Do You Know What Your Missionaries Actually Teach?

I read this earlier today and could not agree any more.  My wife is Peruvian by birth and her parents were missionaries in Huancayo, Peru for many years, so I have a personal connection to the country and can relate to the following article, which can be found here.

Stop sending prosperity-preaching missionaries to the jungles of Peru. They’re killing the villages here. Your missionaries are spending tens of thousands of dollars, traveling across land and sea, invading and settling into new cultures, and it’s all for nothing. They’re doing more harm than good.

Your short-term and long-term missionaries are bringing death to Peru in the form of the prosperity gospel and word of faith teachings. Men and women are coming down here and telling these people that they’re poor because of sin and doubt. They’re telling the people to speak positive and claim success and health. These missionaries are telling people that they can be rich and live like the patriarchs of the Bible, blessed by the hand of God because of their faith and unshakable holiness.

Do you know how these people are living? They’re drinking river water that is forty percent mud and one hundred percent laden with parasites. They’re living on bananas and roots. It’s a two-day boat ride to the nearest doctor, and the great majority of these people can’t afford boat tickets. Nor can they afford the doctor visit if they could manage to get there. These people have Bibles that they don’t understand because many of them can’t read, and they are isolated from anything that even remotely resembles theological training.

And here you are, Deacon of Missions, and you’ve just agreed to sponsor missionary “X.” Have you talked with him about where he stands doctrinally? Does he believe the prosperity gospel? Is he sympathetic to it? Is he able to rightly divide the word of truth? Is he one approved by a local church that really believes in 2 Timothy 2:15? This person is about to travel the world to make a disciple. Do you know if that’s going to be a good thing, or something to be mourned (Matt 23:15)?

This guy has a great slideshow presentation, a firm handshake, and he can hold the room like a professional. You decide to help him get to the jungles of Peru. As soon as his boots hit the ground he’s doing a whole bunch of stuff that will look great in his newsletters. Toys for the kids. A new short-term missions team is coming down every month. Buildings are being built, Bibles are being given away, and the slide show reel is growing every day.

Oh, by the way, he’s preaching a false gospel. He’s hurting people eternally. He’s doing all kinds of cool, fun, and really Christian stuff for the few hundred people living in this village. But he’s hurting them. In eternal perspective, he is guiding them along the path to nothing but pain and sadness. And he’s able to do it because you send him a big fat check every month. You’re responsible.

Of course, it’s not all your fault, but you are responsible for what you do with your money. Stewardship is the word typically used here. You are accountable for the way you spend that money. You pool those resources, and you are using it to send a false prophet to the jungles of Peru. Or to the caves of Pakistan. Or to the desserts of western Africa.

America is exporting a false gospel that is putting people on the A Train to an eternity of suffering, and you are part of the problem. Stop it. Stop sending wolves in sheep’s clothing. Stop supporting them. Exercise discernment. You’ve supported over two hundred missionaries in the last fourteen years? Great! But what if fifty of them have been ravaging the people you sent them to?

Of course, many churches are careful and discerning about which missionaries they support. I’m grateful for them and I pray God would raise up many more. If that’s your church, pray that God would keep you vigilant. And pray that your sister churches would have the courage and conviction to send prosperity-preaching missionaries to the bench instead of the field.

This isn’t hypothetical. I’ve seen it. In my short time here in the jungles of Peru, I have seen case after case of “Who told this guy he could be a missionary?” I’ve seen the people hurt. I’ve seen the churches hurt. I’ve seen the smiles turn to frowns and the tears of joy turn into tears of pain. I’ve had to rebuke and fight to crowd out the false gospel with the true and beautiful one. I never imagined that our team’s greatest struggle would be fighting to undo all the damage done by other missionaries.

To be honest, “Jesus never promised to make us rich, he promised us he would save us from our sin, and that’s enough!” doesn’t really have the same ring to it. It’s hard to get people to rally around that after they’ve been sold a stadium worth of fool’s gold.

Maybe you’re sitting there with your arms crossed, feeling assured that I’m not talking to you. Your church is reformed. It’s gotta be “those guys” who are responsible for this, right?

Wrong. It’s not just mainline or Pentecostal or word-of-faith or evangellyfish churches that are responsible for this. It’s reformed churches, too. To borrow something from one of my teammates: “That church is reformed, but many of their members feel just as comfortable listening to Joel Osteen as to John MacArthur.” It’s not just “them.” Reformed churches are allowing these teachings to exist within their own four walls, and they are also supporting missionaries who believe and teach such things.

Missions exists because we want to see people eternally happy in the presence of God forever. Let that be your guiding light. Are the people you support working for that? Are they going to help people be eternally happy in Christ? If not, let me encourage you to gently and humbly refuse to support them. Remember, your faithfulness to the Great Commission will not be measured by dollars spent, Bibles given, or hands raised at an altar call. The measure of faithfulness will be an eternal one.

The gospel is beautiful, brothers. It’s the only hope any of us have. Please treat it that way. Love it, protect it, and guard it. And for the love of all things good and holy, please stop sending missionaries to my backyard if they don’t.

Round Up

Why Don’t Christians Care That They Sin? – A great question, and an even better answer from Alistair Begg and R.C. Sproul.

Reading The Bible Like Jesus – Reading the Bible is difficult work. Or at least it can be if we intend to do more than simply read it for enjoyment or duty.

Why Aren’t Christians Leaders More Discerning? – Right now in this day, and it’s been this way for a long time through this twentieth century, THE biggest problem in the church is its inability and unwillingness to distinguish true Christians from false. It’s…it’s literally killing the church.

Expelling Worldliness With A New Affection – The love of the world and the love of the Father cannot dwell together in the same heart. But the love of the world can be driven out only by the love of the Father.

Write In Your Bible

I read the following article by Jonathan Parnell this morning and it really struck home with me.  I have a Bible that is not quite 3 years old and there are notes and underlines in it on most of the pages.  My wife looked at it the other day and asked me how I could even read some of the notes because they are printed in the margins even smaller than the actual text of the Bible.  I will admit that I have reached the age where “grandpa” glasses come in quite handy not only to read, but to print in the margins such small type.  Most of the notes in my Bible are notes for myself, but the following talks about leaving notes in your Bible that are a legacy to your children and I intend to start doing this.

Here is the article:

Dads, Write in Your Bible

This is high-strategy time. As one year gives way to the next, many of us are gearing up for a fresh start on our Bible reading plan — and especially if you’re a dad.

It’s no secret that the word of God and prayer are a personal means of grace that spill over for the good of those around us. And how much more for a patriarch? We read the Bible not just for ourselves, but for our families, for our friends, for our community. We know that God doesn’t transform his people into dead-ends, but into rivers of living water, and therefore, deciding on a route and digging in on that resolve has more in view than our own souls.

And this year, as you settle your plans, here’s another aspect to consider.

Dads, write in your Bible.

Real, Slow Writing

Now I don’t mean to merely highlight and jot down some cross-references, or even scribble some observations without any readers in mind. The initiative here is to write — and to write to your children. This means to get a new Bible with margins and walk from Genesis to Revelation, sketching devotional insights and prayers for your kids, that you will then give to them one day.

It will probably take you at least ten years.

So I just lost some of you. Ten years is a long time in a world of quick content. It can be addicting, I know. The fast return of ego metrics on the simplest tweet doesn’t exactly push us to burrow down in a project that only a few will read years in the future. But if you’re still reading, this might be for you.

But what’s the point?

The Apostolic Inspiration

Peter writes as a dying man in his second letter. He knows his end is drawing near, and therefore his words seem to have an increased vigor. He starts the letter by commending God’s power and promises sufficient to provide everything we need for our relationship with him and the character it effects. And then, in verse 12, he tells us his intent.

Peter wants to remind us (2 Peter 1:12). He figures that as long as he is alive on earth, he should “stir [us] up by way of reminder” (2 Peter 1:13). And in fact, precisely because he knows he will soon die, he says, “I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things” (2 Peter 1:15).

What is his “every effort” to be made? What is he doing in hopes of reminding the church long after he’s gone? He writes.

News Worth Reminding

We know Peter’s effort involves many things off the page as well, but certainly it includes his writing. He knows what he wants the church to know, and he puts it on paper.

And though the mass of his influence is incomparable to ours, we have children who care about what we think. Do we have anything we’d like them to recall? To know? Of course they won’t be reading it centuries from now, but there’s a good chance they will read it, and that we can work now to remind them of a few things even after we’re gone.

And undoubtedly, the main thing we want to leave them is the gospel — the glory of Jesus in the word of God.

Dream of the Impact

Speaking specifically now to the dads who are part of this “great awakening to the glory of God’s sovereign grace” — dads who might call themselves that kind of Calvinist — what better could we leave the next generation than the Bible infused with the scribbles of our affectionate prayers?

Can you imagine 30 or more years from now that hundreds of Christians will have Bibles given to them from their dads — Bibles saturated with the extra ink of love from the depths of their dad’s heart? That they can open these Bibles to read Philippians 1 and see a meditation in the margins addressed to them?

What kind of impact could something like this have overall if a bunch of dads did this? Or the real question is: what kind of impact might you have on your children if you did this? Most of us are not remarkable and won’t do anything awesome. But God has made us fathers, and our calling to this role is irreplaceable. As you pray for your children, write it down for them. As you are blown away by the message of Colossians, write it down for them. As you see more of Jesus in the Psalms, write it down for them. And then one day, give it to them.

To the Practicals

If this is something you’re considering, here are a few steps to get you started.

1. Choose the Bible.

I recommend getting a new Bible without any marks. There are a couple options out there that work great for this sort of project, such as the ESV Journaling Bible or the ESV wide-margin from Cambridge.

2. Make your plan.

This is one idea, moldable from simple to complex for whatever fits you best. You might want to do only highlighting and underlining, with occasional prayers in the margins or the back. Or you might want to write a whole devotional commentary, filling up all the space you can with meditations and application. Or you might even do something only faintly related to either of these. But whichever you do, decide up front and keep it as consistent as possible.

3. Settle your details.

Figure out things like highlighter colors, pen points, index, etc. For instance, you might decide to keep it to three simple colors: yellow for importance, pink for repeated content within a specific book, and sky blue for inter-textual allusions. Remember that these colors vary among brands. If possible, stick with one type like this. For pens, you might decide to use a black Micron 005 for margin notes and a blue one for underlining. This archival ink is waterproof and never fades. (And don’t forget a ruler for those underlines.)

4. Pick your time.

Think through when you are going to journal in this Bible. Maybe it will become part of your daily Bible reading. Maybe you’ll dip into it a couple times a week. Maybe you’ll fluctuate between an intensive season and taking a routine break. Don’t forget that this is a project for the long haul. There’s no need to rush it. What matters most is that through God’s word you are believing his gospel and enjoying him — that is, remembering what you want to remind your children.

The original article can be found here.

Imperatives

Imperatives (Commands) only demonstrate man’s duty, not his ability. You might as well say that God’s command to love him with all our heart is possible since God commands it… But the Bible teaches us something very different. Paul says after the fall the purpose of the commands is not to tell us our ability, but to to reveal our inability, our sin. “Through the law comes knowledge of sin. (Rom 3:19, 20)

Repent and believe the gospel is man’s duty, his responsibility. He must believe in Jesus Christ to be justified. The weight of the command to believe must be impressed upon all men (Acts 17:30; 1 John 3:23). But again, the command to believe is no easier to do than the command to love God with all our heart. As Jesus himself declares, no one will believe APART FROM the grace of God in Jesus Christ, as we are united to Him by the Spirit (John 6:63, 65; 37).

The original post of this can be found here.

The Importance of the Word of God

dusty-bible-600x345I have read two blog post recently that have really driven home the fact that the Word of God (the Bible), seems to have fallen on hard times lately.  This blog post was written almost 4 years ago and this blog post was written a week ago.  The Word of God is God’s revelation of Himself to us, and since that is the case, then we who call upon the name of the God should dig into the Word, we should cherish every word that is written in it, and should surround ourselves with people who hold to it’s supremacy.

Monday Roundup

I ran across several intriguing articles today and thought I’d share them.  The first one is rather timely in that my thoughts have centered much on a more simplistic life.  It is a long read, but well worth the effort.

Cereal Choice?  Hermeneutics and a High View of the Bible – The grocery store cereal aisle has become a common metaphor for distinguishing the West from the rest of the world.

Jesus is Not Your Sin Manager – Jesus did not die to manage our sin. He died to kill it.

Southern Baptist Churches are Shrinking – While this article deals with the SBC, I think it could easily apply to many denominations.

Formation of the Canon of Scripture – Links, links and more links to resources dealing with the formation of our Bible.

Six Benefits of Ordinary Daily Devotions

From the DesiringGod website:

Private devotions aren’t magic. We know that (for the most part).

But still, we can be tempted to think that if we just figure out the secret formula — the right mixture of Bible meditation and prayer — we will experience euphoric moments of rapturous communion with the Lord. And if that doesn’t happen, our formula must be wrong.

The danger of this misconception is that it can produce chronic disappointment and discouragement. Cynicism sets in and we give up or whip through them to alleviate guilt because devotions don’t seem to work for us.

Our longing for intimate communion with God is God-given. It’s a good thing to desire, ask for, and pursue. The Spirit does give us wonderful occasional tastes. And this longing will be satisfied to overflowing some day (Psalm 16:11).

Read the rest here.

Arthur W. Pink’s Bible Study Method

A.W. Pink image small

“In my early years I assiduously followed this threefold course: first, I read through the entire Bible three times a year (eight chapters in the Old Testament, and two in the New Testament daily.) I steadily persevered in this for ten years, in order to familiarize myself with its contents, which can only be done by consecutive reading. Second, I studied a portion of the Bible each week, concentrating for ten minutes (or more) each day on the same passage, pondering the order of it, the connection between each statement, seeking a definition of the important terms in it, looking up all the marginal references, being on the look-out for its typical significance. Third, I meditated on one verse each day; writing it out on a slip of paper in the morning, memorizing it, consulting it at odd moments through the day; pondering separately each word in it, asking God to open for me its spiritual meaning and to write it on my heart. The verse was my food for that day, meditation standing to reading as mastication does to eating.

The more some such method as the above be followed out, the more shall we be able to say, ‘thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path’ [Ps 119:105].”

– from Letters of A.W. Pink.