Culture, Missions and Attire

When the time came for Jesus Christ to return to the Father, he left a very emphatic command to “go into all the world” (Matthew 28:19-20) with the Good News about the Kingdom of God and eternal life. At the end of Revelation, we get a glimpse of those who are standing before the throne praising God, and are told that they are from every nation, tribe and tongue” (Revelation 5:9).

While sadly, the job has not been finished, there is something that has gone on in the past, and sadly still occurs today, that involves missionaries going to unreached people groups and, instead of making them just Christians, they try to make them Western Christians. Even worse, there is sometimes the result, whether intentionally or not, of creating perpetually dependent churches instead of self-supporting, self-teaching, and self-propagating indigenous churches.

Please don’t misunderstand me on this. I am not saying that this is always the case, or even usually the case. But where it happens, the damage to the new believers and future missionaries in the area is disproportionately large! And there is an alternative to this.

In the late 19th Century, J. Hudson Taylor planted the China Inland Mission, and was thought to be odd because he adopted Chinese dress and culture as much as possible while there. He also focused on training Chinese believers to be leaders and teachers in the congregations. That is exactly how it is supposed to be done! The Apostle Paul outfit this way in 1 Corinthians 9:19-22:

“For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.”

Another example of this was in Athens, where he started off his talk on Mars Hill by relating as much as possible to things they knew like worship of gods and Greek philosophy. Didn’t Jesus use many agrarian examples in because of the audience he was communicating with?

This is what much of the motivation is with translating the Word of God into the heart language of the unreached people’s. Put the Word into their language so that it more easily penetrates their heart and mind! And what Hudson Taylor experienced with being more warmly received because of his native attire and language skills.

So how far do we go in this acculturation process? Well honestly, it depends on the culture. If they are worshipping by eating the beating heart of a neighboring tribal chief, we should, probably not do that. But what about attire? There is nothing wrong with adopting the clothing of those to whom God has called you to minister. Well what if they are topless, or even naked unreached tribes? Well, how humble are you willing to be to reach the lost? If they don’t wear much clothing, then you should, do the same. I know that sounds radical, but we need to be radically obedient if we are to reach the world with the Gospel. If being dressed (or undressed) like the indigenous people is what it takes, then that is what needs to be done. At the very least, you won’t be accused of destroying their culture by trying to make them westerners.

This is a radical concept, I know. But at least consider it, and think about this: when John saw the saved from every nation, tribe, and tongue, how did he know that? Perhaps because of the way they were dressed.

Where There Is No Law

I know I have been slack concerning my writing, but I hope this will partially make steps in the right direction in that regard. What I want to talk about is a pharisaical habit of making rules where there are none. The motivation for the Pharisees to do this seemed to be good. If there was no specific law, they could take a look at what was there and make their own rules and bind them on others. Never mind that this is an affront to God and says in effect that He forgot to tell us something.
There are numerous so called “gray areas” where things are just not spoken about in the Bible. I put these into some specific categories for your consideration. But please, throughout this post, remember Romans 4:15:

“For the law brings wrath, because where there is no law there is no transgression either.” Romans 4:25 (NET)

1. Things we have now that didn’t exist in ancient times. One example I can think of is, “how much time should I spend working in my car?”. Well the Bible doesn’t address home mechanics because they didn’t have cars back then. Each one should research Scripture, and then pray about it. Determine what biblical principles might apply to the situation (i.e. Stewardship, family obligations, etc.) and decide what is best.

2. Things that the Bible mentions in both positive and negative lights. For instance wine with dinner. Some people can do this with no problem, and others have conscience issues with it. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. If you are a recovering alcoholic, you should, not do this. But also don’t condemn those who are able to do so. We should just determine not to put a stumbling block in another’s way. (See Romans 14 for a more thorough discussion of this)

3. Things that have bee common for millennia, but are not spoken about in a positive or negative sense in Scripture. This can get a little dicey. But this is also where we get in trouble with God for calling things sinful that are not. Remember Romans 4:15

“where there is no law there is no transgression either.” As much as we think something is not good, we cannot out the sin label on it unless there is a law against it specifically. Since I tend not to shy away from controversy, let me give you an example – masturbation. (I’m 53, so this isn’t some young man out of control with raging hormones trying to justify his behavior.) Even though this practice has been common for centuries, the Bible never addresses it. There is no law against it. Therefore we cannot call it a transgression. Please don’t bring up Onan here, because this is not what he was doing. Ah, but you have to lust to do it! Wrong, especially for young men and women. They have the ability to do it based on hormone alone! Besides, lust is “desire with intent”, so unless there are plotting to steal someone’s spouse, they are not committing adultery in their hearts. But how many young people are taught the opposite and walk around with loads of false guilt from pharisaical teaching? 

We dare not accuse God of forgetting to mention a sin, or we are attacking the sufficiency of Scripture. Besides, that data shows that close to 100% of men and 60% of women do it anyway because it is a natural form of release prior to marriage.

So let’s stop making rules where God has not. The Bible is silent on this, so we must also be silent. But again, just because something is allowed doesn’t make it wise to do it. Prayerfully make your decision and then live with it without condemning those who decide differently.

Practical Annihilationists

As some of you know, I hold to the orthodox,albeit minority, view that lost souls are judged and then destroyed in hell at the judgment. Words like “destruction” “perish” and “death” mean just what they say, and we don’t have to do semantic gymnastics to make them mean something else. For awhile, I wondered why most believers didn’t see what I saw in scripture and believe in annihilation of the lost, too. 

But it has occurred to me that deep down, the vast majority of Christians must believe as I do. They talk as though hell exists, and they aren’t universalists. Perhaps they give lip service to the teaching of eternal conscious torment, but don’t really think it’s true. That must be the case, because there is no other way to explain their actions.
You see, if the vast majority of professing Christians actually believed that a large number of people hit hey know and live were headed for an eternity if conscious fiery torment in hell, there is no way anyone could keep them from telling everyone they know about salvation in Jesus Christ! We would spend whatever it cost, exert whatever effort we could, and travel to the ends of the earth to keep people from that horrible fate! 

Read this quote from Penn Jilette, who is an atheist.
“I’ve always said that I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there’s a heaven and a hell, and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life, and you think that it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward—and atheists who think people shouldn’t proselytize and who say just leave me along and keep your religion to yourself—how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?”

“I mean, if I believed, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that a truck was coming at you, and you didn’t believe that truck was bearing down on you, there is a certain point where I tackle you. And this is more important than that.”
Think about that. Even an atheist can see that an unwillingness to risk a socially awkward situation in or to tell someone about salvation is an act if hatred.

In 2012, a LifeWay survey found 80 percent of those who attend church one or more times a month believe they have a personal responsibility to share their faith, but 61 percenthave not told another person about how to become a Christian in the previous six months.
Since our actions reveal more thoroughly than anything else what we truly believe, the only logical conclusion I can come to is that about 61 percent of regular churchgoers, are either universalists who don’t believe in hell, Annihilationists like me who believe in eternal capital punishment (i.e. The Second Death), or are not really Christians at all because they hate billions of people. Whatever the case, it is obvious they don’t believe in eternal conscious torment. 
So which is it?

John 10 & the Doctrines of Grace

At the end of chapter 10 in the Gospel of John, Jesus clearly sets forth the doctrines of salvation, or as some call them the Doctrines of Grace. These doctrines are true, because the Bible records that Jesus taught them. So based in the Bible, not any teachers like Calvin or Spurgeon, we are obligated to believe them. 

But you don’t believe, because you are not of my sheep, as I told you.

Here is something that Jesus did NOT say. He did not say “you are not my sheep because you don’t believe.” No, he said they did not believe because they were not his sheep. Do you see the importance of that distinction? In that one sentence Jesus lays out the foundations of total depravity and unconditional election. Can someone make themselves a sheep by believing, or are they believing because Jesus made them his sheep?

Well fine, then how do we know who the sheep are?

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give eternal life to them. John 10:26

Those who are the Elect/sheep have the ability to hear the voice of Christ. He has a close, intimate relationship with them, which causes them to follow him. In that three part process, did you notice where we come into the picture? Our first active, rather than passive, part is to follow Jesus. He also gives us eternal life as a result.

They will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of my Father’s hand. John 10:28

At this point, someone usually says that while no outside force can steal us away, we have the option of losing our own salvation. Tell me, are you “someone”? Are you so powerful that you can extricate yourself from the Father’s hand? The most powerful force in the universe is actively holding onto us. We are eternally secure because we hear His voice and persevere to the end. In fact, it is only because of Christ’s keeping power that we are able to keep following at all.

So in chapter 10 of John, we see the Doctrines of Grace laid out for us by Jesus Christ himself. I dislike the acrostic of TULIP because it is imprecise but here is how it is given to us in John 10.

Total Inability (i.e. Total Depravity) – But you don’t believe, because you are not of my sheep (vs 26)

Unconditional Election – My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give eternal life to them. (vs 27)

Particular Redemption (Limited Atonement) – I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep (vs 11)

Effectual Call (Irresistable Grace) – Again, verse 27. His sheep hear his voice and follow him. Period.

Perseverance of the Saints – They will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of my Father’s hand. (Vs 29)

 Jesus proclaims the Doctrines of Grace in john 10, and we should interpret the rest of Scripture on this subject in light of Jesus’ own words.

Two For the Ages

Jesus often spoke about different ages. But what stands out, at least to me, is that he only referred to two of them. He kept it simple. There was “this age”, and “the age to come.” Where that run afoul of many people’s doctrine is that they have all sorts of ages on their charts and diagrams, along with numerous theories that tie together what had seemed to be unrelated verses into a neat whole. 

The problem with that, is it ignores a simple yet foundational rule of hermeneutics: when interpreting a passage or passages, your interpret the difficult ones in light of the more straightforward ones. Start with the ones that we know, and then interpret the more complicated passages with the thought in mind that whatever you come up with as an answer cannot violate what is taught in the easy verses.

We can even put this principle to the test in interpreting biblical prophecy. We take the simple and plain teachings of Jesus in the Gospels and interpret the rest of prophecy in within that framework.

As stated above, Jesus talked about only two ages. We can jump into Daniel, Zechariah, Ezekiel and Revelation, but in the end, we had better have two ages or we missed it somewhere. We cannot come up with more than two ages and still be within the framework that Jesus set forth plainly. Yet folks end up with a Jewish Age, a Millennial Age, the age of miracles, and on and on ad nauseum. Let’s start with what Jesus did in fact say.

“Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.” Matthew 12:32

When Jesus talks about “this age”, he is obviously talking about the time right then. But notice what Jesus says about the age to come (singular). There would not be the opportunity to have sins forgiven. Let’s see where else Jesus talks about the ages.

“So Jesus answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life.
Mark 10:29-30  (emphasis mine)

Note that Jesus describes the “age to come” as one where true disciples will have eternal life.

Luke 18:40 recounts this same event and says the age to come is one which will feature those with eternal life. Why? Because the age to come is the eternal state in heaven. That fact wipes out a theory that is gaining in popularity called Full Preterism. This unusual doctrine teaches that all prophecy has already been fulfilled at the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. by the Romans. That event marked, they claim, the end of the Jewish Age, and the beginning of the Gentile Age.

The problem is, that is too many ages! We end up with the Jewish Age, the Gentile or Church Age, and the eternal state in heaven. To claim this is to go against the clear teaching from Jesus that there are only two ages, not three. It is this present world, and then eternity. This is even stated in the negative by Jesus.

So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”
Matthew 13;49-50

There will be an individual judgment where some will be cast into the furnace “at the end of the age” Jesus says. That has not happened, and if it did already happen, He missed some!

No, the doctrine of Full Presterism does not stand up to Scripture without doing violence to the clear two age teaching of Jesus Christ.
The Second Coming of Christ has not already occurred, and we will spend the next and only other age in heaven or hell.

Is Allah Our God or Baal?

During much of the Old Testament, the Phoenicians and Canaanites were known to worship an idolatrous local deity named Baal (pronounced bah – all). While this makes for interesting ancient history, do we find remnants of Ba-al worship today? Actually, we do find just that.

“According to the Encyclopedia of Religion, Allah corresponded to the Babylonian god Baal, and Arabs knew of him long before Mohammed worshipped him as the supreme God. Before Islam the Arabs recognized many gods and goddesses, each tribe had their own deity. There were also nature deities. Allah was the god of the local Quarish tribe, which was Mohammed’s tribe before he invented Islam to lead his people out of their polytheism. Allah was then known as the Moon God, who had 3 daughters who were viewed as intercessors for the people into Allah. Their names were Al-at, Al-uzza, and Al-Manat, which were three goddesses; the first two daughters of Allah had names which were feminine forms of Allah. Hubal was the chief God of the Kaaba among the other 360 deities. Hubal was the chief God of the Kaaba among the other 360 deities. Hubal was a statue likeness of a man whose body was made of red precious stones whose arms were made of gold. (Reference Islam George Braswell Jr., quoted in”

When you think about the linguistic progression it makes sense. Ba-al becomes Ba-alla, and then Allah. Ever wonder why mosques have a crescent moon atop them? Makes sense if you are worshipping a moon God. So, far from being the same God as the One worshipped by Christians and Jews, Allah is in fact the ancient enemy of the people of God. 

The Biblical and historical evidence shows that the Moabites worshiped Baal. The pre-Islamic and Muslim sources show (a) that the Meccans took over the idol Hubal from the Moabites and (b) that Allah and Hubal are actually identical. Thus, whether the Meccans are Ishmaelites or not, the evidence is still strong and sufficient to conclude that Muhammad’s Allah is actually Hubal, i.e. the Baal of the Moabites and thus not the God of the Bible. Muhammad incorporated the characteristics and names of various other gods into his new monotheistic message about Allah, but he apparently started the construction of Allah with Hubal, the chief god of the Meccans. (

Is it any wonder, then, that worshippers of this god would hate the Jews as well as Christians. When Muslims pray to Allah, they are praying to a demon, not to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob! Heed Paul’s warning to the in 1 Corinthians 10:19-21:

“What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons.”

Don’t fall for the politically correct trap of assuming that Jehovah God and Allah are the same being. May it never be! 

“Ye are my witnesses, saith Jehovah, and my servant whom I have chosen; that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am Jehovah; and besides me there is no saviour. I have declared, and I have saved, and I have showed; and there was no strange god among you: therefore ye are my witnesses, saith Jehovah, and I am God. Yea, since the day was I am he; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand: I will work, and who can hinder it?” (Isaiah 43:10-13 ASV)

Was Jesus A Street Preacher?

Was Jesus Really A Street Preacher?

I have heard it said by some that “Jesus was a street preacher”. We should not assume this, or anything, is accurate until we examine it in the Scriptures, no matter how good it sounds. Now by “street preacher”, I am talking about someone who stands there yelling or shouting into a bull horn at people whether they are listening or not. I am not talking about preaching in a public place to a group of people who have gathered to hear what you have to say. So let’s begin in the Old Testament with a messianic prophecy about Jesus in Isaiah 42:1-2. 

“Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold;

My chosen one in whom My soul delights.

I have put My Spirit upon Him;

He will bring forth justice to the nations.

“He will not cry out or raise His voice,

Nor make His voice heard in the street.”

Wow! It says specifically that Jesus would not be a street preacher, crying out in the street at people! Just in case anyone questions whether or not this verse is speaking about Jesus, it is quoted directly about him in Matthew 12:19.

“He will not quarrel nor cry out,

Nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets.”

We have numerous examples of Jesus teaching publicly to those who had come to hear him, who got his attention, or privately to others whose homes he visited. What Jesus didn’t do, however, was stand on the street shouting at passers by to attract attention. To do so would have meant that he was not fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 42.  

So if you want to preach to a group of people publicly, where you can be overheard, then fine. Teach people one to one? Great! But standing on the street yelling at people is not what Jesus did! Don’t like that? Your argument is with the Bible, not with me.

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