Archives For Evangelicalism

I recently had the privilege of sitting down with the brothers of the Glory Books ministry and talking with Pastor Will Costello about my book, Sanctification: The Christian’s Pursuit of God-Given Holiness. It was a pleasure to be a guest on their Inner Revolution podcast and to talk about the foundational truths concerning the believer’s growth in Christlikeness. I hope our conversation will be edifying to you as well.

3:23 – Could you tell us a bit about the sanctification debate that has been going on in the last four or five years?

10:13 – You’ve contributed to this discussion in your book, Sanctification: The Christian’s Pursuit of God-Given Holiness. What did you want people to take away after reading your book?

13:15 – You describe sanctification as an internal and supernatural work of the Holy Spirit, which He accomplishes through means. A key thought in your book is that the foundational means of sanctification is beholding the glory of Christ. Can you unpack what it means to behold the glory of Christ?

22:05 – Comments on looking at Christ as the example of our holiness, as well as beholding Christ as the fuel of our holiness.

24:11 – Is it right to say it’s our responsibility to actively behold Christ, but that we are passively transformed by the agency of the Holy Spirit?

28:04 – So is it right to say that sanctification is both a gift and a reward? A reward because we have to work for it, and a gift because we can never achieve it ourselves?

31:06 – Understanding God’s role and man’s role in sanctification.

32:42 – I like that you say in the book that sanctification is glorious because it is through sanctification that God gets what He is worthy of in us.

34:33 – Sometimes people speak of sanctification negatively. They’re having a hard day and they say something like, “Yeah, well I guess this is supposed to work for my sanctification.” It’s not very joyful. And yet Scripture wants us, on the front end, to consider it pure joy when we enter various trials, because that suffering is designed to conform you to Christ. What do we need to keep in mind so that we can embrace sanctification as a wonderful thing?

39:30 – A quote from John Owen on sanctification, one of the greatest paragraphs Mike has read outside of the Bible.

April 26, 2016

Why Cripplegate?

by C-Gate Links

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While there are several verses that are strong arguments for the pre-tribulational rapture, Revelation 3:10 is one of the most persuasive. In it, every single phrase (and word!) points to God’s plan to remove his church from the earth before the seven-year tribulation.

I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth (Revelation 3:10).

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A little over a year ago Steven Furtick, a Pastor in North Carolina, preached a sermon called “It Works Both Ways.” Recently on his Facebook page he took a two minute clip from that sermon and posted it on his facebook page.

broken 10 commandmentsIn short he paints a picture of a parent who finds his child with a severe head injury after having fallen off of the monkey bars. The parent scoops the child up and heads for the car. As he begins driving, he doesn’t even notice the speed limits and even if he did he wouldn’t obey them, because of his love for his child. Similarly, Furtick says “God broke the law for love.” God after giving us the law, displayed his love by breaking it. In essence he loved us more than His own love.

There are many problems with this theologically and philosophically but it is not my purpose in this post to detail them. (If you’re interested in those Tim Challies wrote a very helpful post here)

The reason why the allegation that God broke the law particularly bothered me, and what I am hoping to demonstrate in this post, is that even a simple reading of a single chapter in the Gospel of Luke would show how meticulous Mary, Joseph and Jesus were in making sure Jesus kept the whole law precisely. As we have been teaching through Luke in our young adults group it is clear that in order for Jesus to be the mediator between God and man, He had to be the perfectly obedient God-Man. In fact, so great was the Trinity’s concern for keeping the law, that the One who was being sent to fulfill the law was placed in a family that would be meticulous in their obedience to all the law’s demands in bearing and raising Jesus.

Here are four brief examples from just one chapter of Luke’s Gospel which demonstrate Jesus and His family’s obedience to the law.

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24-7One effective incentive to keep prisoners compliant is the rewarding of good behavior with extended visiting hours for family. One correctional facility in Spain, the Aranjuez Prison, boasts some of the most docile and well behaved prisoners in the world. As long as inmates remain submissive and appear punctually for roll call, they are permitted to have their entire family stay with them in prison indefinitely.

Of course, the spouse and children are permitted to come and go as they please, as long as they don’t smuggle contraband items to the jailbirds. This is a perk that could very easily be abused, and yet it is exceptionally rare that anyone violates the rules, for fear of losing the great privilege of unlimited access to loved ones.

I wonder how seriously you would take your sanctification and your own holiness if you knew you could lose your uninhibited access to visit with God?

Moses was one who truly grasped what a goldmine it was to meet with God. He never got bored, in fact he got greedy for more of God’s glory. Consider what led to this jaw-dropping honor…

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Today I want to give a summary of the foster care case happening out in California involving a family from Grace Church and the ICWA (Indian Child Welfare Act). I—along with many other pastors—have encouraged people to sign a petition about this case, so I think it requires some more explanation, and then I will close with seven recommended posts to read on the ICWA and Lexi.

The gist of the story: Lexi, a six-year-old girl in Los Angeles who had been in foster care since she was seventeen-months old, was placed with a family from Grace Church (where John MacArthur pastors) for the last four years. The family, the Pages, began the process of adopting Lexi after her biological parents both ceased reunification efforts.

In a typial foster-adopt situation, here is what happens: the court would appoint the child an attorney/advocate, who would meet with her, meet with the foster-adopt parents, and meet with any other extended family who want to pursue adoption. The child’s advocate then makes a recommendation to the court based on what would be in the child’s best interest and the court gives its verdict.

But because Lexi is Native American (she is 1/64 Choctaw), the LA County Department of Family and Children’s Services did not follow this approach. Because of the ICWA—a federal law which mandates that in the adoption proceedings of a Native American child that the Indian Tribe get the final say in their placement—the LA County DFCS moved to block the adoption in court, and remove Lexi to extended family in Utah.

Three different times trial courts cited the ICWA and sided with DFCS in wanting Lexi moved to Utah, but the first two times the court was reversed on appeal. The third decision is being appealed now, but while the appeal was pending, DFCS transferred Lexi to Utah.

Now if this were just about one girl, one family, and one church, I probably wouldn’t be blogging on it. But there are several elements of this case that intersect a biblical world view, so I want to address them here. Continue Reading…

Once upon a time there was a girl named Goldilocks…you know the rest. With her insufferable nonchalance for private property, she samples a hijacked bowl of loot and declares it overheated. The next was unappetisingly tepid. But the third offering was deemed to be just right.

Like our picky little porridge connoisseur, cosmologists who explore our planetary neighborhood have also encountered an unexpected unique state of copacetic conditions. Our pale blue dot of a planet is the only chunk of real estate we know of that boasts an inexplicably perfect balance of temperature, gravity, atmospheric pressure, galactic location, solar proximity, axis tilt, rotation speed, and countless other marvels of serendipity. In short, Earth is the only known habitat for humanity that can be confidently described as just right.

Cosmologists, despite their proclivity for abstruse nomenclature, refer to this unparalleled equilibrium rather quaintly as: “the Goldilocks Effect.”balancing galaxy

For scientists who don’t acknowledge God’s wisdom and power in creation, the Goldilocks Effect is merely a description of what is essentially a lucky break on a cosmic scale. But if I were an insouciant atheist physicist (say that three times!) there would be a more pressing question on my agenda than “How did things get just right?” And that is the question “What keeps it all just right?”

Yes, this primordial stew of life support ended up just right. But for how long?
What sustains this vital balance? The answer doesn’t require the brain of an Einstein or a Hawking. The answer is in black and white (and red?) in the New Testament.

Exhibit A…

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“Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” Luke 2:49

young messiahThose are Jesus’ only recorded words in Scripture before the age of thirty. Nothing else. In fact we don’t have anything in Scripture about Jesus between the age of two and the age of thirty. Niente. Zilch. Nada.

Other than informing us about an escape to Egypt, The Sovereign God of the universe that gave us Scripture chose before the foundation of the world to only give us one story about Jesus’ life between his birth and the start of his ministry. It is only right for us to ask ourselves why is it so? Why in the world do we have only one story of a young Jesus?

Hollywood can make a two-hour long movie about Jesus in this time period, but I can already tell you without having watched it that the movie will disappoint any Bible believing Christian. I believe that there is a reason why God gives us only one recorded statement of Jesus.

Having had the recent privilege of preaching through Luke 2:41-52, I had to ask myself why Luke gives us only one sentence from Jesus. I’m sure he knew about stories of Jesus’s childhood. He must have, and yet he did not think Theophilus needed to know about them. I concluded that their absence only make the words he does include that much more powerful.

Luke has some serious implications in giving us only one statement from the childhood of Jesus. We must pay attention to what he has to say.

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celebraterecoveryindiana.org

In yesterday’s post, we began an analysis of the packaged addiction program, Celebrate Recovery (CR). CR is founded on eight principles, taken from the Beatitudes, similar to the twelve steps of Alcoholic’s Anonymous (AA).

Created by John Baker and Rick Warren of Saddleback Church, CR claims to be a Christ-centered, biblically-based program. CR will be examined according to those claims, using the Leader’s Guide, by John Baker, as cited in yesterday’s post.

As stated yesterday, this review (completed with the help of Matthew Mumma, pastor of biblical counseling at Cornerstone Church) will demonstrate that CR contains two major problems: (1) Though claiming to be biblically based, its teachings are often constructed from a misuse of Scripture and an erroneous hermeneutic. (2) Though claiming to be Christian based, its theology often clashes with sound Christian theology. In today’s post, the second problem will be addressed.

2. Much of CR’s theology clashes with sound Christian theology.

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Enslaving behaviors are as old, and common to humanity, as sin itself. Since our fall at the dawn of time, we have been naturally enslavement to every destructive behavior possible. In response, various efforts have been made to deal with the problem.

One such effort is a packaged addictions program called Celebrate Recovery (CR). John Baker and Rick Warren of Saddleback Church created the program in 1991 to help people with various addictions. Rick Warren writes, “[D]uring the ten-week series that I preached to kick off this program, our attendance grew by over 1500!” (John Baker, Celebrate Recovery Leader’s Guide, 12). During the past 25 years, some 20,000 churches in the United States have reportedly used CR, with some 2.5 million people having completed the program. Needless to say, CR has had a major influence on the church.

CR’s stated purpose is “to encourage fellowship and to celebrate God’s healing power in our lives as we work our way along the road to recovery” (21). Further, Warren claims that CR is “more effective in helping people change than anything else I’ve seen or heard of” (12).

Generally, the program runs on a one-year repeating schedule. Participants are taken through the material in 25 lessons and testimonies, meeting once per week for 52 weeks. Rick Warren writes that CR was born when “I began an intense study of the Scriptures to discover what God had to say about ‘recovery.’ To my amazement, I found the principles of recovery—in their logical order—given by Christ in His most famous message, the Sermon on the Mount” (12). More specifically, CR teaches that the Beatitudes (Matt. 5:3-12), which are said to be “eight ways to be happy,” contain the progressive path to addiction recovery.

The eight principles upon which CR is derived are as follows (the principle is stated, followed by the corresponding Beatitude):

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