Learning and Living the God-centered life

One Biblical Doctrine at a time…

Healthy Church

from blog site of Ray Ortlund

It’s what everyone needs. Everyone.

Gospel + safety + time. A lot of gospel + a lot of safety + a lot of time.

Gospel: good news for bad people through the finished work of Christ on the cross and the present power of the Holy Spirit. Multiple exposures. Constant immersion. Wave upon wave of grace and truth, according to the Bible.

Safety: a non-accusing environment: No finger-pointing. No embarrassing anyone. No manipulation. No oppression. No condescension. But respect and sympathy and understanding, where sinners can confess and unburden their souls.

Time: no pressure. Not even self-imposed pressure. No deadlines on growth. No rush. No hurry. But a lot of space for complicated people to rethink their lives at a deep level. If we relax, trusting in God’s patience, we actually get going.

This is what our churches must be: gentle environments of gospel + safety + time. It’s the only way anyone can ever change.

Who doesn’t need that?

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Bible Doctrine


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Feelings and Faith

Kurt Hein posted this on Facebook

Recap of CodeOrange

In this article Erin Benziger of the popular theological website “Do Not Be Surprised” gave this evaluation of the CodeOrange Revival.

Begrudgingly, I found myself watching all 12 nights of Steven Furtick's manufactured move of the Holy Spirit, otherwise known as the Code Orange Revival. It seemed appropriate, then, that on this, the first revival-less evening, to offer a brief recap of events. I know that many of my readers were unable to witness the Code Orange shenanigans for themselves, so I offer this summary to you as a bit of a public service:

Day 1: Craig Groeschel - Preached about himself.

Day 2: Jentezen Franklin - Preached about himself and wove [un]biblical mythology.

Day 3: Matt Chandler - Preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Day 4: Christine Caine - Preached about herself. Equated Elevation Church with the temple of Solomon's day.

Day 5: Ed Young, Jr. - Preached gibberish and nonsense. "The ring is the thing and the hope is the rope." People were furiously taking notes on this, so there must have been a hidden profundity that eluded me.

Day 6: Israel Houghton - Sang a bunch of praise choruses that are still twirling around in my head as a means of constant annoyance.

Day 7: Perry Noble - Preached about Steven Furtick and Elevation Church.

Day 8: Stovall Weems - Preached about himself. Allegorized and eisegeted the story of Noah.

Day 9: Kevin Gerald - Preached about himself.

Day 10: T.D. Jakes - Took two texts (Luke 8:40ff and Hebrews 4:15-16) that have nothing to do with one another, and proceeded to force them to cohabit based upon a common word found in the KJV, "touched."

Day 11: James MacDonald - Preached his "stock" sermon about repentance, perhaps in order to stay in good standing with the more conservative crowd.

Day 12: Steven Furtick - Preached exactly what Matt Chandler said not to preach by engaging in "narcigesis" with the story of David.

Learn to ask better questions

I had a boss years ago who used to teach “the quality of your life will be in direct response to the quality of questions that you ask.” There is a lot of truth in that statement. If you are a Christian some of the day to day or week to week questions you may be asking sound something like this:

Why can’t I find a job?
Why are my kids always rebelling?
Why can’t my wife just learn to support me?
Why do I always get behind the slowest and stupidest person in the grocery store?

However, according to Elyse Fitzpatrick who wrote “Because He Loves Me”, instead we should be asking the following questions.
  • Why would God send his Son to die for me, his wretched enemy? (Rom. 5:8, 10);
  • Why would he make him who knew - no sin to be sin so that I might reap all the benefits of his righteousness? (2 Cor. 5:21);
  • Why would I, who was dead in trespasses and corruption, who carried out every wicked desire of my body and mind and who was, by nature, a child of his wrath, be made alive together with Jesus?
  • Why should I be a par- taker of his never-dying life?
  • Why am I not hanging on a cross? The only answer to these questions is that God, who is rich in mercy, has loved us with his great love and showered us with his grace (Eph. 2:2-6). This is our identity!

Maybe my old boss was right about those questions.

Narcissistic Eisegesis

The Seeker-Friendly movement within Evangelicalism has led to a basic problem when it comes to the subject of Bible interpretation.
Here is a basic look at Bible interpretation over the 2000 years of church history. Even though this has been oversimplified I think it can help us understand what is happening today.

1. Orthodox - believes that the Bible is the word of God.
2. Liberal - believes that the Bible contains the word of God.
3. Neo-Orthodox - believes that the Bible becomes the word of God. (Seeker-Friendly, Emerging and Emergent)

The result of this Neo-Orthodox style of interpretation leads to Narcissistic Eisegesis:

Narcissistic Eisegesis ("Narcigesis") = Forcing the Bible to mean something you already want it to mean by superimposing yourself into the meaning of the passage, rather than interpreting Scripture for what it means about God, and letting the Scripture simply speak for itself. The key pointers are sermons where the pronouns I, me and my are prominent. In other words you hear mostly horizontal man centered messages instead of vertical God-centered messages.

Conversely, seeking to understand Scripture for what it reveals about God is known as Exegesis, and is also sometimes referred to as the "Literal" or "Grammatical-Historical" approach to interpreting Scripture. Example: The Narcissitic Eisegesis version of David and Goliath would be about you fighting your personal "giants" (i.e., problems, difficulties, setbacks, etc.). The Orthodox approach to interpreting David and Goliath would reveal, instead, an historical account of David's faith and God supernaturally intervening in an impossible situation for his own glory.

Structure of the Bible


Is the subject of the Bible you or God?

Here is a great video that teaches how we are to read and understand God’s word. The Bible first and foremost is not about you it is about God. If you read the Bible from a man-centered perspective you are setting yourself up for great failure. However if you learn to read the Bible from a God-centered point of view it will transform your life.

The Five Solas

The Latin word sola means "alone" or "only."

The Five Solas are five Latin phrases (or slogans) that emerged during the Protestant Reformation and that summarize the Reformers' basic theological convictions on what they believed to be the essentials of the Christian life and practice.

The Five Solas are:

1. Sola Scriptura (“Scripture alone”): Scripture alone is our highest authority.

2. Sola Fide (“faith alone”): We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone.

3. Sola Gratia (“grace alone”): We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone.

4. Solus Christus (“Christ alone”): Christ alone is our Lord, Savior, and King.

5. Soli Deo Gloria (“glory to God alone”): We live for the glory of God alone.

What are you leaning on this year?

This video provides a good object lesson regarding Christianity and a crutch.

Can a revival be planned?

Pastor Perry Nobel from NewSpring Church in Greenville, SC warns about churches that plan revivals. Wasn’t Perry one of the speakers this past week at the planned Code Orange Revival? Is this video in direct contrast to what is happening now at Elevation in Charlotte? If you ever watched the Lucille Ball television show then you will understand this next line…Pastor Perry you got some “splaining” to do.

Describing the gospel

From the pen of F.E. Marsh (a commentary that is coming soon to the Blue Letter Bible).

Divine Gospel. ”Separated unto the Gospel of God” (Romans 1:1).

Gracious Gospel. ”To testify the Gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24).

Wondrous Gospel. ”The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1).

Life-giving Gospel. ”In Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the Gospel” (1 Cor. 4:15).

Saving Gospel. ”The Gospel of your salvation” (Eph. 1:13).

Peace-securing Gospel. ”Your feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace” (Eph. 6:15).

Full Gospel. ”I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of the Gospel of Christ” (Rom. 15:29).

Powerful Gospel. ”I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation” (Rom. 1:16).

Practical Gospel. ”Only let your conversation be as it becometh the Gospel of Christ” (Phil. 1:27).

Glorious Gospel. ”Lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ” (2 Cor. 4:4).

Everlasting Gospel. ”Having the everlasting Gospel to preach unto them” (Rev. 14:6).


What does the word of God accomplish?

In The Gospel and Scripture: How to Read the Bible, Pastor Mike Bullmore has compiled a “representative sample” of what the Bible, itself, claims to do:
  • It initiates faith: “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ”
    (Rom. 10:17).

  • It gives new spiritual life: “You have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God” (1 Pet. 1:23).

  • It helps us grow spiritually: “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation”
    (1 Pet. 2:2).

  • It sanctifies: “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).

  • It searches the heart and convicts: “The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).

  • It liberates: “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31–32).

  • It refreshes and renews: “Give me life according to your word!” (Ps. 119:25).

  • It revives and enlightens: “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple” (Ps. 19:7; see also Ps. 19:8–11).

What is Inclusivism?

Pastor Joel Osteen Discusses Sin and the Path to God

Pastor Joel Osteen, one of America's most influential spiritual leaders, reveals how he would explain God to a nonbeliever. Plus, find out why he believes there are many paths to God (This is sadly mistaken when checked against Scripture) and invites everyone to be part of his congregation, despite his belief that homosexuality is a sin.

Joel Osteen does not get a pass in this interview with Oprah. His position is what we call inclusivism. This is not the orthodox position within the evangelical church. However it saddens me that we as Christians don’t understand why this kind of belief is NOT consistent with the Bible. And folks think about this, Joel Osteen pastors the largest church in America.

So you might ask, what does it mean to be an inclusivist and why is that a problem for Bible believing Christians. Well, I am glad you asked because here is an article from Trevin Wax that will help clear this matter up.

Understanding Inclusivism
“Jesus is the only way to God.”

“One must place faith in Christ in order to be saved.”

Most evangelicals affirm both of these statements as representative of biblical teaching. However, a number of evangelical leaders teach that Jesus is the only way to God (affirming statement 1), but that hearing and believing the gospel is not always necessary for salvation (denying statement 2). We call this position “inclusivism.” In other words, sincere adherents of other religions may be saved unknowingly through Jesus’ work.

Perhaps some find this view attractive because it softens the exclusive claims of Jesus without completely doing away with them. We can go right on saying “Jesus is the only way” while acknowledging the possibility that people outside the Christian faith may still be saved. Unfortunately, adopting the inclusivist approach does harm to our Christian witness by lessening the urgency of taking the gospel to people who have never heard of Jesus Christ. It also represents a capitulation to Western notions of “fairness,” subjective views of faith, and worldly descriptions of “goodness.” Read More...

Are you stuck?

From the blog site of Tony Reinke

Know this for your own personal life. Right now there’s not a person who is not stuck in something. You are stuck financially, or stuck in your health, or stuck in your marriage, or stuck in your vocation, or stuck in your spiritual growth. There’s not a person in this room who doesn’t feel in some sense: this is a moment when I’m not making any progress and everything seems futile that I try. That is never the case with the Christian! God is always doing more than you know — a thousand times more than you know. One of the great blessings of getting old is that you start to see the patterns and you can recognize them and not get so panicky as you were in your earlier years. [11/20/11 sermon video, 25:40­–26:40]
- Dr. John Piper


Contrast between religion and the gospel

This from the Gospel Coalition website

Justifying the contrast between religion and the gospel, Tim Keller has pointed out that the Greek word for “religion” used in James 1 is used negatively in Colossians 2:18 where it describes false asceticism, fleshly works-righteousness, and also in Acts 26:5 where Paul speaks of his pre-Christian life in strict “religion.” So, according to Keller, the word certainly has enough negative connotations to use as a fair title for the category of works-righteousness. In the Old Testament the prophets are devastating in their criticism of empty ritual and religious observances designed to bribe and appease God rather then serving, trusting, and loving him. The word “religion” isn’t used for this approach, but it’s a good way to describe what the prophets are condemning.

Keller goes on to tease out this distinction with this helpful comparison list:

RELIGION: I obey-therefore I’m accepted

THE GOSPEL: I’m accepted-therefore I obey.

RELIGION: Motivation is based on fear and insecurity

THE GOSPEL: Motivation is based on grateful joy.

RELIGION: I obey God in order to get things from God

THE GOSPEL: I obey God to get to God-to delight and resemble Him. Read More...

Here is the Matt Chandler Message

Over the weekend there was quite a stir on some of the theological blogs involving the CodeOrange Revival that is being hosted at Elevation Church. Matt Chandler, who is considered an orthodox evangelical, spoke on Thursday. His message was very strong and he had some very pointed words to say to those who attend Elevation Church. However when it came time to re-air the broadcast there was a decision made to cut out Matt’s message. Therefore the blogs started to stir and a number of people wondered if there was a problem with Matt’s message to the point that Stephen Furtick had it removed. However the next day it was aired twice and I must say the second time I heard the message it was even better.

I know numbers of people who attend Elevation and love the preaching, fellowship and community outreach. The only thing I want to address in this blog article is the preaching. My suggestion is that you listen to this message from Matt Chandler and see if this is the kind of message (regarding CONTENT) that you are hearing weekly at Elevation. Is there a constant reminder NOT of what you must DO but what has already been DONE for you by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ? What you are getting in this message from Matt is God-centered and not man-centered preaching. This is NOT about how to have a better sex life, how to manage your finances or even how to become a better leader, this is all about God.

Here is the message that Matt Chandler preached at the CodeOrange Revival. My suggestion is that you get a cup of coffee, tea or favorite beverage, get a notepad to list all the Bible references and then write a topic sentence that describes THEME of his message. Hope you enjoy!

Here is the AUDIO.

Code Orange Alert


Inquiring minds want to know so CLICK ON THIS LINK

Here is an update


Definition for Code Orange (according to Google’s online dictionary)

A message over a hospital’s public address system warning the staff of
(1) A bomb threat
(2) A radioactive spill
(3) A potentially violent person with mental issues in the hospital; show of force needed
(4) External disaster with mass casualties

Why I don't teach Christian Living Principles

First of all American Christians for the most part are check list, to do list and get it done type of people. Therefore if a pastor or teacher can provide 5 ways to live the abundant life then that is considered a great book or sermon series. I came across this article and was saying AMEN as I read it. Hope you enjoy!

This blog article is written by Lisa Robinson

Christian living principles, provide a methodology for how to approach spiritual life. It is basically a checklist for compliance for maintaining Christian growth. Here are some principles that I have found common
  • Pray
  • Read your bible
  • Maintain fellowship with other believers
  • Walk in integrity and honesty
  • Get involved with serving
  • Share your faith

While this may seem like a good list to give new Christians, I do not believe that ultimately compliance with principles is what leads to authentic Christian growth. In fact, I think this could actually be a hindrance and can ensnare new Christians as they strive to understand what the Christian life is about. So here are five reasons I do not teach Christian living principles.

1) Christian living principles do not teach the Christian how to grow spiritually. They only provide a standard for compliance.

2) Christian living principles can get confused for actual spiritual growth. A believer may get the impression that they are becoming a better Christian simply because of compliance. Conversely, they may feel they are not good Christians by lack of compliance. Rather, spiritual growth occurs when the believer is becoming more Christ-like, trusting in the completed work of the cross, yielding to the Holy Spirit and participating in active body life. This can only happen through authentic learning and support of the Christian community. Read More...

Subjective vs Objective Truth

If you were enjoying looking at a painting in an art gallery and someone came and stood next to you
and said, "I can't stand that painting," you would not say, Hey,you fool, what do you think you're
doing?" You might disagree, but it's a matter of opinion.

But if you went to the restaurant out on a balcony of the art gallery, and someone was to get up and stand on the railing as he was about to jump to his death five stories below, you might then say, "Hey, you fool, get down; what do you think you're doing? For our culture God is more like the painting, but for the Bible God is more like the gravity.
- Josh Moody, No Other Gospel

Justification and Sanctification

“Justification is the reckoning and counting a man to be righteous for the sake of another… Sanctification is the actual making a man inwardly righteous…”

“The righteousness we have by our justification is not our own… [it] is imputed to us… The righteousness we have by sanctification is our own… imparted [to us]”

“In justification our own works have no place at all… In sanctification our own works are of vast importance…”

“Justification is a finished and complete work… Sanctification is an imperfect work…”

“Justification admits no growth or increase… Sanctification is eminently a progressive work…”

“Justification… is not easily discerned by others. Sanctification… cannot be hid in its outward manifestation from the eyes of men.”

(J. C. Ryle, Holiness, Sovereign Grace Publishers, 2001, p.19)

Assurance in Christ

Martyn Lloyd-Jones writes:

We can put it this way: the man who has faith is the man who is no longer looking at himself and no longer looking to himself. He no longer looks at anything he once was. He does not look at what he is now. He does not even look at what he hopes to be as the result of his own efforts. He looks entirely to the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished work, and rests on that alone. He has ceased to say, “Ah yes, I used to commit terrible sins but I have done this and that.” He stops saying that. If he goes on saying that, he has not got faith. Faith speaks in an entirely different manner and makes a man say, “Yes I have sinned grievously, I have lived a life of sin, yet I know that I am a child of God because I am not resting on any righteousness of my own; my righteousness is in Jesus Christ and God has put that to my account.”

The Law crushes but the Gospel cures

Tullian Tchividjian writes;

The law reveals sin but is powerless to remove sin. It points to righteousness but can’t produce it. It shows us what godliness is, but it cannot make us godly.

So, the law serves us by showing us how to love God and others. But we fail to do this every day. And when we fail, it is the gospel which brings comfort by reminding us that God’s infinite approval of us doesn’t depend on our keeping of the law but on Christ’s keeping of the law for us. And guess what? This makes me want to obey him more, not less!

As Spurgeon wrote, “When I thought God was hard, I found it easy to sin; but when I found God so kind, so good, so overflowing with compassion, I smote upon my breast to think that I could ever have rebelled against One who loved me so, and sought my good.” Indeed, it is “the kindness of the Lord that leads to repentance” (Romans 2:4).

Online source

A simple chart


3 Goals for 2012

This come from Ron Edmonson’s blog

I want to incorporate these things into my own life for this new year.

  • I want my life defined more by devotion than by duty.
  • I want to meditate on God’s Word as much as I study or even teach God’s Word.
  • I want to praise more than I produce.

The "christian" culture


May I have your attention?

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. (Acts 17:11)

I commend scrupulous obedience to all of you, and especially to those young people who have lately made a profession of their faith in Christ.

Do not be as your fathers were, for the generation that is now going off the stage neither reads its Bible nor cares to know the Lord’s will. If people searched the Scriptures, we should find them come together in union; but the least read book in all the world, in proportion to circulation, is the Word of God.

It is distributed everywhere, but it is read scarcely anywhere with care and attention and with a sincere resolve to follow its precepts at all hazards. You come and listen to us, and we give you little bits taken from it here and there, but you do not get a fair notion of it as a whole.

How can you? Ministers make mistakes, and you follow them without inquiry. One elects this leader and another that, to the creation of varieties of opinions and even sects, which ought not to be, and would not be if all stood fast by the standard of inspired truth.

If the Bible were but read and prayed over, many errors would die a speedy death, and others would be sorely crippled. Had that inspired Book been read in the past, many errors would never have arisen. Search you, then, the Book of God, I pray you; and whatever you find there, be sure to attend thereto.

At all costs, keep to the Word of God.

Charles Spurgeon

Starting the New Year

Hymn from Frances Havergal.

Another year is dawning, dear Father, let it be
In working or in waiting, another year with Thee.
Another year of progress, another year of praise,
Another year of proving Thy presence all the days.

Another year of mercies, of faithfulness and grace,
Another year of gladness in the shining of Thy face;
Another year of leaning upon Thy loving breast;
Another year of trusting, of quiet, happy rest.

Another year of service, of witness for Thy love,
Another year of training for holier work above.
Another year is dawning, dear Father, let it be
On earth, or else in Heaven, another year for Thee.