What’s Wrong With Progressive Christianity?


Progressive Christianity
We may all be aware, at least to some extent, of misleading and unbiblical movements swarming over the Church today, including Prosperity Teaching (Word of Faith) and NAR (New Apostolic Reformation) but fewer have considered the movement loosely called “Progressive Christianity”.

The video I want to share with you is an hour long but is very much worth your while setting aside time to view it. The speakers clearly and with much evidence and personal experience show what is being taught, and show why it’s affecting new converts as well as older Christians.

The bottom line is this: it is a teaching that so downplays the need for salvation, and so removes faith in Jesus, the bible and the work of the Cross, that it amounts to a 21st century heresy. Continue reading

Jesus in the Old Testament


jesus in old testament

If you do not believe that I AM (he) you will die in your sins [John 8:24]

The Gospel of John is unique in many ways, but from its very first verse it seems determined to prove both the deity and pre-existence of Jesus Christ.

To his original Jewish hearers, and perhaps even to us today, the idea that the appearances of God throughout the Old Testament were in fact Jesus Christ were hard to fathom.

Yet, scripture proves the truth of his words. Continue reading

The Days of Noah, Lot and Today


Remember Lot's WifeJesus referred to two events to illustrate the condition of the world just before his return: Noah’s flood and the destruction of Sodom in Lot’s day. What are the similarities, and what can we learn for ourselves about these events?

As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. [Matthew 24:37-39] Continue reading

We Are All Alike


Today I read a news report that totally sickened and disgusted me. Having said that, it’s not an unusual circumstance these days! However, the report affected me so badly that I cried out to the Lord, “what sort of person DOES that??

I’m not going to spell out in detail what this twisted individual did, because it’s not appropriate, apart from giving an illustration of what I mean.

Just take it from me, this person is the worst of the worst – selfish, psychotic, murderous, depraved, cruel – and if you really want to know the details you can look them up for yourself here. (However, the point of this blog post is not the actions of this person, as you will see as you read on.) Continue reading

Overcoming Doubts


Are you ever troubled by doubts? Do you ever puzzle over unanswered prayer, or events that just don’t seem to add up?

I haven’t been a regular doubter in my Christian life, thankfully. I seem to possess an ability to accept things in an almost childlike way, without constantly asking why or needing proof. Continue reading

Atonement or Ransom?


There’s nothing that brings out the theological nerd in me more than unpicking the true meaning of a word in scripture, and this one is a doozy! Atonement!

For a start, it’s not really a biblical word, but was coined by the bible translators for a Hebrew word for which they felt there was no near English equivalent.

Continue reading

The Angel Moved The Stone – But Why?


I write on the Saturday of Easter weekend (as the westernised version of events has it) and it is no coincidence I am sure that in my recent re-reading of the gospel of Matthew I arrived today at the final two chapters, the account of the trial, crucifixion and resurrection of the Son of God.

As always, the bible text itself corrects so many popular bible myths that have been introduced over the centuries. We must not base our beliefs on myths or religious paintings, but the word of God.

Continue reading

The Empty Chalkboard


 

You lie awake, tossing and turning, night after night the same;
Blaming yourself, but more so, those who are really to blame:
What they said and did to you, how cruel, mean and heartless,
Leaving you angry, sad, despairing, frustrated and totally hopeless.

Listing the slights and injuries they committed without shame once,
Against the meek and vulnerable, who bore it with all patience,
How they cut you deep inside, a trauma that cannot be healed,
Brooding pain and anger about raw wounds you have concealed. Continue reading

The Matthew 24 Rapture Dilemma


The description of the endtimes in Matthew 24 has become a focus of attention in past months. It has been used to show the differences between the Rapture and the Second Coming.  

However it’s also been used to eliminate the Rapture and even the Church entirely from what Jesus said.

Some deny that Jesus was talking to Christians at all. They see no correlation between Matthew 24 and the Book of Revelation, and fix all the events Jesus mentioned during what they claim will be seven years of Tribulation. Although these beliefs are commonplace, are they actually supported by the bible text itself?

In Matthew 24 Jesus answered three questions asked by the disciples:

  1. When will the Temple be destroyed, no stone being left upon another
  2. What are the signs that you are coming back for us?
  3. What are the signs of the End and Final Judgement, and the setting-up of the earthly kingdom?

Continue reading

The Ten Days


ten daysWhat is the significance of the “ten days” mentioned in scripture? In particular, there is a rather mysterious mention of ten days of tribulation in Revelation 2:10. Nothing in scripture is purely arbitrary  or random so I have looked into what the ten days means.

Some hints in the Old Testament

The price of REDEMPTION was TEN gerahs,  half a shekel (Exo 30:12-16). This sum was the Atonement price for each individual, given to the Temple. Continue reading

Nailing My Rapture Colours To The Mast


The RaptureI am reluctantly joining the current pre-trib debate. I have hesitated very much in writing about this, as I know that most have already hardened into one side or the other, and I refuse to engage in pointless debate.

But after prayer, I read this [about a different topic] on a post to my Facebook “It is love to warn someone of deception and falsehood. It is a believer’s obligation if you know the truth to warn a brother or sister of deception and of wolves in sheep’s clothing. To say nothing at all is to not care about that person’s soul.” 

So I am going to post this, because I believe the time is right.

I’ve been noticing an escalation in the age-old rapture debate with people taking sides on what at first glance seems a trivial and even minor doctrine of scripture, compared to everything else in the gospel.

And the endless debate isn’t even about the FACT of the rapture, but its TIMING.

Now it’s getting even more unworthy of the Body of Christ, with some calling others heretics, and breaking fellowship, and even saying that anyone who doesn’t believe the classic pre-seven-year theory is ignorant, stupid, apathetic, backslidden or “will be left behind to suffer God’s wrath”. Where does such thinking and talking come from? It’s not from God!

I haven’t made the rapture timing a focus of my writings, because there are more important and less divisive things that need to be said. I hate confrontation and I am grieved by pointless sniping at the jots and tittles of doctrine. Didn’t God warn us against debating over words for no particular reason?

The Church started arguing over the rapture almost from day one! And how are we to respond? Let’s see what the bible commands….

[Please go to my website to read the remainder of this article. Click on the link.]

Jesus is God


Moses_bushIt may seem like I’m stating the obvious, but Jesus is God, both in the Old and New Testaments.

Recently I was almost shocked to perceive this in the words of Jesus, something I had known well but had not properly understood.

In debate with his countrymen, that is, law-abiding Jews who asked Jesus for proof of his status, Jesus replied with statements that would have shaken them to the core. So astounding was his statement that even today we have trouble grasping it: Jesus is the Old Testament God to whom Israel had always prayed. Continue reading

The Question of Obedience


told-offMuch is said of grace, but little of service! We rejoice in love, mercy and forgiveness, we delight in the blessings and privileges of knowing God, but some of us hold back from a commitment to obey.

Obeying God isn’t optional! How many of us enjoy being Christian up to the point of being commanded to do something that our flesh dislikes? How many of us think there’s a middle way between total commitment to God’s service, and throwing off the yoke entirely – a middle way that suits us, because we only serve God when we feel like it? But the rest of the time we feel free to do pretty-much as we please.

It’s a shock for many Christians to find out they are SERVANTS (and that word translated from the Greek in the bible is actually SLAVES!). If that comes as somewhat of a shock to you, you’re not alone. Continue reading

Why Half An Hour’s Silence in Heaven?


readingtorahAfter the seventh seal is opened on the scroll in the Book of Revelation, there is “silence in heaven for half an hour”. (Rev 8:1)

So many people have commented on this fact, and there are so many suggestions about its meaning, that it’s bewildering. I too used to ponder on its meaning… until…

I had decided to explore the idea of the Book of Revelation being arranged within the framework of a Jewish Feast, Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement (which seems apt, since the contents of the Book are about the final redemption.) Continue reading

Atheist Confirms the Afterlife


near-death-experienceDo you believe in the afterlife? This is a question many today are asking themselves, and increasingly so as the transitory and insecure nature of this earthly life becomes more apparent.

Some are just ‘hoping for the best’. Some earnestly believe they will continue to exist in some form after their death, but have sentimental ideas about heaven based on fantasy fiction and cartoons.  Continue reading

Drink My Blood – WHY??


breadwineOne night lying awake, my thoughts turned to a bible question. It was about the blood. We know how strict was the Jewish prohibition regarding blood, and how careful they were to avoid drinking or eating blood. It was part of the Law given by God in fact, and of such vital importance that it was almost the only requirement handed down to the Gentile converts. (Acts 15:29).

Nonetheless, Jesus commanded his disciples to drink His blood and eat His flesh!

John 6:53-58
Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood , you have no life in you.Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down from heaven — not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.”

One can only imagine how horrifying it must have sounded to observant Jews when He said that. Many left him at that time. He said a similar thing at the Last Supper when he called the wine his blood and the bread his body and commanded that his followers eat and drink them with that meaning. Continue reading

2012: Year of Foolish Predictions


2012 with its End-of-the-World prophecies based on the Mayan Calendar looks set to be the “Year of Predictions” in the Church as well.

Excitement is growing about the Coming of the Lord. This is no surprise but unfortunately has led to a rash of foolish date-setting that only heaps ridicule on Christians in general.

It also teaches the world not to listen when Christians speak about the Endtimes. We have “cried wolf” once too often.
Continue reading

Trinity teaches us about God AND ourselves!


The Trinity is a subject hotly debated and still mysterious. We understand from scripture that God exists in three persons, and these persons at times act and move in independent ways, yet they are in perfect coordination and unity.

In explaining the Trinity with an example drawn from our own experience it both helps us to understand God, and at the same time helps us see a further important truth: HOW to “walk in the Spirit” as the scriptures demand. Many Christians know the command to walk in the spirit, but really have no idea what it means or how to “do it”. Likewise, many Christians struggle with sin and don’t know how to “be better” and be less sinful. This little analogy may help.

We were created in the image of God. This means we are three united elements: body, soul and spirit. The body contains the personality with its feelings, thoughts and drives (the soul), and the spirit is the inward man who either reaches out to God or denies him.

When the bible speaks of “the flesh” it means more than just physical cells of the body. It’s referring to our natural tendency towards selfishness and gratifying the senses. The body and soul are working together to live out a human life on earth. The spirit starts out quite dormant (the bible uses the term “dead”) until filled with the Spirit of God, and then it’s resurrected to its true function, to know and worship God and to discern his will. And so on.

So these three parts also form a kind of “trinity”.

They do not always work in unity. Sometimes the body is tired, but the spirit wants to pray or speak to somebody. Jesus said “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak”. There are differences of activities within these three parts of a human being. Maybe the soul wants to party but the spirit says, hold back. The flesh wants to eat but the soul commands it “you will get overweight, so restrain yourself”.

We can now see more clearly the Trinity, the Godhead. Apart from sin, the “tripartate” nature of God is like a person’s soul spirit and body. God is the Eternal Father on the Throne, also the incarnated Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Each of these is equally God, just as we are not divided – we are not three people living in a body, but ONE person!

At times, the three-ness of God was revealed through unity, and sometimes through different persons. Jesus prayed always that he might be brought into unity and conformity with God the Father, and he did nothing but what he perceived his Father doing.

When Jesus ascended he sent the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of Christ and the Spirit of God, both terms are used in scripture) to be “another helper” to be ALL that Jesus was to his disciples and more. When we receive God, we receive “The Son” and we receive the “Spirit of the Father” and the “Holy Spirit” and we receive “The Father” – there is no disagreement here, it’s all one and the same.

But Jesus on earth could be tempted to step outside of perfect oneness with the Father (the wilderness temptation and the Garden of Gethsemane). He could act independently of his Father, yet he chose to submit himself to Him.

That’s our clue to “walking in the spirit”. The “flesh” – body and soul – wants to be better, and sets out to change things. That’s a fundamental mistake! So many people, including Christians, think they have to clean up their own act and struggle to be a better person. Yet using only the body and soul to TRY just exaggerates the problem: being out of harmony with God in the Spirit.

Each time you exercise your flesh to “try harder” you are drowning out the voice of the Spirit and becoming less able to surrender to its commands. Whether or not the flesh is being evil or good, it’s still the flesh and really of no use to God UNLESS it’s in conformity and unity with the Spirit.

Just as Jesus never went outside his Father’s will or command or power, never acting in his own nature, so WE – like miniature trinities – have the task of bringing our personalities and wills into submission to the voice of the Spirit. THAT alone is the way of victory, peace, wisdom and ability.

We have to align in harmony with the Spirit and let God be the conductor of our human symphony. No “instrument” of ours can play its own independent tune.

One last illustration. I played a computer game where one task was manipulating three separate knobs to adjust a sound wave into perfect harmony with the given “key” wave. The frequency and tone of my wave had to be modulated so that eventually the sound was a perfect harmony, not discord. When perfect harmony was achieved the task was completed.

I see my soul and flesh like two parts of my human “soundwave”. God’s beautiful key tone within my spirit can be heard, and my only task is to conform myself to it, to bring myself into harmony with God. Then HIS nature will sound out, not mine!

“Love Wins” book questions existence of Hell


Is There Anything Wrong With Rob Bell’s Gospel? 

Book Report by J. Lee Grady.

The popular author’s controversial book  “Love Wins” celebrates God’s love but drifts dangerously into Universalism.

I’m usually quick to speak my mind. But in the case of Rob Bell’s controversial book Love Wins, I’ve withheld comment until now because (1) I don’t think Christians should judge books before reading them; (2) the theological issues addressed require careful analysis; and (3) I have many young friends who are fans of Bell’s books, and they may write me off if I don’t treat him fairly.

So I’ll begin with a compliment. Bell is a masterful writer whose prose is poetic. As pastor of the 7,000-member Mars Hill Bible Church in Michigan, Bell has gained a following because of his casual style, his ultra-cool Nooma videos and the previous books he’s released with Christian publisher Zondervan (especially Velvet Elvis).

Bell’s core theme is that Christians have been too narrow in their view of God and His mercy. He argues that God loves people too much to banish them to hell. In the end, he says, after this life is over, everybody will find ultimate reconciliation in Christ.”

With Love Wins, he’s taking his message mainstream. HarperCollins published it, and Time magazine featured a cover story in April about the firestorm Bell has triggered among conservative Christian leaders who have accused him of heresy. So what’s all the fuss about?

Bell’s core theme is that Christians have been too narrow in their view of God and His mercy. He argues that God loves people too much to banish them to hell. In the end, he says, after this life is over, everybody will find ultimate reconciliation in Christ. Bell claims this is what the Bible teaches, and he suggests that Christian theologians have promoted the idea for centuries.

He writes: “At the center of the Christian tradition … have been a number who insist that history is not tragic, hell is not forever and love, in the end, wins and all will be reconciled to God.”

That sounds a lot like Universalism, the idea that all spiritual paths ultimately lead to heaven. But pinning the Universalist label on Bell isn’t easy because he doesn’t write authoritatively. He muses, hints, speculates and suggests his views, so not to offend. Rather than preach with conviction, he invites his readers to a “conversation.” It feels friendly and non-confrontational.

Near the end of the book Bell sounds solidly evangelical when he emphasizes that people must receive the grace God has offered to us. But he sounds more like Oprah when he asks: “Has God created millions of people over tens of thousands of years who are going to spend eternity in anguish? Can God do this, or even allow this, and claim to be a loving God?”

I can appreciate Bell’s desire to distance himself from the mean-spirited side of American fundamentalism. Young people today are horrified (so am I) by self-righteous, Bible-toting believers who burn Qurans or spew hatred toward immigrants or homosexuals. Bell despises the “turn or burn” attitude that has made Christians look judgmental. He also believes we’ve trivialized salvation by turning conversion into a formulaic prayer, and by focusing the Christian life on the idea of “getting into heaven.” I agree with him on those points.

But Bell is also guilty of trivializing salvation. He writes about an ooey-gooey God of love but leaves out God’s justice and holiness. His gospel, at times, sounds squishy and spineless. You can’t correct the abuses of fundamentalism by disregarding the severe side of God’s nature. You can’t bring balance by swinging the pendulum too far the other way.

Because of Bell’s popularity, Love Wins could steer the American church into dangerous waters. You can ignore the book if you want, but you can’t ignore the fact that younger Christians are turned off by certain attitudes in the church, and they need solid answers. We must address the key doctrinal issues that Bell raises:

1. The reality of hell. Bell downplays Scriptural support for the existence of hell while admitting that Jesus talked about it more than anyone in the New Testament. At times he suggests that hell is just a state of mind, or maybe a manifestation of evil on earth. He also questions whether God would send anyone to hell since He’s so forgiving.

Yet when the apostle Paul preached the gospel he warned of “the judgment to come” (Acts 24:25, NASB). The essence of the gospel is that Jesus came to save us from eternal separation from God. Don’t we still believe this?

2. The exclusivity of Christianity. Bell makes a strong case that Jesus died to reconcile all people to God, but then he suggests that not everyone will realize it was Jesus they were praying to. The inference is that Muslims, Hindus or Buddhists will show up in heaven since they were responding to a divine impulse they didn’t understand.

If that’s true, why did Jesus Himself say the road to salvation was exclusively narrow and the road to destruction was wide? (see Matt. 7:13-14). Why did He command us to take the message of salvation to the nations? Why did the early apostles preach that salvation was only in His name? Were they narrow-minded fundamentalists too?

3. The necessity of evangelism. Bell comes close to ridiculing Christians who share their faith, and he wonders if it’s really necessary for missionaries to share the gospel abroad. He asks: “If our salvation … is dependent on others bringing the message to us–teaching us, showing us–what happens if they don’t do their part? What if the missionary gets a flat tire?”

I’m sure Bell gets laughs when he repeats that line in a sermon. But it’s really not funny. He’s suggesting that there’s no urgency about preaching the gospel, and that lives aren’t at stake when we ignore our responsibility to evangelize. Tell that to the apostle Paul, who wasn’t laughing when he said he felt an overwhelming obligation to preach so he could save sinners (see Rom. 1:14).

Bell says he asked Jesus into his heart when he was a child, so I’m treating him as a brother in Christ. I’m not picking a fight with him. But I can’t endorse Love Wins. The doctrines of heaven, hell, salvation and damnation are too serious to be treated haphazardly. May the Lord help us to reclaim a truly New Testament gospel in an hour of spiritual compromise.

J. Lee Grady is contributing editor of Charisma. You can follow him on Twitter at leegrady. His most recent book is 10 Lies Men Believe (Charisma House).

Subscribe to this newsletter here.

What’s Going in YOUR Box?


Recently I’ve been thinking about the preparations we are all now making for the coming of the Lord. (At least, those of us who are aware of it!)

I liken it to this: a family know they are going to move house. Maybe not this week, nor next week, but soon and they have to make a start on the sorting and packing. They are down-sizing so not everything can be included, and the children have a LOT of toys and stuffed animals so something has to be sacrificed.

They hand the children a box each and say, “put in there ONLY what you absolutely need. You can only take the essentials. You’ll have to be brave and leave a lot of things behind!” This is like our preparations for the End. We have all – during this time of peace and prosperity – developed lives full of inessential clutter, and I don’t mean just material possessions. Actually, it’s the spiritual clutter that slows us down the most.

Now the time has come to sort through our lives and think “what do I actually NEED?”. We can allow ourselves plenty of  “things” while we sit at home in our large house, but when God begins to move we have to follow and then anything too big or cumbersome will just be a hindrance.

The Israelites found this out when they came from a settled way of life in Egypt into a dry wilderness. They were led by God who showed himself as a pillar of smoke by day and fire by night. Whenever the pillar moved on, the Israelites had to pack up and move. Imagine if you’d just got the tent the way you liked it, added a few shelves, arranged the food alphabetically in rows, plumped up the skins that you sat on, made a roaring fire and had just set the pan of water on it to have a nice hot drink (or whatever – excuse me but I have no idea what they’d do, so bear with me). As you lay back and sigh, contemplating a relaxing afternoon, you see through the tent door the pillar of smoke moving away. ARGHH. Now you have to hurry and pack everything up again!

How much better it would have been to be “always at the ready” as Jesus warned. He said we should be waiting for him like people about to go on a journey, ready-clothed, hat and coat on, bag slung round your shoulder, spare toothbrush in your pocket and you don’t need to rush down to the bank to draw out some cash. Don’t get too settled is my point. Travel light. If there’s anything in your “tent” that is going to cause a delay, get rid of it, that’s my advice.

Going back to the those boxes – what will you put in yours? If you don’t really need it, ditch it!