Friday, May 26, 2006

The Bible: Not Written to Us? What?

Linguist missionary, David Ker, recently posted on his blog Lingamish a very thought provoking article, The Bible Wasn't Written to You. He suggests the Bible was not written to me, to you, to us.

Huh, I thought it was - I mean, everyone in the Bible spoke English, right?, and in some translations, American English at that! Huh . . . I think this post is worth a read!

Tell me what you think.

For example, how many of us will admit our guilt of reading/consuming/applying the Word like a trail mix?

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Great Quotes: What is the Gospel?!

Ligon Duncan, senior minister of First Presbyterian Church in Jackson, Mississippi, has pulled together some great quotes answering the question, "What is the Gospel?" and posted them on the Together for the Gospel blog site.

"If you believe what you like in the gospel, and reject what you don't like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself." (St. Augustine)

"The gospel is a glorious declaration of the mighty acts of God when he invaded this earth in the person of his eternal Son, the Lord Jesus Christ." (John Blanchard)

"The whole gospel is contained in Christ." (John Calvin)

"Whenever the gospel is preached it is as if God himself came into the midst of us." (John Calvin)

"There is nothing attractive about the gospel to the natural man; the only man who finds the gospel attractive is the man who is convicted of sin." (Oswald Chambers)

"As there is only one God, so there can be only one gospel." (James Denney)

"The church is the fruit of the gospel." (Hywel R. Jones)

"The gospel begins and ends with what God is, not what we want or think we need." (Tom Houston)

"A gospel that elevates man and dethrones God is not the gospel." (Will Metzger)

"The world has many religions; it has but one gospel." (George Owen)

"The man who does not glory in the gospel can surely know little of the plague of sin that is within him. (J.C. Ryle)

"The revelation of the gospel is to a world that is already under indictment for its universal rejection of God the Father." (R.C. Sproul)

"If the Lord's bearing our sin for us is not the gospel, I have no gospel to preach." (C.H. Spurgeon)

"The heart of the gospel is redemption, and the essence of redemption is the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ." (C.H. Spurgeon)

"When we preach Christ crucified, we have no reason to stammer, or stutter, or hesitate, or apologize; there is nothing in the gospel of which we have any cause to be ashamed." (C.H. Spurgeon)

"Let this be to you the mark of true gospel preaching - where Christ is everything, and the creature is nothing; where it is salvation all of grace, through the work of the Holy Spirit applying to the soul the precious blood of Jesus." (C.H. Spurgeon)

"On Christ, and what he has done, my soul hangs for time and eternity. And if your soul also hangs there, it will be saved as surely as mine shall be. And if you are lost trusting in Christ, I will be lost with you and will go to hell with you. I must do so, for I have nothing else to rely upon but the fact that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, lived, died, was buried, rose again, went to heaven, and still lives and pleads for sinners at the right hand of God." (C.H. Spurgeon)

"The gospel is not 'God loves us,' but 'God loves us at the cost of his Son.'" (Derek Thomas)

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Spurgeon - Single Reflection, Power of Comfort

The evening of October 19, 1856, 22-year-old Charles Spurgeon was set to preach at the Surrey Gardens Music Hall, which seated at least 10,000. The Hall quickly filled in anticipation of the service, people filling every seat and crowding the aisles and stairways, with thousands more standing outside to hear Spurgeon through the open windows. Shortly after Spurgeon began the services with prayer, someone in the crowd shouted, “Fire!” Panic swept the crowd and there began a rush on the exits. It is said that some outside, seeing now-opened seats inside the Hall, began to rush in. Throughout the chaotic events Spurgeon tried to calm the people, but in the end, 7 people were crushed to death, and 28 others were severely wounded. Spurgeon was devastated by what had happened, and his critics used the event to slander the young preacher.

Spurgeon withdrew from his ministry for over a week. He later reported that it was while walking through a friend’s garden that the Lord impressed upon him the text of Philippians 2:9, "Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name."

Encouraged and strengthened by the Lord and His promises, he returned to the pulpit. In Spurgeon’s first sermon after the October 19th tragedy, he said, "The text I have selected is one that has comforted me, and in a great measure, enabled me to come here today - the single reflection upon it had such a power of comfort on my depressed spirit. It is this: "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

*Every knee will bow, every tongue will confess, to that One Single Name that is Above All Others!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

T.D. Jakes and Joel Osteen - On Heaven

**UPDATED January 25, 2008 - See Below!**

More on T.D. Jakes and his modalistic, non-Trinitarian beliefs and statements from

Updated article from Dr. Michael Horton, Westminster Seminary California, Joel Osteen and the Glory Story: A Case Study.

Fellow blogger Robert Hunter recently reported on his site, Heresy Hunter, the sad "performance" of Dallas Pastor T.D. Jakes who had the following to say in a May 2 National Public Radio show, answering a Muslim woman's question about heaven:

CALLER: I'm a Muslim here in Portland. I'm part of a Shiite community. And we had a wonderful interface dialogue last weekend with a local Unitarian church. And I'd like to ask you please to speak about concrete experiences you've had as far as interfaith dialogue goes. And also would like to ask you, do you feel that only Christians could hope to enter Heaven?

JAKES: Very great question. When it comes to interfaith experiences, I'm currently serving by the appointment of former President Bush and President Clinton, as co-chair of an interfaith advisory committee to help people get back up on their feet.

And we do have on the board Muslims, Catholics, a Jewish Rabbi, Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostals across the board. And we're working together very effectively because we all care about common goals. We have our distinct theologies and our own ideologies but there are common grounds that we can work together very effectively in many, many cases.

When it comes to Heaven, I try to leave that up to God. I certainly believe that Christianity is right, but when it comes down to the final test--who goes and who doesn't go--Jesus said, Other sheep have I who are not of this fold. Them also must I bring. I'll let Him identify who those sheep are and I stay out of the conversation.

This sounds awfully (pun intended) close to Houston Pastor Joel Osteen's abysmal showing on Larry King Live back in October 2005:

KING: Because we've had ministers on who said, your record don't count. You either believe in Christ or you don't. If you believe in Christ, you are, you are going to heaven. And if you don't no matter what you've done in your life, you ain't.

OSTEEN: Yeah, I don't know. There's probably a balance between. I believe you have to know Christ. But I think that if you know Christ, if you're a believer in God, you're going to have some good works. I think it's a cop-out to say I'm a Christian but I don't ever do anything ...

KING: What if you're Jewish or Muslim, you don't accept Christ at all?

OSTEEN: You know, I'm very careful about saying who would and wouldn't go to heaven. I don't know ...

KING: If you believe you have to believe in Christ? They're wrong, aren't they?

OSTEEN: Well, I don't know if I believe they're wrong. I believe here's what the Bible teaches and from the Christian faith this is what I believe. But I just think that only God will judge a person's heart. I spent a lot of time in India with my father. I don't know all about their religion. But I know they love God. And I don't know. I've seen their sincerity. So I don't know. I know for me, and what the Bible teaches, I want to have a relationship with Jesus.

. . .

CALLER: Hello, Larry. You're the best, and thank you, Joe -- Joel -- for your positive messages and your book. I'm wondering, though, why you side-stepped Larry's earlier question about how we get to heaven? The bible clearly tells us that Jesus is the way, the truth and the light and the only way to the father is through him. That's not really a message of condemnation but of truth.

OSTEEN: Yes, I would agree with her. I believe that...

KING: So then a Jew is not going to heaven?

OSTEEN: No. Here's my thing, Larry, is I can't judge somebody's heart. You know? Only god can look at somebody's heart, and so -- I don't know. To me, it's not my business to say, you know, this one is or this one isn't. I just say, here's what the bible teaches and I'm going to put my faith in Christ. And I just I think it's wrong when you go around saying, you're saying you're not going, you're not going, you're not going, because it's not exactly my way. I'm just...

KING: But you believe your way.

OSTEEN: I believe my way. I believe my way with all my heart.

KING: But for someone who doesn't share it is wrong, isn't he?

OSTEEN: Well, yes. Well, I don't know if I look at it like that. I would present my way, but I'm just going to let god be the judge of that. I don't know. I don't know.

Pastor Osteen, in an apology letter that is no longer on his website (was posted at said this of his interview: "God has given me a platform to present the Gospel to a very diverse audience. In my desire not to alienate the people that Jesus came to save, I did not clearly communicate the convictions that I hold so precious."

Well I DO know, Joel, and the Bible tells me so! And Joel, and T.D., YES, doctrine - Biblical Doctrine - matters!

**UPDATE: January 25, 2008!

Michael Horton's reflections on Joel Osteen's latest book, Become a Better You.

Excerpt of Joel Osteen's December 23, 2007, appearance on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace speaking of Mormanism. Here's the entire transcript. You may also watch it here on YouTube.

Brent, on his blog Colossians ThreeSixteen, talks about why Joel Osteen should stop calling himself a pastor and put a “Self-Help” sign outside his building.

**UPDATE: October 16, 2007

**RE: Joel Osteen's interview on CBS' 60 Minutes (Oct. 14, 2007) -

My friend Tony Reinke (a fellow Husker! nonetheless) over at The Shepherd’s Scrapbook has these comments about Osteen's kinder, gentler path to legalism.

**RE: Joel's newly released book, Become A Better You -

Tim Challies' book review, here.

And why Joel Osteen’s book should not be sold in Christian bookstores.

**RE: Book reviews of Osteen's earlier book, Your Best Life Now -

9Marks Ministry's review, here.

Daryl Wingerd's review, here.

**RE: Another look at Osteen's "theology" from Dr. Ben Witherington, here.


My Evening with Joel, by Melton Duncan, Director of Church Relations for Ligonier Ministries (and brother of Ligon Duncan).

As reported recently out of Boston:
Boston Herald (Sept. 2, 2006)
"He’s the most popular preacher in the country right now - a best-selling author and the “most watched minister” in America. But when asked yesterday about gay marriage during a trip to the bluest state in the land of the free - and the only one where same-sex nuptuals are legal - the Rev. Joel Osteen suddenly got sheepish. “I don’t think it’s God’s best,” the handsome Holy Roller said of homosexuality. “I never feel like homosexuality is God’s best.” When pressed on the issue, Osteen said, “I don’t feel like that’s my thrust . . . you know, some of the issues that divide us, and I’m here to let people know that God is for them and he’s on their side.”

And from the InternetMonk, Sept. 7, 2006
"... In his speaking and writing, Osteen continues to be a positive thinking guru and motivational speaker who uses the trappings of a Christian pastor and preacher to tap into a gullible, compromised audience whose great commonality seems to be their agreement that Joel is personally charming and “Your Best Life Now” sounds a lot more interesting than “take up your cross and follow me.”

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels."

Friday, May 05, 2006

Study of Church History: Critical and Essential

**Updated Below**

Is a study and understanding of Christian church history important? Is it critical in the life of a Christian? What about those who would say that in comparison, they'd rather just read about how to be a good mom/dad and live a good Christian life?

Let's consider a few (although not exhaustive!) things, shall we?!

"It is always essential for us to supplement our reading of theology with the reading of church history. . . . If we do not, we shall be in danger of becoming abstract, theoretical, and academic in our view of truth; and, failing to relate it to the practicalities of life and daily living, we shall soon be in trouble." (Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Puritans: Their Origins & Successors)

"Surely one of the remarkable aspects of Christianity today is how few of these professed believers have ever seriously studied the history of their religion." (Dr. Bruce L. Shelley, Professor of Church History, Denver Seminary)

In Jeremiah 6:16, God tells us to “and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.” And in
Deuteronomy 32:7, we're told to "remember the days of old; consider the years of many generations; ask your father, and he will show you, your elders, and they will tell you."

Also, I Corinthians 10:11, reminds us that "... these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction . . . " And of course Hebrews 11 gives us the Faith-full Hall of Fame - those heroes of the faith, our great cloud of witnesses, that went before us and what they taught us (and what we're to learn from them).

Dr. Jim Garlow, Senior Pastor of Skyline Wesleyan Church in La Mesa, California, gives us 10 reasons to study church history:

1. It gives us understanding (of how we got to where we are today).
2. The study of history introduces us to new friends (like St. Augustine, Martin Luther, John Calvin and John & Charles Wesley).
3. We learn the price that was paid for us!
4. We avoid the pitfalls and the land mines of history.
5. Studying history increases our effectiveness [my comment: Just look at the "history" being peddled by the Da Vinci Code]!
6. History enhances our endurance to persevere to the end.
7. History inspires us.
8. History makes the dead come to life.
9. The study of history is humbling as we learn to understand that there was life before we were born.
10. The study of church history allows us to take a trip through time without leaving the comfort of our favorite chair. Jim Garlow, Copyright 2006

Here is some informative online resources:
And some finely researched and written books on the subject:
Yes, the study of the church history, of His work in the life and history of His body, OUR story, is important and not to be neglected or discounted!

Dr. Ligon Duncan, Senior Minister, First Presbyterian Church, Jackson, MS, on the Patristic, or early church fathers.