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(445) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY: ETERNAL SECURITY

SAVED & SECURE

I can’t say that this topic is in hunt with the various other topics covered on this blog. Fifteen, twenty years ago, topics like ETERNAL SECURITY, PREDESTINATION, GIFT OF TONGUES, THE RAPTURE….etc., were some of the main discussion (debate) topics I grappled with in my personal understanding of Scripture as well as in discussion with other believers.  Today, the church (in general) has seemingly moved on to other topics such as MYSTICISM, SPIRITUAL FORMATION, CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER, HOMOSEXUALITY, as well as more defined topics such as – some would question of absolute truth?; can/should Christians swear?; becoming missional; becoming more ecumenical – focusing on similarities between Christianity and Roman Catholicism and even other religions….etc.

I can’t say that topics today present a biblical image of Christians walking closer to God than maybe a decade or two ago?  But just looking at this sampling of the topics, in my mind, one set is more rooted in Scripture while the other is more rooted in society and other beliefs.  Maybe it is just me?

That said, most Christians will still have to grabble, at some point in their walk, with the question of Eternal Security – also identified in a similar fashion by phrases such as “once saved, always saved”, “perseverance of the saints”..…etc.  While there are good people on both sides of the debate on this topic, church history has shown this topic to be a defining issue for some Christian groups.  None-the-less, it is an important topic to understand in our individual walk.  I believe, from several perspectives, it can be a very positive topic that encourages to go out in life to be used by God in all that we do.  Let’s start the discussion – 

DEFINITION

ETERNAL SECURITY =is the biblical doctrine that God guarantees our eternal salvation from beginning to end. Therefore, a saved person—someone who has trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for eternal salvation—can never lose that salvation. (i.e. “Once saved always saved).

Many Christians question that definition and don’t see or agree with the idea that they can know for sure that once they become believers, they can know that they are saved.  The line most will hear goes something like this – “If I can’t lose my salvation, what does it matter how I live?”

It is a logical question to ask.  If you think about it, this question really indicates a belief that salvation is somehow achieved or maintained by the saved person rather than given and guaranteed by the Savior.

The Bible talks about rewards and fellowship in our relationship with God.  

Although it’s possible to abuse His grace (Rom 6:1)

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 

God doesn’t disown His children (John 6:35-40).  Take note of the language used – it is dogmatic, strong, to the point.  Words used such as “never”, “by no means”, “nothing”, “everlasting”, “I will”….etc.

35 And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe.  37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. 40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

Still, there are consequences for disobeying God.  Even as Christians, we can experience His discipline and lose potential rewards (1 Cor. 3:10-15).  Yet, we are still saved.

10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

Those are very powerful verses and very encouraging!

We can experience His discipline (Heb 12:3-11). We can lose potential rewards (1 Cor 3:10-15). We can be ashamed when He appears (1 John 2:28). And we can even be taken home “early” (Acts 5:1-11; 1 Cor 11:27-30).  But these are different than saying we can lose our salvation. Simply stated, these verses don’t say we can lose our salvation.

Moreover, the greater the understanding and appreciation of God’s grace the greater the incentive to live faithfully for Him (Titus 2:11-14).

Scriptural Support

Church history shows that several passages have been debated on for hundreds of years.  In many cases, like I said previously, there are good people on both sides of the debate.  And both sides of the debate can point to Scripture to base their conclusions on.  I think that is important and I respect that aspect of the debate.  Instead of pride or argument, it should lead many of us to search the Scriptures even further to let God reveal His truth.

While I can’t say that I always believed in eternal security, I do think that the Bible clearly teaches it.  Scripture talks about salvation as follows:

  • accomplished for us by Christ (John 1:29; 1 Cor 15:3; 1 John 2:2)
  • a gift (Rom 5:15-18; 6:23)
  • by means of God’s grace (Eph 2:8-9; Titus 3:4-7)
  • conditioned on faith in Christ (John 3:16, 36; 6:47; Rom 4:5; 1 Tim 1:16)
  • not of our works (Rom 4:5; Gal 2:16; Eph 2:8-9)
  • a present possession (John 5:24; 6:47)
  • eternal (John 3:16, 36; 5:24; 10:27-30; 11:26; Rom 8:31-39; 2 Tim 2:13)

It’s not a one time occurance but is woven throughout the Bible.  Ultimately the focus is not on us but on Christ and His provision for our sins.

I read this logic perspective from an article by Stan Nelson and thought there are some good points to extract –

Consider the following questions:

Does God know who will enter heaven? The answer is obviously, yes.

Is it possible that any of those He knows are going to enter heaven might not enter? No, that’s not possible. If He knows they’re going to enter, they must and will enter heaven.

If it’s certain they’re going to enter heaven, are they eternally secure? Yes.

Who are these eternally secure people? They’re believers—those who have trusted Christ as their Savior.

Are all believers eternally secure? Yes.

Nelson goes on to state that:

Someone might answer that the believers whom God knows are going to enter heaven are eternally secure but maybe there are other believers who aren’t eternally secure.

But the Bible doesn’t classify believers into some who are eternally secure and some who aren’t (2 Tim 2:19). Salvation isn’t probation. If it were, the word saved couldn’t really be applied to someone until the probation was successfully completed (Acts 16:31; Eph 2:8-9). Neither is the giving of eternal salvation delayed until the end of earthly life. Everlasting life (which lasts forever) is a possession received as a gift at the time of faith in Christ (John 6:47). Those who don’t enter heaven simply never believed.

I like the phrase – SALVATION ISN’T PROBATION!  In His atoning sacrifice on the cross, Jesus Christ paid the penalty for all our sins—past, present, and future. (All sins committed after His crucifixion are future from it.) The Bible doesn’t list only those sins before salvation or only those sins after salvation which are covered. They are all covered. While we must come to Him by faith, He alone does the saving and He alone must get the glory (Rom 5:8-9; 1 Pet 2:24; Eph 2:8-9).

All who have trusted in Christ for salvation are eternally secure. If you’ve trusted Him to save you, He has and you’re saved, safe, and one of His forever! To deny this truth would be to say that it’s possible to have believed in Christ for eternal life and not received it (John 3:36). And that would be to disbelieve Him.

What is the GOOD NEWS?  Eternal security fits the fact that the gospel of salvation by grace through faith is good news (Rom 5:10-11). Conditional securitythe belief that I can lose my salvation because of something I do or don’t do—is depressing and inconsistent with the good news of the gospel.

If YOU are responsible for keeping yourself saved, in essence, you have added a WORK to the condition of salvation.  You have entered works along with faith which Paul says can’t be the case in Eph. 2:8-9.  If I must keep myself saved, can I ever be sure I’m safe? Can I ever know if I’m going to “make it”? No. In fact, under that system it’s certain that I can’t. How discouraging or prideful if one thinks his personal behavior is (and will remain) good enough to save him.

This is GOOD NEWS.  Christ has paid the price, God gives us and seals us with the Holy Spirit.  Our ability to be good enough to stay saved is NOT up to us. It is up to God!  God has already gave us His promise as stated in His word.  That is reassuring.

That is what should produce gratitude, humility and encourage us to go out and do good works according to God’s will. Eternal Security is a wonderful gift of God!

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(444) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY: THE FIVE TESTS OF FALSE DOCTRINE

FALSE DOCTRINE

Tim Challies wrote a recent article on the five tests of FALSE DOCTRINE. An important item that jumps out in the church today is the tendency to include practices from other religious beliefs that don’t originate from the Bible. It is commonly stated that these practices are not necessarily bad because Christians are not using them for religious purposes (i.e. YOGA) but for other purposes such as health, emotional well-being…etc. But, these other practices are syncretically combined with Christian practices with the excuse that it these new practices are similar to Christianity which in their mind justifies participation and use within the church (i.e. YOGAMYSTICISM, CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER, SPIRITUAL FORMATION….ETC.).  One important criteria to use in determining its faithfulness to God’s word is simply – does the concept originate in God’s word?  If not, be very careful indeed. Using EASTERN MYSTICAL and ANCIENT ROMAN CATHOLIC MYSTICISM practices fail to satisfy this criteria.  Scripture is clear on worshipping other gods and following after their beliefs and practices which run counter to God’s word. Unfortunately, within the church today, we see many people following after these latest popular trends in music, books, church growth….etc.

This is more critical to know today that perhaps any time in the past.                                                                                           

http://www.challies.com/articles/test-every-doctrine-test-every-teacher?utm_content=buffer304d4&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

The Five Tests of False Doctrine

T.D. Jakes says that God eternally exists in three manifestations, not three persons. Greg Boyd says God knows some aspects of the future, but that other future events are outside of his knowledge. Creflo Dollar says because we are created in the image of God, we are little gods. Mormonism says God revealed new scripture to Joseph Smith that supersedes the Bible. Roman Catholicism says we are justified by faith, but not by faith alone. This world is a murky madness of true and false. For every doctrine we know to be true, there seems to be a hundred pretenders.

No wonder, then, that John tells us to “test the spirits” and Paul says, “test everything” (1 John 4:1, 1 Thessalonians 5:21). It is our sacred responsibility to examine every doctrine to determine if it is true or false. But how can we distinguish sound doctrine from false? How can we distinguish teachers of truth from teachers of error? In our opening article, I said that putting a doctrine to the test is the best way to determine if it is true or false. As we test the doctrine, we learn our responsibility toward it: We either hold to it or we reject it. I am returning to those tests today to explain them in greater detail. They provide a grid that is useful for testing any doctrine.

Test 1: The Test of Origin

The first test is the test of origin. Sound doctrine originates with God; false doctrine originates with someone or something created by God. The Apostle Paul went to great lengths to convince the church in Galatia that the gospel he taught was not his own, but God’s. “For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:11-12). Even Jesus was clear that he taught only what God had instructed him to teach: “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me” (John 7:16). True doctrine originates with the God who is true (Titus 1:2).

 

Just as true doctrine is marked by its divine origin, false doctrine is marked by its worldly origin. Paul warned the Colossian church to avoid doctrine that is “according to human precepts and teachings” and told Timothy that some would “depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons” (Colossians 2:22, 1 Timothy 4:1). It is this simple: Sound teaching originates with God and false teaching originates with men or demons. When it comes to doctrine, if man made it, then we should not hold it. God is the Father of truth and Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44).

The test: Does this doctrine originate with God or has it been fabricated by someone or something else?

This leaves us with an obvious question: How can we know the origin of a doctrine? Sometimes its origin is obvious, but more often it is not. When we are uncertain, we can turn to our second test.

Test 2: The Test of Authority

The second test is the test of authority. Sound doctrine grounds its authority within the Bible; false doctrine grounds its authority outside the Bible. The Bible is God’s inerrant, infallible, sufficient, complete, and authoritative revelation of himself to humanity. Doctrines that originate in the mind of God are recorded in the Word of God. There is a clear and necessary correlation between origin and authority, between God and his Word.

We can think here of those noble Bereans who “received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (Acts 17:11). They knew that all doctrines must be compared to God’s Word, his source of truth. Likewise, Paul praised the Thessalonians for their careful assessment and acceptance of his teaching because they understood its divine authority. “And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers” (1 Thessalonians 2:13). Sound doctrine originates in the mind of God and is recorded in his authoritative self-revelation, the Bible.

The test: Does this doctrine appeal to the Bible for its authority? Or does it appeal to another scripture or another mind?

But a concern remains, because two teachers may both claim the authority of the Bible while teaching very different things. How can we know whose interpretation is correct? This is where we turn to the third test.

Test 3: The Test of Consistency

The third test is the test of consistency. Sound doctrine is consistent with the whole of Scripture; false doctrine is inconsistent with some parts of Scripture. There is a sameness or familiarity to true doctrine and a strangeness or unfamiliarity to false doctrine. The man who wrote the letter to the Hebrews warned his congregation about “diverse and strange teachings,” while Paul warned Timothy about accepting “different doctrine” (Hebrews 13:9; 1 Timothy 1:3, 6:3). Both meant to emphasize that doctrine must always be compared to the established, accepted body of truth. Those who are knowledgeable about that body of truth will be in the best position to immediately identify and refute what is false.

This is tied to a key theological principle, “the analogy of faith,” which is often explained with the phrase “Scripture interprets Scripture.” If the Bible originates in the infallible mind of God, it must be consistent throughout. Because there can be no contradiction in the mind of God, there can be no contradiction in the revelation of God. What the Bible teaches in one place it cannot refute in another. Therefore, any true doctrine must be consistent with the whole of Scripture. Doctrine must never be treated in isolation, but always in light of a correct understanding of the entire Bible. Too many false teachers isolate verses or ideas that cannot withstand the scrutiny of the whole Book.

The test: Is this doctrine established or refuted by the entirety of Scripture?

Once we have tested doctrine and found it to be true, according to these three criteria, we can also see its soundness by its effects on us and those around us. That requires two more tests.

Test 4: The Test of Spiritual Growth

The fourth test is the test of spiritual growth. Sound doctrine is beneficial for spiritual health; false doctrine leads to spiritual weakness. After instructing Timothy, Paul told him, “If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained [“nourished”] in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed” (1 Timothy 4:6). Timothy had trained himself in the Bible and Christian doctrine. He had nourished himself in the truths he had been exposed to since he was a child. And he had never stopped. Through this continual nourishment, this ongoing dining on the Word of God, he had grown spiritually healthy and strong. He had accumulated a thorough knowledge of God and his Word.  This is why Paul called him a “man of God” with “sincere faith” (1 Timothy 6:11, 2 Timothy 1:5). Timothy’s constant nourishment in sound doctrine from the Word of God made him the man he was.

Sound doctrine makes spiritually healthy, mature, knowledgeable Christians. False doctrine makes spiritually unhealthy, immature, ignorant Christians who may be no Christians at all.

Test 5: The Test of Godly Living

The fifth test is the test of godly living. Sound doctrine has value for godly living, false doctrine leads to ungodly living. Truth never stands on its own, but always has implications in life. Doctrine is always meant to lead to doxology, worship, and purposeful living. “All Scripture is breathed out by God,” says Paul, “and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Scripture is not to be known in an abstract sense, but intimately. It is to inform not only our minds, but our hearts and hands as well.

Paul charged Titus to “teach what accords with sound doctrine,” reminding him that such doctrine is “excellent and profitable for people” (3:8, 2:1). “What accords with” sound doctrine is its far-reaching implications, the duties that flow out of it. Thus, sound doctrine has value. It is profitable in teaching us to live as we ought to live. It equips us to do those things that are are good for our neighbor and that bring honor and glory to our God. Truth has not been grasped until it has been lived. Sound doctrine profits us by training us to live in a way that pleases God. False doctrine weakens us by training us to live in a way that dishonors God.

Evaluation: The Determination of Quality

At this point we simply take all of the evidence from the three tests and make a conclusion about the quality of the doctrine in question. Sound doctrine originates with God, is recorded in the Word of God, is consistent with the whole revelation of God, and leads to both spiritual health and godly living. False doctrine originates with men or demons, is foreign to the Word of God, is inconsistent with the whole revelation of God, and leads to spiritual weakness and ungodly living. It must pass all of the tests in order to be sound. If it fails one, it fails all of them. This word “sound” refers to health and appears often in the New Testament. For example, Paul instructed Timothy, “Follow the pattern of the sound [“healthy”] words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:13). To Titus he said, “Teach what accords with sound [“healthy”] doctrine” (Titus 2:1).

The task of the doctor is to evaluate a patient to declare him fit or unfit. The patient is fit when his whole body is functioning properly, free of disease. The task of the Christian is to evaluate every doctrine to declare it fit or unfit. John Stott says it characteristically well: “Christian doctrine is healthy in the same way as the human body is healthy. For Christian doctrine resembles the human body. It is a coordinated system consisting of different parts which relate to one another and together constitute a harmonious whole. If therefore our theology is maimed (with bits missing) or diseased (with bits distorted), it is not ‘sound’ or ‘healthy’.” Doctrine that passes the three tests is sound doctrine. It is pure and undefiled, true according to God’s unfailing standard of truth.

The evaluation: Based on the evidence, is this doctrine sound or false?

Action: Determine Your Responsibility

Having thoroughly tested the doctrine and examined its effects, we are able to determine how to respond to it. Sound doctrine must be accepted and held fast; false doctrine must be denied and rejected. When Jesus spoke to the believers in Thyatira, he commended them for clinging to truth and told them to “hold fast what you have until I come” (Revelation 2:25). Paul described the elder as a man who “must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it” (Titus 1:9).

Our responsibility is clear: We must accept and hold fast to what is true, and we must deny and reject what is false. Likewise, the church must welcome those who teach sound doctrine and rebuke those who do not. If they do not heed correction, the church must reject them, removing them and their influence (1 Corinthians 5:9).

Conclusion

In summary, true doctrine (content) originates with God (origin), is grounded in the Bible (authority), and agrees with the whole of Scripture (consistency). Because such doctrine is sound (quality), it is healthy (benefit), and profitable (value) for us, and we are responsible for holding it (responsibility).

False doctrine (content) originates with man (origin), is not grounded in the Bible (authority), and contradicts portions of Scripture (consistency). Because such doctrine is unsound (quality), it is unhealthy (benefit) and unprofitable (value) for us, and we are responsible for rejecting it (responsibility).

 

(426) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY: DOES YOUR BIBLE COLLEGE/SEMINARY TEACH A LITERAL VIEW OF GENESIS?

If you think that sending your children to Bible college or seminary to study the Bible, or if you think that you would like to earn a degree in Theology or ministry….etc. is a biblically sound endeavor, you may be in for a big surprise when you realize that very few actually believe in a literal six-days of creation in the book of Genesis. 

The following is a list of “Creation Colleges”.

What is a Creation College?

The Christian colleges and seminaries referred to on this site are institutions whose presidents have affirmed in writing their personal agreement with the Tenets of Creation.

Cautious Evaluation Required

Affirmation of the Tenets of Creation by the school’s president is, of course, not a guarantee that all professors/textbooks/courses etc., take the same stand on God’s Word including Genesis but it is an important start for parents wanting a short list to research. Therefore we have provided an opportunity for each institution’s Academic Dean, Bible Department Chair, and/or Science Department Chair (or equivalent) to affirm their commitment to these foundational truths of God’s Word. However, because there are multiple professors within most Science and Bible departments,and because positions are often in flux, the student and/or parents should meet with the school directly and ask questions in a gracious manner.

college-sign-copy

Tenets of Creation

I
We affirm that the scientific aspects of creation are important, but are secondary in importance to the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ as Sovereign, Creator, Redeemer, and Judge.
We deny that the doctrines of Creator and Creation can ultimately be divorced from the gospel of Jesus Christ, for the teachings of Genesis are foundational to the gospel and indeed to all Biblical doctrines (directly or indirectly).
II
We affirm that the 66 books of the Bible are the written Word of God and that the Bible is the only book inspired by God. The Bible is divinely inspired and inerrant throughout. Its assertions are factually true in all the original autographs. It is the supreme authority, not only in all matters of faith and conduct, but in everything that it teaches.
We deny that the Bible’s authority is limited to spiritual, religious or redemptive themes and we deny the exclusion of its authority from its assertions related to such fields as history and all scientific disciplines.
III
We affirm that the final guide to the interpretation of Scripture is Scripture itself. Scripture must be compared with Scripture to obtain the correct interpretation of a particular text, and clear Scriptures must be used to interpret ambiguous texts, not vice versa. We affirm that the special revelation of infallible and inerrant Scripture must be used to correctly interpret the general revelation of the cursed Creation.
We deny that uninspired sources of truth-claims (i.e., history, archeology, science, etc.) can be used to interpret the Scriptures to mean something other than the meaning obtained by classical historical-grammatical exegesis.
IV
We affirm that no apparent, perceived, or claimed evidence in any field, including history, archeology and science, can be considered valid if it contradicts the Scriptural record. We also affirm that the evidence from such fields of inquiry is always subject to interpretation by fallible people who do not possess all information.
We deny that scientific “evidence” used to “prove” millions of years is objective fact and not heavily influenced by naturalistic presuppositions.
V
We affirm that the account of origins presented in Genesis is a simple but factual presentation of actual events and therefore provides a reliable framework for scientific research into the question of the origin and history of life, mankind, the Earth and the universe.
We deny that Genesis 1–11 is myth, saga, or any other type of non-historical literature. We also deny that it is a parable or prophetic vision. It therefore should be interpreted with the same care for literal accuracy as other historical narrative sections of Scripture.
VI
We affirm that the genealogies in Genesis 5 and 11 are chronological, enabling us to arrive at an approximate date of creation of the whole universe. We affirm that mankind is essentially as old as the whole creation. While some disagreement exists between young-earth creationists over whether or not these are strict, gap-less genealogies (i.e., no missing names between Adam and Noah and Noah and Abraham), we affirm that Genesis points to a date of creation between about 6,000–10,000 years ago.
We deny that millions of years of history occurred before Adam and Eve. Therefore we deny that the geological record of strata and fossils corresponds to long geological ages before man. We also deny the Big Bang and any other naturalistic theory of the origin and history of the universe. We further deny that the radiometric dating methods, which are claimed to give dates of millions of years, are trustworthy and can be used to overthrow or disregard the Biblical teaching on the age of the creation.
VII
We affirm that the days in Genesis do not correspond to geologic ages, but are six, consecutive, literal (essentially twenty-four hour) days of Creation. We also affirm that the entire universe including, but not limited to, the earth, sun, moon, stars, plants, animals, and Adam and Eve were created in six, consecutive, literal (essentially twenty-four hour) days of Creation.
We deny that the days of creation are symbolic of long ages or that millions of years can be placed between the days or before the six days of creation.
VIII
We affirm that the various original life forms (kinds), including mankind, were made by direct, supernatural, creative acts of God. We infer from the Bible that the living descendants of any of the original kinds (apart from man) may represent more than one species today, reflecting the genetic potential within a particular original created kind. Only relatively limited biological changes have occurred naturally within each kind since Creation.
We deny that there has ever been any evolutionary change from one of the original created kinds into a different kind (e.g., reptile to bird, ape to man, etc.).
IX
We affirm the supernatural creation of Adam from dust and the supernatural creation of Eve from Adam’s rib on the sixth day of Creation.
We deny that Adam was in any way made from a pre-existing hominid (or any other living creature).
X
We affirm that the account of the Fall of Adam and Eve into sin is a literal historical account and that the Fall had cosmic consequences. We also affirm that both physical and spiritual death and bloodshed entered into this world subsequent to, and as a direct consequence of, man’s sin. We further affirm that this historical Fall is the reason for the necessity of salvation for mankind through the redemptive work of the “last Adam, ” Jesus Christ.
We deny that the account of the Fall was mythical, figurative, or otherwise largely symbolic. We deny that the judgment of God at the Fall resulted only in the spiritual death of man or only consequences for man but not for the rest of animate and inanimate creation. We, therefore, also deny that millions of years of death, disease, violence, and extinction occurred in the animal world before the Fall.
XI
We affirm that the great Flood described in Genesis 6–9 was an actual historic event, worldwide (global) in its extent and extremely catastrophic in its effect. As such, it produced most (but not all) of the geological record of thousands of meters of strata and fossils that we see on the earth’s surface today.
We deny that Noah’s Flood was limited to a localized region. We also deny that the Flood was so peaceful that it left no abiding geological evidence.
XII
We affirm that all people living and dead are descended from Adam and Eve and that as such all people equally bear the image of God, their Maker. We,therefore, affirm that there is only one race of human beings and that the various people groups arose as a result of God’s supernatural judgment at the Tower of Babel and the subsequent dispersion of the people by families.
We deny that the so-called “races” have different origins and that any one “race” is superior to any other.

Updated: October 28, 2015

 

Genesis—the seedbed of all Christian doctrine

Bible genesis

Photo sxc.hu

by

26 April 2007

Everything in the Bible is inseparably bound up with its first book, Genesis. This is because Genesis gives us the origin and initial explanation of all major biblical doctrines.

Obviously not everything that God took 66 books of the Bible to tell us over some 15 centuries is contained in just the first book. There is a progress of doctrine throughout the Bible. From the first verse of Genesis to the last verse of Revelation, we learn more about God, ourselves, sin, redemption, etc. with each successive book.1,2 All the major doctrines of the Bible are like rivers that become deeper and broader as they flow from the initial watershed of Genesis.

We will examine the major Christian doctrines and their connection with Genesis.

1. About God (theology)

Genesis tells us about God, not just as the Creator, as seen in chapter 1, but also as the One who has a plan and purpose for mankind, that is, for us. This plan and purpose involves our living in a relationship of obedience to God (as well as of trust and love for Him). Thus God is seen as Lawgiver in His command to Adam not to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:17). Then God is seen as Judge following Adam’s disobedience (Genesis 3), as well as in His judgment at the Flood, at Babel, and on Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis chapters 6–9, 11, 19). God is also seen as Saviour, prophesied in Genesis 3:15, and then in action in His saving Noah and his family from the judgment of the Flood, and Lot and his daughters from the judgment on Sodom (Genesis 18,19).

As the Creator of all things, God has the absolute right to rule over all things, and He exercises this authority in the world—demonstrating His sovereignty. This is seen in Genesis in four outstanding events: the Creation, the Fall, the Flood, and Babel. It is also seen in God’s choice, call and direction of four outstanding people: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph.

The Trinity can be seen in Genesis.3 The Hebrew word for God, Elohim, in Genesis chapter 1 is plural.4 In Genesis 1:26, God says, ‘Let us make man in our image … .’ The Spirit of God is mentioned ‘hovering over the waters’ inGenesis 1:2. Christ is mentioned prophetically as the ‘seed of the woman’ in Genesis 3:15.5 This passage also prophesies the virginal conception of Christ—that is why He is the seed of the woman, in contrast to the usual biblical pattern of listing only fathers in genealogies. Adam, the Ark, Melchizedek, Isaac, and Joseph, are all commonly regarded as ‘types of Christ’.6,7

In Genesis chapters 1 and 2 we also see two very important things about God—attributes that atheists have tried to demolish with spurious arguments. The first is God’s omniscience/omnipotence in that everything that God did He got right the very first time. Contrary to Carl Sagan’s claim that God is a ‘sloppy manufacturer’,8 in everything that God created there was no experimentation, no trial and error, no ‘Oops’! The second is that everything that God created was ‘very good’ (Genesis 1:31). Contrary to the criticism of David Attenborough, concerning a parasitic worm that lives in the eyeballs of children in Africa,9 (see Why doesn’t Sir David Attenborough give credit to God?) everything that God created demonstrated the goodness of God. In the world before sin had entered there was no death, no suffering, no disease, no carnivory, no detriment, and no lack of any good thing.

2. About us—mankind (anthropology)

The first man, Adam, and the first woman, Eve, appear in Genesis as special creations of God—Adam made from the dust, Eve from Adam’s rib—both made by God in the image of God (Genesis 1:26–27). Therefore we are not evolved animals, or mere agglomerations of chemicals, but beings with a spiritual or God-conscious nature.

Eve was created to be a ‘companion’ for Adam (Genesis 2:20–22). From this follows the doctrine of marriage(Genesis 2:24–25—confirmed by Jesus in Matthew 19:4–6), as the union of one man and one woman for life (not of the union of two men or of two women, or something else). Clearly, also, the whole human race is descended from a single pair (Genesis 3:20).

3. About sin (hamartiology)

With the first man came the first sin—seen in Genesis as violation of the law of God (Genesis 3:6–11), and as depravity both imputed and imparted to the whole human race (cf. Genesis 4:8; 6:5). When God created Adam and Eve, they had the ability not to sin, as well as being able to sin. When they chose to reject God’s rule over them, they and mankind lost the ability not to sin; instead we have an innate sinful nature.10 The first sin brought the first guilt(Genesis 3:8).

The first sin also brought the first judgment (Genesis 3:14–19). There would be enmity between Satan’s seed (unbelievers and possibly demons) and the woman’s seed (believers but specifically Christ). Women and men would suffer in their respective roles. All humanity would now be subject to death.

4. About salvation (soteriology)

The Bible teaches that God in His mercy and grace forgives our sin, but only when the penalty is paid by a substitutionary sacrifice. Thus God has provided salvation from the guilt, the power, the eternal penalty, and ultimately the presence of sin, by means of the person and work of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The enactment and fulfilment of this salvation through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus is not seen until the Gospels; however, the prediction and promise of what was to come is first seen in the promise that the seed of the woman would crush the head of the serpent (Genesis 3:15).

 

The substitutionary nature of sacrifice is first seen inGenesis 22:1–13, where Abraham is directed to offer a ram as a burnt offering instead of his son Isaac.

 

Further, this Seed is a descendant of the first man Adam (Luke 3:38), and is called ‘the Last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45). This is essential, because Isaiah spoke of this coming Saviour as literally the ‘Kinsman-Redeemer’, i.e. one who is related by blood to those he redeems (Isa. 59:20, which uses the same Hebrew word גואל (gôēl) as is used to describe Boaz in relation to Naomi in Ruth 2:20, 3:1–4:17). The Book of Hebrews also explains how Jesus took upon Himself the nature of a man to save mankind, but not angels (Heb. 2:11–18). This vital kinsman-redeemer concept is sourced in Genesis.

The beginning of the Jewish nation within which the Messiah would be born, die and rise from the dead is seen in the call of Abraham (Genesis 12:1–3; 17:19;49:10).

The substitutionary nature of sacrifice is first seen in Genesis 22:1–13, where Abraham is directed to offer a ram as a burnt offering instead of his son Isaac.

5. About angels (angelology)

Just when God created the angels is not mentioned in the Bible, but it was probably before He created the earth (Genesis 1:1), or at least before the dry land appeared (Gen. 1:9), because according to Job 38:4–7, when God laid the foundations of the earth ‘the sons of God shouted for joy’11—see also Where do the angels fit in?

As God is not the author of evil, and because He pronounced His whole creation to be ‘very good’ at the end of Day 6 of Creation Week (Genesis 1:31), we take it that the being we now call Satan had not fallen into sin at that time.

In Genesis 3:1–14 we read the first reference to this being who slanders God and who tempted Eve to rebel against God, and whose ultimate destiny is foretold by God (Genesis 3:15). Elsewhere in the Bible we learn that the name of this creature is Satan, which means ‘slanderer’ (cf.Revelation 12:9; 20:2).12

The first reference to good angels is in Genesis 3:24 where cherubim are placed in the Garden of Eden by God to guard the way to the tree of life.

6. About the Church (ecclesiology)

The doctrine of the Church is revealed in the New Testament. It is one of the things that the Apostle Paul calls a mystery, meaning a previously unrevealed truth, now divulged. However, the very fact that Paul calls the Church the Bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:23–32) brings us back to the first divinely-ordained husband-wife relationship, in Genesis 2:24.

Also the church is surely foreshadowed in Genesis, with Abraham being called out to form (through his descendants) the nation of Israel, which God blessed and was also to be a blessing to all people on earth (Genesis 12:1–3).13 This blessing culminated in a unique Seed of Abraham, Jesus Himself (Galatians 3:16), who was to be the source of blessing to all the nations (Galatians 3:14). Paul tells us, ‘If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise’ (Galatians 3:29). Those who belong to Christ are His true Church.

7. About the last things (eschatology)

The principal aspects of what are called ‘the last things’ are the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, the future resurrection(s) of the dead, the judgment of all mankind, and the final state of the redeemed and of the wicked.14

By their very nature (being the last things) we would not expect these matters to be detailed in Genesis. However, they are the outworking of God’s ultimate plan and purpose for mankind, the earth, and the universe. He purposed to provide an eternal ‘bride’ for His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, from redeemed humanity, and He set this plan into action when He created the heavens and the earth, and mankind, as recorded in Genesis chapter 1.

What we see in Genesis is God beginning the process which will ultimately bring about this purpose—a plan which was in the mind of God from before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:20).

Also, while the ‘last things’ are not detailed in Genesis, the places where they are detailed make no sense without it. In the Eternal State, there will once again be no death or suffering of any sort, as Revelation 21:4 says—and the reason is that ‘there shall be no more curse’ (Revelation 22:3). There will also be a return to an Eden-like state with a return of the Tree of Life (v. 2) and to a state like Days 1–3 of Creation Week where God provided light without the sun and moon (v. 5, cf. Genesis 1:16–19).

Conclusion

All major Christian doctrines have their source, directly or indirectly, in the book of Genesis. Preachers, missionaries and theologians who fail to see this have lost the foundation for what they teach. Conversely, those who do see this have the God-given proper basis for all their Christian witnessing, preaching, counselling, and teaching.

 

The Importance of Creation in Evangelism

by

Published: 26 April 2016 (GMT+10)
eah-launch

 

The pastor realized that dealing with evolutionary misinformation is not an optional extra, but something that must happen ‘up front’ when doing evangelism in China.

A thriving church in Japan

After a visit to Japan in December 2013, I reported that I was greatly encouraged. I saw the effects of 10 years of creation evangelism in Okinawa. After I had presented a message about creation evangelism on a Sunday morning 10 years previously, the pastor of Naha Baptist Church said, “This message must be taken to the whole of Japan.”

He had recognized how fundamental this was to the penetration of the Gospel in Japan. I also remember an elder, who was having lunch with us, admitting that he had had a wrong view of Genesis; he just thought it was stories, not real. He repented of that view in front of the senior pastor and me (this is a difficult thing for anyone to do, but particularly so in the ‘face saving’ culture that is strong in Japan). This was very moving.

That church had grown substantially in the decade since then. It had gone onto much larger premises and now had a pastoral team and many members actively involved in outreach. It was continuing to grow, using creation apologetics as a central part of the church’s strategy. Other churches in Okinawa were looking to this church for leadership in how to evangelize.

A network of pastors had been established to further the growth of the Gospel in Japan via creation evangelism. This was happening in a country notorious for being the ‘graveyard of missionaries’. Churches have been established from new converts and are growing. But these churches were not the product of missionaries from outside, but resulted from creation apologetics being used by local pastors and church members to reach their fellow citizens with the Gospel.

One of the reasons that missionaries from ‘The West’ have been so ineffective in Japan is that they generally eschew creation apologetics. They have been largely trained in seminaries where the historicity of Genesis is downplayed (a ‘side issue’) or even opposed. In 2002, a young missionary from one of the largest foreign missionary organisations working in Japan contacted us with a view to one of us visiting Japan to train the missionaries in creation apologetics. We began making arrangements for me to go and do this, but then the young missionary told us that those above him in the organisation had vetoed the idea, much to his disappointment.

Why does creation evangelism ‘work’ in China and Japan?

The people in China and Japan are indoctrinated in an evolutionary worldview in the education system. They hear nothing else. They have taken on board how everything came into existence by purely natural processes over billions of years from the big bang until now. There is ‘no evidence’ for divine creation and therefore no evidence for a supernatural Creator Who rules over everything and to whom we are accountable. The preaching of the Gospel that Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead on the third day for our salvation (1 Cor. 15) makes absolutely no sense to such a mindset; it is “foolishness to the gentiles”.

boy-bible

Many people are receptive, however, when the Bible is taught from the beginning to establish God as the Creator of all first! How can people understand their need for forgiveness, and a saviour, if they have little concept that God created them, so that they are accountable to Him? Who will judge them for their sin if there is no Creator-God to whom they will be held accountable? How can they trust the Bible on salvation if they can’t trust its history in Genesis, so foundational to the Gospel, of how sin and death entered the world? Also, if Genesis is ‘just stories’, then why not the life, death and resurrection of Jesus?

Preaching about Jesus and His death and resurrection in isolation sees little fruit. Didn’t Jesus say, “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.” (Luke 16:31). You can’t preach the Gospel effectively in the context of disbelief regarding the rest of the Bible, and especially ‘Moses’ (Genesis, etc.). Therein lies the foundational knowledge of creation, rebellion (the origin of sin and death) and the need for salvation.

In Japan, modern Shintoism and Zen Buddhism reinforce the Creator-less worldview. Furthermore, Shintoism today has millions of ancestral ‘gods’, depreciating any notion of Jesus being the unique Son of God.

The apostolic preaching to gentiles

This in nothing new because it’s actually the biblical method. In Acts 17 the apostle Paul, speaking to people in Athens who had little idea of a supreme ruling Creator-God, began at that point in presenting the Gospel to them. Paul introduced the only true God (of the Bible) to them as the ‘unknown God’ of whom they seemed to have only some vague notion.

The missionary organization New Tribes Mission practises such ‘creation evangelism’ with unreached tribal groups. Many such groups have some recollection of a supreme creator, but it is distorted, often being mixed up with animistic ideas (territorial spirits). So beginning at the beginning lays a foundation for understanding why Jesus came and what His death and resurrection mean.

What of the once-Christian ‘West’?

How different are the once-Christian countries of Canada, the USA, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the U.K., and Western Europe compared to China and Japan, or the people of Athens in New Testament times, or tribal people, for that matter? How many people today believe in a real, ‘hands-on’ Creator God who made them and who will hold them accountable?

The evolutionary worldview has been taught in educational institutions to the exclusion of all else, increasingly so, since the 1960s. This has been reinforced by such things as nature ‘documentaries’ on television, interpretive signs at national parks, and newspaper reports of the latest ‘ape-man’. And then there are articles in women’s magazines about how bad behaviour, such as promiscuity, is due to our evolutionary ‘ape ancestry’, or how our diet should mimic some imagined primitive diet of our primate ancestors. Even sci-fi movies have evolution producing X-men and the like, or aliens having evolved ‘out there’ somewhere in the cosmos. At every turn the idea is reinforced to the point that it is now the prevailing worldview in countries that once believed the Bible’s history.

How many people today believe in a real, ‘hands-on’ Creator God who made them and who will hold them accountable?

Universities have drifted more and more into secularism (God-lessness). That’s where our school teachers get their qualifications. And now we have significant and increasing numbers of high schoolers claiming to be ‘atheist’. In several western European countries, more than half the people now say that they are atheist. Even those who would not wear the label atheist still by-and-large think ‘secular’ (God-less). That is, the Bible’s historical accounts—if they know anything of them at all—are nothing but quaint myths from yesteryear. In their groupthink the reality is as they have been indoctrinated in the education system—evolution over billions of years.

In some places, such as Northern Ireland and the south of the USA, there is a remnant tradition of church going and many people still have notions of God as Creator and ruler of the universe. However, even in these regions the institutions of ‘higher education’ are thoroughly secularized and more and more secularized teachers are being pushed into the schools, teachers who do not share the attitudes of the parents of those they are educating, causing an exodus of Christian youth in these once strongholds of the faith. The churches in these areas need to get on board with creation apologetics to arrest the slide into the abyss of secular depravity so obvious elsewhere. There is nothing in the ‘genes’ of the people who live in such areas that will protect them from the secular onslaught.

A statement from a ‘liberal’ academic in north America spells out the problem: “The children of red [conservative / Christian] states will seek a higher education,” he explains, “and that education will very often happen in blue states or blue islands in red states. For the foreseeable future, loyal dittoheads will continue to drop off their children at the dorms. After a teary-eyed hug, Mom and Dad will drive their SUV off toward the nearest gas station, leaving their beloved progeny behind.”

Then what? He proudly claims: “And then they are all mine.”1

So, ‘creation evangelism’ is relevant just about everywhere today.

From the list of Bible Institutes, Colleges, Universities, and Seminaries, here is a sampling –

untitled-copy

The full list can be seen here –

https://assets.answersingenesis.org/doc/campaign/creation-colleges/creationcolleges_printable.pdf

Unfortunately, as many Bible institutions, colleges and seminaries there are in the United States, the list of “Creation Colleges” is comparatively small.  

https://answersingenesis.org/colleges/

(410) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY: Exercising Their Senses

Study and Know the Scriptures

Ephesians 6:10-20

The Whole Armor of God

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 lPut on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the 2wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against mprincipalities, against powers, against nthe rulers of 3the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 oTherefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand pin the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

14 Stand therefore, qhaving girded your waist with truth, rhaving put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 sand having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking tthe shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And utake the helmet of salvation, and vthe sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 wpraying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, xbeing watchful to this end with all perseverance and ysupplication for all the saints—19 and for me, that utterance may be given to me, zthat I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which aI am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

The New King James Version. (1982). (Eph 6:10–20). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Study and Know the Scriptures

There is no doubt but that the most unhappy and discouraged Christians today are those who do not exercise their senses with respect to this Word of God.  We cannot live on snippets in the spiritual realm  We have to get down to these profound truths of the Scripture; we have to make time to read them and to read books about them.  The trouble today, as it has been for so many years, is that Christian people have not been reading their Scriptures, not troubling to understand them.  They say, “Oh, I am too busy, I have too many things to do, and life is very harassing at the present time.”   But our forefathers, who worked much harder, and for much longer hours, and for much smaller wages, found the time.  Those men used to read their Scriptures and study them  They generally bought a Bible which had a commentary at the bottom of each page, and they studied it and spent time with it.  They also read other books which helped them to understand the Scriptures.  They were “exercising their senses”; and that is what made them strong.  That was the secret of the Protestant martyrs.  It was the secret likewise of the Covenanters in Scotland in the seventeenth century.  Those men were strong because they knew their Scriptures, and they knew the truth of the Scriptures.  They had exercised their senses.  They gave time to the exercise; they lived by the Word.  And thus they ceased to be babes and became mighty, strong men.
You and I must behave in a like manner.  There is no substitute for that.  We do not sit back and “just look at Jesus” to do it all for us.  That is false doctrine: I do not hesitate to use such a term.  We must exercise our senses, and we must build ourselves up in our most holy faith.  It will not happen to us automatically; there are no short-cuts in the Christian life.  If you want to build yourself up, exercise yourself in the Scriptures.
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, “The Christian Soldier: An Exposition of Ephesians 6:10-20,” pg.88-89
Posted by Glenn E. Chatfield  http://watchmansbagpipes.blogspot.com/2016/07/study-and-know-scripture.html

Whatever Happened to Teaching in the Churches?

(# 323) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY – WHATEVER HAPPENED TO TEACHING IN THE CHURCHES?

This is near and dear to my heart – Christians spend less and less time in God’s word as churches go down the path of being more concerned with following after society, dependance on marketing fads to entice people to come to church or the idea that church isn’t necessary because we should be out in the community making the world a better place.  With this comes a further move away from what God has already spoken in His word and influx of aberrant teaching replacing biblical values.  Then, we wonder what happened to the church – its not the same today nor is it as effective in reaching and changing society according to the blueprint already given to us by the Great Commission.  Christians are not discipled today as they once were and are ill-equipped to know God, know His word, and be in a position to be used by God to engage society.  Instead, they become more influenced by the constant bombardment by society in areas that the church no longer deals with for fear of not attracting others (e.g. homosexuality, creation/evolution,….etc.)

These thoughts by Bill Muehlenberg point to one of the biggest problems within the church today – one that is hard to detect once your church starts down this path. All other problems and issues develop and grow as the church moves away from God’s word – knowing, living, breathing, sharing and applying His word.  This doesn’t sound exciting to some – instead they embrace the catch phrases of today such as being missional, spiritual formation, transformation, tolerance…etc. – making these words mean something that is foreign to their actual meaning.  Whatever happened to teaching in the Churches?

 

Whatever Happened to Teaching in the Churches?

http://billmuehlenberg.com/2015/02/17/whatever-happened-to-teaching-in-the-churches/

Once the regular teaching of the Word of God, of doctrine, of theology, and its application in the Christian life was a mainstay of any evangelical church. It was pretty much the core activity. Yet there seems to be such a dearth of good, solid teaching in so many churches today.

Instead of proper instruction in which believers are fed with the solid meat of the Word, with emphasis on biblical doctrine and proper exposition of key biblical themes and teachings, all we seem to get in so many churches today are topical sermons.

These are often little more than pep talks with one or two verses thrown in along the way. Most of our Sunday morning sermons tend to be feel-good, how-to chats, emphasising how the Christian can be successful, happy, confident, and have a good time.

We promise folks their ‘best life now’ and give them motivational speeches, upbeat homilies, and the like. The systematic instruction and teaching of the Word of God, its core doctrinal truths, and basic Christian doctrines are almost never heard any more in so many churches today.

Perhaps I am spoiled, because I think of my home church in the US and what was offered there, after I was first saved, way back in the early 1970s. What we had obible-11n offer there was typical of most Bible-believing churches back then. There was non-stop teaching, doctrinal instruction, and biblical exposition.

Back then this is the amount of teaching I got in one week at just this one church:
-adult Sunday School where various doctrinal and practical Christian living classes were on offer
-Sunday morning teaching in the sermon
-Sunday evening teaching in the sermon
-more teaching and Bible exposition at the Wednesday night prayer meeting.

Thus my old church offered at least four major events each week in which we got plenty of doctrinal teaching, teaching on key subjects (such as Old Testament survey, New Testament survey, various books of the Bible such as Romans, basic Christian doctrines, the cults, apologetics, ethics, etc) and regular Bible instruction and exposition.

Where is all that today? I know a few churches still do this to some extent. Some of the Presbyterian churches for example still put a very strong emphasis on doctrinal teaching and expository preaching. But the majority of our evangelical churches today simply no longer offer this.

At best there is one time only each week where the sheep are fed: the Sunday morning sermon. But as I just mentioned, this is seldom proper biblical teaching and doctrinal instruction. Almost always it is topical preaching with a minimum of scripture, more in line with secular or New Age motivational pep talks than anything else.

Thus it is clear to me that a major reason why Christians today are so biblically illiterate, have little or no understanding of basic biblical doctrine, and are so easily swept off their feet into error (be it heterodoxy or heteropraxis) is because of this basic lack of Christian instruction.

They are just not getting it in their churches. Unless they pick up a bit of Bible teaching elsewhere (say in books, or online, or listening to CDs or watching DVDs) they are simply being starved of the essential biblical information which they must have to be true disciples of Jesus Christ. No wonder the church today is so anaemic, so ineffective, so carnal and so salt-less.

But how can this be, given the overwhelming emphasis found in the Bible on the essential importance of teaching and instruction? Hundreds of times in the New Testament alone we read about teaching and its importance for the believer. In the gospels we constantly read about Jesus teaching the disciples. The same in the book of Acts where we see the disciples teaching others.

Teaching was the very foundation of disciple making for Jesus and the early disciples. Yet it is all but lost in so many of our churches today. No wonder the church has lost its way. No wonder believers are falling into theological and behavioural error so often. They simply have never been taught properly.

Let me look at just some of the New Testament verses on teaching. That God gave teachers to the Body of Christ is clear from passages such as 1 Corinthians 12:28: “And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues.” We find the same in Ephesians 4:11: “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers”.

And this regular ongoing teaching ministry is exactly what we find in the early church. As but one example, consider Acts 2:42 which discusses the fellowship of the believers: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”

I wish we keenly devoted ourselves to teaching as well today. Because there is so much biblical material on teaching, let me offer a few more verses, but only from the Pastoral Epistles. There are dozens of verses about teaching in these three short books. Here are just some of them:

– 1 Timothy 3:2 Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,
– 1 Timothy 4:6 If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed.
– 1 Timothy 4:11 Command and teach these things.
– 1 Timothy 4:13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.
– 1 Timothy 5:17 The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.
– 2 Timothy 1:11 And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher.
– 2 Timothy 1:13 What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.
– 2 Timothy 2:2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.
– 2 Timothy 2:24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.
– 2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,
– 2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
– Titus 2:1 You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine.
– Titus 2:2-3 Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.
– Titus 2:7 In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness
– Titus 2:15 These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.

A major reason why so many believers are falling into the hands of the cults and into heresy, and are engaging in sinful lifestyles is because of this lack of teaching. While all believers should take it upon themselves to learn, to study, to grow in knowledge, and to master the basics of the faith, our leaders have much to answer for if they are neglecting this vital and sacred calling of teaching and instructing.

Let me conclude with a few quotes on the importance of all this:

“The visible church in our generation has become astonishingly tolerant of aberrant teaching and outlandish ideas – and frighteningly intolerant of sound teaching.” John MacArthur

“Bad theology dishonors God and hurts people. Churches that sever the root of truth may flourish for a season, but they will wither eventually or turn into something besides a Christian church.” John Piper

“Secularism cannot be blamed on the secularists, many of whom were raised in the church. We are the problem. If most churchgoers cannot tell us anything specific about the God they consider meaningful or explain basic doctrines of creation in God’s image, original sin, the atonement, justification, sanctification, the means of grace, or the hope of glory, then the blame can hardly be placed at the feet of secular humanists.” Michael Horton

“If we go astray in our doctrine, eventually our life will go astray as well. You cannot separate what a man believes from what he is. For this reason doctrine is vitally important. Certain people say ignorantly, ‘I do not believe in doctrine; I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ; I am saved, I am a Christian, and nothing else matters.’ To speak in that way is to court disaster, and for this reason, the New Testament itself warns us against this very danger. We are to guard ourselves against being ‘tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine’, for if your doctrine goes astray your life will soon suffer as well. So it behoves us to study the doctrines in order that we may safeguard ourselves against certain erroneous and heretical teachings that are as rife and as common in the world today as they were in the days of the early Church.” Martyn Lloyd-Jones

“I am convinced that there is an urgent need in the church today for much greater understanding of Christian doctrine, or systematic theology. Not only pastors and teachers need to understand theology in greater depth – the WHOLE CHURCH does as well. One day by God’s grace we may have churches full of Christians who can discuss, apply and LIVE the doctrinal teachings of the Bible as readily as they can discuss the details of their own jobs or hobbies – or the fortunes of their favorite sports team or television program.” Wayne Grudem