Testimony: Costi Hinn

I can relate to so much in this interview as I was once a pastor in the word of faith movement and a local TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network) host. I praise the Lord for drawing me out and leading me into truth, just as He has for Costi here. The fact that we both are now Reformed pastors committed to expositional preaching is a sweet joy!

Benny Hinn’s Nephew, Costi Hinn, Refutes The False Teaching of His Uncle In His First Television Interview:

A Tribute to Pam

harrypamCelebrating the life of Pam Greenwood:

After my years of “theological training” at Bible College, I had the amazing privilege of becoming the Associate Minister of Harry Greenwood. This meant among other things, traveling the world in ministry, preaching with Harry in places like India, Australia, New Zealand and the U.S.A. (where I now serve as a pastor in Phoenix, Arizona)… and it meant living in Harry and Pam’s home.

Just as an aside, because of some detail in the schedule that I cannot recall, I remember Harry having to fly out to Australia 3 days before Pam and I. That meant I had the awesome responsibility of accompanying Pam and being her protector for the 26 hours of plane flights and airports, until we were all together again in Australia. When Harry and my eyes met in the Sydney airport, and he could see his darling wife Pam arriving alongside me safe and sound, with all the many bags in tow, he gave me a glance that said “well done kid. You done good! Thank you.” It remains one of the proudest moments of my life. I knew how privileged I was in watching over Harry’s treasure, and on this occasion at least, I had not dropped the ball.

As you might imagine, in a short space of time, living in Harry and Pam’s house (Lindens in Chard, Somerset) meant that I was quickly given a lifetime of insights as to how Christian ministry flows out from the home to the world outside. My recollections of Pam are marked indelibly on my mind, with such great affection. I saw Pam as my ‘mother in the Lord.”

I fondly remember Pam, each day without fail, reading her Amplified Bible. Often times she would take out her pen and write something in the margin on the page. Continue reading

How Celebrity Christianity Can Destroy Lives

Steven Langella writes, “I want to share with you the situation I am dealing with regarding my sister Roberta Langella who passed away on October 4, 2016. I ask for your prayers and support. Please share on Facebook and with as many as you like. Here is a great example of how Celebrity Christianity destroys lives. Thanks!”

Jim Cymbala and the Ghost of Testimonies Past

The Story Behind the Story of Jim Cymbala and Roberta Langella – Part 1

In Roberta’s Own Words – The Story Behind the Story of Jim Cymbala and Roberta Langella – Part 2

50 Years Ago Today

fifty-not outThrough the use of a short story, I’d like to give you a glimpse into why common grace should amaze us.

The story concerns a young Christian lady of 18 years of age in York, England. Born in Malta, of Irish parents, she was engaged to be married to a bright young man in the British military. The plan was that after the war was over, they would both serve the Lord as missionaries together, wherever He would lead them to go.

Sent over to France on D-Day, June 6, 1944, the young man was thrust into the battle for the city of Caen in Normandy, France. Tragically, just weeks afterward, on July 10, 1944, he was killed by one of the enemies’ bullets.

On hearing the news of her fiance’s death, the young lady was obviously devastated. Grief filled her heart. While attending church services in York for the next several months, she would hear dramatic testimonies of Divine protection, as loved ones returned home recounting the stories. All of these returning soldiers were protected from imminent danger. Many of these soldiers were extremely conscious of the Lord’s direct intervention in keeping them alive. And yet, the young lady had to live on knowing that the man she loved was not coming home.

Question after question plagued the young lady’s mind. Nothing that was said to her seemed to ease the pain and grief. And those hostile, haunting questions continued relentlessly.

One day, she rushed into her bedroom and flung herself down on the bed in great grief, as she often did. Then something very dramatic and life-changing happened. The Lord Himself appeared to this young lady. The brightness of His glory filled the room. He didn’t say a word. But in that moment, He stretched out His hand to her. She was totally caught up with the look in His eyes. She beheld the greatest love and compassion in the world. All her questions subsided as He smiled at her. Her heart’s cry was answered by one look into His eyes, full of unspeakable love.

The young lady very rarely speaks of this incident. However, when she does, usually only with close family and friends, tears well up once again at the grace she found in the face of Christ.

The story continues. At the same time, a Welsh military man was stationed in the same city of York in England. Brought up as a Roman Catholic, this young man had a dramatic conversion to Christ while serving in the British army in Gibraltar. In understanding the Gospel of Christ, this young man came out of the Roman Catholic Church system, facing the hostility of his family in doing so, and then trained to serve the British forces as a military chaplain.

Very much an Evangelist, this young man saw countless men come to Christ while serving in France and Belgium. For an eighteen month period, the numbers of soldiers he saw professing faith in Christ numbered in the hundreds every week.

One day, this young man was preaching in the city of York, and his eyes fixed on a certain young lady – the lady in our story. The two began to court each other and married soon after.

Years of married life passed and the hope of having a child grew stronger and stronger. How they wanted a child! Yet time was marching on.

Seventeen years of marriage came and went and no child was forthcoming. Just when it looked like all hope was gone, the young lady became pregnant. What joy must have filled the home with this dramatic news!

Two weeks before due date, the baby was coming. Complications ensued, with the afterbirth coming first, and the mother losing a great deal of blood. The mother was not doing at all well and the little baby was fighting for its life. Once born, the little one was whisked away into an oxygen tent where every gasping breath was a severe struggle.

Years later, the father wrote the following words: “I remember when I was called to the hospital where my son lay near to death. When he saw me, he reached out desperately towards me. I could do nothing. He was in an oxygen tent. The doctor gave me a knowing and sympathizing look and shook her head. The lad was dying.”

He continued, “I found a corner where I prayed. I thanked God for the joy that boy had brought into my life, for the privilege of having responsibility for his welfare, be it but for a short while. I told God how much that child meant to me and added, ‘but really he belonged to You all the time. Lord I commend him to your safe keeping. He means more than life to me Lord, but though You take him, I’ll love You still and will praise You all my days. That, I learned many years later, was a sacrifice of praise.’” Continue reading

Three Means God Used

PottersfreedomIt was the visit to Scottsdale of Dr. Sproul in the year 2000 and Dr. James White’s book “The Potter’s Freedom” that were the two major means God used to turn me from a word of faith pastor into…. slowly but surely… over time… a Reformed Baptist pastor subscribing to the 1689 London Baptist Confession. A third means would be the vast theological resources of sermons and essays at monergism.com, a site hosted by John Hendryx.

Concerning ‘The Potter’s Freedom’ book, Dr. White writes:

I am certain Norman Geisler had no intentions, upon completing Chosen But Free, of seeing entire churches founded upon the Reformed faith as a result of his book. In fact, just the opposite was his desire. We had discussed his forthcoming book on a ride to the airport in Indianapolis in 1999. As I listened to him discuss “extreme Calvinism” I immediately recognized he was simply talking about Calvinism itself. I offered to send him my book, naively. He had just explained to me that he did not think anyone less than 65 should write a Systematic Theology, and to this day, as those who know him know, he does not believe he can learn from anyone younger than himself (a sort of reverse age-discrimination thing). I did send my books (at that time I had two little books on Calvinism out, God’s Sovereign Grace, and Drawn by the Father), but I know they were never read.

Like many of my books back then, TPF was written in a relatively short amount of time. These days it takes me forever, but back then I wasn’t traveling globally, so I had more time to write, and more focus as well. One of the real issues in dealing with the book was that the first edition did not have a meaningful Scripture index. One of the editors (it was published by my own publisher, Bethany House, so I had some inside insight into it) told me that they wanted a complete index, but it ran into a page limit issue, so the original Scripture index was extremely meagre. As a result, I used the ?#?prosapologian? chat channel to help. I would pay guys, like MarkE22, in Amazon gift cards of $10 or $15 to scan through the entire book and provide a page list of every reference to John 6:37, for example.

I look back now and smile at what I was thinking at the time. “Geisler’s book will create such confusion in people’s minds! He has amazingly chosen to redefine all the classic terminology, which will cripple people in their understanding of the historic discussion of this vital issue.” It really was my entire intention to address that problem, showing all due respect to Dr. Geisler. And though he has been anything but kind to me in the years since that book came out (I was informed only two days ago about a letter he wrote ripping into me, all in defense of—guess who? Yeah, Ergun Caner), I am very thankful that any semi-fair reader will be able to verify the respectfulness of the book with reference to Geisler.

As I said above, I doubt Geisler realized how wide the impact of his book would be—in the reverse direction of his intentions. I know of one church that was founded because of TPF—have lost count of the number of people who have found places of ministry, or even entered into the ministry, at least partly due to that work. I surely had no idea how the book would be received or how widely it would be read.

How I Almost Lost the Bible

Gregory Alan Thornbury is president of The King’s College and the author of Recovering Classic Evangelicalism: Applying the Wisdom and Vision of Carl F. H. Henry (Crossway). In an article “How I Almost Lost the Bible” he I likely would have gone the way of liberal scholar Bart Ehrman.

I was born at the Evangelical Community Hospital in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania—a fact that once prompted a friend of mine to say, “You’re evangelical born, evangelical bred, and when you die, you’ll be evangelical dead.” My father, John Forrest Thornbury, was the model of a country parson, serving as the pastor of Winfield Baptist Church, a historic congregation in the American Baptist tradition, for 44 years.

My childhood environs prefigured what has become my life’s passion: the relationship of Christian faith to higher education. Lewisburg is home to Bucknell University, an elite private college whose alumni include two evangelical luminaries: Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, and Makoto Fujimura, acclaimed contemporary painter. Several years ago, Tim told me that he had occasionally attended my father’s church while at Bucknell.

Founded by a Baptist association, Bucknell originally existed to further the cause of Christ. Writing to fellow churches across Pennsylvania, the association’s leaders explained that through Bucknell, they sought “to see . . . the cause of God, the honor and glory of the Redeemer’s kingdom promoted in all our bounds, and spreading far and wide until the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and his Christ.” Bucknell held its first classes in the basement of the First Baptist Church in the fall of 1846.

The school’s reputation loomed large in our community, but like so many other premier US colleges and universities, it slowly abandoned orthodoxy. Today, you would be hard-pressed to find anything on Bucknell’s website about its origins as a Christian institution. As I grew up, perhaps unconsciously I was aware of this fact: Faith is something that can be lost.

Still, because of my father, I heard the gospel faithfully preached every Sunday. My mother cooked bacon and eggs for me every morning and read to me passages from Jonathan Edwards, Matthew Henry, and Scottish minister Robert Murray M’Cheyne. But John and Reta Thornbury weren’t fundamentalists. My father wrote biographies of Reformed evangelist Asahel Nettleton and missionary David Brainerd, but he also kept the house supplied with records by Elvis, Johnny Cash, Jerry Reed, and Marty Robbins. And he never came home from the newsstand without bringing some comic books for me.

I professed faith and was baptized at age 9. My father had been nervous baptizing me, saying that I should be buffeted about by the world more before being baptized. I remember him citing as support Edwards, who said that authentic child conversions are rare. He was right. On every level, I seemed to be a fine Christian young person. I even preached my first sermon at age 14 to a statewide Sunday school convention, but I had no business doing so.

After high school, I attended a Christian liberal arts college. In the first semester of my freshman year, I signed up for a course with a brilliant, articulate, recently minted DPhil graduate of Oxford University. The textbook for our introduction to the Bible course was Jesus: A New Vision, by Marcus J. Borg, a prominent fellow of the Jesus Seminar. The scholarly project intended to discover “the historical Jesus” apart from creedal commitments or church teaching.

In that volume, Borg coolly explained that Jesus had never claimed to be the Son of God and had never thought of himself as Savior. We learned that the Bible was a pastiche of traditions and sources, cobbled together mainly in the second century. Our task as biblical interpreters was to unravel what was “authentically Jesus” from mythology and church tradition.

In a subsequent course on the synoptic Gospels, we read works from Robert W. Funk, the founder of the Jesus Seminar. We learned how to do form and redaction analysis, a method of study that assumes the author of a biblical text is motivated by a theological agenda rather than by reporting what he had seen. We simply “knew” that the book we were holding in our hands did not have a direct connection to the apostles whose names were associated with the Gospels and Epistles.

For me, this dose of higher criticism was nearly lethal. Any sense that the Bible was divinely inspired and trustworthy, or that the creeds had metaphysical gravitas, started to seem implausible. The best I could muster was that, somehow mystically, perhaps Jesus was the Christ, existentially speaking. I was approaching something close to New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman’s own story of losing faith.

Philosopher’s Defense

When I told my father what I was thinking, he was alarmed. He recommended different apologetics works that defended biblical authority. I sloughed them off. Keep in mind that this was an era before figures such as Craig Blomberg, N. T. Wright, and Luke Timothy Johnson had gained notoriety among evangelicals and had written their best work on the historical reliability of the Scriptures.
Then Dad had a brainstorm. He knew that I was enamored with modern philosophy. So one day when I phoned home, he said, “There’s an evangelical theologian who might interest you. His PhD is in philosophy. He believes the Bible is inerrant. His name is Carl F. H. Henry. Find the volumes of God, Revelation, and Authority in your library, and read them before you decide to give up the faith.”

Soon after, I walked down the long staircase at the college library, sat down on the floor in the stacks, and pulled out God, Revelation, and Authority. It was my own tolle lege—“take up and read!”—moment of crisis. The first lines of the first chapter of the first volume rang out to me:

No fact of contemporary Western life is more evident than its growing distrust of final truth and its implacable questioning of any sure word.

That was me. I kept reading for days on end. I cried and kept searching, and genuine faith began to awaken.

Henry helped secure my faith because he was doing more than responding tit-for-tat to higher critics of the Bible’s historical reliability. Henry did that, but he went one step further: He brought philosophical gravitas to God, Revelation, and Authority. His focus was broad. He addressed epistemology—how we can know the truth, which was my primary concern as an undergraduate philosophy student. I had come within a whisker of losing my faith. But because Henry was a philosopher defending biblical authority, I rallied.

Humanly speaking, had it not been for the first editor of Christianity Today, the theologian with a titanic brain and a journalist’s pen, I could have gone the other way. Henry showed me how to be both a scholar and a follower of Jesus. From that moment in my undergraduate days, I covenanted with God to help people like the 18-year-old version of myself—people who are on the boundary of leaving the church, and are looking for just one good reason to stay.

Nearly one decade after my dark night of the soul, Paul House, C. Ben Mitchell, Richard Bailey, and I wrote Henry at his retirement home in Watertown, Wisconsin, to express our collective appreciation for and indebtedness to his work. He wrote back, and invited us to visit him and his wife, Helga. Our time together began a wonderful season of visits, correspondence, and mutual encouragement.
Carl combined head and heart. Both piety and doctrinal precision mattered to him. Once, in a PhD seminar, a student asked 20th-century evangelicalism’s leading thinker: “What is the greatest question being asked in contemporary theology?”

Carl didn’t miss a beat: “The same question that the apostles posed to their generation: ‘Have you met the resurrected Lord?’ ”
That gritty, realistic response took me back to that library and to the books that helped secure my faith in the resurrected Lord. And all these years later, it’s clearer to me now more than ever: Carl F. H. Henry is still asking the right questions.

David Wood’s Conversion Story

In viewing this video below, “A powerful argument for the Gospel. How?

1) David had nothing to bring to God. No self-righteousness. He was worthy of God’s wrath in its fullest, and he knew it. He had to look away from himself, cling to another (“we who have fled for refuge…”).

2) David was not looking for God. He was destroying himself in every way possible. Yet, God sustained him, kept him alive despite so many possibilities of death, and at the time of God’s choice, not David’s, drew him to Christ.

3) David has been healed. Some might argue even the imago Dei had been wiped from David’s experience at a horribly early age. But though it was horribly defaced, it was not wiped out. And God has, in fulfillment of Scripture, taken out that heart of stone and given him a heart of flesh.

4) David’s story shocks many people. If it shocks you as a comfortable Christian, you probably don’t realize that as horrific as David’s actions were—your sins were, and are, just as heinous in God’s sight as his. God only saves broken people. Those who think they are whole are the most lost of all.

Thank you David, for posting this. (Well done on every level—well made, well planned, well executed). We could not have more different backgrounds. Our paths to the cross were utterly and completely separate. Except for one thing: the cross was the only place to go, the only place to find peace, the only thing to cling to.”

Confessions of a Former “Word of Faith” Pastor

Repost: I was, for quite some time, a pastor in the “word of faith” movement. Back in September (2014), I had the privilege of guest hosting on Dr. James White’s ‘dividing line’ broadcast and got to share something of an insider’s guide, as well as the powerful biblical truths God used to alert me to the gross deception. The youtube video (below) has now had more than 5,000 views and the feedback received has been most encouraging. The Lord seems to be using the teaching to help a good many people. If you know of someone still enamored with or caught up in the “health and wealth gospel”, perhaps this video is something that you might feel you can share with them. May God be pleased to open many eyes to His truth.