Friday, December 31, 2010

An Emergent Critiques My Sermon - My Life In Denmark (Part 18)

After the events that transpired in my previous post I eventually received some feedback from one of the camp leaders. I am posting some of this correspondence today because I believe it may be helpful in recognizing the winds of pragmatism, popular psychology, and self esteem philosophy that are blowing hard in opposition to straightforward biblical theology. This is a pervasive problem and the following correspondence is in no way meant to be a shot at the individual who wrote the mail. His approach is merely a product of these prevailing winds in modern evangelicalism, and perhaps even more so, within the emergent movement. The correspondence in question contains some personal discussion which is unnecessary in this forum and as such, I am posting small portions in italics followed by my responses in bold and my quotations in bold italics. There is also some additional commentary in CAPITALS.

I am a fan of Ray Comfort whom you also quote on your webpage, so in many ways I personally agree on your teaching but there are also something that I do not agree on. I do like that you are firm and direct in your preaching but when you are speaking such a strong message to young people then I would say that you have to talk a lot more grace as well.

I spoke more about God's grace than any other speaker I heard at the camp. Also remember that the first message (though it did focus on the cross) plowed the soil for the second message which was about the meaning of the cross (my favorite subject). What is grace? It is God's undeserved favor. Why don't we deserve it? Because we are people who have sinned wickedly against a good God and we deserve his fierce wrath. God doesn't love people for who they are, He loves them inspite of who they are. Anyone who claims to preach the grace of God without preaching the wrath of God is a liar or deceived. Grace has no meaning without the context of God's wrath. That is why Paul Washer and Ray Comfort are some of the strongest grace preachers I have ever heard.

Martin Luther said in his Galatian commentaries that:

Satan the god of all dissension stirs up daily new sects. And last of all which of all others I should never have foreseen or once suspected, he has raised up a sect such as teach that men should not be terrified by the law, but gently exhorted by the preaching of the grace of Christ.

The grace of God is one of the most precious subjects I love to talk about. The more sin hardened a culture is the more their hearts need to be plowed with the law of God before they can ever see His grace. Try asking someone if they think that it would be fair and reasonable for a good God to damn them to hell? Try asking most church-goers. Few in Denmark say yes to this and that is exactly the problem. If you can't see the problem how can you ever see the solution of God's grace. Furthermore how will it ever become meaningful? The grace of God is clearly seen in the Christ's substitutionary death on the cross in which he bore the sin of the sinner so that the sinner can bare the righteousness of Christ. How can that ever have any value to a person who cannot see their own unrighteousness.

One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner." And Jesus answering said to him, "Simon, I have something to say to you." And he answered, "Say it, Teacher."

"A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?" Simon answered, "The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt." And he said to him, "You have judged rightly." Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little." (Luke 7:37-47)

Many of our teenagers are not brought up in Christian families and do not automatically know what the Love of God means or Gods grace just by a preacher saying Jesus died for you, because he loves you. When that sentence is comming right after 40 min. of hell fire brimstone then it is difficult to be encouraged to come to the cross with your sins.

I would also contend that it was not 40 minutes of hellfire preaching. Hell was one of many subjects I discussed. The reason many notice it is because they almost never hear about it.

I want them to acknowledge that sin is wrong and is having the consequence of seperating us from God

Hell is not separation from God. Those in hell are tormented in the presence of Christ:

And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, "If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name." (Revelation 14:9-11)

I also want to preach a thousand times that Jesus is the friend of sinners and that His Love is never failing and is never ending. It is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance. That is what the Bible teaches and that is what I experience.

The kindness of God that leads to repentance is actually a part of a verse in Romans 2. The context is that God's kindness is defined in His patience and forbearance - that He delays His wrath giving us time to repent. That is exactly what I was preaching. Furthermore, Paul goes onto tell the Corinthians that godly sorrow (sorry because I sinned against God) leads to repentance but worldly sorrow (sorry because of the consequences) leads to death. If we want to see true repentance we need to cultivate godly sorrow and that is done by starting with preaching the Holiness of God, the sinfulness of man, and the coming judgment which is the sequence Paul follows in his letter to the Romans.

Luther himself said that:

The first duty of the Gospel preacher is to declare God's moral law and to show the nature of sin.

Paul Washer had this to say (click here) on the subject.

Actually I think that you could have an even stronger message by diving into the individual sins and how they are changing our chraracter and in that way isolating us from both God and people. Really specify the nature of sin and then use a lot of time on how we as the body of Christ can help each other instead with discipleship to walk to the cross, confess our sin and turn away from it.

Thank you for this critique. It is difficult with the limited time to delve into some of these issues. But I made a conscious decision to address our personal responsibility to cry out to God in brokenness and desperate need. We can certainly help other believers in their war against sin. But those who have not been regenerated by the Holy Spirit need that before any human being can provide any Spiritual help. Until we are regenerated the Scripture pronounces us dead in trespasses and sin and in need of a resurrection. And there were clearly people there in the meeting who were not Christians.

As I mentioned, I am encouraged that you have planted your own church, but there is also a part of me that is concerned when a Christian brother like you won't attend and strengthen existing churches.

You don't know the full story here so I will inform you about what has taken place and why we planted a church. Since moving to Denmark my family and I have attended and visited a lot of different "churches". The local Pentecostal pastor did not want me talking to anyone about sin and refused to even discuss it over the Scriptures. The local Baptist church did not even believe that the Bible is God's inspired Word. The Methodist pastor turned out to be a universalist (everyone goes to heaven). The Inner Mission Lutherans taught my daughter that it was baptism that would save her. And the Lutheran priest supported homosexual marriage. I am a reasonable man but these are not small issues. I can work with people, I can submit to authority, I can lay down my agenda for the sake of unity. But truth must never be sacrificed at the altar of unity.

Ultimately, this is about the Gospel. In all my travels to many different churches for over 3 years in Denmark I have only ever heard three faithful Gospel proclamations - two were by visiting preachers and the third guy was never allowed to preach again. I don't say this lightly - this is a disaster! There is no more pressing matter in Denmark right now that Gospel purity and Gospel proclamation. According to Luther and the reformers, any church that does not preach the Gospel and faithfully teach the Bible is not a church. For the sake of being a godly husband and father, for the sake of obeying God's command to integrate into a community of believers - it was necessary to plant a church. I would love for you to prove me wrong and send me audios of faithful gospel preaching around Denmark. If you do this I will gladly promote these churches and do everything I can to work together with them.

I know that Christians will never agree 100% on doctrine and teaching but we are still called to unity with one another. We also need unity to get a revival to our nation.

I attend a Reformed Baptist church but I never used a moment during the camp to argue my position on baptism with Lutherans. Why - for the sake of unity. But when it comes to the Gospel there can be no compromise. Not preaching the Gospel, or changing it, is a sure way to avoid revival. I long for revival which is why I poured my heart out at the camp.


I have often read articles from Rene and felt very sad and frustrated afterwards. There are roughly no righteous christians on the planet besides him. Where is the UNITY in Christ ?????

I don't mind you criticizing my friend Rene but you should not do this unless you are willing to back up what you are saying about him. You need to give me some examples of what Rene has said that was wrong or untrue. I promise you, if you can show me something Rene said that was false or unbiblical then I will speak with him and get him to remove it from his blog and get him to make a public apology (I have already spoken with Rene and he has agreed to this challenge). And also, please show me where Rene has proclaimed himself as someone more righteous than anyone else.


You also asked "Where is the UNITY in Christ". To that I would have to say that my experience of Rene is that he is someone who fights for unity in the way Paul commanded in Romans 16:17:

Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.

Paul here is saying that we should "mark" or point out false teachers because it is they who cause division (ie destroy Christian unity) by teaching doctrine contrary to Scripture. Take Brian McLaren for example who was being heavily promoted at your camp. Rene is pointing him out as a false teacher because he denies the atonement, denies that Jesus is the only way, denies a literal Hell, and denies the authority of Scripture. These are teachings that cause division among true Christians and are particularly harmful to our impressionable youth. I would ask your fellow leaders about their concern for Christian unity when they promote books by authors who preach a different gospel to the true Gospel found in Scripture. When Rene is one of the few people willing to point out heretics like McLaren (all the while comparing it to the true Gospel), he becomes one of the few people fighting for true Christian unity.

Furthermore, I even heard some leaders at the camp have an open discussion with the youth where they answered questions. Where Scripture had a clear cut answer I heard one of them give his own opinion instead which was directly translated "there are no right or wrong answers to this question". This sort of talk does not promote unity - it is postmodern anarchy.

We do what is possible and God what is impossible

Actually, Jesus said "without me you can do nothing" (John 15:5).

Go On To Part 19
Go Back To Part 17
Go Back To Part 1

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Postmodernism And Flying Pigs - My Life In Denmark (Part 17)

The camp discussed in my previous post was a surreal experience in many ways. It was a Lutheran camp but the leaders knew virtually nothing of what Luther wrote and taught. The camp was run by an arm of the Danish Lutheran movement that is heavily immersed in the teachings of prominent emergent leaders like Brian McLaren - and they invited a bare knuckle reformed preacher like myself to come and minister to them. Not only that, but I was asked to deliver three messages! I don't live under a rock and am well aware that I lived on a different theological planet to these people, and as such, the likelihood of sermons number two and three ever seeing the light of day after sermon one landed on their postmodern table was as likely as Rick Warren getting invited to speak at John Piper's conference . . . hey what's that! Is it a bird? is it a plane? No it's a . . .

Well, it seems that pigs actually can fly! Warren did get invited by John Piper (more about that next week)! And I was preparing three sermons for this "emergent Lutheran" camp. Welcome to the bizarre world of 21st century evangelicalism - just last night I heard John Macarthur preach a topical sermon about making the Bible more relevant by not preaching from it while he rode his Harley onto the stage . . . . . . . but that was just a scary dream! The rest, however, was all true.

I decided the best approach for a clear conscience on my part, was to be explicitly clear about my opposition to the emergent teachers these Lutheran leaders were reading (if the words "enemies of the Gospel" qualify as explicit). I also sent transcripts of all three sermons months in advance so that they would have plenty of prior warning thinking this may deter them. But the flying pig still arrived on my doorstep with the preaching invitation in his mouth and I headed out to the camp fearful in my desire to faithfully deliver Christ's beautiful Gospel but fearless with regards to the reception that may await.

After delivering my first sermon, which can be heard on my previous post, it was readily apparent that a bomb had been dropped. I knew it was a jolt to the audience who were not used to hearing about subjects like God's wrath, judgment, our sinful nature, penal substitutionary atonement, and true repentance. And several third party sources informed me of the strong displeasure certain leaders had at the content of my sermon. But not a single leader at the camp gave me any critique or feedback. The fact that my first sermon was loaded with Scripture and quotes by Luther probably made it difficult for them to censor me. It was also a problem that I had sent a transcript of the sermon months in advance. Nevertheless, the following morning I was informed about a "sudden change of plan" where they needed to have a different speaker on the Friday night when I was to deliver my final message. It would have been nice if they had informed me of this some time prior to the day before the event. Perhaps even prior to the many hours I spent preparing that particular sermon for that particular event. I was, of course, cynical as to whether they had given me the real reason for the change of plans. If there is one thing I have learnt about the "emergent conversation" it is an almost total lack of genuine communication.

After the camp I continually tried to get some feedback as to what was really going on and if the real reason for the late changes was mainly to do with the content of my final message. A response eventually came, albeit after a long wait, which I will discuss on my next post - on Friday.

Go On To Part 18
Go Back To Part 16
Go Back To Part 1

Monday, December 27, 2010

Preaching The Gospel At An Emergent Camp - My Life In Denmark (Part 16)

It is just after Christmas now and my Rick Warren at Desiring God series is about to launch next Monday. I recently concluded my Life in Denmark series but wanted to add three interesting appendices that didn't make it into the original 15 part series. I am posting the first of these today with a sermon I preached at an emergent camp and will follow it up on Wednesday with some interesting background information and then on Friday with some correspondence that took place after the event.

Sometimes the planets align in a bizarre way and this was certainly the case in July of this year. I was invited to speak at a large youth camp organized by a group of emergent/postmodern leaders in Denmark. In a strange turn of events certain people within this group started to get concerned with the accelerating decline into liberalism that authors like Brian McLaren were taking. There was also the growing problem of overtly sinful behavior that was getting even too much to bear for this liberal crowd. Someone connected to them recommended me as someone who knows Paul Washer and is a bit of a firey preacher. They somehow thought this might spice things up nicely and get people to tone down their rampant carnal behavior. I had a good sense of where these people were at theologically and tried to give them every reason to not invite me, including calling Brian McLaren and Rob Bell "enemies of the Gospel" and raging heretics who were poisoning their movement. I also told them what I would be preaching, if invited, and sent them postscripts in advance. Though taken aback by my un-Danish forthrightness, I was still invited. Strange I know!

I was nervous before I came, not because of preaching, but because of a heavy burden for so many false converts who need to be awakened to the pure Gospel and it's call to genuine repentance. I arrived to preach and without going into too much detail about the atmosphere and activities, I will only mention one example that paints enough of the picture - there were two openly practicing lesbians sitting in the front row unaware of what was coming.

Click here to hear the sermon, it also features a danish translator and has low volume so you'll need to crank up the sound on this one.

Go On To Part 17
Go Back To Part 15
Go Back To Part 1

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Bottom Line Christmas Message

The baby in the manger grew up. He came with a mission. He had the power to lay His life down and the power to take it up again. Why was this necessary? The Bottom Line presents to you my Christmas e-card . . .
Click Here To View and be sure to scroll down.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

8 Days of Christmas on The Bottom Line - Day 8

Today is the day my eager young children salivate over their impending gifts. I am reminded of the Lord's words to His disciples - "If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" (Luke 11:13).

May the delights of this world, so evident at this time of year, never blind us to the true riches found only in being born again with the indwelling of God's Holy Spirit. Well may we remind our children, that as much as we love to give them the desires of their hearts, it is ultimately only eternal things that matter. How wonderful it is to look "unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:2).

Go Back To Day 7
Go Back To Day 1

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

8 Days of Christmas on The Bottom Line - Day 7

Continued from yesterday.

Today is the seventh part of our 8 part series dissecting the famous Christmas carol "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" line by line to understand the underlying message of Christmas which has ultimately more to do with a rugged wooden cross than a manger in Bethlehem.

Yesterday we finished looking at the text of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen". What can we learn from this examination?

One thing we can learn is how oblivious we often are to the meaning of a song that becomes little more than Christmas tradition. Whenever we sing anything we should pause and ponder the theology behind it. We will one day give answer for every idle word we speak. Be careful what you proclaim. I can remember being at a gathering of Danish Christians once where they all stood to sing their national anthem. The only problem with this was that (as I sat and listened in disbelief) they proclaimed, in accordance with the song, that their homeland belongs to a false god called Freja.

Conversely with a song like "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" we can fall into the other ditch by ignoring the wonderful truths being proclaimed. That the Gospel is exceedingly good news. That this good news can only be properly understood in the light of a true grasp of our own depravity. That if Christ is a Savior then we had better know what we need saving from. That Christmas ultimately points to the cross of Jesus Christ as the pinnacle of human history. That the greatest gift will not be found under a shiny tree but at the foot of a blood stained wooden cross. That the greatest gift we can give will be wrapped in the lips of him who preaches this Gospel.

Go On To Day 8
Go Back To Day 6
Go Back To Day 1

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

8 Days of Christmas on The Bottom Line - Day 6

Continued from yesterday.

Today is the sixth part of our 8 part series dissecting the famous Christmas carol "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" line by line to understand the underlying message of Christmas which has ultimately more to do with a rugged wooden cross than a manger in Bethlehem.

The sixth line in the song is:

O tidings of comfort and joy, Comfort and joy, O tidings of comfort and joy

It is the “good news” that brings us tidings of comfort and joy. At Christmas 2000 years ago, God appeared in human form as a baby born in Israel. Jesus Christ came on a mission to fulfill the law that we had broken and then pay the penalty for our crimes with His own blood (II Corinthians 5:21). The cross He died on was meant for you and me. The only way God could make reconciliation possible was by living a perfect sinless life as a human and then paying for our sin with His own blood (I Peter 1:18-19). He then rose from the dead defeating the curse of sin and death because of His own righteousness (Romans 4:25) and ascended up into heaven to prepare a place for those who follow Him (John 14:2). God showed us His love in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). To receive God’s free gift of payment for our sin and inherit eternal life we must repent of our sin and put our complete trust in Him to save us (Acts 20:21) from His terrible day of judgement (Romans 5:9). To repent is to turn away from our sin and apologise to God with genuine sorrow. To trust in Him means to put our complete hope in Jesus work on the cross because no other prophet or religious leader has done that for you. Trust in Him like you would in a parachute when jumping from 10000 feet. If we confess our sin He is faithful to forgive us and clean us from all unrighteousness (I John 1:9). That is tidings of comfort and joy.

I hope and pray that you would consider these things as we approach the season when Christ was born.

You are in my prayers

Go On To Day 7
Go Back To Day 5
Go Back To Day 1

Monday, December 20, 2010

8 Days of Christmas on The Bottom Line - Day 5

Continued from yesterday.

Today is the fifth part of our 8 part series dissecting the famous Christmas carol "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" line by line to understand the underlying message of Christmas which has ultimately more to do with a rugged wooden cross than a manger in Bethlehem.

The fifth line in the song is:

When we were gone astray

Please bear with me as I labor this point because it is so important that we grasp what this line is saying.

People often ask the question that if there is a loving God then why is there so much evil in the world today? The problem with this question is that it is built upon a wrong view of humanity. The Bible tells us that many men “proclaim their own goodness” (Proverbs 20:6) and are “clean in their own eyes” (Proverbs 16:2) but that we have all “sinned and fallen short” (Romans 3:23) of God’s standard. This is far more serious than most of us realise. God, being good, is a just and righteous judge and He must punish the Hitlers, Stalins, and Bin Ladins of this world, otherwise He would be corrupt. Because we are all made in God’s image we crave justice to be done with the wrong things we see in this world. An infinite God must punish infinitely and that is why there is a Hell, and why Jesus warned so much about it (Matthew 10:28).

But when God’s judgement comes to this earth it won’t stop with murderers, rapists, and paedophiles. He must also deal with liars, thieves, blasphemers…… even every wrong thought. As painful as it is, it is always good to examine ourselves in the light of God’s justice system. Martin Luther said that we should hold up the mirror of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17) so we can see ourselves as we really are and what our real need is.

Have you ever lied? The Bible says that all liars will end up in Hell(Revelation 21:8). If that seems overly harsh then consider this: If I lie to my daughter there is nothing she can do to me. But if I lie to my wife then my sleeping arrangements are likely to shift from the bedroom to the garage. If I lie to my employer then I’ll probably get fired. If I lie to the government then I can end up in jail. Though the crime never changed in each situation, the level of punishment did in proportion to the level of authority being dealt with. How serious is it then to lie to an infinite and perfect God?

Have you ever stolen anything? The Bible says that no thief can inherit God’s kingdom (I Corinthians 6:10).

Have you ever used God’s name as a swear word? The Bible tells us that God will not hold anyone guiltless who blasphemes His Holy Name (Exodus 20:7). God will judge every word spoken.

Have you ever committed sexual immorality outside of the confines of marriage? Jesus took it even further to tell us that even a lustful thought makes us guilty of adultery of the heart (Matthew 5:28). God will even judge our thought life. Nothing is hidden from Him (Ecclesiastes 12:14).

If you are anything like me and have broken those four commandments then you are a liar, a thief, a blasphemer, and an adulterer at heart. And that is just four of the Ten Commandments. And here’s the killer punch, if you break just one commandment then you are guilty of all of them anyway (James 2:10). The line of the song “when we had gone astray” means that every single person has strayed from God because of our own exceeding sinfulness (Isaiah 53:6).

It was when I examined myself in the light of God’s standard that I realized that if God is good then He should send me to Hell for my crimes against Him. I stopped asking why there is so much evil in the world, and started asking why God has not yet poured out His judgement and justice on me already. And this is why, because it is not God’s will to send anyone to Hell (II Peter 3:9). God is holding back His judgement because He is merciful and giving us time to repent of our crimes against Him. He loves us so much that He made a way for us to be reconciled to Him and be “Saved” from His judgement (John 3:16). This is the amazing “good news”.

But how can we possibly be reconciled in the light of our crimes against God?

Continued tomorrow . . .

Go On To Day 6
Go Back To Day 4
Go Back To Day 1

Sunday, December 19, 2010

8 Days of Christmas on The Bottom Line - Day 4

Continued from yesterday.

Today is the fourth part of our 8 part series dissecting the famous Christmas carol "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" line by line to understand the underlying message of Christmas which has ultimately more to do with a rugged wooden cross than a manger in Bethlehem.

The fourth line in the song is:

To save us all from Satan’s power

Many of us have heard about the story of Adam and Eve. You may think of it as an amusing fairy tale. But Jesus spoke of Adam as a real person (Mark 10:6) who set in motion a disastrous chain of events. The Bible tells us that God made everything perfect in the beginning here on earth and He made Adam and Eve as the very first people to rule over this perfect world (Genesis 1). There was no death or suffering and EVERYTHING WAS GOOD. But Satan (or the Devil) was able to deceive the very first man and woman into rebelling against God and surrendering their rule here on earth (Genesis 3). This rebellion is what is sometimes called original sin. Sin is the breaking of God’s moral laws (I John 3:4) that He has set in place and written on our consciences (Romans 2:15). This sinfulness became mankind’s nature and was passed on from generation to generation. It is the virus that contaminates the whole human race including you and me (Romans 3:23). It is revealed when our thoughts, words, and actions violate our own conscience. Even one of Jesus’ well known followers said “why is it that I continually do what I know is wrong and continually avoid doing what I know is right” (Romans 7:15). The problem of the human heart is the heart of the human problem. The Bible tells us that sin is the reason that we all die (Ezekiel 18:4). Jesus came to save us from Satan’s power which is the curse of sin and death.

But how was that possible?

Continued tomorrow . . .

Go On To Day 5
Go Back To Day 3
Go Back To Day 1

Saturday, December 18, 2010

8 Days of Christmas on The Bottom Line - Day 3

Continued from yesterday.

Today is the third part of our 8 part series dissecting the famous Christmas carol "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" line by line to understand the underlying message of Christmas which has ultimately more to do with a rugged wooden cross than a manger in Bethlehem.

The third line in the song is:

Remember Christ our Saviour was born on Christmas day

In a festive season now overrun with commercialism, many people have forgotten the first six letters of the word Christmas. Christ is the reason for the season. Jesus Christ was and is God, the creator of the universe, appearing in human form (John 1:1,14). That’s right, God walked on this planet over just over 2000 years ago. This song describes Him as our Saviour. This should prompt the question “save or rescue us from what?” A surf lifeguard is sometimes referred to as a rescuer. Even though he is a rescuer, the person who needs rescuing usually has to realise they are in trouble before they call for help. The same goes for us as people. We all need to have our eyes opened to the very serious problem that faces each and everyone of us before we too can cry out to be rescued or “saved”. So what is this serious problem?

Continued tomorrow . . .

Go On To Day 4
Go Back To Day 2
Go Back To Day 1

Friday, December 17, 2010

8 Days of Christmas on The Bottom Line - Day 2

Continued from yesterday.

Today is the second part of our 8 part series dissecting the famous Christmas carol "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" line by line to understand the underlying message of Christmas which has ultimately more to do with a rugged wooden cross than a manger in Bethlehem.

The second line in the song is:

Let nothing you dismay

Nothing lasts forever and sadness and grief will inevitably come our way. For many, our joy comes from the relationships we have with those we love. But the truth of the ultimate statistic (that one out of one people die (Hebrews 9:27)) will ultimately track us down during the course of our lives and bring to an end that which we cherish most. The line “let nothing you dismay” is telling us that this “good news” can override any disaster or tragedy that will strike us in this life. In a world where everything good seems only temporary, the joy of this song is built on something everlasting that death can never take away.

Go On To Day 3
Go Back To Day 1

Thursday, December 16, 2010

8 Days of Christmas on The Bottom Line - Day 1

I wish to extend warm greetings to you and your family this Christmas. This is a time of year when people often stop and reflect on the big questions in life. As a Christian it is a time of year that has great significance to me and this year feel greatly convicted to articulate what Christmas is all about. I hope and pray that you would take the time to consider these eternal truths that concern each and every one of us.

The Christmas Carol “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” really captures the true message and meaning of Christmas. You have probably heard this Christmas Carol sung many times throughout your life. It often seems that when we sing songs as ritual or tradition we fail to stop and reflect on the words we are speaking and what they really mean. Would you be so kind as to take the time to journey with me for several minutes and examine the meaning and the message of this timeless song.

God rest ye merry, Gentlemen

A modern reading of this line could say “God make you mighty, gentlemen”. It is an uplifting statement of good news. The message of Jesus Christ is often referred to as the “Good News”. This song actually explains what this unbelievable good news is. But the “good news” makes no sense without understanding the “bad news” and so it is with this song.

Continued tomorrow - Day 2

Go On To Day 2

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Rick Warren's Punishment For Gluttons

Rick Warren's sermon at Desiring God has huge ramifications for those of us who call ourselves reformed. Have we blurred the lines on what we are willing to tolerate? In our zealous efforts to be civil and amicable do we throw all combativeness out the window? If it is tolerated at the epicenter will it be embraced at the outer reaches of the fall out zone? Exactly where are the lines and what does one have to do to cross them? Where will those of us who live in the land of apostasy go for a discernment benchmark? Does this mean that we may see a growing tendency not to witness to people who say they are Christians but preach a different Gospel?

What are we to do with Bible verses like:

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

Galatians 1:8-9 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.

Ephesians 5:11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.

1 Timothy 5:20 Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.

2 Timothy 4:2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.

Titus 3:10 A man that is an heretic after thefirst and second admonition reject;

Titus 1:13 This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;

Jude 1:3-4 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Does Rick Warren preach another gospel and, if so, what response does that warrant from true shepherds like Dr. Piper?

Starting in the new year (January 3) we will launch straight into some more in-depth analysis of Rick Warren's "message" preached at the 2010 Desiring God conference. I believe there is much that is beneficial to be learnt from Warren - particularly what not to preach. We will learn about the pervasive seductiveness of moralism, how a wrong view of conversion perverts your preaching, and how to listen with discernment so we can detect whether a message is gospel-centered or man-centered.

Christmas is upon us and I plan to repost my Christmas evangelism series from two years ago that will run each day for the next 9 days up until Christmas. Christmas is a great time to evangelize and if you don't have any good tools then I want to offer this series as a interesting and thought provoking Gospel presentation for unbelievers.

But because there are some readers who are truly gluttons for punishment, I will leave you all with this entree for my upcoming series starting January 3rd 2010. Chris Rosebrough is not everybody's cup of tea but he was more than willing to dive into this debate and offer 2 hours of blow by blow analysis. For the punishment gluttons, feast on this:

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Rick Warren Disaster At Desiring God

It's now two months since Rick Warren's highly controversial appearance (if you count a pre-recorded video as an appearance) at John Piper's 2010 Desiring God conference. A lot of the dust has settled, and a lot of the hot blooded blogging has died down. Straight after Christmas I will be launching a series of in depth examination of Warren's sermon at Desiring God. Why is this necessary? Because Warren represents a subtle yet highly dangerous threat to reformed circles when someone like John Piper gives him any credibility whatsoever.

Because of Warren's Purpose Driven plague that infiltrated countless churches around the world, many pastors lost their jobs because of their refusal to abandon a lifetime of preaching for "40 days of purpose". This has had a massive detrimental impact on mainstream evangelicalism. We all hoped that John Piper would at least take Warren to task with some hard hitting probing questions and critique. But none of this happened as Warren's sermon received two bizarre "deer in the headlights" commendations from John Piper and Burk Parsons. These commendations were strangely contrary to so much of Piper's outstanding teaching and preaching. It just seems that there a so many great preachers out there who are unwilling to step across the line into a combat zone with false teachers for the sake of their 21st century sensibilities.

As we step into the new year I hope that we will all learn a great deal, and sharpen our discernment as to the many popular ideas that sound biblical but are actually nothing more than popular psychology. We will also see more clearly the need for a willingness to mark sharp lines of division when it comes to associations and fellowship.

But for now here is some of Todd Friel's feedback on the sermon in question:

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Just Added - What Did Jesus Do

Ray Comfort's book concerning Jesus' use of the Mosaic law has now been added to my resource directory!

Ray Comfort

Category: Evangelism
Click Here To Order
Rather than wonder “What would Jesus do?” we should look to the Scripture to see: What Did Jesus Do? Why did He use a radically different approach than that of the modern Church when it came to reaching the lost? Paul imitated Jesus, working for “the profit of many, that they may be saved.” Then he admonished, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). James obeyed that command. So did Stephen, Peter, John, and Jude. So did Charles Spurgeon, John Wesley, George Whitefield, Martin Luther, D.L. Moody, and many others through the ages. This book serves as an abbreviated form of Ray Comfort's foundational teaching as found in "Way of the Master" with a strong emphasis on the correct usage of law and grace when presenting the Gospel.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Kristuskirken Reformed Baptist Church Of Denmark - My Life In Denmark (Part 15)

I am proud to attend and be associated with Kristuskirken which is the first Reformed Baptist Church to be planted in Denmark. Kristuskirken is a church which preaches Christ crucified without apology. A church where the Bible is the sole rule for all matters of life, faith, and practice. Kristuskirken is a church that recognizes the Holiness of God, the utter sinfulness of all men, the reality of God's wrath, the constant danger of hell, the necessity of the Christ's death as a penal substitute on the cross, the exclusivity of Jesus Christ, the call on all men everywhere to repent of their wickedness, and the glorious eternal hope for those who put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ - Who is the resurrected Savior.

Kristuskirken was formed in November 2009 by several Christian families in Denmark who were desperate for fellowship and a place where the Christian Gospel would be preached in purity. Everywhere we looked we saw either a society headed for hell, or liberal churches leading the way there. Kristuskirken was birthed out of necessity - the necessity that God's great Name be glorified and magnified in Denmark. Kristuskirken was also birthed out of a desire to see a sinful people saved by a merciful God. The same God that saved sinners like us.

For the Scripture says, "Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame." For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" (Romans 10:11-15)

Kristuskirken meets at 10am every Sunday.
Gyvelvej 1
8850 Bjerringbro
Phone +45 8668 0345
Lunch is provided.

Kristuskirken holds to the 1689 Baptist Confession Of Faith. Our desire is to be absolutely clear about who we are and what we believe. We are well aware that there is no shortage of churches that desire to be as vague as possible to those who visit in the hope that they will join regardless of beliefs. Kristuskirken wants to be sensitive to the One True Seeker - the One Who came to seek and save the lost. For this reason we welcome all to attend - believer and unbeliever alike - in the knowledge that our preaching is not aimed at comforting the believer and accommodating the unbeliever. Our preaching and teaching is aimed at building up the Christian, and bringing conviction upon those who are not. We love people so much that we are not willing to conceal any of God's message to mankind.

Kristuskirken is one of only three churches in Europe that are members of the 9 Marks church network. This is a network of churches that grew out of the ministry of Mark Dever and his landmark book "Nine Marks Of A Healthy Church". It is a model for advocating, planting, and growing healthy biblical churches. You can find us here in their directory where it reads that:

Kristuskirken is a newly planted Reformed Baptist Church in Denmark. We hold to the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith. We place great emphasis on the authority of Scripture, the exclusivity of Jesus Christ, gospel purity, and the call on all people everywhere to repent and believe the gospel. We believe that evangelism should be normal Christian behavior. We stress the biblical importance of male headship. We love the fellowship of believers and seeing sinners come to saving faith. And we desire to see God's Name magnified and exalted in Denmark.

We at Kristuskirken are very grateful for the guidance and assistance we have received from Paul Washer and his Heart Cry Missionary Society. Brother Washer was the chief instigator in provoking the pioneering work of Kristuskirken when he came and ministered to us in 2009. Kristuskirken is a proud financial supporter of the preaching ministry of Paul Washer and of the heart Cry Missionary Society. They train faithful indigenous ministers of the Gospel all over the world at a fraction of the cost of sending a western missionary. We also consider ourselves to be one of their mission fronts.

Kristuskirken is proud to be a Way Of The Master Evangelism Embassy. Two of our members have travelled to California to be personally trained by Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron at their evangelism academy. The ministry of Way of the Master recognize Kristuskirken as a church that teaches and practices biblical evangelism. We actually go out on the street to share the Gospel with strangers. For those who would like to see this in action come and join us in Bjerringbro on Saturdays. You can also watch these videos (please excuse the background noise):

Go On To Part 16
Go Back To Part 14
Go Back To part 1

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Come Out From Among Them - My Life In Denmark (Part 14)

I was desperately sad and grieved after almost three years in Denmark. We had started an evangelism ministry but I could not find a church where the Gospel was preached. Paul Washer's two ultimatums were still ringing in my ears:

1. If you are in a church where the Gospel is not preached - get out! Come out from among them! Touch not the unclean thing.
2. If you are not in a biblical church then find one or start one.

It was painfully clear that my family either had to leave Denmark or plant a church with some like minded believers. I did have people who agreed on the Gospel but were very hesitant about starting something. I, on the other hand, had an unusual fearlessness about this. Not because I am naturally courageous, far from it in fact, but because I was absolutely convinced that I was incapable of contributing anything that could possibly deteriorate the situation for Christians in Denmark - it's pretty hard to drill into the bottom of the toilet bowl!

When I was at the end of my rope and ready to pack up and leave (much to my wife's disappointment) a man called Henrik Mortensen walked into the picture. Not only was Henrik on the same page with me concerning the Gospel, he knew church planting was the only option and was ready to pay the price. As someone who was cryogenically frozen during the Puritan era (and defrosted in the 80's), Henrik was the perfect man to have on board in this project. Some others joined with us who also knew the stakes were high.

The wheels were turning and things were moving - especially my family. In November of 2009, we were packing up and moving south to the little town of Bjerringbro in Denmark. Did I have a job - no! Did I know anything about church planting - no! Was I assured of a prosperous future for this church (that was only a vision at this time) - no! I am normally a man to err on the side of caution, but I was experiencing tremendous liberty in this pursuit because I knew this was the only option we had within the Danish borders.

I will conclude this series on Friday with a post on our thriving little house church in Bjerringbro by the name of Kristuskirken. The local church is where it is at and I want to culminate this saga by flying the flag of the local church. I have also been surprised about how much less difficult planting a biblical church has been than trying to reform an apostate one. One of the deceptive realities out there stems from the countless number of attempts at starting a new church based on methodological differences rather than theological differences. When it is based on methodology the hard work is continually innovating with newer and more exciting programs. When it is based on theology, the hard work is the joyous labor of faithfully preaching the text, witnessing to the lost, and cultivating a community of loving brethren. So be encouraged and tune in for Friday's post where I will discuss my local church in greater detail.

But in closing todays post I want to refer back to Paul Washer's ultimatums that he gave us (see above). Do you treasure Christ and His beautiful Gospel but never hear about it from the pulpit? Is rampant sin tolerated and never disciplined in your local congregation? Does your pastor handle Scripture as God's authoritative word or does he treat it like a buffet, always staying well away from the parts that don't taste so good? Does your congregation allow women in the pulpit - violating the clear teaching of Scripture? Is it governed by a team of godly men or by someone who thinks he is a pope? Does it have a doctrine statement? Does the doctrine statement ever venture outside the church's filing cabinet? Does doctrine matter - particularly the purity of the once for all delivered Gospel? Are you someone who claims to be born again but is willing to settle for the safety of a gathering of goats that is shepherded by a wolf? Danish brothers, I beg you to contemplate these questions and receive this counsel from Carter Conlan . . .

Go On To Part 15
Go Back To Part 13
Go Back To Part 1

Monday, December 6, 2010

Socialism, The Opiate Of The Danish Masses - My Life In Denmark (Part 13)

I'm not sure if Karl Marx ever realized how upside down his famous statement was. It is actually when many of Marx's socialist ideals get put into practice, for an extended time, that you get to see a general populace that is both sedated and pacified. This is strongly evident in Denmark where the state has taken on the role of national nanny. Never in my life have I encountered so many passive and indifferent men who have been sedated under the narcotic of a massive welfare system.

In Denmark, work is an option that someone may take should he find the place of employment that meets his specific requirements. And why be entrepreneurial and visionary when the state circles your profitability like a vulture with its ravenous claws of taxation. Mediocrity is the happy middle road winding its way through this socialist landscape.

Options abound for those who get their fix from the state. You can take a job and work at your own pace. No worries, the union will make sure that you cannot get fired . . . that is unless you want to take a two year holiday courtesy of your employment insurance. Why have initiative, why be industrious, why care for your neighbor - when the government can do it all for you.

Marx never understood that it is actually a biblical worldview flowing out of a genuine Christian conversion that generates a sense of drive and destiny in the individual. A willingness to risk one's life for the sake of a transcendent and worthy cause. Indeed it was Paul who said:

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith — that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained. Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us (Phillipians 3:7-17).

Paul even admonished the Christians at Thessalonica that if a man does not work then he should not be fed (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Christians are a people so enraptured with the ultimate sacrifice of their Savior that they joyously enter in to a life of self sacrifice and labor that they may be salt and light in an evil generation.

This all relates specifically to the work of planting a biblical church in Denmark. There are those who profess Christ and as such can agree with the need for sound biblical churches. But when push comes to shove, many professing Christians are still dangerously contaminated from years of being assimilated into the socialist machinations that drive this country. Many are unwilling to venture away from the secure surrounds of an apostate church where the gospel never gets preached. Some are overly fond of the state sponsored day care centers that raise their children. Even the Lutheran priests are on the state payroll - so why take the risk of opposing anything unbiblical.

It was five hundred years ago that Europe saw men like Martin Luther put his life on the line before the evil Roman Catholic empire when he said:

To renounce these writings would be unthinkable for that would be to renounce accepted Christian truths... The second group of my work is directed aginst the foul doctrine and evil living of the Popes, past and present... Through the laws of the Pope and the doctrines of men, the consciences of the faithful have been miserably vexed and flayed. If I recant these books, I will do nothing but add strength to tyranny and open not just the windows but also the doors to this great ungodliness... Unless I am convinced by Scripture and by plain reason and not by Popes and councils who have so often contradicted themselves, my conscience is captive to the word of God. To go against conscience is neither right nor safe. I cannot and I will not recant. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me.

How did Europe go from from reformers willing to risk their lives to priests who won't risk their jobs?

God has graciously blessed our new fellowship of Kristuskirken beyond my wildest pessimistic expectations. But I remain equally surprised to see how unwilling some people have been to leave the "safety" of their apostate surroundings nor their socialist safety net. Christian men of Denmark - please wake up, man up, and get off the drugs! Your nationality is no longer Denmark if you belong to Christ - you are strangers and aliens in a foreign land looking for a city whose builder and maker is God. Becoming a Christian means becoming a part of one culture - a biblical one with a worldview to match.

Go On To Part 14
Go Back To Part 12
Go Back To Part 1

Friday, December 3, 2010

James White Gives Rick Warren A Much Needed Thrashing

No, I have not forgotten to discuss Rick Warren's sermon at this years Desiring God conference. I have two or three more posts to finish discussing the Danish journey my family has been on that culminated in us planting a church - Kristuskirken. Blogger stats actually revealed a good number of Danish readers much to my surprise. Considering the rumors and innuendo that swirl around my name I thought it time to recount most of the saga thus far. Not primarily to defend myself, but to lay out the truth on everything - some of which I have been keeping private. So my life in Denmark series should wrap up next week.

As an appetizer for the upcoming Rick Warren discussion I want to draw your attention to an interview James White did recently where he gave his critique of Warren's sermon. The interview was conducted my Pastor Mike Abendroth on his excellent new program No Compromise Radio. Good Christian media can be hard to come by when the discerning ear ventures away from the sermon archives of good ministry websites. Wretched Radio and White Horse Inn are two shining lights at the forefront of good theology, good discernment, and good satire. You can now add No Compromise Radio to that list for a program that is both provocative an theologically sound, and has great guests like Al Mohler, Michael Horton, Rick Holland, Joel Beeke, and James White.

James White had this to say regarding the interview:

I was forced at gunpoint to join Mike Abendroth (one of the nefarious and widely feared Abendroth Brothers Gang) on his No Compromise Radio Program today. What was worse, he forced me to listen to Rick Warren's presentation at the DG Conference. Very painful. 350 pithy platitudes strung together on citations of the Message and the Living Bible interspersed with psychology and repeated references to how uber cool Saddleback is. But, I listened, because I was forced to! And then Mike made me go on the air and give a report! It was a traumatic experience, but I got through it. Someday I will return the favor and force Mike to race me up South Mountain.

It is about time that some prominent Christian voices took Rick Warren to task and I'm relieved that James White stood up and spoke with honesty and clarity about the lame moralism that America's pastor continually dishes out from the pulpit and the public square! I was not able to embed this audio on my blog but you can listen to it here. Hang in there until the second half of the interview where Warren's sermon gets discussed.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Discerning True And False Churches - My Life In Denmark (Part 12)

Paul Washer had come and ministered to us in the summer of 2009. He stressed the need for those of us in apostate churches to "get out". He also hammered home the point that our evangelism labor would be empty without healthy and mature biblical churches. This brings us to the critical question concerning what is a true church and what is a false church? Answering this question will answer many questions that perplex the modern day church goer with regards to the overwhelming abundance of seeming contradictions between modern churches and Scripture.

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!" And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, "Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen." Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, "Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?" I said to him, "Sir, you know." And he said to me, "These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. "Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of(Z) living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes." (Revelation 7:9-17)

That is an exciting picture. But if you talk to many professing Christians today they will complain and give you a huge list of negative things about the church. Paul Washer commented on this:

I want to talk about finding the church, in other words, stopping the slander. If you want to be endeared to me, then treat my wife with the greatest respect. If you want to be on my bad side, then slander my wife. The accusation of infidelity and immorality is the hindrance in the work of missions.

We have experts who tell us over and over that there is little difference between the actions of the church and the actions of a fallen world. We hear experts that there is just as much immorality in the church as there is in the world. I am here to tell you that angers me because it is a lie. The experts do not even know what the church is. The church today is absolutely beautiful, and I will have words for anyone who says anything else. Because we are talking about Christ’s bride.

The church is in a process of sanctification. Yes she has her weaknesses; yes she has failings. Our bride is broken and humble and believing her master, and she is following him and being changed by him in a way that exalts the power of God in salvation. We are calling Christian that which is not Christian, and it has led to the slandering of the bride of Jesus Christ. Because of our watered-down view of the gospel, our superficial views of regeneration and conversion, because we believe that God is enough to save from the condemnation of sin but not enough to save from the power of sin.

It is not the fault of a liberal political party; it is the fault of pastors. Even conservative, fundamental pastors.

Theologians through church history have made a distinction between what they call the “visible church”, the “invisible church”, and sects/cults/false churches. The greek word used for church in Scripture is “ekklesia” which describes the called out ones. All true Christians all over the world. These are the ones Jesus prayed for in John 17. This is every name written in the Lambs book of Life. Do we know every name written in that book? That is why we call the whole body of Christ the invisible church. There is no real argument here. It is when we discuss the visible church that the big problems start.

When I stand up to preach in Kristuskirken I stand before an example of a true visible church. It is something I can see every time I visit an area where professing believers gather to worship God and hear His word preached. These local churches are visible churches. The seven churches in Revelation are visible churches with one of them on the edge of apostacy by departing from the Gospel and was being strongly warned to repent by our Lord Himself. Professing believers gather in a visible church but we are always aware that there is always tares among the wheat, goats among the sheep, and false converts among true Christians in a visible church. The visible church is called to deal with this through church discipline but some goats are able to wear a sheep suit all their life as Judas did. I once told Ray Comfort that I am so thankful for him being the first person to teach me about false conversion. It has helped in many ways but none more so than in harmonizing passages that I used to find difficult.

They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. (1 John 2:19)

John says that true Christians or members of the invisible church cannot apostatize: "for if they were of us, they would have continued with us." The fact that these professing Christians departed from the church is empirical proof that they were never true Christians. While I was in America a friend with Arminian theology asked me “Who perseveres until the end” and I said “the elect”. He then asked me “who are the elect” and I said “those who persevere”. Dear friends, this may make our head spin but it is easily understood in the Sovereign mind of God. It is ultimately He who will divide the sheep from the goats.

When God saves someone they become a part of the invisible church. They then need to find a true visible church to join. Hebrews 10:25  tells us not to forsake gathering together with other Christians. This is where a lot of the problems happen. Rick Warren, for some very strange reason, recently preached to a lot of reformed pastors. During his “talk” he rebuked them for teaching too much Scripture and not enough application. Why would Rick Warren say something so incredibly stupid and unbiblical? Because his church growth philosophy has perverted how he defines a visible church. When he sees a large group of people who pray a sinners prayer but keep living in their old way he doesn't see false converts – he sees people who have not been taught how to apply all the teaching that they are getting too much of. Guess what will happen if I start teaching all my fornicating friends the application of waiting until they are married? They don't sin because they have never been taught application, they sin because they are evil, and love their sin, and hate God, and so did I, but God saved me and gave me a new heart with new desires, and now I am called to preach this Gospel to all those wicked sinners because God loves to save wicked sinners just like me!

When we look for a visible church to join we need to look much deeper than seeing a building with a sign that says church. The reformers fought against the false church of Roman Catholicism all their lives. To this day the Catholic church denies salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. The council of Trent pronounces damnation on anyone who believes that. The Reformers defined a true Church in article 29 of the Belgic Confession:

Article 29 of the Belgic Confession
We believe that we ought to discern diligently and very carefully from the Word of God what is the true church, for all sects which are in the world today claim for themselves the name of church.1 We are not speaking here of the hypocrites, who are mixed in the church along with the good and yet are not part of the church, although they are outwardly in it.2 We are speaking of the body and the communion of the true church which must be distinguished from all sects that call themselves the church.

The true church is to be recognized by the following marks: It practises the pure preaching of the gospel.3 It maintains the pure administration of the sacraments as Christ instituted them.4 It exercises church discipline for correcting and punishing sins.5 In short, it governs itself according to the pure Word of God,6 rejecting all things contrary to it7 and regarding Jesus Christ as the only Head.8 Hereby the true church can certainly be known and no one has the right to separate from it.

Those who are of the church may be recognized by the marks of Christians. They believe in Jesus Christ the only Saviour,9 flee from sin and pursue righteousness,10 love the true God and their neighbour11 without turning to the right or left, and crucify their flesh and its works.12 Although great weakness remains in them, they fight against it by the Spirit all the days of their life.13 They appeal constantly to the blood, suffering, death, and obedience of Jesus Christ, in whom they have forgiveness of their sins through faith in Him.14

The false church assigns more authority to itself and its ordinances than to the Word of God. It does not want to submit itself to the yoke of Christ.15 It does not administer the sacraments as Christ commanded in His Word, but adds to them and subtracts from them as it pleases. It bases itself more on men than on Jesus Christ. It persecutes those who live holy lives according to the Word of God and who rebuke the false church for its sins, greed, and idolatries.16

These two churches are easily recognized and distinguished from each other.

1.Rev 2:9. 2. Rom 9:6. 3. Gal 1:8; 1 Tim 3:15. 4. Acts 19:3-5; 1 Cor 11:20-29. 5. Mat 18:15-17; 1 Cor 5:4-5, 1 Cor 5:13; 2 Thes 3:6, 2 Thes 3:14; Titus 3:10. 6. John 8:47; John 17:20; Acts 17:11; Eph 2:20; Col 1:23; 1 Tim 6:3. 7. 1 Thes 5:21; 1 Tim 6:20; Rev 2:6. 8. John 10:14; Eph 5:23; Col 1:18. 9. John 1:12; 1 John 4:2. 10. Rom 6:2; Phil 3:12. 11. 1 John 4:19-21. 12. Gal 5:24. 13. Rom 7:15; Gal 5:17. 14. Rom 7:24-25; 1 John 1:7-9. 15. Acts 4:17-18; 2 Tim 4:3-4; 2 John 9. 16. John 16:2.

Go On To Part 13
Go Back To Part 11
Go Back To Part 1