Marc5Solas is a Meany Pants

 

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I received a comment recently which I think deserves an honest response.  While I’m using this particular comment, it’s not to single this reader out. I get this comment (or one much like it) on a daily basis.  I’d like to use this opportunity to respond.

I hope this comes across as intended: In love toward those who hold this view, but in vicious contention for the truth involved.

Below is the tweet in question, and one of several responses I received:

 

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Thank you for taking the time to read and respond to my quote. I don’t want to single you out, but as I get this type of response occasionally, I’d like to respond to it and give others something to consider as they draft similar responses.

I’d like to start by praising God that you “love Jesus will all your heart”.. but to jump the gun here a bit.. I’d have to ask, which Jesus?

The Jesus who is one of many ways, and who is the same as the Mormon Jesus of Joel Osteen?

The modalist Jesus (not part of the trinity) of TD Jakes?

The Jesus of Paula White who promises “financial abundance” as a promise of the Atonement?

 

“God uses us all to bring glory to Him”

 

Amen! Some will be used to His glory in showing His grace, and others used as a means to show His perfect attribute of wrath.  It is, however, our role to point out false teachers within the body of Christ. I see absolutely no scriptural guidance to allow them to continue, unchecked, simply because “God uses them”.  Paul, in his first letter to the church in Corinth said this very thing.. that there must be heretics:

 

“in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.” (1 Corinthians 11:19, ESV)

 

“I, personally, have been blessed and touched by some of the things several of these men have said.”

 

At the risk of sounding corny, “Even a broken clock is right twice a day.”  While there are certainly very generic “christian-ish” or “Jesus” tweets that I would agree with from these false teachers, you don’t have to dig very deep or let them speak very long before you realize that they are in fact teaching blatant heresy.

 

“This breaks my heart.”

 

If you’re talking about believers being misled by heretical teaching, then yes, this breaks my heart as well.

 

“Make sure your heart, Marc5Solas, is full of HIM and not yourself, so He can use you.”

 

But He uses everyone, right? You said so in your first sentence. In all sincerity, I don’t trust my heart. It is wicked above all things. And I pray, daily, that my “stupid-self” wouldn’t in any way hinder my efforts to spread His gospel.

 

“What you have just said makes me turn away from anything you say. I will no longer “like” your page. I love Jesus with all my heart and am deeply hurt by your judgemental and negative comments.”

 

I wish I could say that I didn’t see this coming, but it happens every..single..time.

The very people who accuse me of being judgmental will end their posts being judgmental.  Aren’t you, by saying that I’m judgmental and negative (and saying that you will turn away from anything I say) being, well…. judgmental and negative?

Am I being judgmental? Yes. I am judging their teaching against the faith “delivered once and for all” to the saints.  Do you not agree that we are to, as scripture dictates,examine teachings in light of scripture? And in doing so, are we not to warn brothers and sisters of false teachers? If so, by the very command of scripture we are to not only judge, but warn our brothers and sisters about these teachings!

If you think this small tweet was negative, I’d submit the following from Paul as he identified false teachers by name:

“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— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 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. 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.” – Galatians 1:6-11

Paul is saying that anyone teaching a different gospel should be accursed! (Pretty judgmental and negative, isn’t it?)

In Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth, he called these false teachers false apostles and deceitful workmen.

In 2 John, we are told that if anyone brings another gospel we are not to receive them in our houses or give them any greeting. (Well, that’s certainly not very nice.)

How about this from 1 Timothy:

“If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.”

 

or this from John 8?

 

“You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

 

or this from Matthew 23?

 

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.”

 

We have false teachers being called: Stupid, Children of Hell, Sons of the Devil, conceited, understanding nothing, deceitful workmen, accursed, whitewashed tombs, dogs returning to their own vomit, and in what would be completely unacceptable to our post-modern sensibilities, Paul says of the Judaizers in Galatia:

“I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!” – Galatians 5:12

 

And I’m judgmental, negative, and unworthy to be listened to because I said these three false teachers were not to be listened to?

 

I’d ask you to take a long, hard look at these men, their teachings, and ask yourself what scripture would have us do with them.  Play nice, or call them out as the false teachers they are in order to save brothers and sisters from false teaching, and to contend for the faith delivered to the saints.

 

If you want specifics on why these 3 (specifically) are false teachers, I recommend doing a deep study of their teaching. I won’t point you to biased articles, I’ll ask you to find them speaking, in their own words.  I’ll give a short summary next to each false teacher for those who don’t have the time or inclination to read the full articles:

 

Joel Osteen: (Positive Confession, Word of Faith, Prosperity Gospel)

 

Paula White: (Positive Confession, Word of Faith, Prosperity Gospel)

 

TD Jakes: (Denies the trinity, Word of Faith, Prosperity Gospel)

 

So, to circle back to my initial tweet to pastors:

 

If you’re people are posting quotes from these false teachers on their facebook walls, then someone is dropping the ball in:

Teaching: Teaching sound doctrine in order to show the contrast to heresy.

Discipleship: Nobody knows *everything* and discipleship is a lifelong process.  It is entirely possible that many in the church came from backgrounds where this type of false teaching wasn’t examined. It takes intentional work to disciple believers in proper teaching.

Discipline:  If your church is teaching orthodox theology, and discipleship is helping young/new believers grow in sound doctrine, people who continue to teach this false doctrine should be corrected and rebuked by their leadership.

 

So, I ask you in closing, sister… have you judged my teaching or have you judged my heart?  Is your issue with me simply that I said someone was wrong?  In that case, I would ask you on what logical basis would you call me wrong and judge what I wrote?

My issues with them aren’t personal, I simply call them out *by name* as Paul did to at least 8 false teachers, to warn others of their false teaching.

Sounds like a double standard.  And frankly, I’m OK with that.  I encourage anyone to read what I write on this blog, twitter, or facebook and examine it in light of scripture. I’m certainly not above question, and I’m open to correction.

I hope you’ll continue to read and respond to what I write.  I mean that sincerely.

 

Marc

Creepy White Vans

 

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As Daddy to three beautiful daughters, I worry. Now that 2 of them are teenagers, one of whom is driving, I worry a LOT.  I’d probably worry less if they looked like me, but unfortunately for me (and very fortunately for them) all three got my wife’s good looks.

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While the role of Father has always been that of protector, these days we don’t get much call to bar the door and ride out on horseback to meet the coming threat. No, we perform the mundane heroism of “waiting” and “picking up”.  Knowing when an event ends and when and where I need to be waiting in my truck to pick them up is a big part of what I do now.  And I’m glad to do it.  And all goes well as long as…

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1. I tell them where to find me.

2. They come to where I’ve told them I’ll be.

3. They get in my truck.

 

That’s pretty simple, right?  This is a text exchange I think most of us can relate to:

Me: “Be there in 10min”

Girls: K 🙂

Me: “I’ll be in the parking lot to your right when you walk out.”

Girls: k

And it works. I mean, how could you mess that up? But what if, Lord forbid, they decided to “meet me” somewhere else? Somewhere I never said I’d be? What if they decided to look for me in the alley behind the restaurant? What if they somehow got into the wrong car and rode with someone else? What if the intentionally got into another vehicle because they were promised something, like candy?

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What if they got into a creepy white van?

If the thought is chilling, good. I want the weight of this subject to rest heavily on you. What we’re talking about here is no less serious, or dangerous.

As we look around, we see many in the church lined up to climb into an endless stream of creepy white vans, to their peril.

See, God is, well GOD; Completely beyond our comprehension. Yet, he has revealed Himself to us and agreed to meet us. But we can only meet Him where He’s told us He would be found, and on His terms.

Where has God told us that He would meet us?  What are some of the creepy white vans we have chosen to climb into instead?

God has graciously condescended to be found among men. (Notice that He CON-descended and DE-scended.. we never, ever, ever A-scend.)  and He’s told us he could be found…

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In the Word:

God has revealed Himself to us in His word. We are saved by grace through faith in Christ.  And the means by which we come to be changed by the Holy Spirit is through the spoken words of the Gospel:

John 6:63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken
to you are spirit and life.
John 15:3-5 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me,
and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can
you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I
in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
John 17:17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

Acts 10:44 While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the
word.

Romans 1:16-17 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to
everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of
God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

Romans 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

1 Corinthians 1:21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through
wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.

Galatians 3:2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by
hearing with faith?

Galatians 3:5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by
works of the law, or by hearing with faith–

Ephesians 1:13 “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your
salvation; in who also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.”

James 1:18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind
of firstfruits of his creatures.

1 Peter 1:23-25 …since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable,
through the living and abiding word of God; for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the
flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains
forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.

He meets us in the Waters of Baptism, and the Bread and Wine of Communion:

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Baptism is water included in God’s command and combined with God’s Word; or as St. Paul says in Holy Scripture, “The washing of water with the word.” Through Baptism, we are made partakers of Christ’s death and resurrection. Since Baptism is connected to the Word and promise of God, it is truly a life-giving water, rich in grace—a washing of the new birth in the Holy Spirit.

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. – John 3:1-8

3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit – Titus 3:3-5

36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyonewhom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. – Acts 2:37-41

In Holy Communion God offers believers His body and blood under forms of bread and wine for Christians to eat and drink (1 Corinthians 10:16-17)

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And at the table of Communion, where we receive His Body and Blood:

26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” – Matthew 26:26-29

54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” – John 6:54-58

23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for[e] you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. – 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

So God has told us, clearly, where He would meet us; The Word, The Waters of Baptism, and The Communion table.  As long as we meet Him there, in the Christ-instituted, objective, means of grace we’ll find Him. Let that sink in.. God has CON-descended to be found by us. He’s told us where he’ll be, not through an oracle on the top of a remote mountain, not in a remote temple, but with us in the common means of word and water, bread and wine… and He’s there. We will FIND Him. What grace!

There’s nothing “magic” or “mystical” about these things. Words. Water. Bread. Wine. Nothing in and of themselves that makes them special, except… that God has promised to meet us there. The same dark parking lot which would terrify my daughters when they walk out of a restaurante becomes a place of safety when I flash my lights to let them know that I’m there. I’m where I told them they would find me.

Now, my girls are about as obedient as a Dad could ever hope for.  Sure, they’re still battling their sinful nature just like the rest of us, but what if in complete disobedience they decided to reach their destination by riding with a stranger? What about someone who offered them candy in the old “creepy white van”? How crazy would one have to be to make that decision? To trade the safety of their Father for the danger of a stranger, simply on the offer of something “more”.

Yet we see it every day. Rather than the simple means of grace, rather than meeting their Father in the assigned location, people chase something “better” by climbing into the creepy white van of…

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Mysticism:

Mysticism is the belief that you can find God inside yourself through “feeling” or “emotion”.  And that God has agreed to meet you “immediately”. (By immediate, I mean without a mediator; A direct, internal connection with God without the mediation of Christ or the means of grace.) God has not agreed to meet you as you jump around and work yourself into a frenzy. Sorry. I’ve done it, and frankly it’s fun, but God never agreed to meet you in your emotion.  You can put yourself into an emotional state and be open to subconscious suggestion, but those “voices” you hear? Are they wrong? Even once? Then guess what, it might be a lot of things, but the Holy Spirit it is most certainly not.

And we climb into this van because rather than listening to our Father, we’ve listened to someone (or in this case, something) trying to lure us away… our heart.

“God laid this on my heart.”  “I feel in my heart that….”

Your heart?  You mean this heart?

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? – Jeremiah 17:9

For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery

He that trusts in his own heart is a fool – Proverbs 28:26

And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. – Genesis 6:5

That heart? That’s where you’re looking for God to speak? For His voice?

God has revealed himself to us objectively, in things that are real, that we can see, hear, touch, and taste.  They are unchanging and concrete, regardless of your changing heart or emotions.

Are we to respond to His grace in worship? YES! I’ve wept over the beauty of the Gospel and the grace shown to me, but when I attempt to work into this state and THEN hear from God, i’ve gotten it completely backward!

God objectively works from outside of us to change us inside. We can’t start by closing our eyes, making a constipated face, and feeling our way to God. When we do, we’re attempting to climb toward God on the ladder of mysticism.

Word, Water, Bread and Wine? Yes.

Rolling around on the ground or sitting quietly in a chair and waiting to hear voices? No. That’s straight-up mysticism.

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Nature: 

Yes, God has in general revelation shown His wonders in the beauty of His creation.  The problem is, the gospel isn’t there. What you see is, even in it’s beauty, fallen… and it’s all law. You may “feel at one” with God on the lake or hiking in the mountains, but nowhere there will you discover Christ crucified for your sins. For the gospel you need the Word.

For the sake of brevity, I’ll stop here. I’ll spend the next couple of weeks working through how we attempt to climb various ladders to A-scend to God.  For now, let’s focus on not climbing into those two creepy white vans. The promises are empty lies.. there is no “candy”, just very real danger.  If it’s worse to lose your soul than your life, the white van of mysticism is worse than any creepy white van the movies have ever shown us.

 

Don’t talk to strangers!

 

Marc

 

 

The Epidemic of Leadership

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Leadership. I like it. I’m interested in it. At the risk of sounding like Paul in his letter to the Philippians, let me throw this out there;

I’m a C-level executive. I work with a Lakewood Church sized budget. I have the formal education and training. I speak at executive conferences. I do the seminars. I read the books. I mentor promising junior executives. I’m certainly not opposed to leadership.

But that’s because my charter is clear, and it’s defined by the stakeholders of my company. It’s measurable, and it’s pragmatic.  It has a cash-value bottom line. I’m asked to create strategic and “vision” documents to chart the course for my organization.

So… why is there such a fascination with leadership in the church? Why would your pastor be reading the same books and following the same leadership blogs that I am?

There is a drought of leadership in the church, but it’s not due to the lack of leadership training at the pastoral level.

The problem is that we’ve forgotten our charter.

Sure, for the sake of mission we get the “to do” right:

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching themto observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20, ESV)

 

So, with the “do” (imperative) in hand, we default to doing what our heart desires… taking the reins, rolling up our sleeves and doing it ourselves.

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So, we look for the tools of the trade around us: leadership, marketing, demographics, techniques, etc.  And these tools work for their intended purposes. They work well in my chosen career. They can certainly mobilize, organize and energize a group of people to unite behind a cause.  Unfortunately, that cause could be anything from building a new city library, to creating a terrorist organization. There is nothing inherently Christian about these tools.

But what if we look at the “why” (imperative) of the great commission?

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20, ESV)

We find no “bottom line” pragmatism here. No call to “hit our numbers” for the quarter. Our charter is clear: All authority has been given to Jesus (the why) so we are sent to make disciples, baptize, and teach.

And we’ve even been given the “how” (means) of how we will fulfill this call: Jesus will be with us. And so He is, in the preached word of His gospel. In the body and blood of communion. And in the water of baptism.

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So, we have an epidemic of leadership in the church. Not because we value leadership, but because we have a current obsession with being leaders.

The leadership position has been filled: All authority is given to Christ.

The mission has been made clear: Make disciples, baptize, and teach the scriptures.

The means has been made clear: Christ with us in word and sacrament.

So to jump on the latest leadership fad, to replace the activities of discipleship, baptism, and teaching of scripture with anything else, and to use the tools of western business is to replace the authority of Christ, the Great Commission, and the Means of Grace.

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You may be successful by the metrics of business, but the “performance” review may go really, really poorly for you when you are called to give an account for your performance.

I’m NOT saying that we don’t have church leadership. We not only need, but are directed by scripture to have church leadership to whom we are to model as they model Christ. Please don’t see this as a screed against “leaders”. I’m simply trying to challenge the notion that “leadership” in a wester business model (with it’s method, measure, and metric) is for the church.

So, do you believe that all authority has been given to Jesus?

Do you believe He is mighty to save His people and send you to disciple, baptize, and teach scripture?

Do you believe He will do so with the simple means of grace?

Do your actions show this, or do you really.. deep down.. believe that you need to employ the better technique, the better plan, the better program to really get it done?

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I can certainly tell you how I would handle a subordinate who took over my office, replaced my gameplan with their own, and did so under their own power.  How much more accountable are we to Jesus and His Great Commission?

Just a thought.

Marc