Tuesday, October 18, 2011

JESUS EXPOSES THE WORST IN US: FOR OUR OWN GOOD....

BLIND SPOTS
Jesus has a way of getting under people's skin. He is brutally honest in exposing our wickedness, our waywardness, our self-righteousness, our hypocrisy, our pride, our idols. His teachings are a graceful rebuke to the spiritually blind. We all have blind spots, sins and failures that might be obvious to others but we cannot see ourselves; in terms of exposing our blind spots, no one can champion Jesus. He is the Master!

I kindly encourage attenders of The Crossing to take the time and effort to read this entire post and then listen to two sermons I have provided. Take your time and do it over several days if necessary. I want to emphasize in following through with this because the point I am trying to get across in this post is not from my mind, it is the mind of Christ; as if Christ Himself is personally speaking to you through His Word, preached by a very gifted pastor, Tullian Tchividjian. Jesus Christ wants to expose you to your blind spots.  


WHAT IS REQUIRED FOR SALVATION?
I know there are genuine Christians who attend The Crossing, and then there are some who are not Christians, but probably think that they are. I don't know Eric Dykstra's heart, but I do know that Eric Dykstra is not clear on the doctrine of "justification". Justification is the act in which the Christian God aquits us in His court. Are we justified by faith alone? Or, are we justified by "doing"? Protestant reformer Martin Luther said that justification is the doctrine upon which the Church of Jesus Christ stands or falls. 

My concern is nothing less than what is required for your salvation. At the Crossing the central tenets of of the biblical Gospel are usually just given lip service. The emphasis in Eric Dykstra's sermons seems to be "do more, give more, work harder, then God will bless you". Even if that is not his intent, that is the impression that biblically illiterate people will take home with them if they listen to him long enough. 

If you believe that the more you do for Jesus, then God will bless you more in return, well, that is just a dangerous position to take.  If you decide that you want to stay at The Crossing, fine, that's your choice. But I want you to be clear on the doctrine of justification, because if you get it wrong, then you will be ruined for eternity!  

CURTAIN TIME
In this post, and especially the next, I will reinforce exactly what is required for the salvation of your soul. I want you to be clear on that, because my next post will probably be my last post on "THE CROSSING: CHURCH OR CULT?". It will still be available to read, I will still give away gifts to those who ask, but I will no longer do any more posting, unless I am compelled to do so. I don't want to get into the issues as to why I am discontinuing by blog, except to say that I have said enough, and will be focusing my energy on another blog project aimed at reaching the lost for Christ. 

INTENT OF MY BLOG
Just know that my blog has always been about Christ's pursuit of you; He is seeking you out to rescue you. He has a message for you, in the Bible, and that message will liberate you from the  the works-oriented, seeker-driven system, watered-down gospel of The Crossing church that you may be blind to. Christ wants what is best for you, if you will only listen to Him. I am nothing but a tool in the Redeemer's hands; my blog has always been about exposing a dangerous, unbiblical trend in contemporary Christianity; a slippery slope that, however well intentioned, is morphing into an even more dangerous theology.       

DYKSTRA'S EXPERIMENT
If you haven't heard Dykstra's sermon, THE EXPERIMENT" Part One, please listen to it. This will bring the next two sermon's by Tullian Tchividjian into sharp focus. 

To be fair, Eric Dykstra does manage to teach some biblical Truth in The Experiment: Part One. But he takes the Scriptures out of their historical context to make his main point-that we receive God's blessings  by obediently doing more, giving more, and trying harder. Worse, the main point Dykstra is trying to make in "The Experiment" is principly unbiblical. 

CONTEXT, CONTEXT, CONTEXT
In his sermon, Dykstra starts out by quoting a large passage in Scripture, Deuteronomy 28:1-14. He is right in that this was written to the Israelites; it is God's promise that He will gracefully bless Israel for their obedience. He is also correct in that God is immutable; He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. The problem is,  Dykstra does not explain the specific historical context of the Deuteronomy passage he quotes. At that time in history, Israel was operating under the "Old Covenant". 

TWO COVENANTS: THE OLD COVENANT AND THE NEW COVENANT

THE OLD COVENANT: BEGINNING WITH ABRAHAM
The "Old Covenant" I am referring to starts out with the Lord's promise to Abram. God chose Abram out of a pagan, idolatrous nation and set him apart to be the father of a great nation in which all the families of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12:1-3) Notice that it is God who initiated a relationship with Abram., not the other way around. By faith in the Lord and His promise Abram left everything behind, including his family, and went to the land of  Caanan, according to God's will. God ratifies (legally binds) that promise in the bizarre events in Genesis chapter fifteen.  It is must reading!

THE NATION OF ISRAEL
To make a long story short, God gives Abram a new name, Abraham. Abraham is the seed of Issac, Isaac is the seed of Jacob, and Jacob is the seed of twelve sons, who later become the heads of the twelve tribes that make up the nation of Israel. The nation of Israel was God's chosen people by which a Savior-Jesus Christ, would come and save people from their sins.  God's promise included a land for His chosen people to reside in. God makes it clear that He did not choose Israel because they were more godly or more obedient that surrounding nations, rather He chose Israel  because it pleased God to do so.

MOSES
 Let's jump ahead to the time of Moses, an Israelite. The Israelites are not yet in the land promised to Abraham-the Promised Land. The Lord appears to Moses in a flaming bush, and consecrates him (sets him apart) to be a great prophet; biblically speaking, a prophet is someone who was chosen by God to communicate His Word. The Lord God gave Moses the Law; in the Bible it is termed, "The Law of Moses". 

THE LAW OF MOSES
 The Law of Moses was a very specific and lengthy list of unique and bizarre ordinances and practices that must be strictly adhered to, by faith in the Lord. This included precise specifications for worshipping the Holy Lord, and how to  approach the Holy Lord for the forgiveness of sins. Much of Exodus, all of Leviticus, and much of Deuteronomy is "Law". "By faith" is critical because God hates empty rituals without a heart that knows and loves Him and wants to obey Him. 

WHY ALL THOSE BIZARRE LAWS?
The reason for all these very specific, very bizarre laws was because the Promised Land they were about to enter was pagan and its people worshipped idols, serving gods of their own invention. Thus the Lord God wanted to protect Israel from Syncratism-the blending of different religious systems into a new religious system.  

The Law of Moses then, was meant to keep the Promised Land of Israel distinct and set apart from surrounding pagan nations; it was the Lord's means to protect Israel, the country from which all the other nations of the world would be blessed by the promise of a Savior, ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

THE CONTEXT AND MEANING OF DEUTERONOMY 28:1-14 ESTABLISHED
 Now that I have set the historical context in Deuteronomy 28:1-14,  the meaning of those verses is obvious. Operating under the covenant God made with Abraham [what we call the "Old-Covenant" in retrospect], the nation of Israel is now about to enter The Promised Land. Deuteronomy 28:1-14 was God's promised blessing for obedience to the Law of Moses, meant to be obeyed with a heart that knows and loves the Lord.

GOD'S CURSES
 Notice that Dykstra failed to mention Deuteronomy 28:15-68. These are the curses that the Lord God of Israel would visit upon His people if they failed to obey the Law of Moses, and turn their hearts to serve and worship other gods. Open the link and read the list. It is a reminder that God is Holy; it is a stern warning as to what would happen to Israel if  Israel failed to obey the Lord's laws and ordinances. 

This is quite a long list of curses, more than four times as long as the list of blessings cited in Deuteronomy 28:1-14. But it was meant to emphasize the importance of faithful obedience to the Law of Moses. Yet in these curses are abounding mercy and grace, because the curses of God were meant to demonstrate Israel's inability to keep the Law of Moses perfectly-disobedience, and to bring repentance to Israel for dangerously straying from Him and loving other gods other than Him.

 As you read those curses in the link provided you will be appalled. It will shock and disturb you greatly to think that God would do this to His own people! When we read this passage in Scripture, we think God is wicked and evil, when in reality, we are the ones who are wicked and evil!  

TWISTING SCRIPTURE?
 So once again, Dykstra takes Scripture out of context to make an unbiblical point-that if we obey God than He will bless us when the exact opposite is true. He failed to point out the fact that God pursued and blessed Abram and Moses first, then they sought to obey by faith; God's unilateral pursuit of the disobedient, traitors, rebels, and lawbreakers is a dominant theme in all the Scriptures. Dykstra also failed to connect his assumption that if the blessings of Deuteronomy 28:1-14 applies today as it did back then, then the curses of Deuteronomy 28:15-68 necessarily have to apply today as it did back then also, but obviously they don't. So why don't they? Because we live under the "New Covenant" . 
   
THE NEW COVENANT AND "TYPES"
The Old Covenant and the long chain of historical events surrounding God's people were "types", in preparation for the coming Savior. This Savior would inaugurate a new and better covenant, making the Old Covenant obsolete.

WHAT IS A "TYPE"? 
Biblically speaking, a "type" is a foreshadowing of all the promises made by God to the nation of Israel, the substance, or "anti-type" of which was fulfilled in the Person, work, ministry, crucifixion, death, resurrection, and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ. Types are all over in the Old Testament; they are absolutely fascinating because you see God's sovereign hand at work in fulfilling His promises of the Old Covenant through actual historical events.

EXAMPLES OF "TYPES"       
I'll give you some examples of types that were ultimately fulfilled by the anti-type, Jesus Christ.The priesthood and the sacrificial system
that required the slaughter of thousands upon thousands upon thousands of bulls and goats "without blemish" for the forgiveness of sins under the Old-Covenant was a reminder that a perfect blood sacrifice was required for forgiveness, fulfilled by the blood sacrifice of the spotless and perfect Jesus Christ on the cross.

Here's another. A "prophet" was one who spoke God's Word to His people. A "priest" is someone who intercedes on behalf of God's people, bringing their prayers and intercessions to God. A "king"  is a sovereign ruler over his kingdom. Both prophet, priest, and king played critical roles under the Old Covenant. These three are types, fulfilled in Jesus Christ; He is Prophet=God's Word, Priest=always praying for His people, and King=sovereign ruler of all.

Here's another type that Jesus taught Nicodemus in John 3:14.
"And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life. " John 3:14. 
Here's an explanation of this type/anti-type. In Numbers 21:4-9 the disobedient Israelites were stuck in the wilderness, grumbling and complaining against the Lord. In response, the Lord sent a curse in the form of a hoard of snakes. Many Israelites were bitten and then died from this curse. So the Israelites, realizing they were sinning against the Lord, approached Moses and asked him to pray that the Lord would spare them from the snakes. God told Moses to fashion  a bronze serpent, put it on a pole, and anyone who had been bitten, if they looked upon the serpent, by faith, they would live.  

Jesus taught Nicodemus that when Moses raised the bronze serpent in the wilderness, that was a type to be fulfilled by Him. Anyone who was bitten by the snakes would be spared if they looked to the bronze serpent by faith and a repentant heart.  The anti-type of this type is the forgiveness of sins received by anyone with a repentant heart and faith (submitting to the Lordship of Christ) in the Person and work of Jesus Christ, who received the punishment that sinners deserve on the cross, and also raised up to new life in the resurrection and His ascention to Heaven.

Another type is the Old Covenant tabernacle. The tabernacle was a mobile church of sorts that was made to exact specifications that God gave to Moses. When the nomadic Israelites went from place to place, they packed up the tabernacle and brought it with them. The most sacred item of the tabernacle was the "ark of the covenant". This was housed in "The Most Holy" place, of the tabernacle; this place was where the Holy Lord's presence was accessed only once a year by the high priest to intercede for Israel's sins. If anyone went in there beside the priest, God would strike that person dead on the spot!

The tabernacle was so sacred that no one was allowed to even touch it. When the Israelites improperly transported it on an ox cart, and one of the Israelites put his hand on it to steady it, God struck him dead! The sacredness of the tabernacle and the ark of the covenant alerted the Israelites to the fact that God is Holy, man is sinner, and nobody had direct access to God unless specific requirements were met.  

This type was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. It says in John 1:14 speaking of Christ, "And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us". "Dwelt" is accurately translated, "Tabernacled" among us. Christ literally and symbolically tore the veil separating "The Holy" place from the "Most Holy Place" making access to God available to everyone who believes in Him, both Jews and non-Jews. This rendered the Old Covenant system obsolete; Christ was the substance and fulfillment of everything the Old Testament taught. Types testify that the entire Old Testament is all about Jesus Christ!        

JESUS ANNOUNCES THE NEW COVENANT 
Jesus taught His disciples the coming of a New Covenant during the Lord's Supper just prior to His crucifixion. The Apostle Paul explains the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, and also quote's Jesus announcment of the New Covenant in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, (emphasis added)
 23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.
THE NEW COVENANT IS RATIFIED BY CHRIST'S SACRIFICE ON THE CROSS
The symbolism of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper cannot be overlooked in the passage above. In the Old Testament the word "cup" was always associated with God's wrath against sin. The bread represents Christ's life and ministry. The cup represents Jesus blood sacrifice on the cross, and the outpouring of the Father's wrath upon His Son, satisfying His justice against sin while at the same time demonstrating mercy to all who put their trust in the Christian God.  Christ paid the sin debt of everyone who would ever trust God; the saints of the Old Testament had faith in God's promise of a coming Savior, while the New Testament saints look back in retrospect at the fulfillment of God's promise in Jesus Christ. 

The bloody and gruesome Old Covenant sacrificial system never atoned for the sins of God's people, it was merely a "type" fulfilled in Christ. The Lord's ratification (ratify=legally bind) of the Old Covenant with Abraham  is a "type" that was fulfilled in Christ by his blood sacrifice on the cross; in essence, Jesus Christ ratified (made it legally binding) the New Covenant by His crucifixion, being the spotless, sinless sacrifice that God demanded for sin. The book of Hebrews is a very complex, yet excellent book in the N.T. to study the types fulfilled in Christ, and the Old and New Covenants.   

LIVING UNDER THE NEW COVENANT
The implications of living under the New Covenant are astounding. All hostilities between Holy God and sinful man are eternally silenced to those who have faith in Christ. God is never impatient with us and disappointed with us when we are beset with sinful thoughts, words, and behaviors. God remembers our sins no more-past, present, and future-because Christ is our righteousness, and we receive that righteousness as a gift by faith. Our justification results not from having faith in our faith, but through the Object of our faith, Jesus Christ. In Christ we receive all of God's blessings, His approval of us is always based on what Christ has done for us, not according to what we can do for Christ. 


 OBEDIENCE BY FAITH
The New Testament call for obedience under the New Covenant is in a sense different from the call for obedience under the Old Covenant. In the Bible, justification has always been according to faith alone, apart from any works of the law, the Object of faith being God Himself. Even the laws of the Old Covenant were to be obeyed by faith in God. But we are no longer under the Old Covenant system where we have to strictly adhere to the methods and practices prescribed in the Law of Moses.  

For example, one of the Ten Commandments, the command to keep the Sabbath, no longer applies today because it is distinctively Old Covenant Law and does not diminish God's character by not adhering to it. All other commandments are intrinsically tied to the character of God and therefore are still binding.  Amazingly, the Sabbath is actually a type fulfilled in Christ, because Christ is our Sabbath rest. We continually rest in Him because of the work He has done for us.   

REPENTANCE, OBEDIENCE, AND THE NEW COVENANT
The call to repentance under the New Covenant is a call to stop trusting in yourself for your salvation and totally trust in Christ. Repentance is also continual, ongoing  self-examination of the sins in your life  and turning from specific sins and turning to Christ. 

The call to obey under the New Covenant is a call to believe the Gospel, obey the Gospel by trusting in Christ and His finished work. As Christians we try to keep God's laws, do good deeds and obey the Bible, and this is pleasing to God, but it is God who pursued us and changed our hearts in the first place, and we are bursting with gratitude for  saving us; the fruits of authentic saving faith are good works. We can never obey God's laws perfectly, not even remotely close.  But we never have to worry about not doing enough or sinning to much because Jesus obeyed the law for us as the second Adam. As Christians our cup is always full  to the brim with God's blessings. Even in our pain and suffering God grants us infinite, unfathomable storehouses of blessings, mercy, and grace that cannot be added to because of our obedience. 

THE DEBTOR'S ETHIC
One thing that concerns me about Eric Dykstra's teachings is that he instills a legalistic mindset into the hearts of Crossing attenders. God hates business transaction relationships; this is often termed "the debtor's ethic" in which we serve our hearts out for Christ's kingdom, but then we expect blessings in return. When things don't go our way, we often become bitter and accuse God. We think, "All these years I have been serving you and now you allowed this to happen to me." This is reminiscent of the older brother in Jesus' parable of the Prodigal Son.

TWO SERMONS THAT PROVIDE A STARK CONTRAST BETWEEN THE CROSSING'S "EXPERIMENT"    
These are two sermons I encourage you to listen to. (actually all sermons in this series are so rich with Gospel Truth, and emphasize the radical nature of the grace of Christ) The first of which is,  PICTURES OF GRACE: PART FIVE  Here pastor Tullian Tchividjian preaches on Jesus' parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector in Luke 18:9-14.

This is extremely important because I believe that if you listen to Eric Dykstra long enough, even if he is sincere, you might adopt the attitude of the Pharisee in the parable. Read the parable and listen to the sermon, ask Jesus to remove your blind spots and open your spiritual eyes so you can see the substantive difference between "The Experiment" sermon versus "Pictures of Grace: Part Five". It will really liberate you!   

The second sermon I encourage you to listen to is, PICTURES OF GRACE: PART SIX.
In part six of this series, Tullian Tchividjian preaches on Peter's denial of Christ as predicted by Christ Himself. Again, compare Jesus' teaching to the teaching that comes out of The Crossing. Ask Christ to speak to you through this sermon and reveal your blind spots. 

My last blog post should be available by the weekend. Until then, God bless you through the understanding of His Word, Casey

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