Love, Prayer and Forgiveness: When Basics Become Heresies

LoveCover

The Short Review: Buy this book!

The Long Review:

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children (Hosea 4:6).

 ~

The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

 ~

  Modern Christianity is in the process of reliving history before a watching world. Like the Israelites of old, many of today’s Christians have tired of hearing the Word of God and following its instructions. Professing Christians don’t want mere Christianity any more: they want ”Christianity And” – a Christianity that is blended with popular yet ungodly ideas and practices. This syncretism, which Michael Snow aptly describes as an “unholy conjunction” between Biblical Christianity and non-Christian worldviews, has led the visible church to embrace all manner of harmful practices and heresies. Three doctrines which have been tainted by heretical concepts are those of love, prayer, and forgiveness:

As the powerful wind of the Zeitgeist (the spirit of the times—remember this word!) blows us along a new path, we take basic Christian essentials like love, prayer, and forgiveness and hook them up backwards. We hack them from their roots in the Bible and turn them into heresies.

How did we get here? Quite simply, we have forgotten the whole counsel of God (p. 13).

Love, Prayer and Forgiveness: When Basics Become Heresies is Mr. Snow’s reminder to a Christianity gone astray of what the Almighty actually requires of His people.

In this engaging and easy read, Mr. Snow argues that today’s Christians want love without obedience, prayer without exhortation, and forgiveness without repentance – concepts the Bible inextricably intertwines. When it comes to love, for instance, Christians have combined a biblically anemic notion of love with ideas drawn from pop psychology and philosophy. At the same time, they have divorced love from the biblical commands of obedience. As a result, any rebuking or church discipline of unrepentant sinners is characterized as Unloving and Negative. Yet, Being Nice and “winking at sin” is not being loving at all, as Mr. Snow correctly notes: “We do not truly love people when we will not confront them” (p. 28), and

Just as Paul could not, Christians who love cannot remain silent when face to face with fellow believers who are departing from the narrow way. Though Scripture mandates that we speak up, this imperative sounds off-key to generations that have allowed the faceless Zeitgeist to explain away God’s word through today’s fads (page 30).

The refusal to address disobedience in professing Christians has led the church to embrace the utilitarian idea that an unbiblical form of love will solve all of life’s problems. Such an approach is wreaking havoc in today’s churches:

The great lie of our day is that love has nothing to do with obedience. Our fellow Christians, openly, with premeditation, break Christ’s commands while proclaiming their peace with God. The most heart-wrenching example of that is the Christian who abandons his or her mate and children. Other horrendous examples include abortionists and divorce lawyers in our churches. Then there are those Christians committing fornication, adultery, or homosexual acts. These practices all flourish among us today (page 37).

In short, by embracing a false concept of love, Christians actually end up tolerating and condoning, if not promoting, some of the most unloving behavior imaginable. I have been on the receiving end of such “heart-wrenching” actions and I can personally attest to the devastation caused. It’s grievous enough when a professing Christian openly and unrepentantly sins against another believer. It’s downright tragic when that Christian’s church holds him up as a role model to emulate while at the same time characterizing his victim as an Unloving Unforgiver. Is this the way God’s people are supposed to minister to one another? Is this the witness God’s people want to share with the world?

The situation for the visible church only gets worse, though, because a heretical view of love is only one of the places where it has gone off track. When heretical love is combined with heretical views of prayer and forgiveness, the professing church creates, in the very least, a toxic environment for its members. The trail of broken and devastated lives in today’s churches loudly testifies to this fact. I won’t detail all of the heresies the church has embraced in these areas and how they have harmed others, but I will urge you to pick up a copy of Love, Prayer and Forgiveness: When Basics Become Heresies to find out. Mr. Snow’s theological accuracy and insightful diagnosis of the many heresies plaguing the professing church is sure to both encourage those who hold fast to biblical truths and comfort those who have been hurt by the application of bad doctrine in their congregations. Suffice it to say that this is not a laughing matter and should not be taken lightly by anyone who is serious about following God. As Mr. Snow again rightly notes, “Eternal consequences follow our conduct in this life” (p. 53). Sobering thought.

So what is the solution to the quagmire in which the church now finds itself? The solution Mr. Snow urges is the same solution the Israelites of old found after reaping the consequences of their disobedience: Repent. Return to God and His ways. Remember the whole counsel of God – and put it into practice:

Only in acknowledging the authority of the whole counsel of God and acting upon it do we hold any hope of pursuing that holiness to which we are called. The only hope of seeing a revival of the Church lies in a holy pursuit (p. 120).

In these days where Protestantism has once again been declared dead, professing Christendom is sorely in need of a revival. Only time will tell whether or not that long-hoped-and-prayed-for revival comes. The road to re-climbing to the height from which the church has fallen starts with one person at a time returning to biblical truth and walking the narrow path. It is my hope that more and more people will do so in my lifetime. In the meantime, though, I urge you to pick up a copy of Love, Prayer and Forgiveness: When Basics Become Heresies to see how God’s doctrines are supposed to be “hooked up” and to receive encouragement to keep fighting the good fight. May all who claim the name of Christ truly return to the Lord and serve Him with gladness.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a free copy of this book in order to write this review. I was not required to write a positive review of this book.

Around the Web, July 2014

1116171_69997734

Here are some of the headlines that caught my eye this past month:

Religion

‘My daughter may never walk properly': Sudanese mother sentenced to hang for converting to Christianity reveals doctors’ fears for the baby she gave birth to while in chains

EXCLUSIVE: Sudanese mother put on death row for marrying a Christian could now face new trial after her own brother blocked her escape to the US

The baby born on a prison floor to a mother in shackles is blessed by the Pope: Sudanese woman who was put on death row for marrying a Christian meets Francis after traveling to Rome

~

Half-baked bigotry: These family bakers have been persecuted for refusing to make a cake celebrating gay marriage. Here they insist: it’s the bullies who are intolerant, not us

‘Let us run our business in a Christian way': Baker threatened with legal action for refusing to make gay cake says he is determined to make a stand

~

Facebook says page calling for death to Jews doesn’t violate ‘community standards’

Rising tide of anti-semitism in Britain as Jewish people face backlash over bloodshed in Gaza

‘We are looking at the beginnings of a Holocaust’

~

Iraq crisis: End ‘very near’ for Christianity after Isis takeover, says Bishop

Mosul, Iraq: Islam rationing food, water, power to Christians and Shiite Muslims

One of the oldest Christian communities has been destroyed as the Sunni Caliphate spreads

~

Anti-Religious Discrimination in the Workplace

Anything to confess, Putin? Russian president in church as world leaders warn him you can’t ‘wash your hands’ of MH17 disaster

Christian group ‘banned’ from holding bible meeting in pub named after Sunday School founder after landlord said ‘religion and pubs don’t mix’

Christian sentenced by Iranian judge to have his lips burnt with a cigarette for eating during Ramadan

Chuck Schumer Says Religion No Longer a Constitutional Freedom

Church at war in row over assisted dying: Rejection of the right to die challenged by senior Anglicans including former Archbishop of Canterbury

‘I did not respect our traditions, so they killed my babies': Agony of Ethiopian mother whose 15 ‘cursed’ children were thrown to hungry crocodiles by tribal elders

More Evangelicals Are Embracing Gay Marriage

Oh Buddha! Ex-archbishop Rowan Williams reveals he meditates for 40 minutes every day to help clear his mind for prayers

Report: Houses of Worship Declining Across U.S.

Tears of joy for the supporters of women bishops as Church of England finally gives go-ahead to females at the highest ranks of the clergy

The Choice Facing the West.  Great Quote: “Christianity will survive its abandonment by Western civilization. Western civilization will not survive its abandonment of Christianity.”

UK: Christian suspended for bullying Muslim by giving her Christian book

Why Muslims Are Becoming the Best Evangelists

Law, Politics, Economics, Social

11 Tactics Used by the Mainstream Media to Manufacture Consent for the Oligarchy

20 Examples of What Liberalism REALLY Is

300 Articles You Have to Read to Understand What Is Meant by the Term “Homofascism”

L’Etat, C’est Gay: Taking the New Sexual Fascism Seriously

650 paedophile suspects held in huge crackdown: Doctors, teachers and police seized… and 430 children now ‘safe’

2nd VIEW: In China, pro-life movement gets toehold

Australian judge says incest may no longer be a taboo

Australia judge probed for saying incest ‘may be accepted’

Biden Says Protecting Gay Rights More Important than Christian Values

Britain’s Plague of Pederasty and Power

Canadian Lawyers Rally Against Christian Law School Grads

China warns officials against aping Western morality

Clipped wings generation: 2million people aged 20-34 have jobs but still live at home because they cannot afford to fly the nest

Demographic Suicide and Ethnic Replacement

Government survey: Gay population smaller than previously thought

Is the internet turning into BIG BROTHER? Everything we read, watch and buy online will be controlled by government by 2025, claim experts

Margaret Thatcher ‘personally covered up’ child abuse allegations against senior ministers

Obama ‘threatens Fox News reporter’s career’

‘Paedophilia is natural and normal for males’

Premier Kathleen Wynne whistles past the fiscal graveyard

Senators Propose Bill to Reverse Hobby Lobby Decision and Reinstate Abortion Pill Mandate

Theme park employees caught in sex stings, child porn arrests

Thou shalt not steal – or…?

U.N. seeking to intervene in U.S. border crisis

‘US hegemony in world has ended’ – Russia’s deputy security chief

US is no safer after 13 years of war, a top Pentagon official says

Vox: Pro-Life Movement Winning

What Did US Spy Satellites See in Ukraine?

Will the United States ever be free again?

Family

Breadwinner father and stay-at-home mothers on the decline as just one in five families are now considered ‘traditional’

British mother abandons her three children to marry Texas violent prisoner she met online after becoming ‘impressed with his honesty’

Children with same-sex parents happier and healthier than those from traditional families, study shows

Darwin + Title IX = Idiocracy

Mom suffocated her toddler son because she ‘didn’t want him any more’ – then posted pictures of his body on FACEBOOK

‘Sometimes I think I’m a bad mum, but I wouldn’t change what I’ve done': Wife who abandoned her husband and 12 children to run off with young lover hits back at claims she is ‘despicable’

The wife who’s aborted two babies – because she’s too selfish to share her husband: It’s a shocking confession. But Rowena is utterly unrepentant – and even insists more women should follow her example

Women can’t have it all, says Pepsi’s mother-of-two boss: Chief says she ‘dies with guilt’ over compromises she makes to balance career and family life

History

Nazi poster girl who was declared the ideal Aryan baby in propaganda material is revealed to have been JEWISH

Health

Another giant nail in the coffin of psychiatry

Ben Carson: Abortion Equal to Human Sacrifice

Citing ‘exploding’ HIV epidemic, WHO says all gay men should consider taking antitretroviral drugs

Ginger Induces Leukemia Cell Suicide

Lack of sleep implants ‘false’ memories in brain

Morning sickness isn’t ALL bad news: Women battling the condition may have ‘healthier, more intelligent babies’

The bad science of food

Science

Bad science: When ‘breakthrough research’ turns out to be fraudulent

Female brains really ARE different to male minds with women possessing better recall and men excelling at maths

How the NSA hacks PCs, phones, routers, hard disks ‘at speed of light': Spy tech catalog leaks

How to Fall 35,000 Feet–And Survive

Is the Yeti the polar bear’s very old cousin? DNA analysis of Himalayan hair samples finds exact match to extinct species

Scholarly journal retracts 60 articles, smashes ‘peer review ring’

Scientist fired for discovery and here

Scientists have NO idea how planets form: Discovery of hundreds of new worlds has left experts baffled

The tree that bears 40 DIFFERENT fruit: Magical-looking plant produces varieties of peaches, plums, apricots and cherries

Logic

The slippery slope is not a logical fallacy

Missing 411-ish

Tragedy as body of missing firefighter who disappeared in national forest two weeks ago while looking for his dog is discovered… days after the animal was found waiting forlornly by his truck

Miscellaneous

20 Signs The Epic Drought In The Western United States Is Starting To Become Apocalyptic

Did this boy have a premonition of the MH17 crash? Dutch child, 11, asked his mother ‘what would happen to me if I died’ the night before he was killed in tragedy

The Illuminati Depopulation Agenda

Unthankfulness Provokes God to Restrain His Favours

Rest and be thankful - geograph.org.uk - 575052Unthankfulness mars the course of divine communications; but to the thankful it is opened, Phil. 4:6. Ingratitude among men provokes the liberal person to withhold his hand; and so does it provoke the holy God, the giver of all good, to restrain his favours. Alas! it is more natural to us to ask than to give thanks. Among ten seekers (the lepers), whom Christ cured of a very inveterate disease, there was but one thanker; and he is specially noticed in the gospel history. We should never beg a mercy from the Lord without heartily thanking him for all we have formerly received, as this is the ready way to procure more.

~Thomas Boston, Works, 2:537-538

Source: http://www.puritanboard.com/f25/more-natural-us-ask-than-give-thanks-83226/, Comment #1 (Thank You, Reverend Winzer!)

Photo: Rest and Be Thankful by Simon Johnston (click photo for more details)

Will Love Change The Unloveable?

I’m not sure this is always true.  I have had situations where the more merciful and forgiving I was to someone, the more they made me a target.  It’s a nice thought, though, and I know it works in at least some cases:


 

Master of Alkmaar - The Seven Works of Mercy (detail) - WGA14368Let’s face it, there are some people who are never going to change apart from a miracle. But there is still something we can do about it. In Romans 1 we read about those who can’t receive the truth of God…they are unthankful, unmerciful, and unforgiving. (Rom 1:31) In contrast to these unthankful, unmerciful, and unforgiving people, the way to reach them is to be thankful, merciful, and forgiving toward them! And it works. In fact, the more you lift up others who don’t deserve it, the less of a target you become, especially when you start to spend and be spent with great pleasure.

Making ready a people prepared for the Lord.

~Mark Hamby

Source: http://paultheslave.wordpress.com/2014/05/29/love-the-unloveable-even-if-they-dont-love-you-back/

The Funny Thing About Fossils

652px-Wanneria_sp.,_Early_Cambrian,_Eager_Formation,_Cranbrook,_BC,_Canada_-_Houston_Museum_of_Natural_Science_-_DSC01398

A Christian was recently fired for making a scientific discovery that affirms the Christian worldview.  This should be a reminder to all that “science” is not neutral:

[T]he complaint alleges one of Armitage’s superiors screamed at him, “We are not going to tolerate your religion in this department!”

Why did CSUN fire a scientist directing a key laboratory? Because he found something the scientific community refuses to believe anyone could possibly find. He found soft tissue in a dinosaur bone. A bone for a creature that, according to convention, died at least 60 million years ago.

Read more: http://www.examiner.com/article/scientist-fired-for-discovery

and: http://www.conservativenewsandviews.com/2014/07/24/creation/scientist-fired-discovery/

If Everything’s Just An Opinion, Then Who Are You To Complain?

Biblical Landmarks demonstrates that the Christian worldview is inescapable:


ChancelWindowTruthIf man can determine the meaning of ANYTHING without God, then therein lies the ultimate idolatry, and back to the problem of Gen. 3:5, man determining what is true or false—without God.

But in order to KNOW that what he has is true, man needs a reference point that is unchangeable, and the only unchangeable reference point is God, because with Him there are no ‘new’ discoveries. He knows everything. And if there is no infallible Scripture from God, then the very idea of truth flies out the window. Without a word from God man must depend upon himself to determine what is true or false, right or wrong.

Thus, in order to be able to argue against the Biblical worldview, you have to accept its fundamental principles, that there are universal truths. If you don’t accept this, you have only your opinion, and there are no binding reasons to accept an “opinion”. If there are only opinion, on this basis, Hitler had his opinion, and who are you to complain.

Read more: http://biblicallandmarks.com/wpl/lies-damned-lies-and-philosophy/#more-311

Man’s So-Called Free Will

JohnNelsonDarby

“This re-appearance of the doctrine of freewill serves to support that of the pretension of the natural man to be not irremediably fallen, for this is what such doctrine tends to. All who have never been deeply convicted of sin, all persons in whom this conviction is based on gross external sins, believe more or less in freewill.” – Man’s So-Called Freewill, John Nelson Darby

Source: http://feileadhmor.wordpress.com/2014/04/19/mans-so-called-freewill/

Repentance is a Practical Thing

The_Moneychangers006a

The Moneychangers

Repentance is a practical thing. It is not enough to bemoan the desecration of the temple of the heart, we must scourge out the buyers and sellers, and overturn the tables of the money changers. A pardoned sinner will hate the sins which cost the Saviour his blood. Grace and sin are quarrelsome neighbours, and one or the other must go to the wall.

~Charles Spurgeon

Source: http://abbasgirlme.wordpress.com/2014/04/23/repentance-is-a-practical-thing/

Contempt Scares Many From The Religion That We Profess

Messkirch Mocking of Christ (detail)That religion, that tends not to the good of society, what does it avail? Suppose a professor to have a graceless neighbour, can he take a readier way to stumble him at religion, than to be an ill and unconscionable neighbour? That is a remarkable admonition, 1 Tim. 6:1, “Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.” Many pride themselves in their contempt of magistrates and their authority; but I am convinced it has no small influence on the malignancy and atheism of the age, and scares many from the religion that we profess.

~ Thomas Boston, Works 2:211

Source: http://www.puritanboard.com/f25/contempt-scares-many-religion-we-profess-82861/, Comment #1

Photo: Mockery of Christ, Meister von Meßkirch [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Bulwarks of Protestantism

Prayer002

“Family prayer and the pulpit are the bulwarks of Protestantism! Depend upon it, when family piety goes down, the life of godliness will become very low. In Europe, at any rate, seeing that the Christian faith began with a converted household, we ought to seek after the conversion of all our families and to maintain within our houses the good and holy practice of family worship.”

~Charles Spurgeon, Sermon #2222, 1891

Source: http://samuelatgilgal.wordpress.com/2014/05/10/family/

It is in the home that we get the truest proof of godliness

1181526_18565339“There is a great deal in the way in which a man walks in his house. It will not do to be a saint abroad and a devil at home! There are some of that kind. They are wonderfully sweet at a Prayer Meeting, but they are dreadfully sour to their wives and children. This will never do! Every genuine Believer should say, and mean it, ‘I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.’ It is in the home that we get the truest proof of godliness. ‘What sort of a man is he?’ said one to George Whitefield, and Whitefield answered, ‘I cannot say, for I never lived with him.’ That is the way to test a man—to live with him.”

Charles Spurgeon, Sermon #2362, 1894

Source: http://samuelatgilgal.wordpress.com/2014/05/10/family/

Turned Away

I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink (Matthew 25:35)

Humanitarian aid OCPA-2005-10-28-090517aBy Technical Sergeant Mike Buytas of the United States Air Force [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons 

…I’ve known other dear brothers and sisters who have been turned away in times of need and brokenness. I’m fearful that I myself might have at some point been guilty of turning one away who needed a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, some words of wisdom. God forgive me if I have turned Your hurting ones away!

~The always inspiring Anna Wood, http://annawood.wordpress.com/2014/06/01/the-god-who-runs/

Church Growth, Reformed Style

Helping hand shakes another in an agreement

I really enjoyed reading about how the RPCNA denomination has approached the issue of church growth:

From its inception, each new congregation has had a strong vision to plant a church in the next small town, or another part of the same city. The churches are warmly evangelical-hearted and confessionally Reformed, with simple worship focused on expository, applied preaching and congregational, acapella Psalm singing.  Their membership is generally reflective of the demographic of their communities.

No gimmicks.  No “relevant” worship.  Just the plain word of God and the simple worship He commands.

Of the “key aspects” discussed in the article, I can see some areas where the churches in my city could improve; namely, really being willing to come alongside people where they are and walk with them along the way.  In addition, the sense of truly being part of a community and reaching out to others is somewhat lacking in the Reformed churches I have attended (unless you are one of the congregants who is related to everyone else in the congregation!).  I would like to help remedy that.

I believe Rosaria Butterfield belongs to the denomination under discussion in the article.  Her book, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, gives a good picture of how this type of outward ministry looks.

Read more of the church growth article: http://reformation21.org/articles/discipleship-and-planting-churches.php