Sunday, December 4, 2011
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
"Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 KJV
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Monday, October 24, 2011
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Friday, September 16, 2011
Heresy is defined in number of different ways. Many of the common usages of the term heresy leads to a great misunderstanding of its original intent. It is important that we properly define heresy so that we can understand it from its biblical context. For the Christian, understanding it within its scriptural context is imperative.
First of all, heresy does not carry an inherent negative connotation. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia says, “In classical Greek, it may be used either in a good or a bad sense, first, simply for “choice,” then, “a chosen course of procedure,” and afterward of various schools and tendencies.” It also goes on to say, “Polybius refers to those devoting themselves to the study of Greek literature as given to the Hellenikḗ haı́resiš. It was used not simply for a teaching or a course followed, but also for those devoting themselves to such pursuit, namely, a sect, or assembly of those advocating a particular doctrine or mode of life.”
So, heresy is not a dirty word. In its base form it simply refers to those who advocate a particular doctrine or creed. Vincent says, “The word is commonly used in an indifferent sense, as signifying merely a school or party.” Concerning the neutral nature of the word heresy Albert Barnes says it is, “not error of doctrine,” but, “producing division or schism.” Heresy is division: sometimes it is caused by false doctrine, but sometimes it is caused by true doctrine; in either case it is heresy.
Thayer defines heresy as, “dissensions arising from diversity of opinions and aims,” and, “4) a body of men following their own tenets (sect or party) 4a) of the Sadducees 4b) of the Pharisees 4c) of the Christians.” Scripture defines heretics as those who “draw away disciples” (Acts 20:30).
The term heresy is translated by the KJV in the book of Acts as, "sect." There was the sect of the Sadducees (Acts 5:17), the sect of the Pharisees (Acts 15:5; 26:5), the sect of the Nazarenes (Acts 24:5) and the sect of the Christians (Acts 28:22; 24:14). Each of these sects are heresies.
While heresy can refer to a sect that causes division by false doctrine, heresy does not inherently include false doctrine. There are good heresies. Christianity is a heresy, because Christianity is divisive. As the founder of this heresy/sect, Jesus was a heretic; as preachers of this heresy, the Apostles were heretics; as followers of Christ, Christians are heretics. The Apostle Paul gladly accepts the label of heresy.
“But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets:” Acts 24:14 KJV
Some may argue that Paul is not accepting the label of heretic, he is only saying that “they call” it heresy. Just because “they” say it does not mean that it is not true. Christianity was the ultimate example of a heresy, or sect. Jamieson, Fausset and Brown makes the point that Paul is arguing that his new Christianity is a continuation of, and more fully expresses the worship of his ancestors, therefore it is just a different sect of worshipping the one God of his fathers:
“Two arguments are contained here: (1) Our nation is divided into what they call sects - the sect of the Pharisees, and that of the Sadducees - all the difference between them and me is, that I belong to neither of these, but to another sect, or religious section of the nation, which from its Head they call Nazarenes: for this reason, and this alone, am I hated. (2) The Roman law allows every nation to worship its own deities; I claim protection under that law, worshipping the God of my ancestors, even as they, only of a different sect of the common religion.”
Further proof that Paul accepts that he is part of a heresy is in his statement, “I confess” (Acts 24:14). What is he confessing to? He is confessing to the charge that he was “a ringleader in the heresy of the Nazarenes” (Acts 24:5). He plainly confesses that he is a part of the Nazarene heresy, or sect.
“The only charge left was that of being a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. This Paul frankly confesses is true. He uses the word in its full sense. He is “guilty” of that.”
“he admits that he belonged to that sect or class of people. That he was a Christian he neither denied, nor was disposed to deny.”
Christianity is heresy, or source of division, that is a good heresy. But, there are also bad heresies; there are things that cause division within the body of Christ. Heresy is a bad thing when men use their opinions as a tool to segregate from the rest of the body in matters where charity expects tolerance. Heresies, or sects, can be formed over doctrines or personalities that are acceptable.
Heresy is Corinth dividing over Paul, Apollos, Cephas (Peter) and Christ (1 Corinthians 1:12). You had the Paulian heresy/sect; the Apollonian heresy/sect; the Kephian heresy/sect; and the Christian heresy/sect. There is nothing wrong with Paul, Apollos, Cephas or Christ, but when it becomes a tool to divide the body of Christ, it becomes a heresy.
Heresy is Corinth excluding their fellow Christians over eating meats sacrificed to idols (1 Corinthians 8 & 10). It is perfectly acceptable to either eat, or not eat (Romans 14:6, 21-22; 1 Corinthians 10:31); however, it becomes a heresy when you eat or do not eat to the division of the body of Christ (Romans 14:3).
Based on these briefly alluded to texts, allow me to define heresy. Heresy: "When one side of Christian liberty creates Christian law to the exclusion of the other side of Christian liberty." A heretic is sometimes the person, who based on a permissible concept, isolates himself and his followers into their own sect that judges the rest of the body of Christ. Proverbs describes the heretic perfectly:
“Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment. 2 A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” Proverbs 18:1-2 ESV
THE SPIRIT OF HERESY
Proverbs 18:1-2 perfectly identifies the spirit of the heretic. It is not about doctrine, it is about self-promotion. Who better embodies this spirit than Diotrephes?
“I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. 10 Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.” 3 John 1:9-10 KJV
Heresy is not about doctrine, it is about preeminence!
This is a very short look at what could be a long topic. I hope that this allows you to look at heresy with a fresh perspective. Please feel free to comment.
 International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Retrieved from E-Sword 09.04.11
 Vincent’s Word Studies, Retrieved from E-Sword 09.04.11
 Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, Retrieved from E-Sword 09.04.11
 Henry, Joseph H., Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon, Retrieved from E-Sword 09.04.11
 Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary, Retrieved from E-Sword 09.04.11
 Robertson’s Word Pictures, Retrieved from E-Sword 09.04.11
 Albert Barnes Notes on the Bible, Retrieved from E-Sword 09.04.11
 Thank you Shane Cheek for the reference to the ESV on this text.
Monday, September 12, 2011
These are the two necessary compenents of successfully passing truth. We are ineffective as preachers if we err to one side to the exclusion of the other. We all have a tendency to one side or the other. Which ever of these two aspects of leadership we lack we must prayerfully ask God to give us grace to produce it.
- To err to the side of commanding makes one a dictator.
- To err to the side of commanding is lazy; it is much easier, but it puts truth in noones heart. A person who is only commanded, but not taught, will soon rebel.
- Erring to the side of commanding will quickley get you external compliance, but will never produce interal faith.
- Erring to the side of commanding will produce fear of man, but never faith in God.
- Erring to the side of commanding will compliment the preachers image, but will not conform to Christ's image.
By this I mean the tendancy of some to say, "My job is to just teach. It is then left up to them to comply." While I agree this is the approach to some, however it cannot be the approach to all. A true leader will insist that at least his leaders comply. You cannot have a strong church when everything is optional, and nothing is absolute.
- Erring to the side of only teaching is cowardice.
- Erring to the side of only teaching will never produce responsible leaders.
- Erring to the side of only teaching will never produce a faithful foundation.
- Erring to the side of only teaching will produce crowds, but not disciples.
COMMAND OR TEACH
I must also point out that some things are meant to be taught and some are meant to be commanded. God give us the discernment to know the difference.
- We are to teach what concerns Christian liberty.
- We are to command and teach what concerns Christian doctrine.
We need ministries that have grace and strength to command and teach, and to know when to do what.
Friday, August 26, 2011
As Christians we do not claim moral superiority to our non- believing friends. In fact, we claim just the opposite. Our Christianity confesses that we are frail and flawed; all the while confessing that there is hope in Jesus Christ.
We confess to the world our solidarity with their moral plight: "We are men of like passions as ye are." We struggle with the same issues you struggle with. We have the same sexual, ethical and moral temptations that you have; however, we have two very different philosophical interpretations of sin.
The non-believer views his temptations as validation for his depravity; "this is who I am." The Christian says: my temptation is pulling me toward who I am in fallen Adam, but the gospel declares who I was created to be in Christ from before the foundation of the world.
That is the reason that I must be born again. My first birth puts me in fallen Adam, but the second birth puts me in the risen Christ. Some say, "I cannot change the way I was born.". It is true that you cannot, but through the Gospel you can have a new birth, and become a new creation in Christ.
So my church attendance is not a declaration of perfection, but a declaration of my need of a Savior. Often non-believers, under the guise of seeking to discredit Christianity, when they observe our flawed humanity mock saying, "you are supposed to be a Christian." Our response is: No, I am a Christian, and the failure you just observed is why I am. I refuse to accept my weakness as terminal.
In reality they are not seeking to discredit Christianity, they are seeking to justify, and therefore accept their own depravity. The good news is, you don't have to settle, the gospel still works.
Monday, August 22, 2011
Luther: "The prince of this world does not permit the laws of the Pope and his pontiffs to be kept in liberty; his intention is to entangle and bind consciences... as for your fear that persons of vicious inclination will abuse this liberty, this must be thought of as one of the disturbances aforementioned, part of the temporal leprosy that we must bear and the malady that we must endure. But it must not be held so important as to warrant the removal of the Word of God in order to restrain their abuse of it. "
The Bondage of the Will, pg. 93-94, 96
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
From John Stott’s book, Christ the Controversialist (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1970).
On what Christians should do when they disagree with each other:
The proper activity of professing Christians who disagree with one another is neither to ignore, nor to conceal, nor even to minimize their differences, but to debate them. (p. 22)
On why we should speak the truth in love, not being truthless in love or loveless in truth:
We seem in our generation to have moved a long way from this vehement zeal for the truth which Christ and his apostles displayed. But if we loved the glory of God more, and if we cared more for the eternal good of the souls of men, we would not refuse to engage in necessary controversy, when the truth of the gospel is at stake. The apostolic command is clear. We are “to maintain the truth in love,” being neither truthless in our love, nor loveless in our truth, but holding the two in balance. (p. 19)
On the difference between a “tolerant mind” and a “tolerant spirit”:
We need to distinguish between the tolerant mind and the tolerant spirit. Tolerant in spirit a Christian should always be, loving, understanding, forgiving and forbearing others, making allowances for them, and giving them the benefit of the doubt, for true love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” [1 Cor. 13:7]. But how can we be tolerant in mind of what God has plainly revealed to be either evil or erroneous? (p. 8)
I think Stott would have liked something G. K. Chesterton once said: ““The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid” (The Autobiography, vol. 16 of The Collected Works of G. K. Chesterton [San Francisco: Ignatius, 1988], 212).
Monday, August 8, 2011
Thursday, August 4, 2011
Of the many debatable aspects of marriage, one of the most hotly debated is when a person is fully married: 1. Covenant only? 2. Sexual union only? 3. Covenant and sexual union? I will contend for the third view. The marriage is not confirmed until the couple has been united.
There are two reasons why I do not believe that covenant alone constitutes marriage: 1. If covenant alone constitutes marriage, the bible would not have made a distinction between espousal and marriage. 2. There would have been no need for the “evidence of virginity,” or for the man and the women to “come together” as “one flesh.” This dual view of what constitutes a marriage is consistent in both the Old and New Testaments.
The view that marriage is covenant only has no biblical support. It was at betrothal/espousal that the two parties entered covenant; however, the bible makes a clear distinction between espousal and marriage. The bible does use the term wife in reference to the betrothed or espoused; however, there is a difference between the espoused wife and the married wife. The terms married and betrothed/espoused are not synonymous. Married never refers to betrothal/espousal. Covenant only, is espousal, not marriage.
Consummation or sexual union only is fornication, because it is outside of covenant. While marriage is not covenant only, covenant is an essential part of marriage. The New Testament term for sexual union is “one flesh,” and is fornication outside of marriage.
COVENANT AND CONSUMMATION:
As we have seen: covenant only is espousal only, and not marriage; but consummation only is fornication, not marriage. So, we are going to show in this section that both covenant and consummation is what constitutes a marriage.
In the taking of Rebekah to be Isaac’s wife, she was covenanted to be his wife in Genesis 24:50-51; she received her dowry in Genesis 24:53; yet she did not become his wife until he took her into the tent (Genesis 24:67). John Gill says it was in the tent that Isaac, “consummated the marriage, first contracted by his servant, then confirmed by himself, and now finished:” So, sexual union was necessary to consummate and confirm the covenant.
In the case of Joseph and marry we find this distinction between the covenanted espoused wife, and the consummated married wife. Joseph was her “husband,” and she was his “wife,” because they had entered the legally binding covenant of espousal/betrothal. Yet, they were not married, because they had not “came together” as one flesh, and Joseph “knew here not.”
It should be abundantly clear that it takes both covenant and consummation to fully confirm a marriage. All it takes is a cursory reading of Deuteronomy 22 to see that until the marriage has been sexually consummated that the covenant has not been confirmed.
 Sexual union
 Deuteronomy 22:13-21 ESV: “If any man takes a wife and goes in to her and then hates her 14 and accuses her of misconduct and brings a bad name upon her, saying, 'I took this woman, and when I came near her, I did not find in her evidence of virginity,' 15 then the father of the young woman and her mother shall take and bring out the evidence of her virginity to the elders of the city in the gate. 16 And the father of the young woman shall say to the elders, 'I gave my daughter to this man to marry, and he hates her; 17 and behold, he has accused her of misconduct, saying, "I did not find in your daughter evidence of virginity." And yet this is the evidence of my daughter's virginity.' And they shall spread the cloak before the elders of the city. 18 Then the elders of that city shall take the man and whip him, 19 and they shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver and give them to the father of the young woman, because he has brought a bad name upon a virgin of Israel. And she shall be his wife. He may not divorce her all his days. 20 But if the thing is true, that evidence of virginity was not found in the young woman, 21 then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones, because she has done an outrageous thing in Israel by whoring in her father's house. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.”
 Matthew 1:18 ESV: “Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.”
 Matthew 19:5-6 ESV: “and said, 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
 “Espouse” Easton’s Bible Dictionary, Retrieved from E-Sword 08.04.11: “The espousal was a ceremony of betrothing, a formal agreement between the parties then coming under obligation for the purpose of marriage.”
“Betroth” Easton’s Bible Dictionary, Retrieved from E-Sword 08.04.11: “From the time of betrothal the woman was regarded as the lawful wife of the man to whom she was betrothed (Deu_28:30; Jdg_14:2, Jdg_14:8; Mat_1:18-21).”
 Deuteronomy 24:1 KJV: “When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.” Here in this verse the KJV say, “taken a wife AND married her.”
Deuteronomy 22:22-23 KJV: “If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel. 23 If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her;”
 Matthew 1:18-20 KJV: “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. 20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.”
 Isaiah 54:1 KJV: “Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the LORD.”
 Malachi 2:14 ESV: “But you say, "Why does he not?" Because the LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant.”
I want to point out here that marriage is never defined is scripture as a vow. So, it is a false premise when the regulations that the bible places on vows are placed on marriage. Marriage is a covenant, and not a vow. Covenants are conditional.
 1 Corinthians 6:16-18 KJV: “What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. 17 But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. 18 Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.”
 Genesis 24:50-51 ESV: “Then Laban and Bethuel answered and said, "The thing has come from the LORD; we cannot speak to you bad or good. 51 Behold, Rebekah is before you; take her and go, and let her be the wife of your master's son, as the LORD has spoken."”
 Genesis 24:53 ESV: “And the servant brought out jewelry of silver and of gold, and garments, and gave them to Rebekah. He also gave to her brother and to her mother costly ornaments.”
 Genesis 24:67 ESV: “Then Isaac brought her into the tent of Sarah his mother and took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother's death.”
 Matthew 1:19 ESV: “And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.”
 Matthew 1:20 ESV: “But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.”
 Matthew 1:18 ESV: “Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.”
 Matthew 1:24-25 ESV: “When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.”
 See footnote 2