Posts Tagged ‘christian living

02
Dec
09

Losing My Religion?

Once when I was covering the pastor-on-call an email came through from a church member asking about whether or not we can lose our salvation. Here is my answer:

We believe that once saved, always saved.  This is known by the term “perseverance of the Saints.”  I.e. if someone is saved, and they persevere to the end of their life here on earth as saved, they are truly born again.  We hold to a reformed theology on this subject, that a truly born again individual cannot lose their faith.  John 6:38-40 shows that “every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”  Another scripture is John 10:27-29 where we read “…I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish…and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”  Many more passages exist to support the view of the perseverance of the Saints including Romans 8:1 and 8:30.  Ephesians 1 says we are “sealed with the promise of the Holy Spirit” and it is the “guarantee of our inheritance.”  There are so many other passages to support this perspective.  There are people who are close to the church that appear as if they have a genuine saving faith, but actually don’t. The best example I can think of is Judas who apparently exhibited saving faith but ultimately was not truly saved (Jesus called him the “devil”).  And also Jesus says in Matthew 7 “Not everyone who says to me “Lord, Lord” shall enter the kingdom…”  If a person exhibits behavior that does not line up with one of a saved, and sanctified individual, it calls into question whether or not they were truly saved to begin with.  As I said, we do not believe that you can lose your salvation.  The Armenian view that you can lose your salvation often uses Hebrews 6:4-6 as the main basis for their argument: 

For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away,to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame. For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned – Hebrews 6:4-8 (NKJV)

In this scriptural example (reading on through verses 7 and 8), those who receive final judgment are compared to land which bears no fruit but rather bears thorns and thistles.  It appears that the author of Hebrews is referring to fruitlessness, and in scripture we see this as a sign of someone who is not a believer (see Matt 3:8-10; 7:15-20; 12:33-35). I.e. if you bear no fruit, you are likely not saved.  In John 15 Jesus says “every branch of mine that bears no fruit…” showing that there are branches that are fruitless.  Armenians use this verse to imply that branches that bear no fruit are still true branches on the vine.  We would say they are counterfeits. The term “enlightened” in verse 4 of the Hebrews passage simply means that they understand the truth of the Gospel, not that they have entered into a saving faith.  The argument for losing your faith is just not convincing enough when we have so much overwhelming evidence to support the reformed view.

24
May
09

The Dark (K)night – part 2

Last year I posted on the subject of the state of our culture and this was motivated by the brouhaha related to what at the time was a blockbuster new movie, the latest in the Batman franchise, The Dark Knight.  This post eventually has become the 5th most popular ever on this blog and stirred up a lot of feedback from people (on and off line).  I had not seen the movie when I wrote my original thoughts.  A few weeks ago I actually saw The Dark Night and I wrote a reply to my own original post as an update.  Read on…

I was recently on a trip and a friend loaned me “The Dark Knight” to watch on the plane. Having written this post several months back but never seeing the movie, my curiosity was piqued. I decided to pop it in and watch it on my laptop.

I had to stop the movie since the flight was over and normally I would not have finished it because I wasn’t really enjoying it that much. But then I recalled that this original posting got a lot of traffic and lots of conversation, and honestly, some people were a little upset at me. I decided to watch it to it’s conclusion so I could post this follow up.

My first impression as I watched is that the movie wasn’t as sadistic as it was originally reported to have been. Yes, the Joker was quite disturbing. They did a fine job with his makeup and Heath Ledger did a fantastic job acting quite insane, psychopathic, intelligent, and maniacal. But were elements of this movie “heinous” as I mentioned in my original post? Was this really “Saw-light?” (I will say parenthetically that the comparison to “Saw” is not unfair since the morality choice/murder/sicko-methodology combo thing would not be in The Dark Knight if it were not for that series of very popular films.)

I’ll start with positives and a cool-factor. As mentioned before, Heath Ledger did a fine job acting. And the Harvey Dent/Two face character was also well done. Honestly, the Two Face situation was a welcome surprise in the movie even if I felt that just because they *could* show us graphically how disturbing he became, I wondered why they really needed to (back to the whole should-have-been-rated-R discussion). How can you ever really go wrong with Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman? And Christian Bale is an acceptable Batman, really the best the franchise history I suppose. And the cell-phone radar thing was a really cool special effect and an idea that worked.

Fast forward to the end of the movie; my first impression had changed. I had witnessed a man cut open and a cell phone/detonation device sewn into his stomach, then blown up remotely killing everyone in the jail/police station with him. I had seen people given a moral choice in pulling a trigger and killing hundreds of men, women, and children on a ferry boat before the people on the other boat made the same choice to kill them (yes, they didn’t do it, but I will point out that the vote taken was overwhelmingly in favor of doing it). We saw a hospital blown to smithereens room by room and during that time we do not know if the patients are in their rooms or not. And yes, there are the multiple times when the Joker takes his knife and slices open people’s faces just like was apparently done to him (though we never really know how or who did it, another dangling plot line). On this last point I heard people say “yeah but you didn’t see it on screen” which basically blows me away. In my most “duh” statement I have ever written on this blog: just because we don’t see it doesn’t mean we don’t know it was done. Do you really need to see it for it to be corrupt or if it’s off screen do we somehow place it in a redemptive category? I vote not since our minds can fill in the blanks.

I didn’t like things about this movie that I guess others either a) overlook or b) somehow expect in a superhero movie: the plot line is thin and strays, I think the hero (Batman) is 2 dimensional, people pop up when you least expect with no explanation of how they got there, villains make silly choices, guys who should know better don’t, the police chief is always made out to be bumbling, Batman’s mysterious code of honor is cloaked in mysterious dialogue of mush, most of the action sequences are too dark to understand what is actually happening, and dangling plots abound. Normal fare for a superhero movie unless it’s named “Spiderman.”

There are movies I have seen that delve into the depravity of the human condition and have sparked interest in discussing redemption. Batman did not do any of that but only left lasting impressions of gross images.

In the end, I walked away with a “whatever” personal experience. The movie was not that good and the really bad guy (the Joker) didn’t get what he deserved, the really good guy (Harvey Dent) didn’t get what he deserved, and the “good” guy (Batman) didn’t get what he deserved (which is somehow where people come off calling him a “Christ figure”). But maybe America got what it deserved which was another movie with a bunch of Satan in it since we seem to love it so much.

Some say Heath Ledger went insane portraying the Joker and his death was the result of the role. It seems Mr. Ledger got so close to the devil it likely killed him. I ask you to ask yourself and the Holy Spirit why you would get close to anything that has that potential? Kind of sounds like the forbidden fruit conundrum.

21
Jul
08

The Dark (K)night

Today my wife and I are in lovely Estes Park Colorado taking a few days break and enjoying each other’s company.  After 21 years of marriage she is still far and away my favorite person in the whole world.  A newspaper was outside our hotel door this morning so we perused it over breakfast.  USA Today reported that the new Batman movie will likely smash all box office records and only stop short of Titanic for overall gross revenue.  This breaks my heart.  Only a few weeks ago I spoke in church about making good media choices and to evaluate humbly before the Almighty God (who calls us to holiness) what we are consuming.  I wonder how many Mountain Springs members who said “amen” in church to good choices stood in line for hours to see this movie?  

My son (17) was offered a free ticket by some friends at church on Friday night and he turned it down.  He had seen a trailer for the movie and sensed a warning in his spirit about the film.  He wanted to see it, but opted out.  I am proud of his choice.  You may wonder if I think that seeing this film will corrupt you.  No, one film (or song, or video game, etc) will not cause you to turn your back on God and sin habitually for the rest of your life.  Now if you live in that place and feed yourself on that garbage, yes of course it will.  But I want to focus on another point, the fact that God may just well be allowing darkness to cover this land of ours. 

There have been many prophetic words of late from people I trust and who hear clearly from God, that God might well be allowing this to happen.  Due to habitual sin and turning our backs on Him and His ways, He is now lifting the hedge of protection on us.  Precedent is set for this all throughout the Bible, and having just come off of a study of the wilderness experience of the Israelites, I can see how the God of judgment in the Old Testament many times dealt with those who turned their backs on Him very harshly.  The first book written in the Bible reports an interesting exchange between God and Satan on this point.  Job 1:9-10a reads “So Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have you not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side?”  Then in verse 12a God says “behold all that he has is in your power…”  It appears that God places hedges of protection and blessing and then also makes the decision to lift them. 

Kay Arthur recently said that “calamity” is coming to America because we have not done the things we should as a church.  John MacArthur believes we are seeing the “debased mind” spoken of in Romans 1 right in our midst and God will do as he says in verse 28 “God gave them over to a debased mind.”  Our very own Senior Pastor Steve Holt speaks of the “restrainer” lifting off of America.  Another prophetic word from a member of our body came on Tuesday last week and said in part “It is a time similar to when the angel of death passed over the homes. It is now night time America, and you will now go to sleep in the bed you have made.” 

Which brings me back to The Dark Night…I mean Knight.  The new Batman movie is nothing short of a horror flick that pluggedinonline.com says “The Joker forces us to imagine every cut and tear. He makes Jigsaw from the torture-porn Saw flicks look positively ethical.”  Fellow Jesus followers, I say this to you – we are called to be “salt and light” and a “city on a hill” by Jesus (read Matthew 5:13-14).  We were rescued out of darkness into His marvelous light, to proclaim His praises (1 Peter 2:9).  We are called to preach the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone (Acts 1:8 and Mark 16:15).  We are called to holiness and yet we fill our hearts and minds with putrid garbage. 

A woman in our church wrote me an email today regarding the message I brought about redemptive and non-redemptive qualities of media we intake.  She said “Your chart has helped me nail down why I take part in certain things and not others, why we allow Cinderella but not Aladdin.  I could never explain it before.  I have always just said that God has different rules for different families about some things, and for our family, we feel He has us do one thing or the other.  Now I have a tangible way to explain it to the girls.”  So if it’s so obvious to this mom, why did so many of us “Christians” go see a flick this weekend that glorifies heinousness?  

USA Today reports that it should have been rated R – I understand most people and reviewers are saying this.  Interesting that in this same newspaper there was an article about people abandoning Christianity because they couldn’t believe that a “good” God would allow so much hurt and pain the world.  The Dark Knight’s villain “The Joker is as horrific a villain as I’ve ever seen onscreen—an embodiment of nihilism, a manifestation of pure, unapologetic evil.” And we spent over $150 million just this weekend to glorify this monstrosity.  Yet we immediately blame God for all the “bad” stuff in the world?  Does anyone see the double standard here besides me?




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