Saturday, August 29, 2009

September 19 Meeting Open to All

All are encouraged to join us on Saturday, September 19, 2009, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., at Christ Our Life Church in Curran, MI (located right on M-65 in can't miss it).

We will be (1) presenting and discussing the formation of new, more localized groups meeting in the northern and southern parts of our area, beginning this fall; (2) having an extended time of prayer for one another and our churches; (3) being challenged from God's Word by Josh Gelatt, pastor of Indian River Baptist Church; and (4) enjoying fellowship and mutual encouragement in the Lord's work of reformation in our lives, homes, churches, and communities.

We hope and pray you will join us and be richly blessed!

Jeff Ryan
Calvary Bible Church
Rogers City, MI

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Christianity in Crisis 21st Century

The original edition of Christianity in Crisis changed my thinking about the Word of Faith movement. I used to believe that these televangelists (Hinn, Hagee, Meyers, Osteen, etc.) believed and preached the same gospel I believe in and preach and that we simply disagreed over whether God wants every believer to be in perfect health and be rich. However, Hanegraaff’s thoroughly documented book helped me to realize that the Word of Faith movement is heretical and that my disagreements are profound. Hanegraaff makes it clear that that his book is not about secondary issues like speaking in tongues, modes of baptism, and millennial views. He argues, “The Faith movement has systematically subverted the very essence of Christianity so as to present us with a counterfeit Christ and counterfeit Christianity.”

There are five overarching theological mistakes that Word of Faith preachers teach. Hanegraaff uses the acronym FLAWS as a mnemonic device to assist in remembering the fatal errors of the Word of Faith movement. Hanegraaff does caution that the Word of Faith movement is not monolithic and that not all of them teach the exact same errors, but all of them teach these five errors to one degree or another.

“Faith in faith” is the first error. Popularly this is known as “name it and claim it.” The basic idea is that words have power to affect one’s life either positively or negatively. Therefore, if one speaks positive things, he will create the positive reality of which he speaks and vice versa for negative confessions. Further, they teach that even God is bound by this “spiritual law”, and he cannot do anything for a person until he speaks positively. Of course, this teaching makes men sovereign and God impotent.

The next error is “little gods.” The Word faith teachers teach that being created in the image of God means that we are gods just like Jesus was. The effect of this teaching is to diminish the uniqueness and deity of Christ. In addition, this teaching deifies man. While one may be able to argue that the “faith in faith” is not a critical error, certainly, this error and the next error are fatal. That is, the Word of Faith teachers teach both a different Jesus and a different way of salvation.

“Atonement Atrocities” is the title for the next error. The Faith teachers teach that Jesus paid the punishment for sin by descending into Hell, suffering at the hands of the Devil, and battling the demon hordes. However, the Bible teaches that Jesus paid the full price for sin on the cross. Further, they teach that Jesus became sin on the cross. Some even teach that Jesus became “one in nature with [Satan].” Then, he was “born again”, that is, he became divine again in Hell before finally defeating Satan. This teaching rests on distortions of Scripture and supposed new revelations. These teachers would have us believe that the second person of the Trinity ceased being God became one with Satan and then turned back into God. This is sheer blasphemy, which if true destroys the work of Christ.

The final two errors are “Wealth and Want” and “Suffering and Sickness.” This is the health-wealth-prosperity gospel. While these views are problematic, they are minor compared to the previous three. Especially troubling is the constant misuse and distorting of Scripture to force it to teach the prosperity gospel.

Two criticisms I have are that the book is sometimes repetitive and the language Hanegraaff uses. One of the new features of the book is a chapter entitled “Cast of Characters.” In this chapter, Hanegraaff gives a short overview and critique of individual Word of Faith teachers. This is generally very helpful; however, much of the material found here is repeated later in other relevant areas. Secondly, Hanegraaff often calls the followers of Word of Faith teachers “devotees.” This word makes me think of a mindless follower of a religion, which makes this word emotionally charged. I know Hanegraaff does not mean it this way because he is careful to make a distinction between Word of Faith teachers and their followers. He says that “there are many sincere, born-again believers in the movement.” A more neutral word choice would have been better.

Truly, the Word of Faith movement is creating a crisis in Christianity. Their views are clearly more than a small difference of opinion. They articulate an alternative Jesus and different gospel. You need to read this book.
Pastor Jeremy Lee
Twining Baptist Church

Friday, August 14, 2009

Additional Language Resources

As a follow-up to yesterday's post I thought you might find the following sites helpful. Both sites offer the full text for free on-line.

Hebrew-English Interlinear (Leningrad Codex w/ vowel markings)

Septuagint Greek-English Interlinear (this appears to be an eclectic text)

For those not familiar with the Septuagint (or rather, the "Septuagints" plural---for there are several versions), a handy printed resource is a book called The Invitation to the Septuagint by Karen Jobes (published by Baker).

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Septuagint Study Resource

The Septuagint is a rich resource for those studying the Old Testament. For many of the writers of the New Testament, the LXX was the preferred translation (for example, that is all the author of Hebrews uses in his OT quotations).

The problem for the modern minister, who perhaps isn't as sharp in Greek as he would like to be, is in finding a reliable translation. Back in 2007 the New English Translation of the Septuagint (NETS) was published as is available for free online. While I am not always thrilled with its renderings, it is nevertheless a valuable resource when studying an Old Testament passage--even more so when studying a New Testament passage which quotes the Old Testament. In most instances, our modern English Bible's follow the Masoretic Text for the Old Testament (for good reason, I would add). But having a reliable text for comparison is essential for in-depth study.

The following link will get you to the NETS site where you can view the text online for free.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Holy Catholic Church

For some time now, it has been my intention to write about the catholic church "The Church is catholic" Not Roman Catholic but catholic i.e. universal. Below is a message by a pastor that fits my thinking. You may remember an earlier post regarding the Apostles Creed. Pastor Stewart in the article below explains more fully the meaning of the phrase in the Apostles Creed " I believe in the holy, catholic church" This is important because it's Scriptural and the Church of Jesus Christ is not a denomination. His church is made up of His elect.

Ephesians 4:4-6 declares, "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” The outstanding feature of this text is its repetition of the word “one.” Seven times that numeral is used: thrice in verse 4, thrice in verse 5 and once in verse 6. Not once does this text use dualities or pluralities. It does not speak of two hopes or three faiths or four baptisms. It is “one” and only “one” right the way through: “one body,” “one Spirit,” “one hope,” “one Lord,” “one faith,” “one baptism,” “one God and Father of all.” This is a remarkable emphasis on oneness.

But what is the main thought which forms the organizing principle of these seven “ones”? It is the first “one” of the text: “There is one body” (v. 4). The one body is the church, as the context teaches. Moreover, the “one body” is to be taken together with “one Spirit.” Not only is “one Spirit” prominent in the preceding verse (v. 3) and next in the text (v. 4), but it is also joined to “one body” by the conjunction “and”—the only “and” between any of the seven “ones.” Moreover, “one body, and one Spirit” is somewhat separated from the five later “ones.” So it comes down to this: the main idea is the “one body, and one Spirit” (v. 4), which is further developed by the five succeeding “ones” (vs. 4-6).

In what sense is the church spoken of as “one body” in Ephesians 4:4? It is not referring to the various instituted churches. They are not numerically one; they are many. They are not doctrinally one; they differ among themselves. The “one body” in the text is the invisible organism of the church—all those who live out of Jesus Christ crucified, all the elect of all ages and nations, who are beloved of God who alone sees the heart. This invisible organism—the “one body”—is what we confess in the Apostles’ Creed: “I believe an holy, catholic church; the communion of saints.”

The invisible organism of the church is called a body because it consists of many parts with various roles and functions, like a human body which has tendons and ears and knuckles and kidneys and a duodenum, etc., with all its multitudinous parts joined together into one harmonious whole. The body of the church is alive, like a human body, for it is united to Jesus Christ, the head. God’s invisible church is one body—and must be one and can never be two or more— because it is predestinated as one body, with all the elect having their own particular role, you included, believer. It is redeemed as one body, for Christ died for the church and gave Himself for her (5:25). It is glorified as one body forever and ever in the new heavens and new earth.

Ken Clouse
NEMRS Lay Administrator