Archives For Evangelicalism

#MyParadiseIn5Words was trending on twitter recently. Thousands offered what their paradise would be like. Many said things like “Permanently ending cancer and war” or “never getting out of bed” and pretty much every five-word sentence you can imagine. It’s fascinating to ask non-Christians about heaven. They rarely think about it. To them, heaven is on earth and made up of worldly pleasures.

Recently during a conversation about whether we should talk about hell with our kids, someone in the group asked how often we talk to our kids about heaven? It made me wonder, how often do people talk about heaven in general?

Paul writing in Colossians 3:1-4 says, Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

In Paul’s opinion being with Christ should be the focus of our life. We should be actively training our minds to think about the day when Christ, our life, is revealed.

Sadly it is easy to be distracted, temporal concerns can easily grab our attention and overall it seems like we don’t think or talk about heaven nearly enough. Here are ten reasons why heaven should often be on our minds and in our conversations.

We will spend eternity there

This is obvious but we have to start here. John in Revelation 21:3-4 says, And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” This verse reminds us of the fact that heaven is eternal and that it is much more glorious than anything we can experience on earth. When we experience pain, sadness and even death our minds should jump to the joy we will experience forever with Christ.

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Young-leopard-tries-to-eat-porcupine-3-570x257The conversation has often happened like this: “Hi pastor. I’ve enjoyed the worship at this church and benefitted from it. I like this and that. But, I just don’t think I can stay. You see, there are too many younger folks and just not enough people my age.” Sadly, it’s something that not a few pastors and church planters have heard.

Now, on the one hand, such conversations evidence something wonderful. Christ is, indeed, building his church from the next generation. In the church I get to serve, few things are more thrilling than the fleet of 20-somethings following Christ, loving his word, diving into sound theology, and pouring themselves out for the church. And the more I speak with church leaders across the country, the more I hear of the same.

But more to the point: I often run into situations where seasoned saints avoid a church due to an age gap. Granted, some might be necessarily hesitant to plug into churches because of the irreverent, unbiblical tone too-often inherent to us youth (cf. 1 Tim. 4:12). But even then, seasoned saints should rethink avoiding such churches. The younger generation needs the older to hurry them out of youth. That’s a fact innate to every sphere of life: the less experienced need the shaping of the more experienced. But for some reason, we often see a lack where, of all places, it should be most embraced; the church.

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I still remember sitting in a high school class when all of a sudden my teacher had an epiphany.

“What if Eminem got saved?” she exclaimed, “Do you know how popular he is??? He would start rapping for Jesus and millions would be saved!”

eminemShe went on to pray for a few minutes that God would save Eminem and use him to save millions.

I remember sitting there and thinking that it would be a great thing if someone as famous as Eminem got saved, because not only would people be more likely to listen to him, but they would probably be more likely to think well of me as a Christian.

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One of the saddest statements I heard in college was during a job interview. The owner, a Christian himself said, “I usually don’t hire Christians, they have been some of the worst workers over the years”. Hopefully as I worked for him I didn’t encourage that sentiment.

Of course this isn’t universal. I have also worked for bosses who loved hiring Christians and were very thankful for the hard work they received.

As believers we know that our calling is higher. We do work for men, but ultimately it is God whom we serve. As we work hard we are ultimately declaring our belief in the Gospel, and our hope in eternity. Paul says in Ephesians 6:5-8,

Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; not by way of eye-service, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free.

rulesEvery once in a while I run into an old paper from college or seminary. Not too long ago I found a little article a professor shared with us that was written by an old pastor. He offered 14 rules that he tried to live by in order to be the best pastor possible. As I looked through his “rules” it was obvious that this didn’t just apply to pastors, but rather it could be applied to any job anywhere.

Rule #1 – Eagerly start the day’s main work

Rule #2 – Do not murmur at your busyness or the shortness of time but buy up the time all around.

Rule #3 – Never murmur when correspondence is brought in.

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Clouds without Water

For more than four decades, John MacArthur has led the fight for the supremacy of the truth and of sound doctrine—not only within the walls of his own church, but also throughout the evangelical church at large. Surrounded by other defenders of biblical teaching, Pastor John has devoted his ministry to safeguarding the inerrancy of Scripture, the lordship of Christ, and the literal truth of the creation account in Genesis. But perhaps the most far-reaching and pernicious error that our he has battled against is the damning doctrine of the health, wealth, and prosperity “gospel.”

Three years ago, Grace to You hosted the Strange Fire Conference at Grace Church in order to defend the truth against the heresies of the Word of Faith movement and other Charismatic aberrations. Faithful pastors like R.C. Sproul, Steve Lawson, and Conrad Mbewe stood alongside Pastor MacArthur to declare the absolute sufficiency of the written Word of God.

Another of those faithful men was Justin Peters, a longtime friend of The Master’s Seminary and Grace Community Church. Justin suffers from cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair. Believing he could be healed by a Word-of-Faith faith healer, like thousands of others he became disillusioned when he was not healed. This launched him into critical study of Charismaticism, and today his ministry is devoted to exposing the damaging and damning effects of the doctrine and practice of the Word of Faith movement, sounding the call for discernment among Christ’s flock.

Justin will be with us again on July 29–30 as the featured speaker of a weekend conference hosted by the GraceLife fellowship group. Entitled “Clouds without Water: A Biblical Critique of the Word of Faith Movement,” the conference consists of four seminars that explore such topics as the biblical definition of discernment and common objections against it, the cultic origins of the Word of Faith movement, a critical evaluation of Charismatic practices (e.g., abusing tongues, being slain in the Spirit, supposed visits to heaven, etc.), and the question of whether it is always God’s will to heal.

Jude calls the false teachers troubling the early church “clouds without water” (Jude 1:12), because they promise spiritual benefit (as clouds promise rain) but never deliver, leaving the church hopeless and disillusioned. We must be on guard against such teachers, and must be equipped to help others be discerning as well. We are confident that our church family will be served by Justin’s ministry. If you’re in the Los Angeles area this next weekend, we hope you’ll join us for what will be a special time of practical instruction from God’s Word.

Clouds Without Water Conference

July 29–30 • Grace Church Family Center
Cost: $15 (includes breakfast and lunch on Saturday)

GraceLife is partnering with the Logos Bible Institute for this event, so those who would like to attend this conference for Logos elective credit may do so.

For more information or to register, visit, https://www.gracechurch.org/logos/posts/960.
Note: Registration closes Monday, 7/25 at 11:59pm, so be sure to register right away.
Note also that childcare is not available for this event.

GIFSec.com

GIFSec.com

You’ve probably heard it many times. “We just need to get back to the days of the early church.” “You know, things would be so much better in contemporary Christianity if we were more like the early church.”

While there were some great things happening then, I’m not so sure that I am eager to get back to the early church days. They, too, had their problems. Here are a few reasons why we might put the brakes on the glamorization of the early church.

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pulpit

jennmjackson.com

It happened again. Another pastor has fallen. From Mark Driscoll, to Darrin Patrick, Bob Coy, Tullian Tchividjian, and now Perry Noble; the past few years have witnessed more pastoral disqualifications than any of us would like to see.

As a young man with eight mere years of senior pastor experience, I have been attempting to learn and re-learn a few basic-but-essential lessons from these tragedies. A few thoughts for some of us young men in positions of church leadership:

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SB_1146

This post is an update to an earlier article published on The Master’s Seminary blog, An Imminent Attack on Religious Liberty.

On June 30, a piece of proposed state legislation made its way to the California State Assembly Committee on Judiciary. The bill (SB 1146) has already passed in the state senate by a vote of 26–13.

The next stop for the bill, at this point, is the Assembly Committee on Appropriations, before it goes to the floor for a vote. Because the bill is continually being amended, an analysis of the bill as it currently stands can be read here. Or, for a more readable interpretation of the bill, see here.

The goal of this post is to answer some basic questions about this proposed piece of legislation. 

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Pro-abortion protesters at the Texas Capitol, opposing a law that would hold abortuaries to the medical standards of surgical centers.

Pro-abortion protesters at the Texas Capitol, opposing a law that would hold abortuaries to the medical standards of surgical centers.

This week the US Supreme Court struck down Texas’ attempts to regulate abortions by ensuring that the “surgical centers” that preformed them met the same regulations as every other surgery center in the state. The court said that this would be an “undo burden” on women, because “common sense” says that most abortion clinics fail to meet medical standards.

The ruling was shocking for a number of reasons. First, this case was completely backwards from the court’s previous abortion cases. In this case, it was the pro-life side that was advocating for women’s protections. In previous attempts to regulate abortion, the pro-abortion side of the argument made appeals to “back-alley abortions” and showed how eliminating abortion facilities would drive women to the “back alley” where they would be harmed.

Then came Kermit Gosnell, the serial killer who operated an abortion clinic as his cover. He killed not only babies in the womb, but also babies that were accidentally delivered alive, as well as a mother. Despite his “house of horrors” (the DA’s phrase), he was allowed to continue murdering people because there were no laws against having an abortuary soaked with cat urine, stained with blood, and filled with disease. In fact, while he was convicted of murder, Gosnell was actually first arrested for giving bogus prescriptions for pain killers.

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A while back, I wrote an article on truths we’re keeping from our youth groups. While the response was positive, some people wrote back desiring an article directed towards parents.

Parenting is one of the most difficult things God has tasked us with in this life, but it can also be one of the most fulfilling. Parents desire much for their kids: happiness, success, friendship, marriage, and many children. Perhaps the greatest struggle parents have is to balance physical needs and spiritual needs. We all want our kids to be saved, but few want their children to be missionaries, or even worse, martyrs.

The youth leaders also have a difficult responsibility; they want to influence students while also respecting parents and their leadership. Sometimes he or she must tell the children to do things or think things that are different than what their parents believe, and this causes great stress and difficulty for the leaders. Here are some things that most youth leaders wished parents knew and believed before ever dropping their children off for youth group.

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