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Archive for April, 2018

(Note: This is a guest post written by Erik.  I am currently away and I am thankful for Erik for this guest post.  If you have thoughts and questions, feel free to comment and when he has time he will respond.)

20 And He *came home, and the crowd *gathered again, to such an extent that they could not even eat a meal. 21 When His own people heard of this, they went out to take custody of Him; for they were saying, “He has lost His senses.

–Mark 3:20-21 from the NASB

Once again we see a strange behavior of Jesus to serve his followers with the word of God, even to His own detriment. This is not the first time Jesus has skipped a meal in preference to feed His people the word of God and heal the sick. We see many other examples of this throughout his ministry. (Mark 1:45, Mark 3:7, Mark 6:31) This is in contrast to the Pharisees and scribes of the period who often sought their own glory and praise from men, without sacrificing anything themselves. (Matthew 23) How sad and ironic, the place where Jesus so often based his ministry here in Capernaum, near those who saw Him grow into a young man and knew his family, that his family (most likely his brothers sent by his mother) would call him crazy or out of his mind to the crowds to seize Him and do what they thought was best for Him. Jesus calls for a different standard, a standard even more important than food.

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Note: This is a guest post.  This is by Dan Carwright.  He’s been a brother who has been iron sharpening iron with us on here and social media for years.  His blog can be found here.  He also tweets.

The title of this post is the first line of a popular late 60’s tune called Alfie that was the title song of a 1966 British film movie by the same name. The film tells the story of a young man who leads a self-centered life, purely for his own enjoyment, until events force him to question his uncaring behavior, his loneliness and his priorities. It was also the first film to receive the “suggested for mature audiences” classification by the Motion Picture Association of America in the US. The song asks Alfie about the real meaning of life.

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We at The Domain for Truth would like to express our sincerest gratitude to you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to do an interview with us.  It was not too long ago that SLIMJIM and myself fellowshipped briefly together at the Shepherds’ Conference with Pastor Costi.  Lord willing we will meet you one day Pastor Anthony.

For those of you who may not know, Pastor Costi and Anthony’s ministry does not comprise mainly on the WOF and NAR movements.  Both men spend a considerable amount of their lives devoted to expository preaching and shepherding a local church.  To find out more about their church you can visit: https://missionbible.org/

If the Lord leads, I encourage you to surf their site and pray for them.  They are one of the many good ministries out there that are aggressively and actively trying to reach folks enslaved to the WOF and NAR movement with the Gospel of grace.

Well, let us begin.

1) In essence, what is the WOF and NAR Movement?  How vast of a presence do they have in the world?

The abbreviations stand for “Word of Faith” and “New Apostolic Reformation.” The WOF and NAR movements are similar in some ways and very distinct in others. They are similar in that many of the NAR leaders employ WOF theology in their teaching. A very basic summary of WOF theology is that you can use the power of “confession” to control your reality. In other words, just like you can confess your sins and confess Christ as Lord (Romans 10:9; 1 John 1:9), you can also use the power of confession to confess a job promotion, perfect health, or a Bentley. Ultimately, WOF theology teaches that you are in control. This is where the NAR employs it. The NAR is a movement that teaches the office of “Apostle” is back and bigger than ever. They teach that modern day apostles are going to be running the modern day church. They teach that modern day apostles are “taking dominion” (much like WOF) over the earth and able to restore peace and prosperity through their authority and special gifts. The NAR believes that its adherents should be receiving direct revelation from God, performing miracles like raising the dead and growing people’s limbs, and doing these things and more on a daily basis at will. Even though it is clear in Scripture that the Holy Spirit is the only one who gives people the gifts “of the Spirit,” the NAR charges tuition and promises to teach people how to do signs and wonders. They also offer people the chance to pay money to become an “apostle.” These movements have a vast influence across the globe because people are desperate for the two things they falsely promise: peace and prosperity. Only Jesus can fulfill the deepest needs of the human heart. They trample on His Gospel.

2) Is there any particular leaders from these two camps that are most concerning to you?  I ask this because usually false teachers are charismatic and are good with mixing some unsound views with sound views.  J.C. Ryle once said, “Beware of supposing that a teacher of religion is to be trusted, because although he holds some unsound views, he yet ‘teaches a great deal of truth.’ Such a teacher is precisely the man to do you harm: poison is always most dangerous when it is given in small doses and mixed with wholesome food.”

Bill Johnson, Lou Engle, Todd White, Kris Valloton, Che Ahn, Heidi Baker, Kenneth Copeland, Michael Koulianos, Daniel Kolenda, Rick Joyner, Cindy Jacobs, and numerous others are the headliners. The music that the NAR has developed is topping #1 charts in Christian music as well. Bethel Music and Jesus Culture were both “birthed” out of Bethel Church and mentored by Bill Johnson. Hillsong is right in the same theological mix as these teachers and has historical roots in Word of Faith theology. The fact that this movement has infiltrated the most mainstream avenues of Christianity should be deeply concerning to any Christian who cares about the Gospel.

3) Do both these camps distort the Gospel?  If so, how?  It is a legalistic message?  Do they deny penal substitution or any core doctrines of Christianity?

The best way to sum it up is by using Bill Johnson’s own words. On page 29 of his book, When Heaven Invades Earth, he writes, ““He (Jesus) performed miracles, wonders, and signs, as a man in right relationship to God . . .not as God. If He performed miracles because He was God, then they would be unattainable for us.” Further on in his book (pages 87-88) he writes that, “He [Jesus] laid His divinity aside (see Phil 2:5–7) as He sought to fulfill the assignment given to Him by the Father.” This is outright heresy and is rooted in Kenotic Theory. No biblical theologian would ever sign off on these as orthodox, Christian beliefs. This flies in the face of what the Bible teaches about Jesus and His divinity. That being said, the NAR has to teach this or else they could not promote their supernatural schools or make money on people who believe they can become apostles. This belief system also lays the perfect foundation for their false claims that they are raising the dead, doing daily miracles, and living exactly as Jesus did.

4) What primary sources can believers go to in order to inspect their beliefs?  For orthodox believers we have confessions and statement of faiths.  Do they have something liken to that?

That’s precisely the problem. There beliefs are listed in ways that align with some historical orthodox beliefs so it can be difficult to spot. They do their damage through their books and sermons. Even orthodox creeds and confessions get used because the NAR will say they believe on those confessions too. For example, www.icaleaders.com is a site where people can become members of the International Coalition of Apostolic Leaders. On their “beliefs” page, they affirm Nicene Creed, Apostles Creed, and Lausanne Covenant. While this is an example of NAR material, there is no one statement and website that governs all of their beliefs and activities. There are numerous subgroups that have nuanced differences. It’s a perfect example of 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 in that they claim to be truth speakers but they are deceivers. Paul writes, “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.”

5) Do you recommend any books or resources that can help people defend the faith from these dangerous movements?

We wrote a book called, Defining Deception, in an effort to coalesce material and save people time. We read well over a dozen books (nearly half of those were by Bill Johnson and Kris Valloton from Bethel). We listened to countless hours of heretical sermons. We spoke with numerous followers of the NAR and some of their “up and comers” who told us we were “touching the Lord’s anointed” by writing the book. Defining Deception was written for the average Christian who does not have a master’s in theology but wants to grow and be challenged in theological discernment. Other books would most certainly include: A New Apostolic Reformation by R. Douglas Geivett and Holly Pivec and Strange Fire by John MacArthur.

6) What is the goal of the NAR Movement?  How can the church best prepare for them?

To usher in the kingdom of God by using their “apostolic authority” to heal, restore, and bring peace and prosperity on the earth. They see themselves infiltrating the highest places of society – including government. The church can best prepare by admitting there is an issue, then getting educated on the issue, and studying the Scriptures in order to know the truth.

7) Do they need to be evangelized?

Yes. We should always evangelize lost people. God is control of awakening their dead hearts, but we are in control of obeying! You never know who God will save through your evangelistic efforts.

8) Is it wrong for influential Christian leaders to be associating with them in conferences/events (e.g. IHOP, 110th anniversary of Pentecostal Azuza revival) together? 

In short, it’s not ok. No matter what the intention of influential Christian leaders, it confuses people who are weaker in their understanding and faith. Unless an influential leader is going to speak at a conference and call out sin and call the conference to repentance, it’s not a good idea to be mixing in with false teachers. We provided some in depth answers to this question in Defining Deception. The chapter is called, “The Shady World of Stage Sharing.”

9) Pastor Costi, recently your uncle: Benny Hinn, broadcasted from FB live (https://www.facebook.com/BennyHinnMinistries/videos/10156198529666450/).  Apparently he apologizes for teaching the prosperity message.  What are your thoughts on that?

Remorse isn’t repentance. The Scriptures are clear on that. Judas was remorseful when the implications of his horrendous betrayal hit him. Zacchaeus was repentant when he became aware of his sin. He went back and tried to make things right – paying back people and doing what he could to own up to his deception and exploitation of people. I hope my uncle will do the latter and blow us all away at how God can change anyone.

10) Why are you men passionate about rescuing people from these movements?

Because it’s what Christians do and what pastors are commanded to do! 2 Timothy 4:1-5. We actually believe what we are preaching and that impacts the way we live. There is no other purpose – or greater purpose – than living for the glory of Christ. This includes contending for the faith (Jude 3). Right now, the church must stand up for the truth like it always has when wolves seek to slaughter the sheep.

Well, this is the wrap-up of this very important meeting with these dear brothers. We thank you, Pastor Anthony and Costi for standing up for the truth in a day where compromise seems to be the norm.  May we pray for more godly saints to rise up and proclaim the Gospel in a dark and confusing world.  Sola scriptura! 

 

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(Note: This is a guest post written by Michael Coughlin who tweets here and blogs here.  I am currently away and thank Michael for this guest post.  If you have thoughts and questions, feel free to comment and when he has time he will respond.)

Yesterday, we reviewed four of the six reasonable categories one can fall in concerning their belief about the election of infacts. Many folks have argued whether babies go to Heaven for centuries. For the sake of ease of writing, I will use the term “infants” to describe those “who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.” (1689 LBCF 10.3)1

Here are the positions one can take.

  1. We know that ALL infants go to Hell when they die.
  2. We know that some infants go to Hell when they die, but some may go to Heaven.
  3. We don’t know where infants go when they die, and we can’t even guess. The Bible doesn’t say so we should be silent.
  4. We don’t know whether all infants go to Hell or Heaven, but we accept both are possible.
  5. We know that some infants go to Heaven when they die, but some may go to Hell.
  6. We know that ALL infants go to Heaven when they die.

Let’s look at the two remaining options in bold.

We don’t know whether all infants go to Hell or Heaven, but we accept both are possible.

This position seems to accept the idea that the Bible is not crystal clear on the topic. At least in the sense that there is no verse that says “All infants are elect of God,” while still being honest about the evidence given by those who think there are implications in Scripture about the election of infants. There are doctrinal truths which are clear and undeniable, lest you put yourself outside orthodox Christianity. In the case of infact election, it seems there is room to say, “Wow, I can see both sides of that argument,” and still be a faithful Christian. For example, this post from Founders Ministries gives a very good outline of the doctrine.

I will add this: if you fall into the belief that “we don’t know for sure, but it’s possible infants are elect” you have a choice when someone you know faces a miscarriage, a child’s death or the death of their loved one who never had the brain capacity above a toddler. Your options are

offer them a hope that their child was saved by the blood of the lamb and the mercy of God
throw your hands up and say I don’t know
or to try to convince them their loved one is now in hell. That is, their loved one they knew couldn’t understand the gospel, nor their own sin.
Which one of those options seems most comforting? Which one seems to glorify God in His goodness and mercy? Which one follows the pattern of God taking evil and using it for good? Look, if you fall in this “any infant has a chance at Heaven category,” then that means every infant has that hope. Why would you live any other way? We trust that the Lord will do right, and we can thus hope that we will see loved ones in Heaven who were not able to be outwardly called. So encourage one another this way.

My point is not that this makes universal infant salvation doctrinally true. What I am saying is that if you believe any infant may go to Heaven, you have no reason to not hope that for each infant. This is no different from looking at all non believers around you as people who could possibly be adopted into the family of God, even though you are sure many will not be. Real love offers hurting people rational hope. Assuming you think some infants go to Heaven, rational hope is to tell any grieving parent to hope to see their child again, and to trust the judge of all the earth shall do right.

We know that ALL infants go to Heaven when they die.

Here is the category of believers that is often under attack. Yet I showed earlier that if you believe ANY infant goes to Heaven when he or she dies, then you might as well behave as if they all do. For what reason would you ever have in this world to say to a hurting mother, “sorry, not your kid.” People in this group are accused of simply being emotional about it, but why is it considered so illogical to think that our God has a special love for children? Did he not have compassion for the children in Nineveh? (Jonah 4). Were not children a special part of Christ’s ministry prior to his death, burial and resurrection?

Opponents of this view rightly point out that this is not crystal clear in Scripture. I think that is a good argument. If, indeed, all infants go to Heaven, then it seems God may have hidden that from us, maybe in order to prevent us from concocting atrocities, in the name of sending souls to glory.

Another counter argument to this viewpoint is the one that says, “if all babies go to Heaven, then abortion is a good thing.” Let it not be so that anyone says this from regenerate mind. If it is so that God saves an aborted baby, that doesn’t make that abortion murder any more morally good than the crucifixion of Christ can be considered good or moral because it was used to save our souls! The fact that God does something wonderful with a wicked act neither validates that act nor does it make the agents of the act morally good!

I have seen someone say, if that is true, then people will kill their small children rather than risk them growing up and rejecting Christ. Again, if an evildoer would do this, (which they do), then you are blaming God for their evil. What you are saying is infant election cannot be universally true because it gives people authorization to do evil that good may come. God forbid! Knowing or believing God will do something good is never justification for evil. But secondly, if you believe in God’s sovereignty, then you know your child is either elect or not, and that that decision was made before your child was conceived. You can no more ensure your child’s election by murdering them than you can by reading the Bible to them daily. So it isn’t logical to say a reasonable parent would do that, and we are not responsible for how unreasoning beasts (Jude 1:10) manage God’s good truths. If infant election is true, the death of your infant does not secure their salvation, it is just an indicator of God’s grace, like a profession of faith in an older person.

What I find insulting is how opponents of this view characterize it as simply an emotional plea, when so many arguments from Scripture and logic have been put forth. Again, it may be emotional for many, but that doesn’t invalidate the argument. God created us to be emotional creatures. A people whose emotions are governed by the mind of Christ, taking every thought captive. Good doctrine can and should elicit emotions. Do not discount a brother’s argument about doctrine because he not only believes but feels strongly about it. Neither should sincere belief in a doctrine add weight to it from a debate perspective, of course!

In Conclusion

In conclusion, I believe there needs to be much charity on all sides of this debate, and folks need to seriously consider what are good and bad arguments concerning each of the positions above. I think Christians can glorify God through our love for one another as we hash out hard things together from His Word, and infant election is an historical doctrine which has provided hope to many hurting Christians without practically harming evangelism or causing Christians to suddenly abort babies for the sake of their salvation.


1 http://www.arbca.com/1689-chapter10

Here are some arguments people have made. In some cases the argument may not be compelling, but the Scriptures cited are worth considering.

http://thecripplegate.com/what-happens-to-infants-who-die-the-ot-answers/

http://thecripplegate.com/what-happens-to-infants-who-die-the-nt-answers/

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(Note: This is a guest post written by Michael Coughlin who tweets here and blogs here.  I am currently away and thank Michael for this guest post.  If you have thoughts and questions, feel free to comment and when he has time he will respond.)

 
Many folks have argued whether babies go to Heaven for centuries. Instead of putting forth an argument, per se, I want to summarize what the possible positions one can take would be, and at least try to eliminate the ones that seem absurd, while explaining some of the implications of the views that are at least “in play.” For the sake of ease of writing, I will use the term “infants” to describe those “who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.” (1689 LBCF 10.3)1

My goal is to present some biblical ways of thinking about this often an emotionally charged argument. It seems that for some who hold to “infant salvation” the mere suggestion that it is not true can evoke strong feelings. And then, those strong feelings are seen as weaknesses in the argument for infant salvation. Keep in mind, just because discussion of a doctrine elicits emotion from any individual, that does not invalidate the argument of the emotional person.

Secondly, we are discussing this within what would be considered a reformed/Calvinist viewpoint. It is assumed we are in agreement regarding concepts such as the doctrine of election and the sovereignty of God. If you fall outside that camp, then this post will not apply to you. When I discuss the election of infants herein, I are never ascribing to them a righteousness of their own by which they find favor with God. I am positing in every case that the only way an infant is justified before a holy God is to have the stain of Adam’s (and any of their own) sin washed by the blood of Jesus Christ as a gift of grace.

When we have this in-house discussion, we are usually arguing over the means by which God reaches His elect, and whether the preaching of the Word and subsequent hearing is God’s only means of saving His elect. We will dig into this further as we explore the different logical options.

Here are the positions one can take. I’m sure there are slight variations, but generally what you believe will fall into one of these categories. You may notice the bit of chiastic structure.

  1. We know that ALL infants go to Hell when they die.
  2. We know that some infants go to Hell when they die, but some may go to Heaven.
  3. We don’t know where infants go when they die, and we can’t even guess. The Bible doesn’t say so we should be silent.
  4. We don’t know whether all infants go to Hell or Heaven, but we accept both are possible.
  5. We know that some infants go to Heaven when they die, but some may go to Hell.
  6. We know that ALL infants go to Heaven when they die.

Let’s look at the four options in bold today.

We know that ALL infants go to Hell when they die.

This position takes what I’ll call the hard stance on the gospel call. If faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ (Rom 10:17), then logically, anyone who cannot understand the preached Word or does not hear the preached Word are condemned by the original sin of Adam and justly inherit the Lake of Fire.

By not taking this position, it is seen that a new way of salvation is created. And then the feared follow up argument is, “if infants can achieve eternal life through means other than the preached gospel, why couldn’t a remote tribal villager who is unreached by the gospel, or my aunt, or anyone at all?”

That argument is refuted by those who believe at least some infants may be saved by arguing that God has provided many instances in Scripture where he has hinted at the hope believers have for the salvation of their infants (see footnotes).

Additionally, I have seen the argument that Romans 1:20 condemns all those who are without excuse because of the revealed glory of God through creation. There is just no way to say that an unborn baby has the same accountability as someone who has seen a sunrise is the argument. To conclude that all infants are hellbound in death contradicts much of church history, and would invalidate many Scriptures which offer hope to the hurting. (2 Sam 12:23) David was no slouch as a theologian, so I’d find it odd that he would make such an obviously wrong statement if no babies went to Heaven.

Yet the Bible offers no hope for those who have understood God’s revelation (Rom 1:20) yet have not embraced the gospel. So the unreached tribal villager and the infant are two different types of people reached by two different means. See John the Baptist who was saved prior to having any cognitive ability to understand God’s Word for an example.

We know that some infants go to one place when they die, but some may go to the other place.

For the positions numbered 2 & 5, I will write a single response.

I don’t know how anyone could really hold the two positions numbered 2 and 5 above. In each case, it requires special knowledge of one type of infant who is either known to be reprobate or known to be elect, yet without knowing about all of them. How can you say that you have that type of specific knowledge if not granted by God?

I concede that some of the Presbyterian type brothers could make arguments based on the same reasoning they use to baptize babies that their “children of the covenant” are elect if they die in infancy. But considering I am not Presbyterian, I don’t see that, personally. Plus, any honest Presbyterian knows that baptizing their baby doesn’t save them nor leave them in any other state than “still in need of salvation.” Entering the earthly covenant family of God (in this theology) is not equated with final salvation.

And to assume to know that there are some infants who go to hell, for certain? Again, I haven’t even seen these types of arguments made. You would have to argue based on a person’s parents or family line, or based on works adults in their lives did on their behalf. This contradiction of verses like John 1:12-13 is too strong for me to overcome. It seems if infants end up in both Heaven and Hell, we have know way of knowing which ones actually go to which ultimate destination.

We don’t know where infants go when they die, and we can’t even guess. The Bible doesn’t say so we should be silent.

I find this to be an attempt to be sorta clever about it all. I understand the concern that we don’t go off the rails, arguing about things the Bible doesn’t make crystal clear, but this is a real question that people ask from honest hearts. Why avoid that?

I’ve heard it said that the Bible wasn’t written for infants. This is true, but the Bible was written for believers who would lose infants, and those people want a reasonable hope from Scripture of how to deal with a very real circumstance God cares about (1 Peter 5:7). I don’t think it’s dishonest to try to make a case from Scripture one way or another to answer a question on people’s minds. I’m afraid that if you’re response to the question of the election of infants is that “the Bible is silent about the issue,” then you are assuming what you need to prove. Too many people have believed the Bible at least gives us things to think about for anyone to say the Bible says nothing about it.

To Be Continued

Next we will review the remaining arguments, and try to be sure we at least argue from intellectual honesty, employing sound reasoning, which is glorifying to our Lord Jesus Christ.


1 http://www.arbca.com/1689-chapter10

Here are some arguments people have made. In some cases the argument may not be compelling, but the Scriptures cited are worth considering.

http://thecripplegate.com/what-happens-to-infants-who-die-the-ot-answers/

http://thecripplegate.com/what-happens-to-infants-who-die-the-nt-answers/

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Note: This is a guest post since presently I am overseas.  This is by Tom.  Tom is no stranger to those of you who read this blog.  His blog be found here.

We all know the story in the Acts of the Apostles, chapter one, when Peter determined someone needed to replace Judas Iscariot as one of the twelve apostles: 
 
“And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.” – Acts 1:23-26. 
 
By the casting of lots, Matthias was selected, but whatever happened to Joseph-Barsabbas who was rejected? The Bible makes no mention of him after this event, but I’ve often thought about him. No doubt he had felt honored to be considered for the office of apostle, and perhaps he was disappointed when Matthias was chosen instead of him. 

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(Note: This is a guest post written by Wally Fry who blogs here.  I am currently away and I am thankful to Wally for this guest post.  If you have thoughts and questions, feel free to comment and when he has time he will respond.)

Is Security of the Believer a License to Sin? 

I think anybody who reads here knows that I believe in the Eternal Security of the believer, Once saved always saved, or Perseverance of the Saints. I believe God’s Word clearly teaches that the salvation of a truly saved person will never be revoked, nor can it be taken from us. 

This is problematic for some, as many consider this doctrine to be nothing more than the granting of a license to run out and sin all they want. Sadly, many who oppose the Doctrine of Eternal Security are made to feel this way by the conduct and lifestyles of those professing to believe. Sadly, some do actually believe that salvation is no more than getting their ticket to heaven punched and that they can, in fact, do as they wish with no repercussions.

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