Archive for September 2009

The Church Versus the World, by John MacArthur

September 19, 2009

The whole article here:

Why do evangelicals try so desperately to court the world’s favor? Churches plan their worship services to cater to the “unchurched.” Christian performers ape every worldly fad in music and entertainment. Preachers are terrified that the offense of the gospel might turn someone against them, so they deliberately omit the parts of the message the world might not approve of.

Evangelicalism seems to have been hijacked by legions of carnal spin-doctors, who are trying their best to convince the world that the church can be just as inclusive, pluralistic, and broad-minded as the most politically-correct worldling.

The quest for the world’s approval is nothing less than spiritual harlotry. In fact, that is precisely the imagery the apostle James used to describe it. He wrote: “Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4).

There is and always has been a fundamental, irreconcilable incompatibility between the church and the world. Christian thought is out of harmony with all the world’s philosophies. Genuine faith in Christ entails a denial of every worldly value. Biblical truth contradicts all the world’s religions. Christianity itself is therefore antithetical to virtually everything this world admires.

Jesus told His disciples, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:18-19).

Notice that our Lord considered it a given that the world would despise the church. Far from teaching His disciples to try to win the world’s favor by reinventing the gospel to suit worldly preferences, Jesus expressly warned that the quest for worldly accolades is a characteristic of false prophets: “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets” (Luke 6:26).

He further explained: “The world . . . hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil” (John 7:7). In other words, the world’s contempt for Christianity stems from moral, not intellectual, motives: “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed” (John 3:19-20). That is why no matter how dramatically worldly opinion might vary, Christian truth will never be popular with the world.

Yet in virtually every era of church history there have been people in the church who are convinced that the best way to win the world is by catering to worldly tastes. Such an approach has always been to the detriment of the gospel message. The only times the church has made any significant impact on the world are when the people of God have stood firm, refused to compromise, and boldly proclaimed the truth despite the world’s hostility. When Christians have shrunk away from the task of confronting popular worldly delusions with unpopular biblical truths, the church has invariably lost influence and impotently blended into the world. Both Scripture and history attest to that fact.

And the Christian message simply cannot be twisted to conform to the vicissitudes of worldly opinion. Biblical truth is fixed and constant, not subject to change or adaptation. Worldly opinion, on the other hand, is in constant flux. The various fads and philosophies that dominate the world change radically and regularly from generation to generation. The only thing that remains constant is the world’s hatred of Christ and His gospel.

In all likelihood, the world will not long embrace whatever ideology is in vogue this year. If the pattern of history is any indicator, by the time our great grandchildren become adults, worldly opinion will be dominated by a completely new system of belief and a whole different set of values. Tomorrow’s generation will renounce all of today’s fads and philosophies. But one thing will remain unchanged: until the Lord Himself returns and establishes His kingdom on earth, whatever ideology gains popularity in the world will be as hostile to biblical truth as all its predecessors have been.

Paul Washer on worship

September 10, 2009

The book of Psalms is a songbook. Of worship.
So yes, you can sing. But here is something it would be very important for you to understand: if you ever write a book on the doctrine of God, you’re gonna notice something very unusual. What I mean by the doctrine of God is you write a book on all the Bible teaching about the attributes of God. You know what you’re gonna discover? That more than 50 percent of your entire book will come from Psalms. You will find most of the texts about the attributes of God in the book of Psalms.

So our singing ought to be theological. And if you are gonna have a worship leader, he needs to be a theologian. He needs to know God. And he needs to walk in the fear of God and holiness probably even more than he who preaches the Word. It is a terrible thing what we do in churches in regard to worship. Because we do not know the fear of God. A young boy has a guitar and he can sing well…let’s have him lead worship. We ought to realize that in the book of Leviticus God killed two worship leaders. Because they did not worship Him conform to the Scriptures. Worship is a dangerous thing.

Another thing that we need to realize is this: worship is supposed to be didactic. It is supposed to be a tool for teaching. Let me read a text to you. Colossians 3:16:

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

So worship springs forth out of someone who is saturated by the Word of God. And and the purpose of singing in the church is first and foremost, to bless God. Secondly, it is didactic, to teach those who are singing, to admonish them, encourage them, and even be, I suppose, a witnessing tool for those who are listening that are unbelievers. This is a problem I have with much of the modern music. Not all of it, but a lot of it. They don’t follow these principles. It’s more about feelings.

I’m gonna be very honest with you. And if you’re gonna get angry with me,  just forgive me.
Much worship in the churches today is nothing more than a celebration of flesh. It is an exercise in emotions. If you begin to feel the presence of God during the high emphatic notes of the song, when the rhythm has been lifted up, and the music is just glorious, and you only feel the presence of God then, it’s not the presence of God you’re feeling. It’s emotion. I have known people, some of the holiest people I know, that would sit down and worship. They have no music. I’m not saying this is the only way to do it. It’s not. But they have no music. Someone would say “Let’s sing hymn number. 52” and they’ll start singing. And then another person will say, after it’s over: “what about hymn 103?” and they’ll start worshiping. They’re some of the godliest people I know on this planet. Who understand worship deeply. And yet you bring people to that church who are all about the music. And they’ll go “boy, this is dead”.  Because their idea of life is not the true presence of Christ. It’s these amazing songs that lift your emotions. There’s not necessarily something wrong with that, but be very careful. Once I was with a group and they said “God is here. Man, the music was going, God’s here!” I said “no, He’s not”. And they said “how do you know?” “Because most of you would be dead if God was here. Because He is a holy God. And you know the sin that is going on in this church. People get so in the flesh because they feel something.

I hear people say “I was shaving this morning and Jesus appeared to me”. Did you stop shaving? They’re so nonchalant about the presence of God. In the Bible when the presence of God showed up “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts”. Isaiah’s experience. You say “that’s Old Testament”. John on the isle of Patmos when Christ appears falls as a dead man. I’m not saying that the presence of God is always like that. But when it’s never like that, when it’s always “bless me, bless me, bless me”, “joy, joy, joy”, “dance, dance, dance”, something is terribly wrong.