preachthecross.org Blog

February 26, 2009

You Can’t Lose What You Don’t Have—A response to William Lobdell’s book “Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting On Religion In America”

Filed under: Observations & Perspectives — Administrator @ 2:24 pm

You Can’t Lose What You Don’t Have—A response to William Lobdell’s book “Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting On Religion In America”

Articles like the one on journalist William Lobdell, as well as his book, come at a very prophetic time in human history (Orange County Register; “He’s Un-Born Again”, Front Page, Feb. 24, 2009). His book (which he acknowledges the publisher paid him a “generous” advance to write) tells of his struggle with religion (Episcopalian/Catholic), “born-again faith” (Mariner’s Church), returning to the Catholic Church (which his non-believing wife chose), and the ensuing doubts which ultimately led to his renouncing his “faith” and God.
One of the primary “proofs” of the infallibility of the Bible, God’s Word, is that it foretells history, and has NEVER been wrong (which there is ample secular evidence to support, if anyone cares to do the research, as I have).
In this case, 2 Thessalonians 2:3 foretells that the “last days”—which we are very much in—will be characterized by a great “falling away”. While there will be varying manifestations, it primarily refers to a departure from any sincere reverence or “accurate” faith in God. I say “accurate” in terms of how God defines, and grants, the gift of faith. That’s right; true, Biblical faith is a gift from God which he grants according to the both the sincerity and the commitment of one’s heart.
A key aspect of the “falling away” is the shift from a reliance and focus on God (through Jesus Christ) to reliance and focus on self. Accordingly, “faith” for many people today is something they vainly imagine they have to create, sustain and manage; as evidenced by Mr. Lobdell’s characterization of his having “clung” to his faith as long as he could. This is self-effort and really self-worship. This is NOT Biblical. But it is certainly very religious. And it is precisely what the institutionalized religions he claims to disdain feed on to make them popular, powerful, and materially wealthy.
That said, and with all heartfelt regard to Mr. Lobdell’s predicament, he cannot lose what he never had. He also cannot criticize what he falsely labels. I wholeheartedly share Mr. Lobdell’s criticisms of religion, and religious institutions, along with the error and sacrilege they naturally foster (also forewarned and foretold in the Bible). However, it is wholly disingenuous for Mr. Lobdell, and all others, to pursue a false religion, label it “Christianity” (born-again or otherwise), disobey the Bible they claim to “believe”, and then arrogantly renounce “Christianity” when it “doesn’t work for them”.
Mr. Lobdell’s vanity is evident in his cavalier statement that he “gave Christianity his best shot”. Self focused individuals “give it their best shot”. True believers empty themselves into Christ, trusting completely on His ability and His work; at the Cross, and in the life of each believer.
By simple definition (and simple logic), God is perfect, and CANNOT fail. God never fails anyone. People fail God. More to the point, they fail, or “oppose”, themselves, as Mr. Lobdell has clearly done; something I prayerfully hope he gives the more earnest heed to.
Mark

February 13, 2009

The Falling Away Has Begun

Filed under: Uncategorized — Administrator @ 2:50 pm

Unfortunately, besides a reasoning mind, man also possesses the plague of pride. Pride causes individuals to resent the notion that they may not have a revelation from God that perhaps another person may, in fact, possess (especially where that person is perceived to be of a lesser prominence within a religious environment or church). Pride is the root cause of those individuals to inflate and magnify their own carnal reasonings and worldly wisdom, using an impressive stage and surroundings, a louder microphone and big screen image, material success, and the popularity and praise of men as the “proof” that what they are saying is “truth”. My friends, RUN from such people.
God NEVER looks at the outside, but always at the inside, at a man’s heart, and does so daily.

This is especially true of those exalted, “celebrity” status, so-called “leaders” among the Body of Christ. Since they coveted the “high seats” of the congregation, pursued popularity, trusted in the devices of men, and attained broad visibility, God holds them doubly accountable, and He is less tolerant of their error than the average believer. In a sense, he must “make an example of them” by withdrawing from them His blessings of Spiritual wisdom and Truth. What parent ever rewards their child’s disobedience? Moreover, this is also the manner in which God “puts them on open display” to those with Spiritual discernment, and they become an example to the obedient and faithful of what NOT to do.

Perhaps the most obvious example of this is Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in Southern California. While Waren clearly covets his popularity and the ample praise of worldly men, those who have resisted such temptations and have remained true to the Cross can easily see he has become a blind, pride-filled, bellicose fool. Warren, having cut himself off from God’s favor and Spiritual wisdom, has very obviously gravitated to the temporal–the “here and now” –as is tragically happening to many “popular” religious leaders.

They elevate worldly objectives, emphasize material blessings and, devoid of revelation, they display an increasing reliance on the worldly wisdom and principles of psychology, science, political correctness, marketing, and statistics. A further irony and sad “proof” that they have lost contact with Spiritual wisdom is that the cannot even see how far they have fallen away. They are fulfilling the prophecies of the end times, and the tragic “falling away” of 2 Thessalonians 2:3, and the rise of the false prophet and coming One World religion. Yet they foolishly believe they are bringing about “God’s kingdom on earth”.
Unfortunately, there is no scriptural basis for this whatsoever. Yet they not only do not see it, but they REFUSE to even discuss it.
This is why the most important trait of true believers, and that which this ministry exhorts at all times, is the necessity for vigilance and open examination of all one’s words and deeds to ensure that they line up with all scripture, not just a selected few. The humble rejoice whenever ANY brother or sister cautions another about possible error:

“Reprove not a proud man, lest he hate thee…”; “Correction is grievous to those who have forsaken the way…neither will he go to the wise”; and “…rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee”; “…he that hears and considers reproof is prudent”. Proverbs 9:8, 15:5,10,12

But the proud instead bristle, refuse to hear, silence and marginalize the messenger, and are resentful toward any who dare suggest they are in error. And it doesn’t matter how gentle, or “loving” they say they are, or try to act. What matters is whether or not they are open to hearing the warning or exhortation from others–and not just the comfortable, selected coterie of “inner circle” or “advisors” they surround themselves with.

Another important test is whether or not they are they willing to actually carry out a sincere dialogue and scriptural examination with those who bring them a warning.
Resistance to hear warnings from others, and sincerely engage in discussions about it, of course, leads to a downward spiral whose end is a carnal, dead religious organization which God had long abandoned. He of course never abandons individuals, just the traditions and institutions they collectively create in an effort to “do something big for God”. God knows their hearts, and knows that they really only wanted to do something “big” for themselves. The “big” things to God, however, always relate to the essence and quality of the one-to-one personal relationship he seeks and pursues with each believer.
Regardless of how noble-sounding or “purpose-driven” they may wish to label them, no earthly religious organization, no church, no sprawling campus, no worldwide television ministry, no social aid or relief organization, or any other temporal activities of men will exist in eternity, nor be accounted for anything in the Judgement. Only the Cross, and the Eternal Purpose of God in Christ will matter, and each one individual will have to give account of what they did for THAT ministry of God and Jesus Christ.
“…And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be known by the Church, according to the Eternal Purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Ephesians 3:9-11
All other “purposes” of men are meaningless, and a colossal diversion away from God’s Purpose in the Cross. Mark

February 8, 2009

TEMPORAL vs. ETERNAL; NATURAL vs. SPIRITUAL

Filed under: Observations & Perspectives — Administrator @ 6:01 pm

TEMPORAL vs. ETERNAL, NATURAL vs. SPIRITUAL

“Human eyes have not seen, nor ears heard, neither have entered into the mind of man the things God has prepared and reserved solely for those that love Him. But God has revealed them to us by His Spirit…No one knows the things of an individual to the degree which that individuals knows within and of himself. Likewise, no man knows the things of God, except the Spirit of God…We have received not the things of the world, but from the Spirit which is of God…and not in or through the words or teachings from the reasoning and worldly wisdom of men; rather we compare Spiritual things with Spiritual…but the natural mind of man receives not the things of the Spirit of God…neither can he know them…”

1 Corinthians 2:9-14

Any approach to the study of the scripture is going to fall into one of two categories: temporal or Eternal. As expressed in the above verses, humans can only reason out or deduce the things of God, but cannot truly know them. Deduce means to infer or draw a conclusion based on the knowledge which is readily available and that one possesses. The Bible says Spiritual Truth is not readily available to humans, and that we do not innately possess such knowledge; that is, it must be granted directly from the Spirit of God. God provides such understanding by divine inspiration or revelation; the phenomenon in which God EDUCES an understanding within the heart of a person, meaning establishing an understanding which does NOT draw upon the knowledge and constructs one naturally possesses (the “wisdom of this world”).
Unfortunately, driven by a fallen, prideful nature, the majority of humans persist on deducing the things of God, which is, of course, the reason there are so many contradictory spiritual “truths” about “god” and spiritual things, which, in turn, give rise to so many thousands of “dead” religions in the world. Most tellingly, these religions always reflect the limited, humanistic traits of the adherents rather than anything truly transcendent, eternal or divine.
Furthermore, just because the Spirit grants a Christian believer the gift of understanding in one thing, that revealed information does not give the person the ability, nor the authority, to now reason out the rest of scripture. It is a step by step, gift by gift process. Unfortunately, most Christians obtain a few revelations from the Spirit, then rush ahead and attempt to reason out the rest. That reasoning, or “worldly wisdom” will always be temporal and therefore limited in its essence and spiritual efficacy, and creates what the bible refers to as “leaven”. The Bible warns that even a little leaven in one’s doctrine taints or corrupts all of it (Galatians 5:9).
The end result are ministries and churches which reflect the flawed, shortsighted, and self-centered interests of finite human beings, rather than the infinite and Eternal interests of God. And merely proclaiming they are “doing the work of God”, and referencing selected scriptures, does not make that work divinely inspired or empowered.
On the other hand, the Spirit of God will only and always reveal the meaning of the scriptures in an Eternal, infinite context that is aligned with the Eternal Purposes of the One, True, Living God. The capitalized, superlative word “Eternal” here is used to distinguish it from merely an infinite continuum of time, and refers to the spiritual and infinite nature of God Himself. That is, God inspired every Word of the Bible, and thus every precept of the Word has an Eternal basis and significance.
That basis is what each “believer” must set as their heart’s desire and goal in spiritual growth.

February 4, 2009

About Preach the Cross.org

Filed under: Observations & Perspectives — Administrator @ 5:41 pm

In addition to the unwavering and complete devotion to the preaching of the Cross; Christ and Him crucified–this ministry is very unique in its approach to studying scripture. Scripture commands us to “bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ”; (2 Corinthians 10:5). What is “the obedience of Christ”? Philippians 2:8 tells us it is Christ’s becoming “obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross”. Thus, we are to likewise bring all thoughts about scripture–reading, studying, interpreting, discussing and, most importantly, teaching–captive to; that is, rooted and fixed upon, the Cross.
If one pictures a target; the “bulls eye” is the preaching of the Cross and the complete Work God did there. The concentric rings which move out away from the bullseye are all other contexts, reasonings, perspectives, and opinions on scripture. Not surprisingly, the bullseye is the one central precept which defines True Christianity, and which all Christians agree upon. It is when we allow our minds to wander away from the bullseye in the wilderness of human reasoning that we begin to encounter divisions and strife. It is out there, in the rings, where Satan operates, and where he is able to pervert the scriptures and muddle one’s thinking. Wisdom and discernment are at the bulls eye.
“…But we preach Christ crucified…the power of God, and the wisdom of God” 1 Corinthians 1:23,24
Why do believers leave that “holy place”?
This ministry brings every thought and utterance captive to the obedience of Christ and, as He did also, to the Work of the Cross. What I will be writing about in my postings are some of the foundational precepts and awesome revelations of scripture which arise from the Cross, and which we stand upon, and which we preach in every home, every forum, every church, and from the mountaintops.
Mark

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