Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Commanded to Hate? 10/19/2013

Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. (Luke 14:25-27)

Our Brother, Mark, was blessed to receive the most notable heckling of the evening. A young, guitar-wielding man who is known to us from North Hollywood MTA station stopped briefly to respond to Mark's comments challenging the theory of evolution. After a brief interchange, Mark gave him the Good Person test, leading to this discussion:

Mark: We have all committed sins against God. What's going to happen when you die and you stand before Him in judgment?
Heckler: I'm not going to stand before anybody when I die.
M: No, you will. That's a guaranteed thing.
H: We stand in judgment before one another.
M: No, we love one another, and we tell the truth to one another. I don't judge you. I love you. I don't want you to go to hell.
H: That's a cop-out. Judgment is me and you. It's really about works, okay?
M: What type of works?
H: It's about good works.
M: What good works? All of our works are like filthy rags before God. No one can earn their way to heaven. It is a free gift from God.
H: We have to (do good works)
M: Second Timothy (1:9) says, '(He) has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus (before time began)'
H: Read Luke 14:26. That's just a contradiction of the whole Christ message there!
(Ed. Note - This was the same request this heckler made on several occasions in North Hollywood, believing that it reveals a contradiction. Seems he's stuck on this one verse.)

Mark proceeded to read aloud Luke 14:26 (see above). Seizing upon the word "hate" the heckler began screaming the word "HATE!" and stormed off, unwilling to listen to a reasonable explanation.
Mark went on to explain to those present, that this was a classic example of taking a scripture out of context and misinterpreting it.

Here is an explanation of the passage from The Evidence Bible:

Jesus used what is called "hyperbole" -- a statement of extremes, contrasting love with hate for emphasis' sake. The Bible often does this (Proverbs 13:24; 29:24). Jesus tells us that the first and greatest Commandment is to love God with all of our heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22:37,38). As much as we treasure our spouse and family, and even our own life, there should be no one whom we love and value more than God, no one who takes precedence in our life. To place love for another (including oneself) above God is idolatry.

Preachers of Burbank

The Team, this evening, included Mark, Jeremy, Steve M., Dean C., Sai, Sharon, Debbie, Jack and Steven V.

 There is a new television series, on a cable channel, that features a handful of self-proclaimed "preachers" who head up congregations in the Los Angeles area. The series is receiving much attention because these men proclaim a false "prosperity" gospel and live lifestyles of conspicuous consumption, shameless sin and lawlessness. The reason that we are referencing this show is that it will be yet another cultural touchstone which will be in peoples minds as they respond to the open air preaching of the gospel. In the minds of some, we will inevitably be lumped into the same bread as this leaven, and so we should be prepared to answer with gentleness and scripture when we are asked about, or confronted with, the wretched excesses of these false teachers.

Viewing of the show is not recommended, however there is a promotional video on YouTube which introduces the "cast" and shows enough of the content of the series to immediately set off every red flag of discernment in any believer's heart. But the important thing is to prepare to respond to questions, and indeed, to use references to the program to exemplify what Christianity is NOT.

A few observations:

- Where is the repentance? These men are prideful and quick to forgive themselves for every manner of lawlessness.
- These men appear to be without accountability to any observable spiritual authority.
- Discernment and scriptural study and understanding seem to be non-existent. They appear to have each invented his own doctrinal creed cobbled together from myriad word-of-faith prosperity teachers.
- Verbal loquaciousness is perceived as God's anointing.
- Eisegesis not exegesis.
- Money and fame are their idols.
- The name of Jesus is abused.

Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits... Not everyone who says to Me, "Lord, Lord," shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. . . And then I will declare to them, "I never knew you, depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!" (Matthew 7:15,21,23)

But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words, for a long time their judgment has been idle, and their destruction does not slumber. (2 Peter 2:1-3)

Perhaps an unintended benefit of this program is that by blatantly parading their sinful and blasphemous idolatry these individuals will draw into sharp focus the errors of the so-called "prosperity gospel." Sadly, these men serve as a sort of Venus Fly Trap to undiscerning unbelievers who seek after the financial gain that is the sole focus of such "ministries."

King James Only Controversy

Occasionally we are challenged by a believer who asks us what version of the Bible we are distributing. Almost without exception this leads to an admonishment about the necessity to use the King James version only. Sometimes, people who advocate this position are quite dogmatic and narrowly focused on the issue. There are many resources available on this topic, including the book, "The King James Only Controversy," by James R. White. This article, by Ben Rast of Contender Ministries, provides a good introduction to the topic, as well as some good responses to have on hand which may serve to defuse the issue so that the gospel may go forth unhindered. This issue can easily become an idol to some.

How to Think and Act in Evil Days, Part 2

Here is a followup to the first part which was posted here last week. This is perhaps one of John MacArthur's most important sermons, delivered just last March, and based upon the following passage from Matthew:

You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.' (Matthew 5:43-48 NKJV)

One More (Very Cool) Item

On October 5th, Ray Comfort (seen here with our brother Dave, from an old blogpost) was the keynote speaker at the CBC Awana Conference. Follow this link and scroll down to the bottom of the page to listen to his presentation. Maybe someday he'll show up to go witnessing with us in Burbank! Now that would be cool. You're always welcome, Ray! (And you too, Dave!!)

Join us! Saturday, October 26, 6:00 pm, at Burbank Police Dept. parking lot. (Entrance on Palm Ave. just south of Glenoaks.)

Don't forget our Hollywood/Halloween outreach on Thursday, Oct. 31! (See the sidebar for info.)

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