Empty Deceit and “Christian” Self-help

To the atheist, the conscience is the end product of a long line of evolutionary and social conditioning, so when it bothers them they are not really guilty of anything.  As James Sire puts it, they are really only guilty of guilt.  This is why we live in a culture of therapy.  The goal is to rid ourselves of the feeling of guilt instead of the guilt itself.  Unfortunately, we see this being translated into many churches as sin and the cross of Christ are ignored and replaced with a “Christian” self-help regimen.  So even under the name of Jesus, empty deceit can hold sway.

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.  -Colossians 2:8-

Doug Eaton

Application Without Exegesis: A Destructive Trend

Exegesis is foundational to understand scripture’s application to our lives. The problem is that many in the church want to hear the application without doing the work of the exegete. In many cases this has also been translated into the way many preachers preach. In order to keep congregants happy, they are given large amounts of life application with little if any scriptural content. This puts both the preacher and the congregant in a dangerous position, because now neither the preacher nor the churchgoer is tethered to the text. Two major problems can arise in the life of the church member because of this. First, even if the application of scripture is correct, when it is challenged by those who disagree, the church member is left defenseless when it comes to defending this truth biblically. And second, if the application is not truly derived from scripture, then the church member has been sold some kind self-help scheme as if were a “biblical principle.” And when this self help scheme eventually lets them down, not only will they be disappointed in the church, but they may even start to believe scripture is no longer trustworthy. This is indeed a destructive trend.

-Doug Eaton-

10 Ways Daily Bible Reading Will Enhance Corporate Worship

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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-

Are You Using God Given Gifts To Sin?

In the book of Hosea, God had strengthened the people and they turned around and used that strength to sin against Him. We do the same thing when we sin.

God Bless,

Doug

Suffering and Ministry: A Quote by Charles Spurgeon

This is a short quote by Charles Spurgeon to remind us that sometimes suffering is part of our ministry.

“One Sabbath morning, I preached from the text, `My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?’ and though I did not say so, yet I preached my own experience. I heard my own chains clank while I tried to preach to my fellow-prisoners in the dark; but I could not tell why I was brought into such an awful horror of darkness, for which I condemned myself. On the following Monday evening, a man came to see me who bore all the marks of despair upon his countenance. His hair seemed to stand up right, and his eyes were ready to start from their sockets. He said to me, after a little parleying, “I never before, in my life, heard any man speak who seemed to know my heart. Mine is a terrible case; but on Sunday morning you painted me to the life, and preached as if you had been inside my soul.” By God’s grace I saved that man from suicide, and led him into gospel light and liberty; but I know I could not have done it if I had not myself been confined in the dungeon in which he lay. I tell you the story, brethren, because you sometimes may not understand your own experience, and the perfect people may condemn you for having it; but what know they of God’s servants? You and I have to suffer much for the sake of the people of our charge….You may be in Egyptian darkness, and you may wonder why such a horror chills your marrow; but you may be altogether in the pursuit of your calling, and be led of the Spirit to a position of sympathy with desponding minds.”

-Charles Spurgeon-

“You Follow Calvin? Well, I Follow Christ!”

Some people think that using labels like Calvinism or Arminianism is wrong.  After all, shouldn’t we follow Christ, not men or schools of thought?  This video takes a look at these questions.

Four Pitfalls for “Relevant” Pastors to Avoid

There are many pastors that seem to have lost their way a bit by following hard after some kind of “seeker” or “emergent” model. They have such a desire for growth and relevance that they have lost their relevance, which makes their growth questionable. With them in mind, here are four common pitfalls which must be avoided by pastors who desire real growth and relevance. In other words, these are things they should not do.

1. Think that church is about reaching the lost at the expense of feeding the sheep, because you have failed to realize that a church of mature Christians can accomplish more for Christ than one shepherd with malnourished sheep.

2. If you do decide to go deeper into the scriptures for those in your church who hunger for it, give them a class on a weeknight night, because you mistakenly believe that the Lord’s Day is not for the Lord’s people, and instead think it is for giving the unregenerate things that will keep them entertained.

3. In order to emphasize relationship and de-emphasize the commands of God, argue that sin is not breaking rule, it is betraying a relationship, because you failed to understand that you cannot betray a relationship unless there are rules to relationships. Then proceed to make up new principles on how relationships are betrayed that have nothing to do with the word of God.

4. Believe that the church needs to be more experiential and less doctrinal, and think that experience is found by manipulating the lighting, music, and dramatic pauses, because you have forgotten that the word of God can cut to the heart with surgical precision and can comfort its wounds like a soothing balm.

I am sure there are plenty more, but these four seem to plague many churches. My prayer is that all pastors and their churches will experience growth and be relevant, but we must remember that a packed house does not necessarily indicate spiritual health. All we have to do is look at many sporting events or concerts to realize the using natural things to appeal to the natural man can fill a house. The Gospel and the word of God are what are relevant to a sinful world, and to sheep who desire to grow. May we all “preach the word.”

God Bless,

Doug