4.19.2006

X-Rated Ministry?

I received an email recently from a dear brother telling me about an accountability program offered for free that keeps track of your internet history. It's offered over at Integrity Online.com. I copied this from their site: "Called X3Watch*, this service tracks websites visited from a specific computer. It then regularly sends a report of potentially inappropriate websites accessed by that computer to an accountability email address which you designate."

A helpful program, no doubt. Seems like I heard once that it might slow down your connection speed a bit - but that might be a small price to pay for some extra accountability (by "extra accountability", I'm assuming that we are all ULTIMATELY accountable to God, and perhaps have others in our lives with whom we openly discuss our progress in sanctification and fight against sin...without accountability to God, no filter or website tracker will do any good).

Now to the other purpose of this post...

The ones offering this free "X3 Watch" program also have a ministry aimed at helping those who are sinning in the area of pornography (note: I didn't say "struggling" I said "sinning"...let's not candy coat anything here :o). Their ministry and website is called XXXChurch.com. And the tagline is "#1 Christian Porn Site". Now, I'm sure you're like me & were a bit leary of having those three letters ANYWHERE on your computer! So, if you want to let your spouse know what you're doing or inform an "accountability partner", that might put you more at ease, then please do so before visiting the site. They also have a "nicer" address at www.x3church.com that takes you to the same page).

I can assure you that there are absolutley no provacative images on this site, nothing sensual, nothing tantalizing. (I did see at least two thumbnail images that were a bit questionable - pictures of some people from this ministry (dressed modestly) having their photo made with someone who wasn't dressed modestly, but these pictures weren't featured or highlighted in any way to draw attention to them)

There are, however, lots of play-on-words & "punny" phrases used to promote their products and ministry, just like the web address. Again, the site is safe, but do be aware that you'll see graphics such as their podcast title designed like a pink neon sign which reads "Dirty Little Secrets", or their "Porn Sunday" church campaign, or their t-shirts that say "Jesus loves Porn Stars". So, offended by images, probably not...put off by puns, perhaps.

After spending some time (admittedly, not a lot), I found several helpful things on this site. The filter and accountability software (as mentioned earlier), some frightening statistics about the damaging affects of pornography on men, women and children, and some links taking you to other ministries designed to help people stop sinning in this area (They seemed to be biblically based, but I couldn't tell from the sites just how biblical they were and if they integrated psychology in their counseling methods or not).

I'm also aware (and I'm not necessarily putting this in the "helpful" category), that the two men who run this ministry set up their "XXXChurch" booth at adult film conventions and pass out Bibles & the "Jesus Loves Porn Stars" t-shirts and share the gospel with the attendees.

Now, before I say anything else about this online ministry, so as not to influence anyone, I want to ask you a question. Take a look at the site, click on some of the links & resources and then answer this question in my comment section:

Is the XXXChurch site/ministry a legitmate way of reaching the lost?
Is there biblical support for such methodology?
Is God being honored and glorified in such a ministry?
What is right about this ministry?
What is wrong about this ministry?

I look forward to your comments!


"For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor..."

1 Thessalonians 4:2-4
(ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version

35 comments:

GaryDavisonJr. said...

Is the XXXChurch site/ministry a legitimate way of reaching the lost?

My gut tells me no... Hard to discern if there is real fruit coming out of the ministry? The Ron Jeremy Debate was a joke.

Is there biblical support for such methodology?

I don't think so--It might could be argued that 1Cor. 9 suggest that? What do you think?

Is God being honored and glorified in such a ministry?

Well if you dig around on the sight, I don't think so! Their podcast starts off, " a touch of bullhorn truth-a dash of pop culture lesson-a pinch of spiritual quest-you have just tuned into dirty little secrets". Their specialty DVD is titled missionary positions. Shocking-yes, eye catching-probably? Throw is a pinch of truth and voila`?


What is right about this ministry?

I think they are denouncing the deadly affects of pornography. The accountability software is a good idea.

What is wrong about this ministry?

I think C.S Lewis says it like this:

"I am inclined to think a Christian would be wise to avoid, where he decently can, any meeting with people who are bullies, lascivious, cruel, dishonest, spiteful and so forth. Not because we are "too good"” for them. In a sense because we are not good enough. We are not good enough to cope with all the temptations, nor clever enough to cope with all the problems, which an evening spent in such society produces. The temptation is to condone, to connive at; by our words, looks and laughter, to consent"

Have you seen the "jcgirls" site? Platinim blondes in short t-shirts! One picture caption reads, "boobytrapped--the guys find out who JC is".

I will spare you the link--!

Anonymous said...

Positives:

The marketing format is excellent for drawing plenty of hits from people searching the web for bad things.

I think that at some point, you have to find a way to witness the people who participate in the production of porn. They have found a way to do that.

They encourage dialogue in the secular arena about the morality of pornography. Unfortunately, the dialogue over sexual morality in the secular marketplace today is more of a monologue.

The accountability tool is seriously needed for many people. I'm just wondering what their follow-up system is.

Negatives:

The heavy marketing can have the unintended effect of bringing thoughts about pornography to people who are pure in that area.

Their language infringes on course-jesting.

There is not a single Bible verse on their web-site. They lack a true moral foundation for the materials there.

--Nate

iamchief said...

BTW, I've had at least one visitor to this blog - because of the subject matter - looking for...um...let's just say "other content".

Phoebe said...

I think that while the website is intended for good that it lacks any Biblical foundations. The play on words is offensive and I couldn't get past the Missionary Position DVD being advertised. It's all just backwards to me.

The accountablity program seems worthwhile and I give them credit for what they're trying to do, but again, they lack solid principles.

Their t-shirts, while true, can also be misconstrued. The gay movement uses the same thinking "Jesus loves everyone so it's okay for me to be gay." So, someone wearing their "Jesus loves porn stars" t-shirts might be misleading people to believe that since Jesus loves them it's acceptable to continue in their sin.

So, I give them credit for trying, but I believe the Word of God is fully sufficient to deal with the issue of pornography and that straying towards borderline inappropriateness to get the message out just isn't needed.

iamchief said...

Great points Phebbs!

You said, "I believe the Word of God is fully sufficient to deal with the issue of pornography".

I LOVE to hear that coming from a Psych Major! :o)

Anonymous said...

I think the guys have good motives behind their ideas, but no matter what our motives, our flesh is just too weak to be surrounded by that kind of influence and still not have "even a hint of sexual immorality among us." I may be wrong and they may be completely equipped by the Holy Spirit to carry out such a bold endeavor, but I certainly could not. My own weakness prohibits me from even viewing all of the content on their x3church.com website. The puns alone were enough to compromise my purity of mind.

As far as their approach being Biblical... Jesus himself said, "I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners." I just wonder if they are helping people to realize that they are sinners and that God hates sin. Is this "ministry" helping people forsake sin and run to the Cross? If so, great. There is the fruit. But if not, if they are being mislead and believing that God loves them and they are OK just how they are without any change, well, then there are definite problems with it.

I am not qualified to decide whether these guys are wrong or right. I feel that their internet accountabiltiy services are definitely useful and edifying, while some of their more "hands-on" methods of ministry are questionable. I only know that I could never be involved in such "ministry." However, only God, the True and Just Judge, can decide.

Branson

Anonymous said...

Zach

Alright, I am here....I am writing....GET OFF MY BACK YOU JERK!!! By the way, I love your blog!!

You know I will try and play "devils advocate" for lack of better words, so here is what I think.

Is it Legitimate:
I think what they are doing is great...to a certain extent. They are out there providing at least something for people who struggle with pornography. Let me just ask b/c I don't know, but what is your ministry doing about the growing porn addictions in our culture?
How many other ministries can you name where people are able to go and get help with pornography....now wait before you start listing them off like you are going to get me.
How many of those are out there successively working with the college age students who make up the majority of our statistics???
These guys are doing something. Is their approach questionable....Yes. Are all their methods appropriate...Certainly not. But you have to admit they are reaching people and doing some good.

The scripture question:
My number one arguement would be that there is very little scripture used. However, there is scripture used in the Testimony section where writers have added their comments. Should there be more...Absolutely!!

What is right?:
When was the last time you went to the church and heard your pastor talk openly about Masturbation? Probably...hopefully not recently. This ministry is doing things that our churchs have been scared to do, by covering topics that we, the righteous, like to ignore. I think they are making a huge impact in peoples lives and showing them how they can turn from their addictions. They may not be going the next step and getting them plugged into the Word of God (as they should) but they are at least making a definate impact.

What is wrong?:
After saying all that, I agree with pretty much everything that has been shared thusfar. We all know that it is controversial, the terminology and course joking is wrong. I think it is safe to say that this should hardly be considered a "ministry" as they seem to do little ministering to people.
In Alcorn's Purity Principle he uses a quote by Sturgeon that says, "An unholy church will never win over an unholy people. As it will never have anything to offer it."
We are called to holiness, we are called to be consecrated. The goal is not to look and act just like the world in order to win over the world. We are to be salt and light in a bland and dark world.

I don't like how we disagree and immediately turn them off though. I think we should consider some of the stuff they are doing and give some credit for the way in which they are taking this issue head on...if only they would take it head on with scripture!!!

iamchief said...

For the more seasoned bloggers, "Zach" who commented above, is a rookie blogger. He doesn't know when to use those annoying little smiley face things when he's being sarcastic. :o)

His reference to me being a jerk was all in fun...he's a dear brother & friend to me.

He just doesn't know what a battle ground the blogzone is! :^o

Anonymous said...

I attended a not to be named Christian school steeped in Biblical principles and heavy accountability. Pornography was rampant. In a dormitory of 60 men, I personally knew of at least 24 people who consistently used pornography.

Not to be graphic, but pornography is only used for one thing. Pornography usage is a failure to remain pure for your spouse.

People are dying. They are remaining in their sin because they love the sensual nature of pornography too much to repent and come to salvation.

Millions are being lost to hell because of porn.

iamchief said...

"Anonymous" commenter from 7:19:45PM-

I certainly share your disgust & hatred toward this sin & have also known of it's rampage in Christian schools.

Are your comments in support of an outreach like XXXChurch? Or not?

Anonymous said...

I am a dedicated listener to the “Dirty Little Secret” Pod cast, I visit XXXChurch.com almost everyday, and I have a copy of 3XPro accountability software on my computer. I’ve struggled with pornography for many years. It wasn’t until I down loaded this software and got an accountability partner that I was able to break free of porn’s strong chains. So… I guess it would be more correct to say that I am totally supportive of this ministry. Pastors Mike Foster and Craig Gross designed this website and ministry to reach all people suffering with porn, not just good church folk. While placing a scripture here and there on their website might give you a nice, warm, fuzzy feeling inside when you visit for help, it might offend a non-believer doing the same thing.

The other day I was talking to a Christian book store owner about displaying in their store some outdoor pictures I’ve taken. They said they loved my pictures but would only display them if I framed them with a scripture verse. They said art without scripture doesn’t sell in a Christian book store.

I had a hard time convincing myself to include a verse with my photos. I felt like my photos displayed God’s glory without scripture verses. I believe my photos tell the story of God’s great love, mercy, power to people who may not see his story in a scripture verse. God is bigger than the Bible! God is bigger than words! Like Chris Tomlin’s song says, he’s “Indescribable”

I feel like it is each Christian’s job to creatively bring new life to God’s word. I feel like Mike and Craig did this when they formed this new ministry. The parable about the master giving talents to his servants just came to mind. (Matthew 25:14-30) I think the question we should all ask ourselves is this: “What am I doing with my creative talents? Am I allowing God to use them to further his kingdom, or have I buried them?”

I believe Mike and Craig have freely given their lives and talents to God and through them he has created this ministry to reach the weak and wounded sinner.

Bottom line…if it an’t broke, don’t fix it.

Lance White

Anonymous said...

Considering the nature of some of the comments that have been made, I would like to suggest that each of you watch Nooma video # 9 entitled “Bullhorn” I think this video will give you a better understand of the website and why Mike didn’t blast Ron Jeremy during the debate. Key word here is relationship, not condemnation, bait and reel approach. The turn or burn approach doesn’t work.

Anyway… watch the video; it features Pastor Rob Bell from Mars Hill Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He wrote a book not to long ago called “Velvet Elvis” you guys might want to pick up a copy of it as well, I love it.

www.nooma.com
Lance White

Anonymous said...

Zach (here is where my little batman face would go if I had one to put on here......;0)....thats him...thats batman!!!!

Yeah, I was being sarcastic. He isn't always a jerk. I guess I should have used "nerd" b/c that always applies!!! Oh yeah....I mean insert nerdy ;D...or whatever that thing means!!!

I think Lance has made some valid points. It seems that one of the big questions is "Does a ministry have to be completely soaked in scripture to be God-glorifying??" Why don't they use scripture?

To me it seems that they don't use it for fear of running some people off. If you take into consideration Lance's point that this is not really considered a "ministry" per se b/c they are reaching out to both church and non-church folk alike.

Are we to only support/use those "ministries" that are scripture based and avoid those that aren't?? I think it would be wise to follow that thinking, BUT I also don't think we should completely dismiss those that aren't.

So the question is "Does a ministry have to be scripture-based (soaked in scripture) to be God glorifying and/or useful for building others in their christian faith????"

Your thoughts please!!!!!

iamchief said...

Allow me to make a quick "rule" or two for anyone commenting, especially on this particular subject:

Let's be very discreet about certain personal experiences here, knowing that the reading audience is both male & female. We don't want to be stumbling blocks to each other and therefore (If I can use Branson's phrase)
"compromise our purity of mind". There is a place for personal confession - and I don't think it's best here on a public blog. Perhaps some of the men in this thread can begin some dialogue via email as means of accountability.

Let's remember, the topic in question here is the validity of the 3XChurch ministry (pros & cons), which can be discussed (with discernment) among mixed company.

And perhaps, for a second rule, I could steal this one from Pyro:

Say what you like about us; disagree as strongly as you like; beat us up or slap us around verbally with near-total impunity. But keep within the parameters of Christian civility. We'll automatically delete comments with profane or unwholesome words, including abbreviated or otherwise disguised ones.

Now, on with the comments! :o)

Oh - and one more - if you choose Bogger's "Anonymous" identity to leave your comments, please be sure to include your name as well. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Self-discloser aimed at glorifying one’s self should be limited.
Self-discloser aimed at glorifying God should always be welcomed, and celebrated.

Bobby Hill

iamchief said...

Bobby,
You are correct in that glorifying God is always preferred to glorifying one's self. This is God worship above self worship. Agreed.

However, there are things that should not be disclosed publicly and/or among mixed company. Any topic dealing with sex, sexual sin, lust, etc. is one such category that needs much discretion when discussed in mixed company.

I don't think this line has been crossed yet in the above comments, but too much self-disclosure can be a stumbling block for others.

Abusing one's freedom/liberty to do things that even God says are good, is prohibited in such passages as 1 Corinithians 8 & Romans 14.
Failure to consider the weaker brother, I'm sure you would agree, is self-glorifying.

Regardless of one's opinion, I've asked that caution and preference to others be practiced here.

Thanks man!

GaryDavisonJr. said...

An alternative to xxxchurch. Compare and Contrast.

iamchief said...

Lance White said:
"I feel like it is each Christian’s job to creatively bring new life to God’s word."

Could you please clarify what you mean by this, perhaps there's some Scripture you have in mind that might explain this better? Thanks!

-Enjoying the dialogue & appreciate your transparency my friend.

Phoebe said...

I guess I'm a bit confused with some of the comments being left. Either God's Word is sufficient or it's not. Leaving it out for the sake of selling or appealing to a wider audience seems, to me at least, like saying that God's Word isn't enough. We can't compromise and leave the Word of God out when His Word is exactly the solution to the problem.

BeckyJoie said...

One thing I'm missing here. Isn't this "ministry" suppose to be a "church" for porn addicts? So how is it offensive for a church to use lots of Scripture?

Also, what else has the power to break strongholds if not God's Word? Just thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Is the XXXChurch site/ministry a legitimate way of reaching the lost?
Is there biblical support for such methodology?

With regards to the last few posts about non biblically based ministries I'd like to quote some scripture, using NASB

1 Corr 1:17-18
"For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech so that the cross of Christ would not be made void" 18 " For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. "

2 Tim 3:5-7
" holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these " 6 " For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, " 7 " always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth."

If they do not base their ministry on Gods word, they must base it on the wisdom of men and that is a great folly according to God's word.

There are other points that are applicable to this discussion in those two verses & their context, but I would like to keep this short so people can read it.

As for the guys going to the porn star convention and the Ron Jeremy debates, there are other verses about fleeing from temptation and not casting pearls before swine. Furthermore, since these men are not fleeing from temptation, there is a great danger that they will give in to temptation and give cause for God's name to be blasphemed.

iamchief said...

Could the commenter from Mon Apr 24, 12:33:02 AM CDT identify him/herself with at least a first name please?
Thanks much!

Anonymous said...

Is it possible to lead someone to Christ without using scripture?

Yes.

Is it possible to spread God's Truth without quoting scripture?

Yes.

Why all the fuss about scripture?

Legalism maybe.....?


Think outside the box.

The purpose is to lead people to Christ and allow him to free people from the chains of sin.

Don't let including a scripture come between a lost person and Christ. Just gett'em to the cross. Jesus will do the rest later.

Phillip

GaryDavisonJr. said...

I know the Bible says somewhere that we are to put on the whole armor of God? I am pretty sure that God's Word is said to be a lamp and light to our path? Where do you come up with, think outside the box? I am not advocating spitting verses at a lost individual, but am most definitely not going to try and wrestle with the powers of the world without my Sword!

outside of the box?? I am confused by the statement, "Don't let including a scripture come between a lost person and Christ. Just gett'em to the cross. Jesus will do the rest later."

Phoebe said...

Without scripture no one can be saved. Scripture provides the basis for salvation - the how to, the importance, the sacrifice that made it possible, etc. Afterall, how do you know how to lead someone if you haven't read scripture? How can you verify that someone knows they are a sinner and that recognizing that is essential if you don't use scripture? That's like saying you don't have to mention Jesus to be saved. I think it's very risky to assume that you can lead someone to Christ without using any scripture. It's not about legalism, at least not for me, it's simply about believing that scripture is fully sufficient for all things.

iamchief said...

Ok, I'd like to address a few of the issues, but first, more rules :o) Just one or two.

This is a dialogue.
This is a conversation.
To speak proverbally, this is "iron sharpening iron". And, if you've ever seen metal being sharpened, you know that sparks are going to fly. :o)

This is all part of it. This blog forum is to address issues, topics, biblical positions, etc. We are not here (I am not - and I hope you are not) to attack people, only positions.

The apostle Paul exhorts us to be "trained in the words of the faith and ...good doctrine" (1 Timothy 4:6, emphasis added) and a qualification for pastors which Paul gives Titus is that they be"trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine" (Titus 1:9, emphasis added). Now to be fair, contextually, Paul is addressing the issue of false teachers (demons, actually) in 1 Timothy and in Titus he's giving qualifications for pastors. But the principle still applies to all believers that doctrine matters.

That is why I've encouraged this dialogue here at i am chief. That's why there are much greater blogs out there like Pyromaniacs, and Camp on This and Pulpit Live and Dr. Mohler and Together for the Gospel and so on, because doctrine matters. Man, I'm just a wart on a flea compared to those heavy hitters, but still, doctrine matters to me because doctrine matters to Paul because doctrine matters to God.

Sorry, this was supposed to be about rules...

Having said all that, remember two things:

1) Address the issue, attack the issue, chew up and spit out the issue, but don't take it personally. I don't think there's been any personal attacks yet, so if you feel offended, toughen up! :o)

And 2) If you want to leave a comment, be prepared to support it if someone else challenges it. In other words, NO DRIVE BY'S. Don't just leave your comments and then split. Stick around and defend your position. If you can't defend it biblically, then remain an observer. ;o)

Ok, that's enough. Please note, there were 3 :o)'s and 1 ;o) - which means I'm saying all this with pleasure...and a smile.

iamchief said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

If I have a firm understanding of biblical doctrine and I reach out to a lost person; not quoting scripture but expressing the same values and principles; include that Jesus is their savior... and field all their other questions with biblical truths (Not Scriptue) That person can still be converted. First feed them milk... then give'em the meat.

Phillip

iamchief said...

One reoccuring issue being brought up by several commenters deals with the place of scripture in ministry/evangelism. Two questions seems to resurface in some form or another:

1) Is Scripture necessary?
2) Is Scripture allthat's necessary (i.e., is Scripture sufficient)?

I feel some of Lance's pain when dealing with Christian retailers. God's precious Word is almost used in vain (i.e., without meaning) in most Christian bookstores. Seems that there's no end to "Christianizing" anything you can screen print a Bible verse on. (There's still a white, satin with gold embossing, "Prayer of Jabez" pillow floating around my department at work as a big joke).
I also agree with Lance that God's glory is displayed in His creation. Consider Psalm 19:1-6

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their measuring line goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.In them he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.
English Standard Version(ESV)

Also Romans 1:19-20
For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
English Standard Version(ESV)

(See also, Nehemiah 9:6; Psalm 145:10; Psalm 148;Isaiah 6:3)

God's glory is seen clearly in His creation, and according to Romans 1:19-20 above, there is enough evidence in creation itself to convict and condemn all men, so that "they are without excuse".

This brings us to my two questions above, and this is also where I would have to disagree with those who seem to be downplaying the necessity of Scripture - in this particular case - to help people break free from the sin of lust.

Again, there is enough evidence in creation to condemn, however, there is not enough evidence in creation to convert sinful man. How do we know this? Consider the next 5 verses of Psalm 19:7-11...

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul;
the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;
the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever;
the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold;sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
English Standard Version(ESV)

The division of the Psalm is without dispute: A. Psalm 19:1-6 and B. Psalm 19:7-14
You can find many outlines for this Psalm which vary in wording, but they still follow the above structure, for instance:

A. God's Works
B. God's Word

A. God's Natural Revelation
B. God's Special Revelation

A. God's Creation
B. God's Revelation

A. God' s General Self-Disclosure in the World
B. God's Special Self-Disclosure in the Word

Get the idea?
The first half deals with God's glory in nature/creation. They declare His glory, but you see no salvific effects on man caused by nature. Only until we come to the second part of Psalm 19 do we see such effects.

The outline here for these five verses is just as simple:
A. What God's Word Is
B. What God's Word Does.

God's Word, His Special Revelation, revives, makes the simple (naive) wise, rejoices hearts, enlightens, endures and is righteous altogether. This verse alone is enough to support the sufficiency of Scripture with it's 7 fold job description of God's Word. It also is enough to prove the necessity of Scripture. Notice verse 7, "the Law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul".

Two words that need a closer look.

"Reviving" - some translations say "converting"...the idea behind the Hebrew language here is that it converts, it turns, it revives, it restores the soul. What is it that causes conversion in a sinner's heart/soul? God's Word - according to Psalm 19:7. This is what Paul meant in Romans 1:16. He said he wasn't ashamed of the Gospel (i.e., God's Word) for "it is the power of God unto salvation". God's Word, the gospel, is God's means to convert the soul of the sinner.

Then consider "perfect"..."the law of the Lord is perfect". In a sermon manuscript I've linked at the end of this comment, John MacArthur gives us an idea of what this word means. If I could quote him for a moment, he says that "perfect" "is a common word which means perfect or whole or complete or sufficient. In fact, one Old Testament scholar says that the fullness of the meaning is to say that it means "all sided so as to cover completely all aspects of a thing." It is a word of comprehensiveness. It is to say then that the Scripture covers everything. It lacks nothing. It lacks nothing. It is a comprehensive source of teaching from God which therefore embodies all that is necessary to the spiritual life of God's people." Well said.
Consider even Hebrews 4:12-13: For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

This is comprehensiveness...this is full sufficiency. No other method or message can do this. So when we consider the strategy of any ministry, if it is not using the Word of God to bring about change in an individual, then any change that does occur is liable to eventually fail. It could be nothing more than behavior modification - external morality, perhaps. Ministry and true heart change must be effected by God's Word to be real & to be lasting.See also Psalm 119:50; Psalm 119:93; John 20:31; James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23
(btw, I hope the reader will actually look at these verses and not just take my word for it or skim past them. I took the time to create the hyperlinks to make it easier for you. I'm attempting to establish a solid biblical apologetic for gospel methodology. So if one is disagreement, the burden lies on him/her to provide other Scripture that might disprove my position)

A few more passages then I'll rest...it's getting late. :o)

This is a familiar passage to most of us...follow Paul's logical thought pattern though as he describes the method by which one is saved:

For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed?
And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?
And how are they to hear without someone preaching?
And how are they to preach unless they are sent?
As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!"
But they have not all obeyed the gospel.
For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?"
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Romans 10:13-17, English Standard Version(ESV) (emphasis added)

Also, take some time to read the passages below, noting not only Paul's message - the gospel, but also his method - preaching. Now, by "preaching", I am not limiting this to just a pulpit venue, but any time one shares Scripture with the lost, he is in essence "preaching". This is also a good time to clarify that by saying Scripture is necessary, it's not always necessary that we use exact, word for word, chapter and verse. However, our language and words must be SO Scriptural as to accurately represent any particular passage.

1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (cf. vs. 14)
Acts 13
Acts 17:1-4; 22-34

Lastly, let me direct you to some men who can address this much better than I...

John Piper
John MacArthur - Part 1, Part 2
And many, MANY, more...

**I guess I should have just made this a seperate post! Sorry for the length! In fact, I finished this at midnight Monday, but got up Tuesday morning and realized I left a piece out...hence the deleted comment above. Thanks for reading - looking forward to your feedback.

iamchief said...

As I was proof reading my last comment, my wife started reading me this monthly newsletter that we receive from John MacArthur and Grace To You (GTY)ministries. The letter begins by quoting a letter that GTY received from a listener, "Pete". Pete wrote to thank them for a recent broadcast titled "Sinfulness of Sin" and told of how it "exposed, convicted, and humbled" him and his problem with lust. Pete, through the teaching of God's Word, was able to "look even deeper into the source of [his] intentions - [his] heart."

In response to Pete's letter, John MacArthur offered the following comments. I thought it was quite providential how this applies directly to our discussion at hand.

__________________________
"...Perhaps the most encouraging thing about his letter is that it's a testimony to the power of God's Word to change lives when it is clearly taught.

There's a lot of pressure within churches today to find new ways to reach and transform the culture. The temptation to update ministry becomes increasingly stronger as prominent, influential voices offer ideas, suggestions, and methods that downplay teaching and preaching and emphasize elements that appeal to younger audiences.

It's understandable that a church would be tempted to imitate a culture it wanted to attract. But at what cost are we willing to play down to our culture? What really makes a lasting difference in someone's spiritual growth? Is the Bible enough? Do we need to update it and make it more exciting before it can be useful to our culture? Do we give in to the temptation to make anything other than the teaching of God's Word the center of all ministry?...

Scripture is the only insturment at our disposal that actually has the power to transform lives at a fundamental, spiritual level. Churches that downplay the preaching and teaching of God's Word actually diminish their ability to "reach" people in the only way that really counts. Sideshows will only draw attention away from the only thing that really matters. Ultimately, the answer is not to package the message in a way that appeals to people, but to bring people to the truth of God's Word as it is - to help build them up instead of dragging Scripture down.

In fact, my job as a student and a teacher of the Bible is not to bring the Bible up to date so it's more relevant and accessible. My job is to pull people out of their culture and transport them into the ancient culture of the ancient Bible text. I need to teach the truth of Scripture so people can understand what it meant to the original audience. God's Word doesn't require updating - it's eternally true and perpetually relevant. The more people see what Scripture says without filtering it through their twenty-first-century eyes, the better the truth can take hold in their hearts."
(emphasis original)
__________________________

Interesing huh?


PS: Philip - thanks for your continued input. I appreciate your last comment, I think it was worded more carefully than your first, and is getting closer to a point that I made in my last comment:

"by saying Scripture is necessary, it's not always necessary that we use exact, word for word, chapter and verse. However, our language and words must be SO Scriptural as to accurately represent any particular passage."

Thanks man!

Bo Salisbury said...

I'm a cranky older fellow and gimmicky stuff just doesn't do it for me... in fact, it tends to repel me.

With that said, I can tell you that porn addiction is without a doubt the most consuming sin out there for young men (and, to a slightly lesser degree, young women) in the church. It saps our strength and witness.

As I'm getting older, I see that, by golly, the Scripture is true and it is:

God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

My conscience will not allow me to engage in gimmicky stuff (I don't know if this ministry merits that label), but I've learned that other good men are not convicted in the same way. So, unless a person or a ministry is a full-on heretic, I try to work with them as I can, in the hope that they will eventually get the medicine they need.

Example: I know a brother who is part of a ministry dealing with drug and alcohol addiction and he has taken "the program" into the local jails. Now, I think it tends to short circuit a lot of God's clear directives in the Bible, but they are Bible based. I could have blown out this brother a long time ago, being very direct, but instead encourage him in whatever way I could in the Scriptures. So, what's the outcome? He tells me, "The guys in the jail are reading their Bibles 10 hours a day and really growing. We started with the program, but now that takes a back seat and we are mainly a Bible study group. And, the guys are all clean and sober, moving on to other sinful behavior like anger and hatred."

I taught out of 1 Corinthians 6:12 - 20 to folks in "the program" and basically told them this... "if the program serves Christ... if the program serves the Word of God, then it will be beneficial or profitable to you. If Jesus or the Bible end up serving the program, if the program is paramount and Jesus becomes an appendage and the Bible proof texts or useful only for upbeat affirmations, it will become very unprofitable for you." I would say the same thing about any para-church ministry.

Humbly,

Bo
PietyHillPress

iamchief said...

Thanks Bo. You've brought up some good & balanced thoughts to consider.

I was hoping you'd meander over this way soon. :o)

Couple of questions for ya...

~Interesting passage you mentioned - 1 Cor 6:12-20...

Were you dealing with the "all things are lawful, but not all things are helpful" principle as you addressed those serving in this "program"?
How did you present that in context with the following verses which interestingly enough talk about sexual immorality (the subject of this very post)?

Any comments on the "special category" Paul places on sexual sin here (vs. 18)?

Thanks for your input.

Anonymous said...

Zach

You know, I think it is interesting that the discussion has taken this direction. It seems the point being made by several, including the quote from MacArthur, is that we are off in our teaching. Here is where I am going....

I was having a discussion with a few people last night on this topic. It is very difficult to teach scripture the way it should be taught. Meaning we teach it as it was taught in its original context.....NOT conform it to ours!!! MacArthur says it much better than I ever could, so if you have not read the quote Aaron posted then go back and read it closely.

Here is the thing. I beat myself up b/c I cannot teach scripture as it is supposed to be taught. So what do I do? Well I do the easy thing.....I come up with a great annology and feel good lesson and hit the concordance and find verses to support my claims, my ideas, my lesson. This is NOT how scripture is to be taught.

Now, obviously this is a deep conviction that I have had and I daily work on this. Here is the thing.....The reason I used the teach that way is b/c it is much easier, it seems to be more applicable to the culture I am speaking to, etc.

So my question is this....
Why are these ministries choosing not to use scripture?
Is it really b/c they think it will run people off? B/c it is not applicable? B/c it does not work?

I think NO. I think many preachers/teachers use this as an excuse b/c they do not know how and/or choose not to teach the scripture as it is supposed to be taught.

Am I off? Do you agree?

iamchief said...

Good point, Zach. Thanks for your honesty as well.

I don't think you're off at all.

I still want to assume the best motives for 3XChurch and any others, for that matter, who are attempting to reach sinners.

However, pure motives never excuse bad methodology (in Zach's comments - teaching the Scriptures rightly). In fact, one might be ask, IF one's motives are genuine and they REALLY want to reach the lost with the Gospel, then they should want to do it biblically (i.e., teaching/preaching the gospel - cf. my suggested reading above: 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (cf. vs. 14); Acts 13; Acts 17:1-4; 22-34).

So why doesn't everyone conduct their ministries/outreaches/"Christian Porn Sites" this way? I think for two main reasons.

Problem One - Zach nailed it. We don't know how. We don't know the languages, we won't do the spade work to exegete a text for it's intended meaning, we proof text like there's no tomorrow...we're just lazy. Plain and simple.

I am just as guilty of this. I've taken some Greek language study, I know how to diagram a verse or passage, and I've got shelves FULL of great commentaries... but I don't often utilize these tools...it takes time, and lot's of work. LOTS of work. Not to overuse Pastor MacArthur, but I've heard from many of his students that he says on many occasions, something to this effect: "Keep your rear end in the chair until you've got the text figured out." Perhaps Paul said it best to Timothy:

"Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth." 2 Timothy 2:15

Problem Two - A lack of trust in the sovereignty of God.

Here's what I mean...when a church or ministry doesn't see the results it would like to, then they assume that their methods aren't effective, and they try to change (hence many popular church "fads" - seeker sensitive mvmt., church emergent, etc.)

Again, I'd assume the best motives...people want to see sinners come to know the Lord, and they're willing to do anything to see it happen. But, we've go to stay within the boundaries of a biblical methodology.

Now, it may be that there is no fruit to our labor because we are not doing things according to Scripture. But I fear that for many years, churches were being faithful to preach the gospel and yet weren't seeing the "results" they would like to see. This, is what I consider a failure to confirm and trust in the sovereignty of God.

When we don't see the results (people repenting, being saved, staying morally clean, etc.) could it be because we're not doing ministry right? Certainly. But ultimately, if we aren't seeing people being saved, it's because God isn't saving.

"Salvation belongs to the Lord" not to men...not to pastors...not to churches.

For reasons known only to Him (Deut 29:29)- God saves some, and not others. And He saves sometimes, and not other times. (see Romans 9)

Our job as believers is to sow seed (Luke 8. We must do this faithfully. And it is God's job to bring the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6-7).

GaryDavisonJr. said...

I was reading another post over at Slice of Laodicea. The post said that thinking "outside the box" was not a new concept & what Christians need to do is "think inside the Word of God."

God has said, "For I the LORD do not change."