T4G C. J. Mahaney: Ordinary Pastors

Here are my notes from the last session of the T4G 2010 conference, a gracious exhortation from C. J. Mahaney to pastors based on 2 Timothy 4:

Some pastors are remarkable gifts to the church, with massive intellects and unusual insights, but most of us are ordinary pastors with ordinary gifts & ordinary areas of spheres and abilities to serve. We’re consistently preaching average sermons Sunday after Sunday, without writing best selling books or having thousands downloading our sermons from around the world or being recognized as we walk down the street. All of us are called and gifted, but not unusually so. But ordinary pastors are predictably tempted to unfavorably compare themselves to these unusual men, and become discouraged. Too often ordinary pastors are discouraged pastors.

To combat this temptation and discouragement, we must turn to a true definition, a true charge, of pastoral ministry. It’s not about gifting or even fruitfulness: all we are called to be is faithful to this charge.

Three Ways a Pastor Can Be Faithful To His Call

One: Be Faithful to the Message 2 Timothy 4:2

Never assume your people have an exhaustive knowledge of the Gospel.

You must resolve to be UNoriginal to remain fixed on the matter of first importance, the Gospel.

The simple Gospel might not look like much, (like one pastor’s first car ( a pink 1957 Ford)), but there is power under the hood. You can say “I can do this! I can preach this Gospel!”

Once Charles Spurgeon’s grandfather remarked, “My grandson may preach the Gospel better than I can, but he cannot preach a better Gospel.”

Faithfulness to the message requires knowing your people, using pastoral wisdom and discernment. That is what Paul means by reprove, rebuke, exhort. You cannot prepare your teaching in isolation from your flock.

Pastoral ministry requires complete patience (verse 2). If we are not patient with our people then we are not being faithful to this charge. Don’t let faith in your people become frustration with your people.

How do you cultivate patience? 1. By marveling at God’s patience with you. 2. By realizing sanctification is a loooong process. 3. By marveling that people who heard you last week actually are coming back to hear you this week. 4. By realizing that many of God’s metaphors are based on agriculture, on timespans of seasons & years. 5. By not assuming you are sufficiently patient.

Two: Be Faithful to your Ministry 2 Timothy 2:5

We are called to relentless faithfulness, today, tomorrow, every day, for all your life.

One of the hardest and most crucial tasks for any ministry is just to keep doing the same things year after year, instead of being distracted by doing “new” or “better” things.

Three: Be Faithful to the Savior 2 Timothy 2:8

Look forward with an eternal perspective to your reward as an ordinary pastor.

On that Day there will be a parade of ordinary pastors, who you have never heard of, who will hear Christ say, “Well done, good & faithful pastor.”

For further reading: Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor: The Life and Reflections of Tom Carson by D. A. Carson

T4G Joshua Harris: Dug Down Deep

This afternoon’s session at the T4G 2010 Conference was by Josh Harris, pastor & author, based on his new book Dug Down Deep: Helping Others Build Their Lives on Christ-Centered Doctrine.

Evangelical Christianity in America today is now characterized as moralistic,therapeutic deism. People think it’s all about doing good things, getting their problems fixed, under the eye of a benevolent but uninvolved God.

The question is: What are we going to do about it? What is our reaction?

Do we see the contemporary Christian landscape as sheep without a shepherd who need the truth?

As we look at luke 6, we see that Jesus faced the same sort of problem that we face today, people who call Him Lord but do not do the things He said. People do not know the Gospel, so they don’t know how to apply the reality of the Gospel to their lives.

What did Jesus do with these people? He spoke grace to them, shepherded them, and that is what we are called to do. Pastors, don’t study Barna, study your people, the individual people that God has brought to you. Here are four points as you shepherd your people in the life-transforming reality of the Gospel.

One: Tell Them Simply

When Jesus spoke to the immature, He spoke simply. Don’t preach your message for fellow pastors. You can feed a child a steak, but if you love him you will cut it up into bite sized pieces.

Two: Tell Them Why

Let them know the real benefits of a transformed life. You can do this without pandering to selfishness. Tell them why doctrine matters to real life. Tell them the storms are coming to their lives, and what they believe about God & Jesus will make all the difference. Show them that we are all theologians. Make them confront the questions: Do you see the foundation you are building on? Do you see how you will be swept away if you keep clinging to your incorrect beliefs about yourself & God?

Three: Tell Them How

The parable of the two houses in Luke 6 shows us a three step process that we should teach and model:

Step One: Come to Jesus– make it clear there is no solid foundation except in the person & work of Jesus. The point of all theological doctrine is to know and obey this Person. Not ritual or rule keeping or anything else: all else is sand. Jesus is the Rock.
What are the popular false foundations in your church, the things that people functionally stake their lives on, have confidence in, even if they would say that Jesus is their Lord? Ask people: What is special about our church? It probably reveals your false foundation. In reality, nothing makes us special, all we have is Christ. Christ is the only foundation. Are we training our people to be most passionate about their relationship with Jesus?

Step Two: Listen to His Words– We serve a God Who speaks. People want to separate doctrinal truth and relational intimacy into two tracks, but correct doctrine is relational. There is no relationship without knowing God. If you want to feel deeply, you must think deeply. The narration of the facts is history; the narration of the facts with the interpretation of the facts is doctrine.

Step Three: Put His Words into Practice– we often see people with foundations of sand as people who do not KNOW doctrine, but Jesus says it is people who do not FOLLOW doctrine.

What do people see as the word picture of sound doctrine? A fight, a trophy? Or building?

Doctrine is for building your life. It has to be put into practice. Doctrine doesn’t end when people shut their Bibles and walk out of the church building.

That’s why Paul said, “Watch your life & your doctrine closely.”. Your life must be a testimony to the importance of sound doctrine.

Four: Tell Them Compassionately

We often learn to rebuke like Jesus but not love like Jesus.

Will we gently and compassionately show them the importance of digging down deep?

Will we be an example with our lives?

My life was changed because I had a pastor (C. J. Mahaney) that not only taught sound doctrine, but lived it and showed me his life, his house that he had built on sound doctrine.

There is a whole generation of churchgoers who have not seen a life based on a solid foundation, lived with humility and integrity.

They need to see such a life, they need someone who will let them inside their house, jump on the floor and see that it really is firm, to see that it stands in the worst of storms. They need to see the value and goodness of building their life on Jesus Christ.

Will you be that person?

T4G: Notes on John MacArthur The Theology of Sleep

Mark Chapter 4:26-29 The Theology of Sleep

My confidence is in the Lord & in His power, not in me.

The thinking that more persuasive words and ingenuity result in more conversions inevitably result in adjusting (and eventually corrupting) the Gospel.

Even though massive crowds followed Jesus, only a few were true believers. In Luke 13:23 one of his disciples even asked about so few being saved. That’s how the flesh always responds to evangelistic disappointment, that somehow the fault must be ours, maybe we are out of touch, maybe we aren’t responding to their needs, we’ve got to change, somehow we’ve got to overcome the sinner’s resistance by repackaging the message.

Entrepreneurial types attempt to change the results by changing the message.

The wonder of the gospel is this: you sow the seed, you go to sleep, and it grows. (Mark 4:27)

The thief on the cross saw a beaten, rejected, half naked dying man on a cross, and believed. There was nothing impressive or convincing in that moment. The only explanation is the Spirit of God. There is no human explanation for the thief’s change of mind, heart & will. In my mind that is the greatest human conversion moment in the New Testament.

We may be the means but we are not the power. We are the secondary agency.

Spiritual regeneration is divinely automatic, but there are certain attitudes that must be present in evangelism: humility, obedience, diligence, confidence.

Humility– in parable of sower there is coming a massive supernatural harvest (100 fold is way beyond humanly possible yields). Note there are no adjectives to describe the sower. No qualifications. There’s nothing in the story about the sower, he just throws the seed. The story is not about the sower.

The seed– the harvest cannot happen without the Gospel. Why did Jesus tell people not to tell people about healings, not to tell people He was the messiah, because the Gospel isn’t miracles, it is the Gospel that Jesus was crucified and risen for our sins, and after that happened Jesus commanded them to preach it to all, for it is the power of God for salvation (Romans 1)

So, the sower isn’t important, you can’t change the seed? What about the soil? Do you try to change the soils? You can’t. So I don’t ever appeal to the emotions or will, because the fallen human soul is a “fertile ground for religiosity”. I always appeal to the mind, to their understanding.

Joy is no indication of saving faith.

True conversion is marked by broken hearted love for God. (Edwards)

Obedience: Parable of the lamp: We are humble because we know we cannot change the heart, only God’s light can. We are obedient because we are the means by which the light comes.

We don’t have the power to change hearts, but we have the responsibility to shine the light that changes hearts.

Diligence: those who sow sparingly reap sparingly. Your usefulness and your eternal reward is proportionate to your diligence.

Confidence: we know that God has already determined the outcome, that the Kingdom will grow & flourish. (parable of mustard seed)

T4G: The Gospel & Culture

This morning’s first session was taught by Thabiti Anyabwile. He introduced himself by saying: My name Thabiti means “Who’d I tick off to get the 8am time slot?”

Christianity transforming culture is an important & huge idea, but one fraught with complexities and ambiguities and pitfalls.

How do we define culture? What type of culture are trying to influence or engage? Pop, ethnic, political, high, or all of the above?

What is the objective? How do we define when we’ve been successful?

Are these even the right questions? Is engaging the culture even something we’ve been called to do?

While we’re busy engaging the culture, we may miss the more fundamental mission of embodying the Gospel.

Paul’s Purpose

His purpose– Colossians 1:24-29 Make the Word of God fully known in order to present the entire church whole, mature in Christ

Paul repeatedly refers to his purpose throughout his epistles

But Paul warns that there can be types of teaching, ministry that sound right but are wrong, making us think that the Gospel is about something other than Paul’s purpose.

How do we prevent such “mission drift?” by ruthlessly rooting our purpose in the Gospel message, in the Scriptures themselves.

Paul writes primarily to the church, not the culture, the redeemed, not the unredeemed.

Paul always pushes the Gospel to its radical implications to the redeemed (like to Philemon), not to a Roman official.

He engages the culture by engaging the church.

Paul’s Philosophy

How do we get people rooted & grounded in Christ (Colossians 2:6-7)? The simple answer is the Gospel (2:9-15). We need no other philosophy or ideas.

The basic question: are we captured by Christ or captured by the world’s ideas? (Colossians 2:8). Paul sets the Gospel over & against the ideas of the world, it is a Biblical antithesis. There is a dangerous tendency to underestimate the influence of the world on us as we attempt to engage it. Satan is always trying to make the world look innocuous, that there is a spiritually safe, neutral ground between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world. James 4. Friendship with the world is enmity with God. 1 John 2 Do not love the world Romans 12 do not be conformed to the world

A Christian who is unaware of the dangers of the culture is being de-Christianized by the forces of the culture.

Paul’s Practices

Colossians 2:16-23 do not let any religious or cultural practices become your standard, but only Christ.

Every human culture is fundamentally apostate. We are all saved from the apostate culture we were in, and we should be like snakes shedding our old skin of culture.

What does it mean to be God’s people? Does it not mean that God gives us a new culture, a way of acting, relating, being? That is what God did with Abraham and his people. Did that process stop with the people of Israel? Look at what God did in the book of Acts with the church.

Paul is saying, “We were culturally Jews, that was our culture, our practice, but now our practice is Christ.”

Accommodating the Gospel to any culture by necessity must diminish the Gospel.

The true church is multiethnic but not multicultural.

Paul’s Perspective

Colossians 3:1-3 set your minds on Christ, not on things of the earth

Earthly gaze results in earthly living, Christward gaze results in Christlike living.

T4G Al Mohler: Trajectories Toward an Adjusted Gospel

Ok, I promised myself I would not try to blog any of the presentations at the Together For the Gospel 2010 Conference today and instead just focus on listening.  BUT…. Al Mohler’s presentation tonight was so full of good information, and I took so many notes, and I thought, “I want to write this down, and there’s just too much information I want to share with people, and it won’t fit on just a facebook status update, and….”  So…. here we go…

Tonight’s presentation by Dr. Al Mohler focused on recognizing some of the different ways that the Gospel, Biblical Christianity, gets off track.  Just like an airplane can get off track, on a wrong trajectory, and end up crashing, the Gospel message, a person, or a church can also get off trajectory, subtly at first, but eventually with disastrous results.  Here is his taxonomy of the different trajectories toward an adjusted, altered, and eventually wrecked Gospel.  Everything in “quotes” are exact or nearly exact quotes from Mohler, the rest is my summation and paraphrase of his points.

Modern Theology

Liberal theology, neo-orthodoxy, and the like, where in the name of logic and rationalism the Gospel is stripped of anything supernatural.  It is “demythologized” so that it can be believed by “modern” man.  The result is that “theological liberals want to rescue Christianity, but they instead end up burying it.”

Post-Modern Theology

In contrast to modernists that want to establish that Biblical theology is false, post modernists reject objective truth altogether, so that Biblical truth is neither true nor false, but simply has subjective value.  “Truth” is considered to be of value simply in its metanarrative meaning.  While Biblical theology’s cognitive doctrine is concerned with objective truth, and liberal theology is concerned with existential emotion and experience, post-moderns see doctrine as merely a cultural linguistic system to hold meaning, which can twist and shift into anything they want it to be.

Moral Theology

These philosophers are repulsed by Biblical concepts such as hell, depravity, & atonement, so they appeal that there is a “higher morality” than the so-called primitive systems of Christianity.  C. S. Lewis referred to this as “chronological snobbery.”  (that just because something is ancient that it is inferior) In essence, these philosophers demand that God conform to their own notion of fairness.  However, as Dr. Mohler points out, “People want God to be fair, but “Perfect” is infinitely superior to fair, & Perfect cannot be interrogated by fair.” (meaning that our imperfect limited concept of fairness as fallen finite humans cannot judge the fairness of an infinite perfect being)

Therapeutic Theology

Where we only find ourselves as sick, but not sinful, and the Bible is self-help, but not a source of external rescue from hopeless depravity.

Pragmatic Theology

Ever since Genesis 3 when Adam & Eve tried to make coverings of fig leaves, we have always tried to fix things our way instead of beginning with God’s way.  The pragmatists battle cry is “Let’s solve it! Let’s get results!”  Truth ends up not being a foundation but only a tool to obtain the desired result.  Managerial expertise and methods can produce apparent and quickly gratifying results, but “It produces crowds, but not churches, results, but not regenerations.”

Emotional Theology

When we lean toward teachings and experiences that have positive emotional reward, but lean away from anything that has emotional cost.  This leads to feel-good theology that avoids anything in Christianity that isn’t palatable.  (I would add one of my favorite word pictures:  no one wants the pain of lancing the boil, but you can’t get real healing without going through that pain.)

Prosperity Theology

Dr. Mohler: “It’s only “Your Best Life Now” if you’re an unbeliever.”  John MacArthur in Q&A was even more direct: “It’s the single greatest lie in the church today, it’s the most marketable, it’s Satanic, it’s a Ponzi scheme, it’s preying on the poor.”  “If Jesus were here, he would make a whip and go straight to the offices of TBN.”

Aesthetic Theology

Embraces only the “good & beautiful” and rejects anything that offends like depravity or atonement, ignoring the fact that our fallen natures cannot be trusted to make accurate assessments of what is truly beautiful about the Gospel.

Dr. Mohler ended by highlighting two factors in doctrinal drift:

Doctrinal Fatigue— having to go against the cultural tide and repeatedly defend Biblical theology over and over can lead to just tiring of it.  But fatigue is disastrous to the metal of a bridge, the pilot of a plane, or the pastor of a church.

Embarrassment– of the scandal of the Gospel, so that you progressively let go of doctrines that are uncomfortable to unbelievers.  But “The Holy Spirit alone can make the Gospel credible.”

The best safeguard to doctrinal drift? Expository preaching verse by verse through books of the Bible, because you are forced to avoid the temptation to pick and choose easy or safe topics and texts. All you have to do is “open your mouth and let the words come out”– preaching the simple direct meaning of the texts themselves.

Contentment and Commission

This is an interesting quote that I pulled from the GetReligion blog which I regularly read.  It is part of an old interview with Charlton Heston.  He is reflecting on how playing the part of Moses in The Ten Commandments changed him and he says,

It is interesting to note that once Moses climbs Mt. Sinai and talks to God there is never contentment for him again. That is the way it is with us. Once we talk to God, once we get his commission to us for our lives we cannot be again content. We are happier. We are busier. But we are not content because then we have a mission — a commission, rather.

Wise words.  How content are you?  Have you talked to God?  Have you heard a commission from him?

Ballad of the Goodly Fere

This is not your typical poem about Jesus, by not your typical man who would write poems about Jesus. Good stuff though.  P.S.  “Fere” is an old English word for a close male friend.

Ballad of the Goodly Fere

By Ezra Pound

Simon Zelotes speaketh it somewhile after the Crucifixion.

HA’ we lost the goodliest fere o’ all
For the priests and the gallows tree?
Aye lover he was of brawny men,
O’ ships and the open sea.

When they came wi’ a host to take Our Man
His smile was good to see,
“First let these go!” quo’ our Goodly Fere,
“Or I’ll see ye damned,” says he.

Aye he sent us out through the crossed high spears
And the scorn of his laugh rang free,
“Why took ye not me when I walked about
Alone in the town?” says he.

Oh we drank his “Hale” in the good red wine
When we last made company.
No capon priest was the Goodly Fere,
But a man o’ men was he.

I ha’ seen him drive a hundred men
Wi’ a bundle o’ cords swung free,
That they took the high and holy house
For their pawn and treasury.

They’ll no’ get him a’ in a book, I think,
Though they write it cunningly;
No mouse of the scrolls was the Goodly Fere
But aye loved the open sea.

If they think they ha’ snared our Goodly Fere
They are fools to the last degree.
“I’ll go to the feast,” quo’ our Goodly Fere,
“Though I go to the gallows tree.”

“Ye ha’ seen me heal the lame and blind,
And wake the dead,” says he.
“Ye shall see one thing to master all:
‘Tis how a brave man dies on the tree.”

A son of God was the Goodly Fere
That bade us his brothers be.
I ha’ seen him cow a thousand men.
I have seen him upon the tree.

He cried no cry when they drave the nails
And the blood gushed hot and free.
The hounds of the crimson sky gave tongue,
But never a cry cried he.

I ha’ seen him cow a thousand men
On the hills o’ Galilee.
They whined as he walked out calm between,
Wi’ his eyes like the gray o’ the sea.

Like the sea that brooks no voyaging,
With the winds unleashed and free,
Like the sea that he cowed at Genseret
Wi’ twey words spoke suddently.

A master of men was the Goodly Fere,
A mate of the wind and sea.
If they think they ha’ slain our Goodly Fere
They are fools eternally.

I ha’ seen him eat o’ the honey-comb
Sin’ they nailed him to the tree.

Three Questions Everyone Should Ask

From the book You: Staying Young:pensive girl by highwaygirl167 via flickr

  • Are you living life from–
    (a) fear or (b) passion?
  • Are you playing life–
    (a) to avoid losing or (b) to win?
  • Are your goals based on–
    (a) preserving the status quo or (b) achieving growth?

If you answered (a) to any of these questions, it’s an indication that you’re not moving forward in life.  Remember, the only times that your vital signs are completely stable are when you’re dead.  Like sharks, we need to keep moving to live fully.

The Fear of the Lord

I am very pleased to have my good friend Ken Fletcher, director of development Southeast region for the Alliance Defense Fund, to be guest writing a post this week.  Here are Ken’s thoughts on The Fear of the Lord:

In the last couple of months, I have heard several speakers tell their audiences, to “Fear Not.”   They point out that the Bible says 365 times to “Fear Not” and that God does not want us to “fear.”  I tend to differ.  Although we should not fear man (Psalm 27) nor worry about food or raiment, (Matthew 6:25 -34), it was Christ that said, “I will warn you whom to fear:  fear him who after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell.  Yes, I tell you, Fear him!” (Luke 12:5)  If there is a message that needs to be shouted from the mountain tops in America today, it is that our citizens and the church need to develop a fear of the Lord. 

I love the song by Casting Crowns, “I Can Only Imagine,” but on THAT day, I’m in the “to my knees will I fall” camp.  The way we now dress, the music that we play, and the things we do at church communicate a real casual friendship with the “Man Upstairs.”  If God had a first name, I’m sure we would be using it by now.  We treat coming before God with as much fear and trembling as we do the cashier at the McDonald’s drivethrough.  I sometimes wonder as we desire to have people “love the Lord” if we do not delay or prevent it by not stressing the fear of the Lord first? 

Being a parent and a former school teacher, I have learned a valuable lesson that if you do not establish a healthy “fear” and reverence, the opportunity for love is missed or stunted.  Some of the most useful advice I ever received as a teacher, was the concept of “Don’t smile until Christmas.”  Respect followed by friendship.   As a new teacher you entered the teaching profession wanting to be each of your students’ friend and buddy, but if you did not establish the teacher-student relationship first, it would never develop into anything positive.  Think back to all of the teachers that you loved… in every situation they established respect and authority from the beginning.  The first day of school you thought you would hate their class, but by the end of the year they were your favorite.  The teacher that tried to be your buddy was neither. 

With your children you must be a parent first and then in the late teen years a true and lasting friendship develops, but if you get these out of order, the results can be tragic.  If you try to be a friend and not a parent, the child only manipulates you with their affection, dribbling it out only when given what they want, and the spoiled brat never obeys without a struggle.

So, fearing our Heavenly Father is even more of an important principle to be mastered by His children.  If we do not fear God, we do not shut up or sit still long enough to listen to His instruction.  If He ask us to do something we don’t like, we have a spiritual tantrum or ignore his commands altogether.

Think for a moment, why would the Scripture say “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom?” (Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 15:33) Consider the power of fear and think of times you have experienced it.  You are so in tune, your senses are 100% functional, and your awareness is hyper-sensitive.  Pretend with me, that you are in a crowded restaurant and everyone is eating, laughing, and, generally having a good time.  Then all of a sudden, a 6’8’’, 375 lbs., angry man with an assault weapon busts in the front door.  Everyone goes from talking and laughing, to listening.  Everyone is focused on the object of their fear and the fact that your fries are cold is no longer a real concern.  Those in the room listen to every word and are sensitive to every move.  No one challenges him, or questions his instructions, nor would dare to offend him in anyway.  Obedience is the rule of the day.  

Now ponder the modern culture, fear of the Lord is so absent.   Even in our churches, fear of the Lord is not a hot topic, yet I would think that it is the desire of parents and pastors everywhere that our children would become wise.  It could be possible that if we do not start (the beginning of…) with the fear of the Lord, wisdom is not possible.  Fear of the Lord is the foundation upon which wisdom is erected.  Maybe the discussion on “YOU’RE NOT GOING TO WEAR THAT TO CHURCH!!” is more important than we think. 

Too often the church encourages individuals to love God without reminding them every now and then to fear Him.  God has been promoted as their friend, and desperate for their love.  They grow up in their faith without real respect and honor for God.  If you fear God, you will seek to avoid what is offensive to Him and not worry so much about other’s opinions and trends of the world. (1 Samuel 15:24, Psalm 1:1-3)  When we fear God, we will seek what pleases Him while what we prefer will no longer matter.  Our worship will be focused on the One we fear, not on our personal worship style.  When we fear God, we will obey His Word even when we don’t fully understand or like what is being commanded.  

The State of the Evangelical Church

I am very pleased to have my good friend Ken Fletcher, director of development Southeast region for the Alliance Defense Fund, to be guest writing a post this week.  Here is Ken’s take on The State of the Evangelical Church:

As we look at the culture of today and of past generations, we can see a huge change in the worldview that shapes the actions and attitudes of the masses.  One of the most disturbing results of this shift is how those sitting in our church’s pews have a worldview that mirrors that of the world more closely than that of the Scriptures.  A Barna Survey reported that only 7% of those who sit in church with you this Sunday make the cut of having a biblical worldview as the foundation of their lives.  It seems that if this is the case with the church in America , we should stop worrying about “How to evangelize more” and ask “what is church is evangelizing TO?”  Is the goal just to get as many people as possible to recite the “sinner’s prayer”, like Constantine marching his soldiers into the sea for mass baptism?    Before we point our finger at others, we must critically evaluate if we have “conformed to this world or are in the process of renewing our mind” (Romans 12:2). 

A large problem with this discussion is similar to a citizen’s opinion of Congress- “everyone hates the Congress, but everyone likes their representative.”  This is probably the worst case of “everyone else’s poop stinks syndrome” in modern history. Honestly ask, “How Scriptural is your church’s teaching and worship?”  Is it more in tune with the trends of the world or the truths of the scripture?  Does the teaching from your church dismiss everything as “Cultural” that requires change in the lives of the masses it is drawing?  Is being “under grace” used as a trump card over any thought of correction to those that have turned the “grace of God into licenses to sin.” (Jude 1:4)?

The modern trend of losing the word “church” from a fellowship’s title may be more appropriate than one may think.  Too often the gathering every Sunday morning at the local assembly is not for true Biblical worship and teaching, but for evangelism at “any cost.”  All too often what is happening on Sunday is a large group of Christians gathering for the purpose of evangelism at the expense of being a part of a true church.  Yes, evangelism of the lost is a noble goal, but this should not be the focus of every single service.  Glorifying God should be the focus of our worship and as Christ is lifted up, “He will draw all men to Him.” (John 12:32)  In an effort to evangelize at “any cost” we have focused, with pure intentions (hopefully), to make everyone feel comfortable and to make the church more attractive to the lost.   As Christ’s bride we should only be seeking the affections of the Groom.  Are we seeking the approval of God or the approval of men?? (Gal 1:10)   Before you shut your ears, ask the question again.  How concerned is the modern church movement and your “Sunday Gathering” in having biblical worship and teaching?  In an effort not to SCARE people away, are portions of God’s revelation, i.e. scripture or the BIBLE (for those that are involved in evangelism only churches) is not being proclaimed from the pulpits (oh yeah, those are gone too)?  

Remember Martin Luther, and his stand against the abuses of the Church?  They included the unbiblical concepts of indulgences, salvation through works, worship of idols and relics, the mediation of Mary and saints, and the authority of the Pope over Scripture.  The worst offense of the church was its refusal to give the masses the Scriptures.  Now the split from the Catholic Church has come full circle.  The Protestant church, in the name of evangelism, has withheld the full Word of God from those attending our services.  Just as Martin Luther started the reformation against the unbiblical practices of the Catholic Church, now many of our protestant churches have cycled back to the very abuses that fueled the Reformation.

In response to this troubling trend, John MacArthur has made available an interview discussing the “Dangers of the Emerging Church” and a book titled The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception.  Focus on the Family has also produced a 12 hour DVD small group study called The Truth Project under the direction of Dr. Dale Tackett to help reestablish biblical worldview in the Church.