Postmodern Reflections (part 3)

(As I have studied the Emergent/Postmodern Movement, another book I sought to have prayerful, objective interaction with was, D.A. Carson’s Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church: Understanding a Movement and Its Implications. What follows are various reflections I had during this interaction.)

The emergence of the Emergent/Postmodern Movement (EPM)  is perhaps the most significant event the ecclesia has witnessed in recent history. It is the opinion of this writer that the the EPM may very well be a precursor to the faithless, spiritually apostate, adulterous church which will emerge into prominent significance as eschatology is ultimately realized. It is therefore of the utmost importance that those within the ecclesia (the Church) be “conversant” with this movement and gain an understanding as to its implications.

As this writer has immersed himself in the study of the EPM, he has discovered that the premise on which the movement is founded is predicated on the fact that the world has evolved from a modern to a postmodern society, and conversely; the church must change with the times.  A big part of the way times have changed is the way we understand truth. This writer finds himself in agreement with D.A. Carson as he states in his book Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church: Understanding a Movement an Its Implications:

“The fundamental issue in the move from modernism to postmodernism is epistemology– i. e., how we know things, or think we know things. Modernism is often pictured as pursuing truth, absolutism, linear thinking, rationalism, certainty, the cerebral as opposed to the affective- which in turn breeds arrogance, inflexibility, a lust to be right, the desire to control. Postmodernism, by contrast, recognizes how much of what we “know” is shaped by the culture in which we live, is controlled by emotions and aesthetics and heritage, and in fact can only be intelligently held as part of a common tradition, without overbearing claims to being true or right. Modernism tries to find unquestioned foundations on which to build the edifice of knowledge and then proceeds with methodological rigor; postmodernism denies that such foundations exist (it is “antifoundational”) and insists that we come to “know” things in many ways, not a few of them lacking in rigor. Modernism is hard-edged and, in the domain of religion, focuses on truth versus error, right belief, confessionalism; postmodernism is gentle and, in the domain of religion, focuses on relationships, love, shared tradition, integrity in discussion.”[1]

While this writer would agree that postmodernism has definitely replaced the modernistic paradigm which has been prevalent, it is postmodern epistemology that reveals the apostate characteristics which lurk in the heart of the EPM. As Carson points out in his book the danger that presents itself to those involved in the EPM is that of becoming submerged in the surrounding culture to the point of hopeless compromise.[2] EP epistemology is derived from the surrounding culture and its cries for reformation are directly related to its understanding of postmodernism.[3] In other words, the tendency in the EPM is to reject any absolute “truth statements,” and all of theology therefore becomes a subjective narrative in which each individual must find his place. Those within the EPM place a great deal of credence upon tolerance (with the exception of those who disagree with them), hesitating to call anyone wrong. Their preaching and Bible study reflect the importance they place upon the “life-narrative”[4] which conversely emerges from their epistemology.

In his book, Carson applauds those within the EPM for their desire and ability to read the surrounding culture. “Just as the apostle understood that his moves from culture to culture brought implications for how he went about his preaching (even though his constant resolution was to preach Christ crucified, I Corinthians 2:1-5[5]), and just as thoughtful missionaries learn the same lesson as they step from one culture into another, so also must the church of God when it stays home and the culture in which it is embedded changes. That is something the [EPM] understands.”[6]

This writer recognizes, along with Carson, that the EPM does indeed perceive the surrounding culture with far more clarity than many who make up the traditional church, but while the cultural comprehension of the EPM promotes a much needed desire for change and reevaluation; it often appears that the EPM is more in love with the deconstruction of the instituional church than it is with the One who said he would construct his church.

“One of the striking commonalities among its [Emergent] leaders is the high number of them who come from immensely conservative or even fundamental backgrounds. When they describe the kinds of churches from which they spring, a very high percentage of them have emerged from a tradition that is substantially separated from the culture. These churches often lay considerable emphasis on getting certain doctrine, often cast in the fundamentalist mode, nicely constructed and confessed. The passage of time has moved these churches farther and farther from the very different directions being pursued by the broader culture, and sensitive and concerned individuals within such traditions finally make a break, not least for the gospel’s sake. It becomes a mark of freedom to have a glass of wine and watch some movies that our former ecclesiastical friends wouldn’t approve.”[7]

Carson points out that those within the  EPM insist that those who are traditionally evangelical are “hard-nosed and inflexible because it constantly thinks in truth-categories and does not perceive the legitimate place of experience- not least the fact that the personal experience of the knower plays a part in what he or she thinks is the truth.”[8] This writer has always considered himself somewhat off the beaten path of what may be labeled traditional western Christianity; however, even one who questions the long held traditions of the modern ecclesia, most assuredly understands that while strict adherence to the historical-grammatical hermeneutical method of biblical interpretation warrants renewed discussion, experience alone cannot be counted upon as the ultimate criteria whereby biblical truths are interpreted. Carson rightly points out that:

“Of course, truth and experience do not have exactly the same sort of footing. Truth itself, rightly understood, may correct experience, but not the other way around. On the other hand, experience may prompt us to revise our previous understanding of the truth. Truth in the Bible is often propositional (though it is often more than that), but mere knowledge of merely propositional truth does not necessarily save us: just ask the Devil himself. Both truth and experience, wrongly functioning in our lives, can be corrupting; our memories of experiences may easily become idolatrous, making it necessary to turn our backs on some of these memories (Philippians 3:13-14), and knowledge may become that which puffs up while love builds up (I Corinthians 8:1).”[9]

Indeed as Carson points out in his commentary on II Peter 1:1-21 our experience must be: grounded in God’s transforming power, attested by spiritual growth and productivity, and attested by our unflagging perseverance.[10]

Carson explains that those in the EPM claim that Christian leaders have to recognize that changes in the culture signify that a new church is emerging, and that there must be a willingness to leave behind forms of thought and modes of expression that no longer communicate to this emerging generation.[11] This writer would agree that Christian leaders must adapt to cultural change as to the modes of communicating the gospel; however, it appears that many within the ranks of the EPM have allowed changes within culture to blind them to the reality that the gospel itself does not change, but creates its own relevance within whatever culture it is preached.

“So which shall we choose? Experience or truth? The left wing of an airplane, or the right? Study or service? Evangelism or discipleship? The front wheels of a car, or the rear? Subjective knowledge or objective knowledge? Faith or obedience? Damn all false antitheses to hell, for they generate false gods, they perpetuate idols, they twist and distort our souls, they launch the church into violent pendulum swings whose oscillations succeed only in dividing brothers and sisters in Christ. The truth is that Jesus Christ is Lord of all- of the truth and of our experience. The Bible insists that we take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ.”[12]

            1. D. A. Carson, Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church: Understanding a Movement and Its Implications, (Grand Rapids, Michigan- Zondervan, 2005), 27.

2. Ibid., 44.

3. Ibid., 42, 43.

4. Ibid., 26-31.

                5. This is where those within the Emergent movement diverge from Christianity. They have ceased preaching Christ crucified and opted instead for a “gospel” of cultural relevance.

6. D. A. Carson, Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church: Understanding a Movement and Its Implications, (Grand Rapids, Michigan- Zondervan, 2005), 47.

7. Ibid., 86.

                8. Ibid., 218.

9. Ibid., 219.

            10. Ibid., 219-229.

11. Ibid., 12.

12. Ibid., 234.

Postmodern Reflections (part 2): “Emergentcy”

As I have previously stated in part one of Postmodern Reflections, these pericopes are taken from a paper I originally wrote (with a few editions) for a “Contemporary Issues in Theology Class.”  I have spent countless hours studying the Emergent Movement, interacting with Emergent Postmodernists (“EPs”) and studying postmodern philosophy as it pertains to the Church, but;  the book Emerging Churches: Creating Community in Postmodern Cultures by Eddie Gibbs & Ryan K. Bolger,  which I poured over with prayerful objectivity, really put the Emergent/Postmodern “Christian” perspective in focus. Those who know me know I am not a traditionalist and while I found myself in agreement with some of Gibb’s & Bolger’s’ observations, this book served to confirm what I believe regarding the Emergent/Postmodern movement. I am convinced that while one must be careful not to lump all “EPs”  into one basket (indeed, it is impossible to do so), the Emergent/Postmodern “Christian” movement is perhaps the most dangerous, deceptive heresy the body of Christ has ever encountered. My intention in sharing this information is not to be confrontational or hurtful to individuals, but rather to exalt Jesus, “sound the alarm,” and to provide the saints with information that they may be better equipped for the work of ministry.


To be frank, reading the book, Emerging Churches: Creating Community in Postmodern Cultures, left this writer with the feeling that he had just read a book written by 1960s counter cultural hippies still somewhat altered by their latest ingestion of LSD (and yes I have), who had nevertheless thought it would be a good thing to expound upon their view of religion.  It would appear that even some from within the ranks of the Emergent/Postmodern movement would agree. “Andrew Jones (Boaz, U.K.) says, “I am sure there are many parallels with biblical and ancient forms of worship [although he lists none, he is sure], which were more interactive and participatory than Reformation models. But for a more immediate link, I believe a lot of the thinking came from the 1960s counterculture, which is where almost all elements of emerging church can find some roots.”[12] Indeed, the Emergent/Postmodern movement bears many similar characteristics of the 1960s protest movements, and it should be noted that many observations made by the “EPs” are valid in that they have recognized and responded to the stale hypocrisy of institutionalized religion in much the same way the counterculture of the 1960s recognized and responded to the stale hypocritical institution of American government.

Reading this book, one is struck by the fact that there is little to no reference to the Bible, little to no clarification as to what  would be considered  solid theology and absolutely no exaltation of the Lord Jesus Christ at all. Ironically, it is suggested that the reading of Paul should be suspended while focus should be placed upon the life of Jesus,[13] all the while Gibbs and Bolger report that one cannot really be sure who Jesus was given that he lived in a different time and place and deciding which of his activities were merely cultural expressions versus those that were legitimately inspired by the gospel of the kingdom is difficult at best.[14] The Jesus presented by the “EPs” has been deconstructed to nothing more than a social activist bent on relieving the oppressed and marginalized of society in sweeping programs of social-justice.

Epistemology (how we know things) is one of the hinge points of the “EP” philosophy. Page after page of this book is filled with quotes from the leaders of the Emergent/Postmodern movement who insist that truth is narrative instead of absolute, and they are absolutely sure because they possess a certain esoteric knowledge that only those who have been delivered from the evil dogma of modernity can possess.  The writers insist that “it is not that “EPs” do not want truth per se, but whose truth? Often the one proposing or more often imposing truth is a person in power. Why trust the person? Instead, a better way to truth, in their view, is to hear the many stories and to discern accordingly, within the context of community.”[15] Ironically, it is only those within their own context who can properly define what constitutes an authentic community, and even more ironic is the inference that it is only the “EPs” context that can be trusted to define truth if truth can indeed be realized at all.

While this writer finds himself in agreement with the “EP” assertion that the present ecclesiastical form must change and is itself, in many ways, a hindrance to the gospel; he cannot accept the “EPs” total syncretism of both “secular” and “sacred” community. If Gibbs and Bolger are to be believed, the emergent movement sees no difference between sacred and secular. One “EP” is quoted as saying, “My pagan friends are church for me as well. While with them, I spend time with Jesus because he is with me.”[16] The “EPs” see church in its present expression as a place in which spirituality is contained and confined.[17] The “EP”, while maintaining that God has acted uniquely in Christ, insists that one is only looking through “a glass darkly” and that “we could be wrong.” To the “EP”, church is experienced in the totality of life,  while understanding that even other religions themselves have much to teach Christians.[18]

Spencer Burke’s community is prepared to learn from faith traditions outside the Christian field. There is a Buddhist family in their church. As a community, the church visited a Buddhist temple. They participated in a guided meditation with this family. Burke celebrates the many ways God is revealed. He recognizes that the Spirit as been with these people all along. The community celebrates other traditions, and they see them as beloved children of God.[19]

One can only hope that God will have mercy upon Mr. Burke, granting him repentance in order that he may truly come to faith in Christ and be given a chance to reach those he has led astray with the truth of the gospel of Christ.

When one is exposed to the pseudo intellectual, snobbish double talk of the “EP” he becomes accustomed to catch-phrases and flowery speeches of pomp and fluff, devoid of any authentic spiritual Christ-centered content.  Such exposure to such nonsensical rhetoric has led this writer and an associate to invent a game in which the goal is to start a conversation and respond back and forth using absurd statements amounting “to much ado about nothing.” For example, the following comment appears to be deep and lofty, but close scrutiny will reveal it to be absolutely meaningless: “The immediate context of cultural ramifications must be considered if one is to adhere to the overriding sense of descriptive narrative that the so called theological implications render. The Code of Hammurabi can be cited when a Lutherian mandate is placed upon the discerning of principle over precept which in all actuality signals a departure from orthodoxy.” (Capiche?)

It is hard to imagine that one who can string together such a line of pure malarkey as cited above would be surprised at anything he might read. However, this writer was admittedly flabbergasted when he read such comments as these in Gibb’s and Bolger’s book:

Pete Rollins of “ikon” (Belfast, U.K.) reports, “We have been actively engaged with other faiths through the evangelism project. Evangelism has an important role but is seen as a two-way process designed to open others and ourselves to God.” Their evangelism project is the reverse of most forms of evangelism. They visit people of other faiths and spiritualities and allow themselves to be evangelized in order to learn more about other walks of life. “We deemphasize the idea that Christians have God and all others don’t by attempting to engage in open two-way conversations. This does not mean we have lapsed into relativism, we still believe in the uniqueness of our own tradition, but we believe that it teaches us to be open to all. We are genuinely open to being wrong about parts and perhaps all our beliefs- while at the same time being fully committed to them.”[20] One is lead to believe that perhaps the “EPs” intend to redefine  the meaning of the word committed, for how can one truly commit to that which he doubts?

Term Redefinition is a prevalent practice among the “EPs.” For example: The “EPs” claim that contrary to modernity, they teach that the church should be inclusive and welcoming to all . While it is true all churches should be welcoming to those who would come to them, when encountering the “EPS”; one must discern as to whether or not the terms welcoming and inclusive have been redefined into meaning that all men are a part of the Church. One must make sure he understands what is truly meant when the “EP” speaks of  atonement, salvation, church, etc “EPs” redefine orthodoxy as meaning holding to the uniqueness of Christ.[21] Unique? He is the Son of the living God and we have peace with God through the blood of his cross!

The emergence of the Emergent/Postmodern movement is perhaps the most significant event the ecclesia has witnessed in recent history. It is the opinion of this writer that the “EPs” are a precursor to the faithless, spiritually apostate, adulterous church which will emerge into prominent significance as eschatology is ultimately realized. It is therefore of the utmost importance that those within the ecclesia be “conversant” with this movement and gain an understanding as to its implications.

                12. Eddie Gibbs and Ryan K. Bolger, Emerging Churches: Creating Community in Postmodern Cultures, (Grand Rapids, Michigan- Baker Publishing Group, 2005), 196.

13. Ibid., 48.

14. Ibid., 49.

15. Ibid., 68.

16. Ibid., 108

17. Ibid., 99.

18. Ibid., 117-134.

19. Ibid., 132.

20. Ibid.

21. Ibid., 133.

Postmodern Reflections (part 1)

NLI Ministries was begun with an earnest desire to minister the gospel of Jesus. While I most definitely do not even  pretend to know it all,  I do know that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life; and that no one comes to God (the Father) accept through him. I am absolutely convinced that knowing Jesus is in fact eternal life itself (John 17:3) . His love, his fellowship, his mercy, his beauty, the salvation he offers is truly life eternal!

 I am obviously limited in knowledge, beset about with weakness, and (like all who are in Christ) in the process of “having been being saved,” I nevertheless must be true to the calling God has place upon my life to preach/teach. Technology (i.e. the internet) has provided a wonderful medium through which one can reach multitudes he would otherwise be segregated from, and, while I am not so arrogant as to think everyone will be interested in what I have to say; I must share what the Lord places  upon my heart.

These pericopes entitled Post Modern Reflections are actually from a paper I wrote for a Contemporary Issues in Theology class. It is my desire in sharing these segments that Jesus be revealed in the hearts of those who read them and that the saints be equipped for ministry.  (Sorry about all the footnotes, but IT’S THE LAW!!)


            The evolution of society from modernity into postmodernity has produced reverberations within the church that indeed may prove to be eschatologically significant. Throughout its history the church has faced many heresies. Counsels have been convened for the purpose of discerning truth and setting forth orthodoxy. But, how does the church minister to a culture that insists there are no absolute truths to be discerned. What is the response of the church to be to ones who can say that while God has indeed acted uniquely in the person of Christ, he is also present and active in other belief systems as well? As the church finds its very institutional foundations shaken to the core, its evangelical practices touted as archaic, and the very message of the cross held in contempt; the Emergent Church has risen to the forefront. Adopting a postmodern philosophy, the Emergent movement has reduced the gospel of the Kingdom to a call for community, social-justice, and political activism. The Jesus of the postmodern emergent “Christian” is nothing more than a community organizer intent on assisting men in living together in mutual inclusion as they discover the validity of their respective cultural context belief systems and the God who is at work within them.

While many recognize the death throes of the modernized institutional church and call for an Incarnational ministry paradigm, instead of incarnating Christ in multicultural sociological locales, the culture itself is being incarnated within the “church” which in essence is a form of humanism. The postmodern philosophy adopted by the Emergent Church, when stripped of all its pompous arrogance and theological double talk, is basically humanistic universalism and devoid of anything one could honestly refer to as Christian. While the Emergent movement is correct in pointing out the failure of institutionalized Christianity, and the need for evangelical reevaluation; the disconnect from authentic Christianity has occurred at the point where they no longer consider the cross of Christ as the focus of the gospel, but embrace a form of syncretism which allows for a multi-faceted redemptive process. In fact, one wonders if the postmodern “Christian” would prefer self-actualization to redemption altogether.

Books like Emerging Churches: Creating Christian Communities in Postmodern Cultures by Edie Gibbs and Ryan Bolger, and, All Things To All Men, by Dr. Ray Ashmore serve as a window into the postmodern “Christian” construct howbeit from differing perspectives. What is the Emergent movement? What does an Incarnational ministry look like? And, what will the American church look like in the future? We shall seek to find an answer to these questions in the following pages.


Dr. Ray Ashmore’s All Things to All Men: Developing an Incarnational Ministry Transforming Historical Traditions Adapting to Contemporary Culture hinges upon I Corinthians 9:22 in which the apostle Paul says, “I have become all things to all men that I might by all means save some.” All of Ashmore’s contentions flow from the assertion that just as Paul became (incarnation) all things to all men during his apostolic ministry, even so; a church which has found itself becoming increasingly irrelevant in a postmodern society, must itself change it’s structure and practices if it is to be a means to redemptive ends.[1]

One of the imageries Ashmore uses to express his “Incarnational paradigm” is the pilgrim/incarnation motif.  Ashmore explains:

The images of “pilgrimage” and “incarnation” have much in common. Both indicate movement, direction, and a dwelling in some land where one is not “at home.” The pilgrim, in order to get along with the natives who inhabit the land and in order to accomplish his intended end, adopts at least outwardly the ways of the people among whom he sojourns. [One is reminded of I Corinthians 9 again.] And yet, those ways, while shaping the pilgrim for a time, are not his lasting possession. The pilgrim encamps, but then continues onward in search for his first vision and final home.[2]

While this writer believes that he understands the intentions of Ashmore’s “incarnational pilgrim,” he nevertheless must argue for more clarity in the employment of the term “incarnate.” It would seem that many, especially within the ranks of the emergent movement, view the aspect of incarnating ministry as taking on the characteristics of the culture in which they are ministering instead of incarnating the person of Christ within said culture.

Ashmore is careful to point out that the church is not the institution we know as “church” today. Wholeheartedly agreeing with Ashmore at this juncture, this writer found the definitions of “institution” and “institutionalize” provided in A.T.TA.M. (All Things To All Men) both enlightening and amusing. Sadly the characteristics of “being regimented, unimaginative, and becoming apathetic” do indeed describe the disposition of many within the “church” today.[3] Ashmore rightly points out that while the church may indeed utilize certain aspects of institutionalism as tools, it is never the institution itself.[4] It would seem that the Western church has ceased being the carpenter who wields the tools, and has become instead, the tool that is being wielded by an institutionalized conglomerate bent on pursuing business as usual.

One can infer from Ashmore’s jargon that he perceives the “church” as having an “identity crisis.” Ashmore sees the church as organic, a living body joined to Christ which utilizes structure and order while guarding against the usurping of it’s identity by patterns of worship, denominational affiliations, and organizational structure.[5] Ashmore likens the western church to one whose true identity is obscured by wearing a Halloween costume. In the case of the ecclesia, tradition and institutionalism have usurped the church’s true identity. One can see that it is this stringency regarding tradition, order, and institutional structure which has prohibited the church from adapting cross culturally. The church must be willing to be flexible when it comes to the non-essentials if it hopes to fulfill the great commission.

The institutional church has been accused of not being in touch with the post modern culture of today’s society.  Along with Ashmore, this writer would agree that it is critical for the church of today to be able to distinguish between culture, tradition and biblical imperatives.[6] The church must endeavor to discern what is merely of cultural and traditional relevance versus biblical principles that are constant and congruent in all cultures and at all times. The church is in need of many sons of Issachar who are able to discern the times and instruct the church in the way that it should go.[7] Ashmore contends that one cannot know what the church should do until he possesses an understanding of the times in which he lives and the wisdom to lead under the leadership of Christ. One must be able to understand the cultural context and how to apply biblical principles therein.[8]

One key to understanding Incarnational ministry as well as Ashmore’s book is understanding the importance of being able to differentiate between biblical principles and precepts. Ashmore defines biblical principles as a living thing that transcends time, culture, and contexts.[9]  Barring any employment of quantum physics and the like, the mathematical principle (equation) 2+2=4 is true throughout time, culture and all contexts of human involvement. The message of 2+2 does not need to be changed to make it relevant for it is a principle which, by definition, creates its own relevancy. In this writer’s opinion, the 2+ 2 principle is a good illustration of what Ashmore endeavors to communicate in regards to Incarnational. Indeed, while the basic message that 2+2=4 will not change the, the way this concept is conveyed may vary and require “incarnations” in various cultures. One may communicate 2+2 with bananas in one culture, while in another; dollars would be a more preferable means by which to relate the principle. The message remains the same whereas the means of communication may vary according to cultural context.

One of the ways Incarnational ministry is hindered is related to the tendency ministers have to confuse principles with precepts. Ashmore insists that principles are the foundations for precepts and speak to the heart and mind, conversely; precepts are always derived from principles and not the other way around.[10] To make this point clear Ashmore uses Mathew 5:27-28, “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY’ [precept];  but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” According to Ashmore the underlying principles contained within this verse are covenant faithfulness, oneness, and love. “The precept defines the appropriate behavior as an outworking of the faithfulness principle.”[11] One can easily see how pharisaical adherence to precepts could indeed hinder Incarnational ministry. If one were to confuse precept with principle, ministry in cultures different from one’s original context would prove difficult at best. One may view behavior counter to a personal understanding of a precept to be in violation of a principle when in reality it is only perceptual behavioral displayed within a certain context.

As Christians find their way in a postmodern culture they would do well to discern, as Ashmore apparently has, that institutional traditionalism based upon the precepts of man must give way to an Incarnational ministry motif based upon biblical principles.

                1. Ray Ashmore, All Things to All Men: Developing an Incarnational Ministry Transforming Historical Traditions Adapting to Contemporary Culture, (USA- Imparting Life Ministries, 2010), rear cover.

               2. Ibid., 15.

               3. Ibid., 21, 22.

               4. Ibid., 2

5. Ibid., 29.

               6. Ibid., 39.

7. Ibid., 40.

               8. Ibid.

               9. Ibid., 95.

             10. Ibid., 105.

            11. Ibid., 106.

Examine Yourselves (part 5)

Can we know that we have eternal life? If so, how do we know? We have begun a series in order to explore what the Bible has to say about these very questions. (I encourage you to check out parts 1-4 of Examine Yourselves  if  you’ve not done so.)

We are continuing our study into how we can know that we have eternal life. We stated in part one of  Examine Yourselves that sometimes the way to help discover the reality of what something is, is to first consider what it is not. Previously, we have discussed the fact that salvation is not simply a self-help tool designed to make me the best me I can be. We’ve discovered that salvation isn’t merely keeping a list of do’s & don’ts. We’ve examined the fact that the presence of the miraculous is not proof- positive of communion with Christ. In part four we saw that mere mental assent to the facts concerning Jesus does not mean one is in communion with Christ. And finally we come to our last “Myth Buster,” and like I said; this one may be the biggest of them all. Drum roll please…….. Here it is:  Nowhere in the Bible do you find someone inquiring as to how one is born again being told to just “ask Jesus to come into your heart.” Take a moment and Google  it- it’s not in there.

Nowhere in the Bible will you find Paul, Peter, or any of the other Biblical preachers in the New Testament telling folks that salvation is merely asking Jesus to come into your heart. After Peter preached his powerful sermon in Acts 2 and the people asked, “What must we do?” Peter didn’t tell them to ask Jesus into their hearts as their personal savior; no, he said, “Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus…” Some are perhaps truly saved after responding to an invitation given in a church , and some are without a doubt truly born again, but; according to the Bible, genuine salvation is a result of repentance and faith. Yes, we must understand that “by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves” (Ephesians 2:8), but; true saving faith is always evidenced by a lifestyle of repentance. Over and over we find the prophets of the Old Testament extending God’s offer of salvation, calling for the people to repent and return to God with honest sincerity. And in the New Testament the apostles, evangelists, and even Jesus himself preached: “Repent and believe!”

So many today have been led to believe that just because at one point in their lives they walked an isle, shook some preachers hand, and prayed “the sinner’s prayer,” and asked Jesus to come into their hearts that they are in Christ. This is not necessarily so. We must understand that true salvation is a response (an ongoing, continual response) to God’s grace in faith and repentance.

We have reached the conclusion of our “Myth Buster” look into what salvation is not. We have seen that while salvation will indeed address the way you feel about yourself, while you will understand why you were created and who you are, while you will keep the commandments, while you will prophesy, cast out devils and do mighty exploits in his name, while all these things are surely benefits/aspects of salvation; they must not  be confused with salvation itself. Salvation is not necessarily the result of a prayer prayed at some point in the past when we asked Jesus into our hearts. No, we are beginning to understand that salvation is an ongoing, right now, living relationship with Jesus, and that this  is evidenced by repentance and saving faith. As we get into our next segments, we will seek to understand what is meant by the terms repentance and saving faith.

To be continued…

Mephibosheth Saith

Before we get started, just indulge me and try to say, “Mephibosheth” 5x real fast… LOL!!! Yessirrr!! I did literally laugh out loud.

Who in the world was Mephibosheth? If you remember, King  Saul had a son named Jonathan and he and David (soon to be king) were the best of friends. Well, Jonathan had a son named Mephibosheth. After David had become king and Jonathan was dead, David asked if there was someone still around from the house of Saul to which he could show kindness for Jonathan’s sake- enter Mephibosheth.

Reading in II Samuel we find out how Mephibosheth had been dropped as a child and as a result had been crippled. Many comparisons have been made between the way that David invited Mephibosheth to come and dine with him at the palace and the way Jesus  invites us to Himself. Much like the way David had Mephibosheth carried to his table, so Christ brings us, in our lameness, to “His table.”

As we read further in II Samuel we find that as a result of David’s sin, he was forced to flee the palace to avoid being killed by his own son Absalom. Mephibosheth had been placed under the care of a man named Ziba who saw this as a opportune time to undermine Mephibosheth and steal his estate. As the king and those loyal to him were fleeing Jerusalem, David asked Ziba what was up with Mephibosheth. Ziba lied and told David that Mephibosheth was taking advantage of David’s trouble and attempting to get the throne restored back to his family. As a result of Ziba’s deception, David strips Mephibosheth of his estate and awards it to Ziba. (Soap Operas have got nothing on this.)

Eventually, Absalom’s rebellion is crushed and David returns to Jerusalem and to his throne. (Here’s the part I want us to really get.) The day comes when Mephibosheth comes and bows before David, and David asks him, “Why didn’t you go with me when I had to flee?” Mephibosheth tells David how Ziba had slandered him and deceived him. He tells David that he had wanted to come, but Ziba had thwarted hm. Realizing he had been duped David says, “Alright then I’ll give you back half of your estate.” Check out what Mephibosheth Saith: “My lord, I don’t care about that stuff; let Ziba have it all. You are back and that’s all that matters.” Hallelujah!! Lord, let us have a heart like Mephibosheth.

Mephibosheth had been slandered, deceived, taken advantage of, and had his estate stripped from him. How many of us would have asked the king for revenge against Ziba? Mephibosheth was in the right! “Hey king David, what about some justice here?” No, Mephibosheth had been forever changed by the mercy and kindness David had previously shown him. He had been captivated by the King himself and nothing else could compare. Stuff? I don’t care about stuff; I want to be with you my king!

May we be so in love with our King Jesus, may we be so completely changed by his mercy and grace that we say what Mephibosheth Saith: “I’m yours Lord, and that’s all that matters.”