You know you’re reading too much David Cloud when…


Your shopping lists have 200 pages.

When a note on “pick up dry cleaning” has a warning against 1 Hour Martinizing.

And when your blog posts are as long as mine!

I’m seriously trying to shorten them, I promise!

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Why does everyone hate Ray Comfort?


You know, something I don’t understand about most IFB. Most of them absolutely hate Ray Comfort. I disagree with part of what he says, and agree with the rest.

Ray Comfort maintains that if you do not bear the fruits of temperence, longsuffering, forbearing, etc. that you are not saved.

I mantain instead that if someone comes to the Lord, and their life changes, they begin to read and study their bible when they didn’t before, they begin to worry about if they’re pleasing the Lord or not, etc… that’s fruit of salvation.

The hallmarks that Ray Comfort associates with salvation are actually the hallmarks of Christian maturity. That’s his error.

But David Stewart (who must have a thousand IFB blogs and websites) just hates Ray Comfort, I haven’t asked him why, but I assume that because Stewart pushes Jack Hyles, Jack Hyles, Jack Hyles he’s 100% Hyles. And what Hyles believed about salvation was almost in complete agreement with Campus Crusade for Christ’s definition of salvation.

In that sense, Jack Hyles was wrong. Hyles believed there was only one sin, that of unbelief. And if you repeated Hyles’ prayer, you’d be saved. Well, if over a million people supposedly accepted the Lord under Jack Hyles, why was his church only a few thousand in attendance? If supposedly a million people accepted Hyles, his church should have been over a million people attending every Sunday. Even the Wednesday service.

In this, Ray Comfort is absolutely right. Someone who does the sinner’s prayer, and then has nothing to do with Chrisitanity, no evidence in his life that he’s saved… is not saved. Hyles may have gotten a million people to recite the sinner’s prayer, but unless those people had changed lives, avoided wordliness, read their Bibles, prayed… they’re still lost.

You CANNOT claim to have saved 10,000 and have a church of 400. If you preached to a thousand, had a thousand come forward, and attendance increased by two… how many got saved?

Answer- two.

We don’t like this. I don’t like this. How many have gotten saved reading my blog? Answer – zero. How many have I preached to? According to WordPress, thousands. I could probably fill the QEII with all the people who’ve read one page of my blog.

Ray Comfort is absolutely right in most of what he says. The rest of what he teaches is a form of Lordship Salvation, and we should disregard that.

Why do people hate Ray comfort? They don’t hate him for the LOrdship Salvation part, they hate him for the other part, the part he’s right about. Let’s think about that for a while.

Because unlike some of the other quick prayerism types, when Ray counts someone as saved, there’s no “Attend two weeks and gone forever”. THey’re there forever.

Walking The Tightrope


Being a fundamentalist today is like walking a tightrope. You’ve got to make it past Lordship Salvation without getting wrapped up in it.. You’ve got to make sure you’re a dispensationalist. You’ve got to avoid Ruckmanism/Pearlism/Hyles-ism/ Riplinger-ism. You’ve got to avoid THeological liberalism.

Every teaching tool you turn to, you’ve got to be careful. Many commentaries, dictionaries, encyclopedias, harmonies, teaching tools of all kinds, are written by theological liberals.

Logos is the most serious Bible study tool I’ve ever owned. But I’ve got to wade through interviews of people who’ve uncovered “Startling new discoveries on salvation” on the homepage – and what it boils down to is, it’s a heretic with a new book Logos is triyng to sell. Logos runs it by their resident scholars, who are theological liberals, and they see nothing wrong with it, because they don’t believe ether.

Accordance is written by a woman who’s devised a great study tool, but it’s clear from her blog entries on the Accordance web site that she too is caught up in THeological Liberalism.

Bound up in ALL of this is CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, and Roman Catholicism, because all Christian denominations should be one and united, despite serious doctrinal error and the basic facts that most people who claim to be Christian are not saved.

We need to be TOGETHER, and UNITED! It would be RUDE to tell someone who believes in Salvation by works that they’re hellbound! Why, it might make them feel bad!

“What about the eternity in hellfire part?”

“That’s not my responsibility.”

It IS your responsibility. If you partner with some theological liberal and don’t bother to tell him he’s hellbound, what will you say to him at the Great White Throne judgment when he says, “Why didn’t you say something?” Yes, you’re going into heaven. But he’s going to Hell. I have ABSOLUTELY NO DOUBT that the resident scholar at Logos is not going to be with me in Heaven, but will be screaming in torments forever, in the lake of fire. So much so, that when his materials are free giveaways by Logos, when his classes are avialable, I avoid them like the plague. The same goes for NT Wright, and this new guy that looks so grim when he talks about his new discoveries about salvation being works oriented. The same goes for David Stern, the mis-translator and author of the Jewish New Testament translation. And CS Lewis. Etc.

I can understand why many IFB just lock themselves away with their King James and plug their ears. I’ve been tempted to do that myself. But I’m learning HUGE amounts about the Bible.

THe single hardest thing for me is, staying away from other translations, to stay away from other denominations. Wow, it would be GREAT to stop fighting, to stop swimming against the current. But we’re in the middle of the great falling away, the great apostasy. To give in is to join up, to help establish the wordwide faith that will help the Antichrist move into power. And I don’t want my eternity in heaven to be tainted with the knowledge that because I gave up, because I stopped fighting, I helped establish the Antichrist.

WAAAY too many people are going to have their eternity tempered with that realization. Way too many.

Don’t you be one of them.

How to find a Biblical Church


How to find a Biblical church.

In today’s world, finding a Biblical church sooner or later is going to become a necessity. The church you’re in right now probably has plans to turn into something that’s not a church, if they haven’t already.

The first thing you should ALWAYS do is ask to see the statement of faith. If they don’t have one on the website, be worried. A statement of faith nowadays has to be incredibly long, not a short little three paragraph thing.

  • What’s their stand on the Bible? Any Bible? The Message? Do they believe the Bible was inerrant and Inspired ONLY in the original manuscripts, or do they believe the one in your hands is inerrant and inspired?
  • What’s their stand on Salvation? I ask this becase literally, the most popular and famous Christian writer today – N. T. Wright – is preaching heresy, and so many Christians are dazzled by his writings that they’re not stopping to say “wait a minute…” Does this church believe salvation is a free gift of God and not of works, in accord with Eph. 2:8-9? Don’t assume they believe a Biblical message of salvation. If their altar call doesn’t mention Repentance… worry about it.
  • Do they baptize by immersion? If they teach baptism is not for today, avoid that church. I mentioned Jason Cooley a couple of times on this blog until I realized that was his stance, and now I reccommend people avoid him. If they offer you a choice, or baptize infants, leave that church.
  • Does it feel like a house of God, or a rock concert? I strongly feel that churches should play doctrinally strong hymns and not rock music for the service. While there are strong arguments for and against Christian contemprary music, there’s one thing you cannot deny – once a church makes a move for including modern music in its service, the doctrinal positions soon change. That’s not even a 70% type of statistic from what I’ve seen, that’s a 100% statistic. That alnoe should make you nervous. find me one church with a drummer, a bass player, and guitar solos that preaches the wrath of God against sinners and a literal eternity in burning fire and torment for anyone who is not born again. You can’t play half the service of universalist man-centered music and then preach a God centered message – it won’t last that way for long.
  • Do they preach a literal eternity in a fiery Hell for any who are not saved?
  • Do they accept EVERYONE who names the name of Christ as saved, despite evidence to the contrary?
  • Are the Deacons saved? Big question.
  • Are the walls painted black in the sanctuary? Really. I’m not kidding. There are several churches in my town whose walls are painted black, so that the light show works better.
  • Do they preach the whole word of God?
  • Do they make their doctrines based upon emotions, feelings, and what’s pleasing to the flesh – or do they base their doctrinal stand upon the Bible? THat’s a strong question nowadays. Believe it or not, David Cloud’s latest book makes the charge that Southern Baptists respond institutionally more by emotions than the word of God – and I can’t refute that.
  • Do they join hands with those who take unBiblical doctrines, or do they advocate Biblical separation from those in error?
  • Do they preach a Biblical pre-tribulation rapture, or do they assume somehow that there won’t be a rapture, or that “The Church” must go through part of or all of the Rapture? This is a big issue. Like the contemporary music issue, it’s the tip of the iceberg that something is wrong.

Okay, now let’s examine the other side of the issue.

  • Does the congregation look like they’re afraid to raise their eyes to look at the pastor?
  • If you try talking to someone before the service, do they cast a fearful eye at the pastor first before answering you?
  • Do the congregation member’s eyes pass by you as if you don’t exist? I learned in seminary that “As the congregation is, so is the Pastor first.” If the congregation ignores you, so wil the pastor.
  • Do they kick the homeless and needy out of the church – or does the Deacon pull them aside and give them money so they can get some real food? Big issue for me. I saw the Deacon in my old church pull a homeless man who was begging during the service out of the sancutary – and then empty his wallet into the man’s hands. That deacon remains my hero, dsepite my leaving that church. By the way, that Deacon was a military retiree, on a fixed income.
  • Is there a constant theme of, “you’re not getting this kind of Biblical truth anywhere else!”
  • Does the church have pictures of Jack Hyles or Peter Ruckman prominantly displayed?

As we get farther and farther into the age of apostasy, it’s getting harder and harder to look for a Biblical church. So many churches are starting to remove denominational names from their church name (Baptist is not a denomination, but you know what I mean). And some are even removing the word “Church” from the name.

If they’re taking the word Church from the name… it’s a hint.

Being a Pastor 9 – The Sermon 2


Let me be blunt in one more point, and then I’m going to start showing how to build a sermon.

If the sermon is boring, it’s… not the sermon’s fault.

I gave instructions on how to preach. Listening to a dull speaker, you quickly get the feeling for how to keep people’s attention. Danny Castle is never boring. John MacArthur is sometimes boring. All of the associate pastors that work for MacArthur are deadly boring. I’m sure jokes are made about the sermon so boring, it killed fifteen people.

By the way, when I mention John MacArthur, it’s not an endorsement. Most of us have heard him preach, so I’m using something you’re familiar with. While I’ve listened to many of his sermons, he is a 4 point Calvinist, and that skews how he sees the Bible. I can’t recommend him for that reason.

Getting back on topic.

Adding TIME to a sermon does not guarantee interest. The thought is, “If I preach for an hour, I’m bound to say something interesting.”

I’ll say this – I love a good sermon. But I’ve felt the agony of a church goer who knows the sermon’s going to be an hour, and it’s DULL. AAAUGH!!!!

If you haven’t struck oil in 30 minutes, stop boring.

I pace a little while I preach. Nothing like Danny Castle. I vary my voice, tone, inflection, because I had an accounting teacher who our class actually complained about to the college and he droned in a soft voice… talking about accounting… and cash is a debit… so if we open a special ledger….zzzzzz…..

Sermons that do not challenge the congregation are essentially hot air.

So, I’ve made impossible demands upon many pastors. That’s okay, that’s in the job description, we’re kind of used to it.

Who can do everything I just spoke about? Marc Monte, myself (i hope – nobody’s told me if I’m boring or not!), Danny Castle, David Cloud… I’m still trying to compile a list. Vincent Sawyer’s not too bad, but he’s not very good at the tone, inflection, voice part of it.

Okay, so, let’s get started on how to choose a text to preach from. I’m going to tell you I’m a big believer in Expository preaching. The idea is that you’re going to preach from the Bible in sequence. I guarantee that way, I cover every topic addressed in Scripture. So, my recommendation is this – Start in Matthew, and preach until you hit Revelation.

“What about Sunday Nights?” Easy… Start in Genesis.

Method two is to assign a one-year Bible reading program, and choose a passage somewhere during the previous weeks’ passage to preach from.

Method three is Topical. You pick a topic and preach from it.

Method four is actually how it was done in the Jerusalem church. Judaism is Liturgical – they have weekly readings from the Torah and the Haftorah, the books of Moses and the prophets.

When Christianity first started, they took the same thing, and added the New Testament as a third part. You could have gone to a synagogue anywhere in the empire for the first twenty years of Christianity, ¬†and not known it was Christian until you heard them read from the Gospels. And then one of the Apostles or a pastor they’d trained would get up and preach on that.

That kind of system is called by Christians a Lectionary. There are quite a few Lectionaries available. There isn’t one for Baptists – we don’t do that, and actually, it may be wrong we’re not! – but if you’re one of those people that insists on being like “The Early Church”, here was how it was done in Jerusalem.

Most people are familiar with topical preaching. With absolutely no apologies to false teacher Andy Stanley, topical preaching is a relatively new thing, and was looked upon with a great deal of suspicion at first. The old method was to find a text and twist it out of all recognition as you spiritualize merrily away.

Topical preaching involves taking a topic – like Adultery – and preaching on it. I don’t know why ANYONE has a hard time finding a topic to preach on, at all , through the year. Seriously. Orville Nave and R. A. Torrey took care of that for us. Get their topical Bibles, turn to “A”, and there you go. They even give you texts to look up! Compare them to each other, and look in the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge for more.

Since the other methods are essentially Expository, let’s talk about one concept that will make this a lot easier… the unit of thought. The word for it is a Pericope (per-ih-ko-pea). If you hear someone talk about THE Pericope, they’re referring to John 7:53-8:12. But if it’s A pericope, they’re talking about every unit of thought in the Bible.

Some Pericope’s actually are so long, you’ll have to find a point where you can split it. Otherwise you’re preaching Hebrews for, well, most of the book. And Romans. You just may make it through the New Testament before the Congregation fires you for the 3 1/2 hour sermons.

So, I’ve solved one of the major dilemmas that haunt Pastors – “What am I preaching on Sunday?” Really, that shouldn’t be a question. And one question that haunts the Pastor is, “I’m stuck between this text and that, and I don’t know which…” And you end up working on BOTH texts.

Choose your system I’ve settled for doing New Testament Sunday mornings, Old Testament Sunday Evenings, and topical on Wednesday nights. Decide for yourself, and DON’T DEVIATE.

Being a Pastor 8- The Sermon


Okay, folks, let’s face some facts and be REALLY honest about something.

The IFB culture really fights against itself on two issues – trained Pastors, and sermons.

Seriously.

The IFB culture is suspicious of seminary trained pastors. It’s a major issue. No kidding. Who is better equipped to lead a congregation, a preacher boy that’s read through the Bible six times, or someone who’s taken Doctrine I, II, III and IV over two years?

Who’s better equipped, someone who just is saved and that’s peachy keen, or someone who’s been saved several years, has some maturity, and studied History Of the Churches I & II?

Who is better equipped to teach a congregation how to rightly divide the word of God, a guy who’s heard every Jack Hyles sermon… or someone who’s had Hermaneutics and Homilteics?

Who has studied to shew thyself approved, the guy who just knows John 3:16, and that’s really good enough for him… or the pastor who’s had one year of GReek or one year of Hebrew?

YES, some guy can just get a KIng James Bible, read it through a bunch of times, and pastor a church. I know one man who did it And he preaches expositorally, and man, I would seriously have trouble keeping up with him. But my point is… he’s a rarity. Most of the rest of us need the 4 years of seminary.

I know a lot of you will disagree. But I’m about to get into the second issue where IFB bites itself, and that’s…

…most IFB pastors cannot preach their way out of a wet paper bag. Honestly. I’ve gone through several years of trying different IFB pastors, and listening to their sermons. Results?

LIttle scriptural content.

Very little in the way of rightly dividing the word.

Congregation enjoys the sermon, but is incapable of connecting the text the pastor preached on, to his message.

And very often, repetetive and dull.

In other words, virtually indistinguishable from… Joel Osteen.

And I’m not just talking about modern IFB preachers… I’m literally speaking of some of the famous ones of yesteryear. You can point to famous pastors whose megachurches of yore started colleges and universities to teach would-be pastors. I’m talking about famous IFB pastors who I’ve listened to, who had radio programs.

Listen, I insist on one simple thing with a sermon… John 3:16. I preach on it. You do an exit interview with someone in the congregation, and they should be able to tell you my point was, “You need to be saved”, and how I connected the text to the message.

If you can’t do that… you flopped. Your sermon was a waste of time.

If I preach on 1 Peter 3:15, most people leaving the church should be able to tell you the message was about defending your faith, that many atheists just FESTER to challenge your faith, and that you should be able to be ready to give a reason for your faith… and the first step is, learning WHY you believe what you believe.

If I preach on 1 Peter 3:15, and you can;t answer, “What was the sermon about?” and, “how do you do that?”, I flunked.

Danny Castle is very good at taking one text, breaking it down, and making it stick, and boy, you better NOT be backsliding in his church! He’s very unique. I’m not talikng about him at all.

It’s time we stopped doing a disservice to our churches.

Seriously. We’ve got our doctrine right (some of us). We’re serious about the LORD! And sure, we live for him, fight for him, have the right Bible, and… we’re leaving our congregations completely defenseless against the devil, because they can’t rightly divide the word. Whose fault?

Ours.

So, over the next few posts, i’m going to show how to read a text, learn it, rightly divide it, and… preach it.

The rest of you, just read along, enjoy… and learn some added techniques you can add to your Bible study methods.

Because it’s very possible that God’s sent someone here to begin to learn how to preach. You’re called, buddy. You just don’t know it.

Yeah, I’m talking to you!

preached

Being a Pastor 5 and Being a Christian – Bible Study 1


I’m writing this one as a combination of both series at once, trying to save on repetitious reading, because probably the non-ministry types (both of you – I say this tongue in cheek because every Christian is called to ministry in some way – but I’m referring to preaching ministry when I say “Ministry”) are reading these too.

Okay, we’re going to detail how to do the Bible study. I’ve done this several times in the past, but now i’d like firm commitments between you and God that you’re going to do this. Just leave a comment saying, “I started!”

First, you need to set up a Bible reading plan in your software, or on your calendar. This year, we’re doing the one I wrote about of Old Testament in the year, and New Testament Twice. It’s not too late to join in, you just need a week of massive reading to get caught up. At the time I’m writing this, I’m at Jacob’s life story in Genesis. You’ll just have to read 30 chapters or so of Genesis and about 8 chapters of Matthew to get caught up.

If you’re doing the manual study with Bible and notebook, you’ll need certain tools. A Bible atlas, a concordance, a book of cross references, and a Bible Dictionary. I’d prefer you have a topical Bible too. It seems like whenever I’m reading these articles by other people, how FEW of them tell you to have a Topical Bible! Well, let’s say you’re in Genesis, and you want to look up wells. You can look them up in Strong’s – but let’s not forget, the Bible uses terms that would have made sense to people living in Israel. Some wells are mentioned by name, and not just by “The well”. So, a concordance would’nt llist Beersheba – even though that’s a town built around seven wells. References to Beersheba can be to the town, the people there, or the wells themselves. Topical Bibles will contain that information.

You need…

  • King James Study Bible
  • Strong’s Concordance
  • Nave’s topical Bible
  • Torrey’s Topical Bible
  • Treasury of Scriptural Knowledge
  • Webster’s 1828
  • King James Interlinear
  • Vine’s
  • A notebook
  • Bible marking pens
  • A good pen for writing in your notebook – I’m a huge fan of Tul pens, pronounced Tool (Tul owners often call themselves Tul users!)
  • A good Dispensational Commentary. One of the best is Bible Knowledge Commentary by John Walvoord.

I’ve listed severeal Bible programs if you prefer to do it that way – the ONLY condition is, you MUST be able to do Bible study without distraction. If using a computer distracts you into checking your email, local news, the scores of the New York Whatevers… then close the computer, get all the books I listed off of the bookshelf, sit down in a room with the door closed, and open your Bible.

If, on the other hand, you can use some discipline to study on your computer (David Cloud says he can’t – I can. Different for every person), then get whatever Bible software you prefer for free. My wife actually got rid of Wordsearch recently, as it seems to be in terminal crash mode. She now uses Bible Gateway, which is a good method of study. And free.

I’ll repeat this – if you are in some kind of apologetic or preaching/Teaching ministry, whether live or blogging – you MUST get one of the more serious Bible programs – Bibleworks, Accordance or Logos. I don’t personally recommend Bibleworks, as it’s lacking in many of the library books you need – but if you’re willing to use two programs or a Bible program and lots of hardcover books (that’s what they recommend), you may like it. I personally like to have all my materials in one program.

You need a study notefile. Every Bible software has a way to do this. Just Title it “Bible Study 2017” or whatever you personally call it. It’s called Notes in Logos. Just create a new Notes fiel from the Documents menu.

  • Make sure you make at least ONE note a day on your reading from the Old Testament, and one from the New.
  • If you read the Bible with the intensity of wanting to highlight something every day, and making a note on something every day, you’re studying right.
  • You MUST open a Bible atlas once a day. How far from Gezer to Beersheba? What’s the southernmost town in Israel? Where is Sardis? Is Jericho UP or DOWN from Jerusalem? Make notes on it. Not important? It really highlights why Isaac was so self righteous over the well incident. Count how many miles Abimelech’s men pushed Isaac.
  • You must look up at least two words a day. Don’t assume you know what the words mean. You can look them up in the original languages (DO NOT DO STRONG’S WORD STUDIES IN GREEK OR HEBREW UNLESS YOU KNOW THOSE LANGUAGES! DANGER DANGER DANGER!!!!!), or in Webster’s 1828. Logos does not have Webster’s, unless you build it as a personal book – if you do, complete with headwords, then I want a copy please! If you are using a program that doesn’t have the Websters 1828, then you will probably need to open a program that does have it (such as Swordsearcher, KIng James Pure Bible Search, or Bible Analyzer).
  • You must highlight one verse per chapter.
  • If you’re doing the so-called “Inductive Bible Study” in either Logos or Accordance or your hardcover Bible, that’s great… make extensive notes on what symbols you are using, so you don’t get confused. You can download a PDF of suggested symbols from Precept Ministries. If you’re doing the hardcover method instead of software, print out the PDF from Precept and keep it in your Bible.

Questions!

  • What is the point or theme of this passage?
  • Is there divisions in this passage? Write the outline.
  • What other passages in the Bible speak on this topic? (hint – TSK or Topical Bible)
  • Is there any helpful insight commentators have given? (I’ve found some good in commentaries, and I’ve found utter rot in commentaries. Buyer beware.)

This is really enough for one year. If you do this briefly every day, you’ll make huge inroads. If you do a little bit here and a little bit there, you’ll gain Bible knowledge a little here and a little there. Better not to study at all, if that’s the case. Every Christian owes it to themselves to do this kind of study.

Tim LaHeye says that 15 minutes a day of study is MINIMUM, in addition to devotional reading.

Let’s get started!