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A Tad bit More on: “God Told Me” and “I Have Peace About This”

Mysticism, false piety (pietism) and quietism pervade our thinking and language. Some of it is goodhearted and some is purposeful (so as to allow for intentional sin).

A portion of a paragraph from Jon Gleason regarding ways we take God’s name in vain:

“God Told Me”

Many times, we hear Christians say that “God told me” to do something.  Unless it is written in God’s Word, God doesn’t tell me to believe your statement (even if you do believe it).  If there is no reason I should believe that God told you, there is no reason to say it.  The Bible doesn’t tell us to go around saying “God told me.”

If you make a statement the Bible didn’t tell you to make, and I should examine what you say (rather than take your word for it), then to claim God’s authority is to claim it vainly.  “God told me” in any context other than what the Scriptures have said is taking God’s name in vain — even if you personally believe He did tell you.  God doesn’t tell others to believe you when you say it, so it is an empty claim.  You shouldn’t say it.

“God Gave me Peace”

It’s amazing how many times God “gives peace” to people who are doing the exact opposite of what He said in Scripture.  Just because you feel comfortable about your decision doesn’t mean God has given you peace.  Perhaps all it means is that you’ve started to have better sleeping and eating habits so you physically feel better.  Perhaps it means you’ve seared your conscience so badly that it isn’t functioning anymore.

God does give peace, the Scriptures say so.  But the Scriptures never say we should make decisions by checking our “peace-meter” to see if it is measuring high enough.  “Peace-meters” are often inaccurate — God’s Word is not.  Many times, when people say “God gave me peace,” they are merely taking God’s name in vain, speaking it meaninglessly, claiming some kind of God-authority for decisions that He manifestly does not approve.

I am sure there are other ways in which we do not honour our Lord’s name as we should.  We, as Christians, need to take God’s holiness seriously, and give Him due reverence.  We should encourage and help one another to be alert to failings in this area, so that we can speak as He would have us speak. HT to Larry Rogier.

Nice…Heaven is for Unbelievers…Ummm. Good Luck With That.

Posted in discernment, Fighting fundamentalist foolishness, Postmodern by Sam Hendrickson on 23 April , 2012

A frightening and heterodox conclusion in the name of one “defending the gospel”…BTW  their words and sentiments NOT mine! [This link has been removed–the seedlings of an explanation are available here.) The original conclusion to the article appear below. The original author posted here with the entire article.

“Conclusion
As Christians we can depart from the faith, deny the faith, or stop believing in Christ as our Savior. But since the security of our salvation depends on God’s faithfulness, not our own, we can never lose eternal life. A Christian may leave the faith, but God never leaves the Christian. Apostasy from the faith does not forfeit salvation, though it will forfeit future rewards.”

Many Evangelicals do not Believe that God is Very Specific About How to Worship Corporately

 

J. Ligon Duncan III:

Evangelicals have for a century or more been the most minimal of all the Protestants in what they think the Bible teaches us about the church in general and in their estimation of the relative importance of ecclesiology (the doctrine of the church).

  • They do not generally believe that church government is established positively in the Word;
  • they often do not see the local church as essential to the fulfillment of the Great Commission or to the task of Christian discipleship;
  • they are suspicious of order as restrictive of freedom…

Consequently, since the doctrine of worship is a part of what the Bible teaches about the doctrine of the church, they are not predisposed in general to expect much in the way of important, definitive teaching about the conduct of corporate worship…

…The greatest obstacle to the reform of worship in the evangelical church today is evangelicalism’s general belief that New Testament Christians have few or no particular directions about how we are to worship God corporately:

  • what elements belong in worship,
  • what elements must always be present in well-ordered worship,
  • what things do not belong in worship.

To be even more specific…we may say that

  • evangelicals emphasize the dynamic of Christian worship (the grace of the Holy Spirit)
  • and its motivation (gratitude for grace, a passion for God),
  • but de-emphasize the standard (the Bible)
  • and goal (the prime telos [the purposed end] of glorifying and enjoying God).

Evangelicals do think that worship matters, but they also often view worship as a means to some other end than that of the glorification and enjoyment of God:

  • some view worship as evangelism (thus misunderstanding its goal);
  • some think that a person’s heart, intentions, motives and sincerity are the only things important in how we worship (thus downplaying the Bible’s standards, principles, and rules for worship);
  • and some view the emotional product of the worship experience as the prime factor in [evaluating] “good” worship (thus over-stressing the subjective and often unwittingly imposing particular cultural opinions about emotional expression on all worshipers).

Evangelicals believe these things about worship, but they do not think that there are many biblical principles about how to worship or what we are to do and not to do in worship.

In part, this may be the result of an understandable misunderstanding of the precise nature of the discontinuity between  the worship of the people of God in the old covenant and the new covenant.

…Consequently, though evangelicals know that the Old Testament has instructions on what Israel was to do in worship,

  • they tend to think that there are few if any abiding principles [let alone commands] to be gained for Christian worship from the Old Testament,
  • or they think that the New Testament emphases on the heart, the activity of the Holy Spirit, and worship-in-all-of-life displace these Old Testament principles,
  • or they think that the New Testament has correspondingly little or nothing to say about the how of corporate worship,
  • and some even think the category of corporate worship disappears altogether in the new-covenant expression of the economy of God…

And not surprisingly, these assumptions help an evangelicalism enveloped in a culture of individualism, relativism, and situationalism remain, in its approach to the gathered worship of God’s people,

  • strong on the individual, weak on the corporate;
  • strong on the subjective, weak on the objective;
  • strong on the heart, weak on the principles.

Give Praise to God: A Vision for Reforming Worship, P & R Publishing, 2003, pp. 24 – 26

[Nota bene: These are Duncan’s words, but I did the bulleting to make the lists and long (dare I say run-on?) sentences more easy to navigate.] Presented with all the usual waivers as to how his beliefs and practices differ from mine, etc… I.e. simply because I am quoting him doesn’t mean you should become a Presbyterian or whatever…I’ll trust your discernment…

Liver Shivers, Goosebumps, and “I Have Peace About This Pastor”

A quote from Ken Sande in The Peacemaker (2004, 3rd ed., Baker, Ch. 1 endnote, p. 299):

I have found that many Christians rely more on their own ideas and feelings than they do on the Bible, especially when Scripture commands them to do difficult things. In particular, many people seem to believe they can be sure they are doing what is right if they pray and have a sense of  ‘inner peace.’ Nowhere does the Bible guarantee that a sense of peace is a sure sign that one is on the right course. Many people experience a sense of relief (‘inner peace’) even when they are on a sinful course, simply because they are getting away from stressful responsibilities.’

I would add that the relief can also come simply because a decision has been made and a direction has been chosen. I am not certain of the root of this false teaching historically, but it likely includes a misunderstanding of Philippians 4:6 – 7

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. NASB

Having spent a significant time around charismatics (Assembly of God, and Pentecostals), there was clearly an understanding among many of them (including pastors and leaders) that a physical response (including manifestations like gooseflesh) indicated that “the Holy Spirit was working.”  We cessationists often mock or deride their subjectivity, but how many Christians do you know who engage in something similar to Sande describes at the beginning of this post? Just when a choice is to be made, they decide to follow a sinful (or at least stupid/foolish) path because some kind of coincidental event occurs which “confirmed my choice in my spirit.”

Pa-lease!

Imagine if God’s Son went on such feelings, and “inner peace”?

Matthew 26:37-39  37 And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed.  38 Then He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.”  39 And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.”

The Greek words of interest are lupeisthai–“grieved,” (v. 37b) ademonein–“distressed” (v. 37b) and perilupos— “deeply grieved” (v. 38a) in the original language. They have meanings which are well represented for the most part in the various translations. Friberg’s lexicon has “afflicted beyond measure” for perilupos, which takes the meaning much deeper, and matches then His remark of the extent of his grief–“to the point of death.”

What if our Lord waited for the right kind of physical or emotional response before proceeding to do His Father’s will? What if He waited for “inner peace”? What if He would only go forward if His “inner spirit was prompted,” if “all the doors were opened,” or He felt “God was saying this” because of His circumstance? If God was speaking “through the circumstance” you’d think that Jesus would have divined the Father’s “will” to be “get out!”

Here’s a novel idea: why not labor hard in the Scriptures and strive to develop a more properly tuned moral compass so that we can discern good from evil, and pray that God would give us the courage (faith) to obey Him? (That is the kind of prayer He answers!)

Then maybe we will leave goose bumps to their real use–telling us when to put on a coat.

Are we What we Ought to be as the Church?

Doing some reading…

The test of a congregation, apart from personal holiness, is how effectively members penetrate the world. American churches are filled with pew-sitting, spiritual schizophrenics, whose belief and behavior are not congruent.

The Disciple-Making Pastor, Bill Hull

Lookin’ fer a Faaight…

I was manning the booth our Church had at the Hudsonville Fair last week when I was approached by one of the vendors in the building. This person’s booth had 666 “secrets” banners, other references signs, banners, brochures and books referring to the mark of the beast, and other prophetic issues. The person’s shirt sported a (homemade?) ribbon announcing (more…)

A fine example of “begging the question” or petitio principii

Quote from a commenter at Mark Snoeberger’s weblog “Systematic Theology Matters: ” The difference [between Reformed-influenced views of sanctification and Keswick views of sanctification] simply boils down to an ‘inevitable’ view of faith versus a responsible faith.”

This is a fine example of the logical fallacy of petitio principii or “begging the question.” In order to garner support and sympathy for one’s own argument, he resorts to labeling his own argument with superior terms–in this case the word “responsible” was chosen. Thus in this case, the opponent’s argument whatever it is, is not the “responsible” or more desirable view. At this point, the author’s argument itself should lose credibility in the reader’s mind because he cannot properly defend his own POV, nor fairly label his opponent’s argument.

The value of our own statements and arguments depend upon our willingness to be honest brokers in our discussions.

Prosit!

Borrowing a Great Post…

Posted in America's spiritual crisis, Fighting fundamentalist foolishness, Holiness, Lordship by Sam Hendrickson on 16 June , 2011

This lyric was posted elsewhere–penned by William Cowper (known by many for the Hymn There is a Fountain Filled With Blood).

Dear Lord! accept a sinful heart,
Which of itself complains,
And mourns, with much and frequent smart,
The evil it contains.

There fiery seeds of anger lurk,
Which often hurt my frame;
And wait but for the tempter’s work,
To fan them to a flame.

Legality holds out a bribe
To purchase life from thee;
And discontent would fain prescribe
How thou shalt deal with me.

While unbelief withstands thy grace,
And puts the mercy by;
Presumption, with a brow of brass,
Says, “Give me, or I die.”

How eager are my thoughts to roam
In quest of what they love!
But, ah! when duty calls them home,
How heavily they move!

Oh, cleanse me in a Saviour’s blood,
Transform me by thy pow’r,
And make me thy belov’d abode,
And let me rove no more.

[En passant,  the original poster’s weblog ]

 

Whose Agenda–Whose Glory?

By events, books,sermon mp3s, and conferences, I have been often forced or moved to think on the priority and importance of the local church–a sacred God-ordained people. The local church is the primary means by which black-hearted rebels are transformed into Christ-obeying disciples through the saving and sanctifying power of the Good News. This is a significant portion of God’s agenda of self-glorification.

The church belongs to God, it is the body of Christ, His bride, and glory.

What are we doing in, about or to the local church which promotes our own agenda and glory?

A Case of Missing the Point…

Recently, I read a post and subsequent comments at a weblog that reveals how some persist in misunderstanding the biblical doctrines of Perseverance and Preservation. The tenor of the article was this: God preserves us, but there is no scriptural promise of or mandate for our perseverance in the faith. The misrepresentations of what “perseverance of the saints” means, the logical fallacies of strawmen, false dilemmas, etc. paint a picture of perseverance which is sadly distorted. Frankly, I do not understand the motivations of those who write articles like this, and the comments which follow; it is as though  the critics haven’t read, or at least understood what “perseverance” writers have actually written.

When we teach that God preserves Christians from the day of trust in Christ until they are in His presence, it means that God will fully accomplish our salvation. The obligation is upon Him to uphold the promises in which we have trusted–this is His preserving work.

But, this preservation does not happen in some unknowable, invisible fashion. Part of the way God keeps us  is by providing means which we take part in–essentially the Christian graces: Bible Intake, Worship, Prayer, Outreach, Service, Fellowship w/ the Saints, etc. These graces are meant to continually remind us, and thus empower us to obey–to express faith. Faith is not faith if it is not resting on the promises of God, and faith is not faith if it does not move from attitude to obedience.  We are corrected, warned, exhorted, encouraged, rebuked, and taught by the ministry of the Spirit in the graces I mentioned above.

If we profess faith in Christ, and consistently and persistently rebel against partaking of these graces and obeying the Spirit’s truth embodied and taught by them, then we had better wonder if we have the salvation we claim to have. In wondering this, and beginning our self-examination, it is not as though we can mutter “well, regardless of my anti-Christ rebellion, and my wanton disobedience to known commands of the Lord, at least I can rest in the delight that I am saved.” Peter, Paul, James, our Lord, and the author of Hebrews would all warn exuberantly to “examine yourself to see if you are in the faith”–or themes similar. If after this investigation of character and belief, we confess our sin, and begin a path of sincere obedience to the Scriptural corrective, it is not that somehow we have contributed to our own salvation, or even somehow maintained our salvation, or even single-handedly muscled ourselves back on the path of sanctification. Rather our God’s  power has come to work in our lives in such a fashion as to achieve His final preservation of us. His power is displayed through the Truth which the Spirit brings to bear on our hearts by the graces I mentioned earlier. Our response to these means is not some works-based effort on our part, it is the proper, nominal response of a disciple of Jesus Christ. Any such return to obedience (both in attitude and action) can only be properly attributed to the work of the Holy Spirit. As before our salvation, and now in our life of sanctification, we can only obey our God through His righteous, alien intervention–first by His regeneration, and now as a consequence of His indwelling, etc.

A life of repeated instances of obedience, over time, is a marker of our salvation. While there will be sinful straying, both aware and unaware (at the time), the pattern is obedience–submission to Christ’s Lordship. At the end, when we see Him, we will not say “O Lord, how delightful that I, in my own power and capability persevered!” No, rather, we will rejoice in His upholding His promises–to keep us, and to keep us by providing the means and power to keep going through the agency of the Holy Spirit. Will there have been human effort in our attempts to walk in obedience? Of course, but Who empowered it, Who provided all the means to know how to choose right, Who jealously, passionately desired the good things of God for us, within us (James 4)? Our God! And then, as now, we would and could take no credit for the work of perseverance–for such obedience could only be prompted by and empowered by God–as He preserved us.

This is not works-based salvation or sanctification–it is the faith of the Gospel. Do not let others deter you from a biblical understanding of the Spirit’s work in us. Their efforts demean the power of the Gospel, pointing to man-centered, diluted Gospel understanding. Our hope rests only in God’s preserving and persevering power! I will post a Scriptural defense of this some time, but this is an acceptable and proven understanding of God’s power in our lives, as defined in the Scripture.