Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Book Review: The Christian Life

In The Christian Life: Cross or Glory?, Steven Hein states that his book is "intended to entice the reader to consider a rather distasteful question: What is the relevance of the crucified Christ for daily Christian living?" (Kindle location 77). He questions the reader: "Are you willing to consider the implications of Christ the crucified where sinners enter into union with the bloody Jesus because they are just dying to live?" (Kindle locatioin 134).  Mr. Hein tells us that his "purpose is not to inspire or uplift, but rather to inform and then persuade you to reevaluate what constitutes a healthy life in Christ," (Kindle location 148).

The doctrinal beliefs that Mr. Hein espouses do not align with the Bible.  For brevity, I will only highlight my major areas of concern:
  • Transubstantiation -- "God brings the forgiveness of sins through consecrated bread and wine and tells you that as you are eating and drinking this bread and wine, you are actually eating and drinking Christ's body and His blood," (Kindle location 357).  Mr. Hein's presentation of transubstantiation is not a biblical doctrine.  Protestantism completely rejects the teaching that the bread and wine used during the Roman Catholic sacrament of the Eucharist literally turns into the body and blood of Christ. Jesus was sacrificed once on the cross: "By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all," (Heb. 10:10).
  • The Sovereignty of God -- "When it comes to what is necessary for a relationship with Him [God], through faith in His favor for the sake of Christ, there is no other way.  He is the Champion who pushes the chessboard in front of us to play the game of life.  The stakes are death and life.  The rules are contained in the Law of Love which is the Law of life.  Make your move," (Kindle location 612).  Again, the author presents the unbiblical view of Open Theism (the unorthodox view that though God is omniscient, He does not know what man will freely do in the future).  God is sovereign. He has declared the end from the beginning (Isa. 46:10-11) and His eternal purpose is unchangeable (Eph. 3:11).
  • The Law -- "This is God's central purpose of the Law.  He did not intend it to be a motivational tool to nurture a true loving heart from one of selfishness and pride; nor did He intend it to be an exercise guide that would enable the practitioner of some ten Bible-based principles to advance in the art of loving.  When God added the Law to His creative design of love, He provided a potent diagnostic tool to set in bold relief our spiritual deadness and the impossibility of transforming ourselves back into His original plan for us in creation," (Kindle location 743) and "What happens if we present the Law just in terms of the outward dimensions of the Ten Commandments?...The Law as moral principle may indeed reveal immorality on our part, but it cannot reveal our true condition of moral bankruptcy and spiritual deadness," (Kindle location 810).  Mr. Hein's view of the law is not consistent with orthodox biblical doctrine.  The 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith Ch. 8, para. 5 states: "Although true believers are not under the law as a covenant of works, to be thereby justified or condemned, yet it is of great use to them as well as to others, in that as a rule of life, informing them of the will of God and their duty, it directs and binds them to walk accordingly; discovering also the sinful pollutions of their natures, hearts, and lives, so as examining themselves thereby, they may come to further conviction of, humiliation for, and hatred against sin ( Rom. 6:14; Gal. 2:16; Rom. 8:1, 10:4; Rom. 3:20, 7:7)."  In addition, the believers goal is not to transform ourselves "back into His original plan for us in creation."  True Christians now have a better covenant in Jesus Christ, (Heb. 7:22, 8:6).  
  • Penal Substitutionary Atonement --  "It cannot be stressed enough that the Scriptures reveal a finished atonement and a righteousness of Christ that is universal and sufficient for all sinners," (Kindle location 1016) and "Any conception of a limited atonement--contending that Jesus only died for some sinners--renders an uncertain Gospel message for everyone," (Kindle location 1020).  Mr. Hein strongly argues against particular redemption or limited atonement.  However, the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith Ch. 8, para. 5 states that: "The Lord Jesus, by His perfect obedience and sacrifice of Himself, which He through the eternal Spirit once offered up to God, has fully satisfied the justice of God, procured reconciliation, and purchased an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven for all those whom the Father has given unto Him, (Heb. 9:14, 10:14; Rom. 3:25, 26; John 17:2; Heb. 9:15)."  Jesus Christ Himself says it plainly in John 17:2--"As thou [God] hast given him [the Son] power over all flesh, that he [the Son] should give eternal life to as many as thou [God] has given him."  All men are not given to Jesus by the Father because if all men were given to Jesus it would contradict God's Word and it would make the preaching the Gospel unnecessary since all men would go to heaven.
  • Baptism -- "We miserable unholy sinners are apprehended by Christ and recreated back into the image of God in our baptism.  The water and the Word where we are splashed with grace is the beginning of God's work of sanctification," (Kindle location 1287) and "He does not stop at the baptismal font, but His baptismal covenant is renewed in us continually through His ministry of Law and Gospel," (Kindle location 1309).  The author's view that justification is accomplished through baptism is not biblical.  The 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith Ch. 11, para. 2 states: "Faith thus receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification, (Rom. 3:28)."
  • Perseverance of the Saints -- "Can the sinfulness of your life put your faith in Christ at risk?  Perhaps.  Jesus warns of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit as unforgivable (Matt. 12:31)," (Kindle location 1423) and "But you ask: Am I committing the unforgivable sin?  It is important to understand that the unforgivable sin is not the absence of forgiveness...It is not unforgivable because Christ did not die for such a sin; it is unforgivable because it is separation of the self from His forgiveness by unbelief.  Such is the condition of all who have died without faith in the forgiveness of Christ and are now in Hell.  It is not that they were bigger or more despicable sinners; it is that they refused to live with Christ's forgiveness through faith," (Kindle location 1433).  Finally, Mr. Hein states that true believers can lose their faith.  This is not a biblical concept and stems from his misguided view on the sovereignty of God and universal atonement as outlined above.  The 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith Ch. 17, para. 1-2 states: "Those whom God has accepted in the beloved, effectually called and sanctified by his Spirit, and given the precious faith of his elect unto, can neither totally nor finally fall from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved, seeing the gifts and callings of God are without repentance, from which source he still begets and nourishes in them faith, repentance, love, joy, hope, and all the graces of the Spirit unto immortality (John 10:28,29; Phil. 1:6; 2 Tim. 2:19; 1 John 2:19)...This perseverance of the saints depends not upon their own free will, but upon the immutability of the decree of election (Rom. 8:30, 9:11,16)."
As a closing thought, I found it ironic that the author would condemn anyone to Hell because of unbelief.  Mr. Hein emphatically contends that Christ has sufficiently died for all sinners.  If that is the case, then how could a just God condemn anyone?  That would be double jeopardy, which is considered unjust even by the sinful, human judges in this present world.  I've identified many areas in The Christian Life that are at odds with God's Word which is why I cannot recommend it to anyone, Christian or not.

Full Disclosure:  I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Giving Grace

Many of the books that I review on my blog come through As part of receiving the free book, I agree to post my review on my blog as well as on Occasionally, I will receive feedback from my blog readers, but most of the negative comments I receive are responses to my book reviews posted on the Amazon website. Therefore, I have a series of blog posts that I've labeled Countering Criticism where I evaluate the validity of the negative feedback I receive. However, today I would like to look at a positive critique from a poster named Growing in Grace regarding my book review on Prayers for New Brides.  You can read my original review here.

On September 17, 2015, Growing in Grace said:
"I have some of those same concerns, but think you may be misinterpreting them slightly, or at least focusing on them more than the author did. There are many good things written that (for me, at least) outweigh those negatives."

Later that day, she (not sure of gender, but I'm using the feminine for convenience) followed up with:
"I don't remember that last quote you gave, but that does sound like a twisting of Scripture. I didn't notice it so much, for some reason, because there *are* promises of good from the Lord if we follow Him, though sometimes those "prosperous and successful" outcomes come through much trial, and can just be spiritual prosperity and success, not monetary or earthly. Her referring to Joyce Meyer and Beth Moore (and the others, perhaps, though I don't know what their doctrine is) are probably indicative of the author's beliefs on "health and wealth" but I chose to ignore that and glean what I could, which was much."

On September 18, 2015, Growing in Grace said:
"But of course you are entitled to your own opinions, and to share them with others. :) I just don't know if I agree, even as a Calvinist."

First of all, I appreciate the friendly tone of Growing in Grace's comments.  She doesn't agree with me, but she acknowledges that I can have a different opinion.  Obviously, she came away with a more positive view of Prayers for New Brides than I.  As a diligent reviewer, I considered her comments and gave more thought to her opinion that the positives in the book outweigh the negatives.

I agree with Growing in Grace that Christians can receive prosperous and successful outcomes of a spiritual nature from the earthly trials that Christians face, but from my notes, the author did not allude to that possibility.  Mrs. White mostly focused on the temporal outcomes.  I can't say that she never mentioned spiritual blessings, but if she did, that's certainly not what she stressed, nor what I took away from her book.

In my review, I quoted 8 statements from Mrs. White that did not align with the Word of God; I had more statements highlighted, but I chose these quotes to make my point.  If we were speaking face-to-face, I could ask the author what she meant regarding the statements that I questioned.  However, since she published her thoughts, Mrs. White is more accountable for what she says (James 3:1).  If her words are not clear and accurate, then that weakens the propositions made in her book because her arguments are left open to personal interpretation.  Given the title of her book, she is writing to young, impressionable Christian women.  What she says can have a major impact, good or bad, on their lives.

It is my belief that the soft, pliable, biblical-sounding statements being peddled as sound Christian doctrine are undermining the church today.  It might sound nice and politically correct, but sometimes, it is far from biblical.  Elder Lasserre Bradley in his 05/06/12 sermon titled "Since God is Sovereign Why Pray?" on Luke 11:1-4 clearly identifies this problem:  "People can easily be led astray when they interject human reasoning into their thought processes rather than to rely totally on the Word of God.  Something that may appear to be logical may not be truthful because it's founded on the wrong premise; the logic is flawed.  So we want to know what God's Word says and receive it."

Mrs. White made multiple statements in her book that, at face value, where not consistent with the Word of God; therefore, I did not receive it.  Scripture is clear that "[a] little leaven leaveneth the whole lump," (Gal. 5:9).  In addition, the Bible repeatedly warns Christians of false teachers (Acts 20: 29-30; 2 Peter 2:1; Jude 4).  For me, the 8 quotes in my review were enough to show that leaven was present in Mrs. White's writing.  Thus, if I question the orthodoxy of the author's writing, then I can not in clear conscience recommend that book to a fellow believer.

"And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.  These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.  Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few," (Acts 17:10-12).

Monday, September 14, 2015

Haldane on Christ's Resurrection

As part of my study on the book of Romans, I'm reading through the Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans by Robert Haldane (1764-1842).  I found the following quote from Haldane's exposition of Romans 4:24 helpful in understanding the proper view of Christ's resurrection (bold emphasis mine).

"Righteousness shall be imputed to us, as well as to Abraham, if we have his faith.  If we believe on Him that raised, etc.--Here God is characterized by that fact that He raised up Christ.  This, then, is not a mere circumstance, but it is in this very character that our faith must view God.  To believe for salvation, we must believe not in God absolutely, but in God as the raiser up of Jesus Christ.  This faith in God, as raising up our Lord, must also include a right view of Him.  It must imply a belief of the Gospel, not only as to the fact of a resurrection, but also as to the person and work of Christ," (p. 182).

"But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead," (Rom. 4:24).

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Gospel Defined

In my last Countering Criticism post titled 'An Unexpected Insinuation', I looked at T. Harris's question of my Uncovering the Life of Jesus book review.  After that post, I conversed back and forth with T. Harris on and even though he (not sure of the gender, so I will use the masculine pronoun for convenience) was not clear in his initial question, he did not intend to imply that I am a hyper-dispensationalist.  T. Harris thought that I was saying one couldn't preach the Gospel from the book of Luke alone.

T. Harris hasn't read Uncovering the Life of Jesus yet, but he still defends the author because Ms. Pippert "discusses the suffering and resurrection of the Messiah, repentance and the forgiveness of sins".  My point was and continues to be that because Ms. Pippert believes that man has a role in salvation, promotes an experiential process to achieve salvation, and does not properly define sin, she does not give a true Gospel presentation in her book.

The Gospel can be preached from the book of Luke; I did not make any statement in my review to the contrary.  Even though one can preach the Gospel, Ms. Pippert does not do that.  She does not give a verse by verse exposition of the book of Luke, but she picks the verses that she wants to talk about and does not properly exposit them.  Therefore, I quoted 1 Cor. 15:3-4 to show that the author's view of the gospel in Luke does not align with orthodox Christianity.  My point was not that Ms. Pippert should have used other verses in her book.  She could have given an accurate Gospel account from Luke, but she didn't.  I quoted from the Apostle Paul to show that the "gospel" she was presenting from Luke was different from the true Gospel of the Bible.

In Uncovering the Life of Jesus, Ms. Pippert picks the verses from Luke that supports what she wants to say in her book, and therefore, the verses that she focuses on (along with her commentary) do not lead to a clear picture of the Gospel.  This is clearly seen by her "Gospel" call at the book's conclusion.  She asks the reader to suppose that he witnessed the crucifixion of Jesus and His subsequent resurrection, then to dream up what Jesus might say to him and how he should respond.  This is not a true Gospel presentation.

T. Harris has responded to my contention that Ms. Pippert presents a false gospel by pointing out that 1 Cor. 15:5 reads "And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve."  He goes on to say: "You stopped quoting in the middle Paul's sentence; as Paul continues writing, he immediately focuses on the eyewitnesses to the resurrection! When Paul defines the gospel, he focuses on the eyewitnesses."

At this point, I'm dumbfounded.  I now see why T. Harris continues to defend Ms. Pippert without even reading her book.  It appears that he doesn't understand the true Gospel either.  So let's go back to the basics.  If someone doesn't understand the Gospel, then it is possible that he is not a true believer in Jesus Christ, which is why Paul tells the individual to work out your salvation in fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12).  It's also possible that someone needs to be taught again because he is in need of milk and not strong meat (Heb. 5:11-14).  The Gospel is the overarching doctrine of all Scripture, but it has been and will continue to be twisted and distorted by the enemy.  The lack of true biblical Gospel preaching is evident in the Christian world today, which is why the Bible repeatedly warns Christians of false teachers.  Therefore, true believers should be discerning in all that they read and hear because not everything labeled "Christian" is truly biblical.

The Gospel is not the good news of the eyewitnesses.  The Apostle Paul inspired by the Holy Spirit tells us that after His resurrection, Jesus was seen by Peter, the twelve Apostles, and 500 brethren.  Paul specifically lays out the Gospel in 1 Cor. 15: 3-4.  He includes verses 5 & 6 about the eyewitnesses of the Christ's resurrection because if you continue reading in verses 12-15 many Corinthians were denying the resurrection of the dead.

So, what is the Gospel?  Does the Apostle Paul define the Gospel by focusing on the eyewitnesses?  No, Paul tells us: "For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified," (1 Cor. 2:2).  Like the rest of the Bible, Paul is focused on Christ and Christ alone.  The Gospel is the Good News that the Son of God Jesus Christ was born of a virgin (Matt. 1:23), lived a perfect, sinless life (2 Cor. 5:21), humbled Himself to die on the cross (Phil. 2:8), was resurrected by the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:11), and now sits on the right hand of God the Father (Heb. 10:12) so that He is the propitiation through faith in His blood (Rom. 3:25).

All men are commanded to repent and believe the Gospel (Mark 1:15), and all who repent of sin obtain forgiveness through Jesus Christ: "And [Jesus] said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem," (Luke 24:46-47).  This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

According to T. Harris, Ms. Pippert references Luke 24:46-47 in Chapter 6 of her book.  Since my review, I've discarded Uncovering the Life of Jesus, so I can't verify that fact.  Nevertheless, Ms. Pippert can include clear Gospel verses from the Bible all day long, but if she misrepresents the Gospel through the use of those verses, then she is accursed (Gal. 1:8-9).  Many cults like Mormonism and Roman Catholicism use the Christian Bible.  False religious leaders erroneously "teach" and "preach" from God's Word, but Paul warns Christians about these deceivers in this world: "For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple," (Rom. 16:18).

"Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God.  He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.  If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds," (2 John 1:9-11).

Thursday, September 3, 2015

An Unexpected Insinuation

Many of the books that I review on my blog come through  As part of receiving the free book, I agree to post my review on my blog as well as on  Occasionally, I will receive feedback from my blog readers, but most of the negative comments I receive are responses to my book reviews posted on the Amazon website.  Therefore, I have a series of blog posts that I've labeled Countering Criticism where I evaluate the validity of the negative feedback I receive.  Today, I would like to look at a question from a poster named T. Harris regarding my book review on Uncovering the Life of Jesus.  You can read my original review here.

On September 1, 2015, T. Harris asks:
"Beth, do you believe that someone could come to salvation in Christ after reading only the gospel of Luke?  Or would he or she need to read the letters of Paul as well?"

While this question does not seem critical in nature, I believe that it stems from the false assumption that I'm a hyper-dispensationalist.  From
"Hyper-dispensationalism (or sometimes ultra-dispensationalism), as opposed to traditional (or classic) Dispensationalism, views the start of the Christian church as beginning with the ministry of the Apostle Paul after the early part of the book of Acts.  Although variations exist in specifics, all hyper-dispensationalists view the four Gospels and many of the New Testament Epistles as applying to the pre-Pauline Jewish-Christian church or to the future Davidic Kingdom; not directly applicable to the predominantly Gentile Church of today."

Anyone who regularly reads my blog posts or book reviews knows that I hold to Reformed Baptist Covenant Theology, so I'm not a dispensationalist of any kind.  You can read my blog post discounting Dispensationalism here.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ runs throughout the whole Bible from Genesis through Revelation.  Every one who is ever saved is saved through faith in Jesus Christ.  The Law never has and never will save anyone (Rom. 3:20, Gal. 3:21).  The saved saints of the Old Testament looked forward to work of Jesus Christ on the cross; those saved today look back to His work.

In addition, all scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable (2 Tim. 3:16).  Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (Rom. 10:17)--this includes all of Scripture.  However, just reading the Bible will not save anyone.  There are many literary scholars who praise the Bible, but are not believers.  Faith is a gift of God (Eph. 2:8).  God uses the means of reading His Word to regenerate the heart.  He also uses the means of preaching the Word, but ultimately, the power to save rests in God alone.

I did not recommend Ms. Pippert's book because of her Arminian view that God and man work together in salvation.  In addition, the author encourages the reader to read himself into the biblical text.  This error of biblical interpretation is a problem not just for the Gospel of Luke or Paul's epistles, but for all 66 books of the Bible.

"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth," (2 Tim. 2:15).

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Haldane on Romans 2:7

As part of my study on the book of Romans, I'm reading through Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans by Robert Haldane.  I found the following quote very helpful in understanding Romans Chapter 2 and Paul's argument that no one is justified through their own works.  In his book, Haldane contends that the Apostle Paul is referring to the law, rather than the Gospel, in verses 7, 10, and 13 of Chapter 2.  Paul is building his case that adherence to the Moral Law (either through the Mosaic Covenant of the Jews or written in the hearts of the Gentiles) cannot lead to salvation.

First, let's look at the Romans 2:1-16 in context, emphasizing verses 7, 10, & 13:

"1 Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. 2 But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. 3 And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? 4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? 5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; 6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds: 7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: 8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, 9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; 10 But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: 11 For there is no respect of persons with God. 12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; 13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. 14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: 15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) 16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel."

Now let's see what Haldane has written about verse 7 in particular:

"The verse before us, then, which declares that eternal life shall be awarded to those who seek it by patient continuance in well-doing, and who, according to the 10th verse, work good, both of which announce the full demand of the law, are of the same import with the 13th verse, which affirms that the doers of the law shall be justified.  In all these verses the Apostle is referring to the law, and not, as it is generally understood to the Gospel.  It would have been obviously calculated to mislead the Jews, with whom Paul was reasoning, to set before them in this place personal obedience as the way to eternal life, which, in connection with what he had said on repentance, would tend directly to lead them to mistake his meaning on that subject.  But besides this, if these verses refer to the Gospel, they break in upon and disturb the whole train of his reasoning, from the 18th verse of the first chapter to the 20th of the third, where he arrives at his conclusion, that by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in the sight of God.  Paul was afterwards to declare the way of justification, as he does, ch. iii. 21, 26, immediately after he drew the above conclusion; but till then, his object was to exhibit, both to Jews and Gentiles, the impossibility of obtaining justification by any works of their own, and, by convincing them of this, to lead them to the grace of the Gospel," (p. 83).

He concludes his argument:

"But if we take the words in their plain and obvious import, and understand the Apostle in this place as announcing the terms of the law, in order to prove to the Jews the necessity of having recourse to grace, and of yielding to the goodness of forbearance of God, leading them to repentance, while he assures them that 'not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified,' then the whole train of his discourse is clear and consistent.  On the other supposition, it appears confused and self-contradictory, and calculated not merely to perplex, but positively to mislead, and to strengthen the prejudices of those who were going about to establish their own righteousness.  For in whatever way these expressions may with certain explanations and qualifications be interpreted in an evangelical sense, yet unquestionably, as taken by themselves, and especially in the connection in which they stand in this place, they present the same meaning as is announced in the 13th verse, where the Apostle declares that the doers of the law shall be justified," (pp. 84-85).

"But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus," (Rom. 3:21-24).