Counterfeit Gospels by Trevin Wax … a book review

Paul warned us that men would come into the church preaching a different Jesus, a different spirit, a different gospel … a counterfeit gospel.

But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.  For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully.  2 Corinthians 11:3-4 (NASB)

In Counterfeit Gospels: Rediscovering the Good News in a World of False Hope, Trevin Wax addresses the issue of counterfeit gospels in a two-fold way: defining the true gospel while at the same time explaining the characteristics of some of the counterfeits that permeate the religion of Christianity today.

Counterfeit Gospels

The author sets the stage for the entire book in the opening pages:

  • The Threefold Crisis in the Church
  • The Gospel as a Three-Legged Stool (the Gospel Story, the Gospel Announcement, the Gospel Community)

The book is broken into three sections basically explaining each aspect of the gospel as an essential leg of the true and entire gospel using the analogy of a three-legged stool … remove any leg and … well, you know what happens.

Throughout the three sections, he outlines six very specific counterfeit gospels (therapeutic, judgmentless, moralistic, quietest, activist and churchless)

  • Defining the counterfeit
  • Listing and describing the evangelical versions of that counterfeit
  • Explaining why we find the counterfeit attractive
  • Then equipping us to counter the counterfeit

Having read the book, I now believe I have a much clearer picture of the gospel – the entire gospel – and how best to live and proclaim it in today’s culture.  I also believe I am better equipped to discern the different or counterfeit gospels.  And I must admit, at one time or another (and in some instances even today) I have believed in and embraced aspects of each of the counterfeits.  So this was a very insightful, eye-opening and convicting book.

Thank you Trevin Wax for another important book for the body of Christ (Holy Subversion: Allegiance to Christ in an Age of Rivals was also an excellent teaching).

Bernie

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BUT … be ready!

Don’t let yesterday’s post regarding the return of Christ diminish your sense of urgency to be found ready.  Remember these words of Jesus …

He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters.”  Matthew 12:30 (NASB)

Despite what some would suggest, we know not when Christ will return … once again these words are from Jesus:

Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.  But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into.  For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.”  Matthew 24:42-44 (NASB)

Some believe we might have enough warning to make a last minute decision or appeal to be saved but Scripture does not support that …

Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.  Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.  For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.  But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory.  “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  1 Corinthians 15:50-57 (NASB)

In a moment … in the twinkling of an eye (or the time it takes to blink)

While we celebrate the birth of Jesus as a big event today … His arrival as a baby was not a headline event.  When you read the Nativity account … you realize that God revealed to but a few what was actually happening … for most it was then 30 years before anyone began to hear the claims and proclamations of Jesus.

His return will not be like that … we will ALL know when the King of Kings returns …

“Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or ‘There He is,’ do not believe him.  For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.  Behold, I have told you in advance.  So if they say to you, ‘Behold, He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out, or, ‘Behold, He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe them.  For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be.”  Matthew 24:23-27 (NASB)

We won’t have to hear through the grapevine that the Son of Man has returned … and in fact, if that is indeed how we hear it, Jesus says don’t believe it.  Just as lightning fills the sky, so will the return of the Lamb of God.

So please don’t let yesterday’s post prompt a time of complacency and procrastination … we all, both lost and saved, must live our lives and make our decisions with a sense of urgency.

May we all be found ready when the trumpet sounds!

Bernie

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wrestling with my desire for Christ’s return …

The question …

“Am I anxious for Christ to return?”

(FYI: using the word anxious defined as eagerly desirous)

A radio sermon I heard a bit of Sunday morning has prompted this wrestling … I believe it’s a question that prompts a multi-layered response.

First, if I say ‘No’, what is the motivation for that answer?

Is it because I am really more attached to this world than to Christ and my eternal home?

That would certainly be a problem.  But that is not to say that ‘No’ is always a bad answer.

I have heard many a dear brother long for Christ’s return … and yet in that longing the motivation has not appeared to be so much about living eternally with Jesus in our heavenly home.  It’s been more about escaping the trials and tribulations of a world gone bad … and for a few brothers, even seeing some of the lost finally reaping what they have sown.

So in some instances, even a ‘Yes’ answer might not exactly be Christ glorifying.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. ” John 3:16-17 (NASB)

Read that again and truly understand what motivated God to send Christ Jesus into the world and what His ultimate mission is …

  • Whoever believes in Jesus, shall not perish, but have eternal life
  • Not to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Christ

While the world is certainly on a hell-bound decline today, it pains me to think how many people throughout the world could be hell-bound as well.  This brings clarity to what Peter wrote …

Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming?” … The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.  2 Peter 3:3,4a,9 (NASB)

The Lord is not slow about His promise to return … but is patient to me and to you and to the entire world … not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.  I am certainly glad he did not return in my first 40 years or so of life when I was spiritually unresolved … thank you Jesus!

But shouldn’t my desire for His return align with that of the Lord?

Let’s face it … there could be more people in this world in need of repentance today than at any time in recorded history … is my desire to see them all perish?  Or is my desire to see them reconciled with God? And does my life and its actions align with my response to those questions?

Paul understood this …

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.  But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose.  But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better;  yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.  Philippians 1:21-24 (NASB)

Perhaps this is a leap on my part … and if so, please correct me.  But it seems to me the conclusion Paul arrives at is that even though to die (or be reconciled with Christ Jesus in His return) is definitely gain, our God-ordained task of living … of dwelling … of abiding IN Christ is not primarily that we will realize that gain … but more importantly that life is for the sake of others … so that they will not perish but will be reconciled to God and inherit eternal life.  ‘To live is Christ’ is a selfless mission.  Yet, to some degree, there is a selfish aspect in ‘to die is gain.’  How great … or small … is the love I have for God, the brethren AND the unreconciled?

“Am I anxious for Christ to return?  Are you?”

My answer is gaining clarity … but there is much work yet to be done in making sure my life and actions align with that answer.

Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. 1 John 3:18 (NASB)

Oh Lord, have Your way and Your will IN and THRU me!

Bernie

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the smallest church in America (a photoblog)

This little church has become a favorite stop for our family the last seven or eight years on our trips to the Georgia coast …

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Perhaps this next picture is a sign of things to come for my grandson …

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I have several pictures like that over the last six or seven years … only time will tell … only time will tell.

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If you’d like to learn more about the background of this little south Georgia treasure, learn more at this link …

http://www.exploregeorgia.org/listing/4694-smallest-church-in-america

 

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alligators (a photoblog)

Last weekend we visited the Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge on the Georgia coast just south of Savannah … I have a few pictures to share … a few up close and personal alligator pictures … please understand these are in the wild and most taken from less than six feet away … enjoy!

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all is well … just different

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heavenA time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.                        A time to kill and a time to heal; A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance. A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones; A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing. A time to search and a time to give up as lost; A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear apart and a time to sew together; A time to be silent and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate; A time for war and a time for peace. What profit is there to the worker from that in which he toils? I have seen the task which God has given the sons of men with which to occupy themselves. God Set Eternity in the Heart of Man He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end. I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good in one’s lifetime; moreover, that every man who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor–it is the gift of God. Ecclesiastes 3:1-13 (NASB)

Oftentimes silence on the blog means one of two things. Either I am struggling spiritually, mentally and emotionally or I am struggling physically. While the blog has been silent for a few weeks, it is not because of either of these things.

All is well just different …

Physically I am stronger and healthier than I have probably been in 10-15 years, the cancer is not spreading, and I am fast approaching a one year anniversary without chemo … ALL praise, thanksgiving, honor and glory to the Lord!

Spiritually I am wrestling with a number of things … but not from a point of weakness or doubt but from a perspective of becoming stronger and more confident in my faith and trust IN Christ Jesus.

I am now in my second semester of leading a men’s small group that meets first thing on Monday mornings at a local Chick-Fil-A or Christian Chicken as some like to call it. Last semester our curriculum was simply to go a bit deeper into the message we heard over the weekend … sometimes we had a prepared curriculum and some time we would just wing it under the guidance of the Spirit. But from a leader perspective, there really was not a lot of preparation involved.

However, this semester has been a bit more intense.   Our Senior Pastor Kevin Myers released a book called Home Run: Learn God’s Plan for Life and Leadership which he co-wrote with his mentor John Maxwell. From a small group perspective, we are in the eighth and final week of the curriculum associated with this book … an excellent book by the way. And while the church has provided the curriculum, as a leader my practice has been to read through the chapter(s) to be discussed each week 4 times … a quick read, a second read with highlighter, a third read with red pen and a final read to capture highlights in my journal … I have also taken the curriculum and prepared a worksheet we discuss from on Monday mornings.

But there is more …

After one week off for spring break, we will then be spending four weeks going through the book The Blessed Life: Unlocking the Rewards of Generous Living by Robert Morris. Yes, the church will be providing a curriculum … and yes, I will be doing my own intense reading and studying to prepare for each week. This will take me through the first week of May. The challenge for me with this book as a leader … I am not quite on the same page with all the author teaches. So I am wrestling with what I have come to embrace as old covenant theology vs. new covenant theology … hopefully with an open mind, a teachable spirit, and an obedient will … but I have not made much progress to date. So my additional challenges are in being obedient to my church leaders and carrying a bucket of water instead of a bucket of gas. Prayers in the midst of this ‘wrestling’ (yet to determine if it is with man or with God) are greatly appreciated!

But I’m not done … in mid April my plan … my hope … is to begin and facilitate a once-a-week six week long business roundtable with a few of my co-workers walking through and discussing some of the ideas in the John Maxwell book, Make Today Count. More reading and preparation …

Oh yes, and then once or twice a week I am journaling through the associated Scriptures with the devotional entries in the book Knowing Jesus by Jim Reapsome … while the book is interesting … copying the associated Scriptures down and then journaling through them has proven to be an incredible experience … lots of good material for blog entries … just no time to do so.

And of course then there is family life, church life, work and sleep (is it really essential?).

As I mentioned earlier, I am stronger and healthier than ever … I continue to walk 3-4 times a week and do dumb bell workouts a couple of times a week. While this improves my fitness, it has prepared me for many weekend hike and day trips with my wife and grandson in late winter and the first week of spring. We just had an incredible trip to the Georgia coast walking and shopping on Broughton and River Streets in Savannah, the Wings, Wheels and Run event at the Brunswick Airport (walked the 5K with my grandson), hiked through the Harris Neck Wildlife Refuge, visited the historic Fort King George, and more … and this 60 year old cancer warrior wore out his younger wife and 11 year old grandson … the Lord has blessed me incredibly!

So for now … or longer … only God knows at this point … blogging is not the priority for me that it has been for nearly ten years. Maybe that will change … maybe not … only time will tell.

Just wanted to let all of you that follow the blog know …

All is well … just different.

God has made everything appropriate in its time …

Bernie

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Keep Your Hand Off My Band-Aid

bwebbjr:

Richard has the gift of using everyday moments to illustrate and teach eternal truths … in this post he illustrates the truth of 1 Corinthians 16:14, “Let all that you do be done in love.” May you be challenged and convicted by this post …

Originally posted on Where Living Begins:

stuck bandage

Like all kids, I fell and scraped my knee.  Mom took me in the bathroom, cleaned the wound with a bit of water, dried my knee and applied the dark-red Mercurochrome. I knew it would be okay once the wonderful-smelling medicine was rubbed on the scrape and covered with a Band-Aid.  A kiss on the bandage never hurt.

Then would come the dreaded day when the Band-Aid needed to come off so the wound could be checked and more medicine applied.  These were the days before anti-stick bandages and usually the scab had formed into the gauze bandage.  A quick and sturdy pull on that plastic strip afixed to my knee always led to more tears … but also more Mercurochrome!

No matter how gentle Mom was, ripping that bandage off was my boo-boo wasn’t fun. It hurt, but only for a little bit.

Truth is sometimes like those old…

View original 142 more words

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