What would you say to Mark Sanford?

…. If you had the opportunity to witness to him?

Would you say, “Ah, he’s just a carnal Christian, I don’t need to witness to him” , or something like, “He is just a backslider, that is no reason to question his salvation”.

The article on Wikipedia related to Sanford states that the affair lasted over a year and his wife knew for around 5 months. Sanford was caught “in the act” so to speak, and in his press conference, he admitted that he was wrong for cheating on his wife.

This raises some interesting questions, many the same as I raised about Ted Haggard awhile back. Sanford was caught red handed in the act of cheating on his wife- do you think the affair would have continued if no one knew? Sanford also said that he knew it was wrong to cheat on his wife, yet he continued to do it. Why would someone willfully do something over and over if they believe that action to be wrong?

Mark Sanford

Mark Sanford

The affair was also definitely premeditated. What does that say about you if you plan out your sin, and have no problem with executing it? Sanford was definitely sorry about the affair, but was he sorry he sinned against his God and his wife, or just sorry he got caught? It sounds like he was sorry AFTER it came out in the media. That is not Christian repentance.

I am not Mark Sanford’s judge, and I cannot say where he will go when he dies, but I can tell you what the Bible says about situations like this. The scriptures tell us that as a man thinks in his heart, so is he (Prov 23:7). It also tells us that you will know a person by their fruit  (Matthew 7:16). What I CAN say is that something is wrong. I am concerned. Christians should depart from sin, not plan it out and run to it.

I can also tell you that true repentance is reflected in our war with sin, our hatred of it. Christians still stumble, but thats the point, they STUMBLE, and what it looks like Sanford was doing was diving.

Would you even question Mark Sanford’s confession of faith? What would you say if you had the change to talk face to face with him?

–Danny

Published in: on June 26, 2009 at 7:54 am  Comments (4)  

Am I hyper-Calvinist, or just hyper?

Talk about hyper!I was recently told that my articles showed a leaning toward hyper-Calvinism, so I grew a little concerned until my wife pointed out that A:) I am hyper, and B:) I am Calvinist.  But in all seriousness, I had looked into this term a loooong time ago, but I could not remember what the specifics were.

The first thing I needed to do is find out what the hyper-Calvinism doctrine teaches. I do remember that it did not have an good connotation to go along with it.  I also know that definitions can range widely, so you might find that people who are labeled as hyper-Calvinists, might just be  nothing more than a passionate Calvinist.

I am not a theologian, so I need to find someone I know who has the resources and background that I could trust.  I started with Googling the term and found a great article from Tim Challies on this subject. That was a pretty good find, but Tim said in his post that Phil Johnson did some extensive work on this subject.

Phil Johnson runs the blog over at teampyro.blogspot.com and is the Executive Director at Grace to You and the main editor for John MacArthur. So between Phil’s article here and Tim’s, I think I get a pretty clear picture of the theological definition of hyper-Calvinism.

Here is an excerpt from Tim’s blog-

[Hyper-Calvinism] manifests itself in an over-emphasis of one aspect of God’s character at the expense of another. Hyper-Calvinists emphasize God’s sovereignty but de-emphasize God’s love. They tend to set God’s sovereignty at odds with the clear biblical call to human responsibility… Probably the most distinguishing characteristic of a Hyper-Calvinist is an unwillingness to evangelize at all, or to evangelize without extending a call to accept and believe the gospel.  A hyper-Calvinist is one who:

  1. Denies that faith is the duty of every sinner, OR
  2. Denies that the gospel makes any “offer” of Christ, salvation, or mercy to the non-elect (or denies that the offer of divine mercy is free and universal), OR
  3. Denies that there is such a thing as “common grace,” OR
  4. Denies that God has any sort of love for the non-elect.

In my posts, I go to great lengths to stress God’s anger at sin, and His wrath on those who will not repent. Could I talk more about God’s love of humanity? Absolutely, but that does not make me a Hyper-Calvinist. In person, I am very passionate toward understanding the Gospel rightly. I have also been increasingly frustrated at the bad theology that is floating around the town I live in.  This is compounded by the fact that I attend a church, but as of yet, I do not have a place where I call home.

Most pastors I have heard don’t present God’s anger at all, only His love. That is one of the reasons for this blog. To try and present a thoughtful response to the non-biblical, seeker sensitive, Perry Noble type error that I see so much of.  That is probably why I talk more about God’s wrath than I do His love. But the truth is that people need to understand who they are before they will truly understand Christ’s love that was shown on that cross.

People have been lifted onto a ivory pedistal of self worth by the unbalanced preaching of God’s love alone. Remember that God’s love that is shown to us in the cross is FOOLISHNESS to those who are perishing. This has caused some tension when some of the “visitation” committee have come by my house after I have visited. One more than one occation, the people sitting in my living room on Tuesday nights (that seems to be visitaion night) have called me “very intense” after meeting with me, because I am tired of the soft Gospel.

I want a church home who knows what the Law of God is for, who knows WHO church is for (not for the seekers but the sheep). I want a church that preaches law to the proud and grace to the humble. I want a church that I can lay it all out on the line and have them tell me if they are the church I am looking for or not.  I am eager to join that church, I am looking forward to serving there.

Bring it on…

–Danny

Published in: on April 11, 2009 at 11:09 pm  Comments (1)  

Making sin personal

Lately I have had a lot of opportunities to speak with Christians about what they would say to me if I were not a Christian, and I am getting rather frustrated at the painfully generic (or altogether absent) message that is being presented back to me.

I have been told to “just believe”… what does that mean?  Is that it? Then I was told, “The bible says that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).  Great!  So what do I do with Matthew 7:21- “Not everyone that says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven…”  Didn’t they call Him Lord? Doesn’t it seem obvious that they believed He was resurrected from the dead?

The problem is, to understand Romans 10:9, you have to understand what the Bible says about a person before that point. More specifically, that people are wretched sinners and they need a savior. So, Christians run to Romans 3:23- “for all have sinned”.

The problem is, the world is perfectly fine with being called sinners. This is because the world has changed the definition of what sin is. Unregenerate people will say, “we all have made mistakes”, or “nobody’s perfect” and they twist sin to be mistakes and oops moments, or “learning experiences”. The Christian has to understand that sins are vile crimes against God. Everyone who sins is a fist shaking rebel against God and deserves hell for their crimes.

After hearing that I have heard non-Christians so many times say- “if that is true, then NOBODY is going to be in heaven!” They don’t understand the Holiness of God. They have no clue about His justice and His hatred toward sin.

Most people have a “group” mentality. They think, I’m not as bad as most people, and this type of generic language I keep hearing fosters that thinking.  The reality is, on judgment day, that person will be standing alone before God, filled with wrath for the crimes that person had commited.

That is why we need to make sin PERSONAL, because it is personal. People need to be shown that when they sin, it is a personal offense against the creator of the universe. James 4:9 wrote that we need to come to God mourning and weeping over our sins, letting our joy and laughter be turned to gloom and sorrow.

When a person is broken, surrendering themselves to Jesus, dieing to themselves, then Romans 10:9 takes on a whole new meaning and understanding Matthew 7:21 falls right into place. But the ground work has to be laid first. Only a contrite heart will truly cry out to Jesus as Lord and that person’s hope will rest in resurrection of Christ that he has put his trust in.

I don’t see ANY personal conviction of sin in any of the recent conversations I have had or tracts I have seen.  Let me challenge you to look at the way you present the Gospel and the tracts you hand out. Do they present generic ideas of sin and belief, or do they explain what sin is and what true trust and repentance is?

–Danny

Published in: on March 26, 2009 at 8:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Problem with Romans Road Evangelism

I recently had the privilege to sit down with a pastor from a church I was visiting and a few people in his congregation. In speaking with them, they told me that that they use “Romans Road” evangelism to reach the lost. The main thrust of Romans Road is Romans 3:23 -For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  This is a very popular evangelism method, so I wanted to put my thoughts out there and get feedback on what you think about using this method.

I have long thought that there was something missing from this method, and I believe a recent witness encounter clarifies this problem the problem that I have with it.

One day last week I had a service technician at my home and I asked him what he believed… What happens when we die? He answered me with, “I believe in Jesus, and God. I believe that there is Heaven and Hell and purgatory…”  He said, “I’m not really religious and I backslid for awhile, but I still believe in that stuff. I don’t go to church though.”

So he was a backsliding, non-practicing, Catholic who has an intellectual belief in God. So I probed a little deeper and asked him, “How do you see yourself? Would you say that you are a wretched sinner?”

To that he said, “Well, we have all made mistakes… I mean, no one is perfect, right? But I think God understands that we are human. He is a forgiving God.”

And in his own words, he quotes Romans 3:23, but then he reveals the problem with using this verse alone to try and bring conviction of sin. This man did not himself against God’s righteousness, but twisted scripture to compared himself to the rest of the world.

He may have had a “general” understanding of sin, but he did not see himself as a sinner in the biblical sense,as a guilty criminal before God. He needed a PERSONAL conviction of sin and if you read a few verses back, Romans 3:19-23, you will see that it is the Law of God that brings the correct understanding of sin.

But we know that whatever things the Law says, it says to those who are under the Law; so that every mouth may be stopped and all the world may be under judgment before God, because by the works of the Law none of all flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law is the knowledge of sin. But now a righteousness of God has been revealed apart from Law, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets; even the righteousness of God through the faith of Jesus Christ, toward all and upon all those who believe. For there is no difference, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God…

In context, the purpose for Romans 3:23 is that no one is left out of the penatrating gaze of God’s Law. All are guilty before him. It seems that verse 3:19 needs to be our main thrust, not 3:23.

One question that you may have is, do I ever use Romans 3:23 in my witness encounters? And the answer is yes, but only in the situation when someone believes that they have not sinned or if they think they are going to skip judgment somehow. But it is always used in conjunction with their guilt under the Law.

–Danny

Published in: on March 18, 2009 at 2:49 pm  Comments (15)  

Beth Moore- A review of “Stepping Up”

Awhile back I posted an article on judging our teachers and in it I identified a few points that are red flags before we jump head-first into a ministry.  In that article, I examined Beth Moore and her testimony that I found in Christianity Today.

I received a few emails telling me I was wrong and a clear testimony could be heard in her “Daniel” or “Stepping Up” video series, so I watched “Stepping Up” and would like to give you my thoughts as objectively as a I can.

The first thing you notice is that Beth Moore is PASSIONATE. No question about it.  She also has a lively personally which draws people to her. She is like the ultimate motivational speaker.  She is funny and expressive which makes her enjoyable to listen to. She exalts God as well as Christ and does not lack in praise and worship.

The background for this 6 hour study was the Psalms of ascents (Psa 120-134). These were songs that pilgrims sang when traveling to the three yearly feasts.  The first hour was about how important songs are to us. The problem is that songs quickly tend to manufacture emotions and get people pumped up on superficial feelings.  When the person makes a “decision”, it may the music moving in them and not God. Another problem is that too much of our Christian music is severely lacking in sound theology. Most of it is encouraging “feel good” music. I think this is an important difference of opinion, but most definitely a secondary issue.

One of the topics that is she relates to is bondage to sin, but the overtones are not being a rebel against God, but more like a victim of sin. She said that she was miserable in that cycle of sin, and she would repent, but she didn’t know how to get out of that hole. There is almost a theme of being oppressed by our circumstances, not willful rebellion against a Holy God. She mentioned God’s wrath in this series, but she said that God is coming back and people are going to have to answer for the things they have done TO YOU.

In her second session about 3 quarters of the way through, she presents the Gospel to her audience. This is THE most important message we have as Christians. If she is not clear and on target with the Gospel, then nothing else matters. I listened… and waited

Unfortunately, it was very disappointing.  This is the Gospel she presented…

This is the simplest process you have been invited to take. Simply coming to the cross of Christ and saying, I just don’t believe that You did it for everyone, I accept that You did it for me. By grace and grace alone I receive this gift. I want to walk Your path. I want to fulfill the destiny, in You, that You have had for me since before the foundation of the world. Come into my life Holy Spirit, You will never leave me or forsake me… and it’s done. And it’s done. Sealed until you see Him face to face- He’s never getting out, no matter what you do. You can try and get rid of Him and you cannot make Him go away. Believe you me, if you could, I would have done it. Take a deep breath of absolute assurance and absolute certainty. … You’ve got to know that you know that you know that you belong to Christ, no matter how you feel. Tomorrow morning you may awaken and say, “I don’t feel any different”. Well it doesn’t have anything to do with how you feel, does it girls? It has to do with what you know to be true, and you know that God is faithful to do what he promised and if you invited His Son into your life, He is there, and He is there to stay.

Her audience needed to hear that they had broken God’s Law, that everyone in that audience, and at home, were guilty criminals before God. Beth needed to allow her audience to weep over their sins before being brought to the cross. Her presentation, you will not find any mention of sin, Hell, judgment to come, repentance or the Law of God… the very thing that Paul says is a schoolmaster that leads us to Christ. People need personal conviction of sin, and she told them to repeat an incantation, a magical phrase. She then prompted them to more of an intellectual belief in Christ rather than total surrender.

I want you to notice something else. Beth says that it is not about feeling different, and that is true, but what she left out is that it is all about BEING different. Being saved is a radical change. The concept of being born again is like being run over by a Mac truck. Your thoughts, your desires, your very nature would have been crucifed with Christ. You may not feel different the next day, but unless there is a new creature standing where the old sinful man stood, then you are not saved.

Beth does mention repentance in her study, and she talks about what a sinner she is, but I would like to see something deeper from her on these issues.

The way she talked about repentance, it was saying “I’m sorry” to God every day. I want to know if she thinks repentance is also the one time turning from sin, forsaking it, and turning to God, that happens at salvation. I know that as Christians we all still sin,  but apologizing to God and turning from sin are two different things.

And she does calls her self a sinner, but I have close family members who call themselves sinners and then turn right around and say, “I don’t deserve Hell! No one deserves Hell!” There are also countless Catholics who call themselves sinners that believe in work righteousness and will end up in their sins on judgment day.  Saying she is a sinner does not give me an insight to her theology in this area.

She also says in her study that she will NEVER talk condemnation talk to any of her girls. She then talked about not being able to take the next step if we continue to be carnal. It sounds like she believes that someone can be living in sin and still be a Christian. If that is true, then this is really bad teaching. I thought of this again when she talked about people living “totally disobedient to God” and then said, “I’m not coming down with condemnation on anyone…”  If she believes that a sincere prayer saves a person, then she would not be able to tell the sheep from the goats. I would be interested in knowing what she would say about someone like Ray Boltz. I suspect it would be something like “only God can judge his sincerity.”

She mentioned a girl in Africa she was ministering to and she said that the girl, who claimed to be a Christian, contracted AIDS, but Beth did not say how she got the disease. The girl waited until the last possible moment to tell her family and they said to her, “You are no longer one of God’s children.” Beth gave a strong answer to that, which was,  “THAT IS A LIE!”  The problem is that the audience is not given any more information, so the audience is led to believe that she was a Christian no matter what kind of fruit she was bearing. She could have been a career prostitute, but don’t dare question her salvation.

She also talked about encouraging one another and she gave some examples like, “That is a beautiful handbag” and “Girl, your hair looks fabulous!” I don’t think that is the type of encouragement that Jesus or Paul had in mind. In fact, that plays more to pride and self esteem. When I think of biblical encouragement, I think more of something like, “Do not rejoice that demons are subject to you, but rejoice that your name is written in heaven!”

On a positive note, Beth talked about being forgiving one another and being more loving and more gracious to each other. From my viewpoint, she was right on the money with these.

Overall, I did learn a lot about the 3 feasts and there were some valuable information in her session, but the focus was too often on my blessing, my healing, my joy, my encouragement, my pain, my weariness, my healing… it was very man centered at times and I am sure that there plenty of women that feel fantastic after her studies. I could be very wrong about some of her theology, but there was nothing good in her Gospel presentation. This series needed the Law of God and it was no where to be found.

–Danny

Published in: on March 11, 2009 at 1:16 am  Comments (43)  

Worship or Entertainment?

Imagine that you have an eight year old daughter and she is giving a recital for just a few family members. This is going to be a special time for the family to get together and hear her sing. Everyone comes in a gets ready and she stands up to sing, but without a microphone.

But then, as she starts to sing, a loud voice comes over a microphone singing the exact same song and totally drowns her out. You notice someone off on one corner of the stage “leading” her in her song. How would you feel? Would you stand up and say, “Hey! We came to hear HER sing, not you!” Or would you say, “It’s ok, at least she is moving her mouth.”

When God listens to our worship, do you think He likes to hear the congregation lifting their voices in praise to Him, or do you think He is ok with the concert style that is so popular?  Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with singers or instruments in the church. I have no problem with having more contemporary music in the song list, but what I do have a problem with is where the focus is being placed.

My wife and I walked into one such church on their opening Sunday.  Lights down the isles sloped toward a stage, no pulpit, with props on it and two large LCD screens on either side with a “cool” countdown screen. Counting down the last 1o minutes until the service started.

My wife whispered, “when do you think they are going to serve the popcorn?”  Heh… funny, but sad. And then we overheard the person sitting directly behind us say, “I just pray that the lights work!”  Say What? Their 5 member “praise team” were singing so loud, I couldn’t hear my wife speak to me. We went back some time later and the worship had not changed.

We need high and holy worship. We need worship that praises God as a congregation, not as a praise team. We need service that is done for God and TO God, not for our fulfillment. I had a friend say once that he wanted to find another church, because he is not getting a lot out of it any more. I had to tell him, “Well, it’s not really FOR you. You go to church to give worship to God. It’s for him.” He is still looking.

–Danny

Published in: on February 22, 2009 at 3:49 am  Comments (1)  

What is RIGHTEOUSNESS?

There are some words in Christianity that we tend to throw around a lot, but most people don’t have any understanding of what they mean.

I will give you an example, how many times do you use the word “Amen”? Millions say amen after praying or when the preacher says something good, but do you know what the word “Amen” actually means?

Why does it even matter?

Even though you may not know that “amen” means “it is true”, this does not seem to have huge theological implications. But there is one word in particular that does. That word is righteousness.

I was in a prison ministry talking to a group of men telling them the importance of God’s law.  I told them that everyone… EVERYONE, will be judged according to the 10 commandments.  After the meeting, I was approached by one of the volunteers, an older lady who has been doing bible study at that prison for a long while, and she asked why I insisted that all people are going to be judged by God’s law.  I told her that the Bible tells us that God is coming to judge the world in righteousness. (Acts 17:31)

But if you don’t know what righteous means, you will miss the reason God gave us His law in the first place.  The dictionary says that righteousness is moral perfection. So God is coming back to judge us based on His standard of moral perfection.  Well, God’s moral standard is found in the 10 commandments. Everyone will be found either righteous or guilty on judgment day.  Everyone will be judged.

That is why Jesus was born Jewish. That is why He lived as long as He did under the law. He became a man and kept the law that we could not. A perfect sacrifice. That is why the Bible says that His righteousness is given to us when we repent and put our faith in Him alone. That is why the law is so important.

God is a God of absolute justice. But He is also a God of mercy and forgiveness, but there IS a price. God MUST punish sin. Either you will pay for your own crimes by spending an eternity in a lake of fire, or, by our faith, God’s wrath was poured out on Jesus Christ, and the debt was paid. The point is that everything points back to the law.

The commandments are not just good ideas, they are the very nature of God himself. That is why He is known as a God of RIGHTEOUSNESS. And that is why Christians should love His law. While we don’t look to the law for our justification, we should study it and obey it out of love and gratitude. His law should be the forefront of our preaching and our worship. The very cross that we hang in our sanctuaries should be a reminder of the law we have violated and wrath that Jesus endured to satisfy it.

I don’t know many people who can remember the 10 commandments. The Bible also tells us that sin IS transgression of the law (1Jn3:4) So here is an interesting question: God wants us to depart from sin, He wants us to grow in righteousness, but if you don’t know God’s law, how can you do that?

–Danny

Published in: on February 22, 2009 at 12:46 am  Leave a Comment  

Free Will Baptist- an important question

Yesterday I sat down with a pastor from a free will baptist church and had a chance to talk some theology with him.  From what I have heard, Free Will Baptists believe that a person can lose their salvation, so this was an excellent opportunity to learn something different from what I believe. Below is a shortened version of the conversation.

When we got around to the subject, I started with a more fundamental question… “Do you believe that a person is justified when they come to Christ? Are their sins forgiven, past, present and future?”

And he answered, “Yes, I believe a person is totally justified. The death of Christ was sufficient for ALL sin.”

Then I asked, “Do you believe that someone can lose their salvation, and if they can, tell me how that happens?”

He replied, “I believe that a person can backslide to the point that God cuts him off.  And after a person has lost their salvation, they cannot be brought back into a saving relationship with God.”

So I then asked him the big question, “If a person has to maintain a minimum level of personal righteousness to stay in God’s grace, how is that not works righteousness?”

To that he answered, “You bring up a valid concern, but I cannot explain, from a theological standpoint, how these two fit together. There are some things in the Bible that you and I will not be able to fully understand. The Trinity is an example, I will never fully understand the nature of the Trinity. You cannot work your way to heaven, but I do believe that the Bible does teach that someone can lose their salvation, and I have known people that I believed had the fruit of salvation in their lives that walked away from God.”

I do understand his point, but to say that someone can be justified of all their sins and then say they can lose their salvation because of their sin is a contradiction. So what about those people who seeming have the fruit that comes with salvation? There IS another  explanation that does not violate the doctrine of justification.

There are verses in the Bible that indicate a person saved by God, will be kept by God. This doctrine is known as “the perseverance of the saints”. If God is the author of our faith, He will be the finisher of our faith (Heb 7:25).  He is able to keep them from falling and present them faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy (Jude 24).

So what about those verses that seem to talk about people falling away from the faith?

These are people who look righeous on the outside but their heart has never been converted. They go through the motions, sometimes with passion and conviction, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones. The inside of the cup is still dirty. These are the Ted Haggards and Ray Boltz of the world.

These people are called hypocrytes, pretenders. And if you know someone who you would have sworn was a Christian,  and they walk away from God, then they were never saved to begin with. When someone is saved by God, they are a new creature with a new heart and new desires. If they go back to the world, then their heart was always with the world.

I think this is what the apostle John meant when he said , “They went out from us, but they were not really of us, for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.” (1 Jn 2:19)

–Danny

Published in: on January 18, 2009 at 2:35 pm  Comments (5)  

Do you know what decisional generation is?

In my last post, I included a video that highlighted a major problem with modern Christianity. In the video, a woman instructed children to “make a decision” to become a Christian and then led them through a prayer so that Jesus would be their best friend.  This is called “decisional regeneration” and is very popular… and very dangerous.

If a person decides that they want to become a Christian, most pastors will lead that person in a short prayer and then will pronouce them saved. I have heard pastors say things like, “everyone that asks Jesus into their heart will be saved”, but there-in lies the problem. Salvation is not yours to bestow on yourself.  The Bible clearly states that salvation belongs to God alone.  I think the problem is that WE like to be in control.  When the decision is OURS to make, why do we need to have faith in God?

When someone repents and puts their life in Jesus’ hands, trusting that what God promised, He is able to do– THAT is faith.  Remember that Jesus said that many would call Him Lord, Lord, but He will cast them into Hell on the day of judgement.  I believe that too many are trusting in the decsion they made instead of looking at their lives to see if they are bearing godly fruit.

The video embeded below is kinda long, 9 mins, but watch the first couple of minutes and see why simply making a decision to become a Christian does not save you.

No man comes to Jesus unless the Father draws him. (John 6:44)

–Danny

Published in: on January 12, 2009 at 10:06 pm  Leave a Comment  

Children are SOOO easy to get decisions from!

Whew! I have had a busy Christmas, and it has been awhile since I have posted. I think this post is perfect for opening up the new year.

Did you happen to read the article I wrote on Children and Salvation? Well, I was looking around the Wretched Radio site and found this video that is posted below.

Next I want to post on a critical issue that was brought up in this video that is called “Decisional Regeneration” and the implications of this popular theology.  I want you think about something before my next post, does salvation belong to God, or do men have the power to save themselves?

–Danny

Published in: on January 3, 2009 at 12:18 am  Comments (1)  
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