Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Charismatic Character Clash

After ducking scrutiny that followed the Lakeland Revival's abrupt end in August 2008, Todd Bentley resurfaced this month. The Canadian Pentecostal disappeared from the public eye in August after filing for separation from his wife. Issuing a statement through the pastor overseeing his restoration process, Bentley said he was "sorry for the hurt and confusion that my decisions have caused the body of Christ." He indicated that he was pursuing a return to ministry in order to "fulfill God's call on my life."

Bentley fell even faster than he had climbed to prominence in 2008. He became a viral sensation during a healing revival that ran 100 consecutive nights and attracted 30,000 visitors per week. His renown spread with reports of his unusual healing tactics and claims that he had raised 25 people from the dead, all over the phone. But the Florida-based event could not survive Bentley's divorce and mounting criticism. One critic, Charisma editor J. Lee Grady, faulted Bentley for sending the charismatic movement into a "tailspin." He quoted an anonymous Pentecostal evangelist who said, "I'm now convinced that a large segment of the charismatic church will follow the Antichrist when he shows up because they have no discernment."
Grady said he groaned when he learned from the March 9 statement what Bentley had done since August. After divorcing his wife, Shonnah, he married Jessa Hasbrook, a former intern. The statement provided no update on Bentley's ex-wife. Grady also found fault with how Bentley's ministry was characterized by Rick Joyner, who once counseled Jim Bakker and has taken Bentley under his wing.

From Grady's perspective, gifts trumped his character in Joyner's decision to aid Bentley's return to ministry. The ends seemed to justify the means. "From the time I first met him nearly ten years ago," Joyner said of Bentley, "I knew that he had an extraordinary purpose and a gift of faith for the miraculous that would be desperately needed in these times." He closed the statement with an appeal for funds to launch Fresh Fire USA, Bentley's new ministry, now headquartered at Joyner's church in South Carolina.

"As we have been constantly reminded, the Lord had great patience with sinners, but He had none for the self-righteous," Joyner said, anticipating the inevitable criticism for his work with Bentley. "We're all here because He had mercy on us, and we know we still need it. However, we also know that true repentance and restoration can only come if we refuse to compromise the clear biblical standards for morality and integrity."

Joyner's argument hardly placated Grady. "What is most deplorable about this latest installment in the Bentley scandal is the lack of true remorse," Grady responded. He wondered how Bentley could accept responsibility for his share of the divorce and not repent of his decision to pursue the relationship with Hasbrook and marry her soon thereafter. And he asked why Bentley had not sought reconciliation with his first wife. Then Grady's argument escalated.

"Many Christians today have rejected biblical discipline and adopted a sweet, spineless love that cannot correct," Grady said. "Our grace is greasy. No matter what an offending brother does, we stroke him and pet him and nurse his wounds while we ignore the people he wounded. No matter how heinous his sin, we offer comforting platitudes because, after all, who are we to judge?"

Joyner and Grady's exchange raises a host of questions about the nature of forgiveness and qualifications for ministry. Their public debate was intensely personal. Admitting he had no time for tact, Joyner took issue with Grady's qualifications for judging. In so doing, he seemed to confirm Grady's cause for concern about ends justifying means. "If you are such [a] judge of this what gives you the credentials?" Joyner asked Grady on March 12. "What moves of God have you led? What have you built?" He went so far as to allege that Grady's judgment matched Bentley's infidelity in the economy of sin.

Joyner's indignation reflects a common misconception about judgment. Elsewhere he faults Grady for violating Matthew 18 and airing his concern publicly before going to Bentley personally. But this pattern for church discipline, taught by Jesus himself, presupposes that local church leaders will need to hold one another accountable to God's standards. Similarly, Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 5:12, "For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?" Christians must judge one another in this way to preserve the church's moral witness and warn one another against sin.
But if church leaders will judge the body of Christ in order to protect it, they must be marked by godly character. And that's exactly the standard for leadership that Paul lays out in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. As they represent God in positions of authority, overseers must demonstrate God's communicable attributes, including love, patience, and fidelity. In a Christian of godly character, gifting such as knowledge, prophecy, or teaching brings glory to God alone. It does not exalt the gifted but the Gift Giver.

As Joyner suggests, King David's example shows us that God can still do mighty things with great sinners. But does God want us to learn from David's story that infidelity should be no impediment to ministry? God deposed other leaders, including Saul, when they had sinned against him. He spared David this fate because of the covenant he initiated to preserve the David kingdom forever (2 Sam. 7:14-16), culminating in Jesus. The outcome of David's life warns us against learning the wrong lessons. David's sin undermined his leadership permanently. His son Absalom rebelled and chased the king from the city of David (2 Sam. 15).
To be sure, God's Word commands Christians to forgive, because God has forgiven them (Col. 3:13). But this forgiveness does not trump judgment as properly exercised in church discipline. And it cannot erase the temporal consequences of sin. Character, not gifting, is a leader's most important asset. This is the means God has ordained to accomplish his ends.

-Collin Hansen of Christianity Today

Monday, March 30, 2009

Our Daily Portion

"Jehoiachin changed his prison clothes--and he dined regularly in the presence of the king of Babylon for the rest of his life. As for his allowance, a regular allowance was given to him by the king, a portion for each day, for the rest of his life." 2 Kings 25:29-30

Jehoiachin was not sent away from the king's palace with a 'supply' to last him for months, but his provision was given him as a daily pension. Herein he well pictures the happy position of all the Lord's people. A daily portion is all that a man really needs. We do not need tomorrow's portion; for that day has not yet dawned, and its needs are as yet unborn. The thirst which we may suffer in the month of June does not need to be quenched in February, for we do not feel it yet. If we have enough for each day as the days arrive, we shall never know want. Sufficient for the day is all that we can enjoy.

We cannot eat or wear more than the day's supply of food and clothing. Any surplus gives us the care of storing it, and the anxiety of watching against a thief. One staff aids a traveler, but a bundle of staffs is a heavy burden. Enough is not only as good as a feast, but is all that the greatest glutton can truly enjoy. Enough is all that we should expect; a craving for more than this is ungrateful. When our Father does not give us more, we should be content with His daily allowance.

Jehoiachin's case is ours--we have . . .

a sure portion;
a portion given to us by the King;
a gracious portion;
and a perpetual portion.

Here is sure ground for thankfulness.

Beloved Christian, in matters of grace, you need a daily supply. You have no store of grace. Day by day must you seek help from above. It is a very sweet assurance that a daily portion is provided for you. In the Word, by meditation, in prayer, and waiting upon God, you shall receive renewed grace and strength. In Jesus, all needful things are laid up for you. Never go hungry while the daily bread of grace is on the table of mercy! Enjoy your continual allowance!

"Give us each day our daily bread." Luke 11:3

"As your days, so shall your strength be." Deuteronomy 33:25

- C. H. Spurgeon

Friday, March 27, 2009

Acts 26:18

16. But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen of me and to those in which I will appear to you, 17. Delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you.

18. To open their eyes, (Faith) so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, (Repentance) that they may receive forgiveness of sins (Forgiven) and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me. (Faith or Conviction ”lived out” produces Fruit, which is Character) see - James 2:14-26 along with Galatians 5:16-25

If ever there was a "Formula" to salvation in scripture, if you can even say that there is such a thing as a "Formula" at all, it would be found in Acts 26:18.

Every day the question is asked “What must I do to be saved?” And out of the Christian community comes an answer that is usually “believe in Jesus” or “have faith in Jesus” or “Just repeat after me this prayer”. In short, they are in a sense correct, yet self-standing they are… well… incomplete. (Aside from the last one - for I have yet to find that method left for us as an example in all of scripture). So to take a topic such as “Faith”, have it stand alone and not talk about “being set apart” or likewise, to teach “Forgiveness through Faith” and not address “Godly Repentance” a picture is created that falls short... Very short, if not even an inaccurate representation of the true Gospel message!

The Bible is the inspired word of God, and we should all take note to its entire context as though God Himself was speaking to us face to face. But here... in this verse... Paul is testifying to what the Lord Himself has told him outright. More importantly, how Jews and Gentiles alike would come to a saving knowledge of Him.

The verse in Acts 26:18 (I believe) is showing us how all these elements are to come together in working order. In essence, it’s a roadmap as to what MUST take place in each one of our lives in order to be truly saved.

To be saved, we MUST:

• -Believe, or have Faith in Jesus and His work that was done on the cross, understand it, and pour over it.

• -In light of that Faith we Must see our depravity apart from God, our need for Him, and Repent or turn away from our sins and our old life, this is the correct response to true belief.

• -In order to receive Forgiveness, We Must have Jesus so working Faith in our lives that we are led to repentance, hating the very way of life from which we came out from.

Side note: (Faith in Jesus that leads to Repentance is the doorway to Forgiveness. Not just a confession of Faith alone, we must never forget this! Rarely do I ever hear this being preached in the modern mainstream church today).

• -Lastly, In order to have the fruit of our salvation appearing in our lives, sanctifying and assuring us of our place in Heaven, WE Must have first come to the place where biblical Faith, Repentance and Forgiveness have not only been birthed in our lives, but is growing (At times stumbling, at times falling down, but over all growing) and still remains today!

You see, we cannot have the one without the others. There is NO forgiveness without repentance. In the same way, there is no place reserved in Heaven for those who are living a sanctified lifestyle without the root cause of their conviction coming from faith in Jesus... All are necessary components to present a true and full Biblical Gospel.

And yet there is so much more to be said, about the doctrines of Grace, the Godhead, Regeneration, Beatitudes, Baptisms, order in the church, Love for the brethren, ex. but every one of them fits perfectly into one of these four sections of this foundational verse. It could be one of the most over-looked verses in our Bible, yet it is the center to which each one of these teachings from the Bible will gravitate and must fit into!


Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Eye of Faith

"We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal!" 2 Corinthians 4:18

In our Christian pilgrimage it is well, for the most part, to be looking forward. Forward lies the crown and onward is the goal. Whether it is for hope, for joy, for consolation, or for the inspiring of our love, the future must, after all, be the grand object of the eye of faith!

Looking into the future, the Christian sees sin cast out, the body of sin and death destroyed, the soul made perfect, and fit to be a partaker of eternal glory. Looking further yet, the believer's enlightened eye can see death's river passed. He sees himself enter within the pearly gates, hailed as more than conqueror, crowned by the hand of Christ, embraced in the arms of Jesus, glorified with Him, and
made to sit together with Him on His throne!

Contemplation of my glorious future may well relieve the darkness of the past and the gloom of the present! The joys of heaven will surely compensate for the sorrows of earth!

Hush, hush, my fears! Death is but a narrow stream and you shall soon have forded it! Death--how brief! Immortality--how endless! Time--how short! Eternity--how long! The road is so, so short! I shall soon be there!

"In the future, there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that day; and not only to me, but to all those who have loved His appearing!"
2 Timothy 4:8

- C. H. Spurgeon

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Life of a Christian

O soul, consider this deeply: it is the life of a Christian that carries more conviction and persuasion than his words. Even if you, like an angel, talk of Christ, of the gospel, of the doctrines of grace, and of heaven, yet if you indulge devilish tempers, and live under the power of any sinful lusts and passions, you will hereby harden others against the things of God and prevent their setting out in the ways of God. Study and pray to be a consistent walker in the ways of holiness; otherwise, all is but windy profession and airy talk. O, how much harm is done to Christ's cause by the unholy walk of many professors!

- John Bunyan

Monday, March 23, 2009

Is This Your Teen Leader?

Ignatius from travis hawkins on Vimeo.


Few words have been used more inaccurately and loosely in recent years than has "love." With a great many people, it is but a synonym for moral laxity, weakness of character, a taking the line of least resistance, a quiet tolerating of what is felt to be wrong.

Multitudes of parents have supposed they were treating their children "lovingly" when they overlooked their folly, made excuses for their wildness, and refused to discipline them for disobedience. They have prided themselves on being "kinder" toward their children than the "stern measures" which were meted out to themselves in their own youth. But it is laxity--not love--which allows a child to have its own way. "He who spares his rod hates his son; but he who loves him, chastens him early" (Proverbs 13:14). Let those of our readers who have young children ponder Proverbs 19:18; 22:15; 23:13, 14; 29:15, 17, and remember, that those are the words of Him who is Love!

This same evil has held sway in the churches. Leniency and weakness have overridden righteousness and faithfulness. Instead of maintaining and enforcing the discipline which God's Word enjoins, the great majority of the churches have winked at even glaring sins, refusing to deal with those who walk disorderly. This laxity is misnamed love. A mushy sentimentality which shrank from "hurting the feelings" of others has ousted all concern for the glory of Christ and the honor of His house.

This is one of the inevitable effects of the lopsided preaching of the pulpit, where the 'love' and 'grace' of God were constantly proclaimed, while His 'justice' and 'wrath' were studiously ignored. God is 'light' (1 John 1:5) as well as 'love' (1 John 4:8); 'holy' as well as 'merciful'; 'severe' as well as 'good' (Romans 11:22). Unless the balance is preserved between those two sides of the Divine character, not only will He be grievously misrepresented, but the most serious results will follow!

- A. W. Pink

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Acts 17

24. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man 25. nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.

Chief Dangers

"I consider that the chief dangers which confront the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, Forgiveness without Repentance, Salvation without Regeneration, politics without God, and Heaven without Hell."--

William Booth

Monday, March 9, 2009

Christ's Coming

His [Christ’s] first coming was long looked for; yet the day not precisely known. He promised to send the Holy Ghost; yet his Apostles knew not the day when; but were commanded to abide at Jerusalem, till they were endued with power from on high; they must tarry the good hour.

Much less is the term of His last coming notified to any son of man. Let all our care be to find Christ in our hearts, before we seek Him in the clouds!

Thomas Adams, 1633