Inclusivity May end up being Exclusive

Jesus is considered by scholars such as Weber ...

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The church practices and supports the work of evangelism to reconcile people to God through Jesus.  In the past several decades growth movements have done much to focus the church on evangelism.  Many churches have restructured their weekly services to focus on those that have not accepted Christ.  Many organizations have also put effort into reviewing language, presentations and their image to find ways to avoid placing stumbling blocks in front of those that haven’t accepted Christ.  It is a good idea to identify what might constitute a stumbling block and remove them (1 Cor 14:16) because the Church is not to be of the World but it is still in the world and is called to communicate to those in the World.  This scope has been extended by many to include looking for ways to build bridges to various groups.  Many times these methods attempt to identify doctrines and understandings of the bible that may be thought of as non-essential and that are objectionable to the world and then either down play, repackage, obscure, or list as one of several alternatives interpretations.  All this to hopefully bring the world to the realization that “God gave us salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ”.  But, what does it mean “God gave us salvation through his Son”.   I believe this entails a submission or yielding to Christ as Lord not just an acceptance of Him as savior.

Romans 10:9-10
9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

Keeping this in mind; as we attempt to build bridges how do we decide what is essential and what isn’t?  This goes beyond the question of what we present as being essential but within the church itself what we believe and teach as truth.   Scripture tells us to make our calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10)  but how sure are we if we keep questioning what scripture says or keep saying its unclear?  This is why I feel the church has to take a stronger stance on biblical creationism along with other issues and not back down for fear that it might turn some people off.  If the creation story were merely a story of beginnings and men’s rejection of God occurred later then it wouldn’t be of such concern.  But the fall which is pivotal to the need for the Cross takes place in the story of creation.  Coming to unbelievers while we have the fall of man now placed on the shaky uncertain ground of the allegorical leaves us with a calling which becomes shaky.   If faith is our certainty but we say we are uncertain about how it all began and yes God has a story but we think God’s version of the beginning might be inaccurate then what else in scripture is inaccurate?  Are we yielded to Christ if we keep looking for ways to deal with what we find objectionable in scripture?

The other aspect of accepting Christ as Lord and making our election sure is that we shouldn’t just assume that a confession of faith means a person is saved.  The growth movements focuses on getting people in and believes that once we get their signature, their buy in we don’t have much to worry about, if they are in they are in, once saved always saved.  But what is interesting is that Matthew 7 it says “Enter through the narrow gate; for the way is wide that leads to destruction..”  Many assume that Jesus is talking to the world but in the context v21 it says “Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord Lord” will enter the kingdom..”  So this passages is talking to the church.  Of those who accept Christ and are part of the Church few of those will enter the kingdom.  Our evangelism and methods in the church of just getting people in is too small and eventually may leave many out because we didn’t want to ruffle feathers by standing upon the Word and having faith inexorably in the Word and what the Word says and holding those in the church to believing the Word.  The church should consider this as it structures itself or it will risk too much.
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Rethink Evangelism

Last year a good friend of mine, Paul, sent me a link to a video entitled “Regeneration vs the Idolotry of Decisional Evangelism”. I found this video most thought provoking. It seems that in the last century the gospel in America has become something different from what it originally was in church history. I feel that Paul Washer makes his case and shows good reason to be concerned. I would commend this video to all Christians for prayerful consideration. I have also taken some notes from the video on an alternative method for sharing the gospel

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Confession of Faith

I accept as true that God has created man in His own image for a relationship with Himself. Even while knowing that man would rebel against His rightful authority God gave us the choice to obey and find life in Him or to disobey and be separated from God and as a result fall into bondage to sin and death. I have inherited a nature prone to sin and rebellion; I am responsible for what I have received and what I do with what I have inherited. I believe that this sin nature extended to all aspects of my being and as an extensive property (not intensive) constituted total depravity.

I believe that God transcends anything imaginable in the universe He created and that God is wholly self-aware and aware of His right to exaltation. God being perfectly whole in every aspect of His being both loved us and established that His own glory would be served by providing the means of redemption and justification. Therefore, Jesus, being the first born and exact representation of God and His Glory in time and space; the Word, authority, and righteous standard in the cosmos alone could fulfill the requirement of holiness on our behalf. Our efforts and choices are not able to achieve the righteousness of God; so God in His providence established a people, Israel, to be custodians of His Word, law and the promise of His coming. Time and time again we prove that regardless of prosperity, culture, organization, education … that failure is inevitable. Then in the fullness of time the first born of creation emptied Himself into the body of man and choosing the foolish, weak, the outcast to show us that it is His glory, not ours. Rejecting the King of Glory I desired His death and yet it was the will of God the Father to crush Him (Isa 53:5,10) , but He became the sacrifice for my sins and overcame death so that I might have life and enter into a new promise.

I believe that we are deficient to understand or seek God of our own accord. We may seek the benefits that can only be found in God but are at the same time trying to avoid God having in our depravity become enemies of God. (Romans 3:9-12, Romans 5:10) I believe that only through the power of the Holy Spirit mediated in and through the Word of God and the testimony of faith (Luke 12:12, John 14:26, Romans 10:17) that the eyes of our heart are then opened to understand the significance of the truth of God’s Glory, our lostness and His promise and provision to which we have a choice to respond (John 6:44, Acts 16:14). Our response is one of submission through repentance and faith. Repentance is the revision of my judgment and a change in my plan of action. (Luke 24:45-47, 2 Co 7:10, 2 Pe 3:9) Repentance, though necessary, is not meritorious but a condition for receiving the gracious gift of pardon which God gives of His goodness. It is a choice I have made not to clean up my act, but a change of mind about my principles, perspectives and practices and a purpose for change. In faith I am convinced that Jesus is the son of the living God who took on human flesh, was tempted in every way that I am and yet without sin was crucified and died for my sins. I trust that through his death I am redeemed and that through His resurrection I receive His justification for the purpose of an eternal inheritance; eternal life. I am under the conviction that eternal life means that my greatest most expectant hope is that God will be more then I can ever imagine and to glorify Him and enjoy an ever advancing relationship with Him starting now and into eternity is the greatest aspiration in all creation (John 3:17, Romans 8:18-19) . I believe that through repentance and faith, trusting in the cross, banking on His sufficiency, I am forgiven and through profession of Jesus Christ as my Lord I am saved (Romans 10:9-10). Profession is recognition and the intentionality of commitment which entails the accomplishment of commitment (James 2:18) but does not require it and is therefore not meritorious for the power to achieve it not my own but from the Holy Spirit (Philippians 2:12-13). This commitment is ultimately to be a child of God under the Lordship of Christ.

I consider neither suffering nor success worth comparing to the glory which is to be revealed (Philippians 3:8, Romans 8:18). I count all loss for the sake of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I do not desire at any time to so much as breath apart from Christ. For He is my hope, my portion, my never failing riches; all that binds me to eternity, all that binds me inexorably to the Father!


R. C Sproul,  “Contending for the Truth – Questions and Answers” , Disc 5 of 5, Ligonier Ministries 2007 National Conference.

“Packer, J. I. Knowing God. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1973. 80-80. Print.

Tozer, A. W. Knowledge of the holy the attributes of God : their meaning in the Christian life. New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 1992. 129. Print.

“The Westminster Shorter Catechism”,  Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, 2004, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/anonymous/westminster1.html

Schaff, Philip (1819-1893), “The Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians”, The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, reprint 2001, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.v.ii.html

Recapture the Compelling Message

Retracing Our Steps

Peter Proclaims the Good News

The good news of what Jesus Christ has done on the cross has gone out. The message of repentance, redemption and reconciliation has transformed the world and continues to do so. Yet in some places and settings the impact of the gospel appears to have become stalled, aged, maybe even dull. Nations that have been labeled “post-Christian” come to mind. Our own country’s adoption of progressive ideas that have marked the path of many “post-Christian” nations press upon my thoughts.  Maybe at times even in our own life the message does not feel fresh.

If you ask my wife she will tell you that I am prone to misplace things. I tend to feel that others move them around on me but that’s an argument…er, ah discussion for another time. When it occurs that I misplace something sometimes I find it effective to retrace my steps. When I make a wrong turn and get lost I have had to back track. When I loose myself I reflect upon where I’ve been and where I was going. Whether we personally feel that our faith and hope is week or less effective or corporately find ourselves ineffective, out-of-touch, warren… it can be helpful to back track.  If the message doesn’t seem fresh or compelling to the world around us then why not back track to when the message truly was fresh, new, vibrant, irresistible. Being a little peculiar myself I went a step further and read a passage of Scripture backwards, while hanging upside down. Ok, no, not really but I did start with a verse in the middle of chapter and back tracked from paragraph to paragraph asking why before each step back. I have been a christian for a while but what I found was none the less moving and I hope that it might help others and the Church refocus. Read more of this post