Archive for October, 2007

The following story is from United By One of which I normally contribute to on the forums:

Joel Osteen definitely gets his message out. Business Week notes that he is arguably America ‘s most popular preacher. His Lakewood Church in Northeast Houston is America ‘s largest, attracting some 30,000 worshipers to its weekend services.

But far more Americans know Osteen through TV. Over the course of the average month, some 18 million individuals tune in for one of his sermons, making him the most-watched preacher on television. That kind of popularity will deliver both jealousy and scrutiny. He was on 60 Minutes television show over the weekend explaining his case. He was also promoting his new book ‘Become a Better You.’ It will be a best-seller. So why criticize a man that seemingly is doing so much good?

Many pastors believe he is only preaching half of the Gospel. He was asked this question by Business Week, “Some of your critics say that your so-called prosperity Gospel isn’t in keeping with the traditional Christian message, which has often been suspicious of material wealth. How do you respond?”

Osteen answers, “I believe that God’s dream is that we be successful in our careers, and that we be able to send our kids to college. I don’t mean that everyone is going to be rich, and I preach a lot on blooming where you’re planted. But I don’t have the mindset that money is a bad thing. [My views] may go against some of the older, traditional teachings. But I think we should have a mindset that God wants us to prosper in our relationships, our health, and our finances. God’s desire is that we excel. And we see business leaders who are good strong Christians running [big] companies.”

That will of course draw controversy. In the lead up to 60 Minutes, the CBS website has this: “I think it’s a cotton candy gospel,” says Rev. Michael Horton, a professor of theology at Westminister Seminary, California. “His core message is God is nice, you’re nice, be nice,” Horton says, laughing. “If it were a form of music, I think it would be easy listening. He uses the Bible like a fortune cookie. ‘This is what’s gonna happen for you. There’s gonna be a windfall in your life tomorrow.’ The Bible’s not meant to be read that way.”

Reverend Horton believes that Osteen tells only half the story of the Bible, focusing on the good news without talking about sin, suffering and redemption. And Rev. Horton goes even further. He levels the harshest charge of all, calling the Osteen method of teaching heresy.

“I don’t know what can be so dangerous about giving people hope,” Osteen says. “Causing people to have better relationships. I’m not leading them to some false God or something like that.”

“Sometimes you have to keep it simple and not make it so complicated that people don’t understand,” Osteen says. “But I know what I’m called to do is say ‘I want to help you learn how to forgive today. I want to help you to have the right thoughts today.’ Just simple things.”

He continues: “You know, you get people that want to criticize, ‘You’re not doing enough of this, enough of that.’ Well, we’re not perfect. But to have hundreds of people telling you ‘You changed my life. I haven’t been in church in 30 years.’ Or ‘You saved my marriage.’ Not me, but God, but they’re telling me, but you know what? You can’t help but leave every Sunday afternoon…,” Osteen says, getting emotional and tearing up. “You just feel very rewarded. You feel very humbled, you know?” Osteen says.

If you would like to see the interviews in full, see below

Joel Osteen 60 Minutes Interview Part 1 of 2

Joel Osteen 60 Minutes Interview Part 2 of 2

How sad is this? That the largest church in America is ran by a ‘pastor’ who does not preach the truth and the hope that he gives to people is a false hope that will unfortunately lead a countless amount of people to hell because as stated above he does not really talk about ‘sin, repentance, Christ crucified, judgment and wrath to come, hell, and salvation’ i.e. the very gospel which saves (Romans 1:16) which is the power of God unto salvation. A classic example of this is below where he totally hashes the real meaning of the gospel.

Please do not turn a blind eye to these false teachers because the devil is and will continue to have a field day in christendom if we do not speak against them. Yes, we must pray for them but at the same time we must sound the alarm because people are perishing as a result.

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Below are the tracts that I pass out during the normal course of the day.

First of all there is the Million Pound Note tract:

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These are great because they look realistically like a £10 note so are easy to pass out or leave on a train or bus. For information about the tract click here.

Then there is the ‘Are you a Good Person?‘ tract:

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This is excellent because it goes through what I would normally ask a person face to face and if for any reason, I do not have time, the tract does it for me. People like comics so are more likely to read it in this format. It also goes through the law for ‘by the law is the knowledge of sin’ (Romans 3:20). The gospel is very clear in this tract. To see the whole tract click here.

Then lastly there is the ‘It’s Your Life‘ tract

It’s your life

This is another excellent comic-book style tract which I love and makes people think about what will happen after they die. I give these out to black people as they are more likely to read it if the characters are the same colour as themselves. See an explanation here. To see the full contents of this tract , click here.

I am no big evangelist but just a simple born again believer who recognises the commission that Christ gave to ALL believers to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” Mark 16:15.

I try an incorporate it into my normal day when going to work, going to the shops etc. It is not always practical to speak to a person depending on the circumstance so giving out a tract is an ideal way to give someone the gospel in these situations and it only takes a second.

Many people have got saved through gospel tracts. Imagine, if you just gave out one tract a day, that would be 365 people that you would have reached with the gospel in a year and thats just one person doing it. If you cant do one a day, how about one a week? One a month? All I am trying to say is start somewhere.

Do not underestimate the power of the humble gospel tract.

If you are like me, you too are probably very dissatisfied with today’s modern christianity/gospel and can see how far away it is from biblical christianity.  

You may ask why do 80-90% of those making a decision for Christ fall away from the faith? What is the principle that Spurgeon, Wesley, Whitefield, etc. used to reach the lost? Why has the Church neglected it? The following teaching began to explain why things are the way they are. Click here to listen to Hell’s Best Kept Secret 

Then if you ever wondered why so much of the Church looks and acts just like the world, then click here to listen to True and False Conversion which goes hand in hand with Hell’s Best Kept Secret. It is very important that you understand it, as it will have great bearing on how you spend your time, and how you share the principles of God’s Word. 

Once I listened to these teachings. I had to repent that I was not more proactive in trying to reach the lost. I pray that as you listen to these, they will have the same effect on you as we try to reach this world for Christ

The Christian Institute have compiled a summary of the legal position regarding the freedom of christians to preach or give out tracts in public. You can read and download the information here.

One of the most reasons why there is so much false doctrine and false teachers is because people do not know how to rightly divide the truth of God’s word. That does not mean that you have to be a bible scholar but there are some basic principles that I believe that EVERY believer should know so that they are not carried away by every wind of doctrine that comes their way and there is a lot of ‘wind’ going around. 2 Timothy 2:15 says

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

Below are 10 rules of biblical interpretation which I believe will spare you much pain. This has been taken from Tekton Apologetics Ministries.

  1. Pray! Pray! Pray! The Holy Spirit knows better then you do!
  2. Always know what the verse actually says, not what you think you remember it saying
  3. Take the verse in literary context, don’t just read what you want to read to prove your point and don’t forget the Bible is a mosaic of different kinds of literature meant to be read different ways.
  4. Take the verse in cultural context, just like you saying “it’s raining cats and dogs” is not what you literally meant
  5. Remember the Bible is a whole 66 books! Interpret all verses in relation the other 1000’s of verses
  6. Check the other translations, The variations are complimentary and show the whole picture
  7. The Bible was not originally written in English, go back to the sources
  8. Theological presuppositions are bad, scripture determines doctrine, not the other way around
  9. Check the Theologians’ opinions, The Ph.D, professor of heart surgery of Harvard is better then your uncle Ted’s heart removal service. Professional opinions matter! (but don’t assume they’re always right)
  10. Assume nothing, be ready to learn, don’t give up. Remember, only God knows everything.

“15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” 2 Tim 3:15-17 (KJV)

1. Pray! Pray! Pray! The Holy Spirit knows better then you do!

The Holy Spirit is vital in correctly interpreting scripture.

“13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. 16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” 1 Cor 2:13-16 (KJV)

The Holy Spirit is the teacher and spiritual things have to be discerned spiritually. This includes scripture that has been inspired by the Holy Spirit. Obviously the one who writes something knows what was meant by it best.

2. Always know what the verse actually says, not what you think you remember it saying

Modern human memories are fallible AND untrained. We forget phone numbers sometimes just by forgetting the order they’re in. Things get jumbled up a lot in our heads. This goes for Biblical Principals too, how many of you think that “God helps those who help themselves” is from the Bible? Guess what? It’s not! Nope, that’s something a lot of people honestly think they remember the Bible saying, but it doesn’t. (Or at least, I can’t find it)

3. Take the verse in literary context, don’t just read what you want to read to prove your point and don’t forget the Bible is a mosaic of different kinds of literature meant to be read different ways.

Context is important.

First: I’m always weary of people who quote only parts of verses like “…(a few words)…” All this shows is one section! Or sometimes only one verse is mentioned and this supposedly “proves a point”. I hear people all the time tell me “you shouldn’t judge” apparently they mean I shouldn’t tell people what right and wrong because of the verse “Judge not, that ye be not judged” (Matthew 7:1). It’s funny they stop there though because if they had quoted the entire context: “1 Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? 5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” Matt 7:1-5 (KJV) Did you notice that if you keep reading Jesus isn’t actually condemning judging as long as it’s not hypocritical? As long as you take the “beam” out of your eye you’re perfectly qualified to take the “mote” out of your brothers eye.

Next: In case you haven’t noticed the Bible is more then the same dry writing all the way through. Some of it is historical narrative, some poetry, some prophecy and some words of wisdom. So you have to read each section in the style it’s meant to be written in. “2 The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God.” Psalms 14:2 (KJV) Obviously God is omniscient, but this is a figure of speech and poetic, it’s not to be taken literally.

4. Take the verse in cultural context, just like you saying “it’s raining cats and dogs” is not what you literally meant

Modern-day Americans did not originally write the Bible, we use cultural idioms and figures of speech that will probably die out in a thousand or so years. This goes along with #3 above. Sometimes the only way some verses make since is by knowing what was actually meant to the original audience. The famous verse Matthew 19:24 “24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” Matt 19:24 (KJV) Isn’t talking about a literal eye of the needle, this is a rabbinic figure of speech. It was very, very difficult to put a camel through. Jesus was not implying only the poor would go to heaven.

5. Remember the Bible is a whole 66 books! Interpret all verses in relation the other 1000’s of verses

Although many people wrote the Bible over a period of many years, it is still a collective whole. Here is an example of something I recently encountered: “5 And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. 6 And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching.” Mark 6:5-6 (KJV) I suppose if all you read is this one verse, close the Bible you could say “see there! Jesus is not omnipotent it says he couldn’t do miracles!!” Or as the Faith healers say something like “This proves God’s power is limited by our Faith”. But we have to apply something called “scriptura scripturam interpretar”, a funny Latin phrase that means “scripture interprets scripture”. I’ve usually heard it stated like this “If you read an awkward verse, then you should first go to the verses that are more clear and interpret the awkward one in relation to them.” Scripture continually speaks of God being all-powerful so this verse is awkward. But it is easily cleared up by seeing if any of the other Gospels mention this even in more depth. And actually, Luke does in Chapter 4 verses 14-30. Reading this we see why there lack of faith actually hindered Jesus, it wasn’t because it stopped his divine energy from working, it was because they drove him out of town!(v.29) There lack of Faith was expressed by the majority of them driving him out, not by them letting him stay but just doubting too much.

6. Check the other translations, The variations are complimentary and show the whole picture

It’s a fact we don’t posses the original scriptures, they are lost, probably forever. We have copies. These copies, although divinely inspired and doctrinally inerrant, contain “variations”. Different Translations are made from examining different Greek text (but all good ones include footnotes giving alternate readings) Some times things don’t make a lot of sense in one translation as in another. This is just common sense I think. Sometimes these variations can be more “biased” theologically then others at certain points also. And because there is no such thing as a “perfect” translation, this makes sense.

7. The Bible was not originally written in English, go back to the sources

This like a lot of these just seem to make sense. Greek, for instance is more expressive then English. For example does Satan rule this planet? If you read just the English for 2 Corinthians 4:4 – “In whom the god of this world (Satan) hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” Well first the idea of Satan ruling this world breaks rule #5, as this is the only passage that implies such a thing, God is always referred to ruling earth…which is the point. In Greek this word is “aion” witch is more correctly “age of time” The verse is saying Satan is in control of this age of sinfulness, he runs the “evil worldly system” not the planet earth. The other Greek words for “world” are “Kosmos” (all that is created) “oikumene” (globe, earth, world) “ge” (country, ground, earth).

8. Theological presuppositions are bad, scripture determines doctrine, not the other way around

I don’t think I need to elaborate on this one. If we claim to follow the Bible as God’s Word then we should follow what it says, not try to make it say what we want to follow

9. Check the Theologians’ opinions, The Ph.D, professor of heart surgery of Harvard is better then your uncle Ted’s heart removal service. Professional opinions matter! (but don’t assume they’re always right)

This one seems to be common sense also. Some people spend their entire lives studying scripture and have devoted themselves to following God and this study. They aren’t perfect and can be wrong sometimes. But they have spent the time, prayer, and research to try and figure out exactly what God is saying. Now anybody can pick up the Bible and figure out the basic stuff, but there is still A LOT in there that is not so easily discerned. There opinions should be valued greatly unless you have personally taken the time, prayer and study over an issue like they have.

10. Assume nothing, be ready to learn, don’t give up. Remember, only God knows everything

This sort of goes along with #8 and I added on that even I don’t always follow all these, although I try, someone who spends years correctly following God still might be wrong and be corrected. Only God will know it all, but the more you study the more you learn, the more God speaks to you through his word, the better you follow him.

Related post:

Bible: The Users Manual

Free Bible stuff

 

Found this interesting article (dated 19 October 2007) from J. Lee Grady, the editor of Charisma Magazine:

“My heart sank two weeks ago when I heard that Dr. D. James Kennedy had died at age 76 of complications from an earlier heart attack. Knowing that Jerry Falwell died in May, and considering that Billy Graham is not in good health, I wondered who could possibly replace these stalwart Christian statesmen.

The congenial Kennedy, who usually wore an austere clerical robe when he preached on his popular television broadcast, founded Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale 48 years ago. Yet his formal appearance was misleading—since his life’s mission was to train the average layperson to share the gospel.

Indeed, Kennedy’s most enduring legacy was Evangelism Explosion, a training course he started in 1970. Used in thousands of churches, it has helped Christians develop a confident approach to personal witnessing. Countless people have been trained to ask a simple question—“If God were to ask why He should allow you into heaven, what would you say?”— to jumpstart conversations with unbelievers.

It was that trick question, overheard on a radio broadcast, that led Kennedy to Christ in 1953. He gave the rest of his life to help people find the right answer. Now that he is dead, I pray his passion can be ignited in our hearts.

It seems as if personal evangelism is a dying art. Fewer of us are taking our faith beyond familiar circles of friends and family. Witnessing has become intrusive in a culture that demands tolerance and diversity. Knocking on doors is illegal in most neighborhoods. “Soul-winning” is an outdated term. Polls show that few Christians today have ever led a person to faith in Christ.

As our society has become more secular, our faith has become more timid. It is no longer cool to declare Jesus is the only way. So we don’t say it—we just hope people will figure out our message by listening to our music or by wandering into our churches at an odd hour on Sunday mornings.

I am especially disturbed that personal evangelism has lost its importance among those of us who call ourselves Pentecostal or charismatic. Many of our best evangelists have also passed into glory or are getting feeble. Yet when I look at the younger generation, it seems many leaders are focused on the inside of the church rather than the harvest fields.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I know we need prophecies, visions, dreams and spiritual experiences. We also need solid Bible teaching, powerful exhortation and the inspiration that comes from praise and worship. But it seems today our focus has turned totally inward. The church is ministering to the church. The pastor is preaching to the choir. And our message isn’t reaching beyond the vestibule.

When Jesus began His earthly ministry, He read from the book of Isaiah about the promise of the Holy Spirit. The passage in Isaiah 61:1 says: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted …” (NASB emphasis added).

This verse, which so dramatically captures the essence of Jesus’ ministry and ours, clearly lists evangelism as His priority. The Holy Spirit’s anointing does a lot of things—but we are told here that He clothes us with divine power so we can announce good news. In other words, we are not anointed simply to prophesy, receive revelations, experience spiritual goose bumps, shake, quake, rattle, roll, shout, raise hands, take offerings, receive offerings or obtain blessings and breakthroughs. All those things are great, but if we have them without evangelism then our faith becomes inverted and self-absorbed.

I’ve been in some great charismatic meetings where everyone falls on the floor at the altar. Some get up and go back for more anointing. In fact, we are known to pray: “More! Lord, give them more fire!” Then the people swoon again, roll around and act drunk. And they come back three more nights to have hands laid on them again.

We’ve become like actors in a perpetual dress rehearsal in which we repeat our lines over and over but never actually perform for an audience.What good is the anointing if we just wallow and splash in it like hungry hogs at a slop trough? I love the anointing as much as the next person. But when will we actually open our mouths and use it to preach to unbelievers? I want to stand up and scream, “Get off the floor and do something with this power!”

D. James Kennedy was an evangelical brother who did not preach about the baptism of the Holy Spirit, yet he taught people to pray for boldness and to look for every opportunity to share their faith. What would happen if churches that fully embrace the
Spirit’s anointing broke out of their self-imposed isolation and started preaching to everything that moves?”

My question is have you made it a priority to spread the gospel?

Are you guilty of the quote “Fewer of us are taking our faith beyond familiar circles of friends and family.”?

Or do we hope as quoted that “people will figure out our message by listening to our music or by wandering into our churches at an odd hour on Sunday mornings.”

What a person stands to lose (i.e. their soul) if they step out of this world without Christ is unimaginable. That thought alone should move us to get out of our comfort zone and reach out to the lost. If we dont, then can we truly say that we have love for the lost if their is no action behind our words?

I will leave you with a quote from John Piper

“Never forget that people who do not obey Christ forfeit eternal life and go out into eternity under the wrath of God. John 3:36, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him……….In other words, keep before your mind the terrible reality of entering eternity without Christ.”

Related Posts:

Where does your Christianity stop?

Every Christian needs to see this

A message to Christians

 

 

You can download or listen to the ENTIRE Bible (KJV version) on mp3 free here. Great if you have an iPod or other mp3 player, but even if you don’t, it will play on any computer. Note: if you download the whole thing, the file is 1.1 GB

For the bible students among you (which should be everybody), you can download bible study software free of charge for your PC and PDA from www.e-sword.net. It includes different bible versions, dictionaries and commentaries.

Happy studying.

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)