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MUSLIMS AND CHRISTIANS PRAYING TOGETHER

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen, First Baptist Church, Spearfish, SD

I’m proud to be an American, and to live in a country in which religious freedom is one of our cherished rights. (Within reason, of course. We don’t grant the freedom to murder others, even if doing so is part of one’s religion.) Freedom-loving American Muslims should have religious freedom, too, and do have it. Such Muslims are not murderous fanatics. They are peace-loving persons. But Christians need to understand that they do not worship the same God as Muslims. Muslims already know this to be a fact. Christians are Trinitarians. Muslims are not. Christians believe in the deity of Jesus Christ. Muslims do not. Christians pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Muslims do not. So, this is a big problem for Christians in attendance when a Muslim prays at a public event, such as the Republican National Convention, being held this week in Cleveland, Ohio. To endorse such prayers is contrary to Biblical teaching. The Muslim’s god, “Allah,” is a false god, an idol. The Bible, which is the Word of God, says the following in the last sentence of the last chapter of the apostle John’s first letter: “Little children, guard yourselves from idols.” (The quote is from the Holman Christian Standard Bible.) One way to guard ourselves from idols/false gods, is to not endorse prayers made to them.

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A GUIDING PRINCIPLE HARMING MANY CHURCHES AND MINISTRIES

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen
First Baptist Church
Spearfish, SD

WHAT IT IS
A harmful thing has become the guiding principle of many Bible-believing churches, and it needs to be understood and repudiated. It is pragmatism.

THE PRINCIPLE IS NOT ALWAYS BAD
But, first, let me say that pragmatism is not always bad.  For example, a pragmatic person is one who figures out how to get along with others, or how to get something done, or how to reach a goal. So, a pragmatic person knows that, to get along with others, one must not unnecessarily say things in an abrasive manner. And,  a pragmatic person will use a wheelbarrow to move a pile of rocks from one place to another, instead of carrying a few at a time. Therefore,  as stated above, pragmatism is not always bad.

THE PRINCIPLE HAS ITS DOWNSIDE
But it has its downside. And we see its downside at work in Bible-believing churches and Bible-believing ministries in a variety of ways. The goal of these churches and ministries is good: they want to reach as many persons as possible with the Gospel message. But often their mistake is to use pragmatism in ways that contradict Biblical teaching and Biblical principles.

AN EXAMPLE OF THE PRINCIPLE APPLIED BY CHRISTIANS
A clear example of this mistake regarding pragmatism is the fact that many Christians have accepted the false and unbiblical idea that to reach the world with the Gospel, we must use music that conforms to the world’s music. Therefore,  many Christian musicians dress like non-Christian musicians. This is most notable in what are called Christian rock bands. Not only do they deliberately dress like secular rock musicians. Their appearance in other ways also conforms to the world. And although the words to their songs might be good, they use the same techniques as secular rock bands in the presentation of their music, which includes very loud music, unnecessary light shows, and excessive movement on the stage or platform. These techniques are used by Christian bands to give their audiences what they assume is a Biblical worship experience. But, intentionally or not, these bands are manipulating their audiences, just like secular bands intentionally do. This provokes some similar physical responses seen at secular rock concerts.

BIBLICAL TEACHING ABOUT THE MATTER
While these persons intentions might be good, their method is wrong because it is based on conformity to the secular world. The apostle Paul, in chapter 12, verse 2, of his letter to the Roman Christians, said Christians are not to be conformed to this world, but are to be transformed by the renewing of their minds. And in chapter 6, verses 14 – 17, of his second letter to the Corinthian Christians,  he made some powerful statements about the fact that Christians are to come out from the world and be separate from it. This applies in many ways to daily Christian living. And it certainly applies to Christian music and Christian musicians. Read, also, verses 13 – 16 of the first chapter of the first letter  by the apostle Peter, and note what he said to Christians about not being conformed to the world, and what he said about our need and duty to be holy. Christian music is supposed to draw us closer to God, which results in our holiness. And this requires it to be unlike the world, which, when given the opportunity, draw us away from him. But the principle of pragmatism, if not under control, makes us think, “If it works, don’t object to it.” But Biblical teaching and principles lead us to sometimes reject what “works.” Such is the case with the kind of music I’ve just brought to your attention.

Numerical Church Growth And The Biblical Purposes Of Church Services

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen, First Baptist Church, Spearfish, SD

NUMERICAL CHURCH GROWTH IS IMPORTANT TO CHURCHES. There are practical reasons for this. If churches don’t grow numerically, they will eventually die out as the aging attendees can no longer attend, or they pass away. If churches don’t grow numerically, they will eventually have no substantial reason to exist. If they don’t grow numerically, they will eventually run out of money and will, then, be unable to pay their expenses and will be forced to shut down. Most importantly, if churches don’t grow numerically, it means they have ceased to reach new persons in their communities with the Gospel message, and have failed to get them to attend their services.

ASTRAY FROM THE BIBLICAL PURPOSES OF CHURCH SERVICES. The fact that many churches are in serious numerical decline has caused a lot of them to stray from the Biblical purposes of church services. But what are the Biblical purposes for having church services? According to the New Testament, church services are to be held so that Christians can worship God together, pray together, be taught from the Word of God together, and to have fellowship with one another. But how have Bible-believing churches strayed from these God-ordained purposes? By making their services primarily a means of reaching non-Christians with the Gospel of Christ. This focus, they hope, will not only win many persons to believe in Jesus Christ, but also become  a means of increasing the number of attendees at their services, and thereby keep the church from going out of existence.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN EVANGELISM BECOMES THE PRIMARY PURPOSE FOR CHURCH SERVICES? It is certainly true that churches can and should be evangelistic. The Gospel can be made known during church services through music, through personal testimonies, through literature,  and through preaching and teaching the Word of God. But when reaching non-Christians with the Gospel displaces the God-ordained purposes for church services, it has serious negative consequences. Even though a church which has made this shift in its purpose for its services might still have a strong emphasis on worshiping God,  it is certain to spend less time teaching and preaching the Word of God to the Christians in attendance. The non-Christians are fed what they need to learn, and the Christians get little of the meat of God’s Word. This is comparable to what would happen if a family is made up of a wide variety of ages, but at meal time everyone is expected to eat what the youngest family members are able to eat. The youngest family members might thrive on such a diet, but not the older ones. But this is not the only negative consequence of church services becoming primarily a means of reaching non-Christians with the Gospel. Another almost-inevitable negative consequence is that in such church services many truths of the Word of God will be skipped over because of their potential to offend and thus alienate the very ones the church is trying to reach with the Gospel. Preachers in such  churches will very likely not warn about specific false teachers and their falsehoods. Preachers in such churches will not likely specifically identify religious groups that claim to be Christian, but in fact are not. Preachers in such churches will not be likely to forthrightly say certain kinds of behavior are to be avoided because the ones they are trying to win to Christ are involved in those behaviors, and they don’t want to drive them away from the services. Such preachers might forthrightly condemn things that the Bible specifically condemns, and which most persons agree are wrong. But they will be hesitant to speak against things that might be only what could be called questionable, borderline, and known to lead to worse behavior. The moderate drinking of alcoholic beverages and moderate gambling are examples of what I mean. Preachers in such churches will most likely say, “Don’t get drunk.” But they won’t say, “Don’t drink alcoholic beverages at all.” Preachers in such churches will say, “Watch out so you don’t become problem gamblers.” But they won’t say, “Don’t gamble at all.” Another almost-inevitable consequence of making evangelism the focus of church services is that the  music used will be the kind that is more acceptable to non-Christians. This means, it will be more entertaining than is appropriate in church services. And it means it will be more worldly or secular in style than it should be. Another way to put it is, the music will not be appropriate for worshiping  the Holy God revealed in the Bible. Here is an example of that very thing: One preacher told me and a couple other preachers of an experience he had as a guest speaker at church in serious numerical decline, and which was made up of mostly elderly Christians. He said that as he visited with the church folks before a service, someone began to play taped Christian rock music over the loudspeaker. He asked them why they were playing THAT kind of music. He was told it was done to appeal to the younger people. In our day it is common for older Christians to be criticized for objecting to much of the music used in contemporary churches.But those older Christians are justified in saying such music has no place in Bible-believing churches. To summarize the point of this paragraph, let me say that what happens when a church makes evangelism the primary purpose of it services is that it often gives itself over to accommodating the persons it is trying to reach with the Gospel of Christ. This always weakens a church, even if it results in many more attendees. It weakens a church because this kind of accommodation is contrary Biblical teaching, and it, therefore does not develop strong Christians.

BIBLICAL STATEMENTS CONCERNING THE GOD-ORDAINED PURPOSES FOR CHURCH SERVICES. Above, I said the New Testament tells that God has specific purposes for church services. But where we can these be read in the New Testament? I will give some of the chapters and verses to read, and you can look them up yourselves. As you read them, look for the statements indicating that the teaching and preaching of God’s Word to Christians was central to the meetings of the Christians. (We now would call the meetings church services.) Acts 2:41 – 47; Acts 14:21 – 28;  Acts 15:22 – 41; Acts 16:1 – 5; Acts 18:8 – 11 & verse 18, first sentence; Acts 18:24 – 28; Acts 19:7 – 11;  Acts 20:17 – 38; Ephesians 4:11 – 16; Ephesians 5:17 – 20; Colossians 1:28; Colossians 3:16 & 17; 2 Thessalonians 2:5 & 16; 1 Timothy 4:6 & 13; 1 Timothy 5:17; 2 Timothy 3:14 – 17; 2 Timothy 4:1 – 5; 1 Peter 5:1 – 4.

Something Many English Bible Translations Have In Common

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen, First Baptist Church, Spearfish, SD

You might recall that some weeks ago Presidential aspirant, Donald Trump, spoke at Liberty University. During his speech, he referred to a certain book of the New Testament as “2 Corinthians.” He took some heat over his having called the apostle Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians “2 Corinthians.” It seems some folks thought it revealed his ignorance of the Bible. Well, though I am not a Trump supporter, I want to point out that the objection to his reference to “2 Corinthians” actually revealed the ignorance of those who found fault with it. Here is why: I have been an avid Bible-reader for over 40 years, and I have noticed the very thing for which Trump was faulted. So, I looked at 9 of my English Bible translations, and each one refers to Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians as “2 Corinthians.” Here is a list of the 9 translations I looked at: the King James Version, New King James Version, Modern English Version, English Standard Version, New American Standard Bible (updated edition), New International Version, Holman Christian Standard Bible, New Revised Standard Version, and the 1602 edition of the Geneva Bible New Testament. I don’t know what Bible translation Trump referred to at Liberty University, but it must have been one that said “2 Corinthians” at the top of the page he read from that day.

Now, here is another important fact related to this subject: there are several books in the Old Testament and epistles (letters) in the New Testament in which numbers are used by translators to identify them. In the Old Testament we find the books called 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles. And in the New Testament we find the epistles (letters) called 1 and 2 Corinthians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, 1 and 2 Peter, and 1, 2 and 3 John. But we commonly refer to them as first and second, or as first, second and third. Here’s another interesting fact: in the Old Testament, at first there was one book of Samuel, one of Kings, and one of Chronicles. But each one was divided in half, so to speak, for the sake of convenience. They then were renamed 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 an 2 Kings, and 1 and 2 Chronicles. But the letters of the New Testament were written separately.

NEEDED: MORE MISSIONARIES TO MUSLIMS

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen, First Baptist Church, Spearfish, SD

Since Muslims are so much in the news these days, we need to think about the fact that the ones who get radicalized and become murderers do so because they have allowed hate-filled ideas to poison their minds. But we who are Christians can give Muslims, whether radicalized or not, the Gospel message. And, if they accept it, it will have the opposite effect on them than hate-filled ideas. That is, the message of love of Jesus Christ for them and the rest of the world will motivate them to love others, not hate them and kill them. So, we need to see more Christians become missionaries to Muslims, whether they are here in the USA or elsewhere. Christian young persons, especially, need to consider this need for more missionaries to Muslims. They have their whole adult lives ahead of them, in contrast to older Christians who are nearing the end of their life’s journey.
Many factors keep American young adult Christians from becoming missionaries. One factor is affluence. Many American Christians are accustomed to “the good life,” which includes good incomes, nice places in which to live, and family living close by. “The good life” is hard to give up for the sake of missionary work. But God wants us to be willing to forsake these things in order to bring the Gospel to others, including Muslims. Another thing that hinders young Christians from pursuing missionary work is the fact that many Christian parents don’t want to see their children give up “the good life” in order to go into missionary work, especially if it means moving a long ways from home to work with people whom they don’t trust, such as Muslims. So, sometimes parents will discourage their children from pursuing what might be the call of God into missionary work. This is not good.
What follows is a quote of the Lord’s own words about the need for more missionaries. The quote was taken from the Bible Gateway website: http://www.biblegateway.com. Let’s take the Lord’s words seriously.

The Compassion of Jesus
(Matthew chapter 9, verses 35 – 38.)
35 Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. 36 But when He saw the crowds, He was moved with compassion for them, because they fainted and were scattered, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. 38 Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest, that He will send out laborers into His harvest.”

Modern English Version (MEV)
The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.

Bible-believing Baptists Do Not Have A Pope Or A Magisterium

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen
First Baptist Church
Spearfish, SD

Holy Bible: 100% Pure - Absolute Truth

In this post I want to deal with the fact that, in contrast to Roman Catholics,  Bible-believing Baptists do not have a pope or a magisterium. The pope is the head of all true Roman Catholics. They claim he is their spokesman on behalf of the Lord Jesus Christ. So what he says, the Lord supposedly says. Not only do Bible-believing Baptists not have a pope. They also do not have a magisterium. The Roman Catholic magisterium plays a very vital role in Roman Catholicism, even though many non-Catholics are not as familiar with it as they are with the pope. This unfamiliarity is due to the fact that, though we often see the pope on the TV, read about him in newspapers and magazines, and, perhaps, hear about him from Roman Catholic friends, the magisterium seldom makes the news. To get a better idea of the Roman Catholic magisterium, read the following information taken from a Roman Catholic website called “Catholic Essentials,” a link to which is given here: http://www.catholicessentials.net/magisterium.htm. I would also suggest that you look over other subjects on this website, and specifically note the authoritarianism of the Roman Catholic Church. Here is the quote:

The Magisterium of the Catholic Church

Defined as “the Church’s divinely appointed authority to teach the truths of religion”. In other words, Our Lord gave His Church the authority to teach the faithful about what is expected of them, and that is what the Church has done consistently from the start.

The Magisterium of Catholic Church teaches the faithful in two ways;

1) Solemn Magisterium: is Church teaching which is used only rarely by formal and authentic definitions of councils or Popes. This includes dogmatic definitions by councils or Popes teaching “ex cathedra”
2) Ordinary Magisterium: this second form of Church teaching is continually exercised by the Church especially in her universal practices connected with faith and morals, in the unanimous consent of the Fathers and theologians, in the decisions of the Roman Congregations concerning faith and morals, in the common sense of the Faithful, and various historical documents, in which the faith is declared.

(Definitions from A Catholic Dictionary, 1951)

Now, how do the authority of the pope and the magisterium differ from the authority accepted by Bible-believing Baptists? The answer is simply this: Bible-believing Baptists look to the Bible alone as their ultimate authority for their beliefs and moral standards. In other words, Bible-believing Baptists believe that God has communicated to all the world through the Bible what doctrines he wants us to believe, and how we are to behave. Therefore, we as individuals read the Bible to find out the mind and will of God. We have pastors and theologians to which we look for guidance on matters of doctrine and morals, but the Bible alone is our ultimate authority. Therefore, we compare the teachings of our pastors and theologians with the teachings of the Bible, and if our pastors and theologians contradict the Bible, we follow what the Bible says. It alone is always right. That is the primary reason that Bible-believing Baptists reject the Roman Catholic Church. Having compared its doctrines with the Bible’s doctrines, we have seen that Roman Catholicism teaches more falsehoods than truths. Two of its primary falsehoods are the pope and the magisterium. The Bible knows nothing of the Roman Catholic Church’s pope or its magisterium.

Let me now make an application of this to Bible-believing Baptists themselves. Since we do not have a pope or magisterium, we must be very careful to not allow any Bible-believing Baptist to assume the role of a Baptist pope. No Bible-believing Baptist speaks for all other Bible-believing Baptists. He can declare his convictions on any an all subjects of concern. But he cannot make it sound like his opinion is the only right one and that the rest of must conform to his convictions. His opinions must be subjected to the Bible’s teachings, and if they contradict the Bible, or cannot be truly found in the Bible, he must accept the fact that his opinions are opinions and nothing more. Not only do Bible-believing Baptists not have a pope who speaks for all Bible-believing Baptists. They also do not have a Baptist magisterium. We do not believe that Baptist beliefs and practices, recorded in Baptist histories, are the standards to which we must conform. While we admire the Bible-believing Baptist scholars of the past and present, their views are not infallible and have no ultimate authority for us as individuals or for our churches. This is true of their sermons, their commentaries, their books on doctrine, and their confessions of faith. All of these things must be evaluated in the light of the Bible’s teachings, which we claim to believe is our ultimate authority on the subjects about which it speaks. Bible-believing Baptists are rooted in the whole Bible, but especially in the New Testament portion of it.

(The words “Bible-believing Baptists” are used in this post to distinguish them from those who call themselves “Baptists,” but who do not really believe the Bible is the infallible Word of God.)

If you want to become a Christian, or make sure you are one, click on the following link and read the short but good message that can be of help to you. Here is the link: http://www.godssimpleplan.org/gsps-english.html.

Good Thoughts About Being Thankful

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen and Henry G. Bosch
First Baptist Church
Spearfish, SD

It is November, 2014. During this month each year, many of us  Americans celebrate Thanksgiving. It is a time when we not only get together with family and friends to eat good foods and visit, but also to reflect upon and give thanks for our many blessings. The Bible has many statements about the importance of what has come to be called “the attitude of gratitude.” The Old Testament’s Book Of Psalms emphasizes this theme. For example, here is what we read in Psalm 100:

Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!
Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.
Know that the Lord, He is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
For the Lord is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations.

(Psalm 100 was quoted from the New King James Version, and was taken from this website: http://www.biblegateway.com.  “Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”)

What follows is taken from what was, perhaps, the original book of daily readings called “Our Daily Bread,” authored by two now-deceased men, M. R. DeHaan and Henry G. Bosch. The Thanksgiving reading was authored by Bosch. He quoted the 18th verse of the 5th chapter of apostle Paul’s 1st letter to the Thessalonian Christians. That verse says, “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” After giving some important historical information about the first Thanksgiving, Bosch shared these good thoughts about the subject. He wrote: “God does not want us to be continually dwelling upon our sorrows and trials, but rather to be meditating on our blessings. Thanksgiving is one of the most delightful blossoms in the garden of sanctification. Few recognize that ingratitude is a grievous sin in the sight of heaven. If our words of complaint and bitterness of the past year were placed alongside of our expressions of gratitude, how truly thankful would we appear?” Bosch then quoted part of a song by J. Oatman, Jr. It says: “Count your many blessings, name them one by one; count your many blessings, and see what God has done.” Bosch then quoted the famous preacher, H. W. Beecher, who said: “Pride slays thanksgiving. A proud man never thinks he gets as much as he deserves.”