Monday, August 25, 2008

How can Arminians and Calvinists get along?

This is the conversation Charles Simeon had with John Wesley. I read this a while back and really wanted to put it on the blog, but didn't want to type it out. Fortunately today I saw it on the logos website, so here it is:

[Simeon:] Sir, I understand that you are called an Arminian; and I have been sometimes called a Calvinist; and therefore I suppose we are to draw daggers. But before I consent to begin the combat, with your permission I will ask you a few questions. Pray, Sir, do you feel yourself a depraved creature, so depraved that you would never have thought of turning to God, if God had not first put it into your heart?

[Wesley:] Yes, I do indeed.

[S:] And do you utterly despair of recommending yourself to God by anything you can do; and look for salvation solely through the blood and righteousness of Christ?

[W:] Yes, solely through Christ.

[S:] But, Sir, supposing you were at first saved by Christ, are you not somehow or other to save yourself afterwards by your own works?

[W:] No, I must be saved by Christ from first to last.

[S:] Allowing, then, that you were first turned by the grace of God, are you not in some way or other to keep yourself by your own power?

[W:] No.

[S:] What then, are you to be upheld every hour and every moment by God, as much as an infant in its mother's arms?

[W:] Yes, altogether.

[S:] And is all your hope in the grace and mercy of God to preserve you unto His heavenly kingdom?

[W:] Yes, I have no hope but in Him.

[S:] Then, Sir, with your leave I will put up my dagger again; for this is all my Calvinism; this is my election, my justification by faith, my final perseverance: it is in substance all that I hold, and as I hold it; and therefore, if you please, instead of searching out terms and phrases to be a ground of contention between us, we will cordially unite in those things wherein we agree. (from Charles Simeon: Biography of a Sane Saint)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Kicking a woman in the face doesn't shock church leaders - Todd Bentley's affair does!

Todd Bentley's website yesterday revealed that
Todd Bentley has entered into an unhealthy relationship on an emotional level with a female member of his staff.

A number of church leaders who endorsed Bentley have expressed shock at this 'emotional affair' and separation from his wife. It is amazing to me that church leaders would be shocked by this, but were not shocked by his self glorifying teaching, angel worshiping antics, and violent attacks including kicking a woman in the face, knocking a man's tooth out, and leg dropping a pastor? (as can be demonstrated if you look through this blog under 'false teaching').

What does it say about the present state of affairs when church leaders will endorse a false prophet such as Todd Bentley, and are only disturbed when they hear he is cheating on, and has separated from his wife ?(I consider an 'emotional affair' is still cheating). It seems that they view marriage as more important than the gospel. How sad that so many put up with hearing a false gospel, as Paul said to the Corinthians:
2 Corinthians 11:4 For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. (ESV)

I think we need to ask the question, which is worst? Preaching a different Jesus, and a false gospel? Or breaking up a marriage? Scripture says that both are sins, but the former is far worse.
Galatians 1:6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel-- 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. (ESV)

Preaching a false gospel is worse than divorce, worse than adultery, worse than abortion. Scripture teaches:
Matthew 18:6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. 7 "Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! (ESV)

Some say that right now is not the time to point the finger at Todd Bentley. Some say we should just pray. But this kind of thinking implies that marriage is more important than the gospel? Of course we should pray, and especially for Bentley's young children. But we should also evaluate our priorities. Is the Gospel as important to us as it was to Paul? Do we believe that those who preach a false gospel should be accursed! If so, then we should pray for more than Bentley's marriage. We should pray for his soul, and we should pray for all of the church leaders who endorsed him, and all of those leaders who kept quiet for fear of unpopularity. And we should pray for those who have taken part in this revival - that they would know the truth, and that the truth would set them free. And we must contend for the gospel, and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ who died and rose again.
Jude 3 Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. (ESV)

Friday, August 15, 2008

'Prophetic Movement' insider shares his thoughts on Todd Bentley

Here are some really interesting videos by someone who used to be involved in what has been called "The Prophetic Movement". He shares on why he left the movement, and Todd Bentley's ministry.

It is very interesting to hear the view of an insider. It is also encouraging to hear someone define 'prophetic' as preaching repentance like John the Baptist did. I wouldn't share his view of Finney as a model for preaching, but I certainly found his videos interesting and encouraging.

Video 1:

Video 2:

Video 3:

Video 4:

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The significance Todd Bentley and his wife separating

The sad news of Bentley's marriage separation:

It is always sad to hear of marriages breaking apart. Todd Bentley's website has announced the following:
Todd and Shonnah Bentley are presently experiencing significant friction in their relationship and are currently separated. We want to affirm that there has been no sexual immorality on the part of either Todd or Shonnah, nor has there ever been.

A local Florida newspaper has also reported:
Bentley announced to his staff Monday afternoon that he and his wife, Shonnah, had separated. The Bentleys have two daughters and a son, and are Canadian citizens. Under Canadian law, separation is a preliminary step in divorce proceedings, lasting nine months.

So why am I blogging about this?

Is it to gossip or to gloat? No, It is tragic that a life long covenant has been broken, and that children will now be desperately trying to work out why this happened and possibly thinking it is their fault. I blog about this because it is significant in assessing the Lakeland Florida phenomena, especially as many of its defenders claimed we should just look at the fruit.

Look at the fruit:

A number of times on this blog I have explained how Todd Bentley's ministry is not a biblical ministry. I have used scripture to demonstrate this. Many other people around the world have done the same. Yet the response that people often give is, "Well just look at the fruit!" For this very reason it is significant that Todd Bentley has separated from his wife. Bentley has 'enjoyed' this so-called revival for 100 days, and the fruit from being 'drunk in the spirit' so much, is that he has now sadly separated from his wife.

Jesus does indeed warn us that we will know false prophets by their fruit:
Matthew 7:15 "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit... 21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' 23 And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'

So, what kind of fruit should a true prophet exhibit?

The New Testament teaches us that leaders are to manage their family well:
1 Timothy 3:4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church?
And that a loving marriage is a result of being filled with the Spirit.
Ephesians 5:18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit ... 22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord... 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, ... 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself... 31 "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh."
Sadly in Todd Bentley's case, there is evidence that his marriage has been so unloving that they now have seperated. This then is evidence that Bentley is not living as someone filled with the Spirit, or as a leader.

But didn't King David have bad fruit too?

Of course, people will refer to King David, and remind us of his sins, but notice the context:

1) David was not leading a revival at the time. In contrast, he was avoiding his duty as King and neglecting to go to war:
ESV 2 Samuel 11:1 In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem. 2 It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king's house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful.

2) David was living under the Old Covenant, today under the New Covenant, after Pentecost something is different to David's day. I am not saying that we are saved in a different way, just that the Spirit has been poured out in a different way:
ESV Ezekiel 36:26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

Should we only look at fruit?

Having looked at the fruit, it is important to note that this is not the only way we discern false prophets. The Bible teaches us to weigh things up by looking at the doctrine taught, the gospel preached, the Christ proclaimed, and the fruit. Therefore it is incorrect to ignore the first three, and then claim we must only look at the fruit. Without looking at the fruit, there was enough evidence that Bentley was not a prophet of God. However to those who do just want to look at the fruit - here is the fruit: A man who led this phenomena in Lakeland, and who supposedly enjoyed its blessings every day, has just separated from his wife. Very sad, but hopefully this will help people to see that this was not a true prophet.

Finally lets pray for the Bentley family.

If you would like to read John Piper's thoughts on this, check out his blog:

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Our Study Bible comparison

On Sunday after church we did a little study bible comparison to see what study bibles people preferred in our church. It certainly was not an extensive comparison, but it was interesting:

We got a bunch of different study bibles and passed them round, and let eveyone spend time reading the notes their bible had on John 1:1. After a few minutes we would pass on our study bible to the person next to us, and then read the notes in the new study Bible we had been passed. We kept doing this until everyone had read each study bible.

Before I give the results, I should say that this was by no means an exhaustive test. We only looked at one verse, so our results do not give a fair representation of each study bible in its entirety.

Nevertheless, I thought it would be interesting to post our findings:

1st: The ESV study bible was the favourite. We had to use an on-line pdf for this as it hasn't been published yet. This was favourite because it gave a good bit of information in lay-men's terms, with an attractive layout.

2nd: The Reformation Study Bible: This was a close second, with some people wavering between this and the ESV study bible. One person thought the notes on John 1:1 were slightly better than the ESV study bible, but each one contains little bits of info that the other didn't. A number of people use this already in our church.

3rd) The MacArthur study Bible: This came in third. The strength of this one was how the notes were arranged phrase by phrase so it really came across as an exposition.

4th) NIV study bible: The notes on this were brief, which pleased some, but didn't please others.

5th) NET Bible: The notes on this were the most scholarly, but assumed an understanding of Greek, and so not everyone understood it.

Within the group there were certainly differences, and these were mainly based on the level of study people were most comfortable with. For example, one new believer preferred the NIV study bible because the other notes seemed too complex.

Personally, I think that in terms of study, the NET Bible is probably the most useful - but it does presume prior learning. I really like the Reformation study Bible, which I often recommend to people (am not so keen on its article on baptism though). I am interested to see the diagrams that the ESV study bible has (which may give it the edge over the Reformation Study Bible), plus to see how its notes on baptism and gifts of the spirit will be. Clearly MacArthur is a tremendous blessing to the church worldwide, but I am not so keen on the idea of a study bible written by one author. I like the array of scholars the NIV study bible contains, however it is brief.

Above all, I think it is really important to be able to read study bible's recognizing that the top bit is the word of God, and the bottom bit is just people's notes on the word of God. No study bible's notes are infallible. I hope that any of us that use them are able to be fully confident in the word of God, and at the same time, recognize that the notes at the bottom are sometimes correct, and sometimes incorrect.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Matthew 24:36 - 25:30 Be Ready

What does it mean to be ready for Christ's return? What should we do?

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Todd Bentley is obsessed with angels - but Jesus is better

I've been studying Hebrews 1 this week, which speaks about Jesus being better than angels. Before Jesus came, God spoke to his people in many ways, involving prophecy, and even through angels. But then amazingly he sent Jesus and spoke to us in his son! (Heb 1:1-2). The revelation of the son far surpasses any angelic appearance (Heb 1:4-14). The son is the exact imprint of God, HE is the radiance of God's glory (Heb 1:3), therefore we look to him and not to angels. Furthermore, it is the message of the son to which we must pay more attention, unless we drift away (Heb 2:1).

Jesus is better than angels, yet Todd Bentley has encouraged many people to focus on angels, rather than on Christ. To desire manifestations of angels, and to love their appearance, rather than focusing on the message of the Son. This is very dangerous, as it can cause people to drift away from faith in Christ (Heb 2:1).

Look at the following video clip, and notice what the scripture says in Hebrews chp. 1, and the following scriptures:

2 Corinthians 11:14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. (ESV)

Galatians 1:8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. (ESV)

Colossians 2:18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.

Let's cling to Jesus instead of being obsessed with angels

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Why only members take communion in our church

Being a member of a church is about recognizing two things:

1) our status as Christians,

2) our obligation as Christians

Our status, is that we belong to Christ and his body, the church.

Our obligation, is that we live in accordance with belonging to Christ and the church.

The bible tells us that we must recognize these things if we are to take communion:

ESV 1 Corinthians 11:29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.
“Discerning the body” in this verse means “recognizing what characterizes the body as different.” or “recognizing our status and obligations as Christian believers” [1]

In the Bible times, some people took communion without recognizing their status and obligations, and God judged them, and some got sick, and some died.

ESV 1 Corinthians 11:30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.

Therefore, if we make sure that only members (people who recognize their status and obligations as Christians) take communion, then we protect people from getting sick and dying.

At the same time, we welcome visitors and new comers to our church to become members. The membership process is not difficult, and is designed to reflect what the bible says a Christian is supposed to do in a church.

[1] Anthony C. Thiselton, The First Epistle to the Corinthians : A Commentary on the Greek Text (Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans, 2000), 897.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Why we have church membership

A good friend recently asked me what my reasons were for believing in church membership when I used to be against the idea. Here's why.