Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Can One Have a False Faith, or Just a Delusion?

Do" false converts" stick their head in the sand?
This is a serious question. I write a lot of commentary on the views of Lordship Salvation (LS) proponents. I haven't had anyone really support that view, or challenge my assertions about it here here in a long time. I hope that some of you LS proponents will comment on this article though.

I've asked the following in another location, and have not yet had it answered. I hope someone here will take a stab at it.
LS proponents say you can evaluate to find out if you have really believed in Jesus. Can anyone give another example of something you could only "think" you believe in?  
As far as I can discern, only delusions are false beliefs. Belief in vain, in something that isn't real or true. That's Paul's point in 1Cor 15 wrt to believing in vain.  
Even in the case of a delusion the person really believes it.  
Can you not be sure if you believe 2+2=4? I can see not having confidence in it... if you don't know yet - but that is the definition of NOT believing. Not "thinking" you believe.  
So can anyone give another example other than faith in Jesus where it would be possible to only think you believe in something?  
I don't buy it.
Is there an example of something that a person might truly believe they believe to be true, and yet somehow they don't actually believe it?

If the answer is what I expect it to be: No there is no example of something that someone could believe they believe, but somehow not actually believe it - then what use is evaluating your faith to find out if you have truly believed? There is no such thing as a false faith, there can only be faith and delusion. Both are equal in quality, but a delusion is a true faith in something that is false. The person has been deluded into believing a lie.

I hope someone has an interesting answer.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Tithing and Circumcision

Really? A cleaner, fresher soul?
10% or more for "best results"?
Galatians 5:1-6
1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.  
2 Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. 3And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. 4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.  
5 For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.
Have you ever been in a discussion about Tithing where the idea comes up that while it is true a Christian is not under "The Law" but that Tithing was instituted prior to "The Law" so "it has always been God's plan/requirement"? Have you ever heard someone give that argument, or given it yourself?

I've discussed this subject many times and I categorically hold to the view that a Christian is not to be compelled to "tithe." As I point out often, the person claiming a Christian must or should Tithe often has little idea what a "Tithe" is. They think it is 10% of a person's income. I've often been satisfied (because I'm sometimes needlessly rude) by asking a person to define the Tithe using the Scriptures. Can you? To be honest, I can only do so in a very rudimentary way myself. It's actually a pretty complicated system with lots of if/then type clauses. Go ahead, do an honest study of the subject. What did the Jews really have to do in order to fulfill the Tithe? Once you know the answer, then try to figure out how a Christian is supposed to do all of that, and who exactly the Tithe is supposed to be given to. OK so that's a complicated, and actually somewhat rude way of killing the argument. Not only is it rude, it is only partially helpful, and much too complicated to even be practical in most normal conversations.

Galatians 5:1
Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. 
Stand fast in the Liberty Christ provides and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Since a specific yoke is not identified this means any yoke of bondage - including some religious system that includes following rules about giving.

So this is all well and good, but what about the idea that Tithing was instituted before "The Law" was given and therefore just because a Christian is not under "The Law" we still must follow what God has always required? Well firstly, the Christian is not under law, not just not under "The Law" Rom 6:14. Further, "The Law" means Torah, not just the 10 Commandments. There is no revelation, practice or requirement instituted by God for Mankind prior to Torah. So that argument is dead. But.... I want to nail the coffin shut because bad teaching tends to get resurrected by men all to often; many times with good intent.

Galatians 5:2-4
2 Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. 3And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. 4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. 
Here Paul is telling us that if one becomes circumcised that one is in debt to keep the whole law. How often have we read this and not thought about Tithing? Pretty often I'd bet!

When people talk about Tithing (or their understanding of Tithing anyway) being instituted or recognized or accepted (depending on the person's level of faithfulness to what the Text actually says) before The 10 Commandments were given in Exodus 20:1-17 they are talking about Jacob's vow to God.

Genesis 28:18-22
18 Then Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put at his head, set it up as a pillar, and poured oil on top of it. 19 And he called the name of that place Bethel; but the name of that city had been Luz previously.
20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, 21 so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God. 22 And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.”
God accepts Jacob's vow, and people use this as a precedence for requiring the Christian to "give God" 10% of their income. Because God accepted this one might make the case that we are required to follow suit.

Yet we read in Galatians 5:1-6 that if a person becomes circumcised that they are in debt to keep the whole law which Christians are not under (as we read in multiple places in the NT).

It's interesting that Circumcision wasn't just recognized or accepted by God it was commanded by Him. Further it was commanded by Him 11 chapters prior to His accepting Jacob's vow. (*see update) This command was given to our spiritual father - Abraham (Abram). Another argument used to support Tithing is that Abraham paid "a tenth part" to Melchizedek Heb 7:1-10 and so we must also do likewise.

*UPDATE: I did make an error here. Abram is recorded giving a tithe to Melchizedek in Genesis 14:18-24, several chapters earlier than Circumcision is commanded. I do not believe this changes the argument, or lessens it's accuracy. However, it does take away some of the emotional impact of stating "11 chapters prior"... 

Yet, Circumcision was commanded by God to Abram for him and all his descendants.

Genesis 17: 9-11 
9 And God said to Abraham: “As for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. 10 This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised; 11 and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you.
This is a command, not just an accepted vow, and Paul tells us unequivocally that if we attempt to follow this instruction that Christ will profit us nothing. While my mistake (*see update) is most real, both events happen well before the giving of "The Law." I strongly believe therefore that Paul's warning applies to both.

My Brethren, do not again subject yourself to a yoke of bondage thinking that somehow you are honoring God through your supposed obedience. You are reducing the perfect sacrifice of Christ from complete fulfillment to a mere enabler.

How can a Christian decide how much to give, and who to give it to?

2Cor 9:6-15 and 1Tim 5:17-18 can be of considerable help, but you'll notice there is no rule (neither law nor Law) to follow in either passage. Not even a suggested minimum...

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Defense Team (Evangelism 101.4)

Criminal Defense Lawyers get a bad rap, but the defense we go up against when we're witnessing with God to the Lost is truly evil.

Meet the Defense Team.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Evangelism 101: The Preliminary Trial

Here's another episode of A Christian in Canada Presents!

When we're witnessing with God to the lost we have no right to put them on trial. It is however, in their absolute best interest that we help them through a sort of preliminary hearing of the evidence that will be presented against them at their ultimate judgment if they don't plead guilty while they can. If one sees their guilt, then hears how that guilt has been paid for at the Cross, believes in the Gospel of Jesus Christ 1Cor 15:1-11 then they will be saved.

That's why we help them judge themselves, but never judge them ourselves.

Make sure you watch in HD! 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Spent the night in the hospital

So I hit the trails on my mountain bike really hard last night. I wanted to impress my wife, who is an athlete, with my best possible time on a 24KM route that we really enjoy. I was out by myself and going as fast as I possibly could. I got home and was able to take a moment to brag, and then things started to go south. Eventually I collapsed and she had to call 911.

As I lay on the floor in the recovery position try to stay conscious we prayed. The Gospel I preach is the same Gospel that gave me comfort in those moments as we waited for the ambulance to arrive. I can tell you there is no assurance like the assurance that comes from full and complete confidence in the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

The ambulance showed up and they went to work on me... then they took me to the hospital were my wife I spent the night. As I laid there in my emergency room bed I was very uncomfortable, but the man in the next bed beside me was in agony. He was very scared and the pain was wearing him down.

Late in the night/morning he said something that really struck a nerve with me. It scared me. I started to think again about why I share the Gospel with people. Here's what he said to his wife:

"Dear this hurts too much. It hurts too much.... (pause)... OK that's it that's all I can take I can't take any more. We have to get out of here. It hurts too much I have to get out of here."

I wonder if this is what it will be like for those who suffer eternally in the Lake of Fire. Will they say these same words, and mean them, and yet not be able to escape? We have a pure and holy Gospel which offers people salvation from such a unthinkable eternity.

We MUST get it to them!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Calvinism, Religion and Worldliness

Lou has posted an article by Yours Truly over at his In Defense of the Gospel blog. Here's a short snippet from it.
Let’s consider that Calvinism, in its practical sense, is fundamentally concerned with how people bring God glory. God is said to be orchestrating every instance of history to bring Himself glory and we have no actual say in our part of His sovereign plan. It is explained that any choice made by a person to serve God would violate His sovereignty, because all things are by His decree alone. Decree is actually a very accurate rendering for the word grace in the Calvinistic understanding that salvation is “by grace.” It is said the sinner is used to bring God glory through his/her judgment and subsequent eternal punishment while the saint is used through obedience and good works. Logically, since God is orchestrating every instance of history, it is said that one can evaluate which part of God’s program one is on through evaluating how one is bringing glory to God. Are you characterized by sin that will be judged and punished, or are you characterized by righteousness? This is how Calvinism is practically applied in the lives of those who are taught it: look at yourself and evaluate. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Being an Expert Witnes (Evangelism 101.2)

Here's Episode 2 of A Christian in Canada Presents in the Evangelism series of videos. This video is entitled "Being an Expert Witness"

Being a witness for God is a lot like being an Expert Witness in a criminal trial. You're not the Judge, the accuser, jury or even a witness to the crimes (sin) -- you're just there to testify about the truth you know about.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Some Things I've Noticed

What a Summer! What a Summer....

I recently decided to stop fellowshipping at the same church I've been at for the last two years. You know compromise seems like such a good idea... but think about the whole debt ceiling thing in the USA. They've just come to some, non-specific, compromise that will let them stick their heads in the sand until 2013.. when (if the Lord tarries) they'll have the same "crisis" all over again and they'll have all the same issues to deal with.

Compromise isn't always helpful. Do you compromise in life? Sure, about desires... about wants... about schedules... but not about TRUTH. You can't "compromise" about TRUTH because then TRUTH becomes compromised - and does not remain TRUE.

I'm truly sick of the Lordship Salvation movement.  So here are a couple of things I've noticed about it that really make me scratch my head.

When I hear a Lordship Salvation proponent talking about repentance being turning over a new leaf, changing direction, turning from sin, forsaking sin, stopping sin, feeling remorseful enough to never want to sin again, hating sin, changing from disobeying God to seeking only to obey Him, submitting one's self to the mastery of Christ over all areas of your life... or any number of other definitions that go beyond what the Scriptures say.... well I almost invariably suggest that the person take a listen to a very good, very complete study of all the usages of "repentance" in the OT and NT in the form of a course freely offered online by the Bible Believers Network Bible Institute. I always note that the course is about 5 hours long.

You know what response I get? Consistently, actually without exception, the Lordship Salvation proponent will balk at taking a free 5 hour course on repentance that goes through the Bible passage by passage. I cannot tell you the motivation of the person - only God knows a person's heart - but I can tell you about how hypocritical it looks to me, every single time. You see the person will have been telling me how "true" Christians are sold out for God and seek to obey Him at all times in all ways, that they have completely submitted their will to that of God. Yet they balk at spending 5 hours on the fundamental doctrine they preach.... Seriously? How am I supposed to react to this?

Consistently, I react by telling that I understand that 5 hours is quite an investment (while trying to keep from either sighing or sounding sarcastic - sometimes neither is at all easy) and so I suggest that they pick up a copy of HA Ironside's Unless You Repent. You can get it from and and in many GOOD Bible stores. It costs about $12... Guess what? That's too much apparently... or they don't want to order from Amazon.. or they have some other excuse. OK I understand that sometimes money is tight, and one might not be too sure of the validity of the work of a Canadian. ;) So how do I respond?

Well there is a free version of this work online but it is in older King James English. It can be found at Wholesome Words (PDF). At this point the one I'm speaking with will sometimes tell me they will "take a look at it" however, I have yet to ever have a single person come back to me to tell me that they have actually done so.

So what am I to think about all of this? Well I think you know what I think about all this. I also have a deep, deep dislike of how some people will preach to others that they must be sold out for Christ in order to qualify for Salvation, that they must forsake all in order to attain Eternal Life, and that if they haven't submitted every area of their life to the mastery of Jesus Christ that they will spend eternity in the Lake of Fire - and yet the preacher is himself very worldly.

You know, the Lord did say that you can tell a Prophet by his fruit. Do I believe the gospel you preach? Not much chance if I must first ask you; do YOU?