Tuesday, May 30, 2006

a troublesome question

One of the most troublesome questions or objections to what the Bible says and Christianity in general is this: What about the person in Africa (or wherever) who has never heard of Christ, what happens to them? Another way that this objection may be phrased is this, "What about the innocent person in Africa who never had the chance to believe in Christ?"

These objections may seem to be the proverbial nail in the coffin of Christian theology and logic, but I want to assure you that they are not. I won't go into a huge amount of detail on this post, but let me quickly answer the question for you, and then direct you to a good resource where you can listen to a great teacher discuss this very question.

Question: What about the innocent person in Africa who never had the chance to believe in Christ?
Answer: The innocent person will not be a recipient of the wrath of God, for God will have no reason to be wrathful against them.

Explanation: God will show his wrath on those who have transgressed His law. Therefore, if someone has never done that, then they will not be in jeopardy. However, this premise is flawed because no one, other than Christ Jesus Himself, has ever lived a blameless and sinless life.

Question: What about the person in Africa (or wherever) who has never heard of Christ, what happens to them?
Answer: They will be judged according to the standards of God.

Explanation: One is not sent to Hell only because one has rejected Christ as savior. People are sent to Hell because of the multitudes of sin that needs to be punished by a holy and just God. Is rejecting Christ as Savior a sin? Yes, but it is not the only sin that causes eternal perdition.

R.C. Sproul is doing a great series called "Objections Answered" and he deals with this exact question on the Monday, May 29 program. It is available to listen to with either a broadband or dial-up connection. Just click the picture of Dr. Sproul on the sidebar of this blog and then click on "Past Radio Broadcasts" on his website to listen. It is a really good treatment of this question.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Are you good enough to go to heaven?

I have been so blessed and blown away by some of the roundabout feedback that I have been getting concerning the "are you a good person?" site that I created and linked. The most common comment that I have received is basically this, "No matter what I say - whether or not I admit that I am a liar, a thief, or a blasphemer; I still end up going to hell!" Now, I recognize the frustration that you may come to, and I anticipated it (to an extent, anyway), but the site is designed to be a bludgeon against any prideful conscience that may read it.

There are a few goals for that site, and I will try to explain why it is the way that it is.

People (everyone) are very sinful!

You will notice that if you answer "no" to a question as to whether you are a liar, a thief, a blasphemer, an adulterer at heart, or a murderer at heart that I ask very pointed questions. "Really?" or "Are you sure you’ve never stolen anything? You’ve already said that you’re a liar?" are my default reactions, because I have not met anyone who has never stolen anything (downloaded or copied music or movies illegally), been angry, or lied.

The problem is that most people (in fact, most Christians) do not have a real understanding of how utterly vile our actions are in the sight of a holy God. It is true that if you are a born again Christian, you are seen by God as being perfect in Christ, but you are not perfect yet. Your actions, thoughts, and words are peppered with sin and evil that will never totally cease until (a.) you die or (b.) Christ comes again.

I have attempted to be so careful as to word the questions and answers on this test to say that if you have sinned in any of these ways that you are guilty before God and that you should go to hell as a just punishment for your offenses. I think that Christians should be the first people to admit and agree with that fact that, yes, all people should go hell for all of the vile deeds that we have done against God. But, sadly, many Christians that I have interacted with do not understand sin enough and therefore do not agree with this fact.

Hell is real and reasonable:

The first goal with this quiz is not only to open the eyes of the quiz taker to the extensive amount of sin that we all do, but it is to confront the quiz taker in a way that will not allow them to avoid the topic of specific sin. And once the extent of sin is established, I make the case for the reasonableness of hell.

Basically, everyone would agree that if I kill someone, that I deserve some sort of punishment, and a severe one at that. If I steal something from you, you would desire some sort of repercussion, it might not matter what I stole as much as the fact that I stole it from you. It is the same way with God. The “small” infractions of God’s law are nonetheless violations of His law, and therefore they offend Him greatly. If we understand it this way, then the idea that God has a punishment in store for those who break His laws is reasonable. As far as the eternality of hell goes…well, basically, God created us to live forever. If we are born again, we will live eternally with Christ in Heaven. If we are not born again, we will live eternally in torment in Hell.

the Gospel needs to be understood properly:

If I have a low view of sin (my personal sin), then I have a low view of what Christ voluntarily endured on the cross on behalf of all of those who would believe. If I don’t see myself as a wretched and filthy creature in light of God’s righteousness, then I cannot truly understand the gospel. The Prophet Isaiah was one of the most godly men in all of history – a prophet and a writer of scripture, but yet he wrote this in Isaiah 6:5, “Then I said, "Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts." He understood that even though he was God’s chosen instrument and he was saved by faith in God that he did not even feel able to speak what God wanted him to speak because of his sinful condition. Isaiah had a high view of God and a real view of his own sinfulness.

the only Jesus is the one shown in the Bible:

I make a statement in a few different places on the test that if you believe in a god who will not send law breakers to Hell, or who does not see violations of the law as very egregious, then you don’t believe in the God of the Bible, nor do you believe in the Jesus of the Bible. I make the statement that beliefs like, “my god would never send people to hell,” or “my god is all loving and not full of wrath” that your god does not exist. Now why would I say that? Number one, because it is true. You may say that you believe in the God of the Bible, but if you have made the God of the bible into a god who does not see sin as evil and vile, and he does not see that all humanity deserves hell, then you have made a god to suit your own fancies out of a pseudo-biblical framework. And because the god of your mind is not the accurate god of the bible, but a figment of your imagination, he does not exist.

This has been one of the more hotly “at issue” comments of the whole test. This comes from one of my deepest held beliefs that just as someone who places their faith in the Mormon understanding of Jesus (basically an exalted angel, and brother of the devil) or the Jehovah’s Witness understanding of Jesus (Michael the Arch Angel) will find that they put their faith in fiction and it will not save them from the wrath of God, so will believing in a neutered god of a personal making who is not angry at sin.

I believe that a true believer in Christ, when confronted with the difference between the Christ of the Bible and other religions’ faulty understanding of Christ, will examine the whole of the scriptures and come to a more correct (not perfect) understanding of the person of Christ and the nature of God. It is the person who is not a true believer who will be confronted with the same basic characteristics of who Christ is and reject them in spite of what the Word of God says.

I think that “should” is overlooked

I was careful to make it clear that any lawbreaker “should” go to hell. I tried very hard to keep from saying “does”, “will”, or “is” when referring to condemnation (I may go through and make these words bold as well as a larger font).

I have been saved by God’s grace. That being the case, I know and will tell you in no uncertain terms that God should send me to hell based solely on my actions in light of His holiness. It is only by the grace of God and the substitutionairy and sacrificial death of Christ that I have assurance that I will not go to hell.

The point is this: the entire site does not ever mention Christ up until the very last page, and you can only get to that page after you have identified that you agree that God’s holiness demands serious consequences, and if it were up to you or me alone, that would end with us in hell.

where is the good news?

Finally, many people have made comments to the effect of, “no matter what I choose, I end up going to hell” and they wonder where the gospel message is. This is possibly the most difficult decision that I had to make when creating this test. The gospel message is only accessed by click on the options that acknowledge the fact that because of our transgressions, we all should go to hell. Once you do that, you will be given the gospel message, and it is beautiful.

Monday, May 22, 2006

my summer mountain

One of the major burdens that I have for the church (my local church as well as the universal church) is concern for the lack of the depth of biblical knowledge by professing Christians. This concern and burden is what has motivated the direction of this blog (hopefully that comes as no surprise to regular readers). Early this year, I began bringing this concern to the leadership of our church in the form of my desire to have a Sunday school curriculum that goes over the main and undisputable doctrines of our faith in some depth.

Much to my surprise and excitement, the pastor and deacons have decided to go ahead with this idea in the summer. Actually, it is better than what I had hoped and lobbied for. I originally wanted to have 1 major doctrine covered each week over the course of the 12 weeks of summer, but the decision was made to cover 1 doctrine in a 4 week period, so that we would get through 3 this summer. Not only is this better, but once I really thought more about this, I found out that there is absolutely no way to cover any of the doctrines in any fair way in one week, and it is actually going to be really tough to smash the necessary information into 4 weeks (40 minute sessions each week).

Now, here is my mountain:

My pastor and the deacons have asked me to teach one of these 4 week sessions. I am excited at this opportunity as well as a little nervous. I will be teaching Christology (the theology and doctrine of Christ). Not that any of the other doctrines that I could cover (salvation, God the Father, the Holy Spirit, Sin, Man, etc.) would be less important or more important than the doctrine of Christ, but it seems to me that the Bible’s primary focus from beginning to end is to tell mankind of our state before an almighty God (sinful and deserving of destruction) and the glorious and gracious plan of God to bring us back into a right relationship with Him. This plan of salvation is only accomplished through the person of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

It is a huge task and it will be a large challenge for me to do this and be thorough, precise, and concise. Any prayer that you will submit on my behalf and on behalf of the faithful study and communication of the Word will be greatly coveted.

What that means for the blog:

My goal is to continue writing frequently as I have been doing this year (May has been a “hiccup” in the amount of material that I look at for pretty dumb reasons, so don’t ask), and I hope write articles about peripheral issues that I may not be able to cover in depth during any of my 4 week sessions on Christology. I hope to make this a bigger resource for the church body as a whole while tackling this amazingly glorious and wonderful study on Christ.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

da Vinci overload

So, I have not really posted anything related to the event of the summer, but I want to say something about it now. "The da Vinci Code" presents many different not-so veiled attacks on the Christian faith, the Bible, and on Christ Himself. That being true, I have not been as energized as many Christian "leaders" have been. There seem to be two main themes that people have when writing books, producing DVD's, or speaking out about this new movie:

  1. They are trying to inform you of the issues so that you can converse with people about the issues raised in the book and movie with the goal of evangelism.
  2. There is a general "fear" that many Christians will be led astray or swayed by the ideas brought forth in this film.
I think that the initial goal is a good and noble one, and Christians should be aware of how popular culture is assaulting our faith. I almost choke when I hear the second sentiment, though. My cynicism is not aimed at the fact that pop culture does have adverse effects on and causes more difficulties for Christians, but it is aimed at the broad and flippant use of the term “Christian” to apply to people holding any number of ideas about Christ.

I don't think that Christians, true born-again Christians, will be blown away by reading the novel or by watching this silly movie. Some questions may be raised, and there may be some serious concerns that have to be addressed, but I don't believe that any true Christian will lose his or her faith because of it.

The problem is that being considered a Christian, or using that word to loosely affiliate oneself with a particular portion of a society is so cliché and it carries too little weight. There is no necessary affiliation with an institution or system of beliefs nor a creed that one confesses or holds to as a better basis on which to define Christians and separate us from any other pagan religion or cult. This “wishy-washy” definition of Christianity is the standard because so much of “practicing” Christians don’t have a clue as to what the true gospel is and therefore cannot be saved, and many church leaders and clergy do not make the true biblical gospel the main message from their pulpits and motivation for their ministries.

"The da Vinci Code" is a blasphemous and offensive and should be seen as an assault by popular culture to defame the Name and Person of Christ. The fact that Christ is attacked and the fact that we Christians, as His body, are also attacked and maligned should come as no surprise because the Bible promises us that we will experience trials and tribulations throughout this life (read 1st Peter).

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

an apologetic e-mail

Over the past many months I have been in an ongoing conversation with a co-worker regarding spiritual issues. He and I have agreed and disagreed on things of varying degree of importance (essential verses non-essential). However, one issue has come up a few times, most recently in a conversation that occurred yesterday after work, and I wanted to articulate to him (and to you) why teachers who hold heretical theological positions need to be silenced. This is impossible for us to do on a wide scale with the different media outlets that these teachers occupy, but we must do that individually (at least) and in our church assemblies.

The specific theological issue that brought up this debate is a modalistic understanding of God. Modalism (also called Oneness Pentecostalism1) is a heresy that has its roots in sabellianism (an age old condemned teaching and historically recognized and affirmed as heretical). The main issue at stake is the Trinity. While there are many complex (but important) ways to explain the differences, I will try to show you the crux of the issue:

Orthodox Christian: "The doctrine of the Trinity means that there is one God who eternally exists as three distinct Persons--the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Stated differently, God is one in essence and three in person. These definitions express three crucial truths: (1) The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct Persons, (2) each Person is fully God, (3) there is only one God."2

Modalism: "There is one God, Creator of all things, infinitely perfect, and eternally existing in three Manifestations: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit."3

Boiling this difference down: Modalism will use the word "manifestation" to refer to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, where we would use the word "person." In other words we would affirm that Christ is the incarnation of the 2nd person of the Trinity (God the Son). Modalism would say that Christ is the incarnation of the 1st person of the Trinity, because there is no 2nd or 3rd person of the Trinity in modalism.

Some people say that this is "splitting hairs" or being "too picky." The reason that we are picky about this is that we believe in a different God (a Trinitarian God and the modalistic god are very different). If we believe in a different Jesus (even though God the Son's name is Jesus, and the god of modalism's name is Jesus), we have a different faith. If I believed that Jesus was a red headed woman who lived in Brooklyn in the 1850's, and I believed in this Jesus with all of my heart, I would be guilty of breaking the 2nd commandment, and find myself in Hell when I die because no god of my imagination can wash away my sin.

Also, quite frankly, if we are not picky about this we can't be picky about anything that we believe in. Christ is the cornerstone.

That being said, and the groundwork being laid, here is the explanation that I gave to my co-worker as to why this is such an important issue:

I want to humbly apologize if I came off as anything other than a steadfast defender of the gospel and contender for the faith that we have been given (Jude 3). Perhaps, if I write down my concerns, my reasons for being so ardently opposed to any teaching of anyone who is not Trinitarian would be clear.

My concern, and I tried to articulate this, is this: By definition, a person who believes that Christ is not eternal, the Father is not eternal, the Spirit is not eternal, and that these three are not distinct in their personhood, yet eternal, yet all 1 God is not a Christian because if these people believe in Jesus, it is not the Jesus of the Bible because they ascribe attributes to him that are different than the ones that He ascribed to Himself.

It is clear that our faith must be built upon the foundation of Christ, and not another foundation (see 1 Cor 3:11; Isaiah 28:16; Ephesians 2:20; 1 Peter 2:4ff). If we have a different foundation, we have a different faith. It is clear from 1 Cor 3 that even those that build (do works) on the right foundation will have things "burned away" for various reasons, but the faith that they have will still save them "as through fire."

The point is that if we reject (and we should) all theological, social, and personal teaching by a Mormon even though he claims to use the Bible as his authority, we should also not listen to any false teacher who is inside of the evangelical church. The Scriptures warn us about these types of teachers who are "inside" the ranks but not actual believers (Matt 7:15; Acts 20:30; 2 Peter 2:1-10; 1 John 2:19).

A Mormon, Jehovah's Witness, a Modalist, or an atheist may have great ideas on a whole lot of issues (finances, health, education, vocation, etc.), and we can glean some things from them. But, if they claim to teach us from the scriptures about things (whatever they are), their foundation is not Christ, and so we should divorce ourselves totally from their teachings. Why? As an example, it only takes a small drop of strychnine in a glass of pure water to be deadly.

No sermon has nothing to do with God, or noting to say about God because all scriptural understanding and application must be built on a proper understanding of who God is. Therefore, any sermon on any topic by someone who does not have a correct view of God will have fallacies in it from the beginning because it is being built on a different foundation.

Example: The early church was to reject the Judaizers (Titus 1:10-14) because of their false teaching. They were not told to listen to them and to sort out the good from the bad.

My overall reason for this ongoing concern is that I see false teachers being more accepted in evangelical circles, and when we do that, the gospel will be perverted, and people will not hear the true saving message of Christ Jesus.

attempting gentleness and reverence (1 Peter 3:15),

I hope that this is clarifying and that we can all be certain that this is not a small issue that we don't have to worry about. It is huge, and it needs to be defended. It is a difference between heaven and hell. The Jesus of modalism cannot save because he does not exist.

1 Most pentacostal churches are not of the "Oneness" belief. My understanding is that the reason for the name "Oneness Pentacostal" is that this heresy arose from the pentacostal movement, but was condemned and ostricized by them. So, this is not a heretical condemnation of my brothers and sisters who are pentacostal in their understanding of Spiritual gifts. Most pentacostal churches that I have ever heard of are Trinitarian.

2 Can you explain the doctrine of the Trinity and its biblical support? This is a good paper defining and defending the doctrine of the Trinity put out by Desiring God Ministries (John Piper's ministry).

3 The Potter's House Belief Statement

Sunday, May 07, 2006

standards for believers (part 2)

Because of the fact that the Contenders Sunday school class is made up of young adults, I am not going into great depth and detail on the "practical outliving of healthy doctrine in good works" and developing the "practical examples of what these good works should be"1 for older men and women as shown in Titus 2:2-4a at this time. That being said, I do want to briefly look at the character traits of the older members the church to have an idea of what we are to aim for.

First of all, "older" refers to physical age (50 or 60 and older) and not spiritual maturity. If you want to read an examination of how we fit into the categories of spiritual maturity, read 1 John 2:12-14. Listen to following the statement about John Wesley when he was an old man:

"At the age of 83 - after having traveled some 250,000 miles on horseback, preached more than 40,000 sermons, and produced some 200 books and pamphlets - John Wesley regretted that he was unable to read and write for more than 15 hours a day without his eyes becoming too tired to work. After his 86th birthday, he admitted to an increasing tendency to lie in bed until 5:30 in the morning!"2

"Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance." (Titus 2:2 NASU)
  • Temperate – or sober who “avoids extravagance and overindulgence.”3
  • Dignified – being honorable “behaving with reverent propriety”4
  • Sensible – “prudent, or sober-minded”5
  • sound in faith, love and perseverance – having longer life experience, they should be more firm in these matters (see Titus 1:13,14 referring to sound faith)
Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, (Titus 2:3-4 NASU)
  • Reverent in behavior – “came to refer to that which is appropriate to holiness.” 6
  • Not malicious gossips – a "slanderer or false accuser" and the word "malicious" is used many times in the NT to describe Satan.7
  • Not drunkards – ”as to be under the power and mastery of [drink].”8
  • Teaching what is good – a clear urging to use teaching gifts in a correct way
One key thing to remember is that these character traits don't just start out of the blue. It seems to me that these are traits that a person grows into. In other words, these traits should be evident in younger men and women, but they should grow and mature with age to be "ripe" in you and me when we are old.

As for the "application" part of this blog entry...well, there isn't one. The reason is that it seems to me that all of the different descriptive terms used for older men and women are pretty self evident. In the next part of this series devoted to the practical living out of sound theology found in Titus 2, I will tackle the roles of young women and men.

1 Believer's Bible Commentary by William MacDonald p. 2139

2 Titus, MacArthur New Testament Commentary by John MacArthur Jr. p.73

3 Ibid. p. 74

4 Parallel Classic Commentary on the New Testament compiled & edited by Mark Water p.977, Titus Commentary by A.R. Fausset

5 Barnes’ Notes, Electronic Database.[Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft]

6 Titus, MacArthur New Testament Commentary by John MacArthur Jr. p. 77

7 Ibid. p. 77

8 Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: New Modern Edition, Electronic Database.[Copyright (c) 1991 by Biblesoft] Matthew Henry

Thursday, May 04, 2006

quick thoughts on Psalm 1

Anorexia and Bulimia are serious eating disorders. For those of us who have never personally struggled with these disorders, we can never understand the mindset of people who feel compelled to starve themselves or to cause themselves to vomit after eating a meal. Most people don't struggle with these problems, and so this may seem to be a silly problem. The solution to these problems is simple and direct. Eat and don't gag yourself!

Christian, how long has it been since you've read your Bible? Yesterday? Last week in church? A month ago?

How consistent is your focused time reading the Bible? Do you go a long time without reading the Bible and then immerse yourself and try to devour an entire book of the bible, or large chunks at one time?

Do those questions sound similar to anything else? It should. So many Christians are prone to be either biblically bulimic or anorexic while being gluttonous in almost every other area of life (food, entertainment, etc). With problems like this, it is no wonder that modern Christianity is being so diluted and polluted with false teachings.

"He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD." (Deuteronomy 8:3 NASU)

Moses is comparing the very food that we eat to the very word (in this case, the Law) of God. If we do not feed ourselves regularly with the spiritual nourishment that God has so graciously provided, how can we ever expect to be able to be more than simply "existing" while not growing and getting stronger? One could even wonder that if you could go for days, weeks, or months without much or any time devoted to reading the word of God that you may, in fact, not be saved at all.

That being said, there of course is no spiritual requirement for a specific amount of Bible reading in order to receive or maintain salvation, so lest I appear to be legalistic (adding anything to salvation other than grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone), I will explain what I mean. If we are new creations in Christ and born of the Spirit, shouldn't we desire the Word of God? If I can go through life and pay God and His Word less attention than I do trivial and temporal things, it just might be a good sign of where my heart is (see Matthew 6:19-21). Regardless, if we claim allegiance to the King of kings, we ought to know what he wants us to know.
How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree {firmly} planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers. (Psalm 1:1-3 NASU)

If we immerse ourselves in the Word, we will have the strength to stand in this fallen world. We will also not be deceived by false doctrines because we have no basis on which to refute them (Ephesians 4:14).

Monday, May 01, 2006

standards for believers (part 1)

Paul transitions from talking to Titus about qualified elders (Titus 1:5-9) and false leaders (Titus 1:10-16) to now talking to Titus about Titus (Titus 2:1), and then to speak concerning the rest of the members of the church body (Titus 2:2-10).

concerning Titus (Titus 2:1):

Over and above giving him the qualifications for an elder, Paul is speaking directly to Titus and admonishing him to "speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine." This seems to imply more than just the work of preaching and teaching sound doctrine as a pastor or elder and includes more casual, constant, and daily conversations. It was referring to this type of practical application of sound doctrine that John MacArthur wrote, "The Bible never divorces doctrine from duty, truth from behavior....Those who claim the name of God have always been commanded to live godly lives."1 Adam Clarke does a good job of pinpointing this concept in his commentary,

"This is a conclusion drawn from the preceding chapter: the Judaizing teachers not only taught a false doctrine, but they led an unholy life; Titus was to act directly opposite; he must teach a sacred doctrine, and the things which become it; he must proclaim the truth, and illustrate that truth. The people must not only be well instructed, but they must be holy in their lives. Principle and practice must go hand in hand."2

I think that it is a good thing to understand was that Titus was not just to speak about the truth of the substitutionary death of Christ on the cross for those who would believe, the deity of Christ, the resurrection, or any number of other key doctrinal issues. The whole point of this chapter is the outward living or action of believers and what it should properly look like in the different demographic groups of believers. Paul makes it very clear that Titus is to speak these things boldly by the fact that Paul reiterates this statement at the end of the chapter, "These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you." (Titus 2:15 NASU)

We also notice that "fitting for sound doctrine" are the types of words that Titus is to speak. The Greek for "sound doctrine" is the same as is used in Titus 1:9 for what an elder is to use in order to refute false teaching and exhort people.

At this point, I think that it is fitting for us to take two small tangents relating to the admonition in this passage.

tangent #1: speech

The first one is dealing with speech. As Christians, what should govern our speech? Or better yet, how should we govern our speech? I would like to suggest a few passages to think about and to help with how to govern our speech.
  • Proverbs 4:24 - Do not let your speech be lying
  • Matthew 12:34 - What you think about and what you fill your life with will permeate your speech. Also, a frightening reminder that everything ever said will be brought up when God judges.
  • Ephesians 4:14,15 - We are to speak truth in love. Not one or the other, but at the same time. Love or compassion should always be present in our conversation. At the same time, it is sometimes necessary to say things that are unsettling in order to make the truth known to someone.
  • Ephesians 4:29 - No unwholesome word…. We are not given a “forbidden” list of words, but we are given a more difficult standard to abide by.
  • Ephesians 5:3-6 - Our talk must not only be wholesome, but we are specifically instructed to avoid lewd and base talking or perverted joking.
  • Philippians 4:8 - This verse captures the idea of the chicken and the egg relating to good speech. The “chicken” must be sound thought on good things so that your speech can be wholesome and edifying.
  • Colossians 3:8,9 - This is a specific admonition not to be abusive in our speech.
tangent #2: sound doctrine

I am becoming ever more convinced that one of the bigger problems in the modern evangelical church is the watering down of doctrine or the de-emphasis of teaching, learning, and studying sound doctrine. This is seen in many different areas of the modern church, but perhaps none more clearly than in the idea of church growth or having seeker sensitivity. Seemingly, one of the prevailing ideas and methods of growing large churches is to not teach sound doctrine. If we don't teach the doctrines of the Bible, we cannot truly understand the other doctrines of the Bible. For instance, if I wanted to build my church and only talk about the love of God, and never His terrible wrath, I could not really ever deal with the problem of sin in an honest and biblical way. The problem gets bigger, because if we don't understand sin, we cannot understand the cross. If we don't understand the cross, then the exclusivity of Christ is easier questioned and disregarded3 The focus of church has been sinfully shifted from the glory of God and the fellowship and edification of the saints to be one of evangelism (at best). The idea is to draw unbelievers inside the church and then evangelize them. Unfortunately, it seems like we have seen that we can draw large crowds, but once you have a large crowd it is awfully difficult to preach a message that will undoubtedly offend them and cause them to not return. "Pastors are to concentrate on the spiritual depth of their congregations and allow God to take care of the breadth."3

1 Titus, MacArthur New Testament Commentary by John MacArthur Jr. p. 71

2 Adam Clarke's Commentary, Electronic Database, [Copyright (c) 1996 by Biblesoft] by Adam Clarke

3 Because if I'm not that bad, and Christ's death was something other than enduring the full wrath of God that I should have experienced...then any other "divine" system will do just as well as Christianity.

3 Titus, MacArthur New Testament Commentary by John MacArthur Jr. p. 71

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