Religious Syncretism

1. April 2017 18:05 by Edward L. Smith in   //  Tags:   //   Comments (4)

Religious Syncretism

#StaySleep OR #StayWoke

 

What is “Religious Syncretism”?

 

Terms Defined

Religious – Belief in a God or a group of gods and following the rules of a religion. One being devout by the indication of a spirit of reverence toward God.

Syncretism – The merging of two or more different forms of belief practices. The attempt of reconciling or unionizing opposing principles, practices, philosophies of religions.  

Religious Syncretism is therefore the reconciling and fusing of two or more unrelated religious beliefs and practices into a new system, practice, or lifestyle. Religious Syncretism therefore boils down to the incorporation of beliefs into religious traditions that are wholly unrelated.

 

Urban cults are currently in their “latency period”. The latency period is the time between infection and the ability of a said disease to spread. The Church can either be proactive or reactive in giving a apologetic defense for the faith that we hold. It is now high time to equip the Body of Christ that She might give a reason of the hope that She is built upon. 

Why the Urgency for a Proactive Apologetic Defense

In 2017 the Church will not be influenced by  the means and methods of old but by mediums and platforms that can reach thousands in a matter of minutes. Where Philosophy, psychology, & Theology once ruled it has been now replaced with YouTube, memeology, and a plethora of *Live* social media platforms. 

These Urban Cult movements are flourishing through the primary spheres of this world's social distribution & we cannot ignore them. In particular the field of sports, the fields of intellect, & entertainment. Here are 3 notable names for an example. 

 

Notable Influential Names

Amar'e Stoudemire – Former Phoenix Sun, New York Knick star Amar’e  Stoudemire self-identifies as a Hebrew Israelite, a tribe that’s believed to have descended from the Kingdom of Judah and inhabited what is now Israel before its expulsion by the Romans in 70 A.D. In search of a deeper meaning of birth, life, faith, and his religious roots has immersed into a Hebraic lifestyle and identifies as a Hebrew. To Stoudemire it is about fulfillment, enlightenment I'm not a religious person," he has said. "I'm more of a spiritual person."

Dr. Umar Johnson – In the world of intellect a popular name and influence is Umar Johnson who is affectionately called “the Prince of Pan-Americanism" and often referred to as “Poppa”. Dr. Johnson is a Black Psychologist and National Certified School Psychologist. You could say that Johnson is a Marcus Garvey disciple. 

While outwardly his goal is the edification of African-Americans/Blacks yet it’s done through a message with the attempt to destroy Christianity by reconnecting Blacks to their African spirituality.  

Nick Canon -  Nick Canon is an rapper, actor, comedian, television host, etc etc. 

When people see Nick Canon these days they see him sporting his diamond studded turban that reflects his new belief system. Canon said on the popular radio show the Breakfast Club “Christianity was his first language but that he is now fluent in a range of different spiritualties as well”. When Nick Canon speaks Millennials & Gen-X listen.

 

The message Millennials & Gen-X’ers are receiving is a propagation that Christianity is NOT the only true system of belief and practice to God and Jesus Christ is NOT the sole means of salvation and way to a relationship to God.

These three examples don’t even begin to scratch the surface. These ideas are encapsulated in a movement called “The Consciousness Community”. Today I will deal with just the beginning of what’s circulating and influencing Millennials & Gen-X age group.

 

Christ in Egyptology

Many in the Consciousness Community believes that Christianity and the idea of Jesus Christ is all plagiarized from Egypt. Some of their claims are as follows:

The ten Commandments were taken from Egypt

Jesus was based on the Egyptian god Horus

The birth story of Jesus was taken from Egypt

Jesus having 12 disciples came from Egypt

Jesus death and resurrection came from Egypt

The claims of parallels are numerous but all are false. 

 

Apologetic Defenses

1)Where is any of this information found in Egyptian Literature?

2)Ask the question what are the original source material to back this claim?

3)What are your Primary or secondary resource. (Ask how?) 

4)Familiarize yourself with Isis, Horus, and Orsis

5)Have an understanding of the Pyramid Text & the Papyrus of Ani a.k.a. The Book of the Dead.

(Horus was an Egyptian god, people thought of Horus as having the head of a falcon. The Pharaoh was the human form of Horus. The goddess Isis, in Egyptian mythology, was married to Osiris. Osiris was killed and his body was scattered all over Egypt. They searched Egypt finding the pieces of his body, put them back together again into Osiris, and brought him to life again to make their child, the god Horus.)

 

Moorish Science

The Moorish Science Temple of America started by Timothy Drew who now is known as Noble Drew Ali. Moors teachings are derived from The Holy Koran, not to be confused with the Holy Qur’an of Islam, was written by Nobel Drew Ali between 1913 - 1929.

Ali taught the idea that Jesus would have supported the worship of Allah and even taught his followers that all people worship Allah even if they have renamed him Zeus, Yahweh, etc. The teachings of the Holy Koran are supposed to be taken from the missing years of the life of Jesus. What is most intriguing about Moorish teaching there aim is to give Black men and women an identify that they teach was stolen from them during their life in North & South West Africa in slavery.  

 

Apologetic Defense

1.Be familiar with Moorish teachings.

2.KNOW your Bible

3.Know Soteriology (the doctrine of Salvation) & what Moors believe teach about it.

4.Know Christology (the doctrine of Jesus Christ) 

 

Chrislam

“Chrislam is an attempt to syncretize Christianity with Islam. While it began in Nigeria in the 1980s, Chrislamic ideas have spread throughout much of the world. The essential concept of Chrislam is that Christianity and Islam are compatible, that one can be a Christian and a Muslim at the same time. Chrislam is not an actual religion of its own, but a blurring of the differences and distinctions between Christianity and Islam.” (GotQuestions.org)

How is this relevant to Flint? The weekend of March 28 both channel 5 & 12 ran a story of a local “Church” and a local Mosque coming together in unity. There are several questions pertaining to this that must be ask. 

Is the Yahweh and Allah the same God?

Is Jesus and Isa the same in the Qur’an?

Is Christianity and Islam both Abrahamic faiths?

 

Apologetic Defense

While the answer is No to all those the Church must be able to answer the why.

1.CallingMuslims.org

2.Understand Yahweh’s covenant with Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob. 

3.Know the essentials of the Christian Faith

4.Read several books on Islam (What Every Christian Needs to Know about the Qur’an, The Dark Side of Islam,& Reasoning from the Scriptures with Muslims)

 

Hebrew Ebionites

Who are Hebrew Ebionites? The Ebionites were in essence a sect of Judaism that fled Israel under the persecution of Rome. The word Ebionite comes from the word “Ebionim” meaning “was "poor,". These Jewish refugees admittedly were poverty stricken and were of the mindset and understanding refusing to accept the Christology of the ruling Church. So they merged the two together spreading hersey.

 

In the 21st Century a new sect has arisen. Today there is a new sect of Hebrew Ebionites that the Church must be aware of.

 

The modern version can be described as a crossing of the false cult teachings of the Hebrew Israelites and Christianity. It is no doubt that the people of the land of Israel and surrounding region were melanated people. Skin color does not automatic make a person a Hebrew or an Israelite but that is what most Hebrew Israelite camps teach. 

 

There are now some pastors and Christians claiming to be Hebrew and Christian thus the term Hebrew Ebionite. The challenge here lies in some of the core teachings. 

Are Christians who do not keep the “Sabbath” violating God’s standard?

Can a Christian be a law keeper and a disciple of Christ at the same time?

What role does the Apocrypha play in the life of a believer? 

 

Apologetic Defense

1)Know Galatians 3 & Colossians 2

2)Must have a good familiarity with the Old Testament and covenants

3)Must know Church history

4)Understand Law and Grace

 

I want to conclude with a statement from another Apologist.

“While religious syncretism is a danger in every age, with the boom of the technological age, it’s becoming increasingly problematic in the urban context. As a pastor in an inner-city context, I regularly engage people with questions about Egyptian mysticism, Pan-Africanism, ecumenical councils, canonization, and the early history of Christianity…Unlike the Egyptian mysticism of the 16th and 17th centuries that is wholly based upon fables, I often argue that the Christian message is one that is deeply rooted in history and yet to be disproved archeologically. Rather than seeking to appease a god through human agency, the God of the Scriptures is self-satisfied by the offering of his son, Jesus, upon the Cross for the remissions of our sins. This stark contrast demonstrates that amalgamating anything with Christianity is unfaithful to the biblical narrative and incompatible with the gospel.” ~ Ernest Cleo Grant II

 

We MUST know the Gospel and all that it entails. The Gospel is very simply Jesus Christ! He is the Son of God, the Son of Man. Sent into this world to be born of a virgin that He might be sinless, that He might be born under the law, to keep the very law that every individual on the face of this planet has broken. The perfect, sinless, Son of God has perfectly met all the requirements of God’s law, and is ready to give His righteousness to us that we would have a perfect standing before God. Jesus went to the cross; there He was lifted up to die. There upon that cross, the sins of everyone who would believe in Him were transferred to Him. And Him who knew no sin God made to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God. That’s the great exchange of the cross—the worst about mankind was laid upon Him, the best about Him now to be laid upon all who will believe as He shed His blood upon that cross.

 

Repent of your sins, put faith in Jesus Christ – that is the Gospel.

Rev. E. L. Smith

SDG

 

Reformation Profiles of African Americans February 2, 2017

2. February 2017 11:58 by Edward L. Smith in   //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)

Reformation Profiles 

Reformation Profiles of African Americans February 2, 2017

The Minister of Justice Francis J. Grimke' October 4, 1850 - November 11, 1937

Francis J. Grimké was born on a rice plantation near Charleston, SC known as the Cane Acres. His mother's name was Nancy Weston, a black slave; his father was the slave master. Francis was born in slavery and eventually ran away and joined the Confederate Army until emancipation. Francis then rejoined with family and that's where his life of ministry really begins. 

Francis Grimké began his quest in the study of law at Lincoln where he graduated at the head of his undergraduate class in 1870, he then went on to attend Howard University in 1874. However he then begin to realize his call from God to the ministry and re-enrolled at Princeton Theological Seminary where he graduated in 1878. Grimké began ministering at the 15th Street Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. & would marry Charlotte L. Forten a Philadelphia native. Francis and Charlotte had only one child, Theodora Cornelia, that died in infancy. From 1885 to 1889, Grimké served the Laura Street Presbyterian Church in Jacksonville, Florida. However Grimké then returned & remained at 15th Street Presbyterian Church until 1928.

During these fifty years God would use Francis Grimké in a mighty way. Grimké preached and taught the congregation where they would be recognized as "one of the most accomplished African-American congregations in America". Grimké preached to them and a national audience "to agitate for civil rights “until justice is done"". In many respects he was not known for his activism outside the Church yet he was personally very active. Grimké participated in the creation of organizations such as the American Negro Academy, which nurtured African-American development. 

In 1923 Grimké would create a fury of controversy. The controversy was caused by his Howard University School of Religion convocation address called, “What Is the Trouble with Christianity Today?” in this address he "denounced groups like the YMCA and the “federation of white churches” for their racist policies while challenging the sincerity of the faith of many political leaders." 

His pulpit ministry was one of rarity. "The members (of his congregation) expected and received sermons that addressed issues of faith and morals with ethical insight, literary grace, and prophetic zeal. He practiced what he preached, earning himself the sobriquet "Black Puritan.""

 

The Minister of Justice 

God used Grimké in a time when they needed a resilient prophet of perseverance & a builder of men and women. Here are some quotes from his sermons. 

Grimké believed in the believer having a genuine personal relationship with God. This quote comes from a follow up sermon called The Ideal Woman (Proverbs 31) Listen as he address a religious man on January 24, 1904: "And this is true of the religious man; he has a living faith in the reality of God. One of the things that particularly impress one in reading the Old Testament is the reality of God to the patriarchs and prophets. They go to Him with everything; they speak to Him as one man speaks to another. He is just as real to them as they are to each other."

Grimké preached for several weeks on the "Ideal Woman" and a woman came up to him and asked, "the woman you have been describing exist anywhere outside the Bible"? I'm sure he chuckled then gently replied to her "It may be that she does not; but I thank God that she has an existence there, at least...She is there and God has put her there, in order that all women, - single women and married women, women who are wives, and women who are mothers, might have the opportunity of looking on her; of studying her character and life. He has put her there as an ideal, as a model for them in hope that they might be inspired, stimulated by her noble example to make the effort, at least, to be like her. 

And when it came to dealing with everyday life issues Grimké remained bold as ever. 

"The Negro is an American citizen, and he never will be eliminated as a political factor with his consent. He has been terrorized and kept from the polls by bloody ruffians, but he has never felt that it was right; he has never acquiesced in it, and never will, as long as he lives. As long as there is one manly, self respecting Negro in this country, the agitation will go on, will never cease until right is triumphant. It is one thing to compel the Negro by force to stay away from the polls; it is a very different thing for the Negro himself, freely of his own accord, to relinquish his political rights. The one he may be constrained to do; the other he will not do." - November 20,1898

March 7, 1909 Grimké gave a bold sermon entitled "Equality of Right for All Citizens, Black and White, Alike" that some directly to the bitter States that were in rebellion. Grimké said, "The secession of the Southern States in 1860 was a small matter with the secession of the Union itself from the great principles enunciated in the Declaration of Independence, in the Golden Rule, in the Ten Commandments, in the Sermon on the Mount. Unless we hold, and hold firmly to these great fundamental principles of righteousness, of social, political, and economic wisdom, our Union, as Mr. Garrison expressed it, will be 'only a covenant with death and an agreement with hell.' If it continues to exist it will be a curse, and not a blessing."

December 24, 1918 Grimké lead God's people in rejoicing on "the aims and objectives of the recently ended World War as well as its potential impact on the darker races of the world." One particular quote stands out to me.

"Thank God, it is over; and it is meet, and proper that we should rejoice, as we have been doing. On the afternoon and evening of the clay when the announcement was officially made by the President to both houses of Congress, what a note of gladness ran all through the city. In every possible way the people sought to express their joy white and black, rich and poor, high and low all classes, conditions, races, colors, had a part, in the Jubilation. For once there was no division or separation, but all seemed to be moved by one common sentiment, as all ought to be, in all matters of public interest.  We are all American citizens, and have an equal interest in the closing of this bloody conflict."

There's SO much more to be learned from Francis J. Grimké & you can't help but be courageously emboldened to serve God in every aspect of your life but this is just a profile. I'm going to end with this quote because it is a word in season for us today. 

"It is only what is written upon the soul of man that will survive the wreck of time."

#SDG

Reformation Profiles of African Americans #1 February 1, 2017

1. February 2017 17:10 by Edward L. Smith in   //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)
Reformation Profiles
 
Reformation Profiles of African Americans #1 February 1, 2017
Reformation theology can be explained within 10 specific principles resting upon One solid foundation. 5 Sola’s & TULIP on the Sovereignty of God.
Lemuel Haynes who was he?. Haynes was probably the first African American ordained by any mainstream Protestant Church in the United States. 
 
Haynes, was born the abandoned child of an African father and "a white woman of respectable ancestry," on July 18, 1753 in West Hartford, Connecticut. Lemuel is not the given name by his birth parents rather his name probably comes from the man from whose home he was adopted. Born in the home of Mr. Haynes “the child took his name with that of Lemuel which in Hebrew signifies “consecrated to God.” Mr. Haynes kept Lemuel for five months then bounded him out to a Deacon by the name of David Eose, of Granville, Massachusetts, a man described as having “singular piety”.
 
Early Years
With only a rudimentary formal education, Haynes developed a passion for books, especially the Bible and books on theology. As an adolescent, he frequently conducted services at the town parish, sometimes reading sermons of his own. According to his biographer it was said of Haynes that he kept “the Bible, Psalter, spelling-book, and perhaps a volume or two of sermons”. Haynes stated, “I was constantly inquiring after books, especially in theology. I was greatly pleased with the writings of Watts and Doddridge, and with Young’s Night thoughts. My good master encouraged me in the matter”.
 
In 1774, Haynes enlisted as a "Minuteman" in the local militia/army. During this time he wrote a lengthy ballad-sermon about the April, 1775 Battle of Lexington. In the title of the poem, he refers to himself as "Lemuel a young Mollato who obtained what little knowledge he possesses, by his own Application to Letters." Although the poem emphasized the conflict between slavery and freedom, it did not directly address black African slavery directly.
 
But Haynes did have a very strong opinion about it. “Nearly 150 years after his death, a manuscript written by Haynes around 1776 was discovered, in which he boldly stated "That an African... has an undeniable right to his Liberty." The treatise went on to condemn slavery as sin, and pointed out the irony of slaveowners fighting for their own liberty while denying it to others.”
 
Haynes Into the Ministry
Haynes call to the ministry was very evident and at a Congregational meeting house at Middle Granville Haynes labored preaching the Gospel with great zeal for five years. During these five years he preached at a time of “moral darkness with intemperance, profanity and infidelity rife. Strange doctrines intruded. Vice came blodly forward, but, like a rock, the young minister stood by his Lord and Faith”.
 
Haynes would go on and be encouraged to go into the ministry. In 1785, Haynes was officially ordained as a Congregational minister. Haynes served as pastor on three occasion after his ordination. “The first was with an all-white congregation in Torrington, Connecticut, where he left after two years due to the active prejudice of several members.”
 
His second call to pulpit ministry, from a mostly white church in Rutland, Vermont that had a few "poor Africans," lasted for 30 years. “During that time, Haynes developed an international reputation as a preacher and writer. In 1804, he received an honorary Master of Arts degree from Middlebury College, the first ever bestowed upon an African American. In 1801, he published a tract called "The Nature and Importance of True Republicanism..." which contained his only public statement on the subject of race or slavery.”
 
For the last eleven years of his life, Haynes ministered to a congregation in upstate New York. He died in 1833, at the age of 80.
 
 
One very interesting sermon preached by Haynes was called “Universal Salvation” from Genesis 3:4. This sermon was birth in controversy after Haynes was initially supposed to preach at another congregation but was asked not to come. Haynes responded very sternly and boldly. This episode in Haynes ministry is documented in a book called “An Entertaining Controversy”, by William Fay published in 1807. Let’s just say the sermon was a strong objection. Personally I found great encouragement in his bold stance.
 
I have been impacted by the ministry of Lemuel  Haynes who was regarded as “no ordinary man”. He had to be based on the call of God on his life. God’s hand was truly upon him.
 
#SDG

The Real Theology of Slave Owners

16. April 2016 11:28 by Edward L. Smith in   //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)

The Real Theology of Slave Owners

The God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.

Ephesians 1:17-18

 

Recently I received a YouTube video called, “The Remnants of a Slave Religion in today's African American Churches” (https://youtu.be/06mD6HZUgGY) that in my opinion was horrifically in error. The video was The Defining moment with host Brett Moss interviewing Bishop Keith Russell Lee who was at that time of the video a pastor and author. Bishop Lee was to give his perspective on the supposedly slave Christianity in the African American Churches. Lee shares a view that many people hold today. Lee also took the opportunity to lay some of the burden of this view at the feet of Calvinism as to say it played a roll in the oppression. 

I want to examine this video and the claims that it makes and seek to get to the root of exactly what was the “The Real Theology of Slave Owners”.
 
First, who is Bishop Keith Russell Lee? Bishop Lee is the former pastor of Destiny Church just outside of Chicago. He is also the author of, at least one book, “Power Faith and Living”. Lee also for a brief stent did a BlogTalk radio broadcast (http://www.blogtalkradio.com/krl). After doing a bit of research on Bishop Lee I began to realize why he held the bent he had in the video. Bishop Lee was a word of faith prosperity preacher which would explain his view towards Calvinism. After watching the video and listening to some Bishop Lee material I began to realize that the gentleman who sent me the video wasn’t seeking truth about Calvinism or the religious ideology of slave owners but searching for a opportunity to smear a systematic theology because of his ignorance and a opportunity to demonized it by falsely connecting it to the awful sin of the slave era. Let's search for the truth by examining this video. 
 
Before examining the content of the video itself there are two points of classification that I want to address first.
 
First, Bishop Lee inserts the famous and infamous Willie Lynch letter. It is said that in 1712 a slave owner named Willie Lynch wrote a letter to other slave owners on how to control their negro slaves. Sadly none of this is true. Well the letter does exist but written in 1712 by a man named Lynch is highly unlikely. According to Prof. Manu Ampim, “This is very curious because both free and enslaved African Americans  wrote and spoke about the tactics and practices of white slave masters.  Frederick Douglass, Nat Turner, Olaudah Equino, David Walker, Maria Stewart, Martin Delaney, Henry Highland Garnet, Richard Allen, Absolom Jones, Frances Harper, William Wells Brown, and Robert Purvis were African Americans who initiated various efforts to rise up against the slave system, yet none cited the alleged Lynch speech.  Also, there is not a single reference to the Lynch speech by any white abolitionists, including John Brown, William Lloyd Garrison, and Wendell Phillips.  Similarly, there has been no evidence found of slave masters or pro-slavery advocates referring to (not to mention utilizing) the specific divide and rule information given in the Lynch speech.”
 
This was a long and extended quote but a necessary one to point out why I think it is suspect on the part of Bishop Lee to use the Lynch letter knowing the story is a fraudulent story made up only to infuriate Blacks.
 
Second, What exactly was the religion of slave owners? Was it Christianity? Was it the Calvinistic view of Christianity? By the way I'm only going to say this once. Slavery is & was sin. It wasn’t just wrong it was sin. Now let's talk…
 
What did colonial whites believe? Well Puritan Cotton Mather, who, in his tract The Negro Christianized, pleaded with owners to treat their "servants" as men, not brutes: "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thy self. Man, thy Negro is thy neighbor." It is no secret that many Puritan’s owned slaves as were their practice from across the Atlantic. But please take note Mather called them servants not slaves. Mather also said to the slave owners that you ought to love the negro as yourself. Am I excusing slavery? ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! I'm simply making the point that these Puritan Calvinist were not promoting chattel slavery, beating and torturing as it was done I the south. 
Some slave owners also had a very skewed view. Many masters believed conversion would make slaves "saucy," since they would begin to think of themselves equal to whites. According to John Bragg, a Virginia minister, slave owners agreed that conversion would result in the slaves "being and becoming worse slaves when Christians." Some even believed "A slave is ten times worse when a Christian than in his state of paganism." What's my point? The slave owners didn't want them being Christians especially having a robust Calvinist view of Christianity. Why? They probably would rebel and demand freedom!
 
These slave owners also had some legal reasons not to desire African slaves to be Christians. You see there were some interesting legal complications as well. “Many masters in colonial America believed if a slave was baptized that, "according to the laws of the British nation, and the canons of the church," he must be freed. Colonial legislatures sought to clear up this matter, and by 1706 at least six had passed acts denying that baptism altered the condition of a slave "as to his bondage or freedom." It wasn't just economics but a twinge of Christian conscience that prompted the legislation. As Virginia's law put it, it was passed so that masters, "freed from this doubt, may more carefully endeavor the propagation of Christianity." So I would love to ask Bishop Lee and others why would slave owners introduce Calvinism to slaves knowing they might get saved and filled with the Spirit of God thus giving them freedom, spiritual freedom and physical freedom? This wasn’t Christianity at all.
 
I could continue showing errors of this thought process but I don't want to extend this too long. One final point is only to point out that many slave owners had their preachers for hire and these men weren't Calvinist or Christians. They simply gave the message the slave owners wanted them to give. Their message was a perversion of Christianity a different gospel if you will. Yet people are going to continue telling people this lie that slave masters introduce Calvinist Christianity to Africans to control them. It's a lie and prayerfully you won't believe it.
 
Now I've carved out some sections of this video I want to address. Let's begin I'll try to remain brief.
 
The Remnants of a Slave Religion in today's African American Churches. 
In my opinion as a summary thought this is the perversion of Christianity that was taught; 1) don't fight for justice, 2) be content as slaves, 3) be happy with salvation, 4) twisting Paul’s words of slaves being obedient should be followed because that's what God would want, & 5) don't have a concept of freedom…this life of slavery is your lot in life. This is neither Christianity nor a Calvinist view of Christianity. What they introduce to slaves was a perverted lie from Hell.
 
Bishop Lee for the first five minutes begins with this twisted view. At 3:45 mark Lee claims that slave masters introduced Christianity to their slaves. Well I've debunked that theory and have plenty more evidence. Often Jonathan Edwards is used as a example. Edwards did own slaves their no dispute there. Edwards however didn't see them as property but as servants to care after his wife, children, & land. I've never read where Edwards abused his slaves; that doesn’t excuse him but Edwards was a man of his day.
 
The hand picked preachers of slave owners preached a message that their was a good and gracious God and He wanted them to be content as slaves. That's not the message of Scripture that's the message of Satan.
 
Bishop Lee also suggested (4:30) their message was about “how evil and wicked they were. We are poor wretched sinners, our righteousness is as filthy rags”. (5:05) “We are sinners that's that Calvinist message.” This was driven and “hammered into slaves so that they would not believe they were heirs and joint heirs with Jesus Christ.” No lie would be good if not sprinkled with a little truth. This is ultimately a attack on the Calvinist doctrine of Total Depravity. Does the Bible teach the depravity of men? The Calvinist position is simple in that after Adam sinned he then produce “after his own kind". Every person produce from Adam and Eve were born sinners or as David wrote, Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me (Psalms 51:5). The prophet Jeremiah wrote, "The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9). Other texts as well make this point clear. What the slave owners preachers wouldn't do is, again, give the full gospel. They didn't included the grace aspect that yes you are sinners but Jesus came to forgive you of that sin and cleanse you of all unrighteousness. This is the Calvinist Gospel. I would hate to assume why Bishop Lee would bare false witness as he did.
 
Bishop Lee also gave a description of John Calvin. He called Calvin a conservative man, one who believe in the depravity of the human soul. Lee said Calvin believed that man's only cure was Jesus Christ (isn't that the Gospel message?) & then Lee allowed his true colors to show. Lee lamented that “Calvin over emphasized election (false), that only the elect would be saved (this much is true)”. This is a common ignorant false characterization of Calvin. If you read Calvin’s Institute's of Christian Religion, his sermons, or commentaries what you find is Calvin is very pastoral and devotional and yes also being doctrinal. Most people would just rather attack him then actually study his works. Lee also said that (8:45) “Everyone would continue to live not knowing if they were elect”. This to is incorrect. Calvin would have believed in what is called the preservation of the saints which teaches you Biblically the assurance of your faith. What Lee probably was making reference to was that Calvin did believe that no-one knew who the elect where and since no-one knows then Calvin taught you preach the Gospel to everyone and the elect will respond. Hopefully you see the difference.
 
I am already over spaced in this blog so I'll present one other false narrative. Bishop Lee was asked a question; (12:48) Q) How is God typically portrayed in the African American Churches today? His response, A) “As much as he was in the days of slavery. A angry God, a vengeful God, a judgment God, & a wrath filled God...Then their is he's a God of love.” I honestly believe Bishop Lee had no intentions of being fair about his assertions. What Lee is describing may be the perverted message that the slave preachers preached but it isn't the message within the Black Church today. If you preach the whole counsel of God your going to come across passages where God expresses His wrath, anger, & even vengeance but it’s always toward the wicked i.e. God is a righteous judge, And a God who has indignation every day. If a man does not repent, He will sharpen His sword; He has bent His bow and made it ready. (Psalms 7:11-12). But the Gospel also declares If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9). This is what the slave preachers didn't teach therefore they taught a different gospel and not true Christianity and definitely not Calvinism.
 
In conclusion it's interesting that Bishop Lee closed on the note of supply and demand. So I'm going to conclude with one of the must Calvinistic passages that teach Adam supplied sin and God demanded Jesus as the only propitiation for sin.
 
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned- for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.  But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. 
(Romans 5:12-15)
 
This is not the message that slave owners wanted slaves to hear but it is the Calvinist Gospel.
 
Blessings SDG
ELS

The Sovereignty of God

26. January 2016 09:11 by Edward L. Smith in   //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)

The Sovereignty of God

 

What is Reformed Theology? Reformed theology teaches a wide range of systematic beliefs. Those beliefs would include the Sovereignty of God, the Five Sola’s of the Reformation, and the Doctrines’ of Grace. In this brief posting I want to focus on the Sovereignty of God. We will focus on what the Scripture teaches and how do we apply this teaching in our practical everyday living especially some of histories most evil atrocities’. 

In the book, The Attributes of God, A. W. Pink said:

“The sovereignty of God may be defined as the exercise of His supremacy…Being infinitely elevated above the highest creature, He is the Most High, Lord of heaven and earth. Subject to none, influenced by none, absolutely independent; God does as He pleases, only as He pleases always as He pleases. None can thwart Him, none can hinder Him. So His own Word expressly declares: “My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure” (Isa. 46:10); “He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand” (Dan. 4:35). Divine sovereignty means that God is God in fact, as well as in name, that He is on the Throne of the universe, directing all things, working all things “after the counsel of His own will” (Eph. 1:11).” 

James Montgomery Boyce said:

“For most reformed people the chief and most distinctive article of the creed is God's sovereignty. Sovereignty means rule, and the sovereignty of God means that God rules over His creation with absolute power and authority. He determines what is going to happen, and it does happen. God is not alarmed, frustrated, or defeated by circumstances, by sin, or by the rebellion of His creatures.” 

It would be good now to see exactly what the Scriptures say:

2 Chronicles 20:6 and he said, “O LORD, the God of our fathers, are You not God in the heavens? And are You not ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in Your hand so that no one can stand against You.

Psalm 115:3 But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.

Proverbs 16:9 The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.

Isaiah 46:10 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’.

Daniel 4:35 “All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can [a]ward off His hand Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?

Ephesians 1:11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will.

Sovereignty is clearly defined as God having supreme authority, control, and power over all that has happened, is happening, and will happen in the future in all times across all history. Christians that hold to Reformed theology define the Scripture to teach that God is the ruler of the universe, God, has the right, the authority, and the power to govern all that happens and what has, is, or will happen being in accordance to His divine will. He has the right to achieve His purposes and has the power to bring about circumstances that dictate whatever He wills to come to pass. He has complete control of everything and there is nothing that is done that is not done by or allowed through His will. 

The Sovereignty of God weaves it’s way through the Scriptures from Genesis through Revelation but often times people can take one of two extremes in regard to this clear teaching. Some emphasize the sovereignty of God to the point that human beings are little more than robots simply doing what they have been sovereignly programmed to do. Others emphasize free will to the point of God not having complete control and/or knowledge of all things. Neither of these positions is biblical. The truth is that God does not violate our wills by choosing us and redeeming us. Rather, He changes our hearts so that our wills choose Him.

As to the respect of life trials and situation I’d like to share one last Scripture and one last historic event that some people have trouble reconciling. 

Acts 2:22-24

22 “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know— 23 this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. 24 But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.

No believing Christian has a issue with God delivering Jesus over based upon His “predetermined plan and foreknowledge”. I’ll even be more specific. No Black Christian has an issue with God delivering Jesus over based upon His predetermined plan and foreknowledge, we actually celebrate it!

Historically, even in light of all these Scriptures, Black Christians have a problem reconciling if God is as Sovereign as the Scriptures teach why slavery? Why would He allow these atrocity to take place?

First I would like to point out to Blacks, African Americans, and people of color all across the world. The history of slavery is an ancient evil committed by men since the beginning of time.  In ancient Rome for instance “the slave had, in principle, no rights, no legal status whatsoever; he was a chattel owned by his master” (Pierre Grimal, The Civilization of Rome). In the day of Rome a slave “could be owned and dealt with like any other piece of property. He was [completely] at the mercy of his owner, without rights” (Michael Grant, The World of Rome). We could also turn back the hands of time and even see that Pharaoh in Egypt also owned slaves. No one ethnicity throughout history has been excluded from this evil and it’s my prayer that Blacks, especially in America, will not be mentality enslaved by the evils of the past.

Where was God in the trans Atlantic slave trade or American chattel slavery? God was there right in the midst of it. God was doing what He always do working in the hearts of men and women in spite of any evils that may happen. The Word of God is clear, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD” (ISAIAH 55:8). We can speculate for all of eternity but the truth is even in slavery God was and is Sovereign. All that took place did so with the superintendence of God. One of the primary reasons that Blacks can relate so much with Biblical history is that the Scriptures teach that God is the God of those who are oppressed and their victor. God has delivered from the oppression of slavery and while evil still exist God is still Sovereign! It is that, that we put our trust in. 

 

SDG  

2016 Resolved Exploring the Grandeur of God

31. December 2015 19:06 by Edward L. Smith in   //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)

2016 Resolved

Exploring the Grandeur of God

 

Another year is gone and a New Year is upon us. This is the time of the year that some people make New Year's resolutions and it's also the same time that those who hate making new year promises mock those that do. I personally love making resolutions that drive me to a greater discipline in the up coming year.

 

I've made it a yearly discipline to read one of my church hero's every New Year’s Eve who is the epitome of discipline, Jonathan Edwards. Over a couple of years as a young man Edwards wrote what we call The Seventy Resolutions. Edwards read these Resolutions nearly everyday and they drove his life. This is why, in my opinion, making yearly resolutions is a great idea.

 

Some of Edwards Resolutions were:

Resolved: (1.) Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God’s glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriad’s of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever.

 

(4.) Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it.

 

(6.) Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.

 

(62.) Resolved, never to do anything but duty; and then according to Eph. 6:6-8, do it willingly and cheerfully as unto the Lord, and not to man; “knowing that whatever good thing any man doth, the same shall he receive of the Lord.” {June 25 and July 13, 1723.}

 

(16.) Resolved, never to speak evil of anyone, so that it shall tend to his dishonor, more or less, upon no account except for some real good.

 

(31.) Resolved, never to say anything at all against anybody, but when it is perfectly agreeable to the highest degree of Christian honor, and of love to mankind, agreeable to the lowest humility, and sense of my own faults and failings, and agreeable to the golden rule; often, when I have said anything against anyone, to bring it to, and try it strictly by the test of this Resolution.

 

This is just a few and I encourage you to read with me all seventy of his written resolutions and then make a few of your own. You can complete them. You can succeed. Edwards read these daily that they may be at the forefront of his mind and a guide for life.

 

Here is how Edwards reminded himself to stay focus upon the task:

(37). Resolved, to inquire every night, as I am going to bed, wherein I have been negligent, what sin I have committed, and wherein I have denied myself: also at the end of every week, month and year. {Dec. 22 and 26, 1722.}

 

(40.) Resolved, to inquire every night, before I go to bed, whether I have acted in the best way I possibly could, with respect to eating and drinking. {Jan. 7, 1723}.

(41.) Resolved, to ask myself at the end of every day, week, month and year, wherein I could possibly in any respect have done better. {Jan. 11, 1723}.

 

For me my Resolve is to engulf myself in the glorious Grandeur of God. I don't want to go higher in God but I want to go deeper in who He is. 

 

Grandeur is defined as splendor and impressiveness, especially of appearance or style: this should remind you of Isaiah 6. The glorious grandeur of God is magnificencient, it’s impressive, it’s displays the majesty and greatness of God. God was and is resplendent in His transcendent beauty. This shall be my drive in 2016, this shall be my passion.

 

I Resolve in 2016 to Exploring the Grandeur of God.

Resolved: One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,

To behold the beauty of the Lord And to meditate in His temple.

Psalms 27:4

Praise God with the Dance

7. September 2015 17:04 by Edward L. Smith in   //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)

Praise God with the Dance

Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship.  Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

Romans 12:1-2

 

Living in this modern era of Christianity can sometimes have its challenges. One of the challenges we face is worship. How do we as a Church worship God in the context of our modern era that will be acceptable worship to Him? It is going to be my goal to approach this subject first from a Biblical perspective, then a historical perspective, and finally a practical perspective.

 

It is my prayer that by the end of this post we can come to a Biblically historical God-Honoring, Christ-Centered, Gospel-Saturated view of what it means to “Praise God with the Dance”.

 

Biblical Perspective – Praise God with the Dance

Most people when it comes to studying a subject such as this will look into the Bible, find the word dance and come to a conclusion. Let’s explore this subject as deep as the tools I have will allow.

First off it should be noted that although you read the English word dance you should know that, that word has a Hebrew or Greek word it was translated from. While dance is used in our English translations it has been translated from 6 different Hebrew words and one Greek word.

 Hebrew: 1) H4234 Original: מחול mâchôl – 6 uses, 2) H4246Original: מחלה mechôlâh – 8 uses, 3) H2342Original: חילחוּל chûl chı̂yl – 58 uses, 4)H6452Original: פּסח pâsach – 7 uses, 5)H7540 Original: רקד râqad – 9 uses, &6) H3769 Original: כּרר kârar – 2 uses.

Greek:G3738 Original: ὀρχέομαι orcheomai – 4 uses.

It is clear that the usage is wide ranged but clearly depicts some form of jubilant celebration. What I have gathered from these definitions is that the dance we see in Scriptures was a skipping, leaping, and twirling, spontaneous exuberant burst of expression from the child of God. This distinction, in my opinion, is critical in our understanding and will be addressed shortly.

Here are two things that the Bible is clear on: 1) Dancing was used as a form of worship and 2) Dance was used in the worship of God in celebrating an occasion.

Historical Perspective – Praise God with the Dance

OK its clear that from the Old Testament through the New Testament dance was used especially during times of feast and celebration. So moving forward one thing must be noted is that during times of persecution there wouldn’t be much celebration. You don’t find dancing beyond a brief mentioning in the Gospel records. I conclude that the reason is during the unfolding of the Church in the book of Acts, the writings of James and Peter, and beyond into the first century persecution and scattering is at fault.

History proves that with the changing of the guard in Roman rule immorality became rampant and dance started to evolve into something more than the spontaneous acts of dancing out of an expression of worship. This downfall into immorality caused Christians to become cautious and breakaway from dancing. It became extremely difficult for the Church to differentiate the worldly aspect of dancing and purify the dance by ridding it from all traces of paganism. 

Another change that took place came during the time where dance became more liturgical & theatrical; it also became something of a structured order in worship services. Two early Church fathers Justin Martyr (A.D. 150) and Hippolytus (A.D. 200) describe joyful circular dances in the early church; dance was perceived as one of the 'heavenly joys and part of the adoration of the divinity by the angels and by the saved”. There is also evidence of dance integrated into the ritual and worship of the Church in the writings of Hippolytus (A.D. 215) and Gregory the Wonder-Worker (A.D. 213-270). Amazingly even with the disgrace and distain that came from dance’ new place in the theater, it still remained as a precious act of worship to Christians. It was clear that the original idea of the dance “was to bring glory and honor to God, and take the focus off the self.”

The challenges didn’t go away and as the holiness of dance was dissolving because of the outside influences of the Roman Empire, the early church leaders desired to save it by emphasizing the focus of the Christian dances to emphasizing the spiritual element within the dances. In a sermon on Palm Sunday A.D. 367, Epiphanius (AD 315-403) describes the festival's celebration in the following way:

“Rejoice in the highest, Daughter of Zion! Rejoice, be glad and leap boisterously thou all-embracing Church. For behold, once again the King approaches ... once again perform the choral dances ... leap wildly, ye Heavens; sing Hymns, ye Angels; ye who dwell in Zion, dance ring dances.”

 

He wasn’t alone:

Ambrose (AD 340-397) Bishop of Milan, “The Lord bids us dance, not merely with the circling movements of the body, but with the pious faith in him.”

 

Gregory of Nyssa (AD 335-394) described Jesus as the one and only choreographer and leader of dancers on earth and in the church.”

Even the early leaders of the Protestant Reformation supported dance in worship, who would have thought that?

Martin Luther (1525) wrote a carol for children entitled From Heaven High in which two stanzas support the role of song and dance in worship.

William Tyndale in a prologue to the New Testament wrote of the roles of joyous song and dance, about the joyous good news of Christianity.

In full discloser there were men of the Reformation who opposed dance also but these men knew the importance of dance as a sacred act which needed to be kept within the churches worship to God. I believe that God has created dancing for His worship, and I believe that it has been taken by the enemy and abused. So, how about some practical realizations about dance in worship?

Practical Perspective – Praise God with the Dance

I want to give some basic and practical things to consider when using dance in worship.

First and foremost why would anyone want to take the acts of the secular and profane and offer it as an act of worship to God? Can you read in Scripture where the people of God used acts of worship from the Canaanites to offer to God? How about the Jebusites or Moabites or any “ites” for that matter? NO! The worship of God was clearly descriptive throughout Scripture. The worship of God is exclusive to Him and Him alone.

 To be more specific doing new fad dances that the world does like the nae-nae or the whip are comparable to the Israelites taking Canaan practices and using them as acts of worship.

 Secondly I would say dance neither should accompany every song nor be part of every worship service. Not all songs move us to dance. Forcing ourselves to dance to such songs just for the sake of dancing is neither appropriate nor right.

 Third worshiping with the dance should be done while the whole congregation sings and instrumentalists play. Dancers should be part of a celebration that also includes worship leaders, singers, and instrumentalists. Dance, like playing an instrument or singing, can be inspired by God. The goal must be to keep all forms of worship centered upon God and not the aspect of worship. Worshiping God with the dance should never be entertainment during the gathering of the Church.

Conclusion: All of this is about a God who desires that we worship of Him from an obedient, broken, and contrite heart. Out of all the reasons to dance, the greatest one is because God loves us dancing for Him out of a pure heart. Worship is a heart issue. Out of the heart flows expression. The Psalmist speaks about such worship in Ps 149:4 “For the LORD takes delight in His people”. Therefore, we are to praise Him with the dance because it pleases Him. We are unable to gain any kind of merit through our works, our salvation is solely by grace through faith, and yet there is one thing that we can offer to God: our praise. And because it is something so precious to Him, wouldn’t we want to do it with all our heart, soul, mind and strength because He is worthy to be praised?

 

May God be honored and glorified through the Worship with the Dance.

SDG

 

Not On Our Watch: Stand with Detroit

22. July 2015 14:59 by Edward L. Smith in   //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness, who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Isaiah 5:20

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of preaching a sermon entitled “Living in a World where Wrong is Now Right” from Isaiah 5. Within that sermon I made the mention of the challenges that the people of Oklahoma are having at their state capital. There is a movement to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments and then erect a monument of a satanic Baphomet statue.

 

Then just days later I began to read in our local news that the same event was seeking to take place in Detroit. The believers in Detroit rallied together and placed pressure on the business to the point that they would not host the event any longer. Satan is persistent. The Satanic Temple of Detroit  still plans to unveil this Baphomet statue but won’t reveal it’s location until the time of the unveiling on July 25th. Believers in Detroit are also remaining persistent. They will gather at the old location and when the new location is unveiled they are going to load up ever car, van, and bus that they have and immediately go to the new location to protest this evil being launched on their city.

 

This is where the Isaiah text come into play because the Satanic Temple is actually portraying Satan as good instead of evil. They actually try to this bitter evil sweet. Watch this video and hear from a person who owns a Baphomet and give you a really detailed explanation here.

 

I want to give you some excerpts from their website: 

Ø  The Satanic Temple is a non-theistic religious organization dedicated to satanic practice and the promotion of satanic rights. We understand the Satanic figure as a symbol of man’s inherent nature, representative of the eternal rebel, enlightened inquiry and personal freedom rather than a supernatural deity or being.

 

Ø  It is our mission to facilitate communication and mobilization of politically aware Satanists, secularists, and advocates for individual liberty. We actively provide outreach and participate in public affairs where the issues might benefit from rational, satanic insights.

 

Ø  As an organized religion, we feel it is our function to actively provide outreach, to lead by example, and to participate in public affairs wheresoever the issues might benefit from rational, satanic insights. As Satanists, we all should be guided by our consciences to undertake noble pursuits guided by our individual wills. We believe that this is the hope of all mankind and the highest aspiration of humanity.

 

Ø  Satan is symbolic of the Eternal Rebel in opposition to arbitrary authority, forever defending personal sovereignty even in the face of insurmountable odds. Satan is an icon for the unbowed will of the relentless inquirer… the heretic who questions sacred laws and rejects all tyrannical impositions. 

 

Ø  The metaphorical Satanic construct is no more arbitrary to us than are the deeply held beliefs that we actively advocate for.

 

Did you notice how their desire is to make seem “normal”. They say Satan is symbolic, metaphorical, a group of secularist that are following their conscience, and being politically and community orientated.

 

What does the Bible say about Satan?

1)    You are of your father the Devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of liars. – John 8:44

 

2)    The accuser  of our brothers has been thrown out: the one who accuses them before our God day and night. – Revelation 12:10b

 

3)    In their case, the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers so they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. – 2 Corinthians 4:4

 

4)    According to the ruler who exercises authority over the lower heavens, the spirit now working in the disobedient. – Ephesians 2:2

 

5)    Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. – 1 Peter 5:8

 

These are some of the basic descriptions that the Bible gives. Here is the one description that the new Satanist want to separate themselves from.

 

Isaiah 14: 9 – 17

Sheol below is eager to greet your coming. He stirs up the spirits of the departed for you — all the rulers  of the earth. He makes all the kings of the nations rise from their thrones. They all respond to you, saying: “You too have become as weak as we are; you have become like us! Your splendor has been brought down to Sheol, along with the music of your harps. Maggots are spread out under you, and worms cover you.” Shining morning star, how you have fallen from the heavens! You destroyer of nations, you have been cut down to the ground. You said to yourself: “I will ascend to the heavens; I will set up my throne above the stars of God. I will sit on the mount of the gods’ assembly, in the remotest parts of the North.   I will ascend above the highest clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” But you will be brought down to Sheol into the deepest regions of the Pit. Those who see you will stare at you; they will look closely at you: “Is this the man who caused the earth to tremble, who shook the kingdoms, who turned the world into a wilderness, who destroyed its cities and would not release the prisoners to return home? ”

 

Ezekiel 28: 11 – 19

The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, lament  for the king of Tyre and say to him: This is what the Lord God says: You were the seal  of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden,  the garden of God. Every kind of precious stone covered you: carnelian, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, turquoise  and emerald. Your mountings and settings were crafted in gold; they were prepared on the day you were created. You were an anointed guardian cherub, for  I had appointed you. You were on the holy mountain of God; you walked among the fiery stones. From the day you were created you were blameless in your ways until wickedness was found in you. Through the abundance of your trade, you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I expelled you in disgrace from the mountain of God, and banished you, guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones. Your heart became proud because of your beauty; For the sake of your splendor you corrupted your wisdom. So I threw you down to the earth; I made you a spectacle before kings. You profaned your sanctuaries by the magnitude of your iniquities in your dishonest trade. So I made fire come from within you, and it consumed you. I reduced you to ashes on the ground in the sight of everyone watching you. All those who know you among the nations are appalled at you. You have become an object of horror and will never exist again.”

 

This is God’s Word on who Satan is and no matter how palatable a group of people around the country want to make Satan not evil or harmless he isn’t. Satan desires to unleash evil in Detroit and cities around the nation. Join in the battle and  stand with our brothers and sisters. Details are in the picture. If you can’t be there in person be there in prayer.

 

 

SDG

Responding to Leighton Flowers Assurance Claims

25. June 2015 21:42 by Edward L. Smith in   //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)
The Assurance of Salvation: And why a consistent Calvinist can’t have it.
Responding to Leighton Flowers
 
I recently listen to a YouTube video produce by Leighton Flowers called “The Assurance of Salvation: And why a consistent Calvinist can’t have it.” Leighton Flowers is a former Calvinist who is passionate about warning others from the errors of Calvinism and even seeking to help others come out of what he believes is a bad systematic theology. 
 
After listening to the video and trying to give it a honest chance at understanding why Leighton Flowers believes that a Calvinist can’t have a assurance of their salvation I was honestly baffled. I even commented on his Facebook page seeking clarity. Leighton replied and we talked back and forth yet I still was confused. 
 
My confusion came because I believe I have a fair understanding of what a Calvinist believe about salvation and having a assurance of that very salvation. Today, June 25, 2015, Leighton actually did a brief podcast and blog post trying to explain himself even further because it was a bit confusing. In this post Leighton says:
 
We must understand that our assurance ultimately rests on three main factors:
 
1.The Sincerity of your Commitment
2.The Genuineness of your Experiences
3.The Trustworthiness of God
 
These three main factors is what he uses to make the claim that Calvinist can’t have real assurance. He explains very thoroughly through his personal experience, testimony, and some insightful analogies. He drills his theory home by saying, “This finally point is why I believe Calvinism cannot logically bring assurance to those who are consistent within it’s systematic…It is a purely logical argument based upon the reality inherent within the deterministic framework.” 
 
This is where I have come to understand where Leighton is coming from. At first I didn’t make the connection because I was focused on what Calvinist acutally teach and preach on the Assurance of Salvation when Leighton was really attacking, as he calls it, the deterministic framework of Calvinism. If one does not know what that means it basically means that a Calvinist believes that God causes all things good or bad. Leighton actually explains it this way, “Calvinists affirm that there are people who sincerely believe they will be saved, but in reality are self-deceived.” See Leighton mixes together determinism, salvation, and the self-deceived and then gives a quote from well known Calvinist John Piper that said, “You can embrace a system of theology and not even be born again”.  He goes on to explain that Calvinist have “a worldview where God determines whatsoever comes to pass, as the Calvinistic scholars affirm, it must be said that those who are self-deceived are such ultimately because God has so determined it. If you happen to be one of the individuals who God has destined to remain in self-deception, falsely believing that you are saved when in actuality you are not, then you could not know this fact until after you were condemned.”
 
So see IF God determines all things in the Calvinist system of theology and God can also cause the self-deceiving of a person then therefore a Calvinist can have a self-deceived salvation with no real assurance of their faith. 
 
Leighton concludes with what what I think is a remarkable view of Calvinism. He says, “the Calvinistic system affirms that God is willing to unchangeably decree and use self-deceived individuals to be objects of divine wrath in order to bring Himself more glory, it is impossible for any consistent Calvinist to be certain that he or she is not one chosen for this ignoble purposes. Believing that you have committed yourself to Christ and have had experiences with him in relationship means nothing if He is not trustworthy toward humanity in general. And because He is proven to be able and willing to decree for others to sincerely believe they are saved, when they really are not, there can be no assurance He is not doing the same with you. There is no way for a consistent Calvinist to know if he has been chosen for self-deception or true salvation.”
 
I say WOW!!! What I believe he does here is really take a bunch of Calvinistic ideas and makes a Mash Potato Theology with it. I personally disagree and believe that Leighton is dead wrong. Here’s my reasons why:
 
First, I believe if the idea is to say that Calvinist systematic theology can’t give assurance why not prove it based on what Calvinist actually teach concerning salvation and assurance of salvation.
 
Secondly, Calvinism is all about Creeds and Confession. Why not quote from the Westminister Catechism, Heidelberg Catechism, or even the 1689 London Baptist and prove from their sources that they cannot have a real assurance. 
 
Thirdly, Calvinism is all about the Scriptures (one thing Leighton’s view leaves out) i.e. Sola Scriputra. In explaining this view Leighton doesn’t actually use any Scripture to make his point. This in my opinion is a wee bit dishonest.
 
Leighton Flowers really wasn’t focusing on assurance but really focusing on his Mash Potato view of Calvinistic determinationism. 
 
I want to try to give a brief response and answer.
 
In the Calvinist system of theology only the elect will go to heaven according to Scripture. In Scripture are there any examples where God in His sovereignty calls a person to self-deception? Is there in Scripture any historical narrative where God deceives period? No, No, No there isn’t. I honestly don’t know or understand where Leighton Flowers gets his Calvinism from. I just simply must say that Leighton’s view is just all wrong. I won’t try to counter what he has said because how do you counter that which is just simply wrong from the beginning. Remember the video isn’t about assurance it’s really about determinism. Leighton seems to be a person who actually doesn’t like verses such as “Our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases” (Psalm 115:3). That implies that God determines, God saves who He wants, and God does what He wants because He is God.
 
Lastly, Leighton Flowers view of Calvinism is only logical in the vacuum that he creates. I was taught that if a person has to misrepresent your view in order to prove you wrong it’s because they actually have no real defence to your position. Honestly, that really sums up Leighton Flowers. Leighton is so bent on “exposing” Calvinism for what he believes it is that only in his mind is it what he says it is. 
 
Here's my challenge to Leighton Flowers; if you believe that there is no real assurance of salvation in the Calvinistic system of theology then point that out in Calvinistic theology on salvation and assurance the way they actually teach it. If you can’t then don’t falsify Calvinism just so you have something to tear down. 
 
 
Blessing SDG

Keeping the Lord's Commandments

16. June 2015 20:47 by Edward L. Smith in   //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)

Keeping the Lord's Commandments

 Image result for god's law

"If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”

John 14:15

 

  

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.

1 John 5: 2 & 3

I was ask what does it mean to keep God’s commandments. I must admit that as a follower of Jesus Christ I don’t focus on “keeping” God’s commandments because I focus on following Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the Son of God born of a virgin that He might be sinless, that He might be born under the law, to keep the very law that you and I broke. The perfect, sinless, Son of God has perfectly met ALL the requirements of God’s law, and is ready to give His righteousness to us that we would have a perfect standing before God. He went to a cross; there He was lifted up to die. There upon that cross, the sins of everyone who would believe in Him were transferred to Him. And Him who knew no sin God made to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God. That great exchange of the cross—the worst about me laid upon Him, the best about Him now to be laid upon me as He shed His blood upon that cross.

He reconciled sinful me to holy God so why would I focus on seeking to keep commandments that I couldn't keep from the beginning.

Yet I still want to explore what it means to Keep the Lord’s Commandments. 

One day Jesus was ask a question by a lawyer, "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" (Matthew 22:36). Jesus responded by saying, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets. (37-40)"

Jesus sums up the entirety of the law in two commandments and while that technically makes keeping God’s commandments easier because I just have two to focus on, lets be honest, I still couldn't keep them two. 

So let’s first understand the law of God and then I’ll explain how a follower of Jesus Christ keep’s the Law. 

 

What is the Law of God?

Being confessional let’s look at what the London Baptist Confession says about: What is the the Law of God?

1. God gave to Adam a law of universal obedience written in his heart, and a particular precept of not eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil; by which he bound him and all his posterity to personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience; promised life upon the fulfilling, and threatened death upon the breach of it, and endued him with power and ability to keep it. ( Genesis 1:27; Ecclesiastes 7:29; Romans 10:5; Galatians 3:10, 12 )

2. The same law that was first written in the heart of man continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness after the fall, and was delivered by God upon Mount Sinai, in ten commandments, and written in two tables, the four first containing our duty towards God, and the other six, our duty to man. ( Romans 2:14, 15; Deuteronomy 10:4 )

3. Besides this law, commonly called moral, God was pleased to give to the people of Israel ceremonial laws, containing several typical ordinances, partly of worship, prefiguring Christ, his graces, actions, sufferings, and benefits; and partly holding forth divers instructions of moral duties, all which ceremonial laws being appointed only to the time of reformation, are, by Jesus Christ the true Messiah and only law-giver, who was furnished with power from the Father for that end abrogated and taken away. ( Hebrews 10:1; Colossians 2:17; 1 Corinthians 5:7; Colossians 2:14, 16, 17; Ephesians 2:14, 16 )

4. To them also he gave sundry judicial laws, which expired together with the state of that people, not obliging any now by virtue of that institution; their general equity only being of moral use. ( 1 Corinthians 9:8-10 )

5. The moral law doth for ever bind all, as well justified persons as others, to the obedience thereof, and that not only in regard of the matter contained in it, but also in respect of the authority of God the Creator, who gave it; neither doth Christ in the Gospel any way dissolve, but much strengthen this obligation. ( Romans 13:8-10; James 2:8, 10-12; James 2:10, 11; Matthew 5:17-19; Romans 3:31 ) 

Notice the LBC breaks God’s law down into three categories. 

1) Ceremonial laws 

2) Sundry judicial laws 

3) Moral laws

Categories 1 & 2, according to the LBC, are done away with because Israel is no longer a theocratic nation and because Jesus has fullfilled all the ceremonial types and shadows that prefigured Him. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes (Romans 10:4).

Thirdly however the moral law of God is forever binding for all those who believe. The LBC goes on to say about keeping the moral law of God. 

6. Although true believers be not under the law as a covenant of works, to be thereby justified or condemned, yet it is of great use to them as well as to others, in that as a rule of life, informing them of the will of God and their duty, it directs and binds them to walk accordingly; discovering also the sinful pollutions of their natures, hearts, and lives, so as examining themselves thereby, they may come to further conviction of, humiliation for, and hatred against, sin; together with a clearer sight of the need they have of Christ and the perfection of his obedience; it is likewise of use to the regenerate to restrain their corruptions, in that it forbids sin; and the threatenings of it serve to shew what even their sins deserve, and what afflictions in this life they may expect for them, although freed from the curse and unallayed rigour thereof. The promises of it likewise shew them God's approbation of obedience, and what blessings they may expect upon the performance thereof, though not as due to them by the law as a covenant of works; so as man's doing good and refraining from evil, because the law encourageth to the one and deterreth from the other, is no evidence of his being under the law and not under grace. ( Romans 6:14; Galatians 2:16; Romans 8:1; Romans 10:4; Romans 3:20; Romans 7:7, etc; Romans 6:12-14; 1 Peter 3:8-13)

I love how the LBC conculdes it’s teaching of God’s Law. (7). Neither are the aforementioned uses of the law contrary to the grace of the Gospel, but do sweetly comply with it, the Spirit of Christ subduing and enabling the will of man to do that freely and cheerfully which the will of God, revealed in the law, requireth to be done. ( Galatians 3:21; Ezekiel 36:27).

 

How Does a Follower of Jesus Christ Keep’s the Law

A follower of Jesus Christ needs only ot focus on two key things. 1) Jesus is the end of the Law and 2) Jesus kept the law perfectly. If I follow Jesus then what aspect of God’s law am I not keeping? That’s what most people don’t understand and over complicate the believers walk. I said earlier that I don’t focus on keeping God’s law because I focus on following the One who kept it perfectly. 

There are many who wants to get into the very details and literally put the shackles of the law on believers. So what about the dietary food laws? The purpose of the food laws was to make the Israelites distinct from all other nations. After this purpose had ended, Jesus declared all foods clean (Mark 7:19). God gave the apostle Peter a vision in which He declared that formerly unclean animals could be eaten: “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean” (Acts 10:15). When Jesus died on the cross, He fulfilled the Old Testament law (Romans 10:4;Galatians 3:24-26;Ephesians 2:15). This includes the laws regarding clean and unclean foods. This would also apply ceremonial feast days and Sabbath Days. As the confession states they are fulfilled in Christ Jesus.

You have a choice to either try following a law you can't keep or follow or follow the law giver. Will you follow the Law giver who kept the law perfectly? If so then you likewise are in fact Keeping the Lord’s Commandments. 

I leave you with these words from our Savior. 

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.  I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.  If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.  If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.  Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.  If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love.

John 15: 4 – 10 

 

Blessings SDG

About Edward L. Smith

My ministry philosophy would consist of these essentials—a High View of God, the absolute authority of Scripture, Expository Preaching, Sound Doctrine, Personal Holiness, and a Biblical view of spiritual authority. All ministries must be God-Honoring, Christ-Centered, & Gospel Saturated. (1 Corinthians 10:31)

 

Month List