Arminian Today

A Jesus-Centered Arminian Blog

Posts Tagged ‘The Word of God

Needed: Biblical Discernment

Proverbs 2:3-5 (NKJV) reads:

3 Yes, if you cry out for discernment,
And lift up your voice for understanding,
4 If you seek her as silver,
And search for her as for hidden treasures;
5 Then you will understand the fear of the Lord,
And find the knowledge of God.

I am convinced that we need a revival of biblical discernment.  How often do I hear sermons, songs, books, movies, etc. that claim to be Christian but lack any sound doctrine?  Sound doctrine is neglected as pragmatism now reigns over the churches.  We truly need a revival of discernment.

We need to question everything and hold fast to that which is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21).  How do we learn to discern?  Discernment comes by heeding the Word of God.  We must learn to hide the Word in our hearts so that we have the sword of the spirit to cut through false teachings (Hebrews 4:12).  This comes by faithful reading and studying of the Word of God (Hebrews 5:11-14).  As we hide the Word in our hearts, the Lord gives us the ability to discern based on His truth (John 17:17).

Proverbs 2:3 above states that we are to cry out for discernment and lift our voice for understanding.  John MacArthur writes:

This shows the passionate pleading of one who is desperate to know and apply the truth of God.  The least bit of indifference will leave one bereft of the fullness of wisdom.

I often pray for God to give me discernment according to His Word.  I want to judge all things by the truthfulness of the Word of God (1 John 4:1-2).  God’s Word is perfectly sufficient to provide all we need in hearing from God and learning discernment.  We don’t need the Bible plus an inner voice or plus hearing “the voice of God” by subjective means.  We need to open the Bible, learn the Bible, and through the Bible we get discernment to judge all things.

If this were to take place in the Church of Jesus Christ at large can you imagine what would take place?  “Christian music” would turn from shallow, narcissistic lyrics to sound doctrine.  Sermons also would turn from shallow stories, poor eisgesis, toward sound doctrine with unction.  Evangelism would be focused on the gospel and preaching the truth of the gospel instead of trying to make friends with the world.  The church would turn from its entertainment drive toward truth proclaiming.  Pragmatism would be replaced with sound doctrine and biblical discernment of Bible teachers.  False teachers would be turned away as the Church embraced the sufficient of the Word of God and learned how to rightfully divide the Word of God (2 Timothy 2:15).

All the things the church is now known for from the love of money to the willingness to accept false teachers who fleece the saints to using worldly entertainment to feed the goats, this would all clear up if biblical discernment were sought after diligently.

Where do we begin?  First, we must pray for discernment (Proverbs 2:3).

Secondly, we must seek discernment from the hidden treasures of God’s Word.  This will in turn lead to a holy fear of the Lord and we will find the knowledge of God.

I want both the fear of the Lord in my life as well as the knowledge of the Lord.  I want to know Him more and more (Philippians 3:7-10).  I know that only in Christ “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3).  I want to know the Word of God not just to point out false teachings but for the good.  I want to hear from God (John 8:47) and I know that I hear from God when I read and study His Word.  His Word is the voice of God (Hebrews 1:1-3; cf. 2 Timothy 3:16-17).  I need no other voice.

Lord give me discernment.

Evangelism & Personal Testimonies

There is no denying that a personal testimony of salvation in Christ Jesus is powerful.  Three times in the book of Acts we read of the powerful conversion of Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9:1-22; 22:1-21; 26:1-23).  Revelation 12:11 (NKJV) reads: “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.”

So a testimony can be powerful.  I have listened to many people share how they came to faith in Christ.  It always blesses me to see the hand of God leading these sinners to faith in Christ.  It amazes me that people come to faith in Christ in so many different ways (by that I don’t mean different in the sense of the gospel but from many sins and many different places in life).  The Lord continues to save lost sinners from rich people to poor people from people here in the United States to people in China, the gospel is moving!  I rejoice in sinners being saved!

However, I do want to warn us that we must guard against the temptation to make evangelism all about our testimony.  Evangelism must include the gospel and the gospel is found in the Word of God.  The Word of God is the supernatural means by which God converts sinners.  The Word of God cuts sinners (Hebrews 4:12-13) and the Word of God brings about faith (Romans 10:17).  The Holy Spirit takes the Word of God and He opens the sinners heart to the gospel (Acts 16:14-15).  As the gospel is preached from the Word of God, the Lord, by His grace, opens sinners hearts and frees the bound will of the sinner so that the sinner can either repent or reject the gospel (John 1:12-13).  The sinner who repents is saved by grace through faith by the power of the Holy Spirit working through the Word of God (1 Peter 1:20-25).  The Lord calls sinners to Himself through the preaching of the gospel (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14).  The gospel found in the Word of God is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16) and God saves those who believe the gospel that is preached (1 Corinthians 1:21).  This salvation is His work (1 Corinthians 1:30-31) that God may be glorified!

We must then preach the Word (2 Timothy 4:2).  A testimony should never replace the Word of God.  The reason why is simple.  A sinner can hear a testimony from a Christian, a Buddhist, a Jehovah’s Witness, a Catholic, a Muslim, etc. and each of them can describe how they were “saved.”  They will each talk of the virtue of their religion and how faith in their religion will bring peace, forgiveness, wholeness, healing, peace, etc.  And the sinner is wondering, “They all have powerful testimonies of their religion but who is right and yet who is to say that the others are wrong?”  The Christian, without the Word of God, has nothing to stand on but their subjective experience and each of us has a different experience with life.

The foundation then for the disciple preaching the gospel must not be our testimony.  It must the truthfulness of God’s Word.  The Bible alone is the truth of God (John 17:17).  The problem with the testimony of the above religions (or even atheists for that matter) is that they must borrow from the Bible to make sense of their own experiences.  The foundation for the disciple is the inerrant and infallible Word of God.  It is not our testimony.  Apart from the Bible, the disciple is nothing but a subjective story among others.  With the Bible, the disciple is full of the truth of God and the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17).  We must be faithful to quote and preach the Word of God to sinners.  When sharing the gospel with a sinner, don’t just share your personal testimony (that is okay by the way) but make sure you quote the Word of God over and over again to show that your testimony is based not on your subjective view of reality but upon the Word of God.  I even encourage you to begin witnessing to sinners with the Word of God before sharing your testimony.  Forgiveness of sins, peace with God, repentance, justification, sanctification, etc. are all based not on our testimonies but upon the Word of God.

Again, I rejoice that people are being saved by grace.  I rejoice that sinners are turning from sin to the Lord Jesus and finding that He is indeed a wonderful Savior but I warn us all to preach the Word of God.  Sinners must hear the gospel to be saved (Romans 10:14-17) and we must preach the Word of God faithfully as God has called us to (Matthew 28:19-20).  The Word of God is the seed to salvation (Matthew 13:18-23).  I pray that our gospel would be full of the Word of God.

Biblical Authority and Evangelism

A biblical study of evangelism will force the student to walk away believing two mains truths that are taught in the Bible.  First, salvation belongs to the Lord.  He is the only one who can save fallen humanity.  Unless God acts, none could or would be saved.  Despite man’s sin in Genesis 3, it was God who promised to send someone to crush the head of the serpent (Genesis 3:15).  This is often called the first gospel.  It is clear from Genesis to the New Testament that God is about establishing a Redeemer from His chosen people, Israel.  Jesus is that chosen one (Acts 10:38).  Jesus is the promised one of Isaiah 7:14; 9:6-7; 11:1; 53.  Jesus is the one that has come to redeem us from the curse of sin (Matthew 1:21).  He has also come to destroy the works of Satan (1 John 3:8).  Yet it is the Lord who acts to save.  Our utter sinfulness is clear but thankfully God intervenes by His grace (Ephesians 2:4).

The second truth the student of the Bible encounters is that salvation is contingent upon believing in the Lord Jesus.  This requires faith in the Lord Jesus (John 3:16-18; 5:24; 20:31) and this comes by hearing of Jesus through the gospel that is preached (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47; John 20:21; Acts 1:8; Romans 10:14-17; 2 Corinthians 5:18-21).  Faith comes only by hearing the true gospel.  Faith is a supernatural work of the Spirit and the Holy Spirit works through the preaching of the supernatural revelation that He has given us in the Bible.

This means that the Bible is the unique authority for the Church to use when evangelizing the lost.  Jesus compared the Word preached to seed in Mark 4:14.  In Mark 4:26-29 Jesus compares the fruit of the seed to how a farmer sows seed and then the harvest comes.  It is clear that the farmer cannot produce the harvest but he merely does his job and the seed brings forth the harvest.  Same is true of the Church.  Our job is to go out and preach the gospel and the Lord causes the growth (1 Corinthians 3:5-9).  Paul wrote in Colossians 2:19 that God is the one who causes His body to grow.  In Acts 2:47 that the Lord added to their number (the church) those who were being saved.  The duty of the Church is simple: preach the gospel to the people.  The Lord’s work is to take the gospel and He saves sinners.

The beauty of this is the sinful, fallen men and women are saved by grace and they in turn take the gospel to others who need the truth of God.  As people hear the gospel, they also behold the complete transformation that the gospel brings (2 Corinthians 5:17).  The entire person is effected by the gospel.  The Bible calls this many terms such as being “born again” (John 3:3), the “new birth” (Titus 3:5-7), “justified” (Romans 5:1), “adoption” (Romans 8:15).  Yet the point is that the entire person is transformed by salvation through Christ Jesus.  The new person is to take the gospel that transformed them to the lost (2 Corinthians 5:11-15).

And how can we see radical transformation of others?  By the preaching of the gospel from the Word of God.  The Bible is our authority to preach that Jesus saves from sin.  The Bible is our authority to tell others that they can be rescued from the dominion of darkness and brought into the kingdom of the Son (Colossians 1:13).  We can preach that Jesus will forgive us of our sins (Colossians 1:14) and that Jesus is the only way to the Father (John 14:6; 1 Timothy 2:5-6).  We can preach that Jesus is able to turn away the wrath of God through faith in His holy name (Romans 5:8-9).  We are able to preach that we have eternal life through faith in the Lord Jesus (1 John 5:13).  We are able to preach that Jesus hears our prayers and He answers them by His own will (Matthew 7:7-11; John 14:13-14; 1 John 5:14-15).  We are able to preach that God has demonstrated His own love toward us in His Son (Romans 5:1-11).  We are able to preach that works do not save but God saves us by His grace (Ephesians 2:8-9).

When sharing the gospel with the lost, fill your witnessing with the Word of God.  It doesn’t matter if you are talking with an atheist, a cultists, a false convert, a religious person, etc.  The Word of God is able to convict and transform the sinner (Hebrews 4:12-13).  2 Timothy 3:16 is often quoted for disciples of Jesus to know that our Bible is given to us by the inspiration of the Spirit but we need to see that the Bible is also given to us for specific purposes.  Notice the text in the NIV:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.

Notice the purposes for the God-breathed Word: teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.  We do all this when we preach the gospel to the lost.  That is why we must use the Bible during evangelism.  We must warn sinners about the wrath to come (Matthew 3:7-8).  We must warn them of the judgment they will face when they die (Hebrews 9:27).  We must warn them of sin (Romans 6:23).  We must call them to repentance (Luke 13:5; 24:47; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 17:30-31).  We must point out the goodness of God to bring them to repentance (Romans 2:4).  We must call them to faith in the Lord Jesus (John 6:37).

So instead of giving people your testimony, your feelings, your thoughts, etc., give them the Word of God.  The Word of God will do its work just as Jesus promised in Mark 4:27-28.  Isaiah 55:11 is a precious promise to those of us preaching the gospel to the lost.  Let us trust in the power of God to bring forth fruit from our evangelism in His own time.

Let us also pray for the harvest (Matthew 9:37-38).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

05/22/2014 at 2:22 PM

Final Thoughts on Strange Fire Book Review

My review of John MacArthur’s Strange Fire has been a long process.  For that I do apologize.  I actually read the book in January and started my review then.  However, because of my work schedule and family duties, etc., I have had to post here and there on the book.  I pray that you did learn something from the review as I tried to be fair with the book and the content.  You can find the first post on this series here.

The book has an appendix in which MacArthur quotes from various Church Fathers and leaders through the centuries about the nature of spiritual gifts.  His point is to prove that many church leaders including men like Augustine, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, and Charles Spurgeon all held to modern cessationists views.  Of course, modern charismatic theologians will often respond in two ways.  One is to say that even such views were held, this does make them right or wrong simply because they held those views.  The bottom line for authority is not Augustine or Gill but the Bible.  I know that MacArthur would agree.  Secondly, some charismatics would argue that the Pentecostal revival brought back an emphasis on the ministry of the Holy Spirit that had been buried by tradition and unbelief.  Others, like Dr. Jack Deere, would argue that it is just unbelief and a presupposition argument against miracles that leads to such views.  You can find Deere’s views in his book Surprised by the Power of the Spirit.  

In conclusion to my review, let me state that I do believe that charismatics would benefit from reading MacArthur’s book.  I said the same when he released Charismatic Chaos back in the early 1990’s.  I read Charismatic Chaos three times!  I agreed with much of what he wrote back then and still do today.  I think most charismatics (and I do not align myself with this camp) would agree with much of what MacArthur points to in his books.  The errors of the prosperity gospel, the errors of the healing movements, the sinfulness of some charismatic leaders, etc., are all things that we should all oppose.

Nonetheless, MacArthur painted with a big brush.  He grouped together men such as Dr. George Wood with men such as Todd Bentley.  He grouped together even Reformed charismatics like Wayne Grudem with the likes of a Rick Joyner.  He blasted all charismatics as blaspheming the Holy Spirit while ignoring the good that is done in the name of Jesus by groups such as the Assemblies of God, Church of God (Cleveland, TN), or the Foursquare Gospel Church.  What about ministries such as Teen Challenge that was started by a Pentecostal (David Wilkerson) and is still maintained by Pentecostals?  Teen Challenge remains the top ministry for those addicted to drugs and alcohol.  I personally have visited Teen Challenges and seen the good that they do.

Two prominent seminaries, the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary (AGTS) and the Church of God Theological Seminary (now called the Pentecostal Theological Seminary) are both schools that seek to glorify Christ and exalt the Word of God.  AGTS teaches its students that expository preaching should be the norm for biblical preaching and teaching.  These are both seminaries with theologically trained teachers.  These are not fanatics are they?  Should we lump AGTS alongside Bill Johnson and Bethel Church?

However, the main issue is what does the Bible teach.  It is easy to lump people together in groups and say that they are all the same.  Both Arminians and Calvinists and have done this for years.  Yet people are still people.  Some charismatics are out there.  Most are not.  There are false teachers among Pentecostals.  There are also false teachers among the Presbyterians as well.  People have fallen into sin in the Pentecostal movement.  The same is true of people in all other circles as well.  None of us escape the temptations of the flesh.  But we must seek to be biblical.  The Bible must be our guide.  Not one teacher or group.  The Bible is where we must fall or stand.  I am grateful that I personally know godly Pentecostals who love the Bible and preach the Bible.  They would be appalled if someone said that they were basing their faith on their emotions and not the Word of God (2 Peter 1:19).

I pray that God would use MacArthur to call all of us back to the Bible.  The Bible and not MacArthur or a study Bible or a denomination must be our foundation (Matthew 7:24-27).  We must be people who love the Word of God and delight in His commandments (Psalm 119:131).  We must be like the Bereans and search the Word of God for truth (Acts 17:11).  We must not be foolish and fall prey to false teachings (1 John 4:1-2) but we must embrace and love the truth of God (Psalm 119:173).  This is my earnest prayer, that God would help us all to love the Word and follow Him with all our hearts.

Watch Out For Antichrist or Antichrists?

Note: The purpose of this post is not to debate the issue related to whether there will be a future leader named by many as “the Antichrist.”  I know many godly people believe this to be true.  I respect their view while I do not hold to that view.  The purpose here is not to elaborate upon the debate over the antichrist as a person.  I am simply wanting to make a point that deception is current.

The word “antichrist” appears only in 1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3 and 2 John 7.  In fact, the antichrist is not even called “the antichrist.”  Notice 1 John 2:18:

Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.

Notice that John doesn’t say, “the Antichrist” but antichrist.  It lacks the definite article to be translated “the antichrist.”  1 John 4:3 goes even further about antichrist:

And every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.

Notice that John says that antichrist is already in the world!  That is 2000 years ago and John says that antichrist is now in the world.

2 John 7 tells us who the antichrist is:

For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.

These antichrists then were people who were heretics.  They were false teachers (1 John 2:19).  They claimed to be preaching the apostle’s doctrine (Acts 2:42) but they did not abide in their teachings (2 John 9-11).  They forsook the faithful teachings of the apostles (Jude 3-4).

Many in our day want us to be careful to avoid “the Antichrist” but I believe we should avoid antichrists.  The world, since the dawn of the Church, has been full of false teachers.  Jesus warned His disciples in Matthew 24:4-5 that many would come in His name.  His warning is not for a far off generation but those to whom He was speaking to (Matthew 24:34).  Even among His own apostles, Jesus was warning them to know that false teachers and false christs would come (antichrists).  These antichrists would come in the power of Satan to deceive many (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).

I pray that our heart would be careful to search all things.  No teacher is above error.  I enjoy listening to various Bible teachers and reading their works but we must test all things by the Word of God.  Scripture must be the final authority for it alone is the inerrant and infallible truth of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  The Word of God is the truth of God (Psalm 119:160; John 17:17).  Jesus told us to abide in His Word (John 8:31-32) and His Word keeps us saved (James 1:21).  The Word of God protects us from doctrinal error (1 Timothy 4:16) and from sin (Psalm 119:11).  The Word of God cuts us and exposes us before God (Hebrews 4:12-13).  The Word of God convicts us of sin and reveals to us the path of righteousness.  How vital for us to love the Word of God and to abide in its truth!

As we abide in the Word, the Word keeps us focused on the Lord Jesus.  We hear His voice (John 10:27).  Scripture is the voice of God.  The Bible should be how we question all things.  I don’t care if the teaching comes from your favorite trusted theologian.  Turn to the Word of God to test their teachings.  Don’t accept blindly what a teacher tells you.  Turn to the Word of God to make sure they are faithful to the Word of God.  Don’t be deceived by a teacher who quotes a lot of Bible verses without also opening the Word of God to make sure what the teacher is saying is faithful to the Word of God.  Acts 17:11 tells us that the Bereans examined Paul’s teachings by Scripture to make sure what he was saying was true.  The Bible calls them “noble-minded” for this.

Instead of looking for “the Antichrist,” we should be looking for antichrists.  Paul warned the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:29-30 that wolves would arise from among them to deceive the church.  These antichrists among us are whom we should be careful to avoid.

My advice: abide in the Word.  This is the only sure guard to keep us from falling.  We can know truth from error by learning and hiding the Word of God in our hearts (1 Peter 3:15-16).  The Word of God alone is able to protect us from antichrists and I am thankful to God for His holy Word.

The Word of God Comforts Me

I have been gaining comfort from the Word of God.  It has been my source of great strength and comfort since my mama passed into eternity on August 7.  The places that have been the greatest comfort have been Psalm 116.  John 11.  Romans 8.  1 Corinthians 15.  1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.  Revelation 21-22.

Isn’t it amazing how the Lord uses the Scriptures to comfort us when we face trials or when we mourn.  Just today the Holy Spirit brought to my memory that wonderful truth in Matthew 5:4, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”  I needed that word from God.  I needed to know that He still comforts us when we mourn.  He is near to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18) and the Scriptures even say that He heals the brokenhearted (Psalm 147:3).  Isaiah 61:1 says that part of the ministry of the Messiah would be to bind up the brokenhearted.  I need Jesus now to do that for me.  Thankfully, His Word is true (John 17:17) and He will comfort me (2 Corinthians 1:3-5).  

My eyes are on Him!

Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/12/2012 at 4:58 PM

%d bloggers like this: