Tag Archives: gospel

The Joel Osteen Cube — and a Critique! (two videos)

Friends: Please watch this infomercial and one person’s critique. Comments welcome!

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Posted by on November 1, 2020 in Joel Osteen


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Cursing Others! (A Study of I Corinthians 16:22)

Friends: If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know that my friend Frank (in New Jersey) and I have been doing an email Bible study for over a year. We read the same chapter every day for a week — and then send a brief email of encouragement to each other. We’ve completed most of the epistles of the New Testament — and it’s been a great discipline for both of us.

We’re now finishing the book of I Corinthians. We started reading I Corinthians 15 on Easter Sunday! As we conclude I Corinthians, I want to post several last outlines on the last chapter, chapter 16. Verse 22 hit me like a bucket of cold water!

What a shocking way to end this first epistle to the Corinthians! Paul has given sixteen chapters of instructions about controversies, sins, and the spiritual giftedness of these believers. And now he concludes this letter with this statement: “If anyone does not love the Lord, let that person be cursed! Come, Lord!”

If we believe that Paul’s letter is inspired of God, then God the Holy Spirit led him to write those words! There are two and only two categories of human beings: (1) those who love the Lord, and (2) those who don’t. For that second category, only God’s judgment awaits. They are presently under God’s curse and will be so for all eternity unless they repent of their sins and trust in Christ. Such a categorical statement is intolerable to our present culture, but is nonetheless true.

A Possible Outline:

Cursing Others!
(A Study of I Corinthians 16:22)

I. The Imperative of Loving the Lord

God’s Word commands us to love the Lord our God with all our strength!

II. The Consequences of Not Loving the Lord

Only God’s curse awaits those who choose not to love the Lord!

III. The Expectation of Those Who Love the Lord

Those who love the Lord are looking forward (and seeking to “hasten”) the return of the Lord!

Today’s Challenge: If I acknowledge that there are two and only two categories of human beings — those who love the Lord and long for His returning and those who don’t and are under God’s curse — I will do something about it! I will seek to share the gospel of God’s grace with all I meet, either face-to-face or online!

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Posted by on May 4, 2020 in I Corinthians 16


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It’s All Grace! (I Cor. 15:9-11)

Friends: If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know that my friend Frank (in New Jersey) and I have been doing an email Bible study for over a year. We read the same chapter every day for a week — and then send a brief email of encouragement to each other. We’ve completed most of the epistles of the New Testament — and it’s been a great discipline for both of us.

We’re now in the book of I Corinthians. And we just started reading I Corinthians 15 on Easter Sunday! I want to occasionally post an outline of what I’m learning from my reading. Here’s my outline from I Corinthians 15:9-11:

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Posted by on April 22, 2020 in I Corinthians 15


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Some Satire from the Babylon Bee!

HOUSTON, TX—On a video posted to his Facebook page Thursday, a relieved Joel Osteen announced that he’s tested negative for biblically faithful Christianity.

A nervous Osteen had accidentally come into contact with the Bible several days prior and feared he had contracted the gospel.

“I’m relieved to announce that I’m 100% gospel-free,” the smiling pastor said. He’d been quarantining himself from friends and family for a few days just in case he was gospel-positive, not wanting the gospel to spread to anyone else. “My hand had briefly brushed against the Bible, as I thought it was one of my books. We’ve disposed of it, of course, and I’ve notified all the people I’ve come into contact with since then so they could quarantine.”

“I’m just glad I’m still safe from the truth that I’m a hopeless sinner in need of a savior.”

Osteen has, however, tested positive for a novel prosperity gospel virus — a new but still very deadly mutation of an ancient heresy.

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Posted by on April 9, 2020 in Joel Osteen


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What If This Happened in Starbucks?

So this morning (Sunday morning), I went to Starbucks to get coffee for my wife. The church we attend has a break between services, so I went to get her coffee and a multi-grain bagel.

The place was packed. The six or so Starbucks’ employees that were working behind the counter were swamped. One customer was upset because he was still waiting for his cheese danish. Most of the chairs and tables were taken. People were meeting with friends; laptops were everywhere.

Before I placed my order, something came over me. I felt a profound burden to speak to the whole room:

“Hey! Forgive me for interrupting you folks, but I’ve got a critical question to ask you. Are you ready?”

People looked nervous. Nobody speaks to the whole group gathered in a Starbucks! Who was this kook?, they probably thought to themselves. Some of the men looked like they were examining me for a hidden weapon of some kind.

“Why aren’t you people in church?! There are a lot of good churches within a couple of miles of here. Has Starbucks become your church?”

Out of the corner of my eye I noticed that one of the baristas was on the phone, probably calling the police. I knew my opportunity would soon be over.

“Folks, I’m not trying to be offensive, But shouldn’t all of you be in a church of some kind, worshiping the Lord Jesus for all He’s done for you? He died for your sins. As the Creator, He’s the One who gives you the next lungful of air that you breathe. Unless you’re on a break from your church like me, what are you doing here?!”

As I looked over this group of about thirty people, there were a few whose faces looked very angry. I had disturbed their Sunday morning quiet time at Starbucks. One or two looked, well, almost remorseful. Maybe they had given up on the church a long time ago, but the truth of Jesus’ giving His life for them seemed to rush back to their minds. The rest, to be honest, were each dialing 9-1-1.

Then I saw the flashing lights outside. As the police officer came in and gently led me to his patrol car, I thought, “Wait! I forgot to get the coffee and bagel for my wife!”

Friends: Just so you know, this did not happen. But I thought about it. And I know my friend Bruce (a former preacher-turned-atheist) who sometimes reads my blog would say, “Why in the world did you think you had the right to interrupt those people with your silly message? They didn’t ask you, did they?!”

And he would be right. No one asked me to break into their peaceful moment at Starbucks with the gospel. But what if I did?

[Your comments welcome below]



Posted by on March 9, 2020 in gospel


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Bruce’s Response (Former Preacher Turned Atheist)

Some of you might have read my post back on February 28 entitled “Answering a Personal Attack: My Response to a Former Preacher Turned Atheist.” Bruce responded to my comment on his blog (see below) and I just responded to his response. Feel free to leave a comment at the end of this post if you wish. Thank you to those of you who have been praying for me during this conversation. Larry

Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

Larry: I’m trying to make the point that real Jesus-followers should deeply love others whether they come to faith or not.

Bruce: You say “whether they come to faith or not.” There’s the condition, whether you can see it or not. I’m going to befriend my neighbor without any such motivation. Last year, I had an across the fence interaction with my neighbor’s father. I had no thoughts of evangelizing him or converting him to atheism/humanism/liberalism/Bengalism. We talked like two people getting to know each other.

Larry:The thing is both of us have a worldview.

Bruce: I’ve never said otherwise. The difference being, of course, I don’t write books, hold seminars, or cajole atheists, agnostics, humanists, or Bengalites to “reach” unbelievers. I don’t make fake friendships with people so I can evangelize them or add them to my “church.”

Larry: You have a worldview, Bruce.

Bruce: Again, I never said otherwise.

Larry: And you spend hours immersing yourself in your former Evangelical world to find reasons to criticize Jesus-followers. You’re on a mission, right?

Bruce: I’m a critic of Evangelicalism, right-wing politics, and the designated hitter. I have countless Christian readers whom I never criticize. It is your religion’s beliefs, practices, and cultural/social influence I have a problem with.

My mission? To be a good father, husband, and grandfather; to love my neighbor; to work for a better tomorrow; to take outstanding photographs; to take road trips with my wife; to endure chronic pain in the hope that tomorrow will be a better day; to photograph 50+ high school sporting events a year; to cheer the Reds on to a World Series championship. You see, I have lots of interests now that I don’t have to concern myself with God/Jesus/Bible/afterlife/judgment/hell. All that matters is now, today, the moment.

Larry: I’m just saddened that you feel you must judge my motives without knowing me.

Bruce: Yet, you do the same. Snap. I write about what I read on public blogs, websites, news sites. Don’t want my critique, don’t write. Besides, do you really think I can’t “know” you to some degree through your writing?

Larry: Is any friendship with one’s concern about another’s eternal destiny automatically fake? Or do other factors make that friendship fake?

Bruce: By all means pray, be concerned, etc. Just don’t bother others with these things unless they ask. Just befriend people for the sake of who they are, and not based on their “need” to be won over to your peculiar flavor of Christianity. You wrongly think your “duty” and “right” to evangelize others trumps respecting them or accepting societal boundaries; that your fear of hell, love for Jesus, and commitment to the Bible supersedes the rights of others — especially the right to be left alone or not be bugged by Jesus salesmen.

Larry:You don’t believe in a God who is holy and that we’re in a lot of trouble. But I do. Shouldn’t I want to share that message with others?

Bruce: Religion is a personal matter. By all means share it, if asked. However, you are advocating befriending people so you can evangelize them; of using subversive means to gain a religious objective. That’s different, little more than a bait an switch.

Larry: Lost people often don’t want to be told they are lost. But I answer to a higher authority. And I need to do my “job” with love and care. If a bridge is out and yours is the car behind mine, isn’t warning you an act of love?

Bruce: Really? You are going to go with the lame “bridge” analogy? Just because you feel “led” doesn’t mean you should bug others. Instead of using fake friendships to evangelize people, how about letting your “little light shine?” You know, like publicly repudiating Donald Trump and his abhorrent anti-human policies and working to make the world a better place. So much good you could be doing Larry, but you waste your time trying to get people to join your club.

Larry: Why do you work so hard, Bruce, to prove Christians and Christianity wrong? I can’t know your inner motives, but could it be that you’re trying to justify your rejection of Jesus? Just a question. Blessings.

Bruce: No, you are making a f___ing judgment. I’ve written thousands and thousands of words about why I deconverted and why I’m a critic of Evangelicalism —a sect I think is a cult that psychologically (and times physically)harms people. Besides, “Why do you work so hard, Larry, to prove Christians and Christianity right? I can’t know your inner motives, but could it be that you’re trying to justify your delusional need and worship of a dead man named Jesus?” Your words, right back at ya, dude.

Of course, you think there are “other” reasons I’m an atheist, right? Cuz, the Bible says . . .

Only thing worse than fake friendships is refusing to let people tell their stories on their own terms. Everyone has a story to tell, and we should accept them at face value. I accept that you are a Christian. I would never question how you became one, why, or any other aspect of your “testimony.” Simply put, I believe you Larry when you say, “I’m a Christian.”

I’ve said all I can say on this matter.Maybe others will weigh in with their comments.

ReplyDr. Larry Dixon

    1. Bruce:
      You’re probably done with my responses, but allow me one more brief comment.

      1. It seems that no matter what I say, you’ve convinced I’m into conditional friendships. I’ve seen the damage done by misinformed Christians, and I’m trying to fight against that.

      2. I understand your point about simply being a friend of others. With no expectations. No message. No conditions. But Bruce, you were in Christianity for a long time. You know what the message is. You have rejected it. Forgive me, but you have no message that transcends this earthly (but important) life, right?

      3. Regarding your worldview, you challenge me for writing books, holding seminars, and trying to reach unbelievers with my worldview. Is that fair? Knowing what you know, wouldn’t you criticize me if I didn’t care to share the gospel with others? Can you give me the benefit of the doubt that I am trying to do what Jesus told me to do?

      4. I commend you for your mission of being a good father and grandfather, etc. At least we have that in common! But I’m also convinced there’s an eternity awaiting everyone.

      5. When I said I’m saddened that you felt you needed to judge my motives, I was not criticizing the research you do to combat Christianity. You accused me of fake friendships — based, I guess, on your past experiences with professed Christians. I’m fighting that same practice. Of course, you can “know” something about me by reading what I write, that’s true. But you can’t see my heart, nor I yours.

      6. I’m intrigued by your suggestion that Christians shouldn’t “bother others” with the gospel “unless they ask.” I’m so glad someone “bothered” me years ago with the gospel. I wasn’t smart enough to ask how I could be forgiven. I think if you were to ask some of my friends who are not yet Jesus-followers if I respect them or supersede their rights, you might be surprised.

      7. I certainly don’t want to be guilty of “bait and switch.” I’ve never appreciated that approach by used car salesmen. And I don’t want to be guilty of it either. But, Bruce, if the gospel is true (work with me here a minute?), then I am under obligation to love people into the kingdom if I can. Doesn’t that make sense?

      8. I thought my bridge-being-out analogy makes a good point. If you were in the car ahead of me, wouldn’t basic compassion for another human demand your warning me?

      Looks like you want to move on “to other targets.” Thanks for posting my responses, Bruce.

      Blessings. Larry


Posted by on March 4, 2020 in unbelief


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Fake Christians! Satire from the Babylon Bee!

U.S.—A new study is worrying pastors and other evangelical leaders, as it suggests that fewer and fewer people are pretending to be Christians than ever before.

While in years past, the vast majority of the country pretended to be Christian, that number is shrinking every year, and now only a minority of the country fakes faith in Jesus Christ.

“This is extremely troubling,” said evangelical megachurch pastor Jack Lindsey. “A decade ago, our pews were full of people who went through the motions of pretending to be Christian. But now, the fake believers are all acting like the atheists they are, and our churches are shrinking because of it. If only we could have a fake revival.”

Pastors are trying to come up with ways to combat the decline of fake Christianity, from hosting big carnivals and preaching through movie franchises to serving better coffee and naming their churches after shopping malls and retirement communities. But nothing seems to be working so far, stoking fears that fake Christianity is on its way out permanently. Some have considered preaching the gospel to the unreached, but these people are obviously nuts.

“We’re in a brave new world where people don’t even bother paying lip service to a Jesus they don’t believe in, and I’m not sure I want to live in that kind of country,” said Lindsey.


Posted by on December 15, 2019 in conversion


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Time for Another Great Quote from J.I. Packer: Today’s “Gospel”?

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Posted by on July 23, 2019 in gospel


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Colossal Truths from the Letter to the Colossians! GET BUSY GETTING GODLY! (Part 7)

We only have two posts remaining in our study of what we are calling GET BUSY GETTING GODLY. The next two challenges are found in verses 15-16 —

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Today the two challenges are:
(1) Be thankful (v. 15), and
(2) Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly (v. 16).

Have you known people who just seem to be naturally thankful? I have. But they are few and far between. Most people I know (including myself) find it far easier to complain about life and its many disappointments. BEING THANKFUL is a key virtue for the believer — and is one of the habits forsaken by the world (see Romans 1).

I don’t need to go into detail about the many blessings of life for which we should BE THANKFUL. One practice that is helping me is to occasionally (not every day) wake up and say out loud, “FOR WHAT 5 THINGS ARE YOU THANKFUL TO THE LORD TODAY?” Seriously. Even before my morning coffee, I’ve found that when I do that, my mind begins to get calibrated rightly. And my list isn’t always about huge blessings. A few days ago I even thanked the Lord that my dog Scrabble isn’t suffering anymore (we had to put him down). BE THANKFUL TODAY!

We are also to “let the message of Christ dwell among you richly.” There is much here, but the image that comes to my mind is that the Good News about Jesus shouldn’t be like a squatter who’s staying in an abandoned house uninvited. Christ’s message is the guest of honor who will be shown every courtesy and welcomed into our hearts with enthusiasm. To “dwell among you richly” means it becomes the central focus of our lives. It is the most honored guest. And it is not coming for a brief visit. It is going to DWELL in us now and forever!

Jesus is a gentleman who does not force His message on us, but awaits our invitation. Is His message dwelling among you richly today?


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Posted by on June 14, 2019 in christian life


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Some Thoughts on the Book “What’s the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian?” (Post #8) JEWS WON’T MAKE IT TO HEAVEN!

We are continuing our review of the book by the United Methodist minister Martin Thielen entitled What’s the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian? His next chapter is entitled “Jews Won’t Make It to Heaven” and he subtitles this chapter “The ultimate destiny of non-Christians is in God’s hands, and God can be trusted to do what is right.” [By the way, this expression “God can be expected to do what is right” is used by Thielen several times in his book. One suspects this is his go-to conviction when he faces some uncomfortable dogmatic statements of Scripture]

Thielen surveys three views of other religions: (1) “All religions are the same” [which they aren’t, of course], (2) “Other religions are false” [a view he strongly rejects], and (3) “Other religions are to be respected” [which he advocates].

MY RESPONSE:  Thielen rejects the view that only Christianity is true, that Christ is the only way, and that other religions are false and lead people away from God. He even quotes the liberal Jesus Seminar leader Marcus Borg who says that a text like “There is salvation in no one else” (Acts 4:12) is to be understood as poetic and devotional.  Borg writes: “To say, ‘Jesus is the only way’ is also the language of devotion.  It is the language of gratitude and love. It is like language used by lovers, as when we say to our beloved, ‘You’re the most beautiful person in the world.’ Literally? Most beautiful? Really? Such language is the poetry of devotion and the hyperbole of the heart. Poetry can express the truth of the heart, but it is not doctrine. . . . [He concludes,] We can sing our love songs to Jesus with wild abandon without needing to demean other religions.” (from Borg’s The Heart of Christianity: Rediscovering a Life of Faith, pp. 221-222).

This quote by Borg did not surprise me. He’s the one who said in a seminar at the University of South Carolina in 1998: “The notion that God’s only son came to this planet to offer his life as a sacrifice for the sins of the world, and that God could not forgive us without that having happened, and that we are saved by believing this story is simply incredible.  Taken metaphorically, this story can be very powerful.  But taken literally, it is a profound obstacle to accepting the Christian message.” He has also written: “I think the resurrection of Jesus really happened, but I have no idea if it involves anything happening to his corpse, and, therefore, I have no idea whether it involves an empty tomb, and for me, that doesn’t matter because the central meaning of the Easter experience or the resurrection of Jesus is that His followers continue to experience Him as a living reality, a living presence after His death. So I would have no problem whatsoever with archaeologists finding the corpse of Jesus. For me that would not be a discrediting of the Christian faith or the Christian tradition.”

There is a massive difference between respecting other religions and denying the exclusivity of the Christian gospel.  Fascinating that Thielen made no mention of Jesus’ statement “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me!” (Jn. 14:6). Perhaps he has a low view of the gospel of John (as do the “Jesus Seminar” scholars like Markus Borg).

Why bother with evangelism and missions if there is salvation in other religions other than biblical Christianity? Thielen has sadly abandoned the gospel in this chapter. Enough said.







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Posted by on February 15, 2019 in religions


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