Error, indeed, is never set forth in its naked deformity, lest, being thus exposed, it should at once be detected. But it is craftily decked out in an attractive dress, so as, by its outward form, to make it appear to the inexperienced (ridiculous as the expression may seem) more true than the truth itself. - Irenaeus

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Satire and Hyperbole in the Bible?

Satire is often a comical and sarcastic means to poke fun at the insanity of the human condition.  It can be linked to hyperbole or exaggeration to get the point across.  It is seen in the Bible in various forms.
In the story of Elijah confronting the false prophets of Baal he makes fun of their religious exercise in which they are cutting themselves and crying out to their god.  "Call out with a loud voice, for he is a god; either he is occupied or gone aside [on the toilet], or is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and needs to be awakened." (1 Kgs 18:27)

In 2 Kings chapter one we see one of the first references to Baal-zebub the god of Ekron.  This term came to be used as a derogatory term for the Lord of the demons or even Lord of flies later in history.  In the gospel Jesus was accused of being possessed by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons. (Mark 3:22-30).  He understood directly that they were saying he was empowered by the Devil.

Apostle Paul was quick witted against his accusers in Acts 23:2-3 when he called some religious fellows that struck him a "whitewashed wall".  They would have immediately understood his illustration from the prophet Ezekiel in which the false teachers hundreds of years earlier has tried to cover their wall of deception with whitewash (Eze. 13:10-14) and God had brought a rain of judgment upon them.

Paul at times expressed his frustration used hyperbolic language to describe the general nature of certain groups of people, which in our day would be considered hate speech or racist.  In his letter to Titus he refers to a prophet of the Cretans who says they are "always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons."  "This testimony is true.  For this cause reprove them severely that they may be sound in the faith" (Titus 12-13).

Biblical writers did not tiptoe around issues.  They got directly to the point.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Mercenary for Jesus?

Who at any time serves as a soldier at his own expense?
Apostle Paul (1 Cor. 9:7)

Over the years we have often had people come to us wanting us to fight some spiritual battle for them.  At times we have felt it was the right thing to do.  Other times it was clear that they simply did not want to get their hands or reputation tainted, therefore we would simply walk away.  There are times when we need to stand in the gap for those not equipped to do the job but it is quit frustrating when someone wants you to do all the hard lifting at your own expense while everyone else stands on the sidelines or in secret cheering you on.  At times we have received financial support totally without solicitation from those who understand the hardship or stress we have put ourselves in for the common good of man and the gospel.  Those behind the scene are much appreciated.  With or without the support of man or church organizations evangelists often dive into situations simply because they know God is telling them to do it.  They may react simply because they read it in the scripture or they may get some divine direction.  Once they have become used to following God's directing it often becomes part of their nature and a gift that becomes polished, and no person on earth is going to change their mind.  Thank God for all of his power, revelation and giftings that make it possible to do our job.

No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life,
so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.
Apostle Paul (2 Tim. 2:4)

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Sanitizing the Gospel

Over the years I have watched a pattern among Christians in which they try to sweeten up the gospel in order to get them into their church.  Some will remove crosses and any other symbols that might strike someone with bloody images of death.  They will remove hymns that speak of blood, conflict or warfare.  No more Battle Hymn of the Republic.  Then they will require that special clothes are worn in order to present a respectable image, a bit like the Mormon missionaries in their white shirt and ties.  No one will be allowed in the worship team if they have writing on their clothes (even though it might speak of the gospel or some biblical truth).  No John the Baptist eating bugs or wearing camel skin coats allowed.  He must stay out of view for fear of offending new comers.
This message is not welcome inside the church.
Nor would this truck be allowed to park in the church parking lot.  It sends the wrong message.  Some would go so far as to place a gay affirming sign out front in order to sweeten the invitation.
A Pastor once met with me and expressed concern that I did not show the love of Christ in a video we posted in which we reminded some Mormons with the words of Apostle Paul in Galatians chapter one that they were under a curse for believing and promoting Joseph Smith's nonsense. Apparently when Jesus sent out his disciples they were not very loving either when they responded to unbelievers by kicking the dust off of their feet against them and claimed that it would be more tolerable for Sodom in the day of judgment than for their city (Luke 10:12).
In some parts of the world Christians are being martyred for their uncompromising faith but in America if a church gets merely a nasty phone call about the gospel the church will immediately begin to backpedal to appease the Devil's little messengers.  Sometimes the Pastor is accommodating his board of elders who are weak-willed and have control over the purse strings and able to squeeze him financially.  In some parts of the world Christians have stood firm in their faith as their children were slain before their very eyes.  But in America if the children receive a little peer-pressure at school the Pastor is likely to lose members if he speaks too boldly in public. 
Apostle Paul wrote to a young Pastor named Timothy telling him that God did not give us a spirit of fear and encouraged him to do the work of an evangelist.  Evangelists are not welcome in many churches today because they ruffle feathers and make people uncomfortable.

"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to the own desires; and will turn aside to myths." (2 Tim. 4:3)

Few churches teach anything on apologetics in order to equip their people to defend their faith therefore when some false gospel shows up like "The Shack" they have no idea what to say or do. Even the more obvious cults are a mystery to many church folks and as long as the cultist says something positive about Jesus they simply smile and remain silent.
Evangelism for many churches is watered down to giving out bottles of water with something written on it about God's love.  Please don't mention that the wages of sin is death, that is way too negative.