Monday, December 15, 2008

The Work of the Evangelist is the Fulfillment of Ministry - II Timothy 4:5 - A Biblical Approach to Gospel Preaching

For some length of time now I have observed “preacher wanted” and “preacher available” ads running on brotherhood web sites. These various sites paint almost endless “job description” pictures. Let me recall a few variable highlights. Regular office hours; yes, no or in-between? Time and energy focus on lesson preparation; priority or not? Proactive or reactive duties? Do the congregations in question have eldership or “business meeting” leadership models? Do these congregational leaderships have macro, micro or delegatory management styles? Are there internal or external ministry focuses? Is schooling or experience seen to be more beneficial? Should the preacher and his wife have children? If so, what age should the children be? Should the preacher be young, old or middle aged? Are there doctrinal expectations or not? Does the congregation focus on local or foreign mission opportunities? We could go on here…but you get the idea. There are endless differences in all of these ads. However, there appears to be one commonality.

Diverse as these ads are, there does seem to be one universal concern stated in most every ad. Nearly every “preacher wanted” and “preacher available” ad asks, or answers, this question: “What is the preachers philosophy towards his ministry and how should he spend his time during a typical day?”

As an elder, soon to be gospel preacher (Lord willing), I would like to answer this question - from the Bible.

As alluded to in the title of this article, the apostle Paul instructs Timothy, his much beloved “son in the gospel,” having much to say regarding his much needed ministry. He summarizes these urgent matters in II Timothy 4:15 (NKJV): “But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” Just what is the fulfilling work of an evangelist? The fulfilling work of an evangelist is the full time pursuit of the Great Commission of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The Great Commission is, at the same time, the most profound and yet simply put job description in the history of the world!

Then Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” - Matthew 28:18-20 (NKJV) [Emphasis added – RM]

In this passage we can answer the question asked above, “What is the preacher’s philosophy towards his ministry and how should he spend his time during a typical day?” By identifying the key words in the passage we know the answer:

Go – Disciple – Baptize – Teaching to Observe All Things Taught (Repeat)

As has been often noted, it’s not the difficult to understand passages with which we wrestle, it’s the easy ones! Matthew 28:18-20 is easy to understand, yet hard to follow. It is the contention of this writer that the Great Commission cannot be misunderstood - except - on purpose. Some see an “explanation” to excuse themselves. These would contend that since the Lord was addressing the apostles directly, that this passage applies only to the apostles. However, even the briefest of looks at the passage in context confirms that the phrase; “…teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you…” includes going, discipling, baptizing, teaching and observing for ALL subsequent believers. Jesus Christ Himself reaches out through the Great Commission to each and every convert until the last trumpet sounds. The only difference between the vast majority of Christians and the gospel preacher is that the gospel preacher is blessed with the opportunity of “full time pursuit” of the Great Commission. In a nutshell, this “full time pursuit of the Great Commission” is the “fulfilling work of an evangelist!” Let’s now examine the individual components of the Great Commission in order to flesh out the “…man of God…complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work,” as Paul describes him in II Timothy 3:17.

GO – As did our Lord, we are enjoined to first of all to go to the people, to the souls that are lost. That was the mission of Christ (I Timothy 1:15) and it is the mission of all of us as well as we emulate Him. To accomplish this mission, God “scatters” us into the world through various and sundry ways (Acts 8:4). The gospel preacher is “scattered” today by immersing himself in the life of his community. He supports his community. He participates with his community in its civic, social and school functions. He takes part in community activities. He meets and greets everyone he can. He patronizes local businesses. He makes himself available to speak at public and private events of various kinds. He makes himself available to the media to be interviewed whenever a matter of religion or morality is in the news. Most importantly, he always invites all those whom he meets to some kind of church function – always. The gospel preacher knows that he can never proclaim the “good news” to someone he has yet to meet, as Paul passionately told the Roman church (Romans 10:14). Going and meeting people is only the beginning of the preachers fulfillment of his task. Going makes discipleship possible.

DISCIPLE – As did our Lord, once He met and called people to Himself, He began the process of building eternal relationships with them. He did this, not by merely introducing Himself, He did it by sharing His very life with them – as should the gospel preacher. Over time the disciples of Christ became His friends (John 15:12-17). Jesus accomplished this by not only calling the disciples by name, he called them to a greater purpose in life (Matthew 4:19). The gospel preacher shares his life with his many friends in the community, calling them as well to a greater purpose in their lives. He shares his home. He shares his milestones. He shares his events. He shares his activities. He shares his table. He shares his time. He shares his interests. He shares his resources – and - as with all people, the gospel preacher will be judged according to his attention to the needs of others, especially the “least among us” (see Matthew 25:31-46). All of this sharing, however, is not done alone! This sharing is meshed with that of other Christians, a servant-hood concurrently rendered to the congregation’s community friends. As a result, many Christians begin to share their various lives with the community. Most importantly, many Christians begin to invite all these community friends to study the Scriptures. Invitations to study God’s Word are given often and by multiple Christians – always – as the congregation, along with the gospel preacher, share their lives with their ever closer community friends. Going, meeting and discipling takes the gospel preacher only part way in the fulfillment of his task. Discipleship make baptisms possible.

BAPTIZE – Through the “foolishness of preaching,” (I Corinthians 1:21) disciples become Christians as God adds “such as are being saved” to the church of Christ upon their baptism (Acts 2:47). Baptism is the “hinge” of life. It marks the most radical transformation one can experience this side of eternity. Before baptism we are “dead in our sins.” After baptism we become the “temple of the Holy Spirit.” Though by no means is baptism an end in itself – in fact, going, discipling, teaching and observing are all for naught without it. Noting all of these facts, the gospel preacher must make the baptism of new disciples a key priority, along with the rest of the congregation. Once people have been met, befriended and discipled the gospel of Christ must be presented in completeness and clarity in a number of diverse study settings. These study settings must be consistent with the direction of the eldership, appropriate to the needs of the students and complimentary of the gospel preachers training and abilities. Jesus said that He “came to seek and save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). We too, by extension, must focus on “seeking and saving” the lost – salvation that is impossible without baptism into Christ! In order for this focus to manifest itself, the gospel preacher must be ready, willing and able to preach and teach salvation to the various and sundry groups of people he comes into contact with. Baptism closes the sale, as it were. Baptism is the hinge on which the open door of heaven swings. Baptism is the place, time and setting where the “work of God” is accomplished (Colossians 2:12). His work is accomplished nowhere else! Baptism ushers in salvation and provides teaching opportunities for the saved who then - in turn - begin to go, disciple, baptize and “teach all things commanded” themselves!

TEACHING TO OBSERVE ALL THINGS TAUGHT (REPEAT) – By inspiration, Paul puts heavy, solemn and substantial emphasis on the continual and on-going preaching of God’s Word to the congregation. He presses the point to the young evangelist, Timothy:

I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. – II Timothy 4:2 (NASB)

In addition to keeping the congregation doctrinally pure (See vs. 3 and 4), Timothy is subsequently enjoined by Paul to be “sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist and fulfill his ministry” (See vs.5). And why is this? In addition to preaching the gospel to the lost and fighting off error, the gospel preacher is to prepare the entire congregation to teach others. Earlier, Paul told Timothy; “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” – (II Timothy 2:2 (NKJV). This somber task was previously emphasized to Timothy by Paul in I Timothy 4:13; “Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.” (NKJV)

As did our Lord with His disciples, the greatest amount of time and effort is centered on the preparation and presentation of the Word of God to the congregation. Because individual time and opportunity are fleeting, the gospel preacher must “commit” the knowledge and training of the continual presentation [the Great Commission] of the Gospel of Christ (I Corinthians 15:1-8) to the “faithful” in order for them to “teach others also.”


The philosophy and structure of gospel preaching is revealed, evident and spelled out in the Great Commission. The gospel preacher is to spend whatever daily time given him by God to go, disciple, baptize and teach all things commanded by our Lord in order that the legacy of the gospel will be sustained beyond our time here on earth. “We are saved to save others.”

Friday, October 31, 2008

Blood, Redemption, Forgiveness, Redemption & Baptism

On Tuesday evenings the Archdale church of Christ conducts Bible studies at the Mecklenburg County jail. We have, typically, a crowd of 16-22. We have an hour to share the Gospel as God allows us. Our opportunity is enhanced by the fact that our group is different each and every time. Very few of these men have the opportunity to hear the Gospel more than once and so we are burdened with the urgency.

Everything goes very well unti we arrive at the necessity of baptism for the remission of sins. We deal with the "sinners prayer," the thief on the cross and Romans 10:9-10 nearly every week. This last Tuesday, however, we had a man who objected to baptism on the grounds of Ephesians 1:7:

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the richness of His grace... (NKJV)

The mans contention was that this verse spoke of redemption, forgiveness through grace without any mention of baptism. How then is baptism essential? Let's examine this question briefly.

The Word of God interacts back and forth with itself, Scripture interprets Scripture. For example, we lack the complete account of Pauls conversion if we look only at Acts 9 without also looking at Acts 22. Luke gives a 3rd party account of Pauls conversion in Acts 9, whereas Paul himself is quoted directly in Acts 22 regarding these same events. Therefore, when we look at the subject of redemption, forgiveness and grace, we need to look at more than just one entry regarding the subject.

In Ephesians 1:17 Paul essentially restates the same principle using different terminology. Examine:

In Him we have:


according to the richness of His grace.

By examining the structure of the language we quickly realize that words "redemption" and "forgiveness" are synonomous, they are one and the same. We therefore must conclude that neither can be acheived except "through His blood." Going back to Acts 2:38 we see that baptism is exclusively the time and the place where "remission [forgiveness/redemption] of sins" takes place! By examining these two scriptures together we must conclude the following:




Ephesians 1:7 DOES speak of baptism for Christ shed His blood ONLY in His death and the ONLY way to participate with Him in His death is through water baptism. (See Romans 6:1f) We are baptized into His death where we meet and are cleansed by the saving blood of Christ that remitts us of our sins, forgives us of our sins and redeems us from our sins!

There is no "plan "B," the ONLY place where we find the blood of Christ is in the time and place of water baptism. Man may not like it, understand it, appreciate it or embrace it...BUT..."it is the way it is." The saving blood of Jesus Christ is NOT found in any mystical experience, at the end of any "sinners prayer," after "praying through," after being "voted in" or ANY other place or time outside of water baptism of the soul that has repented of every sin (Acts 2:38) and has confessed the Name of Jesus Christ before witnesses (Matthew 10:32).

Should you hesitate at the point of water baptism, dear friend, please consider once again the words of the servants of General Naaman, "...My father if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, "Wash and be clean?" - II Kings 5:13 (NKJV) "For whatever things written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might find hope." - Romans 15:4 (NKJV) General Naaman "got in the water." Now its your turn! Thank God for His unspeakable free gift of salvation through the saving shed blood of Jesus Christ found in the "watery grave" of baptism!

NOTE: This same article is also posted on my evangelistic weblog,!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Why Does An Agnostic Need A Bible Commentary? - A Review of a Review

“Ag-nos-tic –One that holds the view that any ultimate reality (as God) is unknown and probably unknowable.” – Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, (Merriam-Webster Inc., Publishers, Springfield, MA, 1991) pg. 65

It is such a surreal time in which we live. I grew up in Hampton, VA on a little twenty four home street called Briar Drive. Between the years of 1957 – 1969, there was only one family living on that street that did not attend some church of some kind. There were Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Catholics, Adventists, Pentecostals and our family…members of the Lord’s church. There was only one family that never attended a church of some kind. That family lived across the street from us and they took their boat out every Sunday instead of attending worship somewhere. However, they were not atheists or agnostics.

I remember studying about atheists in school. Atheists lived in Russia, China, North Korea, North Vietnam and Cuba...they were all communists. The only other atheists I ever heard of were the defeated fascists of Germany and Japan. I can’t remember when I first gave a conscious thought about agnosticism. I was grown before I actually met anyone claiming to be an agnostic. [Of course since agnostics, by definition are not sure about anything, they may be theists one day and atheists the next!] In the intervening years between then and now, rightly or wrongly, I began to think in terms that agnosticism seemed most prevalent among drug addicts, rock and roll groupies and growing numbers of college professors. Soon I noticed that it was creeping into the mainstream Protestant denominations, Unitarians and a few other groups. Agnosticism was not main-stream and it certainly had no place in the churches of Christ!

Fast forward to 2008…all that has changed. For reasons I cannot easily understand, our Christian colleges and many of our “mega-churches” are awash with agnostics! [For the purpose of this discussion, agnostics are doubters of the veracity of Scripture and by logical extension…doubters of the Divinity of Jesus Christ] Of course, we must scratch our heads and wonder WHY would an agnostic bother attending worship, put their hand-wringing doubts into endless reams of media and choose a career in “ministry?” Really…what can one palm sweating doubter do for another?

Without answering the “why” question of agnosticism I want to address the fact that these “Christian-agnostics” now have their own entire Bible commentary! It’s like running into your lung doctor and notice he’s smoking a cigar! What’s up with that?! Why would agnostics need comments on that which is unknowable and un-provable?

Simply this…post-modernist “Christians” embrace contradiction, chaos, confusion and uncertainty instead of peace, harmony, revelation and truth. This new one-volume commentary, therefore, is allegorical, circular and emergent. It embraces contradiction, chaos, confusion and uncertainty as a “spiritual narcotic” to numb the soul of the reality of sin, death, judgment and hell.

In the false tradition of Origen, “post-modern Christian agnostics,” instead of simply hearing the Word of God for what it plainly says, search for endless multiple “hidden meanings” lurking behind every jot and tittle. Every person, therefore, ends up with their own “personal truth” which contradicts every other persons “personal truth.” To the “post-modern Christian agnostic,” the only certainty contained in the Scripture is uncertainty! The Holy Bible winds up being just a big allegorical story book. THIS is the foundational sand upon which is built the new Christian / agnostic Bible commentary,
The Transforming Word
, (ACU Press, Abilene, TX, 2008).

Found in the current issue of the
Christian Chronicle
is a review of this volume. [Harold Shank,
The Christian Chronicle
, “Scholars Find Merit, Drawbacks in The Transforming Word,” September 26, 2008 – NOTE: Both brothers May and Briley quote from the commentary though the quotes are never identified by either contributor or location within the volume.] The volume is a compilation of some 30 contributors. The names remain unknown to me at the time of this writing. According to brother Shank the 30 contributors “are representatives of eight colleges and universities associated with churches of Christ.” The review is actually two reviews, one written by brother Cecil May, Jr. of Faulkner University from a generally LINEAR view and one written by brother Terry Briley of Lipscomb University from a generally ALLEGORICAL view. Unfortunately, neither brother exposes the commentary for what it is, an enabler for doubting Christians that should be avoided, especially by NEW Christians. Sadly, neither men mention the fact that there are a multitude of commentaries available that are far better suited for study by men and women of faith. Neither men warn elders of the dangers of the dubious contents of this book. The purpose of this blog posting is to hoist those warnings aloft. We would encourage all brethren to refrain from the purchase of this volume and here are the reasons why:

1. Beginning with the very title of the book, this volume takes us into the murky madness of post-modern and emerging theology. This past week end a prominent former secretary of state endorsed one of the two major political candidates, describing this candidate as “transformational.” “Transformational” is a post-modern buzz word that means “constant change,” a take-off of the “continuous improvement” business theory of the last decade or two. In other words, this candidate has no core values or convictions, only ever changing and ever evolving opinions…there is no permanency about this person…and this is seen as “good” by post-modern people who reject the notion of the existence of ultimate truth. These people used to be referred to as “pragmatists” but too many of us have caught on to that word, hence the replacement word “transformational” to keep us all off guard. One, at first glance, might look at the title, The Transforming Word, and assume that it means the Word of God that transforms ME. Unfortunately, what the title, The Transforming Word, really means is that the Word of God, instead of being eternal, unchanging and true is being sold as a “living, breathing document” that changes generationaly. Not only that, to the “post-modern agnostic Christian,” the Word of God becomes nothing more than a personal “Gumby” ® for all of us to manipulate allegorically as we please. Origen would be delighted!

2. The book, by premise according to the review, rejects the fact that Jesus built but one church, the church of Christ. Instead, the authors embrace the self-identified denominational title for our fellowship which they call the “Stone-Campbell Movement.” Pray tell, dear brothers, did God add the Pentecostians to the “Stone-Campbell Movement?” Stone and Campbell were added to the same church the Pentecostians were added to at the time of their baptism into Christ! If these brethren were sincere about this so-called “movement,” they would post it on their church buildings! And…I wish they would! By so doing, non-Christians would not get the truth confused with error! Every emergent “church of Christ” should change their name to “So and So Stone-Campbell Fellowship.” To claim to be the “church of Christ” AND the “Stone-Campbell Movement” is disingenuous at best and hypocritical at worst. This kind of “dual track identity” is an existential embrace of chaos, confusion and contradiction making the adherents to such “double minded and unstable in all their ways,” alluding to James 1:7’s discussion of doubt. We don’t follow Stone and Campbell, we follow Christ! We should look to Stone and Campbell for history, not theology. We are not sanctified by Stone and Campbell, we are “sanctified by truth, the Word of God!” – John 17:17 Neither Stone nor Campbell were crucified for us and, therefore, none of us were baptized into the name of either Stone or Campbell…alluding to Paul’s inspired illustration to the Corinthian church in I Corinthians 1.

3. At least some of the contributors deny the Mosaical authorship of the Pentateuch. Brother May quotes a passage: “The Pentateuch appears to preserve several streams of tradition that did not necessarily originate at the same time and place.” Wow… “IF” we follow this “logic,” we MUST conclude that Jesus Christ was either ignorant of the facts, or worse, steeped in deception when he clearly declared, “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” [John 5:46-47 (NKJV)] Jesus CLEARLY claims a singular Moses as author of the Pentateuch! If for ANY reason, Jesus is mistaken on this salient point, Jesus Christ is NOT divine. Another point to ponder… “IF” there were multiple “Moses’,” which Moses appeared on the mount of transfiguration with Elijah and Christ? Or perhaps, were there some 47 Moses’ standing on the mount with Elijah and Christ? Perhaps the name “Moses” was a singular name for a large group of individual people?

This is the kind of manic-depressive existential nonsense we wind up with “IF” we adopt Origen’s allegorical, multiple and hidden meaning approach to biblical interpretation!

4. This volume, by insinuation, denies the divinity of Christ for it drops the “Before Christ (B.C.)” designation in lieu of the agnostic / atheist / evolutionist word-smith of “Before the Common Era (B.C.E.)” The so-called “Common Era” designation favors the so-called “HISTORICAL” Jesus, over the DIVINE Christ revealed in Scripture. The authors have NO reason to make this switch unless they doubt the divinity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ by whom the universe was created and by whom the universe is sustained even as we speak!

5. At least some of the contributors reject the fact that there was but a single individual by the name of Isaiah. Here is a quote from the Christian Chronicle review of brother May:

Although Isaiah was an eighth century prophet, “the book’s composer” is said to have put the book together “at the end of the fifth century BCE.” Chapters 1-39 are Isaiah’s messages “preserved, deleted, modified, rearranged and expanded…for application in new situations.” Chapters 40 to 55 are primarily the work of a “sixth century BCE exilic prophet.” Later we read, “Passages in chapters 56 to 66 date originally from the period of rebuilding the Jerusalem temple (536-516 B.C.E.) to rebuilding its walls (about 445 – 432 B.C.E.).

“IF” we accept the “logic” of this volume, we will have to acknowledge that Jesus Christ did not
know that there were “actually three Isaiah’s!” This kind of arrogant senus plenoir “reasoning” would mean that the authors of this work have “new revelation” that somehow eluded even Jesus Christ! As with the point made on the Mosaical authorship of the Pentateuch, this would render Our Lord and Savior mere mortal and no more divine than you and I. My brothers, this allegorical, “fuller sense,” subjective, multiple and hidden meaning and circular interpretation method renders man “superior” to God and thus no longer responsible for his sin. Like the theory of evolution, Origen’s methods are designed to render the judgment of God of none effect.

6. This volume, being largely interpreted allegorically, strips the Old Testament of its powerful and prolific prophesy of the coming of Jesus Christ and His church! Such “interpretation” renders the inspired Word of God as effective as a de-clawed and toothless lion in the wilds of the jungle. Not only that, the volume accuses the New Testament writers of brazen manipulation and fraud! Here is the quote from brother May:

There is no unequivocal specific prediction of the coming of Jesus Christ and / or the church in the Old Testament. New Testament speakers reinterpreted and reapplied Old Testament texts to Christ and / or the church.

Wow… The agnosticism of such a statement is horrific! Paul was a deceiver. The Hebrew writer was a deceiver. And…Jesus Christ Himself was a deceiver “IF” the above statement is true! As previously cited, Jesus Christ committed out and out fraud by claiming that “He (Moses) wrote of Me” “IF,” in fact he (or “them” as the commentary would assert!) did not. This quote is so agnostic to the extreme I wonder if perhaps Brian McLaren penned it himself!

7. A least some of the contributors deny the inspirational veracity of the book of Jonah. Here is a quote from brother Briley:

With regard to the historicity of Jonah, the commentary on this prophetic book lists various views of its nature: “a historical account, legend, fable, novella, allegory, parable, satire, narrative, midrash, or didactic story.” It [the author – RM] concludes that Jonah “is probably a religious drama” composed sometime after the Babylonian exile. This interpretation remains somewhat ambiguous regarding the historical reality of the events described in Jonah.

Here is yet another assault upon the divinity of Jesus Christ for our Lord cited the 100% historicity of Jonah’s account! In fact, “IF” Jonah is not historically accurate, then the resurrection of Jesus Christ never took place! Let’s hear our Lord speak: “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” – Matthew 12:41 [NKJV]. Not only did Jesus assert the historicity of Jonah’s time in the “belly of the great fish,” he says “so will be the Son of Man in the heart of the earth!” Let’s examine the logical and reasonable conclusions:

Jonah + Great Fist + 3 Days / 3 Nights = Truth
Jesus + Heart of Earth + 3 Days / 3 Nights = Truth


Jonah + Great Fish + 3 Days / 3 Nights = Fictional Narrative
Jesus + Heart of Earth + 3 Days / 3 Nights = Fictional Narrative

My brothers, these are not mere semantics! “IF” Jonah did, in fact, spend three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, then Jesus Christ is resurrected! “IF” Jonah did not, in fact, spend three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, then Jesus Christ is NOT resurrected! Theology has consequences! The denial of the historicity of Jonah renders Jesus Christ, not only a liar and a deceiver, it nullifies the certainty of the resurrection, Christ is not raised and we are still in our sins! Thank God! Jesus Christ told the truth about Jonah and told the truth about Himself!

8. At least some of the contributors to this volume take a jaded and cynical view towards Dr. Luke. Dr. Luke wrote the finest histories of the latter days, Luke and Acts. However, brother Briley quotes a passage that would see Luke in the light of one of those “talking heads” on cable T. V. news! In the twisted world of allegorical interpretation, Luke is not objective, in fact Luke “spins” the “narrative” pragmatically to suit the preconceived ideas of his audience! Listen up:

…it notes that because Luke “writes to believers, not skeptics, he is more concerned to interpret events that to prove their veracity.

Translation: Luke “spins” the history for his core supporters differently than he would non-core supporters just like the politician that is pro-life in Tennessee and pro-abortion in California! I don’t know about your God, but my God is not a manipulator!

I would be remiss if I did not declare my deepest disappointment with the conclusions of both of the reviewers. Brother May says:

The commentary is a valuable addition to a Bible teacher’s tools, but contains occasional
serious negative distractions to many believers in biblical infallibility.

Even more disappointing are the conclusions of brother Briley:

The results of this brief survey reveal that some writers in
The Transforming Word
who engage the views of contemporary biblical scholarship draw conclusions that will raise questions, especially for readers not conversant with this scholarship. Space limitations do not allow writers to explain fully these difficult and delicate issues.

It should be pointed out, however, that such discussions comprise a very small portion of The Transforming Word. It would be a shame for this review’s treatment of a few challenging passages to overshadow the substantive contributions of the book as a whole.
[NOTE: How many drops of arsenic in a gallon of water is sufficient to kill? Very little I’m afraid. AND…from not too recent history, “Mussolini made the trains run on time and Hitler reduced unemployment.”]

The editors and authors should be commended for their work on this milestone publishing event. Their goal was not to draw readers into areas of academic debate but to help them “hear afresh transforming words [Generationaly changing words NOT life changing words! – RM] that will quicken the life of the church as it shares in God’s redeeming work in the world.

In conclusion: The Christian Chronicle review fails to adequately warn of the grave errors contained in this volume, though it often “politely” mentions them in a near “the emperor has no clothes” fashion. The Transforming Word appears [I have not yet been able to actually see a copy] from these quotations and others, to be written by and for agnostics and skeptics, in the total allegorical interpretive manner and must be rejected outright, regardless of how much “truth” is found in its pages. The “inclusion” of “truth” with “error” in one volume…we must be reminded…amounts to nothing more than an unequal yoke. Hear once again my brothers the inspired words of Paul:

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will dwell with them and walk with them. I will be their God and they shall be My people.
– II Corinthians 6:14-16 [NKJV]

Russ McCullough
Charlotte, NC
October 24, 2008

Russ McCullough serves as an elder for the Archdale church of Christ in Charlotte, North Carolina. He maintains a biblical interpretation blog at: and is the author of the upcoming book,
Emerging Towards Apostasy
, © The book examines the emerging theology among departing churches of Christ driven by post-modern philosophy, Evangelical influence and a resurgence of neo-Gnostic Patristic interpretive models. He can be reached at:

Friday, October 10, 2008

Where is Brian McLaren Headed Next?

Last month Brian McLaren spoke at “The Summit” at Abilene Christian University. This month he is speaking at the “Preachers Conference” at Lipscomb University. For those of you who care about the truth of the gospel, here is where Brian McLaren will be speaking between the Lipscomb conference and the end of March:

• Emergent Catholic Event in Washington D.C.
• Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest
• Cathedral College of Preachers
• National Pastors Convention
• North Carolina Methodists
• Diosean Convention of the Episcopal Diosese of Washington, D.C.
• Cedar Ridge Community Church (Willow Creek Association)
• First and Central Presbyterian Church, Wilmington, DE
• Spirit and Place Festival, Indianapolis, IN “…(believing) that the arts, humanities, and religion awaken the spirit and exalt the sacred, sustain our intellectual and cultural inheritance, inspire imagination and creativity, and shape our communities.”
• Christian Community Development Association, Miami, FL (CCDA) The CCDA is a redistributionist organization that mixes religion, politics and economics on a “Christian” / Marxist platform

Without commenting further, I will leave you with the inspired thoughts of the Apostle John:

“Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know it is the last hour.” – I John 2:18 (NKJV)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Lipscomb's "Magical Imagination Tour" for Preachers

Forty years ago, the Beatles ® sang these words; “The magical mystery tour is waiting to take you away, waiting to take you away.” ( 1 ) Next month, Lipscomb University is putting on a theological expression of mystery and imagination…not for band students…but for gospel preachers! Unlike similar programs in the past where the agenda was hidden “between the lines,” this gathering proudly announces its agenda beginning with its title:

“Reclaiming the Imagination: The Exodus as Paradigmatic Narrative for Preaching”

Try repeating that three times rapidly! What is going on here? I feel like I’m at a “sit-in” all of a sudden with Ravi Shankar playing the sitar in the background! Let’s examine the stated purpose of the university for this conference as it appears on their website ( 2 ). In order to better understand the very deliberate, muddled and political campaign quality wordsmithing, I have footnoted whenever real, objective and definitional English is required for understanding:

“This conference [“Reclaiming the Imagination ( 3 ): the Exodus as Paradigmatic ( 4 ) Narrative ) 5 ) for Preaching”] proposes that we allow the worlds ( 6 ) imagined in the essential biblical narratives ( 7 ) to dramatically shape our preaching and lives. We believe that preaching reconstitutes ( 8 ) biblical paradigms ( 4 ) when it engages Scripture’s vision by representing ( 9 ) what is absent ( 10 ) and making present what is inaccessible ( 11 ) to the end that followers of God will live into ( 12 ) a God-shaped reality ( 13 ).”

( 1 ) Lyrics via:

( 2 ) See:

( 3 ) “Imagination” is a concept from the 13th century theories of Thomas Aquinas. Aquinas taught, as did Aristotle before him, that truth comes primarily from our “senses,” one of which…according to the musings of Aquinas…is “imagination.” In other words, “if” you can “imagine” truth…it becomes truth, at least to you. Aquinas’ teaching is a pillar of Roman Catholicism which HEAVILY relies on the “images” of mystery, art, music, sculpture, drama, etc. as does the “emerging” church of Brian McLaren.

( 4 ) The word “paradigm” is a word that has little, if any, inherent definition since people who like to use it do so for the purpose of “pouring in their own “meaning.” Perhaps more than any other, “paradigm” is the quintessential Post-Modern word…a poster child for the celebration of contradiction and confusion. The word calls for constant change. What is right today is wrong tomorrow. Today’s sufficiency is deficient tomorrow. In business it is articulated by the phrase “continuous improvement.” Using such a theory one never reaches the truth, for truth is an illusion to those who embrace the “paradigm.” Here, in part, is what the BBC Edited Guide Entry has to say about this word: “…the word paradigm had its origin as an obscure bit of linguist jargon. It derives from the Greek verb deiknumi, 'pointing out or exhibiting something', and the preposition para, 'side by side', which then becomes para-deigma, a pattern, model or example…Thomas Kuhn was trained as a 20th-century physicist. One day, while preparing for his doctoral dissertation, he attempted to read Aristotle’s Physics, the most influential work in the field of physics until Newton. Kuhn found that despite his extensive schooling in physics, he was completely unable to understand anything Aristotle was saying - in fact, it sounded like nonsense.” See: As crazy as it sounds, Kuhn then began applying the subjectivity and constant change of Aristotelian philosophy, first to physics and then to business. This is why when you attend a company business meeting and the presenter begins to speak about a “paradigm shift,” you know that the “old paradigm” didn’t work and now a “new paradigm” is needed! By implication, therefore, when the planners of this conference chose this word “paradigmatic,” it is a stealth way of saying that the way we have preached Exodus up until now [singular person and inspired writer, Moses who was transfigured with Christ, wrote the Book of Exodus that is, therefore, inerrant, full of truth and contains no error whatsoever] is no longer useful or valid. In other words, we need a “new paradigm,” one that embraces the “story” / “narrative” and ignores the “details,” which are simply “legendary” and not “verifiable.” By using this word in the title of the conference, the sponsor(s) are clearly stating that there is no ultimate truth discoverable about the Book of Exodus and therefore no objective truth to be found in the study or the application of it. Should you think my analysis is too far “out there,” keep in mind that one of the speakers at the conference is Bro. Mark Hamilton of ACU who publicly contends that Moses did not actually write the Pentateuch, it was actually “compiled” from various “writers” in the 7th century B.C.! “IF” Moses did not write the Pentateuch, why in the world did Jesus Christ say that Moses “wrote of me?” Taken to its rational [I am assuming here that you, dear reader, are rational!] conclusion, “if” Moses did not write of Jesus Christ, would it not render Jesus Christ just another well-meaning, but deluded, religious leader…and turn our faith in a perfect savior into so much theological dust?

( 5 ) The word “narrative” is a post-modern word substitute for “story.” “Story” has been pragmatically substituted with “narrative” for the word “story” carries with it a FICTIONAL predisposition. McLaren believes that the Scriptures are primarily and foremost a “collection” of “smaller stories,” many of which are little more than legend and folk-lore. These “stories,” not to be taken literally, lead us the “greater truth of the whole.”

( 6 ) The use of the plural “world(s)” is an illusionary way to say that there are “multiple meanings” for Scripture and that God has “multiple wills.” This is all via the allegorical interpretive method of Origen whose speculations form, along with those of Aquinas, the foundational presuppositions for this conference.

( 7 ) By heavy implication, since there are “essential biblical narratives,” then there propositionally must be “NON-essential biblical narratives!” Pray tell, Mr. McLaren, which is which and how would we possibly know?”

( 8 ) “Reconstitutes” (“…to restore to a former condition by adding water.” – Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, (Merriam-Webster, Inc., 1991), pg. 984) is another post-modern pragmatically chosen substitute word to hide the satanic delusions of “deconstructionim and reconstructionism” taught by agnostic theologian Derrida et al. In other words, we must “deconstruct” the “flawed paradigm” of preaching that Exodus is REVELATION and “reconstruct” a “new paradigm” that Exodus is NARRATIVE, a “story,” a “fable” and a “compilation” of the “legends” of flawed and “evolving” humans…humans that were far less sophisticated than these attending “scholars” with thousands of years of “tradition” and “experience” unknown to the ancients at their whim and disposal.

( 9 ) The word “representing” is an all-telling one. The Scripture, especially Exodus, is NOT written in obscure, clouded and allegorical style! Exodus is HISTORY, real history. However, McLaren and his confederates would have us all believe that Exodus is more akin to apocrypha! Any 1st semester freshman taking Intro to the Old Testament would know the difference between history and metaphor. This is just another example of the fetish that the “higher criticism” school has with symbolism, not only symbolism but personally defined symbolism at that! We, if we buy into this mystic and neo-Gnostic babble, get to make up our own individually defined symbolic “meanings!” [Bro. Origen, you should have never listened to Bro. Clement. Bro. Clement, you should have never listened to Philo. And, Philo, YOU should have never listened to Socrates!] By making the clear, linear and unambiguous Word of God mean something entirely different from its original and singular meaning…all of a sudden we, in our own foolish and “darkened minds” are off the “sin hook!”

( 10 ) Origen and his subsequent Roman theologians taught, as does the “fuller sense” (sensus plenoir) theory, that Scripture contains “hidden messages” and that these “hidden messages” are revealed to modern day readers by the Holy Spirit. In other words, McLaren, LaRue, Dewey, York, Hamilton and Taylor “may” have access to “truths” that somehow have eluded all men in history (including the inspired writers themselves!) until this “imagination tour.” One more salient point: these “hidden messages” and “multiple meanings” of Origen constitutes one of the pillars of Roman Catholicism according to Benedict XVI as he articulated on April 27, 2007.

( 11 ) In line with the previous point, it is heavily implied by the phrase “making present what is inaccessible,” that there is “truth” that has somehow been unobtainable until now. And now, Brian McLaren and his fellow presenters are going to bring us these “truths?” The phrase “making present what is inaccessible” is contradictory in the Kierkegaard mold, celebrating confusion as “truth.” How can something that is “present” be at the same time “inaccessible?” It cannot. Such a statement replicates the manic-depressive madness of Kierkegaard that he embraced as philosophy…a philosophy celebrated by the purpose of this conference.

( 12 ) “Into” is a substitute word for “emerge” which is stealthily avoided by whoever wrote this introductory paragraph.

( 13 ) “A (note the author uses “A” instead of “The”) God-shaped reality” strongly suggests that God does not have a singular will but instead distributes…cafeteria style… “multiple realities,” all equally valuable and obtainable by random choice. To take this line of thinking to its logical conclusion, then the “Christian reality” is just as valid as the “Muslim reality” and the “Hindu realty” and the “Save-The-Planet-From-Evil-Capitalism reality.”

The word obfuscation in this introduction is staggering, so much so that Brian McLaren may have just written it himself! Unless canceled, this conference “is waiting to take you away (from the truth.)” The brethren at Lipscomb need to ditch this existential and narcissistic nonsense and replace it with a preaching conference taught by men who KNOW the truth, not just IMAGINE it! Let the board, faculty and staff know that the preachers of the church of Christ deserve better than a 60’s style “imagination tour.”

“The magical (imagination) tour is waiting to take you away!” What would Peter, John and Jude have to say? Friends, they (by the direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit) ALREADY said it in I Peter, II Peter, I John, II John, III John and Jude!

Dear board, faculty and staff of Lipscomb University…please do not let this rank error be spread on your watch! “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” – James 3:1 (NIV)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Who Is Brian McLaren & Why Do You Need to Know? - An Appeal to the Leadership of Lipscomb University

On September 11, 2008, seven years to the day of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, we learned that Brian McLaren and other Emergent / Higher Criticism NON CHRISTIAN speakers are slated to headline the upcoming October “Reclaiming the Imagination: The Exodus as Paradigmatic Narrative for Preaching” conference at Lipscomb University.

(See: )

Men who do not believe in the veracity of Scripture are going to instruct many hundreds of preachers of the church of Christ. These preachers, in turn, will return to our various congregations carrying the baggage of the error of Thomas Aquinas who taught that truth is exclusively discovered through…NOT REVELATION…but by man’s own reason / senses, one of which he falsely identified as IMMAGINATION. Aquinas “discovered” this “truth,” not by the study of Scripture, but by a lifelong obsessive study of the pagan Aristotle. Aristotle's philosophy is summed up thusly; "Nothing is in the intellect that is not first in the senses."(1) Here is what Aquinas had to say regarding the foundational theme embraced by this upcoming Lipscomb conference:

In his Commentary on Peter Lombard’s Sentences (III, 9, 2, 3), Aquinas says that there are three reasons to introduce images [imagination – RM] into the worship of the church:

"First, to give instruction to the ignorant, to recall the Mystery of Incarnation and examples of the saints by their everyday representation; to nourish feelings of devotion, better excited by vision than by audition."(2)

Such a “celebration” of “imagination” replaces the Revealed Word of God with the foolish speculations of a Dark Ages monk who likely imagined he had actual conversations with Jesus Christ.(3) The star of Lipscomb’s “imagination tour” is a man by the name of Brian McLaren. Brian McLaren is not a Christian in the New Testament sense of the word. In fact, theologically, his teachings are further away from the truth than the teachings of Benedict XVI!

Brian McLaren personifies, embraces and aggressively promotes Origen’s allegorization and multiple meaning of Scripture, the “imagination is truth” of Aquinas, the obsessive contradictions of Kierkegaard’s existentialism, the endless questioning with no answers of John Dewey, the anarchy of sensus plenoir, the “irrational is rational” deconstructionism of Friedrich Nietzche, the denial of Biblical inerrancy of Wellhausen, the “truth is but an illusion” of Derrida, the “relevance trumps truth” of Barth, the “mythology is truth” of Bultmann, the “humans are in charge of their own interpretation” of Croatto, the “truth in interpretation is a matter of personal taste” of Gadamer and the nearly agnostic “liberation theology” of Alan Jones, Here is where McLaren stands in his own words through documented sources:(4)

ON THE ESSENTIAL MESSAGE OF JESUS: “The essential message of Jesus is compassion for yourself and for your fellow neighbor.” – March 2006 comments to a United Methodist Church conference in Nashville. For what Jesus Christ says is the essential message see Matthew 22:37-39.

REGARDING THE 2ND COMING OF CHRIST: “The gentle Jesus of the 1st coming becomes a kind of trick Jesus, a fake-me-out Messiah, to be replaced by the true jihadist Jesus of a violent 2nd coming.” – From McLaren’s book, Everything Must Change, pg. 144. For what Paul says concerning the 2nd coming of Christ see II Corinthians 5:10.

REGARDING SALVATION: “What does it mean to be “saved?” When I read the Bible, I DON’T (emphasis mine – RM) see it meaning, “I’m going to heaven after I die.” - Quoted by Andy Crouch in a web article entitled “The Emergent Mystique,” 2004. For what Jesus has to say regarding salvation see Mark 16:16.

REGARDING SALVATION: When asked to explain how conversions work in his home church, McLaren replied: “Very, very rarely does someone have the date and time experience of conversion. Typically, a person comes to us because they’re spiritually searching. They participate in our services, they get to know some people, build relationships, join a small group or maybe even start volunteering. At some point, they connect with God. The gospel makes sense to them. They know that God loves them, and they just say, “I’m in.” – Brian McLaren in Outreach Magazine, July-August 2005. For what Peter has to say regarding salvation see Acts 2:37,38.

REGARDING SALVATION: In a 2003 interview with Bro. Greg Taylor of New Wineskins Magazine, McLaren argues that people are saved with AND without baptism. For what Peter has to say regarding baptism see I Peter 3:21.

REGARDING RADICAL LIBERATION THEOLOGY: McLaren praises liberation theologians Sobrino and Boff in an interview with John Stanley of Mars Hill Seminary. Regarding the politicization of religion, see what Jesus has to say in Matthew 22:21.

SALVATION IS FOR THE “HERE AND NOW” AND NOT THE “HERE AFTER” : “But I’m more interested in a gospel that is universally efficacious for the whole earth BEFORE death in history.” – A Generous Orthodoxy by Brian McLaren, pg. 114. Discover what Christ has to say as to whether His kingdom is of this world or the next in John 18:36.

REGARDING THE POWER AND THE PURPOSE OF THE CROSS AS WELL AS THE REALITY OF HELL: “…in the end, God gets his way through coercion and violence and intimidation and domination, just like every other kingdom does. The cross isn’t the center then. The cross is almost a distraction and false advertising for God.” – Brian McLaren as quoted in See what Paul says about the power, the purpose and the effect of the cross in I Corinthian 1:18.

There are many leaders in the so-called “emerging church.” Brian McLaren is but one. However, Brian McLaren is the ONLY one that is making a continual habit of lecturing on our campuses, traveling with our preachers, visiting with our writers and attempting to infiltrate the church of Christ in every major city in the United States where she exists.


Dear Lipscomb Board, Faculty and Staff: for the sake of Jesus Christ and His church…remove this man immediately from this conference schedule. Cancel and replace the conferences dubious title. Replace these outsiders with faithful brethren who will teach truth and not just “imagine” it. Our appeal is not speculative, it is biblical. Our appeal is not irrational, it is sincere. Our appeal is not philosophical, it is scriptural. Our appeal is not “off the cuff,” it is documented. Our appeal is not subjective, it is objective. Our appeal is not self-serving, it is for the long term survivability of a great and historic Christian university…Lipscomb University! Most importantly, our appeal is not a mere intellectual exercise, it is an appeal for the real souls of real men and real women for “knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.”


(1)Aristotle, De Anima, 3.8 as quoted by Richard Bennett in "Alan Jone's Reimagining Christianity: The Way Back to Rome," p. 5, as published on

(2)See Roger Pouivet, “Religious Imagination and Virtue Epistemology,” page 2. Type in the title of the article on the “Search Page” to read the article. (Emphasis added – RM) The Scripture CLEARLY teaches that “FAITH comes by HEARING and hearing by the WORD OF GOD.” (Romans 10:17) In complete and absolute opposition to the Word of God Aquinas asserted that FAITH comes by SIGHT and sight comes by IMAGES & IMAGINATION. Upon this foundation of sand and straw comes…“Reclaiming the Imagination: The Exodus as Paradigmatic Narrative for Preaching.”

(3)It is reported that Aquinas believed that Jesus Christ actually spoke these words to him, "You have written well of me, Thomas, what reward will you receive?" Supposedly, Thomas replied, "None but yourself." See: Everett Ferguson, Church History – Volume One: From Christ to Pre-Reformation, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005), pg. 488. On the same page, Bro. Ferguson’s “Thomistic Triangle” shows that Revelation follows faith which follows “reason.” Were that Bro. Ferguson was on the marquis instead of Brian McLaren! It is not too late to ask him Dr. Lowry!

(4)For more documentation and direct links, contact Russ McCullough.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Great Confusion or Great Commission?

Words mean things. As Christians, we are to be inherent truth-tellers so our words may to be “as apples of gold in settings of silver.” Our words are to bring clarity and truth to a world jaded with more gray than a battleship. More often than not, in our Post-Modern culture words are used to obfuscate and muddle as opposed to clarify and enlighten. People even write books on the “art” of “wordsmithing!” Frank Luntz, the TV pollster has just written a book called Words That Work – It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear, a totally pragmatic documentation of how politicians, corporations and every day people choose “buzz words” that send conscious and unconscious signals to others as they try to “reflect” the “felt needs” of their communicants. Do Americans not only no longer mind being manipulated by others, do they actually long for it? Sadly, many do.

Word obfuscation is alive and well in the churches of Christ as well. Many among of us today no longer use the words “mission” or “missionary.” Instead we hear the word “missional,” a new word, so new my instant spell check program has it underlined in red! We will explore the “missional” philosophy shortly for nothing more makes greater confusion of the Great Commission than do things “missional.” First, we must explore some background.

One prominent area of recent confusion is the meaning of our purpose in life as Christians. Instead of turning to God’s Word for our purpose in life, we’ve been driven to Rick Warren and his evangelical and Emergent (mis)teachings. Until recent years we understood with clarity the Great Commission. Brethren wrote many books about the subject such as Go Ye Means Go Me by Ivan Stewart. We were clear because Jesus was clear! Jesus understood His mission and purpose with laser beam precision.

• “I have come to seek and save that which is lost.”
• “For this reason have I come into the world, to preach the gospel to the poor.”
• “I am the way, the truth and the light, no man comes to the Father but by me.”
• “Unless you repent, you shall all likewise perish.”
• “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved, he who does not believe shall be damned.”

Not only was Jesus clear on His mission, He was clear on the mission of each and every follower until the end of time, including you and me. Let’s listen again to what was once crystal clear in our minds:

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV)

The Great Commission has three distinct and separate components that must be fused and connected to fulfill the Will of God, what we might describe as a holistic approach. Our Lord modeled this for us. He “went about doing good,” ministering to the physical needs of the people while showing them the “way to the Father,” all the while preparing them for their own ministries for post-resurrection times. We, therefore, as He says must disciple, baptize and teach. Our Lord cited these components in precise order. Not only that, He gave each component equal significance. The Word tells us that we must have all three components, we must have them in correct order and we must give all three our total attention. Should humans elevate one component over another, leave one or more out or rearrange the correct order, error and it’s predictable consequences, are the sad result. Regretfully, during the past few years some have elevated, ignored and rearranged these aspects of our lives mission and purpose, all to our great detriment. The Great Commission is fulfilled ONLY when we understand that all three components are absolutely essential, absolutely equal in gravity and are rendered in absolute order without addition or subtraction. Since World War II, three variances causing great confusion to the Great Commission are identifiable. Two are past us for the most part though the third…and by far the most devastating… is upon us like a tsunami.

The oldest variance among us regarding the Great Commission that caused great confusion is the practice of some to require a working knowledge of nearly every aspect of dispensational detail, Christian living and the full range of Patristic, Apostate, Reformation and Restoration history as prerequisites for repentance, confession and baptism. When we implement the “teach all things commanded” component prior to baptism, we literally change the Word of God. Though well intentioned, this practice established a de facto vetting system unknown during the 1st century. “And now, why tarriest thou? Arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” - Acts 22:16 (KJV) Here’s how the Great Commission compares to this variance:

Jesus: Disciple, Baptize, Teach All Things
Variance: Disciple, Teach All Things, Baptize

Changing the divine order of the Great Commission becomes downright Thomistic and causes great confusion. Thomas Aquinas taught in the 13th century that we come to God not by faith but by reason, specifically our senses, which includes, according to Aquinas, “imagination.” On another level, misplacing “teaching all things” prior to baptism requires the pre-convert to “prepare” him or her self for baptism, in some ways like the Romanesque catechism. This process might take some time and becomes very subjective because of 3rd party human supervision. The Ethiopian eunuch didn’t have to take an eight week course!

See, here is water! What hinders me from being baptized? Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and he baptized him. – Acts 8:36b-38 (NKJV)

The immediacy of baptism after repentance and confession, as revealed in the New Testament, has been set aside for the sake of human reasoning by some among us. Thankfully, we are seeing less and less of this variance as time goes on. The “teaching of all things commanded” is a post-baptism activity. To “teach all things commanded” prior to baptism makes great confusion of the Great Commission.

Another variance that caused great confusion regarding the Great Commission is one not seen often but was apparently widely accepted in overseas mission points in years past. I have personal experience here. During my college years I was part of a short term mission trip to a third world country. In those years, this particular country was the poorest nation in the western hemisphere. The people and the times were desperate. Though the need for all kinds of physical ministry (“making disciples”) was clearly present, we were strongly cautioned against rendering any kindness to those with whom we shared the gospel. The reasoning (thanks, again, Thomas Aquinas) was that if we rendered kindnesses to the people they would become Christians for the “wrong reasons.” In a similar vein, we often used to wring our hands trying to “reason” as to who is and who is not among the “deserving poor” when we rendered benevolence. Again, here is how the Great Commission compares to this variance:

Jesus: Disciple, Baptize, Teach All Things
Variance: ______, Baptize, Teach All Things

The pragmatic reasoning of this approach is clearly wrong on a number of levels. This approach amounts to little more than pre-screening of candidates for repentance, confession and baptism. Worst of all, the “disciple” component is essentially abandoned. So doing would nullify the Great Commandment; “Love the Lord thy God with all your heart mind and soul while loving your neighbor as yourself.” Paul make this principle very clear to us. “And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.” - I Cor. 13:3 (NKJV) Paul taught the Corinthians that the pursuit of lesser spiritual gifts, such as speaking in tongues, was a waste of time compared to the greatest spiritual gift of all….LOVE. Agape love for our neighbor is the KEY ingredient of “making disciples.” Leaving it out makes a mockery of the gospel (the death, burial and resurrection of Christ – I Cor. 15:1-5) and turns the saving grace of God to little more than just another religious system. Leaving the “making disciples” component out of the Great Commission causes great confusion. Thankfully, we hear little of this variant view today.

As mentioned, the prior two variances seem to have very few adherents today among us rendering their effect insignificant. Not so with the third variance. The third variance, at best, robs new Christians of the “sincere milk of the Word. (I Peter 2:2) At worst, it “turns the truth into fables.” (II Timothy 4:4) This third and final variance deletes the 3rd component of the Great Commission and causes the greatest confusion of all! Wanting to cling only to the so-called “core gospel,” many well meaning Christians among us focus almost entirely upon “making disciples.” At the culmination of the “mission,” they baptize those who have been ministered to. They then celebrate and then leave for the next “mission.” This is how this most deadly of the three variances compares with the Great Commission rendering the greatest confusion of all:

Jesus: Disciple, Baptize, Teach All Things
Variance: Disciple, Baptize, _____________

Making disciples, baptizing and then leaving to “help” someone else is what is called today “missional.” “Missional” sounds like “mission” and “missionary” but is entirely different for “missional” focuses on the “here and now” and gives little or no attention to the “here after.” Contrasting the “missional” Emergent church of the 21st century with the Great Commission of the 1st century, we find a complete contradiction. “Missional” is 180 degrees opposite of the focus of Jesus Christ who “came to seek and save that which was lost.” “Missional” would say that we should “seek and render assistance with 3rd party resources those who are impoverished.” The tail wags the dog and the means become the ends. “MIssional” theories abound in the church of Christ today primarily because of the influence of one man, Brian McLaren. McLaren is not even a Christian in the New Testament sense of the term and yet has expanding influence among some in the church of Christ to the extent that he is slated to be a headline speaker at Abilene Christian University’s “Summit Lectureship” in September, 2008! Even more sobering is McLaren’s close alliance with the agnostic and activist San Francisco cleric, Alan Jones. Here’s how McLaren defines “missional:”

"But my mission isn’t to figure out who is already blessed (saved-RM), or not blessed, or un-blessable. My calling is to be blessed so I can bless everyone. I’m going to Los Angeles!" [In lieu of heaven – RM]

"Recently I received an e-mail saying, “I heard a rumor that you’re a universalist. Is that true?” Since I don’t offer my exclusivist (those who believe that some people will go to heaven but most will not-RM) friends their expected answer to “the hell question,” I can see why this rumor would spread. Rumors like this make me want to be an exclusivist who believes that only universalists go to heaven – after all, they have the highest opinion possible about the efficacy and scope of the saving work of Jesus! Or else I could be an inclusivist (universalist – RM) who believes that all but exclusivists are going to heaven. But no, that’s ridiculous. Anyway, I’m going to Los Angeles. The old universalism pronounces that the Good News was efficacious for all individual sold AFTER (emphasis Brian McLaren) death, in heaven, beyond history. Inclusivism says the gospel is efficacious for many, and exclusivists say for a comparative few. But I’m more interested in a gospel that is universally efficacious for the whole earth BEFORE (emphasis Brian McLaren) death in history."

Those who would deny the essentiality of the “all things whatsoever I have commanded you” component of the Great Commission add great confusion among those who long to hear and obey the Word of God. When the teaching of the “whole counsel of God” is neglected, apostasy and spiritual decay soon become normative.

In conclusion, we repeat our premise, The Word tells us that we must have all three components of the Great Commission, we must have them in correct order and we must give all three our total attention. Should humans elevate one component over another, leave one or more out or rearrange the correct order, error and it’s predictable consequences, are the sad result of great confusion.

Though many are staying into the error of failing to “teach all things commanded,” many still faithfully fulfill the Great Commission. For example, each year for the last several years, the Archdale church of Christ has sent anywhere from 5 to 22 people to Honduras on short term missions. Working with a brotherhood organization called T.O.R.C.H. Missions, many have been blessed by the results of fulfilling the Great Commission in its entirety! When present in Honduras, our people “make disciples” by building homes for the poor, visiting the dying at the hospital, distributing clothes to orphans, giving food to the starving and rendering medical and dental care to the desperate. While these activities are going on, other team members preach and hold Bible studies for the adults while still others keep the children occupied with a Vacation Bible School. Our group joins several others to form a team of about 70 people and there normally is about 1 baptism for every person on the team, thus fulfilling the “baptize” portion of the Great Commission. Finally, upon a persons conversion, they become part of a living and active congregation of the Lord’s people who have a full time preacher trained by the stalwart Baxter Institute of Tegucigalpa, fulfilling the “teach all that I have commanded you” portion of the Great Commission. Part of the holistic Great Commission implementation is a dedication to proactively build church buildings AND obtain a commitment from a Baxter graduate to work full time in ministry BEFORE a campaign goes into a certain village or neighborhood. As a result of faithfully adhering to the Great Commission, there is no great confusion in the church of Christ in Honduras! Praise God form whom all blessings flow!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

McLaren's Vision Is Coming True!

Brian McLaren* has a vision. His vision is one where Christians cease from understanding the Bible in a linear way and begin to see it as a never ending circle of questions with no answers. His vision is one where Christians cease to believe that "no man comes to the Father except by me." His vision is one where Christians accept pagan religions as all equally valid as Christianity and equally capable of delivering salvation. His vision is one where Christians begin to accept multiple interpretive models within the church of Christ, all somehow able to bring about "different truths."

Brian McLaren's vision is coming very close to being realized. Tonday, June 24, 2008, the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life released it's newest poll. You can read all about it by clicking on:

The poll findings are entitled as: "Religious Beliefs and Practices / Social & Political Views: Report 2." The findings are stunningly terrifying. There are, of course, many details of such a report but three are of urgent concern for the churches of Christ. According to Pew's data, we comprise approximately 1.5% of the U. S. population. How many of us who actually participated in the poll are not known.

Three questions and three answers have profound implications for the on-going work of the church of Christ which is to "make disciples, baptize and to teach all things whatsoever Christ taught in the Gospels, the Acts, the Epistles and the Revelation."

The first question is:

"Can salvation be found apart from Jesus Christ?"

The second question is:

"Can the Bible be correctly interpreted in more than one way?"

The third question is:

"Is the Holy Bible the inspired Word of God in it's entirety?"

We KNOW the CORRECT answers to these questions but is disturbingly instructive to hear what AMERICA is saying. We NEED to know for God, by inspiration, tells us to "be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks concering the hope that lies within us with meekness & fear." - I Peter 3:15

Here are the conclusions of the Pew people regarding question #1:

"A major survey by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life finds that most Americans (70%) have a non-dogmatic approach to faith. A majority of those affiliated with a religion, for instance, (70%) do not believe their religion is the only way to salvation."

Here are the conclusions of the Pew people regardign question #2:

"...almost the same number (68%) believes that there is more than one true way to interpret the teachings of their religion."

Here are the conclusions of the Pew people regarding question #3

"A similar pattern is evident in the views of the Bible. Nearly two-thirds of the public (63%) takes the view that their faiths sacred texts are the Word of God. But those who believe Scripture represents the Word of God are roughly evenly divided between those who say it should be interpreted literally, word for word (33%) and those who say it should not be taken literally (27%)."

There we have it. Nearly three-quarters of those claiming to have some kind of "religious affiliation" are already part of Brian McLaren's vision. God help us! The "Great Commission" has a greater need than ever before here in the United States!

*Brian McLaren is leading personality in the Emergent church movement. He has written a number of books, including his most well know manifesto, "A Generous Orthodoxy." McLaren, though not a Christian in the New Testament sense of the word, is nevertheless a popular consultant to the "ZOE Group," a touted author and writer by "New Wineskins Magazine" and is slated to give a major address at this Septembers "Summitt Lectureship" at Abilene Christian University. McLaren is a close associate of agnostic cleric Alan Jones from San Fransisco who denies the veracity of Scripture. For more detailed information on McLaren and Jones see my April 9, 2008 posting on this very blog entitled: "Time Traveling Error - From the a Congregation Near You." [RM]

Friday, May 30, 2008


CHARLOTTE, NC (JTC Media): Seventy five leaders from the National Association of Evangelicals have attached their signatures to a document billed as the "Evangelical Manifesto." Those signing include best selling author Max Lucado, according to World Magazine in their May 17-24, 2008 issue. Announcement of the signing took place at the National Press Club in Washington D. C. on May 7. The entire document can be read or downloaded from:

Among other points of creedal identification, the National Association of Evangelicals signers pledged themselves to the assertion that salvation is by faith alone ["Salvation (is) God's gift grasped through faith. We contribute nothing to our salvation."]. In addition, the document takes the National Association of Evangelicals into full retreat from previously perceived close identification with the Republican Party, attempting to equally embrace both major political parties in times to come. Those Evangelicals not signing the document include Dr. James Dobson and Chuck Colson, both avid supporters of many Republican leaders. Another missing signature is from Saddleback Church’s Rick Warren, though his “purpose driven” theology appears to be consistent with the entire document. Portions of the document are strikingly similar to Warren’s global inter-religious P.E.A.C.E. initiative.

Five of the National Association of Evangelicals foremost personalities held a news conference for the occasion of rolling out the document. Well known author, Os Guinness, was joined at the lectern by "Christianity Today's" John Huffman and David Neff, public relations man Larry Ross and Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary.

Traditionally, evangelicalism has been closely associated with ecumenicalism, premilenialism, the "Sinner's Prayer" salvation experience and extreme support for the modern day secular Jewish state of Israel. However, during the last several years evangelicalism has become increasingly influenced by the newly evolving "Emergent Church." The “Emergent Church” is a mystic and pragmatic fellowship of both neo-denominationalists and otherwise un-churched people. The “Emergent Church” is driven by the teachings of eastern patristic teachers including Origen, Augustine and Aquinas. Brian McLaren and Tony Jones are leading personalities in the movement. McLaren is slated to speak at this falls “Summit” sponsored by Abilene Christian University.

According to World Magazine, some signers signed as "individuals and not representatives of their organizations." Lucado is identified as one such signer by the magazine.

Preaching for what once was one of the largest churches of Christ anywhere [Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas], Max Lucado and his eldership have in the last several years dropped the name of Christ from their name plate, introduced instrumental music in worship and rejected baptism as being necessary for salvation. [See: Michael Foust, “Max Lucado Transcends Church of Christ Beliefs,” in Baptist Press News, May 9, 2005. Lucado is interviewed by Foust in this article where Lucado speaks candidly regarding his changed views. An internet search using the article title will render it in full context and entirely unedited.]

With his signature permanently attached to the “Evangelical Manifesto,” Lucado is nearly 180 degrees doctrinally from where he was just a few years ago.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Is the "Sinner's Prayer" Taught in Acts 3:19?

I have a website at: Recently I received an inquiry asking my input as to whether or not Acts 3:19 taught "some version" of what many call the "sinners prayer." What follows is an outline I put together in order to better my understanding of Acts 3:19 and to share it with you.

I apologize for the format, I have yet to figure out how to "do outlines" on a blog!

I am always excited when people reach back through history, as it were past the philosophies of men, to discover in God's Word the realities of the church that Jesus built in the 1st century. If we believe the things they did, live the way they did and practice the things they did we will be one with them on the last day. As it has been said, "the Bible only makes Christians only." Not only is "Biblical Christianity" possible, it was the very thing for which our Lord prayed in the garden.

My respondent flagged Acts 3:19 as a matter of primary concern. Knowing that all Scripture is inspired of God, we must treat it with care in its original context, seek to understand the message conveyed to the original audience and use other similar passages to broaden our understanding for "scripture interprets scripture."

I would like to thank Bro. David Pharr for assisting me in my understanding of vs. 20 of Acts 3. David is the editor and publisher of "The Carolina Messenger." (

Acts 3:1 - 4:4 - The Context of Acts 3:19

I Peter and John heal a lame man
A. vs. 1 - 10
II The "Spontaneous Gospel" - The Amazed Audience Hears Peter's sermon
A. vs. 11- chpt. 4:4
1. The amazed Jews gather on Solomon's Porch - vs. 11
2. Peter's introduction - vs. 12
3. Peter's God is made known - vs. 13-15
a. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our
fathers has:
1) Glorified His servant, Jesus:
a) The one whom you delivered to Pilate
b) The one whom you disowned in Pilate's
presence when he had decided to release
A) When they disowned him, they:
(1) Rejected the Holy and
Righteous one
(2) Traded Christ for a killer
(3) Murdered the Prince of Life
(4) Murdered the one whom
God raised from the dead.
4. Peter's bold assertion and accusation - vs. 15
a. The Resurrection is an undeniable FACT
1) They (both Christians and non-Christians
present) were ALL witnesses!
a) (No one disputed this assertion!)
5. The Proof of the FACT of the Resurrection - vs. 16
a. On the basis of faith in the Name of the one raised:
1) The Name of Jesus has healed this man
a) A man they saw and knew
2) The faith that comes through Jesus has given
him (the lame man) perfect health
a) This faith in Jesus has done this in the
presence of all of them, the witnesses
6. Ignorance is no excuse - vs. 17
a. The audience acted in ignorance regarding Christ
b. The rulers acted in ignorance regarding Christ
7. The foretelling of God's prophets that Christ would suffer
IS fulfilled (vs. 18):
a. These verses and others bear this out:
1. Matthew 21:42
a) Christ is the rejected cornerstone
2. Luke 24:25-27
a) Moses and ALL the prophets said he was
to suffer
3. Luke 24:45-47
a) Christ "open their minds" to understand
the Scriptures…that Christ should suffer
and rise on the 3rd day.
8. Having made the case of their clear guilt, Peter extends the
ACTS 2:38. - Acts 2:38 and Acts 3:19 are PARALLEL
statements using different words rendering the same
meaning as illustrated below:

Reference Compunction Responsive Action Result

Acts 2:38 Repent Be Baptized Sins Remitted
Acts 3:19 Repent Be Converted Sins Blotted Out

a. The word "repent" is used in both verses and is the
exact same word METANOEHO - According to Strong's,
to think differently afterwards, to experience moral
compunction (Mental anxiety & distress over guilt
resulting in a turn away).
1. Peter calls for them to TURN AWAY from their
sins in a "responsive action."
b. There is always in Scripture a "responsive action"
taken by the people of God upon true belief. Christ
exegetes this principal himself in John 3:14-15
1. The people sinned in the Wilderness
2. God sent snakes among the people biting
and killing.
3. The people cried to Moses
4. Moses appealed to God
5. Moses was instructed to raise a brazen serpent
6. The people were told to "look upon the serpent"
for their physical salvation.
7. Those who looked lived, those who did not
a. Moving across the camp and looking upon
the serpent was the "responsive action."
b. Mere "belief" in that looking on the
serpent would save them WITHOUT a
physical response rendered sure death.
c. There was no middle ground, no gray
area. Lookers lived, non-lookers died.
1) In a camp with as many as six
million souls, a LOT of physical
movement was required.
c. Jesus then applies this concept to Himself in
Jn 3:15-16. Belief in Him who was "lifted up" is
required by all who would be saved.
1. TRUE belief requires a responsive action
d. A "Responsive action" is NOT a work.
1. We cannot be saved by works - Eph. 2:9
b) We are saved only by the work of God.
1) Belief is a work of God - Jn. 6:29
2) Baptism is a work of God
- Col. 2:12
e. A "responsive action" is an "appeal to God for a clean
conscience" as expressed in baptism - I Peter 3:21
a) The INVERSE is true as well,
non-responsive action resulting in non-
baptism is an "appeal to Satan for an evil
f. Belief without a responsive action is a dead faith, one
cannot separate the two, they are synonymous.
a) Jesus makes this principal clear in
John 14:15 -
1) "If you love me you will keep my
commandments." Inversely, "if
you do not love me, you will not
keep my commandments."
(a) Baptism is a command of
Christ - Mark 16:15-16
(b) Peter commanded, on
behalf of Christ, that ALL
the Pentecostians be
baptized for the
remission of sins.
-Acts 2:38
(c) Baptism, despite the
denial of Billy Graham,
Chuck Swindall, John
MacArthur, R. C. Sproul,
et. al., DOES save us!
-I Peter 3:21
(d) Baptism (BAPTIZO in
Greek) means to "immerse
or to plunge" and is
metaphorically illustrated
by Paul in detail in
Romans 6.

g. Baptism is the required "responsive
action" that saves us, that brings remission of sins,
gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit, adds us to the
church, is our appeal to God for a good
conscience and renders obedience to the
command of Christ as God's saving work is
accomplished when His gracious free gift of
salvation is accepted totally separate from any
work of man, all done in the "watery grave" and
nowhere else.

h. Baptism is the responsive action noted in Acts 2:38
while "be converted" / "turn again" is the responsive
action" in Acts 3:19. Do these different terms have
different meanings? No.
1. "IF" Peter told the audience in Acts 2 to "be
baptized for the remission of sins" and then
told the audience in Acts 3 to recite a "sinner's
prayer for the remission of sins," that would
make God an "author of confusion," something
He is NOT. - I Cor. 14:33
i. In Acts 2:38 and Acts 3:19, "be baptized" and "be
converted" are synonymous and interchangeable terms
AS ARE "sins forgiven" and "sins blotted out."
j. In Acts 3:19, the term "be converted" or "turn again"
is from the Greek word EPISTREPHO, which according
to Vine's means "…(making) a turn toward…an
immediate and decisive change, consequent upon a
deliberate choic,e [i.e. baptism vs.non- baptism RM]
k. In both Acts 2:38 and Acts 3:19, the audience is told
to "turn away" from their sins and "turn towards" God
in the "responsive action" which is baptism.
1. "IF" the phrase "be converted / turn again"
does NOT refer to baptism, did Peter lie to the
Pentecostians when he commanded baptism
for the remission of sins?
2. "IF" the phrase "be converted / turn again" in
Acts 3:19 means to recite a "sinner's prayer,"
does that not make Peter a liar in Acts 2:38?
3. "IF" the phrase "be baptized" in Acts 2:38 is
different than "be converted" in Acts 3:19, does
that not make Peter a liar in Acts 3:19?
9. When we repent, turn again and have our sins blotted out,
then the "times of refreshing" come:
a. From the Lord that:
1. He may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus
(you = the Jews) whom
a) heaven must receive until the time for
restoring all the things about which God
spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets long ago
1) Moses said:

(a) God will raise up a
prophet like me
(b) From your brothers
(c) You shall listen to him
in whatever he tells you
(1) He told them
to keep his
(d) Every soul that does not
listen to him shall be
destroyed from the
10. Samuel and all the prophets after him proclaimed "these
days," the proclamation of the Gospel
11. Peter tells the Jews that they are the "sons of the
12. Peter tells the Jews that they are the "sons of the covenant
that God made with their fathers," namely Abraham
a. through whom "all the families of the earth shall be
13. God sent Jesus to the Jews FIRST in order to:
a. Bless them
b. Turn them from their wickedness

Chapter 4

14. While they were still speaking, the priests, the captain of
the temple and the Sadducees came upon them
a. greatly annoyed
1. for Peter was teaching the people
2. and the fact that Peter was proclaiming
in Jesus, the resurrection from the dead
15. Peter and John were arrested and kept in jail over night
16. Many of those who had heard the word believed
17. The number of men came to about 5,000
a. How were these men added to the number?
1. the same way the Pentecostians were:
(See Diagram below)
a) "So those who received his word were
baptized and there were added that day
about 3,000 souls."
1) "Receiving his word" and
"baptism" are synonymous terms
in Acts 2:41 descriptively
intertwined, one cannot have one
without the other

Acts 2:41 Received word were baptized were added 3,000
Acts 4:4 Heard the word believed (were added) 5,000
2) "Receiving the word" in Acts 2:41
and "hearing the word" in Acts 4:4
are synonymously descriptive
3) "Baptism" in Acts 2:41 and
"belief" in Acts 4:4 are
synonymously descriptive
4) The addition to the church
3,000 in Acts 2:41, and by
implication, 2,000 more by
Acts 4, took place the SAME
Way in BOTH instances.
18. "IF" God added 3,000 to the church in Acts 2 by baptism
and then added another 2,000 by the beginning of Acts
by a "sinners prayer," is not God then the "author of


The people in Acts 2 and the people in Acts 3 were both saved by repentance and baptism and were added to the church the same way in both instances, though the descriptive words chosen by the Holy Spirit to tell us of these events are different. Therefore, the conclusion is clear: Acts 3:19 does not in any way teach, endorse or imply the use of any kind of "sinners prayer" in regards to salvation, then or now.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

"Expelled" from Church?

Indeed!? No, I'm not speaking of being withdrawn from here in the biblical sense. I'm not even speaking of excommunication in the Catholic sense. What I am speaking of here is much more subtle and stealth. Some many not even notice it has taken place.

This evening a group of 8 men from the Archdale church of Christ went to the movies. We did so because men need to fellowship on a regular basis and we just don't. We grabbed a bite at the local "Steak and Shake" and afterwards went to see Ben Stein's new movie "Expelled."

"Expelled" is an excellent overview of the current struggle in the scientific community over whether "intelligent design" will play a part in the discussion over the future of Darwinian evolution. I recommend this movie highly for you, your entire family and every friend and acquaintance. Did you know that when cornered, world famous evolutionist Richard Dawkins actually says that life on earth could have "possibly" come from a "seeding" of our planet by superior beings from outer space?! Hardly science…….

My point here is not to discuss evolution or creationism per se. One of the many salient points the movie makes is this, there is a wall of separation in the scientific community between science and faith that cannot be crossed much like the infamous "Berlin Wall" of the Cold War era. One has complete academic freedom as long as he / she is on the Darwinian side. Even an admission that there is even a possibility of intelligent design in the whole scheme of things will be enough to "put you out of the camp." As long as the wall remains, freedom is non-existent.

It occurred to me upon reflection that much the same train of thought is prevalent in the Lord's church today. An example:

1) A major paper among us writes head line articles friendly to the pro-instrumental faction.

2) A group of faithful brethren take out an ad proclaiming the biblical truth on the matter.

3) A number of those in error on the matter complain bitterly to the editor of said paper.

4) The editor issues a new ad policy that silences the biblical opposition by refusing to take money for any more such ads.

It is said that often the "tail wags the dog." The tail of error among us is long, muscular and powerful. Those who peddle error make a wailing cry that the faithful are dividing the body of Christ by insisting upon biblical music in our assemblies. The perpetrators of this error have erected a wall of "spiritual correctness."

In the 1980's a gallant Ronald Reagan declared, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

Today, we call to our brethren on the other side. Our call is the same the Lord called to Israel in the long ago, "Come…let us reason together…" Let us lay aside our philosophies of men and "search the Scriptures daily…" Let us demand that false teachers like Alan Jones and Brian McLaren be removed from our lectures, removed from our conferences, removed from our chapels and removed from our magazines.

"Mr. Jones, Mr. McLaren, tear down this wall!"

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Overlooked Soul Winning - We Need More of It!

Our mission is clear; make disciples, baptize and teach all things whatsoever Christ commands us in the Gospels, the Acts, the epistles and the Revelation.

What is often NOT CLEAR is the extreme value of over looked soul-winning efforts by many who may not even "appear" to even be soul winners! We read of one such "soul winner" in Acts 9:36-43, Dorcas (or Tabitha). Here is what the Scripture says of her:

• She was full of good works
• She was full of charity
• Her passing caused much lament
• Her passing caused Peter to leave Lydda and come to Joppa
• She had made many tunics and other garments for the saints, her loss was
devastating to the church in Joppa
• Her loss drove Peter to prayer and God raised her from the dead
• Vs.42: "And it became known throughout all Joppa and MANY BELIEVED on the
• Peter then stayed in Joppa with one Simon the Tanner where he was readied by
the Holy Spirit to preach the good news of the Gospel to the Gentiles.

When we think of all the great soul winners in the New Testament, do we consider Tabitha? Not likely. When GOD considers the great soul winners of the New Testament, does He consider Tabitha? VERY likely. The life she led in SERVCIE TO OTHERS, her support of other soul winners and what God did for her and through her caused "MANY TO BELIEVE."

We cannot baptize or teach all things until we make disciples. Disciples are made when? Disciples are made when "they see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven."

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." - Matthew 5:15-16

Tabitha loved God, did good works of kindness and charity, died, was lamented, was raised and caused much glory to be given to God resulting in many baptisms!

We have many soul winners among us, some are "Peters" and some are "Tabithas"…but ALL soul winners none-the-less! Praise God for each of you for your "good works and charity" that makes disciples of all the nations! In God's economy there is no such thing as a "random act of kindness." "Whatsoever ye sow, ye shall also reap." Tabitha reaped a bountiful harvest and so shall we when we follow her example.