Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tuesday Question of the Week on Wednesday

I came across this cartoon on ragamuffinsoul.com.


It pretty much sums up how I feel about a lot of Christians and churches that I grew up around. One of the most important things we can do as Christians is to show Christ's love to others. You don't see Christ beating God's love into the people in the Bible. However, it is just as important that we defend our faith and stand up for what is right in the eyes of God even if it means disrupting society, just as Jesus did when He overturned the tables in the temple courts. This is why I get so conflicted over issues such as the one happening in California right now. I believe God intended marriage to be a union of one man and one woman for life. It is a sacred covenant and one that should be defended and respected. So here is my question of the week... brought to us by Carlos Whittaker at ragamuffinsoul.com

"How do we stand for what we belive in without standing in what we dont?

14 comments:

mwilmeth said...

I think John 13:35 should be our guide in every bit of what we do. So if we stand against something we must make sure we are standing against something and not someone. Martin Luther King Jr. emphasized that Jesus called us to love our enemies, even the policemen that would hose them down, beat them, and falsely imprison them as they stood up for what was right. But that is what Christ called us to. That love isn't a feeling but can and should often be rather tough. Because we care about someone we must call out to them to do justice. That being said, I personally think we must carefully judge the things we are standing up against. We believe what we do because we have Christ. We can't expect those who do not have Christ to understand that. However injustice is injustice. On things such as abortion or racism or unjust systems and laws that cuase poverty, I feel that we absolutely must speak out against it, especially when those harmed do not have the power or vocal chords to speak up themselves.
--Matt Wilmeth

gogo said...

When talking about "Bible-thumpers," John MacArther said, "I'm not suggesting preachers ought to be sweaty, unkempt ranters and ravers who scream, yell, pound the pulpit, and thump the Bible. But Let's face it, except in very narrow, hyper-fundamentalist sects, such preachers are hardly in abundance these days. The imagery of the Bible-thumper has become an easy stereotype that is often used against those who simply believe straightforward proclamation of truth is more important than making "unchurched Harry" comfortable.
The weakness of the pulpit today does not stem from frantic cranks who harangue about hell; it is the result of men who compromise and who fear to speak God's Word powerfully, with conviction. The church is certainly not suffering from an overabundance of forthright preachers; rather, it seems glutted with men-pleasers(Gal 1:10)." I have to agree with him and would suggest that the church today has become more about comforts and entertainment then preaching truth. Isn't pointing out sin and calling others to repent what Christ did? Is this not one of the greatest thing we can do for the lost? Yes, we must love and show love, but people are dying in their sin and more often then not we hold the truth back in hopes that somehow they might get it, without us "preaching" to them.

“The churches of America need to stop focusing on entertaining people. They also need to stop tiptoeing through the tulips doctrinally for fear of being seeker insensitive. We need to get back to the Word of God, to the fundamentals of the faith, and we need to be willing to step on toes when necessary by confronting people with the truth of their sin and their need for repentance.” Dr. David R. Reagan

Tim said...

Thanks Matt, great use of scripture. Well said.
Gogo... I'm not sure McArther is an appropriate person to quote in this discussion. People like him are part of the problem. They would rather win the moral argument than win the souls of the people they are arguing with. Couple that with his doctrinal view of Election and you have a system of teaching that berates people on the basis of elitism and arrogance. That being said you don't see Christ either condemning or berating individuals who were outside the community of believers. It seems the only people he outwardly condemned were the religious leaders and the merchants outside the temple.

gogo said...

Well, let us think about this. When Jesus began preaching it was, “Repent for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mt 4:3). “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the gospel” (Mk 1:15) If he was not teaching about sin and calling people to repent of that sin, then how do they know what to repent of? He later (Mt 5:21-43) goes on to preach the about the Law. Several times during this sermon he says things like, “You fool, shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell (vs.22),” “if your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, then for your whole body to be thrown into hell (vs. 29),” “if your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell” (vs. 30). Yes, he also talks about loving others and turning the other cheek, but he also calls out people’s sin. He even denounced entire cities because they did not “repent.” “Then He began to denounce the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent… Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom, which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you” (Mt 11:20-24). He called an entire generation “wicked” (Lk 11:29). He cleansed the temple and said, “you have made it a robbers den” (Mk 11:17). All of this was pointing people to the real problem in their lives, sin.
Your right that He does not berate “individuals who were outside the community of believers,” but he does condemn sin and when he did so against the Spiritual Leaders should be taken into account as well. Why? Because He did so in straightforward ways and in many public setting which would have been a great way of getting all who could hear the message to start thinking deeply about their own lives and the sin that linger within.
If we were to hold back from pointing out sin in others lives then it would be reasonable to think that the Disciples and the early church would have known this and followed it. Peter called out peoples sins, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38). “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away” (Acts 3:19). Ananias and Sapphira must have missed the morning seeker sensitive service (Acts 5:1-11). Steven really went overboard, “You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in the heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did” (Acts 7:51). Peter jumps all over Simons sinful act, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven” (Acts 8:20-22). In the book of Acts, where are the sermons telling sinners that God loved them and had a wonderful plan for their lives? You do not find them. Instead, you find sermons on guilty sinners who desperately need to repent of their sins.
What about the Apostle Paul? Well, anyone who reads his writings knows he points out sin in some very straightforward ways.
Look, God does love people and wants them to repent of their sins, but if we do not point out sin in the lives of people, even in ourselves, then how do we know what we need repentance from? How would we know what we need to stand up against? I agree that we cannot just go around shouting out SINNER everywhere we go. We must love and give ourselves away, but we can never become so concerned with what others might think that it dictates the message of Christ into a watered-down version for the purpose of comfort and entertainment.

Tim said...

again, gogo, every instance you use to substantiate your argument is directed towards religious leaders and believers. You still don't answer my initial question thus lending credibility to my initial response. It looks to me like you have a lot to say. Maybe you should consider your own blog. Thanks for the post!

Jimmy said...

Tim,

The ground that we stand on is the same ground the Apostles stood on. The historic truth of the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15). The book of Acts is a great place to go. The example set forth was the proclamation of the Gospel not arguing for moral reform. The cartoon was an atheist and a pastor. Our answer to the atheist is the same answer Paul has for them in Romans 1. God has revealed that He exists by the fact that creation exists. The reason they don't believe in God is not because there isn't clear evidence but because they supress the truth of that evidence. My question to the atheist is "what is your evidence for why you believe there is no God". My evidence for why I believe what I believe is the historic provable fact that Jesus rose from the dead and walked out of the tomb. You mentioned California, I'm assuming this is the gay marriage issue. The Christian response is no different than how Jesus responded to the woman at the well. We give them the biblical answer that homosexuality (which is a form of adultery)is sin and with the same breath tell them they can find forgivness in Jesus. We tend to rate sin, as if homosexuality will get you into hell quicker than lying. Gal. 5 and 1 Co. 6 tell us differently. In short christians need to stick to Gospel proclamation and not forget the second tablet of the law which calls us to love our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus spent a great deal of time with prostitutes and tax collectors because they, unlike the Pharisees, saw their need for a Savior.

I agree with gogo in that the greatest love we can show someone is to give them the Gospel.

Good Question

As a side note your comments about MacArthur are untrue and slanderous. But we can talk about that over lunch.

Your Buddy,

Jimmy

Paul said...

I agree with Jimmy and gogo because I think they are biblically accurate in their argument. Tim, like Jimmy said, your “example set forth was the proclamation of the Gospel not arguing for moral reform.” With that in mind, it sounds like you are saying (which I do not think you are) that we should overlook the teachings found throughout the Bible and only focus on the red letters. How can anyone overlook the great examples of preaching and teachings of the Apostles found in the book of Acts and throughout the Bible? Were they not “filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8)?” Did not some of them learn directly from Jesus Himself? Did they forget the lessons from Jesus when they preached those sermons that some might call “seeker insensitive” or “Bible bashing?” Can anyone possibly think that those of us over 2000 years removed from the life, death and resurrection of Christ have figured out a better way of reaching the lost and teaching the truth then what we find in the Bible? It might be helpful for you to go back and read over what Jimmy and gogo said and rethink your argument. Because if you are right, then the Apostles were wrong when they taught such harsh messages of sin and repentance (to the point of being stoned, killed, imprisoned, beaten etc…), and if you are wrong, where does that leave your message? We are not to be the ones offending others; God’s word will do that (1 Peter 2:6-8). We are called to teach all of His word and not a watered down versions of it in order to make others happy (Luke 24:46-48). This preaching of God’s word (which includes love, grace, salvation, sin, repentances etc…) is what leads to a true understanding sin in our lives and sincere repentance.

You also said, in reference to MacArthur, “People like him are part of the problem.” You might not agree with MacArthur on some issues, but after making a statement like that, you might want to read some of his wonderful books and learn more about him. He is a man of God and I think you could learn a lot from him and other Calvinist like him.

Tim said...

Great discussion guys! Let me say this to clear some things up. I am not seeker sensitive. I am not Calvinist. I am a Christian who wants to share the love of God in a way that Christ intended. I think the point missing from every argument other than Matt's is that the 95% of the New Testament was written to believers who had already accepted the premise that Christ was the son of God and had chosen Him as their Lord. When Paul admonishes the church in Corinth for their "sinful desires" it was believers he was admonishing. When Jesus used harsh language such as "Brood of Vipers" and "sinner" it was to the believers He spoke harshly. When Paul instructed Timothy to right the wrongs on leadership in the Church in Ephesus it was the believers Timothy was to correct. You cannot take concepts that were meant for believers out of context and apply them to non-believers. I don't find an example in the Bible of these concepts being used to teach non-believers. Even Paul when spending time in the Acropolis did not berate the non-believer. We could spend a lot of time on this but I don't think his approach can be considered seeker sensitive and yet he did not act in the way portrayed by the cartoon. You cannot take Paul’s admonition of the church and apply it to non-believers as if they were a part of the church.

The point here is there many believers that act more like the Pharisees than like Christ and are then offended when they are not respected as believers. Whether I believe McArthur is one of those people is irrelevant. While you all have great points I think Matt has the best argument for the question asked. Thanks for you posts! I'm glad to know people are reading this.

Keith said...

Tim said: "They would rather win the moral argument than win the souls of the people they are arguing with. Couple that with his doctrinal view of Election and you have a system of teaching that berates people on the basis of elitism and arrogance."

Having not only been listening to MacArthur's sermons for over 20 years, reading most of the books he has written, as well as attending the church where he preaches on multiple occasions, I don't ever recall hearing a tone, message, etc. that led me to believe he was more interested in winning an argument rather than proclaiming Christ and Him crucified. I also fail to see the connection your inclusion of MacArthur's view of election has to the discussion at hand, other than to cast a negative (in your beliefs which you are certainly entitled to) shadow over a ministry that unashamedly preaches the Word of God. I would be curious as to why you said that. I would also suggest you read "The Gospel According to Jesus" if you haven't already. You might be surprised at MacArthur's teaching/conclusions on the subject.

re: the subject at hand--if I understand the question correctly, I believe we live our lives according to our understanding of Scripture, speak out when given the opportunity, but understand, that, it is up to God to change the hearts of those who may hear or see us. A good example is found in Isaiah 6 when God tells Isaiah to preach, but then tells him that he's basically looking at a 90 percent failure rate. That didn't stop God from sending Isaiah, and it didn't stop Isaiah from preaching.

I also think we need to understand that we may "disrupt society" in the process, but in the end nothing changes or maybe the situation gets even worse. It's entirely possible that whether we had spoken up or not, God had/has already determined the course. In other words, some of what we are seeing is actually God's judgment/wrath against men for their unbelief/unrepentant sin. My two cents. I tried very had not to be "harsh."

Sincerely,
Another one of those danged Calvinists
8^)>

Jimmy said...

Dear Tim,

Since you’re putting this out in public I am compelled by conscience to respond. Gogo and Paul thanks for bringing Biblical clarity to this discussion. Quite honestly the only reason I initially responded is because I thought the comments, I might add unsubstantiated comments, about John MacArthur were unkind and sinful and should be recanted. Tim in your last post you stated that you are a Christian who wants to share the love of God as Christ intended. Please balance that desire with your comments about MacArthur especially when you accuse him of being more interested in winning the moral argument over seeing sinners come to Christ. Where is your evidence for an accusation like that!

You by virtue of your position in the church have influence on how others view Scripture. You need to be a little more careful with your arguments. Let me ask you this; what do you understand the Gospel to be? Is calling sinners to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ not part of your understanding of how Christ intends for us to love our neighbor? If 95% of the NT only applies to believers (where do you get that from?), what do you talk to non-believers about (unbiblical things)? Paul tells us in Romans that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation. No other message will save! Paul articulates for us that salvation is both justification (being declared righteous) and sanctification (the life long process of becoming more like Christ), so the Gospel is for believers and non-believers. Brood of vipers was directed to the Pharisees and Sadducees, who are hardly described as believers. Does lovingly presenting the Gospel to the non-believing world count as "berating" them (your words)? Help us understand what you understand our mission as believers is here on earth. I understand it to be the Great Commission.

I'm certainly no "MacArturite", while I've read many of his books and respect him as a faithful exegete of Scripture -- he is still a man and capable of error. However if your issue is Election then don't use Spurgeon and Piper -both Calvinists.

Yes many Christians do act like Pharisees -- they go their own way. The only message God has promised to bless is His Word and the only message that saves is the Gospel (1 Corinthians 15).

Blessings,

Jimmy

Tim said...

Thanks guys great stuff. I obviously view this differently. I only hope that if John McArthur calls me out in his blog you would be so quick to defend me.

Keith said...

"I obviously view this differently.".

We show people--believers and unbelievers alike--the love of Christ when we disagree (sometimes passionately) with charity. I'd much rather end a discussion with a "tie" than spend time trying to beat someone into seeing things my way.

I used to visit another blog on a regular basis until recently. One of the commentors seemed--as you put it, more intent on winning the argument and trying to make everyone see things his way than he was in discussing the topic. It got boring/frustrating real quick.

What did you do that you think JM may be calling you out on? Just curious so I can begin preparing your defense.
8^)>

Tim said...

Great way to end this discussion Keith! We've come a long way baby!!

Keith said...

PS: I still think you should read "The Gospel According to Jesus." If I could only own two books, I'd grab my Bible and that one.