Friday, November 21, 2008

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I am reading and being greatly influenced by Michael Horton's new book CHRISTLESS CHRISTIANITY and am stunned to find aspects of the "prosperity gospel" theology creeping into what were previously considered "sound" churches via the preaching/teaching of men previously considered "rock solid" This is genuinely frightening.

I'm going to quote at length from the book here, particularly from a sub-chapter titled "From Riches to Rags: Losing the Gospel by Taking It for Granted" It seems more sensible to me just to quote his text rather than try to restate it in my own less succinct way.

"We got in by grace but now we need to stay following various steps, lists, and practices. There was this brief and shining moment of grace, but now the rest of the Christian life is about our experience, feelings, committment, and obedience.

Across the entire spectrum from conservative to liberal, we are being told that we need to focus on our deeds, not creeds. Of course, Christ's person and work are important; but we already believe that, right? That's doctrine, we are told; not helping people where they live. Now, we have to save America and the world through our holy actions....

The worst thing that can happen to the Church is to confuse law and gospel. When we soften the Law, we never give up on our own attempts to offer our rags of "righteousness" to God. When we turn the Gospel into demands, it is no longer the saving Word of redemption in Jesus Christ alone....

No longer threatened with hell or comforted with heaven, the new legalism is the upbeat and cheerful hum playing in the background. It's still a form of works-righteousness, with its carrots and sticks. Follow my advice and you'll really "connect" with God's best for your life. If you are not happy, perhaps you have fallen out of God's favor and blessing. Only those who are "completely surrendered" can be confident that they are in God's Plan A. Now here are the steps to living the victorious Christian life. Are you following the steps? Do you have enough faith? Are you praying enough, reading the Bible enough, witnessing enough, serving in the church enough, loving enough? This diet of imperatives becomes just as burdensome and human-centered as the older legalism; it's just Legalism-Lite....

We need the Law and the Gospel, but each does different things. When we confuse law and gospel, we avoid both the trauma of God's holiness and the liberating power of His grace. We begin to speak about living the gospel, doing the gospel, even being the gospel, as if the Good News were a message about us and our works instead of about Jesus Christ and His works.

And since our faith in every moment is threatened by our natural tendency to be distracted from its object--Christ--we need the gospel to be placarded before us not just at the beginning but throughout the Christian life. The gospel is for Christians too. We need to be evangelized every week. It is not by following Christ's example but by actually being inserted into Christ, clothed with Christ, united to Christ--as the Spirit creates faith through the gospel--that we are not only justified but sanctified as well....

So there are really only two religions in the world: a religion of human striving to ascend to God through pious works, feelings, attitudes, and experiences, and the Good News of God's merciful descent to us in His Son."

(CHRISTLESS CHRISTIANITY by Michael Horton, c. 2008 by Michael Horton, published by Baker Books)

How often do we hear this formula?-- OK, now you're saved through the Gospel. It's time to start living like a Christian. You need to "move on" by means of proper behaviors and actions.

Matthew 6:33 is presented as a "moving on" message. "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness" then, after you have so sought, work hard, be honest, and God will give you all those blessings!

What a travesty of the Gospel!.....what "another gospel, which is not the gospel."

"Seek first the Kingdom of God...." does not mean a one-time conversion experience after which we are blessed by God for our pious actions. We are to seek first the Kingdom with our every breath, every day, in every way. The Gospel is not a pill we swallow, then go on with our lives, getting the occasional "boost-up" from God's hand. The Gospel is Christ, the Way, the Destination, the Journey, now and for evermore.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Day After Election news pundits are nearly all telling us that regardless of how we voted, we should be celebrating the forthcoming presidency of Barack Obama....that this is an event of monumental historicity.

Just what is it that we are celebrating?

That this country has just given a mandate to an unknown quantity......a Mystery Man?

That we have just elected the Novice of Novices to lead the most powerful nation in the world?

That a man whose entire adult life has been guided and influenced by the philosophers and activists of the far Left is promising "change"? (Change from free-market capitalism to Euro-style socialism, an idea merely dabbled in by the recent Republican floundering, can become the legislated Way very quickly)

That a man professing a pseudo-christianity but demonstrating utter disregard for human life in the unborn now seems to be the personification of the American culture?

That we have elected a man who sees no problem in expanding the concept of marriage to include homosexual couples?

That we have elected a man who not only condones and supports the sinful behavior of our government in years past but is anxious to expand government granting legal permission for and protection of practices which are an abomination to God?

.........Well, no, not exactly.

That's not what we are to be celebrating.........

We should be, they say, celebrating the fact that Barack Obama is Black.

That's it folks. We have elected a Black man as President, so congratulate yourself! Never mind all the characteristics listed above......We have done a Great Thing!

Well, pardon me if my "celebration" is a bit subdued.

Is the best thing you can say about Obama "He's Black."? Maybe.....

And we're getting these celebration suggestions from the very same source, the news media, which for over a year has been telling us that we should not allow race to be a factor in our decision-making process.

Don't vote for him because he's Black. Don't vote against him because he's Black. But now, we've elected him and we need to celebrate the fact that he's Black.......?

Are we as a nation that stupid? Maybe.....

I can think of some guys (mostly not politicians) who would give me a lot greater inclination to celebrate were they President-elect: J C Watts, Alan Keyes, Voddie Baucham, Eric Redmond. Hey, they're Black, too....but I wouldn't be celebrating because they are Black, but because they have a worldview which honors God and would incline them to keep our country on the path laid out in the Constitution.

Four years or eight years hence will we look back at our country in ashes, economy wrecked, society in shambles, and take comfort in: Well, at least we elected a Black man! ? ? ?

Believe me, the tragedy would be just as tragic if we were led down the road of destruction by a white man. This seems like some kind of Orwellian brain-washing campaign--telling us how wonderful it is because the skin-pigmentation of our new President is somewhat darker than his predecessors.

Eric Redmond wrote of his personal conflict in deciding which way to vote, since he is Black. I can understand, considering history and man's nature, the inclination to vote for someone who looks like you and has had similar cultural experiences because of that skin color. The question is: Are those considerations weighty? Are they more important than other issues? Redmond decided "No" and said this about his decision:

If a person would allow himself to be pigeonholed into becoming a person of a nationalistic or ethno-centric thought out of the fear of being viewed as an Oreo or Uncle Tom, then Reformed Theology is not for that person. But neither is the Gospel, for the Gospel calls each of us to stand against an ethnic-centered philosophy of one's own race, for such a philosophy is naturally conformed to this present world and is in need of redemption. If you cannot stand against your own culture where it does not square with the Scriptures, you are the one who is ashamed of Christ, and such shame has nothing to with philosophical or ontological Blackness; it only has to do with your view of the majesty of the God who calls you to deny yourself in order to follow Christ. ("Sovereign in a Sweet Home, Schooling, and Solace," in Glory Road: Our Journey Into Reformed Christianity, ed. Anthony Carter [Wheaton, IL: Crossway, Wheaton, forthcoming])

(You can read his entire article here

Nothing to celebrate here, folks......move along! Let's not be caught up in taking cues for our behavior from the press or television pundits. Let's not give ear to the blind guides......

There are some real mandates regarding our human government, however, and they come from a Source to which we must give ear: the Word of God.

1. We are to pray for those in government, local and national, regardless of how we feel about their policies. They are ordained of God according to His purposes. That means we need to pray for Obama; pray that God changes his heart; pray that God be glorified in all that is done in this forthcoming administration.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.
(1Tim 2:1-2)

2. We are to be obedient to the government and courteous toward the governors and others.

Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.
(Titus 3:1-2)

3, Not just being obedient to the government but doing so because we recognize that it is ordained of God!

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.
(Rom 13:1-2)

What??? You still want to celebrate?.......Celebrate this:

"Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin."
(Rom 4:7-8)

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
(Rom 5:8-11)