Friday, August 31, 2012

Voddie Bauchan sermon Adapting to the Culture...Or Not

Pastor Bauchan taking on the question:  "Should we be like the culture, to reach the culture?"
Text:  Acts 17 starting at verse 16, Paul addresses the Areopagus.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Beth and Me

I CANNOT believe it’s been over a year since I posting anything on this blog.  I knew the weeds were growing out of control!  Who knows, it may get all weedy again!

As the title suggests this is a story about Beth and me.  Yes, THAT Beth.  Beth Moore, the sacred cow of women’s (primarily evangelical) Bible studies.  I want to go on record as saying she’s a gifted and engaging speaker.  I heard her recite the entire book of James and am duly impressed by that.

Specifically, I want to address a recent home Bible study I attended using her James DVD series.  It was the first intro class to the study.

I cannot endorse Beth’s Biblical teaching.  Here’s why:
She asserted that families will eventually come back together.  Specifically stating that James (Jesus’ half brother) was not a believer before Christ’s resurrection, but became a believer (eventually) after he witnessed the resurrection.  While she was working on the James study, her sister was restored back to her family.  
The Bible does not teach this principle.  The closest verse we have is Proverbs 22:6, Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.  As a matter of fact, we are taught the very opposite.  When Jesus is speaking about sending the apostles out to teach, he states:  Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake.  (Matt 10:21) (See Matthew 10:16-25 for entire context)  This is obviously far from family restoration.

She asserts that the only thing left empty is the tomb.  By this, I believe she means, we can now be “filled up” with the Holy Spirit.  Emptiness isn’t a condition the Bible warns us about. Belief and unbelief in Christ as the Son of God, along with repentance for forgiveness of sins is the emphasis of the gospel—not necessarily being “full” or “empty.” There are six instances found HERE, in which people are filled with the Spirit or Holy Spirit before Christ’s resurrection.  So, before the tomb was empty, people were filled with the Holy Spirit.

Beth struggled with why James was not a believer when he had the experience of living with Jesus himself.  She even prayed that God would give her special insight while she was preparing the study.  Um, Beth, I think it’s safe to say Biblically, that he was DEAD in trespasses and sin until after the resurrection when he was given FAITH.  He could not decide beforehand, with his own will, to believe.
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,   not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand. .  Eph. 2:1-3 & 8-10
The best answer Beth came up with was because they were all a part of a Jewish community, and all were trying to live out the law, James could not tell that Jesus was Devine. 

Beth asserts that those who really need to see Jesus, will see him.  Once again, the Bible does not teach this principle.  The examples she gave was Mary (because Mary was distraught at seeing the tomb empty, as well as, the preceding events) at the tomb and Paul.  Thomas may also have been an example*.   What about the two that were on Emmaus road?  One of them being Cleopas, who was mentioned only in this account.  We really don’t know anything about their individual circumstances and yet, we can safely say, they needed to see Jesus?
The big takeaway from the above presupposition was:  A glimpse of Christ will change you.  Okay, this sounds so spiritual and enticing—but it is not a principle that is taught in the Bible!  For one thing, we know that many who actually saw Jesus when he was alive on the Earth, did not believe.  Did they “change?”  Maybe.  Who’s to say, and what is the “change” principle?  It’s unspoken that while we’re doing Bible study, when we “glimpse Christ” we will be changed.  What does this mean?  Obviously, it’s not likely that we are going to see a physical manifestation of Jesus.  What does “glimpse” then mean?  A tidbit of spiritual truth?  Again, who’s to say?  We are capable of reading or hearing Bible truths and not being changed one bit by them.   

My conclusion is:  I will be staying away from Beth Moore Bible studies.  It takes too much effort to weed through her un-Biblical assertions to find the accurate things she may have to teach.  I would rather spend time studying the Bible on my own, or look for a teacher who teaches God’s Word accurately.

Dear women who wish to pursue Godliness:  Please read and study the Bible on your own before you trust "outsourcing" your education to popular teachers.   Keep in mind:  Acts 17:11:  Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

*It has been a couple of weeks since I attended the Bible study, so some of the details have been forgotten.  This post was from the “high points” of the notes I made the day of the study. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

One at Your Right Hand, One at Your Left...

We are all familiar with the following story from Matthew 20:
A Mother’s Request
 20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him.    21 “What is it you want?” he asked.
   She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.”
   22 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”
   “We can,” they answered.
 23 Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.”
 24 When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. 25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

What I would like to address is this section:

“Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.”  “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”  “We can,” they answered.  Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.”

Have you ever wondered who the people were/are that those places have/had been prepared for?  Did you know it was the two other men hanging on the cross with Jesus?  
From Luke 23:
39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”  40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”  42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”  43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Those were the men with him on his right and left hand when he came into his kingdom.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Misusing Scripture

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. "
Jeremiah 29:11
Dear Friend,

This verse was not written to you!  It was written to the children of Israel who were in exile at the time.

This is how chapter 29 starts out (NIV):

* * * * * * * *

Jeremiah 29
A Letter to the Exiles
 1 This is the text of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. 2 (This was after King Jehoiachin and the queen mother, the court officials and the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the skilled workers and the artisans had gone into exile from Jerusalem.) 3 He entrusted the letter to Elasah son of Shaphan and to Gemariah son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to King Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon. It said:

* * * * * * * *

Bible verses are not meant to be taken out of context to fit the situation in your 21st century life.   Please stop.  That is not to say there aren't many verses we can use by themselves if the context maintains its integrity in a stand alone manner.  Please use the scriptures wisely.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

O God, I Have Tasted Thy Goodness

O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more.  I am painfully conscious of my need for further grace.  I am ashamed of lack of desire.  O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still.  Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee that so I may know Thee indeed.  Begin in mercy a new work of love within me.  Say to my soul, "Rise up , my love, my fair one, and come away."  Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wondered so long.
In Jesus' name,
A.W. Tozer

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Brief Note About Abel

Let's take a look at the beginning, back in the garden of Eden.  In Genesis 4:3, we read:  In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, 4and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, 5but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. 6The LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door.   Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it."

I always thought that Abel's offering was more pleasing to God because it was a blood sacrifice.  We know through the rest of the old Testament (beginning with Genesis 22), and Christ's coming in the New (Romans 3:25), that a blood sacrifice is necessary for Atonement*.   The text in Genesis doesn't say that a blood sacrifice was required, so what is the problem with Cain's?  We don't see any follow-up explanation until the book of Hebrews.

If you have done much studying at all, you know Hebrews 11 is referred to as the "Great Hall of Faith."  In it is listed many men of faith in the Bible.  This is how verse 4 reads regarding Abel.  "By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead."  So, we see here that it is not because Abel offered God a blood sacrifice, but that he possessed faith.  We see a couple of verses later, in Hebrews 11:6a, that "without faith it is impossible to please God."

And where does faith come from?  Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.  Rom. 10:17.  So faith is something that God gives through the hearing of the word of Christ.  It is not something we are able to conjure up within ourselves.
Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love.
 * the doctrine concerning the reconciliation of God and humankind, esp. as accomplished through the life, suffering, and death of Christ.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Article: Preaching to Exhausted

This article is written by Pastor Allen Kraft of Stop Trying Harder blog.  This article has been copied w/o permission.  If you know that I cannot publish it here with the proper accreditation, please let me know and I will remove the post.

I remember receiving a letter a few years ago from one of the leaders in our church’s youth ministry. Darrin was an outstanding, mature, godly young man and yet in his letter, he informed me of his recent decision to renounce Christianity. What was his reason? While he had a few fairly common theological questions and doubts, the root issue was much deeper than all of that. He was spiritually exhausted. He had spent years doing all the things Christians are supposed to do and yet was not experiencing any real change. He felt that his only option was to renounce his faith.

How many of the people that listen to our teaching every week are very much like Darrin —sincerely wanting to follow God and yet growing tired of trying? Some are perhaps unaware of their exhaustion as they continue on a treadmill of spiritual busyness. Others carry a deep sense of failure: “Everyone else seems to be getting this. Why is it not working for me?”
Creating Exhaustion?

The ultimate irony is that we as pastors and teachers often contribute to their state of spiritual fatigue. It’s nothing intentional. We simply want to help apply God’s word to their lives. So we fill every sermon with good Biblical principles: four strategies to improve your prayer life, five keys to a healthy marriage, three ways to be more loving, etc. etc. All of this is helpful information, but imagine the long term impact in a person’s soul when they know they haven’t come close to mastering last week’s application points and are now getting three more to add to their list.

While this kind of principle-centered preaching seems to resonate with so many people, it actually can lead to two equally dangerous paths. One path is spiritual pride. Those who are working hard to keep these lists feel really good about themselves. They feel close to God because of how well they are doing...sort of like the Pharisee in Luke 18 who rejoiced in his own moral goodness and despised the sinner praying next to him. How convenient that pride and selfcenteredness weren’t on his list! If we as pastors are not careful, we can end up creating a culture filled with Pharisees—good, moral people who are striving to do the right thing and yet blind to their own real need.

The other dangerous path toward which principle-centered preaching can direct people is the path of disillusionment and despair. Each week those in our church hear more things they are supposed to be doing—good, spiritual, Christian things—and they know deep down that they can’t do it. They’ve tried to change. They’ve knelt at the altar, making promises and commitments and resolutions, but each time the end result is the same. No change…except for the added guilt and shame. Some resolve to try harder. Others give up all together.

A “New” Kind of Preaching

So what’s the answer? How can we as pastors and teachers help people avoid the trappings of the principle-focused path? How are we to preach to the spiritually exhausted? The answer may surprise you: Preach the gospel. Preach the gospel not just to the lost but to the found. Often we as pastors see the gospel as the entry point into Christianity. We preach the gospel to lost people, but we fail to realize that the saved need the gospel just as desperately. The gospel is not simply the starting line for Christianity. It is the race itself. (See how Paul talks about the gospel in Colossians 1:6, Romans 1:15)

If this is the case, how does one go about preaching the gospel to those who have already embraced it? The answer is very simple: Preach repentance and faith as continual activities rather than as one-time, initial responses to the gospel. The mistake we often make is in not realizing that repentance and faith are critical aspects of a person’s on-going experience with Christ.
Preaching Repentance

Often we as pastors shy away from using the “repentance” word too frequently. We realize that many Christians view it as an oppressive, negative thing or as something we do when we really mess up. Part of our role as pastors and teachers is to help people understand that repentance is anything but oppressive. It is life-giving! When Jesus began his ministry of preaching the gospel of the kingdom, he laid a crucial foundation with these words: “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3). Guess what He’s talking about? Repentance.

To be poor in spirit is to see the depth of our brokenness, to see the depth of our need. This, like the other beatitudes, is not a one-time event but rather a continual response. When we as believers truly understand the gospel, it forces us to face the truth that we are a lot more sinful than we realize. When God began to open my eyes to see the gospel in this ‘new’ way, He started by showing me how much I needed it—even in the most spiritual of activities.

I remember one Sunday afternoon reflecting on the morning worship services and feeling really good about my message, having heard lots of positive comments from people who were there. As I was enjoying those reflections, I started to think about specific people in our church who weren’t there that morning—some key leaders who I thought really needed to hear that message. I found myself getting angry…righteous anger of course. In the midst of all this, I sensed God asking me a question: Alan, is this anger really about Me and My glory, or is it about you and your desire to have people hear your “great” message? Ouch. That hurt. I saw with painful clarity how my motives—even in preaching—were for my own glory rather than His.

This is us. We need the gospel every moment of every day because our flesh instinctively is drawn toward self-absorption and idolatry. In light of this, one of our key tasks as teachers is in helping all of our people see the depth of their need for Christ. We all need our eyes opened to see how self-absorbed and self-centered we truly are, how often we look for life in all sorts of things rather than God.
Redefining Sin

Part of our problem with repentance is how we define sin. If we talk about sin as “doing bad things”, our people will freely acknowledge that they are not perfect but at the same time will feel they are doing pretty well. However when we define sin according to the first commandment—loving God with all of our being—suddenly we realize that we have a BIG problem with sin. It permeates all we do. How often are we as Christians trying to find life and meaning and significance and security in things other than God? How often are we looking to shopping, or our 401k, or our attractiveness, or our reputation or our success as the thing from which we find ultimate joy and meaning?

When we begin talking about sin in this way, suddenly the room gets quiet. People begin seeing that sin is so much more than doing bad things. It includes the multitude of ways we replace God with self as the center of our lives. The great thing about defining sin in this way is that I can always find lots of personal examples to share in messages—which fosters an atmosphere where it’s okay to admit you’re broken. That goes a long way in creating a culture of continual repentance.
Good News

Now some of you are perhaps envisioning this renewed emphasis on repentance as a real downer—a guaranteed way to decrease the size of your congregation. Actually, the opposite is the case. When people begin seeing the depth of their brokenness, it opens a door for something absolutely amazing—the presence of Christ filling their brokenness. This is the second half of the gospel we proclaim. Repentance AND faith.

I used to preach about faith only when talking about prayer or how to endure times of difficulty. One day, I was reading Romans 1:17 and the light bulb came on. Paul says “For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last.” I had read that verse literally dozens of times and had never really seen those last four words: From first to last. The entire Christian life is about faith. We are to live by faith. In other words, we are to continually place our trust in Christ alone.

Now this is where the brokenness of repentance becomes so important. If a person doesn’t see the depth of their sinfulness and need, how deeply will they live their lives in dependence upon Christ? When our preaching is primarily focused on principles and application points, it’s easy for people to both lose sight of their need for a Savior as well as what an incredible Savior He really is. The focus is on following principles rather than embracing a Person. One leads to self-sufficiency, the other to Christ-sufficiency.
A New Testament Pattern

Once we begin to grasp this continual repentance and faith message, we begin seeing it everywhere in the New Testament. Jesus said in John 7:37, “If anyone is thirsty, let Him come to Me and drink.” That’s the gospel! If someone doesn’t admit they are thirsty, they won’t run to Jesus for help. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12:10, “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” In his weakness, he more fully experienced God’s power. In Romans 7:24-25, after being brutally honest about his own brokenness, Paul declares, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

In each of these places as well as dozens of others (including Galatians 2:20, Matthew 11:28-30), the spiritual life is described as being lived in continual repentance and faith. As we see the depth of our need, we can more fully embrace Christ in that moment. Paul’s words at the end of his life are incredibly eye-opening: “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the worst.” (I Timothy 1:15). Notice, he doesn’t say “I was the worst but am beyond that now.” Paul says, “I am the worst of sinners.” Present tense! Paul’s lifelong path of spiritual maturity involved him seeing with increasingly clarity the depth of his need for mercy—which made him more in love with his Savior.
Gospel-Infused Preaching

All of this means that in our preaching we have the wonderful privilege of continually encouraging people to embrace these two life giving truths of the gospel: We are far more sinful than we realize AND we have a Savior who is far more wonderful than we ever dreamed. Every message we give should in some way highlight these two realities. We want to help people see with greater clarity the depth of their brokenness and the glorious sufficiency of their Savior.

Often our basic approach to Biblical preaching is a three step model:

1. Here’s what the Bible says

2. Here’s what it means

3. Now go do it. In this approach, the climax of the sermon is giving people a challenge to try hard to do what God wants them to do—which actually drives them further from the gospel. Christianity becomes a list of things to do in order to please God.

What might it look like to infuse the gospel into this paradigm? It actually is quite simple to do. In step 3, after showing people how they should live, we then remind them of their own inability to do this. Our self absorption and idolatry make this impossible—which then leads to a 4th step. Proclaiming Jesus as our solution. In the midst of our inadequacy, we can look to One who is adequate. In the midst of our weakness, we can look to His strength. So now our basic approach is as follows:

1. Here’s what the Bible says

2. Here’s what it means

3. Now go do it…but you can’t. (Repentance)

4. Look to your incredible Savior, who longs to live His life through you. (Faith)

In each message—no matter what the specific passage or topic—we can preach the gospel in this way. We can expose brokenness and point people toward their Savior. While the first approach only adds to the exhaustion of the hearers, this second approach is music to their souls. They no longer have to continue on the treadmill of performance, trying to make God smile. They no longer have to pretend they are doing better than they really are. Instead, they can admit their weakness and more fully embrace the beauty of their Savior. It really is good news!

Copyright 2009 by Alan Kraft All Rights Reserved
I've been on this rat wheel, I still know people on this rat wheel.  That's why I'm including it here.