10 Ways Daily Bible Reading Will Enhance Corporate Worship

1. When a scripture is read you will already have some idea of the context of the passage and be able to draw more from it.

2. As you sing songs in worship you will recognize many of the passages of scriptures alluded to in the music, which will enrich the truths they are communicating.

3. You will better understand the significance of the ordinances like baptism and the Lord’s Supper, which will make you be able to see more of the imagery of the law and gospel in them.

4. As you study the text while it is being preached, you will be able to relate it to other passages of scripture not included in the sermon.

5. During discussion times you will better be able to contribute to discussions and edify others.

6. You will have a greater hunger for the word because you have been feeding on it and finding satisfaction in it. This hunger takes away much of the dryness that some people experience when attending church and makes it a pleasure to be in the house of the Lord.

7. In times of fellowship you will be able to apply the scripture to people’s lives as they talk about their daily joys and struggles.

8. It will reveal your sinfulness and give you strength as you fight against the indwelling sin in your own life, and make you better able to strengthen others. And better understanding this struggle produces contrition and begins to eliminate the pride which causes unneeded divisions in many churches.

9. As you desire success for your church, you will better understand what true church success is, and it will keep you trusting in the Lord who gives the increase instead of trusting in worldly tactics as you seek growth.

10. Since the Word moves us to prayer, you will be more prayerful as you spend time in the Lord’s house which is called a house of prayer.

This list is designed to let people know a few of the ways daily bible reading will enhance the corporate worship in bible teaching churches. If you attend a church where the bible is neglected and pop psychology is the main course, attending those types of churches while engaged in daily bible reading will only frustrate you. This is because you will find that motivational “preaching” neglects the main themes that run throughout scripture and replaces theology with therapy and replaces redemption with a self-help regimen. Of course even that frustration is a good thing.

-Doug Eaton-

Was that Worship???

I had a co-worker once who loved just about everything Disney. He put a sticker on his car, and would proudly wear Disney hats and shirts. He was one of the managers at the store where I was working, and I remember one day when everything was going wrong he said to me, when this day is over I am going home and I’m going to watch an old Disney movie. When I pressed him a bit as to why he chose to watch an old Disney movie as opposed to anything else, he said, “Disney things just bring me back to when I was a kid.” Ultimately there was a sense of nostalgia from all the memories of growing up, and these things moved his affections in a way that made him feel a bit better after a hard day.

On another note (no pun intended), music has a way of doing the same type of things for us. I can remember in high school and college and it even happens now occasionally, when I would be listening to secular radio, and that new song that I had been waiting to hear would come on. Immediately, I would turn up the volume and I would be energized by what I was hearing, singing along with all the passion I could muster.

Now there really is nothing wrong with a bit of nostalgia and being energized or moved by some piece of music, but when you put these things together with a Christian worship service or program we must be careful to discern our affections. I bring this up because sometimes I think we can be misled to think that we have had a time of worship or that we have heard a really good sermon simply because our affections were moved.

We must pay close attention to what is actually moving our affections in order to discern whether or not it is worship or even spiritual. When those first chords of our favorite praise song are played by the worship leader, are we being energized much like any natural man who hears a secular song that causes him to turn up the radio or are we really worshipping? And when grandma’s favorite Hymn starts to play and causes us to experience a time of peace and contentment while thinking back to when she used to sing it to us as a child, do we sometimes confuse that with worship?

Now I am not saying we should only sing boring songs or songs that don’t remind us of anything, or that it is impossible to really be worshipping during these times. In fact, I think it can be good at times to remember our family worship from when we were growing up, and I also think it is good that we still have people today writing new psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs for us to sing today that get us excited. But what I want to stress is that simply because we have these moments does not mean we are worshipping or that we have been moved by in adoration of God. Charles Spurgeon once said that if he wanted to, he could move congregations to tears by telling them sad stories of mothers with sick children or energize them by telling them stories of men and women who accomplished great things. But he said it would be a waste of time unless they where moved to cry over their sin and take joy in Christ and the cross.

Even the natural man’s affections can be moved in strong ways, but those affections will never be worship unless they are moved by the word of God as it points us to Christ and what He has done for us. Whether we attend a modern or traditional worship service is not the biggest issue, but we must be sure to seek out worship and preaching that convicts us of sin, and shows us the remedy in Christ.

-Doug Eaton-

The Gospel

First things first. We need to talk about the term gospel, define what we mean by its usage, and then measure our definition with gospel’s biblical denotation. In a time where everyone has his own relative definition and belief of any and all, it is indeed important to have an absolute, biblical definition of gospel. Along the way we will also be clarifying what the gospel is not. Rather than delve into an onerous essay on the detailed intricacies of the gospel, I would like to give a succinct, yet sufficient for the task at hand, synopsis of the gospel. This first part of the series will not be a biblical defense of the definition of gospel. Rather, it will be a proclamation of it. The defense will come in later articles.

The Interpreter answered, This parlor is the heart of a man that was never sanctified by the sweet grace of the Gospel. The dust is his original sin, and inward corruptions, that have defiled the whole man. He that began to sweep at first, is the law; but she that brought water, and did sprinkle it, is the Gospel. Now whereas thou sawest, that so soon as the first began to sweep, the dust did so fly about that the room by him could not be cleansed, but that thou wast almost choked therewith; this is to show thee, that the law, instead of cleansing the heart (by its working) from sin, doth revive, Rom. 7:9, put strength into, 1 Cor. 15:56, and increase it in the soul, Rom. 5:20, even as it doth discover and forbid it; for it doth not give power to subdue. Again, as thou sawest the damsel sprinkle the room with water, upon which it was cleansed with pleasure, this is to show thee, that when the Gospel comes in the sweet and precious influences thereof to the heart, then, I say, even as thou sawest the damsel lay the dust by sprinkling the floor with water, so is sin vanquished and subdued, and the soul made clean, through the faith of it, and consequently fit for the King of glory to inhabit. John 15:3; Eph. 5:26; Acts 15:9; Rom. 16:25, 26.

Taken from John Bunyan’s (not to be confused with the mythical larger-than-life Paul Bunyan) The Pilgrim’s Progress, the preceding quote illustrates the roles of both law and grace in the execution of the Gospel. Though it’s much more complex than we’re going to approach, simply put the law exposes our absolute need of grace and grace alone, apart from our own works, to be right with God. More on this later…

What Does it Mean?

In trying to give a simple, yet biblical, definition of gospel we will take a look at a few people’s usage of the term, and the context in which they use it. As many of you may already know, gospel literally means good news. What glorious news it is indeed! A few questions may be forming inside your mind. When was the gospel first preached? Is the gospel unique to and found only in the New Testament? On the other hand, such questions may not be arising at all in your mind. You may have, and some think they have, a firm grasp on what the gospel is. If so, excellent! But you may find that your definition of gospel is found wanting…that is, if you’ve grown up hearing some of the same things I heard growing up.

Simply Put

In the soon-following section, What the Gospel is Not, we will go into a bit further detail, but for now I want to provide the basics of the gospel. The gospel is nothing new. It began before the day of Pentecost. It began before John the Baptist was on the scene. In fact, the first time it was preached is in the very first book of our Bibles, Genesis. Most of this will probably sound all too familiar to you if you’ve grown up in church. However, in the aforementioned future section, I think, some great distinctions will be drawn out from your familiarity with the words and what the Bible actually says concerning these same words.

The Gospel (Forgive the temporary oversimplification): Man (Adam & Eve) was created perfect. Man was given a “test”, if you will, to either pass or fail. Man failed by disobeying God’s clear command, and Adam, being the representative for all mankind, plunged all mankind into sin. In doing so, all persons born of man are born dead in their sins, unable to please God and unwilling to do so as well. Therefore, all men (and women and children, etc.) are born naturally and radically separated from God, in darkness. Man can only be right with God by fulfilling/obeying every aspect of God’s holy law. God will accept only perfection. Thus, we have the problem. Since man is born dead in his sin, only gratifying the desires of flesh, and under its dominion, he can never do that which is pleasing to God (i.e. obey all of God’s law and never disobey it). All of this is very bad news, yet a part of the gospel.

In His great mercy, God gives salvation to men by providing One Who would, as did Adam, work on behalf of all His people. But this couldn’t be a mere man. Rather, it was God’s Son Who became a man, in order to purchase men. God is righteous and just, so He requires holiness. So Christ, the 2nd Adam, comes to earth and is born of the virgin Mary. He did not live as merely a good example or a great teacher. He lives with one aim in mind: the will of His Father. In being representative of all God’s people, He lived, actively fulfilling and obeying all aspects of the law both ceremonial and moral), thus being perfect and holy in every way, as a man (versus Adam, the man who failed). For God’s justice to be satisfied a man would have to obey the law in its fullness, then die as a sacrifice on behalf of the people who were in rebellion to His law. Man failed legally, and man was redeemed legally. Before the time of this sacrifice, the gospel was veiled, not being thoroughly clear. Nonetheless, it was a gospel of faith and belief, as shown by many Old Testament examples (Adam, Abraham, Joseph, David, etc.). Those men looked forward to Christ by believing God’s promise. Those born after Christ’s sacrifice looked backward, still by faith receiving the promise of redemption.

In a gross oversimplification, that is the gospel in a nutshell.

What the Gospel is Not

We have had some previous articles dealing more in depth with certain foundational truths of the gospel. For example, we have discussed the depravity of man, etc. Forthcoming will be a brief synopsis of T.U.L.I.P. (even though it has been touched lightly upon throughout the Christian Theology Blog.) Right now, though, I would like to conclude this short piece with a few thoughts on what the gospel is not. Growing up as I did, I was taught many things about the “gospel”. Off the top of my head, I remember the phrase like The Romans Road. Some of you might remember The Four Spiritual Laws. We’re all familiar with the well-used passage John 3:16. “God loves you and has a plan for your life.” Sound familiar? All of these things, in and of themselves, are not harmful or anti-Christian, but they’re lacking. They do not declare “the whole counsel of God” insofar as the gospel relates. As we explore the gospel in more depth and detail, we will touch on many things that the gospel is not. For now, I leave you with a quote from Charles Haddon Spurgeon, and some brief commentary.

Self-righteousness arises partly from pride, but mainly from ignorance of God’s law. It is because men know little or nothing concerning the terrible character of the divine law, that they foolishly imagine themselves to be righteous. They are not aware of the deep spirituality, and the stern severity of the law, or they would have other and wiser notions. Once let them know how strictly the law deals with the thoughts, how it brings itself to bear upon every emotion of the inner man, and there is not one creature beneath God’s heaven who would are to think himself righteous in God’s sight in virtue of his own deeds and thoughts. Only let the law be revealed to a man; let him know how strict the law is, and how infinitely just, and his self-righteousness will shrivel into nothing-it will become a filthy rag in his sight, whereas before he thought it to be a goodly garment.

-C.H. Spurgeon

The Church in our day would do well to digest the preceding words by Mr. Spurgeon. Our self-saturated culture has made inroads into the Church by her passivity in knowing, teaching, and proclaiming the unadulterated, true Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is truly “good news” because of the severity of the bad news; yet many Christians (and non-Christians who think they’re Christians) think it wise to sugarcoat, or altogether cut out the harshness of the gospel. NOTHING could be worse for the lost masses. To diminish or downplay the gospel in ANY way is to disguise the gospel. To disguise the gospel is to dissolve it from the truth; thus, making it no gospel at all!

It is imperative that we preach the good news, I believe, beginning with the sobering realities of the bad news. Man is depraved. Man is sinful. How do we know? He has rebelled against the law of God. What is the law of God? The commandments found in the Scriptures. Paul never advocated an abrogation of God’s law. Rather, he said he wouldn’t have known what sin was EXCEPT for the law (Romans 7)! This is what, I presume, Mr. Spurgeon was thinking about when he preached the above. He speaks to self-righteousness as being primarily borne from man’s ignorance. It takes the light of the gospel exposing man to his own sinfulness to bring him to the truth that he is inept. Unable to please God in anyway. Hopeless…except through faith and repentance unto the Lord Jesus Christ. THAT’s good news.

This being said, I pray that we would ask God to expose “secret sins” to our hearts and minds, that we would be ever mindful of them…casting them aside and returning to them no more. I pray that the fire of holy pursuit and sanctification would be stoked underneath us, that the gospel would burn like a fire within us, and we would be quick on our feet to spread the truth of God’s love, mercy, grace, wrath, justice and glory.

May we cast aside the spurious gospels that have taken root in our culture preaching to men the absolute despair of their souls, depravity of their natures, and the necessity of their repentance unto the Lord. God be praised!

Don’t Wait for the New Year

A new year is coming upon us, indeed. However, why do we wait until January 1st to start pursuing a goal of sorts? Well, there is a Christian duty (one of several) in which we should never be found dull, neglect, or waning. It is one in which we must be constant, consistent, and continuous if we profess to know the God of Scripture. This duty, this absolute necessity, this practice is called Mortifying Sin.

As I have alluded to elsewhere, John Owen once wrote, “Be killing sin or sin will be killing you.” This is precisely why one cannot wait until January 1st. In fact, you cannot afford to defer another moment from this duty! You must resolve yourself this instant to dedicate your very essence of existence to this task. Why? Because the wages of sin are DEATH. Now surely I have some qualifications to make.

First, in order to engage in this distinctly Christian duty, you must be a Christian. If you’re not a Christian, it is not only the height of arrogance to think for a moment that you can effectively engage in the duty of mortification, but it is also sheer futility and the compounding of your condemnation to do so. If this applies to you, I implore you to read this. If you are a Christian, read on.

Secondly, not only must you be a Christian, but you must engage in this duty by the Spirit. If you attempt to mortify your sin apart from dependance upon the Holy Spirit, your efforts are just as vain as that of an unbeliever. Though you are now a Christian, you are still affected by that residue of indwelling sin, which is exactly why you must engage in this duty! So then, you must be a Christian to do this, and you must also do it by the Spirit.

You say, “That’s great, Josh. Thanks for telling me what I need to do (and why), but then totally leave me hanging by not telling me how.” Well, my friend, this is where the Big Guns come in. I can absolutely no better exhort you in this manner than has already been exhorted by some of the godliest men of the past. Therefore, I will give you a few brief pointers, and then suggest a book or two concerning the pointers.

What is Sin?

To kill sin, you must know sin intimately. Now, don’t twist that. Don’t misunderstand. I am not saying to engage more heavily in sinning so that you might know it better. That’s utter foolishness. I am saying that you must know your enemy– that is, Sin– and know it intimately within the context of Scripture’s light. In doing this, as a Christian, you will come to have a holy hatred for your sin. Book Suggestions:

The Sinfulness of Sin
-by Ralph Venning (Banner of Truth)

The Evil of Evils-by Jeremiah Burroughs (Soli Deo Gloria-buy it used if you can)

How Does Sin Work?

You must also know sin personally. By that, I mean you must know how sin approaches you, specifically. How does Satan use your own sinful nature to tempt you and bring you to a halt. You must learn his strategies. Book Suggestion:

Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices-by Thomas Brooks (Banner of Truth)

How Do I Mortify Sin?

Now we come to the clencher. And I’m not gonna say a thing. I’m going to suggest three books. One of them is a compilation of three works by John Owen. The other two are more contemporary works on the subject of mortification. Obviously, I’m partial to Owen. However, he can be a stickler to read most of the time for many, and some of the time for some. Therefore, the latter of the three suggestions are recommended, and are theologically solid, sound, and from a Reformed understanding of Scripture and the Christian Faith.

Overcoming Sin and Temptation: Three Classic Works by John Owen-edited by Justin Taylor & Kelly Kapic (Crossway)

The Enemy Within-by Kris Lundgaard (P & R)

A Fight to the Death-by Wayne & Joshua Mack (P & R)

Don’t wait for the New Year. Start killing sin now. Develop a more holy hatred of sin, YOUR SIN, each passing moment. We must truly seek to know the sinfulness of sin, and the wretched vile stinch it is in the nostrils of God. I’ll leave you with some applicable quotes from the grand ole Puritan Divines:

We do not want sin covered, but cured-Thomas Watson

Let no man think to kill sin with few, easy, or gentle strokes. He who hath once smitten a serpent, if he follow not on his blow until he be slain, may repent that ever he began the quarrel. And so will he who undertakes to deal with sin, and pursues it not constantly to the death.-John Owen

If you wish to stand firm in the midst of suffering, forewarn yourself of this fact: Temptation is never stronger than when relief seems to dress itself in the very sin that Satan is suggesting.-William Gurnall

Mortification from a self-strength, carried on by ways of self-invention, unto the end of a self-righteousness, is the soul and substance of all false religion in the world.-John Owen

When sin lets us alone we may let sin alone; but as sin is never less quiet than when it seems to be most quiet, and its waters are for the most part deep when they are still, so ought our contrivances against it to be vigorous at all times and in all conditions, even where there is least suspicion.-John Owen

Life, Persecution, Sin, Humility, Mercy, Justice, Comfort…

I have not a few things on my heart and mind these last few days: First, there is life in all its complexities. Within these complexities arises persecution. No, I’m not going hungry (as the padding on my tummy will show). No, I’m not without clothes or shelter. I do not have to wonder if I’ll have enough money for this or that. Nor am I being asked, told, or demanded to renounce or recant my faith in Christ. None of the above.

This persecution is a very subtle thorn indeed. Only I (and the Lord) can know it or see it presently, while others must just trust my word when given. From the outside, it looks so innocent and unharmful…but it’s not. It brings sadness to my life, not ultimately because it hurts me personally (and it does, no doubt), but because it hurts those whom I love and adore. It is just life.

So, this life and the persecution wrought therein often drives me to see myself for what I am: a worm. I serve the God of peace, and of Whom I am most grateful. The God of the Scriptures Who grants mercy and Who exacts justice on the guilty. The God Who keeps covenant with men – The God of Promise. I serve the Almighty God…that is, when I’m not serving the god of self. :( 

O, the sorrow that ensues when I do not fix my eyes upon the Author and Finisher of my faith, King Jesus. The sin which so easily entangles does just that – and I get twisted in its snare. A quote from the good Dr. Owen is most applicable:

Let no man think to kill sin with few, easy, or gentle strokes. He who hath once smitten a serpent, if he follow not on his blow until he be slain, may repent that ever he began the quarrel. And so will he who undertakes to deal with sin, and pursues it not constantly to the death.

And this awful reminder of what I am (a sinner) lowers me into that blessed, yet lowered state called humility (of which I do not possess enough). This is a blessed condition that shows me God has not left me alone to die in my sins. No He’s still chiselling away the once soft clay that’s been a bit hardened by neglecting spiritual graces. Ah what a great thing it is to know the chastening of the Lord. In this all, I’m reminded that its God’s kindness which leads to repentance. In granting me this repentance He has shown me His great mercy.

With His mercy placing me back within the sweet realm of a pure conscience before God, I may rest in His grace and feast upon His Word again with clarity and discernment. As I look at Biblical history, I see His justice always prevailing. Then, as I recall this previously mentioned persecution I’m then reminded that God will let no sin go unpunished. He demands justice. So this sorrow that pervades my heart can be greatly diminished even while in this body of flesh. Yes, I can take solace even in pain my loved ones and I experience because of God’s perfect and holy justice- knowing that those who bring persecution, no matter how smooth, subtle, or covert, will one day be brought to account before a thrice holy God.

And, good people, what does this confidence in God’s justice produce? Comfort from the God of all comfort. Even in my faithlessness, He is faithful. Thus, he works all my life, persecution, and sin to bring me humility, that He might show His mercyjustice, and comfort for my good and to His glory – so that I may say with sincere and true heart, “Blessed be the Name of the Lord.” Amen.  


The Book of Job and the Sovereignty of God

God owes no man explanation of any sort, for anything. Sometimes He graciously gives it, but he owes it to none.

Many times in my life, when afflictions, trials, or temptations were sent my direction, the book of Job was one of my most comforting reads. The onslaught of his perceived misfortunes seems almost incomprehensible…especially to me, an untouched, unpersecuted American Christian, nestled deep within the safe, suburban neighborhoods of the so-called “Bible Belt.” Also worthy of note is Job’s faithful (but not perfect) perseverance beneath seemingly insurmountable odds.

His suffering was immense, no doubt. And yet, that’s not the primary theme of this holy account, nor is Job the star protagonist of this intriguing biography (from his perspective, anyway). No, the highlight of this book, the glory displayed from these scriptures, the majesty, splendor, and awe-inspiring focus of this portion of the Holy Writ is that of the Almighty Sovereign God, the Lord Himself, Who alone is worthy of praise.

The pious and venerable Matthew Henry writes:

Were ever the being of God, his glorious attributes and perfections, his unsearchable wisdom, his irresistible power, his inconceivable glory, his inflexible justice, and his incontestable sovereignty, discoursed of with more clearness, fulness, reverence, and divine eloquence, than in this book? The creation of the world, and the government of it, are here admirably described, not as matters of nice speculation, but as laying most powerful obligations upon us to fear and serve, to submit to and trust in, our Creator, owner, Lord, and ruler. Moral good and evil, virtue and vice, were never drawn more to the life (the beauty of the one and the deformity of the other) than in this book; nor the inviolable rule of God’s judgment more plainly laid down, That happy are the righteous, it shall be well with them; and Woe to the wicked, it shall be ill with them.

God Sovereignly Initiates Affliction

Job 1:1, 5 (my emphasis and parentheses added):

There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil…and it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.

I told you I wanted to address the subject of the sovereignty of God in the context of this book of Job, so let us begin. Here we read of this “blameless and upright” man of God. Not only do we see his personal holiness via its proclamation thereof in Scripture, we see the effects of his holiness making waves in his family dealings. As an aside, we see Job’s actions here being a far cry from the ways in which the majority of fathers in this day and age have utterly failed to exercise headship, culpability, and responsibility for their families.

Moreover, we see that the text immediately notes the godliness of Job, and his concern for his family. Mixed in amongst these mentions is that of his great wealth. It’s funny, though, how his wealth does not give Job the security to live in sin and licentiousness. No, he is “blameless” and is much concerned with the holiness of not only himself, but his family. Thus, it is established…Job’s a man of God, not harboring sin, or pride, or greed, or envy, etc. Now we read this (Job 1:6-12, my emphasis added):

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them. And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face. And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord.

We may deduce several thoughts from this passage. I will consider a few. Number 1, this book, as shown in this passage, is not primarily about suffering, or even Job’s suffering. This book is about God’s sovereignty over all things. Secondly, Satan is not equal in power, stature, or grandeur with God Almighty. There are folks in this world who go for the idea of a balance between good and evil, and these are in perpetual warfare against one another. I believe it’s the ying yang that tries to symbolize this foolish concept. No, it is plain that Satan is subject to God just like any other creature. Consider the fact that Satan does not address the Lord, until he himself is called to do so. You will also note that Satan doesn’t ignore God’s spoken word, nor does he lie (for he knows the futility therein) to Him as to treat the Lord’s question with indignity. So it is as it has always been…God-Almighty, Satan-not even close.

Thirdly, though Satan is the accuser of the brethren, in this particular case, it is not Satan who brings up God’s loyal subject, Job. Rather, it is the Lord Himself who initiates the conversation and its subject matter. Next, Satan acknowledges God’s goodness by proclaiming what God has done for and given to Job. Herein we see that demons and devils do not deny God or Jesus’ existence, they do not even deny His goodness, holiness, sovereignty, etc. They believe these things about God (as they should), but they do not make proper use of such knowledge. This would be why James notes that mere faith that God is true is not saving faith.

Lastly, Satan shows his absolute powerlessness apart from God’s granting. In somewhat understanding the natural heart of man, he says that Job doesn’t fear God for no reason. He then, as I have already noted, talks about the kindness God has shown Job, and implies that this is why he serves so faithfully. But Satan has failed to recognize the reborn heart of man, one regenerated by the Holy Spirit, so he continues with his foolishness and asserts that if God takes all these materialistic things, and family, away, then Job will surely curse Him. But it’s important to note that Satan, by saying “put forth thine hand,” is admitting that God is the One Who ordains, has power over, and permits affliction in Job’s life. This is further recognized when God gives Satan the authority to take away Job’s things, but limits it when it comes to Job’s life.

And so, we see that God is sovereign in not only the giving of gifts, riches, and family, but He’s also sovereign in the initiation, planning, and execution of affliction in the lives of men. In light of this, we ought to remember the first chapter of James’ epistle. James spends the first several verses speaking of trials, afflictions, and temptations. Then, in verse 17 he notes that every good and perfect gift is given by our Father in heaven. The sentence before that starts with “Do not err, my beloved brethren,” noting that these folks, because of their current trials and hardships, begin to question the goodness of God. But he reminds them that these afflictions, though they don’t appear to be so, are really perfect and good gifts from God above, he is molding us according to the good pleasure of His will.

So, then, let us echo Job while facing trial, hardship, temptation, or affliction and proclaim that the Lord gives and He takes away, BLESSED BE THE NAME OF THE LORD!


Wuz Huntin’ Fer Meat, But Fownd Me Som Fish Insted…EvanJellyFish.

So I’m online, perusing my favorite online message board, and someone reminded me of these guys I first saw over 15yrs ago. The Power Team! What show of force! What men…wait, there’s also a woman! Ah ha ha ha ha ha. No kidding, I remember seeing them years ago at some church function somewhere, and then later at school. Several years later I remember seeing them at another megachurch around here. Anyway, this reminder on the Puritanboard piqued my interest so I googled the ol’ Power Team and was suprised (yet, not surprised) by the garbage I saw and read. Let me make a few observations:

This is all from their website found here. Okay, let’s just mention the given: Of course they’re semi-Pelagians! Of course they’re not Calvinists. But, despite all that, even if I were still Arminian, I think I would have major beef with these guys (and…um…lady). They make some outlandish claims concerning church and “kingdom” growth that sound like politician promises. Just ridiculous!

On the front page banner we read, “One of the most Powerful, Impacting, and Effective presentations of the gospel in the World!” Oh, my! This could be a long post! Let’s see of what their “Gospel Presentation” consists (in their own words, mind you). From the FAQ section on the Power Team website, this question is posed:

What happens at a Power Team Crusade?:

Each night features 90 minutes of illustrative sermon, Christian drama, and revival, as The Power Team communicates Biblical truths & scripture utilizing explosive and stunning feats of strength like: breaking baseball bats like twigs, bending horseshoes & steel bars, crushing concrete walls, rip phone books like pieces of paper and many other incredible power demonstrations.

Firstly, I have a grammatical question. What if the first part of the statement were a sentence by itself. What would it mean? Each night features 90 minutes of illustrative sermon. Huh? Maybe an an would be helpful here. By the way, I’m sincerely not trying to mock, I just have a difficult time with poor grammatical structure (Yes, feel free to go back and correct all of my grammatical errors. I will, if need be, write retractions of each and every one). So, a typical night with the Power Team consists of a so-called sermon, Christian drama, and revival. The only thing I can really make sense out of that first statement is that there will be possible dramas/skits. Concerning the term revival, how do they define it? Who knows.

How do these “licensed & ordained ministers” (again, their own words) communicate “Biblical truths & scripture”? Not by preaching per se. No, their primary means of such is described as “explosive and stunning feats of strength”. This is a stark contrast from several instances the Apostle Paul alluded to concerning his ministry and preaching (All quotes from the English Standard Version, my emphasis added).

1 Cor 1:26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.

1 Cor 4:9 For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. 10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. 11 To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, 12 and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; 13 when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.

2 Cor 10:1 I, Paul, myself entreat you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—I who am humble when face to face with you, but bold toward you when I am away!— 2 I beg of you that when I am present I may not have to show boldness with such confidence as I count on showing against some who suspect us of walking according to the flesh. 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds...9 I do not want to appear to be frightening you with my letters. 10 For they say, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account.” 11 Let such a person understand that what we say by letter when absent, we do when present…17 “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 18 For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.

I know that immediately, some of you may say, “Well, Josh, I don’t think that they’re (the Power Team) trying to boast of their strength, etc., but rather use it as a tool to evangelize.” Well, although on the surface it may seem so, I believe they unwittingly do the former, not the latter. Why? Because of their outlandish claims. Let me just present a few from the site:

“Our METHODS are proven” OUR NAME… A COMPELLING ATTRACTION. Experience how The Power Team name draws crowds, and see why we rank second, only to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in number of salvations over the past 25 years! Several churches actually doubled in size after hosting a Power Team crusade!

They boast of their secular popularity:

PLUS: The Power Team is appealing to both the secular & Christian communities.

People recognize The Power Team’s many features & endorsements including:

  • “Walker, Texas Ranger” with Chuck Norris
  • ABC, NBC, CBS Sports, CNN News
  • WB Network, ESPN
  • ET (Entertainment Tonight)
  • People Magazine
  • USA Today
  • Saturday Evening Post
  • Ripley’s Believe It or Not
  • Endorsements by over 100 Governors, Senators, & Congressmen
  • 40 countries around the world/50 Denominations
  • Over 25,000 school assemblies

Now, something’s wrong with this picture. Is the Law of God appealing to lost, sinful mankind? By no means! From the context of the very passages I just quoted from Paul we read:

1 Cor 1:18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” 20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

Yet, the Power Team boasts of their “methods” and says that their “methods” are “proven”. Do you see the problem?! The have invented “methods”!!!! This is will-worship, plain and simple, whether they know it or not. Another quote concerning their “success” rate:

You will see between 500-10,000 respond to the messages, with between 50% of responders being over the age of 21.

I need the :banghead: smiley. This is sickening. I mean, I’m almost tempted to put this on the same level of Joel Osteen’s drivel. Their arrogance knows no end, and yet, they probably don’t even realize their own arrogance! They believe that churches need their help, not the Sovereign Lord’s help. Let me just provide a few more quotes concerning this arrogance of which I speak:

In the churches we visit, growth results, First and Foremost in God’s Kingdom, then to the local church. The average church in the last several years has exceeded their normal income growth curve by 18-23% after sponsoring a Power Team crusade.

The Power Team can provide you with all of the support you will need to guarantee a successful crusade in your community!

Notice their mission statement and notice who is capturing the hearts for Whom. Apparently, Christ needs our help to capture hearts. This is so backwards. It is the Sovereign Lord Who captures and changes hearts. We merely proclaim His message.

“Capturing Hearts for Jesus!”

Mission Statement

“To reach people with the gospel of Jesus Christ which an ordinary church meeting or event cannot. Drawing people through the use of performing visually explosive and spectacular feats of strength by incredible athletes who share with them the life-changing message of the cross.

This is from their “Beliefs” section:

Believe in the eternal security of the true believer, but our focus is not a presentation of doctrine, only a simple presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Is not the “simple presentation of the Gospel” one also of doctrine?!? From whence does this “simple” presentation come? It had better come from the DOCTRINE of the Scriptures! If one does not present the doctrine of man’s depravity and transgression of God’s law, then he cannot persuade a man he’s worthy of only hell. If a man is not persuaded of that, or that he’s guilty of breaking God’s law, then what would the purpose be in repentance and faith? Notta!

A message from the President of the Power Team:

Although many competing strength-type ministries continue to pop up all over the country… one thing, one very important thing has stayed consistent over the years for The Power Team and that is RESULTS!

Is this Finneyism? Yes. Does this give a false sense of security to thousands upon thousands? Absolutely. This is the sad state of Evangelicalism today, hence the title of my post. Evanjellyfish. There is so much more junk on the website, but to be honest, I’ve wearied myself with just these few examples of the ignorance of mainline Evangelicalism. O, God, help us!