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 American Idol

American Idol
by David S. Kirkwood

Imagine a person taking a block of wood and carving it to look like a bearded man in a robe. At the bottom of his wooden figurine, he carves the name "Jesus." Finally, each day he bows before it in worship. Does that make him a Christian?

No, that makes him an idolater. He is worshipping something that he has named Jesus but who is not Jesus at all. His wooden god is a grave insult to Jesus.

In a similar fashion, modern American Christendom has created many versions of Jesus that hardly resemble the Jesus who is revealed in Scripture. Having created a god to their own liking, those who worship "American Jesus" are no less idolatrous and no more Christian than the woodcarver I've just described.

What are the differences between American Jesus and Bible Jesus? American Jesus comes in many varieties, but let's compare a few of the attributes of the most popular versions with Bible Jesus.

Bible Jesus said that only those who do the will of His Father, keeping His commandments, will enter the kingdom of heaven. All others will be cast into hell, even those who called Him their Lord (see Matt. 7:13-27). Bible Jesus warned that the hateful, the lustful, the unforgiving, the selfish and greedy would not saved (Matt. 5:21-22, 27-30; 6:14-15, 19-24; 25:31-46).

By contrast, American Jesus doesn't stress holiness nearly so much. He certainly never says that obedience is essential for one to gain eternal life. Those who believe that are legalists, he says. He is always stressing God's grace, but it is a grace that overlooks and forgives yet doesn't transform. American Jesus believes that faith without works can save and that there is an entire class of heaven-bound believers called "carnal Christians" who are indistinguishable from unsaved people.

Using unmistakable terms, Bible Jesus warned His closest disciples of the possibility of their not being ready for His return if they returned to sin. He warned those closest disciples that they would be cast into hell if they weren't ready when He returned (Matt. 24:32-51; 25:1-30).

American Jesus, on the other hand, believes that once you are saved you will always be saved. You are guaranteed a place in heaven regardless of how you live your life. He often tells his audiences that he died for all their sins, past, present and future, and so there is no sin that they can commit for which he didn't die. So they are quite safe in his grace. (No one ever seems to ask if that means that everyone will be saved in the end, since Jesus died for everyone's sins, past, present and future.)

Bible Jesus, not knowing the time of His return, told His followers that they might well need to run for the hills because of the great tribulation which would arise at the time that the antichrist would enter the Jerusalem temple. Some of them would be martyred. He promised that after cataclysmic events, He would "send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other" (Matt. 24:3-36).

American Jesus promises that all his own will be taken up to heaven before any tribulation begins, because surely God would not allow the people he loves to be so persecuted. (Those who believe in American Jesus often have little idea of how much persecution is being endured around the world by those who believe in Bible Jesus. Neither do they care.) American Jesus will return twice, and His second return will follow His first return by seven years. He forgot to tell his disciples about this.

Bible Jesus commanded His followers to sell their possessions, give to charity, and lay up treasures in heaven. He commanded them not to lay up treasures on earth. He said that those who do are full of darkness (see Matt. 6:19-24; Luke 12:33). Even those who scrupulously tithe, like the scribes and Pharisees, could be lovers of money (see Luke 11:42; 16:14; 18:12).

American Jesus often tells his followers just the opposite. He wants to give them more treasures to lay up on earth and make them even richer than they already are. He promises prosperity for just 10% of their income. Interestingly, according to pollster George Barna, no more than 8% of the people who believe in American Jesus actually do give at least 10% of their income to his cause.

Bible Jesus taught His disciples to pray that His Father's name would be hallowed, that His kingdom would come and His will would be perfectly done on earth. He taught them to make request for their daily bread and for deliverance from evil (see Matt. 6:9-13).

American Jesus teaches his disciples to pray the prayer of Jabez and to claim their covenant rights to gain more wealth.

Bible Jesus told everyone to repent, and warned them if they didn't they would perish. He declared that repentance was a requirement for forgiveness (see Matt. 4:17; Luke 5:32, 13:3-5; 24:47).

American Jesus rarely mentions repentance. He most often just asks people to accept him as savior.

Bible Jesus often spoke about hell and warned of its terrors (see Matt. 5:2, 29-30; 8:12; 10:28; 13:41-42, 49-50; 18:9; 22:13; 23:33; 24:51; 25:30; Luke 13:28).

American Jesus doesn't want to scare anyone by mentioning hell, as it might offend people who are going to hell, and that hinders church growth.

Bible Jesus told His ministers that their goal was to make disciples who would obey all of His commandments (see Matt. 28:19-20).

American Jesus tells his ministers that their goal is to gather the largest possible crowds on Sunday mornings.

Bible Jesus promised freedom from sin to those who would become His true disciples and abide in His Word (see John 8:31-36).

American Jesus makes no such promises. Sinners and addicts must wait until heaven for any hope of freedom. American Jesus does offer psychological counseling and support groups.

Bible Jesus believed that being a believer in Him and being His disciple were synonymous. He called everyone to take the first step in a relationship with Him by becoming His committed disciple (see Matt. 28:19-20; Luke 14:25-35; John 8:30-31).

American Jesus believes one can be a heaven-bound believer even if he never becomes a disciple, which is an optional step for believers who really want to commit themselves to him.

Bible Jesus calls for passionate devotion. He declared that we are not worthy of Him if we love our parents or our children more than Him. We can't come after Him unless we deny ourselves and take up our cross (see Matt. 10:37-38; 16:24).

American Jesus doesn't mind taking second place to more exciting things like football, NASCAR and WWF.

The chief difference between Bible Jesus and American Jesus is this: Bible Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords, almighty Son of God, and soon-coming Judge of all, whereas American Jesus is only savior and friend. The chief difference between those who believe in Bible Jesus and those who believe in American Jesus is this: Those who believe in Bible Jesus obey His commandments and love the brethren (see 1 John 2:3-6; 3:9-10, 14), while those who believe in American Jesus possess a thin veneer of holiness and don't care about the brethren. In fact, they often hate and criticize Jesus' true followers, calling them "unbalanced fanatics" or "legalists" or "holier-than-thous" (see 1 John 2:9, 11, 19; 3:14; 4:20).

But here is the most sobering fact: People are saved, not when they believe that salvation is by faith, but when they believe in a person, a divine person named Jesus Christ (see John 3:16). That being so, it ought to concern us when so many people who claim to be Christians believe in a Jesus who is so vastly different from Bible Jesus. People who believe in American Jesus actually don't believe in Jesus at all. American Jesus is an American idol.

When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?---Jesus (Luke 18:8).

 2006/4/17 1:52
teamtoucan
Member



Joined: 2005/12/27
Posts: 42
Queanbeyan, Canberra, NSW, Australia

 Re: American Idol

What a great post - worth reading.


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Brian and Tracey Clack

 2006/4/17 6:22Profile
Onesimus4God
Member



Joined: 2006/1/16
Posts: 274
Chapala, Jalisco, Mexico

 Re:

I do not mean to be unkind about this gentleman or his article. There is much truth and validity to what he has written.
However, in this article, its author keeps crossing back and forth between religion and christianity.
There is even a hint of sinless perfection of the flesh. So while there are some true things to think about in the article, there are some things to be careful about.
We are saved by faith, through unmerited favor. Our faith is in the finished work of Jesu Christ. Our ability to believe is unmerited favor. Without faith (in Jesus Christ and Him crucified) all works are trashed, for it is impossible to please God without faith.
Our faith is expressed in obedience to God and the truth of His Word. Jesus Christ is our model and mentor as we are disciplined by Him to be conformed into a reflection of His glory. This includes repentence.
Repentence is a change in direction. Paul said that if we walk after the Spirit of God, we will not fulfill the desires of the flesh. The walk in flesh is exactly opposite of walking after the Spirit of God. Therefore, to walk after the Spirit is to walk opposite of the flesh, ie, a change of direction of heart.
Jesus said over and over again in John 14 that if we love Him, we will keep His commandments. It is impossible to be like Jesus, and not have a desire to be obedient. But having a desire does not mean that we are always successful in overcoming our flesh and always walking after the Spirit of God.
There is only one way to successfully overcome the desires of our flesh on a long term basis. That is by faith in the power of the shed blood of Jesus Christ. We do not change the desires of our heart, Jesus does. Paul said that it is God who places in us, both the will and the desire to do His good pleasure. Paul said that the cross (faith in the finshed work of Jesus Christ on Calvary) is foolishness to those who are persihing, but to those who are being saved, it is the power of God. Power of God to do what? Power of God to save us and lead an overcoming life of service to our Lord by serving the least of these His people.
To say that sinless perfection is evidence of a saved life is to me unsupported by the counsel of Scripture.
This is not uncommon among modern day preachers. They are legalistic one breath, and faith through grace the next.
So please be very careful when reading this article, and be careful when recommending it. God bless you as you go on with Him.

In awe of Him,

"O"


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Lahry Sibley

 2006/4/17 10:37Profile
JaySaved
Member



Joined: 2005/7/11
Posts: 1131
Kentucky

 Re:

Quote:
To say that sinless perfection is evidence of a saved life is to me unsupported by the counsel of Scripture.



I agree that we as Christians will never lead a sinless perfect life on this earth. However, I think the point of the article is that Christians [i]desire[/i] to lead a 'sinless, perfect life' while people who profess to be Christians but serve a false 'American Jesus' know that they will not be able to lead a 'sinless, perfect life' therefore do not try at all.

 2006/4/17 14:20Profile
ThePreacher
Member



Joined: 2006/3/26
Posts: 5
Northwest OHIO

 Re:

I'm am curious, how do you explain this Scripture:

1Jo 3:3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
1Jo 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
1Jo 3:5 And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.
1Jo 3:6 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.
1Jo 3:7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.
1Jo 3:8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
1Jo 3:9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.


Do you think it is possible for a Christian to stop sinning? If not, then how can we possibly be saved from the consequences of sin while yet continuing in the acts of sin? That would be ridiculous. Charles Spurgeon said, "Sin and Hell are married unless repentance proclaims the divorce". This is true. Therefore, if repentance isn't genuine repentance and a turning away from ALL known sin, then it isn't true repentance. The grace of God that forgives sin also transforms the nature of a person into a radically different nature; one of righteousness instead of wickedness. Why is it not possible to walk in the Spirit?

Charles Finney said, ""The fact is, the Churches are going rapidly away from God because of a lack of the true bread of life; and because the ministry have, to such an alarming extent, been guarding their Churches more against the doctrine of sanctification than they have against sin."

The power of Christ is dwelling within all true Christians, empowering them to walk as He walked; to be pure as He is pure; to be holy as He is holy. Christ was manifested to destroy the works of the devil, and sin is the work of the devil, therefore, if Christ did not destroy sin in the lives of those who serve Him then He failed His mission. God forbid!

Rom 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.
Rom 6:7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.

THE FACT IS, YOU CAN'T FIND A SINGLE SCRIPTURE IN CONTEXT THAT SAYS THAT CHRISTIANS MUST CONTINUE TO SIN AND CAN NEVER FULLY BE DELIVERED FROM IT. But you can find many that say we are FREE from sin, DEAD to sin, have POWER over sin, and are pure, holy, righteous, and obedient just as Jesus was on this earth by the power of the same HOLY Spirit that quickened Him, so long as we abide in His love.


_________________
Josef

 2006/4/18 17:57Profile
PreachParsly
Member



Joined: 2005/1/14
Posts: 2164
Arkansas

 Re:

I have found that about the only way to come to agreement with the "sinless" "not sinless" arguement is to say, "Christians turn from all known sin." A Christians does not continue in known sin.

Most that believe that you cannot stop sinning say there is "unknown" sins, so you cannot stop sinning.


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Josh Parsley

 2006/4/18 18:16Profile
RobertW
Member



Joined: 2004/2/12
Posts: 4636
Independence, Missouri

 Re:

Quote:
THE FACT IS, YOU CAN'T FIND A SINGLE SCRIPTURE IN CONTEXT THAT SAYS THAT CHRISTIANS MUST CONTINUE TO SIN AND CAN NEVER FULLY BE DELIVERED FROM IT. But you can find many that say we are FREE from sin, DEAD to sin, have POWER over sin, and are pure, holy, righteous, and obedient just as Jesus was on this earth by the power of the same HOLY Spirit that quickened Him, so long as we abide in His love.



Is there a difference between [u]S[/u]in and sins in this view? The problem we run into is that we are using the same terms but pouring our own meanings into them. A 'sin' for Finney would be to salt your food as to eat for pleasure and not survival. His ideas and definitions of sins wuld leave very very few people 'saved' in our day and age; even the most strict Oberlin style holiness folk could not stand under Finney's definition of sins. BTW I'm pretty big on Finney, I just don't want folk to get confused here.


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Robert Wurtz II

 2006/4/25 13:10Profile
RobertW
Member



Joined: 2004/2/12
Posts: 4636
Independence, Missouri

 Re:

Quote:
Charles Finney said, ""The fact is, the Churches are going rapidly away from God because of a lack of the true bread of life; and because the ministry have, to such an alarming extent, been guarding their Churches more against the doctrine of sanctification than they have against sin."



Adam Clarke said similar statements in his commentaries. The problem with them is that it assumes that everyone who challenges the view is looking for excuses to sin. This is not the case. Sometimes it is challenged in order to come to an understanding of what the writers are saying so as they can walk in it (entire sanctification) themselves. This has been the case for me. We generally jump the rails when folk start claiming they are no longer 'tempted' to commit sins. This is impossible in this life and was not the experience of our Lord. He was in all points 'tested' like as we yet without sin. Adam had no sin nature and he was 'tempted'. Every man IS tempted when he/she is drawn away of their own lusts and enticed, etc.

So for those of us desperate to walk in total sinlessness and yet know we are not there yet, we seek deeper revelation into the word of God to understand what it is that we need to understand that we might walk in it. This is why I have felt statements like Finney has made and others are not particularly helpful to us.


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Robert Wurtz II

 2006/4/25 13:17Profile
Onesimus4God
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Joined: 2006/1/16
Posts: 274
Chapala, Jalisco, Mexico

 Re:

Rom 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.
Rom 6:7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.

What is dead here folks? Is it not our flesh, that is at the very core of all "sinfulness" and temptation that we battle against? In God's eyes it's already dead. So are it's works. You either have Jesus's righteousness or you have no righteousness. God reckons our flesh already crucified with Christ. We have been made (past tense) to sit in heavenly places with Christ Jesus. So why don't we start believing what God says, instead of trying to remarry flesh and spirit again?
The flesh is never regenerated. That is why it must be crucified. The flesh along with it's lusts is destined for the grave, corruption. But flesh shall not have dominion over us. In other words, it does not rule and reign in our life. If we walk after the Spirit, we will not fulfill the desires of the flesh.
It is God who places in us the desire and the will to do His good pleasure. To know to do good and not do it is sin! So we choose one of two directions, each opposite the other, after the flesh, or after the Spirit.
The just shall live by faith! That faith must have an object. The object of Christian faith is Jesus Christ and Him Crucified. The cross is foolishness to those who are lost, but to those of us who are being saved, it is the power of God. Faith births us into His kindom. We learn to walk after the Spirit by feeding on and obeying the Word of God. God is merciful, yet chastises those who are His as we go along. His desire is for us always to do His good pleasure, walk after the Spirit moment by moment of each day.
There is no rest in living your life attempting to avoid "wrong doing". Flesh will desire and lead you as close to the letter of the law as possible, without going over. Well guess what? If you live that close, sooner or later, you will slip over. Move away from the Law and into Christ Jesus.
Jesus said, "if you love me, you will keep my commandments". Who is "you" that He speaks of? Is it not born again children of God? Obedeince is the ultimate of discipleship. We train our children to obey us, so does our Father. But when our children disobey, we do not toss them out of the family. We correct or chastise them, and go on. Oh the joy of parenting an obedient child. Perfect? Hardly, but joyful non the less.
This mixing and attemping to homogenize religion and christianity has just got to stop. We are either saved by grace (unmerited favor) through faith (in Jesus Christ and Him crucified) or we are not saved at all! We either accept His imputed righteouness, or we have none. We either reckon ourselves dead unto sin and flesh, or we walk around in unbelief and hopelessness. Paul said we are saved to the uttermost! That's as saved as it gets.
I don't believe in eternal security, but I do belive I am eternally secure in Christ Jesus. As long as His finished work is my eternal hope, I'm saved, regardless of what my flesh does. Does this give license to my flesh to do as it pleases? Absolutely not. The evidence of my faith is the change of desires in my heart. These desires birth works of rightousness, not sinless flesh.
The war of spirit and flesh is to see who rules and reigns in our lives, not whether we are saved or not. We have passed from judgement into life. How? By faith! When we follow after the spirit, we acrue reward in heaven. When we follow after the flesh, we quench the Spirit of God in our lives and trash blessings God has for us. But we do not lose our salvation. Otherwise, we trample the blood of Jesus under foot, saying by our deeds that His shed blood was not enough to forgive us of our sins and cleanse our spirit man from all unrighteousness. Flesh and Spirit are two completely seperate beings living in the same body. One is dead, the other is alive in God's eyes. Look in the mirror. What you see is dead already. What you dont' see is alive in Christ Jesus. Glory be to God!

Immersed in His life,

"O"


_________________
Lahry Sibley

 2006/4/25 14:28Profile
JaySaved
Member



Joined: 2005/7/11
Posts: 1131
Kentucky

 Re:

I think John Gill has an excellent commentary that we all need to read concerning 1 John 3:6. If you do not know who John Gill is I recommend getting to know what a great man of God he was.

John Gill's Exposition of the Bible

1 John 3:6

[b]Whosoever abideth in him…[/b]
As the branch in the vine, deriving all light, life, grace, holiness, wisdom, strength, joy, peace, and comfort from Christ; or dwells in him by faith, enjoys communion with him as a fruit of union to him; and stands fast in him, being rooted and grounded in him, and abides by him, his truths and ordinances, takes up his rest, and places his security in him, and perseveres through him:

[b]sinneth not;[/b]
not that he has no sin in him, or lives without sin, but he does not live [i]in[/i] sin, nor give up himself to a vicious course of life; for this would be inconsistent with his dwelling in Christ, and enjoying communion with him:

[b]whosoever sinneth;[/b]
which is not to be understood of a single action, [i]but of a course of sinning:[/i]

[b]hath not seen him, neither known him;[/b]
that is, he has never seen Christ with an eye of faith; he has never truly and spiritually seen the glory, beauty, fulness, and suitableness of Christ, his need, and the worth of him; he has never seen him so as to enjoy him, and have communion with him; for what communion hath Christ with Belial, or light with darkness, or righteousness with unrighteousness? (2 Corinthians 6:14,15) , nor has he ever savingly known him, or been experimentally acquainted with him; for though he may profess to know him in words, he denies him in works.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible.
All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from:
The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855

 2006/4/25 14:40Profile





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