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Posts Tagged ‘Postmodernism

The Seeker Church Lectionary

Its’ February so you know what that means from the seeker/relevant/postmodern churches don’t you?  It means that the lectionary points them to preach goofy sermon series’ on sex and marriage.  Don’t get me wrong, we should address these issues when the Bible does address them.  If you preach verse-by-verse through the Bible, you will no doubt have to deal with the issues of sex and marriage often.  The Bible is full of stories about these issues and much in the New Testament deals with this as disciples of Jesus.  Yet the seeker churches always will be found preaching on these subjects during this month because of Valentine’s day (and to draw a crowd which is the bottom line).

One need not think too hard to figure out the seeker church lectionary.  Typically the lectionary will point to the Christian calendar and will have the Bible teacher teach lessons around the season.  If we are nearing Resurrection Sunday, the lectionary would have you preach on the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.  If we are nearing Christmas, the lectionary would have you preach on the incarnation of God.  The lectionary was created to keep the focus on the Bible.  While I don’t use a lectionary, I appreciate seeking to keep the church focused on biblical truths throughout the year.  The seeker lectionary, however, doesn’t revolve around the Bible nor the Christian calendar.  It revolves around the culture and around the cultural calendar.  I will grant that the American culture calendar does revolve around many Christian holidays but the seeker lectionary revolves around the culture and especially the worldly-minded culture (notice the John Bunyan reference).  I’m not sure who sets the seeker lectionary anymore.  In the 1990’s it was Willow Creek and Bill Hybels.  In the early 2000’s it was Rick Warren and Purpose-driven Church.  In the mid 2000’s it turned toward the emergent movement but has seen swayed from them (thank the Lord as the emergents are now full-blown liberals and out of the “evangelical” camp).  I would say, if I had to guess, that Andy Stanley plays a big role in the lectionary but he is not the only one.

In our town I have noticed that the seeker churches are preaching on sex this month but using the wicked “Fifty shades of grey” movie to help.  Again, notice that the Bible does not take focus here.  The focus in not the text of Scripture.  The focus is always on the shock value of sex.  Sex sells in our wicked culture.  It’s one of the top reasons that I don’t own nor watch TV.  Sex fills our culture.  If you want to draw a worldly crowd preach on what they want most: sex, money, and pleasure.  The idols of sex and sports are the two biggest I know of among men.  The men at my work live and breathe for sex and sports.  Their lives revolve around those two issues.  Pleasure is in there as well with all their “toys” such as motorcycles and other things (1 Timothy 6:9-10).

What is the faithful disciple to do?  How do we react to the seeker lectionary or our culture?

First, be faithful to God.  Don’t bother trying to make friends with the world (James 4:4).  Don’t bother trying to appease the world.  It will never happen.  If you truly follow Jesus, if you truly preach repentance, if you truly love Jesus above all others and all things, the world will despise you (John 15:18-25; 1 Peter 4:12-19; 1 John 2:15-17).  The world will never love the disciple of Jesus nor the disciple of Jesus loving the world.  The two are at war with each other (Ephesians 6:12).

Secondly, be faithful to preach the Word of God.  Leonard Ravenhill use to tell the young men who came to him for advice on preaching to read 1 and 2 Timothy each month.  Ravenhill believed that we must heed the words of Paul the Apostle in 1 and 2 Timothy in this sinful world that we find ourselves preaching in and to.  I recommend expository teaching.  Expository preaching avoids goofy sermon series’ and is faithful to teach the text.  The focus in expository preaching is on the Word of God and its full authority.  Expository preaching takes very seriously the words of the Lord Jesus in Matthew 28:20 and the words of Paul in 2 Timothy 4:2.  I recommend reading this book on expository preaching.

Thirdly, address the issues of sex, money, greed, power, etc. as the text dictates and not the culture.  Don’t allow the culture to determine your Bible teaching.  Remember our focus must be on exalting Christ and His kingdom.  We are here to preach Him (2 Corinthians 4:5).  We are to make disciples of Jesus (Matthew 28:19) and our focus is on that one issue.  We are called to be faithful to the One who saved us.  The culture should not drive our Bible teaching.  The text of Scripture should.  If the topics come up in your text, deal with them.  If they don’t, deal with what you have at hand.  Be text driven by the words given to us by the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16) and not by the culture.

Lastly, the bottom line for me is faithfulness to the King.  Jesus said that He would judge us based on faithfulness or unfaithfulness (Matthew 25:29-30).  Paul told Timothy to appoint faithful men (2 Timothy 2:2).  Faithfulness is the key.  God is not looking for talented men.  He is not looking for culturally relevant men.  He is looking for faithful men to proclaim His Word.  I want to be found faithful.  I don’t care if the world finds me odd.  I don’t care if people make fun of me for preaching on the streets or for calling people to repent.  I don’t care if people bash me for standing in front of abortion clinics to call the women to repentance.  I don’t care if the world ignores me.  I want to be faithful the King.  He is the One who saves sinners in the first place (John 1:12-13; 6:44).  My job is to lift Him up (John 12:32)!

May the Lord help us to be found faithful.

The False Notion That All Religions Worship the Same God

I heard a song this morning while working that claimed in it that all religions essentially worship the same God.  The song was calling for religions then to be peaceful toward each other since we all are seeking to worship the same God.  The song, along with modern culture, is oblivious to theology or they would not write nor utter such non-sense about God.  Anyone can study the various religions and see that they don’t all worship the same God.  Just consider Islam and Christianity for example.  Both of these are the two largest religions in the world.  Both claim to worship the one true and living God.  Both believe the other is wrong with the exception of a few liberals among them.  Now let us put this to the test.

  • The God of Christianity is triune in the person of God.  The false god of Islam is completely one (absolute monotheism).
  • Jesus is the Son of God in Christianity, co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and the Spirit.  Jesus is the Messiah in Islam but just a man.  Allah does not begot.
  • Yahweh has revealed Himself as a loving, good, merciful, compassionate, and graceful God who saves those who have faith in His Son.  Allah is said to be merciful and compassionate but there is no concept of grace in Islam because there is no understanding of personal sinfulness in Islam.
  • Yahweh transforms His people from the inside out through the work of the Holy Spirit.  Allah demands outward performance to worship him.
  • Christianity claims the Bible is the inerrant and infallible Word of God.  Islam claims the Quran is the inerrant and infallible Word of God.

So after that very brief survey of Christianity and Islam, only a foolish person would read that and then assume that these two religions worship the same God.  Jesus said that He was the only way to God (John 14:6) and Paul the Apostle said that there is only one mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5-6).  Islam would deny both claims.  Christianity claims from Revelation 20:15; 21:27 that only those who have their names written in the Lamb’s book of life will be in heaven.  The rest will be destroyed in an eternal hell (Matthew 25:46; 2 Thessalonians 1:9).  Islam teaches, for the most part, that only faithful Muslims will enter into heaven.

For the disciple of Jesus, we have known this.  We know just from talking to people that no two religions are the same.  I have found that even people who claim to be Christians, who claim to be evangelicals, that they often worship a god of their own imagination.  The great Puritan Stephen Charnock called most people “practical atheists.”  Charnock noted that people often did not deny the existence of God with their lips or minds but with their lives (Titus 1:16).  Charnock wrote,

“This secret atheism is the spirit of all sin.  Every sinful motion practically throws off God’s law and sovereignty, declaring Him unworthy of His being.  If it were allowed to be carried to its logical end, every sin of mankind would impugn, dethrone, and annihilate God, while setting up the sinner as a wiser authority.”

All sinners, whether they claim Jesus or not, operate as practical atheists when they refuse to worship and submit to the Lordship of Almighty God.  You and I likewise are acting as practical atheists when we sin against God and refuse to obey Jesus as Lord (Luke 6:46-49).  As Charnock goes on to note, we all want to be our own gods.  This was the sin of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:5) and is still true today of us all who rebel against God and His Word.

May the Church rise up to answer the false notions of modern culture.  Only Jesus saves and all who die without Him are doomed (John 3:18; 5:24-25).  The Church must preach the truth of Jesus to the world (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15) and the world must hear the gospel to be saved (Romans 10:14-17).  We must preach the truth of the gospel to all including the false religions such as Islam or Buddhism or any others.  The world must repent or face the holy wrath of God (Acts 17:30-31; Romans 1:16-18).  May we disciples of Jesus be active in preaching the gospel to the lost by the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

10/12/2013 at 4:15 PM

Standing Firm in the Midst of Cultural Shifts

Recently I purchased a book that I have been reading called, The Greco-Roman World of the New Testament Era.  Sounds good doesn’t it?  It actually was a good book.  The author, James Jeffers, does a good job at avoiding being too technical in his approach as he knows that most of his readers are not historians and don’t know much at all about the culture of the New Testament era.  After all, we are removed by 2000 years of history, 2000 years of technology, and 2000 years of changing values, languages, and people in general.  It was interesting to read how the people during the time of Christ and the early Church lived from day-to-day and what concerned them.  What was life like for the average person living in the Roman Empire?  What were the political issues of the day?  How did they practice their religions and what did they do for fun?  Jeffers answers all this and more.  Good book.

The reason that I wanted to read the book was to get a look into the times of Jesus and to also look at how the early Church were able to take the gospel into a pagan culture that knew nothing of Christ or Christianity.  The early disciples of Jesus were viewed as “atheists” because they had no idols and no images of their god.  The Romans assumed that the Christians did not believe in the gods at all when in fact the disciples did believe in God but in one God and one God alone.  How did the disciples engage a culture that was accepting of so many sins such as idolatry, adultery, homosexuality, and many other sins?  And what kind of culture was in the Roman Empire at the time of the early Church in the first place?

The reality is that the world that the disciples first proclaimed the gospel in is much like ours today.  Paganism abounded.  Materialism abounded.  The separation of the classes was clearly marked between the rich and the slaves who served the rich.  Violence was found mainly in-between the roads that connected the cities though port cities did abound with sin.  Drunkenness and even drug use were common.  Politicians claimed to serve the people but behind closed doors, they served themselves.  Christians were viewed with disdain and were viewed as ignorant.  During the end of the first century, when the Roman games wanted blood flowing from humans in the arenas instead of animals, the Romans turned toward the Christians who resisted violence and were easy targets for their “atheism” beliefs.  Thousands of disciples of Jesus were taken into the arenas but the crowds grew bored with them because the disciples never fought back and quickly died.  The solution?  Learn to kill them in various ways such as crucifixion before the people, cutting them open with swords, burning them alive, and of course, turning lions loose on them.  The Christians were viewed as slow, weak, and ignorant.

Sounds like today.

And yet the disciples of Jesus continued to grow?  Why?  Because they cherished and preached the gospel.  Jesus was their passion and delight in the midst of a culture that was against their Christ.  The world around them hated them, despised their teachings, and laughed at their claim of Jesus rising from the dead but they stood firm.  They did not compromise the gospel.  They held to their beliefs even if others around them mocked them and ridiculed them.  They looked to Jesus who persevered to the cross for their sins (Hebrews 12:1-2).  They loved one another deeply and showed the world that they could provide for each other when the world wanted them to just die (John 13:34-35; Acts 4:32-35; 1 Timothy 5:3-18).  They believed the words of Jesus that He was preparing a better place for them (John 14:1-6) and that God was not ashamed to call them brothers (Hebrews 2:11).  John’s vision in Revelation 21-22 of a new heaven and a new earth came, you remember, during a time of great persecution against the Church.  His vision would have been like cold water in the midst of a drought to the thirsty soul.

We are seeing a change in our culture it seems almost daily.  We Christians are ridiculed for our faith and mocked.  People wish we would just die.  I am convinced that many would love to see a reality show such as pictured on The Hunger Games where they could watch Christians killed.  Our values of pro-life, pro-family, pro-God, and morality are seen as old-fashioned, out of touch with the age, and not in line with the society.  The only free speech granted today is the right to agree but not disagree with what culture has concluded is right or wrong and it seems nothing is wrong today (Judges 21:25).  The picture of humanity I see is found in Romans 1:18-32 (NIV):

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

Does that not describe our world today and it was Paul’s culture when he wrote Romans in the first century.  Our sinfulness has not changed since the fall of Man in Genesis 3.  We are still sinning and still looking for more and more ways to sin.  Peter wrote about the way the world attacks the disciple: “With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give an account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead” (1 Peter 4:4-5).

What should our response then be to this pagan culture?  The answer, I believe, is found in the Word of God.  In Titus 3:1-7 we read,

1 Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2  to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. 3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Notice how Paul instructs Titus to teach the people of God about living in a pagan culture.  He says that we are to be different from them in every way.  This idea in the seeker church that we must be like the world to draw them in so that they hear us is foreign to the New Testament.  The Church is to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20) and not have them first join the Church.  New disciples are baptized into Christ and then they become part of the Church (1 Corinthians 12:13).  Paul says in Titus 3:1-7 that the way to respond to those who attack us, who malign us, who hate us is to live out the gospel.  In Titus 3:3 he points out that we too were once just as sinful as the world is.  We too were ignorant of God’s truth until He opened our eyes and He saved us by His grace (vv. 5-7).  The gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16-17) and we need only to live out the gospel in all that we say or do (Ephesians 5:1-2) and allow the Holy Spirit to help us preach the gospel to the lost (Acts 1:8) and He will save sinners by His grace (Ephesians 2:8-9).  Sinners will come to Jesus if we will just preach Him (John 6:44; 12:32).

I have much more to write about this subject and will do so in the future.  Our society continues to move toward “moderate” views regarding many issues including homosexuality, same-sex marriage, drugs, adultery, lying, etc.  The Christian should learn from our faithful brethren in the past and realize that the answer is not found in politicians but in the gospel.  The gospel is our hope.  The gospel is our strength.  The gospel is our passion.  The gospel is our reward.  In time, it is the person of Jesus who rescue us from this sin and paganism that is around us.  We need to persevere in Him (James 1:2-4).

Peter the Apostle wrote in 1 Peter 4:12-19

12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And

“If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

03/30/2012 at 3:36 PM

A Primer on Postmodernism

Here is a link to Phil Johnson of Pyromaniacs and his teaching on postmodernism.  I found his teaching very helpful to understand where we are today as a culture and how the Church should respond.  Contrary to the emergent, seeker movement, we should respond by preaching not with postmodernism but with the truth of the gospel.

The truth of the gospel will always triumph!  Romans 1:16-17.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

03/13/2012 at 7:33 PM

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