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The Bible is unique among all books. Not only is it different in its form, structure, and history, but it takes the position of supernatural superiority to all other communication. It insists on total accuracy for its content and absolute obedience to its commands. No other book is so demanding.

Replacing Christianity

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Jesus asked, “When the Son of Man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8)

Depends on where He looks—and it might take Him a while.

Atheism has always been with us, and always will be. It’s natural in superficially educated fat-heads.

What really threatens to replace our Christianity in the West is a threefold combo of para-Christianity, pseudo-Christianity, and downright poo-bah. We shall see examples of all three, but the first two are the worst: people can swallow these substitutes for Christianity and still think they’re getting the real thing.

“Para” is a prefix meaning “kinda, sorta,” so para-Christianity would be “kinda, sorta Christianity.” Young people who have been raised in church-going Christian families and educated in Christian schools and colleges still seem to fall easily into the net of para-Christianity—which makes us wonder whether those Christian churches, schools, and colleges actually do the job they think they’re doing.

Last week I heard from someone who attended her young adult son’s Bible study group, none of whose members brought Bibles. When they wanted a verse, they just found it on their smart phones. Instead of the Bible, they were studying a book called “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan.

This is where the skid begins. Instead of getting to know and understand the Bible, they focus on what some guy thinks about the Bible. Granted, a capable Bible teacher can often be a blessing; but he should never be a substitute.

And so these earnest young millennials, who come from Christian homes and churches, schools and colleges, wind up with a peculiar theology which my friend describes as “no substance, no current issues, no reality—just soft Jesus-loves-me stuff,” with an emphasis on earning salvation by gaudy works of the flesh such as “giving away all your money and living below the poverty line,” etc.

In fact, this approach to Christianity is repeatedly rejected in the Bible, which teaches that salvation is the gift of God, received by faith in Jesus Christ who has already done all the good works necessary to obtain it. The good works that we do are evidence of our faith—not a ticket into Heaven. Here we have an ancient heresy parading around in modern clothes, still bamboozling Christ’s people after all these centuries.

As an example of pseudo-Christianity, I offer an email received from a publicist touting a modern rewrite of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” featuring a transgender character. Instead of telling us how Scrooge is made to see what a wretched sinner he has been, and how he sincerely repents, and is reformed and regenerated by the grace of God, this new, pseudo-Christian version of the story “encourages families to accept those members who may be ‘different.’” The author, a man who insists that he is now a woman, presents the pseudo-Christian doctrine that “love” transforms our sins into virtues that must be “celebrated.” The Bible, God’s word, turns out to be totally wrong on sexual morality; and instead of God, we have a fumbling Creator who makes mistakes which fallen man, in his worldly wisdom, can correct with science and technology.

Thanks to Biblical illiteracy—or, in many cases, willful blindness and rebellion—people can call themselves “Christians” while rejecting Christian teachings.

And then there’s poo-bah—truly weird beliefs that have nothing to do with Christianity but are nevertheless strongly held.

I heard from a reader who insists that Earth is flat, not a sphere, and that the whole space program—an enterprise involving uncounted thousands of persons over many years, in many different countries—is nothing but an elaborate hoax of gigantic proportions, none of which ever really happened. There are no satellites, he says, and never were—so much for his GPS, if he has one. No moon landing, either.

It’s like saying France is a hoax, that it doesn’t exist and never did. What it takes to believe such a stupendous shaggy-dog story, I can’t imagine. But there does seem to be an awful lot more of this now than there used to be.

Our Lord warned us (Matthew 7: 21-23): Many will come to Him, saying, “Lord, Lord, we did all sorts of really cool things in your name.” But He will only answer them, “I never knew you. Get lost, you workers of iniquity.”

For years I struggled with that parable, unable to understand what Jesus was telling us. But the message really is quite simple.

We can call ourselves “Christians” until we’re blue in the face, but that doesn’t make us Christians.

For that we have to turn to the Bible itself.

There is no substitute.


Power Of Prayer

2 Chronicles 20:1-15

From Scripture, we see the importance and effectiveness of praying with spiritual authority. Elijah, for example, boldly challenged the prophets of Baal because he knew the Lord would hear and answer. And King Jehoshaphat sought God for direction and strength—and called upon the nation to do the same.

Their examples teach what is required for prayer to be powerful:

Dependence on God. The petitions of both men showed deep reliance upon the Lord. Knowing that victory over Israel’s enemies was beyond their own abilities, they asked God to intervene.

A focus on His plan. Elijah did things God’s way against tremendous odds and at great personal risk (1 Kings 19:1-2). Jehoshaphat called for the nation to fast as he sought to discover the Lord’s plan. Because they looked to God for a strategy, they both had a clear goal that led them through the difficulties they faced.

Purity of motive. Both leaders had God-centered intentions and a goal of furthering His purposes. They weren’t trying to gain anything for themselves.

Confidence in God’s faithfulness. Neither man hesitated to ask publicly for divine help. Elijah told the plan to the 450 enemy prophets, and Jehoshaphat called upon all of Israel to join him in intercession.

If your prayers seem to be having little impact, ask yourself, Have I been relying upon my own strength to resolve matters? Is there a selfish basis for my request? Am I lacking confidence in God (James 1:5-7)? If so, turn to the Lord, confess, and seek to follow the example of Elijah and Jehoshaphat.

Dispositional Sins

Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice. —Ephesians 4:31

Dispositional sins are fully as injurious to the Christian cause as the more overt acts of wickedness. These sins are as many as the various facets of human nature. Just so there may be no misunderstanding let us list a few of them: sensitiveness, irritability, churlishness, faultfinding, peevishness, temper, resentfulness, cruelty, uncharitable attitudes; and of course there are many more. These kill the spirit of the church and slow down any progress which the gospel may be making in the community. Many persons who had been secretly longing to find Christ have been turned away and embittered by manifestations of ugly dispositional flaws in the lives of the very persons who were trying to win them….

Unsaintly saints are the tragedy of Christianity. People of the world usually pass through the circle of disciples to reach Christ, and if they find those disciples severe and sharp-tongued they can hardly be blamed if they sigh and turn away from Him….

The low state of religion in our day is largely due to the lack of public confidence in religious people.

Oh Lord, may I never be an “unsaintly saint!” Give me a pleasant disposition today, not that people would be attracted to me, but that through me they may be irresistibly drawn to Christ. Amen.

The Sleeper

“Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.” (Ephesians 5:14)

The message in our text provides an attention-getting warning to those who claim to be Christians but indulge in or even allow the evil practices of Ephesians 5:3-7. A Christian does not, and indeed cannot, live a life of fornication, or uncleanness, or covetousness, or filthiness, or foolish talking, or jesting (vv. 3-4), for no such person “hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God . . . for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience” (vv. 5-6). Those who practice such things are “fools” (v. 15).

While we as Christians must always be willing to bring the saving message of God’s grace to the sinner, we must not be “partakers with them” (v. 7) in their sins and indeed must “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness” (v. 11). Instead, we must “reprove them” (v. 11), pointing out the consequences of their actions and focusing their attention on Christ, who “hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour” (v. 2) in payment of their penalty. All that must be done is to accept this forgiveness. In doing so, we who are “light in the Lord” (v. 8) will shed light in their darkness, for “all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light” (v. 13).

As children of the light (v. 8), our lives must exhibit the “fruit of the Spirit . . . goodness and righteousness and truth” (v. 9). We must prove “what is acceptable unto the Lord” (v. 10), “walk[ing] circumspectly, . . . wise[ly]” (v. 15), “redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (v. 16). The sleeper in our text, whether he be an unbeliever or a professing Christian, is “asleep”—locked in moral insensibility. “Awake, Sleeper!” Paul would say, “and accept the God-given remedy for your plight!” JDM

A Dangerous Philosophy: Success Is Everything

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness. Romans 1:18

The philosophy of pragmatism—basically, the doctrine of the utility of truth, is having a powerful influence upon Christianity in the latter half of the twentieth century.

For the pragmatist there are no absolutes, nothing is absolutely good or absolutely true. Truth and morality float on a sea of human experience.

For the pragmatist, truth is to use. Whatever is useful is true for the user, though for someone else it may not be useful, so not true. The truth of any idea is its ability to produce desirable results. If it can show no such results it is false. This is pragmatism stripped of its jargon!

We live in a day when no one wants to argue with success. It is useless to plead for the human soul, to insist that what a man can do is less important than what he is!

The spectacular drama of successful deeds leaves the beholder breathless—deeds you can see. So who cares about ideals and character and morals? These things are for poets, nice old ladies and philosophers—”let’s get on with the job!”

The weakness of all this in the church is its tragic shortsightedness. It never takes the long view of religious activity, but goes cheerfully on believing that “because it works it is both good and true.” It is satisfied with present success and shakes off any suggestion that its works may go up in smoke in the day of Christ!

Too Much “at Home”

These all died in faith… and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. HEBREWS 11:13

One of the most telling indictments against many of us who comprise our Christian churches is the almost complete acceptance of the contemporary scene as our permanent home!

We have been working and earning, getting and spending, and now we are enjoying the creature comforts known to human beings in this land. You may bristle a bit and ask: “Is there anything wrong with being comfortable?”

Let me answer in this way: If you are a Christian and you are comfortably “at home” in Chicago or Toronto, in Iowa or Alberta or any other address on planet earth, the signs are evident that you are in spiritual trouble.

The spiritual equation reads like this: The greater your contentment with your daily circumstances in this world, the greater your defection from the ranks of God’s pilgrims en route to a city whose architect and builder is God Himself!

If we can feel that we have put down our roots in this present world, then our Lord still has much to teach us about faith and attachment to our Savior!

Lord, although I live at a local address, I pray that You will help me be a globally minded Christian and that my heart will beat with Yours for this lost world.