Life is full of goals. We spend time charting and planning everything from automobile maintenance schedules to college tuition funds. Add that to our health goals after our recent trip to the doctor, along with our future retirement goals, and it seems that we have goals for almost everything in life. What about spiritual goals? Have you set goals regarding spiritual maturity? Have you thought about ways to accurately chart your progress? Have you considered the fact that your pastors have set goals for your spiritual life?
Spiritual Maturity Results in Gospel Ministry
The role and responsibility of pastors is to equip the church membership to do the work of gospel ministry. It’s a categorical error to look at the pastors as the “professionals” who earn a paycheck to do the work of ministry. Would it be a shock for you to know that God views all church members as ministers of the gospel? According to Ephesians 4:12, God has gifted the church with pastor-teachers for the purpose of equipping the church to do the work of ministry.
The ministry of the local church can be divided into two primary areas — discipleship and missions. Although there are specific overlaps, this is the work of the local church. In going and telling the gospel, we baptize and teach believers the Word of God. It is the plan of God for His children to grow-up and pursue spiritual maturity. We must read warnings in Hebrews 5:13-14 and make sure that we avoid such errors. Are you just a “come and watch” church member or do you have your hands and your heart involved in the work of gospel ministry to make disciples for the glory of God?
Spiritual Maturity Prevents Doctrinal Drift
As we grow in grace and in the knowledge of God, we grow doctrinal roots that are not easily moved. We’ve all seen the aftermath of a violent storm or high winds that uprooted trees. That same thing can be true when false doctrine sweeps through a home, a church, or across the Internet. God expects His children to grow into mature believers who are not led astray by false teachers who speak with deceptive tongues delivering damnable heresies. Paul explains one of the purposes of pastoral leadership in Ephesians 4:13-14:
until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
I have watched people be swept away by the winds of Roman Catholicism, prosperity teachings, and other cult groups who present crafty teachings through the television and Internet. Those who are pursuing spiritual maturity avoid these problems because they can spot the false doctrine like a red barn in the middle of an open green field. The spiritually immature believer often doesn’t possess such discernment. Don Whitney writes, “In my own pastoral and personal Christian experience, I can say that I’ve never known a man or woman who came to spiritual maturity except through discipline. Godliness comes through discipline.”  Like a deep root system on a majestic tree, spiritual maturity does the same thing for believers who put in the discipline to know God through His Word.
Spiritual Maturity Results in Biblical Submission
We’re born with the seed of rebellion in our depraved hearts, and then if you’re fortunate to be born in a nation like America where such rugged individualism is celebrated — submission is a backward way of thinking. After becoming a Christian, we learn that submission is the way of the Christian life. We’re called out of darkness and into the marvelous light of Christ. This new life in Christ involves submission to authority. We’re called to submit to authority, and it all begins with a submission to the Lordship of Christ.
Biblical submission involves a willingness to submit to authorities in various roles of life including:
Submission to the Lordship of Christ (we are the servants of Christ).
Submission to the Word of God (the Scriptures are authoritative and sufficient).
Submission to civil leaders and the laws of the land.
Submission to family roles (wives to husbands and children to parents).
Submission to those in authority over us in the work world.
Submission to the church family (the church caring for one another in love).
Submission to the pastoral leaders placed over you.
We are wired to resist and avoid authority. However, when God changes a person’s heart, that individual learns to lovingly submit to the law of the Spirit of life (Rom. 8:2). The individual who possesses a rogue and rebellious attitude toward authority should evaluate themselves closely. To the young believer, pursue spiritual maturity in order that you will become strong in the faith and never forget that a heart that’s willing to submit to authority is not weak. R. C. Sproul has accurately stated, “The very word authority has within it the word author. An author is someone who creates and possesses a particular work. Insofar as God is the foundation of all authority, He exercises that foundation because He is the author and the owner of His creation. He is the foundation upon which all other authority stands or falls.” 
What books are you reading? What sermons are you listening to? Do you have a plan for Scripture reading? How is your church attendance? Are you engaged in intentional discipleship opportunities within your church? When was the last time you talked with your pastor about ways you could grow spiritually? Perhaps it’s time to set some real goals for spiritual maturity in your life. Setting a goal to run a 5k or a marathon is commendable, but to set a goal for spiritual maturity is far better.
Don Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1991), 17.
R. C. Sproul, “The Divine Foundation of Authority,” Tabletalk, (March, 2009), 6.
Beth Moore is an extremely popular Bible teacher, author, and founder of Living Proof Ministries, Inc. which began in 1994 with the purpose of teaching women through Bible studies and resources. Many thousands of women (and men) study the Bible in groups who use resources from LPM and watch videos of Beth Moore’s teaching. With wide success in the publishing world, she is a frequent keynote speaker at large conferences including Passion. As a former member of the First Baptist Church of Houston, Texas (now a member of Bayou City Fellowship), Beth Moore has been a Southern Baptist for years and finds great success in publishing her material through B&H Publishing Group and distributing it through LifeWay – a popular bookstore closely associated with the Southern Baptist Convention.
For many years, Beth Moore’s teaching has raised eyebrows among pastors and leaders in conservative circles. Although concerns have been raised through the years, Beth Moore continues to be welcomed into the study groups within local churches where women read her books, study guides, and watch her videos with limited, if any, oversight from the pastoral staff. Below I’ve documented three main reasons why pastors should fire Beth Moore from the women’s ministry within their local church.
Beth Moore Clearly Violates Biblical Boundaries
In Paul’s letter to Timothy, he writes, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet” (1 Tim. 2:12). Paul forbids women from teaching and having authority over men. Therefore, the pattern of the early church was established by Christ who chose twelve men to be His inner circle and then entrusted the early church to their oversight. From that point forward (post Acts 6), God raised up a plurality of men to serve as deacons who would serve alongside the plurality of men who would serve as elders.
In short, we don’t see God calling, equipping, and endorsing women to teach the Bible in the context of the church (or beyond in places such as conferences). This position rooted in creation and upheld by a distinctive position known as complementarianism is not only consistent with Scripture, but in tandem with the early church’s design. Beth Moore violates this early church pattern and most importantly – the text of Scripture found in 1 Timothy 2:12. As she appears on the platform with an open Bible, she preaches the Word to thousands of men who are in attendance at the Passion conference and other venues where she’s invited to speak. Not only is this her personal pattern of ministry, but she likewise condones other women who preach to men as she was in attendance at Joel Osteen’s church to hear her friend Christine Caine when she preached at Lakewood.
A double dose of church this weekend! Jones & I are going tonight to Lakewood to worship & to hear @ChristineCaine & be w/her darling girls.
The point of the Bible is clear, women are not permitted to have authority over men, and how is it possible to teach the Bible without authority? Paul forbids women from occupying the office of elder, but it must likewise be noted that he forbids women from the functionality of preaching and teaching the Bible to men – even if they don’t hold the office of elder (1 Tim. 2:12). Beth Moore has demonstrated a heart of rebellion in this important area where she has violated God’s original intent in women’s role in the church, and therefore, should not be accepted into the church as an acceptable women’s ministry (or any Bible teaching ministry). The pattern of ministry Beth Moore has developed will continue to manifest itself in local churches so long as local churches continue to incorporate her resources in their ministries.
Beth Moore Employs Faulty Biblical Hermeneutics
The fancy word hermeneutics, is a reference to the science of biblical interpretation. Anyone who teaches the Bible understands that you don’t merely approach the Bible with a flippant and disorganized manner and expect organized presentation and application. Beth Moore does not approach the Bible with a disorganized methodology, but she does approach the Bible with a deficient hermeneutic – one that should be rejected.
The most appropriate method of biblical interpretation is known as the literal, grammatical, historical method of interpretation. This method seeks to uncover the original author’s intent from a literal and historical lens. This method upholds the single meaning of the text of Scripture and does so with a careful analysis upon the terms and grammar used in the text.
Beth Moore, often very animated and passionate in her delivery of her Bible teaching employs a method of biblical interpretation known as allegorical interpretation. This is a method of spiritualizing the text and making it say something other than what the original author intended. If you’ve ever heard a sermon preached from the text of David and Goliath where the preacher pointed out that David is Jesus and Goliath is Satan – you’ve heard allegorical interpretation in action. This is perhaps the main interpretative method used by Beth Moore.
Beth Moore goes beyond allegorical interpretation at times as she approaches the Bible through a mystical method of Bible reading known as Lectio Divina. This is an old heretical form of biblical interpretation taken from Roman Catholic mystics and often closely connected to contemplative prayer. This practice is often viewed as a spiritual method of approaching the Bible that involves emptying your brain and preparing to hear God speak. David Helm, in his book, Expositional Preaching, writes:
Lectio Divina advocates a method that is spiritual as opposed to systematically studious. It substitutes intuition for investigation. It prefers mood and emotion to methodical and reasoned inquiry. It equates your spirit to the Holy Spirit.” 
Although once a Roman Catholic method of reading and interpreting the Bible, Lectio Divina is now becoming popular in the mainstream evangelical community. This method sidesteps the careful and historical method of biblical interpretation as it encourages people to open their minds and listen for the voice of God. We should not be teaching people to empty their minds or open their minds while they listen for the voice of God. God has spoken clearly and we can see what God has said as we read the Bible.
Beth Moore Is an Ecumenical Charismatic
In recent years, Beth Moore has been beating the drum of ecumenism with fervor. In many recordings of her teachings, you can hear her categorize many liberal and conservative denominations along with Roman Catholics into the same group as if there are no distinctions or divisions. If this isn’t enough to cause great concern, in more recent days Beth Moore has been crossing over the line into the troubled waters of the charismatic circles and aligning herself with people such as Joyce Meyer. It’s one thing to refer to Joyce Meyer as a mentor and to embrace Roman Catholics as another denomination within evangelicalism, but why should Beth Moore be classified as a charismatic? Beyond the obvious connection that Beth Moore has with Joyce Meyer, she also leads conferences with other charismatics and engages in teaching strange doctrines. Beth Moore participated in a Women of Faith conference held at Lakewood Church in Houston (see Roma Downey promote it on YouTube) where she taught sloppy allegorical lessons and engaged in a strange “commissioning” event at the close of the conference.
Beth Moore aligns herself with Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer.
Beth Moore engages in contemplative spirituality.
Beth Moore is using charismatic language such as in a recent tweet about “binding prayers.”
Beth Moore advocates receiving direct messages from God:
Beth Moore relates the story of a woman who approached her during a conference with a message from God:
With obvious anointing, she told the story we’re about to study, then she said: “I don’t know you Beth. I have no idea why God sent me with such a message to give you, but He told me clearly to say these words to you: ‘Tell her that her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much.’” 
Notice that Beth Moore claimed the woman had an “obvious anointing” from God. To attach God’s name to a special message that doesn’t originate between Genesis and Revelation is to open yourself up to extrabiblical revelation and to deny the sufficiency of Scripture.
Discernment is needed today in the church like never before. It should also be noted that God has called pastors to exercise oversight over women’s ministries within the church. To allow women to go through church sponsored Beth Moore studies and gather for simulcast studies is to open the doors of the church to unbiblical and dangerous teaching. Pastors, guard the doors and educate the people to exercise biblical discernment.
David Helm, Expositional Preaching, (Wheaton: Crossway, 2014), Kindle Edition, 355 of 1576.
Beth Moore, Jesus the One and Only, (Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2013), 91.
On August 25th, Ligonier hosted a Google Hangout with Dr. John MacArthur, president of The Master’s Seminary, and Dr. Stephen Nichols, president of Reformation Bible College. The discussion was based on the urgency to stand with conviction in a time of rapid cultural change.
The 2016 G3 Conference – The 2016 G3 will be focused on the doctrine of the Trinity. Although the conference will be held in January, there are only 125 seats remaining as of this morning. If you’re planning to attend, you should go ahead and get your seat reserved.
Ashley Madison and the Death of Monogamy – Albert Mohler writes, “The mainstream media seems to know that the Ashley Madison hacking story is big news, but the main concern seems to be more about embarrassment than shamefulness.”
We’re presently living an an age of church decline across America. Every year we see the statistics plastered before our eyes in printed reports regarding the decline of the church and the rise of paganism. The Pew Research Center reported that the adult population claiming a Christian identity has dropped by nearly eight percentage points in just seven years, from 78.4% in 2007 to 70.6% in 2014. Many people have answers for this decline, but before we jump on any train, we should first consider its destination. Are these methods of addressing church decline God’s answer or man’s pragmatic approach to the deep rooted problem? How will the church answer the culture in day when everyone is doing what seems right in his own eyes? How will the church respond to the cultural pressures? How will the church rebound from the recent downward declining trends?
I have the privilege to meet with a group of godly pastors each month for lunch. During our meetings, we typically discuss theology and ministry. Right now, we’re reading Iain Murray’s documentary on D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones and discussing a chapter each month over our meal. This time of fellowship is refreshing, encouraging, and profitable to my soul. This week, we discussed chapter 7, “A Different Kind of Preaching.” This chapter is devoted to the ministry of D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones in Sandfields, Aberavon. From the very beginning, he demonstrated his method and devotion to the Word of God as opposed to the broken pots of human schemes and tricks of church growth programs.
When D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones entered the church at Sandfields, people wanted to know what he would do. In that day, the church was in decline and they were, in many ways, doing everything they could to answer this problem. Everything except for what The Doctor would do upon his arrival. With the looming black cloud of church decline, many churches were seeking to appeal to people by the use of more “high church” approaches by the use of liturgy, choirs, and organs. Other churches felt that people didn’t want to come to church to be “preached at” – so they repackaged the sermon as a relevant address which contained modern topics, poetry, and quotations from secular authors.
The church at Sanfields had sought to answer these problems. They had various activities going on within the church such as football, musical events, and a dramatic society. Some members approached D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones and suggested that they could be successful if they majored on their children’s ministry. However, to their surprise, the new pastor wasn’t interested in using such things to attract people. In fact, the secretary was very surprised at D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ response to the question of his direction and the needs of the church. He was interested in the regular church services of 11am, 6pm, a Monday evening prayer service, a mid-week worship service on Wednesday, and a Saturday morning men’s meeting. In the words of D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, all of the other things could go. When the Committee asked what they were to do with the wooden stage for the dramatic society, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones responded by saying, “You can heat the church with it.”
In a sermon, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said:
The world expects the Christian to be different and looks to him for something different, and therein it often shows an insight into life that regular church-goers often lack. The churches organize whist-drives, fêtes, dramas, bazaars and things of that sort, so as to attract people. We are becoming almost as wily as the devil himself, but we are really very bad at it; all our attempts are hopeless failures and the world laughs at us. Now, when the world persecutes the church, she is performing her real mission, but when the world laughs at her she has lost her soul. And the world today is laughing at the church, laughing at her attempts to be nice and to make people feel at home. My friends, if you feel at home in any church without believing in Christ as your personal Saviour, then that church is no church at all, but a place of entertainment or a social club. For the truth of Christianity and the preaching of the gospel should make a church intolerable and uncomfortable to all except those who believe, and even they should go away feeling chastened and humble.
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones remained steadfast and refused to entertain people and attract them into the church. He preached the Word faithfully, week-by-week. The results were amazing. Men who once squandered their money on liquor and were known around town as drunkards, became upstanding citizens, faithful church members, family men, and all of this without schemes or abstinence politics. It was by the power of the gospel. One particular woman was a well known spirit-medium in the community. On one particular Sunday, she was feeling ill and wasn’t able to do her normal work. As she observed the people passing by her house on their way to church, she decided to attend too. Upon entering, she would later recount, she could sense an overwhelming power in the room. She would later say, “I had a feeling that the power in your chapel was a clean power.” On that first visit to the church, under the preaching of the gospel, she became a Christian.
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones did the hard thing at first, he addressed the failed attempts of church growth and broken strategies of man. His decisions were not popular. In fact, when The Doctor announced that there would be no more stage dramas in the hall, a Mrs. Robson said to herself, “You’ll learn young man, you’ll learn!” However, as she would later tell her story, she said, “It was I who learnt.” In 1927 when D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones arrived at Sandfields, the church had enough seats for 400 people, but only 70 seats were occupied on the Lord’s Day. Under the preaching of the gospel, God added to His church. In 1930, the church at Sandfields recorded 88 new additions, and according to their records, 70 were “from the world.” These additions continued as the gospel was proclaimed. In 1931, the church experienced an addition of 135 new members, and 128 of those people were new converts to Christ.
As the downward trajectory in church numbers in America (especially in the Bible belt regions) continues onward, may God raise up pastors and church members who will be fearless and faithful like D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones and keep their focus on the gospel of Christ. We cannot expect the decline of church attendance to be reversed and baptism numbers to increase through broken schemes of man and church growth techniques. Children’s ministries and other ministries in the church are important, but we must see the gospel of Christ as the central means of growing the church. Away with the power lifters, ventriloquists, and comedians – we need the gospel of King Jesus to echo loudly from the pulpit to the hearts of men, women, boys, and girls. Jesus and the apostles were committed to the preaching of the gospel. Men like The Doctor, all throughout church history, have followed in Jesus’ footsteps. May we be found faithful in an age of cultural compromise and church decline. Jesus is enough and His gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes.
This upcoming Sunday, I will be preaching from Mark 6 on the death of John the Baptist. As we consider how his head ended up on a platter, it provides an important commentary on the recent events with ISIS, the church shooting in Charleston, and the Supreme Court ruling regarding same-sex “marriage” in America. While it may be tempting at times to separate from modern society and go out into the wilderness and live off of locusts and wild honey, that’s not exactly what John the Baptist was doing. He wasn’t starting a compound to get away from the world, although he did dress strange and his diet did include large grasshoppers and local honey.
Christians must learn to live in a complicated world of sin. One of the first lessons that a Christian must learn is that we’re not home yet. Sadly, many professing Christians are too comfortable in our present world. Others are overly offended when depraved sinners behave like depraved sinners. As we stand upon the shoulders of many Christ followers from history, we can learn lessons about life as we consider how they navigated the complexities of sin in their day. John the Baptist provides us an interesting point of reference as we consider our present sexual revolution in America. What can we learn from John the Baptist about modern life in a confused culture?
In the aftermath of the terror attacks on America, September 11th, 2001, a religious service was held at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. where many people and various faiths gathered to mourn the death of thousands of Americans. The Rev. Nathan Baxter prayed during the service, and as he finished his prayer, he said, “Respecting persons of all faiths and traditions, I humbly submit this prayer in the name of Jesus, the Christ, Amen.” John the Baptist would not have cared about respecting other religions had he prayed on that day. In fact, it was duty to another religion that brought on the attacks of September 11th, 2001.
In our culture, American evangelicals often work overtime so as not to offend other religions. I’m certainly not suggesting that Christians should aim to be offensive or scandalous in tone, character, or speech. However, Christians must realize that the message of the cross is a scandal to the world and one that we cannot “dress up” or avoid. To mention the name of Jesus is offensive in our day, and to claim to be a follower of Jesus is to open yourself up for ridicule and attack. John the Baptist would stand firm and remain unashamed of Jesus Christ in the midst of a perverse culture. In fact, that’s what he did in the midst of his perverse Jesus hating culture too.
Where is the spirit of John the Baptist today?
To preach the gospel is to preach truth, and to proclaim the truth is to shine light into the darkness. That’s not always a popular thing. To be clear, the message of the gospel is not centered upon monogamous heterosexuality. The message of the gospel is centered upon the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. However, Christians approach life through a gospel lens and when asked why it was necessary for Jesus to die on a bloody cross, all of the sudden human sexuality is a relevant issue.
Jesus died for sinners, and in His death He accomplished the salvation of a diverse group of sinners – including sexual sinners who would one day bow their knee to Christ as Lord. Jesus’ death was sacrificial; however, it wasn’t the end of the story. On the third day, Jesus was victoriously and miraculously resurrected from the dead. His resurrection validated His claims of deity, and thereby the right to address all sin – including sexual sin (divorce, adultery, homosexuality, etc).
Therefore, the gospel proclamation is not merely a proclamation of facts about Jesus. It goes beyond that into the dark abyss of sin and human depravity. That’s why John the Baptist wasn’t merely saying, “Jesus loves you this I know, for the Bible tells me so, now come down here and get baptized, because Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” John the Baptist was proclaiming the truth, and the truth involved the facts about Herod’s incestuous and adulterous relationship with Herodias – his brother’s wife. Mark gives us the details in his gospel account:
For it was Herod who had sent and seized John and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because he had married her.  For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife” (Mark 6:17-18).
John MacArthur was right on target in his book, Hard to Believe, as he stated, “You can’t be faithful and popular, so take your pick.” John the Baptist was willing to be faithful to the truth and his popularity didn’t matter so much to him. The popularity of the truth was more important to the Baptizer. As truth proclaimers, we must have confidence in the Bible. We can allow those who oppose to throw their questions and criticisms toward the Bible. Those who oppose the Bible can’t harm it with their criticisms, doubts, and questions. As we see with John the Baptist, to stand on the truth often means to stand exposed and to stand alone.
Where is the spirit of John the Baptist today?
Calling out Herod Antipas was not the politically correct thing to do in John the Baptist’s day. John the Baptist wasn’t willing to trade his pulpit for a political stump. He understood the risk, and he boldly proclaimed truth. Christians must be willing to take risks in order to proclaim the gospel. In fact, to spread the gospel in private or on a public stage is risky business. It could cost you your job, political advancement, friends, family, and perhaps your very life.
Let’s be honest, it’s a sad reality that the divorce culture of the world has been welcomed into the church. Could the divorce culture in the church be related to silence from the pulpit from pastors who were paralyzed by “fear of man” issues? What will the landscape of the church look like in the future? Will similar men refuse to speak out about the sexual sin of homosexuality and welcome it into the “church” because of “fear of man” issues?
Many people are willing to risk their reputation, but not their life. When clear lines are drawn in the sand of culture, Christians must be willing to stand with Christ rather than the popular crowd. John the Baptist proclaimed the truth even when he was opposed. He was warned to keep quiet, but he continued to thunder the truth about God and the sexual sin of Herod Antipas.
We need faithful and loving men who would be willing to walk in the footsteps of John the Baptist and call out the Supreme Court and the President Barack Obama on their open sinful sexual revolt they’ve been leading in America. Those who speak out must do so in love. Don’t misunderstand love and think that it’s weak, soft, or capitulating on principles. The fact is, love is bold and strong. John the Baptist told the truth and risked his life in love.
A risk-taking Christian is not a reckless Christian. John the Baptist wasn’t reckless. Bold proclamation of truth requires a certain amount of risk. J.C. Ryle said, “Duties are duties. Results are God’s.” The reason people were drawn to him was because of his calculated proclamation of truth. May our God raise up an army of faithful Christians who, in the spirit of John the Baptist, will tell the truth about sin and point to salvation in Jesus Christ. According to Proverbs 28:23, in the end, a person who rebukes a person in error rather than having a flattering tongue will gain favor. That was true of John the Baptist. Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist” (Matthew 11:11).
Where is the spirit of John the Baptist today?
[Tweet “One of the first lessons that a Christian must learn is that we’re not home yet. “]
Although good churches and close friends in the ministry often disagree on the interpretation of “women” or “wives” in 1 Timothy 3 within the context of deacons, it is required to land on a specific position. Denny Burk does a good job of pointing out the issues of the debate and his own position through proper exegesis and application. Read and listen to Denny Burk’s position here.