Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Death of a Church

"Death (of a Church) occurs when unbelievers are allowed to take over ministries in the church. It happens when a church becomes more concerned with form and liturgy than it is with life on a spiritual level. Death occurs when a church becomes more concerned about welfare and social ills than it is about salvation. It happens when a church loves systems more than it loves Jesus Christ. And it happens when a church becomes more concerned with material things than spiritual reality. That's how a church dies. It all is a result of sin.

Sin--in any form that the church tolerates, whether it is in the members or the leaders. Tolerance of sin begins the cycle; then comes the tolerance of unbelievers in the church until no one cares who is a believer or an unbeliever. The end comes when the man who runs the church isn't a believer. Sins of commission and omission kill a church little by little. When that happens, Christians become carnal. Soon afterwards, unbelievers come into the church, and then a total tolerance for sin exists. The church begins to die, and the people who really love Jesus Christ leave only to be replaced by people who don't know Him." — John MacArthur

HAT TIP: The Bororean

Monday, August 4, 2008

A Few Words on Richard Abanes and Repentance

Richard Abanes says: “Ken Silva's stubbornness is to blame.”

Richard Abanes says: "Taking sides” is to blame.

Richard Abanes says: "Everyone else" is wresting scriptures to "advance an agenda".

Richard Abanes is presently engaged in a vain attempt to justify his reprehensible, unjustifiable and un-Christ like behavior all around the Christian blogosphere.

Richard Abanes is in denial.

Richard Abanes is in desperate need of repentance.

I'm sorry but the hubris on display by Richard Abanes (RA) in the present "Abanes/Silva Dust Up" is simply breathtaking. Do such a statements as those quoted above strike anyone else as sounding eerily familiar? To me it sounds exactly like the first resort of the red-handed - namely blame shifting.

And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. (Genesis 3:12)

For those who may be unaware of the present situation one Richard Abanes - Saddleback apologist and PDL insider - violated scripture in a self-centered, flesh pleasing effort to have an article that personally offended him removed from the website of one Pastor Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries. Much has been said and written on this sorry situation and a simple Internet search of Abanes/Silva" should give the interested reader plenty to chew on.

It's unfortunate that in his self-professed "final word on the issue" RA has willfully (and not so skillfully) chosen to ignore and evade the fundamental question "What did Ken Silva say in the offending article 'A PASTOR’S ASSESSMENT OF RICHARD ABANES' that was deemed so libelous?"

And perhaps even more importantly why does RA – his scriptural gymnastics to the contrary notwithstanding - continue to stand defiantly and unrepentantly in violation of 1 Cor. 6:1-8? Oh, that’s right! RA simply issues a statement flatly denying that he’s in violation of 1 Cor. 6:1-8 and that’s that! Thus saith Richard Abanes! Move along folks, nothing to see here…but wait! There is something to see here – in fact there’s MUCH to be seen here.

In my opinion the bitter fruit born from the poisonous root of the Purpose Driven Paradigm is evident for all to see through the simple observation of RA's shameful, self-centered, and flesh-gratifying actions throughout this whole sorry episode. Interestingly enough RA's well established pattern of generally un-Christ like comportment is the whole point behind Ken Silva's missive “A PASTOR’S ASSESSMENT OF RICHARD ABANES”.

RA has frequently demanded for his “detractors” to show him where his theology or doctrine were challenged by the offending Silva article, yet the article wasn't concerned with his theology or doctrine; it was concerned with the bitter fruit produced by the Purpose Driven Paradigm of which one Richard Abanes was (and is) "Exhibit A". In point of fact Ken Silva’s article makes much more sense now than it did when I originally read it because RA has verified the veracity of Ken's claims by demonstrating his well established pattern of behavior throughout this ordeal.

For example the following quote is taken from Silva's offending article:

From where I stand, it has now become clear to me that Mr. Abanes feels anyone who disagrees with him is simply wrong, no matter what evidence may be presented to him. It is my sincere prayer that the following might cause him to come to a position where he will at least show some semblance of respect for others in the family of Christ with whom he does not agree. Perhaps he might wish to consider Philippians 3:15 – Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you (NKJV).

And in another quote taken from “A PASTOR’S ASSESSMENT OF RICHARD ABANES” Ken Silva points towards RA's less than charitable and very personal attack on Dr. John MacArthur who is himself on record exposing the bitter and rotten fruit of the man-centered, flesh pleasing Purpose Driven Paradigm:

From Tim Challies’ rather revealing interview with Mr. Abanes, we will see an arrogance emerge as he “attacks” (personally?) Dr. John MacArthur. Whatever one may think of every area of Dr. MacArthur’s theological positions, the fact remains that he is widely acknowledged as one of the finest Bible teachers we have in the Christian Church today. Further, MacArthur is also a man who is a senior pastor–and an elder–if you will, within the Evangelical church at large.

And yet, instead of showing Dr. MacArthur the respect his venerable position within Christ’s church would entitle him to, Mr. Abanes says with insolence:

As for John MacArthur, he simply does not know what he is talking about and has shown himself to be a loose cannon when it comes to Warren, The Purpose Driven Life, and Saddleback . I am not sure who is feeding him information, but it is false. But perhaps MacArthur just doesn’t care enough about truth to be careful in his own research. Therefore, I fault MacArthur for either: a) not doing his own research; or b) not doing his own research carefully enough before falsely accusing ChurchWarren of things that Warren has never taught. (http://www.challies.com/archives/001175.php)

These are strong words against Dr. MacArthur from RA.

They’re personal words.

They’re incendiary words.

In fact prior to Ken Silva's writing of “A PASTOR’S ASSESSMENT OF RICHARD ABANES” RA had also expressed his obvious disdain for Silva's "research skills". Interestingly enough there is somewhat of a controversy surrounding RA's own "research skills" as can be easily found online by those who are curious enough to spend a few moments using their own research skills.

Is RA guilty of blame shifting and unrepentantly avoiding his personal responsibility as a professing Christian in the matter before us? Does RA stand defiantly in rebellion of Matt. 18:16-18 and 1 Cor. 6:1-8? I think the facts speak for themselves.

After an absolutely gripping and heart wrenching Biblical plea from Steven J. Camp (SJC) for peace and reconciliation in the matter in the combox over at his blog (posted at 19:32) the best RA could muster was to pick out one sentence, laugh at it, summarily issue the cyber-equivalent of the New York State Bird, and then dismissively walk away! Folks the cavalier, flippant and haughty attitude on display by RA herein is simply stunning.

It really is.

To be honest it was difficult for me to put into words what I felt as I typed a response to RA’s drippingly derisive comment in SJC’s meta, but as I said there it was somewhere between pity and righteous indignation. Look, I'm not taking a secondary offense for Ken Silva or SJC anyone else here. I'm simply in shock at the continuing display of indifference, defiance, and stiff-necked rebellion against God's Holy Word and the high handed snubbing of a Christ-centered God honoring appeal for reconciliation from one professed brother in the Lord (SJC) to another professing believer (RA).

Behold the bitter fruit of the Purpose Driven Paradigm!

THIS my friends is what Ken Silva's original article, "A PASTOR'S ASSESSMENT OF RICHARD ABANES" was about in the first place.

THIS exact and well established pattern of un-Christ like, self justifying, fast and loose spin-doctoring by one Richard Abanes is what Ken Silva's original article, "A PASTOR'S ASSESSMENT OF RICHARD ABANES" was about in the first place.

THIS bitter fruit, born from the womb of the Purpose Driven Paradigm in the person of Saddleback apologist Richard Abanes is what Ken Silva's original article, "A PASTOR'S ASSESSMENT OF RICHARD ABANES" was about in the first place.

Throughout this ordeal RA has done nothing if not MAKE KEN SILVA'S CASE FOR HIM!

SJC appealed to RA in the light of scripture and admonished him to go to his brother (Ken Silva) - and I applaud him for his heart felt efforts - but to be quite frank based on RA’s open letter to SJC and his behavior throughout this dust up it isn't clear to me whether or not RA actually considers Ken Silva to be his brother in the Lord. In fact I've never actually seen RA clarify this point.

I must confess in the Lord that I'm personally appalled by RA's copious uncharitable responses thus far which, in the light of scripture, clearly originate from the flesh and are therefore worldly and carnal which things are displeasing to the LORD.

I'm particularly struck by the Biblical fact that a regenerate heart will be unfailingly demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit which is peace, love, longsuffering, etc. Certainly true, regenerate, born-again Christians can - and frequently do - fall into miserable sin or react suddenly from the "old man" in the flesh, yet this is not to be the pattern of one's life conversation as is evidently the case with Richard Abanes. To the contrary, a heart that's truly devoted above all things to the glory of Jesus Christ and which is being sanctified by the Holy Spirit from glory to glory will be found, as a pattern of life, to be obedient, submissive, teachable and humble to His instruction, rebuke, and reproach.

It truly grieves my heart to say that I have seen none of these characteristics in RA's responses here or anywhere else where this subject is under discussion. To me this is no light matter because the scriptures teach that not only individuals, but entire congregations can possess all the trappings, appearances and credentials of Christianity - being students of the scriptures and being impressively outwardly religious all while being inwardly lost and without hope (i.e. see the church of Ephesus in Revelation). To call Jesus “Lord, Lord” but then reject and disobey His commands is not evidence of belief but of unbelief. Isn’t the responsibility of a Christian to be a witness to Christ in the world as opposed to seeking to secure his perceived “rights” in the world? Isn’t it indicative of a divided loyalty (i.e. being double-minded) to find or manufacture excuses for why we don’t obey the commands of scripture? Aren’t Christians to be obedient to Christ on His terms and not our own? If we find ourselves to be in such a sorry estate do we not have good cause to question the reality of our faith?

Where is the love?

Where is the humility?

We must always be sensitive to the possibility that we're dealing with unbelievers in our midst and therefore we are commanded to be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves as we lovingly correct those who do err in the faith. If through this process we win our brother, or restore one who stumbles because he is weaker in the faith then Christ is glorified, and if through this process we cast out one who scorns correction and spurns discipline then the spiritual health and purity of the church is protected and Christ is glorified. Of course the purpose of proper, Biblical discipline is always restoration, not ostracism.

Now PLEASE understand that I'm not judging RA's heart here or suggesting that he is an unbeliever - only the Lord knows his heart - but the church is called to judge behavior and how one's behavior lines up with the scriptural profile of a Christian and in my view of scripture RA's behavior thus far has been absolutely reprehensible and has brought shame to the Name of the Lord.

And so is this sorry situation to end where it began? Is this sad episode to simply fade away into the cyber-waste bin like so many other various and sundry dust ups? Is it acceptable for those of us in the Body with an acute awareness of this matter to simply "Let go and let God"?

If so, then in my mind such thinking represents a monumental abrogation of our Christian duty and an utter failure to be faithful and obedient to the Master's clear cut, objective, and eminently forthright scriptural commands.

If so, then the sad result of all the original posts, subsequent comments thread discussions, and all the other various and sundry related articles strewn around the 'net are in fact full of sound and fury signifying nothing.

If so, then we have proven to ourselves and the world that we are, in fact, all talk and no action.

I for one am not okay with this.

"Then what's next?", you might ask. "What are we to do?" I'm glad you asked, and I'll gladly tell you.

I'll tell you what I've already told you. I'll tell you that I don't believe Ken Silva could have scripted a response for RA to follow that could have done more to actually make Ken's original case for him than RA has done through his own unwitting tactics which he has literally plastered all over the blogosphere for all to see.
I’ll tell you that perhaps most amazingly to me RA seems to be completely unaware of the fact that his actions throughout this ordeal have served to vindicate and prove the case made against him by Ken Silva in his offending article "A PASTOR'S ASSESSMENT OF RICHARD ABANES".

I’ll tell you that given RA's pattern of self-justifying, stiff-necked, rebellious, and un-Christ like comportment throughout this ordeal in the light of his clear violation of Matt. 18:16-18 and 1 Cor. 6:1-8 and his ongoing defiance of Matt. 5:23-24 I am compelled to arrive at the Biblical conclusion that RA must be treated as a Gentile and a publican until he publicly repents and humbly seeks reconciliation.

And I’ll tell you that I now call on others within the Christian blogosphere to carefully examine the totality of this situation and prayerfully consider the "conversation of RA's life" and his personal conduct as it relates to this matter in the light of scripture and I exhort you to join me in calling upon RA to repent of his self-justifying and prideful resistance to loving scriptural rebuke and correction in this situation.

I realize that these are strong words. I recognize that these are strident comments. But upon examination this is the only Biblical conclusion at which I can arrive and therefore I encourage likeminded Christian bloggers to pick up this clarion call and trumpet it forth until there has been full and public repentance and reconciliation in this situation to the praise of the glory of Jesus Christ alone.

‘Til He returns or calls me home,

Saturday, August 2, 2008

A Call to Discernment with Justin Peters: Parts 1 - 4

Justin Peters dissects the heretical Word of Faith false gospel in this four part series.





Jesus Christ the Damned?

Something serious seems to be happening right now with John Piper and CJ Mahaney regarding an unsettling position that they've evidently both taken on Christ's atoning work on the cross.

Steve Camp has posted a disturbing expose on this subject over at his blog in a piece entitled "THE SCREAM OF THE DAMNED...was Jesus really damned by God for our salvation?" that resulted from a pair of sermons that were delivered at the 2008 RESOLVED conference by Piper and Mahaney. Here is how Camp begins his post:

"I have listened now several times to two messages from the 2008 Resolved Conference by CJ Mahaney and John Piper. The shocking phrase they both chose to use to describe Jesus' finished work of redemption on the cross for the elect was, The Scream of the Damned. No, they are not referring to unregenerate people in hell, or the weeping and gnashing of teeth from perdition's flames, but using this to describe the sinless, holy Son of God as our divine Substitute. The Lord Jesus Christ the Righteous now called: The Damned. This is unthinkable. Those words not only stunned me, but it did stir my interest afresh to go back and study again the atoning work of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross with those provocative words in mind."

I began listening to “God’s Wrath: Vengeance is Mine, I Will Repay” by John Piper tonight after carefully reading through Steve Camp's post and the comments meta and lo and behold what did I discover but that John Piper has evidently been teaching this doctrine for years!

My discovery prompted me to leave this comment in Steve's meta:


Since I don't believe in coincidences I must believe that God's providence brought me to the following piece from John Piper dated February 27th, 2005 which is entitled "God's Wrath: 'Vengeance Is Mine, I Will Repay,' Says the Lord".

I was researching this piece because it was linked from another blog as a resource for defending the Biblical truth of the doctrine of hell over and against the myriads who despise and reject this doctrine, but I was shocked to hear Piper make the statement near the beginning of this sermon that Jesus Christ was damned on the cross.

Now you'll need to listen to the audio because the statement didn't make it into the sermon transcript, but beginning at about the 1:18 mark Piper makes the statement; "Jesus Christ perfectly righteous and perfectly damned on the cross in our place".

As I mentioned in my prior quote I'd never heard about this matter until today and suddenly I've stumbled across it twice now.

I pray that this matter will be earnestly and prayerfully resolved with all gravity.

This is no light matter my friends! Let us fervently pray that the One True and Living God and His Christ would be glorified as the details of this issue are sorted out in the light of inspired scripture.