Lifeway Peddling Gay-Affirming Prosperity Preacher For Profit

Update: Lifeway Peddling Gay-Affirming Prosperity Preacher For Profit

October 26, 2015


Remember the large kerfuffle that started last year involving Lifeway, the media retail branch of the Southern Baptist Convention, and their peddling of heretical materials for profit? It all began when Pulpit & Pen confronted Ed Stetzer, Executive Director of Lifeway Research about Lifeway’s promotion of Heaven Tourism books and other heretical materials in their retail outlets. Stetzer’s response was to brush off the complaints and counter attack with ad-hominems while ignoring the issue. This sparked a widespread movement, known as #the15 on Twitter, which after much investigation and uncovering of evidence of wrongdoing by Lifeway’s leadership, eventually led to Lifeway removing Heaven tourism books for good.

However, Stetzer and Lifeway refused to acknowledge those who confronted him, even after major news media outlets covered the issue. They brushed it off as though they had already planned to do so anyways. In fact, after pulling the Heaven tourism books, Lifeway came out with the following statement,

Too often in the past we have focused on what we should not have carried in the store. We will focus on what weshould carry.

And you can bet they’ve stuck to their promise.

Brian Houston is the senior pastor of Hillsong Church, a worldwide multisite Pentecostal megachurch based out of Sydney Australia that has locations in several countries around the world, including New York City, Los Angeles California, and London, England. Brian Houston has recently been shown to be a gay-affirming pastor who is more than willing to compromise the Gospel to make homosexuals feel comfortable in his churches. In fact, he even came up with a list of rules for his preaching pastors that included “leaving people feeling better about themselves than when they came in,” and “transitioning easily into altar calls.”

Dr. Albert Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has said about Hillsong,

[Hillsong is] a prosperity movement for the millennials, in which the polyester and middle-class associations of Oral Roberts have given way to ripped jeans and sophisticated rock music…What has made Hillsong distinctive is a minimization of the actual content of the Gospel, and a far more diffuse presentation of spirituality.

But that doesn’t stop Lifeway from selling Brian Houston’s books. So what could Southern Baptists possibly have to gain by promoting books by a known gay-affirming, prosperity preaching pastor?


Lifeway has been all about the money for quite some time. They aren’t interested in making sure their customers are receiving materials that will promote sound doctrine and a healthy Christian walk. If they were, they wouldn’t be peddling Brian Houston,Christine Caine, T.D. Jakes, Sara Young, Beth Moore, and many others, including Roman Catholic mystics.

Brian Houston’s book, Live Love Lead, subtitled Your Best is Yet to Come (sound familiar), is his most popular book being pushed at Lifeway. Remember, Brian Houston is the pastor that said he was “surprised” that the two sodomites, Reed Kelly, and Josh Canfield announced they were getting married even though they had been living open, homosexual lifestyles for quite some time (also see here). This is the pastor who doesn’t have a sound theological definition of the Trinity. This the pastor that invites people like Joseph Prince and Rick Warren to promote mysticism and extrabiblical revelation at his Conference in Sydney. And don’t forget, this is the pastor that has an ordained female associate pastor, one who practices pagan impartationat that, that regularly preaches to his congregations.

And Lifeway promotes and sells his books.

How many more people are going to have to be led astray through the promotion of this gay-affirming prosperity pastor at Lifeway before Southern Baptists get fed up enough about it to do something?



The Federal Vision

The Federal Vision
A New Perspective—an Old Heresy

By Rev. T. Aicken

So, what is all the stir about the Federal Vision? Well, from one perspective, namely the extent of its influence, it is not making great waves at all. It has created some ripples in some denominations, but otherwise, it has made hardly a splash in the pond of Reformed and Presbyterian churches, now numbering hundreds of denominations worldwide.

From another perspective, though—not the extent of its influence, but its serious departure from the Bible, from historic Christianity, and from all that confessional churches have stood for since the Protestant Reformation—yes, the Federal Vision is making waves, and pretty big ones at that. It may be a tempest in a teapot, yet, for those of us in that teapot, it is a tsunami that is bearing down on us and threatening to pull us under. Are we ready for it? Are we securely anchored in the Word of God? Do we even recognize what we are up against, or what others (who said they were Reformed) have lost?

The Federal Vision combines Klaas Schilder’s view of the covenant (not the historic view, by any means), Norman Shepherd’s view of justification (for which he was dismissed from Westminster Seminary in 1982), plus several speculative notions of the Anglican Bishop of Durham N.T. Wright and other innovators of what has come to be known as the “New Perspective on Paul (NPP).”

Broadly speaking, the Federal Vision is neolegalism (a system advocating works-righteousness over free grace), which is a trend in churches as old as the Galatian heresy of New Testament times. Specifically, this new version of that old trend denies, or at least ignores, the unconditional covenant God made with Christ as the Second Adam, and in Him with all the elect as His seed. It focuses exclusively, rather, on the administration of that covenant, i.e. on the covenant handed down to Abraham, consisting of conditional promises only and ordinances administered by the visible Church.

What are the practical effects of such a truncated covenant? Regrettably, it leaves us with a warped and twisted view of covenant blessing. I shall give three examples of that.

First, the clear emphasis of the Federal Vision is on covenant—not on Christ. The Federal Vision teaches that we are saved by the covenant, whereas the Reformed faith (in line with the Bible) teaches that we are saved by Christ. The Federal Vision teaches that the covenant itself conveys a relationship of peace and favour with God; the Reformed faith (again, in line with the Bible) teaches that Christ is the only Mediator, the only Redeemer of God’s elect, and that the covenant offers salvation only by faith in Him. Richard D. Phillips observes,
“The most stunning feature of the Federal Vision writings is the way Jesus Christ, in His person and work, recedes into the background. I am astonished that in the great mass of Federal Vision material dealing with God’s covenant and salvation, our Savior is almost completely ignored (The Auburn Avenue Theology, Pros and Cons: Debating the Federal Vision, p. 84).

God the Father has given all things into the hand of His Son (John 3:35). The Holy Spirit, in turn, testifies of the Son (John 15:26). Are we now to believe that the covenant is more important than the person and work of the Son of God? Paul said, “For to me, to live is Christ…” (Phil. 1:21) . He did not say, “to live is the covenant.” Surely, the covenant is nothing, and can do nothing, apart from Christ Himself coming into the world and sealing to His people all the benefits of God’s covenant through the shedding of His own precious blood. This is the whole point of Rev. 5.

Second, another distortion characterizing the Federal Vision’s covenant and of the blessing it is said to yield is its emphasis on a grace that is external to the recipient, and hence the importance it attaches to water baptism. An exaggerated view of ritual and ceremony is directly contrary to the Bible’s demand for an internal work of grace, for Spirit baptism, and it is contrary to the priority the Bible gives to the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.

We find the need for an internal work of grace (and how useless signs and symbols are without that) to be a strong, unbreakable cord woven throughout the Scriptures. Consider, for instance, Isa. 29:13, Jer. 4:4, Rom. 2:28,29, and Rom. 10:8-10. There is an external element to the covenant, to be sure. The water sprinkled in the sacrament of baptism is real water, something tangible. The external is meant to serve the internal, however, to be a sign and seal of rich blessings we can appropriate only by faith.

This does not mean, of course, that we can afford to ignore the external, or that we can justify our neglecting it. But, at the same time, we need to understand that water baptism does not include Spirit baptism, nor is it adequate to replace it. What does water baptism say to the unregenerate? It says, “You need to be cleansed. More than the sign, you need what it signifies. You need Christ, and you dare not die without Him!” On the other hand, to those who are converted, and are led by the Holy Spirit, this same sacramental water says, “You are complete in Christ. Nothing in all the created order can separate you from God’s love to you in Him!”

Third, one more perverse effect of the Federal Vision’s covenant has to do with its view of the Church. The Federal Vision makes no distinction—or says that this is the wrong distinction for us to consider—between the invisible Church (i.e. the elect) and the visible Church (i.e. those who profess faith in Christ plus their children).

Indeed, this new paradigm, as it is called, does not distinguish even between professing members and baptized members in the visible Church. All are lumped together, as it were, of one and the same status, since salvation is deemed to be conferred on all through the sacrament of baptism. Douglas Wilson, for instance, defines a Christian as “anyone who has been baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit by an authorized representative of the Christian church” (“Reformed is Not Enough, p. 19).

If you think that this sounds similar to the teaching of Rome, you are right. By confusing the sign (baptism) with the thing signified (salvation), the Federal Vision leads us full circle, back to Rome.

Some would insist in all this that they do not deny the doctrine of justification by faith alone, but say that faith and salvation are both conferred through the sacrament of baptism. What this does, of course, is to make everyone in the church a believer, whether or not he really is a believer, and it also gets rid of the need for conversion since everybody is a Christian from the moment the water of baptism is sprinkled upon him.

Is this what the Scriptures teach? (See John 3:3; Matt. 18:3) Is this what we confess? (Consider the Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Days 3, 23, and 27.) Is it not contrary to our experience? Is it not proved to be wrong and absurd by even common sense and reason?

But let us examine this claim more closely. Those of the Federal Vision who tell us that they do not deny justification by faith alone are indeed quick to deny it when they go on, as they do, to define faith as faithfulness, i.e. faith and works together. This is not the historic Protestant view of justification by faith alone, but merely a clever attempt to make it sound so to the unsuspecting. As a matter of fact, these same people insist that we are saved, not by faith in Christ, but by faithfulness to the covenant. This is a further corruption of the doctrine.

Now we need to be very clear about this. We are saved, not because we are faithful to God’s covenant, but because Christ Himself was faithful to it. Our salvation rests, then, not on our faithfulness, but on His. Jesus Christ met with the demands of the covenant of works (fulfilling all righteousness); He also met the demands of the covenant of grace (taking upon Himself the penalty for our unrighteousness), and offered these blessings to us when we did not, and could not, meet what was required of us on account of our own disobedience and sin. Through faith, on the other hand, we lay hold of these benefits of Christ. His righteousness is imputed to us, our unrighteousness is imputed to Him, and, dressed now in the unblemished righteousness and perfect obedience of Jesus Christ, we are declared to be righteous before God for Jesus’ sake.

The teaching of justification by faith alone allows no room for our own faithfulness to crowd in, as if we could ever contribute anything to gain a right standing with God ourselves. Are we not called to be zealous for good works? Of course we are, but they are the fruit of faith; they are not in any sense an instrument to lay hold of Christ.

Let us now take this one step further. If we are not saved by faith in Christ, but by faithfulness to the covenant, and if we are kept in good standing with God by having to continue in that faithfulness, then we have to produce a never-ending supply of good works or we will lose our justification. This is one of the distinguishing features of this new paradigm: one may gain and ultimately lose his salvation, his right relationship with God.

The Federal Vision, remember, teaches baptismal regeneration. It teaches that salvation is conferred on all, not through faith, but through the sacrament of baptism. Yet, while this baptismal regeneration renders conversion unnecessary in their view, still, every Christian has to preserve his favourable standing before God through good works, through his own best efforts, for he has no enduring hope of heaven apart from that.

Do you see, then, how the Federal Vision’s covenant, which is intended to save everybody under its fountain of sacramental water, does not actually guarantee anything or secure any future blessing for anybody? The one thing it is purported to do—to take away all anxious fears and doubts—it therefore cannot do because it allows for no perseverance of the saints. In fact, it is a theological system based on built-in fears and doubts.

This is not a minor controversy among Christians, something that will require only grace and tact to overcome. It is the old Galatian heresy, which is no Gospel at all (Gal 1:6-7). “Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law,” asks Paul, “or by the hearing of faith?….Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” (Gal. 3:2-3).

How is it that most churches in mainline denominations have become apostate over time? Many people would surely say, in response to that question, that they went wrong when they no longer believed the Bible to be the Word of God. In other words, it is really a question of authority. When the leaders could no longer accept, consciously and with conviction, that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament were inspired of God and thus the only infallible rule of faith and practice, those churches began right then, like a runaway train, careening off the rails.

I submit that it happened before then. Indeed, long before the pastors and teachers were even conscious of their having overturned the Bible and rejecting its authority, they had abandoned preaching Christ and Him crucified. They had turned to liturgies instead, to a grossly exaggerated view of the value of religious symbols and ceremonies, and they had rejected the doctrine of justification by faith alone, supposing that men are not so bad that they cannot contribute something of worth to secure for themselves favour with God.

Can we not see, therefore, where this Federal Vision trail is leading us? Shall we be any different from so many who came before us if we, too, should go the wrong way? “If the foundations are destroyed, What can the righteous do?” (Ps. 11:3). And what legacy will it leave our children and grandchildren?

YOGA: Exercise or Religion—Does it Matter?

YOGA: Exercise or Religion—Does it Matter?

By Ray Yungen

It is a moment that troubles me even now. Once, when I was giving a presentation at a Christian college about New Age spirituality, I noticed a student roll her eyes when I mentioned the term, Yoga. It was a small gesture, yet it spoke volumes—as if to say, “Give me a break! It’s just exercises!” I surmised from her response that she was a Yoga practitioner or had at least been exposed to the subject and believed that participation in Yoga had no negative impact on one’s spiritual life. After all, the young lady was attending a Christian college, so she likely presumed she was discerning enough to know whether a practice was pagan or not. But she gave no biblical evaluation of Yoga, and rather wordlessly defended it. Unfortunately, this trend to accept Yoga and other New Age practices has only continued to accelerate within Christian colleges, ministries, and even churches.

Just Exercise?
Currently, an estimated 24 million people in the United States are regularly involved with some form of Yoga.1 In the town where I live, the high majority of health clubs, including the YMCA, YWCA, and the local community college, offer Yoga classes. Accordingto a new survey by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease and Prevention, nearly ten percent of U.S. adults and three percent of children participated in yoga in 2012.”2 Most of these adults may be vaguely aware of the Hindu component of Yoga but see that as being irrelevant to taking Yoga classes. Many people doing the asanas, or postures, seem to feel that these exercises are devoid of any religious connotation.

Professor Bradley J. Malkovsky of Notre Dame University makes the following observation, which aptly demonstrates how Yoga has gone from being relatively obscure to notably pervasive:

I remember almost twenty years ago how the first time I mentioned the word yoga in one of my theology classes, many of my students, most of whom were Christian, could not stifle their laughter. They thought the whole idea of practicing yoga was strange and exotic, something that people of other religions did. Only one student out of about seventy that day had ever tried yoga. But nowadays almost every hand goes up when I ask which students have practiced yoga. Things have clearly changed. Yoga is more prevalent now than ever among people living in the West.3

Professor Malkovsky goes on to say Yoga’s popularity is not just linked to physical fitness primarily, but is an age-old system with a definite spiritual component:

If my students end up going deeper into yoga than simply practicing āsanas [postures], they will learn just how much the wisdom of ancient India can spiritually nourish them, even here on the other side of the world, in twenty-first-century America.4

I find it interesting (but also disconcerting) that many people really don’t examine the reality behind this last statement. To many Americans, Yoga is only exercise, although of a more exotic variety. Generally, people think the different postures aid in healing and strengthening the physical body. Some may also maintain that Yoga calms the mind as well, but from years of research, I have determined only relatively few are aware that Yoga is a religious practice. Can I prove this? Consider the following. If you go to the “Fitness” section of any bookstore and look in the Yoga subsection, you will find references to the spiritual aspects of Yoga such as the chakra system, kundalini, etc. in almost every book on Yoga. It is quite rare to find a book on Yoga that does not incorporate spiritual concepts found in classic Hinduism. To devout Hindus, Yoga cannot be separated into physical and spiritual parts. Both are relevant to the practice, with the end desire being a profound religious experience.

The word “yoga” actually means to be yoked to or united in body, mind, and spirit with Brahman (the Hindu concept of God).5 It doesn’t get more spiritually obvious than that.

Yoga adherents cannot divorce the religious or spiritual aspects of Yoga from the physical because the physical postures were, from their inception, specifically designed to serve as conduits to yogic religious experience. In fact, it cannot really be called Yoga without union with the spiritual realm. Yoga is union with Brahman, the Hindu view of God. If you are not on the road to being connected with Brahman, you can’t really call it Yoga.

The Reality Behind Yoga
Beth Shaw, the founder and CEO of YogaFit (an organization which has trained over 200,000 instructors worldwide), teaches that Yoga consists of far more than mere physical exercises. In her book, she reveals:

The ancient practice of meditation is as integral to yoga as the poses are, and they have the same intention: not to tune out, but to tune in to a frequency that is long forgotten or perhaps undiscovered.6 (emphasis added)

What exactly is this frequency she is talking about? Yoga instructor and author Stephen Cope provides the answer. He says, “We are all born divine. . . . This is the classic statement of the perennial philosophy of yoga.”7 This leaves little to the imagination when it comes to understanding the spiritual framework regarding the practice of Yoga. Cope has made his Yoga stance even clearer with the following two statements:

What we are seeking is already at the core of our nature. . . . We are already inherently perfect.8

It means that God is available to us fully in each moment, simply because God is our true nature.9

Yoga has been a springboard into the New Age for quite a number of people. One of them, Jack Canfield (bestselling author of the Chicken Soup books), attests to getting his spiritual jumpstart doing Yoga. In college, he took a Yoga class as an elective, did meditation, and became a believer. He said he “felt god flowing through all things.”10 In Canfield’s book The Success Principles, he writes:

As you meditate and become more spiritually attuned, you can better discern and recognize the sound of your higher self.11

This is basically Yoga 101.

The late occultist and “prophetess” Alice Bailey also reflected on this same definition. Bailey recognized that Yoga was something integral to the spread of New Age spirituality. Her reflection on it shows the emphasis the religion of occultism places on the practice of Yoga. You can see this when she proposed the following:

The Yogi, or the one who has achieved union (for Yoga is the science of union) knows himself as he is in reality . . . he knows himself to be, past all controversy, God.12 (parenthesis in original)

Even Aleister Crowley, the 20th century’s foremost proponent of occultism, saw Yoga as vital to his spiritual life. He offered his opinions and observations in his book Eight Lectures on Yoga. This body of work has been referred to as “the most scientific and informational work on Yoga ever written.”13

Exercising Biblical Discernment
It cannot be overstated that discernment, and an appropriate response to what is discerned, is one of the hallmarks of a mature Christian. We live in an age where the acceptance of trendy practices, such as Yoga, is hammered into us from every side, with the end result being an ecumenical generic inter-spirituality that fits everybody.

Believers in Christ have fallen prey to some dangerous ideas. One is that we feel free to draw from pagan sources. Or, as is popularly stated, we can chew the meat and spit out the bones. But this doesn’t make any sense from a biblical standpoint. As a Christian, we can’t segregate into portions what part we think will do us harm and what part will profit us. If the foundational spirituality is contrary to God’s Word, then it will be folly to interact with it.

Another saying that is often used as a defense is the old phrase, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.” But as the late apologist Dave Hunt used to say, what if it’s Rosemary’s Baby?14 (a horror movie from the 1960s).

One of the reasons that Yoga has become so popular is that it lacks many of the sexual taboos that the Judeo/Christian tradition has. In other words, the reason Yoga is compatable with people such as Aleister Crowley, who was considered one of the most wicked men to ever live, is because Yoga overlooks the perversity of fallen human nature. The following account provides us with compelling food for thought—

Actress and sister/daughter to the singing Judds, Ashley Judd wrote a book about her social activism regarding the AIDS epidemic around the world. Accompanying her on trips was her close friend and celebrity Yoga instructor, Seane Corn. Judd told the following story to emphasize a spiritual point to her readers:

Back in the 1980s, Corn had worked as a bartender in a gay nightclub. One of the patrons of the club who was a close friend of Corn’s died of AIDS. Judd explained how before he died he passed on to Corn that God was in every person she met, even patrons of a gay bar. “Ignore the story [the lifestyle] and see the soul,” he told her. Corn said it was her “first lesson in the central tenet of Yoga—that we are all one.”15

What I find especially problematic is that at the beginning of her book, Ashley Judd describes herself as an evangelical Christian. An evangelical Christian is not supposed to believe the philosophy Judd has just related.

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6: 9-11)

Am I saying that everyone who does Yoga is basically immoral. Not at all. But could it be that at least part of the reason homosexuality has become so accepted over the last thirty years, even now within parts of mainstream Christianity, is due to the widespread influence of Yoga and other mystically based practices? That’s certainly something to consider.

As believers, we are told in Romans 12:2, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” We are often like the Old Testament Israelites whom the Lord commanded to “learn not the way of the heathen” (Jeremiah 10:2), and who were forbidden to marry pagan women (Jeremiah 16), and instead were enamoured with the women of the nations surrounding them, and were thus seduced into idolatry.

When Yoga is viewed through the lens of the Cross of Christ, it is clear that the two are incompatible. When a person becomes involved with Yoga, he enters a realm of often subtle but powerful spiritual deception.

Unexpected Results
The Russel Simmons story is of special interest with regard to my warning about Yoga. Simmons was a young, street-wise black youth who later did quite well for himself as a hip-hop (rap) music producer. Ironically, Simmons did not fit any New Age stereotype, but a friend, as he put it, “dragged [him]into a yoga class,” and he “realized [he] had stumbled onto something incredible.”16 As a result, Simmons acquired the spiritual perspective that always accompanies the practice of Yoga. Simmons relates:

A lot of the time it seems like people are more comfortable listening to the God that is outside them, but I believe that God is already inside of you. . . . The God that’s in all of our hearts.17

The student I referred to in the beginning of this booklet who rolled her eyes when I mentioned Yoga might have reconsidered her response if presented with the facts you have just read in this booklet. This is exactly the point I am trying to make, that Yoga produces a certain perception. That perception is identical with what is commonly called New Age spirituality. Incidentally, Simmons has become a major Yoga “evangelist” and has written three books (one a best seller), which specifically target the young hip-hop audience.

Christine Aguilera, popular singer in the vein of Brittney Spears, fits right into this pattern. In a 2015 ABC news article titled “Yoga Serving As Inspiration For Aguilera’s New Music,” Aguilera states:

. . . taking a love for Yoga and breathing . . . not looking at it as an exercise, but just feeling more in one with the Earth and everyone being connected, It’ll definitely have a reflection on the new record.18

Aguilera is an influence to millions of young girls, who see her as a role model and emulate her. Aguilera is not an anomaly.

In the Western world, Yoga has become largely a female-based phenomenon; however, a growing number of men are doing Yoga now as well. A high percentage of these men and women, such as Simmons, have gone on to become Yoga “missionaries,” with an interest in converting family members, friends, coworkers, etc. Such proselytizing has resulted in tens of millions around the world who have practiced Yoga. Just think about this: if each one of these people is able to influence just five or six people in their lifetime with regard to Yoga, we’d be looking at well over a quarter billion people.

It cannot be ignored that even if a person has no interest in the spiritual roots of Yoga, by taking a Yoga class or even participating via video or books, he or she is exposing him or herself to Hindu spirituality, which is inherent in the practice. People need to understand that Yoga is a religious expression and therefore cannot be compartmentalized (i.e., exercise vs. religion). Even the traditional Hindu greeting, Namasté, that is said at the end of Yoga classes, is spiritual. When translated, it means, “The god in me bows down to (or salutes) the god in you.” In essence, “Namasté encompasses the full spectrum of the spirituality of the Age of Aquarius.

It is essential for us as Christians to comprehend the gravity of this situation and understand what Dr. Malkovsky is bringing to our attention. Most likely, you have someone in your circle of family and friends who has been involved with Yoga. My publisher, Lighthouse Trails, told me that they frequently receive phone calls from people telling them that their churches are doing Yoga and often at the prompting and leading of the pastors’ wives or women’s ministry leaders. What was once nearly unheard of within evangelical churches is now being increasingly accepted. In Dr. Malkovsky’s book, he proceeds to back up the very thing I am attempting to convey in this booklet:

[M]any people who are at first uninterested in meditation when they take up yoga practice gradually come to discover its value, especially if they have a teacher who understands that yoga’s ultimate aim is spiritual health, not merely physical health.19

Surprisingly, some advocates of Yoga do see the inherent clash between Yoga and Christianty. Stephanie Syman, in her book titled The Subtle Body: The Story of Yoga in America actually draws the same conclusions I am presenting. Her observation is that despite the promises of the Yoga community that Yoga “doesn’t [contradict] our most sacred beliefs,”20 it may very well do so. She explains:

[Yoga Proponents] may actually be wrong on this point. It’s hard to reconcile the subtle body [the chakras] and the possibility of experiencing divinity for yourself by methodically following a program of exercise, breathing, and meditation with Judeo-Christian notions of God and the afterlife, but we seem willing to ignore the discontinuities.21 (emphasis added)

Yoga has become so accepted and ingrained in the Western world that you can now find it everywhere, and I do mean everywhere! Recently, I was passing through a very small town in western Montana and was surprised to see a Yoga studio located in the center of town. What really got my attention was that this studio was named after the Hindu goddess, Shakti!

The Yoga boom, which began in the 1990s, is changing the very social fabric of our society in a way that will last well into the future. People need to be aware that Yoga serves spiritual ends and also need to realize just what the nature of that spirituality entails. Yoga is the religion of namasté (i.e., man is God). The fact is, there is no need for the Cross in Yoga. To the contrary, Scripture tells us:

. . . that in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.(Ephesians 2:7; emphasis added)

To order copies of YOGA: Exercise or Religion—Does it Matter?, click here.

1. Kim Painter, “Ancient Practice of Yoga Now a Growth Industry (USA Today, March 3, 2015;
2. Ibid.; information taken from the survey at
3. Bradley Malkovsky, God’s Other Children: Personal Encounters with Love, Holiness, and Faith in Sacred India (HarperCollins, Kindle Edition), p. 152.
4. Ibid.
5. For example:
6. Beth Shaw, Yoga Fit (Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2015, 3rd Edition), p. 315.
7. Stephen Cope, Yoga and the Quest for the True Self (New York, NY: Bantam Books, 1999 edition).
8. Ibid.
9. Ibid.
10. Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Dare to Win (New York, NY: Berkeley Books, 1994), p. 195.
11. Jack Canfield, The Success Principles (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2015, 10th anniversary edition), p. 377.
12. Alice Bailey, From Intellect to Intuition (New York, NY: Lucis Publishing Company, 16th Printing, 2012), p. 189.
13. A review of Aleister Crowley’s book, Eight Lectures on Yoga:
14. Dave Hunt, “Has The Church Sold Its Birthright To Psychology?” (The Berean Call;
15. Ashley Judd, All That Is Bitter and Sweet: A Memoir (New York, NY: Ballantine Books, 2011), p. 286.
16. Russell Simmons with Chris Morrow, Do You!: 12 Laws to Access the Power in You to Achieve Happiness and Success(New York, NY: Penguin Group, 2007, Kindle Edition), Kindle Location: 1142.
17. Ibid., 1047.
18. Mesfin Fekadu, “Yoga Serving As Inspiration For Aguilera’s New Music” (ABC News, October 7, 2015,
19. Bradley Malkovsky, God’s Other Children, op. cit., p. 146.
20. Stefanie Syman, The Subtle Body: The Story of Yoga in America (New York, NY: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2010), p. 291.
21. Ibid.

To order copies of YOGA: Exercise or Religion—Does it Matter?, click here.


Pathway To Apostasy

Pathway to Apostasy

Commentary by Roger Oakland

Recently, I was contacted by a friend and colleague who also has a discernment ministry. He was surveying other discernment ministries in order to come up with a list of the top ten subtle ways the body of Christ is presently being led astray. As I was busy speaking at a conference at the time I received his e-mail, I wrote him back and told him I would get back to him in a few days.

While flying back to my home after the conference, I took out my computer and responded to my friend’s request. The topics I had presented at the conference were still fresh in my mind. Following are the first ten trends I have personally encountered. While I am certain there are many more, the following ten trends provide a good overview of what is taking place in the church today:

1.  Ecumenical unity at any cost yet completely void of any connection to the message that Jesus died on the Cross.

2.  The church-growth movement, which is focused on a market-driven seeker-friendly Christianity emphasizing a megachurch mentality.

3.  A Christianity focused on following men, their methods, and their movements.

4.  A Jesuit agenda promoted by publishers and pastors proclaiming the teachings and ideas of Roman Catholic church fathers and Roman Catholic mystics.

5.  The rejection of biblical creation and the acceptance of theistic evolution and progressive creation.

6.  The acceptance of New Age ancient Babylonian practices such as yoga and contemplative prayer as a means of “getting closer to Jesus.”

7.  A false Christianity that substitutes the gospel according to the Scriptures with a social gospel.

8.  The “Purpose-driven P.E.A.C.E. Plan” that prepares the church for a global one-world religion.

9.  An experience-based “Christianity” that seeks after signs and wonders and rejects the biblical warnings of a Last Days spiritual deception found in the Bible.

10.  The compromising of the church in order to become “postmodern” and “progressive” in an attempt to reach the postmodern generation.

It was not my objective to place these various trends in their order of importance. The fact is, each one is occurring, and the vast majority of professing Christians are not even aware these trends are happening or even that there is a problem. Perhaps in the future, these ten points would make good chapter headings for a small book that would deal with each topic in more detail.

For now, let me say I believe biblical Christianity is under attack like it has never been before. We are not only on a “slippery slope”—Christianity is ready to fall off the cliff. As Jesus asked in Luke 18:18: When the son of man cometh, will he find faith?

Current events indicate the pathway to apostasy is leading exactly in the direction foretold by the Scriptures.



Friday, July 31, 2015
By John MacArthur

The whole advertising industry thrives by tapping into the pervasive discontentment—a discontentment they also helped create—of western culture. It’s almost impossible to go for a drive without having our senses assaulted by billboards reminding us of the material things we lack. Even those who are content with their lot in life struggle to emerge unscathed from the barrage.

For the Christian, personal contentment—being satisfied with what God has given us—is a vital aspect of personal holiness and integrity. In that vein, the author of Hebrews gives us this simple exhortation: “Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have” (Hebrews 13:5). Contentment is fundamental to integrity because a man who is content is far less vulnerable to the worldly enticements and distractions that Satan throws at him.

But our contentment can be undermined and assaulted by the sin of covetousness. It is one of the chief ways discontentment manifests itself. Covetousness is an attitude, a longing to acquire things. It means we set nearly all our attention and thought on gaining more money or having new possessions, whether we ever obtain them or not.

An encounter early in the career of wealthy oil executive John D. Rockefeller (1839–1937) illustrates this attitude. A friend reportedly asked the young Rockefeller how much money he wanted. “A million dollars,” he answered. After Rockefeller earned his first million dollars, his friend asked him how much more money he wanted. “Another million dollars,” Rockefeller replied.

Rockefeller’s desires further illustrate a law of diminishing returns with regard to covetousness: The more we get the more we want, and the more we want the less satisfied we are. The Preacher (probably Solomon, one who would understand this principle very well) wrote, “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. This too is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 5:10).

According to Scripture, loving money is one of the most common ways we display covetousness. Money can be used to purchase almost anything we desire, and thus it is synonymous with lusting after material riches. Obviously, we should seek to be free from any craving for material wealth. Such a desire indicates we are trusting in riches rather than in the living God.

Paul told Timothy how he was to deal with this matter, and his command is especially applicable to Christians living in affluent Western cultures: “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17).

The Lord Jesus, in perhaps His most sobering parable, gives us a strong warning about the serious pitfalls related to covetousness and materialism:

“Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive. And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ So is the man who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:15–21)

The love of money and material possessions is evidenced in a variety of ways. For some people, it remains just an attitude—they never actually acquire anything. But others do acquire wealth, and for them the thrill is in adding to what they have. They love to increase their bank accounts, build up their stock and investment portfolios, or become involved in new business ventures.

Some people love money just for its own sake and find satisfaction simply in hoarding what they have. Still others are conspicuous consumers who love to buy newer, more expensive things—nicer clothes, fancier gadgets, more luxurious cars, bigger vacation homes—so they can flaunt their wealth. No matter how the love of materialism shows itself, it displeases God. We are all tempted—some of us more times than others—to compromise our testimonies and forget our integrity for the sake of material gain. But God wants us to be content.

Keys to Contentment

Scripture contains a number of practical guidelines by which we can enjoy the attitude of contentment. First, we must realize God’s goodness and believe that as our Father, He will take care of us. The apostle Paul reminds us that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

Second, we must grasp and treasure the truth that God is omniscient. He knows our needs long before we ask Him to supply them. Jesus told the disciples, “Your Father knows that you need these things” (Luke 12:30).

The third vital ingredient for genuine contentment is that we consider what we deserve. We often have an inflated, self-important view of what we desire, and even more of what we need. But in reality, by the Lord’s sovereign design, the smallest good thing we have is far more than we deserve. Like Jacob, we are “unworthy of all the lovingkindness and of all the faithfulness which You have shown” (Genesis 32:10).

Fourth, God’s Word exhorts us to recognize His sovereign supremacy. We will not be completely content until we see that His plan is not the same for all His children. What the Father lovingly gives to one believer, He just as lovingly withholds from another (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:4–11). Hannah, Samuel’s mother, spoke wisely and to the point concerning material blessings: “The Lord makes poor and rich” (1 Samuel 2:7). We might not be comfortable with the first part of that statement, but God knows that being rich is not necessarily the best plan for us. It could even be spiritually harmful for us (as it was for the rich man in Luke 12). The Lord provides us with just what we need and nothing less.

Finally, we must keep on reminding ourselves that worldly wealth and possessions are not the true riches. Our real treasure is in heaven. So Paul calls on us to set our minds “on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2). Ultimately, therefore, genuine contentment results from our communion with God the Father and with His Son. Material riches fade into insignificance when we draw near to Christ and are overwhelmed by the spiritual riches we have in Him.

(Adapted from The Power of Integrity.)


Jerusalem is declared the eternal capital of Israel by the prime minister and confirmed by the Israel Knesset

Jerusalem is declared the eternal capital of Israel by the prime minister and confirmed by the Israel Knesset

July 21, 2015

The headline for this report is correct – howbeit, it is a headline from Israel dating back over 60 years to the time when on December 13, 1949, David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, declared to the members of the Israeli government meeting in Tel Aviv, that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish state of Israel and the Israeli legislative body, the Knesset, approved the declaration. The Israeli government action followed the United Nations declaration that Jerusalem must be internationalized to which David Ben-Gurion responded that Jerusalem is an intrical part of Israel, its eternal capital, and no United Nations resolution can change such an historic fact.

Jimmy’s Prophetic Prospective on the News

Though the world doesn’t recognize the historic prophetic fact that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish state of Israel as so declared by Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, the Bible confirms this fact and says it is absolute.

In December of 1949 the then prime minister of Israel, David Ben-Gurion, made the unilateral declaration that Jerusalem was the eternal capital of the Jewish state of Israel and that no United Nations resolution could change that fact. Ben-Gurion added that Jerusalem was made the capital of the Jewish people some 3000 years ago, a declaration made by the second king of Israel, King David. The counter-declaration by Ben-Gurion that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel, was a political declaration that is in perfect harmony with many passages in the Bible.

In the Davidic Covenant found in II Samuel 7, the Lord promised the Jewish people that He will give them a place to dwell and that they will move no more (II Samuel 7:10). The Davidic Covenant also confirms that the Jewish Messiah will rule a kingdom from a temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and do that forever. In fact, God has committed to dwelling among the Jewish people in Jerusalem forever (Psalm 132:13-14). Even on the new earth called for in Isaiah 65 and 66 and in Revelation 21, the earthly city of Jerusalem will be the center of all spiritual activities (Micah 4:1-3, Isaiah 2).

David Ben-Gurion’s declaration over 60 years ago that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish state of Israel is absolute. Bible prophecy will be fulfilled. 

There has been a historic agreement between Iran and world powers as it relates to the Iranian nuclear program

There has been a historic agreement between Iran and world powers as it relates to the Iranian nuclear program

July 15, 2015

World powers have reached a deal with Iran on limiting Iranian nuclear activity in return for the lifting of international economic sanctions. Iranian President Rouhani said that it opened a new chapter in Iran’s relations with the world.

Meanwhile Prime Minister Netanyahu says it is a stunning historic mistake. Netanyahu says that Iran wants to control the world.

David Dolan, long time journalist in the Middle East agrees, I asked David, does indeed Iran want to control the world:

DAVE DOLAN: “They do and you know that we forget sometimes that with the scope of modern weaponry, i.e.: weapons of mass destruction which can travel across the globe in just minutes. We should be worried, this is a country that states it’s goal is world domination. Now Hitler did the same thing, he was going to establish the 4th Reich over all the earth, the 3rd Reich would be in Europe and then it would spread to the whole world but lets face it he didn’t have the wherewithal to do that, but today all Iran needs is a couple dozen nuclear weapons that can travel on ballistic missiles and they could literally wipe the major cities of the United States and Europe and other places out and effectively begin their march to total world domination.

It is indeed a possibility today that such a thing could occur; so we better take their warnings, their statements, their repeated blusterings on this seriously. I think that is what is being said to John Kerry, the security of state, by many Senators here in America and others around the world; certainly by Prime Minister Netanyahu that a bad deal is worse then any deal. Anything that allows Iran any sort of nuclear capability is bad for the world and I think that is definitely the case.”

David Dolan, on the Iranian nuclear deal. I report this story because it is setting the stage for Bible Prophecy to be fulfilled.

Jimmy’s Prophetic Prospective on the News

With the nuclear deal, Iran is now a major danger to the entire world. Psalm 83:4 says there will be a call for Israel to be destroyed and Iran on a continual basis repeats that statement, they will wipe Israel off the face of the earth. Ezekiel 38:5 finds Ezekiel the prophet saying Iran, mentioned in that passage as Persia, that Iran will be a major player in the end times.

These prophetic passages will indeed be fulfilled. The Iranian nuclear deal is simply setting the stage for the fulfillment of God’s prophetic Word.

thumbs down: Simply Good News, Why the Gospel Is News and What Makes It Good by N. T. Wright

Simply Good News, Why the Gospel Is News and What Makes It  by N. T. Wright
(New York: Harper Collins, 2015) 189 pp, Hard $24.99

Christianity Today proclaims N. T. Wright to be the most prolific biblical scholar in a generation. Some say he is the most important apologist since C. S. Lewis (on the dust cover). If so, then whether you agree with him or not, what Wright says carries considerable weight. In Simply Good News Wright is defining the gospel and working out its implications. He repeatedly, and correctly, states that the gospel is not good advice; it is a good news message about an event that has changed everything (pp. 4, 16). But Wright’s understanding about this event (which includes the cross and the resurrection) is not what many would assume. He agrees the message that Jesus died for our sins and took our punishment so that we could be saved and go to heaven is true, but it is a distorted message, which does not go far enough and in some ways is a message which the Western church (a constant theme within the book, pp. 5, 23, 65, 77, 79, 82, 83, 85, 86, 90, 94, 114, 124, 130, 138, 163) has simply got wrong (pp. 5, 23, 65). How so? First, getting people to heaven and keeping them out of hell was never God’s plan (pp. 6, 98, 107, 148). God’s plan was about His kingdom in which heaven comes to earth (p. 7). Wright is confused about the new heaven and earth, seeing them as virtually synonymous (pp. 91, 163), but technically he is correct that believers will spend eternity on the new earth. However, I find it interesting that Wright and his ilk pay little attention to what happens until the new heaven and earth are created. That millions of believers have spent perhaps thousands of years in heaven seems to go unnoticed. But Wright’s message is that “the good news is not about how to escape [the world]. It [is] about how the one true God [is] changing it, radically and forever” (p. 13).

Wright habitually depreciates certain aspects of the biblical gospel, claiming it is not the message of Jesus and the apostles, then immediately turns around and says that none of those things is totally wrong (pp. 19, 25, 65, 69, 70, 73, 81, 97, 102, 154, 162). In effect this would minimize any criticism of Wright’s views. For example:

In particular, the church has latched onto a way of speaking about the gospel that goes like this: You are a sinner, deserving death; Jesus died in your place; therefore believe in Him, and you’ll go to heaven after all. This can be shortened even further to something like, Jesus took my punishment…Just to be clear, this theme (Jesus dying in my place) is indeed prominent in the Bible (p. 65).

In particular, Wright wants to distance the Christian faith from the concept of a God of wrath and replace Him with a God of pure love (pp. 68, 69). This creates an unbalanced view of the Lord who in the Bible is a God of infinite love but who is also holy and rightly judges sin. He even neatly sidesteps the clear message of God’s wrath in Romans 1:18ff and manages to reduce, through carefully selected verses, the wrath of God to rescuing love (pp. 70-72) and the restoration and transformation of all creation (p. 72). Of course, if one can virtually eliminate the wrath of God they can also eliminate hell. He is able to do so by framing traditional views of hell as medieval distortions of God still clung to by the Western church (p. 98).

What exactly is Wright’s gospel then? It is not human beings rescued by God through Jesus—we imagined this (p. 97) – nor that we need to be reconciled to God—we imagined that, too (p. 97) although he strangely admits that these things are true (p. 97). But the full or whole gospel, according to Wright, is that because of what Christ has done a whole new universe is coming. And this is good news for the whole of creation (apparently all humanity as well) and not just for “a few humans who get the magic password that lets them off the hook and into heaven after all” (p. 97). What a sad distortion of the biblical depiction of saving grace received by faith (Eph 2:8-9). The gospel according to Wright is the restoration of God’s original intention for the planet. He writes, “God made humans so that he could look after his world through this particular creature. His intention was to bring his creation forward from its beginnings to be the glorious place he always intended and to do so through this human family” (pp. 97-98). The gospel is God reclaiming the earth so that “the world would be healed, transformed, rescued and renewed” (p. 36). And “what was holding back the kingdom was the dark power, the force of evil itself. On the cross, that power was defeated” (p. 46). At that point Christ’s kingdom was re-established on earth and our task is to help bring the kingdom to its ultimate glory (pp. 54-55):

The good news is that the one true God has now taken charge of the world, in and through Jesus and his death and resurrection…The ancient sickness that had crippled the whole world, and humans with it, has been cured at last, so that new life can rise up in its place…That one day it will happen, completely and utterly, to all creation; and that we humans, every single one of us, whoever we are, can be caught up in that transformation here and now. This is the Christian gospel. Do not allow yourself to be fobbed off with anything less (p. 55).

With this kind of gospel it is a short step to making the mission of the believer that of “working to make the world” a better place (p. 77). Since, according to Wright, the idea of Jesus taking us to heaven is seriously misleading (pp. 90, 93), and the idea of Jesus returning is complex, all that matters is creating the new heavens and earth, which are the same place (p. 91). The complete gospel includes restoring this earth (pp. 98-100, 158). We must work with God to bring about this change on the planet (pp. 118-120).

Wright concludes Simply Good News by saying that we can become good news people only through prayer (p. 153). He then presses the Lord’s Prayer into service to explain the gospel. It should be noted that the Lord’s Prayer never mentions the gospel but it fits Wright’s agenda that the gospel is basically the kingdom of God (p. 158):

The good news is that the living God is indeed establishing his kingdom on earth as in heaven, through the finished work of Jesus, and is inviting people of all sorts to share not only in the benefits of this kingdom but also in the work through which it will come to its ultimate completion (p. 164).

“It is time for God to become king—here and now” (p. 161) and it is time for us to “become transformed people who are then transforming the world” (p. 169).

Wright’s gospel is the familiar “already/not yet” view which teaches that the kingdom is now (but even more is coming) concept. The biblical gospel of reconciliation is given a nod but the “whole” gospel is working with the Lord to transform this planet and return it to its original glory. The full gospel then becomes not only the biblical gospel but is also combined with the social gospel of the world’s transformation through the instrumentality of believers prior to the return of Christ. It should be noted that Wright does not really engage with the important biblical texts dealing with the gospel. Simply Good News is not an exegesis of Scripture. It is an understanding of the purposes of God through the lens of a particular amillennial/postmillennial understanding of the kingdom of God. This is a dangerous book.

Respectable Elders


by Jeremiah Johnson

We’ve recently witnessed some changes in the cultural landscape that understandably cause believers great concern. Is society turning its back on the church? Is this the beginning of a new era of persecution and political pressure for the church? And how should we respond to a world that is increasingly hostile to God’s Word and His people?

At times like these, it is vital that believers not give in to panic and frantic overreaction. Instead, we need to fall back on eternal truth, and rest confidently in the palm of God’s sovereign hand. These recent changes are merely cosmetic—the world has always hated God’s Word and His design. It will stop at nothing to silence the preaching of the gospel and the testimony of its power to transform lives.

How we respond to this hostility is vital. We’re not called to lives of compromise and capitulation, nor were we saved and transformed for the sake of mounting political counterattacks and redeeming the culture. Like Lazarus, we’ve been called out of the grave of our sin, bestowed with new life, and set apart as examples of God’s redeeming, transforming power. And in the white-hot light of persecution, the testimony of our faith and the quality of our godliness is perpetually under scrutiny.

In his letter to Titus and the churches of Crete, the apostle Paul makes that very point. “This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men” (Titus 3:8). In his commentary on the epistle, John MacArthur explains Paul’s point.

When Christians exalt the Word of God and demonstrate God’s power to transform lives, “these things are good and profitable for men”—for the believers themselves and, even more significantly . . . for the unsaved sinners around them who are drawn to Christ by the exemplary lives of those He has graciously transformed. [1]

What does that profitable behavior look like? How should our lives adorn the gospel in the midst of a world bent on antagonism to the truth? Earlier in his letter, Paul gave some specific instructions for holy living to his readers. Regarding those instructions, John notes:

They often have been unpopular and controversial, even in the church. At no time have they been more unpopular and controversial than in many churches today, where personal opinion and cultural standards take precedence over God’s truth and self-fulfillment is more important than holy living. [2]

All the more reason, then, to pay close attention to Paul’s teaching, and biblically discipline ourselves for godliness and kingdom use.

Paul addresses his instructions to specific groups within his audience—the first is the older men. “Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance” (Titus 2:2).

The fact that Paul began by addressing his older readers—or that he paid them any attention at all—flies in the face of our modern emphasis on always appealing to younger, hipper audiences. In recent years, as the church has chased and mimicked every conceivable trend and popular subculture, older saints have been routinely ignored or cast aside. In fact, one of the most consistent flaws in churches today is the utter lack of the spiritual maturity and godly examples of seasoned believers.

As John MacArthur explains, Scripture does not share the modern, dismissive perspective regarding older saints.

Moses was 80 years old when God called him to lead Israel out of bondage in Egypt and to the land of promise. But, like his poor speaking ability (Exodus 4:10–12), advanced age did not excuse him from the Lord’s work.

At the age of 83—after having traveled some 250,000 miles on horseback, preached more than 40,000 sermons, and produced some 200 books and pamphlets—John Wesley regretted that he was unable to read and write for more than 15 hours a day without his eyes becoming too tired to work. After his 86th birthday, he admitted to an increasing tendency to lie in bed until 5:30 in the morning!

Godly older saints who bring strength, stability, and wisdom to a church should be cherished. Ancient Israel was told by the Lord, “You shall rise up before the gray-headed, and honor the aged” (Leviticus 19:32; cf. Proverbs 16:31). The godly are assured that they “will still yield fruit in old age” (Psalm 92:14) and that “the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day” (Proverbs 4:18). [3]

That’s not to say that age alone makes one a godly example or a spiritual leader. Paul’s instructions to older men make it clear that even they require spiritual discipline.

Specifically, he charges them to be temperate, dignified, and sensible. It’s a call to avoid extravagance and overindulgence, and to be sober minded (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:34; 1 Peter 1:13;4:7) and discerning.

In his commentary, John explains the spiritual maturity Paul is recommending.

The “temperate” older man is able to discern more clearly which things are of the greatest importance and value. He uses his time, his money, and his energy more carefully and selectively than when he was younger and less mature. His priorities are in the right order, and he is satisfied with fewer and simpler things. . . .

The “dignified” person is never frivolous, trivial, or superficial. He never laughs at immorality, vulgarity, or anything else that is sinful and ungodly. Nor does he laugh at that which is tragic or at the expense of others.

Older believers have lived long enough to see many people, including good friends and close family members, experience serious misfortune, suffer great pain, and perhaps die at an early age. They may have seen a spouse or a child suffer leukemia or some other form of cancer or debilitating disease. They have learned the value of time and opportunity. They better accept and comprehend their own mortality, the imperfections of this present world, and the inability of material things to give lasting, deep satisfaction. They have seen utopian ideas fail and have learned how short-lived and disappointing euphoric emotional experiences can be, even those—or perhaps especially those—that purport to be of a higher spiritual order. . . .

They should have the discernment, discretion, and judgment that comes from walking with God for many years. They control their physical passions and they reject worldly standards and resist worldly attractions. [4]

Paul underscores those important character qualities with the call to be “sound in faith, in love, [and] in perseverance.” As John explains,

First of all, older men who have been through 50, 60, 70, or more years of life are to be “sound in faith,” having learned that God indeed can be trusted in every way. They do not question His wisdom or power or love, and they do not lose trust in His goodness and grace or lose confidence in His divine plan and divine wisdom. They do not doubt the truth or sufficiency of His Word or waver in their divinely assured hope that His sovereign plan will be fulfilled.

Second, older men are to be “sound . . . in love”—toward God, toward His people, and toward those who do not yet know Him. They love by bearing one another’s burdens and thereby fulfilling the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2). They have learned to love when their love is not deserved and to continue loving when it is rejected and even when they suffer because of it. They lovingly forgive and they lovingly serve. . . .

Third, older men are to be “sound . . . in perseverance.” They are to exhibit the ability to endure hardship, to accept disappointment and failure, to be satisfied despite thwarted personal desires and plans. They have learned to graciously live with such difficulties as physical weakness, loneliness, and being misunderstood and unappreciated. They do not lose heart when things do not turn out the way they had hoped and expected, but have the perfect confidence “that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). [5]

While Paul directed his exhortation specifically to the older men in the Cretan churches, all believers ought to strive for the kind of spiritual maturity he describes. Not only is that maturity a great benefit to the Body of Christ, but it adorns the gospel of Jesus Christ and confirms the testimony of His people to the hostile, watching world.

True Shepherds Protect The Flock!

True Shepherds PROTECT the Flock

Because true shepherds must put the flock first, and view heretics and schismatics as nothing less than wolves who seek to devour the sheep in Christ’s “little flock,” they must expose and oppose [false teachers] for what they are. That note of deep concern for the sheep is what is missing in so many churches today. The feeble note struck instead is, “Let us all learn to live in peace with one another even though we differ;” or “I don’t say you’re wrong; it’s just that we differ.” . . . True shepherds will never allow the sheep to be attacked without attempting to protect them.

Jay E. Adams, The Use of the Rod & the Staff: A Neglected Aspect of Shepherding, p.27, 28