Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Luke 18:9-11 Teaching Outline)

Introduction: It is quite common today to hear people say things like, “I don't believe in any one religion, but I am a very spiritual person.” People are simply perplexed about what spirituality really is or isn't, yet they want to appear to be “spiritual.” They don't understand what that really means, but this only aids them in thinking that they ought to be the ones who define it for themselves. As George Gallup wrote in an online article back in August of 2013:
As described in The Next American Spirituality, which Tim Jones and I wrote, the pendulum may be swinging away from what is beyond us to what is within us. In the 1999 survey, we asked, “Do you think of spirituality more in a personal and individual sense or more in terms of organized religion and church doctrine?” Almost three-quarters opted for the “personal and individual” response.
In a January 2002 poll, 50% of Americans described themselves as “religious,” while another 33% said they are “spiritual but not religious” (11% said neither and 4% said both). When respondents to a 1999 Gallup survey were asked to define “spirituality,” almost a third defined it without reference to God or a higher authority: “a calmness in my life,” “something you really put your heart into,” or “living the life you feel is pleasing.”
As further evidence of the focus on self in spirituality, many people today appear to be practicing a “do-it-yourself” faith -- taking pieces from various traditions and building their own kind of “patchwork” faith. For example, according to a September 1996 Gallup Poll, one-fifth of people who describe themselves as “born again” also say they believe in reincarnation. (Americans' Spiritual Searches Turn Inward)
Such findings are really no surprise to those of us who have been paying attention to what has been happening in our culture. But, sadly, many professing Christians are just as unaware of what true spirituality is or isn't. They often know that what they are hearing around them is wrong, but they aren't always sure how to respond to it. However, I think the parable before us today may help us to get to the heart of the matter. For in it our Lord Jesus directly challenges the false spirituality of the Pharisees of His day, and He offers us a picture of what true spirituality really looks like. I hope to demonstrate this for you as we make our way through the parable. In the process, we will examine 1) the context of the parable, 2) the communication of the parable, and 3) the application of the parable.

I. The Context of the Parable

The context of the parable is found verse 9, where Luke tells us what we need to know about who Jesus was speaking to and why He was speaking to them.
NKJ  Luke 18:9 Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others ….
Right away Luke wants us to understand the problem Jesus is addressing. There were people around Him who thought they they could be righteous in and of themselves, and these people tended to despise anyone who didn't measure up to their self-defined standards of righteousness. They were self-righteous people who didn't really love others, but the real problem behind this is that they didn't really love God. That this is the problem will become even clearer as we examine the parable itself.

II. The Communication of the Parable

The communication of the parable is found in verses 10-13. Although it has been my habit to follow a verse-by-verse format when teaching the parables of Jesus, I prefer to teach this parable in such a way as to highlight the comparisons Jesus wants us to make between the Pharisee and the Tax Collector presented in the parable. He introduces these two main characters in verse 10.
NKJ  Luke 18:10 Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
Notice that Jesus tells us that both men went went up to the temple to pray, not only the Pharisee but also the tax collector. Thus Jesus indicates that both men were ostensibly engaging in spiritual activity, even though this might have come as a surprise to most of His hearers. In fact, most of those who were listening to Jesus would have expected to hear about a Pharisee who went up to the temple to pray, but they would have been quite taken aback to hear about a tax collector who did so. You see, the tax collectors were not typically religious people. In fact, they were typically greedy and crooked men who actually collected taxes for the Romans and for this reason were often considered traitors to their people. As the IVP Bible Background Commentary observes:
Pharisees were the most pious people in regular Palestinian Jewish society; tax gatherers were the most despicable, often considered traitors to their people. Pharisees did not want tax gatherers admitted as witnesses or given honorary offices. To catch the impact of this parable today one might think of these characters as the most active deacon or Sunday-school teacher versus a drug dealer, gay activist or crooked politician. (e-Sword)
So you can see why most people who listened to this parable would already have been surprised – perhaps even a bit shocked – by what they were hearing. They would have expected a story about a Pharisee who went up to the temple to pray, but they would have been surprised to hear a story about a tax collector who went up to the temple to pray.

Yet the real surprise of the parable still hasn't come. For Jesus actually goes on to reverse what they would have expected. He goes on to show that the Pharisee was the spiritual fraud and the tax collector was the one who was spiritually genuine! In doing so, he sets up a contrast between them in order to make His point. So, in order to highlight the comparison and contrast that Jesus wants us to see, let's examine first two indicators of false spirituality exhibited by the Pharisee, and then we will examine two indicators of genuine spirituality exhibited by the tax collector.

1. Two Indicators of False Spirituality

These indicators are seen in Jesus' description of the Pharisee in verses 11-12:
NKJ  Luke 18:11-12 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, “God, I thank You that I am not like other men – extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.”
The first indicator of false spirituality is trusting in one's own ability to conform outwardly to religious requirements.

Luke has already indicated that the Pharisee stands for those who “trusted in themselves that they were righteous” (vs. 9). In doing so he has prepared us to understand what Jesus says here as a description of the way in which their trust in themselves could be seen. Notice especially the way the Pharisee talks about himself and about his own actions:
I thank you I am not like other men … (vs. 11a).
I fast twice a week … (vs. 12a).
I give tithes of all that I possess … (vs. 12b).
In fact, Jesus says that the Pharisee's prayer isn't really a prayer at all, but rather a self-congratulatory pat on the back. For Jesus specifically states that the Pharisee “prayed thus with himself” (vs. 11a, italics mine). That is, although the Pharisee was trying to appear pious, he was actually talking to himself and about himself.

The NET Bible notes offer a couple of options for understanding the Greek phrase that describes how the Pharisee prayed with regard to himself:
… two different nuances emerge, both of which highlight in different ways the principal point Jesus seems to be making about the arrogance of this religious leader: (1) “prayed to himself,” but not necessarily silently, or (2) “prayed about himself,” with the connotation that he prayed out loud, for all to hear. Since his prayer is really a review of his moral résumé, directed both at advertising his own righteousness and exposing the perversion of the tax collector, whom he actually mentions in his prayer, the latter option seems preferable. If this is the case, then the Pharisee's mention of God is really nothing more than a formality. (BibleWorks)
As William Hendriksen also aptly observes:
Outwardly he addresses God, for he says, “O God.” But inwardly and actually the man is talking about himself to himself …. Moreover, having mentioned God once, he never refers to him again. Throughout his prayer the Pharisee is congratulating himself.
That this is the true state of affairs follows also from the fact that nowhere in his prayer does the man confess his sins. Nowhere does he ask God to forgive him what he has done amiss. Now if he had had any sense of the divine presence, would he not also have had a sense of guilt? (e-Sword) 
We may also see the Pharisee's lack of awareness of his own sins when we consider the way he views others, which leads to our next characteristic of the self-righteous.

The second indicator of false spirituality is gauging one's spirituality by comparison to the perceived lack of holiness in others.

Again, Luke has already indicated that the Pharisee stands for those who “despised others” or, as the ESV renders it, those who “treated others with contempt” (vs. 9). So he has again helped to prepare us to understand what Jesus intended when He offered His portrayal of the Pharisee in this parable. Notice especially how, while pretending to give God the glory, the Pharisee says, “I thank You that I am not like other men – extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector” (vs. 11b).

Application: This portrayal of the Pharisee should lead each one of us to examine himself or herself in order to see how much we might be like this Pharisee. For example, we might want to ask ourselves questions like, How often do I say “I” when speaking of the good things in my life or of ministry accomplishments, as though the credit belongs to me rather than to God? Or, perhaps worse, how often do I pretend to credit God but don't really man it? You see, we may know the right things to say in order to sound spiritual to others, but whether or not we mean what we say is the true test of genuine spirituality rather than hypocrisy, and – one way or another – who we truly are will eventually show through, just as it did with the Pharisee in the parable.

2. Two Indicators of Genuine Spirituality

These indicators are the opposite of those pertaining to the false spirituality of the Pharisee, and they may be seen in Jesus' description of the tax collector in verse 13:
NKJ  Luke 18:13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!”
The first indicator of genuine spirituality is an awareness of one's own inability to live righteously.

Given that the tax collector is contrasted with the Pharisee, and that the Pharisee illustrates “some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous” (vs. 9), we may assume that the tax collector represents those who do not trust in themselves that they are righteous. We see his awareness of his own inability to live righteously both in his actions and in his confession. For example, Jesus says that the man confessed his sinfulness to God, saying, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” But He also says that he “beat his breast,” which is a sign of intense sorrow. Jesus wants us to see clearly, then, what a recognition of one's own inability to live righteously entails. It entails a clear understanding of our own sinfulness in the sight of God and a corresponding sense of sorrow for our sins. As the Apostle Paul would later write to the Corinthian believers:
NKJ  2 Corinthians 7:9-10 Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. 10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.
Unlike the Pharisee, who should have understood such things himself, the tax collector in the parable serves for all time as an example of such a godly sorrow for sin. He is the kind of person about whom Jesus spoke when He said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matt. 5:3-4).

The second indicator of genuine spirituality is gauging one's spirituality by comparison to God's holiness.

Jesus says that the tax collector was “standing afar off” and that he “would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven.” These actions again indicate a sense of humility and a recognition by the tax collector that he was not worthy to enter the presence of God. He clearly understood that the standard by which he was to be measured was the holiness of God rather than the morality of those around him.

Application: This portrayal of the tax collector should lead each one of us to examine himself or herself in order to see whether or not we exhibit characteristic of genuine spirituality. For example, we might want to ask ourselves questions like, When was the last time I really saw my own sin for the terrible thing that it is? Or, When was the last time I truly sensed my deep need for God's grace and forgiveness? The answers to such questions might just reveal the last time we had a clear vision of God's holiness.

But what if such self-examination reveals that you have never experienced any such remorse for your sins? If this is the case, then you must face the fact that you may be a spiritual fraud and are not really a Christian at all. I think this is a possibility our Lord Jesus would have you consider for, although I have suggested some application of the parable up to this point, we should not miss the most important one, and that is the one made by Jesus Himself, which leads us to the last point.

III. The Application of the Parable

We find Jesus' own direct application of the parable in verse 14:
NKJ  Luke 18:14 I tell you, this man [i.e. the tax collector] went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
Remember that the Pharisee represents those “who trusted in themselves that they were righteous” (vs. 9). This means, given the contrast Jesus draws between the Pharisee and the tax collector, that the tax collector must represent those who trust in God for their righteousness. Thus when Jesus says that the tax collector “went down to his house justified,” He speaks of the man being justified in the same forensic sense that the Apostle Paul later described at length when he proclaimed the Gospel that he had gotten directly from Jesus Himself (Gal. 1:11-12). For example, in his Epistle to the Romans Paul declares:
NKJ  Romans 3:21-26 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
This “righteous of God … to all and on all who believe” was the basis upon which the tax collector in the parable was said to be justified – declared righteous – in the sight of God. Although since then we have seen even more clearly how this righteousness comes “through faith in Jesus Christ,” the doctrine of justification was the same under the Old Covenant as it is under the New Covenant, a fact which is assumed by our Lord Jesus in the telling of this parable.

But what about Jesus' statement that “everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted”? What does Jesus mean by this? In answer to answer this question, I would suggest that the context indicates in what sense one who humbles himself will be exalted. Jesus is speaking about two men standing before God and being judged by Him. The one who humbles himself by recognizing his own sinfulness and unworthiness – the one who is thus sorrowful for his sins and repents – this is the one will be exalted by being declared righteous in the sight of God. But the one who exalts himself by trusting in his own ability to attain righteousness (vs. 9) – the one who is thus prideful and does not repent of his sins – this is the one who will be humbled in the future judgment of God.

You see, although the final judgment of God is future, those of us who have trusted in Him as the source for our righteousness may know now what that verdict will be, for it has already been pronounced on our behalf. Thus, just as the tax collector in the parable was able to return to his home already justified in the sight of God (vs. 14), even so we who have trusted in the righteousness of Christ are justified even now. As the Apostle Paul said:
NKJ  Romans 5:1-2 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
This is why Jesus told this parable. He wanted us to know how we can be justified in the sight of God, that we can only be justified by Him if we leaving off trusting in our own righteousness and instead trust in the righteousness that only He Himself can provide for us. As Paul said to the Corinthian believers:
NKJ  1 Corinthians 1:30-31 But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God – and righteousness and sanctification and redemption – 31 that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the LORD.”
Conclusion: Have you trusted in Christ as the source for your righteousness? For He alone has lived a sinless life, so He alone can provide for you the righteousness that you need in the sight of God. As Paul again said:
NKJ  2 Corinthians 5:20-21 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
This is the happy exchange by which our sin was reckoned to Jesus Christ when He died on the cross and by which His righteousness is reckoned to us through faith in what He has done for us. For He died on the cross for sinners like you and me, and He rose from the dead that we might have everlasting life. Will you abandon your own false spiritually now and cry out to God for the genuine spirituality that recognizes both the greatness of your own sin and the greatness of His grace in Christ as the answer for it?

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Answering Common Objections to Celebrating Christmas

In an article published last Friday, Matthew Everhard, Senior Pastor of Faith Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Brooksville, Florida, responded to a number of common objections to Christians celebrating Christmas. The article is entitled Is Christmas a Pagan Holiday? A Response to Eight Common Arguments, and here are the eight objections to which Matthew responds:
1. The etymology of both the words “Christmas” and “Easter” is problematic; Christmas contains the root “mass,” a false and abominable sacrifice of the Roman Catholic Church, and Easter is derived from the name of a pagan god, worshipped in ancient times.
2. Neither the practice of Christmas nor Easter are commanded in Scripture and therefore are not warranted by the Regulative Principle of Worship (See the Westminster Confession of Faith 21.1).
3. Both Christmas and Easter contain pagan symbolism; the former retains the use of the so-called “Christmas Tree” and Easter retains usage of the “egg” and other fertility-cult symbolism.
4. Both Christmas and Easter are often attended by ridiculous and childish customs i.e. Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, which detract from the worship of the Trinitarian God. Many churches that purport to be "evangelical" have even brought such nonsense into the very sanctuary and perverted the holy worship of God!
5. Both Christmas and Easter are practiced by the Roman Catholic Church which has so far distorted the Gospel as to be no Gospel at all and therefore their historical practices ought not to be carried forward by Protestants.
6. Both Christmas and Easter encourage consumerism and materialism and ought to be rejected upon the grounds of being a distraction from the Gospel.
7. Both Christmas and Easter are inconsistent with the practice of the English Puritan heritage from whence the American Presbyterian heritage derives.
8. Both Christmas and Easter are practiced during times of the solar year related to the solstice, at which times pagan festivals have been historically linked.
As you can see, the article also deals with similar objections to the celebration of Easter by Christians, and it is well worth reading. I think Matthew does a pretty good job responding to such arguments. Check out his responses for yourself, and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

My Journey, My Friends, and God’s Work in Colombia

As I wait for my flight back to the great state of Arkansas, I am filled with many emotions. I am here at the Bogota Airport, and I miss my family. I cannot wait to kiss and embrace my wife and swoop up my three boys into my arms. I can already see their smiles in my mind. But my anticipation is bittersweet. Though I have yet to depart, I am already missing my new friends here in this beautiful country. Let me tell you about them. Let me tell you about my journey. And let me tell you what great things God is doing here in Colombia, South America.

My Journey

My experience in Colombia begins with bouncy friends, bouncy music, and a bouncy car ride into the mountains.

I came to Colombia to teach Biblical Theology to a group of pastors. But the night before I left Arkansas, I realized that I was coming down with a cold – not a good feeling when your voice is a key instrument in teaching. So I began to pray and stock up with medicine and cough drops, for with a sore throat or not, the time of departure was upon me.

I arrived in Bogota at 9:30, but it was not until 11:00 p.m. that I exited the airport. Outside of the doors, four men greeted me. “Are you pastor Jeff?” they asked in a foreign accent. With a quick “yes,” strange names began to fly out of their mouths – names that I never heard before – “I am pastor Guillermo.” “I am pastor Jorge from Ecuador.” “I am pastor Eduardo; I will be your interpreter.” And “I am Mr. Eduardo.” They were friendly. They asked me about the details of my flight, offered me water, and grabbed up my bags as they showed me to the car.

But that is where the real bounciness began. The roads there are bumpy and curvy, as the mountains are large and steep, and the traffic is beyond chaotic. Pastor Guillermo is a skillful but aggressive driver – which I learned later is the only way you can drive in a city of 9 million people who are trying to get to the same place at the same time. There dividing lines on the road mean nothing. In fact, there don't seem to be any rules at all. Where there are two lanes, four lines of cars seek to drive abreast with motorcycles buzzing around anywhere they can squeeze in. Cars will suddenly pull out in front of you as if you are not even there, which causes knee jerking stops. It is a madhouse to say the least. Bogota reminds me of a disturbed ant-mound that has been kicked by a pesky kid – so many people group together that they are running all over each other. I have been to a lot of large cities – Los Angeles, New York, Paris, London, Rome, but no city I have ever been to can compare to the vast amount of people and vehicles that are squeezed into a single space.

So, imagine late at night that you’re in a car that is going up and down, from side to side, from top speed (as if you are in a drag race) to squelching stops. All of this on a bumpy and curvy road as the car is dodging other cars, large trucks and flying motorcycles. It did not take long before, along with my sore throat, I had motion sickness. And it did not take long before my new friends cranked up the Colombian music. The music is bouncy all right – like party music driven by an accordion. With the music rocking, my new friends began to sing, tap their feet, and move with the beat, which caused the car to rock back and forth, as we were already moving in all directions. So round and round we went.

“Two hours to our destination,” they informed me. With the news, I became hot and queasy. And it was only then that I became thankful that United Airlines no longer offered an in-flight meal. I understand that all things work together for good, and an empty stomach is preferable with motion sickness. So like a ball thrown into a blender, my journey in Colombia had begun.

Thankfully, without any unpleasant incident, we made it to the retreat center sometime around 1:00 a.m. There I was to lecture 21 times over the next four days. A Colombian meal was waiting on us and a little over 50 pastors, from all over Colombia, were already sleeping in their rooms and tents. After a good meal, I went to bed.

The next day, like the next four days, was full of food, juice, coffee, and teaching. I taught 6 times per day. My sore throat had not gotten any better, but I knew my church family in Conway, AR, was praying for me. The Lord was gracious. Not once did my voice hinder my teaching. But before I tell you about the teaching and seminary here in Colombia, let me tell you a little bit about this wonderful place.

Colombia is amazing. It is tropical and breathtaking. When I woke up, I could not believe the beauty that was all around me. Massive and irregular shaped mountains encircled the place, which caused me to understand why the roads were so crooked and steep. Flowers. Wow! Flowers of all kind were everywhere. Fruit was hanging on almost every tree. Everything was blooming, budding, and flourishing. There was fruit that I didn't even know existed. There were avocados the size of footballs. Truly, this is a land flowing with milk and honey. And birds. Wow! All kinds of birds were flying around and chirping. I woke up to a pleasant and relaxing melody of tropical birds singing to the glory of God. To top it all off, the weather was perfect. It is as if this is the place where God abides and personally sets the temperature – in the mid seventies, no humidity, and with a cool and gentle breeze keeping the air fresh. In fact, if I had to imagine the Garden of Eden, I would think it was similar, if not identical, to Chinauta, Colombia.   

My Friends

The beauty of the place was only the backdrop to the even more beautiful people. Colombians are a diverse people with a variety of skin tones. In many ways, Colombians are like Americans. They like to joke around, laugh, and play sports. But they are a little more affectionate and generous. They are a little more welcoming. Maybe it is the music, maybe it is the food and tropical climate, but whatever the case, they are an endearing people. Take these natural qualities and put Christ in them, then you have a group of people that you cannot help but quickly fall in love with. It is amazing how kindness and love can transcend any language bearer. They would reach into their pockets and give me candy, buy me ice-cream, and bring me coffee as if I was someone special. But this is how they treated each other as well. These men love each other as they love “Christo.” Being around such beautiful people makes me long for heaven where there will be people from every nation and people group of the world.

God’s Work in Colombia

My trip is almost over. Though I am headed home, I am taking much with me. I am leaving with a better understanding of the words of Christ, who said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” America is saturated with the gospel and various gospel ministries. We take our access to the gospel and Christian resources for granted. We have access to many resources, books, and churches. Colombia, on the other hand, is in great need of all these things. They are hungry. They are grasping on to almost anything. Those like myself who travel here to teach are readily heard, and every book that is translated into Spanish is quickly consumed. (This is why it is important to provide solid teaching.)

I am also leaving with a greater commitment to supporting indigenous ministers and ministries. We can spend thousands of dollars in supporting American missionaries, who often need as much money to live in a foreign country as they do in America. Most American missionaries last only four years on the field. But indigenous ministers are there to stay, and they don’t need money as much as they need training.

Because they are hungry for a basic education of the Bible, I am convinced that one of the best ways to support foreign missions is not by sending American missionaries (except for the unreached people groups of the world), but to provide Biblical training to the pastors already living in those foreign lands. Colombia, for instance, is vastly Catholic, about 70%, and the Evangelical influence is mostly charismatic. The prosperity gospel, sadly, is popular there as it is in America. They need solid resources and training to combat such influences. This is something that our churches can support. This is something that I am convinced is making a huge difference.

With this in mind, I am thankful for Reformed Baptist Seminary’s support of the Biblical training program that is overseen by Guillermo Gomez, pastor of Sovereign Grace Reformed Baptist Church in Bogota. This program is called “The Marrow of Theology.” Because of limited options and a great hunger for the truth, “The Marrow of Theology” program is attracting men from all over Colombia. Afterwards, they are slowly reforming their churches or planting solid Reformed Baptist churches throughout this country. In this one ministry, hundreds of ministers are being trained and sent out across Colombia. This is changing, and will continue to change, the landscape of South America.
In addition to my desire to support “The Marrow of Theology” program in Bogata, I plan to start a Spanish branch of Free Grace Press. Eduardo Fergusson, who translated my teaching and preaching this past week, has agreed to assist in the translation of our English books into Spanish. Jorge Rodriguez, from Ecuador, has agreed to oversee the printing and distributing of these books throughout South America. Because the books will be translated and printed in South America, the cost will be a fraction of the expense of books printed in America. 100, 200, or 300 dollars can make a major impact. What an investment for the sake of the kingdom.  

With all of this, I am going home with a new passion for international missions. I hope to communicate this passion with my church family and friends. I am excited about what God is doing in South America…so please join me in praying for these beautiful people in this beautiful region of the world.

Friday, December 12, 2014

"I Am the Very Model of a Biblical Philologist"

I just thought this was fun! But, then, I am a bit of a Biblical exegetical and background studies nerd. Here is a description of the video found on YouTube:
"A biblical- and ancient-Near-Eastern-studies–themed parody of 'I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General' from The Pirates of Penzance. Lyrics, musical arrangement, and vocals by Joshua Tyra, ⓒ 2011. Music by Sir Arthur Sullivan, original lyrics by William S. Gilbert."
I tried to see how many of the terms I actually knew, and, although I knew quite a few of them, I didn't do so well overall.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

James White on Rick Warren's Capitulation to Rome

As usual, Dr. White does a very good job challenging the heretical thinking and practice of one who ought to know better. In the three videos above he demonstrates how Rick warren has undermined the Gospel of Jesus Christ in his attempts to be untied with Roman Catholics. It is a sad thing that there is so little reason at this point to be surprised by Rick Warren's whitewashing of Roman Catholicism. He has increasingly demonstrated a bent toward doing such things, and he has once again led people way from, rather than toward, the truth of the Gospel. Thank you, Dr. White, for taking the time to address this issue in truth and love.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Jonathan Leeman Identifies "Twenty-Two Problems with Multi-site Churches"

I recently came across an interesting and thought-provoking article by Jonathan Leeman, the Editorial Director of 9Marks, entitled Twenty-Two Problems with Multi-site Churches. Here is the introduction to the article:
I love my gospel-loving friends in multi-site churches—both leaders and members! But as Christians we work continually to reform our churches in light of Scripture. So I trust a little push back on the multi-site structure serves everyone, assuming my concerns turn out to be valid. Below are 22 misgivings I have about the multi-site model. All of these apply to churches that use a video preacher. Over half apply to churches who employ a preacher on every campus.
Here are the first four problems listed by Leeman:
1. There’s no clear example of a multi-site church in the New Testament, only supposition. “Well, surely, the Christians in a city could not have all met…” (but see Acts 2:46; 5:12; 6:2). 
2. If a church is constituted by the preaching of the Word and the distribution of the ordinances under the binding authority of the keys, every “campus” where those activities transpire is actually a church. “Multi-site church” is a misnomer. It’s a collection of churches under one administration. 
3. For every additional multi-site campus out there, there’s one less preaching pastor being raised up for the next generation. 
4. What effectively unites the churches (campuses) of a multi-site church are a budget, a pastor’s charisma, and brand identity. Nowhere does the Bible speak of building church unity in budgets, charisma, and brand.
I recommend reading the rest of the article here. As always, your comments are welcome.