Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My Online "Discussion" With Hillsong's Executive Pastor (Part 4)

Troy wrote to me yesterday to tell me:

All these "Christian" blogs seem do is talk down about other Christians. Who would want to be a part of this (Christianity) if the people who are supposed to love and accept one another just bring each other down? Let's remember above everything else we're called to LOVE Jesus and LOVE others. And let's not forget John 13:35.

Well Troy, there was unfinished business in my previous series - particularly in regard to Hillsong's disgraceful practice of removing a part of a Bible verse (the repentance part). Can you honestly tell me that you don't have a problem with that? My correspondence with Joel A'Bell brings more light to this story.

Secondly, this blog is just one area of the sum of my labor. It is in this forum alone that I venture into polemic critiques and discussions. Furthermore, I like to think that this blog contains a good blend of a wide variety of subjects with both positive and negative stories.

Thirdly, there you go trying to play the love card. Scripture defines God's love in Romans 5:8 . . .

God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

So if you want to criticize about love then criticize Hillsong for their failure to preach God's love by never talking about sin or the cross (as is ably demonstrated in their CD gospel presentation and the video from my Sep 20 2010 post). Also Troy, if you love God and treasure His word then where is your outrage over Hillsong's willingness to mess with Scripture? I would contend that I am doing this out of love for the truth, a love for God's people who are being deceived, and a love for the true Gospel that God delivered.

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:8-9)

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)


Troy wrote again after these comments:

I really do care about all those things you're talking about. And I can assure you that I've been to Hillsong quite a few times and have heard the gospel accurately preached. Yes, including the mention of sin and the cross.

I think that you are right to question the "tampering" or scripture. But at the same time, I think you keep harping on something that could very well have been an accident that was overlooked, as Robert Fergusson stated in your post. But for some reason you have chosen to believe that this was intentional. I believe that this was not intentional. Unless you have seen them consistently changing scripture, then I see no reason to believe that they do not preach "the true gospel". Especially when like I said above, I have heard it for myself.

Hillsong Church is doing many incredible things around the world in the name of Jesus and many lives are being changed. This is a fact.


Troy, for months now I have been waiting for one solitary example of a faithful Gospel presentation from anything at Hillsong (video, audio, or written). Nothing has been forthcoming - except for several people trying to reassure me that they do preach the Gospel. I do however have an abundance of examples of them preaching a false gospel so bad even their doctrine statement defines it as heretical. So Troy send me the one example of a faithful Gospel presentation that talks about God's holiness, man's sin, judgment, atonement and resurrection, repentance and faith. I am eagerly awaiting . . .

I welcome anyone willing to send me one example they can find and i promise I will give it a fair hearing. I'm waiting . . .

I did go looking for one of these Gospel presentations (of Joel A'Bell) myself in the last few days but did not find anything. But I did find this video featuring Joel A'Bell (and some other guy later on) which was interesting. Joel may not be responsible for the editing but the video excerpt follows the disturbing trend of deleting unsavory parts of the biblical text. Pay particular attention to the portion of video depicting the story of Jesus and the woman at the well (John 4). Watch that part and see if you can spot which part of the dialogue between Jesus and the woman ended up on the "cutting room floor" . . .



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

Monday, September 27, 2010

My Online "Discussion" With Hillsong's Executive Pastor (Part 3)


There are two pictures that can be seen above. Can you tell the difference? I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed but I think I can tell the difference. One is about preference and the other is perfect. One is defined by the consumer and the other defines the consumer. One changes daily according to the tastes of men and the other is the same "yesterday, today, and forever" according to the eternal sovereign decrees of God. One is a Buffet and the other is a Bible - can you see the difference?

No, I am not trying to insult the intelligence of the vast array of discerning readers who frequent this blog! But I am suggesting that there are some people high up in the Hillsong enterprise who definitely need their eyes checked. One of the most serious allegations I have levelled against "Hillsong" is their treatment of Scripture as something that they can pick and choose from to reinforce the theology that they have already invented as Brian Houston can ably demonstrate:



I won't comment on that video since Tom Hanks was able to sum it up so well . . .



Twisting Scripture is bad enough. But Hillsong took it to a whole new level on their "Mighty To Save" CD where they decided to indulge in editing God's sacred word! As Hillsong emblazoned 2 Chronicles 7:14 on the back cover of their liner notes, I noticed that the verse seemed somewhat abbreviated. It read:

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

By checking in my Bible I found this verse to be incomplete and is missing the following words in CAPITAL LETTERS:

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face AND TURN FROM THEIR WICKED WAYS, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

It would seem that Hillsong's aversion to the vital biblical subject of repentance extends a long way. Scripture itself has some interesting things to say about this practice of using liquid white-out for a Bible highlighter:

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. (Revelation 22:18-19)

You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you. (Deuteronomy 4:2)

"Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it." (Deuteronomy 12:32)

Do not add to His words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar. (Proverbs 30:6)

"Thus says the LORD: Stand in the court of the LORD’s house, and speak to all the cities of Judah that come to worship in the house of the LORD all the words that I command you to speak to them; do not hold back a word." (Jeremiah 26:2)

But what did the people at Hillsong have to say for themselves? Well, in my correspondence with Robert Fergusson (their main theological heavyweight), I brought the subject up several times. Fergusson used a very interesting apologetical approach - just ignore my question! Now I have read some books on Christian apologetics but I cannot recall ever hearing about the "pretend the guy never said anything" approach. Later on I experienced the same problem in my online correspondence with Joel A'Bell (Hillsong's Executive Pastor). After much perseverence I finally heard something on the subject. Not from Pastor Joel but from Joseph De Araujo (who seems to be one of Joel's preferred "Hillsong defenders"). Joseph wrote:

I don't think it is intentional though (leaving out parts of scripture), and this is something we need to understand too. But this must be addressed. If we are to communicate the whole message, sure we can change the language so that the modern reader can understand, but we can't cut bits out. I think in a real sense, this is about quality control, someone should have proof read that, and said, "Hey, there's a bit missing." Good quality control will get rid of any mistakes like this. The solution is simple, get more editors, proof readers - get more excellence in quality control.(emphasis mine)

So what do you think? Is this purely an accidental mistake that can be rectified through "more editors and proof readers" or is there a theological element to this subject? Love your feedback before I continue this series on Wednesday. This is a big deal and needs to be pursued . . .

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

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Just Added - The Truth About Man

This outstanding study/workbook on the doctrine of human depravity has just been added to my resource directory!

THE TRUTH ABOUT MAN
Paul Washer

Category: Theology
Click Here To Order
The disciplines of science, philosophy, and religion are full of theories put forth by men attempting to explain, or explain away, the fundamental flaws of humanity. But the problem with man is best explained by His Creator. If we as creatures are to find a remedy for our plight, we must seek it in God, who alone can save. Through a guided study of God's own words, and under various systematic headings, The Truth about Man unfolds the desperate condition of humanity. As the second part in a series of rich, biblical studies, this workbook provides the reader with a no-nonsense Bible study on a fundamental tenant of the Christian gospel the lost condition of man.

Friday, September 24, 2010

My Online "Discussion" With Hillsong's Executive Pastor (Part 2)

Continued from my previous post . . .

Joel A'Bell, to his credit, published my critique and then responded to the objections I raised concerning Hillsong's attempts at Gospel proclamation:

Hi Cameron, everything you stated in your post comment is what we believe, although you didn't mention resurrection from the dead or eternal judgement, but we believe those too.
I'm sorry that certain sentences were left off some of the creative liners of that album. I can assure you it was not intentional as it is very obvious what we believe.

You mentioned Gal 1:8-9, the Apostle Paul and making sure we don't preach a different gospel but you didn't add the gospel presentation he was referring to??? Was it in the next verse?
You are making serious accusations here so you need to give me the acceptable salvation prayer you are talking about... Where is it?


Joel's closing comments here set off a big red flashing warning sign in my mind. He is after the "acceptable salvation prayer" formula - is this what he thinks saves people? I responded as follows:

Dear Joel, you asked for an acceptable salvation prayer. This is part of the problem - it is Christ Who saves, not the prayer you pray. And every Christian has responsibility to present the Gospel rightly. At the fundamental level, any Gospel presentation should include these five elements:
1. An explanation of The Holiness of God - His character and nature.
2. An explanation of man's depravity - define and explain sin.
3. The necessity of judgment - heaven and hell are real places where real people go - that God is bound by His character and nature to punish sin.
4. Christ's atoning work and resurrection - that Christ fulfilled the law that sinners break, and took God's wrath on the cross in the place of sinners and that the resurrection verifies God's satisfaction with Christ's payment.
5. The call on all men everywhere to repent of their sin and believe the Gospel.
I back this up biblically here (read from the bottom up)
http://onceuponacross.blogspot.com/search/label/Anatomy%20Of%20The%20Gospel

Yes I am levelling serious charges against the gospel according to Hillsong. Why shouldn't I if it is clearly not the Gospel of Scripture - the one Paul preached! That is one debate. But even your own doctrine statement pronounces heresy on the gospel presentation found in the "Mighty to Save" CD. And to edit a Bible verse as was done with 2 Chronicles 7:14 is outrageous. The subject of repentance was avoided in the gospel presentation (even though your faith statement says it is necessary to be saved) - why shouldn't I believe that the line "turn from their wicked ways" being deleted from 2 Chronicles 7:14 was for the exact same reason. Joel, I don't blame you for this, but it's quite shocking that you are downplaying it as something less than outrageous.

I have a five part youtube series presenting the Gospel in a biblically faithful way and I welcome your feedback. It can be viewed here (just scroll down):
http://onceuponacross.blogspot.com/2010/04/due-to-requests-today-i-am-posting...

I'm giving you plenty of information here and I am sure you are a very busy man. But I urge you to engage this matter because the Gospel is a matter of first importance - especially when the material you transmit and market finds its way into a lot of homes around the world.

Sincerely
Cameron


More to come . . .

Go On To Part 3
Go Back To Part 1

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My Online "Discussion" With Hillsong's Executive Pastor (Part 1)

In my previous post I included a video of a female leader at Hillsong church in Australia making an absolute hash of presenting the Christian Gospel. To call it inadequate and full of falsehoods would be to put the best possible construction on it. Much to my surprise "Newtaste" then informed me that the woman is Julia A'Bell - and that name did ring a bell! I was immediately reminded of my online correspondence with her husband Joel several months ago.

Joel A'Bell with his wife Julia, is an Executive Pastor at Hillsong Church (I will set aside the glaring Scriptural problem of a female pastor for now - paging 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1) in Sydney Australia, where his primary responsibilities are to oversee the City Worship Centre. Joel has been a minister since 1993.

There seems to be a lot of interest in getting beneath the veneer of the Hillsong empire and I thought my correspondence with Joel may be of interest to many of the readers who have viewed my earlier series on the false gospel of Hillsong (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6).

On May 28 2010 Joel A'Bell wrote the following post on his blog (which Newtaste drew to my attention):

Critics are like bugs, they just make the same repetitive noise but when you draw near to them they go silent. I am so reminded by the caution Paul gave the people of Corinth: Love builds up but knowledge puffs up. In the words of Ps Brian (Houston), I would rather be a song writer, not a song critic; a church builder, not a church critic. Critics would have you join their band but there is no melody, no room for symphony, no tolerance for different instruments. Their noise is tuned to a repetitive theme with broken sticks and an emptiness of soul. Don't be drawn in by the loud abrupt tone that always reveals their intensions. Instead, open your eyes to the exuberant colour of God's kingdom of light and your ears to the vibrant sounds of His Heavenly majesty which is clearly displayed in all He is doing! People are amazing and broad in their differences. Let love prevail and His grace abound!

Joel's philosophical observations sound nice and even has a bit of a Bible verse thrown in for good measure. But does this thinking stand up to the whole scope of Scripture, and furthermore, is it a preacher's way of trying to immunize himself from biblical critique?

On June 5 2010 I posted this response on Joel's blog:

Dear Joel, you are right that the tone and motive of criticism matters. But Scripture also mandates biblical critique of teaching. Criticism based upon a love for the purity of the once for all delivered faith should be listened to. What follows is factual criticism that I raised with Hillsong church several months ago and to my disappointment never really went anywhere. Those concerned didn't even want to discuss (at a theological level) the very serious allegations I brought forward. What follows is the mail that I sent which outlines some serious problems with how the gospel is publicly proclaimed by Hillsong as a whole. Joel, these comments are not aimed specifically at you as you cannot know every facet of the inner workings of an organization as large as Hillsong. But I would appreciate if you took them seriously, and had the courage to post this letter in your comments section. This is not a witch hunt - this is an attempt at rectifying a serious flaw concerning God's means of saving sinners.
On Wednesday December 30th 2009 I wrote the following mail to Hillsong's prayer@hillsong.com address which is supposed to be for non-Christians with questions:

"To whom it may concern,

I recently read through the CD liner notes of your "Hillsong Live - Mighty To Save" CD. In it I found an explanation on how to become a Christian.

Here is what it said:

"Our prayer is that you would discover the Author of Love . . . Jesus. His life and death represent the greatest gift of love the world will ever see . . . a gift for you. All you need to do is accept it . . . a brand new start to a life lived in relationship with God. Meeting God is as simple as praying a prayer . . . asking Jesus to meet you right where you are. If you are not sure that you know God, and that you are going to heaven, then make this your prayer today . . .

Dear Lord Jesus

I need You . . . I need Your grace to forgive me and I need your love to change me. Thank You for your amazing love. Thank You for giving me life and eternity. But above all, thank you for dying on the cross for me.

I accept You as my Lord and Saviour. Now I'm a Christian, which means You live in me.

I belong to You. I will live my life for You and I will love You forever . . . Amen."

Now I am concerned about several things lacking in this presentation including Who God is, defining what sin is, that we must all be judged, and why Christ needed to die on the cross. These all give me great cause for concern with the gospel you are proclaiming. But I want to zero in on one particular issue. On your website you have a statement of "what we believe" which says this:

We believe that in order to receive forgiveness and the 'new birth' we must repent of our sins, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and submit to His will for our lives. (http://myhillsong.com/what-we-believe)

Can you please explain to me why repentance is never mentioned in the gospel presentation in the CD's you sell but your website says that "in order to receive forgiveness and the 'new birth' we must repent of our sins"? Can you tell me which one is the correct?

Adding to this I noticed on the back cover of the CD liner notes a quotation of 2 Chronicles 7:14 which says:

if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

By checking in my Bible I found this verse to be incomplete and is missing the words in CAPITAL LETTERS:

if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face AND TURN FROM THEIR WICKED WAYS, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Can you explain to me why you deleted the line from that verse that speaks specifically about repentance? I hope you agree that it is very serious indeed to add to or delete information from sacred Scripture.

I am very concerned about this. I'm sure you would agree that the stakes are high and it is imperative that we get the Gospel right. Eternal destinies hang in the balance. The Apostle Paul said:

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:8-9)

I would appreciate your response as to where Hillsong church actually stands on repentance and that you would promptly ammend your website or the CD liner notes that you publish. I am writing to you first to give you opportunity to clarify your position.

Sincerely
Cameron Buettel"


To his credit Joel did post my comment and also responded. The dialogue will continue on Friday . . .

Go On To Part 2

Monday, September 20, 2010

Why Hillsong Should Invite Shai Linne

The lamentable state of the modern evangelical landscape is strongly evidenced by the abundance of preachers who prefer deism to depravity, therapy to theology, psychology to penal substitutionary atonement, and Dr Phil to doctrine. This lack of faithful Gospel preaching is a regular source of discussion on this blog and with good reason - it lies at the hub of an apostate wheel.

If you are like me then you need to come up for air at these times and be edified by something that is God glorifying and full of redemptive quality. I stumbled upon this video several days ago where "reformed rapper", Shai Linne, recites a poem and then launches into a short sermon. Whether rap is your thing or not this is so worth the listen because of the content . . .



How great it would be for Hillsong to invite Shai Linne to one of their conferences so that he could teach them the Gospel! They need a lot of help in this area . . .

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Just Added - The Jesus You Can't Ignore

This expose on the hostile interactions between Jesus and the Pharisees has just been added to my resource directory!

THE JESUS YOU CAN'T IGNORE
John Macarthur

Category: Apologetics
Click Here To Order
If you’ve ever wondered how to deal with false teachers and their bad theology, where better to look than Jesus and His example. So how did Jesus deal with religious leaders who taught error and rejected the gospel? Did He seek common doctrinal ground and engage in dialogue? Did He soften and adapt the gospel so it wouldn’t confront or make them uncomfortable? In this book, John MacArthur explores the Lord’s many personal, often explosive encounters with the influential teachers of His day. You’ll see how both Jesus’ message and His manner have direct application for believers who love truth in this age of accommodation and compromise.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Nature Of True Repentance

Following on from my previous post where Thomas Watson explained counterfeit repentance. But that still leaves the question as to the nature of true repentance. Much modern preaching has reduced repentance to a change of mind without a change of action. This has been the major catalyst in accomodating professed conversion all the while making no demands to abandon our former sinful carnal lives. Can you imagine an adulterer returning to his wife and telling her that he has "changed his mind" and wants to move back home - and not only that, but that his mistress may also move in with them? Yet this is a very good representation of what we see going on in the world of seeker sensitive mega-churches loaded with people who have "walked to an altar" but refuse to walk with God. When the reformers taught "faith alone" they were talking about a repentant faith. Jesus taught that we cannot share allegience with Him and the world (Matthew 6:24).

Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. (Isaiah 55:7)

Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. (Proverbs 28:13)

John the Baptist understood this:

He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." And the crowds asked him, "What then shall we do?" And he answered them, "Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise." Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, "Teacher, what shall we do?" And he said to them, "Collect no more than you are authorized to do." Soldiers also asked him, "And we, what shall we do?" And he said to them, "Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages." (Luke 3:7-14)

Jesus demanded it:

There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." (Luke 13:1-5)

It is something that God causes:

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 . . . . Then you will remember your evil ways, and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominations. (Ezekiel 36:25-27,31)

Thomas Watson described the following three ingredients of genuine repentance:

Ingredient I: Sight of Sin
The first part of Christ's physic is eye-salve (Acts 26:18). It is the great thing noted in the prodigal's repentance: `he came to himself' (Luke 15:17). He saw himself a sinner and nothing but a sinner. Before a man can come to Christ he must first come to himself. Solomon, in his description of repentance, considers this as the first ingredient: `if they shall bethink themselves' (1 Kings 8:47). A man must first recognize and consider what his sin is, and know the plague of his heart before he can be duly humbled for it. The first creature God made was light. So the first thing in a penitent is illumination: `Now ye are light in the Lord' (Ephesians 5:8). The eye is made both for seeing and weeping. Sin must first be seen before it can be wept for.

Ingredient 2: Sorrow for Sin
I will be sorry for my sin (Psalm 38:18) Ambrose calls sorrow the embittering of the soul. The Hebrew word `to be sorrowful' signifies `to have the soul, as it were, crucified'. This must be in true repentance: `They shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn' (Zechariah 12:10), as if they did feel the nails of the cross sticking in their sides. A woman may as well expect to have a child without pangs as one can have repentance without sorrow. He that can believe without doubting, suspect his faith; and he that can repent without sorrowing, suspect his repentance.

Ingredient 3: Confession of Sin
Sorrow is such a vehement passion that it will have vent. It vents itself at the eyes by weeping and at the tongue by confession: `The children of Israel stood and confessed their sins (Nehemiah 9:2). `I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence' (Hosea 5:15); it is a metaphor alluding to a mother who, when she is angry, goes away from the child and hides her face till the child acknowledges its fault and begs pardon.

How often does God call upon us to turn to him? He swears, `As I live, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways' (Ezekiel 33:11). God would rather have our repenting tears than our blood.

Turning to God makes for our profit. Our repentance is of no benefit to God, but to ourselves. If a man drinks of a fountain he benefits himself, not the fountain. If he beholds the light of the sun, he himself is refreshed by it, not the sun. If we turn from our sins to God, God is not advantaged by it. It is only we ourselves who reap the benefit. In this case self-love should prevail with us: `If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself' (Proverbs 9:12).

If we turn to God, he will turn to us. He will turn his anger from us, and his face to us. It was David's prayer, `O turn unto me, and have mercy upon me' (Psalm 86:16). Our turning will make God turn: `Turn ye unto me, saith the Lord, and I will turn unto you' (Zechariah 1:3). He who was an enemy will turn to be our friend. If God turns to us, the angels are turned to us. We shall have their tutelage and guardianship (Psalm 91:11). If God turns to us, all things shall turn to our good, both mercies and afflictions; we shall taste honey at the end of the rod. (online source)


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

ATTN Ted Haggard: Thomas Watson Explains Counterfeit Repentance

Ted Haggard's bizarre claim that he had "over-repented" was discussed in my previous post. Todd Friel was able to share his valuable insight that if true repentance is a 180 degree turn then "over-repentance" may well be a 360 degree turn! Ted Haggard would do well to go looking in Todd Friel's Wretched store and order Thomas Watson's classic book The Doctrine Of Repentance.

Here is an excerpt where Watson explains counterfeit repentance (these are sobering words for all of us):

To discover what true repentance is, I shall first show what it is not. There are several deceits of repentance which might occasion that saying of Augustine that `repentance damns many'. He meant a false repentance; a person may delude himself with counterfeit repentance.

1. The first deceit of repentance is legal terror.
A man has gone on long in sin. At last God arrests him, shows him what desperate hazard he has run, and he is filled with anguish. Within a while the tempest of conscience is blown over, and he is quiet. Then he concludes that he is a true penitent because he has felt some bitterness in sin. Do not be deceived: this is not repentance. Ahab and Judas had some trouble of mind. It is one thing to be a terrified sinner and another to be a repenting sinner. Sense of guilt is enough to breed terror. Infusion of grace breeds repentance. If pain and trouble were sufficient to repentance, then the damned in hell should be most penitent, for they are most in anguish. Repentance depends upon a change of heart. There may be terror, yet with no change of heart.

2. Another deceit about repentance is resolution against sin.
A person may purpose and make vows, yet be no penitent. `Thou saidst, I will not transgress' (Jeremiah 2:20). Here was a resolution; but see what follows: `under every green tree thou wanderest, playing the harlot'. Notwithstanding her solemn engagements, she played fast and loose with God and ran after her idols. We see by experience what protestations a person will make when he is on his sick-bed, if God should recover him again; yet he is as bad as ever. He shows his old heart in a new temptation.

Resolutions against sin may arise:
(1) From present extremity; not because sin is sinful, but because it is painful. This resolution will vanish.
(2) From fear of future evil, an apprehension of death and hell: `I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him' (Revelation 6:8). What will not a sinner do, what vows will he not make, when he knows he must die and stand before the judgment-seat? Self-love raises a sick-bed vow, and love of sin will prevail against it. Trust not to a passionate resolution; it is raised in a storm and will die in a calm.

3. The third deceit about repentance is the leaving of many sinful ways.
It is a great matter, I confess, to leave sin. So dear is sin to a man that he will rather part with a child than with a lust: `Shall I give the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?' (Micah 6:7). Sin may be parted with, yet without repentance.
(1) A man may part with some sins and keep others, as Herod reformed many things that were amiss but could not leave his incest.
(2) An old sin may be left in order to entertain a new, as you put off an old servant to take another. This is to exchange a sin. Sin may be exchanged and the heart remained unchanged. He who was a prodigal in his youth turns usurer in his old age. A slave is sold to a Jew; the Jew sells him to a Turk. Here the master is changed, but he is a slave still. So a man moves from one vice to another but remains a sinner still.
(3) A sin may be left not so much from strength of grace as from reasons of prudence. A man sees that though such a sin be for his pleasure, yet it is not for his interest. It will eclipse his credit, prejudice his health, impair his estate. Therefore, for prudential reasons, he dismisses it. True leaving of sin is when the acts of sin cease from the infusion of a principle of grace, as the air ceases to be dark from the infusion of light.


In my next post I will discuss some of the things Thomas Watson had to say about the nature of true repentance.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Ted Haggard "Over-Repented"?????

It would seem that I am not alone in being shocked by Ted Haggard's "over-repentance" as quoted in the postscript of my recent post. How exactly does someone "over-repent"? Well Todd Friel shared a fascinating insight into what Ted may be talking about . . .



Sincere repentance is a result of a Holy Spirit wrought transformation of an individual. Ezekiel described the conversion experience that Jesus was talking about when He said that we must be born again (John 3:3,7):

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. (Ezekiel 36:25-27)

Ezekiel then goes on to describe some of the results of the Holy Spirit's regenerative work in a lost sinner:

Then you will remember your evil ways, and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominations. (Ezekiel 36:31)

The Apostle Paul said that it is godly sorrow that leads to repentance (2 Corinthians 7:8-11). Worldly sorrow leads to death. We all sin, but not everyone repents. Next time we have sin exposed in our lives we should examine ourselves and ask the question whether we are sorry for offending God or sorry that we got caught (or sorry for the negative human consequences). This is the difference between godly and worldly sorrow.

Ultimately, our depravity is so radical that true repentance can only come as a gift from God as Ezekiel revealed (Ezekiel 36:31) and as we see in the book of Acts (Acts 11:18). We can only hope and pray that Ted Haggard will find true repentance all the while being mindful of our own lives.

He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. (Proverbs 28:13)

. . . but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word. (Isaiah 66:2b)

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise. For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem. Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar. (Psalm 51)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Just Added - Foxes Book Of Martyrs

This monumental collection of martyr testimonies has just been added to my resource directory!

FOXES BOOK OF MARTYRS
John Foxe

Category: Persecution
Click Here To Order
This is a book that will never die - one of the great English classics. It brings to life the days when "a noble army, men and boys, the matron and the maid," "climbed the steep ascent of heaven, 'mid peril, toil, and pain." "After the Bible itself, no book so profoundly influenced early Protestant sentiment as the Book of Martyrs. Even in our time it is still a living force. It is more than a record of persecution. It is an arsenal of controversy, a storehouse of romance, as well as a source of edification."

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Ted Haggard vs Biblical Repentance

Some of you will remember the "Ted Haggard scandal" of more than three years ago. He was the pastor of one of the largest mega churches in America and the leader of the powerful National Alliance of Evangelicals. He was a spokesman for conservative Christian America and even had the ear of George Bush. But the dreadful secret of his double life came to the surface when a male prostitute decided to blow the whistle on Haggard's secret homosexual life. Haggard disappeared off the radar after "resigning" from all of his positions. I was hopeful that he would find true repentance and live the rest of his days in obscurity.

Unfortunately that was not the case. Last year, Haggard emerged from obscurity and generated a media circus doing a lot of interviews and giving "his side of the story". Today I have posted two videos. The first one is of Ted Haggard being interviewed by Larry King. The second video is of another person who has struggled with the same area of sin as Haggard. The point here is not sin nor do I wish to focus on this. I have one hand wrapped around the giant redwood tree protruding from my eye as I write this post. The real issue here is true repentance. An extension of that is the issue about God being glorified through our brokenness. Watch these two videos and see if you can "spot the repentance" and decide for yourself which video is most God glorifying.





What makes the Gospel so glorious is the contrast between God's Holiness and our utter depravity. Rationalising behavior only serves to blur that gulf and deprives God of the glory He can get out of changing someone's life.

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).

And for the record, the guy in the second video is my hero! That is a big part of what being a real man is all about. Glorifying God in human weakness, taking the full blown blame for sinful actions rather than painting yourself as a victim, and renouncing sin as insidiously evil rather than taking the edges off it. Good on ya Jason - amen and amen!

Postscript

Just recently (July 24, 2010) Haggard was quoted in the Wall Street Journal where he:

acknowledged grave lapses of judgment in the episode he refers to as "my crisis." But Mr. Haggard also said that in his sorrow and shame, he accepted too much guilt after the scandal broke. "I over-repented," he said.

Haggard's innovations don't seem to end with re-inventing himself as a victim. He is also using his time inventing new words like "over-repented". What that means or how it is possible completely eludes me. I know some people will call for my blood over my "insensitive" and "uncaring" comments. Let me be clear, I am not trying to position myself as better than anyone else. What I am saying is that true repentance comes from godly sorrow over sin, not therapeutic excuses. Haggard presses on however and has even planted a new church in Colorado Springs (of all the places to choose) repositioning himself as a victimized pastor ministering to hurting people. Portraying ourselves as victims when we have sinned may court the favor of the media but it does not capture God's merciful attention:

But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word. (Isaiah 66:2)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Just Added - Safe In The Arms Of God

This book for grieving parents of who have miscarried or lost a child has just been added to my resource directory!

SAFE IN THE ARMS OF GOD
John Macarthur

Category: Parenting
Click Here To Order
Every parent who has lost a child has dealt with disturbing, haunting questions. Why my child? Where is my baby now? Will I ever see my child again? Renowned Bible expositor John MacArthur tackles the question of infant death (in the womb or following birth) in his trademark style--with detailed attention to Scriptures that hold the answers. No death occurs apart from the purposes of God, MacArthur assures readers, just as no life occurs apart from the purposes of God. With a pastor's heart, he leads readers to an understanding of the eternal destination of these precious little ones. His conclusion: Babies - and anyone else who has not reached the condition of accountability - go to heaven when they die, and there will, indeed, be a time of blessed reunion with these souls. This is a beautiful and comforting apologetic on the eternal destiny of souls with an all too brief sojourn on this planet.