TED Talks

Adapted from Chapter 11 of Insincere, Irrelevant, Invalid.

So, what happens to the Church when you have upcoming generations of Americans who have been immersed in a gospel presentation based upon shaky foundations, post-modernism, prosperity, pragmatic marketing, a high view of man and its abilities, and a low view of Christ? You are left with nothing more than mere moral TED Talks.[1]

TED Talks are some of the most popular videos found on the internet today. These talks are catchy, informative, and straight to the point. These talks can vary from all subjects but usually are meant to spark ideas, inspire, or provide some form of self-improvement. Whatever niche you are in, whatever things you may enjoy doing or need help with, there is most likely a TED talk on that particular topic.  

These TED talks usually look to bring the topic or idea as the focus of the speech and are usually used for the audience to gather information about that specific topic or idea. This contradicts the Sunday Service, as the focal point of a sermon should be primarily focused on God. And although we the audience can gather information and gain knowledge from the Sunday Service, the goal of the sermon is for people to Worship. Too many people in the modern church believe that the Worship stops at the end of the singing, and the self-help tips and tricks begin with the preaching. Jonathon Edwards explains the goal in the Sunday Service as this,

“ God glorifies himself towards the creatures also [in] two ways: (1) by appearing to them, being manifested to their understanding; (2) in communicating himself to their hearts, and in their rejoicing and delighting in, and enjoying the manifestations which he makes of himself. . . . God is glorified not only by his glory’s being seen, but by its being rejoiced in. . . . [W]hen those that see it delight in it: God is more glorified than if they only see it; his glory is then received by the whole soul, both by the understanding and by the heart.”[2]

With the influx of these TED talks along with the rise of easily accessible content like the modern-day podcast found on such platforms as YouTube, Spotify and iTunes, the modern-day Christian has more than enough capabilities to truly make an impact upon the secular world. And I believe the greatest thing about these influences of TED talks and the like, is that it has pointed out that people in America really do have enough of an attention span to sit and listen to someone talk for an hour.

Tongue-in-cheek comment, but it is nonetheless true. It appears this TED talk style is just the kind of preaching modern Pastors across the nation seem to strive for. (Yet, the majority of TED talks based upon religion are the very talks that critique the Christian Church so harshly. But I digress.) But speeches that inspire, motivate, and engage, ultimately only point to the Speaker as being the one responsible for these actions and feelings being whipped up in the audience. Striking emotions with motivational stories of overcoming, seem to only elevate the speaker, while the exaltation of God’s word will only humble both the speaker and listener.  

Inspiration

Everyone needs inspiration. I can relate, sometimes life just gets you down, especially in the middle of a pandemic people just want to go listen to someone give them tips and tricks on how to make their life better. Which is fine, go do your Tony Robbins[3] thing, go get a kick in the rear from Dan Pena[4], learn how to sell from Grant Cardone[5]. But turning the Sunday Sermon into one of these self-help experiences at the expense of the Gospel is one of the most harmful things the American Church can bring upon this generation. To limit the Gospel to just mere self-help and wellness, “Be good” messages, does nothing but brings upon these younger generations a motivational moralism with no proper application to how we interact with the outside world around us.   

Reduce

In a world full of Tik-Tok, Instagram live videos being all the rage, American Generations seemed to have wanted our Gospel to be prepared the same way. As the older Generations reduced the outcome of the Gospel to mere Prosperity and reduced Christ to being just a mere man, so the newer generations have come along and added another piece to the reductionism puzzle, reducing the Gospel message to just mere forgiveness and moralism. Because of our lack of a proper Bibliology the American Church often views the Bible as a self-help book, filled with quick little stories about right and wrong, and then tack on that Jesus died for our sins and add a Sinner’s prayer at the end and what do you know, a sermon. The Gospel is more than just mere forgiveness of sins, and it is more than just being good. Because of our lack of understanding of who we really are, and who Christ is, and what he has done, we view the Bible as just a recipe that will make our lives just a tad better and easier.

Even if these newer mega-Churches deny preaching a Prosperity or Seeker Gospel, they still cannot help but seep some of these teachings into their Sunday Service. Instead of promising a wonderful life they use words such as “winning”, and instead of offering health and wealth from God, they offer ways to utilize the Bible teachings to help you “live life to the fullest”. All the while the Sunday service becomes nothing more than a mere motivational speech, designed to help one feel better about themselves and get thru the next week, month, or year. Example’s being Andy Stanley’s North Point Church’s new Sermon Series titled “Better Decisions,” in which Stanley provides the listener tips on how to decide and change their life or story, and how to “make better decisions by asking good questions.”[6] Or Steven Furtick’s life advice on how to “take back your imagination”, so you “can feel free again” from constant worry.[7] Or Brian Tome’s series on “new path’s” stating he is “in the job that he is in only because he likes helping people,” and “if you want to get to a different place this year, you are going to have to go to a different place this year,”  exegeting Matthew 7:13-14 in the process.[8]

Morals

All within the span of about 40 years the Church went from tithe so you can prosper, to be good so you can prosper, to be good because Jesus was good and you are just like him, to be good because that is how you can become a better you. Churches have even gone so far as to add services focusing on different enneagram types, finding out what number you are and how to interact with other numbers, to help us grow spiritually.[9] Morally, yes, it is a good thing to interact respectfully with others and to help us grow and do the right thing when presented with difficult situations. But coming from the Pulpit, mere moralism and self-help does both the believer nor the unbeliever no good.

I agree with John MacArthur when he states that, “Morality damns just as immorality”[10], and in reality, most of Jesus’ rebukes came against the very “Moral Arbiters” of that time period. We understand and know now that when we read the Gospels, most of the time Pharisees equal bad. But the problem is if we were to live in the first century Judea, we would have thought the total opposite. That is why the rebukes were so shocking because the Pharisees were the most “moral”, and “religious”, people, and yet Jesus blatantly addressed and rebuked them as “Hypocrites” on multiple occasions (Mat. 23:13-25). Mere moralism at the Pulpit containing “be good” or “do the right thing” stories will not help the unbeliever reach heaven any more than a Ponzi scheme will get them a new house.  

When reading the Bible correctly, there of course will always be a moral outcomes, rights, and wrongs. But this is always in reflection of who we are and who Christ is. Our morals should stem from God’s attributes and love toward us and hatred toward sin. It is never about “winning at life”, or how we can become the “best version of ourselves.” If anything, it is always about how we cannot win without Christ at all, and that in our morals as fallen sinners wrapped by a sinful nature, we will always do nothing but fail!

The commands in scripture of doing what is right and straying from doing what is wrong are great and are a part of our sanctification by which we continue to grow in the Spirit to become more and more like Christ. But we can never have sanctification without a true justification. To properly understand why the moralistic teachings in the Bible are important we need to fully understand who we are with and without Christ. The Gospel.

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[1] Ted.com. Technology Entertainment and Design talks are presentations and short talks to inform and educate. The most popular TED talks mostly include presentations on self improvement.

[2] Jonathan Edwards, The “Miscellanies,” ed. by Thomas Schafer, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 13 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994), p. 495. Miscellany #448; see also #87, pp. 251–252; #332, p. 410; #679 (not in the New Haven Volume)

[3] https://www.tonyrobbins.com/

[4] https://www.danpena.co.uk/

[5] https://cardoneuniversity.com/

[6]Andy Stanley. “Better Decisions, Fewer Regrets, Part 1: Deciding Our Way Forward // Andy Stanley.” YouTube, uploaded by Andy Stanley, 4 Jan. 2021, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGTO7kVjVWw&list=PLjX09Tk7xvkj98rk1cpXdvJa3wv_lLVSz.

[7] Official Steven Furtick. “You Can’t Win In Isolation | Pastor Steven Furtick.” YouTube, uploaded by Official Steven Furtick, 20 Sept. 2019, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J88U7UrDEZc.

[8] Crossroads Church. “Getting Your Life on a Path That Works.” YouTube, uploaded by Crossroads Church, 2 Jan. 2021, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgVOfS4sF6o.

[9]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8N5fcKU7kDA&list=PLKHC_nEUP-dqpvrMiqAVEf5JOgNs0sGXa

[10] https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/80-257/The-Deadly-Dangers-of-Moralism

Kingdom Interlinear Section 2a Review

A review of The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures, in reference to John 1:1.  

John 1:1 is often seen as the most crucial point in refuting or affirming Christ’s Deity.  The 3rd clause of the verse (better known as John 1:1c “and the Word was God“) has been under severe scrutiny for quite literally an eternity. Many Muslims and Jehovah’s Witnesses use this text to show mistranslation, or corruption in translation, stating that since the Greek word for God θεὸς (Theos) does not have the definite article ὁ (ho) preceding it, the phrase should be translated in English with an indefinite article as “and the Word was a god.” Let’s dig deeper into the JW’s own Kingdom Interlinear and review their reasoning behind translating the clause with an indefinite article. 

When turning to the Appendix section 2a of the “Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures”, the Jehovah’s Witnesses provide details on why its translators chose to render John 1:1c “a god” instead of “God.”

     Section 2a starts out by giving 8 examples of how other translators have also translated John 1:1c differently from  the standard “and the Word was God.”

 One of eight examples phrases it as “and the Word was divine,” another translates the clause as, “and a god was the Word,” two examples contain the “word(or logos) was a God,” and one of the examples is their very own New Word Translation version of John 1:1c, “and the Word was a god.” The last 3 of the 8 examples are all taken from a  man known as Johannes Greber.  

    Greber was a Roman Catholic priest in the 1920s,  who became interested in the Spirit world and often had communication with spirit beings who spoke through his wife (a medium), and these spirit beings would inform Johannes that the Bible was full of errors. His translations read as follows, “and a god (or, of a divine kind) was the Word,” “and godlike sort was the Logos,” and “and a god was the Logos.”

     I’m under the impression that these 8 examples, (one of which is their own translation), are supposed to be viewed as a nail in the coffin, supporting that 2000 years of church history have been completely wrong and we have all been brainwashed or fooled into believing the Deity of Christ.  Obviously for the sake of brevity they only chose these 8 examples, but within these 8 examples supporting the Watchtowers translation of the last clause of John 1:1, three came from a Catholic priest who had constant communication into the Spirit realm, and one being its own translation.  (Personally, I probably would have thought that one through a little bit more, or maybe only listed 4 examples.) With that being said, are these 8 examples really supposed to convince the Trinitarian that there could be another possible way to translate John 1:1 rather than how the KJV, NKJV, and the other versions translate the clause, even using its own translation as an example?

    Next in the Interlinear, we have 4 paragraphs defending the proceeding 8 examples, and explaining why the clause should not be translated as “was God.”  The first of the paragraphs are as follows and I quote, 

     “These translations use such words as “a god,” “divine,” or “god-like” because the Greek word θεὸς (the-os’) is a singular predicate noun occurring before the verb and is not preceded by the definite article.  This is anarthrous the-os’.  The God with whom the Word, or Logos, was originally is designated here by the Greek expression ο θεὸς, that is, the-os’ preceded by the definite article ho.  This is an articular construction of the noun points to an identity, a personality, whereas a singular anarthrous predicate noun preceding the verb points to a quality about someone.  Therefore, John’s statement that the Word, or Logos was “a god” or “divine” or “godlike” does not mean that he was the God with whom he was.  It merely expresses a certain quality about the Word, or Logos, but it does not identify him as one and the same as God himself.”

     Now, as a Trinitarian, I agree with the teaching that this is a qualitative singular noun that describes the subject noun.  Also, any true Greek scholar would also affirm this teaching.  All Orthodox Trinitarians agree that the Word is not the same person as who He is facing in the second clause of verse 1 (καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν). This may show the ignorance on the part of the Watchtower as to what the Trinity exactly is, or perhaps a blatant misrepresentation, as to argue against a straw man.  Either way, let’s continue with the second and third paragraphs of section 2A.

   “In the Greek text, there are many cases of a singular anarthrous predicate noun preceding the verb, such as those listed in the accompanying chart.  In these places, translators insert the indefinite article “a” before the predicate noun in order to bring out the quality or characteristic of the subject.  Since the indefinite article is isterted before the predicate noun in such texts, with equal justification the indefinite article “a” is inserted before the anarthrous θεὸς in the predicate of John 1:1 to make it read “a god.”  The Sacred scriptures confirm the correctness of this rendering.” 

The section continues, 

     “In his article “Qualitative Anarthrous Predicate Nouns: Mark 15:39 and John 1:1,” published in the journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 92, Phildelphia, 1973, on p. 85 Philip B Harner said that such clauses as the one in John 1:1, “with anarthrous predicate preceding the verb, are primarily qualitative in meaning.  They indicate that the logos has the nature of theos. There is no basis for regarding the predicate theos as definite.”  On p. 87 of his article, Harner concluded: “In John 1:1 I think that the qualitative force of the predicate is so prominent that the noun cannot be regarded as definite.”

     Now here we have an example of prevarication.  Cherry-picking at its finest. Philip Harner is a trinitarian scholar.   Let’s look at another piece of Harner’s same article the Watch Tower quotes.

   “In all of these cases, the English reader might not understand exactly what John was trying to express.  Perhaps     the clause could be translated, “the Word had the same nature as God.”  This would be one way of representing     John’s thought, which is, as i understand it, that ho logos, no less than ho theos, had the nature of theos.”

     As we can see from this other section of the article, Harner fully understood the weight which the grammar in John 1:1c carries, as it relates to the deity of Christ.  

The fourth and final paragraph of Section 2a of the Interlinear is as follows:

    “Following is a list of instances in the gospels of Mark and John where various translators have rendered singular anarthrous predicate nouns occurring before the verb with an indefinite and qualitative status of the subject nouns.”

The Watchtower then goes on to list 14 occurrences (2 from Mark and 12 from John) of where this anarthrous noun precedes the verb and has been translated as indefinite.

But before we go through each of these 14 occurrences, let’s take a quick look at the Greek grammar of John 1:1c.

    Kai theos   en    ho    logos 

Conjunction, noun (without the definite article), verb, definite article, noun

Literally from left to Right –and God was the Word

The Reason we translate “backwards” in English is that we place the subject before the direct object.  In Greek, word order doesn’t matter, basic Greek grammar will tell you what the subject and direct object nouns are. In this case, the subject is “logos” since it contains the definite article.  “Theos” precedes the verb and doesn’t have a definite article in front of it, therefore it is the direct object and qualitative of the subject.  

Now back to the Interlinear.

The 14 occurrences of a noun not preceded by a definite article, and are translated with an indefinite article from the Interlinear are as follows,

“Mark 6:49 an apparition

Mark 11:32 a prophet

John 4:19 a prophet

John 6:70 a slanderer

John 8:44 a manslayer

John 8:44 a liar

John 8:48 a Samaritan

John 9:17 a prophet

John 10:1 a thief

John 10:13 a hired man

John 10:33 a man

John 12:6 a thief

John 18:37 a king

John 18:37 a king”

Now lets examine the Greek Grammar in each example, keeping in mind the grammar found in the third clause of John 1:1.

Mark 6:49 an apparition Conjunction, noun nominative, verb, conjuction, verb

Mark 11:32 a prophet Conjunction,noun, verb

John 4:19 a prophet Conjunction, noun , verb , pronoun

John 6:70 a slanderer Conjunction, preposition, personal pronoun, Adjective, adjective, verb

John 8:44 a manslayer noun, noun, verb, preposition, noun

John 8:44 a liar conjuction, noun, verb, conjuction, article, noun, posessive pronoun

John 8:48 a Samaritan conjunction, noun, verb,possessive pronoun

John 9:17 a prophet conjunction, noun, verb

John 10:1 a thief pronoun, noun, verb, conjunction, noun

John 10:13 a hired man conjunction, noun, verb

John 10:33 a man conjunction, conjunction, possessive pronoun, noun, verb

John 12:6 a thief conjunction, noun, verb

John 18:37 a king adverb, noun, verb, possessive pronoun

John 18:37 a king  conjunction, noun, verb, possessive pronoun

Notice how none of these passages contain the same exact grammar used in John 1.  Wouldn’t the nail in the coffin for the Jehovah’s Witnesses to prove their point would be to find a passage containing the same exact grammar and show how the Trinitarians translate the passage incorrectly? It would have made more sense to do that than just finding anarthrous pronouns to prove the point. Surely there must be one other example in the New Testament where an author uses this same exact Greek grammar found in John 1:1.

Luckily for the Jehovah’s Witnesses there is one passage that contains the same exact grammar as the third clause of John 1. Yet the Kingdom Interlinear doesn’t even reference this passage. The verse we will be looking at is contained in the second chapter of Mark verse 28. 

“So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

Or in the Interlinear Greek

ωστε      κυριος   εστιν  ο   υιος      του       ανθρωπου    και        του      σαββατου

so then    Lord        is    the Son    (article)      of man        also     of the        sabbath.

Wait, look at what we have here, conjunction (ωστε, hoste), anarthrous nominative singular noun (κυριος, kyrios), verb indicative active (εστιν, estin), definite article (ο, ho), singular nominative noun and the subject of the sentence ( υιος, huios) verb (και, kai) the definite article (του, tou) and noun (σαββατου, sabbatou). And actually, the (του ανθρωπου,  of man) affects the grammar here none whatsoever. We could end it at Son or add the“tou anthropou” and the grammar here would not change, it would still mean the same thing.

The same exact grammar here is found in John 1, now if the JW would be consistent in translation, they would have translated this passage “So then the Son of Man is A Lord even of the Sabbath.” But why is this not translated like this? Could the translators of the New World Translation have been biased against Trinitarian passages when translating? 

Personally, it seems fishy that the translators of the Kingdom Interlinear would purposefully translate this clause differently or (correctly) when compared to John 1:1. For JW’s, translating the third clause of John could be catastrophic when witnessing to those who may actually believe that the Word is God.

Why Worship?

Adapted from Insincere, Irrelevant, Invalid 2022 Christian Publishing House. Releasing Soon!

Why should we Worship?

The answer is not as simple as it may seem. The answer to this question entails about the creator of the universe and His creation. It shows our relationship to Jesus and God the Father. It boasts all of God’s glorious attributes, stemming from the action of one word: “Worship.” But first, to understand these answers to the question of “Why should we worship?” we must define what is worship.

Proskuneo is the most common Greek word for Worship in the New Testament. It is used 60 times in the New Testament. (It is taken from two words toward [pros] and to kiss [kuneo] according to Vines Expository dictionary.) The literal definition of proskuneo is “to make obeisance, to make reverence to.” Or, to kiss, like a dog licking his master’s hand, to fawn or crouch to, homage (do reverence to, adore.) This humbling definition of this word hits home when put in context in the scriptures, and how we are supposed to “proskuneo” the being of God. Some examples are found in such passages as Matthew 14:33 where Jesus walks on water to the boat on which the disciples were and then proceeds to calm the storm. After seeing Jesus calm the storm those on the boat worshipped Him. There is also Jesus, being tempted by the devil in Matthew 4:10, which He quotes Deuteronomy 6:13, “Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.” And in Revelation 4 where John sees God sitting on His throne and the four living creatures and 24 elders are worshipping or “prokuneo-ing” Him. We are all also to give Jesus this same kind of Proskuneo in Revelation 5. (This passage further proves Christ’s deity as we are commanded to only worship the Lord alone in Deut. 6:13, yet Jesus receives this same worship in Revelation 5 where all creatures on heaven and on earth bow down and worship “To Him who sits on the Throne and to the Lamb.”)

Another Greek word used that is not rendered worship but means, “to bend,” especially of bending the knees in religious veneration, is kampto. This Greek word is used 4 times in the New Testament, all in the form of religious worship. Examples of this form of bending the knee towards the Father are Romans 14:11 in which Paul quotes Isaiah 45:23 saying, “Every knee will bow before me, every tongue will confess to God.” Then Paul also states this about Jesus in the Carmen Christi, Philippians 2:10 saying, “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven on earth and under the earth.”

The word “Worship is also found littered throughout the OT as well and Vines Expository Dictionary explains the word for worship in Hebrew as this,

“(Sahah #7812), ‘to worship, prostrate oneself, bow down.’ This word is found in Modern Hebrew in the sense of ‘to bow or stoop,’ …The act of bowing down in homage is generally done before a superior or a ruler. Thus, David ‘bowed’ himself before Saul (1 Sam. 24:8). Sometimes it is a social or economic superior to whom one bows, as when Ruth ‘bowed’ to the ground before Boaz (Ruth 2:10). In a dream, Joseph saw the sheaves of his brothers ‘bowing down’ before his sheaf (Gen. 37:5, 9-10). -is used as the common term for coming before God in worship, as in 1 Sam. 15:25 and Jer. 7:2. Sometimes it is in conjunction with another Hebrew verb for bowing down physically, followed by ‘worship,’ as in Exod. 34:8: ‘And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshiped.”

As we see in both the Old and New Testament the words used of worship are very physical. To kneel before someone is a very humiliating and humbling thing to do. When one person kneels to another, all the attention is focused on the other. Throughout these Old and New Testament references, we never see the focus being delivered both ways. When someone kneels towards someone, it is never for their own personal satisfaction or gratitude. The focus is always pointing to one certain person. Islam requires a ritual of prostration five times daily as one of the Pillars of their faith. And even Hindu’s bow down before their gods. It is an act of reverence and self-denial.

Now, I am not saying that every Christian should kneel while worshipping. But that we need be constantly reminded and conscious of what a humbling and submissive action Worship is. But yet, at its core Worship is of the heart, it is a mindset. Worship does not just merely equal physicality. Kneeling or bowing does not equal Worship, nor does kissing equal Worship. The focus upon the physicality inside these words is there for us to understand what a humbling thing Worship is and exactly who we are compared to the one we are “kissing towards.”

While worshiping we must turn all focus, all attention upon Christ and what He did for us, “kneeling and kissing” towards Him, “bowing and bending our knees” in complete adoration of Him and what he has accomplished on our behalf, whilst understanding exactly how terrible of sinners we truly are. To properly engage in any corporate worship service, is to correctly understand our Human nature, and God’s Holy, Just, Merciful, and Loving nature. It is never to point to ourselves or to simply entertain us.

Worship is The End

John Piper says, “Worship should never be pursued as a means to achieve something other than worship. Worship is never a step on our way to any other experience. It is not a door through which we pass to get anywhere. It is the endpoint, the goal.” Sometimes this is how we can view worship. Just a means to get us into a better mood, just a means for us to get hyped for the sermon, or just a means to get some sort of goosebumps out of the music. And that is totally wrong! Voddie Baucham says, “Our Worship is not a response to How Jesus makes us feel. Our worship is a response to Jesus’ worth regardless of how we feel.” Worship should never be a means to get people energized for the next part of the service or to get people to clap their hands, jump up and down and not fall asleep like some sort of pep rally, it should be the end! John MacArthur sums it best like this, “The idea of worship is that one prostrates himself before a superior being with a sense of respect, awe, reverence, honor, and homage. In a Christian context, we simply apply this to God and prostrate ourselves before Him in respect and honor, paying Him the glory due His superior character.” Worship is one of greatest privileges we can have as Christians, especially being able to share this experience of prostration and awe with our fellow brothers and sisters corporately.

Worship Together

In Hebrews 10:25 the believers are called to assemble together for worship. Corporate Worship is such a great privilege for the believer, and by sitting at home streaming a service on the internet each week we remove ourselves from that privilege and edification of gathering with other brothers and sisters. J Clyde Turner on Hebrews 10:24-25 states, “God has appointed worship in His churches as a means by which His people may grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, and may impart spiritual benefits to others; and he warns against neglect of this sacred privilege and responsibility:” One of the most plain teachings about corporate worship and why we worship in the New Testament is Colossians 3:16, which states,

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (ESV)

In this compact verse, we have a plain teaching of why we worship, to teach, admonish, and to give thanks to God. Who is the object our or worship? God. Who is the audience? Believers. And why do we worship? For teaching and admonishment of the saints. These are the very basics of what New Testament corporate worship was, and it seems that in some churches in America today that these basics are pushed to the back burner, as more and more focus comes upon feelings and production rather than teaching, admonishment, and thankfulness to God. Instead of focusing upon what we think unbelievers and even other Christians may enjoy in a worship service, the bigger question should be, “How does God want to be Worshipped?”

RPW

When speaking of regulating the corporate Worship service, we often see this as being a legalist affair. Just a list of things we can and cannot do during a service. But the aim is to not take away things we may enjoy during a service, it is to regulate the service to be as Biblical as possible and to help us grasp the goal of why we worship to begin with. We as Christians gladly admit that our walk should be founded and guided by the Bible, yet when questioned with how our Worship should be conducted on Sundays, the Bible is one of the last places we seem to turn. We seem to think with all the technological advances and flashing lights and big screens we have now, the Bible is just too outdated to tell us how we should be running our services now. The problem is God is very upfront on how he desires to be worshipped. When worshipping the focus is not upon what is pleasing to us, but what is pleasing to God. And although we may or may not add more instruments, lights, and other productions, we must differentiate between the elements of Worship and the circumstance of Sunday Worship.

The circumstances of Worship can be seen in technological advances through the years. Pews, microphones, lights and even wallpaper are all circumstances of worship. Just because the early church didn’t have an HVAC or even a sound system while worshiping doesn’t mean that we should sit around in the freezing cold yelling at the top of our lungs so that the people in the back can hear us, because that’s exactly how the early fathers conducted Worship. No, the circumstances surrounding corporate worship will always and constantly be changing throughout history. But the elements should never change.

There are clearly precedents set out for the believer regarding worship in the Bible. Paul regulates corporate worship in 1 Cor. 14:40 to an orderly and decent fashion. He also regulates the Corinthians again earlier in 1 Cor. 14 when limiting the spiritual gifts as to not cause confusion. He goes on to regulate the Colossians’ “self-made religion” and “worship of Angels” in Colossians 2. Elsewhere in the Bible we see places where improper worship is rejected by God. We see examples such as Nadab and Abihu’s strange fire in Lev. 10, Cains offering in Gen. 4, and the Pharisees worshipping to their will instead of His (Matt 15).

The passages we have already presented (Acts 2:42, Col. 3:16) contain the elements in our corporate gathering of worship that need not be changed or added upon. And these elements are constantly scattered across the Bible, as to confirm their need to be incorporated in any worship service. We are to read, teach and preach the Scriptures in 1 & 2 Timothy, sing hymns, Psalms, and spiritual songs (Eph. 5:19), pray and give thanks (Matt. 21:13), Baptize in Acts 2:38, Matt. 28:19 and partake of the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). Whenever we start to add or take away, or even cheapen or degrade the corporate service to something less than what God has prescribed how he be worshiped, we are not giving proper reverence and awe to Him. All the elements could even be there, just as in the Pharisaical Worship in Matt 15 or Saul’s offering in 1 Samuel 15:22, but without the right heart, we are creating a false idol, we are worshipping another God all the while lessening and being untruthful about the God who commands and deserves this worship in the first place.

Worship in the 10 Commandments

It’s interesting to point out that even in the first 4 of the 10 commandments God prescribes how He Himself should be worshipped. First being, no Gods before Him. Only He deserves this true Worship. Second, no carved images are to be made and worshipped of Him. No man has seen God, and any image or depiction we try to create or replicate Him will forever fall short. Third, we shall not take the Lord’s name in Vain. Using His name not only as a swear is wrong, but we are to treat the name of God with reverence and honor. And lastly the fourth, keeping the Sabbath Holy. God’s day of rest was to be remembered throughout all eternity. Not only for His rest after the creation of the universe, but for His redemptive work as well (Deut. 5:15). Although there seems to be a date change to the first day of the week in the New Covenant (Acts 20:7), the fact remains the same that the Sabbath is here to constantly remind us of our rest we have in Christ Jesus and the promises of God, looking forward to an eternal rest we will one day in God. When we gather together each week, we need be reminded to Worship the true God, not just a mere image we have created, treat His name with reverence and honor, and to use the day as a way to remind ourselves of the hope and rest that we may one day have for all eternity because of Christ’s work on the cross.

Conclusion: Fear and Trembling for the Believer

As you can see Worship is so much more than just merely singing for 30 minutes on a Sunday morning. It is for teaching and correction in corporate worship, it is thankfulness for what He has done for us, it is the reason we were created. Nothing brings more glory to Him than when we delight in his words and commandments and willfully treasure Him above all things. It is never about us or trying to impress the unbeliever so that perhaps he will come back the next Sunday.

The Bible states that as Christians we are fearers of the Lord. Are we really sending that message to the unbelievers when we gather for worship on Sunday mornings?

In Isaiah 6, the prophet Isaiah is given a firsthand glimpse of what heavenly worship is like in the throne room of God. In verse 1 we see God filling the temple with the train of His robe. Indicating there be not any room left for any other gods. In verse 2 we see the seraphim covering their feet and eyes with their wings. Richard Phillips says this about the 2nd verse, “though they were beings of great glory, they covered their faces in awe of God. They covered feet in creaturely humility, just as Moses had to remove his sandals before the burning bush. They also were flying, indicating their readiness to perform God’s will without hesitation. Awe, humility, readiness to serve-this is the angels’ example of how the sovereign God is to be worshipped.” In verse 3 we see these angels proclaiming “Holy, Holy Holy!” Indicating the God-centeredness of heavenly worship. And in verse 5 Isaiah states, “I am undone! I am a man of unclean lips!” Phillips goes on to say again, “If Holy angels must cover their faces for the glory of God, how much more should men fall prostrate as sinners before so holy a Lord!” The fear Isaiah must have had to be present in such a holy place must have been astounding, and you can hear his fear and trembling being in the presence of the lord in verse 5. Was God trying to make His throne room “user friendly” or “easier to connect” in Isaiah 6? Or do churches now hold such a low view of God?

Another example in the Old Testament describing approaching God in worship is found in the Psalms where the Psalmist in chapter 2 verse 11 tells us to “Worship the Lord with reverence and rejoice with trembling.” Is this how we are approaching our Sunday Worship? Is this type of reverence and awe and fear of the mighty and wondrous power of God flowing from us each Sunday morning? Jesus tells the woman at the well to worship in Spirit and Truth in John 4:24. In other words, is our mind and heart fully engaged in the reverence in awe due only Him? Are our emotions stemming directly from the knowledge of truth found and secured in Christ? Is our knowledge something so puffed up that it does not allow our heart to be pure in understanding and lavishing Him? Or is our Worship just simply a marketing tool used to reach the unbeliever, a tool used to merely engage the audience to get them primed for the next course in the Sunday Service meal?

The Worship of God on Sunday mornings is clearly to be tailored to that of the believer only. The problem with tailoring the Church service to unbelievers is that we then not only tailor the music, the lights, and entertainment to their liking, but it is also that we end up tailoring the message and ultimately the Bible to their liking as well. By trying to make Church as comfortable as possible, the church itself in turn has no choice but to make the preaching just as comfortable. It’s a slippery slope that one cannot help but slide down once we take the Gospel and try to turn it into a product that the consumer can easily purchase and digest. It seems as if most churches in this movement seem to rather focus on the “Wonderful Plans” God has for our life, as well as presenting the Christian life as something that comes with such ease and comfort. If you can turn the Church into something entertaining by giving the listeners something that doesn’t offend them, makes them feel good, and that they can tolerate, well then there’s a higher chance of them returning. Scratch them where they itch, and you will have a returning customer. When we cheapen the service to just mere flash and entertainment and treat the Gospel without being in awe of Gods power in how he draws men to him, treating the Gospel and Church just as a product that needs to be packaged a certain way, just adding some sugar so the medicine can go down, it’s no wonder these younger generations consider Christians to be Insincere, Irrelevant, and Invalid. It is because we are.

I leave this section with a quote from Jonathan Cruse,

“In true Christian worship, we actually meet with God. Let that thought sink in for a moment: we meet with God. When the saints gather on God’s appointed day and worship Him in the way that He has directed, God is actually there. We literally come into His presence… Because we meet with God, everything changes. Corporate worship becomes the greatest means of making us into what we were always meant to be: the image-bearers of God.”

Deconstruct or Reconstruct?

Adapted from Insincere, Irrelevant, Invalid. Releasing 2022.

It is still amazing how so many of the older Generation Christians still cannot comprehend why so many of the younger generations are leaving the church, or “Deconstructing”. I mean first off, have you ever met anyone who has just Deconstructed? They will be sure to let you know within the first 10 seconds of meeting that they have Deconstructed. It’s almost as bad as someone who does CrossFit or someone who has just turned Vegan. It’s no secret or big caper as to why these younger generations are leaving the Church. They will gladly tell you the exact reasons why.  Whereas in the older generations it was frowned upon to bring up any political or religious topics, the one thing that the younger generations do have going for them is that they willingly engage in these topics and welcome these conversations. The openness and inclusion of all people’s beliefs and feelings do present the world with a great opportunity for dialogue, whether hostile or not.

Most will always point to a couple bad experiences they have had in some Churches, followed by doctrines that just didn’t quite make sense to them as their reasoning behind questioning and turning from the faith. These younger Generations have quite literally grown up in chaos, and when they turn to the one entity that should be able to hold sway in their life, all they get is a bunch of insincerity, irrelevant advice, and criticism from those who have invalidated themselves long ago. And when they leave the Church, they let those in the Church and older Generations know exactly why they did what they did, and yet even then, they are met back with a resounding brush of the hand and swept to the wayside.

The younger Generations have literally been told their whole lives that there is no truth, and the Church and Gospel are not sufficient to provide any rational answers to their questions or certainty. By shifting the focus upon man and man’s abilities instead of God and the Gospel, the Modern-day Church itself has proclaimed the latter without the help of the Atheists or unbelievers.

The self-empowerment of the Prosperity Gospel and the Seeker Sensitive movement, (no matter how big or small) that has grown these megachurches, is the exact same reason these younger generations are leaving in droves just as fast. It is no wonder so much emotionalism, and self-centeredness are what have been drawing these younger generations into the Church because that is all they have ever had to put a stake in. Likewise, it is no wonder that the same emotionalism and self-centeredness is the very thing that is causing so many younger people to Deconstruct. When external focus shifts to the internal focus, of course so many will gladly walk away from the Church and in their own words, “Be themselves”. Deconstructionism is the only logical conclusion from the aftermath and residue of the Seeker and Prosperity Gospel movements. And add on a few experiences of abuses in the Church, legalism, and hypocrisy and you have a full-on recipe for apostasy. One could argue that the Seeker Sensitive Movement and Prosperity Gospel are responsible for this new fad of Deconstructionism.

The growing fad of “Deconstructing” is become increasingly popular and accepted by the world and by some even within the Church. Some of the more prominent names of this new Deconstructionism movement are former Hillsong Worship Leader Marty Sampson, former Desiring God writer Dr. Paul Maxwell, and Rhett and Link from the popular YouTube show Good Mythical Morning.

Reforming or Destroying?

Deconstructionism is simply the process of rejection of parts or all of Christianity by former “Christians”. In short, we all slowly construct different beliefs and views throughout our lives, and when one starts to question, doubt, and ultimately reject some or all those views, it is called Deconstruction, as one is literally tearing down or destroying one’s old views or beliefs.

A lot of comparison has been flowing in from former Christians, placing the Reformation and Deconstructionism in the same category when there is no comparison at all. The Reformation put God’s word back into its proper place in the Church by rebuking extra-biblical teachings and traditions of the Catholic Church, a type of re-construction, while Deconstruction puts oneself in authority, based on one’s own personal preference in the search for truth, slowly pulling apart one’s faith, one doctrine at a time, until there is essentially nothing left, a type of destruction.

In the Reformation, young men were fighting for their lives to have the Bible written in their own language, and to have the Bible put back in authority over the Church. In this Modern-day Deconstruction phase that younger generations are becoming enamored with, young people are being constantly praised and touted as heroes, as they are not only abandoning the faith but absolute truth.

Doctrines such as Hell, Sexuality, and even Sin and Salvation can make some uncomfortable. But instead of offering answers to these specific questions and doctrines, Deconstruction only gives one an easy way out, leading one into “openness” and “uncertainty”. Most of the time these issues are twisted to conform with the cultural times in which one lives. Got Questions states, “The vast majority who claim to be deconstructing move with the flow of their surrounding culture, not against it. This movement demands “safe space” to ask difficult questions. Yet, ironically, modern deconstruction often settles for easy, comfortable answers. Or it simply chooses which aspects of faith to retain based on personal preference.”[1]

Bob Weathers on his website, states that this Deconstructionism is only just the beginning as the Bible has warned about these things. He states, “The abdication of absolute truth in our postmodern culture fuels an abandonment of the faith. That is, it is impossible to faithfully follow Christ while denying absolute truth at the same time (John 14:6, Eph. 4:21, John 8:31-32). The Bible foretells this escalating defection, picturing a time when false beliefs and anemic Christianity will be increasingly exposed while, at the same time, true beliefs and the credibility of Christ will be increasingly validated (1 Tim. 4:1-2, Luke 8:13).”[2]

Rhett McLaughlin from Good Mythical Morning in their ever-popular Ear Biscuits YouTube videos and podcasts which detail their own deconstruction, states “All truth is Spiritual”, and Spirituality is defined by “anything that enriches, deepens and enhances my human experience.”[3]  

It is this very thing that older generations do not understand. Those who Deconstruct their views and beliefs are often accused of being “truth deniers,” but the problem is not the denial of truth, it is the inability to define an absolute truth. And so, it is with words such as “purpose” and “meaning” in reference to the human life experience. They are not denying that there is no purpose or meaning for life, but there will always be an inability to properly define, or have that purpose fulfilled. This is what happens when the modern church elevates man above God. Man’s ability to see himself as an ultimate source for his own truth will always end up in chaos.

Deconstruction is nothing more than the easy “go-to” old saying, “I’m not religious, I’m just spiritual.” And how we have gotten to this point in the Church should not be surprising to anyone. Young Generations have felt immense pressure coming from all sides growing up, and it’s no wonder why “breaking free,” and “being themselves,” by leaving the Church is so captivating. No more legalistic pressures and hypocrisy coming from Pastor’s and the Church leaders, and no more pressure from their peers to fit in and become a part of their surrounding culture.

Deconstructing is nothing more than a scapegoat of subjective comfort and preferences in times of discomfort and absolutes under the ruse of the pursuit of meaning and truth. And to blatantly dismiss this new movement would be Insincere, Irrelevant, and Invalid.


[1] https://www.gotquestions.org/deconstruction.html

[2] http://www.bobweathers.net/paul-c-maxwell-abandoning-christianity-and-why-doubting-is-not-the-same-thing-as-defecting/

[3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQGwPQHlTjs

The Gospel in Noah’s Ark

There are many types and shadows of our Lord Jesus Christ found in the Old Testament. From the serpent’s head being crushed (Gen. 3:15) to Abraham and Isaac (Gen. 22), to Jonah being in the belly of the whale (Jonah 1).  But one of those stories we are going to focus upon today is the atoning work of Christ foreshadowed by the story of Noah’s Ark.

Growing up in Sunday School or Children’s Church we heard this story hundreds of times, “The world was bad, Noah and his family were the only ones who were found righteous, God let out the waters from the heavens, destroyed the world, sent a rainbow promised to never flood the world again, boom! Done!”  But within this story, there is a beautiful picture of the Gospel, God’s love for his children, and His hatred for sin. I am not going to walk through the text verse by verse, as I am going to assume everyone reading will be somewhat familiar with this story.  I will be brief and extract 3 short comparisons between the Ark of Noah and the Gospel of our Lord.

Only One

The first point we can bring out from the story of Noah’s Ark is that there was only one door (Gen. 6:16).  Into this Ark Noah has prepared for his family, Noah was commanded to only put one door, the only one way onto the Ark to be saved from the waters.  Just as there is only one way onto the Ark, so there is only one way to eternal life, that is, Jesus Christ.

Jesus having the same eternal nature of ho theos (John 1:1), willingly took upon the nature of a servant (Phil. 2:7), made lower than angels (Heb. 2:7-9), gave up His life on a cross, rose again so that we may have eternal life (1 Cor. 15:3-4).  He is the only one who could satisfy God’s wrath and clothe us in His perfect righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21).  Christ, Himself states this about His mediation between sinners such as us, and a holy, just, righteous Father, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me” (John 14:6).  Jesus Christ is the only true way to be saved from our deserving judgment, just as one door is the only way onto the Ark.

Only Some

The second point we can pull out is that not everyone was saved.  We need to note that God found favor in Noah and no one else.  Was Noah a sinner? Of course. Was the rest of the world also full of sinners? Yes, of course. After the flood, when the Lord promised to never again destroy all creatures, He stated that “the human heart is evil from childhood” (Gen. 9:20-12). You see, all men are evil sinners totally depraved and separated from God (Rom. 3:23) and deserve nothing but the Father’s Wrath (Rom. 6:23).  So then, how was Noah declared righteous? God found favor in Him (Gen. 6:8).  The Hebrew word used here is chen, which can also be the same word used of grace.  The next verse (9) goes on to say that Noah was righteous and walked faithfully with God.  This is because God found CHEN in Noah already.  God already gave grace to Noah, a regeneration, an obedience to walk with the Lord just as Enoch did in Genesis 5:24.  God freely chose Noah, not because of how good he was, or any other work Noah did.  This story usually gets confused as being, “Good guy does good things, was saved by God, bad people were destroyed.” The real story should be explained simply as, “Bad guy was granted God’s grace.”  This still relates to us today, the reason we can walk faithfully with the Lord is by the gift of grace and faith from God (Eph. 2:8-9).  Paul in Ephesians 2:1-5 states:

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.  All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.  But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”

Limited atonement is fully shown in the story of Noah’s Ark, and that God will grace and bless a particular people to demonstrate His loving kindness and mercy to some while demonstrating His justice and wrath to the rest.

Seal with No Leaks

The third point we can extract from this story is that the atoning Work of Christ is perfect.  Noah was commanded to place pitch on the inside of the Ark (Gen. 6:14), which would act as a seal, to keep the water from leaking through the cracks between the wood.  So just as Noah sealed the inside of his ark with pitch to seal out God’s wrath and judgment, so has Jesus laid down His life for us, to seal out God’s judgment upon a particular people.  The word for pitch is kaphar in Hebrew, this comes from a root meaning to atone, where we also get Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement) and is also translated into Greek as hilaskomai, which in English means propitiation (1 John 2:2, 4:10).  Jesus being our pitch sealed and protected us from the judgment with no leaks, by the shedding of His blood, so that we could have eternal life.  It was a perfect substitutionary atonement.  Not only did Jesus die for our sins and was crushed under the Father’s wrath, but He became sin for us, taking upon Himself our sin nature and at the same time clothing us in His righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21).  So that not only will the Father see us as forgiven, but also righteous.  It was because of Jesus’ sacrifice of being “crushed by the Father” (Isa. 53) that the Father can look upon us and show His mercy and grace.  Once sealed by Christ we are in Him for eternity, fully loved, fully protected, and seen as His righteousness in the Father’s eyes. This is what we can delight in today, and going forward until He comes again.

Through these 3 points extracted from the foreshadowing of Noah’s Ark, we can see that Jesus is the only way to salvation, there will be a particular people whom He will save, and He will save them to the utmost, salvation being made perfect.

Thanks again for reading, God bless,

Dustin M. Fugate