Sunday, October 29, 2017

Things Taken For Granted

A father walking his two small children into church at 8:00 a.m., hand in hand.  A mother gathering snacks, bottles, and the kitchen sink to load up the diaper bags.  Two parents, one getting strollers and bibles in the car.  The other getting jackets on the littlest ones while the 7 and 9 year olds finish that last bite of breakfast and join the mad dash to get in the car.  
A family scurrying around church campus getting to their classes. Some together.  Some scattering.   A husband and wife, joining hands to hold a hymnal, then corporate prayer.  A child a little too fidgety as the pastor brings the Word.  A loving father gently putting a hand on his knee, without a word teaching reverence.  A mother handing a crayon to her 5 year old daughter who takes her own kind of notes about the truth being proclaimed.  A crying baby, again, that causes mom to exit worship and attend to his needs.  A stubborn child that requires dad to step away from the preaching to administer correction.  The shear joy of looking down the pew and seeing your wife and children fastened on the pastor, scribbling notes and flipping through their bibles.

Have you experienced any of these?  Are you experiencing any of these?

I’d like to turn our thoughts towards thankfulness in all of them.  I’d like to turn any reading this away from frustration in the challenging ones.  My goal is to cause you to look at the manifold blessings you’ve been given in this life and rejoice in them.  To exult in the Sovereign King for allowing you to experience all of them.  Because in an instant they can all be gone.  Either by the speed of time....

You know, where you blink and exclaim, “where did the time go?!”, as you see your 21 year old child drive away from home.  Or the speed in which health can take a drastic turn for the worst... Like when you hold your spouse’s hand in a hospital bed for the 15th time, wishing you had just one more day, one more year of youth and vitality.

Hindsight is a good teacher.  Scripture is a better teacher.  God tells us to make the most of our time, not being foolish, to be careful about it, being wise (Eph 5:15-16).  Now I know the context is Christians not walking in darkness, in the lusts of the flesh.  Yet there is a principle in there we shouldn’t miss.  To put it in my simpleminded vernacular, don’t be an idiot wasting your time on unfruitful pursuits.  Don't miss the blessing of normal.  But rather, be purposeful in doing good, walking in righteousness, being thankful in ALL things.  Because again, any or all of the routines of life could be gone.  In.  An.  Instant.

Some of the wisest words I ever heard were simple.  They weren’t deep theology, although we desperately need deep theology.  The friend that spoke them to me had no idea of the impact they would have on me.  But they were spoken to a 30 year old kid so try as I might, I failed too often to remember and heed them.  Oh, they’ve often been my intention and even practice but still, failure.  These were spoken by a brother in Christ in the hall of a hospital as my second preemie child was born.  

“Don’t be in a hurry for anything.  Before you know it they’ll be walking and then a teenager.  Enjoy each moment.  This is only a season.”

That’s it!  Pretty simple. Yet spoken by a friend 10 years my senior.  He’d been there.  He’d done that.  Hmm, as I write this I just got a picture of holding my children’s hands, wife alongside, both of us a bit frazzled, arms full of bibles and notebooks, after four full hours as we walked down the wide concrete ramp from our church campus to the parking lot.  Yep, 19 years.  Snap!  Gone!  Here we are going on 2018.  

Be thankful.  
Don’t complain.  
Praise God, with all your heart!  
Recognize His grace.  
Fulfill your calling as a parent, a spouse.  
Walk in wisdom.  
Walk in the joy of the Lord.  
And when tempted to miss the forest for the trees, smell the roses while you have health, the ability of your youth and the freedom to experience such things because one day you may be alone and wishing you could have it all over again to do better.

So nothing really rich theologically here.  No attempt to dig down into a text.  Just some words from an old guy with less gas in his tank and miles on his road than days gone by.

He must increase, 
Kevin

Saturday, August 1, 2015

What Word is Going Forth?

For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything.
For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God,
and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come. 
~ 1 Thessalonians 1:8–10

As I read this passage my mind was directed to the sins of our society and what my witness before it looks like, what the witness of my church, your church, looks like.  Is the word of the Lord sounding forth or is it a watered down, twisted version of our own human wisdom?  Have we capitulated in our duty as men and women of faith in living the gospel?  If indeed we have been saved by the gospel, are we really living it or have we poisoned it with our sin?  Have we departed from the word of the Lord and infused our own word, the word of man?

I guess we need to start there, with the gospel.  So let's go for a short walk. Just what is the gospel?

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:3–4

It starts with the fact that man is born in sin (Psalm 51:5), separated from communion with their Creator and His Son Jesus Christ (Isaiah 59:2).  Every one of us is devoid of the Holy Spirit of God. You see our first parents sold the entire human race into sin (Romans 5:12) when they chose to disobey God's command to not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” ~ Genesis 2:16–17

And die we did!  Humanity plunged in an instant into enmity with God.  It didn't take long for that hostility to work itself out in brother murdering brother. Cain lusted after approval and slew his brother.  Yes, his brother, of the same race, the same lineage, the same mother and father.  And today?  The issue still remains sin in the heart of man and nothing less (Jer 17:9).  So God the Father in His Divine Sovereignty and Omnipotent wisdom sent His Son to live the perfect life. Yes, the life man was no longer able to live apart from redeeming grace.  This Jesus not only lived for our righteousness but died for our transgressions, of which there are too many to number.  He was indeed raised to new life on the third day and taken up into glory.  My friends, without His shed blood applied to our sin no matter how much we desire heaven as our end it is not happening apart from repentance of our sin and placing our faith in Christ's work on Calvary and His work alone.

This is the word of faith we are preaching,


That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;
for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. 
Romans 10:9–10

and when that occurs we are brought near and the enmity is over while peace is ushered in.


But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.  For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. 
Ephesians 2:13–16

Is that you my friend?  If so, how glorious!  If not, how terribly sad!

So, back to the passage that got my brain thinking.  Is the word of the Lord sounding forth from our lips?  Is the work of Christ evidenced in our speech? Does the power of the Holy Spirit come out in our actions?  You see, we are not here to play church and just gather on Sunday's eating donuts and drinking coffee, smiling at each other through lives of hypocrisy.  This glorious gospel is powerful! (Romans 1:16)  Powerful enough to change our sin torn, wicked hearts into hearts of flesh that are moved by the gracious gift of our Redeemer. We now weep for those things that He died for and those who are still enslaved to sin.  We understand because we were that man! Therefore we speak boldly but with grace.  We now hate those things we used to do, and the world still does, because our disposition has been entirely changed.  We are made new! (2 Cor 5:17)  

Have we turned from idols?  Or have we deceived ourselves by a false gospel? Have we bitten the hook that the gospel is all about us, our best life now?  Have we drunk the poison that we just need to be a bit more moral, a bit more philanthropic, a good neighbor, attend church when we can, think nice things about others, allow for all people to do as seems best to them and not judge them, profess we believe in Christ but never really admit our own sinfulness?  Have we indeed made ourselves THE idol?  Have we placed our intellect above that found in the inerrant, infallible, authoritative Word of God?

Oh church of the Living and True God, are we waiting for God's Son, Jesus Christ, from heaven? Are we filled with joy that we will not experience the wrath to be unleashed?  Are we warning others of the wrath to come?  Or have we closed our mouths so as not to rock the boat?  My brothers and sisters, who opened their mouth to point you to salvation?  Who risked ridicule to tell you that you were lost in sin and damned for hell?  Will we stand idly by and say, 'Not my job, preacher man can do that!'  It is only by grace that God sent His mouthpiece to us who are the called, the elect of God.  Will we obey the command to tell others? 




We are all called to be watchmen.  Wrath is coming.  Personally and quite possibly widespread upon this world.  Will He be a Lion or a Lamb to those we come in contact with?  Is the word of the Lord going forth from us or have we chosen to hide our lamp under a bushel?


How beautiful are the feet of those 
who bring good news of good things! 
~ Romans 10:15 

He must increase,
Kevin

Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Mormon Refutation

Yesterday was a good day. It's true that I didn't get much sleep the night before. It's also true that, in my sleep deprived state, I still had to function at work somehow. Now, add into the mix college, family, and an ever-growing "To Do" list, it's easy to understand why you might be wondering how I can say my day was good. Truth is, I fibbed a bit. It wasn't just good. It was amazing!

I was blessed with the wonderful opportunity to meet with some Mormons. They had come to my house last week and talked for an hour. Some of that time was spent breaking the ice and getting to know one another while also trying to touch on the inevitable topic at hand. By the end of that meeting, we parted ways with an understanding that we simply didn't see eye to eye. I was a bit surprised when they said they wanted to meet again but I gladly obliged. As I already stated, that day was yesterday. However, this time, I had a homework assignment that I needed to present. At their last visit, they left a pamphlet with me titled "The Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ" and my task was the read it and pray about it. The result of that was an 8 page document typed up in 12-point Times New Roman font. That document is the very basis and inspiration for this blog post. While it's true that I felt it was necessary to discuss with my guests the points within, I feel there are many more people who simply don't understand what Mormonism teaches. I'm also convinced there are a great many who are aware of certain error but don't know how to adequately verbalize it. You, the reader, may be one of these. Sadly, this only leads to missed opportunities to share the good news of Christ when they land on your very own doorstep.

Below are a few of the points that I drafted up in the aforementioned document. I encourage you to download the full .pdf from the link below and read it in its entirety when you have the time. If it gives even one person the confidence to speak when the time comes, it'll be well worth the time I spent writing it. One thing I do know is that I look forward to hearing what they have to say when I meet with them again. Yes, they took a copy.

The format is fairly simple. The page numbers listed correspond to the pages within their booklet (you can find the link for this below as well). The bold lettering is where I quote the text from that page. I then pose a question which I intended on asking them in order to hear their explanation. Lastly, I close it out with my own thoughts and points of refutation.

PAGE 3 
Prophets…interpret the word of God.
What do you mean by “interpret the word of God”?
  • 2 Peter 1:20-21 - But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. 
  • While the prophets of old did speak forth new revelation from God, they weren’t authorized to interpret it. This is why it was a “Thus saith the Lord” type of thing. It was never interpreted by them. It was only declared and spoken forth. For a prophet to enter into the realm of interpretation would be grievous error. However, we see history showing that Mormon prophets, while never revoking a prophecy, do sometimes reinterpret them. Again, this is dangerous territory.
  PAGE 4
 Prophets receive the priesthood. 
How do you reconcile this with the biblical account that the prophets weren’t priests and that priest/prophet were two very separate duties?
  •  Priests were from the tribe of Levi only. One doesn’t have to look far to see this. In fact, Elisha was from the tribe of Issachar. Isaiah, Amos, Habakkuk, Joel, Obadiah, Zechariah, and Zephaniah were all from the tribe of Judah. Clearly, in accordance with Numbers 3:10-12, these men wouldn’t qualify to be a part of the priesthood.
Revealed truths are lost as people reject the prophets. 
What do you use to test the words of your prophets?
  • Deuteronomy 13:1-5 - “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the Lord your God is testing you to find out if you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall follow the Lord your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has counseled rebellion against the Lord your God who brought you from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, to seduce you from the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from among you.
  •  Deuteronomy 18:20-22 - But the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’ You may say in your heart, ‘How will we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’ When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.
  •  Joseph Smith made multiple false prophecies (such as always occupying the house in Nauvoo (Illinois) that is now destroyed, the Civil War being a war of all nations, etc). Instead of admitting these were false prophecies from a false prophet that isn’t to be feared (and thus crumbling the entire religion), these prophecies are merely reinterpreted by the new prophets. We spoke on the danger of this practice earlier. If the prophecy is truly of God, the wording will never change and the interpretation will remain.
  PAGE 8
 The Apostles were killed, and priesthood authority – including the keys to direct and receive revelation for the Church – was taken from the earth. 
Why do you say the priesthood was taken from the earth upon the death of the apostles?
  • 1 Corinthians 6:19 - Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?
  • 1 Peter 2:9-10 - But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
  • Hebrews 8:1-3 - Now the main point in what has been said is this: we have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a minister in the sanctuary and in the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man. For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices; so it is necessary that this high priest also have something to offer.
  • Scripture declares that we, as believers are now the priesthood. This isn’t because we have the qualifications of priest but because we are now in the body of Christ, our great High Priest. Our own bodies are the temple of God and God Himself dwells within us. The priesthood, as it stood, was abolished at this point. The veil was torn from top to bottom and the separation between God and man with an intermediary of priest no longer existed. We, as the priesthood of believers, now have direct access to God and have the illumination (not revelation) of the Spirit to guide us in all truth and righteousness (Ephesians 6:14) which is to be found in the Bible. Acts 17:11 praises the Bereans for searching the Scriptures to see if what was being proclaimed was true. The Bible simply doesn’t support the claims of Mormonism. Therefore, it is to be rejected as being contrary to the Word of God.
 PAGE 12 
conferred on him the Aaronic Priesthood……later appeared to Joseph Smith and conferred on him the Melchizedek Priesthood. 
Can you please go into more detail on this?
  • If Smith was anointed as a prophet in 1820 (at the age of 15) by both the Father and Son, was he idle for the next 3 years until Moroni appeared to him by his bedside in 1823 (at the age of 18)? Furthermore, why did it take until 1827 before being shown the golden plates? Lastly, why did it take until 1829 to be given the priesthoods?
  • Why did John the Baptist (who was indeed of the Aaronic line) give Smith the Aaronic priesthood at all if it was just going to be superseded by the greater Melchizedek priesthood shortly thereafter? More so, this would mean that Smith was of the bloodlines of both lines and would mean he was more in line for the priesthood than even Christ was as Christ wasn’t of the tribe of Levi which is why Hebrews 8:4 says even He didn’t qualify to be a priest. It’s only because He’s of the line of Melchizedek that He alone is our High Priest. If Joseph Smith were qualified to hold both priesthoods, he outweighs even the qualifications of Christ. Conversely, if he wasn’t of either line (which is in fact the case), it means he held neither priesthood because he was precluded from doing so. As we covered earlier, merely being a prophet doesn’t mean one is a priest and even the title of prophet doesn’t apply because Scripture says so.
  • If Christ appointed Smith as a prophet in 1820 and all prophets carry the priesthood, why did he not receive the priesthood until 1829, 9 years later? This means he either wasn’t a genuine prophet until 1829, he was a faulty prophet until 1829, or he was never a prophet at all and didn’t truly understand what it meant to be either one. Hence, the oversight and inconsistency between his dates and the biblical teaching of the offices of prophets and priests.
  PAGE 15 
The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. 
Who is Jesus?
  •  The Mormon Jesus is:
  1.  A created being
  2.  Son of God but not God
  3.  Not to be worshiped as God but merely revered as the Son
  4.  Spiritual brother of Satan (though at opposite ends of the spectrum)
  •  The Christian Jesus is:
  1.  An eternal being never created
  2.  Son of God yet also God Himself
  3.  To be worshiped as God Himself
  4.  The creator of all things including Satan the angel
  •  Thus, the teachings of Mormonism don’t align with the Bible when it comes to the very foundation of who Jesus is. This means the Book of Mormon isn’t another testament of Jesus Christ but is rather (along with the other works of Smith) a testament of another Jesus Christ.
  •  Galatians 1:8 - But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!
…a record of God’s dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas…” 
Who were these ancient inhabitants?
  •  Mormon doctrine calls them the Nephites. If they were of Nephi, this means they would be Jewish in bloodline as well as Jewish in characteristics. Even if, for the sake of argument, we want to say Native Americans (Lamanites) were cursed by God and given dark skin (thereby changing the physical characteristics), Native Americans don’t have matching DNA with the Jewish bloodline. Since the Lamanites and the Nephites were both of the same bloodline, this would mean Lamanite blood would be of Jewish ancestry as well. Beyond this, the curse was supposedly only that of dark skin. Native Americans have more differences than just this. They have Mongloid characteristics instead of that of Mediterranean Caucasoids. This is more reason to believe Joseph Smith didn’t understand biology well enough and that his claims are false. The Lamanites simply never existed and the existence of the Nephites would be equally as doubtful since the idea was hatched from the same thought bubble.

By now, I pray, if there were any confusion before, you'll now clearly see how dangerous Mormon teaching really is. While they claim to uphold the Bible, their own teaching is highly inconsistent with such a claim. Again, I encourage you to download the link below for the full paper I wrote and then gave to them for reading. Hey, if they can give me homework, it's only fair I be able to do the same.

http://www.fairladyz32.com/downloads/christian/books/Travis%20W.%20Rogers/Mormon%20refutation.pdf 

If you'd like to follow along with their booklet as well, it can be found at the below link:

https://www.lds.org/bc/content/ldsorg/content/english/manual/missionary/pdf/36920_the-restoration-eng.pdf 


~ Travis W. Rogers