Monday, November 30, 2009

My Plea To Pastors About Rob Bell (Part 2)

Well it would seem that Ron Dawson, who I spoke about yesterday, is still confused about some things. He has made another lengthy response to yesterdays post (it's in the comments section). As a professing Christian, Ron still doesn't think that itsy bitsy issue of Rob Bell being a universalist is worth splitting hairs over. Ron, I will remind you again that Paul clearly said:

But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:8-9)

Furthermore he stated:

Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. (Romans 16:17)

Now Ron, please explain how universalism fails to qualify as another gospel?

In Rob Bell's own words:

So this reality, this forgiveness, this reconciliation, is true for everybody. Paul insisted that when Jesus died on the cross he was reconciling ‘all things, in heaven and on earth, to God. This reality then isn’t something we make true about ourselves by doing something. It is already true. Our choice is to live in this new reality or cling to a reality of our own making. (Velvet Elvis p146, emphasis mine)

If everybody is already reconciled to God why were we given the ministry of reconciliation? There are so many things you are confused about. You said that Rob Bell doesn't focus on repentance. Dude - he never talks about it . . . except for when he completely redefines the meaning to something about celebration. Find that meaning of repentance for me Ron? You yourself said that repentance is necessary in order to be saved. You also said that thousands of people are coming to Christ through Rob's teaching. Yet Rob never calls people to repentance. You continually refute yourself. This is just straight orthodoxy Ron. Jesus Himself warned in Luke 13 that "unless you repent you will perish". Sounds a little too much like a Bullhorn guy doesn't it? Paul made it clear that verbal communication of the Gospel message is God's means for bringing people to Christ:

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" (Romans 10:14-15)

Where does Paul say that "you are the gospel" or "how shall they see unless you live in the way of Jesus". No - it is verbal, how shall they hear! Yes, we should be salt and light in this evil world as an outward sign of the Spirit's inner work but don't confuse that with preaching the Gospel. This is all a very big deal which is why I am taking the time to try and reason with you about this. I am concerned for you Ron - really! I need to be provocative and jarring to your senses because they have been dulled to the point where you think Rob Bell and I preach the same gospel in different ways. Please wake up!

You also claim that Rob Bell's Bullhorn video is not a caricature. C'mon Ron! He's hired an actor to portray an open-air preacher in a very pathetic light. Yes, there are bad open air preachers out there, but I've never met an open air guy like this (and I've met a lot).



You're telling me that is not a caricature. A nerdy guy making gospel tracts during his work time? If you watch the whole video you see this guy is forgetful, doesn't talk to people around him, and is quite repulsive to everyone in his path. Notice also that all of Rob's criticisms are accusations of the open air preacher saying things that are true including calling people to repentance. You'll also hear that his whole basis for rejecting the validity of open air preaching is pragmatism ie nobody was listening. Pragmatism is not a grounds for rejecting open air preaching (think about Noah 120 years of preaching and noone repented), and even if pragmatism was a legitimate grounds, I can tell you countless stories of drawing hundreds of people to hear the gospel who would never enter a church building. I have seen the subjects of sin, righteousness, and judgment hold the undivided attention of sailors out for a night on the town.

And then Rob caps it all off by saying that he wants to talk to the bullhorn guys - well he doesn't. None of the bullhorn guys can seem to get in touch with him. So he cariciatures them, mocks them for preaching the truth, markets the video, won't respond to the questions of the people he ridicules, and makes money out of the whole thing, all the while making life harder for the those faithful laborers out there preaching in the public square.

It might be lengthy but I think this TV interview with two bullhorn guys will respond to all of Ron's objections and typcasting regarding open air preaching. Ron, please watch this through before writing another comment . . .



Ron, you said you are not a theologian. That is not true. Everyone is a theologian - the question is whether they're a good one or a bad one.

Go On To Part 3
Go Back To Part 1

My Plea To Pastors About Rob Bell (Part 1)

I really do believe that there are far better things to talk about than emergent guru extraordinairre Rob Bell. I just don't understand why he is the sacred cow that postmodern groupies defend to the hilt, and the prominent teacher I get more questions about than everybody else put together. Perhaps it is his contagious and captivating style of communication. Perhaps it is all the smoke and mirrors that comes with the theology he conveys. Perhaps it is his Yoda like ponderings that sound so deep and profound even though we don't quite know what he's talking about. Whatever it is, by persistent questioning (from both sides) and my continual frustration with the confusing world of postmodernism (where wrong is right and right is left), I have been persuaded that further discussion is warranted.

But could Bell really be as bad as his critics suggest? How could a man accused of so much false teaching and heresy sneak under the radar of the wider Christian public? I have certainly been very forthright in my criticism of Rob Bell on this blog. You'd think enough has been said but this week I really got pushed over the edge by the madness that is postmodernism. In the good old days a debate involved contention over opposing views. But in the mad world of postmodernism it seems that the greater problem than disagreement is when the postmodernist agrees with two conflicting views that logically contradict each other.

There were two straws that broke this camel's back in the last week. Firstly, I was made aware of some recent correspondence of a friend of mine concerning Rob Bell. My friend, David, who I treasure as a brother, is an academically trained pastor with a sharp apologetic brain. But to my absolute amazement he wrote these two statements:

1. Bell has, however, “baptized certain prevailing cultural values and call[ed] them good” in silencing the Bible’s challenge to aberrant sexual expression, claiming that God is not angry over our sin, suggesting that Christ’s atonement was only subjectively necessary, and advocating a form of universalism in which all are forgiven though some simply fail to live accordingly.

2. . . . the vast majority of his teaching is orthodox, and it isn't becoming of Christians to malign a brother . . .

Can someone please join the dots on that for me? How exactly does "suggesting that Christ’s atonement was only subjectively necessary and advocating a form of universalism in which all are forgiven" make someone a Christian "brother". If you are a pastor, elder, youth leader, or any other form of active Christian voice - PLEASE, I BEG YOU, PROTECT YOUR SHEEP. Shepherds are called to feed sheep and protect them from wolves. Both of these are violated when the sheep are fed on the doctrine of wolves. The idea of eating the fish and spitting out the bones just doesn't cut it with an undiscerning flock. I don't teach my two year old son how to handle snakes - I teach him to avoid them at all costs. The same should apply to your congregation.

The other straw that broke this camel's back was my "dialogue" with a man called Ron Dawson - a defender of Rob Bell. I will give a more extensive response to Ron in later posts but, for now, my concern lies with his self contradictory statements concerning the Gospel.

I have a video on youtube called Rob Bell Exposed where I respond to some of Bell's false teaching on one of his Nooma videos called Dust. In the comments section for this video Ron wrote:

I think the problem is that you cannot deny Rob's very positive influence on the growth of God's church. Thousands have come to know and love Christ b/c of Noomas. I don't doubt there are holes or mistakes in some of Rob's [theology]. But, when you look at the body of his work. When you look at the fruit of his labor, what do you see? I think the fruit of his work suggests that his is someone who earnestly wants to preach the love and redeeming power of Christ . . . I seriously doubt the thousands of people converted b/c of Nooma are all following some false messiah. Let's be real here. :-)

Since Ron thinks that people can come to Christ by virtue of Bell's gospel I asked him to define the Christian Gospel in his own words. Ron wrote:

God loved us immensely. Came to earth in form of a man (still wholly God, but wholly man), and died a terrible death as a price for all sin. By His power he defeated death and rose again. He offers all who would repent and believe on Him and His resurrection an everlasting life. ~ Also, that He calls us to love Him with mind, heart, body, and soul, and our neighbors as ourselves.

This explanation does have some shortcomings and an element of works (I will elaborate on that in a later post). But what is clear is that Ron and Rob have a fundamental difference concerning the need to repent. Earlier, we heard David concede that Bell is a universalist which explains Bell's failure to preach repentance. Ron, on the other hand, says repentance is necessary.

I then pointed out to Ron that he and Bell clearly preach/believe different gospels and the Apostle Paul says that:

But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed (Galatians 1:8-9).

But since then, Ron has continued in his persistant defence of Bell failing to see that his claims of thousands coming to Christ through Bell's teaching is a self refutation of his own understanding of the Gospel. They believe different gospels on the fundamental point of repentance and Bell's universalist view, that everybody is saved.

Ron Ron Ron, please come out of the postmodern fog and stand for something. If Bell is leading thousands to Christ then renounce your own version of the gospel. Or, conversely, if you have a right understanding then Rob Bell must be a heretic. Which one is it? No hazy postmodern answers allowed.

I also asked Ron to back his assertion that Bell is leading people to Christ by finding one solitary orthodox presentation of the Christian Gospel by Rob Bell in writing, audio, or video. As with all the other Rob Bell defenders that I have requested this information from for the last two years - NOTHING has been forthcoming, not from any of his books, teaching, or sermon archives.

Please hear my plea if you are reading this. This is not small talk here. This concerns the very Gospel by which men must be saved. We cannot afford to get it wrong. Please stay away from anyone who preaches a false gospel - even if they have some good ideas. After all, even a broken clock gets it right twice a day.

Go On To Part 2

Friday, November 27, 2009

Gospel Preaching At A Wedding Reception

Have you ever been to a wedding where the vows fall way short of God's design and plan? Have you been to a wedding where the pastor/priest preached a message that loaded with sentimental humanistic fluff and lacking in biblical meat. Well in Denmark I have quickly learnt that this is the norm - even for weddings of professing Christians. Rampant feminism and fornication have been allowed to impose themselves on local churches to the point where weddings have become a massive disservice to Christ and His sacrificial love for the Church.

Well the last wedding I attended was the final straw - how about I take some action as a Christian? We are not called to be passive bystanders in life! After receiving a recent wedding invitation I knew exactly what to expect. But this time I was ahead of the game and approached the bride and groom several weeks in advance to see if they would allow me to deliver a short message on marriage at the wedding reception. Out of courtesy I gave them a transcript of the message so they knew what was coming.

My recent three part series on God's design in marriage (part 1, part 2, part 3) was based on this 13 minute message that you can now view on the youtube videos below. It was a great opportunity to present the Gospel, as it relates to marriage. There was a predominantly large crowd of non-believers present. If you listen carefully you might be able to hear the sound of feminists gnashing their teeth . . .





I want to encourage you to be proactive and seize opportunities like this to preach the Gospel to large groups of people. It can be done, and done to the glory of God. If you are attending a wedding soon you can do the same and you are most welcome to use the transcript from this message. Whatever you do . . . don't be silent!

Coming Monday - In response to all the questions it's time to talk more about Rob Bell. This sacred cow just won't die on us!!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Days Of Noah (Part 6)

Continued from Monday . . .

Jesus said in Matthew 24 that it would be like the days of Noah when He returns. Today we conclude this series, with the fifth and final lesson, about what we learn from the days of Noah, as we approach the day of Christ's return and judgment.

LESSON 5 - GOD PROVIDES A WAY TO SAVE WICKED PEOPLE

Could the ark hold all the animals?

It is a sad fact that sunday school lessons and pictures perpetuate the idea of a fairy tale via the cartoon like pictures of an old man in an oversized bathtub with an elephant bulging over the sides and a giraffe poking his head out through the roof. The picture above gives a more realistic idea of the dimensions and awesome size of the ark Noah spent over a century building. I don't think the greenies of Noah's day would have been too pleased with Noah's carbon footprint. We're talking a lot of old growth forest for building that hulking vessel.

We need to remember that the animals came after their kind. So you didn’t need 2 poodles, 2 bassett hounds, 2 great danes etc. Just 2 dogs. What about the dinosaurs? Yes it would have had dinosaurs onboard. Based on a worst case scenario it would have needed to hold 45000 animals at an average size of a sheep. That would take 190 railway cars. Well guess what - the ark was as big as 520 railway cars. Even with food it would have used another 150 railway cars. That leaves another 180 railway cars. What do you think all that space was for? Why do you think Noah was preaching for 120 years? I believe God provided plenty of space for people to repent and come onto the ark (source Answers In Genesis).

God has provided an ark for the wicked generation of today. An ark for repentant sinners to flee into before the great and terrible day of God's judgment. Don't be deceived by the ease and comfort of western life in the 21st century. That's just how it was in Noah's day and the flood was upon them before they even realized. And be warned - something worse than a flood is coming . . .

Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?" (Revelation 6:15-17)

This ark God has provided for us has a Name. It is the Name above all names, the Name that shall cause every knee to bow and tongue confess His Lordship - His Name is Jesus Christ. The first ark may have cost a lot of wood but the new Ark cost Jesus His precious blood. God made a way in spite of our rebellion against him. Many people ask why a loving God sends people to hell when they should be asking how God can save anybody without violating His character and nature. The answer lies in the Penal Substitutionary Atonement of Jesus Christ. It was more than the corrupt Jewish judges, or the savagery of the Roman executioners, or the schemes of Satan that caused Jesus' primary suffering on the cross. It was the cup of God's wrath against the endless mass of human sin that Christ drank in full on that cross at Calvary.

Did you ever wake up in the morning and wonder “where did all the stars go?” Did they all just disappear? No – but we only ever see them shining in their glory against the background of a dark night sky. And the cross of Jesus Christ shines in its glory against the dark background of our sin against Him. It was only when God helped me to see the awful darkness of my sin against Him that I could start to see the depth of His love for me in sending Jesus Christ.

Gaze into the mirror of God's law and see your need for Christ while there is still time to repent. Flee into the Lord Jesus Christ trusting Him alone for pardon from sin, His righteousness credited to your account, and salvation from the wrath to come.

God has appointed Noah’s for the people of today – us, to be preachers of righteousness! The kindness of God in saving wicked sinners like us should be the fuel that drives us to preach like Noah for the rest of our lives – even if no one repents – because God’s Name must be glorified. And guess what – I actually believe He might save people in this fallen evil world – He saved me!

Go Back To Part 5
Go Back To Part 1

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Days Of Noah (Part 5)

Continued from Wednesday . . .

Jesus said in Matthew 24 that it would be like the days of Noah when He returns. Today we continue on this series with the fourth lesson, of five important lessons, on what we learn from the days of Noah as we approach the day of Christ's return and judgment.

LESSON 4 - WE THINK OF NOAH AS A BOAT BUILDER BUT GOD CALLED HIM A PREACHER OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly (2 Peter 2:5)

We must be preachers of righteousness to the evil world around us. It is sad to say that many modern preachers have made the Gospel about happiness instead of righteousness. But our greatest need is righteousness because of our unrighteousness and we must see our unrighteousness in order to hunger and thirst after the righteousness found only in Christ. That is why we must proclaim God’s Holiness and His law before we talk about Christ and the cross.

Did you ever wake up in the morning and wonder “where did all the stars go?” Did they all just disappear? No – but we only ever see them shining in their glory against the background of a dark night sky. And the cross of Jesus Christ shines in its glory against the dark background of our sin against Him – and it was only when God helped me to see the awful darkness of my sin against Him that I could start to see the depth of His love for me in sending Jesus Christ. We must be preachers of righteousness.

Noah preached righteousness for 120 years to a wicked and perverse world and no one repented. Was there a problem with Noah’s preaching? Poor Noah, maybe no one got into the boat because he didn’t have the Prayer of Jabez or wasn't teaching the Purpose Driven Life. Poor Noah must have been living his worst life then. No No No, Noah was a great preacher because he was faithful in the message he was called to preach. We must measure the success and health of our churches and as individuals by our faithfulness to the Gospel God told us to preach. It is God Who converts people. God was glorified in Noah’s day by judging the world that refused to respond to Noah’s preaching. God will be glorified, if we proclaim the Gospel, either in saving wicked sinners like us, or in judging our society for not repenting. But we have no choice – we must preach and be faithful in our preaching.

To be concluded on Wednesday: Lesson 5 - God Provides a Way to Save Wicked People.

Go On To Part 6
Go Back To Part 4
Go Back To Part 1

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Days Of Noah (Part 4)

Continued from Wednesday . . .

Jesus said in Matthew 24 that it would be like the days of Noah when He returns. Today we continue on this series with the third lesson, of five important lessons, on what we learn from the days of Noah as we approach the day of Christ's return and judgment.

LESSON 3 - DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE WICKEDNESS OF MANKIND

God described the days of Noah, prior to the flood, as a time when:

The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (Genesis 6:5)

Has anything changed? The Apostle Paul gives a resounding No:

As it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one. Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive. The venom of asps is under their lips. Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes." (Romans 3:10-18)

But could Jesus say something like that? Yes He did just after John 3:16 in fact:

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. (John 3:17-20)

When witnessing to atheists, I always find that all their intellectual reasons for not believing in God are a fa├žade for the fact that they love their sin. That is why we should preach the law of God prior to preaching grace, because the problem with our lost friends is never a matter of knowledge but always one of morality. We should not be surprised that God instructed Israel to wipe out entire nations. Especially when we consider that not one single person would repent in 120 years of Noah’s preaching. What should surprise us is that God doesn’t destroy everybody right now. That is the right question to ask.

Do our lost friends hate God? Yes – but so did we!
Do our lost friends love sin? Yes – but so did we!
Do our lost friends deserve hell? Yes – but so did we!

We should preach because we remember where we came from, and what Christ has done, that He may receive the reward of His suffering. We can take no credit – it is only by God's grace and so it was with Noah . . .

But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God. (Genesis 6:8-9)

And it is important to know that Noah’s righteousness was the same as New Testament righteousness – only by faith:

By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith. (Hebrews 11:7)

Noah, just like New Testament Christians, was saved by faith. Not of works, so no man can boast. In fact when all our works are laid before the righteousness of God, we will be exposed for the miserable wicked wretches that we are . . . unless we have the imputed righteousness of Christ as our substitute. So the next time someone asks you how a loving God can send people to hell or how does a good God allow evil - tell them that they're asking the wrong question . . . just like Voddie Baucham did!



To be continued on Monday: Lesson 4 - We Think of Noah as a Boat Builder But God Called Him a Preacher of Righteousness.

Go On To Part 5
Go Back To Part 3
Go Back To Part 1

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Days Of Noah (Part 3)

Continued from Monday . . .

Jesus said in Matthew 24 that it would be like the days of Noah when He returns. Today we continue on this series with the second lesson, of five important lessons, on what we learn from the days of Noah as we approach the day of Christ's return and judgment.

LESSON 2 - GOD'S GREAT MERCY HAS A LIMIT

Methuselah teaches us three powerful lessons about God. First that His mercy is very great, secondly that God ALWAYS keeps His word no matter how long it takes, and thirdly that His great mercy has a limit. Methuselah’s name seemed to have great prophetic meaning that something terrible would happen when he died.

Let’s do some math to see a little diamond hidden in Scripture:
(Genesis 5:25) Methuselah had a son called Lamech when he was 187 years old. (Genesis 5:28) Lamech had a son called Noah when he was 182 years old. (Genesis 7:6) The flood came when Noah was 600 years old. Therefore the flood came (187 + 182 + 600 =)969 years after Methuselah's birth.

So how old was Methuselah when he died? Genesis 5:27 reveals that Methuselah lived to be 969 years old. Wow! He died the year the flood came and he was the oldest man who ever lived. Methuselah’s death did bring disaster. But God’s great mercy was demonstrated by allowing Methuselah to live longer than anyone else in history. This was in order to delay His wrath, giving people time to repent. But when God’s wrath came – it was devastating!

Jesus warned us that something much worse than the flood is coming. He was true to His word with the flood and he will be true to His word with the coming judgment – something so horrific that the book of Revelation describes it:

Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?" (Revelation 6:15-17)

When we consider the evil around us and how bad the coming judgment will be we should be amazed at the mercy of God. That He gave us time to repent . . . and that He has given us time to preach the Gospel.

To be continued on Friday: Lesson 3 - Do Not Underestimate The Wickedness Of Man

Go On To Part 4
Go Back To Part 2
Go Back To Part 1

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Days Of Noah (Part 2)

Continued from Wednesday . . .

Jesus said in Matthew 24 that it would be like the days of Noah when He returns. Today we continue on this series starting with the first of five important lessons we can learn from the days of Noah as we approach the day of Christ's return and judgment.

LESSON 1 - JUDGMENT IS COMING

Let’s start three generations before Noah at Genesis 5:21 where we’ll find the answer to the riddle which I posed at the end of last wednesday's post - the oldest man who ever lived died before his father.

When Enoch had lived 65 years, he fathered Methuselah. Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years. Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him. (Genesis 5:21-24)

Something happened with Enoch when Methuselah was born. Methuselah was the oldest man who ever lived but he died before his father because Enoch never died. God took Enoch whilst still alive - possibly in the same way that He took Elijah. We know so little about Enoch and I’d love to know so much more. But all God thought necessary for us to know was that Enoch walked with God for 300 years after the birth of Methuselah.

The New Testament also reveals these little windows of information about Enoch:

By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. (Hebrews 11:5)

It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, "Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones" (Jude 1:14)


So we know that Enoch was a changed and transformed man after Methuselah's birth. At 65 years of age, and from then on, Enoch walked with God as a prophet among a wicked and perverse society (which will be discussed in part 4). The name Methuselah seems to carry the meaning “his death shall bring” (according to scholars including Dr. Henry Morris). It seems to be that God grabbed Enoch’s attention that judgment was coming – the great flood - and Enoch was a changed man from that day on.

Jesus also warns us that just as the flood came when no one was ready, His day of judgment is coming too and it will hit us before we know it! Like Enoch, we must feed off that revelation. By the Holy Spirit, it must fuel our preaching to continually warn of the coming judgment on a society that continually spirals downward in the pursuit of carnal pleasure that is grievously offensive to God - much like they did in the days of Noah!

To be continued on Wednesday: Lesson 2 - God's Great Mercy Has A Limit



Go On To Part 3
Go Back To Part 1

Friday, November 13, 2009

Rob Bell Exposed - Coming Soon

Due to my only form of internet access being my wife's iPhone, I have had to postpone the second installment of my series "The Days Of Noah" until Monday. I am sorry for breaking my word and hope that you can understand. Have you solved Wednesday's riddle? All will be revealed on Monday!

But I did think it would be a good idea to take the opportunity to respond to the many questions and comments I receive regarding heretic extraordinaire Rob Bell. Your requests have been heard so stay tuned for further and more detailed discussion concerning Mr Bell later this month.

I have no problem with Bell's books or teaching . . . so long as they stop classifying it as "Christian" and start filing it under "new age postmodern fiction". Rob Bell's theology has as much in common with Christianity as the Dalai Lama (at least the Dalai Lama doesn't pretend to be one) and I will be explaining why. In the mean time, if you click on the "Rob Bell" label under this post, you will find a fairly extensive archive of articles and information that I have compiled thus far. If you take the time to sift through it you may find some answers to your questions and a large amount of useful information.

And please tune in on Monday for the second installment of "The Days Of Noah" . . .

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Days Of Noah (Part 1)

It was the day before Good Friday in 2007. Denmark had become my new homeland just two months earlier. I witnessed to some people asking them if they knew what Easter was about. Noone had the foggiest idea. As I watched the shoppers scurrying about spending their money and seemingly oblivious to the reason for the holiday I was pierced with a dreadful irony. Firstly, that they gave no thought or regard for the reason why they got to enjoy several days off work. Secondly, the reason these people had affluence and the technology it could buy can be traced back to the days when Christian Reformers blazed a Gospel trail across Europe lifting it out of the dark ages. The tragedy was quite grievous to an outsider saved by the precious blood of Jesus Christ and inspired by reformers like Martin Luther.

As I stood to preach in the town square I couldn't help but feel like I was standing amidst the ruins of the mighty reformation that happened almost 500 years earlier. And Jesus words from Matthew 24 took on a spooky reality:

For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. (Matthew 24:37-39)

How terrifying to think that those swept away by the flood of Noah were oblivious until it was upon them and it will be just the same for those oblivious to the coming wrath of God that draws closer every day. The day when Jesus Christ returns, not as a Lamb, but as a Warrior making war with His enemies (see Revelation 19:11-21).

Theologians tell us that we have been in the “last days” ever since Christ’s return to the Father and the day of Pentecost. Maybe we are getting close to Christ’s return but the issue I desire to stress is the darkness of our day, the urgency of the hour, and the power of the Gospel.

Since it shall be like it was in the days of Noah, I believe it a worthwhile exercise to take a closer look at the days of Noah, and turn to the book of Genesis. I have five major lessons from the days of Noah that I will be revealing over the coming days but in the meantime I have a riddle for you to try and solve before it gets used as a prop in the next post. Here it is - the oldest man who ever lived died before his father! Answer that and you will go a long way towards the subject of Friday's post - Lesson 1 From the Days of Noah . . .

Go On To Part 2

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Background Story To Paul Washer's Shocking Youth Message

Paul Washer is probably best known because of a stunning sermon he delivered at a youth conference back in 2003. Someone filmed it and when the video started to circulate it generated a huge underground buzz. Paul Washer went from an obscure (and faithful) missionary to the most downloaded preacher on youtube. Millions download his sermons all the while Washer remains almost oblivious to the whirlwind. Brother Paul is largely ignorant of the, now massive, internet archive of his preaching. He has his hand to the plow preaching continually like a "dead man walking" - a preacher unaffected by the applause of men, and unencumbered with the need to please them.

It is no secret that Paul Washer's preaching has affected me in a large way. John Wesley once shared this advice with a group of preachers - set yourself on fire and people will come to watch you burn! That comment sums up Paul Washer. But my personal experience of Paul Washer goes beyond that. I know him as a compassionate and affectionate man who cares deeply about lost sinners and God's glory. Someone desperate to be a husband and father who honors God. A man who loves the precious Gospel so much that he rails against preachers who pervert it. A man so broken and acutely aware of his own human frailty (I doubt he would like me saying these things about him. I sincerely hope my comments do not convey a form of human adulation. He is a fellow son of Adam saved from a life of wretchedness to the glory of God. But I cannnot help but speak glowingly of my up close experience of a man being spent in labor for the wonderful Savior). In the video that follows Paul Washer gives the background story to the events that led up to the most downloaded sermon on youtube. Here is a quote from the interview:

When Jesus was persecuted, when people said bad things about Jesus, they were always wrong. When people make critiques of me they are not always wrong. We are men, we are weak, we are failing. I just want people to know that when someone says something about me that is not very positive, they may be right. And I want them to know that I know that they may be right, and it breaks me, and I do want to be more exact; I do want to be more Holy.

So here's the interview, an interview that is fascinating for those who have already been deeply impacted by Paul Washer's "shocking youth message" . . .

Friday, November 6, 2009

Obama To Enter Diplomatic Talks With Raging Wildfire

Barack Obama has taken diplomatic skill to a whole new level. This video courtesy of www.onion.com . . .


Obama To Enter Diplomatic Talks With Raging Wildfire

This video is an excellent satire that highlights the delusions of grandeur that world leaders can have and also the delusions Christians can have in the political process. We should support things that are morally right and stand for righteousness - this is all part of exercising the biblical worldview. But the only way to bring about genuine change is to prioritize our energies towards the proclamation of the Gospel. Because the heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart.

Only God can change that sinful heart. We may receives plenty of good counsel on how to conduct ourselves or bring about change but it will all turn out to be a complete failure with no positive results unless conversion lies at the heart of the process. From that point on godly counsel serves as a valuable outlet to demonstrate how God has changed us inwardly. Please hear me on this – there are good programs out there but unless God has done a regenerative work in our hearts the program becomes worthless. This is the issue that must be explored before all others.

The issue of being transformed or “saved” by God has become the Evangelical no-brainer of the 21st century. We all like to think we’ve got a tick in the salvation box and it’s time to move on to more interesting stuff. If that is your thinking then you need to take a holy pause. It can be a dangerous assumption to think that we or our neighbor are “right with God”, especially if there is no outward fruit of inner transformation. I have to confess that I spent many years of my Christian walk with only a shallow understanding of the Gospel. When I stopped trying to move on from it and started to mine deep into it I was able to find pearls of wisdom and treasures of truth that transformed my life. To correct a famous quote of Billary Clinton “it’s the Gospel stupid”.

Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron have an entire ministry (Way of the Master) focused on understanding, experiencing, and articulating the Christian Gospel rightly. They do a lot of interviews and street witnessing, and regularly speak with professing Christians. This has made me acutely aware of the massive subculture out there who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and deny Him with their lifestyle. Christianity for most of these people hinges on good works, church attendance, birthright, or baptism. I think Keith Green summed it up well in the seventies when he said that “going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to McDonald’s makes you a hamburger”.

But easily the most deceptive and alarming trend that Ray and Kirk have exposed is the multitude of professing Christians out there still living in slavery to their pet sins all the while entrusting their salvation in a ”sinners prayer” that they once recited. I’m not saying that altar calls are totally wrong, but what I am saying is that prayer does not save people – it is the One we are praying to who saves us (provided it is the biblical Jesus) and initiates a miraculous transforming work within us. Jesus told Nicodemus “unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3b) and that “unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5b). Jesus is talking about a lot more than a sinner’s prayer here. What Jesus is referring to with water and Spirit is explained in Ezekiel 36.

I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleanness (there’s the water), and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you (there’s the Spirit). And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. (Ezekiel 36:25-27)

It is God Who is speaking in these verses and it is worth noting how He explains conversion and Who it is that does the converting. I will sprinkle clean water on you; I will cleanse you from all your idols; I will give you a new heart; I will remove your heart of stone; I will put MY Spirit within you; I will cause you to walk in MY ways; I will cause you to obey MY commandments. God does everything when he saves someone – even the ability to walk in obedience is a gift from God. This is what happens when someone is truly born again.

Please understand that this is not about judging every person’s salvation. But it is a call not to take salvation for granted. It is a call to heed the Apostle Paul’s advice to the church in Corinth (II Corinthians 13:5) and “examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith”. To see whether we are bearing the fruit of the Spirit that testifies to His inner work. CJ Mahaney always reminds his church members to preach the Gospel to themselves daily. In his book “The Cross Centered Life” he says:
These are God’s promises to all who respond to His wonderful plan of salvation. Too many of us have moved on from that glorious plan. In our never-ending desire to move forward . . . too many of us have stopped concentrating on the wonders of Jesus crucified. Too many of us have fumbled the most important truth of the Bible, and therefore we’ve suffered the consequences (p17).

And I have really labored this point because it gets so easily bypassed in our haste for practical solutions to every conceivable problem. Genuine conversion and the resultant indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the foundation that must be in place in order for us to enact all other biblical principles. Wherever we are in our relationship with God, let us pause and take stock. May we come humbly before God and examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith. May we fervently explore the endless depths of Christ’s love for His Church demonstrated in the cross.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Living In The Second World

I just have to face up to the fact that I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed. I have spent my entire life being continually confused by things that seem obvious to everybody else. Sometimes people would say to me "Cameron, you can't have your cake and eat it too". Now I just don't get that saying at all - whenever I've had a cake in my hands it was for the sole purpose of eating the thing! I don't get antiques either. Can someone please explain to me the good sense in buying something old when a new one costs less? And why do all those people who want to stop polluting the atmosphere smoke those strange looking cigarettes? My life has been one perplexing ride!

But amidst all this personal confusion has come a recent resolution to one of the more challenging questions I've had since high school. It was in school that I learnt about the western world and how it is often referred to as the first world. And then there was all the poor countries otherwise known as the third world. Excuse me - what about the second world? How come nobody ever talks about it? Is it some secret bunker in Roswell, New Mexico? How come it gets no airtime? During Church discussions on mission I would often point out that I had a heart for the people groups of the second world - but that was more out of confusion than compassion. Who were these people and where did they live!

My seemingly futile search for answers concluded this week when we moved house to a rural location - with no internet access. Yes, I've finally figured it out, the second world is all the people who have no access to the world wide web. It certainly explains the complete lack of blog posts on the subject. So here I am, living life in the second world. My inbox runneth over!

We might have three worlds, but when it comes to eternity there is no middle ground. Heaven and hell are divided by an unbridgeable gulf. I've learnt that the second world has one particular thing in common with the first world and the third world - it's full of sinners. And they'll all end up in the same world unless they are born again . . .

For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but so that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes on Him is not condemned, but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the Light, because their deeds were evil (John 3:16-19).

Soppy liberals and emergents love to point out that Jesus didn't come to condemn. What they always fail to point out is that He didn't come to condemn because the whole world was already condemned because of their lawless rebellion against God. They are bound for hell and God will be just in sending them there . . . but . . . in the fulness of time God sent forth Jesus, God in human form, to fulfill the law that God demands and nobody keeps. Christ died as a propitiation, which means he endured God's just wrath against sinners as a substitute, fulfilling the requirements of justice and making a way for God to grant repentant sinners pardon and clothe them in the righteousness of Christ. Penal Substitutionary Atonement is great news - anyone who attacks this doctrine has a zipper on their sheep suit.

So now you know which of the three worlds you live in - but do you know which of the two worlds you'll end up in. You see that death counter to the right on this blog? It's only a matter of time before you become a part of the statistic. Cry out to God - how kind He is to give us time to repent.

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Post From The Internet Wilderness

Oh the shame of it all! Here I am writing this post on my wife's iphone, and typing at the speed of a VHS (when it's nearly finished rewinding). Three days "offline" and I feel like Tom Hanks in that movie where he gets stuck on a deserted island . . . except for the growing a beard part. All these years of mocking the nerd community without ever seeing my face in that crowd. How did I become so dependant on cyberspace?

I believe it is often the Holy Spirit that gives me a good whiff standing downwind of myself! I am reminded of my precious brothers and sisters in the persecuted church. Christians in places like North Korea and Saudi Arabia who suffer atrocities infinitely worse than going three days without checking my inbox. These people are the real heroes that gain fellowship in the sufferings of Christ.

How precious is my Jesus Who loved me while I was in my sins. How priceless is His blood that paid for my littany of crimes against Him! How glorious is the resurrection hope! And how pathetic of me in the light of these unshakeable truths to lament my lack of internet access over the last three days.

If you can't find me tomorrow I'll be in the repentance corner!