The No Goofy Zone Discernment Ministry

The No Goofy Zone is a discernment ministry for saved born again Christians and all who are seeking the truth.We expose non-biblical trends in the church. We are making material available to advance understanding of issue's which endanger Christianity. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit.

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Location: Piqua, Ohio, United States

Former drummer for Gary Lewis and The Playboys and The Coasters. Tim has also played with Paul Baloche, Lincoln Brewster, Darlene Zscech and Hillsongs, Jeff Fenholt, SteveCamp among others. Tim founded The Simply Agape Project in 2001 to get free Christian music to the troops. Recordings have been made with Tim, and friends Alex Acuna, Abe Laboriel SR, Justo Almario,Steve Camp , Jared Ming and some wonderful Independant Christian artists.The Somebody Brave CD also features words of encouragment to the soldiers from Pastors, Moms, Dads, and Lt Col Brian Birdwell a Pentegon 9/11 survivor Tim is married to Donna Wirth and has four children Alan 25,Steven 23, Brittany 22, Bethany 21. Tim has played in numerous churchs as well as shows on TBN. Tim has also performed on JCTV on the show Generation Worship featuring worship leader Jared Ming. Tim has a book published worldwide titled "Pass The Plate And Let Us Prey" (My Search For Black and White Christianity in a Gray Nation)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A comment from "When a church goes astray"

This comment was so well thought out and good I decided to post it as a article for all to see. Tim

It’s a depressing statistic. A majority of Western churches do not see a single addition through conversion in a typical year. So to try and turn things round many are rejecting traditional methods of evangelism and adopting a new ‘church growth’ model. Market research has convinced them that unbelievers stay away from church not because they reject Christ, but because they reject the church’s boring presentation of Christ. There’s no need to change the product – just the packaging – and the crowds will come flocking back.

The new packaging is all about replacement. A ‘stage’ with a moveable Perspex lectern replaces the old wooden pulpit. PowerPoint graphics replace the hymn books. A rock band replaces the organ. A casually dressed and jovial audience replaces the reverent congregation. A charming minister in a t-shirt and jeans replaces the suited ‘preacher’. Fun replaces holiness as the tone of the service. Loud music, side-splitting drama, multimedia presentations and a humorous ‘talk’ replace hymn singing and preaching. But, we’re confidently assured, the message remains the same.

Judging by numbers alone the new model has certainly proved a success. Prominent ‘church growth’ pastors like Robert Schuller (Crystal Cathedral, LA), Rick Warren (Saddleback Church, California), Bill Hybels (Willow Creek Church, Chicago) and Joel Osteen (Lakewood Church, Houston) attract thousands to their churches each Sunday. Though a majority of this ‘growth’ occurs by transfer rather than ‘conversion’, multitudes of other churches have adopted this model and have seen their congregations rocket numerically. Small wonder anyone questioning the movement is told, “Never criticise what God is blessing.”1 Truth never stood a chance against success.

How widespread is this new phenomenon? Consider this fact; over 400,000 pastors from 162 countries have been trained under Rick Warren’s church growth seminar material alone. (Warren calls his philosophy a “stealth movement flying beneath the radar that’s changing literally thousands of churches around the world ”). His book The Purpose Driven Church, which espouses this new philosophy, has sold over 1 million copies in 20 languages and is a standard textbook in hundreds of Bible Colleges. Yet despite the incredible popularity of Rick Warren and others like him, there are numerous problems with the church growth movement, starting with its history.

Problem 1 — The Origin and History of the Movement

The father of the church growth movement was the relatively unknown Donald McGavran. His best known student and successor at the Fuller School of World Mission in California was C. Peter Wagner, a founding member of the Lausanne Committee on World Evangelization. Wagner, a close friend of the late John Wimber (Vineyard), calls himself an apostle and is one of the world’s leading promoters of charismatic ‘signs and wonders’. From Fuller Seminary the church growth philosophy spread worldwide.

The first pastor to ‘make it big’ using modern church growth techniques was Robert Schuller. “An indisputed fact is that I am the founder, really, of the church-growth movement in this country...I advocated and launched what has become known as the marketing approach in Christianity.”2 How did he do it? “The secret of winning unchurched people into the church is really quite simple. Find out what would impress the nonchurched in your community [then give it to them].”2 Yet Schuller is a false teacher of huge proportions. An unashamed universalist, he rejects Jesus as the only way to heaven. He states that making people aware of their lost and sinful condition is the very worst thing a preacher can do. As for the new birth, to Schuller it simply means changing from a negative to a positive self-image.

Schuller’s landmark 1975 book Your Church Has Real Possibilities impressed Warren and Hybles who both visited Schuller to learn more. Hybels called his first meeting with Schuller a “divine encounter.”3 Kay Warren, Rick’s wife, said that Schuller had a “profound influence” on Rick, who was “captivated by his positive appeal to unbelievers.”4 Warren has since shared the platform at several of Schuller’s leadership conferences and an endorsement by Schuller appears at the beginning of Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Church: “I’m praying that every pastor will read this book...Rick Warren is the one all of us should listen to and learn from.” Today Warren, Hybels and Schuller all operate their churches on the same market-driven principles.

Problem 2 — The Business-Church Marriage

The second major problem with the church growth movement is its love-affair with the business world. Warren, who partners with marketing agencies like CMS in Covina, California, a company that helps giants like Isuzu Motors and Quaker Oats “grow their businesses,”5 follows the advice of secular business guru Peter Drucker, with whom he has engaged in a bi-annual consultation for 20 years. The focus of Drucker’s recent consulting has been to teach churches and charities to behave more like corporations and Warren has adapted many of his ideas.6 For instance, the Drucker Foundation has a ‘Self-Assessment Tool’ for business leaders. Warren has a ‘Health Assessment Tool’ for readers of his Purpose Driven Life. Anyone familiar with the ideas promoted in business books will easily spot their cloned ‘Christian’ versions all through Warren’s writings. Forbes Magazine publisher, Rich Karlgaard said of The Purpose Driven Church, “This is one of the greatest entrepreneurial books I’ve ever read, and if you merely substitute the word ‘business’ for ‘church’, it’s just a terrific guide that can be taken to a secular and business audience.”7 Bob Buford, founder of the Leadership Network in Dallas, Texas, has spent over 20 years integrating Drucker’s business ideas into churches. Another friend of Warren and Hybels, Buford calls himself “the legs for his [Drucker’s] brain.”8

Compare all of this to Paul’s pivotal message to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20. He mentions nothing about marketing, growing or adapting. Instead he warns them to teach the whole counsel of God, to beware of false teachers and to preach the gospel of faith and repentance - which introduces the third major problem in the church growth movement, the corruption of the gospel message.

Problem 3 — The Dumbing Down of the Message

Church growth advocate Lee Strobel recommends reaching ‘un-churched Harry and Mary’ by starting with their ‘felt needs’. (Rather than with righteousness, self-control and judgment to come as Paul did with Felix in Acts 24). Thus “If you discover that unchurched Harry suffers from a sagging can tell him how your own self-esteem has soared ever since you learned how much you matter to God.”9 Or if he’s a thrill seeker tell him there’s “nothing more exciting, more challenging and more adventure packed than living as a devoted follower of Jesus Christ.”10 In other words, discover what a sinner wants out of life and give it to him ‘in Jesus’. In a chapter in The Purpose Driven Church entitled ‘How Jesus Attracted Crowds’, Rick Warren states: “The most likely place to start is with the person’s felt needs...this was the approach Jesus used...A good salesman knows you always start with the customer’s needs, not the product.”11 In the previous chapter Warren claims, “Whenever Jesus encountered a person he’d begin with their hurts, needs, and interests.”12 Yet simply noting how the Lord dealt with Nicodemus, the rich young ruler, the Syrophenician woman and Levi, to name but a few, shows Warren’s selective exegesis to be very misleading.

Christians have always known that when witnessing to different types of individuals from diverse backgrounds it is useful to understand the presuppositions they bring to the table and adjust one’s approach accordingly. Clearly the Lord dealt with Nicodemus differently than with the woman at the well. Again, Paul addressed the Jews in Acts 13 differently to the Greeks on Mars Hill in Acts 17. So why all the fuss about Warren? Because Warren is not simply recommending that preachers bear their audience’s background in mind; he is advocating a total change in the technique, style and form of historical evangelical preaching, and he’ll even twist scripture to make his point. He favours a rendering of Col 4:5-6 which reads: “Be tactful to those who are not Christians...Talk to them agreeably and with a flavour of wit, and try to fit your answers to the needs of each one.”13 Yet the context of this passage is not about public preaching and the translation Warren favours is not in the least bit accurate to the original Greek text.

While no pastor would ever admit to watering down the gospel message, that is exactly what has resulted from preaching this kind of positive needs-orientated sermons that entertain and amuse. For instance, an evaluation of Hybels’ preaching reveals that in a typical month three out of four weekend messages are about God’s love. A mere 7% of messages mention God’s holiness. The truth of God’s wrath against mankind’s sin is virtually never heard.14 What isn’t preached is more revealing than what is.

Concluding their weak gospel presentations, many church growth preachers lead their audience in a model ‘sinner’s prayer’. Warren advises sinners that, “Real life begins by committing yourself completely to Jesus Christ. If you are not sure you have done this, all you need to do is receive and believe...bow your head and quietly whisper the prayer that will change your eternity: ‘Jesus I believe in you and I receive you.’ Go ahead. If you sincerely meant that prayer, congratulations! Welcome to the family of God.”15 No conviction of sin, no repentance, no forsaking of the sinner’s way, no counting the cost – just ‘accept and receive’ and the job’s done. Do these false teachers actually understand the true need of the sinner? Clearly not, for sinful man’s first and greatest need is repentance (not self-esteem as Schuller teaches). Man needs salvation from sin, deliverance from wrath and cleansing from guilt. The ‘consumer’ is actually a rebellious unclean sinner who, far from being ‘always right’, is always wrong. He doesn’t feel his need for the ‘product’ because he is spiritually dead. He only thinks he loves God and wants a relationship with Jesus, but actually he knows nothing about his true sinfulness and God’s righteousness.

The true gospel is not about making people feel better about themselves, but about making people realise they are lost, guilty and perishing. It does not attempt to bring people to Christ to meet their felt needs - rather it proclaims forgiveness and justification to meet their real need if they will repent and trust alone in Christ. A product that exposes sin, condemns pride and strips away self-righteousness can never be ‘marketed’. It is foolishness to the lost (1 Cor 1:18). Yet the new gospel is being presented as an attractive item to the sinner because it liberates his self esteem, fills his emptiness, gives him an exciting life, meets his needs and heals his hurts.

In the false gospel of the church growth movement the sinner is told that Christ died for him because he is so valuable to God. But this is a denial of grace. There is nothing in us to merit God’s love. Again, the idea that the sinner is friendly towards God but just turned off by the church is a denial of human depravity. Man is an enemy of God, alienated in his mind by wicked works (Col 1:21). Yet the false gospel says, “You may not believe in God, but God believes in you and you need to believe in yourself.” (The Bible says that Jesus did not believe in His hearers, John 2:24).

Problem 4 — Employing a Worldly Approach

The fourth problem with the ‘purpose driven church’ is its creation of a worldly ethos within the four walls of ‘the sanctuary’ in order to make the church more appealing to the world. Apparently since unchurched Harry has to dress smartly at the office all week, he insists on the casual look at weekends. To make him feel comfortable the saints must remove their respectful Sunday best and go for the casual or even the scruffy look. Then there’s the ‘music problem’. Unchurched Harry hates organs and choirs. A cappella singing makes him cringe. So, the music must be contemporary and loud. According to Warren, Saddleback exploded with growth after loud rock music made its entrance. People want to feel the music not just hear it.

Herding all the flock together three times a week for nothing more than hymn singing and Bible teaching doesn’t work anymore. Ministries, programmes and small groups must be introduced to meet people’s needs for counselling about poor self esteem, depression, infertility, singleness, weight loss, co-dependency, addictions and more.

According to Warren, providing the primary issues are in focus (Christ and His gospel) the secondary issues (the church model/methods) can be as varied as you like. What works (pragmatism) is all that matters. “I contend that when a church continues to use methods that no longer work, it is being unfaithful to Christ.”16 So just as Jesus ‘targeted’ the lost sheep of the house of Israel, Paul targeted the Gentiles and Peter targeted the Jews,17 at Saddleback Warren uses multiple venues to ‘target’ different markets. A jazz service for jazz lovers. A rock-n-roll service for rockers. Based on a mistranslation of Acts 5:42, Warren claims he’s following the apostles who provided different kinds of services in separate ‘courts’ of the temple.

Warren even claims that God enjoys rock music.18 “I reject the idea that music styles can be judged as either ‘good’ or ‘bad’ particular style of music is ‘sacred’...There is no such thing as ‘Christian music’, only Christian lyrics.”19 Yet just as clearly as a march tune fits a military scene, jazz fits a night club scene and rock fits a festival scene, so there is a certain kind of sound that suits a prayer meeting - and it’s not the rock, rap and jazz sound that the purpose driven church has borrowed from the world. Music that has a corrupt origin, employs sensual rhythms and is accompanied by a fleshly breathy style of singing, with singers who scoop and slide from one note to another, is utterly unsuitable for the spiritual praise of God (Eph 5:19).20


At the root of the entire purpose driven church paradigm is a fatal misconception. As John MacArthur points out: “The notion that church meetings should be used to tantalize or attract non-Christians is a relatively recent development. Nothing like it is found in scripture; in fact, the apostle Paul spoke of unbelievers entering the assembly as an exceptional event (1 Cor 14:23).”21 In fact, the church at Jerusalem was so holy and God-fearing that nobody dared to join it (Acts 5:11). The New Testament preaching of Paul “kept back nothing” (Acts 20:20) and involved reproving, rebuking and exhorting with patience and doctrine, bearing in mind a future time when people would no longer “endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers and they will turn their ears away from the truth” (2 Tim 4:2-4). That day has surely come.

The first few decades of the church growth movement have clearly shown the naiveté of those who thought that the true gospel could survive the introduction of a marketing philosophy which says the customer is king. Does style affect substance? It actually does much more. The purpose driven style has completely subverted the true gospel message. Exposition has surrendered to entertainment, preaching to performances, doctrine to drama and theology to theatrics – and the fallout has been catastrophic.

Doctrine has been trivialised and expositional preaching abandoned, leading to the introduction of multitudes of false converts and shallow members. A former Willow Creek counsellor admitted “Willow Creek is a mile wide and one-half inch deep.”22 Those who grieve to see their churches adopt this model have been marginalized. Separation from sin, worldliness, false doctrine and false churches has been deeply compromised. Speaking of his church members an unconcerned Warren states, “Are there unrepentant pagans mixed into Saddleback’s crowd of 10,000? Without a doubt...That’s okay. Jesus said...Don’t worry about the tares…”23 When George Barna surveyed Willow Creek’s weekend participants he found that while 91% stated that their highest value was having a deep personal relationship with God, of this same group 25% of singles, 38% of single parents and 41% of divorced individuals “admitted to having illicit sexual relationships in the last 6 months.”24

The answer to this movement is to abandon it altogether and return to biblical truth, biblical living, biblical preaching and biblical church principles. The idea that these new ‘purpose driven’ methods will restore the power of God in our midst is a red herring. Warren might just as well say that if only instead of being a preacher of righteousness (2 Pet 2:5) Noah had done some simple market research and built a ‘purpose driven ark’, more than eight people would have come aboard. When holy living, Spirit empowered preaching, loving unity and faithfulness to truth doesn’t seem to bring ‘results’, turning to the new methods advocated by Warren will only spell disaster. There will be results – but all of the wrong kind. A generation ago A.W. Tozer wisely said, “One of the most popular current errors, and the one out of which springs most of the noisy, blustering religious activity in evangelical circles, is the notion that as times change the church must change with them.” Since faithfulness to God’s word, as opposed to what evangelicalism calls success, will be the standard of reward at the judgment seat of Christ (1 Cor 2:4-5), obedience to the command to preach and teach, without trimming our sail to the wind of the world, is the most pressing need of the hour.

12:22 PM


Anonymous Anonymous said...


This is an outstanding article. Please keep pressing on and I pray that sound doctrine concerning the nature of conversion is restored because that is foundational to being a church that brings God the glory He deserves! You are doing a wonderful work for the glory of God!! Thanks!

Jerry Long

6:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

God assails me from out of nowhere in judgment by His Word and Spirit; nails me, brings me to the point of agreeing with His judgment about me, and then executes me. And then through that pulls me out through the other side alive with Christ out at the other end as new creatures.

So it's actually the devil who's in the business of keeping folks on the treadmill of makeovers, New Year's resolutions, and self-help fads in order to improve the self. It's God who's in the business of killing us and making us new creatures in His Son. It's called mortification (dying to self) and vivification (living to God in Jesus Christ). And it doesn't just happen once, but every day until we're glorified. Furthermore, it's something that God does to us through His Word of Law and Gospel. Not something that we can do for ourselves, through our own clever programs.

6:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My husband and I finally left our church over this very thing. "We" were made out to be the bad guy's? "We" were told to show that for the sake of evangelism "we" should be willing to do anything short of sin?? Since when is it not a sin to turn the church into a circus for the goats? This whole thing is very sad!


9:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Nobody would know better than you about music so what do you think of this article?

Music Is Never “Neutral”

By Tom Schlueter

For years I have heard the claim that the type of music in corporate worship is irrelevant. It is not the music that matters, but the lyrics. Music is supposedly “neutral,” and the lyrics alone determine the message. There is simply no factual basis for this belief. The propagation of this idea has resulted in much spiritual confusion today where the music used in worship actually wars against the content of the lyrics. I wanted to write a few thoughts on the idea that any kind of music can be dragged into corporate worship without any thought given to what that music is saying.

I’ve been involved with music professionally for 30 years and my degree is in music performance. The perspective I am coming from is not one of ignorance musically but one of personal experience. In those years, I have played my trumpet in virtually every style and in many different venues; anything from swing bands, jazz, touring Broadway shows and musicals, concerts with Chicago, Styx, Moody Blues, John Denver, Glen Campbell, Johnny Mathis, Aretha Franklin, Tony Bennett, the Irish Tenors, Charlotte Church, Sarah Vaughn, Robert Goulet, Frank Sinatra, Jr., and, on the other hand, everything from one of the top symphony orchestras in the country to opera and ballet music, including many types of classical chamber music and many varied experiences in church music. Along with my experience of performing this variety of music has come my observation of the people who are listening to it and the effect music has on them.

I have seen the power of music. Probably 95% of music I have performed is strictly instrumental. Before I had any Christian convictions about the matter, I played as much in dance bands as I did for orchestras. Whatever the venue, we could yield much power over the listener and there were many times when we could literally engage in “crowd control”. For example, in a dance setting our big band could play a slow, ballad-type number and everyone immediately responded in the obvious way directed by the music. Contrast that with the reaction when we played something like Buddy Morrow’s Night Train which, without verbal prompting, would encourage some people to do a quasi-strip dance. In fact, to further enhance the shock value, the band leader would announce the number as a “Mozart string quartet” and then start the pounding rhythms of Night Train. The music did not require words with instructions about what to do. The music alone carried the message.

By way of illustration, listen to the difference in the message that the same instruments can carry in these two clips. First, listen to the message of our trumpets and the drums at the front end of our band’s version of Sing, Sing, Sing. The trumpets led the brass in a clear call to listeners: get up and dance. schlueter-tom-sing-sing2 Now listen to the message of the brass instruments and percussion in this clip at the beginning of the hymn, Christ is Made the Sure Foundation. christ-is-made-1-min-fade What are the instructions of the instruments here? What are they calling listeners to do? Come and worship God. The brass tell us there is royalty present. The percussion at the end of the fanfare speaks not of dance and flesh, but of honor and respect and reverence. What a difference. Same instruments. Different message entirely.

The smallest children do not need instructions for what to do when they hear certain kinds of music. Every one of us consciously and often subconsciously experiences the power of music nearly every day when we watch TV programs, see commercials, hear music in the grocery store. Music in these venues is done with an agenda to move people in a specific way. I once read an interview with John Williams that celebrated his contributions to movie music. He was talking about how crucial it was to get movie music correct to enhance a scene. He said that a music can make or break a scene, and the complete absence of music can also make or break a scene. You add the right kind of music to a scene and it becomes magical or terrifying, depending on the mood you want to create. One thing he said was, “The mood in a scene is created more by the music than by the actors.”

The power of music is so obvious, I do not know why there is even a need for a debate about it. This same simple idea is the reason why the Brahms Requiem was played at the memorial concert for 9-11 victims instead of a concert of Broadway show tunes. All this being said, it seems obvious when you are going to link words and music, they should comport with/compliment each other. It doesn’t make sense to put serious words with circus-style music, and it doesn’t make sense to have lyrics that speak of the majesty and glory of Christ put to sounds that speak of the streets, anger and resentment as we have with rap. Yet that is often what happens in corporate Christian worship today. The music part, supposedly, is saying nothing.

A few years ago, a CD came out of supposedly “sacred” swing music. Someone had taken hymn lyrics and attached them to swing band music. The results were musically and theologically absurd. Take our band’s recording of Take the A Train; schlueter-tom-2. Now picture that music with words about the Lord’s Supper. That is what the “sacred swing” CD tried to do. It was a nauseating combination but, nonetheless, called “praise music.” The music was conjuring up a dance floor scene, but the lyrics were speaking of the Lord’s Supper and Christ’s bleeding sacrifice on the cross. Do we think the Lord is pleased by this confusion?

In corporate worship, the music chosen makes a statement about our view of God. Our music reveals if that view is a high and biblical view, or a low and man-made view. If the music clip above from Sing, Sing, Sing would be the call to worship in a church, what exactly would that say about God and His character? What would it say to worshipers? Get up and dance? Women should start flaunting their stuff in front of men on the dance floor? This would not be worship at all, but rather a gross insult to the Almighty.

The bottom line is that music is never neutral. It is always saying something. The question is, does it contradict or confuse or even cancel out the message of the lyrics used in worship? If we are in the flesh, we cannot please God no matter how much we call what we are doing “praise and worship.” When we study and know God’s character in the Word, we realize that whatever we are offering up as worship needs to be worthy of Him. It needs to speak of Him honestly. Much music in church today lies about God. It says He is cheap and easy and just like us. In short, it shows no respect for the God who is described by St. Paul in the Bible as a “consuming fire.”

I hear well-meaning Christians talk as though Satan has affected every area of creation with the exception of the non-verbal language of music. That, they claim, is neutral territory. Satan, in his craftiness, has very skillfully perpetuated this lie and has neutralized and in some cases, made mockery of the worship of our God. The Israelites dancing around the Golden Calf genuinely believed they could worship God through the use of the idol. They were sincere and their religious fervor was so loud that Moses heard it while descending Mt. Sinai. It was not true worship at all, however. God abhorred what they were doing. They were too busy in their so-called worship to notice.

In summary, music always speaks. It always has something to say on its own—free of lyrics. What our worship music says about God must line up with what we are told about God in His Word. We know God two ways: both by His character and by His works as they are recorded in Scripture. Nobody is very interested in knowing the character and works of God today, and that ultimately is the root of the problem. We cannot speak honestly of one we do not know. God is made over into man’s image today, and the music used to worship Him reflects that. A thorough knowledge of God through His Word will have a reformational effect on Christian worship. Only when we know God can we truly worship him in spirit and in truth.

Soli Deo Gloria

John Bastendorf

6:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the video that accompanies the “40 Days of Purpose,” Warren leads his listeners in prayer at the end of the first session. The prayer goes like this:

"Dear God, I want to know your purpose for my life. I don't want to base the rest of my life on wrong things. I want to take the first step in preparing for eternity by getting to know you. Jesus Christ, I don't understand how but as much as I know how I want to open up my life to you. Make yourself real to me. And use this series in my life to help me know what you made me for." Warren goes on to say: "Now if you've just prayed that prayer for the very first time I want to congratulate you. You've just become a part of the family of God."

Warren would be hard-pressed to find biblical backing for this presentation of the gospel. We find nothing here about sin, grace, repentance, the person of Christ, Calvary, faith, judgment, or the resurrection. This is the ultimate in a mutilated, seeker-sensitive gospel: the seeker comes to Christ in order to find his purpose in life, not to receive forgiveness from sin and the righteousness of God. Then, to pronounce someone a full-fledged member of the family of God because he has prayed such a prayer (based on minimal, if any, understanding of the person and work of Christ), is beyond tragic.

Pastor Bob

6:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is so sad. I live in the bible belt in Pa. and I can't believe all the "evangelical" churches who have jumped on this bandwagon? It is encouraging to see that there are people like you who are willing to stand for the truth! Thanks so much and God bless you and your family..

The Miller Family (Leola, Pa.)

8:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1 Cor 1:22-24 “For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”

Many churches today waterdown the Gospel until it is no Gospel at all, with no mention of the Cross, Sin, Repentance or Judgement. Instead of preaching on sin, they’ll emphasise “we’re all guilty” and “nobody’s perfect.” Likewise, instead of preaching on Hell they’ll emphasise “separated from God,” and they may mention words like “repentance” but never explain what it means.

But imagine preaching the Cross of Jesus Christ in the 1st Century A.D.

First of all, you’re nervous anyway, because you can be imprisoned and tortured for your faith, but by the power of God, and love of fellow man you have the courage to speak to someone:

“I want to tell you about God becoming a man and making a way for you to have all your sins forgiven and receive eternal life. There was this man called Jesus, He was a Jew…”
‘Ooops, bad start, He came from the most despised nation on earth.’

“…and He was a Nazarene.”
‘Oh great, the most despised among the despised.’

“And He was born of a virgin.”
‘Oh really?’

“And He never sinned once.”
‘I thought you just told me He was Jewish?’

“And then He was crucified.”

If the person being witnessed to is a Jew then “Cursed Is he who is hanged on a tree.” But if he’s a Roman, even worse. We have to remember the cross was a real and vilest form of execution at this time and so wasn’t made into jewelry or talked about.

There were no pictures of crosses in the early church. An equivalent would be to have a picture of the electric chair on the church wall.

In fact to give you a picture of what it must have been like to bring up the cross for the early Christians, imagine a man starts talking to you about a new religion, and then you agree to go to his house. As you go in, you notice in his hallway he has a picture of a guy being hung. You look across and on the opposite wall there is a picture of a man with a bag over his head in the electric chair. Further along the wall you see a picture of a man receiving execution by lethal injection. Then you look down the hallway and notice a hangman’s noose (with trapdoor below) hanging from the ceiling. Now, not only would you run out of that house as quickly as possible, but you’d be straight on the phone to the police.

It’s easier to preach the Cross today, than it has ever been. In fact, the hardest time in history to preach the Cross of Jesus Christ and the time which it would cause the most offence was the period of time when the Apostle Paul boldly proclaimed "we preach Christ crucified."

9:19 PM  
Blogger Tim Wirth said...

To John about the Tom Schulter comments. I agree I dont agree with Ingrid 100% about musicbecause she tends to put classical music above all other styles like its more godly because its more complex. Abd I love classical music and have performed it as well. Tom's comments were right on though. I have played many of the songs Tom mentioned. Sing Sing Sing was one of the first songs I played in jazz band in high school. I was actualy first instructed by a big band drummer. That song can make people nuts and I love Benny Goodman as well as Gene Krupa.
Yes music has dumbed down. Most of all Christian music. Check out some of the music being played at Todd Bentley's false revival. The playing is mediochre plus the lead vocalist is barely at a garage band level. This guy flat out cant sing. Dont mean to sound harsch but if the Holy Spirit was behind this revival the music would be quite different. And it wouldnt have girls twirling around in a trance like whirling dervish's.
Now on to what Rick Warren did.
I got sick when I read Warrens take on music in Purpose Driven Church.
You take a guy who by his own definition wanted to be a guitar playing rock star (In Richie Abanes booklet "Rick Warren and the purpose that drives him). Anyway you give a guy like that a lot of power (not given by God) and you will get what you get.
Rick Warren has a skewed inmature view of music in the church. When he states The style of music you choose to use in your services will be one of the most critical (and controversial!) decisions you make in the life of your church. It may be the most influential factor in determining who your church reaches for Christ and whether or not your church grows. You must match your music to the kind of people God wants your church to reach.

The music you use "positions" your church in your community. It defines who you are. Once you have decided on the style of music you’re going to use in worship, you have set the direction of your church in far more ways than you realize. It will determine the kind of people you attract, the kind of people you keep, and the kind of people you lose."
What a immature view as well as something that absolutly denies Gods sovreign will. Ricks views also have nothing to do with Gods word in scripture.
Now I will say that if you play secular music you will reap the fruit of that as well. Immature people who may be deceived into being saved because they had some kind of emotional experience.
Look what Rick also states "There is no such thing as "Christian music." There are only Christian lyrics! Music is just an arrangement of notes and rhythms. It's the words that make a song spiritual." end of quote
What a bunch of nonbiblical garbage and a lie from the pit.

That leaves the door open for demonically inspired styles of music that you can just slap a fish on and call it Christian. What a absolute deception.
Music without lyrics is very powerful as well.
Look at the genuis of putting a movie sound track together.
This is no lyrics with music that can make you feel different ways.
Ricks veiws are immature for a Christian and certainly Rick has no education what so ever about music and its power.
And look what Tim Stevens from Granger church has to say about playing secular music in church.

Pastors have asked me, "How can you use a secular song in your services? How can you let your team sing a song by Hoobastank? Or Evanescence? Or the Killers?"

Let's talk a little bit about secular music in the church.

First of all, we should clarify terms. There is a big debate in church circles today about what "secular" even means in relation to music. What makes a song secular or Christian? Is it the type? The lyrics? The person singing it? Madeleine L'Engle had an interesting statement in her book, Walking on Water.

She wrote: "To look at a work of art and then to make a judgment as to ... whether or not it is Christian is presumptuous. It is something we cannot know in any conclusive way. We can know only if it speaks within our own hearts and leads us to living more deeply with Christ in God." end of comment
Again another I want my cake and eat it to view of music.
Lets be Christians and bring all our secular baggage with us.
This view not only hurts unsaved people, but it lowers the standards of the Body of Christ and brings us back to the world the Bible tells us not to be like.
These guys really need to read Romans 6:6 :Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin."
But with Rick Warren its all about the popularity and status. Which he would loose if he did things biblically.
Saddleback is a mile wide and a inch deep.
You can see this all because of the fruit of Saddleback with guys like Richie Abanes.
Well thanks for stiring things up and sending me that stuff from Tom.
Its so sad when I first got saved and saw that wow I can be a musician and be in church and honor God with my playing.
When in my experience all I saw was a lot of people who couldnt make it in the world now had a stage to play on.
The standard had been lowered rather than raised.
It makes me really angry to see all the lack of practice, simpilistice, sloppy playing that goes on in many churches.
You would think that people would at least want to put a couple hours a week into a practice because we are playing for the God of the entire Universe.
Instead I have seen a lot of thrown together,jammed out recyled medichre music played for God who does not honor a Cain sacrifice.
Im done now

9:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A friend just e-mailed me your blog and it has encouraged me greatly! It has been so discouraging seeing not only my church but many others following this church growth junk Warren is promoting. Tim, you will pay a price for speaking the truth but I for one have been encouraged reading through your blog and thank you so much for being a faithful brother! I hope this Tozer quote encourages your heart!

Karen Frey

"Could it be that too many of God's true children, and especially the preachers, are sinning against God by guilty silence?...I for one am waiting to hear the loud voices of the prophets and reformers sounding once more over a sluggish and drowsy church. They'll pay a price for their boldness, but the results will be worth it." - AW Tozer

9:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Tim! I am always edified when I visit your blog. I not only admire you for your musical knowledge but it is also refreshing to see a man of God, who happens to be a professional musician, who demands "our" best music for the Lord! Thanks again for taking the time to share your thoughts.

John Bastendorf

7:22 PM  
Blogger Tim Wirth said...

Thanks John: My apoligies for all the typo's in mu comments but I was on a roll. And you cant go back and edit. Anyway music is near and dear to my heart. In church people really need to understand its not about us. But about focusing our eyes past the band and toward heaven where the focus of our love and music in our worship should be pointed toward's.

10:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

“Do pastors understand their terrible responsiblity before God? Based on how a great majority of the pastors in America run their churches, I must conclude, no. I literally hate the things that the false teachers and foolish pastors of the day do in God’s name. It makes me angry because they aren’t just glorying in shameful things, they are doing it in the name of ministry and “relevance.”

As one who has dedicated my life to full time ministry, I do fear the responsiblity. I do know that pastors will face a greater judgement, and there is a sense in which it is terrifying. Yet I know that faithfulness is possible, or God would not require it of us. Understanding the responsibility should simply drive us to our knees in prayer– drive us to God in utter dependence.

Those who point out the sin of these pastors and are often considered mean, critical, divisive, and pharisaical. But if pointing out and condemning the sin of those who are supposed to be shepherding God’s sheep is the criteria, then God himself is the most critical and mean spirited yet. In Jeremiah 23, God tells us how he feels about the sin that goes on in his name, and it isn’t positive, gentle, or heartwarming. To those of you who idolize relevance and big crowds more than faithful ministry, hear what the Lord has to say. Hear what the Lord has to say pastors who are leading your flocks astraty through vulgarity, fleshliness, silly gimmicks, and lewdness; pastors who will not preach on sin because it’s not “nice” or “positive.” Hear what God says and tremble at his word.

“ For both prophet and priest are profane;
Yes, in My house I have found their wickedness,” says the LORD.
“ Therefore their way shall be to them
Like slippery ways;
In the darkness they shall be driven on
And fall in them;
For I will bring disaster on them,
The year of their punishment,” says the LORD.
“ And I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria:
They prophesied by Baal
And caused My people Israel to err.
Also I have seen a horrible thing in the prophets of Jerusalem:
They commit adultery and walk in lies;
They also strengthen the hands of evildoers,
So that no one turns back from his wickedness.
All of them are like Sodom to Me,
And her inhabitants like Gomorrah.

“Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts concerning the prophets:
‘ Behold, I will feed them with wormwood,
And make them drink the water of gall;
For from the prophets of Jerusalem
Profaneness has gone out into all the land.’”

Thus says the LORD of hosts:
“ Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you.
They make you worthless;
They speak a vision of their own heart,
Not from the mouth of the LORD.
They continually say to those who despise Me,
‘ The LORD has said, “You shall have peace”’;
And to everyone who walks according to the dictates of his own heart, they say,
‘ No evil shall come upon you.’”

For who has stood in the counsel of the LORD,
And has perceived and heard His word?
Who has marked His word and heard it?
Behold, a whirlwind of the LORD has gone forth in fury—
A violent whirlwind!
It will fall violently on the head of the wicked.
The anger of the LORD will not turn back
Until He has executed and performed the thoughts of His heart.
In the latter days you will understand it perfectly.
“I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran.
I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied.
But if they had stood in My counsel,
And had caused My people to hear My words,
Then they would have turned them from their evil way
And from the evil of their doings.
” Am I a God near at hand,” says the LORD,
“ And not a God afar off?
Can anyone hide himself in secret places,
So I shall not see him?” says the LORD;
“ Do I not fill heaven and earth?” says the LORD.
“I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in My name, saying, ‘I have dreamed, I have dreamed!’ How long will this be in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies? Indeed they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart, who try to make My people forget My name by their dreams which everyone tells his neighbor, as their fathers forgot My name for Baal.
“ The prophet who has a dream, let him tell a dream;
And he who has My word, let him speak My word faithfully.
What is the chaff to the wheat?” says the LORD.
“ Is not My word like a fire?” says the LORD,
“ And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?

“Therefore behold, I am against the prophets,” says the LORD, “who steal My words every one from his neighbor. Behold, I am against the prophets,” says the LORD, “who use their tongues and say, ‘He says.’ Behold, I am against those who prophesy false dreams,” says the LORD, “and tell them, and cause My people to err by their lies and by their recklessness. Yet I did not send them or command them; therefore they shall not profit this people at all,” says the LORD. … therefore behold, I, even I, will utterly forget you and forsake you, and the city that I gave you and your fathers, and will cast you out of My presence. And I will bring an everlasting reproach upon you, and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten.’”

Jeremiah 23

Sam Guzman

9:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would love to get a copy of the references this poster alludes to.

1:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here you go Littman...


1. Rick Warren, Purpose Driven Church, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1995), p. 62

2. G.A. Pritchard, Willow Creek Seeker Services, (Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI, 1996), p. 51

3. Lynne & Bill Hybels, Rediscovering Church, (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 1995), p. 69

4. Tim Stafford, A Regular Purpose Driven Guy, Christianity Today, 18.11.02, Vol 46, No. 12, p. 4


6. Forbes Magazine, April 5, 2004, p.110

7. CBS News, Early Show, 22 Mar 2005

8. Jack Beatty, The World According to Peter Drucker (New York: The Free Press, 1998), p. 186

9. Lee Strobel, Inside The Mind of Unchurched Harry & Mary, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1993), p. 92

10. Ibid. p. 124

11. Rick Warren, Purpose Driven Church, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1995), p. 219 & 225

12. Ibid. p. 197

13. Ibid. p. 293

14. G.A. Pritchard, Willow Creek Seeker Services, (Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI, 1996), p. 263-264

15. Rick Warren, Purpose Driven Life, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002), p. 58-59

16. Rick Warren, Purpose Driven Church, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1995), p. 65

17. Ibid. p. 158

18. Ibid p. 240

19. Ibid p. 281

20. For further info read K. Smith’s book, Music and Morals, (Enumclaw, WA: Winepress Publishing, 2005)

21. John MacArthur, Ashamed of the Gospel, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway), p. 83.

22. G.A. Pritchard, Willow Creek Seeker Services, (Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI, 1996), p. 268

23. Rick Warren, Purpose Driven Church, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1995), p. 237

24. G.A. Pritchard, Willow Creek Seeker Services, (Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI, 1996), p. 236

6:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of my greatest burdens is that the Cross of Christ is rarely explained. It is not enough to say that “He died” - for all men die. It is not enough to say that “He died a noble death” - for martyrs do the same. We must understand that we have not fully proclaimed the death of Christ with saving power until we have cleared away the confusion that surrounds it and expounded its true meaning to our hearers - He died bearing the transgressions of His people and suffering the divine penalty for their sins: He was forsaken of God and crushed under the wrath of God in their place.

Forsaken of God

One of the most disturbing, even haunting, passages in the Scriptures is Mark’s record of the great cry of the Messiah as He hung upon a Roman Cross. In a loud voice He cried out:

“Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

In light of what we know about the impeccable nature of the Son of God and His perfect fellowship with the Father, it is difficult to comprehend Christ’s words, yet in them, the meaning of the Cross is laid bare, and we find the reason for which Christ died. The fact that His words are also recorded in the original Hebrew tongue tells us something of their great importance. The author did not want us to misunderstand or to miss a thing!

In these words, Jesus is not only crying out to God, but as the consummate teacher, He is also directing His onlookers and all future readers to one of the most important Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament - Psalm 22. Though the entire Psalm abounds with detailed prophecies of the Cross, we will concern ourselves with only the first six verses:

“My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning. O my God, I cry by day, but You do not answer; and by night, but I have no rest. Yet You are holy, O You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel. In You our fathers trusted; they trusted and You delivered them. To You they cried out and were delivered; in You they trusted and were not disappointed. But I am a worm and not a man, a reproach of men and despised by the people.”

In Christ’s day, the Hebrew Scriptures were not laid out in numbered chapters and verses as they are today. Therefore, when a rabbi sought to direct his hearers to a certain Psalm or portion of Scripture, he would do so by reciting the first lines of the text. In this cry from the Cross, Jesus directs us to Psalm 22 and reveals to us something of the character and purpose of His sufferings.

In the first and second verses, we hear the Messiah’s complaint - He considers Himself forsaken of God. Mark uses the Greek word egkataleípo, which means to forsake, abandon, or desert. The Psalmist uses the Hebrew word azab, which means to leave, loose, or forsake. In both cases, the intention is clear. The Messiah Himself is aware that God has forsaken Him and turned a deaf ear to His cry. This is not a symbolic or poetic forsakenness. It is real! If ever a creature felt the forsakenness of God, it was the Son of God on the cross of Calvary!

In the fourth and fifth verses of this Psalm, the anguish suffered by the Messiah becomes more acute as He recalls the covenant faithfulness of God towards His people. He declares:

“In You our fathers trusted; they trusted and You delivered them. To You they cried out and were delivered; in You they trusted and were not disappointed.”

The apparent contradiction is clear. There had never been one instance in the history of God’s covenant people that a righteous man cried out to God and was not delivered. However, now the sinless Messiah hangs on a tree utterly forsaken. What could be the reason for God’s withdrawal? Why did He turn away from His only begotten Son?

Woven into the Messiah’s complaint is found the answer to these disturbing questions. In verse three, He makes the unwavering declaration that God is holy, and then in verse six, He admits the unspeakable - He had become a worm and was no longer a man. Why would the Messiah direct such demeaning and derogatory language toward Himself? Did He see Himself as a worm because He had become “a reproach of men and despised by the people” or was there a greater and more awful reason for His self-deprecation? After all, He did not cry out, “My God, my God, why have the people forsaken me,” but rather He endeavored to know why God had done so!The answer can be found in one bitter truth alone - the Lord had caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him, and like a worm, He was forsaken and crushed in our stead.

This dark metaphor of the dying Messiah is not alone in Scripture. There are others that take us even deeper into the heart of the Cross and lay open for us what “He must suffer” in order to win the redemption of His people. If we shutter at the words of the Psalmist, we will be further taken back to hear of the thriceholy Son of God becoming the serpent lifted up in the wilderness,and then, the sin bearing scapegoat left to die alone.

The first metaphor is found in the book of Numbers. Because of Israel’s near constant rebellion against the Lord and their rejection of His gracious provisions, God sent “fiery serpents” among the people and many died. However, as a result of the people’s repentance and Moses’ intercession, God once again made provision for their salvation. He commanded Moses to “make a fiery serpent and set it on a standard.” He then promised that “everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he will live.”

At first, it seems contrary to reason that “the cure was shaped in the likeness of that which wounded.” However, it provides a powerful picture of the cross. The Israelites were dying from the venom of the fiery serpents. Men die from the venom of their own sin. Moses was commanded to place the cause of death high upon a pole. God placed the cause of our death upon His own Son as He hung high upon a cross. He had come “in the likeness of sinful flesh,” and was “made to be sin on our behalf.” The Israelite who believed God and looked upon the brazen serpent would live. The man who believes God’s testimony concerning His Son and looks upon Him with faith will be saved. As it is written, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.”

The second metaphor is found in the priestly book of Leviticus. Since it was impossible for one single offering to fully typify or illustrate the Messiah’s atoning death, an offering involving two sacrificial goats was put before the people. The first goat was slain as a sin offering before the Lord, and its blood was sprinkled on and in front of the Mercy Seat behind the veil in the Holy of Holies. It typified Christ who shed His blood on the Cross to make atonement for the sins of His people. The second goat was presented before the Lord as the scapegoat. Upon the head of this animal, the High Priest laid “both of his hands and confessed over it all the iniquities of the sons of Israel and all their transgressions in regard to all their sins.” The scapegoat was then sent away into the wilderness bearing on itself all the iniquities of the people into a solitary land. There, it would wander alone, forsaken of God and cut off from His people. It typified Christ who “bore our sins in His body on the cross,” and suffered and died alone “outside the camp.” What was only symbolic in the Law became an excruciating reality for the Messiah.

Is it not astounding that a worm, a venomous serpent, and goat should be put forth as types of Christ? To identify the Son of God with such “loathsome” things would be blasphemous had it not come from Old Testament saints “moved by the Holy Spirit,”21 and then confirmed by the authors of the New Testament who go even further in their dark depictions. Under the inspiration of the same Spirit, they are bold enough to say that He who knew no sin, was “made sin,” and He, who was the beloved of the Father, “became a curse” before Him. We have heard these truths before, but have we ever considered them enough to be broken by them?

On the Cross, the One declared “holy, holy, holy” by the Seraphim choir, was “made” to be sin. The journey into the meaning of this phrase seems almost too dangerous to take. We balk even at the first step. What does it mean that He, in whom “all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,” was “made sin?” We must not explain the truth away in an attempt to protect the reputation of the Son of God, and yet, we must be careful not to speak terrible things against His impeccable and immutable character.

According to the Scriptures, Christ was “made sin” in the same way that the believer “becomes the righteousness of God” in Him. In his second letter to the church in Corinth, the Apostle Paul writes:

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

The believer is not the “righteousness of God” because of some perfecting or purifying work upon his character that makes him like God and without sin, but rather as a result of imputation by which he is considered righteous before God through the work of Christ on his behalf. In the same way, Christ was not made sin by having His character marred or soiled, thus actually becoming depraved, but as a result of imputation by which He was considered guilty before the judgment seat of God on our behalf. This truth however, must not cause us to think any less of Paul’s declaration that Christ was “made sin.” Although it was an imputed guilt, it was real guilt, bringing unspeakable anguish to His soul. He took our guilt as His own, stood in our place, and died forsaken of God. That Christ was “made sin,” is a truth as terrible as it is incomprehensible, and yet, just when we think that no darker words can be uttered against Him, the Apostle Paul lights a lamp and takes us further down into the abyss of Christ’s humiliation and forsakenness. We enter the deepest cavern to find the Son of God hanging from the Cross and bearing His most infamous title - the Accursed of God!

The Scriptures declare that all humankind lay under the curse. As it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all the things written in the Book of the Law, to perform them.” From heaven’s perspective, those who break God’s Law are vile and worthy of all loathing. They are a wretched lot, justly exposed to divine vengeance, and rightly devoted to eternal destruction. It is not an exaggeration to say that the last thing that the accursed sinner should and will hear when he takes his first step into hell is all of creation standing to its feet and applauding God because He has rid the earth of him. Such is the vileness of those who break God’s law, and such is the disdain of the holy towards the unholy. Yet, the Gospel teaches us that, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us -- for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.’” Christ became what we were in order to redeem us from what we deserved. He became a worm and no man, the serpent lifted up in the wilderness, the scapegoat driven outside the camp, the bearer of sin, and the One upon whom the curse of God did fall. It is for this reason the Father turned away from Him and all heaven hid its face.

It is a great travesty that the true meaning of the Christ’s “cry from the cross” has often been lost in romantic cliché. It is not uncommon to hear a preacher declare that the Father turned away from His Son because He could no longer bear to witness the suffering inflicted upon Him by the hands of wicked men. Such interpretations are a complete distortion of the text and of what actually transpired on the Cross. The Father did not turn away from His Son because He lacked the fortitude to witness His sufferings, but because “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” He laid our sins upon Him and turned away, for His eyes are too pure to ap- prove evil and cannot look upon wickedness with favor.

It is not without reason that many Gospel tracts picture an infinite abyss between a holy God and sinful man. With such an illustration, the Scriptures fully agree. As the Prophet Isaiah cried out:

“Behold, the Lord’s hand is not so short that it cannot save, nor is His ear so dull that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear” (Isaiah 59:1-2)

It is because of this that all men would have lived and died separated from the favorable presence of God and under divine wrath unless the Son of God had stood in their place, bore their sin, and died “forsaken of God” on their behalf. For the breach to be closed and fellowship restored, “Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things?”

Christ Dies under the Wrath of God

To obtain the salvation of His people, Christ not only suffered the terrifying abandonment of God, but He drank down the bitter cup of God’s wrath and died a bloody death in the place of His people. Only then could divine justice be satisfied, the wrath of God be appeased, and reconciliation be made possible.

In the garden, Christ prayed three times for “the cup” to be removed from Him, but each time His will gave into that of His Father. We must ask ourselves, what was in the cup that caused Him to pray so fervently? What did it contain that caused Him such anguish that His sweat was mingled with blood? It is often said that the cup represented the cruel Roman cross and the physical torture that awaited Him; that Christ foresaw the cat of nine tails coming down across His back, the crown of thorns piercing His brow, and the primitive nails driven through His hands and feet. Yet those who see these things as the source of His anguish do not understand the Cross, nor what happened there. Although the tortures heaped upon Him by the hands of men were all part of God’s redemptive plan, there was something much more ominous that evoked the Messiah’s cry for deliverance.

In the first centuries of the primitive church, thousands of Christians died on crosses. It is said that Nero crucified them upside down, covered them with tar, and set them aflame to provide street lights for the city of Rome. Throughout the ages since then, a countless stream ofChristians have been led off to the most unspeakable tortures, and yet it is the testimony of friend and foe alike that many of them went to their death with great boldness. Are we to believe that the followers of the Messiah met such cruel physical death with joy unspeakable, while the Captain of their Salvation cowered in a garden, feigning the same torture? Did the Christ of God fear whips and thorns, crosses and spears, or did the cup represent a terror infinitely beyond the greatest cruelty of men?

To understand the ominous contents of the cup, we must refer to the Scriptures. There are two passages in particular that we must consider - one from the Psalms and the other from the Prophets:

“For a cup is in the hand of the LORD, and the wine foams; It is well mixed, and He pours out of this; surely all the wicked of the earth must drain and drink down its dregs.”

“For thus the LORD, the God of Israel says to me, ‘Take this cup of the wine of wrath from My hand and cause all the nations to whom I send you to drink it. They will drink and stagger and go mad because of the sword that I will send among them.’”

As a result of the unceasing rebellion of the wicked, the justice of God had decreed judgment against them. He would rightly pour forth His indignation upon the nations. He would put the cup of the wine of His wrath to their mouth and force them to drink it down to the dregs. The mere thought of such a fate awaiting the world is absolutely terrifying, yet this would have been the fate of all, except that the mercy of God sought for the salvation of a people, and the wisdom of God devised a plan of redemption even before the foundation of the world. The Son of God would become a man and walk upon the earth in perfect obedience to the Law of God. He would be like us in all things, and tempted in all ways like us but without sin. He would live a perfectly
righteous life for the glory of God and in the stead of His people. Then in the appointed time, He would be crucified by the hands of wicked men, and on that Cross, He would bear His people’s guilt, and suffer the wrath of God against them. The perfect Son of God and a true Son of Adam together in one glorious person would take the bitter cup of wrath from the very hand of God and drink it down to the dregs. He would drink until “it was finished” and the justice of God was fully satisfied. The divine wrath that should have been ours would be exhausted upon the Son, and by Him, it would be extinguished.

Imagine an immense dam that is filled to the brim and straining against the weight behind it. All at once, the protective wall is pulled away and the massive destructive power of the deluge is unleashed. As certain destruction races toward a small village in the nearby valley, the ground suddenly opens up before it and drinks down that which would have carried it away. In similar fashion, the judgment of God was rightly racing toward every man. Escape could not be found on the highest hill or in the deepest abyss. The fleetest of foot could not outrun it, nor could the strongest swimmer endure its torrents. The dam was breached and nothing could repair its ruin. But when every human hope was exhausted, at the appointed time, the Son of God interposed. He stood between divine justice and His people. He drank down the wrath that they themselves had kindled and the punishment they deserved. When He died, not one drop of the former deluge remained. He drank it all!

Imagine two giant millstones, one turning on top of the other. Imagine that caught between the two is a single grain of wheat that is pulled under the massive weight. First, its hull is crushed beyond recognition, and then its inwards parts are poured out and ground into dust. There is no hope of retrieval or reconstruction. All is lost and beyond repair. Thus, in a similar fashion, “it pleased the Lord” to crush His only Son and put Him to grief unspeakable. Thus, it pleased the Son to submit to such suffering in order that God might be glorified and a people might be redeemed. It is not that God found some gleeful pleasure in the suffering of His beloved Son, but through His death, the will of God was accomplished. No other means had the power to put away sin, satisfy divine justice, and appease the wrath of God against us. Unless that divine grain of
wheat had fallen to the ground and died, it would have abided alone without a people or a bride. The pleasure was not found in the suffering, but in all that such suffering would accomplish: God would be revealed in a glory yet unknown to men or angels, and a people would be brought into unhindered fellowship with their God.

In one of the most epic stories in the Old Testament, the patriarch Abraham is commanded to carry his son Isaac to Mount Moriah, and there, to offer him as a sacrifice to God.

“Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.”

What a burden was laid upon Abraham! We cannot even begin to imagine the sadness that filled the old man’s heart and tortured him every step of his journey. The Scriptures are careful to tell us that he was commanded to offer “his son, his only son, whom he loved.” The specificity seems designed to catch our attention and make us think that there is more meaning hidden in these words than we can yet tell.

On the third day, the two reached the appointed place, and the father himself bound his beloved son with his own hand. Finally, in submission to what must be done, he laid his hand upon his son’s brow and “took the knife to slay him.” At that very moment, the mercy and grace of God interposed, and the old man’s hand was stayed. God called out to him from heaven and said:

“Abraham, Abraham! ...Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing
to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your
only son, from Me.”

At the voice of the Lord, Abraham raised his eyes, and found a ram caught in the thicket by his horns. He took the ram and offered him up in the place of his son. He then named that place YHWH-jireh or “The Lord will provide.” It is a faithful saying that remains until this day, “In the mount of the Lord it will be provided.” As the curtains draw to a close on this epic moment in history, not only Abraham, but also everyone who has ever read this account breathes a sigh of relief that the boy is spared. We think to ourselves what a beautiful end to the story, but it was not the end, it was a mere intermission!

Two thousand years later, the curtain opens again. The background is dark and ominous.
At center stage is the Son of God on Mount Calvary. He is bound by obedience to the will of His Father. He hangs there bearing the sin of His people. He is accursed - betrayed by His
creation and forsaken of God. Then, the silence is broken with the horrifying thunder of God’s wrath. The Father takes the knife, draws back His arm, and slays “His Son, His only Son, whom He loves.” And the words of Isaiah the prophet are fulfilled:

“Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed
Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed... But the Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief.”

The curtain is drawn to a close on a slain Son and a crucified Messiah. Unlike Isaac there was no ram to die in His place. He was the Lamb who would die for the sins of the world. He is God’s provision for the redemption of His people. He is the fulfillment of which Isaac and the ram were only shadows. In Him, Mount Calvary is renamed “YHWH-jireh” or “The Lord will provide.” And it is a faithful saying that remains until this day, “In the mount of the Lord it will be provided.” Calvary was the mount and salvation was provided. Thus, the discerning believer cries out, “God, God, I know you love me since you have not withheld your Son, your only Son, whom You love, from me.”

It is an injustice to Calvary that the true pain of the Cross is often overlooked by a more romantic, but less powerful theme. It is often thought and even preached that the Father looked down from heaven and witnessed the suffering that was heaped upon His Son by the hands of men, and that He counted such affliction as payment for our sins. This is heresy of the worst kind. Christ satisfied divine justice not merely by enduring the affliction of men, but by enduring and dying under the wrath of God. It takes more than crosses, nails, crowns of thorns, and lances, to pay for sin. The believer is saved, not merely because of what men did to Christ on the Cross, but because of what God did to Him - He crushed Him under the full force of His wrath against us. Rarely is this truth made clear enough in the abundance of all our Gospel preaching!

10:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! I came to this site feeling a little down and I come away feeling lifted up!! Thank you Tim for loving the Lord and taking a stand for the "truth". And thank you to some of the comments especially "the cross". There are things I never was told about the cross the way this is told. Oh what a wonderful Saviour!


7:09 PM  

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