Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Monday, January 28, 2013
As I was reading this a.m. in my Bible (Exodus 13-15) I noticed Ex 13:17 which reads in part, "...that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near..." As I read this, a thought came to me. Although, according to human reasoning, the best and quickest way to get out of Egypt was thru the land of the Philistines, it was not the best way for the people of God. Because of this, God led them a different way. And it was in this "different way" that God got himself honor, and displayed his power. As God leads us today, maybe down a "different way" than we think we ought to go, may we understand that "his way is pefect" (Psa. 18:30) and follow his leading. Besides, who knows what lies on this unexpected detour? It could be that God may be leading us to a Red Sea moment where, once again in our lives, he will get to himself honor, and display his power.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
But before we list the reasons one should leave a church, let's first look at some frivolous reasons some choose to leave a church:
1. Personality Conflicts- This is no reason to leave a church. You should reconcile and serve God (Matthew 5:24).
2. Money Conflicts- Unless there is embezzlement, underhanded dealings that are not above board, or Scriptural grounds you should get over it. Remember it's not your money. It was given to the Lord through your local church.
3. Direction Conflicts- Unless the church is going a direction that is contrary to Biblical principle be careful about leaving. Be sure you disagreement is Biblically based.
4. Hurtful Conflicts- Many will leave a church because of hurt feelings. Someone once said, "The church is not a museum for Saints. It is a hospital for the hurting." I heard a great Pastor say "Hurting people hurt people". Everyone gets hurt, but we must deal with our hurt Biblically. You should not leave because of hurtful conflicts; you should resolve them and continue serving the Lord.
Now that we have dealt with the wrong reasons for leaving a church, let's look at the Scriptural reasons:
1. When the Congregation Dismisses You (1 Corinthians 5:1,2,9-13; Matthew 18:17)
2. When you are Displaced (Acts 8:14)
3. When your Calling Demands it (Acts 11:22-26)
4. When the Scriptures are Diluted (John 8:31-32; Romans 10:17)
5. When the Leadership is Disqualified (1 Timothy 3:1-13)
6. When Teaching is Discounted (Romans 16:17)
7. When Conduct is Disorderly (2 Thessalonians 3:6-14; Romans 12:2; 1 Corinthians 14:40)
Leaving a church is not to be done lightly. It is to be done with prayer and ONLY AFTER you have spoken honestly with your pastor.
REMEMBER: You felt God's leading to join the congregation of which you are a part. A good question to ask yourself in this decision would be: Did God make a mistake when he led you to join a particular church (by the way if God led you to join, there is NO MISTAKE) or have things really changed? If the church is still scripturally standing, preaching, and practicing the same as when you joined it, then the problem may not be with the church; it may be with you!
I read a quote on twitter once which read, "Some folks who say they had a bad church experience actually were the bad church experience." Make sure that you are not the bad church experience!
Also remember that there are no perfect churches:
The Perfect Church
If you could find the perfect church,
Without one fault or smear,
For goodness sake don't join that church,
You'd spoil the atmophere.
But since no perfect church exists,
Where people never sin,
Let's cease to look for the perfect church,
And Love the one we're in!
Our responsibility as Christians is to join a Bible believing (FUNDAMENTAL INDEPENDENT BAPTIST) church and serve through it til Jesus calls us home either by the rapture or death. Let's not look for reasons to jump ship, but rather look for reasons to stay aboard.
Too many today are always looking for greener pastures. It's just sad when they find them over a septic tank!
May God bless you as you faithfully serve him in the local church of HIS (not your) choice.
Saturday, May 21, 2011
THOSE DREADFUL ITALICS
By an Unknown Pastor
Another objection frequently raised against the Authorized Version is that its translators added words. The critic will point to the italicized words in the King James Bible and the babe-in- Christ stares at them with a mixture of dread, embarrassment, and unbelief "To think the book I trusted has been toyed with," comes the thought of doubt, sown as skillfully as it was in Eden.
First, there are words in the Authorized Version which are not found in the Hebrew and Greek texts. In fact, there are over 773,670 of them. Apart from an occasional allelujah, cumi or Apollyon, none of the words in an English Bible are found in the scriptures of any Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic manuscripts.
Second, we have translations because languages are different. I'm not trying to be insulting, but we live in a generation that does not know how to think logically. Since languages are different one must use different words in one language to make the EXACT statement contained in another language. Failure to use the necessary words would result in an interpretation or a paraphrase, but not a translation.
For example: I go to Mexico for a visit. I forget my toothbrush. Needing one to maintain relationships 1 go down to the corner store. I ask for a "cepillo de dientes." I need three words in Spanish to say the very same thing which one word covers in English. I am accurately translating.
Whenever the translators of the Authorized Version met with such a situation, they put the words in italics. This consent to absolute honesty stands as one of the great arguments for the A.V. text and the integrity of its translators. All versions must make such "additions" in order to bring a manuscript from one language to another.
The producers of the new Bibles not only fail to identify such places in their work, but, by pointing scornfully to the italicized words in the A.V., imply that they did not use such methods. Naughty, naughty!
Friday, April 22, 2011
Jeremiah 25:1-28 Drinking from the Cup
In this passage of Scripture, Jeremiah is commanded by God to go and cause the people to drink from a cup. There are several cups from which you can drink from: Some of the cups we will be made to drink from while others we will desire to drink from.
I. The Cup of Wrath:
- Ps 75:8 For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup, and the wine is red; it is full of mixture; and he poureth out of the same: but the dregs thereof, all the wicked of the earth shall wring them out, and drink them.
- Isa 51:17 Awake, awake, stand up, O Jerusalem, which hast drunk at the hand of the LORD the cup of his fury; thou hast drunken the dregs of the cup of trembling, and wrung them out.
- Re 14:10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
- Ps 11:6 Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup.
II. The Cup of Salvation:
Thank God that Jesus Christ drank the cup of the wrath of God on the Cross.
- Mt 26:39 And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.
Mt 26:42 He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.
Now I am not appointed to wrath!
- 1 Thess 5:
9-11 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.
III. The Cup of Sufferings
- Mt 20:22,23 But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able.
This is the Fellowship of Sufferings
- Php 3:10
- Ro 8:18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
- 2Co 1:5-7 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.
IV. The Cup of Remembrance:
- 1Co 11:25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.
V. The Cup of Blessing
- Ps 23:5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Eph 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
Ephesians 3:11-l5 The Church Family v. 15
Here in Ephesians chapter 3 we read of the family of God! Who is in this whole family? Only those who have been adopted into this specific family! Galatians 4:4-4 "But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons." Thank God that the Lord Jesus Christ was sent to this earth and die on the cross that fallen man might be adopted into the family of God. There are two truths that we can learn from this adoption.
1. We are wanted
2Pe 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
2. We are Accepted
Eph 1:6 To the the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
The O. T. would not accept the gentile into full fellowship but in Christ Jesus we are accepted into the fellowship of the family of God.
There is nothing in all the world that can compare with being in the family of God! I am glad that I am in. How about you! It is a blessed thing to be part of the family of God. Why?
I. We have Family Relationships
A. We have a Heavenly Father
Joh 20:17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.
Ro 8:15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
Php 4:20 Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
1Th 3:13 To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.
2Th 2:16 Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,
1Ti 1:2 Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.
B. We have Brothers and sisters in Christ
Joh 11:52 And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.
Ac 9:17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.
II. We have Family Responsibilities
A. Responsibility of Love
1Th 4:9 But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.
Ro 12:10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
B. Responsibility of Forgiveness
Mr 11:26 But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.
Eph 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
Col 3:13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
NOTE: Forbear means to endure/ to put up with
C. Responsibility of Mercy
Lu 6:36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
D. Responsibility of Unification
1Co 1:10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
E. Responsibility of Prayer
Jas 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
F. Responsibility of Encouragement
1Th 5:11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.
III. We have Family Resemblances (Romans 6:1-5)
NOTE: The Word likeness means "Resemblance".
Col 3:10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:
2Co 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
Ro 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
IV. We have Family Resources (Romans 8:31, 32)
A. We have help from our Father
NOTE: As an individual and as a church!
Ps 50:10 For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.
Mt 6:8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.
Ps 37:25 I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.
B. We have help from the Brethren
I John 3:16-18, "Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth."
2Co 8:14 But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality:
James 2: 15, 16, " If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?"
Ac 20:35 I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.
V. We WILL HAVE a Family Reunion I Thessalonians 4:13-18
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Monday, September 13, 2010
"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.
Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers; Which have borne witness of thy charity before the church: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well: Because that for his name’s sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles. We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellowhelpers to the truth."
In this passage of Scripture the Apostle John is writing a church and in this letter we find that he gives the testimony of these people. John gave witness to three truths concerning this church and some of its individual members:
I. A Witness of their Walk (vs. 3, 4)
II. A Witness of their Works (vs. 5, 6)
III. A Witness of their Workmen (vs. 1, 9, 12)
While John gives us many truths in this epistle, the thought that the Lord gave me is this: No matter how I try to put up a facade people, through my day to day life, know who I really am.
The Bible states in 1Corinthians 8:3, "But if any man love God, the same is known of him." This verse teaches that if a man really loves God people know it!
This passage in III John and also the verse in 1 Corinthians is very convicting.
My heart's desire as a pastor, parent, husband, & friend is that I might be real! I do not want to be hypocritical in my preachings and lifestyle! I wish to not hinder the cause of Christ by being fake in deed and attitude!
I know that no matter who we are or how long we have been serving the Lord that there will be some inconsistencies in our lives. (Ecclesiastes 7:20, "For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.")But each of us should desire, day by day, to allow the Spirit of God through his Word and by prayer to change us more and more into the image of Christ.
2Corinthians 3:18 "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord."
Romans 12:2, "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."
Whether we like it or not each believer has a testimony before the world, his church and his family! Oh, may the Lord Jesus Christ help each one of us to be more like Christ as we try to serve him "in sincerity and in truth". (Joshua 24:14 "Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD.")
Thursday, February 18, 2010
I believe that this article is a must read for fundamental baptists who desire to stand Scripturally against the modern day pseudo-fundamentalist movement i.e. the emerging church philosophy.
Here is what was written:
A foundational teaching of the conservative emerging church is the idea that Jesus was incarnated into the culture of this world and the Christian is commissioned to do the same thing. They call this “missional.” Note the following statements by Mark Driscoll:
“Jesus’ incarnation is in itself missional. God the Father sent God the Son into culture on a mission to redeem the elect by the power of God the Ghost. After his resurrection, Jesus also sent his disciples into culture, on a mission to proclaim the success of his mission, and commissioned all Christians to likewise be missionaries to the cultures of the world (e.g., Matt. 28:18-20; John 20:21; Acts 1:7-8). Emerging and missional Christians have wonderfully rediscovered the significance of Jesus’ incarnational example of being a missionary immersed in a culture” (Confessions of a Reformission Rev., p. 26).
“Missions is every Christian being a missionary to their local culture” (Confessions of a Reformission Rev., p. 19).
The liberal emerging church believes the same thing. Mars Hill Graduate School proclaims:
“We believe a person or community can never receive a hearing, nor offer the gospel, unless it incarnates the gospel through joyful participation in a culture's glory and honest engagement in its darkness. We wish to develop lovers of language, story, drama, film, music, dance, architecture, and art in order to deepen our love of life and the God of all creativity” (Mars Hill Graduate School, http://www.mhgs.edu/common/about.asp#scpriture).
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY?
In answering this we must first emphasize that every Christian IS to be a missionary, and this is an important and biblical challenge.
Too many members of even staunch Bible-believing churches are half-hearted at best about evangelism and have little or no concern for the unsaved. Too often we don’t even pass out gospel tracts; we don’t spend time each week sharing the gospel with sinners; we don’t befriend unbelievers with the goal of winning them to Christ; and we don’t have any unbelievers on our daily prayer list.
The conservative emerging church challenges believers to take their responsibility as ambassadors for Christ seriously, and that is something that needs to be shouted from the rooftops. Consider the following challenge:
“At a recent staff retreat we each wrote out ‘missionary letters’ like overseas missionaries do when they raise support. We wanted to ask how we are doing as ‘missionaries’ and what stories we would tell. How do we schedule our week as missionaries?” (Listening to the Beliefs of Emerging Churches, p. 103).
This is a good idea. Each member of a New Testament church should consider himself or herself a missionary and should be fully engaged in missionary work. Writing a missionary prayer letter would help the individual see how seriously he is taking this work.
Along this line, it is important for believers to be equipped to deal with the people they meet, whether they are Hindus or Buddhists or New Agers or agnostic evolutionists or whatever. Consider the following statement:
“Our culture is now flooded with pluralistic religions and mixed spiritual beliefs. Our culture is spinning out of control with sexual, religious, and moral confusion and choices. How do we respond to the somewhat parallel words of Jesus and Buddha? How do we answer the pro-gay theological arguments given today? What about euthanasia? What about women in ministry?” (Listening to the Beliefs of Emerging Churches, p. 87).
That is a good challenge. Believers should be trained to deal with people wherever they might be in their thinking. In particular, we need to learn how to use the Bible effectively. It is not enough to know a simple Romans Road plan of salvation.
In 1973 I was pursuing a self-centered life of pleasure and had cobbled together a religious philosophy from bits of the Bible, Hinduism (via Paramahansa Yogananda and the Self-Realization Fellowship Society), Christian Science, Buddhism (via Herman Hesse), New Age (via The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ), and other things. One day I was driving in my car near Miami, Florida, and passed by a man riding on a bicycle. For some reason, I turned the car around and pulled alongside of him and asked him where he was going. He said he was going to Mexico. I told him that I was going a couple hundred miles north to Lakeland and offered to give him a ride. He agreed, so we put the bicycle into the trunk of the car and drove down the road. I broached the subject of religion and asked him if he believed in God. He said, “Yes,” and pulled a Bible out of his pocket and we began discussing the serious issues of life. As it turned out, I spent four or so days with the man, traveling from Florida to Mexico and back to Florida, and I was converted to Christ at the end of that journey.
The reason why I was willing to travel with him to Mexico in the first place was that I was impressed with his knowledge of the Bible. He was able to answer my questions and challenges with appropriate and powerful statements from Scripture, and he could take me right to the passages. I was amazed that the Bible was so practical. When I told him that I believed in reincarnation, he showed me Hebrews 9:27, which says that men are appointed to die once and then the judgment. When I told him that I was following my heart, he showed me Jeremiah 17:9, which says the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. When I told him that I believed that God will accept any man as long as he is sincere in his faith, he showed me Proverbs 14:12, which says there is a way that seems right to a man but the end thereof are the ways of death. When I told him that I believed that there were many paths to God, he showed me John 14:6 and Acts 4:12. When I told him that I didn’t believe it was possible to know the truth for certain, he showed me John 7:17 and 8:31-32.
I am thankful that this man was equipped to deal with me effectively.
The challenge that churches need to equip the saints to do the work of evangelism in this age is an important one that we need to take seriously. Churches should offer courses on how to understand and deal with Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, New Age, and whatever other isms that we have to confront today. At the very least they should make good literature readily available for private study on these things.
But above all, they should train the people to be serious students of the Bible so they can answer people with God’s infallible Word.
The emerging church also challenges Christians to be hospitable to unbelievers and not to keep them at arm’s length, and that is a good challenge. Consider the following:
“Very simply, we need to show grace-giving acceptance more than behavior-centered judgment to an unbelieving world. The problem with practicing this theology comes down to messiness. If we really live out grace, not just as words we say, but as a way we treat people, all kinds of messy people may just feel accepted enough to crash our church-party, and that would feel a lot different than the party of near-perfect people some of us have come to enjoy. But that’s how grace works--by making beauty out of ugly things. If you owned a Rembrandt covered in mud, you wouldn’t focus on the mud or treat it like mud. Your primary concern would not be the mud at all, though it would need to be removed. You’d be ecstatic to have something so valuable in your care. But if you tried to clean the painting by yourself, you might damage it. So you would carefully bring this work of art to a master who could guide you and help you restore it to the condition originally intended. When people begin treating one another as God’s masterpiece waiting to be revealed, God’s grace grows in their lives and cleanses them. We have watched gay people, radical feminists, atheistic Harvard grads, homeless crack addicts, couples living together, porn addicts, and greedy materialists come into our church, hang out around the body of Christ, find faith, change, and grow to wholeheartedly follow Christ (but for some it takes a long time, and some never change). Could those people, good and bad, come to your church? Can you picture it?” (Listening to the Beliefs of Emerging Churches, pp. 66, 67).
While we reject the New Evangelical non-judgmental philosophy in no uncertain terms (see Ephesians 5:11; 2 Timothy 4:2; Titus 2:15), it is true that believers should extend God’s grace to other sinners in a compassionate and friendly and patient manner.
I am thankful that I know many Biblicist churches that do this.
I think of the man who led me to Jesus Christ. When I met him I was a hitchhiking, drug-abusing, jail-going, Hindu meditation practicing reprobate, but he loved me enough to spend a few days with me, putting up with my worldly behavior, my constant smoking, my foul mouth and pathetically proud attitude, patiently answering my brash challenges from Scripture. After a couple of days I told him it was ridiculous to base all of one’s thinking on the Bible and that he should toss his Bible out the window so we could have a decent conversation. I reproved him for quoting Scripture and not having any thoughts of his own. In spite of this he stayed with me and even shared his hard-earned money with me, because I didn’t have any, and he bought me a beautiful leather-bound Bible and a Strong’s Concordance.
I think of the first church I joined after I was saved. The founding family of that church, the Hooveners, opened their home to young people who were in the world and loved many of them to Christ and discipled them, and as a result young people went out of there to Bible College and then on to serve the Lord in various ministries. I was already saved when I met them, but I was a new Christian and still had shoulder-length hair and smoked and loved rock music and trashy movies and had a lot of emotional problems that stemmed from heavy drug use. They loved me and instructed and discipled me, and as a result I gradually cut my hair and quit smoking and gave up rock music and gained some emotional stability and confidence and began to be grounded in a right understanding of the Scripture.
I think of one of my cousins in Florida. He opens his home one evening each month to people who are visiting America from other countries. He has traveled extensively to various parts of the world and thus understands foreigners better than the average American, but it is his Christian love and kindness that is the main attraction. He invites some of his Christian friends and relatives to join them, and they play games and talk and just get to know one another, and they also witness to the unbelievers and invite them to church.
I think of a church in Norfolk, Virginia, pastored by a friend named Jerry Matson. For decades, he has ministered to sailors who work on commercial ships that dock at the nearby shipyard. He goes on the ships and meets the men and invites them to visit his service center. There they are befriended and loved and fed and entertained and allowed to make phone calls home and are patiently taught the gospel of Jesus Christ. As a result, some have come to Christ and gone back to their homes in various parts of the world as missionaries.
In our missionary work in South Asia, we try to make Hindus feel welcome in our church services and encourage them to stay afterwards so that we can answer their questions about Christ and the Bible. We serve snacks and drinks. It usually takes several weeks and even months before they really understand the gospel and come to repentance and faith. Some Hindus have also lived at our house for various periods of time.
That being said, we do not agree with the idea that Jesus was a missionary to culture or that believers are missionaries to culture.
First, Jesus was not a missionary to culture but to people.
Christ came to seek and to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). It is the people in the world that God loves, not the culture of the world (John 3:16). Jesus did not adapt Himself to man’s culture so much as He challenged it. He did not do what was expected, neither what was expected by the Jews nor what was expected by the Gentiles. He boldly disregarded the tradition of the Jews as well as that of the Samaritans (Matthew 15:1-2; Luke 6:1-9; John 4:9, 20-23). Christ did not give us an example of being a “missionary to culture” but of being a missionary to men while challenging culture.
Second, believers are not commanded to be missionaries to cultures but to preach the gospel to people.
Driscoll actually sites the Great Commission as support for his doctrine (Matthew 28:18-20; John 20:21; Acts 1:8-8), but these passages say nothing about being incarnated like Jesus or being a missionary to culture. The Great Commission says we are to preach and baptize and teach and disciple. We are to “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). Preaching the gospel to every nation and baptizing and making disciples does not add up to the emerging church’s incarnational doctrine or to the idea of being a missionary to culture.
John 20:21 is perhaps vague enough to support such a doctrine, but only if it had support from elsewhere in the New Testament. In John 20:21 Jesus said, “Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.” If this verse were isolated, it might be construed as saying that as Jesus was incarnated so must the believer be incarnated, but this interpretation is contradicted by the wider context. The Lord Jesus gave the Great Commission five times in the Gospels and Acts (Matthew 28:28-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:44-48; John 20:21; Acts 1:8). To interpret John 20:21 as saying something different than the other references is a presumptuous exegesis. What Jesus was saying in John 20:21 is that as the Father sent Him to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15; 1 John 4:14), even so should His followers dedicate their lives to the same task.
Third, the book of Acts gives the divinely-inspired example of the fulfillment of the Great Commission, and there we do not see the Christians being incarnated like Jesus or being missionaries to culture.
In Acts we see the believers living holy, separated lives, preaching the gospel to unbelievers in the power of the Holy Spirit, and baptizing and discipling those that God saved.
What is needed to reach unbelievers is not incarnating into their culture but simply preaching the gospel with power. You don’t have to understand or appreciate their music or know anything about their movie stars or think their fashion is cool. You just have to care about them and proclaim God’s message of reconciliation in a biblical fashion. That is what we see in the book of Acts.
I think of my wife. She has worked with Hindus in South Asia since she first went there as a single missionary nurse in 1975. She doesn’t dress like a Hindu or listen to their music or watch their movies. She isn’t even an expert on Hinduism. She just loves them and patiently tells them about Jesus, and she has seen many of them come to Christ.
I think about my maternal grandmother. When I was out in the world far from Christ, she didn’t know anything about my music and philosophies and ways, but she loved me and always reminded me of Jesus and the Bible and prayed for me with fasting and tears, and in this way she had a great part in my conversion.
It is true that people live in cultures and we must try to communicate the gospel in a way that they can understand, but this does not add up to being a missionary to a culture.
The missionary to culture idea smacks of an excuse to be worldly even while claiming to be holy, to love rock & roll, beer and gambling, R-rated movies, and champagne dance parties.
Fourth, culture is not innocent.
Culture is permeated with sin and idolatry, because it was fashioned by rebellious men and is part of the darkness of this world ruled by the devil (2 Cor. 4:4). Take the South Asian culture, for example. It is permeated with idolatrous Hinduism and Buddhism as well as evil western influences, and the missionary must teach the people to reject everything in the culture that is associated with idolatry and darkness. We do not build western style churches there, but we do teach the believers to reject everything within the culture that is wrong. In the churches we plant in South Asia the people speak their own languages and sit on the floor and shake their heads sideways to indicate yes and wear saris and kurta sudawals and eat daal baht with their fingers and never hand you something with the right hand and typically come to services late, all of which are cultural customs. But they do not wear “holy strings” or tikas or red saris or anything else associated with Hinduism, and they learn how to wear their saris and kurta sudawals in a modest manner and how to reject the immodest unisex fashions that are coming from the West and they learn that “spiritual songs” acceptable to a holy God are different in character than the world’s party music. The music that our churches sing is largely indigenous, written by national Christians, but it sounds distinctly different from the music that is heard on the FM pop stations or in the pagan festivals.
Finally, the apostle Paul did not support the “be like them to win them” philosophy.
Paul’s statements that “all things are lawful to me” and “I am made all things to all men” have been wrongly used to justify the “missionary to the culture” philosophy. We have considered these verses in their proper context in the chapter on the liberal emerging church. See “Liberal Emerging Church Error # 9: Worldliness.”