An Open Letter to John MacArthur

Dear John, [Wikipedia profile for John MacArthur; John’s web site]

In this video clip, you say that the best way to find a good church is to look for one that “really takes the Bible seriously.”  However, any church that actually takes the Bible seriously will sooner or later abandon the church so that it can pursue the kingdom of God.  Therefore, you can know that a church is not taking the Bible seriously and not seeking the kingdom of God simply by the fact that it continues to exist as an institution.

Instead of pointing people to a church, you should be pointing them to a Savior – Christ Jesus our Lord!  If they find and cling to Him, they will be His true church.

How to Be in the One True Church

Sincerely,

Mike Gantt

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26ChjHpOUMA]

Names of the Lord: Jesus Is the Mustard Seed

In Matthew 13:31-32, Jesus told the short parable of the mustard seed.  He said that even though it’s the smallest of garden seeds, it produces the largest of garden plants.  And indeed the size of the seed does not determine the size of the tree.

Jesus Himself was a solitary human being  but He has become the God who rules all creation.  He accomplished this through His resurrection and return to the glory which He had as God before He became Jesus in the first place.

“Do not despise the day of small beginnings,” says the prophet of old (Zechariah 4:10).

Jesus is indeed the Mustard Seed.  Start with Him however small your understanding of Him, and if you hold fast to Him, you will eventually understand His greatness.

How do you start with Him?  Keep His commandments.  What are His commandments?  Love.  Just be sure to love for His approval, and not the approval of others.

Whose Approval Do You Want?

Call on His Name

The Apostles Were Looking for Something More Permanent Than What They Were Building

The apostles of Jesus Christ built up the church in New Testament days.  However, they were doing so anticipating the arrival of something more permanent very soon.

The letter to the Hebrews only counseled assembling together (that is, church) in view of preparing for the impending day of eternity (Hebrews 10:25).

The apostle Peter wrote about how to prepare for the impending eternal kingdom which would replace the temporal kingdom that was the church (2 Peter 1:11).

That eternal kingdom came, just as the Lord had promised.

Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again

The Kingdom of God Is Here and Now

Seeking the Kingdom of God Instead of Church

“Heaven” – Christian Song

Michael English sings Heaven.  The lyrics are included.

Much like the song I Can Only Imagine, the truth is more closely approached if you will listen to, and sing, the song in the present tense rather than the future tense.  We can and should do this because Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again, and therefore The Kingdom of God Is Here and Now.

Do not postpone until tomorrow what God has granted for today.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4EaJGYqeIA&feature=feedrec_grec_index]

Where and When Is Hell?

Q:  “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters,  and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”  (Revelation 21:8 ESV)

How do you interpret this verse?

A:  This verse describes all those who lived outside of the blessedness of the kingdom of God, which is in our midst.  In other words, hell is a condition on this earth in this life for those not living in the light of the presence of Christ.

Everyone Is Going to Heaven

The Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Church?

Jesus preached “the kingdom of God,” but today’s church practices “the kingdom of church.”

If the church is seeking the kingdom of God, why does it practice the kingdom of church?

Look at all the money and time that people donate to the church.  To what purpose are these resources given?  To the growth and maintenance of church.  That’s why I say the church is seeking the kingdom of church instead of the kingdom of God.

If the church were truly giving itself to Jesus Christ, it would lose itself in that service (Matthew 16:25).

Seeking the Kingdom of God Instead of Church

Why Should You Believe Anything?

James W. Sire gives this 50-minute Veritas Forum lecture, “Why Should Anyone Believe Anything At All?”  He’s addressing college students and begins by pointing out that everyone “believes” things – beginning with the time showing on our watches.

He takes pains to distinguish between causes of belief and reasons for belief.  Perhaps his most significant point is that people want – and should want – to believe what is true (i.e. what is real).  He then goes on to give three tests for truth:

1. Consistency (Logic)
2. Coherence
3. Completeness

He then offers Jesus, and the New Testament documents which present Him, as being a consistent, coherent, and complete explanation of life as we know it – though he doesn’t actually make the case in this lecture.  (It was the introductory lecture to a series.)

Sire is stronger in the beginning when he is explaining how we variously arrive at our answers about life than he is at the end when he is apologizing for the shortcomings of the church.  He would have ended much stronger if he had argued for the kingdom of God instead of church (see Seeking the Kingdom of God Instead of Church.)

I wouldn’t recommend this clip to everyone.  It’s long and its payoffs are sporadic.  Nevertheless, it lays a reasonable foundation for someone who is thinking about examining the claims for Jesus Christ in an intellectually honest way.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7RovP2Z-C8&feature=feedf]

“Another Time, Another Place” – Christian Song

What’s wrong with this song?  Musically, nothing.  It’s musically magnificent: well-written, well-orchestrated, and well-sung by Wayne Watson and Sandi Patty.

What’s wrong with song is its lyrical emphasis on the future, to the neglect of the present.  We are to seek Jesus’ glorious face in the present…not the future.  Indeed, our future in heaven will be wonderful, but the kingdom of God is here and now.  Behold now the Lamb of God (John 1:29) and, through that process, be transformed from your sinfulness into His righteousness (Matthew 1:21; Acts 3:26; 2 Corinthians 5:21).

If you do not behold Jesus’ face now in this world, you will not have the power to resist temptation and pursue God’s approval and glory.  Don’t wait until after this life to live in His presence; do it now!

“Look unto Me and be ye saved”  – Isaiah 45:22

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BqiwjlNr-Io]

Jesus Is Our Lord and Savior…Whether We Want Him to Be or Not

In New Testament times, only those people who declared Jesus as Lord came under His authority.  However, since then the promised kingdom of God has come and everyone is subject to it.

This is why it’s not quite right for someone today to say, “I have made Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior.”  It’s more accurate to say, “I have accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior,” or “I have acknowledged Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.”

If you’re a human being, He already is your Lord and Savior.

For more, see any of these posts:

The Kingdom of God Is Here and Now

Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again

All Bible Prophecy Has Been Fulfilled

Seeking the Kingdom of God Instead of Church

Repent, and follow Jesus Christ our Lord!

Dialogue with Stephen (Church Versus Kingdom)

This dialogue with Stephen about the church and the kingdom is an extension of a dialogue we were having about trinity versus unity.  If you want to see the precise point at which this conversation branched off from that one, look here.

Stephen, I think you have made clear an issue that is very important in our conversations.  The key statement that you made which clarified this issue was “The Church, not the scripture, is the pillar and ground of the truth.”  I want to quote it again in context:

According to the scripture, The Church is the Pillar and Ground of Truth (1 Timothy 3:15).   The Church, not the scripture, is the pillar and ground of the truth.  Just as Christ is the word and the scripture is the word about the Word.  The Spirit taught the church about the understanding of the word.  The Church, Christ’s body was the pillar of Truth not the other way around.  The clear implication of this is that Christ meant what he said when he promised his disciples that the Spirit will lead them into all truth.  He also didn’t mean that the Spirit would only teat the 12 disciples and then disappear.  Apparently at least Paul believed that the Church would be the basis of truth or better said, the Church, led by the Spirit, would lead them into all truth.

This highlights a root difference between us.  Therefore, it’s particularly worth exploring given its foundational nature.  If we can resolve it, it could lead to more common understanding on other issues.  If we can’t, it could save us time because we’d know not to pursue other issues too vigorously knowing that we don’t have a common point of authority to which we can look for resolution.

Therefore, let’s focus on this issue in this post, and let our other conversational threads continue on their own subjects – only to the degree that you’re interested, of course.

Fundamentally, our difference is that while you ascribe great authority to the church, I believe it was superseded by the kingdom of God in a similar way to how ancient Israel was superseded by the church.

More specifically, I believe the church was a transitional organism for the metamorphosis from the age of ancient Israel to the new age of the kingdom of God – like the cocoon that transitions a caterpillar to a butterfly.

In your comments about the Nicene Creed, it sounds as if you ascribe as much authority to it as you do the Scriptures.  And this is consistent for you, given your broader view of the church having more authority than the Scriptures.

For me, no church creed could be as authoritative as Scripture.  Let me deconstruct my view on this for you.  I accept the Old Testament as the word of God because Jesus did.  I accept the New Testament as the word of God because it was written by His personally chosen and commissioned apostles.  I suspect any writing or teaching that contradicts the Scriptures.  This is, of course, obvious where atheistic or anti-biblical teachings are concerned.  But it also is important to recall that Jesus had to chastise rabbis for letting their traditions and rulings make the word of God of no effect (Mark 7, Matthew 15, and Matthew 23).  Just as such corrupting practices – however slight – could occur in biblical times, I believe they can occur in post-biblical times.  I don’t think this by any means encourages us to reject teachings out of Judaism or Christianity wholesale, but it does mean that He is warning us that there are human understanding which can encroach on our understanding of God’s word and that we should beware of the temptations to misunderstand what God is actually saying.  Revelation 22 puts this warning in starker terms, telling of the perils that come with adding to or taking away from the word of God.

For you, I think the Nicene Creed is as much the word of God as the Scriptures.  If I am wrong about this, please correct me.  The purpose of the dialogue in this post is to have each of us clarify our respective positions sufficiently so that we can find out precisely where the gaps are and see if we can close them.  Therefore, let me lay out for you my current understanding of how our views on this subject compare.  You can then correct, confirm, or challenge as appropriate:

Stephen: The Nicene Creed is as much the word of God as the Bible.
Mike: The Nicene Creed should be respected for the wisdom and truth it contains but is not as authoritative as Scripture.

Stephen: The church is arbiter of differences of interpretation about the Scriptures, truth, and Jesus Christ.
Mike: Jesus Christ is arbiter of differences of interpretation about the Scriptures, truth, and Jesus Christ.

Stephen: The church is still God’s chosen instrument through which He’s chosen to reveal the truth of Jesus Christ.
Mike: The church was God’s chosen instrument through which He chose to reveal the truth of Jesus Christ in New Testament times, but since has been replaced by the kingdom of God.

I think we really only need to focus on the third pair because the first two are derivatives of its argument.  That is, if we could come to agreement on the third pair, any disagreements on the first two could quickly be resolved.  I only added them for the sake of clarity, not wanting to abstract at too high a level until I’m more confident that I’ve properly understood your view.