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Archive for June, 2008

Joyce Meyer is our Heretic Du Jour this week. Joyce Meyer is a Charismatic speaker and author, who has a wide audience in the United States. While she is viewed by many as being a great speaker, it is obvious from her own words that she is a false teacher. Many defend her either because of Biblical ignorance, or blind loyalty. Because her own words condemn her, I feel it unnecessary to post a full rebuttal here at this time.

Joyce Meyer, like Kenneth Copeland, subscribes to the concept of “little gods.” That is to say, that she believes that humans are merely little gods, being the “same kind as God.” You can listen to her espousing this doctrine in the following video.

Joyce Meyer may have came ahold of this doctrine through false teacher Kenneth Copeland:

“Don’t be disturbed when people accuse you of thinking you are God … They crucified Me for claiming I was God. I didn’t claim that I was God; I just claimed that I walked with Him and that He was in Me. Hallelujah! That’s what you’re doing …” (“Take Time to Pray,” Believer’s Voice of Victory, 2/87, p. 9)

“You’re all God. You don’t have a God living in you; you are one! … When I read in the Bible where God tells Moses, ‘I AM,’ I say, ‘Yah, I am too!'” (“The Force of Love,” Tape BBC-56)

Kenneth Copeland also stated that that Adam was created in the “god-class” and that he was a very reproduction of God. Besides claiming that Adam looked exactly like God, Copeland also stated:

“He was not subordinate to God … [but] was walking as a god with the authority of a god. … What he said went. What he did, counted. [And when he] bowed his knee to Satan and put Satan up above him, then there wasn’t anything God could do about it, because a god had placed [Satan] there” (“The Force of Love,” tape #02-0028)

So it is possible that Joyce Meyer learned this teaching from Kenneth Copeland. However, Joyce Meyer’s heresy doesn’t stop there.
Joyce Meyer is a major proponent of Word of Faith theology. She, like Kenneth Copeland and Joel Osteen, teaches that Faith is a force, and that words are the container of the force. So when you speak words, you are speaking either blessing or cursing into your life. This doctrine teaches that we can literally change our own world, and that God Himself is bound by the words that we speak into our lives.

“Proverbs 18:21 teaches us that the power of life and death are in the tongue. That means we can speak life to dead circumstances, but it is a choice and decision not made with feelings as its basis. We can also speak death to sick circumstances. In other words, we can have something negative (sick) happen, and we can cause very serious problems by speaking negatively about it. It may go from sick to dead, especially if we repeatedly talk hopeless, negative, and downcast. On the other hand, we can choose to do what seems abnormal to the natural man. We can speak life to sick circumstances and see a complete recovery before Satan has an opportunity to gain a stronghold.”(Joyce Meyer, “Authority and Opposition,” audio tape 1236)”

“Words are containers that carry either creative or destructive power. Your mouth is a weapon—either for Satan or against him. We can help the devil bring destruction into our lives, or we can learn how to agree with God and experience His best for us.”(Joyce Meyer, “Your Mouth is a Weapon,” Life in the Word March 1997, p. 2)”

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If you watched the special on ABC News the other night, you may have caught the documentary “The Outsiders” which covered young Amish people who are trying out the “English lifestyle.” If you watched the show in it’s entirety, you may have caught a man who is a missionary to the Amish by the name of Joe Keim. Joe Keim has been a missionary to the Amish for several years. He and I spoke briefly about his work a few years ago. His own website can be found here. Joe Keim has a great ministry that attempts to reach the Amish, and help them cope with the outside world when they finally make the choice to leave. Pray for Joe Keim and those who work with his ministry, and for those that they are reaching through their ministry.

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A new Georgia law is preventing convicted “sex offenders” from participating in church activities. Anything from singing in the choir to preparing a meal in the kitchen is now off-limits to sex offenders in the state of Georgia.

ATLANTA — Five sex offenders filed a lawsuit Tuesday claiming that a tough new Georgia law that bans them from volunteering at churches also robs them of their right to participate in religious worship.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Rome, claims the Georgia law effectively “criminalizes fundamental religious activities” for sex offenders and bars them from serving as a choir member, secretary, accountant or any other role with a religious organization.

“Even helping a pastor with Bible study or preparing a meal in a church kitchen will subject (sex offenders) to prosecution and imprisonment,” the complaint said.

To begin with, when did it become legal for the government to begin telling the church how they could conduct religious activities, and who could participate? The Constitution clearly prevents the state from interfering with religious activities, so long as there is no harm being done by religious activities. The big question here is “does the government have the right to legislate who and who may not engage in either voluntary or paid religious activities?”

Secondly, how exactly are we defining “sex offender” here? Are we limiting the religious activities of somebody who thirty years ago as a twenty year old boy had sex with a seventeen year old girl? Or how about somebody who didn’t even commit a sexual crime, but under highly idiotic laws gets slapped onto the sex offender registry anyway?

“Certain people on the sex offender registry should not work with children in a church setting or elsewhere,” says Sarah Geraghty, an attorney with the center. “But criminalizing the practice of religion for all 15,000 people on the registry will do more harm than good.”

The group’s lawsuit centers on five sex offenders who fear the new provision, which goes into effect July 1, will ban them from participating in many religious functions.

Among them is Omar Howard, a 33-year-old who is on the registry after he was convicted of false imprisonment of a minor during a 1993 burglary.

He got involved in a Christian ministry during his 14 year prison sentence and he became an active volunteer at several churches after his release last year. Now he’s not sure whether the law will allow him to help prepare for revival meetings, serve on church committees or sing in the choir, which he feels is part of his calling.

“What really can I do? This law cripples me. All I can do is go to sermons and leave. Why am I a threat to exercise my faith?” he said.

Let’s take a look at the crimes of some of the volunteers who would no longer be allowed to work in the church under this law.

Andrew Norton: Andrew Norton, now 25, is on the registry for a crime that occurred at age 12. Mr. Norton, his wife, and two daughters are devoutly religious. Mr. Norton volunteers as part of a ministry to spread word about his church and to pass along the message of Jesus. He is not involved in any church activity that involves unsupervised contact with minors.

Lori Collins: Lori Collins is on the registry for statutory rape. She completed the Georgia Department of Corrections Faith and Character Program and is now an ordained minister. Since Ms. Collins’ release from prison, she has been active in prison ministry outreach and regularly attends Mt. Paran Church of God. None of Ms. Collins’ volunteer activities with the church involve being around minors. She only wants to continue to serve God by spreading his Word and being active in the life of the Church.

Angela Coffey is on the registry for having sex with a 17-year-old student in her class. Ms. Coffey went to prison for this offense, and was released this year. She is a churchgoer and would like her daughter to be raised in the church. Because of the extremely harsh penalties imposed by this statute, she is fearful of participating in activities that might be considered “volunteering” such as Bible study, serving on church committees and helping to prepare for church gatherings.

Here are the crimes of the plaintiffs in this case.

Omar Howard-Never convicted of a sexual crime. He was convicted of voluntary manslaughter, false imprisonment, armed robbery, and other crimes related to a burglary. Because one of the individuals who was falsely imprisoned was a minor, he is required to register as a sexual offender.

Andrew Norton-Committed an undisclosed crime at the age of 12. He is required to register as a sex offender. None of his volunteer activities involve him working with minors.

Lori Collins-Convicted of statutory rape with a 15 year old minor in 2002. She is now an ordained minister through her denomination, and volunteers in prison ministry. As of July 1, 2008 when this law goes into effect, she will no longer be able to work in the prison ministry. Nor will she be able to help prepare for prayer meetings, revival meetings, seminars, or other church activities.

Angela Coffey-Convicted of statutory rape of a 17 year old minor in 2007. Now attends church with her 13 month old daughter. She desires to be active in her church, but under the new law would be prevented from doing any volunteer work in her church.

And here is the declaration of Rev. Floyd Rose, who stated that in his opinion this law would prevent individuals from participating in their church fully as believers.

This law, according to the motion filed to put an injunction in place against it, would require someone who broke this law to spend a minimum of 10 years in prison, and a maximum of 30. And that’s only for volunteering in a church! Many sexual offenders get less jail time for raping or molesting their victims.

This law is clearly overstepping the bounds of the government, and is interfering with religious freedom. The church has a duty to protect it’s most vulnerable from predators, yes. However, the church also has the duty to help believers find their gifts and engage in ministry. The government has no right to intrude on the church in this manner. And certainly not without clarifying who the bill is meant for, and what they’re prohibited from doing.

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If pulpit committees and churches would look below the facade of scare-tactic accusations and warnings being rolled out like taffy at the Mississippi State Fair, they would discover something healthy and very desirable in the men and the message preached of those against whom they are warned. The twentieth-century slide into liberalism rode on the back of a growing indifference to the doctrines of grace, because the doctrines of grace are tied vitally to more biblical doctrines than just perseverance of the saints. The recovery of a fully salubrious evangelical preaching ministry depends largely on the degree to which the doctrines of grace are recovered and become the consciously propagated foundation of all gospel truth.

If a church, therefore, gets a Calvinist preacher, she will get a good thing. Several issues will be settled forever and the church will not have to wonder about the soundness of her preacher on these items of biblical truth and their soul-nurturing power. Calvinists have stood for more than just their distinguishing doctrines, but have held steadfastly to other doctrines that are essential for the health of Baptist churches in our day. Let’s look at a few of these.

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Some refer to the first point of Calvinism as “Total Depravity.” However, this phrase is a bit misleading. To most people, the phrase “total depravity” would mean that all persons are as completely and utterly as evil as they can possibly be. Which is why I prefer Radical Depravity/Total Inability. Radical depravity means that mankind is a sinful creature by nature and unable to come to God on their own.

The doctrine of Total Inability, which declares that men are dead in sin, does not mean that all men are equally bad, nor that any man is as bad as he could be, nor that anyone is entirely destitute of virtue, nor that human nature is evil in itself, nor that man’s spirit is inactive, and much less does it mean that the body is dead. What it does mean is that since the fall of man rests under the curse of sin, that he is actuated by wrong principles, and that he is wholly unable to love God or to do anything meriting salvation.-Lorraine Boetner-The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination

Our nature is a result of the first sin. The sin of Adam resulted in sin being passed upon all men, so that all are sinners. Mankind is born with a sin nature, dead spiritually to the things of God. We are unable commit any righteous acts without the grace of God. The first sin produced original sin. That means that because of the sin of Adam and Eve, the entire human race fell. The doctrine of original sin teaches that our very nature is influenced by sin.

Rom 5:12-19 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (13) (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. (14) Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. (15) But not as the offense, so also is the free gift. For if through the offense of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. (16) And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offenses unto justification. (17) For if by one man’s offense death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) (18 ) Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. (19) For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

Gen 6:5 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.

Psa 51:5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Jer 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

Eph 2:1-9 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins (2) Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: (3) Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. (4) But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, (5) Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, by (grace ye are saved; ) (6) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: (7) That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. ( 8 ) For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (9) Not of works, lest any man should boast.

On the above passage, James Montgomery Boice and Philip Graham Ryken made some interesting points in the book “The Doctrines of Grace-Rediscovering the Evangelical Doctrine.”

1. The sinner is dead in sins.
2. The sinner actively practices evil.
3. The sinner is enslaved.
4. The sinner is by nature an object of wrath.

Mankind is completely dead to God and the things of God, but is “alive” to sin. Scripture clearly teaches this. Not only is man spiritually dead, but he is unable or unwilling to come to God on his own.

Rom 3:10-12 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: (11) There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. (12) They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

The above passage teaches us something too, first and foremost, that man’s moral nature is sinful(radically depraved). It also teaches us that man does not seek after God(inability). Mankind does not seek after God, and mankind does not seek to do the things of God.

If the above is true, that mankind is sinful and seeks not the things of God, then something has to change in order for man to come to God. Otherwise, no man could be saved.

Generally, there are three views on the “will of man” in regards to sin nature.
First, we will look at the view of Pelagius. His view is easily summed up in a few brief points.
1. Adam’s sin and guilt affected no one but himself.
2. Mankind is born not into a sinful state, but a morally neutral state.
3. Mankind is capable of living sinless if they choose to do so.
It’s easy to see how the above contradicts any biblical doctrine of sin.

The next view is one that states that mankind’s will is free, and that he is not totally dead to God and the things of God. It teaches that mankind, while born with a sin nature, is completely free to choose or reject God without being influenced by that nature wholly.

The third view, is that because mankind is a)dead in sins, and b)unwilling to come to God, then something must change for man to come to Christ. Jonathan Edwards wrote on this topic in his “The Freedom of the Will.” The first thing Edwards did was define the will. He defined it as being “that by which the mind makes choices.” That is to say, that the mind makes a decision based on what is the most desirable course of action. Second, Edwards looked at the question of why the mind makes the choices it does. Edwards stated that the mind has motives for choosing what it does. It is not neutral. The mind has certain things that it desires more than others. If the mind were confronted with two choices, one that it loved and the other that it hated, and it chose the hated, then it would be acting irrationally. And here we get to the crux of this point. Since mankind does not seek God, and hates the things of God, the mind will not choose God. Mankind’s nature is to seek sin. The mind, therefore, will choose the most desirable action because of it’s nature, even though it recognizes that sometimes these actions are morally wrong. A simple illustration would be the difference between carnivores(meat eaters) and herbivores(plant eaters). You could set a bucket of oats in front of a wolf. Physically, the wolf could eat the oats. However, it will not eat the oats because by it’s very nature it seeks after meat. Mankind could choose not to sin, in theory, but by our nature, we choose to sin even though we recognize that our actions may be morally wrong.

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Phil Johnson recently posted a blog entry on the Pyromaniacs blog. If you aren’t a fan of Team Pyro, you really should check them out. Visit their blog, and do a read through. Of course, if you aren’t a fan of reading that’s a little heavy, you may not like the blog. Team Pyro consists of four bloggers, who visit topics concerning Christianity, particularly from a Reformed perspective. I’m a bit of a fan of these guys. But right now, we’re talking about the church and politics, so let’s get back on topic. Phil made a post that you can read here. Allow me to pull a quote out, from the beginning paragraph.

“If you are known for your political agenda more than for your commitment to Christ, your values are upside down. If you make the gospel subservient to a political strategy or a partisan agenda, you’re probably doing more harm than good.”

Think about that for a minute. How often do you hear a preacher, particularly a tv preacher, speak more about politics than about the Gospel? Pat Robertson and John Hagee(both heretics by the way) immediately come to mind. While they both may engage in some good things, they do have some major problems. These men seem to be more in line with Dominionists.

I do think that Phil missed something though, in his series. Of course, it probably isn’t his fault, because I’ve not heard of this much myself. Around two years ago, I visited a church here in the Memphis area. This was right around the time that Israel and Syria were trading rockets back and forth. Naturally, this was immediately picked up by the prophecy nuts. When the pastor of this church got up to preach, he made a statement that concerned me so much that I didn’t walk away from that church after the sermon, I ran. I’ve never dropped back in, and I won’t. He stated “I spent eight hours watching the news about Israel and Syria in preparation for this sermon. And over the coming weeks, we’ll be doing the same thing as we discuss this event and the prophecy of Revelation.” Could you imagine such a thing being done in your church? Could you imagine your pastor standing up and stating that he had spent eight hours preparing for his sermon by watching TV? How does a pastor admit to such nonsense?

Sermons in our churches should be based on Scripture, not on the news. This is one of the dangers of preaching primarily in a topical manner. Now I’m not saying that topical preaching is bad. I think it can be very good. I think covering issues such as the Lord’s Supper, Baptism, and Church Discipline for a few examples in a topical manner is tremendous, and can probably be covered better topically than when preaching in an expository manner only.

But I think this is indicative of a deeper problem, mainly that some Christians get so involved in current events and political events, that they read into Scripture what isn’t there. They get so excited about prophecy, that every event in the Middle East is major news to them.

And the dangerous and scary part is that the people in the congregations sit and listen to such nonsense, and do nothing about it, because they see no wrong. They either don’t care, or don’t know enough about the Bible to realize that this is wrong.

If you’re a pastor, a leader, a Sunday School teacher, or anyone teaching others in churches, it would probably be wise to heed Phil Johnson’s advice in the blog message. Allow me to take some of his advice, and paraphrase it to match what I’ve said here. If what happens in the news alters your preaching, then you’ve got your heart and head in the wrong place. Preach the Gospel, and not the News. Christians don’t need sermons relevant to current events. They need sermons that are spiritual, and Biblically sound.

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What is Soul Liberty?

Soul Liberty is the concept that Christians have the ability to decide for themselves in matters of faith and life, so long as their sincerely held belief does not violate Scripture, and does not violate another individual’s soul liberty. Allow me to demonstrate Soul Liberty from Scripture.

Rom 14:1-23  Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.  (2)  For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.  (3)  Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.  (4)  Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.  (5)  One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.  (6)  He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.  (7)  For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.  ( 8 )   For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.  (9)  For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.  (10)  But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at naught thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.  (11)  For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.  (12)  So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.  (13)  Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.  (14)  I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.  (15)  But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.  (16)  Let not then your good be evil spoken of:  (17)  For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.  (18 )  For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.  (19)  Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.  (20)  For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offense.  (21)  It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.  (22)  Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.  (23)  And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

As can be seen in the above verses, we as believers have the right to choose where we stand on certain issues. For example, let us point to the issue of KJV-Onlyism. This is a doctrine not found in Scripture. One can, if he looks for it, find verses to support this doctrine. And if one wants to hold to the KJV-Only, that is certainly his right. However, he has no right to do so while attempting to force his view on others. We also have issues such as whether or not pants are okay for women to wear. This is a doubtful disputation(read verse 2 above), and those new to the faith should not be dragged into such discussions which are matters of preference as opposed to matters of Scripture.

Where should we take a stand, and where should we not? We should clearly take a stand on this issues that the Bible makes of importance. Such as having church meetings, the sufficiency of Scripture, the death, burial, and ressurrection of Christ, virgin birth, the sins of fornication, gluttony, and drunkeness. Issues such as those cannot be compromised on, and we cannot treat these issues lightly. However, issues such as what kind of music to use in worship, whether or not a man can wear a necklace, or voting for a conservative democrat over a liberal republican should not be issues that divide us, and should not be forced on one another. If somebody wants to use only hymns in their worship service, good for them. Let them do so. On the flip side, if somebody wants to use Contemporary Music over hymns, let them do so. He does not sin in doing so.

Fundamentalists have become quite adept at making non-issues into serious issues worth dividing over. And in doing so, they have committed the greater sin. They needlessly divide the body of Christ with their doubtful disputations. As at times, less conservative fundamentalists do, or conservative evangelicals, and neo-evangelicals. Non-issues are not worth dividing over, and should not be major issues within our churches. We have soul liberty. Liberty to choose what is right for us and for our families. Time will tell if we have chosen wisely. Let God be the judge in such areas.

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