CTT | Don’t Narcigete Your Church, Either

CTTToday’s Completing The Thought (CTT) post should be fairly short. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, I trust you are familiar with exegesis and eisegesis. If you are not familiar with narcigesis, it is the conflation of narcissism and eisegesis.  There is a great definition of Narcisgesis available at Apprising.org, the work of the late Ken Silva.

NARCIGESIS [nahr- si -jee’ -sis]

[(From: narcissus; 1540–50; < Latin < Greek nárkissos plant name, traditionally connected, by virtue of plant’s narcotic effects, with nárkç numbness, torpor; probably from a pre-Gk. Aegean word, but associated with Gk. narke “numbness” (see narcotic) because of the plant’s sedative effect.) (From: eisegesis; 1890–95; < Greek eisḗgesis, equivalent to eis- into + ( h ) çge- (stem of hçgeîsthai to lead) + -sis -sis {C19: from Greek eisinto, in + -egesis, as in exegesis}.)]

Common Examples of Narcigesis

furtickWe’ll start out simply with Steven Furtick. If you want a case-study on how NOT to exegete a passage of scripture but instead narcigete it, go to any book written by Furtick, or sermon preached by him. The dude wrote an entire book (and sold lots of church bible-study paraphernalia) and preached several sermons based on the narcigesis of Joshua 10:12. One. Verse.

Joshua 10:12 (ESV) At that time Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, “Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.”

Furtick then encouraged Christians that they should all pray “Sun stand still” prayers. It wasn’t a prayer, we are never taught to pray that way, God had already promised Joshua that battle, and the text itself in (verse 14) clearly states this was a unique and isolated event.

But even if you haven’t heard of Steven Furtick, I’m sure you’ve heard Hillsong’s “Oceans (where feet may fail)”, right? That song narcigetes the story of Jesus walking on the water, suggesting that God is asking each of us to walk on water. He isn’t. Many times the Story of God defeating Goliath is told in such a way that the listener plays the role of David and needs to find his 5 smooth stones, or master a skill in his “down time” doing menial tasks of watching sheep until “such a time” as the LORD would call them to use their skill (sling) to defeat the Goliath in their lives…. see where this is going? Narcegisis points to people… the Scriptures point to Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God.

The heroes of the Old Testament point us to the Messiah, God’s Anointed One, Jesus Christ. While we should seek to emulate their faith (Hebrews 11), their actions are not always commendable, nor are they a prescription for getting the same results they got. Because their actions didn’t make them chosen, their actions didn’t curry the favor of God, it was their faith. And faith doesn’t come by copying the actions of one of the heroes in the Bible, faith comes from hearing the Word of Christ (Romans 10:17). We’ve said it many times, don’t read yourself into the heroes of the Old Testament. Read yourself into the sinner that needs the Savior, sure… but not at the expense of missing the Truth of Scripture when Jesus rebuked the Pharisees by telling them, “For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me.” (John 5:30-47)

Corporate Narcigesis

It happens with churches, too. The most common area where I see this happen, is whenever a church does “a series in Acts”. This isn’t always the case, but it happens a lot more than you’d think. Even in churches claiming to engage in expository preaching. Yes, it is possible to work through a text verse by verse and still engage in Narcigesis… by having a preacher chase rabbit trails and share personal or even corporate anecdotes throughout a sermon. Even if a passage is read aloud in-context at the beginning, a preacher looking to “deepen the congregation’s understanding of the passage” can engage in narcigesis by skipping around proof-texting verses to emphasis a point that isn’t even being made by the text. In the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, many a small church preacher will read in Acts 2 how 3,000 men were added to the church and how more were being added every day and think that the key to being a blessed church is to grow in numbers. Others will look at the miracles God performed for the lame beggar in Acts 3 and think that the reason the church isn’t seeing such miracles is that we don’t have men of great faith (dare I say audacious) like Peter and John, or that we aren’t all of one heart and soul (ch 4:32) so as a church we need to focus on being more Unified and then the church will be blessed. These are all false-readings. Let’s look at how Luke introduced his work.

Acts 1:1-8 (ESV) | The Promise of the Holy Spirit

In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me;for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Yes, we call the book the Acts of the Apostles… but their acts, clearly defined by Jesus, were to be witnesses of Him. When the Apostles cast lots to select a replacement for Judas Iscariot, they narrowed the field to only those who were fellow witnesses from the beginning. The Apostle Paul was an undisputed witness of Jesus, since his encounter with Jesus produced immediate repentance. Jesus began the work, and He continued the work through His Apostles who were promised the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Promise of the Holy Spirit wasn’t limited to them:

Acts 2:38-41 (ESV)

38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself. 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying,“Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

Had Peter done anything special to earn his calling? No. Was Peter the head of the church? No. Christ is the Head of His Church, and He gave us His Apostles, the last of whom was the Apostle Paul. Don’t read your church into these texts hoping to discover some formula for building a successful church… men do not build Christ’s Church. Peter rejected these notions even as he addressed the men of Jerusalem after God miraculously healed a 40-yr old lame beggar

Acts 3:1-16 (ESV) | The Lame Beggar Healed

Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.And all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

Peter Speaks in Solomon’s Portico

11 While he clung to Peter and John, all the people, utterly astounded, ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s. 12 And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk?13 The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. 14 But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. 16 And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.

Conclusion

We need to start scrutinizing the rabbit trails and personal anecdotes that have overrun our sermons and bible studies. The occasional anecdote can be helpful in as much as it points to the Scriptures. Too often, however, these anecdotes merely engage the audience in a bit of humor, or tend to highlight the creation rather than the Creator. This needs to stop. It is my sincere belief that the vast majority of those who are guilty of this form of narcigesis do so honestly; meaning they are so caught up in poor methodology and worldly ecclesiology that they’ve bought into the lie that it is up to them to make the Word of God relevant for their hearers. Men, if you start to recognize these trends in your pastor’s sermons… remain humble and gracious, and grant him the benefit of the doubt and ask to speak with him. Women, first speak with your husband and ask him to speak to the Pastor. If you are an unwed woman, ask to speak with the pastor’s wife or the wife of an elder. To everyone, walk in grace and humility, and engage the text, the Word of God. Trust in God the Holy Spirit to open the eyes and ears of His servants. They are your overseers, after all, and they will have to give account for their stewardship.

Romans 15:1-7 (ESV) | The Example of Christ

We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

CTT | Submission to Authority

CTTToday’s Completing The Thought (CTT) post will be an examination of the scriptures regarding submission to authority in light of what is currently going on with KY County Clerk Kim Davis and what will soon take center-stage with Oregon Judge Vance Day. Please keep these national events in mind and in your prayers, because the visible church is about to be tested here in the US and we need to be ready.

This is a topic that was addressed in detail by both the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans, and by the Apostle Peter. Please notice that in both cases, the instructions for submission to authority come after the teaching for what it means to live as Christians.

Let us begin with looking at Paul’s instruction to the Romans. For the sake of establishing context, let us begin in Chapter 12, verse 9.

Romans 12:9-21 (ESV) | Marks of the True Christian

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 13:1-7 (ESV) | Submission to the Authorities

13 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

Notice the hard instructions come before the mention of authority? I mean, really… the truly tough instructions on loving our enemy, blessing our enemy, and not taking vengeance on our enemy apply to all of our walk. Does this mean that every governing authority has the right to dictate to us our theology, morality, and understanding of God’s Word? Absolutely not. It does mean that if we pay taxes, we follow the laws of men that don’t lead us into sin, and we submit when their laws place us into custody. Let us look at how Paul walked this out.

Acts 23:1-5 (ESV)

23 And looking intently at the council, Paul said, “Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience up to this day.” And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Are you sitting to judge me according to the law, and yet contrary to the law you order me to be struck?” Those who stood by said, “Would you revile God’s high priest?”And Paul said, “I did not know, brothers, that he was the high priest, for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’”

Paul wasn’t wrong, what Ananias had commanded was indeed contrary to the law. However, Ananias was indeed the high priest, and Paul paid him due respect and honor for the authority he held. Paul wasn’t wrong. Ananias wasn’t right. However, Paul knew what was written, and that Paul was not to speak evil of a ruler of his people. If you read through the accounts in Acts, Paul remains imprisoned here despite not being guilty of breaking any laws of Rome nor of the Jews. Though Paul is innocent, he remains submitted to their authority to detain him. Why did Paul submit to wrongful imprisonment? Luke records for us why:

Acts 23:11 (ESV) 11 The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.”

Paul is eventually put to death in Rome. He spends years in prison, writing letters to the churches, letters we now hold as God-Breathed scriptures. Paul did not capitulate to the opinions of men regarding Godliness or the Gospel. Yet he was submitted to the governing authorities. I have to be honest, how the peddlers of the prosperity gospel get away with their false teaching is beyond me, except that they never allow their victims to read the New Testament in context. Let’s take a look at what Paul includes in the introduction to his letter to the church in Philippi.

Philippians 1:12-26 (ESV)

The Advance of the Gospel

12 I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ.14 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. 15 Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will.16 The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.

To Live Is Christ

Yes, and I will rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell.23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.

Did you catch that comment in verse 20? It was Paul’s eager expectation and hope that he will not be at all ashamed… he was praying for courage so that in his body, whether by life or by death, Christ will be honored. May we have the same clarity of mind and confidence in Jesus Christ our Lord when we face such trials and tribulation.

Now, let us look to how the Apostle Peter taught this matter in his letter.

1 Peter 2:1-12 (ESV) | A Living Stone and a Holy People

So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture:

“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
    a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,

“The stone that the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone,”

and

“A stone of stumbling,
    and a rock of offense.”

They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

Peter comes into this chapter with a reminder of the Gospel, of the distinction between those who believe and those who do not. Finally, Peter charges Christians to be a people for God’s own possession, that we may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness. He urges us to abstain from the passions of the flesh… and he calls us sojourners and exiles. From what? From this world in which we still live but are no longer a part. Peter charges us to keep our conduct honorable, so that when we are accused as evildoers, they’ll see our good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. Notice that Peter isn’t promising that if we keep our conduct honorable everyone will like us.

1 Peter 2:18-25 (ESV) |  Submission to Authority

13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. 19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

It should be noted that when Peter is talking about the emperor as supreme, Peter was martyred during the reign of Nero, an active persecutor of Christians. And from where did Peter draw his instruction to the saints? From the example of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.  Peter then brings it right back around to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus, the Son of the Living God, had done NOTHING wrong, yet He submitted even unto death, a horrible death on the cross for our sins, and for God’s Glory.

Conclusion

The Gospel of Jesus Christ can never be the occasion for rebellion and lawlessness. We don’t get to use the Gospel as a reason to overthrow our government in a coup. It is not the role of the church to take over the government. Neither is it a mandate for Christians to run and hide when the law of the land criminalizes Christianity or the Word of God. We are called to stand, in submission to authority, while testifying of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. A time will come when such submission will mean imprisonment for most Christians. The day will come when what is happening to Pastor Saeed Abedini in Iran is happening here. This world is passing away, nothing will remain. All will be brought to an end, and then the Judgement. Those who by grace through faith are part of the Resurrection, we shall see the new heaven and the new earth. Do not place your hope in this temporal life. Instead, let us place our hope where the Apostle Peter placed his.

1 Peter 1:3-9 (ESV) | Born Again to a Living Hope

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Friday Sermon | “We Will Not Bow” by John MacArthur

spriteToday’s sermon is quite possibly one of the most important sermons for the Church to hear this summer. If you are a part of the Body of Christ (regardless of denomination), I urge you to listen to this sermon in full. John MacArthur addresses the current tide of apostasy (rebellion) against God in the visible church here in America.

Sermon Video

Sermon Audio

http://webmedia.gty.org/sermons/High/80-425.mp3?x-source=website&x-type=download

Sermon Transcript

A lot is happening at a very rapid rate. And with all the discussion that’s been going on, I’ve been kind of eager to get to you, and maybe help to give you a perspective. And I know that there have been comments made from this pulpit—exceptionally helpful, clear, well-chosen comments on the issues that face our country today. But I need to just kind of add some of my own insights and perceptions, and then direct you to a particular portion of Scripture.

This country talks a lot about terrorist attacks—and rightly so. Almost anybody in America can give you some kind of a listing of the most destructive acts of terror that have happened in our country. But let me suggest to you this: The two greatest attacks of terror on America were perpetrated by the Supreme Court. Not by any Muslim, but by the Supreme Court of the United States. The first one was the legalizing of abortion. Subsequent to that, there have been millions of babies slaughtered in the wombs of their mothers. It’s incalculable to even comprehend that. The blood of those lives cries out from the ground for divine vengeance on this nation.

The second great act of terror perpetrated by the Supreme Court was the legalization of same-sex marriage. The destruction of human life in the womb—in a sense, the destruction of motherhood—and now the destruction of the family itself. No bomb, no explosion, no attack, and no assault on people physically can come anywhere near that kind of terrorism. Our country is being terrorized by the people most responsible to protect it—those who are to uphold the law.

Just a few comments beyond that. No human court has the authority to redefine morality. But this human court has said murder is not murder; and marriage is not marriage; and family is not family. They have usurped the authority that belongs only to God, who is the creator of life, marriage, and family. Any and all attempts to define morality differently than God has is a form of rebellion and blasphemy—blasphemy against God, against His holy nature, and His holy law, and His holy people… [Download PDF of Transcript]

Grace To You Website

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge