Monday 30 December 2013

Pope Francis: Five reasons to explain why he is a false teacher!

It appears that the new Pope has gained a lot of credibility points in many sections of society, including unbelievably, some Christians from Protestant backgrounds. Let me say at the beginning, that I do not doubt the "niceness" of Pope Francis and given the history of Roman Catholic persecution of Protestants, this is indeed welcome in our day. However, the Bible does not prescribe "niceness" as a benchmark for truth. If it did, then the Dalai Lama, Ghandi and many others could also be labelled as great spiritual leaders, even though the Lord Jesus Christ labels them as "thieves and robbers" or "wolves in sheep's clothing" (John 10:1, Matthew 7:15-23).

Here are five reasons to explain that Pope Francis is a false teacher.

1.He does not preach the gospel!
This is what Jesus Christ sent out true messengers of the Living God to do and we get something of a summary statement in Acts 2:38-39: "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself". Have you ever heard such a message from Pope Francis? No, and you will not either because he has not been sent to the church by Jesus Christ. Anyone who does not bring this message is a thief and a robber.

2.He prays to people other than God in the name of Jesus Christ and he teaches others to do the same. This is not surprising because praying to Mary is standard heresy for the Roman Catholic Church though this is forbidden by Holy Scripture. The apostles Paul and Peter would have "torn out their beards" at the idea of such falsity. 1 Timothy 2:5 "For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus".

3.Pope Francis believes that he is the head of the church on earth and that the Roman Catholic Church is the only true church on earth. Despite centuries of many heresies, this one is one of their worst. This is why Protestants and the Orthodox Church still, even today, dissent at such an unbiblical notion. We reject the teaching of Pope Francis that he is in apostolic succession of Peter when he refuses to uphold the apostolic doctrines of truth.

4.Pope Francis believes that he and the Roman Catholic Church are the sole interpreters of revelation (including the Bible). I know that he does not broadcast that on his public TV homilies, but this is what he believes. Do not be deceived by niceness! As a Protestant, we reject this false claim and we uphold that: "The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself: and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one) it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly", The Westminster Confession of Faith, 1:9.

5.Pope Francis believes that every administration of the Lord's Supper outside of the Roman Catholic Church is baseless. This is because it is not administered by one of their priests in communion with the Pope. We reject this teaching, along with the idea that salvation is only through the Roman Catholic Church.

In conclusion, let us hear the teaching of the true head of the church on earth, the Lord Jesus Christ.

John 14:6 “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me".

Matthew 7:15 "Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves".

Luke 13:3 "No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish".

Saturday 28 December 2013

"Why Johnny Can't Preach: The Media have shaped the messengers", T. David Gordon

I tend to build up a number of books which form a small pile on my shelf until I have time to read them in a relaxed frame of mind. Christmas each year is one of the those valuable times for mental refreshment and also a time for reflection. Life after all is short and we should all want to live our lives for the glory of God; in a way that is productive, meaningful and God glorifying. It is so easy to slip into a worldly mindset which tends to pamper the flesh and its message constantly tells people, "you need to relax, take it easy". This is the opposite of the message of Jesus Christ who spoke of discipleship in very opposite ways to the world. Jesus said in Luke 9:23-24 "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it".

A lack of emphasis upon a wholehearted commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ can easily enter into the church and also preaching. We have to be honest and acknowledge that there is a massive lack of good preaching today and yet the preaching of pure doctrine is the primary means that the Lord God has promised to use to extend his kingdom on earth. Many Christians have never sat under consistent expository preaching and they do not know what they are missing. This book by T. David Gordon is an excellent exposé of this contemporary problem. The lack of sound expository preaching in the church needs fixing! However, the first step to solving a problem is to recognise that there is a problem in the first place.

Simply "burying our head in the sand" will not do. Christians should be lovers of truth and this includes facing up to the painful and truthful realities of the state of the church. However, we are not left without answers and one of them is to turn to the Lord in prayer. To cry out to the Lord for this problem to be fixed (and not for only our own church, but the wider church as well). One of the reasons that T. David Gordon believes that there is a problem, is the lack of attention to texts of literature in an age of media, sound bites and visual means of communicating. Preaching is an oral event and it takes much effort to craft a sermon that is faithful to the written text of the Scripture, while being logical, unified, evangelical, with movement, points and order (pp 23-28). This is a must read for teaching elders and ruling elders, but also church members.

May we turn to the Lord in prayer for the church in the West,

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Matthew 9:36-38

May we also turn to the Lord in prayer for our own minister who labours to feed the sheep with the word of God (if your minister is unfaithful to preach sound doctrine, then where possible you should seek out a church that will feed your soul from the scriptures): "To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak" Ephesians 6:18-20).

Monday 23 December 2013

Book Review: "The Message of the Church" by Chris Green

The Message of the Church: Assemble the people before me, Chris Green
Nottingham:IVP, 2013.

Perhaps one of the most needed topics for recovery in the Western evangelical church is the doctrine of the church. Therefore, it was with eagerness that I dove into the chapters of this book, filled with a deep personal interest and not just to read this book as a book reviewer. The early chapters 1-3 provide a stimulating backdrop to the enormous significance of the author’s subject. He writes that: “to begin to understand the church we need a well-read Bible and a long timescale” (19). Chapters 2 and 3 give a further biblical theological basis for the church, which expounds from Ephesians, Genesis, Galatians and Colossians.

However, as you get into the book, Chris Green’s own particular brand of the church, which is popular evangelical Anglicanism, becomes increasingly evident and pragmatism seems to trump careful exegesis on specific details. He begins to make dramatic assertions, for example on public worship he writes: “There is no biblical warrant for referring to our time together uniquely as ‘worship’ ” (77). He then makes the contemporary move to propose that “all of life is worship” but this conclusion is not founded on sound exegesis or historical precedent. These ideas which are so common in British evangelicalism deserve a clear refutation, but this review is not the time for that.

Chapter 5 presents a refreshing exposition of the famous words of Jesus and Peter in Matthew 16:13-20. Sadly, much of the remainder of the book includes a range of significant omissions concerning the doctrine of the church. These include: the Christian Sabbath or the Lord’s Day, the place of the Law, the need for reformed confessions, a clear model of eldership instead of the oft quoted concept of leadership or church ministries, the priority of the preaching of pure doctrine, and worship regulated by Scripture. The placing of pure pragmatism before theological principle is encapsulated in the final chapter with the glowing commendation of Rick Warren’s “The Purpose Driven Church”. Green asserts that when he was a pastor he believed that “no other book had the explanatory simplicity of Warren’s” (297). Green’s portrayal of the church in practical terms is quite fluid, and this leaves me questioning many aspects of his presentation.

In sum, there is still much work to be done in recovering a robust doctrine of the church in the West; one which is reformed in its worship, doctrine and church government. It is my hope that future responses could be made to help “fill the gaps” to this kind of incomplete ecclesiology, which is espoused by many of our Anglican evangelical friends.

Wednesday 18 December 2013

Five + suggested books to read over Christmas

There are certain books which have really helped me in the early days of my Christian pilgrimage to move towards sound reformed doctrine. Here are a few books that I would recommend and these would make great reading over Christmas.

1. How about setting a new Years resolution to begin reading the whole Bible as from the 1st January 2014? The Scriptures are without peer and unparalleled in human history, so if you have never read the whole Bible before, now would be a good time to begin.

2. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones on Romans, especially 3:20-4:25 Atonement and Justification and the exposition of Chapter 9 God's Sovereign Purpose.

3. Lorraine Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination

4. James M. Garretson, Princeton and Preaching: Archibald Alexander and the Christian Ministry

5. Douglas Kelly, Preachers with Power: Daniel Baker, James Henley Thornwell, Benjamin Morgan Palmer and John Girardeau

Of course John Bunyan's Pligrim's Progress is a must read, but I find it very hard to get people to read this, though they will watch a multitude of movies; for some reason this taxes their brain too much. You would not regret reading this classic by Bunyan.

"Besides being wise, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge, weighing and studying and arranging many proverbs with great care. The Preacher sought to find words of delight, and uprightly he wrote words of truth. The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd", Ecclesiastes 12:9–11.

Friday 13 December 2013

Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones interviewed by Dame Joan Bakewell

A friend of mine sent me this link recently of a previously recorded interview of Martyn Lloyd-Jones from 1970. It is fascinating and it is full of apologetic material for Christian's to defend the faith.

The link is:

I recommend this to you.


Kevin Bidwell

Monday 9 December 2013

"Putting First Things First"

Sometimes, we simply need to come back to basics. Matthew 6:33 is one such basic of Christian living. Yet we need to be reminded of the basics. What does Matthew 6:33 from our Lord Jesus Christ teach us? "But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you". This should be a life-long motto for us, because to get this one wrong, is to be wrong in other areas as well, no matter how much doctrine we know. There is nothing better than being a Christian and yet we can get distracted at times in the pilgrimage, and our priorities can become against the order of Scripture.

The Book of Hebrews is so important for us at this point because it was written to Christians ... and yet there are a number of warnings for professing Christians. Here is one such warning in Hebrews 2:1-3 "Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?". This blog is written by someone who is a presbyterian minister ( and one who is most concerned about the health and well-being of the Christian church.

Though I am committed to the recovery of sound doctrine, I am also equally committed that Christians everywhere "seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness". Is that your aim? Are your priorities in line with scripture? If not then, why not make the necessary adjustments, in love, humility and with joy? Why joy? Well, perhaps our spiritual joy is connected in some measure to the outworking of this crucial truth in Matthew 6:33. May we all strive to be Matthew 6:33 Christians!

Tuesday 3 December 2013

Antinomianism: Identifying a problem is the first stage to solving a problem

Antinomianism means to be against the law. In Christian circles this means down-playing the ongoing application of the moral law of God and especially the Ten Commandments. Paul makes many statements in the Book of Romans that relate to the Law of God, for example, here are a few.

Romans 3:20 "Through the law comes the knowledge of sin". Therefore, if the law is removed from the church, then the cutting edge of the presentation of the gospel will be blunted and sin will not be exposed in the way it could and should be.

Romans 3:28 "For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law". In other words, Paul teaches that we are saved by faith in the gospel and the person of Jesus Christ; we are not saved through our law-keeping, but he does not teach that the law has no purpose. Before we are converted we are law-breakers, but sanctification is to produce the love of law-keeping in us so that we do not continue glibly as a law-breaker in the name of supposed Christian love (as some Christians do today).

Romans 7:22 "For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being". Clearly, Paul has a love for the moral law of God and he expects the church to have the same.

Romans 6:14 "For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace".a This is the kind of verse which antinomians press and selectively quote. False teaching always leads people to only consider certain biblical texts and to omit others. However, our currency as ministers of the gospel is truth and this requires us to assess all the biblical data, in order to present the biblical truth. It is like being a lawyer working to present a biblically watertight case, but not just to prove our own point. This is challenging but it must be done.

An American minister recently lamented to me the collapse of the Christian Sabbath in the USA and he asked me 'what are the main influences in the UK that have led us to go the same way?'. My initial answer was "sin" but my follow up answer was "antinomianism in the church". If there is no law and rules then we can seemingly do what we want including disobedience to the Lord and the moving away from the Lord's Day. The reality is that most Churches meet on Sundays because that is what is most convenient, rather than being based on the biblical premise of it being the Lord's Day and something that is commanded as the fourth of the Ten Commandments.

In Conclusion, I call out and name "antinomianism" as a pervasive worldwide problem and doctrinal error. This is part one to solving a problem and hopefully I can write more on this topic. However, let us turn to the Lord in prayer for this problem to be rooted out of the church as well and not simply acknowledge the problem ourselves.