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Monday, November 22, 2010

Lecrae Encore Concert

The Master's College and the Pastors' Bible Fellowship are sponsoring Reach Records' Encore concert at the Proud Bird on December 10th from 7-10pm. Click here to get tickets!

What LACBC Teaches about Salvation: Part 1 Total Depravity


As debates about the nature of salvation have gone through church history, we have tended to land on the sides of Augustine (the greatest of the early church fathers), Luther (the catalyst for the Protestant Reformation), and John Calvin (its greatest theologian). So that makes us in many ways reformed in our soteriology. The first great debate affecting the church’s understanding of salvation came in the 4th century between Augustine and Pelagius (the father of Christian liberals). Pelagius and his followers taught that Adam’s sin only injured Adam. Therefore, they hold that post-fall people have intact the natural endowments of conscience, reason, and free will (the ability to choose between good and evil). They believe what people need is reformation and not complete transformation in order to be saved. All humans, they believe, are able to live sinlessly and obtain salvation by their own powers apart from any special grace from God. Semi-pelagians believe God gives grace to those who worthily strive after what is good. Augustine’s biblical refutation of Pelagian’s view of the goodness of man is thorough. He argued from Scripture that all people are born in sin as a result of Adam’s sin. Luther affirmed our will is in bondage to sin. Calvin added that God sovereignly elects those who become Christians, draws them with an irresistible grace, and preserves them to the end. The greatly debated position within what is considered Calvinism is the doctrine of limited atonement. The next two studies will provide an overview of the main tenets of Calvin’s soteriology called the TULIP: Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace and the Perseverance of the saints.



The Bible teaches that sin has ruined everyone and that no one is exempt. Read the following verses and summarize the affects that sin has on everyone: (Gen 6:5; 2 Chron 6:36; John 8:34; Rom 3:10-12, 23; 5:12, 13, 17; 8:7-8; 1 Cor 2:14; Eph 2:1-3).

The doctrine of total depravity comes from original sin. Original sin defines the consequences (not act of the first/original sin of Adam) to the human race of Adam’s sin. In Adam’s sin the entire human race fell and became corrupted.

Read Romans 5:13-19 and answer “How and when did everyone sin?” according to verse 12.

Paul explains the theological ramifications of the Fall in these verses. The sin that all committed (5:12) was in Adam’s sin. Either because God views Adam as the representative of the entire human race or because the entire human race was in Adam (genetically) when he sinned, God imputed the consequences of Adam’s sin to everyone. This means two things: (1) Everyone inherited Adam’s sin nature and (2) the consequences of Adam’s sin—death both spiritual and physical.

What is the effect of original sin?

  1. No one will seek after God (Rom 3:10b).
  2. Everyone’s nature since the Fall has come under the power of evil from birth (Ps 51:5). Like King David every person is born in sin. This speaks of our condition of fallenness. We are not sinners because we sin. We sin because we are by nature sinners. “No one is perfect, and no one is even close to being perfect. We are all sinners.”
  3. There is nothing in us that will cooperate with God (Rom 8:8).

Total depravity does not mean utter depravity that everyone will always be as bad as they can possibly be. People can be religious and charitable, and giving (i.e., Mother Teresa). The totally depraved can pray, give, and fast, according to Jesus (Matthew 6:1-18).  Paul however explains in 1 Cor 13:1-3 that without genuine love for the God of the Bible the greatest philanthropist’s work is nothing before God.

Read and explain Isa 64:6. Even the so-called good things we do are not good because we do them with self-centered rather than God pleasing motives. Genesis 6:5 further explains how this is true. Without Christ, the very intents behind all of everyone’s thoughts are only evil and evil continuously.


Totally depravity instead means that the Fall affects our whole person in radical ways. It affects our bodies in that we get sick and die. It affects our minds. It is darkened and deprived of truth. It affects our will. We live in bondage to evil impulses. It affects our desires. We lust after sin, which wages war even against a believer’s soul.

The debate among Christians isn’t whether corruption is true, but to what degree. The word “radical” captures the idea of total depravity best. It means that sin has permeated to the core of our being. This rebuts the idea that people are basically (at their core) good. Sin comes from our hearts—the very center of our existence. Therefore, what must happen for sinners to become conformed to Christ is complete transformation, regeneration, and a spiritual renewal of the heart. Luther, who was an Augustinian monk, agreed with Augustine that the human will is in bondage to sin. Hence, sinners do not have a free-will. Man is dead in sin and cannot convert himself or prepare himself for salvation. In the Fall, man has not lost his power to make decisions but his moral power to desire knowing/loving God.

Semi-pelagians argue that it is not grace alone that saves. They believe it is grace plus a person’s cooperation with it. But Augustine argued we are saved by grace alone! Augustine argued that man, being dead in sin, has to be saved unilaterally by God in His grace (Eph 2:1-10). Until we are born of the Spirit, we are all flesh living in resistance to God. We do what we naturally desire (sin) and chose to do those things. Without a clear understanding and conviction in agreement with the doctrine of totally depravity, a person will have an eschewed understanding of the other doctrines related to soteriology.

1.     Can you think of churches and pastors today who have a Pelagian and Semi-pelagian views? Answer: All liberal churches, black liberation theology churches/religions (teach that only white people are evil, e.g., Louis Farrakhan). Also a growing number of positive motivational churches like Robert Schuller, Joel Olsteen types.
2.     How does a right understanding of the doctrine of totally depravity help the evangelist realize they have to rely upon God when sharing the Gospel?
3.     And what are clear signs that a person is relying upon God in their work of evangelism?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Does Struggling with Pornography Disqualify a Pastor from Ministry? Part 1 of 4

In December Covenant Eyes is releasing a new e-book for pastors who struggle with pornography. This post is part 1 of the chapter that I contributed to this soon to be released book. I'd love to get your feedback on these posts. This was easily one of the hardest writing projects that I have ever tackled. Here's part 1:

It seemed like just another picture perfect fall day. My grandfather called my teenage cousin and me to go with him for a ride. We loved to spend time with him—especially on road trips. As it turned out, this would be a very different kind of trip. Coughing all along the way, he drove straight to the hospital. While my cousin and I waited for hours, my grandfather was admitted. That was our final road trip. My grandfather died after a brief stay in the hospital. I loved my grandfather. It ached my heart to think, what if he had gone in sooner? Would his doctors have discovered the cancer in time? But men don’t like to go the doctor, do they? We don’t like to admit that we have problems, and we certainly hate confessing that we need help. But acquiescing to the fear of vulnerability and to our culture’s false standard of masculinity, i.e., “I’m a man, I can handle it” often makes for tragic endings. There’s a lesson in this for all pastors. Living by the motto “I don’t need help, and I can’t expose my vulnerabilities” can lead to ministerial death, even when Christ offers abundantly abounding grace to rescue us.

In his classic essay on the dangers of ministry, Donald Whitney writes in “The Almost Inevitable Ruin of Every Minister,” that:

Almost everyone knows someone who used to be in the ministry. Almost everyone knows someone who shouldn't be in the ministry. And every minister knows another minister—if not several—he does not want to be like. . . . So I think it's important to address the subject of: the almost inevitable ruin of every minister . . . and how to avoid it. Once when a Southern Baptist denominational executive was on the Midwestern Seminary campus in the late 1990s, he asserted that statistics show that for every twenty men who enter the ministry, by the time those men reach age sixty-five, only one will still be in the ministry.

Doesn’t your experience confirm Whitney’s warning—too many pastors don’t make it to the finish line (1 Cor 9:27)? With the pastoral canvas already strewn with landmines, another lethal one has appeared. As stats throughout this book confirm, porn to a staggering degree is infesting the lives of pastors. Churches and denominations are being forced to implement policies to handle this growing problem. The determinative factor regarding how to respond to pastors who struggle with porn must be found in the Word of God. It is, therefore, my aim in this chapter to provide an exegetical/theological study of critical passages in order to answer the question—“Does struggling with pornography disqualify a pastor from ministry?”

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

LACBC is a Cessationist Church Pt 3 Miracles, Signs & Wonders


In addition to the belief that revelatory and miraculous gifts are for the church today, the resurgence of Pentecostalism brought with it the signs and wonders movement. With a global outreach via Christian television broadcasting networks (like TBN), mega-star and mega rich faith healers have successfully spread their brand of Christianity all over the world. Starting in the 1920-30s with Aimee Semple McPherson, Oral Roberts in the 40s, Kathryn Kuhlman in the 50s, faith healers now include the biggest names in Christianity Fred Price, Benny Hinn, and others. Before we consider a biblical critique of the claims of faith healers, it would be helpful to gain a historical perspective by hearing the convictions of the early church fathers regarding the gifts of miracles.

Quotes from the Church Fathers
Below is a small but representative sample of quotes about the church’s conviction about miracles, prophecy, and tongues in the Fall 2004, Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal on 1 Corinthians 13:8-13.

John Chrysostom (c. 344–407):
This whole place [speaking about 1 Corinthians 12] is very obscure: but the obscurity is produced by our ignorance of the facts referred to and by their cessation, being such as then used to occur but now no longer take place.

Thomas Watson (c 1620–1686):
“Sure, there is as much need of ordination now as in Christ's time and in the time of the apostles, there being then extraordinary gifts in the church which are now ceased.”

Conyers Middleton (1683–1750):
We have no sufficient reason to believe, upon the authority of the primitive fathers, that any such powers were continued to the church, after the days of the Apostles.

George Whitefield (1714-1770):
[After being accused of practicing the miraculous gifts of the Spirit, said:]
I never did pretend to these extraordinary operations of working miracles, or speaking with tongues [since] the karismata, the miraculous gifts conferred on the primitive church . . . have long since ceased.

Arthur W. Pink (1886–1952):
As there were offices extraordinary (apostles and prophets) at the beginning of our dispensation, so there were gifts extraordinary; and as successors were not appointed for the former, so a continuance was never intended for the latter. The gifts were dependent upon the officers. We no longer have the apostles with us and therefore the supernatural gifts (the communication of which was an essential part of "the signs of an apostle," II Cor. 12:12) are absent.

BIBLICAL BASIS: The Truth about Signs and Wonders

  • Is it normative (normal) for God to raise up miracles workers among His people? While it is true that throughout history God has done and continues to do the miraculous, it is also true that only during three relatively short spans in all of history did He perform the miraculous through men gifted to perform signs and wonders. And never was it the case during any point in history that all believers performed miracles.
  • Why did miracles occur in biblical history? The Scriptures make it clear that God conferred miraculous gifts to Moses/Joshua, Elijah/Elisha, and Jesus/the apostles to validate/authenticate that they were His direct divine spokespersons (Exodus 4:1-5, 8-9; 14:31; 1 Kings 17:23-24; John 10:37-38; Acts 5:12; 2 Cor 12:12; Heb 2:4).
  • What is the NT evidence of the work of the Spirit? The Bible warns against those (Matt 7:22-23) who claim signs and wonders as being evidence of salvation. The fruit of the Spirit is a morally transformed life (Gal 5:16, 22-23) with no reference to revelatory or miraculous gifts (Eph 5:18ff).
  • Consider some of the extraordinary miracle workers in the Bible and answer the questions do the verified works of anything faith healer today remotely compare with them? (Exod 14:21-22; Deut 34:10-12; John 9:30-32; 11:43-44, 47; 53; 12:10-11; Acts 5:15-16; 9:36-37, 40; 19:12).
  • What does the following investigations suggest about today’s so-called faith healers? Following a Kathryn Kuhlman 1967 fellowship in Philadelphia, Dr. William A. Nolen conducted a case study of 23 people who claimed to have been cured during her services. Nolen's long term follow-ups concluded there were no cures in those cases. Furthermore, "one woman who was said to have been cured of spinal cancer threw away her brace and ran across the stage at Kuhlman's command; her spine collapsed the next day, according to Nolen, and she died four months later." Also the show 20/20 exposed TV Evangelist Peter Popoff as a fake. He pretended that God was revealing to him sick people in the audience when in fact one of his workers would read that person’s pray card to him through a hidden receiver in his ear. 20/20 picked up the frequency, heard, and documented the whole scam.


Many of today’s so-called faith healers are fake healers. They knowingly deceive vulnerable people desperate for help to rob them of their money. The Bible warns us, “but evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived,” 2 Tim 3:13.

So what do we do? (1) We believe that the miraculous gifts from Pentecost ceased, and yet we acknowledge that God can and does do miracles as it pleases Him (2) We limit fellowshipping in teaching venues with those who resist important doctrines. And (3) we reject fellowshipping with those who reject the essentials of our faith: the Trinity, advocating a false gospel, i.e., the Word Faith’s prosperity gospel, false teaching faith healers, etc.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Eddie Long LA Watts Times Article

Here's a link to the article (a previous post) "What should we learn from the Eddie Long scandal?" that I wrote for the LA Watts Times. I am thankful that they printed it. I hope that it sheds some light on how Christians should respond to pastoral scandals. 

A dear brother in the Lord, Eric Redmond, and I are actively pursuing a publisher to get a book out to address scandals in the church like this. As Christians, we need to "raise the bar" for what we will accept for biblical leadership and provide answers to  the excuses pastors use to stay in office after they have disqualified themselves. 

Last week, while I was lecturing to pastors in Kenya about the qualifications of leadership, one pastor told me that there is a hierarchy in their churches and that they just couldn't confront a pastor in sin. He said that after I had explained 1 Tim 5:20, which calls the church to publicly rebuke pastors who are in sin. So I read two others Scriptures to him. From Ephesians 1:20-22, I reminded him that the Father seated Christ far above all authorities and placed them far below His feet and that that includes bishops and celebrity pastors! Then I shared with him how in Galatians 2:11-14 the apostle Paul rebuked the chief apostle Peter in front of everyone because of Peter's hypocrisy. 

What congregations need today is a good ounce of courage, clear teaching about standards of leadership, and a renewed commitment to stop following so-called Christian leaders when those leaders stop following Christ. 

May God make us more loyal to the One who died to redeem us from our sinsto Christ alone.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Art of Marriage Guided Tour

I had the privilege of participating in this project, and I am anxiously looking forward to its world premiere on 2/11/11. To find out how your church can host this event go to Family Life Today for more information. I am sure that this will be a blessing to the engage and married couples in your church!

Monday, November 1, 2010

LACBC is a Cessationist Church Pt 2 Prophecy

HISTORICAL  CONNECTION: Quotes from the Church Fathers

Below is a small but representative sample of quotes about the church’s conviction about miracles, prophecy, and tongues in the Fall 2004, Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal on 1 Corinthians 13:8-13.

Augustine (354–430):
In the earliest times, “the Holy Ghost fell upon them that believed: and they spake with tongues,” which they had not learned, “as the Spirit gave them utterance.” These were signs adapted to the time. For there behooved to be that betokening of the Holy Spirit in all tongues, to shew that the Gospel of God was to run through all tongues over the whole earth. That thing was done for a betokening, and it passed away.

John Calvin (1509–1564):
“...the gift of healing, like the rest of the miracles, which the Lord willed to be brought forth for a time, has vanished away in order to make the preaching of the Gospel marvellous for ever.”

Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758):
Of the extraordinary gifts, they were given in order to the founding and establishing of the church in the world. But since the canon of Scriptures has been completed, and the Christian church fully founded and established, these extraordinary gifts have ceased.

Charles Spurgeon (1834–1892):
The works of the Holy Spirit which are at this time vouchsafed to the Church of God are every way as valuable as those earlier miraculous gifts which have departed from us. The work of the Holy Spirit, by which men are quickened from their death in sin, is not inferior to the power which made men speak with tongues.

[Speaking of the office of the apostles,] an office which necessarily dies out, and properly so, because the miraculous power also is withdrawn.

Benjamin B. Warfield (1887–1921):
These gifts were not the possession of the primitive Christian as such; nor for that matter of the Apostolic Church or the Apostolic age for themselves; they were distinctively the authentication of the Apostles. They were part of the credentials of the Apostles as the authoritative agents of God in founding the church. Their function thus confined them to distinctively the Apostolic Church and they necessarily passed away with it.

BIBLICAL BASIS: The Truth about Prophecy
  • Are modern day prophets often wrong? Yes, and in contradistinction to that, prophetic speech in the Bible is always 100% accurate (Deut 13:1-3; Jer 28:15-17; 2 Pet 2:1).
  • Does the Bible indicate that prophecy might cease, and if, yes, then how? Paul writes that when that which is perfect (teleios in the Greek) would come, prophecy would cease (1 Cor 13:10). The Greek word teleios can mean either mature or perfect, depending on the context. Paul didn’t know exactly when prophecy would end because he didn’t know exactly when Christ would return (soon or not so soon). So to indicate when prophecy might end, he used two illustrations. One pointed to maturity—the growing from a child to manhood—and the other the arrival of perfection—seeing face to face rather than in a mirror, which was a polished metal in his day and not very clear (1 Cor 13:11-12). Either would cause prophecy to cease. It just so happened that maturity came before perfection. We are still awaiting Jesus to bring in the perfect state of the Kingdom. Theologians debate whether the mature thing that ended prophecy was the completion of the canon or the church in general. I believe the completion of the NT canon is the stronger position. Because Christ tarried, then just as the OT canon of revelation was concluded, Paul anticipated that the prophetic process of writing the NT would one day be complete, mature or teleios.
  • Is God giving prophetic revelation today? No. Today God leads His people through the illuminating work of the Spirit based upon the revelation of His Word. No one today can add any so-called prophetic truth to the Bible (Rev 22:18-19).


Pentecostalism/Charismatic theology in its milder forms leaves the door open for revelation, which inadvertently suggests that the Scriptures are not sufficient (2 Tim 3:16-17). The language the “Lord told me to tell you” is theologically invalid and dangerous. If God indeed spoke to anyone, telling them to tell someone something, then the hearer is placed under the weight of having to obey because they’ve just heard the infallible will of God. No one should feel compelled to obey the voice of “God told me to tell you.” Why? Precisely because the claim of hearing prophetic revelation from God isn’t valid. God leads, guides, illumines us, but He doesn’t communicate in the revelatory sense of speaking to us outside of His Word. The P/C movement has totally confused these important theological distinctions and in doing so has left many people open to the deception of believing what someone tells them is God’s Word for their lives when it may not be.

But also many P/Cs love the Lord and the truths we hold as essential. Our difference should not keep us from fellowshipping together on almost any level except in church membership.

So what do we do? (1) We believe that revelatory gifts ceased (1 Cor 13:8) and yet we fellowship with those who believe all the other essentials of our faith. (2) We limit fellowshipping in teaching venues with those who resist important doctrines. And (3) we reject fellowshipping with those who reject the essentials of our faith: the Trinity, advocating a false gospel, i.e., the Word Faith’s prosperity gospel, etc.