The Rules of Christian Liberty

freedom

 

This is an outline I made of John MacArthur’s 1976 sermon titled, “Principles of Christian Freedom.”  If you would like read the entire transcript or download the audio, please follow this link:  http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/1843/principles-of-christian-freedom

 

 

 

“You’ve got to know three POINTS : No. 1, the principles, No. 2, the purpose, No. 3, the pattern.
These three things will enable you to glorify God in the use of your Christian freedom.

POINT 1, the principles-

Principle No. 1, edification over gratification.
Edification/building up:
• The Word; read the Bible.
• Preaching and teaching.
• Knowledge puffs up, love builds up.
• Obedience; obedient service.

EVERYTHING you do, build up.

Principle No. 2, others over self.
• When it comes to choosing between what builds me up and what builds him up, I do what builds him up.
• I’m going to do what is spiritually beneficial for both of us if I can, but if I have to make a decision I’ll do what’s most beneficial to others and sacrifice my liberty.
• Condescend to others, love others, and love will build you up more than if you exercise your liberty and tear others down because that becomes a sin.
• Every Christian then in his liberty has to be guided by a spiritual principle, and that is, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
• Give things up for others, for the love of a weaker brother. What are you giving up for somebody else so they don’t stumble? You have to crucify self and self-desire somewhere or you’re never going to know what it is to really be fulfilled as a Christian.

It’s a DISASTER to the church, anyway, and to the fellowship of believers when everybody exercises their liberty and doesn’t care about anybody else.

Principle No. 3, liberty over legalism.
• Don’t ask any silly questions. There’s no sense in making a mountain out of a molehill. If it isn’t an issue, don’t make it an issue. Don’t ask needless questions.
• Don’t get picky.
• Enjoy your liberty.
• Don’t be over scrupulous.
• At all costs, avoid legalism.
• We limit our liberty, not to offend, but we certainly should teach the weaker brother the truths of freedom so he’ll grow out of his legalism. You don’t want to make sure the legalists all stay legalistic because we all continually bow to them.

It’s very COMFORTABLE to be a legalist; cause you don’t have to do anything internally, it’s all in a box for you. You have a little list, “I don’t, I do, I don’t, I do, I don’t, I do, sometimes I do, I don’t, I do.” You’ve got all your little lists there. That’s a lot easier than living by the Holy Spirit’s power because that you have to yield to in an internal way. So you want to take somebody out of the little box of rules and you want to allow them to have the freedom to operate and the freedom that God has given them.

Principle No. 4, condescension over condemnation.
• If you have to choose between offending a Christian and offending a non-Christian, offend the non-Christian.
• Don’t do something that’s going to make your Christian brother condemn you.
• Don’t thank God and go out and do something that’s going to make some other Christian condemn you for doing it.
• You can’t thank God for something that another Christian brother’s going to stumble over.

If you have to choose between a Christian and a non-Christian, offend the non-Christian at that point, in order that your love might be made manifest to the world. And I don’t mean that you should just run out and offend non-Christians just at will. The basic rule, Beloved, don’t offend what? Anybody. But if you have to choose, offend yourself before you offend a weaker brother. And if you have to choose, offend an unbeliever before you offend a weaker brother. But if you can don’t offend anybody. Condescension over condemnation. Don’t do anything that’s going to cause somebody else to condemn you. Now there are the principles, Beloved.

POINT 2, the purpose – 

Let’s go to point two, the purpose. Why does he give us the principles? Why does he tell us edification over gratification, others over self, liberty over legalism, condescension over condemnation, verse 31, “Therefore…here’s why…so that whether you eat or drink or whatever you do it will be done all… what?…to the glory of God.” God is glorified when you do it with these principles in mind. You want to glorify God? Do you think it’s important to glorify God or to be a reproach to God? To glorify. Do you want to glorify him follow the principles. What is the purpose…bang…verse 31, “That God will be glorified.”

POINT 3, the pattern – 

Lastly, the pattern. It’s fine to have the principles, it’s fine to have the purpose, but Paul closes with a very typical, practical word. He says, “Let me give you a model to follow.” Verse 32, “Give no offense neither to the Jews nor to the Greeks nor to the Church of God.” And there you have the three divisions, incidentally, of humanity: Israel, the Gentiles, and the church. Don’t offend any of them. And here comes the pattern…even as…what’s the next word?…I. Paul says, “I’m the model. I’m the pattern. Even as I please all men, in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many that they may be…what? Saved.”

– John MacArthur, “Principles of Christian Freedom”

 

Christ is Lord. What does that mean?

Jesus-Christ-is-Lord“That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6).

When we sin, we are said to be “of the flesh,” meaning spiritually disobedient which can result in physical, mental, and emotional disobedience.

At any given time, our actions can only be “of the flesh” or “of the Spirit,” but not both at once. If a person sins, we can safely say at that moment the Holy Spirit was not the driving force behind the action. Yet when a person thinks or lives righteously, it is fully the Holy Spirit at work within us by the grace of God. The Bible gives no percentages of “of the Spirit” or ratios of “of the flesh”it’s either one or the other.

That means that after salvation, we have times when we sin, of course, and we can obviously state that at the moment of sin we are not obedient to the Lordship of Christ. But when a person is saved, they are filled with the Holy Spirit, which is referred to in Scripture as the “baptism of the Spirit,” and we are “in the Spirit” in that moment, therefore we 100%, absolutely have and receive and submit to Christ as our Lord, for the first time, at that time.

Of course the Spirit chooses Christ as Lord of us, but we are indwelt with the Spirit, we are transformed into new creatures that will forevermore have the Holy Spirit within us, therefore we also are part in parcel of the whole operation. We do good deeds, think good thoughts, and have good affections, because we are driven by the Holy Spirit. As Paul says, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I LABORED even more than all of them, YET NOT I, but the grace of God with me” (1 Cor 15:10).

And from that point forward – the point when we are saved and transformed and receive the Spirit – we continuously grow in His likeness in love, obedience, study and sanctification, and we continuously are “in the Spirit” for the rest of our lives, because the Spirit lives inside of us and is always present within us. However, we still can and do sin, and in those sinning moments we are “of the flesh” and in those moments, in our disbelief and disobedience, we are not submitting ourselves to Christ’s Lordship. However, we do not maintain a lifestyle that resists His Lordship, because as the Bible says, “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin” (Rom 6:6). We will always crave and return to obedience and submission to Him. That’s part of our assurance and a result of our being transformed.

Here is something the Scripture says about the relationship between Spirit and flesh, “For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.

But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, HE WHO RAISED CHRIST JESUS FROM THE DEAD WILL ALSO GIVE LIFE TO YOUR MORTAL BODIES THROUGH HIS SPIRIT WHO DWELLS IN YOU.

So then, brethren, we are under OBLIGATION, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but IF BY THE SPIRIT you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:5-15).

“Faith without works is dead” (James 2:20, 26) sends the same message, but much more profound and compact. If your nature is truly changed, if you are truly a transformed creature (2 Cor 3:18; 2 Cor 5:17) with new affections and a new heart (Ez 36:26), then because the Holy Spirit lives inside of you, you will relentlessly and forever crave more than anything else to be “of the Spirit” and obedient to the Lordship of Christ, living righteously and pleasing to God. And that is one very easy way I can explain Lordship Salvation when we are saved, we are for the first time filled with the Holy Spirit, obedient, and therefore are “of the Spirit,” and therefore we 100%, absolutely have and receive and obediently submit to Christ as our Lord, for the first time, at that time, and then forevermore afterwards.

Anything less is not true salvation.

True Belief Desk Reference

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This article is intended to be a quick desk reference for checking yourself to see if you have true #belief.  Some of the ideas and concepts actually require much more exposition, and this of course is not exhaustive, however that was the goal.   There is more to be said and added to this desk reference, and perhaps that is just what I’ll do in the future.  Please use this, bookmark it, and remind yourself and others that the Bible does indeed present a standard of true belief.  

What does it mean to believe? What is genuine belief in Christ? How does a person know if their belief is true belief or merely an empty, confused, hellbound profession?
“We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin” (Rom 6:6).

True belief is the result of a heart change (Ez 36:26); a change of will; a transformed volition (2 Cor 5:17). True belief is indivisibly coupled with love (1 John 4:16), truth, the Holy Spirit and joy (Acts 13:52), and submissive obedience to Christ alone and above all (Rom 2:7-9). True belief reads the Bible and knows God’s words are serious and true (John 8:31; Acts 17:11) and His commands are to be followed and obeyed (John 3:36). True belief is never-ending (Luke 8:15). True belief seeks God, teaching from the men of God, and fellowship with His Church (John 7:18; Acts 2:42; 1 John 1:6-7; 1 John 4:20-21). True belief seeks peace, and serves and submits to his fellow brothers and sisters in the body of Christ, the Church (1 Peter 2:13; Col 3:23-25), because true belief is not rebellious or selfish. True belief is hungry to learn about Christ (1 Pet 2:2). True belief seeks holiness and purity (1 Pet 1:14–16). True belief results in repentance (2 Cor 7:10). True belief hates and confesses sin (1 John 1:9)! True belief prays to God (Matt 6:9), knowing without a doubt that He is, and enjoys fellowship with Father and Christ (1 Cor 1:9; Rom 8:15)! True belief yearns for the Jesus’s return (1 John 3:2-3; Titus 2:11-13 )! True belief suffers for Him (1 John 3:13; 1 John 5:13; 1 Pet 4:4; 1 Pet 2:20)!

You know you have true belief when you continue to deepen in your faith when trials test you (Rom 5:3). You have true belief when you never stop loving Christ, and you cannot live as a continuous slave to sin (Rom 6:16-18). True belief in Christ never again is sold-out to sin, it never returns to that state of bondage (Rom 6:6). True belief cannot be temporary. True belief struggles in love for Christ forevermore, perhaps not perfectly, but endlessly. True belief is sold-out to Christ, and Him alone (John 14:6Luke 16:13; Matt 12:30), permanently.  True belief inevitably results in action, outward works and righteousness that are a manifestation of the inward belief (James 2:17-18).

Remember, without true belief a person is not saved. A person is not a Christian, or a true follower of Christ, without true belief. We must truly believe in His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension as historical fact. The Biblical account is not a fable or spiritual metaphor. The Biblical account is something that actually happened. True belief is the only saving belief; and doubt, skepticism, and agnosticism are just forms of disbelief. The Biblical definition of salvation requires true belief in Christ.

“It is encouraging, however, that the same kind of tribulation that makes the false believer wither makes the true believer stronger. ” – John MacArthur

Hidden Presuppositions: The Pretended Neutrality Fallacy.

Hiding Secrets“One can see this by considering the following quotation from Dr.Stein:

“The use of logic or reason is the only valid way to examine the truth or falsity of any statement which claims to be factual.”

One must eventually ask Dr. Stein, then, how he proves this statement itself. That is, how does he prove that logic or reason is the only way to prove factual statements? He is now on the horns of a real epistemological dilemma. If he says that the statement is true by logic or reason, then he is engaging in circular reasoning; and he’s begging the question which he [supposedly] forbids. If he says that the statement is proven in some other fashion, then he refutes the statement itself, that logic or reason is the only way to prove things.

Now my point is not to fault Dr. Stein’s commitment to logic or reason, but to observe that it actually has the nature of a pre commitment or a presupposition. It is not something that he has proven by empirical experience or logic, but it is rather that by which he proceeds to prove everything else. He is not presuppositionally neutral in his approach to factual questions and disputes. He does not avoid begging crucial questions, rather than proving them in what we might call the garden variety, ordinary way.

Now this tendency to beg crucial questions is openly exposed by Dr. Stein when the issue becomes the existence of God; because he demands that the theist present him with the evidence for the existence of God. Well, theists like myself would gladly and readily do so.

There is the evidence of the created order itself testifying to the wisdom. power, plan, and glory of God. One should not miss the testimony of the solar system, the persuasion of the sea, the amazing intricacies of the human body.

There’s the evidence of history: God’s deliverance of His people, the miracles on Passover night and [at] the Red Sea, the visions in Isaiah, the Shekinah Glory that filled the Temple, the Virgin Birth of Jesus, His mighty miracles, His resurrection from the dead.

There’s the evidence of Special Revelation, the wonder of the Bible as God’s Word, unsurpassed in its coherence over time, in its historical accuracy and its life-renewing power.

In short, there is no shortage of empirical indicators or evidences of God’s existence – from the thousand stars of the heavens to the 500 witnesses of Christ’s resurrection. But, Dr. Stein precludes the very possibility of any of this empirical evidence counting as proof for God’s existence. He writes,

“Supernatural explanations are not allowed in science. The theist is hard put to document his claims for the existence of the supernatural if he is in effect forbidden from evoking the supernatural as a part of his explanation. Of course, this is entirely fair; as it would be begging the question to use what has to be proved as a part of the explanation.”

In advance, you see, Dr. Stein is committed to disallowing any theistic interpretation of nature, history or experience. What he seems to overlook is that this is just as much begging the question on his own part as it is on the part of the theist. who appeal to such evidence.  He has not at all proven by empirical observation and logic his pre commitment to Naturalism. He has assumed it in advance, accepting and rejecting all further factual claims in terms of that controlling and unproved assumption.

Now the theist does the very same thing, don’t get me wrong. When certain empirical evidences are put forth as likely disproving the existence of God, the theist regiments his commitments in terms of his presuppositions, as well. Just as the Naturalist would insist that Christ could not have risen from the dead, or that there is a natural explanation yet to be found of how he did rise from the dead, so the supernaturalist will insist that the alleged discrepancies in the Bible have an explanation – some yet to be found, perhaps – and that the evil of this world has a sufficient reason behind it, known at least to God.

They both have their governing presuppositions by which the facts of experience are interpreted, even as all philosophical systems, all world views do. At the most fundamental level of everyone’s thinking and beliefs there are primary convictions about reality, man, the world, knowledge, truth, behavior, and such things.

Convictions about which all other experience is organized, interpreted, and applied. Dr. Stein has such presuppositions, so do I, and so do all of you. And it is these presuppositions which determine what we accept by ordinary reasoning and evidence, for they are assumed in all of our reasoning – even about reasoning itself.”

– Dr. Greg Bahnsen, “The Great Debate: Does God Exist? Dr. Greg Bahnsen vs. Dr. Gordon Stein, 1985”

 

The Importance of Doctrine

The Doctrine of GodThere are people who are actually saying, “we don’t need doctrine we just need to love people.”

A person saying that cannot possibly have read the books of Timothy or Titus, and a person rejecting doctrine must have no clue even what the word “doctrine” really means. There are many, many places that explain the unyielding importance of doctrine, but Timothy and Titus specifically use the word “doctrine” over and over like an emergency siren. The English word “doctrine” comes from the Greek root word “διδασκαλία” which simply means “teaching.” To reject doctrine is to reject the Bible, the Word of God and Jesus Christ.

It’s ironic, and quite a bit silly, that a person would embrace the teaching of “loving people” (Mark 12:31), yet reject the idea of teaching. That’s a direct contradiction. Doctrine is teaching; the Bible is all doctrine. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” The Greek word used there for “teaching” is “διδασκαλίαν” which can be translated as either doctrine or teaching. So the verse says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for doctrine.”

So you either embrace the doctrine of Christ, or you reject it, but you cannot cherry-pick just a couple parts of Jesus’s teaching you wish to accept. Christ’s message about Himself is clear, “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters” (Matt 12:30) – all or nothing, Heaven or Hell, truth or lie, right or wrong, yes or no, all in or all out – we don’t get to invent our own middle ground and replace His life and eternal message with some compromised half-truth. A half-truth is a lie. Anyone espousing that doctrine is not needed is a liar. Every time you see a chapter and verse referenced, you are seeing a reference to doctrine. Here are just 8 direct references,

1. “In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following” (1 Tim 4:6).

2. “All who are under the yoke as slaves are to regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine will not be spoken against” (1 Tim 6:1).

3. “Teach and preach these principles. If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing” (1 Tim 6 2-4).

4. “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires” (2 Tim 4:3).

5. “holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict” (Titus 1:9).

6. “But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1).

7. “in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine” (Titus 2:7).

8. “showing all good faith so that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect” (Titus 2:10).

If you reject the teaching, the doctrine, of Christ, then in the most serious sense, you reject Christ Himself. So do away with the false idea that doctrine is unnecessary, because the Holy Bible is a collection of doctrine. To say that doctrine isn’t needed is to say that the Bible isn’t needed, and you cannot say you love people and yet reject God. You cannot love God and hate His Word. You cannot separate God from His revealed will for us, His doctrine.

This is why getting to know the doctrine at a church is extremely important. You must study what the Bible teaches and compare that to how your church is interpreting and representing the Bible. There are a zillion false doctrines out there, and a zillion pastors who sneak false doctrine into their churches.

Besides, it’s easy to check up on it! Just look for your churches “statement of faith” or “articles of faith” or “doctrine” or “doctrinal statement” or a section titled “what we believe” or something like that, and you will be able to compare what the Bible says against what your church claims it says. The next step when evaluating your church after you have established that is has good doctrine, is to examine if they are applying that doctrine and actually living out the truth that they claim. Now go research it, because it may be the most important research you ever do!

Also beware of a pastor that only says, “we believe the Bible” and avoids any further elaboration. I have met too many pastors in person who know they have false doctrine, and they realize you are seeking to research, so they give you that answer in order to prevent you from finding them out. They will hide their doctrine from you. I have met a very large number of “Bible believing” men and churches who were extremely unbiblical and who held to tons of false doctrines. So, press the issue and get the facts and if they refuse to give you documented proof of their doctrine, then get out fast!  Always ask for documentation!  This is because many people will refuse to document their beliefs because they know how easily their ideas are disproven on paper, so they keep their words limited to conversations they can manipulate or distort.  The will talk circles around others, and can almost always convince you, so be careful and take the information home to study against Scripture for yourself!

The Scary Truth about Abortion and Evangelism

Abortion is MurderAbortion is the murder of babies, and it’s wrong, evil and sinful. That’s the obvious biblical truth of the matter of abortion – the ones who abort children, and those who participate, are murderers. I agree with that fact wholeheartedly. I also agree with the basic concept of standing outside of abortion clinics in an attempt to prevent as much murder as possible. That’s a good cause, and as Christians I do believe that’s not only a reasonable, but also a prime place for evangelism. I even consider it cowardice to avoid evangelism, the proclamation Gospel. However…

The overly aggressive, overly emotional, violent, bigoted, excessively passionate, mindlessly zealous, and prideful response to this particular sin by some Christians is so hurtful that there’s no way it can be considered any less than blind rage, which is certainly sin. I see this so often in many of the younger, newly studied Christians who have learned just enough information to be arrogant and convinced of their own understanding, yet they aren’t experienced or seasoned enough to approach the situation with discernment and love. Their version of love is skewed, and they get so charged it seems they believe physically assaulting someone is even a reasonable response if it means saving a life. You see them swell up, justified by their studies and convictions, and hulk out on others without any calm and their ears are shut off. They get so overcharged they perceive any attempt to calm them as a direct challenge or insult. It’s almost as if they are using the cause of abortion as an occasion for the flesh. It almost seems that they have found this aggravation, this cause, this outlet, that they can violently beat to death in some sort of display. I’ve talked to people who I’ve agreed with, and told them I agreed with them, and yet it’s like their ears are off and they are just in some manic, anxious state that prevents them from thinking reasonably.

As I mentioned in the first paragraph, I am in agreement that the issue is severe and deserves immediate action, but not that kind of action. Not that autopilot action that has it’s mind made up and no calm and gentleness. What’s worse is they take this burden on themselves, and usually become totally obsessed to the point that the issue of abortion consumes them and they are single-minded from that point forward, unable to be truly effective for the Kingdom of God, because they subvert their own evangelism and witness due to this obnoxious, blind, pervasive and aggressive aura that they project to the people around them. As if their new mission in life is no longer to share the love of Christ, but to be a vigilante for Christ who verbally bludgeons and aggressively rebukes anyone who gets near this issue.

It’s not helpful for evangelism, in fact, I believe it is the result of an error in rational thought. It is a malfunction in a mind, that may even have good intentions, but the wire get crossed somehow and they internalize and externalize all the anger, fear, passion, and zeal against this one sin that it shuts them down to the whole world like a drug, and that drug is pride and hatred in the name of a good cause. It’s like they are on this drug, and the high becomes harder and harder to achieve, so they go to more radical and more extreme measures to be as aggressive and as off-putting as possible, and everyone who disagrees or questions them automatically becomes the enemy. The Gospel becomes an afterthought, or a side-issue, that must take a backseat to fighting abortion, but they will never admit that. They can’t see it. If you ask them, they will deny that part. They only see this grand mission and good cause, and for some reason they can’t see that they are being hurtful and sinful – and that’s when the line is crossed. And it is so subtle and so easy to cross that line. A person can be fine one moment, then the next moment they are practically assaulting strangers in the name of “love.” This is what so many people see when they see protesters outside of an abortion clinic. They see those people, those crazy, over-the-top people who are borderline sociopaths with no regard of the people standing right in front of them.

But anyone really paying close attention knows better. When I meet a person for the first time, I want to challenge them with the Gospel and lovingly present to them with Jesus Christ before I bombard them with my anger and passion to stop their sin, whatever that sin may be. Ultimately, starting a fight with a person who hasn’t heard the Gospel is reckless and pointless, because the only person that’s going to stop their faithless actions is Christ. How can a person stop sinning without the Gospel? Imagine all the other sins which also send them to Hell, like lying, stealing, raping and gluttony. When we approach any unsaved persons, we must remember that they are all going to Hell regardless of what sins they are committing.

They are all sinning faithlessly, and sure part of evangelizing is confronting that truth with them, but their needs to be discernment because more important than merely being “right,” is being right and “effective.” It’s not only about telling them the truth, it’s about having empathy and discernment to approach the person as effectively as possible. I remember listening to a very respected professor at the Master’s Seminary describe evangelizing Islamic people, and he said that you couldn’t bring up the deity of Christ right away because the Islamic person would walk away immediately. It took a finesse, and true love and empathy for the person to be communicated first, then he would bring up that subject. It was ineffective and counterproductive to do things that way, and his goal was to be an effective communicator and it requires the other party to listen in order to do that. Scaring them off and being hurtful only turns their ears off too, and then the whole process of communication is shut down on both sides, thereby making evangelism, which requires communication, impossible.

All unsaved persons are in the same boat, whether or not they specifically commit abortion. So the thing I must care about firstly, regardless of what particular sins are being committed, is the person standing right in front of me. I care about the sinner, I care about the lost, and I love them and want to communicate that love to them. If I don’t care about the person committing the abortion, then how can I say I care about the child they want to abort? Therefore, it is extremely important that the first thing I do when I meet any sinner is treat them with that love and give them the Gospel. All the other information I can gather can help me to do that effectively, and with experience we learn how to treat and approach each person in a way that caters to their individual way of understanding. This way I am effective. I can’t say it enough – effective, effective, effective. That’s the goal. I’m not evangelizing just to reach a quota or say I did it, there needs to be an excellence and a finesse that comes from experience. So every time I speak with people I need to be paying attention and trying very hard to gather information and learn about the person standing right in front of me. I need to be growing in wisdom and knowledge and discernment and technique.

I need to have different approaches for different people, because not everyone has the same level of understanding. If I am not sober-minded enough to evaluate and discern the type of person I have standing in front of me, then I’m blind and will potentially destroy the whole communication process because I’m clueless. That’s why we have to understand people, know people, and be effective with people, so that we can successfully communicate the Gospel to them. Of course, we can’t always do that and we won’t always be able to, but that’s the goal and should be the main objective.

I don’t bludgeon people at the Redline Metro Station when I evangelize there, and I won’t bludgeon people outside of the abortion clinic either, because I love them. I truly love them. That means I value them and optimistically believe that God can do His work in them. I have faith. I have trust in the Lord. I have courage to let them speak and get to know them. I have patience to speak to them on behalf of Scripture. Sure, there are all types out there, but so many evangelists or protesters approach every single person with the exact same wordscripts and have no ability to read or discern the people they are engaging. They just swing with their eyes closed and foul it all up in a passionate anger. That seems more like sin to me, a non-excellent mindset that’s oblivious to their surroundings.

I hate abortion. I hate murder. I hate sin, all of it! And I obviously cannot allow my hatred of sin to take up a personal crusade against every particular sin occurring around me, because that would cause me to get into a fight every time I go to the grocery store. I’d be flailing around screaming at the cashier for wearing a scantily clad outfit, then I’d rebuke the guy in the parking lot for being drunk, and then I’d freak out on the lady headed to the abortion clinic. I agree that abortion is one of the worst things in the world, but that’s exactly why it must be handled very carefully and with a heightened level of discernment. They are walking into this place, already emotionally charged, as are you, and pouring fuel and zeal unto that situation is a recipe for failure in communication. Maybe the overtly zealous and loud approach works on some people, and for those people go right ahead and use that method. But that’s one method, and it certainly isn’t the approach that works on most people, so diversify the way you handle people and by all means sacrifice yourself and your pride for love and kindness. Be dynamic! Be selfless! Be engaging! Be straight forward and honest! And most importantly be effective and communicate the Gospel, otherwise you are wasting your time and being hurtful to the body of Christ.

Ask yourself this, “Why should I treat the person committing abortion any less loving than I treat the person who hates God?” They’re both headed to Hell, the only difference is that hating God is a greater crime and every single unsaved person is guilty of not loving God. To love God is the greatest commandment, therefore hating God is the worst sin and all unsaved are guilty of faithlessness. So even if there were some precedent to bludgeon people outside of an abortion clinic, then likewise there’d be just as much urgency to bludgeon every single unsaved person. But thank God we know better than that, and that we have the discernment and ability to EFFECTIVELY communicate to people. We have the wisdom and knowledge to learn and grow and become a SUCCESSFUL tool of the Lord who can optimize our potential to reach others with the Gospel. It takes more love than anything, and more grace and mercy than anything, and more discernment and caring than anything, and more of the Word of God and the truths of Scripture than anything, so go out to the abortion clinics and go out to the grocery store and the mall and everywhere else and prove to those people that you love them, show them you love them, and radically express how deeply you care about them, because that’s how we present the Gospel to unsaved people for the glory of God.

 

abortion rate americaabortion total 1973

Lights off: what does your church’s music sound like?

dark worship

We have the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16).

I’m concerned about this Jesus Culture music that just repeats “fill me up Lord” over and over. I personally know many people that listen to that sort of thing and actually think that is worshiping God. I’m glad they addressed that at the #StrangeFire Conference and explained how that hypnotic repetition is not at all how the Holy Spirit even operates. If a person wants the Holy Spirit, mindlessly doing a yoga-like chant is not the Biblical understanding of getting “Spirit-filled.”

Every false religion in the world could play that music as an introduction, because there’s no theology in it. They use that music as their front-runner, as their hook, then they follow up by preaching watered-down or false religious concepts.

The actual issues can be found in the reality that churches that confront sin in their congregation, that have a high view of Scripture, and that hold the congregation to a Biblical lifestyle – like reformed churches and other churches who have a high view of Scripture – they don’t use music that avoids depth. For the most part, you don’t see churches playing that shallow music in combination with theologically deep music, it’s one or the other. Churches tend to either have the lights off with the music shallow and emotional, or they have the lights on singing songs with deeper Scriptural truths which require thought and contemplation.

In high-view churches the discipline is greater, the worship is more profound, and the people are focused on Christ and Biblical accuracy all week long. Typically the congregants are just as versed in Scripture as the pastor. They don’t come crawling to church on Sunday for an emotional dump. Sure that still happens sometimes, but to a far lesser degree because of the Biblical ways they handle things like worship, preaching and attitudes toward the Christian life. With a high view of Scripture especially, you just don’t combine that with a shallow, emotional “worship” service.  Instead their worship is in everything they do and handle Biblically in Christ with His Word in mind – work, play, music, relationships, counsel and daily routines are structured with a Biblical pattern. Everything becomes a form of worship in knowledge and truth, and that just doesn’t allow for catering to emotion-driven activities, especially in a church service, because unlike the Word of God, emotions rise and fall like rollercoasters. Maintaining a level of excellence means fortifying everything with mind-consuming thoughts of the Christ and the Word of God. Music in a church should never allow for mental neutrality or distract from Scriptural truths, thereby encouraging very poor living and error.

Here’s a quote that describes a better understanding of what it means to be Spirit-filled, “What we’re talking about when we talk about being filled with the Spirit is not an event. We’re not talking about some kind of momentous experience. We’re not talking about some kind of euphoria. We’re not talking about something that zaps you out of nowhere. We’re not talking about quote/unquote being anointed. Rather we’re talking about a constant way of life, a constant reality, be being kept continuously filled with the Spirit….The word here speaks not of filling up, but filling through. The contrast would be the difference between filling up a glass with water and filling the sails of a sailboat with wind. That is a very different kind of reality. One is static, and the other is not. We’re not talking about being filled up with the Holy Spirit, as if that is some kind of momentary experience. But rather living an entire life that is literally carried along, moved along by the Holy Spirit like wind filling a sails to move the ship along.

In fact, the idea of this verb here is permeation, powerful permeation…And I can give you some illustrations…John 16:6 it refers to being filled with sorrow…Luke 5:26 it talks about being filled with fear…Luke 6:11 it talks about someone who is filled with madness…Acts 6:5 it refers to someone who is filled with faith. And, do you remember, in Acts 5 it talks about Ananias who was filled with Satan…That is talking about a dominating influence…That’s what it means to be filled with the Spirit. It means to be totally controlled by the influence of the Holy Spirit. And we are commanded to be in that condition at all times, under the continual control of the Holy Spirit…In other words, the rich, full truth concerning Christ, let it permeate your inner thought life. Your Spirit, your soul, your mind, this is exactly the same thing. To be filled with the Spirit is to be permeated by the truth concerning Christ revealed in Scripture.”John MacArthur

Imagine reading God’s Word and every page says the same thing as the last? Not to mention this whole idea that the way the Holy Spirit fills us is by our chanting at Him over and over is just ridiculously absurd. Music that repeats theologically incorrect ideas, like begging the spirit to enter them. If we are truly born again we already have the Spirit inside of us. Asking the Spirit to fill us is not the way. Understanding Scripture is the way we are moved along by the Spirit, that’s how He fills our sails. We are supposed to work towards purity all the time, not ask God to magically give us a shortcut in some isolated burst of emotion.

This whole Jesus Culture is a huge redflag of how undiscerning and misinformed people are today. They practically have no clue what the Bible really says about issues, because they don’t study it.  And the lifestyle is that of living a totally unbiblical week, sinning their fill, avoiding godly conversations and Bible study, then crawling into a church service on Sunday where they accept all of their sin, turn off the lights, crank up the emotional music, and tolerate just about anything they could do. Then maybe they cry or maybe they don’t, but they pour out their guilt during the “worship” service in an emotional dump, which convinces them that they’ve done something significant when they actually have done nothing.  This emotional dump becomes a replacement for actual repentance, study, wisdom, knowledge, changing and growing; and it only adds to the problem of not knowing anything about Scripture, purity, discipline, control or Christ-likeness.  They feel the sorrow, but since they made it to church on Sunday, they believe they are even-steven with God now which means they can walk out of there satisfied and it’s back to business as usual. Then they go right back to their sinful lifestyle just as ignorant as they were when they arrived until next service when they do it all over again. That’s why the music is supercharged emotionally, and why it can’t confront sin or involve too much informational truth. They must keep it watered-down, tolerant, generic and emotional to keep up the cycle.

Just to be clear, this article is not really about certain genres of music – I have no dog in that fight. This is really just about theologically incorrect music of any kind, and this emotion-driven era that has replaced sober-minded thinking in Christ. People are happy with shallow lyrics and pulsing beats, just like the culture, and have abandoned music that requires deep contemplation on Biblical truths or that is filled with theologically convicting lyrics.  It makes sense though…how could they sing theologically deep songs about how powerful Christ is in transforming their lives, changing them and saving them, when they are about to walk out of service and live like heathens?  They crave that empty music so they can avoid real, heart-piercing truth and replace it with emotion.

Here’s the link to the Strange Fire Conference Q&A panel discussion, with  Todd Friel, John MacArthur, Steve Lawson, Tom Pennington, Justin Peters, that addresses this issue with Jesus Culture and the effects it has on the churches that use it in worship services:  http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/TM13-11/strange-fire-panel-question-and-answer-session-1