10 Signs You Have Just Entered An Emergent Church

10 Signs You Have Entered the Postmodern Zone

The video below goes back almost 10 years to when I used to spend a lot of time on YouTube. It is still one of the most popular videos on my channel. Though the term “Emergent Church” has been abandoned due to the bad press it received from its logical inconsistencies, the postmodern philosophies it embraced still have a firm hold on many Christians and churches.

These 10 signs still point out the self-refuting nature of the postmodern-zone.

  1. Their website has a statement of what they believe, and one of their statements is that they don’t hold to statements of belief.
  2. They constantly teach against churches and Christians who engage in polemics.
  3. They reject the commercialism of the modern church, by making their church feel more like a coffee shop.
  4. They have a strong desire to be relevant for the sole purpose of being relevant.
  5. The term “living incarnationally” means living less like Jesus and more like the world.
  6. They argue that there are no metanarratives that control all other stories besides their metanarrative that there are no metanarratives.
  7. They encourage using metaphor because propositional teaching does not work, unless, of course, they are propositionally teaching about metaphors.
  8. They argue that the church should be more relational and less theological, and then attempt to give theological arguments why this is the case.
  9. They use language to tell us that language is incapable of communicating truth.
  10. To argue against a propositional understanding of scripture, they quote Jesus’ proposition from scripture where Jesus says, “I am the Truth.”

Distressed Yet Victorious

Distressed Yet VictoriousAnd He took with Him Peter and James and John and began to be very distressed and troubled. – Mark 14:33

If our Lord, who was sinless, had times in which He became distressed, how should we who are sinful expect to escape them? There have been many people who have preached what is called the “Victorious Christian life.” Although this is never actually stated, if you extend the arguments out, what is implied with this type of teaching is that if we walk close enough to the Lord and spend enough time in prayer and devotion, we will attain some kind of abundant life which enables us to walk in victory and be above sin and distress. When trials come, our faith will be stable, and we will feel at perfect rest knowing God is in control, and there are clearly times when we will go through outward trials with this sort of inner success.

However, to imagine that we can reach a point where we will not have times of heaviness and distress is not scriptural. For even our Lord had to face times like this, and He had no sin to remember in His times of trouble. Times of distress will plague us all, but in our grief, we are not to feel like we have failed to reach some spiritual peak, or as if we lack some, “deeper Christian life.” This type of thinking can lead to a spiritual elitism, which can excite pride when times are smooth. In fact, many in the church get so caught up in trying to reach these allusive spiritual peaks, that they have forgotten what pure an undefiled religion is, visiting orphans and widows, helping the poor and the downtrodden, and extending grace to the sinner.

The very phrase “Victorious Christian life” is redundant because to be a Christian is to be victorious. You cannot be a child of God and not have the victory. If you are a child of God, He is your Shepherd, and this Shepherd cannot fail. Though He may bring you through High water, He will be with you. In the dark valley of death, you may tremble, but He will not falter. There will be times where He will forge you over the fires, and all of this is done is to fulfill His purposes in your life. This does not mean the fire will not be hot, or that the hammer will not sting. As one southern preacher said, “When the Lord sends tribulation, He ‘spects us to tribulate.” As Christians, we will share in the sufferings of Christ and this suffering causes pain and distress, if it doesn’t, it’s not suffering.

When trouble and distress are upon us, we are to fight it, not by trying to reach some higher state of spirituality, but by holding on to the truth that He will bring us through every trial victoriously. Nothing, not even death itself can separate us from His love.
Failure and victory are not determined by feelings, but by our actual position in Christ, regardless of what our emotions tell us. Trust Him to lead you through and remember when Christ looks on those who are distressed, He has compassion, and is near to those who call upon Him in prayer. He is doing something through our sorrow, and we must trust Him with it. We must remember that the distress our Lord felt in the scripture above, led to the most significant victory that has ever been won.

My soul at times will not be still,
And tremblings with my heart doth fill
Yet perfect bliss was not His pledge
Nor paradise within His hedge
But every trial will be endured.
The victory has been secured.
And death itself’s a vanquished foe
By resurrection’s mighty blow.

10 Arguments Thoughtful Atheists Won’t Use

10 Arguments Thoughtful Atheists Won't UseThrough countless discussions surrounding atheism, it has become apparent that someone has been feeding bad advice to atheists. Since the following errors are repeatedly made, this partial list has been populated to warn atheists so they can avoid these pitfalls. If you are an atheist and hear any of the following advice, realize that these arguments are not good arguments.

1. Use a false analogy and believe that because you compare theism to believing in the Flying Spaghetti Monster that you have made a good argument.

2. Apply absolute standards of morality that atheism is unable to produce, and argue that Christianity is an immoral religion.

3. When you are having trouble answering an argument posed by a Christian theist, simply throw out a red herring and say, “well even if this were true, it doesn’t prove the existence of the ‘Christian’ God.”

4. Confuse assumptions with arguments and assume that simply because you explain phenomena from a naturalistic perspective that it constitutes an argument which must be true.

5. When arguing against the Christian God, simply say that you only believe in “one less god” than most people, as if that has no other implications, and does not require you to defend an atheistic understanding of cosmology, anthropology, ethics, philosophy of history, philosophy of politics, philosophy of science, and epistemology.

6. Refute yourself by making statements that suggest that metaphysics are a waste of time while presupposing abstract first principles and the true nature of reality.

7. Contradict yourself by arguing that we should only believe things proven by empirical evidence without proving it with empirical evidence.

8. Borrow from the Christian worldview and use logic like it is a universal, transcendent, unchanging reality when atheistic naturalism cannot account for universal, transcendent, unchanging realities.

9. Beg the question and argue that there is no evidence to believe in the existence of God because all the evidence that is produced, fails to pass the standards of evidence which have been constructed from your belief that God does not exist.

10. Contradict yourself and argue that human beings are robots, puppets, and machines programmed by natural selection in a closed system of cause and effect, and then argue for free thought and moral agency.

For more on this, we spent and an episode of the Apologetics.com radio show discussing these arguments. You can find the mp3 at the following link 10 Arguments Thoughtful Atheists Won’t Use.

 

Has the Father Given You to the Son?

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. – John 6:37

The words of John 6:37 reveal the purpose of the Father in giving his elect Jesus Christ. The Father’s purpose was that they might come to him and be saved. This, says the Son, shall indeed be done. Sin, Satan, the flesh, or the world shall never hinder their coming to Christ. The Lord Jesus positively determined to perform such a sufficiency of grace, that it will effectually perform this promise, and use all of the means necessary to accomplish this purpose. The Father’s end will not be frustrated (John 6:39). By coming, we understand it to be the coming of the mind to him, and the moving of the heart towards him. It is a coming with an absolute desire to be justified and saved. There needs to be the sense of a lost condition to move him to come. This made 3000 come; it made the jailor come; and indeed makes all others come effectually. Death is before them and they see it and feel it, and it feeds upon them, and eat them quite up if they do not come to Jesus Christ. They come of necessity, being forced into by the sense they have of their being utterly and everlasting undone, if they do not find safety in him. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). This coming to Christ is a running to him, a flying to him from the wrath to come. When all refuge fails, and man is made to see that there is nothing left in him but sin, and damnation, unless he flies to Christ for life; then he flies, and not until then. There is a sense of absolute need of Jesus Christ: “Lord save me or I perish!” There is an honest and sincere forsaking of all for him: “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26-27). He who truly comes must forsake all, cast all behind his back and cling to Christ Alone.

-John Bunyan

Sin Digs Every Grave

A man's views of sin give a complexion to all his character.

Sin digs every grave and wrings out every sigh and wail from earth and hell. Sin is the worst of all evils. Nothing can compare with it. It is worse than the plague. Sin is unspeakably hateful. God calls it horrible and abominable. Godly men in every age lament it–lament it much in others, most in themselves.

A man’s views of sin gives a complexion to all his character. If he regards it as a trifle, he will laugh at it, when he should weep over it. He will make a mock of it. He will dally with it. He will take his fill of it. He will have low thoughts of God, and low estimates of salvation. He will despise Jesus Christ.

If, on the other hand, he considers sin as very dreadful and very hateful–he will hate every false way. He will long for holiness. He will hunger and thirst after righteousness. He will loathe and abhor himself on account of sin. He will have exalted thoughts of the being, perfections, word, and government of God. To him, Christ will be most precious, the chief among ten thousand, and altogether lovely.

Job’s sense of sin was vastly increased by the great discoveries he had of God’s majesty and glory: “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes!” Increased views of God’s glory had the same effect on Isaiah, and made him cry out, “Woe is me! for I am undone!” (Job 42:5-6; Isaiah 6:5).

God’s presence is infinite; His power is infinite; His nature is infinite; His existence is infinite; and so to sin against Him must be an infinite insult and wrong. Sin is an infinite evil. Sin is that abominable thing which He hates. He hates sin with infinite loathing.

-William S. Plummer-

The Weapons of Righteousness

The WeaponsWith the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left.– 2 Corinthians 6:7

There are weapons of righteousness for each of our hands. The phrase, “weapons of righteousness,” sometimes translated as, “armor of righteousness,” has been interpreted many ways, from the plausible to the ludicrous. These weapons are often linked to our spiritual armor found in Ephesians 6. Though I do believe there is likely some link to the armor of God, I believe John Calvin was closer to the mark when he linked these weapons to holy conduct and a clear conscience. Understanding it in this way, we can see them as both armor and weapons.

Nothing can hinder us in our work for the Lord more than sin and a troubled conscience. In both of these things, we find ourselves exposed to the attacks of Satan and unable to work to advance the kingdom of God. However, with a righteous life and a clear conscience, we can stand in the midst of adversity and persecution.

The real problem is that in and of ourselves, we have neither. We are guilty and we know it, but in Jesus we find our forgiveness and acceptance in the Beloved. Jesus is the foundation of our armor and weapons of righteousness. None of us have any ability or right to stand in truthful speech and the power of God unless we are in Christ, but with him we can stand with our conscious clear, justified by His blood.

From there we must grow in sanctification. This means we are not only declared righteous, but we also begin to be conformed to His image. If we plan to stand against the prince and the power of the air and the patterns of this world, both justification and sanctification are necessary.

As we grow in the Lord, we become able to work to advance the kingdom of God without any fault being found in our work. We must put aside underhanded ways (2 Cor. 4:2). In this way we can press on in the face of any mistreatment, knowing that we have conducted ourselves according to the word of God.

It is only with these weapons of righteousness that we can stand as servants of God and commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love;  by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. Treated as impostors, and yet true; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything with our hearts wide open (2 Cor. 6:4-11).

We Are the Lepers

With hearts as black as drossFilled with the obsceneAll paid for on the crossHe_ll there pronounce us clean

Then the priest shall look, and if the leprous disease has covered all his body, he shall pronounce him clean of the disease; it has all turned white, and he is clean. Lev. 13:13

This verse may seem strange to many of today’s readers, but if leprosy had only covered part of the body and not all of the flesh was white, that man would be pronounced unclean. On the other hand, if the disease covered his entire body, the man would be pronounced clean. This is because the flesh that was not yet white was still contagious, but if his flesh was completely white, the disease was no longer transmittable.

As interesting as this is, this text teaches us something much deeper for leprosy in scripture is often a representation of sin. We are the lepers. We are diseased with sin and completely full of guilt, but in our natural state, we strive to deny that truth. We go to great lengths to deny our unworthiness before God, thinking that we can somehow justify ourselves. Even if we admit that we are somewhat sinful, we still tend to think that God owes us something. In that condition, as we stand before the true high priest Jesus Christ, we are pronounced unclean. It is not until we stand before him in complete poverty of spirit, knowing we have nothing to offer Him, admitting that we are completely sinful saying, “you have every right to pour your wrath upon me, but I plead the merits of your sacrifice on the cross,” does Christ say to us, “you are clean.”

Though we have nothing to offer
We must go to the High Priest
To present our empty coffer
With self-righteousness deceased

With hearts as black as dross
Filled with the obscene
All paid for on the cross
He’ll there pronounce us clean

Keep My Eyes From Worthless Things

I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. – Psalm 101:3

Lord, our days are often spent looking upon worthless things, and this is a great sin. We ask for your forgiveness. This world is continuously setting them before us. From T.V. movies, and billboards, to social media, they seem to be everywhere we look. To make matters worse, our hearts often long for them. We are drawn to them to such a degree, that even if the spirit is willing, the flesh is weak.

We know, as you have told us, that the eyes are the windows to our souls. Where we direct them not only reveals the condition of our hearts but moves our hearts to desire what we look upon more earnestly.

Help us, Lord, to set our eyes on what is holy and worthy; to set our eyes on things unseen. For until we turn our eyes to what is truly beautiful and worthy, we will be held captive to the lesser things.

Lord, give us the strength to pull our eyes from the unholy distractions of this world and place them upon You. As we look to You, sanctify our hearts, so when the worthless things are once again before us, we will see them with holy eyes and immediately turn away.

Jesus, you are true beauty, and you are true worth. Be the center of all our thoughts and desires.  We love you.

3 Signs We Are Not Spiritually-Minded

“Even now you are not ready.” These are the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 3:5. There is more nourishment in the word of God for us to take in and enjoy, but too often we are not spiritually-minded enough to receive it. Too often we are spiritually immature.

How would we know if we are spiritually immature when one of the symptoms of being earthly-minded is being blinded to our own condition? Much like losing your appetite can be a symptom of being malnourished. The following phrases from scripture could possibly wake us up, if we are, in fact, earthly-minded.

1. Are we living in a way that is destroying our bodies? When it comes to drunkenness, drugs, or any other dependence that is damaging our health, Paul says,

“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” – I Cor. 3:16-17

If we are involved in any of these activities, we are not spiritually-minded, no matter how much theology we know. How can we have spiritual understanding if we don’t even understand how our bodies relate to honoring God.

2. Are we involved in sexual immorality? If so, we are not ready for the deep things of God. We are earthly-minded. Paul is so bold as to say, if we were living this way, we should be removed from the church until we repent.

“But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.” – 1 Cor. 5:11

If we are involved in any of these things, we are not spiritually-minded. We are spiritually immature, if we are Christians at all.

3. Are we willing to be fools for Christ? This world sees the truth of Jesus as foolishness, and if we’re not willing to be seen as foolish for Jesus, it is because we are not spiritually-minded. For those who are, we will know that bearing the reproach of the world is worth it if we receive the riches of Christ Jesus. Paul says,

“We [Paul and the apostles] are fools for Christ’s sake,” and shortly after that he says, “Be imitators of me.” – 1 Cor. 4:10,16

If we are not willing to give up comfort, and the approval for this world, for the kingdom of God, then we do not understand the passing nature of this world and the eternality of all that has been born of God.

I do not write this to be judgmental. The word of God judges me as much as it does anyone else, and there are areas in my life that need improvement too. I write this so that all of us, the children of God, can grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ by being reminded how serious sin actually is. It impacts us much more than we think it does. May we discern our condition by the word of God and the illumination of the Holy Spirit, for “if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged.” – I Cor. 11:31

If anything in the short devotion exposed sinfulness in your life, run to Christ where forgiveness is freely offered, and sanctification can be found. Finally, remember the words of Psalm 97:10-11:

“O you who love the Lord, hate evil! He preserves the lives of his saints; he delivers them from the hand of the wicked. Light is sown for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart.”

Considering Our Calling

APrayerLord, You are marvelously powerful, and Your power moves in ways unseen to most of us. No grandiose displays of might are needed to move the hearts of men, though they are all around us in nature. It took a hidden call to our hearts.

We had built fortresses of wisdom to protect ourselves from You, but you destroy the wisdom of the wise and the discernment of the discerning (1 Cor. 1:19), And You did it through the message of the cross. A word that is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Cor. 1:18).

We know, from your word, that the natural man does not accept this message because it is spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:14). We understand that our sin had us bound so that we were unable to receive your truth without you first breaking the bonds of our corrupt natures, false wisdom, and arguments.

We praise You, Lord, for Your unseen power that set us free and gave us new birth. As we consider our calling, that miraculous work of grace in our hearts, we know it is because You chose us (1 Cor. 1:26-27), and not because of any good in us. It was entirely of Your mercy and grace.

We still live in a world that considers your truth foolish. Make us willing to bear the reproach of the world by taking up our cross daily by conforming us to Your image. For, as we spread the good news of the gospel, we know You will be secretly, and mightily, calling others to Yourself as well.

With grateful hearts, we praise You for Your wonderful work of power that set us free from the slavery of our own sinful natures. You are gloriously merciful.