Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Anatomy Of The Gospel (Part 5)


Last year the Star Trek Movie was watched by millions of people. Seeker sensitive churches worked hard and fast to develop their “Star Trek” sermon series’ and stay on the cutting edge of relevance. Relevance? Less than 10% of people went to see that movie! My brother-in-law recently told me that his home church has become so relevant that it is now totally irrelevant. Brothers and sisters, we are not relevant because we are like this sinful world. We are relevant because we are different.

Do you know the ultimate statistic? That one out of one people die!

And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment (Hebrews 9:27).

It is a stunning irony to see trendy seeker friendly churches priding themselves on how relevant they are and never preaching the most relevant message of all. Less than ten percent of people went to see Star Trek but 100% of people will die and be judged. And that is what I mentioned in my previous posts. Here is a quick revision:

We learnt that God is Holy and demands perfection. We see God’s standards of perfection in His law.

We learnt that man is very sinful and God’s law serves as a mirror to show us our total wickedness.

Isaiah 64:6 tells us that even our righteous works are as filthy rags – wow! Imagine what our sin must look like!

This leads us to todays post in which we examine the third pillar:

The problem with sin is not only how evil it is. But Who it is done against. The bible teaches that God is good and righteous and loving and because of this He must punish us for our sin otherwise He would be violating His goodness, righteousness, and loving kindness. Do you think a judge is loving if he lets murderers, rapists, and paedophiles go free? Certainly not! How much more so that God cannot be good and let the guilty go free.

The Bible teaches us that God loves us. That he is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). This leads us to Luther’s great question. How can God be both just and the justifier of sinners (Romans 3:26)? Luther, as crazy as he seemed to all the other monks, actually was the one who was asking the right question.

These are the wrong questions:
1. How can a loving God send people to hell?
2. What about people who never hear the Gospel or grow up in other religions?
3. Why does God allow suffering and evil?

Next time someone asks you those questions hold up the mirror of God’s law and show them they are asking the wrong questions. When they understand Who God is and who we are they will ask these right questions:
1. How can a good God forgive anybody?
2. How does God put up with me?
3. Why aren’t there more disasters and suffering?

Heaven and hell are real places where real people go. When we understand the Holiness of God and the depravity of man, we can start to fathom why hell is a reasonable consequence of our rebellion against God - and be mystefied as to how God can save anybody. The judgment of God should provoke us to serious self examination and motivate us to fervent evangelism.

When you are humbled and broken by God’s law. When you see the impossibility of being right with God. When you abandon all hope in your own flesh and cry out to God for mercy. Then you are ready to hear the good news, the Gospel, of Jesus Christ. Pillar 4 is all about Christ's redemptive work and that is the subject of Friday's post - so stay tuned!

Go On To Part 6
Go Back To Part 4
Go Back To Part 1
Click Here To Read A Biblical Defence Of Pillar 3

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Anatomy Of The Gospel (Part 4)


All people are sinners. This is one of the strongest and most obvious evidences for the truth of the Bible. We don't teach our children to lie, covet, or be selfish. They are all born with a PHD . . . just like their parents.

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:

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)

It is very easy to detect a false gospel by how humanity is presented. False gospels tell us we are victims. The true Gospel tells us we are the criminals. It is true that there are people who are victims and we must be sensitive to that, but they still need to see that their crimes against God are far greater than the hurt they have experienced.

Now I’m going to say something that is going to shock a lot of you. There is a part of the Bible that is not inspired by the Holy Spirit! Please don’t stone me just yet – please hear me out. Do you know which part? The Ten Commandments! They weren’t inspired – they were actually engraved in stone with God’s finger! Of course I am being facetious here and I do hold to the inerrancy and divine inspiration of Scripture. But I really want to bring home the importance of God’s Law to New Testament Christians in seeing that dark night sky of our sin against God.

Some preachers in the past have tried to preach God’s law as a stick to make us behave, and others in more modern times have tried to use it as a carrot to a better life. But it was Martin Luther who realized that God’s law is not meant to be used as a stick or as a carrot – it is meant to be used as a mirror. Now mirrors can hurt, but they also help. Every day my mirror reminds me that the effects of the curse are taking their toll on me – I’m getting older and my body is wearing out. But it also sets off the alarm to do something about it. I’m not talking about plastic surgery but I am talking about our need to be saved.

A failure to understand God’s law is the reason behind the three most common objections against Christianity by the man on the street:
1. How can a loving God send people to hell?
2. What about people who never hear the Gospel or grow up in other religions?
3. Why does God allow suffering and evil?

Do you ever get asked those questions? Who here asks those questions? Do you struggle to find the answer? Would you like to be able to answer them? The answer is quite simple really – they’re all asking the wrong question! They have a wrong view of God and a wrong view of man and it causes them to ask the wrong questions.

So what’s the right question? Let me see if I can lead you to it by holding up the mirror of God’s law. The ninth commandment says you shall not lie. Who here has told a lie? The Bible says that all liars will end up in hell which usually causes us to default back to the wrong question “how can a loving God send someone to hell?” But what if we considered why lying is so offensive to God? What if we contrasted the evil of lying with the goodness of God? Can good judges ignore crime? How much more can God never ignore every time we break one of His laws? If I lie to my daughter she can do nothing to me. But if I lie to my wife I’m going to be sleeping on the sofa. If I lie to my boss he can fire me and if I lie to the government they can throw me in jail. Did you notice that it was the same crime in every scenario but when I did it against a higher authority the consequence became more and more severe. How serious is it to lie against an infinite authority? It is an infinite crime and that is why there is a hell.

The right questions to ask are:
1. How can a good God forgive anybody?
2. How does God put up with me?
3. Why aren’t there more disasters and suffering?

People who read the sermon on the mount as a list of moral guidelines miss the point completely. When Jesus tells us that lust is adultery and hatred is murder. That our righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees. That we must be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect. Jesus isn’t giving us pointers on how to live our best life now. He’s holding up the mirror of God’s Law to destroy all our confidence in our own righteousness leaving us destitute before God and longing for a perfect substitute.

If the Holiness of God and the depravity of man are preached rightly and understood rightly then we should be left hungering and thirsting after the perfect righteousness we need for right standing with God. We should also see that it is impossible because of our guilt. It is impossible and our guilt demands that God must judge and punish all evil.

People say that God is good and loving and this is true and it is also exactly what our problem is. If God is good and loving then he must judge us and punish us, otherwise He is violating His own character and nature.

Everyone thought Luther was crazy in his monastery but he was actually the only sane one there. His great question should be our great question – “How can God be both just and the justifier of men?

That is the question I will answer on wednesday!

Go On To Part 5
Go Back To Part 3
Go Back To Part 1
Click Here To Read A Biblical Defence Of Pillar 2

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Anatomy Of The Gospel (Part 3)


Paul Washer often says that the Gospel should never start with man but always with God. And so it is today as we embark on a journey through what I call the five pillars of the Gospel.

I can never do justice to the subject of the Holiness of God. All I will try to do is scratch the surface and give some basic truths about God’s Holiness to help us with self examination and sharing the Gospel with others.

God is the creator and sustainer of all things. He is so powerful that He spoke the universe into existence (Genesis 1). He is so huge that he measures the entire universe with the span of His Hand (Isaiah 40:12). He is so detailed that he numbers the hairs on our head (Luke 12:7). He is so just and righteous that He must punish all sin against Him (Genesis 18:25, Isaiah 13:11). He is so loving and merciful that He withholds his judgment giving us time to repent (2 Peter 3:9).

Romans 1 tells us that all men are born with the knowledge of God.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse (Romans 1:18-20)

So here we learn that God does not believe in atheists. They know there is a God but they love their sin more. And that’s important to remember when witnessing to an atheist – talk to them about morality, not proof of God’s existence. The creation reveals there must be a creator and we must all one day answer to Him.

God is Holy. He is separate and completely unlike anyone else. And this is where the puny gospel of "Jesus as our example" falls down. Yes, there is an element of truth to it, but if that is the extent of your gospel then you have really missed the heart of the cross. Jesus came precisely because of our inability to be like Him. We required a Divine substitute to fulfill the requirements of a Holy God. How great a God - omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, Sovereign over all things - and yet willing to stoop down to us in human form and pay a price we could never pay to redeem a people incapable of redeeming themselves.

For I am the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy . . . For I am the LORD who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy." (Leviticus 11:44-45)

There is none holy like the LORD; there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God. (1 Samuel 2:2)

The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD's throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man. The LORD tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence. Let him rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup. For the LORD is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face. (Psalm 11:4-7)

And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!" (Revelation 4:8)

Yes, unredeemed man is completely incapable of pleasing a Holy God. And that will lead us onto my next post on Monday: Pillar 2 - The Depravity Of Man

Go On To Part 4
Go Back To Part 2
Go Back To Part 1
Click Here To Read A Biblical Defence Of Pillar 1

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Anatomy Of The Gospel (Part 2)


I have quickly learned that saying I have the Gospel right and others have it wrong is offensive to many people. So for those who are offended by my claims I want to start by responding to the most common objections I hear.

1. Nobody is perfect, no one gets everything right.

No one is claiming that anybody is perfect. What I am claiming is that we can get the Gospel right, not the book of Revelation.

2. What makes you say that your opinion is right and theirs is wrong?

This has nothing to do with my opinion and everything to do with biblical truth. The issue is for you to test what I say against Scripture.

3. Ok so you get the Gospel right, but what about the power of God?

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16).

I’ve heard people return from mission trips saying that “people got saved and there were miracles as well”. Conversion is the greatest miracle because God takes someone dead in sin and brings them to life by the power of His Holy Spirit. I’ll have a lot more to say about that in the coming posts. But for now consider these two passages of Scripture:

This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him." Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." Nicodemus said to him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?" Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit (John 3:2-6).

I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, 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. 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).

Someone recently spoke to me about deliverance ministry and how it is possible to get the Gospel right and still be lacking in the spiritual warfare department. Bob De Waay had a deliverance ministry for many years and he finally arrived at the point where he concluded that the best form of deliverance ministry is pure Gospel preaching because that is what causes the Holy Spirit to start living where those demons once were.

4. Don’t criticize others they will answer to God.

It seems that the eleventh commandment has become “thou shalt not criticize” (or maybe tithing is the eleventh and this is the twelfth). This is simply not what the Bible teaches. It tells us in Romans 16:17 to mark false teachers who teach doctrine contrary to that we have learned. Ephesians 5:11 tells us to expose the works of darkness. Paul pronounces damnation on anyone who preaches any other gospel (Galatians 1:8-9). Many of the New Testament letters are responding to false teachers. Can a true shepherd ignore the work of wolves? We should be careful not to focus on minor issues but on major ones – especially the Gospel. We should come with an attitude desiring to honor God and warn those deceived. We should also carefully test all teaching against Scripture.

5. What authority does Cameron have to say this?

What authority is this really about? My opinion or what Scripture says. If what I teach is biblical then obey it. If it is false then mark me as a false teacher and warn people about me.

6. It is arrogant to say you know the truth.

This is the great deception of postmodernism. Whereas humility is about a low view of self they have redefined it to mean a low view of truth or certainty. One of the people who teaches this is that emergent heretic called Brian McLaren. Here is what McLaren says about certainty:

If I seem to show too little respect for your opinions or thought, be assured I have equal doubts about my own, and I don't mind if you think I'm wrong. I'm sure I am wrong about many things, although I'm not sure exactly which things I'm wrong about. I'm even sure I'm wrong about what I think I'm right about in at least some cases. So wherever you think I'm wrong, you could be right. If, in the process of determining that I'm wrong, you are stimulated to think more deeply and broadly, I hope that I will have somehow served you anyway. (A Generous Orthodoxy p19-20)

Is God the author of confusion? No – clearly that’s Brian McLaren’s job. Is it arrogant to say God is so kind that He made His plan of salvation so clear that even I can understand it and be sure about it? Or is it arrogant to say that no-one knows and everyone else has got it wrong? To claim to know the truth is an appeal to God’s kindness and not to any confidence in myself.

Ok Cameron, so what is the Gospel? In the coming days I will be going through what I call 5 Pillars of presenting the Gospel.


But prior to that, tomorrow, being Christmas day, will feature a Gospel presentation I have prepared for Christmas - a Christmas e-card if you like. Read through and see if you can spot those pillars.

Go On To Part 3
Go Back To Part 1

Friday, December 18, 2009

Fresh Snow On Luther's Dunghill - What Evangelicals Forget And Catholics Don't Get

I awoke this morning and peered out the window. I felt like a space traveller viewing a new planet from the safety of my spacecraft. The first fresh snowfalls of this winter had blanketed the bleak and dark Danish landscape transforming it to a beautiful and unblemished white. It instantly brought to mind the book by James White I am currently reading called The God Who Justifies.

In this book Dr. White devotes a chapter to what he calls Luther's dunghill. Luther was known for his "earthy" illustrations and this was no exception. Luther spent most of his life in a region not far from where I live where the climate and landscape were similar. The pretty countryside of summer gradually disappears with the chilling onset of the fall. The days grow shorter and darker, the vegetation becomes leafless and barren, and the great outdoors becomes a place of constant cloud cover with driving wind and rain. And to cap it all off, in Luther's day, the farmers, in desperate need of fertilizer:

would collect the refuse of their farm animals into piles to be spread out on the fields when the weather demanded. These "dunghills" would dot the landscape and were anything but attractive to either see or smell. Drawing on this commonplace occurrence, Luther once attempted to demonstrate the difference between justification and sanctification. He likened our sinful state to a dunghill: ugly and offensive, it has nothing in and of itself that would make it pleasing to anyone, let alone God.

This is what we are like in our sin. There is nothing that would recommend us to God, nothing that is acceptable, nothing that merits His blessing. We are foul and repulsive in our sin . . . Justification, he went on, is like that first snowfall of the approaching winter, the one that covers everything in a blanket of pure white. Unlike later snowfalls, where man has shoveled and plowed and otherwise worked to clear a path for himself, that first snow is clean, beautiful. Everything is covered in the same uniform blanket - even, Luther points out, those piles of dung. What was once foul is no longer. The smell is gone. The repulsive sight is gone. All is white and clean and pure.

This is how justification differs from sanctification. In justification we receive the pure and spotless righteousness of Christ, a blanket that covers over our sin in the sight of the Father. The dunghill is still, intrinsically and internally, a dunghill - that hasn't changed. What has changed is its relationship to an external standard - God's standard.

That first snowfall, the righteousness of Christ, an alien righteousness, the righteousness of another, is imputed to us, covering us and removing our offensiveness before God the Father. We do remain sinners inwardly; it is the work of sanctification that changes us internally, conforming us ever closer to the image of Christ. (The God Who Justifies p119-120)

As I gaze out my window I behold this rare moment of beauty on the long dark night of winter in Northern Europe. The purity of the fresh snow not only conceals the mud beneath, but it creates light and visibility during these short days. The dunghills Luther spoke of were covered by the snow but it did not make them go away. So too, our sinful nature does not leave, but is still there warring against the spirit of a new creation in Christ. It is here where the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit begins growing us in holiness and conformity to Christ. Our good works, or fruit of the Holy Spirit, contribute nothing to God's legal verdict of justification. But they do give outward evidence of the Spirit's inner transforming work. If the outward evidence is not appearing we have cause to heed Paul's words to the Corinthians and:

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?--unless indeed you fail to meet the test! (2 Corinthians 13:5)

For centuries (millenia perhaps) Catholics have confused this vital line of distinction between justification and sanctification. This has played a major role in their devolopment of an apostate works righteous religion where human works make a contribution to our salvation. James White continues:

In the Roman Catholic system our dunghill would become a pile of gold through the "laver of regeneration", baptism. It would then be internally changed and made pleasing to God.

However, the pile of gold may commit sins during the course of its life on earth. Some sins, it is said, do not destroy the grace of justification that has turned the dunghill into a pile of gold. These are called venial sins. But there are punishments, temporal punishments, that come with such sins. We would liken these to flecks or globs of dung that appear on the surface of the gold . . . this leads to the catholic doctrine of purgatory, the idea of a place of cleansing after death but before the entrance into the presence of God. But what about those serious sins that do, in fact, destroy the grace of justification? These "mortal" sins would instantaneously turn the pile of gold back into a pile of dung. The dunghill must then rely upon other remedies to regain the grace of justification (the sacrament of penance, in this particular case) and again become a pile of gold. Yet there can be temporal punishments for mortal sins as well, so even though the dunghill becomes a gold pile, it's not a perfect gold pile - it still must be concerned about self-purification.

The worst thing with such a system is this: the pile never knows whether it is gold or dung. Since there are requirements that must be fulfilled to obtain justification and maintain it, one can never know if everything that needs to be done has been done.

And so the real issue of this entire study comes to the fore. Is salvation the work of God? Does God save, perfectly, completely, in accordance with His own purpose and grace? Or is the Gospel a "maybe", a "do this and live". Is it a matter of "done in Christ Jesus", or is it "do with help and assistance from God"? (The God Who Justifies p121-122)

White summises the liberating truth that delivers us from this quagmire of Catholic bondage when he says "clothed in the righteousness of Christ that is ours by faith and faith alone - this is the hope of the believer.

This is the major line (though there are several others) that seperates Christianity from Roman Catholicism. This is the core of what the reformation was fought over and many lost their lives in the process and don't think for one minute that this gulf that divides has disappeared. The Catholic sponsored Council of Trent has not been revoked which, to this day, clearly states:

"If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema" (Council of Trent, Canons on Justification, Canon 9).

Anathema, according to Catholic theology, means excommunication, the exclusion of a sinner from the society of the faithful. Roman Catholic theology therefore pronounces a curse of excommunication, of being outside the camp of Christ, if you believe that you are saved by grace through faith alone in Jesus. Do not be deceived by attempts at Christian unity with Catholics. The reformers fought for the truth of justification by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone - and so must we!

May the first snow each winter remind us of the glorious doctrine of justification, how wonderful it is, how precious it is, and why we must fight for our lives to defend it - just as Luther did here 500 years ago!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Our Countdown Towards Leaving This Earth

When we think of the Psalms, it is David who readily springs to mind as the author. But David is not the only author. Did you know that of the 150 Psalms, one of them is attributed to Moses. In it, Moses dispenses some priceless wisdom that we would all do well to heed in the light of eternity:

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom (Psalm 90:12).

My good friend Nick, from Australia, recently lost his grandmother to the ultimate statistic. In response, Nick composed some words that are very stirring and very much in season. It is clear that Nick is learning the importance of numbering his days - and what a joy it is to witness God's sanctifying work in Nick's life through his passion for, and grasp of, the things that really matter this side of the veil. His words are worth sharing and embracing. So please, slowly meditate on this wise counsel . . .

Last night my dear Nan left this earth to meet her King.

Some time ago I watched my father, who I had never grown up with, deteriorate and painfully die of cancer. I refused to acknowledge the reality of death then, and later made his passing all about me in a kind of self-centered, destructive, internalised pity.

Others I have known die and, in the same manner, I chose to side-step the reality of it, instead of confronting the fact that from the moment we are conceived, we start our countdown towards leaving this earth.

So today I am choosing not to make my precious Nan’s death about me, about her, or about my family, or about life.
I am choosing to make this about God, our Creator; for, despite our repugnant hatred and paralyzing fear of death, God was glorified last night before all Heaven, and it was linked to the death of my Nan.
Her death completed God’s predestined plan to bring about His final glory in her life, in a manner that was not possible while she was with us on earth. It will be exactly the same with me.

The radiance of God’s inconceivable mercy and grace will pierce throughout the Heavens as He welcomes as heir the one who has placed their complete hope and trust in Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice at the cross...
God’s Justice at punishing man’s complete life of sin and contempt for Him will be magnificently magnified at the judgement of those without the defense of Christ Jesus.

Either way, God is sovereign, just and righteous, and His glory is paramount in everything.

So, while I can only pray to God that my dear Nan repented in brokenness of her sins and placed her trust in Christ, I must still focus on the fact that God is just and worthy of praise, even following the death of a loved one.

Death is a part of life. It wasn’t what God desired but we chose it that way through the actions of our forefather Adam and we all make the same God-defying choices that he did every day.

“All flesh is like the grass,
And all its beauty is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of the Lord endures forever”
(Isaiah 40:6b-8)

Even Job was concerned for the salvation of his own children, and yet, following their death, instead of distracting himself with self pity, he was able to pronounce:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return.
The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”
(Job 1:21)

So, with God’s strength, I will choose with Job to focus on God.
Death is coming for all of us, it’s inevitable.
It will meet my beautiful wife.
It will take my precious son and daughter.
It will even take my 20 week old unborn and fragile child.
And it will take me.

"In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.” (Job 12:10)

“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” (Philippians 3:20-21)

Amen Nick, amen!

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Global Cooling Crisis Of 1974

As Pope Al Gore gathers his clergy in Copenhagen to help perpetuate the crisis they invented, I thought it rather amusing to stroll down memory lane to just 35 years ago when the great god of science anticipated the catastrophe of "Global Cooling". Read this article and tell me who is smarter - God or scientists?

From the Jun 24, 1974, Time Magazine, entitled: "Another Ice Age?"

As they review the bizarre and unpredictable weather pattern of the past several years, a growing number of scientists are beginning to suspect that many seemingly contradictory meteorological fluctuations are actually part of a global climatic upheaval. However widely the weather varies from place to place and time to time, when meteorologists take an average of temperatures around the globe they find that the atmosphere has been growing gradually cooler for the past three decades. The trend shows no indication of reversing. Climatological Cassandras are becoming increasingly apprehensive, for the weather aberrations they are studying may be the harbinger of another ice age.

Telltale signs are everywhere from the unexpected persistence and thickness of pack ice in the waters around Iceland to the southward migration of a warmth-loving creature like the armadillo from the Midwest. Since the 1940s the mean global temperature has dropped about 2.7° F. Although that figure is at best an estimate, it is supported by other convincing data. When Climatologist George J. Kukla of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory and his wife Helena analyzed satellite weather data for the Northern Hemisphere, they found that the area of the ice and snow cover had suddenly increased by 12% in 1971 and the increase has persisted ever since. Areas of Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic, for example, were once totally free of any snow in summer; now they are covered year round.

Scientists have found other indications of global cooling. For one thing there has been a noticeable expansion of the great belt of dry, high-altitude polar winds —the so-called circumpolar vortex—that sweep from west to east around the top and bottom of the world. Indeed it is the widening of this cap of cold air that is the immediate cause of Africa's drought. By blocking moisture-bearing equatorial winds and preventing them from bringing rainfall to the parched sub-Sahara region, as well as other drought-ridden areas stretching all the way from Central America to the Middle East and India, the polar winds have in effect caused the Sahara and other deserts to reach farther to the south. Paradoxically, the same vortex has created quite different weather quirks in the U.S. and other temperate zones. As the winds swirl around the globe, their southerly portions undulate like the bottom of a skirt. Cold air is pulled down across the Western U.S. and warm air is swept up to the Northeast. The collision of air masses of widely differing temperatures and humidity can create violent storms—the Midwest's recent rash of disastrous tornadoes, for example.

Sunspot Cycle. The changing weather is apparently connected with differences in the amount of energy that the earth's surface receives from the sun. Changes in the earth's tilt and distance from the sun could, for instance, significantly increase or decrease the amount of solar radiation falling on either hemisphere—thereby altering the earth's climate. Some observers have tried to connect the eleven-year sunspot cycle with climate patterns, but have so far been unable to provide a satisfactory explanation of how the cycle might be involved.

Man, too, may be somewhat responsible for the cooling trend. The University of Wisconsin's Reid A. Bryson and other climatologists suggest that dust and other particles released into the atmosphere as a result of farming and fuel burning may be blocking more and more sunlight from reaching and heating the surface of the earth.

Climatic Balance. Some scientists like Donald Oilman, chief of the National Weather Service's long-range-prediction group, think that the cooling trend may be only temporary. But all agree that vastly more information is needed about the major influences on the earth's climate. Indeed, it is to gain such knowledge that 38 ships and 13 aircraft, carrying scientists from almost 70 nations, are now assembling in the Atlantic and elsewhere for a massive 100-day study of the effects of the tropical seas and atmosphere on worldwide weather. The study itself is only part of an international scientific effort known acronymically as GARP (for Global Atmospheric Research Program).

Whatever the cause of the cooling trend, its effects could be extremely serious, if not catastrophic. Scientists figure that only a 1% decrease in the amount of sunlight hitting the earth's surface could tip the climatic balance, and cool the planet enough to send it sliding down the road to another ice age within only a few hundred years.

The earth's current climate is something of an anomaly; in the past 700,000 years, there have been at least seven major episodes of glaciers spreading over much of the planet. Temperatures have been as high as they are now only about 5% of the time. But there is a peril more immediate than the prospect of another ice age. Even if temperature and rainfall patterns change only slightly in the near future in one or more of the three major grain-exporting countries—the U.S., Canada and Australia —global food stores would be sharply reduced. University of Toronto Climatologist Kenneth Hare, a former president of the Royal Meteorological Society, believes that the continuing drought and the recent failure of the Russian harvest gave the world a grim premonition of what might happen. Warns Hare: "I don't believe that the world's present population is sustainable if there are more than three years like 1972 in a row."

So here we are in 2009 losing sleep over the size of our carbon footprints when no one really has a clue as to what is happening and what effect man can possibly have on global climate. I love the peace of resting in the doctrine of the Sovereignty of God. He is in control, He ordains every event down to the minutest detail, He is working all things together for His glory, and He knows EXACTLY WHAT HE'S DOING!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Global Burning

I must confess that I am intensely frustrated at so many mega church pastors signing on to the "Evangelical Climate Initiative". Pope Al Gore clearly holds a lot of sway these days with 85 evangelical leaders jumping onto his global warming train. Let's just hope that it's a train with a carbon neutral footprint.

As an Australian living in Scandinavia, I see the prospect of global warming as a highly enticing prospect. And I am fiercely determined not to let Al Gore and all his clergy stand in the way of my dream of wearing shorts in December. I've invested heavily in this vision too and stand to make a killing. Not many people have the foresight to open a surf shop 50 miles inland from the Norwegian coast. But when the icecaps melt and the global warming really kicks in, Norway will be the new Hawaii. And when the oceans rise my surfshop will be right on the beach. I can't begin to tell you how excited I am about this. Of course, the Norwegians are very concerned about rising sea levels which is why they're killing so many whales and keeping the sea level as low as they possibly can. The unconvenient truth is, however, that if someone shut off the power to Al Gore's house, the holes in the ozone layer would close up in one fell swoop anyway.

But what about the mega church dudes crying over the environment. I mean, if there was an 11th commandment it would have to be about using bio-degradable communion cups wouldn't it. I must confess to always being a doubter when it comes to finding a biblical basis for global warming but then I stumbled upon it in the New Testament. How could I have doubted, how could I have been so wrong for so long . . .

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. (2 Peter 3:9-13)

We're not talking Global Warming here - this is Global Burning. This is a fire that's coming, and it's unquenchably hot, and everlasting, and the only way of avoiding it is by crying out to the Savior in repentant faith.

Right now, here in Denmark, many of the world's leading politicians, scientists, and Bono wannabees are gathered here to try and save the planet - it's just one big carbon neutral party. They could have saved a lot of money by hiring me to make a solitary presentation addressing them about earth's future just by reading from Scripture.

And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:15).

The scientists are right in their conclusion that it will get hotter. But they are deluded as to the extent of that heat and downright wrong about man's ability to do anything about it. The one thing we can do as people is to preach the Gospel, warning people to flee from the wrath to come, and find their refuge in a Savior Who is creating a new heaven and a new earth for those He saves.

Here's a GLOBAL WARNING to any preacher dancing with environmental causes - the Gospel of Jesus Christ is mankinds only hope so get busy preaching it - in season, out of season, and before the season of the Lord's return. It's going to get a whole lot hotter . . .

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Priceless Moments In Fatherhood

I have had a hard time in general when living in Denmark. Sure the summers are beautiful . . . it's just the other 11 months. They keep telling me global warming is coming but it's not coming fast enough. And, truth be told, these are petty and selfish grievances in the light of the sufferings of those in the persecuted church. The real struggle living in Denmark is the total lack of biblical churches. Prior to our church plant I had only attended one church meeting in three years where the Gospel was faithfully preached. And that guy never preached again! The nearest fellowship that feeds the flock with verse by verse expository preaching is in Berlin! For those of you who struggle with Geography, Berlin is in Germany - another country!

This forced my family into a corner. Either we start a church or leave altogether. Well we met a few other like-minded couples to help us venture into the uncharted waters of planting a church. We have now up and moved to another town in Denmark to be close to our colaborers. We are also very grateful for the great assistance that Paul Washer and Heart Cry Missionary provided in laying the groundwork for this pioneering work.

Now, by God's grace, we are up and running and have already had our first two official services. One of the great pleasures of this is that I no longer have to de-program my six year old daughter after being exposed to false teaching. But what has surprised me is how quickly the change has affected her.

To my total surprise, during our open prayer meeting, my little girl chimed in praying of her own initiative. You can't pay me money for that - and it was a good prayer too, thanking Jesus for dying on the cross. But it didn't end there. As the next hymn was announced she picked up a song book, found the aforementioned hymn, and sang along with us reading the words as she went. Cameron was one big proud daddy!

I can never claim to be a model father. But these experiences remind me of the importance of discipling our kids. One of the scariest phrases in the Bible is found in Proverbs concerning disciplining our children. It says to discipline them "while there is hope". I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed but I know that verse is a stern warning that there comes a time when it is too late. Training up our children in the "way they should go" is a safe investment with certain dividends - even in a financial crisis. Denmark is a land where almost all children are being "discipled" in institutionalized day care while both parents work. It's not hard to see the gathering clouds of judgment on the horizon. Paul Washer was struck by the scale of this tragedy when he was in Denmark. This was his response . . .

Monday, December 7, 2009

My Inbox Runneth Over With Hate Mail From Rob Bell Groupies

There are definitely better things to talk about than a guru in the emergent church. But Rob Bell seems to be casting a long shadow of influence and I regularly get asked to write about him and his teaching. This series of posts has been an attempt to satisfy that curiosity. I said that Friday's post would be the last in the current series but I have been inundated with a tsunami of hate mail in response to my "Rob Bell Exposed" video on youtube. I thought it might be worthwhile to post one more time on this sad subject so that you, the reader, can at least get a taste of what is "the emergent conversation". Today, I have posted a sampling of these nastygrams by the defenders of Rob Bell. But, first of all, I thought I should give some background as to why I have such a strong interest in bringing to light Bell's false teachings.

Several years ago (before I moved to Denmark) I was an elder in a large church (by Australian standards). It had a large and vibrant youth culture and there was a real buzz going around about these cool new DVD's that everyone was watching called Nooma's.

I can remember sitting in a friend's apartment and being shown one for the first time. It was called "Luggage" and it seemed quite neutral and didn't leave an impression on me one way or the other . . . except it had a killer punch right at the end with a graphic car smash just as I was waiting for the credits to roll. I thought the crash was pretty cool and a sobering reminder to the brevity of life, but other than that I thought little about it.

But several weeks later I sat in on a youth meeting where another one of these "Noomas" was shown called "Dust". I can remember being creeped out by the dialogue as Rob bell dazzled everyone with his seeming knowledge of Jewish culture and rabbinical tradition, but I could not put my finger on what was wrong. But then the false teaching came oozing out. First of all by attributing Peter's sinking in the water to a loss of faith in himself. And then climaxing with Bell's assertion that God has faith in man - the reformation upside down if you like.

I started asking questions about Bell and the emergent movement but people seemed to be either disinterested in my questions or uncorncerned that the cornerstone Christian teaching of "by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ ALONE" was being assaulted. I soon found out about another Nooma video called "Bullhorn Guy". In this one Bell makes an ugly caricature of open-air preachers and then slams them for preaching about sin, hell, judgment, repentance, mortality, and quoting Bible verses (yes things that are all true). What was his biblical basis? There was none! Instead he appealed to pragmatism (it doesn't work) and his own actor in the video who is unsocial, uncool, completely ignored, and shouts at people through a bullhorn. My blood was starting to boil.

To make matters worse the Dust video was in my home church's disciplship packs and youth were regularly quoting Bell's mantras like believe in yourself and God has faith in you. In an ego-centric, therapeutic culture that is in hot pursuit of higher self esteem I knew that this was the last teaching they needed to embrace if they were to live Christ centered lives based on dying to self, coming to him in repentant faith, and daily taking up their cross. As an elder I sensed a responsibility to respond to these goings on. I started to study Bell's teachings in more depth, listening to his sermons, and reading his book Velvet Elvis (in the hope that my concerns were unfounded). What I found was even more disturbing as I uncovered a long list of aberrant and often heretical teaching (heavily discussed in previous posts).

Eventually, I had the opportunity to make a ten minute apologetic presentation on something that seems right but isn't. I chose to critiqe Bell's video Dust. Many of you have already seen it, but for those that haven't - here it is . . .

I never could have imagined the massive response to this message when it was posted on youtube. It was unabashed plaudits mixed with hostile outrage - and little in between. It took well over a year for the hornets nest to settle down. But I have recently been inundated with a rash of venomous comments by "Rob Bell supporters" some of whom claim to attend his "church". It may well be that this video is circulating through congregants at the fellowship where Bell pastors. Please pray that it may cause some people to flee Bell's false teaching and find refuge in a sound biblical church. A lot of the comments give me great cause for concern for those who try to live by Bell's creed of "Love Wins" . . .

A Christian pastor bashing a Christian pastor? May God Curse you and your children for ages to come.

In the New Testament times, the way to know if someone was teaching a false doctrine was to know that person (or know someone who knew that person), and then decide if they're preaching falsely. Also, if they were corrected after preaching falsely and repented, then they were forgiven... Internet did not exist back then.... You have never met Rob Bell, and probably don't know anyone who has (I'm guessing?). I'm assuming you have never talked to him or asked him about his views, or have ever tried to show him that his views may be wrong. You're judging him based on what you have seen, not who he is.... You don't know him. You're spreading gossip about someone you don't know. You're causing disunity and are being a stumbling block for new believers. How dare you say God isn't using Rob Bell? Are you God?

Maybe they should write about you that you are the next Billy Graham...
I don't see a point in putting a video and waving to the world as a Christian against another Christian that someone else is wrong.. We don't always agree with each other but we do need to respect each other.. and what you do isn't fair.
Not nice.. really.. not very Christian.

who preaches a sermon against another pastor... ever? Show me where that's Biblical
why would you splice a video mid section and act like that is all he said? Watch his whole video start to finish and if you still feel that Rob Bell is in any way taking away from the message of Jesus than you must not have any regard for the Holy Spirit. Rob Bell has an unparalleled understanding of the Word, clearly unlike this cocky skeptic

Do you really believe God's means of getting us to be in love would stop at someone like Rob Bell? God will use any means necessary, he made the israelites wonder the desert for 40 years, he made zacariah dumb, he raised people from the dead, SO REALLY IT IS NOT IN THE BIBLE?, what i meant fully is that he will use anything towards his good purpose, which potentially is any means!!! Who are you to decide whether Rob bell is wrong? For all you know God could be using him more that he is using you

we cant make theologies that arent in the Bible, or rather that God doesnt want us to make, Like th pharisees did in Jesus' time, I dont think he wants us to go back there again. What im saying is that we really dont fully understand how God works, and to say someone that could potentially be guided God is a heretic is wrong and very dumb.

This video does exactly what every cult/sect has done: they take one or two statements that someone says and they come up with an enormous argument to discredit that person (in the case of cults, they take one verse from the Bible and base their theology on that one verse). Clearly no one is perfect. I think Jesus would definitely be against holding a meeting just to discredit someone... The preacher in this video probably has never met Rob Bell

Well what do you live for? it seems you spend much of your energy posting videos against another person that you probably never even met or had a deep conversation with about his heart and belief.

I wouldn't be focusing on Rob Bell. I would be focusing on spreading the word of God. Never, ever call people out. Jesus and God does that.... Be very very careful sir.

God didn't give the Holy Spirit to animals. He has faith in us. If you don't think God has faith in you to follow him then you are deceived. Yes, we need the Holy Spirit. If the Holy Spirit was the deciding factor for God's faith could then God give the Holy Spirit to any creature on the earth and people would be saved? H11:1 deals with what faith is to US.

All you have to do from your argument to undermine Jesus's words is ask if he was implying something that he wasn't and then manipulate that point, which you did. You care about the truth of the gospel? When was the last time you raised someone from the dead? Healed someone from cancer or saw someone's limbs grow back? (with Jesus's power of course

There are countless other comments but I'll exercise mercy and stop right there. We've all heard enough of the "emergent conversation" and it's time for me to talk about something else on my next post.

Friday, December 4, 2009

John Piper Vs Rob Bell - Which Gospel Are You Trusting

Click Here To Read Rob Bell Takes Off His Sheep Suit for my latest post concerning the scandal surrounding Rob Bell's "Love Wins" video and John Piper's renunciation of Rob Bell.

I guess it is a fair question to ask why Rob Bell has featured on my last four posts. After all, there are far better things to talk about. But I am continually asked for information regarding Rob Bell by concerned church goers who are continually bombarded by his teaching during church services and youth meetings. As a final installment I thought it might be appropriate to contrast the gospel according to Rob Bell with the Gospel according to John Piper. Bell says "you are the gospel". Piper says "God is the Gospel". What a great contrast. They cannot both be right no matter how much postmodern spin doctoring you try to do. Which Gospel are you trusting because one leads to eternal life and the other is a road to eternal damnation . . .

Clicke Here to see James White's critique of Bell's video.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

My Plea To Pastors About Rob Bell (Part 3)

I am persevering on this subject today for three major reasons:

1. Rob Bell is exerting a lot of influence on young undiscerning church goers. I was initially dragged into examining the teaching of Rob Bell due to the use of his teaching in my home fellowship and the disturbing understanding of the Gospel that began to "emerge" among many of the impressionable young. The deeper I dug the darker it got (wait until you read the quotes I've got posted today).

2. Though there are worse teachers out there, I get asked the most questions about Rob Bell. Also, Rob tends to be a very gifted communicator who is very adept at cloaking the heretical aspects of his teaching.

3. The reproach he brings on doctrines that people like the reformers were willing to lay down their lives for.

If you think my charges against Rob Bell's teaching are unfounded or over the top then listen to Rob Bell in his own words (with thanks to the guys at "A Thousand Tongues" website for compiling this list).

Rob Bell On Scripture:

“The Bible is a collection of stories that teach us about what it looks like when God is at work through actual people. The Bible has the authority it does only because it contains stories about people interacting with the God who has all authority” (Velvet Elvis p65).

“…it wasn’t until the 300s that what we know as the sixty-six books of the Bible were actually agreed upon as the ‘Bible’. This is part of the problem with continually insisting that one of the absolutes of the Christian faith must be a belief that “Scripture alone” is our guide. It sounds nice, but it is not true. In reaction to abuses by the church, a group of believers during a time called the Reformation claimed that we only need the authority of the Bible. But the problem is that we got the Bible from the church voting on what the Bible even is. So when I affirm the Bible as God’s word, in the same breath I have to affirm that when those people voted, God was somehow present, guiding them to do what they did. When people say that all we need is the Bible, it is simply not true. In affirming the Bible as inspired, I also have to affirm the Spirit who I believe was inspiring those people to choose those books.” (Velvet Elvis p68)

[The Bible is a] “human product…rather than the product of divine fiat” (Emergent Mystique, Christianity Today)

Rob Bell On Heaven and Hell:

”When people use the word hell, what do they mean? They mean a place, an event, a situation absent of how God desires things to be. Famine, debt, oppression, loneliness, despair, death, slaughter–they are all hell on earth. Jesus’ desire for his followers is that they live in such a way that they bring heaven to earth. What’s disturbing is when people talk more about hell after this life than they do about Hell here and now. As a Christian, I want to do what I can to resist hell coming to earth.” (Velvet Elvis p148)

“Heaven is full of forgiven people. Hell is full of forgiven people. Heaven is full of people God loves, whom Jesus died for. Hell is full of forgiven people God loves, whom Jesus died for. The difference is how we choose to live, which story we choose to live in, which version of reality we trust. Ours or God’s.” (Velvet Elvis p146)

Rob Bell On The Fall:

“I can’t find one place in the teachings of Jesus, or the Bible for that matter, where we are to identify ourselves first and foremost as sinners. Now this doesn’t mean we don’t sin; that’s obvious. In the book of James it’s written like this: ‘We all stumble in many ways.’ Once again, the greatest truth of the story of Adam and Eve isn’t that it happened, but that it happens.” (Velvet Elvis p139)

Rob Bell On The Exclusivity of Christ:

“I don’t follow Jesus because I think Christianity is the best religion. I follow Jesus because he leads me into ultimate reality. He teaches me to live in tune with how reality is. When Jesus said, ‘No one comes to the Father except through me’, he was saying that his way, his words, his life is our connection to how things truly are at the deepest levels of existence. For Jesus then, the point of religion is to help us connect with ultimate reality, God.” (Velvet Elvis p83)

Rob Bell On the Nature of the Atonement:

“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)

Rob Bell On the Virgin Birth:

“What if tomorrow someone digs up definitive proof that Jesus had a real, earthly, biological father named Larry, and archeologists find Larry’s tomb and do DNA samples and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the virgin birth was really just a bit of mythologizing the Gospel writers threw in to appeal to the followers of the Mithra and Dionysian religious cults that were hugely popular at the time of Jesus, whose gods had virgin births?

But what if, as you study the origin of the word “virgin” you discover that the word “virgin” in the gospel of Matthew actually comes from the book of Isaiah, and then you find out that in the Hebrew language at that time, the word “virgin” could mean several things. And what if you discover that in the first century being “born of a virgin” also referred to a child whose mother became pregnant the first time she had intercourse?” (Velvet Elvis p26)

Rob Bell On Faith:

“Who does Peter lose faith in? Not Jesus; he is doing fine. Peter loses faith in himself. Peter loses faith that he can do what his rabbi is doing. If the rabbi calls you to be his disciple, then he believes that you can actually be like him. As we read the stories of Jesus’ life with his talmidim, his disciples, what do we find frustrates him to no end? When his disciples lose faith in themselves….. Notice how many places in the accounts of Jesus’ life he gets frustrated with his disciples. Because they are incapable? No, because of how capable they are. He sees what they could be and could do, and when they fall short it provokes him to no end. It isn’t their failure that’s the problem, it’s their greatness. They don’t realize what they are capable of….God has an amazingly high view of people. God believes that people are capable of amazing things. I’ve been told I need to believe in Jesus. Which is a good thing. But what I’m learning is that Jesus believes in me….God has faith in me.” (Velvet Elvis p133-134)

For further reading I recommend Mark Sohmer's scholarly review of Rob Bell's book Velvet Elvis.

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