Looking at the Cross

Tonight we’ll sing this hymn by John Newton, to the tune Prospect:

In evil long I took delight,
Unaw’d by shame or fear,
Till a new object struck my sight,
And stopp’d my wild career.
I saw one hanging on a tree,
In agonies and blood,
Who fix’d his languid eyes on me,
As near his cross I stood.

Sure never till my latest breath,
Can I forget that look;
It seem’d to charge me with his death,
Though not a word he spoke.
My conscience felt and own’d the guilt,
And plung’d me in despair;
I saw my sins his blood had spilt,
And help’d to nail him there.

Alas! I knew not what I did;
But now my tears are vain;
Where shall my trembling soul be hid?
For I the Lord have slain.
A second look he gave, which said.
“I freely all forgive;
This blood is for thy ransom paid,
I die that thou mayst live.”

Thus while his death my sin displays
In all its blackest hue
(Such is the mystery of grace),
It seals my pardon too.
With pleasing grief and mournful joy,
My spirit now is fill’d,
That I should such a life destroy,
Yet live by him I kill’d.

What Do United Methodists and Muslims Have In Common?

According to at least one pastor, they worship the same God!

The front page of the United Methodist Church website points to an article detailing how one of their pastors is observing the fast Muslims observe during their holiest month, Ramadan. Listen to his opening statement:

“I have no doubt that Muslims and Christians worship the same God,” Magruder said. “We have some of the same core foundations.”

Our immediate response would probably be, “This guy Magruder is way off base. Christians and Muslims do not worship the same God.

Welllll, actually he’s probably right, and here’s why: Muslims do not worship Jesus as God; to them he is merely a prophet. If Magruder says they worship the same God, evidently he does not believe in the biblical Jesus and as such does not worship the God of the Bible.

Jesus said that if anyone does not believe Him to be equal with God the Father and the only hope of eternal life, such a person does not believe in or worship the true God. They do not believe the truth, and the reason they don’t is because they respond to biblical truth in accord with their sinful natures, just like Satan does (John 8:44).

This UMC minister observed the fast to show his “solidarity” with this Imam by walking in the Muslim’s shoes. I’d be interested to hear if the Muslim would do the same thing! I’d be interested to hear if he could do the same thing–could you imagine what would happen to an Imam for, say, observing the Lord’s Supper, being baptized, or participating in Good Friday and Easter (better, resurrection Sunday) services so he could walk in the shoes of a Christian?

Do you think when the UMC minister closes his prayers with his Muslim Imam friend with, “In Jesus name, Amen”?

One last thing from the article: One of the objectives this UMC minister has is to “be a bridge” between Christians and Muslims to help the former have a better understanding of the latter. The only destination that bridge will lead to is away from the Christian faith (which he already departed from anyway).

Naturally, the Imam is thankful for the Methodist’s efforts.

“I think it sends a message of unity of mankind,” he said. “We may have differences, but our differences are there to be celebrated.”

Friends, this is not what the NT says Christianity is about! A Christian pastor is to proclaim the Christian message, calling for repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, to leave pagan idolatrous religion behind, and follow Christ exclusively.

I know and have heard that there are genuine Christians in the United Methodist Church. Here are some questions I have for my brothers and sisters:

  • Do Christians and Muslims really worship the same God?
  • Do Christians really have spiritual unity (“solidarity”) with Muslims?
  • Where in the Bible are Christians called to have spiritual union with unbelievers like this?
  • How does your association and partnership with a denomination that tolerates and promotes this kind of thing (it was on the main page of the UMC website) square with 2 John 7-11?
  • What relationship should real believers like yourself have with apostates like this UMC minister and denomination? (Hint: 2 Corinthians 6:14-15)
  • How do you feel about your money going to support and promote this kind of thing? (In case you don’t think that isn’t happening here, who pays for the official UMC website that promotes this kind of thing?)

If I have any brothers and sisters in the UMC who recognize how utterly wrong and unbiblical this kind of thing is, I encourage and exhort you to leave the UMC and find a church that not only believes and preaches the Christian faith but is committed to ministry relationships that are consistent with Christian truth!

Defend the Faith Biblical Challenge

I received an email today from one of many news services about religious items. Wow, talk about invective!

The low-down: An author asks folks to supply evidence that he has used the Bible incorrectly in his latest book, The Case Against Evangelical Christianity, specifically these points:

The book makes several controversial claims: among them I argue the Virgin Birth story is a fictional account, and that there is little credible evidence within the New Testament to support the physical resurrection of Jesus. With respect to the Rapture, I conclude belief in it reflects profound biblical illiteracy. Finally, I present important biblical evidence to shed doubt on the idea that God gave Moses the Ten Commandments.

He offers anyone $100 if they can demonstrate that he has improperly used the Bible “as supporting evidence.” Perhaps that’s where the rub lies–the Bible isn’t viewed as the only source, just supporting evidence.

The author has some “rules” that you have to abide by to successfully mount a challenge, the most interesting of which is the first:

I will only pay for scriptural evidence I use incorrectly. I will not pay for evidence that supports another viewpoint.

So you’ve got to change his mind about what he thinks about the Bible. Given the blinding effects of sin and Satan upon the unbelieving mind, the only One who will successfully accomplish that is the Holy Spirit. And I doubt he’ll pony up the $100 then.

Matt 1:23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which translated means, ‘God with us.'”

Matt 28:6 “He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying.”

John 14:3 “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”

Deut 5:4-5 “The Lord spoke to you face to face at the mountain from the midst of the fire, while I [Moses] was standing between the Lord and you at that time, to declare to you the word of the Lord”

Hark! the Voice of Love and Mercy

We learned and sang this hymn this past Sunday to this tune (but not at quite that tempo):

Hark! the voice of love and mercy
Sounds aloud from Calvary;
See it rends the rocks asunder,
Shakes the earth and veils the sky:
“It is finished! It is finished!” Hear the dying Saviour cry;
“It is finished! It is finished!” Hear the dying Saviour cry.

“It is finished!” What assurance
Do the wondrous words afford!
Heav’nly blessings without measure
Flow to us from Christ the Lord:
“It is finished! It is finished!” Saints, the dying words record;
“It is finished! It is finished!” Saints, the dying words record.

Finished all the types and shadows
Of the ceremonial law;
Finished all that God had promised:
Death and hell no more shall awe.
“It is finished! It is finished!” Saints, from hence your comfort draw;
“It is finished! It is finished!” Saints, from hence your comfort draw.

Saints and angels, shout His praises,
His great finished work proclaim;
All on earth and all in heaven,
Join to bless Immanuel’s name:
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Endless glory to the Lamb;
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Endless glory to the Lamb!

–Jonathan Evans (c. 1748-1809)

The Way, the Truth, the Life

1 Thou art the Way: by Thee alone
From sin and death we flee;
And he who would the Father seek,
Must seek Him, Lord, by Thee.

2 Thou art the Truth: Thy word alone
True wisdom can impart;
Thou only canst instruct the mind,
And purify the heart.

3 Thou art the Life: the rending tomb
Proclaims Thy conquering arm;
And those who put their trust in Thee,
Nor death nor hell shall harm.

4 Thou art the Way, the Truth, the Life,
Grant us that Way to know,
That Truth to keep, that Life to win,
Whose joys eternal flow.

G. W. Doane, #221 in The Baptist Hymnal (1885)

 

Who Said Liberalism is Dead?

It’s been the opinion of some that theological liberalism is dead. Simplistically, theological liberalism describes those who call themselves Christians but deny many (if not most) of the doctrines that make Christianity Christianity. Some believe that liberalism’s sun has set and its dead and buried.

I don’t think so. Come to Orwell sometime, and I’ll show you. Or Grand Rapids, MI. Or Mentor, OH. But if you can’t make the visit, consider Martin Thielen…

Thielen is pastor of a United Methodist Church, and has also served as a Southern Baptist pastor. He served for four years as a national worship and preaching consultant and editor of Proclaim for the SBC.

He’s just published a book titled, “What’s the Least I Can Believe and Still be a Christian?” In it he lists ten things Christians do not need to believe to be a  Christian–

  1. God Causes Cancer, Car Wrecks, and Other Catastrophes
  2. Good Christians Don’t Doubt
  3. True Christians Can’t Believe in Evolution
  4. Women Can’t Be Preachers and Must Submit to Men
  5. God Cares about Saving Souls but Not about Saving Trees
  6. Bad People Will Be “Left Behind” and Then Fry in Hell
  7. Jews Won’t Make It to Heaven
  8. Everything in the Bible Should Be Taken Literally
  9. God Loves Straight People But Not Gay People
  10. It’s OK for Christians to be Judgmental and Obnoxious

You have to note the whimsical, almost sneering tone of this list. That kind of attitude is typical of theological liberalism, almost an ecclesiastical snobbery, looking down the nose at “those fundamentalists.”

It would take a significant post to comment on each of these. It almost makes me want to get the book and read it so I don’t misrepresent him. From the list, though, it appears that one can believe that–

  • Either God is not sovereign over all things or that there is no such thing as the effects of sin in the world  (#1)
  • Genuine faith does not require absolute submission of the mind, will, and emotions to God’s Word (#2)
  • The Bible should not be taken as an authoritative standard on the issues it speaks to (##3-4)
  • Salvation and ecology are on the same plane (#5)
  • The biblical account of divine judgment should not be taken literally (#6)
  • There is not an exclusiveness to salvation, despite what Jesus taught (John 3:18; 14:6; #7)
  • The Bible is not the written Word of God divinely authoritative in all it addresses (#8)
  • Homosexuality is not sinful (#9)
  • You can believe whatever you want to believe (#10)

Read some of the reviews of this book, and you’ll see that theological liberalism is not dead.

Thankfully, we’re not caught offguard by this sort of thing, nor are we left without hope–

You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry (2 Tim 3:14-4:5).

Continue in the Word! Preach the Word! Faithfully serve Christ until He comes!

Idolatry

If there was any doubt about idolatry in the Roman Catholic Church, the following from this news release should clear the fog away–

A vial containing blood drawn from Pope John Paul II shortly before he died will be installed as a relic in a Polish church soon after his beatification later this year, an official said Monday.

Piotr Sionko, the spokesman for the John Paul II Center, said the vial will be encased in crystal and built into the altar of a church in the southern city of Krakow that is opening in May.

The exact date of the opening is not yet known, but it should be shortly after John Paul’s beatification at the Vatican on May 1.

Sionko said the idea came from Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, the archbishop of Krakow and the longtime friend and secretary of the late Polish-born pontiff. The blood was drawn for medical tests at Rome’s Gemelli Polyclinic shortly before John Paul’s death on April 2, 2005, and is now in Dziwisz’s possession, he said.

“It was the cardinal’s proposal,” Sionko said. “He is of the opinion that this is the most precious relic of John Paul II and should be the focal point of the church.”

What blood should be the “focal point of the church”? The New Testament makes it abundantly clear, the blood of Christ!