Sanctification Debates Part 1

(Volume 24, Issue 1, January-March 2018) Throughout church history the issue of sanctification, how Christians change, grow and mature, has been hotly debated.  Those who cling to the Reformed position on salvation, that is, salvation is a gift of God based completely on His grace (sola gratia), received entirely by faith in Christ alone (sola Christos), totally apart from our merits (sola fide) have not always agreed on how the saved, regenerated individual “work out salvation” (Phil 2:12).  Until recently most have concurred that spiritual growth, or fruitfulness, is an inevitable result of our new nature and the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit.  Certainly, such maturity was uneven and depended on many factors, but regeneration was sure to produce some evidence of spiritual change.  But today this commonly held belief has been challenged on two fronts.  Before we delve into these, a short review of other positions...

My Favorite Books Part V

(Volume 23, Issue 6, November/December 2017) Since I began writing book reviews a number of years ago, it seemed to some that the majority of these reviews dealt with books that were either errant or at best mixed in their biblical accuracy.  So in August 2004 I began listing, by category, the better books that I have reviewed to encourage the reading of quality Christian literature.  Approximately two years ago the fourth volume of “My Favorite Books” was published to which I would like to add another 30 books or so. In addition, for clarity sake I thought it might be helpful to pull all the lists together and mention the titles of books previously identified.  Hopefully our readers will recall that just because a book is cited as a favorite does not mean that it is without some problems. Complete reviews of each volume can be found on...

The New Apostolic Reformation An Examination of the Five-Fold Ministries Part 2

( Volume 23, Issue 5, September/October 2017) Having surveyed the foundation of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) and some of its theological distinctives in the first part of this article, we will now press on to investigate its infiltration into wider evangelical circles. We will then put the teachings of NAR to the test of Scripture. Infiltration The influence of NAR has become broader, and therefore more dangerous, as many of its ideas are being accepted by traditionally non-charismatic churches and organizations.  This acceptance is due to a number of factors. Bethel, Hillsong and IHOP music has found enthusiastic reception in churches, youth ministries and among young adults throughout the evangelical spectrum. Many have no understanding of the teachings of NAR and no concept of what it is. Influential NAR teachers and books are making in-roads into evangelical circles. Due to rampant biblical illiteracy and general apathy toward Scripture and...

The New Apostolic Reformation An Examination of the Five-Fold Ministries Part 1

(Volume 23, Issue 4, July/August 2017) The New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) is one of the largest, broadest and most powerful movements within Christianity today, yet it flies largely under the radar.  Even those involved often do not understand the movement to the extent that they may even deny they are part of it. This confusion is due to the fact that NAR does not have official membership or even leadership.  Rather, NAR is a loose coalition of mostly Pentecostal and charismatic Christians, organizations and churches that are united over a particular understanding and interpretation of certain portions of Scripture.  The interpretation of these New Testament texts are widely held by those connected with NAR and focus mainly on the miraculous sign gifts. Some have equated NAR with the so-called Third Wave of Pentecostalism (the first wave started with the birth of the Pentecostal movement in 1901, the second wave...

Why Definitions Matter

(Volume 23, Issue 3, May/June 2017) It was Mark Twain who famously said, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.” Used by Twain, the distinction between being a mediocre author and great one, such as himself, was the choice of words.  If this is important to a novelist, how much more important it is to the Christian attempting to communicate timeless truths given to us by our Creator God. Words and their meanings matter.  Unfortunately, in our Christian lingo, we tend to use sloppily thrown out words and terms which can mislead others and, in time, some of these terms take on lives of their own.   While often harmless in their intent, I would contend that when we do so we unknowingly miscommunicate important truths that our Lord has revealed to us, and/or mislead ourselves and others...

Biblical Literacy

(Volume 23, Issue 2, March/April 2017) I concluded my article titled “Biblical Illiteracy” with these words: “Biblical illiteracy is well recognized today.  There are many reasons why not only the general population but also the evangelical church has little understanding and knowledge of Scripture, and I have tried to identify some of these in the body of this article. With all of the attacks on the trustworthiness of Scripture, coupled with general lack of biblical knowledge and apathy toward what it proclaims, it would be easy to despair for the future of the Scriptures.  But God’s Word always accomplishes that which it is sent forth by the Lord to accomplish (Isa 55:1) which is to teach, reprove, correct and train His people in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16).  We have the promise of Jesus that His Word will never pass away (Matt 24:35).  Rather than despair we should make every...

Biblical Illiteracy: Its Tragedy and Remedy

(Volume 23, Issue 1, January/February 2017) Both statistical research and anecdotal observation come to the same conclusion – America, a nation once steeped in Scripture if not always living in obedience to God, has joined the ranks of the biblically illiterate from around the globe.  Theologians and sociologists both speak of our “post-Christian” culture, while to some extent is still being fueled by the capital of Christianity, which is now all but coasting on empty. Albert Mohler, in a short article entitled “The Scandal of Biblical Illiteracy: It’s Our Problem,” quotes pollsters George Gallup and Jim Castelli as saying, “Americans revere the Bible—but, by and large, they don’t read it.  And because they don’t read it, they have become a nation of biblical illiterates.” As a result Mohler documents that fewer than half of all adults can name the four Gospels, identify more than 3 disciples or name even five...

Muslim Dreams and Visions

(Volume 22, Issue 5, September/October 2016) In recent years the stories of Muslims responding to the gospel, either directly or indirectly, as a result of dreams and visions have been abundant.  In these dreams it is reported that Jesus (or Isa as the Muslims call Him) appears and then directs the individual to someone who will share the gospel with them or, on some occasions Isa will preach the good news directly. Rick Kronk’s opening story in his book Dreams and Visions, Muslim’s Miraculous Journey to Jesus, is representative.  I will quote it in part: While I napped, I began to dream, and then suddenly that dream was interrupted and I found myself surrounded by bright light and white clouds.  Everything seemed so inviting and tranquil.   Then I saw beams of light streaming past me from behind.  I felt welcoming warmth upon my back from the light.  I turned,...

Does Doctrine Matter Anymore – To Pastors?

(Volume 22, Issue 4, July/August 2016) What comes to your mind when you think of pastors and, especially, pastoral responsibilities?  The range of response could be from that of shepherds, administrators, CEOs, promoters, organizers, evangelists, and Bible teachers, among other options. Without discussing any of these roles at this point, I would suggest that few would see pastors as theologians.  Theologians reside at seminaries and other academic settings, not at churches.  While some pastors might be known as adequate, even excellent, expositors of the Scriptures, they most likely are not seen as theologians today.  This has not always been the case. Some History Gerald Hiestand and Todd Wilson, in their fine little book The Pastor Theologian, Resurrecting an Ancient Vision, document that until the twelfth and thirteenth centuries it was pastors who were on the cutting edge theologically within Christianity.  Resisting the temptation to critique much of the theology...