Wednesday, June 7, 2017

John 3:16, for God so Loved the World?

John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life." What a great single-verse summary of the gospel! But even though this one verse stands true on its own, there is still a context that we must consider.

Jesus was talking to Nicodemus, a Pharisee who recognized by the miracles He did that Jesus was sent from God: "This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, 'Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him" (John 3:2).

But Nicodemus didn't get the things Jesus taught, even though Jesus referenced the prophets to show they wrote about Him. Jesus said, "Aren't you the teacher of Israel and you do not understand?" So He gave another example: "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him has eternal life" (John 3:14-15).

"For God so loved the world," that He sent His Son. See, Nicodemus thought that the Messiah the prophets talked about was coming to save the Jews. Jesus used this story from Moses, when God sent serpents to punish the people for their sin (Numbers 21:4-9), to foreshadow how God would deliver from His wrath a people that would include every tribe, tongue, and nation on earth.

That is what is meant by "For God so loved the world." It doesn't mean every person in the world. It means more than just Jews. And in both verses 15 and 16, the qualifier is "whoever believes" will be saved and have eternal life.

The love of God the Father includes people from every nation, that He gave His Son as a sacrifice for the sins of His people, whoever believes in the person and work of Jesus Christ, that they would be saved from the wrath of God and have eternal life. So take this gospel message to every nation that they would believe and be saved when we understand the text!

Monday, May 29, 2017

What if You Witnessed a Verifiable Miracle?

Today's charismatic gatherings are not producing the kinds of miracles the apostles did. Instead of being obvious supernatural signs like we read about in the New Testament, their own teachers have to admit it's mostly fake.
"In the last twenty years, I have concluded: in manifestation meetings all over the world -- and again, I've been to several thousand of them, a couple thousand at least -- that eighty percent of them are not real, but twenty percent of them are." Mike Bickle, founder of the charismatic International House of Prayer in Kansas City, MO.
They're more fake than that, but I digress. Let's say you attended one of these gatherings, and you did witness a verifiable miracle or vision or prophecy. Would that confirm these teachers actually have the apostolic gifts? Deuteronomy 13 says this:
"If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, 'Let us go after other gods,' which you have not known, 'and let us serve them,' you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear Him and keep His commandments and obey His voice, and you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him.

"But that prophet or dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst." Deuteronomy 13:1-5
That doesn't mean he should be dragged out to the parking lot and stoned. But if he doesn't repent, he'll receive a far worse sentence on the day of judgment.

What's more serious than false miracles is teaching a false gospel. And many of these teachers do, claiming the gospel is health and wealth. Do not follow them, or the judgment on their head will also be on yours, when we understand the text.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

God Told Me...?

Hebrews 1:1-2 says, "Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom also He created the world."

That's something to keep in mind any time someone says that God told them something. Everything we could ever want to hear God say has already been said in the Bible. God spoke through His prophets who gave us the Old Testament. And in these last days, He has spoken through His Son Jesus Christ, whose apostles gave us the New Testament.

Now the Bible is not just a record of what God said in the past. When we read the book of Hebrews, the writer quotes the Old Testament as something that God is saying to us right now:
"Of the angels He says, 'He makes His angels winds, and His ministers a flame of fire.' But of the Son he says, 'Your throne O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom." Hebrews 1:7-9
We read in Hebrews 4:12 that "the word of God is living and active." God does speak to us. He speaks through the Scriptures. He does not speak to us through visions or inner voices.

If a person says to you, "God told me..." what comes next should be a passage from the Bible. Otherwise, what they're claiming is that the subjective voice they heard in their head is equally as reliable and authoritative as the Bible.

Proverbs 28:26 says, "Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool." Proverbs 3:5 says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding." Psalm 119 says that God's word is firmly fixed. It is by His word we can test all other words.

As Justin Peters has said, if you want to hear God speak to you, read the Bible. If you want to hear him speak to you out loud, read the Bible out loud. We hear the very word of God when we understand the text!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

What is Theology?

There's a word you won't find in your Bible, yet you'll find the subject all over your Bible: theology. What does theology mean? Augustine was perhaps the first to use the word, theologia in both Greek and Latin, which he defined as "reasoning or discussion concerning the Deity."

Now, people often say things like, "Well, I'm a spiritual person, but I'm just not theological." "I love the Bible, but I'm not interested in theology." "Don't give me theology, just give me Jesus!" They make these statements because they're ignorant about theology -- or what the word even means!

Rick Warren's Saddleback Church shared this: "Jesus never let His theology get in the way of His ministry." (Huh?) Andy Stanley instucts pastors to "Separate theology from ministry." (What?) And apologist William Lane Craig said, "We're not doing theology. We're doing apologetics." (D'oh!)
"When you separate theology from ministry, you liberate your ministry and have better theology." Andy Stanley at Catalyst, April 22, 2016. (No, Andy.)
If you are opening your mouth and talking about God, you are being theological. If your theology is not grounded in biblical orthodoxy, in other words right teaching, you might be a heretic. The Bible tells us to study theology. Specifically, the Bible tells us to study right theology.
"Everyone is a theologian." R.C. Sproul
Paul told Timothy, "Charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith" (1 Timothy 3:1-5).

"If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing" (1 Timothy 6:3-4), when we understand the text.

Friday, February 3, 2017

The Shack vs. the Bible?

The Shack, a novel by William Paul Young, has sold over 20 million copies and has been made into a feature film. It's about a man whose daughter was murdered, leading him to ask why a loving God would allow such evil. He returns to the place where she died and meets God as a woman who goes by Papa, the Holy Spirit, also a woman, and Young's version of Jesus. Though The Shack is fiction, it teaches unbiblical ideas Young said he believes about God:
"Please don't misunderstand me. The Shack is theology, but it is theology wrapped in a story." William Paul Young in the introduction to The Shack Revisited by C. Baxter Kruger.
He believes God the Father was crucified with Jesus (pg. 96 of The Shack), a heresy called patripassianism that was condemned in the 3rd century. The Son of God was crucified on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins, absorbing the wrath of God the Father.
"Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush Him; He has put Him to grief." Isaiah 53:10
"Jesus cried out with a loud voice, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'" Matthew 27:46
Young's version of Jesus says that He's the best way to have a relationship with God (pg. 110). But the Bible says He is the only way to God.
"Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'" John 14:6
Young's Jesus teaches that God submits to us (pg. 145). Psalm 2 says God laughs at such pride and holds them in derision. He opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble. God submits to no one, but we are to submit to Him.
"God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God." James 4:6-7
Young's god says that he places no expectations on us (pg. 206). But God clearly commands that we turn from our sin and obey His Son, Jesus Christ. Those who do have eternal life. Those who don't are under His wrath.
"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him." John 3:36
Young's god says that all people are his children (pg. 118) and that he has forgiven the sins of every person (pg. 225). But the Bible says only those in Christ are His adopted sons and daughters. Those who do not believe are children of wrath and their father is the devil.
"Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of the promise." Galatians 2:28

"And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience, among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind." Ephesians 2:1-3

"Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies." John 8:43-44
The Shack contains a false gospel and teaches only wrong things about God. We know the Spirit of truth from the spirit of error when we understand the text.
"We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error." 1 John 4:6