Worship Wars?


Worship Wars?


Worship Wars?

Now John answered Him, saying, "Teacher, we saw someone who does not follow us casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow us." But Jesus said, "Do not forbid him, for no one who works a miracle in My name can soon afterward speak evil of Me. For he who is not against us is on our side. (Mark 9:38-40 NKJV)

Years ago, my wife Shannon and I were at the District coffee house in Boise to hear a friend, Jeff Anderson, do a live worship set. Jeff enjoyed some success as a Christian artist, and we have always enjoyed his music. After his set, he came over and joined us for some fellowship. I mentioned something about the diverse crowd at the coffee shop that was enjoying the music, a wide variety of Christians and, no doubt, some unbelievers were there. He said, “You know what I love about being a worship leader?” I said, “What?” He said, “I get to lead people into God’s presence and there are no walls between them.” He then explained, “I can be in an auditorium with Catholics, Baptists, Pentecostals, Lutherans, really every type of Christian, or denomination, all joined together worshiping Jesus, and for that moment there are no barriers. Worship is the great unifier of the Church.”

That was a powerful moment for me. I had never looked at worship that way before. Nor have I ever had the thought that I might be singing praises next to a Pentecostal Catholic on one side and a Reformed Lutheran on the other and a United Methodist in front of me. I don’t think there is any other scenario (other than intense persecution against the Church) that I would find myself in fellowship with these brothers and sisters. 

One of my favorite songs says, “I will arise and go to Jesus, He will embrace me in His arms.” You could imagine my surprise when I found out that St. Francis of Assisi wrote that song! No other song has taken me closer to the throne of grace than that one has. What is amazing to me is that I can, and have, worshiped Jesus with songs that are written by Catholics, Calvinists, Arminians, Pentecostals, Lutherans, Baptists, and many others.

As a Calvary Chapel pastor, I have always enjoyed the balance of our approach. We can have fellowship with, and grace for, a wide range of believers. Even though some of their ideas, practices, or views on non-essential doctrines might seem to us to be unnecessary, unbiblical, crazy, harmful, or even spooky. For me, being a Bible guy, it does bother me when people ignore the Bible in their practice, or belief. However, I wouldn’t go as far as to say they are not Christians or to judge their salvation. If they believe the essentials concerning salvation, I believe they are family, and yes, sometimes family is weird. I have seen God use people I differ with, especially in the area of writing worship music.

Recently there has been much to do about worship. Many discernment ministries, apologetics ministries, and some prominent pastors have flooded the internet with warnings and concern. Sometimes it is about a song itself, but concerns mostly surround certain Christian groups such as Bethel, Jesus Culture, and Hillsong. The complaint is that these groups, their affiliate Churches, or ministers connected to these groups, have gone apostate. My question to these critics is, “Are they saved or not?” I would venture to say that not many of those critics would be willing to go as far as to say that they are not saved.

As an evangelical pastor, I could draw some lines in the sand and say I have good reasons not to worship with people who I think hold serious errors in their doctrine or are associated with teachers who teach errors. I will list a few for you that I would have some concerns about: John Newton, Fanny Crosby, David Crowder, Martin Luther, Elevation Worship, Bill Gaither, Keith Green, Hillsong, Bethel, Jesus Culture, Vineyard, The Wesley’s (John and Charles), Matt Maher, Amy Grant, Maranatha (oops that is a Calvary Chapel group), and I might as well throw in Moses, David, the sons of Korah. I could point to each one of these and give you good reasons either by behavior, association, or even false doctrine that I would disagree with these artists.

I am not going to tell you what troubles me about these song writers. I will, however, say that as far as I know, I believe they all love Jesus.  If you want, I will let you spend your own time trying to dig up the tares in the wheat field and try to discern who is a believer and who isn’t. To me it is just evidence of what Paul said, “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12 NKJV) I recently heard someone say, “I definitely can say that I align theologically more with Bill Johnson (Bethel Redding, CA Pastor) than I would with Martin Luther (Leader of the Protestant Reformation.)” I had to agree with him, though neither of us is a big fan of Bill Johnson’s theology.

I don’t want to minimize the danger of false doctrine and I believe that every song should be judged by its Biblical soundness. I have made our worship team change lyrics to songs before they sang them. I have also thrown out songs that were clearly doctrinally unsound. Some pastors may not want to allow the word “Reckless” to describe God’s love, I really do get that. However, I am going to allow it because I understand that it is an emotive response to how over-the-top God’s love is toward us. I suppose though if we want to throw out all emotive language, we really should limit the psalms we read, and we need to remove Crazy Love from our libraries and anything else written by Francis Chan from all our book shelves, because neither God nor his love is CRAZY! 

As I write this, I am looking forward to going to a Christian Concert with Mercy Me and Crowder! I, for one, am going to enjoy worshiping Jesus and the unity I will have with all those around me. What an amazing thing we have in worship music that removes the barriers that separate us. We have so much that divides us already, can we not allow this one area where we are united?

A Song of Ascents. Of David. Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, Running down on the beard, The beard of Aaron, Running down on the edge of his garments. It is like the dew of Hermon, Descending upon the mountains of Zion; For there the LORD commanded the blessing- Life forevermore. (Psalms 133 NKJV)


How Does a Christian Stand up for Themselves?

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How Does a Christian Stand up for Themselves?

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"As a Christian how do you stand up for yourself when someone is trying to ruin your reputation?"

A woman in our church once found herself offended. She vented to her husband, “I am so mad at them. I guess I better make them a cake!” This is probably not the first thing I would have thought if I had been mistreated!

As Christians, one of the greatest challenges we face is Jesus’ command to love our enemies. He said, "You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” (Matt 5:43 & 44)


This, of course, is not our first or natural response.  It goes against our nature to love those who are hurting us.


Paul said to the Romans, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” (Romans 12:18) As Christians, it is difficult when people come against us and sometimes more difficult when we need to react to their behavior or correct them.  Romans chapter 12 verses 9-21 gives us instruction on how we are to behave.


As contrary to our nature as it might seem, the best solution is to show an over-the-top display of the love of Christ. Therefore; "IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM; IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP COALS OF FIRE ON HIS HEAD."


What God would want us to do is be an example of forgiveness and love in spite of the mistreatment we are receiving. Just as Christ forgave us, we are to forgive our neighbors.


Now of course, we cannot find this in our own ability. So, we must confess our lack of love, our anger, and our desire for vengeance as sin and ask Jesus for His love, forgiveness and grace to be placed in our heart. By faith, out of obedience, we exchange our nature for His nature.


This has an interesting effect. When we behave this way it confuses our adversaries and makes them feel bad for the evil they have done. This puts us in a place to receive them back into friendship. On the other hand, if we respond with vengeance, they feel justified in the things they have done.


Whenever I find myself in this place, I find it helpful to meditate on Romans chapter 12. As Christians, we are called to show a different character than the world shows. Someone once said, “If we take care of our character, God will take care of our reputation.”

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“How does the Sabbath law or the Old Covenant translate into New Covenant Christianity?


“How does the Sabbath law or the Old Covenant translate into New Covenant Christianity?

“How does the Sabbath law or the Old Covenant translate into New Covenant Christianity? I read that the Catholic Church changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday. Is that true?” 

This has been a struggle for many Christians over the centuries. It comes from our sincere desire to obey God and please Him.


Some will say that the Catholic Church instituted the tradition of Christians worshipping on Sunday rather than Saturday. On one hand, it is true, that the "Catholic Church" did meet on Sunday rather than the typical Jewish Synagogue day being on Saturday (Sabbath). I say “Catholic Church” in the sense of the universal Church—“catholic” means “universal”—on the other hand, this is not referring to the Roman Catholic Church. But why did they meet on Sunday rather than on the Sabbath? In the early Church (during the time of the Apostles) they saw Sunday as significant in that Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week and so this is when they began to gather. Also the Church was born on Sunday (the day of Pentecost) when the Holy Spirit fell upon the worshiping disciples.

How do we know this?

 Paul, when writing to the Corinthians, in First Corinthians 16:2 told them to set aside their offering on the first day of the week so he didn’t have to do a special collection when he came. Also Acts 20:7 tells us that they gathered together on the first day of the week to break bread. Because the resurrection happened on Sunday, that day was traditionally referred to as “The Lord’s Day” John refers to this in Revelation 1:10 to differentiate it from the Sabbath day.  Christians didn’t move the Sabbath day, nor were they seeking to keep the Sabbath in the way that their Jewish brothers did.

 Early Writers give us some clues to how things were in the early Church.

Pliny the Younger, an ancient Roman magistrate, wrote about the worship of the Christians and he said, “They gather early in the morning on a fixed day of the week and sing songs to Christ as to a God.” This was the practice of Christians in the first century. What day was this “fixed day?”

The Didache an early church document written AD 70 instructed the Church:

But every Lord’s day do ye gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure.
(Didache Chapter XIV.11 —Christian Assembly on the Lord’s Day. 14 [A.D. 70]).

 Justin Martyr in the early second Century wrote to Trypho the Jew:

The Lawgiver is present, yet you do not see Him; to the poor the Gospel is preached, the blind see, yet you do not understand. You have now need of a second circumcision, though you glory greatly in the flesh. The new law requires you to keep perpetual sabbath, and you, because you are idle for one day, suppose you are pious, not discerning why this has been commanded you: and if you eat unleavened bread, you say the will of God has been fulfilled. The Lord our God does not take pleasure in such observances: if there is any perjured person or a thief among you, let him cease to be so; if any adulterer, let him repent; then he has kept the sweet and true sabbaths of God. If any one has impure hands, let him wash and be pure.(Dialogue with Trypho the Jew Chapter XII.—The Jews violate the eternal law, and interpret ill that of Moses.)

He also wrote:

For we too would observe the fleshly circumcision, and the Sabbaths, and in short all the feasts, if we did not know for what reason they were enjoined you,—namely, on account of your transgressions and the hardness of your hearts. For if we patiently endure all things contrived against us by wicked men and demons, so that even amid cruelties unutterable, death and torments, we pray for mercy to those who inflict such things upon us, and do not wish to give the least retort to any one, even as the new Lawgiver commanded us: how is it, Trypho, that we would not observe those rites which do not harm us, —I speak of fleshly circumcision, and Sabbaths, and feasts?(Dialogue with Trypho the Jew Chapter XVIII.—Christians would observe the law, if they did not know why it was instituted. [A.D. 155]).

Tertullian wrote

“[L]et him who contends that the Sabbath is still to be observed as a balm of salvation, and circumcision on the eighth day . . . teach us that, for the time past, righteous men kept the Sabbath or practiced circumcision, and were thus rendered ‘friends of God.’ For if circumcision purges a man, since God made Adam uncircumcised, why did he not circumcise him, even after his sinning, if circumcision purges? . . . Therefore, since God originated Adam uncircumcised and unobservant of the Sabbath, consequently his offspring also, Abel, offering him sacrifices, uncircumcised and unobservant of the Sabbath, was by him [God] commended Genesis 4:1-7, Hebrews 11:4. . . Noah also, uncircumcised—yes, and unobservant of the Sabbath—God freed from the deluge. For Enoch too, most righteous man, uncircumcised and unobservant of the Sabbath, he translated from this world, who did not first taste death in order that, being a candidate for eternal life, he might show us that we also may, without the burden of the law of Moses, please God”(An Answer to the Jews Chapter II.—The Law Anterior to Moses. [A.D. 203]).

There are more quotes from early writers that tell us the Church met on the LORD’s day or the eight day but none tell us that the Christians met on the Sabbath day. The only exception to this is in the Book of Acts when the Apostles went into the Synagogue on the Sabbath day to preach the good news to their Jewish brothers. Paul always preached to the Jew first and then to the Gentiles.

We know that the Apostles had gathered on the LORD’s day Acts 2:1 on the Day of Pentecost, and Daily Acts 2:46. Something was definitely different as though every day had become a holy convocation to the LORD. They worshiped every day but saw Sunday as an important day because of the resurrection of Christ and birth of the Church.

Under the New Covenant, Christian diet changed, their worship changed, they died to who they had been and they were born again as a new creation. Early Christians, however did struggle with how they should view the Old Covenant. This came to a head when the Gentiles became part of the Church Acts 10-15. Peter was told by the Lord to eat some strange things! Unclean things! The Lord’s point was that He was opening the door to the Gentiles (Acts chapter 10.) A new day had dawned and it was becoming clear they were under a new covenant.

Once the door was open to the Gentiles, a lot of things came into question. Do the Gentiles have to keep the law of Moses to be saved? Do they have to be circumcised, do the sacrifices, observe the Sabbaths and the Holy days? This question was brought to the Church in Jerusalem (Acts 15). Many were saying that, “Yes, the Gentiles need to become Jews in order to be saved”.  Peter reasoned, “Why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?”  James, then, being the leader of the Church there, said, “Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood.” (Acts 15:19, 20).

We have to understand that this wasn’t a new “Christian Law” but rather guidelines to follow so that they would live pure lives and not offend the Jews. Is it wrong to worship God on the Sabbath? No, but it can be dangerous if you try to keep it believing that somehow God is requiring it of you or that by keeping it you can make God happy with you. It is a good idea to take one day in 7 to worship and rest. Most Christians do that on Sunday and that is OK, but it is not required.

 So how should a Christian view the Sabbath? Paul wrote, “And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it. So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.”

(Colossians 2:13-17)

 In the book of Hebrews Chapter 4 the author argues that the Children of Israel wouldn’t enter into the rest that God intended for them. The Sabbath couldn’t bring rest, entering the promise land couldn’t bring rest, and so “there remains a rest (sabbath) for the people of God.” He concludes that rest is putting our trust in Jesus -- that Jesus is our Sabbath.  Isn’t that amazing?!  Jesus our true rest that God instituted clear back in Genesis!



Why Do Bad Things Happen to God's People?


Why Do Bad Things Happen to God's People?

Q: If God knows our tomorrow and He loves us, why does He allow bad things to happen to His people? How can we see His love through that? 

A: Andrea, The answer to your question is in your question. It has been said, we don’t know the future, but we know the one who holds the future. It is difficult for us to know why God allows bad things to happen to His people, but we find rest in knowing that God has a purpose for all of it because He does love us. Romans 8:28 says, “All things work together for good for those who love God and are the called according to his purpose.”  This knowledge alone helps us to believe that God has a loving purpose for what I am going through.

Being a Christian is far from living an easy life. A good reading of the book of Job shows us that we have an enemy that desires to kill, steal, and destroy, as we see Satan himself taking everything from Job; his family, his wealth, and even his health. Job was the most righteous God fearing man on the face of the earth at the time. Though he didn’t ask Job’s permission, God allowed all of this for a very important reason, to prove to Satan, and the reader, that men will love God even if every blessing is taken from them. Job would say, “Though he slay me, still will I trust Him.” Job 13:15 and For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God, Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” Job 19:25-27

Job had an enduring faith in God and His grace. He understood that he was in need of a redeemer and that his trust in God for this redeemer gave him salvation. He couldn’t think of anything he had done to deserve what was happening to him, but his trust in God was unwavering.

The Apostle Paul is another example of enduring faith. He, contrary to Job, did not see himself as undeserving of his trials. He freely admitted that he was the least of all the Apostles sighting the fact that he had persecuted the Church before being saved. Yet even though he knew he was unworthy of God’s mercy, he also leaned on grace and God's love for us, telling us that all things work together for good.

Not only does God have a purpose for our suffering, but He also knows that it is very temporary. Paul wrote, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 Paul didn’t have an easy life. He lists the trials that he suffered in 2 Corinthians 11:26-28 and I confess I don’t know anyone personally who has been through that much suffering. Yet what does Paul call it? “This light affliction!” Amazing!

I believe that God doesn’t allow anything into our lives that he doesn’t prescribe, if we are His child. Often adversity is where we discover grace. We learn through poverty that God is our provider, we learn through loss that God is our comforter, we learn through struggles that God is our strength, we learn through fear that God is our refuge, we learn through anxiety that God is our peace. Often the Christian life is coming to terms with the fact that God is in control and I am not. And yet, as a loving Father He supplies all of my needs through His riches in Christ Jesus. It is the adversity that drives me to His arms, just as a clap of thunder drives a child into her father’s arms.

In the end we have to believe that God loves us and that He has everything under control. We may not feel it, we may not like it, we definitely don’t see it, but we must believe it.

Thanks for your question. I hope this helps.

Blessings, Pastor Mike


Is God Jealous?


Is God Jealous?

I told someone the other day God is jealous for us. The man looked at me, folded his arms and said with half a smile, “Yeah, I have a problem with that!” What would you say to that man?

If someone didn't believe God was a jealous God, I would assume that they didn't understand what “jealous” meant in that context. If you told someone they were jealous it would likely be taken as an insult to their character, so people have a hard time wrapping their minds around what that means.

I would explain God's jealousy is not envy, unlawful desirousness or covetousness, or any of the negative uses of the word “jealous.” Rather, when we speak of God’s jealousy we are referring to someone unlawfully taking something that belongs to you. For example: I would ask him if he would be jealous for his child if someone were trying to convince them to do drugs, or if they started hanging out with a group of kids who you knew would be a bad influence on them? What if a man was flirting with his wife and she seemed to be flattered? Jealousy would be warranted in those cases! If you weren’t jealous there would be something wrong with you. You would be passive and uncaring for your loved-ones.

The problem is that we don’t typically use the word “jealous” in this sense and that is why it is hard for people to grasp this attribute of God. In the 80’s Oprah Winfrey was sitting in Church, in her account she said the pastor was proclaiming, in cadence style, the names of God. As he was listing them he said, “God’s name is Jealous!” (Exodus 34:14.) She sat there and erroneously thought to herself, “God is jealous of me?” This was the turning point for Oprah who left the Church and plunged headlong into New-Age Christian Mysticism. She has mingled demonic spiritualism it with her Christian roots and has now lead millions astray. She didn’t stop to think that she might be taking God’s jealousy the wrong way. What is ironic is that now God is jealous of her because she is drawing people away from Jesus!

The Bible is clear that God is jealous for us when we go after idols, false religions or things that pull us away from Him -- simply because we rightly belong to Him. For anyone who would take just a moment to look they would see God’s jealousy for us is one of love and care.

Take heed to yourself, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land where you are going, lest it be a snare in your midst. But you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and cut down their wooden images (for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God),

(Exodus 34:12-14)


'You shall have no other gods before Me. 'You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

(Deuteronomy 5:7-10)


So too we should be jealous for our friends and family when they stray or go after false gods or false religion. Paul said to the Corinthians, “For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”

(2 Corinthians 11:2-3)


How old do you think the Earth is?


How old do you think the Earth is?

How old do you think the earth is?

“The beginning of time, according to our chronology, happened at the start of the evening preceding the 23rd day of October, 4004 BC.” Boldly asserts James Ussher in his famed history, The Annals of the World, published in 1658.  I don’t know if I would be that confident. For me the age of the earth is not a hill to die on, I know many Christians who believe the earth is young, about 6000 years old, and many others who believe the earth is 4.5 billion of years old. I don’t have a problem with people holding either viewpoint because I am not qualified to make such assertions, nor do I believe that anyone but God truly knows the answer to the earth’s exact age. 

I tend to lean toward the young earth viewpoint for the same reasons that James Ussher held it and that is simply because the Bible itself doesn’t seem to talk about the earth being old. My biggest problem with old earth theories is that often you have to take the word of God to be figurative, or understand things that the text does not plainly affirm in order to draw those conclusions. To me it seems like a reactionary belief system. Scientists say the earth is billions of years old, and therefore some feel they have to reconcile that with the Bible. Many have done the same with evolution; because scientists believe that evolution is fact, Christians have invented theories like Theistic evolution (God created evolution) to try to reconcile their beliefs with current scientific discoveries. I think this is a bad way to interpret the Bible.

Plainly reading the Bible you wouldn’t get the impression that millions or billions of years had passed from Genesis 1:1 to Genesis 1:31. In fact, I suppose if you asked a child how much time had passed they might boldly say “six days.” Jesus seemed to consider the Genesis account as literal when he argued that Adam and Eve were made in the beginning of creation Matthew 19:4 and Mark 10:6. Paul also references Genesis 3 and builds his argument on a literal Adam and Eve in 1Timmothy 2:13&14.

The Bible has always had it right, even when current science did not. It seems to me that people accept things as fact just because they are printed in books and prominent scientists or professors teach them but when scientists are completely honest they will often admit that they could be wrong. One example of this is a quote by the famous Atheist Robert Jastrow. He said, “For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”

Science always seems to be catching up with the Bible. For instance in the 15th century the prominent view by scientists was that the world was flat and was sitting on top of something. The Bible said that the earth was round, Isaiah 40:22 and that it sits in open space Job 26:7. The Bible also presupposes relativity and that time is a dimension, 2 Peter 3:8. These discoveries have only made it to the scientific world in the last few centuries, thus the quote by Robert Jastrow.

The thing that we must remember is that time itself is a created thing. According to the Bible, God created time for this specific creation and more specifically for man, Isaiah 45:18. The idea that things are old or young is really a nebulous concept in terms of relativity and divine forces that we do not understand. What type of force, pressure, heat and mass acceleration took place when God said, “Let there be light?” What seemed like a day on earth could have been million, even billions of years in comparison to a universe that was being stretched out many times the speed of light.

We want to limit the understanding of this to the size of our own intellect but this is foolish; Romans 11:33, Isaiah 55:8 & 9. The Bible tells us that God does not live inside of time as we do but rather lives outside of time observing the beginning from the end; Isaiah 57:15, Revelation 22:13. So I can't put an age on the earth nor do I know that it’s actually age doesn’t conflict with its relative age. I do not know how the earth needed to be created in order for it to sustain life but I suspect that that is what God has done. I am sure when we are standing before Jesus with front row seats to see the old earth has pass away and we have the privilege of observing Jesus creating a new heaven and a new earth, it will all make much more sense to us.

“Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me. “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone, When the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted for joy?”

Job 38:3-7 NKJV


What's the difference between Mormonism and Christianity in a nutshell?


What's the difference between Mormonism and Christianity in a nutshell?

What's the difference between Mormonism and Christianity in a nutshell?

This is a great question, but somewhat impossible to answer in a "nutshell," it would take a very big nutshell. Surprisingly, Mormonism is probably as different from Christianity as Hinduism is from Buddhism. This can be confusing because our Mormon friends tell us that they are "Christians too." Also, they frequently use many of the same terms we use, but with very different definitions. So when they say that they are "Christians too" they either are not familiar with Biblical Christianity, or they are not being very honest. What they really mean, is that they are "true Christians" and we are of a lower class of apostate Christian. Joseph Smith taught that in his first vision God and Jesus told him "every other creed is an abomination" and "all of their professors are wrong" Joseph Smith History 1:19.  In light of this, and coupled with the belief that every "good person" goes to a level of Mormon heaven, they don't necessarily feel like they need to discuss differences between the claims of Mormonism and Biblical Christianity. According to official LDS doctrine, rarely does anyone go to eternal hell, so to most Mormons, it is not worth arguing about.

We tend to see the stakes a bit higher. Christianity teaches that faith in the real Jesus alone brings salvation, and those who are not saved spend eternity separated from God in a literal Hell. Because of this, discussing differences with Mormons is difficult at best. They don't usually want to talk if you bring up problems or error in their belief. If you are a seeker, they are more than glad to talk and invite missionaries to discuss their beliefs with you. The idea is that if you buy the idea that they are "Christians too" you might be open to hearing about their alleged "restored gospel." Ironically the missionary discussions don't really get into what Mormons believe. These discussions are geared to seem like Christianity with a few extras. An extra book (The Book of Mormon,) a living prophet, and some extra intriguing secrets, The Mormon temple and its rituals. These are sold as the "lost" parts of the Christian Gospel. In reality, no part of the Mormon message is biblically Christian or the biblical gospel (the good news of Jesus Christ as portrayed in the Bible.)

On a fundamental level, Christianity is different from every religion. Religion is based on man's work or enlightenment, and Christianity is based upon what God has done through Jesus Christ. Christians are saved by putting their trust in Jesus Christ alone. Believing in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross, and His resurrection from the dead, to take away all of their sin and give them eternal life. “Not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.  He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of His grace, He declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life" Titus 3:5-7 NLT. We are "saved by grace, through faith, and that not of yourself, it is a gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast" Ephesians 2:8&9. Christianity is the work of God, and all true Christians go to the highest, and only heaven when we die because, and only because, of our faith in what Jesus has done for us.

In Mormonism, a man or woman is "saved by grace, after all that you can do" 2 Nephi 25:23. In other words, after you have done all that you can do, Jesus refinances the rest so you can work it off in one of their levels of heaven (see Miracle of Forgiveness S.W. Kimball Pg. 208.) You have to understand that salvation to a Mormon doesn't mean being with their Heavenly Father, it simply means being resurrected. Some of those who are "saved" will only be saved after 1000 years of torment in hell. Only faithful Mormons get to live in the heaven where the Heavenly Father dwells.

Like all man-made religions, Mormonism is a works-based religion. It is a system where righteousness is earned or achieved, and one of three levels of heaven is entered into based on how hard you have worked. Having said this, they also believe that almost everyone goes to one of three levels of heaven, the third level, the telestial level, is entered only after 1000 years of punishment (Hell). Only faithful Mormon's can go to the Celestial Kingdom and gain an eternal family (become a god or goddess over your own world, populating it with spirit offspring.)

At this point, I want to explain a few big-ticket differences between Mormonism and Biblical Christianity.

Who is God?

As Christians, we serve a God who is eternal (has no origin or ending), He is uncreated, therefore above all created things, and everything was created by Him. He is all powerful, all knowing, everywhere present, and unchanging.  The Bible clearly shows Him manifested in three persons Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and yet He is one God eternal in the heavens. He is incomprehensible (beyond our understanding.) And yet, He has made Himself known to us through His written word, the Bible, and through His Son (God in the Flesh) Jesus Christ.

Being the Almighty, with all of His attributes, He created mankind on this earth for fellowship with Him. His delight was in the sons of men. He allowed mankind to fall and evil to enter this world so that those who had a heart to know God would have to choose to come to Him. The only ones who would come to Him would be those who would be willing to rebel against their fallen human nature and only they would be given the right to be called His children.    

 In Mormonism, god is simply a man who became a god because of his works and faithfulness to Mormon like teachings on his own planet before exaltation.  When he reached worthiness and perfection he and his wife(ives) were given physical bodies of flesh and bone and had billions of spirit children (children born in heaven without bodies from their physical parents.) The Mormon’s god is not eternal, not all knowing, not all powerful, not everywhere present. He is a man exalted to a god, and as man turned god he has limitations. In Mormonism Jesus and the Holy Spirit are separate gods who form a council with the Father that make up the Mormon’s version of the godhead. However, Heavenly Father is the only god Mormons are to worship, or pray to, the only god that they belong to; since he is their literal preexistence father. In this way, they see themselves as quasi-monotheists because they only worship one of the many gods. However, they are polytheists (believe in many gods) in their cosmology.

 Who is Man? 

The Biblical man is a man who was created in the image of God, and God delighted in him. But man disobeyed God and fell. The Bible teaches that due to this fall, all of mankind is born with a sinful nature and as an enemy to God in their hearts and minds. After the fall, every child would be born in this state. But God loved the world so much that He sent his only Son Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, to redeem fallen man.  Jesus took upon himself the penalty of death for every man born into this world.  Those who receive this gift He gave them the right to be called the Children of God. He forgives and forgets their sin, and their names are written in the Lamb's book of life.

The redeemed man (a Christian) does not have a righteousness of his own but is given a new heart and a redeemed mind. God places His nature into the man and writes His laws upon their heart and mind. As the Christian draws closer to Jesus, God gives the Christian His nature and as a result, the Christian does works that please God, as opposed to works trying to earn God's favor. 

These Christian men and women have been made joint heirs with Christ, they will be invited to sit on His throne with Him and to rule and reign with Him. They are given everlasting life and live in fellowship with the Father, Son, and Spirit for all eternity.

In Mormonism, man is a person who was in a preexistent state in heaven. In this preexistence, they were born as spirits to their Heavenly Father (a god of flesh and bone) by one of his wives (also of flesh and bone) but somehow were born without a physical body. The oldest of these children was Jesus and the next was Lucifer. When a plan was set forth to create the world Jesus wanted to give people a choice to become gods, but Lucifer wanted to force everyone to become a god. Heavenly Father rejected Lucifer's plan and accepted Jesus' plan. As a result, war broke out in heaven and Lucifer and his followers were denied physical bodies (they became the devil and the demons) Jesus and his followers became "choice spirits" and would be born into white families and those who were neutral would be born into darker colored families. (Some of these ideas are not spoken of openly in mixed company because of how controversial they are toward people of color.)

When Adam and Eve were placed in the garden, Lucifer helped them gain mortality and the ability to bear children by showing them they could become like God if they ate of the fruit. Mormons teach that Adam and Eve had to exercise their agency (the ability to choose) whether to avoid the fruit of the forbidden tree and remain in a spirit state, or the command to be fruitful and multiply, something they couldn't do without becoming mortal. In the Mormon marriage ceremony, they are given fig leaf aprons to signify this (becoming mortal) and their first step toward becoming exalted. Mormons don't see the fall as a SIN but rather a trangression of the law. They praise Adam and Eve for making this choice so that spirit children could gain physical boides.  

Contrary to the Bible and human nature, they teach that man is born into this world and is perfect and free from sin and sin nature. He becomes a sinner only when he sins. But Jesus came and died so that everyone ever born can be given a resurrection (Mormon idea of salvation.)  The Mormon "gospel" is that it is man's goal to become perfect in his flesh, which includes keeping all of the commandments, doing Mormon works, including temple works, keeping yourself pure (word of wisdom and other ordinances) and being a faithful member of the LDS church. If you become perfect in the flesh you will reach exaltation and become a god of your own world. Most Mormons believe that this process could take much longer than their earthly existence, and most people will never make it.

They believe that most people will end up in their second level of heaven "the terrestrial kingdom" or the third level "the telestial kingdom." They don't really believe anyone will go to Hell in the eternal sense, the only people who go to the place where Satan is (outer darkness) are those who know the fullness of the truth (Mormonism) and reject it.

I could go on and on about differences but I hope that you can see from the descriptions above that Mormonism and Biblical Christianity are diametrically opposed to each other. Mormons find themselves carrying the heavy burden of trying to be worthy and groping for perfection. Sadly, they usually end up in despair and depressed.

Christians, who cling to Jesus, find love, joy, and peace that passes understanding. We know that we don't deserve it, but He calls us to come boldly before His throne of grace to receive mercy, grace, and help in our time of need. We know and feel that our shame has been wiped away and our guilt is gone. He tells us that in His sight we are perfect because of Jesus. Striving is over, and we enter into His rest. He calls us to lay all our burdens on Him. We are free! 

 Due to time constraints, I didn't make a bibliography, but if you would like references for any statements made, I would be happy to supply them.  I may go back and add them as I get requests. 

This article is not written to offend the Mormon people though it may seem offensive, it is not my purpose to attack Mormons but rather to shed light on the truth. Its purpose is to answer a question that was texted in. It is also my hope to educate those who are Christians in the event that they find missionaries on their doorstep, or have an LDS friend who assures them that they are a Christian too.  If you are LDS and disagree with the way I have represented the LDS teachings, please let me know. I will consider any changes that you recommend and correct any misconceptions I may have.  I absolutely do not want to give people the wrong idea about what Mormons believe, or what the LDS Church teaches. If you are LDS, please consider what is stated here, ask questions, leave comments, I would love nothing more than to see you come to know Jesus Christ in truth. 


What Does Calvary Chapel Believe about Baptism?


What Does Calvary Chapel Believe about Baptism?


We believe in the believer's baptism by full immersion in water. We baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, by the authority or name of Jesus. (Matt 28:19)  We believe that when someone is saved they are then commanded to be baptized as is recorded in the book of Acts. 

 Roman's 6 describes baptism as representing a burial with Christ, and symbolizing His resurrection. We believe that baptism identifies the believer with Christ as a witness to the world and the Church. In other words it is an outward sign of an inward commitment, and often validates the authenticity of the believer. 

 The overwhelming majority of verses dealing with what constitutes "salvation" in the New Testament, around 150, exclude any mention of baptism. About 4 verse couple baptism with salvation, therefore we do not believe in baptismal regeneration (salvation by baptism.) Paul explained in Eph 2:8-10 that we are not saved by works, baptism however is a work (a witness) that God has prepared for us as believers.

 Oftentimes, even today, it is unclear if someone is truly committed to Christ until they are baptized, and in that respect it is very closely linked with the issue of salvation. That was the case in Jesus' day, a Jew being baptized was almost considered treason. I would question anyone who claimed salvation, yet refused to be baptized.  

Therefore we believe that a Christian is saved by faith alone through belief and confession Rom 10:8-10. Paul would go as far as to say, "I thank God that I baptized none of you"...and "God did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel." 1 Cor 1:14 &17 If baptism was what saves us it would be considered part of the gospel.

 I don't believe that this is necessarily as big of  an issue as many people make it to be. It really depends where the individual being baptized is placing their trust.  I guess the danger is that someone might think they are saved because they were baptized, placing their trust in their baptism, rather than in the finished work of Jesus Christ. I know many people who have believed that baptism was the moment they were "saved" but they are trusting Jesus, not baptism, as what was saving them. They in effect chose baptism as their moment of public confession. I don't doubt their salvation. However, I have had people show me a baptism certificate to authenticate their salvation, and that made me question where their faith was centered, in their work, or in the work of Jesus.  

 Having said all of that, I do believe that baptism is essential for the believer because it is commanded by Christ, and it is practiced by all those who believe in the book of Acts. Some of whom were obviously saved before being Baptized as in Acts chapter 10. But if a person makes a death bed confession, and trusts Christ before they slip into eternity, I believe they are saved.


What Does Calvary Chapel Believe about the gift of Tongues?


What Does Calvary Chapel Believe about the gift of Tongues?


This is a very controversial topic in the Church today and I know many wonderful Christians on both sides of this argument. Calvary Chapel would not be considered a Pentecostal or Charismatic church. We would be considered by most a Bible Evangelical Church. In our services you will not hear people speaking in tongues (or dancing in the aisles. lol) You may see people singing and raising their hands during worship but that is about as Pentecostal as we get.  

 Having said that, we do believe in the gifts of the Spirit and we do believe that the gift of tongues is a legitimate gift that the Spirit of God gives to some believers 1 Cor 12. The reason we believe that the gift is for today is that the New Testament says that it is. Acts chapter 2 Peter says that the gifts especially tongues and prophecy will be around until the return of Christ. Acts 2:14-21. He also said that the gift of the Holy Spirit was for us and for our children and all those who are far off, as many as the Lord God will call. Acts 2:39.

 Paul also says that, again, tongues and prophecy will be around until Jesus returns. 1 Cor 13 8-11 says:

       "Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.

      For we know in part and we prophesy in part.

      But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

      When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things."

 "That which is perfect" must represent Christ and His rule over the earth. At that time there will be no more question, no more need for the gifts of the Spirit, for Jesus will dwell with us. How do I know this?

 Continuing on in 1Cor 13:12 Paul goes on to say:

           "For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but   then I shall know just as I also am known."

 The fact that Christians argue about the validity of the gifts is, according to this verse, a proof that they are still needed due to our unclear vision, our partial knowledge. Unfortunately we still see through a glass darkly, we still only know in part. When Jesus comes there will be no more confusion and division on these issues, praise Him! To state the obvious, that which is perfect has not yet come.

 So what place does tongues have at Calvary Chapel? As Paul said in 1 Cor 14:40 we believe that all things should be done decently and in order. We don't believe that tongues on a Sunday Morning service would be decent or orderly. If someone were to randomly speak in tongues on a Sunday morning. (this hasn't ever happened by the way) We would stop the service for them and wait for an interpretation, and if there wasn't one, we would politely ask the person to remain silent and ask that there be no more tongue speaking for the rest of the service.  If there was an interpretation we would thank the interpreter and continue the service. Either way we spend a few moments to explain what just happened. The "tongue speaker" would then be talked to after service to see what their motives were, and then instructed accordingly.

 We do however encourage that the gifts of the Holy Spirit be used; tongues can be used in a prayer meeting (again waiting for an interpretation.) or can be prayed silently, encouragement can be given, a word of prophecy can be spoken into someone's life, a word of knowledge can be spoken to someone, the gift of helps, or exhortation can be exercised and should be within a health church family. And with all this going on, nothing should seem wacky or out of order. This is how things are at Calvary Chapel, not strange, but alive with the Spirit of God. Nobody has ever left our Church thinking, "crazy Pentecostals!" but they have left saying "Jesus is real."


Why Don't We Have Altar Calls?


Why Don't We Have Altar Calls?


We have done alter calls in the past and we will probably do them in the future. I tend to use this only when I feel like the Holy Spirit is telling me to do it. I don't have a strong gifting as an evangelist, but I am more a pastor/teacher, so I only do them if I feel prompted.

I am guessing the question is, why don't we do them every week? The alter call is a tool to prompt people to respond to repentance or salvation following an emotional appeal by the minister after a salvation message. You do not find examples of this in the Bible (telling people to come forward to the altar) but rather you see a call to repent and be baptized for non believers. We were actually doing that at least once a quarter in the sanctuary after service until our inflatable hot tub sprung a leak.

There are a few reasons why we don't believe it to be a necessary tool for every service. We believe that the Church is for the believer. Unbelievers are welcome to attend, and many people get saved (We have been averaging between 30-50 baptisms a year) but my main job as a pastor is to equip the saints (believers) to do the work of the ministry. I try to share the gospel within my messages, but my main objective is to teach the Word of God so that believers will become effective Christians. Most of the people who get saved in our fellowship are a result of their healthy Christian friends who can lead them to Christ and pray with them to receive Christ. Their altar call is probably happening in a living room somewhere, and they have a friend to disciple them and hold them accountable. 

Many Churches use the alter call at the end of service because every message they preach is an evangelistic message, (a call to salvation or repentance.) There will also be a strong call to the believer to bring their unsaved friends so that they can be saved next week. The error in this method is that the average believer is starved for the Word of God since they only hear salvation messages every week. They don't grow, and so they don't share their faith or do the work of the ministry. 

The altar call was something that wasn't used until the early 1800's. It was popularized by an Arminian evangelist/revivalist by the name of Charles Finney in the 1830's. He used altar calls in his tent meetings, so many ministers began to use them in their Sunday morning services. Along with the belief that one could lose their salvation, the altar call gave a person the opportunity to be saved at least 52 times in a year. I personally think that is nonsense. Sadly I have been in denominations that believed that and did a weekly altar call. I can speak from experience that many of these Churches I attended, who used altar calls, counted the people who came to the altar, and recorded them as "decisions for Christ" to report to their denomination. If a minister could get a lot of people to the altar, he might be called to a bigger Church. 

I can see the value of an altar call now and again, but I feel it is important to listen to the Holy Spirit and follow His lead. I have gone through seasons where I have called people forward for repentance, salvation or renewal on almost a weekly basis. These were fruitful times because I felt prompted to do so and God did the necessary work. On other occasions I planned it and called people forward trying to duplicate those special times, usually with little or awkward results. 

Every Sunday we do have people in the front for prayer. I like this because if someone was feeling convicted they can come forward and counsel or get prayer. This also keeps it from becoming a performance.