Friday, November 29, 2013

Moving Away From The Cross

The idea of Christians moving away from the Cross of Jesus Christ may sound preposterous at first but on closer examination, you will discover that it is perfectly logical and biblical. However, before you light the bonfire over my body, let me emphasize that we are NOT MOVING AWAY FROM THE MESSAGE OF THE CROSS but as believers, we, ourselves, have to move away from the milk and move forward to discipleship and spiritual growth. 

Paul the Apostle said, "I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready." Yes, some are not ready for the meats and they still need to learn the basic elements of salvation.

After we have been justified and saved by our Lord, we should move on and not remain lingering at the Cross. We only stay there when we are still under the Law and need justification. When we say that we are not under the Law then why are we behaving like we are still under its yoke.
We have been saved once and that's it! We are now under Grace. This means that we are totally free from the power of sins. For the first time, we can fight temptation with the power of His grace. We can obey God and do the right things because we have been empowered.

To claim that we have no need to obey God just because Christ is obeying God on our behalf is a belief known as Progressive Justification. This means that we have not been fully justified and that we need Christ's obedience from His death at the Cross till now so as to keep us continually justified. This can only be so if the Law still have power over us. Thus instead of fully enjoying a life of freedom under Grace, we are continuing a life under Law. 

The idea that the brimstones and fire of the Law are still pouring upon us and Christ is our umbrella or covering is an inaccurate one. There is no more onslaught of the Law upon us now. The Law has no more hold upon our lives. Absolutely zero. We have been justified. Period! Why do we still need the continual obedience of Christ to shield us? From what? 

Do we need to cling to the Cross as though we are still depraved and full of sins? We are no longer sinners but children of the Most High God. Should a drowning man still cling to the float after he is already safe onshore?

We have to move on to the process of sanctification. Sanctification has nothing to do with the Gospel but everything to do with the Living Savior and His Holy Spirit. The Gospel is meant for unbelievers but we are already believers. The Gospel shows Christ was crucified for our sins and whomsoever receives His sacrifice will be justified. We have already done that. Then why do we need to go back to the Cross again? 

We preach the Cross to sinners but we preach the living resurrected Savior to believers.We preach justification to those unsaved but sanctification to those who are disciples.

It time for us to move away from the empty Cross to the empty tomb. From the empty tomb to the Upper Room. From the Upper Room to the Public Square. From the Public Square to millions of streets around this world. What message do we carry then? The message of the Cross of course!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Twisting and Double Twisting of Scriptures by Hyper-grace

It's amazing how adherents of Hyper-grace need to re-interpret so many bible verses that are so blatantly easy to understand. They have to twist and double twist to make all of them fit their theology. 

After all these years, they have developed a standard counter-interpretation for anyone who question the validity of their understanding of scriptures. They pride themselves as having the ability to interpret the Bible quite differently from classical interpretation. Some immature adherents even attack all other interpretations as wrong. 

Major portions of the Gospels and the teachings of Christ have been thrown out as irrelevant to believers because these were apparently taught and spoken by Jesus within the context of the Law. For example, the 'Sermon on the Mount' (Matthew 5) has been thrown out because as one adherent told me that if we were to believe that this teaching of Jesus is meant for us to apply, we will all be maimed. Let's check just two of the offending verses and they are found in Matthew 5:29 to 30.

If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

In spite of explaining that Jesus was using hyperbole, this adherent refused to accept that. He said that he was sure Jesus meant it to be literal. Well, what could one say when the obvious was rejected.

No matter how good this Hyper-Grace claims to be, any rejection of the teachings of Jesus Christ should give us a warning bell. 

In fact, another man who called himself a 'grace-based' believer wrote me and asked me to only eat the meat and throw out the bones of Hyper-grace teachings. Honestly, I have been trying to do that for a long time. However, it is almost impossible because their fundamental theology is so shaky.

In spite of the truth that the 'Lamb was slain before the foundation' their teacher has taught them, the New Covenant only begun after the Cross. So any teachings before the Cross should be suspected unless they have been specially referred to by post-Calvary writers. 

Another unwritten rule is that no scripture can be interpreted except through the lens of the Hyper- grace camp. Even ordinary words that contradict the theology of Hyper-grace must be given the 'right' meanings. Stories of people who left the faith or being killed by the Holy Spirit are to be rejected as being punishments for the believers. No believer will ever be punished. Ananias and Sapphira could be believers since the Holy Spirit killed them. ( Acts 5) What about Demas?

Reading a blog by one of these adherents, I could see a split image of the preacher in this blogger. He has memorized the Hyper- grace doctrines well and also the standard arguments used against biblical grace. For example, in defense of the non- repentance belief, he actually says that all the scriptures that admonish believers to repent are for unbelievers. The corrections and strong admonitions given by Paul and James are for unbelievers.

This blogger echoes his teacher well and says that the words 'repent' and 'convict' in the Greek have different meanings. 'Repent' to him means simply 'changing your mind' and 'convict' means 'convince'. In fact, this man says that 'convict' has the same meaning as 'condemn'. No wonder he is so afraid of the word, 'convict'. All English speakers know that these two words must be read within their contexts. In fact all words should be interpreted likewise.

When pointed out that Jesus actually rebuked churches in the Book of Revelation, the man says that most likely the rebukes are also meant for unbelievers. How can one even reason with such type of reasoning?

There is no talk about personal holiness. The concept is that God is only pleased with Christ and nothing that we do can add to pleasing Him or displeasing Him. The truth is that the underlying theology of Hyper-grace is faulty because whether they know it or not, they believe that believers are still depraved... even after being justified by faith.

All our obedience or disobedience does not mean a thing to God because only the obedience of Christ is acceptable. The idea beneath why they accept this is because they believer that all believers are somehow still under the Law. They need Christ to obey for them as they are too depraved to be able to obey.

That's not what the Bible says. After salvation, we are no longer under the Law. God therefore does not judge us under the Law. We have entered into relationship with the living God. Christ, through His one- time sacrifice on the Cross has opened this great door of reconciliation between God and Man.

Now, in this new relationship, we can please God and we can also displease God by our behaviors and attitudes. He rewards us when we please Him and reprimands us when we displease Him. That is why the scripture says that to whom He loves, He chastises. He does not leave us alone in this relationship. Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us. The Holy Spirit works within us so that we grow to become more pleasing to God. It's a relational type of pleasing and not to be confused with Christ pleasing God by His obedience and death for us on the Cross.

There is something very strange about this Hyper-grace people. They are very defensive and almost hostile. They really get very upset when confronted with the possibility that their interpretation of the scriptures may be inaccurate. Read their blogs and FB remarks and you will understand what I mean.

And they who claim to have more grace are the least gracious of any groups of Christians (or cultivate groups) that we have ever encountered. When we disagree with their interpretations, we are called 'Pharisees' and ' Legalists' etc. One guy attacks me on FB and challenged me with the question, "Who do you think you are?" He then went on with insulting words that are not fit to repeat.

All I can say is that most adherents of Hyper-grace have confused The Finished Work of Christ in Justification with the Work of the Holy Spirit in Sanctification. We believe that Christ alone provided us with salvation through Justification. No one can add anything to the finished work of Christ. We were saved not by works or our own righteousness. It's Christ and Christ alone. God accepted us as who we were during salvation. We have been justified and declared as positionally righteous in the sight of God. Then the next step is for the Holy Spirit to work within us so that we will become more like Christ. The grace of salvation and the grace of transformation are two different aspects of the grace and mercy of God. Justification and Sanctification are thus not the same thing.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Connoisseur of Churches

One extremely devious scheme of the devil is to get a Christian to attend different churches every Sunday. He causes the believer to become unhappy with all the churches that the latter attends. With this justified excuse of the lack of joy and satisfaction, the old serpent sends the believer all over the city, looking for an ideal church that will ‘suit’ him.

Years will pass by and still no ideal church. The immature Christian will spend his whole life tasting and trying out churches without having the joy of becoming a part of a local congregation and growing spiritually. 

As the man grows older, he may even imagine himself to be a connoisseur of churches. Since rolling stone gathers no moss, this potential disciple of Christ is not able to receive proper spiritual nourishment and grow properly. Neither can he contribute consistently to the kingdom of God.

The worst scenario is that after having been to almost every church in the city, the believer may consider himself to be an experienced disciple cum accomplished church critic. The truth is that he is anything else except a disciple. He is able to give anyone, who is willing to listen, a running commentary about each church but he is not able to tell whether his life has been transformed while attending all these churches.

If left uncorrected, this believer will live in absolute spiritual poverty without even realizing it. He goes to church every Sunday but he is thoroughly useless for the kingdom of God. And sadly, after having lived a fruitless and ineffective Christian life, one dreadful day, he will just roll over and die. As for the commendation of Christ, “good and faithful servant”, he will have to leave for other faithful disciples to claim. AK

Monday, November 25, 2013

Starving The Christians

Spiritual starvation is worse than this
One of the devil’s schemes is to prevent believers from receiving spiritual food. The primary sources of spiritual food are from the Word of God and sermons. If the devil can get the believers to dislike daily reading the Bible, he can literally starve the Christians of spiritual nourishment. In addition, if he can convince the Christians not to attend church on Sundays, he would gain the ultimate victory. 

The famished Christians would die spiritually - slowly but surely. Soon, the believers will have no appetite for anything spiritual. Then as they continue to weaken, they will cross the line when they would no longer believe in God any more. 

Their once-empowered lives are gone. Their outlooks, behaviours, conducts, actions and attitudes would be no different from the people of the world. The devil has done his job well and hell rejoices. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Becoming the Person that God wants You to be!

No one can stop you from becoming the person that God wants you to be... except you. 

King Saul was appointed by God to be the first king of Israel. He did not serve God accordingly and decided to be "the person that he personally wanted to be" (1 Samuel 15).  That was when all the blessings stopped and his calling as the king was passed on to a young shepherd boy named David. 

It's important to know your calling and be faithful at what God has called you to do and to become. 

No matter how famous or popular you have become, obedience is still the key to God's heart. 

It is only in pursuing after the will of God in your life that you'll find true spiritual fulfillment and joy of service. 

Rev Albert Kang

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Any Relationship Is All Right... As Long As It Hurts No One?

Recently, Grace and I have a conversation with one of our relatives who believes that gay marriage relationship is acceptable. Her reasoning is that it should be acceptable "as long as there is love between two persons and the marital relationship is not hurting other people... and most importantly they must be happy".

To her, morality has become a personal choice and morals are entirely relative. There is no right or wrong. Who is to decide?

Then we ask if it is acceptable for a son to marry his mother if both of them are happy about it. After all it hurts no one and they are adults. Our relative is stunned and says no. Then we ask whether it is acceptable for a father to marry his daughter or a grandfather to marry his granddaughter? After all if two adults consent happily to the relationship and it hurts no one, then it should be acceptable... no? Since there is no moral gauge, who is to decide whether these relationships are morally acceptable? She profusely disagrees as her face contorts in disgust at the thought of these types of "unusual" relationships.

The reason why she reacts is because deep down inside, she still holds to certain morals. Little does she realize that there is Someone who has decided for us what is right and wrong. The Creator God does not leave us to second-guess how we should relate and live. He has made it very clear in the Bible.

Out of the five relationships that God has established, 1) Ruler and subject; 2) Husband and wife; 3) Parent and child, 4)sibling and sibling, 5) friend and friend - Marriage is the only sacred institution reserved for a man and a woman. And among these five relationships, the husband and wife are considered as "one flesh" and they are the only pair allowed to have sexual relationship (Genesis 2:24).

The idea that "as long as the relationship does not hurt anybody, and it is acceptable between two persons" cannot hold water. It cannot apply beyond married relationship between a man and a woman. The sacred institution of such union is sanctioned by God, not only spiritually but also naturally. In the beginning it has always been Adam and Eve and never Adam and Steve.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Fear of Love

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries, avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket-safe, dark, motionless, airless-it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.

I believe that the most lawless and inordinate loves are less contrary to God’s will than a self-invited and self-protective lovelessness. It is like hiding the talent in a napkin and for much the same reason. “I knew thee that thou wert a hard man.” Christ did not teach and suffer that we might become, even in the natural loves, more careful of our own happiness. If a man is not uncalculating towards the earthly beloveds whom he has seen, he is none the more likely to be so towards God whom he has not. We shall draw nearer to God, not by trying to avoid the sufferings inherent in all loves, but by accepting them and offering them to Him; throwing away all defensive armour. If our hearts need to be broken, and if He chooses this as the way in which they should break, so be it.

—C.S. Lewis (from The Four Loves)

For reflection — Matthew 25:14-30

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Unaffiliated To Any Religions

A 2012 survey of US Millennials—ages 18 to 24— uncovered an interesting trend. The study, led by the Public Religion Research Institute, revealed that one in four young adults chose “unaffiliated” for their religious commitment. But 55 percent of that group had “identified with a religious group” when they were younger. They had simply walked away from the faith they once embraced.

Sadly, many believers in Jesus turn away from their “first love” (Revelation 2:4 NKJV). Knowing that the people of ancient Israel were prone to wander away from God, Joshua called together the “eastern tribes” to commend them and give them counsel. He commended them for faithfully following God’s commands as they helped to clear Canaan (Joshua 22:2-3). The Promised Land had been claimed and was now prepared for God’s people.

But as he sent the three tribes (Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh) back to their homes on the east side of the Jordan (Joshua 22:4), Joshua also had some instructions for them (Joshua 22:5):

• “Love”—To maintain their relationship with God, they needed to love Him deeply.

• “Walk”—To stay in step with God, they needed to follow His ways completely.

• “Obey”—To honor God, they needed to obey His commands unceasingly.

• “Hold”—To stay strong in their faith, they needed to hold firmly to God uniquely.

• “Serve”—To live out their faith, they needed to serve God sincerely.

To make sure you don’t begin moving away from God—slipping from unashamed believer (Romans 1:16) to unaffiliated nonbeliever—consider the five words Joshua spoke to the people. As we love, walk, obey, hold, and serve in our relationship with God, our hearts will stay rooted in Him (Joshua 22:5).


Friday, March 8, 2013

Who created God? Where did God come from?

A common argument from atheists and skeptics is that if all things need a cause, then God must also need a cause. The conclusion is that if God needed a cause, then God is not God (and if God is not God, then of course there is no God). This is a slightly more sophisticated form of the basic question “Who made God?” Everyone knows that something does not come from nothing. So, if God is a “something,” then He must have a cause, right?

The question is tricky because it sneaks in the false assumption that God came from somewhere and then asks where that might be. The answer is that the question does not even make sense. It is like asking, “What does blue smell like?” Blue is not in the category of things that have a smell, so the question itself is flawed. In the same way, God is not in the category of things that are created or caused. God is uncaused and uncreated—He simply exists.

How do we know this? We know that from nothing, nothing comes. So, if there were ever a time when there was absolutely nothing in existence, then nothing would have ever come into existence. But things do exist. Therefore, since there could never have been absolutely nothing, something had to have always been in existence. That ever-existing thing is what we call God. God is the uncaused Being that caused everything else to come into existence. God is the uncreated Creator who created the universe and everything in it.


Recommended Resources: Logos Bible Software and I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist by Norm Geisler and Frank Turek.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Why I Love the Message of Grace

It was John Newton, the former slave trader and the author of “Amazing Grace,” who penned the famous words, “How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed.” I can relate to that personally, and that’s one reason I’m so jealous for the unadulterated grace of God, for grace without mixture, grace without leaven, grace without exaggeration.

On Dec. 17, 1971, the revelation of God’s love so flooded my heart that I told the Lord I would never put a needle in my arm again, and I was free from that moment on. No more heroin. No more speed. No more addiction to the needle. No more hallucinogenic drugs. Jesus truly delivered me!

For the previous six weeks there had been a tremendous battle in my soul—beginning Nov. 12, 1971, when I first believed that Jesus died for my sins, which was a major breakthrough for a 16 year-old, rebellious, proud, Jewish rock drummer. Prior to that, I had mocked the message of the gospel and boasted about my sin, but as the believers in a little Italian Pentecostal Church in Queens, N.Y. prayed for me, the Holy Spirit began to convict me (although I had no idea they were praying for me), and I knew something was terribly wrong with my life.

Then, after the light went on in my heart in November, I wrestled with God, shooting heroin one day and going to church the next, until that memorable service on Dec. 17. As the pastor’s wife played the piano and we sang the old hymns—hymns which sounded like little ditties to me compared to the Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix music I listened to day and night—I became overwhelmed by the joy of the Lord and received a dramatic revelation.

I saw myself filthy from head to toe, and then I saw myself washed cleaned with the blood of Jesus and clothed with beautiful white robes, only to go back and play in the mud. I was spurning God’s love, a love that was poured out on me when I was a filthy, godless sinner. I was mocking the blood of Jesus, blood that was shed for me when I was stealing money from my own father and bragging about how deceitful I could be.

At that moment, God’s goodness exposed my badness, and I surrendered my life to the Lord and said goodbye to the life I had been living. And it was not hard to make the radical break. What a Savior!

That was more than 41 years ago, and I can honestly say that I have experienced more of God’s grace as a believer than as a lost sinner. Every day of my life, I am cleansed from the defilement of the world by the blood of Jesus, even as I walk in the light (see 1 John 1:7). And when I have disappointed the Lord and grieved His Spirit (see Eph. 4:30), the moment I turn to him in repentance, he forgives and forgets my sins (see Mic. 7:17-19). What a gracious God!

But there’s still more. Every day of my life, I am empowered to fulfill the righteous requirements of the law by God’s grace (see Rom. 8:1-4; Titus 2:11-15). As Pastor David Wilkerson said, “According to Paul, we are not walking in grace until we have broken from worldly corruptions. Unless we are endeavoring through the power of the Holy Spirit to lead godly and righteous lives ... we do not know God’s grace.”

And that’s why I’m so jealous for the true message of grace. There are heretical “grace” teachers who exaggerate God’s grace, claiming that everyone will be saved in the end. And there are sincere, godly hyper-grace preachers who add mixture to God’s grace, claiming that if you ask God to forgive you when you sin as a believer, you are committing the sin of unbelief (really!).

Some of these teachers will even tell you exactly how you should express yourself to God, suggesting the right words to use to be sure you don’t say, “Father, forgive me,” since hyper-grace teachers believe the moment you get saved, God pronounces your future sins forgiven along with your past and present sins.

To me, when a preacher tells me what words to use in prayer and tells me it’s a sin to ask God to forgive me, he is mixing grace with legalism, forgetting the fact that we have a wonderful, intimate relationship with our heavenly Father who is more concerned with the condition of our hearts than with our religious formulas. And although my hyper-grace colleagues emphasize that God is always happy with us and pleased with us, as a righteous child of the Father, I have no problem saying, “Lord, I’m sorry for displeasing you. Wash me clean with the blood of Jesus, and forgive me.”

And when I say those words to the Lord, the blood that was shed on the cross is applied afresh to my heart, and that’s one reason why I live in 24/7 assurance of the Father’s love for me, condemnation free (always, without exception, for decades), eager to find out what pleases the Lord (see Eph. 5:10).

The hyper-grace message, which tells me that nothing I do will ever displease the Lord, which claims that I’m committing the sin of unbelief if I ask Abba to forgive me, and which is so quick to brand those outside of its camp as “law-keepers” and “Pharisees,” pollutes something very dear to my heart, and that’s why I continue to contend for grace without mixture.

Michael Brown is the author of The Real Kosher Jesus and the host of the nationally syndicated talk radio show The Line of Fire on the Salem Radio Network. He is also president of FIRE School of Ministry and director of the Coalition of Conscience. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Hyper-Grace Horror Stories

Hyper-grace teachers frequently emphasize that they do not condone sinful living and that God’s true grace will produce a holy life, and I believe they sincerely mean this. One hyper-grace author even states at the beginning of his book, “We are not propagating immorality, because if we truly believe in God and love Him there will be corresponding works (because faith without works is dead).” Absolutely!

There are boatloads of testimonies these teachers can point to, documenting how thousands of believers have found freedom and deliverance by embracing the message of grace. In previous years, these believers had lived under a weight of condemnation, thinking if they just worked a little harder God might accept them, feeling as if they never measured up. Then they encountered God’s amazing grace and were transformed.

This is wonderful news, and I rejoice in these testimonies too. In fact, that is the message of grace I believe in and preach as well.

Unfortunately, there are now boatloads of stories of believers who have been terribly injured by the hyper-grace message. In fact, since my article “Confronting the Errors of Hyper-Grace” was posted last week, I have not been able to keep up with all the horror stories that have been sent my way.

This one is typical, from Jessica:

“I have seen firsthand the changes that come with people who embrace this message.

“I joined a small group 3 years ago that went from having regular prayer meetings and living holy connected lives together to stating ‘prayer is a work and denies grace’ and ‘sin allows grace to do its great work.’ All of our prayer meetings and Bible studies were traded in for game-nights and nights out at the bar to ‘witness’ where many from the group got plastered ... all in the name of ‘grace.’

“My heart has been so broken for my dear friends who I walked so closely with. As a group, they have embraced sin as not only acceptable, but justified and desirable. I have been completely ostracized and mocked for my stand in holiness. They don’t even call me by my name anymore—they call me ‘Pharisee.’ Unfortunately, I have had to step completely away from these loved ones and am spending my life in prayer for them.”

Another wrote this:

“I had a loved one who was an intense follower of hyper grace start to lie and cheat in his business. … He was a different person before he started following hyper grace. … He wasn’t greedy, in fact he was selfless, humble and very much in integrity. Also I can’t mention to him the fact that he lied and withheld info in order to steer people to invest ... Why? Because he says there is no condemnation in Christ. So no one is allowed to mention that aspect of his behavior to him … or else.”

A worship leader wrote to me, describing what is happening among prominent worship leaders he knows, where “the drinking partying thing is rampant. Totally excused because they were under grace not legalism.”

Of course, my hyper-grace friends will protest: “This is not the fruit of our message. Our message produces love for Jesus and holy living. These people obviously misunderstood what we were teaching.”

But it’s not so simple, otherwise pastors and believers from around the country (and other countries) wouldn’t be contacting me day and night to talk about the destructive effects of the hyper-grace message.

Without a doubt, my colleagues who preach hyper-grace have discovered some wonderful truths that are liberating and transforming, and all of us should embrace those truths. Unfortunately, the hyper-grace message (in contrast with Paul’s message of abundant grace) is unbalanced and highly reactionary, to the real detriment of many believers.

Here are three major concerns (out of many more) that must be addressed:

1) Hyper-grace teachers (and their followers) denigrate those who differ with them, calling them legalistic Pharisees, branding them manipulators and tyrants who preach a counterfeit gospel, and sometimes even claiming that leaders who don’t preach hyper-grace are doing so for monetary gain (“sin management is lucrative;” there is an almost endless stream of quotes like this from respected hyper-grace leaders). This is destructive and divisive and needs to stop. (For the record, I use the term “hyper-grace” to be descriptive, not insulting, and some within the movement say, “Yes, we believe in hyper-grace!”)

2) In their zeal to exalt God’s grace, hyper-grace teachers often make extreme statements that lead believers to think that they are not responsible for their sins. After all, if we are always perfectly holy in God’s sight, we don’t really sin. Our bodies do! This is dangerous and unbiblical.

3) Hyper-grace teachers commonly claim that the words of Jesus no longer apply to us. Instead, they argue, Jesus’ teaching was for the Jews under the Law before the new covenant was inaugurated, whereas Paul brought the message of grace. If this false dichotomy doesn’t raise a red flag of warning, nothing will. Simply stated, any teaching that minimizes (or even ignores) the teachings of Jesus should be rejected.

I appeal to you, my brothers and sisters who are leaders in the hyper-grace camp (or, in your view, who are preaching the message of grace) to take these things to the Lord and make some serious course corrections before more lives are destroyed. Many have been helped by the truths you have taught, but many others have been damaged by your errors, and you cannot rejoice in the good without taking responsibility for the bad.

We don’t need any more horror stories.

Michael Brown is the author of The Real Kosher Jesus and the host of the nationally syndicated talk radio show The Line of Fire on the Salem Radio Network. He is also president of FIRE School of Ministry and director of the Coalition of Conscience. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or@drmichaellbrown on Twitter.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Confronting the Error of Hyper-Grace (Extreme Grace)

The biblical message of grace is wonderful, glorious and life-transforming. We can’t live without it for one second of our lives. But there is a message being preached today in the name of a new grace reformation, mixing powerful truth with dangerous error. I call it hyper-grace.

One of the foundational doctrines of the hyper-grace message is that God does not see the sins of his children, since we have already been made righteous by the blood of Jesus and since all of our sins, past, present and future, have already been forgiven.

That means that the Holy Spirit never convicts believers of sin, that believers never need to confess their sins to God, and that believers never need to repent of their sins, since God sees them as perfect in his sight.

It is easy to see how such teaching can be dangerous, especially to a believer being tempted to compromise.
One hyper-grace teacher wrote this: “When God looks at me, He doesn’t see me through the blood of Christ, He sees me—cleansed! Likewise, He sees us as holy and righteous. He sees us, and He loves what He sees!”

Really? Always? 24-7? God always loves what he sees when he looks at his people?

Yes, he loves us, but does he always love what he sees?
Did Jesus love what he saw when he rebuked five out of seven congregations in Asia Minor in Revelation 2-3? Did Paul, writing on behalf of the Lord, love what he saw when he warned the Galatians that they had fallen from grace and become trapped in legalism? Did James, also writing as a servant of the Lord, love what he saw when he rebuked his readers for being “friends of the world” and “adulterers and adulteresses”?

And if the Lord doesn’t see our sins, why did James write that if a believer who was sick had also sinned, God would forgive him when he healed him (see James 5:14-15)? And if he doesn’t see our sins, why did the Lord discipline believers in Corinth because of their sins (see 1 Cor. 11:27-32)? (And pay careful attention to 1 Corinthians 11:32, “When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.”)

If Jesus doesn’t see our sins, why did he say to the church in Ephesus, “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love” (Rev. 2:4, NIV)? And why did he says this to the church in Sardis? “I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.” (Rev. 3:1-3)

Does it sound like the Lord was thrilled with what he saw in Ephesus and Sardis?

If the Lord always “sees us as holy and righteous” and always “loves what He sees,” why did he rebuke the believers in Laodicea, telling them that they were “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked” (Rev. 3:17)? Why didn’t he say, “I see you as beautifully clothed, healthy, and rich?"

If he was so happy with what he saw in Laodicea, why did he threaten to spit the congregation out of his mouth (see Rev. 3:16)? And if believers never need to repent of their sins, why did Jesus say, “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent” (Rev. 3:19)? And how interesting it is that the same Greek word used in John 16:8—where Jesus says that the Holy Spirit will convict the world of its sins—is the word used by the Lord in Revelation 3:19 (translated there as “rebuke”; and note Rev. 3:22: this is the Spirit speaking!).

It is because God loves us that he rebukes us (not condemns us) and it is because sin is so destructive that he calls us to turn from it. This is the goodness of God, and this is what grace does, as Paul wrote in Titus 2:11-12, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.”

How tragic it is today when God’s people mistake the voice of His correcting love for the condemning voice of Satan, and how sad it is when they resist the purifying work of the Spirit, claiming that there’s nothing to purify since God no longer sees their sins.

Has He justified us by the blood of Jesus? Absolutely. Has He has set apart as holy to Himself? Without a doubt. Has He called us to be His sons and daughters, all by His love and grace? Yes He has. And it is because of these things that Paul wrote, “Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God” (2 Cor. 7:1).

What a beautiful, lofty calling. Don’t let anyone steal it from you.

*Special note: I’m in the process of writing a major book on “hyper-grace,” but you can watch a one-hour teaching video here.
Michael Brown is the author of The Real Kosher Jesus and the host of the nationally syndicated talk radio show The Line of Fire on the Salem Radio Network. He is also president of FIRE School of Ministry and director of the Coalition of Conscience. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Islamic antichrist? Will the antichrist be a Muslim?

Islamic antichrist?
Will the antichrist be a Muslim?

With the increasing tensions in the Middle East in recent years, and particularly the statements by Shiite Muslim extremists regarding the Twelfth Imam, many people have begun to ask how this relates to Bible prophecies. To answer, we must first find out who the Twelfth Imam is and what he is expected to do for Islam. Second, we must examine the statements by Shiite Muslims in relation to those hopes, and, third, we need to look to the Bible to shed light on the whole issue.

Within the Shiite branch of Islam, there have been twelve imams, or spiritual leaders appointed by Allah. These began with Imam Ali, cousin to Muhammad, who claimed the prophetic succession after Muhammad's death. Around A.D. 868, the Twelfth Imam, Abu al-Qasim Muhammad (or Muhammad al Mahdi), was born to the Eleventh Imam. Because his father was under intense persecution, the Mahdi was sent into hiding for his protection. About the age of 6, he briefly came out of hiding when his father was killed, but then went back into hiding. It is said that he has been hiding in caves ever since and will supernaturally return just before the day of judgment to eradicate all tyranny and oppression, bringing harmony and peace to the earth. He is the savior of the world in Shiite theology. According to one writer, the Mahdi will combine the dignity of Moses, the grace of Jesus, and the patience of Job in one perfect person.

The predictions about the Twelfth Imam have a striking similarity to Bible prophecies of the end times. According to Islamic prophecy, the Mahdi's return will be preceded by a number of events during three years of horrendous world chaos, and he will rule over the Arabs and the world for seven years. His appearance will be accompanied by two resurrections, one of the wicked and one of the righteous. According to Shiite teachings, the Mahdi's leadership will be accepted by Jesus, and the two great branches of Abraham's family will be reunited forever.

How do the statements of Shiite Muslims, such as the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, tie into this? Ahmadinejad is a deeply committed Shiite and claims that he is to personally prepare the world for the coming Mahdi. In order for the world to be saved, it must be in a state of chaos and subjugation, and Ahmadinejad feels he was directed by Allah to pave the way for that. Ahmadinejad has repeatedly made statements about destroying the enemies of Islam. The Iranian President and his cabinet have supposedly signed a contract with al Mahdi in which they pledge themselves to his work. When asked directly by ABC reporter Ann Curry in September 2009 about his apocalyptic statements, Ahmadinejad said, “Imam...will come with logic, with culture, with science. He will come so that there is no more war. No more enmity, hatred. No more conflict. He will call on everyone to enter a brotherly love. Of course, he will return with Jesus Christ. The two will come back together. And working together, they would fill this world with love.”

What does all this have to do with the Antichrist? According to 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, there will be a “man of sin” revealed in the last days who will oppose and exalt himself above all that is called God. In Daniel 7 we read of Daniel's vision of four beasts which represent kingdoms which play major roles in God's prophetic plan. The fourth beast is described (v. 7-8) as being dreadful, terrible, exceedingly strong, and different from those which came before it. It is also described as having a “little horn” which uproots other horns. This little horn is often identified as the Antichrist. In verse 25 he is described as speaking “great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time” (3 ½ years). In Daniel 8, the vision of the ram and the goat identifies a king who will arise in the last days (v. 23-25), destroy many people, and stand up against Christ, but this king will be broken. In Daniel 9:27 it is prophesied that the “prince that shall come” would make a 7-year covenant with many people and then bring in much desolation. Who will this Antichrist be? No one knows for certain, but many theories have been given, including the possibility that he will be an Arab.

Regardless of the various theories, there are a few parallels between the Bible and Shiite theology that we should note. First, the Bible says that the Antichrist's kingdom will rule the world for seven years, and Islam claims that the Twelfth Imam will rule the world for seven years. Second, Muslims anticipate three years of chaos before the revealing of the Twelfth Imam, and the Bible speaks of 3 ½ years of Tribulation before the Antichrist reveals himself by desecrating the Jewish temple. Third, the Antichrist is described as a deceiver who claims to bring peace, but who actually brings widespread war; the anticipation of the Twelfth Imam is that he will bring peace through massive war with the rest of the world.

Will the Antichrist be a Muslim? Only God knows. Are there connections between Islamic eschatology and Christian eschatology? There certainly seem to be direct correlations, though they are like reading the descriptions of a great battle, first from the perspective of the loser, trying to save face, and then from the perspective of the victor. Until we see the fulfillment of these things, we need to heed the words of 1 John 4:1-4, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”


Thursday, January 31, 2013

Daniel's Gloves

Daniel's Gloves

I sat, with two friends, in the picture window of a quaint restaurant just off the corner of the town-square. The food and the company were both especially good that day.

As we talked, my attention was drawn outside, across the street. There, walking into town, was a man who appeared to be carrying all his worldly goods on his back. He was carrying, a well-worn sign that read, 'I will work for food.' My heart sank..

I brought him to the attention of my friends and noticed that others around us had stopped eating to focus on him. Heads moved in a mixture of sadness and disbelief.

We continued with our meal, but his image lingered in my mind.. We finished our meal and went our separate ways. I had errands to do and quickly set out to accomplish them. I glanced toward the town square, looking somewhat halfheartedly for the strange visitor. I was fearful, knowing that seeing him again would call some response. I drove through town and saw nothing of him. I made some purchases at a store and got back in my car.

Deep within me, the Spirit of God kept speaking to me: 'Don't go back to the office until you've at least driven once more around the square.'

Then with some hesitancy, I headed back into town. As I turned the square's third corner, I saw him. He was standing on the steps of the church, going through his sack.

I stopped and looked; feeling both compelled to speak to him, yet wanting to drive on. The empty parking space on the corner seemed to be a sign from God: an invitation to park. I pulled in, got out and approached the town's newest visitor.

'Looking for the pastor?' I asked.

'Not really,' he replied, 'just resting.'

'Have you eaten today?'

'Oh, I ate something early this morning.'

'Would you like to have lunch with me?'

'Do you have some work I could do for you?'

'No work,' I replied 'I commute here to work from the city, but I would like to take you to lunch.'

'Sure,' he replied with a smile.

As he began to gather his things, I asked some surface questions.

'Where you headed?'

'St. Louis! '

'Where you from?'

'Oh, all over; mostly Florida ...'

'How long you been walking?'

'Fourteen years,' came the reply.

I knew I had met someone unusual. We sat across from each other in the same restaurant I had left earlier. His face was weathered slightly beyond his 38 years. His eyes were dark yet clear, and he spoke with an eloquence and articulation that was startling He removed his jacket to reveal a bright red T-shirt that said, 'Jesus is The Never Ending Story.'

Then Daniel's story began to unfold. He had seen rough times early in life. He'd made some wrong choices and reaped the consequences. Fourteen years earlier, while backpacking across the country, he had stopped on the beach in Daytona. He tried to hire on with some men who were putting up a large tent and some equipment. A concert, he thought.

He was hired, but the tent would not house a concert but revival services, and in those services he saw life more clearly. He gave his life over to God

'Nothing has been the same since,' he said, 'I felt the Lord telling me to keep walking, and so I did, some fourteen years now.'

'Ever think of stopping?' I asked.

'Oh, once in a while, when it seems to get the best of me But God has given me this calling. I give out Bibles That's what's in my sack. I work to buy food and Bibles, and I give them out when His Spirit leads.'

I sat amazed. My homeless friend was not homeless. He was on a mission and lived this way by choice. The question burned inside for a moment and then I asked: 'What's it like?'


'To walk into a town carrying all your things on your back and to show your sign?'

'Oh, it was humiliating at first. People would stare and make comments. Once someone tossed a piece of half-eaten bread and made a gesture that certainly didn't make me feel welcome. But then it became humbling to realize that God was using me to touch lives and change people's concepts of other folks like me.'

My concept was changing, too. We finished our dessert and gathered his things. Just outside the door, he paused He turned to me and said, 'Come Ye blessed of my Father and inherit the kingdom I've prepared for you. For when I was hungry you gave me food, when I was thirsty you gave me drink, a stranger and you took me in.'

I felt as if we were on holy ground.

'Could you use another Bible?' I asked.

He said he preferred a certain translation. It traveled well and was not too heavy. It was also his personal favorite.. 'I've read through it 14 times,' he said.

'I'm not sure we've got one of those, but let's stop by our church and see' I was able to find my new friend a Bible that would do well, and he seemed very grateful.

'Where are you headed from here?' I asked.

'Well, I found this little map on the back of this amusement park coupon.'

'Are you hoping to hire on there for a while?'

'No, I just figure I should go there. I figure someone under that star right there needs a Bible, so that's where I'm going next.'

He smiled, and the warmth of his spirit radiated the sincerity of his mission. I drove him back to the town-square where we'd met two hours earlier, and as we drove, it started raining. I parked and he unloaded his things.

'Would you sign my autograph book?' he asked... 'I like to keep messages from folks I meet.'

I wrote in his little book that his commitment to his calling had touched my life. I encouraged him to stay strong. And I left him with a verse of scripture from Jeremiah, 'I know the plans I have for you, declared the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you; Plans to give you a future and a hope.'

'Thanks, man,' he said. 'I know we just met and we're really just strangers, but I love you.'

'I know,' I said, 'I love you, too.'

'The Lord is good!'

'Yes, He is. How long has it been since someone hugged you?' I asked.

A long time,' he replied

And so on the busy street corner in the drizzling rain, my new friend and I embraced, and I felt deep inside that I had been changed.. He put his things on his back, smiled his winning smile and said, 'See you in the New Jerusalem.'

'I'll be there!' was my reply.

He began his journey again. He headed away with his sign dangling from his bedroll and pack of Bibles. He stopped, turned and said, 'When you see something that makes you think of me, will you pray for me?'

'You bet,' I shouted back, 'God bless.'

'God bless.' And that was the last I saw of him.

Late that evening as I left my office, the wind blew strong. The cold front had settled hard upon the town. I bundled up and hurried to my car. As I sat back and reached for the emergency brake, I saw them.... a pair of well-worn brown work gloves neatly laid over the length of the handle. I picked them up and thought of my friend and wondered if his hands would stay warm that night without them.

Then I remembered his words: 'If you see something that makes you think of me, will you pray for me?'

Today his gloves lie on my desk in my office.. They help me to see the world and its people in a new way, and they help me remember those two hours with my unique friend and to pray for his ministry.

'See you in the New Jerusalem,' he said. Yes, Daniel, I know I will...

'I shall pass this way but once. Therefore, any good that I can do or any kindness that I can show, let me do it now, for I shall not pass this way again.'

This prayer is powerful and there is nothing attached. Prayer is one of the best gifts we receive. There is no cost but a lot of rewards.
Let's continue to pray for one another. God bless and have a nice day!

'Father, I ask you to bless my friends, relatives and e-mail buddies reading this right now. Show them a new revelation of your love and power. Holy Spirit, I ask you to minister to their spirits at this very moment. Where there is pain, give them your peace and mercy. Where there is self-doubt, release a renewed confidence through your grace, In Jesus' precious Name Amen.'

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Three Valuable Words

Three Valuable Words

By Earl Nightingale

I was once interviewed by a man and his wife who were writing a book about well-known people who’ve overcome problems of various kinds in order to further their lives. I mentioned to him that everyone must overcome problems of various degrees and that people who are more or less in the public’s eye aren’t any more courageous than other people we may never hear about. In fact, the story of every life is a story of obstacles overcome.

But they wanted my story, so I told them of three words that had have been of incalculable help to me in reaching various goals. Whenever I became depressed and things seemed rather hopeless, I would always say to myself, “Stay with it.” “Stay with it” kept me going many times when it seemed the better part of valor to quit and settle for smaller goals. And it’s nothing more than persistence. To me, a personal reminder is always that persistence can accomplish almost anything.

The habit of persistence soon becomes the habit of winning. Every successful person’s story is the story of persistence, of “staying with it” day after day despite the problems and setbacks and mistakes and disappointments that seem to test our resolve from time to time. The power of a person’s persistence seems to be determined by the strength of his or her goal. We read and hear about people who sail around the world in a 30-foot sailboat and overcome handicaps to win a gold medal at the Olympic games, and sooner or later, we find their stories about persistence, of simply staying with it one day at a time.

I remember well the day that I sat down to write the first of my radio programs. That was more than 20 years ago. That was 5,200 programs ago, with about 700 words to the program; that’s 3,640,000 words ago. Or the equivalent of 36 full-size books ago. Now that’s certainly no world’s record, but a good example of what persistence can do all the same. I can recall that my friend Lowell Thomas’s study was completely lined with the bound copies of his broadcasts.

When we see the tired faces of commuters on the big city subway and children climbing aboard the school bus, we see persistence at work. We see it in the expression of the wife and mother doing her grocery shopping or the week’s laundry or preparing another meal. But everything we do contributes to the life we lead, the joys we experience, the satisfactions we realize from time to time, and persistence itself is a joy when we’re doing what we enjoy and want to do. But there are times when we need to remind ourselves: “Stay with it”. This is what I’ve chosen of my own free will to do, and so I’ll do it to the very best of my ability come what may.

So in the interview, it all seemed to come down to making up one’s mind about what one wants to do and then starting toward it and doing it every day, day after day, month after month, until one day you’ve got what you’ve set out to get, for good or bad, and it’s time to decide on another goal and head out on the new course. It all seems to be a matter of just staying with it. It’s not a very complicated success formula, is it? Just make up your mind what it is you want very much to have or to do, and get started. And when the going gets very tough, and it’s a bad, bad day, and you feel like giving up, you say to yourself, “Stay with it.”

Stay with it.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Feelings! Nothing Else But Feelings?

Keep on pursuing love... 1 Corinthians 14:1

Learning to love is not easy for some people. Those who have been hurt emotionally find it difficult not only to give love but also to receive love. They live lonely lives and wonder why others do not love them. The basic problem lies with the wrong idea what love is all about. To them, love is an emotion and so "if I don't feel it, I don't show it".

Yes, we do feel emotional when we are in love or love someone but that is not the full story. Love is also an act of the will. We don't feel loving all the time and we definitely do not depend upon our "feeling" in order to love. When a spouse says, "I don't love you any more", he or she simply means, "I don't feel the love emotion for you right now". If the angry spouse were to cool down and think carefully, he or she actually does love his or her spouse. In fact, that goes with any types of relationship - whether they are between siblings, friends and relatives, we do love and care even some times, we do not feel like it.

Pastor Dick Innes shared about his own fear to love because of a negative experience in his past. He wanted to learn how to love and confided with one of his friends who gave a very good advice, "Just do the loving things". This fantastic advice has to do with the act of the will. It means when I don't feel the love emotion, I continue to produce actions of love, concern and care in spite of how I feel.

Some may question whether this is hypocrisy - that I am not acting how I feel. The answer is that there are at least two meanings to the word "feeling" in this context. One has to do with 'emotion' and the other has to do with 'conviction'.

For example, at a certain time of the month, my wife behaves a little 'weird'. Her behavior is a little spicy and so I have to be careful. I know that it's the "woman's thing" and do I doubt her love for me in time like this? Of course not! There are times when I retreat to my cave because I am not happy about certain things that my wife does. Yes, I may need time to get over my feelings but that does not mean that I do not love her. My wife is a smart woman and she knows that it is best to allow me to hibernate in my cave without disturbing me.

What I feel at that moment does matter to me but it must not be the catalyst of quarrels and disharmony. Coming out of the cave does not mean that such feeling is gone completely. The short solitary moment just makes it easier to manage the initial feeling of unhappiness. I have learned that the best option to overcome such feeling is to continue to do the "loving things". The amazing thing is that given lots of practice, doing the "loving things" becomes second nature. Yes, you read me right... it takes lots of practice. To be honest, I am still practicing but hope to graduate soon.

Conviction is another story. When I say that "I feel that racialism is bad", I will stand by my conviction whether I have any emotional attachment to it or not. It will be hypocrisy when to some, I say, "It is not okay" and then to others I say, "It is okay".

Now it is clear that if I act kindly and lovingly even when I don't feel like it has nothing to do with hypocrisy, then is this decision of mine also my conviction? This is a choice that I have made and a decision that I will live with for the rest of my life. To reiterate, it is indeed my conviction that even though when I do not feel loving, I must continue to show actions of love and care.

Affection is a must in a love relationship and so do be affectionate. On occasions when the well of feelings becomes a little dry and showing actions of love become tedious, then it is time to seek God for more love. Wait in the presence of God and let Him soak you with His eternal love. When you come out of this encounter, you will find that it is so much easier to love both with feelings or without them. That makes the journey of life with the people you love so much more exciting and endearing. The best of it is that the people around you can see the love of Christ shinning out of your life.

Remember, God is our endless source of love.

Albert Kang

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Erroneous Teaching Disguised As Grace

A strange teaching has crept into the Church, teaching that you are totally depraved, so much so that even after you have been Born Again, you are totally helpless in obeying God.

This erroneous teaching is disguised as 'Grace' because it departs from the 'Grace' taught in the Bible. It actually nullifies the true Grace of God by stating that you have to perpetually look back at Calvary Cross for your justification. The popular understanding is that since Jesus died for all your sins (past, present and future), you therefore have no need to confess or repent of any sins any more.

Some, who receive such teaching, are glad that they do not need to be accountable for any of their present or future sins and live with gratitude. They still make mistakes and so on, but generally they live a holy life. Chances are these people have been living under such heavy doses of guilt teachings meted out to them in their former churches. Therefore, this type of 'Grace' message is a welcome relief. One lady told me that for the first time, she has been truly liberated.

Others, on the other hand, take the liberty in this doctrine and live carelessly. The logic is that "since I am no longer accountable for my present or future sins, then I can live however I like, as long as I 'believe' that Christ is doing the obeying for me".

The first group lives in gratitude but not a life empowerd by the grace of God. The idea is "I am happy that I need to do nothing to please God because God is never pleased with what I do any way. He is only pleased with the works of Christ. As I am not an ungrateful person and so I live a life of gratitude."

The second group lives in ingratitude, thinking that the grace of God should be large enough to encompass their ingratitude and unfaithfulness. They are considered 'disciples of Christ' because Christ is obeying for them and they never need to obey any more. Any way, even if they were to obey, God will not consider their obedience as anything worthwhile to look at... because it is 'filthy rag'.

This type of belief is called Progressive Justification. It means that you are still depraved and still living under the Law. That is why you need Christ to obey for you all the time. It is not a Grace that sets you free that you can now be able to bear fruits and be responsible for your life living within the powerful Grace of God. It is definitely not the life described by our Lord in John 8:36, "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."

The Bible says that you have been justified once and for all. The finished work of Christ at Calvary is effective enough to justify you before God. You do not need to be justified again and again. You are free! He has set you free from the Law. You do not need to go back to the Gospel again and again. The Gospel or Good News is for those who do not know Christ. It is not for you because you have already received the Good News.

The process of sanctification is the result of that one-time justification at Calvary. It is your growing process in the grace of God. You grow daily to become more and more like Christ! This is called 'Discipleship'! It is spiritual growth that relies upon the Holy Spirit. Remember, Jesus gave you the Holy Spirit for a reason. The Holy Spirit is God's grace extended to help you in the process of sanctification. Read Ephesians 4 and it will become clear that after you have been saved, you still need the instruction for Christian living.

God has accepted and saved you as who you were and He is now transforming you to become like His Son, Jesus Christ. Daily, the Word of God and the Holy Spirit, help you to grow stronger in faith, holiness and Christian character.

And finally, take heed to the instruction given by the Apostle Peter:
Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.
2 Peter 3:17 -18

Article by Albert Kang

Monday, January 21, 2013

What is Wrong with Being "Discipled"?


"Being" Discipled

It’s a common phrase in Christian circles.  We talk of “discipling” someone, “being” discipled, or going where there is a strong emphasis on discipleship.
What’s wrong with this picture?
More than might meet the eye.
If you notice, the language itself puts the entire emphasis on someone, or something, “doing” discipleship “to” someone else.  The one being discipled is seemingly passive.
In other words, discipleship is something “received.”
But that is not the idea of discipleship in the Bible.  The word “disciple” is from the Greek word “mathetes” and literally means “learner.”
Stop there.  Re-read.
If I’m not mistaken, that puts the action firmly into the lap of the one doing the learning.  The point is that you, as a disciple, are to be actively learning.  It is your responsibility to take up the mantle of self-development.
And yes, this suggests a teacher is involved.
And yes, we talk about someone going to college to “receive” an education.
And yes, Jesus seemed to fill the teaching/equipping role by inviting twelve men (and more than a few women) to do life with him for three years.
And yes, they were called “disciples.”
But reflect on those early followers.  Theirs was an invitation to learn, not to enter into a passive process of being fed.  We certainly know that not all of the twelve went to school on Jesus.
One in particular didn’t seem to learn much of anything.  If discipleship was simply something “done” to you, Jesus failed epically with Judas.  [I wonder if he ever said he needed to follow another rabbi where he could be better “fed.”]
No, growing in faith is something that can be served by others, but ultimately must be owned personally by ourselves.
This is decisive.  Too many followers of Christ view discipleship as something that is done to them and for them, akin to a personal enrichment program.  Yet the writer of Hebrews made it abundantly clear that people who keep getting “fed” in this way are in arrested development.  Once out of infancy, they should no longer need to be fed, but instead be feeding others (Hebrews 4:11-13).
But even more disquieting is how we have missed out on what it is we should focus on learning.  The back-half of the Great Commission exhorts us to teach new believers to obey what Christ has commanded.
And what has Christ commanded?
To live out our lives in mission to the least and the lost.
In other words, what we are to be “learning” is increased love toward others and increased faith for the task of serving them.  We are not to be in search for a feeding station that creates a culture of dependency and endless demand for head-knowledge, but a learning environment where an active life of faith is stretched and encouraged.
I know, knowledge is needed.  Doctrine matters.  We are transformed by the renewing of our minds.  But only when what is in the mind translates into obedience to the widow and orphan, the hell-bound and skeptic.
So what would that kind of discipleship entail?  In his book Deep and Wide, Andy Stanley states the practice of many seasoned spiritual leaders in detailing the five primary ways people experience growth in their faith:
*practical teaching
*private disciplines
*personal ministry
*providential relationships
*pivotal circumstances
In other words, faith is stretched by being in the game;
…where you are admonished by teachers/leaders, investing in connecting with God through prayer and the Scriptures, putting yourself on the front lines of the cause of Christ, mixing it up with other Christians who sharpen you as iron against iron, and being led by God into unique situations that challenge you at the deepest of spiritual levels.
That’s not passive, but active.
It’s something that can be served, but never delivered.
It takes a church, but only goes so far as the person is willing to be,
…a true learner.
James Emery White
Andy Stanley, Deep and Wide.
Editor’s Note
James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president.  His newly released book is The Church in an Age of Crisis: 25 New Realities Facing Christianity (Baker Press).  To enjoy a free subscription to the Church and Culture blog, log-on to, where you can post your comments on this blog, view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world.  Follow Dr. White on twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.