Tuesday, June 29, 2010

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones On Reaching Postmoderns With Christ?

In August 1967 D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preached a powerful sermon at Knox Presbyterian Church in Toronto, Canada. Update a few time-related references and this sermon could be preached next week—and be just as powerful and timely. This 55-minute sermon says so many good things that it's hard to outline!

The late Calvinistic Methodist (1899-1981) dismantled common fallacies of his day (and these fallacies are still with us). He challenged the notions of people of his day who believed that their age was different from previous ones so they had to be reached in a fundamentally new way. He curtly answered that the world is still just as lost as it ever was and is no different than when Paul preached to the pagans in the Roman Empire.

(I confess I find it rather smug for each succeeding generation to look at the previous ones and think they are more sophisticated, more educated and more complex than their elders and, hence, are more difficult to reach with the gospel. They forget one thing: it's humanly IMPOSSIBLE to reach anyone of any generation in any era controlled by any philosophical outlook, be it premodern, modern or postmodern. The gospel is the power of God who alone convicts sinners of their sin, without which no one would ever embrace the truth and so be saved. By each generation thinking they are harder to reach for Jesus than at earlier times just proves that they don't understand how difficult it really is. It is humanly impossible...always.)

He went—at length—into the importance of doctrine. One zinger that I love is when he pounded the pulpit twice and fired this salvo across the bow of Knox Presbyterian Church about apostolic preaching:
And may I say this in passing: you can't preach that in 20 minutes! I want to say this in the name of God—you Christian people have a great responsibility. You're in too much of a hurry to get home to your televisions. Give your preachers time! If they preach the gospel give them time! These mighty truths can't be declared in a few minutes. Let's look at them; let's glory in them! Let them speak to us! This is the apostolic message. And if you don't want to go on hearing about this I tell you in the name of God you're not a Christian—you've never been one!
The crowd audibly reacted to this exhortation. It registered!

Listen to it for yourself for free. Click on Not In Word Only to be blessed...and challenged.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

How Ted Haggard Taught Me Not to Be Exciting and Relevant

Yes, I've heard the news. But years ago Ted Haggard taught me not to be exciting or relevant. Let me explain.

Haggard published a book in 1995 entitled Primary Purpose. In it he drew a contrast between "comparative advertising" and "proactive advertising" for a local church. Haggard writes:
Comparative advertising encourages Christians to go from one church to the other.

Proactive advertising brings the gospel to unsaved people.

A pastor friend told me that his church promotional material were already proactive. "Well, let's look at them," I said.

He spent his entire promotional budget on Christian radio and television. His television ads said that his church offered "exciting services with practical, relevant Bible teaching."

Since he placed these ads on Christian television, he was really saying, "My church is more exciting than the one you go to," which is an encouragement to leave your church and begin attending his. If he placed these ads on secular radio, he would have to explain what "exciting services" means since most non-Christians can't even imagine what they view as "exciting" going on inside a church.

He also said that the church offered "practical, relevant Bible teaching" without realizing that this implies that the teaching of other churches is inferior.

Haggard, Ted. Primary Purpose: Making it Hard for People to Go to Hell From Your City. (USA: Creation House, 1995), 69.
Ted Haggard has a point and I've seen this attitude—wittingly or unwittingly—crop up on church websites. I remember coming across one sister Church of God's website years ago (not from my state). It made me uneasy; it gave me an unfavorable impression of the church. Why? Because it seemed they were trying so hard to look "cool" in the world's eyes by contrasting themselves from other churches—other congregations not as "cool" as themselves, of course. It seemed pitiful and it sickened me.

If one church tries to look impressive in the world's eyes at the expense of other churches then there is a huge problem. If one church feels the need to belittle other churches for "ratings" then that local body of believers isn't getting it: we are not in competition; there will always be plenty of sinners to go around!

The local church isn't supposed to be entrapped in culture. It isn't supposed to be "relevant." Rather, it is to be irrelevant, so to speak, that is, timeless, and counter-cultural as the prophetic voice of conscience and the Word of God.

As a preacher I don't want to be cool, exciting or relevant. I want to be a faithful minister of God's Word. That is radical enough...and I don't have to advertise myself as so. Just preach the Word and live the Gospel in the community. It will speak for itself.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Fathers Day!

Awakening Theology prays that each boy, man, father and patriarch is blessed on this day created to honor him. Let's be men of integrity that women look up to, men!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Seeking the Glory of God — D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

As I walked this morning I listened to a mp3 copy of one of D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones' sermons. He is preaching on revival which he describes as God revealing himself to people in his glory. I love this sermon! Listen to it for yourself.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

John Wesley: Momas Don't Let Your Clueless Babies Grow Up to Be Ministers

John Wesley was an opinionated man—really opinionated. It horrified him that clueless men in his day were ministers. In An Address to the Clergy he wrote:
And yet we see and bewail a still greater defect in some that are in the ministry. They want sense, they are defective in understanding, their capacity is low and shallow, their apprehension is muddy and confused; of consequence, they are utterly incapable either of forming a true judgment of things, or of reasoning justly upon anything. O how can these who themselves know nothing aright, impart knowledge to others? how instruct them in all the variety of duty, to God, their neighbour, and themselves? How will they guide them through all the mazes of error, through all the intanglements of sin and temptation? How will they apprize them of the devices of Satan, and guard them against all the wisdom of the world?
He went on to warn parents of clueless boys:
It is easy to perceive, I do not speak this for their sake; (for they are incorrigible;) but for the sake of parents, that they may open their eyes and see, a blockhead can never "do well enough for a Parson." He may do well enough for a tradesman; so well as to gain fifty or an hundred thousand pounds. He may do well enough for a soldier; nay, (if you pay well for it,) for a very well-dressed and well-mounted officer. He may do well enough for a sailor, and may shine on the quarter-deck of a man-of-war. He may do so well, in the capacity of a lawyer or physician, as to ride in his gilt chariot. But O! think not of his being a Minister, unless you would bring a blot upon your family, a scandal upon our Church, and a reproach on the gospel, which he may murder, but cannot teach.
John's view? If you are a blockhead then don't be a minister.

Thanks, John.

The Love of God by Frederick M. Lehman

If I have found a more beautiful poem/song on God's love I can't recall it. Frederick M. Lehman penned it by adapting it from, "the Jew­ish poem Had­da­mut, writ­ten in Ara­ma­ic in 1050 by Meir Ben Isaac Ne­hor­ai, a can­tor in Worms, Ger­ma­ny;" The Love of God's arrangement is from his daughter, Claudia L. Mays.

The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.

When years of time shall pass away,
And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
When men, who here refuse to pray,
On rocks and hills and mountains call,
God’s love so sure, shall still endure,
All measureless and strong;
Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—
The saints’ and angels’ song.

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints’ and angels’ song.

Elegant and beautiful. One would do well to memorize the poetry for meditation.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Why I Call Saints, Well, "Saints"

As I preach I often address the Christians listening to my sermon as saints. It bothers me when I hear a Christian refer to himself as a sinner, particularly so in a holiness church. It bothers me because I don't believe it is a biblical definition of himself—well, at least of a Christian. If he calls himself a sinner (because he's really good at it and is just telling the truth) then he needs to reevaluate his Christian profession.

In the New Testament Christians aren't called sinners. They are called saints. My ESV lists one occurrence for "saint" and a whopping 60 for "saints"! Both terms come from ἅγιος which means "holy one." A Christian is a saint, someone owned by God as his special possession and sacredly set apart for God's own use.

The word saint speaks both in terms of position and nature. We are saints/holy because we are owned by God and distinguished from the common, the profane, the unholy. We are also saints/holy in that, well, we are actually holy. We are clean. We are morally pure. As the Apostle Peter commands:
As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy."(1 Peter 1:14-16 ESV)
The New Testament does not declare Christians to be sinners. Now, someone may object, "Wait a minute! Paul called himself a sinner!" Let's examine the issue because I don't think that objection will stand when seen with some reason.
The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. (1 Timothy 1:15 ESV)
Yes, Paul called himself a sinner. But was he speaking in present tense or past? Put another way, was he referring to his apostolic life he was living currently or his life before Christ when he persecuted the Church? I believe a solid argument can be made that he was referring to the old, now theologically dead Rabbi Saul of Tarsus, not the new Paul the Apostle.

Why? Remember the two parts of the saint equation. A saint is a Christian owned by God. Also, a saint is holy not just in name but in character, in essence and actuality. Paul, himself, claimed to be blameless in holiness. Consider his prayer for the Thessalonians:
Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints. (1 Thessalonians 3:11-13 ESV)
Paul prayed that the Thessalonian Christians would have so much love for everybody (which is the essence of moral purity) that they would be "blameless in holiness." Note carefully that Paul already claimed to be in possession of this kind of love—"as we do for you"! Paul was claiming to be so filled with divine love that he was blameless in holiness.

Another incident. Paul told the Corinthians:
For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. (1 Corinthians 4:4 ESV)
At first that may seem like a contradiction to my point. Someone may counter, "Hey, Paul said that just because he wasn't aware of any sin it didn't automatically mean that he was, in fact, guiltless!" Granted. But let me ask you: how many contemporary Christians these days would say—with a straight face—that they weren't aware of anything against themselves? So many professing believers think sin is inevitable and unavoidable. Yet Paul said, "Nope; I can't come up with anything." Remarkable!

Paul said that Christians are freed from sin:
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. (Romans 6:1-2, 6-7, 11-14 ESV)
So, since Paul claimed that Christians are freed from sin, declared himself once to be "blameless in holiness" and another time said he wasn't aware of any sin in his life, do you think he would call himself a sinner? No, he knew he was a saint.

That's why I call saints, well, saints.

Why I Call Sinners, Well, "Sinners"

Some in the contemporary Church seem loathe to use sinner. It seems rather blunt, doesn't it? Old-fashioned? Impolite? Judgmental? Harsh? Puritanical? Legalistic? Yes, it can be used in all of those ways (and in the worst sense of those terms).

And yet "sinner" is biblical.

A quick check of the ESV—my preferred translation—with the e-Sword program reveals that "sinner" occurs 12 times in the New Testament and its plural, "sinners", occurs 29 times. Christ used, himself:
Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. (Luke 15:7 ESV)

And he answered them, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.
(Luke 13:2-3 ESV)
In the quotations above sinner/sinners is translated from ἁμαρτωλός which Joseph Thayer partially defines as:
1) devoted to sin, a sinner
1a) not free from sin
1b) pre-eminently sinful, especially wicked
1b1) all wicked men
1b2) specifically of men stained with certain definite vices or crimes
It's profoundly theological. Paul writes:
but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 ESV)
The unknown writer to the Hebrews says of Jesus:
For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. (7:26 ESV)
James, the half-brother of Jesus Christ, preaches:
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. (4:8-10 ESV)
The Apostle Peter warns:
For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And "If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?" (1 Peter 4:17-18 ESV)
Jude (Judah), another half-brother of Jesus, declares:
It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, "Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him." (1:14-15 ESV)
Don't be ashamed of the word sinner. It is biblical and descriptive of a person outside of a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Is it wrong to call sinners other things? No, lost is bibilical (Luke 19:10). The ESV has Paul using the word unbelievers 7 times and unbeliever 5 times (ἄπιστος). I have no problem with the Church talking about the unchurched or seekers, either.

I do have a problem, though, with the contemporary Church refusing to use the words sinner and sinners for fear people will get offended. Of course they will get offended! The only way for a person to become a Christian in the first place is to be offended! Paul reminds the Galatians:
But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. (5:11 ESV)
Paul was telling the Galatian Christians, "If I were still preaching Torah (Law observance) to people then Jews wouldn't be offended at my gospel. But the cross stares them in the face and it shows them what they are and how The Law is helpless to save themselves!" Before a person can be saved he has to know he is lost. Before a person can become a Christian he has to know he is a sinner.

The gospel (good news) first shouts to all: "You are a sinner! You aren't right with God! He's angry with your sin! You're going to hell for it for all eternity and it's all your fault!" It's only when a sinner—broken down by the Holy Spirit's conviction—bows his head and admits that it's true that he is ready for the next part: "The Son of God died on a Roman cross to take the punishment for your sins! He was buried and rose from the dead, proving his claims about himself were true! If you will surrender your entire life to him and ask his forgiveness he will give it to you!"

The Church needs to stop fearing people's rejection and start fearing their souls going to hell. Just tell the truth. Yes, tell it in love but tell it!

That's why I call sinners, well, sinners.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

"Wesley" Theatrical Trailer

I hadn't heard of this movie until I found this trailer at Wesleyan Arminian. How neat! I probably will have to purchase this DVD!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Understand These Books by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones and Understand My Passion

I love reading. Beyond the Bible many books and writers shape my philosophy of life and ministry. I would be far poorer a preacher, a biblical student and a person without the likes of John Wesley, D. A. Carson, Robert Shank, A. W. Tozer, John MacArthur, Russell Byrum, Kenneth E. Jones, etc. However, on different posts I have mentioned one man who turned my world upside down: the late Welsh physician-turned-preacher, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981). Besides being an expository preacher of high caliber, Lloyd-Jones saw trends decades ago that are plaguing the Church world today. Let me mention three books by him that were catalysts in my ongoing spiritual formulation:

Preaching and Preachers rocked my preaching world. It's not for the timid! Lloyd-Jones held über strong opinions; I don't subscribe to everything he wrote but he rebuked, exhorted, consoled and emboldened me by his unapologetic stand for expository preaching. In this series of printed lectures he diagnosed the spiritual malaise around him and how to address it.

Joy Unspeakable is a powerful defense for the infilling of the Holy Spirit subsequent (after) salvation. Lloyd-Jones wasn't a Wesleyan like me but a Welsh Calvinistic Methodist; however, he makes a convincing case for the need of more in the normal Christian life.

Revival is a series of sermons in which he pleads for the Church to pray for God to fall powerfully upon his saints; as a result of this Spirit infilling the sinners of the community will take note and be saved. It will change the community. Bars will close. Vice/crime will drop. God will move in demonstrable waves.

If you understand the basic thrust of these books you will understand the basic thrust of what gets me out of bed in the morning.

The God of War

As revealed in his Word God isn't nearly as squeamish about war as some of his children may make him out to be. In the rapturous joy after crossing the Sea (and Pharaoh and his army drowning) Moses sang:
The LORD is a man of war; the LORD is his name. (Exodus 15:3 ESV)
David declared that God made him a victorious soldier:
For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall. This God--his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him. "For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God? This God is my strong refuge and has made my way blameless. He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights. He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your gentleness made me great. You gave a wide place for my steps under me, and my feet did not slip; I pursued my enemies and destroyed them, and did not turn back until they were consumed. I consumed them; I thrust them through, so that they did not rise; they fell under my feet. For you equipped me with strength for the battle; you made those who rise against me sink under me. You made my enemies turn their backs to me, those who hated me, and I destroyed them. They looked, but there was none to save; they cried to the LORD, but he did not answer them. I beat them fine as the dust of the earth; I crushed them and stamped them down like the mire of the streets. (2 Samuel 22:30-43 ESV)
Isaiah prophesied in martial imagery:
The LORD goes out like a mighty man, like a man of war he stirs up his zeal; he cries out, he shouts aloud, he shows himself mighty against his foes. (Isaiah 42:13 ESV)
Who can forget the picture of the Pantokrator—The Overlord, the King-Messiah, found in Revelation?
Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:11-16 ESV)
However, some today believe that violence is wrong—for any reason. Historically they may call themselves pacifists or conscientious objectors. I don't believe that the government should revoke such a status. Indeed, historically some Church of God (Anderson) leaders have advocated a strong pacifist position but I think that while it was sincere it was misguided. In essence, it's asking others to do the fighting for them. It's telling others, "Take up your gun and shoot it for me; I won't fire upon tyranny." I'm not calling these conscientious objectors cowards; I'm simply calling them misguided. Scripture does not forbid the use of violence when rightly applied. Remember, David, himself, said God trained him for war.

And some evil just needs killin'.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Preach the Truth Plainly (and Bluntly)

John Wesley relates a preaching incident while in Ireland. His Journal reads for May 16, 1748:
Observing a large congregation in the evening and many strangers among them, I preached more roughly than ever I had done in Dublin on those awful words, “What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” [Mark 8:37]
If you as a preacher think the people need a good awakening from their sins then speak to them in words they cannot fail to understand. Don't beat around the bush—beat the bush! Let the Holy Spirit do his job of speaking within as you speak without.
Is not my word like fire, declares the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?(Jeremiah 23:29 ESV)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Must the Gospel and Christianity Be Revamped to Remain Effective Today?

I found a fascinating heavenly petition by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones on MLJ-USA.com. It is introduced as a prayer, "with which Dr. Lloyd-Jones opened one of the meetings at the Pensacola Theological Institute in August 1969."

Click here to play this prayer in his own voice

"O Lord our God, have mercy upon us. Forgive us especially, we pray thee again, for our folly - for our foolish talking about our century and the 'modern man', as if anything had changed.

Awaken us, we pray thee, and bring us to see that thy method is still the same, that the truth remains unchanged and unchanging, and that the power of the blessed Holy Spirit is in no sense diminished.

Lord, hear us. Revive thy work O Lord, thy mighty arm make bare. Speak with a voice that wakes the dead and make the people hear. And unto thee, and unto thee alone, shall we give all the praise and the honour and the glory, both now and forever, amen."

The Holy Spirit Moves in the Ambassador Sunday School class at Meade Station Church of God

I found this archived section in an August 9, 2009 newsletter from Meade Station Church of God, a church I attended as a teen as my father pastored the congregation. I post it for your enjoyment:
As someone in class said a few weeks ago as Max Bowling was teaching the class, it became clear that “Max had experienced a ‘God Moment’ the week before. Although the points had beenon the class board for several weeks, Max presented a vivid and moving review of the four points: (1) God hears (2) God sees (3) God cares, and (4) God responds. The emphasis was on the point that God always responds!

On July 12., Connie Burns confided in the class
that, although she had spent much time in
prayer and study on the lesson, she did not feel
that she had a lesson. Linda Tackett spoke up
and confessed that her heart was beating so
hard that she felt compelled to relate what had
happened after Max’s class. She was awakened
several times in the night and given the lines:

From the first time you cried
He was paying attention
From the first time you cried
He knew your need.
Though you feel He’s not listening
Or working it out,

Remember He loves you
And there is no doubt.
He’s been working His plan
From the first time you cried.

The tears flowed and the whole class was moved
to a greater depth of knowledge of just how
much God hears, sees, cares and has plans to
respond---in His time, not necessarily ours!
Then, on July 19, Max was to teach again. He
stated that although he hoped the class had
studied the lesson for the day, that was not the
lesson he planned to teach. God had given and
anointed a different lesson for Max to present--


From Mark 5:21-24, 35-43, he read the story
about Jesus restoring Jairus’ daughter to life.
Jairus was the elected ruler of the local
synagogue and as such had been pressured not to
support Jesus. But when Jairus met Jesus, he fell
at his feet, abandoning all forms of dignity and
pride, a daring act of respect and worship. As
Jesus was going home with Jairus, he was
delayed by the woman with the issue of blood.
He took time to see to her need of healing of the
body and the restoration of her dignity. By the
time they arrived at Jairus’ house, they received
word that the daughter had died. Jairus crisis
made him confused and afraid. Jesus told Jairus
not to be afraid, but to believe.

Believe what? Believe what is not logical.
Believe although it is difficult, hopeless, illogical.
Ignore the skeptics. The unbelievers. Jairus
decided to believe Jesus. Belief conquers fear,
worry and dread.

The next time you feel hopeless and afraid, look
at your problem from Jesus’ point of view. He is
the source of all hope and promise. God hears.
God sees. God cares. And God does respond. In
his perfect time.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Kimberly Majeski on God's Love

Recently AT examined the covenant love of God. Today Dr. Kimberly Majeski of Anderson University School of Theology examines some figurative language from Ezekiel 16 to appreciate God's love. Good stuff. (Okay, I don't like hearing or reading "B.C.E." instead of "B.C." but you know me...)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Steve Kreins' Nightmare That Changed His Ministry and Life

Vague Online Doctrinal Statements in the Church of God: Weak on Entire Sanctification

Trinity Evangelical Divinity School's D. A. Carson penned a small book some years ago—small in pages, not importance. Exegetical Fallacies is a catalog of ways to mess up understanding the Bible; we Christians are experts at it, too, from the new believer to the seasoned scholar. The title sounds stuffy but it is actually fun to read and, if a person is open to correction, it can help him avoid embarrassing blunders. The application takeaway value of Exegetical Fallacies is enormous.

Under the heading of Logical Fallacy number 15, "Fallacies based on equivocal argumentation" Carson makes an observation which is a particular peril for statements of faith. He writes:
Less commendable is that form of argumentation that earnestly seeks out the most ambiguous language possible in order to secure the widest possible agreement. Such statements are worthless, because they paper over honest differences. They mask more than they reveal; and they verge on the dishonest or disreputable, for they coerce apparent agreement where there is no real agreement.

[Carson, D. A. Exegetical Fallacies. (GRAND RAPIDS: Baker Books, 1996. Second Ed.), 119.]
Frankly, I see this problem with some written statements of faith on websites for Church of God (Anderson) congregations in the area of sanctification. We in the Church of God are Wesleyan; however, some online statements of belief are so vague that an honest seeker reading what some Church of God congregations have to say about it wouldn't know who we are.

Let me give you an example, first from my own website:
• I believe that Christians are to surrender to the Holy Spirit for a deeper work of grace called by different names: Christian Perfection, The Baptism of the Holy Spirit, Perfect Love, Entire Sanctification, Full Salvation, etc. This was made available by Christ's atoning work with provides for freedom from sin and is appropriated by an act of trust.
Pretty basic Wesleyan definition. However, many Churches of God have general statements about the Holy Spirit without mentioning entire sanctification. Can you tell these congregations are Wesleyan by reading such statements? Can someone browsing the online statements see the distinctive Wesleyan doctrine that characterizes the Church of God (Anderson)? The statements aren't heretical, just incomplete. A Baptist and a Pentecostal would agree with them—and as well they should because it's orthodox biblical doctrine. However, they don't go far enough to distinguish our doctrine from a Baptist or Pentecostal congregation.

Please hear me: I'm pleading for more concrete and plain doctrinal summations that allow others to see a Wesleyan congregation's distinctions from other evangelical churches. If I have been less than clear in my formulations online then I as well need to revise my own wording for the sake of honesty, transparency.

However, there well may be some churches who deliberately are as vague as possible because either they don't want to turn people away or don't consider doctrine that terribly important. This is tragic. Truth in advertising! And stand for something!

Postmodern Church Planting

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Man Who Dared to Challenge God — and Saw Revival

Highlander Duncan Campbell (1898-1972) was used of God in powerful revival in the Hebrides of Scotland. At one village the Christians opposed Campbell's message of entire sanctification and the evangelist had little success. He and others were in prayer one night but had no release until a young man dared to pray an audacious prayer. Listen to it for yourself, in Campbell's thick Scottish brogue. Click on the sermon, "Then the Fire of the Lord Fell" and forward it to 58:55 to hear the event and the results.

Was the young man presumptuous? Campbell didn't think so and neither do I. I believe the man—moved by the Holy Spirit's direction—prayed the prayer of humble faith, not arrogant presumption.

Leonard Ravenhill Critiques Contemporary Christianity

SermonIndex.com has a mp3 recording entitled, "Long Interview of Leonard Ravenhill by David Mainse". Ravenhill (1907-1994) left a lasting legacy of thirsting for genuine awakening. The blurb for the free download reads:
Description: This is a recording that includes 15 minute radio show interviews from the show "the chapel of the air" run by David Mains. David Mains interviews Leonard Ravenhill with the aim of first the local church then the seminaries then religion as seen and heard on television and radio. The underlining theme is revival throughout all of the conversations. Leonard Ravenhill did many phone interviews especially in times that he was recovering from sickness and was constrained from preaching but rather to stay in his home.
Saints, this is a barn-burner! It is well worth the time to listen to this preacher's view on revival and American Christianity's lamentable state. Do yourself a spiritual favor and listen to it today.