Glenn Beck*This article is in response to Glenn Beck’s recent statements about the backlash of speaking at Liberty University.  I have opposed inviting Glenn Beck speak at Convocation because he is not a Christian.

Dear Glenn Beck,

Discovering your program long before you moved to New York and then Texas, from the early days I enjoyed your political commentary, satire, and “Moron Trivia”.  While I do not always agree with you, you have amassed an empire that does try to combat the liberal bias prevalent in other outlets.  I rarely listen to you today, but I am not hostile to you.

I am a graduate of Liberty University in Lynchburg Virginia.  In fact, I am not merely a one time graduate,  I hold my undergraduate degree and a Master of Divinity, Master of Business Administration, and Master of Arts in Religion from Liberty.   I am a conservative and not one who would bash you or Liberty because of your conservative stance.

Yet, I opposed you speaking at my Alma Mater.  This has nothing to do, as you said, with hate, it has everything to do with doctrine.  You see, I am a Christian who holds to the historic faith of Christianity.  You do not.

You hold to the Mormon faith.  While you claim to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, your church has made a mockery of the Jesus I worship.  Calling Jesus the brother of Lucifer, you attack Jesus’ Holiness and essence.  Denying the Trinity, you reject the fullness of the glory of God.  Adding to the Word of God, you attack the basis of all our knowledge of God Almighty.

You are not merely in another denomination, you are in another religion.  You are not worshiping Jesus Christ, you are worshiping another person you name “Jesus Christ.”  This is not merely my opinion, for 2,000 years the denials of these key doctrinal differences have always been considered outside the Christian religion.  I am not making up a new criteria, I affirm these criteria.

Let me assure you, we will not share heaven together.

The true Gospel says that we are all sinners and no amount of good work can help you achieve heaven.  In fact, your Baptism means nothing.  Your good works means nothing.  Your worship at your Mormon church means nothing.  None of this can garner you favor with God.

We differ on many issues.  For instance, Christian believe Jesus is both Elohim and Yahweh.  In fact, Jesus taught that the entire Old Testament is about Jesus.  Jesus was not our brother in the sense that we are like Him, Jesus is our God in the sense that He created us.  Jesus is not the firstborn in the sense that Jesus was born first, but that He is the pre-eminent God who suffered and rose from the dead.  He is risen, not as merely an example for us, but because He took on our sins and conquered the grave.

Jesus has been, is, and forever will be fully God.  We are not and never will be.

What you worship is nothing more than an elevated human.  What I worship is God who became human.  You expect us to become gods.  My God calls that understanding blasphemy.

In other words, we are in two different religions worshiping two different people who both happen to be named “Jesus.”

Salvation, as well, is not about a feeling you get where God gives you this burning bosom.  No, salvation is  being regenerated by the Holy Spirit to become a new creation.  If you had a burning bosom, you need to go to the doctor.  God never calls us to look inside for confirmation of our salvation, that is an 1800′s modernistic approach to religion, not the religion of the Bible.

Your religion focuses on the subjectivity of God.  God is more than subjective, He is truth.  You focus on emotions to convert people.  God in the Bible focuses on repentance and faith.

I opposed your appearance at Liberty because you are not a Christian.  This does not mean I hate you.  I don’t.  I am captive to the truth of the Word of God, and I am convinced you are not only wrong, but not a Christian.

We may agree politically.  On many issues I am glad to unite with you.  But theologically, we must be honest about our divisions.  As Dr. Albert Mohler stated when he addressed BYU, “We will not share heaven together, but we may go to jail together.”

I will never agree with inviting non-Christians to address Liberty Students in our convocation.  You are no exception.  However, do not take that as hating you, take it as acknowledging our tremendous differences.

For the Glory of God Alone,

Derick R. Dickens, MBA, MDiv, MA

Christians sing. As far as I know, there are not too many faiths whose adherents make congregational singing an integral part of their worship. But when Christians gather to worship, they inevitably sing. Colossians 3:16 gives Christians their orders: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” We love to do this, to join together to sing out our joy before the Lord. While our practices may vary from church to church and culture to culture, and while we express this worship through different words and in a great variety of styles, we all make it a part of our meetings.

But I think there is one part of this verse we tend to overlook: the “one another.” If I could distill this verse down to its essence I would do it like this: We sing from the gospel, for one another, to the Lord.

We are to let the word of Christ, the gospel, dwell in us richly. When we do that, there will be a natural outburst of joy, gratitude and worship that will express itself in song. We will sing out our praises with thankfulness in our hearts to God. This is good. This glorifies God.

What we tend to overlook is the part about teaching and admonishing one another. We all know there is a vertical dimension to our worship, where our songs give us a voice to sing to the Lord in praise or in petition, in expressions of wonder or in pleas for his favor. Most of us think far less about the horizontal dimension of worship, where we worship for the benefit of our Christian brothers and sisters. The least-sung song is the song we sing for one another.

Yet the Bible tells us that when we stand and sing as a community of Christians, we are teaching and admonishing one another. When we stand and sing, we are not only singing to God, but are also singing for one another. When I sing, I am teaching and admonishing you; when you sing, you are teaching and admonishing me. Your words come to my ear as instruction and correction. At least, they should. If I am listening, they do.

Do you sing for the people in your church even as you sing to the Lord? Do you stand ready to teach and be taught? Do you stand ready to admonish and be admonished by the words you will sing and the words you will hear from the people around you?

If we are to take this horizontal dimension seriously, we need to rid ourselves of the mindset that says singing is primarily a time for me and Jesus, a time for me to commune with the Lord as I sing to him. Yes, that happens and yes, it is good to sing out praises and to enjoy the sweet fellowship with the Savior. But my whole posture of body and posture of heart will change if I am aware that I am singing for you and you are singing for me. If this is the case, I will pay attention to the words, I will engage, I will look around, I will listen, I will worship as part of a worshipping community. Haven’t you known the encouragement of seeing others worship, of hearing their words in your ears?

Very practically, when I sing, “Come, Ye Sinners” I will be singing it with an awareness that those words are falling on sin-deafened ears as a call from me to the person who remains lost in his sin. “Jesus ready stands to save you, full of pity, love and power.” So turn to him! Don’t delay! When I sing, “Behold the man upon the cross, my sin upon his shoulders,” I am singing it for you, telling you to look to Christ and in his suffering and death to see the love of the Father, “that he should give his only Son to make a wretch his treasure.” Be encouraged by the depth of the Father’s love!

Christian, you have the great privilege of worshipping in song, and in that song, the joy of blessing and encouraging your brothers and sisters even while you glorify God. Sing from the gospel, sing for one another, and sing to the Lord. It will transform the way you worship.

Photo credit: Shutterstock.

 

PraisesAbout a year ago, I was in the car with my son and saw a billboard that took me by surprise. It was for a new church plant in our area and proudly displayed the words, “Church that doesn't **** (a word that I will not use  here because it is absolutely inappropriate!) ” Really?! Is this the best we can do? Is the Gospel so boring and flat that we have to resort to this kind of ridiculous “marketing” tactic to “bring in the sheaves?”

I really wish that this was an isolated example of how far many churches seemed to have moved away from fully trusting in the power of the Gospel to change the hearts of men. Unfortunately, there are quite a few more examples that I have seen over the past few years in this trend. These include using coarse language in sermons, featuring secular songs as worship songs (for example, Joan Osborne‘s “One Of Us” “What if God was one of us? Just a slob like one of us…”, or ACDC's “Highway To Hell”) or tailoring their sermon series to the felt needs of “seekers” rather than trusting the Word of God to equip true Christians in strengthening their faith so they can preach the Gospel outside of the walls of the church with a boldness that will draw people to the Cross.

Recently, I was speaking with a good friend of mine who had left a church that is certainly well within orthodoxy, but has allowed it's focus to fall on the excellence of musical performance rather than the excellence of the Word of God. Before he and his wife left the church, he had a meeting with the worship leader and told him that the reason they were leaving was that the music was TOO good and it overshadowed the preaching of the Word. Now, this is not to say that we should not strive for excellence. We serve the Almighty Eternal God and He is certainly worthy of our best offerings of praise. But just as my friend said, it seems that some congregations are focusing on using music to draw crowds to the church rather than focusing on preaching the Gospel to draw men's hearts to Christ.

What is it that are we called to do? Are we just more self-help peddlers who feel that the pulpit is an extension of our blog sites? Or are we frustrated rock musicians that secretly (or maybe not so secretly) would rather be rocking out the downtown arena than playing for a bunch of squares in a stiff “traditional” church? Why do we try to compete with what the entertainment industry does anyway? (They have much larger budgets and are so much better at it than we are.) But even if we could do it as well as the world what is the point? What is it that changes the hearts of men? Is it helping them in their marriages? Is it helping them with their finances? Is it helping them be better parents? While all of these things are well and good and can be the RESULT of a changed heart, these are not the things that bring about that change in the first place. In Mark 7:15, Jesus said, “There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” Therefore in order for a man's actions to change, his heart must first be changed. But, can that truly happen if what we are doing is simply catering to the desires of men whose hearts are darkened by their own sin? Paul Washer of HeartCry Missionary Society once said, “The church in it's desire to become relevant makes itself look like a fool in the midst of it's enemies. The church today in America looks like a Six Flags Over Jesus. Because if you draw people using carnal means, you will have to keep people using carnal means” In many ways, we have allowed the style of our worship to trump the substance of the Truth. Besides, if we have to use some kind of laser light show to counter the short attention span of a bunch of people with ADD tendencies, what does that say about our own opinion of the Gospel? If we don't have a respect for it, is it any wonder that others don't either? Paul in Romans 1:16 said, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

So what is it that we DO have that is better than the world and they cannot duplicate? The Word of God. Paul spoke of this in Romans 10 when he was discussing how one comes to faith in Christ. Verse 17 says, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” In order for anyone to be able to receive the gift of faith in Christ, they must first hear the word of Christ. The only way that can happen is through the preaching of the Word. Let's let the Word of God do what it is capable of doing and that is changing people's hearts.

Let's keep our focus on the right things. For our worship services, leave the blog posts on the blog sites and the arena rock for in the arenas. While we can have different styles of worship services, in the end, style must take a back seat to the preaching of the Word. Worship services are not for Tony Robbins or Metallica wannabes. They are for those of us who are redeemed to worship our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in spirit and in truth, stemming from our love for Him and our love for His Word.

And, that is certainly something the world cannot duplicate!