Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving


A Psalm of Thanksgiving.

1 Make a joyful
shout to the Lord, all you lands!
2 Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His
presence with singing.
3 Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who
has made us, and not we ourselves;
His people and the sheep of His pasture.
4 Enter into His
gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise.
thankful to Him, and bless His name.
5 For the Lord is good; His mercy is
everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.

the first three verses begin with a command. The commands to Praise, Serve, and
Know are not exclusive to the people of God. These are commands to all people
in all lands. Glorifying God in whatever we do (1 Cor. 10:31) is the duty of
all mankind.

through verse three the attention focuses on “we” that is God’s redeemed
people. The people of God not only share the duty to glorify God with all
mankind, but delight in that worship because of their unique relationship with
God. God’s people receive protection and provision. We are the “sheep of His
pasture.” Consequently we delight to gather with His people at His place of
worship and praise His name. We respond in thankfulness and worship.

psalmist ends with three reasons why we should be thankful. First, God is good.
All that He does is for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28). Second, God is
merciful. His mercy is new every day. We know that because every day we receive
better than what we deserve (Lamentations 3:22-23). Third, God is truthful and
His Word will endure forever. God never lies or changes His mind. When God
makes a promise we can be assured that He will keep it (Numbers 23:19).

is the duty of all mankind, and the delight of all the redeemed!



Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sins of Omission

James 4:17 Therefore, to him who knows to do
good and does not do it, to him it is sin.

Lying, cheating, lusting, and steeling are all sinful
activities. When we think of engaging in sinful activity, perhaps the first
things that may come to our mind is doing the things that we should not do. In
our text, James reminds us that there is another category of sinful activity to
avoid, the sins of omission.

Failing to do the right thing is wrong. The recent sexual abuse scandal surrounding the Penn State football program is a reminder of this fact. At this point there is conflicting information as to what did and what did not happen. The person who apparently first discovered the abuse allegedly reported it to his superiors. Given the nature of the crime it appears that he should have taken more aggressive action to prevent future abuse. He failed to act to the degree a reasonable person should act in protecting the most vulnerable. Those to whom the information was relayed likewise apparently failed to act in an appropriate way in confronting the abuser and reporting his actions to the police for further investigation.

Christians are called to a higher standard. We must not only not do the wrong thing, but we must also not fail to do the right thing.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Just Say No!

Ephesians 5:16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

Every day I feel like I have to squeeze 100 hours of good things into a 24 hour day. It is just not possible. You have to SAY NO to some good things. You cannot do everything. Recently I was discussing this issue with one of our Elders at GRBC. He sent me a helpful article he wrote several years ago while he was a busy pastor in New York. Perhaps you will find it helpful as well. If so please pass it on.

Just Say No!
(First Baptist Church Johnson City, NY Sunday School Newsletter)
Spring 2003
Dr. Andrew T. Alexson

When my friend Esther approached me, I knew I should say no to whatever her request would be. But when she asked me to write an article on "How To Say No", how could I refuse?

There are two surefire biblical ways to get everything done that is in your Day planner. You can pray like Joshua in Joshua 10:12-14. Or while you are waiting for the sun to stop, you can say, "Yes"… "Yes" to God.

God's sovereignty means that He has both the power to stop the sun and the right to call us to serve Him. Saying no to the manifold demands of this world means saying yes to God's plan for our lives. It follows then that knowing God's plan is important. We have by our phone a list of prayerfully derived family goals (immediate, short-term and long-term) and a calendar. We use our posted goals to filter the good requests from the great. We use the calendar to schedule (guarantee) our priorities and activities. It is much easier to say "No" when the time has already been committed. By the way, this system of prioritization works with the checkbook, too!

For example, I have recently said "No" to a certain ministry activity request and a missionary support request. Both opportunities were very good, but they didn't align with how I believed God would want me to spend my time and money. I could easily say "No", because in essence I was saying "Yes" to God's plan for my life. It is vital to say, "Yes" to the GREAT things and "No" to the GOOD things. At the ripe old age of 44, I don't have much discretionary time left to spend on good things. The rest of my days should be spent serving God in great things.

Like Paul in Philippians 3:10-14 and Hebrews 12:1-2, we should know God's plan for our lives, drop all the excess baggage, and serve Him wholeheartedly.
This can only be accomplished by saying, "Yes" to God's demands, thereby letting good things pass on by choosing the best.

Friday, July 8, 2011

John MacArthur Biography

Review of John MacArthur Biography by Barbara Challies

I read Iain Murray’s recent biography of John MacArthur after my husband received it as a gift. As my reading tends to be mostly about, and by, “dead white men,” I had little direct knowledge of MacArthur, who is still very much alive. I did, however, know him by reputation and held him in the highest regard for the wonderful consistency and forthrightness I heard of from others. So, when Tim asked me to write a brief response to Murray’s book, I did it gladly, but as a MacArthur neophyte.

I had expected to read of a man who loves God’s word with his whole heart and is determined to serve him with all biblical faithfulness. That is exactly what I did find. What I did not expect to find, and I am speaking with all honesty, is someone so very interesting. Why was I surprised? To be honest, I think it is because he is a nice-looking man with a nice-looking wife and children from a big church in California. I thought “they” were mass-marketed, with little appeal to this serious (ex-patriate) Canadian.

So what have I found interesting about this man? If you don’t mind, that is what I will deal with in a few brief paragraphs. I take for granted you are familiar with his excellent, biblically-based theology.

Insight = Bible + History

The first thing is the level of his insight. Love of the Bible and a love of church history—MacArthur has both—always make people insightful. They enable a bottom-line, “essence of the essence” judgment of issues that seems prophetic. In reality, it is the weighing of alternatives on a very finely balanced biblical-historical set of scales. What seems effortless is really the product of much reading and contemplation. MacArthur, as a very young man, was able to see and articulate the problem with the modern American church—easy believism and lack of holiness. When the charismatic movement began to become mainstream, he spoke out against it on the basis of the bedrock of “Scripture Alone,” and his knowledge of similar movements in the past which had harmed the church. He saw immediately that Scripture and experience could not stand as fellow conduits to knowing God. One must engulf the other. Similarly, with Evangelicals and Catholics Together, MacArthur quickly grasped that the essential question—What is a Christian in the first place?—was left unaddressed. The essence of his understanding of each of these issues is so simple that it is easy to underestimate the complete clarity needed to reach them. Again, I will say it is the cumulative effect of immersion in biblical study and church history.


The second thing that intrigued me about MacArthur is several unexpected aspects of his background and early life. MacArthur’s father, Jack, chose to pastor a church in Hollywood for a time. I find it interesting and commendable that, as a very conservative Christian, he would willingly and graciously go into one of the heartlands of anti-Christian America, taking his young family with him. MacArthur himself was an excellent athlete, with the potential of playing professional football. I love that commitment to share in, and appreciate, some of the best of our secular culture. I was amazed to discover that MacArthur had been friends with some of the black leaders of the sixties’ Civil Rights Movement—not engaging with them so much politically, as relationally—respecting their aspirations. How wonderful to identify with what was at that time very much a sub-culture. Finally, I appreciate that MacArthur and his wife were willing to take a very troubled young man into their own family, for a time—something totally “unnecessary” for the pastor of a large and flourishing church, but so very beautiful.

The Women in His Life

Another point of interest: God put many women into MacArthur’s early life. He surrounded him with them, actually! After John, his parents had three daughters and for many years, his grandmother also lived with them. We all know how important meaningful male relationships are for boys and MacArthur was very close to his father. What we sometimes overlook is the benefit of a strong mother-son bond. Margaret Truman, the daughter of Harry Truman, became convinced during her research that many of the American presidents had very close bonds with their mothers. The closeness seems, somehow, to give boys stability and “emotional energy” they take into their adult years. MacArthur recognized this when he said of his mother, “The degree to which I have enjoyed success as a father, as a husband, and as a minister of the gospel, is a result of the investments she made in me each day.” He also treasures his wife and respects her judgment. I am always impressed with a man who loves the women in his life sincerely and well!

A Man of Courage

One final, remarkable thing about John MacArthur is his courage. As Christians, we are called to stand—always to be found standing and ready to fight for truth. This is not easy, especially when most of the professing Christian world does not even seem to recognize the battle. MacArthur has often stood alone, or almost alone, and there is no indication that this will ever change. I don’t think he will be one of the Christian leaders that, in the words of a friend, “live too long,” and in his latter years undoes the good of his early life. May God continue to give him the courage of Athanasius as he said, “The world is against Athanasius. Then Athanasius is against the world” and of Luther, when he said in the face of the consensus of medieval Europe, “Here I stand. I can do no other.” Honestly, I think that lesson of courage is the most precious one he can bequeath us . May God help us all to be as faithful!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Worldly Wisdom

Recently journalist Martin Bashir interviewed Rob Bell concerning Bell’s heretical book Love Wins in which Bell denies the existence of eternal judgment, thus paving the way to a Universalist Gospel. In light of the recent devastation in Japan caused by the Tsunami, Bashir began the interview by asking Bell to answer what he thought to be a theological conundrum.

“Either God is all powerful, but He does not care about the people of Japan therefore the people are suffering or God does care about the people, but He is not all powerful.”

When Bell finally got around to giving an answer, he just said it is a paradox.

It is not a paradox, the question is a loaded question, a logical fallacy.

This is akin to asking, “Have you stopped beating your wife”? You cannot affirm or deny, you must reject the question because it contains erroneous information.

Likewise in response to the devastation in Japan, to conclude that either God is all powerful and does not care or God cares and is not all powerful, is to state categories of factual error.The truth is:

• God is all powerful
• God is all caring

What God is doing in the world, what He has decreed to happen in the world, what He has permitted to happen in the world, seems foolish or weak to the wisdom of the world.

So from the perspective of man what is happening often does not make sense and sometimes seems to be foolish.

Some in the religious community may begin to point fingers and say, “well it is because of specific sins that these people were judged.” We do not know that and cannot make those types of categorical statements.

God is all powerful and He can stop any “natural” disaster that He chooses.

Isaiah 45:7 I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the LORD, do all these things.’

Amos 3:6 If a trumpet is blown in a city, will not the people be afraid? If there is calamity in a city, will not the LORD have done it?

God does things for His Glory and for our good.

Genesis 50:20 But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.
So from man’s perspective, worldly wisdom, all is Vanity

Ecclesiastes 1:2 “Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher; “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.”
Ecclesiastes 2:17 Therefore I hated life because the work that was done under the sun was distressing to me, for all is vanity and grasping for the wind.
We simply do not fully know the answer to the question why God does what He does.

We do know that we are responsible for our sin, and that God deals with us with grace and mercy.

All men have sinned against God and are worthy of not just temporary judgment, but eternal judgment. We know that when disaster strikes it reminds us of our total inability to rely on our own ingenuity for our salvation. Events like this are a gracious reminder of coming day of eternal judgment.

Luke 13:4–5 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”
Our response should be to make sure that we are in a right relationship with God. We should make sure our affections are towards God.

Worldly wisdom rejects such notions as foolish and weak. So the atheist denies the existence of God…at least the one revealed in Holy Scripture, and the religious create a God patterned after their own wisdom and not according to the Scriptures.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Stepping Stones

Stepping Stones to Glory #3 by Tim Wehse

Acts 2:37-47

In his book, The Communion of Saints, Philip Ryken writes:

Justin Martyr (c.100-165 A.D.) wrote the following:

One the day called Sunday there is a meeting in one place of those who live in cities or in the country, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read as long as time permits. When the reader has finished, the president in a discourse urges and invites us to the imitation of these noble things. Then we all stand up together and offer prayers. And, as said before, when we have finished the prayer, bread is brought, and wine and water, and the president similarly sends up prayers and thanksgivings to the best of his ability, and the congregation assents, saying the Amen; the distribution, and reception of the consecrated [elements] by each one, takes place and they are sent to the absent by the deacons. Those who prosper, and who so wish, contribute, each one as much as he chooses to. What is collected is deposited with the president, and he takes care of orphans and widows, and those who are in want on account of sickness or any other cause, and those who are in bonds, and the strangers who are sojourners among [us], and, briefly, he is the protector of all those in need. We all hold this common gathering on Sunday, since it is the first day, one which God transforming darkness and matter made the universe, and Jesus Christ our Savior rose from the dead on the same day.

I was struck by the continuity of the Christian Church the moment I read that description. Beloved—if you are a Christian—you are part of something truly historical. Our gathering together as the body of Christ is not our invention. Our parents and grandparents didn’t make it up either. We can trace Sunday worship services all the way back to the first century. Meditate upon that today, and rejoice if you are part of the Church. Then, “imitate noble things.” In other words, receive the Word of God and do what it says (Js. 1:21-22). Justin Martyr stated the believers in the early Church were regularly challenged to love God and live for God. And we know from history that they were not ashamed to do so! Let’s not be ashamed today!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

May God Truly Bless America

Psalm 33:12 (NKJV)
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, The people He has chosen as His own inheritance.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Stepping Stones to Glory:

Stepping Stones to Glory: January 16, 2011

By Tim Wehse

Read: Hebrews 10:19-25

As you celebrate another Lord's Day, allow me to share with you five important activities for every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. For that matter, the activities mentioned in this passage are of such a nature that we could (and probably should) do each and every Lord's Day. Notice the list in Hebrews 10:19-25.

Activity #1: "let us draw near" (v.22).
Because of what Jesus accomplished through His sufferings and death (v.19-21), believers have access to the holy of holies. Unlike the Jews in the days of the Old Covenant, post-resurrection believers can directly enter the holy ground of heaven through prayer. What a privilege! Do so today!

Activity #2: "hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering" (v.23). In other words, continue to believe the truth of God's Word. In spite of the lies and temptations which abound in our modern culture, trust the never-erring Word of God. Hold it fast, tight. Dispel the doubts as they arrive. Remember, no one has yet to prove the Bible in error (and they never will). Our hopes (the hope of Jesus returning; the hope of eternity with God, etc.) will be realized because God is "faithful" (v.23). Keep believing!

Activity #3: "let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds" (v.24). Like stubborn mules, we all need to be pushed from time to time. I sure do! Each Lord's Day we ought to be finding ways to prod one another to live as Christ. When the Apostle Paul proclaimed that he "lived Christ" (Phil. 1:21), he most certainly had both love and good deeds in mind. Every believer ought to excel in love. We ought to love God and love others passionately. Do you ever need to be challenged to grow in godly love? I do! We also ought to be continually doing that which is good. Do you ever need to be challenged to be others-centered? I do! Let's stimulate one another today.

Activity #4: "not forsaking our own assembling together" (v.25). In the modern vernacular, this means that we should not miss church very much. How can we stimulate one another appropriately if we are often absent from the body? Church is a vital aspect for every Christian. The Bible expects believers to gather regularly for worship and mutual ministry. If you were able, did you attend church this past Sunday? If not, can you attend next week? Don't neglect the assembly. Your soul needs it far more than you can imagine.

Activity #5: "encourage one another" (v.25). We all need it, don't we? Hebrews 3:13 reminds us that sin "hardens" us. Every believer needs to be encouraged in his/her battle with sin. I need it. You need it. Let's do it. Let's be about these five noble activities this coming Lord's Day. Surely we will be blessed if we are!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Stepping Stones to Glory # 2

Stepping Stones to Glory by Tim Wehse

I found the paragraphs below in the introduction of the English Standard Version's The Gospel of John (Crossway Bibles, 2003). Although the information probably is not new to you, it is always good to be reminded of some of the basics to Christianity so that we can do honest self-examination. Furthermore, what better day than the Lord's Day for such an activity?

Once you have received the gift of eternal life, you will want to grow in your knowledge of Him and your obedience to Him. Jesus' teaching about how to live for God can be summed up in three simple instructions.

Read the Bible. Jesus said, "Whoever has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me" (14:21). One way to show our love for God is to read and live out the commands set forth in the Bible, God's holy Word. Read the Bible daily to learn how to live a life that honors God and gives testimony to others that Jesus has made a difference in your life.

Pray. Communication with God through prayer keeps your focus on eternal things. If you are truly following Jesus, your desires will be for God's glory and for His kingdom, the Church. Jesus promised, "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you" (15:7).

Seek Christian fellowship. Meeting regularly with Christian brothers and sisters allows you to follow Jesus' example of love and to fulfill His command to "love one another…just as I have loved you" (13:34). Just as Jesus surrounded Himself daily with His disciples and followers, find a Bible-believing church where you can meet with other Christians. There you will find joy and encouragement in the fellowship of God's people.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Anniversary of the King James Bible

2011 Marks the four hundred year anniversary of the King James Bible translation done originally in 1611. Given the plethora of new translations that continue to crowd the Bible Bookstore shelves it is a testament to the splendor of the King James translation to see that it still occupies significant shelf space after all these years.

My first Bible that I studied after becoming a Christian was the King James. Most of the Scripture that I have committed to memory have that familiar King James sound to it. I have given way now to using the New King James on a regular basis but still have a sentimental attachment to the Authorized Version.

For further reading link to this excellent article by Leland Ryken
What Makes the King James Version Great?

1 Corinthians 13:1–13 (KJV 1900)
1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. 4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. 8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

To Do List

What is the first priority on your to do list? Listening to God through His Word? Allowing others to hear God's Word?

“Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” ” (Luke 10:38–42, NKJV)

I love “to do lists” whether formal or informal. At various points during the day I may jot down three or four things that I need to get done just on a piece of scrap paper and cross them off as I complete the task. But I also use formal lists as well including the “To Do” list that is included in Microsoft Outlook. Recently a friend of mine introduced me to an online “to do” list called “Toodledo.” This program syncs with my smart phone and email. It sends me an electronic reminder of what I need to do on a daily basis. Well, I love “to do lists” because it helps me prioritize all the things I have to do and at least get some of the tasks done before the day expires.

This morning one of the Scripture selections I read was the account of Martha and Mary’s conflict over the priorities of life found in Luke 10. Evidently Martha had a lot to do. She had to fulfill her responsibilities as a host for the guests in her home. I can empathize with her frustration as she tried to get everything in order and realized that her sister Mary was from her view just sitting down on the job.

What Martha failed to do was prioritize her “to do list.” The household chores were important. Things needed to get done. However, like most of us, Martha would not be able to complete everything on her “to do list” even if her day was extended by a few hours. Instead she should have prioritized the things on her activity list. The top priority should have been listening to God’s Word.

As I was thinking through this text another thought occurred to me. What if Martha really had a hard deadline to fulfill? In other words what if she could not stop and listen to Jesus because the dinner would burn? Should she just leave the guests to themselves and let them go hungry? Perhaps another application for this story is that Martha may have had things to do that had to be done that were time sensitive. She could not stop what she was doing. However, her frustration seems to be that she wanted Mary to stop listening to Jesus and help her. If listening to God’s Word was a priority for Martha it may be that in her particular circumstance that she needed to work so that others can listen.

In our church community we have folks that take the time to serve in the nursery or during children’s church or behind the scenes in the sound room so that others can listen to God’s Word.

This attitude of service may need to extend to other situations from our household to our work place. Listening to God’s Word is a priority.

Sometimes making listening to God's Word a priority is fulfilled by serving so that others may worship.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Stepping Stones to Glory:

Stepping Stones to Glory
by Tim Wehse

Read: Hebrews 4:1-13

Throughout this weekly series, you will be challenged to think deeply on the Lord's Day. Understand that thinking deeply on spiritual things, truths of the Bible, is, without a doubt, a very appropriate activity on this day given to us by God. Surely there is no deeper subject to discuss than that of eternity. The metaphysical questions "What happens after death?" & "Where will I spend eternity?" are very real and important questions which everyone should ask themselves. And so—as begin 2011, allow me to share some thoughts taken from the passage listed above. One truth we find is as follows: "So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God" (Heb. 4:10). In this chapter in Hebrews, the author is exhorting his readers to make sure that they do not miss experiencing the rest and glories of an eternity in heaven with God. He warns them to not "come short of it" (4:1). Quoting from David in the Old Testament, he tells them, "'Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts'" (4:7). The point he is making is crystal clear: only certain individuals will enter the eternal rest of God. The question begging to be asked, of course, is: Who may enter? Who are the "certain individuals"? He tells us. "For we who have believed enter that rest" (4:3). Our weekly celebration of what awaits in heaven is only a dim shadow compared to the endless pleasures which await all believers in heaven.

Another very important question at this point is: What does the author mean by the word "believers"? Believers—according to this author—are those who accept and submit to the truths presented in God's Word. If you were to peruse this great book of Hebrews, you would see that believing also entails coming to the realization of the excellencies of Jesus Christ, and worshiping Him for who He is and for what He has done. Does that include you? Do you believe? It is my intense hope and prayer that you do. As you read God's Word and meditate upon these weekly blogs, "do not harden your heart." Ask God to reveal Himself to you. Ask Him to show you the truth. He loves to answer prayers like that!

"Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience" (4:11). Be diligent. Work hard. Seek God's face with passion in 2011. Believe God's truth. Truth only in Jesus Christ for your entrance into the eternal rest!

A Critique of the Family-Integrated Church Movement

A Critique of the Family-Integrated Church Movement

Brian Borgman

This critique concerns a specific church model which has grown into a movement. The movement’s visible leader is Doug Philips of Vision Forum. This brief critique does not address the various other issues that revolve around Phillips, but simply his structure of family-integrated churches.

Another preliminary point should be made as well. Our church does have Sunday School and various other age-segregated ministries, but we also have the children sit in both morning and afternoon services with their families.

I would personally share the concerns with FIC over the cultural forces which wage war against the family. However, my complaint is that their remedy to the attacks on the family are unbiblical, unhelpful and may be worse than the societal diseases they seek to fight.

1) FIC exalts the nuclear family to an unbiblical place

The nuclear family is seen as central to life and the life of the church. The primacy of the family, family roles, domestic order subtly undermine the truth that the family of Christ is central and primary for the Christian (Mk. 3:31-35; Lk. 11:27-28; 14:26-27).

Although there is much Old and New Testament instruction to the family, it is the spiritual family that supersedes because of loyalty to Christ.

2) FIC redefines the church under the NC as a family of families

Under the Old Covenant, Israel was a family of families, held together by blood lines and circumcision. Under the New Covenant, the Church is the family of God, not a family of families (Gal. 3:28-29; Eph. 2:19-22). In fact, under the New Covenant, nuclear families may be fragmented because of loyalty to Jesus (Matt. 10:34-39).

3) FIC inadvertently excludes or marginalizes singles and others, which is contrary to the principles of Christ's Kingdom (Matt. 19:11-12; 1 Cor. 7:7).

Ask if a single person would feel welcomed as a brother or sister in Christ and a real part of the church family in a FIC.

4) FIC elevate certain principles of liberty or personal conviction to the standard of holiness and/or church polity (homeschooling, no women working outside the home, full quiver, no daughters in college, courtship only), which amounts to legalism. In such a church culture it is very easy for the Gospel not to be the main thing and to communicate to the next generation that being a Christian means you do these things (Mk. 7:13).

My overall evaluation assessment of this movement is not positive. I am aware that there are some churches in the movement which have identified these weaknesses and have sought to address them. Nevertheless, there are subtle inroads the movement makes through Vision Forum and their homeschooling and family-oriented materials. Although much (not all) of Vision Forum’s material is helpful, it promotes a Victorian vision of patriarchy, rather than a biblical one. Many people are exposed to the materials and confuse biblical principles and ethics with those promoted by VF. They are not one and same.

For those families who use VF materials, I would simply caution them to be on guard against an unbiblical exaltation of the family, an unbiblical view of the church, and the subtle elevation of “family-centered” principles to the place of “the teaching of God’s Word.”