It is time for Christians to wake up.

tebowThe recent admission by NBA player Jason Collins that he is gay has been embraced by the media.  This is really not news.  The media has been in the tank for Gay Rights for decades.  In the beginning their bent was veiled.  Now it is nothing less than open advocacy.  This used to be the domain of the Left, but no longer.  Recently a major GOP PAC, American Unity PAC, lead by Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, has come out in favor of same-sex marriage.  So much for social conservatism.  The GOP has always been one step behind Democrats on social issues.  Believe it or not, I think this is a good thing.  I welcome the media discarding even its last bit of pretense.  I welcome the GOP’s honesty in revealing it’s all about votes and power, not conviction.  I take an opposite view than most Christians.  Thank you mainstream media and the GOP for your honesty.

For too long the religious Right in America courted the favor of the GOP while vilifying the Democratic party.  Conservative office holders and candidates would throw the religious Right a few table scraps – enough to keep them satisfied and retain their vote.  But now the Republican Party realizes that it cannot win on a national basis without embracing the social mores of the day.  Even though that means turning their backs on the religious Right, Republican strategists figure that the socially moderate to liberal voting block has more of an ROI.  Politically active Christians have been nibbling at the heels of third party candidates or even Ron Paul.  They are looking for someone to validate their values and their message.  Unfortunately they are looking in the wrong place.

America’s hope rests in the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.  After every political party has finished kicking the Church to the curb, the Gospel still remains “the power of God unto salvation for all who will believe” (Rom. 1:16).  The world is a fallen place.  It is corrupt from head to foot.  Nothing this world has to offer can satisfy man’s deepest need and greatest longing.  Even if your political party won the presidency and both houses of Congress, society’s headlong rush into sin and depravity would nary be stopped for a nanosecond.  But the Gospel!  Ah, that is a different story.  The Gospel’s success is not measured by an electoral college, but by repentance from sin and true faith in the risen Son of God.  Perhaps God is in the process of pruning His Church.  As times goes by those Christians that have counted the cost, and decided to remain resolute in their profession, will almost certainly feel the wrath and scorn of a “tolerant” society.  But happy they will be!  Better to suffer for the sake of Christ, then to compromise and receive the praise of the world.

Please do not take my words as a suggestion not to be politically involved.  Political participation is certainly an option.  But be involved with your eyes wide open.  Beware of yoking yourself to a political party instead of Christ and His Church.  That is why I think good will become of today’s social and moral collapse.  Light always shines brightest in the darkness; and as society darkens the beacon of the Gospel will shine brighter.  Many will be saved out of this present darkness and their citizenship transferred to the kingdom of light.

Soli Deo Gloria!

What are you most known for, your politics or your faith? Part III

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The following was originally published at the Ligonier Ministries Facebook page.  While I enjoy writing original content there is nothing more I can add to this Ligonier post.  Christian, before you cast your vote for an “economic” conservative, or buy into the “big tent” fallacy, consider your Christian obligation.

God calls us to think His thoughts after Him. That means all of His thoughts. That is, we ought to have a sound and biblical view on everything the Bible touches on. Where it touches on political issues, we are called, again to have sound biblical views. We need to think biblically about what is just war and what is not. We need to think faithfully about taxation, and the size and scope of government. We need to think through what obligation, if any the state has to protect property, to protect our lives.

That said, there are precious few things that frustrate me more about the evangelical right than its utter foolishness with respect to proportion politically. We bundle together this issue and that, everything from tax rates to school vouchers to flag burning to abortion, and call it “family values.” There is a right and a wrong answer on all these issues. But abortion is not like any of the others. It stands out all on its own. In a hundred years, the Christian church will not hang its head in shame that it did so little to pass a Constitutional Amendment against the burning of the flag. In a hundred years, no elderly Christian will be looked at with suspicion by the younger generation because they didn’t do more to lower the tax rate. In a hundred years, if God should be so gracious, we will be looked upon as that godless generation of the church that watched tens of millions of babies go to their deaths. Indeed, we’ll be remembered as those “Christians” who elected men to office who believed that the state ought to protect the rights of some mothers to murder their babies.

It is unfair to draw too tight a comparison between abortion in America and the Holocaust in Nazi Germany. There are significant differences. First, the Holocaust was carried out, by and large, in secret. The rank and file Germans had no idea what was going on. We, on the other hand, every last one of us, woke up today knowing that four thousand babies would die today. We, on the other hand, have four thousand mothers, every day, who knowingly do this. We, on the other hand, have four thousand fathers, boyfriends and husbands who every day encourage this. The Holocaust lasted roughly ten years, and the Nazi’s killed roughly six million people. We, on the other hand, have been at this for 35 years, and have killed more than fifty million babies. It is an unfair comparison, unfair to the Nazis. We are far worse monsters.

How much weight should our opposition carry? I have purposed in my heart that I would never vote for a man for any office that is not committed to using every power at his disposal to protect and defend every unborn child. Never. Ever. If every Christian would simply make that simple pledge, then we would win this battle. As it stands, at best we vote for candidates who might nominate or support judicial candidates who might vote for this small impediment or that to abortion on demand. At worst, we vote for the guy with the R by his name. We need to get rid of our strategies, and get on our knees in repentance. We need to stop negotiating with candidates over the bodies of dead babies.

STOP the press! Here is Glenn Beck on the atonement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to Lawrence Underwood at Imprimis for providing the full quote of Glenn Beck’s comments on his faith in the atonement.  This comes from todays radio broadcast via transcript.

How many times, America, is this man going to talk about collective salvation, which is “I’ve got to save all the half monkey people or I don’t get saved.” It is, it is an affront to Christianity. And when I say Christianity, I know there are people like Jim Wallis, you know, who vehemently disagree. I know there are Marxists out there that believe in the liberation theology which is, again, collective salvation. I get that. And I know there are a lot of Christians out there that don’t think I’m a Christian because I’m a Mormon. I testify to you now that Jesus Christ is my savior and He saved me. The only reason why I am alive today is because of the atonement of Jesus Christ. Period. So let’s move on.

Looks good at a cursory glance, doesn’t it?  That’s until the atonement and salvation are defined the Mormon way.

What are you most known for, your politics or your faith? Part II

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is Glenn Beck a Christian?  Interesting question to start off this article, isn’t it?

This morning I was driving in Montgomery County, Maryland when I came across Glenn Beck’s radio program.  I must admit that I’m drawn to some aspects of Beck’s political views.  Beck has been known to talk about religion on his program.  However, today he tackled a subject head on; a subject that many Christians have wondered about.  Beck responded to criticism from other Christians as to whether he, himself, is actually a Christian.  I don’t have access to Beck’s program transcript, so I’ll have to paraphrase his statements.  Glenn Beck said that he is both a Christian and a Mormon.  He tried to tie evangelical Christianity and Mormonism to the atoning work of Jesus Christ.  He said that he has placed his faith in Christ and the atonement that He accomplished.  Therefore, Beck is a Christian (according to him).  He then added a, “Now that that is settled, lets move on.”  But is it really settled?  Are we to accept Beck’s contention that his faith in Christ is the same as what the bible teaches?  Do Mormons believe in the same atonement that the vast majority of Christians do?  Seeing as this blog marches to a distinct Reformed drum, is the faith and atonement that Beck espouses in congruence with Reformed tradition?  The Christian Apologetics & Research  Ministry examines Mormonism in detail.  Since Beck spoke this morning about the atonement, let me share what CARM has to say about Mormonism’s view:

Mormonism and the atonement of Jesus

The Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints does not view the atonement of Christ in the biblical and historical Christian manner. Instead of the atonement occurring on the cross, Mormonism teaches that the atonement occurred primarily in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus shed His blood. Please consider the following quotes from a BYU professor and the Mormon apostle Bruce McConkie.

  • BYU professor Robert J. Matthews, who on page 282 of his book, A Bible! A Bible!, wrote, “It was in Gethsemane, on the slopes of the Mount of Olives, that Jesus made his perfect atonement by the shedding of his blood-more so than on the cross.”
  • Mormon Apostle Bruce McConkie, stated, “Where and under what circumstances was the atoning sacrifice of the Son of God made? Was it on the Cross of Calvary or in the Garden of Gethsemane? It is to the Cross of Christ that most Christians look when centering their attention upon the infinite and eternal atonement. And certainly the sacrifice of our Lord was completed when he was lifted up by men; also, that part of his life and suffering is more dramatic and, perhaps, more soul stirring. But in reality the pain and suffering, the triumph and grandeur, of the atonement took place primarily in Gethsemane,” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, vol. 1, p. 774, emphasis mine).
  • For more quotes regarding the atonement and Mormonism please see Interesting Quotes on the Atonement from Mormon writings.

There is no biblical record of Jesus atoning for our sins in the Garden of Gethsemane. The Garden is where He suffered greatly in prayer because He did not want to go through the coming ordeal of His beating and crucifixion. The agony of the Garden was so intense for Him that He apparently sweat blood (Luke 22:44). But, the only references in the Bible dealing with Christ and the atonement are in reference to the cross, not the Garden of Gethsemane.

  1. Reconciliation is through the cross:
    1. “And might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity,” (Eph. 2:16).
    2. “And through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven,” (Col. 1:20).
  2. Our debt nailed to the cross
    1. “Having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross,” (Col. 2:14).
  3. He bore our sins on the cross
    1. “And He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed,” (1 Pet. 2:24).
  4. Reconciled through Christ’s death — which occurred on the cross.
    1. “For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life,” (Rom. 5:10).
    2. “Yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach,” (Col. 1:22).

Paul says, “For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified,” (1 Cor. 2:2). He does not mention anything, ever, about Jesus bearing our sins in the Garden. He only mentions sins in relation to the cross of Christ. Wherein did God purchase the church with His own blood (Acts 20:28)? It was the cross, not the Garden.

Propitiation

A propitiation is a sacrifice that turns away wrath. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was just such a propitiation. It was on the cross where Jesus bore our sins (1 Pet. 2:24) where he became a propitiation, the sacrifice for our sins. Notice that the sacrifice on the cross is a public event and it is this public display where propitiation occurred: “whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith,” (Rom. 3:25). When Jesus sweat drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane, that was not a public display. Therefore, the sacrifice of redemption, where Jesus bore our sins as the propitiation, did not occur in the Garden of Gethsemane, but in the public display of the cross. Thus, when we see the term propitiation referred to in Scripture, we know it is referring to the sacrifice on the cross. Let’s take a look at more Scriptures dealing with this:

  • “Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people,” (Heb. 2:17).
  • “And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world,” (1 John 2:2).
  • “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins,” (1 John 4:10).

Notice that Jesus, the high priest, was the propitiation for our sins. This means that He bore our sins in His body on the cross (1 Pet. 2:24), as a publicly displayed sacrifice (Rom. 3:25) by which we are cleansed from our sins (1 John 1:7). It is not the blood that He sweat in the Garden that cleanses us of our sins, but the blood that was shed in the public display of the propitiatory sacrifice on the cross that cleanses us. This is why the scripture says, “and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity,” (Eph. 2:16).

In Conclusion

There is so much wrong with Mormon theology to begin with (plurality of gods, goddess mother, becoming gods, keeping the commandments to be forgiven, etc.), that it is no surprise to learn that Mormonism lays the emphasis of the redemptive work of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane instead of the cross.

  • “Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, all mankind, even as many as will, shall be redeemed. The Savior began shedding His blood for all mankind, not on the cross but in the Garden of Gethsemane. There He took upon Himself the weight of the sins of all who would ever live. Under that [page 6] heavy load, He bled at every pore,” (Russell M. Nelson, “His Mission and Ministry,” New Era, Dec. 1999, p. 4, 6, emphasis mine).
  • “Jesus paid for all our sins when He suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane,” (Laurel Rohlfing, “Sharing Time: The Atonement,” Friend, Mar. 1989, p. 39).

Error comes from error. If the Mormon church would only repent of its false doctrines and come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, the true Jesus Christ, who bore our sins in His body on the cross and redeemed us freely, then the Mormons could also enjoy the free forgiveness of sins earned by Christ. Instead, because of the error of Mormonism regarding God and salvation, Mormons are still under the law and are required to obey all the commandments in order to receive the atonement work of Christ.

  • We accept Christ’s atonement by repenting of our sins, being baptized, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and obeying all of the commandments,” (Gospel Principles, Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1979, p. 68, emphasis mine).

Nobody can obey all the commandments and to try in any way is to take on an impossible burden of guilt: “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all,” (James 2:10). And, “nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified,” (Gal. 2:16). Therefore, not only is the Mormon position dealing with the atonement false, but so is its doctrine of salvation. Mormons are, unfortunately, still dead in their sins.

The True Gospel

The true gospel is that Jesus Christ, who is God in flesh, obeyed perfectly all the Old Testament laws. He fulfilled everything and never sinned. It was necessary that He do this because we could never do it. Because our works are filthy rags before God (Isaiah 64:6), there is absolutely nothing we have to offer God. The only thing we have is what Christ has done and the only way to be forgiven of our sins is to trust in Christ alone. But in Mormonism, Christ is the brother of the devil begotten through sexual relations between God and his goddess wife who both came from another planet. This is not the Jesus of the Bible. This is critical because the object of the Mormons faith is false. And since we have seen that their doctrine of the atonement is also wrong, we can now recognize more easily that they are lost.

Salvation, complete forgiveness of sins, does not come through obedience to the laws and the commandments. Complete forgiveness of sins comes by faith in Jesus Christ, the Jesus of the Bible, not the Jesus of Mormonism.

It is clear that Mormonism has a different view of the atonement than biblical Christianity.  Unless Glenn Beck is willing to repudiate the Mormon view of the atonement we must conclude that he agrees with it.  Mormons do not look to the cross where the propitiation (satisfaction) for sin was accomplished, by Christ.  Mormons believe that Jesus Christ is not God the Son, part of the Holy Trinity.  They believe Jesus and Satan are physical sons of God the Father.  These are not just minor points of doctrinal disagreement.  If you get the Son of God wrong you get the Gospel wrong.  If you get the Gospel wrong there is no hope of salvation.

Is Glenn Beck a Christian?  Not if he holds to Mormon orthodoxy.  What does this have to do with Christians and politics?  Be careful of who you choose to be your political heroes.  I have run into Christians who are willing to dismiss Beck’s Mormonism for the greater good of his politics.  The greater good of his politics? How about dismissing his politics for the greater good of the true Gospel?  There is to be no compromise when it comes to the Gospel.  There is to be no compromise when it comes to true biblical faith.

Matthew 16:6  And Jesus said to them, “Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

What are you most known for, your politics or your faith? Part I

When I was a bible college student some twenty-two years ago, the founder of the college made the following statement during a chapel service, “If God has called you to preach, never stoop to be President.”  The man who made that statement was Jack Wyrtzen, one of the founders of Word of Life Fellowship International.  While my theological perspective has grown to be quite different than that of Word of Life, that statement by Jack Wyrtzen still echos in my mind.  What Jack (he always insisted on being called by his first name) was really saying was that the preaching of the Gospel is a higher calling than political office.  In fact, if Jack were alive today he would tell you that it is the highest of all callings.

This is a difficult article for me to write.  I am extremely passionate about my political opinions.  I don’t try to hide them. In fact, I’ve been known to go out of my way to share them.  The question I need to answer – indeed, that we all need to answer is this: do people know us best because of our political convictions or our faith convictions?  John the Evangelist wrote, “And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:17).  The world is passing away.  Paul states in 1 Corinthians 2:6, that the rulers of this world are passing away.  On the other hand the bible is full of politics.  Even a cursory reading of the Old Testament will reveal the political tension that often accompanied some of the central figures; especially David and Solomon.  In the New Testament the Apostle Paul used his status as a Roman citizen to cut short his torture and then to appeal to Caesar (Acts 22:25-29; 25:11).  So, we see that politics and faith are often strange bedfellows.  How is the Christian to navigate through this quandary?  Must a Christian muzzle his political opinions for the greater progress of the Gospel, or does he have free reign in his political opinions and ambitions?

We’ll take a look at the possible answers to these questions in our next part.