Romans 1:16 - "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile."

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Willow Creek Confession

I came across the article the other day and found it very interesting, I hope you do also.

A Shocking ???Confession??? from Willow Creek Community Church

Bob Burney
October 30, 2007

If you are older than 40 the name Benjamin Spock is more than familiar. It was Spock that told an entire generation of parents to take it easy, don't discipline your children and allow them to express themselves. Discipline, he told us, would warp a child's fragile ego. Millions followed this guru of child development and he remained unchallenged among child rearing professionals. However, before his death Dr. Spock made an amazing discovery: he was wrong. In fact, he said:
We have reared a generation of brats. Parents aren't firm enough with their children for fear of losing their love or incurring their resentment. This is a cruel deprivation that we professionals have imposed on mothers and fathers. Of course, we did it with the best of intentions. We didn't realize until it was too late how our know-it-all attitude was undermining the self assurance of parents.

Something just as momentous, in my opinion, just happened in the evangelical community. For most of a generation evangelicals have been romanced by the "seeker sensitive" movement spawned by Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago. The guru of this movement is Bill Hybels. He and others have been telling us for decades to throw out everything we have previously thought and been taught about church growth and replace it with a new paradigm, a new way to do ministry.

Perhaps inadvertently, with this "new wave" of ministry came a de-emphasis on taking personal responsibility for Bible study combined with an emphasis on felt-needs based "programs" and slick marketing.

The size of the crowd rather than the depth of the heart determined success. If the crowd was large then surely God was blessing the ministry. Churches were built by demographic studies, professional strategists, marketing research, meeting "felt needs" and sermons consistent with these techniques. We were told that preaching was out, relevance was in. Doctrine didn't matter nearly as much as innovation. If it wasn't "cutting edge" and consumer friendly it was doomed. The mention of sin, salvation and sanctification were taboo and replaced by Starbucks, strategy and sensitivity.

Thousands of pastors hung on every word that emanated from the lips of the church growth experts. Satellite seminars were packed with hungry church leaders learning the latest way to "do church." The promise was clear: thousands of people and millions of dollars couldn't be wrong. Forget what people need, give them what they want. How can you argue with the numbers? If you dared to challenge the "experts" you were immediately labeled as a "traditionalist," a throwback to the 50s, a stubborn dinosaur unwilling to change with the times.
All that changed recently.

Willow Creek has released the results of a multi-year study on the effectiveness of their programs and philosophy of ministry. The study's findings are in a new book titled Reveal: Where Are You?, co-authored by Cally Parkinson and Greg Hawkins, executive pastor of Willow Creek Community Church. Hybels himself called the findings "earth shaking," "ground breaking" and "mind blowing." And no wonder: it seems that the "experts" were wrong.

The report reveals that most of what they have been doing for these many years and what they have taught millions of others to do is not producing solid disciples of Jesus Christ. Numbers yes, but not disciples. It gets worse. Hybels laments:

Some of the stuff that we have put millions of dollars into thinking it would really help our people grow and develop spiritually, when the data actually came back it wasn't helping people that much. Other things that we didn't put that much money into and didn't put much staff against is stuff our people are crying out for.

If you simply want a crowd, the "seeker sensitive" model produces results. If you want solid, sincere, mature followers of Christ, it's a bust. In a shocking confession, Hybels states:
We made a mistake. What we should have done when people crossed the line of faith and become Christians, we should have started telling people and teaching people that they have to take responsibility to become 'self feeders.' We should have gotten people, taught people, how to read their bible between services, how to do the spiritual practices much more aggressively on their own.

Incredibly, the guru of church growth now tells us that people need to be reading their bibles and taking responsibility for their spiritual growth.

Just as Spock's "mistake" was no minor error, so the error of the seeker sensitive movement is monumental in its scope. The foundation of thousands of American churches is now discovered to be mere sand. The one individual who has had perhaps the greatest influence on the American church in our generation has now admitted his philosophy of ministry, in large part, was a "mistake." The extent of this error defies measurement.

Perhaps the most shocking thing of all in this revelation coming out of Willow Creek is in a summary statement by Greg Hawkins:

Our dream is that we fundamentally change the way we do church. That we take out a clean sheet of paper and we rethink all of our old assumptions. Replace it with new insights. Insights that are informed by research and rooted in Scripture. Our dream is really to discover what God is doing and how he's asking us to transform this planet.

Isn't that what we were told when this whole seeker-sensitive thing started? The church growth gurus again want to throw away their old assumptions and "take out a clean sheet of paper" and, presumably, come up with a new paradigm for ministry.

Should this be encouraging?

Please note that "rooted in Scripture" still follows "rethink," "new insights" and "informed research." Someone, it appears, still might not get it. Unless there is a return to simple biblical (and relevant) principles, a new faulty scheme will replace the existing one and another generation will follow along as the latest piper plays.

What we should find encouraging, at least, in this "confession" coming from the highest ranks of the Willow Creek Association is that they are coming to realize that their existing "model" does not help people grow into mature followers of Jesus Christ. Given the massive influence this organization has on the American church today, let us pray that God would be pleased to put structures in place at Willow Creek that foster not mere numeric growth, but growth in grace.

Bob Burney is Salem Communications' award-winning host of Bob Burney Live, heard weekday afternoons on WRFD-AM 880 in Columbus, Ohio. Contact Bob at

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

It Is Finished!

John 19:28-30

28Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, "I am thirsty." 29A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus' lips. 30When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

During a discussion the other day I came to the unfortunate realization that far to many who would call themselves Christians do not believe that the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross was enough to cover their sins, that it did not fully pay for their sins and that it needed something else.

What I specifically am talking about is the belief that salvation is something that could be lost at anytime. Believing that every time you sin you fall back into a position of needing your sins to be covered again.

The Bible does talk about confessing and turning from our sins:

1 John 1:5-10

5This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

8If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.

Mathew 21:32

Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.

This message is a message of not living a life filled with repetitive daily sin, of not thinking that there is not a need for a changed life or that grace covers us or in this case Abraham to the Jew so that we will not need to have a changed life. These verses are about the importance of confession and repentance not of a loss of salvation.

It is unimaginable for me to think about the daily torment of not knowing if you are going to heaven or not. We would need to be in constant 24/7 confession and repentance never coming from our knees in fear that at that one moment our minds would overcome us and a sinful thought would enter our minds and just at that very moment we fell dead being cast into hell.

This very thing is what tormented Martin Luther to the point of madness until God revealed to him through his Word in the Bible that Christ only needs to pay for your sins once and not time and time again.

And that it is not about our perfection but the perfection that could only come from Christ Himself.

Romans 6:10

The death he (Jesus) died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

1 Corinthians 1:17

1 Corinthians 1:17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

What has the modern day church come to when it feels that human wisdom spoken by mere man could ever compare or replace the Word of God.

Excuses such as creating a message that can better reach those seeking Him are used as if Gods Word is out dated or no longer significant in some way.

The Apostle Paul tells us here that using "words of human wisdom" empty the cross of Christ of its power, and I would say rightly so. When a church decides that they know better than God what His people need to hear, then the church becomes unable to deliver the message of Christ in a manner that can truly save. The cross has been emptied of its true meaning and power so how can it do anything but maybe create some surface feeling without any true depth.

Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

We cannot deliver as a church a message designed to be understood and accepted by worldly people and expect it to some how reach them in the manner that Gods Word will. Only God Himself can do this through His Word, we are incapable of this to any extent.

And as followers and believers in God and Christ we cannot allow ourselves, family or friends to be drawn in to such damaging and counterfeit practices.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Perseverance of the Saints

Perseverance of the Saints - God has promised the elect two things. First He promised never to forsake them. Second, He promised to work in the lives of the elect in a way that will not allow them to turn away from Him.

John 10:28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.

Jeremiah 32:40 I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me.

The elect are secure in the hands of God and of Christ, the elect like the kitten who is taken by the scruff of its neck by the mother cat, is secure for she will never allow the kitten to fall to its death, she is in complete control not the kitten.

Christ himself states the fact that the elect are secure and that He will never even loose one who has been chosen by God.

John 6:39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.

Those who "fall away" were never saved to begin with. Had they been truly saved God would not have allowed them to fall but would have insured their perseverance.

1 John 2:19 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Irresistible Grace

Irresistible Grace - God chose the elect and Christ payed the price for their sin by His willingness to go to the cross.

God loves all people in a general sense but there is a special love for those that He has predestined or called to faith in Him and in Christ.

In Luke 6:35-36 We see that God calls the saved to have love and mercy on our enemies and those who are ungrateful and wicked as God Himself does.

35But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

But this again is a love that in no way rivals the love for those God has called to Himself. Everyone has been given a common love and mercy by God, we know this due to the fact that God has allowed anyone to live at all, being all are sinners and all have fallen short of the righteousness God has called them to.

God has called all to faith, this I would say all Christians believe, but God again has done a special work in the elect.

In John 6:44 We read about this special call from God to those He has chosen and the inability of those to come to Him if He has not called them.

44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.

And in Romans 8:28-30 We see this process from beginning to end, God doesn't say that if after we are called if we decide to come to faith then He will see us through the rest of the process, no God says that "He" will fulfill this process from beginning to end in us Himself to assure it.

28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

The elect are not born again because they believe, but they believe because the are born again. God has opened up their hearts and minds to be able to be live.

Acts 16:14 14One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul's message.

John 3:3-8 3In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.

4"How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!"

5Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' 8The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."

If it were left to us we could not come to faith in any way on our own, but it is by the sovereign grace of God and His calling to those He has chosen.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Limited Atonement

Limited Atonement - The question always seems to be who did Christ die for? Well if we look at scripture what we will find is that Christ died for those God has predestined to come to faith.

Now there is a sense in which Christ through His death and resurrection has given the world a chance to come to faith on their own and by this gain salvation.

John 3:16 16"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

But in another sense we see that Christ only died for the elect that God has predestined to be saved.

Romans 8:28-30 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified."

So which is right? Well we know that the word of God is infallible and does not contradict itself, so with that in mind we must believe that this can only fit together by the understanding that the "whoever believes" must be the predestined. We also see this in John 17:2.

John 17:2 "Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him."

In Ephesians 5:25 we see an even more clearer verse showing exactly who Christs atoning death was for.

Ephesians 5:25 "Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her"

The fact is that on our own we have no hope because we do not seek God and righteousness through Christ, we are all undeserving sinners and if we are looking for what is fair then hell is our only option. It is only because of God and His work in us that moves us to Christ and our faith.

Romans 3:10-11 As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one; 11there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God."

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Unconditional Election

Unconditional Election -Man cannot save himself neither in whole nor in part. Only God can save man. The good news of the Gospel is that God out of His love, mercy and grace for us has provided that way.

1 Corinthians 15:1-4 1Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
3For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance
: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures

Before God had created anything, God had foreordained that He would choose (Eph 1:4-5) some of mankind to be saved from the sin that Adam had cast on all of us. God called these people His elect (Mark 13:20) and they are sinners who have been chosen to receive salvation.

Ephesians 1:4-5 4For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—

Mark 13:20 20If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, he has shortened them.

In a general sense God does call all people to come to faith and be saved (1 Tim 2:3-4), but in another sense God does only choose some sinners to be saved (John 17:2).

1 Timothy 2:3-4 3This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

John 17:2 "Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.

God did not choose the elect on the basis of anything they had done or will do, it was a free gift by His grace alone.

Ephesians 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—

If you think that in some way God is unfair in His choosing those that will be saved, God says this.

Romans 9:20 But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?' "

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Total Depravity

Total Depravity - Man - in his unredeemed state - is totally incapable of pleasing God because of his sinful nature. He neither seeks God, nor knows Him, but is spiritually dead, - unable to please God, and utterly sinful in every way. This is not to say that he is as bad or evil as he could be, but that there is no true goodness in him.

Born dead in to sin -

Romans 7:18 I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.

Mathew 8:22 But Jesus told him, "Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead."

Ephesians 2:1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins

Romans 3:11 11 There is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.

Accountability - What we have here is a paradox of sorts. God is sovereign, but yet He made man accountable for his sinful life.

Romans 14:12 So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.

Mans moral inability does not annul his responsibility. Quite the contrary - it compounds it. Keep in mind it was man who brought this sinful nature upon himself.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

The Sovereignty Of God

Before we take a look at the Doctrines lets keep in mind one thing and that is that God is sovereign over all of His creation.

Ephesians 1:11 - "In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will"

It is important for us to understand that God has foreordained everything that has passed and He has predestined everything that will every come, down to the smallest thing.

Romans 11:36 - "For from him and through him and to him are all things."

The universe is not a democracy but is a kingdom ruled by God.

Revelation 19:6 - "For our Lord God Almighty reigns"

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Doctrines of Grace

The Doctrines of Grace like the Five Solas are equally as foundational and have been taught since the earliest of church fathers. It was taught by the likes of the Apostle Paul, the great Augustine, Martin Luther, John Bunyan, and Mathew Henry. In more recent times we see those such as Jonathan Edwards, Charles Hodge, Charles Spurgeon, A.W. Pink, Martin Lloyd-Jones, James I. Packer and James Montgomery Boice.

Most protestant denominations that had been founded within the reformation times had been built on confessions of faith that clearly uphold these doctrines, such as the Westminster Confession (Presbyterianism), the Canons of Dort (Reformed), the Thirty-nine Articles (Episcopalianism), the Baptist Confession of 1869 (Baptists), and the Savoy Declaration (Congregationalism) to name a few.

The Doctrines of Grace also hold high the sovereignty of God and His gift of salvation to those which He alone chooses. They emphasize over and over that God is God and man is man.

There is a popular acronym for these doctrines which is TULIP, tulip like the Solas also has five main points.

  • Total Depravity
  • Unconditional Election
  • Limited Atonement
  • Irresistable Grace
  • Perseverance Of The Saints

We will look at each of these doctrines individually over the next several weeks and the truth of these doctrines will become clear on the question of who is in control of the universe.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Putting It All Into Perspective

The purpose of these "Five Solas" is really to make us think long and hard as Christians. Who is our God and is He the powerful and mighty God we read about in His infallible word, The Bible? The answer is yes to these questions.

We read in Ephesians 2:8-9 - 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast.

Within these two verses we see the truth of these Solas unfold. It all becomes clear that God is the mighty and powerful one that is in complete control of our destiny of Salvation. To attempt to take credit for our salvation in any way, by removing credit from God and applying it to us, is not only an injustice to God but it in some ways strips Him of the Glory deserving only to Him and to His Son Jesus Christ who was perfect and sinless, given by God as a sacrifice for the payment of our sins.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Soli Deo Gloria

SOLI DEO GLORIA - “To God alone be the Glory”

It is the great goal of all of God’s purposes in Jesus Christ. All that God does, He does for His own glory. He created all things for His glory. He sustains and rules over the world and our lives for His glory. Our salvation is all of grace through Christ for all His glory. One important thing to notice, the word alone. God and God alone is worthy of all glory and praise!

(Romans 11:36) For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever!

Friday, January 5, 2007

Sola Christus

SOLA CHRISTUS - “Through Christ Alone”

It is in Christ alone that we have salvation. In His perfect life and substitutionary death, alone we have salvation. Through Him and Him alone, we have the forgiveness of our sins and are declared righteous before God.

(Titus 3:5-7) He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.