Thursday, June 24, 2021

The State of the Church


The State of the Union Address is an annual speech given by the president of the United States to the United States Congress depicting the condition of our nation. This report is required by the United States Constitution, (Article II, Section 3) The address includes reports on the country’s budget, the current economy, pertinent news, national achievements and things like the president’s priorities, proposals, and plans. This report was given in writing to Congress, but in 1913 President Woodrow Wilson gave the report in person to congress in hopes of winning support for his agenda. 

The Evangelical Church has a similar practice – it is called the Annual Meeting. The church gathers at a duly called meeting in order to receive reports on the condition of the church. Usually the pastor, the elders, the deacons, the superintendents, the department heads, and the trustees give reports on the budget, the building, the blue-prints for the coming year. 

Kenny Rogers once recorded a song titled, Just dropped in (to see what condition my condition was in.) His song contained the famous and catch line, I just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in. Apparently from the rest of the lyrics his condition was in pretty bad condition. 

I am deeply grieved that if the church today would “drop in to see what condition their condition was in, rather than being appalled, most would congratulate themselves. American evangelicals are “deeply confused” about some core doctrines of the Christian faith.  Ligonier Ministries examined the State of Theology in the United States by commissioning LifeWay Research to conduct a survey based on interviews with 3,000 Americans who considered themselves to be Evangelical Christians. 

The survey revealed that the majority rejected such doctrines of the bible as the gravity of man’s sin, the importance of the church’s gathering together for worship, and the Holy Spirit.” 

 For example:

·         69% of Americans disagreed that the smallest sin deserves eternal damnation


·         58% strongly disagree.


·         58% said that worshiping alone or with one’s family is a valid replacement for regularly attending church. (Only 30 % disagreed)


·         59% stated that the Holy Spirit is a force, not a personal being.


·         52% stated that most people are basically good


·         51% believed that God accepts the worship of all religions


·         78% stated that they believed Jesus was the first and greatest being created by God the Father 


Ligonier Ministries concluded that, “These results show the pressing need for Christians to be taught Christology, especially as the outcome has gotten worse since 2016,” stated Ligonier. “There is a general lack of teaching today on the person of Christ, a doctrine for which the early church fought so hard.” 

One might wonder just how did the American Evangelical Church get to this point. Although Ligonier Ministries are probably correct – that Christians need to be taught biblical Christology – the problem centers on the biblical doctrine of conversion. 

It is not surprising that the overwhelming majority of evangelical Christians are prone to hold such devilish doctrines. When churches do not understand, teach, and maintain a clear view of biblical conversion, churches fill up with morally good people who are not converted. The prevailing doctrine of salvation believed by the average church member and practiced by the majority of local churches lends itself to giving a false hope without an experience of conversion by God through the Holy Spirit.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

How To Analyze a Passage of Scripture (Part 1)


One does not to look far or wide to see that there is mass confusion over the interpretation of the bible, not to mention the wholesale misunderstanding of the majority of particular passages. The multiplicity of denominations and the proliferation of incorrect doctrinal interpretation of passages permeate the church.

It is not very difficult nor surprising to see the unconverted, non-Christian segment of society holding varying and incorrect interpretations of Scripture. The un-believer, the unconverted, or the natural man cannot understand nor welcomes the things of the Holy Spirit including the Bible.

It is a tragic shame and disgrace that believers, who claim to know God through Christ and who have been indwelt by the Holy Spirit, cannot properly interpret a passage of Scripture. I believe that:

  • Bible study is a spiritual exercise - not a carnal, natural, or human process. To understand a biblical passage, one must first be born of the Spirit by an act of God through faith in the atoning work of Jesus Christ. Second, one must be filled, or controlled, under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Third, one who wishes to understand a biblical passage must be free of sin by confession of sin (1 John 1:9) ensuring that one is free from any hinderance that will prevent the Holy Spirit from "opening your spiritual eyes" (Ps 119:18) to the passage at hand. Fourth, one must enter into bible study, permeate bible study, and conclude the study of the bible with effectual, fervent prayer.
  • Bible Study is communication with God via his word. God no longer speaks through prophets, angels, visions, dreams, or various exstatic experiences or expressions. God speaks through His word - he communicates his will, his way, and his word through the canon of scripture. Ensure that there is open communication between you and God through the Holy Spirit. Be sure to confess any and all sin.
  • The Holy Spirit inspired the scriptures and intended them to be understood. There are many passages that are very difficult to understand. There may be a few that we as students of the bible might never come to fully understand. But the bible is not a closed or mysterious book that cannot be understood with prayer and great effort. Paul told Timothy to study the word of God, to cut it right or straight, in order to know how to use the right portion of the word of God at the right time and place. (2 Timothy 2:15)
  • The student of Scripture who wishes to dig deep into the rich and fertile soil of God's word must acknowledge absolute dependence upon God. Studying, interpreting, and applying the Scripture depends on the assistance of God.
  • The Student of Scripture must be willing to commit to the practice and obedience of what was learned or determined. The study of Scripture is not merely academic nor to increase knowledge. Remember, knowledge can "puff one up." One studies to learn in order to obey. One studies to understand the majestic character and nature of God in order to praise God and to make his glorious character and nature more clear for the unbeliever that by God's grace they might desire him and his salvation.
So, join me over the next five (5) or six (6) days as I share some thoughts on how to effectively and accurately analyze a passage of scripture in order to properly interpret and apply what you have studied. I am going to cover several topics on how to analyze a passage from the bible.

If you have never studied a passage, or if you struggle in finding the meaning of a passage of Scripture, or if you are well on your way, join me each day. (Reviews and refreshers are valuable tools)

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Should the Bible Be a State Book?

 A bill to make the Bible Tennessee’s official state book is proceeding to the floor of the Tennessee House of Representatives after a committee on Tuesday recommended the legislation for passage.

In the bill, Republican state Rep. Jerry Sexton argues that the Bible should be the state’s official book to, among other reasons, reflect family heritage and underscore the multimillion-dollar industry that is Bible printing in Tennessee.
This is solid proof that Constantinianism still lives to this day. Constantinian is a term to describe the political and theological aspects of the 4th-century process of Constantine's integration of the imperial government with the church. In plain English is simply means that with the Edict of Milan in AD 313, Constantine joined together the church and the state. This was the most disastrous endeavor of the enemy to destroy the church of Jesus Christ on earth.
Constantine’s edict not only gave legal favor to the church, it brought the church into a position of servanthood to the state. The harm that this declaration wreaked upon the church is almost unmeasurable. It plunged the world into what we termed “The Dark Ages” and gave birth to an unholy, unregenerate, and Christ-less church.
Apparently, unfortunately, and tragically it is true that the one thing we learn from history is that we don’t learn from history. No nation has at any time has been a Christian nation. No nation has ever enjoyed the covenant relationship with God as the nation of Israel enjoyed. No society has been and never will be a Christian nation. This includes America. Righteousness cannot be legislated. Passing a law that makes the Bible a state book has absolutely no meaning at all. This bill will not change the attitude of the unregenerate toward the bible or toward God.
If this bill is passed and becomes law, the fallout will be monumental:
First of all, such a law would be a violation of the separation of church and state by certifying a single or particular “text” over other religious texts.
Second, in my humble opinion it seems to fly in the face of Jesus’ warning to “Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy. Don’t throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you. [Matthew 7:6, NLT]
Third, it also, in my humble opinion would seem to trivialize the uniqueness and holiness of God’s word by treating as a mere literary publication undergirding “multi-million-dollar industry. The word of God is sacred and should be treated as such.
Fourth, even though God can and has used the most unusual people, events, and circumstances to work out his good pleasure, making the bible a state book will not affect the hearts of the unregenerate.
Let’s deplore any for or action of Constantinianism. Forget about making the bible a state book, and let’s take the Word of God to the unregenerate citizens of our states, and preach the gospel. Remember, “…faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” [Romans 10:17]

Friday, June 11, 2021

Treat Me Like Your Cat

 Treat Me Like Your Cat

Gregg Metcalf (June 11, 2018)
So, just treat me like your cat
And I’ll be happy with that
Feed me till I’m nice and fat
Just treat me like your cat
Verse 1 – Shelter
You brought your little kitty home
Now he sleeps inside with you
Protected from the wind and rain
Sheltered from the late night dew
Verse 2 - Food
Three times a day you fill his dish
His tummy is filled with yummy things
Like lamb and beef and sometimes fish
He doesn’t know the pain hunger brings
Verse 3 - Healthcare
Your little guy never needs to fear
You have a healthcare plan for him
His vet will care for him its clear
No lack of treatment or medicine
Verse 4 - Love
House and home food and care
With no worries he is so secure
All that’s yours you gladly share
The good life is his for all his tenure
Verse 5 – The Homeless
I have no shelter from rain or cold
And I am hungry most all the time
No health care to help me grow old
Loved by no one, few who are kind
Verse 6 – The Plea
So, I have only one thing to ask
I don’t want special treatment man
If you only treat me like your cat
I’d be far better off than I am
So, just treat me like your cat
And I’ll be happy with that
Feed me till I’m nice and fat
Just treat me like your cat

Friday, June 4, 2021

The Perfect Bible

 Well, I think I have solved a long on-going problem. For a number of years, I have been searching for the perfect bible. To me the perfect bible is a bible that allows me to perform at least five different functions: reading, devotional, study, preaching/teaching, and carrying for ministry purposes.

First, I have discovered, they have not yet designed and produced the perfect bible.
Second, since I don't have the capability and one is not yet available, I have solved my problem in this manner:
I now have five main bibles that serve specific purposes:
1) A Reader - no chapter divisions, no headings/subheadings, no distractions, just single column text to read and contemplate/meditate
2) Devotions - an interleaved or blank bible like J. Edwards. Plenty of room to make notes and devotional comments;
3) Study Bible - I love my ESV Study Bible, it has just the right tools and helps to assist in serious study without doing the work for me;
4) Preaching/Teaching - I am obtaining a single column, verse format bible with good size fonts that I won't mark in so that I can preach/teach easily from it;
5) Carry Bible - a have a pastor's/minister’s bible that is a small, yet filled with helpful tools like wedding, funeral, dedication, visitation, hospital visitation material.
So, problem solved - 5 bibles to do 5 duties! No more searching for the perfect bible, and no more draining the book fund and overloading my shelves with hopeful candidates that turned out to be ius responsum non.
I share this because it has been a long frustration for me. I would imagine that there are others who are equally as frustrated. I hope this helps and can be a good tool or guide for you. What do you do or use for these various "tasks?"

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Battling for the Church - A.D. 30 - A. D. 311

Battling for the Church has been a necessity since the very beginning of the church.

The Roman Empire became aware of Christianity approximately A. D. 30. At first, the Imperial rulers took no steps to interfere or stop what they perceived was an “off-shoot” of Judaism. The Roman Emperor Tiberius apparently thought that since the Christians were a major nuisance to the Jews and seemed to be at odds with the Jews, he hoped that this Christian sect might reduce the impact of the Jews on the Roman Empire.

Tiberius went to the Roman Senate and petitioned the Senate to declare the Christian sect legal and to declare Jesus to be a Roman god. The Senate refused. As a matter of fact, the Senate declared Christianity to be “an illegal superstition” which was a criminal offense under Roman law.

Christianity was now illegal. This did not deter Tiberius. He wanted this Christian sect to be an instrument in reducing the unrest and tension in his empire. He ordered Roman officials to cease any interference against Christianity. Tiberius’s policy was in effect for approximately thirty (30) years.

In A. D. 64, the Roman Emperor Nero began a wholesale persecution of the church, singling out believers for tremendous torture and death. Nero determined to make Christianity his scapegoat for the fire that had swept through Rome in July of A. D. 64 and for all other negative events which impacted Rome.

The people of Rome accepted Nero’s evaluation of the Christians in his empire. They believed that their gods would be angry and would punish the Romans. Christianity had been illegal for over thirty (30) years; therefore, it was not difficult for the public to accept the mass arrests, trials, and executions of the Christians. Many believers suffered horrific torture and death during this time. For several years Christians were to in fear of additional persecutions breaking out against them.

In A. D. 110, the Roman Emperor Trajan tried to reach some sort of a compromise between Christians and the Roman citizens who wanted Christianity destroyed. Trajan continued to allow Christians to be arrested, but he would not permit activities related to the search and seizure of Christians for arrest and trial. Trajan also gave orders that Christians be not interfered with when they gathered together.

So, for approximately 140 years, even though Christianity was still illegal, Christians were able to live relatively secure from persecution and could even practice their faith publicly. Rome for the most part left this troublesome sect alone.

This period of relaxed persecution unfortunately came to an end approximately A. D. 250. The Roman Emperor, Decius desired to revive the Roman pagan religion. He issued an edict that would clash with the beliefs of Christians. His edict was manifestly clear.

Every person living in the Roman empire were required to offer a sacrifice before the magistrates of their community - “for the safety of the empire.” Once a sacrifice was made, a certificate would then be issued certifying compliance with the emperor’s edict.

The certificate was in effect a pledge of loyalty to the gods of Rome. It also testified to the participation in both drink and food which had been offered to the gods in the presence of the officials. Many Christians refused to comply and would not offer sacrifices. This refusal resulted in their torture and death.

Fortunately, Decius did not live long after publishing his edict. He became the first Roman emperor to die in battle against an enemy. Decius died during the Battle of Abritus in June of A. D. 251. His successor Gallienus put a stop to the persecution of Christians. Not only did Gallienus put a stop to open and hostile persecution, he declared Christianity to be a legal religion. He hoped that this action would garner religious peace in his empire.

For approximately thirty (30) years the church enjoyed a period of rest from active and hostile persecution. There were various persecutions on the local level from time to time. But for a time, Rome ceased to persecute the church as an empire wide policy.

Approximately A. D. 284, Diocletian became Emperor. Even though his wife professed to be a Christian, he began once again the open and hostile persecution of the church. After nearly fifty (50) years of the cessation of persecution, Christians were once again being destroyed by the Roman empire. This persecution was intense. Diocletian’s plans included the absolute destruction of Christianity in his empire. Although Diocletian due to illness resigned the Imperial throne, his successors continued the persecution through approximately A. D. 311.

The persecution of the church continued under Galerius.  In A. D. 311 Galerius became severely ill. He issued an edict that cancelled the persecution of Christians. From this point and time, no Roman Emperor ever persecuted the church again. In approximately two (2) years something far more sinister, far more devastating, and far more dangerous to the church would emerge on the scene. But alas, that is for next time