of the evangelical media police…

 See more at Truthinator

May 15, 2012

Fourth Church KICKED OUT of Harvest Bible Fellowship

Boy the stories about punitive pastors are just multiplying! Surely this is what Jesus meant when he said "it shall not be so among you." Blood Stained Ink reports that there has been another church leaving Harvest Bible Fellowship over the Elephant Room and related controversies. Only they didn't do it voluntarily. They were unceremoniously dumped.
“… There is hope amidst the suffering. Loved ones, we have hope. And for our church, as I am studying the passage, I am amazed at the pertinence of God’s Word. Can I just tell you that? I am amazed that God sees what we are going through, and a year in advance knew that we would be in this passage. And with the suffering that we are going through as a church – if you were here last week, you heard about the sufferings that our church is enduring. That we have a sign out there that says: “Harvest Bible Chapel.” And did you know that we are no longer a Harvest Bible Chapel? Because our denomination decided they wanted to kick us out. And why did they want to kick us out? Because they wanted to choose to embrace, to invite and affirm somebody who teaches false doctrines about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and about the Trinity. And so because of that loved ones, I don’t know about you, but I’m perplexed right now at this situation. I’m confused. I’m discouraged. And I’m grieving over this.
read more at Fourth Church “Kicked Out” from Fellowship via “Catapult?” at Blood Stained Ink Praise God for the courage of the leadership there! May God raise up more men like that!

Phil Johnson Responds for John MacArthur and Grace Community Church regarding Chuck O'Neal and Beaverton "Grace" Bible Church

The Wartburg Watch has published Phil Johnson's official statement for Grace To You:
Phil Johnson Responds for John MacArthur and Grace Community Church
"In a story currently circulating on the Internet, a claim is being made that the elders of Grace Community Church (John MacArthur, Pastor) advised a church in another state to file a defamation lawsuit against a former member.

For the record, we would not approve of such a lawsuit, for multiple reasons.

'First, Scripture expressly teaches that it is better to be defrauded than to take a fellow Christian to court: "Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous and not before the saints? . . . It is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded?" (1 Corinthians 6:7). Here is what John MacArthur says about that passage:

Christians who take fellow Christians to court lose spiritually before the case is heard. The fact that they have lawsuits at all is a sign of moral and spiritual defeat (hettema, a word used of defeat in court). A believer who takes a fellow believer to court for any reason always loses the case in God's sight. He has already suffered a spiritual defeat. He is selfish, and he discredits the power, wisdom, and work of God, when he tries to get what he wants through the judgment of unbelievers.

The right attitude of a Christian is to rather be wronged, to rather be defrauded, than to sue a fellow Christian. It is far better to lose financially than to lose spiritually. Even when we are clearly in the legal right, we do not have the moral and spiritual right to insist on our legal right in a public court. . . .

. . . If we cannot convince the brother to make things right, and if he will not listen to fellow believers, we are better off to suffer the loss or the injustice than to bring a lawsuit against him. "Do not resist him who is evil," Jesus commanded, "but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone wants to sue you, and take your shirt, let him have your coat also" (Matt. 5:39-40). Contrary to the world's standard, it is better to be sued and lose than to sue and win. Spiritually, it is impossible for a Christian to sue and win. When we are deprived wrongfully we are to cast ourselves on the care of God, who is able to work that for our good and His glory. [The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: 1 Corinthians (Chicago: Moody, 1984), 139-40.]

Second, Jesus was very clear about what Christians should do even when we are vilified by unbelievers: "Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad" (Matthew 5:11-12). "Do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also" (vv. 39-40).'

That is our official position, and it is not merely theoretical. Having been at times targets of malicious slander in various gossip-forums on the Internet, we do appreciate the frustration of dealing with relentless character assassination.

But the example we were given to follow by Christ Himself deals with exactly such situations: "While being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously" (1 Peter 2:23)."

Phil Johnson - Elder, Grace Community Church
In light of that, this order of events as told by Julie is interesting:
Feb 25 - Chuck posts review saying he is suing us
Feb 29 - talked with pastor of the day from GCC
Mar 1 - Received subpoena
Mar 5 or 6 - Bill Shannon phoned me to ask questions
Mar 9 - Bill Shannon told me he can no longer help in our situation after meeting with Chuck
Will Bill Shannon publicly recant for overstepping his authority and dragging their church into this mess?

Beaverton "Grace" (cough cough) Bible Church sues its critics, Claims John Macarthur's ministry told them to do it.

This is almost as good as Perry Noble's henchmen harassing James Duncan for criticizing Noble. At least Noble's henchmen had the sense to realize they couldn't do anything LEGALLY to these people. Doh! Can you believe they have the blasphemous nerve to put "grace" in their church name? Oregon church sues ex-members for defamation over blog criticizing church’s practices
Thou shalt not bad-mouth your former church on the Internet. That’s the message a pastor in Oregon is apparently championing in a lawsuit against former members of th Beaverton Grace Bible Church, claiming their statements online amount to defamation — equivalent to $500,000 in damages, according to reports. Church pastor Charles O’Neal filed the suit March 1, citing words such as “creepy,” “cult,” and “spiritual abuse” as defaming his house of worship outside Portland, said local TV station KGW. The suit sets up a May 21 hearing with freedom of speech at the forefront. “It would be extremely difficult to determine that wording or posting caused that tremendous $500,000 worth of damage,” Linda Williams, an attorney for defendant Julie Anne Smith, told KGW. “It just didn’t.”
I hope they ask for the church to pay for the court costs. This kind of thing would never, or rarely, happen in a loser-pay court system. Though I am sure there are also abuses in that sort of system. Here is the poor lady's blog. I am heartened to see the support she is getting. Praise God there are some people with sense in this world yet. I enjoyed this comment on the NY Daily News site:
bronkowitzsamuell 07:56 AM
May 14, 2012
Jim Jones used to shut his critics up with the threat of lawsuits. I'm not saying that this church has a Jim Jones in it, of course, but.... you have to wonder, don't you?
:-) Even Westboro Baptist isn't so foolish as to sue their critics. Who woulda thunk they weren't the bottom of the barrel as far as legalism goes?  I guess Mark Driscoll's legalism is infectious in the Northwest.  But so far as I know Mark hasn't sued anyone... yet.

As I commented on Julie Smith's blog, "cult like" is the kindest description I can come up with for this pastor. So sue me. Here's a Screen Shot of the pastor's "review" of his own church, counter-"defaming" Julie-Anne:

Elsewhere on google reviews he claimed a pastor on staff at John Macarthur's ministry told him to, but he seems to have removed it. This is what has been widely circulated around as his words, and she posts about it here:
Pastor Chuck wrote:

DEFAMATION IS A CRIME: Pastor Chuck O’ Neal, his wife, his children, and Beaverton Grace Bible Church as a whole, have suffered JulieAnne’s hateful lying slander for well over three years. After seeking counsel from a pastor on staff with Grace Community Church (under Pastor John MacArthur) and reading him several excerpts from JulieAnne’s endless defamation, he recommended that we FILE A LAWSUIT in an appeal to Ceasar as the Apostle Paul did when falsely accused of crimes against God and the state. The lawsuit has been filed in the Washington County courthouse.
FBC Jax is talking about it and this comment by one Keith Farmer was rather disconcerting:
Keith Farmer said... I received correspondence back from a member of the GTY team regarding this issue. It is sad that the Church is publicly embarrassed by such acts. I do not wish to divulge what the GTY staffer wrote to me but I am disappointed in the response. Praying for all involved... May 15, 2012 9:35 AM
More details at The Wartburg Watch here: Pastor Makes International News by Suing Blogging Critic-Is John MacArthur’s Church Involved? Also in this post's comment thread, Phil Johnson offered her an official statement by the ministry.
Phil Johnson on Mon, May 14 2012 at 09:53 pm

I just learned about this story for the first time at noon today. I couldn’t locate your e-mail address, bit if you’ll e-mail me, I’ll send you an official statement from Grace Church and John MacArthur that you can publish. If you want to talk further by phone, I’ll tell you what I learned about this situation this afternoon. I’ll give you my cell # by e-mail.
I am still trying to locate such a statement.

May 3, 2012

Tullian Tchividjian on Sanctification (Midweek at Coral Ridge April 25, 2012)

(note 6-22-2015): I have since come to the conviction that even though I don't believe all the critiques of Tullian are fair, they do have some good points. Tullian's message has been going off the rails for a while and his associations and messages are getting more vague.  He seems to have gone from assuming the gospel to assuming the law.)

original post:

Midweek|FAQ: Part 9|Pastor Tullian "What Is Sanctification?"

This was just so good. I have been so blessed listening to Tullian Tchividjian lately. He admits his focus has changed in the last few years, as he used to be a bit more focused on law-based sanctification. A change for the better.

Some excerpts as he explains that justification and Sanctification are distinct ideas that are inseparably linked. Sanctification follows justification by necessity. He says: ‎
"...if you are in Christ, if you are justified, Sanctification IS BEING DONE TO YOU whether you feel it or not. Even if you are in a season of sin right now. It is being done to you, somehow, some way..."

"The only way sanctification happens is if we continually revisit your justification - when we go back to what Jesus has done."

"The goal is love, the benefit is freedom. It's something God is doing IN us, FOR us, he's ALWAYS doing it, he'll never stop doing it, he's sanctifying you and me right now. Sanctification is getting used to your justification. It's continually revisiting the truth of justification. We become increasingly sanctified as we focus on what Jesus has done, not on what we must do and that is why I talk so much about justification, because I want you to be sanctified!"

"My goal as I preach, as I teach, as I write, is to so talk about Christ's finished work, that by God's grace, love will begin to develop in your heart as you contemplate his unconditional love for you. ... when you are at your worst God is still giving you his best. ... when you begin, just BEGIN to believe that, when you ACTUALLY begin to believe that, that even when I am at my worst, God is still, in Christ, giving me his best,... his love for me is never ever wavering, it's not conditioned on how I'm doing. It's not conditioned on what I'm accomplishing or achieving. It's not conditioned on how stable your home life is, or what a good guy you are, or what a faithful wife you are. ... It's conditioned solely on what Jesus has done for you. "
"That's my hope for you and for me, is that we become increasingly sanctified. That we grow increasingly holy. And that happens only as we fix our eyes not on our holiness or lack thereof, but on Christ's holiness and who he is."
watch the video at:
Midweek|FAQ: Part 9|Pastor Tullian "What Is Sanctification?"

or on Vimeo