Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Means of Grace

God's Provision for Our Salvation and Sanctification

by Bob DeWaay

"And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." (Acts 2:42)

A soldier in Iraq emailed CIC a few weeks ago. His message exposes an alarming trend in evangelicalism: to replace the Bible with man-made programs. Here is a portion of the email:

I am currently serving in Iraq. I am in the Army National Guard. "A lot" of PDL [Purpose Driven Life] study groups have sprouted up at various camps around Iraq. The people in my unit have done the PDL study 3 times now! They started for 3 months, then again started again for 3 months, and AGAIN started the “same” study. (continuous back-to-back-to-back) At no time have I EVER seen one of them carry a bible into the study. I finally decided to join them on their 3rd study (I was given the book before we deployed on Dec. 1, 2003 and I have never looked at it until mid-August 2004)...I didn't know anything about the book and I was the only one who brought their bible and used other bible passages that pertained to the chapter that day. It just seems like this “study” is sweeping quickly and people are replacing the ever-living Word of God for a man-made book. A good friend and I have been talking a lot about the principles and teachings of Rick Warren and his ‘light’ approach to the gospel. It seems no one is preaching the Word of God.

Critical Issues Commentary has received dozens of similar emails from around the world. These emails express alarm that “Bible studies” no longer study the Bible and that sermons are no longer based on sound exegesis of Biblical texts. Literally, the Word of God is too often being pushed aside in Christian circles.

This article focuses on the Biblical means God has provided for all Christians to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord. These means may not be flashy, popular, or trendy, but they will always be effectual when practiced in faith. The following are NOT God’s means of changing lives: mystical practices, self-help groups, Purpose Driven Life study groups, contemplative prayer, twelve step groups, or going to meetings where people are “slain under the power.” These and other popular programs are sad, unbiblical substitutes that eventually lead to spiritual impoverishment.

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"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. " Hebrews 10:23-25