Repent.

Kevin DeYoung is a terrific pastor who wrote a great piece on repentance: Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven Is at Hand.  I encourage you to read it all.  It is a key part of Jesus’ message that is so easy to leave out.

Revelation 9:20-21 “The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.”

God’s word to the peoples of the world is not only an offer of grace, nor even less simply a call to live rightly, nor even less still a promise to make all our dreams come true if we just have faith. We have not heard all that God wants to say to us unless we have heard his command to repent.

Ezekiel said “Repent and turn from your transgressions” (Ezek. 18:30). John the Baptist said “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 3:2). Jesus said “Repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). Peter said “Repent and be baptized” (Acts 2:38). And Paul said God “commands all people everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30).

Repentance has never been easy. No one likes to be told “Die to yourself. Kill that in you. Admit you are wrong and change.” That’s never been an easy sell. It’s much easier to get a crowd by leaving out the repentance part of faith, but it’s not faithful. It’s not even Christianity. Of course, there is a whole lot more to following Jesus than repentance, but it’s certainly not less. “Repent,” Jesus said, or “you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:5).

If you don’t repent, you will perish.

His section on how repentance isn’t remorse, embarrassment or apology is important, because we often confuse those things and think we’ve repented.

. . . So regret is easy, embarrassment is easy, and apology is easy. Repentance, on the other hand, is very hard and, therefore, much rarer. Repentance involves two things: a change of mind and a change of behavior.

Repentance means you change your mind. That’s what the Greek word metanoia means– a changed (meta) mind (noia).

You change your mind about yourself: “I am not fundamentally a good person deep down. I am not the center of the universe. I am not the king of the world or even my life.”

You change your mind about sin: “I am responsible for my actions. My past hurts do not excuse my present failings. My offenses against God and against others are not trivial. I do not live or think or feel as I should.”

And you change your mind about God: “He is trustworthy. His word is sure. He is able to forgive and to save. I believe in his Son, Jesus Christ. I owe him my life and my allegiance. He is my King and my Sovereign, and he wants what is best for me. I believe it!”

Repentance is hard because changing someone’s mind is hard. In fact, when we’re dealing with spiritual matters of the heart, God’s the only one who can really change your mind. People are simply not predisposed to say “I was wrong! I was wrong about God and about myself. My whole way of looking at the world has been in error. I want to change.” That’s repentance. And it’s amazing when it happens.

. . .

Repentance also involves a change of behavior. It’s like a train conductor driving his train down the tracks straight for the side of a mountain. It’s one thing for him to realize and admit that his train his going in the wrong direction. It’s another thing to stop the train and it get it going in the opposite direction.

. . .

If we preach a “gospel” with no call to repentance we are preaching something other than the apostolic gospel.

If we knowing allow unconcerned, impenitent sinners into the membership and ministry of the church, we are deceiving their souls and putting ours at risk as well.

If we think people can find a Savior without forsaking their sin, we do not know what sort of Savior Jesus Christ is.

There are few things more important in life than repentance. So important, that Revelation, and the gospels, and the epistles, and the Old Testament make clear that you don’t go to heaven without it.

Yes, Adam and Eve were real people.

I realize that non-Christians don’t hold to the truth that Adam and Eve were real people.  It is part of their job description as non-believers.  But I’m mystified that many of those claiming the name of Christ would deny this.  (OK, I’m not that mystified, because those not believing that are either false teachers or “saved and confused.”).

The list below has all the verses mentioning Adam by name.  None even hint that he is allegorical.  And there are also passages like Mark 10:7-9 that refer to Adam and Eve, just not by name.  (“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife,and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh.  What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”)

Key theological concepts like original sin make no sense if Adam and Eve weren’t real. (And to save keystrokes for the skeptics, yes, I know you think it doesn’t make sense either way.  I’m addressing this to professing believers.)

Also, as Kevin DeYoung points out in his commentary on 1 Chronicles, think about what it meant to the first readers (and readers for thousands of years after that):

Are we really to think that any Jew reading 1 Chronicles (or any Christian up until very recently for that matter) would have read the genealogies as anything other than true historical truth? The Chronicler’s whole aim is to recount history. And everything in the Israelite worldview underlines the importance of God’s dealing in real time and space. Nothing suggests that 1 Chronicles is mixing in some fantastic über-man with blood and guts real men.

That kind of genealogy wouldn’t begin to make sense, not to the Jews and not to us. It’d be like starting your family tree with the Jolly Green Giant and Paul Bunyan. It’d be like writing a biography that begins with Anakin Skywalker and his son Luke and then goes on to his son Hugh Hodge and his son Charles and his son Archibald Alexander. Not very convincing.

And not very encouraging for a bunch of exiles trying to figure out who they really are.

Here’s a PleaseConvinceMe.com Podcast about Adam and Eve.

Genesis 2:20 ESV
The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him.
Genesis 3:17 ESV
And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;Genesis 3:21 ESV
And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.Genesis 4:1 ESV
[Cain and Abel] Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD.”
Genesis 4:25 ESV
And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, “God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.”Genesis 5:1 ESV
[Adam’s Descendants to Noah] This is the book of the generations of Adam. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God.Genesis 5:3 ESV
When Adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth.Genesis 5:4 ESV
The days of Adam after he fathered Seth were 800 years; and he had other sons and daughters.Genesis 5:5 ESV
Thus all the days that Adam lived were 930 years, and he died.Joshua 3:16 ESV
the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap very far away, at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, and those flowing down toward the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. And the people passed over opposite Jericho.

1 Chronicles 1:1 ESV
[From Adam to Abraham] Adam, Seth, Enosh;

Hosea 6:7 ESV
But like Adam they transgressed the covenant; there they dealt faithlessly with me.

Luke 3:38 ESV
the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.

Romans 5:12 ESV
[Death in Adam, Life in Christ] Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned–

Romans 5:14 ESV
Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

1 Corinthians 15:22 ESV
For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

1 Corinthians 15:45 ESV
Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”;the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.

1 Timothy 2:13 ESV
For Adam was formed first, then Eve;

1 Timothy 2:14 ESV
and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.

Jude 1:14 ESV
It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones,

God and money — where’s the balance?

Studies show that aside from those in true poverty, money cannot buy happiness.  But mismanaging money can definitely lead to unhappiness.

See Money and Possessions in Proverbs – Kevin DeYoung for a thorough and well-balanced take on what God says about money.  I often see people go to either extreme:

On the one hand, it’s easy to see where Prosperity Theology comes from. Take a few promises of the Mosaic covenant out of their national context, take the promise in Malachi 3 about throwing open the storehouses of heaven, mix in some of Jesus’ statements about receiving whatever you ask for in faith, and you can bake up a little health and wealth gospel.

On the other hand, it’s possible to come up with an imbalanced Austerity Theology. Point out that Jesus had nowhere to lay his head, turn to the story of the rich young ruler, stir in the parable of the rich fool, and you’ll have a theology that says money is bad and so are those who have it.

As always, you want to read the passages in the immediate context and the larger context of the entire Bible.

If you take these tips seriously I think your odds of esteeming money properly will be very high:

Ten Principles on Money and Possessions from Proverbs

1. There are extremes of wealth and poverty that provide unique temptations to those who live in them (Prov. 30:7-9).

2. Don’t worry about keeping up with the Jones’ (Prov. 12:913:7).

3. The rich and poor are more alike than they think (Prov. 22:229:13).

4. You can’t out give God (Prov. 3:9-1011:2422:9).

5. Poverty is not pretty (Prov. 10:1514:2019:4).

6. Money cannot give you ultimate security (Prov. 11:711:2813:8).

7. The Lord hates those who get rich by injustice (Prov. 21:622:1622-23).

8. The Lord loves those who are generous to the poor (Prov. 14:213119:728:21)

9. Hard work and good decision-making usually lead to increased prosperity (Prov. 6:6-1110:413:1114:24;  21:172022:41327:23-2728:20

10. Money isn’t everything. It does not satisfy (Prov. 23:4-5). It is inferior to wisdom (Prov. 8:10-1118-1924:3-4). It is inferior to righteousness (10:2; 11:4; 13:25; 16:8; 19:22; 20:17; 28:6). It is inferior to the fear of the Lord (Prov. 15:16). It is inferior to humility (Prov. 16:19). It is inferior to good relationships (Prov. 15:1717:1).

You can’t understand the biblical view of money unless you are prepared to accept a number of truths held in tension.

  • You’ll probably acquire more money if you work hard and are full of wisdom. But if all you care about is getting more money, you are the biggest fool.
  • Money is a blessing from God, but you’ll be more blessed if you give it away.
  • God gives you money because he is generous, but he is generous with you so that you can be generous with others. And if you are generous with your money, God will likely be more generous with you.
  • It is wise to save money, but don’t ever think money gives you real security.
  • Wealth is more desirable than poverty, but wealth is not as good as righteousness, humility, wisdom, good relationships, and the fear of the Lord.
I encourage you to read the whole post and subscribe to Kevin’s blog.  He does great work.

Rob Bell = false teacher

Rob Bell’s new book, Love Wins, is full of false teachings about Christianity, primarily in saying that everyone ends up in Heaven regardless of how they respond to Jesus. I always had concerns about Bell’s teachings, but like many false teachers he started off a little more subtle and became more openly false.

In an interview on MSNBC he says that how we respond to Christ is “terribly” relevant and has a “tremendous bearing” while at the same time saying everyone goes to Heaven. He is disingenuous in saying that since some people disagree then all positions are correct. He is a typical passive-aggressive postmodern in acting like he’s just asking questions when he obviously has an agenda.

I highly recommend this review by Kevin DeYoung: God Is Still Holy and What You Learned in Sunday School Is Still True: A Review of “Love Wins”. It is very thorough. I liked this excerpt noted at the Stand to Reason blog:

Over and over, Bell refers to the “staggering number” of people just like him, people who can’t believe the message they used to believe, people who want nothing to do with traditional Christianity, people who don’t want to leave the faith but can’t live in the faith they once embraced. I have no doubt there are many people like this inside and outside our churches. Some will leave the faith altogether. Others—and they are in the worse position—will opt for liberalism, which has always seen itself as a halfway house between conservative orthodoxy and secular disbelief.

But before we let Bell and others write the present story, we must remember that there are also a “staggering number” of young people who want the straight up, unvarnished truth. They want doctrinal edges and traditional orthodoxy. They want no-holds-barred preaching. They don’t want to leave traditional Christianity. They are ready to go deeper into it

Love Wins has ignited such a firestorm of controversy because it’s the current fissure point for a larger fault-line. As younger generations come up against an increasingly hostile cultural environment, they are breaking in one of two directions—back to robust orthodoxy (often Reformed) or back to liberalism. The neo-evangelical consensus is cracking up. Love Wins is simply one of many tremors.

Also see this by Pastor Timothy: Rob Bell: False Teacher… Worthless Pastor… Savage Wolf. It includes a link to a video where even an MSNBC reporter can see through Bell’s inconsistencies and addresses other false teachings by Bell.

But Mr. Bell would have us believe that eventually God’s love will win out and all those people in hell will be freed and invited into heaven. This ignores God’s eternal decrees of election (Ephesians 1:3-14). It makes God out to be me nothing more that a cosmic hand wringer who is hopeless with the lives of men on this side of glory. It also makes God out to be a liar for He would be contradicting His own word, which He cannot do. Poor Mr. Bell. He is trying so hard to be liked and make God likeable, that He makes God out to be a liar in the process. To make God out to be a liar is to show that the truth is not in us (1 John 1:10). Since this is true, the truth is not in Bell. He needs to repent.

I think that what Mr. Bell also needs to do is go into sales, selling used cars and quit trying to pass himself off as a pastor who cares. He does not care. He is very hateful towards those whom he pastors. He needs to be rebuked in the harshest terms, because he is leading his flock into everlasting punishment. I know, he is such a nice guy. And Satan presented himself as an angel of light too. Real pastors and those who love our Savior, get angry at guys like Bell. He truly is a savage wolf. What Bell does is wicked beyond hope.

The worst part is that Bell displays the typical postmodern / “emergent church” deceptiveness, pretending to just be asking questions when he is obviously pointing to concrete views of his. But this (sort of) gives him an out when challenged and it falsely paints his critics as being against asking questions. Questions are great, provided you give correct answers based on the Bible – which Bell doesn’t.

I heard that Bell’s book is #8 on the overall Amazon best seller list. Ugh. Too many of those claiming to be Christians in the U.S. have notoriously bad discernment when it comes to things like this.

This is a timeless theme:

2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

People love to hear that everyone goes to Heaven. Sort of takes away the need to evangelize and defend the faith, doesn’t it? Makes it lots easier to be loved by the world, doesn’t it?

1 John 2:15-16 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world.

I’ll close with this from DeYoung:

Bad theology hurts real people. So of all the questions raised in the book, the most important question every reader must answer is this: is it true? Whatever you think of all the personalities involved on whatever side of the debate, that’s the one question that cannot be ignored. Is Love Wins true to the word of God? That’s the issue. Open a Bible, pray to God, listen to the faithful Christians of the past 2000 years, and answer the question for yourself.

Delight or deception, suffering or salvation—yes, even heaven or hell—may hang in the balance.

Roundup

Government can require foster parents to affirm homosexuality rules UK High Court – Coming soon to a country near you, thanks to false and/or poorly informed and/or wimpy Christians too afraid to even vote for the right things. The key question is in bold.  Political correctness – that is, saying things you know aren’t true in order to remain popular – is poison.

LONDON, Mon Feb 28, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A UK Christian couple fighting their local council adoption panel over a decision to bar them from providing foster care because of their faith and their unwillingness to affirm homosexuality, have lost their appeal to the High Court in London.

In February 2008, Eunice and Owen Johns of Derby filed suit against Derby City Council when they were refused for fostering because they said they would not talk to children about homosexuality as though it were an acceptable “lifestyle,” and that they would insist that children in their care accompany the family to church on Sundays.

“The law has been increasingly interpreted by Judges in a way which favours homosexual rights over freedom of conscience. Significant areas of public life are now becoming out of bounds to Christians who do not want to compromise their beliefs. If Christian morals are harmful to children and unacceptable to the State, then how many years do we have before natural children start being taken away from Christians?”

What does the Bible mean when it uses the word “faith” – this is a fairly simple but very important concept, as both believers and non-believers often get this foundational concept wrong.  It isn’t faith without evidence or in spite of evidence, it is faith based on evidence.

The Greek word behind “faith” in the NT is pistis. As a noun ,pistis is a word that was used as a technical rhetorical term for forensic proof.

Peter’s primary appeal [in Acts 2] here was threefold:

  1. He appealed to the evidence of the wonders and signsperformed by Jesus;
  2. he appealed to the empty tomb,
  3. and he appealed to fulfillment of OT prophecy.

In short, his appeals were evidentiary. One of course might wish to dispute the validity of the evidence, but in context this is beside the point. The point is that Peter grounded belief in Christianity on evidence — or, as the definition of pistis in Acts 17:31 would put it, proofs.

Two Thoughts on the Rob Bell Brouhaha – Kevin DeYoung makes some good points about the false teacher.

Illinois Teacher Salaries – Without Benefits! – Wow, they are even more overpaid than I thought!

Getting right to the point: Illinois’ top paid teacher in 2010 is high school Physical Education teacher, Mr. Mintz, who made $191,124, BEFORE BENEFITS. Second highest paid at another school is middle and high school English teacher, Mr Liesz making $189,219 BEFORE BENEFITS.

It gets worse from there.

Just a reminder: Unions rake in millions for Democrats – Follow. The. Money.  Union employees are pro-tax increases and get to pressure their bosses – who they just happen to contribute big $$ to – to give them great wages and benefits.  What could go wrong?

Union treasuries – filled by dues paid by union members – not only fund programs benefiting union members and their families. The money they collect also pays six-figure compensation packages for labor leaders and provides millions of dollars for Democratic causes and candidates.

And before anyone claims that big business owns the Republicans, go see who is getting record contributions from Wall Street (Hint: President Obama).